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Dessert For One or Many ... Baked Banana's and Brown Sugar

Have you ever craved just a quick, but rich homemade dessert. Or are stumped with company coming and really don't want to labour in the kitchen? Do you love Banana's , brown sugar, and butter? Then this one is for you! I came home from work wanting a dessert. But it was just me and I didn't need lots of cakes , pie, or cookies laying around. My new thing is googling key ingredient terms. I entered banana and brown sugar and saw this. I tweaked it and reduce to one serving. I also used my Mexican Piloncillo instead of regular brown sugar. I just shaved it with knife. Click on the recipe for 4( mine used more sugar and butter per serving). But essentially preheat your oven to 375. Take a ceramic tart dish. Melt 1- 2 tablespoons of butter. Pour some butter on bottom of dish. Arrange length wise cut banana pieces. Cover with 1 whole brown shredded Piloncillo. Pour remaining butter on.Sprinkle with nutmeg. Bake for 15 minutes until the sugar is bubbling.
I loved this. It would be even better with a dollop of slightly sweet whip cream or ice cream.

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Certain Someone Highjacked This Months Daring Bakers Project Pizzas and Toppings

I never thought it would happen to me. There I was picking up a few items in the store for the weekend , planning to make a bare minimum pizza with ingredients we mostly had on hand before Certain Someone flew out for a few weeks . I came home and saw miracle of miracle , he had went to the store too! I mentioned we were having pizzas that weekend and the Inquisition began. What type. He sneered when I said basic with some odds and ends scraps from the fridge. He sacrificed his Bresola, and Prosciutto that he had just purchased( was going to be for breakfast) and insisted I buy another long list of expensive things. I protested my that wasn't in my food budget, etc. and he said he would buy it. You see we just cant have plain pizzas in my house. He has to take over after I do the hard part( dough making, sauce making, prep, etc) and like the gourmand he is he takes over and dictates the assembly.This time he even took over the photos because he was trying out his new Nikon D90. Instant addiction to food photography. You see where this is going. Certain Someone is stealing my blog. At least for this post. So these are 3 the pizzas we created. I have three more dough balls in the freezer for later use.
1) Hawaiian Pizza( no foodie snob snickers). He loves this and while its not traditional, its damn good! Authenticity is nice, but so is experimentation and fusion.No hate comments please, its good and we like it.

2) Spinach, feta, bresola, prosciutto,sun dried tomatoes,Parmesan /reggiano, mozzarella.

3) Salami, green peppers, thinly shaved onions, sun dried tomatoes,parm/ reg, and mozzarella.

What a great recipe Rosa picked out for this months Daring Bakers Challenge in memory of her late co host Sher! Who wouldn't like this one! The only difficulty I had was in the required dough toss. I tried, but resorted to stretching it out bu fists and then rolling it out. I kept getting tears .This was the thinnest crispiest dough ever! My best by far. The super hot oven temps and preheating helped. I found my best pizzas were the ones in my old cast iron skillet, not the pizza stone. I love my skillet that's older than me and wouldn't trade it for all the new shiny stuff out there.
Here is the recipe. The dough was taken from "The Bread Bakers Apprentice...Mastering the Art of Extraordinary Bread" by Peter Reinhart.Be sure to check out my fellow Daring Bakers too!

...Prior to her sudden death (9 days before), Sher had shared with me her recipe idea for the October challenge that she, Glenna and myself should have hosted together. When she died, it was clear for me that I would respect her choice and that I would still submit her recipe. This is my last ode to a very appreciated blogger, DB member, skilled baker and cook whom I miss a lot!~ Sherry “Sher” Cermak 1948-2008 ~
Thanks to Sheltie Girl (Natalia) at (USA) for her precious help and for giving me a glute-free version of this recipe!!!
You have to use the tossing method (as explained below) for at least 2 Pizza Crusts. If you are not comfortable with it, then you can switch to the rolling method, but you HAVE to try the traditional method and exercise it, using at least two dough pieces. You should also capture the moment by either filming or photographing yourself while tossing the dough.

