Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Chocolate and Mango do the Tango

I had these yummy shots of mango and chocolate at my friends get together a couple weeks ago.  I love them so much I recreated it for another get together that I had at my house.  I just took the idea and applied it to mousse.  Its not one of those flavor combinations that you say oh, my favorite.  Its not a usual pairing but I think after you would try it you might think it should become a more usual pairing.  Of course fruit and chocolate is not new.

Thank you for all the well wishes over the past couple days.   It warms my heart to know how many lovely, caring people there are in the world.  I think foodies are a special breed of caring people.  I have my blog enabled so that every comment comes into my inbox.  They are most often the first emails I read.  I am like a little kid getting presents.  Your comments are very much appreciated by me and I want to thank you.

Mango Chocolate Tango Mousse Parfaits


milk chocolate mousse:

1/4 cup whole milk
1 cup heavy cream, cold
1/2 stick ( 2 ounces) butter
1 egg yolk
6 ounces milk chocolate, chopped

In a double boiler combine chocolate, butter and milk.  Keep stirring until a smooth consistency is reached. Remove from heat and let cool.  When mixture is cooled to luke warm, whisk in egg yolk. Set aside.

In a cold bowl beat cold heavy cream until stiff peaks form.  Fold the chocolate mixture into the whipped cream.  Pour into parfait glasses and chill.

mango mousse:

1 cups whipping cream, cold
2 teaspoons gelatin
2 tablespoons water
1 cups mango puree
1/4 cup confectioners sugar

In a small bowl combine cold water and gelatin.  Stir to combine, let sit for about 2 minutes.  Heat in microwave for about 30 seconds.  Remove from microwave and cool. Combine gelatin mixture and confectioners sugar with mango puree.

Whip the heavy cream until peaks form.  Fold in mango mixture.  Spoon over chocolate in parfait glasses.  Chill and serve.  Garnish with chocolate or mangoes or ... both!



Last year at this time I made Sweet Maple Almond Drop Scones




Two years ago Chocolate Hazelnut Banana Muffins

Monday, March 29, 2010

Bistro French Lentil Soup


Today is foggy and gray- I just can't seem to get myself motivated.  I have prolific laundry needing to be attended to, cleaning, organizing to do and here I sit.   I think I am coming down with something.  A perfect day for a soup like this.

French lentils are not so easy to find at least around here.  If you can find them, buy them.  They hold their shape quite nicely- making them perfect for soups and salads.

Bistro French Lentil Soup
adapted from Williams Sonoma (catalogue)

1 cup cooked French green
2 tsp olive oil
1 med yellow onion, finely diced
2 cups fresh freens such as spinach or arugula, stemmed
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp grated lemon zest
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth


In a large pot over medium-high heat, combine lentils with 3 cups water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until lentils are tender, about 30 min. Drain and set aside.

In a soup pot over medium heat, saute onion and garlic in olive oil, stirring occasionally, until golden, 6-8 min. Add arugula or spinach and cook, stirring, 2 min. more. Add lentils, cumin, lemon zest, broth and 2 cups water. Simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, about 15 min. Add salt to taste.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Daring Bakers: Orange Cherry Tian



This months challenge was citrus tian. I chose to do orange cherry flavor. (And just in the nick of time- I am writing this post the night before it is due to go up.) I am not a last minute person but sometimes it just works out that way.

This is a beautiful dessert that isn't difficult but it is time consuming. I always find these multi dimensional desserts to be somewhat overwhelming but in the end I am always glad I did it. There is just something about this kind of dessert that takes you over the top. I am not especially a marmalade person but I did like the kind of bitter contrast with the sweet.

The 2010 March Daring Baker’s challenge was hosted by Jennifer of Chocolate Shavings. She chose Orange Tian as the challenge for this month, a dessert based on a recipe from Alain Ducasse’s Cooking School in Paris.

Orange Tian

For the pate sablee:

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup confectioners sugar
pinch of salt
1 egg
4 1/2 ounces butter (1 stick plus 1 tablespoon)

In a processor combine flour, sugar and salt. While processor is running drop butter by small pieces and finally the egg. Once a dough ball is formed remove from processor. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour and up to overnight.

Roll out to a 1/4 inch thick and cut rounds with a pastry ring. You can use small tin cans and use them to cut your dough. Then you know they will fit in the rounds when forming the tian.


For the Marmalade:


Freshly pressed orange juice ¼ cup + 3 tablespoons; 3.5 oz; 100 grams
the peel of 1 large orange that was used to make orange slices
cold water to cook the orange slices
pectin 5 grams
granulated sugar: use the same weight as the weight of orange slices once they are cooked

Place the orange peels in a medium-sized pot filled with cold water. Simmer for about 10 minutes, discard the water, re-fill with cold water and blanch the oranges for another 10 minutes.

Blanch the orange slices 3 times. This process removes the bitterness from the orange peel, so it is essential to use a new batch of cold water every time when you blanch the slices.

