Saturday, August 6, 2011

I am back!

Well Backish.

For the 4th of July we had a bbq and a house fire (no relation). The end result is we have moved back into our own place, this time an apartment and I can begin cooking again. Sometime in the next month I should be getting my pots and pans back, then comes the fun job of stocking the pantry.

Right now we are eating alot of easy food I can make with a skillet and microwave.

Monday, April 11, 2011

It has been a LOOOOOONG time

I have not posted in a long tme and I apologize for that. the economy hit and I lost my job and my house in quick succession. I have moved in with friends and after a year found a job (half the pay of the old one) but I will not be posting more here until I am back in my own place with my own kitchen.

Monday, March 1, 2010

R2R: Chicken Mole Poblano

When I think of February, Valentines day, romance and chocolate springs to mind, So when looking for a recipe for this month I wanted something that shouted Valentines day at me. Mole, that fabulous savory chocolate pepper sauce, does that for me. Spicey and full of passion with the romance of chocolate and just as individual as those we love.

The origin of mole poblano, the thick, rich, chocolate-tinged sauce made so famous in the colonial mountain city of Puebla, Mexico, is still disputed, and generally involves these two versions of the legend:

The first says that 16th Century nuns from the Convent of Santa Rosa in Puebla de los Angeles, upon learning that the Archbishop was coming for a visit, went into a panic because they had nothing to serve him. The nuns started praying desperately and an angel came to inspire them. They began chopping and grinding and roasting, mixing different types of chiles together with spices, day-old bread, nuts, a little chocolate and approximately 20 other ingredients..

This concoction boiled for hours and was reduced to the thick, sweet, rich and fragrant mole sauce we know today. To serve in the mole, they killed the only meat they had, an old turkey, and the strange sauce was poured over it. The archbishop was more than happy with his banquet and the nuns saved face. Little did they know they were creating the Mexican National dish for holidays and feasts, and that today, millions of people worldwide have at least heard of mole poblano.

The other legend states that mole came from pre-hispanic times and that Aztec king, Moctezuma, thinking the conquistadors were gods, served mole to Cortez at a banquet to receive them. This story probably gained credibility because the word mole comes from the Nahuatl word “milli” which means sauce or “concoction”. Another connection could be that chocolate was widely used in pre-columbian mexico, so people jumped to that conclusion.

Here is the recipe I chose (mainly for its simplicity and use of fairly common ingredients) please read the notes at the end and enjoy. :)

Chicken Mole Poblano
Recipe courtesy Tyler Florence

Mole sauce:

2 dried ancho chilies, stemmed and seeded
2 dried anaheim chilies, stemmed and seeded
2 dried chipotle chilies, stemmed and seeded
1/4 cup golden raisins
1/4 cup whole almonds
1/4 cup sesame seeds
1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns
1 cinnamon stick, preferably Mexican, broken in pieces
1 tablespoon dried oregano, preferably Mexican
4 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves only
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 small onions, sliced
3 cloves garlic, chopped
2 serrano peppers, stemmed and seeded
6 plum tomatoes, chopped
2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, preferably Mexican, chopped


1 capon or large chicken, cut into 10 pieces
1 lemon, juiced
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 cups chicken stock

Cilantro leaves, for garnish
Cooked white rice, for serving

For the mole:
Tear the ancho, anaheim, and chipotle chiles into large pieces and toast them in a dry skillet over medium heat until they change color a bit, about 2 minutes.

Put them into a bowl with the raisins and cover them with hot water. Soak until softened, about 30 minutes.

In the same skillet over medium heat, add the almonds, sesame seeds, peppercorns, cinnamon stick, oregano, and thyme. Toast for 2 minutes, grind in a spice grinder, and add the powder to a blender.

In the same skillet over medium-high heat add the olive oil, onions, garlic, and serrano. Cook until lightly browned, then add the tomatoes. Cook until vegetables are softened, about 10 to 15 minutes, then add to the blender.

Add the chocolate and the soaked chiles and raisins to the blender along with some of the chile soaking liquid.

Puree, adding more soaking liquid as needed, to make a smooth sauce. (This makes about 4 cups sauce, the recipe uses 2 cups, the extra can be frozen).

for the Chicken:
Pour the lemon juice over the chicken and season it well with salt and pepper.

Heat 3 tablespoons olive oil in a large heavy-bottomed skillet and brown the chicken on all sides; remove the browned chicken to a plate leaving the oil in the pan.

Pour 2 cups of the mole sauce into the hot skillet and simmer for about 5 minutes.
Add the chicken stock and return the chicken pieces to the pan.

Simmer, covered, until the chicken is cooked through, about 20 to 25 minutes.

Serve over cooked white rice. Garnish everything with cilantro leaves.

I realize that all palates and shopping centers are not created equal, so feel free to mix and match your peppers to suite. You can look up how hot different peppers are here (Scoville scale). I skipped the serrrano on mine and while the sauce was good it was definitely missing something, so keep in mind it is important for your sauce to have a bit of bite.

The sauce is perfectly edible before the final step of adding the chicken broth (or veggie) so give it a taste and change it up as needed for your taste buds.

This sauce is suppose to be smooth, and barring commercial equipment, we are just not going to achieve that perfectly smooth texture, so don't be afraid to blend the heck out of everything.

For those not familiar with Mexican chocolate, like Ibarra, it is grainy with cocoa nibs, sugar and cinnamon. While delicious it is not the same as your regular baking chocolate.

Don't forget when working with peppers use care, wash your hands well and frequently and wear gloves, pepper juice in your eye or up your nose is not fun.

Temper's Take:
This was really really good (even if it did need those serranos I left out). It was also alot easier than I had been led to believe by some of the recipes out there. Even Indra liked it.