This month’s recipe leaves you with much freedom! You can either make the Pizza Dough gluten-free or the normal way. You may use the sauce (anything liquidy, saucy and spreadable like cream cheese, flavored oils, pesto, Nutella, Peanut Butter, pumpkin puree, etc...) and toppings of your choice, may they be savory or sweet, gluten-free, vegan, vegetarian or non-vegan/vegetarian. You must use BOTH (sauce & toppings).JUST USE YOUR IMAGINATION!!! POSTING DATE: Wednesday, October the 29th 2008
Stand mixer with paddle and dough hook attachments (optional, see recipe), cooking thermometer, baking sheet, parchment paper, cooking oil, plastic wrap, pizza peel/scraper, pizza stone or pan.RECIPE SOURCE: “The Bread Baker's Apprentice: Mastering The Art of Extraordinary Bread” by Peter Reinhart. Ten Speed Press, Berkeley, CA. Copyright 2001. ISBN-10: 1-58008-268-8, ISBN-13: 978-158008-268-6.
~Original recipe taken from “The Bread Baker’s Apprentice” by Peter Reinhart.Makes 6 pizza crusts (about 9-12 inches/23-30 cm in diameter).
4 1/2 Cups (20 1/4 ounces/607.5 g)
Unbleached high-gluten (%14) bread flour or all purpose flour, chilled -
FOR GF: 4 ½ cups GF Flour Blend with xanthan gum or 1 cup brown rice flour,
1 cup corn flour,
1 cup oat flour,
1 ½ cup arrowroot, potato or tapioca starch + 2 tsp xanthan or guar gum1
3/4 Tsp Salt
1 Tsp Instant yeast
- FOR GF use 2 tsp1/4 Cup (2 ounces/60g) Olive oil or vegetable oil (both optional, but it’s better with)
1 3/4 Cups (14 ounces/420g or 420ml) Water, ice cold (40° F/4.5° C)1 Tb sugar -
FOR GF use agave syrupSemolina/durum flour or cornmeal for dusting
Method: 1. Mix together the flour, salt and instant yeast in a big bowl (or in the bowl of your stand mixer).2. Add the oil, sugar and cold water and mix well (with the help of a large wooden spoon or with the paddle attachment, on low speed) in order to form a sticky ball of dough. On a clean surface, knead for about 5-7 minutes, until the dough is smooth and the ingredients are homogeneously distributed. If it is too wet, add a little flour (not too much, though) and if it is too dry add 1 or 2 teaspoons extra water.NOTE: If you are using an electric mixer, switch to the dough hook and mix on medium speed for the same amount of time.The dough should clear the sides of the bowl but stick to the bottom of the bowl. If the dough is too wet, sprinkle in a little more flour, so that it clears the sides. If, on the contrary, it clears the bottom of the bowl, dribble in a teaspoon or two of cold water.The finished dough should be springy, elastic, and sticky, not just tacky, and register 50°-55° F/10°-13° C.Or2.
FOR GF: Add the oil, sugar or agave syrup and cold water, then mix well (with the help of a large wooden spoon or with the paddle attachment, on low speed) in order to form a sticky ball of dough.
3. Flour a work surface or counter. Line a jelly pan with baking paper/parchment. Lightly oil the paper.4. With the help of a metal or plastic dough scraper, cut the dough into 6 equal pieces (or larger if you want to make larger pizzas).NOTE: To avoid the dough from sticking to the scraper, dip the scraper into water between cuts.5. Sprinkle some flour over the dough. Make sure your hands are dry and then flour them. Gently round each piece into a ball.NOTE: If the dough sticks to your hands, then dip your hands into the flour again.6. Transfer the dough balls to the lined jelly pan and mist them generously with spray oil. Slip the pan into plastic bag or enclose in plastic food wrap.7. Put the pan into the refrigerator and let the dough rest overnight or for up to thee days.
NOTE: You can store the dough balls in a zippered freezer bag if you want to save some of the dough for any future baking. In that case, pour some oil(a few tablespooons only) in a medium bowl and dip each dough ball into the oil, so that it is completely covered in oil. Then put each ball into a separate bag. Store the bags in the freezer for no longer than 3 months. The day before you plan to make pizza, remember to transfer the dough balls from the freezer to the refrigerator.
