Dispensing Happiness

A good cook is like a sorceress who dispenses happiness.-Elsa Schiapirelli

That's me, the magical good cook.

Borrowing from my friend Dexygus, I've created my own food blog.

Read of my exploits in the kitchen! Salivate over the descriptions of fabulous desserts and savory meals I've concocted!

No, seriously...go ahead. It'll make my day.

Sunday, April 30, 2006

Another new recipe, and Alex cooks!

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Once again, Alex helped with dinner, preparing this lovely potato dish (quickly becoming his 'specialty') with Taleggio. He did a fantastic job; yum.




And a new recipe for us: Grilled Chicken with Sweet Barbecue Mustard Sauce.

Molasses, and Dijon mustard and ruby Port and olive oil and soy sauce and (vegetarian) Worcestershire sauce and shallots marinating chicken and Veat for as long as we could keep them in the refrigerator.

They're then covered with a Sweet Mustard Sauce, and grilled (or in our case, cooked in a pan on the stove). Good stuff. Lots of left-over sauce, which works out for Matt.

The potatoes were wonderful, the chicken was good. And that is all.


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Saturday, April 29, 2006

WDB: Always Sleeping

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Hey, Wicklow's the one who decided to sleep on my laundry piles.




After a long day of running around and barking, you wouldn't make it to the couch, either.




Donegal's a princess, though...

Do stop by Sweetnicks, and see what all the other puppies have been up to.




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Friday, April 28, 2006

Wilton on Television

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So, the good folks at Wilton have announced the launch of a new show, BAKE DECORATE CELEBRATE! on public tv. Being a bit of a Wilton junkie myself (I blame my mother), I wanted to share the news with you.


Announcing BAKE DECORATE CELEBRATE!

Wilton is excited to announce the launch of the public television show, BAKE DECORATE CELEBRATE!. As an important member of the Wilton community, we wanted you to know about this exciting venture and ask for your assistance in getting the show aired in your community.

BAKE DECORATE CELEBRATE! will feature cakes, cupcakes, cookies, candies and more. In each episode, hosts Nancy Siler and Melanie Glasscock will focus on a specific theme such as Kids’ Birthdays, Garden Party Desserts or Chocolate Treats. They’ll decorate projects and share ideas to make the celebration complete.

The show also has a website featuring step-by-step instructions for all of the show projects. You’ll also find decorating techniques, recipes, and a discussion forum. Check it out at www.bakedecoratecelebrate.com.
WE NEED YOUR HELP!

We are asking you to contact your local station and request that the show be aired in your community.

Please click on the 'Check Your Local Stations' button below to see if the show is airing in your community. If the show is not airing, click on the ‘E-Mail Station’ button next to your local station to send them an e-mail requesting they air the show.

Thank you in advance for helping make BAKE DECORATE CELEBRATE! a success.


To see if your local station carries BAKE DECORATE CELEBRATE!, click here.





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That's some shelf life

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For Alex's birthday, we picked up all sorts of Sesame Street/Cookie Monster-related accoutrement's. One was a rectangular, iced, cookie with the outline of Cookie Monster on it. It came with edible markers, so kids could decorate their own cookie.

Now, the organic-loving/healthy-eating/anti-processed foods me couldn't help but wrinkle her nose and say "Ew...that's gross".

But, the Mom side over-ruled; Alex would have fun, and hey...he might not even eat it! He's rather particular when it comes to it comes to his baked goods.

So, we bought it, and even placed it out with the other stuff during his birthday party.

But in all the commotion, we kind of forgot to give it to him. I mean, he had lots of other food, and there was cake!

Alex came across it recently, and asked if he could finally have it.

Hmmm...we bought it mid-February, who knows how long it was sitting in the store, and it's now two months later.

Oh, what the heck.
















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Thursday, April 27, 2006

Fresh Ginger Muffins

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I've been a neglectful wife. A good wife takes care of her husband, being sure to meet his needs. And I've been lacking in that area lately.

