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Not As Good As Pork Cracklins

misadventures in cooking

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Creamy Shellfish Chowder

It was in the upper 30's this morning, perfect for making soups and stews. But by afternoon it was in the upper 70's. Not bad for the last day of January, so I'm not complaining.

Regardless of the weather, I had planned to have this chowder for dinner. It's filled with clams, shrimp and scallops, in a base of leeks and cream. It was deliciously rich and perfectly seasoned. The biscuits were excellent, too. I would definitely make them again. An all-round yummy dinner.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Pan-Fried Potatoes

My dad made pan-fried potatoes when I was growing up. His are the BEST! I'm really glad Sheri made this recipe, because for some reason, I think I would have over-looked it. The recipe says to use smoked Spanish paprika if you have it, which I do and I love. And the potatoes got a yummy crust on them. I still thought they were missing something though. I added more salt and that didn't quite do it. I'm not sure what they needed, but I liked them anyway.

This is the second time I've made this chicken recipe. I like it better than the Fine Cooking recipe for Chicken Under a Brick because it's brined instead of marinated. I thought the FC marinade was too oily. I did alter Ms. Immer's recipe a little this time. I used sage instead of oregano (although I really did like the oregano, I had a craving for sage), I heated my pan on the cooktop before I put it in the oven, and I used bricks this time, like I did in this picture. It turned out really well. Isn't that skin beautiful?

Apple Walnut Crostatas

A while back, Anna mentioned a book that intrigued me. Small Batch Baking by Debby Maugans Nakos is geared toward people who are baking for one to three people, which sounded perfect for me. There are recipes for small cakes, 6 or 8 cookies at a time, a couple of biscuits or muffins, and so on.

I have several recipes marked to try, but started with Apple Walnut Crostatas. Last summer, I made a similar Rustic Fruit Tart using a Fine Cooking recipe and Gary & I both loved it. I'm not going to pretend that I like this walnut crust as much as I like the Fine Cooking crust, but it's definitely not bad!

Besides, having two darling little six-inch tarts in my kitchen makes me happy.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Common Cold Remedy

Andrea tagged me with food blog meme: What is your Common Cold Remedy, especially as it relates to food?

I grew up in Georgia, but have lived in Texas for nearly 20 years. Ten or 15 years ago, I made a long road trip home for a visit, and at some point I developed a nasty cough. I couldn't sleep at night. I would fall asleep, then wake myself and the rest of the house with cough spasms that would not stop.

My dad put a little tumbler of peach schnapps on my bedside table and told me to sip on it. At first it tasted hot and alcoholic, but much better than any cough syrup I ever got as a kid. It tasted better and better the more I sipped. I fell asleep and slept through the night.

I have since discovered (in the name of scientific research) that it is also perfect for soothing a sore throat. I won't tell if you try this even if you don't have either a cold, cough or a sore throat.

Kevin, Anna, Sweetnicks, TAG, you're all it.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Carrot Apple Muffins

I've always liked carrot cake (especially when Sheri lets me eat it for breakfast in bed!) and I've always liked bran muffins. So when I saw this recipe over at Beyond Salmon, it sounded like a good one for me to try.

The recipe on the back of the package of Bob's Red Mill flaxseed meal says unbleached white flour, but I noticed that the recipe on their website calls for whole wheat pastry flour. I didn't see that until after I made them, so I used white. I don't have ww pastry flour anyway.

The flaxseed meal is the main fat (other than eggs and milk) in the recipe. Grated apple, grated carrots, and oat bran are all in there too, so I'd say these are a very healthy snack, in addition to being very good. I would definitely make them again. I bet Kelly would love them.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

No-Bake Chocolate Custard

I tore this out of the most recent issue of Food & Wine. I don't tear out of Fine Cooking, but I got tired of saving Food & Wine magazines that I like to read but rarely cook from. So now if I see something in there that I want to make, I rip it out. Ouch.

