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Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Tuesdays with Dorie: Fluted Polenta and Ricotta Cake

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Every morning I grab my morning coffee, sit down at my computer and catch up with what's going on in the world. First, I check my emails, and then I take a look at at my local newspaper as well some others, like the New York Times, the L.A. Times and the Miami Herald. After that, I click on my Google Reader to see what my fellow bloggers have been up to.
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A couple of months ago, I started noticing posts from a newly formed group called Tuesdays with Dorie or TWD. TWD is a group of baking enthusiasts and Dorie Greenspan fans, whose mission is to bake their way through Dorie's cult classic, Baking: From My Home to Yours. Each week a new recipe from the book is selected, and the TWD members bake and post about it. It sounded like a great idea! I already had the book and used it frequently. I would have joined right then and there, but after recently having joined the venerable Daring Bakers, I just didn't know if I had the time to commit.
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After drooling over week after week of fabulous Dorie-inspired creations, I could stand it no more. I wanted in. So, here I am presenting my first offering as an official member of Tuesdays with Dorie, and I couldn't be happier!
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When I learned that this week's recipe, chosen by Caitlin of Engineer Baker, was Dorie's Fluted Polenta and Ricotta Cake, I breathed a little sigh of relief. It is not a very fussy or complicated cake to make. I figured that I couldn't possibly mess it up. Perfect for my TWD debut.
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This cake is a moist and dense polenta or corn meal based cake, flavored with honey and stuffed with dried figs. I'd never had a polenta cake before, but I've eaten a lot of cornbread and I assumed that the texture would be similar. Unfortunately, I'm not a big fan of cornbread. But, I'm nothing if not a good sport, so I put my game face on and baked it anyway.
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My end result confirmed my suspicions. This cake definitely had the same grainy texture as cornbread, but was a lot more delicious. With it's earthy, honey undertones and sweet, chewy figs, it has earned its place in Dorie's repertoire. Surprisingly, my fourteen year-old daughter loved it and ate two pieces. For "Miss OMG, I Can't Eat THAT! It's WAAAAAY to Fattening!!!", that was major! This will never be one of my favorites, but added to the equation of good friends and good coffee, I think it would be quite nice.
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Fluted Polenta and Ricotta Cake
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About 16 moist, plump dried Mission or Kadota figs, stemmed
1 c. medium-grain polenta or yellow cornmeal
½ c. all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 c. ricotta
1/3 c. tepid water
¾ c. sugar
¾ c. honey (if you’re a real honey lover, use a full-flavored honey such as chestnut, pine, or buckwheat)
Grated zest of 1 lemon
2 large eggs
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Getting Ready: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Butter a 10 ½-inch fluted tart pan with a removable bottom and put it on a baking sheet lined with parchment or a silicone mat.
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Check that the figs are, indeed, moist and plump. If they are the least bit hard, toss them into a small pan of boiling water and steep for a minute, then drain and pat dry. If the figs are large (bigger than a bite), snip them in half.
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Whisk the polenta, flour, baking powder, and salt together.
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Working with a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the ricotta and water together on low speed until very smooth. With the mixer at medium speed, add the sugar, honey, and lemon zest and beat until light. Beat in the melted butter, then add the eggs one at a time, beating until the mixture is smooth. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the dry ingredients, mixing only until they are fully incorporated. You’ll have a sleek, smooth, pourable batter.
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Pour about one third of the batter into the pan and scatter over the figs. Pour in the rest of the batter, smooth the top with a rubber spatula, if necessary, and dot the batter evenly with the chilled bits of butter.
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Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until a thin knife inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. The cake should be honey brown and pulling away just a little from the sides of the pan, and the butter will have left light-colored circles in the top.
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Transfer the cake to a rack and remove the sides of the pan after about 5 minutes. Cool to warm, or cool completely.
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Enjoy!

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Pop Goes the Cheesecake!

