Tuesday, September 30, 2008

My Kitchen, My World: Make-up Time

While I was on vacation, touring across the western US, I missed two of the countries from My Kitchen, My World: Lithuania and India. I did my best to catch up this past weekend, so here is what I created.


I must admit that I had to do some searching for the best of Lithuania cuisine. Typically, the choices are meat, beets, cabbage, rye bread, buckwheat, and eggs, a fairly standard eastern European-type diet. But one recipe stood out from the rest – Omelet with Cottage Cheese. Sometimes, when I make scrambled eggs, I’ll add some cottage cheese for texture and flavor, and since this was so similar I thought I would give it a try. After searching several grocery stores for dry cottage cheese (farmer’s cheese), to no avail, I just used regular cottage cheese, and it didn’t seem to make much difference. Because this bakes in the oven, it makes a quick meal, especially when paired with a salad and vegetable, so I will definitely make this a standard item.

Kiauðinienë su varðke

6 eggs
200 g (3/4 cup) dry cottage cheese
1/2 cup sour cream
50 g (4 tablespoons) butter
pinch of salt

Beat eggs with salt, add sour cream and cottage cheese. Mix well. Melt butter in a baking dish, pour egg mixture and bake in preheated oven at 325F/165C, for about 15—20 minutes.
Serve with chopped onion greens
or green salad. Also delicious for breakfast.


I’ve had some delicious Indian meals over the years, both in the US and Europe. My all-time favorite experience was at a restaurant in Frankfurt, Germany, where the owner chose the menu for our group, and we weren’t disappointed. Unlike most restaurants in the US, our dinner consisted of unique and very delicious items, and while I can’t remember all the details, I do remember it was a special meal.

Looking through the fridge, I decided to make a version of Tandoori Chicken, since I needed to use up some yogurt. I marinated chicken breasts for 24-hours in a yogurt spice mixture, then baked it in the oven (still no grill). The resulting chicken was very tender and had a lovely, spicy taste – not hot spicy but floral/fragrant spicy. (I’m eating the leftover piece tonight!) My recipe is based on the version below, except it was baked and not grilled.

Chicken Tandoori-style


Chicken Breasts


Diced onion

2 tbsp

Crushed Ginger

5 cloves

Crushed Garlic

2/3 cup

Plain Yogurt

1/4 cup

Lemon or Lime Juice

1/2 tsp


1 tsp

Chili Powder

1 tsp

Cumin Powder

1/4 tsp

Ground Cinnamon

1/4 tsp

Ground Cloves

2 tsp


1 tbsp


1/4 tsp

Garam Masala

1/4 tsp


1/4 tsp

Corn Starch

  • Remove skin from chicken parts. Make deep slashes in the meat with a sharp knife.
  • Mix all of the ingredients together to form a marinade. Blend it thoroughly and then pour into a leak-proof plastic bag. (I just used a bowl.)
  • Add the chicken pieces, squeeze air from the bag, and seal. Knead the bag to rub the marinade into the slashes. Place on a plate and refrigerate for 12 - 24 hours, turns the bag occasionally.
  • To cook, lift the pieces from the marinade and wipe off the excess
  • Grill/broil with a hot flame for about 5 minutes per side to seal in juices, then continue to cook over a lower flame until the meat is cooked through
  • Garnish with side of lettuce, sliced onion rings and lemon.

TWD: Torched, At Last

Years ago I bought I small butane torch in the hopes of making crème brûlées. It was relegated to the back of one of my kitchen drawers for lack of fuel.

A few years after that, while on vacation, I paid my usual visit to one of my favorite kitchen stores. I came upon a small container of butane that, in theory, would be able to fill my torch that was patiently waiting. The container, too, was hidden away in a cupboard.

About three years ago, I bought myself a Christmas gift – eight crème brûlée dishes. All but one remained in the original packaging.

Why, you might ask, since I had all the components for this dessert, the dessert was one of my favorites, and I made it everyday at the restaurant I worked in, would I still not have taken the plunge at home? Who can say?

But, that chapter of my baking life ended today, thanks to Mari of Mevrouw Cupcake. Mari’s selection for this week’s TWD was Dorie’s crème brûlée. After reading through the recipe, I decided to third it, and then I decided to ‘play around’ a bit. I infused the milk and cream mixture with star anise, letting it sit for an hour or so, then strained it and gently mixed it with the remaining ingredients.