Once blanched 3 times, drain the slices and let them cool.

Once they are cool enough to handle, finely mince them (using a knife or a food processor).

Weigh the slices and use the same amount of granulated sugar . If you don’t have a scale, you can place the slices in a cup measurer and use the same amount of sugar.

In a pot over medium heat, add the minced orange slices, the sugar you just weighed, the orange juice and the pectin. Cook until the mixture reaches a jam consistency (10-15 minutes).

Transfer to a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and put in the fridge.

For the Orange Segments:

For this step you will need 8 oranges.

Cut the oranges into segments over a shallow bowl and make sure to keep the juice. Add the segments to the bowl with the juice.

For the Caramel:

granulated sugar 1 cup; 7 oz; 200 grams
orange juice 1 cup
maraschino cherry juice 1/2 cup

Place the sugar in a pan on medium heat and begin heating it.

Once the sugar starts to bubble and foam, slowly add the orange/cherry juice. As soon as the mixture starts boiling, remove from the heat and pour half of the mixture over the orange segments.

Reserve the other half of the caramel mixture in a small bowl — you will use this later to spoon over the finished dessert. When the dessert is assembled and setting in the freezer, heat the kept caramel sauce in a small saucepan over low heat until it thickens and just coats the back of a spoon (about 10 minutes). You can then spoon it over the orange tians.

[Tip: Be very careful when making the caramel — if you have never made caramel before, I would suggest making this step while you don’t have to worry about anything else. Bubbling sugar is extremely, extremely hot, so make sure you have a bowl of ice cold water in the kitchen in case anyone gets burnt!]

For the Whipped Cream:

heavy whipping cream 1 cup; 7 oz; 200 grams
3 tablespoons of hot water
1 tsp Gelatine
1 tablespoon of confectioner's sugar
cherry jam (see recipe above) 1 tablespoon

In a small bowl, add the gelatine and hot water, stirring well until the gelatine dissolves. Let the gelatine cool to room temperature while you make the whipped cream. Combine the cream in a chilled mixing bowl. Whip the cream using a hand mixer on low speed until the cream starts to thicken for about one minute. Add the confectioner sugar. Increase the speed to medium-high. Whip the cream until the beaters leave visible (but not lasting) trails in the cream, then add the cooled gelatine slowly while beating continuously. Continue whipping until the cream is light and fluffy and forms soft peaks. Transfer the whipped cream to a bowl and fold in the orange marmalade.

Assembling the Dessert:

Make sure you have some room in your freezer. Ideally, you should be able to fit a small baking sheet or tray of desserts to set in the freezer.

Line a small tray or baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone sheet. Lay out 6 cookie cutters onto the parchment paper/silicone.

Drain the orange segments on a kitchen towel.

Have the marmalade, whipped cream and baked circles of dough ready to use.

Arrange the orange segments at the bottom of each cookie cutter. Make sure the segments all touch either and that there are no gaps. Make sure they fit snuggly and look pretty as they will end up being the top of the dessert. Arrange them as you would sliced apples when making an apple tart.

Once you have neatly arranged one layer of orange segments at the bottom of each cookie cutter, add a couple spoonfuls of whipped cream and gently spread it so that it fills the cookie cutter in an even layer. Leave about 1/4 inch at the top so there is room for dough circle.

Using a butter knife or small spoon, spread a small even layer of orange marmalade on each circle of dough.

Carefully place a circle of dough over each ring (the side of dough covered in marmalade should be the side touching the whipping cream). Gently press on the circle of dough to make sure the dessert is compact.

Place the desserts to set in the freezer to set for 10 minutes.

Using a small knife, gently go around the edges of the cookie cutter to make sure the dessert will be easy to unmold. Gently place your serving plate on top of a dessert (on top of the circle of dough) and turn the plate over. Gently remove the cookie cutter, add a spoonful of caramel sauce and serve immediately.

Note: I lined small tins with cereal bag plastic and then layered in the components as directed.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Soft Cut Out Cookies



I love a nice tender cut out cookie.  What so often happens with tender cookies is that the dough is really difficult to work with. I think I have found a pretty simple way to deal with it.  I use cereal or crackers bags.  No, seriously they are a wonderful tool.  They are really great for lining a ring mold when building a dessert or savory with layered components.  I know you are probably thinking that plastic wrap works just as well.  It works sure but what I like about the cereal bags is that they have some body and can stand up to rolling without losing their shape or getting bunched up.  I also find they sometimes stick to the food that I am rolling out.  The cereal bags rarely stick.  Really I think you will like them when you start using them.  Once you start you will see they are great for a lot of things.  Seperating burgers for freezing, pushing down sticky desserts that have to be level before baking...  Give it a try.

This recipe here is all over the internet and really is a super tasty and tender cookie.



