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Category Archives: Pastry Chef

Guest at the Doorstep Apple-Berry Charlotte

*This week Chef Karen is going solo……

What is a Charlotte?  I had to look this one up.  I had heard it used in “food-lands” before but didn’t really care…. until now.  Easily defined, it’s a cake that can be served hot or cold.  The one distinction between Charlotte and other cake is that you use a batter for the mold and fill it with fruit.

That being said, I found this Charlotte very easy to make.  The hardest part was peeling and cutting the apples (which I HATE doing!) so if you like the chore, you’ll find this VERY easy. I used frozen blueberries I had in my freezer from pickings I did last summer and the local grocery store had blackberries on sale… YAY!  This is a great time-of-the-year for apples, too.  It says to use a cast-iron pan. I don’t have one so I used one of my fry pans that I can put into the oven.  I’m pretty sure you could also use a baking dish. Just make sure you check for it being done according to how big your dish is.   I took this for a snack and it got rave reviews.  I’m sure you’ll get the same reviews.  I highly recommend this recipe.

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Croissants!

Note: One reason for our blog is to give chefs encouragement to try new things, stretch themselves and maybe even fail. Sometimes the recipes we try work….sometimes they don’t Therefore, we’re pretty honest when we feel something doesn’t work. That”s where we are today.

Chef Karen: I’ve always wanted to make croissants. I love them but was afraid to make them. When Chef Jonathan agreed for them to be our topic this week, I was happy. As I searched for suitable recipes I found there were many choices to choose from. I chose one that I thought looked do-able. We both found out that there were a few challenges with this recipe. Chef Jonathan speaks about some of them so I won’t repeat. One issue was that I found the dough to be dry. Secondly, I found the croissant turned out to be more like a roll than a croissant. They were very dense and not light and crumbly like a croissant should be. Thirdly, the recipe says that the Prep Time is 3 hours. With the rising and waiting, I found it was more like 5 hours. After this experience I’ll never complain about the price of croissants,again. I was very disappointed with the results of this recipe. I think I’ll try another Croissant recipe to appease myself of failure.

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Chef Jonathan: The French Croissant (pronouced Kwaw-son(e) for you non-frenchies….), is one of the most intricate pastries in French Cuisine, along with Profiteroles and Tuile. After making these for the first time, I appreciate the time and effort that a true French Patissier spends each day preparing these wonderful little rolls of dough and butter. This is a pastry that I will likely make once a year, only when I’m feeling super ambitious, because of the time requirement it takes to prepare the croissant. That said, there a few changes to this recipe I would make, of course: first of all, when mixing the dough together, using a hook attachment, I added a few drops of water to bring it together which I then also had to add a tablespoon or two of flour to soak up the moisture I just added. Also, in the method, it states to fold the dough into thirds and refrigerate twice, I only did this once, and afterwards: roll out, spread with butter, fold into thirds and roll out again before slicing into triangles and rolling up. Other than that, not a particularly difficult pastry to make, just a time-consuming one. In the words of renowned French Chef, Julia Child: Bon Appetit!

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Here is the recipe (We don’t recommend it): http://frenchfood.about.com/od/breadandpastry/r/croissants.htm

 

Lemon Squares

Chef Karen: A few weeks ago, Chef Jonathan made these for an event. I was so impressed, I asked him if we could make it for our blog. He’s so agreeable! 🙂 because here it is! I found this so easy to make! I had only a short window of time to whip these up and I was very pleased at how easy they came together. In the recipe, Paula suggests to mix the butter and flour with your hands. I found I didn’t like this. I’d use a pastry cutter next time. My “arthritic feeling” hands didn’t work as well as a cutter would. I’d also add some lemon zest next time.

We two chefs hung out with each other on the weekend so we were able to have people compare our two recipes. (Pretty unfair, huh?) Everyone was very gracious in saying that they liked both of them but had preferences about each one. I actually preferred Chef Jonathan’s. Hopefully, I can become an excellent pastry chef like him, someday 🙂

Chef Jonathan: Before I made this recipe, I had never made lemon squares before (I know, gasp!), and much to my delight they turned out wonderfully. I love all of Paula Deen’s recipes, especially her desserts, and this one doesn’t disappoint. Since I had made this recipe before, I added a touch more lemon juice than previously, and Chef Karen and I mutually decided that adding lemon zest would be beneficial next time. I would also reduce the amount of crust in this recipe to almost half, as it seemed a bit thick. This is a great recipe for a quick summer lemon square, and I’ll definitely be making it again soon!

Chef Jonathan's are the two top ones. Chef Karen's are the two bottom ones.

Chef Jonathan’s are the two top ones. Chef Karen’s are the two bottom ones.

Here is the recipe. Thank-you, Paula Deen! http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/paula-deen/lemon-bars-recipe/index.html

 
Aside

Chef Karen: A friend posted this on Facebook. I needed to try it! I’m glad I did. It’s a very easy recipe. I like the fact that you make your own cake batter and not a boxed one. Even though I’m a busy person, I like making my own cakes better than boxed ones. It’s a nice coffee cake recipe that goes well with a morning cup of java or a night time cup of tea. I don’t have any hints to this recipe: just make it! You’ll be glad you did.

Chef Jonathan: I really like this recipe for Cinnamon Swirl Cake, it’s very easy and can be done in a flash! I really enjoy the marbled texture of the cake once swirled, and the glaze on top is a nice added sweetness that really brings it all together. This cake is a nice kitchen-table-top treat to be snacked on regularly, or share it with a friend! Enjoy!

