Aunt Jemima You're No Friend Of Mine

>> Monday, June 30, 2008

1. pancakes!
2. maple syrup
3. raspberries
4. mango
5. pistachios

My daddy taught me that white Karo syrup makes a fine topping for pancakes, or white bread, but that's another story, and it's a good thing too. Otherwise I probably would have spent my formative years pancake-less. See we didn't have maple syrup. We had honey, and sorghum molasses, and of course the Karo. And then there was the "pancake syrup" that tasted like poo. I remember thinking that if I could just convince Mom to spring for the Aunt Jemima all would be right in my pancake eatin' world. Well, eventually she did, and it wasn't. It was still nasty, only I begged for it so I had to at least pretend to like it. Years later I was offered a ladle of "hot maple syrup" on a waffle at a hotel buffet. Ohmylordamercy. Enlightenment.

Speaking of Nirvana, I finally managed to mail Mimi's Haiku that Blog! prize off to her today (hope you enjoy it Mimi!). To St. Thomas. That's Virgin Island St. Thomas for those of you that are geographically impaired. I won't be jealous, I won't! Anyway, sharpen up your pencils, it's almost time to haiku Mimi's blog, and please, don't be a hater. I'm sure she'd rather be here in Phoenix. Where it's nice and warm. Yeah.


Daring Baker #7 Danish Braid

>> Sunday, June 29, 2008

This month's challenge, hosted by Kelly of Sass & Veracity and Ben of What's Cooking?, was a Danish Braid adapted from Sherry Yard's The Secrets of Baking. The recipe isn't too difficult, but it is a laminated yeast dough, and requires a lot of time waiting in between each step.

The recipe as given to us follows:


Makes 2-1/2 pounds dough

For the dough (Detrempe)
1 ounce fresh yeast or 1 tablespoon active dry yeast
1/2 cup whole milk
1/3 cup sugar
Zest of 1 orange, finely grated
3/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 vanilla bean, split and scraped
2 large eggs, chilled
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
3-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt

For the butter block (Beurrage)
1/2 pound (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour

Combine yeast and milk in the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and mix on low speed. Slowly add sugar, orange zest, cardamom, vanilla extract, vanilla seeds, eggs, and orange juice. Mix well. Change to the dough hook and add the salt with the flour, 1 cup at a time, increasing speed to medium as the flour is incorporated. Knead the dough for about 5 minutes, or until smooth. You may need to add a little more flour if it is sticky. Transfer dough to a lightly floured baking sheet and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Without a standing mixer: Combine yeast and milk in a bowl with a hand mixer on low speed or a whisk. Add sugar, orange zest, cardamom, vanilla extract, vanilla seeds, eggs, and orange juice and mix well. Sift flour and salt on your working surface and make a fountain. Make sure that the “walls” of your fountain are thick and even. Pour the liquid in the middle of the fountain. With your fingertips, mix the liquid and the flour starting from the middle of the fountain, slowly working towards the edges. When the ingredients have been incorporated start kneading the dough with the heel of your hands until it becomes smooth and easy to work with, around 5 to 7 minutes. You might need to add more flour if the dough is sticky.

1. Combine butter and flour in the bowl of a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and beat on medium speed for 1 minute. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and the paddle and then beat for 1 minute more, or until smooth and lump free. Set aside at room temperature.
2. After the detrempe has chilled 30 minutes, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Roll the dough into a rectangle approximately 18 x 13 inches and ¼ inch thick. The dough may be sticky, so keep dusting it lightly with flour. Spread the butter evenly over the center and right thirds of the dough. Fold the left edge of the detrempe to the right, covering half of the butter. Fold the right third of the rectangle over the center third. The first turn has now been completed. Mark the dough by poking it with your finger to keep track of your turns, or use a sticky and keep a tally. Place the dough on a baking sheet, wrap it in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
3. Place the dough lengthwise on a floured work surface. The open ends should be to your right and left. Roll the dough into another approximately 13 x 18 inch, ¼-inch-thick rectangle. Again, fold the left third of the rectangle over the center third and the right third over the center third. No additional butter will be added as it is already in the dough. The second turn has now been completed. Refrigerate the dough for 30 minutes.
4. Roll out, turn, and refrigerate the dough two more times, for a total of four single turns. Make sure you are keeping track of your turns. Refrigerate the dough after the final turn for at least 5 hours or overnight. The Danish dough is now ready to be used. If you will not be using the dough within 24 hours, freeze it. To do this, roll the dough out to about 1 inch in thickness, wrap tightly in plastic wrap, and freeze. Defrost the dough slowly in the refrigerator for easiest handling. Danish dough will keep in the freezer for up to 1 month.