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Well, it's that time again. The time when Daring Bakers everywhere flaunt their talent and creativity, their hits and their misses, their flips and their flops! It's post time for the April Daring Baker Challenge: Cheesecake Pops!
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This month our lovely hostesses are Elle from Feeding My Enthusiasms and Deborah from Taste and Tell. The recipe that they selected was from the cookbook Sticky, Chewy, Messy, Gooey: Desserts for the Serious Sweet Tooth by Jill O’Connor. Now before I get thousands of comments and emails about this, let me clear something up. Yes, I know that the name of this book is similar to the name of my blog. And no, I am not a big, fat copycat. I did not name this blog after Jill's cookbook. In fact, I had never even heard of this cookbook before I started blogging. That's the God's honest truth. Those of you who have followed my blogging journey may remember that when I first started out - I didn't bake! Since I wasn't really a baker, I didn't even own any baking books until I went out and bought Dorie's book.
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I named this blog after the most gorgeous cinnamon buns I had ever seen while watching the Food Network one day. Sticky, Gooey, Creamy, Chewy just popped into my head and I typed it into my Blogger profile. After a while, I did learn about SCMG and I was pretty damn shocked (and a bit embarrassed). But, that's life. It's a big world out there folks, and things like this are bound to happen. Deal with it. I have. Now, back to the challenge.
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When I read that Elle and Deborah had chosen Cheesecake Pops for us to make as our April DB challenge, my reaction was.....well.....let's just say, enthusiastic. Cheesecake? Did somebody say cheesecake? Oh boy! I love cheesecake!!! Cheesecake is one of my all time favorite things ever!!! I can't believe it! WOOHOO.....CHEESECAKE!!! YIPPEEEEEEEE!!!!!!
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After I calmed myself down, I sat down to make a plan. Right from the start, I knew I wanted to make my pops reminiscent of flowers. I had a helluva time finding flower cookie cutters in the right size and thickness. I ended up with only one lousy cookie cutter that would work. So much for having a variety of different flowers in my little garden. But I was undaunted. At the craft store, I found a couple of cute flower pots to "plant" my flowers in and some pretty ribbons in the dollar bin. I was set. Excellent!
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Baking the cheesecake was not as easy as I thought it would be. Even though I'd never had problems before, this time the cake cracked a little. Crap! While I was wailing and moaning, Mr. SGCC calmly pointed out that the chocolate would probably camouflage this. Oh. Right. I knew there was a good reason why I married him! He was right. After the flowers were dipped, I
couldn't even notice the cracks.
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I used a mixture of dark and milk chocolate to dip my pops, because while the dark looks better, we all prefer milk chocolate. To decorate the flowers, I swirled some iridescent pearl dust on them. Pearl Dust is usually used to decorate fondant, but it worked really nicely with the chocolate. I took the cheesecake scraps and rolled them into balls. Then, I dipped them and rolled them in toffee bits, crushed pecans and crushed pistachios. I tied some ribbon around each and arranged them in my pots.
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I was very pleased with the way they turned out. I really thought they looked lovely, but you can judge for yourself. I will tell you that they tasted divine! They earned the Mini-SGCC Taste Testing Seal of Approval. There's no higher praise than that!
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If you'd like to see some more delectable cheesecake creations, please visit the Daring Bakers Blogroll. I know you'll have a very sweet time!
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Cheesecake Pops
Adapted from Sticky, Chewy, Messy, Gooey
(Printable Recipe)
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5 8-oz. packages cream cheese at room temperature
2 cups sugar¼ cup all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon salt
5 large eggs
2 egg yolks
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
¼ cup heavy cream
Boiling water as needed
8-inch lollipop sticks
1 pound chocolate, finely chopped – you can use all one kind or half and half of dark, milk, or white (Alternately, you can use 1 pound of flavored coatings, also known as summer coating, confectionery coating or wafer chocolate – candy supply stores carry colors, as well as the three kinds of chocolate.)
2 tablespoons vegetable shortening
Assorted decorations such as chopped nuts, colored jimmies, crushed peppermints, mini chocolate chips, sanding sugars, dragees) - Optional
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Position oven rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 325 degrees F. Set some water to boil.
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In a large bowl, beat together the cream cheese, sugar, flour, and salt until smooth. If using a mixer, mix on low speed. Add the whole eggs and the egg yolks, one at a time, beating well (but still at low speed) after each addition. Beat in the vanilla and cream.
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Grease a 10-inch cake pan (not a springform pan), and pour the batter into the cake pan. Place the pan in a larger roasting pan. Fill the roasting pan with the boiling water until it reaches halfway up the sides of the cake pan.
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Bake until the cheesecake is firm and slightly golden on top, 35 to 45 minutes.
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Remove the cheesecake from the water bath and cool to room temperature. Cover the cheesecake with plastic wrap and refrigerate until very cold, at least 3 hours or up to overnight.
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When the cheesecake is cold and very firm, scoop the cheesecake into 2-ounce balls and place on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Carefully insert a lollipop stick into each cheesecake ball. Freeze the cheesecake pops, uncovered, until very hard, at least 1 – 2 hours.
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When the cheesecake pops are frozen and ready for dipping, prepare the chocolate. In the top of a double boiler, set over simmering water, or in a heatproof bowl set over a pot of simmering water, heat half the chocolate and half the shortening, stirring often, until chocolate is melted and chocolate and shortening are combined. Stir until completely smooth. Do not heat the chocolate too much or your chocolate will lose it’s shine after it has dried. Save the rest of the chocolate and shortening for later dipping, or use another type of chocolate for variety. Alternately, you can microwave the same amount of chocolate coating pieces on high at 30 second intervals, stirring until smooth.
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Quickly dip a frozen cheesecake pop in the melted chocolate, swirling quickly to coat it completely. Shake off any excess into the melted chocolate. If you like, you can now roll the pops quickly in optional decorations. You can also drizzle them with a contrasting color of melted chocolate (dark chocolate drizzled over milk chocolate or white chocolate over dark chocolate, etc.)
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Place the pop on a clean parchment paper-lined baking sheet to set. Repeat with remaining pops, melting more chocolate and shortening (or confectionery chocolate pieces) as needed.
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Refrigerate the pops for up to 24 hours, until ready to serve.
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Enjoy!

Friday, April 25, 2008

Thinking Cloves with Spicy Banana Cookies

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Several weeks ago, I saw a recipe for Banana Cookies on Simply Recipes. The recipe was actually contributed by Garrett McCord, a friend of Elise's and a frequent guest blogger on her site. Garrett is an accomplished baker, food writer and blogger. When I first saw these cookies, they reminded me of a more self-contained version of banana bread. All of the components were there: bananas, spices, nuts. They looked really interesting to me, so I bookmarked the page for future reference. Then, I read about Gretchen's blog event, Think Spice...Think Cloves, and I knew just what my entry would be. Those banana cookies had cloves in them. They would be perfect!
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Gretchen is one of my favorite bloggers. She is the brainchild behind Canela & Comino. Gretchen lives in Peru and is passionate about the country and its cuisine. She shares the markets, kitchens and flavors of Peru, as well as a lot of other interesting things, with her readers. Not only that, but she is a real sweetheart too!
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This recipe is pretty straightforward and easy to follow. The only things I did differently were to toast the pecans and add a handfull of milk chocolate chips to the dough. I love the combination of banana and chocolate, so I was sure that this would be a great addition. I was so right!
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Garrett says that these cookies are one of his all time favorites and I can see why. They were chewy on the outside and moist, cakey and bursting with banana flavor on the inside. The presence of the spices was subtle, but definitely there. The gutsiness of the cloves came shining through. They really and truly were like little nuggets of banana bread.
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Before I tried these, I never would have thought to use bananas in a cookie, but now I can't imagine not doing so. In fact, I'm already toying with ideas about other things I can add to twist them up a bit more. What do you think of coconut? Or maybe, some golden raisins? How about adding a little honey or maple syrup? I'll bet they'd be amazing topped with some cream cheese frosting too! I love a great recipe that's not too set in its ways. It's so much fun to play around and see what happens!
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Spicy Banana Cookies
Adapted from Garrett McCord via Simply Recipes
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1/2 cup of unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup of sugar 1 egg, room temperature
1 cup of mashed bananas
1 teaspoon of baking soda
2 cups of flour
pinch of salt
1/2 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon of ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon of ground cloves
1 cup of chopped, toasted pecans
1/2 cup of milk chocolate chips
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Preheat the oven to 350°F. Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the egg and continue to beat until the mixture is light and fluffy.
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In a bowl, mix the mashed bananas and baking soda. Let sit for 2 minutes. The baking soda will react with the acid in the bananas which in turn will give the cookies their lift and rise.
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Mix the banana mixture into the butter mixture. Mix together the flour, salt, and spices and sift into the butter and banana mixture and mix until just combined.
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Fold into the batter the pecans or chocolate chips if using. Drop in dollops onto parchment paper-lined baking sheet.
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Bake for 11-13 minutes or until nicely golden brown. Let cool on wire racks.
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Makes about 30 cookies.
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Enjoy!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Top Chef, Season 4: Improv AND Giveaway Winner