Cream Cheese Cookie Cut-outs

1 cup butter
1 8-oz package cream cheese
1 ½ cups granulated sugar
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla extract
½ tsp. almond extract
3 ½ cups unbleached all purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder

Beat butter and cream cheese until well combined. Add sugar; beat until fluffy, about five minutes. Add egg, vanilla and almond extract; beat well. In a small bowl, combine flour and baking powder. Add dry ingredients to cream cheese mixture; beat until combined. Divide dough in half. Wrap each half in plastic wrap and refrigerate several hours.

Note:  I used an empty can of mandarin oranges and kind of smushed it to get an egg shape for cutting the cookies.

I used Wilton Royal Icing recipe here for the frosting.  I am taking Part II of Wilton Cake decorating and had some left over. 
 
Ingredients:
3 tablespoons Meringue Powder
4 cups (about 1 lb.) confectioners' sugar
6 tablespoons warm water

Beat all ingredients until icing forms peaks (7-10 minutes at low speed with a heavy-duty mixer, 10-12 minutes at high speed with a hand-held mixer).
NOTE: Keep all utensils completely grease-free for proper icing consistency.
* For stiffer icing, use 1 tablespoon less water.
**When using large countertop mixer or for stiffer icing, use 1 tablespoon less water.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Odds and Ends with Ceaser on the side

 
Besides this salad, I have a couple things that I wanted to share with you. 

First up, if you read my blog, you know that I am in love with intoxicating curry leaf.  My first hint of it was way back when I made Olan Stew the first time.  No picture there cause I had just started my blog.  Then I made Olan Stew ( pictures there) again and talked about the leaf here.  At our local store curry leaf costs 22 dollars a pound.  Yes, thats right.  But in perspective the leaves don't weigh that much so I can get a nice little handful for a dollar.  I decided after a little bit of research and my need to widen my plant collection that I wanted to purchase this plant.  So here is the little baby.

Ain't she pretty?  From what I understand they can grow upwards of seven feet tall.  I wouldn't mind that because it is so very pretty.

*****

Shortly after Christmas my biking bud (bike as in Trek not Harley) sent me a beautiful new recipe box.  She lives in Colorado now with her lovely little family.  I miss her so much.  We used to take long bike rides, usually down the Erie Canal and stop and have some picnic "gourmet" lunch of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.  We jokingly called them gourmet because to us college students, pbj's on artisan bread was pretty darn gourmet.

I can only describe 'M's sense of humor as just plain zaney sometimes.  What I remember most about our friendship is lots of laughter.  But as a fellow social worker we also had some real heavy conversations too. I miss her and sure wish she was closer.  We either have to move to CO or she needs to move here to NY. Until then we will just have to tough out the distance. Thanks 'M' for a very thoughtful gift.

Ceaser Salad

1 egg
2 anchovies
1 clove of garlic
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
juice of one lemon
splash of Tabasco
Parmesan cheese
croutons
romaine lettuce

In a blender or processor, process anchovies and garlic until miced add lemon juice, vinegar, dry mustard, Worcestershire sauce and Tabasco.  Blend until combined.  Add in egg, process a minute or two.  Slowly drizzle in olive oil and let it blend until creamy.  Drizzle over salad and croutons.  Sprinkle cheese on top.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

CELEBRATE MACARON DAY!

Little Miss Macaron is a very temperamental girl.   You must be very careful when trying to create her.
Macaron Rules I have learned along the way...

1.  Never get cocky and think your macarons are perfect. Think positive though.
2.  Never be in a hurry when making macarons.  She is a slow girl that needs lots of patience.
3.  Never let four year old child fingers touch macarons that are waiting to go into the oven.
4.  Never think for a moment you can eyeball the ingredients.  You must be precise.  But hey, being precise will not insure perfect macarons either.
5.  Never walk away from the oven. They must be turned after five minutes to insure even baking.
6.  When using different pans, expect different results.
7.  Don't think because you seemed to have screwed everything up along the way that you won't get nice macarons.  She likes to surprise you, yah know.
8.  Never for a moment think you will never get the macaron right.  Because you will. And when you do you will feel a sense of accomplishment like no other in the baking world.  But see if it were easy you wouldnt feel this.  You will be dancing around the kitchen saying you have feet.  Maybe even singing it! 
9.  Never talk on the phone when making macarons.
10.  Try not to make these for an event unless you are really, I mean really practiced.
11.  Don't overbeat the eggs and dont underbeat them either.
12.  Don't overmix the nuts and confectioners into the egg whites, don't undermix either.
13.  Don't underbake or overbake.
14.  Read, read, read, everything and anything you can about macarons only to find you will find your own path to macaron nirvana.

For all of you who have not tasted one, make sure you put it on your bucket list of things to try.
For all of you that think they are horrible, what the heck are you reading this post for. ;)
For all of you who want to try making them and are just tooscared, I say dont be silly- set out some egg whites on the counter now and start preparing for an adventure.

