Thursday, February 19, 2009

Little child

Are you getting ready for Mardi Gras? Here in Thathouse we most certainly are. We've very excited for next Tuesday and have our plans already in place. We're going to be very tired Wednesday morning.

It may be hard to believe, but I've never been to New Orleans. I know, it's a shocker. Especially if you know my love for cajun food. Instead I know the best cajun restaurants in town and use my kitchen to fill in the rest.

When I saw the Creole soup I couldn't wait to try it. And what better than the week before Mardi Gras. And stay tuned for after the main event for the gumbo recipes. I'm honestly so thankful for the timing of these recipes given that it's been cold here. Soups are perfect. Soups with some creole flair? Even better.

Unfortunately, this soup did not live up to my expectations. It's bascially a tomato soup with horseradish. And frankly, if I'm going for ome New Orleans/Creole heat, I tend to use something other than horseradish. Cayenne, cajun spices, tabasco......The horseradish never fully got blended into the soup - if you look, you can see the little white horseradish dots. I would definitely recommend leaving it out and using cayenne or tabasco instead.

Creole Soup (From The Fannie Farmer Cookbook)
  • 2 Tbsp bacon fat
  • 2 Tbsp finely chopped green pepper
  • 2 Tbsp finely chopped onion
  • 2 Tbsp flour
  • 1 cup chopped tomatoes
  • 3 cups beef stock
  • 1/8 tsp ground pepper
  • 1 Tbsp horseradish
  • 1/2 tsp vinegar
  • salt
  1. Heat the bacon fat in a pot, add the green pepper ad onion, and cook slowly for 5 minutes.
  2. Stir in the flour and cook for 2 or 3 minutes, then stir in the tomatoes and stock or bouillon.
  3. Simmer for 15 minutes.
  4. Strain and add remaining ingredients.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Ain't No Lie

Align CenterThis soup had a lot to live up to, being that it was a pumpkin soup and I am queen of the pumpkin. Pumpkins and squashes just make the best soup bases and I love to take advantage of that fact year round. Plus pumpkin is excellent for Thatdog's digestion, so we always have some in the house.

To be fair, although this soup will obviously be compared to my other pumpkin soup recipes, it didn't have to try too hard to please. The benefit of loving pumpkin is that I'm pretty much happy with any pumpkin recipe.

Like the rest of the soups I have made so far, this was much less thick and creamy than I was expecting. It seems like FF is well aware that it's too early in the year to ditch those New Year's Resolutions. And besides, the beauty of pumpkin is that it kinda works as its own thickener, so this was almost thick enough for me. I would probably throw it in the blender or food processor next time to push it right into the "thick enough" realm without having to add anything. I float some cream on the top anyway (whip it first, but don't add sugar and it'll stay lovely and floaty on the top) to add some creaminess.

Pumpkin Soup (From The Fannie Farmer Cookbook)
  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 1 Tbsp flour
  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • 2 cups pumpkin puree
  • salt and pepper
  1. Saute the onions with the butter in the bottom of a heavy, large saucepan over low heat until soft.
  2. Sprinkle in the flour; stir and cook 2-3 minutes.
  3. Gradually add the chicken broth whisking thoroughly, then the pumpkin puree, ad cook gently about 15 minutes.
  4. Salt and pepper to taste.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Tell me the answer

What do you think of when you think of cheese soup? Probably something creamy and thick. This is not the cheese soup you think of, but I think it must be a lot healthier because of the lack of cream/thickness.

Today was an excellent day. Thatboy and I learned all about trepanation (Do not click this link if you have a weak stomach). I got a great opportunity AND found out that a Red Mango has opened in my neighborhood shopping center.

The weather is cold and rainy, and these soups are just the perfect way to end the day. Because this is a broth based soup, it doesn't leave you with that heavy feeling, and the crazy color is actually due to paprika and not the cheese (I used a gorgeous white English cheddar).

Cheese Soup (From The Fannie Farmer Cookbook)
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 1 Tbsp finely chopped onion
  • 1 Tbsp flour
  • 1 cup beef stock
  • 2 cups milk
  • 3/4 cup grated cheddar cheese
  • 2 tsp paprika
  1. Melt the butter in a pot, add the onion, and cook slowly until limp.
  2. Stir in the flour and continue to cook for 3 minutes, stirring.
  3. Slowly add the seasoned stock and milk, and heat to the boiling point, stirring frequently.
  4. Stir in the cheese and paprika and whisk until the cheese has melted and the soup is very hot.