Hey, gutter-brain; you can cut that out right now.

I'm talking about breakfast.

I've already told you Matt will totally skip breakfast, if I don't make him eat something.

The best way to accomplish this is to bake something he can take along with him to work.

And I've just had so much going on the past...three or so weeks, the prospect of spending even more time in front of the stove had me remembering those TV commercials I saw when I was younger: "Calgon, take me away!"

But our lives have settled down now (with just a few weeks till the next upheaval!), so it's time to get back on track, and do my wifely duty.

Fresh Ginger Muffins

Fresh ginger, peel and all, finely chopped. With sugar, it's heated in a skillet till sugar is melted, then cooled. To this add lemon zest and more sugar; set aside.

Beat butter, sugar, eggs, buttermilk, flour, salt and baking soda; mix in ginger mixture. Pour into muffin pan, and bake.

As you'll see, all the muffins baked into this funny shape...I have no idea why!

Matt says: Very soft and tender. Tastes as much of lemon as it does ginger. Neither flavor is particularly strong, but it's present.



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0-60 in Five Minutes

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Alex can go one of two ways when it comes to naps.

He'll either morph into a cranky-pants, or he'll practically bounce out of bed, brimming with happiness.



Guess how it turned out?



Want to see the full story? Click here.



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Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Oh no they didn't!

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When I saw this, I found myself wavering between laughing and throwing up.



A wedding cake? Made from Twinkies?

Shudder...






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Grilled Flank Steak Sandwiches

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Grilled Flank Steak Sandwiches; something Matt's been looking forward to.

Flank steak (or Morningstar Farms Meal Starters, faux beef) marinated overnight in Dijon mustard and red wine. Next day, pat dry the steak, grill about fifteen minutes. Let rest, slice, and serve on ciabatta rolls with garlic mayo, Fontina, and lettuce.

As Matt is wont to say, the sandwich was unremarkable.

It wasn't bad; it just wasn't fabulous. The rolls were a bit too thick, as were the cheese slices.

Decent concept; it didn't come together for us.

Oh, well...






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Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Plates of Panini

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Sunday's dinner; two sandwich recipes we've been looking forward to.

I really only watch Food TV for Barefoot Contessa these days, but as Giada leads into Ina's show I occasionally catch the last five or ten minutes.

Some months ago, Giada was preparing a bunch of sandwiches, and I liked what I saw.

Panino alla Margherita
and Panino di Prosciutto e Fontina

Such a simple meal to prepare; I think the 'hardest' part was slicing the bread!

For the Margherita, just mozzarella, tomato and basil. The other was Fontina, spinach and prosciutto (or fake bacon). Brushed with olive oil and grilled till cheese are melted.

Yum. Quick and easy, and so delicious! And because we used a small loaf, leading to small slices, it wasn't too much.

You could turn this into a real meal, or as a quick lunch. Either way, good stuff.




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Questions for the Masses

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Two questions for my readers:

  • 1. I'd love to hear your thoughts and success/disaster stories about making white chocolate ganache. I've attempted this three or four times...that's three or four recipes; each recipe required multiple tries.

So, have you made it? What were your results? I'm about to give up on white chocolate here!

  • 2. Can anyone recommend an inexpensive, reliable, stovetop espresso maker? Even though neither of us drink coffee, and we do have a bare-bones coffee maker, I'd like to be able to offer espresso to our guests after dinner.
Thank you in advance!



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Monday, April 24, 2006

A Return to Normalcy

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Home improvement projects have been completed (for now), guests have come and gone, Easter is done, as are a trio of food events.

What does that mean? Daily posts, about actual food, are back!

As I mentioned in a recent meme, I've gotten on this 'must make something new every single day' kick. I almost never revisit old favorites. But we really do have some 'that's my favorite!' recipes.

One is Persian Rice; rice cooked with dill and pistachios. It's positively divine, and we'll often make it for company.

I don't think I'd made this since last summer, so when Matt suggested we have it, how could I refuse him?

