Sunday, December 24, 2006

Peace on Earth and Goodwill toward Men

I've been meaning to post a few pictures of the Christmas cookies I baked this year but as usual the hectic pace of the Season got the better of me... Anyways, above are the Sour Cream Cutout Cookies and one of the Gingerbread men. Below are the raspberry and apricot Linzer cookies.

And here is an assortment of the cookies I made, including the appropriately named World Peace cookies from Dorie Greenspan.

I made three verisons of the World Peace cookie: the original, the original but rolled in crushed almonds, and then I modified the recipe by replacing the cocoa with almond flour and finely chopped almonds and using 1/2 a teaspoon of almond extract along with the vanilla. I dusted the Almond World Peace cookie with powdered sugar after they had cooled. Included in my cookie tray for MBH to take to work were my Grandmother's Spritz, Maple Chocolate Coconut Bars, Orange Spice Shortbread and Chocolate dipped Shortbread. One of MBH's coworker's put a sad face sticky on the container when all the cookies were gone.

I'm going to be taking a small break to celebrate Christmas with MBH and LB here in Cambridge and then my family back home in Michigan before returning to Cambridge and The Sour Dough on New Years Eve.

As tonight is Christmas Eve, a time when families come together to share the glad tidings of the Season that is Christmas, may you and yours feel comfort, joy and peace.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Celebrating in Style

This post marks the beginning of the 3rd year for The Sour Dough. I've written 157 posts (excluding this one) for The Sour Dough and my profile has been viewed 590 times since December 22, 2004. To celebrate, I made broiled Georges Bank sea scallops and oven hash for dinner and popped open a bottle of pink champagne to sip while I share a few food related facts about myself you may not know (and after you read these you may wish you hadn't).

-The very first week living in the dorms my freshman year of college, I set off the fire alarm because I used a damaged oven in the floor kitchen to bake a batch of brownies. Three weeks later I was banned from the kitchen for "stinking up the floor with garlic" (I was making spaghetti and sauteed two whole heads of garlic).

- I decorated my first cake at six. It was a two layer yellow cake made in my Easy Bake oven. I served it on pink china at a tea given for a headless GI Joe, two Barbies and one stuffed animal; a horse whose mane and tail I had braided for the occassion. I was dressed in a pink tu-tu, swimming fins, and cowboy hat.

- I was the only Girl Scout in my council to earn every single cooking badge as a Junior, Cadette, and Senior.

- I can't make a flaky pie crust to save my life.

- My all time favourite food is cheese and this, among other things, makes France heaven on Earth for me.

- I have had street vendor food on six continents and none of it has made me sick. The best was the B'Stella I had in Marrakesh. The worst was the pretzel I had a few weeks ago in NYC. The continents are Africa (Cairo and Marrakesh), Asia (Tokyo, Seoul and Kowloon), Australia (Sydney), Europe and North America (too many to list), and South America/Latin America (Belize and Rio). I'm not sure I'll be able to add Antarctica to this list but if I do manage to get there and there is a street vendor, I'll try.

- In that same vein, the two times I've had food poisoning from someplace I ate were here in the United States.

- I have a fondness for freeze dried Raspberry Granola from Richmoor-Natural High Camping Foods. I like to make it with hot water on cold winter days and curl up on the couch in my fluffy red bathrobe and green fuzzy slippers and watch old movies.

- I once brought back two cases of Aero chocolate bars back from a business trip in Canada and spent two hours in customs because they thought I was smuggling something else. I can now get my fix of air bubble filled chocolate by going to the World's Worst Grocery Store but it isn't as much fun.

- Late Feburary makes me crave fresh caught fried smelt and Labatt's Blue.

- When I fix a meal for MBH and I, there is always some portion of it that can be shared with our cat, LB.

- I'm learning CSS, PHP, MySQL, and more than I even want to know about how to set up a website so I can launch in the new year (with GREAT help/patience of MBH).

I feel blessed to be associated with so many of you fine bloggers and count some of you as good friends. So, I'm raising my glass of pink bubbly to you, my readers and fellow bloggers. Here's to spending the next year cooking, reviewing, and chatting about food with you.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Menu of Hope: A puzzle and chance at a prize for you!!