Monday, February 16, 2009

In a special way

My graduating class in college was 30 people. We were a very close knit bunch because there were so few of us and everyone knew everything about each member of the class. So when N and L- roommates, decided they wanted to lose some weight by going on the cabbage soup diet - we all knew about it. Now I can't vouch for whether the diet actually worked, like most of the girls in my program, N and L really didn't need to lose any weight. However, I can tell you the side effects of the cabbage soup diet were not pleasant, and when there are only 30 people in your program, it's not very considerate of others either.

The entire experience turned me off of the idea of cabbage soup and so I'm sure you won't be surprised when I tell you that I got nervous when I noticed the next soup recipe was for beet and cabbage soup. It doesn't help that I'm not exactly a beet fan either. But I'm a solider - I forged ahead anyway.

And I am very glad I did. This soup was fantastic from step one. We begin with the gorgeous color. We continue with the amazing taste. Thatboy had three bowls of this, and then got mad at me when I ate the leftovers the next day. I may very well be a beet convert. Although I like keeping them in a simple soup, I'm still a little nervous about eating them on their own.

And this soup is so filling, I can definitely imagine how the cabbage soup diet would work. There's almost nothing bad in this soup at all so you don't need to feel guilty after consuming bowls and bowls. Frankly, if I had to eat this soup every day I think I would be quite the happy camper!

Cabbage and Beet Soup (From The Fannie Farmer Cookbook)
  • 1 qt beef stock
  • 2 cups peeled and diced raw beets
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 cups coarsely chopped cabbage
  • ground pepper
  • 2 Tbsp cider vinegar
  1. Put the stock, beets, onion, and cabbage in a soup pot.
  2. Bring to a boil, lower heat, and simmer, partially covered, replacing any liquid that evaporates with additional stock or water.
  3. Simmer for about 30 minutes or until the beets are tender. Season with pepper and vinegar.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

With Love

I hope you all had a fantastic Valentine's Day! As usual we celebrated by doing some of our favorite things, which reminds me to be thankful we live where we do. Everyday I discover something new and wonderful about our area, or am reminded of another fantastic hidden gem. Some things I love about our area that I discovered or reconnected with this weekend:
  • Strawberry Boba in my milk tea. Flavored boba is so much better than the regular kind.
  • The insane amount of gourmet chocolate shops. Handmade artisan chocolate is lurking around every corner.
  • Secret local restaurants. There's a place we go that we both love, but it's a bit off the beaten path and very much a "locals only" kind of place. If you don't live in our neighborhood, you've probably never even heard of it. And we kinda like it that way.
  • Our own mini-Epcot! Without the lines and high prices, but still with international food and fun.
  • The best local bread. Perfect for our all soup all the time diet.
  • French patisseries with tea and macarons. This one really doesn't need explanation, does it?
  • Streets of used book stores. Loads of books at fractions of the price.
  • Fantastic theater
  • local art and artists
And I'm thankful to be moving on to the heavier soup recipes. Soups that really are a meal in themselves. Except when I saw that the first recipe was cream of asparagus. Raise your hand if you see the problem here. Yes - you in the back - with the black shirt. A little louder please, those of us in the front can't quite hear you. Yes, that's right - I don't do asparagus. Which means, instead you will be treated to a cream of broccoli soup. Mmmmmmmm.

This is probably a good time to talk to you a little bit about "cream of" soups. In general, we don't do them in Thathouse. With the exception of cream of tomato I'm not a user of cream of crap soups. Frankly, I'm not even quite sure what they put in them, but I'm tempted to believe it's not food. Which means I have turned away quite a number of recipes calling for cream of - chicken, celery, mushroom.....However, this is nothing like it's canned cousins. Perfect on it's own, but also fabulous for anything you might have previously used the can for. And I can guarantee the quality of the ingredients. Fresh cream, fresh veggies, and that stock you've all got stored up in the fridge/freezer. Not bad right? Pretty simple? For this one, since we were eating a whole bowl of it, I even used skim milk and no salt. So now we have low (no?) fat and low (no?) sodium. And OHHHHHHH so tasty! And now I get to go back to those forsaken recipes and give them a try with my own homemade stuff!