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NOTE: I apologize for posting this week's recap so late. We had an urgent family emergency arise last night and I've been tied up all day dealing with it. If it seems a little disjointed, I trust you'll understand. I threw it together pretty quickly.
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Well, things were sure a lot calmer in the Top Chef kitchen this week. So much so, that I had a bit of trouble staying awake through the whole show. As much as I complain about the Cheftestants' spoiled brat antics, I guess I kind of like the drama. Last night, I was bored.
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This week's guest judge was Johnny Iuzzini, executive pastry chef at the famed Restaurant Jean Georges in New York. Chef Iuzzini was also recently named New York's Sexiest Chef, by New York Daily News. He is kind of cute, I suppose, but he's no Ming Tsai!
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As you've probably guessed, the Quickfire Challenge was all about desserts. The Cheftestants had thirty minutes to come up with a creative and delicious dessert sufficient to wow Chef Iuzzini. Since desserts have been the kiss of death for many an aspiring Top Chef, the anxiety in that room was thick enough to cut with a pastry blender. I don't get it. What is the big effing deal about making a dessert? Where is it written that one can only do quality sweet or savory dishes, but not both? Thousands of you do it (and do it extremely well) every day. I do it, and I'm not a trained chef. Even with my doughaphobia, I manage to eke out a pretty decent pie crust. So, why is it that the mere mention of the "D" word is enough to inspire terror in the hearts of our dear Cheftestants?
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In any event, most of those dessert offerings actually weren't bad. In the bottom three were Antonia, Mark (who seemed genuinely surprised) and Spike (who bravely attempted a souffle). Chef Iuzzini's top picks were Dale, Lisa and Richard, who won the challenge with his quirky Banana Scallops with Banana Guacamole and Chocolate Ice Cream.
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After the Quickfire, Padma sweetly announced that the Cheftestants would be getting a well-deserved night off to relax and be inspired at The Second City, the legendary improvisational comedy club in Chicago. Yeah, right! We all knew where THAT was going! The gang quickly became part of the show, with the whole concept for Elimination Challenge being "improvised" by the actors on the mainstage with a little help from the audience.
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Guided by the actors, audience members were asked to shout out color, emotion, and ingredient names, which were to become the inspiration for the chefs' dishes at a dinner they would prepare for the Second City troupe and the judges. The chefs were again divided into pairs, and each was assigned one of the "improvised" color, emotion and ingredient combinations to base their dishes on. The icing on the proverbial cake was that while preparing the food, they would have no electrical appliances, other than their stoves and ovens.
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I thought that this was a fantastic opportunity for the Cheftestants to really show what kind of creative stuff they're made of. The five teams and their assignment are as follows:
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Team Spike/Andrew - yellow, love, vanilla
Team Antonia/Lisa - magenta, drunk, polish sausage
Team Jen/Stephanie - orange, turned on, asparagus

Team Nikki/Mark - purple, depressed, bacon
Team Dale/Richard - green, perplexed tofu

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I can tell you that with the exception of Team Antonia/Lisa, all of the teams really did try to capture spirit of the challenge. Their dishes cleverly incorporated each of the three elements they were assigned.
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Team Dale/Richard, rocked it with their Tofu "Steak" Marinated in Beef Fat with Green Curry. They were the winners of the challenge, followed by runners up Spike and Andrew who made - are you ready - BUTTERNUT SQUASH SOUP! Can you stand it? And the judges loved it! All I can say is thank goodness that Spike finally got to make that soup! Now, he can finally stop
whining about it!
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Team Jen/Stephanie and Team Antonia/Lisa made the least favorite dishes and ended up on the chopping block. Jen and Stephanie's Menage a Trois of Orange with Goat Cheese, Asparagus, Salad and Olive Tapenade was a mess! First of all, their assigned ingredient was asparagus, yet it seemed like an afterthought on their plate. They smothered the asparagus in a pile of caramelized goat cheese and plopped a big hunk of toasted bread on the plate. Apparently, they were trying to make some sort of phallic statement with their presentation, but the interpretation left the judges "limp".
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Team Antonia/Lisa, aka Team "We Hate Polish Sausage", arrogantly chose to completely bypass the polish sausage in their dish altogether, and opted to use sea bass (???) and chorizo instead. They decided that, damn it, they were fine dining chefs, and polish sausage was beneath them. WTF? Yeah, well the judges didn't buy it either.

In the end, the judges determined that even though Team "We Hate Polish Sausage" defied the rules of the challenge, their dish still tasted better than Jen and Steph's. In what I considered to be an incredibly unfair decision, Jen was asked to pack her knives and go.




Now, it's your turn. Let's dish up some Top Chef! Leave a comment on this post and you will be eligible for my next Top Chef Giveaway. Next time, some lucky commenter will win one of these handy dandy Top Chef whisks. Who wouldn't love that?








And now, the moment you've all been waiting for! The winner of this week's Giveaway and the recipient of an official Top Chef oven mitt is......Deborah from Taste and Tell! Congratulations, Deborah! Send me an email at stickygooeycreamychewy AT gmail DOT com with your mailing address and I'll get your prize out to you ASAP.
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Ciao for now!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Holycraptheseareamazing Cookies Revisited: Peanut Butter Bliss

