Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Homemade Hot Fudge and Salty Caramel Peanut Sauce

Welcome all, to Tuesdays with Dorie, my on- line weekly baking club. This week's assignment was a very posh, very sleek chocolate ganache tart with a hidden layer of caramel and peanuts. It looked so rich, so elegant, so...well, uppity and much too fussy for a weeknight dessert. I'll make it sometime, say when my husband wants a promotion and we invite his boss for dinner, or if I ever cater the inaugaral ball, or if my buddy Martha Stewart ever decides to pop by on a Sunday evening. Other than that, a fancy ganache tart probably doesn't fit into my life's scenario any more than that black lace evening gown that's been hanging in my closet since 1998. Around here, it's got to be simple, unpretentious, and kid friendly. Amen. So staying somewhat true to my assignment, I mixed things up a bit with the sweeter cousin of ganache, hot fudge sauce and a salty caramel sauce with lots of crunchy peanuts. Now you're talking. It took about 15 minutes total to make both sauces and I've got loads or leftovers to enjoy all month. (I'm thinking of serving both sauces over angelfood cake with mixed berries for the Quiet Man's birthday on Friday.) Last night, over ice cream, we were over the moon. Over the moon, I tell you. It took every ounce of will power not to have them for breakfast for morning. So if you're feeling fancy, I suggest you whip up the ganache tart and I'll let you borrow my black lace evening gown and some 3/4 length black gloves. If you're just racing to get through the day and are just happy when your jeans don't have any holes in the knees, come on over. I'll get you a big dish of ice cream with hot fudge and salty caramel sauce. You'll be in good company.

Hot Fudge Sauce

Estimated Cost: $2.50 for about 1 and 1/2 cups

slightly adapated from Dorie Greenspan'

4 tablespoons butter

1 cup chocolate chips

3/4 cup cream

3 tablespoons light corn syrup or honey

2 tablespoons sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

In a medium microwaveable bowl, place butter and chocolate. Microwave in 30 second intervals, stirring in between, until melted. Meanwhile, combine cream, corn syrup, sugar and salt in small saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil and cook for one minute. Pour cream into chocolate in three additions, whisking until smooth. Serve immediately or store in fridge for up to three weeks.

Salty Caramel Peanut Sauce

slightly adapted from Dorie Greenspan

Estimated Cost: $1.25 for 1 cup (without peanuts)

1 cup sugar

3 tablespoons water

1 tablespoon corn syrup

3/4 cup cream

1 tablespoon butter

3/4 cup lightly salted dry roasted peanuts, optional

Place the sugar, water and cornsyrup in a medium heavy bottomed saucepan. Combine with a wooden spoon. Stop stirring and turn the heat on to medium. Cook until sugar melts into a deep caramel color, about 5-10 minutes. I like mine to be the color of an old penny. You can brush down the sides of the pan with a wet pastry brush but DON"T STIR. Reduce heat to low and add cream and butter. Stand back and watch out for splatters. When the splatters die down, stir sauce until smooth. Add nuts and serve immediately or store in fridge for about 1 week.

Next Up:

Pulled Pork Sandwiches on Wheat Rolls

Sunday, September 27, 2009

The Weekend Report

Hello Monday morning. How are ya?
Well, this weekend was full of all of life's goodness. It makes me smile just to think about it. I'm grinning. And it's Monday morning. (Those two things usually do not peacefully coexist.) But we've had a grand weekend over here.

Friday night, Sailor had a violin graduation concert in town. Henceforth, she will no longer use Suzuki book Three, but is officially a Book Four student, even though she's just about finished with Book Four too. But we'll have to wait for fall 2010 for that graduation. Here she is with the other graduates. And with her teacher, who just happens to be the greatest violin teacher a kid could ever ask for. And here's a 30 second very dark video for those of you have an extra 30 seconds on a Monday morning.

This weekend was also our town's fall festival, "Swiss Days" to honor the bright eyed pioneers who settled this sweet little valley village. The main thoroughfare is lined with colorful cows, painted by local residents in a show of support for the community. On Saturday morning, my little Sailor dressed in her official costume, purchased in Switzerland last fall, and got ready for the big parade. Here she is standing in front of our cow Lullabelle. And here she comes. And there she goes. West, for the record, had no interest in donning liederhausen just to be admired by the crowds. No, no. He preferred to collect candy along the parade route.

