Wednesday, April 27, 2011

homemade yogurt

my mother is not a hippie
she would never be mistaken as "granola"
birkenstocks have never graced her perfectly manicured feet
when i was a kid
the dogs were fed brewer's yeast
our bread came from the health food store
red dye no. 2 was banned from the house
our yogurt was homemade

i thought it was so lame
my friends were eating
yogurt with dreamy flavors
coffee, chocolate and lemon swirl
while i  
was being brainwashed to believe
that mine
 while not sweet like pudding
was filled with acidolphilus
my best defense
against turistas
if ever i found my 8 year old self in mexico
with a head of  unwashed lettuce in one hand
a tall glass of tap water in the other

here in lies the rub
as an adult
i love homemade yogurt
finding myself extolling the virtues
good bacteria
without apology
to anyone who will listen

 homemade yogurt
1/2 gallon milk (i use 2%)
1/4 cup good quality plain yogurt-room temperature
jams, jellies, honey, fruit--to serve

preheat oven to 185F.  heat milk in a pot that will best retain temperature over low heat until it reaches 185F.  once it reaches the desired temperature, pop it into the preheated oven and allow to sit for 30 minutes.  remove from oven and allow the milk to cool to 110F. when the milk has cooled to 110F add the yogurt and stir well.  it is important to keep the milk at 110F for the next 7-10 hours.(i have a warming oven that i use which will keep a consistent low temperature.  other methods can be a warming pad, creating a foil tent over a electric skillet, testing the residual heat of an upper oven, while the lower oven is on, placing the pot in a water bath and keeping the water at 110F)
after 7-10 hours you will see thickened milk soaking in the whey.  give this a good stir, then spoon into containers and  place in the refrigerator for at least 12 hours before eating.  

what i do next is not necessary, but hubster and i have different ideas about how thick yogurt should be. i like mine extra thick, he doesn't.  i place the yogurt in a sieve lined with cheesecloth over a large bowl, and let it sit for a few hours or overnight. the yogurt becomes the consistency of cream cheese, and the whey collects in the bowl.   i place the yogurt in one container and the whey in another.  when i make up my pots of yogurt, i whisk in enough whey to achieve the desired consistency. the extra thick yogurt is great as a spread on bread or for flavored dips.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

easter bunny

want the beauty of a
white chocolate
easter bunny
with the taste 
deep brown
bittersweet chocolate

me too

which is why
dipped my 
royal icing

 it has a
hard candy coating
looks like
italian pottery

i love it so much
it might never get eaten

Happy Easter

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

sugared orange tea cake

remember those oranges 
that i sugared
and canned?
how i promised to make lots of good things with them
i don't break a promise
so here is my first creation
gorgeous and moist cake
perfect with a 
cup of tea

sugared orange tea cake
1c + 2Tbs unsalted butter--room temp
2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
4 large eggs--room temperature
1 tsp vanilla
10-12 sugared oranges
orange syrup (from oranges)
whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt and baking powder in a bowl.  in a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugars until light and fluffy.  add the eggs one by one mixing thoroughly after each one, careful to clean the sides of the bowl as you go.  add the vanilla and beat once again.  make sure the batter is thoroughly whipped before stirring in the dry ingredients.  once you add the dry ingredients, be careful not to over mix.  pour into prepared cake pan (greased and floured). smooth the top and lay the oranges on top, overlapping a bit.  bake at 325 until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 50 minutes.  after cake is removed from the oven, but not yet cooled, pour a bit of the orange syrup on top, allowing it to completely soak in before adding more.  do not add more than 1/3 of a cup.
*you can add a bit of grand marnier to the syrup if you like.  you can also make a nice icing of confectioner's sugar with the orange syrup and drizzle for a lovely presentation.
allow to cool completely before removing from cake tin.

Friday, April 15, 2011

sugared oranges

a couple of weeks ago
my good friend julie
handed me
two grocery bags
stuffed full
blood oranges
amazingly sweet
stunningly hued
orbs of delight
best part
they were all mine

for the past fortnight
i have been
all sorts 
in my kitchen
first up
 sugared oranges
*to make approx 9 pint jars
blood oranges-or thin skinned oranges
(this recipe uses about 180-200 orange slices)
granulated sugar
ground ginger (optional)
6 cups granulated sugar
3 cups water
1 cup blood orange juice
2-1" knobs of fresh ginger
choose your oranges carefully.  make sure they have thin skin and that they are not so large that they will not fit into the jars you are going to preserve them in. slice the oranges in rings no thicker than 1/8" beginning at stem end.  arrange in a casserole dish in a single layer, slightly overlapping.  once you have your first layer, sprinkle sugar to lightly cover.  lightly sprinkle ground ginger on top as well (no more than 1/8 tsp per layer). continue with a second layer of oranges and repeat with the sugar and ginger. continue until you have reached your desired number of orange slices. remember to reduce the amount of syrup if you are reducing the number of oranges.
sugar and ginger the top layer of oranges, cover with plastic wrap and allow to sit for an hour at room temperature.  after 1 hour or up to 2 (if waiting longer than 2 hours, place in refrigerator) lightly pack your oranges into sterilized jars--each pint jar will hold approximately 20 pieces.
 make the syrup.  
place the sugar, water, blood orange juice and ginger in a saucepan over medium heat. add the leftover juices from your oranges as well.  bring to a boil and stir until the sugar is completely dissolved and the syrup appears clear.  remove from heat.  using a ladle, spoon the hot syrup over the oranges, making sure there are no gaps of air.  use a knife to maneuver the oranges so the syrup can seep through. leave a 1/4" gap at the top of the jar.
seal the jar and process in a water bath per standard canning methods. 
for tips on canning please click here
i processed my jars for 20 minutes at high altitude, but i cannot guarantee that this method will be appropriate for your batch.

