Cookbook Corner – Le French Oven

I love big, beautiful French cookbooks, and this one tops my “favorites” list! Hillary Davis has done it again with her fabulous book, “Le French Oven”!

Le French Oven Blaise the Baker Cookbook Corner

“Le French Oven” By: Hillary Davis

I absolutely fell in love with Hillary’s book “French Comfort Food” about a year ago, and still highly recommend it to anyone who asks about cookbook recommendations. It’s a big beautiful book filled with not only gorgeous photographs, but recipes so mouth watering, you will want to run to the kitchen and start cooking… or BAKING if you are like me…

Hillary’s new book “Le French Oven” has now joined the ranks of “French Comfort Food” as one of my ALL-TIME FAVORITE cookbooks! (I’m actually buying this cookbook for a lot of my fellow “foodie friends”…) Once you pick this book up, you’ll understand why I’m going so crazy over it!

This book’s primary focus is cooking in dutch ovens – hence the name, “Le French Oven”. It’s so unique in this way, and actually creates a whole new genre of cookbooks that I hadn’t even thought of before. It really breathes life into an area of French cooking that so many of you will appreciate.

At the beginning of this book, Hillary explains the type and brand of “french ovens” that you’ll either get familiar with, or are already familiar with, as well as “how to choose your french oven”, and “how to care for your french oven”. So – just in case you aren’t sure where to start…Hillary helps you out! I’ve loaned this cookbook to my Grandma Barbra who said she was “just as impressed with the writing” as she was the recipes. It’s no secret that Hillary Davis is not only a talented recipe developer, but also a terrific writer. It’s this writing that will jump out at you, and make you love and appreciate this book even more.

Just some of the fabulous recipes included are…

“Fondue Mac ‘n’ Cheese” (page 35), “Shrimp Cocktail with Spicy Dipping Sauce” (page 43), “Artichoke Parmesan Soup” (page 54), “Fireside Duck and Cabbage Soup” (page 61), “Velvety Pumpkin Pie Soup” (which is FABULOUS and so flavorful – page 64), “Super Creamy Goat Cheese Vegetable Lasagna” (page 76), “Red Pepper, Potato and Tomato Casserole” (I love the flavor combinations in this casserole – page 84), “Thick Alsatian Pork Chops with Gingersnap Gravy” (page 91), “Whole Stuffed and Poached Chicken with Apples and Cider Sauce” (PERFECT for the upcoming fall months – page 102), “An Elegant Standing Beef Rib Roast” (page 111), “Braised Leeks and Swiss Chard with Feta and Raisins” (page 121), “Braised Cod with Potatoes and Onions” (page 126), “Country-Style Pork and Beef with Lentils and Vegetables” (page 130), “Basque Fish Stew” (page 146), “Sweet Potato Chips” (page 156), “Leftover Mashed Potato Croquettes” (page 158), “Lemon Lovers’ Panna Cotta with Lemon Curd” (WONDERFUL – page 168), “Banana Rice Pudding” (page 170), “Vanilla Cheesecakes with Fresh Strawberry Compote” (page 178), “Warm Chocolate Semolina Spoon Cake” (page 185), “Fresh Strawberry Jam” (page 197) and “Holiday Party Mulled Wine” (page 205).

Now, really? How fabulous does that sound?

The recipes included are really creative, flavorful and something that can’t be found in other French cookbooks. This book is truly a stand alone in terms of creativity and beauty. Fabulous book!

It goes without saying, that I HIGHLY recommend you buy this book, as well as “French Comfort Food” by learning more and following this link…

http://www.marchedimanche.com/

The personal views and reviews of this blog are mine and mine alone. Any opinion or thought expressed are strictly my own. Shout out and special thanks to Hillary Davis for this opportunity. More information can be found by emailing me your questions.

Blaise

ASK Blaise the Baker 09/29/15

I’ve been getting requests to “bring back” some of my blog features that I’ve been a little lacking on such as my “Cookbook Corners”, “ASK Blaise the Baker” sections and my “Favorite Things Friday” posts. I’ve decided to focus more on them, while also adding some new sections, such as my “Signature” posts – where I give you a little deeper insight into my life, past the recipes and food, (You can view my first post here – https://blaisethebaker.com/2015/09/24/signature-092415/) as well as offering more giveaways… I have a few other things planned so please stay tuned. Also make sure and “follow / like” me on my official Facebook page, here – http://facebook.com/blaisethebaker Let’s get it started…

Ask Blaise the Baker Logo

Q: Why don’t you use cream of tartar in your Snickerdoodle cookie recipe? (Recipe here: https://blaisethebaker.com/2014/10/05/chew-this-snickerdoodles/)

A: Because I use vegetable shortening in my cookies to develop that perfect “chewiness” I’m looking for, there is really no need to add cream of tartar. If you’re afraid of using vegetable shortening for cookies such as these, use unsalted butter in its place, and add about 2 teaspoons cream of tartar.

