Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Pumpkin Apple Rum Muffins

Cinnamon, Nutmeg, Clove on White Cake Mix

I heart Rum

Apples on Bottom

Cake Mix


This recipe adapted from Little Bitty Bakes. My adaptation was substituting 1/3 cup of water for rum. I also added 1/2 tsp. of vanilla extract. They took awhile to bake, I am thinking my oven leaks a lot of heat.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Cheese, Beet and Apple Tarts

Mise en place


Cutting out the Tarts

What to do with the scraps?

Goat Cheese and a slice of Mt. Townsend Creamery's Seastack cheese

Add the spinach

Layer on Apples and Beets


A little EVOO goes a long way

Finally a success! Simple recipe but with quality ingredients. Since I love all things Halloween and Autumn I purchased Martha Stewart's Halloween issue as soon as it hit the shelves. I found this recipe and made a few adjustments. Instead of the white cheddar I used goat cheese that I already had and I used the rest of my Seastack from Mt. Townsend Creamery. Which, by the way, is an awesome cheese. I can't wait to try their Off Kilter which is made with Pike Brewing's Kilt Lifter Scotch Ale, which is an awesome beer. Did I really just say Awesome Cheese and Awesome beer?? Damn straight, it's just that awesome. If you have this cheese in your store, get it. Back to the recipe...I also had spinach lying around so I added that. In first picture you see there is zucchini on my cutting board which I meant to add, but forgot. As for my puff pastry woes I stabbed the pastry with a fork and it seemed to work just fine. No excavating for me today. Also, a mandolin is super helpful here. 
Did I like these tarts? Absolutely! I would have liked a little more cheese but still good. Case doesn't like beets so these six are all for me!

Goat Cheese, Beets and Apple Tarts
Makes 6 Tarts a little bigger than my palm

1 sheet frozen puff pastry
2 beets, peeled, sliced
1 apple, sliced
1/4 c. goat cheese (maybe less)
Handful of Spinach

Thaw puff pastry according to package directions. Preheat oven to 400. Cut out desired shape. If I could do it again I would have made squares, I wasted puff pastry making circles. Stab with fork, sprinkle with cheese, than spinach, than beets and finally apples on top. Salt + Pepper. Bake until edges are golden brown 13-15 minutes. Drizzle with Olive Oil. Eat hot or room temp and enjoy. 

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Hate-filled Bourbon Peach Hand Pies

Making a Mess (from another dish)

Butter makes everything okay

Bourbon Peach filling

Stuffing my hand pies

Hate tastes good

I was sitting on my kitchen floor, bawling. I wanted to have these little hand pies ready by a certain time so I rushed it and it was a disaster. One too many disasters.
From the beginning!

The other day I wanted to do a puff pastry pie. The bottom of the crust never, ever fully cooks, not even when I reheat it. So with a little research I tried to er...I don't remember if it has a particular name, par baking, blind baking? Anyways, I was going to pre-bake it using weights to keep the dough from rising. Rice or beans were suggested. Hrrm, I had heard of using beans but not rice, so I gave rice a try. Ugh, stick to what you know. Puff Pastry is awesome because of it's flakiness, and rice is small and gets into those tiny nooks and crannies. I was like a damn archeologist that day, excavating my puff pastry with a pastry brush, sweeping away the rice. Eventually it all worked out. There were a select few bites that were crunchier than they should have been but I still call it a success. Either way, big mess. Rice everywhere! I thought the whole experience a bit funny, learning, humbling, whatever.

Than there was that Upside-down apple pie from the previous post where I over-cooked it, I ended up throwing half of it away, too dry.

For the Peach Pies I find this fabulous recipe from Use Real Butter. I am excited to give baking another try even though making dough/pastry scares me. I start all wrong, I freeze the butter and flour for only a half hour. I don't have a pastry cutter but had found previous success in using two knives, not so much this time. Hard work and with little results. I end up using my hands to 'cut' in the butter but obviously I know the heat from hands is making the butter melt, so I am already frustrated at this point, thinking that my pies will fail. I mix the wet ingredients and my dough turns out much too wet. Did I over measure the sour cream? I only refrigerate my dough for a half-hour (if that) and I flour my work surface like crazy since my dough is so damn wet. When I roll out my dough it keeps on sticking to the counter. So I end up folding it few times (a good thing?) but this is still taking way longer than I want it to. I over stuff my pies and when I fold the dough over there are huge gaping holes that I frantically patch up with my left-over dough.

I can laugh at it now but at the time I just felt like I was a mess, and I was. I had flour all over the front of black shirt and pretty much everywhere else in the kitchen. My sink was filled with the dishes I had used for the pie adding to the general chaos. I just broke down. I thought about the money and time that goes into baking and how I was going to have to throw this away. I hate wasting. I was convinced I was a shitty baker. And I am (kind of). I could be a good baker if I just took the time to do things right and have the right equipment. I know that cooking is an art and baking is a science but sometimes I seem to want to ignore that.