Back at home.... I switched over our summer decorations for Fall/Halloween. And if Halloween is coming, then I better keep working on Sailor's costume. She asked to be a Mary Engelbreit witch. What is a Mary Engelbreit witch? I don't have a picture; I'm just going with the idea of a cute little witchy-poo. This is my second witch dress in as many weeks. The first one looked like a scratchy Grapes or Wrath pionner witch dress. This is just the latest version.

On Saturday night, my sister and her family of six came into town for a visit. We ate grilled steak tacos. It would be my last dinner if I had to go before a firing squad. Hands down.

And on Sunday, Sailor sang in church, West gave a talk, the Quiet Man said a quiet prayer, and I played the piano.

So now it's Monday, and I can look back and smile. Because if I look forward, I have this little bit of chaos waiting for me. This is what the kid's were doing while I was sewing and decorating and humming contentedly. The call it "The Spooky Hallway." I call it disaster, but I think I can take the long way around the house for another week or two.

Be back tomorrow with

Tuesdays with Dorie

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Sweet and Sticky Chicken Wings

It's football season, don't you know. And I'm not complaining, even though I don't watch any football game very attentively, except maybe when this team plays. I do look up from time to time, when people are screaming. It's my version of catching the highlights. You get the good, the bad, and the ugly, if you only look up when people are screaming. Although, it really doesn't help when you are watching sports with the Quiet Man. He never screams at all, not for touchdowns, scary movies, scolding children, or even general emergencies even when there is blood and broken bones involved. My Dad, when there is any round object resembling a ball in the vincinity, can be heard for a hundred mile radius. "COME ON, REF! WHAT ARE YOU THINKING? AW, FOR PETE'S SAKE! JIMINY CHRISTMAS" That'll get my attention. And something else garners my full and complete attention- the foods associated with watching football games, like chili, nachoes, guacamole, and chicken wings. Ooh- and these chicken wings are soooo good. They take almost no time to prepare, are incredibly cheap, and are deliciously sticky and sweet. My little West loved them best of all, my messy bon savage. He already loves football, and something tells me he'll be more like my Dad and scream his little lungs out when he watches. And when he starts screaming, I'll come out of the kitchen and see what's happening. But then it's right back into the kitchen for me; that's where the chicken wings are.

Sweet and Sticky Chicken Wings
Estimated Cost: $3.50 for about 24
1 and 1/2 lbs. chicken wings
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 cup ketchup
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup cider vinegar
2 tabelspoons soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 teaspoon corn syrup, dissolved into 2 tablespoons cold water
Cut each wing into two pieces at the joint. Heat oil in heavy large pan until very hot. Add wings and fry, in batches if necessary, until nicely browned and cooked through (about 10 minutes); remove to plate. Reduce heat to medium. To same pot, add ketchup, brown sugar, vinegar, soy sauce, and crushed red pepper, and stir until smooth. Bring sauce to a thick boil. Add corn syrup and cook for one minute. Add wings to pot and coat thoroughly with sauce. Serve immediately.Up Next:
Pulled Pork Sandwiches on Wheat Rolls

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Time to Chill and Eat Blackberry Pufflets

I have a problem. It's this: whenever a recipe says "Let chill" for any length of time, be it long or short, I know that I won't obey. I can't acquiesce. I get antsy, rebellious, and resentful. I want what I want when I want what I want. You see, I just can't chill.
And maybe it is a metaphor for my life, too. I want what I want when I want what I want. I move forward with gusto. Even when chilling might be a better option. Even when the outcome would improve if I would just hang back a little and demonstrate some patience. But then again.....sometimes, when you ignore the rules and refuse to chill, it comes out just fine. Once in a while it even comes out divine.
Such was the case for today's TWD assignment for cottage cheese pufflets. A tender cottage cheese dough is patted down (chilled)-rolled out (chilled)-filled with jam (chilled) and baked. Adorable and supremely delicious baby-soft tartlets are the outcome. Nothing was lost for my impatience. They will warm the cockles of your heart, and quickly too if you don't chill. You must go here for the recipe, and you WILL want this recipe.
Follow it exactly, unless you don't want to. Move forward with gusto, and the reward will be sweet. Although, you might want to take a moment to relax when you bite in.
Mmmm. Blackberry Pufflets. And life, too. Chilling is optional.
Next Up:
Sweet and Sticky Chicken Wings for Football Games
PS Thanks to all my readers for the crossword help (see below). You're all smarter than I am. You guessed Rita Moreno, and you were right. You better believe I'll be asking for help again this week.

