Monday, March 23, 2015

Tales of a Frustrated Bilingual Baker

Tonight, I am flustered and frustrated over a seemingly easy recipe. 

Nutella Tart


Tarte tiède au chocolat et au Nutella

I am the proud owner of two lovely choco-rrific books: Larousse du Chocolat and Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Herme by Dorie Greenspan. These books have lots of overlapping recipes... or so it seems.

My husband says my frustration is a little over the top, but I'm annoyed. 
The ingredient ratios are different. Not only that the "translation" of amounts is off. 

Example: according to Greenspan 3 1/2 ounces of butter = 7 tablespoons = 200 grams. I'm not buying it! A regular stick of butter is 8 TBS = 4 oz = approx. 113 g. 

la recette de Larousse du Chocolat
250 g de pâte sucrée (Sweet pastry dough)
150 g de Nutella 
150 g de chocolat à 55% de cacao (bittersweet chocolat)
150 g de beurre (butter)
1 œuf (egg)
2 jaunes d’œufs (egg yolks)
20 g de sucre en poudre (granulated sugar)
80 g noisette (hazelnuts)

The recipe of Chocolate Desserts
1 baked 8 3/4 in (22 cm) tart shell made from Sweet Tart dough
2/3 c. (200g) Nutella
4 3/4 oz (140 g.) bittersweet chocolate
7 TBSP (3.5 oz; 200 g.) unsalted butter
1 large egg
3 egg yolks
2 TBSP sugar
1 c (140 g.) hazelnuts

Oh but why should the differences stop there? They both say to melt the butter and chocolate separately. However, one asks you to whisk the sugar into the egg and then fold in the chocolate, then the butter. The other asks that you fold everything into the chocolate. YIKES! 

This is too much after a day of teaching little ones! 
I hope my tart comes out of the oven okay. Wish me luck! I mean I was the one brazen enough to make this for the first time for guests. LOL

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Salmon Pizza with Creme Fraiche

I thought a Salmon pizza sounded good, so I looked around and compared some recipes and ingredients. I found this recipe online and made a few tweaks to make it my own. The original called for some things we don't eat. After making it, I wonder if it would be good with caramelized onion or confit d'oignon and just a squeeze of lemon juice. I also saw recipes with cream cheese. So maybe cubes of cream cheese instead of dollops of creme fraiche? I may try it again. I might add some crushed red pepper flakes for heat. This recipe has lots of steps but it is very easy. See below for a link to the original. It may be what you are looking for. :)

Salmon Pizza


10 oz. sockeye salmon (pin bones and skin removed)*
pizza dough
olive oil
1 lemon
1 cup sugar, divided
1 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1 red onion, sliced thinly
2 Tbsp. salt
1 tsp. each fresh dill, parsley, basil, and thyme
mozzarella cheese
Crème Fraîche**


Make pizza dough. If frozen, defrost salmon. Pre-heat your oven to 475°F. (The original recipe says "as hot as it will go", but I backed off just a little.)

Heat up a skillet on medium high heat with a little olive oil. Slice the 1 lemon thin, coating the slices in about ½ cup sugar and place in the skillet to caramelize. Once some color develops, remove the lemon slices with tongs and let cool (HOT SUGAR makes nasty burns!) on a plate, then finely chop and set aside.

REMOVE AS SOON AS COLOR DEVELOPS! I left mine a little too long and I got caramel with lemon. It wasn't burned, but difficult to handle. 

Next, in a bowl combine 1 ½ cup red wine vinegar, ½ cup sugar and 2 Tbsp salt in a bowl. Add in your thinly sliced red onion and let it marinate. I suggest breaking the rings apart so you get an even marinade on the onion.

Chop up the herbs, When the oven is way hot, drizzle the salmon with olive oil and salt it to taste. Place the fish on a baking dish and place in the oven, baking until medium rare. Remove and tent with tin foil.

While the fish cooks, shape dough and top with mozzarella and dot with crème fraîche, or do what I did: Smear on creme fraiche and top with mozzarella. When you pull the salmon out, put the pizza in and bake until it looks like you want it to. (This will depend on the thickness of your crust and your oven, so check it after 8 to 10 minutes.)

