Friday, February 22, 2013

Chocolate Shortbread

While we have a number of cookie recipes we like, we were in the mood to try something new: Chocolate shortbread.

It was fine for what it was. But it basically seemed like brownies for people without chickens (or some other access to eggs).

If you get a hankering for chewy-free brownies, give the Bob's Red Mill recipe a try. But why not make some nice chewy brownies instead?

They were a little better with some peach caramel sauce over them.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Peach caramel sauce

What to do with the leftover peach juice syrup from home canned peaches?

Too good to toss. 
To thin to use directly in most cases. 

Often not wanted in the dish I was making that I needed the drained peaches for. 

The solution: reduce it until it caramelizes then (slowly) add some cream and get a lovely peach caramel sauce.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Caramel Popcorn

I like caramel popcorn.
I like making caramel.


Time to make caramel popcorn.

My first attempt was not quite on target, but still tasty. I added bacon and spanish peanuts.

Chicken Soup

We have been fighting off colds so it seemed like a good time for some simple chicken soup.

A couple carrots, a leek, a potato, some leftover roast chicken and some good homemade chicken stock and a little water. Oh, and bacon.

While the carrots and leeks were sautéing in some bacon drippings. I diced and par-boiled the potato. Then into the pot with the diced chicken and diced, frozen, pre-cooked bacon.

Once I had a little browning I added some stock and equal parts water. Simmer and serve with salt and pepper.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Butterflied chicken broiled and roasted

One more recipe from Cooking for Geeks (p. 206 if you are following along on the Home Edition). The tricky thing when roasting a bird is that there is an inside and an outside. And you'd really like to get a little browning, but not-too-much on the outside and also thoroughly cook the inside, but not-too-much.

This approach changes the topology of the bird so that the outside becomes the top, and the inside becomes the bottom. And you can use different heat and technique on each.

In this case broiling the "top" and then flipping and baking at 350 until done. Flipping turns out to be a little tricky since the skin is apt to come off.
Next Time: As it turned out, I needed some combination of more heat or more time (or to replace my d*&!% probe thermometer that broke). I had assumed that since I had a smallish bird (4 pounds) it would take less or close to the 25 minutes called for. But the meat didn't really get fully cooked. I also managed to broil it a little too long. Checking as it cooks is a good idea. I was just a little too distracted with other things at the time.
So, this is one I want a redo on once I get a new probe thermometer. 

Friday, February 15, 2013

Strange brown glop

Just a reminder, this blog is warts and all. So here is a failure I am sharing...

I had some roasted squash and some leftover mashed potatoes and some leftover caramelized apples and thought "what could happen" and pureed them all together in to this strange brown glop.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Winter Party Follow-up

Time to wrap up something from a couple months ago. I had all this lead up on this blog about getting ready for the winter party celebrating our house's centennial and then I never found that photos we had taken until just the other day. They were on "the other camera".

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Melting Sugar

Another experiment discussed in Cooking for Geeks is using sugar to calibrate you oven and oven thermometers. Sucrose (table sugar) melts at 367 degrees F.

This means if you set an oven-proof dish of sugar in the oven set at 350 it should not melt. But it you turn it up to 375, it should. Looked at the other way around, if you keep creeping up the temperature until the sugar melts and mark that spot, you have 367.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Cooking over the fire

My friend had a second Cooking over the Fire Day at which Shasta and I had a great time. I mostly kept the dogs entertained and roasted a few root veggies in the ashes while others prepared some quite tasty dishes in the pipkins.

Fanning the fire, cooking, fire gazing

A spitted egg

Eulalia! Don't take Ulfred's egg...

Hot and sour soup

Pipkin, spitted egg, meat, soup, roasting veggies

Happy, tired dogs

Caramelized potatoes

Skillet-fried potatoes have been a bit of a challenge for me to get right. I used to microwave the potatoes (after pricking them with a fork) then dicing and frying. In Cooking for Geeks they have a recipe where you dice, par boil for 5 minutes, drain then pan fry. That worked much better. I added a little bacon and salsa to the potatoes and served with some scrambled eggs on the side. 

