Oh boy I have missed a tonne of blog events!

Not because I wanted to, but I did not have time to do the blogging part!

At least I did the cooking/baking part. Now I have all these pictures of food but no posts. :-(

So here we go again, with yet ANOTHER round up from me. (This is becoming a bad habit!)

This particular cake actually wasn't for a round up - I had just been wanting to make it since I read about it in Dorie's book, but couldn't with all the peanuts in it! So when we had the opportunity last weekend to go to my mother's house, where there is no nut allergy restriction, I bought a big thing of peanuts and got baking!

Okay, I also got a little carried away with the peanuts. Yes, I should have measured them out, but I didn't!

As a result, I ended up with a very nice dense brownie cake, loaded with caramel drenched peanuts that was rich and filling! I believe my grandfather ate two pieces. Personally, I couldn't finish mine!

It was fun, however, trying to figure out how to make things in my mom's kitchen, which isn't as well stocked as mine in for baking. I went shopping for ingredients and improvised the rest!

This next was supposed to be my entry for Hay Hay its Donna Day Caesar Salad (which right now I could not even tell you who hosted!) (Or not, it is being hosted by Katie of Other's People Food, a page I have had open on my computer for this event for the last few weeks! Sheesh! I am even more out of it than I thought!)

It was a simple salad, mostly because I forgot to pick up croutons or bread to make my own, but still packed with flavor!

The dressing for it came from the Michael Smith Chef at Home book that I had taken out from the library (and unfortunately returned late before I even finished reading it!)

And unfortunately, even before I remembered to jot down the recipe for this dressing and the last one I had made from the book. This dressing, however, was called Lemon Parmessan, which describes it well. I didn't go for the bacon fat option, even though I had the fresh bacon there and the fat, nor did I use the anchovies, but that was mostly because I did not have any.

This last one makes me sad. I so wanted to get a burger in to Paul and Freya's Big Burger Ballyhoo! I had planned early for a burger but the schedules around here meant that I couldn't make my burger until near the end of the deadline! Then I missed sending mine in!

Anyways, this was my burger, my Mexican style burger served with warm tortilla chips, topped with jalapeno monterey jack cheese, red onions, leaf lettuce and restaurant style salsa. It was very tasty and messy, just how I like my burgers, and the flavors of the red onions, cumin, cilantro and tabasco sauce in the burger were a nice combination.

I didn't take down exact measurements for what went into it, but it went something like this:

1 1/2 pounds medium ground beef
1/3 red onion, finely chopped
several dashes of tabasco sauce
1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon cumin, depending on how much you like cumin
2-3 tablespoons chopped cilantro
salt and pepper

I bbq'd my burgers over a medium high heat, toasted my buns and added the cheese to the burger while it was still on the grill. The salsa I bought from my local store (it is quite good) but you could easily make your own. Just use one with some cilantro in it so it compliments the burger.

In writing this I discovered I was actually not late for one event, and I had a recipe that I had made specifically for it! So now I need to make sure I write the post before the deadline passes and I miss another one I wanted to do!

Great minds think alike: The Daring Baker's May Challenge!

I'm being a bit presumptuous here, but then after this challenge, I think I earned it!

As our Daring Baker's group grew larger and larger, and voting became more and more difficult, our lovely founders Lis and Ivonne came up with a plan! Each of us would be assigned a month, based on the order of our joining the group, and for that month, we would be responsible for picking the recipe and setting the rules. With so many of us now, that was totally reasonable, even though some people are so far down on the list right now that they don't get to pick until 2009 or later!

My month was supposed to be July, but we are also a flexible group and I had the option of trading with someone as I will be away for a good chunk of July. Instead I get to pick next month's theme!

Quite awhile ago I had decided that for my June choice I was going to do cream puffs! I'd never made choux paste before and thought the lightness of the recipe would be a good idea. So did Helen, this month's recipe choser, and Anita, her partner in crime! (We can also team up if we want to.)

See? Great minds think alike!

I admit I'd also been considering something with puff pastry, which I can also no longer do, as this months challenge, Gateau Sainte Honore requires puff pastry as well as cream puffs! And an amazingly good pastry cream! Plus caramel! Can you say CALORIES?

