Friday, January 30, 2009

Chocolate Raisin Pie

Recipe Later.

Hot Dogs

I Had To Get Out Of Bed And Feed My Family

...because this is what Mr. Eat The Blog was eating!

Those are beef hot dogs and some sort of grilled cabbage and red pepper side dish. I should probably point out that I despise hot dogs, and am not too crazy about the smell either.

I posted the picture because it was attractive...if you don't spend too much time thinking about what it is. Given the choice, I think I'd have an easier time of a haggis than a hot dog. Yeah, I grew up in Chicago and I hate hot dogs. Go figure.



Blood Orange, Cara Cara and Meyer Lemon Granita

This is dangerously good. Thankfully, the season for these fruits is short so I won't be ploughing through a pint of this a night.

You will Need:
1 cup of citrus juice, strained (I used the combination in the title)
Simple syrup made of 1 cup water and 3/4 cup sugar

Mix them together in a glass tray and set it in the freezer. Give it a scrape once an hour until it comes together (about 4 hours). Hide from everyone else-eat quickly over the kitchen sink before anyone notices you have fancy granita.

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Citrus Tarts

These were the perfect no-effort tarts.

You Will Need:

Pastry crust-blind baked in tarts pans and cooled on racks

1 cup sugar
4 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup water
2 tablespoons grated rind of Meyer lemons
1/2 cup Meyer lemon juice
2 tablespoons unsalted butter

Combine in a saucepan, whisking constantly over medium heat until it comes to a boil. Cook one minute longer, remove from heat and chill before using.

Kumquats for garnish

I used the Meyer lemons because I was gifted a bag of them. I used most of them in a barley risotto, and had just enough left for this filling. The lemons were nice, but not nice enough to justify the cost as there are other citruses I would rather fork over money for. Since these were a gift, I was able to enjoy them guiltlessly. I know you people in California are laughing at Meyer lemons being an exotic purchase but I live in Nowhere Nebraska, so these are kind of special.

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Monday, January 26, 2009

The Doldrums

Mr. Eat The Blog has been reading The Phantom Tollbooth to Danny each evening as a chapter book. The idea of being stuck in a geographical place called "The Doldrums" has really delighted Danny and for Days I had to listen to :

"People who don't pay attention often get stuck in the doldrums, Mama? Mama?! Are you paying attention? You don't want to get stuck in the doldrums!"

Well really, who wants that? So I grabbed an empty plastic jar with a lid and labeled it:

Anti-Doldrum Liquid, Apply Generously.

Guess who has been having a grand time pouring invisible anti-doldrum liquid on my head? Yeah, I'm just going to stop buying him toys altogether. Today, I gave the kid a bunch of fabric remnants cut into odd shapes, and he spent a couple hours playing with them. Did you know a piece of blue fabric makes a good lake for toy boats?

Anyway, I am still dealing with some illness that is keeping me away from the kitchen (yeah, again), and in bed more than I'd like. On the bright side, I'm nearly finished with the king sized embroidered quilt I've been working on for years, and I have been able to pass the time watching the retro television station (hey, that DTV converter box works great. We only got about three stations before). Danny is making sure I don't get stuck in the doldrums-so overall I would say we're all doing pretty well.

In other news, I'm going to be switching to a different computer that runs Linux and until we figure out a good way to get the computer to read the camera software, pictures might be scarce. It is always such a pain making switches like that, though when I've run Linux in the past I've been pretty happy-I'm sure we'll figure this out. Probably a good time to work on it as I'm not posting much these days.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Sunday Cannibal Jokes

Have you noticed most cannibal jokes are not in good taste?

Friday, January 23, 2009

That's Mr. Eat The Blog's Heritage

Anyone for a wee bit of haggis for Burns Night?

Really, people carry on much too much about the stuff. I can understand why offal grosses out the popcorn and fish fingers crowd, but for heaven's sake, it's basically a sausage. In the comment thread people are talking about battering and frying it, which sounds marvelous. The Scottish like to batter and fry candy bars too, which also sounds marvelous. Whiskey and wine in the same bottle-not so marvelous.

Anyway, if you ever wanted to see a step-by-step slideshow of a haggis being prepared, the Guardian has one up today.

Stir Fry Idea

It dawned on me that the Asian basil kind of has an anisette taste anyway, so I went ahead and cut up a fennel bulb to stir fry along with the bok choy and carrots. It was a good call. I served this with rice and some dumplings I made and froze in July (I steamed and lightly pan fried them and they came up great).

Buttermilk Chocolate Cake With Rich Ganache And Poor Decorating Skills

I think this beauty might be a candidate for Cake Wrecks. At least I'm not charging anyone money for it. I know, you're wondering what's with the balls/knobs/wheel spokes.

I had extra cake left from when I trimmed the layers and it seemed a shame to toss them out, so I mixed the crumbs with some extra ganache and then coated them in even more ganache and made a sort of truffle. My mistake was in affixing them to the cake. Can you imagine the reaction you'd get serving this thing to someone for Valentine's.

Looks aside, this is a wonderful cake. Chocolate, orange, buttermilk-what's not to like? (except of course the absurd look of the thing?). The recipe for the cake went well, the frosting did not. Rather than give it a second try to see what went wrong, I made my tried and true chocolate ganache that I knew everyone would like. I also went ahead and filled the cake with some of the blood orange marmalade because chocolate and orange is God's gift. Really, if there's a better taste combination I've yet to discover it. Besides, I had the extra marmalade in the fridge that wasn't quite enough for canning another half pint and it needed to get used. The pink decoration is the end of a bag of not-very-interesting candy melts that I added a bit of colour to. Good enough for detailing, but not something you'd want to eat much of (fake vanilla, mmmm).

The cake recipe comes from the Country cakes book I've already raved about at length (though I was kind of dissapointed at how the suggested frosting failed so horribly). The ganache recipe is mine and I leave a lot of room for improvisation depending on how rich you like your coating. You'll have extra for making truffles...just don't stick them on the sides of the cake, Einstein!

For The Cake:

2 cups sifted cake flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter softened at room temperature
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2 extra large eggs at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 ounces unsweetened chocolate, melted and cooled
1 1/2 cups buttermilk at room temperature

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Lightly butter and flour the inside of two 9 inch baking pans. Place a piece of waxed paper (I used parchment) inside and grease and flour it as well. Set aside.

Sift the flour, baking soda and salt together and set aside.

Cream the butter in a mixing bowl until light-about three minutes. Add the sugar in two additions slowly and beat until light. Beat in the eggs one at a time. Mix well. Blend in the vanilla and chocolate and beat on low speed until it is incorporated. Alternately, add the flour in three additions and the milk in two starting and ending with the flour. Pour into pans and smooth. Place on a rack in the lower third of the oven. Bake 25-30 minutes or until the centre comes out clean and sides begin to pull away. Cool in pans on rack five minutes. Run a thin knife around edge and empty onto rack. Cool completely before frosting. Chill cake layers and filling before coating.

Filling: Marmalade or jam of your choice

To Make Ganache:

13 ounces bittersweet or semi-sweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons corn syrup
1 tablespoon vanilla( liquor, or other extract)

Heat the cream and syrup until steaming. Pour over chocolate in a large bowl and let sit five minutes. Add vanilla and whisk until smooth. Position cake on a rack over a baking sheet. Pour and spread the ganache quickly, smoothing as you go. Let harden in fridge and chill several hours before serving.

Use extra ganache to make truffles by forming hardened ganache into balls and rolling in cocoa powder.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Possibly Too Much Butter, Even For Me

These are the cookies from the December cover of Gourmet, except after tasting one, I decided there was no way I was going to fill them and make sandwich cookies. True, they should have been smaller, but even so-these cookies are just too rich for a filling-and that's coming from someone who considers butter a single food group.

Truthfully, I didn't care for them. Danny was indifferent to them as well, even with the lure of shiny sugar. They weren't bad, they just weren't very good. Thankfully, the cookies were simple to make and I didn't feel like I used a great deal of energy making them. I'm sure they won't go to waste, but i could have found better use for two sticks of butter.

I was hoping they would be good, as I need some cookie recipes that can be adapted for Valentine's Day. I need a gift for a cookie-lover who has a birthday near the holiday. I guess I could make THESE again, but that's not the sort of thing everyone finds funny. I thought they were hilarious, which is probably a sign that they wouldn't make a good gift.

Oh well, back to the cookie drawing board.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Fast, Fresh Bread

This is an excellent loaf for days when you don't have time to wait for a preferment. The dough comes together nicely and depending on the warmth of your kitchen can be through the first rise in about an hour. While it does not give the wheat a chance to develop the flavour of a slow-rise, the olive oil makes up for it producing a nice, rich yet light loaf.

You Will Need:

2 cups lukewarm water
1 tablespoon sugar
3 1/8 teaspoons granulated (not instant) yeast
1 tablespoon salt
1/4 cup olive oil
5-6 cups bread flour

Dissolve the yeast and sugar in a large bowl with the warm water. Let proof about ten minutes. Add the olive oil and the salt. Add the flour, a cup at a time until you have a dough that can be kneaded. Remove to a board and knead about ten minutes, adding more flour if too sticky. Return dough to a greased bowl and let rise until doubled-1-2 hours depending on the temperature of your home.

Punch down dough and let rest ten minutes.

Dust a baking sheet with semolina (I prefer this to cornmeal as the texture is less coarse, but you could use either) and preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. If you use a pan for steam in the oven, heat it at the same time.

Shape the dough, dust with a bit of flour on top and cover with a cloth towel. Let rise until almost doubled-45 minutes to an hour.

Slash loaf in two long vertical cuts (rather than the sideways slashes) to help the bread expand in the oven, and create steam using whatever method you prefer. Load the bread and bake 20 minutes. Rotate pan and bake another 10-15 minutes or until bread is done. Cool on rack.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Buttermilk Gorgonzola Salad Dressing

I wanted something light to compliment a salad of butter lettuces and beets. I had a wedge of Gorgonzola in the fridge, and for a change, buttermilk as well. Mr. Eat The Blog declared it success, and will be enjoying it again tomorrow.

You Will Need:

1/2 cup crumbled Gorgonzola cheese (I used Amablue, from the Amana Colony in Iowa)
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper

Toss it all in a blender until mixed. You don't want to puree it smooth, as a few crumbles of cheese are nice in a dressing.

Apple-Ginger Upside-Down Cake

This was a very simple cake to make which was perfect because I'm not up for anything difficult at the moment. The recipe is the third I have made from a wonderful book, Country Cakes, a Homestyle Treasury by, Lisa Yockelson. The cakes have all been exceptional. I really love that many of the recipes are for small cakes, such as this one.

Some of the techniques I adapted for better results in my kitchen. Sifting dry ingredients onto waxed paper might work with more counter space, but I'm also the sort of person that would spill it all over the floor anyway. I used a bowl.

