Summer Calls for Strawberry Shortcake

Book Reviews, Cooking

I like eating fresh fruit in the summer. Wanting dessert last night, I decided to make strawberry shortcake. A great way to top off a summer meal.

I again turned to the cookbook, Flour: Spectacular Recipes from Boston’s Flour Bakery and Cafe by JoAnne Chang to get my recipe. Chang’s strawberry shortcake recipe was easily whipped-up in the stand mixer. The biscuits were made and topped with the no-fuss, no-cook strawberry sauce that included balsamic vinegar in the list of ingredients. I chose to top the shortcakes with a chickpea based whipped topping (see previous blog post for recipe) instead of Chang’s whipped cream, so I can not comment on the topping.

So what did I think of Chang’s Strawberry Shortcake recipe? Yum! Another success story from the cookbook Flour: Spectacular Recipes from Boston’s Flour Bakery and Cafe. The biscuits were crisp on the outside, light on the inside, and packed with flavor. The strawberry topping was easy to make and tasty as well. Put together, a delicious summer dessert that I will be making again. This recipe, unlike her fabulous croissant recipe, does not take all that long to make.

Chang’s cookbook is easily becoming one of my favorite cookbooks for baking. It seems as though everything made from this cookbook turns out delicious. As always, Happy Baking!

Biscuit waiting to be topped.
Strawberry topping
Chickpea Whipped Topping

My Take on…Lunch in Paris

Book Reviews, Cooking

I decided to read Lunch in Paris by Elizabeth Bard for a fun summer read. After all, if I can not get to Paris, why not read about it. From the first chapter, I was suddenly transported to Paris.

Lunch in Paris is a memoir slash cookbook. Bonus! The book starts with Elizabeth (an American from New York living in London) meeting a Frenchman for lunch in Paris. They had met at a conference in England. This was a weekend visit that would ultimately change Elizabeth’s life. I will not give out all the juicy details. I will leave that up to the reader. I will, however, say that this book was delightful. It was a good choice for a summer read. One that I did not want to put down.

Elizabeth comes across as very likable and funny. Besides being a good book and making me feel like I was in Paris, the book also has recipes. Since I love to cook this is a treat. But not only does it have recipes, it has lots of recipes. I am talking recipes at the end of each chapter. I am talking more than one recipe per chapter. As many as three recipes per chapter. The back of the book also has an index of the recipes for easy reference.

Luckily, when I finished reading Lunch in Paris, I could keep my summer vacation in France going. I had also purchased Bard’s second book Picnic in Provence. So now I am following Elizabeth to the French countryside. My take on that will be out shortly.

So, if feeling the need to escape quarantine, pick-up a copy of Lunch in Paris. Not only a good read but a cookbook to boot. There is even a recipe for Zucchini Flowers Stuffed with Goat Cheese and Mint. Super! I still have a few zucchini flowers in the garden. This time I know to check for bees first. As always, Happy Reading!

Making Croissants

Book Reviews, Cooking

As I have said before, my kids and I are cooking together this summer. So my teenage son made a couple of requests of foods he would like to try to make with me. One being croissants. Ambitious! I was in.

I found a recipe for croissants in the cookbook: Flour: Spectacular Recipes from Boston’s Flour Bakery and Cafe by Joanne Chang. Chang said that after visiting France with her husband, she wanted to perfect the bakery’s croissant recipe even more. The recipe in her cookbook reflects her efforts at doing so. There are no pictures, just descriptions of the steps, which can seem complicated, but are well written and tested by Chang. She warns that one needs to start making the croissants two days in advance. Really? Yes, really. It is a time consuming process, however, most of that time is spent waiting for the dough to proof, so one can go about their day while the dough does it’s work.

The picture of the finished croissant in the cookbook looked mouth-wateringly good. This is what we were striving for, not the soft, American grocery store version. We wanted the crispy on the outside, chewy on the inside, French version. After spending two days in the kitchen, my son and I were nervous when the time came to pop them in the oven. We did not want to burn them. We knew they had the potential for being grand. They had puffed-up into the most amazing looking croissants. We both had moments of joy making these croissants. I remember the ah ha moment when after making a slit in the top of our first croissant and spreading it into a y form, it rolled into a perfectly shaped croissant. A high-five was given as we excitedly formed the rest of our croissants. So, this was not something to risk in the baking. We stayed close to the oven, watching and waiting.

Ready to go into the oven.

I was nervous that the croissants seemed to be browning a bit sooner than expected given the time left on the timer. As the recipe said to bake them a total of 30 min plus or until golden. They were golden but what about the insides? This was our dilemma. We decided to tent them with foil for the remainder of the cook time. All turned out well. The croissants were delicious and got rave reviews from the family. They were crispy and flakey on the outside. On the inside, the tender and chewy layers could be seen as well as tasted. Oh yum! Am I in Paris!?!