8. On the day you plan to eat pizza, exactly 2 hours before you make it, remove the desired number of dough balls from the refrigerator. Dust the counter with flour and spray lightly with oil. Place the dough balls on a floured surface and sprinkle them with flour. Dust your hands with flour and delicately press the dough into disks about 1/2 inch/1.3 cm thick and 5 inches/12.7 cm in diameter. Sprinkle with flour and mist with oil. Loosely cover the dough rounds with plastic wrap and then allow to rest for 2 hours.
Or8. FOR GF: On the day you plan to eat pizza, exactly 2 hours before you make it, remove the number of desired dough balls from the refrigerator. Place on a sheet of parchment paper and sprinkle with a gluten free flour. Delicately press the dough into disks about ½ inch/1.3 cm thick and 5 inches/12.7 cm in diameter. Sprinkle the dough with flour, mist it again with spray oil. Lightly cover the dough round with a sheet of parchment paper and allow to rest for 2 hours.
9. At least 45 minutes before making the pizza, place a baking stone on the lower third of the oven. Preheat the oven as hot as possible (500° F/260° C).
NOTE: If you do not have a baking stone, then use the back of a jelly pan. Do not preheat the pan.10. Generously sprinkle the back of a jelly pan with semolina/durum flour or cornmeal. Flour your hands (palms, backs and knuckles). Take 1 piece of dough by lifting it with a pastry scraper. Lay the dough across your fists in a very delicate way and carefully stretch it by bouncing it in a circular motion on your hands, and by giving it a little stretch with each bounce. Once the dough has expanded outward, move to a full toss.
Or10. FOR GF: Press the dough into the shape you want (about 9-12 inches/23-30 cm in diameter - for a 6 ounces/180g piece of dough).
NOTE: Make only one pizza at a time.During the tossing process, if the dough tends to stick to your hands, lay it down on the floured counter and reflour your hands, then continue the tossing and shaping. In case you would be having trouble tossing the dough or if the dough never wants to expand and always springs back, let it rest for approximately 5-20 minutes in order for the gluten to relax fully,then try again.You can also resort to using a rolling pin, although it isn’t as effective as the toss method.11. When the dough has the shape you want (about 9-12 inches/23-30 cm in diameter - for a 6 ounces/180g piece of dough), place it on the back of the jelly pan, making sure there is enough semolina/durum flour or cornmeal to allow it to slide and not stick to the pan.
Or11. FOR GF: Lightly top it with sweet or savory toppings of your choice.12. Lightly top it with sweet or savory toppings of your choice.
Or12. FOR GF: Place the garnished pizza on the parchment paper onto the stone in the oven or bake directly on the jelly pan. Close the door and bake for about 5-8 minutes.NOTE: Remember that the best pizzas are topped not too generously. No more than 3 or 4 toppings (including sauce and cheese) are sufficient.13. Slide the garnished pizza onto the stone in the oven or bake directly on the jelly pan. Close the door and bake for abour 5-8 minutes.
Or13. FOR GF: Follow the notes for this step.NOTE: After 2 minutes baking, take a peek. For an even baking, rotate 180°.If the top gets done before the bottom, you will need to move the stone or jelly pane to a lower shelf before the next round. On the contrary, if the bottom crisps before the cheese caramelizes, then you will need to raise the stone or jelly.14. Take the pizza out of the oven and transfer it to a cutting board or your plate. In order to allow the cheese to set a little, wait 3-5 minutes before slicing or serving.

