The Thumbprint

The Mrs. and I got hooked on Whole Food’s Raspberry Thumbprint cookies a while back.  We have been known to buy a container and eat half of them on the way home.  They’re just so soft and chewy that you mindlessly keep shoving them in your mouth because you lack the will power to close the lid.

Since I don’t like to buy things I can make and I could save myself a trip to the grocery store, I figured I should give these a try.

A thumbprint cookie is pretty basic. It’s buttery shortbread and your choice of jam/jelly/preserve that fills a thumbprint shaped indention on top.  Do you know why we have three names for the same fruity topping?  Apparently jelly goes with peanut butter, jam goes with bread (according to the Sound of Music), and a preserve just sounds like I’m not allowed to eat it.

Notice that I said thumbprint cookies are basic and that’s not the same as simple.  A shortbread cookie is primarily butter (lots of it), flour, and sugar.  The tough part is the choice of egg.  Do you do no eggs, whole eggs or just egg yolks… and how many.  I found quite the debate on this topic and it can drastically change the result.  You could be left with a dry crumbly shortbread or a soft chewy one.

After some reading and debate I went with the yolk only approach.

Initial Stage

We used a teaspoon to make the thumbprint impressions and the Mrs. put a thin layer of strawberry jelly down.

Pressed

Jammed

I was trying to avoid any burnt/dark edges and succeeded for the most part.  I wanted that uniform yellowish/white look of perfection.

Final Product

The final product was a little more crumbly than I would have liked but the next day they actually softened up a bit.  I’ll definitely make these again and maybe add another egg yolk.

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Chicken Parm Bake

It was another one of those nights where I hadn’t given dinner much thought but had some standard ingredients on hand.   I always look to Chef John first on these nights and he hasn’t failed me yet.  I figured I’d share the recipe with you.

Hope you like it.Chicken Parm


Chicken Fettuccine Alfredo

One of my favorite dinners to make is chicken fettuccine alfredo.  I found a recipe a while back that has never failed me and I felt like making it again today.  I asked The Mrs. if she supported this decision and she said “I don’t think we have fettuccine noodles.”,  to which I responded “We have flour and eggs right?”.  You see, not having a box of noodles shouldn’t hinder your ability to make pasta.   How do you think they end up in the box?!

This past Christmas I received a pasta press and about 2 months ago I took a class on handmade pasta.  Pasta dough is made up of flour, eggs, salt, and oil.   The ratio of flour to eggs varies widely.  Today I used 1 cup of flour and 2 eggs, a tablespoon of olive oil, and 1/2 tsp of salt.  I had to add a little water to make it come together though.   This made enough pasta for ~3 servings I would say.   I also changed up the flour a bit. I used 1/2 cup of regular All Purpose Flour and 1/2 cup of Semolina Flour and I thought the result was a much sturdier noodle.

Flour and Eggs

I decided to mix this by hand and knead the dough for ~15 minutes into this smooth looking ball.  You then let it sit for ~30 minutes to let the gluten rest.

Pasta Dough

Now it takes some time to knead the dough, press it out, and cut into perfect strips, but what else would I rather do on a Sunday afternoon?  The pressing and cutting are actually done for me thanks to the pasta press, so it was just the kneading that I labored over.

Pressed Flat

Cutting pasta

You’ll want to dust the noodles with flour so they don’t stick together.

Pile of Pasta

The alfredo sauce starts by making a roux, which is butter and flour.  I add garlic, onion power, and italian seasoning as the recipe calls for.  After the flour taste cooks off you add milk, heavy cream, and the cheeses (parmesan and cheddar this time).  This is when it starts to get good.  You see it thicken up and become that beautiful white sauce you know is going to taste so good.

Cheese sauce

You throw in the cooked chicken, tomatoes, and this recipe finishes it with sour cream.  I’ve seen others call for cream cheese at this point which is a great alternative.

Final sauce

I cut this particular recipe in half, which still serves 4, so we have leftovers for tomorrow.  It turned out a little more red than I remember, I must have used more tomato this time.

Yum

To make this dish even more hand made I’ll need to raise the chicken, make the cheese, and grow the tomato.  I’m working on it.