The only change I made in the recipe was the use of crystalised ginger for the preserved ginger in syrup. The cake has enough moisture that it plumped up nicely in the cooking.

Again, I cannot say enough nice things about this cookbook.

You Will Need:

For the fruit:

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup granulated sugar blended with 1/4 teaspoon ginger and 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon.
1 large tart cooking apple, peeled, cored and sliced 1/4 inch thick and tossed in a bowl with 1 tablespoon lemon juice.
1 tablespoon chopped preserved ginger

For the cake batter:

1 1/3 cups all purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
Pinch ground cloves
3 tablespoons shortening
1 tablespoon butter, softened
1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 extra large egg at room temperature
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup plus1 tablespoon milk at room temperature

Lightly butter an 8 inch pan. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. with a rack in the lower third position. Pour the melted butter on the bottom of the pan and spread the sugar and spice mixture evenly over it. Arrange the apples in spirals and top with the ginger. Set aside.

Sift the dry ingredients together in a bowl and set aside. In a large mixing bowl, combine the butter and shortening and beat well until light-a couple minutes. Add the sugar and vanilla. blend in the maple syrup and egg and mix well for a minute longer. Reduce speed to low and add half the flour, then all the milk, then remaining flour. Spoon evenly over apples in pan.

Bake 35-40 minutes or until it tests done and begins to pull away from the sides of the pan. Let cool 4 minutes in the pan. Run a thin knife around the cake and carefully unmould onto a plate. Serve warm with whipped cream.

Friday, January 16, 2009

I Don't Feel Like Cooking

-and I think it shows.

Anyway, here are two of the things I made today that I didn't ruin, though the pie wasn't terribly interesting because the blackberries were flavourless. At least that isn't due to my cooking.

The pie really was simple-I had blackberries packed in syrup in the freezer that I thawed, tossed with flour and put in a pie crust. Baked it at 425 for 40 minutes. Done.

The rye bread is the same sourdough rye I always make and it tasted like it always does-good old reliable rye bread, handy with cheese which is a good thing because I don't plan to cook much over the weekend. I always said if being in the kitchen got to be too difficult I'd stop, and I think I might be at that point. The past couple days have been pretty miserable and I'm trying to keep a stiff upper lip and all that, but I do think it is time to accept that I just cannot do all the things I would like to.

Oh God, that sounds depressing, doesn't it? All right quick-someone tell a cannibal joke.

So did I mention the well froze? Really, not the pipes to the house-the damn well, waaay down in the ground, frozen. I had no idea that could even happen.

OK, so two cannibal are eating dinner and one cannibal says:
"Are you enjoying the missionary?"
and the other cannibal replies:
"Oh yes, this is much better than the pork pies they fed us at the London School of Economics."

Just admire my bread and pie and I'll be back when I'm feeling better.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Apricot And Fig Compote With Wine

The light in here is not helping my crummy camera any, but it is waaaay too cold to take it outside into natural light for a photo. Brrrr. Midwestern winter.

Sometimes I'm at my best using up what I have. In this case, it was some dried fruit lurking in the back of the fridge, an open bottle of red wine, tangerines and herbs. As I was juicing the tangerines this morning I didn't really have anything in mind other than drinking it-sometimes ideas just present themselves, and that's what happened here. I'm going to serve this with vanilla ice cream for dessert.

You Will Need:

10 dried figs
10 dried apricots
1 cup tangerine juice
1 tablespoon chopped crystalised ginger
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 bay leaf
salt to taste (about 1/2 teaspoon)
1/2 cup dry red wine

bring everything to a boil in a non-reactive pan and cook until the alcohol burns off (a few minutes). Reduce heat and simmer until thickened and syrupy. Don't cook all the liquid out as it will soak up more as it sits and cools. At some point in the cooking, give the figs a gentle poke with a wooden spoon to release some of their insides and let the liquid permeate. You don't need to chop the fruit, or mash it-just a small bit of pressure will do.

Chill, but bring to room temperature before serving.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Blood Orange Marmalade

This made a whole lot of marmalade. I got 10 half pints. That's quite a bit. I know I said I wouldn't share any of my precious blood orange jellies and marmalade, but that's a bit much, even for me.

It was late when I took the photo, but it does have the most beautiful burnt orange colour. I really do feel that these oranges were worth every penny, and I have two left which I intend to eat before bed (before anyone else sees them and tries to get their filthy mitts on my Moros).

You Will Need:

2 cups thinly sliced blood orange peel
1 quart chopped orange pulp
1 cup thinly sliced whole lemons (seeds removed, slices cut in half)
1 1/2 quarts water

Combine everything except sugar. Bring to a boil, reduce to simmer and let cook 5 minutes. Remove from heat, cover and let stand in a cool place 12-18 hours.

Bring rapidly to a boil and cook until peels are tender. Measure peels and liquid. Add 1 cup of sugar for each cup of fruit and liquid. Stir in sugar and bring to a boil rapidly over high heat. Cook until just before the gelling point.

Pack into hot jars, remove air bubbles and wipe treads clean. Screw on caps and process ten minutes in a boiling water canner. Let cool five minutes in canner before removing to counter to cool. Let cool 12-24 hours before testing seals.


This probably wasn't the smartest thing to do today, feeling as lousy as I do-but that's never stopped me before. As you can see, my shaping isn't very good, though the croissants fell apart in a way that you can admire the flaky layers. Are you admiring the flaky layers? Good. Actually, they could have been flakier.

