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I was recently asked to “test” a Roaster Oven and review it for Cooking.com where I am one of the moderators. This roaster also had a the buffet server feature which is a value added to what I think is a great little appliance.

Roaster 1
Roaster 2

The 3 buffet server inserts will come in handy at a party

I have used the same method for making my turkeys for about 5 years now and I’ll never go back to the “traditional” way to roast a turkey. What makes it unconventional is that I roast it with the breast side DOWN. Our family isn’t the type to bring a turkey to the table all gussied up for the Norman Rockwell painting anyway. Taste is more important and once again, this method did not fail me in providing a moist, wonderfully-flavored turkey.

Roaster 6

First I put slices of cold butter in the pocket between skin & breast


Roaster 7

Pull the skin back to get inside the pocket

Roaster 9

I usually don’t stuff my turkey. I salt the interior of the bird and put a big apple inside the cavity. It gives it a nice flavor.
Roaster 10

I wait until the turkey is almost done and make the stuffing with juices from the actual turkey. It cooks while I slice and arrange the turkey on the platter.

I roasted my turkey at 300¬ļ for 4 hours (it was a 17 lb. turkey).

I hope you can see from the photograph just how moist this turkey was. This is a shot of breast, which is usually dry when I have it at other people’s homes. That was not the case here…

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Moist, flavorful breast meat

Roaster 14

Stick thermometer into thickest part of meat (avoid touching bone)

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Sliced meat ready to go onto a platter.

This is the roaster I reviewed. roaster

If you want a traditional looking turkey, you can still do it in the roaster but it will take a little longer to cook because you will have to baste it and unlike a conventional oven, you will lose a lot of heat by lifting the lid.

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Granny’s Dessert

Granny in the Kitchen

Granny in the Kitchen

Recently my Aunt Lucille (married to Dad’s brother, Frank) lent me some old family photos to scan for preservation. I was particularly intrigued by this one of my Granny standing in front of an old gas stove that looked amazingly like one I had just seen at the Salvation Army.

Beautiful gas stove

Beautiful gas stove

I am still kicking myself for pondering the purchase of it too long. Of course, it sat there for MONTHS and a few days after I spot it…someone buys it. Argghh! It was in pristine condition and I doubt I’ll ever see another one like it at that price.

Anyway, my Granny didn’t really cook that often for us. She had a small, one bedroom cottage and having the 5 of us over would have been difficult. But, there was one thing she made that I absolutely loved. It is one of those desserts that either you love it or hate it. My husband doesn’t care for it because he doesn’t like alcohol in a dessert (no Rum Cake for him!) but everyone else I’ve given it to says they love it.

Layered Dessert

Layered Dessert

This is a photo of a hastily prepared version of this (it really “does” look better than this…no, really!). My parents were visiting last weekend and I wanted to make Dad his favorite. His memory is failing him now and I want to use every opportunity to stimulate his senses to try and keep him here with me while I can. It’s sad but a fact I’m learning to cope with. I’m hoping the horrible disease that’s robbing him of his memory will be rare someday in the future.

Since it was a busy day of shopping, I scrambled to put this recipe together quickly. Normally I would take my time to prepare this but this will give you an idea of what it should look like. Next time I make it, I’ll have more time and I’ll replace this photo! Ha!

GRANNY’S LAYERED DESSERT (called Ante)

1 day (or at least a couple of hours) in advance, prepare a simple syrup by taking 1 cup of white sugar and 1 cup water. Bring to a boil over medium high heat and reduce heat to a simmer. Simmer until reduced by 1/2. Take off heat and add a few cinnamon sticks while it is still hot. Cover and set aside so the cinnamon has a chance to infuse into the syrup.

Ingredients:
One 1 lb. frozen Sara Lee Pound Cake (Granny also could use Ladyfingers if she had them)
1 large package vanilla instant pudding
Milk
1/4 c. Sherry
Cinnamon
Walnuts
Raisins

First, make your syrup. Set your pound cake out to thaw, per instructions (obviously, fresh pound cake can be used but the denseness of the Sara Lee cake makes it better in my opinion.)

Make pudding according to instructions (make it according to the instruction for PIES, which is a thicker consistency). With a serrated knife, cut the pound cake into thirds horizontally.

Get a plate with a rim on it and pour several Tablespoons of syrup on the plate and a capful of Sherry (approx 1 TBSP or to your taste). Stir to blend and take the bottom 1/3 of the pound cake and place on syrup-laden plate. Use a spoon to get the syrup over the pound cake until it is mostly absorbed. USING A WIDE PANCAKE TURNER, lift the syrup-soaked cake to your serving platter (which should ALSO have a rim). Take 1/3 the pudding mixture and spoon gently over the cake layer so that it gently runs down the side. Sprinkle some cinnamon on that layer and sprinkle with crushed walnuts and raisins (as many as you like). Take the 2nd middle section of the pound cake and repeat the syrup procedure. Again, spoon 1/3 pudding over the cake. Again, sprinkle cinnamon, walnuts and raisins.

