Friday, November 26, 2010

Happy Black Friday, and Merry Belated Pilgrim's Bounty [Thanksgiving]

Black Friday--without a doubt--one of my favorite days of the year, well beside Thanksgiving and Christmas, and maybe New Years Eve. I personally enjoy Thanksgiving more than Christmas, mainly because there is more food, LIKE sweet potato casserole. Its less stressful than Christmas too: no need to worry about gifts, you just spend time with your family eat and be merry.All at the same time. And lets just face it, the after Thanksgiving sales kick the after Christmas sales' ass. I'd just enjoy to point out that the only thing i bought for myself was a set of two murloc action figures, other than that i bought Christmas presents for other people. I got a 150 dollar jacket for Mama for 66 bucks, try and tell me that isn't pro! I got to Kohl's at 4 AM and waited in line for an hour to check out, but was so worth it just so i can see the look on her face when she unwraps it!

There's just something about Thanksgiving food that make me smile inside and out. However the Turkey, which is supposedly the "big star" of thanksgiving dinner, is highly overrated; don't get me wrong i love the turkey but everyone knows that all the other fixings are the main attraction--the stuffing, the collards, the casseroles.At the first Thanksgiving dinner, with my Dad's girlfriend's family, I seriously only got one slice of turkey breast [i don't fancy the dark meat] and then piled my plate with mac n' cheese, green bean casserole, oyster stuffing, challah bread, crannberry chutney, and sweet potato casserole.

Now let me tell you something about the sweet potato casserole i made, when i put it in the oven to reheat and brown the marshmallows I kinda sorta might have uhhh got the marshmallows to ignite into flames because i placed them on the higher self of the oven...I would just like to point out, it wasnt my fault, i blame those dang oven nymphs that like to cause troubles--especially on holidays. Thankfully we recovered and had just enough marshmallows left to cover it again without almost burning down the kitchen. Aside from that mis-hap everything was epic, especially the food.


Oh forgot to mention, the mac n' chesse my dad made was spectacular, everyone was eating it, it had canadian bacon in it. You can't thwart the love for the ever magnificent pig. Bacon-1: Other Stuff-0.

Sweet Potato Casserole:
[flames excluded]
-64 oz. canned yams in juice, drained. [yams are the same as sweet potatoes, just pre cooked and skinned ]
-1 c. light brown sugar, firmly packed
-1 tsp vanilla
-2 large eggs
-1/4 c. evaporated milk
-1 tsp cinnamon
-1 tsp nutmeg
-1/2 tsp ginger
-1/2 tsp cloves
-3/4 c. flour
-5 tbs butter
-8 0z. chipped pecans
-marshmallows

Preheat the oven to 375

In a large mixing bowl mash together the yams, 1/2 c. of the sugar, vanilla, eggs, and spices until a smooth consistency is created, use a food processor if so desired. Pour into a 9x13 glass pan; set aside. In another bowl combine the flour, the remaning sugar, butter, and pecans until a crumbly mixture is formed. top the casserole in it--this is the crunchy topping. Bake coverd for 30 mins. Uncover and cook until the topping is a nice golden brown. Remove from oven and cover in marshmallows, return to oven and bake until the mallows are golden brown [not flaming.] Remove and Enjoy!


Monday, November 15, 2010

"It's Difficult To Think Anything But Pleasant Thoughts While Eating A Homegrown Tomato."

I awoke Saturday morning and immediately decided it was a good morning for a run: i was right. I ran from my dad's apartments, up the street, and on my usual 2.5 mile sidewalk loop run. The air was chilly; my blood was rising to my skin's surface and when i was back inside my face was flushed and my hands brutally cold. Perfect running weather--for me at least. Thankfully that chill warmed up a bit for Gleaning!


Gleaning:when a group of people are permitted to salvage crops after the top picks have been commercially plucked, after the crops are "gleaned" they are donated to a food bank or a soup kitchen to be then distributed to those who truly need it. It an amazing thing to do, i had fun doing it and throwing a half rotten tomato at my boyfriend Joshua. However not all of the gleaned crops are in good enough condition to give to the food bank, basically I got to glean the gleanings because they weren't rotten to the point of non-salvageable, but not in good enough to donate. As a result i returned to my Papa Bears Apartment with a big ol' bag of tomatoes! Upon my return i took the job of making tomato sauce.


And I obviously cut off the rot spots off of these so called "bad" tomatoes: only the good parts were left to enjoy.

There is something about made from scratch tomato sauce that just really tickles me. I mean how could anyone not just love it? Its fresh and flavorful and just darn delicious, plus you know what goes in it and that there are no additives or unnecessary sugar--not to mention it makes your whole house smell like an Italian love fest. Id also just like to state that it will not come out the "normal" red color you are accustomed to with jar sauces, this recipe creates a dark orange sauce; but that's just because I don't use food coloring, no one should.

First things first when you're crafting this sauce: you have to peel the skins off those pretty little red spheres.

You do not cut them off with a knife--you blanch them, then shock them, and then the skins come right off with just a little pressure from you're finger tips.

Step 1: Cut a tiny "X" on the bottom of the tomato.


Step 2: place in boiling water for 15 seconds--or until the skin begins to peel around the "X"
Step 3: Immediately transfer the tomato to an ice bath
Step 4: Gently shed the tomato of its skin with tender fingers.
Viola! peeled tomatoes. This was the same procedure used for peeling the plums in my "Spiced Plum Jam" recipe; but that's a different post.

Now to seed a tomato one must quarter it and cut out the core, then under cold running water brush out all the seeds and save the tomato meat to cook with [duh.]
No that we got that basic down, TIME FOR THE RECIPE!

A Gleaner's Tomato Sauce:
-1/3 c. Extra Virgin Olive Oil [I refuse to call it E.V.O.O. fricking ever.]
-5 cloves of garlic, minced
-1 large red onion, minced
-1 large red bell pepper, diced
-2-3 lbs. tomatoes, peeled, and seeded.
-2 tbs. dried basil
-1/2 tbs. honey
-2 tsp. red pepper flakes
-2 tsp. rubbed sage
-2 tsp pepper
-2 tsp salt
-1 tsp crushed rosemary

Heat a large high sided pot over medium heat, Pour in the olive oil and then toss in the garlic and onion; sweat for 5 mins. Now dump in the tomatoes along with the basil, honey, red pepper flakes, sage, pepper, salt, and rosemary; stir, lower the heat, and let simmer--slightly covered--for an hour. Take a potato masher and crush up the tomatoes until your desired sauce consistency is reached, you can use a blender or a food processor if you want a smoother viscosity.
TA-DA you're skill in cooking has improved by 1 ! GRATS !
I hope you enjoy this yummy homemade sauce. It's delicious.



Saturday, November 13, 2010

“There is some magic in it, ... How else are we going to turn a pumpkin into a coach?”

This is going to be a short and sweet post because I'm going gleaning in a bit. If you're wondering Gleaning is where you go to a farm after farmers have taken their pick and you get the leftovers for free. Ill make a post about that tomorrow when i have time because I'm going to be working all night tonight. ANYWAY, i made up another pumpkin recipe, well pumpkin and sweet potato recipe. Maple Pumpkin Sweet Potato Pie. This came about because we could either make a sweet potato pie or a pumpkin pie at Tech Center last week--I combined the two instead. I also remembered reading a post on Eat The Love a while back about his Maple pumpkin pie and decided I wanted to try the maple idea out on my creation too. The results were delectable and my friends seemed to enjoy it too.
[I'm sorry this post is so lame :)]

Pumpkin King Pie:
-8 oz. pumpkin [canned, unfortunately]
-1 large sweet potato, roasted until soft
-1/2 c. firmly packed brown sugar
-1 tsp. cinnamon
-1 tsp. nutmeg
-1/2 tsp. salt
-1/2 tsp. ginger, fresh is better than ground--trust me
-1/4 tsp. cloves
-1/4 tsp Cayenne pepper
-2 eggs
-1/4 c. maple syrup
-1 tsp. vanilla extract
-12 oz. evaporated milk
-1 9" pie shell [recipe follows]

Preheat the hotbox to 375 F

In a large bowl beat together the pumpkin, sweet potato, brown sugar, and spices until smooth. Next whisk in the eggs, maple syrup, and vanilla extract.Finally stir in the evaporated milk until smooth and homogeneous in apperance.

