Wednesday, December 9, 2009
Tuesday, November 3, 2009
Friday, October 30, 2009
Friday, September 11, 2009
Tuesday, September 8, 2009
Friday, August 28, 2009
So the results of the 2009 Oregon State Fair are in. . .
This year I entered/placed:
Blueberry Jam- 1st place
Lemon Pound Cake - 1st Place
Ginger Cookies - 2nd Place
Chocolate Hazelnut Biscotti - 2nd Place
Blueberry Lemon Scones - 3rd place (WTF???)
Buttermilk Biscuits - 3rd Place (WTF??? are you kidding me???)
Toasted Coconut Marshmallows - 3rd Place
Pecan Pie - 3rd Place (the crust was all messed up, so I feel lucky to have placed at all)
Mixed Nut Bars - Didn't Place at all (bwah?)
Banana Nut Muffins - Didn't Place at all (seriously, am I being punked???)
So, naturally, I feel embarrassed and humiliated, and just want to go spend the rest of the afternoon in bed. But I will be fine. What do they know anyway??? Ultimately I do wish some of them would have placed higher (namely the SCONES, biscuits, and mixed nut bars), but with the nearly ten thousand entries that the home arts division received this year, I guess it is still pretty flattering to have placed eight out of my ten entries.
Saturday, August 22, 2009
Yesterday we picked some Italian prune plums, and this morning I was inspired to whip up a little something with them. I decided on this simple upside down plum cake, a take on the classic apple tarte Tatin (named after the Tatin sisters who originally created the dish at their hotel in Lamotte-Beuvron, France in the late nineteenth century).
Thursday, August 20, 2009
Thursday, August 13, 2009
You'll remember the sage/thyme seven weeks ago:
And look at them now...all grown up (wipes tear from eye):
Saturday, July 25, 2009
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
On those nights when we need dinner in a flash, and it seems that we have no food in the house, I can always turn to this simple, rich, delicious stand by (as I typically always have these ingredients on hand, whether in the pantry, fridge, or freezer). It cooks up in a matter of minutes, and, while delicious on its own, it can be made a million different ways. Throw in some mushrooms, or chicken, or shrimp... whatever you have on hand, and dinner is on the table in no time.
6 slices of bacon, cut into 1/4 inch strips
1 pound of pasta (spaghetti, linguine, fettuccine, vermicelli, and bucatini are all good choices, but really any pasta will work)
Heavy cream (or half 'n half, or whole milk...whatever you have on hand)
1 cup grated Parmesan
Freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon crushed garlic
Dash of chipotle powder
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
Chopped fresh Parsley (optional)
Bring a large pot of well salted water to a boil over medium heat.
Add about 2 tablespoons olive oil to a large skillet over medium heat. Add the bacon and cook until it starts to color and become crisp. Turn off the heat and set aside.
Drop the pasta into the salted boiling water and cook it 1 minute less than whatever it says on the package. Bite the pasta to check the consistency.
While the pasta is cooking, crack the eggs into a large mixing bowl. Add the Parmesan, a splash of cream, the garlic, nutmeg, chipotle powder, and season with salt (keeping in mind that the cheese and bacon are both salty). Whisk vigorously until it becomes a homogeneous mixture. Season generously with black pepper (like a lot... as black pepper is a key flavor in classic carbonara) .
When the pasta is just about done, return the pan with the bacon to medium heat. Strain the pasta (reserving a cup of the coking water). Toss or stir the pasta into the bacon to coat the pasta with the remaining fat in the skillet. Vigorously stir the egg mixture into the pasta. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes, stirring constantly until the egg mixture thickens and looks like a cream sauce, adding some of the cooking liquid if it becomes too thick. Toss in a handful of chopped parsley, and serve with a little extra sprinkling of Parmesan cheese.
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
We intend on going back next week, right around the peak of the season to hand pluck some more with which to fill up our freezer. I braved the heat today, and stood over the stove stirring my cauldron of bubbling blueberry sugar, and was able to get through several batches of Blueberry Jam (my first batch of jam this year). So it officially feels like summer.
