Wednesday, April 29, 2009

White Bean Casserole

I wouldn't call it a veggie cassoulet, but I used some of the same techniques such as breaking the breadcrumbs back into the liquid as it bakes.

I used what I had, but I don't see any reason that you couldn't adapt it to the contents of your fridge.

You Will Need:

4 cups cooked white beans (I cooked mine with 2 bay leaves) with a cup of the cooking liquid reserved
1 cup of roasted red pepper spread (my recipe is HERE but store bought will do)
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup chopped baby arugula
1 cup chopped flat leaf parsley
1/2 cup sliced shallots
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 teaspoon dried thyme
2 tablespoons sweet (not smoked) paprika
1 tablespoon preserved lemon peel-chopped
1/4 cup chopped green and black olives
2 cups fresh breadcrumbs toasted in a pan with clarified butter
1/2 cup Swiss cheese, grated
1/2 cup Munster cheese, grated

Slices of fried polenta for serving-if you like.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a large frying pan, heat the olive oil and cook the shallots and onions for a minute until softened. Add arugula, parsley, thyme, lemon peel, olives and paprika. Cook another minute until combined. Add red pepper sauce and the drained white beans. Add the reserved bean liquid and simmer for another minute or so. Test salt level-adjust as needed keeping in mind the cheese and breadcrumbs will add salt.

Transfer to a casserole dish and top with cheese. Toss on about 1/4 of the breadcrumbs. Bake fifteen minutes. Using the back of a large spoon, cut the topping back into the bubbling beans to soak up more liquid. Depending on how wet the mixture is, add up to another cup of breadcrumbs and let bake another fifteen minutes before again cutting into the casserole. This should be enough, but if it is still quite liquid, you can repeat the procedure again. Bake until the top is nicely crisped.

Serve hot over slices of polenta fried in olive oil.

ChocolatePie/Cheesecake Hybrid

Yeah, now I'm just making names up. The problem is, I've made so many variations of chocolate cream pie that it is becoming difficult to keep them apart in my mind (never mind the archives).

The problem for me, is that they all taste good, but I've yet to make a chocolate pie I thought was fantastic. Truthfully, it is probably me. I get these ideas in my mind about how wonderful chocolate pie should be, without having anything to aim for. It isn't like I'm trying to recreate something cherished from childhood. What if this is just what chocolate pie is supposed to be like? *shudder*.

For part of the chocolate filling (3 ounces anyway) I used a single source Venezuelan chocolate bar with a 91% cacao content. It was just too intense for me to enjoy eating straight (anything over 70% is too strong for my Cadbury conditioned tastebuds to comprehend)but was excellent in pie filling. I have a half dozen of those bars left (of different bean sources) and while I would happily invite local readers over for a wine and chocolate tasting, let's face facts-it won't pair nicely with Mogen David and that's the only wine I routinely have in the house. Besides, there's a pandemic and we're all going to be quarantined indefinitely-I'm going to want baking chocolate.

"...and there in the wood, a piggy-wig stood with a...*" OMG! We're all going to die!!!!!"
(sorry, I lost myself for a moment there...what were we talking about? Oh yeah, stocking up on emergency chocolate. OMG! We're all going to die!!!!!. Crap, I did it again, didn't I?)

Still, a multi-step pie that came together without catastrophe is always worth posting.

*You remember the piggy-wig with the ring at the end of his nose in The Owl and the Pussycat-don't you? Just by way of helpful advice, no matter how badly you need a ring to get married, do NOT under any circumstances pull it from a pig's nose-at least not now. Sure, the pork producers are sayin' it's OK to eat pigs, but no one is going out on a limb reassuring the public it is OK to give your beloved a ring out of a pig's snout. Be safe-and wash your hands.

Oh what, you're first figuring out what a weirdo I am? Sheesh. Fine, here are the recipes:

For The Crust:

For a 9 inch pie with 1 crust:
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons cocoa
1/2 cup butter
3 tablespoons cold water

Mix dry ingredients in a bowl. Cut in butter until fine crumbed. Add water slowly a tablespoon at a time until dough comes together. You may need more. Let stand a few minutes before rolling out and fitting into dish.

Pierce surface and bake in a 450 degree F oven for about 10 minutes. Cool completely before using.

For The Chocolate Filling:

2 cups whole milk
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3 egg yolks
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
2 ounces sweet chocolate, chopped
1 tablespoon butter

Combine sugar, cornstarch, salt, egg yolks and chocolates in a heavy saucepan. Add the milk slowly whisking as you go. Over medium heat, keep whisking contantly. When mixture comes to a boil, cook another minute or until thickened. Remove from heat, beat in butter and transfer to a bowl. Cover with cling wrap, poke a few holes in the surface and chill half an hour. Give it a stir and continue chilling until cold. Pour into prepared crust and chill again. While that sets, make the cream cheese topping.

