I’m not certain if I have mentioned it before, Dear Readers, but I am a bit of a klutz. I have a difficult time walking through rooms without bumping into walls, I find it difficult to maneuver racks in a department store without clipping my shoulder or arm. More often than not, I bang my elbow, knee, or toe on anything from a bed to a door. To validate my klutziness, the universe decided to drive the fact home. I tried to conduct a benign activity without incident, but was unsuccessful. This past weekend, I finally got around to removing the seeds from the sunflowers I harvested and right at the end of the experience a giant “something” lodged in my eye, which is now mildly infected. See what I mean about being klutzy? I guess I should have cleaned more carefully or worn goggles! Lesson learned...
Apple season has begun and I don’t know about you, Dear Readers, but I for one am ready for fall. I am ready for thick creamy soups, hearty breads and cheesy casseroles. I am ready for molten cakes and to dapple with apples. I am also ready to experiment and play in my kitchen. For the tart here, I played a bit with creating rosette garnishes with apple skins I peeled with a peeler and rolled and twirled the thin, long strips into rosettes. I placed the rosettes into greased mini muffin pans and sprinkled them with turbinado sugar before baking them about 10-12 minutes at 350° until they became golden. They turned out a bit chewy but look pretty, especially after a little dusting of powdered sugar. The easy garnish made my Rustic Apple Tart a little more elegant and it was fun to play in my kitchen. Let me know if you try it and share your results.
There are foods every home cook should have in their repertoire and at the top of that list is roast chicken. Roast chicken (good roast chicken) is one of my favorite meals. Sometimes I keep it simple and dress it only in olive oil, salt and pepper and sometimes I stuff the cavity with lemon and a handful of fresh herbs or onions and garlic. Sometimes I cook the chicken on a bed of potatoes and onions and garlic. I bake my chicken at 350°, tie the legs and tuck the wings before roasting which usually takes 90 minutes. The two preparation steps that are always the same however are; I clean out the instead icky bits (a very scientific and professional term) and I dry the inside and outside well before cooking. If I have time or have planned ahead, which is rare, I allow the chicken to “dry” overnight in a pan in the refrigerator but usually I just do the best I can with towels. I pack up leftovers, save, defat and freeze the dripping (this time of year) for gravy add ins (think Turkey Day) or to add to sauces or soups and make stock with bones. I defat and drain the stock and then either use it that week or measure out portions to freeze for later. Nothing is wasted.
Oh my goodness and joy of joys! Super duper and holy May! Today is National Cheeseburger Day! That’s right, Dear Readers! What could be better except maybe National Pizza Day! I planned for a cheeseburger dinner tonight but did not know it was NCD so I am rockin cool! I sliced strawberries and roasted parcooked potatoes in bacon drippings and draped Swiss cheese over perfectly cooked (and naked) burgers. All I can say is “YUM!”
Remember those tomatillos I blogged about last time? Well, Dear Readers, here is what I did after a little online exploration that gave me inspiration... Thanks to a recipe I found for rice bowls on https://pinchofyum.com I used as a guide, here is what I did.
I roasted about a pound each of whole tomatillos and tomatoes along with 2 small halved onions on a lined sheet tray. I drizzled them with olive oil and sprinkled them with salt. I wrapped up two beheaded cloves of garlic in foil and seasoned them the same way. Everything roasted in a 425° oven for 40 minutes. I then whirled everything in a food processor, remembering to be careful, and added honey and salt to taste along with fresh lime juice. (The 1 pound of chicken cooked in a large pan while this was happening in case you were curios.) I used two forks to shred the chicken, poured the sauce in the pan, added about a cup of half and half and then the shredded chicken. My family ate the whole thing over rice with big smiles. The End.
I purchased tomatillos for the first time and I am looking forward to dicing and then gently cooking them on the stove. So they don’t get lonely, I thought I would give an onion and some garlic cloves the same trameatment and toss them into the pan to keep my little green friends company. I am debating making homemade tortillas to serve with the salsa and maybe something a little hearty too but any accompaniments are still in the planning phase. I love to experiment with new ingredients and flavors don’t you, Dear Readers?
Speaking of new flavors, my husband, Russell, and I went into our first Indian market and it was both exciting and fascinating! One of the women who worked there looked at us with a hint of pity and a touch of ‘how sweet, you’re lost’ in her eyes but she was mistaken, I was intrigued. (I did not know of the market and we stumbled upon it.) The piles of different types of rice, rows of spices and shelves of treats made me want to go home, dig out my curry cookbook (our friends from England gave me) and start reading, learning and then experimenting!
