Khristmas Kitchen

Where I attempt to channel good karma into baked goods.

Episode 4, Gelatine snow globe decorations

  

I have been obsessed by this concept on Pinterest   

  

First saw similar ones on Bakerella and ones shown on Pinterest and have been dying to try them. 

One of the key ingredients is the water balloons, which, in New England, in December, are not east to find. In fact, I couldn’t find them and neither could the Hubs. So in the spirit of adjustment and flexibility, I used regular balloons that were on the smallish side. This would also mean that cupcakes were out and a cake was in…

  

As noted in the Pinterest directions, you need to get the inflated balloons slick enough to have the gelatin peel away, but not be super oily. I did just what the author suggests and rubbed my hands and the lightly rubbed the balloons. 

   

However, I think any success I realized here was due to the gelatine sheets that I used. The ones I got were on  Amazon and were very easy to work with.

 
Another key is to make sure you can dip the balloons deep enough to to go almost up to the knot of the balloon, so a fairly  deep container is needed. 

 Here’s the first dip

  

And this is what happens if you cut the inflated ballon too quickly! The deflation takes the gelatine with it and krinkles it all up. The next ones I did were better, I only pin pricked the balloon, so I could control pulling the gelatine away from the balloon.

  
These came out good, but because they were larger, I used them on top of cakes instead of cupcakes! 

   

Pizza Supper…

The annual yoga pants Christmas vacation is in full swing and I tell you it’s mayhem….staying up late, sleeping late, going out to breakfast with the Hubs, getting a holiday mani, and you still have energy to do a little experimentation with dinner! I always consider a meal a success if I manage to eliminate one or more products from the fridge or freezer that only have one serving left and I hit a trifecta with this meal..

  

I started with mini naan breads, thawed from the freezer..

  
Then I spread it with the end of the jar of fig spread…

   
 
Then I added fresh roasted butternut squash…

   
 
Then a caramelized onion…

  
Then the end of the container of mozzarella…

  
Then some bacon…and into a 475 degree oven for about 15 minutes or until the cheese is a little melty..

   
 
Top with arugula that has been tossed with evoo and balsamic…

Presto, pizza!

Peace to all men…

  
So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.
And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, The Lord.

The gospel of Luke

Khristmas Kitchen

Where I attempt to channel good karma into baked goods..
Episode 3, Chocolate Orange Breakfast Twists

 

I found this recipe on Pinterest of course and immediately filed it away for the holidays. I had the chance to make it for a festive holiday brunch we were invited to over the weekend.

The dough comes together quickly in the stand mixer,but did take a little longer than 2 hours to rise.

  
Before rolling out the dough, whisk together fresh orange zest, fresh orange juice, granulated sugar and butter. It will be lumpy, but will be lumper once you add the chopped dark chocolate.

  
Roll the dough out to about 1/2″ thick and 12″x 18″ rectangle shape.

  
Spread the orange, butter, sugar, chocolate mixture over the dough leaving an inch all around.

  
Roll the sheet along the long side and slice into a dozen even pieces. Take each piece and stretch it and twist into a figure 8, all at the same time. Place twists, side by side, in two rows of 6, in a shallow greased baking pan.

   
 
Cover and let rise, then bake as directed. 

 
 When cool, glaze the twists with mix of confectioner sugar and a few drops of orange juice. You can also give them a slice with a knife or bench scraper edge.

  
Twists can be warmed before serving, but not necessary.

This Khristmas Kitchen had great karma. Great to make any season…for any reason!

Khristmas Kitchen

Where I attempt to channel good karma into baked goods…

Episode 2…Gingerbread Macarons, the Magnificent Obsession   

 I haven’t made Macarons for about 5 months, but fell back into the old rhythm with no problem. This weekend I turned out a batch of gingerbread macaron shells filled with vanilla buttercream. Same formula except I subbed a half ounce of combined ginger, cloves and cinnamon at the end.

  

Khristmas Kitchen…..

Where I attempt to channel good karma into baked goods….

