Friday, July 31, 2009

Homemade Pasta With Roasted Cherry Tomatoes in Cream

Well that just looks like summer on a plate, dontcha think?

Get yourself some tomatoes...

Give them a nice coating in olive oil, salt and pepper and thyme.
Roast those beauties up.

Make some homemade spaghetti...

Return your roasted tomatoes to the pot with some herbs...
Add some cream and pretty soon you've turned otherwise healthy vegetables into...well, something you'd actually want to eat.

We're still swimming in cherry tomatoes, so this seemed like a good use. You'll like my instructions-I didn't measure worth a crap. You won't either-just trust your gut and it will be fine-a bit more or less isn't a big deal.

For the pasta:

3 egg yolks plus 1 whole egg at room temperature
3 tablespoons cold water
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup semolina flour
1 cup AP flour
Extra Ap flour for dusting

Beat the eggs until quite light. Beat in water and salt. Beat in semolina and then switching to a wooden spoon, work in the AP flour until you have a stiff dough (you may need more or less). Divide into about six pieces and let rest. Run through pasta maker, and dredge in additional flour to keep from sticking. Let dry on a rack for about 30 minutes before placing in bags in the fridge until ready for use. These noodles also freeze well.

For the Tomatoes:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Take as many cherry tomatoes as you want to use and place them in a deep casserole dish with a good glug of olive oil, a generous sprinkling of sea salt and black pepper and a few Pinches of dried thyme. Cook twenty minutes, stirring once in a while. Then, turn the heat off and let them sit in the oven another thirty minutes. Cool, reserving oil and juices. Set aside until ready to use, or chill.

While pasta cooks, in a small pan, re-warm the tomatoes very gently with a handful of chopped parsley, a handful of gently torn basil leaves and about 1/2 cup of heavy cream. Adjust salt and pepper and serve over hot pasta. Top with hard cheese if you like.

Blueberry Rhubarb Pie

I always loved these dessert plates of my mother's, but I don't think she ever could have imagined them holding pie. She just wasn't a pie person and that's kind of sad now that I think of it, though this dessert would have put her in a diabetic coma.
Yeah, there's a little sugar in there.
Almost too pretty to cover with a crust.
I went ahead and brushed it with cream because...well, what the hell. Right? There's some vanilla sugar sprinkled on top as well-fancy, eh? You know it is!

Is it bluebarb or ruberry? Spell check doesn't know either.

Oh sure, my family laughs when I frantically freeze the early rhubarb, but when blueberries are at their peak, the fresh stalks are long gone. I always save a few cups to make a rhubarb apple pie in October when my in-laws come to visit, but this pie was so special looking I regret not freezing even more. Look at that colour!

The pie is deceptively simple, and I worked with fruit straight from the freezer. The pie crust is yet another attempt to get a good balance between butter and shortening-I still prefer an all shortening crust, but those (insert obscenity of your choice here______) at Crisco changed the formula and now I'm back to reinventing the wheel, or the pie crust anyway. So which obscenity did you go with? I like "rat bastards" but I'm kind of a traditionalist.

So here you go, the best rhubarb blueberry pie I've ever made with a crust that is acceptable. If you have a good crust recipe, by all means, use it-and share it in the comments if you're willing.

For the crust:

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

Mix flour and salt together. Cut in butter and shortening. Mix water, egg and vinegar together . You may not need it all so add it slowly until you have a dough. Handle as lightly as possible. Roll into a ball and let rest a few minutes. Roll out and line pan. Return to fridge to chill while oven preheats and you make filling. I like to roll out the top onto a cutting board and chill that as well.

For the filling:

3 cups blueberries (fresh or frozen)
1 cup cut-up rhubarb (fresh or frozen)
Grated zest of 1 lemon
1/4 teaspoon lemon juice
1/4 cup AP flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons butter cut into small pieces for dotting

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Combine blueberries, rhubarb, sugar, flour, salt, lemon zest and juice. Pour into chilled pie crust and dot with butter. Top with second crust. Cut slits to vent and crimp closed. Brush with heavy cream and sprinkle lightly with vanilla sugar on top (regular sugar is of course, fine).

Place the pie plate on a baking sheet (mine didn't spill over but if I'd neglected this step you know it would have). Bake about an hour, but do keep an eye on it after about forty minutes. Let stand several hours before cutting and serving. I made some vanilla ice cream to go with it.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Pattypan, Rocket, Radicchio, Carrots, and Cherry Tomatoes-With Fresh Basil

Don't you just adore summer? I know I do. I had no idea how easy rocket is to grow, and how wonderful it is to go out and snip just what I need to make dinner. What a delight. I have about a million cherry tomatoes at the moment-OK not quite a million, but certainly many, many more than I thought I would have from one packet of seeds. Those plants produce like crazy. We still haven't picked Gulliver, but he has a companion now, Swift. I think Swift may overtake Gulliver for size. I'm telling you, this is the most productive garden I've ever had. We're already discussing another raised bed or two for next year. Beats hell out of mowing the can't eat the grass clippings.

This is hardly a recipe-I used a few tablespoons of olive oil in a pan and cooked what I had adding the lettuces, herbs and tomatoes at the last. I had some extra tofu from the Vietnamese salad so in it went before serving. My only advice is to cook this quickly, and lightly as the vegetables are of a somewhat delicate variety.

You Will Need:

3-4 smallish pattypans, sliced
1 clove garlic, chopped
3 carrots, thinly sliced on the diagonal
1 cup radicchio cut in thin strips
1 cup rocket trimmed
A handful of cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup fresh basil, torn in pieces
Salt and pepper

Cook the carrots and garlic for about five minutes before adding everything else to the pan. Cook just until lettuces wilt.

