For some reason I have been mad in the kitchen lately. From Brioche to Gelatin homes for mini Star Wars characters to Pain aux Raisins to Havarti cheese…I have just been living in the kitchen whipping up an endless supply of food and fun for my family over the past week (Colin can’t quite figure it out but is NOT complaining. I think it’s hormones…).
It’s not like our fridge was empty, either. Honestly, perhaps I bake to cope with disappointment? At least that part seems clear because on Saturday morning last weekend I awoke to see rain out my window. On the very day I had been looking forward to attending the Heritage Harvest Festival all year! Now rain doesn’t scare me away, but throw three wrestling boys into the mix and it’s not exactly what I’d like to call a “fun time.”
As I trudged my way through the house toward the kitchen, I was suddenly (and strongly) drawn to my pantry. It’s my place. The whole kitchen is, really, but my pantry is the first place I open to get inspiration. I look through my pastry pantry (above) and my savory pantry (below) thoroughly, and well, things just jump out at me. Sometimes, literally so, as I have a bad habit of buying too much and stocking our shelves so full that items do periodically jump out at us. There are worse problems to have, I am told.
I began with making some mighty fine gelatin, flavoring it with juices and fruit. Gabe brought home a Star Wars cookbook from his school library (proud on so many levels) that had a recipe idea for a Star Wars Gelatin “fortress.” It sounded like a great project for them (all of the wrestlers) and I had equally as much fun, so off we went. I’ll post a recipe someday soon, but just know that I made it as healthy as possible by adding chia seeds, fruit- like peaches, grapes and dried cranberries, coconut and yogurt.
We also sanitized about 15 Star Wars figurines and strategically placed them throughout the gelatin as it hardened in the fridge.
The whole project ended with three layers of different flavored gelatin moulded in a bundt pan and took all day. It was well worth the wait. Beckett still keeps opening the fridge looking for “Jello.”
Brioche was next (because we had to eat) following by pain aux raisins. I started the brioche the morning before with the boys as a nice Friday morning project. I don’t know if it was my mood or the weather, or those wonderfully pudgy little hands but this batch of brioche was my best ever (in 10 years ever–that’s saying a lot). We served it semi-warm from the oven with strawberry jam. It was light, fluffy, and with the eggs from our chickens, the most exquisite yellow color.
Pain aux raisins oddly enough is a pastry I have never made before, even though it was always my favorite in Paris. Once I realized it required brioche dough I was sold because I just happened to have a batch of extra dough! After making some delicious almond cream and soaking the raisins in rum for awhile, I will say that my hard work and patience paid off and the pastry was delicious. It was not, sadly, exactly how I remember it from France, but it’s close enough for a first try.
Sorry…no pictures. I got distracted with the onslaught that happened in the kitchen once they came out of the oven. I did freeze half so photos to come soon.
I’ve taken up cheese making again. For my old business I used to make cheese to sell to local restaurants, grocers and at the markets. These days, with a little more time on my hands and some amazing milk thanks to my around-the-corner dairy farmer, I have been throwing together batches of Kefir, Fromage Blanc, Ricotta, Yogurt, Bleu Cheese and on Saturday, Havarti. We shall see how it comes out but so far so good.
Finally, with glass of wine now in hand, and the day inching in on night fall, I threw together a multi-flavored chocolate bark. I had been shopping earlier in the week and was drawn to a dark chocolate bark with toasted pumpkin seeds and sea salt (must be the packaging. Or hunger.). I went as far as to pick it up and begin to unload it into my cart when I realized: “um, Lynsie, you can make this.” So instead I bought massive amounts of semisweet chocolate chips and used some ingredients lying around in my beloved pantry to make my own version.
I toasted almonds (Trader Joe’s), pumpkin seeds (from Relay) and peanuts and made a chocolate triptych of bark: salted peanut, currant+pumpkin seed+pink sea salt, toasted almonds with chunky grey salt.
I still can’t decide which is my favorite but I will say that I had Colin pegged with the currant+pumpkin. Am I good or am I good?
Recipes for all of the above to follow next week. Until then, happy salivating and even more so, happy upcoming weekend.
I won’t judge if you stay in your PJ’s all day and bake.2