Mmmmmm….Pie! — Cake Edition

My poor kiddo has a cold and allergies that have left her with a sore throat. She came over for dinner and requested mac-and-cheese (creamy rather than baked) and a Boston cream pie for dessert.

These are both somewhat labor intensive dishes, but what the hell — anything for the kid. Here’s what the Boston cream pie looked like before it was hacked up and eaten:

boston-cream-pie-dec-2016

I think I overdid it on the ganache a bit, but then again, maybe too much chocolate simply isn’t possible. I used the same recipe I’ve used for years from a Better Homes and Gardens Junior Cook Book that I acquired at a yard sale as a teen. I believe the ganache is usually thicker, but maybe it’s the humidity.

After dinner, we watched a terrible movie about an alien abduction on Netflix. I don’t remember the name, but it was set in the 1970s and featured James Garner as an irascible detective. It’s allegedly based on a true story. The entire population of the small town depicted in the movie appeared badly in need of anger management classes — even the moms, nurses and waitresses were snarly.

Anyhoo, open thread!



Saturday Dinner: Roasted Leg of Lamb With Root Vegetables

While TaMara made a return last night with her recipe exchange, I thought I’d go ahead and slip on the tiara, frilly apron, and matching oven mitts and get to work. For your gustatory pleasure, I proudly present a roasted bone out leg of lamb with root vegetables.

sliced_lamb   roasted_vegetables

The recipe is really very basic, but quite delicious:

Ingredients:

1 Boneless Lamb Roast (in this case 4.5 lbs)

Kosher salt to taste

Freshly cracked black pepper to taste

Instructions:

Remove the lamb from the cryovac, remove the netting, rinse, and pat dry inside and out. Then salt and pepper the inside and outside of the lamb to taste. Let sit on the counter for an hour or so to bring the temperature of the lamb closer to room temperature. Preheat oven to 275. After an hour roll the lamb up, truss with twine tightly, and tie the twine off. Cover the bottom of a broiler pan with silver foil, then place the lamb roast onto the top of the broiler pan so the juices can run through the slits and be captured by the foil lined place. Roast until the internal temperature is 125-130 for rare or 135 for medium rare. When the internal temperature reaches your preference, remove from the oven, cover and let rest for 30 to 40 minutes. While the lamb is resting heat the oven to 500 degrees. After 30-40 minutes uncover the roast, place it back in the now 500 degree oven, and sear it for 15 minutes to crisp up the fat and make a nice, crispy crust. Remove from the oven after 15 minutes, move the roast to a cutting board, remove the twine, and slice.

seasoned_lamb

(Salted and Peppered Lamb Ready for Twining)

trussed_lamb

(All Trussed Up and Nowhere to Go)

resting_lamb

(Getting Read to Rest)

seared_lamb

(Seared and Ready for Slicing)

Roasted root vegetables.

Ingredients

1 small bag Red heirloom potatoes

1 small bag Purple heirloom potatoes

8 stalks of celery

1 and 1/2 lbs of carrots chopped

Kosher salt to taste

Freshly cracked black pepper to taste

Minced garlic to taste

Instructions:

Rinse and then cut the potatoes in half and place in a large bowl. Rinse, trim the tops and bottoms, and then chop the celery into 1 inch pieces. Rinse, and if necessary (depending on what you’ve purchased) trim the tops from the carrots. Then chop into 1 inch pieces. Place the potatoes, celery, and carrots into a large bowl, drizzle with olive oil and toss. Then salt, pepper, and add the minced garlic to taste. Toss to coat the vegetables thoroughly and transfer to a roasting pan. Roast on the top rack of the oven while the lamb is roasting. When the lamb comes out to rest, leave the veggies in to finish as the oven heats to 500 degrees. When the lamb goes back in to sear, remove the vegetables and cover with foil until the lamb is seared, sliced, and ready for serving.

seasoned_veggies

(Oiled, Seasoned, and Ready for Roasting)

And then enjoy!








