Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Cinnamon Rolls: "Not Gooey Enough"

Per Taste Tester: not gooey enough. Obviously this whole web-celebrity-thing has gone to his head.

I used this recipe from the Food Network, and I did actually use less butter and sugar in the inside of the rolls than was required, which would've created more goo. The recipe is huge, next time I'll roll it out thinner so the layers are flakier, with more cinnamon swirl. And gooeyer.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Biscotti for Gifts

Get a look at how productive I am! Cookies yesterday (partial fail acknowledged), half my Christmas shopping done yesterday...and now the rest is getting done today! I'm going to make my work friends biscotti since we all enjoy our coffee. I've started with a recipe from The Professional Chef, which is a textbook/cookbook that Aunt Sadi gave me in 2007. It's like an encyclopedia for Cooking Like You Know What You're Doing.

Biscotti's also fun because it allows me to use my scale, which I LOF. This recipe, strangely, didn't call for any butter. I've probably got 24 or 36 individual biscotts from this one, but I plan to try another next round. They are flavored with almond extract and orange oil, but then I split the dough and went with fruit added for one, while I topped the other with chocolate and almond slivers.

2 lbs flour
0.7 lbs sugar
6 eggs
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 tsp almond extract
1/2 tsp orange oil (I didn't have an orange to zest, but a tsp of zest would suffice)

Whisk the flour and soda together in a separate bowl while the mixer whisks the eggs, sugar, salt, and extract to be lighter in color and thick.
While that whisked, I chopped dried apricots and added a jigger of triple sec to them to soak. I also may have had a jigger. To be sure it was still good. You could do one or both of these things.

Next, incorporate the flour slowly. Due to the lack of any butter or fat, it's a super-sticky dough, but I rubbed some vegetable oil on my palms before I formed the dough on the pan.

Once the flour is incorporated, you can add any nuts or fruit you chose. Half of my dough got the drunken apricots. Half stayed sober.
I was out of parchment to bake them on, so one pan had a silicone liner and for the other I went old-school: Pam and flour. (As mentioned before, I greased up my hands for doing this so all the dough was on the pan instead of my hands.) Bake for an hour at 300 degrees, then allow the loaves to cool for 10-15 minutes.
Now slice with serrated knife from the corner inwards, as thick as an inch or thin as a half-inch. Lay them back on the baking sheet and bake again at 275 this time for 30 min.

Once cooled, I spread melted semi-sweet chocolate pieces on the side of the plain biscotti, then sprinkled with slivered almonds.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Cooking FAIL and the Vengeful God of Mixers. But not epic fail.

From Ruby June's Cafe

This is the time of year I always make my favorite cookies: Ginger Honey Molasses Cookies. Last year...oh jeez, no--2007!...they were finally perfected. The amount of flour had to be adjusted, then I got them right.

This year, I used the Almighty Kitchen Aid Mixer and...lo, there was cooking fail. I used to get such an arm work out mixing them, but the AKAM whipped them up like egg whites, so the dough (usually dense) was more like mousse.I just figured out one screw-up: I used the whole egg instead of the yolks only.

But I really want to blame the Kitchen Aid, though it feels like blasphemy that I should only whisper or else something terrible shall befall me, like the Vengeful God of the Mixer might smite me where I stand, frowning at a lousy batch of cookies. They aren't even the right color!

Wait...they taste pretty good! Usually it's really hard not to overbake them. Maybe this isn't an epic fail. I'll let Rick decide if I give them away and make us some more in the old style.

One thing I wanted to share--my mom's wisdom for cooking tips. When you're using honey or molasses, grease your measuring cup/spoon/whatever. The sticky stuff dribbles right out without the messy clean-up. See? Go Mom!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Think They're Getting Along

And I think Molly got into our stash of crack again.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

New Addition To The Family

Our biggest baby yet: Gracie Lou

I think this close up looks like Stimpy:
(Yes I do know Stimpy was a cat.)

Monday, December 7, 2009

Tostones con Mojo

I love making this cuban side dish of fried plantains for a few important reasons:
1. Garlic garlic garlic
2. And then you add more garlic
3. The plantains are fried, smushed, then fried again. DOUBLE FRIED PEOPLE. If you were in Cuba, it would probably be double fried in LARD.

This went with some not-so-special pork roast. I usually also make boiled yucca, but time was limited for me so the plantains were our starch. Green plantains, which seem too hard to be useful, actually behave a lot like a potato: softer when fried, then better WHEN FRIED AGAIN.
The dip for the appetizer, called mojo (mo*ho), is crazy simple:
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup lime juice
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 tsp salt
  • AS MUCH GARLIC AS YOU WANT ( I used four large cloves)
I used my hand blender to puree these together. As I said, this is a really garlicky dish, but mojo specifically is one of those rare sauces where the garlic is meant to be burn-your-tongue fresh. The vegetable oil smooths it out, but this is definitely for garlic lovers. Also, a traditional mojo might have pork fat drippings in place of the some or all of the oil. I added some to this version, and it was delicious. Some of the mojo was the marinade for our pork, and half was reserved for fresh dipping. Once you heat it in a pan, the garlic will have less of a bite, but I like the burn.

So once the mojo is ready, throw into the fridge and start the tostones:

Peel and deep-fry 1.5" lengths of green plantain (brown/yellow is too sweet for this) until they turn a darker yellow, about 1 minute or less.

Now commences the smushing of the plantains. I made a professional-grade smusher with a little ramekin that fit into an icecream bowl. My fulcrum of smush was a meat tenderizer.

After you've smushed them all, reheat your pan and toss them back into the grease! They'll need to brown up for about 30 seconds to a minute, then allow to cool before salting lightly. Serve with mojo on the side, but don't put up with sissies who won't try it. The mojo makes the dish.