Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Soft Pretzels

I love soft pretzels. Always have. Costco used to sell them in their food court, hot and salty. I used to buy the boxes of frozen ones to have at home. Now I'm excited to see that I can make them from scratch! This recipe for soft pretzels even makes it looks like fun...

Soft Pretzels from Maya*Made

You will need whole wheat pastry flour to make these.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Pork Chops With Red-Wine Sauce

Last year we got a great deal on a whole pork loin thanks to a friend who knows how to shop like a fiend. Needless to say, we were very interested in finding different ways to prepare all those chops so we wouldn't get too tired of them too soon (easy to do when faced with 23 of the same cut of meat). I came across this recipe in the FEB 2004 issue of Martha Stewart Living magazine. Yes, I have them that far back. Pfffft... 2004? That's nuttin' baby. I got 'em back to '98, maybe even earlier! No lie. Just ask my husband*.
*If he tries to give them to you, just say "No thank you"... It'll be our little secret.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Almost No-Knead (SOURDOUGH) Bread x2 (3 Variations)

After bringing to life my colony of bacteria*, and naming it Edwina, I wondered, "Could I make bread using Edwina and the fabulous "almost no-knead bread" method? It sure would be swell if I could. The ANKB recipe from Cook's Illustrated approximates the flavor of sourdough, but I wanted the ease of that method with real sourdough flavor. They say good things come in "three's", and as it turns out, they're right. Here are three variations of no-knead sourdough bread: Rustic Sourdough, Brown Rice & Flax Seed Sourdough, and Maple Oatmeal Sourdough. Great article, great recipes, and more great advice available on the author's blog** (another set of 3 good things!).

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Breakfast Burritos For Under A Buck

Fantastic tutorial for making breakfast burritos in bulk. Tasty, healthy, easy and cheap; what's not to love? Their cost breakdown comes to .72 each, but shopping at CostCo will bring that down even more!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Lemon Tree Very Pretty

Am I wondering what to do with all my gifted lemons, or all of the future bounty from my little dwarf Meyer? No sir, no I am not. There are more lemon-based recipes than you can shake a stick at, right here from thekitchn:

What To Do With This Bag Of Lemons?

Tip: Don't forget to read the comments also... lots of good ideas there too!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Thank God for tea! What would the world do without tea?
How did it exist?
I am glad I was not born before tea!
- Sydney Smith, English clergyman & essayist, 1771-1845

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Simple Scones

These easy scones use sour cream instead of buttermilk... I can't count how many of these I've made. Be sure to check out the footnotes for some tasty variations.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Sweet Breakfast Polenta

Perfectly comforting on a cold morning... Sweet Breakfast Polenta from Joy the Baker ...and on the following morning use the leftovers to make Fried Breakfast Polenta from Joy the Baker. From healthy-ish to downright decadent, all in one dish. Gotta love it!

Friday, March 13, 2009

Parmesan Herb Puffs

Everyone should have a "go-to" appetizer. Something you can make for a party that you know will turn out great without a lot of fuss, and tastes great too. This here's mine. Easy, versatile, and party-licious...

Parmesan Herb Puffs 
adapted from Sesame Seed Puffs, page 76, Williams-Sonoma Outdoor Entertaining, 2005

1 pkg frozen puff pastry sheets
3 Tblsp olive oil
2 tsp sea salt
2 tsp black pepper, ground
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded/grated
2 tsp fresh herbs, minced (rosemary, thyme, etc)

Position racks in middle and upper-third of oven and preheat to 400°. Line two baking sheets with parchment or Silpats.

On a lightly floured work surface, unfold 1 sheet of the puff pastry and brush the top with 1-1/2 Tblsp of the olive oil. Using a pizza wheel, cut the pastry sheet into 16 squares. Without moving the squares, cut each square in half on the diagonal into 2 triangles, for a total of 32 triangles. Sprinkle the surface with half of the salt, pepper, cheese and herbs.

Separate the triangles and using a spatula transfer them to the baking sheet, spacing them evenly. Prepare second puff pastry sheet and bake until golden brown and nicely puffed, about 16 minutes. After the first 8 minutes, switch the baking sheets between the racks and rotate them. Transfer the puffs to a wire rack and let cool for at least 5 minutes before serving.

The puffs can be baked up to 1 day in advance, cooled to room temperature, and stored in an airtight container. Re-crisp in a 450° oven for 3 minutes before serving.

Makes 64 pieces
Serves 10-12

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

"Great" Chocolate Chip Cookies?

Great Chocolate Chip Cookies from 101 Cookbooks (Adapted from The Great Book of Chocolate by David Lebovitz . Ten Speed Press, 2004)

My Notes: These were OK. Don't think I like them as much as my "regular" recipe. Maybe I'm just too used to making the same ones all the time? The Hubs liked them a lot. Of course, I don't think he's ever met a chocolate chip cookie that he didn't like! Come to think of it, I don't think he's met a cookie of any kind that he didn't like...

Monday, March 9, 2009

Chai Is Tea

I love chai. Steaming hot in winter or over ice in the summer, the spiciness of chai has such a transporting quality to it, it's quite unlike anything else. Just a few weeks ago, while waiting for our table at a local Indian restaurant, I noticed bags of homemade chai tea mix sitting by the cash register for sale. It's something that I never thought about making at home before. I would buy it at the grocery store ready to pour from a shelf-stable box, or at the coffee house chain or the coffee cart at work. But here was a dried mix. What was in it? A mixture of black tea and spices no doubt. I can do that. And as with everything else made at home, I am expecting this to taste even better than store bought. I can't wait to order the spices and give it a try.

Here are some chai recipes from chai-tea.org to start with. Some are quick and easy, some more authentic.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Almost No-Knead Bread x2

Bake two loaves of Almost No-Knead Bread at the same time
I didn't plan to have two dutch ovens. A few years ago, while doing some last minute Christmas shopping (literally, I mean it was Christmas eve) I saw it. It was: just like the one my friend had, on sale, the only one left, and a happy apple-green color. I felt so lucky to have been at the right place at the right time. It came home with me of course. Two days later, some good friends gave me another one as a Christmas gift. This one was ombre-blue with straight sides. I liked them both. I kept them both. Neither of them are Le Crueset, nor did they cost anywhere near that. Both have metal knobs on the lid that handle any temperature my oven can dish out. They are fantastic. For a long time I thought it was silly of me to keep both. Our kitchen at the time was an architect's after-thought, it was so small. But I kept them and I'm glad I did. Not only are we now in a house with a wonderfully big kitchen, but then I come across someone so brilliant as to double the CIANKB* recipe. Twice the payoff without twice the work. Gotta love that.