Cream Cheese Topping:
5 ounces softened full-fat cream cheese
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups whipped cream

Wipe cream and set aside. In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese, sugar and vanilla until light. Add the whipped cream and continue beating until quite smooth. Place in a pastry bag and pipe neatly onto chocolate pie. Chill a couple hours until set. Garnish with additional melted chocolate if desired.

The Onion or Journal Star?

I have so many of these, it could almost be a regular feature. I almost wish it had been published in the Onion. I really have to wonder why they insist on keeping the weekly food section.

Oh yeah, don't forget to use "artisan" bread, because everyone knows that makes the sandwich along with the taco flavouring mix.

Yep, that says Cinco de Mayo to me. I mean, more than barfing margaritas all over the sidewalk, but probably not as much as something that actually mentions the Battle of Puebla.

Who wants a grilled cheese sandwich?

Monday, April 27, 2009

Pilgrim's Bread

From the Better Homes And Gardens Homemade Bread Cookbook, 1974. A nice sandwich bread, nothing I would call spectacular, but OK.

You Will Need:

1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon salt
2 cups boiling water
1/4 cup cooking oil
4 1/2 teaspoons granulated dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup rye flour
4-5 cups white flour (I substituted bread flour)

In a large bowl, combine cornmeal, sugar, oil and salt. Pour boiling water over and let stand 30 minutes. Meanwhile, soften the yeast in the warm water and set aside.

Add the yeast to the cornmeal mixture and add the wheat and rye flours. Add the bread flour slowly until you have a workable, not sticky dough. Knead until smooth and elastic-took about five minutes by hand.

Place in an oiled bowl, turn and cover. Let rise until doubled-about 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Butter two baking pans and divide the dough in two. Let rest ten minutes before fitting into pans. Cover and let rise until almost doubled-about 40 minutes. Bake 25 minutes and then cover top loosely with foil for remaining 10-15 minutes. I baked thesae to an internal temperature of 200 degrees F.

Cool on racks.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Vintage Clothing

1930's rayon dress with beading detail

1930's rayon dress with interesting sleeves/neckline

Lanz, dated 1958

Cotton, 1960's
1950's rayon with rhinestone detail at neckline

I started buying vintage clothing when I was still in High School-it drove my mother up the wall. From her standpoint, they could afford to buy me clothing, and she couldn't fathom why I would want to wear someone's old cast offs. Admittedly, vintage clothing was just called "second hand" at that time and celebrities weren't doing it.

I chose a good time to get in on the market. I have a beaded flapper dress that with a bit of restoration might buy Danny his first used car someday. By the time I was actively seeking vintage clothing in the early 90's, good finds were still available-but becoming scarce. Those were the years when I'd spend a couple days at the Brimfield Fair haggling over woolen women's suits from the 1940's.

I still find things occasionally that interest me, but I stopped actively acquiring vintage clothing a few years ago. I really do have enough-more than enough. No really, I'm serious-an entire second floor bedroom is used for storage of clothing. I'm not going to run out of things to wear.

I thought it might be fun to start showing some of the more interesting items. I haven't figured out a good way to photograph them yet, so bear with me as I know these are less than perfect pictures.

Baklava Muhalabiyya

Unlike ordinary baklava, this has a pastry cream filling made with semolina. I was intrigued by it for some time, but never had a recipe-now I do. You can find the recipe HERE. If you haven't already bookmarked Mercedes's blog-go ahead and do so now (I'll wait, go on). Desert Candy is the sort of blog where you end up reading and each dish sounds even better than the last. I can easily imagine people cooking their way through the blog as people do with cookbooks- cover to cover.

I flavoured the syrup with rose water, and were I to make it again, I might substitute cardamom for the cinnamon in the filling. It seems like a very adaptable recipe. I made it in stages and chilled both the syrup and filling before using. The top was indeed crisp-the bottom got a bit soggy, but really I don't think anyone cared.

This is the sort of thing you should bake on a workday because it will make much more than one family can consume (it is heavy). I think Mr. Eat The Blog will have some happy co-workers tomorrow morning.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Tractor Test Museum

Things have been a bit unpleasant lately, so I wanted to do something Danny might enjoy. If you guessed standing in freezing cold rain early on a Saturday morning with a group of very old men looking at very old tractors-you're correct.