While the basic recipe is very easy, I have to question the baking instructions. Yes, typically, this dessert is baked in a water bath, but Dorie’s recipe uses low heat for about an hour to create the same result. After an hour, though, my custard was still liquid, so I left it in for a longer time. Two hours, total. I think a good bit of it evaporated in that time, and perhaps I could have removed it earlier, but the description in the recipe and my actual custard didn’t jibe. I’m aware that recipes are not always foolproof and can have errors, so I would suggest an editorial revisit to this particular one to double check the baking time and temperature.

The end result was still a nice dessert, and I enjoyed the subtlety of the star anise. Since the torch is now operational, I plan on making crème brûlée again, probably using a different recipe for comparison.

Given that all the TWD bakers could personalize their desserts, it will be fun to see all the creative variations. Check it out!

Monday, September 29, 2008

Minestrone, My Way

Upon returning from vacation a few days ago, I knew I needed to counteract the days and days of sitting, eating, and driving (over 3000 miles), so I was happy to see that the latest issue of Everyday Food contained a customizable recipe for minestrone. The basic recipe is good on its own, but I like the idea of tweaking it to suit your tastes or to use what is in the pantry or refrigerator.

I replaced the cabbage with Swiss chard and added the garlic up front with the other aromatics. It turned out to be one of the tastiest minestrones I’ve eaten, and I get to enjoy it for lunch all week long.

To go with the soup, I sliced up some Black Olive Sourdough bread that I had purchased at the Sunday farmers market in Lincoln, Nebraska. Le Quartier Baking Company had a booth there, and they were displaying some delicious baked goods. I couldn’t resist this particular bread, because I love kalamata olives. The ingredients are nice and simple – flour, water, starter, olives, and sea salt. The bread has a nice tang and lasted nearly a week without loss of quality. It’s too bad I’m so far away now, but it will give me a chance to experiment again with my own starter.

Minestrone, Your Way

+ Replace green beans with 2 cups diced zucchini or summer squash.

+ Replace potato with 1 1/2 cups peeled, seeded, and cubed butternut squash.

+ As an extra vegetable, use 1 1/2 cups frozen peas (add to soup after 15 minutes of simmering in step 3).

Leafy Greens
Instead of cabbage, choose a small bunch of robust greens (add to soup after 15 minutes of simmering in step 3).

+ Kale (tough stems removed), thinly sliced

+ Escarole, trimmed and thinly sliced

+ Swiss chard, trimmed and thinly sliced

Instead of cannellini beans, try a 15-ounce can of another variety.

+ Kidney beans, rinsed and drained

+ Chickpeas, rinsed and drained

+ Pinto beans, rinsed and drained

First Published: October 2008, Everyday Food

Cakespy's Sweet 100

Ok, now that Megan has posted, I can feel free to share my list!

Cakespy’s Sweet 100

1) Copy this list into your site, including the instructions!
2) Bold all of the sweets you’ve eaten!
3) Cross out any of them that you’d never ever eat.
4) Consider anything that is not bold or crossed out your “To Do” List.

1. Red Velvet Cake
2. Princess Torte
3. Whoopie Pie
4. Apple Pie either topped or baked with sharp cheddar
5. Beignet
6. Baklava
7. Black and White Cookie
8. Seven Layer Bar (aka Magic Bar or Hello Dolly Bar)
9. Fried Fruit Pies (sometimes called hand pies)
10. Kringle
11. Just fried (still hot) doughnut
12. Scone with Clotted Cream
13. Betty, Grunt, Slump, Buckle, or Pandowdy
14. Halvah
15. Macarons
16. Banana Pudding with Nilla Wafers
17. Bubble Tea (with tapioca “pearls”)
18. Dixie Cup
19. Rice Krispie treats
20. Alfajores
21. Blondies
22. Croquembouche
23. Girl Scout Cookies
24. Moon Cake
25. Candy Apple
26. Baked Alaska
27. Brooklyn Egg Cream
28. Nanaimo Bar
29. Baba Au Rhum
30. King Cake
31. Sachertorte
32. Pavlova
33. Tres Leches Cake
34. Trifle
35. Shoofly Pie
36. Key Lime Pie (made with real key lime)
37. Panna Cotta
38. New York Cheesecake
39. Napoleon/Mille-Fueille
40. Russian Tea Cake/Mexican Wedding Cake
41. Anzac Biscuits
42. Pizzelle
43. Kolache
44. Buckeyes
45. Malasadas
46. Moon Pie
47. Dutch Baby
48. Boston Cream Pie
49. Homemade Chocolate Chip Cookies
50. Pralines
51. Gooey Butter Cake
52. Rusks
53. Daifuku
54. Green Tea Cake or Cookies
55. Cupcakes from a Cupcake Shop
56. Creme Brulee
57. Some Sort of Deep Fried Fair Food
58. Yellow Cake with Chocolate Frosting
59. Jelly Roll
60. Pop Tarts
61. Charlotte Russe
62. An “Upside Down” Dessert (pineapple upside down cake or tarte tatin)
63. Hummingbird Cake
64. Jell-O from a Mold
65. Black Forest Cake
66. Mock Apple Pie (Ritz Cracker Pie)
67. Kulfi
68. Linzer Torte
69. Churro
70. Stollen
71. Angel Food Cake
72. Mincemeat Pie
73. Concha
74. Opera Cake
75. Sfogliatelle/ Lobster Tail
76. Pain au Chocolat
77. A Piece of Gingerbread House
78. Cassata
79. Cannoli
80. Rainbow Cookies
81. Religieuse
82. Petits Fours
83. Chocolate Souffle
84. Bienenstich (Bee Sting Cake)
85. Rugelach
86. Hamenstashen
87. Homemade Marshmallows
88. Rigo Janci
89. Pie or Cake made with Candy Bar Flavors (Snickers Pie, Reeses Pie, etc)
90. Divinity
91. Coke or Cola cake
92. Gateau Basque
93. S’mores
94. Figgy Pudding
95. Bananas Foster or some other Flaming Dessert
96. Joe Froggers
97. Sables
98. Millionaire’s Shortbread
99. Animal Crackers
100. Basbousa

