Thursday, October 30, 2008
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
Who doesn't love cupcakes. There is just something intrinsically different about these tiny little cake wonders. I feel young when I eat a cupcake. Maybe it is their smallness, but does size really matter? It is like having your own little dessert that is not big enough that you have to share. Have you ever noticed how you can offer one to the biggest man hunk you know and suddenly he turns into a little boy again? They make people smile and I like that.
Here are a few of my friends/goblins that survived gobbling up my slightly ghoulish cupcakes at the party! And on a serious note, stay off those brooms, run from ghosts and goblins, eat, drink, be merry, and have a SAFE and HAPPY HALLOWEEN!
Thursday, October 23, 2008
My rule has always been to only cook recipes that had less than seven ingredients. I am so glad I broke the rule and made this one! Deb of Kahakai Kitchen chose this for our October challenge. Thanks Deb!
12 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks)
2 cups sliced yellow onions (2 onions)
1 fennel bulb, top and core removed, thinly sliced crosswise
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 1/2 cups good chicken stock
1 tablespoon Pernod
Pinch saffron threads
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons heavy cream1
1/2 cups large-diced potatoes (1/2 pound)
1 1/2 cups asparagus tips
1 1/2 cups peeled, 3/4-inch-diced carrots (4 carrots)
1 1/2 cups peeled, 3/4-inch-diced butternut squash
1 1/2 cups frozen small whole onions (1/2 pound)
1/2 cup minced flat-leaf parsley
For the pastry:3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup vegetable shortening
1/4 pound cold unsalted butter, diced
1/2 to 2/3 cup ice water1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water, for egg wash
Flaked sea salt and cracked black pepper
Melt the butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onions and fennel and saute until translucent, 10 to 15 minutes. Add the flour, reduce the heat to low, and cook for 3 more minutes, stirring occasionally. Slowly add the stock, Pernod, saffron, salt, and pepper, and bring to a boil. Simmer for 5 more minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the heavy cream and season to taste. The sauce should be highly seasoned.
Cook the potatoes in boiling salted water for 10 minutes. Lift out with a sieve. Add the asparagus, carrots, and squash to the pot and cook in the boiling water for 5 minutes. Drain well. Add the potatoes, mixed vegetables, onions, and parsley to the sauce and mix well.
For the pastry, mix the flour, salt, and baking powder in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Add the shortening and butter and mix quickly with your fingers until each piece is coated with flour. Pulse 10 times, or until the fat is the size of peas. With the motor running, add the ice water; process only enough to moisten the dough and have it just come together. Dump the dough out onto a floured board and knead quickly into a ball. Wrap the dough in plastic and allow it to rest in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Divide the filling equally among 4 ovenproof bowls. Divide the dough into quarters and roll each piece into an 8-inch circle. Brush the outside edges of each bowl with the egg wash, then place the dough on top. Trim the circle to 1/2-inch larger than the top of the bowl. Crimp the dough to fold over the sides, pressing it to make it stick. Brush the dough with egg wash and make 3 slits in the top. Sprinkle with sea salt and cracked pepper. Place on a baking sheet and bake for 1 hour, or until the top is golden brown and the filling is bubbling hot.
Finally, feeling kind of silly today. Here are some cute ghost jokes.
Q: When does a ghost have breakfast? A: In the moaning.
Q: What do ghosts drink at breakfast? A: Coffee with scream and sugar.
Q: What is a ghost's favourite dessert ? A: Boo-Berry pie with I-scream !
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
In early colonial times, pumpkins were used as an ingredient for the crust of pies, not the filling.
Pumpkins were once recommended for removing freckles and curing snake bites.
Colonists sliced off pumpkin tips; removed seeds and filled the insides with milk, spices and honey. This was baked in hot ashes and is the origin of pumpkin pie.
I am dedicating my blog this week to my sweet mom who passed away this year. She would have been 88 years old had she lived just three more days. This will be my first Thanksgiving and Christmas without her.
She grew up on a farm, the eldest daughter of eight children. She learned early in life to be content with little and yet she was the most generous person I have known. She learned to be a mom long before she married dad. I have two older brothers, but I was the baby and only girl so she spent a lot of time teaching me to cook and sew while the boys went hunting or fishing with dad. She was a formidable Rook player, sewed like Betsy Ross, crocheted, cut hair, kept the cleanest house on the block, and could make a bed as crisp as any soldier's bunk. She made beautiful quilts and afghans. She was the "June Cleaver" of moms.
