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Spicy Sweet Onion Dip

Monday, September 27, 2010

Lingonberry Vanilla Bean Panna Cotta

This was my third attempt at Panna Cotta. I nearly posted the lovely Vanilla Bean and the Lemon that I made this past spring. Something was holding me back. Although those other recipes were far easier than this one, there was something slightly off with the consistency. What I am finding with the other two recipes is that they are perfect texture after about four hours, the problem is that if they sit overnight they continue to gel and become more the texture of jello, any longer and you have Knox Blocks. It seems that powdered gelatin just keeps getting more solid. A few weeks after this experience I still had two draft posts sitting in my inbox when I came across a blog article called "Perfecting Panna Cotta". If you are ever planning on making Panna Cotta, even this recipe I recommend you read the article first. I knew right away that I needed to delete those other two posts and try again. Then I promptly forgot all about it, until I saw a great recipe for Blackberry Panna Cotta. I started thinking about all my berry options and decided to go with Lingonberry. Unlike powdered gelatin, sheet gelatin takes some time to set up. I was really worried about these when I tried them after 6 hours as they were more the consistency of mousse, but had I read the instructions more carefully I would have realized they need to set up for a full 24 hours. At 24 hours they were perfect, I then held out and tried one each day for the five days following. Day five they were still perfect. They are really light and not very sweet, the perfect thing after a big meal. If you like things a little more on the sweet side I recommend adding an extra 1/4 cup of sugar, but if you like the tart natural flavor of the berries follow the recipe as posted.  Also, don't miss the fun blog photo out takes after the recipe. 

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Fall Highlights

Stocking up at the final Farmers Market for the season.
A trip out to Chatanika for dinner.
Picking Cranberries
Another Hike up Twin Bears
Our Evening Walks

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

World Peace Cookies

If I were to ever be fired from a job I would like the official reason to be "creative insubordination". It seems to me a reason like that would be worth getting fired. I have been reading Dorie Greenspan's cookbook (yes, reading) Baking from my Home to Yours. She has some great stories in that book, one about getting fired for "creative insubordination" and another relating to the naming of these cookies. For some reason the whole time I was making them I couldn't stop thinking about the Miss America Pageant. When I was a kid my mom and I used to watch Miss America every year. Even at a young age the platform of World Peace seemed a little daunting for any Miss America contestant to accomplish in the one year of her reign. Of course, my mother, being the good mother she was would always make some sort of comment about how I should try out for Miss America. Whenever she said this I would never think that I wasn't pretty enough, or how my mosquito bitten legs would look in a swimsuit, or even what my platform would be. My main fear was what I would do for a talent. I have no music or dance skills and nobody...not even my dogs want to hear me sing! Now, I wonder if maybe Miss America could bake these cookies for her talent. That way both her talent and her platform could be World Peace. It's just a thought for any other potential Miss Americas with no talent out there!
These are seriously chocolaty cookies, maybe there will only World Peace for chocolate lovers.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Italian Wedding Soup

You may have notice a few changes around here. First of all, I got a new camera. I dropped the old one on a rock and smashed the screen rendering me unable to see what I was photographing and whether or not it was in focus. Yes, there is a new fall header. The change I have the most anxiety about is ads on my blog. The anxiety comes for many reasons, mainly because I don't really know what this means. Right now it is just a step in what I see as an ever growing body of work. This is definitely the most time consuming "art project" I have ever worked on. I spent a lot of time deciding (nearly a year) on what type of ad network is best for me. Too many required I sign a contract for several years and then I had no control over what they placed or where they placed it. Then one night David pointed out another blog that had the same ad network I was considering and there was an ad for Chicken McNuggets. Then to top it all off someone told me they average about $6.00 a month on that network. I can tell you that is not worth it. Whew, that was a close call. So, I finally found a place that not only lets me choose the companies that place ads, but also lets me choose the ads themselves and where they are placed on the blog. I have decided that I will only display ads for those companies whose products I have actually purchased and am not only happy with, but would purchase again. I'm still not sure the money I will make will be worth having ads cluttering up my blog. I am going to give it a try for a month and see how it goes. Enough about that...
I have had this soup saved in my bookmarks for years. Literally. I absolutely love Italian Wedding soup, but I refused to make it until I could find acini di pepi. I looked everywhere in Fairbanks and found all small pasta, but I had always had it with acini di pepi and I was determined the first time I made it that it would have it. When I went back to Michigan this summer I made a list before I left of things to food items to ship back to Fairbanks. The thing is that I had forgotten that grocery shopping there is just as limited or worse than it is here in Fairbanks. Honestly, I feel a lot better about my choices here. How could I have forgotten this? Luckily, on my list of about 10 items including Mango Powder (yeah right) the only one I was able to find was acini di pepi. The second stroke of luck is that I had a good amount of time to spend in Minneapolis and was able to shop at both Whole Foods and Trader Joes.