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Vegan/Gluten-free Daring Bakers

Having raced home from my vacation in time for the monthly Daring Bakers post, I guess it’s time I actually posted. Since I made this over two weeks ago, let’s see what I remember.

The challenge this month was chosen by Natalie of Gluten A Go Go, and co-host Shelly of Musings From the Fishbowl. We were tasked to make lavash and an accompanying dip/salsa/spread. The kicker was that all of it had to be vegan and/or gluten-free.

For the lavash, that meant substituting sugar for honey, which was easy. I divided my lavash dough into thirds, topping it with sesame seeds,

poppy seeds,

and cinnamon sugar.

For the dip, I found a recipe in Cooking Light for a Lima Bean/Fava Bean dip that was just divine, especially warm. It was a great complement for the lavash.

Lima Bean Dip (Salsa di Fagioli)

Fava beans are traditional in this hummus-like dip. Use them, if you find them, in place of the lima beans. Serve with raw vegetables for dipping.

1 pound frozen baby lima beans or fava beans
3 tablespoons sesame seeds, toasted
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 garlic clove

1. Cook beans in boiling water 10 minutes or until very tender. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup cooking liquid.

2. Place sesame seeds in a blender; process until finely ground. Add juice and remaining ingredients; process until blended. Add beans and 1/2 cup reserved liquid; process until almost smooth, scraping sides of blender occasionally.

Yield: 8 servings (serving size: about 1/4 cup)

I enjoyed this challenge because I could cross off another recipe from my BBA. I’ve made two-thirds of the recipes from this good book. I also felt this combination would make great party food.

Since I didn’t experience any issues with this challenge, my write-up is short and to the point. I am looking forward to the October challenge, and while I’m waiting, I will be checking out how the other zillion Daring Bakers did this month.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

BB: Cream of Wild Mushroom Soup

Our final Barefoot Blogger recipe for the month of September was Cream of Wild Mushroom Soup, selected by Chelle of Brown Eyed Baker. I love mushroom soup in any form, so I was looking forward to making this one. Because of time constraints this month (travel plans), I chose to make just half a recipe, and because cremini mushrooms are essentially baby portobello mushrooms, I used just creminis and shiitakes for the soup.

It’s a delicious and lovely soup. When my daughter comes home from school in December, I will definitely make it for her, and we can compare it to my usual cream of mushroom soup. Come to think of it, I should make that one again and write up a comparison. How about in October, when I’m back from vacation?

Thursday, September 18, 2008

BB: Apple Turnovers

This month’s Barefoot Bloggers Bonus Recipe was selected by Anne, of Anne Strawberry. How did Anne know that turnovers are one of my favorite desserts?

I happened to have puff pastry in the freezer – Trader Joe’s came out with a new product awhile back, so I’d been looking for a good excuse to use it. I decided to make just half the apple filling, and I’m certainly glad I did because even though I over-stuffed 4 turnovers, I still had at least half the filling left. (As a testamonial, the filling is delicious eaten raw, right out of the bowl.) These were definitely a hit. The orange component smacks you with scent and flavor.

