31 October 2011

Random Recipe - Chocolate Sabayon Torte

This month's Random Recipe challenge teamed up participants and had them make a recipe that a team member randomly chose ... a neat trick! Well, I got the treat when Lyndsey from Vanilla Clouds and Lemon Drops chose this recipe for me! I'm making it for a Halloween treat; it's small enough that it will be gone by the end of the evening. I intend to offer our neighbor's a dessert and coffee 'trick or treat' as they bring their children by for their more traditional candy treats. This treat involves chocolate ... a lot of chocolate!

28 October 2011

Ree Drummond's Beef Noodles Salad

I imagine Ree Drummond has infused a bit of controversy into the 50 Woman list discussion. She seems to raise the dander of as many folk as Rachael Ray ... perhaps because she is as much a media upstart as RR. Ree has marketed her lifestyle with as much savvy as Martha Stewart, in my opinion. She likes where she's at on her 'ranch' in the heartland, has a raft of kids, a handsome husband who ranches, a 'state of the art kitchen and convention center' guest house on the property, and boundless imagination for spinning her romantic take on her courtship with Marlboro Man, her family life, her home-schooling ideas, her food adventures. It all comes out in a folksy stream of consciousness on her food blog - The Pioneer Woman. She also takes damn fine photos of eveything from beaten eggs to the family dog, vistas on the ranch to Marlboro Man's backside. It all works to entice a lot of people to her site, to her cookbook signings, to her occasional blogging events/parties, and to her Food Network cooking show.

" ... it's all about cows and butter." - Ree Drummond

27 October 2011

Babies and Bread Dough ...

Look at these pretty little Challah loaves ... they remind me of babies I've known and loved ... little bundles of round puffy softness. Smooth round ankles and chubby round bottoms ... soft plump chins and cheeks to snuggle against.  In my family, we liken newborn babies to bread dough. They require a warm soft space, a bit of kneading and patting, covering up and rest and everytime you see them, they seem to be plumping up and growing bigger and bigger!

25 October 2011

Curried Pork Springrolls with Lime

To get these little beauties, you need to do a little work.

Springrolls require major prep work ... so get everything in place and then go for it! But first some background ...

23 October 2011

Sour Cream Apple Pie

Everything is about apples in the house right now. This weekend there was a special presentation by nurserymen and vintners at the local orchard. SB and I went over to learn a bit about the heritage apples that are being picked this month ... we ended up coming away with four heritage types and a huge bag of Macouns. I loved the names - Espolou, Roxbury Russets, Hudson's Golden Gem, and Baldwin. The minute we got home, I chose Baldwin, Hudson's Golden Gem, and Macoun to make two sour cream apple pies. One pie went to church this morning and one pie is warming in my oven for dessert.

21 October 2011

Happy Accident Soup ... or Empty Bowl Blues

damp cold day  ... empty bowl blues

When I first started cooking, I followed recipes to ... the ... letter. Sometimes, I was ecstatic and at other times not so ecstatic. As I gained confidence in the kitchen and learned about spice chemistry, kitchen chemistry, and husband and kid chemistry, I got  to the point where I could play with recipes or make up meals from what was sitting around the counter top and in the fridge. These meals usually came at a time when I was a.) unorganized and forgot to take something from the freezer in the morning b.) on a tear and sick of making all the usual 'crap' (not literally) c.) on a mission to purge the kitchen of various and sundry or d.) alone in the house with the kids and knowing I could get away with a disaster because there was always Kraft mac&cheese in the blue box.

20 October 2011

Molly Wizenberg's Meatballs ... Another Game-Changer!

Molly Wizenberg is cut from the same bolt as Clotilde Dusoulier - both foodies started out as young professionals right out of the academic environment and both tossed it all to write about, make, enjoy, and influence cyberfoodie culture. Molly and her husband have taken the path of restauranteurs and Molly has published a wonderful memoir on her father and family, her move to create a food blog called Orangette, and her courtship and marriage. Like many young women these days, she has chosen to balance a 'team dream' with her own aspirations as a writer. She is a modern day game changer in that she is living the 'follow your passion and make it work for you' mantra of so many folk - AND she is making it work in a wildly successful way.  Good for her and how nice of her to take her blog followers along for the ride ...

