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March 2010 Daring Bakers' Challenge: Orange Tian

The 2010 March Daring Baker’s challenge was hosted by Jennifer of Chocolate Shavings. She chose Orange Tian as the challenge for this month, a dessert based on a recipe from Alain Ducasse’s Cooking School in Paris.

I made a Blood Orange and Pink Navel Tian.  I included the recipe for the caramel; however my caramel did not come out.  I made two batches and I was not satisfied with it's flavor or texture so I omitted it from this dessert.  In the end the winner was the homemade blood orange pink navel marmalade.  I am already planning other savory uses for this tasty treat.  Overall this was a good challenge. However, I was  disappointed in my caramel.

Pate Sablee:
  • 2 medium-sized egg yolks at room temperature
  • 6 Tbsp + 1 tsp granulated sugar
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • ¼ cup + 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, ice cold
  • 1/3 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
Put the flour, baking powder, ice cold cubed butter and salt in a flat bottom bowl and blend together with a pastry blender.

After it is well blended take bowl and stick it in the freezer for 5 minutes.  In a separate bowl, add the eggs yolks, vanilla extract and sugar and beat with a whisk until the mixture is pale.  Add to flour mixture and blend together with the pastry blender.  If the dough does not come together add some water to it.  Get the dough to form a loose ball and cover in plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator for an hour.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Roll out the dough onto a lightly floured surface until you obtain a ¼ inch thick circle.  Using your cookie cutter, cut out circles of dough and place on a parchment (or silicone) lined baking sheet.

Bake for 20 minutes or until the circles of dough are just golden.

  • ¼ freshly pressed blood orange
  • 1 small blood orange, sliced thinly
  • 1 small pink navel orange, sliced thinly
  • 5 grams pectin
  • ½ cup sugar

Place the sliced oranges in a sauce pot and cover them with water.  Bring water to a simmer and simmer for 10 minutes.

Drain the oranges and fill the pot back up with water. Simmer for another 10 minutes, and repeat this process one more time.

Drain and cool the orange slices.  Once they are cool chop them up and put them in a pot with the blood orange juice, pectin, and sugar.  Bring to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes then transfer to a storage container.  Cool and then refrigerate.

Orange Segments:
For this step you will need 8 oranges.  Cut the oranges into segments over a shallow bowl and make sure to keep the juice. Add the segments to the bowl with the juice.

  • 1 Cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 Cups + 2 Tbsp orange juice

Put sugar in a medium size sauce pan over a medium flame.  Heat the sugar till it starts to bubble.  Slowly add the orange juice and remove from the heat once the mixture boils.  Poor half of the caramel mixture over the orange segments and reserve the other half for service. (please note I had trouble following this caramel recipe, and I did not use the caramel in my dessert

Whipped Cream:
  • 1 Cup heavy whipping cream
  • 3 tablespoons of hot water
  • 1 tsp Gelatine
  • 1 Tbsp confectioner's sugar
  • orange marmalade (see recipe above) 1 Tbsp

In a small bowl, add the gelatine and hot water, stirring well until the gelatine dissolves. Let the gelatine cool to room temperature while you make the whipped cream. Combine the cream in a chilled mixing bowl. Whip the cream using a hand mixer on low speed until the cream starts to thicken for about one minute. Add the confectioner sugar. Increase the speed to medium-high. Whip the cream until the beaters leave visible (but not lasting) trails in the cream, then add the cooled gelatine slowly while beating continuously. Continue whipping until the cream is light and fluffy and forms soft peaks. Transfer the whipped cream to a bowl and fold in the orange marmalade.

Assembling the Dessert:
Make sure you have some room in your freezer. Ideally, you should be able to fit a small baking sheet or tray of desserts to set in the freezer.  Line a small tray or baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone sheet. Lay out 6 cookie cutters onto the parchment paper/silicone.

Drain the orange segments on a kitchen towel.  Have the marmalade, whipped cream and baked circles of dough ready to use.

Arrange the orange segments at the bottom of each cookie cutter. Make sure the segments all touch either and that there are no gaps. Make sure they fit snuggly and look pretty as they will end up being the top of the dessert. Arrange them as you would sliced apples when making an apple tart.

