Monday, December 26, 2011

The Christmas Turkey with a Malt-Beer-Brine

Casey adding two cups of salt

Babies, Beer and detergent

One beer for the turkey, two beers for Casey

Initially the Barley Malt Syrup just sat on top

Mixing the syrup in

Turkey cavity filling with liquid goodness

Basting the turkey with glaze

This brining was definitely more successful than the cider brine. Probably mostly due to the fact that it wasn't overcooked. It was, however, a tad more salty than I would have liked. I think it was because I used sea salt instead of kosher salt. No biggie. Everything was fairly unsalty so really it just complemented it. But now the gravy we make from it will be super salty. Hrrm...what to do with that...
The recipe is fairly lengthy so I will link it. Courtesy of Bon Appetit.

Chicken Soup with Chive Dumplings and a Turkey Heart

Our awesomely gelatinous broth

Celery leaves, chives and parsley

Dumpling Batter

The boiled dumplings

Chicken Noodle Soup, complete with Chive Dumplings and a Turkey Heart

My life has forever changed. We made homemade chicken soup and wow....

It was so ridiculously so amazingly good. There will be no more canned chicken soup in my future. Speaking of which, canned soups have a good amount of BPA in them. Just saying...

So this soup was homemade homemade. Casey made the broth that went into this soup and truly, it's what made this soup so amazing. Funnily enough Case got the chicken carcass from work. It was one of those pre-cooked chickens from whole foods they had for a potluck, and he brought the carcass home to make broth. *sigh* I love that man. The turkey heart I added for me, because I love, love, love hearts. We had a turkey we were brining for Christmas and so...I stole it and added it to my soup.

The chicken dumplings recipe I took straight from Bon Appetite.
The soup was our own invention.

1 leek
handful of carrots
2 celery stalks
3 chicken thighs cut into small bite-sized pieces

As part of the dumpling recipe you end up having a pan with butter in it, which we sauteed the leek and celery in. When that is done grab a pot and add the broth, leeks and celery in. Cook for a few minutes, letting the buttery leeks infuse the broth with awesomeness. Than add the carrots, and eventually the chicken. When the soup and dumplings are done put the dumplings in the bottom of a bowl and ladle the soup over them.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Oatmeal Cookies

 Ahh, Oatmeal cookies. I made these per Casey's request. Cookies for me go flat, flat, flat in the oven. I usually get a thin, crispy, square cookie sheet by the time it's done. They generally taste good but look horribly unappealing. So I started did my foodgawker search with keywords "chewy" and came up with this fabulous recipe from Piece of Cake.

I was skeptical at first. I can be a snob about certain ingredients that have a bad rep, or ingredients I don't much about, so I have refused to cook with shortening. It seems, I admit, unnatural. I have some misguided notion that when they made cookies back in the day they didn't have shortening so I shouldn't have to use it now. But they made it in 1869. Did they make cookies before 1869?? Surprisingly the Chocolate Chip Cookie was created in 1930. 

So I did a little research and while it may not be the best thing for you, it is the magic ingredient that has been missing from my past. Since butter has a low melting point and a higher water content than shortening, cookies made with butter have tend to go flatter. Plus I can't say no to a recipe that was handed down from somebody's Grandmother. I mean, really? I'll take someone's grandmothers recipe over a famous chef's any day. So click on the link above and give a try. They turned out perfect!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Apple Frangipane Bites and New Years Resolutions

I am anti-New Years Resolutions. There is a reason people don't usually keep them. 
I usually make some vague, Be Better! Do Better! statement but I don't think I ever come up with anything specific. I do something like, 'I'm going to rock next year!' It doesn't ever really go anywhere. 

I feel like I am in a constant state of improving myself. It's exhausting. Maybe I should make goals like: 'I'm going to relax this year.' I just recently read an article that eating out is slowly becoming cheaper than eating in, since food costs are soaring. Maybe my goal should be to save money, by eating out more often. Wow! I think I found a resolution I can keep. I hope Casey won't mind. 
Though in all seriousness I have made a goal to stop drinking, and am in fact bringing in the New Year sober. I plan on buying the most ridiculously expensive heirloom, organic, over-the-top sparkling cider that I can find for the evening! 