She has been a subtle influence on me since the time that I started reading food blogs and concentrating on creating my own little spot in cyberspace. Her writing style is casual and engaging. The blog, Orangette has been an interesting, fun, poignant, and addictive spot to visit. Her ability to chatter about the most inane and sometimes intimate of life's moments and bring them around to make a point or share a dish has been her hook - the way she draws her followers along through the blog and brings them back time after time. She is an anthropologist by training and while she makes light of her university studies, she has definitely kept some of that training running through her commentary on food and family, food and friendships, and food and culture ... mix that with a healthy sense of humor and its a good combination. To boot, she chooses some excellent foods to share on her blog and in her book (soon to be books). When A Homemade Life came out, I ordered it up and spent a few days making the recipes with which I was most intrigued ... one, the scones that I've posted is an adaptation of her recipe. I also posted a review of the book  and made the first set of those scones right from a recipe on her blog. Sooo good!

17 October 2011

Picture Perfect ... Is It Possible?

This is a pear and walnut tart ... the product of a whimsy and a bowl of ripe pears just begging to be used in their prime!

They say that copying someone is the most sincere form of flattery ... wellll ...

13 October 2011

Mango and Ginger Scones -

A long grey morning,  a chilly house, an empty bread box, and one lone cup of coffee ... what's a girl to do? Put on some music and wait for inspiration from the kitchen gods. A half hour is all it takes - Harry Connick Jr. is crooning and my fingers have smashed butter into flour, baking powder, and salt ... a warm scone is just what I need. This day needs some spice and warmth .. in go the mango bits and candied ginger ... egg and cream ... knead, knead, knead. These are just what I need!

A bit of a chill in the freezer ... a brush of egg and cream ... into a hot oven ... almost ten and time for Cathy to come for a cuppa ... voila! Scones with butter and peach jam ... a pot of tea ... chit chat ...

12 October 2011

Willow Manor Ball 2011 - Autumn Frolic

Today's a different kind of day in The Spice Garden! It's time to get ready to trip out of the garden gate and head down to the willows by the pond. I have a lazy afternoon ahead, while I wait for this evening and one very special event!

 Tess is hosting her annual Willow Manor Ball - an evening that magically lasts far longer than the traditional seven or eight hours ... let's start by the pond, though. It's there where I'll sit down in the shade and dream up my ball gown, sip some wine and wait for the sun to set.

10 October 2011

White Chocolate Chip Cookies with Cherries and Macadamia Nuts

For some reason, I have been out of the cookie baking routine. It must be that summertime was just too busy, the kitchen too hot, and the gardens and back yard too tempting. The last two weeks, though, have brought me back to cookie sheets, dough recipes, and freshening the cookie jars. Last week it was peanut butter cookies ... this week it's a basic chip cookie recipe, BUT... take out the semi-sweets and walnuts. Put in white chocolate chips, chopped dried cherries, and macadamia nuts. These cookies are killer!

08 October 2011

Lazy Day Bread - Beth Hensperger's Honey and Seed Bread

Sometimes, the Earth and the kitchen gods are in perfect sync ... sometimes, the cook's attention to task and the time of day allow for a calm and focused approach to the task. Yesterday, it was a calm cool day in the grey cottage. I had no specific goals for the day, so I found myself puttering at cleaning some shelves in the kitchen, playing with the kitten, doing a bit of sewing, and hanging laundry on a warm porch. A trashy magazine came in the mail - the stuff of tabloids - just the brain candy we love over a cold drink with feet propped up. What does one do when one is waiting for shelves and laundry to dry, while kitten snoozes on the rocking chair, when the tabloid has been perused and plopped aside, when Silent Bob is out in the woods with power tools and the house is quiet? 

... egg glaze makes for a perfect shiny crust

07 October 2011

Roasted Butternut Squash Risotto

I found this recipe for risotto a couple years ago on one of the foodblogs. I honestly think it might have been Heidi Swanson's blog... but maybe not. I really can't remember! Suffice it to say, the recipe is not mine, but I wish it was and I will keep it in my recipe book forever!

06 October 2011

50 Women Game-Changers - Clotilde Dusoulier

This week's Game-Changer comes right from the blogging world ... and has had a wonderful influence on bloggers who aspire to use fresh ingredients and give them a spin on classic recipes. Along the way, Clotilde Dusoulier has given her readers a glimpse of her private world with family and neighbors, her neighborhood in Paris, and the city, in general. For foodies, travel enthusiasts, and beginning cooks, she is a breath of fresh air - never haughty or presumptuous - just a fresh-faced sweet woman with a sense of fun, a passion for good food, and a willingness to teach readers a bit of her French language and culture.

