Saturday, November 28, 2009

Red Hot Pear Sauce

Red Hot Pear Sauce
6 to 7 lbs (about 20 med.) pears
washed, peeled, cored and roughly chopped
4 cups sugar
1 9 oz pkg cinnamon Red Hots candies
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp cloves
Combine all ingredients in a large saucepot.
Cook over med heat until sauce is thick enough to round up on a spoon.
Stir frequently to prevent sticking.
Ladle hot sauce into hot jars, leaving 1/4 inch headspace.
Remove air bubbles.
Adjust 2 piece caps.
Process 20 mins in a boiling water canner.

Daring Baker's November Challenge - Cannoli

The November 2009 Daring Bakers Challenge was chosen and hosted by Lisa Michele of Parsley, Sage, Desserts and Line Drives. She chose the Italian Pastry, Cannolo (Cannoli is plural)........

Ta da!

Ok, I'm a few (24) hours late posting this challenge, but it really wasn't my fault!

It was the sun's fault.

Yes, the sun. If you have ever been to the north in the Fall/Winter you may have noticed a lack of something. Sun. Yes people, we invented SAD. The sun went on vacation to Florida for a week and then another week and...yeah, you get the idea.

I refused to do the challenge until I had natural light to photograph my cannoli! It was a great excuse!

Yesterday the sun came out.

Entonces - aqui estan!

If you want the recipe, please go to Lisa Michele's site.

We start with a dough.

An amazing dough!

It went together like a dream and felt like a Granny's bingo wings.

Of course, if your Granny makes cannoli she probably doesn't have bingo wings, 'cause cannoil take some WWF upper body strength.


Work up an appetite for those cannoli.

P.S. I used a nice riesling wine in this.

Rolling the dough out.
Use those muscles!
I tried to use a pasta maker loaned to me by my parents.
Stupid machine ate half my dough before I gave up using it.
I found taking a small piece and rolling it out super, super thin and then wrapping the piece around the cannolo form worked the best.

My cannoli forms.
Long story.
My part of the country is better known for leftsa, than for cannoli, so it was impossible to find cannoli forms. Mom went to the local hardware store and found these lengths of pipe for me!
Yay! Copper!
Very heavy.

Are real cannoli forms heavy?

Rolling dough around form.

Dough ready for frying.

Dough fresh from the fryer.

Cannoli with ricotta/lemon filling and cinnamon Red Hot pear sauce.

I canned the pear sauce* myself.

Fancy tea party, anyone?

My entry for the Royal Foodie Joust.

Cannoli with ginger/fennel/cinnamon pear sauce.

So, what did I think of this challenge?

It was a good one.

It expanded my cooking horizons.

I tried cannoli in a Little Italy bakery 2 years ago, but I wasn't too impressed.

Homemade cannoli are much better.

And my pear sauce is awesome. ;)

*Red Hot Pear Sauce

Remember 3 months ago when I asked you all what I should do with a ton of pears?

And you suggested pear sauce?

Ta da!

3 months later.... Recipe here

I decided to try out a savory cannoli idea. I used a slice of locally made smoked cheddar, pickled herring and a dollop of my own pear chutney. It was good.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Turkey Leg Trot

Go Mom!
Turkey Leg Trot Race.

It was freezing!
But some people were wearing shorts?!?!?!
She did a great job!
Alexa and I cheered for her.
Like our signs?

Alexa and me.

Mom and Dad

Mom won a gold!
Go Mom - Wow!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Daring Cook's November Challenge

The November 2009 Daring Cooks challenge was brought to you by Audax of Audax Artifex and Rose of The Bite Me Kitchen. They chose sushi as the challenge.
I want to thank Audax and Rose for the challenge.

It truly was a challenge!
The recipe is really, really long.
I didn't post it, because I wanted more room for my pics, but go to Audax or Rose's blog to see the step by step directions.
Before this, I had never tasted sushi (or wanted to taste it).
And now that I've tasted it-
I hate it.
Let's just get that out of the way.
The nori tastes and smells like a stagnant lake.
The rice is sticky and sweet. And not in a good way.

Although, you might remember I said here in my Pumpkin/Bulghur post
that I wasn't crazy about white rice.

It also seems like a lot of work and mess for pretty, but inedible food.

First, the spiral sushi roll with baby corn, coconut black beans*, fried red and yellow pepper.

Ta da!

I like wasabi and peppers so I ate that.

See below for the fate of the sushi.
Bwahaha! (evil laughter)

The dragon roll.

So cute!

And so yucky!

I used fake crab sticks and fried peppers inside.

Avocado on top and red pepper for the flames.

Black beans for the eyes.

And the nigiri sushi.
I thought I might like these, because they don't have any nori.

But it's a huge chunk of rice with toppings.

I ate the tops.

Yum! Smoked cheddar cheese, rum/ginger/cinnamon syrup raisins and kiwi slices.

I ate some of the rice with coconut black beans and topped it with avocado.

It was tasty.

What did I do with all of that sushi?

My girls had a sushi party!