And now for the big question
what would you use these for?
coming soon is a
cake recipe using sugared oranges
but you can also use for
cocktail garnish-using the syrup in the beverage
dry them in a slow oven and dip in chocolate
top cupcakes and cheesecakes
sweeten your morning yogurt
garnish grilled chicken
be imaginative
the list is endless...

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

"snow eggs"

my mom was an
eat a piece of fruit if your hungry
kind of mom
cakes, cookies and pastries
were for special occasions

after dinner
a bowl of fruit
platter of nuts
and maybe
a hunk of cheese
would be placed in the middle of the table
we would
solve the world's problems
while the coffee brewed

if i wanted
a store bought
cream filled delight
i had to eat at a friend's house

i have still never tasted
an actual hostess snowball
but i get the gist

when i found this fabulous
vintage cake pan
at a local shop
i couldn't wait to make cakes

with creamy filling
robed in sticky marshmallow
covered with

cakes. like. these.

marshmallow cakes
makes approximately 18
1 batch devil's food cake (recipe here)
1 batch cream filling (recipe here)
1 batch marshmallow topping (recipe here)
colored coconut
butter, or spray cake pan and dust with cocoa powder.  fill to 3/4 full and bake in 350 oven until tester comes out clean
let cool completely before filling
meanwhile, make cream filling
using a pastry bag with a "fill" tip
squeeze about 2 Tbs of cream into the center of the cake through the large end of the egg
 to make your colored coconut
simply take about a cup of sweetened flake coconut and place it in a ziploc bag.  drop in 2-3 drops of food color and close the bag. massage with your hands until all coconut has a bit of color in it. set aside until you are ready to use.
do not make your marshmallow until you are ready for it. marshmallow sets up quite fast, if possible get someone to help you, this will help it go both smoothly and quickly.
when you are ready, arrange your filled cakes on parchment paper in groupings of what color you will be topping them with
make your marshmallow topping.
while the marshmallow topping is still slightly warm, but is perfectly fluffed, stop whipping.  immediately begin topping your marshmallows, simply by pouring a bit of marshmallow on top.
 if you are doing this alone, stop after every two or three and generously sprinkle the coconut on top and sides. if you have a helper, allow them to immediately follow you with the coconut.  your marshmallow will set up within 5 or so minutes.
don't panic, just be aware.

i think these would be just darling wrapped and hidden in the garden
for a truly joyous
easter egg hunt


Saturday, April 9, 2011

spring freeze

i have a really 
positive and beautiful post
to share
very soon
one that celebrates
my and hubsters
love affair
with our cabin

i will share
all that goes with
restoring a once cherished home 
of a disco era character actress
 avid rare rose collector
because of
years of neglect and abandonment
is now a bit sagging
under our charge
it is making a comeback
barely standing
a sturdy home

we live in southern california
where winter is a whisper
and flowers can be in bloom year 'round
except in the mountains

in the mountains
winter is a fickle mistress
warm and lingering one minute
bitter hovering cold the next

last year
completely unprepared for frost
rather than morning dew
on mother's day
we found ourselves

eight beautiful trees
in mid-bloom
all rendered barren
at the wispy whim of mother nature
our carefully planted
vegetable garden 
turned to compost

that we live in modern times
and that all did not have to be lost
we replanted the garden
even with a short summer
were able to both
enjoy the bounty it sprung
 provide forage space
for our bees

which brings me to today
once again
we find ourselves
thinking about the weather
huddling at the hardware store
debating with the town folk
each of us sharing an opinion of
how cold will it get
how long will it sit
40 we have hope
30 it can be hit or miss
17 it is a matter of how much will be lost
not if

here's the deal
i don't care
that i can go to a grocery store and find
5 varieties of pear
peaches as sweet as sugar 
cherries with a flush to rival crimson of anger
the point is
we have trees
trees that have potential
potential that is being shattered
and i won't have that
neither will hubster

we are fighting fire with fire
scrappy and sure
armed with
christmas lights
garbage cans
plastic bags
contact paper

giving it the good fight
come summer
we have plans

plans like
pear brandy
plum jam cake
cherry pie
peach cobbler
just for starters

plans that won't be thwarted
even if it means
standing in freezing wind
stringing twinkle lights
four months after christmas

Thursday, April 7, 2011

a day for cake

today is national coffee cake day
good thing
it is rainy 
and windy
 just the kind of day
to sit in front of the fire
with a cup of coffee
and a piece 
of this amazing cake
with sugary topping
piled high
printable recipe can be found

