Friday, December 31, 2010

Sending the year out...

...with my own little culinary bang...I know I gave up on the holiday gluttony earlier this week, but since I was off today...and we all know I like to spend my days off in the kitchen, I decided today would not be any different...

...I even managed to make it to the gym 4 days this week...back on schedule, just as I wanted to do...I've got muscles aching here and there, but it's good...it's all good...

...for anyone interested...I'm not making any resolutions for the year..yes, I've got goals I want to meet...2011 is going to be a better year, because I'm going to make it that way...time will be spent doing some serious research on the food business (particularly in Los Angeles/CA)...I still don't know if I want to enter the fray...I know I want to find something more soul- and life- satisfying than the retail track I'm in now...if you follow this little blog of  mine...you'll be able to see what progress I make...and you're always welcome to comment and tell me to get my ass in gear or make suggestions...I'll listen!

...breakfast/lunch/brunch was the German pancake...this time around it ran up the sides of the pie  plate by a good 2-3 inches!...it was quite the sight...I called it the Mile High Pancake today...just wish the photo could justify the height...because it doesn't...I bought blueberries and blackberries yesterday and made a sauce/syrup to accompany it...(all this decided while I was working out!)

...I've been planning on lasagna since last week when it was going to be Christmas dinner until I had other plans...the cheese mixture was a small container [15oz] of ricotta, about 1/3 cup of grated carrots, maybe 1/2 cup of chopped spinach, 4 oz of shredded mozzarella, crumbled feta [maybe 2 oz], a little salt, a little pepper, a little crushed garlic, and held together with a scant pour of fat-free half and half (I don't use egg like a lot of people do).

...I opened a bottle of bubbly around 3pm today and still managed to dye my hair, make pita chips, and do laundry.  The big question to answer was:  Champagne, cava or prosecco? ...yes, I had all three and upon looking in my liquor cabinet, I seriously need to do some re-stocking this year...I decided upon the prosecco and I just might have the bottle finished off by the end of this evening...

...okay...ending the year on a good note...photos of food and the 'recipe' for the syrup I made...

Black and Blueberry Syrup

4 oz container of blueberries
4 oz container of blackberries
1/2 cup orange juice
1/4 cup honey
1 tablespoon orange zest

In a saucepan combine all ingredients over medium heat until it comes to near boil, lower heat and simmer for 20-25 minutes.

Just that easy...like ringing in the new year with a glass of prosecco and chocolate truffles...

Cheers and Happy New Year...here's to a fruitful 2011 to all of us...



Saturday, December 25, 2010

Buon Natale....Merry Christmas...Joyeux Noel....

...for the past couple of weeks, I have hardly been in a holiday or festive mood...in fact, I was no where near enjoying Christmas this year....I'm still not entirely sure why...I have spent a huge amount of time over the past few weeks just bursting into tears and feeling sad and depressed and just not having fun at all...even my baking wasn't really doing it for me...I think this season in retail has really been the last straw...I found people to be more rude and exuding their sense of entitlement attitude in full colour...I let it get to me and it's been a weird state of mind...

....so I was thrilled for the day off...no alarm...slept in until 10:30 a.m...Skyped with the family for 2 hours which was ABSOLUTELY amazing and fun and emotional...it put me in a better mood...made me look forward to dinner at a friend's and excited about making something fun to bring for dessert...

...the results were fabulous...and have now turned me on to checking out more of Alice Waters...which I haven't done before...most of my cookbooks are pretty generic...I don't have collections by any one cook or chef...but today's Cranberry Upside Down Cake...well, it's opened up a little spot of curiosity...

...more importantly....I enjoyed Christmas...


Sunday, December 12, 2010

My Own Worst Enemy....

...yes...I do believe that...I am my own worst enemy...my harshest critic...my standard-setter to (perhaps) unreachable heights...

...Christmas baking is underway....I'm hoping to have it all finished by this Wednesday...and I am totally trying to decide if I'm happy with any of it...I don't know why I'm doubting myself...they taste great...maybe it's because I've felt generally  unmotivated for the past couple of weeks...why?....not quite sure...but I think it's the day job...I always tell myself I'm going to get out of retail...and year after year...here I am...even after getting a degree...here I am...and you know what?...it's fucking draining...I guarantee you a lot of people will say...what's so hard about it?...if you're talking about what it takes to do the job...not too much...I always say, 'it's retail, not rocket science'...and that's true...it's not difficult...I do it because it's my comfort zone...though I will tell you...most days/nights I come home and feel absolutely drained from having to be 'on'...the nights I pull into my lot at home, sit there for a few minutes and keep myself from breaking down are too numerous to count...

...what does this have to do with baking?...maybe not a damn thing...but I believe that you shift energies around in your life...I want to take the energy and joy I have when I cook and bake and put it into the less than stellar moments of daily life....I'm afraid I'm doing the exact opposite and taking all the drain and exhaustion and it's dampening my energy in the kitchen...no bueno...not at all...

