A Year Later

So a whole unexpected year away.  I know where it went.  I know where I was.  I just never quite made it here.


Food Things

Daring Challenges that I did, but didn’t post about:

Daring Cooks:

Middle Eastern Breakfast (February), Spice Blends (April), Turkish Delight (May)

And in June:  I hosted a grilling challenge.  I know.  I know. I hosted a challenge and then didn’t write about it.

Grilled Panzanella, Chicken Souvlaki, and Grilled Pineapple


Daring Bakers:

Esterhazy Cake (January), Tarte Tatin (March), Lamingtons (May), Raspberry Charlotte (June)


In July, things got a little off-kilter.  Okay, so a lot off-kilter.  And I stopped cooking.  In fact.  I didn’t really cook anything different or even slightly amazing again until a few weeks ago.

Plus, my camera is very unhappy, so I haven’t really photographed much in the last six months.  Crossing my fingers to fix that one soon.

I miss cooking, and photography, and writing….

Now that these cuties …

Jake Mich Viv snow

have become these cuties…


(First day of school! First day of school!)

you’d think I’d have more time.  But not having little bit at home 24-7 anymore has been a bit of an adjustment.

Here’s hoping I’m back earlier than 356 days from now, but I’m not making any promises or resolutions again.

Daring Cooks’ Challenge: Ouefs a la Neige

I try not to make resolutions in the New Year, mostly because I always break them about thirty seconds after I make them.  I prefer goals.  Of course, I generally fall short of those, too, but it doesn’t stop me.  My goal this year is to get back on the Daring Bakers and Daring Cooks wagon.  To that end, the first challenge of the year for the Daring Cooks was given to us from Kim at Ask a Foodie.  Making sure that no matter where in the world we are, we’d have a bit of snow by making Ouefs a la Neige or Eggs in Snow.  It’s pretty similar to Floating Islands—meringues in Crème Anglaise—only the meringues in this case are poached, not baked.

Full disclosure: I don’t enjoy Crème Anglaise or any vanilla pudding-type desserts.  I turn down vanilla ice cream and milkshakes and crème brulee and even flan.  I don’t know if it’s a milk thing or a texture thing.  I suppose a combination of both.  This isn’t a dessert I’d normally make, order, or serve; however, it was fun to make, and it was certainly a challenge.

The recipes we were provided by Kim.  The crème Anglaise and poached meringues are from The Encyclopedia of Classic French Pastries by Susan Whatley, and the praline recipe was from Rachel Khoo.  Since I am not a fan of this type of dessert, I reduced the original recipe down to a third of the original.  It reduced well and was more than enough for two large servings.  I will give the full recipe ingredients list at the bottom of the post.

Apologies for the photos. Since I have been away, some things have changed, and I just have not caught up with how to share the photos between my Flickr account and WordPress.  That or I have just forgotten.  I’ll figure it out eventually.


Oefs a la Neige


Meringue Recipe

2 large egg whites, yolks reserved

Pinch of salt

¼ cup granulated sugar

7 oz. whole milk (a little less than a cup)

Whip egg whites and salt to soft peaks.

meringue 2_edited-1

Gradually add the sugar.  Increase speed to high & whip to stiff peaks.

meringue 3_edited-2

Over medium heat, bring milk to a boil in a heavy saucepan; reduce it to a simmer.

poaching meringue 1_edited-1

With two spoons, spoon the meringue in an oval shape into the simmering milk.  Poach each side between 2-3 minutes, turning once.  They puff, so don’t try more than two or three at a time.  Remove with a slotted spoon to drain on a plate.

meringue 4_edited-3

Crème Anglaise

2 large egg yolks (reserved from the meringue)

¼ cup granulated sugar

Pinch salt

1/8 tsp vanilla

Remaining warm milk from poaching egg whites

In a heavy medium sauce pan, mix yolks, sugar, salt, and vanilla together until pale yellow in color.

creme anglaise 1_edited-1

Add a small amount of the warm milk, whisking vigorously.  Slowly add the remaining milk.  Stir until thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.  Do not boil because it will curdle.  This step takes a little while, but it does get there.

Pour mixture through a strainer.  Chill custard.

creme anglaise 2_edited-2

Prailine Recipe

7 tbsp. granulated sugar

2 tbsp. less 1 tsp. water

½ cup slivered almonds

Bring water & sugar to a boil.

praline 1_edited-1

Add almonds.  Keep stirring.  When the sugar turns golden, pour mixture onto a silpat or parchment paper to cool.  Mine seized,

praline 2_edited-1

so I added more water and it looked like everything was okay…

praline 3_edited-2

until it cooled, then I had huge sugar crystals everywhere.


Delicious, but not what I wanted.

To serve, place the chilled crème anglaise in a shallow dish


and top it with the poached meringues and pralines.



Original amounts:

Yield 6 servings


6 large egg whites

Pinch salt

¾ cups sugar

2 ½ cups whole milk

Crème Anglaise:

6 large egg yolks

¾ cup sugar

1/8 tsp salt

½ tsp. vanilla

Remaining warm milk from meringue poaching


Same recipe

A Cookie is NOT a Dessert

First and foremost, let’s get one thing straight.  A cookie is not a dessert.  Yes, it’s sweet.  Yes, it’s most likely full of butter, and sugar, and maybe chocolate, and possibly even a few nuts, but if you tell me you’re bringing dessert and you hand me a cookie, I’m going to smirk at you—maybe not in your face, but most definitely in my head.  Is this polite?  Of course it isn’t.  But if you’re going to call a cookie a dessert, crumble it over some ice cream, or sandwich some ice cream between two cookies, or make one giant cookie and decorate it.  Just don’t hand me a solitary cookie and call it dessert, ‘cause, you know, I’m not three.

That said, today is National Cookie Day!  Is there a better month for cookies than December?  I think not.  Sadly, I don’t seem to have a single cookie recipe in The Pantry.  What’s up with that?  The closest I seem to come are these Chocolate Dipped Macaroons and this three year old post about cookies where I link some of the recipes below.

Here are some links to my favorite cookies– the ones I wish I could take credit for, but totally can’t– that I can’t do without over the holidays.

Original Nestle Toll House Cookies (Nestle)– for real– the BEST chocolate chip cookie recipe

Buttered Rum Meltaways (Martha Stewart)

Chewy Molasses Spice Cookies (Martha Stewart via Delish)– pictured in that old post referenced above

Pecan Bars (Martha Stewart)

Giant Sugar Cookies (Martha Stewart)

Thick, Chewy Oatmeal Raisin Cookies (Smitten Kitchen)– also in that old post

and my favorite sugar cookie for decorating:

Basic Sugar Cookie Recipe (Sugarbelle)

That particular one is a temperamental pain in the…okay, you get where I’m going here.  However, if you keep the dough chilled, roll it on the cookie sheet and just pull the excess dough away from it, life is much easier.  For me, it is the best tasting recipe I have found so far– worth the frustration.