Sunday, August 31, 2008
In other words, today is the Daring Bakers posting day.
This month, in case you've been hiding under a rock this morning, we are making Chocolate Eclairs from Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Herme.
In the course of my eighteen months as a Daring Baker I have had the pleasure of making pate a choux, pastry cream, and lots and lots of chocolate glaze but I hadn't been able to put them all together, until this month that is. Thus using one of Lisa's husband's Sharpies to cross off my baking bucket list, eclairs.
The Culinary Institute of America defines chocolate eclairs as "Loaded with a creamy filling and its delicate, flaky pastry glossed with chocolate icing, the dessert eclair has withstood the test of time as a pastry favorite." And if those eclairs are from the genius of Pierre Herme from a cookbook written by patron saint of Daring Bakers, Dorie Greenspan then that is even better!
I'm not going to bore you with a step by step and blow by blow play of how the recipe went together and/or any kitchen disasters/triumphs as there are over 1,000 blogs of my fellow DBers to provide that entertainment. I'm just going to tell you that these eclairs were pretty easy to make and resulted in a mind blowing impressive dessert, just ask Erica and Chris who shared some with me one evening.
The pastry cream alone is worth doing this recipe for and I guarantee you will want to find a million uses for it, including facials and well....this is a family blog so I won't go into details but trust me, you and your partner could have a lot of fun with it! And for a late night post fun raid of the fridge, you can have leftover eclairs!!
You know what they say about the way to a man's heart right? (wink)
Meeta of What's for Lunch Honey and Tony from Tony Tahhan are hosts for our challenge this month and you can find the recipe on their blogs if you want to give the king of desserts a try. Or, if you want to oogle hundreds and thousands of eclairs without putting inches on your hips I suggest you head over to the Daring Bakers Blogroll and get your fill.
Also, a heads up, I'm taking a break for a few months from Daring Bakers to take care of some personal and professional things going on in my life as well as to refocus my baking/cooking.
For those of you "checking" on the DB posts for participation, our glorious leaders Lisa and Ivonne know and are being super supportive. So, as my alter-ego Norma Shearer
sings in the reel version (he-he) of "The Women" (not that drivel they are showing in the movie theaters this summer/fall), "Don't talk about me while I'm gone...."
Saturday, August 30, 2008
Tonight, I stopped by Whole Paycheck to pick up some honey for a dish I'm baking with Sara, some milk for a throw down with friends tonight, and some more of those addicting chicken sausages for the Labor Day weekend (I know....). While I was trying to see if they had some orange water to add to the dish I'm baking with Sara, a clerk came into the aisle with all the baking supplies with a woman in tow to show her several muffin mixes.
While they were talking about the pros and cons of different mixes and asking each other and another shopper in the aisle as conversation was struck up and come to find out, she was going to be making muffins for about 30 people. She would have had to purchase six boxes of muffin mix to accommodate that many people as the mix she was looking at only made 6 - 8 good sized muffins (planning on 1 1/2 muffins per person). It was decided she was going to do apple cinnamon muffins. I gave her a short cut to having to peel and dice apples by using a large jar of apple pie filling and a small container of apple sauce.
We discussed a few tips and I handed her my baking card with the offer of if she had any questions email me and in fact, email as I would give her my master quick bread recipe. I then thought on the drive home, she can't be the only person who faces large scale baking issues.
When you reach numbers like that, you are much better off baking your own from a recipe versus a then thought box, especially when you are talking about something as easy to put together as muffins. Especially since by the time you put together six boxes of mix you could have put together one or two large batches of batter from scratch. Muffins are just about the easiest things to put together and they are pretty darn no fail.
Here are a few things you need for large scale muffin baking:
A. muffin tin for 12 muffins. Two is better but one will do
B. cup cake papers
C. large (5 qt) mixing bowl or stew/stock pot
D. 2 cooling racks (you can substitute by taking the insert from the broiling pan and flipping it over)
E. Electric hand mixer is nice if you have it
Here we go with:
Apple Cinnamon Muffins for 30
7 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 3/4 cups granulated sugar (we are going to cut back because the apple pie filling and apple sauce will contain sugar)
2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 tablespoons and 1 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon and 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp nutmeg (optional)
1 2/3 cups vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups milk
1 25 once jar of apple pie filling, mashed
1 small tub of apple sauce
Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees. Crack eggs into bowl, making sure there are no shells and set aside.
In large bowl, sift together flour, sugar, salt, baking soda, and cinnamon. Stir in eggs, vegetable oil, milk, apple pie filling and apple sauce. Batter should be thick but moist. If it is too dry, add a little more milk until you have a batter the consistency of thick brownie batter.
Using an ice cream scoop or soup ladle sprayed with cooking spray, fill 2/3 full muffin tin lined with cup cake papers and sprayed lightly with cooking spray.
Top each muffin with a sprinkling of granulated sugar to add a crunch to the top and bake for 17 - 20 minutes or until a tooth pick comes clean inserted in the middle of a muffin in the center of the pan. Allow muffins to cool for 2 -4 minutes in the pan and then turn out and finish cooling on cooling racks.
Repeat until batter is gone.
After placing LB's litter box, his food, and water bowl down on the floor of the bathroom, I unpacked from the box under my arm a ratty and worn blanket and placed it on the floor in a pile so that one wall and the bathtub formed a snug comfortable corner. I then opened the carrier and let LB out; giving him a few minutes of love before shutting the door to let my parents and the friends who had come to help me move into the apartment with the first load of many, many loads of my possessions.