Helen and Anita were kind in the rules this month: you did not have to make the puff pastry, you could use store bought. Since I happened to have a package of puff pastry in the freezer when the recipe was posted, I was able to immediately try it. I also decided I wanted to do a comparison between store bought puff pastry and home made (which I also wanted to try my hand at making.)

Just like I did with croissants, my first step (actually second, my first step being to take the pastry out of the freezer,) was to post up the recipe and mark it by steps. I did this with the crepe cake recipe as well and will likely do so for follow-up challenge recipes. Sure, my friends and family get a sneak peek at what we are making, but they all know that if they tell, they won't get to eat!

I did plan on making the puff pastry myself, and trying the recipe with both home made and store bought puff pastry. And I have made the puff pastry (which involved me pounding on sticks of butter with my rolling pin, BAM BAM BAM!) I just haven't at this point tried the recipe with it (as of Saturday at 6:30pm, which doesn't mean that by the time I hit publish tomorrow I won't have done so.)

Cream puff dough, also called choux pastry, is actually fairly simple to make once you realize you can use a mixer or food processor to mix in the eggs, rather than by hand. Sure, it isn't the traditional way but then I'm okay with that! Aren't my little cream puffs cute?

And the base of the gateaux, puff pastry on the bottom, choux paste pipped in circles on top, looks pretty neat too. Though I admit after eating it I wasn't sure what purpose the puff pastry served, other than to act as a stable base. I didn't find it contributed anything to the flavor.

The other rule set by Helen and Anita for this months challenge involved the size of the cakes we made, and the flavoring of the pastry cream. The recipe called for rum. And while we don't drink and there usually isn't much of any alcohol in my house, I admit, I do have rum. A full bottle of it from the Dominican Republic. Never opened. And still not opened. I used clear vanilla (since we could not add anything that would change the color of the cream.)

OMG I could have eaten that cream for breakfast! And I've since learned it makes an amazing ice cream! (I so can't wait to try that and may end up making my second attempt at the challenge tonight, very last minute, just so I can have some cream to put in the ice cream maker!)

Size wise I went two ways - about a 4 inch circle, making 3 little guys with teeny little cream puffs, and an 8 inch with slightly bigger cream puffs. My children each shared a little one (and informed me they did not like cream puffs or puff pastry, something they have both reminded me of several times since - though my youngest child has told me that when he is a grown up, he will make his own puff pastry too!)

I admit the funnest part of this challenge, aside from eating this very tasty dessert, was playing with the caramel! I wonder if the local college offers short classes on sugar and it's manipulation? Cause I have so much fun trying to make sugar hair (not much luck this time) and pulling the fast cooling sugar into cool shapes! I heated and reheated that pan so many times, the next time I think I will use the Alton Brown trick of putting the pot on a heating pad set to low!

Despite my ideas for the June challenge being pre-empted by Helen and Anita, I enjoyed this challenge! I got to make a bunch of new things I had never made before (and that list is getting shorter every month!) And I enjoyed eating them too! Especially the left over cream, which I took to work in a thermos to eat like pudding! Mmmmm.....

Thanks for choosing this recipe ladies! (And don't forget to check out all the other Daring Baker's efforts - see their links on the sidebar!)

Oh and btw, if you want the recipe for this, Helen (Tartlette) and Anita (Dessert First) should be posting it, so you have another reason to check out their sites!

Sunday morning, 8:30 am. I have made a second batch using the homemade puff pastry but have not yet completed assembling them. Long, thin ones, rather than round, were better in theory, however, than reality. My puff pastry puffed, though! My cream puffs, however, look like decapitated snowmen. No idea why, they just baked that way. Oh well, it will be an original gateaux!

I'm off for now to take my kids by bus to downtown Ottawa where they hope to get a few glimpses of their father as he runs past them. Marathoners! (I am either stupid or brave, not sure which one right now!)

I am going to publish now but will add another extra later to say how the homemade puff pastry compares.


Homemade puff pastry seems to be much sweeter than the store bought stuff. This time it actually contributed to the flavor (though I admit I skipped the caramel for this second batch and used a shaving of white chocolate to decorate instead.) Need to try out the puff on a few different things before I decide if I want to do it again, but for now I am happy with how it came out.

Now I bet you are expecting a recipe from Dorie!

Sorry to disappoint!

Actually, no I'm not. I loved this stuff. As odd as it looks, I loved every bite of it! Which I did not have to share!

