Saturday, October 31, 2009

Accidental Oatmeal "Pancake" Cookies by Colleen

Colleen is back again today as guest blogger with an update from her kitchen.

Didn't expect to be in the blog already [for the Easy Chocolate Mousse] complete with pictures. You make the process look so tidy and professional-like. Glad it worked out. Our mousse is already gone. There was a fight about it.

So yesterday the baking palooza continued with Oatmeal Cookies. I doubled the recipe (from the Quaker oat box) and put in the first batch to bake. To my horror, they went completely flat and spread out all over the pan. I went back to the recipe to see what I left out and surprise, I had doubled everything but the oats. I quickly added oats to the cookie dough that was left. But surprisingly, the flat cookies are very, very good. Very chewy and moist and the flat shape almost makes them look like a praline.

I might actually make them this way on purpose next time.

Accidental Oatmeal Pancake Cookies

5 sticks butter
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups brown sugar packed
1 cup sugar
2 tsp vanilla
3 cups flour
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon
2 1/2 cups chopped pecans
3 cups oatmeal

Cream the butter and sugars. Add the eggs and vanilla. Blend in the flour, salt, baking soda and cinnamon. Add in the nuts and oatmeal. Scoop with ice cream scoop dough onto pan. Leave room between the cookies so they can spread. Bake at 375 degrees for 10-12 minutes. I took them out and left them on the cookie sheet for a few minutes so they could firm up and not tear.

I think these could be good for making ice cream sandwich cookies. Make them a little smaller (mine ended up about 5 inches across) and put soft vanilla ice cream between the cookies and freeze. You could dip half into melted chocolate. Or spread melted chocolate in the inside of the cookie and let harden before you put the ice cream in the sandwich to have a little chocolate surprise flavor inside.

It also seems like you could do something with cooked/poached pears or apples in spices with these and whipped cream or ice cream for a dessert too.

Some accidents are happy.

They are getting eaten regardless. You know, they make for an excellent breakfast cookie. With all the nuts and oats, you are doing better than a bagel or donut. Not as good as shredded wheat. Nothing is perfect.

Time to carve pumpkins.


Friday, October 30, 2009

Easy Chocolate Mousse by Colleen

Thanks for being guest blogger, Colleen!

Today I made chocolate mousse. The chocolate cheesecake was gone (Charlotte's favorite) so I made mousse.

Here is the recipe. It only has three ingredients:

12 ounces milk chocolate chips,
8 ounces water,
2 cups heavy cream.

Put the chocolate chips with the water in a bowl over a wide pan with about 1 inch of water. Heat the water and melt the chocolate until smooth, stirring frequently. Take off the water and let cool.

Whip the cream until JUST BEGINNING to take shape. It should still be very soft and flowy. It will look too loose to be right, but it is. When the chocolate is cool (does not feel warm on the top of your lip) then fold the whipped cream into the chocolate and blend thoroughly. You can put the mousse into individual dishes, or one family-style bowl. Refrigerate. It will take longer to set in the large bowl. Serve with berries, whipped cream, chocolate shavings, etc. Very rich.

This is from Bittersweet by Alice Medrich. It is a technical recipe. You overwhip the cream and something bad happens. I don't know what, as I haven't managed to do that, but perhaps it goes grainy? I like the fact that there are no eggs involved.

Comments from Barbara: Made it for guests coming over tonight---needed something quick and easy for a Friday night dinner. Yes, indeed, it is an easy mousse. I was nervous about whipping the cream correctly, but sailed through. Made it at lunch time and it was firm by 4 when I took this photo. Thanks again, Colleen, for contributing!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

River Rat Cheese & Apple Pie

An excellent combination. The Simplest Apple Pie served at room temperature with some wedges of sharp Cheddar cheese.
New York State makes some very good cheese, and one of them is River Rat Cheese from the Thousand Islands area. Tom's mother is a big fan and gave us a block. What a treat!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Roasted Butternut Squash and Apple Soup

While choosing our Halloween pumpkin at Fullagar Farm this year, the butternut squash nearby were too good looking to let pass. I selected a big one. It's been parked on my kitchen counter waiting for inspiration. Plus I still have a couple of apples left. And then this recipe fell in my lap, just when I needed it! Love that.

It was on the back of a yoga schedule I picked up yesterday. Tweaked the recipe by cooking it on the stove top with a bay leaf and stale bread, after roasting. And added a dollop of sour cream when serving ----to make it even more delicious and to cut the sweetness a little.