Friday, September 18, 2009

MMIX Fall Kick Off Dinner

It is Friday night and I feel pretty certain that I am the only red blooded American at home working on a cooking blog. All of my readers are beautiful, toney, and cool, so they are out at a night club, or a latest release movie, or a neighbor's BBQ. But not me. I'm home. The truth is, I really like it here. It's peaceful after a week that was mind-spinningly busy. Still I have my little to do list, even on a Friday night. It goes a little something like this: Number one: Begin to sew Sailor's Halloween Costume. She wants to be a Mary Engelbreit style witch this year. I think I can pull it off, that is if no one looks too closely at zipper or buttons. Number two: Read political philosophers Locke and Hobbes and prepare lecture plus something un-boring for this week's classes. Maybe I'll have my students draw a political cartoon. Number three: Finish reading Dracula for Cookie Bookie week, coming in October. Already finished Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde. Number four: Complete the Crossword puzzle. Today's has me stuck. For Pete's sake, does anybody know of a Puerto Rican born Oscar winner with six letters? Send help. And Number Five: Share Fall Kick Off Dinner with Dear Readers, who are all out having fun and won't be able to read this until Monday morning. But Monday will be just right, see, because Tuesday is the official first day of Fall. So go ahead and play all weekend, but don't forget to celebrate the start of a brand new season with this stellar menu. Fall: My windy, whirly, winsome favorite.
2009 Fall Kick Off Dinner Menu
Spinach Salad with Apples and Swiss and Mustard Vinaigrette
Buttermilk Mashed Potatoes
Cider and Maple Glazed Pork Chops with Sauteed Apples
Buttered Green Beans
Flaky Apple Turnovers (see previous post)
Money Saving Tips: This celebratory dinner makes use of common ingredients (Potatoes, onions, apples, pork chops, dried thyme), so the good news is that it's very affordable. To make it even cheaper, choose whatever firm apple you can find on sale at the market. Use apple juice in place of the cider, or swap out the maple syrup for honey. Spring mix or Romaine can stand in for the Spinach. It's all good.
Spinach Salad with Apples and Swiss and Mustard Vinaigrette
Estimated Cost: $4.50 for four servings
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
2 tablespoons Maple syrup
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1/2 of a 6 ounce bag baby spinach
1 apple, skin on, thinly sliced
2 ounces swiss cheese, chopped
2 tablespoons red onion thinly sliced
2 tablespoons thinly sliced almonds

In a small bowl, combine mustard, syrup, oil, and vinegar, whisking to blend. Add salt and pepper to taste. On four separate plates, layer spinach, apple slices, cheese, onion, and almonds. Drizzle with dressing just before serving.

Buttermilk Mashed Potatoes
Estimated Cost: $3.00 for four servings and leftovers
Notes: These tangy potatoes are so fantastic with the sweet cider pan juices.
3 lbs. russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 inch pieces
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup buttemilk
1/2 cup sour cream (low fat is fine)
2 tablespoons butter, plus more if desired
Place potaotes in large pot and cover with cold water. Add salt. Bring to a boil over medium high heat. Cook until tender, about ten minutes. Drain potatoes in colander discarding all water. Place potatoes back in same pan over low heat to dry out potatoes. Using hand masher, mash potatoes adding in buttermilk, sour cream, and butter. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Mash until smooth adding more milk or butter if needed. Dot the top of the potatoes with butter and put the lid on pan until serving time.
Cider and Maple Glazed Pork Chops with Sauteed Apples
Estimated Cost: $6.00 for four servings
1 tablespoon vegetable oil (plus 1 more tablespoon)
1 lb pork chops, boneless
2 tablespoons flour
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
2 large apples, peeled and thinly sliced
3/4 cup apple cider
1/4 cup maple syrup or honey
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
Heat large skillet over medium high heat. Preheat oil in skillet. Sprinkle chops with flour and about 1/2 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Cook chops for three minutes per side, or until nicely browned. Transfer to plate and cover to keep warm. To same skillet, add an additional tablespoon oil and onions. Cook until onions begin to soften, about five minutes. Add butter, thyme, and apples. Saute for about five minutes, or until softened and browned in some places. Pour in cider, maple, and vinegar. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer. Return chops to pan. Cook for five minutes, or until sauce is slightly thickened. To serve, arrange potatoes on plate and spoon pan juices over potatoes. Serve chops with apples atop.

UP Next:
Blackberry Jam Pufflet Cookies

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Have you ever seen an apple turnover?