Cream of Broccoli Soup (Adapted from Fannie Farmer's Cream of Asparagus Soup)
  • 1 lb broccoli
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken stock
  • 2 Tbsp chopped onion
  • 1 cup milk
  • salt and pepper
  1. Wash and trim broccoli.
  2. Cook the broccoli in 2 cups boiling water until tender.
  3. Drain, reserving 1 cup of the water.
  4. Chop the broccoli and reserve them.
  5. Put the chicken stock, onion, and reserved water in a pan and bring to a boil.
  6. Add the broccoli and simmer for 5 minutes.
  7. Puree in a food processor.
  8. Return to the pot and add milk and salt and pepper to taste. Reheat.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Everybody's trying

Earlier this week I got an email from Sweetcakes with the note "I saw these and thought of you." It was a recipe for oreo cookie truffles. I laughed for a number of reasons.

The first is that everyone knows Oreo Truffles are soooooooo 2007. And it wasn't long before we moved on to the exotic world of Cake Truffles - offering far more in the variety department where all sorts of flavor combinations could be had.

My second reason for laughing was that oreo truffles have earned themselves quite the reputation on my cooking board. Mostly because around Christmas all the idiots come out to play. You can identify them immediately by their questions about Oreo Truffles - usually 4 or 5 within the same hour. It's as if the Christmas Spirit also makes people believe that although they couldn't identify the kitchen a month ago, they'd now like to prepare a scrumptious treat that makes it seem like they know their way around a stand mixer. There are so many questions regarding Oreo Truffles that we keep a running list of stupid questions that we continue to add to throughout the season.*

But the final reason I laughed was due to the timing of the email. It arrived the day before I was set to make a set of Truffles for Valentine's Day. We're going old school on this one. Back to the days when what you got on the inside of a truffle was chocolate. Creamy delicious chocolate. Thatboy said he prefers these to any truffle I've made so far. He loved how chocolatey and rich they were. You all know my feelings on chocolate, but even I had a couple of these!

Happy Valentine's Day to each of you. I hope you were able to spend it with those who are most important to you!

Chocolate Truffles
  • 16 oz semi-sweet baking chocolate
  • 8 0z cream cheese
  1. Melt 8 oz chocolate in a double boiler.
  2. Whip cream cheese in stand mixer until fluffy.
  3. Add melted chocolate to cream cheese and mix well.
  4. Refrigerate mixture until firm.
  5. Place a sheet of wax paper on a baking pan.
  6. Roll mixture into small balls and place on wax paper.
  7. Melt remaining chocolate in double boiler.
  8. Using forks, roll balls in chocolate and replace on wax paper.
  9. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
* The answers to your burning questions?
Stainless steel bowl over simmering saucepan of water
a week in the fridge
use a counter
as many as you'd like
there are a variety of techniques

Friday, February 13, 2009


For this next recipe you're stuck with only my opinion. While normally you are treated to the views of the entire household, this time Thatboy didn't get to partake. Mostly because this was a lunchtime treat, and Thatboy will do soup for dinner, but usually wants a bit more of a substantial lunch. I used this mushroom broth both on it's own, as well as a type of "au jus" for dipping my sandwich. And to tell you the truth (because why would I lie to you?) this broth is much better for dipping than on it's own.

It's your basic veggie broth, but made solely from mushrooms. It smelled good. I got to hear that the entire day I was making it. But on it's own it's a little...meh. But it's absolutely perfect for dipping a nice french roll with your favorite meat inside. And I have no doubt this would be fantastic as a substitute for your basic veggie broth/stock in a number of recipes. And because it's so easy to make, it won't hurt you to keep on hand in the fridge or freezer.

Mushroom Broth (From The Fannie Farmer Cookbook)
  • 1/2 lb mushrooms, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp grated onion
  • salt
  1. Put the mushrooms, onion, and 4 cups of cold water in a saucepan and simmer, partially covered for about 1 hour.
  2. Remove from heat and let stand for at least 4 hours, overnight if possible.
  3. Strain and reheat, adding salt to taste.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

One and one and one is three

Providence (noun): provident or prudent management of resources; prudence.
example: buying an 11 lb turkey to feed 4 people and putting half the turkey in the freezer.

While that example may not seem like providence, when I found myself staring at a recipe for turkey broth, I couldn't help but be thankful for my forethought. I mean, how often do you have half a turkey (with bones) in your freezer? And the thought of roasting another whole turkey, while delicious, seemed a little much to make soup.

However, after tasting this turkey soup I am forever saving each and every bone from every turkey I make and will probably be making turkey more often than a sane person should. This was unbelievably phenomenal.

