Thursday, December 29, 2011

A Guest Post From Parker's Mommy and Salted Caramel

Annie and Tim are here visiting with my Parker. I knew that Annie would be the baker during their visit because she got the baking gene that her mama doesn't have. She rocks at baking. Annie is guest posting here for me. Yes, she is the one with the brains in the family so take it away Annie...


My mom is really good at a lot of things: Cooking, knitting, weaving, throwing a party...the list goes on. There are some things she isn't so good at (believe it or not), most notably, baking (and sewing but that's for another post). We knew we were in for some great meals when we arrived from Oakland to visit for the holidays. I had some legitimate concerns that Parker would never want to eat my cooking again and grammy may have to ship meals from MA. Mom asked if I could make something for dessert for Christmas/Hanukkah dinner. I actually like to bake and am not the best cook, so we make a good team. I asked around to see what everyone felt like. Grandpa food was quick to chime in: he wanted cheesecake. My husband Tim confirmed this was the only choice. I've been on a caramel kick this season and I'd been wanting to make a recipe I saw on pinterest from The Modern Apron for Salted Caramel Cheesecake. It was just as glorious as it sounds.

First, we decided we needed some drinks, to set the mood of course. Egg nog it was. Mom said only the real stuff from the farm would do.


Then time to grind some graham crackers in the food processor and add all the ingredients for the delicious crust. I did find the crust slightly over salted and might add a tad less salt next time. Everyone else thought it was perfect.


While the crust was baking, I made the dulce de leche cheesecake filling and mom kept drinking. It sure was nice using a big kitchen with everything at my fingertips I could ever want to bake. It seems to go much faster..


Once the crust was done, we let it set overnight in one of three of my mom's refrigerators. Yes. You heard me correctly - she has three.


The next day I took the cake out to get ready to make the caramel sauce. I was very upset about the cracks. Of course, my mom said it was beeeautiful and called me obsessive compulsive. Pot calling the kettle black, eh?


I sucked it up and made the caramel. It made me a little nervous not using a candy thermometer, but it came out perfect!

caramel before

caramel ready to come off the stove!

Poured in on the cake, let it set in the fridge and, as mom would say, voila! Salted caramel cheesecake.


Parker approved (but he still likes grammys salty meats better).


Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Double-cooked Red Chicken, Marrakech-Style is my new BFF


What can I say that I haven't said before? Paula Wolfert's recipes are amazingly good. There I said it for the millionth time. No, I don't get paid to say it and no she isn't a relative. She is just awesome and I want to share. We picked another recipe from her new cookbook "The Food of Morocco" to make this past weekend. I am sure glad that we did.


It called for a Spatchcocked chicken. You know, that is where the backbone is taken out? I love doing chicken this way.


A garlic and cilantro paste is made and rubbed on chicken. It then sits at room temperature for an hour.


The recipe calls for Moroccan cumin (you can use any cumin but this is suggested). Dr. Food and I had ordered some online because we were curious to see the difference. There is a big difference.


Spices are mixed together to rub on the chicken.


Then you do a bunch of other stuff. Shut up, I am not a weirdo. I just get tired of goin on and on. What? Yeah, I know this is a FOOD blog but did you get the memo that I don't get paid for doing this? I will post the recipe and you do it yourself. Come on, I can't do everything for you.

Oh, one more thing! I took part in a Austin to Boston Food Swap. I was lucky enough to get Mike Galante of Austin to swap local food with. He is a great guy and a runner. He is healthy. He runs. I am a slug and I don't. We made it work though!


Mike sent me Trailer Food Diaries(and it was even autographed by the author for me). I want to make everything in there!


Torchy's Hot Sauce - I would have been a bit disappointed if there weren't hot sauce in this package. I have a ton of things I want to make with this.


Mike had done his homework and knew that I was a fan of all that is meaty. He sent me Sopressata Salume from Salt & Time I am ashamed to say that I ripped into this right away. Ok, I am not ashamed. It was fantastic.