Q: What other “mix-ins” can I add to your “no-churn” ice cream? (Recipe here: https://blaisethebaker.com/2015/08/16/chew-this-no-churn-chocolate-chip-cookie-ice-cream/)

A: ANYTHING! Seriously – anything! Gummy worms, crushed up peanut butter cookies, lemon peel, orange peel, lime peel, maple syrup, caramel, candied nuts, and on and on and on…

Q: Where can I follow you on Pinterest?

A: http://pinterest.com/blaisethebaker

Q: Do you use parchment paper or silpats when baking cookies and why?

A: I’ve used both, but use parchment paper most often. I don’t enjoy silpats… nothing against them, but they’re just not my cup of tea.

Q: What’s an easy way of converting US measurements to Metric?

A: I always send people to this website – http://www.about.ch/various/unit_conversion.html#CH_Units_MetricToUS

Q: I have an 8-inch (or 9-inch) round cake recipe that makes two of the desired size. I want to convert this to a 13×9-inch baking pan. How do I do this? Should I adjust the ingredient measurements?

A: No – leave the measurements alone. Two 8-inch (or 9-inch approx.) cakes are equal to a 13×9-inch cake. The amount of batter will be the same, just watch the baking time and adjust if necessary.

Q: What’s the difference between a metal and glass baking pan?

A: Baking in a glass pan will take longer than baking in a metal pan. Metal pans also will heat up faster, and maintain their heat longer. Use the type of pan that’s listed in the recipe.

Q: Can I hire you to provide goodies for my wedding / baby shower / birthday / party?

A: Eventually, yes. Right now, no. I will alert everyone here, as well as on my Facebook page (see link above), Twitter page (http://twitter.com/blaisethebaker) and Instagram page (http://instagram.com/blaisethebaker) when my “Blaise the Baker POP-UP Shop” will be available to take orders. STAY TUNED!

Q: My chocolate chips always sink to the bottom of my cookies. Why?

A: To avoid this problem, I always coat my chocolate chips in about a tablespoon of flour before adding them to the batter. This also works for chocolate chunks, apples, blueberries, etc. (in muffins, scones…)

Q: What’s the difference between “all purpose” flour and “self rising” flour?

A: “All purpose” flour doesn’t contain anything other than flour. “Self rising” flour contains flour, baking powder and salt. I always use “all purpose” flour in my recipes. If you want to make your own “self rising” flour, combine 1 cup “all-purpose” flour with 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon salt.

Q: How can I keep my chocolate from burning when I melt it?

A: The trick I’ve learned over the years, is that you take away the chocolate from the heat source BEFORE all of the chocolate is completely melted. Remove from the heat source before the chocolate is melted, and stir until completely melted. This has always worked for me…

Thanks everyone for your questions! If you have a question, please email me – blaisethebaker@gmail.com for an answer. I will get directly back with you, and your question / answer may appear HERE in future posts to help other people who may have the same question.

Thanks for asking!

Blaise

Cookbook Corner – Martha Stewart’s Appetizers

Since my soft “blog relaunch” I’m really trying to save my “Cookbook Corners” for WEDNESDAYS (and sometimes for my “Favorite Things Friday” posts) but I just couldn’t resist in sharing this one with all of you today! I love love love Martha Stewart, and I’m really impressed with her new book…

Appetizers Blaise the Baker Cookbook Corner

“Martha Stewart’s Appetizers” By: Martha Stewart

This book is deliciously satisfying, just as the other Martha Stewart books are… It has delicious and fabulous recipes, beautiful photography and an “author photo” of Martha Stewart you have to see to believe. (She has taken in the “Beyonce windblown fan hair” look, and it’s just all around hilarious and awesome).

Martha Stewart is the Queen of Entertaining and is the original hostess. I’ve been a fan of hers for years and years – my Grandma Barbra even before that. This book features more than 200 appetizer recipes, some printed before, but all endlessly delectable AND about 30 cocktail recipes…

The book is divided up into five main chapters, “Snacks, Starters, Small Plates, Stylish Bites and Sips”. It also contains “Golden Rules for Hosting a Party”, “Party Planning” and “Basic Recipes and Techniques”. It’s really a very informative (and fun) book to own.

If you own Martha Stewart’s previous “appetizer” books, this one is different in a way that it brings casualness to the home for entertaining, and I love that approach.

Just some of the delicious recipes included are, “Spiced Nuts” (page 17), “Seasoned Potato Chips” (page 20), “Salty-Sweet Party Mix” (page 28), “Salsas” (page 31), “Seasoned Popcorn” (page 34), “Watermelon Wedges with Feta and Mint” (page 37), “Fried Stuffed Olives” (page 41), “Ricotta Crostini” (page 50), “Puff Pastry Cheese Straws” (page 57), “Guacamole” (page 64), “Pickled Shrimp” (page 76), “Beef and Asparagus Negimaki” (page 84), “Mini Chicken Flautas” (page 95), “Sliders” (page 112), “Wild Mushroom Pizzas” (page 121), “Pull-Apart Lobster Rolls” (page 130), “Ham and Biscuits” (page 146), “Meatballs” (page 152), “Hand Pies” (page 159), “Deviled Eggs” (page 178), “Cucumber and Endive Salad Bites” (page 186), “Classic Canapes” (page 200), “Stuffed Mushrooms” (page 212), “Mini Crab Cakes” (page 217) and “Friend Macaroni and Cheese Bites” (page 228).

