Friday, September 3, 2010

When Life Gives You Apples...

...make an Apple Tart.

My dear friend Linda handed me a 13 gallon bag filled with these little guys. She called them Pippins, tart green apples much like a Granny Smith. Linda and her husband had picked them a bit early due to the fact that the birdies were starting to get their little beaks on them!

I like to make something to snack on after the public cuppings I have at the roaster on Fridays, and I thought, "Well, now I have some apples, what to do..." I went to my old stand-by "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" good old Julia her! I found a tart recipe that I felt I could pull off with what I had on hand. I made a few alterations: recipe called for apricot preserves and I had apple jelly, vanilla extract was used rather than Calvados (apple brandy), and Alton Brown has sold me on Grains of Paradise rather than cinnamon in apple related baked goods.

Let's just didn't sit around long and there is nothing left. I do believe my mother really wants me to make another one!

Tiny Kitchen Gets an Upgrade...

'nuf said...I do believe!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Homeless Feasting, Part Two

This one was amazing! I went grocery shopping today and procured leeks, fennel and beautiful portabellas. What to do, what to do? A citrus-based sauce sounded perfect, but how exactly? I made a lemon butter sauce, much like a beurre blanc but the acid is lemon juice rather than vinegar. It complimented the leeks and fennel quite nicely. For a little added color I threw in some yams. now I have two wonderful vegetarian versions of the Hobo Dinner! Whoohoo!!
I almost like this one better than the first.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Homeless Feasting

I am preparing for a dinner party I am having this Sunday. Testing recipes in a way. This will be an unusual dinner in that a bonfire will be involved and we will be eating "Hobo Dinners." I grew up eating Hobo Dinners when we went camping, and they are a particular favorite of my 85 year old grandfather. Not familiar with the term? You may still be familiar with the product, a foil wrapped meal that you cook on the embers of a campfire, or in our case a bonfire.
Our family's Hobo Dinners have evolved over the years. When I was in fourth grade we learned to use cabbage leaves as a first layer of defense against burning the food within. The charred cabbage is quite yummy and it adds moisture to the finished meal. My dad has gone gourmet with the dinners, adding sauces and unusual ingredients. He replaces the standard ground beef with salmon or cuts of pork. Now I want to introduce a new challenge: I have vegetarian friends, family and even I try to eat vegetarian during the week. So I want to create a wonderful vegetarian version of the Hobo Dinner, and why not? How many hobos actually had meat? Okay, I mean real meat! No squirrel or rat. I am aware that they didn't have tofu either!

I am writing this as my first attempt at this experiment cooks on the grill. I confess that I am quite proud of myself and what I believe will be a brilliantly delicious meal. Now...I really don't know yet...but I can feel it! It has to be good! Right?
My genius comes from the beurre blanc sauce I have composed, with help from Julia Child. I have altered the recipe a bit: instead of white wine vinegar I used balsamic, and rather than shallots I used sweet onion, and then I added garlic. Again...seriously what could go wrong? Especially with 'lots and lots of butter!'

The main meal meal is made up of zucchini, yellow squash, carrots, yams, crimini mushrooms, sun-dried tomatoes and tofu. It's the tofu I'm a little worried about. I'm very new to tofu and what its capable of.

(time passes, 20 minutes on one side and 10 on the other)
When I opened the foil pouch it looked like the butter had burned, but just around the edges. The Dinner was AMAZING!! The tofu was great, the veggies oh so yummy! My only regret? That I put all of the sauce in the dinner and didn't reserve some for later. Oh well, after all Sunday is in the future, and I have a few more days left for experimenting.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Been Awhile...

Hello All! Sorry for the hiatus...not a lot of cooking going on right now. Though I am looking forward to all the wonderful food that summer brings! I made a fresh corn and avocado salad this weekend, but I had left my camera at work. I promise to get a pic of it next time. Here is a little of what I have been up to:

Spanish Lentils with Mushrooms...very yummy,
and I had just purchased the smoked paprika at Savory Spice Shop!!

Cinnamon Rolls ala Alton Brown...they were topped with cream cheese frosting.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Easter Dinner for Two

I love Easter! Actually I love the Spring Equinox but I can get Easter off, so that is when I celebrate. I love the spring-time food, I love that it is warming up outside, I love how fertile the earth is, and I love the egg-hunts!! Last year I hosted an Easter party that was huge. My father and I planned the entire menu and did all of the cooking. I planned an adult egg-hunt with prizes. We had 28 people over for the festivities. It was so much fun!

(Thank you Jamie Oliver!)