Tomorrow is the last day to contribute to the world wide food blogger fund raiser event hosted by Chez Pim to benefit the United Nations World Food Programme. So far we have raised over $40,000!!! That is so amazing. Wouldn't it be even more amazing if we could get to $50,000? Just think, for $10.00, the equivalent of two triple grande-venti-super mocha chai lattes at name-your-coffee-shop, you can donate to the Menu for Hope and win a chance at some pretty fabulous prizes like dinner with a famous chef in San Francisco or New York, a brand spankin' new Kitchen Aid mixer (sigh), or some yummy treats like my donation of LA Burdick's signature chocolate mice! (For a full list of available raffle prizes go here to Chez Pim's site) Your $10.00 donation may only get you a chance at a wonderful prize donated by the food bloggers of the world but will definitely provide three people with enough food to eat for the week. Not a bad way to spend ten bucks...

The event ends tomorrow so instead of that coffee drink, brew your own and help us give a wonderful end of the year present to the World Food Programme.

Here is how you can help: Go to the First Giving: Menu for Hope page and click on Give Now and donate what ever you feel you can.

When you donate, please remember to:

1. Specify which prize or prizes you'd like in the 'Personal Message' section in the donation form when confirming your donation (My mice are UE23). Do tell us how many tickets per prize, and please use the prize code -for example, a donation of $50 can be 2 tickets for UW01 and 3 for UW02.

2. For US donors, if your company matches your charity donation, please check the box and fill in the information so we could claim the corporate match.

3. Please allow us to see your email address so that we could contact you in case you win. Your email address will not be shared with anyone.

Check back on Chez Pim on January 15 for the results of the raffle.

Now a puzzle about tomorrow's post with a chance at a Menu for Hope prize: What do the numbers 3, 157, and 590 all have in common?

I'll donate in your name one raffle ticket to Menu of Hope to the first five people who leave me a comment with an answer. Don't forget to tell me what prize you would like and your email address when you fill out the comment info. Note: I use haloscan for my commenting system so the "feature" of the new blogger not being able to do comments shouldn't be a problem.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Retro Recipe Challenge #5: Have Yourself a Merry Little Boozy Holiday

Laura Rebecca of Laura Rebecca's Kitchen and host of the monthly Retro Recipe Challenge picked the best theme for this hectic and stressful time of the year: A Boozy Holiday.

Actually, there was even a little bit of holiday stress involved with this theme. First, while flipping through all my old cookbooks looking for retro holiday treats to bake, I would also check out the drink section. Interestingly enough, most of the cookbooks I have that were published between 1920 - 1980 had few if any alcoholic drinks! I found some punches and the typical egg nog recipes but since I wasn't in the mood to make a huge bowl of lime jello champagne punch or orange sherbert and whiskey neighbor bowl, most of my recipes were ruled out. I was about to give up and do Mulled Wine when an old, yellowed newspaper clipping poking out from a rarely used cookbook from the late 50's caught my eye. Like the Star of Bethlehem calling me, I had found my boozy drink: The Sleigh Bell

My grandmother clipped any recipe she thought she might use and stashed them away between the pages of her cookbooks and apparently this coffee drink caught her eye sometime in 1958. I'm not sure which newspaper it came from but it was either the Detroit News or the Cadillac News. The little description says "this is the perfect Christmas drink to serve in the kitchen to the wives while the husbands and children bring the tree in from outside". The drink calls for a good amount of an almond or anise flavoured liqueur. Since I had a small bottle of Amaretto left over from a pastry I made few months ago, I went with the good amount of almond flavoured liqueur. I didn't have any half and half to lighten the coffee, so I tossed in some egg nog and sprinkled some coloured sugar on top of the whipped cream. One sip and I know why the recipe had caught her eye, it was sweet and had a nice almond taste. As I munched on a frosted sugar cookie the opening line of the Christmas carol, "Winter Wonderland" ran through my head. "Just hear those sleigh bells..."

The Sleigh Bell

6 oz of fresh brewed coffee
1 shot glass of almond or anise flavoured liqueur
coffee cream and sugar to taste
whip cream to top

Tag: rrc5

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Giving Back to the Community: Menu for Hope

For the past three years, Chez Pim has hosted the Menu for Hope event where food bloggers from all over the world donate raffle prizes to raise funds for the United Nations World Food Programme. Last year, the event raised over $17,000.00!!! This is a great chance as food bloggers and food blog readers who spend most of the year writing/reading about food to give something back to people throughout the world who do not have enough food to eat.

