WW~TFF~Joust-Such is Life

30 06 2009

Once in awhile reality bites…and not usually very nicely.  We took a quick camping trip to restore some of my sanity, and when we came home our refrigerator was on the fritz. The freezer side was frosted up and the fridge side was warmer than it was supposed to be. I thought maybe it just needed to be cleaned out..so the air could circulate better. Nice logic. So I cleaned and rearranged things and things were better for a few days.  And then I noticed the frost building up on the back wall of the freezer again. Yesterday, it quit again. I looked up fridge maintenance, and…realized I needed to call a repairman. Cool. Done. He was here first thing this morning. After an hour of defrosting behind the panel, the verdict was our “motherboard” went out. There’s a computer in my fridge? Ok..I can buy that. Apparently I did…Motherboard…ummm…how much? Ouch! And just what is the life expectency of a refrigerator in the 21st century?? 7 YEARS? (And this one is how old already…?) The upshot is that in order to repair our hated and despised side-by-side (I thought it would work, I measured, I checked, I still hate it) it would only cost double the repair bill to buy a new fridge. NOT a decision I expected to need to be making just at the moment.  So, a bit of quick checking and double checking, and back we went. The new one will be delivered 1st call tomorrow morning. That will end this roller coaster of meal-not-planning.  We have 5# of ribs thawed, and 5# of pot roast thawed…and there are 2 of us. That’s meal-not-planning. We BBQ’d the ribs and made shredded beef from the pot roast, but there was no planning involved. Maybe next week…maybe not. Next week we’re preparing to take our 17 yo granddaughter camping. There will be loads of planning there, but I don’t know that any of my cooking will fit in any of the groups! LOL! Ah…’tis summer!


TFF~Yorkshire Popovers

26 06 2009

One of the really great things about Tyler Florence is his versatility.  If I’ve got a particular item in the fridge, I can almost always find a recipe for it by Tyler Florence.  So…when we finally got a chance to cook the sweet little prime rib roast I found at the market, I searched to see what Tyler had going on.  I try to keep my eye out for a single bone prime rib at about 3 pounds.  A little more is better, a little less makes it touchy to cook right.  Sure enough, Tyler had an “Ultimate” recipe for prime rib with a garlic-horseradish crust.  Splendid.  In America one immediately asks what kind of potatoes are you having?  Except we’re out of potatoes at the moment.  And then the light came on…it’s a standing rib roast…why not Yorkshire Pudding?  And…does Tyler have a recipe??  You betcha!

My submission for this week’s Tyler Florence Fridays is Tyler’s Yorkshire Popovers.  This is a keeper!  The batter came together in the time it took the pan to preheat and cooked up perfectly.  The popovers always fall, but these held their shape nicely through the meal.  They were absolutely the perfect side dish for any steak, but especially Prime Rib!

And take a look at what we did for a brunch re-run the following day…Yorkshire Popovers filled with prime rib bites and a poached egg, with horseradish cream on top…mmmm! Seriously, a great recipe!

There’s a story here

24 06 2009


Once in awhile I get this incredible urge to get out and go camping.  Maybe it’s a spiritual thing, maybe it’s an elemental thing (I’m a fire sign, and I’m drawn to a volcanic area), maybe it’s just a thing… *Ü*  This was one of those “times.”  I was so driven to get moving that I didn’t check, double check and make sure every thing was in it’s place.

We packed up (with cross purposes) and headed out.  I was positive we were camping overnight.  Hubby was figuring on a day trip with the possibility of being out overnight.  1st mistake.  Well…maybe the 2nd.  The first might have been cleaning up the camping gear and not making sure everything was returned to the appropriate boxes.  If you take it out, and don’t replace it…it won’t be there when you want it!  I had the box open and didn’t think to replace…oh, the cooking oil…seasonings…minor things. *rolling my eyes*  It’s ok.  I had help in the “brainiac” department.  Hubby didn’t pack any of the cookware.  It was no biggee…he wasn’t really planning to be out overnight.  Ahhh…cross purposes! LOL!  It actually gets a little better…neither of us packed anything for meals.  What was I thinking??

A brief stop off at a Trader Joe’s solved our culinary needs.  We picked up some juice and something for supper – Teriyaki chicken bites, a package of grill veggies,  and a package of flatbread.  At this point we didn’t know we had no seasonings (except salt and pepper-so it could have been worse!) or no cooking oil…or no cookware.   I was pretty tickled with our dinner selections as it was, so off we went!

