Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Mise En Place...An Essential Technique

Okay, so I have a confession to make...sometimes in the kitchen I have been known to be...well, as my husband may put it...a tornado.  The kitchen starts out perfectly clean and inviting, but before I know it there's flour or panko crumbs all over and just about every pot, pan, cookie sheet and utensil I own is in the sink, which my husband especially appreciates on the nights it is his turn to do the dishes.

(photo courtesy of Neat Method Kitchen)
I guess I would compare it to sleepwalkers (a la Step Brothers) who innocently lay their heads down at night only to discover the next morning that they had been up causing chaos as they slept.  In the moment I don't realize that I am doing it...I'm in the zone I tell ya! (Youtube videos don't show up when reading from your phone so you can follow this link

(youtube clip courtesy of Step Brothers)

Thankfully, there's a solution to this natural disaster of a method I have and it's what the French call mise en place (pronounced meez ahn plahs), which means "putting in place".  The point is, get all your ingredients and tools together beforehand, including measuring, chopping and bringing ingredients to the right temperature, because you don't want to be searching through your cupboards mid-recipe only to discover that you don't have any sugar after all (I could have sworn I picked some up! darn it! Oh Honey, can you do me a favor?!?)

I have always loved learning new things and learning to be organized is right at the top of my bucket list of things to know.  The very first thing they teach you in culinary/pastry school is to get used to being organized because you can't survive in a kitchen without it.  Here are a few of my most recent showings of mise en place for school:

Mise en place for deliciously moist red velvet cupcakes
Mise en place for buttery Viennese Cookies
I know what you might be thinking, "what a pain in the ass...I just want to get baking!" Well, as a recovering tornado I am going to tell you, it will make the process, not to mention the clean up, much more enjoyable.  Baking can be such a relaxing and soothing process, but basically the way I have been going about it, it's like I was doing yoga to rock 'n roll!  Now, I can do my yoga to Enya just as it was intended :-P

Give it a try, if it's not for you that's okay, but if it is let me know how you like it.

As always...Happy Baking!!
Dani xoxox

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Bloglovin'...The Savior of Your Google Reader

Follow Coo Coo for Choux on Bloglovin'!!

Like so many, I was horrified at the thought of my beloved blogs being lost once Google decided to kill off the Google Reader, but Bloglovin' answered my prayers with a very simple solution and easy way to transfer your feeds...follow this's so simple.

Google Reader to Bloglovin'

<a href="">Follow my blog with Bloglovin</a>

Easy-Peasy Cookies

Easy-Peasy Banana Spice Cookies
So I wanted to share this super easy recipe with you (emphasis on easy). By no means is this a fancy pastry school recipe, but it's something that you can throw together at a moments notice. They would be great for a hostess gift or on those days it's your kid's turn to bring a sweet treat to school. 

Recently my friends and I decided to enjoy an outdoor showing of Edward Scissorhands hosted by Street Food Cinema, which is this great pairing of food trucks and movies in the park...the perfect pairing considering the warm summer nights we have been experiencing.  What made this event even better was that we were able to bring our own snacks and drinks to enjoy during the movie so I whipped up a batch of these Easy-Peasy Cookies and off we went.

Feel free to experiment with flavors with choux pastry the possibilities are endless so have fun!!

Easy-Peasy (Banana Spice) Cookies

Approx 25-30 Cookies*
Prep Time: 45min
Bake Time: 10-12 min
Bake Temp: 350 degrees

1 Box of Spice Cake Mix (use what you have!)
1/2 cup (1 stick) Butter softened
1/2 cup (2 medium) ripe Bananas smashed
1 teaspoon vanilla (or another flavor you like)
3/4 cup White Chocolate Chips (or chocolate or butterscotch...yum)
3/4 cup Pecans roughly chopped (any kind of nut will do) OPTIONAL

Essentials: Parchment paper for grease free baking and no sticking!!

Cream the butter, bananas and vanilla together until combined. Add cake mix and combine. Fold in white chocolate chips and pecans. Batter will be creamy here so don't worry!  Chill the dough in the fridge for about 30 minutes.

Make sure you preheat your oven to 350 at least 5-7 minutes before you take the cookies out of the fridge (depends on how fast your oven comes to temperature).

Bake on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper** for 10-12 minutes or until the edges are golden brown and the cookie springs back at the slightest touch.  Transfer the cookies and parchment paper on a wired rack to cool...then devour!!

* I used a small 1 1/2 table spoon ice cream scooper to portion my cookies.

** Neat tip...if you only have a jelly roll pan, you know the cookie sheets with the raised lip all the way around...well, flip it over and use the upside down pan lined with parchment paper. This helps to have the cookies get an even amount of heat. 

I really hope you enjoy this recipe, I know my friends and I did!!

Happy Baking,
Dani xoxox