Saturday, April 12, 2014

Cooking With Betty Crackpot: Quiche Lorraine

OK, so this is not a recipe you'd want to feed someone with a heart condition where arteries are an issue.  Thank God my arteries are fine, so I went ahead with this recipe, which I'd had my eye one for some time, as I am a huge fan of quiche, and this quiche in particular.  I made the crust from scratch, and while I was doing that, I thought Why don't I do this more often?  Making pie crust is no big deal, IMO.  I don't know why I don't do it more often.  Perhaps I will.

As far as sodium is concerned, well...I used low sodium bacon. I also used one cup of whipping cream and 1 cup of 1% milk instead of 2 cups of cream.  I omitted the salt and sugar.

Here is the recipe, from page 218 of the 1969 version of Betty Crocker's Cookbook.

Quiche Lorraine

Pastry for a 9" one crust pie
12 slices of bacon, crisply fried and crumbled
1 cup shredded Swiss cheese
1/3 cup minced onion
4 eggs
2 cups whipping cream or light cream (20%)
3/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp sugar
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper

Heat oven to 425F.  Prepare pastry.  Sprinkle bacon, cheese, and onion in pastry-lined pan.  Beat eggs slightly; beat in remaining ingredients.  Pour cream mixture into pie pan.  Bake 15 minutes.

Reduce oven temperature to 300F and bake 30 minutes longer or until knife inserted 1" from the edge comes out clean.  Let stand 10 minutes before cutting.

A couple of issues.  First, the onions should be sauteed a bit because they gave off a lot of liquid during the cooking process and that made for a soggy crust. Also, I have no idea why the recipe instructs the cook to bake the quiche at 425F to begin with and then turn the temperature down.  I think this also contributed to a not-so-perfect crust bottom (pale and undercooked-looking).  So next time I make this, I'll cook down the onions a bit first and back the quiche at a one temperature...perhaps 350 or 375.  Also, I had to bake this way longer at 300 than the recipe suggests, like almost for an hour instead of 30 minutes.

Flavour-wise, however, this was great!  Loved it!  And I'll make it again for sure.  I served the quiche with some asparagus plainly roasted in a bit of olive oil.

Sunday, April 06, 2014

Lemon "Brownies"

I have been back on Pinterest - that's how bored I am!  What a time-sucker it is.  But it's irresistible at the same time.  I have posted a few recipes I've found there on here, but then they marked this blog as spam and I was pissy about it, sent an email, which was never responded to, and then I promptly left the site for over a year and a half.  Now I am back...and once more addicted.

There is so much food on Pinterest it's ridiculous.  I found this recipe for Lemon Brownies the other day and was immediately intrigued.  I love a good lemon square, but this was a different kind of bar, so I wanted to try it.  There is a bit of risk with Pinterest recipes; some of them don't turn out and you never really know if they're as tried and true as they claim to be.  But this worked out wonderfully, despite the fact that there is no leavening agent in it.  I was worried about that small detail; I thought perhaps the cake part of the brownie would turn out like a chunk of cement.  I needn't have worried.  Though I slightly over baked it, the cakey part was just great.

I took them to a dinner for dessert and they were a big hit!  I will definitely make these again!

The recipe is here.


Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Stirfry, Low Sodium Version

Regular soy sauce is pretty much off limits for me now, and recently a Facebook friend sent me the link to a low sodium soy sauce replacement she used herself as she requires a low sodium diet, too.  I made it yesterday for the first time, and it was OK.  Granted, I didn't have one of the ingredients; I had to substitute vinegars. The original recipe calls for red wine vinegar but I subbed with malt because that's what I had on hand.  The flavour was OK, and seemed like it would go well with beef.  This afternoon, after my obligatory 30 minutes of exercise - walking to the grocery store - I got some stirfry ingredients and made a beef and broccoli stirfry for dinner with the new sauce.

Before I get much further, here is the recipe for the sauce.

For the stirfry, I used a whole recipe of the sauce and added a heaping teaspoon of cornstarch to thicken it before throwing it in the wok.