Ginger Pecan Macarons

125 grams pecan meal (sifted)
225 grams powdered sugar
100 grams egg whites (that have been at room temp for 24 hours)
25 grams sugar

Combine almond flour and confectioners sugar together in a bowl and stir to combine. In a mixing bowl whip egg whites at medium speed. When they begin to get foamy add the granulated sugar slowly.  Beat until the whites form medium-peaks and are still glossy.

Fold in your dry ingredients slowly to the meringue.  Spoon into pastry bag and pipe the batter to a diameter of about an inch. And let rest for 30 minutes before baking. Preheat oven while macs are resting to 300F.  Bake for about 11 minutes or until done, turning the sheets halfway through.


Gingered Buttercream


16 ounces mascarpone cheese
1/3 cup minced crystalized ginger

1 1/2 cups confectioners sugar
pinch of salt

Whip the mascarpone cheese with sugar until combined.  Add in the crystalized ginger.  If you can stand it- wait a day to let the flavor of the ginger permeate the mascarpone mixture.

Note- I am pretty happy with my macarons but I still dont get the feet that other people get.  I will try again next week. If anyone knows why I dont have nicer feet on my macarons feel free to give advice. 

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Giveaway Winner and Chickpea Tikka Masala

Well, we have the winner of the the giveaway.  Lucky Moonfairy's name was picked by my daughter out of a little purse.  And so funny because I think my daughter would have picked her if she could read them all just to choose that name.  So Moonfairy you are going to receive a Cuisinart food processor.  Congratulations!

After my heavy post yesterday and the fact that I am completely exhausted by a little four year old waking me up in the middle of the night, every night, for the past four weeks, I will keep this brief.

This is a quick recipe- I mean quick, to pull together for a meal. It is really flavorful too!

Chickpea Tikka Masala

1 can chickpeas
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and coarsely chopped
2 cups tomato sauce
1 tablespoon garam masala
1 large onion, minced
2 tablespoons canola oil
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup coconut milk
1/2 cup chopped cilantro leaves

Saute onion in canola oil.  When the onion becomes transluscent add minced garlic cloves and garam masala.  Cook for one minute or until the spices become fragrant. Add tomato sauce, sugar, salt, ginger and chickpeas.  Let it cook for about fifteen minutes.  Pour in the coconut milk.  Heat until warmed and serve.  Sprinkle cilantro over top.  Goes great with rice.

Bench Notes:  You can certainly use whole tomatoes, fresh tomatoes or whatever.  I used sauce because I had some in the fridge that needed to be used.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Fan Tails and Perfection

I recently saw a post by a well known blogger.  I read the post and how perfection should be strived for all the time.  What really struck a cord in me when I read her post was the part when she said she is very critical of herself and others when perfection is not achieved.  This was a such a diving point for me jump off in thought for the better part of today.  Don't a lot of us seek perfection and criticize ourselves or others?   You see, if you really think about it, I mean really think about it, everything and I mean everything that is created is perfect.  It really is.  Let's take a step back and look at that.

I grew up with a major perfectionist, my Dad.  Let me tell you, my father can create the most amazing work you have ever seen.  While he had a bunch of jobs all his life he really never specifically narrowed his path.  He had his own business selling things for construction and he did well.  We had food on the table and a roof over our heads.  My Mom also worked to support us.  But what my Father really excelled at was his hobby of wood working or fashioning devices to make life easier or working easier.  He really is resourceful and clever.  The only problem was that when one of us kids worked with him, or tried to, he would take over our projects because you see it had to be perfect.  It wasnt the process, it was the end result.  He took it upon himself to make sure we had something perfect when all was said and done.  In the process he left us feeling inadequate. 

Don't get me wrong.  I am not putting down perfection (or my Father for that matter). Perfection is something we all should strive for. It is what motors us forward.  What propels us to create better products, better lives, better everything.  All I am saying that in this process, let's not forget to commend ourselves for the process. Even people in process- maybe just the process of learning that process is just as important as end result. (Maybe even more important).  That process is beautiful.  It is the learning.  It is the journey.

Next time you see something that is not perfect.  Ask yourself what is it about that imperfection that bothers me?  Is it something I can make better?  Is it something that makes me think about things because it is imperfect?  Is it something that will make me live my life differently?

Take for example a child with Down's Syndrome.  Is that child imperfect because he or she is not like you and me? What can they bring about in the lives around them that would otherwise not be there? What do they teach us by their very existence? 

You, yes you, are perfect.  All that you do is perfect.  It is perfectly the way that it is suppose to be. It is perfectly a part of a process, both at a personal level and a spiritual or cosmic level. Now isn't that beautiful?

(And just so you know I am not putting that blogger down by any means.  That would be totally defeating my purpose here.  Because I learned something from her process that she talked about in her post.  I want to thank her for giving me the opportunity to think about perfection and process.)

