Monthly Archives: August 2008

still playing with my toys

baking bread book

so i’m always on the lookout for bread machine books, this time at my town’s public library. it has very detailed instructions and the introductory discussion of ingredients and techniques is just what i need.

i get to keep it one month, and could extend it for another month unless someone else requests it.
thing is, the book is out of print and requires some sleuthing to find a copy. :detective:

i could refuse to return it for 10 cents a day…hmmm.

just don’t be wondering where it is, i’ve got it.

and i tried this really good recipe for “milk loaf.” even the name of it makes you want to eat it.
the bread turned out really luxurious on the mouth, a seemingly impossible combination of dense and soft, great for sandwiches and French toast and just eating it straight out of the bread machine.
milk loaf

milk loaf (recipe for a medium loaf):

(follow the instructions on your machine for the succession of placement of ingredients)
1 cup milk (at room temperature; i used whole milk)
1/2 cup water
4 cups unbleached white bread flour
1 & 1/2 tsps. salt
2 tsps. granulated sugar
2 tbsps. butter
1 tsp rapid-rise active dry yeast

put ingredients in the bread pan in the order given by your bread machine manual.
set to basic/normal setting, medium crust.
remove the bread at the end of the baking cycle and let cook on a rack.

–from The Cook’s Encyclopedia of Bread Maching Baking by Jennie Shapter, Barnes and Noble Books, New York, 2001.

white pizza




CPK family cookbook
i want you to buy this cookbook.
because 100% of the proceeds from the sale of this book will go to children’s charities.
so i will make you want to buy it! when i opened up the cookbook this was the first thing i wanted to make: delectable white pizza with bacon. hold the tomatoes! these slices are loaded with wilted spinach (sauteed with garlic), bacon (i used prosciutto and chicken sausage), mozzarella, parmesan, fontina, and ricotta cheeses. my kids loved it! (though i had to make a second pizza of pepperoni and leftover spaghetti sauce laden with mozzarella. one member of the family has to have pepperoni :dash-d-knight: .)
i made the pizza dough in the bread machine which was a time saver….just used the manual setting, and shaped the pizza by hand.
white pizza, before
with “dollops” of ricotta, and shreds of fresh basil.

white pizza, fresh out of the oven

white pizza, slice
although i’ve only ever been to a CPK once, i must boast that i went to one actually in California, many years ago, with my brother, when we only had two kids each.

they’re famous for revolutionizing esoteric pizzas (bbq chicken! thai!) , and they also sell them in the freezer section of the supermarket.

the cookbook starts you out with three kinds of pizza dough, then ideas for toppings like jamaican jerk chicken, japanese eggplant, and Thanksgiving sweet potato pizza. it also features more than just pizzas (appetizers, salads, dessert pizzas) and tips on how to have a children’s make your own pizza party.
that’s just right up my alley!

tangy frozen yogurt

someone new in the family, a prospective future niece-in-law, told me that she’d heard a lot about my cooking.
i told her it’s just that i love to eat.
if i taste something really good my first instinct is to try and duplicate the lovely flavors and textures and memories of the first bite.
just like with the pinkberry frozen yogurt we tried in Westlake, California, with my siblings and their kids.
pinkberry frozen yogurt

i didn’t invent anything, instead i turned to the handy dandy gugel function of Mozilla, and found 101 cookbooks by Heidi Swanson.
i must say, i haven’t gotten it down pat.
it still needs tweaking.
the recipe calls for straining the plain organic yogurt i used (alternatively, use Greek style).
the result ended up tasting just like the pinkberry, but the texture was sherbet-y, icy, instead of creamy melty.

whatever!
my favorite customers liked it, despite the fact that they have to thaw the container out at least 15 minutes to get it down to scoopability.

i’m going to try this recipe out with less straining time, next time.
tangy frozen yogurt
frozen yogurt with golden kiwis, strawberries, grapes
#2son likes it with golden kiwi, strawberries, and grapes…

stir fried pork with chilies

PICT0071harvest of red chiliesPICT0077
we have a tiny little patch of a vegetable garden outside, with a couple of hopeful tomato big boys, a couple of long peppers, and our annually-enhanced, pocket-handkerchief-size herb garden.