While I might wish I’d made all 8 of them, I know full well that I would have eaten all 8 of them. But with puff pastry in the freezer and all of the remaining ingredients perpetually in my pantry, I can make them anytime. Great choice, Anne!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Road Trip to Nebraska

In past years I have managed to do at least one road trip per year, sometimes in the US, sometimes in Europe. The last one was June 2007 -- our annual trek to Ashland, Oregon, to indulge in food and Shakespeare. This summer, however, my daughter had to work all summer to save money for an upcoming college workshop in Hawaii in January. (Life is tough.) So, our annual summer road trip didn't happen, much to my dismay.

I suspect I need to audition a new traveling companion. Someone who likes road trips, sightseeing, food, live theater, museums, food, back roads, etc. I'm exhibiting Ashland withdrawal symptoms, so I intend to go next year even if it's by myself.

Earlier this year my older daughter got a new job and ended up relocating to Lincoln, Nebraska, which is a heck of a lot closer to California than central New Jersey, so I decided to plan my 2008 road trip to go and visit her and her family. The last time I saw my granddaughter she was just on the verge of crawling. She's 2 now and quite a character, I understand.

For companionship, I'm dragging along my 86 year old mother since it's unlikely she'll go to Nebraska on her own anytime soon. My mom hasn't done a road trip in the US in many years, so this time she'll see some geography that will be new to her. (We did circumnavigate the Iberian peninsula together several years ago, which is another story.)

So, tomorrow morning we head off on our big adventure to Lincoln. We have a packed itinerary already -- international quilt museum for me, art museum for my mother, and my daughter said they just discovered a really cool dairy farm about 20 minutes outside of town that we need to check out, so I am bringing my cheese-making books with me. On the return trip home, I added one extra day so I could go home via home -- Santa Fe & Albuquerque -- even if it was only for 24 hours. This should be a fun trip.

I've already made the two remaining Barefoot Blogger challenges (yummy ones they are, too), so I'm hoping the posts will show up at the appropriate times. TWD will have to await my return, and Daring Bakers, while finished, will be posted only slightly late. I just ran out of time for all the other challenges, so hopefully life will be a bit more normal in October.

I'll do my best to keep an eye on everyone and comment when I can and take oodles of photographs and try not to go into baking withdrawal.

Monday, September 15, 2008

TWD: Super Chocolate, Super Chunky Cookies

Once again, it is time for the Tuesday with Dorie bakers to gather and discuss this week’s recipe. Claudia, of Fool for Food, chose a very rich, over-the-top chocolate cookie this week: Chocolate Chunkers. Five kinds of chocolate went into these babies! Even halving the recipe, I ended up with 24 cookies and they are so powerful, eating one or two is the best one can do. The only substitution I made this week was to use currants instead of raisins. They added the fruity taste without overpowering the other ingredients.

The other interesting thing about these cookies is the end result. As I write this, I’ve already peeked at some early posts, and I swear not one of them looks like the others. Did we all use the same recipe? I’m always amazed by the diversity of the final cookie.

So, if you want a death-by-chocolate experience in cookie form, go to Claudia’s blog for the recipe, and then take a look at all the varieties out there in TWD blogland.

Note: I will be taking my overdue vacation this coming week, so there will be no post about the Dimply Plum Cake. I did happen to make it some months ago, and if you like plums, it’s a good recipe. I liked the cake part best.

Stinking Rose

Vampires don’t hang around long at this house. We are garlic lovers. Sometimes we fight for the cloves when they’ve been roasted with other vegetables. Carla, over at Chocolate Moosey, is this month’s hostess for the Weekend Cookbook Challenge (#32), and she chose her favorite – and ours, too – garlic -- as the challenge theme.

It seems like I’m blessed with garlic where ever I go. I lived in Tucson, Arizona, for a number of years, where one of the neighboring towns is called, Ajo. And, of course, now I live in California, home to Gilroy, the garlic capital of the world! I can even remember tasting Sopa de Ajo during a visit to Spain several years ago, so I decided to search for a garlic soup recipe. Looking through Food & Wine, I found a good candidate, Creamy Garlic Soup. It’s the simplest of recipes and perfect for a light dinner, and while a homemade chicken broth would probably add a depth of flavor, water works just fine in this case.

