Category Archives: Food Thoughts

Conquering Dough

I’ve always been a cook.  I like to cook.  I like it when the food I make tastes good.  I can also bake, I make good cakes, frosting, brownies, and what have you.  But there is an area in my baking that I have always lacked. Dough.

My dough’s suck.

If it’s a batter, a sauce, or souffle, I can do it. But for some reason anything that is a dough I can’t do it.  So, I’ve been striving to figure it out.

Thanksgiving I decided I needed to figure out pie crust. I did a lot of reading about what goes on to make a good pie crust.  After that I found a recipe that looked promising and I followed it VERY carefully (with other types of cooking I can just kind of throw it together and it works out great, as that had not EVER worked for dough I thought I would try the normal method) and what do you know, I made the BEST pie crust I have ever tasted.  I made pecan pie, my favorite.

Next on my list was rolls.  I can make a passable loaf of bread, if you go for the dense and heavy loaf, but that never flies with rolls. I applied my same method.  Lots of reading on the internet and then carefully following the directions.  They came out good.  Not great, but good.  I tried again last night and I got what I wanted.  They are not the best rolls I’ve ever had, I think Shanan’s rolls hold that title, or maybe Bri’s, but they are good.  Quite good.

Today is pizza dough.  I have the dough shaped and pre-cooked.  I tasted a little bit to get an idea if was going to turn out.  It tastes promising.

Up next, pasta, or maybe biscuits…

Do you have a area of cooking that is a challenge for you?  Do you have any dough recipes I should try?

Egg on my face

So, I learned a few lessons yesterday.  First, you can’t hurry mayo.

I was assigned to make a potato salad for a family dinner last night.  Now with all of the milliontyone things I have attempted to cook in my life, I had never made potato salad for some reason.  So I thought cool, I make something new.  I looked up on the internet a bunch of recipes and got and idea of what to do.  For some reason the day totally got away from me and less then an hour before the party I started to make the potato salad.  Now I know all you potato salad makers out there are laughing at me, but that’s what happened.

So I get into it and I realize I don’t have enough mayo and I think to myself “Self, you can totally just wip up some mayo from scratch, you can make hollendaise sauce and Alfredo no problem, mayo will be a snap.”  Now all of you mayo makers out there are laughing at me as well.

So I look up a recipe really quick, and just start going, I’ve got like 15 minutes before I’m supposed to be at the party so I didn’t take the time to look up and read carefully like I should.  I just threw everything in the blender, sans oil, turned the blender on and started pouring. 

Now I don’t know if my math was bad for tripling the recipe, or if the recipe I grabbed was bad, but the thing NEVER emulsified.  Also, I poured the oil in WAY too fast, and that’s all on me, I knew better.  So it’s all broken and gross.

So then I start looking up ways to fix broken mayo.  They all say add another egg yoke.  So I do…nothing, so I add another…nothing…and another….and another.  At this point I leaning over the blender and getting egg all up in my face while I’m trying to see if it’s finally thickened up.

I gave up.  I grabbed the little bit of mayo I did have and put it in, mixed and ran out the door.  Husband said I should just give it some fancy name and no one would think anything of it. 

I wasn’t going to let mayo beat me in the long run, so the next day I actually took the time to read more carefully how to fix broken mayo.  I was able to make about 1 cup of mayo with only two more eggs.  I still have three cups of eggy oil in my fridge that I need to figure out what to do with…but that’s a different problem.

Best Soup Ever

I like to cook.  I don’t get to really cook very often these days, but when I do I like to try new things.

I have a cook book called ‘Quick and Easy’ by Stephen Knowlden. The thing that it weird about it is half the recipes are quick and easy and half are not.  I mean, any recipe that calls for saffron does not fall in the easy category in my book and when the prep time on a recipe is 6 1/4 hours, I don’t call that quick (to be fair that does include a marinate time, but when a book is named ‘Quick and Easy’ one doesn’t expect to find a recipe like that inside).

Those things aside, I really like the cook book.  The layout is great.  It has a picture of each dish, nutritional information, and difficulty, prep and cook time for every recipe.  The recipes are wonderful.  The dishes are either unusual or twists on a classic.  We really like that in our family, we are adventurous gastronomicaly.

