February 28, 2007
Who knew bread pudding was edible? Up until a couple days ago, I was convinced that it wasn’t. The name doesn’t sound all that appealing, it’s never looked very good and all of the ones I’ve tasted have had something seriously wrong with them. Some have been mushy and wet, others have been dry and tasteless and overtly bread-like. Like all foods though, I tried to like bread pudding. I once went out on a limb and ordered bread pudding in a restaurant. It was listed on the menu as being served with a rum sauce. I figured anything with a rum sauce had to be good. I was wrong. Then again, I had problems with every element of my meal that night, so it should have come as no surprise that dessert wouldn’t be good either. I’m not one to give up easily though, my roommate and I made bread pudding back in university but it was awful too. Although it was also made in a dish that was cursed, so that could have been part of the problem. Every meal we tried to make in that dish turned out absolutely repulsive. I vaguely remember some sort of sweetened vermicelli… ugh, just the thought of it makes my stomach churn. I think the dish eventually got thrown out because it was deemed that nothing good could come from it. Despite my bad experiences with bread pudding, I’ve heard my Mom talk about my Grandma’s bread pudding for years, always saying how good it was. That didn’t convince me that I needed to make it. Recently I’ve seen bread pudding popping up all over the blogs, and it looked kinda good... I still wasn’t convinced, but I was starting to cave in, and after a few more bread pudding sightings I decided to give it another go. But if I was going to make bread pudding, it had better be a good one, so I turned to my favourite book, from the author who has never let me down. If anyone can convince me that bread pudding is good, it would have to be Dorie Greenspan.
And convince me she did! I made a few changes to Dorie’s original recipe for Apple-Apple Bread Pudding and changed it into an Apple-Cherry Bread Pudding. I also downsized it because I wanted to use my brand new and very pretty Paderno baking dish that I bought on sale at a factory outlet. I love new things! I found that I can love bread pudding too! It won’t replace chocolate or cheesecake or ice cream as one of my favourites, but it’s not bad either. Actually, I’m looking forward to trying Dorie’s Four Star Chocolate Bread Pudding next. It’s the best of both worlds! I’m starting to suspect that Dorie could tell me that dirt was tasty and if she made it, it would be…
Mom is thrilled to hear that I’ve embraced bread pudding and that I’ll be making it again, even if mine doesn’t resemble Grandma’s in the slightest. Of course, when Grandma made bread pudding it was to feed a family of 12, and in an effort to save money, raisins were the only adornment. As far as I’m concerned, if Grandma can make plain bread pudding so good that her children are still talking about it long after they’ve had their last bite, she’s some sort of superwoman. But there was really never any doubt about that.
You never know what you’ll find here next, one week it’s bacon, the next it’s bread pudding. If you feel like making any suggestions, I’ll probably make that too!
Apple Cherry Bread Pudding (Adapted from Dorie Greenspan’s Apple-Apple Bread Pudding)
For the caramelized apples:
2 medium fuji apples
2 T unsalted butter
2 T sugar
A combination of homemade dinner rolls and cream puffs, (both stale) torn into pieces
A generous ½ cup of cherry jam
1 ½ cups milk
½ cup half and half
2 oz cream cheese, room temp
2 egg yolks
1/3 cup sugar, (generous)
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
Extra sugar and jam for topping
Butter a 7x7 baking dish, dust the inside with sugar and tap out the excess. Line a larger roasting pan with a double thickness of paper towels.
Peel and slice the apples. Put a large skillet, (preferably nonstick) over medium high heat, add the butter and when it melts, sprinkle the sugar on top. Cook the butter and sugar until it caramelizes. Add the apples and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, for 3-5 minutes, until the apples are tender but not soft. Transfer the apples and liquid to a plate and reserve.
Throw half of the bread pieces into the baking dish and top with the cherry jam. Spoon the apples and their liquid over the jam and then cover them up with the remaining bread.
Combine the milk, half and half and cream cheese and blend with an immersion blender. Put it on the stove and bring to a simmer.
Put a teakettle on to boil. In the meantime, in a medium bowl, whisk the egg, yolks and sugar together. Still whisking, slowly drizzle in the hot milk mixture, continue to whisk and slowly pour in the remaining milk. Add the vanilla and whisk to blend. Pour the custard over the bread and press the bread gently with the back of a spoon to help it absorb the liquid. Leave the pan on the counter, pressing the mixture with a spoon every now and then, for 30 minutes. Just before putting it in the oven, sprinkle sugar on top.
Centre a rack in the oven and preheat to 325F.
Put the baking pan in the roasting pan, slide it into the oven and then pour enough hot water into the roasting pan to come halfway up the sides of the pudding pan. Bake the pudding for about 55min or until a thing knife inserted deep into the centre comes out clean. Transfer the baking pan to a rack and cool at least 20 minutes before serving.
I also glazed the top with a mixture of cherry jam, heated with some water so that it liquefied.
