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Saturday, July 30, 2011

Roasted Tomato Sauce

I was running around all day today, getting ready for my trip to Denver. I had no intention of creating a blog post. I also couldn't let 2 1/2 pounds of tomatoes I purchased earlier this week go to waste. I bought them to make a roasted tomato soup, but there was just too much going on to get to it. So, this morning I stared into a bag of beautiful tomatoes. The original plan was to roast them and freeze them whole until I got back. The thing is that I forgot that I was supposed to drizzle them with olive oil and dress them up all fancy before roasting them. Then I realized I didn't have any ziploc bags to put them in. I did have some freezer containers,  I figured I would eventually puree them anyway, so I pulled out the immersion blender. What I ended up with was an amazingly thick, yet smooth tomato sauce. With the risk of sounding like a soup commercial, it was so thick I could scoop it up with a fork. Scoop it up I did, right into my mouth. I was eating this stuff like applesauce. Roasting the tomatoes made them super sweet.  I have made a lot of tomato sauce on the stove top. It is a long messy process that usually yields pretty thin results. This was the perfect texture for pasta or pizza sauce. No salt, no olive oil, no seasoning, nothing yet this sauce was incredibly good and flavorful. I was amazed by the whole thing. So, as I sit here in the airport waiting for my flight I thought I would share it with you. It really is a beautiful thing. If you are reading this in Fairbanks I used the heirloom tomatoes from Dave's Tomatoes at the Farmer's Market.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Caramelized Cornflake Cookies

I have never eaten a Cornflake Cookie from Momofuku Milk Bar. This can hardly be called a knock-off recipe when I am not entirely sure how the original tastes. Recently, I was browsing through my recommendations from Amazon. Yes, I was browsing through Amazon recommendations even though I promised myself I wouldn't buy any more cookbooks for a while. That is when I found out that Momofuku Milk Bar is coming out with a cookbook this fall. Instantly I found myself dreaming about the Crack Pie I made a while back and all the similar things that might be in this book. Before you know it I am off and searching for other Momofuku recipes. There are a lot of sites out there where people have been re-creating their recipes. You know imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, if so this place has a lot of fans. Not being able to wait for the cookbook to come out I decided to see if I could find another recipe a try. I was browsing the bakery menu when I came across these Cornflake and Marshmallow Cookies.
I actually tried several of the knock-off versions, all were pretty similar in that they were really greasy and placed the marshmallows on top of the cookies. They may very well be more similar to the original than mine, but I decided to tweak the recipe more to my liking. The final result is a chewy, toffee like chocolate chip cookie. Not health food, but not dripping with butter either.
I actually prefer the marshmallows mixed in rather than sitting on top. In a bout of laziness I  came about this by accident when I tossed them into the mixing bowl of the stand mixer. Make sure you watch your mixer carefully using this method. If it looks like this is a little more than your mixer can take, blend in the final additions of chocolate chips, cornflakes, and marshmallows by hand. I wouldn't want you to burn out your motor.

P.S. Thanks to everyone who sent me such kind words of encouragement and best wishes about my new job. I know things have been quiet around here lately, but I want you to know that I have no intention of quitting this blog. I have been working both my new job and my old job for the entire month of July.  I'm off to the Food and Light Workshop next week. If I get a chance I'll post from Colorado. Once I come back it will be one job and one blog. I plan to get back on schedule and posting regularly. Thanks for sticking around! 

Friday, July 15, 2011

Confetti Salad (Orzo with Lemon Vinaigrette)

When I  first started cooking in my early 20's I went through a phase where every dish I cooked  was "confetti-ed". I would literally chop up several peppers and onions all at one time and have them ready to go for the week. Potato Salad with tri-color peppers and red onion was one of my favorites. This salad also made the potluck and party rounds as well. It's an instant party in a bowl!
I don't actually remember how I made it back then, only that it was a pasta salad with peppers and onions. As I was flipping through my cookbooks the other day I found this recipe that reminded me of my confetti pasta salad days. I just happened to have a few leftover pepper scraps from dinner the other night, turns out I am still pretty fond of tri-color peppers. So, I decided to give this salad a whirl for lunch.It really hit the spot, nothing better than a lunch that is both visually appealing and tasty as well.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Lemon Basil Roast Peaches

I recently started using Eat Your Books to index all of the recipes in my cookbooks. I had heard that there were programs like this out there, but the layout of most of them was that you pretty much had to index all your favorite recipes yourself. When you have 138 cookbooks that is a lot of recipes! Eat Your Books already has most cookbooks indexed for you. It didn't have all 138, but it did have a large chunk of them. Why would I want to do this you ask? Well, when  you have invested in 138 cookbooks you really would like to use them. The problem is that it is so much easier just to google basil and peaches if you want to find a recipe that uses basil and peaches than it is to look through the index of each and every one of your cookbooks. So, more often than not I use the internet rather than my cookbooks to cook from. A very big waste of my hard earned resources if you ask me. The process to get this all set up took me about two hours, but I really do think it was worth it. Now I know that I have access to 19,611 recipes, but only four of them contain basil and peaches. Why basil and peaches you ask? Well, I was really curious about the flavor combination. I had recently seen sodas and some jam using the combination. I was looking for a little less commitment as I was uncertain I would like the combination. Then I stumbled across this simple recipe for roast peaches with basil and lemon. I skipped the lemon and just used lemon basil instead. This is another one of those recipe for when you need a quick and simple dessert. It is just as easy to make for two people as it is for twelve. It also makes a pretty spectacular presentation. Guests will be impressed. The flavor combination is really amazing. You can also use regular sweet basil, it tastes great as well. I was really surprised how well the two go together. Now, maybe I'm ready for the commitment of peach basil soda or peach basil jam.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Blue Cheese Dressing

