Thursday, December 29, 2005

Fondue is Fun

For a fun dining experience and and some good food try the "Melting Pot" in Sarasota, Florida. Our Swiss family member approved of the cheese fondue and he is really picky when it comes to the authenticity of his native foods. I was expecting the food to fry in oil, but instead a choice of broths were blended at the table for cooking. The meal began with two different cheese fondues, crusty breads and vegetables. The main course was a choice between meats, seafood, or vegetables, each to be cooked in the appropriate broth. Various dipping sauces came with each entree. For dessert fruits and brownies were dipped in a bubbling mixture of white and milk chocolate, or a dark chocolate fondue. A decent choice of wine and beers were available. Our waitress was new but well trained and versed in what she was serving. The best part is the "slow food experience" with plenty of conversation. This meal can take two hours plus so go to McDonald's if you are in a hurry.
  • Saturday, December 24, 2005

    White Trash Casserole

    We were at a Xmas party and this casserole was served. It was the kind of thing you piled on your paper plate as high as you could. It was such a great junk fix and the more beer you drank the better it was. The hostess who made the dish added green chilis and cumin to give it a Mexican flair. Caution: this recipe includes tater tots. The original recipe comes from the "Southern Culture on the Skids" band website–from the recipe section.

    1 pound hamburger, cooked up with 1 small onion and salt
    1 pound tater tots (still frozen)
    1 can of cream of ___________ soup (mushroom, chicken, asparagus, whatever, condensed, undiluted)
    2 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese (or Velveeta)
    Mix it all up in a casserole dish, saving 1/2 cup cheese/ Velveeta for the top. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes. YUUUUUUUUUUUUMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMYY!!!!

    Mike & Jamie Keller

    Pasta Pure de Cacao

    This is my favorite chocolate lable. I found this in Ollantaytambo, Peru at the El Albergue.
  • Saturday, December 17, 2005

    Rye Dough with Caraway Seeds

    The lighter loaves in the picture are called "Pane tipo Altamura" made with 100% durum wheat flour from the book "The Italian Baker"by Carol Field. The darker loaves are the rye.

    Rye Dough with Caraway Seeds
    From the book“Baking and Pastry “by The Culinary Institute of America, page 135. The recipe, divided by three, is as follows. (makes approximately seven one pound loaves)

    3.9 lb bread flour (high gluten)

    1.3 lb medium rye flour

    .5 oz. instant dry yeast = 3 level tablespoons works well with the cool dough

    1.5 oz. dark brown sugar = 3 tablespoons

    49 fluid oz. cold spring water = 6 cups

    1.75 oz. salt = 2 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons ( up to 3 tablespoons is not to salty )

    1.5 oz. oil = 3 tablespoons ( mild tasting oil oil is good )

    1.5 oz. molasses = 3 tablespoons ( I used “Grandmas” unsulphered )

    1 oz. caraway seed = 4 tablespoons + 1/ 2 teaspoon ( 4 heavy tablespoons )

    Mix all dry ingredients well. Dissolve molasses in a small portion (about 1/2 cup) of the water, warm in the micro wave.

    Add the oil to the warm molasses, stir well and add enough of the cool water so that the temperature does not exceed 100 degrees. Stir into the dry ingredients.

    Add in the remaining cool spring water. Work with a stiff wooden spoon until you have a ragged mass.

    Divide dough in half and place half in work bowl of electric mixer. Allow mixture to work 4 to 5 minutes at slow speed. Repeat with remaining half.

    Lightly flour counter, work both doughs together, and knead for 10 to 12 minutes. Dough will be stiff with just a bit of tackiness.

    Divide dough into two equal halves, and place in two lightly oiled bowls and refrigerate over night.

    Remove one bowl and allow to warm, the dough will begin to rise. Remove the following bowl from the refrigerator one hour after the first bowl.

    Punch down when doubled, this may take 3 hours or more. knead into a ball and divide into one pound pieces. Form round loaves (balls) and set spaced apart on a floured surface for 1 to two hours until doubled and the dough springs back when poked. Note: dough temperature needs to be between 76 F and 80 F to keep the oil fluid in the mixture. Repeat with second batch.