Once you have neatly arranged one layer of orange segments at the bottom of each cookie cutter, add a couple spoonfuls of whipped cream and gently spread it so that it fills the cookie cutter in an even layer.

Using a butter knife or small spoon, spread a small even layer of orange marmalade on each circle of dough.  Carefully place a circle of dough over each ring (the side of dough covered in marmalade should be the side touching the whipping cream). Gently press on the circle of dough to make sure the dessert is compact.   Place the desserts to set in the freezer to set for 10 minutes.

Using a small knife, gently go around the edges of the cookie cutter to make sure the dessert will be easy to unmold. Gently place your serving plate on top of a dessert (on top of the circle of dough) and turn the plate over. Gently remove the cookie cutter, add a spoonful of caramel sauce and serve immediately. (please note I did not use the caramel in my Orange Tian.


Potato Pancakes (Latkes)

Every time my dad goes to Chicago to visit his family he always comes home with Kielbasa Czosnkowa Sausage (Polish Sausage).  This sausage has always been such a treat to me.  I decided to barbeque one link and serve it with some tasty potato pancakes (Latkes).  These Latkes are so nice because they can be made in advance and reheated in the oven.  They make a great appetizer or a side dish to so many meals.  Enjoy!


  • 2 large Russet potato, peeled
  • 1 large, or two small onions, chopped
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 2 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
  • 2 Tbsp vegetable oil

Grate potatoes and place them in a dish cloth or some cheese cloth.  Squeeze all the moisture out of the potatoes over the sink.

Put grated potatoes in a bowl along with the egg, onion, garlic, flour, salt and pepper.

Heat a skillet with the vegetable oil over medium heat.  While the skillet heats up make your Latkes.  You can use a ice cream scoop to get uniform style pancakes or just eyeball it, should make 8-10 pancakes.

Fry Latkes for about 4 minutes aside till they are golden brown.

This can be done in batches and stored in a warm oven before serving.


Reuben Sandwiches

After making a 3lb Corned Beef for St. Patty's Day I had plenty of leftovers.  Making Reuben Sandwiches with the leftovers seemed like the logical next step.  What makes a Reuben?  To me it's a fancy grilled cheese sandwich.  There are few key things you need, mostly some good rye bread, corned beef, Swiss cheese, sauerkraut, and a Russian dressing.  So I'm not here to show you all how to make grilled cheese, more so to show that making your own dressing can bring a bright flavor to an otherwise simple dish.

My recipe for Russian (thousand Island) dressing is fabulously delicious. This dressing is so easy to make at home with things commonly found in most pantry's.  I highly recommend using this dressing the next time you barbecue shrimp, or even over a nice green salad.  Save yourself some bucks, and make your own dressing, it literally takes minutes, and you can make as little or as much as you need.  My next goal is to make my own mayonnaise to make rĂ©moulade .  Fun times!

Reuben Sandwiches Ingredients:

  • 4 slices of rye bread
  • unsalted butter, softened
  • Swiss cheese, sliced- I used about 4 slices per sandwich
  • Corned Beef, sliced thinly- Enough to make two sandwiches, I eyeballed it.
  • 3/4 cup sauerkraut, well drained
  • ¼ cup onion, diced
  • 2 tsp olive oil
Russian Dressing Ingredients:
  • 3 Tbsp Mayonnaise
  • 2 tsp white wine vinegar
  • 2 tsp sweet pickle relish
  • 2 Tbsp Ketchup
  • 1/2 tsp horseradish
  • kosher salt and freshly grated pepper to taste

In a small bowl mix together mayonnaise, vinegar, pickle relish, ketchup, and horseradish. Salt pepper to taste.  Store Russian dressing in the refrigerator till you are ready to assemble the sandwiches, can be stored for two days.

Heat a small sauce pan over medium heat, and olive and saute onions till they are soft and sweet.  Sprinkle them with a little kosher salt to help the process along.

After they are soft, add the drained sauerkraut and heat up.  Add freshly grated pepper to taste and set aside (keep over very low heat while you prepare the sandwiches).

Heat a sauce pan over medium heat.  Butter the outside of each slice off bread.  Place cheese on one of the non buttered sides, and then top with corned beef, and then put another slice of bread to finish the sandwich.