It smelled so good cooking, though I will admit most things smell good when you toast them. I found my self snitching bits as I put everything together.

I used chicken quarters with the skin on, the skin turned kind of soft and icky and it was hard getting the meat off the bone with a fork (the mole made this not a finger food) so next time I would use skinless breasts (or use pork, mmmm pork) to avoid these issues.

I would have loved to pair this with an Avocado salad and jazzed the rice up with some cilantro and lime but I wanted Indra to at least try it so I am saving that for next time. The tortillas though were perfect with it. I was tempted to do a chocolate dessert with the left over Ibarra but couldn't think of anything that Indra wouldn't prefer with regular chocolate, And since it was for Valentines, she gets what she wants.

Monday, February 1, 2010

R2R: Parmigiana di Melanzane

Somewhere in the world eggplant is in season. I know this because my local supermarket just got in some real beauties. So in celebration here is an Eggplant Parmesan recipe for one of my favorite Italian chefs.

Eggplant Parmesan: Parmigiana di Melanzane
Recipe courtesy Mario Batali

Ingredients•2 pounds (about 2 medium-sized) eggplant
•4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
•1 cup fresh bread crumbs, seasoned with 1/4 chopped fresh basil leaves and 1/4 cup pecorino
•2 cups Basic Tomato Sauce, recipe follows
•1 pound ball fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced
•1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Wash and towel dry the eggplant. Slice the eggplant horizontally about 1/4-inch thick. Place the slices in a large colander, sprinkle with salt and set aside to rest about 30 minutes. Drain and rinse the eggplant and dry on towels.

In a sauté pan, heat the extra-virgin olive oil until just smoking. Press the drained eggplant pieces into the seasoned bread crumb mixture and sauté until light golden brown on both sides. Repeat with all of the pieces. On a cookie sheet lay out the 4 largest pieces of eggplant. Place 2 tablespoons of tomato sauce over each piece and place a thin slice of mozzarella on top of each. Sprinkle with Parmigiano and top each with the next smallest piece of eggplant, then sauce then mozzarella. Repeat the layering process until all the ingredients have been used, finishing again with the Parmigiano. Place the pan in the oven and bake until the top of each little stack is golden brown and bubbly, about 15 minutes.

Basic Tomato Sauce:
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 Spanish onion, chopped into 1/4-inch dice
4 cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
3 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves, chopped
1/2 medium carrot, finely shredded
2 (28-ounce) cans peeled whole tomatoes

In a 3-quart saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook until soft and light golden brown, about 8 to 10 minutes. Add the thyme and carrot and cook 5 minutes more, until the carrot is quite soft. Add the tomatoes and juice and bring to a boil, stirring often. Lower the heat and simmer for 30 minutes until as thick as hot cereal. Season with salt and serve.

This sauce holds 1 week in the refrigerator or up to 6 months in the freezer.

Fresh bread crumbs are required for the coating to stick without an egg wash.
The oil must be HOT HOT HOT or the eggplant will not cook fast enough and will be a greasy soggy mess.
The Mozzarella must be very thinly sliced or the eggplant tower will slide (it will still taste great)

Temper's Take:
I am in love, it was so much easier than I expected and oh soooo good! The only down side is I eat it alone as Indra does not like stinky cheese (she claims Parmesan smells like old gym socks). But that did mean more for me so maybe that was a positive after all. FYI it is also good made with zucchini just layered in a casserole and not fried.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

R2R: Old World Rye

The Winner of our holiday poll for November was bread. And that makes me the host. I love bread, fresh from the oven with butter or in bread pudding once it is stale, the whole bread experience is a good one for me.

After much deliberation I decided I wanted a dark robust bread, something to go with stew and cheese or just to gobble down on its own. The kind you get at steak houses.

I looked at alot of different recipes before deciding to share my love of older cookbooks (I would say old but 1966 isn't that long ago). A World of Breads by Dolores Casella is one of those treasures you find on occasion, every recipe comes with a little story and the recipes themselves are pretty comprehensive. There are 8 rye bread recipes for example. I choose this one because of the addition of chocolate and molasses, though I will admit her story influenced me too.

This bread is moist and dark with lots of flavor. In Germany during the Second World War people were so hungry for good bread that they used to beg soldiers for what they called "soldiers' bread" -- dark, heavy, and full of flavor. I can only think that that bread was very similar to this one.

Old World Rye
A World of Breads by Dolores Casella, 1966
2 cups rye flour
1/4 cup cocoa
2 T yeast
1 1/2 cups warm water
1/2 cup molasses
2 tsp salt
2 T caraway seed
2 T butter
2 1/2 cups white flour or whole wheat flour

Combine the rye flour and cocoa. do not sift.
Dissolve the yeast in 1/2 cup warm water.
Mix molasses, 1 cup warm water, salt, and caraway seed in large mixing bowl.
Add the rye/cocoa mix, the proofed yeast, the butter and 1 cup white flour or whole wheat flour.
Beat until the dough is smooth.
Spread the remaining flour on a breadboard and kneed it into the dough
Add more flour if necessary to make a firm dough that is smooth and elastic.
Place in buttered bowl and cover. Allow to rise until double (about 2 hours).
Punch dough down, shape into a round loaf and place on a buttered cookie sheet that has been sprinkled with cornmeal.
Let rise about 50 minutes.
Bake at 375 for 35 to 40 minutes.

You can add 1/2 cup brown sugar and 1 cup each of raisins and walnuts.
Don't limit yourself to round loaves, have fun.

And to prove that man CAN live by bread alone....
Back in the 1930's, a Cornell University professor named Clive McCay developed a bread recipe named Cornell Bread. It makes a complete protein that rats can live on exclusively. (The only reason that humans can't live on it exclusively is that it lacks vitamin C, which rats don't need.)

