Friday, September 12, 2014

Time for Egyptian Cooking!

Hello everyone,

Lately I've been having a love affair with Egypt (especially Ancient Egypt). I believe this all began back in the fifth grade or so when my mom got me some books on mummies (Mummies Made In Egypt, sweet mother of meat, it's totally in a Reading Rainbow episode!!!) and the discovery of King Tut's Tomb. The book is Into The Mummy's Tomb.

I actually made a movie about it, Howard Carter and Lord Carnarvon discovering King Tutankhamun's tomb, not kidding, in the seventh grade(?), starring local kids (who actually wanted to be in a movie I made). I wrote a script and everything. And my teacher picked it to go on to some competition at Weber State, anyway, long story. (I still have the 8mm tape of the movie I made. I need to get it onto YouTube, haha! Or at least on a DVD. Wow, did you guys know about this? I just learned this! Wal-mart will transfer your old 8mm or VHS home movies to DVD, or slides, etc.)

Who knows, maybe I picked the books out myself at the bookstore. She (my mom) is cool and let us buy books. She let my oldest sister buy an expensive textbook on Emergency Medicine! when she was just a wee little thing. The book cost a lot of money and it wasn't exactly what my mom had in mind, and money was tight. But she let my sister buy it, and long story short, my sister is a doctor now, doing family practice medicine. (She almost did emergency medicine.)

It made me want to be an Egyptologist for awhile, until I wanted to be a marine biologist (7th-9th?) (SeaQuest?), and then moved on to an astrophysicist (10th-12th and beyond...). (Stephen Hawking was getting big and I bought and read A Brief History of Time in high school.) Kids are young and impressionable.

I got to feed my Egyptologist addiction again when I got to BYU and in my penultimate year, was trying to fulfill my Ancient Near Eastern Studies minor (basically Biblical Archaeology), realized that a class in hieroglyphs was offered. (A 500 level class, not in my chosen field of study.) I bit the bullet and took it. It was taught by Prof. John Gee. He was kind of intrigued that a physics major was taking his class. It was super hard. I didn't realize this, but there are a lot of (pornographic?) Egyptian hieroglyphics, and, while using my dictionary, I translated the weirdest piece of crap ever, didn't know what to do, wrote an apology at the bottom, and turned it in for credit. I hope he laughed his head off. (Aside from being weirded out.) Things improved as I was too stubborn and determined to drop the class.

I got to learn about Sinuhe and The Shipwrecked Sailor! I wrote a giant report on the Middle Kingdom! I got to read, transliterate, and translate hieroglyphics! And the class was only a semester long, although he taught us what they take a full year to learn at Harvard. Or Cambridge? Or University of Chicago? Or whatever university it was he used in his example?

He actually took pity on me and told us basically what would be on the final. It was us translating an excerpt from The Shipwrecked Sailor. You bet I locked myself in the Lee library and did nothing but translate that thing for eight hours straight and tried to pound it into my head. I think I had a D in the class on homework assignments and translating, but mysteriously pulled myself up to a B after the final. I think he took pity on me with that test score, too. I bet I deserved worse. Oh well, I would have been happy with a C or D because I was TAKING EGYPTIAN HIEROGLYPHICS and it was SO AWESOME! Even if I stunk at it. (Then again, when you are comparing yourself to the grad students taking the course, who have had about 4 years experience already, some had previously taken the class, and were also familiar with Assyrian cuniform, you might come up wanting.

So derailed...


Let's talk about food!

I listen to YouTube videos to help me sleep. It used to be episode of Red Eye with Greg Gutfeld, but then my favorite source (Content Dump, love you) but no new videos went up for awhile and I had listened to the old ones too many times. I started listening to videos about Ancient Egypt and old archaeology sites, and then moved on to Egyptian music (the meditative stuff that goes for an hour is pretty good), and then thought, what the heck, I should start cooking Egyptian food. I am also planning on being Cleopatra (or just some Egyptian lady) for Halloween this year. I've got it BAD.

Here is a great video with flavor profiles and traditional dishes from Egypt. I am so going to start cooking food like this for Adam. (But really, it's more for me.) My Moroccan Chicken Tagine has a similar profile, with the cinnamon and what not, and they even use tagine ovens in Egypt, although they call them something else, tagin or something.

Egyptian Cuisine YouTube Video 1 of 3.

Egyptian Cuisine YouTube Video 2 of 3. (Dang, there is a problem with this video now. Bogus.

Egyptian Cuisine YouTube Video 3 of 3.

It all came from a book. I got hooked on the Amelia Peabody series by *Elizabeth Peters (*not her actual name), who is a lover and actually a scholar of Ancient Egypt. What a fascinating lady, both the author and the main character. I'm having a lot of fun. And the books are so well researched, by an actual Egyptologist. Freaking amazing.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Pizza, Italian (or New York) Style!

