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  • pixeltheatre 12:02 am on February 29, 2008 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , French Bread, Julia Child   

    Daring Bakers – 5th Challenge: French Bread – The Julia Way 

    One of the exhilarating aspects of being part of the bakerhood that is Daring Bakers, is knowing that youBread Rising become a better baker after each new challenge. There is always a trick or two to pick up, a new way of looking at a process, a new direction to stretch your skills and comfort zone. This challenge proved this once more.

    Hosted by  Breadchick Mary (The Sour Dough), and Sara (I like to cook), we were dared to bake French Bread, the Julia Child way. Well, I’ve baked a lot of bread from scratch, but I have to admit my jaw dropped when I read the instructions. How could a recipe with four (4) basic ingredients take so long!? Eight (8) to nine (9) hours?! Whoa! The bread I usually bake entails one proof/rise, shaping and a second shorter rise. Total time from French Breadkneading to fragrant bread out of the oven: 2.5 hours. My curiosity was piqued. We had been warned so many times in cooking school not to let the bread over-rise, that I was a bit skeptical. Nonetheless, on a quiet Sunday, I got up early and plunged in.

    I’ve always made bread the old fashion way, kneading by hand. Since the option to use an electric mixer was offered with this challenge, I decided to try it that way. Improvement #1: It’s a lot more efficient to make bread this way. The mixer bowl is ideal for the first proofing. A keeper. Next up? Using the oven, with the light on, as the rising chamber. Brilliant! Even better, wrapping the bowl in a towel. That’s how I’ll be rising bread from now on. French Bread

    The whole process was pretty straightforward, just time consuming. I may have gotten a bit impatient at the end. My shaped bread (three ficelles) could have risen a little longer. Still, I was really happy with the final results. I’m not sure I’ll be repeating the whole process in the future, but I’m sure the tricks learned will make my regular method even tastier. Thanks for the challenge, Breadchick Mary and Sara!

    The full recipe is available here.

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    • Molly W. 12:28 am on February 29, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      Well those are certainly cute little loaves of bread you have there.

    • pixeltheatre 12:50 am on February 29, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      Thank you, Molly!

    • Annemarie 1:14 am on February 29, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      Fabulous bread – love your final proofing box. Maybe next time you should commit to the full 9 hours and use your hands, just as the French would. 🙂

    • Big Boys Oven 1:33 am on February 29, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      the cross section of your bread looks incredible, so fantastic!

    • pixeltheatre 1:38 am on February 29, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      Thanks AnneMarie. That final rise never really happened. Didn’t seem to want to go anywhere. Same problem you had, I think.

      Thanks Big Boys Oven. I use a bread knife to make the slashes. You gotta be fast, though… 🙂

    • Amber 9:11 am on February 29, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      Beautiful loaves. Congratulations on completing the challenge. I can’t wait to see what next month brings.

    • marye 10:43 am on February 29, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      The texture looks incredible. Nice job.

    • Joy 11:14 am on February 29, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      I love the golden colour of your loaves – they look lovely.

    • Mary 11:35 am on February 29, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      Your bread looks great! Nicely done!

    • pixeltheatre 2:05 pm on February 29, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      @Amber: Thanks. I look forward to the next one as well.
      @Marye: Tasted great too. Even reheated after being frozen.
      @Joy: Thank you.
      @Mary: Thanks!

    • DawnsRecipes 2:32 pm on February 29, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      Just lovely! I’d expect to see those poking out of a basket at a local bakery.

    • pixeltheatre 2:48 pm on February 29, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      Thanks Dawn!

    • breadchick 10:15 pm on February 29, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      So glad you enjoyed the challenge. Half the fun of DB Challenges is learning new techniques and your breads look fantastic

      Thanks for baking with Sara and I!

    • pixeltheatre 10:45 pm on February 29, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      Thanks Mary. It was fun!

