Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Bits & Bobs

Some tasty bits from a gathering this weekend...

Potatoes that I boiled until almost cooked through, then smashed. Put on an oiled baking sheet, topped with crumbled bacon and caramelized onions. When cooked until tender, cover with cheese sauce. Garnish with parsley if you like. Devil!!!

Mini pigs-in-a-blanket. Weenies wrapped with puff pastry! Mmmmm, weenies.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Cinnamon Bread

I'm not even going to tease you with exposition...

Cinnamon Bread!

To start you need to warm up some milk and butter. Use only the best stuff you can get. The butter of course was Kerrygold...my all time favorite! Let this cool down, you want it to be warm, but not hot and not cold.

I was tired when I made this, but there are the little yeasts dying a horrible miserable death. Instead of taking a warm bath in butter and milk, activating their delicious gas...I scalded and murdered each and everyone of them. "Too hot" they were screaming.

This recipe is a sweet bread, so you need some sugar. And why the heck not, use some vanilla sugar if you have it lying around.

Butter, milk, sugar, eggs, flour and dead yeast. That's my dough there. A little sticky, waiting to rise. 90 minutes later, it's still sitting there, just a little flatter and more sad looking. I really did kill the yeast. Yeast needs a moist, warm environment to start the rising process. You kill the process with extreme heat and slow the process with cold. So what to do? After that 90 minute rest I proofed new yeast in warm milk, with a pinch of sugar. I waited a few minutes for the mixture to get foamy and start to smell super--the smell of fermentation! With that, I poured the happily proofed yeast into the boring dough and started kneading in the mixer again. And I started adding new flour. I total, I probably had to add an additional cup of flour, give or take. the dough now felt like proper dough and within a few minutes of resting, was rising! Woo hoo...I fixed it!!!!

90 minutes later, the blob was about to pour over the giant bowl I had it in.

I just tapped the top of the dough and it started to deflat, belching all the day down the bowl.

I nudged the dough out of the bowl, onto a floured surface and started to press it out into a large rectangle. Hold up your bread pans to make sure the size it going to fit. This was for two loafs.

Dump a bunch of cinnamon sugar on the dough, going all the way to the edge.

Roll the dough up and drop it into the pans, seam side down. Allow to rest for another 90 minutes to two hours.

Brush the loafs with an egg wash...liberally!

Bake for 40 minutes in a 350 degree oven. My loafs overflowed and started kissing each other. Make sure to invite guests over to your house at this time. The cinnamon aromas wafting about will drive people nuts!

Let the loafs rest for a few minutes to cool, then slice with a large bread knife. If you can, toast it. Or, just eat it warm, with more Kerrygold butter!

Mmmm, butter! Seriously...I started giggling and had tears in my eyes when I had my first bite. So good.

Cinnamon Bread
From The Pioneer Woman Cooks
For 1 loaf

1 cup Milk
6 TB Butter
2½ tsp Active Dry Yeast
2 whole Eggs
1/3 cups Sugar
3½ cups All-purpose Flour
1 tsp Salt
1/3 cups Sugar
2 TB Cinnamon
Egg and Milk, Mixed Together, For Brushing
Softened Butter, For Smearing And Greasing

Melt butter with milk. Heat until very warm, but don’t boil. Allow to cool until still warm to the touch, but not hot. Sprinkle yeast over the top, stir gently, and allow to sit for 10 minutes.

Combine flour and salt.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, mix sugar and eggs with the paddle attachment until combined. Pour in milk/butter/yeast mixture and stir to combine. Add half the flour and beat on medium speed until combined. Add the other half and beat until combined.

Switch to the dough hook attachment and beat/knead dough on medium speed for ten minutes. If dough is overly sticky, add 1/4 cup flour and beat again for 5 minutes.

Heat a metal or glass mixing bowl so it’s warm. Drizzle in a little canola oil, then toss the dough in the oil to coat. Cover bowl in plastic wrap and set it in a warm, hospitable place for at least 2 hours.

