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Foodie Treats for Mom

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Written by foodie pam   
Thursday, 06 May 2010
List of viewable recipes from "Baking Kids Love" by Cindy Mushet and Sur La Table

ImageLooking for a special gift for Mom this Mother's Day?  If she's a foodie she'll love something food related.  

For a decadent kid-made treat fresh from the oven the Milk Chocolate Toffee Bars (see recipe below) from Cindy Mushet's Baking Kids Love are perfect as are any of the recipes in this book because the recipes were specifically designed for 8 to 12 year olds.

If you'd rather something a bit more traditional and don't mind cooking first thing in the morning then a family-made breakfast is a great choice.  Keep it simple with something like pancakes (see my favorite pancake recipe below). 

ImageNot up for cooking?  Nudo Adopt-an-Olive-Tree is a fun gift ($109) that sends olive oil from the adopted tree to the foodie of your choice (they get extra virgin olive oil in the spring and infused lemon/chilli in the fall).  I recently tried their extra virgin first cold press olive oil that arrives in the spring shipment.  I enjoyed it so much that I've been specifically seeking out dishes to showcase it in which makes me confident this gift is something any foodie mom would definitely enjoy!

Buttermilk  Pancakes - these pancakes are awesome even without the blueberry compote. Their secret ingredient is sour cream which ensures they come out perfectly moist.


Buttermilk Pancakes with Blueberry Compote

(Bon Appétit, March, 1999)

Ingredients:
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Healthful Info:

This recipe is a little high in fat and sugar however blueberries are loaded with antioxidants. Use them when you can.

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On December 26, 2007, 8:06 pm pam said:

I love pancakes but for some reason they just never taste great when I make them at home. Until now that is. This recipe is simply amazing. The secret ingredient is sour cream - that's right sour cream in pancakes! The result is very fluffy and very tasty pancakes. I didn't make the blueberry topping instead I use some of the pancakes to wrap-up sausage to make pigs-in-a-blanket and the others we ate with Maple syrup. This recipe makes a lot of pancakes so you may want to cut it in half or just freeze any leftovers by layering them in waxed paper so they don't stick together.


Milk Chocolate Toffee Bars

From Baking Kids Love by Cindy Mushet and Sur La Table (Andrews McMeel, 2009)

Makes 36 chewy squares

Ingredients

  • ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened (see page 10)
  • 1 cup tightly packed light brown sugar
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1¼ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup milk chocolate chips
  • ½ cup toffee baking bits

Tools

  • Measuring cups and spoons
  • 8-inch square baking pan
  • Aluminum foil
  • 1 large and 1 medium bowl
  • Electric mixer
  • Silicone spatula
  • Whisk
  • Oven mitts
  • Cooling rack
  • Cutting board
  • Chef's knife
  • Ruler

1. Before you begin

Position an oven rack in the center of the oven, and preheat the oven to 350°F. Turn the pan upside down and mold a piece of aluminum foil to the outside. You should have about an inch of overhang around the edges. Slide the foil off the pan bottom, and turn the pan right side up. Slip the foil inside the pan. Fold down any foil that extends past the top edges over the outsides. Lightly butter the foil, or use pan spray.

2. Mix the dough

Put the butter and sugar in the large bowl. Using the mixer, beat on low speed for 1 minute. Turn up the speed to medium and beat for another minute. The mixture should be blended and smooth. Turn off the mixer. Using the spatula, scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the egg and vanilla and beat on medium-low speed until well blended. Turn off the mixer. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.

Put the flour, baking powder, and salt in the medium bowl and whisk until blended. Add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture and beat on low speed just until no patches of flour are visible. Add the chocolate chips and toffee bits and continue to beat on low until they are evenly blended in the mixture.

3. Fill the pan and bake

Using the spatula, scrape the dough into the prepared pan, and smooth the top in an even layer. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until the top is golden brown. Using the oven mitts, transfer the pan to a cooling rack and let cool completely.

4. Unmold and cut

To remove the big bar from the pan, grasp the foil at the top in 2 places opposite each other and gently pull upward. Set the big bar on a cutting board, and gently peel off the foil. Using the chef's knife, and starting at one side, cut the square into 6 equal strips. Then cut 6 equal strips in the opposite direction. You will have 36 bars. Of course, you can cut the cookies larger or smaller, if you like. Store in an airtight container or a resealable plastic bag for up to 4 days.

Disclosure: Samples of products discussed in this post may have been provided to Project Foodie by publicists and/or manufacturers.

