Saturday, May 17, 2008

Playing Catch Up on Saturday Morning

I love those mornings that come after a day or two of gloomy days filled with downpours and wind; making my back porch the perfect place to sit and catch up on a few posts that have been knocking around my brain the past few weeks.

Especially since the sun is out, the birds are chirping away in the oak tree that is (hopefully) done dropping its helicopter pods all over my deck

and my recently transplanted herb garden is getting some much needed sun.

As you can see, I have pictures again. I didn't buy a new camera yet but rather turned to the internet to find help with resetting my Fuji F470 camera. Luckily, most of the pictures I had taken were stored on my 2Gig memory card so I was able to save them. This little camera crisis however has led me to start seriously looking for a new digital camera. Not because I don't like my Fuji, I have never had any issues with any of the Finepix I've owned but because as W gently informed me, it is time to step up to the big boy cameras because my pictures are much better than when I started and I'm going to start wanting some real macro capabilities. He's probably right so the new camera search has started. I've looked at a Nikon D40 last week and liked it but didn't like the push sales person, so I didn't want to give him my custom. I'd like to hear from you phototogs out there what you are using and what you think would be a good entry level digital SLR for me so drop me a note or leave a comment.

One of the posts that pained me most to not be able to get out on time was the post for the Julia Child Onion Soup round-up that my buddy Mike over Mel's Diner hosted. Mike had so much fun with us gals in Cookbook Thingy #1 that he invited some of us to do Cookbook Thingy Part Deux along with a few new friends. We will be cooking a few recipes we've always been afraid of trying from Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking through the summer and first up was that bistro classic: Soup a l'Oignon Gratinee.

This recipe wasn't difficult but I would definitely recommend using the best beef stock you can buy (I like Emeril's) or better yet, make it yourself. Making it yourself isn't hard, just time consuming and requires that you find a good butcher who can get you marrow bones (which has the added bonus of getting to have roasted marrow on toast!). Between the homemade beef stock and the caramelized onions and the splash of cognac at the end, this soup will satisfy even the most snobbish of French Onion Soup fans.

I also want to thank Mike for giving the opportunity to pull out the culinary torch for a bit of pyro fun...

One of the other things I've made the past few weeks was a version of the famous Kentucky Derby pie for a Kentucky Derby party I attended two weeks ago.

Seems odd that today being the Preakness Stakes, that post about the Kentucky Derby pie. But the pie was so good, I didn't want the opportunity to pass; especially considering all the bitter sweetness of this years Triple Crown series when a horse that reminds me of the great Secretariat in looks has a chance to be the first Triple Crown winner since the Affirmed. Please forgive me if I take a moment to talk sports, something really unusual here at The Sour Dough.

I have friends in thoroughbred racing and the tragic event with Eight Belles at the Derby has put a sad cloud over this year's Triple Crown as well as very much needed scrutiny over the business side of racing. My friends own a small stable of five horses and board ten others for various small trainers in Southwestern Michigan. My friends will be the first to tell you that today's horses that are on the big circuit aren't as sound as they should be and that the breeding for profit business needs to be addressed before the sport is killed by greed. I like to think that my friend's stable is the norm, where they treat their horses at all stages of their careers with dignity and care and where a horse that isn't destined for the track is found a useful and happy life with owners who care as much about the horse as my friends who bred and cared for it as a foal. They've donated horses to the riding programs in the area that help disabled and underprivileged children have the opportunity to ride and care for horses and they have bought back horses when they have thought the current owner may not have the same interests in giving a horse whose track career has ended retirement in dignity. It is people like them who make up the majority of racing and who will save racing but only if we the public don't go 'cuckoo bananas'.

OK, back to pie. Kentucky Derby Pie is sinfully simple to make and equally sinfully delicious. I whole heartedly suggest you serve it anytime of the year! It is like eating a pie filled gooey chocolate chip and nut cookie dough and is really good served warm with a scoop of homemade vanilla ice cream. So much so, that I just ordered the ice cream attachment for Isabelle so I can make this pie again and serve it over the 4th of July on my back deck.

Well, would you look at the time?! I've spent a couple hours out here typing away with a few stare off at the Day Lilly and squirrels trying to master the new bird feeder moments. I have to run. I'm off to the Met tonight to see Verdi's Macbeth and have a few errands to take care of and a bread dough rising on the counter that needs to be turned and then put in the fridge for a nice slow retard before I start "primping" and head into The City.

Have a great Saturday and get into the kitchen to play!

Kentucky Chocolate Nut Pie aka Kentucky Derby Pie

1 deep 9" blind baked pie crust
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup AP flour
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup (1 stick) melted butter
1/2 cup English walnuts
1/2 cup pecans
1 1/2 cups chocolate chips
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 Tbsp Kentucky bourbon

Mix flour and sugar. Add the eggs and mix until combined. Stir in the butter, nuts, chocolate chips, vanilla and bourbon. Pour mixture in pie crust and bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for about 40 minutes or until center of filling is firm. A toothpick inserted will come out with what appears to be chocolate chip cookie dough but not be runny.

Let cool about 20 minutes before serving.