Dorie Greenspan + Bread Pudding + Apple + Cherry
February 27, 2007
Adam of Amateur Gourmet is hosting a Blue Food contest. The contest was born after he happened upon this site which says that "blue is an appetite suppressant. Weight loss plans suggest putting your food on a blue plate. Or even better than that, put a blue light in your refrigerator and watch your munchies disappear." The challenge is therefore to make a delicious dish on the theme of "blue food." The food doesn’t necessarily have to be blue, just as long as it expresses the theme, (therefore blue plates, tablecloth, etc. are all valid).
Blue happens to be my favourite colour, so I think this whole “colour affects our appetite” thing is hooey! Apparently blue is supposed to suppress appetite because it’s not a natural food colour and so our ancestors learned to avoid blue, purple and black things as they were most likely toxic. Well times have changed. The only blue foods I avoid are those that are moldy, and even then, not always. Take blue cheese for example, it’s essentially mold, and it’s delicious. And blueberries? The more the merrier. If you want to get into genetically modified foods, I’m sure you could come up with all sorts of blue vegetables. Or why not add a drop or two of food colouring to a dish to turn it blue? In my case, it would only serve to make it more attractive. Yes, my love of the colour blue runs quite deep.
After seeing my blue concoctions, I don’t know how you could argue that blue isn’t appetizing. And if you try to, then I’m going to label you one of those sissies who never wants to try new foods, new music, new hobbies, new anything! You’re boring! Nobody likes that. So embrace blue food, it’s good for you! And if not, at least it looks cool. Just look at that slice of berry pie! It’s bursting with blueberries and wonderful blue flavour, all on a lovely blue plate. Or what about that blueberry drink? You know there’s alcohol in there! How could you refuse? While we’re on the breakfast theme, what about blue oatmeal? It’s topped with some wonderful candied nuts and drizzled with maple syrup. That’s not the work of Photoshop either, I actually turned my oatmeal blue, and I’ll tell you, it sure livened up my morning.
The ancient Egyptians used lapis lazuli to represent heaven, and I’m with them. As far as I’m concerned blue is wonderful in every possible way, be it in your food or otherwise.
February 26, 2007
Jihva for Ingredients is being hosted this month by Happy Burp. Jihvā is the Sanskrit word for taste, desire and deep longing. Italso represents tongue and taste buds. Jihvā for Ingredients was started by Indira of Mahanandi who believes that for Jihvā to happen, it’s all in the ingredients and how they are cooked. Each month a new ingredient is selected and that ingredient is celebrated as well as what it can do for our Jihvā. This month the ingredient is potatoes.
I wasn’t sure how I was going to highlight potatoes until I saw this article on Slashfood about making potato chips in the microwave. I was somewhat skeptical, but thought I should try it so that I could prove them wrong. If you could make chips in the microwave, I should have known about it. Well after a little testing it has become clear to me that someone forgot to send me the memo that chips were so easy to make. I discovered this by following the Slashfood link to Nic’s blog, Bakingsheet to see how she made her chips as she claimed they were quite good. It was super easy too, all you do is slice your potato, salt it, lay the slices in a single layer on a dish and microwave for about 4-6 minutes. Presto- chips! As an added bonus you can flavour the chips any way you’d like. Or at least with whatever spices you’d like, I’ll have to experiment with some other flavours to see what works and what doesn’t.
Eventually I’d like to recreate my favourite chips, Kettle Brand Chips’ Spicy
February 25, 2007
Rachel of Rachel’s Bite is hosting the second round of Leftover Tuesdays, which was started by David of Cooking Chat. For the first round I had wanted to figure out something to make with leftover risotto, because it’s really only good right after it’s made. The problem was, I ended up not having any leftovers and made quesadillas with leftover chicken instead. As a bonus though, I received many suggestions about what to do with risotto leftovers, should I ever have any in the future. A couple people suggested making arancini, (meaning little oranges) with my leftovers and that sounded like reason enough to make risotto. I had previously never heard of arancini, (I live such a sheltered life) but it sounded delicious. Here’s what you do: Take a chunk of your leftover risotto, make a patty, place a piece of buffalo mozzarella in the middle and then cover it up and roll your patty into a ball. Then take your ball and roll it in flour, dip it in egg, roll it in bread crumbs and deep fry it. Everything sounded so easy until I got to the deep frying part. Hot oil is just as scary to me as hot sugar. I don’t use it because I’m never very confident with it. I love what is produced when things are dropped in hot oil, (mmm deep fried…) but it scares me so I let other people do it. One day I’ll get over this, but it wasn’t going to be for making my arancini. Instead, I heated a little bit of oil in a pan and lightly pan fried my risotto balls with no scary splatter or crackling, popping hot oil sounds. Next time you make risotto, make sure you save some to make these little balls of goodness. The cheese in the middle gets warm and gooey and the bread crumbs on the outside makes a nice crispy crust, it’s wonderful. Leftovers should always be this good.