Cocktail recipes included!?

Sidecars, Mint Juleps, Margaritas, Bloody Marys, Sparklers, Punches and Daiquiris – among many many more!

If you love appetizers, Martha Stewart, or just amazing cookbooks, I recommend you buy this book…

http://www.amazon.com/Martha-Stewarts-Appetizers-Delicious-Cocktails/dp/0307954625

The personal views and reviews of this blog are mine and mine alone. Any opinion or thought expressed are strictly my own. Shout out and special thanks to Blogging for Books for this opportunity. More information can be found by emailing me your questions.

Blaise

Red Velvet Donut Trifle

I LOVE donuts, and I’m not prejudice against any kind, any brand or any flavor. Are you with me? Cake, yeast, vanilla, chocolate, blueberry, lemon, red velvet…

Awhile back I developed an amazing recipe for my “Chew This” column, for a donut bread pudding. It is still, to this day, one of my most popular recipes. Try it – and you’ll see why… (Recipe here: https://blaisethebaker.com/2015/04/19/chew-this-jacks-donut-bread-pudding/) Words can’t describe how delicious and flavorful the finished product is!

I got to thinking – if I could improve a yeast donut, why not try and improve a cake donut!?

My friend, Travis Bowman, owns and operates the very successful bakery, “Bowman Bakery”. (Link here: http://www.bowmanbakery.com/) I highly recommend EVERYTHING he makes – seriously! Everything is wonderful…

I decided to use his red velvet cake donuts for this recipe, but in all honesty, you could use any flavor of his cake donuts and this trifle would still turn out incredible.

Red Velvet Donut Trifle Blaise the Baker

Red Velvet Donut Trifle

6 cake donuts, but into 6/8 pieces each
2 packages (3.56 oz. each) “Hershey” brand white chocolate instant pudding
3 cups whole milk
1 package (8 oz.) cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup white granulated sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup heavy whipping cream

Find a large, decorative glass bowl and place a layer of the cut up donuts into the bottom.

Next, make the pudding by combining both white chocolate instant pudding mixes, into a large sized bowl, whisking in the whole milk until no granules are left. Let stand for five minutes at room temperature.

In another large sized bowl, mix together the cream cheese, white granulated sugar, pure vanilla extract and salt. Stir together until thoroughly mixed and incorporated. Set aside.

In another bowl, whisk the heavy whipping cream until stiff peaks form and set aside.

Now you are ready to start layering.

On top of the layer of donuts, place a little of the white chocolate pudding, then the cream cheese mixture, then the whipped cream. Continue to layer donuts, white chocolate pudding, cream cheese mixture, whipped cream… and end with the whipped cream. If desired, place a couple of the chopped up donuts on top for decoration.

Place in the refrigerator for about 6 hours.

Remove and serve.

Enjoy!

PIN IT: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/570901690242838166/

Favorite Things Friday – Magpie

A lot of you have written to me, asking for me to bring back my “Favorite Things Friday” feature… a place where I “feature” my favorite things, or what I’m currently loving. It could be a book, movie, music, clothing, etc.

Today’s “Favorite Things Friday” feature, is a cookbook…

magpie cookbook Blaise the Baker

“Magpie” By: Holly Ricciardi with Miriam Harris

I picked this up a few times, just to flip over it, before I actually sat down to read it. I guess I was savory the book, and didn’t really want to “finish” it – anyone else feel that sometimes!?

The book features pies (both sweet and savory) that will literally have you want to start licking the pages… And it’s not just because the recipes sound so delicious…the photographs are amazing!

This book is divided up into four main “chapters”.

Chapter 1 – Flaky Piecrust
Chapter 2 – Fruity Pies
Chapter 3 – (Mostly Creamy Pies)
Chapter 4 – Quiches, Potpies, and Other Savories

I can’t really pick a favorite – but I will say that my favorite recipe is in Chapter 4…more on that later…and a recipe posting later!

The first chapter is dedicated completely to the piecrust, which I really loved and appreciated. Who knew there were so many different variations of piecrusts?! I didn’t! But I’m glad I know now…because I’m wanting to try them all!

