Saturday, February 28, 2009

Daring Bakers Challenge...Chocolate Valentino

This months Daring Baker Challenge was truly one of my favorites! I absolutely loved it and I knew that I would the minute I saw it!!! The cake was perfect and the prospect of making ice cream was wonderful (more on that later). To make this event even more wonderful was the fact that I had my good friend Jenn The Leftover Queen here during the month of February!

The February 2009 challenge is hosted by Wendy of WMPE's blog and Dharm of Dad ~ Baker & Chef.
We have chosen a Chocolate Valentino cake by Chef Wan; a Vanilla Ice Cream recipe from Dharm and a Vanilla Ice Cream recipe from Wendy as the challenge.

Thanks Dharm and Wendy for a great choice!

I do have a confession though...somehow I never got around to making the ice cream! I did make a fresh berry sauce that went with it wonderfully but the ice cream never happened
(no one here likes vanilla ice and I don't have a machine) and I didn't get pictures of the berries. Does it count then that I really did the challenge? I think so!

We made this for a really fun dinner we had with Jenn and her hubby Roberto and 3 other friends of mine that we invited. This was a wonderful ending to a great meal. Unfortunatley by the time dessert was served I got no pictures of the slices!

This cake was so rich, gooey, creamy and full of chocolate flavor. I can't wait for my next excuse to make this...

Chocolate Valentino
Preparation Time: 20 minutes

16 ounces (1 pound) (454 grams) of semisweet chocolate, roughly chopped
½ cup (1 stick) plus 2 tablespoons (146 grams total) of unsalted butter
5 large eggs separated

1. Put chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl and set over a pan of simmering water (the bottom of the bowl should not touch the water) and melt, stirring often.
2. While your chocolate butter mixture is cooling. Butter your pan and line with a parchment circle then butter the parchment.
3. Separate the egg yolks from the egg whites and put into two medium/large bowls.
4. Whip the egg whites in a medium/large grease free bowl until stiff peaks are formed (do not over-whip or the cake will be dry).
5. With the same beater beat the egg yolks together.
6. Add the egg yolks to the cooled chocolate.
7. Fold in 1/3 of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture and follow with remaining 2/3rds. Fold until no white remains without deflating the batter. {link of folding demonstration}
8. Pour batter into prepared pan, the batter should fill the pan 3/4 of the way full, and bake at 375F/190C
9. Bake for 25 minutes until an instant read thermometer reads 140F/60C.
Note – If you do not have an instant read thermometer, the top of the cake will look similar to a brownie and a cake tester will appear wet.
10. Cool cake on a rack for 10 minutes then unmold.

Silly Jenn taking a picture of me taking a picture of her!

Dharm's Ice Cream Recipe
Classic Vanilla Ice Cream
Preparation Time: 30 minutes

Recipe comes from the Ice Cream Book by Joanna Farrow and Sara Lewis (tested modifications and notes in parentheses by Dharm)

1 Vanilla Pod (or substitute with vanilla extract)
300ml / ½ pint / 1 ¼ cups Semi Skimmed Milk – in the U.S. this is 2% fat (or use fresh full fat milk that is pasteurised and homogenised {as opposed to canned or powdered}). Dharm used whole milk.
4 large egg yolks
75g / 3oz / 6 tbsp caster sugar {superfine sugar can be achieved in a food processor or use regular granulated sugar}
5ml / 1 tsp corn flour {cornstarch}
300ml / ½ pint / 1 ¼ cups Double Cream (48% butter fat) {in the U.S. heavy cream is 37% fat)
{you can easily increase your cream's fat content by heating 1/4 cup of heavy cream with 3 Tbs of butter until melted - cool to room temperature and add to the heavy cream as soon as whisk marks appear in the cream, in a slow steady stream, with the mixer on low speed. Raise speed and continue whipping the cream) or use heavy cream the difference will be in the creaminess of the ice cream.

