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Bouchon Bakery Challenge 2013

In 2012 I challenged myself to improve my bread-making skills.  While I did most of my baking in the first half of the year, I really enjoyed the challenge and feel like I learned a lot.  Specifically, I learned what adjustments I need to make to account for my altitude, and I feel more confident kneading and handling the dough.  I no longer feel intimidated by the idea of making bread and am ready to try branching out a bit.

For my 2013 challenge, I want to do something a little different.   For Christmas I received Thomas Keller’s new cookbook, Bouchon Bakery, co-written with Sebastien Rouxel.  It is a gorgeous book with so many wonderful-looking recipes.  Many of the recipes look fairly straight-forward, but there are also a lot that look time-consuming and challenging.  They all look delicious!

This is the type of book that I might enjoy looking at and dream of using, but potentially not get around to making many of the recipes.  To ensure I actually use this beautiful book, my challenge for 2013 is to make one recipe from Bouchon Bakery per month for the entire year.

There are 1o chapters in the book that contain recipes:

  • Cookies
  • Scones & Muffins
  • Cakes
  • Tarts
  • Pate A Choux
  • Brioche & Doughnuts
  • Puff Pastry & Croissants
  • Breads
  • Confections
  • Basics

I will make sure to hit each chapter at least once during the year.

Do you have a copy of Bouchon Bakery?  Would you like to join me in this challenge?  I will share my results the last Tuesday of each month, and will announce the following month’s recipe at the same time.  Feel free to join in and share your results each month!

For January 2013:  I decided to keep it simple this month and will be making Banana Muffins (pg. 81).  I will post my results on January 29!

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The Great Avocado Challenge!

The results are in!  I rose to the Great Avocado Challenge and was a success!  We ate all 12 avocados without having to throw any of them away.  On the final night, I did have to scrape some dark parts off the last half avocado, but otherwise we used them all.  Here’s the rundown:

Note: Pictures can be enlarged by clicking on them.

Sunday, December 12

We’d had a party weekend with lots of eating, so by Sunday night I was ready for a big salad.  I cut up half an avocado to top our salads.  Avocado Count: .5

Big Salad

Monday, December 13

For lunch, I made a bean and cheese quesadilla and made a simple guacamole with the second half of Sunday’s avocado. Avocado Count: 1

Quesadilla

Dinner was a Ham, Turkey, Avocado and Alfalfa Sprout Panini from 200 Best Panini Recipes.  We really liked this sandwich; it had a very nice blending of flavors. Avocado Count: 2

Panini

Tuesday, December 14

For dinner on Tuesday, I went out on a limb and tried California Tomato Pasta from the California Avocado Commission’s website.  This would be a good recipe to serve on a hot day in the summer, because the sauce is a cold one.  I made a few modifications from the original recipe: I halved the recipe, and I substituted a can of drained chopped tomatoes for the fresh.

This one was met with mixed results.  I liked it, but probably won’t make it again.  My husband didn’t really care for it, but my daughter gobbled it down and had seconds and thirds.  Avocado Count: 3.5

California Tomato Pasta

Wednesday, December 15

Wednesday started with a sandwich for lunch.  I made something similar to Monday’s panini since I had leftover ingredients.  I used sourdough bread, grainy mustard, ham, cheddar, sliced avocado and alfalfa spouts.  Avocado Count: 4

Sandwich

Next up is another “experimental” recipe: Avocado-Banana Bread, also from the California Avocado Commission site.  Although the flavors were good, I had some issues with this recipe.  The amount of flour seemed off (I added some) and I should have done my “high altitude adjustment”, which I don’t normally have to do for quick breads.  It was a very moist bread with a nice flavor and my husband really liked it.  I didn’t take a picture, because it just wasn’t attractive.  Avocado Count: 5

For dinner, I made a Southwest Black Bean Salad from Moosewood Restaurant Simple Suppers.  I served it with Southwestern Cheese Soup, also from the same cookbook.  This meal was a big hit that everyone enjoyed.  Avocado Count: 6 (halfway there!)

Southwestern Salad

Thursday, December 16

For breakfast I had sourdough toast topped with a fried egg, melted cheddar and sliced avocado.  Yummy!  Avocado Count: 6.25

Toast

Thursday’s dinner was good, old-fashioned tacos with guacamole.  When my husband came home from work and saw what we were having, he said, “Finally!”.  This was probably our favorite meal of the challenge.  Avocado Count: 7.25

Tacos

My daughter had a “taco bowl” with diced avocado.  This is the first time we tried this, and she really liked it!  Avocado Count: 7.5

Taco Bowl

Friday, December 17

Once again, I decided to try something a little different.  I made avocado ice cream!  Specifically, Avocado-Mango Ice Cream.  This ice cream has a smooth, creamy texture and lovely green color.  The flavor is fruity and not-too-sweet.  In my opinion the mango is a must – I don’t believe I would like an “all avocado” ice cream.  I really liked this, my husband wasn’t so sure about the unconventional flavor, although he did eat more another night.  I would recommend it to those who like fruity ice creams.  However, I don’t think I will make this again because there are so many other flavors of ice cream I like better!  Avocado Count: 9

Ice Cream

Dinner Friday night was “Supper Nachos” with more guacamole.  The Supper Nachos were based off a recipe my Mom used to make.  To make my version, I spread some leftover refried black beans on individual plates, topped that with leftover taco meat, and sprinkled shredded cheddar cheese on top.  Bake in the oven at 425° until hot and bubbly.  Serve with tortilla chips for scooping the hot, melted yumminess.  Avocado Count: 10.5

Saturday, December 18

We needed a break and didn’t eat a single bite of avocado!

Sunday, December 19

Sunday’s dinner was Chipotle Roast Chicken Tacos with South-of-the-Border Coleslaw with Cilantro and Jalapeno.  The tacos were different from any tacos I’ve had before, but very delicious.  They had these wonderful roasted onions on them that added a sweet flavor.  Avocado Count: 11.5 (almost there!)

Chicken Tacos

Monday, December 20

Our final avocado meal was leftover tacos from Sunday night.  Avocado Count: 12!

Conclusion

I never want to eat 12 avocados in one week again, even though they were delicious.  I did learn a couple of things:  1) I prefer more “traditional” ways to use avocados, and 2) I shouldn’t be afraid of having an extra avocado or two around the house.  It’s easy to add them to a sandwich or breakfast.  I usually buy single avocados even though sometimes a small bag of them looks appealing.  I’ve been afraid they wouldn’t get used.  Now I know I could find uses for them.

I hope you found my avocado challenge entertaining!  It was fun trying to come up with different ways to use them all.

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