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 imafoodblog.com, 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.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

DB: Apple Strudel!

The May Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Linda of make life sweeter! and Courtney of Coco Cooks. They chose Apple Strudel from the recipe book Kaffeehaus: Exquisite Desserts from the Classic Cafés of Vienna, Budapest and Prague by Rick Rodgers.

Pictures are coming this weekend, I killed my computer with all the pictures on it on Monday and won't have time to fis it until then.

Ok, this is one of those dishes I would not in a million years have guessed I could actually do. I am not known for my delicate touch or dexterity. So, if I can do it so can you!

The recipe can be found HERE. It is a long one but once you break it down really easy to do.

The dough has four ingredients (one is Water)and can be mixed by hand easily. The filling is as complicated as you make it, sliced apples cinnamon / sugar and raisins soaked in brandy is all the original recipe calls for. Or create your own goodness (I did a chocolate cherry jam one for variety). Throw in some browned bread crumbs and you are set.

The actual stretching of the dough went pretty well, there where some holes but nothing too major and I got it pretty darn thin. But I think next time I am going to play with the flour vs liquid ratios a little since my dough was stickier than I was happy with.

Temper's Take:
First of all let me say OH MY GOD chocolate cherry strudel is Luscious! This is a taste combination i will be playing with again. The apple was also good, I used dried cherries instead of raisins and it definitely worked fine. Next time I may use more.

The crust out of the oven was fine light crisp and layery, the humidity soon fixed that though and while still good it was not quite as flaky. The two issues I had was I used to many bread crumbs and for some reason my bottoms where a little overcooked making them tough.

Make again? Definitely, though I will be changing things up and maybe trying some individual sizes.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

TC: Coconut Ice Cream

My partner for this months Taste and Create was Nicole of For the Love of Food. I actually did three recipes from her blog and have another couple I just didn't have time for. Her recipes are just what I like simple and good.

The coconut ice cream was the first thing that got put on my list. Indra and I both love coconut and I have been playing with my new ice cream machine looking for a good recipes. Coconut Ice Cream with Toffee chips definitely fits the bill.

Coconut Ice Cream with Toffee Chips
1 Cup 2% Milk
8oz unsweetened Coconut milk that is creamy (we use Aroy-D 100% Coconut Milk original)
2 1/2 Cups Heavy Cream
1/8 Cup sugar
1 1/2 Cups sweetened Baker’s Coconut
1/4 Cup toffee chips
2 tablespoons alcohol(I used brandy)

Make sure all your ingredients are extremely cold before beginning - when I made this recipe I had the chips and baker’s coconut in the freezer and the milk, coconut milk, and cream in the refrigerator.

No cooking is required, simply pour the cold liquid ingredients in your mixer with the sugar and wait until it is starting to thicken and then add the brandy, coconut and chips. Once it has finished churning put it in the freezer for at least an hour to firm up. (the alcohol should keep it soft enough to scoop.)

Temper's Take:
This was good, Indra even agreed. We liked the texture and the sweetness level was just right. It was perfect for a hot Texas Day.

We would have liked a more pronounced coconut flavor but that is something I can play with in the future.

Friday, May 1, 2009

R2R: Coq au Vin

For this months Recipe to Rival challenge I choose Coq au Vin, specifically Anthony Bourdain's Coq au Vin. I discovered Anthony Bourdain a couple months ago, so far I have read one of his cookbooks and two of his other books. I loved them all. It is the first cook book I have ever had swear at me. It was great, and this recipe is great too.

Coq au vin is a peasant recipe, As Anthony Bourdain has said "Coq au vin is an old, tough bird you have to drown in wine to get it to taste good. That'll be $28.95 please."

This it one of those recipes that is deceptively hard, with a little prep work it is easy as pie, maybe even easier. The secret is the mise en place. do it all ahead stuff it in the fridge and throw it all together when you are ready.