Take the last layer of cake and once again, repeat procedure above. Pour the remaining pudding over the whole thing and sprinkle with cinnamon and crushed walnuts.

Refrigerate until serving.

Granny used to whip up a meringue and dollop it on top. I prefer to used whipped topping as a garnish. I usually will pipe whipped cream around the base right before serving…

I hope the length of the instructions don’t intimidate you. I try to be thorough in my instructions because Granny didn’t really write anything down. It was one of those verbal recipes, handed down from generation to generation. I hope you enjoy it!

Raspberry sliceI love this time of year and the beautiful berries and fresh produce choices. The garden is coming along nicely and I’ll have some zucchini soon to share with friends and family (love those zucchini blossoms, too!).

I am a moderator on the Cooking.com website and encourage you to check out our forum for the members. There are some delicious tried and true recipes there and lot of camaraderie amongst the members as they encourage, advise and share recipes with one another.

I recently saw a posting by one of our members (Ms. Frannie) where she told us about a Raspberry Buttermilk cake that she’d tried. (Recipe came from June 2009 Gourmet Magazine:
click—>>> here)

I don’t usually have either raspberries OR buttermilk on hand but just happened to have buttermilk to make Ranch Dressing. I bought some beautiful raspberries and decided to try making this last night. Wow, it was great! This is one of those that you want to eat while it is hot out of the oven. It is like a coffee cake with a slightly crunchy sugar topping. Loved it! I will be adding this to the recipe book!

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I added a little less raspberries than the recipe called for…
Raspberry 2
Raspberry 4

On a healthier note, I’m wondering if I eat carrots & raisins and add sugar and mayo, have I wiped out all the benefits? ūüôā

I recently had some extra carrots and had a craving for Carrot & Raisin salad. I found a recipe on the internet and made a few adjustments.

2 cups finely shredded carrots
1/3 cup raisins
1 cup drained crushed pineapple or pineapple tidbits
1/3 cup mayonaise
1 TBSP lemon juice
1/4 tsp salt
1 TBSP sugar

Mix mayo with lemon juice, salt and sugar. Add raisins and let sit in the refrigerator about a half hour. Toss carrots with pineapple and add raisin mayo mixture. This is even better if marinated overnight!

Here is the result:

Carrot Raisin Salad

I wish you had Smell-a-Vision!  Yum!

I wish you had Smell-a-Vision! Yum!

The May Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Linda of make life sweeter! and Courtney of Coco Cooks. They chose Apple Strudel from the recipe book Kaffeehaus: Exquisite Desserts from the Classic Cafés of Vienna, Budapest and Prague by Rick Rodgers.

At last, my German husband gets to taste homemade strudel. It only took 13 years of marriage and the Daring Bakers to get me to try it! ūüôā He has fond memories of his grandfather Ernst, making strudel on the kitchen table. Recently I was going through some of his family photos and ran across this picture of my husband’s grandfather making strudel. He was being assisted by his daughter-in-law Mary.

Mary Schmidt and Ernst Schmidt making strudel

Mary Schmidt and Ernst Schmidt making strudel

Of course, you can’t blame me for being intimidated on what sounds like a complicated procedure. After trying it though, I’m wondering why I didn’t give it a shot sooner. This was a very easy recipe to follow and the dough was a breeze to work with. See below for the photos.

First make fresh bread crumbs

First make fresh bread crumbs


4 slices makes 2 cups breadcrumbs

4 slices makes 2 cups breadcrumbs


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Time to toast the breadcrumbs

Time to toast the breadcrumbs


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Knead a few minutes, until smooth.

Knead a few minutes, until smooth.


It's easy to stretch the dough

It's easy to stretch the dough


It should be almost transparent

It should be almost transparent


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Sprinkle breadcrumbs evenly over dough

Sprinkle breadcrumbs evenly over dough


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DB 2009 May 034

All in all, this was an easy thing to make and I’ll definitely be trying out some savory fillings as well as some apple and pineapple fillings. Thanks for such a great challenge! LOVED it!

The recipe for the dough and the original Apple Strudel can be found here

I made my own filling of:

3 cups thinly sliced peaches
1 tsp cinnamon
2 TBSP sugar
2 TBSP flour

Mix together and let set while stretching your dough. Note: I also brushed melted butter on my strudel halfway through the cooking time. The crust was very tender and flaky.

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In November, I joined the “Daring Bakers” which is a great group of talented people who all agree to tackle a baking project and we are all supposed to post at the same time. I already thought I was crazy tackling this during the holidays, but that’s the way I am…more things to do? Hey, pile it on! Ha!

