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This is a post about complete AMAZEMENT!!!…….. and Cauliflower.
As some of you know and other’s may have guessed, mine is not a house of the most svelte people on earth. It also doesn’t take heavy detective work to realize this is not a low fat household (did you catch the pun?). If the truth be told I am much more open to veggies, sea food and lighter fair, Ray on the other hand is not only picky but wants nothing more than stick to your ribs, meat and potatoe kinds of meals. The truth is, though, we are “maturing” (hell, we are aging and fast) and need to become slightly big time more conscious of our diet. No easy task considering picky boy!!!!
A couple weeks ago, as I was getting ready to leave for work I was half paying attention to the Dr. Oz Show, when they mentioned something about “healthy” Fettucine Alfredo……. cream, egg yolks, butter and cheese…..yea right!!!! What they, Dr. Oz and Dave Lieberman who adapted the recipe, put forth intrigued the Hell out of me!!! Today, while shopping, I put my plan into action….as we were in the produce section I walked over to and looked longingly at a beautiful head of cauliflower;
Ray walks over and says, “are you gonna get that?”,
I respond, “no, you wouldn’t eat it.”,
He says, “get it, I will try it.”,
I think, “SUCKER!!!”.
We get home and get the groceries put away and I start on some pasta dough. Ray asks, “what’s for dinner” “Alfredo” I say. He isn’t a huge fan but he knows it is a favorite of mine so he was outnumbered!! Luckily, he had made a commitment to a neighbor to lend a hand and this gave me complete freedom in the kitchen ( I didn’t have to hide a damned thing I was doing). While he was away I basically followed Dave’s recipe with a couple minor changes.
2TBS Butter instead of 2TBS Olive Oil (let’s not push this health kick thing too far!)
Copious amounts of crushed garlic (can’t live without it)
Fresh Basil and Oregano (just planted the stuff and I am already stripping it bare)
That’s it kids, no other changes. So time for an assessment, I guess.
TOTALLY FREAKIN’ AWESOME!! (My Response)
“This is the best Alfredo you have made.” (Ray’s response)
Bite me Ray, I just made you eat cauliflower!!!!! This is a definite must try, truthfully I would never have known it was made with cauliflower and not cream and egg yolks had I not made it myself…..The best I have ever made? That’s debatable Ray!!!!!
Chalk one up for the Bear!!! As you may well know, I spend a bit of time in the kitchen and very few things scare me in there. I am always game to give new things a try and I usually succeed. There is one ingredient in the kitchen which has caused me much grief….I have attempted its use numerous times and my success rate is minimal. In fact my failure rate is so high that I have dubbed myself…..SleepingBear-Killer of Yeast. Not tonight kiddies!!!
Ray and I were off today and we used it to do a few things around the house, as the day progressed thoughts of dinner came to mind. Truthfully, I had no plan so it was one of those look in the fridge and see what needs to be used soon kind of days. The freezer revealed a couple of chicken breasts and the deli drawer contained 3 thick cut slices of applewood smoked bacon and a smallish chunk of cheddar….”yea, what am I going to do with that?”. Finish up the last of the household chores and think.
The wheels began to turn and bechamel came to mind. Pasta came to mind. We are getting there!! After just a little more thought, I came up with a “white lasagne”. Dice the bacon, fry it up, slice the breast into thin crosscuts, fry them in the bacon drippings. Use a couple Tbs. of the bacon drippings as a starter for the roux for the bechamel. A quick batch of fresh pasta sheets, layer it all with a bit of cheddar and dinner will be served.
As of late Ray has been on a bread baking kick, which he is actually getting pretty good at (unlike moi!) and we have a little less than half a loaf of his bread leftover from the other day. Homemade bread, unfortunately can get dry rather quickly and this half loaf is currently in the “only good for toast” stage. I wasn’t getting cleaned up and dressed to run to the store for something to sop up the excess bechamel but I also wanted that exact thing. What the hell, give the yeast thing another try! hahahaha
A quick search for a simple and quick breadstick recipe and I was on my way. The milk and onions were sweating on the stove awaiting to become the sauce. The chicken was browning wonderfully in the bacon drippings. The pasta sheets were drying just slightly awaiting to be layered. And the kitchenaid was kneading the dough for the breadsticks. Everything was happening at once, not a moment to breathe….one task to the next and then again on to the next. The breadstick dough is a single rise for approximately 50 mins, so I got the lasagne together, set it aside and then formed the sticks. Into the oven the lasagne went and onto the counter went the sticks… but will they raise or have I once again killed millons of yeast spores in one fell swoop???
