Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Dare I Say "Rachael Ray"?

I know, I know. There is no Foodtv personality that insights stronger feelings than Rachael Ray. I will not even attempt to enter that minefield but I will say this: she is annoying, her show is annoying, her food is wonderful.

Sometimes Bon Appetit and Gourmet, as yummy as their recipes are, seem just too involved and fussy for a weeknight supper. I need something quick, something that uses ingredients that are in my house and won't take longer than an hour tops to create. Enter Rachael Ray. I have two of her cookbooks which I use on occasion but I also find her website to be very helpful. Less Rachael, more recipes if you know what I mean. If we have some random ingredient lying around the house that may go bad within days, I hop on her site and search the recipes. It is in this way that I came across this corn "stoup" - I know, I know, where does she get these dumb names?

What I like about this soup is that it is hearty, flavorful and packs a big vegetable punch without feeling too vegetarian. Josh and Justin will eat veggies, but they don't really want to know that they are. It's a fine line. Ultimately, this soup won them over in a big way. I threw some 'take and bake' bread in the oven and served it along side for an easy meal after the hockey game on Sunday night. There would be pictures except it was eaten too fast for the camera. Mine looked alot like the pic on the website, honestly.

Quick notes:
I used a food processor and finely chopped the red pepper and onion to make the soup less chunky and a little creamier. The guys seemed to like that.

In order to make it a little healthier, I skipped the cream and added a can of skim evaporated milk. Just remember to cook the soup with the broth only and add the evaporated milk at the very end. The long cooking time tends to make it seperate and curdle.

I also dropped the two cups of milk/ cream and just used the can of milk. That would have been far too much liquid. Add a cup of milk, or a cup of cream or whatever you like.

The only thing I would have added if I had some available, is chopped up kielbasa sausage. I know it negates the vegetarian aspect but it would have made it a little hardier and added a little something extra.

Harvest Corn "Stoup"

2 tablespoons olive oil
4 slices bacon, chopped
1 onion, chopped
1/2 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 pound small potatoes, cut into small chunks
4 to 5 large ears corn, kernels scraped from the cobs, or one 10-ounce box frozen corn
1 medium or 2 small zucchini, finely chopped
5 to 6 sprigs thyme
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon paprika
3 tablespoons flour
One 32-ounce container (4 cups) chicken broth
1 cup milk
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
Salt and pepper
Hot pepper sauce

In a medium soup pot, heat the olive oil, over medium-high heat. Add the bacon and cook until crisp at the edges.

Add the onion and bell pepper and cook until softened, about 4 minutes.

Add the potatoes, corn, zucchini, thyme, bay leaf and paprika and cook for 4 minutes.

Sprinkle the flour into the pot, stir and cook for 1 minute.

Gradually stir in the broth and simmer until thickened a bit.

Stir in the milk, cream and parsley and simmer until the potatoes are tender, about 8 minutes

Season the corn choup to taste with salt, pepper and hot pepper sauce.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

My First Contest

It's true. Browniebabes is the first food blog contest I have entered. Funny that the baked good I despise most of all turned out to be the feature of the chosen contest. Ah, well. You have to start somewhere. Now that I have the hang of it, I am hoping to enter many more. It is always fun to be given a challenge.
Thanks Myriam for the event. Check out the entries and the winner at Once Upon A Tart.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Baking A Classic

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.usMore laundry last night. I am starting to think that my clothes multiply while I am at work. I swear I just put in a load of jeans two days ago. This is ridiculous. I wouldn't mind so much if all of our clothes were wash and wear but, being a downtown office job household, all of our weekly clothes have fancy tags with specific instructions. I break the rules constantly resulting in shrunken and mishapen shirts but, for the most part, I try not to ruin our wardrobes. It's a long, boring and thankless job.
In order to break up the tedium, I baked. What a shocker, I know. Making something new from my pile of recipes is so therepeutic. This little gem is a classic. I wrote about it previously on this blog when I was dieting and practically dreaming about cake. Well, I am still dieting so the entire cake was packed up for Josh's office without so much as a bite snuck. It sure smelled good though. And why shouldn't it? The lovely Ina Garten herself made it. Nothing she touches has ever flopped I am sure.
The only thing I did not do was make the Chocolate Ganache glaze which I included in the recipe anyway. Ganache is not a favorite of mine and I am too nervouse of wrecking it to waste the chocolate chips. Besides, I doubled the orange syrup and that made it sweet enough. I would suggest doubling the orange syrup and glazing the cake with half of it right when the cake comes out of the oven. It will soak in right away and make wonderful bubbling noises. Then I glaze it again when the cake is almost cool so that the syrup forms a nice crust. This is the technique I use on all of my bundt cakes and I think it works very well.
My only other issue, as per usual, is that my stove temperature must not be right. It took one hour and 20 minutes at 350 degrees. Not one hour as stated in the recipe. I think, though, in this case it might not be my oven but the recipe that is wrong. I have never made a bundt cake that only took one hour to bake. At any rate, use a knife or a toothpick to check for doneness at one hour.