The end result:

Well, it was different, that's for sure.  I'm going to make the sauce again for sure, but I am going to use red wine vinegar, which I picked up this afternoon, and I'm probably going to adjust the molasses amount because this was a bit too sweet.  But it's got potential for sure, and it was definitely low in sodium.

Thanks to Pale of A Creative Revolution for the sauce recipe!

Monday, March 31, 2014

Veggie Sandwich

This is my new go-to sandwich: cream cheese, some hard cheese, peppers, red onion, and alfalfa sprouts. Sometimes I add avocado.  I came out of the hospital with a hankering for, of all things, the sprouts.  I have been eating this sandwich fairly faithfully since I got out of hospital.

It's fairly low in sodium (the only value I don't know in this case is the bread, which is a sourdough from Cobs), but I used cream cheese (Island Farms brand, as it was the lowest in sodium) with 50mg/tbsp and I used a smoked cheddar purchased from Costco that, for a serving of 30g, has 8% of my sodium intake for the day in it.  I am pretty much done with deli meat. There are some lower sodium brands of deli meats, but I have decided to stay away from the stuff as much as possible because I know they're full of chemicals etc.

But oh, a pastrami sandwich with a huge dill pickle would go down really, really really well right now...

Sunday, March 30, 2014

I'm Back!

So, where have I been and what have I been up to?  Well that's a long story.  The short story is that in Feb. I had a major health issue rear up before me - I was diagnosed with cardiomyopathy and heart failure.  As a result, I have to be on a low sodium diet and also I must restrict my fluids to 1.5-2L of fluid per day.  Easier said than done!

I have to convalesce from this for a while - I was in hospital for a month. I am bored, and I need a hobby.  Why take up something new when something I've had previously fill my recovery time with is right here, waiting to be revived?  Yep, I'm going to attempt to get back into food blogging.  Plus I have a new added dimension: low sodium cooking.

So far, I haven't enjoyed low sodium eating.  No salt = no flavour, right?  Well, pretty much!  I have recently become more obsessed with food labeling than usual, and I've had to make some pretty significant adjustments.  No salt also = no chips.  Ugh!  I have not had a potato chip in nearly two whole months!

Yesterday I ate out and had a case of the food fuck-its.  I gained 2lbs.  Today, I went to the grocery store and got some low sodium pantry items, feeling a little bit defeated.  I thought I could do low sodium my way, without any big substitutions.  But I was wrong.  My daily intake of salt should be no more than 2mg, which is about a teaspoon.  Dear God, how am I going to live with this?

Roast beef, seasoned with Costco's Mrs. Dash knockoff.
Tonight I made a low sodium meal with some of my new ingredients: roast beef and roast potatoes.  I don't know exactly how much sodium was in this meal, but the only ingredients that contained sodium were the packet of low sodium beef boullion (25% less salt than the regular stuff) which I cooked the roast in, and the 1/2 teaspoon of Club House's Garlic Plus seasoning mix I put on the potatoes (55mg/serving).  I seasoned the beef with Costco's brand of salt free seasoning, which wasn't bad at all. I sprinkled the dinner with Windsor's Salt Free "salt."

What a waste of $3.49!  The Salt Free = flavour free!  I also had the saltless salt on popcorn earlier today and though I thought I gave the stuff a decent shake over the popcorn, I didn't taste any saltiness.

The dinner as a whole, though, was quite palatable.  I have enough for leftovers and a few sandwiches.

 Man, this is going to be a long road.
Low sodium roast beef with roast potatoes.

Where are the veggies you ask?  Hmph!  I bought a salad kit the other day but it's gone off already.  Whatever!

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Cookbook Review: The Casserole Queens Make-A-Meal Cookbook

Well, it's that time of year again: fall.  Not my favourite time of year at all, since the days get shorter, colder, and darker, and I tend to get moodier, more sluggish, and feel the need to indulge in a lot of comfort foods.  And who doesn't love a good comfort food, really?  And nothing says comfort food more clearly, more resoundingly than a casserole.

