Saturday, August 31, 2013

Another failed attempt at bacon jam. You may recall the first attempt at Bacon Butter FAIL which had almost the same outcome. I was much more diligent with the stirring, so I don't think it was inattention. I suspect I am applying much more heat in the early part. Also there isn't much mention of lids. I assumed that simmer implied lid off to allow reduction, but maybe it is simmer lid on?

I am going to have to schedule a time to make it with my friend who has made it successfully.

Anyway, the salami, pastrami, turkey quesadilla for dinner worked out.
And now I have some lumps of Bacon Coal to save for unsuspecting naughty girls and boys stockings this christmas.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Tasting as you go

I was just making chocolate pudding and hazelnut cookies. And I noticed something. 

Noticing things is an interesting aspect of cooking. I have heard that it is good to taste as you go: ingredients, mixes, etc. So you can adjust seasonings, and also so you can gather data about what things taste like at various stages. Then is something goes wrong you might be able to fix it before it is too late. 

Back to the pudding. So I was all done sieving the cooked pudding and folding in the butter and vanilla when I tasted the spatula. Wow, it was bitter. That was the moment when I realized how odd it was that the recipe didn't call for sugar. Out comes the cook book and low and behold I missed the 2/3 cup of sugar. 

This far in, all I could do was fold in the sugar and hope that there was enough residual heat that it could still mix in and not be gritty. Tasted again and this was more like I remembered. 

If I were to write a cookbook, I would demand of the publisher that ingredient lists do not span pages. This is one thing I appreciate about the GOOD EATS: The Early Years book I am working though. They have very nice page layout for the recipes. No Flipping back and forth from one page to the next. 

Monday, July 22, 2013

French bread pudding

I got this recipe from my good friend Dawn who says it is a combination of ones she found in The Good Housekeeping Illustrated Book of Desserts and one from a Better Homes & Gardens recipe.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Bread Pudding recipe needed

I had some fantastic bread pudding last night. If you have a recipe that you like for bread pudding that you are willing to share, please do so in the comments. It seems like there is a tremendous variety of approaches to bread pudding so I am interested in doing some exploring of the space of possibilities. So even if you don't have a favorite recipe, what do you think makes a good bread pudding?

The one I had last night tasted like a combination of boiled custard and french toast and was really delightful, light, moist, and comforting. Seemed like an excellent summer desert or decadent breakfast. I suspect that later in the year when things turn cold again, it would be nice to have something a little more substantial. Maybe with some dried cranberries and more spices and a little denser.

Some recipes on line I may explore:

Any thoughts welcome ...

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Bacon Butter FAIL

I was camping with a buddy of mine and he pulled out some bacon butter. Wow. Just wow. So I sought out the recipe and here is my first attempt.

I made a couple of tweaks from the original ingredient list.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Blueberry Salmon Avocado green salad

An ample salad for a crowd to get a taste. This is a scaled up and tossed version of a composed salad I did last year.

First allow me to review my Master Salad Schema:

  • Fresh greens
  • Vegetable(s)
  • A fruit
  • A meat
  • A nut, toasted
  • A soft to medium cheese
  • Grated Hard cheese(s)
  • A small amount of dressing
  • Fresh Ground Coriander
Depending on what is in season and what is on hand I vary the details and try to fill out the other choices to balance. In this case I used:

  • One head each of red leaf, green leaf, romaine lettuce
  • Two carrots, scrubbed, chopped, soaked in white balsamic vinegar
  • Fresh blueberries, and sliced avocado
  • Smoked Salmon (skinned, flaked, no bones)
  • Toasted pecans coarsely chopped
  • Fresh lemon curdled cheese
  • Grated Parmesan and Hirten Hard cheeses
  • A couple tablespoons of dressing (rice wine vinegar, a splash of apple cider vinegar, a little water, orange juice, 4 drops of orange essence, micro-planned ginger, roasting salt, hazelnut oil, walnut oil, olive oil, a little sesame oil)
  • Fresh Ground Coriander
Toss everything but the hard cheese and coriander with the dressing. Then put in presentation bowl and top with grated cheese and coriander. 

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Site assembled brick oven

Wouldn't camping with a thousand of your closest friends be more fun with an on-site assembled oven? Of course it would, as I found out last weekend.

The design is based off directions for a backyard pizza oven found on You Tube, with added angle iron structure for more stability. Wonderboard is placed on saw horses for the base. Then one layer of 12 fire bricks make up the bed of the oven. Then courses of ordinary red clay bricks, not cement brick , are built up with angle irons to hold everything in place.

Courses across the top are supported by angle irons. Extra pieces of wonderboard serve as wind screens, a top, and a door.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Lemon curdled cheese over the fire

Over the Fourth of July weekend, I had two opportunities to make cheese over the fire. In the first attempt I used whole milk (pictured here).