Coq au vin
from the Les Halles Cookbook, by Anthony Bourdain, Serves 4
1 bottle plus 1 cup of red wine
1 onion, cut into a 1-inch dice
1 carrot, cut into ¼-inch slices
1 celery rib, cut into ½ inch slices
4 whole cloves
1 tbs whole black peppercorns
1 bouquet garni
1 whole chicken, “trimmed” – wing tips and neckbone removed

salt and freshly ground pepper
1 tbs olive oil
6 tbs butter, softened
1 tbs flour
¼ lb lardons
½ lb small, white button mushrooms, stems removed
12 pearl onions, peeled
pinch of sugar

The day before you even begin to cook, combine the bottle of red wine, the diced onion (that’s the big onion, not the pearl onions), sliced carrots, celery, cloves, peppercorns, and bouquet garni in a large deep bowl. Add the chicken and submerge it in the liquid so that all of it is covered. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

Remove the chicken from the marinade and pat it dry. Put it aside. Strain the marinade through the fine strainer, reserving the liquids and solids separately. Season the chicken with salt and pepper inside and out. In the large Dutch oven, heat the oil and 2 tablespoons of the butter until almost smoking, and then sear the chicken, turning it with the tongs to evenly brown it. Once browned, it should be removed from the pot and set it aside again. Add the reserved onions, celery, and carrot to the pot and cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until they are soft and golden brown. That should take about 10 minutes.

Sprinkle the flour over the vegetables and mix well with the wooden spoon so that the vegetables are coated. Now stir in the reserved strained marinade. Put the chicken back in the pot, along with the bouquet garni. Cook this for about 1 hour and 15 minutes over low heat.

While your chicken stews slowly in the pot, cook the bacon lardons in the small sauté pan over medium heat until golden brown. Remove the bacon from the pan and drain it on paper towels, making sure to keep about 1 tablespoon of fat in the pan. Saute the mushroom tops in the bacon fat until golden brown. Set them aside.

Now, in the small saucepan, combine the pearl onions, the pinch of sugar, a pinch of salt, and 2 tablespoons of butter. Add just enough water to just cover the onions; then cover the pan with the parchment paper trimmed to the same size of the pan. (I suppose you can use foil if you must.) Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook until the water has evaporated. Keep a close eye on it. Remove the paper cover and continue to cook until the onions are golden brown. Set the onions aside and add the remaining cup of red wine along with salt and pepper and reduce over medium-high heat until thick enough to coat the back of the spoon.

When the chicken is cooked through – meaning tender, the juice from the thigh running clear when pricked – carefully remove from the liquid, cut into quarters, and arrange on the deep serving platter. Strain the cooking liquid (again) into the reduced red wine. Now just add the bacon, mushrooms, and pearl onions, adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper, and swirl in the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter. Now pour that sauce over the chicken and dazzle your friends with your brilliance. Serve with buttered noodles and a Bourgone Rouge.

1. An old bird is best, hard to find though. Ideally you are looking for a stew chicken or an old rooster, I recommend a Kosher or Halal meat market (remember they have no pork though).
2. Bouquet garni is a bundle of herbs usually tied together with string, most recipes include parsley, thyme and bay leaf
3. Lardon may refer to different pork products cut from a pig's belly and used for larding in French cuisine. In this case you are looking for slab or country bacon, cut into small oblongs (lardons) about ¼ by 1 inch. I used salt pork, which did not smell like bacon cooking but tasted pretty good. Either way a good thick bacon with alot of nice fat and not alot of additives is what you are looking for.
4. the wine should be red, other than that pick what suits your pallet and wallet. But here is a helpful guide as well, Wine With...Coq au Vin

Temper's Take:
This was alot easier then I expected, it was also very good. Next time I would use chicken parts rather than the whole chicken just to make life easier. I would also make sure I had some nice crusty bread handy.

Truthfully The combination of mushrooms, pearl onions and bacon is hard to beat for me no matter what you do with it. And this was an excellent application, it was even better the second day. Definitely on my do again list, I just wish finding old chickens was easier.

Monday, April 27, 2009

DB: Cheese Cake

The April 2009 challenge is hosted by Jenny from Jenny Bakes. She has chosen Abbey's Infamous Cheesecake as the challenge.

I have made cheese cake in the past, from several different recipes in fact, but this one came with directions on how to prevent that dreaded crack, and a water bath for increased creaminess, very very good! I however was a rebel and tried something different, no bake cheese cake, no not that stuff from JELLO, cheese cake ice cream!

First the official instructions and then what I did.