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The Cake Diva Strikes Again...A Baby Shower Cake

I have been at my company for almost a decade. And lets just say its been an education. You know there are always go to people you can count on to help you get what you need.When an opportunity comes around just to say thanks,I seize it. Angela is that person. I remember first really noticing her when she came to my Mothers funeral. I was new and didn't really know a lot of people at work well, but I remember that. She has helped me so much with IT issues,and order processing to meet event deadlines, etc., I am immensely grateful. So when it was announced that we would be giving her a surprise shower on her last day before maternity leave, I volunteered to do the cake at my expense. The cake took about 3 days in construction. The first day making the marzipan baby, bears and moon.
The second day making the cake layers , cooling, freezing, and wrapping, and the 3rd day,assembling the tiers, making both royal icings and crumb icings, rolling and coloring fondant, cutouts, making more figures, and any other last minute touches.

Not to mention making cookies for the favor bags. I have really come to love Dorie Greenspans Perfect Party Cake recipe which I used as a base.The filling was strawberry, and the icicng was Wilton recipe, as didnt want to risk real buttercream, and regfrigerate a fondant covered cake( moisiture build up). I really hope she likes it. Just a small way to say thank you.

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This Pie Made It To The Semi Finals at the Bucktown Apple Pie Contest

I mentioned last week that I was working on my pie for the Bucktown Apple Pie Competition. I have been so busy, but unexpected time opened up and allowed me to devote all Saturday to this pie. I started the prep at 10:oopm so it would fresh for morning, but set. I had a last minute inspiration to dust cinnamon powder with my Chinese long life vegetable cutter.It worked! And notice the center with a full Star Anise pod. Here is my recipe. I based my crust on Dorie Greenspan's Good for Almost Anything Crust, but changed the shortening aspect to my trusted Atora. This tasted way better than my previous attempts. But what a lot of butter and grease that seeped out while baking. But better it seep than stay in, but still give me a flakier crust.

On Sunday Morning I arose at dawn and popped the pies back into the oven at a low 200 to warm up for an hour . I was the Contestant #2 and had my photo taken. I got some compliments on the appearance and left. All the contestants were to return at 2pm . At 2:30pm the finalists were announced. While waiting and listening to some band called Tangleweed that played bluegrass/ country, I saw my name on the ribbon board on a list of Semi Finalists!

I made it that far. Maybe there was hope for finalist?92 contestants, 27 Semi Finalists, 5 Winners.

All this year in particular of obsessing, blogging, learning, Daring Bakers, reading, etc was starting to pay off in improvement.But that's as far as I got. The finalist seemed like familiar names in the competition.Neighborhood locals, repeat contestants,etc. This was my second year and I think I'm miles ahead from last years entry.The celebrity judges including Gale Gand , and Stephanie Izard( Top Chef Chicago winner) went to work on the finalists table and the mob was directed to the Pie Room to 'buy' a taste.

We were packed liked sardines , but I found my pie and waited patiently for a clear view. One of them was practically gone and people in line were asking for a slice. Now was the time to really taste and see how it measures up. I was pleased. The crust was not soggy , but flaky even on the bottom. The fruit gelled nice. A lot of pies looked like they had bigger chunks of fruit, but not that gel like sauce. The only thing I would change is bigger chunks of fruit and more fruit, as the winning pies seemed to be high in fruit. One of the finalist told me she only uses 4 ingredients in her crust, one of them being milk! Hmmm, I have to try that one day.I didn't stick around to 4:45 for the winners. The place was packed and a line went through to outside. I heard a volunteer turning non contestants or people who hadn't already been inside away because they running out of pie. The contestants pies were being sold off in slices and the winners auctioned. Sounds like it was a succes. I will be back next year, God willing.

