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Sunday, November 28, 2010

Cauliflower Soup with Caraway and Rye Croutons

As a child, three times a year my family drove into Los Angeles for corn rye bread.  The ivy lined freeway signed our destination fast approached and the smells of the bakeries filled my head.  Now, no need to drive anyplace but the local Trader Joes for corn rye.  So when I saw this recipe with rye croutons, I had to make it.  

Cauliflower Soup with Caraway and Rye Croutons
from Sara Moulton Cooks at Home
4 slices of corn rye bread cut into cubes
2T or more olive oil
freshly ground pepper

~ place cubed bread into large plastic bag
~ add olive oil and pepper
~ shake to coat
~ toast in cast iron skillet medium flame until browned turning once

1 medium head cauliflower
3 small organic yukon gold potatoes
2T unsalted butter
1 large sweet yellow onion thinly sliced
2t caraway seeds
1qt chicken broth
2t lemon juice 
 kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

~ bring saucepan of salted water to boil over high heat
~ remove 1 cup of florets from cauliflower and trim into 1/2" pieces
~ add florets and bring back to boil
~ boil rapidly until tender 3 minutes
~ drain and rinse under cold water
~ set aside drain in colander
~ slice the remaining cauliflower and potatoes
~ heat butter in soup pot over medium heat
~ add the onion, dash of salt and caraway seeds
~ cook stirring until the onion has soften 5 minutes
~  stir in sliced cauliflower and potatoes
~ pour in just enough stock to barely cover the cauliflower and season with salt and pepper
~ increase heat to high and bring to boil
~ reduce heat to medium and simmer until cauliflower is tender 20 minutes
~ puree soup with immersion blender 
~ stir in lemon juice 
~ add more salt and pepper if needed
~ plate with florets and croutons
If you have kids, I suggest you make double or triple the croutons.  Mine gobbled them up.  Soup was more flavorful the next day.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

The Ultimate Spinach Salad

Rich and creamy low fat blue cheese, spinach, tomatoes and mushrooms my salad nirvana.  Whips together in a snap.

The Ultimate Spinach Salad
from Sara Moulton Cooks at Home

1/4 cup low fat mayonnaise
1/4 cup low fat sour cream
1/4 cup gorgonzola cheese crumbled
1T white wine vinegar
1t dijon mustard
1 garlic clove minced
1/2t Worcestershire sauce
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
2T low fat milk

~ combine the mayonnaise and sour cream in a small bowl and stir until blended and smooth
~ fold in cheese, vinegar, mustard, garlic, and Worcestershire sauce
~ stir well season with salt and pepper
~ thin with milk as needed should be consistency of heavy cream
~ cover and refrigerate several hours or overnight
~ stir well before serving

1 1/2 pound organic spinach trimmed, washed and dried
10 or more/less crimini mushrooms sliced
15 or more/less sweet organic cherry tomatoes cut in 1/4
freshly ground pepper

Pile the spinach on a plate top with mushrooms and sprinkle with tomatoes. Top with a dollop of dressing and freshly ground pepper.

The dressing would be perfect on an iceberg wedge as well.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Cashew Sorbet

We had the most amazing sorbet in the bay area, Scream SorbetPacojet, pacojet, I want a pacojet! That is my scream after I found out and researched just how they made this incredible sorbet.  Well, my money tree is bare (they cost over $2,000 used and $4000 new)  and they are loud, but oh so awesome.  In the meantime, I will experiment and here is my latest.

Those in our family who can eat nuts went nuts over the Scream Sorbet nut sorbets.  I thought recreating those sorbets would be impossible until I attended a cooking demonstration at Native Foods.  Tanya, the chef and owner, explained how she used soaked cashews in the place of heavy cream.  Humm, I thought this might work for sorbet so I gave it a try with mixed results, learning curve...  Mine tasted a bit grainy so the recipe below is how I will make it next time.  I ground the nuts in the liquid, not recommended.

Cashew Sorbet
from Me

2 cups dry roasted and toasted cashews
water to cover

~ put cashews in bowl and add enough water to cover for 4 to 8 hours
~ drain cashews

2 cups soaked and drained cashews
1 cup simple syrup
2 cups filtered water
1T lemon juice
1T vodka

~ grind cashews in processor until smooth
~ blend in syrup, water, lemon juice and vodka
~ churn in ice cream machine according to manufactures instructions
~ filter through cheese cloth
~ churn in ice cream machine according to manufactures instructions

We topped ours with home made caramel sauce and toasted nuts.

coming up...left over cranberries into sorbet

bleech, I really don't like Thanksgiving Turkey.

