His Christmas

I got him, among other things, three cooking related Christmas presents.

One: Last year’s bacon edition of The Food Network magazine. We’d borrowed it multiple times from the library and he kept expressing the wish that we had a copy of our own. Wish granted! I managed to get one off Ebay. (We did subscribe to the magazine this fall, so that shan’t happen again.) He managed to guess this one before unwrapping it.

Two: A spherification kit, purchased from Mondernist Pantry LLC off Amazon.com. He’s been looking at this process for several years and now he can give it a try, also, it will tie into the next present. It was very interesting to wrap at it came bag, but I managed. He also, somehow managed to guess what this was, by feeling it out before he unwrapped it. To be fair, I had invited him to try and figure it out.

Three: The Mondernist Cuisine cookbook set. We’ve looked at and discussed this set many times over the years, but it always seemed out of reach. We did acquire the “At Home” version off Amazon after borrowing it from the library many, many times, but then I saw this listed on Craigslist (back in May). It was cheaper then any I’d ever seen and in like new condition, complete with Plexiglas case and kitchen manual . The original owner claimed to have received it from a friend after they learned that he’d spent a summer in the kitchen at Ebulli, but he’d never used it and was moving. His loss was my gain and what a gain, it weighs 50 pounds! I hauled it home and wrapped it right away, there was no occasion befitting such a gift until Christmas and I didn’t want him finding early by accident! Then the waiting began, the interminable waiting….

Fast forward to December, with the help from some friends, I wrapped it again (in such a fashion that it in no way resembled itself. I didn’t want him guessing this one.) and stuck it under the tree. I gave him no hints, besides to confirm that it was indeed something he wanted and that that was not it’s actual shape. He was completely stumped. What could he want that weighed so much?

Christmas Day, we saved it for last (I knew he’d want to spend sometime looking at/into it). When he finally got through all the wrapping to see the set, he was agog. How did I ever manage it? Perfect.

Apple Cider Caramels

Alright, so besides getting a new laptop as an early Christmas present that was determined to have issues, I don’t have a decent excuse for not posting, besides life, there’s been a lot going on, not to mention, as you might have noticed, several holidays… and then, whenever I’d think about posting, all I could think about was how long it had been since my last post and that didn’t spur me towards my computer. However, I’ve renewed the site’s fees for another year, so I shall have to try harder!

Back around Thanksgiving, I made my second ever batch of caramels, this time using a recipe off The Food Network website for Apple Ciders Caramels.

Now, I was slightly hesitant, for my last batch turned out tasty, but harder then I was hoping, so this time around, I watched the thermometer like a hawk, and pulled it off a few degrees early, thinking that maybe the temperature would continue to rise a little after I took it off the heat.

I also lined the pan with parchment paper, which made removing them much easier, though not waiting for them to cool! The nice thing about my apartment being poorly insulated is that things cool off faster then normal. Somehow, I managed to wait an entire day to take them out and try and cut them to see how they were!

Perfect, the exact texture and chew I was hoping for, as well as ever so tasty. I froze some and gave them to the adults in my family for Christmas.  There are still a few pieces hoarded in my freezer, to be slowly enjoyed at a later date. This recipe will definitely be staying around!!

Here are some sights from that day, if only I could included smells….

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I’m back… And I have HP sauce!

Apologies for the lapse in posting, it’s been quiet around here lately.

I read Jamie Oliver’s ‘Comfort Foods’ yesterday and have had to add or to my Amazon wish list. There are many things I’d love to try my hand at in there.

What really intrigued me though, was a condiment he kept referencing “HP sauce”. I’d never even heard of it before! Not had my fiance!

Looked it up, but that’s not the same, so when I had to stop by the local super supermarket today for work, I visited the international aisle. Found it, $5.

Now, the question is, what to taste it on? I’d love some suggestions.

A Tasty Meal

Made a yummy meal the other day. It was supposed to be an after work thing, but I got out late and we made it a weekend dinner instead.

