October 31, 2004

Green tomato pie

Easily the weirdest thing I've cooked. I had these green tomatoes and was planning to pickle them, but since I had already gone through a bunch of green tomato pickles I thought, hm, maybe there's something else that can be done with green tomatoes? So I searched online and found salsas, pasta sauces, and... pie?!

I did a bit of googling to see if this was an isolated crazed person's recipe or whether indeed there was a tradition of green tomato pies... and indeed I found enough recipes to convince me that there was. It's basically an apple pie but with green tomatos -- the recipes are roughly the same, although some use cider vinegar instead of lemon juice.

How does it taste? I couldn't tell if I liked it or not -- I'm still not sure -- but I've had three slices already. I think I like it. I can't imagine I'd make it often. But if I saw it at a restaurant, I'd be eager to try their version. It's somehow both sweet and savory -- Joanie compared it to a sweet pickle, although it wasn't "pickle-y". You could eat it with ice cream. (And on the third slice, I did.)

The pie crust stuck to the pie pan, though, and I'm not sure why. It also didn't brown very well. My apple pie looked a bit better than this. And the Cooks Illustrated pie crust recipe is very, very crumbly -- which is intentional, so that when the apples in an apple pie cook down, the pie lid comes down with it -- but tomatoes don't reduce as much as apples, and it would be nice if the pie didn't fall apart when you tried to cut a slice. I'm all for taste over looks but this is a little ridiculous.

Posted by chris at 11:15 PM

Rhubarb-ginger jam

Frozen rhubarb was on sale at the supermarket, and I got all excited. I reduced some into jam, and the results are yummy (and disappearing quickly).

Posted by chris at 12:31 PM

Rye bread

My god this came out gorgeous. Big and bursting. It tasted pretty great as well.

Posted by chris at 12:29 PM

October 28, 2004

Lemon tart with blueberries

The picture showed a few delicate blueberries hanging out on the pristine lemon tart, and it looked very very yummy. But the recipe called for huge quantities of blueberries, and it was sort of overkill.

It was still tasty, but it wasn't quite what I hoped it would be. Not too bad for my first proper tart, I guess. The crust was really nice.

Posted by chris at 12:11 AM

Pain ordinaire

For some reason, this doesn't quite work out right. The dough was insanely wet, and I added more flour, but it still was a floppy, sticky dough. I probably should have kept adding flour. It also tasted, you know, just OK. So it's all kind of sad.

But I put the dough under a desk lamp to rise, and that seemed to do the trick -- it rose at a normal speed, despite the house being pretty cold. I need to play around with the technique some.

Posted by chris at 12:09 AM

October 25, 2004

Our first comment spam!

"Artisan" got hit by its first batch of comment spam! Lovely.

Is there any easy way to keep them from attacking? Other than turning the comments off, of course. I like getting comments.

Posted by chris at 10:27 AM

Pumpkin chocolate chip cookies

This recipe came from AllRecipes. We got a lot of canned pumpkin and I was itching to try it, but not quite up to making a pumpkin pie just yet (not while we still have pear tart).

The pumpkin flavor is there but not as strong as I suspected, or maybe it's just that the "pumpkin spice" isn't there. Also, the cookies, which are drop cookies, don't spread, but instead become puffy. They're all right.

Posted by chris at 10:22 AM

Pickled green tomatoes

I totally failed to mention that I made pickled green tomatoes last weekend, didn't I. Well, I've been asking tomato-growing friends to give me any tomatoes that won't ripen so I can pickle them. It's not the complicated antiseptic pickle-for-two-years style, but a simpler recipe that takes only two days to do and doesn't preserve the vegetables. You have you eat them within a week, which is unsurprisingly not a problem. Anyway I'm reminded of this because I just got another batch of green tomatoes, which means we'll have more pickles soon. Hurrah!

Posted by chris at 10:18 AM

Bialys

Or possibly bialies? I'm not sure how you pluralize it. This is another one of those things I made which I never really liked -- most of the bialys I had in New York were too dry and stale tasting to be enjoyable. These didn't quite come out New York-style (and, in fact, there is a note at the end of the recipe explaining how to make them more New York-style, which I didn't follow) but they were, on the other hand, pretty good. Especially the onion/poppy seed dollop -- yum.