This week has brought some finality to my move to Connecticut. While I still love Boston and do believe that one day, and probably not in the too distant future, I will return to live there, the ache of leaving has finally been replaced with the warm glow of fond memories.
To my great amazement, I have formed lasting bonds with my new place of residence and the people who surround me here and in ways I never formed bonds with Boston. I have many good and dear friends in Boston but Boston being Boston and that portion of New England being well, that portion of New England with the exception of those few friends, I never made connection with my neighbors and colleagues the way I have here.
Northern New England can be a hard place to live if you are not "from there". I think I had lived there for ten years before someone finally told me, "you've been here long enough now that we figure you aren't going anywhere soon so we may as well start talking to you". Apparently, according to the New York Times this past week, that point of acceptance is somewhere between twelve and eighteen months. I believe it too.
Because here, I've gotten to know and become quite friendly with my neighbors, with the exception of the woman who just moved in behind us who insists on sharing her most intimate details of life with the entire neighborhood when she stands on her backporch at all hours of the day shouting into her cellphone and screaming and throwing things at the people who party on her back porch "to get out of her house" at 2am resulting in multiple visits from the police....but I digress.
I have developed what I consider close and lasting friendships with quite a few people and yes, I now know my way around the subway system of NYC and the city for that matter well enough to now direct lost and upward looking tourists to their destination.
This week, as the first blush of fall made itself known at night with temperatures that dipped into the low 50's and afternoon temperatures in the low to middle 70's, I found myself reaching for a blanket to ward off the chill either early in the morning or when napping.
It is the same blanket that one year ago I pulled out of the box and carefully arranged for LB to curl up in one year ago. There is something about that blanket, a blanket that I have had for forty years, that LB loves. When ever it makes its appearance he comes and starts kneading and rolling on the blanket before finding a section to curl up and take a long nap.
At first, I tried to stop him from doing that because of its rather delicate state, but now I find comfort in his wanting to make my nap blanket his. It is as if he is making me completely and totally his and, in a way, showing me that when he wandered onto my porch on that rainy day almost ten years ago to this day, he was finally coming home.
It seems that I have come home too...
Weekend Cat Blogging is being hosted this week by Puddy and Kate at "A Byootaful Life". Go see what all the other kitties have been up all week, including Puddy, who like LB, has "another cat that what gets into trouble" living with her. Must be LB's twin...
Friday, August 29, 2008
Last weekend, I went to some dear friends house to help them christen their new Kitchen Aid mixer with a round of pasta making. I had a fabulous time with them and some of their friends from New Jersey who came up to help. We had a wonderful bread salad with good sweet Jersey tomatoes while we waited for the dough to relax and then built up an enormous appetite making about 4lbs of fettucine. To serve with the pasta, we had some incredible "gravy" (spaghetti sauce) and chicken Italian sausages from Whole Paycheck.
I have to admit, I had my reservations about Italian sausages made from chicken but one bite of these and I was hooked and hooked in a bad way. So much so that on Sunday, I drove to the Greenwich location and some sausages and grilled them for dinner that night.
Now even though I would like to think so, I can not live on grilled chicken Italian sausage alone. One needs to have a salad to go with them. Since I felt guilty about purchasing the sausages and sorta-kinda cheating on the Pantry Plan (the sausages were only $4.21 and were almost half of the $9.00 I spent on groceries last week), I was determined to stick to making a salad out of the ingredients I had on hand.
Digging around the pantry, I found I had 1/2 a bag of tri-colored rotini pasta. I also had a tone of ripe grape tomatoes and a green bell pepper from my garden that needed to be used. These were all I needed to make a pasta salad I haven't made in a while from a cookbook I haven't opened in almost two years. The cookbook I used for this challenge is one I've used for WCC before way back for Weekend Cookbook Challenge #3, Simply Delicious Cooking by Ron Kalenuik.
The original recipe calls for broccoli and green onions, which I normally use but since I didn't have either on hand and I wanted to keep within the spirit of the Pantry Plan as much as possible, chicken sausages not withstanding, I didn't use them for this version of the salad. The salad is an excellent side dish for anything you throw on the grill: chicken, steaks, hamburgers and hot dogs.
A Tri Color Pasta Salad
Adapted from Simply Delicious Cooking by Ron Kalenuik
4 cups multi-colored rotini, cooked
1 bell pepper diced small
1 cup grape tomatoes, cut in half
1/2 tsp parsley (dried spice) or 1 Tbsp finely chopped fresh
1/2 tsp oregano (dried) or 1 Tbsp finely chopped fresh
1/2 tsp coriander (dried) or 2 tsp finely chopped cilantro
3 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp dry mustard
1/2 tsp celery seeds (optional)
2 Tbsp cider vinegar
2 Tbsp lemon juice, fresh squeezed
2/3 cup safflower oil
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup shredded Romano cheese
Cook pasta to al dente, cool with cold water to stop pasta from cooking, drain and set aside.
Prepare pepper, tomatoes and combine with pasta in large bowl and set aside.
In medium bowl, whisk remaining ingredients including and add salt and pepper to taste. Pour dressing over pepper, tomatoes and pasta and mix well. Chill for 4 hours before serving. Mix in cheese just before serving.
Now, I know that recipe isn't exactly 100% in keeping with the monthly theme Sara picked for Weekend Cookbook Challenge. So, I offer one more dish for this month's WCC in the form of my favourite way to make chicken on the grill with a family recipe, my Aunt Jan's Chicken.
This recipe makes a brine that you boil the chicken in and then use the brine as a basting sauce. The best pieces of a chicken to use for this recipe are legs and thighs. But breasts are pretty tasty too and the brining makes them super tender and moist.
