Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Tira My Sue



Birthdays are special in our family. They always have been, and they always will be. I have many fond memories of birthdays. Ice blocking when it failed to snow when I was 9. A tube party at Discovery Zone, dressing up like puppies and having a dog party (that one was my sister's but I imagined it to be mine...except I never got any presents...)

The last few years, I have thrown myself my own parties. When you get older and live away from home, sometimes you need to treat yourself. Or other people--we had a Bieber party for a roommate of mine a few years ago.

Since I love birthdays so much, I tend to go a bit overboard. Last year I made my husband (my then fiance a birthday cake extraodinaire. It cost me over $30 dollars to make, but eating it was worth every penny.

Yesterday we celebrated my MIL's birthday. The treat? Tiramisu. The food of the gods.





It took awhile to find the right ingredients, and we adapted the recipe a bit for budget purposes. Still. Heavenly. And it's currently in my fridge, calling out my name..."Alex, put a spoon in me and dig in. You ran home from the bus today. No worries. I'm delicious. EAT ME! "

TIRAMISU
Serves 6 (definitely not true. If you budget wisely, you can feed over 10 people)

2 egg whites
4 egg yolks
1 1/ cups powdered sugar
1 3/4 cup mascarpone cheese*
7 ounces lady fingers
3/4 cup freshly brewed, extra strong coffee, cooled**
7 ounces semisweet chocolate, grated
unsweetend cocoa powder, for dusting

Stiffly whisk the egg whites in a grease-free bowl. Beat the egg yolks with the sugar in another bowl until pale and fluffy. Gently fold in the mascarpone, then the egg whites. Make a layer of lady fingers on the base of a deep, rectangular serving dish and brush them evenly with coffee. (NOTE: we dipped the lady fingers and then placed them in a 8x 8 in glass baking dish)
Cover with a layer of the mascarpone cream and sprinkle with a little grated chocolate and cocoa powder. Continue making layers until all the ingredients are used. Ending with a layer of mascarpone cream. Dust with cocoa and chill in the refrigerator for about 3 hours, or overnight.

(Note: since this cream is made of raw egg and cheese, make sure you keep it refrigerated as much as possible; don't let it sit out too long or you may increase the risk of getting sick)




*we are poor college students. So we broke the Italian rule and used cream cheese blended with 1/2 cup fresh whipped cream. My husband nearly choked at my barbaric and monstrous suggestion. I think it still tasted great, but next time, I'll try it with the mascarpone.

**for those of you who are non-coffee drinkers I suggest using PERO. This is a non-caffenaited beverage popular in Europe, and less popular in the States. It is made of roasted chicory and barley rather than coffee beans. Similar in taste (I assume from the smell, since I've never drunk coffee myself) and I frequently use it as a substitute in the recipes I make that call for the stronger stuff.



Multigrain bread on the brain

Bread is good for you. Especially when it is homemade, and tastes like Germany. And has lots of whole grains in it. So what are you waiting for? Eat up!


Multi-Grain German Bread
original recipe inspired by the crusty crusts of the Alps

Difficulty level: beginner
Total time: 16 hours from start to finish. Don't let that frighten you, most of that time is rest/rise time. 


Ingredients:
4 1/2 cups of all purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup of flax seeds
1/4 cup of wheat germ
1/4 cup of corn meal
1/2 t. instant or active-dry yeast
2 1/2 t. salt
2 2/3 c. cool water

 Directions:
In a large bowl, combine the flour, yeast, and salt. Add the water and stir until all the ingredients are well incorporated; the dough should be wet and sticky. You know it's done when the dough will begin to stick to itself instead of the bowl.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Let the dough rest 13 hours on the counter at room temperature. When surface of the risen dough has darkened slightly, smells yeasty, and is dotted with bubbles, it is ready.

Lightly flour your hands and a work surface. Place dough on work surface and sprinkle with more flour. Fold the dough over on itself once or twice and, using floured fingers, tuck the dough underneath to form a rough ball.



Dust a cotton towel with flour so that the dough will not stick to the towel while it is rising. Place dough seam side down on the towel and dust with more flour.  Cover with the edges or a second cotton towel and let rise for about 2 hours, or until it has doubled in size.

