Archive for October, 2010

October 26, 2010

Picture of the Week

For days, I have been sick. Completely lame-o sick. In bed all day. Not necessarily asleep, but I enter a limbo world where I’m half asleepish and then I get up, slump around a bit and then find myself too tired to finish whatever task I started only to go right back to bed. Then, more often than naught, I wake myself up by coughing. And not just cou- cough, ‘scuse me! But body-wrenching, heart pounding coughing that reaches deep down to my ankles.

I have not been in the kitchen unless I’ve been putting water to boil for tea, heating up soup (yes, from a can), or retrieving more saltines.

Oh, what’s that?

Getting better requires many and varied ingredients. Luckily for me the BFCP knows all about the powers of the doughnut.

So, here you have it. I’ll get better; promise. I’ll make food again. I’ll speak again. My voice is getting stronger, until I talk.

M&Ms are like medicine.

What? M&Ms are like medicine, right??

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October 17, 2010

Cinnamon Craisin-Raisin Bread

Oh, man. I know I said I’d keep the posts contemporary. However, reminiscing about food is so good. And I feel as though it is one of the most inspiring things I could do. It makes me want to make the recipes again AND go on and make more delicious foods!

This is a “Welcome, Fall!!” kind of recipe if EVER there was one. Bread is a tricky food to make. It requires patience and a knowledge of temperatures and an appetite for delicious things. I started out with only one of these but gradually am learning about temperatures and trying to distract myself while my lack of patience for food is tested. Don’t get me wrong. I can be patient: When people are learning new things, I’m a saint; when… when… um. I think that’s where the list ends. Oh, no. I can’t stand traffic, food resting in the refrigerator, or messes just sitting there. I have no patience for any of these things. Hm. Well. Okay. October 17th Resolution:: Patience. Practice it. Grow it. Figure out how to get more. I guess I’ll just have to make a lot of bread this fall to accomplish my new task. Oh, how glorious.

This bread has all the “fixin’s” that just make you want to go “YUM!” then get another serving. Or two. Cinnamon, butter, dried cranberries, and honey. Oh, boy. Here we go.

Cinnamon Craisin-Raisin Bread
Inspired by The Grit Cookbook

1 1/4 c very warm (105 degrees F max, though) water
1 T fast-rising dry yeast
1/4 c packed light brown sugar
1 c whole wheat flour
6 T butter
1 t + pinch salt
1/4 c honey
1 t + pinch cinnamon
1 t vanilla extract
2 t freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 c crushed walnuts, optional
3/4 c or 1 c craisins, or dried cranberries (I recommend the bigger amount.)
3/4 or 1/2 c raisins (If you use the bigger amount of craisins, use the smaller amount of raisins.)
2 1/2 c A-P flour

Thoroughly combine water, yeast, sugar, and whole wheat flour in a large bowl. Cover loosely with plastic wrap. Allow to sit in a warm place (75 degrees to 80 degrees F) for 20 to 30 minutes.

Melt butter and pour into a small bowl. Add salt, honey, cinnamon, vanilla, lemon juice, walnuts, and fruit. Allow to cool. Combine butter mixture with yeast mixture and add all-purpose flour. Knead vigorously with mixer or by had on floured surface for 3 to 4 minutes. (Isn’t so much fun to knead by hand? Do I say that just because I don’t have a mixer that’ll knead bread?)

Now that all the ingredients are mixed, form into ball and put it into a greased bowl (Yes, you can use the same bowl from the yeast resting.). Cover bowl loosely with plastic and allow to rise in warm place until nearly doubled in size. Patience…. Patience. Distract yourself.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Grease an 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 in (6 c) loaf pan.

Punch down dough and form into loaf, gently tucking dough toward center of bottom and lightly stretching to top to a smooth tightness (Think mushroom cap, but a loafier one.); allow to rise 5 minutes. Place in a prepared loaf pan. Bake on middle oven rack for 35 minutes or until nicely golden browned and hollow-sounding when tapped on the bottom. Cool for 10 minutes in the pan then remove bread to a wire rack to cool completely.

October 15, 2010

Picture of the Week

So, we upgraded. We got a shiny new teapot, which is currently acting as the big brother to its predecessor until we take ol’ faithful into the office. I love seeing these teapots together, though. Do you? And which picture do you like the best? I suppose I should rename this entry “Pictures of the Week,” since I couldn’t make up my mind.

You can really tell the size difference in the above picture.

I like the angularity here, but you cannot really tell they’re different sizes… or different teapots for that matter.

Angular, but I can tell the difference. Oh, hurray.

I love tea. Can you tell?

