Friday, January 23, 2009
Back in mid-December, Foodie Bride had emailed me to alert me to the last Blake Makes giveaway for 2008. I entered with a comment, having no idea of whether I had acted in time or not, and then promptly forgot about it until the box of Amano Artisan Chocolate showed up on my doorstep this morning!
If you haven't heard of Amano before (and I'll admit, I hadn't), you should check them out - their process pretty nifty. All their chocolate is made in small batches, using antique 1900s machinery from Italy, Spain, Portugal, and Germany. They are one of a very small group of companies in the U.S. that manufacture their own chocolate directly from the bean.
These people take their chocolate very seriously - how many other Chocolate Tasting Guides have you ever seen out there?
So what did today's surprise box o'chocolate arrive bearing? Three different bars, all 70% dark chocolate. Ocumare, made from beans harvested from the central coast of Venezuela, is their flagship bar. It is said to have both fruity and floral notes, as well as some raisin, smokey, and woody notes that may come out. Madagascar is, not surprisingly, made from beans harvested in Madagascar - but the beans are grown from the offspring of cacao trees that were brought to Madagascar from Venezuela at the end of the 19th century. It is said to be the chocolate bar for those who don't care for dark chocolate, with a fruity, plum-like flavor, along with some slight citrus hints at the end. Last, but certainly not least, is Jembrana. This is the special bar, I am told. It is made from beans harvested on the southwest coast of Bali. Amano is the only company in the U.S. importing cacao beans from Bali. It is said to have a deep chocolate flavor and a gentle nuttiness, with some coffee-like hints as well.
Obviously sampling this chocolate and giving it it's proper due is going to be no small task. Stay tuned for the reviews of our introduction to Amano. In the meantime, any suggestions as to how best to savor and review this fantastic treat are certainly welcome!
Sunday, August 10, 2008
Instead of using sugar, I used Splenda, and I used what I refer to as "fake butter" (i.e., I Can't Believe It's Not Butter Light) for half of the butter called for in the recipe. Using Splenda and half "fake butter" didn't affect the final result in the slightest - in fact, in the future I'll try using all "fake butter." Bryon's mom noted that she often only uses half of the butter called for, and in the future, I'll do that as well, because I found that using the entire amount left the fruit fairly floating in butter. Oh, she also mentioned that this recipe works well with blueberries too.
The recipe was easy enough, and Bryon (as resident expert on how this recipe should turn out tasting) didn't think subbing Splenda and "fake butter" affected the final result in the slightest. Since it's a favorite of his, I know I'll be having to make it again in the future. I'll work on trying to get an accompanying picture up soon.
2 cups sliced peaches
2 cups sugar, divided*
1 stick butter
2 teaspoons baking powder
¾ cup flour
Pinch of salt
¾ cup milk
¾ cup sweetened coconut
½ cup chopped pecans
Preheat oven to 350. Mix peaches with 1 cup sugar. Place butter in deep pan (an 8x6x2 Pyrex works well) and place in oven to melt.
Stir together the remaining sugar, flour, baking powder, and milk to form a batter. Pour the batter over the melted butter – do not stir! Place peaches on top of the batter and sprinkle coconut and pecans over the top. Bake for 1 hour or until the crust is golden – the batter will rise to the top during baking.
Note: Depending on how sweet the peaches are, typically only ¼ - ½ of the sugar called for on the peaches is really necessary. The amount of butter called for can also be cut in half.
Source: Bryon's mom
Saturday, August 2, 2008
Bryon and I met for lunch during the week at Joseph's recently, and I took the opportunity to furiously scribble down the recipe while Bryon was paying for our meal. Upon closer examination, the recipe is nearly identical to a sheet cake recipe that my mom has been making for as long as I can remember, except her recipe uses shortening, cinnamon, and there's less vanilla extract in the icing.
The cupcakes are rich, fudgey, and wonderful - definitely a winner! And, like my mom's recipe, it can be made as a sheet cake as well. Will I make it again? Probably - but I think I'll add the cinnamon to the batter that my mom's recipe includes. The recipe is very easy - I think even a very beginning baker would have no problem with these whatsoever.
2 cups flour
Preheat oven to 350. Grease jumbo muffin tin or rectangular cake pan. Sift dry ingredients together. Add liquid ingredients and mix well. Bake 25-30 minutes for large cupcakes, or 30-40 minutes for cake.
4 Tablespoons cocoa
6 Tablespoons milk
1 stick butter
3 cups powdered sugar
1 Tablespoon vanilla
1 cup chopped pecans
Begin preparing the icing approximately 5 minutes before the cupcakes or cake is done baking. Bring butter, cocoa and milk to boil. Remove from heat and add remaining ingredients, mixing well. Pour/spread over hot cake(s).
Source: Joseph's Storehouse Bakery, Grandma Goldsmith
Friday, July 25, 2008
Both recipes were very tasty and easy to follow. The fried rice was very easy to make. The potstickers involved more steps in terms of preparation, and folding the dumplings can be a bit of a challenge, but none of it was too difficult. I didn't pay proper attention to the cooking temperature for the potstickers, so mine didn't turn out quit right - in fact, the bottoms of my potstickers did stick to the pot. They may not have been pretty, but they still tasted great! I think we'll keep both of these recipes.
