Cookbooking and Column Update

I’ve been getting a LOT of messages and emails about a few things so I thought I would do a little “update” for everyone!

First up – my “CHEW THIS” column is featured in “The Courier-Times” on the 1st and 3rd Sundays each month. I think there was some confusion on this. This month has 5 Sundays, so my next column will run Sunday September 7th! (I’ll be sure to remind everyone! )

To check out my first column please click here – http://www.thecouriertimes.com/neighbors/article_e68584d2-2185-11e4-bfb5-001a4bcf887a.html

Also – my cookbook is coming along GREAT! My “Recipe Testing” was a huge success (thanks again to all who participated) and things are moving along. Book proposals are being worked on for submission and the typing and editing work begins… For those asking about a release date, price, etc. this is all TBA.

AND keep those food questions coming by sending them to my food email – blaisethebaker@gmail.com

I LOVE answering any question you may have! (Eventually I hope to open a “Q&A” section on my blog with some of the best questions along with my answers.) Thanks again for all the support! I’m so excited about all of this!!!

Happy Sunday!

Blaise

Cookbook Corner – Extra Virgin

Blog Note: My “Cookbook Corner” has been moved from Sundays to Wednesdays.

This week’s “Cookbook Corner” really opened my eyes to Italian food and culture…

Extra Virgin Cookbook Blog

“Extra Virgin” By: Gabriele Corcos and Debi Mazar

You might recognize Gabriele and Debi from their hit cooking show “Extra Virgin” on “The Cooking Channel”. I’ve been a fan of their show since day one, and I credit it for helping me expand my vision of what true Italian food is and what true Italian food is all about.

A lot of people get wrapped up in “popular” cooking methods or the “must have ingredients” of the moment – but not this adorable Italian couple! Their cooking is rustic, straight forward, easy and delicious.

As soon as I received my copy of “Extra Virgin” the cover blew me away. I wasn’t quite sure what the dish on the cover was…but I knew I wanted to try it! It looked delicious…and encouraged me to flip through the book until I found the recipe. (“Heirloom Tomato and Burrata Caprese” page 22).

The pictures throughout the book are absolutely gorgeous (and aside from the delicious recipes) the perfect excuse (if you need an excuse) to buy the book…

After marking down the cover picture recipe to try, I flipped to the back and looked under “desserts”, as I usually do with cookbooks. And…I wasn’t disappointed!

“Almond Cookies” (page 234), “Carnival Fritters” (a personal favorite and page 236), “Coffee Granita” (page 247), “Tiramisu” (one of my all time favorite desserts and page 248), and “Lemon Sorbet” (page 256) were all marked with a couple executed to perfection!

The cookbook is beautifully put together with chapters divided up into perfect categories – each with wonderful and rustic recipes! Categories are: Appetizers, Pastas and Sauces, Risotto, Soups, Salads, Meat, Fish, Vegetables, Pizza, Panini, Desserts and Drinks.

The “Guacamole” recipe (page 28) is amazing alone, but even better with the “Baked Beet Chips” (page 29). Tip: Wear gloves when handling beets…and be careful because they stain EVERYTHING they touch…

Another wonderful (and simple, rustic) recipe can be found on page 59 – “Fake Sauce”. It’s delicious, chunky and very flavorful. The “fake” part comes from the lack of meat in the recipe…which is perfect for vegetarians. The sauce is very versatile and delicious when served with any form of pasta…but also just as delicious when served with your favorite crusty bread.

The chapter on “Risotto” has been flagged for me to try just about every single recipe. I love making risotto and find the whole process relaxing…but I haven’t had the chance to try any of these recipes yet…but look forward to when I can!

“Grilled Tuscan Chicken” (page 143), “Beef Stew with Polenta” (page 155), “Grilled Endive with Gorgonzola and Sage Oil” (page 186), and all of their rustic pizza recipes are perfect examples of the type of cooking that fills this book! They are simple, rustic, flavorful and couldn’t be easier!

I highly recommend this cookbook for those of you who want to know and experience more “true and rustic” Italian cooking. There’s no hype here – just truly simple and delicious Italian cooking…

To buy the book please click here…
http://www.randomhouse.com/book/226338/extra-virgin-by-gabriele-corcos-and-debi-mazar

To visit their website, blog and learn more about the cookbook (including recipes) as well as their TV show, please click here…
http://www.cookingchanneltv.com/shows/extra-virgin.html

Want to cook your way through the book? My friend Jenny has a Facebook group that is doing just that! To join please log into Facebook, and click here…
https://www.facebook.com/groups/456633824470593/

The personal views and reviews of this blog are mine and mine alone. Any opinion or thought expressed are strictly my own. I received this book from “Blogging for Books” for this review. More information can be found by emailing me your questions.

