Steamed Buns Fluffy Dough

The following recipe was used for my Steam Buns cooking class. You can read about my class and get other links to recipes HERE.

Steamed Buns Fluffy Dough

1.5 cups of all purpose flour

2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons baking powder
2 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil
1/3 cup whole milk
1/2 cup cold water

In a stand mixer, fitted with the dough hook, combine the flour, sugar, salt & baking powder until fully combined.
Slowly add the remaining ingredients and allow the dough hook to bring the dough together.
Allow the dough hook to knead the dough for 1-3 minutes until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl.
In a large bowl, sprayed with cooking spray (to prevent sticking), place the dough and cover with a damp cloth.
Allow dough to sit for 1 hour before using.

Pie in My Eye Round Up!

With the bounty of fresh fruits in summer, a great way to use them is to make pie! But if you’re like me, you probably don’t want a whole pie in your kitchen to tempt you. So my friends and I decided it to make pies anyway… only in smaller packages as hand pies.
For our hand pies, we chose to fill them with fresh strawberries, blueberries and mango. Here are pictures of our event. Also check out this link for some helpful tips & hints with Pie Dough 101!

Cook’s Illustrated’s Foolproof Pie Dough
– makes one 9-inch double-crust pie –

2 1/2 cups (12 1/2 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon table salt
2 tablespoons sugar
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch slices
1/2 cup cold vegetable shortening, cut into 4 pieces
1/4 cup cold vodka
1/4 cup cold water

1. Process 1 1/2 cups flour, salt, and sugar in food processor until combined, about 2 one-second pulses. Add butter and shortening and process until homogeneous dough just starts to collect in uneven clumps, about 15 seconds (dough will resemble cottage cheese curds and there should be no uncoated flour). Scrape bowl with rubber spatula and redistribute dough evenly around processor blade. Add remaining cup flour and pulse until mixture is evenly distributed around bowl and mass of dough has been broken up, 4 to 6 quick pulses. Empty mixture into medium bowl.

2. Sprinkle vodka and water over mixture. With rubber spatula, use folding motion to mix, pressing down on dough until dough is slightly tacky and sticks together. Divide dough into two even balls and flatten each into 4-inch disk. Wrap each in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 45 minutes or up to 2 days.

To join in the fun, my fellow bloggers have submitted pie recipes! As I do with each blogging event I host, a lucky blogger receives a giveaway related to the food theme. This event’s winner is Amy of Just2Good ! Amy will be receiving a Pastry/Baker’s Roller tool compliments of Pampered Chef. Congratulations Amy and thanks to all that participated in the blogging event! Read on to check out the recipes submitted by my fellow bloggers…

Karen of Loves To Eat Weblog
from Tampa, FL
Mom’s Apple Pie
Karen joins us with a special pie that’s near and dear to her. Not only was it a recipe of her mom’s but she made this pie for someone’s birthday! Check out her blog to find out who and to get the recipe!

Dhanggit from Dhanggit’s Kitchen
from Aix Provence, France
Nutella Dulche de Leche Tartellette
Dhanggit joins us from France and has been one of my fave blogs to read. I’m thrilled that she has joined in this blogging adventure to share with us her gorgeous entry. Even the name of her dish makes me hungry. You definitely should check out her blog for the recipe and get some “Nutella theraphy“… because we all need that now and then!
Amy of Just2Good
from Florida
Apple Pie
Amy shares with us a pie recipe she made and brought to a dinner party. She used recipes from 2 sources to create such a beautiful pie! To find out what sources she used and the recipe, check out her blog!

Melissa of Made by Melissa
from New Hampshire
Blueberry Pie
Melissa shares a pie her husband made, since she isn’t a fan of pie. The pie was bursting with blueberries and I especially liked how the top of her pie was decorated. To find out how and for the recipe, check out Melissa’s blog!

Psychgrad of Equal Opportunity Kitchen
from Ontario, Canada
Raspberry Peach Pie
I’m a fan of peach melbas and after checking out Pyschgrad’s entry, I knew this would be an excellent recipe to try. However, someone preferred that Psychgrad not bake this pie. Check out her blog to find out who and to get the recipe!

The Food Hunter
from Arizona
Honey & Pine Nut Pie
A new comer to the my blogging adventures is The Food Hunter! She shares with us her special pie challenge that combines 2 pantry staples (at least in my house) resulting in a sweet looking pie. Check out The Food Hunter’s blog for the recipe!
Becke of Columbus Foodie
from Columbus, OH
Blackberry Custard Pie
Becke has one of my favorite blogs because she often creates dishes using creative combinations and her pictures are outstanding. I’m so glad she participated in this event because her pie entry looks so delicious! Forget plain custard pies… and forget plain blackberry pies. Combine these two for a pie that’s both fruity and creamy! Check out Becke’s blog for the recipe!

