Saturday, August 14, 2010


The August 2010 Daring Cooks’ Challenge was hosted by LizG of Bits n’ Bites and Anula of Anula’s Kitchen. They chose to challenge Daring Cooks to make pierogi from scratch and an optional challenge to provide one filling that best represents their locale.

I was really excited to see the challenge this month, as this brings back sooo many memories for me of my Mom. She made these once from scratch as part of a school fundraising dinner, making hundreds, of which I had a few, and I immediately fell for these. As a yearly birthday gift, I got to choose the dinner on my special day, and I almost always chose these. Somehow, they didn't have the same specialness once Mrs. T's came around! :-)

She has passed now, and I have held on to the cookbook she used to make that very first batch, one that makes me smile every time I saw it.

This was my first time attempting these and the taste memory was still right there!
I chose to attempt the ones that Mom used to make and in the cookbook, there is a dough recipe and 8 filling recipes. I chose my favorite, potato filling. It calls for lightly caramelized onion in the filling, which is my favorite topping for pierogies, so it was totally win-win!

I found the dough easy to work with, even if I did have to use an extra teaspoon of water. I think my flour was dry. I used some thin skins potatoes and my recipe called for mashed potatoes, butter, onions and salt & pepper. I made the assumption it was "plain" mashed potatoes instead of prepared mashed potatoes. I made the mistake of using a beater on the cooked potatoes and ended up with glue! I added the butter and onions and it pulled together for the stuffing, but I wonldn't have served it plain.

After preparing them, I boiled them, then fried them in butter, just like Mom used to do and they were heavenly! I don't know if it was the fact that I have developed as a cook, or I made a much smaller batch, but it wasn't nearly as time consuming as I thought and I can really see these having a value as a skill to me. I can't wait to try more flavors! Love you, MOM :-)

Saturday, June 27, 2009

June Daring Bakers - Bakewell Tart - er- Pudding

June 27th is here and it is time to post another challenge!

The June Daring Bakers' challenge was hosted by Jasmine of Confessions of a Cardamom Addict and Annemarie of Ambrosia and Nectar. They chose a Traditional (UK) Bakewell Tart... er... pudding that was inspired by a rich baking history dating back to the 1800's in England.

Considering how much I read British writers, you would think I'd have heard of it. Alas, no such luck. But it looked good! I chose to use Strawberry Jam and I ground my own almond flour. The recipe calls for icing sugar, and I almost goofed and put in regular sugar before I realized it was confectioner's sugar that was being called for.

I used comments from other people to make some changes. I blindbaked the crust, and instead of bringing it to room tempature, I used the heat of the crust to warm the jam, making it easier to spread. Looking at other pictures, I slightly increased the amount of jam called for, as I really like the jam layer. I was concerned that I would not get the lift I was looking for as the frangipane layer started to melt in the heat before I put it in the over, but that was not the case.

I loved the frangipane layer and the strawberry layer, but the cookie crust was a little tough. I don't know whether I did not measure the flour correctly or if the blind baking made it tougher. Overall this is a keeper and looks really impressive!

Monday, June 15, 2009

June Daring Cooks - POTSTICKERS!

The second Daring Cooks' challenge is hosted by Jen of and it is Chinese dumplings which can be steamed, boiled or fried (called potstickers). Jen, thank you so, so much for the delightful challenge!!

She had posted a pork filling that I used. I made the full version, cooked up some and froze the rest. The filling was amazing! It is full of cabbage, mushrooms, ginger, pork, soy sauce, and bean sprouts.

I had trouble making the wontons, as I could not figure out how much dough I needed to start. The dough itself is great to work with, but my first wontons were very small and only a little bit of filling was in each one. It was a struggle between not wanting too much dougn, because I didn't want them to be doughy, and too little, because I wanted to be able to actually taste the filling.