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When I first posted about these mind-numbingly delicious, crispy, creamy little balls of peanut butter perfection it caused quite a stir. Even though that was several months ago, I'm still feeling ripples from the shock waves these little guys caused around the blogosphere. I was thrilled by the enthusiastic reaction they received, though I really wasn't too surprised. After all, what's not to love about a ridiculously simple and decadently rich peanut butter cookie that you don't even have to bake? So, when I read about The Peanut Butter Boy's new event, The Great Peanut Butter Exhibition #1 - Cookies, I knew that I had to share this recipe again.
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The Great Peanut Butter Exhibition is a joint effort of The Peanut Butter Boy in conjunction with The Chocolate Peanut Butter Gallery and Foodaphilia, to present the latest and greatest in peanut butter blogging. They plan to choose a new peanut buttery theme each month. I think it's a terrific idea and I look forward to "spreading" more peanut butter love around in future events as well.
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Holycraptheseareamazing Cookies require only four ingredients. They are basically thrown together in a saucepan, dropped on a cookie sheet and cooled. You can literally be eating these little blobs of bliss in less than twenty minutes.
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I've chosen to add a drizzle of dark chocolate over the cookies, mostly to make the pictures look prettier, but that's not part of the original recipe. I happen to think the chocolate is the yin to peanut butter's yang. If you're a purist, by all means, omit the chocolate. The cookies are just as scrumptious without it.
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By the way, if you're interested in learning how these cookies got their unusual name, go here.
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Holycraptheseareamazing Cookies
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Ingredients:
(Makes about 3 dozen cookies)
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1 cup sugar

1 cup corn syrup
1 jar (18 oz ounce) peanut butter, crunchy or creamy (I like creamy.)
6 cups corn flakes
3 oz good quality chocolate of your choice (optional)
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Preparation:

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Combine sugar and corn syrup in a medium saucepan. Place over medium-high heat and stir until the mixture comes to a full boil.
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Remove from heat and stir in the whole jar of peanut butter. Mix well.
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Add corn flakes to a large bowl. Pour peanut butter mixture over corn flakes and mix well, taking care to coat all of the corn flakes.
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With a tablespoon or cookie scoop, scoop out and form into 1-2 inch balls, depending on your preference, and place them on a cookie sheet lined with parchment or wax paper.
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Put the chocolate (if using) in a small bowl and melt in the microwave for about 30 seconds. Stir until smooth.
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Drizzle the melted chocolate over the cookies.
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When cooled, eat these cookies with reckless abandon. Be careful, though. We wouldn't want anyone to get hurt!
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Enjoy!

Monday, April 21, 2008

Lemon Yogurt Cakelets for Little Wonders

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I can't believe I completely forgot about these little guys! Aren't they cute? They're mini-lemon yogurt cakes that I made for Phe*mom*enon's Little Wonders - Blogging for Babies. I made them about three weeks ago when I first read about this event and in the whirly blur that is my life these days, I forgot to write my post. Don't judge me. I've got a lot on my mind! So, since the deadline for this event is in less than two hours, you lucky readers are going to get the Reader's Digest condensed version of what I was going to write, instead of the long-winded, droning on and on version. Consider yourselves lucky.
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The purpose of this event is to raise funds and awareness for the March of Dimes, March for Babies. Most of you are already familiar with the March of Dimes, but for those who aren't, they are the leading non-profit organization in the United States dedicated to pregnancy and baby health. Their mission is to improve the health of babies by preventing birth defects, premature birth, and infant mortality, through research, community services, education and advocacy.
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I am so incredibly lucky to have a healthy and thriving child, but she wasn't always that way. I've shared with you before the story of my struggle with infertility and my difficult pregnancy. What I didn't share was the fact that my daughter spent her first two weeks of life in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at our local hospital. Less than 24 hours after she was born, she developed a beta strep infection which developed into pneumonia. At almost eight and a half pounds, she looked like a giant among all of the preemies, but that didn't diminish the heartache we felt at seeing her hooked up to ventilators, IVs and a host of other scary things.
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During the time that Mini-SGCC was in the NICU, we got to know the families of some of the other babies there, mostly preemies. My heart bled for them. Here I was, with a full term, hefty baby, albeit a sick one, and they were dealing with babies that were four, three and even two pounds! After the first few days, I could hold my baby in my arms. Most of them could not. The courage and determination of those parents was an inspiration! The March of Dimes was and is an invaluable resource for them.
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For my entry in this event, I decided to make Ina Garten's Lemon Yogurt Cake. I'd considered making it for the A Taste of Yellow event, so I already had all of the ingredients, including some beautiful Meyer lemons. I had a cakelet plaque of mini flower molds and I thought that it would be really cute to use it for this event. I took half of the cake batter and added candied ginger to it. The rest of the batter got treated to some fresh blueberries. Since the cakelets were so small, I only baked them for about a third of the recommended time. I decided to dust a little powdered sugar on them instead of using the glaze in the recipe. This was because I was afraid that the glaze would obscure the details of the little flowers. It didn't matter. They were moist and delicious anyway.
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If you want to know more about Little Wonders March for Babies Team? Fantastic!! Here is the Team Page. Any amount that you can sponsor is extremely appreciated. Please, please help spread the word and sponsor Little Wonders if you can! Thank you!
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Lemon Yogurt Cakelets
Adapted from Barefoot Contessa at Home
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1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup plain whole-milk yogurt
1 1/3 cups sugar, divided
3 extra large eggs
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 cup candied ginger bits (optional)
1 cup fresh blueberries (optional)
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Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour a cake plaque or mini muffin pan.
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Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt into 1 bowl. In another bowl, whisk together the yogurt, 1 cup sugar, the eggs, lemon zest, and vanilla. Slowly whisk the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. With a rubber spatula, fold the vegetable oil into the batter, making sure it's all incorporated. Equally divide the batter into 2 bowls. Mix the ginger bits into one, and the blueberries into the other. Pour the batters into the prepared pan and bake for about 20 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean.
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Meanwhile, cook the 1/3 cup lemon juice and remaining 1/3 cup sugar in a small pan until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is clear. Set aside.
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When the cakelets are done, allow them to cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Carefully place on a baking rack over a sheet pan. While the cakelets are still warm, pour the lemon-sugar mixture over them and allow it to soak in. Cool.
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Enjoy!