I had begun to make it on a Saturday morning, but a mid-afternoon decision to hit up the movie theater had be quickly straining and refrigerating. I came home to turkey jelly. A couple scoops and some reheating later, Thatboy and I were eating the best broth either of us had ever tasted. So much more flavorful than chicken broth! Thatboy doctored his up by adding the veggies and some of the turkey meat from the soup itself, but I took mine in the fantastic unadulterated form.

Turkey Soup (From The Fannie Farmer Cookbook)
  • 1 turkey carcass
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 1 carrot, sliced
  • 2 stalks celery, cut up
  • 6 crushed peppercorns
  • salt
  1. Break the turkey carcass into pieces and put them in a soup pot with any small pieces of turkey meat that you can spare.
  2. Add 8 cups of water, onion, carrots, celery, and peppercorns.
  3. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, cover partially, and simmer for 3-4 hours.
  4. Strain the broth and cool it quickly, uncovered.
  5. Chill it and remove the fat when it solidifies, or scoop any fat off surface with a spoon.
  6. Add salt to taste before serving.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The queen of all the team

This is our last stock, before we move on to broths and soups, so if you want to learn to make consomme, fish stocks, clam stocks, or veggie stocks pick up a copy of the book for yourself.

Tonight we're working with veal stock. I know I've told you all that a good stock should turn to jelly after it cools because of the collagen released from the bones. Well my helpful science factoid I learned yesterday is that younger bones release more collagen, which is why a lot of chefs prefer veal stock. So I thought I'd share with you a picture of the cooling stock so you can see it beginning to turn into a solid.

Tonight's tip #2 involves the storage of stocks. If you're going to keep the stock in the fridge you're going to want to boil it every couple days so it doesn't go bad.

Tip #3 - The recipe calls for veal knuckle bones. Even my butcher looked at me like I was on the insane side of life when I asked for these. Apparently they don't carry veal knuckles. I ended up going to my fancy schmancy neighborhood supermarket - the one with the player grande piano in the produce department and picked up a couple of veal shanks. These are fantastic for making oso bucco, and then you can use the leftover bones for the stock.

Tip #4 - Even though veal comes from the same animal as beef, veal stock is much more similar to chicken stock. They're both "white stocks" as opposed to beef which is a "brown stock." And veal stock serves as an excellent substitution for chicken stock, if you're looking for something a little more flavorful.

Veal Stock (From The Fannie Farmer Cookbook)
  • 4lb veal knuckle bone, cut into pieces
  • 1-2 lbs lean veal
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 3 stalks celery, sliced
  • 2 carrots, sliced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • pinch of dried thyme
  • 2 cloves
  • 6 crushed peppercorns
  • salt
  1. Put all ingredients except salt in stockpot with 3 quarts of cold water and let them soak for up to an hour.
  2. Bring them slowly to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer gently, partially covered for 4-5 hours, skimming any scum from the surface for the first thirty minutes or so of cooking.
  3. Salt carefully to taste at the end of cooking.
  4. Strain and cool, uncovered.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

One, two, three, four, Can I have a little more!

So I tried to do a little research as to why cooling stock covered would cause the stock to sour, and friends...I got nothing. I found a number of precautions that "cooling stock covered will cause the stock to sour" but no one wants to tell me why. I did get a little bit of useful information for tomorrow's post, but you'll just have to wait and see.

I did however find a solution to Psychgrad's "Do I have to put my dutch oven in the fridge" quandry. My go-to guy, Alton Brown recommends placing your dutch oven in the family cooler, with about two inches of ice in the bottom. Then drop in a couple of half-way full frozen water bottles.

Tonight's stock lesson bring you a little vocabulary lesson!

Mirepoix (pronounced /mɪər ˈpʍɑː/) is the French name for a combination of onions, carrots, and celery (either common Pascal celery or celeriac). Mirepoix, either raw, roasted or sautéed with butter, is the flavor base for a wide number of dishes, such as stocks, soups, stews and sauces.

The bouquet garni (French for "garnished bouquet") is a bundle of herbs usually tied together with string and mainly used to prepare soup, stock, and various stews. The bouquet is boiled with the other ingredients, but is removed prior to consumption.

There is no generic recipe for bouquet garni, but most recipes include parsley, thyme and bay leaf.

These two terms are very important to the chapter and you should have them all on hand for the making of the stocks and stews!

