Monday, March 30, 2009

Cast Iron Potluck a big success

Here's an update on my earlier post, Cast Iron Pie. I made the changes I mentioned in the recipe and it was very well received.

We all had fun talking with one another, sharing recipes and techniques, and then sitting down to eat. My Apple Pie wasn't as pretty as the early post but was very tasty. I'll make that again.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Plain but perfect

There are as many sugar cookie recipes as there are families. For roll out cookies I'd made the same recipe over and over until I found Sylvie's on Soul Fusion Kitchen. Perfect for cookie cutters but growing up I remember a plain sugar cookie with the tops dusted with sugar. As luck would have it I found a recipe to satisfy that old memory.

While celebrating Christmas at Mary's, my step-mother, I found some cookies she'd baked but didn't have out. She said they were a little stale. They were exactly what I was looking for, well not the stale part, but I asked her to send the recipe and now I make these regularly. I only make a half recipe because my darling and I would sit down and eat them all and four to five dozen is way too many.

They are dusted cinnamon and sugar and are made with butter and oil and couldn't be easier to throw together. I hope you enjoy them.

Sugar Cookies
1 cup powdered sugar
1 cup white sugar
1 cup margarine (I used unsalted butter)
1 cup cooking oil

Cream together – beat until fluffy.

Beat in 2 eggs

4 cups plus 4 tablespoons
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cream of tarter
1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls onto a greased cookie sheet. In a small bowl, combine some sugar and cinnamon. Using the bottom of a drinking glass, spread with margarine, dip it into the sugar and cinnamon mixture, and press on top of each cookie. Cook for about 10-15 minutes.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Happy find

I don't often do product review/rave but I am doing one here about Panko I use panko a lot in a variety of ways. I just found this new product at my local Safeway/Von's and I'm sure maybe your local market. Go take a look at the web site and see some recipes ideas. If you try it email me and let me know how you like it please. Oh I just used it as a topping for mac & cheese makes for a nice crunchy top.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Cast Iron Apple Pie

Since I'm planning to participate in a Outdoor Dutch Oven demo when we go camping the end of the month I though I'd better try out this new recipe before I did. I saw this recipe on America’s Test Kitchen ( on public television's Beg Week and thought I could convert it to iron. I followed the recipe as stated and the product was, ok. I hate, just ok so when I do this again I'll make some adjustments. There are also adjustments to using an Outdoor Dutch Oven.

The sauce had little flavor and was not thick enough. They use cornstarch and I'm not a fan of that to thicken pies so I'd use flour next time. Also, you need to adjust the thickening agent for the different apples. Some, more juicy that others, will take more flour. Now cinnamon is not to everyone's taste but an 1/8 of a teaspoon, who could even taste that. I'll add more. I've made my suggestions in red for the changes to the recipe and green for the adaptation to cast iron.

For the camping trip, I'll pre-make the pie dough and slice the apples and sprinkle with lemon juice to keep them from getting brown.

Skillet Apple Pie
from the Episode: Easy Apple Desserts

If your skillet is not heatproof, precook the apples and stir in the cider mixture as instructed, then transfer the apples to a 13- by 9-inch baking dish. Roll out the dough to a 13- by 9-inch rectangle and bake it as instructed. If you do not have apple cider, reduced apple juice may be used as a substitute—simmer 1 cup apple juice in a small saucepan over medium heat until reduced to 1/2 cup (about 10 minutes). Serve the pie warm or at room temperature with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream. Use a combination of sweet, crisp apples such as Golden Delicious and firm, tart apples such as Cortland or Empire.

Serves 6 to 8

1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour (5 ounces), plus more for dusting work surface
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon table salt
2 tablespoons vegetable shortening , chilled
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) cold unsalted butter , cut into 1/4-inch pieces
3–4 tablespoons ice water

1/2 cup apple cider (see note)
1/3 cup maple syrup
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice from 1 lemon
2 teaspoons cornstarch (I'll use 4 tablespoons flour)
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon (I'll use 1-2 teaspoons)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter (I'll use 3 tablespoons)
(I'll use 3 tablespoons brown sugar)
2 1/2 pounds sweet apples and tart apples (about 5 medium), peeled, cored, halved, and cut into 1/2-inch-thick wedges

1 egg white , lightly beaten
2 teaspoons sugar

Use a 12 inch deep outdoor dutch oven. Pre-heat with 25 coals underneath, lid on, until pan is hot.

1. FOR THE CRUST: Pulse flour, sugar, and salt in food processor until combined. Add shortening and process until mixture has texture of coarse sand, about ten 1-second pulses. Scatter butter pieces over flour mixture and process until mixture is pale yellow and resembles coarse crumbs, with butter bits no larger than small peas, about ten 1-second pulses. Transfer mixture to medium bowl.

