Squeaky Peanut

"Dot takes on the Domestic Diva"

Vodka is the key July 24, 2011

Filed under: Recipe Review — squeakypeanut @ 11:13 AM
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Hello, cupcakes! It’s been a while and I have missed you. I checked my stats and, amazingly, I still get some hits, so I thought I would start posting again, a bit. Maybe.

I joked about being sick in my last post, which was just a cold, but then I ended up truly ill with another sort of thing. Can we blame Martha for it? Possibly, but we will never know, I suppose.  For real, though, I have some great friends who cooked meals for The Husband and me while we were unable to, and I will never forget their kindness and generosity! 

Now I am (slowly) on the mend, and have started cooking again; if it involves throwing stuff into a food processor, I am all over it! I haven’t made anything worth posting about until today.

Richmond, like most places, has been beastly hot this week and will be beastly hot next week, so I threw the chilling mechanism bowl from my ice cream maker into the freezer a couple of days ago,. I just used it to make Pink Grapefruit Sorbet. It is cold and tart and über refreshing.  The key is the bit of vodka, which helps prevent the sorbet from getting too icy in the freezer.

Pink Grapefruit Sorbet

3 c grapefruit juice

1/2 c sugar

1/3 c water

3 T vodka

Make a simple syrup by dissolving sugar in the water over a medium heat. Let cool. Combine juice, simple syrup and vodka in the ice cream maker and process per manufacturer’s instructions. Eat immediately, or place in freezer. May rub on body, if overheated.

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Haiku About Those Pears December 29, 2010

Filed under: Recipe Review — squeakypeanut @ 7:46 AM
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Pears glazed with honey

Too sweet after that chicken,

No one is surprised.

Pears glazed with honey, lemon juice, and juniper berries.
 

Meat atrocities: fine if you like that sort of thing… December 19, 2010

Filed under: Recipe Review — squeakypeanut @ 10:19 PM
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Meal NUMBER 50!

Pork Chops with Sautéed Apples and Onion; Shaved Fennel-Celery Salad; Mustard Mashed Potatoes; Maple Custards

Pork Chops:

The recipe involved bone-in pork chops, onions, Fuji apples, Armagnac, chicken stock, and butter. 

I am not going to give you the measurements for these ingredients, and I am not going to discuss its cooking method. I am taking a stand: it’s time to put an end to the whole Fruit with Pork thing. Now.  If you want to put pork with some garlic, or herbs, or BBQ sauce I will support your right to do so. But I just cannot allow this fruity meat thing to continue.

I wish I had a video of The Husband’s reaction to this part of the meal. There are many variations one can do of, “Oh, my god. This is soooo disgusting.” One can shake one’s head, and just repeat over and over again, “Oh, no.” Or say”Nuh uh,” several times over, then follow it with an “Ohhhhhhh, this is reallllllllly disgusting,” then an, “Oh my god! It’s gross! It’s really soooo gross” Then one can burst out laughing at how much one hates it.

THEN, one can admit that the flavors on the plate, while hideous, do complement one another, if one were into such things…

SALAD:

The fennel was not shaved, fyi. It was sliced, as was the celery. Kohlrabi is too fancy to be found at the several stores I tried, so we had to do without. The dressing was apple cider vinegar, Dijon mustard (oh, how I have missed you), honey, and oil. I was supposed to use walnut oil, but didn’t for allergy-avoidance purposes.

I didn’t hate it as much as I expected to. It was pretty quiet in flavor. I liked that it was crunchy. Most importantly, this is the last of the year of terrible salads!

MASHED POTATOES:

These were Yukon Gold potatoes, boiled with their skins on for a rustic effect. They were mashed with whole-grain mustard, chicken broth and olive oil. These were the best thing on the plate, which I suppose isn’t saying much, but they were tasty. I like mustard and think this is a fun idea for a side dish, if you were making kielbasi or something along those lines.

MAPLE CUSTARDS:

We both normally hate maple, but we got some maple syrup from Trader Joe’s that is remarkably un-mapley in flavor. Otherwise I would have skipped this dessert.

I whisked together egg yolks, maple syrup and vanilla, then slowly mixed in heated milk and cream. The mixture was baked in ramekins in a water bath, then chilled. I poured a little bit of maple syrup on top before serving.

This was much better than I expected! The Husband took a bite and said, “OH, MY! I love this texture!!!!” It was silky smooth. Yum.

 OVERALL:

As I said above, the flavors all went together, but that is not necessarily a good thing, in my opinion. The sweet pork was not cute, the salad was just ok, but the potatoes and dessert were good. I could see people who like sweet meat and fennel really digging this meal.

Pork:  F, for our palates, but if you like fruit and pork you would probably give it a B

Fennel salad:  B

Mashed potatoes:  A

Maple custard: A+

 

Blackberry Almond Shortbread Squares August 11, 2010

Filed under: Recipe Review,Uncategorized — squeakypeanut @ 12:13 PM
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It seems like it’s been forever since I made one of the Martha Meals. We were out of town again last weekend so I didn’t get to cook anything. I can’t say that I missed it! 

(I got a new camera in the interim, but was having some technical issues, so there are no photos of some of the dishes.) 

Menu No. 31: Herbed Turkey Burgers; Tomato Salad; Creamed Corn; Blackberry Almond Shortbread Squares (from Martha Stewart’s Dinner at Home) 

Turkey Burgers

More burgers! These involved ground turkey combined with shallots, Dijon mustard (did you honestly think it wouldn’t?!), minced mint and parsley. We were uncharacteristically out of shallots, and the grocery store didn’t have them, so I tried to reconstitute a clump of shallot salt to substitute. It didn’t really work. How surprising!. 

