27 April 2012

KCWC: day 4

I'm constantly amazed to see all that everyone finishes in just an hour or two of sewing each week.  Brilliant.

Decided to do a quickie for today.  I've never tried the Oliver + s lazy days skirt, but always wanted to.  Technically it's actually not all the way finished.  I'm waiting for some cute ribbon to come by mail.  I waited too long to order it, but it should be here by tomorrow.  (fingers crossed)

It's out of a gray linen.  It was supper easy, and perfect for a lazy day of sewing.

Hazel loved it.  She took off the skirt she was wearing and wore this for the rest of the day, hem unfinished and all!

I did a little more cutting out for tomorrow.  Another skirt for this little one.  Unfortunately it will take longer than one day, I'm sure.  Saturday.

KCWC: day 3

The big reveal...

 (He's covering his eyes from the sun)

Silas LOVES green.  So when I saw this pattern, I knew he had to have a pair.  Just like the ones from the pattern!  I know.  Copy Cat!

When I printed the pattern, he carried around the first page for days.  You know.  The page with the finished picture.  He actually asked me if his pants were done yet... the day the pattern was printed.  Oh, the excitement.

So far he really LOVES them.  I have to say that they are pretty great.  I think I'd wear grass green pants if they looked this cute on me too.  Yeah for KCWC.

KCWC: day 2

I have no pictures to share here.  Spent today working more on my "green" article of clothing.  They should be finished by tomorrow.

KCWC: day 1

I was totally planning on having a bunch of stuff cut out, just waiting to be sewn this week.  Seems like most of my plans this day don't go exactly as planned.  I did have the patterns traced and cut out, but not the fabric cut.  So, day 1 of KCWC was spent washing and cutting out fabric.  Here's a sneak peek...

Just wait and see what fun this fabric will turn into.

25 April 2012

Bake 52: (Botched) Baklava

I've made Baklava once in my life... well, helped, or actually assisted, and tasted.  While teaching a Junior High foods class, I asked the kids to bring in loved family recipes.  It was around Christmas time.  One student brought in a recipe for Baklava, and we decided to give it a try.  I'm wondering if we spread it out between two days, cause I can't imagine being able to pull this off in a 45 minute class time.  

If my students could see me now... they'd get a good laugh.  Because of my slacking to read the directions well, this week, we have botched Baklava.  (Don't worry, I'll be sure to point out where I went wrong.)

Start with the sugar syrup.  Here we have sugar, water, honey, lemon zest, lemon juice, cinnamon stick, cloves and salt.  Boil.  Cool.  Set aside.

The filling:  Blanched, slivered almonds were supposed to be used.  I didn't remember the "slivered" part of the almond, when I was at the store.  And that store doesn't sell blanched, whole almonds.  So, I bought raw, whole almonds with the intent of blanching them myself.  I've done this before, but after peeling one or two almonds I gave it up, and decided that our Baklava would be just fine without blanching the almonds.  Oh, I also skipped out on the walnuts, and just added extra almonds.  (This was not the major "botch" in this recipe.)

Pulse the almonds (and walnuts if used), about 25 pulses.  (I loved that the book gave a number of pulses.  So precise.)

This recipe calls for clarified butter... that's butter that the milk solids and water have been removed, leaving behind the pure liquid butterfat.  Mmm, that sounds good.

So we melt the butter, and then let it sit for a bit.  Then skim off the foam from the surface.  Then carefully pour the clear butterfat into a bowl, leaving all the milk solids behind in the saucepan.

Here's the phyllo dough.  Lots of little sheets, paper thin.  It's cool stuff.

Start layering phyllo sheets, brushing each with the clarified butter.  I cut my sheets smaller, so they'd fit in my pan better.

Here's the botch:  I combined my sugar syrup with my chopped up, un-blanched almonds.  (Not part of the directions for the recipe.)

The almonds are then placed 1 cup at a time, on top of a layer of phyllo sheets.  Then more phyllo sheets are added, more almonds, more phyllo, almonds, phyllo on top.  The rest of the butter is poured on top, and spread around.

The rest of the butter is poured on top, and spread around.

The Baklava is then sliced with a serrated knife, one direction, diagonally.

And then the other direction.

 Bake for 1 1/2 hours.

Now, if you had been in my kitchen at this point, you would have witnessed a slight freak-out.  Part of it could have been due to it being about 10:30pm.  Thus, my realization that I would be up till 12, waiting to remove the Baklava from the oven.  But that was only a small part of the freaking... the other was this:  remove the Baklava from the oven and "Immediately pour ... the cooled syrup over the cut lines ..."  I flipped pages back and forth, trying to figure out what syrup they were referring to.   Had I missed a step?  Was I supposed to hold some syrup back when I added it to the almonds?  Where there two syrups?  Ahh, no.  I just wasn't supposed to add the syrup TO the almonds.  Ohhh.  Well, there you have it.  Botched Baklava.

 Here it is.  A bit more flaky, and slightly less flavorful, I think.  Pretty though.  It's got that going for it.

Go visit Talesha's blog for the complete recipe.  I'm sure she probably got it right too, so hop over there for the real thing.

18 April 2012

Bake 52: Strawberry-Rhubarb Pie (minus the rhubarb)

I looked for rhubarb.  None.  I asked for rhubarb.  None.  What's a girl to do?  Make Strawberry-Rhubarb pie, sans the rhubarb.

Double pie crust.  Slightly flatened, wrapped in plastic, and placed in the fridge for 1 hour.

