Food

Ciderhouse Whiskey

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DSC_1446Alright, here is the first of the recipes and of course I start with booze!  This recipe I found on Saveur’s website.  I thought it sounded amazing and it was!  How can you go wrong with bourbon and cider?  I make a similar version that involves bourbon, cider, and sparkling wine — very festive.  Anyhoo, here’s what you’ll need:

  • 2 oz. bourbon
  • 1 oz. cider syrup
  • strip of lemon zest
  • ice

Combine bourbon and cider syrup over ice and stir.  Twist the lemon zest to release the lemon oil and drop into the drink.  Stir again and serve!

I think that drink is way to much for Mr. Jack O' Turtle.  Or maybe he's a frog.  I don't know
I think that drink is way to much for Mr. Jack O’ Turtle. Or maybe he’s a frog. I don’t know

Notes — Cider syrup is essentially some cider that has been really boiled down.  I started out with about 6 – 7 cups of cider and boiled it down to about a cup or a cup and a half.  It maybe filled the syrup dispenser shown in the pics to about 80%.  According to the recipe, you’ll need to boil it down gently for about 2 hours; mine took about 3. . . The bourbon that I used is from the Grand Traverse Distillery in Traverse City.  I had gone up there for a vacation just before the summer tourist season started.  I was absolutely floored by it!  This was one of the places that I had definitely wanted to visit while up north and I was not disappointed.  They only make some small batches and they only had a few bottles left when I was there.  Luckily I had picked up a bottle for me and one as a gift.  What’s nice is that they do their very best to use locally produced grains to make their spirits.  I believe that everything is Michigan made, except for the bourbon — I think they need to get the barley from out-of-state.  If I remember correctly, it is 70% corn, 20% rye, and 10% barley.  I was familiar with their high quality vodkas and now they are working on making a gin and rum as well.  I can’t wait to go back and see what else they’ve got and luckily they are building a tasting room in Novi, MI so I won’t have to drive up to Traverse City to get myself a taste!. . .

My handwriting is terrible.  But I do love my chalkboard pantry in the kitchen.
My handwriting is terrible. But I do love my chalkboard pantry in the kitchen.

Pumpkin Carving 2013

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Hey everybody!  Happy Halloween!  I just had my annual Pumpkin Carving this past weekend.  Sure it was cold and it did rain a little bit, but I think everyone had fun.  We even did it up a little bit and put some bales of hay around the fire pit so folks could carve and still stay warm.  And we did have a fire extinguisher on hand because having a bunch of dry straw next to an open flame isn’t exactly the safest thing to do.

How autumny!
How autumnal!

Folks brought some stuff to share like a nice rice salad and a yummy warm spinach dip.  We provided the pumpkins and made a big batch of chili.  I baked a whole bunch of stuff as well:

Gluten Free Pumpkin Cupcakes with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting

I haven't made these extra festive yet with my Halloween accoutrements
I haven’t made these extra festive yet with my Halloween accoutrements

Pepita Lavender Brittle

I love this stuff!
I love this stuff!

Savory Pumpkin Rugelach

Savory and sweet!
Savory and sweet!

Ciderhouse Whiskey (Saveur)

I am clearly not talented at making acceptable lemon twists.
I am clearly not talented at making acceptable lemon twists.

I also made a Harvest Spread, but that was from a mix (I know).  I’ll get the recipes up as soon as I can.  Well, maybe not the Brittle recipe because I have done a Lavender Pepita Croquant before and the recipe is very similar.  On a weird side note, apparently I am the country’s leading expert on Pepita Croquant.  I did a Google search to do some research and there I was — I took up the top three spots.  Weird and unexpected, but still kewl.  Anyhoo, keep an eye out for the recipes and be safe during the holiday!

Friday Foodie Funnies, ep. 7

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It’s Friday, Friday.  Gotta get down on Friday.  Fun fun fun fun fun fun.  Alright, enough of that horrible song.  It’s lucky number 7 for this episode!  And since this is the last Friday before Halloween, I thought this would be a fun one to post.

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Be safe everybody when you carve up your pumpkins!

Friday Foodie Funnies, ep. 6

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Happy Friday, everybody!  It’s Friday and that means two things:  1)  the weekend is almost upon us, and 2)  more foodie funnies are heading your way.  Now this one really rings true for me.  I’m glad that I’m not the only one!

I'm not like this at all.  Oh wait, yes I am.
I’m not like this at all. Oh wait, yes I am.

Have a safe weekend y’all!  And don’t forget to follow me on Facebook!

Hazelnut Pesto

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Alright, I know that I’ve posted a pesto recipe before.  But this one is different because I used hazelnuts!  Plus I fiddled with the ratios on this one to get a more standardized version.  If you’ve made a pesto before, you understand how easy making this can be.  But you also understand how important it is to use high quality ingredients.  If anything you use is of a lesser quality, you will definitely notice it.