Pour into a 9" pie shell and bake for 40 to 50 min--until a knife comes out clean in the center.

Pie Dough:
[makes 2 pie shells]
-2 1/4 c. sifted all-purpose or cake flour
-2 tbs. granulated sugar
-1 tsp. baking powder
-3/4 tsp. salt
-3/4 c. shortening
-5 tbs. cold or ice water

Sift a heap of all-purpose flour onto a piece of wax paper. Set the flour sifter into the mixing bowl. Then measure 2 1/4 c. of the sifted flour back into sifter[sifted flour is not the same as flour, sifted.] add the 3/4 tsp salt, sugar, and baking powder; sift into the bowl.Drop the shortening into the flour, then cut it in with two table knives:hold one in each hand; cut crosswise [that's in opposite directions] through mixture until the flour coated particles are the size of peas.
Sprinkle 1 tbs of water over a small portion of the flour mixture, lightly pressing moistened particles together with a fork. Toss this dough aside in the bowl. Repeat until all flour is moistened, being careful to add water each time to undampened spot. Use only enough of the water to make the dough stick together when gently pressed. now lightly form one pastry ball, wrap in waked paper and chill for 30 mins.
Now the pastry is ready to roll out into two 9" single pie shells.

[Paolo Montalban Quote For Title]

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

You Must Be Out Of Your Gourd!

A week ago, the Tech center kids, including me, got to adventure over to the Chesterfield Berry Farm to pick pumpkins to carve. It was fun despite that it was gloomy dreary and on the verge of rainfall.Me and my friends got lost in the corn maze, considering the only help was to answer questions about bees--we didn't know very much about bees.

I'm pretty sure the only reason we got out was because me and Abbey cut through the corn and made our other three friends follow. The fact that i played my ipod and everyone sang Blink-182 songs to each other helped a lot too. We kind of got a little too excited once we found our way out, lets just say there was much rejoicing.
It was time for lunch after that and by lunch i mean two scoops of delicious pumpkin ice cream. I had it for the first time ever there, and my tongue almost jumped out of my mouth and danced from how delicious this stuff was. Imagine pumpkin pie--in ice cream form. I didn't think it was possible to make something as good as pumpkin pie like that, but, they, did it. I think Jesus might have partaken in its creation.

It had a creamy light orange color like a sherbet, but it had brown speckles of ground up ginger snaps, which i think was an ingenious addition because pumpkin and ginger are spectacular together. There was also delicate flavors of cinnamon and nutmeg, they added just enough so that there wasn't a harsh taste that sometimes comes with these intense spices.

After the pumpkin ice cream experience, me and my friends began to geek out over all the animals-- the cows, bunnies, chickens, peacocks, turkeys, and goats. I would just like to say there were bunnies the size of my hand and there were just the cutest little things! Not to mention i got to pet a goat and a cow, my inner child was very very happy.

Pumpkin Ice Cream Freeze:
[recipe taken from Chesterfield Berry Farm, which was taken from "Pillsbury's Entertainment Idea Handbook."]
-1 1/4 c. finely crushed gingersnaps [around 25 cookies]
-1/4 c. granulated sugar
-1/4 c. butter, melted
-4 c. [two pints] vanilla ice cream, softened
-1 c. cooked pie pumpkin meat
-1/2 c. firmly packed brown sugar
-1/2 tsp. salt
-1 tsp. cinnamon
-1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
-1/4 tsp. ground ginger
-1 tsp. vanilla extract
Add the gingersnap, sugar, and melted butter together in a medium sized mixing bowl--combine together with a fork until well blended. Reserve 1/2 c. of this mixture. Press the remaining mixture into a 8 or 9" square pan; set aside. In a large bowl combine the ice cream, pumpkin, brown sugar, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and vanilla; beat until well combined. Pour on top of the crumb crust in the pan ASAP, then sprinkle with the reserved crumb mixture. Freeze until firm [minimum of four hours.] Scoop out and serve with whipped cream.
Yumminess !

Sunday, October 31, 2010

All Hallows Eve

i was Toph from avatar the last air bender for Halloween. I went trick-or-treating, and im pretty sure it will be one of the main motives for me having to have a kid when im older. That and to be able to play Lego's without feeling ridiculous. I'd also like to mention that i suffer for my art work, a freggin needle went through my finger while i was sewing this. INTENSE, but so worth it because my costume is awesome.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Bacon Makes Everything Better.

Oh how I've missed you so! Finally--a spare moment--I can put up a new post. I feel awful neglecting my little Plum Jam like this all id do is school, work, school, work, no free time. So goes the life of an overachiever teen...kinda, i still make time for World Of Warcraft [yes i am that nerdy.]

Well today started off on the wrong side of the bed, i was making a brisket over night and when i woke up it was tough. I've never made brisket that didn't fall apart to the touch--until now. This horrible disaster could be fully picked up, oh the horror! oh the agony! oh the un-tenderness! I surprisingly I didn't panic even though i needed something to bring in to Tech Center for our fun Halloween lunch in. I grabbed a cook book, i didn't care which one, just any cookbook--i was desperate. House & Garden's Cook Book was the one i ended up grabbing. I went straight to the last page of recipes, I did this because baking is in the back of a cookbook 99 percent of the time and a baked good is easier to pull out of your ass than a main course kind of dish.

The first thing that caught my eye was just a simple little scone recipe, but then my mind exploded, in a good way of course.

I saw two apples on my counter: "Apple scones! those would be yummy! Oooo I can add cinnamon and nutmeg and cloves, and vanilla!"
I remembered I bought bacon the day before: "Bacon, Apples. Maple Syrup! Ahh I saw on food network one time on The Best Thing I Ever Ate an apple doughnut with a maple glazed topped with bacon bits, I will so do that to these scones!"

And so my Apple Scones with a maple syrup glaze with bacon on top came into existence. Angels sang and God spoke, and that's coming from an Atheist so yes they were amazing.

Apple Scones:
[Modified from the "Scones" recipe in House and Garden's Cook Book.]

-4 c. sifted pastry flour [you can use AP flour or bread flour, i just prefer the pastry for scones]
-8 tsp. baking powder
-1 tsp. salt
-1 tsp. ground cloves
-4 tsp. sugar
-8 tbs. butter
-2 eggs
-2 egg yolks
-2/3 c. cream
-1 tsp vanilla
-2 Fuji apples, cut into 1/4" pieces
-2 egg whites
-sugar

Preheat hotbox to 425F

Sift the flour, baking powder, salt, cloves, and 4 tsp of sugar together in a large bowl. Cut in the butter using two butter knives as you would for pie crust.Beat the egg and egg yolk until thick and lemon-colored; stir in cream and vanilla. Add to the flour mixture [remember 9 times out of 10 you go wet to dry] and stir together lightly with a rubber spatula then fold in the apple. Turn onto a lightly floured surface and knead for a mere 30 seconds--do not over work the dough. Roll or pat out to a 1/2" thickness and cut into desired shape: Triangle, Diamond, Circle, Sugar, whatever suits your tea. Which ever shape you choose brush with the egg white and sprinkle on a good coat of sugar. Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment or butter it. Bake for 15 to 20 mins, if you use a convection oven it will only take 10.

Its reccomend to serve hot with butter and marmalade or jam, but I took a more extreme route.

Maple Syrup Glaze:
-1/3 c. maple syrup
-2 tbs. heavy cream
-1 tsp vanilla
-1 tsp. cinnamon
-1/2 tsp. nutmeg
-1/4 tsp ground clove
-1 1/4 c. powdered sugar

In a medium bowl whisk together syrup, cream, and spices; add in the powdered sugar. Whick until a smooth thick yet runny consistencey is reached. Add more of the powdered sugar to make it thicker or more heavy cream to make in more liquidy.

To assemble this Scone you let them cool enough so you can handle them then you dip the tops in the glaze--sprinkle on bacon bits for a finishing touch of happiness.

These things shouldnt be legal, but they are and I enjoy my little creation. Oh, everyone at the luncheon did too.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Do I look like a turnip that just fell off the turnip truck?

I am most regretful for not being able to post recently, School and work have been taking their toll on me, I'm pretty sure I'm becoming an insomniac too--I got ONE hour of sleep last night-- and i feel as if my job is my life now. I eat live and breathe party city, however come payday on Friday I'll get around 300 dollars. I. Am. Stoked. Today I'm happier than a hick at a monster truck rally about having the day off. I plan to play Starcraft for a solid 3 hours after this, but first I must must must praise the pot pie I made at my Papa's this weekend.

