Thursday, March 29, 2007
2nd Place Winner-Better Photo-February,2007
3/24/2007 Photographer Patricia H. Daley (Cafe Lynnylu) of Evans, GA, has won Second Place for February in the prestigious photography contest sponsored by BetterPhoto.com, the site's founder, Jim Miotke, announced Saturday.
More than 21800 entries were submitted to the online photography contest, which attracted contestants from around the world and featured 10 separate categories.
Daley's stunning image, "Fizzy Lemons", garnered top honors after being submitted in the Details & Macro category.
All of the winning images can be viewed at BetterPhoto.com's contest page: Better Photo Contest Winners"
The contest is conducted each month. Categories include Nature and Landscapes, Animals, People, Elements of Design, Digital Darkroom, Travel and Place, Flowers, Details and Macro, Catch-All, and Monthly Theme. Judging is performed by a panel of professional photographers.
Besides its free, popular photo contest, BetterPhoto.com also offers a variety of services: digital camera reviews, online photo courses, free newsletters, a discussion forum, Web sites for photographers, question-and-answer section, how-to articles, photo galleries, and more.
Photographers can enter this month's contest and learn more about photography at: Better Photo Photography
Saturday, March 24, 2007
Teddy Bear Breads
Yield: six 6-inch bears
Using half the recipe of Sweet Simple Dough from Torta Aperta-Dried Cherry and Mango Pie, these little bears are great for a children's birthday party or as a special breakfast dish guaranteed to please.
1/2 Simple Sweet Dough
1 beaten egg plus 1 tablespoon of water for the egg wash
Currants or small raisins for decoration
Turbinado sugar for decoration
Grease two cookie sheets. After the first rise of Simple Sweet Dough, punch down and divide into 12 equal pieces. Use two pieces for each bear: Roll one piece of dough into a ball about 2 inches in diameter; this will be the body of the bear. Take a small pinch of dough from this piece and roll into a peas-sized ball for the nose. Divide another ball of dough in half. Roll one half into a ball for the head:place above the large piece of dough ball on the baking sheet, so they are touching. Divide the other half into six small pieces, roll these into small balls for the ears, nose, feet and hands, and attach to the bear. Repeat with the remaining dough, placing the bears 3 inches apart on the sheets. Cover with a towel and let rise for 20 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Insert raisins or currants into the heads for the bears eyes. Brush the bears with the egg with the egg wash. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until golden brown. Cool on racks.
Recipe from The Baker's Companion Magazine-Spring 2007
Wednesday, March 21, 2007
Looking back over my past blog entries, I've noticed an Italian theme weaving through. It's quite accidental, of course, as I choose my recipes at random when something catches my eye. It could be the way a certain dish is styled, an ingredient that is in season, a serving dish, or any number of reasons. Just the name of the recipe can tempt me as did for this post. Torta Aperta.
Torta means cake in Italian, Spanish and Bulgarian and Aperta means open. Open Cake certainly doesn't sound as romantic as Torta Aperta-sweet yeast bread filled with dried cherries macerated in Amaretto, diced ripe mango and sprinkled with turbinado sugar.
Made from a simple sweet yeast dough formulated by Mary Ann Esposito, star of the PBS show Ciao Italia and guest teacher at King Arthur Flour Baking Center in Norwich, Vermont, the Torta Aperta is perfect for breakfast with family or friends or as a dessert topped with ice cream.
Simple Sweet Dough
Yield: 2 1/2 pounds of dough, enough for two large pies
2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
1/4 cup (2 ounces) warm 110 to 115 degrees 1% milk
3 large eggs, at room temperature
4 1/2 to 5 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1/2 cup (3 ounces) sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
8 tablespoons (4 ounces, 1 stick)unsalted butter, softened
In a medium bowl, sprinkle the yeast over the water and mix with a spoon until the yeast dissolves. Let the mixture proof for about 5 minutes, until small bubbles begin to form. Stir in the milk. With a fork, beat in the eggs one at a time. Set aside.
In another bowl, mix together 4 cups of the flour, the sugar and salt. Break up the butter over the dry ingredients and work it in with your hands until the mixture is crumbly. Add the yeast mixture and mix with your hands until you form a ball of dough. Add additional flour if necessary to obtain a dough that is soft, but not too sticky.
Lightly spray a large bowl with cooking oil or spray or lightly coat with butter. Gather up the dough, place it in the bowl and turn to coat. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let the dough rise until doubled in size, 2-2 1/2 hours.
When the dough has risen to approximately two times its size, use two fingers to make two indentations into the center of it. If the indentations do not close up, the dough is sufficiently risen and ready to use. Divide into two pieces. One piece will make the following Torta Aperta. If you want to make two pies with this dough, double the filling and use entire Sweet Simple Dough recipe.
1/2 recipe Simple Sweet Dough
1 cup dried cherries
1/4 cup amaretto liqueur
1 large mango, peeled, pit removed and diced
1 egg, slightly beaten
1 tablespoon turbinado(coarse brown) sugar
Place the cherries in a small bowl and pour the liqueur over them. Stir well and let macerate at least 1 hour.
Roll the dough out into a 15-inch circle. Carefully lift dough up and place it in a 10-inch shallow pie plate. Glass or ceramic plates are good. Let the excess dough hang over.
