Monday, July 27, 2009

I Can't Make Marshmellows

The July Daring Bakers' challenge was hosted by Nicole at Sweet Tooth. She chose Chocolate Covered Marshmallow Cookies and Milan Cookies from pastry chef Gale Gand of the Food Network.

After that intro, you may be wondering why I don't have a mouth-watering picture of chocolate-dipped marshmallow cookies. Or perhaps you were expecting crispy delicate Milanos. The answer is quite simple ... there aren't any.

How exactly did this experiment go down? I decided to go for the harder, more interesting, cookie: the mallows.

I knew things were going awry when I couldn't roll the dough to 1/8 inch. It was warm here, and the dough started to melt. I did improvise my way out of the mess by rolling the sticky dough into logs, freezing and then cutting off thin slices. I have to admit that I was a little puzzled as to how a recipe for approximately two dozen cookies yielded over 100, but I decided to push onward.

The marshmallows. Geez, from reviewing the posted pictures, I must be the only Daring Baker that can't make marshmallows, but there is absolutely no doubt that mine were a failure. When I attempted to mix the hot sugar syrup with softly whipped egg whites, the whole thing immediately deflated, leaving me with a sticky, sugary, egg white mess. This went the only place it could, down the drain.

I debated dipping my tiny, naked cookies in chocolate, but at this point I was batting so low, I thought I probably shouldn't waste the chocolate.

Not every daring challenge can be a success. Maybe next time!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Easy Summer Salad - Peaches, Almonds and Brown Rice

Inspired by the recent Mark Bittman article 101 Simple Salads for the Season, today I invented a summer salad of my own. While I can't remember every combination in Bittman's long list, I'm pretty sure that this combination is original.

Like most experimental successes, this one sprang from a combination of desperation and what meager ingredients I had in the fridge.

Desperation: What to give a two year old for lunch? I know it is a healthy meal, but as a responsible parent, I don't think I should give my son whole wheat penne mixed with chopped tomato and drizzled with olive oil for the 100th time in a row. I'll do rice instead. Now I just need to add something fresh.

What's in the fridge? Peaches from the farmer's market. Hmmm, peaches and rice sound a little weird, but here we go!

By the way, this salad is so easy to make, that I'd recommend waiting to prep the fruit and vegetables until after the rice has cooked. From that point, it should take about 10 minutes.

Peach, Almond and Brown Basmati Rice Salad

  • 1 c. brown basmati rice
  • 2 c. + 2 Tbs. water
  • handful beet greens or other dark greens, washed and thinly sliced
  • 2 spring onions or scallions, washed and thinly sliced
  • handful almonds, toasted in a pan on low heat for a few minutes, then coarsely chopped
  • 2 peaches, diced
  • salt, pepper, white wine vinegar and olive oil, to taste
Bring water to a boil in a small saucepan, add the rice, then cover and reduce the heat to low. Cook for 45 minutes. Turn off the heat and let the rice stand, covered, while you prepare the fruit and vegetables.

Put the sliced greens and onions into the rice pan and re-cover for a few minutes so they wilt.

Add the peaches and almonds to the rice. Drizzle with vinegar and olive oil to taste, then check for salt and pepper.