Saturday, July 28, 2007

2 kinds of cookies......

On Thursday, I had a lunch catering job for 14 people. I don't know what I was thinking, but I decided to try two new recipes for cookies. The first is for Applesauce Currant cookies and the second was for a Choc. Chip cookie using a package of vanilla pudding mix. Our library had a book sale and I picked up a book called Big, Soft, Chewy Cookies for .25cents. How can you beat that price? The version I linked to is an updated version. My book is pretty old. Anyway, when I started making them, I noticed there were no eggs in the recipe and then I panicked because I wondered if that was a typo. I looked at a few more recipes in the book and decided it wasnt. The cookies were soft and very cake like. Robin said she liked them because they were different.

I found the next recipe from our very own fellow foodblogger Anna. However, I didnt find the recipe on her site( maybe its there though?), I found it over on Egullet in a thread about Choc. chip cookies. While I was making them, the doorbell rang. I went to get it and when I came back to the cookies, I accidentally put the pudding mix in the dry ingredients instead of the butter/sugar. They still came out great though. I did notice that when I didnt pat down the dough, they didnt spread out as much. I ended up with some flat cookies and some stocky cookies. I sent the flat ones to the job.

I really liked this cookie and will add it to my collection.

In other news. Did I mention we are renovating our kitchen and adding another room on to our house? Our kitchen designer came over yesterday for the last time. We made some revisions to the kitchen plans and we actually bought the plans (the price of the design fee is deducted from the total) so we can take them to the bank for financing. We need to get the cabinets ordered next week so installation can start by Oct 1st. My one nagging question is Quartz or Granite????

Labels: , ,

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Deeply chilled......

On Friday, I drove to Cleveland. I was somewhat nervous and anxious about making the drive by myself( 5+hrs). I'm not that good at driving and reading directions at the same time and I actually almost cancelled. I'm so glad I didnt. I had a great time and I really loved Cleveland( or I should say Beachwood, the suburb where I stayed). I enjoyed it so much that I'm planning a return trip in the fall.

I was there for the Egullet Heartland Gathering. The link will take you to the reporting thread and there you'll find pictures of what I made( in post #17 and #44). I made bing cherry crumb pies( I blogged about them last year) and a risotto with shrimp. I arrived too late for the Friday dinner at Lola, but I met up with folks on Saturday morning at the West Side Market. We all chipped in 20 bucks and then shopped for ingredients. After shopping, we had a phenominal lunch at a Cambodian place. The owner kept bringing out dishes and we all shared them. There was a plethora of food and it only cost us 12.00 each( with tax and tip). Amazing. I had the most flavorful won ton soup I've ever had. After lunch, we headed to a church in Solon, OH. The church had a huge commercial kitchen and large dining room for us to enjoy. There were about 25 of us cooking and everything just worked out really well. Another Eg member who came up from Ann Arbor, held a chocolate tasting/truffle and wine workshop. One person brought tons of homeade charcuterie from Chicago. I think that was quite possibly the best lox( smoked salmon) I've ever had. He also made pastrami( none for me thanks), bacon and sausage. These were just our appetizers!! My friend Tom made all the breads. If I can remember correctly, there was honey whole wheat( my favorite), brioche( heavenly), sweet potato bread, ciabatta, cranberry pecan, potato rosemary, and one other I can't recall. It was just so fabulous to hang out with like-minded people and talk about one of my favorite subjects.

Tom was so generous( as was Ron, the charcuterie guy). I came home with tons of bread( as you see in the picture) and smoked salmon and bacon. I froze the brioche and I'll be making french toast this weekend. Before I left for home on Sunday, I went to Whole Foods, Trader Joes, Sur La Table, Williams Sonoma, a grocery store and a bagel shop. As you can see, I went a bit overboard with the cheese( Vegans, advert your eyes). I brought back 9 cheeses,( 2 of them I had at the gathering and I liked so I picked them up at Trader Joes). The rest came from Whole Foods. I even picked up a local Ohio cheese. Last night, I heated up some of Tom's bread and ate bread and cheese for dinner. Robin had a burrito that I brought her back from Chipotle.

I also picked up a slice of cheesecake for Robin from the Cheesecake Factory. I'm not a fan of cheesecake so a slice is good for her. When I was waiting for my order, another gentleman wanted to buy a whole cheesecake. The counterperson told him that they were "deeply chilled" and wouldnt be ready for consumption for an hour or two. Deeply chilled???? That made me laugh my ass off. Leave it to Cheesecake Factory to come up with a new word for Frozen. I guess Frozen is a bad, bad word in the restaurant industry. Speaking of cheesecake factory. They started in Detroit, yet there are no restaurants in Michigan. Why is that?