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Pasta Nirvana

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One of my least favorite things to do is wait on the checkout line at the supermarket. I especially hate it when I pop into the express lane with my basket containing three items and the person in front of me has just loaded a cart full of groceries onto the conveyor. What’s up with that? What is it about ten items or less that’s so hard to understand? Can’t these people read, or are they just unbelievably arrogant, because I’m telling you, it happens a lot!
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I found myself in just that situation several weeks ago. Not only did the woman in front of me have a ton of items in her cart, she also had the nerve to pull out a stash of coupons! As I stood there, silently fuming, there was little else I could do but bide my time and wait. I flipped through the TV Guide and caught up on Bo and Hope’s latest escapades in Soap Opera Digest. Just as I was about to make a snarky comment to the rube in front of me, something caught my eye. The April issue of Gourmet Magazine had come out.
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Ooooooh!
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My mood immediately began to improve as I plucked a copy off of the stand. It was an issue devoted to Italian cooking. Right up my alley! The cover had a pristine white background with a picture of a really lovely-looking pasta dish. The pasta wasn’t fussy or fancy, but beautiful in its simplicity. That sold me. I had to make it.
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The dish was called Pasta with Spicy Anchovy Sauce and Dill Bread Crumbs. The foundation of the dish is a bevy of red onions caramelized in extra virgin olive oil. To that, anchovies are added and sauteed until they dissolve and meld with the onions into a deliciously sweet and salty sauce. The sauce is tossed with pasta, toasted bread crumbs, and herbs. Pasta nirvana!
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While I was devouring my pasta, I also devoured the rest of the magazine. With every turned page, there was yet another tantalizing photo with another great recipe to try. I usually tear out the recipes I like and store them in a big loose-leaf binder to cut down on the dreaded “magazine clutter.” This time, however, there were just too many “keepers” for that.
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Since then, I have made a few of the other mouthwatering offerings from this issue. All of them were divine! But that’s a topic for another post.
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Pasta with Spicy Anchovy Sauce and Dill Bread Crumbs
from Gourmet magazine, April 2008

Makes 6 servings
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3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided
2 cups fresh bread crumbs (preferably from a baguette)
1/4 cup chopped dill
1 pound red onions, thinly sliced (3 cups)
1 (2-ounce) can flat anchovy fillets, drained and chopped
1 pound bucatini or perciatelli pasta (long tubular strands)
1/2 teaspoon dried hot red-pepper flakes
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Heat 1/4 cup oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over medium heat until it shimmers, then cook bread crumbs, stirring constantly, until deep golden and crisp, 6 to 8 minutes.
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Transfer bread crumbs to a bowl and toss with dill and 1/4 teaspoon each of salt and black pepper.Wipe out skillet, then cook onions with 1/4 teaspoon salt in remaining 1/2 cup oil over medium heat, stirring frequently, until very soft, 12 to 15 minutes. Add anchovies and cook, mashing anchovies into onions, until dissolved.
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Meanwhile, cook bucatini in a pasta pot of boiling salted water (2 tablespoons salt for 5 quarts water) until al dente. Reserve 1/2 cup cooking water, then drain pasta.
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Stir red-pepper flakes and reserved water into anchovy sauce, then add pasta and toss to combine. Add about half of bread crumbs and toss to coat.
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Serve sprinkled with remaining bread crumbs.
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Enjoy!
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If you like this recipe, you might also enjoy:
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Friday, April 18, 2008

LIVESTRONG with A Taste of Yellow

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Sometimes, I can be a great big procrastinator, especially when the task at hand is something that I don't really want to do. I've been futzing around with this post for over two weeks. Every day, I would sit down to write it, and every day I would find something else to do instead. I would stare at the blank computer screen for a while and then move on to something else. Why? Because this post is about cancer, and I hate cancer. I hate talking about cancer. I hate writing about cancer. I hate thinking about cancer. Cancer is a thief and a liar and a cruel, sadistic bastard. The last thing I wanted to do was talk, write or even think about it.
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Many of you who are regular readers of this blog may already know that I lost my father to renal cancer in November, 2006. I've written about him before, here and here. He was an extraordinary man - strong, yet warm; tough, yet kind; shrewd, yet caring. He was my hero. In the span of one short year I watched as cancer sapped the life out of this robust and vital man, bit by bit, breath by breath, until his body was nothing more than an unwelcoming host for his beautiful soul. Each day, my heart broke a little bit more as he slipped further and further away from us. When he died, a piece of me died with him.
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Since then, I have watched others that I care about become afflicted with this scourge. My assistant, M., recently completed seven weeks of radiation and chemotherapy. My next door neighbors on either side of me, J. and T., have each been battling the disease as well. One of them has three little children under the age of ten. I lost one friend and colleague to colon cancer. She was the mother of a preschooler. One other close friend of mine is (thankfully) now in remission from breast cancer.
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When my dad was sick, sometimes the despair was so great, it was like having a big, heavy cloak draped over me. It was so hard to find anything positive amidst all of that negativity. A friend of mine, who had recently lost her daughter to cancer gave me the following verse in the hope that I might find some comfort in it. I didn't at the time, but since then, I have come to see the wisdom in these words. I am passing it on to you so that it can maybe ease the burden of others whose lives have been touched by this dreadful disease.
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When I first read about the A Taste of Yellow event hosted by Barbara at Winos and Foodies, I knew that I had to participate. This event was conceived to commemorate LIVESTRONG Day. LIVESTRONG Day is sponsored by the Lance Armstrong Foundation. It's purpose is to unify people affected by cancer and to raise cancer awareness on a national level and in local communities across the country. This year, LIVESTRONG Day will occur on Tuesday, May 13. Barbara plans to post the roundup for A Taste of Yellow to coincide with this.
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The participants in A Taste of Yellow are to make and post a recipe of their choosing containing some element of yellow food. Yellow is the official color of the LIVESTRONG program. Last year, almost one hundred fifty food bloggers participated in this event. I've been seeing an awful lot of yellow food around the blogosphere lately, so I suspect we just might beat that number this time around.
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For my entry in this event, I made mini lemon cream filled filo cups with a ginger-spiced whipped creme fraiche and fresh berries. I used Pierre Hermes' divine and decadent lemon cream recipe from Dorie Greenspan's Baking: From My Home to Yours. Yes, I know that this cream was the featured recipe in last week's Baking with Dorie event, but remember, I made this over two weeks ago before I knew that! So, you'll just have to deal with it! This recipe makes a lot of cream. You can make a whole batch and use the rest for something else or just half the recipe.
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Once the lemon cream is made, the rest of the recipe is a breeze to make. You can buy frozen filo sheets as well as pre-baked filo cups in most supermarkets. Since I already had the sheets in my freezer, I opted to use them. I just cut out three inch circles of filo and formed a few layers into mini muffin tins, brushing with a little melted butter. Then I baked them, filled them, garnished them, photographed them and ate them! The mini cups are just the right size for these treats as the lemon cream is so rich. The perfect bite, if you will.


