Thursday, September 15, 2011

Daring Cooks' Spinach Bisque and Bread Sticks

Recently, I decided to join the cooking and baking phenomenon called the Daring Kitchen. The Daring Kitchen hosts challenges to members asking them to cook and/or bake a specific item every month. Peta, of the blog Peta Eats, was our lovely hostess for the Daring Cook’s September 2011 challenge, “Stock to Soup to Consommé”. We were taught the meaning between the three dishes, how to make a crystal clear Consommé if we so chose to do so, and encouraged to share our own delicious soup recipes! The challenge this month required us all Daring Cooks to make stock and turn it into their favorite soup along with an accompaniment.

A favorite soup recipe of mine comes from the blog Naturally Ella. The soup, spinach bisque, is considerably easy to make and has few ingredients. This time, I substituted half and half with regular milk and used mozzarella cheese as my choice of cheese. The best thing to boot about this soup is the flavorful aroma that comes from frying the diced onion in butter. It is mouthwatering. The only thing I would change from this recipe would be to decrease the amount of spinach used; too much spinach can make the soup hard to swallow.

I decided to make garlic knots as an accompaniment to the soup but mid-recipe, I changed track. Instead, I just made made round loaf herb bread sliced into long sticks.You can find the recipe below.

The white chicken stock I made turned out to be very flavorful, which contributed to the delicious soup's flavor and aroma.

Waiting for the dough to rise..
In all though, I was pleased with my results, especially with the tangy, flavorful soup. I would recommend this soup to be made for any occasion, over and over again. So, make sure to try it out folks! Best of luck,


Herb Bread

1 3/4 c (415ml) Warm Water (@115°F)
1/4 c (55g) Olive Oil
1 t (5g) Sea Salt
1 T (15g) Sugar
1 1/2 T (20g) Active Dry Yeast
approx. 5 1/2 c (750 g) all-pupose, unbleached Flour
Herbs of your choice to add to dough
1. Dissolve yeast in warm water.
2. Combine olive oil, sea salt, sugar, and flour in seperate mixer or bowl.
3. Mix to incorporate flour and add dissolved yeast and herbs. Cover with a thin wet cloth and set in a warm spot to proof until doubled in volume (usually 1-3 hrs depending on initial water temp and warmth of proofing area).
4. Chill the dough for a bit (will keep fine in fridge for several days if you want to make the dough ahead of time) to make it easier to handle (this can be skipped if you don’t have the time). At this point, you can either oil and flour your hands and shape the dough into two round loaves or make a rectangular shape and slice dough into strips to make authentic bread sticks. Put container of flour within easy reach. Line several sheet pans with parchment paper or foil to place bread sticks or loaves on.
5. Sprinkle dough strips and board with flour. Flour is your friend to help keep the dough from sticking to itself.
6. After each sheet pan fills up, cover with a dry sack towel, and place in a warm, draft-free spot to rise. The loaves will double in size and may end up touching each other if on the same pan. If this does happen, don't fear because the loaves will still look beautiful when they have been cut. Preheat oven to 400° F
7. After dough has doubled in size, take off dry sack towel and place sheet pans in the oven.  Bake for approx. 12-15 min. for sticks or until golden.
8. After removing bread from oven, season with sea salt to taste.

Best served warm, but still good when at room temp.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Pâte à Choux Swans

Crispy outside, sweet creamy inside. The description of a fresh cream puff. Yummyy.

This is Mehwish again, back with a recipe for a light, fun dessert.

Making cream puffs is a very enjoyable (and rewarding!) experience. This time when I ventured into the kitchen with cream puffs in mind, I decided to change it up a bit.

 Instead of making the regular round cream puffs filled with cream, I made: pâte à choux swans.

That sounds so much better than swan cream puffs ;)

Anyways, on to the recipe! These swans are NOT very difficult to make. And they taste amazing. Especially if you behead them first, then devour the wings and proceed on to the rest of the body (I don't sound like an ex-vegetarian at all, do I?).


I really recommend you try this recipe. You will thank me, I'm sure.

Pâte à choux swans

1 cup water
1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
pinch of salt
1 cup all-purpose flour
4 eggs
sweetened cream

In a heavy saucepan over medium heat, bring the water, butter and salt to a boil. 

Add flour all at once; stir until a smooth ball forms. Remove from the heat; let stand for 5 minutes. 

Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat until smooth and shiny.

Cut a small hole in the corner of pastry bag or heavy-duty resealable plastic bag; insert round pastry tip (small to medium size). Fill bag with batter. On a greased baking sheet, pipe 3 dozen 2-in.-long "S" shapes for the swan necks, making a small dollop at the end of each for the head. Bake at 400° for 5-8 minutes or until golden brown. Remove to wire racks to cool.

For swan bodies, use star tip to pipe 36 tear-shapes, 1-inch apart onto greased baking sheets. Bake at 400° for 30-35 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on wire racks.

Meanwhile, prepare sweetened cream. I didn't get a chance to go grocery shopping so I used what I had at home: Cool Whip and sugar powdered in a food processor.

Cut off top third of swan bodies; set tops aside. Remove any soft dough inside. Pipe filling into puffs. Cut reserved tops in half lengthwise to form wings; set wings and necks in filling. Dust with confectioners' sugar, serve.

Makes 3 dozen swans.
© Best of Wardah. Made with love by The Dutch Lady Designs.