The Cornell formula to enrich bread consists of 1 tablespoon each soy flour and nonfat milk powder plus 1 teaspoon wheat germ for each cup of flour used in a bread recipe. These enrichments are placed in the bottom of the measuring cup before the flour is spooned in.

Temper's Take:
This was a dense moist bread that was darn good. I forgot the caraway seeds so it wasn't very ryey but the molasses taste came thru beautifully. I was disappointed that it wasn't a really dark chocolate brown more of a milk chocolate brown, but I have been told that color requires chemical additives (shame on you steak houses).

Monday, November 2, 2009

R2R: Onion Soup

Sorry I am a little late posting once again, I think my new years resolution had better be something about procrastination and better planning :). Though in My defence I did complete the challenge early I just didn't write the post.

Our host for October was Sara of, she choose Onion Soup (I am not sure how it differs from French onion soup) by Thomas Keller. The recipe is surprisingly easy but it is crucial to read it all the way thru before you start.

Onion Soup - Soupe A L'Oignon
Thomas Keller - Bouchon
makes 6 servings

2 bay leaves
12 black peppercorns
6 large sprigs of thyme

8 pounds (about 8 large) yellow onions
8 tablespoons (4 ounces) unsalted butter
Kosher salt
1 1/2 teaspoons all purpose flour
3 1/2 quarts Beef Stock (recipe below)
Freshly ground black pepper
Sherry wine vinegar

1 baguette (about 2 1/2 inches in diameter)
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Kosher salt

6 to 12 slices (1/8 inch thick) aged Comte or Emmentaler cheese (at least 4 inches square)
1 1/2 cups grated aged Comte or Emmentaler cheeses, or a combination

The more basic the soup, the more critical the details: Slice the onions uniformly and brown them very slowly and evenly; slice the bread a half inch thick and dry it completely in the oven; and serve the soup in appropriately sized bowls so that the melted cheese extends over the rim. When you hit it right, there's nothing more satisfying to cook or to eat than this soup.

It's worth reiterating the importance of cooking the onions slowly so that the natural sugars caramelize rather than brown through high heating sautéing. The onions cook for about five hours and need to be stirred often, but they can be made up to two days ahead. The soup is best if refrigerated for a day or two so that the flavors of the onion and beef broth can deepen.

Comte is traditionally the cheese of choice, but Emmentaler works as well. Gruyère is a bit strong. Use an aged cheese; a younger cheese would just melt and wouldn't form a crust.

FOR THE SACHET: Cut a piece of cheesecloth about 7 inches square. Place the bay leaves, peppercorns, and thyme in the center, bring up the edges, and tie with kitchen twine to form a sachet.

FOR THE SOUP: Cut off the tops and bottoms of the onions, then cut the onions lengthwise in half. Remove the peels and tough outer layers. Cut a V wedge in each one to remove the core and pull out any solid, flat pieces of onion running up from the core.

Lay an onion half cut side down on a cutting board with the root end toward you. Note that there are lines on the outside of the onion. Cutting on the lines (with the grain) rather than against them will help the onions soften. Holding the knife on an angle, almost parallel to the board, cut the onion lengthwise into 1/4 inch thick slices. Once you've cut past the center of the onion, the knife angle will become awkward: Flip the onion onto its side, toward the knife, and finish slicing it, again along the grain. Separate the slices of onion, trimming away any root sections that are still attached and holding the slices together. Repeat with the remaining onions. (You should have about 7 quarts of onions)

Melt the butter in a large heavy stockpot over medium heat. Add the onions and 1 tablespoon salt, reduce the heat to low. Cook, stirring every 15 minutes and regulating the heat to keep the mixture bubbling gently, for about 1 hour, or until the onions have wilted and released a lot of liquid. At this point, you can turn up the heat slightly to reduce the liquid, but it is important to continue to cook the onions slowly to develop maximum flavor and keep them from scorching. Continue to stir the onions every 15 minutes, being sure to scrape the bottom and get in the corners of the pot, for about 4 hours more, or until the onions are caramelized throughout and a rich deep brown. (my note - like a super deep brown, like way browner than you think they need to be. Think poop. Yes I said it.) Keep a closer eye on the onions toward the end of the cooking when the liquid has evaporated. Remove from the heat. (You will need 1 1/2 cups of onions for the soup; reserve any extra for another use. The onions can be made up to 2 days ahead and refrigerated.)

Transfer the caramelized onions to a 5 quart pot (if they've been refrigerated, reheat until hot.) Sift in the flour and cook over medium-high heat, stirring, for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the beef stock and sachet, bring to a simmer, and simmer for about 1 hour, or until the liquid is reduced to 2 1/2 quarts. Season to taste with salt, pepper, and a few drops of vinegar. Remove from the heat.

FOR THE CROUTONS: Preheat the broiler. Cut twelve 3/8 inch thick slices from the baguette (reserve the remainder for another use) and place on a baking sheet. Brush the bread lightly on both sides with olive oil and sprinkle lightly with salt. Place under the broiler and toast the first side until golden brown, then turn and brown the second side. Set aside and leave the broiler on.

TO COMPLETE: Return the soup to a simmer. Place six flameproof soup tureens, with about 1 1/2 cups capacity on a baking sheet to catch any spills (the soup will bubble up and over the tureens). Add the hot soup to the tureens, filling them within 1/2 inch of the tops. Top each serving with 2 croutons: Lay them on the surface - do not push them into the soup. Lay the slices of cheese over the croutons so that the cheese overlaps the edges of the tureens by about 1/2 inch, Scatter the grated cheese over the sliced cheese, filling in any areas where the sliced cheese is thinner, or it may melt into the soup rather than forming a crust.