Turn dough out onto the work surface. Roll into a neat rectangle no wider than the loaf pan you’re going to use, and about 18 to 24 inches long. Smear with 2 tablespoons melted butter. Mix sugar and cinnamon together, then sprinkle evenly over the butter-smeared dough. Starting at the far end, roll dough toward you, keeping it tight and contained. Pinch seam to seal.

Smear loaf pan with softened butter. Place dough, seam down, in the pan. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise for 2 hours.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix a little egg with milk, and smear over the top. Bake for 40 minutes on a middle/lower rack in the oven.

Remove from the pan and allow bread to cool.

OMG So Happy!

Fresh cinnamon bread! Stay tuned for more fun!!!!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Pepper Steak

Each time I make Pepper Steak, I'm reminded how it was the first "Chinese" food I had. It was made a home and I'm sure it was more bland than what I'm making now, but I believe it was introduction to soy sauce. I like this dish for it's simplicity in preparation and for the complexity of flavor notes you get with Asian cuisine. Ginger, garlic, salty soy sauce, sweet hoisin, tangy-smelly fish sauce. Heat from jalapeno and hot sauce. More sweet from the peppers and onions. All very good. For some reason, this was far better than in the past when I've made it. Don't know why, but it's a keeper.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Hi is this blog still operating? Sounds like fun

Yep, I'm still here. I just haven't been posting as often as I used to. Enjoy.

Ask me anything

Chicken & Leeks

We had leeks the other night. They were good. We had this recipe the first time many years ago. It is one of the simplest recipes out there. Cook chicken. Cook leeks. Dump wine. Simmer. Done.

Start with some leeks. I like to cut them into 1/2 moon shapes. Give them a super wash in a bowl of water, then lift them out to drain them. After washing all the sand out of and off of them, you don't want to dump the dirty, sandy water back on them.

Cook your chicken. Usually you can use whatever chicken bits you have. Last night I had chicken tenderloins. Chicken breast are fine. I'm going to say chicken thighs are even better. Give whatever a quick saute to brown and start the cooking. When browned on both sides remove to a plate, don't worry about being cooked through it will finish cooking later.

A pause. What to serve this with? I think rice is the best option. You want something starchy/grainy to give the final sauce a place to go. You could use a pasta. Couscous. A steamed green veggie would be fine too. This time I used a hearty whole grain style rice that had all sorts of crunchy bits in it. It was good. Nutty.

Here we go. After the chicken was browned, I tossed the leeks into the pan and stirred them around for a minute or two. You want them to just start to sweat. Then, dump in a dry white wine. Add the chicken back in. Add wine to just cover the chicken. Bring to a low simmer, cover and walk about for 10-20 minutes. Do something else! But don't forget about it though.

Spoon the chicken and leeks, with sauce over your rice. Garnish with some chopped parsley if you like. Enjoy!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010


Cleaning out some of my digital photo albums and found some things I'm not sure I've shared...

My favorite snack! Toasted English Muffin with extra crunch peanut butter, sliced banana and a drizzle of Tupelo honey. Bliss. Let it warm up for a minute so the honey and peanut butter get all sorts of gooey.

A week or two ago my book club met to discuss To Kill A Mockingbird. We went to a newer restaurant in DC's Eastern Market neighborhood, that totally jived with the time period of the book! The food was good, the atmosphere great and the discussion enlightening. While I was deciding what to order, someone in the restaurant ordered something with bacon. That was it. I had to have bacon. My order was a tasty sloppy joe and I asked them to top it with bacon. And they did! Naughty. Good!

Ted's Bulletin
505 8th Street SE
Washington, DC 20003

This was an almost tasty meal. Chicken braised in white wine. The braising liquid was cooked down into a nice sauce. I served the chicken with regular old frozen corn (hadn't been to the market that week!) And Tater Tot Hashbrowns. I cooked frozen tater tots in the skillet, with onions, until they fell apart and browned nicely. I always forget how much oil those frozen nuggets have in them---without the extra added when I was cooking them. They were greasy and gave me a belly ache. But I liked the idea of using them as a quick substitute for a potato, of which I had none.