1. Using a small knife slit the vanilla pod lengthways. Pour the milk into a heavy based saucepan, add the vanilla pod and bring to the boil. Remove from heat and leave for 15 minutes to allow the flavours to infuse
Lift the vanilla pod up. Holding it over the pan, scrape the black seeds out of the pod with a small knife so that they fall back into the milk. SET the vanilla pod aside and bring the milk back to the boil.
2. Whisk the egg yolks, sugar and corn-flour in a bowl until the mixture is thick and foamy. 3. Gradually pour in the hot milk, whisking constantly. Return the mixture to the pan and cook over a gentle hear, stirring all the time
4. When the custard thickens and is smooth, pour it back into the bowl. Cool it then chill.
5. By Hand: Whip the cream until it has thickened but still falls from a spoon. Fold it into the custard and pour into a plastic tub or similar freeze-proof container. Freeze for 6 hours or until firm enough to scoop, beating it twice (during the freezing process – to get smoother ice cream or else the ice cream will be icy and coarse)
By Using and Ice Cream Maker: Stir the cream into the custard and churn the mixture until thick (follow instructions on your ice cream maker)

Wendy's Ice Cream Recipe
Vanilla Philadelphia Style Recipe
Preparation Time: 5 minutes

2 cups (473 ml) of half and half (1 cup of heavy cream and 1 cup of whole, full fat milk)
1 cup (237 ml) heavy cream
2/3 (128 grams) cup sugar
Dash of salt
1 (12 grams) tablespoon of vanilla

Mix all ingredients together (we do this in a plastic pitcher and mix with an emulsifier hand blender-whisking works too).
Refrigerate for 30 minutes or longer
Mix in your ice cream maker as directed.

As Always...

Happy Entertaining!!!


Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Wild Boar Sausage and Peppers!

Months ago I was lucky enough to get my hands on a whole case of organic green bell peppers. No way was I going to be able to use them all up so I froze them. Cleaned them, cut them in half and cleaned out the seeds and plopped them in freezer bags and froze them for later use. I am so glad I did this otherwise I may not have immediately thought of them when Jaden of Steamy Kitchen handed me 2 packs of wild boar sausage and some wild boar steaks!!! I have truly been blessed by Jaden's generosity! Wild boar (her hubby hunted), chicken, noodles, tomatoes, kefir lime leaves, jalapenos and the list goes on.

I got the wild boar when our families met up for the day at the Myakka River State Park. We were heading there anyway as the girls wanted to go fishing and it really is a cool place to go. The alligators are pretty much right beside you and it makes for some pretty exciting is an awesome video that Jaden made of her boys first fishing trip with us! Anyway Jaden is about 30 minutes from the park so I suggested that they meet for some fun! Turned out to be a great day. The kids caught some tiny little fish and we went home with a bunch of wild boar!!!

Because of a freezer full of peppers I knew exactly what to do. Thaw out the Italian sausage and the peppers. I always have onions so that wasn't an issue.

I cooked up the sausage in a large skillet, with a small bit of olive oil to prevents sticking. I sliced up the peppers, onions and some garlic and added them to the pan. Seasoned with some garlic powder, salt and pepper. Sometimes we eat this in a bun as a sandwich but for this one we ate it just like it was and was it ever delicious! That wild boar sausage was seasoned perfectly. I cannot wait to try the brats...

As Always...

Happy Entertaining!!!


Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Soup Anyone?

Chicken Soup...

I made the most delicious soup last night. I love it when I do that. In the process I also got to clean out and use up so many things in my fridge that I just assumed were going to go to Bertha (my composter). I was able to use up some turnips, romanesco, and swiss chard.

This is really just a basic chicken soup. I was a little lazy. I had made chicken the night before and saved all the bones. Cooked up some onion, carrot, celery and garlic in a little bit of olive oil. In a separate pan I sauteed the raw chicken parts (from the chicken the night before-neck, gizzard etc.). Added them and the bones to the veggie mixture. Added water to fill the pot nicely. Tossed in some fresh thyme and parsley and let this simmer all day long.

Later during the day I added some chopped up turnip and to finish it off I added some romanesco, swiss chard, chopped up leftover chicken and a handful of Quinoa for good measure. Taste before serving to make sure there is enough salt and pepper. I added a bit of white pepper as I find this helps to brighten the soup.

This was a delicious make ahead meal that my family loves...

I served it with this bread...

This bread is good but is it as good as Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day? No way. This bread though is super, super fast and works in a pinch. I will definitely make it again. From beginning to the oven it took me all of 5 minutes!

As Always...

Happy Entertaining!!!


Saturday, February 21, 2009

Rye Walnut Rolls

So this is my second entry into what was suppose to be a 4 part series throughout the month of February. This is all part of our Gourmet bread challenge and BYOB (Bake Your Own Bread) hosted by Sandy of At the Baker’s Bench. You could say that I was one batch behind. I keep threatening to catch up but that just may not be in the cards...