Place the tureens under the broiler for a few minutes, until the cheese bubbles, browns, and forms a thick crust. Eat carefully, the soup and tureens will be very hot.

Temper's Take:
First of all this soup is fantastic! and I have plans to make it again and again. Seriously when you see instruction to cook something until it looks like poop you don't expect the exquisite goodness that is the onions for this soup. I almost stopped right there and just ate the onions with a spoon.

I learned several things when making this recipe, for example 4 onions makes between 4 and 6 coups of pure onion bliss. Also said onions can be frozen for future use (instant soup anyone?). Also a toaster works just as well as a broiler for making toast (imagine that). And lastly, I really want a flame thrower and some of the really cool onion soup bowls.

I am thinking making this with garlic and maybe shallots or leeks could be really nice, maybe in the future...

Monday, October 5, 2009

CHD: Boiled Cider Pie

I have dropped Daring bakers for this. Classic Home Desserts: A Treasury of Heirloom and Contemporary Recipes from Around the World. There were just too many cakes, too much chocolate, and too expensive ingredients for me to keep doing Daring Bakers, but I like making a new dessert once a month. So I am doing a recipe a month from Richard Sax's 'Classic Home Desserts'

Here is how it works, I pick the chapter (random number) and Indra picks the recipe that sounds good to her. I then make it, but smaller (there is just two of us) and a second time with a variation. If anyone wants in on the fun email me and I will let you know what I am doing this month.

In September I did Boiled Cider Pie and Boiled Pom Pie for variation. The hardest part was making the boiled cider / pom because no where did it tell me exactly what consistency I was looking for (1/10 to 1/20 seams to be the consensus). So I settled for molasses thickness, next time I think I will go for a more syrupy product.

Boiled Cider

Take a whole bunch of pure apple cider/juice (no extra sugar, vitamins or chemicals, just apple) and simmer, do not boil!, until it is the desired consistency. Or use apple juice concentrate. Repeat for the POM Syrup.

Boiled Cider Pie
Classic Home Desserts by Richard Sax
serves 8+, preheat oven to 375
1 pie crust
2/3 cup boiled cider
2 tablespoons sugar, or to taste
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon unsalted butter, melted
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
pinch salt
2 large eggs well beaten
2 tart apples, such as granny smith, peeled, cored and coarsely grated
3 tablespoons packed brown sugar
fresh nutmeg
whipped cream for serving

Roll out your pie dough and place in pie plate, turn edge under and make it pretty then chill in the fridge.

In bowl beat together Boiled Cider, Sugar, Melted Butter, Lemon Juice, Salt and Eggs. Add the grated apple and stir to blend well.

Pour into pie crust, sprinkle with brown sugar and nutmeg and bake until the center is just set, usually about 50 minutes.

Cool until just warm and serve.

Tempers Take:
As I was mixing this up I realized it is basically a fruit based pecan pie. which made me think. I have alot of ideas for this in the future, can you imagine a peach version?

The boiled cider was a revelation and I have plenty left and lots of ideas (including Xmas gifts) It made the house smell so good while it was cooking, but I let it boil at the end and it got a little brown taste (a good excuse to do it again).

I made little tarts instead of a pie and made half apple and half POM. The apple was good but not spectacular, The POM was interesting, it turned out pretty tart and definitely needed the whipped cream to mellow it out. Indra and I agreed while it was good the POM would have been spectacular with chocolate, oh well a project for another time.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

R2R: Boeuf Bourguignon

This month to celebrate Julia Child's Birthday and the release of the movie 'Julie and Julia' Recipes to Rival did Boeuf Bourguignon. Honestly the hardest part of this challenge was learning to pronounce it. I still mangle it, but I think a french person might possibly recognize what I am saying.

Boeuf Bourguignon
Yield: For 6 people

A 6-ounce chunk of bacon
1 Tb olive oil or cooking oil
3 lbs. lean stewing beef cut into 2-inch cubes (see Notes)
1 sliced carrot
1 sliced onion
1 tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper
2 Tb flour
3 cups of a full-bodied, young red wine such as one of those suggested for serving, or a Chianti
2 to 3 cups brown beef stock
1 Tb tomato paste
2 cloves mashed garlic
½ tsp thyme
A crumbled bay leaf
The blanched bacon rind
18 to 24 small white onions, brown-braised in stock
1 lb. quartered fresh mushrooms sautéed in butter
Parsley sprigs

Remove bacon rind and cut bacon into lardons (sticks, ¼ inch thick and 1½ inches long). Simmer rind and bacon for 10 minutes in 1½ quarts of water. Drain and dry.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Sauté the bacon in the oil over moderate heat for 2 to 3 minutes to brown lightly. Remove to a side dish with a slotted spoon. Set casserole aside. Reheat until fat is almost smoking before you sauté the beef.

Dry the beef in paper towels; it will not brown if it is damp. Sauté it, a few pieces at a time, in the hot oil and bacon fat until nicely browned on all sides. Add it to the bacon.

In the same fat, brown the sliced vegetables. Pour out the sautéing fat.

Return the beef and bacon to the casserole and toss with the salt and pepper. Then sprinkle on the flour and toss again to coat the beef lightly with the flour. Set casserole uncovered in middle position of preheated oven for 4 minutes. Toss the meat and return to oven for 4 minutes more. (This browns the flour and covers the meat with a light crust.) Remove casserole, and turn oven down to 325 degrees.

Stir in the wine, and enough stock or bouillon so that the meat is barely covered. Add the tomato paste, garlic, herbs, and bacon rind. Bring to simmer on top of the stove. Then cover the casserole and set in lower third of preheated oven. Regulate heat so liquid simmers very slowly for 2½ to 3 hours. The meat is done when a fork pierces it easily.

While the beef is cooking, prepare the onions and mushrooms. Set them aside until needed.

When the meat is tender, pour the contents of the casserole into a sieve set over a saucepan. Wash out the casserole and return the beef and bacon to it. Distribute the cooked onions and mushrooms over the meat.

Skim fat off the sauce. Simmer sauce for a minute or two, skimming off additional fat as it rises. You should have about 2½ cups of sauce thick enough to coat a spoon lightly. If too thin, boil it down rapidly. If too thick, mix in a few tablespoons of stock or canned bouillon. Taste carefully for seasoning. Pour the sauce over the meat and vegetables.

Recipe may be completed in advance to this point.

FOR IMMEDIATE SERVING: Cover the casserole and simmer for 2 to 3 minutes, basting the meat and vegetables with the sauce several times. Serve in its casserole, or arrange the stew on a platter surrounded with potatoes, noodles, or rice, and decorated with parsley.

FOR LATER SERVING: When cold, cover and refrigerate. About I5 to 20 minutes before serving, bring to the simmer, cover, and simmer very slowly for 10 minutes, occasionally basting the meat and vegetables with the sauce.

Equipment: A 9- to 10-inch fireproof casserole 3 inches deep and a slotted spoon

Cuts of Meat for Stewing:
The better the meat, the better the stew. While cheaper and coarser cuts may be used, the following are most recommended. Count on one pound of boneless meat, trimmed of fat, for two people; three if the rest of the menu is large.

First choice: Rump Pot Roast (Pointe de Culotte or Aiguillette de Rumsteck)

Other choices:
Chuck Pot Roast (Paleron or Macreuse a Pot-au-feu), Sirloin Tip (Tranche Grasse), Top Round (Tende de Tranche), or Bottom Round (Gîte a la Noix).

Vegetable and Wine Suggestions:
Boiled potatoes are traditionally served with this dish. Buttered noodles or steamed rice may be substituted. If you also wish a green vegetable, buttered peas would be your best choice. Serve with the beef a fairly full-bodied, young red wine, such as Beaujolais, Côtes du Rhône, Bordeaux-St. Émilion, or Burgundy.

Temper's Take:
This was a big hit at our house despite my using Indra's 'Good' wine. The sauce in particular was scrumptious! as Indra said 'Just give me a bowl of the sauce and I would be happy'. She is even coming to appreciate a good mushroom now that I am figuring out how to cook a good mushroom.

What I learned... When browning meat do a very little at a time, make sure it is very dry and the pan very hot. Wine must be a whole lot cheaper than here for them to cook with it so much. Cooking with wine tastes good! I learned to brown braise onions, and see alot more of this technique in my future.

The wine... Shooting Star Cabernet Sauvignon Lake County 2006 very full bodied, very good. Indra was not happy that I used the last of it and I predict a shopping trip in the future.

some day i swear I will learn to take good pictures. Someday

Monday, September 7, 2009

Julie and Julia

Indra and I saw this movie over the Labor Day weekend. She had of course read all the reviews and what all the foodies had to say, me not so much.

To start with let me say I have never really watched any of the Julia Child cooking shows or read any of her books. This is partially due to my aversion to anything commercialized (and widely popular) and partially because her voice and over enthusiastic presentation have always grated on me. As I was explaining this to Indra and acknowledging Julia's contribution to American cooking of course, Indra described Julia in a way that gave me a whole new perspective, and appreciation for her work. Are you ready? Here it is..... Julia Child is a Muppet!

No really, think about it! Funny voice, larger than life, big sweeping gestures, boundless enthusiasm, the whole thing -- definitely Muppety. And as Indra puts it just like a Muppet she is different and people like her in the real world when you are different people don't like you. So I am all on board the Julia Child is a Muppet train, it definitely makes watching her shows more entertaining.

But I was talking about the movie, Meryl Streep great, duh, the food was mouth watering and inspiring, the company great, but what about the rest of it? Well let’s see. Plot? Well it is about a blog, and blogs don't usually have plots, but whatever. Entertaining? It was, definitely entertaining, but even so. I did not need Julia Child and sex linked in my visual memory. Would the movie have been better without Julie? No, not really, while Julie doesn't really compare to Julia, except perhaps in their love of food and their men, she bridged the gap between the goddess of French cooking and average everyday Americans like me. It is kind of ironic when you think about it. Bringing us clueless, servant less Americans to love and prepare French cuisine – well that’s what Julia was all about to start with.

You don't have to be a foodie to enjoy this, but I guarantee afterwards you will crave some good French cooking. Make a day of it and take your honey to a nice French restaurant, or if they are a foodie like me, take them to the pots and pan store and shell out some dough for some of the beautiful cookware featured in the movie, or get one of Julia's biographies and Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Your reward will undoubtedly be many luscious French meals.


It has been a bit since my last post for which I apologize. It is not that I haven't been eating (or cooking) it has been I felt like crap, mostly anyway.

For those of you that don't follow Facebook and aren't members of Recipes to Rival (shame on you) I spent a week in the hospital and three weeks on either side of that feeling slightly better than crap. So I spent my whole month not eating, not cooking and not doing much of anything not required for basic survival.

I learned a couple things this month, like after a week of juice, malt-o-meal can make me cry and when you have a fever of 104 an ice bath is a lovely thing. I also learned that I have no idea how to clean and hiring a maid once in a while will make my life much much cleaner (and happier). I also learned that you can't dry heave forever, eventually you will find something to get rid of (not my most favorite discovery).