As she becomes more successful as a food writer, it's only natural that she has become somewhat of a 'brand'. Food blogging has come a long way, is wildly popular, and is grist for every food producer and cooking product company out there. Because her blog has been around for so long and has gained such a following, she has been able to be a direct influence on many a foodie, as they begin to structure their blogs, delve into the business side of blogging, and make the move from casual food diarist to published food writer and author. Therein, lies the reason, I think, for inclusion on this Gourmet Live list.

In researching Clotilde, I spent a good deal of time on her blog Chocolate & Zucchini. It was there that I found this recipe for Gratin de Chou-Fleur. Cauliflower is just beautiful right now and can be had for a song at the market. I love Gruyère cheese and bechamel sauce. What could be more yummy than a warm gooey vegetable dish that includes all three ingredients?

05 October 2011

Our Roasted Brussels Sprouts ...

These are our very own Brussels sprouts raised, fertilized with our very own compost, guarded from the damn deer, and picked by resident gentleman farmer, Silent Bob! They have a slather of olive oil, some kosher salt and black pepper, and a few cloves of garlic minced up and scattered over them. They are on their way into a hot oven for a fast roast and then ..... BACON!

That's all ... I just had to brag on these little green jewels! It's the little things in life, folks, that make me very happy these days. Tomorrow, I am making Autumn Squash Risotto and using one of the Hubbard squash that we've just pulled from the squash patch. The garden is still producing, but it's slowing down dramatically. We must take our pleasures where we can find them - a stray tomato off the drooping vines, crisp beets from the row, one more zucchini squash from vines that are mouldering and pouting in all the rain, more Brussels sprouts just waiting for the picking ... you can feel the season slumping to a stop.  I think that's why I delight so in these fall vegetables that bravely soldier on ... and the ever cheerful zinnias that just keep on blooming!

04 October 2011

My Seven Links ...

... from a small idea, much has come 

Being recognized by a fellow blogger is a big thing, but whoever thought to start this 'Seven Links' thing was really pushing the envelope. I am honored that my friend Devaki  from over at Weave a Thousand Flavors thinks enough of me that she would like to see what I think of my work.  I am, however, intimidated by the task! It's difficult being impartial. It's difficult to judge your own work, to sift through the portfolio of all you've done and evaluate ... and sometimes, it's embarrassing.

I've found myself re-reading back posts and sometimes thinking, Who wrote that drivel? Who photographed that? What was that blogger thinking rambling on about that ? Oh, gosh .... never mind! I guess the exercise here is to NOT be so hard on oneself, but instead, look at the project as a chance to slow down and really celebrate the work ... so my links ... after much kerfluffle... and some added storyline because the concept of food memory is one of the things that first inspired me to start this blog in the first place

Most Beautiful -

... a simple and elegant cake with the softest of frostings and the freshest embellishment

Making cakes with floral and herbal decorations has been 'my thing' for a long time. I have a picture of my daughter, Sara holding her birthday cake up for the camera. It's a large heart shaped single layer cake with icing this exact shade. It has a wreath of beautiful fresh gladiola flowers placed around it - flowers in shades of deep pinks and whites. Sometimes, I think, the food memory dictates the creative response to a new project. So this is my 'most beautiful' inspired by that other 'most beautiful grinning child' ...

Blackberry and Sour Apple Cake With Raspberry Cream Cheese Frosting

03 October 2011

Another Beautiful Cake ...

Several weeks ago, Mary posted a super rich, butterscotch Bundt cake on her website, One Perfect Bite. Now, Mary comes to us with so many great recipes and I don't know why this one stuck with me over all the others, but it did. I am heartily glad it did too! Silent Bob and I loved this cake! His sweet tooth got a real jolt when he took the first bite! A moist swirled center of the cake is wrapped in a crunchy lower crust and coated with a sweet caramel pecan drizzle .... so good! I loved my slice with a hot cup of black coffee - I don't normally drink my coffee black, but the sweetness of the cake demanded a rich almost bitter foil. Perfection and I mean it! Thank you, Mary! You have re-confirmed my love of cake!