Monday, August 31, 2009

Fat Asses

Please stop feeding the burros.

I only posted this for the opportunity to write the headline, and now I'm not even sure a burro is a donkey. Is it a mule? I think this is something I ought to know-just in case it ever comes up. I know that's wholly unlikely, but just imagine being asked something about a burro by someone that you want to impress on say, a job interview for a Fortune 500 company (are there any of those left, post recession?) and you're sitting there with your thumb up your burro (or donkey) unable to answer. Sure, you can try to redirect the conversation, but a good HR person can tell when you're evading burro questions. They get that a lot.

OK I read the rest of the article carefully-they are domesticated donkeys. Domesticated fat asses. See, you come here for the recipes, but leave with all sorts of information you never thought you'd need. Someday, you'll be interviewing for an important job and you'll thank me for this post.

That's a domesticated donkey. Thank you very much.


Over the last six months or so, I've dropped quite a bit of weight (over fifty pounds). Unfortunately, being somewhat ill, I haven't been able to exercise much and being kind of ahem..old I still get to enjoy flabby arms and a sagging belly. Usually, when people drop a bunch of weight they go out and buy all kinds of revealing clothing, but really, no one wants to look at my forty-something cleavage...well, except for the one person I'll leaved unnamed who I caught peering...wait, make that leering down my shirt as I bent to tie Danny's shoe. I still don't know what made me look up, and I really wish I hadn't because now that's just awkward*. Anyway, no one I want looking at my boobs will, so I just went ahead and bought dresses that are modest, if not terribly flattering.

Now for the best part-the green dress was originally $68.00 and I got it for the grand sum of nine dollars. The black and white one was five. I also scored a black sweater coat and a short black cardigan with 3/4 sleeves. I spent twenty five dollars, with tax. You can't shop at thrift stores for that kind of money and as a bonus, the clothes don't smell like mildew and cat piss.

The green dress is a very light polyester material, a sort of crepe, that just flows and falls so elegantly. I love, love, love it. Sure, I'm going to wear it with a motorcycle jacket and a pair of Chucks, but it is still a beautiful dress.

So get yourself over to Sears while the sale is still on.

* Note to self, don't bend to tie child's shoe in public. Likewise, that stretching thing I have to do to buckle his seat belt in the car-yeah, skirts get much shorter when you do that. God, that was so embarrassing. I mean, gee whiz, you don't oogle the half-dead, middle aged, crippled lady. I know the oogling opportunities are kind of limited in these parts but still.
*shakes head in disbelief*

Beans On Toast

Last evening, I just couldn't do anything, save for climbing into bed. Mr. Eat The Blog took care of Danny's dinner, and snapped a photo. Danny enjoyed it so much, he requested it again for today's lunch. What you are looking at is a stale piece of French bread, some vegetarian refried beans I made Friday, and cheddar cheese. The sour cream was overkill, but there you have it. Looks like he served some leftover white potatoes as well.

The funny thing is, I grew up eating food on toast. Mr. Eat The Blog's mother was a bit classier than mine, so he never developed a fondness for sardines on toast, or chicken ala king, which is kind of sad. There's something almost magical about the way white bread starts to get ever-so-gooey in the centre and crispy at the edges under the weight of toppings. Describing the dinner to me, he spoke of that as a flaw, whereas I always sort of considered that the best part. He's never had a soft-boiled egg with soldiers either, and can't really understand the emotional connection I have to shoving sticks of toast into runny egg.

Anyway, I wanted to post this as a recommendation for leftover beans and of course, to brag on Mr. Eat The Blog's cooking talents. He's come a long way from the night in Boston I caught him battering and frying a slice of cold, leftover pizza.

Chocolate/Raspberry Pastry Bites and Truffle Cups

I wasn't going to toss perfectly good ganache, and due to a finger injury, I'm not really able to roll truffles at the moment. Pouring the chocolate in paper cups to harden worked nicely and the clean-up was a breeze.

The pastry for this was super-simple. You could use tart tins and do this all fancy-n-stuff, but working one-handed (my right hand at that) I went for ease over looks. I fit the pastry into mini-muffin tins and the dough gave me exactly 24. I mean, how lucky was that? That never happens to me. Oh my goodness does my finger hurt like @#%$@!!!^. Considering everything, the cups look pretty good...rustic. That's it, they're rustic.

Now, ask me about the one-handed chocolate chopping-that was fuuuuun.

Plan ahead if you're making this because the dough really needs to be well-chilled. It can easily be made a day ahead and left to chill overnight.

For The Pastry:

2 sticks unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons (1 cup butter)
8 ounces full-fat cream cheese, cut into chunks
2 cups AP flour

Cream together the butter and cream cheese. Mix in the flour. Divide in 2 pieces, flatten into disks and wrap in clingfilm. Chill several hours.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Roll out dough to desired thickness (I did 1/2 inch)

Using a round biscuit cutter or the bottom of a glass, cut into rounds and fit into mini-muffin tins. Place tins in freezer for 30 minutes while pre-heating the oven. Press round disks of foil into pastry and weight with a few beans. Place tins on a baking sheet and bake 20 minutes. Remove foil and beans carefully and then continue baking until done-mine took about 20 additional minutes, which just seems wrong, but that was what happened.

While the pastry cools, make the ganache.

For the ganache:

13 ounces chocolate, finely chopped-I used a combination of semi-sweet and bittersweet. I used Baker's brand because I like it. I also can't justify twenty dollar a pound chocolate and the like. I'm not being paid by Bakers chocolate to say that. I've always used the product and see no reason to go high end now.

1 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons corn syrup

In a pan, heat the cream and corn syrup until steaming. Pour over chocolate in a heat-proof bowl and let stand five minutes. Add any flavourings you like (raspberry booze would have been awesome, but I didn't have any so I gave it a splash of vanilla. I really should make some while raspberries are in season, shouldn't I? Yeah, I really ought to. Dontcha just love how I use the middle of a recipe for sorting out all my thoughts and chores and problems? Dear Beth, there's this boy I know and he's really cute but my best friend said I can get knocked up if I kiss him while he's holding a slide rule and anyway....)

After five minutes, grab a whisk and have at it until that stuff is smooth and blended. Then, finish your letter to Dear Beth. Pour the ganachhe into the pastry cups and any leftover into paper cups. It helps to put the papers in the mini-tins first to keep the sides up, but if you don't have any, just use dixie cups and peel them away before serving. Sprinkle with fancy sugar so that people will know you really went that extra mile to make the leftover chocolate look nice. Look how nice I made the chocolate, people. I don't just break out the Parlsocker for anyone. Oh no, that's the good stuff. My mother-in-law ships it to me from the Pacific Northwest where you can get all sorts of Scandinavian goodies. Yep, she ships me decorating sugar. Do I have a terrific mother-in-law or what?

Decorate the tops of the pastry with raspberries and set in the fridge to chill several hours before serving.