Funny story.  I was at the farmers market, where I try to buy most, if not all, of our produce.  Somehow I managed to wind up with two bags of tomatoes.  I’m not sure if it was because of the little children helpers I had with me or if some poor soul got home without their tomatoes, but  I checked my receipt and I paid for both so I kept them.  I knew I wasn’t going to use them up in time in salad and sandwiches so I decided I would try a soup recipe I’d not made before.  I pulled out my Quick and Easy book and made the ‘The Tomato and Pasta Soup’.

4Tbt unsalted butter

1 large onion, chopped

2 1/2 cups vegetable stock

2 lb italian plum tomatoes, skinned and roughly chopped

pinch of baking soda

8 oz dried fusilli

1 Tbsp sugar

2/3 cup heavy cream

salt and pepper

fresh basil leaves to garnish

Melt the butter in a large pan.  Add the onion and fry for 3 minutes, stirring.  Add 1 1/3 cups vegetable stock to the pan, with the chopped tomatoes and baking soda.  Bring the soup to a boil.  Reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes.

Remove the pan from the head and set aside to cool.  Puree the soup and pour through a fine strainer back into the saucepan.

Add the remaining vegetable stock and the fusilli to the pan, then season to taste with salt and pepper.

Add the sugar to the pan and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat and simmer for about 15 minutes.

Swirl the heavy cream around the surface of the soup and garnish with fresh basil leaves.  Serve immediately.

So, I boiled water and skinned the tomatoes, I chopped them and chopped the onion.  I weighed the fusilli and started the butter melting in a large pot.  I added the onion and went to go get the vegetable stock and realized that we were out.  We had chicken stock and beef broth but no vegetable.  It was eight o’clock at night and the onions were going and I needed to get the stock.  So I said “whatever” and grabbed the chicken stock.  Best mistake ever. The chicken stock added a fullness and a richness to the tomato soup that was just divine!  It was so rich that I left the heavy cream out (which really helped the calorie content!)

The first time I made this the quantity of pasta was too much.  It was more like a pasta and sauce, but it was so great we didn’t care.  The second time I doubled the soup and left the pasta at the same amount.  One thing that the recipe doesn’t specify is that you use that second cooking time to cook the pasta.  The second time I made it I boiled the pasta separately and then added the right amount at the end, not wanting to overwhelm the soup with pasta.  The pasta wasn’t nearly as good without the soup flavor cooked into it.  I’ve tried it with and without the heavy cream; frankly I think with the chicken stock it doesn’t need it, but if you make it with the veggie, it probably would be perfect.

I hope the next time you have a hankering for tomato soup you give this recipe a try.  Let me know if you do.

I made this

 

Earlier this week I got a box of apples from my inlaws.  I was trying to figure out various ways to use up these apples before they went bad.  As I don’t have a root cellar I opted to try a variety of other preservation techniques.  This was the first one I tried.

image

It’s been years since I have done any type of perserving.  The last time was peaches and grape juice with my Dad as a teenager.  And this was the first time I did it by myself.  We tried it out and it tasted quite good.

I only did six jars.  Tonight I’m going to do some more apples, this time Applebutter I think….

Mac and No Cheese

So a few days ago Bubush (my mom) made the girls mac and cheese for lunch.  Peanut apparently saw her put actual cheese into it.  Peanut began to protest loudly.  She was crying and when I finally got her quieted down enough to tell me what the trouble was she said that she was very upset because Bubush put cheese in her mac and cheese and she wanted mac and cheese with NO CHEESE.  I told her that mac and cheese always has cheese in it, but that didn’t help.  Apparently I need to make REAL mac and cheese more often so my kid won’t think that orange powder is real food…

Wow, I talk about Mac and Cheese almost as often as I talk about bacon…or maybe more, I’ll have to check.

Food even my deep fried loving self wouldn’t eat

http://thisiswhyyourefat.com

Mo Bacon

I recently talked about the power of Bacon, so when I came across this I just had to share.

Bacon Lollipops!

Yes folks, you read that right, Bacon Lollipops.

And of course, my all time favorite bacon quote by Mo Roca from Iron Chef…

“We are on our 8th plate of bacon, so if I don’t make it out of kitchen stadium alive, I just want you to know, I really love your Irish Bacon!”