If you were lucky enough to go to Scott Avenue Elementary School in Whittier, California, then you might have had Mr. Lentine for fourth grade. I did.
Mr. Lentine was the kind of teacher that brought out his guitar when math got boring. What fourth grader wouldn't rather sing "Froggie Went a Courtin" over reducing fractions? He was the kind who'd read Shel Silverstein poems after lunch with theatrical voices. He was the kind of teacher that helped my little brother Roy when he came to school crying because his hair was sticking up in the back. Mr. Lentine used his own back pocket comb to smooth down Roy's alfalfa hair. He was the kind of teacher who taught you how to square dance, draw aspen trees, shade geometric figures, and basically how to thrive. He'd probabably get in big trouble now for not pounding READING WRITING ARITHMETIC all day long. But I just adored him, and school too while I was under his tutiledge. One afternoon, while he strummed guitar as background music, our class thought up phrases with double meanings, like "Have you ever seen a horse fly?" or "Have you ever seen a star burst?" "Have you ever seen a donut box?" "Have you ever seen a high school dance?"
And I still remember the one that I thought of: "Have you ever seen an apple turnover?" I was so pleased with myself that day.
Which brings me to this week's assignment: Flaky Apple Turnovers for Tuesdays with Dorie. I'm pleased with myself again today, but Dorie should really get all the credit. These are truly stupendously delicious. They require a bit of work and a heap of patience, but the reward is well worth it in the end. The crust is flaky and slightly tart a perfect foil for the sweet cinnamon apples. I made a half batch and then made half sized tarts, by cutting circles from a teacup top. (Click here for the recipe.)Doesn't a little apple turnover just seem so timely for a bitty September after school snack? I wish I could bring a big tray to Mr. Lentine, as a thank you for a rich and meaningful 4th grade education. Some things you never forget. Some things can never really be over because they become a part of you.
Yep, I've seen an apple turnover.

How about a Fall Kick Off Dinner with these turnovers for dessert?
We'll be having cider and maple braised pork chops, buttermilk mashed potatoes, and spinach salad with sliced apples and swiss. Come on back all week for the recipes.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

How to Stay out of Trouble (plus unbelievable pizza)

Something to read! It's mine, and nobody's gonna tell me not to dogear!
I love Cooking Light. I've been reading it cover to cover for more than a decade. I always learn something relating to health, like this. Sometimes I can't even get past the cover before I start drooling.
Look at this pizza!
I had to make it.
It's superb-smoky and herby and cheesy. It's called "Our All Time Favorite Herbed-Cheese Pizza," but you can make one for your kids sans herbs and with plain pepperoni. Or even one for your husband with half pepperoni. I took mine just like Cooking Light recommended and I wouldn't have changed a thing.
I'm planning to make it every Friday night for the rest of my time on earth.
Click here for the recipe or borrow a copy from a friend or the library. Or better yet, go ahead and subscribe to the magazine to procure all the pleasures of ownership. Borrowing can get you into trouble. If it's yours, you can write on it. You can slop a little sauce on it. Go ahead-even dogear it.
Up Next:
Supremely Yummy Apple Turnovers

Thursday, September 10, 2009

I think... therefore I eat chocolate souffles....

Just under the wire on Tuesday night, I cranked out two petite chocolate souffles. (Click here for the recipe.) I really didn't feel like eating chocolate souffles, unless I could do it in my sleep, so I passed them onto my family. But soon everyone was groaning loudly in pleasure, and disturbing my rest I might add, so I shuffled out of bed to try some too. Ethereal, heavenly, sainted chocolate souffle! I had the feeling that I was finishing up a meal at a five star French restaurant, and not sitting in my cherry pie pajamas in my cozy (but messy) home kitchen. That is what good chocolate souffle will do to you, dear readers. It will fly you away from reality and straight into the streets of Paris.
And speaking of reality and fantasy, this evening I will be teaching a three hour class on the French philosopher Descartes. Descartes, by way of review, is the philosopher responsible for creating a proof for our very existence. "I think, therefore I am." In Latin, Cogito Ergo Sum.
Last year a student told me a joke about Descartes: Descartes was sitting in a Paris bistro. A waitress approached and asked if he would like some eggs. Descartes pondered for a moment, and then said "I think...NOT." And POOF. He disappeared.
And so when deciding if you should make this chocolate souffle today, think. And think again. Because if you think not, your very existence hangs in the balance. And what kind of existence would it be, really, without chocolate souffle?
Be back ASAP with that Cooking Light cover Pizza