Blaise

CHEW THIS feature

Today’s the day!!! I’m so excited!

My FIRST column has officially been released!

CHEW THIS!

Chew This Blaise Blog

I am so grateful and thankful to Lisa and Donna from “The Courier-Times” to give me such an incredible opportunity!

I can’t wait to hear what you all think! (Drop me an email, or comment here…)

Please pick up your local copy of “The Courier-Times” today!

Creamy Cucumber and Onion Salad Blaise Doubman

Creamy Cucumber and Onion Salad

http://www.thecouriertimes.com/neighbors/article_e68584d2-2185-11e4-bfb5-001a4bcf887a.html

Blaise

PIN IT: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/570901690241322506/

CHEW THIS

Blaise Courier

I’m so excited!

I was featured today on the front of “The Courier-Times” for my upcoming food column (CHEW THIS) starting this Sunday!

Be sure to pick up a copy and let me know what you think! Email me here – blaisethebaker@gmail.com

For more information about “The Courier-Times” click here…

http://www.thecouriertimes.com/

See you in the paper! 😉

Blaise

Chocolate Chip Puff Pastry Cookies

I am a huge fan of frozen puff pastry and I love creating new and delicious ways of using it! A few months ago I was inspired to try my hand at making cookies out of the puff pastry, and OH! I’m so glad I did!

These delicious chocolate chip and cream cheese filled cookies are rolled up in the puff pastry and then cut and baked off like cinnamon rolls! They are so good! You get the delicate “crunch” of the puff pastry, and the “tang” of the cream cheese, finished off with (of course) the chocolate… AND they couldn’t be easier!

These are best eaten within 2 days of when they are made. Trust me – that won’t be a problem with these delicious cookies!

Plan ahead: The frozen puff pastry needs to be thawed – so place the pastry in the refrigerator overnight to allow for a gentle defrost.

Chocolate and Cream Cheese Puff Pastry Pinwheels Blog

Chocolate Chip Puff Pastry Cookies

2 sheets (1 package) frozen puff pastry, thawed
8 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
4 tablespoons white granulated sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 cups mini chocolate chips, divided

Start by preheating the oven to 375 degrees F.

Prepare 2 baking sheets by covering them with parchment paper.

On a floured surface, unfold 1 of the puff pastry sheets and roll (using a floured rolling pin) the pastry out to make a large rectangle. (The rectangle should run pretty close to 15 x 10 inches or so)

In a small bowl, combine the cream cheese, vanilla extract and white granulated sugar and stir together until smooth.

Take half of this mixture, and spread evenly over the rolled out puff pasty sheet, leaving about an inch boarder along the right side of the dough.

Sprinkle on half of the mini chocolate chips and try to get them as evenly as possible.

Roll up the pastry by gently folding and rolling, starting with the left hand side. Work carefully and gently with this part – there will be a little “overflow” and this is fine.

When finished rolling, seal the end with just your finger and a little water.

Repeat this process with the other sheet of puff pastry.

When finished, you should have 2 “logs” of puff pastry cookies. Wrap these in plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours. (You could also do this a day ahead and bake them off the following day)

After chilled, remove from the refrigerator and remove plastic wrap. Cut each log crosswise into about 1-inch slices. Place the slices onto the prepared baking sheets.

Bake these in a preheated oven for 20 minutes, or until golden brown.

If your oven can only accommodate one baking sheet at a time, place the other sheet into the refrigerator until ready to bake. If placed in the refrigerator, add about 3-4 minutes bake time.

Enjoy!

PIN IT: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/288160076132960556/

Blog Tour

Today’s edition of “Cookbook Corner” has been replaced with a special “Blog Tour” posting. Enjoy!

“I don’t believe you can ever really cook unless you love eating.”
― Nigella Lawson

(Favorite Quote)

My good friend Jenny Hartin included me in her “Blog Tour” last Sunday (see link here – http://madrantingsofamiddleclassmom.blogspot.com/2014/08/magical-mystical-blog-tour-and-down.html) and I am returning the favor, and keeping the blog ball rolling by posting my own “Blog Tour”! Here we GO…

First up… A little bit about myself…

I first started cooking (and baking) in the kitchens of my mom and grandma when I was only seven years old. I quickly became interested in the techniques and stories behind each recipe, and still remember trying to connect the recipes with family memories and family history. I always asked my mom and grandma who the recipe came from that they were using (if not their own) and would always try and find out “more” about each recipe and how and why whoever wrote it, wrote it the way that they did.

