Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Totally Gratuitous Puppy Pictures - That's all

They say, though I have no idea who "they" are, that March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb.  While this kernel of "wisdom" usually pertains to the weather , I have decided to celebrate the sheepish retreat of March by posting a plethora of pictures of my own little "lamb", who has been growing at an alarming rate.  Thus rendering him not so "little" anymore.  In hindsight, I guess raising a Miniature Schnauzer is not a good determination of Standard Poodle puppy growth.  LOL  Especially since Hunter is already bigger than Otto was.

This brings up another thing...  His name.

The last time I posted anything regarding his name, I was still toying with Reese/Riesling and Einstein.  Well, puppy decided to pick his own name.  He would not respond to Reese, Riesling, Einstein or even Spot, thus he was simply being referred to as "hey you" and "come here puppy".  One day I was making a joke about training him to Hunt for truffles.  For poodles are used fairly often in Italy for such purposes.  And lord knows Oregon has Truffles.  Upon hearing the word "Truffle Hunter", he came running over and sat down.  So I settled on "Hunter".  Cause I had no intention of calling him "Truffles"  ;)

The Big Day... January 17th, the Pick up in Hillsboro...

The first night.... after arriving home and checking out his new digs....

Puppy Heaven =  Sock + Sofa....

First Collar.....  It only took 2 weeks for him to out grow it.

Playing with my Niece.....  as puppies are want to do.

Relaxing in the tub....

Waiting patiently for his dog biscuits to come out of the oven....

Posing for the camera...  You know, they have red-eye reduction, but no doggy-eye reduction.

Running in his sleep.  He actually "Ran" off of his bed (It's hard to show that when it's a photo and not a video)

So tired from playing, that he missed his bed all together...

I decided I would go ahead and do a comparison.....

This was the first week after bringing him home... So he was about 9 weeks old.

This was taken this last weekend (3/21) now that he is 4 months old.

Either he has grown significantly, or someone let the air out of the ball... LOL

In about 2 more month he will be about 2/3 his adult size.  Ooooh Boy!  Cause he already weighs 26 pounds.

True, he doesn't really look all curly like a lamb or an adult poodle, cause he is still sporting his puppy coat.  His curly adult coat will start to grow in once he reaches 6 months.


OK, That is the end of the Proud Puppy Pappa pictures.... We now return you to your regularly scheduled blog-cast.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

The Seventh Wonder of The Waffle World - Pizzelle

I was filtering through the last 2 1/2 years of Blog posts yesterday morning and realized that I never finished the Waffle tour.  Oh, I covered Dutch Stroopwafel, Danish FlødeValfer (Sour Cream Waffles), PiskeFlødeValfer (Whipped Cream Waffles) and my Mom's Nutty Spelt Waffles.  I even tried to set the record straight about the dubious "Belgian" Waffle; promoting their true forms, being Brussels and Liège Waffles.  But I realized that I have missed a few "waffles" out there.  Isvafler being one of them (Danish Ice Waffles), along with Norwegian Krumkaker and the ever delicious Pizzelle of Italy.  All three of these waffles tend to be more of a cookie, like Stroopwafels, but they are waffles none the less.

Thus, I decided to tackle the Pizzelle today.  You will have to wait for Isvafler until the Marionberries come into season later this year.  (sorry)

Hailing from Abruzzo region of Italy, the Pizzelle (peet-ZEL-ey) is one of the oldest cookies in existence.  Sometimes they are called Ferratelle due to their being baked in an iron (Ferrium) press.  But "Pizzelle" seems to be the most common usage.  These delightfully crisp cookies are a traditionally flavored with anise seeds, though Lemon, Orange, Vanilla are pretty common nowadays as well.  Heck, you can even make chocolate ones, though I find it hard to tell when they are browned properly...  ;)

Me? I like a nice combination of anise and lemon...  Meyer Lemon that is.  YUM!

Because they are soft when first removed from the iron, they can be rolled around a form when hot and allowed to cool into their crispiness, retaining said shape they were formed into.  This is great if you have some licorice ice cream lying around, as they can very easily be rolled into a cone shape.  The perfect edible vehicle for your Gelato.