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My thanks go out to Barbara for taking on the challenge of hosting this great event. Please make sure to take some time to visit her site when the roundup is posted.


Mini Filo Cups with Lemon Cream, Ginger-Spiced Creme Fraiche Whipped Cream and Fresh Berries
(Printable Recipe)
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1/2 package frozen filo dough, cut into 3-inch rounds (or pre-baked filo cups)
Pierre Hermes' French Lemon Cream (recipe to follow)
Ginger-Spiced Whipped Creme Fraiche (recipe to follow)
Fresh berries of your choosing
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Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
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Form 2 or 3 rounds of filo into each form of a mini muffin tin. Brush lightly with melted butter.
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Bake for 8-10 minutes, until golden and crispy. Set aside to cool.
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Pipe or spoon lemon cream into each cup. Pipe a dot of creme fraiche over the lemon cream, and garnish with a fresh berry.

Pierre Hermes' French Lemon Cream
Adapted from Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan
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1 cup sugar
Finely grated zest of 3 lemons
4 large eggs
3/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (from 4 to 5 lemons)
2 sticks plus 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature and cut into tablespoon-sized pieces
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Getting ready: Have a thermometer, preferably an instant-read, a strainer and a blender (first choice) or food processor at the ready. Bring a few inches of water to a simmer in a saucepan.
Put the sugar and zest in a large metal bowl that can be fitted into the pan of simmering water.

Off heat, work the sugar and zest together between your fingers until the sugar is moist, grainy and very aromatic. Whisk in the eggs followed by the lemon juice.
Fit the bowl into the pan (make certain the water doesn’t touch the bottom of the bowl) and cook, stirring with the whisk as soon as the mixture feels tepid to the touch. You want to cook the cream until it reaches 180°F. As you whisk the cream over heat—and you must whisk constantly to keep the eggs from scrambling—you’ll see that the cream will start out light and foamy, then the bubbles will get bigger, and then, as the cream is getting closer to 180°F, it will start to thicken and the whisk will leave tracks. Heads up at this point—the tracks mean the cream is almost ready. Don’t stop whisking and don’t stop checking the temperature. And have patience—depending on how much heat you’re giving the cream, getting to temp can take as long as 10 minutes.
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As soon as you reach 180°F, pull the cream from the heat and strain it into the container of a blender (or food processor); discard the zest. Let the cream rest at room temperature, stirring occasionally, until it cools to 140°F, about 10 minutes.
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Turn the blender to high and, with the machine going, add about 5 pieces of butter at a time. Scrape down the sides of the container as needed while you’re incorporating the butter. Once the butter is in, keep the machine going—to get the perfect light, airy texture of lemon-cream dreams, you must continue to beat the cream for another 3 minutes. If your machine protests and gets a bit too hot, work in 1-minute intervals, giving the machine a little rest between beats.
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Pour the cream into a container, press a piece of plastic wrap against the surface to create an airtight seal and chill the cream for at least 4 hours or overnight. When you are ready to use the cream, just whisk to loosen it.

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Creme Fraiche Whipped Cream
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1 cup whipping cream
3 tbsps sugar
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 cup creme fraiche
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Whip cream until it begins to thicken. Sprinkle with sugar. continue to beat cream until it
makes a soft, lazy peak.
Fold or gently whisk in creme fraiche.

Dollop on everything.
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Enjoy!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Top Chef, Season 4: Tailgating AND TWO GIVEAWAY WINNERS

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Things seem to have "simmered down" a bit in the Top Chef kitchen this week. If you recall, at the end of last weeks episode several of the Cheftestants had reached their "boiling points" as the aftershock of Zoi's departure was felt by all. It must be hard to exist in that kind of situation, a veritable "pressure cooker", where you're with the same group of people 24/7. Relationships are developed. Attachments are formed. Yet, you're all competing for the same coveted prize under enormously stressful conditions.
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As this week's episode opened, the same people were still kvetching about what went down in the last challenge. Spike was still bitching about that soup. (For God's sake, Spike! Let. It. Gooooo!) As for Jen, well.....let's just say that Jen needs to morph out of her junior high mindset and grow up a little. Okay, so your girlfriend got cut and you feel bad. We all knew that one of you would eventually get sent packing. So, grow up and quit whining already!
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I thought that Dale definitely won the citizenship award last night. He obviously regretted his outburst against Lisa and approached her about it. He basically apologized for losing his temper and calmly tried to address the issue of her negativity with her. I thought it was the responsible and mature thing to do. That Dale is one classy guy, (if you overlook last week's crotch grabbing display)! Of course, Lisa was having none of it and proceeded to bash Dale behind his back. Oh well, you can take the girl out of the gutter.......

Last night's Quickfire Challenge was all about "simple pleasures". In the challenge, each Cheftestant was given a six pack of a different kind of beer and told to create a dish that complemented it. That was an easy one! Beer goes with almost every cuisine. The possibilities are nearly endless. Koren Grieveson, Chef de cuisine at Avec Restaurant in Chicago, was the guest judge. Maybe she is camera shy, but she displayed no personality whatsoever. In fact, her comments were barely audible. I had never heard of her before, but she is highlighted as one of Food & Wine Magazine's Best New Chefs of 2008, so I suppose I'm duly impressed. I hope she doesn't see this. If I ever get to Chicago, I might want to eat at Avec.
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Grieveson selected Jen's seafood beignets as the winning dish. I have to say, I think I would have chosen them too. They really looked great. Richard and Stephanie also got kudos for their submissions. At the bottom of the heap were Spike, Dale and Nikki. Better luck next time, guys.
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Okay, now I'm not even going to address that bathtub scene between Spike and Mark. That was a genuine WTF moment! It was just too weird for me and I'm not touching it with a ten foot pole. Of course, that doesn't stop any of you from giving your take on it.
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The Elimination Challenge was one we've seen every season. You know, the "We're just regular Joes and Can Cook for the Common Man" one. In this incarnation, our Cheftestants were cooking tailgate food for Bears fans at Soldier Field. Each chef was given a choice of using a Weber gas grill or a Weber charcoal grill to cook their food. Hmmm. I guess Weber must be a new Top Chef sponsor. Everyone chose the gas except Mark, who went with charcoal. An ominous sign!