This year, I decided to keep it quite. Mom and Dad weren't going to be home, and my friends are having children and starting their own traditions. So I made a lamb roast for two along with potatoes, a green salad, and a strawberry tart. It was quite a challenge getting everything done with just a toaster oven, but it all went quite smoothly.
I did miss the crowd and the egg-hunt...may have to do the big shin-dig again next year!

The welcome challenge of a vegan.

I can't really remember how it came about. Perhaps it is just a natural progression, but we began having treats at the roaster's Public Cuppings. I have made sea salt caramels and others have brought cakes and cookies.

Then Levi started to come by on a regular basis. Levi is vegan. I love a cooking challenge! I began by making an apple pie. He hadn't had one since he was in 7th grade, so it was a must! That was pretty easy since all I had to replace was the butter in the crust (used Earth Balance.) Then I found a vegan chocolate cake recipe. So easy and so good! I have made it a couple of times with absolutely no high-altitude issues. Amazing.

Then came the Ginger Snaps. I had purchased a can of Ginger People's ginger chips when I was trying to come up with my signature drink for competition. The can was still sitting around and I took a look and there was a cookie recipe on the label. All I would have to replace was the butter and an egg. I had already seen an egg replacement idea involving flax seeds and water that looked really simple, so I thought I would give it a go.

They were awesome! Slightly crunchy on the outside and soft and chewy on the inside. The flavor of the flax egg complimented the molasses and ginger. So good! My accountant came up that day and after trying a cookie he said "Now if I could something like this in a coffeehouse!"

I will be making these again!

Tofu Tacos

Tofu tacos with a nice Asian flair. I love these things and they are so easy to make! Especially since I can buy already cubed, extra firm tofu and shredded cabbage. Yummy!

Add a little salsa verde and your in business!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

I agree!

I LOVE Jamie Oliver (aka The Naked Chef)!! I love his enthusiasm for what he creates. I love the simplicity. I love his encouragement. On top of all this I love how he is trying to improve everyone's lives with this: Jamie's Food Revolution

He has been working on this for the last 7 years and now he comes to the US to help out. I don't expect tsunami-like waves, but a few ripples would be amazing!

This gives you even more of an idea:

I have been cooking! I just keep forgetting to get the camera together with my memory card reader. It will happen...I promise!

Thing I have been making:
  • Tofu Tacos - really, really good!
  • Apple Pie - thank you Alton Brown!
  • Vegan Chocolate Cake - surprisingly easy and quite good.
  • Sherried Sardines with Avocado on toasted Sourdough - all hale Alton Brown!
  • Spaghetti Squash with homemade tomato sauce
Not to mention the wonderful things that I have been eating that others have made! I will be back soon with pics!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Vegetarian Delights

I go through phases where all I want to eat is vegetarian. Meat just isn't appealing and its all about the veg. I have been following a couple other blogs that have fueled my inspiration and set my mouth a' watering. The result was this beet, goat cheese, pine nut tart. Amazing!!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

My Valentine's Day Gift

For Valentine's Day I got an espresso machine! Yep. That is one of the competition machines from this last weekend. I am so excited!

The grinder was a present to myself. I am really still learning to use it, but I love it as well!

This will still be the machine for competition next year. So I will be able to practice on the proper machine and take next year's competition by storm!! I am also contemplating going to Anaheim and competing in the Nationals in April. We will see.

By the way, I did not get in to the final round. I went overtime by 47 seconds, which is a point off per second. I wouldn't have made finals even if I had been on time, but I would have scored a personal best. I am happy and I came away with great advice and feedback. Watch out Mountain Region, Susan will be back!!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

A bit of a hiatus

I won't be posting much in the next few weeks. I am busy getting ready for the Mountain Regional Barista Competition, which takes quite I bit of my creative juices and doesn't leave much for the kitchen. We have been eating a lot of burritos lately and they aren't all that exciting.

I will try to keep posts about the competition. This week we are finalizing signature drinks and espressos, as well as practicing the pouring of cappuccinos.

Next week I will probably open up to allowing spectators to come the the roasting facility to act as judges, or just to be spectators.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

C is for Cookie

What can I say! I have been spoiled...I don't think I have ever made cookies without a mixer. So I was a little intimidated to make cookies in the Tiny Kitchen, since I don't have a mixer on hand. But things went smoothly and the cookies disappeared very quickly! I do need to find real cookie sheets that fit the toaster oven. I used a glass Pyrex pan, and it worked okay, but I could only bake 4 cookies at a time.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Its in the bag...