In the second I used half half and half and half whole (or 1/4 cream, 3/4 whole milk). This produced a very creamy cheese. In both cases I used lemon juice to curdle the cheese.
Start with cold milk in a cold pipkin.
Cover and set in the fire pit without too much direct heat. Ease the heat in as the pot becomes warm to the touch. 

Meanwhile set up a colander in a bowl to catch the whey. Have your curdling agent on hand. My favorite is lemon juice. 

Once the milk reaches 190 degrees add enough curdling agent to get a "clean break". Give it a stir. Then pour through a lint free tea towel (what they call "Cheese Cloth" is way to loose a weave).

Twist up the towel or put a weight on it and let the whey continue to drain out for as long as you can stand to wait.
Flavor as desired, perhaps add a pinch of salt and serve. It goes great on salad. Use the whey in baked goods, or I hear you can add a little rose water and it makes a nice beverage. 

Monday, July 8, 2013

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Hazelnut Almond Cookies

I had rather a lot of egg whites to turn into almond cookies. Rather more in fact than I had almond meal on hand in the fridge. So I experimented with replacing 1/3 of the almond meal with hazelnut meal. I like the look and texture that resulted. Gave the cookies a little more depth.
For 3 egg whites, use 1 1/3 cups almond meal 2/3 cup hazelnut meal, 1/3 cup sugar, 1 tsp vanilla, and a pinch of salt.

Preheat oven to 300 degrees -- low and slow.

Whip the egg whites with a little cream of tartar to stiff peaks. Whip in sugar and vanilla. Fold in nut meals.

Scoop batter onto lined baking sheets. I like to use an scoop. You could spoon them on for a more irregular surface.

Bake at 300 degrees until set and just starting to brown. About 30 minutes, but times vary.

I have noticed a lot of variation from batch to batch depending on the ratios of eggs to meal to sugar. You can get something more like a meringue or more like a cookie.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Fruit juice gelatin from scratch

There's always room for jello, or in this case, fruit juice gelatin.

Bloom  2 packets of gelatin (I use Knox) in 1/2 cup cold water.
Heat 3-4 cups juice to near boiling.
Add bloomed gelatin and 1-2 Tbs lemon juice.
Cool to near room temperature (could put over ice or cool water to speed it along).
Add fruit.
Refrigerate until set.

I use 3 cups of juice for a firm gelatin. More juice would result in a softer set.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Pan Fried Cod with Lime sauce and Lemon

I have been trying to eat more fish. Cod seemed like a good place to start. I started with a recipe from I have since tried it again without the brining step. The brining did add something. But in a pinch, better to get dinner to the table and it can be skipped.

Brine the fish for 1 hour in 6 cups iced water and 1/4 cup coarse salt.

Rinse and dry.

Dredge the brined then dried fish with seasoned flour about 1/4 cup.

Set the oven to 200 degrees to uses as a warming drawer. Place serving platter in the oven.
Fry the fish presentation side down in a pan with olive oil and butter over medium-high heat. It will take less than two minute in to get some nice browning. 
Flip the fish and insert an instant read probe thermometer. Place this lemon slices on top.

I love having a probe thermometer with a temperature alarm. Make sure the probe goes sideways into the middle of the fish and not up and down (harder to get an accurate measurement).
Pull from the heat when it hits 118 degrees (it will continue to cook with the carryover heat). Place the fish in the warming drawer. Reserve the pan drippings and fond for a sauce.
I used half a bottle of Mike's Hard Limeade to deglaze the pan over high heat, scrapping all the lovely cooked bits off the bottom of the pan. Reduce the sauce then take off the heat and add a Tbs of butter and swirl in.

What to do with the half a bottle of limeade that's left over? 
Sauce the fish with the lemon slices and serve.

Definitely an approach I will use again and again.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Summer fruit salad

Summertime and the living is easy...

With all this amazing fruit what could be better than a nice fruit salad. Here in Portland, when I don't make it by one of our many farmer's markets, I like to get my fruit at the Kruger's Farm Market on Hawthorn.

I like to get one of each kind of fruit that looks delightful. Wash, pare, mix with a little lemon juice.
Chill the bowl too.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Making fresh cheese

After several experiments with making fresh cheese I am hooked.

I like to use the cheese in salads, artichoke dip, anywhere you might use a soft cheese really.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Strawberry shortcake

A friend gave me a copy of Alton Browns cookbook: Good Eats, The Early Years. I have been working my way through it. And since I had some strawberries on hand that needed to be eaten, what better than to try my hand at strawberry shortcake.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Quick Braised Asparagus with Bacon and Strawberries

With asparagus in season and and an abundance of strawberries and a wife that demanded bacon with her birthday dinner I was inspired to try combining them all into what proved to be a quite lovely dish.