When you reach the 1.5 hour mark of rising time, preheat your oven to 425 degrees F. You will need a 6-8 quart heavy covered pot, such as a cast-iron Dutch oven, to be in the oven as it heats. When the dough has fully risen, carefully remove pot from oven. Remove top towel from dough and slide your hand under the bottom towel; flip the dough over into pot, seam side up. The dough will straighten our as it bakes, but if it lands in the pot sideways, give it a slight shake to settle it. 

 Cover and bake for 40-50 minutes. Uncover and continue baking about 5-10 more minutes, until a deep chestnut brown. The internal temp of the bread should be around 200 degrees. You can check this with a meat thermometer, if desired. Another great way to check if bread is done is to give it a good knock/thump. If it sounds hollow; presto finito!

Remove the bread from the pot and let it cool completely on a wire rack before slicing. This bread will not rise very high in the oven, but it should bake up with a nice crackly crust nonetheless. 




Delicous as a toasty sandwich with salad. Or just plain with butter.



Feeling stressed? How about a pot of soup!

School started again for hubby this week. Work has been mayhem, but is finally calming down.

We settled on soup for dinner on Monday night. Was it delicious? Make it and try for yourself. Don't forget the bread.

All I can say is, BRING ON THE TRUMPETS!

http://youtu.be/zXU9Ur9QznE

ROASTED CARROT AND GARLIC SOUP
adapted from How to Cook Everything


1 1/2 pounds of carrots, peeled and cut into strips
1 pound of baby red potatoes cut in half
olive oil for drizzling
3 cloves garlic, smashed with the flat of your knife
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground cilantro
salt and pepper
2 1/2 Cups chicken broth
1 cup diced onions

1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F while you peel and cut the carrots and potatos. Place the vegetables in a large bowl and drizzle with the olive oil, then dust with the cumin, cilantro, salt and pepper. Spread them out onto a large baking sheet and place the smashed garlic on the baking sheet as well. Roast vegetables for about 35 minutes, or until starting to golden, they should be tender when pierced with a fork.

2. When the vegetables are done roasting, take them out of the oven, and try not to eat them all, they will smell divine and taste even better. Go ahead and have a sample, it will whet your appetite. To a medium saucepan, add 2 tsp olive oil, and the onions. Saute until they are soft. Add the chicken broth and the roasted vegetables (potatoes, garlic and carrots). Bring to a boil, then simmer for 5 minutes. 

3. Turn off the heat using either an immersion blender, or by pouring your soup into an upright blender, puree until smooth. (NOTE: Husband liked chunks of potato so if you think you will too, add the potatoes after you have pureed the carrots and the broth. This would work better in an upright blender) Blend in batches if need be.

4. Pour soup back into the saucepan and cook for another 5 minutes. I only do this to make sure the soup is piping hot, mostly I just bring up the temperature again. Serve the soup with walnuts and feta cheese. And of course, homemade multigrain bread.

Serves 4.

Trust me. You will NOT be disappointed in this recipe. The garlic makes it heavenly. I'm a huge proponent of garlic.

HAHAHAHAHA TRUMPETS!

Family Funnin and Foodin

This weekend marked the return of my sister to school at Utah State. She and my dad arrived after their cross-country drive from Maryland. We celebrated with dinner in Logan at the Beehive Grill. It was fairly good food, their special fry sauce was unique and delicious. I hear they have a rootbeer brewery, but we didn't sample. After an attempted barbeque with GPA and GMA, who had come down from Idaho to camp over the weekend, we returned to my sister's apartment discouraged: we had spent the last half hour driving around the campsite in the dark, looking for their camper. No luck.

It was not until the next day that we tried again. Saturday we ate and ate and ate. Episode 1. hotel breakfast; Dad apparently loves hotel eggs...why? No idea. I guess he likes the chewy, rubbery and runny feel of them in his mouth...? Gross. I like my eggs well done.

Episode 2. Kneaders. Hubby and I split the homemade pancakes. The girl at the register wrongly told us they were sourdough. They were buttermilk. Any pancake lover could have told the difference. And trust me, we are all pancake lovers. I do admit, these were pretty good for a restaurant pancake. Larger than the plate they come on, a grand 3 stack of hotcakes and caramel (pronounced car-mel) syrup (sir-up) not (care-a-mel sear-up) with whipped butter and strawberries (on the short side) was a cozy way to warm up in the crisp Logan air. Naturally, being fall in Utah, it was 90 degrees F by 11 am even though in the early morning, it was only about 60 and glorious.