2. Sprinkle 3 tablespoons ice water over mixture. With blade of rubber spatula, use folding motion to mix. Press down on dough with broad side of spatula until dough sticks together, adding up to 1 tablespoon more ice water if dough does not come together. Turn dough out onto sheet of plastic wrap and flatten into 4-inch disk. Wrap dough and refrigerate 30 minutes, or up to 2 days, before rolling out. (If dough is refrigerated longer than 1 hour, let stand at room temperature until malleable.)

3. FOR THE FILLING: Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position (between 7 and 9 inches from heating element) and heat oven to 500 degrees. Whisk cider, syrup, lemon juice, cornstarch, and cinnamon (if using) together in medium bowl until smooth. Heat butter in 12-inch heatproof skillet over medium-high heat. When foaming subsides, add apples and cook, stirring 2 or 3 times until apples begin to caramelize, about 5 minutes. (Do not fully cook apples.) Remove pan from heat, add cider mixture, and gently stir until apples are well coated. Set aside to cool slightly.

For DO: Add butter, then apples to the preheated DO. Stir and cook until apples begin to caramelize. Remove DO from coals add cider mixture stirring to coat the apples. Dust in more flour, if needed.
4. TO ASSEMBLE AND BAKE: Roll out dough on lightly floured work surface, or between 2 large sheets of plastic wrap, to 11-inch circle. Roll dough loosely around rolling pin and unroll over apple filling. Brush dough with egg white and sprinkle with sugar. With sharp knife, gently cut dough into 6 pieces by making 1 vertical cut followed by 2 evenly spaced horizontal cuts (perpendicular to first cut). Bake until apples are tender and crust is a deep golden brown, about 20 minutes. Let cool 15 minutes; serve.

For DO: After you cut the pie dough, place 4 coals on the bottom and remaining on the lid. Most of the heat should be towards the outside with a few in the center. You can see I had not enough on the rim. Turn lid every five minutes 1/4 turn and bake until crust is golden brown. I needed 25 minutes. Resist opening the lid until 20 minutes have passed.

This will be quite hot but it needs to be dished up since the DO hold onto that heat for a long time. I spooned it into bowls.

If you are camping and prep this before hand it is a great dessert. I might even try this in my regular home oven.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

bad yet remarkably neat dog

bad yet remarkably neat dog
Originally uploaded by lornababy
i forgetfully left an open box of cheez-its within dog reach. when i got home from work, the dogs had gotten into the box. if you look in the bottom left of the corner of the photo, you can see that they pulled the inner bag out of the box, then completely emptied the bag into a neat pile. i like to imagine them running back and forth to the cheez-it pile all day long to take one cheez-it at a time. however, it's more likely that this had just happened right before i got home and i caught them in the act.

fwiw, they didn't get in trouble for this, it was my fault for leaving the box within their reach. i made max sit by the cheez-it pile for the photo. i was just lucky i caught him licking his lips when i snapped the pic.

Friday, March 06, 2009

Spring time asparagus

if you are an asparagus lover this is just the best time.
We are big time asparagus fans and have it quite often in a variety of of which is the omelet I made recently.

saute up a bit of the tender, fresh asparagus............I like my asparagus a bit crunchy and definitely not mushy.

add the sauted asparagus and some of your favorite cheese that you shredded not that already shredded dry stuff you buy in the market, add that to your eggs and VOILA!!!

Asparagus Omelet

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Zucchini Stir-fry

Zucchini has always fascinated me. Left raw, it leaves me cold and cooked too much, it's mush. For a long time I've made a stir-fry zucchini dish that would go from perfect to the afore mentioned mush in an instant. It has onions, tomatoes, and zucchini cut into slices and I've experimented with many different incarnations.

After eating a similar dish at the Getty Center for lunch last week I came up with what I think is a winner. The squash held up quite nicely and was still nice and firm the next day for lunch.


Two small zucchini squash sliced in 3/4 inch slices
1/2 sweet onion sliced in wedges
1 cup sliced Crimini mushrooms*
1/4 cup pesto without cheese
1 Roma tomato, quartered seeds removed

I made a quick pesto with about a cup of fresh basil, chopped garlic, salt, pepper and enough olive oil to make a paste.
I cut the squash in circles at least 3/4 of an inch wide. This way I could get some "color" on the zucchini without cooking it to death.
I cooked the onions and mushrooms separately, removed them from the pan to saute the squash with the pesto. Then, when it was just barely cooked, I tossed back the onions and mushrooms and quartered Roma tomatoes. This only gets a very quick stir to heat the tomatoes and blend the flavors. Off the heat I tossed in some Parmesan cheese and served.