Heirloom Tomato Tart

The following recipe was made & shared for my Tomato Event. You can read and get links to other recipes shared HERE.

Heirloom Tomato Tart
shared at the event by Chrissy
recipe HERE

2 large onions (about 1 1/2 pounds), sliced thin
2 tablespoons olive oil
butter pastry dough for a single-crust 12-inch tart
1/2 pound Jack or Gruyère cheese, shredded (about 2 cups)
1/2 pound plum tomatoes cut into 1/2-inch wedges
1/2 pound medium yellow tomatoes (about 2) or 1/2 pound plum tomatoes, cut into 1/2-inch wedges
1/4 cup Niçoise olives, pitted

In a large heavy skillet cook onions with salt to taste in oil, covered, over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 20 minutes. Remove lid and cook onions, stirring occasionally, until golden and any liquid evaporates. Remove skillet from heat to cool onions slightly.

Preheat oven to 375°F.

On a lightly floured surface with a floured rolling pin roll dough into a 14-inch round (about 1/8 inch thick). Fold round in half and transfer to a 12-inch tart pan with a removable fluted rim or a 12-inch quiche dish. Unfold dough, easing to fit, and trim overhang to 3/4 inch. Fold overhang toward center and press against side of pan or dish. Spread onion mixture over dough and top with cheese. Arrange tomato wedges and olives in concentric circles over cheese and season with salt and pepper.

Bake tart in middle of oven 1 hour, or until pastry is golden, and cool on a rack. Remove rim of pan if necessary.

Serve tart warm or at room temperature.

Mini Cheese Quiche Bites

I prepared the following recipe for my Book/Movie club. You can read about my event and view other links to recipes I made for it HERE.

I’ll admit I cheated for this next one by not making a pie crust from scratch. But the end result was great! Here’s how I made my Mini Cheese Quiche Bites:

1 ready roll out pie crust dough
3 eggs
4 tablespoons whole milk
salt & pepper to taste
1/4 cup shredded cheddar

Preheat oven to 400.
Spray the wells of a mini muffin pan.
Fill each well with a piece of pie dough rolled into the size of a small walnut.
Using your fingers of a tart shaper, line each well with the pie dough to create mini pie crusts.
In a bowl, preferably with a spout, whisk eggs, salt, pepper and milk.
Pour a little egg mixture into each mini pie crust
Carefully sprinkle the cheese into each well.
Bake in the preheated oven for 10-12 minutes, until each quiche puffs up and is lightly browned.
Garnish with chopped flat leaf parsley if desired.

Puff, Puff, Give…

It’s Sunday and that means it’s a cooking class! Sundays have been a great day for me to schedule cooking classes to teach folks about various culinary techniques and applications, in hopes to inspire them to tackle cooking challenges they may face. So today, the challenge was puff pastry.

Food trivia ~ how many layers are typically in a sheet of puff pastry dough that’s been made by the classical method? 10? 24? 50?….. No. The answer is 729! How can that be? Well the classic method in making puff pastry involves working a simple pastry dough into a stick of butter by rolling & folding the dough into thirds, then chilling the dough for at least an hour after every fold. This is done 6 times so 3 folds to every 6 times is 729. (Think of it as 3 to the sixth power – if that helps!). As you may have guessed, this is an extremely time consuming process which is probably why puff pastry can be a pricey ingredient to work with.

Another piece of information I talked about was why the dough puffs up to begin with. Because the dough uses so much butter that’s been embedded into the layers, the butter still has water molecules within it. When these water molecules heat up, they produce steam and expand, hence the dough “puffs”. Interesting huh?!

This is why I love teaching folks so much. Its one thing to blog about recipes I’ve made, but its a whole other reward when I’m able to apply what I know to empower and inspire others in the kitchen personally…. and to create opportunities for people around me to learn hands on and interact with them.
So back to my puff pastry. In the 2 classes (afternoon & evening) I hosted today, everyone made their own puff pastry creation, either sweet or savory. For the savory version, we made a caprese tart using fresh tomatoes, mozzarella cheese and basil. For the sweet version, we made a strawberries & cream tart, with fresh strawberries and a vanilla cream cheese spread.Here are pictures of our final products, along with the recipes:

Caprese Tart

1 sheet puff pastry dough
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, finely grated
1 egg, scrambled (egg wash)
1/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1 tomato, sliced thin
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
pinch of salt & pepper
1 clove garlic, minced