Most importantly I rediscovered how great my friends are, the one that took care of the car payment, the one that paid the electric bill and the one that got the new water heater on their Lowe's card. Not to mention the constant calls to see how I was doing and offering to drive an hour to take Indra shopping or pick up meds.

So Thanks all, and I got alot of catching up to do. :)

Sunday, August 2, 2009

R2R: Bruschetta and Limoncello

oops, this got saved as draft instead of published.

This month's challenge is brought to you by Lauren of Fried Pickles and Ice Cream.
A little summer taste of Italy! A delicious and simple antipasta (appetizer), Bruschetta and a digestivo (after-dinner drink), Limoncello.

(4 servings)
4 slices Rustic Bread
2 cups chopped Roma Tomatoes
1 clove Garlic
4 to 8 leaves Basil
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Sea salt

-Heat grill or grill pan to medium high heat
-Slice THICK pieces of bread
-Place bread on grill until each side has a nice golden color
-Rub garlic on top side of each bread piece
-Pile tomatoes on
-sprinkle one big pinch of salt per piece on top of the tomatoes
-generously drizzle oilve oil on top of tomatoes (about 2 to 3 tablespoons per piece)
-add basil to the top

1 liter grain alcohol
5 1/2 cups water
5 large lemons (or 10 small lemons)
2 1/2 cups sugar

-Gently wash lemons in cool water to remove any dirt
-Peel away zest from lemon leaving as little pith (the white stiff) as possible.
-Put peels in a large sealed jar or container (I reused the alcohol bottle)
-Pour alcohol over peels and place container in a cool place.
-Leave the mixture for 7 days.
-Every day give the container a little swirl. You will see the alcohol become darker and darker every day.
-After 7 days, strain the alcohol by using a coffee filter.
-Prepare the simple syrup. Bring the water to a boil and add the sugar to dissolve.
-Mix the syrup with the alcohol. BE CAREFUL... DO NOT DO THIS NEAR A FLAME!!!
-Pour the limoncello into bottles or containers. Let cool completely. Store in the freezer until ready to serve!
*Date your limoncello. After a year it will no longer be delicious.

Temper's Take:
The brushetta was wonderful, like Lauren said the garlic just melted into the bread and the tomatoes and olive oil were lovely. Unfortunately it was apparently a bad week for basil and what I found i wouldn't eat, so I let a little dried sit in the olive oil for several hours and decorated the top with Kale. I am thinking this would be a good excuse to invest in some really nice olive oil and it would be a great starter for an evening of grilling. It was a hit with us.
The limoncello suffered from car troubles and a dry county, with no car I couldn't find anyone to drive me an hour to the closest liqueur store, so i tried putting my lemon peels in a simple syrup. It was pretty and turned a delicate yellow color almost immediately. It did not however darken and a week later I had lemon cleaner. So the lesson i learned was sugar does not solve everything and procrastination is bad, cause I could see how it would be a scrumptious tipple, I just never reached that point.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

R2R: Beef Wellington

This months host is Mz Kitchen of Madame Chow's Kitchen. She is helping us launch our new website and celebrate our 1 yr Anniversary with this great recipe! Beef Wellington! This is one of those fancy smancy dishes that was on my I'll never be able to make list. Guess what I was wrong :) Here is the official post Beef Wellington also check out the wonderful pictures here Living in the Kitchen with Puppies. If that doesn't convince you to make your own nothing will.

Beef Wellington

For the Duxelles:
3 pints (1 1/2 pounds) white button mushrooms
2 shallots, peeled and roughly chopped
4 cloves garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
2 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves only
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the Beef:
1 (3-pound) center cut beef tenderloin (filet mignon), trimmed
Extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 sprigs of fresh thyme, leaves only
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
Flour, for rolling out puff pastry
1 pound puff pastry, thawed if using frozen (follow directions on the package)
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
8 ounces mousse pate, available in specialty cheese and appetizer cases of larger markets (optional)


To make the Duxelles:

Add mushrooms, shallots, garlic, and thyme to a food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Add butter and olive oil to a large saute pan and set over medium heat. Add the shallot and mushroom mixture and saute for 8 to 10 minutes until most of the liquid has evaporated. Season with salt and pepper and set aside to cool completely.

To prepare the beef:

Tie the tenderloin in 4 places so it holds its cylindrical shape while cooking. Drizzle with olive oil, then season with salt and pepper and sear all over, including the ends, in a hot, heavy-based skillet lightly coated with olive oil - about 2 to 3 minutes.

Using a rubber spatula cover evenly with a thin layer of duxelles. Season the surface of the duxelles with salt and pepper and sprinkle with fresh thyme leaves. When the beef is seared, remove from heat, cut off twine and smear lightly all over with Dijon mustard. Allow to cool completely.

I made the duxelles and seared the tenderloin about 10 hours in advance, and refrigerated both of them. It is important that these items are cold because you will be working with puff pastry, and if they're warm, they may cause the dough to melt before you get it in the oven.

About an hour before you plan to serve the Beef Wellington,preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

On a lightly floured surface, roll the puff pastry out to about a 1/4-inch thickness. Depending on the size of your sheets you may have to overlap 2 sheets and press them together.

Spread the duxelles mixture down in a column down the middle of the rolled out puff pastry. Thinly slice the mousse and cover the duxelles with it - every square millimeter doesn't have to be covered, but you're trying to make sure that every serving gets beef, duxelle, and mousse.

Remove beef from refrigerator. Set the beef in the center of the pastry and brush all the edges of the pastry with egg wash. Fold the longer sides over the beef, and seal. Trim ends if necessary then brush with egg wash and fold over to completely seal the beef - saving ends to use as a decoration on top if desired. Place the beef seam side down on a baking sheet.

