Monday, December 31, 2007

Happy New Year!

To all my friends, my loved ones and everyone else in my life: Have a wonderful new year. I'm hoping that 2008 will be far better for us all!

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Hobbit Food

I've written about what we'll be doing on New Year's Eve for Disney and these are some recipes that go along with that post. I've also included a photo of what NOT to do when you're making Toad in the Hole.

Welsh Rarebit
Printable Recipe

4 T butter
2 t mustard
1 t Worcestershire sauce
dash Cayenne Pepper
2 c shredded cheddar cheese
1/4 c beer or milk
8 slices toast

Melt together butter, mustard, Worcestershire, cheddar and beer. Stir until smooth. Add cayenne and stir. Top each slice of toast with cheese sauce and place under a broiler until bubbly and browning.

Mushroom Blanquette
Printable Recipe

I learned to make veal blanquette in school, and there is nothing else like it. I figured the way that Hobbits love mushrooms, I'd make it with just mushrooms and no veal.

4 cups vegetable or chicken stock
1 lb button mushrooms - cut in halves our fourths
2 T butter
1 egg yolk
1/2 c heavy cream
10 blanched pearl onions

Cook mushrooms in butter until tender. Add stock and heat to a simmer. Combine egg yolk and heavy cream until well blended. Temper this by adding a half cup of hot stock and whisking like mad so the egg yolk does not cook. Add the cream, egg, stock to the mushrooms in a thin stream, whisking all the while. Let simmer until thickened and add the onions. Salt and pepper to taste.

As for that Toad in the Hole - do NOT try to make food for a post at the same time you're trying to get dinner for 9 in an 8ft x 8ft kitchen! Things happen - bad things - and stupid things, like forgetting to heat the casserole dish you're adding the Yorkshire Pudding to. If you miss that crucial step, you don't get a pretty crimped edge around your sausages, you get a flat I-don't-know-what. It tasted fine, but looked bad:

Friday, December 28, 2007

Beans 'n' Cornbread

In between Christmas and New Year's we try to keep the food a little lighter here. Beans are not as heavy as you may think, but heavy enough to be filling, and more than that, comforting. There's nothing better on a cold day, I assure you.

When I was a kid, my mom made beans and cornbread often. She's from the Midwest in an area that was settled mostly by people from Tennessee and Kentucky, so most of the food that mom grew up with had a heavy Southern influence. Regardless, my mom never made beans and cornbread with pinto beans; she always used navy beans.

I don't have an exact recipe for these beans, but it goes a little like this:

Cover 1 pound of navy beans with water and soak overnight. Drain and rinse them. In a big, heavy pot, cook about 5 slices of diced bacon until crisp. Don't drain that bacon grease! Leave it where it is and add a chopped onion, one chopped carrot and 2 chopped celery ribs. Add the beans and cover by one inch with chicken stock. Cook this over a low flame for just about forever, or until the beans are soft and the stock has thickened a bit. Add a generous tablespoon of salt and a healthy dose of pepper. Don't add salt while the beans are cooking or they'll get tough.

While those beans are cooking for the last half hour or so, make your cornbread. Please don't use that boxed stuff, real cornbread is so easy to make that there's just no excuse for it.

Makes one 8x8 pan
Printable Recipe

1 1/4 c. flour
3/4 c. cornmeal
2 T. sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 c. milk
1 beaten egg
1/4 c. oil

Combine flour, cornmeal, salt, sugar and baking powder
and stir together well.
Mix in milk, egg and oil.
Don't over mix this, you want your cornbread to be tender,
not rock-hard! Mix just until moistened.
Bake 20 to 25 minutes in a greased 8x8 pan at 400 degrees F
or until golden brown.

Now, you can serve this in a big bowl with the cornbread tucked off to the side, or do what we always did; smother that cornbread with beans and eat 'til you pop!

Thursday, December 27, 2007

And the best gift this year is...

Yes, Anthony Bourdain's No Reservations had me giddy and squealing like a schoolgirl at the mere sight of the cover. He's crass. He's rude. He's genius. If you push your way past the grit you'll come to truly appreciate his writing, his humor and his very different and wonderful perspective on life. He's not living it from afar; from an armchair as I am left to do, but from the darkest depths to the highest heights and everything in between and this book showcases it in all its glory and grungy fabulousness.

I'm waiting with baited breath for the newest installments of No Reservations to be aired on The Travel Channel this January. I expect to be entertained in the fashion in which Mr. Bourdain has so deftly accustomed me to. Bring it on!

Monday, December 17, 2007

My eggs have been stamped!

Look at that ... what's next? I still say the best way to go about it is to collect them each morning from your own hens.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Of Birthdays and Cookies and Cakes

Today is my Erin Maureen's birthday--she's 11!

I made cookies for her to take to school based on the monogrammed cuties I posted about at I thought cookies would be a nice change from the usual cupcakes that everyone sends for birthdays.

I used royal icing for the cookies and colored them with a packet of unsweetened drink mix. I did this accidentally when I made the batch for Cookies to Caviar. I needed a really red color for the cookies and was completely out of red food coloring; way to plan ahead. I searched the cupboards and found a tropical punch flavored packet of drink mix and it was the PERFECT color. Not only was the color great, my kids told me the cookies tasted like SweeTarts.

So, knowing I would be making these cookies for Erin, I decided to go with the SweeTart flavor and used cherry and orange to color and flavor the cookies. It's a decidedly delicious difference that you really should try.

Here are her cookies and the cake I made with cheated store-bought letters.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Martha Stewart Living Radio Recipe Contest

Check this out from
SIRIUS Satellite Radio and Martha Stewart:

Send us your best main-dish Super Bowl party recipe and you could win a trip to the SuperBowl! That’s not all - the winner will also receive a set of Martha Stewart Collection cookware from Macy's, $1,000 to donate to the food bank of their choice, and the winning recipe will be published in an issue of Everyday Food!

Full details on how to enter:

**I totally love that the $1,000 prize is donated to a food bank! Get on it --these recipes are due by DECEMBER 10th--and send your yummiest recipe for your chance to win~who wouldn't love to see their name in Everyday Food?**

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Please Pray

Our landlords, very dear and patient people, are missionaries to Uganda. There has recently been an outbreak of ebola there that has claimed the lives of 3 health workers, and friends of theirs. This is such sad and frightening news. Please pray for their family and team.

Read about this at ParadoxUganda.

Monday, December 03, 2007

My Bread Towel

I love baking bread, and this is my beautiful bread towel covering dough for a Moravian sugar cake I'm making for another post. It's made from an old feedsack that my mother hemmed and added a tab to so it could be hung. It's getting old and worn thin from all the use it's seen over the years. I can't say it's a bread towel only, though-I use it to cover any yeast dough that I make and it's seen it's fair share of rolling pumpkin rolls and holding hot bread or rolls fresh from the oven.

I haven't found another print like it, and I don't expect to, but it will be replaced with another feedsack equally as pretty. I imagine when the time comes I'll wash it one last time and fold it gently to keep away in my grandmother's hope chest.