Preheat oven to 400.
Prep your baking pan with parchment paper.
Place your puff pastry sheet on the baking pan.
Sprinkle Parmesan cheese on top to cover.
Brush the egg wash along the sides of the dough.
Bake in preheated oven until golden brown, 10-12 minutes.
Remove from oven and set aside to cool slightly.
While dough is baking, prepare the tomatoes.
Slice the tomatoes and place on 2 layers of paper towels on a single layer.
Sprinkle the tomatoes with salt and let side for 15 minutes.
After 15 minutes, dab the top of the tomatoes with a paper towel to remove excess moisture.
In a small bowl, combine the olive oil, minced garlic, salt & pepper to create a garlic infused oil.
Set aside oil.
When the puff pastry has cooled slightly, spinkle the mozzarella cheese over the top.
Top the mozzarella cheese with slices of tomato.
Brush the tomato slices with the garlic infused oil.
Bake in the same oven for another 5-7 minutes until the cheese has melted and baked golden.

Strawberries & Cream Tart
1 puff pastry sheet
1 block cream cheese
1/2 tablespoon vanilla paste or vanilla extract
1/2 cup half & half
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1 1/2 cup sliced or quarted strawberries

Preheat oven to 400.
Prep your baking pan with parchment paper.
Place your puff pastry sheet on the baking pan.
Bake in preheated oven until golden brown, 10-12 minutes.
Remove from oven and set aside to cool slightly.
While dough is baking, prep the vanilla cream cheese frosting.
Whip the cream cheese until soft, adding half 7 half to help ease it.
Slowly add the powdered sugar, vanilla and remaining half & half until fully combined.
When the puff pastry has cooled slightly, spread the frosting on top of the pastry dough.
Top with fresh strawberries.

Roasted Tomato Galette

The following recipe was made and shared at my Chef Spotlight dinner, highlighting Julia Child. You can read and view links to the other recipes HERE.

Susan’s Roasted Tomato Galette
recipe from Julia Child

1/2 recipe galette dough, chilled
2 ounces Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
2 ounces mozzarella , shredded
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, cut into chiffonade or torn
2-3 firm but ripe plum tomatoes, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices
Fresh basil leaves for garnish

Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 400-degrees F.
Roll the dough directly onto a piece of parchment paper into an 11-inch circle.
Toss the cheeses and basil pieces together in a small bowl.
Scatter the mixture over the dough, leaving a 2- to 3- inch border.
Place the tomatoes in slightly overlapping concentric circles atop the cheese.
Fold the uncovered dough border up over the filling, allowing the dough to pleat as you lift it up and work your way around the galette. .
Bake the galette for 35-40 minutes or until the pastry is golden and crisp and the cheese is bubbly.
Transfer the entire baking sheet to a cooling rack and let the galette rest on the sheet for 10 minutes.

Bacon, Spinach & Cheese Quiche

The following recipe was made and shared at my Chef Spotlight dinner, highlighting Julia Child. You can read and view links to the other recipes HERE.

Betsy’s Bacon, Spinach & Cheese Quiche
recipe from Julia Child

2-3 c. sliced onions cooked to very tender in 2 tbsps. olive oil and seasoned with salt, pepper, and a little sage.

prebaked 9-inch pie shell in its ring or tin
1/4 c. lightly pressed down, coarsely grated Swiss cheese
1 1/2 c. of the preceding all-purpose custard
10-oz. pkg. of fine fresh spinach

2 tbsps. of shallots or scallions
2 tbsps. butter
1/4 cup cooked bacon

Stem, wash, blanch, squeeze dry, then chop spinach. Saute’ 2 tbsps. of shallots or scallions briefly in 2 tbsps. butter, add spinach, and stir over moderate heat for several minutes until very tender. Season carefully with salt, pepper, and a speck of nutmeg.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and place the rack in the upper-third level. Spread half the cheese in the bottom of the pie shell, spread on the onions, spread the spinach and top with the remaining cheese and cooked bacon. Beat up the custard briefly and pour it over the onions, filling the shell to within 1/8 inch of its rim if it’s straight-sided, not much more than halfway if the shell is slant-sided and the sides seem at all fragile. Bake 25 to 30 minutes, until filling is lightly puffed and nicely browned. For serving, slip the warm quiche out of its ring or pan and onto a serving board or platter, or serve from the pan cut into wedges.

It’s TART-tastic!

Today my What’s Cookin Chicago group and I spent the afternoon at Delightful Pastries bakery where my friend, Chef Dobra, is the head pastry chef/owner. We learned quite a bit about tarts, from making the perfect dough, sweet & savory fillings and making them ourselves. It was a great opportunity to play in a bakery kitchen! Each of us made our own sweet and savory tarts (2 of each) under the instruction of Chef Dobra. Here are pics of the event, along with the tart & filling recipes shared with us by Chef Dobra.