Abbey's Infamous Cheesecake:

2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1 stick butter, melted
2 tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract

3 sticks of cream cheese, (total of 24 oz) room temperature
1 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1 cup heavy cream
1 tbsp. lemon juice
1 tbsp. vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F, Begin to boil a large pot of water for the water bath.

2. Mix together the crust ingredients and press into your preferred pan. You can press the crust just into the bottom, or up the sides of the pan too - baker's choice. Set crust aside.

3. Combine cream cheese and sugar in a bowl and cream together until smooth. Add eggs, one at a time, fully incorporating each before adding the next. Make sure to scrape down the bowl in between each egg. Add heavy cream, vanilla and lemon juice and blend until smooth and creamy.

4. Pour batter into prepared crust and tap the pan on the counter a few times to bring all air bubbles to the surface. Place pan into a larger pan and pour boiling water into the larger pan until halfway up the side of the cheesecake pan. If cheesecake pan is not airtight, cover bottom securely with foil before adding water.

5. Bake 45 to 55 minutes, until it is almost done - this can be hard to judge, but you're looking for the cake to hold together, but still have a lot of jiggle to it in the center. You don't want it to be completely firm at this stage. Close the oven door, turn the heat off, and let rest in the cooling oven for one hour. This lets the cake finish cooking and cool down gently enough so that it won't crack on the top. After one hour, remove cheesecake from oven and lift carefully out of water bath. Let it finish cooling on the counter, and then cover and put in the fridge to chill. Once fully chilled, it is ready to serve.

Pan note: The creator of this recipe used to use a springform pan, but no matter how well she wrapped the thing in tin foil, water would always seep in and make the crust soggy. Now she uses one of those 1-use foil "casserole" shaped pans from the grocery store. They're 8 or 9 inches wide and really deep, and best of all, water-tight. When it comes time to serve, just cut the foil away.

For the ice cream I basically cut the recipe in 1/3 added a little sugar and then added enough milk to make up the difference in my machine.

Cheese Cake Ice cream
8oz of cream cheese
2/3 cup sugar
1 large egg
1/3 cup heavy cream
1/3 tbsp. lemon juice
1/3 tbsp. vanilla extract
2 cups milk

cook over medium heat stirring constantly until it reaches a temp of 160. Remove to the fridge to cool down for several hours. Proceed as directed by your machine.

I used a springform pan and the graham cracker crust to pour my finished Ice cream in. I then served it with some Black and Blue Jelly.

Temper's Take:
Ok I admit I also made the cheese cake and while it was good it isn't the best I have made. The tips that came with the recipe were invaluable to me though.

The ice cream turned out fabulous, Indra even asked for more :) It had a great texture and the jelly set it off to perfection! It is easy enough that I am thinking it is going to be used again next time we have company this summer.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

BBD: Bunny Rolls

For this months Bread Baking Day event I choose to make Easter Bunny Rolls. I found the recipe here, when looking for something that really said Easter to me. After all what says Easter like bunnies?

BBD #19 - Spring Country Bread is hosted by Cindystar. to quote her...
It will be Easter in a few days and I would like to share with you a virtual pic-nic on Easter Monday. In Italy it's a popular tradition to have an outdoor trip in the countryside, on that special festive day all families and friends gather together, lay a blanket or a tablecloth on the grass and have a sort of epicurean brunch (never missing hard boiled eggs, part of tradition!)with children enjoy playing outdoor and adults lazily enjoying the first warm spring sun.
And my theme would like to be a celebration to Spring with Spring Country Breads.

Easter Bunny Rolls
This recipe is from a 1959 vintage holiday cookbook.
1 package yeast
1/4 c water, lukewarm
1 c milk, scalded and cooled to lukewarm
1/2 c butter melted in the hot milk
1/2 c sugar
1 tsp salt
5-5 1/2 c flour
2 eggs, room temperature, beaten
1/4 c orange juice, lukewarm
2 Tbs grated orange peel

1. Dissolve yeast in water.
2. Blend milk, butter, sugar, and salt. Make sure that the mixture is lukewarm. Stir in 2 cups of the flour.
3. Add eggs, beat well. Stir in yeast, orange juice, and peel. Add enough of the remaining flour to make a dough. Let rest for 10 minutes.
4. Knead dough 10 minutes, or until elastic, on a floured surface. Place in a greased bowl, turn to grease top, cover and allow to rise until double. About 2 hours.
5. Punch down, cover, and allow to rest 10 minutes.
6. On a lightly floured surface roll dough into a 1/2 inch thick rectangle. Cut dough in strips about 1/2 inch wide and roll between hands to smooth.
7. You can make these into two kinds of bunnies.