Pasta With Brussels Sprouts and Chick Peas

I should have snapped a picture, but in the dinnertime chaos I forgot. Danny the sprout-hater came to the conclusion that perhaps the little cabbage heads aren't so terrible after all.

You Will Need:

Fresh Brussels sprouts (about 1 pound, trimmed)
1/4 cup black olives, chopped
4 garlic cloves, smashed and chopped
Olive oil
1 tin chick peas, rinsed, drained and skins removed
Swiss Cheese, grated for topping

Steam the trimmed sprouts for about five minutes or until bright green and just barely softened. Remove from heat, refresh under cold water and drain well. Meanwhile, in a large pan cook the garlic and olives in a generous glug of olive oil over medium heat until garlic has softened. When sprouts have cooled a bit, slice each in half and add to the pan. Reduce the heat and cook until sprouts brown and are soft. Meanwhile, boil the pasta.

Toss with hot pasta and extra olive oil. Top with cheese.

Hot Dogs and Macaroni

Presented without comment.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Spicy Cake Doughnuts

I've been suffering a bout of insomnia of late. Not anything terrible, it happens nearly every year at this time as the weather and length of days begin to change. I've learned to enjoy waking early-it gives me unhurried time to work without interruption and without the exhaustion I feel trying to stay up late and work. I'm a three AM sort of person anyway. I've always risen by five, so what's a couple less hours?

This morning as I brought the bread dough out of the fridge to warm, there was a very noticeable chill in the air. Tonight, we are going down into the lower 40's. I had to make doughnuts. There are certain obligations I have as mother in this household-snowy days mean baked oatmeal, and the first cold day means cinnamon doughnuts.

This recipe makes quite a few doughnuts and they really are best eaten the day they are made. Some people freeze them and then re-heat them on a baking sheet in the oven-I have not done so yet. If you decide to try that, skip sugaring them.

Adapted from the Better homes and Gardens Homemade Bread Book, 1973

You Will Need:

3 1/4 cups AP flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
Dash salt
2 eggs
2/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2/3 cup light cream
1/4 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Sift together flour, baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Set aside. In another bowl, beat the eggs with the sugar and vanilla until very thick and light. Combine melted butter and cream and add to the egg/sugar mixture. Add the flour mixture in two additions. Beat just until blended after each addition. Chill dough two hours.

Roll dough 3/8 inch thick (that is an insane measurement, but that was the direction. I cut them an inch and they were fine, but I like thick doughnuts) on a floured surface and cut with a floured cutter. Fry in deep hot fat-375 degrees F. (mine ran a bit hotter, but I'm pretty copmfortable with frying) turning once. Drain on a wire rack over a baking sheet.

In a paper bag, combine sugar and cinnamon and shake warm doughnuts to coat. I managed 18 doughnuts plus some holes from the batter.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Cinnamon Coffee bars

These were so simple to make, Danny did most of the measuring and mixing. I adapted it from a recipe in my 1950 Betty Crocker Cookbook, but I omitted the nuts, substituted butter for shortening and made up my own festive glaze. That glaze is pretty festive, eh? I mean, just look at it-doesn't that just scream, "I'm ready to par-tay!" I even used little coloured fall leaves made of sugar for the autumnal effect. Now that my friends, is the festive effect you get buying name-brand decorating sugar. Pretty bloody festive.

You Will Need:

1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup dark brown sugar
1 large egg
1/2 cup strong black coffee-hot
1 1/2 cups AP flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 cup raisins

For the Glaze:

2 cups powdered sugar and enough water to make a thick paste. It will thin and crackle as you spread it on the hot cake. Sprinkle immediately with pearl sugar, nuts, or festive designs made from sugar. Let cool completely before, scratch that. You know you're going to be prying still-warm slices out of the pan. You should make some coffee-flavoured whipped cream to go with it.
Grease and flour a 9x13 pan. Preheat oven to 350 degrees f.

Cream together butter and sugar. Add egg and mix well. Sift together dry ingredients and add slowly. Mix well. Stir in raisins.

Spread evenly in pan and bake 15-20 minutes. Spread with glaze while cake is still hot.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Another Fun Thread at The Guardian

This time the subject is food you only eat when alone. The responses are amazing.

When I could still eat normally, I did anything but. One of my favourites was a bowl of dry cheerios covered in spicy salsa sauce. I never did like tortilla chips, but salsa soaked cereal by the spoonful? Perfect.

How about an ice cream cone filled with applesauce and a bit of jam? That one really freaked out Mr. Eat The Blog the first time he witnessed it.

Of course, "Cheese on Cheese" became a favourite during pregnancy-you spread a slice of Swiss cheese with cream cheese, then roll it up before eating. That would explain the 33 pounds I gained whilst pregnant.

I had a friend in college that could only eat a grilled cheese sandwich with maple syrup poured over it (which meant eating with a fork and knife as well). That was kind of gross.

Pretzels dipped in sour cream are pretty good too. Actually, just about anything with sour cream is good.

Lastly, as a child I ate powdered coffee creamer by the spoonful when no one was looking. My sister somehow knew (she told me years later) but I'm pretty sure my mother didn't or I wouldn't be here telling of it today. Oh yeah, she'd have killed me.

OK-what do you eat when no one is looking?

Pot Stickers/Dumplings

Has it really been a week since I posted? Gee whiz. Well hey, I'll make it up to you, look, I brought dumplings!

Using what I had (which ain't much because I haven't been able to drag my butt out to go grocery shopping) these came together well. Amazing what you can do with some carrots and cabbage.

The dough is easy enough to work with, but I won't lie and say shaping is easy-it takes some practise. The first few will look misshapen, but you'll get the hang of it quickly enough. You will. I have confidence in you.

For the filling:

2 carrots, finely diced
1 leek, thinly sliced up to the light green part
1 tablespoon finely chopped ginger
1 clove garlic, finely minced
1/2 cup finely shredded cabbage
1 package ramen noodles, cooked and drained.
1/4 seasoning packet from ramen noodles.
2 tablespoons cooking oil
1 tablespoon sesame oil

In a large pan cook the carrots, leeks, ginger, cabbage, and garlic in the cooking oil until soft. Add the ramen, spice packet and sesame oil. Toss well. set aside to cool while you make dough.

For the dough:

2 cups AP flour
1/2 cup warm water (you may need more).

Place flour in a bowl and add water slowly until you have a dough that can be kneaded but is not sticky. Knead until smooth and then cover with plastic wrap and let rest fifteen minutes.

Roll into a long rope and cut into twenty pieces (about). Roll each into a ball and then flatten into a disk. Roll out one disk as thin as possible, fill with a small amount of filling and then draw up the sides and pinch closed. Curve the ends in and then go back to the top and crimp in pleat fashion a few times. Line a baking sheet with waxed paper and spray with cooking oil (these suckers will stick). Cover lightly and chill until needed.

