Monday, October 20, 2014

Chocolate Pecan and Walnut Meringues

This weekend was my husband's birthday and instead of a cake, he requested creme brulee.  No cake?  I asked.  No, creme brulee it was.  Okay.  Yes, I've created a dessert snob, but that's ok.  I happily obliged, but of course that meant I had egg whites leftover.  And here is where I crazily searched for a recipe that uses up egg whites, despite the fact that I still had to make dinner that night for the birthday boy, not to mention also feed our two year old and get him in bed!  Priorities, right?

I found this recipe and in all of my baking years, I have yet to try a meringue, so I figured why not now, on a Saturday night at 5:00 pm, with dinnertime looming?  I ended up using half chopped pecans, half chopped walnuts, and mini semi-sweet chocolate chips.  I even left them in the oven from 6:30 pm until the next morning and they did fine.  I approached this recipe with half excitement, half indifference because A) I wasn't even sure I'd like butter or fat? Eh, and B) I figured meringues were super hard and that they weren't going to turn out but hey, at least I tried to be resourceful, right?

Well I was wrong on both points A and B because (is this getting annoying yet?) A) we all LOVED them, even my two year old! and B) these were so easy!  I of course tried one about halfway through the total baking and drying time and they were a bit tacky but I tell you, they dried up perfectly overnight and then when you bake them again in the morning it makes them perfectly crispy/shattery/melt in your mouth.  Try them!

Monday, August 25, 2014

Cheese Souffle

Guys.  I made this.  A souffle!  I'm super excited for myself.  Isn't a souffle the epitome of baking?  Like, if you master a souffle then you can master anything?  That's what I'm going to tell myself.

I won't say that I planned the night well, however.  After we put baby to bed, I still had a huge amount of work ahead of me - I had mixed up the dry ingredients beforehand but that was it.  So this equaled me angrily and tiredly putting this souffle together (as I sipped on wine, which helped) and then not eating until 10 pm.  Good thing my husband had a drink in his hand and I had made these grapes last week so we had something to tide us over.

Recipe and technique = 10/10
Planning = 4/10

This was amazing, plain and simple.  It was airy, cheesy and went so well with the chicken and thyme carrots that I kept thinking, I have to blog this.  Well, I think that a lot and then I never get to it so this should indicate how incredibly good this tasted.  Because I took the time to tell you about it.

Ok, a few more comments.  I have realized now that I could have made the base ahead of time because I kept thinking, how does anyone serve this for a dinner party?  You'd be in the kitchen the whole time and be a terrible hostess.  But if you make the base ahead of time, keep your egg whites in the fridge, and then whip and fold them into the base at the last minute, you CAN be the hostess with the mostess.  But for Saturday, it was a great dish to eat with my husband, and THEN we ate the leftovers for breakfast with bacon (from this local farm).

So what should I try to make next?  This list?  Or this?  Looks like Baked Alaska or croissants are up next!  Who's with me?

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Pureed Peas & Mint Quiche by Martha

enjoying the backyard

I hate eating lunches out during the week.  Or, rather, I should say that I hate eating out when I have to.  I'd much rather save my money for eating out with my family instead of some harried lunch that I can't really enjoy.  Not to mention that lately, my job has been so busy that I'd much rather be able to eat at my desk - well, ok, I sort of prefer that (hello, can you say introvert?  Also, this.)

All of this to say that during the middle of this week I suddenly had no lunch planned for the following few days and I panicked.  Weird, I know, but I had to have a plan.  I had just recently bought the latest MS magazine and I figured I should try one of her quiches.  Everyone has eggs in their fridge, and I also had a lonely half bag of peas in the fridge (didn't have the heavy cream but used some of my sweet toddler's whole milk...he'll never know).  I ALSO had mint from our very lovely mojito kick the previous weekend.

What I didn't have was a crust, but let me tell you, don't let that stop you!  I ended up using puff pastry.  I'd bet that her crust tastes much better, but nobody got time for that (is that joke dead yet?).

Here's the full recipe if you want to attempt it.  It seems rather watery when you take it out of the oven, and even as I was packing it for lunch that next morning I was questioning all of the liquid, but honestly it makes for a wonderfully light creamy quiche.  Just the thing I like to eat by myself while I check on my facebook feed.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Naturally Dyed Easter Eggs

I was determined to dye eggs this year but the idea of buying those kits at the grocery store wasn't really inspiring.  Not to mention now that I have a child, I worry worry worry about ingredients and chemicals and how they affect my family (although I grew up using those kits and I turned out fine, right?).