For twist bunnies (the one that looks like it is sitting upright):
1. For each bunny you will need a 14 inch strip of dough. On a lightly greased cookie sheet lap one end of the strip over the other to form a loop. Now, bring the end that is underneath up over the top end, letting each end extend to the sides to form ears. Pat tips of ears to make a point.
2. Roll a small ball of dough and put it on the bottom loop for a tail. Let rise until double.

For “Grazing” Bunnies:
1. For each bunny you will need a 10 inch piece of dough for the body and a 5 inch strip for the head.
2. On a lightly greased cookie sheet make a loose swirl for the body with the longer strip, and one for the head with the smaller strip. Place the head close to the body. To add the ears pinch off 1 1/2 inch strips of dough and roll to form ears. Place next to the head. Use a little bit of dough to make a small ball for the tail. Allow to double.

The second rise will take from 45-60 minutes. Bake at 375 for 12 -15 minutes. Frost while warm with sugar glaze. Makes 2 1/2 dozen.

Sugar Glaze (I skipped this)
To 2 1/2 c confectioners sugar
1/4 c hot water
1 tsp butter.

1. Stir until blended.
2. Use this to brush over warm rolls.

Temper's Take:
I loved the subtle orange of this bread, the bread is good, darn good. The bread is plenty sweet with out the glaze but a nice orange glaze would be great too. Heck, it would be a great sweet roll period, maybe with some dried cherries.

The bunnies turned nicely bunny shaped (which I had been worried about) and were easier to form then I thought they would be. My favorites were the standing up ones.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Spaghetti Squash ala Esther

My Friend Esther is a true foodie, unfortunately she is also diabetic and managing it through diet, which means almost no carbs. I don't know about you but I don't think I could live that way. This was her suggestion of a side when we had Thanksgiving together.

Spaghetti Squash ala Esther
1 spaghetti squash, cut in half and deseeded
2 table spoons butter
Nutmeg (freshly grated is best)
Salt (kosher or sea, not table)
Pepper (fresh ground)
Dried Cranberries

Rub each half squash with a table spoon of butter, Sprinkle with nutmeg, salt and pepper to taste (I like it to look freckled) and then wrap in tinfoil.

Cook at 350 degrees until soft (test with a fork through the side or by squeezing gently).

loosen the sides with a fork and 'fluff'. I then sprinkle with the dried cranberries. It sits well and reheats great in the microwave making it great for family get togethers.

Temper's Take:
This turns out surprisingly rich tasting and the dried cranberries (my addition) offsets that beautifully. I have also used this method with Italian seasoning, a couple of meatballs, garlic and a sprinkling of parmesan with great results. As an additional plus spaghetti squash is cheap and it is easy to make, just what I want in a great dish.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

R2R, Steak Diane Flambé

This months Recipe to Rival challenge was Steak Diane Flambé. I hosted with assistance from Shawnee of Delishes Delishes (ok, so she found the recipe and came up with the disclaimer and... well alot of other thing). As she said "I've never purposely set fire to my food before (besides marshmallows)". You know what, neither have I, about time wouldn't you say?

And here is the wonderful disclaimer:
Disclaimer: We do not require that you flambé, if you choose to flambé and burn down your kitchen, don't sue us. If you choose to flambé try and get a picture (I recommend getting someone to help). Remember when playing with fire keep a fire extinguisher close and never use water on a cooking fire.

Steak Diane Flambé
recipe by Frank Bordoni from Great Food Live.
For the steaks
4x85g beef medallions
1 tsp Dijon mustard
freshly ground salt and pepper

For the sauce
1 tsp Butter, clarified
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
2 tbsp Shallots, finely chopped
50g button mushrooms, finely sliced
1 tbsp lemon juice
125ml double cream
1 tbsp Chives, snipped
50ml Brandy

1. Rub the medallions of beef with the mustard, season with salt and pepper and set aside.
2. Heat a large frying pan over a medium heat and when hot, add the clarified butter and Worcestershire sauce.
3. Add the shallots and mushrooms, and push to the centre of the pan. Arrange the medallions around the edge. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring and tossing the mushroom mixture as you go. If you prefer your steak well done, give it an extra minute or 2.
4. Add the lemon juice and season with salt and pepper.
5. Turn the steaks over and pour in the cream and chives. Tilt the pan slightly (away from you) and pour in the brandy at the far end. Now turn up the heat to high so that the brandy ignites. Swirl the sauce around in the pan and turn off the heat.
6. Put the medallions on 4 plates, pour over the sauce and serve.