Hooray for jam!
Saturday, July 11, 2009
1 cup milk
1/4 pound butter
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup cold heavy cream
1/4 cup whipped cream cheese, at room temperature
1/4 cup confectioners' sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste (or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract and the seeds from half of a vanilla bean)
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
Heat the milk and butter over medium heat until scalded. When the butter is melted, add the flour all at once and beat it with a wooden spoon until the mixture comes together and forms a dough (it will look essentially like mashed potatoes). Cook, stirring constantly, over low heat for 2-3 minutes, until the flour begins to coat the bottom of the pan. Dump the hot mixture into the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Add the eggs and pulse until the eggs are incorporated into the dough and the mixture is thick.
Spoon the mixture into a pastry bag fitted with a large plain round tip. Pipe one inch mounds onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. You should have about 35 puffs. With a wet finger, lightly press down the swirl at the top of each puff (so it won't burn during baking). Bake for 20 minutes, or until lightly browned, then turn off the oven and allow them to sit for another 10 minutes, until they sound hollow when tapped on the bottom. Make a small slit in the bottom of each puff to allow the steam to escape, and cool upside down on a cooling rack.
Meanwhile, whip the heavy cream and cream cheese in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment on high speed until soft peaks form, add the sugar and vanilla, and continue beating on high until the mixture is stiff, but not dry. Spoon the cream mixture into a pastry bag fitted with a small star tip, and fill the cooled puffs, using the steam vent you created on the bottom. Refrigerate the puffs until you are ready to serve. Sprinkle with confectioners sugar, and enjoy!
Wednesday, July 8, 2009
Here is my simple and fool proof method for cooking delicious, tender, fall off the bone ribs at home. Smoky, spicy, sticky, and sweet, these mahogany beauties will be sure to wow all of your guests at your next back yard barbecue. The recipe is very simple (in a very semi-homemade sort of way) with lots of help from the store, for which I offer no apologies.
4 racks of Pork Spareribs
3 packets of a BBQ Marinade (I use McCormick Grill Mate Mesquite)
2 cans/bottles of beer
1 cup apple juice
2 Tablespoons minced fresh garlic
Your favorite bottled BBQ Sauce
1 Tablespoon Pure Maple Syrup
1 Tablespoon Chili Powder
1 Tablespoon Pimenton (Spanish, smoked Paprika)
a healthy dash of Chipotle Chili Powder
1 Tablespoon Apple Cider Vinegar
In a large roasting pan with the rack removed, combine the beer, apple juice, marinade packets, garlic, and 1/3 cup bbq sauce. Add the ribs, turning to coat each rack in the liquid. Cover with aluminum foil, and marinate in the refrigerator over night or for up to three days, turning periodically to ensure even marination.
Preheat the oven to 250 degrees. Remove ribs from the roasting pan, replace the roasting rack (leaving the marinating liquid in the bottom of the pan), and arrange the ribs on the rack in an even layer. Tent with aluminum foil, and bake for 10 to 12 hours, removing the foil half way through cooking, and basting with the pan juices every hour or so.
Meanwhile, combine 2-3 cups of bbq sauce, a splash of liquid smoke, a dollop of dijon mustard, the vinegar, maple syrup, chili powder, pimenton, and chipotle powder, and set aside.
Preheat your outside grill to medium-low heat (whether using gas or charcoal). Place baked rib racks onto the heated grill and slather with the doctored bbq sauce on both sides repeatedly, turning three or four times, for about 25-30 minutes, or until the ribs are nicely caramelized, and the sauce is thick and sticky. Remove from the grill, allow the meat to rest for 10 minutes, slice, and enjoy!