October 14, 2010

Smashed Sweet Potatoes

When you do not own an actual masher but a fork and a spoon ladle waits with abated utensil breath, you get smashed potatoes. I must say, smashing is great fun. I think I know why most people keep so many potatoes on hand: You get a facial when the steam rises, peace of mind knowing easily and exactly when the potatoes are ready to smash*, and a feeling of complete and utter satisfaction when they have been sufficiently smashed. Ahhh.

Smashed Sweet Potatoes

2 lbs sweet potatoes, rinsed and chunked
1 c milk
1/2 t curry powder
Salt and pepper, to taste

After rinsing and chunking the potatoes, put the potatoes and water on to boil. Boil for a good little while until the potatoes are fork tender* (just until they can easily be poked through with a fork. Easy!). Drain.

Return to the pan. Smash sufficiently. Add the milk, and stir/smash into the potatoes. Add spice, and stir to combine.

That’s it. Delicious. Exciting. Easy. Really, really easy.

And!! Look at me! Using curry. Just a little, but it gives a really good flavor to help the sweet potatoes.

October 12, 2010

Braised Chicken

Oooh me. I love chicken. Love it. I want to learn more about how to fix it in different ways. I always want to learn.

This chicken has cinnamon!? Also, I have never, EVER made food with curry. Until NOW, my friends. And now, I will continue to use curry, because, man! Delicious. However, I will have to use it sparingly so I don’t forever smell like curry. I do want my mother to be able to talk to me in person at some point, and I’m afraid that if I infuse the smell of curry into my very being, my mother will not be able to stay in my presence, at least within 50 feet of my presence, without getting physically ill or disowning me.

This recipe has new spice, colorful bell peppers, awesome taste, and pizzazz. Who doesn’t love a chicken dish with pizzazz??

Braised Chicken
Inspired by Annie’s Eats

3 chicken breasts
Jane’s Crazy Mixed-Up Salt (or just salt and pepper)
1 t paprika
1 t curry powder
1/4 t cinnamon
1/4 t salt
1/8 t cumin
4 T extra virgin olive oil
2 bell peppers, strips
1 onion, sliced
1/2 c chicken broth
Cilantro

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Season chicken breasts with Jane’s Crazy Mixed-Up Salt. In a small bowl, combine paprika, curry powder, cinnamon, salt, cumin, and olive oil. Whisk together until well combined.

Heat 2 T of olive oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the chicken breasts and cook until golden brown on both sides, which will end up being a few minutes for each side. Remove chicken to a plate.

In a baking dish, line the bottom with a third of your peppers and onions.

Lay the chicken on top of the vegetables. Brush the tops of the chicken breasts with the spice, olive oil mixture. Sprinkle the entire dish with the rest of the bell peppers and onion.

Pour the chicken broth around the edges of the pan. Place in the oven and bake for one hour. After thirty minutes of baking, flip the chicken pieces over, toss vegetables, and spoon juices from the bottom of the pan to the top of the chicken. After the next 30 minutes, remove from the oven and sprinkle the cilantro over the chickens.

Oh, my, what’s that? Yes, other foods with this braised chicken. There it is in the back there, and those other delicious delights? We’ll get to those another day!!

And I cannot thank my incredible help enough. The 10.10.10 celebration would not have been the same without you, Martha. In fact, it wouldn’t have happened without you!!!

October 11, 2010

Happy 10.10.10, Everyone!!!

I know. It was yesterday. And I wanted to post then, when the world was still celebrating. However, there was so much to be done to prepare and celebrate the Big Day. The Historical Day. Yester Day. So I get really excited when there are things to celebrate, and the tenth day of the tenth month in the tenth year of the two thousands is no exception. I made a meal. Okay, okay. A feast. With ten different dishes. This week, we’ll go through all the dishes. Starting with the soup, which was served in the third course. (That’s right. Courses.) And the soup was delicious.

 

Can I admit something to you? I was nervous about this recipe. Really nervous. I started cooking the onions; that was fine.

But THEN, I added all the spices. And I got THIS!!! Any food that looks like worms at ANY point isn’t really going to get me overly excited about eating said food. I wasn’t excited, but rather, felt a little ill and incredibly worried that I had actually wanted B.F.C.P. and his aunt to eat such food. Okay. Be warned; this dangerous picture could upset the following: people with weary stomaches, young children, dogs, cats, elderly, anybody brave enough to scroll down.

There!! Okay. You saw it. Are you all right?!?! Now that you’ve braved the worst, you’ll have no problem, because this soup is so good. SOO good. So. Good. Really. I promise. The aroma while cooking is almost overwhelming, but the taste of the soup is perfectly balanced. AND it has salsa to go on top to give a zing and a pop. (Whoops. Accidental rhyme.)