A family recipe for a brine and basting sauce
1 1/2 quart water
1 3/4 cup cider vinegar
2 1/2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
2 Tbsp garlic salt
1/4 cup sugar
2 tsp pepper
1/2 cup butter
1 Tbsp salt
Bring ingredients to boil and add chicken. Boil chicken for 15 minutes. Remove chicken from brine and remove two cups of brine to use a basting sauce. Grill chicken for about 5 - 10 minutes until chicken if finished cooking, basting and turning the chicken often.
Thursday, August 28, 2008
I have to tell you that this month was a tough month for us to decide what to bake. We tossed a few ideas around but one thing became evident at the beginning of the month, we wanted to do a light, flat bread to go with the lazy and hot days of late August. Finally, Ilva of Lucullian Delights suggested we do a whole wheat country style pita bread from Beth Hensberger's The Bread Bible.
Most of us have had pita bread on our bread bucket list and pita bread is one of the most versatile breads. You can make a wrap with it. You can eat it spread with peanut butter or dipped in a sauce. Or you can do what I did with it: stuff it full of meatballs and left-over ricotta cheese stuffing!
The dough came together quickly and forming the pita bread was easy. The recipe says it makes sixteen but it is only me so I halved the recipe like Tanna. Like Tanna says in her post, don't worry if you don't get pockets in all of them. The bread is super tasty any way it turns out.
If you want to try your hand at making some homemade pita bread, head over to Ilva's to get the recipe and since she is "Host Kitchen of the Month", if you get her a link to your bread on your blog or a photo of your bread before September 10th, you can be a Bread Baking Buddy with us,
If you have a hankering to see how the rest of my fellow Babes, A Fridge Full of Food (Glenna), Bake My Day (Karen), Cookie Baker Lynn (Lynn), I Like to Cook (Sara), Lucullian Delights (Ilva), My Kitchen in Half Cups (Tanna), Grain Doe (Gorel), Notitie van Lien (Lien), Living on Bread and Water (Monique) go see their posts! Katie is taking a break while she moves to her new home.
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
Here is a look back at the Kitchen Garden of 2008
Tomato and Cucumber Plant in Late June 2008
Peppers, Grape Tomatoes, and Basil Plants Late June 2008
Rosemary in June
Green Tomatoes in July
The First Cukes and Beans from the Garden
This weekend I'll plant the fall spinach and lettuce, prepare the soil in the containers for a long winter's sleep and when the snow flies in February there will be canned tomatoes from the Garden of 2008.
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
When I returned home from work I had a nice container of tea waiting for a tall glass of ice and me. Tonight, it was the perfect way to wind down while I watched the bats play in the dusk and the first geese of the season start south.
Fall may be on the way but I've stolen a bit of summer to put in a glass...
Monday, August 25, 2008
This past weekend, while catching up on a few of the food blogs I saw on Dog Hill Kitchen a list of one hundred foods a vegetarian should not miss. The list was compiled over at Feeding Maybelle and, while I am not a vegetarian, I do try and eat a vegetarian meal at least once or twice a week. So, I thought I'd see how many of these foods I've had.
Feel free to play along. Rules are the same as the Omnivore's Hundred, bold the ones you've had and cross off the ones you aren't interested in trying. Feel free to leave a comment over at Feeding Maybelle with your results!
The Vegetarian's Hundred
Note: "?" links to what it is in case you need to know.
- Edamame (?)
- Cha Soba (?)
- Earth Balance Buttercream
- "Homemade" sprouts
- Green Bamboo Rice (?)
- Eat at a raw restaurant
- Fresh (real) wasabi
- Deep fried pickle
- Fiddleheads (?)
- Garlic stuffed olives
- Smen (?)
- Goji Berries (?)
- Shiso or Perilla (?) /
- Amaranth (?)
- Pomegranate molasses (?)
- Water convulvulus (Water Spinach) (?)
- Pea eggplant, Thai eggplant, green eggplant, Japanese eggplant, Indian eggplant, Sicilian eggplant...
- A Zen Buddhist Vegan Meal (?)
- Kohya Dofu (?)
- Wild Asparagus (?)
- Elderberry (?)
- Candlenuts (kemiri) (?)
- Salsify (?)
- Nutritional Yeast (?)
- Pandan (?)
- Roman cauliflower(?)
- Anything with acorn flour (?)
- Poi (?)
- Chaya (tree spinach) (?)(Sounds like the Vegetarian Fugu)
- Pitahaya (dragon fruit) (?)
- Asafoetida (?)
- Fried plantains
- Basil seeds (?)
- Durian (?)
- Ground Cherry or cape gooseberry (?)
- Fresh waterchestnut (?)
- Cashewnut cheese
- Nettles (?)
- Fake duck from a can, tofurky, or any prepared vegetarian product to resemble meat
- Kimchi (?)
- Masala Dosa (?)
- Lotus Seed (?)
- Matcha (?)
- Loubie Bzeit (?)
- Quince (?)
- Blue Potatoes (?)
- Injera (?)(Just about one of my favorite meals and ways to eat!)
- Nasturtium (?)
- Turkish Delight or Lokum (?)
- Spruce tips (?)
- Breadfruit (?)
- Mangosteen (?)
- Swede or Rutabaga (?)
- Garlic Scapes (?)
- Lavash (?)
- Candied Angelica (?)
- Rambutan (?)
- Sambal (?)
- Bhutanes Red Rice (?)
- Candy-cane or Chioggia beets (?)
