Monday, March 10, 2008

Daring to Dream...

A fairly new ktchen is almost a reality... included are a double convection oven, a kitchen island, a side-by-side fridge, and additional cabinets and counter space...

All I need is my landlord's approval, and I will have this....

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Relax...

I love many of my Thursdays. I call them Fake Fridays, as I have the next day off. I get home, finally, after some minor disturbance regarding my car's state of repair, pulling into my driveway in the rental car. My friend L is coming over soon, and I'm expecting the Nino, and E is about to arrive. I've put out a cheese plate, and have some potstickers out and ready to heat up in the frying pan. The door bell rings, and it's the Nino and Grandma C, wanting to know if he can stay over there for the night.

I start to prepare the hummus I need to make for this week. Much of my cooking is by feel, ideas coalescing from various sources. Maybe it's from a cookbook, or something I saw on the Food channel, or perhaps something I saw on another blog. I love my cookbooks, but unless it's the art of baking, rarely do I use recipe. Often, whatever's in the pot somewhat resembles my meal: eclectic, flavorful, and often dictated by what's lying around.

So, my "hummus," or as I say, Garbonzo Spread Stuff. If you are expecting that tahini, hummus-y taste, you might be disappointed. It's like carob... if you want something tasty, it rocks, but if you're looking for a substitute... well it isn't :) BUT my hummus-stuffing friend L said she loved it. I'm sorry that I can't give you exact amounts, the ones I list are guesses as far as herbs and such go...

Garbonzo Spread Stuff-

1 can garbonzo beans ( about 2 1/2 inches in diameter... not very good with the ounces stuff either)
4 cloves garlic ( probably why L likes it so much.)
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/4 teaspoon curry
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt- add more to taste
1/4 cup olive or grape seed oil (oh, the blasphemy! But grape seed was all I had tonight)

Put the can contents, beans, water, and all into a small frying pan or a larger sauce pan, and bring to a low boil. Just enough for thing to look exciting. While this is heating up, crush the garlic cloves open with the flat of a knife or a water glass, then rough chop into a few pieces. It doesn't need to be fancy, 'cause it's all going in a blender in the end. Toss these in the pan and stir things up a bit.

Then add your spices, order absolutely does not matter. Curry blend doesn't matter either, as long as you can smell that cumin. If you can't, add a pinch of cumin too. After this, add as much paprika and salt as tastes good, but be careful...it does not take much since you used all of that great salty bean juice from the can! Cook until garlic is soft, adding water as necessary to keep things from getting dry.

After the garlic has gone completely soft, you're ready for the blender. My son has a Magic Bullet blender that he graciously allows me to use (it was a Christmas present from Grandma L) and it works wonderfully for this. Anyhoo, pour the oil into the blender, add about half of the beans and all of their pan juices (yum!), and about another 1/4 cup of water. Blend until smooth. Add the rest of the beans, and more water if the consistency is not correct. When it's all smooth and has the texture you want, dump it into a container and grab those peppers!

SO next on my list was chicken and baked potatoes. Someday, dear friends, I will remember to take at least blurry, ill-light pictures of what I'm making... but it's all put away now. I even washed all of the dishes! I'm a big fan of baking meat in foil packets. It's perhaps the most wasteful part of my cooking :( I try to make big batches to make up for this un-eco habit. SO, after putting a large sheet of heavy duty foil on a large cookie sheet I put the following in it:

3 large Franken-chicken breasts- about 2.5-3 pounds (yikes!)
3 cloves garlic, squashed out of their skins and chopped into about 4 pieces each
A solid sprinkling of paprika
Sprinkling of oregano, salt and pepper.

Preheat your oven to 350 F

Fold the edges of the foil together and place the Giant Chicken Packet in the middle of the baking sheet. Around the edges I put 4 wrapped potatoes that were just stabbed by a fork a few times to make sure they didn't blow up. I also though about little packets of carrots, but by this time the week was falling away from me, and I'd had a few potstickers and a glass of wine... so I didn't care about carrots anymore. I was in "relax" mode with a very good friend! Put into the oven for 60-80 minutes or until you handy little thermometer reads 180 F in the thickest part of the chicken breast.