They didn't like the nori.

Or the rice.
Too sticky for chicken beaks.

They picked out the fillings.

Silly chickens!
They usually gobble up rice.

*Coconut Black Beans
1 cup dry black beans, rinsed
1 can coconut milk
1 small dried chile
1/2 tsp dried onion
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ginger powder
salt to taste
Rinse beans. Add beans and 6 cups water to med. saucepot. Bring to a boil and boil for 10 mins. Remove from burner, cover and let soak for 1 hour.
Drain beans and rinse (again).
Add rinsed beans, coconut milk and spices to the saucepot.
Simmer at med./low heat until the coconut milk volume has been reduced in half.
About 1 hour.
Beans should be tender by now, but still holding their shape.
Add salt to taste and serve.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Best Ever Challah

I'm sort of obsessed with potato water.
You may have noticed that I've used it in a lot of my recipes recently.
It's so wonderful!
The potato water makes such a difference in this bread.
It's silky, smooth and easy to handle.
Easy to handle is very important in challah, because of the 'fancy' braiding.
Best Ever Challah
1 cup flour
1 cup potato water (liquid reserved from boiling potatoes)
2 tsp yeast

In a large bowl mix flour, potato water and yeast. Cover and let sit for 45 mins.


3 1/3 cups flour

1 3/4 tsp salt

1/3 cup sugar

1/4 cup butter

4 large eggs

Add flour and butter to the sponge ingredients. Mix until combined then add the rest of the ingredients. Turn dough out onto your work surface and knead. Dust with flour and knead again.

Place dough into a well greased bowl and cover it.

2 ways to continue: 1. Let rise in a warm place for 1 1/2 hours OR 2. Place covered bowl in the refrigerator for a few hours.

I chose option 2 and left it in the fridge for 18 hours. I made it the night before and baked it when I got home from work the next day. Perfect!

Either way you choose - Next, punch down dough and divide it in to 3 equal pieces. Roll the 3 pieces into 12-14 inch long ropes. On your well greased/silpat covered baking sheet braid the 3 pieces together.

Let rise for 1 hour, until doubled in size.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Egg wash:

One egg, beaten with a little salt.

Before baking, brush loaf with egg wash and sprinkle with sesame seeds or poppy seeds.

Bake for 40 mins or until loaf sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom.

Challah with butter and my Pure Gold Marmalade.
Don't let the braiding scare you away from trying this.
I literally made this up and figured out how to braid it, just because I had 4 eggs to use up.
Try it!
And let me know how it turns out.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Saturday Afternoon

I went over to my Mom's house on Saturday.
She had invited Alexa over for a baking lesson.
Alexa is my gardening, cooking, craft making buddy
AND best friend!

First, the important tying on of the apron.

My Mom is such a good teacher. Very, very patient and hands off. She lets you figure things out for yourself. I think that's the best way to learn how to cook.

Mom and Alexa measuring out the squash.
Notice: No canned squash/pumpkin here!
This is all home grown.

Alexa adding the squash.

Alexa separating the eggs.
My Mom gave her 3 eggs explained how to separate them and then went to the other side of the kitchen to whip up a different kind of bars.

I have to tell you about Alexa making me scrambled eggs.
It's our funny story.
Granted this happened when she was much younger (like 8).
She told me she was really good at scrambled eggs.
So, she made them and we started to eat them.
Finally, Alexa turns to me, "I think there is something wrong with your chickens. 'Cause these eggs are crunchy."
The chicken's eggs were fine, including the shells that she had dropped into them.
hee hee!

II was the official taste tester.
They tasted delicious!

Best friends forever!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

I Didn't Win

Thanks everyone that voted for me in the Foodie Fights.
Check out the winners
If I had known the judges were looking for a breakfast item I would have entered my Pumpkin-Guinness Waffles
and just swapped out the oatmeal flour for the bulghur.
That would have been easy.
Oh, well maybe next time.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Candy Sushi - 2 Ways

ETA: I should add that the cake sushi is not too bad.
I would make it again.
But I HATE rice crispy treats, so that probably influenced my dislike of the crispy sushi.
And it's really weird to bite into a hard crispy thing and have a sticky strip of sugar flopping around on the outside.
Anyway......they look pretty.
And the cake works. It's soft and sweet, so make that type, if you make them.
I have always wanted to make candy sushi.
It looks so neat.
Um, yeah, but it takes a lot of time and they don't taste that great.
But's how I spent 3 hours of my life.

For the first type of sushi I made rice crispies.
3 Tbs. butter
4 cups marshmallows
6 cups rice crispies
I rolled them into balls and wrapped a piece of fruit-by-the-foot around each ball.
Then I decorated them using different types of candy.

For the second type of sushi I made a pound cake and cut out little circles of cake.
Then I wrapped a fruit-by-the-foot around each piece and frosted the top.
I dipped the frosted top into shredded coconut.
Then I decorated with candy.

The pink "ginger" is a chopped strawberry starkiss.
The "wasabi" is powdered sugar, water and food coloring.