Okay, little story....

Many years ago my husband and I went on a date downtown. I don't know why but we ended up going out for gelato and I decided to try the kiwi. It was so good!

Later, when I was pregnant with my youngest, I had a rare craving... for kiwi gelato. My husband, however, does not believe in running out at 3 am to satisfy a pregnant woman's cravings (even if he had been able to, the store long closed, far away and they probably wouldn't have had any anyways!) The craving was never satisfied.

About a month before I was due, we were downtown again, having dinner with friends. I was not feeling well at all, so when he asked me if I wanted to go, I just wanted to go home! Turns out I was in pre-labor - I gave birth 36 hours later, early. (I should have sent him to get me the stuff while we were there, so I could bring it home with me!)

It's been over 4 years since I've had the chance to go back to that gelato place, since that early labor, and I've not seen kiwi gelato anywhere else during the years. So I was disappointed when they didn't have any, and ordered the key lime instead (which was amazingly good!) When we got to the cash, I asked if they had any prepacked of kiwi. She responded by handing me a tiny spoonful of the gelato and said it was the last of the batch and sorry, they did not carry prepacks anymore.

So I had to make my own!

With nothing to go on but a brief taste, and the memory from years back, I went web searching. Isn't the web a wonderful place sometimes?

This is what I found.

Now I'm not sure if this is even close to what they make downtown. And that's actually okay. It was tangy, not too sweet, and soothing.

I doubled the batch. I only had 8 kiwi, but did it anyways.

Oh my was it good!

Now I wonder if I can recreate the key lime pie flavor?

The tradition carries on - with a twist!

The cookie party morphed into a steak and cake party (I made the Red Velvet and my HHDD cheesecake for that party), which has once again morphed, but this time into a cookie party!

(Good, cause I needed a break from cake!)

I didn't go getting creative for my contribution - I asked the birthday boy to pick what he wanted me to make. I know I left myself wide open to him picking anything, but it was a risk I felt I needed to take.

How bad could it be?

Well, let me tell you....

He picked Chocolate chocolate chip cookies. Expectations when it comes to chocolate chip cookies can be very high. And as my baking skills increase, expectations for anything I make keeps growing high as well. The pressure was on!

So where else would I turn to but back to Dorie and her My best chocolate chip cookies. The 'Playing Around' side bar had the variation for cocoa chocolate chip cookies, which was exactly what I needed.

I don't normally make drop cookies in the stand mixer, but that's what the recipe called for. Probably a good thing, though. I was feeling very lazy and mixing by hand would probably have been too much work for me just then.

Dorie calls for chunks of bittersweet chocolate, which I had lots of, but like I said, I was in a lazy mood. I also had lots of opened bags of chocolate chips. So I went with the chips instead. Of course two of the bags looked exactly alike, but weren't - I had forgotten to mark which bag was semi-sweet and which was milk chocolate. As much as I like chocolate, I do not like eating chips straight. So rather than try to taste test them and figure them out, I added both, making chocolate chocolate chocolate chip cookies.

I brought two dozen of them to our friends cookies party, where they were hmmmm'd and mmmmm'd over. Soft, slightly chewy, and very chocolaty.

Once again, Dorie does not let me down.

If you are looking for the recipe for this cookie, try page 69. I'd copy the recipe but then you'd have no incentive to go out and get your own copy of the book! (Or if you have it already - why haven't you made these yet?!? Oh wait, cause the whole book is good and we can only make things so fast!)

You know, since I bought this book, I have made a tonne of things from it (and I admit, I still haven't actually finished reading it!) And I don't think I've repeated a single recipe yet. Still so many to try.

Now if you will excuse me, there are some of the cookies left and they are calling my name.....

Falling behind again!

Funny how work, kids and company does that. I'm getting the opportunities to cook and bake, but having no time to do more than take the pictures and eat the results!

So here is a "quick" round up of what I've been doing lately - a mix of desserts, decorating and dinner.

To start, I went "home." I don't mean I went to my mother's house. Or even my grandmother's. No, I went back to my favorite cookbook, Dorie's Baking From my Home to Yours. I hadn't visited it in a few recipes and still had lots I wanted to make from it.