Thursday, November 25, 2010


Thanksgiving a day to watch Macy's Parade and feast, but I must confess we are West Coast and prefer The Rose Bowl Parade.  Two years ago we went and saw the floats up close.  A highly recommended activity.  

Cookies Cookies we want cookies!  Well twist my arm and make me use my new shortbread molds.  I confess I screwed up this recipe but luckily caught my error.  The wording of ingredients seems odd.  The butter is listed in sticks and cups hence this cookie is a delicious heart attack.

from Martha Stewart's Baking Handbook

3 sticks (1 1/2 cups) unsalted butter at room temperature
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/4t salt
3/4 cup plus 2T confectioners' sugar

~ preheat oven 325
~ butter cookie molds or 12" by 8" rimmed baking sheet and line it with parchment paper leaving 1" over hang
~ whisk flour and salt in a small bowl
~ beat butter until fluffy on medium speed in mixer with paddle attachment 3 to 4 minutes
~ add confectioner's sugar and beat until light and very fluffy about 2 minutes and scrap down bowl as needed
~ add flour salt mixture and beat on low speed scraping down when needed until just incorporated
~ should look like a soft cookie dough
~ using a small offset spatula evenly spread dough evenly on mold ( and press I learned this when my detail was lacking) or baking sheet
~ refrigerate 15 minutes
~  prick dough all over with fork
~ bake 40 to 45 minutes until golden brown
~ transfer to wire rack
~ if using a baking sheet cut cookies while hot leaving in pan while cooling
~ put in air tight container
~ keep at room temperature for up to a week

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Chicken Cutlets

Having a tough day?  Feel like smacking something?  Well why not get your aggressions out and have a good meal at the same time.  Just employ your handy kitchen mallet.  

Chicken Cutlets
from ME

5 boneless chicken breast
1/2 cup or more all purpose flour
2 eggs whisked
1/2 cup or more panko
salt and pepper to taste
2T olive oil

~ place flour in shallow bowl
~ place eggs in shallow bowl and whisk to combine
~ place panko in shallow bowl and season with salt and pepper
~ place chicken breast between two pieces of wax paper ( 20" by 20" give or take a few inches)
~ pound away using a mallet or rolling pin or small heavy skillet until chicken is about 1/4" thick
~ heat cast iron skillet and add oil medium temperature
~ dredge the cutlet in flour
~ dredge in egg
~ dredge in panko crumbs
~ place breaded cutlet in skillet about 4 minutes per side

relax and enjoy your fine meal

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

What Is On The Menu For The Next Few Weeks End of November

Sara Moulton was once on The Food Network and like other chefs she was replaced.  Why?  I have no idea, so I turn to PBS and shows like American's Test Kitchen, Lidia's Italy...  These shows explain and teach.  I guess it really comes down to a toss up between learning about food or mastering the art of fancifing processed food and creating tablescapes.  Sorry to my family no Rice-a-Roni Supreme or Cake Mix-ins for you!

Sara Moulton 
Cooks at Home
I hope to make at least a half of my chosen recipes

Creamy Lime Corn Soup with Cumin Salted Tortilla Strips
Chopped Salad with Feta. Chickpeas and Pita Croutons

Cauliflower Soup with Caraway and Rye Croutons 11/22; good
The Ultimate Spinach Salad 11/22: great dressing fast easy

Jean Anderson's Oven-Fried Chicken: very good very modified
Lemon Potatoes: great the next morning as  hash browns
Sauteed Spinach with Garlic Chips

Thai Style Roasted Cornish Game Hens

Indian Style Shepard's Pie: 11/28 good lots of modifications including pressure cooker

Korean Beef

Butternut Squash Soup with Gruyere Pesto 12/2
Spinach Gnocchi Gratin with Gruyere and Parmigiano Reggiano

Portobello Burgers with Red Pepper and Gorgonzola
Arugula Salad with Aged Gouda, Savory Praline and Whole Grain Mustard Dressing 12/2
Borscht Beets

Ruth Moulton's Spice Balls
Chocolate Carmamel Peanut (almond for us) Truffles
Mocha Cookies "the Bakery"
Apricot Scones

Asian Chicken Wrap with Hoisin Sauce

People are flakes but not like the goodness of a flaky pie crust.  Angry day so wrap up your anger and smile, smile, smile...I think not...vent.  So I have for you a wrap.  Not a hit...who would I like to hit?  Chicken, yes later today the post will be pounded chicken cutlets.  In the meantime, the inners of this dish was nice but the tortillas was just too much (like some people).  Next time, if there is a next time, I would transform it into a lettuce wrap appetizer.

Most amazing huge slicer I acquired recently.  I can slice and dice any size mushroom.

