Cran-Brie Eyetarts!

19 Oct

My submission for Serious Eats and Pepperidge Farms’ Puff Pastry Contest!

Caption:

o/~ I always feel like / somebody’s watching meee… o/~

These are made with puff pastry (natch), a quick from-scratch cranberry sauce with a nice pepper jelly kick, and brie on top! Full recipe and such to come after the submission deadline for the contest is over (more because I have to go out of town tonight than because of any worries vis-à-vis copycats or whatever, though).

In the meantime, have some more pictures!

Three little eye tarts, all in a row…

Sorry for the blurriness, the sweet and spicy kick of the cranberry sauce and the ooey gooey meltiness of the cheese mixed with the buttery flakiness of the pastry made my hands shake…yeah, I’ll go with that story. <.<

MONSTROUSLY delicious! 6:

I’ll be back after this weekend with more details! Until then…

Eye’ll be seeing you! 8D

Mango Mousse Pie

28 Aug

29/08/12: Edited to add tasting notes, right before the recipe header. I realized I’d forgotten to do so in my hurry to get this post sent in on time. ^^;

Like Pac-Man, only more delicious!

It seems these days that the only thing that can get me to post an actual recipe is a Tea Time Treats Challenge from Karen at Lavender and Lovage and Kate at What Kate Baked—and even then I did miss 2 months and only barely got last one (and this one) in on time. Sighhhh…I’m so bad at this blogging thing! This month it’s Picnic Pies, which immediately brought to mind my current favorite go-to pie.

Oh, I’ve also changed my layout, since the other one was really designed for someone who takes food photos much more frequently than I. I now have most-of-the-time access to a camera, but I’m still so bad at taking pictures of food before I eat it! It’s a problem.

Particularly with this recipe, based on this excellent recipe courtesy of Lauren Weisenthal at always-awesome Serious Eats. I have made this recipe…I’ve lost track, I think 5 or 6 times since I first discovered the recipe. The first one didn’t go over too well, but *I* thought it tasted good. I think it was more a problem of audience—one friend doesn’t like mangoes and the other doesn’t like the texture of mousse, I really should have done my research first! But, I’ve done it a number of times since for my family, and it’s ALWAYS been a hit, even with extended family. My aunt who’s trained in French cooking even asked me for the recipe!

While I love the way it tastes, I also love it because it’s easy, although it’s going to be less easy for me now that Food Lion is folding Bottom Dollar back into the Food Lion label—and getting rid of the AMAZING Hispanic frozen food section that caused me to love Bottom Dollar so. Why is that a problem for this recipe, you ask? Because, while you can make it with fresh mangos or (I suppose) frozen mango chunks or the like, I’ve always had wonderful results making it with Goya’s frozen mango pulp.

Lovely stuff.

I love it so much that when I made this pie for my family in Houston, I drove my poor cousins crazy, or rather forced them to drive me around looking for this stuff (or, well, anything in the same format). They live a ways out from Houston proper, so it was actually harder than one would think! Fortunately, Food Town came to the rescue, and not just because that’s an awesome name for a grocery store (although it definitely is).

But yes. I used to be able to get it from Bottom Dollar, which I thought was awesome, but now I can still find it at the international market in my area—so if you have a good local international market (or a Food Town or FoodMaxx, which has it in Winchester where my parents live), you should be good to go! Otherwise, consider using fresh mangoes or frozen mango chunks and a food processor. Or, if other fruit pulps are available to you, you may want to try those instead.

Where was I? Oh right, there was a recipe involved in all of this. ^^ Here you go!

This recipe is the version on Serious Eats, with my notes, observations, and recommendations added (WITHOUT noting when, because I am a horrible person and it’s already late and I don’t want to spend even more time worrying about tags).

Tasting notes: The mango mousse comes out as much lighter and less sweet than you would think. If you like it sweeter, add a little more honey rather than more sugar; it gives it a more rounded, dewy sweetness, almost tropical. The mousse as-is is so refreshing, it nearly sparkles—if you have leftover mousse after filling the pie crust, as I often do, SAVE IT! It’s fantastic on its own and doesn’t even really need to be in a pie crust—I just put it in one as a sort of check against eating far, far too much of it.😄 When it comes to pie crusts, I recommend Marie Callender’s Frozen Deep-Dish Pie Crust not because I’m paid to or anything, but because the filling has a tendency to overfill thinner pie crusts, and in addition, their crust has a very rich, buttery, eggy taste that balances the light and fresh mousse without overwhelming it, like a cloud being wrapped in a soft fleece blanket. Er, it doesn’t taste like blanket, though. ;D

