Saturday, January 25, 2014

How Many Eggs Yolks?

So after making that delicious birthday cake, I took the leftovers to work and my coworkers happily and speedily took care of it for me. I did have one small problem though. The cake takes 13 egg whites between the Japonais layers and buttercream. Which means that I had 13 egg yolks in the fridge. thirteen? THIRTEEN! What in the hell does a person do with 13 egg yolks? Well, 4 of them went into these cookies. Still working on the rest.
Delicious Drop Butter Cookies

Wait? Who makes cookies after giving away all of the leftover delicious birthday cake? Well... the princess walked up to me and asked for a cookie as we were stuck in the house again (thank you polar vortex). And really, these cookies are a bit addictive. They came together quick and are flying out of the cookie jar. Which might be bad. 
Dammit. More Snow. Bitter cold to follow.

See we've been walloped with alternating weather patterns. We start out with a big clipper system and several inches of snow. Then while we are out with the snow blower and clearing off the driveway we get blasted with the polar vortex. We close school because of the snow. Then the wind starts which causes blowing. (We delay for blowing snow.) Then, with the wind comes the wind chill. brrr. So far in January we've had days with wind chills around -35 (lost 2 days for that polar vertex), and then Friday wind chills went to -23 (and we closed again). We are now at 8 days closed for weather. We are only allowed to have 5 before we have to start making them up.

I'm a little stir crazy. 

And it does not look like there's an end in sight. We're supposed to get another 2 inches tomorrow. Then some winds and blowing snow. Then Tuesday we'll have a nice high of -3. A HIGH of -3. Crap. My students are going to fail the OAAs. Those pesky standardized tests that determine whether I'm a good teacher. And I'll be teaching through June. And this weather is brutal on my arthritis. So very little working out for me. I'm thinking of going into the garage and finding the cane. Depressing.
Cookies work well with the coffee!

So yeah, these cookies. These cookies are super good. A teensy rich, but super good. I might need to make them again soon. Because the princess is running out of them. Mostly because Mommy and Daddy are eating them all. The princess has been far too busy playing with Playdo, finger painting, coloring, playing with tater head, and learning Spanish from watching Sesame Street and Dora.
Painting a picture for Abuela Peggy!

Drop Butter Cookies
an original Shazamer recipe

2 1/4 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 cup unsalted butter
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 tsp vanilla
4 egg yolks

Preheat oven to 375 F
Combine the flour, soda, and salt in a small bowl and mix together. Set it aside.
Cream the butter and the sugars until it is nice and fluffy. Add the vanilla. Then add the egg yolks one at a time, making sure they are fully incorporated before adding the next one. Drop by teaspoonfull (or small scoop) onto an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for 8 minutes. Remove from cookie sheet and let cool on a rack.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Hazelnut Dacquois, Julia Child, and a Happyish Birthday

Yesterday was my birthday. I celebrated by spending the morning at the pediatrician's office for a well baby check. My darling princess has her fifth ear infection in her right ear in five months. I know it's completely irrational, but I feel like a bad mommy that I can't seem to protect her from these ear infections. And I am starting to think that we just aren't getting rid of the ear infection and that this has been one long ear infection. Which makes me feel worse. Fortunately, the princess had an all time happy day other than the pesky irritation of having to take a nap. And while she napped I made a big birthday dinner for myself. Thank God she's a long napper! (Once she finally goes down!)

Amusing herself while waiting for the latest prescription!
I decided to tackle one of my Julia Child cookbooks for my birthday dinner. I tried the recipe for casserole roasted pork. It was fairly easy and really delicious. I was also impressed that the whole thing, including the gravy was completely gluten free. My sister is gluten intolerant so I try to pay attention to that kind of thing despite the fact that she lives in Baltimore and can't come to dinner. I think of her frequently when I'm cooking though and it's nice to know that if she came to visit (and wasn't a pescaterian) that I made something she could eat. (HAHAHAHAA spell check says that I meant to write Presbyterian instead of pescaterian! She's not a Presbyterian she just a vegetarian that also eats fish!) Anyhow, back to the pork. The recipe just has  the vegetables and pan drippings and bouquet garni deglazed with some white wine and reduced. I don't usually like gravy, but it was super good!

Julia's garlic mashed potatoes were a different story. They were extremely labor intensive. I had to boil about 30 cloves of garlic, and then peel them (ouch! hot on my fingers!) Then I had to slowly cook them in butter (without browning them? That was challenging.) Then I had to add flour (so... not gluten free here) and let the flour foam. Then I had to add boiling milk and cook. Then I had to puree. This was like pureeing wallpaper paste. My immersion blender wasn't doing it and I thought about putting it through the Vitamix, but then I questioned whether I'd be able to get the sauce out. I finally settled on pressing it through a sieve as Julia suggests. Then I had to rice the potatoes. And after it was all done, I was not impressed. The princess tried to throw hers on the floor. (This was not a critique of the food. Every meal has about a 70% chance of getting thrown to the dog.) Today the potatoes had a very garlic-y flavor to them and they are much better in very small doses. Perhaps the dinner itself was richer than I'm used to.
Oh yumminess!