Ricotta & Creme Fraiche Savory Tart Base Mixture
1/4 cup ricotta cheese
1/2 cup creme fraiche
1/2 salt & pepper
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
3 eggs
choice of quiche fillings*

— Combine the above ingredients except for the fillings.
* Note: vegetable fillings should be cooked & cooled prior to adding to the quiche mixture.

Basic Quiche Base Mixture
1 quart heavy cream
8 eggs
1 teaspoon salt & pepper
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
choice of quiche fillings*

— Combine the above ingredients except for the fillings.

* Note: vegetable fillings should be cooked & cooled prior to adding to the quiche mixture.

Flaky Short-Crust Pastry
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, chilled & cut into small pieces
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons ice water

— Combine flour, butter and salt in food processor or mixing bowll. Process for 10-12 seconds, or mash with your fingertips until the mixture has a dry & crumbly resembling coarse cornmeal.
— Add the water to the mixture and pulse 12-14 times or work together with your fingertips until the dough begins to hold together into a mass, but before it turns into a ball. (The dough can become tough if overprocessed.)

— If the dough is too dry or dense, add 1-2 tablespoons of water and pulse 2-3 times, or work with your fingertips.

Sugar Tart Crust

3/4 stick (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter, room temp
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg yolk
1 cup cake flour
all-purpose flour for dusting

— In a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter & sugar for about 2 minutes.
— Add the egg yolk. Continue mixing on med-hi speed for 1-2 min, until pale yellow in color and smooth. Scrape down sides of bowl.
— Add cake flour; mix on low speed just until blended – don’t over mix! Transfer to a sheet of plastic wrap and gently pat into a ball. Wrap well and chill for at least 2 hours or overnight.
— Lightly butter your tart pan or rings.
— Remove the chilled dough from the refrigerator. Let dough sit on counter for 20 min until pliable yet cool to touch.
— On lightly floured surface gently knead dough a few times. Pat into ball and flatten into a 5 inch round disk. With a floured rolling pin, begin rolling from the center out, lifting & turning every 90 degrees until about 1/8 inch thick. Dust board and pin with flour as needed.
— Gently lift & roll the dough onto the rolling pin. Place dough in the buttered tart pan or cut rounds to fit into mini tarts.
— Work dough into the tart pan/ring and up sides. Allow prepared tart pan/rings to chill in the refrigerator for 20-30 minutes. When chilled, trim tops of tart pan/rings of excess dough.
— Dock bottom of dough with tines of a fork to prevent the dough from puffing in the oven.

Tip- remove tart pan bottoms and bake without them. This produces a wonderfully golden bottom crust and easy removal from the tart pan/ring.

Classic French Pastry Cream

1 1/2 cups milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla paste
3 large egg yolks
1/4 cup sugar, halved
2 tablespoons cornstarch

— Combine 1/8 cup sugar, milk and vanilla. Bring it to a boil in a saucepan.

— In a mixing bowl, combine remaining 1/8 cup sugar, egg yolks and cornstarch. Mix with the paddle attachment until smooth.
— When milk mixture has come to a boil, remove from heat and slowly add it to the mixing bowl with the egg yolk mixture.

— Mix on high until fully combined. Spread cream onto a large baking sheet and cover with plastic wrap. Chill in the refrigerator until cooled.Here are pics from the class:

Pizza… Sweet & Savory

After a big and flavorful Vietnamese lunch today, we opted for a lighter dinner. Tonight I made a brie, apple & proscuitto pizza using prepared pizza dough.Here’s my simple recipe for a light and flavorful Brie, Apple & Prosciutto pizza:

1 ball prepared pizza dough (I used Trader Joe’s plain dough)
1 large wedge of brie cheese
1/3 cup finely chopped havarti cheese
2 medium sized granny smith apples, peeled & sliced thin
1/4 cup finely chopped prosciutto
fresh basil, chiffonade

Preheat your oven to 425.
In a pizza pan or baking sheet, flatten pizza dough & spread out.
Bake pizza crust in preheated oven for 5-7 minutes.
Remove partially cooked dough from oven.
Spread softened brie on dough of dot the dough with brie (whichever is easier).
Place a layer of apple slices over the brie layer.
Sprinkle the prosciutto over the apples.
Top the pizza with havarti cheese.
Place pizza back in the preheated oven and bake until golden brown and cheese has melted.
Serve hot and garnish with fresh basil.