Monday, February 22, 2010

Dinner Menu

Had another 'yen' for Moroccan Chicken with olives and preserved lemon- I have so much preserved lemon it was a good idea to make this dish. I also made some cauliflower and cheddar pancakes- yum!
Preseved lemons are quite easy to make. The key is to use Meyer lemons- really juicy
And here is a picture of the cauliflower pancakes I made~

It was a yellow dinner!

Olympic Comfort Food and.....

Yesterday i had a yen for making German Apple Pancake in my Griswold. What a treat! Today while surfing Twitter I found a link to a blogger: My Sister's Kitchen. Posted was a story about the Amish Friendship Bread. My sil always brings a loaf when she comes to visit and that I love! But on this site I also found variations that can be added and i thought I'd post the recipe here along with the variations~

Amish Cinnamon Friendship Bread
Important Tips:
Do not use a metal bowl or spoon for mixing (see my note about this below)
Do not refrigerate.
It is normal for batter to thicken, bubble, or ferment

Day 1: You receive the fermented batter in a 1 gallon ziploc bag. Do Nothing. Just place the bag on the kitchen counter.
Day 2: Squeeze the bag several times.
Day 3: Squeeze the bag several times.
Day 4: Add 1 c. of flour, 1 c. of sugar, 1 c. of milk. Squeeze bag.
Day 5: Squeeze the bag several times.
Day 6: Add 1 c. each flour, sugar, and milk. Squeeze bag.

y 7: Squeeze bag several times.
Day 8: Squeeze bag several times.
Day 9: Squeeze bag several times.
Day 10: In a large, non-metal bowl, combine batter with 1 c. each flour, sugar, and milk. Mix with a wooden spoon. Pour four 1-cup starters into individual gallon ziploc bags. Give away starters to friends with this set of directions. It is important to follow this sequence exactly.
To the remaining batter add:
1 c. canola oil
1 c. sugar
1 t. vanilla
3 eggs
1 1/2 t. baking powder
1 t. salt
2 c. flour
1/2 c. milk
1/2 t. baking soda
1 large box of instant vanilla pudding
2 t. cinnamon
In separate bowl, mix 1 t. cinnamon and 3 T. sugar. Sprinkle into well-greased loaf pans and coat the sides with sugar mixture. Do not use Pam or other non-stick spray. Bake at 350° for 1 hour or until done.
Banana Bread:
1 box instant banana pudding
1 mashed banana
2 handfuls of nuts
Chocolate Bread:
1 box of instant choc. pudding
1 T. cocoa
2 handfuls of chocolate chips
Notes from the blogger, Barb~

First, the bit about not using a metal bowl or spoon? Horsefeathers. I think this falls into the “mystique” division. I always mix this up in my Kitchenaid METAL mixing bowl. The only metal things that I really avoid are old aluminum utensils. Aluminum is reactive metal. I haven’t personally seen this recipe react with aluminum, but I avoid it nonetheless. I suspect that the worst that might happen is the batter would take on a grayish cast.
Second, it is NOT necessary to follow these steps precisely. If you forget to do anything with your starter for a week, don’t toss it out. If you WANT to delay making the bread up, stick the starter in the fridge. It will last MONTHS in a good, cold fridge. If it turns pink, it’s spoiled and THEN you should throw it out.
Third, Pam spray works just fine for greasing the loaf pans. Maybe forbidding Pam spray is supposed to make this sound more Amish, but I MUCH prefer the texture that the Pam and the sugar makes on the crust.
Although my paper doesn’t say this explicitly, I have read many different places that only the Amish know how to make the starter and it’s a deep dark secret. But that is also myth. I have no idea if this recipe started in the Amish community, but there is nothing magical about the starter.
In fact, if you DO end up throwing out your pink spoiled starter, but have developed a taste for this friendship bread, you can start your own batch. Simply put 1 c. flour, 1 c. sugar, 1 c. milk, and 1 T. yeast in a ziploc bag and let it sit on the counter. Call that Day 1, and you’re good to go.
Let me know how it goes!
p.s. I used to make Hermann but it died when I had to go to the hospital to deliver our first son. Hermann is similar. Somewhere I have that recipe, but I think it's about the same, if not exactly the same.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Space in E Town

I forgot to post a picture of what we dined on at Space. It is such a cozy, hip place to hang out before going to see the show or before going to a basketbal game. Anyhow here is a picture:
Roasted Beets so yum! And a bowl of marinated olives and I was brave and tried the brussel sprouts. Good time to try something new- when you know if you don't like it, your friend will enjoy that much more! And then the Butternut soup- HOT! HUGE! So delicious on a chilly night! I have to thank my friend Val ( Valslist) who turned me on to this venue. I just don't get out enough!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Ginger Oil/open the fridge and what do you see? Check out:Greg Laswell?

