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Monthly Archives: May 2011

Blackberry Lemon Crisp for Emergencies

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Today was one of those days. Actually, it was a full 48 hours, where I’ve been getting bad news after bad news, from all corners of the bad news spectrum: financial, medical, scholarly, and familial.

I haven’t been dealing with it quite as well as I would have hoped, just because it’s hard to handle it all, without going completely mad. And I’ve gotten to that point, twice, today. An hour or so ago, I was able to pull myself up out of the disaster and stop feeling sorry for myself.

I looked up a few things online and turned on my Nigella show, and started to pick up the pieces again. I organized and Post-It’d everything I could imagine that needed to be sorted through, organized, and managed, and then I found this recipe.

It’s perfect for one of those days, and I just about over 2 cups of Blackberries waiting to be used up, and baked.

excuse the slight blurring of the image

Adapted from http://www.pinchmysalt.com

Serves 2-4

2 cups fresh or frozen and slightly defrosted blackberries
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
1/4 cup sugar
1 scant tablespoon + 1/3 cup whole wheat pastry flour
pinch of salt
1/3 cup rolled oats
1/4 cup lightly packed brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
3 tablespoons cold butter, chopped into small pieces

I also added some cardamom, about 1/7 teaspoon.

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Butter a 1-quart baking dish (or as I did, which was in two 16 oz.  ramekin dishes).

2. In a small bowl, toss together blackberries, lemon juice, sugar, scant tablespoon of flour, cardamom (if using), and small pinch of salt.  Pour berry mixture into a greased 1-quart baking dish or divide between the ramekins.

3. In a separate small bowl, stir together oats, 1/3 cup flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, and lemon zest.  Add pieces of cold butter and cut in using a pastry blender or two knives (or rub in with your fingertips) until crumbly.  Sprinkle topping over the berries.

4. Place baking dish(es) on a sheet pan and bake, uncovered, at 375 degrees for 20 – 25 minutes, or until filling is bubbly and topping is lightly browned.  Serve with vanilla ice cream.

I don't have Vanilla Ice cream, but my homemade Pomegranate works just as well.

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My Version of Scalloped Potatoes

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I’m not an expert on potatoes, baked potatoes especially. It’s my secret mission to learn how to cook bacon perfectly (which I’m almost done perfecting) and how to bake potatoes perfectly.

So far I’m thinking that this is a success and is going in my notebook as such.

I am in a bit of a money squeeze this week, and probably next, and I had to use the potatoes somehow, and I’m really glad I was able to use them all.

my victims

9 red potatoes

equal parts thyme, oregano, mace, and garlic powder

butter, about 3 tablespoons for dotting on top

lots of Parmesan (about 1 1/2 cups)

1/2 a medium onion

2 cups heavy cream

lots of cheddar cheese (and by this I mean, about 3 cups of it)

special equipment: just a 9 x 13 inch casserole dish

The prep work:

I was freshly grating the cheddar, this is about a 1/3 of what's needed

slice as evenly as possible the potatoes

caramelized onions

So you start off by caramelizing the onions. This will take a good 20 minutes, and in the meantime, you slice the potatoes and grate the cheese. Or open the bag of already grated cheese, for lazy people, that one would get at the store. I decided to work for my supper, literally today, and grated all 3 cups of cheese necessary. Not counting the Parmesan which goes on top as a final layer of salty goodness.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Once the onions are caramelized you can start your layering process.

layer half the potatoes, like so

Dollop on as evenly as you can the first and only layer of onion on the potatoes, and follow with a layer of cheddar cheese. Repeat process by layering the potatoes again, then, this time, with the spices instead of the onions, and finally more cheddar.

Drizzle all of the heavy cream over this mixture and then dollop with some butter.

Over this add the Parmesan cheese.

dollop with the butter

Place in oven for about 55 minutes to 1 hour. But start checking it at 45 minutes, depending on your oven’s strength.

golden wonderfulness is all I can say

DIG IN!

Inspirations from Nigella

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Ouefs En Cocette 

I stumbled upon this while watching Nigella Express and flipping through her cookbook of similar name; this is basically a fancy French name for a egg that is prepared with cream in a ramekin, as a souffle would be. I noticed that I’ve always wanted to make this ramekin egg dish from “Retro Rapido” section, and the show just reminded me of how delicious it looked.

