Saturday, June 29, 2013
My husband has been telling me that he's tired of seeing that Olallieberry Dutch Baby on my blog, so today I will change the recipe! What?
Yes, there is a recipe in this post-- and please feel free to scroll past my personal update on why I've been absent. Here goes:
Many of my followers/readers/friends know that I underwent major surgery on June 11th. I had a total left knee replacement. I checked into the hospital, like a brave little soldier-- iPad fully charged, with all my iMagazines downloaded. I factored in that there would be pain involved. I wrapped my mind around there being a six-inch scar down the middle of my knee. I carefully interviewed three orthopedic surgeons, and chose the one who has the best reputation in town.
The surgery was a success. Technically. There were some definite hiccups. Like, my epidural went a bit awry, so when a team of physical therapists insisted I stand up on my new knee within four hours of surgery-- they couldn't grasp my desperate pleas for mercy. My right leg was so numb (from the epidural) that I could not will it to move. The pain! Oh, the pain!
I had no idea I was capable of the guttural screams that came out of my throat-- and I was not giving birth! Once the epidural was removed, and I was given mega doses of gnarly pain meds, I began the arduous work of trying to walk with my new knee. I threw up a lot, and food lost any hint of interest to me. I was discharged on Day #4. The ride home, in the car, wasn't pleasant at all. Getting out of the car was difficult-- as any movement to my knee made those screams come back. I'm not gonna lie-- this is a worse pain than anything I have ever experienced!
The Baking Sheet". There's a lot of vanilla in this recipe, and it's what makes the recipe work. The cookies have a combination of shortening and butter, oatmeal (for texture), brown sugar and white chocolate chips-- all pantry staples.
Sunday, June 9, 2013
Wikipedia, you'll see a photo that I took in my own backyard-- and that was **ahem**
To me, olallieberries taste like a cross between a blackberry, with a bit of tartness from a boysenberry, with a hint of raspberry. Their season is very short-- starting around June 1st and lasting only a few weeks.
Olallieberry jam, which my husband enjoys all year round. I also bake him, at least, one Olallieberry Pie. This makes him a very happy husband, and he deserves it.
Since our Olallieberry bush wasn't quite ready to present ripe berries to us, I thawed the last of the frozen ones (from last year) and macerated them with a little sugar-- only because when I tasted the berries, they made me pucker just a bit. I used only a generous tablespoon of sugar, and let the berries macerate for a few minutes.
I melted one tablespoon of butter, tossed in the macerated berries...
Monday, June 3, 2013
I realize, now, that I had a lot to learn...
I bought my husband a copy of this book, but I've spent some time reading each recipe and appreciating all the great step-by-step photos, as well. This book convinced us to invest in a Weber grill, and we have grown to love it. We did buy a new gas grill, on sale, last summer. The gas grill is convenient, when we want dinner in a hurry-- especially fish and shellfish. For us, the Weber grill has been our first choice when we want to create barbecue that mimics slow-cooking over oak wood. We've perfected Santa Maria Tri-Tip, Ribs, Pulled Pork and Brisket by using wood chips and our Weber grill.
I should rephrase that last sentence. It is my husband who has perfected the art of grilling with the Weber. I'm very proud of how this self-proclaimed non-cook has become one of my favorite cooks. He still leaves baking, and most everything else to me, and I'm not complaining one bit.
Once again, it is America's Test Kitchen's/Cook's Illustrated's recipe on how to make Smoked Grilled chicken that had me summoning my husband to watch the video. In past years, I've had brined turkey and chicken and I didn't care for the texture. My skepticism began to soften as I saw that this brine only needs 30 minutes, up to an hour. It made sense that a sugar/salt brine would help the chicken to retain moisture.
What I really thought made sense, is that this recipe uses a cut-up, whole chicken (bone-in, skin on). The genius idea is that the larger pieces would be placed on the grill, farthest away from the heat source, while the thighs could go closer to the heat. The thighs can take the heat, and wouldn't dry out-- hence the chicken would all cook at the same time! I halved the recipe, by buying one 3-pound chicken (instead of six pounds), and asked the butcher to "pretty please" cut it up for me.
I whisked one cup sugar and one cup salt in a 6-quart plastic bucket, with a lid (easily found at restaurant supply stores). Into the fridge it went for an hour.
NOTE: (If you own a gas grill, I will give America's Test Kitchen's adapted recipe on the printable recipe card at the bottom of this post.) While the chicken is brining, Craig fires up 3 quarts of briquettes and sets 2 quarts of unlit briquettes off to the side.
Once the briquettes are ready, he dumps them on top of the unlit briquettes (we are going for a low and slow grill here). Using a disposable aluminum pan, he pours in two cups of water. The water helps to stabilize the temperature, and helsp to create humidity, so that the chicken won't dry out-- as does the brining. The coals are ready in about 25 minutes or so.
Saturday, June 1, 2013
If you look at my Recipe Index, I have a variety of strawberry recipes. With the exception of Strawberry-Rhubarb Pie, I don't like to cook strawberries. I want to enjoy the firm and sweet juicy flavor of these summer berries. That's why I was intrigued that America's Test Kitchen developed a glaze that would help to hold fresh strawberries together. For our Memorial Day Barbecue, I decided that a fresh strawberry pie would be the perfect dessert.
I used Cook's Illustrated's Vodka-Based pie crust recipe. Vodka? Yes, that's right. You can't taste the alcohol, and it's safe to serve to children. Trust me. Here's what Cook's Illustrated has to say about the recipe they developed:
For a pie dough recipe that baked up tender and flaky and rolled out easily every time, we found a magic ingredient: vodka. Using vodka, which is just 60 percent water, gave us an easy-to-roll crust recipe with less gluten and no alcohol flavor, since the alcohol vaporizes in the oven.
We begin with a combination of butter and shortening. I use my food processor, but if you don't have one-- I grate frozen butter. It's a great little trick!
good rolling pin. The key to successful homemade pie crusts, is using cold ingredients. You don't want to overwork the dough, and you want to let the dough rest-- too much gluten = tough pie crust.
Once the butter and shortening are "cut" into the flour, a combination of cold vodka and water is added. The dough is folded together, until it clings.