So this week I decided I just had to try the Rye Walnut Rolls. And why was that you ask? I had all the ingredients and did not have to leave the house to get anything!!!

Am I pleased with how these turned out? Somewhat. I may have messed up a bit. I DID NOT want 24 rolls so I halved the recipe. Now have more than a little experience with baking bread so this should not have been too bad but I was very distracted and even when I turned it onto my board to start kneading it was way too dry and I should have added some more liquid right then. Oh well. I eventually got the texture right but it was still a really tough dough to work with. I did not get the elasticity that I like when I am kneading bread. Also my timing was bad and I had an errand to run after I picked the girls up so I think they started to deflate from too long of a rise. Despite all of my errors these rolls turned out great. Nice sweet flavor from the onions in a nicely textured dough. T had one of these with roasted chicken, tomato and lettuce. Held up great to that!!!

When you are done here please be sure to head over to my baking buddies sites... Andrea of Andrea's Recipes; Claire of The Barefoot Kitchen (who also designed our cool badge!); Kelly of Sass & Veracity; Courtney of Coco Cooks; and Sandy of At the Baker's Bench ~ I'm sure they'll have something wonderful going on in their ovens too

Rye Walnut Rolls (Gourmet Magazine February 2009)

Makes 24 rolls.


8 to 10-inch saute pan
medium bowl
stand mixer with hook attachment
2 baking sheets, lined with parchment or lightly greased
large mixing bowl


1 medium onion, chopped (1 cup)
1 tablespoon salt, divided
1/2 cup (120 ml) olive oil
2 cups (480 ml) whole milk
1-3/4 teaspoons instant yeast (or 2 teaspoons active dry yeast)
1/4 cup (60 ml) warm water (105-115° F/41-46° C)
1 tablespoon honey or sugar
5-1/2 cups (660 g) unbleached all purpose flour, plus extra for dusting
1 cup (128 g) rye flour
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
3/4 cup (56 g) walnuts, toasted, cooled, and coarsely chopped
egg wash (1 large egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water)
1/4 cup (34 g) poppy seeds or nigella seeds


1. Heat the saute pan and cook the onion in the olive oil with 1/4 teaspoon of the salt until it’s soft, about 4 to 5 minutes. Drain the onions in the sieve over the medium bowl. Add the milk and stir.

2. In the bowl of the stand mixer, mix the all-purpose flour, rye flour, pepper, yeast, and the rest of the salt. (If using active dry yeast, stir together yeast, warm water, and honey in large bowl and let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes. If mixture doesn’t foam, start over with new yeast. Add flours and remaining salt to yeast mixture.)

3. Add the warm water and honey to the milk mixture, then pour into the dry ingredients. Mix on low until a soft dough forms. Turn the speed up to 2 and mix until the dough is smooth and elastic, up to 6 minutes. (To mix by hand, add the ingredients in order described to large mixing bowl. Stir with wood spoon until a soft dough forms. Turn the dough out onto a wooden surface that is lightly dusted with flour. Knead by hand until the dough is elastic and smooth, about 6 minutes.)

4. Add the onion and the chopped roasted walnuts, then mix again on low until everything is evenly distributed. (By hand: Pat the dough into a 9-inch square and sprinkle on the onions and walnuts. Fold the dough over to enclose the filling and pinch the edges to seal. Knead the dough to distribute the onions and walnuts throughout, about 2 minutes.) The dough will be lumpy. Push back in any pieces of onions or nuts that pop out, though this might be easier said than done.

5. Put the dough into a lightly oiled large mixing bowl and turn to coat. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and a kitchen towel. Allow to rise in a draft-free spot at warm room temperature until doubled, about 1-1/2 to 2 hours.

6. Dust a work surface with flour. Punch down the dough, but do not knead. Divide in half and cover one half with plastic wrap. Roll the other half into a 12-inch (30.5 cm) log. Cut the log into 12 equal pieces and roll each piece into a ball. Place the rolls 2 inches (5 cm) apart on the prepared baking sheet. Cover with a tea towel. Make the rest of the rolls, place on the other baking sheet, and cover.

7. Allow to rise covered at warm room temperature until doubled, up to 90 minutes.

8. Place oven racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven. Preheat to 375° F/190° C.

9. Brush the rolls with the egg wash and sprinkle with the poppy seeds. Bake for about 12 minutes, then rotate and switch the pans and bake for another 8 to 12 minutes, until golden brown.

10. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 20 minutes on a wire rack, then serve.

I am submitting this to Sandy of At the Baker’s Bench for her BYOB event as well!

As Always...

Happy Entertaining!!!


Friday, February 20, 2009

Oven Dried Tomatoes

I have definitely been blessed this year with an abundance of tomatoes. The tomato plants that I planted in the fall have served me well (that is the tomatoes that great, big, huge mutt hasn't eaten!) but my CSA has also been sending me some. As an added bonus when I visited Jaden from Steamy Kitchen I left her place with a bag of sweet little juicy tomatoes.

Well, all of these tomatoes have been adding up on my counter and I had to do something with them before they rotted. The large ones were processed using my food mill and frozen for sauce and the little ones I had decided to dry them. I knew that sun drying was not going to work out but had heard that you could easily dry them in the oven. I consulted my favorite resource...Twitter! Follow me here! and Sandy from Eat Real gave me exactly what I was looking for.

I washed and dried the tomatoes. Threw out any of them with blemishes. I first did the Roma's I had. Sliced them and tossed them in olive oil and salt and pepper. Placed them on a baking rack and turned my oven on to 225 degrees. And I cooked them...and cooked them. I checked on them about hourly and turned them over half way through. I think in total they probably cooked for about 3 hrs.

The next ones I did were the cherry tomatoes. I halved them tossed them with the olive oil, salt and pepper and threw them in...

Almost done...


These are so delicious! I am storing them in the fridge right now covered in oil. I figured to help preserve them this is the best way! I have been using them on salads and in a pasta sauce that I will post later. They can be used in the exact same way as sundried tomatoes!!!

Oh and a Happy Belated birthday Mom...did you get the flowers I sent (just kidding!)?

As Always...

Happy Entertaining!!!


Tuesday, February 17, 2009

So I spatchcocked a chicken...

Doesn't that look incredible???

And I have to tell you it is my new favorite way to prep chicken for cooking!!! The chicken is given a chance to cook more evenly and much faster than if you were to leave it whole.

Spatchcocking is simply the process of cutting out the backbone and the sternum and pressing your chicken flat. It has always intrigued me but I was a little intimidated to do it myself. When I was over at Jaden's house (Steamy Kitchen) the last dish that we started on was a spatchcocked chicken (seasoned with curry) that was browned up stove top in a cast iron skillet and then placed in the oven to finish cooking. She had added a split head of garlic and several halved clementines. She used the clementines and garlic to slightly raise the chicken from the bottom and then let it cook away in the oven. I had to leave but before the chicken was done but I couldn't stop thinking about it...

So here's what I did:

Took a small chicken and spatchcocked it, quite nicely too, and flattened it out. I seasoned it with some mixed seasoning, slat and pepper. Heated up my cast iron skillet (layer of oil on the bottom) on the stove top. Preheated the oven to 350 degrees.

Browned the chicken skin side up first then flipped it over. Squeezed a couple of clementines over the chicken and added them to the pot and stuffed them underneath the chicken along with some garlic and slices of ginger. I also threw in 2 Kafir lime leaves (Jaden had give me from her tree).

After about 35 minutes my chicken was done...I swear! This is the fastest and simplest way to cook chicken yet!!!

As Always...

happy Entertaining!!!


Saturday, February 14, 2009

Happy Valentine's Day!

Aren't they sweet looking? The girl's decorated them themselves!!!

The other day I asked on Twitter (yep I am an addict...follow me here) for a good recipe for sugar cookies. I wanted to do some cutouts for the girl's Valentine Parties. Worked out great as Elle from Elle's New England Kitchen responded to me with a perfect, huge and simple recipe.

Thanks Elle these were so awesome. They made enough for both of the girl's classrooms with some leftover for us!!!

I made a simple powdered sugar icing (1 cup powdered sugar, 1 tsp vanilla, cranberry juice (for pink without dye) added by the tsp full) and let the girls spread it on the cookies and add sprinkles before it hardened.

These were definitely a hit in the classroom and in my oldest daughters they were the only homemade ones there :)

Sugar Cookies (Elle's New England Kitchen)

6 cups flour
1 tbs baking powder
1 tsp salt
2 cups (1 lb) softened butter
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
4 tsp vanilla
2 tsp almond (or other) extract

Sift or combine the flour, baking powder and salt and set aside.
Throw all four sticks of butter and the sugar in your mixer and mix until it gets fluffy and the color gets lighter.
Add the eggs and extracts and combine.
Slowly add the flour mixture and mix until it is all combined.
Throw the whole mess into the fridge for a while to firm up
Bake 350 for 8-10 or until edges are just golden

As Always...