- Ras el Hanout(?)
- Vegan marshmallow (?)
- Umeboshi (?)
- Red Currants (?)
- Puy or French lentils (?)
- Millet (?)
- Fresh Bamboo shoot (?)
- Jerusalem artichoke (?)
- Wild strawberry (?)
- Jambool (?)
- Po cha or Yak butter Tea (?)
- Adzuki beans (?)
- Shirataki (?)
- Manioc, yuca, cassava (?)
- Quinoa (?)
- Ramps (?)
- Chufa (?)
- Purslane (?)
- Curry Leaves (Kadipatta) (?)
- Sorrel (?)
- Sumac (?)
- Vegan cupcake
- Montreal bagel (?)
- Peri-peri (?)
- Syllabub (?)
- Chartreuse (?)
- Kamut berries (?)
- Kalamansi Lime (?)
- Aloe (?)
- Morels (?)
- Raw “bread”
- Dandelion wine
- Rosti (?)
- Stinky tofu (?) (Hey, I did Durian so I think I've got my life quota of overly stinky food!)
- Something grown by you
Hey, I've had 56 of these 100! Not bad...
Saturday, August 23, 2008
as long as Mom has left me something to prop my head on while I nap, I'm a happy cat!
Weekend Cat Blogging is being hosted by Samantha, Mr. Tigger, and Mom Chandra at The Squillion Worlds Spin. Go check out what the other kitties are up to this weekend.
Friday, August 22, 2008
Even harder to believe is that in that year, it took me until this past May to make it to the very first restaurant I noticed when I moved to the neighborhood, Partner's Cafe and Pizzeria.
From the very first time I walked into this cozy neighborhood spot, I felt like I was coming home because regardless of whether it is your first time there or you are a regular, the Spinola's and their friendly staff greet you like family or a long lost cousin with a huge hello. This is definitely a neighborhood type of place where, just like Cheers everyone knows your name.
Even better, it is exactly three blocks from where I live so I can walk down anytime I feel the urge for a beer and wings or a nice salad. In fact, I haven't felt this at home since I was living in Clinton, Ma and called The Old Timer home, so that is saying quite a lot!
Partner's has two sides: the bar side that has an oak colored bar with a few tables for dining and the restaurant side that is small but can easily accommodate a good sized party. The bar is well stocked with all the standard beers including the one that is a requirement for me to even begin to consider it as my "local", Bass Ale and they have all the fixings for just about any cocktail you can think of. You can get the same menu on both sides; which I find great for dining alone with a book or newspaper.
The menu is diverse ranging from the typical bar fare to the full dinner of steak. The leaning is towards the Italian end of the spectrum as is fitting but if you want something a little different, don't hesitate to ask. Chances are they are able to adjust any dish to your liking. On one evening when Erica, Chris, Erica's sister who was visiting and I went down for dinner, Erica's sister asked for just steamed veggies and some rice and they were more than happy to fix her exactly what she wanted! Try to do that in NYC or for that matter in some other little neighborhood joints.
Partner's is known in the area for their thin crust pizza and as someone who prefers super crispy thin crust, I can tell you I haven't had this good of thin crust since I was in Italy. It stays crisp no matter what you put on top and that is the sign of a good recipe for crust. My personal favorite pizza is a sausage, mushroom and onion light on the sauce. It is even listed as my craving of the moment on my Foodbuzz profile because this pizza is so good all I have to do is think about it and I'm ready to run down three blocks and order up on. It is that good.
They have a few happy hour specials that run during the week including Wine and Wings on Wednesdays where you can get a glass of wine for $5 and an order of wings for 10 for .20 with a limit of 2 orders. You can normally find Chris, Erica and I there on Wednesdays partaking of some of the best wings I've had outside of Buffalo regardless of how hot or mild you like them.
And speaking of specials, let me tell you about a special dessert that they don't have on the menu but if Ernie is working you can get, the Freta Sundae.
This delicious, no strike that, this decadent dessert is Ernie's invention and consists of a disc of fried dough covered in chocolate sauce, powdered sugar and whipped topping and served with a bowl of Hood vanilla ice cream.
It is like eating a gigantic flat donut covered in two of the best things known to man, chocolate and ice cream. I could just eat this for dinner but trust me, it is more fun to share with a friend. You tear off a piece of dough and put a dollop of ice cream on it and eat it. It is slightly messy but oh so good!
Ernie is hoping to have it on the menu full time soon and I hope it makes it to the menu because I can't imagine a trip to Partner's without ending a good meal with one of these.
Partner's is located on the corner of Cove and 1st Street in East Norwalk. They are open seven days a week at 11:30am, serving food until 10pm and pizza until 11pm. The bar is open later and you can get take away. Prices are reasonable and service is excellent.
Thursday, August 21, 2008
When this month's issue of Saveur arrived I knew the minute I saw this recipe I would be making it.
First, like everyone who has zucchini, by this time of the summer like everyone else, I'm swimming in zucchini. Second, I love ricotta stuffed anything and I always have a tub of it in the fridge.
This recipe was super easy to put together and the filling was so delicious that I plan making it again stuff some eggplant I have in a fridge and to fill some large pasta shells in the pantry. I made some adjustments for my own personal taste and to match some ingredients I had on hand to keep the recipe Pantry Plan friendly.
If you are in danger of being buried by an avalanche of zucchini, go pick out a few same sized ones, call some friends over for dinner, and make these! You can cut them up into small sizes as appetizers or cut them in half to serve as a sides to nice grilled chicken breast or they make a the perfect summer main dish with some sweet corn salad.