The recipes in this book are delicious. Just a few examples!? “Caramel Apple Pie” (page 46), “Pear Chocolate Pie” (page 58), “Hummingbird Pie” (page 64), “Lemon Gingersnap Pie” (page 67), “Peach Lattice Pie with Bourbon Caramel” (page 93), “Peach Raspberry Orange Blossom Pie” (page 102), “Plum Cherry Almond Crumb Pie” (page 116), “Breakfast Oatmeal Pie” (page 135), “Roasted Sweet Potato Pie” (page 142), “Oatmeal Cookie Pie” (page 150), “Chocolate Blackout Pie” (page 163), “Eggnog Cream Pie” (page 172), “Banana Nilla Pudding Pie” (page 183), “Cookie Dough Hand Pies” (page 189), “Tomato Cheddar Corn Pie” (page 204), “Ham Loaf Pie” (page 220), “Savory Beef Potpies” (page 226), “Pulled Pork Potpies with Coleslaw” (page 234) and “Chicken Corn Pie” (page 246).

Plus several more…

BUT – do you want to know my favorite recipe!? Their “Macaroni and Cheese Potpies”!!! Yes – they are just as amazing as they sound… and guess what!? I got permission to share the recipe here with all of you!

I highly recommend you BUY THIS BOOK, here…
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0762454539/ref=pd_lpo_sbs_dp_ss_1?pf_rd_p=1944687562&pf_rd_s=lpo-top-stripe-1&pf_rd_t=201&pf_rd_i=0954925408&pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_r=1RD91BGKT8G1BXD1SSVZ

AND I highly recommend you make this recipe…

Macaroni and Cheese Potpies 212

Reprinted with permission from Magpie © 2015 by Holly Ricciardi, Running Press, a member of the Perseus Books Group.

Macaroni and Cheese Potpies

Mac and cheese in a pie? Hell yes! This is a perennial Magpie bestseller, whether topped with Old Bay Cheez-It Crunch or BBQ Pulled Pork.

Makes 8 potpies

1 recipe Magpie Dough for Flaky Piecrust (page 17), chilled overnight
2 cups / 226 g elbow macaroni
4 tablespoons / 56 g unsalted butter, cut into pieces
2 large eggs
1 (12-ounce / 340-ml) can evaporated milk
½ teaspoon hot sauce
1 teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
¾ teaspoon dry mustard
3 cups / 340 g grated sharp Cheddar cheese
Old Bay Cheez-It Crunch (page 214)

Follow the instructions on pages 36–37 to roll, pan, and bake the potpie shells. Set the baking sheet on a wire rack and let the shells cool to room temperature while you make the filling.

To make the filling, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and follow the package instructions to cook the macaroni al dente. Drain the macaroni, return it to the pot, and stir in the butter over medium-low heat. Continue stirring to melt the butter and coat the pasta. Whisk together the eggs, evaporated milk, hot sauce, salt, pepper, and dry mustard in a mixing bowl.

Stir the milk mixture into the pot of buttered pasta. Add the cheese and set the pot on the stove over medium-low heat. Stir the mixture constantly for 3 minutes or until creamy. To assemble the potpies, preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C) with a rack in the center.

Carefully unmold the potpie shells, set them on a baking sheet, and rewarm for 5 to 7 minutes. Divide the mac and cheese among the warm shells, top with Cheez-It crunch, and serve immediately.

Old Bay Cheez-it Crunch
Some people top their macaroni and cheese with toasted breadcrumbs, crushed potato chips, Ritz crackers, or even corn flakes. At Magpie, we thought crushed Cheez-Its made sense, so we gave that a try and sprinkled the mixture with Old Bay seasoning to add a bit of spice. Bingo!

Makes 2 Cups:
4 ounces / 113 g Cheez-It crackers
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1½ teaspoons Old Bay seasoning

Preheat the oven to 275°F (135°C) with a rack in the center. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Lightly crush the crackers in a mixing bowl. Add the melted butter and toss to coat. Sprinkle in the Old Bay and continue tossing until the crackers are evenly coated with the spices. Spread the mixture on the lined baking sheet and bake for 6 to 8 minutes, just until lightly toasted. Let the crunch cool before using as topping.

Spin:
Mac and Cheese Potpie with BBQ Pulled Pork: Instead of Cheez-It Crunch, top the potpies with spicy BBQ pulled pork (page 234)—a perfect complement to the creamy, cheesy macaroni.

Recipe for Magpie Dough:

Makes Enough Dough for any of the Following:
2 (9-inch / 23-cm) single-crust pies,
1 (9-inch / 23-cm) double-crust or lattice-top pie,
8 (4 x 2-inch / 10 x 5-cm) potpies,
12 (2 x 1-inch / 5 x 3-cm) mini pies,
1 (9 x 3-inch / 23 x 8-cm) quiche, or 8 (4-inch / 10-cm) hand pies (plus trimmings)

1) Weigh
312 grams / 2½ cups all-purpose flour
28 grams / 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
6 grams / 1 teaspoon fine salt
170 grams / ¾ cup cold unsalted butter, cut into ¼-inch cubes and frozen
60 grams / ¼ cup vegetable shortening, preferably in baking stick form, frozen, cut into ¼-inch pieces, and put back in the freezer
130 grams / ½ cup + 1 tablespoon ice-cold water

2) Mix
Combine the flour, sugar, and salt in the bowl of a food processor and pulse the machine 3 times to blend. Scatter the frozen butter cubes over the flour mixture. Pulse the machine 5 to 7 times, holding each pulse for 5 full seconds, to cut all of the butter into pea-size pieces. Scatter the pieces of frozen shortening over the flour-and-butter mixture. Pulse the machine 4 more 1-second pulses to blend the shortening with the flour. The mixture will resemble coarse cornmeal, but will be a bit more floury and riddled with pale butter bits (no pure-white shortening should be visible; see figure 1, next page).