#2 son has been taking good care of them and we’ve just harvested two peppers. as in two pieces.
i automatically thought of this recipe from Ken Hom’s The Taste of China (where it is billed as “Pickled Chilies with Pork”), something easy to make, not to mention quick, yet quite substantial in flavor, not too spicy but bold enough in flavor to make you want to eat bite after bite.

it made me remember Jeff Smith, the Frugal Gourmet, remember him? he used to have a cooking show on PBS. although he often was quite annoying with his squeaky talkativeness i did appreciate his spotlighting Chinese and Southeast Asian cuisine. it was from him i learned about the holy triumvirate of flavors that distinguish Chinese cooking: garlic, ginger, rice wine.

this dish just truly exemplifies those flavors. and we got to eat our home-grown produce!
#2 son was very proud!
PICT0079

for the marinade:
1/2 pound lean boneless pork
2 tsps. light soy sauce
1 tsp. dark soy sauce
1 tsp. rice wine or dry sherry
1 tsp. sesame oil
1/2 tsp. cornstarch

for the stir-fry:
4 ozs. mild red or green chilies(we used both-augmented by store-bought cubanelle and cowhorn peppers)
6 scallions
1 & 1/2 tbsps. peanut oil
1 tbsp. finely minced garlic
2 tsps. finely chopped peeled fresh ginger
1 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp. salt

for the sauce:
2 tsps. light soy sauce
2 tsps. rice wine
2 tsps. white rice vinegar
1 tsp. sugar

cut the pork into thin slices, about 1/8 inch by 3 inches long. in a medium-sized bowl, combine the pork with the marinade ingredients. set aside.

cut the chilies in half and remove the seeds and slice them into thin shreds. with the flat of the knife or cleaver, crush the scallions and shred them.

heat a wok or large skillet until it is hot. add the oil, then the garlic, ginger, chili flakes, and salt and stir-fry for 10 seconds. then add the pork and continue to stir-fry for 1 minute. now add the chilies and scallions, stir-fry for 1 minute, and add the sauce ingredients.

continue to stir-fry for 2 minutes or until all the liquid has evaporated. serve at once.

also starring, in our garden:
hopeful big boys
hopeful bigboy tomatoes
sampaguita
fragrant sampaguita pot from sis-in-law#2

Chiboust cream

by popular demand, the cream filling for the previous cream puff recipe is here…

i googled for a published version but instead found out that this pasty cream filling is considered one of the most challenging tasks that a pastry chef has to master, especially if it is to be lightened with Italian meringue .

i didn’t think it was too hard with the whipped cream version, (Italian meringue is indeed very daunting, but not impossible). i found that it just takes a lot of washing up after, due to the multiple bowls and spatulas and whisks and pastry bag (you could use disposable) and tip you need to use.

baked as a tribute to the patron saint of pastry chefs, St. Honore, i am planning to BUY the eponymous Gateau, one of these days…this recipe is from The Pie and Pastry Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum.

1 & 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 & 1/2 cups milk
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 Tahitian vanilla bean + 1/2 Madagascar vanilla bean, each split lengthwise (OR use just Madagascar, or 1 tbsp. premium quality vanilla extract)

4 large egg yolks
2 tbsps. cornstarch
2 tsps. gelatin (powdered, “Knox”)
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract (omit if using vanilla extract, see above)
2 tbsps. Grand Marnier (i used 2 tsps.)

pour the cream into a mixing bowl; cover and refrigerate it.
in a medium heavy saucepan, scald the milk, cover, and keep it hot over very low heat. in a mixer bowl, place the sugar and vanilla beans and, using your fingers, rub the seeds into the sugar. add the vanilla pods to the cream. add the yolks to the sugar and, preferably with the whisk beater, beat the yolks and sugar until well blended. add the cornstarch and gelatin and beat until well blended. gradually beat in the hot milk.