Makes enough for 2 large braids

1 recipe Danish Dough
2 cups apple filling, jam, or preserves

For the egg wash: 1 large egg, plus 1 large egg yolk

1. Line a baking sheet with a silicone mat or parchment paper. On a lightly floured surface, roll the Danish Dough into a 15 x 20-inch rectangle, ¼ inch thick. If the dough seems elastic and shrinks back when rolled, let it rest for a few minutes, then roll again. Place the dough on the baking sheet.
2. Along one long side of the pastry make parallel, 5-inch-long cuts with a knife or rolling pastry wheel, each about 1 inch apart. Repeat on the opposite side, making sure to line up the cuts with those you’ve already made.
3. Spoon the filling you’ve chosen to fill your braid down the center of the rectangle. Starting with the top and bottom “flaps”, fold the top flap down over the filling to cover. Next, fold the bottom “flap” up to cover filling. This helps keep the braid neat and helps to hold in the filling. Now begin folding the cut side strips of dough over the filling, alternating first left, then right, left, right, until finished. Trim any excess dough and tuck in the ends.

Egg Wash
Whisk together the whole egg and yolk in a bowl and with a pastry brush, lightly coat the braid.

Proofing and Baking
1. Spray cooking oil (Pam…) onto a piece of plastic wrap, and place over the braid. Proof at room temperature or, if possible, in a controlled 90 degree F environment for about 2 hours, or until doubled in volume and light to the touch.
2. Near the end of proofing, preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Position a rack in the center of the oven.
3. Bake for 10 minutes, then rotate the pan so that the side of the braid previously in the back of the oven is now in the front. Lower the oven temperature to 350 degrees F, and bake about 15-20 minutes more, or until golden brown. Cool and serve the braid either still warm from the oven or at room temperature. The cooled braid can be wrapped airtight and stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 days, or freeze for 1 month.

I pretty much followed this exactly, with a few exceptions. He wanted cheeeeeeeese danish, so I made a cheese filling by mixing 1 package of cream cheese with one egg, 1/4 cup sugar, 1/4 cup flour and a bit of vanilla. For the milk in the dough I only had 2%, so that's what I used. For the egg wash I used a whole egg with a tablespoon or so of water rather than one egg plus one yolk because I didn't want to "waste" another egg. And lastly I used only 1/3 of the dough because there's just the two of us home today.

The results? Eh. It was good, we ate it. I'll try again with some fruit filling, I think the cheese filling was just a little too bland. Maybe a lemon/cheese filling would be nice, or some sour cherries.

There's a cool new way to check out all the Daring Baker posts. Shari of Whisk: A Food Blog put a very usefulreading list together at Bloglines. You can either read it there, or import it into your reader of choice. Check it out!


Grilled Tuna Salad

>> Thursday, June 26, 2008

1. slices of grilled albacore on salad with mango salsa
2. bread and cheese
3. panna cotta

Sometimes I get such a craving for something that it almost turns into obsession. Like panna cotta. Not that I'd ever actually had panna cotta before mind you. How does that happen? Or is it just me? Nevermind.

Panna cotta - essentially milk jello. Doesn't exactly sound craveable now does it? Oh but it is. It's every thing I hoped it would be. Smooth, cool, creamy, decadent and light all at the same time. I flavored it with vanilla bean and topped it with toasted coconut. When we ate it at home we topped it with sliced almonds and poured a little smidge of amaretto on top as well but because I ate this at work I didn't add the liquor - though lord knows only copious amounts of alcohol would sure make the day more bearable.


Chard Stuffed Pepper - Better Than You'd Think

>> Tuesday, June 24, 2008

1. chard stuffed pepper
2. garlic noodles
3. raspberries

This started out as a way to use up all the bits before the next shopping trip and ended up being a pretty good meal. I had a little chard so I chopped up the stems and sauteed them with some onion and garlic, when they were soft I added the leaves and stirred them around until they wilted. I stuffed it in a par-cooked pepper half and grilled it until it had some nice charred lines then plopped onto some pasta that I had tossed with some olive oil, slivered garlic and toasted pine nuts. After it cooled I threw some grated parmesan on top, packed it up, took it to work and I ate it. I loved it. People that don't have excessive affection for chard would probably like it too.


Gnocch Gnocch

>> Monday, June 23, 2008

Who's there? Leftover gnocchi that's who! Or what. Whatever.

We went to La Stalla so He could have his involtini di vitello and then make out with his plate. I like La Stalla, but I'm not in love with anything in particular so tonight, it was the gnocchi. Tomorrow, it will be the gnocchi. I added some bread, and a little container of peppered oil and packed it all up in my super cool aluminum lunchbox.

Oh! See that basil? From my basil plant. I know!


Introducing The Best Sandwich Ever!

>> Friday, June 20, 2008

1. the Best Sandwich Ever!
2. cherries (almost as predictable as my leftovers!)

The Best Sandwich Ever! is cream cheese, spicy sprouts, cucumbers, roasted red peppers and almonds on a croissant. You should try it. Know why? 'Cause it's the Best Sandwich Ever! that's why.