GINGER OIL?So, I like using up what I have in the fridge and last night I thought, I love ginger. I don't go through it as much as I'd like. I actually added it to an egg salad I made yesterday- not a good idea. So, I thought, I'd make some ginger oil! While it was heating up in the pot with the canola oil, I searched the net for recipes using ginger oil. I don't think such a thing as ginger oil works. I did find a recipe for ginger oil- but everything related to ginger oil on the net has to do with aromatherapy. Well, I made my own ginger oil and it's ready. Today is Ash Wednesday. Maybe a dab on some fish might be good?
almost old avocado, red, yellow, orange peppers, sour cream, shredded mozzarella and in the cupboard I see Taco seasoning, chili powder and a can of diced tomatoes. Doing the ATkins thing, this was fairly close to what I should be eating. For my husband, I found a few potatoes and boiled them then added roasted garlic and voila! But I really wish someone else would cook for me and not a restaurant. I think I'm beginning to appreciate many creature comforts and for some reason, I can't let go of 'stuff'. My best advice to myself is: don't let go of anything just yet. Timing is not right. Do you read your horriscope? That helps. But, I'm not in a mood to read that anymore.
I don't have the guts to try the ginger oil....

Last night one of my BF's Cheryl and I went to 'SPACE' in Evanston. Saw this guy perform. Are you familiar with his name? Greg Laswell. He had many onscreen and off screen credentials. I would like one of his CDs. Nice.

I don't think I shall watch Tiger Woods tomorrow- let the networks make their 'in depth' analysis for me. Given parameters of 'his speech', it sounds boring. Or, I've been living too long thru too many of 'these speeches' and I know what will be said.

Monday, February 15, 2010

What's in the fridge? and Julia Julia dinner party!

I am often amazed with what I am able to create out of nothing. I am not that creative with food. And a baker? Yikes. I was afraid of the caramel chocolate tarts that actually turned out. The caramel wasn't quite the color I wanted but I had to use a thermometer so it got to the stage I wanted. I was afraid the amber color would have been way past the right stage for making caramel. But I have made some wonderful pasta dishes with just bacon, pasta and cheese, cream and any kind of tomato product in my pantry. I have so much ricotta in my fridge, I made a simpler version of baked ziti. But I have to admit, the encouragement came from friend Carrie. She's a great cook. I remember there was a time during one of my pregnancies where I couldn't eat chicken. In recent years, I can't get enough of it. Lemons and capers and chicken broth is an extreme favorite for me. And so are eggs- I love poached eggs: over asparagus, over broccoli. The best way to make it is in a skillet of boiling water to which a tsp. of vinegar has been added.

Susan Vance and her husband Mark Spencer had a fun Julia, Julia dinner party over the weekend. Susan served a Beef Bourgioune. Friend Lynn made a delicious salad ( many of us had seconds!) and dinner guest Surgit Rajpal made a panna cotte with marinated fruit. Susan appetizer was a presentation hit: wrapped asparagus nestled in a bouquet of kale~

Friend Lynn made a salad that beckoned most to have seconds~
Dinner guest Surjit made a delicious panne cotte with marinated fruit~

Susan's table was very pretty complete with tulips in the kitchen! The evening was cozy, warm, happy and just plain fun- fun to be with friends and delicious, from scratch, food!

Boston's Oyster Beer

Brewer goes down to the sea for latest blend
( Boston Globe)