Posted by chris at 10:15 AM

October 23, 2004

Free-form pear tart

It was a recipe for apple tart, but I wanted to try making it with pears. I went with some cardamom for the spice, since I had seen a recipe for a pear/cardamom combination and we are a cardamom-friendly household.

The tart was pretty nice -- I almost wish I had gone with an apple/pear mixture, but it's a nice and earthy-tasting tart. And the tart curst itself is delightful. I'm going to have to give this tart thing a few more goes.

Posted by chris at 10:30 PM

October 21, 2004

Banana chocolate chip oatmeal cookies

I wanted to try out a new book borrowed from the library, Good Cookie, so I made the recipe that I had all the ingredients for. The cookies are OK, a bit too oaty, a bit too meh. It's been a while since I've had a really good oatmeal cookie. I'll have to try the Baking Illustrated recipe at some point.

Posted by chris at 06:56 PM

Apple pie

Next up in the parade of applestuffs: I finally make a proper pie. I had put it off for a while, feeling a bit intimidated by the process of making a pie crust. The pie crust came out fine, and was more time-consuming than difficult, but oof, coring and slicing all those apples was a bit of work. Most cooking that I do, I like to do alone, but this is definately a two-person kind of thing.

So the recipe comes from Baking Illustrated. They, apparently, felt most apple pies weren't apple-y enough. They wanted the pie to have "a taste of the orchard".

Well, and indeed, this pie tastes more strongly of apple than any other pie I've had -- almost to the point where it seems to miss some of the essential qualities that make "apple pie" what it is. "Apple pie" ice cream doesn't try to replicate this particular pie's flavor.

I don't know whether this more apple-y flavor is better than a traditional apple pie's flavor, but it is pretty nice. The crust is flaky and, as they warned, is not particularly durable -- it doesn't slice nicely. But it tastes all right, and looked nice as well. I'm sorry that my camera is still dead!

Posted by chris at 09:31 AM

October 20, 2004

Ricotta bread

Now this crazy sandwich bread is made with ricotta cheese (as well as milk, butter, and an egg). It's pretty nice -- it's got a very similar texture to the banana bread (or any Wonder-type bread) but I suppose it's creamy instead of banana-y.

But the important thing to note is that, now that it's cold out, I'm having difficulting finding places for the bread to rise. I need to figure out a solution for this, possibly invoving a heating pad. Right now I'm setting the dough on top of the stove and turning the oven on, which does the trick, but seems like not the best solution.

Posted by chris at 12:07 AM

October 18, 2004

Sauteed apples and ice cream

Jake's parents went apple picking, and now we have a large box of apples (and pears) waiting to be turned into other foods. So the next in the parade of apple desserts: Sauteed apples (in butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon), which went nicely with ice cream. It's another variation on the theme of apples with brown sugar and cinnamon, and it's probably the fastest and easiest one so far. And it's pretty good. I did miss the crunch of the apple crisp topping, though.

Posted by chris at 11:22 PM

Lone biscuit

The Lone Biscuit cook-off was today, and as one of the instigators, I of course had to participate. I divided the Joy of Cooking recipe into one-twentieth its original size, and went from there. Dividing out the 1/32nd of salt was especially fun, as was cutting in a fourth of a tablespoon of butter. But the recipe worked and a single biscuit was created.

Most of the photos of the process came out boring, but here are some pictures of adding the melted butter topping and of the biscuit alone in the big oven:

Buttering the Lone Biscuit

All alone in the oven


And here's what the final product looked like:

The Lone Biscuit

Posted by chris at 12:50 AM

Pain ordinaire

I made some baguettes. They were very nice.

Posted by chris at 12:48 AM

October 16, 2004

Banana feather bread

American-style sandwich bread, but you see, it's made with a banana. The banana taste is very faint (allegedly it will be stronger if toasted). It's fine. I don't think I'll make this again anytime soon.

