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Thursday, September 29, 2011

A Sink Full of Apples

Apples for Canning Hey everyone, this is my 200th post! In honor of the occasion, I bring you apples!


The onslaught of fall apples has begun. This sink full of Jonagold and Honey Crisp apples (1 peck) were turned into the first 7 quarts of applesauce of the season. Mmmmmmm…

Applesauce, applebutter, apple pie jam, apple pie filling, apple conserve, here I come!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Grilled Flatbread

Grilled Flatbread Oh my gosh you guys; fall is finally here! When I left my office building last night, it was cold and blustery outside and simply wonderful! I know there will probably be a few days of hot before we settle in for winter, but man does fall feel good!

Hubby and I had already planned to grill a London broil on the gas grill last night, so it was the perfect opportunity to try out this soft flatbread recipe that I found at Deanna's blog Marzipan last week. Let me tell you, it changed our lives.

fresh grilled flatbread
I had a ball of the dough sitting in the refrigerator from the day before. I had made it and had originally planned to dry fry it on the stove, but grilling it sounded SO much better. The dough mixed up so easy; in fact, I don’t even think I’ll need the Kitchenaid for next time. I pinched off 4 balls and they rolled out like a dream; no shrinking, and very pliable. We casually tossed them on the grill; I didn’t know what to expect since this was a new recipe.

They puffed up beautifully, with perfect grill marks, in less than five minutes without any sticking. One flip over, 2 more minutes, and they were AMAZING. We couldn’t help but tear into one straight off the grill, with puffs of steam coming out of our mouths from the combination of hot food and cold weather. It was one of those HOW HAVE WE EVER LIVED WITHOUT THESE moments.

They were so amazingly delicious; we rolled out the remaining dough and grilled up the rest for future lunches. I plan to have a ball of this dough ready in my refrigerator at all times from now on.

Make these today; I mean it!

Soft Flatbread
Recipe from: Marzipan

3 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1 1/4 cups boiling water
1/4 cup potato flour OR 1/2 cup potato buds or flakes
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon instant yeast

1) Place 2 cups of the flour into a bowl. Pour the boiling water over the flour, and stir till smooth. Cover the bowl and set the mixture aside for 30 minutes.

2) In a separate bowl, using a fork, whisk together the potato flour (or flakes or buds) and the remaining 1 cup of flour with the salt, oil and yeast until a crumbly mixture forms.

3) Add this to the cooled flour/water mixture, stir, then knead for several minutes by hand to form a soft dough. The dough should form a ball, but will remain somewhat sticky. Add additional flour only if necessary and keep your hands and work surface lightly oiled to prevent sticking.

4) Let the dough rise, covered, for 1 hour.

5) Divide the dough into 8 pieces (each about the size of a handball, around 3 ounces), cover, and let rest for 15 to 30 minutes. The dough may be wrapped or placed in a baggie and then refrigerated or frozen after dividing if desired. Bring to room temperature before starting the next step.

6) Roll each piece into a 7"- to 8"-circle (a rolling pin helps here), and dry-fry them (fry without oil) over medium heat for about 1 minute per side, until they're puffed and flecked with brown spots. Adjust the heat if they seem to be cooking either too quickly, or too slowly; cooking too quickly means they may be raw in the center, while too slowly will dry them out.

7) Transfer the cooked breads to a rack, stacking them to keep them soft. Serve immediately (recommended), or cool completely before storing in a plastic bag.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

11 Months - The Power of Booze

Fruitcake Won't Die No bad fruitcake allowedEvery year I make my annual besotted fruitcakes and every year I have some left over. It's not that they're bad, they're DELICIOUS! As a matter of fact, each year I have to make more to accomodate the demand.

Anyway, I always over estimate and we have some left over. Usually, the things sit wrapped-up in our spare refrigerator for a couple of months until we are over the holiday bingefest, then we'll break them out and share again with friends. The longest they've sat was until June or July AND THEY WERE STILL GOOD!

Last nite, we realized we had last year's cakes still wrapped up in the refrigerator. You guys, these were made in October LAST YEAR, and yep, they were still good! The yellow one was a little dry, but nothing that a little basting with cherry brandy didn't fix right away.

I think I'm going to take them into work tomorrow....sshhhh, don't tell my coworkers.

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Chili Paste

Homemade Chili Paste While I’m on a roll regarding the time limit for summer’s produce, I have yet another condiment to share that I cannot do without. You will think this too once you make this Chili Paste.

I love Asian food. I love spicy food. Even better, I love spicy Asian food! So much so that I go through a bottle of Sriracha sauce and its cousin, garlic chili sauce, every few months (sometimes weeks).

Yes, you can make this!
Neither one of them are expensive and they are fairly easy to find in the grocery, but as a rule, food tastes so much better when you make it yourself. When I first made this chili paste, I was like, “¡Ayi Chiuaua! ¡FUEGO! ¡FUEGO!”

You want a piece of me, beeches?
It was hot! But after just 24 hours, it mellowed out into a wonderful sweet, garlicky chili paste with some nice heat. Plus, it literally took minutes to make.

Hubby and I have eaten it on stir fry, soups, stews, take-out-Chinese, burritos, chili, nachos, salsa, really anything where you want some extra heat. So, get your hands on some fresh chili peppers before they are no longer available at the farmer’s markets. This will definitely keep you warm over winter!

homemade chili paste
Chili Paste
Adapted from Andrea Nguyen

3 cups of chili peppers, any variety of your choice ( Jalapeno, Thai, Habanero, etc.) washed and stemmed
8-10 cloves of garlic chopped
1 tablespoon distilled vinegar (I used probably 3)
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar

Note: This is a fresh chili paste that is meant to be stored in the refrigerator.

Roughly chop chillies if using large peppers. Add chillies, garlic, vinegar, salt and sugar in a food processor and pulse until coarsely pureed. Adjust sugar, salt and vinegar to taste. Makes about 1, 12 oz. jar and will last several months in the refrigerator.

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Tomato Basil Butter

Tomato Basil Butter The kids are back in school and that means the days of fresh, summer produce are getting shorter and shorter. August and September are an avalanche of tomatoes and basil, so if you can, take a few minutes to whip up a big batch of Tomato Basil Butter. You’ll be SO glad you did.

tomato basil butter
This amazing compound butter is fantastic on fish, grilled vegetables, garlic bread, and heck even as a base for non-sauced pizzas. And that’s only the tip of the iceberg….stir it in to mashed potatoes, soups, sauces, rice, put a dollop on a searing, grilled steak, smear it on grilled corn, mix it with spinach and use it as a filling for chicken breasts or thighs, OH MY!

Heck, I've even just spread it on warm bread and dug in...mmmmmmmmmmm.

This freezes amazingly well, so you can dip into this lovliness until next summer!

TOMATO BASIL BUTTER

1 Tbs. olive oil
1 1/ 2 cups peeled, seeded and chopped tomatoes (about 1 lb.)
2 tsp. minced garlic
1/ 2 cup sweet butter softened
2 tsp. grated lemon rind
1/ 2 tsp. salt
1/ 8 tsp. pepper
1/ 4 cup minced fresh basil

Heat the olive oil in a small skillet. Add the tomatoes and garlic and sauté, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes or until the tomatoes form a puree that will mound. Let cool.

Put the butter in a mixing bowl and beat in the tomatoes and remaining ingredients. Can be made up to 2 days ahead and refrigerated but best served at room temperature so that it will melt quickly. Freezes well, make a "log", wrap in waxed paper, then Ziploc bags.
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