On a completely unrelated topic, my meat grinder and sausage stuffer attachments for my Kitchenaid arrived this week. I had already bookmarked the sage and ginger sausage from Charcuterie and I decided to add cranberries to the mix too. Allow me to digress for a second- I had received a comment about my bacon post saying that I should be giving more credit to Brian Polcyn as he provides the recipes in Charcuterie. Credit is definitely due to Brian Polcyn as well but the reason I have been praising Michael Ruhlman is that I've read 4 of his other books before getting Charcuterie and if I hadn't, I probably never would have picked up a book like that. I really enjoy Ruhlman's writing style and it was his books that encouraged me to start making things like bacon, and now, sausage! As I started gathering ingredients, (at about 9pm, why start things early?) I realized I didn’t have any sage. Or did I?... There was sage planted in the garden this past summer and I was pretty sure it was still there, but the garden was covered in over three feet of snow, and it was dark out. That’s only a problem if you’re a wuss. I’d like to believe that I’m not, (please ignore the fact that I’m scared of hot oil and sugar). So I pulled on some snowpants and really big boots and armed myself with a flashlight and a shovel. Sausage waits for nothing! Off I trudged to the garden and then started digging in the spot that I thought the sage should be. It took a little searching, but I found it. The snow was up to my thighs and the wind was howling but I stayed out there until I gathered enough sage to flavour my sausage. It was worth it. There are no pictures to show for that one yet, but they’re coming. I enjoyed sausage on a bun with Mom’s relish for lunch today and I can definitely say it’s one of the best sausages I’ve ever eaten. Go buy Charcuterie, it’s amazing!
February 22, 2007
With a name like Chocolate Intensity Cake, it had better be good and this cake certainly lived up to the expectations. It’s rich and chocolaty with a subtle coffee flavour, which I enjoyed. I don’t actually drink coffee, but I like coffee flavoured desserts. Go figure. The only drawback about this cake was the whole brown on brown look. Brown just doesn’t photograph very well, so I thought I’d add some pizzazz with a raspberry coulee. The coulee itself was simple to make, (thanks Dorie) but the photographing was another story. For some reason red turned out to be harder to photograph than brown and I have no idea why. I kept getting a garish shade of red that didn’t reflect the lovely raspberry colour I saw before me. I guess until I learn how to be a better photographer, that’s what Photoshop is for…
I don’t know what else you can say about a flourless chocolate cake, they’re full of ooey gooey goodness and aren’t hard to make either. I suppose I should tell you that the reason I made this cake was because it was the monthly venture for… uh, I’m not sure if we have a name yet… it might be the Daring Bakers, but it could also be Team Tasty, or possibly something completely different. Whatever you want to call us, there are 10 bloggers who made this cake and who are posting about it today. You can see the other results, (maybe not yet, but sometime today) here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here.
Next month will be a new project, although I have no idea yet what that will be, our decision making process is somewhat slow. In the meantime, I’ve got a question for you and am open to any answer you’d like to give me. Since baking/cooking is not a viable source of income for me what should I be doing to earn a living and survive happily? I haven’t figured it out yet, but maybe you have, so enlighten me, please. As always, if you’d like to be my life sponsor, I would be ok with that, (and I would bake you cake!).
February 21, 2007
I like muffins, they’re sneaky little devils. A lot of people have the notion that muffins are healthy. I’m here to tell you that for the most part, muffins are simply undercover cupcakes. The secret is out! Of course, it is actually possible to make a muffin that is more appropriate for breakfast than dessert. Not putting 5 bars of chocolate and 3 sticks of butter into them is a good start. But if you want to do that and call it a muffin, that’s okay too, whatever makes you happy. SqPixels of Experiments wants to see what you call a muffin and has therefore started a new event called Muffin Monday. She provides you with a basic muffin recipe which you can alter to include different flavours and add-ins, but if you want to post a family favourite or make up your own recipe altogether, by all means, go ahead. I like muffins so much that I made three different kinds; Coconut Coffee muffins, Citrus Sunshine muffins and Dried Fruit muffins, (pictures are in that order).
The Dried Fruit muffins were up first, I took the basic recipe and changed it to suit what I had on hand. I promptly lost the sheet of paper I wrote the changes on, but it included the addition of dried cherries, apricots, prunes and candied ginger. There may have been some oatmeal in there too, or possibly bran. I don’t know, it was last week, my memory’s not so good. I do recall that the muffins were fairly edible, tasty even! The second batch of muffins came from Dorie Greenspan. It’s hard for me to bake without making a Dorie recipe. I know I’m guaranteed success with them, even if I’ve never made it before. I’ve found that I don’t even feel the need to alter Dorie’s recipes, and that’s rare for me, I’m always changing things. I made Citrus Currant Sunshine muffins, exactly as they’re written on page 7, except I used frozen currants instead of dried ones. As usual, these muffins delivered excellent results, and who doesn’t love a muffin that’s reminiscent of sunshine? Especially in the middle of winter.