Oh, how I luvs me a casserole!  So I was stoked to get a review copy of this pretty little book entitled The Casserole Queens Make-A-Meal Cookbook, which touts that it contains "100 mix and match casseroles, salads, side dishes, and desserts."  The Random House page breaks it down further, saying that there are 46 casserole recipes, 37 sides and salads, 13 desserts - and more.  For many of the recipes, there are gluten free options and diabetic-friendly options.

Upon receiving the book, I was taken in completely by the charming writing style and anecdotes shared by the authors, and the recipes looked fantastic.  I couldn't wait to try them!  They seemed simple and involved ingredients that were generally inexpensive and easy to find.  The first recipe was dying to try was the Deconstructed Cabbage Rolls on page 36.  I totally love cabbage rolls, and even have fond memories of my mom making a cabbage roll casserole that was to die for.  This recipe was even more tantalizing because it contained a decent whack of bacon in it, and bacon makes everything better!

The verdict, however, is a different story.  The casserole was disappointing.  For one thing, my 9x13 pan couldn't contain all the ingredients, so I had to move up to my largest lasagna pan - but not a big deal.  The issue I had with the casserole was that it was bland!  I made the recipe exactly as the cookbook stipulated, but I found the casserole lacking in flavour.  My roommate, T, thought it was fantastic, though, by my other roommate was on my side with this: he found it bland, too.  It was very disappointing, despite all the bacon.

But onto the next, which was another recipe which really tickled my fancy because it contains two things I love: tator tots (which I NEVER eat!) and cream of mushroom soup (something you can't go wrong with in a casserole).  This is the recipe on page 110, and I found that it did fit into a 9x13 pan just fine, which made me happy.  There was also an option to make your own cream of mushroom soup for the casserole, but I decided to go with at can of Campbell's. This was very easy prep-wise, which also made me very happy, and once the tator tots crisped up, it looked delectable!

The verdict, however, was: milquetoast!  I found it very salty, my male roommate found it salty as well, and T, who usually likes everything, found it kind of blah.  I was very disappointed, and started wondering if this cookbook was a complete dud.

But I wasn't going to give up on it yet.  One more recipe!  This time, a non-casserole: the Dill Bread recipe on page 160.  It's basically a batter bread you bake in a casserole dish.  Again, I made it just as the recipe stated to, but during the rising process the dough didn't do diddly, so I began to worry that my yeast was dead.  I baked the bread anyway, though, and...drumroll...we finally had a winner!  This bread was a huge hit with everyone!  It looked great, and it smelled fantastic.  It had a great moist texture, somewhere between a scone and a cake.  It was nice and spongy and soft, and it was tasty as hell.  This is something I'd definitely make again.  In fact, I think this will be a very versatile recipe to have on hand as I can think of all kinds of things you could put in here either with dill or with other herbs.  Or just plain, too.

I didn't get around to making any of the desserts, but there are certainly quite a few that look worthy of testing out. There are squares, brownies, cakes and pies, and the recipes all look terrific.

So despite having two so-so casserole experiences from this book, I am going to keep it on my overstuffed cookbook shelves, because it definitely has a lot of potential.  I am not going to write it off just yet - after all, fall has just begun and I'm eager to try a few other recipes in it, like the Chicken Enchiladas and the Savory French Onion Tart.  There are too many ideas in here to pass by!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Cookbook Review: Tyler Florence Fresh

The flap says: "In Tyler Florence Fresh, real unprocessed foods shine in simple yet creative recipes designed to maximize the flavor of each component.  Using easy techniques like quick pickling, searing, and dehydrating to heighten tastes and textures, Tyler masterfully mixes and matches flavors to create plates of elegant simplicity that are naturally brimming with wholesome nutrition."

I have really enjoyed Tyler Florence's TV shows on the Food Network, and he is one of the nicer celebrity chefs to look at - as the cover of his latest cookbook can attest to! - so I was super excited to get ahold of this new release.  But I have to say, very sadly, that I was disappointed with the cookbook overall.