Posted by chris at 10:49 PM

October 15, 2004

Pizza, pizza, pizza

Three pizzas: One with lots of chopped garlic on it, one with red peppers on it, and one with green tomato slices on it. All quite delicious!

Posted by chris at 09:59 PM

October 13, 2004

Pizza

Oh, yeah, I made another pizza for lunch. That finished off the big batch of pizza sauce I made. I feel like trying out some other idea in pizza sauce. What if it were garlic based instead of tomato based? Or something.

Posted by chris at 10:49 PM

Creamy potato soup

This time I swiped a recipe from AllRecipes, and as always, it was hard finding a recipe that didn't involve obscene amounts of dairy. And so I went with the obscene amounts of dairy. 8 cups of milk, a stick of butter, 8 oz. of sour cream, half a cup of cheddar, and maybe a potato.

OK, it was more like 8 potatoes. And it ended up tasting fine. I guess I didn't realize that a creamy potato soup required that much dairy, though... it could, I think, have been helped with a bit more potato. (And it wasn't until I was nearly done that I realized the recipe didn't call for any spices to be added -- oops!)

It went really well with the bread, though, or more likely the bread went really well with it. I need to get better at soups.

Posted by chris at 10:48 PM

Pain ordinaire

This time, I was trying out a new shape for the bread. I can't seem to find any images of the shape I made on the web, although it's not an uncommon bread shape (or, at least, it's mentioned in the books I've seen that mention fancy bread shapes) -- basically it's a crown of thorns shape, or it's a circle with tufts coming off it. It was a basic pain ordinaire recipe, and it came out pretty tasty, and the crown of thorns shape made it perfect for tearing off into little pieces, which made it perfect accompaniment for the soup.

Posted by chris at 10:44 PM

October 12, 2004

Lace cookies

I think these came out far, far sweeter than they're supposed to. They're little sugar bombs.

I tried to make them into "cigarettes" but I generally couldn't find that sweet spot between them being too soft to remove from the parchment paper and being too hard to roll without cracking. But I did get a few of them formed.

They're kind of easier to eat as flat circles, though. But they're much much cooler to look at as cigarettes (despite cigarettes not being technically cool).

Posted by chris at 09:24 PM

Pain de son

This is a French bran bread, made with "old dough" (some pain ordinaire that was saved from the day before). It sure does taste healthy, but also nutty.

I shaped it into what was hoping to be a sort of free-form loaf or torpedo light but which ended up a fairly useless flat shape. Oh well!

Posted by chris at 05:14 PM

Baked buttered rum apples

This was surprisingly similar to the baked onions, but required a little more prep work. I'm not sure they came out as tasty, either! The Granny Smith apples came out much nicer than the McIntoshes (though Jake disagrees). Let's see what apple desert we make next, eh?

Posted by chris at 05:10 PM

Roasted onions

I just popped them in the oven, let them do their thing, and we had them for lunch yesterday. Can't go wrong!

Posted by chris at 05:08 PM

October 10, 2004

Pizza

Oh yeah, and I made pizza today. Something went wrong, and I'm not sure what -- the crust didn't come out! It might have cooked too long, or been spread too thin. I'm not sure. I'm totally surprised, since this is the first time it's been this bad. (It was still very edible.)

Posted by chris at 10:51 PM

Pain ordinaire

A baguette, which went with the soup. Note to self: Do "brush" on the egg glaze, don't just spoon it on, or it will all pool at the bottom of the loaf and be unattractive. I don't care if the brush is in the dishwasher.

Posted by chris at 09:05 PM

Potato soup

I added a bay leaf because it seemed "de rigueur". (It was a broth soup, not a creamy soup.) It was an overly simple recipe, but it did the trick.

Posted by chris at 09:03 PM

October 09, 2004

Molasses spice cookies

And how does the KitchenAid cream butter? Why, just fine! Certainly nicer than doing it by hand or with the crazy handheld mixer. Plus now there are sticky molasses stains on it!

The cookies came out great, nice and chewy.

Posted by chris at 03:36 PM

Pugliese

Now with the KitchenAid, I can make some of these ridiculously light and airy breads made with very wet doughs. And, indeed, the pugliese is the lightest bread I've made yet (well, excepting the sandwich breads, of course). It has some nice-sized air pockets and a mild sweet tang.