Rice is parboiled in salted water, then drained. In that same pot, melt a decent amount of butter, then spoon some rice on top. Follow this with alternating layers of dill, rice, and pistachios; finishing with a mound of rice. Poke holes, to the bottom of the pan, with a wooden spoon, cover with a tea towel, and then the lid, and let cook, on a rather low setting, for just over half an hour.

You know it's done when you poke through to the bottom, and hear a 'crunch'; that means it's ready.

Traditionally, you would serve the entire pot of rice on a platter or in a large bowl, and from the bottom you will get some crunchy bits. That is often reserved for the guest of honor, and is quite a treat.

I don't know about all of that; we just think it's fabulous!

Matt had some lamb with his rice: ground lamb mixed with some spices (I wasn't there at the time, so I'm not sure what he used besides cumin), rolled into balls and cooked till 'done'; done can be so subjective, you know.

We both love this rice, and for Matt, the lamb was the perfect pairing.




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Sunday, April 23, 2006

What's for Pud? Black & White Pudding, that's what.

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I haven't been entering nearly as many food events as I'd like. Either I'm just too busy (can I get an "Amen!"?), or the theme didn't work for me (the latest SHF was liquors, and no one in this house really cares for that).

But when I saw Sam's post for "What's For Pud?", despite knowing practically nothing about English desserts (save what I learned from reading novels set in England, or watching the BBC), I decided to just go for it.

As luck would have it, about a week before the deadline, I found myself drooling over the cookbook section of an enormous used book store. One of the volumes I brought home was not only immense (how's one thousand recipes, one per page, grab you?), but published in England (Bath, to be precise).

And while it lists recipes from all over the world, the majority of them are English. There was the Victoria Sandwich Cake, Bakewell Tart, varieties of Syllabub, Simnel Cake, Bread & Butter Pudding, Butterfly Cakes...all sorts of things.

Not too many of the recipes...uh...came across as appetizing, I'm afraid. Neither of us are mad for fruit-studded desserts, and I just could not bring myself to purchase suet!

I was tempted to make a lovely-looking and darn simple Flumery (the name alone, as a fan of Rex Stout, had me sold); but I didn't have the proper rice to hand, and not enough time to search it out.

So I instead settled on the much-more palatable (to us, that is) Black & White Pudding. Didn't look too difficult, and the chances of someone actually eating it were much greater (Spotted Dick? Oh, you're kidding me!).

So, butter, superfine sugar (which we make ourselves by tossing regular sugar into the food processor) and ground cardamom are beaten till light, then egg yolks are mixed in. To that, melted semi-sweet chocolate is added. The recipe called for a tiny bit of rum, but we hadn't any. I decided to toss in some Chambord in it's place.

Stiff egg whites are then folded in, and the whole mess is poured into a lightly oiled, oven-safe, bowl. It's then wrapped with greased parchment & aluminum foil, and tied up with string. Place in a large pot, and surrounded by enough boiling water to come up the side about 1/3 of the way. The pot is covered, and simmered about 45 minutes. Once the pudding has steamed, allow to cool completley.

Serve with a cream/sour cream mixture.



Ok...assuming confessional pose here. I didn't try it. Neither of us did.

Instead, we carted both pudding and sauce over to my in-law's house, and offered it for tonight's dessert.

I'm sure they'll like it...the cardamom was very prominent, but the Chambord came through, as well.

If you're the sort who likes steamed desserts, this should make you happy!




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Bathed in Light

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For the moment, he's an angel.




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Blog Party#9: Dessert? Well, Just a Bite! Round-Up

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Welcome to another Blog Party! Tonight, we're filling our plates with wonderful, but bite-sized, desserts. Hey...no calorie-counting! This is our night, so just enjoy the food and the company, ok? You can hit the gym tomorrow!

First, let's get the table set.


I just love these Chocolate Indulgence Plates; they're hard to resist!



How cute are these Hot Chocolate Plates??