Friday Recipe Exchange: Thanksgiving Files

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Is this thing on? I know it’s been forever – the house, work and puppies have taken most of my time. Cooking lately is mostly just for sustanance, nothing terribly creative. But Thanksgiving is almost here! Time to get cookin’. From the cooking blog:

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, next to 4th of July. Food, family, friends…and leftovers. I’m going to have a house full this year and I’m excited to host. Although I wasn’t expecting to have a puppy thrown in the mix, but that just makes it more interesting. I have compiled some of my most requested holiday recipes for tonight’s exchange.

JefferyW makes Cornbread Stuffing, (pictured above) part 1 here and part 2 here.

Roasted Butternut Apple Soup makes a great starter, recipe here.

Hearty Garlic Mashed Potatoes, click here – my family loves these, though the first time I made them they mocked me until they were served because the cooking method is so unusual. I cook them early and keep them warm in a slow-cooker while everything else cooks and stove top space is at a premium.

Two Brussels Sprout dishes: Pan Roasted with Pancetta and Onions (recipe here) and JeffreyW’s Brussels Sprout and Potato Au Gratin (click here)

Yum. What do you mean I have to take a bunch of pictures before I can even try it?

There will be a variety of pies this year, but instead of the traditional Pumpkin Pie, I’m making Pumpkin Cream Pie (above), the recipe is here, plus there are additional pumpkin dessert ideas at the link.

For the main course, we’ve made turkeys a bunch of ways here, including a Spatchcock Turkey, recipe here. For something more traditional, here are some ideas from people smarter than I am: turkey four different ways, good stuff here.

What’s on the menu for your Thanksgiving this year? Do you have a must-have recipe for your holiday dinner?

I’m not a fan of traditional candied sweet potatoes, so tonight’s featured recipes are some non-traditional styles for sweet potatoes.

Cajun Sweet Potatoes

  • 4 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 cup butter,  melted
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 tsp Cajun seasoning
  • ¼ tsp cumin (opt)

Covered casserole dish, well-greased

Steamer and saucepan

In saucepan, add water, steamer and sweet potatoes. Steam until you can easily stick a fork in them. They don’t need to be completely soft. About 10-15 minutes. Add sweet potatoes to casserole dish. Combine oil, butter and spices. Pour evenly over potatoes. Cover and bake at 375 degrees for 25-30 minutes until potatoes are soft. You can adjust cooking time if you prefer your firmer or softer potatoes.

Sweet Potatoes w/Apples

  • 2 large sweet potatoes, peeled & cubed
  • ¼ cup water
  • 2 apples, cored & sliced
  • 8 oz can sliced pineapple (including liquid)
  • 2 tsp butter
  • ½ cup orange juice
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp salt

2 qt casserole dish, greased

Add ingredients to casserole dish. Stir gently and bake at 375 degrees for 40-50 minutes, uncovered, until apples and potatoes are very soft. Cover if it begins to brown too much

That’s it for this week. I hope you have a safe and happy Thanksgiving.   – TaMara








Open Thread: Need A Gift, or A Pick-Me-Up? Try Penzey’s Spices!

I think it was someone here who turned me on to Penzey’s in the first place. Their spices have a deservedly good reputation, even for people like me whose culinary ambitions seldom rise above boiling water for pasta or heating stuff in the microwave. (Garden Salad Seasoning, IMO, goes on any dish that is not dessert.) The latest Penzey’s email also included a message that some of you may want to share with some of your relatives/acquaintances this Thanksgiving:

… At Penzeys we believe it’s not the use of tools that set us on a different path from the rest of the animal world; what has set humanity in motion is cooking. In our nearly a million years gathered together around the fire, cooking shaped our bodies and transformed our minds. Cooking unlocked our potential and gave birth to reason, to religion, and to politics and government. The kindness of tens of thousands of generations of cooks created our humanity, but racism, sexism, and homophobia can all very quickly unravel all the goodness cooking puts out into the world. As the voice of cooks, we will never sit idly by while that happens.

You may have read Tuesday Night’s email. In it I said: “The open embrace of racism by the Republican Party in this election is now unleashing a wave of ugliness unseen in this country for decades. The American people are taking notice. Let’s commit to giving the people a better choice. Our kindness really is our strength.”

