Monday, November 07, 2011
I've been busy the past week with a number of different cooking experiments. I'll post recipe instructions on my website later this week, but here are a few of the things I've made.
Butternut Squash Soup
Very easy to make. Instead of adding cream to the soup, I added a dollop of sour cream as a garnish. Topped with shreds of capicola ham from the grocery deli. My SO who does not like squash loved this soup.
Herbed Pork Chops with Roasted Leeks and Carrots
I've been experimenting with leeks lately. They have a mild onion flavor, but less sulfuric and/or sweet than regular onions. It has added interesting dimensions to my recipes.
Balsamic Pickled Onions
I like pickled onions as antipasti and salad toppings. I thought it would be easy enough to make my own. This is a blend of red wine vinegar, balsamic vinegar, pickling spices and a couple dashes of Worcestershire sauce.
I hate most fruit cakes. I would not normally make it, and this one came out by accident. I was making a variation on the apple walnut bread recipe I shared with you earlier. My applesauce mixture was more watery than I expected, and the bread came out very moist with a fruit cake type texture. But it tasted good, unlike the fruit cakes of my Christmas past. I was pleasantly surprised, and will be making this for my parents when I visit for Thanksgiving instead of the store bought fruit cakes I hate.
Almond Flour Pumpkin Bars
My first baking experiment with almond flour. I blind taste tested it on my unsuspecting fiance. He said he wouldn't have known it wasn't regular flour if I didn't tell him. I made a cream cheese frosting with stevia, and topped with chopped walnuts and raspberries. Low calorie, low sugar, and low carb. Score! 1/4 cup of white flour has 22g carbs. 1/4 cup of almond flour has 6g carbs. Low carb baking for the holidays? Yes, we can!
Today I have a pot of chili simmering in my slow cooker for tonight's dinner. The house already smells so good. I love fall cooking!
Sunday, November 06, 2011
Since I learned to cook 7ish years ago, Sunday has always been my favorite day to prep veggies and food for the week. When I lived in Seattle, I used to take a morning walk around the farmer's markets, picking up a variety of veggies, fruits and meats. I'd then chop onions, celery, carrots, etc and store them in bowls for use in the week.
I affectionately call it my "Martha Stewart Sunday".
A long time ago, I didn't like Martha Stewart. I couldn't relate to her. Her cooking and crafts seemed so out of my league.
Then I learned to cook. As my cooking repertoire expanded, I found myself wanting to learn more advanced cooking styles and flavors. As I started eating at some really fantastic Seattle restaurants, I wanted to learn how to recreate them. Thus, I came to be a Martha convert. I totally get her now.
Fall is my favorite season for cooking. Summer months I prefer raw salads, vegetable side dishes and fruits because of the short prep time and no stove/oven required. Fall, however, opens up possibilities for my favorite foods. Stews and soups that fill the house and soul with warmth and aroma.
Some of the items I'll be making this week are chili, butternut squash soup, braised lamb marsala, and cuban shredded beef. I have a really fabulous 'formula' for making easy gourmet tasting soups I learned from Fine Cooking magazine that I will share soon.
I am still on the hunt for a new job. I have an interview on Tuesday, and another lead to follow up on in the week. I am also moving forward on a possible new direction. I'm looking into some freelance options. Also, I've been toying with the idea of creating a mobile application. I've settled on an idea that combines my love of cooking, eating and programming, and I'm really excited to get started!
Thursday, November 03, 2011
Continuing to use the apples I have, I made an apple walnut bread last night. I based it off a recipe from Everyday Foods magazine.
It was actually supposed to be an apple walnut "cake", but I did something wrong and the texture didn't come out right. The original recipe was for a large 9" loaf, but I scaled it down for a mini loaf size. I think I added too much baking powder, and it rose like a bread. It was still delicious!
I didn't take step by step pictures because baking isn't my strong point. I heard someone on Food Network say once there are bakers, and there are cooks. I am a better cook than I am a baker. I think part of it is I didn't grow up with it as a tradition. My mom is Korean, and asians in general don't make a lot of baked goods. If I had cookies, it came in a package from the store. Pie at Thanksgiving was frozen Marie Calender's.
On the other hand, my mom was very good at make-ahead marinades and fast cooking. On that front, I am a pro. I know how to organize my ingredients, and look in the fridge for what I have to make a menu on the fly. My favorite Food Network shows are Iron Chef and Chopped. I imagine myself competing with them! If there is ever a home cook edition, I am totally auditioning!
I made the batter with 1 cup flour, 1/4 cup sugar, 1/2 tsp orange zest, 1 egg, 1/2 finely chopped apple, 1/2 cup chopped walnuts, and 1 cup apple sauce.
I looked at the recipe before putting in the pan and noticed I forgot to add baking powder. I added about 1 tsp of baking powder, but this was too much. I wanted a flat top on the cake like in the magazine picture, but the top rose like a bread. I decided to decorate the top with whole walnuts before putting in the oven.
It was delicious! I ate a piece this morning with butter and a touch of honey with my coffee. The apples, walnut and orange zest blended together in a really wonderful trio. It was mildly sweeter than a bread, and less sweet than a cake. The apple sauce gave it most of the moisture and a very nice apple background flavor.
The fiance liked it so much, he ate half of it last night. Glad I made a mini loaf! I am going to try it again today, but with half the baking powder, and more chopped apples and walnut.
Wednesday, November 02, 2011
Ok! I've done it! Easy as apple pie, apple pie!
I remade my apple pies, learning from flubs on my previous attempt. Still not the perfect apple pie of my dreams, but it's an improvement.
I mixed 2 diced/cored apples in a saucepan with cinnamon/sugar, dash of nutmeg, 1 tablespoon of agave nectar, and 1/4c water. I let it simmer about 10 minutes until the apples were slightly soft. Much better liquid content!
I skipped lining my pot with pastry, and directly filled my pots 2/3 full with the apple filling. I'm serving them directly from the pots, so I don't need a pastry base.
I pureed the remaining mixture into apple sauce.
I had only a small amount of pastry left, so I couldn't make a full topper. I made strips for a pseudo lattice. Baked in 350F oven for about 30 minutes.
Verdict for round 2? Apple pie that is easy as apple pie!
Now I'm unhappy with the presentation. But I'm tired of apple pie, so it may be a while before I make another round. I'm moving on to an apple/walnut cake today, using the leftover apple sauce.
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