Turn the mixture out into a large mixing bowl, and make a small well in the center.

If you find a few butter clumps that are closer to marble size than pea size (about ¼ inch in diameter), carefully pick them out and give them a quick smoosh with your fingers. Pour the cold water into the well (fig. 2, next page). Use a curved bowl scraper to lightly scoop the flour mixture up and over the water, covering the water to help get the absorption started. Continue mixing by scraping the flour up from the sides and bottom of the bowl into the center, rotating the bowl as you mix (fig. 4), and occasionally pausing to clean off the scraper with your finger or the side of the bowl, until the mixture begins to gather into clumps but is still very crumbly (fig. 5). (If you are working in very dry conditions and the ingredients remain very floury and refuse to clump together at this stage, add another tablespoon of ice-cold water.)

Lightly gather the clumps with your fingers and use your palm to fold over and press the dough a few times (figs. 6–7; don’t knead!—just give the dough a few quick squishes), until it just begins to come together into a single large mass. It will be a raggedy wad (fig. 8), moist but not damp, that barely holds together; this is exactly as it should be—all it needs is a good night’s rest in the fridge.

For single- and double-crust pies, mini pies, potpies, or hand pies: Divide the dough into 2 equal portions, gently shape each portion into a flat disk 1½ to 2 inches thick, and wrap each tightly with plastic wrap. For quiche, leave the dough in one piece, flatten it into a single large disk 1½ to 2 inches thick (fig. 9), and wrap tightly with plastic wrap.

3) Chill
No ifs, ands, or buts, the dough must have its beauty sleep. That means 8 hours in the refrigerator at the very least. Extra rest is just fine; feel free to let the wrapped dough sit in the fridge for up to 3 days before rolling. (The dough may discolor slightly. No worries. This is merely oxidization and will not affect the flavor or appearance of your finished piecrust.)

Note: At this stage, the wrapped dough can be put in a freezer bag and frozen for up to 2 months. Defrost overnight in the refrigerator before rolling.

Potpie Shells

Potpie-making becomes a less time-consuming proposition if you bake the shells in advance and freeze them. They keep well for a month when wrapped, and you’ll be set to whip up a batch whenever the mood strikes or cold weather blows in. Thaw frozen shells at room temperature, then refresh them in a 350°F (175°C) oven for 5 to 7 minutes before filling.

Makes 8 Shells

1 recipe Magpie Dough for Flaky Piecrust (page 17), chilled overnight

Divide each disk of chilled dough into four equal portions; flatten each portion into a disk, then roll out into eight 7-inch circles that are ¼ inch thick (see Tips for Dough-Friendly Rolling, page 28). Set the rounds on a parchment-lined baking sheet and chill 30 minutes before panning.

Fit each chilled 7-inch circle of dough into a 4½ x 2-inch (11 x 5-cm) springform pan, pleating here and there as needed to fit and pressing lightly to snug the dough up against the bottom and sides of the pan. If there is any overhanging dough, simply fold it in, making sure the top edge is even all around (see photo on page 33).

Chill the panned dough in the freezer until firm, 15 to 20 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C) with a rack in the center. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Cut eight 8-inch squares of aluminum foil or parchment paper.

Line the shells with the foil squares, gently smoothing and pleating the foil into place up close against the bottom and sides of each crust and leaving the corners of the foil standing straight up. Fill each shell to the rim of the crust with beans, stirring with a finger to settle the beans and topping up as needed.

Set the pans on the parchment-lined baking sheet. Slide the sheet into the oven and bake the shells 30 minutes, rotating halfway through the baking time.

Set the sheet on a wire rack and let the shells cool all the way to room temperature before carefully gathering the corners of each foil square together to lift out the beans.

WHY PREBAKE?
Prebaking—also known as blind baking—is used for two types of pies: those with no-bake fillings (such as mousse), and those with fillings that do get baked but at low temperatures that aren’t sufficient to fully bake the crust (lemon curd, for example, and all Magpie quiches). Weights are needed to hold the panned shell in place and prevent the crust from shrinking while it bakes. The Magpie way: Line with parchment or foil and fill to the brim with dried beans.

Special thanks and shout-out to Philadelphia’s favorite pie boutique – Magpie!

Signature – 09/24/15

For those who follow me on Facebook (http://facebook.com/blaisethebaker) or even Instagram (http://instagram.com/blaisethebaker) you will know that on rare occasion, I will post about something personal going on in my life. I don’t really like bringing attention to my personal life, etc. but so many of you have been good at sending prayers and good vibes to me and my family, I really feel like I owe you a look inside some very personal issues – and updates as to what’s going on.

I’m calling this new journal-type section my “Signature” post…

Signature 09/24/15

Grandma Barbra Blaise the Baker

About 5 months ago, my Grandma Barbra became a very sick person. We thought she was having (or had had) a stroke. Her speech was slurred, there was a weakness on her right side and you could just tell that something wasn’t right. That very morning, her blood pressure was sky high, so we just knew it was a stroke. All of the puzzle pieces, that we had, seemed to lead to one thing… stroke.

My Grandpa JR took her to the nearest Emergency Room… twice. They sent her home both times, telling her to “stop taking your blood pressure so often – you’re fine”. Remember – her speech was slurred and you could see it in her face that something wasn’t right. She was even struggling to walk.

I remember feeling numb and panicked. What was going on? What was happening? Why couldn’t people see what we were seeing? This woman, my Grandma Barbra, just a week before, was attending water aerobics class twice a week, driving, getting her own groceries, cooking, cleaning, and crafting…everything!

Her symptoms worsened, so we decided to take her to another Emergency Room. This time – they could tell, something wasn’t right. Several tests were run and ultimately it was determined that she had had a stroke…but there was another spot on her brain too, that they couldn’t really determine or explain. So they sent her to a bigger Hospital, for more tests.

At the other Hospital, she lay in bed getting worse and worse. I felt that the woman who had always been there for me, the woman who I loved and respected more than a lot of people in my life…was slipping away from me. I wasn’t ready for her to go. I didn’t want her to pass away. I knew she was “ready” though… I’ve never in my life met a person who loved God, had so much Faith and had lived her life according to such high beliefs in my life. The only difference though – was that I was NOT ready for her to go…

A week passed, and her symptoms were getting worse. Different Doctors came in with different options…sometimes three or four Doctors a day, and all with a different diagnosis on what was going on with my Grandma.

My whole family came together, some for the first time in years, and my Grandma knew that. I spent my days and nights’ barely holding myself together… crying on most days, staring into space and wondering what was going on, on other days. It was a living nightmare.

Then, finally, a Doctor came in and explained to us that there were two spots on the brain – one spot was the stroke…the other spot was cancer. I couldn’t wrap my mind around the fact she had brain cancer AND a stroke!? Really? Why? How? How could this happen to someone with such a good nature, like my Grandma? I was beyond upset, I was mad, and I was confused.

I prayed and prayed and didn’t stop. Then, the ultimate shoe dropped. We got an “official” report saying that my Grandma didn’t have a stroke at all. She had two masses on the brain – one pushing against the brain stem – that was classified as “brain cancer”. The cancer had started in the breast and traveled to the brain. There was no treatment. She had three months to live.

I remember feeling like my body had ripped open and my heart pulled out and stepped on. I cried and cried like I hadn’t since my Grandpa Max passed away – another Godly person in my life that had passed a few years before. I remember holding onto my cousin and us both crying. I remember my Mom holding me and trying to talk to me. Everyone was shocked and devastated.

I told myself this was it. I couldn’t live without her…and I wasn’t expecting to. I couldn’t even imagine going on in life without my Grandma there with me… Then two ministers from the Hospital we were at came over to us, held me, prayed with me and put a blessing on our family.

I went home that evening, after telling my Grandma Barbra I loved her and cried myself to sleep.

That next morning a miracle happened.

My Uncle was over at the Hospital with my Grandpa JR and Grandma Barbra, and another Doctor came in with this “diagnosis”. He said the spots on her brain, he thought, could be treated. He said he had someone, several years older than my Grandma Barbra, with some of the same issues – and today, he was fine! It’s a fairly new procedure called “radio surgery” and he highly recommended it.

When I heard this news, I dropped to my knees and thanked God. There was hope!

A couple days later, the “radio surgery” was performed, and we all waited and prayed it would work. The Doctor really had high hopes for the surgery and was really optimistic about it.

In the meantime, Grandma Barbra was transferred to a “Rehab Facility”.

She had the treatment, and the very next day – the very next day – her eyes were wider and she was talking clearer! We were all amazed! The treatment seemed to work!

Over the course of the next three months, my Grandma Barbra got stronger, talked better, became more alert and became more wide-eyed. We were all amazed and so thankful…

When my Grandma Barbra went back for her follow up appointment, the Doctor said it showed NO SPOTS in her brain. The MRI came back perfect, and things appeared to be normal. She was healed! The only thing she would have to monitor would be the breast cancer – which was still there. They had given her a cancer pill, which had helped keep things at bay. They told her to just keep doing what she had been doing, and that she was doing great!

Grandma went back to the Rehab Facility and what they did for her there, I can’t even put into words. They had given her her life back! The therapy, the encouragement and the support they gave her was above and beyond anything that I had originally expected. We were all impressed – and thankful.