Creamy Garlic Soup

(Food & Wine Sept. 2001)


  • 7 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 heads of garlic, cloves separated and peeled (about 6 ounces)
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 4 1/2 cups water
  • One 6-inch length of crustless baguette, cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 1 tablespoon Champagne vinegar
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  1. Melt 3 tablespoons of the butter in a large saucepan. Add the garlic and cook over low heat until softened, about 10 minutes. Sprinkle the flour over the garlic and cook, stirring, until golden, about 4 minutes. Raise the heat to moderate and gradually add the water, stirring constantly, until it boils. Reduce the heat to moderately low, cover and simmer the soup until the garlic is very soft and falling apart, about 30 minutes. (I used a stick blender to make it smooth at this point.)
  2. In a large skillet, melt the remaining 4 tablespoons of butter over moderate heat. Add the bread and cook, stirring occasionally, until crisp and golden brown, about 10 minutes. Drain the croutons on paper towels.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk the egg yolks with the vinegar. Gradually whisk 1 cup of the hot soup into the eggs. Reduce the heat to low. Add the eggs to the saucepan, stirring constantly until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes; do not let the soup boil or it will curdle. Season with salt and pepper and serve hot, with the croutons.

Thanks to Carla and Sara for a delicious event.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

BB: Mac and Cheese Delight

We are macaroni and cheese addicts in this household. From time to time I get adventuresome and try a different recipe, but my daughter prefers my standard version, which is basically bechamel with cheese mixed with cooked pasta and served straight away. She does request smoked gouda in addition to the sharp cheddar cheese, which is good.

Several years ago I visited a restaurant in Los Angeles that was known for its macaroni and cheese. The recipe was published in the LA Times, and included 4 types of cheese: sharp cheddar, Monterey jack, parmesan, and blue cheese. I thought it was divine, but my daughter doesn’t care for blue cheese, so it doesn’t get made very often. (She’s the goat cheese fan, I’m the blue cheese fan. I win.)

So, when Heather, of Randomosity and the Girl, chose Ina’s Grown Up Mac and Cheese, I was delighted. Why, there’s a lot of different kinds of cheese, there’s blue cheese, and there’s BACON. Who could resist that? And, since my daughter is back at school, I got it all to myself – not that my hips need it, of course, but I could put as much blue cheese as I wanted in it, and then just dive in and smother myself in bacon and cheese. Ahhhh . . .

Clearly, I really liked this recipe. I highly recommend it I warned my daughter that I will make it for her, blue cheese and all, when she comes home on winter break. I’m hoping the bacon will break down her defenses. Now, I haven’t read the other comments from the Barefoot Bloggers yet, but join me now and learn what everyone else thought about it.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Espresso Malt Balls

Since a fair number of you commented on the Dark Chocolate Espresso Malt Balls -- fabulous in the cookies, by the way -- here is my source. They do mail order, too.

Somis Nut House

Click on Candy, then, in the search box, type malt, and you should pull up 3 kinds of malt balls. ($2.99 for 1/2 pound)


Their nut flours are great, too (hazelnut and almond).

Monday, September 8, 2008

TWD: Malted Milk Ball Cookies

Rachel, of Confessions of a Tangerine Tart, chose this week’s TWD challenge, and a tasty one it was -- Chocolate Malted Whopper Drops.

A few months ago I purchased a bag of dark chocolate espresso malted milk balls from a local store. They were waiting for just the right cookie, and these Chocolate Whopper Drops were just the ticket. I used Ovaltine for the malt powder, since that’s what was in the pantry, and in this house, there is never such a thing as too much chocolate. The cookies disappeared in a flash, so clearly I need to make another trip to the store for these special malted milk balls, although, taking a cue from Susan, I might just have to try the strawberry ones next!

Be sure and visit the other TWD blogs to see the many variations of these cookies.

Cheesy flatbread

Over the weekend I made a delicious mushroom soup, and even though I halved the recipe, there was still enough for two dinners and one lunch. (The soup will be discussed in a future post.) Sunday night I decided to reheat the soup for dinner and I wanted something interesting to accompany it.

I decided to make some simple flatbread with cheese. Two things led me in that direction. First, I had seen the recipe in the July 2008 issue of Cooking Light, and second, Carrie had given it a try a few weeks ago.

So, after I had returned from my promised task to dump a 10-year-old boy into a dunk tank, I started the bread. It is a simple and versatile recipe. When the dough was ready for shaping, I divided it into thirds, put 2 of the pieces into freezer bags, and rolled out the remaining piece.

I decided just to sprinkle it with grated cheese (Quattro Formaggio from TJs) and bake it until the cheese was golden.

Couldn’t be easier. Now, whenever I get hungry for either a quick small pizza or just a bread accompaniment to a meal, I can thaw one of my frozen flatbread doughs and be on my way.