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Quick lunch Potatoes, Turkey, Brussels Sprouts

I was having a low-energy day, but needed to throw together a quick lunch.

Rummaging around in the fridge and putting the microwave to work reheating in parallel with a quick sauté produced a quite tasty ensemble in 10-steps.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Gluten free Caramel Apple German Pancake

I got a suggestion from Stacy that the Thick German Pancake might work well in a gluten free form. Coming on the heels of the Caramel sauce experiment, I decided to do a double experiment: Gluten free Caramel Apple German Pancake.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Two tones of caramel sauce

Continuing to work my way through Cooking for Geeks. There are "dry" and "wet" approaches to making caramel. This is a dry approach and I am a fan. 
Assemble the team:
  • 1 part sugar,
  • 1 part cream.
In this case, 1 cup of each. (Later I add a pinch of salt and 1/2 tsp of vanilla extract).
Start with just the sugar in a cold pan. Put over medium-high heat. DO NOT STIR -- until the edges have started melting. Then stir to blend the melted and unmelted sugars.

Once it is melted through you have a choice:
  • Add the cream now
  • Let the sugar darken some more
Or, none of the above. Divide into two batches and do both! Whenever you decide, add the cream slowly and stir to incorporate as you go. BE CAREFUL -- THIS STUFF IS HOT and STICKY -- a DANGEROUS combination. Add a pinch of salt and vanilla if you are so inclined (which I am).

Since you get different flavors developed at different temperatures I was aiming for a blended sauce.

What is an experiment without evaluating the results? An accident. So we sampled the light sauce, the dark sauce, and the blended sauce. Sharon liked the light sauce. I liked the blend best. They were all good. There was much more depth to the dark sauce.

Next time: I really like the blended sauce. I think I would divide the sugar and cream into 3/4 cup for the light sauce and 1/3 cup for the darker sauce and cook them in separate pans. I might not go quite as dark on the dark sauce. And I would warm the cream before adding it.

I dividing the blended caramel sauces in two containers so I could heat a small batch to serve without having heat the whole batch.
And for clean up, I just couldn't stand the thought of losing any of that great flavor stuck to the pan. So I deglazed the pans with milk, then drank the warm caramel milk.

Update 2/12/13: I just made this again using two pans and a 2:1 relation of light caramel and medium caramel and it worked out great!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Vegetable Shepherd's Pie

Sharon found me a nice recipe for Shepherd's Pie at Cooking For Engineers. Evidently it originates in the Joy of Cooking. I have made this a couple times in the traditional form -- with ground beef. Today I wanted to keep the form of the dish but make it vegetarian. So in place of the beef I thought I would use roast squash, apples, nuts, and maybe some cooked greens. What could happen?!

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Purple carrots

Purple through and through. 
Our CSA basket included some carrots of various colors:
Part of this week's CSA basket

Featuring purple food
Sharon and I are big fans of "purple food", but so often purple veggies only have the pigment skin deep. In this case the purple went all the way through. I was so excited and I had to make a special salad just to show them off.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Apple Sausage Thick German Pancakes

Yet another variation on the Thick German Pancake this morning.

I had a bag of apples that I got to make a first attempt at Apple Cabbage Stew for the Skyrim party (more on this in a later post). So I got to thinking about making a traditional Apple German Pancake. But then I remembered having some breakfast sausage links in the freezer. And then I remembered how much I like apples and sausage together.

To wit, Apple Sausage Thick German Pancakes!

Friday, February 1, 2013

Winter Squash German Pancake

In the continuing saga of "things to cook with winter squash" I experimented with a roasted butternut squash German pancake.

For the topping I took some chunks of roasted butternut squash from the freezer and sauteed them in butter, brown sugar and a little fine spices. Then otherwise followed the recipe for the Thick German Pancake from The Best Recipe cookbook.

I thought they were tasty and passed my "qualified breakfast food" filter fine. Not as sweet as a pumpkin pie. I think I will do this again, but I'm not sure it will become a regular.