  • Wash and trim fresh asparagus. 
  • Put in a pan with 1 Tbs each of bacon drippings, butter, olive oil, white balsamic vinegar, water, and sugar. 
  • Cover bring to boil over high heat and braise for 3 minutes. 
  • Add chopped cooked frozen bacon.
  • Cook uncovered for a couple minutes. 
  • Add fresh strawberries, washed, hulled, and quartered. 
  • Cover for a minute or two until the strawberries get up to temperature, but you don't really want to cook them. 

Serve hot and enjoy!

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Vanilla recipe

I have been enjoying my homemade vanilla that I had posted about earlier. Now that it has developed a nice color and flavor and has been refreshed a number of times, I thought it would be good to revisit the subject.

The vanilla recipe I used came from make some vanilla extract.

Pictured is my current stock.

Here is how it looked when first assembled.

I picked up some Indian vanilla beans from Stone Cottage (my favorite spice store), and some cheap vodka from my local liquor store.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Make Sushi Party -- Norimaki

In this third installment of the Sushi Party recap we look at what I always think of when people talk about sushi, norimaki. Seaweed wrapped around sushi rice surrounding some good stuff.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Make Sushi Party -- California Rolls

I enjoy sushi, but it is not a big part of my life. So I was unprepared for how fantastic a sushi making party could be. We had a couple of folks who seemed to know what they were doing show the rest of us how to prepare, roll, and cut california rolls and other delicacies for what turned out to be an amazing lunch.

Thumbprint cookies

After making some wonderful strawberry apricot jam, I wanted to broaden my repertoire of JDV (Jam Delivery Vehicles). In particular I have never made thumbprint cookies before.

The very idea of a thumbprint cookie makes me think of the 1950s. I'm not sure why.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Toasted Cheese Sandwich Lesson

Today I had an opportunity to provide a cooking lesson for Rachel: how to make a toasted cheese sandwich.

First we discussed how a toasted cheese sandwich was similar to and different from a pancake: Similarities
  • Tools: Same pan, same spatula
  • Heat transfer fluid: butter the pan
  • Process: Cook, flip, remove
  • You could eat the cheese sandwich without cooking it
  • The pancake batter, not-so-much

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Low Sugar Strawberry Apricot Jam

One part apricots, one part strawberries, one part sugar. Process in food processor. Bring to boil. Cook down until silky, thick, and not so bubbly. Then into a hot water bath. 

Friday, June 21, 2013

Chocolate Pudding from scratch

Pudding didn't used to come from a box.

I like chocolate.
I like eggs, and have a steady supply.
I like cream.

Let us combine these to make pudding, but what to do with the leftover whites ...?

The almond cookies use egg whites.
This pudding uses egg yolks.
A match made, well, in the kitchen.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Freezing Apricot Pies

Over the winter and spring we like to have "fresh" peach and apricot pies. We do this by making up the fillings and freezing them in pie pans until they set. Then bag them in gallon freezer zip-lock bags.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Vorax Egg Muffin

A friend brought us some sourdough English muffins from the Bay Area. So, we had to come up with some special way to enjoy them. I had some leftover lunchmeat and cheese so I decided to make a breakfast sandwich.
This is not gluten-free, vegetarian, locavore, paleo, low-carb, low-fat, or raw food. But it is quite tasty and satisfying. And maybe every once in a while, life should just be tasty and satisfying.

First assemble the ingredients. Then realize you forgot the turkey after you took the picture. I had some nice pastrami from Grocery Outlet that were the ends from large deli rolls.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Incredible Edible Sale May 4, 2013

I am looking forward to getting more veggie starts at the Incredible Edibles Sale that the Master Gardeners are putting on May 4, 2013 -- next weekend (is it really almost May?!). I am looking forward to tomatoes, chard, salad greens, and tromboncino squash, all of which did well last year. This year they are going to have strawberries and flowers as well.

Last year I had a pretty good plan for the front yard garden, but not as clear of one for the back. As a result it took me a little longer to get the plants in the ground in the back and they didn't do very well.

Getting ready for the sale last year

Last year's raffel

Sharon helping out at check out

Getting the plants in the ground and tucked in with mulch

Harvesting a tromboncino squash

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Tromboncino squash

I still have (well, had) two tromboncino squash fruits from last fall's harvest.

I have been impressed by how well they have kept over the winter. I just had them set on a shelf in the basement. I've had a couple of them develop a little bad spot at the end that then starts to rot. Once I cut that part off the rest is in good shape.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Creamed butter, sugar, and eggs.

So when I posted about the chocolate chip cookie fail, one thing I didn't get a picture of was how strange the caramel + brown sugar + butter + eggs looked. The butter clarified and didn't fully incorporate into the caramel.

This is what creamed butter, sugar, and eggs is supposed to look like ...

I wish I better understood the chemistry of what is going on with this magical concoction when making cookies.

Update: I got a great comment from donaleen about a Baking 911 blog post that goes into great detail about creaming butter and sugar and the considerations of the temperatures involved. Well worth a read.