Friday, September 5, 2008

MKMW: Indonesia

One of my more memorable meals took place at a small Indonesian restaurant in Albuquerque, New Mexico, quite a few years ago. The restaurant, run by a husband & wife (Dutch and Indonesian, respectively), was hidden in a small shopping area in the northeast part of the city, close to where I was living. I’d eaten there quite a few times, but on this particular occasion, a friend and I decided to celebrate, so we made advance reservations for the rijsttafel, a classic meal with about a zillion dishes. This was quite an occasion for the restaurant, too, since few customers indulged in this treat, so we were definitely an item of curiosity.

Today, many years later, I can’t remember everything we tasted, but the experience and the sense of flavor remain. When I prepared my selection for this week’s My Kitchen, My World, one bite took me back in years to that special meal. At some point over the years, the restaurant closed and something ordinary took its place, but its legacy continues -- I’ve always had a preference for Indonesian foods. Someday maybe I’ll even experience another rijsttafel.

Thanks to Michelle for choosing Indonesia and to Susan for a great idea.

(Sorry the photos aren't very appetizing -- it really was delicious!)

Indonesian Coconut Rice with Chicken and Zucchini
(Food & Wine, January 1997)

Serves 4

  • 2 tablespoons cooking oil
  • 8 chicken thighs (I used boneless)
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper
  • 1 large onion, cut into thin slices
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 1/2 cups long-grain rice
  • 1 2/3 cups unsweetened coconut milk (one 13-ounce can) (Trader Joe's)
  • 1 3/4 cups water
  • 1 pound zucchini, cut into 1/4-inch dice
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup chopped cilantro (optional) (or flat-leaf parsley)
  1. In a large deep frying pan or Dutch oven, heat the cooking oil over moderately high heat. Sprinkle the chicken with 1/2 teaspoon of the salt and 1/4 teaspoon of the pepper. Put the chicken in the pan and brown well on both sides, about 8 minutes in all. Remove. Pour off all but 1 tablespoon of the fat. Reduce the heat to moderately low.
  2. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook 1 minute longer. Stir in the coriander, cumin, rice, and the remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Cook, stirring, for 1 minute.
  3. Stir in the coconut milk and the water. Add the chicken and bring to a simmer. Cover and cook over low heat, stirring the rice two or three times, until the rice and chicken are almost done, about 20 minutes. Stir in the zucchini, cover, and cook until done, about 7 minutes longer. Stir the lemon juice and cilantro into the rice.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Pita: 8 for 8

Once again it's time to participate in the call for Bread Baking Buddies. This time it's Country-Style Whole-Wheat Pita from Beth Hensperger's The Bread Bible, chosen by Bread Baking Babe Ilva, of Lucullian Delights. Can I say Yum?

It was like magic! In a span of 2 minutes I watched as the first bubble formed, then spread, then the whole pita rose up like a space ship! So cool! I’m lucky to have a window in my oven so I can stand there, with nothing better to do than watch a pita take shape.

All 8 pitas were hollow – success.

One was flatter than the rest, but I deduced that the oven wasn’t quite as hot when I put it in, so I experimented with the remaining ones, letting the oven return to temperature each time, and that did the trick.

While I’ve made pita before (I have a blackened pizza stone to prove it), these turned out the best of any, and the flavor is fabulous.

I halved the recipe, so here’s the version I used:

eight 6-inch round flatbreads

10 ounces warm water (105 to 115 degrees F)
1 ½ teaspoons instant yeast
pinch of sugar
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 ½ teaspoons salt
1 1/2 cups whole-wheat flour (I used KA white whole wheat)
1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

Combine whole wheat flour, instant yeast, pinch of sugar, salt, olive oil, and water in mixing bowl. Using the paddle attachment, mix until soft, sticky dough is formed. Slowly add the all-purpose flour, about ½ cup at a time, switching to the dough hook about half-way through.

Continue kneading in the mixer until the dough is soft, springy, moist and smooth, adding additional flour only if necessary to keep it from sticking. Dough should be slightly tacky to touch.

Lightly oil surface of dough and place in lightly oiled bowl. Let rise until doubled in size: anywhere from 45 to 90 minutes.

Pre-heat oven to 475 ° F with a baking stone set on the bottom rack. (Pita may be baked on parchment paper on baking sheets or directly on hot baking stone.)

Divide dough in half, returning half to bowl and cover. Again divide dough into 4 equal pieces and form each into a ball. Cover, allowing them to rest while forming the other half of dough.

