Thursday, September 25, 2008

Let them eat. . .

Chocolate-Orange Cake

Monday, September 15, 2008

Cinnamon Biscuits

I had never even heard of making cinnamon rolls out of biscuit dough until recently, and apparently I was the very last person on Earth to find out about it. I clearly did not get the memo that this was being done in kitchens around the world, and has been for quite some time. But as if by some act of divine providence, this past week it seems that the whole world has been unable to stop talking about cinnamon biscuits, and so I finally received the message. I have more than one hundred fifty cook books, and have watched thousands of hours of cooking shows in my days, so it isn't all that often that I read or hear about something that I have never even heard of before. So, it goes without saying that the idea excited me, and I hopped on the band wagon full steam ahead, and without missing a beat I pulled out my pastry cutter, and whipped myself up a batch. I didn't follow a recipe, I mean, after all, I have made both biscuits and cinnamon rolls too many times to count, so really, how difficult could combining the two concepts be?

I started with my (ahem, award winning) biscuit recipe, cut the salt a bit, and substituted Bulgarian buttermilk for its lower fat American cousin. I patted the dough out thin and spread it with a standard mixture of butter, sugar, and cinnamon, and rolled it up and sliced it just as I would with any other cinnamon roll. The great thing about not using yeast is not having to wait for rising time, and very little kneading is required, so they mix up in a flash and can go directly into the oven. I baked them separately on a parchment lined baking sheet like I would for any biscuit or scone, and not together, grouped in a pan, as one might be tempted to do. Is there anything better than the smell of baking cinnamon rolls? I mean really? It is heaven. And of course, a cream cheese glaze never hurt anything.

The results of this experiment were quite good. The flavor was very little different than that of traditional cinnamon rolls. The texture was very scone like, almost cakey, and not feathery like its yeasty counterpart. Unlike the yeast based, these I thought were much better at room temperature (and day old) than they were hot out of the oven. (This isn't surprising to me, as my scones, I feel, are often better, in terms of texture, the following day. This makes them especially nice for entertaining, as they can be made in advance. Not unlike roasted or seared meats, I think scones and biscuits often require time to allow their internal moister to redistribute.)

All in all it was a success. Cinnamon Biscuits: as delicious as cinnamon rolls, without the prep time. Perfect for a special breakfast treat, anytime.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Asian Noodle Salad

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Cocktail Party: in 30 minutes or less

Chicken Satay with a Sesame Peanut Dipping Sauce

Grilled Shrimp with a Spicy Chimichurri

Dill-icious Dip

For my sister's birthday we decided to go low key and have a few friends over for cake and cocktails, but wanted to have a couple of nibbley things to munch on as well. It was already late in the afternoon, so I looked in the fridge and the pantry trying to come up with something to make. I pulled out some shrimp and boneless skinless chicken thighs from the freezer ('cause that's what we had on hand), and put the chicken in the microwave to defrost, and defrosted the shrimp in a colander in the sink under cold water. After pealing the shrimp, I whipped up a chimichurri (parsley, cilantro, lime juice, lime zest, garlic, cumin, olive oil, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper) in the blender and set it aside. I hadn't ever made Satay before this evening, and didn't really have a recipe, so I threw all caution to the wind and took my cleaned blender and tossed in some peanut butter, rice wine vinegar, toasted sesame oil, soy sauce, garlic, ginger, red pepper flakes, a little cilantro, a little sugar, salt and pepper, and blended. Yum! I took half of this mixture and poured it over my cut up chicken, and reserved the other half for dipping. I preheated my broiler, and my Cuisinart counter top grill, and in another ten minutes time I had two finished dishes ready for plating. Luckily for me we had some previously made Dill dip in the fridge, so I sliced up some bell peppers, and some of Brandy's home grown, garden fresh cucumbers, and voila! We shook up some pomegranate martinis, rimmed our glasses with sugar, and we were ready for a party.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Caution: Stiff Jam

I went to the fairgrounds to collect my ribbons yesterday, and received them all as expected. What I wasn't expecting, however, was that they would give me all of my cards, with some of the judges comments on the back of them. Writing on the back of the cards seems to be a judges prerogative, so some of them had comments and some of them didn't. But certainly all of it is good to know for the future.

My blueberry jam was not opened and disqualified because of "poor fill." (um, really? I don't even know what that means.) My apricot jam (which placed 3rd) was marked down as being "too stiff." (I mean haven't we all said at one point or another "gosh this jam is so delicious but it is SO STIFF I nearly broke my knife in half trying to get it out of the jar., I think I broke a tooth!" lol, I think that is hysterical.) In regards to my buttermilk biscuits (which placed 2nd) the judge commented "Tastes a little sweet. Nice color. A little on the big side." I personally think they have the perfect balance of salty and sweet, but to each his own. And having cut them with a standard sized biscuit cutter, size seems a strange thing to be marked down for, especially considering how small and disgusting the first place winner's biscuits looked at the fair (all crumbly, and gray), but you know, whatever. My rolls say "Nicely shaped. Perfectly brown. Very under baked." And having eaten the remainder of that batch myself, the rolls were no where near under baked, so don't even get me started on that one. Perhaps they enjoy a more crusty bread, that's fine. The BOC winning scones say simply "super moist. love the ingredients. perfectly browned." And the rest of the cards are blank.

I would have liked comments on the brownies too (the winning brownies had walnuts in them, which I don't include because of my being allergic to them, and I wonder if this played into mine not placing higher), but I will take what I can get. All of the feedback is good to know for the future. I think I will win next year's biscuits if I (begrudgingly) cut the sugar and the size a bit. And if only I could find a way to loosen up my cement jam. I think I will also be entering the gift basket and table setting competitions next year, just for fun (and because all of the entries this year were very sad looking and no where near award earning, so the playing field seems pretty clear for an easy win). And I will be entering many more items in the future. I will have that grand prize, so help me god, and I don't care how many old ladies I have to trample over to get to it!