Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Weekend Update: Baking Bonanza!

I ended up in a serious cooking mood on Saturday when I came home from work. I ended up going by the local produce shop and 2 grocery stores to get some of the ingredients I needed and then I just went to the kitchen and got to work.

My first endeavor was chicken caprese. I cut 2 chicken breasts in half length-wise (to make them thinner - hopefully that makes sense, I'm not sure what the technical term for that is), then I dredged them in flour and pan fried them in a griddle pan. This made them nice and crispy outside but juicy inside. While the chicken was cooking, I boiled down 1/2 cup of balsamic vinegar to make a reduction. I served the chicken with the balsamic drizzled over top, sliced cherry tomatoes, torn fresh basil leaves, chunks of mozzarella cheese and corkscrew pasta. Of course I drizzled more balsamic over everything after I took the picture - I could drink that stuff. It was quite tasty if I do say so myself :)
At the same time as the chicken, I made a batch of Almond Poppy Seed Bread. We needed a nice thank you for one of our neighbors, so I figured this would be a nice treat :) And of course we got a loaf as well, so it's a win win. Delicious stuff.
Also while I was at it, I really wanted to make one of the dessert recipes we had at the Biergarten restaurant in Epcot. They serve this Berry Compote recipe in those little shot glasses and you can pour vanilla sauce on top. I just liked it plain and I've been craving it ever since. I'm seriously so glad I found the Epcot recipes on All Ears Net. I've used several of them and no joke, these are the actual recipes. I'm not sure how they get them, but they really are the real deal. This berry compote is no exception. It was fantastic - my nephew liked it so much he cried when we took it away from him, lol. For the juice, I used about 1 tbsp of orange juice and then filled the rest of the 1/2 cup with cran-apple juice. It was so good! I highly recommend it.
Monday was another day of baking. I've been wanting to make bread bowls and this soup for like 3 weeks now, so this was finally the day that it worked out. I made the French bread recipe from Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child. This stuff took all day - I started it at 10am and didn't pull it out of the oven until 7:30pm. Technically it wasn't "finished" then since Julia Child says you should let the bread sit for 2 to 3 hours before you eat it - yeah, like that happened lol. It was really good nice and hot.
I filled the bread bowls with The Pioneer Woman's Baked Potato Soup which was also delicious. It was quite the tasty evening in our house :)
Mmm.... Check out that soup action...
I also decided to try my hand at making pastry dough again. I tried about a year ago and it was a dismal failure. It was dry and didn't rise at all and I pretty much swore off making it ever again. This time I followed the directions from Julia Child and I have to say I am much more hopeful about this time around. At least it looks correct at this point:
I had intended to make a tart using the berry compote as a filling, but that didn't happen. I was afraid that my kitchen was too hot for rolling out the dough and it would ruin it. So I will be making this tart experiment sometime in the next few days :)

I also did a lot of house work and fixing things, but the cooking was a good part of my weekend :) Every time I go to Epcot, I get the bug for fancy foods for a while after. I'm sure there will be more weekend updates similar to this one in the near future!

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