Monday, January 31, 2011

Sunday Morning Bannocks

Each Sunday, I drag my behind out of bed, toss together a few ingredients, and pat them into a baking dish. In the half hour they take to bake, I assemble a tray with an assortment of flavoured butters, preserves, jams, Golden Syrup, Maple Syrup, and whatever else I have that needs to be used-up. As breakfasts go, this is a great improvement over flipping pancakes, or scrambling eggs-and the clean-up is easier as well. Oh sure, I hear you traditionalists out there complaining that Bannocks need to be made over a campfire, just as the traditionalists insist good soda bread must be baked over peat. I used my shitty Amana oven, and in half an hour, had breakfast on the table along with tea, fresh squeezed juice, and coffee for Mr. ETB who insists, "Tea makes you throw-up."

I didn't think to take a picture until the very last bite, but my, isn't that lovely looking bannocks and marmalade?

You Will Need:

1 Cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup AP flour
1/2 cup Old Fashioned Oats
4 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup raisins
2 tablespoons melted butter
3/4 to 1 cup water

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Grease a 9 inch cake tin.

Sift together dry ingredients. Stir in butter, and raisins. Add water slowly, mixing with your hand lightly until you have a soft dough. Pat it into a pan and bake 25-30 minutes, or until lightly browned. Serve with assorted butters, jams, and the like.

Grapefruit Bars

Just like lemon bars, but grapefruit. Oddly enough, they could have used a bit of lemon juice anyway as the grapefruit is so overly sweet these days.

Something to consider swapping out in your favourite lemon bar recipe should you find yourself faced with (another) 18 lb. bag of Texas grapefruit (dudes, it was five bucks-you would have bought it too).

I used the recipe here, exchanging grapefruit juice and zest for lemon.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Grapefruit/Lavender Marmalade

It turned out nice, but I can't really taste the lavender. I used about a tablespoon in a spice bag-I guess that wasn't enough, or I should have let it sit with the peels overnight. Nonetheless, it turned out well, and the set is slightly harder than my two previous efforts.

I used the recipe in the Ball Blue Book, except I added lavender, and I used half brown sugar. I also doubled the recipe, and it set without any difficulty. Even with doubling, it still only made 4 half pints-quite a bit of work for such a small yield.

The jars are still cooling-I'll post pictures later. The colour is really gorgeous.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Spiced Orange Jelly

This jelly is really wonderful-I wish I had made it earlier as Christmas gifts. Oh well, maybe next year.

You Will Need:

6 cups chopped Cara Cara pulp
1 cup chopped lemon pulp
1 cup thinly sliced Cara Cara peel
2 large cinnamon sticks and 5 whole cloves tied in muslin
1 cup water
1 box powdered pectin
5 cups granulated sugar

In a large pot, combine pulps, peel, water and spice bag. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to simmer. Cover, and cook 10 minutes. Strain through jelly bag slowly. Measure 4 cups (don't squeeze the jelly bag). If you need to, make up the rest with water.

Combine juice and pectin in a large pot (it will foam-up as it cooks). Bring to a boil over high heat. Add sugar, stirring constantly and return to a full rolling boil. Boil 1 minute. Remove from heat, skim foam and fill sterilised jars leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Seal with heated lids, adjust screw bands and process 10 minutes in a water-bath canner. Makes 5 half pints (about).

Bitter Orange Marmalade

Well, the orange blossom water seemed to do the trick (along with Moro blood oranges which are a bit less sweet than navels). The colour is certainly helped with the addition of a few Moros, and brown sugar. Overall, I'm pleased with how this turned out. Traditional Seville orange marmalade, it is not, but living in the American Midwest, this is about as close as I can get it.

I'm always troubled by the cut of marmalade (yeah, you probably have better things to worry about). Should I cut it fine, should I use thick? Combination? I settled this by leaving the lemon slices a bit on the thick side, and cutting the orange peel quite fine. I really like big hunks of peel in my marmalade, but my family...sigh. They're so freaking genteel. Oh, they never raise their voices, or behave in an impolite manner, and they prefer thin cut marmalade.

Up next-Pink grapefruit marmalade with lavender. Then, I think I'll save the last of the oranges for a batch of pickled orange slices with cinnamon, cloves and malt vinegar (sounds horrible, but you'll have to trust me on this one).

I followed the marmalade recipe in the previous post, but used half Moro oranges and a generous splash (about 1 tablespoon) of orange blossom water at the end before bottling the marmalade.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Orange Marmalade Bread Pudding

Since I now have buckets of marmalade in my fridge, I found a useful way to get rid of stale bread and cream approaching the use-by date-bread pudding. I never hear complaints about bread pudding.

Some people butter the bread before making a bread pudding. You don't need to do that. You can, but I don't bother. You can be all fancy and spread the marmalade on each slice of bread before fitting it into the pan as well-guess what I did? I must have looked at ten different recipes on the web, and every single one of them did the buttering the bread thing. I know there are only so many things you can do with a bread pudding, but I'm going to go out on a limb and break with tradition-not because of some need to be different, or because I feel this recipe is somehow superior to all others by the omission of butter...but because I am too bloody tired to stand and butter slices of bread. I've been canning and attempting to teach fractions to a six year old all day. I. Can't. Butter. Bread. So there.

The bread I had was a sourdough raisin/cinnamon swirl loaf. Danny was getting kind of bored with cinnamon toast every morning for a week, so I showed the kid some mercy, and used the last of it for this pudding. He's a toast and tea for breakfast kind of guy, with the occasional break for porridge-but even the most devoted cinnamon toast eaters get tired of the same slice morning after morning. It was sort of a large loaf. Anyway, you could certainly make this with whatever bread you have sitting on the counter going stale (except maybe rye-I don't think that would be very nice, unless it was a Limpa rye).

You Will Need:

Enough thickly cut cubes of stale bread to fill a 9x11 casserole dish (or whatever you have-just leave room for it to expand).

Marmalade (about 1 cup)
4 large eggs
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
(See why I say you don't need to butter the bread?)

Sugar for sprinkling the top because the marmalade doesn't already have an unbelievable amount of sugar in it.

Fit the bread in the dish. Pour the marmalade over it. In a bowl, whisk the eggs, milk, cream together until smooth. Pour over the bread. Cover, and let it sit in the fridge at least 30 minutes, but as long as a couple hours.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Sprinkle with a bit of sugar. Bake pudding about 1 hour or until done.

Orange Marmalade With Brown Sugar

I ended up going half brown sugar, half granulated for this batch-the results were excellent. For the batch I'm making tomorrow, I have orange flower water, which hopefully will introduce a bit of bite into the marmalade. This particular batch wasn't overly sweet, which may possibly be the use of homemade brown sugar. I tend to go a bit heavy on the full-flavour molasses which may account for the slightly deeper taste. Hard to know.

As for the set (because I know everyone is waiting to find out what happened) I used a thermometer and when it arrived at 220 degrees F. where all the experts say it should set, I dug out my spoons and began testing for a set-you already know what happened. So I let it go to 225 degrees F. It was still quite runny, but knowing how quickly it can turn inedibly hard, I went ahead and bottled it up at that point. It did firm up a bit, and it mounds on the spoon, but it is much softer than what I'd associate with marmalade. My family considers this a great improvement though, so who am I to argue? At least we won't be destroying spoons prying it from jars.

I followed the technique in the Ball Blue Book, but the recipe is my own doing. The amounts-figure this will make far more than your canner can accommodate, and have extra jars ready for the fridge-I ended up with close to eight pints, which would have been great if I'd thought to use pint jars, but I had half pint jars, and now I have a fridge full of marmalade. You could have worse things in the fridge-and it will keep for months. Nah, it won't last that long.

