Here are a few flowers from my garden. Soon there will be millions of cherry blossoms here in DC. I love this time of year
Great Britain is the featured country of the Philadelphia Flower Show this year. Expecting stuffy themes like Ascot and the Royal Family, I was delighted by the whimsical and happy tributes to great British music and literature.
The entrance to the show is dominated by a hugh replica of Big Ben. It seemed rather boring, until the top of the hour. Every hour the clock plays an animated tribute to British music. Monty Python would be proud. I wish I could figure out how to post a video of the performance, it is great fun.
10 Downing Street showcased gorgeous floral arrangements.
Entryway gardens for favorite authors were displayed:
Even Downton Abbey was represented: Violet Crowley , made entirely of flowers:
The yellow submarine made many appearances:
Vendors were selling anything a gardener could want but one was selling the most fantastic hellebores. The blossoms are in this sweet bird bath:
If you can find the time, visit this wonderful flower show. Here are some great flowers:
And, the best fascinator:
Imagine being asked to cook one of your signature dishes for Julia Child, in her own kitchen. The cookbook “Baking with Julia” is a collection of recipes prepared by those lucky chefs featured on a PBS show filmed in Julia’s kitchen. Our baker this week is Craig Kominiak. After 5 years as a Navy cook, Craig joined the Culinary Institute of America where he discovered his love for the pastry arts. When he baked with Julia he was the executive chef for the bakery Ecce Panis in NYC.
Craig’s recipe has a long, cold rise, you must start the dough 24 hours before you want to bake it. Its a simple dough, just flour, yeast, olive oil, salt and water. My 7 quart KitchenAid mixer kneaded the dough without any struggle. I did not increase the speed to medium high as instructed in the recipe because the KA instructions are very clear: never knead dough above speed 2.
I tried 2 different breads with the dough. One was the Leaf Shaped Fougasse on page 146:
and the other was focaccia with onion, rosemary and blue cheese, some of my favorite toppings for flat bread.
The breads were delicious but neither achieved much height. Other focaccia that I’ve baked have been softer and thicker. These were good but I think there are better recipes.
Another baking project this week was making the cheddar swirl breakfast buns from Deb Perelman’s new cookbook, “Smitten Kitchen“. These were easy to make and perfect with soup. And they were still tasty the next day.
And if you are looking for a good winter soup this one from Food52 is a winner: Minestrone.
For today’s focaccia recipe you can visit Wandering Through. Sharmini will have the complete recipe.
Enjoy baking, cheers, Patty
Monday morning in Washington was cold and dark, with sleeting rain. My camellia bush outside my kitchen window had icicles dripping from the leaves.
It was a perfect day to stay inside and make meyer lemon marmalade. My grandmother always made orange marmalade which I loved, but I was never motivated to try a recipe that takes days, not hours. And her recipe required boiling the peels three times: too much work. However, I had bookmarked a lemon marmalade recipe in the great jam cookbook “Food in Jars” that I wanted to try. Marisa McClellan, the author, had recently recommended on her blog a good source for organic meyer lemons: the Lemon Ladies. Last week I ordered 3 pounds of lemons, hoping to finally make marmalade.
Marisa’s recipe is very detailed, including clear directions on the proper way to slice the lemons. I followed half of her instructions, I did pit the seeds and remove the pith from the lemons but I used my Magimix food processor to slice the lemons.
It saved so much time and the Magimix is so accurate when slicing, I’m happy with the results. And my kitchen smelled amazing, the lemons are so aromatic. My hands were still scented with lemon later in the day.
There are many different approaches to marmalade. Marisa slices the fruit, adds some of the sugar and lets that mixture sit for 24 to 48 hours in a cold place. I left mine for 48 hours, this helps to soften the peels. Then more sugar and some water is added and the mixture is cooked for 30 to 40 minutes or until it reaches 220 degrees.
Then you ladle the jam into jars and process it in a water bath for 10 minutes.
You may wonder what is the bag sitting in the pot? Its the pith and seeds, all bundled up. It cooks along with the marmalade, releasing the petin which will help to thicken the jam. I also added half of a vanilla bean for flavor.
The result is a variety of jar shapes, all perfect for gifts or just enjoying at home. This pairs beautifully with triple cream cheese and crackers. The Lemon Ladies recommend eating it with goat cheese.
Once I was done I had one lone lemon left and finally tried a whole lemon tart recipe that has been floating on the internet for ages. Food 52 has a version as does Smitten Kitchen. So I made the tart. Its good but my testers thought it was a little eggy. I do prefer a lemon tart made with classic lemon curd.
So, thank you Marisa and the Lemon Ladies. The marmalade will brighten my breakfasts and my cheese plates.
WOW! This is the essence of apples in a flaky, crisp crust.
This week the Tuesdays with Dorie group has chosen the French Apple Tart from “Baking with Julia”. The guest pastry chef is Leslie Mackie, owner of Macrina Bakery in Seattle. You might want to read Leslie’s November blog which included updated tips for pie crust here. She is the author of two cookbooks which I hope to find at the library.
At first glance the recipes seem to be typical: blind bake a crust, make a fresh applesauce for the filling, decorate the top with carefully sliced apples and bake.
But when you carefully read all the instructions there are some techniques that were new to me. Her applesauce is baked rather than simmered on the stove.