    • Sheltie Girl 7:10 am on March 1, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      You did a wonderful job on your ficelles. Your pictures are beautiful.

      Natalie @ Gluten A Go Go

    • maria~ 11:06 am on March 1, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      Your ficelles are gorgeous! I think they belong in a bakery 🙂

    • Jaime 8:01 pm on March 1, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      your ficelles look great! i agree…w/each challenge we learn a little something new that we take w/us, even if we don’t make the recipe again!

    • Sara 12:10 am on March 2, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      Beautiful bread!

    • JennyBakes 12:44 pm on March 2, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      Ah, you are one of the few to actually make baguettes. I salute you, they look great.

    • Deborah 3:41 pm on March 2, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      I learned some tricks from this challenge as well. Great job!

    • Terry C 2:57 pm on July 20, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      Hi just did the whole thing today all day …
      I had to cut some corners but they still came out great, made two batches 6 baguettes total for a cheese fondue tonight.. couldnt wait the time for them to cool just had to taste one as soon as it was cool enough to handle can’t stop..now..
      wish I could have uploaded the photos for you..
      Thanks for the site to review and do the recipe

  • pixeltheatre 2:06 pm on February 26, 2008 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Barilla, Chris Daughtry, , David Tutera, Debra Messing, , Mario Batali, Marisa Tomei, Natalie Portman, Stanley Tucci   

    Free cookbook from Barilla US: Celebrity Italian Table Cookbook 

    BarillaBarilla does it again, this time in support of Second Harvest in the US. The free downloadable pdf includes recipes from Mario Batali, David Tutera, Debra Messing, Stanley Tucci, Natalie Portman, Chris Daughtry and Marisa Tomei.

    So, if Penne in a Spicy Sauce with Capers and Olives, Autumn Vegetables with Goat Cheese and Pumpkinseed Oil and Saffron Panna Cotta sound like your type of Italian delectables, head over to this site to download the book. If you’re from the USA, you can actually specify which Second Harvest you wish Barilla to send its contribution.

    Offer ends February 29th has been extended to March 31st!

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  • pixeltheatre 4:16 pm on February 21, 2008 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Christopher Walken, Hairspray, Mousehunt, Roasting, video   

    Roasting a chicken with Christopher Walken 

    Stumbled upon another cooking video site today, called I’m Cooked. It looks even more homespun than Active Cooks, except for one dash of stardust: Christopher Walken showing how to roast a chicken.

    (The clip above is from YouTube, but I saw the original on I’m Cooked). I haven’t seen much of Walken’s work. I know of his roles in Deer Hunter and Pulp Fiction, among others, but first saw him last Summer in Hairspray. So much for the tough guy image, I thought watching him, as Wilbur Turnblad, hoofing it with John Travolta as his wife. The next film I saw him in was Mousehunt with Nathan Lane and Lee Evans. He played a nutty pest exterminator, vanquished by the mouse of the house. Now, here he is, roasting a chicken… Nice bit of trivia: Walken’s parents were both bakers, and he grew up working in the family bakery in Queens, Walken’s Bakery.

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    • Michael Recchiuti 6:27 am on February 22, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      Yum,a perfect day for chicken. Check out my hot chocolate on a San Francisco Trolley.

      Michael Recchiuti

    • pixeltheatre 4:06 pm on February 22, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      Interesting video. Talk about guerilla marketing… 🙂

  • pixeltheatre 4:49 pm on February 19, 2008 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: book, , Dinner Impossible, Food Network, free, Mission Cook!, online, Robert Irvine   

    Mission Cook! by Robert Irvine – browse free online 

    Harper Collins is releasing a series of books people can read online for free. The one that caught my eye was the one by Robert Irvine, star of Dinner Impossible on the Food Network. You can access the full text of Mission: Cook! My Life, My Recipes, and Making the Impossible Easy here, or by clicking on the icon below for a preview (note not all chapters are available through the icon, but they are through the preceding link.)