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Last Updated ( Thursday, 06 May 2010 )
 

Going Whole Hog

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Written by Foodie Husband   
Monday, 19 April 2010

 Butcher Block Giveaway! see here

When I heard Williams-Sonoma was presenting an Artisan Butchery Workshop by Chef Taylor Boetticher of Fatted Calf Charcuterie I simply had to attend.  I wasn't disappointed. Within a moment of walking into the demonstration area, I knew the class was going to be special - lying on the work surface was a half hog. 

Image

I shouldn't have been surprised, I did sign-up for a butchering workshop, but having the hog sit there brings the point home. It's decidedly different than looking at the various cuts of meat through the antiseptic glass at your local butcher.

Over the years I've been to quite a few cooking demonstrations. There were two major differences between this Williams-Sonoma class and many of the other demonstrations I've been to. First, the Willams-Sonoma demo kitchen is absolutely gorgeous and perfectly set-up for cooking demonstrations and classes. Second, Chef Boetticher is really into what he does. He wasn't just going through the motions giving yet another class. He truly seemed happy about being there, answering questions, and of course, in his element with hack-saw in hand butchering the hog and showing us the ins and outs (along with ribs, shoulder and butt) of breaking down a hog.

Butcher Block Giveaway! 

ImageBefore I share the experience with you, I want to tell you about an incentive we've got to help with your very own butchering! Project Foodie is giving away a Boos 3" thick 12" square butcher block cutting board (a $120 value) courtesy of Williams-Sonoma.  See below for the contest details, as well as info on the second course in Chef Boetticher's series which is Friday, April 23rd.

ImageOK - now back to the class. After getting seated and munching on some of wonderful Fatted Calf Pâté, Chef Boetticher got down to work. Entertainment was part of the experience, as much as butchering can be made entertaining; Chef Boetticher was certainly up to the task of providing the butchering entertainment. More importantly, there was education to be had. I was there to learn more on how the cuts of pork come to be.

Chef Boetticher started talking about the basic primal cuts: shoulder, belly/loin, and hind. He then got out his hack-saw and knives and began dividing the hog into thirds by counting bones from the front and back to decide where to cut. Chef Boetticher says that butchering is just like carpentry, "measure twice, cut once". Each third is further divided and can be even further divided into smaller and smaller cuts depending on the types of cuts that are desired. Eventually, the dividing stops when you reach sausage makings.

Image

The class was great in clearing up exactly where various cuts come from and how they differ. For example, one of the cuts that confuse many people is Boston Butt. It actually comes from the shoulder, not the hind. Picnic ham also comes from the shoulder area, not to be confused with fresh ham, which comes from the hind. Chef Boetticher also talked about how the animal moves and lives which directly translates into how much fat and connective tissue are in the various cuts. This is why pork belly, pork shoulder, and fresh ham are so different.

After the shoulder and hind were broken down, Chef Boetticher started on the center section. He broke down some of the center section into babyback ribs and a few other smaller cuts, but left the majority of the center for an Italian porchetta (for a few different takes on porchetta, take a look at these in the Project Foodie recipe box). The center was deboned one rib at a time and then rubbed with garlic, rosemary, lemon, pepper, and fennel. Chef Boetticher says that it always takes a little more herb mix than you think you'll need. After the herbs, he rolled up the belly, tied it with string and salted liberally creating one very large serving of porchetta. Unless you're serving 100 people, the center can be cut into 3 to 4 pieces, which is what they do at Fatted Calf.

ImageNot only did we get to watch the butchering and the preparation of the porchetta, we also got to taste one. Although porchetta typically takes 6-8 hours to cook, we had one that had been cooked earlier just for us. Between the incredibly fresh meat, flavorful seasoning, and the all the various cuts all rolled up together, the porchetta was delicious. Normally there's a sauce or other accompaniment to most meats. In this case, there was no need for anything but the pure pork.

Butcher Block Giveaway!

As I mentioned above, to help with your very own butchering Project Foodie is giving away a Boos 3" thick 12" square butcher block cutting board courtesy of Williams-Sonoma. To win, as a registered user (so we know how to notify you if you win), leave a comment at the end of this post on your own experiences with butchering, making porchetta, or something else related to this post. We'll pick the most interesting and/or creative comment as the cutting board winner. Note that to win you must also have a US postal address. We'll announce the winner May 17th.