I used FarmMade's link and followed their recipe to dye these eggs.  The three with stripes were tied with butcher string.  The blue egg was dyed using red wine.  The yellow one used curry powder.  The orangish ones used chili powder.  I found out that kale does NOT produce any color, and brown eggs just do not take on the color as vibrantly as the white eggs.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Homemade Pizza!

the before shot - haha ignore my mocs

I made this announcement to some of my coworkers recently yet none of them seemed as excited as I wanted them to, so I'll announce it here too: I conquered pizza dough!  The back story of this is pretty simple: we tend to order in pizza on the weekend, and I decided that one of my goals should be to make my own pizza dough.  Cue the movie reel of me making pizza after pizza (ok, maybe just two or three), all of them soggy in the middle or burnt to a crisp on top just to get the middle set.  I'm obviously a quitter, because after those few failures, I gave up entirely until right after the New Year.  Armed with a gifted new pizza cast iron pan and a fancy pizza cutter, I got to work.  The first recipe I tried did not give me the crispy thin crust I was after, but in that recipe's defense I did not spread it thin enough (resulting in thick, bready dough that required over-baking and resulted in browned cheese on top...meh).  I immediately abandoned that recipe and went back to google square one. 

This is what I found.  And it worked!  Worked like a charm.  The key, I think, is getting the stone hot and letting it stay that way for almost an hour.  I've started making a fresh batch on Sunday morning, then freezing half of it for the next week.  At the risk of sounding terrible domestic, there is nothing that makes me feel like super mom and super wife like pulling freshly made pizza dough out of the freezer and having a home-made pizza by dinner. 

For sauce, I use Mark Bittman's basic tomato sauce recipe - similar recipe here, although the one I use starts with browning smashed garlic cloves and then simmering with canned tomatoes.  A quick spin with the immersion blender and I've got smooth, homemade pizza sauce.  You could also add bay leaves, or chopped basil.  What I love about making the sauce and the pizza (aside from the fact that my husband loves - no, LOVES - pizza) is that I can use up what I have on hand.  Last night it was green peppers/red onion/pepperoni.  A few weeks ago it was olives/sweet onion.  My next goal is to make a cream pizza sauce, like this, and maybe add some poblanos as toppings.  Any other pizza ideas?

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Pine Nut Meatballs with Lemon Yogurt Sauce and Pickled Vegetables

my toddler (when did that happen?)

I've baked and made many things since June or my last post.  There was a peach pie for Fourth of July.  There may have been some cookies somewhere in there.  I hosted a baby shower in mid-November that had a comfort food theme so I did chili, roasted apple soup, ginger apple sparklers, rolls, and gluten free cheesecake for the mamma to be, not to mention lots of appetizers (the baked salami with mustard dip was a hit!).  And most recently, I made pear bread topped with chocolate ganache for our Thanksgiving breakfast and old-fashioned ginger snaps for Thanksgiving snacking.  Because you need to snack during Thanksgiving, right?

A few Saturdays ago I ended up making a really great dinner and I wanted to come here and tell you about it.  It was one of those combinations that I sort of made up, and it turned out so well that I figured I should at least chronicle it here, if for nothing else so that I can reference it again when I can't think of an impressive yet easy dinner recipe.

I started with Molly Wizenberg's book (previously) and started thumbing through while little A ate his breakfast (boy, that kid can eat).  I found this meatball recipe and since it used some of my favorite ingredients - pine nuts, golden raisins, cilantro - plus I had most of it already, I figured it was fate.  The lemon yogurt dipping sauce also sounded wonderful, but I felt like I needed something spicy to pair with the cool dip and the warm, filling meatballs.  My husband gave me Rick Bayless' Authentic Mexican for my birthday and one of the first recipes I bookmarked was one for pickled chilies and vegetables and figured now was a great time to bring out that recipe (here is a similar one).

And, lo and behold, it was a success!  My only complaint with the meatballs (I used turkey) is that they tended to fall apart slightly when I cooked them, so I ended up having a pan full of mostly intact meatballs with some having fallen apart and weaped their contents all over the place.  No matter, really - they made for really great sticky cooked bits that we ate with a spoon along with the whole meatballs.  Everything played well together - the yogurt sauce helped cool off the spicy marinated peppers and was a nice smooth sauce to balance the wonderfully chunky meatballs.