Then, life has a way of getting in the way and my Aunt(my Mom’s twin), whom I love dearly, was faced with some life-threatening health issues in which she needed my help. She never had any children and I gladly stepped in to help with the transportation to and from the hospital, preparing meals for my guests who came along to wait in the hospital as well as several trips to her home, 100 miles away. It was draining, to say the least and our holiday celebrations were pretty much non-existent (except for the wonderful surprise party my dear husband and friends threw for me…but that’s another story). My aunt is much better now and we only have a few more non-critical surgeries to go, and things should get back to normal. Thank God!

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This month’s challenge is brought to us by Karen of Bake My Day and Zorra of 1x umruehren bitte aka Kochtopf. They have chosen Tuiles from The Chocolate Book by Ang√©lique Schmeink and Nougatine and Chocolate Tuiles from Michel Roux.

The recipe was pretty easy, in my opinion. I wracked my brain to think of something that was going to be fun and yet relevant. Then it dawned on me that January is Inaugural month and we’ve seen an unprecendented level of patriotism and pride. What would be better than to make some little flags that appeared to be flying in the wind?

I needed to get a head start and get my sugar infused with vanilla. Luckily, I had already purchased some vanilla beans to make Creme Brulee. I was pleased with the strength of the sugar after it had been “curing” for over a week. The smell is wonderful!

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The amount of butter is so small, that I didn’t even get my blender out. I let it come to room temperature naturally and just beat it with a fork. The consistency was like that of cake frosting.
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The rest of the process was pretty straightforward. I finally got the chance to use some of my new gadgets (my scale and egg separator), so that was fun!
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I’d found the waving flag that I wanted to re-create, so I cut my stencil out of cardboard and spread the chilled batter in the slot. It was imperative that I keep a close eye on them, because I didn’t want the brown edges on mine that usually are found with tuiles. I had other plans for them.
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The last step in this was to make my tapioca pudding (from scratch) and I’d have my patriotic dessert!

Here’s the finished product:

final

Here’s the recipe (for those of you who DARE!):

1/4 cup of softened butter
1/2 cup of sifted powdered sugar
1/2 cup of sifted all purpose flour
2 large egg whites
dash of vanilla

Using a hand whisk or a stand mixer fitted with the paddle (low speed) and cream butter, sugar and vanilla to a paste. Keep stirring while you gradually add the egg whites. Continue to add the flour in small batches and stir to achieve a homogeneous and smooth batter/paste. Be careful to not overmix.

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes to firm up. (This batter will keep in the fridge for up to a week, take it out 30 minutes before you plan to use it).

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or use a silicone liner (like Silpat) and chill in the fridge for at least 15 minutes. This will help spread the batter more easily if using a stencil/cardboard template such as the butterfly. Press the stencil on the bakingsheet and use an off sided spatula to spread batter. Leave some room in between your shapes. I only baked 3 at a time so I could work on forming the cookie over a metal rod that I had prepped.

Bake in a preheated 350¬ļ oven until the edges start to turn brown. Remove the tuiles and work to shape them into your form quickly before they start to harden.

That’s it! I also made some in a cone shape but I’m still debating on what to fill them with. I’m sure they’ll be yummy though!

Thanks for being patient (all my subscribers). I’ve got lots of ideas for my next posts and of course, I’ll be bringing you the monthly challenges from Daring Bakers!

fisher_house_i

Hi All! Most of us are all busy getting ready for a scrumptious Thanksgiving dinner and here in San Diego, we have families from all over the country in our midst who, unfortunately, are not so lucky. They are at their loved ones bedside as they assist them in recovering from sometimes devastating injuries suffered during the war in Iraq.

I need a means to get the word out about an idea that my friends and I are working on. These families of military members who were injured and being treated at Naval Medical Center Balboa here in San Diego are someone that we want to help and thought, MAYBE YOU DO TOO? They are staying at a facility called Fisher House. Much like the concept of the Ronald McDonald house, these families have a free place to stay while their injured family member receives treatment for their injuries. See the website which describes this service in more detail Fisher House

Julie (SanDiegoTravelTips) and Caron (SanDiegoFoodStuff) are going to help coordinate getting our San Diego Food Blogging friends to help provide a “touch of home” for them during this holiday season.

So, if you are in San Diego and would like to help, please contact me (or Julie or Caron) by leaving a comment. We need enough cookies or cupcakes or baked goods to feed about 30-35 people (that would be 2 platters of at least 18 cookies on each platter, dish, bowl, etc.). I spoke to a lovely lady named Belle who is the manager there. She said they are at full capacity and there are 2 separate houses, so that is why I would need them separated onto two different platters. Please put in a container that you don’t want back. She said that because it is a Naval Hospital that civilians can access it with a valid Drivers License. Let me know if you will participate so we can spread it out during the holidays.