DSC_1469

Now using hazelnuts in this recipe can be slightly problematic, since they do have those pesky husks on them (I am not sure that terminology is right).  It does take some effort to get those things off, but I think it’s worth it.  This recipe makes a big batch.  Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 3/4 c. hazelnuts
  • 5 c. fresh basil leaves, packed tight
  • 5-6 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 c. olive oil
  • juice and zest of 1/2 a lemon
  • 1 c. grated Parmesan
  • salt and pepper, to taste

1.  Roast the hazelnuts in either a preheated 350 degree F oven or in a pan over medium heat.  Roast them until they become fragrant and slightly browned.  Transfer them to a plate and cover with a light towel and allow them to cool.  While they are covered they can steam which helps release them from the husks.  Now rub the nuts with the towel to clean off husks and set aside.

DSC_1476

2.  In a food processor, place hazelnuts and pulse to chop for a few seconds.  Add the basil and pulse again.  Do the same when you add the garlic.

3.  With the food processor running. drizzle in the olive oil to combine.  Add the lemon and pulse for a few seconds.  Transfer to a serving bowl or storage container.  Stir in the Parmesan.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

Just a little shot of pesto!
Just a little shot of pesto!

Notes — I made a batch of Garlic Confit and added a little bit of the infused oil into the pesto.  I didn’t put too much because I just wanted a hint of the flavor.  Maybe I used a couple of tablespoons. . .  I like putting lemon in my pestos which most people don’t.  Maybe it makes it too much like a gremolata for folks.  I just like the brightness it adds, plus it helps keep everything green. . . Roasting hazelnuts is made more idiot-proof because of their husks.  The husks help protect the nuts from burning so even if you get a little charring on the husk, the nut may actually be just fine.

Friday Foodie Funnies, ep. 5

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Hey y’all!  I’ve had a weird week, and not in a good way.  I had a weird interview followed by back-to-back days of unrelated volleyball injuries.  Huzzah!  Well, watching this video made me feel better.  It is fall and if you remember my post from a couple of weeks back, it is time for Pumpkin-Spice everything!  This video shows how some people might feel about that.  And yes, I did post this on Facebook yesterday, but I liked it so much I wanted to share it here.

 

Friday Foodie Funnies, ep. 4

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Now it’s probably too late in the season for corn, but getting some fresh corn is absolutely amazing.  If you’re still in season, head down to your farmer’s/farmers market and get yourself some.  Here’s an old post of mine with a recipe for some corn on the grill.

I'm not 100% sure that I agree, but I do love fresh corn!
I’m not 100% sure that I agree, but I do love fresh corn!

And just a reminder for folks, these are just some images that I either find on the Interwebs or that have been sent to me.  So I do not own them and will gladly take them down if it becomes problematic.  Just don’t be jerks about it.  You know who you are.

I’m on Facebook, too!  Happy Friday, y’all!

Lemon Macarons

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Now I’ve done a lot of research on macaroons.  Alright, it’s not like I’ve done a dissertation on the topic but I’ve done comparisons on lots of different recipes.  And what I’ve found is that all the recipes are pretty much exactly the same.  Well, not exactly — they do differ on different flavorings and whatnot.  But since the base recipe is pretty simple and standard, you can get a little creative with flavorings.

I admit, this is not my best batch ever.  Guess I'm out of practice.
I admit, this is not my best batch ever. Guess I’m out of practice.

Of course, “lemon” isn’t exactly creative, but I had some lemons in the fridge already so that was an easy choice for me.  Plus, the zest won’t really change the moisture content of the ingredients.

But let me backtrack a little bit.  If you don’t know what macarons are, they are those really colorful, round, meringue-based, French cookies that looks so intimidating to make but really aren’t.  They have some specific requirements though.  Anyhoo, here’s what you’ll need. . .

Still, some turned out okay.
Still, some turned out okay.

For the cookies:

  • 3/4 c. almond flour
  • 1 c. powdered sugar
  • 2 egg whites
  • pinch of cream of tartar
  • 1/4 c. superfine sugar
  • zest of 1/2 lemon
  • yellow food coloring (optional)
  • lemon oil (optional)

1.  Line a sheet pan with parchment paper or a silicone mat.Sift together the almond flour and powdered sugar together twice.  Set aside.

2.  In the bowl of a mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, start to whip until foamy.  Then add the cream of tartar and whip until soft peaks.

3.  Once you get soft peaks, start gradually adding the superfine sugar with the mixer on low.  Then continue to whip on high after all the sugar has been incorporated until you get stiff peaks.  Add the food coloring and lemon oil (if using) and whip until combined.

4.  Add the zest and flour mixture in three batches, folding well each time.  Continue folding until the mixture is smooth and shiny.