Next Class

Also, the next class in Willliam Sonoma's special series with Master Chef Taylor Boetticher in on April 23rd at the San Fransisco Williams-Sonoma.  In this class,  Chef Boetticher is back, but without his hacksaw, instead he's focusing on Artisan Sausage Making.  Cost for the class is $100 and it's limited to 30 attendees.  For details call the San Fransisco Williams-Sonoma at (415) 362-9450.

Disclosure: Samples of products discussed in this post may have been provided to Project Foodie by publicists and/or manufacturers.

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Last Updated ( Wednesday, 21 April 2010 )
 

The Importance of Being Irish

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Written by Jeannette Ferrary   
Tuesday, 16 March 2010

ImageI consider myself fortunate indeed to be half Irish. For one thing, this background provided me, in one short childhood, with enough Irish cooking to last me the rest of my life. My mother made all our meals, day in and day out, morning, noon and night, week after week, year upon year. She never complained. We never complained. We never talked about it. What was the use?

She took inspiration from the fact that there were five of us, and we all had to eat every day, three times a day, no matter what. Her culinary style derived from an Irish childhood that included nine children, all of whom had also shown similar thrice-daily tendencies. Thanks to that background, she understood, in its most profound and urgent meanings, exactly what cooking was: it was her job.

By some sort of Irish osmosis, we knew instinctively, my brothers and I, exactly what food was all about. Food was to eat. You felt hungry. You went into the kitchen. You expressed the fact that you were hungry and received the appropriate response: Go play outside until supper is ready. What do you think this is? A restaurant?

Life isn't a restaurant. That was one of the Irish things we grew up knowing for sure. Even restaurants weren't restaurants, at least the ones we went to. Usually they were a lot like Woolworth's, with a few booths across from the counter, and they kept up the quality of their hot cheese sandwiches so you could think you were actually eating at home.

"They put out a good spread," my mother would say to her sister Mildred across the table, and both of them nodded with equal expertise. "And you can't beat the price," Mildred added who, though economy-minded, was a stickler for quality. "I see they use the real Velveeta," she'd remark approvingly, "and the thin-sliced baloney."
Thanks to these family-wide standards of excellence, my mother knew what she needed to know without wasting time clipping recipes and searching through cookbooks. She didn't need any advice on how to boil a cabbage to rags or to what degree of hardness one should bake a pork chop. This wisdom was inherent in the reality-based cookery which she'd inherited, and which protected her from being bamboozled into the culinary acrobatics of other taste-driven cuisines.  She understood the benefits of non-intimidating presentation, never once making us feel that something was too beautiful to eat. A bowl of succotash, she knew, was a bowl of succotash; it wasn't there to look at.

Nor was there any need for the unexpected; quite the contrary. The roast beef, the ham, the chicken, etc--once she'd organized the sequence of meals, it was immutable. And why not? Doesn't the human soul yearn for the phases of the moon, the inexorable cycles of life: the spaghetti, and then the hot dogs, and then the hamburgers. Nor were our taste buds ever assaulted by the shock of a spice. There was no necessity for dried or powdered herbs and even less for fresh.

She believed vegetables were essential, usually defrosting two different kinds per meal. We also had potatoes every night, except when we had sweet potatoes, which happened only twice a year. But even when we had sweet potatoes, we had real potatoes right alongside, just in case. After all, sometimes you're not in the mood for exotic potatoes. My mother understood the importance of variety every once in a while, as long as it didn't become a habit.

Mom's refreshing emphasis on no-frills cooking was easy to learn. Anyone who could boil water was already qualified, if not over trained. But boiling water was just the beginning. Putting something into the water was the next hurdle; and the real test was leaving it in too long. When cooking in this style, knowing when to stop was a disadvantage. What's done is done, we learned; and usually overdone.

Like all the other mothers in our Brooklyn neighborhood, my mother went to Bohacks, around the corner, for all her shopping needs. It was part and parcel of her belief in simplicity: you went to one store, you bought everything you needed in that store. If they didn't have it in Bohacks, as she used to say, who could have it? What's to have? Why drive halfway around the world for some crazy mustard that, when you find it, they charge you an arm and a leg? If you don't have mustard at home, use some catsup for one day. What's the difference?  There was one admissible exception to one-stop shopping, however, and that was Ebinger's Bakery. That was special partly because they wrapped everything up in a green box tied with red-striped string, and because they made Blackout Cake, but mostly because Ebinger's wasn't just around the corner. You had to go there on purpose.

