Monday, October 12, 2009

Love is a warm cheese puff

I discovered something this weekend. Gougères. Look at them, so unassuming. Little golden puffs...Shiny from the egg wash, with pieces of Parmesan cheese baked on top, adding a little salty, nutty flavor. Goat cheese and chives beat into the dough, baked until golden. I had been afraid to try these, now I'm upset that I didn't make them sooner.They're good fresh out of the oven, but I liked them best at room temp. Bite size, they're easy to pop in your mouth while chatting with friends, and it's easy to lose track of how many you've had!

Goat Cheese and Chive Gougères
adapted from Eggs on Sunday
makes about 4 1/2 dozen bite size puffs

1 cup milk
4 ounces (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup all-purpose flour
5 large eggs, divided
1/2 cup crumbled goat cheese
2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F, moving the racks so that your oven is divided into thirds. I followed Julia Child's directions for baking the majority of these guys because my two test puffs didn't fare well.

Bring milk, butter and salt to a boil in a medium saucepan. Once boiling, remove from heat and dump all the flour in at once. Whisk it together, then put the pan back on the heat to dry the dough out a little. Whack the whisk against the side of the pan to get it all out of the wires... (you know what I'm talking about. My least favorite thing about whisks, btw)... and switch over to a wooden spoon. Remove it from the heat and add four of the eggs, one at a time, making sure each egg is completely stirred in before adding the next one. Once all the eggs are in, dump in the chives and goat cheese and mix that all in too.

Now, you have some options. Put the dough in a pastry bag and pipe it onto a cookie sheet lined in parchment paper OR just spoon it onto the cookie sheet in neat little spoonfuls. Beat up your last egg, brush the top of each puff, then sprinkle shredded Parmesan on top. Put your beauties into the oven and bake them for 20-30 minutes (each of my trays took a different amount of time, so use your nose and eyes) or until they're golden brown and crisp and yummy all over. Once they come out of the oven, poke them in the side with a sharp knife and put them in the now turned off oven for 10 minutes, with the door open. I know, sounds crazy, but it lets the steam out and keeps the puffs from getting soggy, very important!

I've already planned my next batch... bleu cheese and lots of pepper. And then, sweet puffs instead of savory, maybe with some kind of pumpkiny filling. Excuse me while I gain 200 lbs from the puffy goodness.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

The Hazard of Eating Locally

I'm a label reader. Where is this from? What's in it? What the hell is Red #6? Eating food that isn't overly processed and is sourced locally is important to me. I'll confess, I have my weaknesses. Who doesn't? But, I've found that local fruits, veggies and meats taste better. More flavor, everything is fresher and since I know my farmers, I'm more confident that there's not going to be an E Coli breakout in my spinach or ground beef. I've tried more varieties and new varieties of, well, everything, in the past 2 years than in my (almost) 30 years total on this earth.

Right right, so where is this going? This summer was hard. Wait, make that Hard, with a capital H. We went with a new CSA this year and boy, what a disappointment. That picture up there? That's from last year. Each week I'd leave work and fill my bags with pounds and pounds of produce. There were weeks I brought so much home that DH and I weren't able to eat even half of it. This year though. Wow. The early summer rains decimated the farms that were involved in our CSA. We received 3 summer squashes total this season, as opposed to the pounds of summer squash we got last year. I think I still have some from last year, in the frozen depths of my freezer.

We made do with what we got and supplemented from other farms that had a better go of it by going to farm stands and farmer's markets. I was also lucky enough to find local produce in the grocery stores in the area.

I've already decided that next year, I'm planting a garden. It'll be a container garden, because of the whole condo thing, but that'll do for the 2 of us. I'll have to plant some extra carrots for the pup, but that's doable! I figure though, if I'm going to be disapointed in the quality and quantity of produce that I'm receiving, I'd rather be disapointed in myself, than local farmers that are having a harder time of it than me. I'll still be at the Hope Street Farmer's Market Saturday mornings though, coffee in hand, oohing and aahing over the tables of veggies and buying Bruschi's favorite dog treats...

