Monday, November 21, 2011

Pub Short Ribs for Coziness

The first chill of fall (right before that freak snowstorm) came at the right time for me to make this...
 Pub Short Ribs
From a cookbook that I have used a few times, after having bought it in one of those it's-such-a-good-deal and the-photos-are-so-pretty moments: Braises and Stews, by Tori Ritchie.
The funny thing is, I couldn't for the life of me be sure whether they were beef short ribs or pork country ribs. I know, peg me with an A for Amateur, but I checked online for pictures of both, and I just couldn't tell. Pigs can get big, right? Anyway, I finally figured it out (I hadn't asked the butcher, just pointed; David Sedaris comes to mind) by realizing that the chapter where the recipe resides is all on beef. So, for those of you may also not have known, these are beef short ribs, and so tender that they are breaking apart into their own little bit-size pieces. Glorious.
I used a regular onion because I didn't want to spend my one red onion on a slow cooker recipe, and I used not a porter or stout but some random dark beer of moderate quality that I had had in my fridge for, like, a year. I don't drink the stuff. But it was marvelous what it did for the flavor of the sauce!
Highly recommended, book and recipe. Now that it's really getting chilly, DC, go to!

Bittman, Baking, and The Best Dishes

Today, I bring you three recipes tried and news of some fun to come.

The first recipe is for "Autumn Millet Bake," the sound of which is something quite atrocious, but turned out pretty well, even with my typical tweaking tendency. I first saw the recipe at Heidi's site here, and was inspired to try something with millet: how pioneer-like! how quaint! how self-reliant! (You see how I like to get carried away with evocation)
Here were my changes:

  • scaled it down by half
  • used cooked squash
  • didn't have sage
  • added roasted corn kernels
  • didn't use nuts
  • added different seasoning (a disadvantage of losing my notes on this one is I can't remember which)

I don't think I managed to fully cook the millet, and I'm not sure why, but it was quite crunchy, and quite tart from the (frozen-fresh) cranberries. I had it in the morning as a whole-foods pick-me-up at work and it worked out well, providing about 4 servings (so I gather they were estimating for hungrier people in the original recipe!).

It certainly looked pretty with the colors that pop, and satisfied the belly, being made with plain foods and low in fat. If and when I try this recipe again, I would stick closer to the original and maybe cook it longer so that the cranberries had more of a chance to stew.

This next one has only one picture, because it wasn't very photogenic and it wasn't very flavorful. Strike Two (bringing the count to 1 and 2) for the Traditional Scottish Recipes book I bought in Scotland.
Third and final recipe: Italian Apple Cake, from FrenchieTBD, which stands for The Best Dishes in the title of this post. As far as I can tell, it is a defunct blog, and I often find a broken link, but some industrious fishing gets me back to the actual site and recipes. I really liked the writer's style of posting a life anecdote with a dish, so I'm bummed that she hasn't posted in a year, but what can you do: life goes on- thank goodness!
I brought this one for coworkers, and boy, was it good! Moist, as the photo shows, good browning, rich and airy crumb, and with the intoxicating scent of rum mixed in with the fresh, local apples. Ah, life is good.
And now for the news to come: I am excited to participate in the Food Blogger's Cookie Swap 2011!
The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap 2011
I haven't decided yet what type of cookie to bake for my compatriots in the Food Blogging World, but I want it to be good! And I'd rather make an assortment of 2 or 3 types to mitigate the risk of disappointing, but we have been instructed to only use one recipe... so I guess I'll look over my recipients' blogs to see what they like!
Try this cake. You won't be disappointed.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Scottish Imitations

Imitation being the sincerest form of flattery...

 My first imitation was Millionaire Shortbread (top: mise-en-scene for the Compilation; bottom: one of several goodies on a dessert plate), but since I brought it to a party and for some reason didn't have my good blogger hat on (cell phone camera), it has gone largely uncatalogued, except in the memory of my tastebuds (and those of the party guests). But I will definitely try making it again for a gathering, just include more chocolate (the top layer swam a bit because it was too skimpy)!
For this second attempt, I went to the next favorite thing on my list of foods tried in Scotland for the first time: tattie scones. Now, I've linked both of these to the internet recipes I used for reference, but I sort of cross-referenced those with the versions in this book, which I got while I was in Inverness, but ... it has its own limitations. So I ended up doing a hybridized, as well as scaled-down, version of both these attempts, and they both came out all right: the caramel shortbread off on  some proportions, but tasting fantastic anyway, and the tattie scones lacking in shape, but tasting marvelously Scottish for a' that.
So anyway, how do ya make 'em? Basically, you boil potatoes, mash 'em up, let 'em cool, add some flour so it'll stick together, and then roll 'em out and play patty-cake. Since I am hopeless with a rolling pin, I gave it one 'old college try' then resorted to my hands and this nifty new kitchen tool that you see above: one of those slicer/scooper-up thingies. A name, anyone? I know I'm showing myself as the amateur I am, but Oh Well. I figure this tool will come in handy when another wave of bread-baking comes upon me, since dough and I have been through some interesting times...
Even with the dough slicer, the triangles I formed were less than happy to remain uniformly sized, and so it became a bit of a hodge-podge. It also took longer than the expected 5 minutes on each side to brown them up. Perhaps I should have added more flour? Or even, sacre bleu, an egg?
But here we are, with the finished product, a proper genealogy of tattie scones (you can trace it from the paleozoic era to the pliocene epoch, kids!), as, from left to right, top to bottom, I 'progressed.'
I put half away for later, stuffed myself with the other half (this girl is not used to eating a whole potato in one sitting), and happily fell asleep.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Bake, Saute, Forage

