A Baking Celebration

From quiet homes and first beginnings,
out to the undiscovered ends,
there’s nothing worth the wear of winning,
but laughter and the love of friends.

Hillaire Belloc

People who know me well know that I’m a no frills kind of person – a dinner of cereal and milk is okay with me most of the time.  Tonight, however, in celebration of a wonderful friend, I made a full meal complete with salad and dessert.  Being a natural baker, most of the items I chose to make were, of course, baked :)

In retrospect, I suppose I put a lot of effort into this one meal because there were multiple items and everything was made from scratch.  But – and here is something I have been thinking about a lot lately – it never felt like work.  It was never difficult or overwhelming.  It was something I knew I wanted to do from the bottom of my heart, and I wanted to do it without expecting anything in return (although this friend is so awesome, she has given me more than she knows).  I’m not saying that relationships -with family, with friends, with significant others, with patients – aren’t a lot of work.  Of course they are.  But when you have a real heart for a person, sometimes it almost feels like more (emotional) work to just sit back and do nothing than to put everything you have into making them happy.  I wonder if I’m making any sense.  Well, in any case, thank you for everything, B :) You deserve the very best.

Garlic Bread
Adapted from Gourmand Recipes

Ingredients:
1 French baguette
3 tablespoons butter, softened
2 cloves garlic (small), minced
1 teaspoon chopped parsley

1. Combine the butter, garlic and parsley in a small bowl and mix well.
2. Slice the baguette into 1/2-inch thick slices.
3. Spread a layer of the garlic butter on the bread slices.
4. Place the bread slices on a baking tray in a single layer.
5. Grill under a broiler until the butter has melted and the toasts are golden brown (it took me around 10 minutes)

Spinach Quiche
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

Ingredients for Pate Brisee: (you only need half this recipe for the quiche, but I ended up making the whole recipe because I had a lot of filling leftover and I made several mini quiches)

2.5 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1 cup unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small pieces
1/4-1/2 cup ice water

1. Combine flour, salt. Cut in the butter under you get a coarse meal.
2. Add ice water in a slow, steady stream until dough holds together without being wet or sticky.  If it is crumbly, add more ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time.
3. Divide dough into two equal balls. Flatten each ball into a disc and wrap in plastic. Transfer to the refrigerator and chill at least 1 hour. Dough may be stored, frozen, up to 1 month.  Use the pate brisee to line a quiche dish (or a pie pan if you don’t have a quiche dish)

Ingredients for quiche filing:
1 3-ounce package cream cheese, room temperature
1/3 cup milk
4 eggs
1 bag chopped spinach
1/2 cup grated cheddar
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
4 to 6 green onions, thinly sliced
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper

1. Preheat oven to 425°.
2. Beat cream cheese in medium bowl until smooth. Gradually beat in milk and eggs. Mix in remaining ingredients.
3. Pour mixture into prepared crust. Bake until crust is golden brown and filling is set, about 30 minutes. Cool 10 minutes before serving.

Turkey-Feta-Roasted Red Peppers Lasagna
Adapted from Closet Cooking

Ingredients:
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion (diced)
2 cloves garlic (chopped)
1 (14 ounce) can diced tomatoes
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon oregano salt and pepper to taste
2 cups turkey (cooked)
1 handful parsley (chopped)
9 lasagne noodles
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup flour
2 cups milk
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
3 large roasted red peppers
1 cup feta (crumbled)
1 cup mozzarella (grated)

1. Heat the oil in a pan over medium heat.
2. Add the onion and saute until tender, about 5-7 minutes.
3. Add the garlic and saute until fragrant, about 1 minute.
4. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, balsamic vinegar, oregano, salt and pepper and bring to a boil.
5. Reduce the heat and simmer until the sauce starts to thicken, about 15-20 minutes.
6. Mix in the turkey and parsley and set aside.
7. Start cooking the noodles as directed on the package.
8. Heat the butter in a saucepan over medium heat until it is bubbling and it has turned a light golden brown.
9. Mix in the flour and let simmer until it returns to a light golden brown.
10. Mix in the milk and nutmeg and heat until it thickens (this is the bechamel sauce)
11. Lightly grease the bottom of an 8 inch square baking dish.
12. Place a layer of noodles followed by 1/2 of the tomato sauce followed by 1/2 of the feta followed by 1/2 of the roasted red peppers followed by 1/3 of the bechamel sauce. Repeat a second layer in the same fashion and top with a final layer of noodles, the remaining bechamel sauce and top with the mozzarella.
13. Bake in a preheated 350F oven until the top is golden brown and the sides are bubbling, about 30-45 minutes.

Lemon Raspberry Cheesecake: *disclaimer – this is not the cheesecake recipe I normally use, which I usually keep secret :P
Adapted from My Baking Addiction

Ingredients for crust:
2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1 stick unsalted butter; melted
3 tablespoons sugar
½ teaspoon salt

1. Combine ingredients and press to bottom of a 9″ springform pan
2. Bake in a preheated 350F oven for 7 minutes.
3. Remove and allow to cool

Ingredients for cheesecake:
2 sticks of cream cheese, 8 oz each; room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs; room temperature
2/5 cup heavy cream
zest of one lemon
1/2 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
Raspberries

1. Fill a baking pan with water and place in the oven so it warms while you’re preparing the cheesecake.  This is your water bath.  Many people like to use a big enough pan to place the entire springform into the pan, but being a poor medical student with no giant pan at my disposable, I just set the wire wracks really close together and place the cheesecake directly on top of the water bath, which works just as well.

2. Combine the sugar and lemon zest and mix until the sugar is moistened.

3. Beat in the cream cheese and mix until smooth.

4.  Add eggs, one at a time, scraping down the bowl between each egg.

5. Add heavy cream and vanilla until smooth.

6. Pour batter into prepared crust.  Bake 40 minutes.  After 40 minutes, turn off the oven, but leave the oven door closed so the cheesecake continues to bake.  Leave in the cooling oven for an hour, then remove the cheesecake from the oven and place on a cooling rack to cool completely.  Once the cake has cooled completely, place it in the refrigerator for at least 5 hours.  What I did was make the cheesecake the night before, and then leave the cake out overnight.  The next morning, I put it in the fridge and it was ready for dinner by 7 =)  Top with raspberries.

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3 thoughts on “A Baking Celebration

  1. oh julie, you DID take pictures!! hehe i LOVED all the food and i am just so in awe of you! thank you SO SO much for all that you did and i LOVE YOU!! i was just telling tiff that i enjoy the fact that you’re on research so that we can have more julie time, and i definitely treasure every moment! thank you for opening up your place to us and for all the <3!! it was so evident and much appreciated!!

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