Mmmm, breakfast! I can't remember the name of this place, but it's next to the Uptown movie theatre in DC. Breakfast cereals! This mix was Cheerios (regular and honey nut), Grape Nuts, sliced almonds and pecans, plus a dash of cinnamon. I love cereal, but I don't eat it very often. This was very satisfying and filling!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Jam Bistro by Eden

I'm a little bummed. Last week was Restaurant Week in DC and we didn't take advantage of any of the participating restaurants. We were just too busy and had no time to commit to going out during the week. Partly because we were taking a final jaunt to the beach before summer is over and the fall kicks into high gear. So, on Friday afternoon, we packed up and headed to Rehoboth Beach, Delaware.

Friday night, we found ourselves looking for a place to eat. We weren't looking for anything in particular, we were just looking for something we'd like. We found it!

Jam Bistro by Eden. My understanding is that Eden is one of the restaurants in Rehoboth. They opened Jam as a little more casual, affordable option. First...I love the logo/artwork. Simple. But who judges a restaurant by their logo? How about the food?

After we ordered, we were given a basket of house made tortilla chips with a tomato jam. The chips were fine, but the tomato jam was great. A nice alternative to the traditional chips and salsa. A great, condensed tomato flavor.

We ordered a few different things, staying in the appetizer/salad categories. We had a late lunch, so we didn't expect to want to eat too much. Well, we ordered way more than we should have. But it was worth it. Our starting course was Roasted Garlic and Pulled Pork Risotto with a broth--I think it was caramelized onion and bacon broth. This was good! GOOD. Intensely flavored with a wonderful texture. There were whole roasted garlic cloves stirred into the risotto with tender pieces of pulled pork. The broth was light and highly fragrant. Together, it was sublime. I'm guessing the broth is a restaurant trick to help pre-made risotto stay creamy and moist through the dinner service hours. I didn't mind. Seriously good flavor. I expect to make something like this in the future.

I had a salad that made me want to lick my plate. Simple, but good. Bibb lettuce with candied pecans, pears and pretzel croutons--made from cubed soft pretzels! The dressing was a dijon-maple dressing that played very well with all the ingredients. Neither the mustard, nor the maple dominated the dish.

THE DEVIL! One thing on the menu that look particularly interesting to me was a section on different ways to have fries. Of course the first was where my eye kept going. Smashed Crispy FIngerling Potatoes with Bacon and a Vermont Cheddar sauce. So good. But too much. This came at the end of our meal and we couldn't finish it. The plate was large and could have given a table of 4-6 a nice snack/taste. For two people it was just too much. Other options included fries with Parmesan, Truffle Oil, Sea Salt, etc.

And the final dish we wanted to try was the Creamed Corn and Bacon Dressing. First, I would classify this more as a custard or even a short souffle before I would classify it as a dressing. But that's just words. The fresh sweet corn was very sweet. Sweet. Which was great with the bacon serving as a foil. But overall, creamy, airy, light, soft with a nice snap from the fresh corn. Nice. This might be something fun to play around with. Eggs, cream, corn--additional flavor enhancers--bacon, onions, leeks, etc...

There you have it! Jam! I would go back again. For the amount of food we had, plus drinks, we left spending far less than expected. Service was very attentive without being overbearing. Atmosphere was nice. A few color choices I may not make, but overall we were very comfortable. It was a later dinner, so the dining room wasn't packed, so I can't comment on the volumne during diner rush.

Check it out!

Jam Bistro by Eden
290 Baltimore Avenue
Rehoboth Beach, DE

Monday, August 23, 2010


This is a fascinating and illuminating look at the Soft Drink industry of 2008. Click image to ZOOOOOOM way in. I'm not going to go into any details on what the graph says...click over to Accidental Hedonist for a great commentary.

