Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year!

Nothing keeps the champagne frosty like a soup pot full of snow.
Have fun and stay safe. Well, reasonably safe. :)

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Ham and Corn Quiche

3 eggs
1 1/2 cup of whipping heavy cream
1/2 tsp of salt
1/4 tsp of pepper
1/2 cup diced ham
1/4 cup corn

Whisk everything together.

for the crust

1 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup olive oil or canola oil
1/4 cup ice water (I use refrigerated water)

Mix flour and salt. Beat oil and water with whisk or fork to thicken. Pour into flour and mix with fork. Press into 9" pie crust. Fill with quiche mixture and bake at 400F until done.


Ok, this was my very first time making a quiche. And I re-learned a valuable lesson. Just because something gets good reviews on the internet doesn't mean it will be good to eat. This crust sucked. I hate to be so harsh, but it really did. It just tasted like olive oil and made the whole quiche taste funny and greasy and was wicked squishy. Not what I was looking for at all. If I had replaced the olive oil with butter and prebaked it a bit it would have had some promise, but I think next time I might just make pie crust (what I was trying to avoid, for time reasons) and have done with it. It's also possible that I did something wrong, it sure wouldn't be the first time. Heh. I got the crust recipe from Recipezaar and it's the first time I've gotten something I didn't like from there. Oh well, it's bound to happen eventually. The egg part was good, but very soft. I seem to remember quiche being a little firmer. Next time I think I will cut the cream down and add another egg. But here is what I did anyway, you know, for educational purposes.

First I made the crust. Flour, salt and I also added some mustard powder and black pepper, but you couldn't taste it at all in the final product. Then I whisked together the water and oil till it looked, oddly enough, like egg. Mixed it all together and got a chunk of dough that was pretty easy to spread out into my tart pan. I finished off shaping it with a glass. Then I grabbed the cup and a half of cream. Shuddered a bit and added the salt, pepper and eggs. Then I realized there was no way I could whisk it in the measuring cup so I poured it into a bowl and whisked it in there. Added the ham and corn, mixed it around and poured it into the shell. Baked it at 400 for half an hour or so and there it was. Looked good, although I don't know if quiche is supposed to brown so much. The crust looked good, held it's shape well and didn't stick (gasp). But it made the whole thing taste like olive oil and pretty much nothing else. So I might try it again with butter instead of olive oil if I ever need a quiche wicked quickly, but next time I think I'm just going to make a pie crust. Or use phyllo. Spryte suggested over at Bakespace using slices of muenster cheese for the bottom. That sounds good too. I'll do one of those, and before too long.

Monday, December 29, 2008

I need advice!

I'm soon going to be in the market for a new digital camera and I don't have any idea what kind to get. I don't have a huge budget, but I'm going to save up for a bit so I can get something nice. Well, I'm going to try to save. Heh. I only need it for food photography, but I don't get very good light in my apartment so something that can compensate for that and get nice clear closeups is what I'm looking for. Any advice would be appreciated, thanks!

Friday, December 26, 2008

Stuffed Bread Braid Take 2 (apparently it's a stromboli): Better Instructions, Lesser results

So, I made another stuffed braid. In case the title didn't clue you in, it didn't come out quite as good as last time. Well, appearance wise anyway. It was wicked tasty, but not quite as... er, braidy. I think I know what happened though, so next time it should work out much better. The biggest problem, I think, was I rolled out the dough too thin. The first time I did this I floured my counter and rolled it out. When you use flour the dough springs back a bit, ensuring the dough is kind of thick. This isn't a good choice if you want a thin crust pizza. But for the braid it means the dough strips puff up more, closing it up and making it look lovely. The thin strips didn't puff much at all.

Now, you might be asking "how did you get the dough so thin anyway?" Well, I used olive oil instead of flour when I rolled it out. I saw Sara Moulton do it once on her PBS show. It makes the dough cling to the counter, instead of spring back like with flour. This makes it easier to work with, but thin. Like I said, great for pizza, less great for a braid. And the oil makes the dough not stick together quite so well. Which was the second problem. How about I just show you, I think that will work out better.

