Friday, March 20, 2009

Baking/Cooking Jag

I took a week off work last week, just because, and have been home this week sick. In the meantime, I've been on quite the jag in my kitchen.

During my timeoff, armed with print-outs of Good Eats transcripts (from Good Eats Fan Page), I made Blueberry Muffins, Very Basic Bread (2 loaves), Mushroom and Asparagus Risotto, and Premium Mint Chip Ice Cream.

The Blueberry Muffins were really good. A bit denser than I expected, but I think that might be from the yogurt. The Very Basic Bread was excellent. The second time I made it, I forgot to glaze it with water and cornstarch and slash it, but it came out better--still had a nice crust, but nothing requiring gnawing to get through.

The Mint Chip Ice Cream is sublime! I had two quarts worth after churning, and it's better than anything I've bought at the store! I used 2t of peppermint extract instead of peppermint oil and got exactly the mint taste I wanted, without the chemical/alcohol aftertaste. This recipe sounds scarier than it is, with the scalding of the dairy and tempering with eggs for a custard, but it wasn't that hard. I did use my mixer to beat the eggs and sugar and temper the custard. The only difference was that I had a foam develop that went away on the second heating to 170 degrees.

A tip on the Risotto--scale this recipe way down. 2 cups of rice is a ton after cooking, and it was hard to ensure a even finish with that much rice. I'm going to try it again, but scaled for 1/2 cup of rice to better control the product. Also, the leftovers heated nicely in the microwave. I also found the mushroom and asparagus paired with leftover roast very well, making me wish I had used beef broth instead of chicken broth.

I tried Pate a Choux to make eclairs and cream puffs. This recipe is easy to put together, but very fussy. I blew out my Ziploc pastry bag on my first try piping, and the dough was very sticky. I didn't get much of a rise, so my eclairs came out the size of circus peanuts. I whipped up a quick whipped cream and stuffed them, then threw them in a Ziploc bag and into the freezer. The frozen "cream puffs" are not bad, but nothing near what I was going for. I think if I try this again, I might use a disher (#20) to get the rough size I want for the eclairs.

After reading the recent news about traces of mercury in high-fructose corn syrup, I bought popsicle molds to make CJ's favorite snack on my own. I made cranberry-grape popsicles that he loves--3 cups Cranberry-Grape Juice (100%), 3/4 cup sugar, and 2 T of lime juice. Stir till dissolved, then pour into molds, assemble sticks, and freeze. They came out very well, and CJ likes them very much. I have a Good Eats fudgsicle recipe to try next.

Monday, I made ham and lentil soup, loosely based on Alton's recipe, and paired it with a fresh loaf of Very Basic Bread. Yummy! Too bad I forgot to add the swiss chard I had intended. Tuesday, as the cold was overtaking me, I was able to make a fresh Chicken Noodle Soup--Chopped half a sweet onion, 3 carrots, and a stalk of celery, a couple cloves of garlic, sweated that in olive oil, then added two chicken leg quarters and 3 qts of water. Add salt, two bay leaves, pepper, a bit of curry powder, a bit of sage, and a bit of turmeric. Bring to boil, then simmer two hours. Pull out the leg quarters to cool, remove the bay leaves, add an 8oz bag of egg noodles and let boil till noodles are done. Meanwhile, remove chicken meat from bones and fat, roughly chop, and add back to pot. Another success, and also very yummy with the leftovers of that loaf of bread.

Right now, I have dough from Suze's recipe for bread rising in the oven, and should be ready to bake it in a few hours. It's coming along nicely--I realized after I got it together I had forgotten to add oil, and I added 2t of honey, so we'll see. I used my mixer to assemble it, per the Very Basic Bread recipe, and that seemed to work.

This weekend, provided I feel better, I plan to make another batch of muffins, the Premium Chocolate Ice Creams, more cranberry popsicles, fudgsicles, and maybe try the risotto again. No pressure.


Jenn-Jenn, the Mother Hen said...

You're making me hungry! STOP! LOL

Mrs. Allroro said...

come to my house (with your kitchenaid)

no, really