Saturday, October 25, 2014

Rock the casbah

Last night we had our goods and services auction party, rock the casbah. Our Moroccan feast went well. Good company, food and entertainment. A lot of work but it didn't go unappreciated. We get to do a mini-version for two couples who couldn't attend, and that will be nice too.

Shara provided the after dinner entertainment with her belly dancing. We got her costume, adult-size, and she did a remarkable job pinning it up so it looked perfect. Nice that this will last several years.


Fresh Tomato & Caper Salad
Grated Cucumber (Feggous) Salad w/ Orange Flower Water
Roasted Beet Salad w/ Cinnamon
Sweet & Spicy Moroccan Eggplant
Sweet Potato Salad (Arabesque Cookbook)
Cooked "Wild Greens" Salad
Crushed Spiced Carrot Salad
Marrakech Tagine Bread
Potato Tagine w/ Olives & Harissa
Tagine of Baby Calamari & Shrimp w/ Red Pepper & Tomato
Chicken & Fennel Tagine
Mint Tea
Passover Baklava Cake

Friday, May 30, 2014

Friday night dinner

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Bread for Dessert

This is part of a facebook conversation about good, chewy bread with a crunchy crust. If you know Iggy's, I think it's close to their french baguette.

  • Karen :Debbie, I have been making variations of this recipe almost daily for a couple of weeks:
    I have something amazing to share with you today! I mean, you’ve seen artisan bread before but you’ve probably never seen it as easily made as this! I’d say this is one part recipe, one part magic trick… it’s just incredible. You’ve gotta trust me.
  • Karen : Oops didn't mean to post yet... I have used 1/3 white whole wheat (King Arthur brand) and 2/3 white all purpose flour with good big holes. I usually use 1-2 tbsp of sweetener for the yeast to activate with, just my style. I have had excellent results using a baking stone, humid oven at 450, and long rise times. Just got 50 lbs artisan bread flour delivered - can't wait to try it!

Here's my reporting back:
Ok, the taste is great but the texture was just ok. Didn't get the big bubbles, but the three of us ate 1/2 of it already and this was after dinner. 

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Pie Cravings

I planned on making pizza for dinner tonight and realized I had no mozzarella cheese. I had to stop at the market after work and pick up bread and an avocado for tomorrow's quick dinner of grilled cheese & avocado anyway, so I stuck with the pizza plan. While at that evil market I was bombarded with cakes, cookies and pie (oh my!). I looked but knew I wasn't going to actually get anything. I had Immaculate Bakery's pie dough at home but nothing to put inside it. I bought a bag of frozen blueberries and a container of strawberries. 

While the pizza was cooling a bit, I threw the dough in a pie plate. I then debated with myself whether to mix the sugar, almond flour, tapioca, vanilla, and almond extract in the bag with the blueberries or dirty a bowl. I went with my instincts and used a bowl. So while we were eating pizza and salad, my open faced berry pie baked away. After dinner I changed to go out for a jog and said I'd take the pie out before I left. So about 10 minutes into the jog I had to slow down and text Alan to turn off the oven. I forgot all about it.

But now I sit here, empty bowl at my side and can't imagine I'd be happier with anything else. Well, maybe a little chocolate.

Berry Galette

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

It's all about balance

These days it's difficult for me to say no to any sweet or treat. The best thing is to keep it out of the house, yet I keep bringing it in - no will-power so I started jogging again. Hope it will work, but if not, there are many healthy, good tasting foods I can turn to.

So the questionable - I'm on the doughnut bandwagon. I had been craving doughnuts ever since I caved during a late evening stop at Market Basket - on the reduced price bakery rack were several boxes of four doughnuts for $1.99. I could not, nor did I, say no. Instead I took several minutes to carefully examine each box to make sure I'd want every one and wouldn't get any that I didn't really want. If it's in my house, even if it's not my favorite, I will eat it. So to make it worth it, they better be good! And these were; two filled with jelly & coated in powdered sugar, coconut covered, and cream filled.