I will never forget the day she left the Rehab Facility to come home. A few months earlier, I didn’t think that that moment was even possible… And now it was happening! I cried, tears of joy and thankfulness, most of the way home…

We were all thrilled that Grandma was home again – but none of us were more excited than my Grandma Barbra herself. I remember as soon as she walked in, she said “Wow! Smells good in here…” and just smiled and smiled.

“Home Therapy Care” started soon after, and she did great with the program. Within a month, she was cooking some in the kitchen, crocheting and knitting again, and reading her Amish Romance books. It was almost like things were back to normal. She had been through so much, it was remarkable to see her like this!

She’s currently attending “Outpatient Therapy” and doing great! She’s had several re-evaluations and several more Doctor appointments, and everything is so far, so good… She will continue the re-evaluations and they will continue to keep a close eye on things.

I’m so proud of her, and I love her so much!

I’m sure there are details I’m forgetting, emotions that I haven’t even began to convey through the written word, but I wanted to give everyone the full story (or at least a recap) of what’s been going on, how Grandma Barbra is doing today, how much she means to me, and how grateful and thankful we all are for your prayers and the sending of positive thoughts and vibes. Please keep them coming for my family, we more than appreciate them.

Blaise xoxo

Cookbook Corner – Sarabeth’s Good Morning Cookbook

I’m in love with this cookbook, and I’m so happy to be able to share my review and experience with all of you! My “Blaise the Baker” COOKBOOK CORNER is a place where I can share the cookbooks that I love and want to share. It’s not about publicity or pushing a cookbook written by a friend of mine or trying to impress everyone with a “first look” or even trying to ramp up “numbers” for a group or a page. That’s what I love about my COOKBOOK CORNER. It’s a place where I can share what I love – or what I’m currently loving – with all of you – my readers! So let’s restart things here a bit and dive into…

Sarabeth's Good Morning Cookbook Blaise the Baker Cookbook Corner

“Sarabeth’s Good Morning Cookbook” By: Sarabeth Levine

You may recognize Sarabeth’s name from a variety of sources. She is the founder of “Sarabeth’s” restaurants and bakeries. She also has an award-winning line of spreadable fruits and specially food products sold nationwide – and abroad. She’s also the author (along with Rick Rodgers), of the highly acclaimed and successful cookbook “Sarabeth’s Bakery: From My Hand to Yours”. She’s also earned the James Beard Award for “Outstanding Pastry Chef”. Impressive right!? Perhaps that’s where her name is ringing a bell with you. She’s also been featured in a variety of publications.

I remember picking up her first cookbook at my local library and admiring the cover. Simple and classic. I know – don’t judge a book by its cover – but realistically we all do it. I opened the book, flipped over it, and decided to check it out.

Eventually I brought the book back – about 2 months late (no judging) and decided I would purchase a copy. Yes, I fell behind in returning the book – but I was an employee at the Library so I had extra benefits. Onto the book…
I baked my way through most of the recipes and was highly impressed. And not just with the recipes, but when Sarabeth’s way of conveying the recipes and stories to you. I absolutely loved it…

And now, I can say…I feel almost the exact same way with this one – her newest cookbook.

Why almost!? Well, I have to confess – I like this book better. Why? I love breakfast…and I got that love from my Grandpa Max.

He loved breakfast, but hated the early hours that came with it. So what did he do!? Had breakfast for dinner most times – and he loved experiencing and finding new recipes. His love for breakfast rubbed off on me because I too, love the first meal of the day and all that comes with it.

If you love breakfast (or brunch) or even having breakfast for dinner – this book is for you! I highly recommend you stop reading – and order it NOW! But – please feel free to continue – because I’m about to tell you about one of the greatest breakfast books that I’ve ever come across…

The book is big in size – and big in flavor. The recipes are big and bold in flavor, and the photographs are beautifully done and polished.

This book is divided into twelve “chapters”, each one bursting with even more flavor and recipes than the one before it. There’s also a lovely “introduction” and a very informative section called “Sarabeth’s Pantry”. The chapters are…

Fruity Beginnings / Whole Grains / Pancakes, Flaps and Blintzes / Waffles and French Toast / Muffins, Scones and Cakes / Breads and Yeasted Treats / Sauces, Spreads, Preserves and Pickles / Eggs Every Way / Frittatas and Stratas / Quiches and Savory Pasties / Potatoes, Meat and Fish / Soups and Salads.