Why would someone use brown sugar instead of white sugar? Why would someone use cornstarch while others would use tapioca? Questions like this always floated around my mind – and still do. I am (I admit) a compulsive recipe researcher as well as a compulsive cookbook reader (I have thousands).

My love of food has followed me all my life. Through high school, when my Home Economics teacher asked me to make my “Pumpkin Pie Crunch Cake” for not only the Teacher’s Holiday Luncheon, but requested a couple to serve at her own family Holiday. Even in college, I would make and deliver goodies to my professors that happened to be on campus the same days that I were.

Several years later, I discovered a passion for food writing and started writing privately about my experiences with food. Soon after, I started writing and developing recipes and taking pictures to go along with each finished dish. It was something that I not only loved, but something that quickly became a form of relaxation and happiness.

I would develop and test recipes with my mom, Darla, and my grandma, Barbra, and there were a lot of good family memories (and recipes) discovered throughout the process. I credit both of them for my extensive love of cooking, baking, eating and wanting to feed the people that I love.

I started publicly sharing some of my food recipes and writings on social media in June 2013 and the encouragement and support was overwhelming. Soon after, I thought about starting an actual food blog for people to read and become a place for me to really start to share my passion with other people.

“Blaise the Baker” officially opened on Valentine’s Day 2014 with only a handful of subscribers. Skip ahead just five months, and “Blaise the Baker” has thousands of subscribers and offers not only recipes, but cookbook reviews, food tips, and a “Ask Blaise the Baker” feature where people write in their food questions to get an answer directly from me within minutes! I have been overwhelmed and thankful for the support to say the very least. It means the World to me to know that my love and passion for food is being shared with those who have and share the same interests.

I am in the finishing stages of typing and formatting my cookbook and putting together book proposals to send to interested publishers and I can’t wait to see my family memories and recipes in print!

I still can’t believe the roller coaster ride that I’ve been on in the past two years. Moving forward, I hope to continue and expand my blog in many ways. I’m planning on interviewing professional chefs (and bakers), starting an “international food and flavor” feature, a “Pop Up Shop” bakery, as well as a YouTube channel where I share recipes and put together “how-to” segments for people to watch.

Ultimately I really hope to continue this journey doing what I love – food writing, recipe developing and sharing my love for food with the people who share the same passion.

Email me your food related questions here – blaisethebaker@gmail.com

My Featured Favorite Bloggers…

“Mad Rantings of Andrew’s Mom” is written and powered by my friend Jenny Hartin. I’ve gotten to know her through Facebook, and I’m so lucky to have her in my life. She’s really a “Superwoman”! Her blog is described as “the joys and struggles of autism with recipes, cooking and baking thrown in for good measure.” Check it out here…
http://madrantingsofamiddleclassmom.blogspot.com/

She’s also the Leader, Organizer and Developer of “The Cookbook Junkies” on Facebook – a place where cookbook lovers (as well as food and recipe lovers) get together and talk about cookbooks, recipes and form bonds over food. Check the group out here…
https://www.facebook.com/groups/220973497999519/

“An American Girl” is the creation of my dear friend Shelby Irwin! She has blogged on and off for several years now, and just recently gave her blog a “facelift” and it has never been better! She writes about food, fashion, tips and tricks of all kinds, and is currently writing about her experience moving to Montana! I highly recommend following this blog for great stories, beautiful pictures, recipes and advice! Check it out here…
http://shelbyirwin11.blogspot.com/

“Bakerella” is the genius creation of Angie Dudley. Ever heard of “Cake Pops”? Yep – she is the inventor (or at least I would like to think so). I’ve followed her blog from the very beginning and have been a fan since day one. Her blog has amazing photographs and recipes for all things sweet! Check it out here…
http://www.bakerella.com/

“Baking by Design” by Chris Falman was one of the very first “dessert” blogs that I found and started following. I have been a loyal follower since the first time I clicked on his blog, and have followed every since – even on Twitter and Instagram. We share so many things in common (love for Nigella Lawson and Ina Garten to just name one) and I really find him fascinating. He has followed his dreams and I admire that. Check him out here…
http://bakerbydesign.com/

Have a blog? Let’s continue the “Blog Tour” and use this post as your starting point!