The last days of summer... Fruits hurry to ripen, husbands hurry to squeeze in a few more barbecue sessions and students hurry to and from activities. We gardeners, or those of us who attempt gardening, hurry to harvest before fall and winter claim and destroy our hard work. I for one, have herbs to gather, weeds to clear and butter to buy in preparation for all the baking that comes with cool weather. I am planning soups and slow-roasted roasts of pork shoulder and brisket. I want to make butter cookies to decorate and breads in every shape and size. I adore watching the yeasty lumps transform into fat plaits and then bake into golden, shiny additions to our table. I love knowing I made the bread and that I loving and (shockingly) patiently watched as it grew and swelled and thrived after I brutally beat and battered it during the kneading process to emerge as something fresh and new, ready to face the challenges of rising, shaping, more rising and then finally baking. Baking bread (or most anything really) is like gardening (this is AB, Alien Baby, who I have grown from seed) or bird watching, when I observe a baby bird grow from egg to fledgling, a purely pleasurable act that nurtures my soul. I think I’ll take a nice, big shiny helping thank you!
Ever get a song stuck in your brain? You know the one, the one that goes ‘Da Da Da Da Dee...’ and then ‘Da Da Da Da Da dah...’ and then nothing! It’s maddening! Sometimes I get a ‘Da Da Da Da Dee... recipe stuck in my brain too. Do you? Thought so. You know there was something about a ‘da da da’ but then you get stuck! If you’re like me, getting stuck on a stuck recipe means digging and digging and digging through your collection of recipes, scribbled notes and favorite books. Getting stuck isn’t all bad, sometimes it leads to a new creation or an old favorite. I say, “Embrace the Da Da Da Da Dees!” Who knows where they might lead!
Can you think of any sound more soothing than the gentle tippy tappy chorus of rain falling on a rooftop or the plippy plop of rain drops into a puddle? Nope, me either, Dear Readers. Okay, that’s not entirely true... there is. Listening to the falling rain while dozing in a comfy chair, cuddled under a cozy blanket while wearing cozy clothing. Rainy days like today require an easy, comfort meal like slow-roasted anything, stacks of good movies at the ready and both a mug of hot chocolate and and the promise of more dozing. Wishing you all a lovely, lazy Sunday.
I have been binge watching one of my favorite Netflix shows, The Great British Baking Show. I have been motivated and inspired to research new pastries and long forgotten recipes. They bake, I research. They succeed or fail with the grace that only a British human can seem to muster under heat, pressure and cameras. The contestants break eggs, meringue and equipment a like, all while being filmed, interviewed and harassed.
One episode from the 2017 season focused on caramel and one of the treats the group was assigned were stroopwafels, a classic Dutch nibble. I have had stroopwafel in Holland several times and it is readily found in Dutch flag-colored cellophane bags on grocery store shelves so both our daughter Mia and I found it difficult to believe most of the contestants had never heard of the crispy, caramel-filled circles of yumminess.
What I didn’t know about stroopwafles is that they are a yeasted dough so of course I had to give them a try. The batch I made, shown above, was a bit fiddley to say the least. On the show, They did a short feature at a Dutch bakery where the treats have been made for years and years so I used that as a basis of how large each glom of dough should be and to determine the consistency of the dough as well. I own an ice cream cone waffle maker so that is what I used to make the cookies. I used a very thin long knife to slit each biscuit open immediately after removing it from the iron. As you can see from the reasonably inconsistent color of the cookies shown in the photo, I am working out the details as far as how long each should bake but it’s somewhere between 30 seconds and 35 seconds. (Did I mention stroopwafles are a bit fiddley?) I’m not going to post the recipe as yet because I am still working out the details and believe it needs more cinnamon and vanilla and possibly even a bit more salt the next time I make it. A treat this labor-intensive and dangerous to make needs to be scrumptious and totally perfect or it’s not worth the bother. The caramel filling I made is extremely sweet and I’m not sure it’s perfect either although the consistency is pretty good but it might be too chewy as yet because it began with a corn syrup base. (For those of you “caramel purists” please do not judge, I needed to begin somewhere...)
Anyway, through dough preparation and baking and cutting process where I could have easily gotten badly burned or cut, I am still stoked about stroopwafels and will share my recipe as soon as it’s good enough, I promise. Until then, I will daintily dip an imperfect stroopwafle into a glass of cold milk and say “proost!”
Avid home cook and passionate instructor