Last but not least he sent me Confituras apple & rosemary jam. I think Mike wanted me to like sweets. I think that I will smother a pork loin or some lamb with this. What do you think Mike? Thanks so much for all the great stuff. I love it.

So, that is it. I sent Mike a box of goodies from Massachusetts. Go over to Mikes blog to check it out. I am too tired to go into it here. Remember! I don't owe you meatheads a thing.

Double-Cooked Red Chicken, Marrakech-Style
The Food of Morocco - Paula Wolfert

NOTE: To Remove backbone from chicken use shears or large sharp knife to cut dowm both sides of the backbones to remove them. Rise the chickens and at dry; trim away any excess fat. Re-form the chickens and tie them with kitchen string.

5 cloves garlic
1 Tbl coarsely chopped cilantro
1 1/4 tsp coarse salt
2 Tbl saffron Water (1/2 tsp crumbled strands heated in skillet and soaked in 1 C water)
2 Tbl unsalted butter, melted
2 3lb chickens, backbones removed and reserved
1 1/2 tbl sweet paprika
1 tsp ground cumin, perferable Moroccan
Pinch of ground ginger
1 small onion, grated

1. Mash or pulse the garlic, cilantro and 1 tsp of the salt to a coarse paste in a mortar or mini food processor. Transfer the paste to a bowl and stir in the saffron water and melted butter.

2. Rub the garlic paste all over the chickens. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let marinate at room temperature for 1 hour.

3. Cut up the chicken backbones and put in a large enameled cast-iron casserole. Add the chickens, breast side up. Combine 1 Tbl of the paprika, half the cumin, the pepper, ginger, and a pinch of cayenne in a bowl. Sprinkle the spice mixture over the chickens. Cook over medium-low heat until steam begins to rise, about 5 minutes.

4. Mix the onion with 1 1/2 cups water and pour around the chickens. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer until the juices run clear when the thighs are pierced near the bone with a knife, about 1 hour. Transfer the chickens to a cutting board and remove the strings; keep the chickens intact. Discard the backbones. Skim off the fat from the sauce, reserving 3 Tbl fat. Boil the sauce until it is reduced to 1 cup, about 15 minutes. Transfer to a small saucepan and keep warm.

Preheat the broiler. Stir the remaining spices into the reserved chicken fat. Add the remaining 1/2 tsp salt. Put the chickens in a roasting pan, breast side up, and rub with the spiced fat. Broil 8 to 10 inches from the heat for 10 minutes, or until browned. Carve the chickens and pass the warm sauce at the table.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Potatoes rule! or I am a potato addict


I was sitting in my "Big Girl Chair" aka "Lard Ass Chair" tweeting when one thing led to another (which in reality I don't remember what happened) when Justin Marx told me that he was going to send me some heirloom potatoes. All I had to do was pick the kind I wanted. I have to say that I adore Marx Foods. It isn't just because the people there are amazing. It isn't because Justin sent me Potatoes. It is because if you go to their website (which you have to do) you will see that they sell the most awesome ingredients that you can't find elsewhere. These are the awesome people that sent me my Geoduck and changed my life (waving to Justin).


So, I mulled over what I wanted to make with my Bintje Potatoes. Of course I did a little research on these puppies. I read that they make the ultimate french fry. BINGO! I had been toying with the idea of Potato Pancakes since Hanukkah was coming up. I would practice my potato pancake skills. Everyone goes crazy for my potato pancakes so I didn't really need to practice but pretend that I didn't say that.


So, I decided to go with simplicity. I wanted to taste the potato itself. I got out my gadget that makes ribbons out of food (remind me to tell you about my zucchini spaghetti some day) and made some potato ribbons.


These Bintje potatoes made the lightest and best chip I have ever tasted. No really.


Next up were much coveted potato pancakes. I shredded about 2lbs of potatoes on a box grater. As I grate I put into a bowl of cold water to keep the potato from turning brown. I then have Dr. Food put the shredded potatoes in a towel and twist to get all the water out (this is a very important step to the "FPP" (Famous Potato Pancake).


Hot hot oil is another important step.