Episode 1 Eclairs

  
My attempt at eclairs actually began 10 days ago with batch #1, produced from a sham cookbook that portrayed a knowledge of pastry that just did not materialize. The recipes were overly complicated, employed a mix of metric and Imperial measurements and resulted in an epic fail, so profound, I could not bear to share the results…

  
Choux  is not hard to make. It’s the same principle of fat and flour mixing as roux. Once you dump in the flour, the mix will come together very quickly. Add eggs one at a time in your mixer and give each egg a good amount of beating in to incorporate.

   
 
Then all you have to do is pipe the dough and bake. You can freeze any shells that you don’t fill right way.
  
I made a simple pastry cream with espresso powder for flavoring and the the coffee flavored glaze, with cream, confectioner sugar and a little corn syrup.

  
During our food tour in Montmartre last month, Eugenie, our guide related to us, that unlike in the US where eclairs typically have regular pastry cream inside and chocolate ganache topping, in France, your shoes and bag have to match! So if you have chocolate on top, then the pastry cream inside must also be chocolate! Evidently, failure to comply with this rule is false advertising ! And the patisserie can be sued! 

   
Of course because coffee flavor is my favorite that’s what I tried to reproduce, and I think I did a very respectable job!

 
Need to work on doing a better job of filling the shell completely with cream, and tightening up the glaze a little, but the Hubs approved!

“Who Hash”…

  
Featuring yet another item from the cheese crib at Trader Joe’s..

  
I cooked a small fresh shoulder of pork for a boiled dinner last weekend and had some leftovers, which I diced up and pan fried with chopped onion and frozen hash brown potatoes. 

   
 
I split the who hash into my spooney new stainless au gratin dishes that I bought in Paris and topped each portion with a fried egg, which I then topped with a slice of raclette cheese. This is the same type of cheese used in fondue and other bubbly deliciousness items.The best part about the au gratin dishes is that they are oven and broiler proof! Perfect for getting cheese all bubbly…

  
We felt very continental!

Easy Peasy

  
The New York Times has a great cooking site that I get in my email inbox a few times a week. This week they had a fast and easy recipe for braised pork chops with tomatoes, rosemary, and anchovies. “Blech, anchovies…” I can just hear you say.

BUT, you can’t even taste them! 

  
Start out by searing the bone in thick cut chops.

  
Remove the seared chops to a platter and then sauté the garlic and onions and rosemary till the onions are golden. It’s unusual in that the recipe calls for red onions versus yellow. I think because they are a little sweeter.

  
Add all the chopped tomatoes and anchovies and cook everything down for about five minutes. The anchovies add some depth and  Umami to the dish. Nestle the chops back into pan and spoon the tomatoes and sauce over the chops and put in a 350 degree oven till you get an internal temp of 145 degrees.

  
Remove to a platter and let rest for about five minutes. Cook serve and enjoy in about 30 minutes. While the chops are cooking you can throw a salad together and maybe some polenta, as suggested in recipe. This would also be good with roasted potatoes or reheated risotto.

Just Another Meatless Monday

Stop me if you’ve seen this one before. Actually you saw it here and here and here again!

Ok, ratatouille is a favorite of mine and I make it in a variety of ways and this week, I finally resorted to a classic, but with a “little” twist to it.

  
The classic EZPOT ingredients of eggplant, zucchini, pepper, onion and tomato…except the tomato comes later and I added some carrots because, well, they were lonely.

Ratatouille is a forgiving dish, but even so, I wanted to give it a fighting chance, so I cut all the veggies to the same size. That’s the hardest part because honestly, from there it’s just heat and seasoning…

 First I sautéed garlic in olive oil

  
Then I added veggies, one type at a time, starting with eggplant. Onions, peppers, zucchini followed in short order. Carrots go in last and add sweetness to the dish. Once everything is cooked through and soft, but not mushy, I added one small can of tomato paste. Season with salt and pepper and some thyme and parsley. The key to cooking is to leave the lid off the pan so any liquid evaporates and constant stirring so it doesn’t stick.

  
Then on Monday nite I pan fried some cold polenta left over from Thanksgiving and topped it with the  ratatouille and added a simple salad of arugula with lemon and olive oil and ground pepper and accompanied by a little disc of goat cheese. Part of the great cheese crib raid from 2015…