Vietnamese Tofu Salad

I went ahead and made it anyway, but I knew there was no way I could stand and grate cabbage. I used a sharp knife instead and I think it came out just fine-actually thinner than it is most of the time when we order it out. Obviously, I didn't top it with chopped peanuts, but that's the way it is ordinarily served. Serve the salad chilled over hot jasmine rice with extra fresh mint and basil for the top.

You Will Need:

1 package extra-firm tofu pressed dry of liquid, sliced and fried in a bit of oil until golden
6-8 cups shredded cabbage (better if you have Nappa, but no big deal if you don't)
3 large carrots, grated
1/2 cup shallots, thinly sliced
1/2 cup chopped mint leaves
1/2 cup basil leaves, coarsely torn
2-3 cloves garlic, chopped
1/4 cup fresh squeezed lime juice
3 tablespoons fish sauce
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes

Cook the tofu and set aside.

Combine the cabbage, carrots, shallots, garlic, and half the basil and mint in a large bowl. In a small bowl, combine the lime juice, fish sauce, vinegar, sugar and red pepper flakes. Mix well until sugar dissolves. Pour over salad and add tofu. Mix well and let marinate about half an hour before serving chilled over hot rice (trust me on the hot-cold thing).

Even better the next day.

The Solar System

This is what we did today, before I pulled the muscle that sent searing pain through the upper half of my right side. I still don't know how it happened, I didn't reach for anything. This seems to happen all the time now. Hey you young punks, get offa my lawn! I had a Vietnamese tofu salad planned for dinner but I don't think I'll be hand grating any cabbage at this point. Ouch. Typing ain't a pleasure either, so I'll keep it short and sweet.

Here's today's helpful hack:

When painting styrafoam, it helps the paint to take and spread across the surface if it is wet first. I put the balls on skewers and dunked them in water before letting Danny paint them-worked great.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

A Neat Trick With a Sheet-Cake, and Gulliver

If you're baking a 9x13 sheet cake and want to give it some interest, stir in a bag of chocolate (or any flavour) chips. They will sink to the bottom creating a nice layer. I did this with a simple white cake last night, and then gave it a rather plain cream, cheese frosting and the effect was really nice...almost like bars.

I can't believe I never thought of it.

We're due for some bad weather this evening and I'm debating whether to go out and pick the enormous tomato we've been letting sun-ripen. It was so big, we had to name it. Gulliver. I swear the thing is the size of a softball. For a rather cool summer, I still can't get over the yield I'm getting from the tomato plants. I don't know if they just really like being in a raised bed, or the quality of the soil or the cheap fertiliser spikes we used, but they sure like something.

Overheard in Nebraska

If you happened to be in the public restroom at the Gretna outlet mall this morning, you would have heard this exchange (which a few people did, as far as I could tell by the muffled (and not so) laughter).

Danny: Why do I always have to paper the seat first?
Me: So you don't get cooties.
Danny: I thought cooties were just in your hair. You mean I can get body cooties too?! I didn't know you could get those. I'd better paper the seat!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Well That Was Dreadful

I couldn't get through The Deep Range. I tried, I gave it over sixty pages but I kept feeling intellectually violated.

I can enjoy light reading, but not something that tries so hard to be serious. Had The Deep Range been written by a an undergrad English major, I might find the striving amusing and let it go-but this guy got paid to write that rubbish. Paid. Actual money. Bah.

I'm about halfway through Lunar Landscapes (John Hawkes) which is sort of like rinsing your eyes out with Lysol after trying to read The Deep Range. It hurts, but it is good for me, in a cleansing sort of way. I suspect John Hawkes loathed people-ever read Death Sleep and the Traveler?

I'll be back with a recipe eventually.

Monday, July 27, 2009

So I Was Reaching For The Curtain When A Book Hit Me on the Head...

...which I suppose means, I ought to read it, right? Thankfully, it was a small book. Can you imagine if I'd been hit on the head by Rabelais? Not that I don't enjoy a good read about giants wiping their behinds with a live goose-because I do, but having Rabelais hit you on the noggin would have hurt much more than an old, Sci-Fi paperback.

I've been feeling lousy and wanting to disconnect from the internet for a while now anyway. I can't look at the newspaper anymore, particularly the comment section because it just convinces me that I really do loathe people as much as I claim. Mr. Eat The Blog remains unconvinced that I truly hate people because if I did, I'd be reading Celine. I can still feel contempt for people without reading Death on the Installment Plan, can't I?

"How bad can 1950's science fiction be?" I said to my husband trying not to laugh.
"Pretty bad."
"But the cover says it is a thrilling novel."

We'll see if I get ten pages into it before giving up.

Tofu, Green Beans, and Fennel Bulb

I have so many green beans in the fridge at the moment I have room for little else. I'm still too weak for any serious canning and my freezer is bursting at the seams with fruit, so here's one way to make a dent in the pile.

I started putting together the various elements of this dinner at 6AM and with a bit here and a bit there, I managed to pull dinner together by 6 PM. I did not try any, but as it was cooking Danny wandered into the kitchen and said :
"That smells really good."

He never does that. Moments later, Mr. Eat the Blog walked in the door and said pretty much the same. They both had seconds. There's a small amount left for Mr. Eat the Blog's lunch at work tomorrow. I served it over rice, but it would do fine over rice noodles, or what have you. I would have cooked the green beans a bit less if only adults were eating it, but as children sometimes don't chew as carefully as they ought to, I gave them a few more minutes in the pan.

