Dear Blog, Please forgive my recent neglect.

Yes, I have been very neglectful of my blog lately.

It's not that I haven't been cooking. I've cooked at least one item a day, though not all of it has been new, or very "exciting." I've had a very good success rate for meals with the family lately, partially because I have not been doing anything too "strange."

So here's a quick little recap of some of the items I've made in the last little while, along with today's baking.

This fun looking item is an oddball version of stuffed pork tenderloin. I had this desire to stuff one, so picked one up, had my butcher butterfly it for me, with the intention of stuffing it with apples, cinnamon and raisins.

Good concept, bad execution.

I only cut up two apples, but that was alot of apple for one little tenderlion. So instead I layed the apples out on top and baked it together. The apples softened, and let go of some juices into the tenderloin below, and the raisins also gained a bit of moisture and softened up.

I liked it, but next time I will rethink the actual process of stuffing before I prepare the item to be stuffed.

A few days later I went Greek, but in my own kitchen instead of the take out counter or the premade souvlaki from my butcher (which is quite good), though I did purchase my tzaziki premade. (I don't like cucumber, but do like tzasiki, though I doubt I would if I made it myself.

These chicken breast, marinated in olive oil, lemon juice, garlic and oregano, were very, very moist, and full of flavor. I served them with the dip, grilled pita, red peppers that I had added to the chicken, and sliced cucumber (for the children.) This was a very popular meal and I hope I am able to recreate the marinade again.

Oh and I also had steamed brocolli, which I drizzled with some of the liquid from the chicken - mmmm lemon, garlicky goodness to the veggies as well.

Again chicken here, not as exciting. A whole, roasted chicken. I brined this bird for a few hours, in a combination of kosher salt, cold water, peppercorns and a few cloves of garlic, sliced into the brining liquid. This made my fridge smell very strongly of garlic but I'm not sure it added too much flavor to the chicken (though I served the chicken with a dipping sauce, made from a package I picked up at the grocery store, so the sauce may have over powered the garlic.

This afternoon I did a bit of baking again, making Caramel Shortbread. I had made a batch of this a week or two ago (though it is long gone,) and wanted some in the freezer to take out next week when we have friends over for Christmas. Redoing the recipe today made me realize I had neglected to include the corn syrup in the last batch, which didn't seem to make the least bit of difference to those eating it. Which is good, because in today's batch, I forgot the vanilla. (The recipe has already been tested, and 3 out of 3 testers did not notice the lack of vanilla.)

I've made a small adaptation to this recipe from the hand written copy I was given a few years ago. It calls for making the caramel in a glass bowl in the microwave, stiring every 30 seconds to 1 minutes. That's alot of stiring without much control. Instead, I choose to make the caramel on the stove (and this is where a non-stick pot really comes in handy.) Cooking it on the stove allows me to not only multitask (I started the caramel before the shortbread base, in order to give it lots of time to darken up,) but lets me have more control over how deep the caramel becomes. It takes a bit of stirring, since the butter, syrup and condensed milk do not like to stay together, but in the end, the dark, amber color and thickness of the caramel more than make up for the effort. And since you can do other things while it cooks, letting you come over and occassionally stir, it makes for less of a hassel in the preperation.

Last but not least, here is a lovely photo of some of the little presents I've bought myself recently.

On top is the batch of vanilla beans I purchased off of ebay, which arrived yesterday, soft and fragrant, making my entire main floor smell of vanilla.

Underneath is my signed copy of The Vegan Lunchbox, by Jennifer McCann, whose blog I have referred to before, again called The Vegan Lunchbox. No I have not suddenly gone vegan (obviously) but so far I am very much enjoying the book. It has alot of very cool ideas for the lunch box, some of which my son might actually eat!

The bottom two books are the Ace Bakery Cookbook and More from Ace Bakery. These both came highly recommended to me by Ivonne from Cream Puffs in Venice, a fellow blogger that I can't wait to actually meat in person.

I haven't actually cooked anything from any of these books - I tend to read them front to back first, then go back and choose something. So far I have all three of them at a different stage in reading. :-)

Again, blog, I am sorry for the neglect. I will try to be better, but please have some patience with me as it is almost Christmas, things around here will be busy, and I may have some delays in posting. In the meantime, here is a recipe to make up for the neglect......

Caramel Shortbread

1 1/2 cup softened butter, divided
1/2 cup icing sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/4 cup flour
1 can (300ml) condensed milk
3 tbsp conr syrup
1 tsp vanilla
3 squares semi sweet chocolate (or a handful of chocolate chips)

Preheat oven to 35oF.
Beat 1 cup of butter with icing sugar and salt, until fluffy. Add flour and mix gently to combine. Press into 9x9 greased and floured baking pan (glass pans not recommended for this) with floured fingers. Bake 30-35 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool slightly.
In small pot, preferably non-stick, melt butter over medium-low heat. Add condensed milk and corn syrup and stir to combine. Cook gently, stirring occassionally to recombine mixture, until the caramel turns a dark color. This will take some time, be patient.
Stir in vanilla when the caramel has reached the desired color, then pour over crust.
If using chocolate squares, chop and place in microwave safe bowl (or ziplock bag.) If using chips, put in ziplock bag. Microwave either one to melt, being careful not to heat for too long. I like 20 second time blocks to start. Snip corner from the bag, or use a fork if chocolate is in a bowl, and drizzle the chocolate over the caramel. Chill until firm.

This freezes beautifully (I like them when they are still slightly frozen.) However, if you are going to freeze them, cut them into squares before you freeze them. Or plan to eat a 9x9 square of the shortbread. :-)


Brilynn said...

The caramel shortbread looks awesome!

For the pork tenderloin- I often get overzealous in the stuffing process and find it hard to close, but it helps if you pound it out a little thinner, then you have more to work with. Plus, it's fun whacking away at it with a hammer...

I'm looking forward to seeing what you make with the Ace Bakery books, they're on my 'wish list'.

Sara said...

Oooh, the books...can't wait to hear what you think of them, all 3 are on my wish list.