Mmm, crusty thin crust. Bubbly, toasty cheese. Classic Margherita flavors on a thin, chewy crust.

Supreme pizza toppings on the freshest, tastiest piece of pizza imaginable.

I wanted to make this. I found what I thought was a good recipe. (More about this later in the process.) The website sat and sat in an open browser on my phone for at least a month. It's hard to make pizza when you've got a four-year-old and four-month-old running your life. It was hard to plan ahead enough to make dough so the dough would be ready when it came time to start cooking at night. Anyway, here's the story. Bad things happened along the way and I thought it would be a disaster, or mediocre at best, but it turned out AMAZING! The best pizza I've ever made. There are some tricks you should know and I'd like to share them with you.

I started making the dough today from this recipe. It looked good. The recipe is from Serendipity Mommy and it's called The Only Pizza Dough Recipe You'll Ever Need.

I only held off on eating it to take photos because I knew the sauce was still so hot, it would burn my mouth off. But get in my BELLY!

I like that the dough included garlic powder, olive oil, and Italian herbs. I don't even know where I found the link. It wasn't through the usual internet search engine like Google. My only beef with the recipe is that I needed to add a lot more flour than what it called for. And that started freaking me out. I also used old bread flour that was past expiration, so maybe that was why the gluten wasn't activating? I don't know. I read up on it and since the flour smelled okay, not like rancid oils, it should have been fine.

I also have a beef with the serving size. Twelve? More like two-and-a-half. The pizzas are no more, and there are only three of us, and one is pint-sized. (To be fair, Adeline really liked it and had a pretty big serving size.)

Things you'll want to do in order to go the extra mile to get that really great, fresh pizza:

-Thin crust, baby. (Choose thin over thick, especially for the Margherita.)
-Use the freshest ingredients you can find. Fresh tomatoes over canned tomatoes for sure! Fresh basil if you've got it. Fresh onion, fresh green pepper, canned olives okay, though.
-Use a pizza stone and preheat it for awhile to fully warm it.
-Let gravity pull the crust, don't roll it with a rolling pin. Use your fingers, and be patient and give it time and more flour to keep it a big circle. Ya know how it's annoying when it snaps back to being small and then you're just eating a tiny, thick pizza? Overcome this. And when it's almost the size you want, use corn meal on the bottom.
-Don't let the pizza dough tear. (If it does, use a little water to get it to stick back together, and then be more careful.) When the dough is getting really thin, put it on the pizza peel (paddle thingy) (or cookie sheet with no edges) for easy transfer to the pizza stone. Use the palms of your hands and finger tips to stretch it a little more on the peel. Make sure flour and/or corn meal is on the bottom so the pizza dough won't stick and it will be easy to transfer to the pizza stone.
-There's a trick to getting the pizza off the peel and onto the stone. This is one of the hardest parts of the pizza process if you don't have a good system. My system is to keep the bottom from sticking to the peel by having enough corn meal and flour under there. Position the peel just above the heated pizza stone in the oven. Gently pick up an edge of the rolled out pizza dough. Slightly tilt the peel and put the edge on the stone. Let the rest of the pizza slide off the peel and it does the job. The worst is when your pizza does an accordion and smashes together on the stone. I hope this doesn't happen to you. Be careful and patient, but not too timid, and you should have some good results.
-Cook the dough all by itself on the stone first for about ten minutes (or until just getting a little golden) and then pull it out, add the toppings, and finish cooking the pizza on the stone. The dough won't get soggy from the sauce and toppings and it will be chewy and wonderful.
-When making Margherita, add a tiny bit of pizza sauce (I cheated and used Whole Foods bottled spaghetti sauce with garlic) and smear it around, then add thinly sliced tomatoes all over (as if they were the sauce), then mozzarella in thin rectangular/almost squarish slices, not too much. let a lot of tomato peek through, then a little basil, also not too much. I don't like the tomatoes on top of the mozzarella. Who does that? There is something sick and wrong about that. Maybe I'm getting more "Italian" and I realize that you shouldn't mess with perfection. (Aka the way it's classically done in the recipe. Don't be creative here, stick with tradition.)

She can't take her eyes off of that good-looking Margherita pizza we made together.