It was open house day at the UNL Tractor Test Museum. Very educational-but cold.

Unfortunately, Mr. Eat The Blog was unable to join us as he had other commitments today, but I know he'll be green with envy when he find out we were able to watch someone spend the better part of an hour attempting to start an old oil-pull tractor. When we left, he was still trying. That's sort of a drag because it was one of the main draws of the event. Hopefully they got it going.

If I sound less than excited, Danny is more than making up for my lack of interest. We did make the obligatory stop at the farm store on the way home for a tractor toy. Danny selected a New Holland tractor which actually suprised me a bit as no one we know has one. Usually kids like what they are familiar with. Maybe it's a form of rebellion-like the kid in a family of White Sox fans that starts cheering the Red Sox.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Chocolate/Apricot Charlotte-esque Dessert

Honestly, I didn't know what on earth to call this-I'm open to suggestions.

Last Christmas, my Mother-in-law gave me a set of four beautiful antique silver moulds. They're stamped France, but beyond that I don't know much about them. This was the first time I used them and well, just look at how beautifully dessert turned out.

The recipe for the filling makes quite a bit-it freezes well as is, or can be churned in an ice cream maker if you want something lighter. You could also serve it alone as a sort of mousse. Or, just get a spoon and a big bowl and make yourself comfortable.

It looks complicated, but really isn't. You'll need time for each stage to set, but otherwise the actual recipes are a breeze.

Ladyfinger recipe HERE.

For The Filling:

2 cups whole milk
2 squares unsweetened chocolate, chopped fine
1/2 cup sugar
2 egg yolks
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon unsalted butter

4 cups whipped cream
1/3 cup sugar

1 cup apricot preserves, melted and strained of solid fruit
3 ounces of bittersweet chocolate, melted

In a saucepan, mix together the chocolate, sugar, egg yolks, cornstarch and salt. Slowly whisk in the milk. Place over medium heat and continue whisking until it comes to a boil. Cook one minute longer still whisking constantly. Remove from heat. Cover with clingwrap, chill.

When custard mixture is cooled, whip the cream and add the sugar. Place about half the whipped cream in a bowl with the custard mixture and beat with an electric mixer on high speed until quite light. Fold in the rest. Chill.

While the mixture chills, prepare the ladyfingers for the moulds. Line your moulds bottom and sides with waxed paper. How you cut the ladyfingers will depend on the shape of your moulds-mine needed to be sligtly trimmed at the bottom. You want a tightly fitting layer of triangles at the bottom and sides that are fairly close. Make sure the rounded side of the ladyfinger is facing outward. When they are secured in place, brush generously with melted preserves. Chill fifteen minutes to set. Remove from fridge and spread with melted chocolate over the preserves. This will chill hard and keep the filling from leaking, so use it to fill any gaps you may see in your ladyfingers. Chill again for fifteen minutes. Fill with chocolate mousse and then use remaining bits of cut ladyfingers to top the moulds. Cover and chill several hours or overnight before serving.

They invert easily onto a plate and I didn't have any difficulty removing the strips of waxed paper.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Because I Promised

I promised Danny I would try to make some Thomas The Tank Engine cookies "someday." No time like the present, I guess.

What a massive pain. These were the ones that turned out somewhat OK-you should see the failures. I seem to have lost my decorating skills along with everything else. Happily, Danny was pleased with his cookies and I feel less like a total failure of a mother. To overcompensate, I bought him a Sea Monkeys kit today as well. Boy, is he ever going to be disappointed when he finds out they don't wave and do tricks and comb their hair whilst sitting in a cute little castle. Anyway, we put the water purifier in the bowl and tomorrow we can add the eggs.

Then, to really round out my excitement for the day, coming out of the bank in our small town, the wind blew the skirt of my dress up in the air (yes, I was wearing a slip-what sort of a tramp do you think I am?) much to the amusement of the old men who like to stand around in front of the bank talking, or waiting for the wind to blow up ladies skirts, or whatever it is old men stand around doing.

Oh look everyone, Mama made cookies!

Brussels Sprouts Mould

I seem to only make this when I'm not feeling well. It is easy enough to do, and is excellent cold the next day. You can get the recipe HERE from the last time I made it (was sick then too, but don't worry, you don't actually need to be ailing to make one ;)

I steamed my sprouts in a bamboo steamer to prepare them, but this will work fine with frozen sprouts that have had a boil in a pan. Really, it is that versatile.