I can honestly say Sunday was the first time i had ever eaten parsnips or turnips, doing so was a most excellent choice. I discovered I am a big fan of root vegetables--even without meat.




There was an earthy flavor to them which was mellowed out by the thyme and sage, and the lemon juice gave it a needed hint of acidity which cut the starchiness [for lack of a better term] of the roots. In addition to that, the choice of using a biscuit topping as opposed to a crust boded well for me, deliciousness.


Root Veggie Pot Pie:
-6 tbs. butter
-1 tsp lemon juice
-1/2 onion, chopped
-4 cloves garlic, minced
-2 large carrots, 1/2" dice
-2 good size turnips, 1/2" dice
-3 parsnips,1/2" dice
-1 tsp. thyme
-1 tsp. sage
-1 tsp. paprika
-1 tsp. salt
-1 tsp. pepper
-4 tbs flour
-2/3 c. milk
-Biscuit dough

Preheat hotbox to 350F


In a large sautepan, heat the butter and lemon juice over medium heat (until butter is fully melted.) Add in the onion and garlic: saute for five mins. Toss in the carrot, turnip, parsnip, thyme, sage, paprika, and salt && pepper. Cover and sweat for 10-15 mins, or until the vegetables are barley tender. Uncover. Stir in the flour--continue to stir and cook for 5 mins. This formed my roux. Grab a whisk and whisk in the milk, do this until the milk has thickened and is not lumpy.


Pour into a pie pan or ceramic dish, cover with foil and bake for 20 mins. Uncover and continue to bake for an additional 20 mins, or until the biscuits area a appealing golden brown.






Tomorrow at Tech Center we're going to the pumpking patch so there will be various pumpkin flavored recipes up soon. I love pumpkin.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Beautiful, Dirty, Rich.

It's been a while since I've had time to blog, work and AP classes and Training take up 90% of my time. >.> I mean I cook everyday, but I just don't get to blog about it. So sad. However today I found some time on my hands to discuss an important matter. Pasta

It's come to my attention that people don't know how to make pasta right. They tend to over kill and over cook the pasta till its mush because they've been tricked by boxed mac-n-cheese into thinking that's good pasta. It's not. The box is a lie. I'm bringing this up because these three girls made mac n cheese for the whole class...It was a drab mush. It was over cooked and the only flavor it had was the cheddar cheese. No onions. No garlic. Nothing. They probably only melted the cheese in instead of making a proper sauce by creating a roux then adding in onions and garlic and then scalding milk with seasonings then melting in the cheese to stir into an ALDENTE pasta. Not over killed mush. AH I'm just really critical when it comes to pasta because I love it so freggin much. Most pasta should only be cooked 10 to 13 mins. Not 15 or 20. blahblahblah I digress. Just please, cook your pasta properly, that's all i ask.

So of course I wanted to make pasta when i got home so I could make it properly, I just wasn't really in the mood for mac-n-cheese sooo i made a tomato sauce to put over some aldente Farfalle.The sauce was nice because I have this handy dandy little garden with basil, thyme, rosemary, and golden sage.


mmm I love fresh herbs! So much more aromatic and flavorful. If you use fresh herbs you'll notice a huge difference in excellency. Also adding a pinch or two of nutmeg really brings out this amazing flavor with the tomato. Try it, you will love it.

While i was boiling my pasta in salty water with olive oil, I noticed some potatoes laying around my counter. I figured these spuds needed to go to use. I crafted a nice little dish of Potatoes Anna, sort of like scalloped potatoes. Tender potato thins, with a creamy cheesy sauce in between the layers and a nice crusty of bubbly melted golden brown cheese on top.

Potatoes Anna:
-2 large russet potatoes,washed and peeled
-1/2 c. milk
-1/2 tsp pepper
-1/2 tsp paprika
-3/4c. shredded cheese [colby jack, cheddar, mozzarella, etc. etc.]

Preheat the hotbox to 400F

Once the potatoes are peeled grab a mandolin, or a four sided cheese grater [use the side with the half circle smiley face looking slicers.] Slice as many slices from the potatoes. set aside.

Combine milk, pepper, and paprika. Set Aside.

Grease an oval ceramic pan. Create a layer of the potatoes, then pour 1-2 tablespoon of the milk on top, cover with cheese. Keep making layers the same way until the pan is full. Pop in the oven for an hour, or until the potatoes are tender and the top crust of cheese is a melted golden brown


Spoon some onto your plate with your pasta or with steak, because you cant go wrong with meat and potatoes.

Enjoy, Goodnight! <3

Friday, October 8, 2010

Oh Snap!

It has been a long week. I've been sick and tired and working and dealing with school. I crashed and burned. Yesterday I had to miss an AP History timed essay, passed out at my Dad's apartment, and then went to work for 5 hours, two of which I had to be outside in a full body--including huge skull mask--jester costume. when i came back in my braids were completely soaked with sweat. Having said that I worked the hell out of that corner. I didnt go to school today, meaning i missed Tech Center. Oh well, I still cooked delicious food tonight anyway.

Random, non food related Shenanigans: My older cousin Sydney came over for my mama to take her senior portrait, and were ended up playing Tatsunoko vs Capcom, which is an epic fighting game with characters from both Tatsunoko and Capcom games [DUH!] Its like the game Tekken, except on drugs. After that Mama, Syddy, and I met up with my Aunt Jo, Uncle Stachy, and younger cousin Alyssa at a mexican restraunt. Syd took it upon herself to make a napkin mustache and beard for herself.

One of the many reason I love my family. That's my little side anecdote for the day.


Okay back to food, where was I? Mars perhaps? Ah yes now i recall, I prepared a cheesy orzo.


It tasted pretty good, I mean cheese can make any kind of pasta even better. It was quite simple too, all i did was cook the orzo till it was aldente, reserved two tablespoons of the hot pasta wtaer, melted in 1 1/2 tablespoons of butter and about a cup, more or less, of a mixture of shredded asiago, cheddar, and colby jack cheeses. I also added in a tsp of paprika, salt, pepper, and then finely chopped some fresh rosemary . I served it with cherry tomatoes and some parsley for herbal freshness.


Blahblahblah, what I really want to talk about is the plum tart i made. utterly fabulous. The tender crust had a light hint of vanilla that just flirted just enough on my tongue to cause it to swoon. The caramelized golden-orangeish flesh of the plums melted in my mouth like a pool of a sweet yet tart, warmly spiced, heavenly-ness.

Plum Tart
Dough-
-1 1/3 c. flour
-1 tsp. salt
-1 1/2 tsp baking powder
-1/4 c. brown sugar
-4 tbs. butter
-1 tsp vanilla
-5-8 tbs water

Topping-
-4-5 plums, sliced into about 1/2" slices
-1/2 c. brown sugar
-3 tsp. cornstarch, more if the plums are juicier
-1-2 tsp. cinnamon
-1/2 tsp. nutmeg
-1/2 tsp. salt

Preheat oven to 375F

In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar. Using 2 knives, cut in the butter in a criss-cross direction. Do this until the butter is absorbed into the flour in pea size balls. Stir in the vanilla, then stir in the water, 1 tablespoon at a time until the dough just combines. Use your hands to form a ball of dough. Keep in the fridge for at least 30 mins.

Meanwhile, toss the plum spices in a bowl with the remaining ingredients; make sure the slices are evenly coated.

In a greased spring form pan, press the dough into the shape of the pan, don't make high edges.
Use a fork to press some holes in the dough, brush with an egg-wash or melted butter. Bake with nothing on it for 10 mins.

Take the crust out of the oven and arrange the plum slices in a circle by laying them on one another.Bake for a final 20-30 mins, or until the flesh of the plums becomes a radiant orange, and the crust in golden and tender.

Take out and enjoy the fruit of you labor. [pun intended.]

Goodnight.

Monday, October 4, 2010

No, It Does Not Need That Much Sugar.

Today at Tech Center we were blessed with the opportunity to prepare chili and cornbread--which was perfect considering it finally is cold again so it was a little dank, grey, and dreary out this morning.The plus side to that was when i strolled out the door; the brisk air greeted me with a pleasantly harsh caress on my cheeks; the smell of wet pavement from a midnight rain still lingered. This is my kind of weather. Having said that, the warmth and comfort of chili and cornbread never hurt anyone, especially not me.