Taco Time!

>> Thursday, June 19, 2008

1. steak taco
2. pickled carrots
3. grilled onion and jalapeno
4. cherries

Leftover steak? Make a taco! Not sure what is more predictable: Me having leftovers or my making a taco. Anyway. Good. Very, very good.


Leftovers for Lunch. Again.

>> Tuesday, June 17, 2008

1. pasta salad
2. steak
3. cherries
4. tiny red bean filled cake

Honestly I love having leftovers for lunch - makes life just a little bit easier. I already know what I'm going to pack, and I already know it's going to be delicious. Win-win.


Even My Leftovers Have Leftovers

>> Monday, June 16, 2008

1. cold peanut noodles with pork
2. cherries
3. itty bitty cakey thingy

One of the things that's hard to get used to with the kids being gone is how much food to cook. I made the noodles out of the leftover vermicelli from making spring rolls to use the leftover pork from carnitas and the pork that was leftover from the day before that. Even my leftovers have leftovers! Not that it wasn't delicious. I diluted the leftover peanut sauce with a little soy and water and tossed the chilled noodles to coat then added some sliced pork and topped with mint and sriracha. I'd eat it again.



>> Sunday, June 15, 2008


As a 1930s wife, I am
Very Poor (Failure)

Take the test!

And as a 2000's wife? Probably more of the same, but as they say; Don't ask the question if you aren't sure you want to hear the answer.


A Big Lunch for a Hungry Woman

>> Thursday, June 12, 2008

1. spring rolls stuffed with rice noodles, carnitas, mint, and some radish sprouts
2. peanut sauce
3. White Rabbit candy
4. pistachios
5. tiny banana
6. cherries

Spring rolls are perfect for using up tiny bits of leftover things and super fast and easy to make. Not to mention perfect for getting peanut sauce from bowl to mouth. Oh, and economical too!

This big lunch was pretty healthy so I'm sending it over to Margot at Coffee & Vanilla for her monthly Wholesome Lunchbox event.


Let's Go Outback Last Night

>> Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Properly refrigerated leftovers always make for a happy lunch.


When Life Hands You Cherries

>> Tuesday, June 10, 2008

You eat cherries. Even if they were actually bought at a decent price rather than actually handed to you.

I'm in a bit of a transition around here. Those of you who actually know me (hi Mom!) probably know that the kids are gone for the summer. As much as I enjoy the down time it's always a little unsettling to have them gone. The worst part is that when they are gone I don't just miss them as they are, but as they were. Boy's sweet milky breath and soft curls and Boo's big belly man laugh and made up words. For some reason I don't think too much about the orthodontist appointments and stinky feet. Anyway, it's hard to know really what to do with myself without them here and it sometimes takes me a little while to fall into a rhythm. In the meantime, I will eat cherries and remember my babies.


A Big Ol' Bucket of Shrimp Cocktail

>> Friday, June 6, 2008

Here's a lunch bucket full of yummy Mexizona Shrimp Cocktail goodness. If you look closely you can see an avocado sitting nearby. I sliced it open and stirred it in right before I ate. Unfortunately I gave away half before I realized just how freakin' perfectly delicious it was or I would have eaten the whole thing. What you don't see is the top container full of tortilla chips, a salty crispy necessity though I think saltines are more traditional. I have a feeling we'll be eating a lot of this in the next few months.


Haiku that Blog! v1.02 And the Winner Is ...

And the winner of the second Haiku that Blog! is ...


Here's the haiku she wrote honoring Isolated Foodie.

the road to nowhere
leads to culinary bliss
the desert awaits

It looks great in italics, no?

Thanks to all the participants, and please try again next time when the spotlight shines on mimi.

cait at food*nerd
stacy & ali elattar
and cynthia a.
(if your name isn't linking to anything and you want it to be - let me know)

In other news:
Julie from Peanut Butter & Julie (and isn't that just about the cutest blog name you ever saw?) passed on the Arte y Pico award to me the other day. I have to believe it's based at least partly on my sparkling wit and perky bosoms. Or desperation. Either way the thought was lovely and I very much do appreciate it but there are a lot of rules that go along with this and well, I'm just a little too lazy to comply. But I really do appreciate it!

Also Katie the CupcakeRN recently asked me to describe myself in 6 words, this seems as good a time as any.


There! Now who wants to give me another award? Or be my new BFF? Or maybe make a Haiku that Blog! banner? Now -that- would nice...


It Isn' As Though I Haven't Been Eating

>> Wednesday, June 4, 2008

I think everyone knows I love hotdogs.

And I may have mentioned my feelings about Lee's.

And then there were the cupcakes. Acres and acres of red velvet and cream cheese frosting. All sold for a two day fundraiser. Okay, I ate one. And 17 cookies.

In between? Tacos. Agua Fresca. Tacos. Tacos. Agua Fresco. Tacos. It's an addiction.



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