Almond Flour and Sugar being mixed with eggs

Sugared and Cinnamoned Apples 

Before Cooking

After Cooking

I made a huge error in this recipe and somehow it still turned out okay. I've mentioned before that baking isn't quite my thing. I have come to realize that I am not a good baker but a lucky baker. I can apparently leave out butter from a recipe and still have it turn out fine.
I know this because I made two batches. Once I realized that I had forgotten the butter in the first batch I added it in the second and the taste/flavor was very comparable.

Apple and Frangipane Bites
Adapted from Bake List
Makes 30 small cups

30 Frozen pre-made, pre-baked pastry cups.

2/3 thirds of a Granny Smith apple, thinly sliced and cut into small pieces
White Sugar
Brown Sugar
Dash of cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp. flour

Toss all ingredients together in a small bowl. Use equal parts brown and white sugar, enough to lightly coat the apples.

1/2 c. almond flour, lightly toasted
2 Tb. all purpose flour
1/2 c. white sugar
pinch of kosher salt
2 eggs
3 Tb. unsalted butter, room temp

Whisk together first four ingredients. Add butter. Add eggs.


Fill the cups with apple pieces and slowly add the frangipane on top, let it settle to the bottom and add more if needed. Bake for 20 minutes at 400. Keep an eye on it, make sure the edges don't start to burn!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Zucchini Casserole

Admittedly I have no idea if this is good or not, I am a little nervous. I wish I had remembered to bake a small dish of this on the side so I could try it, but now it would look a little suspicious if I came over with this dish, a spoonful gone. Could I blame it on Batcat? Either way it is filled with awesome ingredients so, it can't be horrible right?

Zucchini Casserole
Inspired by Danielle

1 1/2 lb. Zucchini, sliced
3/4 c. cheese (I used the rest of my nice parmesan and some mexican pre-shredded mix)
1/3 c. bread crumbs (I had some leftover rosemary panko, hopefully it won't overpower the dish)
1/2 onion, chopped
2 beaten eggs
Two overflowing Tb. of mayo

Preheat oven to 350. Boil zucchini 5-7 minutes until tender. Drain. Add rest of ingredients saving a handful of breadcrumbs and a handful of cheese. Add zucchini mixture to casserole dish. Mix leftover breadcrumbs and cheese together. Sprinkle on top of casserole.
Bake for 30 minutes or until slightly golden on top.
I just happened to have some flavored Panko lying around but if you are using plain breadcrumbs as the recipe calls for I would add some flavor like parsley and thyme.

Apple Cupcakes

Adapted from What the Fruitcake?!

3 Tb. room temp unsalted butter
3/4 c. unsweetened apple sauce
1/3 c. sugar
1/4 c. brown sugar
1 egg, room temp
1 c. flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
assorted spices (cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, allspice, etc.)
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/8 tsp. salt

Preheat oven to 350. Line muffin tin with cupcake liners (they must be cute). In large mixing bowl combine sugars and butter until fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla extract. In small bowl mix dry ingredients. Beat in 1/3 of flour mixture until just combined, add half the applesauce, 1/3 of the flour, half the applesauce and the last 1/3 of the flour, mixing in each in between.
Fill your liners, and bake for 18-20 minutes, until toothpick comes out clean.

I tried to make a buttercream, I really did. Thank god I happened to have some pre-made Pillsbury cream cheese frosting on hand. Not the best stuff I know, but it worked. I added applesauce and vanilla to it, just to make a little bit different.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Stuffed Chicken with Sauteed Kale and Chard

This is a pretty awesome way to make chicken. It stays incredibly moist and it is fairly light on flavor. I take a chicken breast and cut it in the middle, stuff it with whole cherry tomatoes, basil and parmesean.

The twine is probably overkill, but what the hell. I drizzle olive oil, salt, pepper and little water and cook covered at 350 for 30minutes. Than I uncover it a cook it until it is done. I had a deadline to meet so I bumped it up to 375 and it was done in 15 minutes.

For the kale and chard. Derib kale and chard, rinse. Cut up a whole lot of garlic and some shallot if you happen to have some on hand. Heat olive oil, garlic and shallot in pan until soft, 3-4 minutes (I may have added a little butter ;). Add kale and chard. Cook until desired softness.

