Tuesday, November 17, 2015

My heart belongs to Paris

View from Notre Dame

After the recent events in Paris this past weekend, my thoughts are with the French people and Paris. The memories of our first trip to the City of Lights came flooding in to my mind
It was June of 1997. The hubster had been home for a few months after his deployment to Bosnia. This  was out first big trip since we moved to Germany. We took the train from Germany to Paris. How great it was, 4 hours and we were in Paris. From the train we hopped on the metro. Ah, the famous Paris  metro. The smelly, hot and crowded metro. And if you are lucky you are treated to a street preformance, some good and some very bad.

The view of Sacre Coure 

We spent 4 days seeing the sights. We hit all the major sites. Up early and out late. Taking it all in as if we would never come back. And of course Paris is about the food. Finding small stores, eating as many pastries as we could, and picnicking under the Eiffel Tower at sunset.
I'm always asked what is it about Paris. To be honest it is the most magical city I have ever visited. There is just something aboutot I just can't describe. The history, the art, the food, can't really say. So when Islamic extremists unleashed terror on Friday November 13th my heart sank. This was my city. Innocent people lost their lives doing normal things, going to a soccer game, eating and drinking with friends in a restaurant and going to a concert.
Paris and it;s people will get up and go on. So to do the only thing I could think of I went into the kitchen and I needed to bake something. The classic apple tarte titan.

The makings of a tare tatin

Apple Tarte Tatin

I can't wait to back and I hope it's soon. My heart will always belong to Paris.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Sailing high seas in search of food and ruins

The Erechtheum


So it's now October. Most people are "stocking" up on Halloween candy (we all know that you are eating it as well). I on the other hand am taking a much needed vacation/adventure on the Mediterranean sea on a cruise aboard Royal Caribbean's Rhapsody of the Seas.
I will traipsing through ancient ruins, eating gyros, moussaka, dinking Mythos beer and on the hunt for Cretan Pie or Bougasta as it called. And of course the pasta in Rome!

A local lunch spot for gyros and Mythos beer

I understand the best place to find it in Chania is  Bougatsa Chanion at 37 Apokoronou St, and Bougatsa Iordanis at 24 Apokoronou St.

I will try to recreate some of the food we discovered on our travels when I get my land legs back and have time to unpack and reminisce about our trip. 

Empty plate, Rome

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Browned Butter Pound cake with apple cider cararmel

DISCLAIMER:  In exchange for a discounted registration rate to attend IFBC 2015 I have agreed to write three blog posts of any topic from the conference, sponsors or anything about the host city of Seattle.

New fall harvest loaf pan from Sur la Table


I am kinda on a brown butter kick lately. It started with ice cream I made for the state fair and this past weekend that was supposed to be rainy a perfect day to make a pound cake. It turns out it was a little overcast and warm so  I made Browned Butter Pound Cake anyway! The windows were open so I hope the aroma of cake filled the neighborhood.  And if that wasn't enough I made apple cider caramel to make it even richer.
Brown butter batter ready for the pan

Brown butter pound cake

Well it turned out better than I had hoped! There is something extraordinary about that brown butter. Its  nutty and rich in flavor so much so that you don't need to add vanilla.
The pumpkin harvest pan was a gift from Sur la Table and part of a bag full of swag I received while attending the International Food Bloggers Conference in Seattle a week ago.
My obsession  with browned butter continues... maybe icing for cupcakes or a cake? Cookies perhaps? 

Brown butter pound cake with apple caramel sauce ready for eating.



Note: I omitted the vanilla
The recipe is adapted from Brown Butter Pound Cake from Epicurious:


YIELD: Makes 1 (8 1/2- by 4 1/2-inch) loaf
ACTIVE TIME: 25 min
TOTAL TIME: 3 1/2 hr (includes cooling)

Ingredients

  • 2 1/4 sticks unsalted butter
  • 2 cups sifted cake flour (not self-rising; sift before measuring)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract 

Preparation

Preheat oven to 325°F with rack in middle. Butter and lightly flour an 8 1/2-by 4 1/2-inch loaf pan.
           
Heat butter in a 10-inch heavy skillet over medium heat until milk solids on bottom are a dark chocolate brown. Transfer to a shallow bowl and chill in freezer until just congealed, about 15 minutes.
           
Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt.
           
Beat together brown butter and sugars with an electric mixer until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla.           
                                                                                   
At low speed, mix in flour mixture until just incorporated.


Transfer batter to pan, smoothing top, then rap pan on counter to settle batter. Bake until golden-brown and a wooden pick inserted into center comes out clean, 1 to 1 1/4 hours.


 Cool in pan 30 minutes, then invert cake onto a rack and cool completely, right side up, 1 hour.