So a few weeks later, the cravings are getting worse. I'm in A.C. Moore and the location is closing. Everything is 40% off and I found a doughnut pan! Just one so I can only make 6 at a time, which is perfect. And they're baked, not deep-fried. So last weekend I found a recipe that sounded like it would give me the texture of a raised doughnut, the prefered doughnut in our home, and the ease of a muffin. I read if you bake a true yeasted doughnut it will come out like a dinner roll. Not a bad thing, but certainly not a doughnut. So this recipe uses yeast and baking powder, apparently very similar to baking powder biscuits made down south - Baked Doughnuts with Vanilla and Chocolate Glaze from the Kitchn.

I tried a couple of different things. I used white wheat flour, plain non-fat Greek yogurt, and instead of evaporated milk used unsweetened, vanilla flavored almond milk. Another substitution was unsweetened chocolate for the semisweet. No one in the family wanted them to be sweeter. One thing I've noticed, and it happens with these wonderful chocolate yogurt brownies, is the Greek yogurt is so much thicker than regular, more liquid needs to be added, so in this case, more almond milk. I also think there was too much nutmeg.

Anyone who knows me also knows I don't like to take extra steps if not necessary. I noticed the vanilla glaze and chocolate glaze were so similar, when I was done with the vanilla glaze, I put in the chocolate and turned it into the chocolate glaze. The part that failed was thinking the vanilla glaze was too thick and when I thinned it, it got too thin. So lesson learned. The flavor was still great and the glaze not setting certainly kept them moist!

The recipe, halved, made 9. I may have to fill them higher next time. Yes, there will be a next time.
Not sure these could be filled higher, but will try.

nicely browned

Yes, sprinkles too!

So where's the balance? Dinner tonight! We've been very off-schedule for meals these days and I had bought chicken, broccoli and cilantro to make a Thai meal. We ended up having take-out Chinese the other night, that lasted a couple of days, and one of the dishes was chicken and broccoli. I didn't let that deter me. I grilled for the first time of the season, because I didn't want to do extra dishes. I was also able to take advantage of my PB2 Powdered Peanut Butter that arrived from Amazon today. So a simple, healthy meal of Udon, grilled chicken, steamed broccoli, cucumbers, and cilantro in a nice peanut sauce. I used my prized China Moon Cookbook as a guide for the sauce -
1/2 cup PB2 peanut butter
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup lime juice
2 tsp. grated ginger and juice - my ginger was mostly fiber, so I grated and squeezed the juice out
1 tbsp. chopped garlic
2 tbsp. Moo La hot chili oil & a couple spoons of "goop"
Mixed all together and heated in the microwave for about 30 seconds to warm.

Sunday, April 06, 2014

Catch-up - 2 months overdue!

Lots of pictures to show I haven't been hiding in a cave.
spaghetti squash w/ ricotta filling, roasted eggplant slices & sauce - baked it's just as satisfying as traditional eggplant parm. 

Got a sourdough lesson from the Bridgewater Baker and kept our take home sample going for a couple of weeks! Made great pizza dough.

Our fantastic New Year's Eve sushi platter from Hayashi

More spaghetti squash with local kielbasa, spinach & sauce

my attempt at Irish Soda Bread

Farro, kale turnip salad - delicio

Cauliflower pizza crust - popular on the Web but not so much for me in real life. It didn't crisp enough even though I did it on a silpat. Maybe smaller would work better - 3" rounds topped with sauce & cheese, then baked.

Big project - 100 oatmeal cookies for Mainspring House. Our church makes monthly lunches & this was my family's contribution for February. We're going to do it again but bake & freeze, rather than all at once. Would also help if I hadn't messed up and thought 1 cup butter is a lb. Yes, there were several very rich cookies before I realized what I did and was able to adjust.

Stuffed bread for New Years Day - artichokes & roasted peppers

My daughter's salad, found in a kid's cookbook and enjoyed by all.

Yummy Mid-eastern special from Maguires

My daughter found a recipe online for frog cupcakes and jumped right in. They came out very well for her first try. We're not a family who would think of using a cake mix!