Happy Entertaining!!!


Thursday, February 12, 2009

Thyme and Rosemary Roasted Beets

Oven roasted beets with Rosemary and Thyme. See the pinkish tinge that white beets have picked up from the red?

I love Beets. I love them raw, pickled, boiled but I especially love them oven roasted! I first used this recipe last year when I was getting huge, beautiful beets from the farmers market.

I had some white and red beets in my fridge so I thought I would roast them up together. Not sure if the white ones taste any different or not but they certainly did look pretty altogether.

This recipe is from Jenn The Leftover Queen. She made hers into a salad using the tops and all. By the time I got around to roasting these the tops were happily in my composter doing it's thing in there!

Oven Roasted Beets (The Leftover Queen)


8 fresh beets
2 TBS olive oil
1 tsp dried rosemary
1 tsp dried thyme
salt & pepper to taste


Preheat oven to 425 F. Wash and trim beets, leaving their skins on. Wash and reserve beet greens.

Line a cookie sheet with tin foil. Place beets on cookie sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with rosemary, thyme, salt & pepper. Shake cookie sheet so that beets get coated with oil and spices. Place in the preheated oven and roast for 45 minutes or until beets are fork tender.

Take beets out of the oven and peel skins off. Note: If you care about your nails, which some people do, wear gloves, or you will have red dye under your nails for days afterwards. Do not run under water as it will wash away a lot of flavor. Cut into quarters. Drizzle with good extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar, salt & pepper. Toss and set aside.

As Alway...

Happy Entertaining!!!


Monday, February 9, 2009

Orange Pumpkin Cloverleafs

Once again I was lucky enough to be included in a baking event based around the recipes in Gourmet Magazine (remember the 12 days of Cookies?). Unfortunately with my crazy schedule and all of the things I have committed myself to life got in the way and these were suppose to be made and posted last week!!! Thank goodness my baking buddies are a pretty forgiving bunch...

This is all part of our Gourmet bread challenge and BYOB (Bake Your Own Bread) hosted by Sandy of At the Baker’s Bench. The plan was that out of the month of February we were to choose 4 recipes for rolls from 6 recipes that Gourmet Magazine and post one a week. I failed the first week but I will not them down again!!!

When you are done here please be sure to head over to my baking buddies sites... Andrea of Andrea's Recipes; Claire of The Barefoot Kitchen (who also designed our cool badge!); Kelly of Sass & Veracity; Courtney of Coco Cooks; and Sandy of At the Baker's Bench ~ I'm sure they'll have something wonderful going on in their ovens too.

For my first roll recipe I chose to make the Orange Pumpkin Cloverleafs. They turned out to be a real simple roll but I don't find much flavor in them. Could just be me though...I did have to use Clementine's instead of oranges and homemade roasted and pureed pumpkin instead of canned pumpkin. That may have made a difference!

Orange Pumpkin Cloverleafs (Gourmet Magazine)
Makes 1 dozen rolls
Active time: 40 mins Start to Finish: 4-3/4 Hr (includes rising)

3/4 stick unsalted butter, melted, divided
2 tsp active dry yeast (from a 1/4 -oz package)
1/4 cup warm milk (105-115 degrees)
1 Tbsp mild honey or sugar
2-3/4 cups all purpose flour plus more for kneading and dusting
1 -1/2 tsp salt
1/3 cup canned pure pumpkin (I used roasted and pureed pumpkin I had frozen)
2 large eggs, divided, plus one yolk (never figured out what to do with it all so only used 2 eggs)
1/2 tsp grated orange zest (I used Clementine's :))
2 Tbs fresh orange juice (I used Clementine's-seeing a trend here?)
1 Tbsp water