Monday, September 13, 2010

White Chocolate Ice Cream with a Raspberry Swirl

So, here it is...the last of my summer posts. There is no doubt that summer is officially over in Fairbanks. The temperature sign registered 32 degrees Fahrenheit or the big 0 Celsius when I pulled into work this morning. That always catches me off guard this time of year. I run out of the house without my jacket, we live in the hills where it is warmer, and then I get to work and I am freezing by the time I get into the building. The days are still warm and sunny, so eating ice cream isn't out of the question. But then again, when is ice cream out of the question? Raspberries always remind me of warm summer days, so what better thing to eat when it is cold outside?
White Chocolate and Raspberries is one of my favorite flavor combinations. It reminds me of one of my favorite dessert restaurants of all-time. When I lived in Cincinnati, Ohio there was a place called "The Grand Finale". I hope it is still there because I loved their fresh raspberries with White Chocolate Mousse. This is the frozen version.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Graham Nuts

I have a fascination with foods that seem like something you shouldn't be able to make in your own home. Some supermarket processed foods seem like you should have a chemistry set rather than mixing bowls to make them. I guess that's why they call people who make those types of products food scientists, with the exception of Chef Boyardee of course! I'm not a big fan of boxed cereal. I know there are people out there who love cereal milk and I am not one of them. I actually keep adding cereal to the bowl until all the milk is soaked up so I don't have to drink that warm milk at the bottom. Most of the time I lean towards oatmeal or granola, but if I am going to have boxed cereal my first choice is always Grape Nuts with yogurt. I prefer my cereal to have some crunch and Grape Nuts definitely fit the bill.
When I saw this recipe for Graham Nuts I knew I was going to have to give it a try. The end result? Well, they have a lot more flavor than Grape Nuts. The texture is lighter, more like a crunchy graham cracker. The only downside is that I don't have a food processor. Getting them to a good size without pulverizing them was a challenge. I ended up with a good amount of Graham Nut flour. I really enjoyed the novelty of making them, but I think I will tuck this recipe away until I get a food processor. In the meantime I have been checking out some Pop-Tart recipes!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Pita Bread

Where do the summers go? It seemed like only yesterday that I made this pita bread. We had just planted our flowers and the days were endless (literally). The trees are so green in these photos that there is no way I could pass this off as a fall post. Now, I wake up to bright pink and stunningly orange skies reflecting off the bright yellow leaves of the birch trees. This has become one of my favorite times of year since moving to Fairbanks. I actually moved here three years ago mid September. Now, with working at the University the start of a new school year feels like a time for renewal. It also so time to catch up on the blog and do some housekeeping. I have three posts that I started this summer. This one for pita bread is a keeper, a no fail recipe from Smitten Kitchen. I had always wanted to make pita bread, but found it a bit intimidating. What if they didn't puff up? How could I fill them? The worries were unfounded, these turned out beautifully and dare I say the recipe made in a stand mixer is almost easy.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Crack Pie

This is another one of those recipes that is so bad that you really should not even try it. It ranks right up there with Dulce De Leche brownies on the list of things to never make again. In this case the list of "bad" things are so very good. I can't completely explain what it is that makes this pie consume my every thought. Mostly, it reminds me of a not so sweet Butter Tart. If you are not Canadian there is a good chance you have never heard of Butter Tarts. I learned of them while I was spending some time in Churchill, Manitoba. When I first tasted them I explained them as being like Pecan Pie without the pecans. This pie I think even more so fits that description as I detected a certain nutty flavor without there being any nuts in the recipe at all. None of that really matters because I won't be making it again and neither should you. (Reminder to self: add extra eggs and butter to the grocery list).
Even though I won't be making this pie again, there are a few things I would change in the original recipe... First, I would lower the cooking temperature after fifteen minutes. The original called for 350 for 30 minutes and then 325 for 20 minutes. Mine was very done by the end of the first thirty minutes. After doing further research and finding this recipe published in other places I realized they all recommended turning the temperature down after 15 minutes (I actually made this change in the recipe below). Next, I would double the crust and make them as Crack Bars in a 9x13 pan. That oatmeal crust was really good and I could see using it in other recipes. Last, I would double the salt. I think this pie would be really over the top good with just a little more salty sweet thing going on.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Lemon Butter Cake with Blueberry Ginger Preserves

This cake could be for a wedding, birthday, or even an anniversary. Today it is all three. I made this cake a few weeks ago for a friend's wedding. It goes without saying that the cake was sublime. I want to make another one because I only had the slightest sliver of this one thinking I would go and get more if it was good. Well, it was very good and very gone in about 3 minutes flat!
This was my first Alaska wedding and I loved it. What a beautiful day. The bride and groom looked relaxed and happy with all of their guests at their home. All of their friends brought good food to share. There was plenty of smoked fish and goodies from everyone's gardens. It reminds me of the weddings I went to growing up in Northern Michigan.  So many of the weddings I have attended these days are in some fancy (sterile) hotel. The bride and groom pay way too much for a plate of bland fish and overcooked vegetables and most of the guests are gone shortly after the cake has been cut. Although I didn't stay late enough to see these lanterns lit, I guarantee that many of the guests did and the band(s) played well into the night (if not the next morning). Congratulations to the bride and groom, you really deserved this beautiful day!
Today is also the two year birthday (or anniversary) of the blog. I felt bad that I didn't have a cake to share on the blogs birthday last year, so I saved this one to share today. 
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