50 minutes later this is what I saw…
The lasagne came out of the oven and in went the sticks. 15 minutes of rest for the lasagne and bake time for the sticks and dinner was served!!!
So Mother Nature is at it once again!
I could complain about this… Alright, none of us have time to listen to me moan and groan about the excessive snow, so here I give you a quick, easy and oh so comforting dinner for a blustery night.
Grilled Cheese Sandwiches with a steamy bowl of soup!
No recipes needed on this one, it is basically a choose your own poison kind of meal. This evening for us the Soup du Jour was Ham and Bean. Ray has gotten into baking bread so the base for our sandwiches was courtesy of him. The cheeses were Cheddar and Emmental and on mine I had to have a slathering of good old Heinz yellow mustard.
That folks is it, sometimes simple and to the point is the best thing
Feb.6, 2010 was an anniversary (you don’t need to know which!) of my 29th birthday (I will never turn 30…EVER!!) and also the day most of the east coast got blanketed in a very thick layer of snow. As the clock struck midnight and the day rolled in, I had just set the sleep timer on the TV and was settling in for the night. About 35 mins later I awoke with a start to no television, hmmmm, I know I set it for 90 minutes….what’s up now??? I made my way into the hallway and tried the light switch….nothing. I then made my way to the spare bedroom and looked out the window, not a light on on the street!! I looked further down and saw a few neighbors out shoveling their walk, defeated, I figured I might as well join them, best to get a jump on the snow!!! I was back in bed by 2am.
Fast forward 16 hours…the snow had stopped but not before dumping 22″ (official count but my backyard says 28″), we had shoveled for hours, the sun was again setting and dinner was calling. The only thing was the electric had still not come back on..the house temp was reading about 54 (it bottomed out at 43 before the power returned) so I had 2 stockpots of water boiling to get some steam heat going. What to do about dinner though? I had some sweet italian sausage thawing in the fridge, which wasn’t going to make it to its intended use, so I figured sausage, home fries and eggs. I threw a couple potatoes in one of the stockpots to par cook and got out the sausage, well the truth be told, I had no desire to pull out different pans to bring this meal together so it was improvise….Frittata!!!! As some of you may know, Ray is a VERY picky eater and when I say “frittata” he says “eww”, however I was cold, tired, sore and truthfully not in the mood to please his pickiness…my anthem became “frittata or starve”. I sliced the sausage and by the time it was done the potatoes were perfectly done to fry as homefries. Now I can’t imagine I am saying this but it was such a welcome task to peel those right out of the pot potatoes barehanded……HEAT and lots of it!!! I pulled the sausage from the pan and gave the potatoes a rough dice and threw them in till they were nicely browned and crispy, back in went the sausage. I whipped up 6 eggs with a bit of water and salt and threw that in as well. Damn!!!!! I have an electronic igniter which can not be bypassed to light the broiler…ok then, a flipped frittata. Oh Hell no!!! I was too tired, sore and shaky from the cold to attempt a manual flip by candle light…now what? I grabbed a lid and partially covered the pan, turned the flame down low and prayed for a done and non burnt frittata. After some time dinner was served and quite edible. We finished the night off with a few rounds of Yahtzee by candle light, then shivered the night away under many, many blankets.
8am this morn we awake, again, no power!!!! Grand! Immediately I dressed to go check on the elderly couple next door, I knock and Rose opens the door, in she beckons me…”you are gonna let out the heat” she says. I walk in and the house is quite toasty….yea they were doing the big no no that so many old school folk do….they had the gas burners lit the night through!!! After scolding them a bit and knowing that I wasn’t going to change their ways, I exited, Rose followed me out onto the porch and we continued to chat, 5 minutes later Nino pops his head out the door and told us the power had returned! Hot damn!!! Anyone that had been outside immediately went back in to enjoy the chance to join the 21st century again!! After a bit of time, it became apparent that no plow was in sight, so one by one the neighborhood came together and we dug our way out. By 3 in the afternoon we were again cold, tired and hungry. In we went for a late lunch…we had power and we had leftover frittata so in the microwave it went. We sat down to share the last bit of this cooked in the dark meal and finally Ray looks at me and says, ” ya know, this is pretty good”. It was in that moment I learned that after living life like the folks in “Little House on the Prairie” for over 36 hours….Ray ain’t so picky afterall!!!!!