This time I made a sauce with Swiss cheese and served the whole thing over iceberg lettuce with some beautiful red globe grapes. And what do you know-everyone ate without complaint and cleared their plates. I'm serious, this is so easy, and it works with just about any vegetable (asparagus, broccoli, cauliflower) you have in the fridge. You can prep a good deal of it ahead and set it in the oven an hour before you plan to serve dinner (it will need time to sit after coming out). If you don't want it for a main course, it would make a terrific side dish with something light like fish.

The best part? I didn't hear a peep about "I don't like Brussels sprouts." I won't claim the recipe will convert any die hard sprout haters, but it might help encourage a bit of tolerance.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Still On The Mend

I'm doing OK-still have to wait for pathology results, etc. but overall I'm a whole heck of a lot better than I was 24-48 hours ago. I had to laugh-before the procedure they have you sign off on all these papers indicating you've been advised you can't drive, or make legal decisions because of the anesthesia. I asked the nurse if that meant I can't wake up screaming that I want a divorce for the next 24 hours and she nervously laughed and said yes. What is it with these people-does ANYONE in this bloody state have a sense of humour? Really, they should change it from "The Cornhusker State" to "The State Of Really Dour People." Sheesh. What they should really warn people is not to have your husband stop at Zesto on the way home from the hospital to buy you a chocolate malt. I'm blaming the not-quite worn off anesthesia impairing my judgment. Hey, I hadn't eaten in a couple days. He said there was a really long line/wait but I didn't notice. I guess I sort of fell asleep in the car (that makes the wait go much faster). He's a good man, he really is bless his heart. For years, he's been telling me how great their malts are, but I don't really care for that sort of thing-it figures I'd take him up on it when there was a line waiting out the door.

Anyway, I'm resting and don't expect to be spending too much time in the kitchen for a while. Always one to look at the positive aspect of things (um...OK not really, but let's pretend) I now weigh 130 lbs. which would be completely awesome if I didn't otherwise look like a sick old lady. I'm going to climb into bed and watch television and sew myself a showy new apron, or a bed jacket, or whatever old ladies sew themselves when they're stuck in bed. In all seriousness-this is why I stock-up on needlework supplies when they are on sale-the time passes much easier when you have pillowcases to embroider. Speaking of handicrafts-maybe I ought to knit one of THESE. Not that anyone would laugh...because Nebraskans don't do that.

Anyway, I hope to be back to speed soon, but eh, Mr. Eat The Blog is doing a fine job of providing Danny with food so I'm not rushing. He made a lovely pizza last night with my roasted red pepper spread I canned last Summer as a base. Today he made Chinese.

I might just stay put and let him take over the household duties. I wonder how he is at hanging out laundry?

And really, for crying out loud people-laugh. It's good for you...and it's good for me. Really. Really. OK?

See you soon.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Vegetarian Passover Cabbage Rolls

I used rice in these, but some Jewish groups do not permit rice during Pesach. You can use an extra sheet of crumbled matzo to compensate. Peas are also probably suspect-so omit them if in doubt. I also did not use eggs to bind the filling together and left it as more of a soft stuffing. Again, you may prefer a firmer filling and an egg beaten into the mixture before filling should work fine.

I didn't work from a recipe, rather what I had in the fridge/pantry. I called these cabbage rolls for lack of a better name, but if you're looking for something traditional-this is probably not it.

I had much more filling than cabbage leaves to fill, so I baked it in a casserole dish and let the top crisp a bit. It reheated well.

You Will Need:

About 12 large cabbage leaves, cooked until soft in boiling water, drained and cooled(you can overlap smaller ones if you run short)
1 cup cooked white rice
2 sheets roughly crumbled egg matzos
1 cup tomato sauce (3 tablespoons reserved)
1 cup vegetable broth
1 teaspoon thyme
1 tablespoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon dried garlic
Pepper to taste
1/2 cup raisins
1 cup cooked peas
3 large carrots, grated
1/2 pound mushrooms, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
3 celery stalks, chopped and leaves if you have them
About 5 tablespoons olive oil (you may need more)

Prepare cabbage leaves and set aside to cool. Mix together spices and dried garlic in a bowl and set aside.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a large frying pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat and cook the carrots, celery, mushrooms, pepper, raisins, and peas until everything is soft. If it begins to stick, add more oil. When mixture is soft, stir in the spices, rice, and crumbled matzo and cook until well coated. You'll need to keep stirring to keep it from burning. After a couple minutes, add the reserved tomato sauce. Remove from heat and cool slightly before filling cabbage leaves.

Don't over stuff your cabbage leaves. Fill them, wrap them and arrange them in a deep baking dish. Combine the tomato sauce and broth and pour enough over until it reaches halfway up the sides of the rolls. Place any extra filling in a baking dish, and use some of the liquid to moisten it as well. Reserve any extra liquid in the fridge as you may need it later.