One hundred and eighty bivalves, reared from tiny seeds in Duxbury Bay, were harvested on Jan. 21 and driven to the Harpoon Brewery in Boston’s Seaport district.
Upon arrival, oyster farmer Skip Bennett and a salty crew from his company, Island Creek Oysters, helped the yeasty brewers shuck the mollusks. Then, at just the right moment in the brewing process, Harpoon brewer Katie Tame added the oysters to a vat of what she hoped would become a memorable batch of the company’s first limited-edition oyster stout.
By all accounts, Tame succeeded with Harpoon’s 100 Barrel Series Island Creek Oyster Stout, bottled on Feb. 5.
Using oysters to make stout is not unheard of, but it is rare. The idea for an Island Creek Oyster-Harpoon offering wafted into the stratosphere out of the relationship between Bennett, a couple other Island Creek farmers, and a group of brewers from Harpoon.
“As a style of beer, oyster stout can have oysters put in during the brewing process or it might just be brewed to pair nicely with oysters,’’ said Tame, who spent several months in the late summer and fall making 10-gallon test batches to develop her recipe.
“It’s a unique beer; there’s definitely nothing like it out there on the market right now,’’ she said.
The local, artisanal nature of Bennett’s oyster farming and Harpoon’s small brewery make this joint venture, limited-edition oyster stout an especially sweet Boston-area offering.
Bennett starts his oysters every May from teeny oysters (500,000 to a pound), called seeds, that are placed on fine screens in tanks attached to a dock. After about six weeks, when nearly half an inch, they are moved into mesh bags that are held on wire shelves in wire boxes placed on the bay floor.
When the tide is low, the boxes are exposed to the air, and the farmers can scrub the bags of oysters to keep the growing bivalves clean. Six to eight weeks later, by the end of August, when they’ve grown to an inch or more, they are put directly on the bottom of the bay where they grow for at least another year.
“We call them free-range oysters at that point,’’ Bennett joked. Today, Island Creek Oysters has about 30 farmers with leases in the bay for a total cultivated area of 50 acres out of the bay’s 10,000.
Although the same species of oyster is used from Nova Scotia to the Gulf of Mexico, each area’s oysters are unique. Just as wines take their characteristics from such environmental factors as soil, sunlight, and humidity, oysters take theirs from salinity, minerality, water temperature, and depth.
Beer depends on a similar (though human-made) alchemy of particular malts, hops, and other ingredients added during the brewing process. In the first stage of the process, crushed malts are steeped in water to produce sugars.
“I tried to choose malts that would complement a briny, salty character and not overpower it,’’ said Tame, whose recipe included chocolate rye malt, black malt, and roasted barley.
After the malts have done their thing, the solids are removed and the liquid is transferred to a kettle for the next stage of the process, known as the boil. Hops are added during the boil - at precise moments in the procedure - to produce desired aromas and flavors. The oyster bodies were added half way through the boil.
“The oyster protein dispersed in the beer, and that protein enriches mouthfeel and body, and helps promote head retention’’ as well as overall flavor, said Tame.
And just what is the flavor and aroma of this winter’s Harpoon 100 Barrel Island Creek Oyster Stout?
“It has roasted notes, with chocolate, caramel . . . a biscuity flavor. It has a smooth mouthfeel, and I’d say it’s lighter than I expected,’’ said Tame. “It’s extremely tasty.’’
The Harpoon 100 Barrel Series Island Creek Oyster Stout is widely available at package stores that carry specialty craft beer products. Each 22-ounce bottle sells for $6 to $9. Typically, Harpoon’s 100 Barrel series beers last about three months on the market before they run out.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Chocolate Caramel Tarts

I had a little friend come over today, Ava, and she helped me finish off the tarts. I used my heart shaped tart pans for a change- duh- good reason and time to use them! I didn't have the creme fraiche the recipe calls for so I made my own which was a combo of whipping cream and sour cream. I haven't tried them but am making more to take to my friend's house tonite- we're watching the opening ceremonies. And I think I shall add the fleur de salt instead of sprinkles- gives it a more sophisticated taste.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Engagement Menu

On that swirling, snowy winter night, February 9th, our eldest son Parker took a knee and proposed to his girlfriend! After hearing how he planned the evening, I have to say, Parker, I had no idea you were such a romantic!

He didn't have school that day ( quit his job @ Dex to be a FT graduate student) and Katie got off work early b/c of the snow- but she got home late b/c it took so long to get home!
Parker hired a chef who cooked them a delicious dinner: Shrimp Bisque; Peppered steak with a cognac cream sauce; green beans with almonds; duchesse potatoes; Peach trifle.
The wedding will be sometime in Spring/Summer 2011.
The cook in this couple is Parker but Katie, yes, did make some awesome cupcakes on Super Bowl. Parker made pulled pork and together they bought a delicious lentil like hummus - yuummmmmeeee!