Summer, I would eat nothing but salad if left all alone. I'm serious. David and Brody (our dog) went on vacation last week. I was so excited to eat salad for dinner every single night. I guess I should specify, only salad for dinner. We eat a lot of salad when David is here, then it is just an accessory to the main meal. Anticipating a week alone I ordered Blue Cheese from Point Reyes Creamery. I have been wanting to make a classic wedge salad for a while. Really, a wedge salad is all about the dressing. In my version I used butter lettuces,  really they don't have much more flavor than a wedge of iceberg. So, it goes without saying that you want to use the best quality ingredients you can find for your blue cheese dressing. I have really been into the Worcestershire Sauce from Bourbon Barrel foods. That paired with chives from my garden and tomatoes (red and yellow) fresh from the farmers market made this salad really spectacular.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Cleaning Out the Freezer, Getting Over My Fear of Pie Crust, and some Landscaping...

Sorry, no recipe for you today. If you are on Facebook check out the Pie Party happening or Twitter (#pieparty). There are 1,200 people around the world making pie together. A virtual pie party. I wanted to play along, but I have this crazy fear of pie crust. I have my Grandmother to blame. You see, she made the most amazing pie crust and I grew up hearing my Aunt Mary and my Mom talk about how difficult it is to make. You see they have me so scared that I have never even tried to make it on my own.  All of my other pie recipes on this site are made with pie crust from the little red box in the refrigerator section in the grocery store. I know, what kind of food blogger can't make pie crust? Well, today I decided I was going to take the first step in learning to make pie crust. The reason I am not sharing the recipe here  is because I hardly think that one pie crust qualifies me to teach others how to do it. I do hope that it might inspire others with the same fear. The crust recipe I chose was a bit challenging. The dough was really sticky. No, it wasn't the dough with the vodka in it. I could have used some vodka during this process however. I ended up rolling the dough between two sheets of waxed paper, but then it stuck to the paper! So, I then put it in the freezer. Then it was too cold and cracked trying to get it into the pie plate. In the end I still managed to pull something out of the oven that resembled pie. Hooray!
You may have seen that I posted something on Twitter yesterday about making a Buttermilk pie, well it turns out I didn't have enough butter to make it. I really didn't want to run into town on my last day of vacation. So, I decided to clean out the freezer of the berries I had left from last summer. It will be time to start putting berries up for this winter soon. I needed to make space anyway. It is mostly blueberries and a few raspberries. Turns out I had a whole quart of blueberries hiding in the back of my freezer.
In other news, my landscaper has returned. You see, every year since we have lived here we have had a certain landscaper show up anywhere from February to May to tidy up the rose bushes and trees in our yard. We don't mind too much as she works for free. We were a little upset when she trimmed one of our $40 apple trees down to the snow line last year. But, you get what you pay for. Things are looking a little ragged around here as she had not yet shown up. It turns out that the reason she was so far behind schedule is that she had two apprentices to train this year.

Sorry about the blurry photos, but as long as I live in Alaska I will never get used to seeing these huge creatures in my yard...

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Boozy Cherry Clafoutis for Two

Ok, so maybe I just like saying Boozy Clafoutis. Go's fun isn't it? I always feel really proud when I am able to whip something up in my kitchen that requires no special trip to the grocery and also requires little effort. Although this clafoutis takes 40 minutes to bake, it takes about 15 to put together, and that includes pitting the cherries. Am I the only one who hates pitting cherries? Well, in some other recipes I found they recommend actually leaving them in. I didn't do that here as I wanted the cherries to soak up the flavor of the rum. I ended up making this recipe three times this week. The first time I tested it out was on Tuesday night, it was so good and easy. I doubled the recipe and made it again on Wednesday night for friends. Then, this morning  I made it minus the rum for breakfast. For breakfast? Yes, for  breakfast. How is it any different than a dutch baby or these apple pancakes? In fact, I will argue that it is healthier as the only butter I used was about 1/8 teaspoon to grease the pan. If you have been around here a while you know I have proposed much worse options for breakfast.
In any case, I am positive boozy clafoutis is going to become a regular around here. I see several versions in my future including Boozy Bourbon Peach Clafoutis early this fall, maybe a Raspberry Chambord as well. The options are endless. Have a good idea for a good boozy clafoutis combo? Let me know in the comments section.

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