One thing that appealed to me about this recipe is that it's super easy and only makes 2 servings, which is nice when you don't want a lot of leftover sweets lying around the house. Since it doesn't make much, I could also splurge on ingredients, like Valrhona extra bitter (66%). At $14.99 it's not on my everyday grocery list. But I only need 3 ounces and it's nice being able to buy exactly the amount I need from the bulk department at Central Market.

The recipe suggests chilling the custards briefly. If you chill them longer, they firm up substantially. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but if you want a softer, more pudding texture, take them out of the refrigerator to come closer to room temperature before you eat them.

No-Bake Chocolate Custard
Food & Wine, February 2006

1/4 cup milk
3 T. sugar
1 large egg yolk
3 oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped, plus shaved chocolate for serving
pinch of salt
2 T. unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup heavy cream
pinch of ground cinnamon

In a small saucepan, combine the milk and 2 T. of the sugar. Heat until steaming and the sugar has dissolved. Put the egg yolk in a small bowl and gradually whisk in the hot milk. Return the mixture to the saucepan and cook over moderate heat, whisking constantly, until slightly thickened, about 2 minutes.

Off the heat, add the chopped chocolate and salt. Whisk until smooth. Whisk in the butter. Pour the custard into 2 shallow bowls and refrigerate briefly, about 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, beat the heavy cream with the cinnamon and the remaining 1 T. of sugar until softly whipped. Dollop the cream on the custards, sprinkle the chocolate shavings on the cream and serve.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Too Much Information

Anna tagged me for a Too Much Information meme, so today you're getting ten weird and random facts about me. The rules say they don't have to be food related, but this is my food blog, so mine are.

  • I quit eating french fries a year or two ago. I don't miss them. Occasionally I snag one off of someone else's tray or plate and as soon as I pop it into my mouth, I think, "This doesn't even taste good."

  • I still eat fast food. I especially love cheeseburgers.

  • On our first date, Gary took me to Mama Mia's for pasta and promised we wouldn't order a bottle of wine. I think we each drank a glass, though. He took me home early and surprised me the next morning by being at the finish line of my race, with warm dry clothes. Then he took me to Kerby Lane for breakfast.

  • When I eat breakfast at a restaurant, I like to share. Ideally, I like half of some kind of disguised eggs (like migas or an omelette), followed by half of a breakfast "dessert", like a pancake. It's hard to order when I don't have someone to trade half of each with.

  • I think chocolate is over-rated. Hear me out! I like good dark chocolate, and I like desserts made with good dark chocolate. But if there are a variety of flavors of something, I know people who will choose the chocolate flavored one, just because it's called chocolate. I don't get the whole "chocolate flavored" thing because it doesn't usually taste like chocolate to me at all.

  • My favorite flavor of Carb-Boom is apple cinnamon. Or is it banana peach? Then again, I first got hooked on vanilla orange, so maybe that's my sentimental favorite.

  • I miss hanging out at Z-Tejas on Friday nights. I like routines and that was a good one.

  • Eating in the bed feels luxurious to me. Sunday, I spent all evening in the bed. I watched my new Lewis and Clark dvd, and I ate mahogany beef stew, cornbread, and chocolate truffles and drank zinfandel.

  • Occasionally, I bring a breakfast snack to bed with the Sunday newspaper. Then Gary calls me The Crummy Wife (or is it 'crumby'?).

  • When I bake, I'm The Powdery Wife. I tend to get flour all over myself. Sometimes I wipe my hands on purpose, just so he'll call me The Powdery Wife.
I'm tagging Sheri, Katie, Kay, Mare, and Dividend. You go, girls. Doesn't have to be food-related, but post ten weird and random facts about yourself. At the end, list the names of the five people you are tagging.

Basic Bread

Today I used Pam Anderson's "Master Recipe for Basic Bread" from the 1992 charter issue of Cook's Illustrated. (Hint: if you are searching for a link about this very famous cookbook author so that you can add it to your blog, don't simply type "Pam Anderson" into Google. The first 4,920,000 Pam Andersons you'll get back are the wrong one.)