Brush the top of the pastry with egg wash then make a couple of slits in the top of the pastry using the tip of a paring knife - this creates vents that will allow the steam to escape when cooking. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes until pastry is golden brown and beef registers 125 degrees F (rare) on an instant-read thermometer. Remove from oven and rest before cutting into 3/4-inch thick slices

Temper's Take:
Being on a budget I made my own mousse with chicken livers, bacon and butter. I would do it differently if I did it again, more bacon grease for starters and cook the liver in smaller batches for quality control, but it wasn't have bad for liver paste.

The puff pastry crust was lovely and something I will be playing with in the future. But other than that I had a few issues. The biggest issues is I did not get the duxelles dry enough and so ended up with soup on the bottom of my pan. No biggy, next time I will know better, and there will be a next time my little mushroom friends, muhahahaha. Sorry about that, it had to be said.

The last issue was the biggest for me, Dijon mustard, blech! I hated what it did to the flavor! It had worked fine with the Steak Diane but here it was a total flop! I think I need to invest in a mustard I will actually eat and leave the emiril stuff alone.

This recipe definitely needs a redo, fortunately with a slightly cheaper cut of meat, and making my own pate I can afford it.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Cookie Carnival: Strawberry Shortcake Cookies

Strawberry Shortcake Cookies, by Martha Stewart
These tender cookies are made with cream and studded with sweet strawberries for a portable version of a classic dessert.
Makes about 3 dozen.
* 12 ounces strawberries, hulled and cut into 1/4-inch dice (2 cups)
* 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
* 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
* 2 cups all-purpose flour
* 2 teaspoons baking powder
* 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
* 3 ounces (6 tablespoons) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
* 2/3 cup heavy cream
* Sanding sugar, for sprinkling

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Combine strawberries, lemon juice, and 2 tablespoons granulated sugar. Whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, and remaining
7 tablespoons granulated sugar in a large bowl. Cut in the butter with a pastry cutter, or rub in with your fingers, until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in cream until dough starts to come together, then stir in strawberry mixture.
2. Using a 1 1/2-inch ice cream scoop or a tablespoon, drop dough onto baking sheets lined with parchment, spacing evenly apart. Sprinkle with sanding sugar, and bake until golden brown, 24 to 25 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack, and let cool. Cookies are best served immediately, but can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 day.

Temper's Take:
They pretty much live up to their description a portable version of Strawberry Shortcake. I love real strawberry shortcake. During the summer we use to pick strawberries in 5 gallon buckets. There were evening when that was supper. And none of that sponge cake stuff you get from the unenlightened. Ah those were the days.

for an on the go treat these weren't bad, they went together quick which is good considering their short life span, but really I prefer the real stuff. maybe with some other fruit...

Saturday, June 27, 2009

DB: Bakewell Tart

The June Daring Bakers' challenge was hosted by Jasmine of Confessions of a Cardamom Addict and Annemarie of Ambrosia and Nectar. They chose a Traditional (UK) Bakewell Tart... er... pudding that was inspired by a rich baking history dating back to the 1800's in England.

Bakewell Tart…er…pudding
Makes one 23cm (9” tart)
One quantity sweet shortcrust pastry (recipe follows)
Bench flour
250ml (1cup (8 US fl. oz)) jam or curd, warmed for spreadability
One quantity frangipane (recipe follows)
One handful blanched, flaked almonds

Assembling the tart
Place the chilled dough disc on a lightly floured surface. If it's overly cold, you will need to let it become acclimatised for about 15 minutes before you roll it out. Flour the rolling pin and roll the pastry to 5mm (1/4”) thickness, by rolling in one direction only (start from the centre and roll away from you), and turning the disc a quarter turn after each roll. When the pastry is to the desired size and thickness, transfer it to the tart pan, press in and trim the excess dough. Patch any holes, fissures or tears with trimmed bits. Chill in the freezer for 15 minutes.

Preheat oven to 200C/400F.

Remove shell from freezer, spread as even a layer as you can of jam onto the pastry base. Top with frangipane, spreading to cover the entire surface of the tart. Smooth the top and pop into the oven for 30 minutes. Five minutes before the tart is done, the top will be poofy and brownish. Remove from oven and strew flaked almonds on top and return to the heat for the last five minutes of baking.

The finished tart will have a golden crust and the frangipane will be tanned, poofy and a bit spongy-looking. Remove from the oven and cool on the counter. Serve warm, with crème fraîche, whipped cream or custard sauce if you wish.

When you slice into the tart, the almond paste will be firm, but slightly squidgy and the crust should be crisp but not tough.

Sweet shortcrust pastry
225g (8oz) all purpose flour
30g (1oz) sugar
2.5ml (½ tsp) salt
110g (4oz) unsalted butter, cold (frozen is better)
2 (2) egg yolks
2.5ml (½ tsp) almond extract (optional)
15-30ml (1-2 Tbsp) cold water

Sift together flour, sugar and salt. Grate butter into the flour mixture, using the large hole-side of a box grater. Using your finger tips only, and working very quickly, rub the fat into the flour until the mixture resembles bread crumbs. Set aside.

Lightly beat the egg yolks with the almond extract (if using) and quickly mix into the flour mixture. Keep mixing while dribbling in the water, only adding enough to form a cohesive and slightly sticky dough.

