Fearless Cook Junior Edition

‘I want to learn to cook!’ my chip off the block chirped. Okay, Kate is 22 years old, she’s cooked before. During her college days she ate dorm food, made a few recipes I handed down to her, and tested the Pinterest web recipes.

She wants to feed herself in Veterinary Medicine School for the next four years. Her challenge for the this summer is to improve on cooking techniques,learn basic recipes and try to stay within a budget. My challenge is to give direction on what I’ve learned from trial and error in the kitchen.

See how enthusiastic she is?

Jr Fearless Cook

Here are all the recipes we’ve made individually and together.

Banana Bread

Chocolate chip and Peanut butter chip Banana Bread

omelets and falafels

Omelet with Falafel

beer batter cheese skillet bread

Skillet Beer Batter Cheese Bread from Quick Family Recipes

Nutella Bread

Nutella Swirled Banana Bread

radish, cucumber and apple salad

Red radish salad

Pork chops with the Dean brothers spice rub

Pork Chops with the Dean Brothers Dry spice rub

white chicken pizza

White Chicken pizza

cherry crisp pie

Cherry pie with almond crisp topping

frozen lemon yogurt

 Lemon Frozen Yogurt

Kate’s Komments:

1. Pitting the cherries for the cherry pie crisp was fun. About 10% of the cherries still had the pits inside despite using the cherry pitter.  We found two websites on how to pit cherries without  using a pitter at Our Best Bites and Baking Bites.  The cherries splattered juice everywhere while pitting them. We had just watched Django Unchained the night before and scenes from the movie came back to haunt us!

2. The Skillet Beer Batter Cheese Bread called for Gruyère cheese which was pretty tasty, but a little pricey for someone on a budget. For a similar and cheaper substitute use Swiss Cheese.

3. Her favorite recipe was the Nutella Banana Swirl Bread. Her mistake was that she set the oven for 250 degrees, not 350 degrees. The recipe in turn took longer to complete after she discovered  that the bread was still mushy inside and then adjusted the oven temp. As a taste tester, I thought the bread was delicious and moist. I didn’t know about the temperature error until much later. Gotta check the oven!  There are chocolate hazelnut butter knock-off brands that are cheaper.  They all vary in quality, so test out what brand you like.

4. Kate said she had never eaten a Falafel before and liked them. She also said she is not a fan of radishes, but we had them growing in the garden and we had to make something! She said the radishes were good as long as they were “hidden”.

5. Pizza is always a favorite and economical to make. We made a garlic butter sauce for the base of the crust. It was yummy with mozzarella cheese, basil leaves, halved yellow cherry tomatoes, red onion and grilled chicken thigh strips.

I bought her the America’s Test Kitchen ‘Quick Family Cookbook’ to take with her this fall. She loved leafing through the recipe book. The pictures are great with many step-by-step tips and techniques to master.

My parting wisdom: you can buy the ingredients to make your favorite recipes or you can look up recipes and decide what to make based on the ingredients you already have in your pantry. The key is use your ingredients thoughtfully. Way to go Fearless cook junior!

King Oscar’s Torta

Oscar's Torta

The second annual Epiphany Party, the twelfth day of Christmas was held this past Sunday. Last year I made The Gift Cake so I thought I would continue the tradition of making a cake.

I saw the recipe for Oscar’s Torta recently published in the January 2013 edition of Martha Stewart Living magazine. This cake, with lots of hazelnuts, is named for Oscar II (1829-1907), king of Sweden and Norway.

January 2013 Living

Ingredients

Cake:

12 egg whites, room temperature

3 3/4 C powdered sugar

15 oz hazelnuts, chopped fine

1 3/4 sticks butter, plus more for pans

Glaze:

8 egg yolks

1 C cream

1 C sugar

1 tsp vanilla

1/4 tsp coarse salt

2 TBSP sliced almonds toasted,for garnish

Directions

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Butter three 9-inch round cake pans, and line bottoms with parchment; butter parchment. Separate eggs, placing 12 egg whites in 1 bowl and 8 egg yolks in another (reserve remaining 4 yolks for another use). Beat egg whites with a mixer until stiff peaks form. Gently fold in hazelnuts and confectioners’ sugar. Divide among pans, and bake until golden brown and a toothpick inserted into centers comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Let cakes cool in pans 10 minutes. Invert cakes onto wire racks, and let cool completely. (Cake layers can be made 1 day ahead, wrapped tightly in plastic wrap, and refrigerated.)

Lightly whisk egg yolks in a bowl set over a pot of simmering water. Whisk in cream, granulated sugar, and salt, whisking constantly until mixture is thickened and coats the back of a spoon. Remove from heat, and let cool in a bowl of ice water until cold (you should have 2 cups).

Melt butter (do not let it color), and add vanilla. Stir into egg-yolk mixture. Place 1 cake layer on a cake stand or serving plate, and spread with 1/2 cup glaze. Repeat with a second layer and another 1/2 cup glaze. Place third layer on top, and spread with remaining 1 1/2 cups glaze, letting it drip down sides of cake. Dust with confectioners’ sugar, and garnish with almonds. Refrigerate until ready to serve

Patty’s Points:

1. One of my friends discouraged me from making the cake due to the cost and labor intensive prep of the hazelnuts. 15 ounces of hazelnuts cost $5.50 which wasn’t too bad. The challenge was the removal of the hazelnut skins and chopping of the nuts. My daughter looked up on the internet this website on how to shell hazelnuts. Luckily I didn’t have to crack the nuts open, only remove the bitter skins.

hazelnuts

bitter skins

2. After roasting the nuts in the oven I placed them in a wet towel to steam for 2-3 minutes. I then rubbed them in a towel to remove the skins. It took me several attempts at repeating the process to get the skins removed. About a quarter of the nuts still had the skins adhered. Apparently that small amount doesn’t cause any bitterness to the entire recipe.

Chopped hazelnuts

putting it together

3.  The entire preparation of the cake and glaze took four hours, which was about the entire length of a football game.  My spouse was busy watching the Packers v. Vikings game. He was happy the Packers won. I was really tired by the time it was all completed.

Packer backer

4. The cake was a hit at the Epiphany Party. A woman who is gluten-free was excited about the cake and wanted the recipe.

5. If the recipe had some cocoa in the recipe it would replicate the flavor of Nutella, which I am a fan. Maybe next time.