The first of each month has been pretty much the same for me for the past year and a half….I grab my morning coffee and head straight to the Daring Kitchen to see what is in store. This month we were given…
The September 2009 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Steph of A Whisk and a Spoon. She chose the French treat, Vols-au-Vent based on the Puff Pastry recipe by Michel Richard from the cookbook Baking With Julia by Dorie Greenspan.
As is often the case, we were given some freedom to play. The puff pastry obviously is the star of this show, and Steph did a great job of explaining it here. So I will not go into a lot of detail regarding it, other than to say it is really not a difficult endeavor!! It is true that I more often than not buy puff already made but I do make it as well and always am I pleased when I do so.
What then, you wonder, am I going to tell you about then….
The supporting cast, of course.
Vols au vent are a puff pastry shell which are filled….and filled with a multitude of options. My intial thought was to make a pumpkin praline mousse to fill small leaf shaped shells and then finish that off with a cinnamon caramel drizzle…..didn’t happen!!!
The weekend I decided to go for it and tackle the DB challenge happened to be a beautiful mid september weekend. Crisp and cool yet sunny and bright…I could “smell” the leaves turning color….a wonderful weekend to get in the kitchen and play. Truth be told, I had quite a few kitchen “projects” planned. I needed to make a supply of my “world famous” pasta sauce and I wanted to dive into something that I have been afraid of for some time, you can read about that here, and of course puff pastry.
Saturday was a day of getting things in place…my sauce is an all day affair and I also had tons of prep for the DB challenge and my other project. Sunday arrived, my sauce was “put up”, my fears had been put to rest and my puff pastry had been “turned”, now it was dinner time!!
As I said earlier, initially I was going to go for more of a dessert for the challenge but again dinner was calling, what to do? The weather was still holding, the air crisp and I kept thinking how much I Love this time of the year…the warm spices, the tart green apples, the little bit of a chill that calls for something comforting, and then I favorite little cafe on the southside came to mind. The 1889 Cafe does a great stuffed breast of chicken that I thought, if broken down, could be morphed into a great savory, comforting filling for fresh from the oven puff pastry shells.
The inspiration is a chicken breast stuffed with sausage, apples and raisins with a white wine reduction as a topper…easy to break down!!!! Now my cooking style is not one to follow a recipe, I am a pinch of this, dusting of that kind of cook…..so please bear with these “instructions” ( although I promise if you give it a go, you will make it one of your favorites).
Start with 1/2 lb breakfast sausage, brown and remove to paper towels to drain. Cube 3 boneless skinless chicken breast and brown add 1/2 of a medium onion diced and continue till chicken is cooked through and onions are translucent, remove and set aside. Chop 3 granny smith apples into bite size pieces and caramellize in pan, have patience with this step…let the apples get a nice color on them. While all of this has been going on I plumped about 1/4 cup raisins in a spiced Riesling, when the apples have caramellized nicely, remove them and deglaze the pan with the excess wine from the raisins. scraping all the “bits” from the pan. I then added 1 1/2 cups chicken stock and brought it to a boil, I then added the chicken, onions and sausage and lowered the flame to a simmer. Let this reduce by half, then add the raisin, apples, a touch of salt, pepper, sage, cinnamon and 1/4 cup heavy cream bring to temp. Remove from flame and then “swirl” in 4oz butter, ladle this into fresh out of the oven pastry shells!!! Enjoy!!!
I served this with a crisp greens salad topped with butternut squash croutons and a lite drizzle of cider vinegar. Warm, comforting and well worth the “turns”, alas Autumn has arrived!