The recipe was, adequate. I've made better. I'm going to post it because it is a simpler, less involved way of making pastry though really, nothing to write home about. I wanted to try it because I've had such great luck with breads in the Better Homes and Gardens books, but this really did amount to a waste of my time because I know how to make pastry dough. If this were a first attempt, it might be a good way of transitioning into learning. Maybe. I'm not one of those people that will insist there is one way and only one way to make something. People get pretty hung up on that sort of thing. I'll chalk it up to preference.

I did find this dough too elastic and difficult to handle. I wasn't able to roll it quite as thin as I'd have liked. Perhaps less flour would have helped, but I also think the amount of yeast had something to do with it. I don't think anyone will spit these out in disgust, but they won't make you swoon either.

You Will Need:

1-cup butter

1/3 cup all purpose flour

3 ¾-4 cups all purpose flour

4 ½ teaspoons granulated (not instant) dry yeast

1 ¼ cups milk

¼ cup sugar

1-teaspoon salt

1 egg

1 egg yolk plus 1 tablespoon milk for brushing

Cream the butter with the 1/3 cup of flour. Roll out between two sheets of waxed paper to a 12x16 rectangle. Chill several hours.

In a large mixing bowl, combine 1-½ cups of flour with the yeast. In a saucepan, heat the milk, sugar and salt until just warmed and sugar is dissolved. Cool to lukewarm. Add milk mixture to the flour and add the egg. Beat on low 30 seconds and then beat on high for three minutes.

Add enough of the remaining flour to make a soft dough. Knead it well for about five minutes or until smooth. Cover and let rest 10 minutes.

Roll dough out dough to a 14-inch square. Place the butter on one half and fold the rest of the dough over it pinching the edges shut. Roll dough to a 20x12 rectangle. If butter softens (it will) chill after each rolling. Repeat rolling and folding two more times. Chill 30 minutes.

Shape, doing a better job than I did-into a dozen pieces. Place on an ungreased baking sheet to rise again-about 45 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Brush croissants with egg yolk and milk and bake about fifteen minutes or until done. Cool on racks. Admire flaky-could-be-flakier-layers.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Flatbread Day Two, And Other Projects

I gave that flatbread another try, this time using a bit more yeast in the sponge and then sticking it in the fridge for several hours after the second rise. It was much lighter with a more open crumb. I'm making yet another sponge tonight using the same basic ingredients but I'll use minuscule amounts of yeast, more water and let it rise an extra day in the fridge. I feel like I'm getting very close to a style of bread we used to get in Boston-but not quite. Anyway, we've been enjoying the breads. For lunch today I made Danny a pannini with mushrooms, onions and broccoli with a bit of Swiss cheese. I sliced the flatbread thin and then weighted it in the frying pan. I think we may have a new favourite sandwich.

If I finally achieve the bread I'm shooting for I'm going to pop open one of those jars of roasted red pepper spread I made, and eat the whole jar.

Finally, I have peel and pulp of blood oranges sitting overnight for marmalade tomorrow. I really hate making marmalade because it is beyond tedious to thinly slice the peel of a dozen oranges. It took about an hour. I know it will be worth it, but what a pain.

Lamb Day Four-With Mushrooms And Cream Over Pasta

The problem with posting a recipe for lamb and mushrooms is that all you really get is a blob of brown food. Maybe with a better camera and some decent lighting I could make it look attractive, but since I can't here's a picture of a Peruvian child playing with a lamb, and a nice botanical print of mushrooms. Beyond that, you'll have to employ some imagination-you can picture some rigatoni, right? You know, they're round macaroni. OK good, so we've got lamb, mushrooms and a Peruvian kid who we won't cook unless he grows up to play those irritating wind pipes-then all bets are off.

This made quite a bit and used the last of the roast lamb. The freezer is full of curried lamb, and overall it made quite a bit of food. I still have the other leg which I'm saving for Easter. I did not try any myself, but Mr. Eat The Blog raved and so did a co-worker with whom he shared, so I'll take their word for it.

This isn't an exacting type of recipe, so feel free to vary the amounts to suit your leftovers.

You Will Need:

2 cups diced roasted lamb
1 pound mushrooms, sliced
4 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup sliced shallots
2 large cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 cup chopped parsley
1 teaspoon dried thyme
Salt and pepper
1/2 cup red wine (I used Cabernet)
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon flour
Cooked pasta
A few pinches of grated Swiss cheese and chopped parsley for topping

In a large pan, heat the butter and oil over medium heat. Add the mushrooms, shallots and garlic. Cook until mushrooms begin to soften and toss off some liquid. Add the parsley and thyme. Add salt and pepper. Add the lamb. Turn the heat to high and add the red wine. Cook until most of it burns off leaving a bit of liquid in the pan (mostly from the mushrooms). Reduce heat to low, cover and cook about twenty minutes until the lamb is soft. Remove lid and add the cream. Cook until cream is heated through and then sprinkle the flour over and stir quickly to incorporate. Remove from heat and toss with pasta. Serve topped with a bit of Swiss cheese.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

An Interesting Flatbread

I'm going to try this again tomorrow with an even wetter dough. Here's what I did, though I wouldn't call it a recipe.

Sponge Night Before:
4 cups bread flour
1/8 teaspoon instant yeast
1/2 tablespoon salt
Enough water to make a wet, soupy mixture

Mix well, cover and let sit overnight.