Bake the filling until nicely browned on top (about 20 minutes). Bake the cabbage rolls until most of the liquid has evaporated, basting every once in a while to prevent the tops getting dried out. If the cook (or burn) too quickly, add some of the reserved liquid. Cook until firm. Remove from oven and let stand a few minutes before serving.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Passover Sponge Cake

Now, this is more like it. The recipe comes from A Taste Of Tradition, Ruth Sirkis, 1972. In fact, I'd say this cake is everything a Passover cake could hope to be-light, sweet and quite plain. After all the heavy foods this week, it really hit the spot. Still, keep in mind that the cake is deceptively light and is still full of eggs and sugar. My sister once found that out the hard way as a child binging on Passover spongecake until she became quite ill. So moderation, OK?

Today was another of those days where I wanted to accomplish more than I was able to. Halfway through planting onions I realised that the world won't come crashing to a halt if I don't plant onions-so I planted one bag and then stopped. I'm headed to the hospital Friday and hopefully I'll get an answer soon for why I'm so terribly anemic. I keep thinking that being tired is something I can just will myself to overcome, but really I understand this isn't a matter of lacking stoicism. Man, I just want to plant my stupid onions and bake a cake now and then. Thankfully, this cake was a breeze with a hand mixer.

I really don't expect to be posting much over the next few days, and certainly not the weekend (Look, I know better than publishing anything post anesthesia-I have the post c-section missives at the other blog to back it up). In the meantime, do try this cake. Even if you don't celebrate Passover, it is a nice change from ordinary sponge cakes and could probably be adapted to use all potato starch for gluten free diets (haven't tried it, so try at your own risk).

This was so much better than that piece of( _____________insert favourite word for poop from Gourmet I baked and tossed yesterday.

You Will Need:

6 eggs at room temperature, separated
1/2 cup matzo meal
4 tablespoons potato starch
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
grated zest of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon salad oil

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly oil a 9 inch tube pan

Sift and measure the matzo meal and potato starch together. Set aside.

Place egg whites in a large bowl (I used a copper bowl)and the yolks in a medium bowl. Beat egg yolks with oil and lemon juice until very light in colour and thick.

Whip the egg white and salt until they form peaks and then VERY slowly-a tablespoon at a time, add the sugar. Beat until stiff but not dry. Fold the yolks into the whites carefully. Through a sieve, add the dry ingredients and carefully fold into the egg mixture. Fold in the grated zest.

Spoon into the pan without pressing. Bake about 40 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool in pan on a rack. You do NOT need to hang or invert it.

Cool, and glaze if desired.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Gourmet Magazine, You Suck

It didn't always suck, and up until the last few years, I could assume that following the recipes would result in something edible. Since their recipes seem to fail more often now than they succeed, I have to say that I'm through wasting ingredients and time on at best, adequate results. Today's attempt at THIS was an absolute disaster.

The candied fennel hardened into fennel candy sticks-not really the pleasant topping I imagined for an upside down cake. What's more, fennel is expensive. I. Am. So. Annoyed. It sounded odd to me as I read the recipe, but I went with it figuring it was tested. I no longer believe this recipe was tested. It was inedible. Blech.

No more subscription-I wouldn't even leave these crummy magazines in the Free pile at the library. Boo, hiss.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Almost Easter

It just wouldn't be Easter at our house if I didn't make Peep bird nests complete with realistic looking poop. Hey, it's a family tradition.

I have coloured eggs and a pile of Disney branded merchandise ready to stuff into grass lined baskets as soon as Danny heads off to bed. I might have gone a bit overboard with stickers.

We laid out the raised bed for the new garden today. If you were wondering, 15 ft. long railroad ties are REALLY heavy. We ended up just sort of tipping them off the back of the truck and moving them into place. I wish we'd devoted more of the backyard to a proper garden years ago-mowing grass is overrated and you can't serve it for dinner.

There's a new out building as well. I never thought I'd get so excited over what is basically a very large shed, but I am. Maybe I can clear out the mudroom a bit now.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Arugula/Rocket With Green Bean Salad

We were lucky enough to find a large container of baby arugula on a deep sale and still in decent condition. I couldn't see drowning it in a heavy dressing, so I made my favourite green bean recipe (HERE), chilled it and served it over the greens. Lovely.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Just. So. Tired.

Really, I was so tired I couldn't stand the thought of chopping an onion and some garlic-so I didn't. Thank goodness for dried.