So this is going to be very short and sweet. Well wishes to all. Today I spent a quiet Easter with Ray and we had our typical, ham, scalloped potatoes, pineapple glazed carrots, all accompanied by a salad and crusty dinner rolls. Pretty tame. However, I had a hankering for lamb and despite the fact that he won’t touch the stuff, I went ahead and stuffed a leg of lamb. I found the recipe off of facebook and you can all find it here, it was pretty straightforward and not at all a difficult task. The stuffing was simply, mint, shallot ( I used garlic and onion) and bleu cheese. Stuff it, roll it, roast it, simple as that. To finish it off was a sauce….OMG the SAUCE!!!!!! Reduced pan drippings, red wine followed by more reduction, thicken with ground roasted pine nuts, remove from the heat and add more bleu cheese. All I can say is the lamb was divine but truth be told, I would have been content with the pan of sauce and a straw!!!!!! Try it, you are gonna like it!!!!!!
And again, to everyone out there, “Christos Anesti!”.
So today is the 3rd* and final reveal day of this months Daring Baker Challenge for March and well…..I am writing this actually before I have even begun!!!!
*apparently sometime between the last time I visited the site and yesterday the reveal date kinda changed on me!!
When I first joined the DB, 11 months ago, I was soooo good at gettinig it done early and having the time to contemplate a post, not so much as of late. Lately, I have been scrambling and today I am scrambling HARD!!!!
Let me first off get the formallity out of the way….
The March 2009 challenge is hosted by Mary of Beans and Caviar, Melinda of Melbourne Larder and Enza of Io Da Grande. They have chosen Lasagne of Emilia-Romagna from The Splendid Table by Lynne Rossetto Kasper as the challenge.
…now let me drive this baby home so I can get in the kitchen!!!!!
I am of Italian descent so I am more than familiar with fresh pasta, bechamel, ragu and of course lasagne, so this month didn’t really phase me much. However, being that this particular version of lasagne is much lighter than mine, I have decided to deviate very little from the recipe Mary, Melinda and Enza have chosen. My version of lasagne is laden with layers of sausage, ground veal, ground beef, garlic scented ricotta and pasta (a typical pan of my lasagne goes at least 15lbs). This is a much lighter version and I figured give it a go!!!
Why then, if it is something I am comfortable with and actually a bit less work than I normally put into, am I scrambling…..and again, scrambling HARD?? Well, this “cake thing” of mine is kinda “taking off”, this week alone I have done 7 cakes (5 paying, 2 gratis), along side of the normal 2 stores to run, 2 dogs to deal with, a house that NEEDS attention and of course my very own RAY!!! It’s sunday you say, the day of rest…not around these parts, I have a cake due for tuesday, one I have always wanted to try but was always intimidated by, well today is the day…this cake is a 3 tiered, carved, fondant coated work of engineering….one of those wobbly wacky looking Dr Suess cakes.
That’s the scramble, so why are you now going to laugh?
As I said earlier, I am not deviating from the recipe much, initially I thought we had no choice but to make spinach pasta and Ray doesn’t “do” spinach, so I told a couple people about it and they are waiting for a taste…this then means I have a sunday meal to make as well, and guess what picky boy wants!!!!
Meatloaf and mashed potatoes!
So go ahead and giggle kids, as I am off to …
Bake 9 cake layers
Put lasagne together
BTW It is 10:58am and I vow to have this post finished, photographed and posted by the end of the day…I refuse to be late this time!!!!!! So more later.
2:44pm- First snag of the day came at 11:30am, the girl that was to open one store was going to be late, as the subway in PGH was down for some reason, so I had to go in. Got the pasta made there, here are some bad pics from cell phone camera.
5:34pm-Snag number 2, camera batteries dead, so no pics of me rolling sheets, but it is a quick charge and you will see them drying. Along with the first of the cake tiers cooling.
6:46pm-Snag number 3, no this one is much more an EVENT!!! While making the bechamel I let the dogs go out in the yard for a bit, as per usual when they returned they pranced around the kitchen. However, I was working on my roux and was being careful not to go past “blonde” on it, so I paid no mind to the happy romping pooches. Long story short…there was a pail of driveway tar out back, somehow it was knocked over and here is the result!!!!
8:18pm-Things are looking up, dinner is done, more cakes in the oven, camera battery is good to go and Mr. Picky Eater is on “floor patrol”!!!!
9:07pm-Taking a Celebrity Apprentice break!!!!
