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Monday, July 27, 2009


The July Daring Bakers' challenge was hosted by Nicole at Sweet Tooth. She chose Chocolate Covered Marshmallow Cookies and Milan Cookies from pastry chef Gale Gand of the Food Network.

July Daring Bakers Challenge - Mallows and/or Milan Cookies

This month's challenge, hosted by Nicole of Sweet Tooth, was mallows and/or milan cookies, both recipes by Gale Gand of the Food Network.

I chose to make the mallows, as I thought both Mom and Syd would enjoy them. So this months challenge is a lesson in...how to bake when you don't have stuff. :P

Butter and flour"Normal" butter and flour...

more butter and flour!Butter and gf-flour

I made one recipe of "normal" shortbread cookies for Syd, and one recipe of gf-shortbread cookies for Mom and me. Well, that isn't technically true. I actually made half recipes of each, because the recipe said one batch makes about two dozen cookies. So I made a half batch, and ended up with....way more than two dozen cookies per batch. Three-dozen circular cookies, four dozen (or so) heart cookies, AND half a dozen fishy cookies. Granted, I did use the 1" circular cutter rather than the 1 1/2" cutter, as that is what I had (the recipe called for a 1" or 1 1/2" cutter, by the way). And since I don't actually have a mixer, I "sanded" the butter and flour by hand. Once per batch. Ow.

Sandy flourOne batch of dough has been sanded...

Sand..I want to go to the beachThe second batch, sanded!

Awww aren't they so cute and little?

circles and hearts and fishes!Syd's cookies

More cute little cookiesMy crumbly cookies

The gf-dough was a little bit crumbly, it wanted to crack and fall apart, but somehow I made it work, and the cookies turned out fine. Syd liked them, anyways...>.>

The marshmallow insides could be made from scratch or you could just use store-bought marshmallows. I decided to *try* to make my own. I have tried before, with Mom (to make marshmallow peeps :P) but have always failed. Marshmallows are evil.

fluffy and whiteMmmmmmmmmmarshmaaaaaaaaaallows

But...I think these turned out okay. Which is surprising, because my old candy thermometer is messed up, and the new one didn't submerge all the way into the syrup. :(

And I used my little hand mixer for the marshmallows, I think it would have been easier with a large mixer. But they are so expensive. :\

Pretty cookies on platesCookies ready for marshmallows

I piped the marshmallows on the cookies with my pastry tip (which I bought to make churros but still haven't made XD) and a plastic bag (no, I don't have pastry bags or decorating bags or anything...siiiiiiiiiigh)...unfortunately, by the time I was on my second tray of cookies the marshmallows had gotten hard and I had trouble piping them out. And then I got a phone call that I had to take (not taking phone calls is NOT an option when you are looking for a job!!!) so then the marshmallows were even more stiff. I tried to save them so I will have homemade marshmallows that are not on the cookies, but the marshmallow goo may have been too set up already. We'll see..

Marhsmallowy cookiesMy cookies with marshmallows...

Not as pretty :(Syd's marshmallow cookies..you can see the marshmallow started to set up while I was piping so these don't look as nice as mine.

Yay chocolate! I had a whole bunch of chocolate glaze leftover, even after glazing the cookies that didn't get marshmallow put on them!

ChocolateCookie dripping with liquidy chocolate...

Of course, I did my cookies first to avoid contamination.

My cookies, dipped

Then, I did Syd's. :)

Syd's cookies, after dipping.

The recipe: With my notes/changes/etc in italics

Mallows(Chocolate Covered Marshmallow Cookies)
Recipe courtesy Gale Gand, from Food Network website

Prep Time: 10 min
Inactive Prep Time: 5 min
Cook Time: 10 min
Serves: about 2 dozen cookies if you say so...

• 3 cups (375grams/13.23oz) all purpose flour For gluten-free, I subsituted all-purpose gf flour in the same amount, plus 3 tsp Xanthan Gum
• 1/2 cup (112.5grams/3.97oz) white sugar
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
• 3/8 teaspoon baking soda
• 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
• 12 tablespoons (170grams/ 6 oz) unsalted butter
• 3 eggs, whisked together If I made this again, I would add a little extra egg or water to the gf-recipe, it might help it stick together better
• Homemade marshmallows, recipe follows
• Chocolate glaze, recipe follows