Dust bench with whole-wheat flour, roll each ball into a 6-inch circle (may need an additional 5 or 10 minutes to relax gluten if dough resists rolling). Let rest on peel or floured dish towel or floured parchment paper, covered until puffy, about 15 to 20 minutes. Since I could only bake one at a time, I rolled out the first 4, then rolled the remaining ones while the first batch was baking.

Baking time: 10 to 15 minutes (on parchment paper baking sheet will take longer than on stone). (Each of mine took about 7 minutes to bake, so be sure and watch.)

Do not check and open oven door for the first 4 minutes!

Pita are done when fully puffed and light brown.

Stack puffed hot pita between clean dish towels.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

103 experiences and more

I found this list on Dolores' site last night, and couldn't resist checking it out. Mary just did it, too. Has anyone else?

If it's bold, I have...

1. Touched an iceberg
2. Slept under the stars

3. Been a part of a hockey fight
4. Changed a baby's diaper
5. Watched a meteor shower
6. Given more than you can afford to charity

7. Swam with wild dolphins
8. Climbed a mountain
9. Held a tarantula
10. Said "I love you" and meant it
11. Bungee jumped
12. Visited Paris
13. Watched a lightning storm at sea
14. Stayed up all night long and watched the sun rise
15. Seen the Northern Lights
16. Gone to a huge sports game

17. Walked the stairs to the top of the Statue of Liberty
(been there, but didn’t climb the stairs)
18. Grown and eaten your own vegetables
19. Looked up at the night sky through a telescope
20. Had an uncontrollable giggling fit at the worst possible moment
21. Had a pillow fight

22. Bet on a winning horse
23. Taken a sick day when you're not ill
24. Built a snow fort

25. Held a lamb
26. Gone skinny dipping
27. Taken an ice cold bath
28. Had a meaningful conversation with a beggar
29. Seen a total eclipse
30. Ridden a roller coaster
31. hit a home run
32. Danced like a fool and not cared who was looking
33. Adopted an accent for fun

34. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors
(see #42)
35. Felt very happy about your life, even for just a moment
36. Loved your job 90% of the time
37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied
38. Watched wild whales

39. Gone rock climbing
40. Gone on a midnight walk on the beach
41. Gone sky diving
42. Visited Ireland
(on the must-visit-soon list)
43. Ever bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant
44. Visited India
45. Bench-pressed your own weight
46. Milked a cow
47. Alphabetized your personal files
48. Ever worn a superhero costume
49. Sung karaoke
50. Lounged around in bed all day
51. Gone scuba diving (been snorkeling in Hawaii and Puerto Rico)
52. Kissed in the rain
53. Played in the mud
54. Gone to a drive-in theater
55. Done something you should regret, but don't

56. Visited the Great Wall of China
57. Started a business
58. Taken a martial arts class

59. Been in a movie
60. Gone without food for 3 days
61. Made cookies from scratch
62. Won first prize in a costume contest
63. Got flowers for no reason
64. Been in a combat zone
65. Spoken more than one language fluently
66. Gotten into a fight while attempting to defend someone
67. Bounced a check
68. Read - and understood - your credit report
69. Recently bought and played with a favorite childhood toy
70. Found out something significant that your ancestors did
71. Called or written your Congress person
72. Picked up and moved to another city to just start over

73. Walked the Golden Gate Bridge
(driven across it a bunch of times)
74. Helped an animal give birth
75. Been fired or laid off from a job
76. Won money
77. Broken a bone
78. Ridden a motorcycle
(never will)
79. Driven any land vehicle at a speed of greater than 100 mph (how about as a passenger in a car on the Autobahn?)
80. Hiked to the bottom of the Grand Canyon
81. Slept through an entire flight: takeoff, flight, and landing
82. Taken a canoe trip that lasted more than 2 days
83. Eaten sushi
84. Had your picture in the newspaper
85. Read The Bible cover to cover
86. Changed someone's mind about something you care deeply about
87. Gotten someone fired for their actions
88. Gone back to school
89. Changed your name

90. Caught a fly in the air with your bare hands
91. Eaten fried green tomatoes
92. Read The Iliad
93. Taught yourself an art from scratch