You Will Need:

2 cups finely chopped orange peel
(it took about an hour to do all the prep work, which isn't bad. I listened to As It Happens, which I always expect to be about Canada, but it always ends up being a portrait of how stupid Americans are. Go figure. Tonight it was something about Utah having an official state gun).

1 cup finely sliced lemon (peel and all)
1 quart chopped oranges (I leave some pith on as it helps with the set) I used Cara Cara and Navel
1 1/2 quarts water
Brown Sugar
White Sugar

Bring everything but the sugar to a boil in a large stockpot. Reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes. Cover, remove from heat and let stand 12-18 hours in a cool place (I used the kitchen counter).

Next day, bring pot to a boil (uncovered) and cook rapidly until peel is soft. You might see some scum rise to the surface, so go ahead and skin that off-it is not the same skimming you do at the end of canning. When the peels are soft (be sure they are, as they will not soften any more after adding the sugar) measure how much fruit, peel and liquid you have. Add 1 cup sugar for each cup of liquid. I ended up with 10 cups of liquid, so I used 5 cups brown sugar, and 5 cups white. You can of course, adjust this to your tastes. Add the fruit back into the pot and add the sugar, stirring constantly to dissolve and to prevent sticking. Boil it rapidly until it reaches between 220-225 degrees F. or sets according to any gel tests you like (the saucer in the freezer thing never worked for me). When you're satisfied with it, pack it into hot, sterilised jars leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Remove air bubbles with a small spatula and wipe the threads clean. Seal with a heated lid and adjust bands. process 10 minutes in a water bath canner, then let cool 5 minutes, in the turned-off canner before removing to cool. In 12-24 hours, test seals. Makes more marmalade than you ever thought possible.

Everything, With Pasta

A week's worth of stray beans, veggies and pasta found their way into this dinner.

Pinto beans
Green Bell pepper
Olive oil

Tossed with bow-tie pasta it made a nice dinner, and all the odds and ends have found a home. I really hate wasting, and this is one of the ways I deal with it.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Adventures in Marmalade

-and it begins.

I have the peels and fruit all chopped ,and soaking for the final cooking/canning tomorrow. I'm feeling adventurous, which means there will be several batches over the next few days employing different sweeteners and techniques. I'm partial to a bit of brown sugar in my marmalade, but my family is less certain. I also have a tendency to over-set marmalade, so for the first time in my life, I'm going to use a jam thermometer-I'm getting too old for breaking teeth on hard peel.

I wanted to include a splash of Campari in my recipe, but was stunned at what a bottle costs these days. I don't think I could justify a thirty dollar bottle of booze for the purpose of making something I intend to spread on toast. Of course, I do have a birthday coming up...

I have some helpful advice if you decide to make lime marmalade-resist the temptation to add a few drops of food colouring. Believe me, the pale green will be much nicer than what food colouring gets you as evidenced by the several jars I still have from 2008 that no one will touch because it looks unnatural.

Have I mentioned before how positively obsessive I am about citrus? Sure, now you can have oranges and grapefruit the year round, but as a child, in the cold, cold northern climes of the upper Midwest where winter never really ends it just goes on a hiatus around June...oh god those oranges would arrive in the stores around Christmas, and I'd eat and eat and eat until I had mouth sores and stomach pain until the last ugly-skinned juice oranges from Florida disappeared from the stores leaving us with nothing but cold storage apples to hold us over until the first early, flavourless stone fruits of spring. Yeah, you damn coddled youngsters don't know how good you have it with your Chilean grapes and South African Oranges. Sometimes, not often of course (and no one really likes to talk about it) we'd resort to cannibalism and blame it on Windigoes. You know how sometimes you're out, and you see a pair of footprints in the snow...and they just end? Yeah, that was the Windigoes. Damn Windigoes, always eating people and trying to blame it on the locals. So what I was about to say...(before this post veered off into crazycakes-bad punctuation-land) is that you really don't know what it was like to wait, and wait, and wait all year for fresh oranges. You damn kids with your, "Oh I don't need to eat an orange, there's an app for that", lives.

Go eat some oranges...and then get off my lawn.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Vegetarian Haggis

Burns Night, 2011-I made a veggie haggis. I don't know why either.

The recipe I used is HERE, though I substituted dry breadcrumbs for the nuts. Worked fine, everyone liked it. Not sure what to do with the leftovers-battering and deep frying, or a haggis curry?

Grapefruit Fennel Jelly

The fennel seeds were an afterthought-if I made this again I might add them when cooking the grapefruit, and then they would strain out, but a few seeds floating in the jelly is actually kind of I don't know. I do know this is delicious, and even the citrus-hating-son was happy to have a couple servings on crackers. It tastes like licorice. And grapefruit. It reminds me of a drink...nah, I can't remember, but the combination is familiar, and pleasant.

Here's a thought that isn't pleasant. No, this is downright disturbing. As I was doing web searches for herbs that might go nice in a grapefruit jelly, I discovered to my, sctach that...I discovered to my horror (sounds like a tired phrase, I know, but I really was horrified) that there is a feminine spray (you know, the stuff women are supposed to spray on our snatches so we smell less like women and more like...) scented in grapefruit and thyme. No really, there is. At the risk of sounding like your granny, I'd like to offer the suggestion that you wouldn't need grapefruit/thyme scented lady-bits if you weren't doing something that necessitated deodourising. Yeah, I just couldn't make grapefruit/thyme jelly after that, I mean...*shudder* Why grapefruit and thyme? I don't get that. Is it supposed to be more elegant than some sort of generic powder scent? Geez, first they had to go and scent the tampons, and now...*shakes head*.

Back to the jelly (wasn't that fun? I mean, you don't get this kind of thing at Martha Stewart, you know). It turned out beautifully, though it takes some time to set-up. Don't despair if it seems a bit runny at first-give it time and you will be rewarded with a beautiful jelly.

Now for the serious stuff:

There's enough sugar in this stuff that I'd be seriously amazed if any bacteria got a chance to grow-but why tempt fate? Canning should be done in a clean environment with clean materials and by that point, you might as well take the extra ten minutes and run it all through a boiling water canner. I'm funny that way. I'm also old fashioned, and this business of sterilising jars in the oven is foolish. If you have a dish washer (I don't) use it on the hot cycle, but you can also save water and just heat the jars in the canner using the water you have to boil anyway. My point is, you should sterilise your jars, and you should use a water bath canner. OK-that's my lecture.

The recipe gave me 7 half pint jars and a bit extra for the fridge. Not bad. How much you end up with will depend on how much juice is in your grapefruit, how well you drain, etc. If you end up with extra juice, drink it, or make a syrup, or salad dressing, or whatever-you'll find a use. A bit under? Add some water to reach 4 cups. Don't panic, OK?

You Will Need:

4-5 large grapefruits, peels scrubbed really well
Water to cover
1 tablespoon fennel/anise seeds
1 package dry pectin
5 cups granulated sugar

Chop the grapefruits, peel and all and place into a large pot. Add just enough water to cover. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook, covered until peels are soft-about 25 minutes. Strain through a jelly bag and do not squeeze the bag (or you will have cloudy jelly). This may take a few hours.

Measure 4 cups of the juice and place in a large stockpot with 1 tablespoon anise/fennel seeds. Add the powdered pectin and bring to a rolling boil over high heat. Add the sugar quickly and stir constantly bringing it back to a rolling boil. Boil hard for 1 minutes, still stirring. Remove from heat. Ladle into jars leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Wipe threads clean with a damp towel and place heated lids on. Adjust bands, place in canner. When all are done, bring canner to a boil, cover and process 10 minutes (adjusting time for your altitude). Remove lid carefully (away from you, idiot...that's experience speaking) and let cool 5 minutes longer in canner. Let stand, undisturbed and away from drafts at least 12 hours. Test for seals.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Orange Rice With Peas

This rice was served with a yoghurt/ginger baked tofu. The rice was better received than the tofu. For the record, there was nothing wrong with the tofu, it just wasn't fried, or baked with oil, and they found it a bit boring (healthy). They liked the rice though, so I'll share that recipe instead. This would make an excellent filling for Cornish game hens.

