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Friday, April 29, 2011

Maple Oat Pancakes

I know I have said this before, but I am not a big fan of pancakes. Cooking them that is. Eating, well that is a whole other story. As with most things, a little practice does help. I still have not perfected my technique, but I can now make a batch of pancakes that is beyond just edible. The problem is that it takes a lot of patience. In the past I have always turned the heat up too high and ended up with burned on the outside and runny on the inside pancakes. I now put the heat just to the left of medium, this takes a lot longer, but yields much better results.
I like my pancakes crispy on the outside and light and fluffy on the inside. Most of the time I sprinkle wheat germ to achieve the effect, but I wanted something a little more subtle for Oatmeal pancakes. What could be more appropriate than oat bran? These are adapted from Kim Boyce's Oatmeal Pancakes, a few simple substitutions made them lighter in both flavor and texture than the original recipe.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Coconut Cupcakes

Being a family of two (ok, four if you include the dogs) often lends itself to a certain lackluster around holidays. As each one comes along David and I debate what we actually want to celebrate. We are two adults who are not very attached to our traditions. Which means we get kind of creative when it comes to celebrating the holidays. We pick and choose what things we actually want to celebrate. In our case it means cutting out everything but the food! Since neither of us are terribly inclined to search for Easter eggs, our day was pretty uneventful.
Even though there was no conscious effort to celebrate the day, I couldn't resist picking up some yellow tulips from the grocery store on the way home Friday night. I was looking for Daffodils, but didn't find any. Then on Sunday the power of suggestion gave me a major craving for coconut cake. I didn't really want to make a whole three layer cake, but I thought maybe some cupcakes would be nice. I have to admit these cupcakes were far more involved than I originally thought they would be. They took the better part of my afternoon when all was said and done, but were they ever good. I can honestly say these are the best Coconut cupcakes I have ever tasted and I have tried a lot of them. If you don't feel like going through all the fuss, just the cake minus the frosting and filling was quite spectacular all on its own. I could actually see them on a brunch table, simple and unadorned.  If you want to take the time and go all out, you will certainly be rewarded.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Salted Butter Break Ups

I've got my break-up boots on, and I'm not going Outside until the end of May. If you live in Alaska you probably know that means it is a sloppy mess outside and I'm not going on vacation until May. Those of you not living in Alaska probably think I'm having relationship problems and am staying in the house until the end of May. Every part of the country has its own phrases that confuse people who don't live there. So if someone in Alaska ever tells you they are going through break-up, it pretty much means it is spring. The ice and snow is breaking up and leaving behind a big muddy mess, and yes we have special boots for that here. Of course a lot of Alaskans wear those boots year round. Going outside? Well, that doesn't just mean walking out the front door, it means you are leaving the state. Anywhere that is not Alaska is considered "Outside".
Since it is Break-up here in Fairbanks I thought I would celebrate the season with an appropriately named cookie. These come together quickly, are made with a few basic ingredients, and are fun to share with friends if you are going through break-up together. Unlike the break-up here in Fairbanks, they disappear quickly leaving only a few tell-tale crumbs behind.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

White Cheddar and Dill Crackers

When I was in High School a friend's Mom made oyster crackers that tasted just like sour cream and onion potato chips. They were always kept in a big jar on top of the fridge. Each time we passed them I hoped he would offer me some. I had long forgotten about those cracker until a few weeks ago when I stumbled across a recipe for them online. I had been wanting to make my own crackers for a while, but seasoning pre-made oyster crackers seemed a bit like cheating.
Crackers are easy to make. Many times I have heard people say this. Yet somehow I just never got around to making them myself. It's not until you actually make something that you finally realize, "This is really easy". Why did I not make them sooner? I used Mark Bittman's recipe and changed things up a bit to make them taste like those dill oyster cracker I remembered. The results were a great little snack cracker, very Cheez-it like. I could see making these in a variety of flavors by changing both the type of cheese and the topping. You could easily whip up a few batches in less than 30 minutes. They would make a great little snack to go with a beer or cocktail on an unexpected warm spring day.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Snickerdoodle Blondies

I find this time of year to be the most challenging for cooking. I'm tired of baked goods, sugar weary. I'm ready to share all things fresh and green, but bare ground is nowhere in sight. I honestly wasn't even sure I would have a second post this week. I was just feeling uninspired. Then out of nowhere, Mary posts Snickerdoodle Blondies. When I first discovered the world of food blogs, Mary was one of my favorites right from the beginning. I soon realized that everything she posts is delicious. Sugar is now suddenly back on the radar. I obsessed about these Blondies all day on Monday. The great thing is that all the ingredients are kitchen staples. I didn't need to make a stop at the grocery store on the way home from work, I already had everything I needed. They smelled so wonderful baking I could hardly wait until they came out of the oven. Just like all of Mary's other recipes, they were everything I hoped they would be. My favorite part is when they cool, the topping becomes nice an crunchy adding a little extra texture to your standard Blondie. It may look like an awful lot of  sugar when you sprinkle it on top, but the end result is great.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Balsamic Vinaigrette