I love the earth-to-table movement.  I love the concept of using fresh, locally procured ingredients and doing as little as possible to them to create spectacular stuff, and it on the surface appears that that's what Tyler has done with this book, so that's not my main beef.

My main beef is the presentation of the food in this book.  I'm not a fan of deconstructionism in food; I think it's unappealing, I think it's very fussy and pretentious, and I think meals made up of several components need to blended together to show how they work together, rather than dissected on the plate to show how separate everything is.  And this is what the presentations in this book do; they remind me of biology class where we had to dissect things and splay them out in their bare parts so we could analyze all these parts and pass the lab.  So I found many of the photographs didn't show the food off in an appealing manner and it really put me off.  It mad the food look broken and uncohesive.

And some of the food just looked plain unappetizing.  For instance, the yogurt foam on page 89 is one example.  I hate foam on foods - it's gross.  And there are a lot of sauces in this book that looks similar, and of course, since everything's broken down into its components it looks even worse.  Even the Key Lime Pie - a dessert I love! - is reduced to a puddle of green puree on a plate with crumbs of graham crust sprinkled on top and some little blobs of meringue dabbed here and there.  This did not inspire me at all to make the recipe!

I liked the concept of the hero ingredients Tyler used in this book, ingredients that are the nutritional star of each dish, like asparagus, salmon and tuna.  But the recipes overall seemed - despite what the flap says - overly fussy and too chi-chi for my tastes.  Plus, there are a lot of ingredients on here that fall outside my budget: truffles, fresh tuna, octopus, and squab, for instance.  This leads into my main complaint about the whole buy local/earth-to-table/sustainability movement: some chefs take it a bit far and turn simple things into elaborate haute cuisine dishes that the average person can't afford to make because some of the ingredients, while healthy and sustainable, are too expensive for the average joe.

I have gone through this book a few times, and I just don't feel there is anything in here I would consider making.  Even the chocolate cake would cost me a fortune to make, with 9 eggs and a pound of decent chocolate in it.  I'm sure it's divine, but that's a huge investment for a dessert for me.

So conceptually, a great idea for a cookbook.  Execution-wise, a totally different story.  I don't think I'll be keeping this cookbook around on my already overfilled cookbook bookcase. :(

Monday, December 17, 2012

Cookbook Review: The Epicurious Cookbook

I know I tout Canadian Living a lot on this blog, and they are fantastic, but I do use other resources, too.  One of them is, which has one seriously bad-ass database for pretty much anything you want to cook or learn how to prepare.  They also have the catalogue of recipes that come from Bon Appetit Magazine and the now-defunct Gourmet Magazine, both of which I used to subscribe to (I don't subscribe to Gourmet anymore because it's defunct and Bon Appetit wasn't quite doing it for me anymore).  And this fall, Epicurious came out with its first ever cookbook: The Epicurious Cookbook.

At 400 pages, it's a bit of a tome, but it's a very attractive tome, with a bright red cover and lots of food porn photos between it's covers.  The chapters follow the seasons, starting with spring, and taking into account seasonal ingredients and seasonal fare, and all recipes come with a little blurb describing the dish etc.

I really liked the layout of the book.  Each recipe has its own page, and the ingredients are in one column with the directions in a facing column.  Most recipes are accompanied by scrumptious-looking photos, which of course everyone who is into cookbooks loves.  For more complicated recipes, the ingredients and instructions are broken down into steps for elements of the dish which is useful for planning and organization.  There are also a lot of tips about how to do certain steps ahead of time if you're preparing things in advance.  At the end there are menu ideas.