Mango Mousse Pie

For Tea Time Treats’ August Picnic Pies Challenge

Did you forget what it looked like? I nearly did. ^^;

Cook Time: 45 minutes (more if you’re making your own pie dough and/or using fresh mangoes/mango chunks)
Serves: Depends on how many pie-lovers you’re serving. It can go pretty quickly! You can also double the recipe if you want to make two pies.
Special Equipment: 9-inch pie pan. Food processor if making mango pulp from scratch. In addition, I would HIGHLY recommend an electric hand mixer that has a whisk attachment. But if you’re less awful at whipping cream by hand than I am, by all means, don’t worry about it (I am VERY VERY BAD at whipping cream with anything else, including the normal beater attachments). ^^

Ingredients:

  • One half recipe Easy Pie Dough, shaped and chilled in a pie plate, OR frozen or refrigerated pie crust of your choice (I recommend Marie Callender’s deep dish)
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons powdered gelatin, bloomed in 1 ounce cold water
  • 13 ounces strained mango puree (made from fresh or frozen blended mangoes or store-bought puree; Goya’s pulp comes in 14-oz packages—I just pour the extra ounce into the whipping cream I top the pie with. If using frozen pulp or puree, put it in the fridge or leave it out on the counter for a little bit beforehand to thaw)
  • 5 ounces granulated sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 12 ounces heavy whipping cream (do not use Cool Whip or the like unless you’re awesome at food science and know that it won’t make a difference in the final texture—I can’t guarantee that and really like the way the real stuff tastes)
  • 1/2 teaspoon orange flower water (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon honey (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla (optional)
  • 4 ounces heavy whipping cream, for topping (optional; you can definitely use Cool Whip or the like for this one, but you’ve already bought 12 ounces, so why bother?)

Directions:

  1. If using pie dough recipe above from Serious Eats: Adjust oven rack to lower middle position and preheat oven to 425°F. When oven is ready, line chilled pie shell with foil or parchment paper and fill with weights (I reuse dried beans for this), and bake on the lowest rack of the oven for 15 minutes. Remove weights and liner, turn pie, and bake until the bottom crust is a light golden brown, about 10 minutes more. Remove pie shell from oven and allow to cool completely.
  2. If using prebought pie crust: Follow directions on box. Don’t forget to use a fork to put holes along the bottom and sides of the crust so it doesn’t puff up and use up valuable mango-mousse-holding space! I like to set my temperature a little lower than the box says and let it go for a little longer, but that’s more because of varying oven temperatures and my preference for a less-crunchy crust than anything important.
  3. Meanwhile, put a mixing bowl (preferably metal) and the whisk attachment in the freezer. Set up an ice bath large enough to accommodate a small saucepan. Bloom gelatin in cold water by stirring it together and allowing to sit for 5 minutes. In a small saucepan, combine 1/2 mango puree and sugar and stir over low heat until the sugar dissolves completely and mixture is hot to the touch (I like to caramelize the sugar first, but it adds to the heating time and I can’t say as I’ve really noticed a difference). Add salt, and cinnamon, vanilla, honey, and orange flower water, if using. Add gelatin and stir well, making sure that it has completely dissolved into the mixture. Remove from heat, stir in other half of the mango puree. Place mixture over the ice bath and stir frequently. The goal is to cool the mixture, but avoid the gelatin setting up unevenly, creating lumps. Once the mixture is cool, you can remove the saucepan from it. I’ve had decent luck without the ice bath, but I tend to use it anyway because I end up using the ice bath for the cream, too.
  4. Speaking of which…time to whip the cream! Take the mixing bowl and whisk attachment from the freezer and whip 12 ounces of the cream to firm peaks over the same ice bath.
  5. Once mango mixture is cool, fold in 12 ounces of whipped cream, taking care not to deflate the mousse, until it is of uniform consistency. Pour mousse into cooled pie shell and smooth out the top. Place pie in the fridge for at least two hours (overnight is ideal) to set up. You may have extra filling left over; this is perfectly fine! 6:
  6. When ready to serve, remove pie from fridge and whip the remaining 4 ounces of cream, adding any leftover mango pulp/puree that you may have. Pipe or smear the whipped cream over top of the pie and serve immediately!