This caramel is adapted from Ina Garten's Caramel Sauce. I added 2 tablespoons on boiled apple cider and omitted the vanilla.
Ingredients
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1 1/4 cups heavy cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Directions
Mix the water and sugar in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan.


 Cook over low heat for 5 to 10 minutes, until the sugar dissolves. Do not stir. Increase the heat to medium and boil uncovered until the sugar turns a warm chestnut brown (about 350 degrees F on a candy thermometer), about 5 to 7 minutes, gently swirling the pan to stir the mixture.
 Be careful – the mixture is extremely hot!


 Watch the mixture very carefully at the end, as it will go from caramel to burnt very quickly. Turn off the heat. Stand back to avoid splattering and slowly add the cream and vanilla. Don't worry - the cream will bubble violently and the caramel will solidify.


Simmer over low heat, stirring constantly, until the caramel dissolves and the sauce is smooth, about 2 minutes.


 Allow to cool to room temperature, at least 4 hours. It will thicken as it sits.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Excurstion to the test Kitchen of Sur la Table


DISCLAIMER: I agreed to write three blogs about International Food Bloggers Conference, the food, Seattle or any part of the conference in exchange for a discount on my registration. 

 I am certainly not a perfect person. It took me a few days to unpack from the IFBC conference, but I got home late and had to get up the next day for work, then the Pope came to town and interrupted my commute… on and on. But it’s the weekend and time to unpack my suitcase full of loot, oh I mean swag from the sponsors of the conference.  
I learned from my first food blogging conference you need extra room in your suitcase for the products you will bring home. This year was like hitting the mother lode. I signed up for the Sur la Table/Kitchenaid excursion and it did not disappoint.





We gathered in the lobby of the hotel. As we waited for the busses to take us to our respective locations the conversation got louder and the lobby was filling up with eager participants. It was fun to see familiar faces as we waited for out bus. Well that didn’t work out. Our bus never came so four at a time, like embarking into the ark, we loading in to waiting taxis to take us to Sur la Table HQ and the test kitchen. Squeezed in the taxi we chit chatted about food, blogs, family and other topics until we arrived at the appointed destination.
At last, the mothership of all that is food related, the test kitchen of Sur la Table. I felt like I had come home to roost. We were treated to a cooking demonstration, a light lunch, an explanation of the products that will be coming out for the holidays, and then a demo of the newest product from Kitchenaid.  Ooos and ahhhh from the crowd greeted          

      . 
And so the demos and food came to an end as it was time to head back to the opening registration of the conference and even more swag. But we certainly did not leave empty handed! That’s is an understatement. We each left with a large heavy bag filled to the brim with wonderful new mixes, gadgets and kitchen toys to try out. Up first is browned butter pound cake.


Thanks to our sponsors for the excursion and conference.  Sur la Table, Kitchenaid, Analon,  Krusteaz, American Lamb Council, Stonyfield, and so many others.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Chihuly Glass and Gardens,

Space Needle and Chihuly Glass

DISCLAIMER:  In exchange for a discounted registration rate to attend IFBC 2015 I have agreed to write three blog posts of any topic from the conference, sponsors or anything about the host city of Seattle.  

Seattle is known for its rainy weather so I didn’t mind when the forecast for the afternoon called for showers. Walking around the city was a perfect way to shake off the miserable 5 ½ hour flight from DC.
I was in town attending the 2015 International Food Blogging Conference. I wanted to give myself extra time to explore some of the city. And this time I did not want to miss going to the Chihuly Gardens exhibition. I tried two years ago but it was closed due to a private event.
I was not disappointed. From the first sculpture to the last out in the garden they did not disappoint. The way the light played into the sculpture was awe inspiring. The boats filled with his sculptures to the hanging sculpture it was all so much to take in. Every viewing angle was revealed a different play on color. 



And then you get to the gardens outside. Luckily for me it was raining so the crowd were at minimum. I strolled slowly around each section. Each garden revealing a different feel. The plants were even coordinated to blend perfectly to the orbs, spike or tall flower like pieces. The light was muted and to me that made all the difference. I wandered through several times peering into the gardens seeing different colors at different angles. It was quiet solitude moment as I stared at an orb only to be disturb by a hummingbird flitting from flower to flower unware of the glass beauty around us.
An peaceful respite before the buzz and chaos of the conference.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

It's the last un-State fair for this baker

A cool fall day, a great day for the fair.


Sept 12th 2015 a day that I think I will never forget. It's the last of the DC un-State fair for me. I’m hanging up my apron and putting away my ice cream maker for good this year. This was going to be my last State Fair. I gave it my best shot. 


Blueberry with rosemary in the crust.


My caramel apple pie.