Episode 3. Old Grist Mill apple puff pastries. We get these every time we drive to Logan. They are delicious. This time, ours were so fresh that the icing was still running down the sides! MMMMMM boy! That's good eatin.

Episode 4. Lunch. Grandpa and Grandma, who we did eventually find nestled away in the woods, had prepared a dutch oven feast. My Grandpa is quite the character; he owns every size dutch oven but two: the 11 inch and the 13 inch. What makes them different? You would have to ask him that. The straightest answer he gave me is that the odd sized ones are deeper and thicker than the average dutch oven. For this event, I think he used the 22 inch and the 20 inch, or somewhere thereabouts. We had ribs with homemade barbeque sauce, and green beans with bacon. The yellow jackets enjoyed the meal almost as much as we did: they love meat, and the smell of the sweet, meaty ribs drew in a whole colony to the point that J had to scamper off and eat by the fire pit. Uncle and aunt brought fresh veggies, mostly from their garden, and I brought our family favorite chocolate cake.

Episode 5. We drove home to Provo after a delightful, hours long, food and laughter filled luncheon and concluded that lunches in the woods are 100 times better than luncheons in restaurants, at least as far as family gatherings go. Dad and J munched on the amazing new bread recipe we created. (more to follow)

All in all, an awesome weekend.

If you need the recipe for this cake know this:  you can't have this recipe and eat it too. If you want it, you'll have to ask for it.  It's a SECRET :)


Saturday, August 18, 2012

Cravin some Artisan








So not long ago, Jared learned to bake the most wonderful bread. We use it to impress all our friends. I even bought a special dutch oven just so we could bake it better (the pan we used previously was too small). Please help yourselves to make this and fall in love. Just like I did. With both Man and his Bread.

No Knead Artisan Bread
slightly adapted from Jim Lahey’s My Bread


Wait time: 2o hours and 30 minutes. But so worth every second 

INGREDIENTS
 
6 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for work surface (bread flour is recommended, but we never have that on hand when the craving strikes)
1/2 t. instant or active-dry yeast
2 1/2 t. salt
2 2/3 c. cool water


 DIRECTIONS
  1. In a large bowl, combine the flour, yeast, and salt. Add the water and stir until all the ingredients are well incorporated; the dough should be wet and sticky. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Let the bowl of dough rest 12-18 hours on the counter at room temperature. When the surface of the risen dough has darkened slightly, smells yeasty, and is dotted with bubbles, it is ready.
  2. Lightly flour your hands and a work surface. Place dough on work surface and sprinkle with more flour. Fold the dough over on itself once or twice and, using floured fingers, tuck the dough underneath to form a rough ball.
  3. Generously dust a cotton towel (not terry cloth) with enough flour, cornmeal, or wheat bran to prevent the dough from sticking to the towel as it rises; place dough seam side down on the towel and dust with more flour, cornmeal, or wheat bran. Cover with the edges or a second cotton towel and let rise for about 2 hours, until it has doubled in size.
  4. After about 1 1/2 hours, preheat oven to 425-450 degrees. Place a 6-8 quart heavy covered pot, such as a cast-iron Dutch oven, in the oven as it heats. When the dough has fully risen, carefully remove pot from oven. Remove top towel from dough and slide your hand under the bottom towel; flip the dough over into pot, seam side up. Shake pan once or twice if dough looks unevenly distributed; it will straighten out as it bakes.


  1. Cover and bake for 40-50 minutes. Uncover and continue baking about 5-10 more minutes, until a deep chestnut brown. The internal temp of the bread should be around 200 degrees. You can check this with a meat thermometer, if desired.
  2. Remove the bread from the pot and let it cool completely on a wire rack before slicing.
  3. Enjoy with butter, jam, olive oil and balsamic, cheese, salad, spaghetti sauce, stroganoff, chicken salad, three bean salad, as french toast, with homemade soup, with hot chocolate, or hummus. We have done all this and more. Oh ps. This bread is amazing just by itself, it doesn't need anything else.
We are planning to make this again and again. We have always allowed it to rise the full 18 hours, so of course, it takes careful planning when you start this bread so that you aren't baking at 2 am. Yeah, we've done that too... :)





 

Friday, August 10, 2012

How Puzzling

Anniversary number one was spent in Park City, UT. A happy event made more fun by the Kimball Arts festival, which was in town that weekend. All of Main Street was lined with stalls of glass, pottery, paintings, photographs, statues and all other imaginable kinds of artwork. Since year one anniversary gifts are meant to be something paper, Jared and I searched everywhere with some little success for such a gift. We thought about getting a photograph of a beautiful vista of the American west, or a painting of an Italian countryside. Unfortunately at this point in our lives, any of those items were a good $2500+ out of our price range (unless we wanted to buy a 4x6 print...which we didn't). Instead I did what I always do when faced with a financial dilemma: to buy or not to buy? The answer is always not to buy.