(I just noticed that neither of the pictures I’ve uploaded to this post were from times I topped the pie with the 4 ounces of leftover whipped cream. Oops. ^^)

Alternatively, jury-rig a way to chill the pie in the Pikachu cake mold your sister brought back from Japan and decorate with melted chocolate and strawberries!

Keeping the dream alive

15 Jul

The dream of updates, that is.

Another month has crawled by, and with it, the utter lack of any updates. This is not to say I haven’t been cooking—since last post, I did indeed eventually grill those lamb ribs (lamb breast is a pain of a cut to dress, by the way, though tasty), bake olive bread cookies (can’t think of anything else to call them) to the faculty luncheon, make another fantastic mango mousse pie (courtesy of this delicious, easy and consistently awesome recipe at Serious Eats, and once again make the crispy-skinned, juicy, and tender Puerto Rican tour de pork known as pernil (pork shoulder) with arroz con gandules (rice with pigeon peas) and a key lime pie for a friend’s birthday…so it’s not that I haven’t been cooking. I just have a problem getting pictures of the food while it’s still looking nice. D:

This post is even more delayed because the first time I tried to post it, my browser crashed, and I had completely forgotten that WordPress, bless its inanimate little soul, saves draft versions of posts, so I have it after all.

I’ll be going out of town in a couple of weeks, which means I’ll be cooking less as I will have to eat up all of the leftovers in the fridge first (and I still don’t quite have the “cooking for *not* an army” thing down yet). Still, I do have access to my roommate’s camera now, so if I do come up with something…I definitely need to take a picture of *something* I’ve made, if nothing else because the tarte tatin close-up that is currently serving as my header image doesn’t, ah, look very delicious the way it fits here.

A time to post…

5 Jun

…is not what I have right now.

But since, surprisingly enough (for me), I still haven’t forgotten about this blog, I felt it would be good practice to post anyway. We’re in the home stretch of the school year here right now, and so things are pretty crazy, as most of you can understand. My classes are tearing through review this week, and their exams are next week already (eeep!), so I have to marshal my energy and resources to make sure the vast majority of them pass.

For example, I made a tasty beef bacon-tomato-vodka-sauce fettucine for dinner tonight after my workout, but the food-sharer and I were too hungry to take pictures (and while it was tasty, it wasn’t all that photogenic), so we devoured the whole thing in a few minutes flat. Even without pictures, I’m reluctant to post a recipe since (aside from the lack of time issue) the sauce was sort of a “semi-homemade” affair involving my usual ingredient-tinkering chicanery (yes, it’s that bad even with premade stuff).

Anyhow, there’s still a light at the end of the tunnel! While the weekend right after the kids are out of school is already taken (ugh @_@), there’s still one more weekend to count on, and I plan on making the sadly neglected lamb ribs (mentioned in the last post) then. Hopefully I’ll be able to 1) follow through, and 2) take some nice pics as they’re cooking. Mmmmmm…

And hey, if not that, there’s a faculty luncheon on the docket next week as well. Looks like everything is coming up cooking!

Teaser post

28 May

In the interests of trying to get a huge readership that will start small, boom in a big way, and then eventually become disillusioned and jaded about this blog and leave en masse, I should mention that I’m about to go to a party in which I will be making grilled lamb ribs with a combo rub I made myself, and elote. Pictures potentially to come.😄

[EDIT: Update: Apparently there was already “too much food” at the cookout (I didn’t think that could be a thing, but apparently it is, so whatever), and thus I am left without any deliciousness to report. However, I still have all the ingredients, so hopefully I can get myself together to tackle these projects at a later date. Sigh…]

Flower Power Tea Cookies

28 May MySpace cookie shot
MySpace cookie shot

Dare you eat…the forbidden cookies!?

Better late than never? The deadline for this month’s Tea Time Treats challenge, hosted by Karen at Lavender and Lovage, happens to be…uh…today…I considered giving it up and not doing it at all, but hey, if not now, when?

I’m not normally one to do the cooking/baking challenge things, primarily because, until earlier today/yesterday, I didn’t have a food blog. I also don’t have a camera, so unfortunately pictures will have to wait until I can borrow my roommate’s camera (I’m also not great at cooking for aesthetics—I’d say it’s because flavor is more important, but let’s face it, I’m just lazy). Still, this month’s Tea Time Treats challenge was floral-themed, and when you say “flower” plus “tea” it reminds me of a recipe I made about 4-5 years ago on a whim. I had just started really cooking that year, and the idea of incorporating tea into food blew my mind a little. I remember making these jasmine tea cookies from teachef.com and being pretty impressed with them. I’ve meant to make them again since, but never quite get around to it. This time, I wanted to follow through with this plan, and incidentally tinker with the recipe a little, since I’ve gotten a lot better at messing around with recipes over the years.