Since I ask you to read my emails, I feel it’s only right that I read each of your replies. In sifting through those replies it was clear that, though not intended, a good number of people seemed to sincerely believe that in my statement I was calling all Republicans racists. In the emails of those Republicans who voted for someone other than the party’s nominee, I sensed genuine pain at having the strength of character to not go along with what was happening, but nonetheless be grouped in with those who were. I apologize for writing something that caused you pain; that is not the person I want to be. You are your party’s future, and you deserve my admiration and respect, and your country’s as well.

For the rest of you, you just voted for an openly racist candidate for the presidency of the United States of America. In your defense, most of you did so without thinking of the consequences of your candidate’s racism, because for most of you the heartbreaking destruction racism causes has never been anything you or your loved ones have had to experience. But the thing is elections have their consequences. This is no longer sixty years ago. Whether any of us like it or not, for the next four years the 80% of this country who did not just vote for an openly racist candidate are going to treat you like you are the kind of person who would vote for an openly racist candidate.

You can get angry at everyone else for treating you like you just did the thing you just did, or you can take responsibility for your actions and begin to make amends. If you are lucky and younger family members are still coming over for Thanksgiving, before it’s too late, take a moment and honestly think about how your actions must look through their eyes. Simply saying “I never thought he’d win” might be enough. But if you have the means, leaving a receipt from a sizable donation to the ACLU or the SPLC accidentally laying around where you carve the turkey, might go over even better.

Or, just do what you do best and volunteer. Through our customers’ support, we’ve given away a lot of our Penzeys Pepper, the Pepper with heart. More often than not, those we meet cooking and serving food to feed those in need are Republicans. You really are a good bunch, but you just committed the biggest act of racism in American history since Wallace stood in the schoolhouse doorway 53 years ago. Make this right. Take ownership for what you have done and begin the pathway forward…

P.S. There’s even a special right now on their ‘Love People’ gift boxes, the contents of which will be useful even to those who, like me, can’t or chose not to cook.



Something Fun and Yummy

Torchy's Tacos Breakfast Taco (Monk) - Austin, TX

Torchy’s Tacos Breakfast Taco (Monk) – Austin, TX

In pursuit of some non-political thinking, submitted for your pleasure.

Last weekend I had the pleasure of being in Austin and having another encounter with their famous breakfast tacos. The sublime experience was delivered by Torchy’s Tacos and their sauces. I brought some extra sauces home and am now trying to recreate something like them before they go bad and I no longer have reference tastes.

And so of course I thought to mention them here, in case anyone’s cracked the code(s). My understanding is that it would take 24 or more hours to make their sauces because of many secret ingredients that take time to prepare such as special pepper sauces. So it’s not truly possible to recreate them at home, but getting close is more than enough reward.

But let me back up a step or two.

For those not in the know, Austin has a fantastic tradition of breakfast tacos; they are enjoyed throughout central Texas, including Dallas, but reach their pinnacle in Austin. They are a mix of eggs/cheese/chilies/veggies/meats and are served on a toasted corn or flour tortilla, and accompanied by sauces. Truly, this type of breakfast food is more than just eggs and stuff on a tortilla; there’s an art to these things, and every aspect contributes to the final result, especially those sauces.

Austin’s standard sauce is a creamy jalapeno-based sauce that is much milder than you might think. Some places fry or roast peppers before adding them and a neutral oil to make a creamy emulsion. As for Torchy’s, I enjoyed their chipotle and advocado sauces and those are what I am trying to recreate. They are both moderately spicy, and the chipotle sauce is white, and has a hint of the tang of ranch dressing, so that may be one secret. But the avocado sauce is a mystery though I expect its base is the standard Austin green sauce with some extras, including some avocado. It’s so good it hurts.

Having spent my early childhood in Texas, and almost a decade recently in Southern Colorado, I’ve grown to relish this type of Southwestern breakfast fare and make such things more than once a week. My signature ingredients include home-canned sliced jalapenos and frozen New Mexico or Pueblo (Colorado) green chilies I procure, process, pack, and freeze for individual thawing. I also make a mean green chile and am perfecting my posole this winter.