1. In a mixer with the paddle attachment, blend the dry ingredients. or by hand..
2. On low speed, add the butter and mix until sandy. Still by hand...
3. Add the eggs and mix until combine. Whew!
4. Form the dough into a disk, wrap with clingfilm or parchment and refrigerate at least 1 hour and up to 3 days.
5. When ready to bake, grease a cookie sheet or line it with parchment paper or a silicon mat.
6. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
7. Roll out the dough to 1/8-inch thickness, on a lightly floured surface. Use a 1 to 1 1/2 inches cookie cutter to cut out small rounds of dough.
8. Transfer to the prepared pan and bake for 10 minutes or until light golden brown. Let cool to room temperature.
9. Pipe a “kiss” of marshmallow onto each cookie. Let set at room temperature for 2 hours. Don't let your masrshmallows get too stiff. I wasn't sure if mine were going to set up at all, but I ended up waiting too long and it was really hard to pipe out the second half..
10. Line a cookie sheet with parchment or silicon mat.
11. One at a time, gently drop the marshmallow-topped cookies into the hot chocolate glaze. Don't leave them in too long or the marshmallow will melt!
12. Lift out with a fork and let excess chocolate drip back into the bowl. I used a chocolate fork, which is one thing I actually have. Well, kind of have. It's plastic, not metal :(
13. Place on the prepared pan and let set at room temperature until the coating is firm, about 1 to 2 hours.

Note: if you don’t want to make your own marshmallows, you can cut a large marshmallow in half and place on the cookie base. Heat in a preheated 350-degree oven to slump the marshmallow slightly, it will expand and brown a little. Let cool, then proceed with the chocolate dipping. But that is no fun!

Homemade marshmallows:I followed this pretty exactly
• 1/4 cup water
• 1/4 cup light corn syrup
• 3/4 cup (168.76 grams/5.95oz) sugar
• 1 tablespoon powdered gelatin
• 2 tablespoons cold water
• 2 egg whites , room temperature
• 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1. In a saucepan, combine the water, corn syrup, and sugar, bring to a boil until “soft-ball” stage, or 235 degrees on a candy thermometer.
2. Sprinkle the gelatin over the cold water and let dissolve.
3. Remove the syrup from the heat, add the gelatin, and mix.
4. Whip the whites until soft peaks form and pour the syrup into the whites.
5. Add the vanilla and continue whipping until stiff.Don't recommend doing this with a hand mixer. It's not easy.
6. Transfer to a pastry bag. With a pretty tip!

Chocolate glaze:Yeah I didn't change this one either
• 12 ounces semisweet chocolate
• 2 ounces cocoa butter or vegetable oil

1. Melt the 2 ingredients together in the top of a double boiler Yay I have a double boiler! or a bowl set over barely simmering water.

Final Comments:
I couldn't get the chocolate to set up, despite following the recipe. So I ended up putting the cookies in the freezer. Hey..whatever.

Syd really liked his cookies.

I thought they were icky. However, Mom liked my cookies (she also eat gf), so..maybe it was just me. I didn't like the buttery shortbread (plus gf dough has a weird grainy texture) with the combination of the sweet marshmallow and the chocolate. Ew.

But they were pretty.

Pretty finished cookies!Oooh, chocolatey oustide..

Insides showing...marshmallowy cookie insides!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Illustration Friday, and stuff.

Illustration Friday! I actually did this week's promot! You can see it here. Not brilliant. Not even close to brilliant. But...better than nothing, and at least my people look relatively normal. Usually when I try to draw ballroom couples it just looks wrong. XD

Let's see...what else do I have to say?

I'm tired. I don't know what we are doing this weekend. I kind of don't want to do anything, because I'm tired of not feeling well. But I haven't felt well anyways the past three days so I don't know if it will make me feel that much worse.


I really want to buy yarn and beads but I don't feel like I can afford it, so...I haven't. :(

Enough whining. I will go do something useful now. Meh.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Why do so many people hate seafood?

Seriously, I don't get it. About 90% of people I know HATE seafood. Won't TOUCH seafood. And here is the really odd thing. I love fish...but I HATE chicken. HATE it. I won't eat chicken to save my life. "Everybody" loves chicken, a good portion of "everybody" hate seafood, and I am exactly the opposite. Funny. Luckily, Syd likes fish. We have been eating a lot of fish lately, actually...

...annnnnnnnnd July's Daring Cook's Challenge?
Skate, with Traditional Powdered Flavors

This month's challenge was hosted by Sketchy of Sketchy's Kitchen. The recipe is from Grant Achatz, found in the Alinea cookbook.

Shockingly enough, there was nothing in this recipe that I couldn't have! However, I won't eat skate on principle (too close to sharks for me. Poor little sharkies!). And I don't think you can buy it around here anyways, so I am substituting cod.