You Will Need:

1 3/4 cup orange juice (I used fresh because I had oranges, but I won't insist you do the same)
Grated zest of 1 orange (if you have it)
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon dried, minced onion
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
Salt to taste
1 cup white rice
1/2 cup chopped parsley
1 cup cooked, frozen peas

Rinse and drain the rice. Melt the butter in the pan and add the zest, onion, thyme and salt. Cook just for a minute or so. Stir in juice, and bring to a boil. Stir in rice, cover and simmer 15 minutes. remove from heat, let stand 5 minutes longer, then fluff with a fork. Let stand a few minutes longer before tossing with peas and parsley.

At The DMV

DMV Employee (to Danny): "I'll bet you're the top of your class."

Danny: "I guess so...I'm homeschooled, and an only child."

DMV Employee: (conspiratorially) "So, do you like your teacher?"

I would like it noted that the new technology they use to photograph and store images makes people look like Gertrude Stein. No really, it does. I thought it was just my photograph, but then Mr. ETB showed me the new license he got last month, and he looks like Gertrude Stein as well.

The poor woman taking the photographs insisted on re-taking it after the first one was so horrible, and then the second one was worse. She offered a third but really, there's only so much you can do with bad technology and my big, Eastern European, round peasant head.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Is That So?

Danny and Mr. ETB went to buy science supplies today.

Danny: (to slacker teenage clerk) We are buying bulbs with krypton gas in them.
Clerk: Oh, yeah, neat.
Danny: Yes, it is quite common to fill bulbs with noble gases.

Speaking of science supplies-I stopped in the Christmas clearance aisle at Shop-Ko today and bought coloured Christmas tree replacement bulb sets for .27 cents. I don't light up my tree, but Danny burns through many a bulb experimenting with batteries and wire. At .27 cents a package, he can hook as many damned batteries up to it as he likes...unlike the fancy-pants bulbs that cost a buck a piece, noble gases and all.

Yesterday, he built a working telegraph involving a small metal wrench, a metal light tower from his antique model trains, a magnet and some wire. Oh, and then, seeing how he had a working telegraph, he taught himself Morse code. I barely remember being six, but I'm pretty sure I wasn't building working telegraphs, or taking apart my old toys for "parts." Also learned from child-you can pull the LED out of old Firefly toothbrushes (those are the ones that flash to let you know how long to brush, you know, because kids today are too micro-managed to just brush their teeth until they're clean, and need a flashing light to tell them when the task is completed) and use that sucker again for all manner of scientific experimentation. What are you doing with your old toothbrushes, cleaning the grout in your tile, or something equally exciting?

I'm afraid this is how it starts, and next week he'll be tearing the gears out of my hand mixer to build a super-collider or something.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Chickpeas on Toast

I made the recipe HERE. It was indeed quick, and well received by two hungry boys. It reminded me of Ful Madames, but much, much simpler. I suspect it would be good with fava beans.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Too Good To Be Fudge

It should have a better name, because this is no run-of-the-mill fudge you get in the damn Wisconsin Dells (or Cape Cod, or wherever your fudge based memories originate). You know, I almost thought better of posting the phrase, "fudge based memories" because I know what sort of search hits that will bring, but what the hell, I'm bored. Go ahead, entertain me.

But you must promise to make this candy! Promise me. Swear it right now (I mean come on, if you're gonna make an oath it ought to be for something worth it). Yeah, I'll wait. Done? OK here's the recipe.

You Will Need:

4 tablespoons dark cocoa powder
3 cups granulated sugar
1 cup heavy cream
3 tablespoons corn syrup (yes, it will make you obese-it has NOTHING to do with the cup of heavy is ALL the corn syrup)
Pinch of salt
2 tablespoons butter
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Combine cocoa, sugar, cream, corn syrup and salt in a large heavy pot. Cook to 236 degrees F. Remove from heat and let cool 5 minutes. yes, you must wait the entire five minutes or the Windigoes will get you (We're having a blizzard at the moment-never mind). After five minutes, beat in the butter and extract with a wooden spoon and beat like hell. Beat it like Windigoes are trying to eat your brains and the only thing standing between you and that Windigo is a wooden spoon. Keep going until your fudge is nice and glossy and the angry Windigoes leave. Pour it into a buttered dish and don't touch it (or the Banshee will get you) and when it is cool, cut it into squares. The trimmings don't have calories (a fact, really) so make sure to cut your squares nice and neat even if you have to keep cutting away at the edges. Makes about 2 pounds of Windigo chasing fudge.

This Cake Was Supposed To Be A Pie

-but the crust sank, and the filling never set, and I tossed them both in the dustbin. Typically, I'd try to salvage it, but I couldn't face it today. This cake is pretty much foolproof, which is good, because I've been in damned fool territory all day. Luckily, I raced out yesterday to stock up on oranges (I mean, pounds and pounds of oranges) so fresh squeezed juice for the filling wasn't an issue.

In other news, I taught Danny double digit multiplication today because he seemed ready. He still can't tie his shoes, but the maths thing is going well.

The oranges-good god people, I can't stop eating oranges. Man alive, I love oranges! Under half a buck a pound? I might have, I did not. I did not. This really does seem like an exceptional crop. If I didn't have a freezer stocked with dead deer, I'd freeze some juice.

The cake and filling are both from the 1950 edition of The Betty Crocker Picture Cookbook. The frosting was improvised and thankfully came out OK though a bit on the sweet side.

You Will Need:

For the Cake:

2/3 cup softened butter
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
3 large eggs
2 1/2 cups sifted cake flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup whole milk
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Grease and flour 2 9 inch baking pans. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Cream together sugar and butter until light. Beat in eggs one at a time. Sift dry ingredients and add vanilla to milk. Add each in alternating additions. Pour into pans, shake to even and bake 25-30 minutes or until cakes test done. Cool 15 minutes in pan, then remove to rack. Cool completely before filling and frosting.

For the filling:

1 cup granulated sugar
4 tablespoons cornstarch (cornflour)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup orange juice
2 tablespoons grated orange zest
1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons butter

Combine in a saucepan and cook over medium heat, whisking constantly until it boils. Cook 1 minute longer until it thickens. Cool completely before using.

For the frosting:

4 tablespoons butter
4 squares unsweetened chocolate (4 ounces)
2 2/3 cup sifted confectioner's sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
(about 1/4 cup heavy cream)

Melt the butter and chocolate over low heat in a heavy pan. Beat in sugar, salt, and extract. Beat in cream until you have a spreadable frosting. Continue beating until it holds a shape for frosting. Use immediately. Frost over a rack as it really tends to drip, then scoop up the extras on the pan below and one will miss a few tablespoons of frosting...or half a cup....

Thank You

I was having quite the day, when I sat down at the computer and noticed all the traffic coming from Sweet Juniper. Awwww, that's so cool. Everyone likes a nod of approval-but a nod of approval from someone you like? That's so fantastic.

And Suddenly, You're Faced With A Veggie Haggis

-for Burns Night, on the 25th. There just aren't enough holidays where you get to recite poetry to food. I even bought turnips which are now so expensive they're some sort of luxury food. I know, I know, the world is so incredibly screwed-up, starting with vegetarian haggis.