I didn't really need a call from the doctor's office to tell me I'm severely anemic, but I got the "oh, this is very serious-don't blow it off, when can we schedule you for an invasive procedure" call this afternoon and if anything, I feel like it gives me an excuse to resort to dried onions and garlic. I don't think the spinach in the dish will help much, but eh, here it is.

Look how clean that oven is though-really shiny. I wonder how long I'll keep up with obsessively cleaning it to keep it all sparkly new? Probably until the first time I roast a duck in it!

This dish follows the same idea as Matzo lasagna, where the crackers soften into a noodle-like substance. OK, you'll need some imagination on that one, but people eat tortilla soup and those sure as heck can't pass for noodles. If you're feeling up to it, browning an onion and some garlic would be nicer than the dried stuff, but I was able to get it made and into the oven in under twenty minutes.

You Will Need:

Matzos-about 5
1 box frozen spinach, cooked drained and squeezed dry
4 cups cottage cheese
3 eggs
3 cups of grated cheese-I used Swiss, Mozzarella, and Pepato
1 cup crushed potato chips (I had kettle cooked garlic and Parmesan)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Mix everything except the matzos, 1 cup of the grated cheese mixture and potato chips together. Layer between matzos in a baking dish. The top layer should be spinach filling, then topped with reserved grated cheese and potato chips.

Bake about 35 minutes or until cheese is bubbly and top is nicely browned. Let stand a few minutes before cutting and serving.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

The Saga Of The New Oven

They ordered a new computer board for the range. The oven works, but the middle digit is missing when you punch it in so it is difficult to tell if you're at 300 or 350 because all you see is 3 and 0. I managed by counting the beeps like a blind person (which I'm pretty close to anyway-no exaggeration, but that's another post).

You know, for $450. I kind of expected better. I know this isn't the high end, but it isn't bargain basement either. It feels like a cheaply made appliance. Unfortunately, there isn't much choice in electric ranges if you don't want a glass top.

It is funny things, like the way the racks slide out, or the way the knobs turn, not the actual performance of the oven. It cooks, I guess.

I'll have to give it a proper breaking in by baking some bread after Passover to really gauge what it is capable of, but from what I've done so far, I'm a bit disappointed.

Passover Chocolate Cake-Simone Beck Version

I made THIS last year and since I knew it worked well, did it again today. This year I decorated it with parlsocker-fancy, huh? That's me-always with the fancy stuff.

We used my late friend's blue tablecloth which I had shoved in a drawer years ago when she gave it to me because it was ugly, and polyester. Maybe it is because this is the first Passover since she died, or maybe because I'm getting older and can appreciate a tablecloth that does not require ironing-but I thought it looked lovely. Sometimes I miss Evelyn so much that it actually physically hurts to think about it.

We won't talk about the utter disaster that preceded this cake that I devoted three hours to before tossing it in the dustbin. The recipe neglected to mention some vital information like cooking the egg yolks to a custard-but that's OK. We're not going to talk about the two pounds of dried apricots, the pound of butter...well you get the idea. What's worse, it was from a cookbook. Don't they have editors to check for those sorts of errors? Right, but we're not going to talk about that. Hey, let's talk about this magnificent cake-because it really is. Couldn't be easier either. Well, all right, it could be-but still it isn't that difficult to manage-less work that a flourless chocolate mousse cake.

Matzo Balls From The Boston Globe

My first thought was that the recipe sounded overly fussy, what with beating the egg whites and yolks separately. Still, I wanted to try for something a bit lighter than my usual heavy, "superballs" that could be used for a mean game of jacks if you didn't want to eat them.

So I was wrong, I mean, I was right about it being fussy, but they turned out excellent-and light. I actually used chicken fat to make them since I had exactly three tablespoons of the stuff sitting in a jar in the fridge. That was handy, eh? I did not boil them in broth, but they still turned out full of flavour.

Morrocan Olives

I had my doubts when I saw the recipe in Gourmet, but I had everything on hand to make them and well, what do you know, everyone really liked them-even the kid.

They're awfully pretty too.

You Will Need:

2 cups green olives, smashed to crack open slightly
4 garlic cloves, sliced
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons tomato paste
1/3 cup water
2 teaspoons harissa
3 thyme sprigs
2 thin lemon slices

Cover olives with water in a small saucepan. bring to a boil, then drain. Cook garlic in olive oil over medium heat until golden-about 2 minutes. Add tomato paste and cook another minute. Stir in water, harissa, thyme and olives. Simmer until liquid is thickened and coats the olives-about 5 minutes. Remove from heat, stir in lemons. Transfer to a shallow dish and chill at least 24 hours. Keeps in an airtight container for a month.