Aside from all that, the burgers were fine. They were mintier than I prefer, and steamed in the skillet rather than browned so I wish I had gone with my instinct to grill them. They were fine for a quick weeknight dinner, but there are better burger recipes out there. I did lurve my little Pepperidge Farm slider-size buns, though. 

Tomato Salad

A beefsteak tomato was combined with cherry tomatoes and black olives, with a dressing of balsamic vinegar and garlic sautéed in oil, plus oregano. At first I liked this, but then it quickly overpowered the rest of the meal. I don’t like olives so that was part of the problem. The Husband liked it with the minty burger. He is silly. 

 

Creamed Corn: 

I have very limited experience with creamed corn, having only had the disgusting canned variety many years ago. It was sweet and viscous and BLECH. 

This doesn’t involve any added sugar (or high-fructose corn syrup, for that matter), thankfully. I had to sauté a minced jalapeño in olive oil, then added the de-cobbed corn kernels. She said to sauté the corn for 5-7 minutes, but mine were tender in 3, so I stopped lest they get overcooked. I took out some of the corn and pureed it with some milk and cream, then it was added back to the pan with the corn and reduced. 

The corn was good, but I wish my jalapeno had been more flavorful, as we really couldn’t taste it. The Husband had some issues with the consistency of the sauce, but I thought it was fine. 

Shortbread:  

YUM!!! Here is where I admit that I had been salivating over the photo of these in the cookbook all winter, so as soon as the blackberries were in season I made them. This was the best dessert we’ve made from this book so far! 

You make a simple almond shortbread dough; some goes on the bottom as crust, and some goes on top as a crumble, and in between are blackberries. I am a big fan of shortbread so this really floated my boat. 

Look at the size of that berry!

 

The only problem, and of course there is one, is that there wasn’t enough of the dough. I made a half batch and the bottom crust was very thin. I gave the recipe to a friend, who made the full batch, and she said there was barely enough of the crust to cover the bottom of the pan. So, maybe the trick would be to use the full crust recipe but to bake it in an 8’x8’ pan, rather than a 9” x 13” one.  But you should totally make them! 

 

  

OVERALL: 

This meal was fine, although I don’t plan to eat any of the leftover tomatoes, so what does that tell you? The real star was the dessert. How unusual! 

Turkey Burger: B 

Tomato Salad: B 

Creamed Corn: B+ 

Dessert: A

 

Tiramisu May 26, 2010

Filed under: Recipe Review — squeakypeanut @ 9:32 AM
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We have a guest chef today!  I can’t eat dairy or chocolate, so thankfully my awesome friend Cassandra volunteered to test the tiramisu recipe that went with the pasta shards with egg menu. She is a great cook who also lives in a state capital, but hers is a magical one where you can buy hard liquor in the grocery store (and CVS!). I can find espresso powder at the neighborhood supermarket, but have to buy my booze at the state liquor store. I think we all know which is the better situation!

Here is her review:

To start with, this is probably one of the easiest desserts ever. There is no cooking required, making it perfect for a freak spring heat wave. Plus, it combines three of my favorite things – whipped cream, coffee, and chocolate. How could it possibly be bad? 
 
Now, onto my confessions. In the true spirit of Squeaky Peanut, I cheated. I couldn’t find instant espresso powder at the grocery store so I just made a really strong batch of french press coffee (Arabian Red Sea ). This is to die for coffee, so I don’t feel bad about the substitution. Also, I made the recipe without the brandy. I stood looking at brandy at the grocery store for a good 10 minutes, but they didn’t have any small airplane-sized bottles, and I didn’t want to have a bottle of cheap $10 brandy that no one in my house would ever drink left over. I suppose it could have kept the applejack and the Kirsch company at the back of the liquor cabinet. I didn’t realize that cognac actually was brandy or I might have bought that. But whatever. 
 
So, basically you soak the ladyfingers in coffee, layer them in a glass bread pan with whipped mascarpone/cream/vanilla/sugar and chocolate shavings. Voila! Easy as pie. Much easier than pie, actually. The only complication was that the chocolate got all melty in my hand while I was trying to shave the curls. I put it in the freezer for 10 minutes and that took care of everything. 


 
Now that I’ve sampled it, I’d give it a B+. It is really good, but somehow less than the sum of its parts -I’m not sure why. Maybe after it sits overnight the flavors will have melded more. The whipped cream/mascarpone component is fabulous. 

*****

Thank you so much, Cassandra! By the way, she reports that it was “all kinds of awesome” for breakfast the next day after an hour spent gardening.

Here is the recipe, adapted from Dinner at Home (by Martha Stewart):

Tiramisu

3/4 c boiling water

3 T good quality instant espresso granules (not instant coffee)

2/3 c mascarpone cheese

2/3 c heavy cream

3 T brandy

1/2 t pure vanilla extract

1/3 c sugar

12 store-bought ladyfingers (about 6 ounces)

2 oz bittersweet chocolate, shaved with a vegetable peeler

Mix the boiling water and espresso powder until dissolved. Refrigerate until cool. Meanwhile, with an electric mixer on medium speed, whisk together the mascarpone, heavy cream, brandy, vanilla and sugar until soft peaks form.

Trim the end of the ladyfingers so they fit snugly (side by side) in an 8.5″ x 4.5″ loaf pan (preferably glass).  Pour the espresso mixture into a shallow bowl. Briefly dip the ladyfingers one at time into the espresso, turning to coat both sides.

Line the bottom of the pan with 6 cookies. Spoon half the mascarpone mixture on top, then sprinkle evenly with half the shaved chocolate. Layer with the remaining ladyfingers and mascarpone mixture. Smooth the top with an offset or flexible spatula, then sprinkle with remaining chocolate.

Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until set, at least an hour (or up to overnight), or freeze for 30 minutes.