This time I decided to make a cold cut stuffed braid. It tasted really good fresh from the oven, but was actually best the next day, cold. When it was hot it was really juicy and sloppy. Which is fine, but kind of a pain. But after sitting overnight it was just a solid mass of deliciousness. The flavors mingled a bit, the juices got reabsorbed by the meats and it was just wicked good. Ok, first thing I did was oil my counter. Then I rolled out the dough. Spread a little Dijon mustard on there and started with the filling. Cheese first, I mentioned when I was making calzones and the last braid that you don't want the cheese on top. If you put it on top it oozes out the vent holes and makes a mess of things. So, the bottom or middle is best. Now some turkey, then roast beef, more cheese, ham and finally some salami. Yeah. That'll do. Now, braiding. Slice the dough into inch wide strips, leaving the end closest to the filling attached. Now fold each strip over the filling at a slight angle, alternating left and right. On top of the thin dough not puffing as much it also meant I couldn't stretch the strips as far over the filling, which added to the lack of coverage and visual appeal. If I could have tucked those ends in it would have worked much better.Close up the ends and it's good to go. Bake on a preheated pizza stone at 425 for 10-15 minutes or until golden brown. See what I meant about it not looking as braidy? Plus if you notice the ends kinda popped. One thing the oil did do is give it some nice flavor, but I don't think it was worth it. Plus you could get that by brushing it on right before it went into the oven, if you really think it needs more flavor. The finished product, while not as pretty as before, was still mad good. I mean, look at that. This would be great for a picnic or buffet. Slice it into two inch thick strips, maybe with some kind of dipping sauce. I was going to make some roasted garlic mayo to dip this one in, but kind of forgot. I also wish I had had a nice lager to have with it, that would have been perfect. Oh well, slightly less than perfect is still better than average. Heh.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Happy Holidays!

May you all enjoy the religious or secular celebration of your choice. I'm going to be pretty busy for the next couple of days, so I doubt I will be able to be on the computer much (but we shall see) But when I return I will be posting much better instructions on how to make a faux-braid, so that should be fun. I'll leave you all with a couple pictures of seasonal harmony, Noodles and the real Bob. Three months ago we never thought they would share the same space!This one is both of them sitting in my lap. It's crazy I tell you.Everyone stay safe and enjoy the holidays.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Steak Pizziaola

1 lb steak tips
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 - 1 tsp basil
1/2 - 1 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp thyme
1/4 cup minced onion
salt and pepper to taste
28 oz can crushed tomatoes (I used one seasoned with Italian Herbs)
1/2 cup frozen peas
1 cup red wine

Brown the onion in a medium pan, in a tbl of olive oil, then push it off to one side. Season steak with salt, pepper, basil, oregano and thyme. Sear it on both sides then remove it from the pan. Add the garlic and cook it till aromatic. Deglaze the pan with the wine. Reduce the wine to about a quarter cup then pour in the tomatoes. Put the steak back in and let simmer till tender. If the sauce starts to get too thick cover it. Once the steak is tender, add the peas and let cook for a couple minutes. Then either take out the steak, cut it up and add it back into the sauce or let people cut it on their plates. Serve over pasta.


So this recipe is adapted from one posted by Michele over at My Italian Grandmother. I've been meaning to make it for months and finally managed to recently. It is wicked good. I did it a bit different than she does, for one I had steak tips on hand so I used that instead of the little steaks she used. Which means mine took longer to get tender. Plus I added some onion and red wine, because I had some that wanted using. But either way it's made, I'm sure it's awesome.

First, I browned up some onions in a bunch of olive oil. More than they needed, really, but I figured the rest could be used to brown the tips. While the onion was going I pounded the tips a bit and seasoned them with basil, oregano, thyme, salt and pepper. Then I just pushed the browned onion off to the side and slapped the steak in there. Browned them up (stirring the onions every once in a while) then added the garlic. Once the garlic had the edge taken off of it, maybe 30 seconds, I pulled the steaks off and deglazed with some red wine. This one was a rather bland Shiraz, but reducing a cup of it to a quarter cup brought out some flavor. Once the wine was reduce I tossed in the tomatoes. I only had ones with Italian herbs already added, so that's what I used. Came out just fine. Then I just tossed the tips in and let them simmer for about an hour and a half, two hours. Then I turned off the heat, let them cool and tossed the whole deal in a container since I wasn't eating it that night. I just needed to cook the tips since I had defrosted them. But, the next day I whipped them out and poured them into a pot to reheat. Well, I tried to pour it. A bit thick, it was. Perhaps some friendly shaking would loosen it up? Nope. So I said screw it and just used a spoon. Promising though, I love a nice thick sauce. So I simmered it for about a half hour to make sure everything was hot then tossed in the peas. Mixed it up and served it over pasta. Here is a shot of the beef so you can see how pull apart tender it was. Good stuff kids. Sitting in the fridge overnight really let the flavors mingle. Some garlic bread would have been perfect with it to sop up any leftover sauce, maybe a glass or two of a nice red. You know, one with flavor. I actually recently had a Greg Norman Shiraz that would have been really good with this. Hmm, maybe I should discuss drink pairings with my recipes. What do you guys think?


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