I was going to stop there, but then for some reason, I felt the need to bake more muffins today. Why resist the urge? A had a few flavour ideas floating around in my otherwise empty head; coffee, coconut and pecans. But I didn’t have a recipe that contains those flavours. I also didn’t have any pecans. I found a recipe online for coconut and coffee muffins, but I changed it quite a bit to arrive at my final product. At what point does a recipe become your own as opposed to an adaptation of someone else’s? Beats me. Anyways, I had some specialty coconut coffee in the cupboard so that added an extra coconut element to the muffins. I also opted to make these muffins slightly less cupcake-like, and dare I say it… healthier? That’s not something you usually get too much of here, and in less than a week I’ve posted a recipe that substitutes tofu for cream and now healthy muffins. What is the world coming to? I used applesauce in place of some of the fat, there’s no oil, I decreased the amount of sugar, (buuwaaah???) substituted some whole wheat flour for all purpose and added prunes. Whoa. The addition of prunes was actually inspired by Dorie. After making her Armagnac Chocolate Cake, which contains prunes, I’ve been eating a lot more of them. They’re really good and they add great texture to baked goodies, let’s bring the prune back into style!
Coffee-Coconut Muffins Recipe (Adapted from Anne’s Recipes)
Makes 12 muffins
¼ cup margarine
¼ cup applesauce
¼ cup sugar
½ cup packed light brown sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
¾ cup whole wheat flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup brewed coconut coffee, strong
1/3 cup milk, warmed
2 tsp vanilla extract
½ cup dried prunes, chopped
3/4 cup dried sweetened coconut
Grease and flour 12 muffin cups, or use paper liners. Use a large electric mixer bowl, cream the margarine, applesauce, sugar and brown sugar until very light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time. Sift the flour, baking powder and salt. Combine the coffee, milk, and chopped prunes, let steep 5 min. Add in the vanilla. Alternately stir the coffee mixture and the flour mixture into the margarine mixture. Stir in the coconut. Divide the batter among the 12 muffin cups. Bake in a preheated 375-degree oven for 10 min, rotate and bake another 7-9 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 5 minutes on rack and remove from muffin tins.
February 20, 2007
Giving things a french name makes them sound fancier. It's a well known fact. Why do I have a need for a fancy name? It’s time for Paper Chef #24, hosted by Owen of Tomatilla!. It’s a fun event, kind of like an online Iron Chef… but with more time… and no tasting by the judges… and no Alton Brown… and four secret ingredients instead of one… and a theme… and you have a weekend to complete your dish or dishes… and, um, it’s completely different. Paper Chef has also been divided into Home and Haute categories, as some of us are not quite as talented as we’d like to be… I enter the Home category. For the last Paper Chef, the secret ingredients were: Vermouth (interpreted as any fortified wine or herb-influenced liquor), Cranberries, Sparkling drink (of any kind) and Something Wild, (interpreted however you like, could be wild in nature, could be zany-wild). I went a little nuts with this one and prepared a full 3 course meal plus a drink. But I won, so maybe that was the route to go, (or maybe I had a 50/50 chance because there was only one other competitor in the Home category, whatever). I had more time for that competition though because it was actually extended for an entire week instead of a weekend. This edition was prolonged as well, the ingredients were announced Friday and entries had to be in by noon Wednesday. Theoretically that’s lots of time. But because I thought I had lots of time, I didn’t think about it Friday or Saturday, and then I was away Sunday, Monday and most of today. So much for having lots of time… Multiple courses would not be a factor for me this time around, one dish was all I was up for. It’s a pretty decent one though. The secret ingredients for Paper Chef #24 were announced as rice, prosciutto, coffee and chilis, with a theme of “Peas/Peace in the
I’m choosing to interpret the theme rather broadly. I’m going to say that cooking this meal and eating it with whoever you are feuding with, would bring peace. Food brings peace. This meal brings peace.
Coffee & Chili Dry Rub
¼ cup Kosher salt
¼ cup Brown sugar
2 T Ancho chili powder
2 small birds eye chilis
2 T Finely ground coffee
3 finely chopped garlic cloves
Freshly ground pepper
February 19, 2007
Cold weather is perfect for soup so when Alanna of A Veggie Venture announced that this month was soup month, I was game. For a while I had been making soup about once a week but somehow got out of the habit. Now was a good time to bring soup back. I found a recipe that was a light version of Potato Leek soup and used tofu to thicken it instead of cream. That sounded good, but tofu is kind of wussy. My soup was definitely not going to be wussy so I added some of my homemade bacon. Bacon makes everything better! So does cheese, so I added some sharp cheddar. So much for light...
Since my first soup was such a success I thought I’d go ahead and make another one. I’ve been having a lot of luck stealing, er, I mean spreading some love by highlighting other bloggers’ recipes so why not try another? I basically want to make everything I see over at Habeas Brulee. Danielle takes beautiful photos and all of her recipes sound delicious. One that had caught my eye was a Crypto-Jewish Brazilian Yellow Stew. Even the name sounds intriguing, and this stew/soup doesn’t disappoint. It’s a little bit spicy, a little bit sweet and a whole lot of tasty. I didn’t change anything except for substituting venison for the beef, and putting the pot in the oven as opposed to on the stove top. This was a definite winner.