Labels: , ,

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Bacon wrapped pork tenderloin w/chimichurri sauce ( cuisine at home)

I really like Cuisine at Home Magazine. The food is very good and pretty simple to make. I was looking for simple last night when I promised Robin I'd make dinner. Lately( because of my Byetta), I just havent been that hungry at dinnertime. I could eat a bowl of cereal and be happy. I had a pork tenderloin in the fridge that had to be used though so this was perfect. You cut up the tenderloin and wrap each slice with bacon. Then you use two skewers so the pork doesnt spin around. The sauce is simple too. Parsley, garlic, pepper, red pepper flakes, olive oil, white vinegar and water. You brush this on the pork while its grilling and serve extra on the side.

I cooked this morning for my seniors(the job where I chose the menu). I made smoked sausages, baked beans, corn muffins, saukerkraut( I didnt actually make this), and fresh green beans. The baked beans are a Paula Dean recipe and they're really good. None of the ladies who were helping me today had heard of Paula. I found that strange. I guess I watch too much Foodtv.

Labels: , ,

Thursday, July 12, 2007

This is the best I can do......

I really havent been cooking much lately and when I do cook, I usually make something familar that I've blogged about before. For instance, last week I made Chicken Parmesean and on Monday, I made Zucchini bread( a great recipe, btw). When its hot outside, I only want to eat salad, fruit and icecream. We had a few really hot days, but then it cooled off yesterday. I do have a pork tenderloin in the fridge that I'd like to do something different to.

Anyway, I started a new job and frankly, the food there is not my style of cooking. Really, I feel like I'm just preparing food( instant puddings, sandwiches, reheating roasts that were cooked by someone else). Obviously, I'm being kind here, I could say a lot more, but ya never know who is reading. At my previous job( the caterer), I always made the staff lunch and tasted what I was cooking throughout the day. At this new job, I bring my own lunch and rarely taste anything( that should speak volumes). Do you want to hear the funny part? I'm making more money now than I was at the previous job. Crazy I say!! Anyway, I need to suck it up because its only a casual job. I dont have a set schedule, so I can turn down shifts if I I dont want to work on that particular day. So far, I'm only scheduled for 3 shifts in August.

I also still have the other job( Cooking for seniors). I do that tonight and I fill in next week on Tuesday and Wednesday. I like that job. I can cook what I want and I love introducing the Seniors to new and LOCAL or nonlocal foods.

Obviously, the above pictures have nothing to do with all the drivel I just wrote. June 19th was our 4yr wedding anniversary. I've wanted the cuisinart griddler for months now and I waited patiently until our anniversary. I'm usually the type of person who buys what I want, when I want it. However, Marriage is about compromise, so I patiently waited. But then, the griddler wasnt availble on Amazon( only thru another merchant and I didnt want to pay shipping charges) so I waited some more. About 2 weeks ago, it was on sale at Canadian Tire and I had a 10dollar off coupon so I got permission from Robin( LOL!!) to buy it. I used the griddle portion to make blueberry pancakes on Sunday. I still havent used the panini maker( well, I have at the caterer, just not since I bought it). I will this weekend though.

The picture of Oliver is just so cute. I checked out a bunch of library books and he planted himself on one. It looks like he's reading a cookbook. Oh, btw, the book is fix it and forget it lightly. I figured I'd pull out the crock pot and attempt to make something in it last Saturday because I dont get home from work until 7pm. I asked Robin if she'd like sweet and sour chicken. She said Yes. The cooking time was grossly exagerated. It took 4 hrs on low, not 6-7 and the chicken was like chewing gum. I choked down a few bites( Robin declined) and the rest went in the trash.

Labels: , ,

Thursday, July 05, 2007

German Chocolate Cake( Cook's Illustrated).....

My poor sick requested a German Chocolate Cake on Saturday after watching America's Test Kitchen make one. Oh, the power of suggestion!! Anyway, I got right on it and a couple hours later we had a beautiful, flavorful, wonderful cake.

I was a tad confused because the recipe on the Cook's website is different from the one in Baking Illustrated. I used the Cook's recipe because it was published after Baking. The frosting was fantastic and I like the idea of adding the pecans after the coconut mixture cools down and before you frost the cake.

German Chocolate Cake

When you assemble the cake, the filling should be cool or cold (or room temperature, at the very warmest). To be time-efficient, first make the filling, then use the refrigeration time to prepare, bake, and cool the cakes. The toasted pecans are stirred into the filling just before assembly to keep them from becoming soft and soggy.