Potato Pancakes For Passover

My normal trick of using flour and baking powder were out tonight-so I improvised and made these lovely potato pancakes. I shredded the potatoes into a bowl of water and kept them in the fridge for several hours, changing the water twice. That helped keep their colour and from being overly heavy and starchy (some people like them that way, but we don't).

You Will Need:

5 large baking potatoes
3 large eggs
3 tablespoons matzo meal (or more if needed)
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
Pepper to taste
Oil for frying
sour cream/applesauce for serving

Grate potatoes into a bowl of water and let sit several hours changing the water at least twice. Drain well and squeeze dry. Heat about 1 inch of oil in a frying pan until hot. Mix potatoes, eggs, matzo meal, and salt and pepper together. Drop by spoonfuls onto hot oil and fry until golden. Turn and continue cooking until done. Keep warm on a tray in the oven until served.

A New Trick With Tinned Beets

Really, this was so simple, it is absurd.

I drained the beets reserving the liquid. To the liquid, in a pot I added 1/2 cup of blood orange jelly (you could use whatever you have). I reduced it until there was about 1/4 of the original volume remaining. I tossed it with the beets, chilled it and served it cold with sour cream.


Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Haroset-Alcohol And Nut Free

I was just reminiscing with Mr. Eat The Blog about my youth when Mother would send me to school with leftover Haroset on matzo for lunch. Can you imagine sending a seven year old to school with a sandwich of booze-soaked apples? Yeah, I didn't think you could. I reckon that would constitute child abuse today.

Anyway, I don't like kosher wine, and I'm allergic to nuts-so here's my recipe for haroset that should satisfy any busy-bodies that fear young children are being corrupted by generous splashes of Mogen David in the haroset.

You Will Need:

1/2 cup dried apricots, cut in half
1/2 cup dried dates, roughly chopped
Hot water to cover dried fruit
1 large apple, chopped
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
Pinch of ground cloves
Concord grape juice-start with 1/4 cup adding more if needed

Soak the dried fruit for half an hour. Drain. Chop apple. Put everything into a blender. Add more grape juice if needed until you have a spreadable paste. Chill well before serving.


I know, you were expecting something baked in the new oven-so was I!

New oven has a small problem with the electronic display-it bakes, but I have no way of knowing at what temperature as it is missing a couple numbers. Sigh. I told Mr. Eat The Blog he has to take the day off work to deal with the repairman from Ernie's because after the fiasco with the washing machine, I just don't think I can face the guy-yet again.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Chocolate No-Bake Cheesecake-With Bonus Cute Picture Of Danny

Awwwwww, look at my little engineer.

The new oven arrives Monday morning! Until then, here's another delightful no-bake recipe. Danny was so excited he could hardly wait until evening to dig in...and pretty much announced to anyone that would listen that "Mama made chocolate cheesecake for dessert!" Mr. Eat The Blog had just stepped in the door when Danny dragged him to the fridge to admire it.

So how was the much-hyped cheesecake? Pretty darn good. In fact, I'm really thinking I prefer these to the heavy, New York style baked versions with eggs and a ton of cream cheese and sour cream. This was just enough.

Completely unrelated-we are getting a winter storm tonight. The worst of the snow is supposed to go North, but we're getting high winds so even a few inches of snow will be a mess. Yay, Midwestern Spring!

You Will Need:

About 20 chocolate graham crackers, finely crushed and 1 stick unsalted butter, melted. Mix together, press into pie plate and chill.

For The Filling:

8 ounces cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup whipped cream
2 squares bittersweet chocolate, melted (2 oz)

Whip cream and set aside. In a large bowl, on high speed, beat the cream cheese until light. Beat in the sugar and vanilla until very smooth and light. Beat in the melted chocolate. Beat in the whipped cream until very light. Pour into pie plate and decorate with melted chocolate.

Chill several hours before serving.

For Decoration:
2 squares bittersweet chocolate, melted
2 squares white chocolate, melted

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Garlic Broccoli With Noodles And Stir-Fry With Tofu

I cooked the broccoli noodles ahead and just re-warmed it in the microwave so I wouldn't spend hours on my feet cooking. There's plenty left over for tomorrow-that's my kind of dinner.

The broccoli is a bit more cooked than I would have made it for myself, but children don't always chew vegetables as well as they could-so I erred on the side of caution. I wouldn't call them "overcooked" though (at least not by the definition I have from growing up with my mother's cooking which was very nearly inedible).

I knew the meal would be great when Mr. Eat The Blog walked through the door and declared:
"That smells great."