Chili is one of those dishes that i love in fall--I also loved apple cheddar sandwiches, but that's another story for another post--and having chili without cornbread is like having a dog that meows, just plain wrong. If you already didn't realize this, I'm a bonafide southern cook, I know how to make southern food right and good, ergo, I make damn good cornbread.

A common mistake with cornbread is adding an excess of sugar, rightly so considering it shouldn't have any sugar in the first place. I myself won't use more than 2 tablespoons of the stuff, the corn in the bread provides enough sweetness but unfortunately the American palate has been warped into a sugar-happy child. I mean seriously?! Look in any canned tomato sauce and there will be sugar added in, It don't need that! People need to get back to the heart of food and in the name of Gaga stop raping Mother nature's already perfectly delicious ingredients. But I digress.

Rule Number One of cornbread: never ever over sugar. Rule Number Two: whip the egg white(s) till stiff peaks form and then gently fold into the batter and the very end before baking. This creates a light delicate cornbread with a moist crumb, if you've had cornbread before you know it can be dense and feel like its sticking to your throat or stomach walls, not yummy, not one bit. The Third and final rule of cornbread is: Always sprinkle the top with sugar before baking, and brush with melted butter once it's out of the oven.

I'd also like to throw out there that you don't need to measure everything down to a kilogram. I've mastered the art of eyeballing measurements, as everyone should, i hate getting out a teaspoon or tablespoon, even for baking powder or soda.

Cloud Nine Corn Bread:
-1 c. yellow corn meal
-1 c. AP flour
-1 1/2tsp. baking powder
-1/2 tsp baking soda
-2 tbs. sugar
-pinch of salt
-1 large egg, separate. [put the egg white in a small mixing bowl]
-1c. buttermilk
-3 tbs. vegetable oil
-2 tbs. melted butter. [measure after melting]
-1/4 c. yellow corn

Preheat hotbox to 325 F

In a large bowl combine corn meal, flour, baking powder, baking soda, sugar, and salt. Set aside
Beat the egg white until stiff white peaks form. Set aside.
In a medium bowl whisk together the egg yolk, buttermilk, oil, and butter. Slowly pour into the dry ingredients while whisking at the same time. Mix in the corn. Finally gently fold in the egg white; be sure not to over stir or all the air incorporated in the egg will be released, and we wouldn't want that now would we?

Pour into a greased 9" pie pan. Spinkle the top with an extra teaspoon or two of sugar. Bake for 25 to 30 mins, or until it sounds hollow when tapped. Also, the toothpick method will work just as well for checking done-ness. Once out of the oven brush generously with melted butter.

Slice and enjoy! Be carefully not to drop it when eating, this is a very delicate crumbly bread. I recommend eating with chili, gravy, honey, hell jut eat it plain.

Goodnight!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

"The Fennnel Is Beyond Every Other Vegetable"

After a wonderful work shift at Party City, i went back to my dads crashed on the futon and turned on the tube to The Food Network, The Next Iron Chef re-runs were on. As my father and I watched something caught my interest, ratatouille that had fennel in it. Just then my Papa mentioned something about cooking lasagna for my sister. It hit me like a broadside of a barn. Lasagna with fennel. I told my dad we had to go to the store, i wanted to cook this so badly.

There is something about fennel that i enjoy quite a lot. It's most likely because of its licorice smell and flavor, It entices and invites my palate into a delicious wonderland. Fennel is also extremely versatile and can be crafted into deserts such as fennel ice cream, or added to savory dishes as I did this evening.



Dum dum duh dum
Supreme Lasagna:
-1 lb. lasagna noodles, not oven ready
-1 tbs. olive oil
-3 cloves garlic, minced
-1 medium fennel bulb, around 2 cups thinly sliced.
-1 large red onion, julienned
-58 oz. tomato sauce
-1 tbs. dried crushed basil
-1 tbs ground crushed oregano
-1 lb. ground beef
-1 lb. ground pork
-1 lb. ground hot pork Italian sausage
-2 tsp. honey, preferable of the golden variety
-2 tsp paprika
-1 tsp cinnamon
-1 tsp. salt
-1 tsp. pepper
-15 oz. ricotta cheese
-1 1/2 c. shredded mozzarella
-1 c. shredded Parmesan
-8 oz. fresh mozzarella

Preheat hot box to 350 F

Fill a large tall pot with lots of water, around 5 or 6 quarts, salt and add in 1 or 2 tablespoons of olive oil.Bring to a boil. Add in pasta and cook until aldente, around 8 to 10 mins.Drain. Set aside.

In a dutch oven heat the oil. Toss in the garlic, fennel, and onion, sweat for 5 mins. Pour in the tomato sauce, basil, and oregano; bring to a simmer. Reduce for 30 to 40 mins.

Meanwhile begin to brown the ground meats. While it is still slighlty pink, season with the honey, paprika, cinnamon, salt and pepper. Cook until no more pink is visible. Drain and add to the sauce.

Now the layering proccess begins. the proper order is:
1. sauce
2. noodles
3. cheese

repeat. repeat. repeat until your at the top of your pan.

The only specifics are use the fresh mozzerella on the top layer only and cover the top with sauce as well.

Cover tightly with aluminum foil. Bake for 40 mins. Remove foil and continue to bake until the cheese is bubbly, 5 to 10 mins.


Take out, cut a slice. Serve with bread and butter. DEVOUR.

kbai.
[Thomas Jefferson Quote For Title]

Thursday, September 30, 2010

"1,2,3,4. Can I Have A Little More?"

A few classes ago at Tech Center, Chef Kimmel taught us how to cut a whole chicken into 8 pieces-two breasts, two wings, two thighs, two drumsticks-it was far from glamorous.

A video to help explain [not mine of course]:


First things first, wash your hands, then rinse and dry the chicken [carry the chicken in a bowl so it doesn't drip and cross-contaminate everything withe salmonella.] Place the chicken breast side up on a plastic cutting board, never use a wood cutting board when handling raw meat, it absorbs the bacteria. Pull one of the legs away from the body and slice through the skin between the body and the sides of the thighs. Bend the whole leg away from the body until the hip bone pops from its socket- cut between the ball and socket to sever the leg. Repeat on the other side.

Once the legs are separated divide them into the and thigh. Do this by cutting through the joint of the drumstick and thigh.Repeat with other leg. Now you have your two thighs and drumsticks.

Now you need to get the wings off that bad boy! Pull the wing away from the body and slice diagonally 1" away form where the wing joint meets the body. Cut off the tip of the wing-save for making stock or throw it out. Repeat with the second wing.

Last but not least: getting the breast off the chicken. Set the chicken up vertically, so you can look down the neck cavity, and cut down through the shoulder bones to detach the back from the breast. You can save the backbone for a stock, eat the meat if you want, or just dump it. Once the breast is by itself cut it in two down the length of the breastbone.

Viola! a whole chicken divided into eight pieces. You can leave the skin on or take it off, its up to your personal preference, I usually take it off except for when i fry it.

Which reminds me, after we divided up our chickens, Chef Kimmel let us decide how to prepare our pieces. I chose to fry it, mainly because I am fried chicken champion, in the words of Chef, I "knocked Colonel Sanders out of the park," I was most pleased.

The breading was a crispy golden brown crafted with a perfect Melody of flavors, the chicken was tender and juicy, the ideal tasting conditions.

Southern Fried Chicken:
-8 pieces of chicken, skin on, [breasts each cut in half]
-2 eggs
-3-4 c. buttermilk
-1 tsp. liquid smoke
-6-8 c. flour
-3 tbs. dried rosemary
-2 tbs. paprika
-1 tbs. seasoned salt
-1/2 tbs. cayenne pepper
-2 tsp pepper
-Vegetable or soy oil for frying

In a medium bowl whisk together eggs, buttermilk, and liquid smoke. Set aside. In yet another medium bowl, combine the flour and seasonings. Take one piece of chicken, dip in flour, then buttermilk mixture, then dredge in flour, dip in buttermilk mixture again, then the flour again. This creates a nice breading on the chicken and dredge multiple times builds the potential crispness off the skin. Repeat with each piece of chicken, If more buttermilk mixture is need combine 1 egg and 1 cup buttermilk. For more flour combine another cup of flour with 2 tsp. rosemary, paprika, seasoned salt, and cayenne pepper.