Grill the sandwiches till they are golden brown on both sides and the cheese has melted.

After the sandwiches are golden brown, take them out of the pan and open them up and add the sauerkraut and Russian dressing.  Close the sandwich back up, cut in half and server.  Enjoy!


Corned Beef and Cabbage

Growing up, Corned Beef and Cabbage was something I never looked forward to eating.  To this day I won't eat boiled cabbage, I mean if I am someones guest I will be polite and try to find the smallest piece to put on my plate.  My mom often made sauteed cabbage, we would eat it with polish sausage.  I could deal with cabbage cooked this way and in fact I actually enjoyed it.  The flavor of the browned cabbage with the onions and garlic is just so yummy.  This is one of those dishes that tastes better the next day.  So it sure comes in handy if you need to make dinner ahead of time. 

After doing some research I decided to bake my Corned Beef.  I really liked this recipe here and I decided to simplify it.  Boiling just did not sound good to me so I skipped that part, and I had some yummy apricot jam in my refrigerator so I decided to use that as well.  This is one of those days, I looked in my pantry..  Went to the store and picked up a Corned Beef and a head of Cabbage.  Everything else was on hand.  My $10.00 Corned Beef and Cabbage was born, and it was delicious. 

Corned Beef Ingredients:
  • 3-4 pound Corned Beef
  • 1/4 cup Dijon mustard
  • 2 Tbsp apricot jam
  • 2 Tbsp brown sugar
Sauteed Cabbage Ingredients:
  • ½ head of green cabbage, sliced
  • 1 yellow onion, sliced
  • 3 gloves of garlic, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly grated pepper
  • 1 Tbsp flour
Corned Beef Method:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Set one rack in the middle and the other under the broiler.  Mix together the Dijon mustard and apricot jam.  Set corned beef fat side up on a large piece of heavy duty foil.  Spread all but 2 Tbsp of  the mustard and jam mixture.  Sprinkle the top of the roast with the brown sugar.

Take another piece of foil and place it over the top of roast creating a pouch over the top.  Make sure the foil pouch is set up to catch the juices and not leak them while the corned beef bakes.  I ran out of heavy duty foil so I had to use regular foil and double it up, my foil package is a little sloppy ;)

Place corned beef in a shallow roasting pan and bake for 2 hours.

After the two hours is up, take corned beef out of the foil, spread the remaining jam and mustard over the top and broil for three minutes.  Let the roast rest for 10 minutes before slicing and serving.  Serves 4-6 people.

Sauteed Cabbage Method:

In a large skillet heat olive oil over medium heat.  Add onions and garlic; dust them with some kosher salt to help them cook down.  Cook them for about 5 minutes then add the cabbage, stir every couple of minutes.  Don't over mix it though, you want the cabbage to get browned in the bottom of the saute pan.  If you don't see brown bits at the bottom of the pan you are stirring it to much.

The cabbage will begin to soften and cook down after about 15-20 minutes. Add the flour, cook for another 3 minutes.  Taste and season with salt and pepper. Serves 3 people.  This recipe can be doubled to feed 6.


Daring Cooks Challeng March 2010: Risotto

The 2010 March Daring Cooks challenge was hosted by Eleanor of MelbournefoodGeek and Jess of Jessthebaker. They chose to challenge Daring Cooks to make risotto. The various components of their challenge recipe are based on input from the Australian Masterchef cookbook and the cookbook Moorish by Greg Malouf.

This months Daring Cooks' challenge was Risotto.  We were given lots of creativity in making this recipe.  The two mandatory items were making the stock from scratch, and risotto base.

I really enjoyed this challenge because I have been wanting to post a "how to make stock recipe" for some time.   I decided to go with a shellfish stock.  I am in the process of becoming a stock making master thanks to my Thomas Keller book.  His method of ladling the stock out of the pot into the cheese cloth vs dumping it all out into your colander yields such a beautifully clear stock.  No clouds for me!  A couple of quick tips for making stock, always roast your vegetables and bones before you make stock.  Never boil stock, or stir it.  Bring it to a nice simmer, 180-200 degrees.  On a side note, I freeze my bones and shells pretty much year round.  When I have enough bones I whip up stock and freeze it.  It comes in so handy, it's a really valuable and easy skill to have under your belt.