And now on to the main event. While I made the beef stock with beef bones, the chicken stock I decided to go whole hog. Or whole chicken. We eat so much chicken, that I thought this would be a great way to cook some chicken and make some stock. One of Fannie's variations on cooking stock uses a whole chicken so that worked out just perfectly for me! We ended up with a ton of stock, a tupperwear full of cooked chicken, and a dog who thinks the stove is a magic place where dreams come true.

Chicken Stock (From The Fannie Farmer Cookbook)
  • 4lb chicken
  • 1 onion cut in half
  • 2 carrots, cut in thirds
  • 3 stalks celery with leaves, cut in half
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 6 crushed peppercorns
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • salt
  1. Wash the chicken and put it in a large stock pot. Add 8 cups of cold water and remaining ingredients.
  2. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer, skimming off the scum during the first 30 minutes.
  3. Cook, covered until the chicken is tender. Turn off the heat and remove all the chicken from the pot (I did this about 30 minutes after covering).
  4. When the chicken is cool enough to handle, separate the meat from the skin and bones and return the skin and bones to the pot.
  5. Continue to simmer 4-5 hours in all. Strain and cool the stock, uncovered.

Monday, February 09, 2009

I know I'll let you down

Blogs are an excellent source of information. You can learn so many different tips and cooking techniques. And yet, I know these next few blog entries are going to come up short.

As you may or may not recall, the purpose of the FF journey is to improve my kitchen skills and techniques. And although this journey has already started, it is only now that we reach the beginning. Ooohhhh that sounds deep doesn't it? We are about to begin the stock and soup chapter. Far more complex than appetizers, but still something that isn't too high up on the difficulty scale. And this is where I cannot recommend highly enough to pick up the book for yourself, because there is no way in these brief entries that I can begin to cover all the information Fannie details in her pages and pages of introduction to the chapter. Pages on when to serve soup, how to turn leftovers into soups, seasoning, storing, and freezing soup. There are pages detailing the stock making process filled with information on cooking, cooling, storing, and clarifying stock. And this is really where my skills are going to improve. Making these stocks and soups is almost like a final exam after reading the chapter. I can't even begin to express my pride when my stocks turned to jelly or seeing the layer of fat rise to the surface to be easily removed. It's like I passed!

But I will do my best to give you a very brief overview as we go along and whet your whistle for what lies in store!

We'll begin with stocks. There are actually quite a few stocks in the book, and each stock has a number of variations, including how to turn a stock into bouillon. I stuck with three that I felt I could handle.

My basic stock notes:
- Cooking: To make a stock you're going to place your meat and bones, along with carrot, celery, and onions in a pot with water. You'll season the mixture with a bay leaf, herbs, and peppercorns. Then you bring the mixture to a boil, lower the heat and simmer, partially covered for 4-5 hours, skimming the surface the first half hour to get rid of the scum. And yes, scum is a technical cooking term. That's it! Works for pretty much any stock and it's so easy you'll never do store bought again! I've already started saving bones and leftovers in the freezer!

- Cooling: After straining the stock, you're going to need to cool it. This can be done in or out of the refrigerator but it must be uncovered. Covered stock will turn sour. You'll know you've done it right if the stock gels when it's cool (this is because of collagen in the bones) . Yay for beef jelly!!!! The fat will separate and rise to the surface and harden. Leave it there until you're ready to use it, it forms a nice little preservative seal.

Beef Stock (From The Fannie Farmer Cookbook)
  • 2 Tbsp cooking oil
  • 4-5 lbs beef shank
  • 3 carrots, sliced
  • 3 onions, sliced
  • 3 stalks celery, sliced
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 sprigs parsley
  • 6 crushed peppercorns
  • salt
  1. Preheat oven to 450. Heat the oil in a large roasting pan, add the pieces of shank and brown them in the oven, stirring, turning, moving them about frequently.
  2. After about 10 minutes, add the carrots, onions, and celery to the roasting pan and let them brown, taking care they do not scorch.
  3. When everything has browned, transfer it all to a stockpot.
  4. Pour off the fat in the roasting pan, add a cup or so of boiling water, and scrape up all the browned bits in the pan, then pour into the stockpot.
  5. Add the thyme, bay leaf, parsley, adn peppercorns and cover with 4 qts of cold water.
  6. Bring the water slowly to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer very gently, partially covered for at least 4 or 5 hours, skimming off any scum that rices to the surface during the first 30 minutes.
  7. Strain and cool uncovered.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

What a shame

Are there certain things that you always keep on hand in your pantry? Things that you just take for granted will be there when you go to reach for them? Usually that's me with cornmeal. So when I saw the ingredients for the following recipe were butter, cornmeal, and salt I thought I was pretty much set.