In this case I had company coming, my mother-in-law and father-in-law, and had had a request on their last visit for a white cake from my mother-in-law. She hadn't been entirely serious about her request, but any excuse to bake is a good excuse, isn't it? And white is just a color, not a flavor, so Dorie's Perfect Party Cake, a white cake with hints of lemon and raspberry, was the perfect choice.

I admit I had a bit of doubt about this cake at one point. Not the cake itself, but the icing, which involves making a meringue on the stove, then whipping it in the mixer, then adding the butter. When I tasted it, it really didn't have any flavor. All that butter and no flavor!

I should never have doubted Dorie though - layered with the lemony cake and raspberry jam, the frosting was a light touch. On it's own it still had no flavor, but it worked well with the rest of the cake. The coconut on the outside was also a very nice touch and added an extra something special to the cake. We enjoyed it while watching the Sens win over New Jersey - Go Sens Go!

Next we have another cake decorating effort. Not a wonderful effort, though. I had thought I had sprained my wrist (and hence had to cancel going to my next set of cake classes - insert strong swearing here), but have seen my doctor since then and she thinks it might be tendonitis and is sending me for some physio. Despite this, I attempted to decorate a simple white cake for my babysitter, who was having her second cast removed from her foot after a surgery over 2 months ago. I knew both she and her mother (who happens to be a co-worker) were both emotional basketcases about what would happen that day (would she need a third cast? would she be allowed to walk on her foot?) and that this would break some tension for them. And it worked great!

I'm still mighty miffed about not being able to go to class but hopefully the physio will work and when soccer season ends for both my children (at the end of summer), I will be able to get back into classes with no problems. And learn a bit more how to decorate using my left hand!

(ranting off - back to pictures and food!)

I've talked alot about my grandparents in my blog. They have always been an important part of my life. Sadly, their own health has been declining more and more lately. And how far hit home with me on Monday, May 7th. It was my grandfather's 79th birthday that day. For as long as I can remember, my grandmother has made him a banana cream pie for his birthday. Before he retired, if he worked on his birthday, she would make him two: one for home and one to bring in to work and share with his co-workers on his shift. I remember being young and in her kitchen, watching her roll her dough out to make his two pies. And at Christmas I worked with her to make her recipe for those pies.

This year she did not make him his pies. While she was visiting me, she confessed she no longer had the will to do any of the baking she used to do. And with her memory loss, it was becoming too frustrating for her (that Christmas baking involved alot of work on my part, reminding her what she was doing, while she was doing it. She honestly would forget why she was rolling out dough, or when she would go to get her pie plate, what she had gone for and why.)

My grandfather, whose memory is not failing quite nearly as fast as his wife's, has been very understanding and supportive. He was equally good about not getting his pies, but I felt bad when he told me. Bad for him, and bad for my grandmother. And bad for myself. I needed to do something, and the only thing I could do was offer to make him his pie when I saw him next. I thought it might be awhile before that happened, but it turned out he was coming for a visit in the next few days and wanted to come for his pie right away!

Hooray that he was coming! Oh no, when will I have time to bake/cook for them!

So I cheated. I bought pie crust (which I'm still leary about making myself.) And to make things a bit different (and therefore not bring forefront to everyone that I had made my grandmother's pies again,) I decided to go back to Dorie and make her Banana Cream Pie instead of using the family recipe.

Dorie's recipe is similar to other banana cream recipes, but with a twist. Instead of white sugar mixed into the egg yolks, she uses brown sugar (and the only way I could push it through a strainer was to mix it with the corn starch first!) and adds cinnamon and nutmeg. Which makes the custard an odd shade of brown, looks-wise, but adds a wonderful flavor that matches well with bananas. Topped with whipped cream (instead of my grandmother's usual meringue), it was just different enough. And wonderfully good!

My grandfather was happy, my grandmother was happy, and I was happy. Pretty good work for a pie, don't you think? (Oh and thanks Dorie, it was just what I needed then!)

(I served that pie outside, having bbq'd sausages and steamed green beans for the rest of dinner - nothing fancy, just good.)

I admit I didn't expect to see my grandparents again during their short visit. The were in town to see a show on Friday night and staying with my cousin. So I was happy to host them again for dinner last night, before they went to their show. It was last minute, so I did not have time to make them dessert (my grandfather believes every meal must end with one, so has actually gone out to buy some when something wasn't provided,) but went to a local bakery and bought one instead. (A blueberry mousse cake - it was okay but I think I could have made better. And expensive - I KNOW I could have made it for less.)