I served it with roasted asparagus (recipe later) and they went great with the sauce for left overs.

Temper's Take:
This was so easy, the flames where great (the pyromaniac in me is saying do it again!), and it was very nummy. The meat was a little undercooked for our pallets, and I wish I had got a nice brown coat on it like some of the others. But it is definitely something I will be doing again, maybe for company, it is fancy and easy, so perfect for entertaining.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Ricotta revisited: pancakes

Since my first shot at ricotta didn't turn out quite how I wanted I went back did a little research and tried again. The great recipes my fellow Recipes to Rival members submitted had nothing to do with it, honest. As it turns out I was overcooking the stuff, apparently 185 is not boiling, it is should in fact never boil. All I can say is oops and look what I did this time.

8 cups whole milk
2 cups dry white wine

1. Place buttermilk and milk in a pot, heat on med-low heat until it reaches 185 degrees.
2. It will begin to separate into curds and whey. Be sure to stir occasionally to make sure no curds stick to the bottom and burn. You will see that as the temperature approaches 185, the whey becomes clearer as the curds coagulate more.
3. Pour the curds into a cheesecloth lined colander. Tie the ends of the cheesecloth together and hang for 10-15 minutes. Remove from cheesecloth and place in an airtight container.

With it I made Ricotta Pancakes as featured on A Good Appetite by Kat. Also just in time for bbd #18 - Quick Breads hosted by Fun & Food Blog.

Lemon Ricotta Pancakes
(from Bobby Flay) Makes 10 pancakes.
3/4 c all-purpose flour
1 T baking powder
1/2 t ground nutmeg
1/4 t salt
2 T sugar (we used 3)
1 c ricotta cheese
2 eggs
1/2 c milk
1 lemon, zested & juiced
black and blue jelly
powdered sugar
butter for the griddle

Whisk together the cheese, eggs, lemon zest & juice. Stir in the flour, baking powder, nutmeg, salt & sugar just until combined. Melt a little butter on a hot griddle. Pour 1/4 c of batter on the griddle for each pancake. Cook until brown on both sides, flipping once.

Top pancakes with black and blue jelly & a little powdered sugar.

Temper's Take:
I used my thermometer and low and behold at 180 had clear whey and curds. no boiling no scorching and the end result was not dry. I still over cooked it a tad (wasn't patient enough reading the thermometer) but much better, and the wine added a nice subtle fruity element.

Which made it perfect for the pancake. the dough was thick, almost muffiny, which got me thinking and I may be experimenting in the future. I ate the first several straight and they were wonderful, tangy and light, just great. I wasn't as impressed once I added the powdered sugar and black and blue jelly. Next time I think fresh fruit is the way to go or something lighter like whipped cream. And there will definitely be a next time for these.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Cream of Mushroom soup

Ever since I had this a year ago I have wanted to make it for myself. I was stopped in this pursuit because I was sure it came from Alton Brown. I still swear the recipe I printed out back then said Alton Brown on it, it certainly is Good Eats. On the other hand The Barefoot Contessa's recipe is pretty much what I remember.

Cream of Mushroom Soup
5 ounces fresh shiitake mushrooms
5 ounces fresh portobello mushrooms
5 ounces fresh cremini (or porcini) mushrooms
1 tablespoon good olive oil
1/4 pound (1 stick) plus 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, divided
1 cup chopped yellow onion
1 carrot, chopped
1 sprig fresh thyme plus 1 teaspoon minced thyme leaves, divided
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 cups chopped leeks, white and light green parts (2 leeks)
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup dry white wine
1 cup half-and-half
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
Clean the mushrooms by wiping them with a dry paper towel. Don't wash them! Separate the stems, trim off any bad parts, and coarsely chop the stems. Slice the mushroom caps 1/4-inch thick and, if there are big, cut them into bite-sized pieces. Set aside.