Cookies: Banana nut and Amazing Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter
Black Bean & Tomato Quinoa
The recipes look great, as one can expect from a site of this calibre.  I made five recipes myself, three of them cookies.  I made the Dark Chocolate Cherry Oatmeal cookie recipe on page 199 (though I don't have any cherries, so I replaced them with dried cranberries); the Banana Nut Oatmeal cookie recipe on page 284 (this was a hit at home); and the Amazing Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter cookies on page 283 (and they were amazing and I WILL be making them again because they were so good!).  Additionally, I made the Extreme Granola with Dried Fruit on page 298.  This was great granola!  I really enjoyed it.  Finally, I made the Black Bean and Tomato Quinoa on page 70.  Again, this was great and I'll definitely keep this recipe in my repertoire.  It was a very simple, tasty salad with clean flavours.  I'd add some feta cheese to it next time, though, just for some variety.  It made a healthy amount and I felt quite virtuous eating it because it's a nutritious, low fat dish.  I love lime and cilantro, too.

This is definitely a keeper cookbook, and I have plenty more recipes bookmarked that I must make.  For instance, the Salted Caramel Ice Cream on page 87 looks ridiculously amazing, and the Chicken Chili on page 251 looks like a great, low cost meal with a lot of bang for your buck as it uses a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store, which for some reason are always a few dollars cheaper than buying a fresh chicken and roasting it yourself.  And those are just a couple of what I intend to make out of this cookbook.

I for sure recommend this book, and it's Christmastime, too, so it'll make a great gift for the foodie on  your list!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Cookbook Review: 150 Essential Whole Grain Recipes

If you're familiar with this blog, you'll know that I'm a big fan of Canadian Living Magazine and that I'm a long-time subscriber.  Their recipes are pretty much fool-proof and I use them a lot in my kitchen.  And lo and behold, they have a new cookbook out that focuses on something I could definitely use more of in my life, whole grains.  It's called 150 Essential Whole Grain Recipes, and it comes to us via the vastly experienced staff at the Canadian Living test kitchen.

The book is divided into six chapters: Whole Grain Basics, which covers whole grains are and talks about health benefits and gluten free grains; Wheat, Spelt, and Kamut; Brown Rice and Wild Rice; Buckwheat and Rye; Quinoa, Corn, and Millet; and Barley and Oats.  If you are a person who cannot eat gluten, you'd probably really appreciate this book as it provides a lot of great gluten-free recipes and wheat alternatives.

I personally have made five recipes from this book so far.  First came the Whole Wheat Pecan Waffles on page 16.  Loved them, but then again, who doesn't love waffles?  For a indulgent treat one night, I made the Sweet Chili Popcorn on page 207. Loved it!  Though it could have used a bit more kick; perhaps I'd add some cayenne the next time I make this.  But it was basically like caramel corn with a chili-salt flavour and it was a really great accompaniment to a movie night. I made the Oatmeal Scones on pate 253, only I added fresh cranberries to the mix since it was near Thanksgiving and there were fresh cranberries to be had.  I love a good scone, and I'm happy to say that this recipe is a keeper.  It was also a hit with my roommate, who is also a  lover of a good scone. I made the Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Cookies on page 255.  These came out quite dense and a little drier than I prefer my cookies to be, but they were a nice treat and I felt like I was eating something healthier for a chocolate fix.  My eight year old roommate really liked them, too.  Finally, since I am a quinoa fan, I made the Black & White Bean Quinoa Salad on page 181.

I made some substitutions, though, since I don't particularly like navy beans or cucumber.  So I put in a can of chickpeas instead of the navy beans and I diced up a green pepper instead of the cucumber. I also omitted the jalapeno pepper since I don't like those either.  But the dressing for this was very good and the end result was quite delicious!  My roommate liked it, too, and it made enough so that I could have a few meals out of it.  I will go back to this recipe again and again, I think.

Apart from these recipes I made, I have a whole bunch bookmarked in the book for future reference.  There are quite a few bread recipes I want to try and the Chunky Chili Corn Bread Cobbler on page 162 is calling to me!  I just have to wait until I can get a roast of beef at a decent price.  For you vegetarians out there, there are plenty of recipes that would suit a veggie diet and even a vegan diet.