Form the dough into a disc, wrap in cling and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes

125g (4.5oz) unsalted butter, softened
125g (4.5oz) icing sugar
3 (3) eggs
2.5ml (½ tsp) almond extract
125g (4.5oz) ground almonds
30g (1oz) all purpose flour

Cream butter and sugar together for about a minute or until the mixture is primrose in colour and very fluffy. Scrape down the side of the bowl and add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. The batter may appear to curdle. In the words of Douglas Adams: Don’t panic. Really. It’ll be fine. After all three are in, pour in the almond extract and mix for about another 30 seconds and scrape down the sides again. With the beaters on, spoon in the ground nuts and the flour. Mix well. The mixture will be soft, keep its slightly curdled look (mostly from the almonds) and retain its pallid yellow colour.

Temper's Take:
I chose to make a chocolate-cherry tart and mini-tarts with chocolate, lemon or black and blueberry jam. All were good, some were just better than others, more on that later. Would I make it again? Definitely (with some adjustments) it is pretty simple and looks and tastes fancy, whats not to like?

The best flavors where the lemon curd and the plain chocolate. I also preferred the mini-tart size, it was just so cute and bite sized! The almond flavor of the frangipane is so simple and delicate that the more complicated flavors overwhelmed it and the Morrelle Cherry jam was just to rich. The simple tartness of the lemons and the rich smoothness of the chocolate was a wonderful match. There are definitely other flavor combos out there I am going to have to play with.

I especially love the way the frangipane turned out, I was afraid it would have a puddeny texture but it was closer to a cake texture wise. The mini-tarts showed this better and I liked their color better, the tart fell a little when I removed it from the oven and got a bubbly top which wasn't as pretty. I think that is just an experience thing. I am thinking of using a pie pan instead of a tart pan next time so I can have more frangipane.

The crust had an exorbitant amount of butter in it and as I did not make a thick crust I couldn't see where it added that much to the flavor. Next time I may just go with a regular crust or try a different shortbread crust (I have one I use with cheese cake that is very nice).

Monday, June 8, 2009

4 stars and mushrooms

My love affair with mushrooms started in my childhood with Morels. Every spring my father and a bunch of friends would go morel hunting. Later while they were enjoying an orgy of mutual grooming (morel season is also tick season) Mom cook up the days bounty.

I will never forget the taste of those mushrooms. They were sweet and nutty and meltingly good. I have no idea what Mom did to them (other than use butter) but it was good. Every spring I still get the craving for morels but alas they are not to be found here in Texas and dried is just not the same.

It should there for come as no surprise when the Mushroom Council invited me to attend an event at Abacus to discuss mushrooms and their changing roles in cuisine and the food industry with recipe demo and 3 course meal by chef Kent Rathburn I jumped at it. I mean 4 star restaurant, Iron chef winner (take that Flay) and mushrooms, how could it be better?

I will tell you how, I got to meet Kelly of Evil Shenanigans, she was the other blogger present. The pictures in this post are from her since my camera batteries died after 1 picture. To be honest she did a better job then I ever could have. Go see her post about the event here.

Actually this post is just a teaser, I am writing an article about the experience for Blake Makes magazine that will have actual recipes and other cool information in it (but probably not alot of me gushing about how great it was).

Chef Kent Rathburn demonstrated three techniques for cooking mushrooms in three recipes featuring 6 diffrent readily available mushrooms. He did a 'Wood Grilled Portabella and Oyster Mushroom Pizza with Gorgonzola, Rocket Greens Salad', a 'Pan Roasted Shitake and Button Mushroom Linguine with Braised Veal Shank, Port Demi' and a 'Crimini and Maitake Mushroom Ragu with Grilled Romano Cheese Polenta'. It was easy to see why Chef Rathburn beat Flay on Iron Chef, all three dishes were fantastic and show cased the mushrooms beautifully. I have made up my mind it is worth saving the money for truely fine dining as opposed to eating out more often at chain resturaunts.

I will admit that the Pizza was my favorite (and with any luck it will be the recipe in the magazine). Two things in this dish reduced me to happy sounds and silly smiles. The first was of course the mushrooms, delicately smoked and oh so tender, good lord I could have eaten them straight up and been happy. The second thing was the oven roasted cherry tomatoes. They were like little savory raisins, sweet, tangy and a hint of herbs. These are definitely going on my make them often list and Indra can just suffer in her little tomato free zone, cause they are just that good. (I will put the instructions for these at the bottom of this post). He topped the pizza with a rocket and gorganzola salad, somehow all the flavors came together to make me like gogonzola and rocket salad with a lemon vinigret (not something I thought possible). This dish has made me rethink all those fancy cookbooks I have been shunning as pretensious and overly complicated.

The second dish was very good but just did not wow me. I will admit the veal was melt in you mouth smooth and flavorful, and perhaps that was the problem I wanted more of the delicious sauteed mushrooms darn it! Now I know veal is a bad word and I can understand the objections, I just am not sure I support the cause 100%. I definitly support eating tasty food, and veal fits that catagory, but all things considered it may be one of those foods that is just not worth the price for me.

The final dish was a revelation to me, the polenta cake was light and fluffy in texture, not something I thought you could do with polenta. Add some maitake mushrooms (Kelly and I both swore they had a sweet floral / honey note to them) and I was sold.

I learned that mushrooms are the only fruit or vegetable that contains vitamin D. Mushrooms are a very eco friendly crop (lots of recycling) and wasn't the video fun as it tried to avoid saying exactly what the major component in the growth medium was. We also learned that most mushroom growers would love to give you a tour of their facility. Definitely something I am going to try.

Don't forget to check out the Mushroom Councils website and Blog for recipes, news and contests.

To make Oven roasted Cherry tomatoes heat your oven to the extreemely high temprature of 180. cut your tomatoes in half and toss them with a little roasted garlic oil and herbs. spread face up on baking sheet and roast for about 1.5 hours. Nothing should get crispy. remove and enjoy, they will stay good for a week or so with proper care put they are not like raisin that you can stuff in the cupboard and will still be good months later.