Thursday, December 27, 2007

later today i plan on making a green olive tapenade to use up all the olives i bought for holiday entertaining that didn't get eaten... i have garlic olives, jalapeno olives, and feta olives so it should be pretty salty and delicious:). i'll let you know.

the fruitcake is scrumptious, if i do say so myself... our english friend darryl says that it is an authentic english fruitcake and only needs some marzipan to make it perfect.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

gorgonzola cheese ball

here is the official recipe for the gorgonzola cheese ball, which i want to share with you because it was utterly sumptuous.

1 (5.5 oz) container crumbled gorgonzola. other bleu would work well too.
1 package cream cheese, at room temp.
1/2 cup chopped dried cranberries
1/2 cup chopped sweet nuts, either homemade or from a bag

in a bowl, mash together the cheeses until well combined and the lumps of gorgonzola are broken up. add in the cranberries and mix until well distributed, adding more if you please. line another small bowl with plastic wrap and put mixture in, and then form into a ball and refrigerate a few hours until firm. when firm, roll in the chopped nuts. place on a plate with plain crackers and spread knives and serve!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

sugar & spice nuts, aka 'trusting my instincts'.

i'm bummed to have just wasted 2 cups of perfectly good nuts, but pleased that i came out on the other end with my own recipe and method for exactly what i wanted.

backing up: i wanted sweet nuts (like you'd put on a salad), and wanted to make them myself. i went on allrecipes and searched "candied pecans", found the recipe with the most positive reviews, and after i'd made a half batch (2 cups chopped nuts- i used 1 cup pecans and 1 cup walnuts) that the recipe was actually for something like divinity. it's delicious, but it's not at all what i was looking for. so, i heated up my skillet, quickly whisked together 1/3 cup brown sugar, a tablespoon of water, several dashes of salt, and several dashes of cinnamon. i stirred until everything was well coated and started to smell like delicious pecans:), and turned it out onto a greased cookie sheet to cool. voila, exactly what i wanted!

if you're curious, the nuts are going to coat another new recipe: gorgonzola and cranberry cheese ball! it came to me in a vision. the cheese ball is going to be half cream cheese, half gorgonzola, chopped dried cranberries, and it will all be rolled in the sweet nuts. i'm making that along with my mom's cranberry chutney today for Thanksgiving. and tomorrow is baking day! i'll be making a pecan pie (2 if i have enough nuts left... the thought of facing the grocery at this point of holiday madness is terrifying), 2 eggnog pumpkin pies, and a no-bake triple layer mud pie.

edited to add: i ended up popping the nuts into the oven at 300 for about 10 minutes, just to dry them out. they were a little too sticky before but the oven made them just about perfect!

Saturday, November 17, 2007

a few ideas for the future

i'm really intrigued by the idea of herbs in baked goods and not just savory dishes. of course its not a new idea, but i've never attempted it, so the new possibilities are exciting! i'm going to try to make a rosemary simple syrup to add to a plain vanilla (or almond) pound cake, and i've been wanting to make lavender strawberry shortcakes for a while now. and what about a lemon basil pound cake? i suppose i go to pound cake first because its just so simple and straightforward and the taste does take the front seat.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

jewish penicillin

a.k.a. matzoh ball soup

i do this by feel and taste, so amounts are only approximate.

for the soup:
1 package chicken tenders, cooked and chopped into bite-sized chunks
2 large boxes low-sodium chicken stock (i like to control the salt)
4 stalks celery, chopped
4 large carrots, chopped
6 slices ginger root
ground ginger, garlic, salt, and pepper to taste
a spash of lemon juice

-cook the chicken tenders in a skillet in an inch of water. leave whole, and chop after they're done cooking. (i avoid touching raw meat as much as possible.) while chicken is cooking, chop the veggies and combine with the stock and ginger root in a large stockpot. add cooked chicken to stockpot, and bring to a rolling boil. add seasoning to your taste, then add prepared matzoh balls.

for the matzoh balls:
1 cup matzoh meal
4 large eggs
4 tbsp vegetable oil
4 tbsp stock or water
1 tsp salt

-with your clean hands, mix meal, eggs, oil, and salt together until combined. add the oil and mix again and refrigerate for 15 minutes. drop into soup and let boil for 30-40 minutes or until matzoh is cooked through. take out ginger root before serving. serve, enjoy, and then feel better!

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

a modern take on fruitcake

i came up with this recipe tonight after experimenting with a few others, one traditional and one not at all. the traditional recipe had nasty candied fruit, and another was waaay too soft and light. i think this is a wonderful combination of traditional texture and modern flavor. here, natural dried fruit takes the place of the traditional technicolor candied yuckiness, and i've maintained that wonderful moist denseness that is so familiar. it is spicy, rich, spiked, and most importantly, delicious.

3 cups all purpose flour
3 sticks unsalted butter, at room temp
2 cups packed dark brown sugar
4 large eggs
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp ground cinnamon
1 tbsp ground nutmeg, fresh if possible
scant 1 tbsp allspice
scant 1 tbsp clove
zest of 2 oranges, finely chopped
1/3 cup dried figs, chopped
1/3 cup dried cranberries, chopped
1/3 cup currants
1/3 cup dried sour cherries, chopped
1/3 cup dried mango, chopped
approx. 2 cup dark rum
1 cup walnuts, chopped
1 cup pecans, chopped

soak chopped fruit in 1 cup rum for at least 24 hours, in an airtight container at room temp

grease and flour two tube pans, and line bottom with parchment cut to fit. preheat oven to 225 degrees farenheit.

cream together butter and sugar until lightened in color and fluffy. add eggs and beat until combined.

in a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and cloves.

beat flour mixture into butter mixture until well combined. stir in fruit (which will have plumped considerably) to equal 4 CUPS, nuts, and orange zest. divide between two pans and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 1-2 hours. the idea is to bake slow to get rid of some moisture that will be reintroduced in the form of rum during aging.

remove from oven and allow to cool in pan 10 minutes. while cooling, lay out a layer of cheesecloth soaked in rum. flip fruitcakes right side up onto cheesecloth, sprinkle approx. 2 tbsp rum onto surface, and wrap tightly in parchment and sealing in an airtight container. let age for at least 2 months, sprinkling with additional rum every 5 days.

edited to add:
i had enough leftover fruit for two more fruitcakes. i made the happy accident of adding ginger to that batch of batter, and i had run out of orange zest. again, the batter was amazing and i wanted to lick the bowl!

Monday, October 8, 2007