To Cook:

Set in steamer (I sprayed mine with oil first) and cook a few minutes until soft. Remove from steam and heat a small bit of oil in a frying pan(about 2 tablespoons). Fry lightly until slightly browned but still pliable. Serve with plum sauce.

Five Spice Chicken

Pretty impressive cooking for a vegetarian, eh?

Once in a while I treat Mr. Eat The Blog to a roast chicken. I had bookmarked this recipe last fall, and just got around to it tonight. I did not try any, but it was well received. I'm glad he liked it because it was a large chicken and he'll be eating it all week.

The recipe may be found HERE.

One note, it smoked up my kitchen a bit but at least it smelled good from the five spice powder.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Homemade Lasagna Noodles

I always rather disliked lasagna, due to the heaviness of the pasta. I think I've solved that problem with these tissue paper thin sheets of semolina goodness. Yes, it takes some skill, and yes, I did give it a final pass through the pasta maker, but it really can be done with a heavy rolling pin and some patience. I adapted my regular noodle recipe by adding more semolina (about 3/4 cup more) and letting it rest for an hour before rolling. I found that it handles well, and the results were really just amazing. With the light tomato sauce I made in the previous post, and a mixture of cheeses, this might just be the best thing I've ever made, and I say that as someone that isn't particularly fond of tomatoes or pasta. The boys went crazy for it as well. When was the last time you had a lasagna you could cut with a fork, yet held enough shape to cut neatly? I'm just so pleased with this, I hope if you give it a try, you will be too.

For the Pasta:

3 egg yolks plus 1 whole egg
3 tablespoons cold water
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 3/4 cups semolina flour
1-2 cups AP flour plus a few cups more on hand for rolling and dusting (Keep more than you'll need available)

Beat the eggs until light. Beat in cold water and salt. Beat in semolina and as much AP flour as needed to form a stiff dough. Knead by hand until smooth-about ten minutes. Cover in plastic and let rest 1 hour.

Dust a baking sheet generously with flour as well as your work surface. Divide dough into eight pieces. Pat out a piece generously flouring both sides and roll until thin enough to put through pasta maker. You want very thin sheets, so it may take a couple passes on smaller sized settings. Cut long sheet in half. Transfer to baking sheet, dust with flour and continue until all are done. Transfer to a cooling rack to dry out a bit before cooking. Meanwhile, boil a pot of water.

Cook sheets no more than four at a time, and cook no longer than two minutes. Remove with two large slotted spoons and transfer to a baking sheet. Try to straighten them out if possible (don't scald your fingertips trying). Repeat until all are done. Let cool while you assemble the rest.

For the lasagna filling:

About 6 cups of tomato sauce
4 cups shredded cheese (I used provolone and Pepato)
1 small container whole milk ricotta
1 large egg

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Use a 9x13 inch pan.

Layer the bottom of pan generously with sauce. Combine the ricotta and egg and beat until light. Atop the sauce, use a single layer of pasta, cutting edges with a sharp knife so it is neat. Add a thin layer of ricotta/egg mixture. Add another layer of pasta and cover with sauce. Top with cheese. Add another layer of pasta and top with remaining ricotta mixture. Another pasta layer, then sauce, grated cheese and another layer of pasta. Continue until you've used all the sauce and cheese-you will probably have extra pasta-save it for something else. Make sure that your top layer is sauce and a generous covering of cheese.

Place pan atop a baking sheet-just in case of spills.

Bake uncovered (the pasta is thin enough to do this) for 1 hour, or until beautifully browned (and it will be beautiful). Remove from oven and let stand 10 minutes before cutting and serving.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

MeatlessTomato Sauce From The Garden

I finally used up some Roma tomatoes (I still have a ton more outside) making this sauce. It is light, and if you prefer a thicker sauce, you can add some tomato paste easily enough. I cooked it close to seven hours, which really let the flavours develop. I'll use some tomorrow and freeze the rest.

You Will Need:

About 30 Roma tomatoes-blanched, skins removed and chopped
Olive oil-about 1/4 cup
1-2 large onions, sliced
1 large green pepper, chopped
6 large carrots, sliced thinly on the diagonal
4 stalks celery, chopped
5 large cloves garlic, smashed
3 bay leaves
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon dried rosemary
About 15 black olives, chopped
1 tablespoon capers
Salt and pepper

In a large pot, heat about half the olive oil and add the onions, garlic, carrots, celery, pepper, and bay leaves. Cook until carrots begin to soften and onions get some colour. I do this over medium heat, but watch to make sure your oil does not begin to smoke-every oil is different and so are stoves. Add the spices, capers, and olives. Adjust salt and pepper though go easy on the salt as the olives add quite a bit-you can always add more later. Add the tomatoes and the rest of the olive oil, reduce heat to the slightest simmer and cover. Cook several hours, stirring once in a while and making sure it has not come to a boil. Really, just leave it on the stove and do other stuff- it will be better the longer it cooks.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Blond Brownies With Chocolate Chips and Butterscotch Frosting

I've been making bars again.

Seriously though, you don't even need the hand mixer for these. It makes a reasonably small batch as well, so you won't feel compelled to finish the tray before bedtime...and if you do, what the hell it was only 1/3 cup of butter.

The frosting is very, very sweet. I needed more powdered sugar than the recipe called for to make it spread, which may have accounted for that. It is almost like candy that forms a hard, sugary crust and goes all "squishy-schunchy" against the teeth. Oh, you know what I when you over-cook fudge and it gets a little granular but is still good enough to eat an entire pound of because you don't want to waste. Is it just me, or does not-quite-perfect fudge always taste better eaten standing over the sink at two in the morning?

From that bloody Pillsbury Butter Cookie Book from the 50's that is the only thing standing between me and my size four jeans which just allllll....most button (OK, I have to lie down and suck in my gut, but that's still almost).

You Will Need:

1 cup AP flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoons salt
1/3 cup butter
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 unbeaten egg
1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup chocolate chips
(Frosting recipe follows below)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease an 8x8 inch pan. Sift together flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside. In a saucepan, melt the butter and sugar. Remove from heat. Stir in the eggs and vanilla and mix well. Gradually add the dry ingredients stirring well to combine. Spread in pan and spread chips on top. Bake 25-30 minutes. Cool completely in pan.

Make frosting:

In sauce pan combine 2 tablespoons butter with 1/4 cup brown sugar and 2 tablespoons milk. Bring to a boil over medium heat and cook 2 minutes. Remove from heat and blend in 3/4 cup sifted confectioner's sugar (I needed more) and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract. Thin with milk if needed. Spread on blondies.

Green Pea Curry With Tofu

Obviously, not a traditional Matar Ki Sabzi , but an interpretation.

I added the tofu because this was to be served as a single dish and I thought it needed protein. I used fresh peas, but if you don't feel like spending an hour and a half with a four year old shelling them all-feel free to use frozen. The tomatoes I used were cherry tomatoes because I had them going overripe quickly. You could of course use any sort.