Red Bean Soup with Salsa
Inspired by The Ultimate Book of Vegan Cooking by Tony and Yvonne Bishop-Weston

For the soup:
2 T extra virgin olive oil
1 large red onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2 t ground cumin
1/4 t cayenne pepper
1 T paprika
1 T tomato paste
1/2 t dried oregano
14 oz can chopped tomatoes, no salt added
2 14 oz cans red kidney beans, rinsed (I would recommend light. Although, I used one can of dark red and one can of light red for mine.)
3 3/4 c vegetable stock
Hot sauce, to taste (I used Frank’s Hot Sauce)

For the salsa:
1 avocado
1 small red onion, finely chopped
1/2 medium tomato, finely chopped
1 T chopped cilantro
juice of 1 lime

Heat oil in large, heavy pan and add onions and garlic. Cook for about 5 minutes, until softened. Add the cumin, cayenne, and paprika. Don’t feel grossed out by the worminess, because you know it’ll be okay. Cook for one minute stirring continuously but not really looking at the pan, if you can help it.

Stir in the tomato paste. (It starts to get better at this point.) Cook for a few seconds then add the oregano. Add the cans of tomatoes and kidney beans. (Up to this point, I had been using a saute pan. Now is when I transferred all the ingredients to a Dutch oven.) Then, pour in the vegetable stock.

Bring tomato and bean mixture to the boil and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes. Cool the soup slightly, then puree it in a food processor until smooth. Rinse the pan. Then pour in the smooth soup mixture. Add hot sauce. After you think about freckles then Jackson Pollock then moon craters, stir in the hot sauce and begin working on your salsa.

For the salsa:

Chop up onions into eensy bitsy pieces. This is especially good if you need an enforced cry. Then, chop cilantro and tomatoes. Then slice into your avocado, de-pit, and score to scoop out all the goodness into a small bowl. Add all the chopped ingredients. Then, top with the juice of a lime. Toss all together.

Ladle soup into bowls, and top with a little guacamole salsa in the middle of the bowl.

After ladling, pat yourself on the back for surviving such an ordeal. And get yourself a spoon to enjoy!!!

October 7, 2010

Picture of the Week

So, maybe I’ll start this Picture of the Week business, or maybe it’ll just be a one time thing.

I don’t just try to make really good food; I also try to eat really good food (out and about, on the town; what have you). Why not take pictures and share them with you?

For the first (and possibly last) Picture of the Week, I will feature a dish the Best Food-Cooking Partner (B.F.C.P.) ordered at a restaurant that has one of the best brunches we’ve ever been to, certainly the best French Toast, and possibly the best tofu (I know??! Tofu.) The B.F.C.P., pictured…

… holding a flower that I made out of a napkin and a plastic fork, ordered this adorably delicious omelet.

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the happiest omelet.

What do you think?? Just about the happiest omelet you’ve ever seen, right? Right?!

October 6, 2010

Ratatouille

Fall! The slow cooker comes out of its resting place. I know, I know. There are lots of reasons to use a slow cooker throughout the year. However, Fall and Winter seem to beg for the use of slow cookers:  Leave me be and don’t bother me until I’m warm. That’s the food’s sentiment, of course, as I love any reason for scarves or hats. Don’t get me wrong. We have not even begun the Scarf Season. However, the air is starting to get crisp. And I’m excited, so here is some food to express that excitement.

Slow Cookery Ratatouille

1 lb. eggplant, peeled and chopped into 1/2 in square pieces
3 zucchini, chopped
1 c red bell pepper strips
1 medium onion, chopped into strips
2 lbs plum tomatoes, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 T extra virgin olive oil
4 T tomato puree or paste
Black pepper
2 1/2 t salt
2 T basil

Place chopped and peeled eggplant into colander. Sprinkle with 1/2 t salt. This’ll get out excess juices. Leave in sink for 30 minutes. While that is going, go ahead and chop all your other vegetables.

Pat the eggplant dry. Layer 1/2 vegetables into crock pot. Mix olive oil, black pepper, salt, and tomato paste together, and pour half of the mixture over the first vegetables. Layer rest of vegetables. Pour remaining olive oil mixture over the top.

Cook for 6 hours on low.

Or eight hours if you accidentally start watching Funny Face, and it takes longer to get to the intermission than you thought because you didn’t start cooking until 4:00 in the afternoon and didn’t start watching the movie until late. Then, you can wait until midnight to stop the movie at the intermission (and not get back to it that night), place the wonderful smelling concoction into Pyrex dishes, load them into the refrigerator, then pass out while attempting to read a book.