Ina Garten’s Orange Chocolate Chunk Cake
½ pound unsalted butter at room temperature
2 cups sugar
4 extra-large eggs at room temperature
¼ cup grated orange zest (from 4 large oranges)
3 cups all-purpose flour plus 2 tablespoons
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
¼ cup freshly squeezed orange juice
¾ cup buttermilk at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups good semisweet chocolate chunks
Syrup: ¼ cup sugar ¼ cups freshly squeezed orange juice
Ganache: 8 ounces good semisweet chocolate chips ½ cup heavy cream 1 teaspoon instant coffee granules
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). Grease and flour a 10-inch Bundt pan.
2. Cream the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment for about 5 minutes, or until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, then the orange zest.
3. Sift together 3 cups flour, the baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl. In another bowl, combine the orange juice, buttermilk, and vanilla. Add the flour and buttermilk mixtures alternately in thirds to the creamed butter, beginning and ending with the flour. Toss the chocolate chunks with 2 tablespoons flour and add to the batter. Pour into the pan, smooth the top, and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until a cake tester comes out clean. Let the cake cool in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes.
4. Meanwhile, make the syrup. In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, cook the sugar with the orange juice until the sugar dissolves. Remove the cake from the pan, set it on a rack over a tray, and spoon the orange syrup over the cake. Allow the cake to cool completely.
5. For the ganache, melt the chocolate, heavy cream, and coffee in the top of a double boiler over simmering water until smooth and warm, stirring occasionally. Drizzle over the top of the cake.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

A Twist on the Marshmallow Brownie

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.usI don't like to mess with recipes. Sometimes I will add chocolate chips or change the type of liquer used, but for the most part I stick to what is written. Baking is too much of a science to mess with it, and while I admire greatly those cooks who can create and change a recipe, I know it will never be a skill of mine.

Somehow, though, shortly after making the Butterscotch Marshmallow Blondies, I got the brainstorm to rearrange the chips used and create something new. I won't say that this is the brownie winner of winners, but I would make it again with some changes especially because I like the taste of brownies better than blondies.

The only difference I made to the blondie recipe a couple of posts down is to switch the chocolate chips in for the butterscotch and the butterscotch in for the chocolate chips. The only problem with this is that I think butterscotch chips are genetically made different than their chocolate kin and work well as a dough base, whereas the chocolate chips kept the dough kind of dry.

You will also notice in the picture that the marshmallows blew up in the oven and left craters in the top of the brownies. There goes all the gooey marshmallow goodness in the middle of the bars. To remedy this, and I wish I would have thought of it earlier, I would have mixed the marshmallows into 2/3's of the dough and spread into the pan and then spread the remaining 1/3 dough over the top so that the marshmallows were encased inside. That would have been brilliant and way yummier.

So the bottom line is, the switch was do-able and delicious, it just needed more fine tuning. All in all, I love this recipe whether I eat it as chocolate or butterscotch.

Eight interesting things...

I have been tagged by Trish at One Tiny Pink Kitchen to tell everyone eight things about me you may not know. I also have to tag eight more people which may be challenging as I think most blogs have this entry by now.

These lists are always difficult for me because I assume that most of my life is either an open book or extremely boring and of no interest to anyone, especially when I could insert a recipe in here instead.

1. I have a fascinating and useless degree in Sociology where I focused most of my time on Youth and Family studies, especially interested in the male female parenting roles. Can we say yawn yet?

2. I took the LSAT exam right out of college with the high aspirations of law school. My marks were amazing but sadly, I lacked "life experience". I still to this day am not sure what that means. Apparently I did not feed enough orphans and house enough homeless people. The suggestion that a trip to Africa might help my chances was even batted around by the admissions clerk.

3. I am crazy and hopelessly in love with the long running Frasier series. There is something about the dry humor that I love. This leads into #4....

4. I want two dachshunds named Niles and Daphne in honor of my two favorite characters. Plus, they will both be fixed to continue the true nature of those characters ... they can never find love with one another. If only that had been true on the show.

5. I visit Whitefish, MT every year for Thanksgiving. Mainly because I love to shop in the States where everything is cheaper and cooler and Ben & Jerry's comes in more than 10 flavors.

6. My husband and I went to Disneyland for our honeymoon. We have been teased mercilessly about that, but the thought of laying on the beach is not appealing to two people who can hardly sit still long enough to finish a tv show. We had an amazing time and I would recommend it as a honeymoon to anyone. Romantic and most of all, fun.

7. I am easily placated with KitKats. Josh has figured this out and now uses it as a weapon against me.

8. My favorite job in the whole world is bartending. I think I would do it as a career if the bank would recognize the salary and give me a mortgage. That and if bars did not require so little clothing to do the job.

Ok, so that is 8 random facts about me. I guess this wasn't as hard as I thought. I have enjoyed reading everyone else's lists. It's funny what we all like and don't like and do and don't do in our spare time.