To make the stock, heat the olive oil and 1 tablespoon of the butter in a large pot. Add the chopped mushroom stems, the onion, carrot, the sprig of thyme, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper and cook over medium-low heat for 10 to 15 minutes, until the vegetables are soft. Add 6 cups water, bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer uncovered for 30 minutes. Strain, reserving the liquid. You should have about 4 1/2 cups of stock. If not, add some water.

Meanwhile, in another large pot, heat the remaining 1/4 pound of butter and add the leeks. Cook over low heat for 15 to 20 minutes, until the leeks begin to brown. Add the sliced mushroom caps and cook for 10 minutes, or until they are browned and tender. Add the flour and cook for 1 minute. Add the white wine and stir for another minute, scraping the bottom of the pot. Add the mushroom stock, minced thyme leaves, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Add the half-and-half, cream, and parsley, season with salt and pepper, to taste, and heat through but do not boil. Serve hot. (I like it with toasted bits of nice crusty bread.)

Temper's Take:
MMMMmmmm Good! I left out the flour so it was a little thinner than I preferred. Still good though. I think sourdough makes the best bread to go with it, the tang of the bread offsets the richness of the soup nicely. I used plain ol baby portabellas for the mushroom, but I think I would really like to try it with some other varieties. I also learned that homemade veggie broth is the way to go.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Birthday Pie

Yesterday was my birthday, and as buirthdays go it wasn't half bad. A friend got me a rice cooker and I got myself an icecream maker (and recipe book). I had the day off work so I slept in and had french toast made with french bread and real maple syrup for brunch. for supper it was the freezer section, cheese enchiladas and apple pie.

I like pie, I like pie alot and since I was not going to cook on my birthday that ment no chocolate cake with peanut butter frosting or rhubarb cake, no rhubarb either :(, so my second choice is pie, I like almost all of them, but fruit pies are my favorites, berries, cherries and apples (but not blueberry) are all good.

The highlight of my day is discovering you can make a wishlist on Target.com, I spent alot of time windows shopping and marking all the things I plan on getting. Oh how I drooled over the Kitchen Aides, and I was seriously eyeing the pasta maker before I decided the ice cream maker would be a better deal.

So happy birthday to me and I hope you had a good day as well.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Ginger Pear Balsamic Pork Tenderloin

I received some lovely Ginger Pear Balsamic vinegar from a friend who had purchased it at Target and then discovered it had to many carbs for her diet. So I got lucky and have a new toy to play with. My first thought was wouldn't that be good with pork (I might have been influenced by the pork loin in the freezer). So off to google to find recipes. I found alot of inspiration but one recipe really jumped out at me. So with out further ado, here it is.

Based off Raspberry Vinegar Pork Chops Recipe from Taste of Home. I had to make a few changes based on what I had available but it is basically the same recipe.

Ginger Pear Balsamic Pork Tenderloin
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 pork tenderloins (1-inch thick)
1/4 cup Ginger Pear Balsamic vinegar
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1/4 cup chicken broth
Salt and pepper to taste
fresh Sage
Fresh Rosemary

Melt butter in a large skillet, add oil. Brown the pork on each side over high heat. Pour off oil; reduce heat to medium-low. Add 1 tablespoons vinegar and garlic. Cover; simmer for 10 minutes.
Remove pork to heated container; cover to keep warm. Add remaining vinegar; stir up browned bits from bottom of skillet. Raise heat and boil until the vinegar is reduced to a thick glaze. Add the sage, rosemary and chicken stock. Boil until liquid is reduced to half of the original volume.
Strain sauce; season with the salt and pepper. Spoon over chops.

I paired this with roasted sweet potato fries that had been tossed in the vinegar and a little oil, then sprinkled with sea salt. I set them to roast while I did the pork (I actually gave it a 15 minute head start).

Temper's Take:
This was so good I did my happy food dance (so named by the Frogman). Who knew vinegar could be so good when reduced, and why didn't they tell me? I literally licked the pan clean (and then my fingers), so uncouth I know but it was that good.