Ricotta Stuffed Zucchini
adapted from the August/September issue of Saveur
6 medium zucchini, sliced in half lengthwise
7 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 yellow onion, finely chopped
2 cups ricotta cheese
3/4 cup grated Romano cheese
3/4 cup Italian seasoned Panko breadcrumbs
3 Tbsp freshly chopped marjoram
2 tsp chopped fresh sage
1 large egg, beaten
Fresh ground pepper
Fresh grated Parmesan cheese
Scoop out and discard the pulp from each zucchini half, leaving as much of the meat intact as possible. Heat 3 Tbsp of the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onions and saute until soft and then add garlic, cook for 2 minutes more or until you smell strong smell of garlic. Remove from heat and set aside.
In a medium bowl, stir together remaining ingredients except egg. Add salt and pepper to taste and stir in egg. Set filling aside.
Arrange an oven rack about 7" from broiler element. Brush insides of zucchini with remaining olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Broil zucchini, oiled side up, for about 5 - 7 minutes until flesh is just starting to soften.
Remove from oven, fill with each zucchini half with ricotta cheese filling (about 1/2 a cup per zucchini half), sprinkle desired amount of fresh grated Parmesan cheese on top and broil until the zucchini are soft and the tops of the cheese are browned.
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
This month's theme is retro recipes from the 20's through the late 60's and I can't wait to spend some time hangin' with my buds.
If you haven't figured it out yet, I'm delving back into the Sixties again for this month's blog party but instead of the Camelot years of last month's contribution we are heading for the Summer of Love for my retro contribution this month with a trio of classic summer salads from the Better Homes and Gardens Salad Book circa 1967.
It doesn't get more classic than these three salads: Four Bean Salad, Macaroni Salad and Cucumber Dill Salad.
There wasn't a picnic or back yard party of that era that didn't feature these three salads and for the most part these salads are still mainstays of the picnic set.
The salad that I thought most captured this era was this version of Cucumber Dill Salad. It is from the "Slimming Salads" section of this cookbook and this recipe calls for 1/4 cup of liquid saccharin. I didn't use saccharin instead I made a sugar syrup to keep the liquid component of the recipe.
For my drink, I am sticking with the slimming theme and bringing a six pack of that defining diet drink of the 60's, Tab!
Yes, they still make Tab and if you are of a certain age, like me, this probably was your first diet drink and you stole it from the fridge where your Mom kept her stash. Amazingly, it still contains saccharin. Pretty keno huh?
It tasted just like I remembered it tasting but unlike today's diet drinks that are loaded with aspartame it didn't give me a headache. I'm not saying I'm going to be having a soda every day but instead of dumping the rest of the six pack down the drain, I'm stashing it into the pantry for those days I'm craving a soda.
Cucumber and Dill Salad
adapted from the 1967 edition of Better Homes and Gardens Salad Book
3 medium cucumbers
1/2 medium onion
1/3 cup cider vinegar
1/4 cup sugar syrup (1/4 cup sugar and 1/8 cup water, follow these directions)
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup fresh dill chopped
Make sugar syrup and set aside. Slice cucumbers and onions and put in large plastic container with a lid. To sugar syrup add vinegar and salt, mix until completely combined. Pour over the cucumbers and onions and stir in dill. Let salad flavors meld for 6 hours or overnight before serving.
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
- When I finally end this plan, I'm never ever shopping at a grocery store without a list again
- I'm never making a grocery list again without first making a menu plan
- I'm having fun trying to find recipes that match the contents of my pantry; especially the older cookbooks like The Victory Binding of The American Woman's Cookbook and the budget meal section many of the Better Homes and Garden cookbooks from the 60's and 70's
- My pantry is much bigger and better stocked than I first imagined and even after six weeks, I feel like I've barely made a dent in the excess of food
One of the most pleasant surprises for me came this weekend. I opened a can of sardines in mustard sauce for a quick and light lunch on Sunday. While the sardines warmed over a candle, I made homemade melba toast with some left over bread and sliced some some good Dutch cheese I have been hoarding since Arden's visit to go with the warmed sardines.
As I waited for the melba toast to finish, I looked up at the picture that sits on top of my bookcase in my kitchen of my grandfather and I sitting at the end of his dock, fishing poles in the water and a picnic basket at our feet. Inside that picnic basket was a tin of sardines, a package of saltines and some cheese; the meal we always shared when we were fishing together, and that meal was a special as the time we spent fishing.
Blowing a kiss towards my grandfather, I sat down at my breakfast bar, opened the book I was reading and proceeded to have a very pleasant lunch. I have The Pantry Plan to thank for more than helping me save money and empty my pantry.
I have The Pantry Plan to thank for reminding how good sardines are and for letting me savor such wonderful memories of the time I spent with my grandfather.
Pantry Plan Update - Week Six:
I didn't shop for food at either the store or the Farmer's Market this past weekend. I still had plenty of veggies from last week, my milk is good, and my garden is just going gangbusters. So, the total for groceries this week is $0.00.
Pantry Plan To Date Grocery Totals:
$63.85 including Farmer's Market, non-home grown vegetables, and dairy/perishable goods
Monday, August 18, 2008
Judging from my results, 88 out of 100, I guess all that world travel and not being a picky eater paid off!
Feel free to play along.
1) Copy this list into your blog or journal, including these instructions.
2) Bold all the items you’ve eaten.
3) Cross out any items that you would never consider eating.
4) Optional extra: Post a comment here at www.verygoodtaste.co.uk linking to your results.
