Sunday, July 23, 2006

New Schedule

So I started a new job last Monday.
Due to a long commute, I am now out of the house for 11 1/2 hours a day.
Tim does not want me to give up the blog, but I cannot see my making time to get on-line to upload photos and posts very often.

So, we will keep making new things, though dinner time is now about 8pm, and I may even keep taking photos of things, but I fear keeping up with my own blog will go by the wayside to having time with the dog and Tim.

Thanks to Ivonne for encouraging me to try blogging, and thanks to all my church friends who have been my readership.... things may still appear now and then, but certainly not several times a week anymore.

Here are some things that were never written about:
Sole in Parchment:

Turkey Scallopini:

My Cookbook Awards, blog:

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Cherry Coffee Cake

I had not read Ivonne's blog in a few days but I came home on Wednesday to Tim holding out a print-out of a recipe from her blog for cherry coffee cake.

"I wanna make this... we have everything we need," he said excitedly

And in fact, we did, so perhaps you do as well...
you will end your baking with a cake topped with a super-rich-buttery-and dense crumb topping with cherries and pecans mixed in to-boot.

Should I be ashamed to say the entire thing was consumed by the two of us in 3 days?


Friday, July 14, 2006

The Traditional and Not-so-Traditional

We spent the 4th of July at my parent's house in NJ. We made some of the traditional picnic-type fare, and also had some not-so-traditional things during our stay. Instead of spanning that week's worth of food across several posts, here is one-big Independence-week post:

The Traditional items included deviled eggs (my favorite form of the egg), created in the traditional manner with mayo, yellow mustard, some grated onion, and the necessary sprinkling of paprika.

I made a peach and cherry pie, which while perhaps not traditional, utilized the best fruits of the season, and I cut out some festive stars for the top crust!

On the non-traditional side of our week's food, my mom made a Turkey Muffaletta (for lack of a better description). She hollowed out a huge pumpernickel loaf of bread, smeared it with both mayo and dijon mustard, then stuffed it with turkey, spinach, onion and monterrey jack cheese. This stuffed loaf was wrapped in foil and baked till all those flavors mesh and the cheese had melted to hold it together. It was a great presentation, though not so pretty to eat.

Never did take a picture of our Pasta-Pesto-and Peas (another favorite of Ina's) which we made for a dinner we shared with my God-parents. My folks and my God-parents had just spent 20 days on a European river cruise together, and one of our reasons for going home was to hear stories and see pictures of their month-long adventures.

Kingsley traveled with us, and was a super boy in the car. He likes my folk's house cause it is quiet and he has wall-to-wall carpeting which provides traction for racing around! Like any good greyhound, the 2-minute bursts of energy are followed by a multi-hour nap (must get those 18 hours in each day)

Thursday, July 13, 2006

She bought a Tart Pan

After recently making several recipes in a springform pan that called for a tart pan, I finally bought a tart pan. I bought a 9" one and four mini-ones (4"). I used them for the first time after buying a big bag of cherries at the market, and calling a friend to come to dinner with her greyhound, Carla. (the photo is Carla and Kingsley each on a bed in our dining room)

I kinda made this recipe up as I went along, but the tart dough recipe came from Martha's Baking Handbook (a recent purchase after paging through it in every bookstore I went in since February)

Tart dough:
6Tbsp unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup confectioner's sugar
1/4 tsp salt
2 egg yolks
2 tsp heavy cream

Beat the butter and sugar until well combined. Add the egg yolks one-at-a-time. Add half of the flour and mix until just combined. Add the remaining flour, salt and the cream and mix till just combined. Dump onto a piece of plastic wrap and press into a disk. Wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours, or freeze for future use.

From here on out I made up what I did as I went along. I read several of Martha's tart recipes and Ina's, and proceeded from there. I rolled out the dough and pressed it in to each of the 4 small tart pans. I pricked the bottom with a fork and froze them for 15 minutes. I preheated my oven to 350. I covered each tart shell with foil and weighed them down with beans and blind baked the crusts for 10 minutes. While they baked Tim pitted cherries for me, and I mixed them with about 1 Tbsp flour and a couple tsp of sugar and some sliced almonds. To slightly cooled tart shells, I added my cherries and almonds, and baked them for another 15 minutes. After the tart cooled I removed them from the pans, and I glazed them with some melted apricot jelly, thinned with a bit of water. I just painted that mixture over all the surfaces with my pastry brush to try to make a shiny end-product.