Posted by chris at 03:34 PM

Cracked wheat bread

This was one of the last breads I made in the pre-KitchenAid era. It came out just as nicely as last time.

Posted by chris at 10:20 AM

October 08, 2004

KitchenAid!

It has arrived! I was running late to work, almost out the door, when it came. Whee! More after I get a chance to play around with it.

The manual has lots of warnings about bones breaking. This sounds intense!

Posted by chris at 07:45 PM

Cinnamon and raisin snails

Don't cut corners! Although all the snails came out tasty, some of them were allowed to rise up the proper amount, and those came out looking gorgeous, whereas the others came out a bit flat. But I had to rush or I would have been late to work this morning. Although it's a good thing I was running a little late...

Posted by chris at 07:44 PM

October 06, 2004

Pain ordinaire

Which is to say, traditional French bread.

Which is to say, baguettes!

This is the first recipe I've tried from The Village Baker, which was apparently one of the first big books on artisan bread. And this is also the "beginner's" recipe. Although it seemed a bit daunting (although not nearly as daunting as most of the recipes, some of which start with phrases such as "Although this bread takes six days to make..."), it was not very difficult at all, and in fact very educational. I learned something about traditional kneading methods, and a trick where you slowly add the flour to the water, stirring vigorously, which causes gluten to form even before you start kneading.

The recipe was huge, and created two baguettes and a nice sized boule (round loaf). The baguettes' crust was perhaps not as tough as I would have liked, and the inside was perhaps not quite as airy as I might have liked, but this is all nitpicking: The taste was tremendous, with a hearty tang, and a terrific crumb and the right levels of chewiness.

Jake went to try his first bite, right after I had mine, and he went to put butter on it, and I said, "Actually this bread doesn't really need butter..." That said, Bryan pointed out that it would make a terrific sandwich bread, which is probably true. I'm not sure what sort of sandwhich I would make to go with that bread, though -- a nice cheese would be good, but we just don't have nice cheeses around.

Posted by chris at 09:57 PM

Tuscan low-salt bread

The idea is that a long time ago there was an oppressively high tax on salt, and the people in Tuscany said, "Well, nyah, we'll make our bread without salt, then!" And when it came out tasting a bit weird, they said, "Well, like it or lump it!" And then they grew to like it. They still make it to this day.

Well, the Bread Bible prefers adding a little salt to it, to slow the fermentation and to balance out the flavor. This bread came out very nice -- it had a delicate flavor and a very chewy crust. The taste was mild but pleasantly tangy -- I can still taste it now, a half-hour later.

And we ate it cup quickly for lunch, and I regret not making more than one loaf. I need to start making double servings of these Bread Bible breads. But there is more bread in the oven, oh yes there is...

Posted by chris at 04:31 PM

KitchenAid...

Apparently it shipped last night. It should arrive in a week. The house shivers with anticipation.

In other news, it's my day off, and for some reason, I have three loaves of bread going. I guess I am rested over last week's knead-a-thon.

Posted by chris at 12:21 PM

October 05, 2004

Coffeecake with apples

A techinical failure. There is a note at the end of this recipe, saying that it requires high heat at the beginning so it will "set" properly, and yet the recipe doesn't suggest turning the heat up, or preheating the over warmer than it's supposed to cook, or anything like that. It didn't quite set -- it super crumbly. I'm a bit disappointed.

It doesn't even taste all that great -- it's perfectly edible, but it's nothing compared to the coffeecake muffins from yesterday. Point for Baker's Illustrated, a loss for the Bread Bible.

Posted by chris at 10:28 PM

Pizza (the usual)

Yet more. Hastily made. Still enjoyed.

Posted by chris at 10:24 PM

October 04, 2004

Pizzas (thin crust, margareta and carmelized onion)

Pizza party night! Whoo! I'm worried we're going to burn out on this soon, but it's so easy and yummy and I made so much pizza sauce...