94. Killed and prepared an animal for eating
95. Apologized to someone years after inflicting the hurt
96. Communicated with someone without sharing a common spoken language
97. Been elected to public office
98. Thought to yourself that you're living your dream
99. Had to put someone you love into hospice care
100. Sold your own artwork to someone who didn't know you
101. Had a booth at a street fair
102. Dyed your hair
103 Been a DJ
104. Rocked a baby to sleep
105. Ever dropped a cat from a high place to see if it really lands on all fours
106. Raked your carpet
107. Brought out the best in people
108. Brought out the worst in people
109. Worn a mood ring
110. Ridden a horse
111. Carved an animal from a piece of wood or bar of soap
112. Prepared a dish where four people asked for the recipe

113. Buried a child
114. Gone to a Broadway play
115. Been inside the pyramids (the ones in Mexico, yes)
116. Shot a basketball into a basket
117. Danced at a disco (possibly)
118. Played in a band
119. Shot a bird
120. Gone to an arboretum
121. Tutored someone
122. Ridden a train

123. Brought an old fad back into style
124. Eaten caviar
125. Let a salesman talk you into something you didn’t need
126. Ridden a giraffe or elephant

127. Published a book
(my work has been published many times, but not my very own book)
128. Pieced a quilt
129. Lived in an historic place
130. Acted in a play or performed on a stage
131. Asked for a raise
132. Made a hole-in-one
133. Gone deep sea fishing
134. Gone roller skating
135. Run a marathon
136. Learned to surf
137. Invented something
138. Flown first class
139. Spent the night in a 5-star luxury suite

140. Flown in a helicopter
141. Visited Africa
142. Sang a solo
(does 3rd grade count?)
143. Gone spelunking (been to Carlsbad Caverns)
144. Learned how to take a compliment
145. Written a love-story
146. Seen Michelangelo’s David
147. Had your portrait painted (how about a silhouette?)
148. Written a fan letter
149. Spent the night in something haunted
150. Owned a St. Bernard or Great Dane
151. Ran away
152. Learned to juggle
153. Been a boss
154. Sat on a jury
155. Lied about your weight
156. Gone on a diet

157. Found an arrowhead or a gold nugget
158. Written a poem
159. Carried your lunch in a lunchbox
160. Gotten food poisoning

161. Gone on a service, humanitarian or religious mission
162. Hiked the Grand Canyon
163. Sat on a park bench and fed the ducks
164. Gone to the opera

165. Gotten a letter from someone famous
166. Worn knickers
167. Ridden in a limousine
168. Attended the Olympics
169. Can hula or waltz and polka.
170. Read a half dozen Nancy Drew or Hardy Boys books

171. Been stuck in an elevator
172. Had a revelatory dream
173. Thought you might crash in an airplane
174. Had a song dedicated to you on the radio or at a concert
175. Saved someone’s life
176. Eaten raw whale
177. Know how to tat, smock or do needlepoint
178. Laughed till your side hurt

179. Straddled the equator
180. Taken a photograph of something other than people that is worth framing
181. Gone to a Shakespeare Festival
182. Sent a message in a bottle

183. Spent the night in a hostel
184. Been a cashier
185. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt
186. Joined a union
187. Donated blood or plasma
188. Built a campfire
189. Kept a blog

190. Had hives
191. Worn custom made shoes or boots
192. Made a PowerPoint presentation
193. Taken a Hunter’s Safety Course
194. Served at a soup kitchen
195. Conquered the Rubik’s cube
196. Know CPR
197. Ridden in or owned a convertible
198. Found a long lost friend

199. Helped solve a crime
200. Responded to a NJP newsletter

Monday, September 1, 2008

TWD: Peanut Butter, Oatmeal, Chocolate Cookies

“Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.”

Yes. Well. Pay no attention to the chocolate chunks that look suspiciously like M&Ms.

What can I say? I was short a few chips, so . . . .

Our TWD event this week, Chunky Peanut Butter and Oatmeal Chocolate Chipsters, was brought to us by Stefany of Proceed with Caution.

Now, I love peanut butter cookies, but I refuse to use adulterated peanut butter for anything. Always have, always will. So irregardless of what the recipe said, I used super chunky peanut butter au naturel, courtesy of Trader Joe’s. It’s a staple in the pantry.

Would you be able to tell the difference? Nope. These cookies are moist and tender and taste of oatmeal and peanut butter and a hint of spice.

I had just finished making the dough (yesterday, Sunday) and had the oven heating and the cookie sheets ready, when I happened to re-read the recipe. Chill, it said. Rats, I said. So, off went the oven. I stuck the mixing bowl in the fridge and decided to bake them this morning (Monday). It’s rather fun that way, because the dough is already prepared, so you only have to shape and bake. And the house smelled great during the process.

Take a look at the efforts of the other TWD bakers. It’s always interesting to see their results and read their comments.