Broccoli Soup

This is a soup that I haven’t made in years.

Tomorrow I am having guests for lunch and I thought this will perfect with one of my daughter’s homemade baguettes.

This recipe is from Martha Stewart’s Quick Cook book.

The color of the soup when finished screams “spring” with that gorgeous green color.

Below is a photo of the recipe. I am going to make it this evening and serve it tomorrow.

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Pulled Pork

I was at Whole Foods yesterday and they had pork shoulder on special.

I made a rub with dried oregano, salt, pepper and chili power and applied it to the pork.

I then sliced up a few cooking onions and put them on the bottom of my oval Le Creuset pot before placing the “rubbed” pork over them. Next came the barbecue sauce which I had prepared earlier (recipe is linked below). Finally a sprinkle of brown sugar and into a 300 degree oven for about six hours.

http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Texas-Barbecue-Sauce-353889

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Baguettes, Baguettes, Baguettes

Today my daughter and I made a simple version of baguettes. A true French baguette has a starter which needs to be made with yeast, flour and water a couple days ahead of time. Today’s decision to bake was last minute so we didn’t include the starter but we will include it another time and write about it then.

Here are the ingredients:

450g of warm water
30g of bakers yeast
750 grams of bread flour
15g salt
10g malt (this can be found at health food stores)
Egg wash as needed

A lot of recipes say to make a slurry with the yeast and water before adding it to the other ingredients, however professionals say that it doesn’t make a difference and to just crumble the yeast on top of the rest of the ingredients in your mixing bowl.

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Mix the ingredients in a mixing bowl for about 10 minutes on low speed with a dough hook.

Once the gluten has properly developed, the best way to tell it is developed is by doing the “windowpane test”. If the dough rips easily and is not transparent when pulled apart, it still needs to be mixed for a longer period of time.

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When it is ready, take the dough out of bowl and shape it into a ball. Try to knead it a bit while doing this, lightly dust the dough with flour and cover it with plastic wrap. Set aside for 45 minutes.

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After the dough has rested for 45 minutes, punch it down to try to remove the air bubbles and let it rest again for another 15 minutes.

At this point, split the dough into 4 equal pieces and set aside for another 10 minutes.

Roll the baguettes into their shape by first creating a “batard”:

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Once you have a “batard” continue to evenly roll it out until you get a nice baguette shape. At this point egg wash the baguettes and cover until they double in size. The will take about 35-45 minutes. You can also dust them in a nice rustic flour mix at this point, but this is very much optional. You will know if they are ready to be baked, if when you press your finger into the dough, your fingerprint stays.

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Now it’s time for the bread to go into the oven. Cut 4 or 5 slashes down the centre of baguettes and apply one last egg wash. Baguettes require steam, which can be created by preheating your oven to 500 degrees and then pouring a cup of water onto a baking tray placed on the top shelf in your oven right before the baguettes go in.

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Once the baguettes are in the oven, lower your oven to 450, the water will steam off and let the baking begin! After the first 15 minutes, switch to convection if your oven has that as an option.

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Bake until dark golden brown. Take out, cool and enjoy!!

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Chocolate Cake

Saturday is my eldest daughter’s birthday.

I am making this cake, but instead of the buttercream frosting I am going to use a salted caramel frosting.

I always like to bake the cake at least one day prior to frosting. It gives the cake ample time to cool and set up.

This seems to be the most requested birthday cake at my house these days. This will be my third time making it.

Here is the cake recipe which I have halved and works perfectly for a two layer cake. I always weigh the batter in the cake pans to make sure I have an equal amount of batter in each cake. This way your layers are consistent in size.

http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ina-garten/haydens-chocolate-cake.html

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Butternut Squash and Parsnip Soup

As the cold weather continues to linger on and on, I am making yet another soup for dinner.

I started by roasting a butternut squash and parsnips for about 40 minutes in a 400 degree oven. Prior to roasting, I drizzled the vegetables with olive oil and seasoned them with salt and pepper. When the vegetables were cool I removed the peel from the squash. I peeled the parsnips prior to roasting.

I sautéed some onion, garlic and celery in olive oil under tender to boost the flavor of the soup.

The roasted vegetables were pureed in the Vitamix with a few cups of chicken stock until smooth and then added to the pot.

I added curry powder, salt and pepper to the soup to amp up the flavor.

The soup was served with a croute (toasted bread) with melted jack cheese sprinkled on top.

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