Pour about 4" of oil into a large saute pan or pot with high sides. Heat the oil on medium heat. To check if the oil is ready, stick the end of a wooden spoon in the oil, if it bubbles all around it then its time to fry! Fit as many pieces in at a time as you can, make sure its not too crowded though. The biggest piece, usually the thigh, will obviously take longer to fry than the others, it should take around 20-24 mins. 10-12 each side. The pieces should be a delectable dark golden brown. If you are paranoid about it being done, check the internal temperature, 165 degrees is the safe zone.

Put on a plate, serve with biscuits, gravy,potatoes, etc. etc.

Enjoy!

[Beatles Lyrics For Title]

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

M.E.A.T.Y: Meat is Extremely Appealing Tasty and Yummy

The other night my Mama assigned me a glorious task--making meatloaf--a personal favorite. They key to a great meatloaf is proper moisture. If a meatloaf doesn't have enough tomato sauce or it has to many breadcrumbs then it will be crumbly and dry, not satisfying for my palate. Having said that if there is an excess of sauce or no binder or breadcrumbs, then the result would be a hot mess of a weird unappealing squishy meat-thing. I say "meat-thing" because if there's to much liquid then it wont stick together properly forming the desired loaf goal.

Aside from moisture one needs to create a good base with a variety of meats. I have something called the Holy Trinity of Meat. equal parts of ground beef, pork, and veal. The Beef gives the meatloaf or meatballs that classic meaty flavor. The Pork needs to be Italian, half sweet, half spicy, this adds a depth of flavor to the dish. However if you don't have the two different kinds of pork you can add a pinch of brown sugar or fennel seeds [for the sweet] and 1/2 tsp hot sauce [for the spicy.] Lastly, the Veal has a milder flavor and harmonizes all the different flavors together.


Meaty 3 Meat Meatloaf:

-1 1/2 lb. meat mixture [1/2 lb. each of ground beef, pork, and veal]
-1 onion, finely chopped
-3 cloves of garlic, minced or grated*
-1 celery rib, finely chopped
-1/2 carrot, shredded
-1 1/2 tbs. paprika
-2 tsp. dried, crushed rosemary
-2 tsp. dried, crushed thyme
-1 tsp pepper
-1/2 tsp salt
-1/2 tsp cinnamon
-1/2 tsp nutmeg
-3/4 c. tomato sauce
-2 tbs Worcestershire sauce
-2 tbs. Italian dressing
-1 egg
-1/2-3/4 c. plain or Italian seasoned breadcrumbs

Preheat the hotbox to 350 F

In a large bowl, using your hand combine together the meat with the onion, garlic, celery, carrot, and seasonings. Now add in the tomato sauce, Worcestershire and Italian dressing wih the meat mixture. beat the egg then combine with meat. Pour in the bread crumbs, making sure that the mixture is moist and sticks together.

Dump the meat into a greased bread loaf pan, distribute evenly. Make sure to push the edges of the meatloaf away from the sides of the pan, leaving an inch of space for the fat to drain into. Brush the top with tomato sauce to retain moisture, if you want wrap in bacon for extra moisture and flavor.

Put in the oven and bake for an hour and a half.

Take out, cut into slices. EAT.

Goodnight ;)

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Marshmallows Are The Food Of The Moon Men

The other night i was bestowed with the honor of sleeping over at my best friend Maggie's house. It was fabulous and she taught me a very very important life lesson. Put marshmallows in the brownie batter. Genius. Pure genius. Literally mind blown by how decadent, gooey, chocolaty, and eye-popping show-stopping these brownies were. I'm not even sure she knows how obsessed i am with this brownie breakthrough.

So Mags, when you read this, just know, you complete me.

Photo Cred to scrumptiousdelight

The crumb was compact and moist, yet it still had a lightness to it, as if it were a delicate cloud of gooey chocolate. When I picked it up i had to be cautious; it could cave in any second since its very molecules were unstable due to the yumminess. I took my first bite, a symphony of ambrosial tastes melted in my mouth leaving my taste buds moaning for more.The only thing i think could make this taste any more delicious would be to add caramel just because chocolate and caramel are soul mates in a steamy love story of tempting food.



Brownie Ecstasy:

-4 large eggs, separated
-1 c. sugar, sifted
-1 c. brown sugar, sifted
-1 c. [8 oz.] melted butter
-1 1/4 c. cocoa powder, sifted
-2 tsp. vanilla extract
-1/4 c. chocolate syrup or melted chocolate
-3/4 c. flour, sifted
-1/2 tsp. kosher salt. [omit if salted butter is used]
-1/2 c. mini marshmallows [or 6 big ones quartered]

-Soft butter for greasing the pan
-Flour for dusting the pan

Preheat the hotbox to 300 F. Butter and flour a 8" square pan.

In a medium size bowl beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form. Set aside.

In a large bowl, beat the egg yolks until a smooth homogeneous consistency is reached. Pour in both sugars, mix well. Add in the butter, cocoa powder, vanilla extract, chocolate syrup, flour and salt, stir until combined. Mix in the mini marshmallows. Now gently fold in the whipped egg whites, do not be harsh on them or it will cause all the air incorporated in them to be released. The egg whites give it a light texture.

Pour the batter into the greased pan and bake for 45 mins. You cant use the toothpick method to check for done-ness since they are so gooey. However, you might want to shake the pan, if the middle is still jiggly then its definitely not done.

Try to wait until it is mostly cooled before cutting it, i know it's tempting to devour them right away but patience is a virtue.

Grab a brownie and delight your sense with the pure deliciousity that is, brownie ecstasy.

Farewell.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Yeast, Bread, And Chemistry

Now today has been rather rough; i cut my finger at The Tech Center. I blame physics and my accident prone self. However, i didn't freak-out about it, even after i found out i had to go get stitches. Actually i was straight up annoyed because i didn't get to cook my Veggie Burger! LAME. The Only real painful part was when the doctor injected the numbing medicine into my finger. It was like a bee was stinging me, but the stinger was made of fire and death. I'm just glad it was the Center's knife and not mine. I have a Shun brand french [aka chef's] knife so basically if i were using that i would have probably cut much deeper, practically to the bone. So Glad that wasn't the case.

I'm feeling rather scientific at the moment; I decided to answer a very common question in the culinary world. Why the heck does yeast make bread rise?!
The answer is quite simple and scientific, and yes, something can be scientific and still be simple.

First off, many people are confused about what yeast really is. Yeast is a fungus. MMM now ain't that just so appetizing? The type of yeast most commonly used is a budding yeast named Saccharomyces Cerevisiae. I'll refer to it as SC for short.



Now SC lives a very simple life, its one and only objective is to intake sugars and starches for nutrients. As a result, SC releases Carbon Dioxide [aka CO2] as a byproduct.

So when a yeast bread dough left to rise SC is producing more and more CO2 which in return get trapped inside of the dough. The build up of the Carbon Dioxide is what makes the bread rise.



An important thing to remember is to always let yeast breads rise in a warm place because heat allows SC to pass gas faster. This is also why bread continues to rise throughout the baking process process because the heat of the oven sets SC into turbo mode.

Well that's my little science lesson for today! Hope you enjoyed my random knowledge!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Im Famished

Honestly, there is very little to eat in my house at the moment. I mean there are bagels and grapes and some blackberries but seriously? What happened to everything? I blame communism. Anyway I'm thinking about making some bread or muffins or something out of flour, yeast, butter and sugar since those are basically the only things in my kitchen right now. Hell i just might make cookies for dinner...dinner cookies. Yeah that's it ill attempt making a savory cookie.... this should be interesting. Ill post m discoveries later tonight.

Also I haven't posted in the last couple days b/c Ive been out of it and playing video games and trying to remember to do my homework; not to mention getting ready for the S.A.T. Oh the joys of high school!

On the final note, Tech Center was okay today. We had to make up our own Stir-Fry recipe, mine came out pretty good but I'm getting sick of just making stir-fries. I'll get over it,I love Tech Center.

Here's my Stir-fry recipe-

Sesame Honey Chicken Stir-fry:
Sauce:
-1/4 c. soy sauce
-1/4 c. chicken stock
-3 tbs. honey
-1 tbs. lemon juice
-2 tsp. sesame oil
-2 tsp. paprika
-1 tsp. cumin
-1 tsp. curry powder
-1 tsp. ginger
-1 tsp. turmeric
-1/2 tsp. ground mustard

Stir-fry:
-2 cloves garlic,minced
-3 scallions, minced
-1 rib of celery, 1/4" thick half moons
-1/2 carrot, julienned
-1/2 zucchini, julienned
-1/2 red bell pepper, julienned
-6 oz. grilled chicken, 1" cubes

Whisk together all the sauce ingredients in a small bowl; set aside.