Roasted Butternut Squash and Apple Soup

Large winter squash (butternut)
2 medium onions, peeled and quartered
3 garlic cloves, peeled
2 tart, firm apples, peeled, quartered and cored
2 T. olive oil
mild to medium chili powder (I used Penzey's 9000)
3.5 to 4 cups chicken broth
day old bread
bay leaf
sour cream for garnish

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a large roasting pan, combine squash, apples, garlic, onions, and oil; toss to coat. Generously season with salt and chili powder. Roast, stirring every 10 minutes, until veggies are fork-tender and lightly browned, about 45 minutes.
Transfer to a large soup pot. Add chicken stock, bay leaf and stale bread. Stir, then bring to a gentle simmer on extra low and cook for 1/2 hour. Remove bay leaf, let cool slightly, then puree with a hand blender until very smooth. If needed, season with salt. Serve with a dollop of sour cream and a sprinkling of chili powder.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Simplest Apple Pie

I had some apples that were beginning to get soft, so I looked for an apple pie recipe today and came up with this one. The title, as well as the technique for the crust, appealed to me.

Earlier in the year, my sister-in-law, Colleen, had kindly sent me a cookbook for inspiration called Home Baking by Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid. Frankly, I was intimidated by it. It is a huge, heavy book. Baking cookbooks make me nervous because baking requires a certain amount of precision, which is not what I am about as a cook. But when I sat down and finally looked at it today, it is filled with wonderful recipes. Why did I wait so long?

Here's how I made their recipe for Simplest Apple Pie:

2 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar, more for the apples, if needed
12 T. ( 1 1/2 sticks) butter, cut into small cubes, softened
2 large egg yolks, at room temperature
3 T. sour cream
zest of one lemon (they said on a 1 t. but I love lemon zest)
up to 2 T. cold water, as needed
About 3 T. fine fresh bread crumbs
8 medium-to-large McIntosh apples (nearly 4 pounds)
2 T. fresh lemon juice
sprinkle of cinnamon and nutmeg (my addition to the recipe)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and grease a 8 x 8 inch square baking pan.

This part was easy:

Mix the flour and 1/2 cup sugar in a medium bowl. In another medium bowl, place the cubed butter. Add the egg yolks and sour cream and beat with a wooden spoon. Add to the flour mixture and stir. Add the lemon zest. Use your fingers to break up lumps so the mixture has a coarse cornmeal texture. Add water a little at a time if needed to make the dough come together, blending it in, then pull the dough together into a mass. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate while you prepare the apples.

This part was a pain in the neck:

Peel the apples. Core them, too. Using a coarse grater, grate the apples. Should be about 8 cups. Coat them with the lemon juice as you go. They still will turn brown and look ugly.
If needed, add some sugar. I didn't, but Tom wishes I had added brown sugar.

Then for the fun part:

Spread the breadcrumbs in the bottom of the pan. (Don't know why the breadcrumbs are needed.) Remove the dough from the refrigerator and cut it in half. Place one half in the bottom of the pan on top of the breadcrumbs and press it out until it covers the bottom of the pan. Pile on the grated apples, mounding them up in the middle. Crumble the rest of the dough over the top of the apples to cover.

Bake for 1 hour, or until the top is touched with golden brown. Serve hot or at room temperature.

The book says that it is a recipe of Eastern European Jewish origin. I am not sure that I would call it pie. It's more of a cobbler. Pies are round and this one is square. And, I wouldn't call it simple. Plan more time than you think for grating the apples and cleaning up the mess. But I will still make it again.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

BBQ Brisket Chili

Score! My chili was a hit tonight. They want me to make it again, so I am writing it up before I forget how I did it. My goal was to make a chili with lots of texture, bright colors and depth of flavor. Actually, that's not true. We needed something for dinner and I was too lazy to go to the store. Tom and David were watching college football together, so while they relaxed, I decided to concoct something.

What I had to work with were a few slices of leftover BBQ brisket and drippings, a little bit of leftover black beans, and leftover roasted carrots.