Our table looks so small...but yet is bigger than in our old apartment o.0
The finished meal :)

Anyyyyyyyyyyyway, on to the notes:

In-progress Comments

I made four different powders. And I think I changed every recipe that was given! Each powder was a 50/50 (approx.) combination of two ingredients. In no particular order, they are: lemon/powdered sugar, spinach/parmesean cheese, oregano/cilantro, and onion/paprika.

Powdery Goodness!
My Powders - Top Row, Left to Right: Lemon Powder, Spinach/Cheese powder. Bottom Row, Left to Right: Paprika/Onion powder, Cilantro/Parsely powder.

I got the idea for the onion/paprika powder from the Daring Cooks discussion boards, and I had a bunch of spinach on hand so I decided why not make a spinach powder, and looked up combinations online. The choice was between artichoke (didn't have), strawberry (a bit weird for me), and cheese, so I went with the cheese.

I actually didn't take a whole lot of pictures, oops. Partly because I wasn't sure how the powders were going to turn out, and partly I was just lazy. :P

I borrowed the coffee grinder from Mom, as I don't drink coffee and Syd doesn't drink enough to justify a grinder...and I got through making the first powder and realized that somehow I have lost my pastry brush (I *know* I had one!), *sigh*, so I had to go out and buy one. A cheap one. Moving is expensive. :'( Which partly explains some of the short cuts I took on this recipe.

Oh, I also completely skipped over the green beans. I had a, *ahem*, incident with Green Bean Almond Dean (luckily I was okay, almonds don't really seem to cause me problems like walnuts and pecans, but it scared me half to death) so now I am not eating green beans. Ever. Even if I cook them. Even if Mom cooks them. Even if I can guarantee they are 100% safe. They just don't look appetizing. So...yep.

And, finally, I thought the banana was weird so I made potato cakes with leftover mashed potatoes. Well, I tried, but I burned them so I ended up just making mashed potatoes. Sigh. And I forgot to buy banana chips (well, I am on a budget here :P) and I couldn't find cream powder and I didn't want to buy a whole big box of powdered milk that I will most likely never use again so I skipped that as well.

I decided to poach the fish in olive oil with herbs rather than in the beurre monte...it sounded better. I'm not a butter person. :P Also, I gave Syd three choices: the beurre monte, water & wine, or olive oil.

Olive oil, after the fish had been cooked (I don't know why I didn't take any pictures of the fish actually poaching o.0 Shame on me!), with rosemary, thyme, and a bay leaf

The fish did turn out really well, though.

Poor dead, but yummy, fish!
Finished, nicely browned fish...with the bay leaf on top. Syd thought it looked pretty this way. :P

Swirling the powders was a lot of fun. XD But maybe I am just really easily amused and still like to play with my food. :P

Playing with your food is fun!
A heart <3

I heart my husband
Syd's plate...I swirled the powders for him

Syd wanted to swirl powders, too...

My husband...um..spirals me? o.0
My plate...husband swirled the powders for me

Gosh, for this actually being a recipe that I can technically eat, I change a lot of things! o.0 Oops.

The Recipe, With My Changes
My changes are either noted in italics or by strikethroughs, but I will leave the original recipe for those who read this blog who haven't tried this recipe...hahaha riiiight, nobody reads this. Except for people who follow the daring kitchen links. Who will have most likely already made it. :P

Skate, Traditional Flavors Powdered - with changes
•4 skate wings Substituted 4 cod fillets
•* Beurre monte poached in olive oil with herbs
•* 300g fresh green beans Currently not eating green beans!
•sea salt/kosher salt
•1 banana I ran out of bananas, and thought this sounded odd.
•454g butter - 4 sticksFor the beurre monte, which I did not make
•300g lemons
•1/2 Tbsp powdered sugar
•5g citric acid/vitamin c tablet Forgot about this ^^'
•150g cilantro
•150g parsley
•100g dried banana chips Forgot to buy these, and didn't feel like going back to the store. Also did not want to spend more money that I really had to.
•300g spray dried cream powder (or powdered milk) Could not find this, and did not want to buy large box of powdered milk
•100g cup minced red onion
•1 tsp paprika
•200g capers (brined, not oil) Too expensive :'(
•300g cup spinach leaves
•1 Tbsp parmesean cheese
•Olive oil, enough for poaching
•thyme, rosemary, and a bay leaf

* For green beans, slice each beans into very thin rounds (2 mm)
* Beurre Monte - 454g butter (4 sticks, 1 pound) cubed and cold, 60g water. In a small saucepan, bring the water to a boil, remove from heat and whisk in the butter 1 cube at a time. This should from an emulsion. Keep this heated, but under 195 degrees. The emulsion will not break - this is your poaching liquid.