150 odd miles later, we pulled into the last campground of the day…one with no piped water, but a gorgeous setting.  Sold.  The water situation wasn’t much of a problem.  We have filtration devices.  We have a hand-held filter and a gravity fed water filter.  Who wants to worry about piped water when this is right beside you?


This is the amount of water we filtered in about 12 hours…


It may not be fast, but it certainly works well!!  I am no longer concerned at all about where I’m camping as long as there’s a clear running stream!  *Ü*

Back to our dinner tale…So, here we are…sitting alongside one of the prettiest little creeks in the country, camp is set up and we’re getting ready to cook supper…”Where’s the skillet?” ……  “What do you mean it’s at home…?”  …….  “Okay…no, it’s ok. It’s just a little extra challenge…I do have the little Stowaway pot…but there’s a griddle and a grill, and we’ve got wood…this should work out fine!”…Oh. Wait.  There’s no cooking oil…Hmmmm…. Ok. We’ll put a good sprinkling of salt down first…  That worked.  The chicken bites had microwave directions…thankfully I didn’t read them, otherwise we couldn’t have had supper!  They also had sauce packets.  Ahhh…the chicken could be heated without burning the sauce; excellent!   The veggie package was fabulous!  Sweet potato, eggplant, summer squash, mushrooms, peppers and onions.  I started with the sweet potato and worked my way through the veggies until everything was crisp-tender.  There wasn’t room for everything at once so it had to be staggered anyway.  While I was trying to think of a way to keep everything warm until everything was cooked, I saw the metal colandar and thought it might work double duty…it could keep the food warm, but with the water in the coffee pot boiling beneath it…it could also steam the veggies some too.  SOLD.  I put the chicken in the 2 cup Stowaway pot with a little water and put the lid on to heat over indirect heat alongside the other things.


Yep. That’s me.  One seriously REAL shot.  Just doin’ my thing in camp.  NOT a sophisticated environment…but totally happy and in my element!  Cooking, (ok, over an open fire, but that’s nothing!), with a few challenges.  Perfect!


While I know just about anything tastes good when cooked by a campfire, this really was exceptionally good.  Bruce sat there, indulgently, for the process, but started taking pictures when things started getting inventive!  You see…we didn’t even have any foil with us this trip either.  I pushed just about everything to the limit on this adventure! LOL!  I had picked up some Middle Eastern Flatbread while we were at TJs to go with this…I should have grabbed a package of their “already cooked” brown rice.  That would have been perfect! LOL!  Just another little adventure from the “Campfire Magic” side of our lives!

TFF~Horseradish and Garlic Prime Rib

17 06 2009

Our 27th wedding anniversary was last Friday.  We had so much going on we couldn’t even think about having a special meal to commemorate the occasion.  We didn’t even have time to go out! LOL!  It’s not every year that school ends, your wedding anniversary drops by and your granddaughter graduates from high school.  Thankfully, that doesn’t all go on very often.   We had to put off our Friday night for another night, but you’ll never know the difference!


My offering for Tyler Florence Fridays this week is Tyler’s  Horseradish and Garlic Prime Rib!  This recipe hit a home run in our books.  The recipe was perfectly simple, easy to follow, to the point of  being true as I cut the recipe in half.  I used a 3# roast.  I didn’t adjust the rub at all.  I figured there wasn’t that much exterior surface difference between a 3 and 6 pound roast.  Since I used a smaller roasting pan, I used half as many vegetables in the pan, and that seemed just right.  I didn’t make the wild mushroom sauce.  Instead, I deglazed the pan (drippings were used for Tyler’s Yorkshire Popovers, but that’s another post!) with about a cup of cabernet, reduced that by half and added some really thick beef stock from my own stash.  That simmered with the vegetables while the popovers cooked, and everything was ready the moment the popovers were out of the oven.


Both of us agreed, this was a good solid recipe for Prime Rib.  We liked the crunch and nip of the horseradish and garlic.  I’d like to see how it is with kosher salt rather than sea salt.  That textural difference might be a bit more crunchy and a little less salty.   There are no complaints though.  The cooking time of 20 minutes per pound was right on for me.  Outstanding Tyler!  It was a great anniversary dinner, regardless of when we had it!