And then we got to the birthday cake. I have this cookbook called Perfect Cakes by Nick Malgieri. I like this cookbook. I have made several cakes out of it and they have all been delicious. But I've only tried fairly easy cakes. I made the Irish Currant and Raisin Cake, the High Ratio Pound Cake (Lemon variation), the High Ratio Fresh Ginger Pound Cake with Lemon Glaze, and the Coconut Raspberry Layer Cake (easy because I already knew how to make a buttercream. I've made this one twice.) I frequently look at the pictures of the fancier cakes and mentally think about making them, but then I get intimidated and put the book away. Yesterday, though, I decided to be daring. Yeah, I miss the Daring Bakers and Lis. And I decided I would give one of the "scary" ones a try. I decided to try a meringue cake. Actually there's a picture of the Hazelnut Dacquois at the beginning of the meringue cakes chapter so I had a rough idea of what it was supposed to look like. 

My only troubles with the recipe were "user error" type personal problems. They were that I could not find whole hazelnuts at the local Walmart and with sick baby I'm not traveling to the next county to look for hazelnuts (rural life problem anyhow). And the chopped hazelnuts were not skinned. This was not as big of an issue, I think, as it sounds. Maybe they weren't as pretty? Maybe they added a little bitterness? The other issue I had is that I think I don't know how to fold right. My egg whites got really deflated when I added the nuts and I had tons of Japonais batter left over. (It was delicious and I made little rounds and ate them. So I'm not really complaining about that!) I also somehow managed to undercook the Japonais layers. I think it had something to do with running out of parchment paper and wanting to get the roast in the oven. Also, my espresso powder was kind of old and when I mixed it with hot water it sort of smelled like beef bullion. It was fine when I added it to the buttercream. I just kept reminding myself of the Daring Baker challenges and how they didn't always go 100% perfectly. 
Very rich so cut small slices. 

Anyhow, I persevered. And this cake is super delicious! Like whoa! I think now that I've had some experience with the whole Japonais thing and now that I know this type of cake is not one I can fly through making while worrying about the napping princess, the next cake I make like this will be much better. Interestingly, while I was thinking about my sister because this was another gluten free recipe, I was also thinking about my brother. My brother's son is allergic to nuts and every time I make something with nuts I think about him. It is kind of nice that cooking makes me think about my family. I think about my mom every time I make pot roast too (but that's sort of a family joke.) 

This is seriously one of the best specialty cookbooks I've got.  I'm happy I stepped out of my comfort zone and made this cake. I'm also happy that it's in the back of my car being chilled by the second coming of the polar vortex and that I can take it in to work and leave it in the teacher's lounge. Otherwise, I could (and would) eat the whole thing.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Butter Turkey

In my previous life, I lived in Chicago. I lived about 2 miles north of Devon Avenue. Now that may not mean anything to you. It didn't mean a whole lot to me except that I lived fairly close to some really delicious Indian food and I saw stunningly beautiful Saris and Salwar Chemises in the store fronts. Then one day I was talking to my beautiful sister in law (who happens to be of Asian Indian ethnicity) and her parents and they got very excited that I lived close to Devon Avenue. Apparently Devon Avenue is known throughout the Indian Community as a shopping mecca. 
My two Salwar Chemises- given to me by my sister in law's mother

I happen to love Indian food. A lot. Last year's New Year's Resolution (which carried into this year) was to cook 2 recipes from each cookbook that I own. This has been a really fun informative journey. So last year I cooked from books I had that I had never cooked from before. And I cooked from the time tested all purpose cookbooks.The cookbooks I have left fall into 4 separate categories: Cookbooks that held some appeal at one time and now I don't know what I wanted to cook out of them, cookbooks that I just didn't get to, but I'm sure I'll find something interesting in them (like the Cooking Light yearbooks), cookbooks that are just exotic enough so that I wonder when it would be appropriate to cook from (a whole cookbook on cheesecake? 3 separate fondue cookbooks?) and finally cookbooks that I have pretty much cooked the entire cookbook and now I have to find 2 more recipes from it. Betty Crocker's Indian Home Cooking by Raghavan Iyer falls into the last category. 