I am leaving town to go tend to a sick Aunt and will be in touch via laptop. We want to continue this through the holidays, so THANK YOU San Diegans for helping out!!!!

Special thanks to these nice bloggers who’ve already offered their help:
Rayrena
Kellypea
BDC_Sharon
PinchMySalt
VeganEasy
RecipeGirl
RockStarJen

I wanted to write about one of my¬†NEW favorite things and an old, OLD favorite that I’ve been a fan of since I was in elementary school.

The first one is Peppadews (not PepPERdews!).¬† I was introduced to these by my good friend Caron (does it seem like I always mention her?¬† Well…she¬†IS a WEALTH of knowledge! www.sandiegofoodstuff.com ).¬† A few weeks ago we went on a “tour” of our local commissary.¬† It is the largest commissary in the “world” according to published reports and after walking around this monstrosity, I took Caron home and she offered to fix us some lunch.¬†

It was a delicious pasta that she came up with that had toasted pinenuts, marinated olives (maybe kalimatas?) and feta cheese but the real wonderful flavor came from the Peppadews she diced up and threw in there.  OMG! It was so good!!!  Normally I would have been polite and only had the first serving but when she asked if I wanted more, I was shameless and said YES!

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I think it was the next day that I made the trip down to Whole Foods Market (¬†http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/) where I asked about the Peppadews.¬† The young man behind the counter showed me these golden variety and asked if I wanted those or the ones in the “Olive Bar”.¬† The ones Caron gave me were red and the ones in the case were a golden color.¬† I had a puzzled look on my face and he asked if I wanted to sample one.¬† But OF COURSE!¬† It was divine!¬† So I bought a small container of them (they are over $11 a pound!) and then went to the salad bar and bought some red ones so I could do a side-by-side comparison.¬† The verdict:¬† BOTH delicious, with the yellow ones being slightly sweeter in taste.¬† I haven’t yet tried them stuffed with goat cheese like Caron said to do, but I will soon!

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So far, there’s not much information on them¬†yet on the web¬†but I did find out the OFFICIAL Peppadew is only sold and distributed¬†by the company that discovered them.¬† (http://www.peppadewusa.com/)

¬†The seeds are not sold (for those of you who want to grow your own) and it seems they are almost impossible to get…but I did see that if you¬†scour the ‘net, there are¬†people who have defied this company’s right to hold an exclusive to this product. These¬†passionate rebels¬†purport they are¬†only asking for small¬†amounts to cover handling costs and shipping¬†and seem to want to just share this fruit they’ve come to love.¬† I’ve also¬†read some other forums and posts where people are confusing them with the Sweet Red Pepper which is about the same color and size.¬† I’ve had those too and while they are good, they just don’t seem to¬†compare to Peppadews in my opinion.

Pomegranates

Some friends of ours live in a house with a beautiful, country-like setting near a¬†winding road on which they take nice, long walks (hikes, really…).¬† Near them are 4 neighbors that have pomegranate trees growing in their yard.¬† I mentioned recently that I love them and they told me about these trees just sitting there brimming with fruit.¬† They said in years past that most of it just falls and lies rotting on the ground.¬† So, during one of their evening walks, my girlfriend went and knocked on a neighbors door and asked if they could pick some for me.¬† The old man that answered said “OK, but just one!¬† They are not ripe yet!”¬† It was nighttime and the tree had abundant fruit, so she actually picked two!¬† HA!¬† Well, he was right, they weren’t ripe yet, so I left them out on my counter about a week to ripen up and couldn’t wait to dig in and eat the first one.¬†

I realized as I was using my Nana’s method of removing the seeds from the pith, that not all of my followers may know the “SECRET” to removing pomegranate seeds.¬† So, here is the trick.¬† Get a big bowl of water and after cutting the pomegranate in half (just score it down both sides and pull…it will come apart without cutting the seeds), just place the pomegranate in the water and push the seeds out with your thumb.¬† The pith will float and the seeds will sink!¬† It’s easy!

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Note:¬† In what is becoming a strange coincidence, I am finishing this post the same day that Martha¬†Stewart¬†did a segment on Pomegranates.¬† That happened on my last post about cabbage rolls.¬† (you are entering the Twilight Zone…)¬† Anyway,¬†Martha demonstrated a GREAT method for removing pomegranate seeds.¬† She scored the pomegranate into quarters and turned it over face down (skin side up) in the palm of her cupped hand.¬† She then took a wooden spoon and whacked it hard on the pomegranate and most all of the seeds fell out into her hand and the bowl.¬† I’m going to have to try that the next time I get a pomegranate.¬†AND…maybe make this fantastic sounding drink they made.¬† Check it out –>>