This year, Chez Pim has asked several fine food bloggers to help host the event and divided the bounty available up into regions. Since I'm an East Coast US blogger, Adam of The Amateur Gourmet is the host.

BUT before you can win a raffle gift, first and most importantly, you have to go to the Firstgiving - Menu for Hope page and make a pledge. Every $10.00 you pledge gets you a raffle ticket and an opportunity to win one of the fabulous gifts! If there is a particular item you want, you can specify that item by it's number in the comment section. To see the East Coast Foodie items and numbers go to Adam's page here or here and to see the whole list of goodies available go here at Chez Pim's site.

Oh, and yours truly? What did I donate? I've donated a box of really sweet chocolate mice from LA Burdick Chocolate, located right here in Harvard Square, Cambridge MA. They are item UE23!

They are so adorable you will not want to eat them but trust me, they are even more delicious! Now that is eating wonderful chocolate for a very good cause.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Let the Baking Begin!!

Today is the big start of baking for the Christmas holiday and this year, I decided to be bold by making five different types cookies as well as at least two different types of candies. Also, breaking with tradition, I won't be making some of the goodies my family and friends have come to expect from me like my grandmother's spritz and chocolate chip pecan cookies. This year I'm going to bake cookies I've been dying to try from some of my most recent cookbook acquisitions. My holiday home baked treat package will include:

- Sour Cream Cutout Cookies decorated with royal icing from this year's issue of Better Homes and Garden Holiday Baking

- Decorated Gingerbread Men/Women from The Good Home Cookbook

- Linzer Cookies from The Cookie Bible

- World Peace Cookies from Dorie Greenspan's Baking From My Home To Yours

Chocolate Espresso Bars from the Williams-Sonoma Cookies

So far today, I've got the cutout cookie, gingerbread, and Linzer cookie dough done and chilling in the fridge. I'll get the World Peace cookies and Chocolate Espresso Bars finished later this afternoon and decorate the cookies tomorrow. Candies will be made over the next few evenings and with a little luck, all this sweet goodness will be boxed up and on its way by Thursday!

What are you baking this year?

Sunday, December 03, 2006

The Last of the Leftovers

Last night I used not only one of my new cookbooks, The American Century Cookbook but I also finally used most of the last of the Thanksgiving leftovers. We had one half of turkey breast left and frankly I think if I had suggested that MBH eat the turkey "as is" he would have taken the cat and run screaming from the house. So, I decided to channel a little 1950's housewife and make a time honoured classic dish as a way to use the left over turkey, Turkey Tetrazzini.

One of the things I really like about the The American Century Cookbook are the stories behind why Jean Anderson included the recipes she did. She give the provenience of each recipe and often gives the "classic" interpretation of the recipe as well as the common or updated version. Apparently, Tetrazzini recipes became popular during the very early part of the last century as a way to honour the visit of the Italian coloratura soprano, Luisa Tetrazzini. The classic recipe calls for a white sauce with dry sherry and mushrooms added to pasta and turkey or chicken cubes and then baked. In the middle of the last century, Campbell's soup created a version using the ubiquitous Cream of Mushroom soup as a base. As I have never been fond of using Cream of Mushroom soup for anything but green bean casserole and for soup, I decided to go traditional. Surprisingly, MBH kinda liked it...

Almost Classic Turkey Tetrazzini
adapted from Jean Anderson's American Century Cookbook

5 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
3 cups low sodium chicken broth (the remainder of the container from Thanksgiving)
1 cup light cream (the remainder of my coffee creme, used before it expired)
2 tablespoon dry sherry (I used dry Riesling, the remainder left over from Thanksgiving)
3/4 freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup shredded swiss cheese (left over from making carrot/turnip puff for Thanksgiving)
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 bag frozen sweet peas (left over from beef stew several weeks ago)
3/4 pound mushrooms, cleaned and sliced thinly
3 medium scallions sliced thinly
1 lb pasta, cooked al dente (I used some leftover bow tie pasta from my pantry)
4 cups diced turkey (the almost last of the 14 lb Thanksgiving bird)
2 cups buttered saltine cracker crumbs

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Lightly grease a 13 x 9 x 2 baking dish and set aside. Melt 3 tablespoon of butter in a heavy sauce pan over moderate heat. Blend in flour to make a roux. When roux is just turning brown, add chicken broth and stir constantly until sauce begins to thicken. Mix in cream, wine, 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese and Swiss cheese, and pepper. Stir with whisk about 3 - 5 minutes until completely combined and remove from heat. Melt remaining butter in saute pan over moderate heat. Add mushrooms and scallions and saute until just limp and fold into sauce. In large bowl combine peas, pasta, turkey and sauce. Pour mixture into prepared baking dish and bake for 20 - 30 minutes or until sauce is bubbly. Add cracker crumbs for last ten minutes of baking. Remove from oven and let stand for 5 -10 minutes until firm. Serve with a tossed salad and white wine.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Catching Up

It has been a very, very long week...

