Bacon Maple Walnut Pie

•September 25, 2012 • 2 Comments

I celebrated my thirty seventh birthday yesterday.  Instead of a cake, I decided to make a birthday pie.  While at the dinner table, this is the conversation that went down:

Me: Tomorrow, I’m going to make a pie. A Bacon, maple walnut pie to be exact.

Hannah: Ethan, did you hear mom? She’s going to combine two of your most favorite things in the world: Bacon and pie.

Bud: Birthday Bacon Pie?? Awesome!

I have always loved my mom’s Maple Walnut pie.  She used to make it when we had our bakery years ago and because I believe everything is better with Bacon*, I decided to kick my favorite up a notch.

While the whole walnuts were toasting in the oven, I chopped and fried up six slices of bacon.

I realized that I didn’t have any maple extract in the house.  That may have been a complete failure, if I didn’t have a whole bottle of Sapling Maple Liqueur ready to take its place.

After everything was mixed up and poured into the pan, I sprinkled chopped Bacon over the top of my pie.

The pie browned up so beautifully and the Bacon didn’t burn at all.  I did a final brush with some more maple syrup once the pie came out.

Once it’s cool, I will be enjoying some with a bit of ice cream, more chopped Bacon and Sapling drizzled over everything.

*I believe in it so much that even my phone automatically capitalizes the word. 

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Lions and Tigers and Bear Claws, Oh My!

•September 25, 2012 • Leave a Comment

Oh my, indeed.

Thanks to Dorie Greenspan’s, Baking With Julia, I embarked on an a Bear Claw adventure this past weekend.

I picked the brain of one of my co-workers and he recommended that I use Danish dough for this project.  This proved to be a much easier dough to make than the croissants I made two weeks prior.

This recipe only called for two sticks of butter-half of what the croissants called for.

Day one:

I mixed up whole milk, water, yeast, sugar, salt, and egg and let it sit for a bit.

Meanwhile, I put the flour and butter into the bowl of the food processor.  This was a new technique that I am now in love with.

I mixed the liquid with the dry, just enough to moisten the dough.  I covered it and it went into the fridge, overnight.

Day Two:

I turned the dough out onto the floured counter and proceeded to roll it into a sixteen inch square.  I folded it into thirds and turned it.  Rolling it out again, this time into a rectangle, ten inches wide by twenty four inches long.  Again, it got folded into thirds.

It next gets rolled out to a twenty inch square and folded again.  I repeated these two steps, twice more.

Because the dough had less butter, it didn’t need as much chilling between turns.

The recipe said to chill for thirty minutes but I decided to give it overnight.

Day Three:

I rolled out the dough and decided to do a couple different fillings: Almond, cinnamon sugar, chocolate and raspberry.

I rolled the dough into a long tube and cut pastry scraper lengths.  I then cut “fingers” into each one and formed them into a semi-circle on the baking sheets.

After an egg wash, I let them rise until they were twice in size.

After a light dusting of cinnamon and sugar, they were baked for about eighteen minutes.

Once they cooled down a bit, I drizzled a powdered sugar glaze over them.

These seemed more flaky and buttery than the croissants–if that even seems possible.

We enjoyed these with some crisp bacon and freshly ground and brewed Guatemalan coffee.

I’m sure I sighed with delight, just as much as I expected to.

The next adventure? Pecan Sticky Buns.

Flaky, buttery…

•September 12, 2012 • 4 Comments

Wait a minute…..this has nothing to do with knitting!  And you would be correct.  It has everything to do with baking, though.

Remember when I warned you that I would post about some of my baking adventures?  Here we go.

About a month ago, I made the mistake of mentioning homemade croissants to my partner.  While he got excited about this idea, I had no idea what I was about to get myself into.

I started googling recipes and in mentioning this plan to my plan to my mom, she mentioned that I would likely find a recipe in Baking With Julia, by Dorie Greenspan.  Lo and behold, there was a recipe on page fifty-two of the book!  I poured over that recipe for the next couple of weeks, formulating a plan of attack.  Yes, I call it an attack; the process was going to take three days to complete.

This past Friday, I embarked on what became an interesting adventure.

I measured out all my ingredients into my kitchen aid bowl, only to find out that I couldn’t find my dough hook anywhere.  I searched through every cupboard and drawer to no avail.  I ended up leaving my mom a very distraught voicemail asking how to proceed without.

I plodded ahead only to find out that I had incorrectly measured too much flour leaving it too dry.  I had to throw the entire batch out.  This is when I realized that I didn’t have enough whole milk or yeast to start a new batch.  I called my ex husband, as he was due to pick up the kids for the weekend.  I caught him just in time to have him stop into the grocery store, walk him through a yeast purchase and then appreciatively thanked him for my replacement ingredients.

Take two:

Day One: Mom returns my phone call and instructs me to start with the paddle and then move to doing the rest by hand–I had a feeling that was going to happen.  I precisely measure out my ingredients and proceed with the utmost trepidation.  So far, so good.  Kneading the dough is a lesson in how easy kitchen machinery makes my life.

After allowing the gluten to a chance to relax, it gets wrapped, loosely, and placed in the fridge overnight.

I head to the city to have dinner with friends and spend the night.

Day Two: The next afternoon, I get back home and start the tedious rolling and “turning” process.

A bit of flour and four and a half sticks of butter go into the mixing bowl and are beaten until they scream (a running joke that my parents have always used when describing a recipe step).