Coco's Asian Apple Pie

Makes 1 9inch double crust pie


1 12 fl oz can of Frozen Apple Juice concentrate
1 cinnamon stick 2-3 Star Anise ground to make 2 teaspoons of powder
1/4 teaspoon mace
pinch of black pepper
5-6 Golden Delicious apples peeled ,cored, and chopped
1/2 cup King Arthur's Pie Enhancer ( for thickening)
1/2 cup sugar
Pastry Crust
3 cups all -purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 1/2 sticks frozen unsalted butter cut into small pieces
1/3 cup Atora ( cold) a shredded dehydrated suet available in the the UK or online
1/2 cup ice water
Egg Wash
1 egg beaten
1 teaspoon cream

Take a heavy bottom sauce pan and heat the frozen concentrate with the ground star anise, cinnamon stick( intact) , and mace until mixture is reduced by half. It will form a dark syrup. Set aside. Discard cinnamon stick when cool.
Make Crust. mix flour , sugar, and salt in your Stand Mixer. Gradually in stages add the butter and Atora until mixed into the flour. Do not over mix! Chunks of butter and Atora are fine. Gradually add water by tablespoon until all is combined . Just enough until it holds together. Take the dough and place on a lightly floured work surface . I use wax paper for easier clean up. Divide into 2 balls. Take a ball and between two sheets of wax paper roll out to fit into pie pans.Place rolled discs in refrigerator until ready to use.
Peel, core , and chop apples. Toss into a bowl with syrup/ concentrate mixture( discarding cinnamon stick). Add the sugar and pie enhancer. Toss until evenly mixed.
Preheat oven to 350 .
Line pie tin with crust. Pour in fruit filling. Cover and seal edges with second layer of dough.Slash dough to vent.Brush with egg wash mix( egg beaten with cream).
Bake at 350 for 30 -5 minutes. Cover with aluminum foil, and reduce heat to 200. Bake an additional 1 hour.* Place pie pans on a baking pan with lips to catch the excess butter, etc. that bakes out of the pie. Take out and allow to cool on wire rack with foil cover for a few hours to set. Serve at a cool room temperature.

I'm sending this over to Ivy, for her Sweet Pies Event.

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Tea Smoked Wings From 50 Great Appetizers

If you look over to the side bar of my blog, you will see a widget from Library Thing. Here is where I catalogue all of my cook books. Its daunting enough listing them and not the other multitudes of books I have. Library Thing is a great networking resource for book lovers and so much to to offer. I have barely tapped into Library Thing, but each month I eagerly bid in their Early Reviewers offers.Limited quantities of books are released from publishers on a whole range of topics. I have been bidding for months and had about given up on ever getting a book. Wasn't I presently surprised when I saw I was chosen to receive 50 Great Appetizers by Pamela Sheldon Johns, a reknown cooking instructor and host of Italian culinary workshops throughout Italy.

It arrived immediately from Andrews McMeel Publishing/ Universal Press Syndicate. 50 Great Appetizers is a small gem of book that would make a great gift this holiday season. The author takes the anxiety and angst out of planning a party with party theme/menu suggestions From Middle Eastern Mezes to Farmers Market spreads. She even breaks down traditional entrees and shows how the host/hostess can adapt them to appetizer portions. It is all about presentation, and this book is wonderfully presented. Pamela Sheldon Johns divides the book into four sections Topped and Dipped, Grilled &Skewered, Stuffed & Rolled, and Plated and Sauced. The author even has a detailed vegetarian listing of all recipes. Each recipe has a brief suggestion of other pairings or any ideas or recommendations.So all your bases are covered for entertaining. Jennifer Barry is her visual collaborator and has given us a wonderful package in photos and design. All in all a great resource.
I wanted to choose a more sophisticated and complex recipe for my blog to test a recipe. One of the first recipes that caught me a unique and challenging was Tea Smoked Chicken Wings with Sweet and Sour Dipping Sauce. I used Assam Black Tea Leaves. I was worried about the brief time in cooking as this process was new to me. My first attempt at improvising a smoker didn't work and the wings were raw after the elapsed cooking time.