I didn't have any (Yeah, yeah, I know-a food blogger that can't eat, hilarious) but Danny cleaned his plate and Mr. Eat The Blog had seconds. I served it over jasmine rice (which is my everyday rice)but you could of course use Basmatti.

Adapted from The Spice Box, Vegetarian Indian Cooking

You Will Need:

2 tablespoons ghee
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
2 medium onions, sliced
2 cups cherry tomatoes cut in half
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 tablespoon sugar
3 cups of fresh peas
Salt to taste
1/2 cup hot water
1 teaspoon garam masala
1 tablespoon lemon juice

Heat the ghee in a large pot and toast the cumin seeds for two minutes over medium heat. Add the onions and cook until browned. Add tomatoes, all the powdered spices (except garam masala) and sugar. Add peas and hot water and cook ten minutes. Add lemon juice and garam masala. Serve hot over rice.
1 teaspoon turmeric
1/4 teaspoon cayenne

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Salad With Mission Figs

Mission figs have arrived, and we're enjoying all we can before they're gone. This morning, the boys ate toast spread with cream cheese and mashed-up fig, and for dinner, this salad.

There's nothing fancy here-radicchio, rocket from the garden and fresh spinach. I made a balsamic dressing and scattered some figs and cheese on at the last. Perfect.

I really want to make fig and orange jam, but figs are expensive here and it is quite a bit of work. I suppose I ought to make up my mind pretty soon, though later Fall figs will work too (and are larger). Fig jam makes one of the best fillings between layers of cake, particularly my Mandarin orange cake. I think I'm talking myself into making a batch, aren't I? Yes, I suppose I am.

For the locals-I bought mine at Russ' in the Havelock and paid close to four bucks for a box. Insane. Today I saw the same figs at Super Saver on 27th for Two something. I should have bought them, and I'll probably end up going tomorrow-unless you get there first and buy them all. Don't buy the "Concord Grapes" though, because when you read the label closely you'll see they are not true Concords but "Concord like" grapes from California. As the kids say, "WTF?" The skins looked tough to slip the grapes out of and would be utter frustration for canning. They might be OK to eat. Real Concords come from the Finger Lakes region, and they should smell strongly of wine. Worth waiting for the real ones.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Spiced Tomato Butter

I finally canned something on the new stove. It went well, and I didn't forget any steps-like riding a bicycle I guess.

I made a half batch of the original recipe, and I went ahead and canned it in a water bath (the original recipe from 1963 did not require it, but times have changed) for ten minutes with a five minute cool-down in the canner. It has a good amount of vinegar in the recipe along with sugar so I feel confident that it will be safe. I cannot however guarantee it, as it isn't a tested recipe. Use your noggin. Make sure to use a vinegar with an appropriate acidity for canning as well.

Okie dokie, you want to know what it tastes like. I did not eat any (yet) but Mr. Eat The Blog sampled some and said he liked it. As I type, he just sampled more on a cheese sandwich and said, "This is really good." See! I told him it would be good. He never believes me when I tell him what to do and what to like ;).

Danny liked it as well, though he said it is a "breakfast-y food". We're envisioning it as a spread on good bread with cheese, but it would also go well with a slow roasted meat-maybe replacing the chili sauce and sweet wine in a brisket. It certainly has potential.

I ended up using the black Crimean tomatoes rather than the Roma because we just had more than we could eat-that was a good decision as the tomatoes are more flavourful. The colour is obviously darler, but I think the rich crimson is attractive.

Now, about the technique. This is an old recipe, and it says to grind the tomatoes and onions with nary a mention of removing the seeds. I removed about half, which really turned out fine. You could, if you want a smooth butter rather than chunky, cook and mash the tomatoes and then put it through a food mill to get pulp. It would undoubtedly cook faster than the four and a half hours I spent with mine. I sort of like the look of chunkier butters, but that's really no big deal.

I'll post the original proportions but I would definitely put it through a water bath canner-be safe, not sorry.

Adapted from Farm Journal Freezing and Canning Cookbook, 1963
Full recipe yields aprox. 5 pints. half recipe gave me 2 1/2

You Will Need:

5 quarts ground ripe tomatoes
3 medium onions, ground
1 pt. vinegar (I used cider 5% acidity)
3 cups brown sugar (I used dark)
2 cups white sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1 tablespoon salt

Peel and grind tomatoes (I blanched them in hot water first-easier) and onions. In a very large heavy pot, combine sugars, salt, vinegar and spices. Bring to a boil. Add tomatoes and onions and reduce to a simmer. Cook several hours until thick and mounds on a spoon. In the last hour, you'll need to keep stirring to prevent sticking and burning. Use a long-handled spoon-it spits.

Pour into hot sterilised jars, remove air bubbles and wipe treads. process in a boiling water canner 10 minutes . Cool five minutes in the pot with the heat turned off before removing to a towell covered hard surface away from drafts. Let cool 12-24 hours before checking for seals.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Salmon In Foil

This is a great way to cook fish if, like me you tend to overcook it. It also makes the house stink less than frying or pan searing.

Danny is the only one who likes salmon, and he really loves it. I bought the smallest fillet they had on sale and he can eat the other half cold for lunch tomorrow. Sort of a special treat.

In the rush to get dinner on the table after an hour on the telephone arguing with a phone company Belize, I was kind of hurried come six o'clock. By the way, if you don't get satisfactory answers sometimes it works if you just keep saying "Can you connect me to a supervisor that can answer that question?" My magic number was three people, at which point someone was able to help. That only took an hour. Then, I sort of felt bad getting pissed off because hell, that's probably a really sucky job dealing with pissed-off American consumers. I sure as hell wouldn't want to do it. Anyway, this dinner is quick if you prepeare the sauce ahead.

You Will Need:

For the sauce:

1/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
a handful of chopped dried fruit (I used raisins and apricots, but figs work well too)

Cook over medium heat until it reduces by 1/4 to a syrup. Chill until needed.

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F. With a baking sheet inside.

Wash the salmon fillet and pat dry. Dot generously with butter and top with sauce and fruit. Salt and pepper as you care to. Seal in foil pouch making sure to leave a bit tented at the top for steam to rise. Seal top and sides very well, folding over a couple times. Place in oven and bake 10 minutes for half-inch thickness with 5 minutes standing time in the foil before serving. Adjust time for thicker fish.

Fresh Peach Pie

Peaches are in season (the fruit, not her ).
(Some fine intellect on display at that Twitter feed though, yes indeed).

Anyhoo, I wanted to make a pie that made use of peaches without disguising the fruit in a bunch of cream or cornstarch. I think this is a fine pie. I would use a bit less flour were i to make it again, and I would certainly dot it generously with butter before putting on the top crust, but really I can't find much else to fault-really, the quibbles are quite minor.

The recipe is adapted from the New York Times Heritage Cookbook, (aka "Big Blue"). The recipe comes from Georgia (the state in the US, not the former Soviet Republic) and is really simple to assemble. I used my new, standard pie crust, but feel free to use any you like.