The process for making fantails:

1. Roll dough. Use a little flour if you need to.

2. Cut into 12 inch by 6 inch strips or whatever your little heart desires.










3. Cut into squares, dividing equally. Remember process, not perfection. They will still taste great, I swear!

4. Brush some butter over top and then layer the squares and pinch at the bottom.














5. Place in a muffin pan. When you place the little stack it will flip around a bit.  You can play with it a little to make them how you want them to be but dont get too crazy about it because they will find their way once they start baking.


Buttermilk Fantails
adapted from this recipe from Gourmet

1 stick unsalted butter, melted, divided (you may even use less)
2 teaspoons active dry yeast (from a 1/4-oz package)
1/4 cup warm water (105–115°F)
1 tablespoon honey
3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
3/4 cup well-shaken buttermilk

Butter muffin cups with 1 Tbsp melted butter.

Stir together yeast, warm water, and honey in a large bowl and let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes. (Also known as proofing the yeast.)

Mix flour, salt, buttermilk, and 6 Tbsp melted butter into yeast mixture with a wooden spoon until dough forms. Bringing dough together until it is smooth and soft.  Continue kneading on a floured surface for about 8 minutes. Form dough into a ball and place in a greased bowl. Cover and let rise for about 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

Degas or punch the dough and with a sharp knife or a bench scraper divide in half. Roll out one half of dough. Cover one half. I found that I did not need any flour because the dough was pliable and smooth- not at all sticky.   Roll out the dough you are working with into a 12 inch long piece that is about 6 inches high.  Brush dough with some butter and cut into 6 equal strips. Stack strips, buttered sides up, and cut crosswise into 6 equal pieces. Turn each piece on a side and put into a muffin cup. Make more rolls with remaining dough in same manner. Separate outer layers of each roll to fan outward. Cover rolls and let rise at warm room temperature until doubled and dough fills cups, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

I always put my dough in my microwave that is above my stove.  There are no drafts and it gets the heat rising up from the oven because I always end up making myself tea at some point.  The rise goes so much faster from the steamy heat.

Preheat oven to 375°F with rack in middle. Bake rolls until golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes. Brush tops with butter, then transfer rolls to a rack and cool a bit.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Moroccan Chicken Tagine

After seeing Hubert Keller on Create TV, I was really intrigued by tagines. Hubert Keller is a well known chef and owns a few restaurants. I know people have heard of Thomas Keller, but I wonder how many have heard of Hubert Keller. Why is one chef more popular than another?  Does one promote himself more than the other? Does one have backing and can network better? Does one have more connections than the other? These are things my idle brain contemplates.  
The Cuisine of Hubert Keller

Anyway, the tagine is what was sitting on my plate with the risotto from Sunday's post. I really thought cous cous would be a better match for the tagine. But I was very late on my Daring Cook challenge so I had to make it yesterday which was the day of my tagine. I thought hey, why not? Throw them together on a plate it might all work out. Oh the creaminess of the risotto when real well with the flavorful gravy of the tagine. It was delicious. I wouldnt hesitate to pair these two again. (Even though I really love cous cous).

Moroccan Chicken Tagine


6 dried Mission figs, chopped
6 dried apricots, chopped
6 prunes, chopped
1 onion, minced
2 tablespoons preserved lemon, minced
8 chicken thighs, skinned
4 cloves garlic
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 cup water
rub:
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon turmeric
2 teaspoons cumin
11/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 teaspoons corriander seed, ground

Mix all the rub ingredients together on a shallow bowl and coat the chicken thighs with the rub. Heat a tablespoon of oil in a dutch oven or a large frying pan that has a cover. Sear the chicken, browning on both sides. Combine the tomato paste and the water and add to chicken once browned. Add the chopped fruits as well. Cover and heat on a low flame. You want to just barely simmer. Stir often, cooking for about an hour.

There is still time to jump in on the giveaway band wagon.  Deadline is Wednesday March 16th at midnight.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Daring Cooks: Risotto


I love rice. I prefer rice over potatoes as my starch. I love all kinds of rice, white, brown, red and black. It is the staff of life in my opionion. Risotto is so creamy and rich. It lends itself, like other rices to many interpretations. I went really simple because my daughter hasnt been eating very well. She is babying a tooth. I sprinkled za'tar over mine with some parsley which really jazzed it up. Sometimes simple is just what you are looking for.

The 2010 March Daring Cooks challenge was hosted by Eleanor of Melbourne Food Geek and Jess of Jess the Baker. They chose to challenge Daring Cooks to make risotto. The various components of their challenge recipe are based on input from the Australian Masterchef cookbook and the cookbook Moorish by Greg Malouf.