Blaise

Cookbook Corner – Treat Yourself

This weeks edition of “Cookbook Corner” is about one of my favorite foods – snacks! (or “junk foods”). The cookbook I’m writing about is…

Treat Yourself Cookbook blog

“Treat Yourself” By: Jennifer Steinhauer

As soon as I picked up this book I knew I was going to like it. After I flicked through the book and seen the beautiful photos and easy and delicious looking recipes – I knew I was going to love it! Jennifer Steinhauer did beyond a fabulous job in recreating some of America’s best loved (cherished and dreamed out) “junk food” treats!

The front of the book says “70 classic snacks you loved as a kid (and still love today)” and that couldn’t be anymore spot on – especially for me! I grew up eating Oreo cookies, Little Debbie and Hostess foods…and don’t regret a thing – I loved and savored every minute of it! Some of my earliest memories of Hostess cakes (Cupcakes for example) are in my earliest life recollections. I remember traveling to the “Hostess Outlet” shop with my Grandma Barbra, or with my parents – and believe me…we stocked up! There is nothing more thrilling and exciting to an eight year old than a cart full of Hostess cakes! Ha! 😉 (And nothing more delicious on a hot summer day than a Hostess Cupcake, right from the freezer…seriously – try it!)

Snack foods (some call them “junk foods”) define certain events in my life that just wouldn’t be the same without them! “Treat Yourself” is an amazing compilation of homemade snacks and treats that I remember always being a part of my life.

I always thought there were two types of people – those who liked “Hostess” brand snacks and those who liked “Little Debbie” brand snacks! Ha! Kind of like the “Democrat” or “Republican” classifications for kids on the playground. Me? I like different snacks from both sides of the fence.

If you are looking for a recipe for your favorite “Girl Scout” cookie (the Thin Mint) look no further than the recipe on page 25. What about “Chips Ahoy!” chocolate chip cookies!? Try page 35! (And the secret Jennifer has discovered about baking chocolate chip cookies may forever change the way I bake mine!) “Nilla Wafers”? Page 43. Can you imagine these used in your favorite banana pudding recipe!? Delicious! Searching for a recipe for “Nutter Butters” (you know – those deliciously dry peanut butter cookies in the shape of a peanut…) try page 52 – and the recipe couldn’t be any simpler! “Oreos” (possibly the most used recipe in the cookbook) can be found on page 58. And yes…I’m guilty of skipping the cookie and just making (and eating) the vanilla cream filling! This, I will say, was delicious and tasted identical to that found between the chocolate cookies that you can find in the supermarket!

Looking for “Zebra Cakes”? (page 81) or perhaps “MoonPies”? (featured on the cover and also found on page 87). Or – are you a “Pop-Tart” person!? Yep – Jennifer has a recipe for “Strawberry Pop-Tarts” that can be found on page 108 and are (from experience) absolutely delicious! You’ll never buy another store bought one again…

Of course there are many more recipes for “snacks” that are more than just cakes. There are homemade “Ritz Crackers”, “Cheez-Its”, “Funyuns” and even a recipe for homemade “Twix Bars”! I mean…really? Can it get any better!?

I highly recommend this book for dessert lovers, snack lovers, and for people who want a little piece of their childhood back, in the form of delicious memorable snacks that they grew up with. This book is a fun read with mouthwatering photos. The recipes are easy (compared to what you would think they would be for homemade snacks) and written out and explained nicely.

To buy the book click here…
http://www.randomhouse.com/book/224817/treat-yourself-by-jennifer-steinhauer

For a look inside the book click here…

For more about the author click here…
http://www.randomhouse.com/author/168691/jennifer-steinhauer

The personal views and reviews of this blog are mine and mine alone. Any opinion or thought expressed are strictly my own. I received this book from “Blogging for Books” for this review. More information can be found by emailing me your questions.

Blaise

Giveaway!

I’m excited to announce one of my first GIVEAWAYS right here on my blog! I’m so excited…

What is the giveaway!? It’s for “The B.T.C. Old-Fashioned Grocery Store Cookbook”!

I was lucky enough to get a copy earlier and I LOVED it! (My review is here – https://blaisethebaker.wordpress.com/2014/07/13/cookbook-corner-the-b-t-c-old-fashioned-grocery-store-cookbook/)

Trust me – you want to WIN a copy of this book!

BTC Cookbook blog

GIVEAWAY!

What do you need to do to win? Simply, click the link below and fill out the information! It’s that easy!

The contest ends on August 20th, 2014 at 11:59pm. One winner will be chosen at random on August 21st, 2014 and will be alerted by email.

Good luck!

Blaise

UPDATE: (08/20/2014) The giveaway is now closed. THANK YOU to everyone that participated! A winner will be announced shortly! Watch your emails…

-Blaise