Sunday, October 30, 2011

Schweddy Balls

Yesterday at the market, my daughter and I had a very fun time. Too much fun, which lead to bringing home too much ice cream. Normally I only have Edy's Light, or similar, but I love Edy's. She talked me into getting Ben and Jerry's. She was introduced to it in Vermont on our vacation last summer, then had it again at her bubbe's and yesterday saw it at the market and said, "oh mommy, can we get a pint? This is the flavor I had at bubbe's! It's Vermont's finest!" I took a few minutes and noticed they also had the coveted and very difficult to find "Schweddy Balls" so I caved. I told her we couldn't get both the Ben & Jerry's and her ice cream sandwiches, because when it comes down to it, she will forget about it and not eat much, and I'll be the one to finish it anyway! So we now have 1 1/2 pints of Ben & Jerry's and 2 containers of Edy's in the house. As well as 1/4 (maybe a little less) of Crescent Ridge Eggnog Ice Cream from a dinner party last weekend. Let's take bets on how long it will all last!

As for the Schweddy Balls, meh. The lightly rum flavored vanilla base is very good, but the balls don't work for me. I suppose some of the fun is not knowing if you're getting a crunch or a chewy one, but either way, they're just ok. I will have to control myself with the vanilla caramel fudge pint. Now, that flavor is delicious!

As for the controversy, there's nothing said in the skit that should even sound off-color, unless the listener has a "dirty" mind. My daughter could listen to the skit and not get it at all and wonder why everyone is laughing. If you get it, then you must be aware of the reference. If you're offended, so be it. I don't think SNL was thinking of this as humor to elevate our thinking to higher levels of understanding. Those who are familiar with, and love, NPR, probably have the biggest laugh because we get how silly this really is - on many levels, and the million mom's just adds a level for me. Bottom line being about taste (and I'm talking about the one in my mouth, from the ice cream (ha ha)) of course, I'd like the rum balls to be creamier and if they want a crunch, maybe chocolate covered toffee?

Friday, October 28, 2011

Pumpkin stuffed w/ everything in the refrigerator - French Fridays w/ Dorie

From last Thanksgiving

This was the first recipe I made from the book. In fact, this recipe was the reason I bought the book, after hearing an interview with dorie on npr. I took license with this recipe since I've made it 2x before. For last year's Thanksgiving, I made in two Kabocha squashes with leftover baguette from Iggy's, 1/2 and 1/2, scallions, Gruyere, very good bacon, onions, and pretty much according to the recipe. It's like a quiche Lorraine in a pumpkin.

This time I thought I'd experiment and put in 2 stalks of kale (obviously just the leaf part), leftover onions, olives & anchovies from last week's pissiladaire, stale, wheat baguette from Iggy's, bacon, Parmesan, and chicken broth. Had it been cooked an extra hour, it would have been great. But I did it for the 2 hours recommended and it wasn't near enough. I think because the kale needed a lot more time to cook, but my pumpkin wasn't nice and creamy yet either. It was a sugar pumpkin, but very yellow inside. The flavor was good, but again, about an hour more cooking and it would have been where it should be. I'll finish off the baking tonight and update with the results.

What I didn't mention is that I was almost in tears because I was really hungry, tired and wanted a good dinner. Had also not picked up ice cream for myself because I was being strong and knew a nice meal would be waiting for me. Once I had a little food in me, and a little wine, my spirits picked up and I realized it wasn't the most horrible thing I've eaten and was actually ok, just not how yummy I know it can be.
Stuffing - how's this all going to fit?
But it did!
Not wrinkly enough and too soupy - not done yet.
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Friday, October 21, 2011

pissaladiere - French Fridays w/ Dorie

When I first saw this recipe in the book, I didn't fully read it because I remembered seeing pissaladiere from one of my mother's Bon Appetites, long ago, and it just didn't appeal to me. Or maybe it wasn't worth the bother? I don't know but something didn't work for me. Maybe if someone had given me a taste, or made it a FFWD assignment, I would have changed my mind. Oh, guess I did!

This morning I made the dough and became skeptical. It wasn't the right texture and certainly not firm enough, but I put in the recommended flour and double-checked the rest of the measurements. I know dough changes as it "matures" so didn't want, or have time, to make any adjustments. I put it in the refrigerator because I had to go to work. When I got home, I took out the dough and put it in a warm place to come to temperature and rise. As instructed, while that was happening I made the onion topping.