Butterfly Cookies - royal icing creates the dam

Very wet icing works like paint to create the design

Cocktail party goodies - pomegranate flavored cream cheese stuffed apricots w/ crushed pistachios 

Veggie Basket

Cocktail Party Menu:
  • Grilled Cheese & Avocado Sandwiches
  • Pumpkin Puree Flatbread w/ sage, fennel seeds & parm shavings, balamic drizzle
  • Sauteed Chicken & Waffles w/ Rosemary Bacon Maple Syrup
  • Stuffed Mushrooms
  • Smoked Salmon on Cucumber w/ Dilled Yogurt
  • Apricot Canapes - cream cheese, pomegranate molasses, chopped pistachios
  • Cheese Tray w/ Seedy Crackers w/ Lemon Basil Jelly & Apricot Rosemary Jelly
  • White Bean Dip
  • Eggplant Dip - Baba Ghanoush
  • Crudités - cucumber, tomatoes, carrots, celery, snap peas, asparagus
  • chocolate dipped (butterflies) & plain strawberries
  • Fudgy Meringue Cookies
  • Butterfly sugar cookies

Backyard egg taste test - my sister's on the left, our neighbor's on the right. I love the flavor of my sister's, but the rest of the family voted for the neighbors. I can only think it's because the neighbor's are very traditional tasting and with my sister's, egg flavor is sometimes overshadowed by the thick texture and richness.

sisters to the left, neighbors to the right.

asparagus roasted w/ garlic, anchovies & oil

Thursday, December 19, 2013

First of the Cookies to be Delivered Tomorrow

This is the typical assortment:
Thumbprints - Berry, Mocha, Almond Hearts, Fig ’n’ Flax Thumbprint Cookies, Rosemary-Kissed Orange Thumbprint Cookies, Berry-Sage Thumbprints with my friend Kat's berry jam, Lemon Basil Thumbprints

Icebox Cookies - Apricot-Walnut Triangles, Candied Ginger & Sesame Slices, Cocoa White Chocolate–Cherry Sable

Other - Brown-Butter Oatmeal Cookies, Chocolate Pretzels, Gingersnaps w/ Lemon Ginger Buttercream (I think these are my favorite), Stained Glass Trees, Maple Walnut Macarons, Cardamom Orange Spritz, Cassis Pepper Spritz w/ Black Pepper, and Dutch Windmills - Speculaas - Speculoos

Maple Walnut Macarons
 The macarons taste wonderful, which is a very good thing because they really don't look anything like real macarons. I had first time success and since then, haven't been able to get the beautiful, shiny cookies. I guess I'll have to try again. I think my big problem is that I made them way too small and overcooked them because I didn't realize they were small. I substituted most of the confectioners sugar with maple sugar and the filling is a buttercream with maple syrup and walnuts.
Gingerbread w/ lemon ginger buttercream
Gingersnaps filled with a buttercream flavored with lemon zest and candied ginger.
amaretti cookies

Shara & Alan's favorites - amaretti cookies. I learned that I shouldn't bake these on the silicon mat because it trapped too much moisture and the bottoms didn't get dry enough and they stuck pretty badly. But it did make them stick together nicely to make a sandwich.

I looked at several recipes for Speculoos and almost made the recipe from Around My French Table: More Than 300 Recipes from My Home to Yours By Dorie Greenspan , but settled on one from someone's blog that had the same Springerle rolling pin I had. I think it was very similar but he said to start with cold butter where I didn't listen and used room temp. One thing I didn't do well enough was sift the brown sugar and those lovely brown clumps are said sugar. I tried to pass them off as brown sugar candy bits, but couldn't lie. They still taste wonderful!
Apricot Walnut Triangles

Apricot Walnut Triangles - these are amazing. I make an apricot walnut bread and thought the combination would make a good cookie and it does. Just a simple dough - Dorie's Sable actually, and rolled the apricots & walnuts, then formed into a triangle. Refrigerated, sliced & baked. The easiest cookies.

GInger Slices
Took the other 1/2 of the Sable dough and added Garam Masala, candied ginger and rolled the logs in sesame. The candied ginger/sesame was from Smitten Kitchen. Again, slice and bake. Some were overcooked, but we managed to eat the rejects!
Another from Smitten Kitchen. Got a thing in my head for chocolate pretzels, maybe from the Balsam cookie assortments my dad used to bring home from his deli when I was a kid.

Maybe next year I'll recreate this assortment! One more kind to make - think it will need to be more slice and bakes so I can use my new cookie stencils with.