Perfection!
The inside with a bit of jam.

If wanting a good French croissant, I highly recommend picking-up a copy of Flour: Spectacular Recipes from Boston’s Flour Bakery and Cafe by Joanne Chang. While this recipe does seem like quite a task, it is actually very easy to make, just time consuming. The dough can be made in a stand mixer. The steps of folding the dough with the butter (I bought European butter for this recipe.) were easy and the dough rolled-out nicely (I used my pastry cloth.). Most importantly, the were DELICIOUS! As always, Bon Appetit!

Lemon and Fleur de Sel Butter Cookies Review

Cooking

Thanks to fellow blogger Stephen, I was introduced to the blog Chocolate and Zucchini, the site of Clotilde Dusoulier. How funny that I actually own her cookbook, Tasting Paris, but did not know of her blog site. Anyway, I was looking through recipes on her site and came across the recipe for Lemon and Fleur de Sel Butter Cookies. As we have plenty of lemons on the trees and were gifted some Fleur de Sel when my daughter went to France last summer, I thought this would be a nice summer cookie to try.

I thought that the cookies were very simple to make. They were whipped up in a food processor in no time at all. They did, however, need to chill for an hour. So if making this cookie, be sure to give time to chill the dough. These cookies really do need that chill time or they would be very hard to work with, as the dough softens quickly. After rolling out the dough and stamping out the cookies, they baked for the minimum time of 12 minutes. The cookies were then iced as per Clotildes instructions, using a pastry brush. Genious! I have always iced cookies with a knife and what a mess that can be. I really loved the pastry brush method. I will be using this on my other recipes in the future.

The Lemon and Fleur de Sel Butter Cookies had a very mild lemon flavor. Just a hint really. The cookies were soft yet according to my daughter, “looked hard”. They were very light and flakey. A perfect texture really. Yum! They make a perfect cookie to serve with tea or as a light summer desert on a hot evening. As always, Happy Baking!

The recipe can be found at: https://cnz.to/recipes/cookies-small-cakes/lemon-and-fleur-de-sel-butter-cookies-recipe/

What! I Missed Another Reason to Celebrate!

Cooking, life

What have I been doing? I totally missed the one year anniversary (June 7th) of my blog, Another Day With Julie! My followers know that I love to celebrate my milestones. Celebrating those milestones usually involves a yummy cake. Well, belated or not, let the celebration begin!

We have zucchini in the garden. Maybe too much zucchini in the garden. So this cake will not only help me celebrate, it will help me use up some of that zucchini as well, because I hate to waste food.

Chocolate Zucchini Snack Cake:

  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 cups grated zucchini
  • 1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a large bowl, combine eggs, vanilla, sugar, salt, and applesauce with a spoon.

Add flour, cocoa, baking soda and cinnamon. Mix.

Add chocolate chips and zucchini. Mix.

Pour the batter into a greased 8″ x 8″ baking pan.

Bake for 30-40 minutes, until toothpick comes out somewhat clean.

Can serve with powdered sugar sifted over top.

I like this cake served a little warm. Look closely at the photo. See the melted chocolate chips, still shiny and gooey? Yum! My husband said it reminded him of a chocolate lava cake.

*Recipe adapted from http://www.balticmaid.com/2011/08/healthy-zucchini-brownies

Thanks to all my followers and viewers on Another Day With Julie! Without my readers, there may still be a blog, but what fun would that be. As always, Happy Baking, Happy Celebrating!

Zucchini Flowers are All the Buzz at My House

Cooking, gardening

Of course I had heard of people eating zucchini flowers. I had just never tried them myself. Since we have an abundance of zucchini in the garden right now, I thought we could spare a few of the flowers. So I searched for a recipe and went out to the garden to collect the flowers.

I collected four large zucchini flowers, placed them in my bowl and headed back inside. I decided not to wash them right away in hopes they would stay fresher until I was ready to use them. It would not be long anyway. So I set about making the rest of the dinner. We were having chicken with sundried tomatoes and olives baked in foil packets (to lock in the moisture), orzo, blanched and sauted fresh green beans with garlic (from green beans picked earlier in the day), and of course the zucchini flowers which would be lightly breaded and fried.

It was finally time for me to prepare the zucchini flowers. I washed and removed the stamen from one and set it on a towel, then another. As I was washing the third flower, I heard a buzzing sound. What! Oh no! A bee was inside the flower. I hurried the bowl outside to get rid of the bee before it escaped inside our house. When outside I pried the flower open a bit with a knife hoping the bee would exit without attacking me. Success! As I started to head back inside I again heard buzzing. What! Oh yes, another bee was inside the flower! I again coaxed this bee out of the flower. Was this it? No more buzzing. It was safe to go back inside and finish making dinner.