The rack was to far away from the smoke mixture.I grabbed a layer from my bamboo steamer that fit more directly over the tea/ spice mixture, and we were in business! The wings were smoked in the exact time the recipe stated. I normally like my wings broiled or fried with a crispier skin, but these were rich and seductive with that smokey flavor. The accompanying sauce wasn't to sweet and cloying, but just right in its simple equal proportioned mix of soy sauce, sugar, garlic, and sesame oil. These are grown up wings, and I will use this technique for other foods down the line. I loved that tea smoked smell that lingered in the house. It kind of reminded me of Oolong tea in scent, if that's your thing.

For legal /copyright reasons I wont give the recipe . But essentially I used rice, brown sugar, star anise, orange peel, and tea leaves to create a foil lined sealed smoker. The sauce was soy, rice vinegar, minced garlic, and sesame oil. I found success changing my rack to my bamboo steamer rack. This is really easy and wow your guests when entertaining. I look forward to changing tea blends, and meats with this technique. A cook book can be followed literally of be there to give you more inspiration or ideas. This does both succesfully.
I'm sending this to Meeta for her Monthly Mingle...Coffee and Tea. If anyone wants more detailed instruction email me.

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Pumpkin and Coconut 'Samosas'...WTSIM #20

I'm going to use the term Samosa here figuratively. But Samosas are what inspired me to make this for my first ever entry into Waiter There Is Something In My... The theme is Gourds.

Let me give you a little background into my entering...

Jeanne over at Cook Sister, is this months host and event founder, and I have had the immense pleasure of meeting both here and her husband while they are in Chicago. Certain Someone and I invited them over for the famous Harold's fried Chicken. I was quite impressed as they finished of their entire orders!Lets just say she's eating her way through Chicago.Later in the week I met up with her for a quick lunch at Macy's( formerly the historic Marshall Fields) for a quick lunch at Rick Bayless' Frontera Express. While ordering we noticed Marcus Samuelsson has a upscale burger stand next to Frontera. It seems every foreigner I mention Marcus to is not really that familiar. He seems to be more famous here! Go figure. Anyway while chomping and talking away , guess who walks by! Marcus. I could have swooned. Jeanne saw him go behind the counter so it was him for sure.What a treat. I really enjoyed meeting Jeanne and was amazed at what we had in common. She is a treasure. Excuse the photo but I look like porker. It was the Harold's.
So with Certain Someone gone this week, and a little unexpected lull from a hectic work week, I concocted this savory , somewhat spicy pumpkin "samosa". I know samosas are traditionally triangular and fried , but I decided to use convenient puff pastry. Rather than potatoes, I used pumpkin as my gourd cooked down with curry, coconut milk, red lentils, and spinach.After I came up with the idea, I did a quick google search and saw some recipes along the same idea. Also I remember seeing this combo and found it intriguing.The filling I made was abundant and I have a lot leftover as only a few teaspoons are needed. I imagine I can eat it up with rice as leftovers.Or serve alongside some chicken later on. It will not go to waste. So without much ado...

Pumpkin and Coconut Samosas

1 sheet frozen puff pastry makes 6 or 2 sheets makes 12
4 cups peeled /cubed pumpkin or 1/2 a small one
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 teaspoon mustard seed
1 teaspoon curry( add more if that is your taste)
1 teaspoon cumin
1 whole chopped onion
Sea salt * I have a special French sea salt blend with curry , mint, cumin, and chilies added so I adjusted based on this.
2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 cup red lentils
1 cup fresh spinach
1 can coconut milk

Take frozen puff pastry out to thaw. While thawing cook your filling .In a large skillet heat vegetable oil.On medium heat, add mustard seeds and cook until they pop. Add onion and brown stirring occasionally. Add pumpkin, and all dry spices except sugar. Cook until pumpkin and onion start to get tender and slightly caramelize. Stir occasionally. Add coconut milk and sugar. Turn down heat and let mixture simmer. Toss in spinach after 10 minutes. The pumpkin should be tender. Cook until spinach wilts.Take a immersion blender and slightly break up the pumpkin to a mashed consistency leaving some chunks and spinach leaves intact. Throw in the lentils and let simmer another 10 minutes.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Unroll the puff pastry and cut 1 sheet into 6 even squares. Fill each square with a bit of filling and seal edges. Bake for 10 -15 minutes or until golden.