After chicken, (and potstickers, and edamame, and cheese and crackers) I was stuffed. I was failing to remember basic things, it was so good. Now I'm failing to remember what I meant to type, so I'm sure that means I should go to bed and get lots of sleep. That way, when they tell me at the dentist's that I need another root canal, I have a bigger context to relate to *grin*

Anyhoo, thanks for reading and I hope you al have a great day!

Love,
-e

Mixed Emotions

I am this clost to getting a new KitchenAid mixer...

I am clutching my Bed Bath and Beyond 20% coupon tightly...

Oh if only they had the one I want....


In other news, my son's school has one of the coolest projects EVER! They found a company that will publish a book by each child FREE OF CHARGE! Oh yes, that's right. And guess what we're gonna do? That's right... a cookbook. And we can cheat, as long as we scan it in *grin* so I can use my Photoshop and teach the Nino how to play with pixels, and we get a great book in the process.

I hope we can order extra, because the grandparents are gonna looooove this!

-e

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Dorie Greenspan

OK, so I'm trolling through the Daring Baker's Blogroll, and admiring all of these VERY talented blogger/bakers, and feeling very ashamed/embarrassed by my apparent lack of blog savvy. Wow, do I have a lot to learn!

Around the B's, I come across Marye's contest for a new tagline! Oh, and hearing Dorie Greenspan's name littered across 20-some blogs helped in this too. Because that is one of the prizes that Marye, of Baking Delights, is offering up for spreading the good word about her contest. Dorie's Paris Sweets cookbook! She is very keen on getting responses!

So here I am, with 4 minutes left on the battery, fitfully, frantically complying with the requirements for such a beautiful book!

Alright... 1 minute to spare....

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Bread!!!!! French Bread!!!!

It's the end of a looong three... no four...wait... nope 5 days that I've been hacking the Lung Twins out in small pieces. When I laugh, I sound like that wheezy dog Mugsley from 1970's Cartoon Land. It's guaranteed to crack my son up every time he hears it. Cracks me up to, which results in more Mugsley-wheezes.

But at long last I have resurrected myself to put up pictures of my loverly French Bread from February's Daring Baker's Challenge! And what better challenge in the Month of Love than the staff of life itself?

So....

First in this adventure comes the kneading. All truly good bread in kneaded, then left to sit to develop all the wheaty goodness. BUT the original makers of French Bread must've been angry bakers indeed, as the process of kneading involves literally slapping the dough on on the counter, roll it over, whirl it through the air, and slam it down AGAIN, over and over for several minutes.

Such angry, angry, bakers. After many many angry kneads, the dough begins to soften, and slowly becomes a glossy, velvety ball of silkyness.

After the rest, and the second kneading, it begins to look something like this:



Pretty, huh? Doesn't it look like the cutest thing nestled in that gingham kitchen towel? It's inspired me to make many bread towels out of gingham, and I have the perfect duvet cover to re-purpose for it :) Here's another picture of it when it's all risen and pretty:



After the rising and and the deflating and the rising again, it's time to shove it in the oven again. I went with the 1/4 cup in the cookie sheet method of steaming the oven. I forgot to turn down the oven after I tossed the water in the pan, so my bread came out a wee dark,

But it was still very, very tasty. In the background, you can see the whole wheat versions ready for their turn in the oven. I think I'll modify the recipie a bit, using a scotch more yeast, and definitely less salt. It was surprising how salty the wheat bread was! ON the plus side, the wheat version was much easier to shape.

The bread got rave reviews from the Nino and everyone else, and was promptly gobbled up. So overall, it was a fantastic success, and I'd say it's something I'd be willing to have a go at again once I figure out how to fit the 2 and three hour rising times into my schedule.

Now.... on to the next challenge-

-erikai