You Will Need:

3-4 handfuls of fresh green beans (more or less) trimmed
2 tablespoons chopped fresh ginger root (I peel mine first)
1 large onion, sliced in spears
About 4 ounces fresh mushrooms (I used Baby Bellas) chopped
1 bulb of fennel, sliced as thinly as possible
1 handful fresh mint, trimmed-divided in 2 parts
1 handful fresh basil (the purple kind is best if you have it) trimmed and divided in 2 parts
1 tablespoon black bean garlic paste
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1/2 cup cooking oil
1 block tofu, pressed dry of moisture, cut into blocks and stir-fried in about 2 tablespoons oil until golden on all sides. This can be done well ahead.

Make the tofu, and keep chilled until needed.

In a large plastic bag (or a bowl) combine everything except the tofu, mushrooms, fennel, mint and basil. Mix well and seal. Chill several hours before cooking.

About an hour before you plan to cook, add the fennel to the bag and let sit.

Stir fry and add the mushrooms, half the bail and half the mint. In the last five minutes, add the cooked tofu to absorb the flavour of the sauce.

Serve over rice sprinkled with additional fresh basil and mint. I offer hot sauce, chili paste and hoisan sauce at the table as well.

Mincemeat Ham Loaf

You'll forgive me if I don't actually make this, but since it sounds good to more than a couple people, here's the recipe. feel free to send me links to any photos if you do make it and I'll be happy to post them.

You Will Need:

1 1/2 pounds smoked ground ham (I had no idea you could buy smoked ham in ground form. I need to get out more!)
2 cups soft bread crumbs
1/4 cup chopped onion
1 1/3 cups mincemeat
1/4 cup of milk
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper

Combine ham, bread crumbs, onion, mince meat, milk, salt and pepper. Pack into a 9x5x3 inch loaf p[an. Bake at 350 degrees F. until top is browned-about 50-55 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes before slicing.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Things to do With Mincemeat

Per Raymond's request, here are some ways to use up a glut of mincemeat. Obviously, tarts are the easiest and probably best thing you can do with the stuff, but since you asked, and I have thousands of cookbooks in my collection, here are some obscure suggestions. If none of these sound good, let me know because I have many, many, more.

I have this nifty little booklet from 1950 with all sorts of revolting recipes like mincemeat ham loaf and a mincemeat Bavarian. I didn't include any of those, but if anything catches your eye, why just ask and I'll have the booklet in the post Monday morning. Mmmm, nothing says springtime like baked custards all wobbly with jellied mincemeat.

Mincemeat Hermits:

1 cup sifted AP flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/3 cup soft butter
1/3 cup dark brown sugar, packed
1 egg
2/3 cup mincemeat
1/2 tablespoon sour cream or buttermilk

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Grease a large cookie sheet.

Cream together butter and sugar until light. Add egg and beat well. Add dry ingredients. Add mincemeat and cream. Mix well. Drop by spoonfuls onto greased cookie sheets and bake 10-12 minutes until done. Cool on racks.

Mincemeat Ice Cream Pie:

1 jar mincemeat
1 quart vanilla ice cream
2 tablespoons rum
1 nine inch baked pie shell
1/2 pint whipping cream, whipped

Mix together mincemeat, ice cream and rum. Pour into pie shell. Top with whipped cream. Keep in freezer until ready to serve.

Mincemeat Coffee Cake (Almost A Monkey Bread):

4 1/2 cups AP flour (aprox)
4 1/2 teaspoons dry granulated yeast
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup oil
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons grated lemon rind
2 eggs

For the mincemeat filling:
1 cup mincemeat
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons nutmeg
3/4 cup melted butter

To prepare the dough:
Place two cups of the flour, yeast and nutmeg in the bowl of a mixer. Heat together the milk, water, sugar, oil and salt until lukewarm. Keep stirring to dissolve the sugar. Beating at medium speed, add the lemon rind and milk mixture to the flour and beat two minutes. Beat in the eggs. Add another cup of flour and beat one more minute.

With a wooden spoon, beat in remaining flour to make a stiff dough (you may not need it all). Knead until smooth and satiny.

Place dough in a greased bowl and turn to coat. Cover and let rise until doubled in bulk-about an hour.

After rise, divide dough in three sections and let rest ten minutes. Divide each third into sixteen pieces and roll each into a ball. Spread half the mincemeat on the bottom of a well-buttered 10 inch tube pan. Combine the sugar and nutmeg. Dip half the balls into the melted butter and then in the sugar. Arrange neatly over the mincemeat. Spread remaining mincemeat over the balls and repeat dipping the remaining balls in butter and sugar. Cover and let rise again until nearly doubled-about an hour.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Bake 40-45 minutes Cool in pan two minutes, then invert onto a plate. Serve warm.

Mincemeat Pumpkin Pie:

1 1/2 cups mincemeat
1 unbaked 9 inch pie shell, chilled
1 cup cooked, mashed pumpkin
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 eggs, light;ly beaten
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 cup milk

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

Place mincemeat in bottom of pie shell. Beat together remaining ingredients. Pour over mincemeat. Bake 35-40 minutes or until set. Serve slightly warm, or at room temperature.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Apple Raisin Coffee Cake

Talk about unexpected oven spring. Yes, it is as big as it looks. I actually used less yeast than the recipe called for. The ladder loaf design split, but it is still pretty. I guess perhaps I should stick to the Swedish Tea Ring, since I know it always turns out perfect.