This is a great all-round cookbook with a lot of yummt stuff in it, and as is usual with Canadian Living recipes, they all turned out how they were supposed to without any issues.  I definitely recommend this book and will be keeping it in my already overcrowded cookbook bookcase!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Cooking with Betty Crackpot: Apple Crisp

This is one of the easiest, satisfying desserts you can make and the versatility with it is huge.  I chose to make this particular recipe because my young, almost eight year old roommate, R, had claimed that she'd never had apple crisp before.  If she had, she said it wasn't that memorable.  Well, I wanted to change her life with a memorable apple crisp and I thought Betty would for sure come through for me, since this is a basic, but delicious recipe.  NOTE: I don't normally make my crisp this way, but whatever.  I stayed true to the recipe for the sake of the series!

Apple Crisp, from page 177 of Betty Crocker's Cookbook, 1969 version

4 cups sliced pared tart apples (about 4 medium)
2/3 - 3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup oats
3/4 tsp cinnamon
3/4 tsp nutmeg
1/3 cup butter or margarine, softened

Heat oven to 375F.  Grease square pan, 8x8x2".  Place apple slices in pan.  Mix remaining ingredients thoroughly.  Sprinkle over apples.  Bake 30 minutes or until apples are tender and topping is golden brown.  Serve warm and, if desired, with light cream or ice cream.

I thought this was pretty good.  It was definitely crispy and crunchy.  The flavour and texture was great.  I served it with a bit of whipping cream.

R's verdict: it was "OK."  Well, I guess I didn't change her life after all. 

R's mom, T, loved it though.  We almost ate the whole pan that night.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Lunch at Characters Taverna

Last weekend here on the Wet Coast was gorgeous weather-wise, and perfect for patio eating.  I went into the city to hang with my SIL for an afternoon, and she really fancied Greek food.  There is a string of Greek places on Davie St. in the Thurlow area.  I'd eaten at one and had a bad experience, but I couldn't remember which place it was (there are two within a couple of doors of each other), so we thought we'd try out a place I knew I hadn't eaten at yet, Characters Taverna, right on the corner of Davie & Thurlow - 1103 Davie St. to be specific.  It had lots of patio space and seemed to have a good menu, so Shan and I found a shady spot and were attended by an older gentleman who was very kind and who, whenever he came to serve us, called us his "beautiful ladies."  We were amused and thought this was rather charming.

Starting off by quenching our thirst with nice iced tea, Shan decided to order a calamari starter.  And it was great!  We really liked the extra thick, extra yogurty tzadziki sauce the dish was accompanied by.  It was a very good starter.

We both decided to order the chicken souvlaki lunch, which, for $10 came with Greek rice, lemony roast potato, Greek salad, and pita bread.  OMG, the souvlaki was one of the best I've ever had!  It made me miss chicken, which I haven't been buying much of lately because it's so expensive.  This souvlaki was grilled to juicy perfection, and seasoned with lemon, garlic, and oregano in just the right amounts.  It was amazing!

Although I was full, I did get pulled into desert.  The server recommended Ekmek, which was described as a Greek tiramisu.  The description said it was "vanilla custard over orange soaked wheat biscuits, topped with freshly whipped cream and roasted almonds."  So I caved.  And man was it ever good!  It was light and not too sweet, and yes, did remind me of a tiramisu in a way.  I am definitely going to have to find a way to make this at home!

So, the food at Characters was fantastic, and so was the service.  The prices were very reasonable for lunch and the setting was very lovely.  I would definitely go back again.  Besides, I didn't mind being called "my beautiful ladies" at all! :)

Friday, May 18, 2012

Cooking with Betty Crackpot: Ranger Cookies

This is another childhood recipe we made when we needed a change from chocolate chip cookies - or wanted cookies in addition to chocolate chip cookies.  Ranger Cookies (I have no idea where the name came from) have a great texture since they have a bunch of textured ingredients in them, like the corn flakes (which we used instead of Wheaties) and coconut.  As the recipe says in its intro, these cookies are chewy on the inside and crisp on the outside.  Until the other day, I hadn't had these in years, and again, tasting them gave me a feeling of nostalgia.