So, I think I will add a little note to the recipe for fried zucchini flowers. It will say, “Check for bees before taking zucchini flowers inside house”. How could the author of this recipe leave off such an important piece of information? Maybe this has only happened to me?

Regardless of the excitement in the kitchen, the meal turned out fine. The zucchini flowers did receive quite the buzz around the table. My family enjoyed them and we had a story to share as well. The recipe can be found at: https://www.bonappetit.com/recipe/fried-zucchini-blossoms. Just remember to check for bees! As always, Happy Gardening/ Happy Cooking!

Dinner is Served

Using a Pastry Cloth

Cooking

Until recently, I had never used a pastry cloth before. I had used plastic pastry mats before but never a pastry cloth. But I was curious.

Years ago, I had a very large Tupperware brand plastic pastry mat. It had circles printed on it for guidence in making the correct size of pie crusts. There were several problems with this mat. The mat had to be rolled to store, hence making it curl up when trying to use it. It needed to be weighed down or it would move around. It was a handful to turn when flipping the rolled dough into the tin as it was so big and awkward. To make things more frustrating, if I did not flour the mat enough, the dough would stick to it.

Vintage Tupperware Pastry Dough Tart Pie Sizing Mat Sheet 1965 Dart Ind. Red
Image of Tupperware Pastry Mat from collectiblesonlinedaily.com

I have a similar sort of mat now but it lies flat. It is too small to roll out a regular pie crust on. Same problem with moving around the counter and dough sticking to it as the larger version. This mat does work well for stamping out biscuits though.

Small mat

Tired of my too small mat, I decided to research my options. From reviews, it looked like the old fashioned pastry cloth was the tried and true choice. Let’s face it, sometimes things can not be improved on too much. After looking around for a pastry cloth, I decided I did not have anything to lose as the pastry cloths were cheaper than the mats. I would not be out much if I did not like it.

Upon reading the reviews, I took the advice of hand washing my cloth in cold water and line drying. This is to avoid an shrinkage that may occur. My pastry cloth came out just fine by following these guidelines.

I have used my pastry cloth several times now. All times were successful. I really like the pastry cloth. In my oppinion it is a much better tool than the plastic mats. I used much less flour on the surface of the cloth than I had on the mats which is supposed to result in a more tender crust and the dough DID NOT STICK! Being a cloth, it was very flexible and easy to turn onto my pie tin. The clean-up was easy. I just shook out the excess flour over the trash and hand washed it in cold water and hung it to dry. I store it folded in a bag to keep it clean and ready to use. It hardly takes up any space. The only negative being that it still does move on the counter, but not too much. Apparently, it can be wrapped around a bread board or a non-stick mat can be placed under it. I am still working on that. However, I LOVE the pastry cloth and would not go back to the other version.

As always, Happy Baking!

Homemade Granola

Cooking

Granola can be a difficult item to shop for if needing to avoid nut allergies. It can also be on the expensive side and sometimes the flavors are not exactly what one prefers. Why not make it yourself!

Granola is not hard to make. Having said that, one does need to be careful not to over-bake the granola. It can over-cook and burn easily, so attention is needed.

The great advantage to making granola is that it tastes fresher and almost anything can be added to it. It lasts a long time on the counter in a sealed container, so it does not have to be made all that often. Granola can be eaten on it’s own, sprinkled on top of yogurt, ice cream, oatmeal, fruit, etc…

Let’s get started!

Step 1: Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. (A baking sheet with edges is prefered.)

Step 2: Get the ingredients together…

1/4 cup olive oil (or oil of preference)

1 Tbsp butter

2 Tbsp honey

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 c brown sugar

2 1/4 c old fashioned oats

3/4 – 1 c dark chocolate chopped into small pieces

Dark chocolate squares
Chopped

1/4 – 1/2 c unsweetened coconut flakes

If chocolate and coconut are not desired, dried fruits could be added instead.

Step 3: Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

Step 4: In a small saucepan, combine all ingredients EXCEPT oats, chocolate, and coconut.

Step 5: Turn the burner to medium-low and stir ingredients until butter melts and mixture is smooth. Take off heat.

Step 6: Add oats to pan and stir together.

Step 7: Dump the mixture unto the baking sheet and spread out evenly.

Step 8: Pop in oven and set the timer for 30 minutes.

Step 9: Take the granola out of oven and stir the granola every 10 minutes. At 30 minutes, remove granola from oven. The granola will harden and become crisp after it leaves the oven so do not bake it until it is hard. It should still be golden in color not darkened or it will taste burnt.

Step 10: Slide the parchment paper with granola onto a wire rack to cool.