Wash your berries.  (If I had rhubarb, they would be included in this shot.)  And, since I wasn't including the rhubarb, I would have needed lots more berries, but I was feeling lazy, so that's when I decided to make 5 little ramekin-sized pies.  They're pretty cute, just wait.

I wanted to stick in this picture of my handy-dandy tool that I used to de-stem my strawberries.  Not necessary, but sure handy.  I like it.

Cut the strawberries.  The recipe said to cut them into fourths, but I did most of mine a little smaller than that.  Then I sprinkled these berries with sugar, and let them sit for an hour, stirring randomly.  The sugar "leaches" the water/juice from the berries so that they won't be too juicy in the pie.  We don't want any soggy-bottoms.  (hee, hee.)

Pie dough rolled out.  Since I was doing 5 small pies, I didn't care about the overall shape of the dough.

I used a small-ish plate to cut around for the pie crust tops and bottoms.

There's the bottom crust.

There's those berries again.  Look at all that liquid that "leached" out.  (This is fun.  See if you can use "leached" in normal everyday speech.  Such a random word.  Leached.  And so visual.)

Add some cornstarch, salt and vanilla, oh, and a little juice that "leached" out.  Stir that up.

Place into the pie crust.

Vent the top crust.  Place on top, and cut around, leaving about 1/2" from edge of pan.

I tried a couple of different edges.  On the left... I cut closer to the edge and just pressed top and bottom together with the tines of a fork.  On the right... like the book instructed; after leaving 1/2" from the pan, tuck the top crust under the bottom.  Press together slightly and then flute the edges.  Looks a bit large on this little pie, but kind-a cute anyway.

There it is, out of the oven.  Mmmm.

And another one.

And what's pie without ice cream?

This was a yummy pie.  I wish I had been able to find rhubarb.  We had rhubarb a lot growing-up.  Maybe next time.

For the full recipe, hop over to Valerie's blog.

11 April 2012

Bake 52: Chocolate Blackout Cake

Chocolate.  Blackout.  Had to be good.  I am very picky when it comes to cake.  I don't like dry cake, and typically, that's just what cake is.  So I was really hoping for a yummy, moist, chocolate cake.  And that's what I got!

Yesterday was my Phebe's birthday.  Ten.  Wow.  Where did that go?  Luckily she wanted a chocolate cake for her birthday.  I showed her the picture in the book, and she said that would be great.  Thank goodness.  I mean, I only NEED so many desserts hanging around.

Pudding:  Whisk sugar, cornstarch, and salt together.  Slowly add half-and-half and milk.  Simmer.

Chop the chocolate.

Stir in the chocolate and cook about 1 more minute.  Remove from heat, add vanilla.

The pudding is transferred to another bowl, and plastic wrap is placed directly on the surface of the pudding.  ( This way you don't get the skin that sometimes forms on top.)

Cake:  Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together.

Melt butter and cocoa in saucepan.

Whisk in coffee, buttermilk and sugars.  (The coffee is added to bring out a stronger/deeper chocolate flavor.)  I'm not a coffee drinker, so I added Pero.  Worked great!

Whisk in the eggs and vanilla, then slowly whisk in the flour mixture.

Pour, (the batter is pretty runny), into the prepared pans.  I did two small rounds, and then 6 large cupcakes.  Thought it would make such a fun little birthday cake, and I had a feeling this would be a pretty "rich" cake.  The giant cupcakes will make a couple of GREAT thank you's to some friends.  I'm thinking one to each, will be just perfect.

The cakes sat in the pans for 10 minutes, and then we turned out and allowed to cool for 2 hours before frosting.

The book had some great tips on slicing the layers in half.  Using a ruler, mark with a small sharp knife the middle of the layer.  Do this all around the cake.  Then using a long serrated knife, and the marks made previously, "score" the cake all the way around.  Then carefully slice through the layer, turning and cutting through a little at a time.  Worked like a charm.  Although, I was wondering if the marks made with the little knife would be easier to see on a lighter colored cake?

Both layers are sliced in half, so you end-up with 4 layers.

Place one on your cake place, with parchment strips laying under on all sides to catch crumbs.  It's all about the presentation!

Then start layering.  Cake, pudding, cake, pudding, cake and then frost the whole thing with pudding.  The last layer (number 4), is crumbled and then pressed along the sides and top of the cake.

Now here's where it went south... when I took my pudding out of the fridge, it was so stiff.  I just knew that it would never spread, and it would rip my cake to shreds.  (This cake was so moist and soft, I just knew there was no hope.)  So, I decided to add a little milk to thin it out... just a bit.  I'm thinking I thinned it a bit too much.  You can tell from the pictures that it was a little too thin.  Dang.  Maybe I should have left it, and given it a try?  I'll never know.

So there's the finished product.  The picture in the book was amazing.  The pudding really looked like frosting (so maybe my pudding was right at first, and I shouldn't have messed with it?).  And, I couldn't see any holes between the cake crumbs, showing through to the pudding - like you can with mine. 

But, it tasted great.

I had a little bit of whipped cream on the side of mine, but most of the kids had a small scoop of chocolate ice cream.  Nothing goes better with chocolate than chocolate.

And Phebe?  Well, she loved it.  She didn't mention the holes between the cake crumbs, or the slightly sliding pudding.  I think she had a great day.  Happy 10th, Sunshine!

For the full recipe, check out Courtney's blog.