Next Day:

Into the sponge add:

1/2 teaspoon instant yeast
1/2 tablespoon salt
2-3 cups bread flour

Add the flour to the sponge gradually. It should be really wet so that you are essentially mixing it with your hands, but not really kneading it smooth. After about ten minutes of this, turn it out of the bowl onto a baking sheet covered with about a cup of flour. Give the dough blob a fold horizontally and the vertically, dusting off any excess flour. Cover with a towel and let rise about an hour. Fold it again in both directions being careful not to add too much flour. Let rise another hour, fold again.

Let rise another forty minutes. Dust a baking sheet with semolina. Stretch out the dough into a flat shape and transfer to the sheet. Toss lightly with some flour on top and cover with a towel. Let rise another hour. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. If you use a pan to create steam, heat it at this time as well.

Before transferring dough to oven, use a sharp pair of scissors to make a series of tiny cuts on top to create a dimpling effect. Create steam in oven, load the bread and bake 20 minutes. Rotate pan and bake another ten minutes or so or until bread has an internal temperature of around 200 degrees F.

Cool on rack.

Morro Blood Orange Jelly

I did two canning batches today (I like to re-use the water that's already in the canner). The first (in the pint jars in the background) was a strawberry/lemon marmalade. The recipe had a problem: it listed 4 cups of crushed berries and said t was about 2 quarts. Where I'm from, 4 cups is a quart. I should have made something else, but instead I went with 6 cups. It is softer than a marmalade should be, though still pleasant enough. I'm not posting the recipe because it is obviously lacking detail and it wasn't that special anyway.

The blood oranges are another story. Oh my, my, my this is a special jelly. It should be, of course given how dear those oranges are, but really, it was worth it to have such a spectacular jelly. You won't see this sitting on the shelf at Hy-Vee. Usually, I'm happy to give away jars of my shimmering canning projects, but I don't think I'm going to be sharing these. Oh my goodness, that's some fancy jelly.

I have about seven pounds of oranges left and I'll probably make marmalade with them. I might just throw caution to the wind and make a batch of sorbet, or can some slices in a honey syrup. I don't think I can convince Mr. Eat The Blog to let me buy any more this season unless the price comes down dramatically, so I want to make the most of what I have. I sound kind of obsessive, huh? It's funny, for a food blogger I'm pretty indifferent to most food (go figure). I enjoy preparing more than eating-except in the case of blood oranges which I would happily eat until sickness sets in, if I could afford it.

The recipe is identical to the one for Mandarin orange jelly, except that I substituted the blood oranges. They do tend to be a bit drier, so prepare much more chopped pulp than you think you'll need. Any extra can be mixed with vodka (not that I would ever do that) or reduced into a syrup. But do make extra-I ended up using every last drop.

Sunday Cannibal Jokes

Two cannibals are walking along a street talking.

"Hey", says one cannibal "Want to go over to the Head Hunter's Country Club for lunch?"
"Nah" says the other cannibal, "It's a bit too rich for my tastes."

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Updated Blogroll

I've been meaning to do the update for a while-but I'm lazy. So new year, new links. Go on, get out of here and go read some interesting blogs.

At Least No One Is Getting Scurvy Around Here

I might have gone a bit overboard, but I have fifteen pounds (!) of Moro blood oranges ready for canning as slices in syrup, marmalade and jelly. I do like blood oranges. I keep thinking it is a very good thing I do not have access to Seville oranges.

Anyway, canning is expected over the next couple of days, though truthfully I don't feel much up to it. I've been severely anemic along with a nice big lupus flare and all I want to do is crawl back into bed...after I can the oranges. Oh come on, have you ever seen how beautiful those suckers are? If ever there were a project worth knocking myself out over, this is it. Oh, you should have seen the look on Mr. Eat The Blog's face when he saw how much I spent on oranges. We won't talk about that. At least the leg of lamb was cheap (cheaper per pound than the oranges anyway...).

In other news:
I've completely lost my mind and am growing my own vinegar "mother." I don't know why-I guess because I have a book that details how to go about it. I figure at the very least, it will make a good science project for Danny. The instructions are in a frightening old publication put out by Ortho (yes, that Ortho aka Chevron Chemical Corporation) that has exciting sections with scary titles like "Let's Pickle Something New!"

OK, let's.

So between the pickled day lily buds and banana slices, I can grow vinegar, pickle salmon with spruce twigs, and if I'm still alive to tell about it, I can pickle some geranium leaves with mint. I'll have to pass on making pickled Cow's tongue as saltpetre is unfortunately no longer available at the druggist. I'm told it has some sort of use in making explosives. OK, so no tongue-but I'm totally making the vinegar.

Roast Lamb Curry With Chickpeas-Lamb, Day Three

Still working on that leg of lamb, I made a large batch of curry to freeze in individual servings for lunches. At least that was the plan-someone has already helped himself to a couple generous bowls.

This would make an excellent meal served over rice or potatoes, with flatbread.