You Will Need:

For the crust:

3 cups AP flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup unsalted butter
1/4 cup solid vegetable shortening
1 egg
1/4-1/3 cup cold water
1 tablespoon cider vinegar

Sift together the flour and salt. Cut in butter and shortening until fine crumbs. Beat together egg, water and vinegar starting with 1/4 cup of water. Add slowly to flour until you have a good mixture. Add more water if needed. Let stand a few minutes before rolling out. Once rolled, let it chill in the fridge or freezer while you make the filling.

For the filling:

3 cups peeled, sliced peaches tossed with juice of half a lemon to prevent discolouration.
1/4 cup flour
1/3 cup light brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger (I upped this to 1/4)
1 tablespoon of butter (I would use at least two next time)
Cream for brushing
Vanilla sugar for dusting

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Line pie pan with bottom crust and fill with fruit and dry ingredients-just toss them lightly together. I try to pile it in the centre, but it almost never works well for me so as my dear old granny used to say:
"Eh, to hell with it."

Dot with butter and place the top layer on. Crimp closed, vent as you like and then brush generously with heavy cream and sprinkle with vanilla sugar.

The cookbook suggested thirty minutes, but mine took close to an hour-so keep an eye on it. As always, place the pie dish atop a baking sheet because you know the one time you fail to do so it will leak all over your oven.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Thank You

Once in a while I notice I have new people linking to my blog, or following it through Blogger, so I wanted to say thank you. It always amazes me that anyone would want to read what is essentially a food diary for Danny to read years from now. A great writer I am not, and as you've probably noticed, I don't spend much effort photographing my food-so that makes it all the more meaningful that anyone clicks back here a second time, let alone regularly.

I really do appreciate it. I feel like I ought to do a Sally Field:
"They like me, they really like me".

All right, enough with the sensitive stuff-quick, someone tell a dirty joke.


Most of the Crimean black tomatoes have been eaten as sandwiches, as they should be. They were really delicious, juicy, with wonderful texture. The Brandywines are starting to ripen now, and they too are to my mind best used ripe and fresh-but I also planted an ungodly number of Roma tomatoes. Very productive plants, they are. The obvious thing is sauce, or ketchup which I may do, but I'm intrigued by the idea of spiced tomato butter.

I see you crinkling your collective noses and that's O.K. Mr. Eat The Blog had a similar reaction. I have an old recipe from the 50's that I can adapt for modern canning standards. It sounds rather sweet and is spiced with cinnamon, cloves and allspice-along with vinegar. I know, I know, it does sound weird-isn't that reason enough to make a batch? I have a soft spot for the weird-I married Mr. Eat The Blog, didn't I?

O.K. Collective silence.

We don't use enough salsa to make it worth the bother, and even if I can whole tomatoes, I will still have more than a few to deal with. I have a recipe for tomato jelly as well, but it is the butter that really has me intrigued.

Anyone ever make it, or have interesting ideas what to do with a glut of Roma tomatoes? Anyone want to come over and help me can them? Fine. Anyone want to teach me how to punctuate? Seriously, look at this post-gee whiz. Someone needs to spend time with Strunk and White.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Limpa Bread

I'll keep the post short and sweet as I'm too tired to think. We let Danny see the meteor shower last night/this morning from a blanket set out in the yard. Fun, but I'm dragging my behind today. In addition to seeing shooting stars, I had the fun experience of grasshoppers bounding off my face, which by the way, hurts.

So this bread-it smells heavenly. Really, if you've never baked a limpa bread I suggest you go do so immediately, if only for the way it will make your home smell. I made a few changes to the recipe by using bread flour and adding ground cardamom, but feel free to use AP flour. I also reduced the amount of yeast called for.

From the Better Homes and Gardens Homemade Bread Book:

You Will Need:

3-4 cups bread flour or AP flour
3 teaspoons granulated dry yeast
2 teaspoons caraway seeds
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
2 cups whole milk
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons molasses
2 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons grated orange peel
2 1/2 cups medium rye flour

In a large mixer bowl, combine 2 1/2 cups bread flour with yeast, caraway, and fennel. Heat milk, brown sugar, molasses, butter and salt until warm. Whisk until sugars are dissolved and butter has melted. Remove from heat and cool to lukewarm. Add to flour mixture and add orange peel. Beat on low speed of the mixer for 30 seconds, then on high for 3 minutes scraping as needed. By hand, stir in rye flour and as much bread flour as needed to make a stiff dough. Knead until smooth. Place in a buttered bowl and let rise until doubled. Punch down, divide in two and let rest ten minutes. Grease a baking sheet. Shape loaves (round is also OK) and place on sheet. Cover with a towel and let rise in a warm spot until almost doubled-about 45 minutes. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Bake 40-45 minutes. I baked mine to an internal temperature of 200 degrees F. and it took 50 minutes. Cool before slicing.

Mandarin Orange Sherbet

Made without eggs or cream, this is a really nice, light treat to take advantage of the lovely Australian oranges in stores now. I like the Australian citrus-it tastes like our citrus did twenty-five years ago before they hybrided all the flavour out of the varieties. Can't beat the texture either-nary a bad one in the bag.

You Will Need:

1 1/2 cups of Mandarin orange juice
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a saucepan, whisk together the juice and sugar over medium heat until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat, and chill until quite cold. Mix extract with milk and then whisk into the juice/sugar mixture. Process in an ice cream maker.

A Quick Dinner

Not as much a recipe, as an idea. Using what I had, the frying pan contains, onions, garlic, green peppers, carrots, a tin of hominy, a tin of black beans,parsley, chili powder, cumin, and powdered cocoa. I served it with rice and rosemary roasted red potatoes. A bit of yoghurt and shredded cheddar cheese along with fresh tomatoes and it made a lovely dinner. And fast, which is always nice.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Foccacia With Roasted Tomatoes and Herbs

Isn't this just the loveliest looking bread? I slow roasted the cherry tomatoes in a bit of oil, rosemary, thyme and salt for something like five hours at 200 degrees F. Then, I cooled them and used them to top the bread. Perfect.

I used to make this foccacia with considerably more yeast, but I've come to realise it simply isn't necessary. I think this could be reduced even further and still get a reasonably fast rise. Certainly, you could use a fraction of the yeast and do a very slow rise in the fridge, but this is probably not the best recipe for that style of bread. All told, it takes about an hour to rise and 25 minutes to bake which isn't too terribly long to wait for fresh bread, now is it?

You Will Need:

Roasted tomatoes, cooled and drained of oil. I reserved the seasoned oil and used it for my pasta this evening.