The recipe is super easy, but it does take a lot of time. I loved the topping and as soon as I put in the mashed anchovies, the smell was heavenly. So back to the dough. I don't know if I just needed to put in more flour or because I used 1/2 cup whole wheat, but this was very, super-soft. I did end up using more flour to knead it a little and it improved a bit but the thought of rolling it out was making me rather nervous. I decided to put down parchment, poured out the dough, and cover it with plastic wrap. I then used a rolling pin to roll it out thin. It did get thin, but then I panicked as I started to peel off the plastic wrap. But no fear. After I got the sticky edge off, the rest pulled off easily.

Then I put on the onion mixture and then my daughter took a video, I think, while I decorated it with the anchovies and olives. Then as I put it in the oven, I remembered I wasn't supposed to put on the anchovies and olives until after it baked. Oh well, it was already close to 7 PM and this needed to get cooked! So in it went and and wow, what a great smell.

I still don't think the dough was as it should be, but it did taste very good. It was a little salty, maybe too salty with the extra anchovies. I will leave them off next time and just use the onions and probably the olives, but fewer. I wonder if anyone else used Parmesan cheese? I feel like it was asking for it but maybe that would add too much salt as well. I hadn't put in any extra, though the recipe called for it, but I was liberal with the black pepper.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

More food photos from Monterey

Crêpes of Brittany! - spinach & caramelized onions

JuJuBee - sort of like an apple but not juicy and sweet,
but has a pit like a date - apparently good for the digestion

ornamental eggplant - very neat. Looked like tomatoes.

One of a plethora of fresh figs -
about 5 varieties in the container.
This kind was the best. Can anyone identify?

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Dine Around

Before I got to the conference, I registered for a dine around. This is organized by the conference and there are several restaurants and topics to choose from. I selected the topic about serving your community and the restaurant was Montrio Bistro. As the rest of the people who were there, we selected for the restaurant, more than the topic. Good choice for all of us. The company and the food were well worth pulling me out of my mood to be anti-social. I happened to talk quite a lot to very interesting people, mostly 2 smart and fun women from Wisconsin (who didn't even work together, but knew each other) and one former school media specialist, now turned asst. director for a public library in CT. There were other people at the table, but we were on one end and our conversations didn't mix too much.

For dinner, I started with an interesting cocktail - Corazon Valiente; mezcal (a smoky liquor made from the agave plant), blackberry-plum shrub, lemon and agave nectar. It was pretty strong, but once I had a few sips, really nice and refreshing.

I didn't want a full entree, plus I wasn't in the mood for meat, so I selected an absolutely wonderful salad of poached pear, warm nut? crusted goat cheese, and mixed field greens with candied pecans.

I also tried another appetizer - the baby artichoke - smoked bacon risotto with spinach and parmesan. It was very good, but I seriously enjoyed the salad the most. Of course I couldn't skip dessert, so had the Chocolate Ganache cake. This would have been a fairly standard dessert, though perfectly creamy/fudgy and not very sweet, had they not served it with a small scoop of coffee ice cream and drizzle of caramel mousse and stout caramel. Looks alone probably made this taste fabulous.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Abalonetti Seafood Trattoria - grilled eggplant, roasted fennel, roasted peppers, marinated artichoke hearts, olives, a whole roasted bulb of garlic!, marinated calamari, mushrooms, garlic spinach, feta cheese, on lettuce. I was in heaven. Ate it outside, looking at the water, (flocks of birds flying overhead were a bit much), but it was the perfect lunch/dinner for me!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Pics for french friday

Blini and pumpkin totam from langwater farms.
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Thursday, October 13, 2011

buckwheat blini with smoked salmon and crème fraîche - French Fridays w/ Dorie

My daughter has been asking me for quite a while when we can have the lox again. She's talking about the salmon in a jar we made last month. I thought the blini would be just the excuse to make the salmon again and it was. As usual, I took shortcuts, not out of laziness exactly, but more because of limited time. The salmon still turned out wonderfully. I coated it Tuesday night in the salt & sugar. It rested for the night and then in the morning I rinsed it and covered it with olive oil, peppercorns & coriander seed. I didn't have any onions (no onions in the house??!!) so didn't add any vegetables. In the morning is also when I mixed up the batter for the blini. I did cut the recipe in half because it seemed like an awful lot for just the three of us. I left it covered on the counter all day since it was a fairly cool day.