Case finds me in the kitchen like this, hears the whole story, and tells me that if I put hate into my baking than I will get hate-filled pies. So there you go. Hate-filled Bourbon Pies. Verdict? Hate tastes pretty good. We had a pie before dinner, I had one after dinner and for breakfast this morning. I like them. :)

Monday, September 12, 2011

Woodinville Weekend

Morning Cinnamon Buns
Sweet Bread with Raspberries?
Pear Tart for Dessert
Case and I recently took advantage of a GroupOn to spend the night in Woodinville in a French country inn. I was a little skeptical at first. We spent a lot of time at B & Bs in Ireland and it's not that they were bad, but there is something different, as compared to a hotel, with spending the night at a B & B. It's someone's home! And no matter how much they welcomed me, I still felt like I was trespassing ever so slightly. This place however, wow! I think Inn definitely fits more than B & B even if it was someone's home. It was beautiful and the food that Nancy made was scrumptious, fresh and homemade. If you are ever staying in Woodinville Auberge, Edge of Seattle is definitely worth going to.
As for Woodinville, we didn't end up doing a single wine tasting, ah-ha. We did an awesome Mead tasting at Adytum Cellars, and a Grappa tasting at Soft Tail Spirits, where I ate a chocolate covered espresso bean and knocked a bracket off my tooth, which I have to go in today (hopefully!) and fix. And than it was on the Purple Cafe for good eats and finally some wine.
It was a lovely weekend with Case!

The camera was purchased on friday!! The pictures posted here are from it. So far I just have the kit lens, 18 - 55mm f/3.5 - 5.6, and it's working for me fine. Woohoo!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011


Making a mess!

I love autumn. I love the transitional phase into winter as our days get shorter and our nights longer. I love the comfort foods (and so do my braces!), hot chocolate, rum apple cider, spiced wine, a fire in our fire place, holidays, fall colors. To me autumn feels warmer than summer. Emotionally, physically, spiritually. No, really, I'm actually being serious. The warm colors, hot beverages, blanket snuggling and well-wishes warm me from the inside out. Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas and finally the big-bang of New Years. A lot of introspection goes on in this time and it culminates in this fiery burst of energy on New Years where you get drunk enough to forget all of your resolutions, or you remember but are too hung over to get your ass to the gym. (I say this because resolutions should be made!)
Summer in Seattle is so fleeting. I enjoy it while it is here but it's so...short. The food in summertime tends to be the same. You get a bag of blueberries and you have to hurry up to eat it before it goes bad. Don't get me wrong, I appreciate the bumber crop that summer brings. I love the fruit, the salads, the fresh fruity bursting flavors of summer, but it just so happens that the heartiness of fall/winter foods is really what appeals to me. I love making huge batches of chili to eat during the week, I love the butter and the cream and the fat, the kale and the squashes, and don't even get me started on pumpkin. When autumn comes around I feel more connected to the...oh...I'm going to say it...EARTH. It's true. Autumn is just so damn seasonal to me. I can't wait to post pictures of my homemade apple cider!
If there is one thing I would like to improve with my cooking it would be to cook more seasonally. I know I feel out-of-touch with shopping at grocery stores. I never know what is in season and what isn't. I have a pretty good clue, but for a lot of things I don't know. (Is there a season for mushrooms?) So, I picked up a seasonal cooking book from our awesome library. Let's hope it's worth a damn. :)

In other news I will be picking up a brand-new Nikon D3100 this Friday, provided they are still in stock! I am hoping to improve my photography skills (though I realize the camera won't help). It's painfully embarrassing to see a lot of my earlier pictures. I thought I was hot shit with my arrogantly named 'study in mushrooms' (I'm not even linking it). Blarg. But with recent research I am seeing things in a much different light (haha). It's a slow process, but a lot of fun getting to where I want to be.

As for this meal, I had some leftover buttermilk from the apple cake, so I marinated a chicken breast in buttermilk, garlic powder, parsley, cayenne, thyme. Dredged it flour, egg and panko and pan fried it. I am sure it would have turned out fine but I don't have any patience so I started messing with the chicken instead of just letting sit and the bread crumb-crust started falling off. Oops. But it was tasty anyways. Some of it just fell off into the mashed potatoes and added some texture.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Grilled Turkey Sandwich, Lentil Salad

Last minute lunch that was thrown together. The Lentil Salad was actually made a few days ago, I juts topped it with feta. Probably one of my favorite things to make as the longer it sits in the fridge (within reason) the more the flavors develop. It's essentially my Tabbouleh but with 1 cup dry green lentils and feta. I also used shallot instead of red onion.
The sandwich was a surprise. Case and I found a delicious Basil Pesto Hummus, it's got some kick! So I had that hummus, mayo, green pepper, turkey, tomato, fresh ground salt, pepper and some Sriracha (which I am totally crazy for!). I coated the wich with my garlic olive oil. So damn good, and simple.

Cast Iron Apple Upside Down Cake

This recipe was taken from The Hazel Bloom. Pretty wonderful cake. I love me some sugar, but I tend to make my desserts with fruit with less sugar than called for since the fruit adds a lot of sweetness. There is something about adding a ton of sugar to fruit that seems....unnecessary. So of the 3/4 c. of sugar required, I added maybe a little over a 1/4, and the cake was still super sweet. I accidently burned some of the brown sugar (oops), and so I ended up removing some of that too, and it was still perfectly sweet. I also used whole wheat flour.
I may have over cooked it a bit, but I still enjoyed it. And it was so easy to make that I will definitely do it again.

The next day I topped my cake with whipped cream and a rum caramel sauce.