They were pretty good. I certainly have tons of things to try, but I did like the more shortbread-like tart dough, versus a light and flakey pie dough. I will be excited to try some savory tarts for appetizers or first courses in my new mini-tart pans too!

Monday, July 10, 2006

Chocolate Cake with Mint Buttercream and Chocolate Frosting

We've been visiting my parents for the past week, so while food has been prepared, and even some photos taken... they are still tucked away in the camera, and no posts have been written. In the meantime, here is a rich dessert to tide you over:

This ended up being a super combo, so for those who like chocolate and mint, consider just a layer of mint, instead of a potentially overwhelming amount if you would have frosted the whole thing.

The cake and chocolate frosting are from this post and the mint buttercream is from Chockylit.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Lemon Risotto with Tequilla Lime Shrimp

I have never made risotto before, but it has always been on the list of things to try at some point. For some reason that urge hit me over the first weekend of summer heat. Note to self... save risotto for cool crisp evenings when you will be thrilled to have to stand over a hot stove for 30 minutes!

But this recipe for lemon-parsely risotto was such a summery sounding dish, so it was made on a summery evening.

From Real Simple, May 2006

3 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
2 cups Arborio rice
1 cup dry white wine
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 cup grated Parmesean
zest of 1 lemon
1/2 cup flat leaf parsely, chopped

Melt 2 Tbsp of the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the oinon and cook for 3 minutes. Add the rice and cook, stirring constantly for 2 minutes. Reduce heat, add the wine and cook, stirring frequently until the liquid is absorbed. Add the broth 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly and wiating until it is absorbed before adding more. This should take about 30 minutes total. The rice should be tender but still slightly firm. Remove from heat. Add the lemon jucie, salt, pepper, Parm and the remaining butter and stir until the butter melts. Spoon into individual bowls and top with the lemon zest and parsely.

I found the lemon zest and parsely to be key ingredients, and actually enjoy the left-overs more, as they had more zest than the original servings I doled-out.

Even though mine absorbed the stock in the 30 minutes, I felt that the rice needed more cooking time. It was a very dense dish (that is a lot of cheese) but I really liked it and will make it again. I am excited to try other risottos, as the flavor pairings are virtually endless, and what main course would not go with a think and creamy rice?

But this does requires all of your attention, so you will need a sous-chef to prepare the rest of your meal. Fortunatelty, I had Tim to peal, marinate, skewer and grill some shrimp to serve with our summery risotto.

Friday, June 30, 2006

Choir Appreciation Dinner

I am ashamed that it has taken me several weeks to write about a food event that I look forward to all year long... our Choir Appreciation Dinner.

As an incentive for members of the choir to be faithful, our choirmaster Dan prepares a 5 course, wine-with-every-course, meal for all who have attended 80% or more of the rehearsals and services throughout the year.

I have been fortunate to make the cut off each of the three years I have sung with this choir. Tim assures me that working in the kitchen (what some of the less than 80%-ers do as "penance") is just as fun... but I will continue to strive to reserve my seat at the banquet table.

This year's menu was a trip around the country, with several things coming from Dan's home state of Indiana. After our appetizer of pistachios and Left-Hand Sawtooth Ale from Colorado , we moved on to what will now be the famous fried biscuits from the Nashville House, in Nashville, IN. Umm, these are not biscuits, but much more like donut holes. They are crispy on the outside, soft and flaky on the inside (this sort of thing happens when you put the dough into an inordinate amount of Crisco!), and were served with the best apple butter I have ever had (and I am not a fan of apple butter). We had these not only as a first course, but served throughout dinner, which is a dangerous way to be served "bread".

The wines this year were perhaps my favorite in memory from meals past... the red from Spain particularly, (Codice Tempranillo 2003 – Rioja, Spain) and I was excited to see a bottle tucked into our stash of kitchen supplies to be brought home with us.

Other courses included a salad of romaine with raspberries, pecans, and brie, (mmm, brie) with a honey mustard vinaigrette, a fun curried shrimp couscous with peas (served with Ken Forrester Chenin Blanc 2005 – Stellenbosch, South Africa), and the main course was coque-a-Dan, chicken marinated with both red wine and Jack Daniels served over brown rice and a healthy side of asparagus.

Dessert was a peach kuchen accompanied by vanilla ice cream, a recipe that Dan was given by a host mom when his college orchestra toured through Lancaster County, PA a "few" years ago.

18 of us made the 80% cut-off this year (out of a choir approaching 50 members) as well as the 10-or-so folks helping out in the kitchen... so Dan certainly breaks the bank each year to feed us. But I think he has figured out what strong motivation food can be.