I use kitchen scissors to cut chicken into bit size pieces.

Asian Chicken Wrap with Hoisin Sauce
from Kitchen Life
Art Smith

2T low sodium soy sauce
1T dry sherry
1t corn starch (try to find one that is not genetically modified)
1lb boneless skinless chicken breast, cut into bite size pieces
1T safflower oil

~ mix soy sauce, sherry and cornstarch in a small bowl.  Add the chicken strips and mix to coat.  Marinate for an hour or two
~ heat oil in warmed cast iron skillet over high heat
~ add chicken and cook stirring for about 3 1/2 minutes
~ transfer to a plate

1T safflower oil
1 1/2 cups sliced mushrooms
2 scallions, white and green parts chopped
1 garlic clove finely chopped
3 cups shredded cabbage
4 large organic carrot cut thin or shredded
3T water
1T low sodium soy sauce
3t hoisin sauce

~ heat oil in same skillet over high heat
~ add mushrooms and cook, stirring often until they give off juices and begin to brown, about 3 minutes
~ stir in scallions and garlic stir 30 sec
~ stir in cabbage, carrots, water and soy sauce
~ add the chicken and stir often until cabbage is wilted about 3 minutes
~ stir in hoisin sauce

4 flour tortillias...or lettuce cups

~ place 1/4 of mixture on each tortilla and roll
~ serve hot

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Zucchini Bread....YUM!

Not the best picture, but I can attest to the moist yet crunchy scrumptiousness of this bread.  Some blogs have the most beautiful pictures.  Me, eh I point and shoot and move on. 

One of my favorite books.  My first bread inspiration.  Not really just easy to follow recipes with no fuss and good taste.  This zucchini bread recipe is an all time favorite.  Something in it caramelizes so it has a slight crunch to it, yummm.

 soak the eggs in hot water to bring them to room temperature

Carl Gohs' Zucchini Bread
from Beard on Bread

3 eggs
2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup safflower oil
2 cups grated raw organic zucchini
3t vanilla extract
3 cup of all purpose flour
1t salt
1t baking soda
1/4 t double acting baking powder
3t ground cinnamon
1  cup toasted broken up walnuts (unsalted raw)

~ preheat oven 350
~ beat eggs until light and foamy
~ add the sugar, oil, zucchini and vanilla and mix lightly but well
~ combine the flour, salt, soda, baking powder and cinnamon and add to egg zucchini mixture
~ stir until well blended 
~ add nuts
~ pour into two 9x5x3 loaf pans
~ bake 1 hour

and this is why I have a food blog....

This is a spice muffin I made last week.  I thought I got the recipe from The Fannie Farm Baking Book but, apparently I did not since there is nothing remotely like it in that cookbook.  I dove into all the books I had out and have yet to figure out where in the world the recipe came from.  Deja vu: Fabulous corn bread recipe scrumptious everyone gobbled it up and requested I make it again.  One problem, I can not find the book with the recipe.  I did note on the recipe page just how much we enjoyed the corn bread...lot of good that does us now.  So when I have nothing to do...rarely...I grab a pile of books and search the index's looking for the elusive corn bread recipe and now spice muffin...This is why I have a blog.  It is an easy and visual way to keep track of my recipes and notes.  buggers!

more pictures of the mysterious muffins

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Coffee Gelato

I thought the pistachio gelato was beyond words.  Coffee gelato is sublime!

Plain Base for Gelato
from The Ciao Bella Book of Gelato & Sorbetto
F.W. Pearce & Danilo Zecchin
makes about 1 quart 

2 cups organic whole milk
1 cup organic heavy cream
4 large organic egg yolks
2/3 cup sugar

~ in a heavy bottom sauce pan combine milk and cream
~ place over medium-low heat
~ stir occasionally until temperature reaches 170 degrees  and tiny bubbles start to form
~ meanwhile put egg yolks in a round medium size pyrex and whisk until smooth
~ add sugar to yolks and whisk until thick and pale
~ temper your egg yolks by taking about 1/2 cup of hot milk/cream mixture and slowly pour into yolks while whisking yolks...keep it moving or you will end up with scrambled eggs
~ continue adding about 1/2 cup at a time slowly until you have added about 1 1/2 to 2 cups
~ pour egg mixture into remaining milk/cream mixture in pan
~ cook over low heat stirring frequently until mixture reaches 185 degrees (do not boil)
~ pour mixture through a fine mesh strainer back into pyrex
~ cool and place in refrigerator at least 4 hours or overnight


2T of freshly finely ground coffee (I used Taylor Maid Farms Goat Rock Roast)
Plain Base

~ whisk coffee into plain base
~ pour into ice cream maker and use as directed
~ freeze for at least 2 hours before serving

Jason's Quick Coccodrillo Ciabatta Bread

I found this recipe on The Fresh Loaf.  A fabulous bread baking web site.  I prefer the recipe with semolina; however, this loaf contains only bread flour.  As I peered into my container of semolina flour, I noticed a strange web like formation.  Hmmm, I thought very strange.  I poured it out only to find wormy things, ach!  Disgusting!  I just purchased the semolina from Henry's Markets bulk bins.  Beware of the bulk bins.  Yeech, kind of makes my stomach turn.  I guess I could have used it and given the kids a little extra protein...