-When making Supreme, add a bit of pizza sauce, but DO NOT OVERDO the sauce. A little goes a long way. This used to be my problem. I would add too much of everything on pizza, especially sauce, and then it was too weighed down and soggy and just mediocre. Shoot for AMAZING! And do not be heavy-handed with toppings.
-Layer the Supreme this way, you'll be glad you did: Sauce on bottom, then any combo of diced onion, sliced green pepper, red pepper, mushrooms (I did large portabella caps diced up, yum!), sliced black olives. Do NOT overload. Then finish with mozzarella cheese on top. And if you're doing pepperoni, the pepperoni goes on the very top, resting on the cheese. This way both the cheese and the pepperoni can get a nice golden toasty look and taste. So so good! Sorry we are getting so nitty-gritty, but believe me, it's important.
-If you're doing a deep dish Chicago style, then you can add tons of sauce and toppings. But you will need to find another recipe for the proper crust. Share it with me if you do, I want to successfully make a good deep dish pizza, like the kind you can get at Pi Pizzeria in St Louis. So so good.

Just some things you'll want handy as you make the dough and pizza. Cornmeal, sauce, pizza slicer. Someday I'll get one of those fancy rocking pizza knives to cut it without pulling the toppings off.

You might want to accessorize your pizza with sparkling grape juice or a salad. I failed and bought flat water that I thought was fizzy, but it came from Tuscany and it tastes like amazing glacier water, so I guess it's all good. (And I had a bottle of Perrier handy to go in the grape juice, and it was delicious.) I thought the labels were especially pretty.

Take me to Tuscany!

Adeline wanted to play with my camera and be a photographer, too! Here's a great photo she took of her pizza.

I'm going to re-post the recipe in case the website goes down. It contains my notes and what I did differently.

Perfect Pizza Dough
By Candy, the Culinary Grad at Serendipity Mommy
(Parentheses mark where Danelle deviated.)


1 C. HOT water (110 degrees F or 45 degrees C)
1 pkg. active dry yeast

2 C. Bread Flour (more like 3 C., 2 C. Bread Flour, 1 C. all-purpose (I had run out of bread flour))
2. tsp. white sugar
2 tbs. olive oil
1 tsp. garlic powder (or fresh minced if you wish)
1 tsp. Italian seasoning
1. tsp. salt


Dissolve the yeast in the water and let it set for ten minutes, it will thicken slightly
Pour the yeast mixture in the mixer bowl
Add the flour and other ingredients leaving the salt for last, the salt will kill the yeast with direct contact so make sure its last to go in.
Beat the dough into a stiff ball.
(It NEVER made a stiff ball, I beat it FOREVER with the dough hook in my stand mixer. Gave up. Added more flour. Didn't really knead it in since my kids started having melt-downs. Figured it was going to turn out mediocre at best.)
If it sticks use a little olive oil on your hands and it will come off. (Olive oil? Let me know if that works for you. I used flour on my hands. It was still sticky, but magic things can happen during the rising phase.)
Cover and let rise to double size, which takes about 25-30 minutes. (Kind of forgot about it during the rising phase while I was nursing a baby and putting her down for a nap. It rose for maybe an hour. It looked pretty good. I touched it and it immediately deflated. Oops. I threw it in the refrigerator to deal with later when it was time to make pizza.)
This recipe made 3 personal 8 inch pizza’s but would make 2-12″ pizzas as well. (Yes, we turned it into 2-12'' pizzas.)

For Pizza: (This is where I deviated to Better Homes and Gardens Instructions for Thin Crust Pizza.)

Heat oven to 375 degrees. (Nope, 425 degrees. (Authentic pizza ovens operate well over 500 degrees, so don't panic. Experiment!) Also, get your pizza stone in there nice and early. Give it a good half hour to heat up to 425 degrees.)

Roll your dough into a round shape with a rolling pin on floured surface if desired OR shape the dough in your hands just working in a circle letting the dough gently stretch. (Just use your fingers and palms and gravity to stretch the dough. You know you've done a good job when it doesn't pull back to being small. Use flour as needed to keep it stretched out and nice and thin. Put it on a peel with flour and corn meal underneath to keep it from sticking, and get ready to cook it without toppings on the pizza stone.)

Place on your pan, make sure you leave some extra at the edges if you want a thick crust there, then add your toppings, Bake for 15-20 minutes. (Just look to the Better Homes and Gardens Pizza and Thin Crust tips for baking instructions. Cook it until the cheese is bubbling and turning a lovely golden color and the crust looks nice and crisp.)

My wonderful sous chef.

In the photo above, she's pictured with the Margherita. Below is the Supreme.

Adeline helped a lot. She was so excited to mix the yeast into the hot water. Adam lets her help him make his famous Sourdough Pancakes (I should include a link for the recipe for that here! - will do soon!) and she loves helping get the yeast going the night before with Daddy. She's getting a lot of hands-on experience with yeast already!