Using the magazine I posted about earlier, I made their weeknight roast chicken, my fiancé loves roast chicken, so I was sure he’d enjoy that part at least. It was simple enough, rinsed it off, coated it with a tablespoon of olive oil, then rubbed it with some salt and pepper and popped it into the oven with a thermometer in the breast.

While it rested once it finished, I fried up some fresh corn and popped the biscuits into the oven. He’d arrived and helped make the pan sauce.

The verdict: Hard to capture on camera, but tasted far better than it looked.

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The biscuits were a tad overdone, but I liked the basic flavor. The fried corn was a new experience for me and I could have lived with a little less pepper. The chicken was perfect (and so simple too)! I shall be making that a lot, he couldn’t stop raving, that’s when I know it’s really good.

Bricco’s – Harrisburg, PA

Last Sunday, he was in an interesting mood, he wanted to go out, but he wasn’t sure where, or what style of food he was hungry for.

We first went to Quaker Steak and Lube, but didn’t stay, there wasn’t anything on the menu we felt we really wanted to try. I was glad for this, the plastic chairs had instantly displeased me and I found the music to be far too loud.

Next, we went to the Carraba’s across the parking lot. This time, we asked to see a menu before being seated and found a few things we thought we might like try. Upon sitting down, we requested bellinis from the waitress, which we were surprised to learn weren’t only on the menu, but she’d never heard of before! As she went to check with the bartender, we realized I’d been given a dirty napkin (though it was wrapped around my silverware, just like the clean one he had). She returned with wine glasses that had a white sparkling wine with (very little) peach schnapps and a strawberry in them, which tasted nothing like a bellini. This didn’t bode well and we were rather disturbed by the napkin, so we left without ordering anything else.

Finally, he decided on Ricco’s in Harrisburg, but they weren’t open for lunch, so we went home to wait for dinner.

We called ahead, but they don’t take reservations.

Arriving, we were seated in a booth and met our server, Mary. He told her that we’d love to let the chef have fun and cook us whatever he felt like. The chef came out to meet us and check our preferences (nothing spicy, I unfortunately can’t handle that). Our only request was an oyster dish of some sort (I love oysters!)

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We moved to the chef’s table(counter)and enjoyed trying to guess what we were going to be eating next. Each course was served with a new wine as well.

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Our first dish was Oyster Rockefeller and it was an amazing start. I’d never had one before and was afraid I’d burn my tongue. So much flavor and interesting textures, I throughly enjoyed that bite!

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Up next was the above salad, my least favorite dish of the night. It had a bitter component that I didn’t care for, but the toasted pine nuts were a lovely note.

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Braised pork belly, warm, moist, meaty and so rich. There was also a tasty glaze.

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Scallops, cooked to perfection, on a bed of corn and tomato salad.

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Duck breast on wild mushroom risotto with a red wine sauce, again, absolutely amazing. No complaints from my tongue.

Dessert was house-made peanut butter truffles with crisped rice inside. This was served with our favorite wine of the evening:

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We liked it better than the chocolate!

All in all a wonderful evening, with great service and amazing food! We left quite happy, and it wasn’t just from all the wine.

Kuddos, Ricco’s, and thanks for such an enjoyable meal.

Meyer Lemons

I found Meyer lemons at the fancy grocery store last week and couldn’t wait till the weekend to turn them into something tasty…it was a long week!

Yesterday was finally the day. I’d decided to try Anne Burrell’s recipe for a ‘Meyer Lemon Curd Tart’. We’ve only ever made one tart before (ala Heston Blumenthal) and it was a long, complicated process, which, in my opinion, wasn’t reflected in the taste. This was part of my apprehension, the other was I only bought a 1 lb. bag and didn’t want to muck it up!

First things first, I blitzed the crust together in my food processor (it was a very moist dough) and put it in the fridge to chill for half an hour. I had several things going in the kitchen yesterday and found plenty to do with that time!