WW~Rum Savarin

17 06 2009

The final element of Menu 2 is a Rum Savarin.  Pardon me, what?  A Rum Savarin…  It’s a yeast-cake that’s soaked with a vanilla rum syrup then glazed with apricot glaze,  served with sliced strawberries, kiwi and Chantilly Cream.  This one is a bit time consuming.  I’m glad I didn’t try to get it to work in just an hour or so.  It needed time…time to rise, time to beat in the sugar, salt and butter, time to rise again, baking time, cooling time, soaking time…quite a bit of time.


I rather expected a close textured yeast cake.  This was stronger than I anticipated, but it was eggy, like popovers.  In fact, the savarin was quite comparable to popovers, especially looking at the outside.  I used a 6 cup super muffin-bundt pan and the bread mushroomed way over the tops because it was so light.  I had to cut the bottoms off level so the cakes could be plated.  I’ll use the pieces we cut off as a kind of trifle with sliced fruit.  The Savarin itself is made a couple of different ways.  Our book had us creating the dough with out fingers until it cleaned the bowl, then gathering it and throwing it back into the bowl…  I checked a few recipes and ran across one that suggested it benefitted from a healthy amount of beating with a dough hook.  I used my food processor…I don’t recommend that.  There was a little too much batter-dough and it got places it shouldn’t have.  Next time we don’t beat it quite as long and hard, and we use the mixer.  For a larger group, the batter-dough would do well in a bundt pan.

I was really pleased with the vanilla rum syrup.  I added the rum while the sugar and water were boiling so some of the intensity of the rum would mellow.  I added the vanilla after I turned the heat off.  I literally basted the inside of the cake after it was cut with the syrup.  And there was one other minor (oops) difference…I grabbed a jar of plum jam rather than apricot from my pantry.  That’s what I get for not labeling my jars!  Not that that was a bad thing…it was just different.  Rather than kirsch, I used Pama.  I had Pama.  I didn’t have kirsch.  Besides…I don’t much care for the taste of kirsch.


The Chantilly Cream was perfectly simple. I’m getting pretty good at knowing about how much cream to pour out for the two of us.  I’m getting to the point of being able to have fresh whipped cream in under 5 minutes from thought to plate.  This is so easy.  And so tasty.  Yes, it’s like Strawberry Shortcake…but so yummy!  I’d do this again…

Sunrise…sunset…swiftly fly the years

14 06 2009


I’m stuck in the land of song lines and cliches… “There goes my baby….”  I’m in shock.  My oldest grandchild has graduated from high school.  Who said she could grow up?   “Don’t touch this.”  The time has flown by.  Just “weeks” ago Baby-face was running around the living room “helping” with Christmas wrapping.  We ran her little legs off that night… *Ü*  “Isn’t she lovely…?”  We were a little far away to get any really good shots, but we do have some really blurry fun shots!  Oh my…well…back to the kitchen now.

TFF Meets Cook the Books

10 06 2009

We’ve come to the end of another school year…and as usual, I’m working a lot of busy days preparing.  For some reason, since the pressure is off everyone else, they figure I’m in neutral mode too.  Ummm…no.  I’m in end-of-year-mode with tons of deadlines and reports being due and this, that, and a couple other things.  I tend to fall asleep relatively early these days! LOL!  So…When it comes to my cooking with various groups, I’m grateful for being with a couple that participation is flexible, and if I can get double duty out of anything, I will!  And so…Cook the Books and Tyler Florence Fridays are having a meeting this week!


Cook the Books has been reading A Little White Horse by Elizabeth Goudge.  There are lots of foods lurking in the pages of this fantastical and magical book.  One item that kept coming up, that’s been a source of curiosity for me since I was a child reading another book that made reference to the same item…scones.  I’ve read many a recipe for scones, and have thought time and again that I’ll have to try that.  But today was the day.  The Belmont Stakes were running and fresh scones with hot coffee sounded just perfect.  Horse racing…scones…good match.

I’ve been cooking off and on with the ladies from Tyler Florence Fridays, but didn’t have a recipe trial ready for the Friday just past.  When the idea of fixing scones for Cook the Books came up, I immediately searched for “scones; Tyler Florence” and got a full list of replies.  There was a recipe for Blueberry Scones with Lemon Glaze that caught my eye.  The recipe was immediately available from The Food Network, and there were numerous reviews and little twists other cookies had used.  I knew I’d just bought blueberries and I had lemons as well…everything else was available with one minor exception…I only had 1 cup of heavy cream left.  Not to worry…I subbed out a few ounces of heavy cream for sour cream, and added 1/4 tsp. of baking soda to the mix.  Solved.