Dinner, however, gave me a chance to try a new recipe that I had read earlier in the week from a book I had taken from the library, Michael Smith's Chef at Home. I had planned to make it for my own family, so had all my ingredients ready to make Southwestern Popcorn Salad with Honey Lime dressing.

Odd as this sounds, it was very good. The popcorn, which takes the place of croutons, is lightly seasoned by being tossed with olive oil, salt, pepper and cumin. I love cumin! Good on it's own as a snack, but surprisingly good in a salad as well!

Of course I messed with things a tiny bit - instead of regular red pepper stripes, I charred mine a bit on the bbq, as well as grilling a red onion and adding it to the salad.

I served this fun salad with bbd'd chicken, which I had seasoned with salt, pepper, cumin and chili powder (and it was amazingly flavorful!), and sauted corn. The chicken married well with the salad and was equally good today wrapped up in a tortilla with left over salad and dressing.

Well that almost catches me up on recipes and food for now. More to come later!

Sneak Peeking

There is a really fun blogging event going on right now, making the rounds and catching on everywhere. I got my first glimpse of it at a fellow DB'ers blog and since then have seen it on 6 other blogs! I bet Sam didn't expect this kind of response!

Guess it's time to jump in with both feet! Or in this case, with open fridge doors!

My fridge hasn't exactly been edited, though I did clean the shelfs up some, mostly because I was taking the picture after I had just gone grocery shopping and I was trying to find room to fit everything in! In the process I removed 6 different containers of colored icing, left overs from my cake decorating class (I had to cancel going to Cake 2 as I sprained my wrist and couldn't hold a pastry bag, I'm so bummed!), two partial bottles of gatorade from a few months back (my kids drink it when they have high, high fevers and won't take an oral rehydration solution,) and took out one or two other old items, but otherwise that's it.

Okay from the top left shelf: water filter, 1% milk and some plain yogurt for baking.
Second from top, starting left: 1 dozen brown eggs, 18 white eggs (I'm not that fussy, just going through alot of eggs lately), left over sausage and cauliflower from dinner in the tupperware, with two jars of Pace salsa on top of it, one mild, one medium. One liter carton each of buttermilk and 10% cream, package of corn on the cobb (5), variety of yogurts: Danon Strawberry, and vanilla flavors, Silloutte strawberry and banana and one tub of Activia Vanilla. Farm Boy Raspberry jam that wouldn't fit in the door anywhere.
Third little shelf, left to right: 2 250ml cartons of Simply Whites, 500ml tub of light ricotta cheese, 500ml of sour cream, package of white cheese curds, package of colored cheese curds
Contents of drawer: sliced chicken fajita meat, sliced honey maple turkey, provolone cheese slice, havarti slices, chunk of parmessan cheese, cheddar baby bells, mild cheddar cheese, several "pieces" of unsalted butter, still wrapped, in ziplock bags, 2 sticks of unsalted butter
Next shelf: strawberries and two packages of blackberries, sitting on top of package of fresh lasagna noodles. Carrots, tops removed (no room in drawer), individual yogurt pots: Danon for husbands lunch, Kids Danon yogurt pots for 4 year old. (yes, family of 4 and we get different types of yogurt - from the other shelf I eat the Activia, older son eats the rest.) Pre-cored pineapple. Hiding behind that is a bottle of cranberry apple juice.
First drawer: hydroponic Boston lettuce and half a head of red leave lettuce. Half each of a red and yellow pepper, 1/4 of a red onion, 5 or 6 Asian pears, 1 cucumber. Left over bunch of parsley.
Next drawer: 1 bag of 1% milk, 7-8 royal gala apples, 4 bartlette pears and one rosco pear. Bag of white button mushrooms and bag of portabello mushrooms.

I think that is everything. Though that doesn't even cover the stuff in the door, which includes cream cheese and sauces and yeast.

Oh and I have a second fridge in the basement which tends to hold things like bottled water, juice boxes, any pop we have (not often), whatever is defrosting for dinner (a roast right now), and whatever else needs to be in there, depending on the time of year. During the holidays it is usually packed with stuff and in the summer it is loaded with portable drinks so I can grab and go with the kids.

