Archive | January, 2013

Blackpeachrange Tartlets on a Sunday Night

23 Jan

This past Sunday evening, I had a hankering for something sweet. As you’ve no doubt noticed when we get a sweet-tooth, we bake. So I started to sift through desserts on Epicurious.com trying to find something delicious to cook up.

Here’s the problem – we had no eggs.

Since pretty much every dessert recipe under the sun (related to baking anyhow) includes eggs I had a problem. Then I remembered that we could make tarts.

A while back (not sure if we blogged about it here), we made a delicious lemon tart. I remember it distinctly, because I’d never run across a crust that when complete (prior to baking), was completely crumbly. Like, not bonding, or sticking together at all after you finish food-processing it. This recipe didn’t use any eggs what-so-ever (vegans pay attention).

So, I tried to find that particular recipe again, aiming to make a blackberry tart (as we still had some in the fridge from earlier in the week). I searched…and searched…and searched. Completely failed in my Google-Fu. You’d think that if you search for “Blackberry tart without eggs,” or “Blackberry tart no eggs,” that you would be successful. It took me over 30 minutes of looking to find the first recipe without eggs.

Anyhow, I should have seen that as a sign I should give up on the idea for the evening…but no I continued on, blissfully unaware of what was to come…

Eventually I found one – and it’s not linked here because I cleared my browsing history… Basically, it’s a “mix it all together and food process the hell out of it” recipe. The problem was, we only had 1/2 a stick of butter (out of the requisite 1 stick). Strike 2 in recipeville. So, I ended up adding the difference in soft-spread margarine. The main difference was the final dough was slightly stickier than I would have expected for an eggless recipe. Anyhow, I did process the hell out of it, using a spatula ever so often to pull additional flour away from the edges to fold into the dough.

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I had already pulled our tartlet pans out (yes, we actually have tartLET pans). And began to pack to dough into them. It made four, and I tossed them into the oven to start baking while I turned to the filling.

So, remember that “package” of blackberries that I had mentioned? Yep, about 1/2 a pack left. Strike 3. So at this point, I pulled a “Chris cooking without Colleen’s adult supervision” and  started to wing it.

I crushed up the blackberries into a pot (with my hands – squishing the juices out of the little buggers – and yes, it was QUITE cathartic), then proceeded to rummage in the fridge for other, possibly, complimentary flavors. I found some not too ripe peaches, that were starting to shrivel from the cold. I sliced them up and tossed them in with the blackberries. Next I added some orange juice (I really have no idea how much exactly) and a poured about four seconds-worth of sugar. I cranked up the heat and let it stew for about 20 minutes.

I pulled out the cornstarch next and added about 3 tablespoons of it to the mixture (which by this time was frothing and bubbling like a cauldron). I figured that it’s about 1 tablespoon of cornstarch per cup of liquid (I think I read that somewhere), and it looked like it was “about” 3 cups of liquid.


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I spent the next 20 minutes whisking the mixture like a mad-man trying to break up the clumps of cornstarch. Pro tip: when you’re adding cornstarch to a liquid, first mix it with liquid to form a paste before adding it to the liquid.

Onwards. It actually tasted delicious. I took the mixture, and poured it into the newly cleaned food-processor and then blended it well so that it appeared to be a purple jelly. By this time a quick check of the crusts revealed them to be nice and golden brown. I popped them out of the oven and then poured the purple goo into their centers, and then returned it to the oven for another 5 minutes.

I shouldn’t have – that was just enough for the nice golden brown crust to go only slightly brown. If this has ever happened to you with a butter crust you know that the flavor is still ok, it’s just that the texture gets hard as a rock, really fast. Regardless, after the five minutes, I pulled them out of the oven and set them aside to cool.

Voila! Blackberry/Peach/Orange tartlets. They were actually quite delicious, albeit hard around the edges. The inside crust was perfectly cooked and Colleen raved about the filling. I’m going to count it as a success.

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Oh, and I have only some idea of how to recreate them. Sometimes things come to mind with madness, never to return…

 

Low Guilt Dessert: Dark Chocolate Zucchini Cake

21 Jan

Chocolate Zucchini CakeA great dessert from the Flat Belly Diet.  All you need is dark chocolate chips, zucchini, greek yogurt, and your basic cake ingredients.  The cake turned out light and fluffy.  The icing is just melted dark chocolate – no added sugar.

 

When Pigs Fly: Apples and Pork Loin

20 Jan

Orange and Herb Turkey Cutlets Pork Loin with Maple-Sautéed Apples

I never thought the day would come.  I cooked and ate pork for dinner!  Over the past five years, Chris has encouraged me to taste and eat foods I never thought I’d try.  While pork is common, I have generally stayed away from it since re-entering the meat-eating world after 9 years of vegetarianism.   When shopping this past week, we couldn’t find the turkey cutlets that I wanted for this dish.  I browsed the meat section, and instead found these beautiful rather lean looking pork loins.  With my heart set on the recipe, I caved to Chris’ delight and bought them.

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  The recipe is from my Flat Belly Diet cookbook, and honestly it looks like a pork recipe that uses turkey to make it healthier.  We rubbed the pork with spices and browned it in a skillet.  It was browning too fast, so Chris had to turn down the heat and cook it for a bit longer to get it right.  The apples were pan-fried with maple syrup, cinnamon and pepper.  The flavors were bold and the pork lean enough for my palette.  We served it with a bit broccoli, which I severely over-salted (sorry Chris!).  Not a bad first go with pork loin.  I just might have to try it again.

 

My Very First Thanksgiving Dinner

20 Jan

This past year Chris and I offered to give my mom a break and make Thanksgiving dinner for the family.  Thanksgiving with my family is usually small (just the immediate family).  We spend the day snacking on appetizers and playing games.  My mom pops in and out of the game while cooking dinner.  Mom’s dinner varied slightly over the years, but it was always delicious.  The staples of the dinner were turkey, potatoes, stuffing, gravy, green bean casserole, and pie.  This year I kept the spread the same, but changed the recipes to add my own twist on the evening.
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My sister, Heather, and my boyfriend, Chris, were the perfect helpers for the day.  Heather chopped like a pro and Chris took charge of the turkey and dessert.  They both chipped in and helped out when needed, and delegation was super easy with my 5 page plan right in front of me.  The plan included guidelines for timing, ingredients, materials, and step by step instructions.

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As you can see, the type A side of my personality was in full force.

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The menu consisted of a herb butter turkey and gravy, creamy cheesy potatoes, crispy shallot and green bean casserole, herb bread vegetarian stuffing, and pumpkin pie.  It was hard work, but the day went flawlessly and everyone really enjoyed the meal.  Here’s to many more years of good food and good times with family!  Scott and James – We missed you this year.  Hopefully you’ll be chipping in and enjoying the dinner with us again soon!

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Herbs Without A Yard

20 Jan

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A few months ago we planted fresh thyme, rosemary, mint, parsley, oregano, and dill in two big pots on our patio.  We also have a basil plant.  The basil is now slowly dying, but the potted herbs are flourishing.  We’ve battled mildew with milk baths and aphids with a soap-based spray.  It was touch and go for a bit there, but each week there are fewer holes in the mint and less white film on the rosemary.  The parsley is growing so much that we may have to get a third pot soon!

 

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