Tuesday, June 30, 2009


I had a mission Sunday - there was a craving that needed to be satisfied...  fried chicken.    Not something from a drive-thru or "deli" but the home-made real deal complete with gravy and mashed potatoes.   Nothing could stop me except "being chicken" (ha ha ha - sorry)  - afraid of my past failures.   There was no choice but to be brave - the craving had to be satisfied!

Inspiration came from the strangest place... I was watching one of my favorite shows (it's sort a secret indulgence of mine actually - LOL) on the DVR Saturday afternoon.   In this particular episode, the star was visiting Paula Deen at her home in Savannah and they were looking around the garden previously maintained by Paula's drunk but hilarious assistant Brandon.   When the star wanted to try out the "switching" technique Paula says she uses on her assistant - the star accidently whopped PD in the face with the switch!!!   While it doesn't sound so funny - it really was (to me anyways) and in my case - inspiring!   In the episode PD prepared fried chicken and it came to me - "if PD can't fry a chicken - it's probably a lost art and I should just order a pizza....."

A quick trip to the computer and then to the store got me prepared.   Was I up for the challenge?  Would I be disappointed?   Would I wish I had ordered pizza?

Four simple words answer those questions......   "THANK YOU PAULA DEEN!"   

It was the best fried chicken ever!   Don't trust a yankee's opinion?  How about a true southern gentleman's?   Todd (born and raised in the south and an expert on real southern food) had this to say - "this the best fried chicken I have ever eaten!" 

Enough said - except for maybe my apology to Grandma McC!

Monday, June 29, 2009

TWD: Perfect Party Cake

"Perfect"? Hmmmmm - not sure about that but it is very very close to deserving that title! The cake had great flavor - it was moist and "solid"! The frosting (a rich creamy "real" buttercream) was out of this world and tasted great off a spoon, spatula and a finger! It was even better on the cake!

I am not sure the cake rose like it should. The recipe called for 2-9" pans.... I used 2-6" pans thinking I might get a total of six layers (something for later!). The cake almost ended up being two layers but I took the plunge and split them to make four..... I am glad I did! Each layer is separated by seedless raspberry jam and a thin layer of frosting. The top and sides are covered in frosting (that delicious buttercream - yeah baby!!!!) and a light sprinkling of sweetened coconut..... This cake is so good that it doesn't even need ice cream - really!

Many filling variations come to mind on this cake.... lemon or orange curd, chocolate ganache, any sort of other seedless jam (strawberry, grape, apricot/pineapple....) Hmmm - something like a german chocolate cake filling? I've seen some mention fresh fruit but it seems a shame to waste the cake and frosting with something "healthy" - LOL!

How about the frosting - instead of vanilla - would something different (beside almond flavoring) work?

Thursday, June 25, 2009

My very first TWD effort........

When I first came across TWD - man, was I excited!    A chance to try new things, learn from others with a shared passion, share my results (in a virtual way anyways) with other lovers of baking and practice, practice, practice!

The first recipe I came to when I flipped open BFMHTY for the first time was Coconut Roasted Pineapple Dacquoise.   I loved the picture and thought it looked like an great summer dessert except for the meringue part (I have never been a fan of meringue other than when it is on Lemon Meringue Pie).   How cool would it be to make this my first attempt as a member of TWD!?

Not only has everyone moved on the The Party Cake - I have to admit that I basically cheated on the entire recipe yesterday - not exactly what I had planned for my first attempt.   The name I came up with for my attempt was “faux-quoise - it didn’t seem fair to call my attempt a “duquoise”.   

Changes I made were:

  • Meringue - there was no way I was going to turn on the oven for three hours in the middle of our current humidity and heat wave.    I substituted baked puff pastry squares that had been brushed with an egg mixture and then sprinkled with the coconut blend.
  • White Chocolate Ganache - not being a huge fan of white chocolate in big doses, a stabilized whip cream was used between the layers.
  • (Fresh) Pineapple - there wasn’t one to be found anywhere in the local retailers that even seemed to be anything close to “fresh”.   They were all green, hard as a rock and absolutely NO pineapple smell.   I went with canned chunks (I meant to get rings).
  • Since I didn’t get enough pineapple, I also used a quickly made sauce using dark cherries that I had in the freezer.

To my surprise - the end result was pretty good and it seems that we have a new summer dessert to enjoy here on E Street!    I have been thinking that the “faux-quoise” would be pretty tasty with a sauce made from fresh strawberries, raspberries or blueberries - maybe even a mixture of all three!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Strawberries, sweet cream & chocolate.....

I came across the recipe for Strawberries & Cream pie while looking through some baking blogs that I had just found.   This one is from "The Way The Cookie Crumbles" - what a great combination of not-too-sweet sweets......

The recipe was for a full-size pie.   For some reason,  I like to take "full-size" desserts and down-size them to single servings.  I don't know - maybe it's because it makes them a more personal experience.   Maybe it's because it gives me a  "re-do" opportunity to make changes and improvements as each one is done; maybe it's flexibility?   I don't know - but so far, no one has complained...

Because of its small size, using whole strawberries as instructed in the recipe just wouldn't work.   A few simple slices to each berry allowed me to completely cover the cream filling.   Another version used chopped berries that were heaped on top of the cream filling (this was actually my favorite as I thought the flavor was best).   Because my "drizzles" using a fork always seem to end up looking gloppy and messy - I put the melted chocolate mixture into a parchment piping bag fitted with a #3 tip and "drizzled" away - it firmed up nicely (without cracking) when it was chilled.  THE PICTURE ABOVE DOESN'T DO THIS DESSERT JUSTICE!

When I ran out of pie crusts - I picked up some pre-made graham cracker crusts at the local market.   It took just a couple minutes to make a quick-last minute dessert with the last of the filling - a bottle of chocolate syrup provided the finishing touch.

It is fun to think of other ways to make this dessert..... raspberries, blueberries, kiwi, cherries, pineapple - what else could there be when combined with white chocolate, whipped cream (plain or flavored)........

Tuesday, June 16, 2009


We bought a "vintage" house just before Thanksgiving 2008.   The entire time until mid-March was spent working on the inside.   With a couple days of nice weather  - we put in a small garden along the driveway and planted beans, carrots, onions, peas and cucumbers (with a couple okra plants in the mix to respect our Southern location!).   On June 7, we had our first bean and pea harvest - the beans were DELICIOUS slow cooked with some bacon, onion powder and garlic salt!    Another harvest is coming soon and we planted two more packages of seeds (yes - they were that good)!

The peas are a different story!      After a "harvest" of about 10 pods - we decided to over-plant this section with  beans.....  maybe next year for the fresh peas!

The new raised bed in the back lot has tomatoes (4 varieties including those great little cherry tomatoes), some raspberry bushes and more okra.   I was hoping for a fresh tomato by the 4th of July but am thinking that may not happen.  The asparagus starts we planted have the "fun" little fern-like growths - they remind me of the ditches we played in when I was young!  Cantaloupe and watermelon round out the assortment.......