And then I reached for the cornmeal. No cornmeal. Really? I began searching the baking shelf (everyone has a baking shelf right?) and pretty much emptied and reassembled it, but not cornmeal. So I pulled out the next big thing. Polenta. What kind of person has polenta but not cornmeal? This kind of person.

It worked alright as a substitute, but these corn crisps didn't get especially crispy. They were good and corny. I liked the grainier texture of the polenta, but I bet it would be nice to have a little crunch from the cornmeal. They were kinda crisp on the outside, but with a softer fluffier inside - kinda like a little corn tater tot! It's the classic case of not being able to really judge a recipe because of a substitution.

So one of these days I'll make these again. With cornmeal. Which I now have.

Corn Crisps (From The Fannie Farmer Cookbook)
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 1/2 cup cornmeal
  • 1/4 - 1/2 tsp salt
  1. Preheat oven to 425. Butter a cookie sheet. Bring 3/4 cup water and the butter to a boil in a small pan.
  2. Quickly stir in the coernmeal and salt and mix well.
  3. Drop by teaspoonfuls onto the cookie sheet and bake for 10-15 minutes.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Listen to my pleas

If you know me at all, you know all about my all time favorite food - popcorn. It's probably more of an addiction than anything else. I don't go through popcorn phases. There's never a time I don't want popcorn. When people comfort me that there popcorn is one of the healthier foods to be addicted to, I confess that movie theater popcorn is my favorite, and there's nothing healthy about movie theater popcorn.

The more butter and salt, the happier I am. However, I love popcorn in all its forms and it wouldn't be very wise of me to indulge in buttery, salty popcorn at the rate I go through it. I've had a hot air popper since Jr. High and most of the time I use that. And I can eat bags of the stuff. Bags and bags. And not even feel guilty about it. Not one little bit.

And you can imagine the intense excitement/uncontrollable hysteria that I felt when I saw a popcorn recipe in The Fannie Farmer Cookbook. This, my friends, is what life is all about. More dangerous than a Maltov Cocktail is a homemade popcorn recipe. First, because it reminds you of just how easy it is to make your own popcorn. And then comes the fact that there is no question that popcorn made in oil is infinitely more delicious than popcorn made in an airpopper. And infinitely unhealthier.

Most days I am so happy to have Thatboy around to share in the ups and downs of our life together. But days when we have to share homemade popcorn, I sometimes wish I were single again.

Popcorn (From The Fannie Farmer Cookbook)
  • 3 Tbsp Vegetable Oil
  • 1/2 cup popcorn kernels
  1. Put the oil in a 4 qt heavy pot and let it heat over medium heat for 30 seconds.
  2. Stir in the kernels, turning with a spoon so that they are evenly covered with oil, then spread them in one layer on the bottom of the pot.
  3. Put on the cover, leaving a small air space at the edge for escaping steam.
  4. As soon as the first kernel pops, move the pot gently and continuously back and forth over medium-high heat until the popping stops.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Getting very near the end

I have to say that I'm getting a little antsy with these nibble recipes. I'm ready to move on to the real stuff. And Thatboy would like a little more substantial dinner than trail mix. (I'm KIDDING! He's had plenty of Mac and cheese to tide him over.)

But when the recipe is as easy as these little snacks, I just don't feel challenged. Don't get me wrong. I love the end results, and it sure is nice to type up a recipe with less than one step. I especially love this one because of the endless uses for sugared walnuts. They're fantastic in cookies, crisps, oatmeal, yogurt, and my favorite - on salads. With some pomegranate seeds and goat cheese. oooohhhhh aaaaaahhhhh.

They also make fabulous goodies for any new neighbors you might have. Put in a festive baggie and presented with a tray full of cookies, it's enough to make anyone feel welcome.

Sugared Nuts (From The Fannie Farmer Cookbook)
  • 1 lb walnut halves
  • 1 egg white
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  1. Preheat the oven to 225. Beat the egg white with 1 Tbsp water and dip the nuts into it.
  2. Roll them in the mixed sugar, salt, and cinnamon, spread on a cookie sheet, and bake 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes.
  3. Let cool; store in the refrigerator.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

A real solution

You know how you become addicted to a certain food and eat it like it's going out of style and then a month later you complete forget about it? Maybe it's just me. Sometimes it's cottage cheese, sometimes it's pudding, but lately it's trail mix. I go through crazy trail mix phases. I've tried every single one that Trader Joes carries. I had a desk drawer dedicated to the stuff. And then all of a sudden....I just stopped being interested.

