Monday, December 29, 2008

check this out, my friends...

I want to send you on a fun little journey to Australia, via a sweet little blog I visited - found it on a photography forum, of all places. LOL

Meet my friend, Doc-G, and his blog about food, restaurants, chefs, and his own recipes that just look to me as if they would melt in your mouth...

Click on his wonderful photo to go to his blog...and straight to this particular recipe, to boot! Then be sure to click on his header, to check out the rest of his writings, including fantastic photos of food. He's an excellent photographer, all around, as well as a good writer, and, I'm sure, fantastic cook.

Have fun, mate!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

soup's on! ~

Yippee! I looooooove cooking and baking! And I love blogging! Perfect mix, right?

Well - not on Christmas Day, at 1:00 a.m. HAHA ~

But here is the makeup post for yesterday, because I was baking and missed the deadline of midnight or before, lol.

Tonight, I'm posting just the recipe for butternut squash soup, with a Sistwist...I'm not done baking completely and the cookies almost done in the oven are going to have to survive the taste test in the morning. But just a taste of what's to come: Lee's Fudge, Nikki's Coconut Macaroons, Wandering Chopstick's Mango Bread, and maybe these cookies - we'll have to see about those...

About the soup - butternut squash is something I've not eaten before - at least, not that I remember. It was a totally new experience for me, both the squash, which sort of reminded me of pumpkin or even sweet potato, and the soup made from the squash. BTW - I just took a simple basic recipe and put a whole different twist on it...

Sis's Butternut Squash Soup

1 large butternut squash
4 tablespoons butter
1 medium onion, chopped
1 large carrot, or about 5 or 6 baby carrots, chopped
1 large stalk celery, chopped
4 cups chicken broth
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
salt and black pepper to taste
1/2 teaspoon Tony Chachere's Cajun seasoning (or cayenne pepper)
1/2 teaspoon Chinese 5-spice powder
1 8-ounce cream cheese, cut into large cubes

Cut squash in half lengthwise, and scoop out seeds. Place cut side down on cookie sheet sprayed with cooking spray. Bake in 350 degree oven for about an hour. Let cool; peel and cut meat into chunks. In a Dutch oven, melt butter; saute onion, carrot, and celery until soft. Add squash and broth and bring to simmer; let simmer for 5-10 minutes. Add seasonings and stir. Next take an immersion blender and blend until smooth, or use a blender to puree in small batches. Add cream cheese and blend in last. Stir and serve, or let it cool and refrigerate. This soup is even better the 2nd day, reheated.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

battle of the breads ~

I made 2 loaves of bread today, one in the oven, mixed by my faithful KitchenAid mixer, and one in the bread machine. I used the same ingredients in each. My purpose was to see if I could make a bread machine recipe in the old fashion way and which loaf was better.

Dang it - that means I had to taste a piece of each loaf.'s a hard job, but somebody has to do

Here's the recipe, straight from the Betty Crocker's Best Bread Machine Cookbook.

Honey Corn Bread

(for a 1 1/2 pound loaf)
1 egg plus enough water to equal 1 cup
1/3 cup honey
3 tablespoons butter, softened
3 cups bread flour
1/2 cup cornmeal
2 tablespoons dry milk
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 teaspoons bread machine or quick active dry yeast

Measure carefully, placing all ingredients in bread machine pan in the order recommended by the manufacturer.

Select Basic/White cycle. Use Medium or Light crust color. Do not use delay cycles. Remove baked bread from pan and cool on wire rack.

12 slices

Here's a photodocumentary of part of it - I forgot about taking pics until right when I put the loaf in the oven. BTW - I let it rise for about an hour, and I warmed the stoneware loaf pan before I put the dough in; I baked it at 375 degrees for about 25 minutes, or was supposed to - see below.


The verdict: I think the oven baked loaf was denser, and more crispy. I suspect that I should have kneaded it longer in the machine; and I know that I left it in the oven for about 8 minutes or more longer than I should have. So the bread machine loaf was a little lighter and not as crispy. Both tasted good, and both had the pleasant texture from the corn meal.
So - I suppose that, if you like baking bread yourself, kneading and such, you can take bread machine recipes and use those - but for convenience, machine loaves are tasty as well. I call this one a tie.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Farmer Maggot pizza...