We were only expecting about an inch of snow today (with more on the way over the weekend) but just in the last few hours, we've accumulated about 2 1/2. The dog just looks at me with hatred, like I had some personal hand in making it snow. He was a rescue dog that was flown to the States from Puerto Rico. He probably regrets that on days like today-god, a tropical beach sounds awfully nice, doesn't it?

Haggis. A vegetarian haggis. Really, as the kids say, "what the fuck?!"

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Interesting Facts/Good Advice

Danny: "Avocado comes from the Aztec work for testicle. If your testicles turn green, you should probably see a doctor."

On the one hand, I'm glad he's learning so many interesting things from random reading, but I sort of wish he wouldn't share these interesting facts unprovoked. I suppose it wasn't completely unprovoked-we were in the supermarket buying avocados-but still.

Best Crank Call Ever

I was reminded of it this morning when the radio station's server went out. Year's ago, Mr. ETB worked at an ISP.

"Hey, I was wondering if your servers were running?"
"Yes, they're running."
"Well you'd better go catch them!"

Ah, the good old days.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

If There's One Thing I Like More Than Anything Else...

...well, OK but this is a family themed blog, so drag your collective minds out of the gutter and check out the song Danny wrote:

If there's one thing I like more than anything else
It is a
Big old plate of lasagna.

Take those lasagna noodles
Right off the shelf and make me a
Big old plate of lasagna.

Stick a cork in your mouth
I don't need any help
Make me a big old plate of lasagna!

Yeah, that kid-what can I say? I like the, "stick a cork in your mouth" part. Needless to say, I made a lasagna tonight, and with any luck it will stretch into three nights worth of dinners. I have extra sauce so as I suggested to my husband..."Imagine the pastabilities!" He called me a name. It wasn't a nice one. It referred to my intellectual abilities.

And in other news:

My stove won't turn off-it has a broken, "Master burner control." Yeah, that was a new one for me too. I pulled the coil off that burner and I'll unplug the stove before bed. Major pain the behind, but the part is easily replaced. Have I mentioned how much I HATE this Amana oven? Really, I haven't? I HATE it! I paid extra for what I thought would be a better appliance and it is complete and utter crap. Oh, yes it is. The burners don't fit right so everything scorches unless you keep turning the pan (makes frying an egg a bitch). The stovetop will not stay propped for cleaning. The pan below the stove for holding extra baking sheets, etc. falls off the track EVERY time I pull it out. How about the oven racks that are bent? Honest-to-god, they are bent. I'm not baking anything heavy enough to bend an oven rack-it isn't like I bake turkey or large animals. I don't think I've ever needed to replace oven racks because they bent. Then again, I've never had the coils on the burner bend either. It isn't like I bought a cheap appliance either-we paid extra for this piece of junk. Oh, I could go on (and on, and on). but I think I've vented enough. My now not-quite two year old stove needs a burner control replaced. I've been using ovens/stoves for a hell of a lot longer than that without having a burner that won't turn off. Take a wild guess if I'll ever buy another Amana product again.

Anyway, at least they have a big old plate of lasagna to keep them fed until we fix the oven (again).

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Bread Dumplings in Paprika Sauce

So I finally made dumplings from my stale sourdough. I'm surprised I didn't think of it sooner, but I guess it took a cold, snowy night to stick in my brain. I didn't eat them (I'm sorry, I know this is sort of a heresy to admit, but I don't really like dumplings. Shhh...we'll keep that a secret between me and you and the Internets). The boys dug them, so swell-another use for old bread.

What really made them interesting was the sauce, a white sauce flavoured with onions, mushrooms, and paprika.

As I didn't really measure for the dumplings (hard to know how much milk a certain bread will absorb, etc.) I'll leave you with the recipe for the sauce.

You Will Need:

1 carrot, thinly sliced
a handful of chopped parsley
1 onion, chopped
1 cup tinned mushrooms (really, that's what I used) drained
2 heaping tablespoons sweet paprika
1/2 teaspoon dried tarragon
a knob of clarified butter
Salt and Pepper
2 tablespoons clarified butter
2 tablespoons AP flour
2 cups Whole Milk

In a frying pan, cook the carrot, parsley, onion, mushrooms, paprika and tarragon in the butter until soft. Remove from heat and adjust salt and pepper.

In a small pan, melt the butter over medium heat and cook with the flour until it foams. Whisk in the milk and cook over medium heat until it thickens. Remove from heat, add vegetables and sauce and mix well. Pour over dumplings. Keep warm until ready to serve.

Cranberry/Pear Chutney

This was a small batch I tossed together with leftover cranberries from baking the previous bread. You can play with the ingredients, amounts, and spices of course-this is more a general idea. I skipped the vinegar in favour of lemon juice because I had juiced more lemons than I needed. As an attempt to use up odds and ends, it turned out nicely. I served it on some cheese crackers (also baked from odds and ends in the fridge) before dinner to great raving from the little one.

You Will Need:

2 cups chopped cranberries
1 large pear, chopped
1 large onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup chopped, candied oranges
1/3 cup lemon juice
1 tablespoon dried rosemary
1 heaping cup brown sugar
1 heaping teaspoon salt
A few red pepper flakes
A splash of water if needed

Cook over moderate heat until thickened. Makes about 1 1/2 pints. Store in fridge and use within a couple weeks.

Cranberry/Candied Citrus Bread

Just when I've convinced myself that I've made all the, "good" quickbreads, I find a new favourite. This one is adaptable-the original recipe called for lemon, I added cranberries and candied oranges. What makes it so spectacular is the topping, a simple mix of granulated sugar and lemon juice that is poured over the cake aft6er being removed from the oven. Really, a fresh-tasting delicious quickbread.
I'm posting my changes, not the original recipe.

From Farm Journal Freezing and Canning Cookbook, 1963

You Will Need:

cup melted butter

1 1/4 cup granulated sugar, divided
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups AP flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup whole milk

2 cup candied orange slices (or peel, or 1 tablespoon grated lemon zest)
1 1/2 cups chopped fresh (or frozen) cranberries, divided
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Grease an 8 1/2x 4 1/2 x 2 3/4 pan (or a large loaf pan, if all else fails)

Blend the butter with 1 cup of the sugar and beat in the eggs one at a time (I did all his with a wooden spoon, as a mixer tends to over-do quickbreads). Sift together dry ingredients and add, alternating with milk. Fold in candied peel and 1 cup of the cranberries. Pour into pan and scatter remaining cranberries on top. Bake until it tests done-about 80 minutes. Mix together the lemon juice and remaining 1/4 cup of sugar, leaving it somewhat crystalline. Pour and brush over the hot loaf. Let sit until mostly cool in pan on rack, remove from pan and cool until cold. Wrap tightly in wax paper and cling film and store 24 hours before cutting. Also freezes well (because the recipe is from a freezing cookbook, duh).

But What About, Dickcheese?

Sorry, couldn't resist that headline. So hey, the Globe and Mail has an article about the making cheese out of breastmilk fad (yes, a fad-really!) and I thought it would be a super opportunity to link to THIS gem. I still can't believe people leave comments and don't get that it is (and clearly labeled as such) a joke. I'm a bad person, obviously, but that little blog brings me such joy every time I see a new, outraged comment.

I'd do a post about how we're doomed as a civilisation, etc. but that would be restating the obvious.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Onion and Garlic Jam

Another recipe inspired by an old issue of Food and Wine, but I made some major changes to it. Firstly, you do not need to put onion jam through a blender. The chunkiness is what gives it character-otherwise you might as well roast and mash some garlic. What's more, I added sugar and herbs.

My favourite onion jam involves Port and butter, but this suited the eggplant dish I was serving it with.

You Will Need:

2 large onions, chopped
6 cloves garlic, chopped
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary

In a large pot, cook the onions, garlic, sugar and oil over low heat, covered stirring occasionally to prevent sticking. It should take about an hour for the onions to carmelise. 15 minutes before the hour is up, add the salt and spices.