3 teaspoons granulated yeast
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 1/2 cups warm water
4-5 cups bread flour
1 teaspoon salt plus extra coarse salt for sprinkling top
1/4 cup olive oil

Mix yeast, sugar and water and let proof about five minutes. Add oil, flour and salt. Mix well and knead until smooth. Cover and let rest ten minutes. Roll out into an oval or square and place on a well-oiled pan. Top with tomatoes, extra herbs (I used some fresh sage leaves) and a sparse bit of hard cheese if you like. Cover and let rise 1 hour. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Bake 20-25 minutes or until nicely browned on top. Cool on rack. Makes 1 very large or two small foccacias.

And Then He Goes All "Om Nom Nom" On Your Head

At least we know Rex wasn't dining on people. We have a strict "No dinosaurs and hominids in the same picture" policy around here. No exceptions, even for Flintstones.

I asked Danny why the dinosaur was all covered in blood and he gave me one of those big, audible sighs:

"Dinosaurs aren't mannerly."

Yes, I suppose that does explain it then.

Chickpeas, Radicchio, and Anchovies

I'm cooking with what I have again. Danny ate it all quite happily served over pasta, which ought to be a ringing endorsement. He's not a picky eater, but he's rarely an enthusiastic one. The radicchio adds a nice bitterness to offset the anchovies. Mr. Eat the Blog thought something milder like chard might be a better contrast, so maybe next time. I don't think I've ever bought chard, isn't that funny?

I served this over the orichette pasta from the previous post and it was quite colourful. Take care not to overcook the radicchio-you only want to wilt it.

You Will Need:

2-3 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups cooked chickpeas, skins removed
1/2 head radicchio, thinly sliced in strips
1 sweet onion, sliced
4 cloves garlic, smashed and chopped
1 cup chopped parsley
1 tablespoon capers, rinsed and drained
1 small tin anchovies-rinsed and drained

Cook the onion and garlic slowly in oil until softened. Add the capers and anchovies and cook a few minutes more. Add the radicchio and parsley and cook until wilted. Serve over pasta with additional oil if needed.

Let Me Nibble on Your Little Ears

Orichette pasta is not something I've ever bought, much less made, but these turned out perfect. I used a straight semolina pasta without any AP flour and though my shaping skills might need some work, the pasta held together beautifully in the pot and made a perfect accompaniment to the chickpeas. I hadn't been terribly inspired of late, but I think this pasta will now be in regular rotation at our home. I guess with a bit of imagination they can look like ears.

The trick is to roll the dough into ropes, cut them into small pieces and then use your thumb to form the pasta. If you go too thin, it curls on the sides and ends up looking like shells. Too thick and you get dumplings. I must have had a bit of beginner's luck, as I had neither common problem.

I didn't have a recipe to work with so I improvised one.

You Will Need:

2 whole eggs
3 tablespoons ice water
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
2-3 cups semolina flour
AP flour for dusting

In a large bowl beat the eggs and water until light. Add the salt and olive oil and mix well. Add the flour slowly until you have a stiff dough. Knead lightly for a few minutes until smooth. Cover with clingfilm and let rest twenty minutes.

Dust with AP flour and divide dough into two parts. Roll into ropes about the thickness of your index finger. Cut in 11/2 inch pieces. Using your thumb, flatten into a disk with a strong indentation in the centre. Cover a baking sheet generously with AP flour and toss the pastas as you make them. When all are done, transfer to a plastic bag and chill until needed.

Cook as you would any fresh pasta in a large pot of salted water. Mine took about fifteen minutes, but yours may vary depending on the thickness.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

An Open Letter to Jeff Beckman, Executive Director NET Public Television Nebraska

Dear Mr. Beckman,

My name is Danny and I'm four and a half. I don't type very well so Mama agreed to help me with this letter. Sometimes, Mama takes some creative liberties with my letters, but you seem like a pretty smart guy and I'm sure you'll be able to tell which voice is speaking. Actually Mr. Beckman, complaining. I have a complaint.

For the second time in as many weeks, I bounded out of bed bright of a Sunday morning to rouse Mama and Papa for my weekly episode of Thomas the Tank Engine. You see Mr. Beckman, that's my Hour of Power. Watching the Sunday episode of Thomas, or "TTTE" as I like to call him, sets the tone for my entire week. Imagine Mr. Beckman, my horror last week to discover in place of my beloved Thomas, James, Bertie and Sir Toppam Hat-a fat bald dude in a too-tight knit polo shirt blathering about our Dharma. Mama supposed it had something to do with the too-often fund raising campaigns you seem to undertake weekly at NET, and that the following week all would return to normal in the ever-so-lovely land of Sodor. Mr. Beckman, I must be honest in telling you I was more than a little cross at the subsequent return of the fat-bald self-help guy in the too-tight knit polo shirt. I might have uttered something wholly inappropriate such as:
"Oh, Poo!"
Mr. Beckman, I'm sure you know I don't mean Winnie.

I mean, Mr. Beckman, I don't even know what Dharma is. Moreover, I can't honestly say I care. Look, I'm open-minded Mr. Beckman. While it may not exactly be my box of juice, I try not to be too judgmental of the beliefs of others. Mama is an anthropologist, and I have it on good authority that you can find a whole lot more worthy of mockery than transcendental meditation, like I dunno, the whole Western religious cannon. So really Mr. Beckman, I'm not judging. OK, maybe I'm a little biased against the guy because of the whole polo shirt thing...I dunno, it seems so much cooler when Donovan does it, ya know? We watched that special on NET and really enjoyed it, though mostly Mama made me watch to see if a 70 year old Donovan could get up off the floor after half an hour of sitting cross-legged playing guitar (he did too! It was awesome. Mama bet me a chocolate chip cookie that he couldn't get up off the floor and then we were like, "Whoa, check it out man", and Mama gave me an extra cookie just because she was so impressed). Mr. Beckman, at least it was on at a reasonable hour. At seven AM on a Sunday, about all I'm intellectually capable of processing is, "It was another beautiful day on the Island of Sodor" and then they cue the theme song and by God, Mr. Beckman, by God I tell you, I'm no longer on an isolated dirt-farm in Saunders County Nebraska, but I'm riding along the rails with all my little train friends. Well, except for Devious Diesel, because he's a real bastard.

So, to quote Robert Frost from his wonderful poem, A Swinger of Birches":
"I was about to say before Truth broke in..."
Do you know that poem Mr. Beckman? It is about an old man wishing he were young again so he could swing on tree branches without dislocating a hip or something. Anyway, as Frost would say:
As I was about to say before Truth broke in...surely there must be another time to broadcast these pop-self-help people and their attentive minions-I mean, although the audience appeared to be filled with terribly earnest individuals with that somewhat glazed look people get when they are either completely enthralled, or completely befuddled (sort of like the look Mama gets when she tries reading Heidegger. Usually you can use the expression "Stupid Nazi rather offhandedly, but gosh, he really wasn't stupid was he? Have you ever tried reading that stuff? ) I doubt very much that it was being broadcast live at that hour. I should think even the earnest of followers would need a cup of coffee, or bancha tea, or Kool Aid before launching into the state of their Dharma. I'm sorry Mr. Beckman, the Kool Aid joke was intolerant, Mama says I have to apologise. Mama also says the crack about bancha tea was borderline, so sorry in advance for that one too. Coffee is still OK, I think.

