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Poached Egg

Jenn and Jill have challenged The Daring Cooks to learn to perfect the technique of poaching an egg. They chose Eggs Benedict recipe from Alton Brown, Oeufs en Meurette from Cooking with Wine by Anne Willan, and Homemade Sundried Tomato & Pine Nut Seitan Sausages (poached) courtesy of Trudy of Veggie num num.

So I was a little apprehensive when I saw this month’s challenge. First, I am not much of an egg eater so there was that hurdle to overcome. Second, I was plagued with flashbacks from Julia & Julia when Julie went through almost an entire carton of eggs trying to poach them for a recipe. My nerves were getting the better of me. Luckily, the holidays have been keeping my crazy busy, so I couldn’t obsess too much about all the in’s and out’s of poaching eggs and really just stuck to the advice from our hostesses and dove right in.

Amazingly, I didn’t have to go through a whole box of eggs to get three poached eggs. There were actually no real issues at all. I don’t know if they were the most beautiful poached eggs ever created, but they tasted good so I was happy. Chalk it up to beginner’s luck or some really good advice from our hostesses. but the process of poaching eggs was not nearly as frightening as I had been imagining it to be.

For the challenge we were provided with two recipes, but we were also given the option to use another recipe of our choosing, as long as it involved the technique of poaching. I settled on a Root Vegetable Hash with Poached Eggs and Parsley Pesto recipe that I found on Epicurious. Let me just tell you, this recipe is out of this world!

Poached Egg

Now, you may be looking at these pictures scratching your head and wondering where the pesto is. Rightly so. Unfortunately, in my rush to get some pictures taken before the meal got cold, I completely forgot to dress the plates with the pesto. Then I was so consumed by what an awesome meal I was eating, and I totally forgot about the pesto until we were halfway through the meal. Doh! But, that just goes to show that with or without the pesto it was still an amazing dish! The pesto not only added an additional depth of flavor, but also provided a much needed pop of festive color on this otherwise monotone plate.

The September 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Mandy of “What the Fruitcake?!” Mandy challenged everyone to make Decorated Sugar Cookies based on recipes from Peggy Porschen and The Joy of Baking.

Somehow I have made it 30+ years in life and never made sugar cookies from scratch. Something about that “advanced preparation” tag at the beginning of the recipe always seems to steer me in a different direction, usually towards a cookie that can be baked and eaten in under an hour of when I decide I’m craving some cookies. So, the prospect of finally taking on this labor-of-love cookie seemed pretty exciting.

The mandatory components of this challenge where that we made a basic sugar cookie from scratch from the provided recipe, and that we decorated the cookies with the theme of “September.”

We were allowed to make variations to the sugar cookie dough by adding our own flavorings, and we could opt to make the royal icing from scratch or use a store bought mix.

After taking stock of what ingredients I already had in the kitchen I decided to make my sugar cookies and royal icing using the recipes included in Colleen Patrick-Goudreau’s The Joy of Vegan Baking. When thinking about the theme of September, I decided that for me, this September has really been all about the anticipation of all the wonderful Fall flavors that will soon be gracing all my favorite products and recipes (think pumpkin everything for the next two months!). So in honor of this, I decided to add 1 1/2 teaspoons of homemade pumpkin pie spice to the cookie dough. I also dusted the decorated cookies with more of the pumpkin pie spice after the royal icing had begun to set up.

Sadly, (as usual) I had some issues with rolling all the dough to the same thickness and had some cookies that didn’t survive the baking process, but those that persevered (ie., were rolled to the appropriate thickness) were super delicious and just the right thing to get my “celebration of Fall flavors” started!

If you would like to get all of the challenge recipes for the sugar cookies and royal icing please follow this link to download the printable PDF. There is a wealth of information on decorating with royal icing that really makes it worth the download!

Thanks for a great challenge Mandy!

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