Cookbook Corner – Lick The Bowl Good

Today I am starting a new feature here on my blog called “Cookbook Corner”!

Lick The Bowl Good Cookbook Corner Blog

“Lick The Bowl Good” By: Monica Holland

“Lick The Bowl Good”, as its title suggests, offers delicious “Classic Home-Style Desserts With A Twist” – and boy does it ever! Just flipping through the cookbook, you will see delicious looking photos and recipes for desserts such as “Grandma’s Chocolate Cake”, “Fresh Strawberry Cake” (the amazing cake featured on the cover), “Banana Pudding Cheesecake”, “Pecan Pie Mini Cupcakes”, “Midnight Chocolate Chip Cookies”, “Snickerdoodle Cream Cheese Blondies”, and “Lemon Shortbread Tart” to name just a few.

When I first got this cookbook, I immediately grabbed my Post-It note flags and started marking recipes I wanted to try. About halfway through the cookbook though I realized that I was marking every recipe! Ha!

The cookbook is beautifully done and includes “Bakers Notes” throughout the book to help the reader enhance their knowledge of baking. It also includes a personal look (along with pictures) of the author, Monica Holland. Flipping to page 77 (“Brown Sugar Shortbread”) and seeing the picture of Monica and her cute little boy Hayden will really warm your heart…as well as make you want to try the recipe with your kids!

Monica Holland is a food blogger (like me) and a dessert lover (hello – like me) and her first cookbook brings the best of both worlds together, as well as getting a personal glimpse into Monica’s life and family.

I highly recommend this cookbook to people who know how to “Lick The Bowl Good”…

Read Monica’s Blog “Lick The Bowl Good” here…
http://lickthebowlgood.blogspot.com/

Buy Monica’s Cookbook “Lick The Bowl Good” here…
http://www.amazon.com/Lick-Bowl-Good-Home-Style-Desserts/dp/1626360383/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1404066288&sr=8-1&keywords=lick+the+bowl+good

In the perfect world, I would have already baked my way through this cookbook. I want to try every single recipe…and I’m on my way.

The personal views and reviews of this blog are mine and mine alone. Any opinion or thought expressed are strictly my own. More information can be found by emailing me your questions.

Blaise

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Pavlova

I have to confess that prior to the last year, I did not know exactly what a “pavlova” was, but I do remember seeing them scattered throughout my French cookbooks. I made a mental note in the back of my mind to one day try it, but that day did not come…until recently.

I had just made strawberry jam (recipe here – https://blaisethebaker.wordpress.com/2014/06/04/simple-strawberry-jam/) and was thinking about all of the different ways I could use it. Topping on angel food cake, homemade lard biscuits and on top of lady fingers were all delicious ideas, but I had tried them all – I was looking for something new. The idea of making a pavlova jumped into my mind, and I remembered wanting to try it.

I (as I always do in this scenario) started out by researching pavlova and where it came from, etc. For those who do not already know pavlova is a meringue “based” dessert that has a light and crisp crust, while still being soft and light on the inside. The dessert was named after a Russian ballet dancer, Anna Pavlova in the 1920’s, for conflicting reasons. I also discovered that this unique dessert was cooked uniquely as well. You bake it in a “low and slow” oven for about a hour, and then turn the oven completely OFF – while still leaving the dessert inside for several more hours (over night is perfect).

It is just as fun to make and bake as it is to eat – and here is the recipe…

Pavlova Blog

Pavlova

3 egg whites
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 275 degrees and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

Separate the eggs, collecting only the whites. Make sure there are NO traces of yolk in the whites. This is a very important step!

Add the salt to the bowl of egg whites.

Using an electric mixer, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form. This should take about 4-5 minutes depending on the speed of your mixer. You will know it is at the “soft peak” stage, when you remove the mixer and there are light “soft” peaks that form.

Still beating the egg whites with the electric mixer, add the sugar a LITTLE at a time.

This step will take a little bit – but be patient.

Once the sugar has all been added, add 1 teaspoon vanilla extract and beat for about another minute.

Working carefully, spoon the egg white mixture out in a circle shape on the parchment paper using a metal spoon.

Work it gently and “form” a circle with the mixture. Make sure the pavlova is even across the center and about 8-10 inches in diameter.