Equipment: 12 holed muffin tin
  • Butter muffin cups with 1 Tbsp melted butter.
  • Stir together yeast, warm milk, and honey or sugar in a large bowl and let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes (if mixture doesn't foam, start over with new yeast)
  • Mix flour, pumpkin, 1 whole egg, yolk, orange zest and juice, and remaining 5 Tbsp butter into yeast mixture with a wooden spoon or spatula until soft dough forms. Turn out dough onto a floured surface and knead, dusting surface and hands with just enough flour to keep the dough from sticking, until dough is elastic and smooth, 6-8 minutes. Form dough into a ball.
  • Put dough in an oiled large bowl and turn to coat. Cover bowl with some plastic wrap and a kitchen towel and let rise in a draft free place at warm room temperature until doubled about 1-1/2 - 2 hrs.
  • Punch down dough (do not knead) then halve. Roll half of dough on a lightly floured surface with lightly floured hands into a 12 inch long log (keep remaining half covered in plastic.)
  • Cut log into 6 equal pieces, then cut each piece into thirds. Roll each piece into a 1 inch ball by cupping your hand and pushing dough against work surface as you roll in circular motion. Put 3 balls side by side in each of 6 muffin cups.
  • Make more rolls with the remaining dough in the same manner. Cover rolls with a kitchen towel (not terry cloth) and let rise in a draft-free place at warm room temperature until dough is about 1 inch above the rim of the muffin cups, 1 to 1-1/2 hrs.
  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees with rack in the middle.
  • Whisk together the remaining egg and water and brush on top of rolls. (You will have leftover egg wash).
  • Bake until golden brown, about 20 minutes. Transfer to a rack and cool at least 20 minutes.
  • Cooks note: Rolls are best the day they are made but can be frozen (cool completely, then wrap well) 1 month. Thaw, then reheat on a baking sheet in a 350 degree oven until warmed through, 5-10 minutes.
I am submitting this to Sandy of At the Baker’s Bench for her BYOB event as well!

As Always...

Happy Entertaining!!!


Blogging friends or simply friends...

Jenn and Roberto at the Sanibel Lighthouse!

What a wonderful thing it is when the lines becomes blurred and the people that you have called your "blogging friends" turn into your real and just normal everyday friends. People you talk to everyday and end up sharing parts of your life with without ever meeting them. Does that make them any less of a friend because the distance is too far to just drive over and see them?

I guess I have proved that this weekend and I still hold onto my belief that food bloggers are some of the best people anywhere.

We were lucky enough to have Jenn (The Leftover Queen), hubby Roberto and cute puppy Pepino to stay with us for the weekend. You would think I have a ton of pictures of all of the food we made and the eating we did but sadly, no! I think we were so busy talking and just hanging out that we forgot to take pictures.

Dinner Friday night was delicious. I had marinated some Pork in Peter's Souvlaki marinade, Jenn and I made a Greek salad, bread (Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes bread), tzatziki, roasted potatoes and Jenn made some Baba Ganouche while I went and picked up the girls!

We ended up sitting up late just talking...

Saturday night we did an impromptu invite of some of my closest friends. Funny thing is they had a friend visiting them. Turned into a really fun night featuring a 25 pound pan of sausage lasagna that T. made and some good cheap wine!!! Thanks for coming Karen it was great meeting you!!!

Jenn and I were able to at least focus and start and complete our DB Challenge for the month. Look at me...almost 20 days early too!

Sunday we went to the beach and had a wonderful time just strolling and checking out several area beaches. We have some real pretty ones here!

Really I have some food posts coming up. I "splatchcocked" a chicken so stay tuned!!!

As Always...

Happy Entertaining!!!


Friday, February 6, 2009

So, have you missed me?

I truly think that since I have started this blog this is probably the longest I have ever gone without posting! I can't even really tell you why I haven't, or I guess I could but who really cares (Oh, I know YOU do!).

Since I last posted I have:

Started a new job (from home but it even pays...)
Said good bye to my sister and cried for about 2 days because of it
Done the laundry, cleaned my house, grocery shopped, cooked and meal planned
Volunteered at my girl's school
Youngest started karate
Slept and not slept
prepped for my next round of visitors...Jenn (The Leftover Queen), Roberto and Pepperoncino!
that's about it...

Wait, I also got to have a play date with............Jaden of Steamy Kitchen!!! How lucky am I????

Jaden is truly an incredible person and a natural born teacher. Seeing as I have no (and I truly mean no) knowledge of Asian cooking beyond what I get served in sushi places or a Japanese Steakhouse she was kind and incredibly patient with all of my questions!

As an added bonus I got to leave with a grocery bag (no joke here!) of goods. I have jalapenos and lime leaves from her garden, tofu, noodles and some of the wonderful sauce that we made when I was there, and a plethora of other things that she so generously kept shoving in.