I really have no business baking, or doing much of anything right now, and frankly I think it shows. On the other hand, I tend to be super-critical of my baking efforts whereas everyone else just notices, "Hey, there's cake." The boys really liked it, and since my taste buds are screwed-up from taking Methotrexate, I'll take their word for it. I can't really taste sweet anymore.

The filling is moist, and the cake could have gone a few more minutes in the oven, but it was browning quickly, so I pulled it out. I wouldn't call it under-baked, but I do wish the centre had been a bit drier. The Summer apples were exceptionally juicy (and tart) which might have contributed to the moisture.

I now have a gigantic coffee cake for three people. I guess I'll be giving away large hunks of it tomorrow. Really, I had no idea it would be that big.

Adapted From The Betty Crocker Picture Cookbook, 1950 ed.

Will Need:

3/4 cup warm milk
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup warm water
3 teaspoons granulated yeast
2 eggs
1/2 cup soft butter
4-5 cups AP flour

Filling recipe below:

Combine warm milk, sugar and salt. Stir until dissolved. Dissolve the yeast in warm water and let proof.

Add yeast to cooled milk mixture and beat in eggs and butter. Add the flour a cup at a time and keep adding until dough is no longer sticky. Knead well until smooth. Place in a buttered bowl and let rise 1-2 hours or until doubled in bulk. Punch down dough and let rise a second time until almost doubled in bulk-about 45 minutes. Meanwhile, make the filling.


2 cups apples peeled cored and finely chopped
1 cup ground raisins (I just chopped them because I don't bring out my mother-in-law's heirloom metal grinder just for raisins unless I'm making mincemeat by the gallon-the thing weighs a ton)
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Mix together, boil for one minute. Remove from heat and cool before using.

After second rise, roll out dough into a rectangle 14x8 inches. Place dough on a well-buttered heavy baking sheet. In the centre, make a strip of the filling about 3 inches wide. Cut the sides into strips with seven evenly spaced on each side. Criss-cross and tuck the edges in (whole heck of a lot of good it did me) and then tuck the very end pieces under. Cover with a damp cloth and let rise for another 30 minutes while the oven preheats to 375 degrees F.

Mine baked 25 minutes, but do keep an eye on it and maybe poke a toothpick in the centre to see if it is baked through. Remove from oven, transfer to a rack and then place the rack over another baking sheet. Make a glaze of confectioner's sugar and a bit of water and pour generously over the still warm cake. Let cool completely before cutting.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Red Peppers with Radicchio, Rocket, Garlic and CherryTomato

I tossed the lettuces in last with some olive oil, salt and dried thyme-cooked just until the lettuces start to wilt. About five minutes total. The combination was good-the bitter lettuces against the sweetness of the peppers.

Knishes Filled With Kasha, Mushrooms, Carrots and Potatoes

I should have photographed them cut, but duh-I forgot. I added the filling in layers-kasha and mushrooms, carrots, and a few potatoes on top. They looked pretty when cut. I've made knishes before and you can see those HERE. I've also made kulebiaka with similar fillings HERE. The dough was new to me, as was the rolling and filling technique. You can find that recipe HERE, though I did not use the filling in the recipe.

Oh, I know what you thought when you clicked that link:
"What the fuck does Emeril know about knishes-he's a townie from Brockton?" I thought that too, but then I got all distracted by the whole "Essence of Emeril" thing which makes me think of a sweaty Portuguese guy in chef's whites. BAM!

I didn't have any, but the boys ate quite a few between them so I'm taking that as a positive review. They certainly were pretty. The dough was about as simple as it gets-almost like a pie crust made with oil, but rolled much, much thinner. I'm really skilled with a rolling pin, but if you're not, this might be an exercise in frustration.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Cucumbers and Ginger

Mr. Eat the Blog brought home cucumbers again from a co-worker. I held my nose (I can't stand them) and made this pickle for him, but I didn't try any. He enjoyed it and is looking forward to topping sandwiches with it for lunch this week. Good for him-at least it will be out of my fridge where I won't need to look at it. I put it in a jar, but I swear, I can still smell it.

I just guessed at the measurements (I wasn't going to taste it) but if you don't mind this sort of thing, go ahead and adjust it according to your taste.

You will Need:

2 cucumbers, mostly skinned with a bit left on for colour
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar
4 tablespoons fresh ginger cut into very thin matchsticks
1-2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
Red pepper flakes to taste
Salt to taste

Shove it in a jar, shake gently and keep in fridge. It should probably marinate at least a day.

Mandel Brot/Biscotti

I thought I'd posted the recipe for these, but I can't find them in the archives, so here goes. This recipe is versatile and takes well to any number of fillings (nuts, fruit, chocolate, zests). They keep for a long time and ship easily. Grab yourself a nice cup of coffee/tea because these biscuits are great dunkers.

I'll give the recipe for the anisette ones, but for the chocolate just omit the fennel seeds and zests substituting cinnamon and chips. Mini chips are nice if you have them. Cinnamon chips are even better.

You Will Need:

1/2 cup butter
3/4 cup sugar
3 eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 cups AP flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon aniseed
2 tablespoons grated lemon zest
2 tablespoons grated orange zest
(optional cup of blanched almonds, which obviously, we skipped)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment or grease lightly.

Cream the butter and sugar until light. Add the eggs one at a time beating well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla. Sift together the flour, baking power, and salt. Stir into batter. Add remaining ingredients and mix well.

Divide dough into three sections. Roll each section into a long rope about 1 1/2 inches around. Flatten the top slightly and place on sheets.