But for any true dessert party, you have to set your table with these gorgeous Chocolate Square Plates.



Throw in a robin's egg blue tablecloth, and we're set.


And let's not forget the music...in the disc changer tonight, we have Hot Chocolate: 14 Greatest Hits



and

Melts in Your Brain, Not on Your Wrist: The Complete Recordings 1965-1967, The Chocolate Watchband



as well as

The Best of Sweet




Now let's get to the good stuff...our guests, and their food!

First through the door tonight, Jennifer's brought along the cutest little cupcakes (I have that cookbook, but haven't used it yet...gonna have to, now!), as well as a refreshing Limoncello Spritzer...yum! Thanks so much for coming, Jennifer...and for being so early!



Cameradawtor is here, too...and she's opted for a bit of nostalgia with her Grammies' Mini Chocolate Cheesecakes; how wonderful! And you know what a sucker for cheesecake I am, darn it all. And she's brought enough Tenderberry Mocktails to keep us going all night! Good to have you here; now dig in!



Our next guest tonight is Vineela, who made the most darling Palmiers! I am a big Ina fan, so I can not wait to give these a try. Thank you so much for coming, Vineela!




Haalo returns with the usual amazing dishes (seriously, can I take photography classes from you?) for our party. Help yourselves to Shots of Zabaglione with mini Savoiardi, Creme Brulee Spoons, and Chocolate Martinis. Wow...it all looks great. So happy you could come!




Indira has come back, and I know you'll be just as happy to see her as I am when you take a bite of those Sweet Potato Gulab Jamuns she brought with her! Just so everyone knows; I call dibs on the butterscotch one! Thank you so much for coming, Indira.



Santhi left sunny California for rainy Tennessee, just so we could share in her Kova Kobbari Laddo. Another first for me...They look wonderful! So glad you could be here, Santhi!




The always-busy Ramya (I have a small child, so I understand!) found enough time to prepare some yummy Indian Cheese Fritters, as well as Creamy Cocoa Bites. To go with, she's serving up some cool, tangy orange juice. Just perfect. Thank you so much for being here, Ramya!



Ulrike's next, and does she have a treat for us! She's made Advoocat Pudding Filled Juwels. I know I've never had this, so I can't wait to try it. To serve with those juwels, she's prepared a big pot of Espresso, so get in line! So glad you could catch that plane, Ulrike!




Last through the door tonight, we have Meena with what may be Matt's favorite tonight, Mint Chocolate Tartlets! Looks good, so I hope you brought plenty!
Thanks for coming, Meena.



I just happened to make a few things, as well...do help yourselves to some Nut Rocha; a toasted nut-and-milk chocolate topped toffee candy. It's divine!



These cute little Chocolate Pastel Cups are surprisingly light; they're filled with Torani-syrup flavored whipped cream. Do try the lime...they're fantastic!



Full-fat with this next treat: Chocolate Toffee Puff Tarts. Puff pastry cups, filled with just a bit of toffee sauce, then topped with chocolate filling. Baked till set, these little heart-stoppers taste a bit like a brownie! Served with freshly whipped cream, they're truly to die for.



To help those sweet dishes go down, I offer the Choco-Hazelnut Fauxtini; chocolate and hazelnut Torani syrups, with sparkling water. As Matt said, it's not often that your 'soft drink' smells of roasted nuts!



Wow...what a great bunch of desserts, folks! Everyone did a marvelous job, and I'm so happy you could be here tonight. Be sure to mingle, and don't be afraid to ask for recipes!

And I do hope you'll all come back for next month's party...it's going to be spectacular! As always, I'll announce the theme on the first of the month, and don't hesitate to suggest future Blog Party themes (occasionally, the ol' creative juices do run dry, you know).

Stay as long as you like...what happens here tonight stays between you and your thighs!





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Saturday, April 22, 2006

WDB: Naptime, A Series

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Stop by Sweetnicks to see all the other pups!

Blog Party#9 is tonight! Stop by later, and check out the party!




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