Don’t get me wrong, I was happy to make and eat soup, but oringinally this was supposed to be a post about a beautiful layered maple cake for Sugar High Friday #28. Then that siren Nigella ruined it. I’ve tried to like her, I really have. Some very reliable people have encouraged me to give her a chance. But it has been one disaster after another for Nigella and I. And now she’s gone TOO far. Ruining SHF is unacceptable. How dare she?! The theme for this month’s Sugar High Friday, hosted by Jasmine of Confessions of a Cardamom Addict was sweet seduction and as usual, it was open to interpretation. I started to think of what I could make; chocolate was an obvious answer, since Valentine’s Day just passed heart shapes are big, maybe something with cherries… No, none of that was right. As I flipped through a stack of cookbooks, looking for some inspiration, I came across an “Autumn Birthday Cake” by Nigella “no one can be a Domestic Goddess but me” Lawson. I had seen this cake numerous times before, but had never really looking at the ingredients. For some reason the name didn’t appeal to me so I had never considered making it. This time I actually read the recipe and was surprised to find that there was a whole lot of maple syrup involved in this cake. It was at that point that I decided my theme for SHF would be a Canadian seduction. You’d be crazy not to be seduced by
I set to work making the cake, with cake flour as the recipe said, and then popped it into the oven. When the buzzer went I took the cake pans out of the oven, which was difficult because they were like bricks. It was the most dense cake I’ve ever seen, brownies are not even this dense. Before putting the cake into the oven I had the sense that something was missing, but put it out of my mind. When it came out as heavy as it did, I reread the recipe only to discover that Nigella had specified “self rising cake flour”. Who has that?? I had mistakenly read cake flour, minus the self rising. So I was frustrated with both myself and Nigella and I still didn’t have anything for SHF or the dinner I was attending that night. Since the failure of the maple syrup cake was partially my fault, I decided to give Nigella yet another chance, this time with her Coconut Layer Cake. At this point the whole Canadian Seduction thing was out the window, I just wanted a pretty cake. When I took this one out of the oven it was definitely lighter than the last one, but it still didn’t rise very high at all and wouldn’t make for a very impressive cake. It looked pretty pathetic and I wanted to throw both cakes into the snow.
As I stood in my kitchen trying to figure out what to do with two failed cakes, I broke a piece off of the maple brick cake and popped it in my mouth. The flavour was really good, but the texture was all wrong. To lighten up the denseness, I decided to cut one of the maple layers in half horizontally and put it in between the two coconut cake layers. Things were looking up. I separated the layers with coconut whipped cream, (not Nigella’s suggestion, I was through giving her anymore chances) and sprinkled some coconut and made a little decoration out of 5 candied pecans. There were supposed to be more pecans, but I ate them. I had used Dorie’s recipe to make candied nuts and they turned out fantastic. Of course they did, it was a Dorie recipe, she’s always reliable, I should never have strayed from Baking: From My Home to Yours. Anyways, I was so annoyed with the whole cake production that I refused to take a picture even though the final product actually looked quite nice. I didn't even taste it. This cake was the ultimate mood killer, it didn't have a trace of seduction. You can click over to Jasmine's for a round up of the seductive sweets that other people dreamt up, I’m sure they were less anger inducing.
Potato, Leek and Bacon Soup (Adapted from Cooking Light)
5 thick slices bacon, chopped
6 cups thinly sliced leek (about 3 large)
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup white wine
1 cup chicken stock
Heat a pot over medium-high heat. Add bacon and give it a little stir until it’s fully cooked. Remove the bacon and all but 1 tablespoon of grease. Add leeks, and sauté 5 minutes. Reduce heat to medium; add potato, spices and bay leaf. Cook 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add water, wine and stock and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 20 minutes. Discard bay leaf.
Combine 3-4 cups potato mixture, cheddar and tofu in a blender or food processor, and process until smooth. Return the puréed potato mixture to pan, along with the bacon. Cook for 5 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Add some pepper and salt if necessary.
February 18, 2007
February 16, 2007
This post could alternatively be title: An Ode to Charcuterie and Michael Ruhlman. What you see above is a picture of THE BEST blt sandwich I have ever had in my life. It’s made on my homemade bread, but most importantly, with my homemade bacon! There are some things that I’ve just never even considered making and bacon used to be on that list, but not anymore. Thanks to that genius Ruhlman, I’ve now made bacon, cured salmon, corned beef and made chorizo sausage. I’ve even ordered a sausage stuffer attachment for my beloved Kitchenaid. There’s no stopping me! I can’t even begin to describe to you the difference between that stuff you buy in the grocery that they try to call bacon and what you can make at home. And when you make your own bacon you can customize the flavour so that it’s just the way you like it, in my case, with a hint of maple syrup. In honour of bacon and Ruhlman, I’ve re-written a little ditty that I’m sure is familiar to all of you. If you need a refresher, just have a look at the following video and then add my lyrics to the tune.
An Ode to Bacon (and Ruhlman)
I made it in my kitchen
Somehow I made it through
Didn't know how lost I was
Until I made you
It was neat, can’t be beat
Made with ease, I was pleased and knew
That I made it real
Yeah, I made it real
Easy to do
Made some bacon
Made it for the very first time
Made some ba-a-a-acon
It’s the best meat
Oh so fine
Gonna give you all my time, boy
My fear is fading fast
Didn’t know that it was true
When it’s cured it lasts
You're so fine and you're mine
Your so good, that you make me cry
How your taste came out
Yeah, your taste came out
Go give it a try!
