.comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

Not As Good As Pork Cracklins

misadventures in cooking

Wednesday, April 29, 2009


There are lots of ways to incubate yogurt at home, and this recipe by Harold McGee (author of On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen) has to be one of the easiest.

Maybe I'm hungry, or calcium deficient, or just a pig, but I could slurp up vast quantities of this. It's not too tart to eat plain, but it's also delicious with a little swirl of maple syrup, honey, or homemade lemon-ginger marmalade. I know, because I've already tried each of the aforementioned combinations.

Sunday, April 26, 2009


Last week, I ran a personal best at the Boston Marathon -- 3:29:38, six minutes faster than my previous fastest marathon -- and two days later my birthday made me the youngest in a new age division (45-49). Clearly, a celebration was in order.

Special occasions and special friends deserve special food. One of my dearest friends, and the one who's been instrumental in my recent running successes, has a fond memory of vol-au-vents, special occasion food indeed.

As luck would have it, I've been collecting a series of books, The Good Cook: Techniques & Recipes that were published by Time Life in the late 1970's. They were edited by Richard Olney and include detailed instructions and classic recipes. Some of the books are relatively easy to come by on Amazon or Ebay. Others are pricey and difficult to find. I currently own fifteen of them. On the cover of Hors d'Oeuvre happens to be a picture of vol-au-vents, and inside there's a step-by-step tutorial.

If something is worth doing, it's worth doing right. Right? Because you know, just buying empty puff pastry shells in the frozen section of the supermarket would be a hellavalot easier. Let's just say that mine came out looking "charmingly homemade".

Monday, April 13, 2009

Double-Ginger Sour Cream Bundt Cake

Attract me, till it hurts to concentrate,
Distract me, stop me doin work I hate...

Double-Ginger Sour Cream Bundt Cake, by Abigail Johnson Dodge

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Seeded Multigrain

This is the third of three recipes I had planned to test before buying Kneadlessly Simple. I mixed it yesterday afternoon. (Have I mentioned how much I love my heavy-duty dough whisk? why yes, I think I have.) The dough then sat in a covered container on the countertop, to slowly rise for 12-18 hours.

My original plan had been to start its 2nd rise after my workout this morning. But it's storming and my friend sent a note "I'm inclined to bail. You?" Grrr...

I'm flexible, right? I'll bake.

First I needed to make a final decision about which Dutch (French!) oven to use. I have a couple of smalls and I have a couple of larges. I need medium. I considered splitting the dough into smalls. I didn't want to. I vacillated. I coveted Corey's oval one. I decided to use my gorgeous red 7-quart le Creuset. I oiled and floured it and put the dough in. Only to change my mind. Again. I got out an oval ceramic casserole, oiled and floured it, and moved the dough. I decided there was no way it was going to be big enough. I decided the lid wasn't going to be tight enough. I decided that I don't have good decision-making capabilities that early in the morning.

Whatever. It was on its second rise. Which (of course!) is when the rain stopped and I wished my original workout plans were still on. But by then I was committed to the damn bread.

Oh! I used my new Thermapen. LOVE it! I will go out on a limb now, and contradict Nancy Baggett (heresy!): In my opinion, her breads need to bake to a higher temperature than she states in the recipes. For this particular loaf, the directions say "until an instant read thermometer registers 204-206 degrees". However, at 207 it was was still wet in the middle. I had the same issue with the Cheddar & Chile Bread. My recommendation is to let it go until 210. If it starts to brown too much, tent it with foil.

The verdict? Great crust! Excellent nutty aroma and flavor. All around quite good.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Small Batch One Bowl Mocha Truffle Cookies

Strange what desire will make foolish people do. Here's an example of the sort of trouble one gets into when one does something one shouldn't be doing. But the power of suggestion is strong: "What are you doing today?" and then, when I didn't answer quickly enough, "Working? Baking?"

Although I had other things to get done, idea of baking had been planted in my head. Then Anna posted a recipe that 1) is small batch, 2) requires only one bowl, and 3) she tagged "exceptional". Suddenly the urge to bake overtook me.

I am a compulsive taster of raw batter, and while the cookies were in the oven, I licked the bowl. I can safely report that the batter is delicious.

Unfortunately, I didn't have a good grip on my tea towel when I pulled the pan out of the oven. I'd love to be able to tell you that my kitchen floor is clean enough to eat off of. It isn't. Not today, anyway.

Fortunately, I didn't drop eleven of the sixteen. For unrelated reasons, I'll hold off on a eating a baked cookie and get back to you on that.

Small Batch One Bowl Mocha Truffle Cookies

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Lemon Bundt Cake

Some things make me smile out loud. Lemon-y things, for example.

Lemon Bundt Cake, Cook's Illustrated, January & February 2006

Friday, April 03, 2009


A couple of weeks ago, Jess and I exchanged emails about her new perforated baguette pan, and the fact that I owned one that I had never, ever, ever used. I very much want a homemade baguette for a special occasion coming up soon, so I figured I should get on it and practice.