It’s Sunday, so I figured a little bit of indulgence was perfectly fine.

note: I added two eggs instead of one for this dish simply because I’m hungry , and my ramekin is large enough to fit it.

2 eggs

white truffle oil

kosher salt, 1 teaspoon max.

1/3 cup of  heavy cream

boiling water

butter, room temperature

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Butter the ramekin generously, and break in two eggs.

Add the salt and heavy cream, making sure not to break the yolks.

Drizzle some white truffle oil, and remember that a little goes a long way, so try not to over-do it. I drizzled the equivalent of 1 teaspoon, maybe half that, in fact!

I just love that glistening oil

Put the ramekin in a larger, oven safe dish. Fill with recently boiling water so it goes half way up the ramekin walls. Place in oven carefully, and cook 20-22 minutes. Original recipe called for 15 min, but since there are two eggs you have to cook it longer.

Serve immediately, with lots of buttered toast.

  

That yolk was dying to be broken

Mock Buttermilk Chicken Breast

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That's a piece of roasted garlic stuck into the chicken, for fun of course.

You might be wondering what is “mock” in this recipe… is it the chicken? Is it the buttermilk? And yes, it is the buttermilk. I didn’t have on hand, so I went online and looked up what can be done for a decent substitute. Although the 1 cup milk and 1 tablespoon either lemon juice or vinegar (I used lemon juice) didn’t curdle the milk in the 10 minute sitting period, it was still a tasty chicken breast.

1 cup buttermilk (or use my method above)

2 chicken breasts, about 3 lbs total meat

salt and pepper

equal teaspoons of mustard seeds, cumin, nutmeg and chili flakes

2 cloves garlic, peeled, and cut in half

olive oil
Allow the marinade to sit for about 30 minutes, so don’t preheat the oven just yet.

For the marinade:

spices, garlic, salt and pepper, chicken and buttermilk should be placed in a ziplock bag and thrashed around a bit to get the chicken completely covered. Place in fridge (in a bowl to reduce possibility of leakage) for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Place chicken without shaking off any of the marinade in an oven safe container.

Drizzle with olive oil and place in oven for about 20 minutes.Internal temp should be about 135-140 degrees depending on how thick your chicken breast slice is.

My handy little meat thermometer sticking out

Serve with rice, cause that’s what I did. But I’m assuming potatoes would be lovely as well.

Spring Cleaning Bug

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I’ve been hit, suddenly,  with the cleaning bug.

Although I’ve said it before, I want to repeat myself, I’m giving myself till the end of August to see if I can finish cleaning, redecorating, purchasing, and organizing everything in my apartment. All a part of my own version of “extreme” spring cleaning, I suppose.

I started off with my clothing. I have a closet and  a 6-drawer dresser full of stuff. Ok, I’m lying, out of those 6, 2 are dedicated to unmentionables, and 1 is dedicated to my makeup (I don’t have storage, nor space for storage in the bathroom for these items).  I went around my home and decided starting with the sweaters and t-shirts in the dresser would be a good way to ease myself into this cleaning spirit. I threw away anything that made me look 15 again, I haven’t worn in the past year, and that didn’t fix quite right but still looked ok/good.  I got about one large bag of shirts from that endeavor.

Then, I moved on to my shoes (and thankfully, I only had to get rid of one pair), and the stuff hanging in the closet. I filled out 4 trash bags and a medium sized bag I had saved from a shopping trip. I got rid of all my pants, well practically all of my pants from high school, saving only about 3 or 4 pairs. These were not jeans, but rather dickies and dressy pants. I also got rid of about 8 or so shirts that I’ve always wanted to wear but that never looked good enough with any outfit to do so, so why keep ’em?

that monster of a bag to the right is hiding that fourth bag

I’m soooo tired… but since I’m Wonder Woman, I decided to tackle my pdf’s that I’ve stashed away from all my English classes. In assorted page lengths of about 5 -60 pages each, I have I’m sure, over 2000 pages worth of articles and peer-reviewed journal notations enough to write several editions on how people need to edit their articles, because college students need the facts, not the dribble that takes then hours to read through, in  a 15 page article… but I digress… point is, I never wanna see most of these again.

 

I did save a few that I thought were interesting, which resulted in about 200 pages of actual material worth reading.