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

roasted swordfish on garlic crouton

one of the great things about my life
is that it has been well lived

i have gathered great friends 
along the way
friends from all walks of life
all parts of the world
friends who know
i don't answer the phone
before 9 am

on a saturday morning recently
i was up early
reading my email
one came through from an old friend
currently living in memphis
it said 
"you awake?
i have a question for you and i don't want to wake you"
it was sent at 7:45am
i loved her for her courtesy

i called her 2 minutes later
and in return
she shared with me an amazing recipe

roasted fish on garlic croutons
she found it on epicurious
i have changed the recipe a bit
but really only slightly
because it is so perfect
just like the lovely who shared it with me
 roasted swordfish on garlic crouton
olive oil
2 bunches fresh spinach
tomato sauce
1/2 cup onions--finely diced
3 anchovy fillets
large can whole tomatoes
3 garlic cloves--coarsely chopped
about 10 basil leaves
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 Tbs brown sugar
2 Tbs capers-drained
4 swordfish filets or steaks about 7 oz each
olive oil
1/4 tsp dried chili flakes
salt and pepper
garlic crouton
4-1/2" thick slices country bread
1 clove of garlic-cut in half
preheat the oven to 450F
for spinach
in a skillet, heat a bit of olive oil over medium heat.  quickly saute the spinach until it is wilted but still has its color.  remove the spinach from the pan and set aside. quickly rewarm just before serving
for tomato sauce
heat a large skillet and add enough olive oil to lightly coat the bottom of the pan. add the onions and cook until they begin to sweat. add the anchovies and cook until the anchovies have disintegrated into the oil and onions begin to get golden brown.  toss in the garlic and give it a few stirs. add the tomatoes, crushing each one to bits, by hand, as you add it. give it a good stir and leave to simmer on medium heat for about 15 minutes. just before removing from heat, stir in the balsamic vinegar, brown sugar, basil leaves and capers. taste for salt and pepper. keep warm
for fish 
meanwhile put a little bit of olive oil in the bottom of a casserole dish.  place the fish on top.  season with salt and pepper and chili flakes.  drizzle a bit more olive oil on top. place in the oven and cook until the fish becomes opaque, about 8-10 minutes.
for garlic crouton
place your bread slices on a sheet pan in the oven to toast. slice the garlic clove into 2 pieces
once the bread is toasted, lightly rub each slice with the garlic.
to assemble
while everything is still warm, place a garlic crouton on each plate or on serving platter.  top with spinach.  next place a piece of fish on top of the spinach. generously bathe in the tomato sauce.  drizzle a little balsamic vinegar over the top to serve.

i am linking this up to
a little birdie told me
hearth and soul blog hop

Friday, April 1, 2011

brown-butter bacon shortbread with bourbon-maple glaze

at a recent food-swap
i traded jam for 
browned butter shortbread 
it was
out of this world
within minutes 
of finishing the very last crumb
i was conspiring to make my own

the gal with whom i swapped
was kind enough to share the recipe 
from gourmet magazine
(insert long sigh and whimper mourning the loss of this fabulous magazine)
while browning the butter
i was reminded a bit of the smell
of bacon
i have been know to swear
that i smell bacon
at a kosher deli
i'm only slightly obsessed
i do draw the line
chocolate covered bacon
don't love it

here is what i do love
crispy, nutty, salty 
with a throat warming
bourbon glaze

 brown-butter bacon shortbread
with bourbon-maple glaze
*this recipe only slightly resembles its inspiration. the addition of bacon, bacon fat, nuts, and glaze are all mine
original recipe here
(printable recipe)
4 oz browned butter-cooled to solid in fridge
2 oz bacon grease--cooled to solid in fridge
1/2 tsp grey sea salt (kosher is fine)
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup bacon--cooked crispy and finely chopped
1 1/3 cup+ 3 Tbs all purpose flour
1 cup toasted and chopped pecans
in the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together the cooled butter, cooled bacon grease and brown sugar. add the salt and vanilla and stir to mix.  mix in the bacon bits, then the flour. mix only to fully incorporate the flour, do not over mix. 
remove the dough from mixer and form into a cylinder on plastic wrap
roll the dough into the chopped nuts, cover and place in refrigerator.  let rest in fridge for an hour.
when ready to bake, heat oven to 350f. slice the roll into 1/4" slices and place on lined cookie sheet, leaving about 1/2" between each cookie. these will spread a bit.
allow to bake about 10-12 minutes or until they start to brown on the bottom. remove from oven and let cool.  
once cool, drizzle with glaze.
bourbon maple glaze
1 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp maple syrup
up to 1 Tbs bourbon
place powdered sugar in a bowl. stir in the maple syrup.  add bourbon 1 tsp at a time until it reaches a nice runny consistency, that will barely hold its shape.  pour into a piping bag or use a spoon to decoratively drizzle over the cookies.  allow to sit until the glaze has firmed up.

i am parading this recipe
is if it is a
pig at the county fair
at foodbuzz' baconalia
fingers crossed
that it is blue ribbon worthy


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