To hell with the time checks, the water is boiling and it will be done in time. The complete recipe can be found here. The only variation from the original recipe was in my Bechamel. When I make this sauce I typically dice a small onion and a couple cloves of garlic and simmer that in the milk, I then strain the milk into the roux and cook as directed in the recipe. I used my own sauce and not the recipe given, I would share that recipe with all of you but then it would no longer be my secret sauce and I would not be a happy boy and let’s face it, after the day I have had we all want me to be a happy boy!!!!!! So I am in the final stretch, it is finally in the oven, obviously I am not going to be eating it tonight but I can say the cooked pasta was divine!!!! It was perfectly “to the teeth”, just as any good pasta should!
TADA, out of the oven with 20 minutes to spare…the only thing is I may not get a plated photo in time, so here is one that has been edited a bit so as not to spoil what I hope will be the surprise!!!!!
And now, one last picture and hopefully a surprise… we are the Daring Bakers, which to me means we go a bit beyond the norm on occasion. Since I have been so into cakes and I have never to my recollection seen a round lasagne…. well, I dared!!!!
Ok, so all done but it was a LOOOOOOONNNNNNNNNGGGGGGGGGGGG day and the only way to sum it up would be to quote my dear Mrs. P, “FAAAKKKK!!!”.
I am a bad, bad, bad Daring Baker…ok, well not really but perhaps a lazy one this month!!!!! Here it is 11 hours into the 29th and I am just starting to write my post…50 lashes with a pizza dough cat o’nine tails!!!!! I would soooo love to say I have been busy beyond belief or that “something came up” but really, no!!!!! I have just been unfocused and LAZY!!!!
This month’s challenge comes to us from Rosa of Rosa’s Yummy Yums, initially she was to be co-host with 2 others, unfortunately though that was not to be. I won’t go into the hows and whys of that, as most of you are already aware… I will say however, her choice to continue forward was a wonderful tribute and provided us all with a great challenge.
And this challenge was what, you wonder? In case you missed the cat o’nine tails reference earlier, it was Pizza or more specifically the dough on which any pizza is built! The recipe comes to us from “The Bread Baker’s Apprentice: Mastering The Art of Extraordinary Bread” by Peter Reinhart. All in all it was a rather simple endeavor even though it is a 2 day task, most of that time consisting of proofing and resting. Aside from staying true to the recipe as it was written, our only other requirement was to attempt to photograph the tossing of the dough…now I promise I really did toss the dough and I am not trying to use the old “my dog ate my homework”excuse but……The pizza was served for this month’s game night and my designated photographer was more involved with cocktail hour than me tossing dough!!!! And truthfully, even with a self-timer or remote controlled camera, taking one’s own photo whilst tossing dough really doesn’t work!!!! I did attempt, truly!!!!
With only the 2 above requirements, the rest was a free-for-all…sauces, toppings, sweet or savory and on and on!!!!! I will say this about being unfocused, lazy and writing this 11 plus hours into posting day…Daring Bakers RULE!!!!!! I am reading between my thoughts other’s posts and I am running across some damn HOT pizzas!!!!!!! For instance
Plum, mascarpone and stuessel topping…what else can I say but, “You GO Girl!!!!”
Now, since I have been lazy this month and I have not paid much attention to this here little ole bloggy thingy, I noticed upon starting this that WordPress has a nifty new feature… so to reveal my pizzas for this challenge I am going to attempt a Pizza Personality Poll.
And now for your viewing pleasure a diptych, or in this case…”quad”tych. Which is your Pizza Personality?
And now 14 hours into posting day I finish the prose!!! 16 hours into posting day and this one is all done, happy tossing y’all as I am sure we will all give this another go!!!!!
For those of you that have visited before and are wondering….yes I do cook things other than cake!!! Seems I have been on a cake binge as of late, but really I haven’t made anything worthy of a post till this one!
This particular recipe came my way through my browser’s reader and immediately I knew I was gonna give it a shot. Not because it was terribly different, terribly hard or any such madness but because it sounded terribly up my alley as far as taste goes!!!
Now I love lobster, filet and all the culinary stars but my favorite meal of all time, ALL TIME I say is…
No turkey burgers or veggie burger for me, I absolutely adore the good old fashioned 100% beef hamburger!! So are you aware yet that I love hamburgers?? Well if not….hamburger, hamburger, hamburger, beef, beef, beef, YUM, YUM, YUM!!!