Mr. Beckman, I don't want you to think your new programming has been completely wasted on me. I have a koan for you:

"What is the sound of one hand ripping up a check to the NET Foundation because they canceled Thomas the Tank Engine?"

In the words of that great Poet Robert Frost:

Wipe away my sorrows
Wipe away my fears
On the road to Shambala...

Lastly Mr. Beckman, I would like to remind you of the long and honoured tradition of responding to letters of complaint with monetary compensation. Why, my Mama once wrote an outraged letter of complaint to Hy-Vee because they put a ten pound bag of sugar atop he blackberries in a bag and do you know what they did Mr. Beckman? They sent Mama a gift card for fifty bucks. That's quite a few pints of blackberries Mr. Beckman. Another time, Mama wrote an outraged letter of complaint to Lauretizen Gardens and they refunded our membership dues and let us keep the membership-that's forty bucks Mr. Beckman. You can plant your own garden for forty bucks. Have you ever seen what forty bucks will get you at Earl May? So I guess what I'm saying is-Mr. Beckman, I'd like fifty bucks. That will buy a lot of Thomas episodes on VHS.

Thank You For Giving This Matter Your Immediate Attention

All Best,

Saturday, August 08, 2009


Maybe we could get some of those cops from Easton down here to deal with the whole damn flock of turkeys that like to hang out and menace people as the county road goes into a blind curve.

I wonder if people would be so bent out of shape if the cops had killed a person? I kinda think not.

Friday, August 07, 2009

"Everything You Know is Obsolete"

The perfect way to spend a long hot weekend...
"If I were a Grendel where would I be hiding?"
"Inlander! Inlander.....!"

It is beastly hot here-and the next few days don't look much better. This is a perfect weekend to stay in, beneath the window air conditioner and do a marathon reading of Beowulf. No, I didn't make lutefisk.

"Mama", Danny said to me standing in line at a local establishment this morning, "Everything you know is ob-so-lete." That got a few laughs. Just for that I should read it to him in Old English.

I did however, make a kick-ass sword and shield for Danny who henceforth will be known as "Daniel the Landlocked"


And know what? He's digging the story, particularly the Grendel's mother aka "The Mommy Monster." She was probably just pissed that the Danes didn't pick up their shit when they were through playing in the castle.

I guess I wouldn't be me if I didn't make a joke about getting a hankering for a Danish in the middle of the night. OK there, I made my lame joke and feel so much better.

If we finish before the weekend is out, I promised we could start The Tain.


Chocolate Raspberry Strawberry Cheesecake

Oh look, it glows.
Yeah, I left it on the bottom of the springform pan. Classy, eh?
...and the profile
Still a bit soft when i took the photo-I really should have let it set longer before cutting it.

As cheesecakes go, this wasn't terribly difficult for a baked version. Though lighter than some NY style cheesecakes, this still isn't exactly health food. I ended up replaceing one of the three cups of sour cream with plain full-fat yoghurt because I ran out of sour cream-but I don't think it saved much in terms of fat or calories. It does have considerably less sugar than most cheesecakes, which is rather pleasant.

I adapted a recipe from the 1987 Best of Food and Wine Collection. I made so many changes it hardly resembles the original (I didn't swirl jam in the cake, putting it on top instead, used yoghurt, etc.). Still, I thought the technique was good, so I'll go ahead and post it with the changes I made. I liked that it had very specific times for baking, letting it sit, etc. Because I've never been able to accurately ascertain when a cheesecake is sufficiently baked but still "jiggly" in the centre. The only thing "jiggly in the centre" around here is Mr. Eat the Blog. For baking I require a bit more information. Sorry, that's a major annoyance of mine. Anyhoo....hmmm dee dumm, hummmm dee dummm, gonna bake a cheesecake when I'm through railing against the world's injustices hummd-y dummmd-y dum... no real problems so I complain about jiggly food...humm dee....Oh, hi there everyone! Who wants cake?

Right. So the cake was fun to decorate as well. I had a quart of strawberries and a pint of raspberries. I tossed them with 1 1/2 cups of sugar and a generous splash of water-then, I boiled the hell out of them on the stove. When they were sufficiently reduced, but not to the gelling point, I removed it, let it cool and then had a superb topping with plenty of extra for my toast in the morning. A splash of raspberry liquor would have been nice if I had it, but eh, whatever.

Then, you knew there had to be chocolate, right? I melted two ounces of bittersweet chocolate and splashed it on with a spoon. That's it. The most difficult part of making this is leaving enough time for the various stages and for it to set-up properly. Probably would have been best made a day ahead, not when I got home at noon, but when you haven't slept in a couple days, time management skills are the first to suffer. I swear, this is worse than jet-lag, I don't know if I'm day or night or up or down. Hey everybody look, Mama made cake!

For the cheesecake:

1/2 cup chocolate graham cracker crumbs
2 8 ounce packages cream cheese, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
3 eggs at room temperature
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups sour cream
1 cup strained plain yoghurt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Have boiling water at the ready for filling a pan. Grease an 8 inch springform pan and wrap it in foil to prevent seepage. Scatter the cracker crumbs on the bottom to coat. In a large bowl on medium speed, mix the sugar and cream cheese until light. Beat in the cornstarch. Add the eggs one at a time beating well after each addition. Add lemon juice and vanilla, and salt. Beat well. Beat in sour cream and yoghurt.

Pour into pan and set in a larger pan that will be filled with about 1 inch water. Bake 45 minutes. Turn off the heat and bake 1 hour longer with the door shut. Remove foil and set on a rack to cool at room temperature for an hour. Chill thoroughly before removing sides of pan and decorating top. It should chill at least four hours or ideally more.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Let's Play Onion or Journal Star

OK, Journal Star or The Onion? Here's the first paragraph:

"GREELEY, NE—Experts confirmed Monday that a single black crow perched ominously on a fence post in rural Nebraska is almost certainly a harbinger of great doom and despair for all Americans."

OK, one more, because those one-sentence paragraphs have you unfairly assuming Journal Star without really thinking about it:

"The crow came eerily to rest on the rickety wooden post at 10:26 a.m. Monday, according to farm hands working in a nearby field at the time. Citing a vague but certain feeling that "something just wasn't right," one of the laborers contacted law enforcement officials, and within hours federal authorities had converged on the site."

So what did you guess? Click HERE to see if you were correct.

What Pretty Little Buns...

Heh, stop that ya' perverts.

Bread, I'm talking about bread.

The only thing these buns need are plenty of time and patience in handling very wet dough. If you can do that, you're all set. I'm warning you though, the dough is so wet you won't believe it will ever turn into bread, but just flour your hands and keep going, it will eventually come together. I find that a baking sheet well-dusted with flour works best for these and I just toss a towel over it between rises-scraping it in and out of a bowl seems like extra work.