I went to the market to get another whole chicken to roas
t, mostly to get some pictures this time! And they were out!! I had to settle for thighs. I say "settle" though in reality the thigh is one of my favorite parts of a bird. I am a sucker for dark meat...what can I say.
Now...what to do with them? I was telling my mother-in-law, Joan, about my blog and my cooking endeavors and she told me one of hers. She had roasted chicken in a brown bag, simply putting a little butter under the skin, some salt and peppe
r and poof! The best chicken she had had in awhile! "I can do this too!" I thought. So I did...

I added some red potatoes, sweet onion, carrots and fresh herbs. I was also thinking gravy. A nice traditional roast. And boy did it turn out good!!

My gosh I'm cooking a lot of chicken lately!! I have got to do something else!

Monday, January 11, 2010

And then there was stock!

So I went a step further and made chicken stock from the bones. I made "dark" chicken stoack ala David Tanis in "A Platter of Figs." So easy that you wonder why you ever bought the stuff in a box!

Soup is on the menu for tonight! Chicken and Wild Rice.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Local Eating

Earlier this week I received an email from one of Loveland's local restaurants, McGraff's. They have been doing a rotating weekly special for about 6 months now, and the email was informing me what the specials would be for the month of January. Low and behold one of my favorites was slated to be this week's special: The Krautburger (aka Bierock; German hamburger and cabbage filled roll)

So yesterday we went for lunch.

I asked our waitperson how the feedback had been on the Krautburger, and she responded with great enthusiasm that feedback was quite positive. That sealed the deal, I had to have it!

On the plate was a GIANT krautburger, cut in half, with a side of hot German potato salad and a couple of sweet gherkins. It was wonderful!! I HAD to eat the whole thing, no way was this going to leftover heaven.

McGraff's has the krautburger through Sunday, January 10. If you are craving one, I would go get one!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Got Chicken? Make Enchiladas!

So I had the roasted chicken and it was cold outside. I either crave soup or Mexican when its cold. I decided to go Mexican...a little margarita and a little chicken enchilada sounded perfect!

A couple of years ago I had managed to throw together some chicken enchiladas with what I had on hand, so I decided to try to replicate that recipe. The spouse can attest to the fact that this
was a triumph!

These enchiladas use goat cheese and they are pretty simple to make. I chopped up 3 cups of the roasted chicken and added that to some onions sautéing in olive oil. I added a can of mild chopped green chilies and 1/3 of a can of tomato salsa.

When this was warmed through I added 4oz of goat cheese and
incorporated. I set this aside as I heated oil to lightly fry my corn tortillas. Just heating them up to soften them, I would go one at a time, flipping them over for a second or two and then tossing them onto a paper towel. A spoonful of the chicken mixture, roll it up and put it in the pan. When the pan was full I topped the enchiladas with the remaining tomato
salsa and grated cheese. 350°F toaster oven for 10 minutes, topped with guacamole, sourcream and green onions. Yum!

Best part is that you can make then as mild or as hot as you want,
depending on the heat of the chilies and salsa. I really like the bright flavor you get from the goat's cheese!

The Kitchen

Pictures of where I'm cookin'

We took over the cottage from my Grandfather, who had been living there for 20 years. The space that contains the kitchen, bathroom and laundry room was originally a small barn and was built in the 1020's. We know it housed chickens at one time...perhaps even a goat or two? The barn was added onto in the 1970's and turned into a kind of summer kitchen for making jams, jellies, fruit butters and apple cider. (The property was mostly apple orchard at one time.) My husband and I moved in about a year and a half ago and gutted everything but the bathroom and laundry. The intention was to finish the kitchen, but as will happen with these kinds of projects, we ran out of funds. So we installed a sink, mini fridge, two-burner hotplate and toaster oven. Later we added a second mini fridge and a microwave. (I won't go into why there is a second fridge, there just is, okay?!?) I have whined about the kitchen off and on over the last 16 months, I have drawn plans, scoped out small appliances...the thing is finished in my head!! Yet in the last couple of weeks I began to think differently...what if I took it on as a challenge? This kitchen is capable of great, gourmet things...I know...I've done a little of it. So here we go...what can I throw at this kitchen? What can I do within the confines? (By the way, A LOT of my kitchen wares are still in storage! My mixer, food processor, dishes and gadgets galore.)

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

The Beginning...

Okay...well I have done it. I have started a blog.

The idea for it came about last night. I had been toying with doing a food-related blog for awhile, but nothing had really solidified it until last night. I had read Michael Ruhlman's blog entry earlier in the day and took it on as a challenge. I stopped at the store on my way home, purchased a chicken and proceeded to roast it in my toaster oven. It worked beautifully and this little edible endeavor became the inspiration I needed to begin blogging!

The funny thing in that my husband came up with the same idea as I told him about my day. Great minds really do think alike.

My next post will be pictures of my crazy little kitchen...