Finally, Mom's cookery was a celebration of unrelenting naturalness. This was back to basics cooking, a return to original meanings. Perhaps nothing captures its nuances better than Archie Bunker's haunting question, years later, "What could be more natural than baloney?"

Irish Potatoes

You don't have to eat potatoes every day, but you could do worse. These are especially good when you're cooking a big roast of something, which you'd also be doing every day if you were really Irish.

  • 5 lbs russet potatoes (the oven's on anyway; why stint?)
  • salt and pepper
  • a roast already cooking in the oven

Cut the potatoes into quarters and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Arrange them around the roast about 2 hours before you're planning to take it out.

Baste the potatoes occasionally with the pan juices. Don't bother rummaging around the drawers for the baster you got for the turkey. Just use a spoon.

If the potatoes stick to the pan, pry them loose and sprinkle them with the sticky stuff. It's the best part.

----------------
Jeannette Ferrary's latest book is Out of the Kitchen: Adventures of a Food Writer.  Author of the memoir/biography of M. F. K. Fisher and six cookbooks, she teaches food writing at Stanford and U. C. Berkeley extension.

Disclosure: Samples of products discussed in this post may have been provided to Project Foodie by publicists and/or manufacturers.

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Last Updated ( Tuesday, 16 March 2010 )
 

Feeding the Famished O'Foodie

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Written by Peggy Fallon   
Thursday, 11 March 2010

ImageI received this assignment by default. Well, okay, maybe I sort of begged for it. St. Patrick's Day is the only time of year when my people take center stage. Both of my parents emigrated from Ireland in the 1920's, so my 5 siblings and I are first generation Americans and 100% Irish. Forget the stupid green beer, the "Kiss Me I'm Irish" buttons, the sappy music, dancing leprechauns, and spirited parades down rainy city streets. I just wanna eat (See my St. Patrick's Day menu below).

This is the day when everybody can be Irish. I can't blame all the poor unfortunates for climbing onto our bandwagon-it really is a wonderful heritage, if I do say so myself. Centuries of political oppression spawned a dark sense of humor that lives on to this day. Never mind our characteristic lack of height, predisposition toward freckles, and lifelong addiction to sunscreen. The Irish know how to party, and everybody wants a piece of the action on March 17.

Fifty years ago Irish cooking was little more than the punch line to a joke-a cuisine so scorned, it was ranked only slightly better than England's. Ireland was a poor country with a less-than-sunny climate, so its cooks merely played the hand they were dealt. Oh, the Irish enjoyed food-but no one else in the world was clamoring to eat their overcooked meat and mushy root vegetables. Salad? Huh? Dessert? How about some fruitcake? These choices weren't considered Spartan-it was just life.

My parents were a product of that era, so that is pretty much the food I grew up on. (Don't even get me started on dulse, my family's answer to Beluga caviar.) While other kids in our neighborhood popped strange tart-like things into the toaster and slurped their way through bowls of sugary American cereal, breakfast at our house was often crisp bacon and soft-boiled eggs (served in egg cups, of course), mopped up with Mom's raisin-studded Irish soda bread and washed down with steaming hot cups of tea- made kid-friendly with plenty of milk and sugar. In retrospect we were incredibly fortunate, though at the time friends viewed our meals as freakishly quaint.

A talent for making decent libations was about the only thing that earned the Irish a spot on the culinary map. Maybe this is why Americans invented their own misguided version of what Irish food should be: corned beef boiled-to-death with spuds and smelly cabbage. I suppose if you drank enough, you might even enjoy it.

But sometimes time heals all ills. A generation-or-two ago the economy of Ireland began to thrive. The young became well educated and well traveled, and suddenly a big ol' pot of greasy lamb stew was no longer the solution to every entertaining dilemma. Food magazines began to celebrate the natural bounty of Ireland-organically grown vegetables; artisan cheeses; free-range meats; and fish plucked from clean waters. Suddenly farmhouse cuisine was chic. Even soda bread got some respect. Irish chefs became sophisticated locovores, and their country has now become a destination for world-class food.

To celebrate this revolution (one of Ireland's more successful ones, I might add), I've scoured Project Foodie in search of recipes to explore your inner Irish…everything from the slightly tacky (boozy green milkshakes) to the sublime (roasted wild salmon with dill). Some recipes feature traditional fare; while others were selected merely for that irresistible touch of green. Breakfast, lunch, dinner, desserts, appetizers, and drinks-we've got 'em all. It's never been easier to decide how you want to roll on March 17.