5.  Transfer the mixture to a piping bag fitted with a 1/2-inch round tip.  Pipe into small circles, about 3/4 inches across.  Rap the pan on the counter to release any bubbles (I don’t think I did that hard enough this time).  Now let sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes.

6.  Bake in a preheated oven at 325 degrees F for 10 – 15 minutes, until the edges are slightly browned.  Cool for about 10 minutes on the pan, then peel off parchment and transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.  Set aside whilst you make the filling.

I like smaller macarons.  They're cute!
I like smaller macarons. They’re cute!

For the filling:

  • 8 oz. cream cheese
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • zest of 1/2 lemon
  • 1/4 c. superfine sugar
  • 1 t. vanilla

In the bowl of a mixer using the paddle attachment, combine the cream cheese, lemon juice, lemon zest, sugar, and vanilla.  Mix until smooth.

Assemble the cookies by matching up similarly sized cookies.  Spread a small amount of the filling on one of the matching pair and sandwich them together.  Serve immediately.

I found this on the interwebs (the website is in the bottom corner of the pic).  Hope the pic helps clear up any confusion.
I found this on the interwebs (the website is in the bottom corner of the pic). Hope the pic helps clear up any confusion.

Notes — I could not find the piping tip that I needed so these didn’t exactly look the way I wanted. . . Try not to diddle with them too much after you pipe them. . . Now I made a lot of filling for this (again, I had a brick of cream cheese available) — just cut it in half, or just make a double batch of cookies, or just use it to make a cheesecake, or schmear it on a bagel. . . I have read that you should age your egg whites.  Not sure why.  Haven’t done it before.  Maybe I’ll try that out just to see what differences there are. . . I’m also not sure you’ll need the cream of tartar, but whenever I make a meringue I always throw some in there. . .

Chocolate Caramel Bars

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I love these cookies.  Or bars.  Or whatever.  It’s not important what they are — I still love them.  These are one of the cookies that I like to make for parties, then someone always remarks that these are essentially fancy Twix bars.  I kinda get annoyed, until I taste one and remind myself that these really do taste like Twix, which isn’t a bad thing at all cuz Twix are awesome!  And these are even better (in my opinion); just give me the pan and a fork and I’ll be happy.

Caramel Bars 1

Now these are relatively simple to make.  There’s a shortbread base, a “caramel” filling, and a multi-chocolate topping.  Easy-Peezy!  Plus, this is easy to convert to a gluten-free recipe.  I have done a switch out with some coconut flour and everything tasted great!  Here’s what you need:

Caramel Bars 3

For the shortbread:

  • 2 1/4 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 c. superfine sugar
  • 3/4 c. unsalted butter

1.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Spray a 13×9 pan with cooking spray and line with parchment.

2.  In a large bowl, whisk together the flour and sugar to combine.  Using a pastry knife, cut in the butter until the mixture looks like fine sand.  Now work with your hands until the dough comes together.

3.  Press the dough into the pan and smooth it out with a spatula.  Dock the dough with a fork and bake for about 20 minutes, until lightly browned around the edges.

4.  Cool in the pan and set aside.

For the “caramel”:

  • 7 T. unsalted butter, diced
  • 1/2 c. brown sugar
  • 2 14-oz. cans sweetened condensed milk

1.  In a medium pan, place the butter, sugar, and condensed milk.  Heat on low until the sugar has dissolved.  Stirring constantly, bring the mixture to a boil.

2.  Reduce the heat to simmer, again stirring constantly for another 5-10 minutes.  The mixture is done when it has thickened and turned light brown in color.  Be careful not to burn.  Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.

3.  Pour the caramel over the shortbread base and smooth out with a spatula.  Cool completely and set aside.

For the topping:

  • 3 oz. dark chocolate
  • 3 oz. milk chocolate
  • 3 oz. white chocolate

1.  Melt each chocolate in separate heat proof bowls.  You can do this in a microwave or over a double boiler.

2.  Spoon the chocolate in an alternating pattern.  Using a toothpick or a skewer, swirl the chocolate to create a marbled pattern.   Chill until set.

3.  Slice and serve!

Caramel Bars 2

Notes — As you can see from the pictures, I did not take time to temper the chocolate.  They still tasted fine. . . I have a tendency to add too much chocolate for these because I just can’t help myself.  You could thin out and soften the chocolates by melting in a little bit of butter or shortening.  In theory, that should help with keeping the sheen of the chocolate.

#AskJamieOliver turned into ,”Hey, Jamie…how am I supposed to eat like that when I’m poor?”

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#AskJamieOliver turned into ,”Hey, Jamie…how am I supposed to eat like that when I’m poor?”.

Just read this and it touches on the intersection of the issues of poverty and food / nutrition.  Will reading this solve the issue?  No, but I would like to think that this would help folks better understand the plight of poverty.  Please give it a read.  Maybe it will inspire some action.