When I fried them, I think I added too much water to the steaming step of making potstickers, and where I had too much dough, they came out chewy. There were definitely moments of divineness though, and I would love to try these again.

See you all next month!

Monday, June 1, 2009

Daring Bakers - Strudel!

Sorry for the late posting!

The May Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Linda of make life sweeter! and Courtney of Coco Cooks. They chose Apple Strudel from the recipe book Kaffeehaus: Exquisite Desserts from the Classic Cafés of Vienna, Budapest and Prague by Rick Rodgers.

I really enjoyed this challenge, but I found the final product a little flat. I think the reason was that I used unsalted butter. I think that if I had used salted butter, the additional salt would have enhanced the dough.

The dough was a dream to work with, I didn't find it to be sticky at all. I only made a half batch as I was the one to eat it all! I used apples and cinnamon as the filling.

The bread crumbs I found I had too many of, so I only used about 1/2 that I was supposed to.

Here is what it looked like going into the oven. Looks authentic! I will make this recipe again, and I was definitely inspired as what other Daring Bakers used this recipe to make.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Daring Cooks Challenge - Ricotta Gnocchi

This month, the first ever Daring Cooks Challenge!

Ricotta Gnocchi!!

We have chosen a recipe from the stunning cookbook by Judy Rodgers, named after her restaurant, The Zuni Café Cookbook.

I am so frustrated because mine was an abject failure.

I made these and they were soo soft, it wasn't funny. I tried a few in the test batch and they fell apart. (they had a great light taste though, not eggy in the least) Adding more liquid in the form of egg whites just seemed so counterintuitive, so instead I added some flour. It didn't really help. I left them in the refridgerator on parchment paper to dry them out individually. Didn't help. Tried freezing them. Didn't help. Took the frozen ones and cooked them in butter. Nope. Somehow this was just an abject failure for me or I just don't know what I did wrong. I live in an italian neighborhood in Brooklyn, where many of the stores carry fresh made ricotta, and the flavor really seemed to be something I would like. I agree that mine (if they would have worked) would have needed a light sauce.

Monday, April 27, 2009

April Daring Bakers! - Cheesecake

The April 2009 challenge is hosted by Jenny from Jenny Bakes. She has chosen Abbey's Infamous Cheesecake as the challenge.

I have not been blogging my challenges with the Daring Baker's, and I think that it is time for that to change! :-)

This month,the challenge is Cheesecake. I was inspired to do a layered chocolate/plain cheesecake, something that I had admired but never really tried. The reality is I have only ever made 1 cheesecake and I was intimated by this challenge, which is why I put it off until the last weekend. Imagine my surprise when this was so easy and so tasty!!! Definitely a keeper and lots of possibilities with this recipe!

As is plainly visible, I got a huge split! This photo was taken right out of the oven. As the cake cooled, the split got bigger and bigger! :-( I wonder if it was caused by overbaking or if it was caused by what I used for the chocolate layer. I had Hershey's Special Dark Kisses hanging around, I took 6, melted them with a small amount of heavy cream, and added that to half of the cheesecake batter. Perhaps the chocolate seized? I also used tea bisquits for the crust, and cut the butter in half after seeing that a few bakers had problems with the butter leaking out. The bisquits crust definitely got hard enough.

I cut the cake after 5 hours, since I was not serving it to company. It was so light and airy, it reminded me more of cheesepie than cheesecake. The texture was so overwhelming that the flavor got lost. After storing the rest of the cheesecake overnight, it definitely solidified for a more traditional cheesecake texture and the chocolate flavor started to come through. Definitely a keeper!

Monday, January 19, 2009

Winter is here!

It is snowing out. Beautiful peaceful snow falling on an anxious, restless mind...

What to do next?
What do I want?
What do I want to do next?
Aren't these the eternal questions?

Sitting in the house, no longer my home... wondering what else is out there, curious, excited, wondering if it is too late? Can this be a starting line, or a finish tape?

Feelings are good... my friend!