Heat a saute pan on medium-high heat. Add in the sauce mixture, bring to not quite a simmer. Add in the garlic and scallions, saute for around 3 mins. Toss in the veggies, cook for 5 mins.
Finally put in the chicken and heat for a final 3-5 mins.

Veggies should be a nice tender-crispness, or aldente [to the teeth.]

Serve with sticky white rice, so much more fun to eat it with chopsticks!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Good Till The Last Bite

I'm dead right now. I had a very difficult triathlon today, the bike course was described as "gently rolling hills". More like the Peaks of Hell! My quads are fried but i got 1st in my age group because i was the only girl my age with enough balls to take on the race. Anyways i need to talk ab out something delicious i discovered yesterday at the Iron Bridge Wine Company in Warrenton, Virginia.

This restaurant is pretty frigging good. They had a delicious cheese plate of blue cheese, a hard white Cheddar, and some sort of medium hard cheese; partnered with slice green apples crispy nutty crackers and delicious crusty bread.

However the cheese plate is not why I have taken such a liking to this place, it was the Chicken and Red Grape Pizza. I saw it on the menu and knew i needed to eat it.
This personal gourmet pizza was exquisite. The chicken was tender and juicy, the juicy hot grapes bursted in my mouth with their caramelized sugars flirting with my taste-buds. Underneath these tantalizing toppings was a sheet of perfectly melted Gruyere cheese on top of a thin tender pizza crust. I enjoyed it to the last bite which in my opinion is the goal of a chef. Anyone can get someone to love the first bite but it takes talent to get someone to enjoy a dish just as much till the last bite.

I've formulated what i figure is the closest recipe ill get to this glorious dish.

Chicken and Red Grape Pizza:
Crust:
[You can use a thin 6" frozen pizza crust if preferred]
-1 tbs. sugar
-1/2 tsp. salt, kosher
-1/2 tbs. pure olive oil
-1/3 c. warm water
-1 c. bread flour
-1 tsp instant yeast
-an extra tsp. olive oil
Toppings:
-1 chicken breast
-12 seedless red grapes
-2 or 3 oz. crumpled Gruyere cheese
-1 tsp. snipped chives
-1/4 tsp. pepper
In a large bowl place the sugar, salt, olive oil, water, flour, and yeast. [you can use an electric mixer on low for this.] Combine until the dough just forms into a ball. Dump onto a floured surface and knead for 15-25 mins. Form a smooth ball and place in a glass bowl. Pour in the extra tsp. of olive oil and toss the dough to coat. Cover in plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place for 1-2 hours, or until double in size.
Meanwhile, cut the chicken breast into very small, bite size cubes. Heat enough oil to cover the bottom of the saute pan. Gently saute with a pinch of salt, half a pinch of pepper, and 1 tsp lemon juice.
Preheat the hotbox [with the pizza stone on the lower rack] to 425 F

Mold the dough into a 6" pizza crust; form a rim to keep the toppings in; brush with olive oil. Crumple the Gruyere evenly on the crust. Sprinkle on the pepper. Distribute the grapes and chicken bites, evenly covering the pizza.
Place pizza on the hot pizza stone. Bake for 15-20 mins, until golden brown crust and the cheese is melty and bubbly.


Cut into fourths; sprinkle with chives and dig in.
Enjoy.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Whip It!

As i staggered through my front door after a delicious Philly Cheese Steak sub from Angelo's I went into my kitchen to see what i wanted to cook for later. My eyes were immediately drawn to the heavy whipping cream. At that moment I recalled that there was one sheet of puff pastry left. So of course i made cream puffs! A good puff needs to be flaky, a little sweet, buttery, and tender on the inside. The cream to accompany it needs to be thick, fluffy, and just the right sweetness. This whipped cream and puff recipe combo makes for a delicious little elegant dessert.

I kinda feel like shit because I've barely drunk enough water to sustain a good mood, and i have AP US History and AP English homework to do so I'm trying to be short here. [sorry :'( ]

Whipped Cream:
-1 pint Heavy Whipping Cream
-1/2 cup granulated sugar
-1/2 tsp vanilla

Pour all ingredients into a bowl. Whisk by hand until stiff peaks form. You can whip the cream with an electric mixer as well on a low to medium-low speed. Should be thick and creamy; not to mention yummy.

Cream Puffs:
- 1 sheet of Puff Pastry Dough
-1/3 c. sugar
-1 tbs. butter, melted
-1/2 c. Whipped Cream

Preheat the hotbox to 350 F

Thaw the puff pastry dough as directed on the box. Usually 30 to 40 mins. Set on a cutting board and make 1" wide strips lengthwise, now take those strips and cut them in half. Roll the strips into individual balls, or "puffs." Roll the dough balls in sugar then dip in the butter. Place on a greased cookie sheet; bake for 20-25 mins or until puffed up and a light golden brown on top.

Remove from the oven and transfer onto a cooling rack; allow to cool for 10 mins. Take a knife and slice the puffs in the middle so you have a crevasse to place the cream. Spoon as much cream into or on the puffs as you want. Serve warm or cold from the fridge. Drizzle or dip in melted chocolate if you so desire. I would have but alas no chocolate sat in my cabinet nor in my fridge.


Store extras [doubt you'll have any] in the fridge or freezer.


Pop one of those bad boys into your mouth and savor the sweetness of that cute petite puff.

Goodnight.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Biscuits; An Art Form

I'm not sure if I've actually eaten dinner tonight, but i did wolf down three delicious honest to goodness southern buttermilk biscuits. I count it as my dinner, all i need to survive are biscuits with gravy, honey, or jam, that and Betsey Johnson clothes.

Now I believe that people have lost the concept of a good biscuit. The majority has had their taste buds zapped and brain washed by dough in a can.I'm pretty sure lots of people have never had a homemade biscuit, they have no idea what they are missing out on. Seriously man, getting the right biscuit out of your oven is like angels singing from the heavens, they're that good. Not to mention if it comes out of my grandma's oven, I cant even convey the feeling my body experiences when i devour one of her delicious pillows of biscuits. Yum. However my recipe is almost just as good as hers, i still haven't perfect my technique. Either way the out come is a flaky buttery biscuit that's just sweet and salty enough, soft and not to dense with the right sort of chewiness in the center. They're good for breakfast, second breakfast, tea, snack, lunch, dinner, supper, desert; anytime just pair them with the right add-ons.

For example, have them with sausage gravy for breakfast, jam for tea or a snack, whipped cream with fresh sliced strawberries for a desert. etc. etc.

Buttermilk Biscuits:
-3 c. AP flour
-1 tbs. baking powder
-1/2 tsp cream of tartar
-1 tsp salt
-1/4 c. granulated sugar
-3/4 c. butter, softened and cut into pats
-1/2 tbs. tupelo honey
-1 1/4 c. buttermilk [or 1 cup regular milk]

Preheat the hotbox to 450 F

In a large bowl combine the flour, baking powder, cream of tartar, salt, and sugar. Throw the butter into the flour mixture and using two knives, cut criss-cross through the mixture until the consistency of coarse meal forms [you can use your hands instead of the knife technique.] Stir in the honey then form a well in the center of the dry ingredients. Pour all of the milk in and use a fork to for the dough. Dump onto a flour surface and knead the dough 6 to 10 times. Use a rolling pin to roll the dough out until a 1/2" thick. Next take a floured 2" round cookie cutter and cut out your biscuits. Roll up the scraps and repeat until all the dough is used. Place the rounds on a greased baking sheet 1" apart from each other. sprinkle with some extra sugar and salt on top of each. Cook for 10-15 mins.


Dip in honey or spread on jam, take a deep breath to build the effect;bite; swallow;enjoy.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

"Alas, What Crimes Have Been Committed In The Name Of Chowder!"

I some how managed to get two hours worth of homework done in one. What a champ! Today was a fun day at tech center, we made chowder. It's called a chowder, not a soup, and not a stew. Don't mix em up! Super delicious no matter what you call it though. The only problem was it was extremely hard for everyone to cram in on the stove. Two kids got burnt today. However one of the guys determined we were all gonna be "close" friends by the end of he year do to this cramped space. I enjoyed the pun. We made a vegetable chowder with chicken stock. I cant wait till meat is brought into the class. Meat is neat after all. I also got fitted for my chef uniform today at Tech Center, I cant wait to parade around in it.