Indra, said it was good, but she missed the Lowery's seasoning salt I usually use, and why do I have to cook so fancy. She also said the sauce tasted like a Christmas tree (the rosemary and balsamic reduction was to blame I am sure, next time I will use something besides rosemary) and the roasted sweet potato fries reminded her of apples (she was right. the vinegar and sweet potatoes combined to taste like apples). so I have permission to do it again if I do some with Lowery's first, I call that a success.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

R2R, Ricotta

This months Recipe to Rival challenge was Ricotta. I was very excited about it. The figuring out what to make with it was a bit of a stumper as it is not an ingredient I usually use. I have made Maybelle's Mom's Great (and I do mean great) Gnocchi and Lasagna and even Cheese cake, but that really is the extent of my experience. So this was a real learning experience for me.

Fresh Ricotta
you'll need:
5 cups 2% milk
1 tbsp vinegar

Place vinegar and milk in a pot, heat on med-low heat until it reaches 185 degrees.

It will begin to separate into curds and whey. Be sure to stir occasionally to make sure no curds stick to the bottom and burn. You will see that as the temperature approaches 185, the whey becomes clearer as the curds coagulate more.

Pour the curds into a cheesecloth lined colander. Tie the ends of the chesecloth together and hang for 10-15 minutes. Remove from cheesecloth and place in an airtight container.

I paired my ricotta with cornmeal crepes and pork loin in a blackberry wine reduction. Overall a success, but there is plenty of room for improvement.

Cornmeal Crepes
5 crepes
1/2 batch cornmeal pancakes
2 well beaten eggs

add the eggs to the cornmeal pancake mix.
then add milk til you reach the desired consistency
pour a portion into a hot skillet and swirl to coat.
cook on med low heat until they are done (do not turn)
gently peel from the pan and set aside to cool (they are delicate so be careful)

Ricotta Stuffing
1 cup ricotta
1 well beaten egg
1 tbsp Honey
Salt and pepper

mix well and wrap in crepes.

Pork with Wine Reduction
Salt and Pepper
Garlic Salt
1 tbsp Butter
2 Garlic cloves sliced
fresh Rosemary
fresh Thyme
Blackberry Wine
1 tbsp Plum preserves

Use salt, pepper and garlic salt on the pork loins and sear both sides
put ricotta stuffed cornmeal crepes in 350 oven while making the sauce.
melt butter and add herbs and garlic, saute gently for 3 minutes
add wine (twice as much wine as you want finished sauce) and reduce by half
add plum preserves and gently stir until it is melted.
remove chunky bits from sauce and serve.

Temper's Take:
The ricotta turned out drier then I expected and I had some problems with scorching and temperature control (next time I am going to try it in the crock pot) But it was good and it was cheese. :) I didn't use buttermilk because I made the mistake of looking at the ingredient list, tapioca starch was one of the more recognizable things on it. I think I would like to try substituting a dry white wine for the butter milk once, it has the potential to be quite good.

The crepes turned out wonderfully and were so much easier then I thought they would be. The stuffing was a good match but my proportions were off (less ricotta more crepe next time) and I really think some parmesan in the crepes and some herbs in the stuffing would be even better.

The pork was lovely and the wine reduction paired perfectly with it. Unfortunately the wine reduction didn't go as well with the crepes. It was too sweet, next time I think I want to try a sauce with a bit of bite to it.

Friday, February 27, 2009

TC: Carmalized Apples

My partner for this months Taste & Create was Veronica of La Recette du Jour. Her blog is the kind I can only dream of, great recipes that Indra would never eat. I really wish this challenge had come in about 2 months when I wasn't in the middle of tax season. There are so many recipes I would have liked to have chosen. But time and stress made me choose something simple, and it doesn't get much simpler then Caramelized Apples.

Caramelized Apples
A quick dessert, based on a medieval recipe.
One-day old bread
Lemon juice

Allow about one apple (eating for preference) per person. Peel and core them, and chop into 1/4 inch dice. Drop the pieces into a bowl as you go along, with sugar to taste, and a little lemon juice to stop them going brown. Cut a similar quantity of stale white bread (crusts removed) into dice as well.

When you are ready to eat, melt a good quantity of butter in a heavy frying pan and throw in the apples along with the sugar. Cook briskly, stirring about, until the apples are brown round the edges and the butter and sugar are starting to caramelize. Remove the apples to a plate. Put the bread cubes into the pan and cook, tossing them so they don’t burn, until they are crisp. Then return the apples to the pan, mix everything together, and serve instantly, on their own or with cream or ice cream.