Trying to come up with an idea for risotto was harder than I thought.  I decided to make my base with  a Mirepoix, olive oil, and white wine.  After cooking the rice I mixed in cream, Fontina, and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.  I gave it a quick taste and added the salt and pepper, chives and lastly the crab.  The end result was like grown up mac and cheese, it tasted great, but in no way shape or form is this recipe good on your waste line.  Thanks for this challenge, fun times.   

Shellfish Stock Ingredients:
  • 6-8 cups shellfish shells (crab, lobster, shrimp)
  • 2 carrots, chopped in thirds
  • 1 large onion, quartered
  • 1 celery heart, chopped in half
  • olive oil
  • 1 cup fresh parsley with stems attached
  • 6 sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 Tbsp tomato paste
  • ½ dry white wine
  • kosher salt
  • 15 pepper corns
  • cheese cloth
Risotto Ingredients:
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • ¼ scant cup carrot, finely chopped
  • ¼ scant cup celery, finely chopped
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • ¼ cup dry white wine
  • 1 ½ cups Arborio rice
  • 4-5 cups shellfish stock, heated
  • 1/2 cup cream (next time I make this I will only use a ¼ cup)
  • 1 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • 1 cup grated Fontina cheese
  • 1 Tbsp chopped chives, plus extra for garnish
  • 1-1/2 cups fresh crab meat, shredded
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
Shellfish Stock Method:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Place quartered onion and carrots in a baking dish and lightly coat with olive oil.  Roast the vegetables for about 20 minutes, then take them out and flip them and roast them for another 20 minutes.  In the meantime break up shellfish shells and place them on a cookie sheet.  After the vegetables are done roasting, roast the shells for 7-10 minutes at the same temperature.

Take a large heavy bottom stock pot and place the shells in it, fill stock pot with water.  The water should go about an inch and a half over the top of the shells.  Heat the stock pot over medium heat.  The stock should always simmer between 180-200 degrees.  Do not stir the shells, just wait for them to release small foam bubbles (impurities). 

While you are waiting for the stock to come up to temperature  take a large piece of cheese cloth and make an herb pouch.  Put the parsley, thyme and bay-leaf inside the cheese cloth bouquet.  

Remove the foam with a slotted spoon and slowly add the roasted vegetables to the stock pot.  Try not to move the shells around.  Add the roasted vegetables, celery, herb bouquet, pepper corns, tomato paste.   DO NOT MIX STOCK.

Bring the stock back up to temperature add the white wine and simmer for 45 minutes to no longer than an hour.  Taste stock, add salt if needed.

Line a colander with cheese cloth.  Do not dump the stock onto the colander.  Using a ladle slowly ladle the stock into the colander, try not to disturb the shells.  This takes longer but it will yield a much clearer stock.  After you are finished make and ice bath for the stock, once it is cooled refrigerate it for up to 3 days, freeze for 3 months.

Risotto Method:

Heat a sauce pan over medium to low heat, add the oil.  Add the onion, carrot and celery to pan and cook for a few minutes till it is tender. 

Add the rice and stir it around, to toast it evenly.  Pour in the wine and let it evaporate.

Add about a cup of stock stir constantly till it is absorbed.

Add another cup and repeat till the Risotto is soft and creamy (the rice will no longer be hard to bite).

When the Risotto is soft, mix in the cream, cracked pepper and add the cheese.

Taste for salt.  Add the chopped chives and right lastly mix in the crab.

Serve in a small bowl or dish and garnish with chives, and a nice glass of wine.  Enjoy

If you have left over Risotto you can make fried Risotto patties the next day.  For each cup of left over Risotto add one egg and a half of cup of dried bread crumbs.  I formed mine in to little patties and put a little cube of mozzarella cheese in the middle of each one.  Fry them in a 1/4 cup of oil about three minutes per side and enjoy!


Tuna Melts

I have this sourdough starter living in my refrigerator, and I try to make fresh sourdough bread with it about twice a month.  Trying to master sourdough bread is time consuming, but I hope eventually it pays off.  So, this morning I really wanted to make some bread, and work on my sourdough recipe.  The only problem I had was I needed something to do with the bread.  Normally I bake little baguettes and make appetizers with smoked salmon, Mascarpone cheese, and lemon peel.  I don't see any parties in the immediate future so I had to come up with something else.  Tuna melts just popped into my head.  So, here we are tuna melts with fresh sourdough bread for dinner.  Sounds pretty good eh?