Oh wow. For such an easy bread, it's really good! I'd like to make it again, substituting a little bit of whole wheat flour from some of the bread flour, as described in the recipe sidebar. I'll work on my slashing technique, too. But all in all, I'm quite pleased with myself today.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Cinnamon Raisin Bread

This is the fourth recipe I've tried from The Bread Baker's Apprentice. The picture in the book is so pretty, and I've always loved cinnamon raisin bread, that it's been on my to-do list for several months.

The last time I made Multigrain Bread Extraordinaire, I decided to use the KitchenAid to do most of the kneading and then the last few minutes by hand. I think it kept me from adding too much flour and makes the bread lighter, less doughy, and more airy. I decided to try that again. The dough was beautiful! I kneaded in the raisins by hand and the dough felt silky and wonderful.

I think the hardest thing about baking bread is following the part of the directions that says either "Cool one hour, preferably 2", or worse, "Cool completely" before slicing or serving. Poop. Where's the fun in that?

Personally, I think that if the recipe makes two loaves, a reasonable compromise would be to cut into one immediately, and cool the other one as directed.


Saturday, January 07, 2006

Domino Cookies

Gary's bridge party has evolved to games in addition to bridge. The host chooses. I usually help him with food. He requested beef stew, which was a nice pick because I can do it the day before, it's better the next day anyway, and for the party I can just put it in the crockpot so that they can eat when they're ready. Dessert was my idea though.

I clipped this little "recipe" out of Southern Living who knows when. It's actually on their website, but you have to sign it to get to it. Anyway, I saved it for a while, knowing it would be perfect for one of Gary's game nights and that everyone would think they were darling. I enlisted Gary's help (it's his party after all!) because he's better at meticulous type things and because he's a good problem-solver/solution guy. It was his idea to use mini-chocolate chips and he was right!

Cute, cute, CUTE!

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Roasted Broccoli

I usually steam broccoli, and Gary and I both like it, but I'll admit that it's sort of ho-hum. I've roasted cauliflower before, but this is the first time I've roasted broccoli. I'd use less olive oil than the recipe recommends. And I'm not sure how much the cheese added, but it doesn't matter because it was very good, it's just that I'd be willing to try it without it. I'd also be willing to try a couple of other broccoli recipes in the same article.

The chicken is a multiple repeat. I debated whether we even needed bread, because the chicken is floured, but I thought it would be nice to have something to soak up the yummy sauce. For some reason, the ciabatta wasn't quite as open and airy as last time, but I still love it.

  • Roasted Broccoli with Lemon and Pecorino (Fine Cooking #76, p.49)
  • Chicken Marsala with Pancetta & Cream (Fine Cooking #42, p.90)
  • Ciabatta (No Need To Knead, p.49-51)

Monday, January 02, 2006

Reminder- Open That Bottle Night

This year's Open That Bottle Night will be Saturday, February 25. Last year, Gary and I shared OTBN with our friends Dave & Beth and we hope to get together with them again.

What is OTBN? In 1999, Dottie Gaiter and John Brecher (who write the Wall Street Journal's wine column) began a tradition. The idea is that many people, whether they are regular wine drinkers or not, have a special bottle that they've been saving. And saving and saving and saving. And the longer they save it, the harder it is to find an occasion special enough to merit opening the bottle.

Now, each year Dottie and John (ha, I'm on a first name basis, as if I know them) specify a date. People around the country, and even around the world, open a bottle. Some people make a special meal. Some people get together with special people. Sometimes the wine is wonderful, sometimes not.

Mark your calendar, Saturday February 25, 2006, and start looking through your wine.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Bread Pudding

The best thing to do with leftover stale baguette is to make bread pudding. Thank goodness I had cream and eggs. And part of a bottle of Wild Turkey that Gary has had for who knows how long. Fabulous.

As I was making the bread pudding, I had a craving for jambalaya. Soon.

  • Bread Pudding with Bourbon Sauce (Fine Cooking #19, p.43)