Za'tar Seasoned Risotto

Serves 4 as a starter or light lunch

Ingredients:

14 ounces arborio rice
1 onion, minced
1/4 cup white wine
2 tablespoons butter
stock (I used turkey)
1 tablespoon olive oil

Directions:

  1. Heat oil in a pan and add onion. Fry for a few minutes to flavor the oil then discard. (We diced ours and left it in as we like onion).
  2. Add the rice and stir for a few minutes to coat each grain of rice with oil and toast slightly.
  3. Add the wine and za'tar and let it bubble away until the wine is evaporated.
  4. Add enough stock to cover the rice by a finger’s width (about an inch or two).
    Place a wooden spoon down into the water and lightly touch the top of the rice. Pull the spoon out and you can see the depth by the water line.
  5. Cook on medium heat, stirring with a wooden spoon from time to time, until most of the stock has been absorbed.
  6. Repeat Step 5 making sure to leave aside approximately 100 ml. of stock for the final step..
  7. Repeat, save 100ml for the final stage.
  8. Add the final 100ml of stock and olive oil and stir until both are completely absorbed.

Turkey Broth

Roast a turkey carcass until it is golden all over in a 400F oven. Remove from oven and carefully break off into pieces. You can break it up before roasting as well. Place in large stock pot and add 2 celery ribs, one onion (quartered), 2 carrots cut in 2 inch dice, 1/2 head of garlic, bay leaf, peppercorns and salt.




I wont tell you yet what this other item on my plate was but I will tell you that the risotto went really well with it. Okay, I will tell you tomorrow.

In the mean time make sure you enter for the giveaway under the Dutch Oven Bread post.

Friday, March 12, 2010

The Family Peep


I am getting ready for Easter a bit early. It's almost a month away but if I don't do what I want to do now the time will simply slip away and poof Easter Sunday will be here!

I'd like you to meet some cute friends of mine; Pepe le Peep, Pip, Repeep and Ping. Repeep was named by my four year old as I had to keep resewing that peep. I'd turn it right side out and there would be a hole. So my daughter cleverly named her, Repeep. I don't think she knew about the Peep part- she was trying to say repeat, I think. (I am aware that only three of the four are here- one of the peeps was a little camera shy.)

These little peeps were sewed from a towel my Mother -in-law gave me when she was clearing out her house. The yellow in the towel was so bright, really it didn't fit our house in any way. I repurposed the towel, or should I say I repeeped the towels. Good gats I am one corny girl.

Don't forget to enter the giveaway if you have not.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Dutch Oven Bread and a giveaway



Dutch oven bread sounds really intriguing doesn't it? To make it in a Dutch oven is a pretty neat idea. Jim Lahey is the one who really popularized this bread and it sent off many interpretations. I love how ideas roll like that down the slope, picking up momentum as they roll. A brainstorming continuum. Love it. Imagine what we could do if we all put our creative minds together for the greater good of all.

I know, I know, it's about bread but like my gardening I can't help but draw larger conclusions or think about it as analogy. Its just how my mind works. Like when I pick out weeds in my garden to make it beautiful. How I can pick out "weedy" thoughts in my mind to make it more beautiful as well.

Dutch Oven Bread
I was inspired by this post here.

1/3 cup olive oil
1 cup cool water
1 tablespoon kosher salt
3 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon yeast

Measure one cup of flour out in a bowl sitr in salt and yeast, mix. Add in the wet ingredients and stir rapidly. Add the remainder of the flour and stir until its completely mixed. I used my hands mixing it right in the bowl. Place finished dough in a oiled bowl and cover. Let rise for 15 to 24 hours.

Remove from bowl and shape it into a bal, pulling the sides downa nd to the bottom and pinch it in place. Put the seam side down on a sheet or peel with corn meal dusted on it. Let rise for about two hours.

Preheat oven to 475F with your dutch oven inside. Once the temperature has been reached remove your pot from the oven and carefully slide in your bread. Cover the dutch oven and bake for 20 minutes. Remove lid and bake 20 to 30 minutes more. When it is a golden brown, remove from the oven. Take out of dutch oven at once and place on a rack to cool.

And now the giveaway...

I am happy to tell you the good news about my giveaway. The good people at CSN Stores offered this beautiful mini processor to one of my readers.

Here's is how it works.

You must reside in Canada or US, sorry guys.

Enter one comment below (duplicate entries will be deleted) telling me what your favorite bread is. Including a link or recipe is great but not necessary.

If you post about this giveaway on your blog, use the words:

Pull up one of your counterstools and head over to Lori's Lipsmacking Goodness to enter into a great giveaway!

Next, enter again, stating you have posted about the giveaway. If you post this on your blog you get to enter the contest twice.

Deadline for contest is Wednesday March 16th at midnight.

If the mini chopper is not your thing, I think we can get you something similar, within the price range.

Full Disclosure: CSN stores are providing this giveaway prize. I purchased nothing and will receive no money or prizes personally.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Soba Noodle with chopped veggies



Hello people! I am so happy. Why because the sun has been making a debut appearance around these parts and I am so happy to see it.

To celebrate the heat of the sun shining on us here in New York, I have made a salad of sorts.
Soba Noodles with chopped vegetables
This recipe is especially good when you have left over noodles around. It comes together quite quickly. This recipe serves two but you an easily beef it up a little to serve more.