Using the back of the spoon, working in a “circular motion”, even out the top of the pavlova. 

Place in preheated oven for 1 hour and 15 minutes exactly – no longer.

Once the time is up, turn the oven OFF but leave the pavlova in! DO NOT open the oven door (even to check) for at least 8 hours. This is a perfect dessert to make the night before – to leave it in the oven overnight…

The next morning (or 8-10 hours later) remove the pavlova from the oven and serve same day.

This can be served in a variety of ways. I served mine with whipped cream and fresh strawberry jam. You can also serve it with whipped cream and fresh berries – strawberries, blueberries, etc. Another option would be to crumble the finished pavlova and serve it “Eton Mess” style by layering it in a cup with fresh berries and cream.

Have fun and enjoy!

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ASK and Cookbooking

A lot of people have been asking me about my “cookbooking” so I thought I would share a little insight into the world of cookbook writing and developing (cookbooking) with this post!

Cookbooking Blog

Cookbooking

First of all, I do a TON of research on whatever it is I am wanting to test and develop. Let me use salad dressing for an example. I had a request for homemade Ranch dressing, so I decided I would find out everything I could about the dressing. Where it came from, where and why it was developed, what the ingredients usually are, why, etc. etc. This might sound boring to a lot of people, but I really do enjoy it! I am a bit of a food “geek” if you will. I love studying food and food history. I know…not everyone’s cup of tea – but I really love it.

Anyways, after I have studied the history of the food (in this case Ranch dressing), I go about learning how people make it. I visit blogs, email some fellow “foodie” friends of mine, and read compulsively in my cookbooks looking for answers and techniques. (I will not disclose here how many cookbooks I own – I’ve never counted and I never intend to – but it’s easily somewhere in the thousands.)

After reading and researching and taking many notes on the subject, I go about writing down and brainstorming MY ideas for the dish (or in this case, the dressing). After I have a couple of recipes I have developed and want to try, I start out by testing in the kitchen.

The testing part can be awesome – or really really challenging! Ha! It IS one of the best parts of the work though.

After I test and test and really feel like the recipe is “complete” I have people test it – as in MAKE it themselves and see if they get the same results as I did.

Then – the next step, is my “taste testers”. I make the recipe AGAIN and this time pass it out for my “taste testers” to try. I tell them I want HONEST opinions. If it needs more salt – I need to know. If it needs to be baked less – I need to know. If it sucks – I need to know! Ha! (I have pretty thick skin).

After I get their results back (depending on what they say the recipe needs) I go BACK into the kitchen and test again – changing things, etc. Then there is MORE tasting.

Sometimes dinner for me will be 7 small bowls of salad with 7 different types of Ranch dressing – or whatever I’m testing at the time. Usually it’s 7 different types of cookies! Ha! It’s fun though…

Once the recipe is PERFECT, I will add it to my “Cookbook” folder/notebook OR put it on my blog.

Not every single recipe will make it here on my blog! I’m writing a cookbook, so chances are – the finalized recipe will end up being in my cookbook…and not on my blog.

I take pictures of everything along the way (and spare all of my social media followers by not posting EVERY single picture and recipe).

I also keep very detailed notes about what I made, how it was, the changes, who sampled and what they said, what I changed, what I kept the same, etc.

SO… that’s it in a nutshell (well, a blog post)! I know it’s not everyone’s idea of “fun” but I LOVE it!

ASK!

This blog post has also inspired me to create a NEW FEATURE here on my blog called “ASK! Blaise The Baker”. The information and email address are posted on the side column of my blog. Basically, if you have a question about food, recipes, ingredients, my cookbook, etc. JUST ASK ME! I will respond to ALL emails with an answer. I have wanted to start something like this for awhile, so we will see how it goes…

I would love to hear from you! Have a question? ASK ME!

blaisethebaker@gmail.com

Can’t wait to hear from you,

Blaise

Perfect BBQ Hamburgers

“Blaise The Baker” is cooking again! (Well…grilling!)

I was hesitant to share this recipe at first, because I wasn’t really sure it would really BE considered a “recipe”, but there was enough interest that I thought I would go ahead and share…

I have made this hamburger recipe (when grilling) for years and it’s turned out delicious every single time.

The mustard really gives it a “pop” of flavor, while the olive oil makes the meat succulent and tender. Grilling time is up to you – I prefer “medium rare”.