Now I am not gonna bore ya with the recipe details, as I said it is terribly simple, so check it out here!
What I did do differently this time was bake my own hamburger buns. I am learning my way around yeast and I wanted to give it a go. I sent out a request to my baking buddies and was rewarded with not one but 5 easy yet tasty recipes for breads that could easily show off a good burger. I decided upon Bread Chick Mary’s ” No Fail Farmer’s Bread“. I did an eeney, meeney, miney, moe kinda thing to choose which recipe to use but I was pleased I landed on this one. The reason being it said no fail, well, I am not yet steady on my feet with yeast, so I figured this would be a test. If I screwed this one up, then maybe I should stay away from the yeast. Well, it is truly no fail and now I am working my way through the other for recipes I received.
That being said, I am just gonna go for the quick menu, a picture or two and a skedaddle out the door here….
- Cheddar burgers with balsamic onions and chipotle ketchup
- Watermelon Salad with Balsamic, basil and red onions
- Busch’s Baked beans (concession to Ray)
- No Fail Farmer’s bread
Ciao for now…..or would that be CHOW!!!!
As for the Post Title…Well if you weren’t there then no explanation would even make sense!! Sorry , but that’s the best I can give ya!!
It is said the journey is often better than the destination.
The destination here being a wonderful sunday evening meal of…
Garden Salad w/Olive Oil and Lemon
Chicken Piccata Ravioli
ButterHorn Garlic Knots
The salad of course was a simple endeavor, garden greens tossed with a light lemon and olive oil vineagrette. The ravioli were a take on classic chicken piccatta, instead of scallopine of chicken, I made a filling of two ground breasts (chicken of course), sauted ‘em up in a little O.O., added a touch of lemon zest and grated Parmigiano. Then onto total psychosis, I have made homemade pasta quite a few times but this time I decided, “let’s do it Nona’s way” hand rolled, no pasta roller. FEH!!!! How those ladies did it, I’ll never know! I rolled, I sweated and then I rolled some more, I was rather pleased as I could actually make out the grain in the counter under the sheets of pasta. That being said, it was quite tasty in the end, however it was a far cry from Nona’s micron thick angel hair!!!
“What?” you ask would inspire such madness…
and their quest for the Ultimate Garlic Knot recipe. A garlic knot is pretty easy to explain, a yeast dough, formed into a rope, tied into a knot, baked and then SLATHERED in garlic butter.
A Bakeanista however is a little more difficult to pin down. I believe the text book definition is a small collective of friends and online buddies that get together to bake and chat…
Kinda like a 1950′s “Coffee Klutch” updated for the 21st century via Cyber Space.
You may ask, “how much can y’all chat about baking?’… well I have only been around for 2 scheduled bakefests and one or two impromptu chats and I would have to say… not alot!!! Don’t get me wrong, there is a ton of good info discussed but this group gets onto topics that would make Sophie Tucker blush!!!
Boy Toys and Penises and Breasts, Oh My!!!!
Hint Hint: Check out the title of the post again!!
OK, so onto the meat (or in this case dough) of the matter, it all started when Lis and Mary were discussing garlic rolls. Now this is a bit of a “which came first, the chicken or the egg situation here…
Lis has a restaurant close to her with SUCKY food but great garlic rolls
And thus our bakefest for June was born!!
10:30 am, a bit late, I joined the baking and bawdy chat.
We had a choice between two rolls, the King Arthur or ButterHorn versions…
Both recipes, as well as my pasta and piccatta recipes can be found here.
I went with the ButterHorn version, as I am but a novice in the ways of yeast and the KA version had some ingredients I don’t have readily at hand. Altho, with two yeast victories under my belt, this one and one you will hear of soon enough, I fully intend to give the KA version a go!!! The day had quite alot of things going on, so I was back and forth with chat, kitchen duty and life in general but what it ultimately produced was pretty damned good!!
And now my “tassleless” garlic knots!
After Ray and I sat down to dinner and cleaned up, I went back to see who if anyone was still hanging on. Damn near 8.5 hours later from original sign on, the free for all was still in full swing.
Last I recall there was some talk of penis turds or turd penises (or would that be penii?)
And that is but a glimpse into the great journey that ended in a Fantabulous Sunday dinner!!!
And with a Herald of trumpets here they be…