These Are A Few Of My Favorite Things (A Giveaway)

My Favorite Things

**Be sure to read the entire post for details on the first BAH Giveaway!**

We all know about Fraulein Maria’s favorite things.  In case you need a refresher, the list includes:

  • Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens
  • Bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens
  • Brown paper packages tied up with string
  • Cream colored ponies and crisp apple strudels
  • Door bells and sleigh bells and schnitzel with noodles

A list of my favorite things isn’t nearly as lyrical…if only Rogers and Hammerstein has scored a musical about cooking then maybe there would be a show tune that includes: Continue reading “These Are A Few Of My Favorite Things (A Giveaway)”

Like Buttah

I Can't Belive It's Butter
Have I mentioned that butter has its very own place in my food pyramid?  My Primary Care Physician, and the folks at LabCorp, can attest to this fact based on my cholesterol numbers.  All the steel cut oats in the world can not counteract the effects of my particular love of butter.  I don’t care what the creepy Quaker Oats guy says, I have the lab results to prove it. Continue reading “Like Buttah”

If At First You Don’t Succeed

Skillet Roasted Fish

As trite as it may sound to say ‘try, try again’, that’s exactly what I’m going do. Because the Skillet Roasted Fish that I tested for Cook’s Illustrated before our breakup came close to their goal of being well browned and moist. Except that it wasn’t well browned. It got the moist part right though, which is why I’m going to do two one thing:

  • Tinker with the recipe myself and see if I can’t find a foolproof way to get a golden brown crust.
  • Hold onto the test recipe to see if Cook’s Illustrated changes it in any way when it goes to print.

Since this is a recipe currently in development by CI, I cannot go into the how of it all just now. But if you’re curious about the accompanying veg, you’re in luck.  This originally appeared on Exit 51, but that’s no reason it can’t have a place at BAH.

Sweet Pea Guacamole

Adapted from the Washington Post

  • 1/2 pound frozen peas, thawed
  • 1 shallot
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 1 teaspoon cumin, or to taste
  • fresh cilantro to taste
  • tiny pinch red pepper flakes
  • juice from half of a lime

Place ingredients into food processor and pulse until combined to your preferred texture. If you like a chunky texture, pulse less. If you want a smoother texture, pulse more.

I added some block style feta cheese in brine – maybe a tablespoon’s worth – to try and mimick that creamy smoothness you get in guacamole.

Great as an appetizer with chips but also nice spread on a turkey sandwich or served as a side with some not quite browned Skillet Roasted Fish…yum.

{Printable Recipe}

Caramel 7.5

Alt Caramel Sauce

My previous reference to caramel sauce version 3.0 as an acceptable final product was flat out wrong.  After tasting it again, the grainy texture was even more pronounced.  So despite The Mistah’s insistence that he’d eat it, there was a (completely premeditated) accident that involved the garbage disposal, caramel 3.0, and a steady stream of hot water.  My hope was to replace it with a proper caramel sauce without The Mistah ever knowing.  Why does this sound like something that would happen if Lucy ever tried to cook for Ricky?  All I needed was a partner in crime, an Ethel.  My only witness to the foolishness that was about to follow was Shadow.  And that doesn’t have the same comic value. Continue reading “Caramel 7.5”

Chicken Curry In A Hurry

Chicken Curry In A Hurry

Dear Bon Appetit,

Please advise who tests your recipes before they go to print?  After making the Chicken Curry In A Hurry from the October 2009 magazine, I’m wondering if you actually read your own recipes.  Here’s why:

#1 – You don’t specify whether the chicken should be skin on or skinless.  Not seeing a directive to remove the skin, I kept in on.  And I had a thick layer of grease staring up at me from the pot when I went to serve.  Ick, nast.

#2 – You specify 3 to 3 1/2 pounds of chicken to be browned in one batch in a large skillet.  Assuming that 12″ counts as a large skillet, please advise how this is possible.  I used all thighs and three pounds worth equaled 8.  If I were to try and brown all eight pieces at once, I’d steam the chicken before I browned it.  Dividing the chicken into two batches makes much more sense.  Especially since the curry paste likes to scorch and the pan needed to be wiped clean.