She actually threatened me!

No, not with any bodily harm.

Instead, my girlfriend threatened that if I ever make this cake again, she's going to eat the entire thing! (Okay maybe there would be some harm to myself involved, since she'd have to get past me first!)

I used to have angel food cake at least once a year. My grandmother bought store bought ones fairly often, usually for whipped cream and fruit, but every December would use one to make my mother's favorite cake (angel food cake, split into three levels,) and filled/iced with a combination of custard and whipped cream, then topped with fruit when served.

I've never bothered to make my own angel food cake - the store bought ones, at least the fresh ones, taste so good that it didn't seem worth the effort to separate all those eggs and spend all that time whipping!

Then I met Bob.

I love Bob. And I think Bob loves me. So far he has never let me down. And he's been as good for my husband as he has been for me, so there hasn't even been a jealousy issue!

(Don't know who Bob is? Well then, look here and see. Isn't he beautiful? Bob and I are coming up, soon, on our first anniversary together too!)

I admit, I did find another 'friend' to help ease the pain of making my own angel food cake.... Simply Egg Whites.

Yes, I have been using a carton of egg whites that I bought from the store, rather than separating the eggs myself. And since I'm admitting it here, I'm obviously not ashamed to say so. Until this cake I had never used it before, but most definitely will again. It was nice to not have to spend the time painstakingly separating the eggs, and it was even nicer not wasting all those egg yolks!

With my little partnership established (Bob, egg whites and myself), let me say that this cake would have been worth separating my own eggs and standing there with a hand mixer mixing! The lemon was so subtle but added a refreshing tang. It was so soft it was almost sticky, as only a really fresh cake is. While perfectly wonderful on it's own, it was even better matched up with freshly whipped cream (Bob again!) and sliced strawberries. The husband and I each had two pieces for dinner that night! We ate so much that after giving some to my friend, there was barely enough left for each member of the family to have a small slice in their lunch the next day! (Next time I am not sharing!)

And with that raving endorsement, here is the recipe, courtesy of Ina Garten's Barefoot Contessa Family Style:

Lemon Angel Food Cake
serves 8 (or one really hungry family of 4, if you are lucky)

2 cups sifted superfine sugar, divided
1 1/3 cups sifted cake flour (not self rising)
1 1 /2 cups egg whites, a room temperature
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2 teaspoons cream of tartar
3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 teaspoons grated lemon zest

Preheat oven to 350F.

Combine 1/2 cup of sugar with the flour and sift together 4 times. Set aside.

Place the egg whites, salt and cream of tartar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and beat on high speed until the eggs make medium-firm peaks, about 1 minute. With the mixer on medium speed, add the remaining 1 1/2 cups of sugar by sprinkling it over the beaten egg whites. Whisk for a few minutes until thick and shiny. Whisk in the vanilla and lemon zest and continue to whisk until very thick, about 1 more minutes. Sift about 1/4th of the flour mixture over the egg whites (I didn't, I just sprinkled gently) and fold it into the batter with a rubber spatula. Continue adding the flour by fourths by sifting and folding until it's all incorporated.

Pour the batter into an ungreased 10-inch tube pan, smooth the top, and bake it for 35-40 minutes (I baked mine for closer to 50), until it springs back to the touch. Remove the cake from the oven and invert the pan on a cooling rack until cool.

To store, wrap well and do not refrigerate (not that there will be any leftovers!)

Introducing the newest round of Daring Bakers!

Holy cow are we ever popular!

Eighteen new members this month! And boy did they join just in time for a doozy of a challenge! (Sorry, can't reveal it until later in the month!)

Over the next few days I will be updating my side bar to include all our newest members, but for now, here is a list of the new members, and their blog names, though no links yet (unless this method of copy and paste actually copies the links too.) I still need to check them out myself as pretty well all of them are new to me!

The Kitchen Pantry - Sara
The Domestic Diva Recipe Rush - Heather
Baking Soda - Karen
Definitely Not Martha - Leslie
Couture Cupcakes - Minko
A Self-Proclaimed Foodaholic - Swee
Eating for One - Heather
Alice Q. Foodie - Alice
Food is Good - Nazca
Jenny Bakes - Jenny
Cooking the Books - Kelly-Jane
Chiles & Chocolate - Erin
64 sq. ft. Kitchen - Rose
Sass and Veracity - Kelly
Kitchen Unplugged - Gattina
WMPE’s Blog - Wendy
Gruel Omelet - Cheryl
Simply Anne’s - Anne

And with these newest members, my bloglines roll climbs to 123 feeds! Oh boy, and I thought I was behind reading them yesterday!