Shawnda serves her potstickers with an orange sesame dipping sauce. We just dip ours in soy sauce. I made a few modifications to the fried rice recipe. First, I used brown rice instead of white (which worked perfectly). I also added mushrooms to the assortment of vegetables because I really like them in my fried rice. Bryon doesn't eat mushrooms, but he's perfectly capable of picking them out. I also like more egg in my fried rice, so I used 2 eggs instead of the 1 the recipe calls for. Finally, I doubled the amount of soy sauce used in the recipe, and we both ended up putting more soy sauce over the rice on our plates.
Pork Fried Rice
½ lb. ground pork
1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
4 cups cooked rice, cold
½ cup green onions, chopped
1/3 cup carrots, chopped
¼ teaspoon pepper
1 cup green peas
2 teaspoons sesame oil
1 Tablespoon soy sauce
Brown the pork over medium high heat, drain and set aside. Add vegetable oil to skillet over high heat, stir fry onions and rice. Add carrots and peas and stir fry for 2 minutes. Push rice to side. Whisk egg, pepper, and sesame oil and pour into skillet. Stir until egg is cooked and mix into the rice. Add pork and soy sauce, taste, and adjust seasoning as necessary.
Source: Confections of a Foodie Bride
Thursday, July 24, 2008
Our annual tubing trip was last weekend, and that meant I needed cookies! I decided to try my hand at two different recipes, but giving each a twist of my own. First, I decided to try out and "doctor-up" my grandmommy's peanut butter cookie recipe. Then I gave my friend Kasey's oatmeal-craisin cookie recipe a go and jazzed it up a little more. Both types of cookies were a big hit this weekend, so I think they'll definitely be made again, and neither recipe was any more difficult than your average cookie recipe.
Grandmommy's Peanut Butter Cookies - With a Twist!
Thursday, July 10, 2008
- Read through the entire recipe at least once before you start. There are always a couple of twists and turns that you might miss if you aren't ready for them.
- You must chop/prep all the ingredients before you start cooking.
I used the entire 1/2 teaspoon of crushed red pepper that it called for. We tend to have somewhat "milder" palates. This amount was just fine, but any more would have been too much for us. Those out there who like spicier Italian dishes will probably want to add more. In the future, I'll probalby use just a little bit less. I may also cut back just slightly on the amount of fresh basil in the future (I was probably a bit heavy-handed with it this time). I love fresh basil, but it almost gave the sauce a slightly licorice-like taste. The allspice gives the sauce a really nice flavor, though. It sort of warms you from the inside out.
You only use half of the meat/tomato sauce in the final toss. The leftover sauce is supposed to be for topping purposes. We found this wasn't necessary. In the future, I'll probably just make a half-recipe of the meat/tomato sauce, since the other half is currently sitting in the refrigerator, waiting for me to come up with a use for it.Not-sagna Pasta Toss
Easier than lasagna, because it's not, this pasta, meat sauce and ricotta toss-up is just as hearty and comforting as the layered Italian fave, but it's ready in a fraction of the time and with much less effort.
1 pound curly, short cut pasta (i.e., campanelle, fusilli, cavatappi)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (2 turns of the pan)
2 pound ground sirloin*
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 medium onion, finely chopped
½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (eyeball it in your palm)
½ teaspoon allspice (eyeball it in your palm)
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce*
½ cup dry red wine (a couple of glugs)
½ cup beef stock
1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
**3 teaspoons granulated sugar**
1 cup fresh basil (about 20 leaves)
½ cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (a couple of handfuls), plus some to pass at the table
*I used whole wheat pasta, ground turkey, twice the amount of Worcestershire, and the entire 15 oz. container of ricotta.*
**RR's recipe does not call for sugar in the sauce. My grandmother taught me that almost any recipe involving cooked tomatoes needs some sugar to bring out the flavor, and I found that to be true of this recipe as well. **
Heat a large pot of water to boil for pasta. Salt water and cook pasta to al dente. Heads up: you will need a ladle of the starchy cooking water to help form sauce before draining.
Heat a deep skillet over medium-high heat. Add extra-virgin olive oil, 2 turns of the pan. Add the meat and break it up into small bits as it caramelizes. Once meat has good color to it, 4 to 5 minutes, add garlic, onions and red pepper flakes and season with salt, pepper, allspice and Worcestershire sauce. Cook another 5 minutes, deglaze the meat and onions with red wine, cook off a minute, then combine about 1/2 cup of stock into the meat. Stir in the tomatoes and bring to a bubble. Reduce heat to medium low and simmer 5 minutes.
Place ricotta cheese in the bottom of a shallow bowl. Add a ladleful of boiling, starchy pasta water to the ricotta and stir to combine. Add a couple of handfuls of grated Parmesan to the ricotta and mix it in.
Drain pasta. Toss hot pasta with cheeses. Add half the thick meat sauce to the pasta bowl and combine. Tear or shred the basil and add to the meat and pasta, toss again. Taste to adjust salt and pepper.
Serve bowlfuls of Not-sagna with extra sauce on top and more grated Parmesan to pass at the table.