Here's what I did. Chopped an onion into half moons, sauted them in a little olive oil, but on very low, so they didn't become too limp.
Found a yellow pepper and some celery in the fridge. Chopped them into bite sizes, and added to the onions. Seasoned with salt.
I liked the color combo at this point. But didn't know what to do with the seasonings yet.
So, to kill time while I thought about what to do, I went to the BBQ brisket I had cooked for Tom's birthday last week.
I removed the fat, then chopped it up in to nice, uniform, bite-size pieces. Brisket can be stringy. This was a good move. In the chili, the brisket bits were packed with flavor and easy to eat.
From the leftover drippings in my gravy separator, I discarded the fat. It tasted good, but mostly like the Dinosaur BBQ sauce I had used. Very sweet. So, I knew I needed to compensate. Then I tasted the leftover beans. Also, sweet, but I had forgotten I had made them very spicy. So, no need to add heat. The carrots, which I had roasted, were also sweet. Lots of sweet things.
Decided I'd better bump up the garlic. About 2 T. Note that the veggies are not over cooked. I kept the heat on med-low.
Time to commit. I decided to go Texan (Tex-Mex) with my seasonings. 1 heaping T. of cumin. 2 T. ground ancho chili pepper. A couple of shakes of Mexican oregano. Added the beef, the roasted carrots, black beans, and combined.
For a proper chili, tomatoes are added. This is what I had on hand.
Added the tomatoes to the pot, along with some Worcestershire sauce (about 2 T.) and a big glug of red wine (maybe a 1/2 cup).
Brought it to a boil, then added a package of frozen shoepeg corn.
Covered and turned it down to a simmer. Then, let the flavors mingle for about 1/2 hour. Turned it off and then re-heated when the football games were over. I added some chopped cilantro, because I had some, but not necessary.

The brisket and black beans are key ingredients to make this chili a success. They are great recipes on their own. I will post them, too, when I get a chance.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

I'm back and October 17th Soup

To explain my inconsistency in posting lately: My 85-year-old mother was ill most of this year and recently passed away. She enjoyed her life until the very end, and was sharp as a tack. One of my last conversations with her was about recipes; in particular, pickle canning. I have had many memorable moments with her, especially in the last year, and I will miss her a lot.

When I was thinking about how I was going to get back into my routine of food blogging, soup came to mind. It is one of my favorite things to make, because I can experiment in the kitchen. Sarah once told me that she thought we made too much soup when she was a kid.

This is a soup which I started making one fall day many years ago on October 17th; hence, its name. Its primary ingredient is country style pork ribs.

October 17th soup
(don't remember this recipe's origin )

1 large onion, chopped
1 medium carrots, chopped fine
2 stalks celery, chopped fine
1/4 cup olive oil
2 lb. country style pork spare ribs (boneless)
1/2 t. salt
ground pepper
2 T. flour
1 1/2 - 2 cups dry wine
3 1/2 cups or more of beef stock
2 t. sage
2 t. rosemary
2 t. chili powder
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 T. fresh coriander (cilantro)
Optional: 1/4 small pasta or rice

But first I thought I'd mention my fabulous new addition to our kitchen. In the photo, it's that magnet knife rack shown above my prep area. Tom hung it for me, now that he is retired, and willing to do such things. He's a peach.

Another new addition to our kitchen is this frying pan. This is its debut. It will never look this shiny again. Got it at Wal-mart. I read in a review that their line upscale line called Tratamonia, or something close that, was equal to All-Clad for a fraction of the cost. So, I was willing to venture into Wal-mart to buy one, and I am glad I did. It's a surprisingly good pan.

Saute carrots, onion, celery in 2 T. olive oil until soft, not brown (about 5 minutes.) Transfer to stockpot.

Dredge ribs in flour, salt & pepper,

and brown them in oil. About 4 - 5 minutes. Transfer to stockpot.
De-glaze the pan, Boil down 1/2 of wine, stirring in meat bits.

Pour over meat/vegetables in stock pot.
Add the rest of the wine plus 2 1/4 cups of beef stock. It wasn't enough liquid in my case.If necessary, add more stock or water to cover the meat and veggies.
Add seasonings and garlic.
Bring to a boil and simmer for 1.5 to 3 hours.
With about 20 minutes to go, add the 1/4 cup of small pasta or rice.
If you goofed like I did and bought bone-in ribs, be extra careful to remove all the bones and serve.

It's a good soup, but not my best soup. I am a little off my game. I added way too much rosemary and I know better. Rosemary is a strong herb. Use it gingerly. The next day we added our leftover roasted vegetables ---chunky potatoes, carrots and brussel sprouts. As we re-heated it, it became more of a stew.