Bake 15 minutes. Remove and carefully cut slices about 3/4 inch thick. Lay on sides. Bake another seven minutes on each side. They may need a bit more time so if they seem too soft, or not yet browned, a couple more minutes of drying time won't hurt, but don't bake them too hard as they will crisp a bit as they cool.

Remove to racks and cool completely. Store in airtight containers. Makes a few dozen.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Pineapple Roll

Danny thought I should rest, so he made me a beautiful dinner last evening and brought it on a tray. How sweet is that?
Not the greatest photo, but really delicious.
You can sort-of see the light, fluffy crumb of the roll in this photo.

A simple, impressive dessert that takes well to just about any fruit. I didn't fuss with the photo because I feel like crap. I wasn't even going to post this, but it met such raves from Mr. Eat the Blog that I changed my mind and grabbed one of the rolls to photograph very much as an afterthought.

If you make this with different fruit, adjust the spices accordingly. You could serve this with whipped cream, or vanilla ice cream, or even some sour cream. I served it with fresh pineapple slices because I don't like to share my heavy cream ;)

You Will Need:

2 cups all purpose flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons granulated sugar divided into 1 and three tablespoons
1/3 cup shortening
3/4 cup milk (aprox.)
1/4 cup very soft, but not melted butter
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/16 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 cups fresh pineapple, cut into small pieces and drained (reserve the juice for something else, or just drink it like I did)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 cup water

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Grease an 9x13 inch pan.

Combine the flour, baking powder, salt, and 1 tablespoon of the sugar in a bowl. Cut in the shortening until you have fine crumbs. Add the milk slowly, and stop as soon as you have a soft dough that you will still be able to roll. Roll the dough into a rectangle about 1/2 inch thick. Using your fingers, spread the butter over the surface as evenly as you can without gouging big holes in it. I never gouge big holes in my pastry dough...most of the time....usually.

Sprinkle the butter covered dough with the remaining sugar mixed with the spices. Spread the pineapple on and then carefully roll it up. Cut into 1 1/2 inch slices and layer cut-side up in the pan.

Mix together the brown sugar, lemon juice and water and pour over the pastry. At this point it will look strange and watery, but don't worry-it all gets absorbed and the results are fluffy and delicious. Bake thirty to forty minutes. Serve warm.

Monday, July 20, 2009


I'm not really feeling well at the moment, and because luck just seems to find me, I needed emergency dental work done. I'm not cooking, or doing much of anything for the moment, so I wanted to let the regulars know and save you guys clicking back to see if I've posted.

Just so you don't get cheated out of the whole "let's hear her try to talk with a mouth full of novacaine" experience, I'll leave you with this:

"I jub hwad muh tuth wooked un an it huts!"

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Marzipan is Overrated

Danny had his testing for food allergies today. The sesame test came back negative, but he reacted pretty strongly to peanuts and almonds. Go figure. I'm the opposite-I can eat peanuts and almonds, but cashews, pistachios and pecans will put me in the hospital.

I haven't had a cashew since 1972, when seconds after eating the cookie the nice woman at Kauffman's gave me, I began clutching my throat and puking. Back then, we didn't have Eppi pens and children's liquid Benadryl. My mother walked me up the street to the drugstore and bought a package of Chlortrimeton, and I chewed one. I can't remember if we went to the hospital after, but that evening when my sister found out what happened she was seriously pissed:
"She gave you a cookie?! She doesn't give anyone free cookies. What makes you special?"

Funny, the stuff you remember.

Poor kid, peanut allergy pretty much assures you won't ever be eating in a Chinese or Mexican restaurant again, and the way my culture worships at the altar of ground almond flour and paste, he can forget about most bakery items-at least of the Battenburg cake variety (they always look better than they taste anyway). We eat most meals at home anyway, but someday he might move to a real city and want takeaway Chinese food. I know some people will make special requests when they go out for a meal, but unless it is a place that advertises doing so, I think that's a hell of a lot to ask of the kitchen-particularly without advanced warning. I've never done it, and I don't have any expectation of my food allergies being catered to when I'm out, so I usually eat ahead of time if I know I'll be joining others somewhere where the cuisine is risky with food allergies (Indian, for example-gosh they love their cashew nuts in India!). I order a cup of coffee and enjoy the company. It isn't a big deal. I understand the argument people have about feeling that they are entitled to have a meal out too-that the food allergy is a form of disability, but I couldn't disagree more. Then again, I don't really feel "entitled" to much from a private business. If the government were handing out rations after a nuclear blast and all they had was peanuts and almonds, I might be miffed and raise a stink, but otherwise, it isn't that difficult to take food with you when you go out in the event you've planned ahead and things have gone wrong. I've always felt it was my responsibility to keep myself safe-not everyone else's. It is nice if people want to accommodate me and prepare a dish I can eat at a dinner party, but I certainly wouldn't ever ask anyone to do it. It just isn't that big of a deal. I wouldn't want someone to smear cashew butter all over the toilet seat before I came over though. That wouldn't be very nice. You should paper the seat anyway-you don't want to get cooties!

I'm going to get hate mail for that, I'm sure. The soapbox bit about food allergies, not the crack about cooties. Everyone hates body lice.

We still don't know why he reacted to the tahini, but the best guess is that it was contaminated with almonds or peanuts at the factory. As he only had the tiniest piece, I have to wonder if the tahini was made partly of ground almonds without it being labeled? Sometimes foods that are imported don't translate all that well on the label. Anyway, that's where he's at, and because of all the cross-contamination risks in processing they tell you to just avoid all nuts, regardless of how it tested. An allergy to one is considered enough reason to stay away from all.