Add the mango pieces to the dried cherry mixture and spread the fruit with its liquid over the dough. Using scissors, cut 2-inch slits in the overhanging dough all around the dish leaving the center open. Cover with a towel and let rise 35 minutes.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Brush the top of the dough with the beaten egg and sprinkle the turbinado sugar over it. Bake for 30-35 minutes until it is golden brown and firm to the touch. Cool completely. Cut into wedges to serve or remove entire pie from pan by running a knife around the edges of the dish and with a spatula, carefully lift the pie onto a serving dish.
Recipe From The Baker's Companion Magazine-Spring 2007
Sunday, March 18, 2007
Wednesday, March 7, 2007
Blood Oranges, A Juice History
In the 1980's, a Mrs. Smith who lived in California was especially proud of her Valencia oranges, but one day upon inspecting the fruit on the tree, she found that the coloring of the orange was blushed with orange and red and the juice was almost a blood red. Suspecting her neighbors of injecting poison or blood into her oranges, she contacted the police who were totally baffled. The fruit was sent to the University of California at Riverside where they came to the conclusion that her fruit had recapitulated or mutated back to the birth of the blood orange in China. Other stories will say that the blood orange was brought to America by Italian immigrants in the 1930's.
According to David Karp, the "Fruit Detective" who writes for a publication called the Fruit Gardener, most oranges have one of two of the genes that create red pigment. Blood oranges have both and it is anthocyanin gene that is responsible for the red coloring. Anthcyanin is reputed to be a strong antioxidant.The Italians praise the Tarocco variety and look down upon the Moro, grown in California and is the darker of the two. The Tarocco, the Moro and the Sanquinello, native to Spain are all available in the US almost year round.
Blood orange juice can be used as any other orange juice and dishes made with blood oranges are especially popular around Valentine's Day. My blood orange sorbet garnished with strips of orange peel can be served on any occasion and would be especially refreshing after a heavy meal. It is also my entry for Weekend Herb Blogging event hosted by Anna of Morsels and Musings.
For further reading: Wikipedia, NPR:The Juicy History of Blood Oranges and Feelin'Foodie:David Karp-Fruit Detective
Also, a previous post on blood oranges is here.
Blood Orange Sorbet
Adapted from The Ultimate Ice Cream Book by Bruce Weinstein
2/3 cup sugar
1 cup water
8 large blood oranges
Juice of 1 lime
Place the sugar and water in a small saucepan and set over low heat. Stir until sugar dissolves and the syrup is clear. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature.
Cut oranges in half and with a electric or hand juicer, remove juice from oranges. Place in a fine mesh sieve over a bowl and drain off juice, pressing lightly to remove juice. Discard pulp. You should have about 2 cups juice. Combine the juice, cooled sugar syrup and lime juice. Refrigerate until cold.
Freeze mixture in your ice cream machine according to manufacturer's instructions. Sorbet will be soft, but ready to eat. For a firmer sorbet, tranfer to a freezer-safe container and freeze at least two hours. If frozen overnight, place in refrigerator for about 30 minutes to 1 hour to soften.
Sunday, March 4, 2007
On my weekly trips to the bookstore, I am always checking out the bargain book table for marked down cookbooks as I love looking at the photos of food dishes, taking in what props are used, how the photos are styled, lighted and composed getting inspiration for future projects. One cookbook I bought several months ago entitled "Red Hot! A Cook's Encyclopedia of Fire and Spice" appealed to me in many ways. I love hot and spicy food, red and green peppers graced the cover and "encyclopedia" surely meant there was a plethora of recipes covering every hot country in the world. I couldn't wait to try the recipes!
Despite my enthusiasm over the cookbook, it went the way of many of the cookbooks and magazines I buy on a whim-relegated to a pile of other books waiting for time to peruse through them. A few days ago, the book caught my eye again and I began thumbing through the recipes for salads to enter into Weekend Cookbook Challenge created by Sara of I Like to Cook and hosted by Tami of Running with Tweezers. There wasn't much time so I had to get busy with deciding on what to make for the event.
Couscous and Chile Salad is a spicy variation of a classic Tabbouleh, traditionally made with bulgur wheat and not couscous. I added a red jalapeno pepper to the ingredients to spice the dish up a little more.
45ml/3 tbsp olive oil
5 spring onions, chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed
5ml/1 tsp ground cumin
350ml/12 fl.oz/1 1/2 cups vegetable stock
175gm/6 oz/1 cup couscous
2 tomatoes, peeled and chopped
60ml/4 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
60ml/4 tbsp chopped fresh mint
1 fresh green chile, seeded and finely chopped
1 red jalapeno, seeded and finely chopped
30ml/2 tbsp lemon juice
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.
Crisp lettuce leaves, to serve
Toasted pine nuts and grated lemon rind or zest, to garnish
Heat oil in a pan. Add the onions and garlic. Stir in the cumin and cook over medium heat for 1 minute. Pour in the stock and bring to a boil. Remove pan from heat, stir in the couscous, cover the pan tightly and leave to stand for 10 minutes, until most of the liquid is absorbed.
Place the couscous into a bowl. Stir in the tomatoes, parsley, mint chiles and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Let stand covered for 1 hour for the flavors to meld.
To serve, line a bowl with the lettuce leaves and spoon the couscous salad in the center. Sprinkle toasted pine nuts and lemon rind over, to garnish.