This tuna recipe is a combination of my Grandmother Kalivoda's recipe, and my Mother's.  I really don't have their recipes I just remember how small my Grandmother chopped her celery and onions, and mostly I remember how my Mom's tuna was never chock full of mayo like so many tunas can be.  I make my tuna melts as an open face sandwich.  First I broil the bread, then pile it high with tuna salad and top it with cheese, then I plop it back under the broiler till it is golden brown.  Sometimes I will move the tray in the lower part of the oven after the cheese has browned to ensure the entire sandwich is heated.  When it comes to the cheese I usually try to use the cheese I currently have in my pantry.  Today I will be using Fontina cheese, you can easily use many different types of cheese.

  • ¼ cup yellow onion, diced
  • ¼ cup celery, diced
  • 1 Tbsp fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped
  • 1 tsp fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1/8 tsp black pepper
  • 3 5-ounce cans solid white tuna, drained and flaked
  • 1/4-1/3 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 cup Grated Fontina cheese
  • 8 slices of sourdough bread, 1/2-3/4 inch thick

Position one oven rack underneath broiler, and the other in the middle of oven.  Turn broiler on.  In a bowl mix together onion, celery, parsley, lemon juice, mustard, pepper, tuna and mayonnaise.

Toast bread slices underneath the broiler for about 2-3 minutes.  Remove them and let them cool for a minute.  Divide the tuna salad up into 8 portions and spread evenly over each slice of bread.  Top each slice of bread with cheese, 1/8 cup per toast.

Put tuna melts under the broiler for 2 minutes, then move them to the middle of rack for 2 minutes, then put them back under the broiler till they are toasted and browned.  Serves 4 people.


Amy's Chicken Marsala

Hey Guys!  Well, after this months Daring Bakers' challenge I had a few items in my pantry to put to use.  Hrmm.. Marsala wine and homemade Mascarpone cheese.. The first thing that popped into mind was Chicken Marsala, but instead of finishing it with cream I decided to use my Mascarpone cheese.  This was truly a very special dinner, that was not that hard to make.  If you are having company, and you want to impress your guests, but not kill yourself making dinner this dish is for you. 


  • 4 chicken breasts, boneless and skinless
  • ½ cup all purpose flour
  • ¼ tsp kosher salt
  • ¼ tsp freshly grated black pepper
  • ¼ tsp dried oregano
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 garlic glove, finely chopped
  • 2 shallots, finely chopped
  • 8 ounces crimini mushrooms
  • ½ cup Marsala wine
  • ¼ cup chicken stock
  • 2 Tbsp Mascarpone cheese
  • 1 Tbsp fresh lemon jucie
  • fresh flat leaf parsley to garnish


Take two large piece of plastic wrap and place the chicken breasts in the middle.  Using a rolling pin or a meat mallet pound the chicken out to about 1/8 of an inch think.  Be careful not to pound the chicken too hard or you will tear it.

Heat a stainless steal sauce pan over medium heat, add oil.  Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

Combine flour, salt, pepper and oregano on a large plate for dredging the chicken.  Take each piece of chicken and cover it in the flour mixture.  Only coat the pieces that you can fit on your skillet.  Work in batches if you need to, don't over crowd your meat.

Cook chicken about 4-6 minutes aside and then transfer to a plate in the oven.

After you cook all the chicken add shallot, garlic, and mushrooms to skillet.

Cook them down over low to medium heat.  Don't get your pan too hot.  After they are nice and tender add the wine and chicken stock.  Bring sauce to a simmer over medium heat and cook down by half.

After the sauce has cooked down turn the heat down to low and add the Mascarpone cheese, mix well and add the lemon.  Taste sauce for season, add salt and pepper as you see fit.  Now it's important that you do not simmer the sauce after you add the Mascarpone cheese, if you do your sauce will break.  If you look closely at mine, you will see I made this mistake.  Still tasted fabulous just not good technique.

Serve each breast with a nice portion of the Marsala mushroom sauce, enjoy!