...okay....time to buck up...and hunker down...step back...BREATHE....and make a serious shift...

...what do you get out of it?....a few photos...before I head to bed, I'm going to whip up a batch of wine biscuit dough and let it chill overnight...I happily have a couple of hours to bake tomorrow...



Thursday, December 9, 2010

GQ has recipes...?!?!?!?

Imagine my surprise while looking through the December issue of GQ and coming across a recipe...I know, I know...that sounds truly sexist...as though men don't cook...but colour me a little shocked...I know it's the 21st century...I watch 'Top Chef' and follow the food world...I know men cook...I just didn't expect to find a recipe there amongst the pages...

So you're asking, 'what was the recipe?'...I'll tell you...The German Pancake....or as the author coined it, 'The High Rise'...I originally came across a recipe for it a couple of years ago in Cooking Light and never made it...I don't know why, because it was a huge mistake not to.  I made it this past Sunday and let me tell you...this is amazing...I had eaten something the size of a dinner plate in about 10 minutes....this may be an exaggeration, because it may have been (much) less...damn! Buttery, a little sweet, a little tart, gorgeous and absolutely delicious!

Supposedly, the traditional way to serve it is with a squeeze of lemon and confectioner's sugar....who am I to mess with tradition???...that's how I had it and I'm not a huge fan of confectioner's sugar, so I was a little light with the sugar and a little heavier with the lemon.  As of this date, GQ still doesn't have the recipe posted on it's site, but I found it on another blogger's site...thank you, Glenn Fox!

The German Pancake

3 tablespoons butter
2 eggs beaten
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup milk
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
pinch of nutmeg
touch of vanilla extract (if you like, I did!)

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Put butter in an oven-proof pan or dish.  I used a pie plate.  Put pie plate in oven to melt butter.  Whisk together remaining ingredients.  When butter is melted, take pan out of oven, add the pancake mix and return to oven.  Bake for 18-20 minutes or until pancake puffs and edges are lightly golden brown. The pancake will rise up the sides of the pan.  Like a souffle, but it won't collapse! Remove from oven and squeeze with lemon juice and dust with confectioner's sugar.

Glenn used maple syrup, the Cooking Light recipe layered thinly sliced apples and baked it.  In my opinion, you could add whatever you want to serve it.  But try it with the lemon juice and sugar.  The only thing I may adjust in the future is lessening the butter.  Blasphemy, maybe...but I think it would be just as decadent with 2 tablespoons of butter.

Out. Of. This. World.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Fennel, Onion and Basil...oh my!

...I am feeling decidedly domestic tonight...it's been a very home-oriented day...I did some serious cleaning...a little organising...put up the Christmas tree and a couple of decorations...ran a couple of errands...and made dinner with a latte for dessert...

...I was texting with a friend today, talking about Italy and decided to make pasta for dinner...I remembered that I had a bulb of fennel in the fridge that needed to be used, so I grated it...sauted it in olive oil with some red onion, threw in a tablespoon of butter for good measure...like bacon, you can't go wrong with butter...usually I roast fennel...the saute was a change and I really loved it...it reminded me of celeriac...the taste was milder than when it's roasted, red onion adding even more sweetness then a dose of brightness with basil...rotini was the shape of choice tonight and tossed it all up with olive oil and Grana Padano...

...on the stovetop right now is a big simmering pot of turkey stock...smells amazing...tweaked with a bouquet garni of rosemary and lavender...yes, lavender...I'm not sure what will be made with the stock yet...but it's a good thing to have on hand...




...the more I think about it...the more I believe today was one of those days where I needed to take care of myself...it was a success...

The Mundane...

...does not have to be boring...I'll let you in on a little secret...I'm a creature of habit...many times I am very happy with the same routine...one might even go so far as saying it's a rut...maybe, maybe not...but I will admit to eating the same things day after day...not really the same thing...but a variation on a theme...

...I work a lot of late shifts at work...when I get home I usually want something good...but quick...I don't want to spend a huge amount of time making something...I'll tell you what my go-to is...panini....how much do I love my foil-wrapped garden brick that has a permanent home in my oven?...let me tell you...anything that's heavy enough to weigh down two pieces of bread and contribute to a fancy grilled sandwich is okay in my book...

...I didn't even work late tonight...but by the time I came home from the gym, it was getting late...so panini was the answer...I stepped out of my box last night and bought smoked gouda...realising it had been ages since I had it...the very nice deli lady sliced it almost paper thin...you could smell the smokiness through the white butcher paper...my Matnakash was thick, soft, and fresh....and guess what?...Thanksgiving leftovers are still filling my fridge!...so I sliced some turkey almost as thin as the cheese and grabbed my jar of roasted red peppers (I'm a little obsessed with them these days!)

...butter melting in the pan....one side of Matnakash slathered in butter...a hot flame...a big brick...a few minutes later I had a fabulous sandwich...with another new favourite:  Russian style dill pickles...

...I present to you...the Mundane...