Make some bacon
Make it for the very first time
Make some ba-a-a-acon
It’s the best meat
Oh so fiiiiiiiine
Oooh, oooh, oooh
Oooh, oooh, oooh, aaaah
Oooh, oooh, oooh
That’s not all and there’s more
I made what, you can buy in stores
I can now smoke meat
And it’s great to eat
‘Specially when fried
Made some bacon
Made it for the very first time
Made some ba-a-a-acon
It’s the best meat
Oh so fine
Made some bacon, ooh, ooh
Made some bacon
Tastes so good inside
When I make it, and you taste it, and you love me
Oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh
Can't you taste that bacon
For the very first time?
If anyone happens to be musically inclined, feel free to record this song, you know you want to...
Bacon’s not just for breakfast either, it enhances ANY dish that it’s added to, like pizza. The pizza you see is topped not only with bacon, but also caramelized onions, garlic, my own smoked salmon and has cheese baked into the homemade crust. Upcoming posts will see me adding bacon to potato and cheddar soup, roasts, sandwiches and a multitude of other meals. You can’t go wrong with bacon, or Charcuterie. I have also been loving putting smoked salmon in everything.
It’s especially great in salads and I think it goes without saying that smoked salmon and cream cheese on a bagel is delicious. As for the chorizo sausage, since I don’t yet have my sausage stuffer attachment, I just made it into free form patties which I threw in the freezer to pull out as a flavour enhancer to any soup, stew or sauce. Don’t you worry though, I’ve used chorizo as more than just a background flavour, it’s played a starring role in a breakfast pita with eggs and cheese. Unfortunately, I have no pictures to show you of the corned beef I made, but I had a great cabbage and corned beef supper, followed the next day by a corned beef sandwich. The following is my artistic rendition of what my corned beef sandwich sort of looked like.
February 14, 2007
I’m in love! Did Valentine’s Day change my mind? Of course not, don’t be ridiculous! My K-Tec Blender was delivered to my door this morning and it’s a 3 horsepower machine of awesomeness! You can do anything with a K-Tec! I’ve already made juice, alfredo sauce, cream puffs and chocolate mousse. And that’s only the tip of the iceberg of what this baby can do. Someone asked me why I needed a blender with a 3 horsepower motor. My response was to ask them why wouldn’t I need a blender with a 3 horsepower motor? Seriously. Regular blenders can’t hold a candle to the power of the K-Tec. You can throw whole fruits and vegetables into this thing and it blends them smooth without batting an eye. My first test with the K-Tec was juice making. I put an orange, banana, half a mango, some grapes and strawberries into the carafe, hit the whole juice button and 50 seconds later it was blended smooth. A-mazing! I didn’t even have to add any liquid. And the fact that the strawberries were frozen didn’t matter either. I’ll be making all sorts of juices now. I see pineapple juice as tomorrow’s project, thanks to Dad. Mom got flowers for Valentine’s Day, I got a pineapple. I think I got the better deal.
My love affair with the Blend Tec originally began as a longing for a Vita-mix blender. I saw it about a year ago at a food show. I was in awe as I saw ice cream and soup made right before my very eyes in a matter of minutes, all in the blender. In my mind, the Vita-mix was gold! Then I found out that there existed a blender even more powerful: the Blend Tec. I guess my love of the Vita-mix didn’t really run that deep because I was quickly convinced that I needed a K-Tec. Every time I tried to blend anything in my sub par, run of the mill, no name blender, I yearned for the day that I would be able to blend with ease. Is it too much to ask for ice to be blended without the smell of a smoke and a burning motor? The Blend Tec doesn’t think so. I can now make smoothies, juice, fondue, soup, ice cream, dough… the possibilities are endless! And all in a matter of minutes, it’s just that easy.
Tonight’s dinner, dessert and drinks were all courtesy of the Blend Tec. I decided to make stuffed chicken and to serve it over bowtie pasta with alfredo sauce. The alfredo sauce was made in seconds in the blender and then I just poured it over the pasta and mixed it together. For the chicken, I pounded it flat, filled it with a mixture of spinach steamed in white wine, garlic and peppercorn crusted goats cheese and then baked it. I also made dessert in the blender. First the batter for the cream puffs, which I then baked in mini muffin tins. And instead of the regular cream puff filling, I made a chocolate mousse which was done in seconds as well. I assembled dessert by cutting the cream puffs in two, filling them with mousse and drizzling Baileys over top of everything. As much as I’d like to take credit for this meal, the Blend Tec was the real hero.
Alfredo Sauce by Blend Tec
1 1/3 cup milk
1 clove garlic
1 T flour
2 T cream cheese
¾ cup grated parmesan cheese
1 ½ T butter
Put all ingredients in the jar and press the Soups button. (Yeah, that’s right, there’s a button for soup, the sauce comes out hot and everything.)
