Tag Archives: baking

I’m still here. . .just a little distracted. . .

Hello, Readers (all 20 or so of you).  You’ve been on my mind, but I’ve been absent from the blogosphere because I’ve been busy rocking widowhood, continuing to get my feet under me as a new nurse (yay, I survived Year One!), playing darts, and drinking beer (responsibly, in moderation).  I’m still too lazy/distracted to write much, so here’s a favorite recipe to tide you over until inspiration strikes again (apparently writing about dead kittens tapped me out for awhile).

Beef Pastry Pie (from the Joy of Cooking)


¾ cup shortening

2 cups AP flour

1 tsp salt

½ tsp paprika

Dash of cayenne powder

½ cup grated cheddar cheese (the sharper, the better)

4-5 T cold water (super cold like my heart!)


1.5 lb ground beef

1 small onion, diced

2 tsp Worcestershire sauce

A dash of leftover strongly brewed coffee

1.5 cups dry bread cubes (stuffing mix works fine for this)

1 can beef consommé (you can use bouillon or broth but undiluted consommé works best)

0.25 tsp each dried thyme and marjoram

Crumble the beef into a skillet, and cook on medium with the onion until the beef is no longer pink and the onion is soft/translucent.  Drain off extra grease, set aside.  While you are doing this, prepare the pastry – mix together the dry ingredients, then cut in shortening and cheese until the mixture forms pea-sized balls, then, one at a time, add tablespoons of the icy water until the dough reaches a soft, cohesive state.  Pat down into a ball, then divide roughly in half; flatten each half into a ½” thick round disk and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Now, back to the beef filling – in a bowl, combine the remaining ingredients, toss together and let sit for a few minutes so the bread can absorb the liquid.  Add the beef/onion mixture and toss to combine.  Set aside until the chilled pastry is ready.

Next, roll out the bottom crust of your pastry dough and line a 9’ deep dish glass pie plate, then fill with the beef mixture, then top with the remaining rolled-out pastry dough.  Crimp and seal edges, then cut vents in any pattern you choose.  If desired, brush with an egg wash.

Bake for 45 minutes at 375° F.  Cool completely. Serves 6-8. (Goes great with dark beer, or beer of any sort. . .or a frosty glass of milk.)

Beef Pastry Pie


Look before you Brioche

This.  This is what happens when I get up, and try to create something in the kitchen prior to caffeine ingestion.  Yep.  Set out to make plain ol’ white bread from my Betty Crocker cookbook, and instead wound up with brioche dough.  (This is what happens when you set something on the book to keep it open while you add ingredients and somehow, after the yeast proofing step, you wind up making the brioche recipe on the right-hand page, not the basic bread recipe on the left-hand page.  Oops.) Perhaps the step calling for five eggs and one egg white should have been a warning.  Nevertheless, I now have a nice big batch of brioche dough, but no brioche pan.

Hence, a plead for help on the internets.  Never despair, I am usually not the only one experiencing any particular baking emergency, so help usually is readily forthcoming.  Along with a quick giggle result showing lovely brioche pans I could purchase from Williams-Sonoma or Amazon, is a helpful thread on finecooking.com that should save me: Brioche Pan Substitute Discussion

Now I need only decide whether to make loaves of bread using the “six balls technique,” or make tiny muffin-pan brioches.  Meh, I think I’ll go with the former.  I only have a half hour to decide, because I only have quick-rising yeast.  The suspense!  The drama!

All this because I was too lazy to drive to the store for bread.  That should teach me!

PS:  I neglected to add the butter specified by the recipe.  When you make mistakes, go big or go home!

Almond Biscotti – Slob Gourmet!

Are you uncoordinated in the kitchen?  Just as likely to wind up with the rolling pin up your nose as on the floured surface?  Don’t like structure?  This is the cookie for you , my friend!  These biscotti are crispy, sturdy and ideal for dunking in coffee.  There’s no need to worry about over-indulging in these cookies, because their sturdy nature makes that about as likely as a zwieback-speed-eating-contest (as in, not likely).

So, here you go:

Ingredients: 2 cups AP flour, 1 cup sugar, 1 tsp baking powder, 1/8 tsp salt, 3 large eggs, 2 T rum (I prefer the 7-year-old dusty bottle of Captain Morgan’s hidden away for just this occasion), 1 tsp almond extract, 1 tsp vanilla, 1 cup chopped, toasted almonds

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F (275 if convection oven).  Line a baking sheet (or two, if you want smaller cookies) with parchment paper.  Combine dry ingredients (except almonds) and set aside.  Whisk eggs and liquid ingredients in mixer or food processor until well blended, then add dry ingredients (except almonds) and mix until combined.  Blend in almonds.  The dough will be quite sticky at this point – no worries as that’s what you want.  Really.