Transfer to a shallow dish and chill quickly, then transfer to jars. Use within a week, and keep chilled. Makes just about a pint.

Cabbage "Cake"

The original recipe called for 1/2 pound of slab bacon-whatever that is. I omitted it and didn't try using a bacon-type substitute. This made a nice, meatless dinner, and if you wanted it vegan the butter could be switched with oil as well.

The recipe is from The Best of Food and Wine, 1987 Collection. It takes quite a bit of time, but I made the cabbage filling well-ahead and had no difficulty assembling it all later.

You Will Need:

1 large head of cabbage-about 3 pounds
1 large onion, chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon caraway seeds
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 large baking potato peeled and finely grated
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons water

Remove and discard 3 or 4 of the toughest outer leaves of the cabbage. Cut a deep core so that leaves will separate. Place the head in a large pot of boiling water. As the leaves begin to loosen, remove the next 6 or 7 to a bowl. Keep boiling until 10 leaves can be removed. Take out the head. return the 10 leaves to the pot and boil until tender and translucent-about 15-20 minutes. Drain. Coarsely chop the first 6 or 7 leaves and enough of the whole head to total 6 cups. Reserve remaining whole leaves.

In a large skillet, heat the oil and cook the onion, chopped cabbage, caraway seeds, salt and pepper over moderate heat until cabbage is lightly browned-about 30 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool to room temp-or make ahead to this point and chill.

Add Potato and egg to cabbage mixture, and combine well. Melt 1 tablespoon of butter in a frying pan and then set aside, off heat. Arrange leaves of cabbage with stalk part to centre with edges overlapping the pan. Mound the filling in the centre, then fold the leaves inward to cover the top. Add 2 tablespoons of water around the pan and cover. Cook over moderate heat 20 minutes.

Remove to a plate, sliding carefully, then invert to another plate. Add the remaining butter to the pan, then slide the cake back onto pan. Cover and cook 20 minutes longer. Remove to a plate to serve, letting it stand a few minutes before slicing.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Quick Cinnamon Coffee Cake

This recipe comes from my well-worn copy of, From Amish and Mennonite kitchens. This is a really fantastic recipe to have when you need a simple, but delicious cake-in a hurry.

You Will Need:

1 1/2 cups sifted cake flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
2/3 cups sugar
1/4 cup shortening, melted (I used butter)
1 egg (I used large)
1/2 cup milk (I used whole)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract (I increased this to 1 teaspoon)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease an 8x8 pan.

Sift dry ingredients together. Add wet ingredients and meat with a hand mixer at medium speed for about 2 minutes. Pour into pan. While cake bakes for 25-30 minutes, prepare topping.


4 tablespoons melted butter
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (I had pre-mixed cinnamon sugar so it was a bit stronger)

My addition-whipped cream sweetened with icing sugar

When cake is baked, remove from oven and brush with the butter. Top with the sugar and return to oven. Bake 5 minutes longer.

I served it slightly warm, and it was delicious-and actually somewhat light. This would make a wonderful breakfast on a cold morning.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Sounded Good At The Time

You know how sometimes you think, "An orange, some tootsie-rolls, and a generous slug of brandy sounds good for a quick dinner", and then you find out it isn't. Yeah, I know, but they were eating some leftover chickpea and cous cous thing and well, I had a bag of oranges,,,and tootsie rolls...and brandy.

Like you never do that, right?


I have marmalade on the brain today, and look-festival time! I won't be shipping anything off for judging, but it does have me thinking of all the wonderful possibilities this year with what seems to be a good crop of Moro oranges. I did purchase far too many lemons today with the intention of preserving them in salt brine, but a small batch of cranberry lemon marmalade would probably be welcome. I've probably mentioned before how fanatically I love oranges, and of course marmalade.

I wish I could get Danny to share my love of citrus, but he's solidly in the grape jelly camp. I put up a few batches when the Concords were in season, so that should last us through, but his refusal to explore other toast-topping options seems almost stubborn. I suppose we like what we like, and who am I to mess with his morning (don't ask what happened when I switched the child's tea to PG from red Rose).

Anyone have a favourite recipe they'd like to share?

Actual Conversations

Me: Look at THIS a publisher will give you free books if you get a literary tattoo from one of their books.

Mr. ETB: Is it Grove Press?

Danny: What do you call a vegetarian with diorrhea?

Me: What?

Danny: A "salad blower."

Friday, January 14, 2011

Mille-Feuilles, Vanilla Slices, Napoleans, Or Whatever The hell They Call Them Where YOU Live

Yes, I made them for Danny, as promised. Puff paste really isn't that difficult, but it is time consuming. Honestly, it took a few years of making it regularly to feel comfortable rolling it out without worry of the butter breaking through, doing the turns wrong, etc. That said, even slightly imperfect puff paste is still pretty terrific, provided you like butter (I'm assuming you do, if you're at this blog).

I had extra trimmings which I made into palmiers. That was a mistake-because they look so innocent, you keep nibbling away at them through the day-or I do anyway. They're scraps for heavens can't become obese eating scraps...usually. Anyway, be warned that those scraps add up particularly when doused in sugar.

The recipe for puff paste I used HERE is my favourite, though sometimes I exchange 1 cup of high gluten bread flour for AP depending on what I'm doing. I did that today.

To Bake:

Roll puff paste to 1/8 inch thickness and cut into rectangles. Place on buttered baking sheets and bake at 450 degrees F. for about 12 minutes. Remove from oven, and with a thin knife, carefully split them. If they are still undone in the centre, return them to the oven for a few minutes. Cool on rack.

The filling is also pretty straightforward. I had some tinned apricots in syrup left from a few evenings ago, so I boiled them down to a jam, sieved them through fine mesh and used it for one layer of the dessert. The pastry cream recipe is as follows:

2 large egg yolks
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons flour (I used Wondra for this because it mixes easier)
2/3 cup scalded whole milk
1/2 teaspoon gelatin softened in 4 teaspoons water
1 tablespoon vanilla extract (yeah, that's a lot-adjust to your taste)
1/3 cup heavy cream, whipped

In a bowl, beat the sugar and egg yolks until light. Beat in the flour. Meanwhile, have milk heating. Slowly beat the milk into the eggs in stream and return everything to the pan you used for heating the milk and bring to a boil over medium heat, whisking. Cook 2 minutes longer. Remove from heat, whisk in the softened gelatin, and vanilla. Cover with waxed paper and chill. When cold, fold in the beaten whipped cream.

To assemble:

Make one layer jam, and one layer pastry cream. For the top, either dust with icing sugar, or make a glaze. I can't decorate for my life, but these look OK haphazard decorating aside. At the last, I used the remaining glaze with some cocoa powder beaten in for the contrast. I probably should have been neater, but I'm not that sort of blogger.

I wonder what the kid will dare me to bake next?

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Adventures With Stale Bread

Savoury Bread Pudding edition.

This is so easy, you cannot screw it up (well, of course theoretically you can, but trust me, you won't).

You Will Need:

Stale bread cut into 1 inch cubes-about a quart, more or less
1 package frozen spinach, cooked and squeezed dry of moisture
2 cups heavy cream (sure, you can substitute half milk, or all milk)
5 large eggs
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon dried garlic granules
1 tablespoon dried onion flakes
2 cups grated cheese (I used cheddar and romano)

Cut the cubes early in the day and let dry on a baking sheet.