I would rather eat a dry salad rather than dousing it with a bottled vinaigrette. I do not consider myself a food snob. I'm not the kind of person my friends worry about inviting over for dinner because their food might not be good enough. I will eat pretty much anything (except quiche) and I don't pass judgment on other people's food habits. Except for one thing, bottled vinaigrette. It is so easy to make yourself and honestly doesn't take much more time than opening a bottle (ok, you do have to open three bottles). The thing is if you want to take the extra time by adding some fresh herbs or garlic you can go from really good to fabulous in no time. I will promise you this basic recipe that can be made in 3 minutes flat tastes better than any store bought dressing you will ever taste. I used Balsamic Vinegar, but Red Wine or another other will work great too. This does not follow your standard 3 to 1 ratio for Vinaigrette as I prefer a little more flavor.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Chocolate Cake with Creamy Caramel Ganache

Last Thursday I realized how much this blog has become part of not only my life, but David's as well. I took the day off to cook a Cuban Pork roast which involved hours of marinating and then basting in citrus juice. It was David's Birthday and the dinner was a surprise as he was at work all day. The dinner turned out amazing. As we were getting ready to eat David asked if I was going to photograph our meal. I honestly had no intention of using the dinner as a blog post. It was his Birthday and I wanted us to be able to sit down and enjoy it. When I first started this blog, getting the camera out always resulted in pacing and eye rolling. Now, it is just assumed that there will be photos when there is something good to eat. For this meal I did insist that we sit down and eat, no photos.
I did however sneak in a few shots of the cake. If you have been following along here for a while you will remember that I am Birthday Cake challenged. This year for the first time I actually managed to pull off a really good cake on David's Birthday. I asked if this made up for the other three years of flops and the reply was, "Only if you make three more of these before my next Birthday". Sounds like I have a busy year ahead of me!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Salted Caramel Budino

I have always been a bit (ok, alot) of an internet junkie. Do you remember the first time you were introduced to the internet? I guess I should specify that I am talking about the modern day internet. I actually remember my first internet experience quite well. I was dating a computer programmer at the time. It was somewhere around 1993 and he took me to the computer lab where he was an intern. I must admit I was less than impressed at first, but then I found the Australia page. Two hours later and I was hooked. I didn't yet realize I was surfing that night.
Tonight I was trying to remember what I used to while away the hours with on the internet before I found food blogging. It was then that I realized how many phases I have gone through in my life. There was orchids, kayaks, all things related to natural history, painting, and jewelry making to name a few. Not to mention my never ending obsession with traveling and my vagabond career habits for many years. The internet is an amazing place for a daydreamer. The great thing about the internet and my interest in food is that almost nothing is out of reach. A few months ago I saw an article about this Salted Caramel Budino at a restaurant in Philadelphia called Barbuzzo. Although Philadelphia might not be possible, a little internet sleuthing pulled up the recipe for the Budino. The first time I made this recipe I took the one straight from tasting table and I felt it was missing something, after further research I found that the one in the restaurant actually has a chocolate cookie crust. I added it to the next batch and they turned out perfect.

Friday, April 1, 2011

White Chocolate Raspberry Fool

I am a fool for raspberries, I guess that would make me a raspberry fool. In other ways I am also a fool. You see, I am quite trusting of people. Trusting to a fault. I have become better about this, age and experience helps. When it comes down to it, I don't often think that a person might be pulling my leg or outright lying to me. It's not my first instinct. David thinks it has to do with being an only child. I didn't have any siblings to teach me these lessons. For this reason I am a super easy target for April Fool's Day jokes and practical jokes in general.
That doesn't mean I don't love a good practical joke, or playing them. You see, I have always been the shy, quiet sort. Ok, so now all the people who know me now are rolling on the floor laughing at that statement. As a child, I was painfully shy and somewhat afraid of people thanks to my Grandmother who was a little obsessed with child abduction. That's another story. So, yes I once was very shy. This of course never made people suspect me of anything and honestly I often got away with a lot because I was a "good kid". Most people just don't think I have it in me. The thing is if you play a joke on me, I get a little obsessive about it. I will plot and scheme my response. It could take years, and you will have forgotten all about it and then I will come back with a good one. Let's just say if you ever ended up with tabasco in your toothbrush, or cayenne powder in your cigarettes...well, yes that was me. Sorry.
Don't worry, this raspberry fool doesn't contain any tabasco or cayenne, just delicious raspberry picked on a hot summer day last year, a little melted white chocolate, and whipped cream. Fools are easy to throw together and can make a pretty impressive last minute dessert, even though any fool could do it. Happy April Fool's Day to all the practical jokers out there.

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