Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Fresh whole wheat bread !!

So..... look what I made yesterday! My first bread.

Well, I say that... but sometime, somewhere in my dim, distant, prehistoric past...surely I must have baked bread at least once didn't I ? How can I not have? I love baking.. but, until now, I have been totally intimidated by breads.

I am very excited because I give it a definite two thumbs up! Next time they will be the same size... as I now know which pan size to I used two different sizes and made the dough ball slightly smaller for one of the pans...

The intimidation ended yesterday. Actually, ever since I found Lewis, I have been inspired. This business of being a "daring baker" intrigues me... just to do it. I must join that group one day. Maybe it will have to wait a few months til I get all the bear orders out. Or... if they don't mind that I pass over one or two of the challenges. I still have not asked about the criteria..etc..
However, back to bread baking in my own kitchen. Do you know, I really had to scour books, the internet, etc..just to find a simple recipe. My old cookbook even talked about a 3rd rising..blah, blah... and when I began to read the convoluted wonder I was intimidated... just too much...of everything. Finally found one in the booklet that came with Snow White (my KitchenAid mixer) all those years ago. It didn't take nearly as long as I thought it took to make bread time I wait til afternoon to that Mr. Bumblevee gets to have a slice of warm, fresh bread slathered with butter... mmmmmmmmm... nothing better. Oh, alright, perhaps apple pie baking, or things with cinnamon, are close...but I still think the aroma of fresh bread is the best..

.... and this morning.... aahhhhhhh the best toast....mmmmm...

okay...I think I better hop on the treadmill now.

Lovely blue sky now and the warmth of the sun is already melting the snow we had overnight.... it is dripping off the roof..... don't you love a snow curl? how does it do that?

Check out Alice's lovely, easy to do strawberries

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Oh, yummy ....supper was great today !!

So, our nearest huge Safeway just underwent a complete renovation... and now is trying to impress us with a Sobey or perhaps even M&M style butcher area. They must have had to hire about 8 extra people... but plenty of them are just standing around. Either they lost customers who got fed up with trying to shop around construction..or nobody is brave enough to ask for different cuts of meat. Seems they prefer little plastic packages.
I noticed today that they had several varieties of stuffed meats and chicken... and thought... well, why not? my case it was "why not stuff my own"? It's cheaper and more tasty. Honestly, it is so quick and easy;just do it yourself. I have tried their stuffed pork chops once ..... total disappointment. Seeing as it is more costly, it better taste great or why bother spending extra? so, off I went to the other section... bought the biggest pork tenderloin that I could find and came home to emulate the butcher's special. (The little pile of string is green crochet cotton... somebody pilfered my kitchen string to do something...and I couldn't find it.)

I sliced it down the center, not all the way through... and also stopped about an inch short of either end just so it would hold together well once stuffed. I then opened it up and made a second horizontal slice inside so that I could open it up a bit more and have more room for plenty of tasty stuffing.

In butter and a bit of olive oil, cook some onions and celery til soft. Add some spices during the cooking... stirring occasionally. This time I also sliced a small Serrano pepper...(hotter than a Jalapeno)... so be a little careful if you use one. I wanted to make the stuffing spicy and tasty don't forget. Add some bread crumbs and a few tablespoons of diced tinned tomatoes and a bit of the juice. Just enough to moisten and give a bit more flavour. If you are going to cook it right away you can stuff it with the warm mixture...but if you are going to cook it later... let the stuffing cool completely before putting it in the tenderloin. Truss with a string going horizontally across several times to hold in the stuffing...or use some small skewers and string. As a matter of fact... you could even do this at night...cover it well, and cook the following day. Before baking... smear Dijon mustard on the meat portion of the tenderloin... coat with some crushed crumbs. I prefer Stoned Wheat Thins for crumbs. Roll them with a rolling pin in a cookie sheet to limit the mess. Press onto the mustard. Lightly salt and pepper. Bake in 350F oven for about half an hour. Of course, this depends on size of tenderloin... and your preferred done-ness.

Oh, then.... as usual, I wish I could somehow get those recipes from the Iron Chef. Recently I saw one with cauliflower. Sliced like this. All I knew for sure was that it was done in a pan with butter... lemon zest and a bit of juice...and some sweetner... I used a bit of honey, salt and pepper... and I used a teensy sprink of nutmeg. I cooked a whole small head of cauli and the two of us ate the whole thing! piggy wiggies! YUM!

and... who do you know that has "envy lunches" like this to heat up at the office and make the guys drool? They still need another cauliflower left tonight! lol...

Saturday, February 2, 2008

long time no talk.....

Some days I have a lot more imagination than others. With everything....and that means food as well of course. Other days.... it seems so much easier to just toss a few things together and turn out something that tastes wonderful.

I love to watch some of the cooking shows for inspiration... and always get a laugh out of Iron Chef when we see it. Wish I could get my hands on some of those recipes...

A few days ago I decided to give a bit of pizazz to some chicken and I am sure that somewhere in the back of my mind the reason came from a food channel episode of something....

Brown some chicken thighs in a skillet in a little hot oil. Salt and pepper, add other herbs of your choice...turn and continue to brown other side. Meanwhile...oil a baking dish and place some Napa (Chinese, Baby Bok Choy, or other of your choosing) cabbage leaves on bottom. Remove browned chicken from pan and place on cabbage. .... place in warm oven...not to continue cooking just yet...but to keep warm til a sauce is made. In the same pan... add a good dollop of butter and some sliced onions. Cook gently til soft and golden. (add a few chunks of celery if you like.) Add some minced garlic. After about 2 minutes, remove from pan and spoon over chicken. Then, in same pan.... (as they always say on the cooking shows..... we don't want to waste any of those "lovely brown bits" !) ... and besides, who wants to wash three pans? ..... pour in about 3/4 cup of orange juice and a bit more butter...heat to bubbling. Then, stir in about 3 or 4 tablespoons of peanut butter. I like the old fashioned chunky kind..but it is your choice. Stir well to mix and continue to simmer...till it reduces down a bit... taste...and add more orange juice, peanut butter..or even a spoonful of marmalade to give it more sweetness and orange-y flavour. Cook a bit more and then pour it over chicken and onions. Place lid on and turn oven up to about 350 F ... bake for 20 mins or so. I served it over Basmati rice cooked with half and half chicken broth and water... and a small fruit salad containing orange segments just to continue the orange flavour a bit more. It was all pretty yummy.

Sadly, I was half way through my Orange Peanut chicken before I even thought of taking a picture. ... so, instead, here is one of some Peppery Orange swordfish I tried a few weeks ago. In the pan in which I browned the fish I made a little thick sauce for drizzling over ... using butter, onions, grated orange zest, orange juice, a little white wine, freshly cracked peppercorns as well as some red pepper flakes. I seem to be on a citrus kick lately. Today it was lime... to make a Caribbean type marinade for some chicken.
Any of the citrus make some amazing little drizzles or thick sauces when reduced down... just do a taste test... add or subtract sweetness in form of honey, marmalade, brown sugar, etc... and if it needs a bit of mellowing....another dollop of butter makes it smooth tasting. Yeh..I know... fattening too...but just don't have sauces every day. However, do treat yourself once in awhile.