You Will Need:

4 tablespoons cooking oil (possibly more)
2 large onions, chopped
1 cup celery, chopped
2 cups diced, roast lamb
4 cups cooked chickpeas
1 14.5 oz tin of whole tomatoes, including juice
2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
10 dried apricots, quartered
1/2 cup grated coconut

Spice Mix:
2 tablespoons dried coriander
1 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes (more or less to taste)
Salt to taste (use less if using tinned chickpeas)
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon turmeric

In a large, heavy pot, put the oil in and heat over medium. Add the onion and celery and cook a few minutes until softened. Add the apricots and coconut and cook a fe minutes more. Add the ginger and more oil if everything is starting to stick. Mix the spices together in a bowl and add to the pot. Cook about a minute to distribute well. Add the lamb and chickpeas. Again, if you need more oil, go ahead and add it. When everything is well coated in oil and distributed well, add enough water to cover the contents of the pot. Cook it over medium heat until it reduces to a thick sauce. After the first ten minutes you can reduce it to a simmer and let it cook slowly, but in my experience this isn't necessary. Curry will continue to develop flavour sitting in the fridge-a slow cooking is not really required.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Lamb, Day Two

I made pita bread today and deliberately made them large for wrap sandwiches. For Mr. Eat The Blog's dinner, I sliced the lamb as thin as possible. In a small pot I heated 2 tablespoons olive oil and 1 tablespoon ground cumin. I made a paste and cooked it over medium heat for about a minute and then added 2 cups of beef stock, 4 thinly sliced shallots, and some black pepper. I added the lamb to the pot and then simmered it for about twenty minutes. I served it in a pita with yoghurt, leftover cous cous, and hummus made from chickpeas, olive oil and a generous amount of lemon (no tahini). Sort of like a Middle Eastern burrito, but not quite a shwarma either.

Tomorrow, I plan to make a few batches of lamb curry to freeze in individual servings for future lunches. I'll probably get a couple pot pies and some Scotch broth out of it as well. I should mention that Mr. Eat The Blog is the only one eating all this (though he took some to work to share with someone today) so freezing meals makes sense (he does not need to eat six pounds of lamb in a week. He could, but i won't let him).

Strawberry Trifle

I couldn't bear to throw away the last of the sour cream pound cake from earlier in the week-so I repurposed it. Come on, I am not throwing away cake.

Last June, when I was freezing and canning strawberries, Mr. Eat The Blog looked at me like it was a colossal waste of time. After all, you can get strawberries year round now. Right-for six dollars a quart and they don't taste like strawberries. The frozen berries that went into this trifle still smelled, and tasted like strawberries and had nary a trace of freezer burn to show for their time in storage.

A proper trifle should have pudding or custard and a good soaking of booze. I skipped both and went for whipped cream sweetened with vanilla sugar and a syrup made from the soaking juices of the strawberries and sugar. Worked just fine. This is the sort of thing that will be even better tomorrow. Rather than a precise recipe, here's the template for what I did-but use your imagination and whatever stale cake you have sitting about.

You Will Need:

Some stale cake-sponge, pound, angel food
Fruit soaked in some sugar until the juices begin to run
Vanilla sugar (if you have it) or granulated
Whipped cream (if you have a packet of stabiliser, use it, if not, no big deal) lightly sweetened
Jam for brushing the cake

Brush the stale cake with a fruit jam. Cut into pieces and arrange a layer in the bottom of a trifle dish or clear bowl. If you're using booze, pour some over the cake at this point. If not, drizzle a bit of the fruit juice over. Add the fruit. Add a layer of whipped cream. Repeat with the cake, etc. You should end with a layer of whipped cream. Cover and let chill at least an hour, but a few is better.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Roast Leg Of Lamb

Well, it claimed to be boneless, and tied-it had a bone and was not tied. That's OK, it was still a lovely cut of lamb. I went and bought the other one today-it is in the freezer.

Mr. Eat The Blog enjoyed it and even shared a bit with our elderly little poodle. It's funny, the damn dog won't come when he's called, and spends most of his day sleeping beneath the sofa trying to pretend we don't exist, but on the rare occasions when there's a roast in the oven, I suddenly have nine pounds of fluffy white fur following me around the kitchen wagging his tail, panting and trying to be my best friend. Funny, eh?

I followed THIS recipe, although I skipped de-glazing the pan because Mr. Eat The Blog isn't really a gravy person. I served it with vegetables, a cous cous made from saffron and dried apricots, and the bread. I expect it will turn up through the week in various curries, pot pies, and soup. I'll save the other leg for Easter.

It took much longer to cook than I expected, but I played it safe and cooked it to 175 degrees F. I know Mr. Eat The Blog prefers his lamb a bit pinker, but I really didn't feel comfortable with that. It was still incredibly moist when carved.

Ring Loaf

Have you ever seen something on a blog and thought, "I must try that?" Yeah, me too. Anyway, this is a new technique for me, that I found HERE. I used my regular old Olive Oil Loaf for the dough, and truth be told, I didn't make the hole with my elbow-but I did employ an inverted bowl inside a larger one for shaping the loaf. It worked great.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Chocolate Covered Malted Milk Candy

It's frustrating-I've been working at this for a good three years now and I know I am just a fraction of a degree, or 1/24th of a teaspoon of baking soda away from perfection. Unfortunately, I just don't seem to be able to get it. Don't get me wrong-these are good candies and I'm sure they will disappear quickly, but I wanted really great candy. I wanted mind-boggling, "I can't believe I made these at home" candy. They're still a million times better than Whoppers (which really, ain't saying much) but I feel like I'm so close and just can't figure it out.

You'll notice in the photo one batch of candy is darker. Those were cooked to 275 degrees F. I thought the lower temperature might yield a better candy but I was wrong. These really need to go to 300 degrees F. not only for colour and taste, but texture as well. The lighter coloured candies are heavy. Oh, we'll crush it up and use it to top ice cream or something, but I wasn't going to waste chocolate on it.