Hamburgers BBQ Blog

Perfect BBQ Hamburgers

2 pounds ground beef
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons yellow squirt mustard
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper

Mix all ingredients together lightly with a fork until combined.

Depending on the size of your hamburger (I make mine “medium” in size) this recipe should make about 6-7 large hamburgers.

Grill to desired doneness. I prefer using a charcoal grill for the flavor, but this recipe will also work on an electric grill.

Serve with your favorite condiments and/or cheese.

For the “perfect” hamburger, serve on English muffins! Delicious…

Enjoy!

PIN IT: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/570901690236878397/

Simple Strawberry Jam

It is strawberry season in Indiana and you know what that means!? All of my strawberry jam, strawberry pizza and strawberry shortcake recipes get pushed right to the top of my “to try” list! So far, I have had pretty good luck with all of my strawberry “recipe testing” experiments. Matter of fact, right now (in the refrigerator) I have a new recipe I’m trying for “No Bake Strawberry Cheesecake Cups”! They look incredible and I can not wait to test them! (Which IS after all, the best part of “recipe testing”!)

Many of you requested the recipe for the jam I made a few days ago, but I was still “tweaking” the recipe. It was inspired by a recipe from Ina Garten (“The Barefoot Contessa”). I changed a few things in the recipe, (including the sugar amount, the amount of fruit, the cooking time and the liqueur substitution) and I think it is incredible! DO NOT panic that this recipe calls for a candy thermometer. I have tried this recipe with AND without one, and if you pay close attention…it will work out either way.

I have used the finished product on toast, angel food cake, ice cream…and straight out of the jar! It is really simple and delicious – you will be wanting to make this year around!

Strawberry Jam Blog

Simple Strawberry Jam

3 pints fresh strawberries
3 cups sugar (see NOTE on sugar in recipe)
3 tablespoons fresh orange juice
3 tablespoons orange zest
1 Granny Smith apple (cored and diced)
1 cup fresh blueberries
Candy thermometer

Place the strawberries into a colander and rinse them under cold water. Be sure the strawberries are clean and free of any debris.

Drain the strawberries and place on a paper towel. Cut the tops off the strawberries (hull / clean them).

Cut the strawberries in half – but leave the smaller ones whole.

Place the cut berries into a heavy bottomed pan (Dutch oven). I used a cast iron dutch oven for this, and it worked great. I try and use cast iron when and where I can – big fan!

Pour the sugar in with the strawberries and toss to coat. Be careful not to “break up” the strawberries.

NOTE ON SUGAR – I used the “C&N” brand “Baker’s Sugar” for this recipe, which is “ultra-fine pure sugar”. The difference between this sugar and “regular” sugar is that this particular type of sugar is finely processed and “melts” into the jam better. BUT you can also use “regular” sugar – I have tried both and both work well…

Zest the orange FIRST before you try for the juice. I zest the orange right over the pot. Just eyeball 3 tablespoons. If you need to measure, please feel free.

Next, cut the oranges in half (for 3 tablespoons of zest and juice you should need about THREE oranges) and juice them. I use a juicer, but you can also use a fork and “squeeze” the orange around the fork. Do this in a measuring cup – or right into the pot for those who would rather “eyeball”.

Stir the juice and zest into the strawberries and sugar mixture carefully.

Place the pot over a MEDIUM heat and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally.

Once the mixture is to a boil, add the blueberries and apple and continue stirring.

Skim any foam that might rise to the top…

Using a candy thermometer, have the mixture reach 220 degrees. This should take about 30 minutes. IF you don’t want to use a candy thermometer (I have tried this recipe with and without one) watch the jam closely at about 25 minutes. If the color is RICH and DEEP – remove from heat. Trust me…it only takes a second for the mixture to burn! As long as you are stirring the jam and watching for the rich color it will be fine.

Once the jam is dark and rich in color (ABOUT 30 minutes) the jam is done. Remove it from the heat.

Pour the jam into a large container (I used another deep pot) and let it cool to room temperature.

Once it is cooled to room temperature, place into jars and keep in the refrigerator for 2 weeks.

To keep it longer, place in canning jars and can according to manufacturer’s directions.

Enjoy!

PIN IT: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/570901690236845094/