Chocolate Caramel Tart

I LOVE caramel! And here is a recipe I'm going to try. Just take a look at the picture!Chocolate Caramel Tart (adapted from Claudia Fleming > Marlow & Sons > Saveur)
I'm not much of a baker but this really looks doable~
For the Chocolate Tart Dough
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon confectioners’ sugar
1 large egg yolk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling
1/4 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
For the Caramel Filling
1/2 cup water
2 cups granulated sugar
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1/2 cup heavy cream
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
2 tablespoons crème fraîche
For the Chocolate Ganache
1/2 cup heavy cream
3 1/2 ounces extra-bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
Make the tart dough: In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter and confectioners’ sugar until combined, about 1 minute. Add egg yolk and vanilla, and beat until smooth. Sift in flour and cocoa powder, and beat on low speed until just combined. Scrape the dough onto a sheet of plastic wrap, and form it into a disk; wrap well. Chill until firm, at least 1 hour and up to 3 days.
Preheat oven to 325° F. On a lightly floured surface, roll the tart dough into a large circle 3/16 inch thick. Transfer the tart dough to a 10-inch fluted tart pan with a removable bottom and press into pan. If it falls apart at all just push it back together in the pan. Chill the tart shell in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
Prick the shell all over with a fork. Line with parchment paper filled with pie weights or dried beans and blind bake for 15 minutes. Remove the parchment and weights, and bake until the pastry looks dry and set, 5 to 10 minutes. Transfer pan to a wire rack to cool. (The tart shell can be made 8 hours ahead.)
Make the filling: Place 1/2 cup water in a large saucepan. Add sugar and corn syrup, and cook mixture over medium-high heat, swirling the pan occasionally, until it becomes a dark-amber caramel (I removed it when it was sort of a medium amber since I knew it would continue to cook off heat), about 10 minutes. Remove pan from heat and carefully (the mixture will bubble up) and slowly add the heavy cream followed by the butter and crème fraîche. Stir until smooth. (The caramel can be made up to 5 days ahead and refrigerated in a covered container.) Pour the caramel into the cooled tart shell and allow to set, first at room temperature and then in the regrigerator.
Make the ganache glaze: Place the chocolate in a heatproof bowl. In a small saucepan, bring cream to a boil. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate, and let stand for 2 minutes, then stir with a rubber spatula until smooth. Pour the ganazhe over the tart. Refrigerate until set.
Remove the tart from the refridgerator 5-10 minutes before you are ready to serve it. Cut the tart into slices and sprinkle each with Fleur de Sel.


Here is a picture of the Durian I wrote about- this one is frozen so it didn't smell.


Tried a new restaurant for lunch today. It's in Wilmette and it's called Fuel. Nice concept: everything comes from nearby and everything is freshly made. They open at 6 during the week and close at 2 pm. Their weekend hours are different.
Location is great- it's across the street from the train station. The storefront is on Washington Street. My husband Jim and I stopped in for a bowl of soup. We ordered their black Bean + chicken+ chorizo soup. Deee - lish! The soup came to us and you could see steam. We searched our bowls for the one or two beans that were really hot because the soup was not hot. Unable to locate where the steam was coming from, our fourth spoonful was barely warm.
But as I said, the soup was delicious. A table next to us had ordered Eggs Benedict- looked awesome! I could over hear the ladies talking about the delicious flavor! Freshness always imparts a wonderful, distinctive taste.
The restaurant is bright and airy. Walls are painted a light blue with long black flowers painted on them.
Check them out!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010


I don't know why i can't get FB friends to see my page. So many are "greyed out"....I just don't understand the lingo. But it seems like FB and Twitter and blogspot and so, so many are all becoming unified. Don't know if I like that....

Friday, February 5, 2010

Bourbon Banishes the Blues

We are suppose to have some Knox College friends coming up for dinner on Saturday but if they get the big snowstorm that's expected, and I have all this food, I think I'll take it down to son # 1's apt. on Sunday when we visit to watch the Super Bowl. Tomorrow, I'm making a baked ziti with Bourboned baby back ribs.
UPDATE: A few hours before they were due to arrive, they called to say they couldn't come! Fortunately, with my husband's large family, we were able to dig up some bodies to enjoy our dinner. This themed dinner was a carry over from the Winter Blues theme. This menu should have been named Bourbon Banishes the Blues.
The dining room was lit with black lights to make it look Blue. The outside of the house had blue candlestick lights in the windows and blue flood lights were on the house. Inside the house, the staircase was emblazoned with all sorts of different colored bunched lights. Various colored votives and flowers were elsewhere to make the blues look banished.
Our Menu:
Shaggy's Manhattan
Blue Cheese and Walnut and Red Cabbage Empanadas
Dates stuffed with Hot Chorizo and Cream Cheese, wrapped in bacon
( These were made especially with Paul in mind- he who likes it hot!)