Chef Kimmel went over the idea of a roux and how it thickens sauces and soups, showed us the proper way to scald milk, an peel the skin off tomatoes.

Scalding milk is where you heat it up so its hot but make sure it doesn't boil or curdle, that would result in an off taste and viscosity.

To peel the skin off a tomato, first cut a small "X" on the top of it. Now place in boiling water for around a minute or until the skin starts to pop off. Shock in ice water to make sure it doesn't cook and keeps it color. now using your fingertips, gently peel off the skin. To seed the tomatoes cut into quarters and squeeze out the seeds into a bowl. After this julienne them and then make small dices of the tomato for this recipe.

Creamy Vegetable Chowder:
-2 oz. butter
-3 oz. flour
-1 clove of garlic, minced
-1/2 onion, small dice
-1/4 to 1/2 zucchini, medium dice
-1/4 to 1/2 yellow squash.medium dice
-1/2 carrot, medium dice
-2 celery ribs, medium dice [half-moons]
-3 to 5 white button mushrooms, sliced
-1 tsp. salt
-1 tsp. dried basil
-2 bay leaves
-1/2 tsp. thyme
-1/4 tsp. white pepper
-4 c. hot chicken stock
-1 medium tomato, peeled; seeded; diced
-2 c. hot milk
-1 large russet potato, peeled; medium diced; boiled till fork tender

In a large saute pan, melt the butter on medium-high heat. Add in the garlic and onions, saute for a minute or two. Throw in the zucchini, squash, carrot, celery, mushrooms and seasonings, cover and sweat until the veggies are a little under aldente, so they are still slightly crunchy. 5-10 mins. Stir in the flour to the vegetable medley and cook for 5 mins, stirring constantly to ensure the flour doesn't burn. The addition of flour makes a roux to make the chowder thicken up. Next pour in the chicken stock and tomatoes, whisk the mixture vigorously for a few mins to incorporate air and to keep the flour from clumping. This aids the thickening process. dump in the milk and potatoes. Whisk and cook for another 5 to 10 mins. take off the heat and allow to thicken up a bit more for around 5 mins. REMOVE THE BAY LEAVES. they can get stuck on the inside of your throat since they are so thing. you will choke and die.

Ladle into a bowl and enjoy. I prefer to have it in a mug so i can drink it.

[Louis P. De Gouy Quote For Title]

Monday, September 13, 2010

Puff Daddy? Oh My Bad, Puff Pizza.

I went shopping with my sister earlier to blow of some steam, nothing like retail therapy! I bought a devil horn hat. It's adorable. On a side note, I spent a lot of time dicing carrots and julienning them for practice. It is impossible to make perfect even squares out of carrots.
Impossible.

Anyway, when i got home and she drove back to her apartment, i got to thinking about what i wanted to do with this puff pastry i had in the freezer. I ping ponged ideas in my head. Should I make a dessert? Pot Pie? Napoleons? Then it hit me, Pizza. Genius. Delicious. Easy.

I let my pastry thaw, but while i was doing that, i whipped up a quick sauce. Almost the same one i used in the "A Bird In The Hand Is Worth Two In The Bush" post. [http://theplumjam.blogspot.com/2010/08/tonight-i-was-graced-with-honor-of.html]
However I had to settle for canned diced tomatoes instead of fresh cherry tomatoes. None the less it was still exquisite on the pizza.

I normal make my own pizza dough and i was worried that maybe a puff pastry wouldn't be a good enough thickness or texture. If you like a really doughy thick dense-ish crust, then i wouldn't recommend puff pastry, however if you don't mind a thinner crust go for it.

Pastry Pizza Is Yum:
-1 sheet of frozen puff pastry, thawed for 30 to 40 mins
-"That's Amore Tomato Sauce"[from the bird in the hand post] or your favorite pizza sauce
- 1 cup shredded Asiago cheese, or fresh mozzarella cheese in 1/4" thick slices.

Preheat the hotbox to 425 F

Set the pastry on a greased cookie sheet. Fold over the edges so it resembles a small pizza crust, [enough to hold in the goods.] Then take a fork and prick the dough so it wont let the sauce explode off. Next spoon over the sauce and spread evenly across the dough. Now sprinkle the cheese on top. Add whatever toppings you want, bacon, peppers, peperoni, sausage, etc. Cook in the oven for 15 mins, until the cheese is melted & bubbling and the pastry is a golden brown.

Take out; Slice; Devour; Enjoy
I'm off to do the Trig homework i put off till just now.
Oh Procrastination, how I've missed you.

Later Broskis !

Will You Ever Forgive Me,Blog?

I'm very troubled today, i remembered that i haven't posted anything new on here in forever. I feel as if my jam is offended. I think ill make something with puff pastry I have in my fridge, I'll post food stuff later.
Adios

Thursday, September 9, 2010

My Ship Sprung A Leek!

I took a nap on my best friend's couch today after school, she has the most comfortable couch in the universe. I wish i could keep that couch in my pocket and set it up where ever i wanted to take a glorious nap. But as it isn't, it ain't. That's logic. Anyway when i got home, i remembered i had some leeks left over from when i bought them a week ago. I had to use them today or the consequences might have been deadly...

I decided on making potato-leek soup since i had all the necessary ingredients. On the down side i realized i didn't have a blender till after i had finished simmering the leeks and potatoes...I had to cream it together by hand resulting in a slightly more lumpy consistency than anticipated. Having said that, the soup was still scrumptious, i love the light onion flavor of the leeks, it melds all the flavors together nicely. After i made the soup though, i was kinda bummed that i didn't make leek rings [i always want to say leet rings]. They're like onions rings except with leeks so they're smaller. I'll make those another time when i feel like frying something.

On another note, be sure to rinse the leeks nice and well. Since they are grown in sand you need to make sure you get all the sand and bad stuff out before cooking. Don't want anyway, including yourself, having to have a grainy sand crap.

Leeky Soup:
-3 tbs. butter
-2 to 3 medium or large leeks, sliced into half moons about a 1/4" thick
-1/2 tsp. honey, preferably an amber
-1 tsp. salt
-4 c. vegetable stock or chicken broth
- 3 medium Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and diced into 1/2" cubes
-1 tsp. paprika
-1 1/3 c. heavy cream
-1/2. buttermilk

In a medium sized saucepan, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Add in the leeks and honey and sweat for 5 mins. Sprinkle in the salt and cook for another minute or so. Next pour in the broth then add in the potatoes and paprika; turn up the heat and bring to a boil. Now lower the heat and bring to a simmer; cover and continue to simmer for 45 mins. Using a stick blender, or a regular blender puree the leek and potatoes until a liquidity mashed potatoes consistency. Blend in the cream and buttermilk until smooth.

Serve with buttery crackers and grated Asiago cheese. Oh and don't forget to maybe add some crumbled bacon or fresh snipped chives on top too.


I was more than happy to eat this. Its such a mild onion flavor but you can taste the smokey undertones of the paprika and the sweetness of the honey in a beautiful way. The fact that i basically end up loving any food with potatoes in it was a plus as well. Its a great dish for cold or hot days because you can eat it piping hot, or chilled, so no matter what time of year you can always enjoy leeks if you have them!

Off to another day at the Tech Center tomorrow!

Enjoy yourselves, okay?

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

No Need To Be Sloppy

Oh how wonderful today was. I had my first day at the Chesterfield Technical Center, It's where i get to go every other day to study culinary instead of school. This place is spectacular, my teacher, Chef Kimmel, Is amazingly nice, and the kitchen is awesome. The gas stove has 20 burners, 10 in the front, 10 in the back; not to mention the pantry is filled with so many spices! After Chef Kimmel tested our knowledge of kitchen and culinary tools, he got us working on our cooking project of the day, Sloppy Joes. First Chef demonstrated mise en place basically having everything ingredient you need prepared and ready before you begin the actually cooking. Once we got started it was hectic,the 22 of us running around with pots, knives etc etc. It was exhilarating. The clang of the cooking spoons against the pots, the sizzle of the ground beef, the swift chopping noises; I was in my element.