Weekend Decadence

We went away this weekend for a final hurrah before the silly season starts...September to May! Anyway, had this at a restaurant one night...smashed fingerling potatoes, fried until crispy, topped with bacon and a Vermont cheddar cheese sauce. We couldn't finish...it was so rich and good!

When I catch my breath, I'll share more about out awesome dinner out...

Tuesday, August 17, 2010


I didn't intend to do naughty things when I went to the store the last time...but I did anyway!!!

The devilish ingredients!

Icy, creamy, decadent.

Sparkling & fizzy refreshment.

Caramel Ice Cream Float with Jones' Cream Soda.

Forgive me for I have sinned!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Buttermilk Biscuits

Time to make biscuits! The other night, for whatever reason, I decided to make Buttermilk Biscuits for dinner. Actually, I had decided to make Biscuits and Gravy for dinner, but didn't have my fall back--biscuits in a tube! Guilty pleasure, I love them. So buttery and processed! So, biscuits and gravy, and no biscuits. So, let's start making the biscuits!

The recipe I used called for 2 types of flour, regular all-purpose and extra soft cake flour. I didn't have cake flour, so I used a super fine Italian style pasta flour. The results seemed ok!

What's a good biscuit without plenty of butter!

Whiz the flour, butter, salt, baking soda and baking powder until it resembles course meal and can be squeezed into a shape when pinched together.

Pour in the buttermilk and process until it just comes together. It will be super soft and sticky.

Start to carefully knead the dough together with additional cake flour. Be gentle. If you knead too much, the biscuits will be tough hockey pucks.

I don't have a proper biscuit butter, so I just formed my dough into a rectangle and cut out 8 triangles--similar to scones.

Bake for 15-18 minutes until golden and tempting!

The biscuits will be smiling at you when they are done!

Here's a biscuit with some sausage gravy on it. Tasty. I like to serve my biscuits and gravy sloppy, so extra gravy!

And here's a biscuit being a little naughty for dessert. Homemade mixed berry jam we got at the farmer's market. Drool!

Buttermilk Biscuits
from Williams-Sonoma Bread

1 1/2 cups (7 1/2 oz) all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups (6 oz) cake flour, or white pastry flour
1 TB sugar
4 tsp baking powder
1 1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup, plus 2 TB cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 cup cold buttermilk

Preheat oven to 425. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a food processor, combine the flours, salt, baking powder, salt and baking soda. Process briefly to mix. Add butter and, using pulse, cut the butter into the dry ingredients until the mixture resembles course crumbs. Add the buttermilk all at once, and pulse just to moisten all ingredients. The dough will stiffen during mixing. It should be slightly shaggy, but not overly sticky or wet. Do not overmix.

Sprinkle a board with cake flour. Scrape the sides and bottom of the work bowl and turn out the dough; it will be very soft. Sprinkle the top with cake flour. With floured hands, gently knead the dough just a few times. Press and pat the dough into a loose rectangle about 1 1/2 inches thick. With a plastic dough scraper or large rubber spatula, fold the rectangle like a letter, overlapping the short sides in the middle to make 3 layers. Roll or pat out the dough into a rectangle 1 inch thick, sprinkling a little flour beneath the dough as needed to prevent sticking. Using a 2 1/2 inch biscuit cutter dipped in flour, cut out the biscuits by pushing the cutter straight down and lifting up without twisting. Cut as close together as possible for a minimum of scraps. Pack together and reroll the scraps to cut out additional biscuits.

Place the biscuits on the prepared baking sheet, spacing them 1 inch apart. Bake until the biscuits are firm to the touch and the tops and bottoms are golden brown, 15-18 minutes. Let rest for a few minutes, then serve hot.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Eat Me!

Homemade buttermilk biscuits with freakin' ridiculously good mixed berry jam from the Cheverly Community Market. Stupid Good! More on the biscuits soon...stay tuned.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Chicken & Wine

You really can't go wrong here. Chicken thighs, seasoned and seared, then braised in white wine. Add some aromatics if you have them--herbs, carrots, onions, etc. You can skim off some of the fat at the end and make a quick sauce for more succulent deliciousness!