I've lived most of my life with food allergies, and I know it isn't the end of the world, but I do sort of wish he could have been spared the hassle.

I guess this means we won't be taking Danny on a trip to Erie to see the "peanut roasting lady" (If that place is still even there. If it is, and you're in Erie, you should go-she's a real hoot) and his baked goods are going to be consumed at home from now on. It will be a drag being vegetarian, because of the of nuts in so much of the food.

If I had to find something positive from this, I'd say at least these days, people take food allergies seriously as it is more common. In the 60's and 70's it was pretty rare and people would try to feed me things saying "Oh, it only has a few cashews on top, just pick them off."

Drats. I'd really hoped he could skip all this hassle.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Ravioli of Chickpeas, Spinach, and Cheese

This was an interesting attempt at something different. We enjoyed it, though not as much as lighter fillings with cottage cheese or ricotta. I made a massive amount of the filling, so tomorrow I will add some eggs and use it as a Lasagna filling. I'll give you the recipe, but feel free to change the amounts, proportions, etc.

The ravioli were served with some roasted potatoes I needed to "use or lose", roasted cherry tomatoes (from the garden) rocket (also from the garden) and shallots (from the Chinese grocer). I tossed it all with a bit of butter.

For the ravioli dough:

3 egg yolks plus one whole egg
3 tablespoons cold water
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup semolina flour
1-2 cups all purpose flour

Beat the eggs until light. Beat in salt and water. Beat in semolina and then by hand, add as much AP flour as you can until you have a stiff dough. Let it rest a few minutes before running it through a pasta maker or rolling out by hand.

For the filling:

2 blocks of frozen spinach, cooked, drained and squeezed dry of liquid in a dishtowel
6 cups cooked chickpeas, cooking liquid reserved
1 large package cream cheese (8 oz)
2 cups grated Swiss cheese
1/2 teaspoon granulated dried garlic
Salt and pepper

Puree the chickpeas. Mash in everything else thinning with cooking water if needed. Set in fridge to chill several hours before using. The ravioli will do best either cooked right away, or kept chilled right until they go in the water because the filling is so soft.

Cook ravioli in gently boiling salted water until done. Time will depend how thin you roll them.

Serve with something roasted potatoes. Yikes.

A Pretty Bread

My shaping and slashing skills are improving. I made two loaves today, this was the better of the two, though really they are both nice. It is a simple white bread made with a preferment I left 12 hours overnight. Mostly, I did French folds because I didn't have the strength to knead today. It still amazes me that you can make bread like this simply giving it slow rises and a fold now and then. Neat, huh? Happy Weekend!

Swiss Roll With Caramel Frosting Filling and Brown Sugar Ice Cream

Kind of difficult to photograph on account of both being somewhat beige. The cake and frosting recipes are adapted from:
From Amish and Mennonite Kitchens, Good and Pellman

The ice cream is adapted from a Dorrie Greenspan recipe for vanilla. The only change I made was substituting brown sugar for white.

For the Swiss Roll:

3 eggs, separated
1 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup water
1 cup AP flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
Confectioner's sugar

Grease and flour a jelly roll pan and preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Beat the egg whites until stiff. In another bowl, beat the yolks, sugar and water until quite light. Add flour sifted with baking powder to yolk mixture. Gently fold egg whites in.

Spread evenly in pan and bake 8-10 minutes. Invert onto a towel sprinkled with powdered sugar. Roll up and let cool.

For the Caramel Frosting:

1/2 cup butter
1 cup brown sugar 1/4 cup milk
2-3 cups sifted confectioner's sugar

melt butter in a sauce pan. Add brown sugar and cook over low heat for 2 minutes. Add milk and cook over medium heat, stirring until it comes to a boil. Remove from heat and let cool. When cool, beat in the confectioner's sugar until you reach a spreading consistency.

For the Brown Sugar ice Cream:

3 egg yolks
1 cup whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla

In a mixing bowl, beat together the eggs and sugar. Meanwhile, heat cream and milk to a boil. Remove from heat and beat a few drops at a time into the egg mixture. After the first few splashes, you can add it more quickly, but you don't want to cook the eggs. Transfer back to sauce pan and cook to 170 degrees F. whisking constantly. Remove from heat, add vanilla and set in ice bath to cool. When completely chilled, process in an ice cream maker and then let harden a few hours in the freezer.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

The First Thing You Cooked

Discussion over at the Guardian about the first thing you cooked as a child. I'm not sure my very first attempt in the kitchen counts as "cooking", exactly.

My friend Dina, whose mother had the front of the hair dyed snow white and the back jet black (hey, in 1970, that was really cool) convinced me that her very cool multi-coloured haired mother wouldn't mind if we "whipped something up" in the kitchen. I seem to recall it was a punch involving Kool-Aid, peanut butter and Ju-Ju Bees (hard jelly candies). This had to be about grade two-we were eight years old, at most.

A few years passed and I made a proper attempt at a loaf cake. By this time I was ten, and we lived in a home with a lovely double oven that rarely saw much use. I dug out an ancient bread pan and prepared my batter, pouring it ever-so-carefully into the pan. It looked lovely coming out out of the oven-it might have actually smelled good. We cut into it and discovered large blobs of unmelted margarine still dotting the interior of the cake. To this day, I have no idea how or why that happened. My mother was a great one for bringing home food that was so engineered to be "healthful" that it was no longer food at all-so it is possible this was simply one of those abominations that didn't work well in baking.