Dollops? oops. I don't follow directions well, do I? 

Once it's done, slice your pizza and then break up the salmon onto the pizza, topping it with the caramelized lemon, freshly ground pepper, and herbs. Drain the red onion and squeeze it to remove excess vinegar and throw it on your pizza and drizzle with some olive oil. ENJOY!

Sorry, it's blurry! I was excited! 

*I used a 10 oz. frozen bag because that's all I could find here in the desert. I baked my salmon with the skin on, skin side down. It is easy to remove from cooked fish.

**Crème fraîche: You could buy it, but it's easy to make it yourself: 1 part buttermilk to 2 parts heavy cream. Let sit covered at room temp for 24 hrs. then refrigerate. If you use "whipping cream" and not "heavy whipping cream" your product will turn out too liquid. It should be the consistency of a soft sour cream. If this is scary to you, I knew a chef that made mock crème fraîche by stirring lemon juice and a pinch of salt into heavy cream. It's quick, it's easy and the health dept. doesn't yell at you for it.☻ 

Easy One Bowl Pizza Crust

For a long time I couldn't remember or find the original source of this recipe. I had just jotted it down and tweaked it here and there each time I made it. I found the original today. It's from Fleischmann's® Yeast.  I had it stashed in my "recipe box" on AllRecipes. I use weigh measurements because to me it's easier than digging out all sorts of measuring cups and spoons. I just pull out my bowl, put it on the scale, and start dumping ingredients in.

Here in my version:

Easy Pizza Crust

Makes 1 pizza crust: 15x10 in., 9x13 in., 14 in. thin, 12 in. thick or two 9 in. deep dish

310 g. (about 2.5 cups) All-Purpose flour
8 g. (about 2 1/4 tsp.) instant yeast
5 g. (about 1 tsp.) kosher salt
pinch of brown sugar
220 g. (about 1 c.) water at 110°F 
26 g. (about 2 tbsp.) olive or vegetable oil
*Semolina flour + bread flour for the bench

The instructions are simple. Stir the dry ingredients together in a large mixing bowl. Make a well and add in the oil and water. Then I use my wooden spoon. to stir until a dough forms. I flour my hands and knead in the bowl until it forms a smooth ball.** Then, cover will plastic wrap and let it hang out until double, about 30-45 min. Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 425°F.

Next, I sprinkle a 50/50 mixture of semolina and bread flour on my bench and stretch it out by hand to the size and shape I want. Some times, I get out the rolling pin. Some times, not! Sprinkle semolina or cornmeal on your pizza stone or pan. 

Top crust as desired and bake for 15-20 minutes.
Note the rustic look of the edge. I'm still working on technique!

*The original calls for oil & cornmeal on the pan, but I find that like the taste and texture of fine semolina better. I rarely remember to oil the pan, and I'm not sure it needs it. Really, it depends on what you have. I wouldn't buy semolina just for this recipe, but if I have some I use it.

**I've been lazy before and not kneaded it as much. This will give you a pillowy, soft dough. S

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Stuffed Bell Peppers


I cleaned and baked the bell peppers like Rachael Ray suggests. Cut in half, slat and peppered, bake cut side down in a hot oven or until tender and slightly charred.

Next, I made the quinoa according to package directions. I used Roland brand Roasted Garlic flavor.

Then,  I sauteed together: 
a pat of butter and a bit of olive oil
a small onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic
a small egg plant, cubed
1 yellow squash, cubed
2 zucchini squash, cubed.
4 oz. mushrooms, sliced
2 roma tomatoes
Salt & pepper to taste

Next, I cooked up a package of mild italian sausage. The ground kind without casing. 

Next, I drizzled a bit of olive oil in my baking dish. I placed the peppers in the dish and then layered everything: quinoa, veggies, cheese, sausage. I used only a tablespoon at a time continuing layers until they were full. Then I topped with cheese.

I baked at 350 until warmed through.

Got the idea from Rachael Ray's recipe, which you can find here.