Having received the bounty of undamaged ripe pears from my parents' backyard (thank you!), at first I waited. I indulged in a pear-chocolate hazelnut spread snack, but knew I needed to act on the other 3 pears-a-waiting before things got ugly. Enter convenient recipe.
Having bought poppy seeds on an impulse on my way back from Vermont, I now stood poised, wooden spoon at the ready, to make Whole Wheat Poppy Pear Loaf. I didn't have mini pans as the blog author does, so I made one big loaf, saved some for home, and again, contributed to the yumminess level at work.
As often happens when one bakes, there was a need for balancing out the sugar-butter concoctions with greenery. I was out of my favorite standby kale, but had branched out to what I think were mustard greens, but I'm not sure. Bought at the Bloomngdale Farmers' Market (so soon to close for the season! Boo!) from Snowbear Farm, I believe.
What I thought was really interesting here was the growth of little mini-leaves in the middle of the bigger expanse. It may be hard to see here, but they often came in pairs, on either side of the spine, like they had been pinned on. So fascinating, Nature... Anyway, so I shredded the alleged mustard leaves from their spines and used this recipe to guide me from Deborah Madison, whom I like a lot. I had cauliflower, I had greens, and I had potatoes, from my incursion further into the deep interior jungle of Scottish cooking (up next!)...
Some steaming involved, and sauteing...
La mise en place, bien sur...
The spices part (where hopefully I smell up the hallway, in a good way)...
And the greens part, where they all cook down to almost nothing...
Yum, very tasty and good texture. Added bonus: feeling virtuous and healthy.
One chilly October night (I've had to turn on heat a few times), probably in the midst of reading, probably not having planned ahead as in the two instances above, I foraged in my kitchen for a picnic-type meal. I came up with leftover squash puree with pine nuts and parmesan, crusty bread, cheese slices, and chutney. Which is, sometimes, just what you need.
Added bonus: delight.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Highlights of Home in October

Highlights of October, after the Road Trip
Peach-Rhubarb Crisp with Walnuts and Pecans, riffed from this very good recipe, sharing counter space with the walnut fudge I picked up at Dakin Farm in Vermont, which has the byline, "What Vermont tastes like." Good, apparently.
Egg whites whipped a little too stiff for Orangette's Salted Peanut Butter Cookies recipe. I guess the hand mixer made things a little too easy...
These cookies were pretty different from others I've made: for one, salted peanut butter instead of unsalted, PLUS salt, PLUS milk chocolate. I typically trade that stuff out for dark chocolate, but for science's sake, I stuck with the spirit of these cookies.
For another thing, they were HUGE. Instead of a dainty teaspoon or a rounded tablespoon, Molly had us taking big 1/4-cup handfuls (I actually just used my hands and rolled it off like play-doh; it wasn't too sticky for that, thankfully).
And the third thing, as you saw above, was the separating of whites and yolks before combining. Now I've done that for cakes and things, but for a cookie? My efforts, while a little too enthusiastic, were not made in vain. As always, my touchy oven needed to be cut off in its cooking 25% earlier than the recipe said in order not to overcook the beauties, but then they came out, and I had way too many big, gorgeous cookies to hand to deal with!
So I took them into work, and two dozen disappeared in 2 days (I brought them in in two shifts, since we always have people working from home, and it seemed only fair to give everyone a chance). The other half dozen might have disappeared from the counter in that time...
Finally, returning to the savory world, I made this concoction- my first steamed (poached?) egg from Judith Jones' recipe for Steamed Egg(s) Nestled in a Bed of Greens. I really like her recipe-writing style. Something about it is so comforting, warm and reasonable. This felt great to eat, being so healthy and homey, and using up the last of summer produce I had stashed (tomato) plus the rare bit of fall bounty that had arrived (maitake mushroom, sprinkled on after this photo was taken). Happy Fall!