As this is mixing, I start searching for my tape measure.  “Measurements are important when making croissants” is what I’ve been told–No kidding!

The butter gets turned out onto some plastic wrap, beaten again and then formed into an oval before it gets put into the freezer to chill a bit.

I’d been needing a new rolling pin and figured with my birthday coming up in a few weeks, this was the perfect excuse.  I found a beautiful inlaid, bamboo, tapered rolling pin that insisted it come home with me.  How could I resist?

After incorporating the butter and wrapping the dough, we sat down to watch The Gamers: Dorkness Rising on youtube.  This was a campy comedy about an RPG campaign and I finally got to understand a bit more how a campaign is played through.

The new rolling pin made it easier to roll out the dough to a measurement of fourteen by twenty six inches.

After cleaning up the mess all over the floor, counter and myself, we decide that dinner’s not such a bad idea.  It’s not like we’re going to munch on croissants yet……..

Boneless sirloin tip steak, garlic mashed potatoes, sauteed snow peas and some red wine.

After cleaning up and pouring more wine (Come on, I’m going traditional Julia Child-style here….), it’s off to the second turn!

After the third turn, I clean up the kitchen and collapse on the couch to more mindless tv.  After being awakened, we head to bed.  I don’t want to, but I set my alarm for four am.  Those croissants aren’t going to make themselves, lazy good-for-nothings…..

I’m not too happy when the alarm goes off in the morning.  I groan, try to turn over and fall back to sleep but instead hear this sleepy, pleading from beside me: “Please……?  Please will you make me croissants?  Pleeeeeease…..?”  How the hell can I say no to that?

After rolling them out, one last, freaking time, I form them into the traditional croissant shape.  They’re now egg washed and put into the oven to rise.  The one redeeming moment of stumbling into bed after being up in the cold kitchen: having a warm body to snuggle my cold body against.  I didn’t feel one bit guilty.

Ready to bake.

Upon getting out of bed, I find that the croissants aren’t risen as much as they should be.  As much as I love brisk, cool mornings, I start freaking the eff out.  I fiddle with the oven, turning it on and off, to get them to rise properly.

Coffee brews, I prep hashbrown potatoes and get some bacon going.

Finally the croissants are ready to bake.  Twelve minutes are all they take, but we have to be patient and wait to try them until breakfast is completely finished (that, and you have to let them settle a bit before biting into them–the cookbook says so).

I’m sure that I sighed and got lost in the moment I took that first bite.

These croissants were everything that all my hard work went into.

Flaky.

Buttery.

Melt in my mouth.

The cookbook tells you they’re best eaten the day they are made.  I wrapped the leftovers and refrigerated them until the next day.  When I popped them onto a pie plate and warmed them in a 350 degree oven for about five minutes, they tasted just as good as the morning I made them.

Keep tuned for my next pastry adventure: Bear Claws

Yes, they match!

•February 12, 2012 • Leave a Comment

My sister’s words will be forever emblazoned in my memory, the day that I pointed out my niece had on two different socks.

“If they’re clean, they match”.

And she was correct.  I have learned how to not be so worried about my own socks matching, but whether they are clean or not.  I now pass on the sage advice of my sister.  She may be younger than me, but there’s so much wisdom in that bit of advice.  :)

So, to pay homage to my sister’s wonderful lesson in clean laundry, I made my daughter a pair of mittens that follow that same advice.

Need A Hat?

•February 10, 2012 • Leave a Comment

Cold outside?  You need a hat.

Bad hair day?  You need a hat.

Everyone needs a hat, at some time or another.  I’m planning on covering up my friends and loved ones, one head at a time.

I mentioned in a previous post, how much I loved this pattern.  This pattern comes out of a book conveniently titled, “Need A Hat?”, published by Cabin Fever.  This bottom up pattern used size 10 needles and a chunky weight yarn, from Encore. The beauty of this pattern book lies in the possibilities.  Pick a yarn, pick a size and go to town.

I just finished this hat, for the girl-spawn, today.  I’m going to use up the ends of all my skeins and make her a pair of mittens.

I’m still around

•February 8, 2012 • Leave a Comment

And I’m still knitting. I’ve been knitting a lot, actually. I’ve finished a couple of custom pieces for commissions and am, now, working on some personal items.

I’m currently in love with a particular hat pattern, which uses Encore Chunky yarn and size 10 needles. That hat, literally, whips up in less than three days time.

I knew I was obsessed with knitting, but right now that obsession is in overdrive. I don’t let more than twenty four hours go by between finishing a project and casting on a new one.

At the moment, I’m working on a hat for my girl-spawn in a beautiful lime green, wool/acrylic blend.

The hat pattern takes just under a skein of yarn, leaving a little bit left over. I plan on making a pair of striped mittens out of all the remnants. I’m sure girl-spawn will be quite pleased.

On a non-knitting, related note, my mother twisted my arm and convinced me to join the Tuesdays With Dorie, baking group. I was supposed to post yesterday but, with all the sickness in my house (son and myself), I just didn’t get around to it. Be on the lookout for such a post next week, as I plan on getting that accomplished soon.

My ink

•August 26, 2011 • Leave a Comment

image

I got this done in February. It’s my favorite, and largest, tattoo right now. The girl that did wit for me is shone amazing in her abilities. I simply described to her what I wanted and this is what she drew up.

 
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