Anybody as big of a Lord of the Rings fan as me? That's my favorite novel, in the whole wide world, and, like the High elves who live halfway in the Undying Lands while they walk about in Middle-Earth, for many years, I was halfway walking around in a LOTR dream most of the time. I really love that book.

What does that have to do with cooking? Well - I think of LOTR every time I make these low carb versions of pizza - because of the mushrooms used as the crusts. Remember when Frodo, Sam, Merry, and Pippin were walking through the dark to try to get to Buckleberry Ferry, to cross into Buckland? The Black Riders weren't far behind, and they took refuge for a few hours and for supper at Farmer Maggot's homestead...Farmer Maggot, who grew amazingly delicious mushrooms! My mouth waters every time I read that part...

Jack is doing low carb most of the time, the Atkins diet which I don't like but hey, he's a grown man and can make up his own mind...but when we have my homemade pizza, which he loves, he was always left out. So I came up with this - and sometimes, if I know I've had my share of breads on a particular day, I'll do this version as well, just to cut back on carbs myself. It's really good, although occasionally, the 'skin' of the mushrooms is just a little bit tough. And I named it in honor of Farmer Maggot. Don't let the name turn you off, ROFL!
Farmer Maggot Pizza

Brush or rinse 4 portabello mushrooms and remove the stems - be careful not to tear through the cap. If rinsing, let them drain for a while, with the gills pointing down. Spray a baking pan with cooking spray, and place the mushroom caps gill side up in the pan. Spritz the mushrooms with just a little cooking spray or brush lightly with olive oil, to keep them from drying out, and bake them at 400 degrees for about 10 to 15 minutes, to soften them up a bit. Remove from oven and top with a couple of tablespoons of tomato sauce (or pizza sauce, if you prefer). You can sprinkle other seasonings on the tomato sauce too, like minced garlic, parsley, grated parmesan, etc. Top that with a light layer of torn spinach leaves. You could also sprinkle a little chopped onion or olives or whatever veggie on this too. Top the leaves with a little meat, if you desire - 3 or 4 pepperoni slices cover these nicely, or a sprinkle of cooked pork sausage. Top the meat with grated cheese, or if you're not using meat, put the cheese on the spinach. Place the pan in the oven and bake for about 25 minutes at 400 degrees. After removing from the pan, let them sit for 5 minutes and then transfer to plates. You probably could eat these with your hands, but they are kind of drippy (you know how watery mushrooms are) and so we use a knife and fork. Enjoy!

steak with balsamic sauce...

What the heck is a flat iron steak?

I had that question the other day, when I saw this recipe. I googly-eyed it, and got that it's similar to a top blade steak or roast. So anyway, I just bought this big chunk of beef. I don't remember what it was called, heh, but it was pretty thick - too thick, as it turns out, and slightly on the tough side, but tasted wonderful anyway in the end. Next time, and there will be many next times with this recipe, I'll use a good cut of meat, just whatever I want - sirloin, or t-bone, whatever...

OK, here's the recipe. Be forewarned - it stinks to high heaven, when cooking (the sauce) - or so Jack and the kids told me. I just thought it smelled vinegary. It's kinda like fish sauce, though - stinky but when you eat it, wow, is it full of flavor!

Steak with Balsamic Sauce
3 pound flat iron steak
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons coarse peppercorns (I used coarse ground black pepper)
1 1/2 teaspoons salt (or to taste)
1 tablespoon butter (I just used the olive oil for this)
1 clove garlic, minced
1 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley (I had none, but didn't miss it this time)
Brush steaks with oil. Press peppercorns and salt into each side of steak. Melt butter in large skillet over medium high heat. Add steak and cook on both sides until desired doneness. Remove to plate and keep warm. Stir garlic into the pan and cook over medium heat until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add balsamic vinegar and increase heat to medium high; simmer until reduced by half. Thinly slice steak scross the grain and arrange on platter. Pour sauce over steak and sprinkle with parsley.