We decided instead to use our many overseas experiences to print out some smashing good shots at Costco and use those for decoration instead. Not that we didn't get any souvenirs. Quite the contrary.









However, those souvenirs were more along the lines of, That looks delicious. Take a bite. Confirm. Purchase. So, at the Mount Olive Oil Co. we bought a bottle of Maple Balsamic vinegar to be used on waffles in the future (come back for details). From a stall we bought a strawberry rhubarb jam. At Harry and David we bought 3 jars of salsa: peach, black bean and corn, and raspberry chardonnay. And of course we ate ice cream at Java Cow (Strawberry and Coconut Joy), and bought a caramel apple at the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Co. Dinner was a succulent Kobe Bleu burger at Bandit's Grill and Bar.

For us, those kinds of souvenirs are the typical, the standard, and the tradition. On our honeymoon we bought a Blueberry Balsamic in California; a gem that features amazingly on salad and surprisingly well on vanilla ice cream. I also want to try the Maple on some pork chops.


But enough about food, we also finally were able to watch the Olympics since the Opening Ceremonies. Since our apartment does not have cable we have been trying to satisfy ourselves by reading the news, and the social network feeds, and hearing the gossip about who is winning what. With wondering awe we watched Michael Phelps win the 200 m butterfly final, and Katie Ledecky win the woman's 800 m freestyle. Our room was situated literally right next to the pool, so with our cheering echoing around our small room, and the smell and splashing sounds from the pool outside our door,  it seemed almost as if we were there.

Saturday saw us at the Outlets for the majority of the day. We made an excellent haul, and I even bought Jared's Christmas present. Dinner at Caffe Molise, Salt Lake City was divine. Truly, if you live within 80 miles of this place you must dine there at least once, it is that phenomenal. I will spare you my raving and just let you slobber over these pictures. I have never wanted to lick my plate clean more than that night. My mother would be proud to know that I did not.

Finalement a le fin de la notre, nous trouvons un cadeau. We bought a puzzle! Which is of course, French themed. Not that you can really tell from looking at it. It's a taste theme.







Monday, August 6, 2012

A short story

Once upon a time, in a magical land called England, there were two young and beautiful people, a handsome man and a fair maiden. They had met several months before, at a ball, but strict guardians kept them from being together. It was very difficult and heartbreaking for them both. One day, the young man decided to brave the wicked king and defy his rules. He set out on a quest to win the heart of the fair maiden. Enlisting the help of his trusty friend Sir Jonathan, he asked the fair maiden to a dinner. They dined of the fare of Chef Wagamama, a foreigner with a delightful culinary skill. 

A tender chord of fancy was struck within the heart of the fair maiden. Here was a man who could be the champion of her heart. She was still slightly unsure, and tested him by dragging him through the slovenly sheep fields and coal mines of Wales. She wanted to know if he would stand by her through times dark and grey, as well as the shining moments. He countered with an offer of a journey to Italy. He wanted to test her to see if she could stand on her own two feet in a place where she did not speak the language and she had to surrender her independence to stay by his side and receive his counsel.

Happily, the testing grounds proved them both true. They even managed a bit of romance amongst all that testing. However, the wicked king separated them again, for a short time only, because the young maiden escaped to a farther away land. She hid there, amongst friendly woodland creatures and cheerful young fairies and tried to sort out her feelings.

The young man also pondered. But in the end he knew what he wanted. He once again set out to win her heart. When the fair maiden returned to the not so magical land of Utah, he was there to greet her. Her heart was filled with joy, and she realized how happy she was with him. They began a courtship and later an engagement. Even though threatened by glittering offers of work in an eastern land, their love stayed true.

One year ago August 5th, I married my handsome young man. We have had quite the adventure since then, and true to real fairy-tales, it has been buffeted by storm, evil villains, and rejuvenated by kindness and miracles. My fairy-tale ending is by no means over. It is only just beginning.