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.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Caramel Popcorn

One more go at caramel popcorn. This time I stayed pretty close to the original recipe, except for adding slivered almonds to the caramel right before the pour. No chocolate. No bacon. Just wanted to get a simple baseline.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Turkey Soup from scratch

Well, mostly from scratch. And sorry in advance for the lack of pictures.

We had some lovely carrots in three colors from our CSA that I wanted to use, but we had a busy day doing stuff, so I went with default plan: coarsely chop, roast at 425 in olive oil and roasting salt, checking every 10 minutes until they were done.

While that was going on I chopped some small onions and sautéed them in the soup pot in some bacon drippings.
When the carrots were done (about 20 minutes, though they could have gone a little longer if I wasn't so hungry),
I added them to the pot.
Then some chopped turkey breast.
Then some chopped oven-cooked-then-frozen bacon.
Once that got all nicely up to temp, I added some almond meal and a little bit of mashed potatoes (because I had them and need to eat them and don't really want to sit down to a giant pile of mashed potatoes).
Then I tossed in some frozen squash. Wasn't planning to do it. I just did. That's how I roll.
Over it all I poured in one 28 oz jar of homemade chicken broth that I had heated in the microwave.
Once that got good and steamy I added another 28 oz of hot water.
Turned it down to low, covered, and let simmer.

Later, I put half of the soup into the Cuisinart food processor with a TBS of Herbs de Provence.
Added this back in and served over 1 TBS of sour cream.
Made six hearty servings.

I've been trying to figure out how to cost out a dish like this. I'm not sure what to do about the carrots, which were part of our CSA basket. Or what to do for the chicken stock, which was made from the bones and leftovers from a roast chicken we had a couple days ago (and more veggies from the CSA). I think it worked out to less than $1.50 per serving all told. Which doesn't seem fantastically cheap for homemade soup, but seems reasonable considering the quality of the ingredients and that it tasted really good. ;-)

In particular, I'm glad I added the potato and almond meal. Neither came through as a distinct element in the final soup, but I think they added to the richness of the broth.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Pancakes from scratch

I was in a "no recipe" mood this morning, and my wonderful wife asked for pancakes. (Go ahead, twist my arm.... OK, you can stop now. You had me at "pancakes").

Today I wanted to go with something a little eggier and to experiment with whipping the egg whites.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Chocolate chip cookie FAIL

I am perhaps overly enamored by caramelization.

It just seems so magical. So why not caramelize sugar every time you use it? What could happen?

I'll tell you what could happen, you could pre-ruin your cookies. That's what could happen.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Ham and cheese potato pancakes

I have a steady stream of potatoes coming in from our CSA so we cooked up our backlog into mashed potatoes. I have been trying to come up with some new ways to incorporate them into other meals as an ingredient.

Today's experiment: potato pancakes with ham, cheese, and leeks.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Pi Day Pie

In the summer, when the fruit is at the height of its season we like to buy a crate or two of peaches or apricots and make up a bunch of pie fillings that we stash away in the freezer to be used through the winter months. Pi Day is an excellent excuse to pull one of these buried gems from the cellar, make up a pie crust and have some pie.

Pi-tato pi-ttata for Pi Day

In honor of Pi Day I wanted some pi themed lunch. With mashed potatoes staring me in the face as I opened he fridge I wondered about a potato frittata, or rather, a pi-tato pi-ttata!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Scramble on tortilla

Here is another take on a veggie scramble of winter veggies. This time with potatoes.

I parboiled the carrots and potatoes, cut into chunks, for long enough to become fork tender. I chopped the greens pretty fine so it wouldn't feel like the same dish I did earlier.

And of course bacon. Because bacon.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Proofing Yeast and Baking No Knead Bread

Progressing through Cooking for Geeks, I got to do an interesting experiment with yeast. To test if your yeast is good put 2 tsp of yeast and 1 tsp of sugar in a half-cup of warm (105 degree) water. Then wait for it to bubble up.
And bubble it did.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Winter veggie wrap

I've been cooking so much "brown food" lately that I thought it would be good to show something green. We chose our CSA in no small part because we wanted one that continued through the winter. This time of year that means lots of root veggies and cooking greens.

I sautéed some leeks, tossed in some roasted carrots, some oven-cooked bacon, and finally some coarsely chopped greens.

Once the greens just started to wilt I added a quarter cup of almond meal, a Tbs each of lemon juice and soy sauce, tossed and covered for a minute to steam a little.

Then I served it up on a tortilla.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Pancakes with almond meal

I like incorporating a lot of almond meal in my cooking. I have tried waffles with almond meal in place of flour and they didn't hold together very well.

This time thought I'd try pancakes with half the flour replaced with almond meal. This worked well in terms of texture, browning, and flavor. The one problem was that they were quite tricky to flip without them tearing and breaking up.

They browned up nicely.

To top them, I mixed up some butter, maple syrup, and a little pomegranate syrup. This tasted nice, but I needed to warm the butter a little to get it to blend better.

Next time: I wonder if I made the batter a little thinner if that would make them easier or harder to flip. I think part of the problem was that the inside was staying too tender to hold together.  It also seemed to work a little better to make three smaller cakes rather than one large one at a time. 

Saturday, March 9, 2013


We had a potluck SCA event today. I wasn't sure what to bring, so I went with an old stand-by: hedgehogs!

Little pork sausage meatballs decorated with toasted sugared slivered almonds (for spines) and dried currants (for eyes).

I like them with currants much better than when I made this before with raisins cut in half (if I recall correctly). They were the perfect size and nice and firm and none of them popped out during the baking process.

Caramel Bacon Popcorn -- Second attempt

My second attempt at caramel bacon popcorn went better than the first. I again worked from the Grandma Paula caramel corn recipe. Except I cut the caramel sauce in half since I didn't think I was making enough popcorn. (In retrospect, I found this to be in error). 

Friday, March 8, 2013

Lamb chops

I wasn't sure how to cook lamb chops, so I thought I would treat them with my favorite (well, only) recipe for pork chops.
  • Dry the chops, cut the outside band of fat/connective tissue in a couple places (to keep the chops from cupping as they cook).  
  • Brush with oil. 
  • Dust with roasting salt. 
  • Dust one side with a little white sugar (to get some nice browning). 
  • Cook the sugared side over medium heat until browned (about 3.5 minutes in this case). 
  •  Flip, cover, turn heat to med-low and cook until internal temp is 140. (Just a few more minutes)
  •  Put into a 200 degree oven until ready to serve. 
  •  Deglaze the pan (I used a little chicken broth which created a nice delicate sauce).