Get a really big pan-9x13 is good, and butter it generously. Arrange the cubes in the bottom. Whisk everything together except the spinach and cheese. When blended, stir in the rest. Pour over bread cubes, pressing to get them all soaked. Let sit, covered in fridge for 1-2 hours.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees f. Cover pan with foil loosely, and bake 45 minutes. Remove foil and continue baking another 15 minutes, or until done. Pudding should be golden and nicely puffed. When your family asks what smells so good, make something up-under no circumstances should you admit it is stale bread with dried garlic, onions and frozen spinach.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Please Admire My Bread

My shaping technique is improving.

Not Poutine...

...but really fantastic junk food anyway.

Deep fried sweet potatoes


Spicy Mushroom Gravy


Cheese curds


I don't really think you can claim it as health food, though sweet potatoes are rather nutrient rich.

And Another Thing...

...It really bothers me when grown women insist in speaking in a little girl voice that rises noticeably at the end of a sentence as though asking a question. I really hate that.

Oh, and Get Offa My Lawn.

Snow Excuses

Hear, hear!

What's more, the excuse doesn't really work in the Midwest in general. It snows here in the winter. Unless you live in Western Mass. today because frankly, you're so screwed. But everyone else-no excuses.

I have to admit shock that school was canceled for two days in Lincoln, and Omaha because of a few inches of snow. A Few inches of snow. Picture me rolling my eyes. I used to get up at 5 AM to dig my car out and get to work by 8. I kept a shovel and kitty litter in the trunk of the car. Just last evening, I had to explain the concept of a butane lighter to Mr. ETB for dealing with frozen doors and locks on the car (he tried the old, "Let's kick the door and see if it opens", which it didn't, but succeeded in breaking the handle instead). We live in a cold climate. Geez, you know people live in even colder, snowier places than Chicago, and Omaha. I swear, that's true. There's this country to our north called, Canada. You don't see Canadians canceling school for 3 inches of snow, or because the mercury drops into negative digits.

Now, if you would-Get Offa My Lawn!

Candied Orange Slices

I used Cara Cara, Zeal Navels, and Moro Blood Oranges. If that isn't January, I don't know what is.

When they're dry, the slices can be dipped in dark chocolate. The cooking syrup has already been strained into a jar with some brandy. Grapefruit is up next. I love citrus-I think that's the only way I manage through the Midwestern winter.

Same Drink, Red Wine Version

Dried orange peels, cinnamon, cloves. Original recipe for white, HERE.

Oh Sure, Blame The jews

America's Dumbest Politicians.

At least we can be pretty sure she's writing her own speeches, because no professional speech writer would be able to manage that level of gaffe.

I wonder, if she even gets what she said, or just herd the term and thought it sounded kinda badass?

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Neat Tricks With Leftover Egg Whites

Meringue shells flavoured with anisette oil, a sweetened whipped cream filling, and apricots.

Note-don't assemble these until the last minute as the shells break down rather quickly.

I Made A Million Pounds of Baked Beans

OK, that's a slight exaggeration, but it still is quite a bit of food. These baked beans...what can I say about them other than who knew beans could be that magnificent? I credit the homemade mustard, but really, having six hours to slow-cook them in the oven does wonders for most beans (this works even better with lima beans).

I've made this before, HERE. This time, I used a combination of Blackstrap molasses and Golden syrup which seemed about right. I also had the homemade mustard. I know some people will balk at the prepared ketchup, and if I used enough of it to bother canning my own in the summer, I would, but truthfully-this is the only thing we use it in. Potatoes get vinegar, and we don't really do things like veggie burgers. If you really hate commercial ketchup, a good approximation could probably be made from tomato sauce/paste/spices and vinegar. I do encourage you to make the brown sugar by mixing your own molasses and sugar together because those bastards that sell supermarket brown sugar are just laughing at you as they count the fistfuls of money they make off suckers that buy their over-priced brown sugar. The homemade stuff doesn't go hard either, in my experience.

Tomorrow, steamed brown bread to go with the leftovers.

A Pound of Cheddar for Six Slices of Toast?

I have no objection to Welsh Rarebit, but under no circumstances should you use a pound of cheddar to make four servings. I thought it had to be a mis-print, but it was the New York Times. Geez, that's a lot of cheese-and a roux of butter and flour. I made a rather nice rarebit for dinner with half the cheese and butter. I'm not afraid of fat, but that's just obscene.

You Will Need:

6 slices of thick bread (I had whole wheat made with honey and molasses that was excellent)
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
1/2 teaspoon powdered mustard
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon brandy
3/4 cup liquid (I had bean-cooking liquid left, but you could also use beer, or milk, whatever you like)
1/2 lb. grated cheddar cheese

Melt the butter in a saucepan. Add the flour and cook until foaming. Over medium heat, whisk in the liquid, mustard, and Worcestershire. Cook, whisking until thickened slightly. A handful at a time, mix in the cheese until it melts. Add the brandy, remove from heat and pur into a shallow dish to chill. When firm, spread on toast that has been hard-toasted on one side and lightly toasted on the other. Spread the cheese on the soft side. Place under the broiler until cheese melts. There, you just saved a bottle of beer and half a pound of cheese.

Conversations With My Son, Aged Six

In the kitchen:

Danny: You have to make Mille-Feuilles this week.
Me: I do?
Danny: Yes, you promised.
Me: I don't know, I'd need puff paste and....
Danny: So make some puff paste, it isn't like you don't know how.

In the car:

Danny: I don't understand this song. What is it called?
Me: The Man on the Silver Mountain.
Danny: I don't think I like it.
Me: Can you sing like Ronnie James Dio?
Danny: No...
Me: Then shut up.

Danny on dictionaries:

Danny: I don't like this dictionary.
Me: Why?
Danny: It doesn't have thumb-tabs. That's just wrong. When I'm dictator of the world all dictionaries will have thumb tabs. I don't have all day to look things up.

There's An App For That

Book of the Dead for iPhone.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Guess Who's Old?

No, not me. After some consideration, Mr. ETB acknowledged that being eligible for the, "senior discount" at the grocer on Wednesday might make this aging thing worthwhile. I suspect we'll be planning our larger shopping excursions for mid-week from now on. Mind, he isn't collecting an old age pension or anything, but stores have started offering the, "Save 10 % because you're an old fart" discount well before the standard 65 when people used to retire before we all had to basically work until we drop. Wow, that got kind of off topic for a cheerful Birthday post. Anyway, I baked him a fancy cake because that seems like the sort of thing one's expected to do for a milestone birthday.

I baked the genoise, and made the buttercream from my cherished edition of La Cuisine. That's a special birthday cake-not some Betty Crocker shit from the 50's cookbook filled with baking powder and Crisco. No, this bugger involved warming eggs over a double boiler (I don't do double boilers) and then whipping them until they triple in volume. It involved beating sugar syrup into eggs for the frosting. I don't do cooked buttercreams, but I made an exception this time. If he's still alive at 100 (and I'm still around to bake it) I'll make a cooked buttercream again. Until then, we're back to beating confectioner's sugar into softened butter-OK?

Yes, the light is ass in here-I'm sorry. It snowed all day long, and will tomorrow as well. It is gloomy, gloomy, gloomy and soon we'll be looking at -9 degrees F. I'd be depressed about that except I have nowhere at all I need to be, and I have a rather fancy cake to nibble at. OK, inhale. I'm inhaling cake.

Seriously though, if you don't own Raymond Oliver's La Cuisine-buy it. I have no idea if it is still in print, but I occasionally stumble across them at used bookstores and library sales. Someday, you'll want to bake a hare in pastry (hey, you never know) or need a good recipe for lacquered duck (we had that last evening) or perhaps even a fancy cake. You don't want to trust expensive ingredients to idiots like me posting recipes on the Internet. No, for the really costly items, you need La Cuisine. Really, you do.