Here she is with the finished Margherita and our make-shift peel with dough ready for cooking. (Don't forget that you add the toppings in the middle of cooking. I know it's a lot of steps, but if you try it a few times, it gets easier and you can do it more quickly.)

Here are the Better Homes and Gardens tips on pizza and thin crust, if needed. You can also just Google it and find it that way.

My stand mixer really needs the grease replaced. I'm pretty sure the grease split and ran out the back. Sometimes some of us forget to put the gear head back down from being tilted and the grease leaked out the back. I didn't realize that's what the nasty oily gunk coming out the back was until a few years later. There are great YouTube videos that will help me with this fix. This seems like a tangent, but since I would need the stand mixer to help make the dough, I didn't want the gears to grind and die while I'm trying to make this, so it's one reason I have been putting off making this recipe. I wanted to service the stand mixer first. I need to find some time to address adding more grease to the gear box. I have never done this before and it's freaking me out. I just ordered the stand mixer grease today from Amazon, along with some Italian 00 flour for making super pizza dough! And a pizza peel, our other one went kaput. We are not operating on full cylinders here. None of these things will arrive in time for me to make the pizza tonight. I am looking forward to making a lot more pizza. It's been awhile. And I actually thought that the cookie sheet worked very well as a peel. Maybe I shouldn't have ordered one. Darn.

I'm in pizza heaven. Best and freshest supreme I've ever had. We all love pepperoni around here.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Two Chefs That Have Recently Intrigued Me

Their names are Heston Blumenthal and Rene Redzepi.

Heston Blumenthal has brought a sense of childlike wonder and some scientific magic to his cooking, elevating it and making himself a big name in the United Kingdom and abroad. His Michelin three-star rated restaurant, the Fat Duck, is one of four honored restaurants in the UK. His restaurant is not far from London. If money were no object, I would like to go someday.

I would also like to read all the books he has written. He seems happy to share what he's learned, and he even has a podcast. What a homie. And I do love my English breakfast.

Heston Blumenthal's Golden Ticket Ride on the Breakfast Express.
video one.
video two.

I just heard about Rene Redzepi tonight. Actually, a foodie was tearing him apart in his blog and said that his food is overrated, but it got me interested. Redzepi is supposed to have reinvented and elevated Scandinavian cooking. I was looking into my family history a few years ago and was specifically interested in "how American" I was or what part of my genetic makeup was from where. About 1/16 of me is from the Boston area from the 1600s, but mostly it was United Kingdom immigrants between 1850-1890. Or so I thought. About 1/4 of my dad's side comes from Sweden (with a small sprinkling of Danish) and about 1/4 of my mom's side comes from Denmark. I checked it out and those Danes in my family tree hail from the opposite side of where a lot of Adam's family comes from. But it makes me laugh that I am about 1/4 Scandinavian. (I *do* love to claim those Scottish roots, my mom's maiden name is McRae, but statistically speaking, I am not that Scottish (sadly).)

Anyway, I wanted to see what recipes Rene Redzepi had and to start making them and do a little Scandinavian cooking. Sounds like FUN! Sounds like...


Two of his recipes are listed below.

Redzepi’s Rules

1. “Think of the meat as a condiment: A vegetable broth with a few drops of chicken stock or some bacon added to a dish can do wonders.”

2. “Like when you’re beginning an exercise routine, you can’t just say one day, ‘Okay, I’m going to cook predominantly vegetables.’ It takes effort and it hurts. But soon it becomes something that you need.”

3. “This is like eating maize or tapas. Make a variety of boiled, steamed, and roasted things with a few cool condiments. The meal gets prolonged, and the conversations get longer as well.”

4. “Have a well-stocked pantry with items that work with whatever you find at the market: a homemade pesto, good anchovies, miso, soy, preserved lemons.”

5. “This is how I started to make vegetables at home. Put a pot of boiling water on, plop some vegetable in it, and lift it out when it’s perfectly cooked. Then add a fistful of any herb you’re in love with, some oil or butter, and taste it. Let this be your guide: How does it taste? What else can I do with it?”

Sourdough Toasts With Mushrooms and Oysters
Rene Redzepi, via Bon Appetit blog.