There ya have it! Oh, what did we have with it for dinner? Well, I was pooped so I just got something out of the freezer to reheat. Just a simple Balantine.


Bintje Potato Pancakes

2lbs Bintje Potatoes, grated
2 Eggs
1 Onion, grated
2 Tbl flour
Vegetable oil

Grate potatoes and put into a bowl of cold water as you go. Grate onion and add to bowl. When done grating drain potatoes and onion and place on a clean tea towel. Twist towel to get out as much water as you possibly can.

Place potato/onion mixture into a bowl and add eggs and flour. Mix well. Form into thin patties.

Heat vegetable oil (about 1 1/2 ) until 350 degrees. Fry patties. Drain on paper towels and season with salt.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Maybe I'm not Souper Woman but this is the SouperBowl


When Sharon of Nickel Moon announced that there was going to be a "SouperBowl" and that every month someone would pick a nationality and 3 ingredients and then all participating would make a soup and post it, I thought "I can do that". Seems to be a theme that I am always thinking "I can do that". Well time slipped by and when I got a message from Sharon asking if I could do a roundup of everyone that made soup I froze. What? Isn't the deadline next week? No? Uh oh. So being the kind babe that she is, Sharon extended the deadline and I jumped on it. I was going to make a soup. I didn't want to do anything normal. Oh no. I wanted to try something new. I had a dream... No really I did. I dreamt of the soup that I was going to invent. I would become a famous soup maker. The three ingredients that I had to use were 1. White Beans 2. Eggplant 3. Orange Peel Easy easy I thought.

I started off with the idea of making "Bean Balls" out of the white beans and the orange peel and breadcrumbs and stuff. I then thought I would smoke and roast the eggplants and make a cream soup out of it. All the while planning that I would float the elequant little balls of beans on the top. Bzzzzzzzzzzzz wrong. I spent most the day working on it and when Dr. Food came home I said "Honey, try this soup. It has our homemade bacon in it" (I thought that would make him like it for sure). What happened next was shocking. I mean this is the man that has eaten chicken lips and dog and well other things that are pretty disgusting. He screwed up his nose. "Ew, this is not my favorite" (which he has learned to say instead of "that taste like dog" which apparently wasn't his favorite either)


An innocent leek. A picture of the leek on a wooden table near a window. I had to make something look pretty because hold onto your hats folks. A whole lot of ugly is coming up.


I charred the eggplant on a burner and then roasted it with some tomatoes.


Browned up a little homemade bacon.


Uh, I am so sorry about having to show you this slop. I just kept trying to "fix" it and it just got worse and worse. Here comes the ball part so hang onto your hats (I know you don't really have a hat).


Doesn't look bad does it? White beans and fresh parsley and a little breadcrumbs.


Now for the worse looking food ever. It looks like elephant poo.


They actually tasted really good. They had a heavy overtone of orange. Problem was that when put into the soup (that tasted ew) they melted. Lets move onto people that were more successful than me.

Pasta, White Bean and Tomato Soup with Eggplant Meatballs"

Screen shot 2011-12-13 at 8.18.17 AM

Minestroni using Eggplant, Beans, & Orange Zest

Screen shot 2011-12-13 at 8.23.03 AM

Cannellini Bean Soup With Beef, Roasted Eggplant and Orange Gremolata

Screen shot 2011-12-13 at 8.11.05 AM

Ceci & Squash Soup with Eggplant Caviar

Screen shot 2011-12-13 at 8.28.11 AM

Italian Wedding Soup with a Twist

Screen shot 2011-12-14 at 8.24.43 PM

Roasted Eggplant & White Bean Soup with Tangerine Gremolata

Now without further ado I am going to pick this weeks 3 ingredients and Ethnicity!

Culture: Moroccan

Special Ingredients: Garbanzo Beans, Ginger, Pasta

Post & share your results on December 21, 2011.

So, follow the rules that Nicklemoon has set up in her first post and use these three ingredients with a Moroccan influence! Have fun.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Crispy Chicken Fes-Style - Ohmy good!