As an adult, I remember baking a potato dish that involved some potatoes, onions, a cup of butter and condensed potato soup when I was first married. I didn't cook much because we lived in a neighbourhood in Boston that had all sorts of quality take away, some with delivery. To this day, our little dog will start barking like crazy at a knocking sound because he thinks someone is bringing "Crispy aromatic fish", and scallion pancakes. It was only after we moved out here to the farm that I learned to cook, because I had to.

So what was the first thing you remember cooking?

Vegetarian Black Bean Tamales

It had been bothering me for a while-could I make a vegetarian tamale that didn't rely on a meat-substitute like veggie chorizo? I'm pleased to say this not only worked, but made a really enjoyable filling that I could see serving to the meat eating crowd. As it does not rely on any soy-based substitutes, it is handy for people that have difficulty tolerating fake meats. Besides, black beans are much, much less expensive.

I didn't have any of the special Masa flour on hand specifically for tamales, so I used the regular kind which I normally reserve for pupusas (which I also made tonight). It worked just fine, and we couldn't discern any sort of difference. The other might be slightly finer, or have a leavening agent, but I honestly could not tell. I'm pleased about this, because keeping two different types of Masa on hand is a drag.

I don't cook with lard (and that wouldn't be vegetarian anyway) so I used solid vegetable shortening to make the tamale dough. I flavoured the water with a veggie broth cube, but obviously if you have the real thing on hand, use that.

I used a different brand of corn husks this time, and much to my surprise found a dead, dried bee between the layers. They are a natural product, and stuff happens, but that does reinforce the point that you really need to rinse these things well. Bonus points for anyone that remembers what Humphrey Bogart movie had an old drunk asking:
"Was you ever bit by a dead bee?"

You can find my pupusa recipe HERE.
You can find the tamale making instructions HERE
and the recipe for the black bean filling is as follows:

1 lb dried black beans sorted, rinsed and soaked overnight before cooking
4 bay leaves
cooking oil
6 large carrots, diced
1 large onion, chopped
5-6 large cloves garlic, chopped
1 tin yellow hominy, drained, rinsed and soaked for 30 minutes in fresh water to remove more salt. Drain again before using.
Cooked beans
Reserved liquid plus water to total about a quart
Spice Mix:

4 tablespoons ground cumin
1 tablespoon powdered cocoa
4 tablespoons mild chili powder (use what you like-ancho, etc.)
2 teaspoons epazote
1 teaspoon dried, ground coriander
1 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes

In a large pot, cover the beans with water, add bay leaves and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cover about halfway. Cook several hours until very tender. Drain, reserving liquid.

In a large pot, cook the onions, carrots, and garlic in a generous glug of oil. Cook until the carrots are softening, but not soft. Stir in the spice mix and coat the vegetables well. Cook a few more minutes to let them absorb the spices. Add the beans, hominy, and about 21/2 cups of the reserved liquid. At this point, you start cooking the heck out of the beans. You'll want to keep an eye on them, as they can stick to the bottom of the pan as they cook down. As they do cook down, add more water/bean liquid and reduce again. You'll probably do this about three times, but you be the judge. Taste from time to time and add spices as needed, but go easy on the salt as I really think that is best adjusted at the end after it has reduced.

When you are satisfied with your beans, cool them and chill them while you soak your corn husks and make the masa.

You will have quite a bit of beans left, so serve some with pupusas and rice for a really knock-out meal.

Still Blind

I'm starting to discover I'm not as good a housekeeper as I thought, now that I have new glasses and can see dirt and dust better. Anyway, today, armed with my vacuum and new glasses I set about cleaning...until the Hoover became hard to push...and the house smelled like something...Oh my GOSH! Burning!

So I run the thing outside, flip it over and see smoke pouring out the bottom where there was a burning sock, I'd apparently overlooked whilst vacuuming with my brand new glasses.

But I can spot a cobweb at fifty yards.

Only Canadians...

...would knit summer clothes. Mohair. Yeah, I'm going to do that. Look, I'm anemic, but I'm not that anemic. I thought you guys are getting hot summers now thanks to all our greenhouse gasses.

There used to be this lady in the neighbourhood where I grew up that wore a parka in August and then, when she thought no one was looking, would open it up, sniff her armpits and close it again. She lived in a house with ten collies-so I'm not really sure how good her sniffer was...but...crud, where was I going with that thought? Oh yeah, dressing too warm for summer.

I mean, THESE are beautiful, but my skin is cringing and breaking out in heat rash at the thought of anything knit cotton or not, on my skin right now. They would however, be perfect for Midwestern Autumn, so if you knit slowly, you should be ready with your fancy new wrap dress by October. Or, my husband should be, because Mr. Eat the Blog is the knitter in this family-I crochet and sew.

I am kinda sorry to see shrugs have come back in style though...they always look like a cardigan someone forgot to finish. Now that I don't have shoulders anymore (I swear, they just disappeared around the time I turned forty, and now I just have these funny looking angular things that all my shirts slide off of) shrugs might work better for me-but they still look stupid.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

If You're Looking For the Other Blog...

Blogsome is having issues and my main blog has been down for over a day. They don't feel the need to explain it in the user forums. Anyway, just thought I let the four or five people here that read that one know what is going on.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Tofu With Yoghurt and Vegetables

I was going for something North African inspired, and the results were pretty good. Since Danny had the allergic reaction to (we think) the sesame, that has changed the way I treat tofu (usually with sesame oil and hoisan). I've used THIS recipe for cumin/yoghurt marinated tofu before and it worked well, but this time I took the idea and gave it a bit different treatment. Isn't that what cooking is about?