But you'll just never guess what turned up in the FF cookbook! (I know - I'm taking foreshadowing cues from Stephanie Meyer lately). And now I don't need to pillage the shelves of TJs because I can make it in about three minutes. And it's a good thing it's so quick and easy because I'm going through it in massive amounts. And I can't even kid myself that it's healthy because ummmm chocolate chips anyone? Although it's semi-sweet chocolate which is healthier than milk chocolate....... And actually in the vast scheme of things, if you're craving something sweet a couple of chocolate chips is probably the perfect solution.

Trail Mix or Gorp (From The Fannie Farmer Cookbook)
  • 2 cups raisins
  • 3/4 cup chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup walnut pieces
  • 1/4 cup cashew pieces
  • 1/2 cup dried coconut
  1. Toss all the ingredients together.
  2. Store in an airtight jar (if you can get it that far)

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

You don't need me to show the way

Welcome to February! It's that favorite time of year when everyone starts asking "What are you making for Valentine's Day dinner?" And while I've never claimed to be that girl with all the answers, I'm often asked this question. For us Valentine's Day is a time to show our appreciation for each other. Thatboy shows me how much he appreciates me always putting food on the table for him by taking me out for an amazing dinner. I show my appreciation for Thatboy by not creating a mess of dishes...for me to clean up...hmmmmmmm there may be something wrong with this scenario. We did try Thatboy cooking for me one Valentine's Day, but it resulted in us drinking a handle of margaritas while we waited for a turkey breast which never cooked through. I think we were passed out asleep by 8pm. Now we go out.

If you don't cook, Valentine's Day is not the time to start (which is pretty much the moral of the raw turkey breast story). Your loved one will appreciate your efforts much more if they don't end up with food poisoning.

But if you do love cooking, Valentine's Day is a time to be a little over the top. Rich, sensuous foods that are a little indulgent are the perfect way to celebrate. And there are certain foods that have been rumored to be aphrodisiacs - which is only fitting on Valentine's Day.

We'll start with the main dish. While there are no studies or theories about a nice steak being any sort of aphrodesiac, there is something very sensual about a nice rare cut of meat. And since wine is an aphrodesiac, why not top that steak with a nice red wine sauce. Wine stimulates the senses, making both the meal and the evening more enjoyable.

Substances that "by nature" represent "seed or semen" such as bulbs, eggs, snails" were considered inherently to have sexual powers by the ancients. So throw some seeds (or seedy looking nuts) into your vegetables. Pine nuts have been used to stimulate the libido as far back as Medieval times. You could also argue that broccoli is sufficiently bulby on it's own, but pine nuts and parmesean add that extra touch.

Creamy and rich, the texture of mashed potatoes is almost silken. This is another one that isn't in any books, you'll just have to trust me. But don't eat too much because there is nothing sexy about that sluggish feeling you get after too many carbs.

The carrot has been associated with stimulation since ancient times and was used by early Middle Eastern royalty to aid seduction. Perhaps it's the phallus shape. I cook mine with some maple syrup for some added sweetness. And the sticky glaze is almost as sexy as the carrot itself.

And let's not forget about the most well known aphrodisiac - chocolate. Aztec legends referred to chocolate as "nourishment of the Gods." And there have been studies that show that chocolate effects the same neurotransmitters as sex. So it's a given that you're going to want some of this on the most commercially recognized day of the year for "love."

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Late at night

Now that the mid-season shows have started, Thatboy and I have been staying up later than normal, and later than we probably should. We normally are 10:00 bedtimers. I know, we're old. I've always been old, but Thatboy only became old once he met me.

Thatboy instituted a rule that he doesn't eat after 9PM, but he usually forgets. FF's snack mixes are perfect for these late night snackings because they're easy to eat without paying attention, and they're not terribly unhealthy.

When I first started drying the orange peel, Thatboy pretty much declared that this one was going to be all mine. He didn't want any part in the potpourri. But as usually happens with Thatboy's premature declarations, once he tried some, he was hooked. His hand kept reaching the bowl over and over and over again. He even fished out the pieces of oranges to eat on their own.