I'm not entirely sure that the carmelized onions came out properly -- but it still tasted good. It was just onions and a little mozzerella (the recipe called for gruyère, but we had none, but it would have been better) on the crust. It was a hit.

Also there was fresh basil on the margareta pizza, which was indeed nice. Also I threw some pine nuts on. But they probably should have been toasted a bit first. Ah well!

Posted by chris at 09:32 PM

Biscuits

See, and in case you thought everything came out brilliantly: The biscuits, from the Bread Bible, came out a bit mealy. They were edible enough, but really not all that good. They were made with vegetable shortening, which was supposed to allow a greater initial blast of heat to make the biscuits fluff up. Which maybe they did, although they weren't extremely fluffy, and the taste just wasn't what it would have been with real butter. So, oh well!

Posted by chris at 11:46 AM

October 03, 2004

Apple crisp

It's Fall in the Pacific Northwest: Let the parade of apple-based dishes begin!

First up was the relatively simple apple crisp: Make strussel, put it on top of a pile of apples, and bake. It came out fantastic, even though we were using supermarket apples (the trip to the orchard comes in two weeks).

(I hope I don't come off as full of myself when I talk about something I cook as being "fantastic" -- keep in mind that it's not so much an expression of pride as it is surprise.)

I was thinking of making another coffeecake, but I'm not sure I want to make strussel twice in one day (three times in one weekend!)

Posted by chris at 10:59 PM

Mashed potatoes

I'm somewhat terrible at weighing things -- so when the recipe called for one pound of potates, I tried to take one-tenth of the ten-pound bag of potates out. Then I decided that wasn't enough, and doubled the amount of potatoes. I also doubled the amount of buttermilk/butter mixture to add to it. But then when I added the mixture to the potatoes... it seemed like I had made too much. I added what I thought was enough, fluffed it up, and gave it a taste. "Yup," I said, "that's probably enough." Then I added the rest, because really, what else was I going to do with the mixture? And why not have super-decadent mashed potatoes.

They tasted great. Joanie made a stir-fried cauliflower in sesame sauce dish to go with, and that also tasted terrific. There was a lot of white on the table.

Posted by chris at 09:47 PM

Pizza (thin crust, margareta)

I promise I'll have something more interesting to report on soon. These continue to be very tasty, though.

Posted by chris at 04:30 PM

October 02, 2004

KitchenAid?

Also in theory I bought a KitchenAid standing mixer yesterday. Amazon is having a "$20 off any large kitchen or bath purchase", and I bought a refurbished 5qt, 325 watt white mixers for a grand total of $120. Now we'll see if they actually have one in stock and if it actually works...

Posted by chris at 12:32 PM

Sour cream coffecake muffins

Score one for the Cook's Illustrated team: I didn't have terribly high hopes for these coffeecake muffins, but they came out as sublime as muffins can come out. Just the right level of denseness vs. fluffiness, just sweet enough, just the right amount of pecan flavor, ideal amounts of streusel topping -- these muffins were a revelation of what muffins could be. They felt light to the taste but were very filling. (I'm also imaging that with just a stick of butter and an egg in the whole dozen muffins, they're not quite as bad for you as most store-bought muffins -- but that's not really an angle I care about too much.)

On a technical note, this is the first time that I felt happy with how I cut the butter into the flour. I used a whisk at first, and then switched to a pastry cutter for most of the work, and then a small amount of whisking at the end to make sure it was the right consistency. I might be ready to try biscuits again.

Posted by chris at 12:29 PM

October 01, 2004

Ravioli

Ohhh yes. Ravioli with a ricotta and blue cheese filling in a browned butter and sage sauce. Ohhh yes.

This alone justified the purchase of the goofy ravioli cutter. Just to have the little fluted edges. I'm sure they somehow helped stabalize the ravioli (except, ok, a few of them did lose their filling in the boil).

Joanie helped to brown the butter. I still haven't perfected how much butter sauce needs to be made for a certain amount of pasta -- we made maybe twice as much as needed.

But the whole thing took about 45 minutes to make -- and sure, it would have been better if there had been some sort of side or bread or something, but wow, ravioli is pretty satisfying.

Posted by chris at 08:33 PM