By the way, if you have some extra duck fat sitting around, a couple tablespoons to 1/3 cup popcorn will make the most mind-blowing snack you've ever tasted. I really didn't think it would work, but what do you know? Well, I'll tell you what I know-duck fat makes excellent popped corn. I can't wait to try that with rendered chicken fat (insert Jewish joke HERE________).

For The Genoise:

7 eggs (I used large)
1 cup granulated sugar

1 3/4 cups sifted AP flour
1/2 cup clarified butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour pans (I used 9 inch, though I think 8 would have been nicer).

In a bowl, break up the eggs with the sugar and place in a double boiler over simmering water (I used a bowl in a strainer over a larger pot). Whisk until eggs are warm to the touch. remover, and with an electric mixer, beat until tripled in volume and eggs ribbon when dropped from a spoon. Alternate adding the sifted flour and clarified butter in small amounts , folding gently with each addition. Be very gentle as it will collapse if you don't take care. Pour gently into pans and bake 20-25 minutes or until cakes spring back lightly when done. Cool on racks.

For the cake syrup:

(I came up with this one, but you'll want some sort of cake syrup as genoise tends to be kind of dry).

1 cup water
2 cups cinnamon sugar
1 teaspoon instant coffee

Whisk until dissolved, then reduce to syrup. Cool. Use to brush cake layers before frosting.

For The Buttercream:

1 3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
4 large egg yolks
1 cup softened butter (cut in pieces
4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate melted with 3 tablespoons water

In a saucepan over low heat, dissolve the sugar in water. Brush down sides with a wet brush, then cover. Cook five minutes, then remove lid, cook to 238 degrees F.

Meanwhile, beat the eggs until light and thick. Add sugar syrup in a slow stream, beating constantly with a mixer. immediately after adding syrup, mix in the chocolate. When thick, begin beating in the butter, a small bit at a time. When thickened, spread on cake that has been primed with cake syrup.

Note-sometimes, the buttercream will hold better if chilled for 20 minutes and then re-beaten until light. It depends on what sort of frosting you like, but if it fails to firm up, try the fridge for a bit first.

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Twelfth Night Cake/Three Kings Cake/Galette des Rois

The recipe comes from Time Life Old Fashioned Christmas Cookbook. I didn't have rice flour, but I had rice and an electric coffee mill. Problem solved.

You Will Need:

1 cup butter, softened
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
1 1/2 cups sifted confectioner's sugar
3/4 cup AP flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup rice flour
3 eggs, separated, plus 3 yolks-the whites at room temperature
Confectioner's sugar for dusting

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a tube pan.

In a large bowl, beat the butter and zest until creamed. Beat in the sugar until light and fluffy. Sift the flour with the salt, baking powder, and rice flour. Add 1/3 of the flour mixture to the creamed mixture. Add 2 of the egg yolks and beat until smooth. Add the rest of the flour, then the rest of the egg yolks. Beat until smooth. In another bowl, beat the egg whites until stiff. Stir 1/3 of the whites into the batter, then fold the rest in gently. Pour into pan and bake 1 hour or until cake tests done. Cool in pan on rack 10 minutes, then remove and cool completely on rack. Dust with sugar and decorate with a crown before serving, if you like.

Homemade Mustard

I was inspired by the recipe at Local Kitchen, HERE, but then I did my own thing because I don't keep beer on hand, and my blender is a piece of crap, and know. The original sounds wonderful, and it is probably a much more nuanced mustard than what I made, though I must say, mine came out rather well.

I used vermouth rather than beer. I also soaked the seeds for two days which softened them up a great deal more, thus eliminating the need to blend quite so long. After the mustard had cooked, I beat the living daylights out of it with a hand mixer. That worked much better than I would have anticipated. I really like the idea of using dried fruit in mustard, and if I make another batch, I'll try apricots and perhaps a sweet white wine. The malt vinegar was a great addition-maybe that's what really makes this mustard distinctive. Anyway, I'm inspired now, as I always believed mustard was something that couldn't be made at home. I guess that's wrong.

This is going to be so wonderful with homemade rye bread and venison sausage.

Earl Grey Caramels

I still had a box of Earl Grey left from making the brownies. Danny is happy enough to drink it, but I was eager to get it out of my cabinet. I can't drink it-I get the sensation of drinking a bar of soap. Thankfully, the taste (and scent) is less intense when made into candy. I ask you, is there anything caramel can't do?

This recipe makes quite a bit, as you can see. Make friends by sharing. No really, you should give away as much as you can because having a giant bag of wrapped caramels sitting on your counter is just asking to gain a few pounds.

You Will Need:

2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup corn syrup
1 cup butter
1 cup whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
2 bags Earl Grey tea

Infuse the cream gently over low heat with the teabags for 10 minutes. Remove bags and proceed with recipe.

In a large, heavy pot, combine everything, and stir constantly to prevent scorching. Have a buttered, 8x8 pan ready for the candy.

Cook the caramel until it reaches 248 degrees F. Carefully pour into prepared pan. Let cool. Remove from pan, cut into squares, and wrap in waxed paper. You now have two less bags of that ungodly tea in your cabinet. Get your six year old to drink the rest.

Seedless Sourdough Rye

I used my firm starter for this, rather than the usual 3 day potato water one. I skipped the seeds and shiny cornstarch crust for this one lightly dusted with flour. The result is a crisper crust, rather than chewy.

You Will Need:

1 1/2 cups fed, firm starter
2 cups water
1 tablespoon sugar
3 teaspoons salt
2 cups light rye flour
(about) 1 cup strong bread flour

In a large bowl, break up starter in 2 cups of room temperature water. Cover, let sit 12 hours.

Stir in sugar and salt, then mix in the rye, a cup at a time. Knead in remaining bread flour by hand. The dough will be very sticky. When dough has been well kneaded (it won't windowpane, so don't even worry about it) place it in a well-oiled bowl and let rise another 8-12 hours overnight. In the AM, flip the bowl over onto a work surface and let it fall out of the bowl. It will deflate some, but you don't want to knead or punch it down. Let it rest a few minutes, then lightly shape it and set it on a baking sheet dusted with cornmeal. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. This will need steam for the first 15 minutes of baking, so if you use a pan for that, set it in the oven as it preheats.

After shaping, dust the bread with flour and lightly cover it with a towel. Set it atop the oven as it heats and let rise 1 hour or until almost doubled. Slash, set in an oven with steam, and bake 15 minutes. Remove pan with water from oven, rotate sheet and bake another 15-30 minutes (it will depend on your oven, the bread, etc.) or until it is well browned, hollow sounding, or if using an instant read thermometer has reached 205 degrees F.

Cool on rack.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

The Way My Mind Works, Continued

At the supermarket:

I noticed the 50-ish man buying borderline posh beer, and bananas. He was dressed like someone gifted him new L.L. Bean shirts and trousers for Christmas. Anyway, my brain, being my brain thought, "He probably drives a Prius too."

I'm pleased to report, as I was making my way to the car park, Mr. Beer and Bananas was as his Prius.

Damn, I'm good. No really, I am.

Semolina Sourdough, Take One

I did everything, "wrong" making this loaf, and still ended up with what Mr. ETB claims is the best crust I've ever made. I didn't use steam, though I did brush the surface with water to make the topping stick-that might have accounted for the crustiness.

Roughly, here's what I did:

1 1/2 cups fed, firm starter
2 cups water
3 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
2 cups semolina pasta flour
1/2 cup bread flour

I made a sponge with the starter and water, which sat for 12 hours. I added the salt, sugar and 1 cup of the semolina and I mixed it (with a hand mixer!) on low for about ten minutes, gradually working in the last of the semolina flour. I added the bread flour by hand and kneaded for about ten minutes. The dough was placed in an oiled bowl and let rise about 12 hours overnight. In the AM, I punched it down, let it rest 20 minutes, then shaped it and placed the dough on a cornmeal dusted pan. I preheated the oven to 375 degrees F. and let the bread rise until almost doubled-about 1 1/2 hours atop the stove.