#3 – Did you really fit 3 pounds of chicken, 14.5 ounces of diced tomatoes (and juice) and 3 cups of onion into a skillet?  Seriously?  I found that I needed to switch over to a 5 quart pot after the chicken was browned off.  You must have magic skillets.

#4 – Did you verify that 25 minutes on a low simmer was all that the chicken needed to cook completely?  Sorry but I really didn’t trust that and tacked on some additional time.  Chicken Curry In A Hurry is a nice idea but Chicken Curry In A Hurry And A Visit To The Emergency Room is not.

#5 – If you’re going to tell me to use a spice that I have to specifically go out and buy, does it have to be $15 per half ounce or whatever the grocery store was charging for cardamom.  Would it have been so hard to suggest alternate spices to use in place of cardamom?  And now that I have an entire container, minus 1 1/2 teaspoons, what the heck do I do with the rest of it?

#6 – I notice a complete absence of any reference to adding yogurt to the final sauce.  For those of us who want to cut the heat of a curry, a tablespoon of plain yogurt mixed into our serving plate is a simple solution that I didn’t see mentioned in the recipe.

#7 – How, in spite of all the above noted items, does it end up that this recipe worked so well?  Must be the magic skillets.

Best Regards,

Wendi @ BAH

Chicken Curry In A Hurry

Bon Appetit September 2009

  • 1/2 cup milk Indian curry paste (such as Patek’s)
  • 1/3 cup white wine vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons minced peeled fresh ginger
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cardamom
  • 3 to 3 1/2 pounds cut up chicken
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 cups chopped onion (about 2 medium onions)
  • 1 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes in juice
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Combine curry paste, vinegar, ginger, cumin, and cardamom in a food processor.  Blend into a paste.  Transfer spice paste to a large bowl, add chicken pieces, and rub to coat well.  Season with salt and pepper.

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large nonstick skillet or dutch oven over medium  high heat.  Add chicken pieces and any  remaining spice paste to the skillet.  Cook about 3 minutes per side or until well browned.  Transfer chicken to a platter.

Add onions to skillet and cook until golden, approximately 5 minutes.  If the pan dries out, add water one tablespoon at a time.  Add tomatoes and juice, bring to a simmer.  Add chicken to the skillet and bring back to a simmer.  Reduce heat to medium low, cover and cook until about 25 minutes until the chicken is cooked through.  Turn chicken once during cooking and add water by 1/4 cupfuls to thin the juices, if desired.

Sprinkle with fresh cilantro and serve.

{Printable Recipe}

In Search Of Update

Thanks to all the great suggestions, tips, and ideas I got in response to my post, I may have found a reasonable replacement for my Grandmother’s aging tool.  Turns out what I’m looking for is called a carborundum stone.  Well of course, knowing that would have made my searching much more fruitful.  Because once I copy and pasted that word into Google, I got all kinds of results.  One of which was an eBay auction of three different sharpening stones.  The tricky part with these old stones is being able to figure out if they are coarse, medium, fine, or a combination.  Two of the ones in the lot I won were described as being combination.  So maybe Grandma gets one and I get the other?

I seriously could not have solved this problem without everyone who commented on the blog or emailed me directly:

Lara – Your email brought tears to my eyes.  Thank you for your spirit.

Emily – It was your reference to  carborundum that pulled all the pieces together.

Beth – Unfortunately the folks at Lombard Hardware weren’t able to solve this problem but they really tried to be helpful.  Best of all, they sharpen knives with same day turnaround.  So when I can’t get to Frank’s in Hamilton, I can try Lombard.

Elizabeth – I’ll let you know how it goes with these stones in case you want to try and get one for your kitchen.

Let Them Eat Cake

Best. Cake. Ever.

