The other day I found a couple of premade organic graham cracker crusts I needed to use up fast. I decided to make up two different recipes; a chocolate tart and a blackberry swirl cheesecake. Honestly, I’m not thrilled with how either one turned out. What to do? What to do? Make up a third chocolatey do-over dessert, that’s what!
Here is the plan:
I plan to make our family’s favorite chocolate cake and then fold in the chocolate tart filling to the batter. I’m thinking about pouring half the batter into a bundt pan and then filling the cake with the blackberry cheesecake before pouring the rest of the batter over the top. I will have to adjust the baking time of course and will make a blackberry icing to drizzle over the top once the cake is cooled. Sound pretty good right? I think so too.
Ever wonder how to create the perfect sear? Do you know how long to allow each type of meat to sear before turning? Well, Dear Readers, I do! Yay!
The perfect sear sizzles down to two things; a trick and timing. The “trick” is do not touch the meat but allow each patted dry, lightly greased and seasoned side to sit in the pan untouched, this will create a crispy, golden crust that seals in juices. The “timing” depends on the type of meat. For example; fish takes about 30 seconds a side, porkabout 3 minutes a side, beef 3-4 minutes a side and chicken can take up to 5 minutes a side. No matter the type of meat used, patience is required and rest time is must. Now go forth and prosper.
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!
Avid home cook and passionate instructor