Three ribbons this year! First place in ice cream and second place with my apple pie and second in pie crust! And I can hang up my aprons and put away my pie plates with my head held high and a go out a winner! 
I entered two pies and two ice creams in hopes of claiming the spoils of victory again.   A blueberry with rosemary in the crust and a caramel apple. The ice cream was a buttered pecan with a twist and a pear candied ginger. This  year was a banner year.  


Whoot, whoot, 2nd year for first place in ice cream.


2nd place for my apple pie and 2nd place for my crust.

It has just become too much to prepare for, work full time and spend time with family and a very needy dog. Well I say that now, and next year I just might change my mind. Fair warning if any of my friends and family hear me plotting entries for the fair please remind me of all the work and logistics it takes and just say no. 
I have to say it was fun and thrilling but very nerve racking at the same time. It makes for a very long day and very short weekend! 

So that’s it. I can walk away happy.    

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Mustard, it's not just yellow anymore

Deviled eggs made more devilish with Truffle Dijon mustard


If you opened your refrigerator right now what kind of mustard do you have tucked away onyour shelves? If you are like me you have a few, ok more than a few, in my case I have five. 
I grew up on plain ole yellow mustard. Then we moved to accept dark brown mustard. The yellow was not alone. Then with a great marketing campaign Dijon mustard moved in. Too much of that stuff and your nostrils are cleaned out, but it seemed exotic so we used it. When I lived Germany discovered   stoneground and grainy mustards.




Maille Mustard shop since 1747

It wasn't until my recent trip to Paris that I experience the ultimate in mustard consumption. You can actually get mustard on tap, yes I said on tap, just like beer! We were just wandering down one of the many cute Parsian streets and there is was in all it's mustard glory. Maille they have been making mustard since 1747.


Mustards on tap!



What a great delivery, mustards online!

Thanks goodness for the online store so as soon I arrived back in the states I was online ordering a couple of flavors. Truffle flavor in a small crock and black olive. A few days later my package arrived. The little crock of truffle flavored mustard was small so do you just slather it all willy nilly on sandwiches? Or make something outrageous? No to both. I made deviled eggs! Yes, deviled eggs. It certainly took it another level. It only takes a small about to add that "there is something in there and I can't tell what it is". 
My crock is just about empty and I think I have just enough to make another small batch of deviled eggs or something else because today is Mustard Day! 

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Finding Motivation when it's National Cheesecake Day.




My Mille feuille, not really a thousand layers



I have been a little unmotivated to get in the kitchen to make anything. Let alone celebrate National Cheesecake Day.  Summer heat and humidity are something that I have never gotten used to. So June was a bust. Oh, I have a billion things swirling in my head but never seem to get them out. The weekends just get away from me. So enough of my belly aching, let’s get back to the kitchen and make something of a cheesecake or maybe a twist on a cheesecake theme.


In search of much needed inspiration  I went to the one place I needed to go, Julia Child’s kitchen at the SmithsonianNational Museum of American History. I just stare at the space and image her there laughing and cooking and telling wonderful stories about her life. My ideas are spinning around my head. This mad idea involving cheesecake was spinning around my brain ever since the wonderful folks at Brownie Brittle who sent me a 1lb bag just for responding to them via social media.


Eureka! I decided on a twist of the one French pastry I love to eat (one, really who are we fooling) and yet not having conquered making it. The Mille Feuille. It is made with puff pastry and you can use a variety of fillings. I would simply substitute the brownie brittle squares with the puff pastry and use this absolutely decadent filling from Christina Tosi called Liquid Cheesecake. Would my experiment combination work? I thought it would. Only one way to find out. Get back in the kitchen and make it


Like a mad scientist trying to discover something wicked, I too was trying to create something wicked. At least this creation won’t try to kill me or need to be killed by the torch and pitchfork wielding villagers. 


I piped the mixture onto the squares and let set a few hours before serving. The response was cheers all around. This won’t be run out of town after all.  


There was enough left over for dip

The link for Liquid Cheesecake by Christin Tosi here or the recipe I used. 


Or if you are in need of something sweet and want to make one of her desserts check out the cookbook “Milk”  http://www.amazon.com/Momofuku-Milk-Bar-Christina-Tosi/dp/0307720497?tag=tasttabl-20




Liquid Cheesecake   2 to 4 servings    Yield: 25 minutes Cook Time: 25 minutes 



INGREDIENTS


One 8-ounce package cream cheese


¾ cup granulated sugar


1 tablespoon cornstarch


1 teaspoon kosher salt


2 tablespoons whole milk


1 large egg



DIRECTIONS


1. Preheat the oven to 300°. In the bowl of a standing mixer, paddle the cream cheese on low until smooth, about 2 minutes. Add the sugar and mix until it is completely incorporated, 1 to 2 minutes.