February 13, 2007
How could anyone ever fire Dorie Greenspan? But thank goodness they did because otherwise who knows whether or not we’d have all of her wonderful creations, like this Chocolate Armagnac Cake for example. In the words of Dorie herself, this is the cake that got her fired. She was working in her first professional restaurant and became bored of making the same chocolate cake with raisins soaked in whiskey. One day she switched the raisins and whiskey for prunes and armagnac. Her boss wasn’t happy with the change and fired her. On the upside, she got to keep the cake recipe and I for one, couldn’t be happier. Unfortunately, I underbaked the cake. It was still really tasty, it just didn’t quite have the texture I thought it should have. This easily could have been avoided if I had of stuck a toothpick in the cake to check its doneness. Instead I just yanked it out of the oven and prematurely tried to unmold it. I very quickly discovered that the interior of the cake was still quite wet. Dorie’s instructions are clear that the cake should not still be wet in the middle when you remove it from the oven. I read that key bit of information after the fact. I really have to learn to read recipes better.
At first I was surprised to see that there were prunes in this cake. For one reason or another, prunes generally seem old fashioned, almost geriatric. They’ve got none of the flash of dried cherries or the pizzazz of crystallized ginger. You might think that there’s no place for prunes in a chocolate cake. But they’re chopped into bits and then flamed in armagnac so don’t even try to tell me you wouldn’t like it. I’d be willing to bet that if I didn’t tell you, you wouldn’t know there were prunes in the cake. You would taste chocolate and armagnac and something else, something a little chewy with excellent texture. But what could it be? Certainly not prunes! But if you thought that, you’d be wrong, because it is indeed prunes and they’re perfect. I also really liked the glaze on this cake. It’s nothing flashy but it has a nice shine and drizzles like it means business. I did absolutely nothing to change Dorie’s cake, so if you’re wondering where the recipe is, the answer would be “on page 279 of Baking: From My Home to Yours.”
If you’re into that whole Valentine’s Day thing, I suppose this would be a cake worthy of the occasion. It’s got everything you need- chocolate and booze. Personally, I think it’s better not to taint this cake by associating it with Valentine’s day, but the choice is ultimately yours. But I guess if you did make the cake and then things didn’t go as well as you planned with your date, then you’d have this wonderful cake all to yourself. That’s reason enough to hope that your date’s a dud. So go ahead and let your friend set you up with “the perfect guy” that nobody else wants, just make sure you’ve got your Chocolate Armagnac cake made ahead of time for when you get home early.
February 12, 2007
Stephanie of Dispensing Happiness has chosen Comfort Foods as this month’s Blog Party. As usual she requests that those who are attending bring a finger food and a drink. When I think of comfort food I immediately think of macaroni and cheese, and that’s why I wrote about it when Ivonne and Orchidea hosted a one off event called Dishes of Comfort. In an effort to bring something new to the table I opted for a sweet comfort food this time around. Chocolate is always a good choice for comfort; chocolate ice cream, chocolate brownies, chocolate cheesecake, chocolate fudge… Fudge. It’s a fun word to say too. Ah fudge! Fudge gets even more comforting when you add dried cherries to it. Cherries in any form are a comfort food for me because they remind me of family. Every summer of my life I’ve worked in my Grandparents cherry orchard alongside my cousins, aunts and uncles so whenever I think of cherries, that’s what comes to mind. Well, that and the fact that they’re just plain tasty.
As for a beverage to bring to the party, my mind drifted once more to hot chocolate. I’ve mentioned on a couple of occasions that I enjoy chocolate and Baileys together. This time around I thought I’d drop the Baileys, (maybe because I’m all out of it…) and go for your classic hot chocolate with ooey gooey marshmallows on top. Although the hot chocolate would have been comforting enough all on its own, it’s infinitely more comforting when it’s served in a Peter Rabbit mug. For a very long time, (still?) the boxed set of Peter Rabbit books by Beatrix Potter sat on a shelf behind my bed, ready at a moment’s notice for storytime. The books were wonderful and so was my Peter Rabbit dish set. That charming little rabbit could very well be responsible for my love of food. When I was little I had to eat everything out of the bowl to see him starring back at me on the bottom. I never wanted to miss out on Peter Rabbit so in went the food.
So today ended up being a comforting day not only in the food department, but also in the mail department. I love getting mail, it’s as good as Christmas. Today I received one of my many Amazon purchases; Flavours by Donna Hay. (Please send help… Visa can’t take it anymore and is threatening to disown me.) This is my first Donna Hay book and it’s beautiful. Her pictures are so pretty, and most importantly, her food tastes just as good as it looks! The fun didn’t stop there though, today was also the day I received by Blogging By Mail Valentine’s postcard which came from Chelsea of Bon Vivant. She sent me a wonderful card which she made herself. Homemade cards are the best! I put it up on my fridge. Thanks
Chocolate Fudge with Cherries and Pistachios (Adapted from Very Best Baking)
1 ½ cups granulated sugar
1 cup evaporated milk
2 T butter
¼ tsp fleur de sel
2 cups marshmallows
2 oz 85% cocoa chocolate, chopped
8 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped
¼ cup pistachios, chopped
¼ cup pecans, chopped
½ cup dried cherries
Line and 8 inch square baking pan with foil.