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Do You Love Oysters? I Do.

With life getting so busy I forgot to tell you all about this great contest over at Marx Foods.There are still 5 days to enter and its really easy. Check it out! And if you enter please tell them I sent you in your comment entry!

Win Four Dozen Fresh Oysters

What would you do with 4 dozen free oysters?
The best answer wins 48 fresh Puget Sound oysters!
Contest Dates: October 2 – 19
If we were to send you 4 Dozen fresh Puget Sound Oysters, what would you do with them?
TWO WAYS TO WIN:1. Leave your answer in the comment section below. Be delicious (see comment
#19), funny (#13), sensual (#43), poetic (#46), or tug on our heart strings (#39).2. Refer the most contestants to this contest. Pass this on to family and friends or via your blog. Make sure to tell them to leave your name in the “referred by” field. The person who makes the most referrals will also win a fresh oyster sampler.
THE PRIZE:Four Dozen Fresh Puget Sound Oysters and a set of
Biodegradable Plates. The oyster sampler will include one dozen each of Pacific Oysters, Kumamoto Oysters, Virginica Oysters, and Olympia Oysters.
HOW WILL THE WINNER BE CHOSEN?Our readers will vote on the finalists! The polls will be open October 21 – 24 @ noon PST, and a winner will be announced on Monday, October 27.
Read the contest rules

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Bear With Me My Friends...Working on My Pie Competition

I haven't posted since last week. Work and personal life is crazy right now. By the time I usually get ready to blog I'm to tired. Not to mention keeping up with all of you. This week I have a Grand Opening at work, will be casually entertaining a fellow blogger on Sunday, working on some house stuff, seeing Certain Someone off to yet another business trip, and submitting two apple pies to the Buck Town Apple Pie Contest next Sunday. I've spent this morning on a practice pie. Cant tell you my secrets yet, but its looking good. I'm incorporating some unusual spices and techniques.Its amazing what I have learned in year from all of you and the Daring Bakers. So wish me luck folks, and I will try to visit you this week if time permits.
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I'm So Perfect I Even Make My Own Chevre Cheese...I'm Joking About The Perfect Part.

My interest in making my own cheese was not motivated by anything more than pure curiosity. I love DIY stuff. In England I had purchased some rennet in the baking aisle that was supposed to be used for a dessert called Junket. In exploring that I found this brand wasn't suitable to take it further and make cheese because it was diluted. So I searched the net and found this company that had all sorts of cheese making supplies and kits.

I was just going to order some strains, butter muslin, and rennent , and figure it out. The salesperson at the other end though I was one of many Martha Stewart watchers( seemed she just made some cheese) and advised me there was to more to cheese making than adding milk and rennet. So I purchased his easiest kit for soft cheese. This kit provided the strains to make Fromage Blanc, Chevre, Mascarpone, Creme Fraiche, and Neufchatel along with other necessary ingredients.
I just needed to supply either goats or cows milk and a few kitchen supplies.
It was really simple from this point. Heat the goats milk to 86 degrees,add Chevre culture, mix 1 teaspoon of Calcium Chloride with 2 tabelspoons Distilled water and put in the milk, cover overnight in a cast iron pot. Next morning separate the whey from the curds gently.
Tie up in the butter muslin and let drian for 6-8 hours( all done while I was at work).
Look at these beautiful curds!
Next add some flaked salt .
Put in the cheese molds that came with the kit.Let those set for 1-2 days and drain some more.
I was left with a cup of ready to eat cheese that I used up like this for Certain Someone and myself.
Baked Chevre with tomato sauce, olive oil, and basil. Delicious!
The next day I untapped my molds. I rolled one in herbs( provided in the kit) and the other set aside plain.
I cant tell you how excited I am. The finished product was excellent. Check it out for yourself.

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