I still want to give this a try with glucose syrup, and perhaps even with golden syrup (like cinder toffee). I'd like them aerated more but if I add any additional baking soda they will become too salty. Perhaps a change of syrup will help.

Much like cinder toffee, this candy will do best if you don't touch it once it is poured. You can tilt the pan a bit to spread it out, but don't be tempted to try smoothing it with a spatula or spoon as it will deflate.

I'll post the recipe, which is modified (and modified, and modified) from something I read on-line years ago. I've since been unable to locate the original which is a shame because I sort of wonder if I got so far away from how it was supposed to work that I'm missing something obvious. No matter, I have confidence that some day, though it may take years, I am going to figure out the secret to great malted milk candy at home, though I fear the secret may be to leave out the malt and just make cinder toffee. I never was too crazy about malt in the first place.

You Will Need:

1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup corn syrup
1 tablespoon plus 1/2 teaspoon white vinegar
1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/4 cups malted milk powder

Combine the malted milk and baking soda in a bowl and set aside.

In a large pot, combine sugar, corn syrup and vinegar stirring just until the sugar dissolves. bring to a boil over medium heat and then, without stirring cook to 300 degrees F.

Remove from heat, and quickly, with a wooden spoon, stir in the malt/soda mixture. Immediately tip it into a large pan (9x13 is good) that has been lined with foil and well oiled. When slightly cool, mark into squares. When cool, crack into pieces and then dip in chocolate if you like.

Countertop Brick/Convection Oven

THIS is tempting. My oven is small and if I'm making a roast anything else must be made ahead or on the range top. I actually have a small toaster-sized convection/dehydrating oven we bought at some over-priced kitchen store in the Back Bay before we knew better, but it is quite small.

Anyone seen these in real-life? I tend to distrust on-line reviews of products.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

I Bought A Very Large, Boneless Leg Of Lamb... $2.49 a pound! I'll probably return tomorrow and buy another.

Here's what happened-the grocery in Ashland has been experimenting with higher-end items as the demographics of the town have changed (Sort of. If you go there early on a Sunday morning and watch the still drunk from the previous evening townies wandering around you might get the feeling you're trapped in a Mike Leigh movie-without the accents). This has lead to interesting organic produce, some vegetarian meat replacements, fresh mozzarella, and over Christmas, lamb. Lamb-not mutton. Predictably, it didn't sell.

It is still ten days from the sell-by date, and vacuum sealed in plastic. The butcher told me he had no choice but to sell it for whatever he could get as they weren't permitted to keep it in store more than a certain number of days (for inventory, not because of sell-by dates).

No sooner I had schlepped my prize home than I was kicking myself for not buying the rest. I have room in the freezer, and at that price, it wouldn't be criminal to use part of it for making sausages. "Oh, stupid, stupid me" I thought. Now I have to drive back to Ashland. I guess I'll call first, in case someone reads this and races out there and snaps up the last leg of lamb from under me.

This is also perfect timing as Mr. Eat The Blog's birthday is coming up. He really likes lamb/mutton (insert Scottish joke here___________) and what could be nicer for your birthday dinner than a roast leg of lamb with rosemary, potatoes and some pickled cherries and grapes? Hey, that's what I thought too.

$2.49 a pound for lamb. Wow.


THIS is the cutest thing I've read in a while.

Ice Cream Sandwich?

That sour cream cake from yesterday goes great with a bit of ice cream. A bit, not a pint.

I think this might have to be one of those cakes reserved for special occasions because it is so good we can't stop eating it.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Ask The Hive Mind

Thanks to the generosity of my mother-in-law, I now have a large quantity of excellent saffron (all dark red-no cheap yellow strands). I have quite a bit of it, and other than rice or bread, I'm sort of stumped. In my mind I seem to have the idea that lemon saffron jelly exists outside of my mind, but I'm unable to find a recipe anywhere. Am I just hallucinating, or is that a real thing people used to make? Maybe I'm confusing it with aspic? My mother always called aspic "jelly."

I also have quite a bit of dried lemon verbena (Have I mentioned how much Granny Annie rocks? She sent shallots, fresh bay leaves, the saffron, verbena, parlsocker, and what's more, she shipped back my empty canning jars. People who return jars get extra points in my book. Anyway, I'd like to use the lemon verbena for something other than tea. Anyone have ideas?

Finally, does anyone have a tested recipe for pate de fruit? I don't want to use gelatin or jam as a base. I'm looking for a use for my concord grape puree. I have apple pectin and glucose syrup-both of which I know are needed to make pate de fruit-but no usable recipe. I found a couple on the web, but they were for much larger quantities. I will probably end up winging it, but if you've been holding on to a good recipe for pate de fruit-I'd sure be interested in hearing it.

Massachusetts Sour Cream Cake

I had quite a bit of sour cream on hand that needed to get used soon. This cake took care of 1-½ cups worth. The recipe is from The New York Times heritage cookbook, and is from Massachusetts.

The directions have you mix the baking soda into the sour cream and set aside. It becomes much lighter-almost foamy, so use a slightly bigger bowl to avoid any mishaps.

You Will Need:

1 ½ cups sour cream

1 ½ teaspoons baking soda

¾ cup butter

1 ½ cups sugar

3 eggs

3 cups flour

1 ½ teaspoons baking powder

1 ¾ teaspoons vanilla extract


¼ cup chopped pecans (I omitted these)

½ cup sugar

1 ½ teaspoons cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour a 9-inch tube pan.

Combine sour cream and baking soda in a bowl. Set aside.