4 large eggs
1 cup (8 oz) (225 g) Granulated Sugar
7 oz (195 g) Melted Butter
Juice and Zest of 1 Meyer Lemon (if using a regular lemon, use only half)
1 TB Anise Seeds
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
Pinch of Salt
1 3/4 cups plus 1 TB (8 oz) (225 g) AP Flour
2 cups (8 oz) (225 g) Cake Flour

Place Eggs and Sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer with a whisk attachment.

Whisk together until light and ribbony. (about 5 minutes)

Meanwhile, melt the butter in a glass pitcher or small saucepan and set aside.
Zest the Meyer Lemon, squeeze out the juice and combine in a small ramekin with Anise Seeds, Vanilla Extract and a pinch of Salt.

In a medium bowl combine the AP Flour and Cake Flour, whisking to aerate well.

Once the Egg/Sugar mixture is pale and ribbony, slowly pour the butter in a thin stream (You are trying to create an emulsion) with the mixer on medium-high speed.

Once you have added all the butter, pour in the Lemon/Anise Seed mixture and continue whisking on medium speed until well combined.

At this point, you should probably plug in your Pizzelle iron.
Remove the whisk attachment and replace it with the paddle, turn the mixer to low and begin adding the Flour mixture, a little at a time to prevent a Flour Bomb from exploding in your kitchen.

Once all the Flour has been incorporated, remove the bowl from the mixer stand and grab 2 spoons (Soup spoons that is)

To load up a Pizzelle Iron simply scoop up a heaping spoon of the batter.

Use the other spoon to scrap it off the first spoon and onto the hot iron in a single blob.

OR - You can use a cookie scoop... LOL

Close the iron and press lightly to spread the batter (I have to press on mine a little because the lid section isn't very heavy)

 This is what it looks like after the batter spreads. (Just so's ya know)

Allow the Pizzelle to "bake" for approximately 1 1/2 minutes until golden brown.

Remove carefully from the iron (They are very soft and bendy) and lay them flat on a cooling rack to allow them to crisp up (like tuile cookies)

Then kick back with a nice cup of Earl Grey and enjoy!


Thursday, March 24, 2011

Them Bones, Them Bones, Them Rye Bones - Cheddar Rye Bones

I have been on, what seemed to be, a futile search since the 17th of January.  For this is when a bouncing bundle of puppy fur joined my immediate family and I started baking puppy treats.  Thus began afore mentioned search for a dog bone cookie cutter.  After all, it stands to rights that at some point in the course of canine baking one is going to want to make actual dog bones.  Am I right?

The point is, that my quest has been rewarded, not only with 1 dog bone cutter, but with 3 different sizes  (Small, Medium and Large) because they came as a set.  Which is great, because puppy is still growing at an alarming rate and will be in need of large bones by the end of the year. As an added bonus for my boundless patience and fortitude, they are copper as well.  Woo Hoo!

So here is a great dog bone recipe.  I realize that Rye flour is not a gluten free food, but it's measly 2% Gluten (as opposed to AP Flour which is around 10%) is overshadowed by the fact that it is blessed with a high soluble fiber content and a significant amount of Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids (Hey, they are just as good for Fido as they are for you)

Cheddar Rye Bones

4 oz Extra Sharp Cheddar Cheese, shredded
1/4 cup Olive oil
1 Large Egg
1 1/2 cup Dark Rye Flour, plus more for rolling
1/2 cup Oat Flour
2 TB - 1/4 cup Water

Preheat oven to 375 degrees
In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine shredded Cheddar Cheese, Olive oil and Egg.

Beat on high speed until the mixture emulsifies. (about 5 minutes)

Add the Rye and Oat Flours.

Work the mixture until you have a sort of pea sized crumbs, just like making party dough.

Add 2 TB of water and work the dough with your hands until it comes together.

If the dough is too soft, add more water, 1 tsp at a time, until it forms a ball.

Turn out onto a Rye flour dusted surface.

Roll the dough to a 1/4 inch thickness and cut out your chosen shape.

Move the biscuits to a parchment lined baking sheet (Don't worry about crowding the pan, they will not spread of rise.)