Scrape the dough out into parchment-paper-lined sheet pan.  Flour your hands (and the floor, and the dog, and your shirt, if you’re like me) and shape the dough into a long, flat loaf about 5″ x 10″ – no extra points will be awarded for neatness, so don’t bother.

Unbaked Biscotti DoughBake in preheated oven approximately 50 minutes, until dry and firm.  Remove from oven and cool for 10 minutes.  Your “loaf” will still look messy.  No worries.

Using a long, serrated knife (a bread knife is best.  Ignore suggestions from your spouse to go get the reciprocating saw from the garage.  Ha ha.), slice the loaf into 1/2″ wide diagonal slices.  Lay the slices, cut side down, on the baking sheet, bake for 20 minutes, then turn (the cookies, just in case this is unclear) and bake again for 20 minutes, or until the cookies are a golden light brown.  Cool completely before storing.

Finished Biscotti

Bust out the coffee and these biscotti with the good Denby ware and a yummy textbook for a deliciously dreary afternoon of studying.  Will I ever, ever be finished with studying?  Probably not. . .

No-Knead Artisan Bread – OK, I’ll Try It!

I love bread.  Nothing matches the smell of bread baking to make a house feel like home.  (Argh, cliche time!)

One problem. . .I am terrible at it.  Precision isn’t my strong suit unless it concerns medication administration (good thing, right?) and grammar (when I feel like it, I’m a tremendous grammar snob).  Good baking, especially of yeast breads, requires some precision.  I just wander off and lose interest, or forget a step, and before you know it?  Flat, heavy, uninteresting loaves of bread emerge from my oven.  It’s just disappointing!

However, I ran across a recipe for no-knead, artisan bread in one of the local fishrags (that’s newspaper to those of you that actually still read one) that intrigued me.  So, I’m giving it a whirl.  If it works, I’ll share the step-by-step, of course giving credit where due to the original recipe.  It’s rising right now. . .I’m hopeful of avoiding disaster.

Speaking of disaster, do you have a plan should one strike?  Visit http://www.ready.gov/make-a-plan for some hints.  And don’t forget to plan for the needs of your pets.  This can be overlooked.

So, if I say no more on the topic of home-baked no-knead artisan bread, you may assume that it didn’t turn out well.  So, stay tuned. . .


Dutch Apple Cake


Maybe it’s that I’m no longer being actively tortured by nursing school (online BSN program is keeping me busy, but I no longer lose 5-10 hours/week driving to/from campus and/or clinical) – I’m rediscovering my love for baking, particularly recipes I haven’t made since, oh, MTV was cool.  Here’s one of my favorites:

Dutch Apple Cake – recipe cheerfully liberated when I was a teenager from my mother’s ancient Better Homes and Gardens cookbook. (Reading under the covers with a flashlight so I wouldn’t get caught with it. You’re welcome.)

Preheat oven to 400 (375 convection)

1 cup flour
1.5 tsp baking powder (I use Calumet)
0.25 tsp salt
*sugar (as sweet as 0730, or 1930, depending on what shift you work)
*butter (you can use margarine, but I detest that stuff)
0.25 cup raisins (grapes that spent a wee bit too much time on the tanning bed)
1 egg, well beaten (like my spirit after nursing school)
0.25 milk (just regular milk, not the milk of human kindness-save that for work)
0.5 tsp cinnamon (do not inhale. this is bad. you might die.)
0.25 tsp nutmeg (couldn’t find mine today, not exactly a crisis)
3 cups peeled apple slices (although I think one could leave them peeled and be just as happy. In fact, research indicates one’s gut flora would prefer it, so they can party with it)

Mix flour, baking powder, salt and 2 tbsp sugar. Cut in 1/3 cup butter (Whoops, looks like I “accidentally” doubled that today. Was delicious, not sorry.) Add raisins and combined egg and milk, blend well. Spread in buttered (because you can never have too much butter) 10 x 6 x 2 (or 9″ round, or 9×9 or 8×8) pan. Arrange apple wedges fancily on batter (sneakily gobbling down any extraneous wedges while the dog watches, drooling). Brush with 2 tbsp melted butter, then sprinkle with spices mixed w/2 tbsp sugar. Bake at for 30-40 minutes. Cut in squares and serve warm. Yum!