Seriously I love this cookbook. I can tell you my copy is well worn and has some nice splatters on it even though I try to keep my cookbooks un-splattered. The Egg Tomato Curry is an old standby for me. As is the Mutter Kheema. They are comfort food. I've also blogged the Sag Paneer. I've also really enjoyed about 10 other recipes in this book! Raghavan Iyer has also written the cookbook 660 Curries which is on my shelf and I have blogged about a recipe out of it here and here and here. I swear I'm not some crazy stalker of Mr Iyer. He just makes Indian food accessible and his recipes always turn out.

When I used to dine on Devon Avenue, the Butter Chicken was my favorite. In all it's heady deliciousness. It's a little spicy and it has a hard to describe flavor. It is the flavor of Methi leaves, or as they are also known Fenugreek leaves. I can not find Methi leaves here in rural northern Ohio. I did find them in NYC while visiting Super G. I'm sure that I could find them in any major metropolis that has an Indian grocery store. I know they exist on Devon Avenue! I can't describe the smell except to say that it's a sweet smell. A good sweet smell, not a sickly sweet smell. I can also tell you that when I opened the package I thought to myself that I should have made this a long long long time ago (like when I first visited Super G and picked them up!) On the internet I read that they have a maple syrup aroma and flavor. I think that's hooey. But I don't think I could describe it any better.
Cold outside? Second coming of the Polar Vortex? This curry will warm you up!

Our little family doesn't eat a whole lot of chicken. We buy turkeys at the fair. So we have turkeys in the freezer. It seems pointless to buy chicken when we have turkeys. So I made Butter Turkey. I cut down on the cayenne a little and I used olive oil instead of ghee. The picture looks a little dry because I had an overtired toddler hanging on my leg while I was making it. And then said toddler had to go down for nappy before I could take the picture (and eat it). This is the second time I've made it and the Brain also seems to be a pretty big fan. I served it with Yogurt with Fresh Mint (Pudhina Raita). I didn't alter that at all, so you'll have to buy the book for that super delicious condiment! Seriously, you should go buy the book for all the other recipes in there. Every single one that I've made is absolutely delicious.

Butter Turkey
adapted a little from Betty Crocker's Indian Home Cooking

1 pound turkey breast pieces cut into 1/2 inch strips
1/4 cup heavy cream
2 Tbsp finely chopped ginger (I used the convenient squeeze tube that you can get at the grocery)
5 medium cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 Tbsp finely chopped cilantro
1 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp salt
heaping 1/8 tsp cayenne
2 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup tomato sauce
2 Tbsp dried Methi (Fenugreek) leaves - crumbled

Mix all the ingredients except the oil, tomato sauce and methi leaves together. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour or up to 24 hours.
Heat the oil in a medium skillet. Add the turkey mixture and tomato sauce and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently. 
Stir in the methi leaves and reduce the heat to low. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes until the turkey is cooked through.

This is really good with rice or naan, and a generous scoop or two of raita!

Monday, January 6, 2014

Breakfast Granola

I like clean food. I like food that doesn't have a whole lot of extra ingredients that I can't pronounce. That always makes me nervous. And, once upon a time, I read Michael Pollan's book, In Defense of Food, and I really liked it. There's a part in there about how our grandmothers wouldn't recognize what we call food today as food. He specifically brings up yogurt. And I discovered that even plain yogurt sometimes isn't just milk and bacteria. So I started making my own yogurt. My first attempt (I blogged about it here) was a total bust. I had icky milk with yogurt aftertaste in a jar. I then borrowed the Home Ec teacher's yogurt maker and had amazing success! Knowing I have to return it at some point, I asked for one for Christmas. And I got it! Hooray!! 
I under cooked my first batch. oops. Oh well. Today I'm making batch #2 and I have high hopes!
The question becomes though: "What? Do you just eat plain yogurt?" Um no. Homemade yogurt is delicious and doesn't really need a sweetener, but it's, um, plain. So I searched Pinterest (God I love Pinterest!) and found some granola recipes. And I started making granolas. I made this one. And this one. And this one! And I started fiddling around with the recipes. Finally I came up with a recipe I like a TON. And I'm going to share it with you. 
Princess is stirring the granola!
Another nice thing about granola, besides how tasty it is, is that the princess can help! This is especially good because we've been kinda trapped inside our home since the beginning of the year. We didn't get the giant snowstorm that was in the forecast, but it's been really really cold. And my darling princess has a cold. I think when she gets older, it will be fun to have her help me all the time, but for now we're sticking to stirring the granola and helping to scramble the eggs for breakfast.
The Princess eating eggs that she helped scramble!