You Will Need:


3 1/2 cups Bread/strong flour
1/8 teaspoon instant yeast
1/2 tablespoon salt
About 2 1/2 cups water

Combine in a large bowl until flour is very wet and soupy-you may need more water. Cover and let sit overnight or up to 14 hours.

Next morning:

Add to the sponge:

1/2 teaspoon instant yeast
1/2 tablespoon salt
1 1/2 cups water
(about 4 cups) bread flour-you do not want this bread too dry or firm.

If you have a stand mixer, let it knead for about five minutes. If not, roll up your sleeves and start pulling the dough. I did this entirely by hand and it came out just fine. When the dough has been worked for a bit, dust it lightly with flour and give it a couple folds. Then, let it sit, covered for an hour. Come back, give it another fold and let it rest another hour. Give it one more fold and let it rest another half hour.

Divide the dough into eight pieces and let rest 10 minutes. Generously sprinkle a baking sheet with cornmeal. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. and heat a pan in the bottom along with it. Halfway through the preheat, toss in an ice cube and let it create a bit of steam.

Shape the buns and dust lightly with flour. Let rise another 45 minutes or until almost doubled. Slash buns, use whatever method you prefer for creating oven steam (in addition to the ice cube) and load the bread into the oven. After twenty minutes, carefully (stand to the side, it is full of steam) open the oven and rotate the pan. Bake another 10-15 minutes or until rolls are quite dark and read to an internal temperature between 200-205 degrees F. Cool on racks.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Spinach Pasta With Assorted Vegetables and Feta

This was a nice way to use up the odds and ends in the vegetable bins. A handful of broccoli, a handful of cherry tomatoes, two ears of corn. You get the idea. What is so impressive here is the pasta. I still can't believe I made something that good from a block of frozen spinach-but there you have it. I'll post the recipe for the rest just to give you an idea of how I use leftovers, but really, the recipe to note is the pasta. Wow, that was good pasta.

For the spinach fettuccine:

3 egg yolks plus 1 whole egg beaten until very light
3 tablespoons very cold water
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 package frozen chopped spinach cooked, drained and squeezed dry of all liquid in a dish towel
1 1/2 cups semolina
1-2 cups AP flour plus more for dusting

To the beaten eggs add the water and salt. Beat in the spinach until well broken-up. Beat in the semolina and then by hand add the regular flour until you have a very stiff dough. Take it from the bowl and knead lightly until no longer sticky. Let rest on a floured surface 10 minutes. Divide into about five balls and flatten with a rolling pin. Put through a pasta maker, or use your strong arms and then cut into strips. Dredge in more flour to prevent sticking. Let dry on a rack for 30 minutes before transferring to a bag in the fridge, or cooking right away. These noodles freeze well.

For the vegetables:

Roasted cherry tomatoes
2 ears of corn removed from cob
1 large onion
1 bulb roasted garlic
2 small florets of broccoli
A handful of black olives
half a hunk of Feta cheese
Chopped parsley
a knob of leftover butter and chopped fresh sage
olive oil
Salt and pepper

I know, it sounds like a crazy combination, but somehow it worked. The cherry tomatoes give off their juice in the roasting oil and that makes the base of a really nice sauce (along with extra oil and butter).

What the Internet Was Invented For

Funny, awful, awful horrible funny-and plenty in between.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Angel Food Cake

Have a bowl full of egg whites that need to be used? This angel food cake is slightly different from ones I've made in the past as it uses confectioner's/icing sugar for part of the sugar content. It is very light and pretty. I improvised a glaze of confectioner's sugar/water and pearl sugar which gave it a nice crunch on top. The dried fruit looks pretty as well.

Make sure your eggs have sat at room temperature for a good long while before you start whipping them and you should find this an easy enough cake to bake.

From the Betty Crocker picture Cookbook, 1950 ed.

You Will Need:

a 10 inch tube pan-ungreased. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. (this recipe specifies a preheat, which is unusual for angel food cake, I think)

Sift together:
1 cup cake flour
1 1/2 cups confectioner's sugar

In a large mixing bowl:
1 1/2 cups egg whites
1 1/2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1/3 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Beat until foamy. Gradually add-about 2 tablespoons at a time, 1 cup of granulated sugar. Beat about ten seconds between additions.

When stiff peaks form. sift in the flour mixture 3 tablespoons at a time, folding just until absorbed. Pour into pan and with a knife, cut in widening circles to break any air bubbles. Set on a baking sheet in the oven and bake until cake springs back when lightly touched-about 40 minutes. Hand on a funnel to cool. When completely cool, loosen with a sharp knife and release. Glaze and decorate as you prefer.

Tart Andalouse-sort of

Go ahead, have a big slice...
The filling cooking before adding rice...

Gulliver the tomato...
...and adding the rice to the mixture.

The tart should have been in puff pastry, but it is far too warm here to make any. Traditionally it would have included both celery and red peppers-certainly not radicchio. Eh, whatever ;)

There is but one small slice left of this tart for some lucky person's lunch tomorrow-it was that good. I used Gulliver the tomato for the topping, which only gets a few minutes in the oven-delicious. I knew that tomato would be special and by golly, it was. The other tomatoes cooked in the dish were pretty delicious as well. I suppose you could make this with store bought tomatoes, but I wouldn't use tinned-not for this.

I know rice in a tart sounds like carb overkill, but trust me on this, you will enjoy it. The filling is otherwise light (no cheese or eggs) and it is just so full of flavour. Really, try to make it at least once while the good tomatoes are in season.

For the tart shell:

1 cup AP flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
3 ounces cream cheese
4 ounces unsalted butter cut-up

Sift together the flour and salt. Cut in the cream cheese and butter and knead lightly. Roll out and fit into a pie plate. Chill at least an hour and set in the freezer half an hour before baking.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Line pastry with foil, weight and bake about 15-20 minutes or until almost dry. Remove foil, prick with a fork and continue baking until lightly browned. Don't overbake it like an idiot-I am an idiot. I always overbake when I blind bake. Don't be like me.

Let cool before filling.

For the filling:

1 large onion, finely chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 large tomatoes, seeded and chopped-reserve a few slices for the top
1 cup finely chopped parsley
1 cup finely chopped radicchio
1/2 cup cooked jasmine rice
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 tablespoon capers, rinsed
12 black olives, halved

Cook the rice and set aside. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Cook the onions in butter and olive oil over low heat until soft but not browned-about 10 minutes. Add tomatoes, parsley and radicchio. Season with salt and pepper and add thyme. Cook until liquid evaporates-about another ten minutes-you can increase the heat if it is not cooking off fast enough. Add the rice and mix well. Pour into tart shell and top with capers, olives and tomato slices. Bake about ten minutes or until tomato just starts to wilt. Serve hot.