With my greatly-increased knowledge and skill in cooking and love of DIY sauces, trying to nail these sauces down is a new passion. They’re that good, and I’m hoping to share the love and perhaps get some much-needed help!

Basic Austin Green Sauce
Clean, slice, seed, and remove white veins from 6 jalapenos
1/2 cup grapeseed oil
3-6 cloves garlic
4 tbs lime juice
3/4 tsp salt

Process all ingredients except oil in food processor until smooth.
Then gradually add oil until the mixture emulsifies.

I like to put in fridge to let it set before eating, but that’s purely texture-aesthetic.

Please feel free to offer any tips, to discuss other delicious treats, and to otherwise offer something that goes good on the table to block out tension, second-guessing, and endless agitation. 8 more days until we make history…again.








Hail Seitan! (Cookbook Giveaway)

Happy Almost-Halloween, Juicers!

I present, in all his dark majesty, the Vegan Black Metal Chef:

I love this guy! And I love his cookbook because he explains exactly what to do AND what not to do AND why. It’s a great cookbook for anyone, but especially newbie cooks.

the-seitanic-spellbook-ebook-cover-223x300

Like any good seitanist, the VBMC craves the harvest of innocent souls. And so he’s gifting a cookbook to one lucky Juicer. Simply leave a comment and I’ll use a random number generator to select the lucky sacrif—winner.

Only comment once or you’ll be disqualified. OT posters will be damned to ride the It’s a Small World boat for eternity. If you win, I’ll notify you at the email address attached to your comment name.

Edit: You can comment any time through till midnight tonight (Eastern time).








Friday Recipe Exchange: Soups On

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Well it’s been a whirlwind of activity here and I feel like I’ve made a lot of progress with the house and garden. Lots of cooking going on for friends and family because I love working in my new kitchen. It hasn’t left a lot of time for blogging. But dinner is in the slow-cooker and I have a moment before it’s time to walk Bixby, so tonight there is a recipe exchange. From the food blog:

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JeffreyW and I once again had a mind-meld moment and both made a batch of Beef and Barley Soup this week. His yummy photo is pictured above.  My recipe is here and JeffreyW’s recipe is here, accompanied by great photos.

Chuck roasts were on sale this week, so I stocked up. I love a good pot roast and have a few recipe variations. I have a recipe for a Tangy Pot Roast here.  For a more traditional take on a yummy Slow-Cooker Pot Roast  including a full menu and recipes, click here. My new favorite ingredient is a dash of good whisky to deepen the flavors.  One of the roasts will be cut up and frozen for soup or stew.

The garden is still producing an abundance of ripe tomatoes, so I made a batch of Tomato-Spinach Soup, recipe here. For a vegetarian version, just omit ground beef. I make it both ways depending on my mood. Serve with grilled cheese sandwich on Easy Slow Rise Crusty Bread, pictured below and recipe here.

bread-and-jam

Another batch of tomatoes, along with zucchini, green peppers and eggplant (all garden fresh) went into a fresh dinner for guests this week, Garden Fresh Pasta, recipe here.

What’s on the menu tonight? Any fun plans for this first weekend of October?

Turkey Bean Soup1

Tonight’s featured recipe is what we’re having as part of a get-together tomorrow night. It’s simple, hearty soup that we can put together earlier in the day for a quick dinner. Then we’ll be heading out to the local historical farm for Wildlife Night. There will be owls.

Cranberry beans are usually easy to find, but if not, substitute cannellini white kidney beans – you can use dry or canned.

Turkey Bean Soup

  • 1 lb smoked turkey sausage, diced (or ground turkey, browned)
  • 1 lb dried cranberry beans (soaked overnight, drained)cranberry-beans-close-up
  • 8 cups of water (or 6 cups water, 2 cups chicken broth)
  • 1/2 small onion, diced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 1 tsp dried Oregano
  • 1 tsp Chili powder
  • 1 tsp Cumin
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Slow-cooker

Add all ingredients to the slow-cooker and cook for 6 to 8 hours on low. Serve with fresh hot bread and salad for a complete dinner.

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That’s it for this week. I’m heading out to buy paint…starting on the living room this weekend. Have a great weekend – TaMara