For starters, I added rose tea to the mix, and because I’m fortunate enough to have both rosewater and jasmine essence in the house, decided to add those for a double-trouble flower-power flavor punch (say that three times fast!). The tea I used was all loose tea from the excellent Carytown Teas in Richmond, VA; I used Rose, Jasmine Orange Blossom, Versailles Lavender and Lychee in the cookies (I pared it down to just jasmine and rose in the recipe so as not to overwhelm anyone, but if willing to experiment, Earl or Lady Grey would make an OK stand-in for the Versailles Lavender).

These little numbers are addictively chewy right out of the oven, and cool to a cakey, soft, almost scone-like consistency afterwards. They are intensely floral; biting into a warm one is like walking into a botanical garden on the first sunny day of spring (or…uh…like biting into a flower-flavored cookie ;P). These may not be your stereotypical “tea cookie,” but they sure are great for dipping into your cuppa, whether that’s one of tea, milk, or even coffee.

Big thanks to Karen and Kate! Thanks to this awesome challenge theme, I finally got off my duff and 1) started a recipe/food blog like I’ve been tossing around for months and 2) entered a cooking/baking challenge like I’ve been claiming I would do “one of these days.”😄

Flower Power Jasmine Rose Tea Cookies

(for Tea Time Treats’ May Floral Challenge)

Jasmine Rose Tea Cookies, now with dramatic lighting and MySpace angle!

Cook Time: 35 minutes
Serving Size: 1 dozen or so, depending on your preferred cookie size

Ingredients

  • ½ cup unsalted butter (melted)
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 ½ tbsps. honey
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 egg
  • 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsps. jasmine tea leaves
  • 2 tsps. rose tea leaves
  • ½ tsp. finely crushed jasmine and rose tea leaves
  • 1 tsp. Earl or Lady Grey tea leaves, plus ¼ tsp. finely crushed Earl or Lady Grey tea leaves (optional)
  • ½ tsp. baking powder
  • ¾ tsp. salt
  • ½ tsp. rosewater
  • ½ tsp. jasmine essence
  • 1 ½ tbsps. cocoa powder, cinnamon, or sugar, for sprinkling (optional)
  • ½ cup mini dark chocolate or cinnamon chips, for topping (optional)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Steep the tea leaves in ¼ cup water for 5 mins. Set in fridge to cool.
  3. Cream butter, sugar, honey, cinnamon, and salt.
  4. Add egg, mix thoroughly.
  5. Make sure tea is chilled enough not to cook the egg, and add it to the mix, along with the rosewater and jasmine essence.
  6. Sprinkle the tea leaves over the batter, making sure there are no large or stiff pieces (that’s what she said!).
  7. Add flour and baking powder, and mix until dough is stiff (that’s wh—wait, I already made that joke).
  8. [optional: If you’re not lazy like me, turn dough out onto wax paper or plastic wrap and form into a 3×8-inch log. Cover and refrigerate 1 hour or until firm (if doing this step, you may not want to preheat the oven until later).]
  9. Drop dough onto a greased baking sheet [or, if doing step 8, cut ¼-inch slices from dough log and place accordingly].
  10. [Optional: Sprinkle with desired toppings.]
  11. Bake for about 10 minutes, checking cookies occasionally. Raise the heat to 350 for the last 2 minutes of cooking.
  12. Remove cookies from oven and let cool in pan for a minute or two before transferring to baking rack.

WELCOME, BLOGOSPHERE!

27 May

Please enter my humble food-blog “abode,” as it were. While I have several other blogs, this is my first official recipe blog. I do have a recipe circle on my G+, but that’s mostly just links to awesome recipes and some taglines about how delicious I think the recipes are whether I’ve tried them or not. I’m not going to promise that this is going to be regularly updated or mind-blowing or any of these things, because I don’t like making promises I’m not sure I’ll be able to keep. I just want this to be a little more in-depth than a link-aggregating social network circle, and maybe, if I’m lucky, it’ll give someone new ideas for the kitchen on the way.

Please do check out my about page, now that I’ve finally updated it and set it up. And now, I hope you enjoy!

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