When I opened up Paula Wolfert's new book "the Food of Morocco" I knew I was in trouble. As I turned the pages I wanted to make every dish in this book. So, I thought to myself..."self, you can do whatever you want. If you want to cook every recipe in this book you can!" I decided on the "Crispy Chicken Fes-Style, with Spices, Honeyed Onions, and Sauteed Almonds" to start with.

No, not this kind of Fes.

THIS kind.


I have just finished "Charcutepalooza" and I sorta am sick of meat. This was a factor in my choice of making a chicken dish although I didn't need a reason. It didn't hurt that the recipe also called for a spatchcocked chicken! You know I love flattening out those little devils.


A marinade was made up. This is done the night before you are going to make the actual dish.


This marinade would be awesome on a simple roasted chicken as well.


This dish was pretty easy to make. It does take time but so do all good things. See? *I* can be deep.


There ya have it. Dr. Food and I absolutely adored this dish and gave it 10 thumbs up. Wait.. that doesn't work. We gave it a 10 slurp rating!

Crispy Chicken Fes-Style, with Spices, Honeyed Onions, and Sauteed Almonds
The Food of Morocco - Paula Wolfert

One 3 1/2 lb Chicken, air chilled, backbone, neck and wing tips removed and reserved for some other purpose, liver reserved


1/2 red onion, grated (about 1/4C)
2 Tbl chopped flat-leaf parsley
2 Tbl chopped cilantro
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 tsp coarse salt
1 Tbl La Kama Spice Mixture (recipe below)
1 Tbl olive oil

2 Tbl saffron water (1/2 tsp crumbled strands heated in skillet and soaked in 1 C water)
3 Tbl red onions, halved and thinly sliced
1 to 2 tablespoons floral honey, such as orange blossom, acacia, or lavender (I used Tasmanian)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2/3 C blanched whole almonds
2 Tbl clarified butter

La Kama Spice Mixture

1 tsp each ground ginger and ground tumeric
1 tsp freshly ground white pepper
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp cubeb pepper (optional)
A good pinch of grated nutmeg

Mix the ground spices. Sift through a fine sieve and store in a closed jar in a cool, dark place.

1. The day before: Rinse the chicken and pat dry; trim away excess fat. Slide your fingers under the skin to loosen it from the flesh.

2. To prepare the marinade: combine the grated onion, herbs, garlic salt, spices and olive oil. Rub the mixture under and over the skin of the chicken. Place in a bowl and refrigerate, covered, for at least 45 hours and up to 24.

3. Next day: Bring the chicken to room temperature.

4. Remove the chicken, and add the saffron water and 1/4 C water to the marinade in the bowl. Spread 1 Tbl of the olive oil and the sliced onions over the bottom of an 11 to 12 inch tagine set over heat diffuser and place the chicken breast side up on top. Pour over the marinade. Cover with a piece of parchment paper and cook, without disturbing, over low heat for about 1 hour and 15 minutes. The chicken should be very tender, with the flesh just about to fall off the bone. Carefully transfer it to a side dish, cover with foil, and let it rest and firm up.

5. Dice the reserved chicken liver and add to the onion sauce. Raise the heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes, Add the honey and correct the seasoning with salt and pepper.

6. Meanwhile, fry the almonds in 1 tbl of the oil and 1 tbl of the butter until golden brown. (The recipe can be prepared to this point up to 2 hours ahead)

7. Gently reheat the onion sauce in the tagine.

8. Meanwhile, heat the remaining 1 tbl oil and butter in a large skillet over high heat, or set an oven rack about 8 inches from the heat source and turn on broiler. Divide the chicken into 4 to 8 portions; discard any loose bones. Add the chicken, in batches if necessary, to the skillet, to brown and crisp on all sides. (use a spatter screen to protect yourself from the hot fat.) Or baste the chicken with the oil and butter and broil on both sides. As the chicken pieces brown, transfer them to the tagine.

9. Transfer the hot tagine to a wooden surface or folded kitchen towl on a serving tray to prevent cracking. Let the tagine stand with its top on for 5 minutes. Remove the cover, scatter the browned almonds on top, and serve at once.