Yummy Breakfast Granola
An original Shazamer recipe

4 C Old Fashioned Oats
1 ½ C slivered almonds
½ C packed brown sugar
½ tsp salt
½ tsp cinnamon
½ tsp pumpkin pie spice
¼ C canola oil
¼ C maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup sweetened coconut flakes
1 cup dried cranberries
1 cup sunflower seeds
½ cup dried apricots, chopped

Preheat oven to 300°F
Mix oats, almonds, brown sugar, salt, cinnamon and pumpkin pie spice together in large container. In a small bowl combine oil, syrup, and vanilla. Pour liquid ingredients into oats. Stir until well mixed.
Line a half sheet pan with parchment paper. Spread granola evenly on pan.
Bake 40 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes.
Add coconut, stir, and bake 5 more minutes. When finished, mix in cranberries, sunflower seeds, and apricots and allow to cool completely.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Filled Noodle Soup

Um. Hello. It's been a long time. So how ya' doing? This is a little awkward. So I think I'm just going to pretend that there hasn't been a break and that we're just picking up as if I had all along been blogging. How's that?

Filled Noodle Soup
So today is January 1. The bright, clean start to another year. I really love the start of a new year. There's so much optimism. And I don't know about anyone else, but I usually spend January 1st eating all the chocolate so that it's out of the house. Blows the lets eat healthy resolution right out of the water, but I'm full of chocolate and pretty satisfied. I can't say all of the chocolate is out of the house though because somehow between the Brain and I we managed to receive 3, one pound bags of M&M's. We got a one pounder of dark chocolate M&M's (yay me!) We got a one pounder of peanut M&M's (yay Brain!) And we got a one pounder of peanut butter M&M's (I've only recently tasted them and they're all right.) So with all that chocolate (and chocolate from the stockings at my mom's and chocolate from a hostess gift), I know you're wondering what chocolate I actually feasted on. I feasted on the open bag of candy cane Hershey Kisses that I had in the house to make these fantastic cookies. Seriously the cookies were delicious. I only wish they didn't leave so many leftover kisses...

We've been getting a little snow, so after lunching on some leftover egg tomato curry, I put the princess down for her nap. Did I mention there's a princess now? Isn't she lovely? She's my joy.
The Princess!

Oh, where was I? Right. The princess went down for her nap and I fired up the snow blower. I love firing up the snow blower. But by the time I was done, I was cold and I wanted some serious comfort food. Like something my grandma would make. My grandma is 96 and doesn't cook anymore. My mom is much much younger and doesn't cook anymore either. Hooray for my step dad or she would starve! ha ha! I was texting Super G and she gave me the idea of having Filled Noodle Soup like Grandma used to make. Filled Noodle Soup is delicious and comforting and filling and perfect for a cold snowy day. The only problem is that I didn't have a recipe. Super G texted me some fairly loose instructions. Something along the lines of make a pasta dough, spread some hamburger on it and then boil it in beef broth for about 20-25 minutes. I called Mom and she said not to brown the hamburger ahead of time and to add an egg to it. She used to cook a long long long time ago.
Cutting the filled noodles.

We had it for dinner tonight and the princess loved it. I made an egg noodle pasta dough, added some garlic powder to the hamburger and I added some tomatoes to the broth. And I am writing this recipe down. So that someday when the princess asks for the recipe I will have it. 

And then I took one for the team and ate all of the available Candy Cane Kisses. Phew! Thank God that's taken care of.
Yummy leftovers!

Filled Noodle Soup
An original Shazamer family recipe

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/8 tsp of salt
4 tsp cold butter
2 egg yolks
3 eggs
1 pound ground beef
1 onion
1/2 tsp garlic powder
salt and pepper
8 cups beef broth
1 (15oz) can diced tomatoes

Stir together the flour and the salt. Then using a pastry blender, or your fingers, or a fork, cut the butter into the flour mixture so it looks like crumbs. Then make a well in the flour mixture and pour in 2 eggs and the yolks. Stir with a fork until it comes together and then knead it for about 7 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic. Roll the dough into a great big rectangle. Try to roll the dough as thin as possible. Don't worry if the dough is thick though because it will just taste more dumpling-y. Cover the rolled out dough with plastic wrap while making the ground beef mixture.

Mince the onion and stir into the ground beef with the garlic powder, salt pepper and remaining egg. Sprinkle the beef mixture evenly over the rolled out pasta dough. Then starting on a long end, roll up the pasta and beef like a giant cinnamon roll. Pull the noodle tight as you go. Once the pasta is all rolled up, cut off the ends to make them even. Then cut the dough into 16 pieces.

Combine the beef broth and tomatoes in a large soup pot over medium heat and bring to a simmer. Then carefully drop the filled noodles into the broth. Stir once or twice to make sure the noodles aren't sticking to the bottom and return to a simmer. Set the timer to 20 minutes. Stir occasionally.