In a large bowl, combine sugar and butter until light. Add the eggs one at a time. Sift the baking powder with the flour and add it alternating with the sour cream mixture. Stir in the vanilla.

Toss the sugar, cinnamon and nuts if used together and sprinkle on top of cake. Place pan on a baking sheet (tube pans are notorious for leaking) and bake 1 hour and ten minutes or until it tests done. Cool 15 minutes in pan on a rack, then carefully unmould and cool completely.

Broccoli Salad With Figs

I have nothing against traditional broccoli salad with mayo, cheese and bacon-I just didn't want to make it. I hurt a disk in my neck some time back and today it is really bothering me-I wasn't about to stand there whisk in hand making mayonnaise. Still, I had broccoli that needed to be used. This was an improvisation, with happy results. It still incorporates all the sweet/salty/smoky flavours of a more traditional broccoli salad, but uses olive oil instead. The figs might sound like overkill, but after a few hours they soak up the marinade and become plump little bites of salty sweetness that I could see eating alone (note to self: try stewing some figs in olive oil and tarragon vinegar). I hope you like it.

You Will Need:

1 head of broccoli cut into florettes (save the stalks for another use)
1 red pepper, cut into matchsticks
1/2 sweet onion, chopped
5-6 small figs, sliced
1/2 cup raisins
1/4 cup salted sunflower seeds
Black pepper/salt to taste
1 tablespoon imitation bacon bits

1 tablespoons tarragon vinegar
1/8-1/4 cup olive oil (I'll leave that to your taste)
Pinch of sugar

Blanch the broccoli for 1 minute in boiling water. Refresh under cold running water and drain well. Combine with everything except vinegar, oil and sugar. In another bowl, combine the dressing and toss with salad. Cover and let sit a few hours before serving. Toss well again before serving.

Pickled, In Both Senses Of The Word

Pickled cherries, pickled grapes, blackberries in brandy, and lemon peel in vodka. So. What did you do today?

The recipe for the cherries may be found HERE.

The recipe for the grapes may be found HERE. I added bay leaves although the recipe did not call for them (I have fresh ones). I also used large black grapes rather than red. Because they were quite hard, I pierced them with a sharp knife first.

The blackberries I just tossed into a jar of brandy to infuse for a few days. I'll strain it out and drink it as-is.

The lemon infused vodka is the zest of 6 lemons in 1 quart of vodka. Every day I take it out of the fridge and shake it. After two weeks you can use it as-is, or sweeten it with caster sugar or simple syrup. I froze the extra lemon juice is ice cube trays because Mr. Eat The Blog likes a lemon cube in a large glass of orange soda (better than it sounds).

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Sunday Cannibal Jokes

A missionary came to a cannibal village and did all manner of wonderful things for them. He brought medicine, built a school, helped them purify their water. Still, being cannibals, they wanted to eat him, and even though they knew he would do good things for them in the future, they succumbed to temptation and ate him.

Not long after, everyone who ate the missionary became violently sick-which just goes to show:

you can't keep a good man down.

Friday, January 02, 2009

Jam Filled Coffeecake

I've made this before HERE. This time, I filled it with the three berry jam from last week. I still can't make this shape attractive, but the cake is so delicious I doubt anyone will care.

Soft Pretzels

We're divided on this recipe. I prefer the Pennsylvania Dutch recipe I've used for years, and Danny prefers these which come from Alton Brown. I think these are just too salty, even before topping to be enjoyable, but I also eat very little manufactured food which I'm told is loaded with even more sodium. Mr. Eat The Blog always needs to add salt to my cooking, so I admit a bias here.

Regular readers will note I still cannot shape bread to save my life.

They certainly were easy enough. The directions assume the use of a stand mixer-I did them by hand without any difficulty. I keep thinking I should get the motor repaired on the mixer but then I remember how nice the extra counter space is and just knead the bread by hand. besides, I can beat egg whites with a whisk and my copper bowl in no-time flat, with little worry of over-beating. Anyway, just know you can make this recipe is you lack a mixer.

The recipe may be found HERE.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Meatless Hoppin' John For The New Year

Ringing in the New Year with a homemade noisemaker-directions are at Make and Takes.

It just wouldn't be New Year's Day at our house if we didn't have black eyed peas. This recipe makes quite a bit, but it improves somewhat the following day anyway.

You Will Need:

1 lb. bag black eyed peas
2 large onions
2 cups chopped celery
2 bay leaves
1/4 cup imitation bacon bits
4 tablespoons butter or margarine
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Cooked rice for serving
Chopped parsley for garnish
Hot sauce

To Cook the Peas:

Sort peas to remove any debris and rinse well. Soak overnight or at least six hours in a large bowl with water to cover. Drain and rinse. Place soaked peas in a large pot with a couple bay leaves and add water to cover. Bring to a boil and then reduce to simmer-cook until tender but not falling apart-about 40 minutes. If cooking the peas ahead, save the cooking water as it will lend more flavour to the finished peas.

In a large pot, heat the butter and olive oil over medium heat and add the celery and onion. Cook until soft. Add the peas without the liquid, the bacon bits, and some pepper. You can add the salt later if needed. Stir well and cook a few minutes before slowly adding enough cooking liquid to cover the peas adding more water if needed. Bring to a boil and then reduce to medium heat and cook until liquid thickens a bit and everything is warmed through-about fifteen minutes.

Serve over hot rice with generous amounts of cooking broth, parsley and hot sauce.