Friday, December 28, 2007

Logs. Yum.

Just a little disclaimer: I am having issues with my camera card and loading pictures. I have been putting off posting because of it, but now I have decided to go ahead and post without the pics for the time being. Bear with me.

Ah, the Yule Log. A treasured tradition for many; my family thought The Log was just hilarious. Here is the picture of Ryan and I holding the Yule log. He is laughing because he just learned that this was my own creation. What's so funny about that?

My sister thought it was unappetizing to decorate a cake to look like a rotting log with mushrooms growing on it. I'm not sure why everybody else kept laughing at The Log, but that's what they did. Maybe they couldn't help themselves because it turned out so darn cute.

I loved this challenge because. It was really fun to decorate. I had more fun with this than with any other Daring Baker challenge yet. It doesn't get better than wood-graining a cake and sculpting little mushrooms out of marzipan. A good time was had by all.

As for the taste, it was pretty good. Classic, light cake with classic, fluffy buttercream frosting on the outside. I made mine chocolate as I don't do coffee. I also chose to use almond flavoring in the filling, which I enjoyed. It went over okay, but we had some leftovers, so I think I will try a different recipe next year. Yep, I will be logging it up again next Christmas.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

New Additions

After much ado about almost losing my hard drive, I am back to blogging (but without pictures for the moment). You'll also have to excuse my writing and lack of train of thought today. Ryan is listening to the Smashing Pumpkins and it's really hindering my creativity.

Now, about food. A food blogger, even a less-active food blogger, shouldn't let thanksgiving go by without blogging about it. Especially if the food was as spectacular as ours was. I'm not taking the credit for it- it's so good to be with Mom and Dad for the holidays!

First of all, our turkey was the moistest and most flavorful its ever been, thanks to Elise (and her mom) from Simply Recipes and
her fantastic turkey instructions . My mom used the Williams-Sonoma brine and spices, with Elise's roasting instructions. Simply Recipes is my go-to blog when I need step-by-step, tried and true instructions for basic things. Every recipe I have tried from Simply Recipes is fantastic. I am especially a fan of Elise's curry chicken salad, and I add a scoop of homemade apricot chutney, which makes it even better. That's a tangent worthy of another post.

Back to Thanksgiving 2007 . This year the gravy was outstanding. It was perfect gravy, enhanced by the lovely turkey-roasting herbs from Williams-Sonoma. You've gotta try the herbs.

For my contributions to the spread, I made two new items. Two new additions that are now traditions for me, they were that good.

I bought the crystallized ginger for Molly's Cranberry Chutney last Thanksgiving, but I didn't actually make it until this year. We really missed out. Visit the first food blog I was ever addicted to,
Orangette, and just look at this beautiful and festive-looking chutney. I actually don't think very many people ate any on Thanksgiving day (its our tradition to set out some cranberry relish or sauce, which only one or two people taste, then we put the leftovers in the fridge because we can't throw away all that perfectly good relish, and it doesn't see the light of day again until its thrown away a week or two later.)

I wasn't a total convert until friday, when I made a leftover turkey, cranberry chutney, and havarti sandwich. The Sandwich was even better than Thanksgiving dinner. I'm thinking of roasting another turkey justs for sandwiches.

Last, but certainly not least, is our new addition to the pie line-up. It's Mrs. Dart's mixed berry pie. If anybody out there has tried
Mrs. Dart's lemon bars, you know that her baking is a force to be reckoned with. This latest pie is being added to my mental list of desserts to impress company with, if I should ever need to impress anybody. If we ever invited anybody over...

This pie is our favorite one from the Dart Thanksgiving, provided it's with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. It features a delicious combination of berries and (surprise!) apricots, which I think is worlds better than any single-berry pie.

Here is the recipe. Oh yeah, Ryan swore that it had to be Mrs. Dart's pie crust recipe (an all-shortening crust with a bit of vinegar, water, and egg). I couldn't resist trying out
Elise's combination butter/shortening crust, which was amazing (even Ryan liked it a lot). The butter/shortening crust had a little more flavor, and it has sugar in it, so it was a little sweeter. So choose your crust recipe according to your tastes.

Mrs. Dart's Mixed Berry Pie

2 9-inch pie-crusts (a bottom and a top)

2 C mixed
rasberries, blackberries, and blueberries

8 to 16 oz canned apricots, cut into fourths

1 can of cherries, NOT cherry-pie filling. You want unsweetened canned
cherries that you find near the pie filling or by dried

1 C sugar (or sugar to taste)

3 T tapioca beads

1 T lemon juice

-prick the bottom crust and prebake it at 350 degrees until it just barely
starts to get golden. This keeps it from getting too soggy when you add the

-mix filling ingredients gently, so as not to demolish the berries.

-dump the filling into the prebaked crust. Dot with 2T butter. Place
your top crust over the top and flute the edges. Cut a few slits in the top
crust. Brush with an egg wash (1 egg plus 2 T. cream, mixed) for
a shiny, professional-pastry chef kind of finish.

-cover edges of pie with foil and bake at 400 degrees for 45 to 50

-allow to cool for about 25 minutes, it should be perfectly warm for
serving with a scoop of ice cream