I’m so happy school is over right now.

Speedy Seafood Supper

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So you can learn from my mistakes, and never attempt them.

the dish in question

I decided that I had a lot of fish, just sitting around in my fridge, mostly pre-frozen, store-bought, and by no means fresh. However, as I’m behind on my Cookbook challenge, I decided to give Nigella Kitchen  a gander to take a look at what the Goddess had to offer. This was what I found, a “speedy seafood supper” with nothing on the “seafood” part to enlighten me other than ” frozen mixed seafood.”

Not so terrible, or so I thought. I’m assuming the recipe would have been a lot better if I used different seafood. I’m sure of it, actually.

Next time I’m looking for a seafood dish, I’ll probably attempt a delicious one from Hot Sour Salty Sweet.

Serves 2-4 (I found 2 is just enough when served w/ rice)

pinch of saffron threads

1 cup freshly boiled water

4 teaspoons garlic flavored oil

1 medium sweet onion (note: original recipe called for 6 scallions)

1 teaspoon each anise seed and thyme (note: original recipe called for, which I didn’t have, 1/2 teaspoon dried tarragon)

1/2 cup dry vermouth or dry white wine (of which I used sparkling and it was fabulous)

1 14- ounce can diced tomatoes (note: original recipe called for  1/2 x 14-ounce can diced tomatoes, but I found this to not be enough when soaking the rice in the mixture)

1 teaspoon kosher salt, or 1/2 teaspoon table salt

2 fillets of whiting, 2 fillets of flounder, and 4 scallops (this is where the “1 pound frozen mixed seafood” was)

pepper, to taste

fresh herbs to serve (sadly ran out when I used the last of the parsley for my eggs this morning)

few dashes of white truffle oil (my own addition)

Put the saffron threads in a bowl and add 1 cup freshly boiled water.

like so

Warm the garlic oil in a wide, shallow, heavy-based pan over a medium heat, and fry the scallions and dried tarragon ( or thyme and anise seed) for a minute or so.

Add the vermouth (or wine) and let bubble for a minute, then add the saffron in it’s yellow water, followed by the tomatoes, and let it all come back to a boil. Add half the amount of the salt specified above.

Turn up the heat to high, add the frozen seafood, and bring back to a boil, then turn down the heat to medium and cook at a robust simmer till the seafood is hot and cooked through, which should be 3 or 4 minutes.

Season with pepper to taste, and add the rest of the salt if required, sprinkle with any available herbs (and the white truffle oil if using), if you feel like it, and serve, for peasureable mopping, with some crusty bread.

*My misfortunes stemmed from my fish choice, which after this experience, I will never even purchase again. The whiting, especially, and flounder were too “fishy” and the scallops were too much of a light taste to compete.  Therefore the dish, I felt, was slightly off balance, and even though the white truffle oil complimented the sauce in the rice and the scallops, it mixed awfully with the rest of the fish.

* I recommend, from what I can identify in the cookbook image that went alongside this recipe, to use squid/ calamari rings, cut up, along with some scallops (if preferred) or shrimp, and some mussels and clam meat.

I’m looking forward to tomorrows Treacle Tart bars a lot more than tonights dinner.

Challenging Downtown Disney

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Not the soup I had, but sure looks good.

My lovely friend and her sister dragged me out of my home today to drive 50 miles south towards Disneyland. We didn’t really go into the park but rather enjoyed the food that’s offered outside the park instead.

In any case, I had the best potato cheddar bacon soup ever, and not to say anything bad towards the restaurant or Disneyland in general, but I felt like it lacked a few spices and could have used a lot more bacon. So, I’m going on a secret mission (like I don’t have enough things I want to finish throughout the year) to perfect my own Potato soup recipe with really large and delicious bacon slices floating around, along with sharp cheddar.

To start, I’m going to be using my own mother’s recipe and seeing if I can add equal parts of Alton Brown’s soup and the Neely’s soup. The results will either yield a soup that’s fantastic and unthinkable, or I’ll have a mixture of all three, making 5 different equally delicious recipes for a simple potato soup. I’m hoping for the former.

Also, just for fun, I’ll be adding in this recipe for my “quick and semi-homemade” version, cause every great chef has one (and I’m sure I have at least 5).