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Now, here is where I got a little confused. At the football field, some other guy showed up Instead of Koren Grieveson to judge the elimination challenge. He was introduced as Paul Kahan, chef/owner of Avec. Huh? Then who was the other one? I thought she was the chef at Avec. And why the tag team? Couldn't they spare her for one whole day at the restaurant? In 2007, Kahan was nominated for a James Beard Award for Outstanding chef. I guess James Beard trumps Food & Wine.
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I thought that most of the menu selections looked pretty darn good. There was a lot of variety and the crowd seemed to enjoy almost everything they tasted. In fact, Nikki's dish was apparently so popular, that she ran out of food before the judges came by to taste it. Now, I like Nikki, but come on! How could she let that happen? The judges are there to "judge" the food. They can't do that if they don't eat it. Didn't she realize that they hadn't been by yet? If it were you, wouldn't you have made damn sure that you put some of the good stuff aside for them? I think I'd rather have a few disgruntled fans than a few disgruntled judges! Tony Bourdain would have ripped her a new one for that blunder!
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There were some pretty special guests roaming around at that tailgate party. Several all-time Bears greats, including Gale Sayers (Remember Brian's Song?) and William “The Fridge” Perry were there, and let me tell you, they were loving Dale's ribs! They did look like some pretty awesome ribs. I loved the exchange between Dale and those football legends. Being born and raised in Chicago, Dale was absolutely over the moon!
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Ryan, aka Mr. Cheese, was totally working the crowd. He could have given Rachael Ray a run for her money with that mouth of his! Unfortunately, no one cared for his food. Instead of cooking for his audience, he made tailgate food "Ryan Scott Style". His words, not mine. He made a Bread Salad with Marinated Chicken Thighs, a Poached Pear with Creme Fraiche and a Brandy Hot Cocoa. This, at a football game with no tables, chairs or decent utensils to eat with. His dish was unwieldy and impractical for the situation. It was a very indulgent choice.

Mark seemed to having a helluva time "getting his grill on", so to speak. He prepared a chicken yakitori skewer with a seafood chowder. The judges weren't really crazy about either, but what they really reamed him on was his messy, unsanitary station. Can't say that I blame them. Can you imagine eating food that came out of that mess? And he stirred his chowder with the same spoon he tasted from! Ken from Season 2 was summarily dismissed for less than that!
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Andrew was.....well.....Andrew. Nuff said. Nice touch with the football helmet, though.
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The top three this week were Stephanie (Grilled Pork Tenderloin with Pear, Potato and Bacon Salad and Rosemary Vinaigrette) , Antonia (Jerk Chicken Sandwich with Pickled Onions and Grilled Pineapple and Banana) and Dale (Tandori Pork Ribs & Potato Salad with Golden Raisins, Dried Mango & Turmeric). Dale took the win, as well as one of those fancy schmancy gas grills.
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The bottom three of the bunch were Nikki (Sausage and Peppers, Grilled Shrimp with Hot Sauce and Spiced Cider), Mark (Yakitori Chicken Skewer with Seafood Corn Chowder) and Ryan (Bread Salad with Marinated Chicken Thighs, a Poached Pear with Creme Fraiche and a Brandy Hot Cocoa. No surprises here! The judges decided that the sins of running out of blah food and cooking blah food under unsanitary conditions were not as great as the sin of cooking hoity toity, blah, "California tailgate" food at a Chicago Bears tailgate party. In the end, Ryan was asked to pack his knives and go.
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So, how do you feel about this season so far? Who do you love? Who do you hate? Who do you love to hate? Leave a comment on this post between now and next Wednesday, April 23 at 10:00 p.m. EDT and you could be the next lucky winner!
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Let's Dish!
And now, for this week's Giveaway winners. No, it's not a typo. Due to an unexpected Top Chef related windfall, I am giving away two prizes this week! See, you never know what's going to happen here in SGCCland.
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The first winner and recipient of an "I'm Not Your Bitch, Bitch" cap is.........David Dust! David is a new reader of this blog and he write his own Top Chef recaps on his site, here. Congratulations, David!

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Our second winner and recipient of an official Top Chef Cookbook is........Ginny of Just Get Floury! Congratulations, Ginny!

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If both winners will email me at stickygooeycreamychewy AT gmail DOT com with their mailing addresses, I will happily send out their prizes.


Thanks, everyone, for playing. I still have lots more stuff to give away, so keep coming back! Next week, I will be sending someone another Top Chef oven mitt.
Ciao for now!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Tax Relief: Bistec a lo Pobre (Poor Man's Steak)

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They say that there are only two things that are certain in this world: death and taxes. Neither of these are appealing options for most people, but if pressed, I'd have to choose taxes as the lesser evil. Since today is tax day here in the United States, I thought I'd send you all a little edible tax relief.
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We here in SGCCland are huge fans of South American cuisine, particularly Peruvian food. We're lucky to have several excellent Peruvian restaurants in town. There isn't one damn place to get decent dim sum, but Peruvian restaurants abound! One of our favorites is called Red. They have a dish on their menu called Bistec a lo Pobre. It consists of a seasoned, seared steak accompanied by fried potatoes and sauteed onions, and topped with a fried egg. It is Mr. SGCC's favorite favorite thing to order there. I have to agree with him. It is really good!
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Bistec a lo Pobre literally translates to "steak of the poor". I'm not sure why, though. With those ingredients, this dish is anything but. To me, that big slab of beef all covered with gooey, eggy goodness is definitely something I'd categorize as rich. In my research, I found that this dish is a staple in other South American countries as well, particularly in Chile, Argentina and Ecuador, each having its own unique spin on it. The Ecuadorian version, for example, also includes fresh tomatoes fried with the onions and potatoes.
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The bistec in this dish is traditionally a sirloin steak. Red slices it into thin, almost cutlet-style pieces. This means that the meat ends up being on the well-done side. While the onions are pan fried, the potatoes are actually french fries. We like our beef practically mooing, so I asked my butcher to slice the beef into one-half inch thick steaks. I didn't want to mess with deep frying, so I opted to cut the potatoes into thin slices and pan fry them with the onions. I used Yukon Gold potatoes as I learned that they most closely resemble a popular variety of yellow potato indigenous to Peru. I seasoned the steaks with salt, pepper, garlic and a little cumin and smoked paprika. I sprinkled a packet of Sazon into the onions and potatoes, but that was just me. It certainly isn't necessary to the dish. I probably will leave it out the next time I make this.
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The most difficult part of preparing this dish is the timing, so that all of the components are ready at the same time. I cooked the potatoes and onions first and set them aside on a serving platter while I seared the steaks, which only took about five minutes. Then, I fried the eggs. You will have to keep the meat, potatoes and onions warm somehow while doing this. I stuck the platter in a warm oven, but my steak ended up cooking a little more than I would have liked.
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My Bistec a lo Pobre was a smashing success! We all loved it. Even Mini-SGCC, who never touches beef, ate it! The flavors earthy and aromatic. Those fried eggs oozing over everything just pulled it all together. It was pretty nearly heaven on a plate! I actually liked it better than the restaurant version.
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So now, to commemorate the day in which many Americans will reluctantly part with significant amounts of their hard-earned cash, I offer you some Bistec a lo Pobre or poor man's steak. I figure that some of you may need it! ...