8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, divided
6 1/2-inch-thick diagonal slices sourdough baguette, or 3 slices sourdough country loaf, halved
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 pounds small mushrooms (such as chanterelles, morels, crimini, or button mushrooms), brushed clean (halved if large)
Kosher salt
1/3 cup heavy cream
12 fresh oysters, shucked, chopped, drained (optional)
2 small shallots, minced
1 tablespoon finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
12 very thin slices lardo (optional)


Melt 2 Tbsp. butter in a large heavy skillet over medium heat. Add 3 bread slices and toast until golden and crisp, about 3 minutes. Add 1 Tbsp. butter to skillet; turn bread and toast until golden and crisp, about 3 minutes longer. Transfer toasts to a wire rack; let cool. Repeat with remaining 3 bread slices and 3 Tbsp. butter. DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 hour ahead. Let stand at room temperature.
Wipe skillet clean. Heat oil in skillet over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms and sauté, tossing frequently, until lightly colored but still firm, about 2 minutes. Season with salt and transfer one third of mushrooms to a plate. Add 2 Tbsp. butter and cream to skillet. Bring to a simmer; cook until cream is very thick and mushrooms are well coated in sauce, 3–4 minutes. Stir in oysters, if using, and shallots and parsley.
Divide toasts among plates; spoon mushroom mixture over. Top with reserved mushrooms. Lay 2 slices lardo over each toast, if using. Serve immediately.
Appetizers, Copenhagen, Mushroom Recipes, Oyster Recipes, Recipes From Rene Redzep

Walnut Cake
Found here at Bon Appetit, too.

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pan
6 tablespoons raw sugar, divided
7 cups walnut halves
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups almond flour or almond meal
3/4 cup granulated sugar
6 large eggs
3/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup plain whole-milk yogurt
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
Whipped cream


Preheat oven to 350°. Butter a 13x9x2" metal or glass baking dish; sprinkle bottom evenly with 3 Tbsp. raw sugar. Set aside.

Pulse walnuts in a food processor until coarsely chopped. Set 2 cups aside. Add all-purpose flour to processor and pulse until walnuts are very finely ground, 1–2 minutes. Add almond flour; pulse to blend. Set aside.
Using an electric mixer, beat 1 cup butter and granulated sugar in a large bowl until light and fluffy, 2–3 minutes. Add eggs, cream, yogurt, and salt. Scrape in seeds from vanilla bean (reserve bean for another use). Beat until well combined, 1–2 minutes. Add ground-walnut mixture and beat just to blend. Gently fold in chopped walnuts, being careful not to overmix. Pour batter into prepared dish; smooth top. Sprinkle with remaining 3 Tbsp. raw sugar.
Bake until cooked through and a tester inserted into center comes out clean, 50–55 minutes. Let cool in pan on a wire rack. Serve with whipped cream. DO AHEAD: Can be made 3 days ahead. Cover and chill. Cake is best served cold.
Cake Recipes, Copenhagen, Dessert, Recipes From Rene Redzepi, Rene Redzepi

Autumn and Halloween Recipe Linkfest - My Recipe "To Do" List

My friends have been posting yummy looking recipes online. I usually "like" them in my Facebook feed and then forget about them, then wish I had the recipe later. But I saw a great one for Pumpkin Apple Streusel Muffins and my daughter and I LOVE making muffins together in the morning. Then we might have a little tea party brunch and eat the fresh muffins, and then save the leftovers in a ziploc baggy to freeze in the freezer and munch on later or pack as a snack on an outing. So many options for leftovers. The Caramel Spiced Pumpkin Parfaits just look amazing.

Here are some of the recipes. I hope to update and let you know how they turned out and if they are going to join my repetoire. The pumpkin apple muffin one has streusel. Everyone loves streusel on their muffins! My husband doesn't like pumpkin so more for me and my daughter.

Pumpkin Pie Spice Recipe
From I already have a great taco seasonings recipe and a fajita seasonings recipe in my recipe book. I need to whip up some pumpkin pie spice and have it ready to go when I need it.
Recipe can be found through this link.

"Use this mixture in recipes that call for pumpkin pie spice. A blend of cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and allspice that can be scaled to any size."
4 tablespoons ground cinnamon
4 teaspoons ground nutmeg
4 teaspoons ground ginger
3 teaspoons ground allspice
1. In a small bowl, combine all ingredients and mix well. Store in air tight container. Makes 8 tablespoons.

Pumpkin Apple Streusel Muffins
5 out of 5 34 ratings
Muffin recipe link here.

Prep: 20 mins
Cooking: 30 mins
Cooling: 5 mins
Yields:24 muffins
Pumpkin Apple Streusel Muffins are moist and delicious with cinnamon streusel topping that makes these muffins memorable!


2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups granulated sugar
1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups LIBBY'S® 100% Pure Pumpkin
2 large eggs
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 cups apples, peeled, cored and finely chopped
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons butter or magarine


PREHEAT oven to 350º F. Grease or paper-line 24 muffin cups.

COMBINE flour, sugar, pumpkin pie spice, baking soda and salt in large bowl. Combine pumpkin, eggs and oil in medium bowl; mix well. Stir into flour mixture just until moistened. Stir in apples. Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups, filling three-fourths full.