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.•♥• Cinnamon Roll Swirl Cake Recipe! •♥•☆

For the batter~
3 cup flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup sugar
4 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 cup milk
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup butter, melted

Topping~
1 cup butter, soft to the point of almost melted*
1 cup brown sugar
2 Tbsp flour
2 Tbsp cinnamon

In a large bowl, mix all the ingredients together except for the butter.
once mixed …slowly pour in the butter.

Pour into a greased 9×13 pan.

For the topping, mix all the ingredients together until well combined.

Drop evenly over the batter and swirl with a knife.
Bake at 350 for 30-40 minutes.

Glaze~
2 cup powdered sugar
5 Tbsp milk
1 tsp vanilla

While the cake is warm ~ drizzle the glaze over the cake. :

Cinnamon Roll Swirl Cake

 

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Irish Beef Hand Pies

In honour of St. Patrick’s Day, we wanted to do something Irish. Everyone cooks corned beef and cabbage so we went with Irish Beef Hand Pies. Here are the results:

Chef Karen: I found the recipe very easy to make. I did, though, feel that it needed to be made a bit more interesting so instead of pie crust for the pastry I opted for a puff pastry bundle. I thawed my pastry as directed. I then took 1 sheet, cut it in half, spread olive oil on them and put two together. I put a spoonful of meat mixture in the centre and then proceeded to make a bundle. I folded the sides in, brought the bottom half across the top and then brought the top half over to cover it up. I then lifted it up to put it on the baking tray. It fell apart! So, I tried, again, with 3 sheets cut in half (making it 6 layers of pastry) to give it more strength. It worked but it was really hard to cut through. I brushed each one with olive oil on the top instead of on each sheet. I found this recipe to be a bit bland. But as my husband said, “It is meat and potatoes.” I wished I had had some gravy to go with it.

beef pie 1

 

beef pie 2

 

Chef Jonathan: I attempted to use the store bought pastry crust, as opposed my usual Pâté Brisee, and I was thoroughly disappointed. The dough was very uneven, and so to salvage the recipe, I decided to make Beef Pot Pies instead, filling ramekins with the beef mixture, and layering some pastry crust on top, brushed with egg wash. I very much enjoyed the beef/potato mixture, and the addition of green cabbage was a surprisingly nice addition. I did find though that I added too much tomato paste, and had to over season to compensate for that taste. All in all, a nice recipe for St. Patty’s Day, if you want to go classical Irish cuisine. Enjoy!

 
 

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Here is the recipe: http://www.delish.com/recipefinder/irish-beef-hand-pies-recipe

 

Salted Caramel Apple Hand Pies

Chef Karen: Two of my most favorite words together right now are: salted and caramel. I just can’t resist them. So, when I found this recipe I couldn’t refrain from convincing Chef Jonathan it was one we had to do! Another reason I found these interesting was the size. Individual servings seem to be “in” right now and I find them cute 🙂

The recipe is very straight forward. I, of course, took the easy way out and bought my pie crust. Ok, ok… I can hear you REAL pastry chefs giving me a sigh and a head shake but I have an aversion to making pie crust and I’m not that good at it. Pillsbury obviously knows that there are many chefs out in the cooking world like me or else they wouldn’t be marketing their ready-made crusts.

You can follow the recipe below but here are a few tips from me: I used a 3″ mug as a cutter and was able to make 8 pies from my two crusts. I even had enough left over to make an apple turnover for my husband. 🙂 Your caramel WILL leak through. I’m not sure how to keep it from doing that. Make sure you use parchment paper as to eliminate a lot of mess. For the salt part, I used a Fleur de Sel. It was way too much. This quite disappointed me; as I’ve already stated, I LOVE those two flavours together. I’d use less next time.

Chef Jonathan: In honour of American Thanksgiving just around the corner, we thought this would be a great recipe. I like this recipe very much, and highly recommend it. I made my own pâté brisee, but found the sour cream a bit strong, cream would be nicer next time. I used a 2 1/2 cutter, so I was able to get about 12 pies from the pastry. I actually like the smaller size, but I would call it more of a scone than pie. My caramel also escaped, even with the use of the egg wash. All in all, a good recipe with a few minor adjustments.

This week’s recipe: http://www.justataste.com/2012/09/salted-caramel-apple-hand-pies-recipe/

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Pencil Cake

Karen: I am NOT an artist. I am not a cake decorator; no patience…… So this project was a bit of a stretch for me. Thankfully, the directions were easy to follow and it helped. I managed to do things a bit differently than written (which I find I do most weeks). I added more than the suggested amount of food colouring to both frostings. I also didn’t use a microwave to melt the chocolate; I prefer a double broiler. I did find the shaping of the cake to be a bit of a challenge but nothing I couldn’t handle. I forgo using the green stripes because I couldn’t find any and used licorice, instead. I think this is a fun project that could be accomplished by kids with the help of an adult. What a fun first week of school treat!

Chef Jonathan: I was very excited to try this pencil cake to celebrate the start of school this week, although it was a bit of a challenge. I found that my loaf cakes were smaller than the ones in the magazine, so I adjusted my measurements accordingly. I found it a bit difficult to bevel the edges of the pencil, but I just kept shaving it off until level. I found the method of microwaving the chocolate in a plastic bag a bit unsafe, so I decided to use a double boiler. The other obstacle was attaching the chocolate tip to end of the cake, and shaving off enough to make it look believable as a pencil. I used a rainbow sour belt, instead of green, and I actually like it better. All in all, a great project if you have several hours to devote to it, and I also recommend it for a children’s project!

This recipe was found in the September 2011 issue of The Foodnetwork Magazine.

http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes-and-cooking/how-to-make-a-pencil-cake/pictures/index.html

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