I bake all of my breads in my barbecue lined with all of my broken pizza stones for several reasons.  It does not heat up my house.  It reaches high temperatures fast, 500 degrees.  I can create steam without reducing heat.  My dream, wish, desire a wood burning oven and I have a copy of the plans from Sunset Magazine. Someday....

 climbing dough

 Steam hole...most people attach a rotisserie here.  I find it the perfect place to spray water.

Jason's Quick Coccodrillo Ciabatta Bread
from The Fresh Loaf web site
slightly adapted

Variaton 1
500g bread flour
475g (~2 cups) water
2 tsp. yeast
15g salt

Varation 2 (Semolina)
350g bread flour
150g semolina flour
475-485g (~2cups) water
2tsp. yeast
15g salt

  1. In Kitchen Aid style mixer: Mix all ingredients roughly till combined with paddle, let it rest for 10 minutes.
  2. With the paddle (I prefer the hook to prevent the dough from crawling into the guts of the mixer), beat the living hell out of the batter, it will start out like pancake batter but in anywhere from 10 to 30 minutes it will set up and work like a very sticky dough. if it starts climbing too soon, then switch to the hook. You'll know it's done when it separates from the side of the bowl and starts to climb up your hook/paddle and just coming off the bottom of the bowl. I mean this literally about the climbing, i once didn't pay attention and it climbed up my paddle into the greasy inner workings of the mixer. It was not pretty! Anyway, it will definitely pass the windowpane test.
  3. Place into a well oiled container and let it triple! it must triple! For me this takes about 2.5 hours
  4. Empty on to a floured counter (scrape if you must, however you gotta get the gloop out), cut into 3 or 4 peices. Spray with oil and dust with lots of flour. Let them proof for about 45 minutes, which gives you enough time to crank that oven up to 500F. Barbecue takes about 10 minutes to reach 500F.
  5. After 45 minutes or so the loaves should be puffy and wobbly, now it's iron fist, velvet glove time. Pick up and stretch into your final ciabatta shape (~10" oblong rectangle) and flip them upside down (this redistributes the bubbles, so you get even bubbles throughout), and onto a baking sheet with parchment paper dusted with corn meal. Try to do it in one motion and be gentle, it might look like you've ruined them completely, but the oven spring is immense on these things.
  6. Bake at 500F until they are 205F in the center (about 10 minutes)

French Fries Nuked and Baked

Rain, rain come this way please....  We love the rain and rush outside at the first drop dressed in galoshes and shorts.  Perfect for those rainy days...fries by the fire.

The most awesome chopper.  Unfortunately, most stores not longer carry it but a poor imitation.

Large Steak Fries Baked Not Fried
from ME

mix of red and russet organic potatoes (whatever you need/like)  Leave the skin on
olive oil

~ preheat oven 500
~ grease baking sheets with a small amount of olive oil
~ place baking sheets in oven
~ cut fries
~ soak fries to pull out starch 
~ dry fries (I use my salad spinner)
~ toss fries with a bit of olive oil about 1T or 2T and 1t or more garlic powder (adjust to your taste)
~ microwave on baked potato mode (1,2 or 3 depending on amount, but less is more)
~ put fries on hot baking sheet, single layer
~ bake about 20 minutes
~ flip fries once for browning
~ perfect fries: soft on the inside and crispy outside

If you have more time and don't do things at the last minute like can skip micro and just bake forever or it just seems that way.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Perfect Quesadilla

We are always in the market for a quick, easy and good for on the go.  It seems we always have 1000 things going on and I am pulled in all directions.  But a day does not go by without a laugh, for example the littlest one just walked in dressed in a tee shirt and a backpack announcing, "It is free dress day and I am going bottomless!"  It is 8 at night and she is going no where but to bed.  She was just yanking on the oldest's chain when he asked a question she thought was ridiculous.  She is a tiny ball of fire with a quick wit and has just discovered jokes, ugh.  If I hear one more bunny joke...She finally moved on to other animals:  What does a polar bear eat?  Ice burgers [sic] (icebergs)