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Weekend Getaway-- Cape Cod

About a month ago, I surprised DH with a trip to the Cape. I was jonesing for the ocean, and we both were ready to just get away for a few days. I realized once I got home, that almost all the pictures I took was of food or drink! The Wee Packet in Dennisport does the best corned beef hash anywhere. Theirs is the only corned beef hash I will eat. Ever. At least, until I figure out how to reproduce it at home, because, honestly, driving to Dennisport for breakfast every Saturday would just be ridiculous. Falling asleep to the sound of the ocean, and then waking up to the sound of the ocean, is my favorite thing in the world. And yes, this is one of the few non-food/drink related pictures I took! Truro Vineyards is a great place to stop. Tasting 10 different wines, outdoors on the Cape? What's better than that? Oh, right. Buying 6 bottles to bring home with you! The road less traveled is the best road to take. We found Winslow's Tavern, an amazing restaurant in Wellfleet that does Lobster BLT's-- Lobster, prosciutto, saffron aioli, washed down with an Allagash White. We never would have found it, if we hadn't taken a random right turn when heading back to Yarmouth after visiting Truro Vineyards. I can't wait to go back!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

4... no wait, 5, Things I Learned Today

1. Learning that I can put all the pieces of my food processor into the dishwasher makes homemade laundry soap way easier to make and SO much more convenient. Hooray dishwasher safe plastic!
2. However, wooden cutting boards? Not dishwasher safe.

3. Half a bag of microwave popcorn is NOT a suitable substitute for lunch because it means that half a bag of milk chocolate Nestle Flipz becomes an appetizer.
4. There's isn't much in the world that tastes better than an ice cold beer. Except maybe a gin and tonic, with a lime wedge. I like making mine in pint glasses. Less trips to the kitchen, more time for relaxing.
5. It is possible to be jealous of garden gnomes. Especially when they're on Good Eats, stuck in the veggie drawer, talking to Alton Brown (not that I want to be stuck in a veggie drawer or on TV, but the talking to Alton Brown part? Sign me up!).

Monday, May 4, 2009


I'm on the lookout for a new Madeleine recipe. I made the brown butter recipe that came with the tin. It was so-so. Tonight? I made David Lebovitz's Lemon-Glazed Madeleines.
Of course, it was kind of spur of the moment. And, I have no patience, so I didn't put my madeleine tin in the fridge AND I didn't refrigerate my batter for an hour. I wanted to bake and it had to be...
Results? Yummy, buttery, just lemony enough madeleines. Exactly what I was looking for. I will def be making these again, but I'll follow the recipe a little closer because while they're good, I think they could have been great. Next time, I'll add 1 cup of patience to my ingredient list!

Lemon Glazed Madeleines (made 24 largish cakes)
from David Lebovitz
3 large eggs, at room temperature
2/3 cup (130g) granulated sugar
rounded 1/8 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cup (175g) flour
1 teaspoon baking powder (optional)
zest of one small lemon
9 tablespoons (120g) unsalted butter, melted and cooled to room temperature, plus additional melted butter for preparing the molds
3/4 cup (150g) powdered sugar
1 tablespoon freshly-squeezed lemon juice
2 tablespoons water

1. Brush madeleine mold with melted butter. Dust with flour, tap off any excess, and place in the fridge or freezer (or not).
2. Whip the eggs, granulated sugar, and salt for 5 minutes until frothy and thickened (then yell at your husband for turning up the TV to hear it over the mixer).
3. Sift the flour and baking powder, if you're using it (I didn't), the gradually add to the batter, folding it in with a spatula.
4. Add the lemon zest to the cooled butter, then add the butter to the batter, a few spoonfuls at a time, while folding to incorporate the butter. Fold just until the butter is incorporated.
5. Cover the bowl and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to 12 hours (even a 30 minutes would have been too long for me tonight).
6. To bake the madeleines, preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
7. Spoon batter into the madelein mold, filling each space until it is about 3/4 full (I'm really bad at this part, but only had a few that overflowed).
8. Bake for 8-9 minutes or until the cakes are just set. While they are baking, make the glaze in a small mixing bowl by whisking together the powdered sugar, lemon juice, and water until smooth.
9. Remove the madeleines from the oven, placing them on a baking rack. Once they are cool enough to pick up, dunk each one in the glaze, covering both sides (I used a fork to help get them in and out of the bowl). Scrape off any excess glaze and put the cake back on the rack to finish cooling and to allow the glaze to harden.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

CSA Dreaming

Dear Mother Nature,
I'm ready for warm weather and local produce. Please?

Monday, March 23, 2009

Enough already

Sunday, March 22, 2009

My house... it smells like beer.

