Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Johnny Cake Cobblers - TWD: Baking with Julia

Tuesdays with Dorie: Baking with Julia - 39th Installment.  The recipe is Johnny Cake Cobblers.

Super easy and very tasty!  I made this with regular yellow cornmeal (didn't have a local source of Johnny Cake meal, although living in Massachusetts, I know I have seen it somewhere or other around here, since it is from Rhode Island....).   I added the optional grated ginger to the biscuit topping, which was great.  I did the big dish variation, since I had a crowd to feed.  Everyone loved it.  We were staying in a vacation cottage, and this was easy to make, even with the patchwork of kitchen gear in the cottage.
Plums, nectarines, peaches - before cooking

 I had some plums and nectarines that were not very ripe (and not even local - boo hoo!), and some local peaches that were perfectly ripe.  The cooking on the stove turned them into a nice texture before baking.  I served it with ginger ice cream, which was wonderful with the ginger cobbler topping.  We even ate some for breakfast (of course, with the ice cream - it was vacation after all :-)
After cooking, and before baking

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Eastern Mediterranean Pizzas - TWD: Baking with Julia

Tuesdays with Dorie: Baking with Julia - 38th Installment.  The recipe is Eastern Mediterranean Pizzas.
Very easy recipe to follow, and delicious.  I made the sponge in the morning, and then mixed up the dough in the late afternoon, followed by making the pizzas in the evening, so the timing worked out well for a weekend day when I was puttering around the house and garden.  It really didn't take much attention at all.  I left the dough slightly sticky, since I didn't want it to dry out.

I think I loaded on a little more filling than the recipe called for, but it was so yummy, and because I used a pound of lamb, technically I had a quadruple recipe, so I had plenty to spare. This pita dough was easy.   I made a full recipe of the dough, and used half for pizza and half for pita which I baked on my baking stone.  A few of the pitas puffed up really well, although most of them did not - I'd still like to figure out the secret of getting pita bread to puff up reliably.  I guess the pizzas don't puff so much because of the filling, or maybe because they are baked on a baking sheet instead of the hot baking stone. 

I think this is more like a side bread course (kind of like a naan bread with onions) or an appetizer, rather than a true main dish pizza, which would have more filling for each crust.  I'd like to try this with different fillings - looking forward to seeing what the creative types in the TWD baking group did with this.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Summer Vegetable Tart - TWD: Baking with Julia

Tuesdays with Dorie: Baking with Julia - 37th Installment.  The recipe is Summer Vegetable Tart.

Hmmm...was this a success?  It is a phyllo pie shell, which you pre-bake, and then fill with a lightly cooked vegetable mixture, topped with goat cheese, and then served.  It had a lot of potential.  The flavors were definitely yummy, although I found the whole thing didn't really hold together.  When we sliced it, the phyllo shattered and the loose filling, which wasn't really coherent, fell all over the place, so calling it a "tart" seems like stretching the term.  Also - what's with the edge draped over?  Seems very messy, although part of the problem was my shredding phyllo (see below).  It left me wondering if I did something wrong somewhere along the way.  I will check out the rest of the crowd's attempt at this dish to see if there's some improvement that I can try.

I did experience the dreaded "Phyllo Frustration Syndrome", with the phyllo layers shredding as I attempting to separate them from the pile, butter them, and lay them in the dish.  I patched it together and kept going.  I used whole wheat phyllo from the natural food store - it tasted good, but maybe that contributed to the dryness. 

The shell after baking - not exactly pretty...
When I first started my work life, my housemate and I got on a kick of preparing phyllo-based dishes. It was my first experience with phyllo, and I thought 'it's not as hard as everyone says".  It was relatively easy to work with.  I wonder if we were just getting really good quality, fresh, phyllo, because recently my attempts to bake with phyllo have been very frustrating - the dough is dry and is impossible to manipulate without it completely falling apart.  So, now I'm seeing what everyone was talking about when they said that it's 'hard to bake with phyllo'.  I do love it, so will keep on trying, and maybe looking for places to get it where the phyllo hasn't been in the freezer section for a long time (good excuse for a visit to the Armenian grocery stores!)