Friday, July 3, 2009
10 graham crackers (usually about one package)
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup sliced almonds
6 tablespoons butter, melted
6 egg yolks
1/4 cup sugar
1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
2 tablespoons grated lime zest
3/4 cup freshly squeezed key lime juice (or you can substitute regular lime juice if you cannot find key limes)nocoupons
1 cup cold heavy cream
1/4 cup confectioners' sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Thin lime slices/wedges
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
For the crust, combine the graham crackers, sugar, and almonds in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until you have fine crumbs. Drizzle in the melted butter, and process until it comes together. Press into a 9-inch pie pan. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the crust is fragrant and golden brown. Set aside, and allow to cool completely.
For the filling, beat the egg yolks and sugar on high speed in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment for 5 minutes, until very thick. With the mixer on medium speed, add the condensed milk, lime zest, and lime juice. Pour into the baked pie shell and freeze.
For the decoration, beat the heavy cream on high speed in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment until soft peaks form. Add the sugar and vanilla and beat until firm. Spoon or pipe decoratively onto the pie and decorate with lime. Freeze for several hours or overnight.
Tuesday, June 30, 2009
Crisp on the outside, chewy on the inside, the spices in these cookies kind of hit you in waves, none overpowering the others, with a distinct, almost smoky hit of molasses, and then it finishes off with the slightest heat from the chunks of crystallized ginger. And the way the house smells when they are baking. . .sigh. . .I am telling you, they will make you sass yo mama!
[Long ago in a land far far away, a dear (and beautiful) friend of mine and I used to make tea and socialize every week. All these many years later, how I long to return to that simpler time, there with her, sipping tea on the couch. I took this picture today as my "Tea for Tuesday" cyber shout out tribute to her. Cheers!]
Sunday, June 28, 2009
We picked (which is to say stole) rainier cherries from an industrial complex, and took a languid stroll down by the train tracks collecting bouquets of wild daisies, California poppies, and the ubiquitous sweet pea, and checking on some wild Italian prune plums, which are not quite ripe yet. It was perfectly charming, very little house on the prairie (you know, if they were to have had an urban agricultural crime special).
We topped off our day, with a delicious dinner of spicy panang and massaman Thai curry, and by watching Revolutionary Road. Toward the end of the movie we started smelling smoke, and looked out our back windows to see huge plumes of smoke, and realized with equal parts horror and fascination that a house just around the corner was on fire. We gathered with the rest of our neighborhood onlookers, and commiserated over the tragedy of the situation. Fire is scary. Period. It was good to know, however, that there was swift response from both our little community and the emergency personnel. It is nice to see that even in this disconnected world that we live in, that neighbors, whom you may not even know, are still looking out for one another. And in that strange kind of boy are we thankful for all that we have sort of way it was the perfect end to an essentially perfect Sunday.
4 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/3 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
2 cups buttermilk
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
Lightly beat the eggs with the buttermilk, milk and melted butter.
Just before you are ready to make the pancakes, add the liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients all at once, stirring just long enough to blend (the batter should be slightly lumpy).
Pour 1/3-1/2 cup of the batter onto a hot buttered griddle (over medium heat, or heated to 375 degrees if using an electric griddle), and sprinkle with sliced bananas.
When bubbles appear on the surface of the pancakes, they just begin to burst, and the undersides are lightly browned, turn and cook for about 2 minutes longer, until lightly browned on the bottom.
Serve immediately with extra sliced bananas, a sprinkling of powdered sugar, and pure maple syrup (grade A dark or medium amber).
Friday, June 26, 2009
2 bottles red wine (two buck chuck is perfectly acceptable)
1 cup sugar (or to taste)
approximately 1/2 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
the juice of one lemon
the juice of two oranges
one lemon sliced
one lime sliced
one orange sliced
approximately 4 cups of Squirt, chilled
Combine the wine, sugar, and citrus juices in a pitcher, and stir to dissolve the sugar. Add the sliced fruit, and chill. Add the Squirt right before serving, to add a little bit of fizz.
(You can kick up the party even further by adding a healthy splash of brandy, Cointreau, or lemon flavored vodka)