Thursday, October 29, 2009

Simple Roasted Turnips Extraordinaire

Ok, not an actual recipe, but SO GOOD I wanted to post. I'm totally buying turnips at the store to do this. Not that the under-10 set liked these, but too bad! More for me! (A tiny bit cabbage-y, so if you despise cabbage, you might not like.)

This is what I did:
  • Take a small batch of CSA turnips; cut off both ends and peel. Cut into wedges.
  • Mix in a bowl with some olive oil. Sprinkle on some thyme.
  • Put in a pan; roast at 350F for like, maybe 45 minutes, shaking/stirring occasionally until both sides are kind of brown/caramalized and delicious.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Wednesday Fun #107 - A rose by any other name?

Thinking about this month's theme, I'm wondering...

You know that yellow-orange stuff they put on nachos at the game? Is it cheese? Discuss.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Soft Pretzels

Thanks for the inspiration, Ms. Huis! Saturday's wine tasting was Riesling, so I made a batch of soft pretzels for the occasion. I have changed my poll response accordingly. This recipe is lifted straight from Alton Brown on The Food Network site, which probably breaks all kinds of fair use laws, but I suspect y'all won't turn me in.

My notes:
I've always heard that pretzels are difficult to make. If you have a stand mixer with a dough hook, these are a breeze.

I couldn't find pretzel salt, so I used coarse sea salt instead. It was maybe a little intense for my tastes, but still a serviceable substitute. I also toyed with the idea of using margarita salt, since I think of that as being softer and slightly less salty. But maybe that's just the influence of the tequila. Also, I measured my flour by weight and it came to barely 4 cups. Maybe 4-1/2 sifted? Perhaps related to that, everywhere he says to oil a surface? Oil it. This is sticky dough.

The best thing about these is how intensely buttery they taste, even though there's only 2 ounces of butter in the whole recipe.

The recipe:

* 1 1/2 cups warm (110 to 115 degrees F) water
* 1 tablespoon sugar
* 2 teaspoons kosher salt
* 1 package active dry yeast
* 22 ounces all-purpose flour, approximately 4 1/2 cups
* 2 ounces unsalted butter, melted
* Vegetable oil, for pan
* 10 cups water
* 2/3 cup baking soda
* 1 large egg yolk beaten with 1 tablespoon water
* Pretzel salt


Combine the water, sugar and kosher salt in the bowl of a stand mixer and sprinkle the yeast on top. Allow to sit for 5 minutes or until the mixture begins to foam. Add the flour and butter and, using the dough hook attachment, mix on low speed until well combined. Change to medium speed and knead until the dough is smooth and pulls away from the side of the bowl, approximately 4 to 5 minutes. Remove the dough from the bowl, clean the bowl and then oil it well with vegetable oil. Return the dough to the bowl, cover with plastic wrap and sit in a warm place for approximately 50 to 55 minutes or until the dough has doubled in size.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Line 2 half-sheet pans with parchment paper and lightly brush with the vegetable oil. Set aside.

Bring the 10 cups of water and the baking soda to a rolling boil in an 8-quart saucepan or roasting pan.

In the meantime, turn the dough out onto a slightly oiled work surface and divide into 8 equal pieces. Roll out each piece of dough into a 24-inch rope. Make a U-shape with the rope, holding the ends of the rope, cross them over each other and press onto the bottom of the U in order to form the shape of a pretzel. Place onto the parchment-lined half sheet pan.

Place the pretzels into the boiling water, 1 by 1, for 30 seconds. Remove them from the water using a large flat spatula. Return to the half sheet pan, brush the top of each pretzel with the beaten egg yolk and water mixture and sprinkle with the pretzel salt. Bake until dark golden brown in color, approximately 12 to 14 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack for at least 5 minutes before serving.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Neat Champagne Science... and a Saber!!!

Ok, for some neat Champagne knowledge plus a SABER go to Wine Library TV and watch episodes #756 and #757... it's worth the 35 minutes!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Wednesday Fun #106 - Rainy Day Foods

It's raining outside. Looks to be one of those all-day soaking type rains. Which is great - I think we're still behind from the summer.