Here’s a quick glimpse into just some of the delicious recipes that fill this book…

“”Morning Fruit Bowl” (page 10), “Pear, Ginger and Yogurt Parfaits” (page 17), Vanilla Bean Lemonade” (page 19), “Slow-Cooked Steel Cut Oats” (page 29), “Creamy Wheat Cereal” (page 33), “Creamy Polenta with Peaches and Chestnut Honey” (page 36), “Milk Toasts: Comfort in a Bowl” (which brings back memories to me because my Grandpa Max enjoyed a similar concept – page 37), “Granola Bars” (page 40), “Morning Cookies” (page 43), Classic Buttermilk Pancakes” (page 57), “Corn Pancakes” (page 61), “Souffléd Lemon-Ricotta Pancakes” (page 64), “Cheese Blintzes” (page 69), “Buttermilk Waffles with Fresh Berries and Cream” (page 81), “Gingerbread-Coffee Waffles” (SO delicious and page 83), “Fat-and-Fluffy French Toast” (the best recipe I’ve found for French Toast and page 91), “Poppy Seed Muffins” (page 105), “Apple-Hazelnut Muffins” (page 110), “Cranberry Cream Scones” (page 113), “Water Mill Biscuits” (page 118), “Lemon Yogurt Bundt Cake” (AMAZING and page 125), “Apple Custard Cake” (page 130), “Sarabeth’s House Bread” (page 140), “Popovers” (page 150), “Honey-Pecan Sticky Buns” (page 159), “Raspberry Maple Syrup” (page 167), “Strawberry Jam” (page 178), “Chunky Apple Butter” (page 181), “Deviled Egg Salad” (page 190), “Ultimate Scrambled Eggs” (page 195), “The Red Omelet” (page 202), “Shrimp and Tarragon Frittata” (page 212), “Vegetable Ricotta Frittata” (page 214), “Heirloom Tomato Crostata” (page 226), “Spinach-Gruyere Quiche” (page 233), “Potato Cake” (page 244), “Apple-Sausage Crumble” (page 248), “Roasted Chicken and Fennel Patties” (page 250), “Crunchy Crab Cakes with Tartar Sauce” (A personal favorite and page 257), “Velvety Cream of Tomato Soup” (page 266), “Buttermilk Dressing” (page 271) and “Cucumber and Tomato Salad with Honey-Grapefruit Vinaigrette” (page 273).

How amazing do those recipes sound!? And let me tell you – that’s only the tip of the iceberg… Fabulous, full of flavor recipes really fill out this book beautifully.

I highly recommend you buy this book, here…

http://www.amazon.com/Sarabeths-Good-Morning-Cookbook-Breakfast/dp/0847846385

Have a cookbook you would recommend or like to me take a look at!? Email me – blaisethebaker@gmail.com

The personal views and reviews of this blog are mine and mine alone. Any opinion or thought expressed are strictly my own. Shout out and special thanks to Sarabeth Levine for this opportunity. More information can be found by emailing me your questions.

Blaise

Very Fond of Food GIVEAWAY Winner

THANK YOU to everyone who entered my “Very Fond of Food” GIVEAWAY! There were hundreds of entries, but only one winner could be picked…

The winner is… (drum roll, please)

Pam Schraeder Capone!!!

Congratulations! I’ll be emailing you shortly…

For those who didn’t win – STAY TUNED for more giveaways in the future!

Blaise

Chew This – Mrs. Byrd Winters’ Yellow Angel Food Cake with Bitter Sweet Icing AND Jell-O Red Velvet Cupcakes

I’m so excited to be sharing this “Chew This” column with everyone! This one was a labor of love that involved quite a few people, and several recipes (that I narrowed down) and honestly – it was such a fun experience! Special thanks and shout out to Patricia McDaniel, Lisa Perry, Donna Cronk and, in passing, Charlene Perry and Catherine Winters. We may never know what happened to Catherine, but we do have some inspiring recipes.

The angel food cake with bitter sweet icing (original spelling) was a huge hit – as was my Jell-O red velvet cupcakes (which have appeared here before – but with different frosting). Such an interesting history presented itself with this column… And last but not least, thank you to YOU (the reader). Without you – I wouldn’t be able to do any of this…and words can’t describe how much you all mean to me.

Thank you xo

Blaise the Baker Chew This Angel Food Cake and Red Velvet Cupcakes

Mrs. Byrd Winters’ Yellow Angel Food Cake with Bitter Sweet Icing AND Jell-O Red Velvet Cupcakes

http://www.thecouriertimes.com/neighbors/article_40b907d8-5be3-11e5-92ee-f3cdaaeb29dd.html

Drop me an email and let me know what you think! blaisethebaker@gmail.com

Enjoy!

PIN IT: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/570901690242742145/

Very Fond of Food GIVEAWAY

I LOVE Sophie Dahl, her cookbooks and website (http://www.sophiedahl.com/) and if you haven’t read her book “The Man with the Dancing Eyes”, do so! I highly recommend it. If her name sounds familiar, it’s because her grandfather is the famous writer, Roald Dahl. She’s lived a fascinating life.

Her book “Very Fond of Food” is fabulous…and I want to share it with all of you!

Very Fond of Food Blaise the Baker Giveaway

How do you enter to win!?

Click on the link that reads “A Rafflecopter Giveaway”…

a Rafflecopter giveaway
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Good luck! If you have any questions – email me at blaisethebaker@gmail.com

UPDATE: (09/22/2015) The giveaway is now closed. THANK YOU to everyone that participated! A winner will be announced shortly! Watch your emails…

-Blaise