4 egg yolks
1 can evaporated milk (12 ounces)
1 cup granulated sugar (7 ounces)
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar (1 3/4 ounces)
6 tablespoons unsalted butter (3/4 stick), cut into 6 pieces
1/8 teaspoon table salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 1/3 cups sweetened shredded coconut (7 ounces)
1 1/2 cups finely chopped pecans (6 1/2 ounces), toasted on baking sheet in 350-degree oven until fragrant and browned, about 8 minutes


4 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate , chopped fine
1/4 cup Dutch-processed cocoa , sifted
1/2 cup boiling water
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (10 ounces), plus additional for dusting cake pans
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
12 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks), softened
1 cup granulated sugar (7 ounces)
2/3 cup packed light brown sugar (about 4 3/4 ounces)
3/4 teaspoon table salt
4 large eggs , room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup sour cream , room temperature

See Illustrations Below: Assembling the German Chocolate Cake

1. FOR THE FILLING: Whisk yolks in medium saucepan; gradually whisk in evaporated milk. Add sugars, butter, and salt and cook over medium-high heat, whisking constantly, until mixture is boiling, frothy, and slightly thickened, about 6 minutes. Transfer mixture to bowl, whisk in vanilla, then stir in coconut. Cool until just warm, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until cool or cold, at least 2 hours or up to 3 days. (Pecans are stirred in just before cake assembly.)
2. FOR THE CAKE: Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position; heat oven to 350 degrees. Combine chocolate and cocoa in small bowl; pour boiling water over and let stand to melt chocolate, about 2 minutes. Whisk until smooth; set aside until cooled to room temperature.
3. Meanwhile, spray two 9-inch-round by 2-inch-high straight-sided cake pans with nonstick cooking spray; line bottoms with parchment or waxed paper rounds. Spray paper rounds, dust pans with flour, and knock out excess. Sift flour and baking soda into medium bowl or onto sheet of parchment or waxed paper.
4. In bowl of standing mixer, beat butter, sugars, and salt at medium-low speed until sugar is moistened, about 30 seconds. Increase speed to medium-high and beat until mixture is light and fluffy, about 4 minutes, scraping down bowl with rubber spatula halfway through. With mixer running at medium speed, add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping down bowl halfway through. Beat in vanilla; increase speed to medium-high and beat until light and fluffy, about 45 seconds. With mixer running at low speed, add chocolate, then increase speed to medium and beat until combined, about 30 seconds, scraping down bowl once (batter may appear broken). With mixer running at low speed, add dry ingredients in 3 additions, alternating with sour cream (in 2 additions), beginning and ending with dry ingredients, and beating in each addition until barely combined. After final flour addition, beat on low until just combined, then stir batter by hand with rubber spatula, scraping bottom and sides of bowl, to ensure that batter is homogenous (batter will be thick). Divide batter evenly between prepared cake pans; spread batter to edges of pans with rubber spatula and smooth surfaces.
5. Bake cakes until toothpick inserted into center of cakes comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Cool in pans 10 minutes, then invert cakes onto greased wire rack; peel off and discard paper rounds. Cool cakes to room temperature before filling, about 1 hour. (Cooled cakes can be wrapped in plastic wrap and stored at room temperature for up to 1 day.)
6. TO ASSEMBLE: Stir toasted pecans into chilled filling. Set one cake on serving platter or cardboard round cut slightly smaller than cake, and second cake on work surface (or leave on wire rack). With serrated knife held so that blade is parallel with work surface, use sawing motion to cut each cake into two even layers. Starting with first cake, carefully lift off top layer and set aside. Using icing spatula, distribute about 1 cup filling evenly on cake, spreading filling to very edge of cake and leveling surface. Carefully place upper cake layer on top of filling; repeat using remaining filling and cake layers. If necessary, dust crumbs off platter; serve or refrigerate cake, covered loosely with foil, up to 4 hours (if refrigerated longer than 2 hours, let cake stand at room temperature 15 to 20 minutes before serving).

Labels: , , ,

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Gingery stir fry( cook's) and Cobbler( KA whole grain baking)

We had a great time in Niagara. Chels really enjoyed herself and so did we. I think Robin might have enjoyed herself a bit too much. On Thursday she started having really bad neck pain. By Friday night, she was in so much pain, she was in tears(poor thing). We ended up in the ER where they diagnosed her with Tortocollis. Litterally, a twisted neck. She might have jerked it or done something funky going down all those water slides. Anyway, they gave her an injection and when that didnt work, they gave her a few different pills. We left the ER at 2:30am and when we came home, she still couldnt get to sleep. She couldnt even lay down. I gave her my memory foam travel pillow so at least she could try to get some sleep. Yesterday was no better. It's Canada Day today and all our plans went out the door!! So, what did I do all day yesterday? I stayed home with her and cooked off course. Its been ages since I've been able to do that. In addition to making breakfast, lunch and dinner, I also made 2 different batches of strawberry jam. One with pectin, one without.( posts about that later). For dinner I made a stir fry from Cook's Illustrated. I used the ginger sauce recipe and modified it using firm tofu and shrimp. For dessert, I got a great deal on blueberries(1.77 a pint). I made a peach blueberry cobbler from the KA flour whole grain baking book. The recipe called for rolling out the biscuits, but I just dropped them on because by this point, I was exhausted. I'm not used to doing all the dishes when I cook!! I've come to the conclusion, that If I had to do dishes on a dialy basis, I wouldnt cook!!

Labels: , ,