The VGT Omnivore’s Hundred:
1. Venison (I grew up in N. Michigan, raised in a family of hunters. Also see Roadkill)
2. Nettle tea
3. Huevos rancheros
4. Steak tartare
5. Crocodile (Tastes like stringy chicken. Also see snake)
6. Black pudding
7. Cheese fondue
10. Baba ghanoush
13. PB&J sandwich (First midnight snack I have any new house)
14. Aloo gobi (One of my favourite dishes at any good Indian restaurant)
15. Hot dog from a street cart (In NYC for a meeting at least once a week, of COURSE!)
16. Epoisses (one of my FAVOURITE cheeses)
17. Black truffle
18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes
19. Steamed pork buns
20. Pistachio ice cream
21. Heirloom tomatoes
22. Fresh wild berries
23. Foie gras
24. Rice and beans
25. Brawn, or head cheese
26. Raw Scotch Bonnet pepper (I like it hot but not THAT hot)
27. Dulce de leche
30. Bagna cauda
31. Wasabi peas
32. Clam chowder in a sourdough bowl
33. Salted lassi
35. Root beer float
36. Cognac with a fat cigar (after every job I tune!)
37. Clotted cream tea
38. Vodka jelly/Jell-O
41. Curried goat
42. Whole insects (Does swallowing a bug while on the back of a motorcycle count?)
44. Goat’s milk
45. Malt whisky from a bottle worth £60/$120 or more (Um, Duh...I don't drink any Scotch that isn't legal)
47. Chicken tikka masala
49. Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut
50. Sea urchin
51. Prickly pear
55. McDonald’s Big Mac Meal
57. Dirty gin martini
58. Beer above 8% ABV
60. Carob chips
61. S’mores (It should be illegal to put S'mores after Carob chips)
65. Durian (considering what you have to do to get past the smell, it just wasn't worth it)
66. Frogs’ legs
67. Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake
69. Fried plantain
70. Chitterlings, or andouillette
72. Caviar and blini (At almost every meal when I was in Moscow)
73. Louche absinthe (Oh but I want to!)
74. Gjetost, or brunost
75. Roadkill (Yes, my mom got a deer with the jeep this past hunting season. Michigan DNR let her keep it as she had a doe tag. Made good jerky!)
76. Baijiu (You want me to remember this?!)
77. Hostess Fruit Pie
79. Lapsang souchong
81. Tom yum
82. Eggs Benedict
84. Tasting menu at a three-Michelin-star restaurant.
85. Kobe beef
90. Criollo chocolate
92. Soft shell crab
93. Rose harissa
95. Mole poblano
96. Bagel and lox (Hello...I live within spitting distance of NYC)
97. Lobster Thermidor
99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee
100. Snake (Tasted like chicken)
Saturday, August 16, 2008
It's Saturday around here but that didn't seem to stop Mom from waking up really early and leaving to go back to Boston for the day to have brunch with some friends and take care of some business she had. I thought she had made a mistake and forgot to turn off her alarm clock. You know how forgetful Mom has been lately. But she told me she meant to wake up that early.
I just gave her one of my looks that told her I was not amused by all this early morning activity on the weekend; especially since it forced me off the nice comfy bed and onto the cold wood floor in the hallway.
To add insult to injury, she then informed me that I was going to be the subject of further indignities because she was going to take pictures of my morning routine including me eating my breakfast,
hopping in the bedroom window to preen myself after eating my breakfast,
and making sure everything is as it should be in the litter box after she cleans it out.
I'm telling you, I'm counting the days until she leaves on that vacation in the middle of September she started planning this past week.
Maybe then there will be peace and quiet around this house and I can get down to the serious business of scaring the stupid squirrel eating Mom's green tomatoes on the back porch.
Our hearts goes out to the family of MontyQ, a frequent participant in WCB , who lost their sweet baby, Violette Noelle.
This weekend's Weekend Cat Blogging, which is being hosted by Amar and Luna at CatSynth, is dedicated to her and her family.
Friday, August 15, 2008
You already know that Julia Child was a huge influence on me. So much so, that when it came time for Sara of I Like to Cook and I to host the February Daring Baker's Challenge, we both knew there would be only one recipe we would want to do: Julia Child's French Bread. My post on her incredible French Bread recipe is the number one visited post on The Sour Dough. What you may not know is that I had a chance encounter with Julia Child while both of us were still living in Cambridge, MA.
Harvard Square, near where both of us lived, had four very fine gourmet food shops: Cardullo's, the long departed Harvard Square Wines, Formaggio Kitchen and Savenor's, who left after a fire but has returned to it's original location on Kirkland Street. During the final year that Julia lived in Cambridge, I had the wonderful opportunity to meet her quite by accident while both of us were shopping at Cardullo's.
I had stopped in to pick up some cheeses, teas, and a few other hard to find European goodies and had placed them carefully into one of those little baskets that Cardullo's provides. Cardullo's is a tiny shop that is packed to bursting at the seams with narrow aisles. It has only one register and often there is a line where you practically stand on top of each other waiting to check out. While I was standing in line reading the signs posted near the cash register about expected arrivals and reminding customers that charges weren't accepted below a certain dollar amount, I glanced down just in time to see this large hand reach into my basket and pull out the chunk of Roquefort cheese.
I turned around to give the rather presumptuous person a piece of my mind only to encounter the towering figure of Julia Child. She proceeded, in that distinctive voice of hers, to tell me and everyone else in the line about how much she enjoyed Roquefort, how she liked to serve it and how fantastic it was crumbled into a cheese souffle.