Combine sugar, evaporated milk, butter and salt in a medium, heavy bottomed saucepan. Bring to a full rolling boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. Boil, stirring constantly, for 5-6 minutes. Remove from heat.
Stir in everything that’s leftover until marshmallows and chocolate are melted. Pour into prepared baking pan. Refrigerate for 2 hours or until firm. Lift from pan, remove foil, cut into pieces.
Stores well in wax paper in a ziplock.
February 10, 2007
The theme for Retro Recipe Challenge #6 is Food of Love. Like every other blogging event going on right now, it seems to be focused around Valentine’s Day. Bah! As I’ve said before, some people love Valentine’s Day, but I am not one of them. I am, however, a lover of food and that’s why I’m allowing myself to participate in a Valentine’s related event. I don’t know what says retro more than a self saucing pudding cake and that’s precisely what you have here. The source of this retro cake would be my Grandmother, (I wonder how she feels about being called retro?). According to Mom this used to be one of her favourite desserts when she was younger and she’s been bringing it up lately when I’m trying to figure out what kind of dessert I want to make. Usually I ignore her pleas for pudding cake because it’s one of the most simple recipes ever to make and I like something a little more challenging. If not challenging, at least make it something that requires I be in the kitchen for longer than 5 minutes, make me chop or stir or something to fill in some time. Mom is relentless though, she keeps on suggesting that I make the pudding. So when this round of Retro Recipe Challenge was announced as Food of Love, I figured I could make her the chocolate pudding and kill two birds with one stone. As the recipe directed, I made the cake in an 8 x 8 pan, but I also attempted to make a small one in a single serve heart shaped pan. The heart shaped one burned beyond edibility. I was secretly happy… Take THAT Valentine’s Day! In your FACE heart shaped things! But then I went ahead and added the mushy pink Valentine coloured scoop of ice cream to the non-burned cake. But it’s ice cream! It doesn’t matter what colour it is, it’s always tasty and always acceptable. This particular ice cream is especially good because it’s one that I adapted from none other than Dorie Greenspan. The woman needs to do a book of strictly ice cream. Why isn’t anyone making that happen? Why???
Chocolate Pudding (from Grandma)
½ cup sugar
¼ cup cocoa
¾ cup boiling water
1 cup milk
Mix sugar and cocoa. Gradually stir in boiling water. When smooth, add milk.
1 cup flour
2 tsp baking powder
¾ cup sugar
¼ cup cocoa
¼ tsp salt
½ cup chopped pecans, (the original called for walnuts)
½ cup milk
2 tbsp melted butter
1 tsp vanilla
Sift dry ingredients, add nuts. Add milk, butter and vanilla. Spread into a greased 8 x 8 pan. Pour the sauce over the top of the batter.
Bake on the upper shelf of the oven for 45 minutes at 350F.
Despite the simplicity, this pudding cake is actually quite tasty with a cakey top layer and pudding bottom. If you’re ever in need of dessert and think you don’t have time to make one, this seriously takes 5 minutes to throw together and then into the oven it goes. It’s even nicer when served warm with strawberry ice cream on top.
Bri’s Easy Strawberry Ice Cream (Adapted from Dorie’s Blueberry Sour Cream Ice Cream)
1 ½ cups strawberries, (generous)
1 cup sour cream
½ cup heavy cream
Splash of milk
1 tsp vanilla
½ cup superfine sugar
Blend and pour into the ice cream maker. Could it be any easier?
February 09, 2007
February 08, 2007
What I may once have called stealing, I will now rename “Sharing the love.” I’m constantly seeing recipes from other blogs that I want to recreate. In some cases, I only wish I could make something that looks that good. Other times, I actually do recreate what I see, or at least I try to. Sometimes I get distracted and make so many substitutions that it no longer resembles the original. My apologies to the cook. A couple nights ago I had pulled chicken out of the freezer and had yet to decide what to make with it. I was looking through recipes at Group Recipes when I saw a picture for Cumin and Coriander chicken. But wait, I had seen this before… Upon closer inspection, I realized it was a recipe from Stefanie of none other than the Cumin and Coriander blog.
I remember thinking to myself that I should make that chicken sometime but I didn’t copy down the recipe and since I have a memory the size of a peanut, I forgot all about it. Until now. And unlike most recipes that I try recreating, I actually had all the right ingredients. And then I took those ingredients and I actually followed the recipe. I really should try doing that more often, because it was great! The only difference in mine was that I sprinkled basil on top instead of coriander leaves. I think it’s fair enough to say I didn’t change anything. Stuff that’s sprinkled on top qualifies as garnish and garnish is interchangeable. It’s a well known fact. Stefanie suggested serving the chicken with roti, naan, or any other Indian flatbread. I served it with jasmine rice and veggies. I’m deeming that a valid substitution as well and it therefore I still remained within the boundaries of the given recipe. I deserve a gold star for attention to detail on this one. Well done Brilynn, well done.