Several months ago, I called a conference of my worldwide technical staff that would take place over the week of November 27 - December 1. I wasn't thinking about the fact it was the week after the American Thanksgiving holiday and that getting flights into Boston from places like Kuala Lumpur, Rio, and London would be so pricey! (My corporate bean counter just LOVES me...) But, it was a good week. We had lots of hands on with new loudspeakers the company I work for will be debuting this year as well as the typical corporate rah-rah that has to happen at these things. We also had some pretty good meals at a few local restaurants and one really atrocious meal at a chain steak house up the road from our headquarters. I was getting up at 4:45am to get into work by 6am just to read emails and do a little "real" work then not getting home until almost 11pm every night. Poor MBH was fending for himself all week with the slim pickings in the fridge since there wasn't much coming out of the our kitchen.

I've added to my cookbook collection this week. I don't know how I lived without Amazon. I find cookbooks at the library I can't live without (OK, I could live without them but come on here folks. I'm a cookbook addict. I know it. You know it. Heck, even my cat KNOWS it...) and then order them if I want to add them to my personal library. One is the delightful American Century Cookbook by Jean Anderson. This is a wonderful book that chronicles food trends of the 20th Century with stand out recipes, great stories about the foods we all know and love, and little tid-bits about the companies that brought us the products that made up the century of convenience foods. Another cookbook I added was the gorgeous Solo Suppers by Joyce Goldstein. I'm looking forward to cooking out of this book very soon as well as Truffles, Candies, and Confections by Carole Bloom. I'm sure Carole Bloom's book will come in very handy during the Christmas baking season.

A few days ago, my good friend Sara over at I like to Cook had a great photo post of all the food she has taken pictures of the past few months with good intention to blog about but just hasn't quite gotten around to being able to do so. Sara, I know what you mean... I have folders of pictures I've been meaning to post about but just haven't found the time. So, I'm "borrowing" her idea of throwing them up and letting you see what I've been cooking the past few months.

About seven months ago, a co-worker and his wife asked me to bake for their baby shower. His wife is English and she was longing for real English Cream Tea Scones as well as fat and gooey cupcakes. So here are the English Cream Tea Scones from a recipe I got from my landlady when I was living in London

Next up is some very yummy bruschetta made with tomatoes, chives, cilantro, and basil from my summer garden and placed on top of a freshly baked baguette of sourdough from one of my starters. The recipe, believe it or not is from a Richard Simmons cookbook my grandmother had that somehow I ended up with after she died. Say what you will about Richard, this bruschetta is to die for...

While we are in my garden, here are the only fried green tomatoes I got all summer. It was an awful summer for tomatoes here in New England and the one week the tomatoes were perfect, I was traveling. But I have high hopes for next summer. I use the recipe from the Fried Green Tomatoes cookbook when I make these.

Until really recently I had four or five huge piles of cookbooks all over our house. In September, I unburied The Breath of a Wok which I had picked up some time ago. MBH loves stir-fry so we found a recipe for Stir Fried Pork that looked really good. It was! I served it on some Hong Kong Style Noodles we picked up in Chinatown.

One of the great things about being a food blogger is reading other people's food blogs and finding recipes that become star recipes in your own repertoire. In October, Lisa at La Mia Cucina posted about an apple cider jus for pork tenderloin she had found on Je Mange La Ville. Michelle of Je Mange la Ville calls this the "best sauce ever" and I have to totally agree. This was the best sauce ever! Not to mention the rosemary and scallion roasted baby new potatoes were a fine compliment to the pork loin.

And last but not least, I've been baking goodies for MBH to take into work. Here are some Frosted Fall Leaves. Just in time to practice my icing skills for Christmas cookies.

Well, guess we are all caught up! Time to go finish getting the Christmas baking list together. I'm starting tomorrow and need to get a battle plan together. Happy Weekend!