Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Distracted Cooks Makes Croissants!

There you have it! A tray of croissants. I never thought the day would come that The Distracted Cook would even attempt such a thing, much less actually do it. Well....

The Daring Bakers go retro this month! Thanks to one of our very talented non-blogging members, Sarah, the Daring Bakers were challenged to make Croissants using a recipe from the Queen of French Cooking, none other than Julia Child!

We were encouraged to use the original recipe, and Sarah even included a link to a video showing Julia Child making them also. I wish I could say mine turned out as lovely as I am sure Julia's were. Not even close, but they are good.

One of the fun parts of the recipe was slamming the dough down on the board about 10 times before putting it in a large bowl to rest for a while, well, actually it was three hours!

Here is the dough right before the plastic bag was placed over the bowl until the dough had tripled in size.

After taking the dough out of the bowl and pressing it into a rectangle, I folded the dough like a letter. Top third down and the bottom third up and on top. And the, back into the bowl for another rest. This resting is good - you can clean the kitchen and dream of hot flaky croissants for breakfast - or dessert if you put a square of chocolate in them.

After the dough has rested, place it in the refrigerator on a plate covered with plastic wrap. Take a stick of well chilled butter and flatten it out on the counter. Take the dough out of the refrigerator and unroll it and spread it into a 14 x 8 inch rectangle. Place the large rectangle of butter that you flattened onto the dough. Fold it into thirds as before, and then turn it 90 degrees. After you have it turned, roll it out again to the full 14 x 8 inches and folded it again, wrap it in plastic and back into the refrigerator it goes for another two hours.

After another two hours in the refrigerator, it is time to cut and shape the croissants. Cut the dough into two rectangles, placing one back in the refrigerator. Roll the remaining dough out until it is 15 x 5 inches. Cut it into thirds, which will give you three 5x5 inch squares. Place two of these squares in the refrigerator to keep cool. Cut the remaining square into two triangles. Roll one up from the long end to the point. There you have it! It's beginning to look like a croissant!

Roll, cut, and shape the rest of the dough and place on a buttered cooking sheet. Cover with plastic wrap and let it sit for an hour. In the meantime heat your over to 475 degrees . Mix an egg with one teaspoon water, and lightly brush the tops of the croissants. Put them into the preheated oven and bake for twelve to fifteen minutes. And then --- NO, let them cool on a rack! Then you get to eat them!

If you would like to try this recipe or join in the fun with the Daring Bakers, just visit The Daring Kitchen. Here you will find the recipe and pictures of some of our efforts. And you can sign up right there and join us in the Daring Kitchen for the next challenge. See you there!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The Distracted Cook and Makes Chicken Soup

It is a really good thing that The Daring Cook's challenge was to make a stock and then use it in a soup. Because shortly after The Distracted Cook started looking at recipes, the dreaded "summer cold with delightful sore throat" got me in its clutches and is still hanging around as I type this. Believing in the Old Wives' Tale that Chicken Soup cures all ills, I decided it would be Chicken Stock and Chicken Soup that I made in this challenge. I also was attempting, once again, a sourdough starter into wonderful bread recipe so that just about settled it once and for all. Chicken Stock into Chicken Soup with Sourdough Bread as an accompaniment. Good Luck!

Peta, of the blog Peta Eats, was our lovely hostess for the Daring Cook's September 2011 challenge, "Stock to Soup to Consomme". We were taught the meaning between the three dishes, how to make a crystal clear Consomme if we so chose to do so, and encouraged to share our own delicious soup recipes.

If you are reading a lot of the Daring Cook challenge blogs, you will notice that in each one we all have a particular paragraph such as that above that is the same in each blog for the month. That is what holds us all together as Daring Cooks and it is by us all using these same words that we are allowed to participate again the next time around. If YOU would like to participate with us, just visit the The Daring Kitchen and read all about what we are doing and sign up to join in the fun. I promise you will be glad you did!

I first started off the sourdough starter so that by the time the soup was ready the next day the bread would be ready to bake. Here is what the starter looked like after I fed it and let it sit on the counter for a few hours:

Having gotten that started I began the chicken stock adventure. I have always loved to make chicken stock and rather than using one of the recipes that Peta provided, I decided to use the one I usually make. First I put two pounds of chicken wings cut into pieces, along with two tablespoons of olive oil, into a roasting pan and into the hottest oven they go. Just like this;

 They will roast in there for about 45 minutes or until they are nice and brown. I scrape up all the bits and then throw a scraped and chopped carrot in with them along side half a stalk of celery, chopped, and half an onion chopped. Into that I toss  four peeled cloves of garlic.

 It all gets stirred up and then shoved back into the oven for another 20 minutes. Be careful, if your oven is one that really gets hot you might end up with bits and pieces of charcoal -- I speak from experience.

After the chicken and vegetables are done, pull the pan out and put it on top of the stove. Add six cups of cold water, bring it to a boil and then turn down to a simmer and let it cook for 30 minutes. Let it cool slightly and then strain through a fine mesh strainer. After it was strained, I poured it into a big stainless steel bowl and refrigerated it overnight, which means in the morning I could lift the fat layer off. I wish that I had taken a picture of this - it was the nicest, darkish brown stock that I have made in a long while. I usually don't bother straining it because I immediately turn it into soup. I was contemplating the Consomme challenge, but my better sense got a hold of me and I declined.

I wish I could say that I took pictures of the next steps, but I didn't do that either! About that time I started sinking into the depths of misery that a cold brings with it. The next day I did  decide rather quickly to chop 2 carrots and  2 large stalks of celery and throw them into the pot that I had poured the stock into. I removed the layer of congealed fat and thought about what to do with it, but just threw it back into the fridge until I knew what I figured it out! I added about a cup of fresh corn off the cob and a handful of lima beans from the garden to the other vegetables and let it simmer until they were tender. Then I added some chopped tarragon along with some diced cooked chicken left over from a roast the night before. And then I sat and waited until it was nice and steamy hot all the way through. And then....ahhh. There is nothing better to soothe a sore throat than Chicken Soup made from your own home made Chicken Stock. Oh yes, the bread?

I almost had a success there. It is getting better, I must admit. And the next time there is a Soup Challenge in The Daring Kitchen I will hope to have a really good loaf to go with my soup!