After we had finished making the sloppy joes, we began to clean up our station a little before we went off to the cafeteria to eat.It was awkward since i didn't really know anyone to sit with, thankfully this one girl from my class invited me to sit with her friends. They were all girls so i mean i didn't have much to talk about with them, I'm more into talking about video games, not listening to pointless gossip. I appreciated it none the less.

When we returned to the culinary room,we began the clean up process. There were two super large sinks, each divided into thirds; one part for cleaning, another for rinsing, and the final one for sanitizing with water mixed with bleach. We also had to sweep and mop the floors, clean the stoves, take the garbage out, make sure all of our supplies were accounted for, turn in our knives, and was the tables with water and bleach. Sounds like it might be dull, but trust me, it's never boring in the kitchen, there was always something to do.

Pac-Manwhich [lolpun!] photo cred to http://www.insanewiches.com



Sloppy Joe Sandwiches:
-8 oz. ground beef
-1/4 onion, diced
-1 clove of garlic, minced
-2-3 un-pitted green olives, minced [optional]
-1 tsp flour
-1/8 tsp. dry mustard
-1 tsp.paprika
-1/2 tsp. rubbed sage
-1 tsp. salt
-1 tsp. ground black pepper
-1 tsp. honey
- 1/3 c. ketchup or tomato sauce
-1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
-1 tsp. apple cider vinegar

First heat a pan on medium high heat.When hot enough to the point where the meat sizzles when it touches the pan, brown the meat with the onions, garlic, and olives. Drain some of the excess fat, but not all of it. Stir in the dry ingredients, simmer for 5 mins. Mix in the wet ingredients, simmer for another 5-10mins. Serve the sloppy Joes on toasted hamburger buns, a warm bun always tastes better.

It was a nice tasting Joe, or Jane in my case I suppose. Making these from scratch always tastes better, and you know whats in it, not to mention you can pronounce the ingredients. So basically, this recipe demolishes "Manwhich." Manwhich is for pussies! Whoopzie Doodles, i need to mind my mouth.

Its a basic recipe, but that's what this place is all about, learning the basics, knife skills, how to handle certain ingredients, etc. etc. So basically its legit awesomesauce to the max. I also have to wear a chefs uniform, which is freggin sweet, cant wait till the order comes in for it.

OH,on top of all that i had my first ever interview,for a job at "Party City", I nailed it. The manger said he put me in the "hire" pile. So in 1-3 weeks ill be working at one of my favorite stores! Excitement!

May the force be with you...

<3

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

First Day Of School,I Need Stew.

Today was the first day of school; hectic to say the least. My best friend, Mary, pulled up in her cherry red, beat up, convertible, not as good as the 73' Maverick she bought but now isn't functioning. That Maverick is straight up gorgeous, Mary and I have a thing for old cars. As i was saying she picked me up and as we approached the stoplight just on the outskirts of our neighborhood, I realized i had forgotten my book The Kite Runner, in my room. I freaked out and Mary turned around ASAP. I made a picture of me freaking out, on paint.

And yes, my jacket is that colorful.


I was so panicky because I had two books [one being the Kite Runner] due along with essays for the first day of my AP English course. Now i had both of my books, but somehow i winded up not having my papers with me. I was fucking pissed to say the least. Thankfully, my teacher was understanding and allowed me, well my dad, to email her the essays as soon as i could without taking off. Dodged a bullet there, I'm always forgetting things, and it sucks because even though i procrastinate, i always end up getting my work done, so if I forget to bring something I flip out.
Not to mention i lost my schedule after only my 2ND class causing me to embarrassingly ask someone in guidance to print me off a new one. However I think I'll like my classes, especially chemistry, I'm a major science geek.

The time has come, for the subject of food! HUZZAH! Now I did some research on Brazilian cuisine because it's the country from which Ive chosen to cook from today. Awesomesauce? I think so.

Brazil is the largest country in South America, and probably the 4Th largest in the world. Around 1/4 of the known plants can be found in Brazil, not to mention the Amazon River runs through it and has the largest rainforests in the world.

In the 1500's the Portuguese landed in Brazil, bringing with them their various cooking techniques and food preferences. They brought sugar, citrus fruits, and recipes for some sweet treats, European influence is what developed Brazil's undeniable "sweet tooth." However, a long time before the Europeans even thought about the new world, Indian groups lived and Brazil and grew manioc, which is a root similar to the potato. Manioc is now one of the staples of Brazilian cuisine, along with: rice, garlic, parsley, beans, pork, and beef. The national dish is actually a meat stew called Feijoada, me being me, I decided to prepare it. [I wanted to make Ambrosia which is a sweet custard like desert, but i didn't have enough eggs.]

This stew is flavorful and hearty, packed with the bold smoky flavors of the meats blended with the sweetness of the tomatoes. Furthermore, the beans gave it a most pleasing texture. Traditionally this dish is served with white rice, manioc, orange salad, and kale, but i just had it with a nice piece of crusty bread.

Feijoada:
-3 strips raw bacon, cut into fourths, width wise
-2 yellow onions, chopped
-3 cloves of garlic, finely minced
-1 lb smoked sausage
-1 lb boneless beef, any cut. Flank steak, or stew beef are good choices
-14 oz. can of stewed tomatoes
-1 tbs. Dijon Mustard
-1 c. hot water
-4 c. canned black beans, drained and rinsed
-1 tsp salt
-1 tsp pepper

In a large pot fry the bacon at medium-high heat. Once fried, reduce to medium. Add in the chopped onions and minced garlic and cook for 2-3 mins so they are soft. Slice the sausage and beef into 1" pieces, then add them to the pot. Brown the meat on all sides, then stir in the tomatoes, mustard, hot water, and the salt & pepper .Cover and reduce heat to a simmer; simmer for 45mins. Be sure to stir it often, around every 10 mins or so. If it starts to get to thick or dry, add in an extra 1/4 cup of hot water. Now pour in the beans, cover once more and cook for a final 10mins or until the beans are to your liking.

Sorry there are none of my pics, my cameras on the fritz. Lamesauce, but here is a picture of it [courtesy of http://travelingbastards.blogspot.com]



I'm a sucker for soups and stews, and for bacon and sausage, so to me this dish was a winner. It made my insides smile, and yes I'm the kind of weirdo who enjoys stew when its still burning hot outside...my house is cold okay.

Goodnight good fellows.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

I Want Wontons

Tonight is quite amazing. Its beautiful outside and my kitchen smells awesome. The scent of corriander and chilli peppers still lingers. The burn of the spice still dances upon my lips, and my tummy is most satisfied. My Papa, sister, and I feasted on delicious Mantu , which are steamed dumplings, a popular dish in Afghanistan. The country of the day. COOL.



Yogurt, coriander, garlic, onions, green onions, tomatoes, potatoes, and fruit are staples in Afghan food. Not to mention its a combination of the many different ethnic groups, such as Pashtuns, Tajiks and Uzbeks, with Indian influence of use of many spices such as saffron, corriander, black pepper, cardamon, etc etc. Also Lamb is a huge favorite amoung Afghan cuisine. Mmmm Lamb.
I decided to make mantu because it sounded delicious. Lamb and Onion dumpling. yum? I think so.
Mantu Dumplings:
-3 tbs. oil
-1 lb. minced/ ground lamb
-1 yellow onion, finley chopped
-2 cloves of garlic, minced or grated.
-1-2 red chilis, finley chopped
-1 tsp. ground black pepper
-1 tbs. coriander powder
-1/2 tsp. salt
-A package of premade wonton wrappers.
-1/2 c. plain yogurt
-4 extra cloves of garlic, finley minced

Heat oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Fry the onions and garlic until translucent, 2-3 mins. Add in the meat, cook until brown; breaking it down into a fine texture. Stir in the seasonings and chilis, add in 1 tbs of water, continue to cook for 15 to 20 mins. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly. Take one wonton wrapper and place 1/2 tbs. of the mixture in the center, wet the egdes of the wrapper with water. Take another wrapper and cover and fold until all edges are sealed. Repeat until all the filling is gone. Place in a steamer and steam for 30 mins.
Meanwhile in a small bowl combine the yogurt and the extra 4 cloves of minced garlic, pepper to taste. This will be a most loveley sauce to compliment the dumplings.


Take the dumplings out, dip them in the sauce, eat, enjoy.

These wonton thing-a-ma-gigs are so freggin good. Flavorful, spicy bold, but the sauce is tangy and cool with a lot of zip. Great Combo.
HOO-RAH