Welcome new baking friends!

Weekend Cookbook Challange #16: Something New

Yes, another blog event! I've missed a few I wanted to participate in (bread and brownies), and have been trying to get this in for awhile so hopefully I get the post finished before the event is over!

Sara, of I Like to Cook fame, is back hosting this month, with the theme of Something New. In her own words:

So pull out a new book or kitchen gadget. Or use a new ingredient you've been wanting to try. Maybe try out a new technique! Whatever you decide to do with Something New, make sure you have fun.

Even I can do that!

With that in mind, I went off to my local library and hit the cookbook section, with nothing particular in mind, no direction that I wanted to go. I ended up coming home with two Jamie Oliver books.

I've never made a Jamie Oliver recipe before, and with the exception of his School Dinner's series (of which I have the follow up on my pvr right now for me to watch), I've never been much of a fan of his either. His Naked Chef series was okay but since then I've found him to be so foul mouthed that I just could not watch him. I mean honestly, can he not keep discipline with his students and staff without calling them such degrading names and swearing every other word? To me that is a lack of respect thing and if you can't show basic respect, you aren't worth any.

Now I did find he swore alot in his School Dinner's series, but no where near as much. As though he were actually growing up and realizing that foul language is not appropriate in the work place.

So I took home two of his books and sat down to read. The first book was a bust for me (and I'm sorry to say I have no idea what book it was! Oh wait, just checked online book store, it was The Naked Chef Takes Off) It's not that there weren't any good recipes, just none that interested me enough to jot down or to want to try at some point.

The second book, Happy Day's with the Naked Chef, showed, to me at least, that he'd grown up a bit more since the last one, and did have several recipes who's page number I jotted down to go back and have a look at. One I even had time to write down before I had to bring the book back!

So for my Something New cookbook challenge, I offer this recipe: Pot Roasted Chicken with Sweet and Sour Sauce, from Jamie Oliver's Happy Day's with the Naked Chef.

4 ½ lb chicken

sea salt and fresh ground pepper

handful of fresh parsley, roughly chopped

4 thumb sized pieces of fresh ginger, grated with skin left on

2 red peppers, halved and deseeded

2 yellow peppers, halved and deseeded

4 red onions peeled

2 fresh chilies, snapped in half

1 ripe pineapple, peeled, quartered and chopped

1 teaspoon fennel seeds, crushed

olive oil

2 tablespoons sugar

6 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

preheat the oven to 350F. Season your chicken generously inside and out and stuff the cavity with the mixed parsley and ginger. Cut your peppers and red onions into quarters and put them into a cold casserole dish. Add the chilies, pineapple and crushed fennel seeds. Drizzle with 3 good glugs of olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper and toss until well coated. Place your chicken on top, pat it with a little oil and cook in the middle of the preheated oven for 1 ½ hours. The chicken is ready when the bones can easily be pulled out of the thighs.

Once cooked, drain the chicken juices out of the pan. Remove the chicken to a plate with half of the vegetables and pineapple, and allow to rest for 5 minutes while you make your sauce. Put the remaining vegetables and pineapple from the pan into a food processor with the sugar and the vinegar, and correct the seasoning with a little salt. Blend to make a lovely sauce – add a little boiling water to loosen and thin out if need be. Season to taste.

Serve with stir-fried noodles or steamed rice.

This recipe was good, though how it feeds only 4 I will not know. Must be four grown men, not a family of 4 that includes 2 children, even accounting for leftovers, which we like to have for lunches the next day. At least the grown ups do. I reduced the veggies a touch, but also could not get a 4 1/2 lb chicken, ended up with one a bit over 5 lbs. What I should have done, though, is only pulverize 1/4 of the veggies, not the half called for. Half resulted in way, way, way too much sauce. So much sauce that when the chicken was all gone, I still had over 4 cups of sauce! So I stuck it in a freezer bag because it will be good later on with some chicken meatballs.

I guess it will be another new experiment for later!