Powders - prepare ahead of time
caper / onion I made the onion powder but added paprika to it
lemon powder
cilantro/parsly powder
'brown butter' powder I did not make this
spinach/cheese powder I made this one up from scratch :P

once dried, all powders should be pulsed in a coffee grinder/spice mill/morter and pestle then passed through a chinois or fine mesh strainer.

citrus powder
300g lemons
1000g simple syrup
5g citric acid/vitamin c tablet

zest 300g of lemons (10.6 oz), remove the pith from the zest and poach in the simple syrup three times(Note: I do not have a lemon zester, so I used a grater to remove the zest and the pieces were too fine to poach in the simple syrup because I do not have a strainer, and was not going to buy one for this purpose). dry with paper towels and move to a dehydrating tray. 130 for 12 hours. pulse the zest in a coffee grinder, pass through chinois, and mix with citric acid/vitamin C powder powdered sugar.

If you do not have a dehydrator, place in microwave for 8 to 10 minutes at medium powder. Once dried, follow the other instructions. Note: it probably took my microwave 15 minutes half power to dry the lemon zest...my microwave is pathetic.

cilantro/parsley powder
150g cilantro
150g parsley

blanch the parsley in boiling saltwater for 1 second, submerge the leaves in ice water for 3 minutes. Dry on paper towels and place on dehydrator tray. 130 for 12 hours. grind and pass through chinois.

If you do not have a dehydrator, place in microwave for 30 seconds, turn over leaves and microwave for another thirty seconds. They should be dry by now, pulse in coffee grinder, pass through chinois and reserve.

onion/paprika powder
100g cup minced red onions
1 tsp paprika

dehydrator - 130 for 12 hours
microwave at medium power for 20 minutes. Double the time for my microwave :'(

pulse in grinder, add paprika, pass through chinois

Caper powder I did not make this
200g capers (get the ones packed in brine/vinegar)

run the capers under cold water for two minutes to remove some of the brine.
dry on paper towels and dehydrate for 12 hours at 130 degrees.
microwave instructions are unclear. Dry them as much a possible with paper towels, the microwave on medium for 1 minute. Check the moisture content and stir them. repeat for 30 second intervals until they are dry. If you use this method, pleas post the time needed to dry the capers.

Once dry, pulse and sift the powder. Mix it with the onion powder.

Spinach/Cheese Powder I made this one up myself!
300 g spinach leaves
1 Tbsp parmesean cheese

Blanch the spinach in boiling saltwater for 30 seconds, drain, and place in ice water for 3 minutes. Pat dry.

Place in microwave, microwave at 30 second intervals (full power) twice, then for five minutes at half power, and then for 30 seconds at full power.

Place cheese in microwave, microwave for 5 minutes at half power.

Once dry, pulse both powders in grinder and mix together.

I do not have dehydrator instructions, as I do not have a dehydrator.

Brown Butter powder I did not make this either

100g Dried banana chips (unsweetened if possible - many are coated in honey - the freeze dried ones would be brilliant)
300g spray dried cream powder

If you cannot find the cream powder, you can substitute Bob's red mill non fat dry milk powder, or even carnation instant milk powder. The substitutions will alter the flavor a little, but you will still get the general idea.

preheat the oven to 350 degrees, sift the cream powder into a fine layer on a silpat or on parchment. bake for 4 minutes, then remove for heat. If it bakes for too long, it will burn. Be very cautious with all powders in the oven. They all go from browned to burnt in a few seconds.

grind the banana chips in a coffee grinder and mix with the toasted cream powder. Pass this through a chinois and reserve.

* For green beans, slice each beans into very thin rounds (2 mm)
* Beurre Monte - 454g butter (4 sticks, 1 pound) cubed and cold, 60g water. In a small saucepan, bring the water to a boil, remove from heat and whisk in the butter 1 cube at a time. This should from an emulsion. Keep this heated, but under 195 degrees. The emulsion will not break - this is your poaching liquid.
I did not make either of these!

Skate Or cod :P
Prepare the skate - 50G v shaped cuts are recommended
Bring 100g water, 100g beurre monte, and green bean rounds to a boil over high heat. Cook until the water has evaporated (about 3 minutes), when the pan is almost dry, remove it from heat and season with 3g salt

bring 300g water and 300g beurre monte to simmer over medium heat, add skate wings and simmer for 2 minutes.

I replaced the above with:
Add a dash of rosemary and thyme to the olive oil. Add one bay leaf. Heat until herbs have a change to flavor the oil. Poach the fish for 4 minutes per side, flipping to poach both sides.

Remove the pan from heat and flip the wing over and let rest in pan for two more minutes. Transfer to warming tray lined with parchment and season with 5 grams of fine sea salt.


