Pizza Rustica Served with Green Beans

Pizza Rustica Served with Green Beans

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Pizza Rustica

I was happy to see this on our schedule. I like to discover new "meal" recipes. I always love sweets, but my energy and time is limited and healthy meal preparation needs to be priority for me.

This was a different combination with the sweet crust and savory filling. I am not sure it would be a favorite for me, but it offers a nice variety to the meal repertoire. It needs something with a little crunch to balance the textures, so I served it with fresh, lightly steamed green beans.

My girlfriend and I had just taught ourselves how to make ricotta and mozzarella cheeses, so using the very fresh cheese was an added bonus!

I found that after chilling overnight, it served more easily and was just as yummy.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Irish Soda Bread

I had intended on making this bread last week, but life got in the way and I had to wait until Tuesday morning to finally bake. I had soaked raisins in whiskey to add to the dough. It was simple to put together, only four ingredients. I had a pretty sticky glob of dough, but was afraid to add flour, as the comment regarding the bread drying out and becoming hard just within a few hours after baking stopped me. I didn't want a hard loaf to throw to the chickens. I wasn't able to really cut an X to let the devil out of the bread, so ours is a bit devilish!
I have been cheating since I was so late on my baking. I have been peeking at all the posts while my bread has been baking. There were some very nice looking loaves and I was relieved that someone else had a sticky dough. I am starving and anxious to pull it out of the oven, but I will go do chores around the ranch and allow it to bake and cool.
It turned out fantastic. I will tolerate sticky dough from now on! The raisins are terrific in it, slathered with butter. Yum! I will remember this one when the pantry is low, so simple.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012


I chose a combination of dried pineapple, cherries, and blueberries with pecans, walnuts and hazelnuts. Dried fruit is always a challenge to find organic to avoid the pesticide concentration. I also decided to use Nutella, as I was unable to find a lekvar and wasn't up to making my own.

The dough seemed a little sticky, so I put it in the fridge to make it easier to divide in half as instructed. That did the trick. I always have trouble rolling dough into "shapes." The end pieces are always reserved for me as they are likely mis-shapened!

It seemed like a lot of cinnamon and sugar, but I followed the directions. The first batch I forgot the egg wash and over baked them, waiting for the sugar to carmelize. But the second batch I pulled out after 25 minutes and didn't worry about the carmelization. The rate at which the second batch disappeared compared to the first confirmed the success of the second batch.

I still have two more logs to bake, and hopefully I will discover the carmelization soon. I was surprised at how tasty these were. I am not a big cinnamon and sugar fan, but I seemed to be drawn to "one more" after tasting my first rugelach. I liked the idea of trying something I'd never even heard of before, but of course I don't have anything to compare as to the true success of this baking challenge! If the next couple batches disappear even faster, I will take that as a mark of success.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Chocolate Truffle Tartlets

After reviewing the recipe for these tartlets, I decided the tool I would purchase next would be some tartlet pans with removeable bottoms. I found some 4 1/2" pans and ordered them. I waited impatiently as they arrived four days after their anticipated delivery date. My intention was to prepare the tartlets for Valentine's and also as a birthday gift for a friend that same day.

I prepared the crusts first. I had no problem with the crust made with the food processor. I was able to manipulate it into the necessary divisions for my 6 pans. In retrospect, I should have just used 5 of the pans, as the crust dough had to be spread a little thin for all 6 pans. I perservered and was able to press in all six crusts and set overnight in the fridge to chill.

After getting everyone off to school and work, I baked the crusts and let them cool. The house smelled "yummy." I always love the scents of baking in the house. I got started on the filling. I saved the egg whites for my daughter's breakfasts for the week, so nothing went to waste. The chickens are finally laying, so I was pleased that I had enough fresh eggs again.

Once the crusts were cooled thoroughly, I popped them out of the pans. All were fine, albiet delicate, except one that the sides stuck and when pressing the bottom of the crust, it began to tear and crack apart. I smashed the pieces back into the tart pan with the bottom to assist in the removal later. I figured this would be mine :)

The tarts were filled and placed into the oven to bake. I checked to see how they were doing and realized that a few of the crusts had broken under the weight of the filling. The filling was oozing out on those, but there were a few that held their own!

After cooling, the tart in the pan was easily removed and turned out to be one of the better looking of the bunch. I believe the problem with that individual was it was too thick in the center and the sides were to thin making them fragile.

I made a batch of home made vanilla ice cream to serve with the tartlets. The final product was not fully appreciated after the heavy dinner of homemade pasta with a gorgonzola spinach cream sauce with steak strips! We were so full! I think a light dinner salad followed by the tartlets would have worked better for our Valentine's dinner.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

White Bread

I was very excited when I received my book in the mail, Baking with Julia, by Dorie Greenspan. The illustrations are beautiful. I curled up on the couch and started reading through the first section of the book. I love to cook, but haven’t had any real guidance other than trial and error. I’m still in the “ignorance is bliss” stage of baking! Although some of the recipes look intimidating, I am hopeful I will be able to turn out some beautiful baked goods, that are delicious as well.

I bought myself a scraper for my first project! My husband always says, “you have to have the right tool for a job!” Besides I have always wanted one… I pulled out my huge wooden cutting board, uncovered my giant mixer, and lined up my ingredients. The day was a gorgeous sunny desert day, and the sun was streaming in through the kitchen blinds, making a well-lit work space.

This recipe put my mixer to its first real vigorous and extended test. I was thrilled to find out that it could handle such a laborious task. The directions and my results all fell into place. The warnings before the dough was ready to fall apart were reassuring. Everything went very well and having the dough rising in my sunny kitchen was so wonderful. The back door was open and I could hear the ducks and chickens squawking in their yard. All was well out here in the desert.

I chose to put some peanut butter on the second loaf. My family puts peanut butter on everything. I’ve learned to accept it. I still get a little annoyed when they want to put it on breakfast crepes, but if I load one with fruits and cream before they pull out their knives, they get at least one without their old stand-by.
I turned the loaves out on a cooling rack and left them for the afternoon. When I cut into the peanut butter loaf, the chunks of peanut butter fell out of the slice and left holes in the bread. I ended up making French toast out of the remainder of that loaf and left that as a lesson learned. I made an additional two loaves, one to go with a spaghetti dinner and another for a neighbor that always has something from her garden to share. I saved the prettiest for her. And yet another pair because the family was asking for more.

I am not a white bread eater, so I didn't go gaga for these loaves. However, there is something about a fresh baked loaf of bread, no matter what type, that makes it just that much more delicious. I am so happy to have the familiarity and confidence with this recipe. I thought it was fantastic, warm and buttered with the spaghetti dinner. The family gave it thumbs up, so it will get a little check and through time the page will be spattered with flour and eventually the wet-then-dried spots will have a special wrinkle on the page making it easy to find.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Preliminary Preparations for a New Project

My intention is to participate in "Tuesdays with Dorie," starting in the month of February. I have ordered my book, "Baking with Julia" by Dorie Greenspan. I have surfed around the site to glean any more information than I heard on the NPR interview yesterday. I am looking forward to learning and hopeful that I will be able to squeeze the time from my day to accomplish some baking.