The recipe worked just as it was supposed to…much like a really moist biscuit dough…which, I suppose it pretty much is!  Somewhere along the line I’d read that frozen berries…not frozen berries from the freezer case, but fresh berries you’ve brought home from the market and frozen in their package, work great for recipes like this, because they hold up to handling as you work the dough.  That made a lot of sense.  The dough had to be formed, cut and transferred…was a little difficult because of it’s mixed medium – wet and crumbly at the same time.  It would be scary to work with fresh raw berries…surely they’d squash, so the frozen routine sounded ideal.  And it was. It held up to the forming, cutting and baking without giving off much juice that would have that strange chemical reaction of turning green.  Even where I cut through whole berries to shape the dough, there wasn’t a problem with the berry juice making things colorful.


The proof is in the eating though.  The scones have a very light and tender crumb.  They were strong enough to hold up to plating, but broke apart easily for eating out of hand.  The scone was buttery rich with just enough sweetness that a jam wasn’t needed.  We thought that any number of berries or fruits would work well in the base recipe.  I did make a bit of a change with the glaze.  After hearing about how much the recipe made, and it’s fluidity, I mixed 1 cup of powdered sugar with 2 T+ 2 tsp.  lemon juice, and a grating of lemon zest.  We loved them for brunch or Sunday mornings.  I think I’d like to add a bit of lemon zest to the dough next time to promote the lemon essence a little deeper, but Tyler…this one’s a keeper!!

Whisk Wednesday~Longe de Porc aux Pruneaux

10 06 2009

I’m so far behind with my posting and cooking right now it’s almost ridiculous.  There’s a good reason…Life is taking up a LOT of my time!  I’m managing to get some stress relief time in the kitchen, but I’ll sure be glad when the end of the school year gets here!!  Somewhere along the line, I hear that happens tomorrow. I’ve just been too busy making it happen to be ready for it to happen! LOL!  Let’s get to the kitchen…I like it better in there!

Last week (see what I mean?) found us preparing the second course of our menu…Longe de Porc aux Pruneaux and Mousseline de Céleri Rave.  Translation:  Pork Loin roast with prunes and Creamed Celery Root Puree.  The pork loin was absolutely fabulous and well worth making again.  Shari, of Whisk: a food blog, thought she’d add an ingredient the next time she prepared this dish.  I think she’s right!  This would work well with several different fruits, but part of the flavor (rich and silky sweet) comes from the fact that the plums are dried.  Didn’t you know?  Prunes are an Italian variety of plum.  They’re oblong rather than round, and have a dark, richly sweet flesh that dries wonderfully.  If you’re driving on the state highway 20 miles south of here, and look right and left you’ll likely be seeing a lot of “prune-plum” trees.   Alas, I digress…


The pork was wonderful.  We started with a whole pork loin, butterflied it, seasoned it with salt and pepper and stuffed one end with prunes.  I confess to adding a sprinkling of thyme to the inside of my roast.  We then rolled the roast and tied it.  I watched a great video on tying a roast on Alton Brown’s Good Eats one night.  Now, I’ve got the hang of it!  The roast is then seared with seasoning vegetables (onion, carrot with herbs added), then roasted and basted with the pan juices.


The sauce this time around is a “gastrique”.  “Gastrique is a thick sauce produced by a reduction of vinegar or wine, sugar, and usually fruit. It is often served over meat or seafood to add a fruit flavor to the dish. It is made in its simplest form by caramelizing sugar and then adding vinegar,”…Wikipedia Our gastrique was created from a reduction of vinegar and sugar, with the deglazed pan juices.  Oh…my.  This was wonderful.  There were poached prunes used as a garnish as well…and they were gobbled up right along with the roast.

The surprise this time was the vegetable.  Celery root, also known as Celeriac.  I’ve seen it in the market.  It’s a big ol’ ugly thing.  So…I followed the directions…I peeled it.  I got all the hard brown stuff off…and it still seemed kind of hard on the outside.  It really was hard, too!  I ended up taking my Chinese cleaver to it!  What I now know is that I needed to get all of that really hard stuff cut off.  First.  So…if you’ve never cooked this stuff before, get twice as much as you think would be enough to feed your crew.  That was the reason I didn’t cut more off…I thought, “Surely they don’t mean for me to cut ALL of this off…there won’t be much of anything left!  Maybe it gets a lot more tender when it’s cooked…”  No.  That tough outer exterior is just as tough and nasty after cooking.  I seemed to have gotten all of the nasty bits in my serving, Bruce said he got none.  We agreed it had a slight celery flavor and was “good” in an unusual way.  He said he wouldn’t mind having it again, now and then, but not necessarily often.  I agreed.  I had a desire to grate just a bit of nutmeg into it…I don’t know why…I don’t even own a fresh nutmeg right now!  It just felt like I should!