And her directions for blind baking are different from any that I have taught. After baking the crust, Leslie says “Transfer the crust, with the paper and weights, to a cooling rack and let cool while you make the filling”.
Most blind baking recipes have you remove the lining of paper and weights, and then return the crust to the oven to finish baking the underdone bottom. You are always fighting the crust which wants to puff up in the oven once the weights are gone. I really thought leaving the weights on the crust would create a soggy bottom but I was wrong!! The heat of the weights seems to finish cooking the crust. When I cut into the finished tart, the bottom was so flaky. I certainly will try this technique again. I think this was the best crust I have made for a tart. And I’ve made lots of tarts.
I did change the finishing touch, instead of confectioners sugar I glazed the tart with homemade rhubarb jelly; the recipe is from my favorite jam book, Food in Jars Cookbook.
Question: Is it possible to photograph purple food and make it look tasty?
Despite looking weird, today’s recipe produces a delicious pizza. The pizza dough is started with a sponge that rises for 1 1/2 hours. More flour is then beaten in and there is a second rise. You can now shape and bake the pizzas, or you can tightly wrap the dough and chill it overnight.
After starting the dough you make a confit of onions. The recipe calls for red wine and the onions slowly simmer, creating tender, wine poached onions that are very tasty but also very purple. I also used some herbed goat cheese, mozzarella, parmesan and sopressata for toppings.
You can see in the photos that the onions are an unappealing purple. But, they have great flavor. The pizza crust was crispy and chewy, and we ate all of it.
I divided half of the recipe into 2 pieces and made two 10″ pizzas last night. The other half of dough will be used for dinner tonight. The recipe suggests freezing extra dough but I’d rather try some other toppings, maybe a tomato based sauce. To bake I heated my Emile Henri pizza stone for an hour. I also followed another TWD writer’s suggestion to use parchment paper under the pizza if you don’t have a peel. The paper made it very easy to transfer the pizza to the oven and it did not burn.
The Boy Can Bake blog will have the full recipe, or you can find it on page 157 in Baking with Julia. If you love pizza this is a recipe that really works in a home oven.
Here’s an update: tonight I made traditional pizza with tomato sauce, sopressata, and mozzarella cheese. The second night the dough was not as elastic but still made a good crust. its a great recipe for pizza at home.
Happy New Years Day to all. We decided to visit Huntley Meadows today. A Wilson Warbler had been sighted and we decided to see if the bird was still on site.
And we were very lucky:
What a great weekend for me! On Saturday I attended a cooking demonstration by Marisa McClellan of “Food in Jars“; on Sunday afternoon our local bookstore, Politics and Prose, hosted an event with Luisa Weiss, the creator of the blog “the Wednesday Chef”. I met two great food writers in one weekend.
Luisa spoke for almost an hour, first reading from a chapter in her book titled “Eating for Heartbreak”.
Her book is a memoir with recipes; her blog reports on recipes that she has collected and prepared from the dining sections of the NY Times and LA Times newspapers, among other sources. She named her blog Wednesday Chef because thats the day the newspapers publish their dining sections. Why hadn’t I figured that out? Very clever title.
She invited questions and there were many from the crowd of 50+ people. She had advice for writing a blog; when discussing friends and family on a blog, never write anything that might surprise the person in question. Also, when using a published recipe always credit the source and if possible link to the original post. She spoke about the differences between blogging and writing a book. It definitely sounded like book writing was the more difficult work. She also told some funny stories about choosing the name “Hugo” for her newborn son. Did I mention she is doing a national book tour with a newborn? Luisa can do everything!
You can visit The Wednesday Chef blog here. Luisa’s adventures are always entertaining.
Amid the beauty of the United States Botanical Gardens in Washington DC,
Marisa McClellan, author of “Food in Jars” taught an amazing class about jam making and canning in the main foyer of the conservatory building.
On a simple folding table, with a single induction burner, Marisa showed the basics of jam making and canning from start to finish in one hour! As a cooking instructor, I was very impressed.
She shared so much information about the hows and whys of the techniques of safely canning jams. There were many questions and Marisa made sure that all questions were answered. She offered everyone samples of the tomato jam she cooked during class; it was delicious.
After class I returned to my kitchen and made a half batch of the Pear Ginger Conserve in her cookbook. (Page 96)
I had purchased some bartlett pears and fresh ginger at the farmers Market in Penn Quarter on Thursday, hoping to make jam based on my mother’s ginger pear jam recipe. Look at that locally grown ginger: it is so fresh.
I did add some candied ginger to the recipe because thats what my mother used in her pear preserves. The half recipe yielded 2 half pint jars and one 4 ounce jar . Marisa’s web site gives directions for cooking a small batch, you can read it here. It takes about 1 hour and 15 minutes, time well spent.
Marisa’s book is on Amazon, or check your local bookstore. It is a cookbook that you will love using.
- Baking with Julia
- best biscotti
- cheetah conservation fund
- cherry blossoms
- Cherry Republic
- flower show
- Food in Jars
- gingerbread cookies
- heirloom tomatoes
- Luisa Weiss
- Marisa McClellan
- Philadelphia flower show
- rum punch
- Smitten Kitchen Cookbook
- sweet melissa
- top ten
- Tuesday with Dorie
- United States Botanical Gardens
- washington dc
- Wednesday Chef
- Wilson Warbler