Hand picked blueberry muffins

About a month ago I purchased a motorcycle and I’ve been venturing out on days trips when the weather is nice.  The Mrs. had a baby shower to attend so I decided I’d get out on the open road with the goal of ending up at Hartland Orchard to pick some fruit (~30 miles away).  I had no idea what fruit was in season but I know they always have something growing.   It turned out this month is blueberries!   I picked a pint of large, beautiful berries and paid a measly $3 for it.   I couldn’t help thinking how much I would have paid at a grocery store for way less than a pint.  It’s so much cheaper to get fruit and vegetables straight off the land.

Blueberry muffins are iconic to me for some reason.  You see beautiful looking muffins at bakeries or grocery stores and I can’t figure out how they do it.   Even so, I decided to make a batch and used a recipe provided by Chef John.  I learned that blueberry muffin recipes differ mainly in the dairy ingredient. I found some that called for milk, buttermilk, yogurt, or sour cream.   This one used sour cream and they turned out great.   The added lemon zest gave them a great smell too.

Blueberry Muffins

 

 


Pulled Pork and Coleslaw Sandwiches

On our flight home from Vancouver last month I found a Food Network magazine in the seat back pocket in front of me.  Thank you to the person who forgot it. I promise to make good use of it.

As I flipped through the magazine a “meal” started to form in my mind.  I would make the pulled pork, the original coleslaw, and french bread to make one of my favorites meals:  The Sandwich.

I guess I haven’t posted about my new french bread escapades, but I’ve found that french bread is extremely easy to make and topped with butter is a hard combo to beat.  I felt it would be just the thing to finish off my sandwich.

One Monday morning I threw the pork butt in our slow cooker with chicken stock and a plethora of spices.  On my lunch break, I threw together the coleslaw, which was a first for me.  Half a head of cabbage, carrots, mayo, mustard, and some spices all mixed together.   I also prepped the dough for the french bread (flour, yeast, salt, water) and let it rise throughout the afternoon.

After work I threw the loaves in the oven, removed the pork from the slow cooker and assembled the final result.   Yes, they look amazing, I agree.  They also taste as good as they look.   Next time you order a pulled pork sandwich tell them you want the coleslaw on top, not as a side.  They make a great combo.

The Sandwich


Apple Pancake Bake

On one of my recent trips home to Indiana my mom made an apple pancake bake for Sunday brunch.   I made it a few weeks later for the Mrs. and thought it would be a good recipe to share.  It’s quick and simple to throw together and will please the masses as well. I hope you enjoy it.

Ingredients

4 eggs, well beaten
1 cup milk
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 T. cinnamon
3 tart medium apples, cut in 1/4 inch wedges
4 T. butter

Directions

Beat eggs, milk, salt and flour until smooth.  Let batter rest.  Combine sugar and cinnamon, sprinkle over apples and toss to mix (I used a plastic bag).  Butter generously, 2 (9-inch) pie pans using about 2 tablespoons for each pan.  Divide apples between pans.  Stir batter and pour over apples (about 1 cup to each pan).  Bake in 375F oven 30 to 40 minutes, until golden brown, puffed and set.

Here’s the line up for this recipe.

Ingredients

Cut.
Cut

Season.
Seasoned

Batter.
Battered

Bake.
Baked

Enjoy! Add all the butter, syrup, whip cream, and/or fruit you want!


The Delicate Eclair

A few weeks ago I took another class at Cookology.  It was called “French Pastries” and I had been waiting for months to take this class.  I have wanted to make eclairs for a long time but was nervous to try it on my own.  I find it very helpful to have a seasoned chef (pun intended, get it?) walk me through the process so I can ask questions and watch how it’s done.   Unfortunately I don’t remember all the details to write them out here but I’ll leave you with a few photos that should make you jealous.

The patachou step was the most time intensive and delicate.  You have to use precise measurements, heating and mixing techniques.

Patachou

We then put the dough in a piping bag and piped out all the fingers and/or puffs we could.  These baked for a bit and make the light, fluffy, air filled dough you want for eclairs and cream puffs.

Eclairs Baked

Here’s the final product.  We also made the chocolate icing and the whip cream filling stuffed in the middle.  They met all my expectations and more.

Eclairs