Before baking, it was brushed with water and tossed with a coating of bran flakes and poppy seeds. I baked it 25 minutes, then rotated the pan and baked another 25. I went for an internal temperature of 205 degrees F. Then, let it cool on a rack. That was it. No steam, no folds, nothing fancy at all. Suddenly, I've baked, "the best crust ever", and I feel like a dunce having devoted all that time to steam, Dutch ovens, and the like. It could have been luck. The crumb was open and lovely as well-achieved with a hand mixer of all things. I swear, this bread just broke all the rules. The one complaint I have is the crust colour-I would have preferred something deeper, so next time I'll try some malt powder. That it supposed to help with crust colour. Overall though, I can't really complain-I'm just not sure I could ever duplicate it.

Monday, January 03, 2011

"As Long As You're Driving MY Car, You'll Listen To MY Radio"

Technology to tune out radio stations in the car when teens drive. You're old enough to get charged as an adult if you run a stop sign and kill someone, but not old enough to listen to Howard Stern.

I'm sure they would never make this technology available to censor anything other than naughty words.

But That's How My Brain Works

Were I a decent sort of person, I'd likely be ashamed of the socially inappropriate things that pop into my head. Obviously, I'm not a decent person, because I come here and share these things with you. The fact that you keep coming back to read makes you just as horrible, so let's just get to it then, shall we?

There was a really gruesome serial killer in Britain that hunted his victims with a crossbow* and then canibalised them, earning him the uninspired moniker, "The Crossbow Cannibal." I mean, really, that's not really trying at all, is it? Anyway, I noticed an article about his sentencing in court and went ahead and clicked because heavens-you don't get a good cannibalism story every day, you know.

The high point of his trial apparently was when a daughter of a victim screamed at him, "You ate my mother, you cunt!" I'm still kind of bummed he didn't retort, "Oh, was that your mum I passed in the woods?" but I guess that's expecting too much, even for a serial killer. Bonus fun fact-the fellow was doing his doctorate in...wait for it...criminology. I swear to god, you can't make this shit up.

Anyway, being the horrible, horrible person I am, the first thing that popped into my head was, "I wonder if Danny would enjoy watching The Most Dangerous Game?" Right. A normal person would be revolted, but I start thinking classic film. Anyway, I promptly forgot about it because we no longer have a local movie rental store, and I haven't gotten my act together and subscribed to service that posts DVDs.

Last weekend, I was wandering past a display of four dollar DVD's at Shop-Ko when I saw this:
And once again, my awful, awful brain did that thing it does, and I stood before the display laughing aloud. I'm thankful no one asked me what was so funny because I wouldn't know how to explain the mental image of Fay Wray screaming, "You fucking cunt!"

The movie is colourised (bah!) but the black and white original is also on the same disk. I was surprised the movie is 75 years old, but I guess it was only about 50 the last time I watched it. I know what I'm watching this weekend.

* For people that came here via a search engine for "Crossbow, Nebraska" and the police brutality video, there's a classic movie for that one as well, Medium Cool.

Lemon Rice(Neebu Chawal) (sort of)

I made a few changes to the original recipe in, The Spice Box Vegetarian Indian Cookbook, but it still turned out wonderful. I wasn't sure how Danny would feel about something so tart, but he didn't complain (and cleared his plate) so I guess we can add this to the regular curry/rice rotation. That's good, I like variety in the weekly menu.

You Will Need:

3 cups rice
6 cups water

(I use slightly less water to cook my rice, but that's more a personal taste thing)

3 tablespoons oil
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
1 cup cooked green peas
2 tablespoons chopped stem ginger
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
4 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons chopped, preserved lemon (yeah, that was my addition)
5 fresh curry leaves
Salt to taste

Cook the rice well ahead (a few hours and least) and let cool in fridge. When completely cold, break it up.

In a very large pan or pot, heat the oil and over medium heat, fry the mustard seeds until they pop. Lower heat, add peas, ginger, and cook a few minutes until ginger is soft. Add lemon juice and curry leaves and cook a few minutes longer. Remove from heat, and stir in the rice a bit at a time (I needed a metal spatula to break it up well). Cover, and keep warm until ready to serve.

Aloo Bonda (sort of)

While it is true that these are indeed deep fried potato fritters, the filling really belongs in samosas. I improvised.

A few pointers are in order, for the novice deep-fry cook.

1). Really hot oil. If the oil isn't hot enough, they will become soggy.

2). Drain on a metal rack over a baking sheet-not on paper toweling-unless you like soggy fried food.

3). Don't crowd the pan-fry no more than four at a time in a large kettle.

4). Watch the temperature (use a thermometer) to be certain it returns to high heat between batches. Adding food cools it down.

5). For the love of god-don't leave the room.

6). Keep a cover for the frying kettle handy-just in case.

For the Filling:

4 large potatoes, boiled, mashed smooth and cooled (I put mine through a food mill, but you can use a hand masher).
1 cup cooked frozen peas
Madras curry powder to taste
Salt to taste
1/4 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 teaspoon cooking oil
A dash of hot pepper
1 teaspoon minced, dried onion.

Well before you plan to fry them, combine the potatoes, peas and spices in a large bowl and mix well. Chill until ready to use.

For the batter:

1 1/2 cups AP flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 large egg
(about) 1 cup whole milk

Sift dry ingredients and then add the egg. beat well and slowly add the milk until you have a thick, but still pourable batter-thicker than crepe batter, but enough that it will coat and stick to balls of mashed potatoes.

Form potatoes into golf-ball sized balls and set aside.

Heat the oil (use one with a high smoking point) in a deep, heavy kettle or whatever you use to fry. When oil is hot, dip a few balls at a time into batter, and using a slotted spoon let excess drip off before frying them. Turn a few times while cooking and fry until deeply browned. Drain. Serve hot.

Sunday, January 02, 2011

Mr. Eat The Blog Made Venison Chili

-and it really looks good. Smells pretty fantastic as well-and I say that as someone who has been vegetarian since 1985. He's promised me the recipe to post, so I'll be back with that later in the week.

I Bought This Sweater When I Was Ten

-I no longer have the bright blue corduroys to go with it, but that's probably all for the best. My sister had the same sweater, but I would guess (hope) she doesn't still have it. The cords were fantastic though, I hope she held onto those.

Yes, as a matter of fact, I did wear this sweater out today. In public...I mean, it was Wahoo, but still-that's public. It counts. I wore it to the dollar store to buy Ibuprofen. Wahoo is a little like being stuck in the 70's (and not the good part of the decade) so I don't really think anyone noticed.
The knit is so simple, but I really think it worked well with the weight of the yarn. As the sweater has aged, it matted a bit, which is nicer than it was, and the yarn has less sheen to it, which I also think worked favourably for it.

How many people can still go about wearing clothes they wore in grade four? I guess I'd better take care of it-Danny already has plans to wear it as well.

Venison Breakfast Sausage

I did not try any, nor did Danny but Mr. ETB and our little Poodle both enjoyed the sausage. This was just a small batch, to get a feel for the grinder, etc. For an appliance made in 1930, it still works pretty well.

Anyway, I only defrosted a small bag of meat to try this out-next weekend will be the whole curing/smoking, extravaganza. Overall, it went much better than I anticipated, and the washing-up was no terrible fuss. Oh how you all laughed when we stocked the freezer with beef suet...who's laughing now? Venison is pretty lean, so if you want to make sausage, it needs some fatty meat, or straight fat to keep it from being inedible.

I seasoned it with dried sage, salt and pepper, some fresh garlic and a bit of mace.