Though I used a lot of garlic for the kale and chard, it lacked a certain flavor. Maybe a little lemon juice?? The stuffed chicken was great though, and so easy to make. So moist and tender. I've made it once before. I like stuffing things in general though, it's like finding a present inside a dead animal. Does it get any better than that? No, I don't think so. :)

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Flambéed Banana Split

You can never go wrong with setting your dessert on fire. This dessert was definitely spur of the moment. I wasn't even that hungry. I just wanted to set something on fire. And so I did..
I made crepe suzette in high school as a project for cooking class. I needed some special written consent form to bring in liquor. I can't believe they let me do that. Here I was giving a presentation to my entire class and I chicken out when it comes to lighting the match, I asked my teacher to do it. *sigh* Not my best moment. But truly, setting something on fire is a little frightening. I mean I held a match to a pan of boiling liquid that bursts into flame. I don't have that fancy long-stemmed lighter or anything, no sir. Just a fucking match and my hand. Wow, am I starting to sound like a pussy or what? You should just try it.

So as I was saying, I wasn't hungry, just bent on burning something, but I ate this dessert and enjoyed it. Sooo good. It doesn't hurt that it was boozy. And yeah, I'm talking besides the alcohol that burnt (which is just sad).
I can't remember if I had previously mentioned the fact that I infused pear vodka and kept the mushy pears. I mean it's kind of ridiculous to infuse pear vodka for three weeks just for the mush to make an ice cream use whatever you fancy. Or if you are in the area call me, I have a ton!

Flambéed Banana Split
Serves 1

1 Tb. Mushy Vodka Infused Pears
1 Tb. Pear Vodka
1 Tsp. Caramel
1 Banana
1 tsp. butter
1 Scoop Vanilla Ice Cream
Pinch of Cinnamon

Mix first three ingredients together. Spread on a pretty plate in a nice shallow puddle. Slice banana in half lengthwise, and again in half, perpendicular. Melt butter in pan on medium-high heat, add pinch of cinnamon. Add bananas, get that nice browning going and add the booze and light it on fire! Turn off the heat, add scoop of vanilla ice cream to pear-vodka-caramel puddle add bananas on top of that. Seriously this good. Good. So Good.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Theo Cocoa Nibs Brownies


Butter, Cocoa Bits and Nibs

My favorite powdered chocolate, it reminds me of my dad

The melted butter and chocolate

Add some heat and enjoy!

I've never made homemade brownies before. Personally, I think the boxed variety are pretty good so I've always picked those up from the store when the brownie craving strikes. There are so many things you can do to make them a little different too. I'm thinking matcha or ginger next time I make them. The recipe calls for semi-sweet chocolate but I used bitter, dark chocolate all the way. I usually cut the sugar in recipes in half but I didn't in this case because of the dark chocolate. Still, I definitely could have cut out sugar, it was sweet but not overwhelmingly so. The cocoa nibs don't completely melt and they an an awesome (awesome!) texture to the brownies that I was very pleased with. It's a little hard on my braces. Any small crunchy thing is bound to get stuck in my teeth, but it's worth it. I just chew very cautiously.

Adapted from Real Simple

1/2 c. unsalted butter plus more for pan
3/4 c. all purpose flour
1/4 c. unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
6 oz. unsweetened chocolate chips (I used the rest of my Ghirardelli unsweetened baking chocolate chips, maybe 4 oz. and the rest was Theo's Cocoa Nibs)
1 c. sugar
2 large eggs
2 tsp. vanilla extract

Pre-heat oven to 350. While it's pre-heating, melt butter and semisweet chocolate (I don't have a microwave, which is what the recipe calls for, so I just stuck it in my pre-heating oven). Remove from oven and let cool a bit.
Butter 8 inch square pan.
In medium bowl combine flour, baking powder, cocoa powder and salt.
Add eggs, sugar and vanilla to melted butter and chocolate.
Add flour mixture, don't overmix.
Pour batter into buttered square pan.
Bake 30-25 minutes. (I wish I had cooked for less, resulting in undercooked brownies :)