COMBINE sugar, flour and cinnamon in medium bowl. Cut in butter with pastry blender or two knives until mixture is crumbly. Sprinkle over muffin batter.

BAKE for 30 to 35 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans for 5 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool slightly.

Caramel Spiced Pumpkin Parfait
By way of Slow Roasted Italian blog.
By way of Parade Magazine blog.

20 min.
20 min.

Caramel Sauce:
1 (11-oz) bag vanilla caramels, unwrapped
½ cup heavy cream
Pumpkin Mousse:
4 oz cream cheese, softened
1 (15-oz) can pure pumpkin, (not pie filling)
1 cup heavy cream
¼ cup brown sugar, packed
2 tsp ground cinnamon
⅛ tsp ground ginger
⅛ tsp ground nutmeg
Brown Sugar Whipped Cream:
2 cups heavy cream
¼ cup brown sugar, packed
Cookie Layer:
4 graham cracker sheets
4 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 Tbsp brown sugar

Prepare caramel sauce: Place unwrapped caramels and cream in a microwave safe bowl and heat until melted. Stop microwave and stir every 30 seconds. Once you have a smooth mixture, set aside to cool.

Prepare Mousse: Combine ingredients in a medium bowl. Beat with an electric mixer on medium until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Place in refrigerator while you prepare the remaining ingredients.

Prepare Whipped Cream: In a tall bowl whip cream with an electric mixer until soft peaks form. Add brown sugar and whip until stiff peaks form (when you lift mixer out of bowl, cream stands up on the end of the beater). Place in refrigerator while you prepare the next layer.

Prepare Cookie Layer: In a small bowl combine ingredients, smash graham crackers with a fork. Continue mashing until you have one cohesive mixture.

Assemble: Add a heaping tablespoon of cookie mixture to trifle dish. Add a heaping tablespoon of mousse. Add a heaping tablespoon of whipped cream. Pour 2 tablespoons of caramel sauce into dish. Repeat layers. Drizzle final caramel layer on top of trifle for spectacular presentation.

Chill until ready to serve. Enjoy!


Shortcut suggestions: Substitute a jar of caramel sauce and container of whipped topping to create a shortcut version of this fabulous treat.

Serves 4.

Salmon Chowder or Fish Chowder, either way it's soo good!

I have to post my version of this recipe from Simply Recipes by Elise Bauer. Here is a link to the original Fish Chowder recipe.

Love this recipe. It just works. I do some substitutions or just plum leave things out, but maybe one day, I will follow it to the letter. (Basically I leave out the white wine and the clam juice. I don't normally have them on hand. Sometimes I'll add a dash of vinegar to mimic the white wine, but don't be heavy-handed about it! And I might substitute just a tiny bit of Worcestershire sauce and pretend it's clam juice. It does have anchovy juice in it.)

Sometimes I can't help myself and add a little dried dill. My husband also isn't a big fan of dill, so I don't get it often and it just seems to go so hand-in-hand with fish dishes anyway. I will also cheat with the potatoes and sometimes get them softening in the microwave, to save on cooking time. I'm such a little cheater! But I like saving time!

I will use either frozen halibut or canned Alaskan salmon (the cheap, yummy, bone-filled, lower-mercury kind) in the recipe. Again, it depends on what I have on hand. I don't bother deboning the salmon bones, they are pretty edible anyway and they are good for you. If I'm going to serve some to others or drop the soup off for a friend, I'll remove more bones just to make it more appetizing for them.

And I usually won't have so much cream on hand, sometimes none, so I'll just make it with whole milk or figure something out. Milk will scorch faster than cream, so watch out! I know, I'm probably too loosy-goosy here, but I've had really great results. I've made it a few times a few ways and I've always loved it. Since I'm the only big fish eater here in the house, I'll either cut the recipe amounts in half or just store it in the fridge and have it a few days for lunch. Mm. Enjoy that chowder, and don't let fish haters in your house stop you from enjoying yourself!


Salmon Chowder Recipe
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 40 minutes

1 Tbsp olive oil
1 teaspoon butter
2 medium yellow onions, chopped (about 2 cups)
1/2 cup dry white wine (optional)
3 large Yukon Gold potatoes (about 1 1/4 pounds), peeled, cut into 3/4-inch cubes
2 cups clam juice (optional)
1 bay leaf
1 Tbsp fresh thyme, or 1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon Old Bay (optional, can use a little paprika and a dash of cayenne)
1 1/2 to 2 lbs wild pink Alaskan canned salmon (or fresh salmon or cod, etc.)
1 1/2 cups heavy cream or milk (but watch out for scorching if you don't use cream)
2 Tbsp chopped fresh (or dried) parsley

1 Heat oil and butter in the bottom of a large pot (6-qt) on medium heat. Add the onions and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the wine, if using, and turn up the heat, cook, uncovered until the wine reduces by half. (If not using wine, add 1/4 cup of water with the clam juice.)