Step 11: If coconut is desired…place a new sheet of parchment paper on baking sheet and spread the coconut out onto the sheet. Pop in the oven (same temperature) for about 5 minutes. Watch this like a hawk! Coconut can cook quite fast as well. I like to stir this half-way through cook time. It should turn pale golden but not dark in color or it will be burnt.

Step 12: Remove the coconut from oven and slide the parchment paper with coconut directly onto a wire rack to cool.

Step 13: Once all are cool, mix together in a bowl and store in an air-tight container. Note: The granola will need to be broken up when removing from parchment. Just break into pieces with hands.

Ready to eat

I hope I did not scare anyone with 13 steps! It really is not hard. I just stretched the instructions out. If anyone makes this recipe let me know how it was.

As always Happy Baking!

Paczki – Baked Polish Filled Donuts

Cooking

I am back to baking donuts again. This time it is Paczki, a baked Polish donut. But instead of filling this donut with jelly, I chose to fill it with custard.

These donuts rose and puffed up very nicely. I brushed them with melted butter and rolled them in sugar and they looked so yummy and I had not even filled them yet. I chose to fill them right before eating them. I made the custard ahead of time and kept it in a container in the fridge to chill.

Not even filled and see how yummy they look!
Custard filling

I poked a hole in the side of the donut with a wooden skewer and then inserted the tip of a decorating tube into the side of the donut and gave it a good squeeze. Custard donuts are a favorite of mine at the local donut shop. Now I can make them at home myself. They are very easy to make. They just take a bit of time for the rising.

Poking hole in side with skewer.
Filling with custard. This little pastry filler would not be my choice…hard to see when enough filling is inserted.
The standard pastry bag and tube worked well at filling the donuts.
Voila! The finished Paczki. Ready to eat.

For the recipe: https://www.jennycancook.com/recipes/custard-filled-paczki/ There is even a video to watch.

Quick version of the recipe with a few minor changes…

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons (1 packet = 7 grams) yeast (instant or regular)

Mix dry ingredients in stand mixer then add:

  • 2/3 cup 2% milk – warmed to 120°F for instant/110°F for regular yeast
  • 3 Tablespoons canola oil
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Mix and beat for about 2 minutes then add

  • about 1/2 cup extra flour

Beat until thick and kneadable. Transfer to a floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for 10 minutes.

Roll dough to 1/2″ thick and cut into circles using a 2 1/2″ round biscuit cutter. Lift the cut doughnuts onto a parchment lined cookie sheet. Cover with a tea towel and place in a warm spot to rise for 45 minutes.

(While this is rising make the custard filling.)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Pop the doughnuts into the oven for 10 minutes. Remove and cool on rack.

Brush cool donuts with:

  • 1 Tablespoon melted butter

Then roll in:

  • 1/3 cup sugar for coating

Fill with custard. Make a small hole in side of donut. Using a pastry bag, squeeze custard into the side of donut.

Recipe for custard:

  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 4 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1 cup milk, low fat or whole
  • one egg yolk

Instructions:

  1. In a small saucepan, combine sugar and cornstarch.
  2. Slowly stir in milk and egg yolk. Bring to a boil at medium high heat. Cook & stir about a minute on low heat. (it thickens more as it cools)
  3. Spread onto a dinner plate and let it stand, undisturbed, to cool thoroughly before using or refrigerate to cool.

As always, Happy Baking!

Using a Frother for Fancy Drinks

Cooking
Tea with frothed coconut milk

I recently purchased a hand-held frother after reading about a drink called London Fog. I had never heard of froth on tea before. On coffee yes, but never on tea. This sounded like something I had to try. The order was placed. When the frother arrived, I cleaned it and prepared to froth my first beverage.

One point I will make, always use the frother in a slightly larger glass than assumed will be needed. The milk does expand when frothed and can make a mess if the glass is not large enough. That was my first experience with the frother.

Having said that, the frother is very easy to use and takes hardly any time at all. Fifteen to twenty seconds is really all that is needed to make the froth for one drink. Who does not have time for that!

For my version of the London Fog, I made half a cup of tea and frothed one fourth cup of rice milk and poured it into the tea. I found this to be quite soothing. A bit of a change from a plain cup of tea. The traditional London Fog has added sweetners/syrups which I did not use.

I also tried the same thing with coffee. I found that I like the tea version better. I also tried both versions with regular milk and with rice milk. I preferred the taste of the rice milk. The rice milk takes just a bit longer to froth than the milk but had more flavor. I also tried it with coconut milk. The coconut milk should not be too thick or the frother will not work as well. Add a bit of water to the coconut milk, if it is on the thick side, to be the consistency of milk. I also preferred the coconut milk to the regular cow’s milk.

So, in my experimentations, the frother works quite well and is very quick and easy to use. It adds a soothing eliment to the regular beverage and can give the spirit a bit of a lift. Why not give it a try!

Cheers!