Take the tip of a small spoon and make a small mound of the citrus powder, the onion-caper powder, the spinach/cheese powder and the cilantro parsley-powder. Swirl these around in a hurricane type pattern. I found that it is easier, and you get finer lines if you lightly shake the plate to flatten out the mounds, then swirl the spoon through it to get the pattern.

peel the remaining banana into very think slices (3mm) fan three slices on the plate, place green beans on top and place skate wing portion on top. On the tall edge, sprinkle the brown butter powder.

My original idea was to replace the banana/green beans with potato cakes, but I accidentally burned those so we just had mashed potatoes on the side. Sigh.

The Final Comments...aka After Eating

So. I thought the powder concept was a bit weird, honestly. And I thought it gave a strange, dry texture to the whole thing as well. However, they did taste good. I really liked all of the powders except for the cilantro/parsley powder, which I felt didn't have enough flavor. The rest were really good.

I enjoyed swirling the powders into pretty designs, and the overall effect was very nice.

More pretty powders!
I did this after I was done eating...it's a flowery fern thingy.

So, an intriguing recipe that tasted better than I initially thought, and one that actually wasn't difficult to make. It took a while, but most of that time was spent waiting on my pathetic microwave to dry the ingredients enough that I could make the powders!

I ended up with lots of leftover powder, so I might use it up the next time we have fish.

My husband had only one thing to say after eating:


Monday, July 13, 2009

I hate allergies. :(

I really, really do.

It is so hard to go someplace knowing that going anywhere at all you are taking a risk.

For instance, whenever I go to my best friends' parents' house, I know that inevitably I am going to be miserable the next day, and 9 times out of 10 I am going to be miserable (sneezing, itchy eyes) while I am there. They live on a farm.

Knowing that, however, I can't always get out of going to their house.

Add on top of that the fact that I can't eat gluten. Usually they fix something like tacos, but not always, and then I am hungry AND miserable.

And then there are the things you don't even think about until it is too late. Irene has a sun conure, Pearl. The. most. annoying. bird. ever. A bird whose favorite food happens to be...cashews. >.< Having never owned a bird (allergies...ugh), I didn't even think about what the bird eats.

It is so weird, too...everyone else happily feeds Pearl cashews without even thinking about it, but to me cashews are as scary as...oh I don't even know what. But very, very scary. And to everyone else, it's just food. That is so weird.

Anyways, I'm going to go off and be miserably sneezy and get stuff done anyways.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

The joys of moving!

...no, seriously! I LOVE my new apartment. Absolutely. 100%. Well, except for the bathroom storage. That is lacking. But! Everything else is great. =)

And, now that I have this great place, I get to....decorate it! YAY! Of course, I have to decorate on a budget, sadly. At least until I get a job. Which may not be any time soon. Stupid economy. :'(

But I will eventually get around to posting pictures of the projects that I have done/am planning on doing. Yep. ^_^ Once everything is nice and tidy and put away (okay, most everything IS already put away, but still...the apartment is a *bit* empty. Well, totally empty. Furniture-speaking, at least. The closets are full of junk. I'm not sure why we have all of this stuff. o.0 And yet I'm not sure if there is anything that I want to actually get rid of! Terrible...*sigh* I am such a pack rat. :P

Also, I have determined that Syd and I need kitchen aprons. Syd has ruined at least two shirts now with oil, and I inevitably get something on myself (although I haven't ruined anything....yet). So sometime I will go to Michaels/JoAnn's/HobbyLobby/Crafts2000 and buy two plain aprons. With coupons. Or maybe I will just buy fabric and hijack my Mom's sewing machine. Not sure yet. Then I will airbrush them with pretty pictures! Yay!

I haven't done any projects for two weeks now, nor have I been to a craft store. Having withdrawl, but saving a little bit of money. Moving is, alas, expensive. :'(

Sometime I will get around to finishing my needle-felting. Maybe. And a couple of my knitting projects. And stuff. But for the moment I have been concentrating on a) putting stuff away, b) keeping stuff put away, and c) studying .NET programming skills which will (hopefully) give me the edge I need to get a job.

So maybe I will post some programming fun here once I finish what I am currently working on!

I still want to make a new blog layout. But alas, there are many other things that come first. Like a professional website. And ASP.NET programs. And studying for Microsoft Certification. And learning Flash programming. And working on XNA games. And stuff.

Sometime I should update my 101/1001 list. o.0

Oh! I'm working on a new poi move - behind the back weave. It's actually coming along quite nicely.

Okay, longer post than I was planning. Also, more rambling post than I was planning. :P Go figure. Oh well, you can't have it all, I guess! Yeah I should go finish dinner now.