Bourbon Baked Back Ribs
Baked Ziti with Elk Sausage and Ground Beef
Salad with white French Dressing and Blueberries

Deep Dish Sour Cream Apple Pie with Lemon-Cardamom Streusel
Blueberry Tea and Bourbon Decaf Tea

After dinner I posed with my SIL and my BIL's wife- she's in the middle and her name is also Jeanne but she doesn't use an i. I'm toasting you with my blue goblet, Jeanne is holding a bowl of blueberries and Colleen is showing you the ribs- too bad nothing shows up but what the heck...

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

French Dressing

Worked late at 'headquarters'. Don't blame people for being annoyed that we kept calling them but our forces did win the referendum by a landslide. And because it was late and lightly snowing, going to the grocery store was the last thing I wanted to do. Fortunately found some ground beef in freezer and watched 'Lost' with a nice juicy burger and salad with freshly made French dressing- haven't made a fresh one in ages!
I don't usually measure but I'll try my best:
1/3 c vinegar ( either kind is ok with me)
2 T ketchup
1 1/2 tsp Worcestershire
1 tsp mustard
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp celery seed
smidgeon sugar
1/2 c olive oil
Shake it up Baby!

Monday, February 1, 2010


Last week I was in a grocery store and saw this prickly looking thing- I didn't know if it was a fruit or a vegetable and no one around me could speak English so I never found out what it was, till now. I came across a strange word on one of the tweets I follow and saw a woman accepting a challenge after her group received 10,000 hits. I've attached a picture of the Durian. It's prickly on the outside and you can see the circular looking thing in there- that's the edible part. It's kind of slimy and leaes a film on the roof of your mouth. But the taste is good. The lady who opened it said the odor/aroma really isn't bad!
Here is an article the Smithsonian magazine wrote about Durian:
By Henry Genthe

Smithsonian magazine, September 1999

"To eat it seems to be the sacrifice of self-respect," wrote 19th-century American journalist Bayard Taylor. French naturalist Henri Mouhot was a bit less delicate: "On first tasting it I thought it like the flesh of some animal in a state of putrefaction."

Hate them or — as millions already do — love them, for many durians are nothing less than "hell on the outside and heaven on the inside." That Southeast Asian saying in fact sums up the regard in which Durio zibethinus is held. For many in the region, the spiny, football-size fruit with the divinely custardy, yet potently odoriferous, flesh is as much a cultural icon as it is a treasured, eagerly anticipated food.

Growing on trees in moist, tropical climates throughout Southeast Asia, durians have a limited season and an extremely short shelf life. The trees themselves, sometimes as tall as 130 feet, are pollinated by bats. Three to four months later, the fruit, each weighing several pounds, plummets down, already reeking with its characteristic aroma. Because of the short duration of tasty ripeness, durians are expensive, and purchasing one is a solemn, smelly ritual: only by odor can one determine whether a durian is truly ripe. Not surprisingly for so valued a fruit, all parts of the durian tree are used in folk medicine. The flesh itself is regarded as an aphrodisiac.

And the New York Times had this to say:

...a smell so overpowering that generations of Singaporeans have struggled to find a single description that fits. Among the charitable, printable comparisons: overripe cheese. Rotting fish. Unwashed socks. A city dump on a hot summer's day."

-- The New York Times

I think it must be a February thing, but today is National Dark Chocolate Day!

And here are some deals for the week from Target:

TARGET deals for the week of January 31, 2010

Pepsi Soda Products (2 liter) or SoBe Lifewater (20 oz.), $1.00B1G1 Sobe Lifewater printable (IE) or printable (FF)$0.50/2 Pepsi Products Target printable$0.50/2 SoBe Lifewater Target printableAs low as $0.25 ea. after stacked coupons!

Kraft Shredded or Block Cheese (6-8 oz.), 3/$6.00Select Kraft snacking items also on sale.$1/2 Kraft or Cracker Barrel Cheese printable$1.50 ea. after coupon!

Select Specialty Chocolates (5.1-5.32 oz.), 2/$6.00
–Ghiradelli Filled Squares
–Lindor Truffles $1/1 Lindt Lindor Truffles printable (IE) or printable (FF)$2.00 ea. after coupon