Instead of giving Julia the what-to for grabbing cheese out of my basket, I just stood there stupidly nodding my head and trying to get my brain to form a coherent thought beyond, "Oh my God, that is Julia Child standing there waving my hunk of cheese around and telling everyone around us how to use it". When it was my turn at the register, Julia handed me back the cheese and told me to enjoy it. I think I was able to mutter, "Thank you very much Ms. Child" but I don't remember because I was still in awe of being that close to my cooking idol.
Not long afterwards, I heard that she had moved full time to Santa Barbara and her famous kitchen was headed to the Smithsonian but those brief moments in her larger than life presence will be a cherished memory until the day I die.
Lately, I've been craving something light and chocolate and I can't think of anything better than Julia's Mousseline Au Chocolate. Don't be put off by all the steps involved. This is easy and results in a fantastic dessert or filling for cream puffs.
Happy Birthday Julia!
Mousseline Au Chocolat
From the 19th Show of "The French Chef"
Serves 6 - 8
Melting the Chocolate
1 cup semisweet chocolate bits or 6 squares semi sweet baking chocolate
4Tbsp strong coffee
Place chocolate and coffee in a small saucepan and place over a larger pan with hot water or in the top part of a double boiler hat water underneath. Stir for a minute or until the chocolate begins to melt and then let it melt over the over the hot water while you proceed with the rest of the recipe.
The Egg Yolks and Sugar
4 egg yolks
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup orange liqueur, rum, Benedictine or strained orange juice
Place egg yolks in mixing bowl and start beating with whip while gradually pouring in the sugar. Continue beating for 2-3 minutes until mixture is thick, pale and forms a slowly dissolving ribbon when a bit is lifted and falls back onto the surface. Beat in the liqueur or orange juice and set the bowl in a pan of almost simmering water. Beat at moderate speed for 4 - 5 minutes or until foamy and warm when tested with your finger. Remove bowl from hot water and either beat the mixture in mixer for several minutes until cool, or set in a bowl of cool water and beat with whisk. It should again form the ribbon and have the consistency of thick, creamy mayonnaise.
Adding Butter and Chocolate
1 1/2 sticks (6 ounces) softened unsalted butter
Stir the chocolate again and continue until perfectly smooth. Gradually beat the softened butter into the chocolate. Beat chocolate and butter into the yolks and sugar
The Egg Whites
4 egg whites, room temperature
pinch of salt
2 Tbsp granulated sugar
Using a hand mixer, beat egg whites slowly until they begin to foam, then beat in the salt. Increase speed gradually to fast until soft peaks are formed. Sprinkle on the sugar and continue beating until stiff peaks are formed. Stir one forth of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture to lighten it. Scoop the rest of the egg whites on top and delicately fold them in
Chilling and Serving
Immediately turn the mousse into a lightly oiled 6 cup metal mold, a serving bowl, or individual cups. Cover and chill for several hours or overnight.
If you are unmolding the mousse, dip mold for several seconds into hot water, run a knife rapidly between edge of mousse and mold, and turn a chilled serving dish upside down over mold; reverse the two, giving a sharp downward jerk, and the mousse should drop into place in a few seconds.
Serve with whipped cream flavored with powdered sugar and liqueur.
Thursday, August 14, 2008
Last night, over a lovely dinner of stuffed zucchini and my Wartime Wednesday contribution of rice ala creole, my neighbor Chris; who writes the food blog Coarse Food, a food blog dedicated to very traditional New England fare, and I wandered into the deep water conversation of regional foods and specifically the use of hardtack in Northern New England and Canadian Maritimes cooking. I told Chris that should he wish to try a few recipes using hardtack, I would be happy to bake some for him or, that barring my actual baking of hardtack, he could use either Crown Pilot
Note: This is my last pack of Crown Pilot Crackers
or Royal Milk Biscuits as good substitutes.
Both are long time New England crackers made by Nabisco regionally for over 100 years.
That is until the past few months...
You see today, while looking for links to hardtack and my recommended substitutions I discovered the awful truth that both have been discontinued by Nabisco. Apparently neither provide enough sales to satisfy the corporate greed of the bean counters at Kraft, the large behemoth food company; regional tradition be damned.
This isn't the first time that Nabisco has discontinued the Crown Pilot. In 1997, Nabisco announced they were discontinuing the traditional chowder cracker but a large protest by New Englanders, spearheaded by the folks of Chebeague Island in Maine, and people from further afield brought the cracker back, much to my and every other New Englander's delight. It appears that we will have to try again to save our beloved crackers. Unfortunately, it isn't only these traditional New England crackers that have disappeared from the American regional foodscape.
In the South, they are lamenting the loss of White Lily Flour from its traditional home of Knoxville, TN. Apparently when that other large conglomerate Smuckers bought White Lily and Martha White, it decided that moving the milling of this traditional Southern mainstay to Northern climes would be fine and promised that the flour would be same, because after all flour is just flour right? Wrong. Reports from some long time Southern friends and on Chowhound seem to indicate differently. Not to mention if anything besides providing hours of laughs and joy with my fellow Babes, all the Bread Baking Babes breads have proven that flour is a very regional item and regional baked goods absolutely depend on the flour to turn out correct in texture and taste.
The loss of regional foods doesn't stop at the grindstone of White Lily either. Potato chips seem to be one of the foods that define the snacking style of a region. Chicago is still reeling from the move of Jay's Potato Chips; where the smell of cooking potato chips has wafted over the South Side since the early 1920's. True, the manufacturing just moved over the border to Indiana but Jay's was a special Chicago brand and you knew you were within 50 miles of Chicago if, when you went into the store or the gas station, there were those Jay's Potato chips in their distinctive blue and white bag.