2 Add the potatoes, clam juice, bay leaf, thyme, salt and pepper, and Old Bay spice. (The potatoes should be just barely covered with the liquid in the pot. If not, add water so that they are.) Bring to a simmer, then lower the heat to medium and cook, covered, until the potatoes are almost done, about 10-15 minutes. (Sometimes I will cheat and use baked potatoes cut in cubes. You can cook them in the microwave and add them toward the end.)

3 In a separate pot, heat the cream until steamy (not boiling).

4 Add the fish to the pot of potatoes and add the heated cream. Return to the stove. Cook on low heat, uncovered, until the fish is just cooked through, about 10 minutes. Keep your eye on the heat! If you are using straight heavy cream you should be more easily able to avoid curdling, even if the soup starts to boil. But if you are substituting light cream, half and half, or milk, the mixture will likely curdle if it gets near boiling point (one of the reasons I like using straight heavy cream). Keep the temperature so that it barely gets steamy, but not simmering. If using fresh fish, when the fish is just cooked through, remove from heat.

Mix in the parsley. The flavors will improve if the soup rests 30 minutes before serving.

Serve with crusty bread or oyster crackers (not for gluten-free version).

Yield: Serves 6.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

I Must Not Forget This Dinner - Swiss Alps Chalet Style


Okay, best dinner in awhile. Except we had the lime pork tenderloin again the other day and that was still pretty good.

Here's what's up. It just snowed today in Albuquerque, gave us a nice dusting in the city and the nearby Sandia mountains look nice and covered. It's been cold, it's been windy, we got big, fat flakes for a little while and Adeline wanted to go run around the neighborhood with me in the flakes. It was fun! After some 50 and 60 degree F temps, it was starting to feel like winter again with the 30 to 40 F (it's still February, after all!) and we went with it.

Somebody pinned a yummy looking asparagus dish on Pinterest. It looked good but I didn't pin it. Going back, Pinterest has a pretty bad search engine so it was hard to find what I was looking for, and I don't remember who pinned it. I found some other even better looking asparagus dishes. Then I just had to get asparagus, puffed pastry, smoky Gouda (was supposed to be Gruyere, oops!), and prosciutto (for another day).

::Swiss Alps Ski Chalet Dinner breakdown::

-Fresh Express Sweet $ Crunchy (on sale at Albertsons) with green and red butter lettuce
-Topped with diced bits of Golden Delicious apples and a little bit of grated smoked Gouda
-Lightly drizzled with Braswell's (cheap at Ross, if they still have it) Vidalia Onion and Peppercorn

Main Entrees
-Pan-fried chicken breast with salt, pepper, a little Balsamic, and some Herbs de Provence on top, just a hint
-The Tart de Resistance - The Asparagus Tart with Gruyere, er, well, smoky Gouda, because I messed up. It was still super-good! Made me think of a cheese fondue with asparagus!

Side Dish
-Golden Delicious apple slices on a plate (keep the cheesy fondue chalet theme going!)
-Pasta Roni Shells & White Cheddar in case your toddler is fussy and won't eat the tart, and also if your chicken is a little dry because you slightly overcooked it

Heavenly! I took pictures of the tart, but the girl who originally posted the recipe has better picture. I had one minute to snap mine before the hungry masses wrestled the camera away from me so we could fill our hungry bellies. I try to have dinner ready at 6 p.m., but tonight it was more like 6:30 p.m. And the tart technically only takes a little over a half-hour to make and bake!

I went all out, but it was fun. It was another successful cooking adventure! Heeya! Onto the next one.


I'm going to repost the recipe in case her webpage goes down or something.

Asparagus Tart with Gruyere
Shaina Olmanson is the home cook and photographer behind Food for My Family and Olmanson Photography, and a daily contributor to’s Family Kitchen Blog.
Inspired by Martha.
Yield: 4-6 servings