The thing I'm loving about this cookbook cook-through is that I'm really getting to know all the specialty shops in my area. There's a natural food store right next to our fancy schmancy grocery store and I've never been in it, because...well...there was really no need. But this recipe's called for mixed seeds, of which even the fancy schmancy grocery store has not. And I was tempted to steal some from the neighbor's birdhouse, but goodness those things are so high off the ground! So instead I went to the natural grocery store and picked up sunflower and pumpkin seeds. And sweet tea. And some fresh fruit. I think I may be back very soon!

Raisin Nut Mix (From The Fannie Farmer Cookbook)
  • 2 oranges
  • 1 lb salted mixed nuts
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1/2 cup mixed seeds
  1. A week before you plan to serve the mix, remove thin strips of orange peel, taking only the colored part, the zest.
  2. Cut it into julienne strips and air-dry on a pie plate or a sheet of wax paper.
  3. When thoroughly dried, toss with the nuts, raisins, and seeds and store in an airtight container until ready to serve.

Monday, February 02, 2009

I only want what I can get

FF places these next few recipes in with the appetizers, and they could certainly be served before dinner, but they are better classified as snacks.

These are the kind of things I could set out for guests to nibble, but I they are also things I like to keep on hand for Thatboy's hollow legs. Do your husbands have hollow legs? Because mine seems to. As soon as he gets home from work he starts eating and he doesn't stop until after dinner. Luckily, we don't keep a lot of unhealthy things around for him to snack on so he's stuck with nuts, dried fruit, and cheese - none of which are really what he's interested in.

I know I should have been warned when I brought home the container of roasted peanuts. "These are my favorite things in the whole world!" Thatboy told me. I've known him almost 9 years and this is the first time I'd ever heard of his nutty preference. I warned him they were for a recipe, because I knew otherwise they'd be gone within an afternoon. So I quickly whipped these up and passed them over. They were gone within an afternoon. Thatboy especially liked how subtle the curry flavor was. How you could just barely get an aftertaste. How it didn't overpower the taste of his supposed favorite snack food. Of course, once these were gone, the rest of the peanuts were fair game.

Curried Peanuts (From The Fannie Farmer Cookbook)
  • 2 cups salted peanuts
  • 2 tsps curry powder
  1. Preheat the oven to 300. Combine the peanuts and the curry powder in a paper bag and shake well.
  2. Spread the coated peanuts in a sincle layer on a cookie sheet and bake 20 minutes, shaking once or twice during that time.

Sunday, February 01, 2009


By the time most of you read this, you will probably be home from whatever Superbowl party you attended (Go Steelers!). I'm sure they were filled with amazing treats, goodies, and snacks. I know ours will be. But I thought I'd share with you an appetizer we're not bringing to our party. The last of the FF appetizers and one that I would never serve to company. Frankly I was beyond nervous to serve it to Thatboy.

Thatboy is very much a germaphobe. Before he met me, he ate all of his meat as well done as it could be. He doesn't trust the oven thermometer, often coaxing me to put things back in the oven even when they are definitely cooked. I can't tell you how many times he's questioned the doneness of food. So the idea of serving him raw beef had me in near hysterics.

BUT he does love carpaccio, which is equally raw beef....not that I've ever prepared that at home, which is the sticking point here. We read every article we could find on google about the health concerns with beef tartare and the general consensus was, it's perfectly safe - as long as it comes from your butcher and not your grocer. So dear readers, PLEASE keep this in mind before trying it at home. If you wish to make steak tartare at home, go to your local butcher and let him know what you intend to do with the beef so he can be sure to give you the best and cleanest meat possible.

And would I recommend making this at home? Without a doubt. It was unbelievably delicious. Thatboy and I couldn't get over the flavor and tenderness of the meat. It tasted like steak, cooked steak, even though it wasn't. A few tenative bites turned into fights for the last spoonful.
AND neither of us got sick. Raw beef with no food poisioning? Impressive!

Beef Tartare (From The Fannie Farmer Cookbook)
  • 1 lb lean ground beef (sirloin or filet)
  • 1/3 cup minced onion
  • 1 Tbsp capers, drained
  • 4 anchovy filets, chopped fine
  • 4-5 drops Tabasco
  • 1 egg yolk
  • salt
  1. With your hands, mix the beef, onions, capers, anchovy, tabasco, and egg yolk.
  2. Add salt, and put through the food processor to mix.
  3. Pack into a small bowl to shape and turn it out onto a platter.