Today marks our first day as, dare I say it, home brewers. DH tried his hand at this once before, probably 4 years ago, with a Mr. Beer kit. It was bad. There's no way to sugar coat that. I took one sniff once the beer was ready and refused to try it. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that this batch comes out better.
I'm feeling optimistic for a few reasons.
1. We took a class and watched someone with experience. She also gave us a list of her tips and directions that are way more detailed than the ones that come with the kit.
2. We bought a real home brew kit. I'm sure that there are people that have gotten good beer from Mr Beer, but we're not them.
3. DH and I both know a lot more about beer and the process. Last time, we were still pretty green. We were beer likers. Now, we're beer lovers.
So, what kind of beer are we brewing? A Bavarian Hefeweizen. One of my favs. We're using a True Brew kit, purchased at Homebrew Emporium in West Boylston, MA. Great store! I'm already dreaming about ways to use the Grains of Paradise I saw there... but I think that's a long ways off. Into the fermenting bucket it goes, now we just have to wait a week, maybe two, until it's ready to bottle. Then, three more weeks before we can drink it. This better be worth it.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Tonight? Patty melts!

(Oh, and crinkle cut fries with honey mustard from Town Spa in Stoughton... ) I'm totally trying to hustle in spring/summer by using the grill when there's snow on the ground. I'll let you know how that goes! This was a super easy, quick dinner! Sliced onions, mushrooms, olive oil, salt, pepper and a little balsamic vinegar went into a foil pouch and straight onto the grill to cook over medium flames. About 10 minutes later, we threw our super lean, made with local beef, burgers on the grill. While hubby tended to the grill, I made grilled cheese sandwiches inside, using marble rye and swiss cheese. Once everything was done, I pulled apart the grilled cheese sandwiches, put the burger on one half of the sandwich, piled on the onions and mushrooms and then topped it with the other half of the sandwich. Cut each one in half, divvied up the fries and enjoyed!

Monday, March 9, 2009

Brave, Brave Husband

me: hey hun, want to try tempeh?
him: uh sure.
Uh sure? That's good enough for me!
This is a keeper. Of course, I didn't quite get a glaze out of it, and I ran out of soy sauce. Oh, and I didn't have fresh ginger OR ground coriander. Wait, mirin and fresh squeezed orange juice? Nope and nope, didn't have those ingredients either. Wow. Was I unprepared or what?! I decided to give it a try anyway and made do with some substitutes.

Orange Pan-Glazed Tempeh (my subs are in parenthesis) about 4 servings
from 1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice (1 cup Tropicana)
1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger (1 tsp ground ginger)
2 teaspoons tamari (or 2 tsp soy sauce)
1 1/2 tablespoons mirin (1 TBS sake + 1 tsp or so of local honey)
2 teaspoons maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander (1/2 tsp ground cumin)
2 small garlic cloves, crushed
about 10 ounces of tempeh or extra-firm tofu (8 oz tempeh)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 lime (oops didn't have this)
a handful of cilantro leaves (you guessed it. left this out too.)

1. Mix together first 7 ingredients - or substitutions - and set aside.
2. Cut tempeh into bite sized pieces.
3. Heat olive oil in large skillet over medium high heat, until hot but not smoking. Add tempeh and cook about 5 minutes on each side, until golden brown.
4. Pour in the OJ mixture and let simmer about 10 minutes, until reduced and glaze-y. Or, at the very least, reduced.

Serve with veggies, rice, quinoa, what have you. We had ours over brown rice and broccoli. I'm already looking forward to taking the leftovers for lunch tomorrow!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

15 chocolate chips?

I always wonder why people name things the things they're named. And I know 12 blueberries seems a little "out there". So, I'm offering an explanation. First though, you need to know something about me. I'm a Gilmore Girls fan. There. I said it. It's really nothing to be that ashamed about. Right? Right?! But, that's where my 12 blueberries come from. Michele can not eat a blueberry pancake with more than 12 blueberries in it. Period. And Sookie won't let him count. Beyond being a Gilmore Girls fan, I love to be in the kitchen. Cooking, baking, whatever. Even if it's re-organizing the cabinets, that's where I'm happiest. When I first moved out of my parents house though, I had no idea what I was doing. If a recipe called for, say, 12 blueberries, I counted those blueberries, usually twice. I've since loosened up, and have stopped counting and starting doing what feels right. Twelve? Fifteen? Twenty-five? Sure, why not! And really, why not use chocolate chips if you've got them.