Ranger Cookies, from page 135 of Betty Crocker's Cookbook, 1969 version

1/2 cup shortening (I used butter)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 egg
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 cup flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup quick cooking oats
1 cup Wheaties or Total (like I said, I used corn flakes)
1/2 cup shredded coconut

375F oven.  Cream, combine, scoop.  Bake about 10 minutes or until golden.  Yield is about 3 dozen.  I got about 2 dozen since I wanted a bit larger a cookie.

Awesome!  Good old corn flakes!

Saturday, May 05, 2012

Latest Bagels

Last weekend I made another batch of bagels and I have to say this was the best batch yet.  Previously, I amended the recipe to make 12 bagels instead of 10.  I said in that post that the next time I make bagels, I'll weigh the dough out and divide it by 12, and that's what I did.

The dough weighed 1.29kg and for 12 bagels, it came out to 108g per bagel.  Doing it this way made a huge difference.  The bagels were way more uniform in size, which made them much easier to shape.  And instead of shaping by poking a hole and then rubbing the hole between my palms, I focused more on stretching the dough instead.  As you can see, I got smaller holes in the middle, but I'm not overly concerned about that.  They're easier to make sandwiches out of if they don't have a huge hole in the middle.  The last change I made to this recipe was to skip the pepper altogether, and I have found that I prefer the pepper-less ones.

This has definitely been a learning process and finally I am getting these puppies to the place I want them to be!

Friday, May 04, 2012

Cream of Tomato & Dill Soup

This is the soup I made the other night that I made the cornbread to go with.  I've made this before and it's so easy and delicious...And I really don't even like tomato soup that much.  The aroma from this was so tantalizing that my roommate was drawn from a rather important phone conversation to come into the kitchen demanding to know what I was making that was torturing her so!

Unfortunately, I forgot to take a photo - my bad.  I don't know where my brain was because I did take photos of the cornbread.  Oh well!  Here is the recipe.

Cream of Tomato & Dill Soup

2 lbs tomatoes, peeled, then roughly chopped (de-seed if you feel like it; I didn't)
4 cups water, with an adequate amount chicken boullion dissolved in it (use veggie stock if you don't want to use chicken stock)
1 carrot, 1 onion, and 1 stalk celery, chopped
dill, to taste
1 cup half & half cream (10%)
2 - 3 cloves garlic, or to taste, grated

Saute the carrot, onion, and celery until soft.  Add tomatoes and water/chicken and bring to the boil. Add dill.  Simmer until all the veggies are soft. Add more dill as you feel necessary.  With an immersion blender, or in batches in a food processor or blender, whiz until smooth but still has texture; don't puree.  Add garlic.  Finish with cream and serve.

Sooooooooo good, let me tell you!

And I did a food pricing breakdown, too.  This soup cost me about $0.85/serving.  Way better than canned!

Thursday, May 03, 2012

Cooking with Betty Crackpot: Corn Bread

I needed something to go with a killer soup I made the other night (recipe upcoming) and decided to make cornbread.  I love things made with cornmeal.  My mom had a great recipe, but I doubt it came from Betty because this was underwhelming.  I even have a way better recipe. 

In typical Betty Crocker cake-ish fashion, you just dump everything into a bowl and beat the crap out of it.  But that wasn't the problem; it was just not very interesting.  I will admit to over-baking it slightly, which might have accounted for the dryness, too.  But, still, I don't think I'll be making this again.

Corn Bread (page 49 of Betty Crocker's Cookbook)

1 cup yellow cornmeal
1 cup flour
2 tbsp sugar
4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup milk
1/4 shortening or butter (I used butter)
1 egg

Preheat oven to 425F.  Grease or line with parchment paper an 8x8" square baking pan.  Throw all ingredients in a bowl and beat the crap of out them ("blend for 20 seconds.  Beat vigourously for 1 minute").  Pour into pan and bake 20 - 25 minutes or until golden brown.

There are two variations.  The first is to make this into 12 muffins.  The second is "Double Corn Bread" which directs the baker to prepare a 9x9" pan, use 2 eggs, and stir in 1 can (7 - 8 oz) whole kernel corn, well-drained, into the batter.  This actually appeals to me more than the regular recipe.



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