If you get this right, the apples are soft and the bread is crunchy, with a lovely caramel sauce.

Temper's Take:
Well I did it right and this was a great breakfast treat. I flambe'd it for fun (and to reassure myself that it really does take two people to photograph flames) and I didn't whip any cream (I really wish I had). I considered adding some cinnamon to the bread but really it didn't need it. This is definitely going on my make it again list. Probably when I am stuck for a quick dessert for company, or a treat for us.

DB: Chocolate Valentino Cake

The February 2009 challenge is hosted by Wendy of WMPE's blog and Dharm of Dad ~ Baker & Chef.
We have chosen a Chocolate Valentino cake by Chef Wan; a Vanilla Ice Cream recipe from Dharm and a Vanilla Ice Cream recipe from Wendy as the challenge.

Chocolate Valentino
Preparation Time: 20 minutes
8 ounces semisweet chocolate, roughly chopped
5 tablespoons of unsalted butter
3 med eggs separated

1. Put chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl and set over a pan of simmering water (the bottom of the bowl should not touch the water) and melt, stirring often.
2. While your chocolate butter mixture is cooling. Butter your pan and line with a parchment circle then butter the parchment.
3. Separate the egg yolks from the egg whites and put into two medium/large bowls.
4. Whip the egg whites in a medium/large grease free bowl until stiff peaks are formed (do not over-whip or the cake will be dry).
5. With the same beater beat the egg yolks together.
6. Add the egg yolks to the cooled chocolate.
7. Fold in 1/3 of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture and follow with remaining 2/3rds. Fold until no white remains without deflating the batter. {link of folding demonstration}
8. Pour batter into prepared pan, the batter should fill the pan 3/4 of the way full, and bake at 375F
9. Bake for 25 minutes until an instant read thermometer reads 140F/60C.
Note – If you do not have an instant read thermometer, the top of the cake will look similar to a brownie and a cake tester will appear wet.
10. Cool cake on a rack for 10 minutes then unmold.

Classic Vanilla Ice Cream
Preparation Time: 30 minutes
Recipe comes from the Ice Cream Book by Joanna Farrow and Sara Lewis
1/2 Vanilla Pod
1 1/4 cup coconut milk
4 large egg yolks
6 tbsp caster sugar
1 tsp corn flour {cornstarch}
1 ¼ cups Heavy Cream
A big handfull of toasted coconut

1. Using a small knife slit the vanilla pod lengthways. Pour the milk into a heavy based saucepan, add the vanilla pod and coconut and bring to the boil. Remove from heat and leave for 15 minutes to allow the flavours to infuse
Separate coconut from the milk Lift the vanilla pod up. Holding it over the pan, scrape the black seeds out of the pod with a small knife so that they fall back into the milk. SET the vanilla pod aside and bring the milk back to the boil.
2. Whisk the egg yolks, sugar and corn-flour in a bowl until the mixture is thick and foamy.
3. Gradually pour in the hot milk, whisking constantly. Return the mixture to the pan and cook over a gentle hear, stirring all the time
4. When the custard thickens and is smooth, pour it back into the bowl. Cool it then chill.
5. By Hand: Whip the cream until it has thickened but still falls from a spoon. Fold it into the custard and pour into a plastic tub or similar freeze-proof container. Freeze for 6 hours or until firm enough to scoop, beating it twice (during the freezing process – to get smoother ice cream or else the ice cream will be icy and coarse)

(I made a second one with the left over coconut milk some cinnamon and brandy with honey to sweeten)

Tempers Take:
Indra declared it a fail, She didn't like the chocolate I choose (requested a repeat with white or milk chocolate) and the texture of the ice cream didn't work for her (she is not a fan of custards).

I declared it a learning experience, I needed to whip my cream better and measure the ingredients better (my scale broke, I realized this when it told me I had 123oz of chocolate), and most importantly TRUST MY INSTINCTS.

I thought the chocolate was A. a little too bitter for Indra (ok, and me) B. to thick, it crushed my whipped cream. :( and C. the heart mold was hokey (it was valentines day, I had a good excuse). Lastly I really need an icecream maker to make good icecream.

Definitely going on my list to try again, both cake and icecream.