6 ounces shredded cooked chicken
1 cup cucumber, sliced thin
1/2 cup radishes, julienned
1/2 cup scallions, sliced
1/4 cup mint
1/4 cup cilantro
4 cups baby spinach
Dressing:
1/2 teaspoon red chili paste (or more depending on you desire for heat)
4 tablespoons tahini paste
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
¼ cup canola oil
3 tablespoons soy sauce
¼ cup peanut butter, creamy
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons Hoison sauce
¼ teaspoon fish sauce
1 teaspoon ginger, grated

If you are cooking your chicken for this dish, poaching works the best. In a frying pan place about 2 cups of water. You want the water to just cover the chicken. Bring the water to a boil and add in your chicken. Cover adn let cook until the chicken reaches 165F. You can test for doneness by pressing on the chicken with a fork. If it feels solid, its done. If there is a little give to the chicken, cook a bit more.

While the chicken is cooking cook your pasta.

To make the dressing, whisk the tahini with the soy sauce, and vinegar. Make sure the mixture is smooth. Add in the peanut butter. Then the remainder of ingredients.

Place spinach over bottom of plate or bowl, lay down about a cup of soba noodles, place about a tablespoon of dressing on the noodles. Place remainder of veggies, mint and cilantro over top and put a bit mroe dressing on.

More exciting news!
Stay tuned for a giveaway here on Lori's Lipsmacking Goodness,
I will give you a hint it includes...

Pots and pans
Knifes and tools
baking items
and
even counter stools.

(Pretty clever, aren't I?) I just crack myself up.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Good for yah cookies!


Okay so maybe they are really not good for you but they do have enough healthy qualities to fool you into cookie submission and total abandonment of your disciplined senses. Really, these are quite an amazing cookie!

I orginally found the cookie on Chowhound, it's called Gross Anatomy Cookie. The author writes that after smelling the formaldehyde for quite some time, you get the muchies... You can read her complete story here. That caught my eye. Not for the cookie but because I hae been around cadavors and the smell of formaldehyde. And really this is as fine excuse as any to eat cookies.

No, I haven't gone off my rocker. I was around cadavors when going to college. I did look at their bodies inside and out. Simply amazing. The human body is just a magnificent machine. After working as a nurses aide and in hospitals and then later as a social worker in hospitals, you get this detachment thing going. I think you have to as a matter of survival- emotionally. Of course somebody always breaks through those barriers and reminds you as much as you want to deny or distract yourself from the cold realities of sickness and death, it does lurk near to you, like it or not. A patient comes along and rocks you to your core. You are reminded of being human. You cry. You feel for them. You can't do this for every one you see because you would lose your mind. Of course you have empathy and compassion because you are a humanitarian if you work in human services, but you don't take things down to a personal level where it touches your very core. At least not for the most part.

But I digress. I am just going to call these cookies 'Your a Damn Fool Cookie'. One because you are a fool if you think you can stop at one. Two, because you can fool yourself with these cookies thinking they are totally healthy. I changed things up a bit as I had run out of butter for some strange reason and subsituted with Earth Balance for four ounces of this recipe. I had to up the flour content because the dough seemed a bit loose. Of course you don't have to do that- you can just use two sticks of butter instead and then decrease the flour content a bit.

'Your a Damn Fool Cookie'

1 stick butter
4 ounces Earth Balance Butter
2 eggs
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
1 t vanilla
1 1/2 cup flour
1/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 t salt
1 t baking soda
1 cup toasted wheat germ
2 c oats
1 c chocolate chips

In a large bowl or a stand mixer cream butter and sugars. Add eggs. In a sperate bowl combine dry ingredients adding them to the butter and sugar mixture. Fold in chocolate chips. Bake at 350 for 8-10 minutes. Let them cool for a couple minutes on the baking sheet before transferring them to a cooling rack.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Fallin' for Mafalda

This is one of those recipes from my must do list. I saw it in a magazine called La Cucina Italian. I couldn't find the recipe on the website for some reason. Maybe the web site was created after this particular article was published. In any case I had spotted it three years ago. That was the year, my husband made a last ditch visit to Wegmans our local supermarket to buy my Christmas present. Gasp! Yup, I know pretty lame. He's still living with that terrible decision. No, but really he did okay that year, given the circumstances. (I am laughing as I write). He bought me this magazine La Cucina Italiana, Cooking Light cook book of whatever year, marcona chocolate covered almonds, cheese knife set, apple slicer and some olives. All in all I really can't complain. What really killed me was the fact that he did that all last minute like.

In any case, just in case you were wondering, he has improved. I received a sewing machine this year for Christmas, something I really wanted and needed.