2. In a small bowl, gently whisk together the cornstarch and salt. Add the milk in a slow, steady stream, then whisk in the egg.


3. With the mixer on medium-low speed, add the egg mixture to the cream cheese, beating until the mixture is smooth, about 3 to 4 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.


4. Pour the cheesecake batter into an 8-inch-square baking pan lined with plastic wrap. Place the pan in the oven. Bake for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, gently shake the pan: The outside edges should be firm and the center loosely set. If the cheesecake has not reached that consistency, allow it to cook for an additional 5 minutes.


5. Remove the cheesecake from the oven, set aside to cool completely, then serve


The link for Liquid Cheesecake by Christin Tosi here or the recipe I used.

Read more: 
http://www.tastingtable.com/entry_detail/chefs_recipes/5972/Liquid_Cheesecake_Recipe_by_Chef_Christina_Tosi.htm#ixzz3fxcXUTJO

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Bastille Day


the ingredients for the sandwich
Today is Bastille Day in France. Today they celebrate the storming of the Bastille and the beginning of the end for the Kings of France. So, what better way to celebrate than by making something French.
But what to make? Sweet or savory? Decisions, decisions. Brunch for dinner! It sounded great and since I am on a retro binge this was a no brainer. The Monte Cristo Sandwich. It’s the cross between French toast and hot ham and cheese. Eggs, cheese and bread, who doesn’t love that? 
Have you ever had one? Or when was the last time you made or ate one? I love the Croque Monsieur or Madame. This sandwich was not a stretch for me.
I had just finished making blackberry jam and had purchased cheese and the bread on my way back to the market. I was searching on the internet and discovered many things about this unassuming sandwich. The sandwich was popular in the 30’s up to the 60’s. There are many versions of the classic sandwich. It is also known and the French Sandwich, Toasted Ham and Cheese, or the French Toasted Cheese Sandwich. And as with the name it also has many renditions. Deep fried, three layers, open faced, some recipes call for powdered sugar and jam on the side. 


The Monte Cristo

I found and settled on the recipe from FOOD52 https://food52.com/recipes/36936-the-glorious-monte-cristo-sandwich . The recipe calls for raspberry jam but since I had just made a fresh batch of blackberry jam I use what I had. I also only dipped on side of the bread in the egg mixture. It seemed too cumbersome to dip the whole sandwich in the egg mixture. One slice sweet with the blackberry and the other slice smeared with graining mustard.  

Monte Cristo Sandwich

Adapted from Food 52 

Raspberry jam (seeds ok)
Thinly sliced ham
Grated Gruyere cheese
Grainy brown mustard
1 egg
2 tablespoons of milk
1 pat of butter 

1. Hardily spread jam on one slice of bread. Pile on a neat heap of sliced ham and the grated cheese. Spread a lot of good spicy mustard on the piece of bread, then top off your sandwich with it.
2. In a shallow dish, whisk egg and milk together. Dip the sandwich into the mixture, making sure to coat both sides.
3. Heat the butter in a pan, swirling to coat the bottom. Fry the sandwich on both sides until golden brown and the cheese is all melty and perfect. Slice in half and chow down on the monster with reckless abandon.

Maybe if you  have spare fireworks from our Independence Day celebrations you pretend to be French for a day and celebrate  Bastille Day with fireworks and a sandwich.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

National Burger Month

Grandma's burgers


May is National Burger Month! Yup that’s right a whole month to celebrate all burger goodness. In fact did you know that there is a holiday to celebrate food every day? Everyday. 
Now I could just throw a burger on the grill, slap condiments on it, photograph it and post it. BORING!! No, I going to turn it up a notch and cook it the way my grandmother did. Have I mentioned my Southern grandmother? So, I’m going to fry it in bacon fat, yes I did go there, and I said BACON FAT.

Bacon fat makes everything taste better!




I spent the summer of 72 with my grandparents. Hamburgers were the one thing I wanted her to make morning, noon and night!  They were magical to me. Today I would call them crack burgers but when you are twelve and grew up way back when, then magic is what they were. Now my grandma was very southern and I seem to  remember she cooked and fried most things in bacon fat, burgers, cornbread and I’m many other things as well. I think that she had a jar of the stuff by the stove.
Now, back to those burgers. She would fry them turning only once. Once turned she would place one half of the bun on top to soak up the burger juice. What seemed like forever the burger was cooked she would place the burger on the bottom portion of the bun and serve them. Mustard, katsup whatever you need to put on your bun go ahead. Maybe a side of potato salad or a deviled egg or two and a big glass of tea, sweet tea to the south, just plain iced tea for me.