1 sheet puff pastry dough, thawed
1 pound thin asparagus spears
1/3 cup sour cream
2 egg yolks
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
3/4 cup Gruyère, shredded (I got and used smoky Gouda, but I do know there is a difference. It's hard chasing a toddler around a grocery store. Try it sometime! It's like the shopping Olympics! The 100 meter dash!)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Unfold puff pastry dough and Roll into a 14x10" rectangle on a lightly floured surface. Move the puff pastry to a parchment-lined baking sheet. Score the dough 1" from the edge all around the rectangle with a knife. Dock the inside rectangle by poking it lightly with a fork in approximately 1/2" spaces. Bake for 15 minutes.
While the pastry is baking, prepare your asparagus spears by rinsing and removing the woody ends. Set aside. In a small bowl, mix together sour cream, egg yolks and Dijon mustard. Stir in 1/4 cup of the Gruyère.
Remove the puff pastry from the oven and spread the sour cream mixture evenly over the inside rectangle. Top with the remaining Gruyère cheese and layer with the asparagus spears. Return to the oven and bake for 15 additional minutes until cheese begins to brown lightly and asparagus is cooked.
Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly. Slice using a pizza cutter and serve.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Pork Tenderloin double whammy adventure. Honey Lime Chipotle Pork Tenderloin

I love promptings. I bought a pork tenderloin but I didn't realize that two were in the package. I found the Pork Wellington recipe and thought that was going to be the end of it, but I also found another great pork tenderloin recipe that was the runner-up. When I was out ingredient shopping for the Wellington, I just figured that maybe I should get the ingredients for the Honey Lime Chipotle recipe too, even though I would have to go and buy another pork tenderloin, or so I thought!

Imagine my surprise and pleasure when I opened the package and was surprised by TWO pork tenderloins. Well, if I was smart and had read the instructions, then I would have realized that there were two inside. But it was still a happy surprise, and it made our dinners even cheaper in the long run! We are trying to save money. Save money that we don't even have. Long sob story. But hopefully the silver lining will be visiting us soon when this year is up.

Onto the recipe! The marinade is AMAZING! Like, dip-your-finger-in-there-multiple-times-to-get-a-taste kind of goodness! I found myself drizzling it on chips after dinner and it made them taste like those FABULOUS Hint of Lime Tostitos that I could pig out on. I am wanting to make it right now! I put it on salad, I could put it on anything! Yogurt, ice cream, sure! Why not? Oh, I should clarify. It's the sauce that is saved for the drizzling later, the sauce that DOESN'T have the chipotle pepper/adobo sauce in it, not the one that the meat actually sits and marinades in.

Here's the recipe. It's been slightly tweaked from the Alton Brown Food Network one, slightly improved, I would say. The recipe is doubled and there are some slight changes, like the browning of the meat. I will include the link and also the recipe in its entirety. Please enjoy!

You can enjoy it with your eyes first, and then with your MOUTH! (Ya know, when you get around to making it for yourself and/or your family.)

Honey Lime Chipotle Pork Tenderloin
By Alton Brown, tweaked by Chaos in the Kitchen.

serves 6, prep 15 min, marinate overnight or as long as possible, cook 20 min
• 2 lbs pork tenderloin (2 small tenderloins)
• 1 cup lime juice, about 8 juicy limes
• zest from 2 limes
• 1/2 cup honey
• 1 tbsp kosher salt
• 1 tsp garlic powder
• 2 chipotle chiles in adobo sauce, chopped
• 1 tbsp adobo sauce (from canned chilies)
• peanut oil, or other high temperature oil
• cilantro

1. Trim tenderloins of fat and silver skin as much as possible. Place in a large ziplock bag or other container to marinate.
2. In a bowl combine lime juice, zest, honey, salt, and garlic powder.
3. Stir to combine, then pour half over tenderloins, reserving half for sauce.
4. To tenderloins add chiles and adobo sauce. Seal and marinade in fridge.
5. About 30 minutes before you are ready to cook, remove pork from fridge and allow to come to room temperature.
6. Preheat oven to 425°F. In a large, heavy oven-proof skillet (like a cast iron skillet), heat enough oil to coat over medium high temperature.
7. Remove tenderloins from marinade and sear in hot skillet on all sides.
8. Place the skillet in the oven and roast tenderloins for about 15 min.
9. Check temperature with an instant read thermometer. Remove pork from the oven at approximately 140-145, cover pork in skillet with foil. Let rest on the counter for 5-10 minutes or until temperature rises to 150.
10. Remove pork to a cutting board, pour reserved lime juice mixture into skillet with meat juices and heat on high.
11. Allow sauce to reduce and thicken slightly, then pour over sliced pork tenderloins. If you don’t have enough sauce or it thickens too much you can add a little water and continue simmering it until it is the quantity and thickness you want.
12. Garnish with freshly chopped cilantro.
If you choose to grill, start at step 5 and grill your tenderloins about 15 minutes. Remove from the grill to a platter at 140°F. Pour reserved lime juice mixture over meat and cover with foil. Allow to rest 10 minutes. Then slice, garnish with cilantro and serve.
Pork tenderloin is very lean and requires a gentle hand to keep it from drying out. If you choose to use a pork loin it will require longer cooking time and not be as tender.