return the yolk mixture to the saucepan and bring it to a boil, stirring constantly with a whisk, reaching well into the bottom edges of the pan. as soon as the mixture comes to a boil, it will become vey thick. reduce the heat and simmer for 1 minute, stirring constantly with the whisk. remove the pan from the heat, whisk in the vanilla and Grand Marnier, and pour the mixture into a bowl. press a piece of greased plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the mixture to prevent a skin from forming. allow it to cool completely at room temperature or refrigerated. (you can speed cooling by placing the bowl in the freezer for about 30 minutes, but to prevent stiffening around the sides, transfer to a glass or plastic bowl if necessary, and stir gently 2 or 3 times.) when the pastry cream is cool, set it aside briefly at room temperature while whipping the cream.
remove the vanilla pods from the cream (rinse and dry and save it for another use). whip the cream until stiff peaks form when the beater ir raised. using a large whisk or rubber spatula, fold it into the cooled pastry cream. use it at once or cover and chill.
can be stored in the refrigerator up to three days.
whipped cream+pastry cream=Chiboust cream

for the pate a choux, click here, or use your favorite. Beranbaum adds the step of letting the baked puffs cool slightly on racks then cutting slits to let the steam escape, then returning to the oven with the door slightly ajar (i cut the slits on the sides with the tip of a sharp little knife and used them to fill).
PICT0144
how it’s done at the franchise: a gargantuan cream filler

next time i make these (which is probably going to be sooner rather than later) i will be using one of these to fill the puffs:
bismarck.jpg
Bismarck tips
from the UltimateBakersTools.com, they’ve got a treasure trove of supplies for the earnest baker!

leftovers tart

on the road
back from the Baltimore and Washington DC road trip.

during the week, we had 95 degree days which made it more of a trek to explore the cities. good thing the kids were stoic and staunch walkers. parking in Baltimore was not so pricey, and the city is manageable in terms of navigating and touring. Washington DC however is for people of hardy constitution and well-muscled legs!

the strongest impression we carried away from both cities, and ever more noticeable as we get back in the Boston groove, is the politeness and civility of their drivers.

whereas here you will see drivers who go off on murderous aggression at slowing down for a yellow light, we encountered graciousness and hospitality. (except for cab drivers of course.) especially the driver of bus #1111 of the circulator for Georgetown. thank you sir! you waited for us at the bus stop as we huffed and puffed along M street. we are so jaded and cynical, it truly astonished us, that’s why i had my camera out to take your photo (shucks, i missed!) then waved goodbye endlessly as you went along your way….

then we had to plunge/splash/dive right into our sort-of-usual routine.

#1son is squeezing in all the available work hours he can get out of his work-study job at the University.
daughter has started her summer theater camp. #2son is jumping for joy now that he’s free for the rest of the summer (where he is “allowed” to be lazy :kitty: ). we are now in the midst of family week, wherein husband’s clan has their annual reunion, only this time, even more so: it is my in-laws 60th wedding anniversary!

so almost everyday this week we are hopping from house to house to restaurant to have dinner together at least, three generations, around 30 people. the young ‘uns also try to go out and sightsee. anything to spend time together and “bond”…they are almost all grown ups now (grandchildren’s ages range from 46 to 8!) and we are starting to meet new babies of the next generation, my dad- and ma-in-law’s great grandchildren.

i put together a strawberry cream tart from the leftover Chiboust cream and past-their-prime strawberries over a crunchy cookie tart crust, again from Rose Levy Beranbaum, intending to bring it to last night’s get-together.

it got confiscated, by #1son.

PICT0242

i have to always make doubles of whatever i am giving away, he says.
PICT0243

chocolate chip cookies to go…



finally we are home again.

after 11 some hours on the road, with stops for food and ga$oline and stretching here and there, and lots of traffic from New Jersey upwards…we are back in our little nest, giving our kitty cat a lot of extra hugs and kisses (he’s acting like we abandoned him you see: demanding our company while he eats, jumping into our laps which is so very unlike him, purring extra loud).

lots of sightseeing under our belts, lots of fast food calories imbibed (when kids are hungry, bellies just need to be filled, instantly!), lots of pictures taken. also tons of laundry to wash! so for now, a recipe of the other one of our “baon” take along snacks for the long journey.
i baked the cream puffs and these cookies to take on the road. i had to ration them! or else the kids would have been all chocolate beards and moustaches…good thing i have an abundant supply of towels and wipes in the minivan.
these are from the New York Times Dining section…the addition of coarse sea salt (as suggested by none other than Dorie Greenspan) is a stroke of genius. and with a pound and a quarter of dark chocolate, it’s most intoxicating.
chocolate chip cookie recipe from New York Times