I have a noggin now full of photography knowledge and even some things I can do to help mine out without buying the Mother of all cameras!!! The only thing I did not get was some of that wonderful Wild Boar that they have in a cooler in their garage!!! Not yet butchered and I wasn't really up to doing that myself!

Did I get a picture of Jaden and me? Nope sadly not but she has one and will send it to me when she can and I will post it here.

What I did get was a great recipe with tons of instruction along the way! Jaden had chosen to try a recipe from Heidi of a 101 Cookbooks, granted it was heavily modified but this was the inspiration behind it...

I took this picture from the same set up as Jaden had. You should see hers. Absolutely beautiful...I have major camera envy!!!

Otsu (101 Cookbooks)

Grated zest of 1 lemon
Fresh ginger, cut into a 1-inch cube, peeled, and grated
1 tablespoon honey
3/4 teaspoon cayenne
3/4 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 cup unseasoned brown-rice vinegar
1/3 cup shoyu sauce (wheat-free soy sauce)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil

12 ounces dried soba noodles
12 ounces extra-firm nigari tofu
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
3 green onions, thinly sliced
1/2 cucumber, peeled, cut in half lengthwise, seeded, and thinly sliced
1 small handful of cilantro sprigs, for garnish
1/4 cup toasted sesame seeds, for garnish

Make the dressing by combining the zest, ginger, honey, cayenne, and salt in a food processor (or use a hand blender) and process until smooth. Add the lemon juice, rice vinegar, and shoyu, and pulse to combine. With the machine running, drizzle in the oils.

Cook the soba in plenty of rapidly boiling salted water just until tender, then drain and rinse under cold running water.

While the pasta is cooking, drain the tofu, pat it dry, and cut it into rectangles roughly the size of your thumb (½ inch thick and 1 inch long). Cook the tofu in a dry nonstick (or well-seasoned) skillet over medium-high heat for a few minutes, until the pieces are browned on one side. Toss gently once or twice, then continue cooking for another minute or so, until the tofu is firm, golden, and bouncy.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the soba, the ¼ cup cilantro, the green onions, cucumber, and about ⅔ cup of the dressing. Toss until well combined. Add the tofu and toss again gently. Serve on a platter, garnished with the cilantro sprigs and the toasted sesame seeds.

***I loved this recipe and now that I have gotten over my "fear" of Asian cooking I will be making this again and again. The ingredient list seemed so long and foreign to me but once it is broken down and explained it takes most of the intimidation out of it!!! I brought the leftovers home and my whole family was humped up over a big bowl of this just slurping away!

As Always...

Happy Entertaining!!!


Monday, February 2, 2009

Apple Fritters for Breakfast?

I woke up early Sunday morning and the house was silent. I looked at the wasn't that early but everyone seemed to be snoozing well. Strange thing in my house. Usually at least one other person is up when I am.

Anyway, my sister is still here until today and I wanted sort of a special kind of breakfast. One that she and her husband would never have. Then I remember what I had seen the other day in Starbuck's! A great big huge, honkin' Apple Fritter. I just knew I had to make them!!!! I didn't want the big ones just the nice tiny little balls all covered with some sweet and gooey icing sugar. This was a wonderful surprise for everyone as they woke up to fresh coffee and homemade apple fritters. Sunday's don't get much better than that do they?

They were delicious and I will be making these again and again. They came together real quick and were not a fussy donut. They were not a yeast donut but not heavy and cakey at all! I want to try them with some whole wheat flout the next time I make them so will let you know how they turn out then. Until then this recipe will do!!!

Apple Fritters (From The Picky Apple)

  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup chopped apple
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons milk
Directions: Combine flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, cinnamon. Stir in milk and egg until just combined. Fold in apple. Pour oil into skillet so that it is approximately 1 1/2 deep. Heat oil on high. Oil is ready when dough floats to top. Carefully add dough to oil in heaping teaspoons. Cook until brown, about 2 minutes, then flip. Cook another 1-2 minutes, until both sides are browned. Transfer briefly to paper towels to absorb excess oil, then transfer to cooling rack. Make glaze by stirring milk and powdered sugar together in a small bowl. Drizzle over apple fritters. Wait approximately 3 minutes for glaze to harden, then flip fritters and drizzle glaze over the other side. Best served warm.
I am submitting this to BYOB (Bake Your Own Bread) hosted by Sandy of At the Baker's Bench. This is a great challenge to get you baking more of your own baked goods. Better for you and cheaper in the process!
As Always...

Happy Entertaining!!!