Wednesday after work I pick up the CSA order and this week we got daikon. Knowing we needed vegetables, I thought the daikon would lend the spiciness missing from the onions. I made daikon and carrot ribbons, mixed them with black pepper & lemon juice, and put them on top of mesclun. On the plate I added the sliced salmon and blini. I had my doubts that this would have enough taste and be satisfying, but it was really the salmon that brought it all together. I didn't have any creamy topping. It probably could have used it to round out the flavor, but we truly enjoyed the flavors and textures.

So the blini, which is the main focus of this meal, was very good. Again I didn't really do these properly because I didn't have the buckwheat flour and substituted whole wheat instead. These had great flavor and I will get the proper flour for the next time I make these. I may also make them as traditional pancakes because they were very flavorful, light and fluffy on the inside, and a bit crispy on the outside.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

olive-olive cornish hens - French Fridays w/ Dorie

We were out of town last week, but on Monday I caught up and made the hens. The prep was easy enough, though not something truly enjoyed, since I'm not a fan of playing with poultry of any kind. I also made the homemade tapenade, but, as Dorie suggested, used 1/2 of the oven-dried tomatoes from this summer, along with the olives. It gave the hens a very nice, fruity/salty taste. The cooking method is excellent. Dorie is right, these were done in about 1/2 an hour and I let them rest about 15 minutes and they were juicy and perfectly cooked. I probably will not make Cornish hens again, but will use this recipe with normal chicken breasts. We had them with potatoes mashed w/ cauliflower, olive oil and parmesan cheese, roasted vegetables, and leftover red cabbage from my MILs.

Last night I broiled the tapenade on Italian bread.

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Great salad idea

Autumn harvest salad: fennel-roasted apples, grapes, blue cheese and toasted hazelnuts — food & style
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Update, the cake turned out great! Chocolate cake, caramel, caramel butter cream, candied bacon.
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Weekly CSA Share

  • 1 head lettuce or one bag mesculn mix - salad
  • 1 bunch radishes - ?? still have from last week!
  • 1 bunch beets or carrots - maple glazed
  • 1 bag spinach - sauteed w/ garlic & white beans
  • 1 acorn or delicata squash - the farm's favorite is the delicata, but we found the acorn to be tastier w/ the best texture. Last week I cubed them, put a little apple juice in the pan and roasted at 400 for 40 min. Loved it!
  • 1 head kohlrabi - ??
  • 1 head cauliflower - au gratin (Dorie recipe that my mom adores and I haven't tried yet)
  • 1 1/2 lbs potatoes - mashed
  • 1 bunch kale or collard greens - sauteed w/ garlic & white beans
The real question is what I have left over from last week and when we're going to eat it. We only have 2 meals left at home until Sunday! We still have peppers, radishes, cabbage, romanesco, and fennel. Tonight I'm making chicken with double fennel and a stir-fry with romanesco. We'll skip this week's FFWD, which is cornish game hens, and maybe I'll make the spicy peanut noodles w/ cabbage from last week's Langwater newsletter.

Monday, October 03, 2011

Cake Experiments

Tonight Shara and I baked our favorite chocolate layer cake. This was her first time cracking an egg and most of it got in the bowl. At the last minute I grabbed a bowl and said, "Wait! put it in this!" and the yolk and about 1/2 the white made it in. I was surprised the yolk remained intact since the shell was pretty much shmushed. But that was fine since the only reason we were adding another egg was because the first one looked too small and pale. During all the commotion with trying to find tasks to keep Shara busy and cleaning up the trail, I forgot the pinch of salt and adding some coffee in place of water. I still think it will taste fine because we're going to make this cake fit for Alan.

What would that entail? Bacon, lots of bacon. So, chocolate cake layered with salted buttermilk caramel & topped with candied bacon. The caramel is an adaptation from Bon Appetit. I'm going to replace the heavy cream and crème fraîche with buttermilk. I'll also make some caramel to mix with the bacon and lay out to harden. I think it would be neat to pulverize the caramelized bacon, but probably won't have time for that. I'll see.

Saturday, October 01, 2011

Cabbage Potage

Yes, purple cabbages do make purple soup!
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