I'm sure there are many, many other cases of regional food losses that I am not even aware of but whose loss is deeply felt in the regional food fabric of their areas. Which brings me to the point of this little rant.
I think it is time for some protections to be afforded regional specialities and brands in the United States, not unlike those afforded Bordeaux wine and Stilton cheese. It is also time we, the food community, start supporting these local brands. They are part of makes New England different from New York and New York different than New Mexico. Without these foods, what little is left that identifies the culture and history of food in this vast country is diminished; especially since often the regional specialties are made from these local brands.
Here is a list of regional brands that, if you live near, please consider purchasing. These regional brands, even if the brand is owned by a conglomerate, are made locally to serve the region and thus are part of your area's unique food culture.
After all, it is all part of "eating locally" and remember by keeping these brands local, you also keep the jobs local. If you aren't a local, consider when you are traveling in these areas, picking up a bag of local brand chips or a can of the local soda pop. Or better yet, create your own regional brand care package to send back home and share with your friends.
Because, the brand you protect might just be your brand.
Oh, and if you don't mind, give Kraft a call or drop them an email and let them know that they need to bring back the Crown Pilot and the Royal Milk too. I and the rest of New England would really appreciate it; especially since chowder season is right around the corner and I can't imagine making corn or clam chowder and not having my Crown Pilot to dunk!
Some Still Regional Brands To Protect:
Note: I'd love to populate this with brands from all over the US. So, let me know some of the regional brands from your area. Leave me a comment and a link or drop me an email. I'll add it to the list and I promise when I travel to your neck of the woods, I'll pick up a few regional brands for myself.
New England(MA, RI, CT, VT, NH, ME): Necco, Cape Cod Potato Chips, Vermont Common Crackers and Buttons, Polar Beverages (especially Birch Beer), Autocrat Coffee, Moxie, Cabot Cheese, Brigham's Ice Cream
New York/Pennsylvania: Snyders of Hanover,
Mid-Atlantic(MD, DC, VA, WV, DE, NJ):
South (GA, AL, MS, LA):
Upper South/Midwest (TN, KY, IN, IL, OH):
Upper Midwest(MI, WI, MN, ND, SD): Better Made Snacks, Vernors, Faygo, Sanders
Central State: (IA, KS, NE, CO, AR, OK ): Weaver Snacks
Northwest ( WY, MT, ID, OR, WA):
Southwest: (AZ, NM, NV, UT)
Alaska/Hawaii:Diamond Bakery Cookies and Crackers (HI)
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
In fact, it was this cookbook that first brought Stephanie and I together because I commented once on her Wartime Wednesday posts that I have my grandmother's copy of this book and cook from it fairly often.
One of the very first food posts ever at The Sour Dough was from this wonderful look at the mid-20th Century gem American housewife that showed her how to stretch her food budget in times of rationing and high food costs.
Hmm... high food costs? Recipes designed to help the American housewife stretch her food budget? Sounds like just the cookbook The Pantry Plan ordered!
So, I'm joining Stephanie this week with a Wartime Wednesday offering of my own with Rice A La Creole from VBotAWCB Wartime Edition. I served it tonight at another backyard dinner for friends along with a recipe from Saveur that I will be telling you about later.
Using some leftover rice from the fish dishes I made earlier in the week and some tomatoes from my garden, this was a very quick and easy dish to assemble and was a light and filing main dish. It would be the perfect side with a roast chicken or pork chops. I'm going to be making this again and maybe even add a few spicy ingredients and serve it with some Mexican or South American dishes I have been wanting to fix.
I have an odd feeling this won't be the last time I play along with Stephanie on Wartime Wednesday...
The pie dish was my Grandmother's pie dish from the early 60's
Rice A La Creole
1 slice, cooked ham
1 Tbsp fat (I used olive oil)
1 cup boiled rice
2 cups cooked tomatoes
breadcrumbs (I used one of the garlic twists from my freezer)
Tuesday, August 12, 2008
So, I thought I'd do a photo post of the photos that I took the past few days and link back to the posts for which they were originally intended.
Last Saturday found LB once again commandeering my computer between naps
and told you about my lazing around the back patio with my paper, cookbooks, food magazines and computer.
Of course you remember my McGyvering of the tomato plant to my neighbor Erica's porch.
What LB failed to tell you about was the wind swept tomatoes from last Thursday's storms that I rescued from the yard and have been ripening on our picnic table
the late season cucumbers growing on the vine
and the basil plants that something is munching on.
If anyone has any ideas about what is eating my basil and what I can do to prevent it, please let me know. The soapy water isn't working and neither is the organic bug spray.
One of the first things I made when I got back from Sun Valley was a batch of Thai noodles. I had some left over so I tossed them into a salad with some chicken breast, Mandarin oranges, some edamame, and some nuts for dinner one night last week.
While I was away a really good friend's parents sent me some Key Limes from their back yard tree.
So on Sunday, I made Tart Reform's Easy Key Lime Pie.
It was about the best Key Lime Pie I've ever had.
And Kelly of Sass and Veracity's fabulous Non Cowboy Caviar for a backyard gathering of my house mates.
I'm telling you, go over to her site, get the recipe and make it this weekend! You won't be sorry you did.
I've got some pictures from a down and back trip to New Jersey I made today and a fantastic, light and easy fish dish from Cooking Light to share with you in the next few days. Luckily, I can actually post both the words and the photos together now!