Friday, March 29, 2013

Springtime at the Whole Foods

And they have my favorite grapes!

We've already established that I have an attraction to foods that are only in the stores for limited times, right?  One of those foods happens to be Muscat grapes, which are just so amazingly tasty and beautiful I have to buy lots of them when I see them.  Which is now.  I bought about 6.5 pounds yesterday and at least 2/3 of that have been eaten!  (Not entirely by me...)

Another thing I finally got brave enough to buy was a package of kumquats.  I see them all the time and decided that I should not be so timid.  My Brasilian friend says that the ones she used to have in Brasil were much sweeter than these, though.  So, after struggling through a few I decided I would candy the rest.  I cut them all in half and simmered them for 20 minutes in a simple syrup (1 cup water, 1 cup sugar) and then put them in a jar.  I did not process it, but it sealed anyway from the cooling of the syrup.  It'll go in the fridge, along with another jar of just the syrup, in case we want to make creamsicle sundaes or something.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Chocolate Cake

Is there anything better?  I don't think so!

It's that time of the year again, when my husband has a birthday and I make a fabulous chocolate cake.  And, generally, some kind of dinner to go with it.  But really, it's all about the cake.

This year it's the usual sour cream chocolate cake with a chocolate ganache.  I put strawberries between the layers and then used the cooled ganache to pipe over the strawberries and make it look good.

Oh, yeah, the dinner was chicken cordon bleu, broccoli rabe with soy ginger dressing, and buttermilk/baking powder biscuits, with clotted cream, strawberry rhubarb jam, and/or honey.  The honey came from bees raised by an architect I know through work.  Every once in a while I wonder about beekeeping.  But, then, I think, "I have enough to do.  For now."

Sunday, March 17, 2013

All or Nothing

Winter is always a slow time for canning but this year has been exceptionally slow.  Between work and everything else, my cooking time hasn't been what I wish it could be.  This afternoon I seem to be making up for it!

I wanted to make an Irish Soda Bread today for St. Patrick's day and I tried this recipe a week or so ago and we all really liked it.  Well, the 7 year old would have preferred it without raisins.  So I went to Whole Foods to get buttermilk and clotted cream and saw... Meyer lemons.  (Danger! Danger!) Anyhow, I figured I had some time and bought a bunch.  Enough to make three batches (6 half-pint jars) of Meyer lemon curd.  Yum.

Then I made a double batch of beef stroganoff for dinner (I know, not very Irish, right?) and am currently putting up 2 quarts of stroganoff for later dinners.  These are in the pressure canner at 10 pounds of pressure for 90 minutes while the rest of the stroganoff simmers and waits for dinnertime.  This time I used just shy of 4 pounds of stew beef, regular button mushrooms and a small package of baby bellas, shitake and oyster mushrooms, a couple of onions, some red wine, and 2 jars of Heinz mushroom gravy.  I usually use Dawn Fresh gravy, but the grocery store I have to use now (the one I liked closed, boo...) doesn't carry it.  Don't get me started on the grocery store thing...not only is my favorite store turning into a Whole Foods, which puts one within a mile of my house (remember? Danger!), but the more standard grocery is just a nightmare.  I avoid it whenever possible.

Lastly I made 2 loaves of the Irish Soda Bread - one with raisins and one without.  That ought to please everybody.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Pi Day!

Once again, Pi Day caught me unawares.  You'd think I would know by now!

I did have 2 cups of blueberries that needed to be eaten so I made a small pie.  I should always, always, remember to not use pre-made pie crusts.  I don't even know why I bother!  It never looks or tastes as good.  I was just being lazy.

I'll have to make a better pie soon, just to make up for it!

Anyhow, here's the filling:
2 cups blueberries
1/8 c. minute tapioca
1/2 c. sugar
1/2 T. lemon juice
sprinkle of cinnamon

This was put into a 7 inch pie crust, topped with butter, and the top crust put on.  After a milk wash and some sugar sprinkled on top, I put foil on it, baked it at 425 for 15 minutes, then at 350 for 40 minutes. The foil came off halfway through.  Again, not my best pie, but at least there is pie.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Chocolate Bliss

You can just see a glimpse of the soda bread behind the pudding.
There is no other way to describe it.  The pudding is super rich.  My husband declared it, "Almost beyond the bounds of chocolate-iness."  Each half-cup serving was topped with a dollop of whipped heavy cream.  I need to go curl up and hibernate now as I think I won't be hungry for a month!

But, before we got to all that goodness, for dinner I made a sausage-kale soup and this Irish Soda Bread.  I had buttermilk leftover from making the scones and this is a bit like a really huge scone.  In fact, it was excellent with the leftover clotted cream...

The recipe for the soup is:
8 sweet Italian sausages
2 carrots, diced
1 rib celery, diced
1 onion, diced
2 quarts vegetable stock
1 bay leaf
salt and pepper
2 cans white cannellini beans with the liquid
1 bunch kale
1/2 cup ditalini pasta (all I had left)

The onion, celery and carrot were sautéed in oil and then the sausage was added, removed from the casings.  Once the sausage was browned, add the stock, beans, bay and salt and pepper.  After this simmered for a few hours toss the kale and the pasta in and simmer until the pasta is done.  

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Now I Need a Glass of Milk

And I just had a tiny little taste!

The Glissade Chocolate Pudding is everything it was promised to be.  I used bittersweet chocolate with 70% cocoa.  In lieu of fine grain sugar I substituted regular sugar.  But, oh, the egg whites really make it wonderful.

Tomorrow everyone gets a serving.  For tonight, though, I licked the bowl myself.  No sharing.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Tea Party

For many years, our birthday present for my mother was to go out for high tea.  There was a great little place in RI that served a beautiful tea and they were willing to have children as young as 4 as long as they were well behaved.  It became a tradition.  But, as is the case for all things, the place changed and the magic was gone.  We tried to find a new place and failed.  Instead, we decided to recreate the experience ourselves.
The scones (not pictured) are from this recipe for currant scones.  We used my one precious jar of elderberry jam and also some strawberry jam for those who might think the elderberry jam is too seedy.  And clotted cream.  Mmm, that clotted cream is awesome.  Happy belated birthday, Mom.

Cucumber, ham salad, egg salad and smoked salmon sandwiches.