Bake for 15-20 minutes.

Move to a wire rack as quickly as possible and allow to cool.

I realize that not everyone is interested in baking canine treats.  So in the interest of promoting healthy diets for canine chums, may I offer a suggestion?  Check out my friends' Ian and Jordan over at Retrieve Dog Bakery?  Rest assured, their mission statement says it all.... "If you wouldn’t eat it, why should your dog?"

Sunday, March 20, 2011

A Scone, A Scone, The United Kingdom For a Scone! - Savory Black Pepper & Gruyere Scones

While in England back in '99 I became addicted to scones.  Sometimes delicately light and fluffy, other times tender and flaky.  Upon returning to the U.S. of A. I found myself in a state of yearning for those delectable treats to accompany my coffee or tea.  Being the eternal optimist, I always try the scones at whatever coffee house I happen to find myself in. Sadly, my optimism is soon crushed by bleak reality.  Cause lemme tell ya... Be it San Diego, Portland, San Francisco, L.A., Uniondale, Palm Springs, Yuma or Seattle, they are always like hockey pucks.  Which I don't understand at all.  Maybe they have just been sitting around too long or something, cause those horrendously dry crumbly things are NOTHING like what I was eating in England.

I find it frustrating.  I think I am going to start smuggling my own homemade scones into the coffee shop.

Now I must go on record as stating that while a traditional lightly sweet scone lavishly adorn with Devonshire Cream or Crème Fraîche and topped with Lemon curd or Raspberry preserves is the paramount addition to any cup of coffee and tea, occasionally I am in the mood for a savory scone.  Enter the Black Pepper & Gruyere scone.  They are awesome.

Because of the extra fat from the cheese, I tend to stick with my "Cream Scone" recipe, which is a flaky scone made without eggs, as opposed to Buttermilk scones or what I call Basic Milk scones; both containing Eggs and they tend to be fluffier.  Because of the "turning" of the dough, I cut my cream scones in triangles; where as with Buttermilk and Basic scones, I just use a 2 inch biscuit cutter.  After all, that was how they were made in England, like lightly sweet wee biscuits.  Now Bannocks; those were pressed into a round and sliced into wedges... But that is another post.

Black Pepper & Gruyere Scones

10 oz (285 g) AP Flour
1 TB Baking Powder (Aluminum Free please)
1 tsp Salt
1 tsp Black Pepper
5 TB Unsalted Cultured Butter (they better the butter, the better the scone)
1.5 oz (45 g) Gruyere cheese, finely shredded
8 oz (235 ml) Heavy Cream

In a medium bowl, whisk the Flour, Baking Powder, Salt and Black Pepper together.

Add the sliced Butter.

Rub the Butter into the Flour until you have small pea sized bits.

Add the Gruyere cheese and toss to get it coated.

Form a well in the center of the dry mixture and pour in the Heavy Cream.

Mix with a fork until a soft dough begins to form.

Knead the dough as necessary until it comes together.

Turn out onto a lightly floured surface.

Roll out the dough into a rectangle that is roughly 7x10 inches.

Fold the dough over into 1/3rds (just like you would for Puff Pastry dough or Croissants)

Then roll it out again into a 7 x 10 inch rectangle (this is called "turning" the dough) repeat the folding and rolling 2 more times for a total of 3 turns.

When you have completed the 3rd folding, roll the dough out again, into a 7x10 inch rectangle and, using a VERY sharp knife, cut the dough into 12 Triangles.

Move these to a parchment lined baking sheet.

Cover with Plastic wrap and chill the dough for 1 hour.

At the 1 hour mark, begin preheating the oven to 425 degrees (go ahead and leave the scones in the refrigerator... the extra 10-15 minutes of chilling won't hurt them)
Remove the scones from the ice box, remove the plastic wrap and bake the scones for 12-15 minutes, until golden brown.

Move scones to a cooling rack as soon as possible or the bottoms may become a little soggy and loose their crispness.

Enjoy while still slightly warm, slathered with copious quantities of cultured butter.

Scones are best when eaten the same day that they were baked, as they tend to become stale fairly rapidly.