    Cut an X on top of each loaf when fully raised. Bake in a preheated oven starting at 425 F spraying the oven 3 times during the first two minutes then lower temperature to 400 F for a total time of 35 minutes. Cool completely on rack before slicing.

    My Mom Shirley's Linzer Torte

    "I start with:
    1 cup of sugar
    2 sticks of butter
    1 1/2 cups ground almonds
    1 tablespoon cinnamon
    1 teaspoon cloves
    1 teaspoon lemon or lime zest
    2 egg yolks
    2 cups all purpose flour
    1/3 cup of "Hero" brand Swiss raspberry preserves

    First I am going to cream the sugar and butter, next add my almonds.

    {I've used slivered almonds toasted and roasted and also made raw almonds and I can't tell a difference because the raw almonds when they are put in they're going to bake anyway so I can't tell that it makes a whole lot of difference}.

    Next I will add the zest
    Next I will add the four gradually
    Then I'll add the spice, then I'll go on with the flour.

    You'll know the consistancy is right when it is mixed well and its a nice stiff dough.

    So now we take more than half the dough and we press it into the tart pan and we take the rest of the dough and we put it in "Saran Wrap" and I'm going to freeze it for at least fifteen or twenty minutes. Its really tricky to work with because it has to be cut so it has to be frozen.

    Most of the time I use "Hero" Swiss brand raspberry preserves and spread it almost to within a half an inch of the outside. Spread it pretty thin. I use about one third of a cup. I just use an old wine bottle for the rolling pin and I find that works pretty well. I've had all kinds of rolling pins and I like this better than any.

    The dough that is frozen, we're going to roll that out and make a lattice top for the tart which is the tricky part. Its the hardest part. It's a stiff dough yet it doesn't cut and you don't handle it very well. It's hard to handle.

    Its better if it is made a few days before you serve it and it doesn't have to be refridgerated. It really needs to season at room temperature. I find it works better that way.

    You need lots of flour and then I just put the film over it. Roll it out with the pin and take off the film and then cut away the jagged edge and I cut it about oh I don't know a half and inch strips {she slides the long serrated knife blade under the strips to lift them off the board}.

    I make the LInzer Torte because of Urs, my son-in-law that comes from Switzerland. Its his favorite thing and I just got into the habit because he always asks me to make one. I've been practicing probably six years maybe five, a while. and now I can whip one up in no time.

    It's easy, a simple recipe, its simple, but very good".

    Monday, December 12, 2005

    Tropical Fruits in our Kitchen Garden

    Even though we have less than a quarter of an acre, including house and garage, we still find space to plant our banana trees. The banana trees are useful as a privacy screen and give our yard the feel of a distant tropical location. The bonus in all this is of course the bananas. Unlike the grocery store variety, (Cavendish I believe) the fruits we pick are about four inches in length and sweet with a hint of lemony tartness.

    The bottom photograph, pick your spelling, is a chirimoya or cherimoya, and sometimes called a sugar apple. We were introduced to these exotics while dining at a Vietnamese restaurant; a waitress entered the room with a carton of these strange lumpy fruits and graciously gave us two to sample after our dinner. An explanation of how to eat them was also provided. We had never experienced a fruit as exquisitely sweet with the consistency of cooked custard and overtones of cinnamon and vanilla. Needless to say all seeds were saved and carefully folded in a napkin to be planted at the appropriate time. Our first fruit appeared the second year after planting with a plant height of five feet. Now in their third year they are nearly ten feet tall with many more fruit. For more information on this fruit or to order seeds go to:
  • We Tried Fried

    Two turkeys and a sacrificial chicken were brined in salt and herbs. I read that sugar in the brine blackens the final bird leaving them unappealing. This being my first time at deep frying a turkey, I first test fried a chicken.

    The proper setup is in the middle of the yard where the grease can run free. " Merry Greasemas"

    Safety gear: long heavy glove, safety goggles, long pants, nerve tonic.

    Big mistake––cheap candy thermometer.

    The rising of the phoenix, or George Hamilton by the pool. The bronzed bird rises from the pot. All in just 36 minutes.

    final comment: This was great fun and truly delicious, but the oven and the grill produce their own signature tastes.