Bistec a lo Pobre*
Serves 4
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4 sirloin steaks cut to 1/2 inch thickness
4 cloves garlic, mashed
salt, pepper, cumin and smoked paprika to taste
2 large onions, sliced thinly
4 medium Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and sliced thinly
1 packet Sazon seasoning (optional)
4 tbsp olive oil
4 extra large eggs
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Rub the steaks with the garlic. Season with the salt, pepper, cumin and smoked paprika. Set aside.
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Heat the oil in a large skillet or frying pan. Add the onions and potatoes and sprinkle with salt, pepper and the Sazon, if using. Saute the onions and potatoes over medium to medium-high heat, until very tender, about 10 minutes. I find it helpful to cover the pan for the first several minutes and finish it uncovered. Remove to a serving platter and keep warm.
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In the same pan, sear the steaks on each side and cook them until they are done to your liking. Add a little more oil if you need to. Set them aside with the potatoes and onions. Continue to keep warm.
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Fry the eggs, sunny side up, in a nonstick pan. Leave the yolks soft and runny. Lay one egg on top of each steak.
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Serve all together.
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Enjoy!
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*Note: I am not Peruvian, nor do I profess to be an expert in Peruvian cuisine. I have adapted this recipe based on the version that I have personally eaten and prepared it according to my personal tastes. I make no claims as to the authenticity of this recipe. In fact, I am TELLING you that mine is not the traditional method of preparation. Please do not write and tell me that I am an idiot and know nothing. I view cooking as a CREATIVE process. I am the Queen of my kitchen and I can cook however I f*cking well please.
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If you like this recipe, you might also enjoy:
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Sunday, April 13, 2008

Getting Cheeky with Grouper

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One of best things about food blogging, besides getting to meet other bloggers from all over the world, is discovering all kinds of new foods and great ways to prepare them. In my blog travels I have learned so much. The talent out there is truly humbling!
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One of the things I've been hearing about and seeing a lot of lately are fresh fish cheeks. Cheeks? Fish have cheeks? Yup, apparently they do. The cheek of a fish is the tiny pocket of meat found just below the eye. In many cultures, the cheeks have always been considered the best and most tender meat of the fish. Those in the know consider these tasty little morsels a delicacy. Halibut cheeks are prized in the Pacific Northwest, while grouper cheeks are sought after along the Gulf Coast.
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I'm a little embarrassed to say that, not only had I never eaten fish cheeks before, but until I started following the blogs, I had never seen nor heard of them either. I know, I know, I should be stripped of my Mario Batali garlic slicer. But, I swear on my KitchenAid mixer, I'll try to do better!
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About a week ago, I was scrolling down in my Google Reader, when something caught my attention. Amy over at Nook & Pantry had written a post about Halibut Cheeks on Mashed Yukon Gold Potatoes with Chive Oil. Oooh! I clicked to read it and immediately began to drool all over my keyboard! Those succulent nuggets of crispy, golden cheeks called out to me. Of course, I knew that my chances of ever having an opportunity to actually taste them were pretty slim. Like I said before, I've never seen any kind of fish cheeks around here.
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A few days later, I stopped by a local fish market looking for flounder, and what do you suppose I found? Fish cheeks!!! Grouper cheeks, to be exact! Can you believe it? What luck! I swear, it was kismet! Actually, I kinda, sorta thought for a fleeting moment that maybe this was a gesture from God because of all the sh*tty luck I've been having lately. Anyway, Divine Providence or not, those grouper cheeks were mine, mine, mine! I bought them all.
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I prepared the fish very simply, much like Amy did. I seasoned it with salt, pepper and a dash of garlic powder. Then, I dusted it with a little flour and pan fried the cheeks in a mix of olive oil and butter. I served them over a mound of Israeli cous cous cooked with sauteed shallots, carrots and peas. You could use any combination of vegetables you like. I really like it with zucchini and red onion too. Whatever you have in the fridge is fine.
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The verdict? It was fabulous! Those grouper cheeks were flaky, sweet and buttery, just like I knew they would be. The cous cous was the perfect unassuming little backdrop for them. From now on, I'll definitely be on the lookout for any kind of fish cheeks I can find. And, if I ever do find them again, I'm going to grab them!
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Pan Fried Grouper Cheeks
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1 1/2 lb grouper cheeks
Salt, pepper and garlic powder to taste
1/3 cup flour
3 tbsp butter
3 tbsp olive oil
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Season the fish with salt, pepper and garlic powder. Coat them in flour, patting off the excess. Set aside.
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Heat oil and butter In a large skillet or saute pan over medium-high heat. Pan fry the cheeks on each side until golden brown, about 1-2 minutes per side.
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Israeli Cous Cous with Sauteed Vegetables
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4 tbsp butter, divided
1 large shallot, diced
1 carrot diced
1 cup frozen baby peas (or any vegetable you like, diced)
2 cups dried Israeli cous cous
2 cups water or chicken stock
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Melt 2 tbsp butter in a sauce pan over medium heat. Saute shallots and carrots until softened, about 3-4 minutes. Add the rest of the vegetables and saute until tender.
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Add cous cous and saute with vegetables about 1 minute.
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Pour in water or broth and the rest of the butter. Bring to a boil. When boiling, lower heat, cover and simmer until liquid is absorbed and cous cous is tender, about 20 minutes.
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Fluff and serve.
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Enjoy!
If you like this recipe, be sure to check out:
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