Make the tofu ahead and keep it chilled in the fridge to be tossed into the vegetables in the last few minutes of cooking. Or, cook it all at once if you're determined to wear yourself out cooking. Your call ;)

I served this dish over cous cous prepared with diced dried apricots and raisins.

You Will Need:

For the tofu:

1 block extra-firm tofu, rinsed and pressed free of as much water as possible
Olive oil
yoghurt (about a cup of plain)
ground cumin

Heat a small amount (a couple tablespoons) of olive oil in a cast iron pan or other heavy pan. Cube the tofu and fry it until it is golden on all sides. Remove to a bowl.

Mix about a cup of plain yoghurt with a glug of olive oil, some salt and a couple tablespoons of ground cumin (use your tastes as a guide). Coat the pieces well and let stand about five minutes. Re-heat the pan with a bit more oil and with a slotted spoon, remove the tofu letting excess liquid drain back in the bowl and fry over medium heat until the wetness has evaporated and the tofu chunks are somewhat browned on the outside. Remove to a plate and chill until needed to assemble the dinner.

For the vegetables:

4 large carrots, thinly sliced
1 bunch scallions, chopped
1 tablespoon preserved lemon rind, chopped
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup dried apricots, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 cup parsley, chopped
1 teaspoon mild chili powder (if I were making this for "grown-ups" I would have used more heat)
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary, crumbled
Salt and Pepper to taste
Peas, small pea pods and any other remnant from the garden lurking in your veggie bins (I had about a dozen pods to use)

Heat some olive oil ( a few tablespoons) in a large frying pan and cook everything until tender. I prefer my parsley a bit on the cooked side, but you can reserve some for sprinkling at the end if you like.

In the last few minutes of cooking, add the tofu and re-warm it through. Serve hot over cous cous with extra yoghurt if you like.

Blueberry Cottage Cheese Cake

I don't know what possessed me to make this, other than I had all the ingredients on hand and it sounded simple enough. It was-as long as you read through and do all the prep-work ahead. The custard sets up pretty quickly in an ice-water bath, so save yourself scrambling and bet the egg whites and whipped cream immediately after you take the custard off the heat. I actually did the whipped cream ahead.

This is so light and nice. Sometimes it is nice to make something without a crust, or complicated moulds. After an hour of chilling I was able to slice a piece for the photo and it held together beautifully. I expect to use the basic recipe again with other fruits. I can't think of a nicer Summer dessert.

It does contain uncooked egg white, so if that's a problem, or you can't trust the source of your eggs, you might want to skip it.

From The Women's Day Encyclopedia of Cookery, 1966

You Will Need:

1 tablespoon soft butter
4 cups blueberries, washed
2 envelopes unflavoured gelatin
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 egg, separated-egg white beaten stiffly
3/4 cup milk
1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
3 cups cottage cheese pressed through a sieve
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup heavy cream

Spread butter in a shallow 1 1/2 quart dish. Arrange 3 1/2 cups of the berries along the bottom and sides to create a shell.

In the top of a double boiler (like, duh. Would anyone use the bottom?) mix the gelatin, sugar and salt. Beat the egg into the milk and add. Whisk continually until gelatin dissolves-about 6 minutes. Remove from heat and beat in the lemon rind. Cool slightly. While it rests, make the whipped cream and beat the egg white until stiff.

When custard mixture has cooled, add cottage cheese, lemon juice and vanilla extract. Mix well. Fold in the beaten egg white and whipped cream. Pour into shell of blueberries and use remaining blueberries to decorate top. Chill well before serving. Will serve 8-10 people if the get here before I demolish it myself.

Looks Are Subjective

The wonderful Jenn of Musings From Baby Jail sent us a care package of books, syrups and a poster of the Canadian Prime Ministers (I requested that one).

So we put the poster up right away, at Danny's eye level and he was eager to start checking it out. A few minutes pass, and I'm doing other things when I hear Danny giggling.

"What's funny kiddo?" I asked.

Danny points to a photograph of Mackenzie Bowells and still laughing so hard he can barely speak, says:

"There's a rumbling in his bowels!"

Personally, I think literacy for four year olds is overrated, but I'm still pretty impressed he caught that and could formulate a joke. A lame joke, but a joke nonetheless.

Still looking at the poster, Danny asks me to read some of the other names that are harder to pronounce.

"Oh, and there's that handsome Pierre Trudeau." I said.
(Incredulous) "That guy? He's not handsome."
"Well, I thought he was, and so did a lot of other people..."
"He is not handsome. He's bald. Is it a bad photo?"

Somehow, I never imagined I'd be having this conversation with my little boy. I thought we'd be talking about sports, or comic books, or finger painting-not Pierre Trudeau's receding hairline.

"Now mama, he's a good looking guy" (pointing to Brian Mulroney).
"Your grandmother (my mother) used to call him "Tucchas Face."
"Like "tushie", from the Yiddish, but not a cute tushie, but a big, fat, blubbery tucchas face."
(It's true, she used to call him that, but he does have kind of a big head)
"Well I like his hair even if he has a tuc...tuch..tucch...butt face."

Thanks again Jenn for all the wonderful books and treats.

Monday, July 13, 2009

First Basil Pizza of the Season

So the fresh basil is growing, and here's what I did with it. You can see how out of practise I am-I forgot to wait until the end to scatter on the basil, and it baked to a crisp. Still good, but don't make my mistakes with your precious basil-add it in the last few minutes of baking.

The pizza has:

fresh basil
roasted garlic
Provolone cheese
Mozzarella cheese
Pepato cheese
Olive oil
thinly sliced boiled red potatoes

It smelled as good in here as you think it did.