Cooking was such a huge part of her life and thankfully I inherited her love for it. My early memories in the kitchen include the jobs she assigned to me while she prepared the family dinner. She had a way of making me feel as though my little jobs were the biggest, most important jobs of the entire dinner preparation. I got a lot of stirring experience. At five, it was stirring the sugar in the tea, then being promoted to stirring the egg and buttermilk into the cornbread around seven. I stayed right by her side (or maybe under her feet?) as she made cakes from scratch in her stand mixer, always showing me the right way to scrape the sides of the bowl, being cautious of the beaters (we didn't want any fingers to go missing). She helped me bake my first cake when I was around eleven. It was a birthday cake for my grandfather. I'm sure it was probably a disaster, but she seemed so proud of me and that cake.
She made biscuits every morning and cherished her bacon and eggs. One of my best food memories was her old-fashioned chicken and dumplings. She cooked such huge quantities of food we often joked with her about when the army was expected to arrive. Our family seemed to be built on the wonderful meals we shared together and there was always dessert. I think everyone's favorite was her teacakes which were stacked high on our plate with drizzled chocolate sauce on top.
Thanksgiving and Christmas were her favorite times of the year because she was able to show off her culinary talents. Cornbread dressing was her specialty. I will try and re-create her recipe this year, but mine will lack her secret ingredient - the love she tucked inside. There were always pumpkin and mincemeat pies at Thanksgiving, and red velvet and fresh coconut cakes at Christmas. One week before she passed away, she insisted on having a family get together and wanted to cook the entire meal herself. It was quite an undertaking for someone her age who tired easily, not to mention she had pneumonia at the time (which we would find out the next day), but she managed to pull it off. The dessert for that evening was her famous chocolate pie which she referred to as her "water pie" because it contained no milk. This was one of the last photos taken of her.
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
And now, a little history lesson. I know that in Italy the term biscotti refers to any type of cookie. But here in the South, we use the term to describe the tasteful, long, dry, hard, twice-baked cookie that is dipped in something. In Italy, you might dip them in a glass of wine, but in the South, usually coffee is the choice. Though I might dip them in my wine the next time I have a glass. I love to dip bread in wine, so it makes good sense to me to dip my biscotti also. I know you were just all dying to hear that juicy tidbit.
I found this fun fact on the internet: Columbus was one of the first to use biscotti as a ration on board his sailing vessels. Because of their long storage ability, they were an ideal food for sailors, soldiers, and fisherman. This weekend started the dreaded remodeling of the kitchen. My entire house is a wreck. So. . . much of my challenge this week was trying to work in a cluttered area with hubster on his hands and knees re-tiling our floor. I had to literally step over him every time I went from the sink to the stove! For those of you who know what a perfectionist I am, you know I will probably go nuts from the disorder of the construction zone! I have furniture in places I never knew I could put furniture. I'm trying my best to adapt. My kitchen table is in the corner of my living room. We are sort of liking that. You know how excited you get when you go to a crowded restaurant and it just so happens the hostess sits you in a quiet corner and inside you are silently yelling YES, thank you! The hubster is now calling it our eat-in living room. This morning for breakfast he said, "Shall we dine outside on the patio or in the eat-in living room?" Yep, he keeps me laughing.
Friday, October 10, 2008
Thursday, October 9, 2008
Tuesday, October 7, 2008
Apparently, God did not intend for me to make caramel in this lifetime. Started making the caramel and that's when the real trouble began. I had several things going on in the kitchen at once. I had the caramel on the stove and it was cooking very nicely all by itself. It was taking a while to turn amber however. So I turned my back just for like two minutes to the sink to put a pan in to soak, and hubs yelled and said, whoa this stuff is turning brown! By the time I stepped the three feet back to the stove, there was a horrible burnt smell coming from my precious caramel. I was so disappointed. I left it in the pan while I finished cooking my dinner and then the caramel had hardened in my pan and I thought I would never be able to dig all that hard gunk out! A soak in the sink worked pretty well though.
If at first you don't succeed, start over! New pan and new ingredients. This time I watched the caramel boil in the pan for over ten minutes and it never turned amber. Since I was gun shy this time, I probably took it off the stove a bit soon. It tasted delicious right after making it, but a day later it looks like it turned back to sugar. Next time, I think I'll depend on dear old Kraft caramels to bail me out.
I did give it to my BFF, but the cake itself was just not good. Thank goodness I had card and gifts in hand as well. The cake was dry and the caramel too sugary. I wanted to love this cake so much, that I am going to try it again and again and again until I get it right! Happy Birthday to friend. You deserve so much better!Hear ye, hear ye. Newsflash! Hubs and I have decided to re-do a bit of our kitchen in order to gain more countertop. So here's the drill. I need your help in choosing the granite for my countertops. I have bisque colored cabinets and taupe tiled backsplash and taupe floors. I have black accents. So I'm thinking black countertops for drama, right? Then I see this slab of a sort of chocolate color at the granite store with black flecks in it and I thought, hmmm. . . .maybe this would be better than the black. Let me know what you think. Here are my samples. The first is Ubatuba and the second is Tropic Taz.