Thursday, December 27, 2012

Daring Bakers: Panettone

The December 2012 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by the talented Marcellina of Marcellina in Cucina. Marcellina challenged us to create our own custom Panettone, a traditional Italian holiday bread!

I always love the December challenge.  The December challenge always seems to be some traditional Christmas treat and this months challenge did not let me down.  There are probably more variations of a Christmas bread than there are countries and this one comes from Italy.

I started out making the candied orange peels.  I have done this many times now - two years ago for the Daring Bakers Christmas Stollen.  The bread was not difficult but it did take some time.  When you start reading a recipe and it contains seven sub-recipes (sponge, first-dough, second-dough, final dough, candied orange peels, and glaze) and some of the steps have multiple risings; you know it is going to take some time.

The other complication to the recipe is that is traditional cooked in a special paper "pan".  I wasn't sure of a local source and I was too cheap to pay $5 for shipping on a few sheets of paper so I followed Marcellina instructions for making your own.  It was a little bit of a pain and the papers did not look pretty for displaying the finished product, but it worked.

I ended up cooking my bread for 10 minutes longer than the recipe called for and it still came out a bit doughy.  I am cooking a second loaf now and will go even longer on this one.  I also think I followed the recipe by not really mixing the filling in much so the filling was kind of in pockets.  I notice a lot of the other pictures that people have posted show the filing more evenly distributed.  Not really sure which way is "right" - it was good with the pockets of filling but i am sure it would be good with the filling more even too.

I also used double the orange peel like Marcellina suggested as candied citron is expensive.  I made a glaze for mine but didn't follow the recipe.  Some of my family doesn't like the almond so I just made a similar glaze without the almond flour and added a little orange essence.

Even though the center was a little doughy it was still very good and it was a big hit on Christmas morning.  A nice sweet moist bread with a delicious filling.  Thanks for sharing these recipes Marcellina.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Daring Cooks: Shepard's Pie

Our Daring Cooks’ December 2012 Hostess is Andy of Today’s the Day and Today’s the Day I Cook! Andy is sharing with us a traditional French Canadian classic the Paté Chinois, also known as Shepherd’s pie for many of us, and if one dish says comfort food.. this one is it!

Everything sounds delicious in French - doesn't it.  Well the first recipe Andy gave us for Paté Chinois was his family recipe and was very similar to the quick Shepard's pie that I regularly make for a weeknight supper.  It has ground beef, mash potatoes. canned or frozen vegetables.  Well, it seems like Paté Chinois is not quite the same.  It also has a little French Canadian twist,  red wine and creamed corn.  Not sure I have ever seen a recipe with red wine and creamed corn together.

My wife is not a big creamed corn fan so I decided to go with a more tradition Shepard's Pie.  Andy also gave us a recipe for a crock pot Shepard's pie made with lamb and beer.  Since I have never made a "real" Shepard's pie I decided to try this one.

I picked us a nice leg of lamb, unfortunately it was 5 1/2 pounds, about twice as big as I needed.  I decided to take a gamble that we would like it and just make a double batch.  I have a pretty large crock pot so I figured no problem.  Well as I started to put it together and mix all the vegetables and meat, I did not even have a bowl big enough to hold it all.  It definitely would not fit in my crock pot so I pulled out the dutch oven.  It barely fit in my large dutch oven.  The recipe called for 10 hours on low in the crock pot so I cooked mine for 3 hours at 325°F.

I froze about half of the cooked Shepard's pie.  I will be able to just make some potatoes and warm it all up to have it later.  The gamble payed off, because it was yummy.  I (and the rest of the family) will have no problem eating this again.  The meat was very tender and tasty and I pretty much licked the sauce off my plate.  The potatoes are cooked right with everything else so they come out a little brown - maybe don't look the best, but they get all that flavor from cooking with the other veggies and meat.  The only change I might make in the future is to brown the meat on the stove - I think that might add a little color and flavor to the meat.

If you want to check out this recipe or any of the other Shepard's pie recipes Andy gave us they are all posted on The Daring Kitchen recipe archive ( look for Paté Chinois ).