This recipe from America's Test Kitchen is an all time favorite:

Quesadilla Any Way You Like It
from America's Test Kitchen

2 flour tortilla's
cheese ( your favorite)(ours very sharp cheddar or jarlsberg)

~ heat a large cast iron skillet high heat until very hot and one medium size as well
~ turn heat down to medium
~ place tortilla then cheese then other tortilla on large hot skillet
~ place medium on top of tortilla sandwich
~ in about 3 minutes remove top skillet and flip tortilla/quesadilla and place medium skillet back on top
~ in another 3 minutes remove and check for doneness and melted cheese
~ adjust to preferred crispness 
~ remove from skillet and cut with pizza cutter

you can spicy it up with chicken, vegetables...brie with mangos...anything you can dream up

Persimmon Sorbet

I have really never had a persimmon so, I thought way not grind it up and introduce it in the form of sorbet.  Interesting flavor...not sweet or sour, perhaps just picked are amazing.  I will have to keep a look out at the farmers market and repeat with a more stunning one.

 Persimmon Sorbet

Simple Syrup
makes 1 1/3 cups

1 cup of filtered water
1 cup sugar

~Combine water and sugar in medium saucepan
~ heat on medium high heat
~ whisk and bring to a boil
~ reduce heat to medium 
~ continue to whisk and simmer 4 minutes until sugar is dissolved
~ remove from heat and cool
~ place in a Pyrex and refrigerate at least 1 hour

3 persimmons skinned  and seeds removed
1 recipe of simple syrup
1T key lime zest
splash of vodka

~ blend all ingredients together
~ make according to ice cream makers instructions

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Cantaloupe Sorbet

Sorbet, ice cream, gelato are fantastic treats spring, summer, winter and fall. 

Cantaloupe Sorbetto
from The Ciao Bella Book of Gelato & Sorbetto

Simple Syrup
makes 1 1/3 cups

1 cup of filtered water
1 cup sugar

~Combine water and sugar in medium saucepan
~ heat on medium high heat
~ whisk and bring to a boil
~ reduce heat to medium 
~ continue to whisk and simmer 4 minutes until sugar is dissolved
~ remove from heat and cool
~ place in a Pyrex and refrigerate at least 1 hour

1 large cantaloupe
1 recipe of simple syrup
1T key lime zest
splash of vodka

~ blend all ingredients together
~ make according to ice cream makers instructions

Key Lime Sorbet

Packs a puckering punch!  Like The Little Red Hen, I picked the limes.  Made the simple syrup.  Squeezed out the juice. This sorbet was mine.  I ate it and enjoyed every tart drop.  Perfection in an icy lump.

from this

Key Lime Sorbet
an adapted version of
Lemon Sorbetto
from The Ciao Bella Book of Gelato & Sorbetto

Simple Syrup
makes 1 1/3 cups

1 cup of filtered water
1 cup sugar

~Combine water and sugar in medium saucepan
~ heat on medium high heat
~ whisk and bring to a boil
~ reduce heat to medium 
~ continue to whisk and simmer 4 minutes until sugar is dissolved
~ remove from heat and cool
~ place in a Pyrex and refrigerate at least 1 hour

An easy recipe to double or triple

Key Lime Sorbet

3/4 cup key lime juice (adjust for tartness or lack of)
1 recipe of simple syrup
1T key lime zest
splash of vodka
~ whisk all ingredients together
~ make according to ice cream makers instructions

Monday, November 15, 2010

Dry Smoked Turkey Breast

Smoked turkey is the best turkey and lucky for me I just happen to have a stove-top smoker, woohoo!   About a year ago, I was wandering down the aisles of Target (a favorite pastime) and stumbled across this Stovetop Kettle Smoker by Nordic Ware for 75% off.  I of course have an outdoor smoker, but it is a pain and often home to black widows.  Another problem solved (thank you Target), now I can smoke my turkey, salmon...fear free.

 smoked turkey breast salad with balsamic vinegar dressing

Dry Smoked Turkey Breast
from Me

1 kosher turkey breast (the best because it is brined)
freshly cracked pepper
smoked paprika (just because I bought it and have never really used it)
mesquite chips

~ put chips in smoker and drip pan
~ place turkey on grill rack
~ spread honey on turkey and season with pepper and smoked paprika
~ put the lid on it, open vent slightly, place thermometer 
~ turn on exhaust fan
~ turn burner on medium high until smokes appears from vent
~ close vent and turn down burner to medium low
~ smoke 45-50 minutes 
~ check internal temperature thickest part of breast should read 170 degrees

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