    Browse Inside this book

    Get this for your site

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  • pixeltheatre 5:26 pm on February 15, 2008 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: chefs, , cooking shows, Cooking videos, restaurants,   

    Cooking videos websites 

    AnswersTV - The Food ChannelCame across a couple of cooking video sites today, courtesy of Ohio.com. The first one is called The Food Channel, part of the larger AnswersTV lifestyle network. Nice series of recipes and tips and tricks free videos. There is also an extensive series with Chefs and restaurants. Quite nice. In addition, you can pair these videos with the Wine Channel, and its  “Wine School”, another free series of videos on wine.

    The second one is Active Cooks. Think of it as the YouTube for aspiring tv chefs. Always wanted to have yourActive Cooks own cooking show? Here’s your platform! There’s a mixture of slick and homespun videos. The site has a little over 170 members and membership is free.

    Take out your pots and pans, get your “mise” ready and let the cameras roll…

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    • cookingciccio 10:41 am on February 22, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      This is just great!!! But if you want to see some good video of cooking italian, just come and visit my blog:


      Thanks for this great tips,


    • cookingciccio 10:44 am on February 22, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      AN other amazing thing!!! The picture on your blog is taken in NY Littel Italy and the Sambuca’s Café is a great friend of mine who’s running it. We are from the same hometown in Sicily. I went there in NY and I just visited him.

      See you on the web


    • pixeltheatre 3:59 pm on February 22, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      Merci Ciccio! And thanks for pinpointing the location of Sambuca. The picture came with the WordPress theme. I cropped it a bit.

      If anyone is interested, here’s the link to information on the restaurant: http://www.littleitalynyc.com/restaurant.asp?rest=SAMBUCAS

    • GaryR 2:52 pm on April 30, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      You have got to check out this new all-video cooking and recipes web site- http://www.inyourkitchen.com

    • Sam 9:29 am on May 13, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      Looked at http://www.inyourkitchen.com and that website is really good. I like the way you can see pro chefs cooking in the kitchen. Nice site too, usually cooking websites have too much going on and this one is really easy to find things and is pretty too.

    • Chimena 12:07 pm on May 15, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      Thanks for sharing the link to http://www.inyourkitchen.com I really like seeing the chefs too and the large video player makes them fun to watch

  • pixeltheatre 6:40 pm on February 13, 2008 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , Maria Liberati, ,   

    Maria Liberati and The Basic Art of Italian Cooking: Visiting Second Life 

    Maria Liberati - SL Writers Club RoundtableMaria Liberati, former super-model, now celebrity chef, stopped by Athena Isle today, as guest speaker for the Writers Club weekly meeting. She has just launched her second book, The Basic Art of Italian Cooking, available in stores and online at Amazon.

    The format of a roundtable made this particularly enjoyable. Before long, there were quite a few of us sitting around Cybergrrl Oh’s magical table (a new chair appears every time someone sits on one). Maria proved to be very comfortable fielding questions and moving around. Considering this was her first time in Second  Life, I was impressed. We touched on various topics, from the use of fresh ingredients as the key to Italian cooking, to the Slow Food movement, very common in Europe, and now gaining a foothold in North America. Maria explained that her book is not so much a collection of recipes, as a story, or a collection of stories related to various dishes and foods in Italy.

    Maria has a few plans in store, including a podcast and a television series featuring celebrities talking about what they like to eat and favorite recipes. The full transcript of the chat will be available a little later this week on the Second Life Writers Club website. Maria is one of the latest author to make Second Life a stop on a book tour.

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  • pixeltheatre 12:01 am on February 12, 2008 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , e-card, Google earth, Valentine   

    Free Valentine e-cards from Chocomap 

    Valentine e-cardFrom the folks who brought the Chocomap, free valentine e-cards, designed to let that person you really care, without the calories.

    Check it out at: Send an e-card bonbon

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