Oh, and sprinkle with fresh basil and freshly crushed black (or various) pepper(corns). And parmesan, if you’re feeling fancy.


October 5, 2010

Summer Blueberry Coffee Cake

This summer, I made a food. I’ll try to keep my foods as recent as possible so that you feel as though you have up-to-the-minute recipes and reactions. However, I started writing a food blog post-summer. So I present to you, a retrospective. And I feel as though this exception is worth it, because this coffee cake is EXCEPTIONAL. And all thanks to a very special lady who had to endure a painful summer healing after foot surgery. Do you realize all that you need BOTH feet for? You cannot just let one take a vacation and heal without serious consequence. I made this coffee cake for her, but I enjoyed it. A lot. Almost enough to make it seem as though I had made it just for me.

Blueberry Coffee Cake
Inspired by the Atlanta Journal Constitution

1/2 c packed brown sugar
1/2 c chopped pecans
1 t ground cinnamon
2 c fresh or frozen blueberries
1 1/2 c plus 2 T A-P flour, divided
1 t baking powder
1/4 t salt
1 1/2 c granulated sugar, and then a bit more for dusting the pan
1 c (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
Zest of 1 lemon
2 eggs
8 oz sour cream
2 t vanilla extract
Confectioners’ sugar for dusting

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a small bowl, combine sugar, pecans, and cinnamon, then set aside. In a second small bowl, combine blueberries with 2 T flour. This will allow the blueberries to float in the batter while it cooks instead of sinking to the bottom like a swimmer’s floatie. In the third small bowl, stir the rest of the flour, salt, and baking powder; set aside. Grease and dust (with granulated sugar) a 9-inch fluted or tube pan.

In a mixing bowl, cream sugar and butter. Add lemon zest, then add the eggs one at a time. Beat in the sour cream and vanilla extract. Mix well. Add half the flour mixture, mix, repeat. Beat until combined. Beat for an additional 30 seconds. Then, fold in the blueberries. Gently.

Spread half the batter in the pan. Sprinkle half the brown sugar mixture. Swirl the brown sugar mix with a knife or small spatula. Pour second half then top with the remaining brown sugar mixture.

Cook for about an hour or until the coffee cake can pass the doneness toothpick test (or DTT). Allow it to cool in the pan for 20 to 30 minutes. Then run a knife around the edge, carefully separating any renegade blueberries that might have stuck to the sides of the pan. Invert the cake onto the serving platter. Just before serving, sprinkle (generously) with confectioner’s sugar.

And, oh man, enjoy.

October 1, 2010

Happy October. Here’s a meal.

I love cooking. Even more than cooking, I love cooking with loved ones. If I’ve ever cooked with you, well, thank you. (I was attempting to be pompous. I almost wrote “You’re welcome.” However, I really appreciate it in a way I probably didn’t express enough when we were doing the cooking and the cleaning up and the enjoying.)

The other night, I had the honor and pleasure of donning my apron alongside my most favorite cooking partner. That’s him up there in that picture. Well, that’s our shadow. His particular part of the shadow is the left; mine is the right. You probably figured that out. And back to point:: We used to make food together all the time. All the time. But then, that sort of pittered to an all but stop. I really enjoy cooking (I think I’ve mentioned that.), and so he, in all his wondrous kindness, lets me enjoy it. I put on music; I get in the zone; I experiment. The other night, we cooked together– shared and bounced ideas, prepped ingredients for each other, and chatted. Oh, what joy! What fun! What a gloriously delicious meal.

It was pretty simple. However, that’s some of the best food. Right?

The meal::

Linguini
Sockarooni sauce by Newman’s Own
1 (12 oz) can diced tomatoes
Mozzarella shredded cheese

Focaccia
Minced garlic
Mozzarella shredded cheese

Pasta:: Cook linguini (or any pasta you have on hand). While the pasta is boiling away, prepare the sauce. Mix sauce and diced tomatoes together. Allow to lightly bubble. Low-medium heat works well.

Bread:: Mince garlic. Spread onto sliced focaccia. Add cheese atop. Put into a 350 degree F oven. Cook until cheese is melted and bread is slightly toasty.

Back to pasta:: Once pasta is al dente, drain. Put back into pot to serve– pasta, sauce, lots of cheese. Hold hands in celebration with your favorite partner chef, and enjoy!!!

Optional additional ideas:: capers, bell peppers, spinach, meatballs, parmesan cheese, black olives, broccoli, and I’m sure you can think of plenty more that would be equally delicious.