ImageMy personal menu selections follow; but I encourage you to scan through the dozens (and dozens) of recipes I've tagged. At the top of the Project Foodie webpage, look beneath the Recipe Search box, and you'll see lots of "tag" topics written in red. Simply click on "St. Patrick's Day" (or click on the big green Shamrock) and wait for the fun to unfold.

A Cozy Dinner for Four

Beer-Battered Asparagus

Aunt Polly's Lamb Shanks

Buttermilk Mashed Potatoes 

Country Rhubarb Cake

Irish Coffee

Peggy Fallon's "Irish Potato" Candies

I am an absolute sucker for anything trompe l'oeil…the French term for "trick the eye." Every March for about as long as I can remember, a local premium candy maker has been selling "Irish potato" candies. The sight of them makes me squeal with delight, but the overly sweet flavor of the marshmallowy confection is always a disappointment. Now I make my own bite-size spuds, using a basic chocolate truffle recipe-such as the following-spiked with an Irish liqueur or whiskey. Instead of forming into balls, I  roll the mixture into small, irregular ovals that resemble tiny fingerling potatoes; then roll them in a blend of sweet ground chocolate and cocoa powder, such as Ghirardelli brand. (I think its lighter color makes better "dirt" than plain unsweetened cocoa powder.) For the final touch, I insert a couple of randomly-spaced toasted pine nuts into each truffle to resemble sprouting eyes. Too cute…and perfectly yummy. PF


Beer-Battered Asparagus

(Gourmet, March, 2005)

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Aunt Polly’s Lamb Shanks

(Saveur, March, 1999)

Tender, fall-off-the-bone lamb, slow-roasted vegtables, and a sprinkling of mint combine in a dish that easily serves as a meal.
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Buttermilk Mashed Potatoes

(Everyday Food, September, 2006)

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Country Rhubarb Cake

(Gourmet, March, 2004)

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Irish Coffee

(Martha Stewart Living, March, 2009)

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Chocolate Truffles

(Sunset, February, 2002)

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Comments:

On March 7, 2010, 2:02 pm peggy said:

For a wonderful St. Patrick's Day treat, flavor these with your favorite Irish liqueur or whiskey.


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Last Updated ( Thursday, 11 March 2010 )
 

Spice & Ice Virtual Cocktail Party

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Written by Heather Jones   
Tuesday, 02 March 2010

ImageI recently had the opportunity to attend a phenomenal food writers conference in New York City where I listened to a panel on wine & spirits writing that featured cookbook author Kara Newman. Although I was remiss in introducing myself to Ms. Newman I did have an opportunity to check out her recently released book Spice & Ice and was thrilled to hear that she was going to be holding a “Virtual Cocktail Party”. 

The party commences on Wednesday, March 3rd with several bloggers and food writers recalling their experiences making one of the fun drinks from Kara’s book.  My real life cocktail for the virtual party included an entire brunch centering on the Red Dawn cocktail (see recipe below). 

This drink is not your mother’s Bloody Mary, all of the cocktails in Kara's book focus on the “spice” element, spicy savory flavors instead of sweet and this one is no exception.  The Red Dawn cocktail gives you the familiar flavor profile that you love in a Bloody Mary and it's frightfully easy to make. One ingredient that pulls it all together is Harissa.  Harissa is a Moroccan chili paste whose components easily replace the traditional tabasco, lemon juice, worcestershire, and celery salt combination that is normally found in a Bloody Mary. 

But please do not take my word for it.  You’ve got to try this drink for yourself. 

I've also listed a few brunch recipes below that are the perfect compliment to the Red Dawn.

Red Dawn

Spice & Ice by Kara Newman, Chronicle Books 2009.

Yield: 1 drink

While this makes a fabulous brunch drink (hence the name), and it’s less work than a traditional Bloody Mary, enjoy this harissa-spiked libation any time of day. Harissa is a Tunisian hot sauce or paste made with smoked chile peppers, garlic, olive oil, and spices like cumin or coriander. (Get harissa in a tube for longest shelf life). Masochist alert: double the amount of harissa if you dare!

2 ounces Citron-infused vodka
4 ounces Tomato juice
1/2 teaspoon Harissa
Lemon wedge, for garnish

Combine first three ingredients in a glass filled with ice, and garnish with lemon wedge.


Brunch recipes that pair well with the Red Dawn


Savory French Toast

(Martha Stewart Living, April, 2001)

Ingredients:
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Crab Eggs Benedict

(Sunset, December, 2006)

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Last Updated ( Monday, 01 March 2010 )
 
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