Here is the beauty of a bread that is mafalda. Wish I had some crumb pictures for yah. It had a beautiful tender crumb. The dough was so soft and supple, I really could have just kept kneading it. Not sticky at all. Very nice to work with. Durum flour is pretty nice.
These babies are heading off to Susan's blog for Yeastspotting.
Mafalda
adapted from La Cucina Italiana

2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
2 tabelspoons extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons sea salt or kosher salt
2 1/2 cups durum flour
1 cup unbleached all purpose flour
sesame seeds for sprinkling
corn meal if you are going to use a peel

Proof yeast- sprinkle yeast on a 1/2 cup of luke warm water- about 105F. After a couple minutes add 3/4 cup warm water, 1 tabelspoon of olive oil and salt.

In a large bowl mix flours. Pour the olive oil/water mixture into the bowl, stirring constantly. After it comes together remove from the bowla nd begin to knead it. Working it pretty good, slapping it on the counter a few times (good for aggression over thoughtless ways to buy presents, ha ha). Place that beautiful lump of dough into a well greased (with olive oil) bowl. Cover and let rise until double in volume.

Remove when doubled and punch down. Let it rest for about five minutes, covered. Cut the dough in half. Roll into a very long rope, about a yard or so. Cut the rope in 2/3 and 1/3. Twist the ropes one at a time back and forth creating the leaves. Shape the other side and pinch together. The rope that is a tad bit longer leave the end straight. Bring the extension of the ropes over the top middle. Dont pinch down under, just pinch at the top. Place a little of the cornmeal down on a baking sheet and put the shapes on that. Let rise again for about an hour. Or place on the peel if you are using one.

Preheat oven to 425F. Spritz the shapes with water and sprinkle the sesame seeds on. Place int he oven. Set the timer for ten minutes. Place bread in oven. Open the oven two more times to spritz with water before the ten minutes are up. Once the ten minutes are up reduce the oven temp to 400F and bake for about 20 minutes more.
I shared this one with my neighbor(s) "L" who so graciously plowed our driveway during the major snow dumpage that was last weekend. My husband was pretty much lifeless after shveling for about five or so hours. So after some more dumpage, out comes my neighbor. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

And just one more little side note.

I don't know if you have seen this video yet but what a hoot. These ladies mix up some amazing potato salad.

Solid Potato Salad - The Ross Sisters - The funniest bloopers are right here

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Apple Curry Chicken


I don't know if you have noticed lately my pure fascination with Indian food. While I think most of it may come from my addiction to the smell of a curry leaf cooking, I would have to say I love it because it is PACKED with flavor. And really if you had asked me about Indian food three or four years ago, I would have said, bleck, tastes like talcolm powder. As that was my first experience with Indian food back in 1984. But times they are a changin' cause I love it now. Thanks to the encouragement of some of my friends and my husbands dear, sweet, coworker- "V". Thank you, thank you, thank you.

And you know what the culprit for the attack on my tastebuds is... fenugreek or methi. I am trying to acquire a taste for it but that is what turns me off about a lot of Indian food and the tradition curry powder that you find here in the States. Curry of course, is more of a sauce to an Indian than it is a spice. When I make a curry, I have a lot of spices in there- just not methi.

There was one dish that I use to make when I was younger that had curry in it, I would just put way less than it calls for. I loved it. Now I had to try it again after years of not making it and having the new taste for Indian. Its called Apple Chicken Curry. I still like it but it really is an Amercanized Indian dish. Still good though. It's from a book called The Treasury of Creative Cooking. A book I purchased a long time ago that really is full of a lot of good recipes.

Stay tuned here on my blog because I have a giveaway coming up...

Apple-Curry Chicken
This is a casserole so you can prepare it a head of time and then pop it in the oven 45 minutes before you eat.

2 whole chicken breasts, chopped
1 cup apple juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups plain croutons
1 medium sized apple, chopped
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1/4 cup golden raisins
2 teaspoons brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon ground corriander
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly grease shallow baking dish. Arrange chicken in a single layer. Measure out a half cup of apple juice and add salt and pepper to that. Pour over chicken. Combine croutons, apple, onion, raisins, sugar, curry powder, and garlic powder. Stir in remaining apple juice and spread mixture over chicken Cover and bake for about 45 minutes.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Wilton 101, done


Hey, I finished my first Wilton cake decorating class. I have always wanted to take classes for pastry, cake decorating and the like. And you know quite honestly I never did for fear of getting fatter or people thinking- hey this girl is going to get even fatter. And you know what I no longer care and just took the course anyway. After a while the frosting is more like a painting product than an alluring frosting product.

Putting all my fears aside I took the class and was happy to find a great group of ladies in class. Should that be a surprise- no, because really foodie type people are just plain cool, yah know!

So here is a last class picture taking of some of the cakes in the class.


The woman who did this cake works at a bakery and she is just plain talented.

The woman that did this cake also works at the bakery. See her lovely roses! They are so sweeping and pretty.
This woman here- about as self critical as I am (now stop that) because she made one beautiful cake.
This woman here is currently in the process of becoming a pastry chef. She said she was just using up her black frosting but what a stunning effect. I can see she has a future in her field.

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