Rolled it out once, but it was so moist that it absorbed the flour and I found it was stuck to the counter. I dusted it liberally with flour, scraped it up and folded it back together, then re-rolled. Much better! This time, I had no issues whatsoever when I tried to roll it around the pin to transfer it onto the tart pan (newly purchased at ‘The Restaurant Store’ for just this occasion) and easily placed, arranged and trimmed it. Trimming was the easiest thing, I simply rolled the pin over the top of the pan, slicing of the extra and getting a nice, uniform edge.

I followed Anne’s instructions to line the shell with foil for baking and poured some of the contents of my coin jar on to that for a “pie weight”, a tip from our first tart experience, though Heston had us use parchment paper, which let the oil from the butter through and I had a fun time getting it back off my coins. Foil worked perfectly, but I think I’ll fold it over the top edge next time, so that it browns a bit more evenly.

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Now for the curd! I had 8 lemons and it took 7 1/2 of the to get the 3/4 C. I needed. I also had to zest three of them, this took the longest, cracking 5 eggs and adding salt and sugar was far quicker. On to the stove, whisking and whisking, paranoid that it might burn.

It was very easy to tell when it had cooked enough, the consistency changed, yes, but the color changed too, so there was no second guessing there, which made me happy. Poured it into the shell and put it into the oven. Let it in for the max time (and as long as I dared!), then pulled it out, though it still seemed a little swimmy.

Now the hard part, letting it cool. Fortunately, I had those other things I mentioned earlier to focus on and didn’t suffer too badly. After 3 hours, during which it had moved out of the kitchen and into the air-conditioned living room, we declared it cool enough and he sliced into it (I was too scared).

Mmmm. It was rather perfect, if I do say so myself, maybe could have baked another 30 seconds, but the flavor, yum, lemon! The texture was good too, smooth and creamy. He liked it too (see below).

First we shared a slice.

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Then he had another.

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Then I had one of my own.

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Then he had one more.

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How do you know when it’s good? When you eat half of it in one sitting!

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Here We Go!

Recently, my fiancè brought this over to my house,

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and I finally got around to looking through it. I am excited to announce that we are going slowly working through the whole thing and cook every recipe, as finances permit. It’s still on sale in stores, so if you want to follow along, you’re in luck!

We won’t be going in order, nor do we have a deadline or rule for how much we’ll get through this week. Also, we may adjust seasonings and such, as I can’t really do spicy hot. But we will be makeing tasty food from the looks of it and might just find recipes to keep for the rest of our lifetime.

Stay tuned!

 

S’mores Cookies

It was my birthday a little while ago and a friend gave me 3 s’mores cookies from a local convenience store, which was perfect, for I was hungry for some good, chocolate, cookies, but didn’t want to bake them or have an abundance to eat later.

They were better than I expected, given their origin, and I thought, if they’re this good from a store, I should be able to make some that are even tastier! Plus, I’d gotten a 6 qt. KitchenAid stand mixer for my birthday and it seemed like the perfect thing for its maiden use.

Found a recipe online that was similar to what I’d eaten, a chocolate cookie with chocolate chips, marshmallow bits, and graham chucks, and set about mixing it up. It said it served 12, but not how many cookies I should expect from it, so I made a triple batch, wanting to have enough for several events over the weekend. It nearly filled my new mixer bowl,  see?

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And it looks so chocolately too!

Used my largest cookie scoop and baked them just until the wet look was gone from the top. They looked good.

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Three batches might have been too many though, I started running out of containters.

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Tasted one, the big moment… They were full of chocolate flavor, no complaints there, but the graham flavor didn’t come through at all. You could see them, but not taste them! The marshmallow could be found, but nowhere near as much as the chocolate.

I’m thinking maybe some sort of graham cookies will add some of the flavor I’m looking for, but I’m stumped on the marshmallows. In the cookies that were given to me, they weren’t as melted, how? Does anyone out there have a tip they’re willing to share? I want to mix them in, not add them on to at the end… please help!