Days like today make me crave homemade chicken noodle soup (with homemade noodles) and/or basic grilled cheese sandwiches. Yum. I think I just figured out what I'll be making for supper tonight!

How about you? Any particular foods you find yourself wanting on dark and rainy days?

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Wednesday Fun 105- Modern Cafe review

Pusher and I first went to The Modern Cafe picking it off a list for a charity event. We were both a bit familiar with it (she a bit more than I) but hadn't made it there. That was our mistake.

The food is tremendous! It's mostly dishes you know but with their own flavorful twist. Pot roast that melts in your mouth with a delicious creamy horseradish sauce, spicy pork with cous-cous, and meatloaf that only your French dream-mother would make. The menu seems to shift regularly so those that get bored with the relatively brief menu don't have to long to wait for a change.

The Modern also seems to draw an impressive mix of client. I've seen people doing family generational dinners, hip couple dinners (no that wasn't us... real hip people), teenagers hanging out, and older (retirement age) just getting a good meal. You have to do something right to get that mix.

I also need to mention the wine list. It's a list that shows someone there knows about wine. There isn't a bottle for over $40 (so $20 and under if you were getting them retail) and they stay away from household names. This means those who aren't adventurous might be a bit scared (though a large percentage of their list is available by the glass), but the advantage is the wines are world view that "wine nerds" would say are a great value. These are often the areas or grapes that haven't yet hit huge. The capper to the wine is that on Tuesdays they do half price bottles!

The last thing I need to discuss is the look. It's "Modern" as in modern art and has largely been restored in that vein (restored is relative as the booths are clearly of that time and haven't been restored). The building is from before plumbing so when you go to the basement to "rest" there are exposed pipes (all painted and clean). The place has character and I highly recommend you go... let me know when and maybe I can join you.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Wednesday Fun #104 - Name 3 cheeses!

Ok, gang, this one should be pretty easy.

Name 3 (or more!) cheeses!

Bonus points if they all start with the same letter, are organized in mildest to "feet-y"-est, are the same color, from the same region of the world, or otherwise relate.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Margarita Pie

Margarita Pie
This is one of those recipes that gets slightly altered each time I make it, so I've included some of the variations.

For Crust: 
  • 2 cups  crushed pretzels 
  • 1/4 cup  sugar 
  • 2/3 cup melted butter 
Pulse pretzels and sugar in food processor (or blender) until fine crumbs. Add butter, process to blend. Press crumb mixture onto bottom and sides of pie plate. Freeze while preparing filling. 
Note: Personally, I like the salty crust, it's unusual though. Some people prefer to use a standard graham cracker crust, still good, just makes it sweeter. 

For Filling: 
  • 1 can (14 oz) sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 tbsp. grated lime peel
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
  • 1/4 cup tequila (if you use this amount you will taste it a bit.  You can cut back to 2 tbsp. or eliminate) 
  • 1/4 cup Cointreau (or other orange liqueur, you can cut back to 2 tbsp. or use orange juice)
  • 2 cups  heavy whipping cream (you can use cool whip if you want, but it will be sweeter)
  • 4 drops green + 2 drops yellow food coloring (optional)
  • Garnish: lime slices

Stir condensed milk, lime peel, juice, tequila, Cointreau, and food coloring in a small bowl. Beat cream with mixer until soft peaks form. Gradually fold in the lime mixture until well blended. 
Pour into crust, freeze 4-6 hours or overnight. To serve, let pie sit at room temp for 10 minutes, or refrigerate for 20 min.  Re-freeze any remaining pie. 

  • Strawberry- omit lime peel, add 1 cup fresh sliced strawberries, use red food coloring 
  • Virgin- omit tequila, add an extra 1 tbsp. lime juice, use 1/4 cup of orange juice in place of liqueur.
Ok, that is not as many different ways as I thought! Oh, I think I did use Triple Sec one time too, but I can't remember if that was in addition to the Cointreau or replaced it...

October Theme - Cheese!

Oh, hey, wow! Look at that - it's October! Sorry about the lateness of this theme update, but here it is anyway.

October's theme is cheese! Yay, cheese! Now, we've got a lot of recipes in here that include cheese, but I figured I'd highlight a few where it's the star player. If I've missed some, let me know & I'll fix it.