Saturday, November 29, 2008

Oh My God How Yummy

Here's the fantastically successful strawberries-in-a-basket. It's an almond lace cookie shell, recipe from The Barefoot Kitchen Witch blog (thanks!):

After baking you have to shape the shells while hot into the preferred shape--for me, a bowl.

Next I coated the bottom of the "bowl" with dark chocolate, then added whip cream, then the strawberries. It's so simple and sooo yummy.
Yippee for great endings to great meals.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Thanksgiving Plans

I want to state, for the record, that I am opposed to trying weird new interpretations of classic Thanksgiving recipes.

It doesn't matter what you want to try, the classic works the best. Why fry a turkey when the baking makes the skin crispy? Why change green bean casserole when that's all you ever dream about for that day anyway? Why skip naming the bird if the guilt will still appear next time you see a live turkey?

Perhaps the last one isn't a universal truth, but we always named our bird. We also also always had a duck at Thanksgiving, which maybe isn't your tradition but it was ours and I don't care if you judge me.

However, after my rant, this pic is what I'm going to try this year, and I'll post how it turns out:
Wild Rice, Walnut, and Goat Cheese Stuffing
It's basically your typical stuffing plus some wild rice & goat cheese. But I'm using red rice. And roasted walnuts. Also I may throw in a little bit of dried fruit like cranberries, maybe even some sweet potatoes, primarily because this is Bobby Flay's recipe and he's a douchebag. I can do better.

seriously, though: from the Urban Dictionary
The OED defines 'Bobby Flay' as 'The unfortunate consequence of the union between television, ego, and blinding mediocrity.'

Boules: A Game and a Food

1) a ball-shaped bread, often used for bread bowls

2) a game using metal balls tossed about a yard in pursuit of a smaller white ball, played with one hand following the rule that an alcoholic beverage must be in the other hand.

I have nearly won at boules the game. I have absolutely won at boules the bread, see above left.

White Bread Plus (from Joy of Cooking, quote "plus for flavor, keeping quality and nutrition." Guess they didn't have Dr. Atkins when this book was wrote)
in 1 1/4 cups lukewarm water, dissolve 2 1/4 tsp yeast from jar (same amount as a packet) and 1 tsp sugar.

Beat in:
1 beaten egg
1/4 cup melted lard or shortening (lard not being a staple on my shelf, i melted Crisco butter-flavor shortening and it worked great)
3/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup sugar

Sift and mix in 4 cups all-purpose flour

Using my mixer, I let this knead till smooth and elastic, then let rise in an oiled bowl for an hour on top of the dryer while washing clothes (warm dark place) *with a damp towel over bowl.*
After that first rise, separate into three balls of dough, wrapping the dough to a base (so the top is smooth) and putting that (folded edge base down) on the pan you'll bake them on. I used a pizza stone sprinkled with cornmeal. Turn the oven to 400 degrees. Put the bread into the cold oven and, after 15 minutes, reduce heat to 375 for 25 more minutes. It will make its second rise in the oven.

Two tricks I used to get a crisp outer crust: I brushed the outside of the dough with water, and I put a bowl of water at the bottom of the oven.

Another trick I learned ONLY from Joy of Cooking despite much research: you must let your bread cool completely before putting into any storage container. That moisture that escapes would, otherwise, allow mold to grow. Considering no other fancy cookbooks taught that, I'd like to acknowledge that I do plan to succeed off the backs of the overworked housewives (ere the age of bread machines) that came before me.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Cheating Isn't Cheating If You Eat the Evidence (Part I)

Life's been a bit busy lately and I haven't had the drive to be much a gourmet after 9-hour days at the office. That doesn't mean I haven't been creative, though, and I thought I'd share some of my favorite short-cut dishes that taste complicated.

Pics here, following the theme, are a mystery--did I take the photo or did I cheat and steal it somewhere?

Chicken Pot Pie with Okra
1.5 cups frozen okra
1 cup frozen peas
1 cup cup frozen french-cut green beans
(you might also want carrots or corn kernels, etc...all frozen is fine but I do recommend a little defrosting first to get out some excess water)
leftover chicken, chopped or shredded
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1/2 cup of milk
2 frozen pie shells

Mix together all ingredients (except the pie shells) while you pre-bake one of the shells for 8 minutes at 350 degrees. This makes the crust crustier and it won't be as soggy for the final devouring.

Next, pour all ingredients in to the pre-baked crust and bake for 30 minutes while the other pie shell defrosts enough to pop it out of its aluminum pan. Ideally this amount should pile up to be a little taller than the crust, but thick enough to not pour out.

At the 30-minute mark, pull the pie out and put the next crust on top, using a knife to put steam-escape-valve slits in the crust.

Bake for another 20 minutes or until the top crust turns pretty and golden. Serve and tell everyone you hand-made the crust and gravy, grew the veggies yourself, and hell you even raised the chicken. Well done you.

Update: here's the real photo: