Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Our wish for our friends

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Your attention please.........

The PBE ladies are going to take a break for a few weeks, not that we haven't done that already...............sorry bout that!!!

It seems that lil' bird is so busy with work also her and her sweet bunky are readying up to attend the Inauguration in January.....how cool is that.

My sweet sister Moon is now our resident juror being called up to perform her civic duty one more time as well as getting ready for the Christmas celebration that is just around the corner.

And me well, my sweet hunky husband and I are managing a Christmas tree lot and right now I do not have a moment to eat let alone cook!!!

So please forgive us for not holding up our PBE duties. If in fact that we do get a chance to cook something or even share a tid bit we'll pass it along.

As I always say.............stay tuna'd!!!

Friday, November 28, 2008

The movable feast

Thanksgiving is a universal, one size fits all, no present required, small effort holiday. What is not to love about that! For our family it's also a movable feast. To accommodate the odd schedules we shift it around a bit and this year it landed the Saturday before the traditional date. This works on a number of levels. No crowds at the market before the event. All the store are stocked with all the appropriate items and they are super fresh. Why not?

We had three together to cook the day before; a great idea. Doodles, step-mom Mary, and myself chopped and mixed and baked up a storm leaving the turkey for the actual day. You must have that wonderful roast turkey smell awaiting the guests. Our guests this year were Pat and Frank, Mary's sister and brother-in-law. We must do the prep early as it is our tradition to drink Mimosas on Thanksgiving.

This year we had the traditional Thanksgiving fare. A wonderful fresh Foster Farms turkey from Costco. It was the tastiest bird I've had in a long while. Sometimes the turkey can taste something like a big chicken but this bird had flavor. We didn't brine it because I sort of ran out of energy but you would have thought we did. It was so juicy even the wings were tender.

Everyone has their own favorite way to roast a turkey and I give it a blast of high heat for about fifteen minutes, then cover the breast with heavy foil and reduce the heat to 325 for a good long time. The last thirty to forty minutes I remove the foil to crisp up the skin. The thighs get done without the breast drying out and it was amazing. Also, don't try this without a meat thermometer and let it rest a good thirty minutes before carving. Don't forget it give it a nice foil blanky to keep it warm. If in doubt, go to the Butterball Turkey website. It has all sorts of tips and roasting times.

Not anything new except a wonderful cranberry relish from lil bird. Maybe she'll share that recipe. I will put a link to our must have broccoli casserole.

Oh, and Christmas this year, a day or two after. Like I said, "It's the people, not the day."

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Chicken with Sherry

Most of my meal planning, unless I'm doing a dinner party, is done at an open refrigerator. What do you have for me today? This week I had a couple of chicken breasts, some crimini mushrooms and the normal stuff in the cupboard.

Mushrooms: left the small ones whole and quartered the larger ones. Sauteed them in butter and olive oil, some salt and pepper and at the last 30 seconds tossed in a few cloves of chopped garlic. Damn, that smells good. Removed to a dish.

Chicken breast: sliced them across the grain and flattened the slices. Dredged these in seasoned flour and sauteed in mushroom pan with a bit more olive oil; quickly removing when each was lightly browned.

Cooked some linguine in boiling water until just cooked; drained. Always save a bit of the pasta water. Some restaurants call that "profit."

Finish: deglazed the pan with a bit of chicken broth, added chicken and mushrooms back to pan along with 1/4 cup of creme fraiche, fresh chopped thyme and a good splash of Spanish Sherry. This simmered for a few minutes to blend the flavors. To this add the hot, drained linguine and a bit of the pasta water if the sauce needs thinning.

Serving: into the hot dish I tossed about a half cup of grated Parmesan and topped with chopped fresh Italian parsley and a bit of salt.

I love these flavors together. Chicken, thyme, garlic and sherry. The creme fraiche just makes the sauce milder and very rich. Dredging the chicken in flour adds a bit of thickness to the sauce as well. This dish is loaded with flavors and it is easy to overlook the salt. I feel you really must taste before serving because salt seems to tie all the flavors together.

Question: Do you plan your meals? If so, how far ahead?

Sunday, October 19, 2008


Philippe's pork french dip
Originally uploaded by lornababy
sorry for the blurry photo, but this was taken with the ol' cel phone camera. this is a philippe's the original pork french dip sandwich with their spicy mustard. oh yum. philippe's claims to have created the french dip sandwich. they celebrated their 100th anniversary this month with 10 cent sandwiches and the line was around the block.

Friday, October 17, 2008

My Chile Verde

What you don't see in this photo is the warm tortillas and the bottle of Corona.

I happened to get my Cooking Light magazine about the same time I was given the green chiles I have been raving about in previous posts.

The recipe featured fresh roasted Anaheim chiles, which are moderately spicy. Spike it with hot sauce, if you like more fire.

I might also say that there are many, many variations of this dish........I just found this recipe quite nice.


6 servings (serving size: about 1 cup)


  • 12 Anaheim chiles, halved and seeded (about 1 1/2 pounds) I used the much raved about Denver chiles
  • Cooking spray
  • 2 cups chopped onion (about 2 medium)
  • 1 1/4 pounds boneless pork loin, cut into 3/4-inch pieces
  • 2 garlic clove, minced
  • 2 cups fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 (15.5-ounce) can white hominy, drained and rinsed


1. Preheat broiler or use your BBQ

2. Place chiles on a foil-lined baking sheet; broil 8 minutes or until blackened, turning after 4 minutes. Peel and chop.

3. Heat a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add onion, pork, and garlic to pan; sauté minutes or until pork is browned. Add chopped chiles, chicken broth, oregano, and salt; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 1 hour or until pork is tender. Stir in hominy; cook 10 minutes or until thoroughly heated.

Nutritional Information............Calories: 243 (28% from fat) Fat: 7.5g (sat 2.6g,mono 3.3g,poly 0.9g)Protein: 24.8g Carbohydrate: 20gFiber: 3.3g Cholesterol: 56mg Iron: 2.4mg Sodium: 389mg Calcium: 51mg

Sunday, October 12, 2008

clam chowda

i'm not emeril's biggest fan, he's a bit overdramatic for me. case in point, he calls this dish "clam chowder of love." that being said, this soup is so good i have to make up a word, it is fantabulous. probably the best chowder i've ever had. the leeks and the bacon totally make this dish, giving it layers of flavor. it's definitely not low fat, but it tastes sooo good. you could probably make it with half and half or even milk, but why?

here are the ingredients...

clam chowda
  • 1/2 pound bacon, medium dice
  • 1 cup chopped leeks (about 1 pound)
  • 1 cup chopped yellow onions
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 1 cup chopped carrots, peeled
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 pound white potatoes, peeled and medium diced
  • 4 cups clam juice (i used 5)
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 2 pounds littleneck clams, shucked, chopped (i used 3 cans of chopped clams and drained the juice to make up the clam juice - could've used 4 cans)
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
and the steps...

In a heavy stock pot, over medium-high heat, render the bacon until crispy, about 8 minutes.

clam chowda

Stir in the leeks, onions, celery, and carrots. Saute for about 2 minutes or until the vegetables start to wilt.

clam chowda

Season the vegetables with salt and pepper. Add the bay leaves and thyme. Stir in the flour and cook for 2 minutes. Add the potatoes.

clam chowda

Stir in the clam juice. Bring the liquid up to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Simmer the mixture until the potatoes are fork tender, about 12 minutes.

clam chowda

Add the cream and bring up to simmer. Add the clams and simmer for 2 minutes. Stir in the parsley. Season with salt and pepper if needed.

clam chowda


clam chowda

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Baby washing; complete

It seems like we've given up on PBE but we are not quitters we're just distracted by a few goings on. Doodles and the Gypsy Caravan are on the move, lil bird is bogged down with work responsibilities and myself, well Moon's just being Moon. We can't blame any of our usual readers if they've drifted off but we will make more of an effort to continue, at least through the tough times.

Some of my time was spent getting ready for a small twenty person reception after the Christening of our little Princess. I received much help from sister Doodles and daughter lil bird. I know it would not have been a success without them.

Doodles and I had great fun planning the menu and I have to say all of the food was a big hit. Some was bought pre-made, others we made ourselves. The menu was Asian, as per the request of the parents of the princess. Both Doodles and myself were a bit dumbfounded when one item stood out above the rest, Radish with Garlic Ginger Cream Cheese. People could not stay away from them.

Here's how we developed the recipe. I had an extra package of cream cheese, we had loads of garlic, ginger, and chives, and we found a way to transport all of this to a mouth; the radish. We literaly needed something else cold and started adding flavors. Our first choice was daikon but it lacked the color and punch.

To 8 oz of softened cream cheese add:
  • about 1 tablespoon each of grated ginger and pressed garlic
  • a bit of milk to loosen the cheese
  • pinch of salt
  • few tablespoons of minced chives
All of the above is to taste but we made it strong to balance the radish.

Slice large radishes in thirds, small ones in half and dry. Pipe cream cheese on top and serve immediately. I made the cheese mixture the day before and put it in the piping bag already to go the next day. Doodles dried the radish and piped them on the serving plate. Very efficient. Like I said, easy and everyone was popping these little gems like crazy.
Asian Meatballs with Hoisin sauce
Shrimp Tempura (pre-made from Costco)
Chicken Teriyaki (pre-made from Costco)
Pineapple sausage (Costco)
Chinese chicken salad
Pork pot stickers dipping sauce (Trader Joes)
Wings with lime dipping sauce
Tofu satay with p-nut sauce
Radish with spiced cream cheese
Fresh pineapple and strawberries skewers

Red Velvet cupcakes with cream cheese frosting

Banana orange punch

I will get some additional photos and recipes up in the coming days; oh sure, how about weeks that sounds more like me.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Denver Green Chiles

never heard of them???...........neither had I, until a local farmer bring me some the other day.

Right now Mr Doodles and I are residing in South West Colorado.......read about that here if you care to.

A few weeks ago this fellow came in on his way back to his farm to talk about storing his boat on property here at the RV park
for the winter. I happened to be reading a cooking magazine at the time. "Ya like to cook"? he says.........ha I sure do and am always looking for local foods to use. "Do you ever cook with chiles"? O you betcha I do!!! "Well I grow chiles on a little plot of land on my farm they are called Denver green chiles and they taste a lot like New Mexico Hatch chiles. I will be roasting some around the beginning of September and I'll bring you some". Now when someone says that I'm always a tad skeptical.....BUT.......two days ago this fellow, my new best friend, walked in with TEN pounds of these magnificent chiles. My teeny brain just started spinning for recipes immediately thought of green chile quesadillas and chile verde......oh my word!!!!!!!! Now I googled freezing chiles.......don't ya just love Google, any way I found a site that tells how to prepare chiles for freezing. Unfortunately fresh roasted chiles cannot be kept in the fridge for more that a few days because they will mold. So sister moon and niece lil' bird will be getting some fresh frozen chiles when I arrive soon.

Let me get to the very simple method of a chicken, green chile quesadilla that I made last nite.


2 flour
grated cheese of your choice
chicken or steak.........leftovers a great for this if no sauce was used
green chile cilantro
If I had some caramelized onions I would have added those

Method place your first flour tortilla in a skillet, start layering your ingredients, I start with cheese, then the meat, the chiles, cilantro a bit more cheese and top that off with the other flour tortilla. Turn the heat to med to low, place a lid on and carefully watch so as not to burn the tortillas but the cheese melts nicely and the inside heats the meat. Once one side is a bit toasty turn over with a wide spatula and continue for another minute or two till the contents are warmed thru and the cheese is well melted. I serve with a fresh salsa as well as sour cream mixed with some green sauce and extra cilantro.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

omnivore's hundred

tim at very good taste is doing a little meme called the omnivore's hundred. here's how it works:

1) Copy this list into your blog or journal, including these instructions.
2) Bold all the items you’ve eaten.
3) Cross out any items that you would never consider eating.
4) Optional extra: Post a comment here at www.verygoodtaste.co.uk linking to your results.

here's how we'll do it. first, the list is long and posting all three of our lists would be very long indeed. second, i thought it'd be cool to do a little cross promotion of our individual blogs (so you can see what we've been up to lately, as it has obviously not been food blogging). so, we're posting the original list first. then, immediately below will be a hyperlink to each of our three lists on our individual blogs. click to see how we all fared on vgt's omnivore's 100.

The VGT Omnivore’s Hundred:

1. Venison
2. Nettle tea
3. Huevos rancheros
4. Steak tartare
5. Crocodile
6. Black pudding
7. Cheese fondue
8. Carp
9. Borscht
10. Baba ghanoush
11. Calamari
12. Pho
13. PB&J sandwich
14. Aloo gobi
15. Hot dog from a street cart
16. Epoisses
17. Black truffle
18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes
19. Steamed pork buns
20. Pistachio ice cream
21. Heirloom tomatoes
22. Fresh wild berries
23. Foie gras
24. Rice and beans
25. Brawn, or head cheese
26. Raw Scotch Bonnet pepper
27. Dulce de leche
28. Oysters
29. Baklava
30. Bagna cauda
31. Wasabi peas
32. Clam chowder in a sourdough bowl
33. Salted lassi
34. Sauerkraut
35. Root beer float
36. Cognac with a fat cigar
37. Clotted cream tea
38. Vodka jelly/Jell-O
39. Gumbo
40. Oxtail
41. Curried goat
42. Whole insects
43. Phaal
44. Goat’s milk
45. Malt whisky from a bottle worth £60/$120 or more
46. Fugu
47. Chicken tikka masala
48. Eel
49. Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut
50. Sea urchin
51. Prickly pear
52. Umeboshi
53. Abalone
54. Paneer
55. McDonald’s Big Mac Meal
56. Spaetzle
57. Dirty gin martini - many dirty, filthy vodka martinis, actually
58. Beer above 8% ABV
59. Poutine
60. Carob chips
61. S’mores
62. Sweetbreads
63. Kaolin - isn't this clay?!
64. Currywurst
65. Durian
66. Frogs’ legs
67. Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake
68. Haggis
69. Fried plantain
70. Chitterlings, or andouillette
71. Gazpacho
72. Caviar and blini
73. Louche absinthe
74. Gjetost, or brunost
75. Roadkill
76. Baijiu
77. Hostess Fruit Pie
78. Snail
79. Lapsang souchong
80. Bellini
81. Tom yum
82. Eggs Benedict
83. Pocky
84. Tasting menu at a three-Michelin-star restaurant.
85. Kobe beef
86. Hare
87. Goulash
88. Flowers
89. Horse
90. Criollo chocolate
91. Spam
92. Soft shell crab
93. Rose harissa
94. Catfish
95. Mole poblano
96. Bagel and lox
97. Lobster Thermidor
98. Polenta
99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee
100. Snake

doodles' omnivore's 100
maltese parakeet's omnivore's 100
mooncrazy's omnivore's 100

we hope you'll post your own omnivore's 100. if you do, please put a link in the comments.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Ever start dinner with dessert?

No, me either but here I'm going to start my Labor Day BBQ meal post with my dessert, peach cobbler. I found this fresh peaches and a yummy tender topping made with buttermilk cobbler on Food Network.

This was served after a killer meal of smoked pork, broccoli salad, baked beans, and a few great appetizers. All will appear on future posts but lets get at that peach cobbler, shall we?

Peach Cobbler
It says it serves 6-8 but I doubled it and served 8; maybe we're pigs.

Cobbler filling:
4 cups peeled and sliced fresh peaches
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon flour

Cobbler crust:
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3 tablespoons brown sugar
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
2/3 cup buttermilk

1 tablespoon brown sugar, for topping.

Preheat over 425 degrees.

Butter a 1 1/2 quart shallow baking dish. Place the sliced peaches in the dish and sprinkle with brown sugar, cinnamon, vanilla and flour. Mix gently and spread evenly again. Bake for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile combine all dry ingredients for cobbler crust in a bowl. Cut in the butter with a pastry cutter or you fingers, to make the texture like course crumbs. Add buttermilk and stir to form a soft dough.

Remove fruit from oven and drop rounded spoons full of dough on top. Sprinkle with last tablespoon of brown sugar and return to oven. Bake until fruit is bubbly and crust topping is golden brown, about 20 minutes. Serve warm with ice cream or whipped cream.

Cooking the peaches for ten minutes before putting on the topping made it so very light and I think kept it from being "doughy" underneath. It was a little bit of heaven floating down to my kitchen.

Last picture? Only one piece left.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

not your typical white person

quick post. when i was buying the ingredients to make up some red beans and rice for our tailgate party tomorrow (go bruins!), i had to ask the butcher if they had any ham hocks because there weren't any out in the open cases. the other person standing at the counter at the time, a black guy about my age, turned to me and said, "ham hocks? you are NOT a typical white person!" i thanked him for the complement and left the store grinning ear to ear!

update - because joanna asked so nicely and she is such a good friend of the blog, here's the recipe. p.s., sorry, j, this won't ever be entered for consideration on the heart of the matter! anyway, here it is...

auntie lil bird's n'awlins red beans and rice

(adapted from emeril's red beans and rice from his louisiana real and rustic cookbook)

1 lb dried small red beans, rinsed and sorted, soaked overnight and drained
2 tbsp canola oil
1 c chopped onions
1/2 c chopped bell pepper
1/2 c chopped celery
2 tsp salt
1 tsp cayenne
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 tsp dried thyme
4 bay leaves
1 lb boiled ham, cut into 1/2 in cubes
1 smoked ham hock (skin scored crosswise)
8 oz smoked sausage, cut in half then into 1/4 in slices (half moons, if you will)
3 tbsp chopped garlic
8 - 10 c water
steamed white rice

bust out your large heavy pot (le creuset or similar works best) and saute the trinity (onions, peppers, celery) and spices for about 5 mins over med-high heat. add the bay leaves, ham and ham hock and saute for an additional 5 or so minutes. (note, i did not say to add the sausage yet. simon says, back to the beginning!) add the garlic and saute until you start to smell it but before it burns. add the beans and then enough water to cover all ingredients. bring to a boil, then reduce heat. simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally. add more water, if things start to get too dry and thick. at about the 2 hour mark, take your spoon and start mashing the beans against the side of the pot until you've mashed about 1/2 of the beans. (tip from auntie, do this on the side of the pot that is facing the back of the stove, in case you push the pot, it won't fall off the stove and spill boiling beans all over you!) this is the critical step as this is what gives the dish its creamy texture. now stir in your cut up sausage pieces and continue to stir for another 1 1/2 hours or so until mixture is creamy and beans are soft. feel free to add more water, the texture should be liquid but not watery, ifyaknowwhutimean. before serving, remove the bay leaves and the ham hock, salvage any of the non-fatty meat from the hock and return it to the pot. serve over steamed white rice with plenty of crystal hot sauce and an ice cold abita amber beer.

red beans

as a bit of history - red beans and rice is still typically served on mondays in new orleans. the reason: monday was wash day and a pot of red beans was easy to cook as it could be left relatively unattended while the lady of the house was busy all day in the yard with the laundry.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Where are those women?

You might be wondering where we've been lately. I can answer for all of us. It's just that summer time comes with responsibilities. Friends visiting, hot summer nights that don't require any additional cooking because you've baked your body all day, and let's throw in a bit o' work. Summer is just too much fun to be in the kitchen, well for me it has been. We do promise to get back to it soon.

With the long weekend here and yes, another bbq, I hope to have one new recipe to post on Tuesday but until then, ponder this.

As the days get shorter I'm starting to think of trying something new in the kitchen. I've been toying with a list of recipes I've always wanted to try and before it becomes a novel I should start ticking off a few.

These are by no mean all of my list or in any particular order:

Angel food cake
Dill pickles
Low-fat dishes that are tasty
More outdoor dutch oven cooking
More smoked meats
Chicken Molé
Real sourdough bread from my own starter

The list is growing and maybe when the thermometer dips a bit in the coming months I can tackle something new.

How did your summer go?

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Vegetarians: no monkeys were harmed in the making of this dish

When I'm in a fix for something sweet to make, in a short amount of time, I'll go to my standard, Monkey Bread. It serves as well as a dessert as it does a breakfast treat. I've never had to take any leftovers home. It's so simple it amazes me when people rave about it. Must be the brown sugar and cinnamon, gets them every time. Since there are few ingredients needed I always keep them on hand for that last minute surprise potluck. The refrigerator biscuits last forever. It's scary but I try not to think about it.

Please, no one turn up their noses at the canned biscuits used in this tasty treat. I've made it from scratch and to be honest, I like the texture of the Pillsbury biscuits better. Some recipes call for dipping each piece of dough in butter then rolling in sugar. Takes too much time and, again, not much different in the final product.

Monkey Bread
4 cans Pillsbury Buttermilk Biscuits, ten in the can. I buy 4 wrapped together in their "value pack"
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon (sometimes I throw in a bit of fresh nutmeg, too)
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1 stick unsalted butter (do not use margarine)

Grease the sides of a tube/bundt pan.
Mix white sugar and cinnamon together and put in a bag.

Open cans one at a time and cut each biscuit into four pieces. Put all of the one can's cut biscuits into the bag with the cinnamon sugar and shake to coat the pieces.

Start layering the biscuits into the prepared pan. If you desire, you can add chopped nuts or raisins with each layer. Do each can then set aside as you make the syrup.

Melt the butter and brown sugar in a small pan. Bring to a boil and cook for about two minutes stirring continuously. Pour over biscuits in prepared pan.

Bake in 350 oven for about 30-40 minutes until they biscuits are golden and puffed. Don't over bake. Let cool for about 10/15 minutes or so; if not, all the monkeys fall out. Run a knife around the edge of the pan and turn upside down on a plate.

Serve warm or cold. Use a fork to separate a piece, cutting can be difficult unless it's cold.

I'd like to show a photo but every time I make this I'm rushing out the door.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Rigatoni with Roasted Red Peppers

One morning laying on the sofa trying to rid myself of a crummy sinus headache......what better way to take your mind off of your ills than by watching someone cook on TV, just seems to take me elsewhere. Well I ran across an older spot by Giada De Laurentis...........sounded so easy I knew I had to try it..........cause it had all the ingredients we like.

Couple of comments about the following recipe....

  • don't overpower the rigatoni with too much of the bread crumbs
  • I used my own red peppers that I roasted on the BBQ......you can use jarred red peppers but make sure they are packed in water and not oil
  • I also added a bit more garlic cloves while pulsing the croûtons
  • Also when toasting your almonds..careful not to burn them.......med heat, five minutes. Keep shaking the pan to move the almonds around.
  • use rigatoni as with the little ridges it hold the bread crumb mixture.

1 pound rigatoni pasta
3 cups purchased garlic-flavored croûtons, (about 5 ounces)
1/4 cup slivered almonds (about 1 ounce), toasted
1 cup julienned roasted red bell peppers
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 to 10 minutes. Drain pasta into a large bowl.

Place the extra garlic, croutons and the almonds in a food processor. Pulse until it becomes the texture of bread crumbs. Add the mixture to the hot pasta. Add the peppers and the olive oil. Toss to combine and serve.

Now if you are someone who likes to have tomato sauce on your pasta.........this dish is not for you. My sweet husband is a purist and likes tomato sauce on his pasta, so I took a big chance with this dish, but he LOVED it.........the man never ceases to amaze me.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

The answer

The can on the left was the product I was hoping someone would identify. One person said it was baking powder, Laura from Laura Rebecca's Kitchen and she was as wrong as me. I picked up this can at Trader Joe's thinking:
  • I need baking powder
  • baking powder comes in a round can
  • baking soda comes in a square box
  • I'm in such a hurry
I then went home to bake some cookies that have three teaspoons of baking powder. I was baking them for a gallery opening I was involved in. When I tasted them they had a very flat flavor with an aftertaste. They were frosted with a great ganache, what's not to love there, but they still were a bit off. I've made this recipe before and for the life of me, I couldn't figure out the problem.

Fast forward to last week when I got out the ingredients for biscuits and actually read the can. Yikes! I'd used baking soda instead of baking powder. I don't know about you but I'm a very graphic person and relied on my memory of what the can looked like and failed to read the label.

Laura Rebecca, because you were as smart as I was and thought the can looked like baking powder I'm sending you a homemade felt lapel pin. Just contact me with a mailing address via e-mail.

Everyone else, be wary of just grabbing something to use before you read the label. I know I shall not make that mistake again.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Can you guess?

How about a game today?

Who can tell us: what's this product?

One comment said Baking Powder. Who thinks this is Baking Powder? Go look at your's in the cupboard.

Post a comment with your guess. If no one can answer I'll post a hint, tomorrow. I might even have a prize but just the knowledge that you are smarter than Moon is worth a lot. Wait, there are many smarter than Moon. I should give a prize.

Click the comments, all comments welcome. If you are a "nonny mouse" include your e-mail.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

i heart trader joe's

have i said that before? well, let me say it again. not only are they cheaper than the supermarkets, their selection is better and fresher and they offer so many options that are better for you and the environment.

i made this lemon pepper papardelle with sundried tomato alfredo sauce and grilled chicken for my grandmother's recent visit. it was a perfect summer afternoon meal and we enjoyed the meal and each other's company with a nice rex goliath pinot grigio.

here's the tj's shopping list:

sundried tomatoes (the dry ones, not the ones in oil)
kosher chicken breasts
lemon pepper papardelle
alfredo sauce
parmesan cheese
pinot grigio

grill chicken and cut into slices. chop sundried tomatoes into strips and simmer with one or two smashed cloves of garlic in some of the wine until soft. add jar of alfredo sauce and simmer until flavors blend. meanwhile, boil the papardelle until al dente. drain pasta, add to sauce and heat over low for a few minutes so the pasta finishes cooking and soaks up some of the sauce. plate pasta and put the grilled chicken on top. garnish with grated parmesan cheese, basil ribbons and lemon zest. enjoy with a glass of the wine!

Friday, August 08, 2008


We are very excited Doodles won their contest so here is another recipe from the magazine. This time I'll let you go buy Cook's Country or at very least, join online. I made this as an appetizer for last weekend's dinner party and it was very successful. It does take some pre-prep but then it goes together quickly.

The whole trick to this is instead of making a normal pizza dough with yeast you make a dough with beer. Because you don't need it to rise you can roll it out and slap it in the skillet. I wanted to have them ready to go so I rolled them out and slapped them between two pieces of waxed paper and slapped them in the refrigerator. I love slapping things.

When it came time to fix them I oiled my non-stick pan and cooked the first side. When it's nice and crispy flip it over, load on the toppings and cover until the bottom is crisp and the chees is melty. This is all similar to the pizza on the grill, another America Test Kitchen recipe, that is fun, but a lot more work. I cut them into bit sized pieces and served them hot. Six adults when through three nine-inch pizzas quickly and if I didn't already have dinner cooked I might have made more.

Photo editor's note: Before I slid the last pizza out on the cutting board, plastic; I set down the pan to take a snap. When I lifted the pan, the cutting board came with it. Glad this was my last pizza. Just a little calamity in the kitchen, when it all cooled it was easy to scrap the melted plastic off the skillet bottom but the board, not so lucky. I was happy to see it bore the little recycle triangle so at least it could be made into something else.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

If you are not drooling …

When Doodle's won the recipe contest in the September issue of Cook's Country I, of course, picked up the magazine. I do enjoy this magazine because they have no ads only good recipes and a few hints and product reviews. I was not disappointed with this issue and tried a number of recipes for a dinner this weekend.

Often, when going to a potluck or planning an informal dinner get-together, I want a simple dessert that's portable. There is nothing more difficult than trying to get a fancy dessert on the road. I'd rather be a roadie for a rock band than have to transport something with whipped cream. This unbelievably light lemon sheet cake answered both those requests, and did I mention, it was easy and delicious.

I did not change this recipe one bit but my cake texture was not as dense as the picture in the magazine. Mine turned out very fluffy with lots of crumbs. I might have beat mine longer but it didn't seem to affect the flavor. The sugar and zest combo on the top was great. The topping gave a bit of crunch to the, other wise, tender cake.

Lemon Buttermilk Sheet Cake
serves 16

2 1/2 cups cake flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup buttermilk, room temp
3 tablespoons grated zest and 1/4 cup juice from 3 large lemons
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
1 1/2 sticks of softened unsalted butter
3 large eggs plus 1 yolk, room temp

3 cups confectioners' sugar
3 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons buttermilk

For the cake: heat oven 325 degrees. Grease and flour 13x9 baking pan. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in medium bowl. Combine buttermilk, lemon juice, and vanilla.

With electric mixer on medium speed, beat granulated sugar and lemon zest until moist and fragrant, about 1 minute. Transfer 1/4 cup sugar mixture to small bowl, cover, and reserve. Add butter to remaining sugar mixture and beat until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat in eggs and yolk, one at a time, until incorporated. Reduce speed to low. Add flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with 2 additions of buttermilk mixture, and mix until smooth, about 30 seconds.

Scrape batter into pan and smooth top. Bake until cake is golden brown and tooth pick inserted into center comes out clean, 25-35 minutes. Transfer cake pan to wire rack and let cool 10 minutes.

For the glaze: Whisk confectioners' sugar, lemon juice, and buttermilk until smooth. Gently spread glaze over warm cake and sprinkle evenly with reserved sugar mixture. Cool completely, two hours. Serve.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Gone are the days

Occasionally we do a restaurant review and since I've been spending my Fridays in downtown Los Angeles here is a quick review of a famous favorite. If you've never been to Olivera Street put it on your things to do in LA.

La Luz del Dia
1 Olivera Street
Los Angeles, CA 91024

Growing up in the Los Angeles area and working downtown LA, I've been to Olivera St. more times than I can count; so I know the food. My usual haunt is Cielito Lindo's at the opposite end of the street but my dad's favorite was La Luz so this week I decided to have lunch.

First off they've replaced the abuelita (grandmother) slapping masa into fresh tortillas with two women mashing the dough with a tortilla press. Not the same texture at all. When I asked one of the owners why he honestly told me it just got too expensive and he knew it wasn't as good but, what can ya do?

The whole meal was just average but nothing like it use to be. My tamale was tender as was the meat in my soft taco but the sauce flat and uninteresting. The fresh salsa was as mild as you could get it. The missing chilies seemed to be replaced with onion.

Their cafeteria style of service does move quickly and it was quite busy because it's tourist season there on the calle. I was glad to see they still have the vieja señoras to take your tray of food to a table and it's quite funny to see tourist try to wrestle away that tray. They are very insistent and frown upon anyone saving a table before your food is ready. Their system has worked for 49 years so don't muck it up. I just wish they hadn't mucked up the food.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Unique Flavor Combinations Win Salad Contest

We'd really like to toot our own horn today, maybe shout from the rooftops; how about a sky-writer? What's the reason? Our own, Doodles is a Grand-Prize winner in a recipe contest. You can find her and her recipe for the truly unique Cantaloupe and Gorgonzola Salad on page 4 of the August/September 2008 issue of Cook's Country magazine. This is most exciting and well deserved and we couldn't be prouder.

Edited to add the original post of the recipe

Cook's Country is from the editors of Cook's Illustrated magazine and the TV cooking show, America's Test Kitchen. Also in this issue they talk about their new show coming to Public Television. That would be very cool if they made Doodle's salad on the show.

Message from Doodles: Boy that would have been way cool … maybe since they are starting a new show they will highlight winners recipes from their past contests. Oh am I a dreamer HA!!!

When Moon called to tell me I had won, well let's just say, I was over the top with JOY. Funny they don't let you know prior to publication they let ya sweat it out until the magazine hits the stands. I have never won anything like this in my life; thrilled beyond imagination.

OK, now a little plug for the magazine … it's quite nice and NO ads, none, nada. They do have a few "tearouts" for their magazine subscriptions. The magazine layout is quite good and handy to keep as a reference guide for future use as is their other publication Cook's Illustrated. As you can see I am quite fond of the magazines and no they didn't pay me to say this however I did win $1,000 Wooooo Hooo!!!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

tasty vitamins

Originally uploaded by lornababy
when we were in vancouver and seattle, i must have had a salmon burger at least once a day. the salmon burgers up there weren't patties, though, they were slabs of salmon on a bun. yumalicious. my favorite one had an asian slaw instead of lettuce on the sandwich. i've been enamored of that flavor combination and trying to recreate it ever since we got back. here's what i came up with for the slaw:

6 c. shredded red & green cabbage and carrots
3 tbsp mayonnaise
1 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
1 tsp sesame oil

this slaw is good and good for you. it's lite on the mayo so it's only about 80 calories for a cup of slaw. that cup, however has tons of vitamins, as cabbage, especially red cabbage, has tons of vitamin c and carrots have even more vitamin a. so mix up this slaw and enjoy your vitamins!

Friday, July 18, 2008

House of Moon Chinese Dinner

Most of the food I've been cooking lately is old favorites. I made my chocolate cake for a dinner party last one day last weekend and my green chili quiche for the other so that's why I've not posted much. Here at PBE we are very lucky to be able to rely on each other in times like this.

My task for Thursday, though it's more of a joy, was to cook dinner for our darling friend Sandi and her husband Mike. She's mid-way through her chemo treatment and her friends have insisted we help and she's finally acquiesced. My contribution for dinner was:

Chicken Stir-fry with Bok Choy and Steamed Rice
Baby Broccoli with Lemon Garlic Sauce
Pineapple Buttermilk Meringue Pie (posted by Nicole @ Baking Bites)
I added a very light chicken soup with fresh homemade egg noodles just in case she wanted something less spicy.
I called to make sure they were ready for dinner and my beloved and I made a quick delivery. Sandi called later to thank us and I told her it was done for the "love of it." I wish I could do more, she is a dear sweet lady who is going through a very rough time but she believes in prayer and I think there is someone out there praying for her.
Gotta say something about this pie. It is so easy and so damn good you can't imagine. I always seem to have buttermilk left over from some other recipe and don't know what to do with it. Now I know I'll whip up this beauty. Visit Baking Bites for the recipe and especially the recipe for cooked meringue. Fantastic!

Thursday, July 17, 2008


It took me a very long time to wrap my taste buds around this item, but once I did I haven't stopped trying all kinds of new ways to eat yogurt.

Sweet husband wanted some ice cream one nite, no ice cream on hand but I did have some vanilla yogurt in the freezer, let's see if I can pull this off, cause ya see husband says "I don't eat yogurt"!!! Oh OK no problem....hahahaha!!!

I get out my little food processor and thaw/whip up the vanilla yogurt, while melting some chocolate chips in the microwave, After the chips are melted I fold them into the the vanilla yogurt added some toasted chopped pecans I had on hand and there ya go.

No I never told him it was yogurt and you better never tell him either OK!! Oh and his comment was "this is nice and smooth, what kind is it"? Never did say but I did mention I think it's a new brand I found at the market.

What else can you do with yogurt, I think it's endless where and how. Any ideas leave me an email and I'll post them and credit your creativity.

I have mixed in some salsa and a good amount of cilantro and used that for a baked potato instead of sour cream.

No I didn't get a photo, the man likes his ice cream.......maybe next time.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Dip or spread

Call it whatever you want, but I call it versatile. A friend reminded me that I hadn't made this in awhile.

1 15 0z. can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained well
3 - 4 cloves whole garlic cloves
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
splash of lemon juice
fresh ground pepper

Place the beans in the food processor make sure they are thoroughly drained, peel and mash the garlic with the wide blade of your knife, add the garlic to to bean mixture along with the splash of lemon juice and salt to taste. While whirring the bean mixture in your processor slowly drizzle in the olive oil. Let it go until it was all smooth. Put well blended mixture in a bowl, add lots of fresh ground pepper.

Now I have been known to do the following with this basic mixture...........

  • add a tbls of chipotle sauce to the mixture
  • add a small can of chopped green chiles after adding the olive oil
  • use the mixture instead of mayonnaise on sandwiches or wraps
  • use roasted garlic instead of fresh
  • smoky paprika is a good addition
  • I bet you could make this with black beans
  • add caramelized onions
  • I would put cilantro in just about anything
I made a grilled veggie wrap of yellow & red peppers, ribbons of zuchini and a slice or three of avocado & cilantro,for lunch yesterday and used the spread instead of mayo or any other jarred spread.

Monday, July 14, 2008

take that pinkberry

had a craving for some yummy frozen yogurt with fresh fruit, a la pinkberry, but didn't really feel like taking out a second on my house. so, ice cream maker? check. quart of trader joe's non-fat yogurt? check. cup of sugar? check. mixed up the yogurt and the sugar and froze it up in the ice cream maker, then "decanted" into a container for a few more hours in the freezer. a few hours later, busted out a pint of blueberries...et voila! cold, creamy, sweet and tangy. really hits the spot on a warm summer evening. good and good for you, with all those antioxidants in the blueberries and calcium in the yogurt. and at about 150 calories and no fat per 1/2 cup serving, not too shabby for the ol' diet, either. i think you could even stand to cut the sugar (maybe up to 1/2) and it would still taste good. take that, pinkberry.

Smoke ring; I've got it!

There is a big long explanation of why slow cooked smoked meats have this nice pink ring but I'm not going into that here. Just take it from me, it's delicious. This is my latest from the smoker, a whole brisket. I had a little more success with this try but I still have a difficult time keeping the smoker hot enough. I've found out it's because I have the cheap one and I'll deal with it for now. I've been watching Craig's List and hopefully one will surface.

I've been reading lots of bbq blogs lately and next time a smoke a brisket I will try wrapping it in foil mid-way through the cooking. I believe mine dried out a bit for my taste though everyone that had eaten it said it was great. I'm going for a moister texture to the meat. I'll get there. I do think the smoking takes place in the first four or five hours so there shouldn't be a problem with the foil wrap.

What I did come up with was a great rub and I not only used it for the brisket but a few steaks I threw on the grill the other night. Mix this up to have on hand much better than the rubs you buy at the store. Those seem to be too salty for my taste.

Moon Rub
2 tablespoons course cracked pepper
1 tablespoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons white sugar
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1 teaspoon powdered onion
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon powered ginger
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons Spanish Paprika
3 teaspoons powdered garlic
1/2 teaspoon ground chipotle
1/2 teaspoon oregano

Mix this together and store in an airtight container. Rub this into your meat before you bbq. The longer it sets on the meat the better it is. If it's more than a few minutes, rub and wrap it in plastic and keep refrigerated until you are ready to cook it.

Now you can fuss with this to suit you tastes and though I didn't think I'd like the sugar on the steaks it really gave them a nice crust.

Pork ribs are next!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Baked Apple BUT.....

with a twist........do it in a smoker. Hellooooooooooooo Seester Moon!!!

I just saw this on my local NPR Saturday morning cooking shows.

Take an apple must be one that will hold up to cook for one and a half hour approx.

Remove the core but do not cut thru the bottom as you are going to stuff the apple with the following:

a spoonful of apricot jam
a spoonful of cream cheese or mascarpone cheese
a spoonful of brown sugar
and finish off with a healthy (HA!!) pat of butter

Make a ring out of foil to hold the apple off the grate of the BBQ. Add apple chips if you happen to have any..........cook for an hour to and hour and a half.

VOILE!!! a baked apple with a twist. I bet you could do this while smoking something else. Try is cause I know y'all like baked apples.

Has anyone else done this - sure sounds tasty!

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

New diet: low carbon

The Cafe of the Getty Center has started something quite interesting. It's called a Low Carbon Diet. This is a committed program by Bon Appétit, a nationwide food management group to lower their carbon footprint. Basically they are will be buying local and reducing the amount of waste. This Palo Alto, CA company has over 400 cafes in 28 states, usually large companies and Universities.

Tired of feeling like you can't do anything? Here's a great way to get started in your own kitchen, What you can do. I also love their Top Five Low Carbon Diet Tips and a cool little search page for local, sustainable food in your area. Eat Well Guide. And finally, the Monterey Bay Aquarium has a pocket seafood guide so you know what fish is ocean-friendly and safe to eat. Don't forget to ask restaurants where their seafood was caught or raised and don't buy seafood that has to be flown in buy frozen when caught. Shipping fish uses less energy than flying it into your market, fresh-caught. If you can't see the ocean don't buy fresh-caught.

If you have some good ideas to lower your carbon diet, let's hear about them.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Salmon Patties

My dear husband and sweet husband of sister's loves salmon. Unfortunately my sweet sister Moon is allergic to all kinds of fishy. This would be great for sister to make for her beloved.

I topped it off with some mayo mixed with some chipotle sauce..gives the pattie a zing. Served with a coleslaw and there ya go. I must also add I have not made these in many, many years and had forgotten how tasty they are.

Salmon Patties


  • 1 (14.75 ounce) can salmon, undrained and flaked
  • 1 slice of bread, shredded
  • 2 chopped green onion, including the green parts
  • 1 medium garlic clove, minced
  • half of a red bell pepper
  • 1 Tbsp flour
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoky paprika
  • salt
  • pepper fresh ground
  • 3 Tbsp vegetable oil


1 In a large bowl, gently mix together the salmon, bread, green onion, garlic, bell pepper, flour, egg, paprika, salt and pepper. Form into patties; each about 1/2 inch thick.

2 Heat oil over medium high heat in a large skillet. Cook the patties until nicely browned on both sides, about 3-4 minutes per side.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Chicken thighs Italian style

First I must apologize for being absent from PBE the last few weeks. We are in an area that is not close to any stores so my creative juices kinda dried up. But I must tell you a Farmers Market is starting up Saturday and every Saturday thru September. Really excited about that........so I'll be sure to have my creative juices stimulated.

Came home from work the other day to discover I had taken a package of chicken thighs out of the freezer but we were going to dinner with friends, OK they’d keep a day. Now it’s the next day and what the heck do I do with those thighs, something different? Sister woulda put those babies in the smoker that she just recently acquired. BBQ’d was not at the top of my list cause the weather was iffy and blowy. Then I remembered a recipe I saw on one of my favorite food sites Pioneer Woman. If y’all haven’t been there go and check Pdub out she’s a a very funny writer and a pretty darn good cook. Her link is over in the left column.

OK I fire up the computer and go look for the recipe and my WiFi is down. Dang!!! let me see if I can recreate this from memory.

Here is the original recipe with my attempt at recreation in red.

Olive Oil
8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs, chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
I used 4 thighs
1/2 to 1 medium Onion, chopped
Did not remember the onion in this recipe DUH!!!
2 to 3 cloves Garlic, chopped
used 3 fat cloves of garlic
1/2 cup White Wine (or Chicken Broth)
I used 1 cup of beef broth not only because beef broth was all I had but I think beef broth lends a good flavor to the crushed tomatoes
2 28-ounce cans crushed tomatoes
I used 1 can of Muir Glen fire roasted crushed tomatoes
Pinch of Sugar
Didn’t remember the sugar
3 to 4 tablespoons chopped Fresh Parsley
No parsley on hand
8 large fresh Basil leaves,
Had 4 fat basil leaves

1 package Linguine noodles, cooked
Fresh Parmesan Cheese, grated, in abundance

Boil a pot of water for the pasta. Cook linguine noodles until al dente.
Heat olive oil in a hot skillet, then add diced chicken thighs in single layer. Don’t stir around; just let them brown on one side. Flip over with spatula, allow to brown, then remove to separate plate. In same pan, over medium heat, add onions and garlic and stir to combine. Pour in wine (or broth) then scrape bottom of pan with whisk to loosen brown bits. Next, pour in crushed tomatoes, add salt, pepper, and pinch of sugar, then simmer for fifteen minutes. After fifteen minutes, throw in all the cooked chicken, including its juice from the plate. Allow to simmer for fifteen more minutes. Add chopped fresh herbs at the end, then pour over cooked linguine in large bowl or platter. Top with lots fresh grated Parmesan cheese.

I do agree with Pdub for the fondness of chicken thighs, love them. All in all my memory served me well and the meal turned out quite tasty. Added a nice lite tossed salad with garlic toast.

Check out my blog to see where we are and what we have been up to.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Work those thighs and butts

At seven A.M. on Sunday I fired up my new smoker. It's the Brinkmann, cheapo model but I wanted to test out smoking meat before I got any deeper in the sport. And sport it is, just visit our good food blog friend, Sylvie at Soul Fusion Kitchen and see all the honors her group has taken. I used her site as a tutorial for my new project. Many thanks to her for the encouragement and all the great into.

My first impression of using this smoker is how much smoke it put out. Yikes, I'd neglected to mention to my neighbors my plans and when I filled the neighborhood with smoke I quickly found one or two to assure them we neither cooking crack nor burning down our house. It does tame down after a while, whew, a relief. Here is something I learned later, wait until the smoke changes color before putting on the meat. Thanks to Jeff at Shifty Squirrel's BBQ for that one.

So what did I cook? I looked at three stores for a pork butt but all I could find was a 7 lb pork shoulder. I think they are pretty much the same thing. I'd promised daughter Maltese Parakeet, lil bird, and her beloved pulled pork sandwiches for dinner and I was aiming for that end. I'd also added a few chicken thighs just because I have two levels of grilling.

The pork roast was rubbed and it rested in the refrigerator overnight wrapped in plastic. My rub might have been a tad bit salty for my taste so I'll adjust next time. Rubs are a matter of personal taste. I did trim off some of the heavier layers of fat. After the fire got going I put the pork on the bottom grill and spent the next nine hours adjusting the fire. Only once did it get under 200 and not for long. I was like an old mother hen watching that thermometer.
Editors note: A remote thermometer was my birthday give from lil bird so I don't have to run outside so often to check, cool.

Chicken was the first out and after they cooled they went into the fridge for another meal. I used the same rub I'd used on the pork but I also brined the thighs for about two hours. They only cooked about four house and were very tasty.
The pork never got to that fall-off-the-bone stage I was looking for but when sliced it had a wonderful smoke ring, was tender and very tasty though I couldn't tell if it was smoky enough since I'd been breathing the smoke for nine hours. The family did agree it was smoky and quite good. I even gave my son-in-law a care package to take home.

Our menu was pork sandwiches with a coleslaw, I'll add that recipe at a different post because I thought it delicious, and baked beans. The bbq sauce was Rudy's, an import from Texas that lil bird picked up while in San Antonio. I've used their rub before, too and it's very tasty.

All in all I believe it was a success but I'll make some adjustments next time. I was very good not to lift the lid so I don't think that was the problem.

Things I did wrong:
  • not enough coals in the beginning
  • maybe a bit hotter temp
  • cooled hot coals too quickly
  • maybe longer cooking time
  • different cut of pork

What's next? I love smoked turkey and can't wait to try it in my new smoker. So look for another post coming soon. Did I give up on the outdoor dutch oven? Nope. I just wanted to branch out a bit. I'm looking forward to my next project, outdoor biscuits.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

It's a fine chop you've gotten us into

If any of my family can remember what I was going to use this pix for, please let me know. It seems a shame to let this photo go unused and I can assure you I did use the subject for something. I'd never let that lovely pile of fresh, finely chopped red onion go to waste. Some may keep a Kosher kitchen; I keep a Green kitchen as do the other cooks here in the PBE Kitchens. If you search "being green" here on our blog you'll get the idea.

What should I do with this scrumptious little pile of onions? This is not a contest, I'd just like some ideas. How do you use red onions? Raw, cooked, creamed or blanched. Maybe you never use them and I bet that's a good story. Give me suggestions, either e-mail (pbetouffee@gmail.com) or comments. I'd love to recreate that juciy little mountain of chop with my razor sharp Santoku.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Once a hobby, now an obsession

When will she ever stop?

Some people's hobbies can be annoying, you know collecting soda bottles or famous people's hair but mine, Outdoor Dutch Oven Cooking, is more than a hobby, it's turned into an obsession. Every time I fix a meal I try to figure out how long it would take to prepare outside? How can I convert that recipe. I must get help but until then here is my latest, Twenty-four hour sourdough bread.

Good ol' reliable Alton Brown actually had an episode on Outdoor Dutch Oven cooking. I'll not put in the recipe, it's called Knead Not Sourdough and can be found on Food TV's site. What I will talk about it the method. You mix flour, salt, a tiny 1/4 teaspoon of yeast, and water and let it set 20 hours, covered, on your counter. Then you do that normal punch down, turn around, and let rise another two hours thing to the dough. What could be easier, other than going to the bakery.

While the second rise is almost done it's outside to heat up the iron. Then toss your formed loaf into a pretty hot dutch oven to bake for 45 minutes. I'm all about the coals so I had what he suggested which I thought was way too many for the bottom. We are still in the experimental part of my obsession so I loaded on the coals.

After 30 minutes you could smell the bread, a good sign but I feared too early. The lid got lifted at 35 minutes and I gasped, yes literally, because it look so beautiful. This is food porn, folks. The temperature was in the range suggested so I hoisted it from the fire. Letting it cool for a few moments I then got some hand protection to remove the loaf. Now here's where it gets funny. It was somehow welded to the bottom of the pan. Would not budge. After I finally grunted and groaned and freed it from the iron it was pretty burnt on the bottom and the bread, though not a total loss, was still a bit doughy in the center. Alton never turned his loaf over, now that I think of it.

I now know I should have gone with my instincts and had less coals on the bottom and that would have slowed down the baking. It was also a bit saltier than I thought it needed to be so I'd cut the salt in half. Someone more experienced at bread baking might have sliced the top a few places before baking. I have no idea what that does but it always looks good.

Other than that it would be great to cook up a loaf of bread while camping. Imagine that lovely smell drifting through the campground. Hmmmm. Just bring me some butter.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Step aside Iron Man; Cast Iron Woman is here

My darling companion is known for many attributes--some more outstanding than others--but he is famous for his sweet tooth. He surprised his sister-outlaw, doodles with his keen detection of a full candy dish.

There's a whole long list of reasons why I want him to stay healthy and happy so I've been tinkering with a baked apple dessert. What I came up with wasn't even a dessert, it was breakfast but I'd serve this anytime; an apple pancake.

First of all you'll need an iron skillet or a pan you can use on the top of the stove and in the oven. It calls for bread flour but you can use all purpose. The high protein bread flour helps the pancake to rise.

Baked Apple Pancake

2 tart cooking apples, peeled, cored, and sliced into 1/4-inch slices
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
eggs, beaten and room temperature
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup bread flour

1/2 cup milk, room temperature ( I used non-fat)
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
5 tablespoons butter

Preheat oven to 425° F. Place oven rack on the middle rack of your oven.

In a small bowl, combine sugar and cinnamon; set aside. In a large bowl, combine eggs, salt, flour, milk, and vanilla extract; beat until batter is smooth (the batter will be thin, but very smooth and creamy); set aside.

In a large heavy oven-proof frying pan or a cast-iron skillet over medium heat, melt butter, tilting pan to cover sides. Add apples and sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon mixture. Stir and let cook for 5 to 7 minutes to slightly cook the apple slices; remove from heat.

Pour prepared batter over apples into pan. Place pan in preheated oven and bake approximately 20 minutes or until puffed above sides of the pan and lightly browned (it may puff irregularly in the center); remove from oven.

Remove pancake from the baking pan by flipping upside down onto a serving platter (apples and cinnamon will be on top). Once out of the oven, the pancake will begin to deflate. To serve, cut into serving-size wedges and transfer to individual serving plates. Makes 2 to 4 servings.

If you use egg-beaters and non-fat milk this is getting in the range of a healthy breakfast treat. It's the caramelized apples that make this so tasty.

Another healthy aspect of cast iron cookware is it leaches small amounts of iron into the food. There's a lot of discussion to whether anemics can benefit from this but a little boost of iron couldn't hurt most of us. Those with excess iron issues (for example, people with hemochromatosis) may suffer negative effects.

Here's a breakdown of the calories/fat. I got three servings out of this recipe but the count even less if you'd cut in into four servings. We were sort of pigs that morning.
  • With non-fat milk, egg beaters and butter= 396 calories/19.6 fat grams per serving.
  • With non-fat milk, regular eggs and butter= 440 calories/24.5 fat grams per serving.
The butter is what adds the heavy fat grams and though you could cook the apples in something other than real butter I wouldn't even try. Sometimes ya gotta just go with it.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Let's go Dutch

The Dutch I'm speak about is my new found love, Dutch Oven cooking. This is not that chic little Mario Batali number they sell at Crate and Barrel, nope it's the original outdoor cooking pot. They say the West would not have been settled without it. Since we do a lot of camping I decided I'd give it a try.

This will be a method much more than a recipe.

For hardware you need:
  • Outdoor Dutch Oven with a flanged lid and bottom legs that allow you to place your coals
  • Heavy gloves
  • Charcoal and a way to light it, I used the chimney
  • Long tongs
  • A lid lifter; my darling made mine
  • and all the other normal cooking tools

Here's the software:
  • three chicken thighs
  • three chicken Italian sausages
  • fresh thyme
  • chopped onion, celery, and garlic
  • 1 cup of raw rice
  • 2 cups chicken broth
Once I started the coals I put all 21 of them under the pot. This gave me enough heat to brown the mean and saute the vegetables.

I did remove the skin from the chicken thighs as it gets rubbery when cooked. After adding the chicken broth and bringing it to a boil I then redistributed the coals.

When you bake you want more on top than the bottom so 14 on top and 7 on the bottom should keep the pot at about 325/50 degrees.

Now to keep everything from burning I gave the lid a quarter turn each fifteen minutes and the pot every 30 minutes. After 30 minutes I lifted the lid and gave everything a stir. It was boiling, not simmer so I removed the lid to vent a bit of the heat. After it stopped boiling I replaced the lid for another 15 minutes. After 45 minutes I removed all the coals and let it set while I finished the rest of my dinner. Cast iron retains heat quite well so it stayed nice and warm.

Because I cooked the rice too hot it blew apart and was a bit mushy. I might cut back on the broth, too. Less coals is what was needed and more checking. There is a fine line with the checking; too much and you lose heat.

Chicken, rice and sausage, what was I thinking. It did need a little color and next time I'd add some red pepper or mushrooms and definitely some chopped parsley for a better presentation.

There is a lot of ash from the coals and I should have had a little whisk brush to get rid of them. I'll add that to my list. Also, lifting the lid must be done with care as not to add the ash to dinner. I never tasted any in this go around.

All in all, it was fun and I plan to take it with us next time we go out in the tear drop. I think I'll need more practice before I try making biscuits or rolls or maybe cornbread, though. When camping there were many who tried cakes and desserts. Some were good and other, well I'll have to try before I criticize.