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

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
-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

-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.]


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.


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.

[Thomas Jefferson Quote For Title]