All in all, this was a “keeper” meal.  I’d use both together again without hesitation.  Everything worked out just as I anticipated from reading the recipe and the techniques.  I thought the thyme on the inside was well placed and we really enjoyed the whole dish.

Whisk Wednesday – Menu 2.1

2 06 2009

Last week we began Menu #2…Salade de Foies de Volailles Tiedes (Salad of Warm Sautéed Chicken Livers), then Longe de Porc aux Pruneaux (Roast Pork Loin with Prunes) and Mousseline de Céleri Rave (Creamed Celery Root Purée), with Savarin aux Kiwis et aux Fraises (Rum Savarin with Kiwis and Strawberries) for dessert.  Again, the idea is to learn to manage your time so that the dishes are all ready to serve in succession.  With Menu #1, I managed to do it all at one time.  This menu didn’t work out as well for me.  It’s a busy time of year at work (school is almost over…),  so my energy levels aren’t as high as they could be.  Sometimes cooking is the last thing I feel like when I get it, and by the time I am ready, there’s not enough time left to prep and cook.  I guess this is my way of saying, “I’m a week behind already, but I’ll get ‘er done!”

This week I’m posting the Salade de Foies de Volailles Tiedes, or Salad of Warm Sautéed Chicken Livers in English.  It sounds much more intriguing in the French.   It’s here that we depart for a moment for True Confession Time.

I cannot abide liver.  That’s it, in a nutshell.  I simply cannot stand it.  And then along came foie gras…  Now, why is it I can’t stand liver, but I can purr over foie gras?  I think it’s kind of like loving sushi as long as it’s fresh…  Does the act of cooking change it so that it becomes something I really despise?  And then there’s the fact that this recipe does call for chicken liver…  I decided to play it safe.    There are two other members of the Clan Giblet…the gizzard and the heart.  They would also have an intense chicken taste and a texture not terribly different than that of the livers.  I purchased some of each, livers and gizzards with hearts.  In the spirit of fair play (my sister Whisk Chicks have all tried something new to them in our lessons), I knew I was going to have to make this and taste it.  While it didn’t change my mind about liking liver in the least, if I had no choice but to eat it…I could almost tolerate it as it is in this salad.  But, since chickens only have one liver, you can have it instead of me.  No problem.

Chicken livers are soft and delicate.  They saute quickly.  Chicken hearts and the gizzard (a section of the digestive system of a chicken where the food is ground) are hard-core muscles..  Muscles that work hard are strong, which means it will be tough unless the muscle tissue is broken down with slow, gentle simmering.  I cooked the gizzards and hearts in enough broth to wet all the gizzards, then topped that off with water until all were covered.  I threw in a few cloves of garlic, some other herbs and salt.   After 30 minutes, I uncovered the saucepan and let the cooking liquid reduce.  When the chicken gizzards had simmered about an hour they were tender.   From that point on, I prepared both sauces side by side, giving each dish half of the sauce ingredients.  The sauce on the gizzards came out a little better.  Perhaps it was because the wine had reduced some by the time I got the cream in.  The sauce on the chicken livers came out fine.  It just didn’t blend as smoothly.


We both enjoyed the salad a great deal.  We each had a double serving as an entree salad.  I subbed Spring Greens for the escarole and red lettuce.   The vinaigrette was as wonderful as everyone said!   We used so little, there’s a full 8 oz. jar left…in my fridge!  The warm sauce and chicken pieces wilt the salad greens a little.  The greens have a tanginess that’s very complementary to the sweetness of the port sauce.  Both of us thoroughly enjoyed our salads.  Bruce said he wouldn’t at all mind having this salad again.  Even if I just made it with gizzards instead of livers.  Awww…what a guy!

With any luck, I can get the pork roast with celery root puree and the kiwi-strawberry savarin done by next week at this time.  We’ll see!  Until then, stop by and visit the rest of the “Whisk Chicks…”