For The Garlic Broccoli Noodles:

1 bunch broccoli trimmed into floretes (reserve the stems for the stir-fry)
4 large cloves of garlic, minced
1 tablespoon black bean garlic paste
1 teaspoon sesame oil
4 tablespoons Canola oil
1 box angel hair pasta, cooked

Steam broccoli to desired tenderness. Refresh under cool water and drain. Set aside. Cook noodles, set aside. In a very large frying pan, cook the garlic, paste and oils over medium heat until garlic softens. Add broccoli and mix well. Remove from heat, stir in the pasta and add more oil if needed until well coated. Serve hot or cold.

For The Stir-Fry
1 package extra firm tofu-pan fried (see below)
Broccoli stalks-peeled and matchsticked
3 carrots, thinly cut in ovals
2 tablespoons chopped fresh ginger
2 bunches scallions, chopped
1 cup shredded cabbage
2 red bell peppers, matchsticked
3 star anise-finely ground
2 tablespoons black bean garlic paste
1 teaspoon sesame oil
4 tablespoons Canola oil
A few red pepper flakes

Place everything except tofu in a large plastic ziplock bag and mix well. Let marinate a few hours before cooking.

Fry the tofu ahead. Rinse the block of tofu and pat dry. In a towel, gently squeeze out as much water as possible without crumbling it. Cut into thick slices and press dry again. Cube and pat dry one more time before frying. In enough Canola oil to coat the bottom of a pan, cook the tofu over moderately high heat until browned on all sides. Remove to a plate and chill until ready to use.

Dump the stir-fry vegetables into a wok or large pan and cook over medium-high heat. In the last few minutes, add the tofu to coat with sauce and warm through.

Serve over rice (I used Jasmine) with Hoisan sauce and hot sauce.

Makes a huge amount of food.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Everything Over Rice

-That's pretty much what I made for dinner. Chick peas, red peppers, carrots, onions, celery, mushrooms, get the idea. Served over rice with dried apricots and raisins, it made a nice meal along with a salad and grilled toast. It looked like I spent all day planning dinner. Shhh, no one needs to know it was tossed together in an hour.

The toasts were grilled in a cast iron pan with some olive oil. I served them with strained yoghurt and pomegranate molasses.

You Will Need:

For The Rice:
1 3/4 cups stock
1 cup Jasmine rice ( washed and rinsed)
2 tablespoons chopped dried apricots
2 tablespoons raisins

Bring stock and fruit to a boil, add rice. Cover, reduce heat to simmer and cook 15 minutes. Remove from heat. Let stand five minutes longer. Fluff with fork before serving.

4 tablespoons (plus more if needed later) olive oil
4 carrots, peeled, trimmed and chopped into very small pieces
2 onions, chopped fine
4 stalks celery, trimmed, scraped and chopped fine
2 bay leaves
1/2 teaspoon dried sage
1/4 teaspoon dried rosemary (crumbled)
1 teaspoon dried thyme
Ground pepper
About ten black olives, chopped
1 tablespoon preserved lemon peel, chopped fine
1 cup chopped mushrooms
2 red peppers, chopped
1/2 cup chopped parsley
2 tablespoons sunflower seeds
2 tins chickpeas, rinsed drained and as many skins removed as you can stand dealing with (it gets tedious)

In a large frying pan, heat about four tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat (it should cover the bottom of the pan with about 1/8 inch of oil). Add the carrots, onions and celery and cook for about ten minutes, stirring once ion a while. Add the spices and reduce heat to low. Cook until the onions are translucent and the carrots are very soft-nearly mush. Remove from pan and set aside. Add more oil if needed to pan and cook the red pepper, mushrooms, olives, lemon peel and chickpeas until the red pepper softens. Return the carrot/celery mixture to the pan and continue cooking until everything is warmed through. In the last few minutes, add the parsley and mix well. Toss with sunflower seeds before serving over rice.

It Is 3:30 In The Afternoon...

...and I have no idea what I am making for dinner.

I'll bet you didn't think that happens to me, eh? Surprise!

Anyway, I know it will involve a pint of "grape" tomatoes because I picked some up at the Warehouse Surplus in Wahoo for a whopping .25 cents. Bought a bargain head of iceberg too.
I love that place, where else can you pay for groceries with the change in your pocket?

The new oven should be arriving any day now. I'm so excited!

Now, to go forage in the freezer for dinner.


With all the talk recently of low-water toilets and recycled toilet paper, I have to think THIS Canadian company has come up with an unbeatable approach to the ecological issue.

What do you think?