I like cooking for my friends.  They’re a good bunch of folks who know that at any given time, they may be subject to testing a new recipe that I’m trying.  It’s kind of an understanding that we have – I gladly cook but new recipes may or may not work as planned.  Convict me for the sin of Pride but I don’t want people to think I’m a bad cook when the reality may be a bad recipe so I try and stick to a rule of not making untested recipes for people who have never had my cooking. Yet, I unknowingly walked into that very situation during this cake quest. Continue reading “Let Them Eat Cake”

Caramel 3.0

Grainy

After my recent failed attempts to make caramel sauce, I thought it was wise to take a time out before giving it another go.  That lasted all of four days.  And then, armed with a five pound bag of Domino’s finest granulated, I was back at it.

BAH Fun Fact – I used to work at the redeveloped Proctor and Gamble site (Tide Point, good times), right next to Baltimore’s iconic Domino’s plant.  From my building, I could watch tankers pull in and unload the sugar for processing.  And you know what, the smell is dreadful.  For real.  You’d imagine that it would be the best smell in the world, light and wispy like cotton candy.  Instead, it smells heavy and dark, like molasses.  Getting away from that was one thing I did not mind about changing jobs.

Like I said, I had a score to settle with caramel sauce.  So once again, I mixed water and sugar, added heat, and let chemistry do its thing.  And would you believe that before too long we were headed down the same path that ended up in crystallized sugar fused to my Calphalon?  I noticed that the bottom of the pot felt grainy all of the sudden.  And sugar crystals were clearly forming in the bubbling syrup.  There’s something about 240 degrees that is a breaking point for me.  If I can get past it, I’m ok.  But so far, that’s been easier said than done.

What’s a home cook to do when she sees that her not yet caramel sauce is about to go past the point of no return?  If you’re me, you throw caution to the wind, say to hell with ratios, and add enough water to the pot to get everything back to a lovely liquid state.  And you start boiling all over again.

I think this was more a save than an actual win because double boiling the syrup couldn’t have really helped matters and the final sauce was grainy.  But I already received confirmation from The Mistah that he’s up to the challenge of using up Caramel 3.0 so that I can get working on Caramel 4.0.  What can I say, he’s willing to take one for the team when he has to.

Alice’s Caramel Sauce

Savory Sweet Life

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream, heated to luke warm in microwave (30 seconds)
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon dark rum (optional)

BAH Note: Alice at Sweet Savory Life says to stir straight away and continue until the syrup begins to change color.  I feel like that may have contributed to my troubles, but then again, I had the same problem when I didn’t stir.  So I can neither confirm nor deny that you should stir throughout the cooking process.  This recipe has you add butter to the sauce.  I don’t remember doing that the last time I successfully made caramel sauce.  But who am I to say no to a pat or two of butter?

Combine sugar and water in a medium sauce pan.  Cook over medium-high until the sugar melts and the syrup begins to turn an amber-brownish color.  This will be approximately 350 degrees on a candy thermometer.

Remove from heat, stir immediately, and pour in 1/2 cup of the warmed heavy cream and add the butter.  The mixture will bubble violently at first.  Keep stirring, carefully, until the sauce relaxes.  Add the remaining cream and rum, if using, and stir until the sauce is smooth.

Transfer the sauce to a heatproof container and allow it to cool for about an hour before refrigerating.  SSL recommends slightly covering the container with plastic wrap as the sauce cools.

Once cool, use immediately or refrigerate.  Refrigerated sauce can be rewarmed in the microwave.

{Printable Recipe}

En Papillote

En Papillote

Traditionally, cooking en papillote means using parchment paper.  Not the kind you write on, so don’t go looking for it at your office supply or card store.  It’s baking/cooking paper that is treated with a bit of nonstick magic and it has countless uses in the kitchen.  Sure I use it to line cake pans and cookie sheets and wrap things like sandwiches, but in a pinch I also use it like a funnel for dry ingredients or a nonstick surface to roll out doughs.  It’s pretty freaking versatile.  I prefer the precut sheets that King Arthur Flour sells and I find that the 100 count really is a Best Buy.  The $19.95 that I just spent to restock my supply will get me a year, maybe a year and a half, or parchment perfection. Continue reading “En Papillote”