sadly, this post will be lacking the normal picture load that I typically include. This is because I'm a goober and forgot my camera in the dorm when I went to Jay's apartment this weekend. As we live a few hours apart, there was no option to come back and get it. And it was homecoming weekend for the other big college in town. That kinda shuts down the city for the weekend. Seriously. So, instead we bring you our ingredients renditions via PAINT! And this is kinda sad... because... you see.... Jay is a trained draftsmen and I've taken a class that had several lessons in photoshop. Really, we can draw. I think there is something that the computer emits when you open paint that turns you into a 3rd grader. Heck, they'd probably be able to handle it better, I'm sorry, what I just said was an insult to 3rd graders. Ok, onto teh fud.
I was really really craving meat pies, as this is the perfect time of year to make something heavy and warm. Plus I'd not had one since leaving London two years ago. This made me sad. We decided to make them little like, smaller than a traditional english pasty. Plus, that's how I used to make them with my Abuela.
Jay's filling of choice was Portobellos (ew) and tomatoes (yay!) covered in grated Romano (meh) and crumbled blue cheese (double ew). Really his was more like a pastry piece with toppings, like a pie dough pizza, than a pocket like pie, but meh. He basted it off of these: http://junglefrog-cooking.com/chanterelles-tart/ But being that we're on the poor side there were necessary switch ups.
The end result:
There was also the pastry to be dealt with. We decided we wanted to be judged more on our choice of fillings this go around, so we made the dough together and used the same one. Man mine would have come out so much better if I'd just gone with store bought. Not that these were bad. But yeah, you know, somethings it's just so much prettier when you do.
So... The crust to be made. Man. We actually made two different ones. Neither worked out well for us. Not terrible, just not fluffy mazing flakey like we thought. the first was: http://recipes.lovetoknow.com/wiki/Flake_Pastry_No._1_Recipe It was ok. Would have worked better for like a pot pie or something you want a denser kinda crust. The second was: http://junglefrog-cooking.com/volauvents-daring-bakers-september-09/ Man I wish ours came out as nice as hers. They didn't probably because of three things: 1. No real rolling pin, we used a jar of olives. 2. No real space to roll things out nice. stuck in front of the microwave with the stove under one elbow and the sink under the other. 3. We subbed half of the butter for crisco... we ran out of butter and were too lazy to go to the store. Man was THAT a mistake. We didn't use this one the night of the battle for our savory pies but in the morning for apple turnovers. 'Cause I finished it at like 11pm and was no longer hungry or wanting to stay up to bake up more savory pies. Those apple turn overs where pretty awesome. But they had trouble staying crimped up and the syrup ended up every where as did half the butter out of the pastries. Is ok, they were super tastey. But back to the ACTUAL BATTLE!
So my filling of choice was picadillo, which is typically a spiced ground beef dish of the Cuban persuasion. I made this batch with ground turkey instead. It came out about the same. Really tasty. I used a combo of recipes both from Clarita's Cocina, my bible of home cooking. I made a half recipe as this cookbook seems to be designed to feed a small army at every meal. Which really isn't too bad for this one in particular, as it gets exponentially better after a day or so in the fridge or freezer. I can't explain why, but it really is better the next day. Everyone in my family agrees with that.
I don't have a link to the recipe, so I'll do my best to supplement my masterpiece above with precise measures and real words. 1 lb meat -o- choice 1/2 an onion 2 tomatoes 1/2 a green pepper 1 ish cloves of garlic 4 olives 1 - 3.5 oz drained jar of capers 1/2 cup of golden raisins 1 bay leaf 1 teaspoon brown sugar 1 tablespoon wine vinegar 1/4 cup water olive oil to lube up pot, like 2 tablespoons-ish.
Brown the meat in olive oil, then add onions, tomatoes, garlic and green pepper. Cook this for 10 minutes. Then add the rest of the ingredients and cook for at least 45 minutes. Hell you can leave this on the stove like I did for HOURS on low heat.
The ground turkey was a little drier than ground beef like I normally use, so I was a little heavier on the olive oil. But really it came out damn close. This is a HALF recipe.
If you really want, email me at rocking food blog at gee mail and I'll send you the actually scanned page my dad emailed me when I called him asking for the recipe. I'd forgotten my copy in the dorm with the camera... Yeah, I'm a goober. But remember, if you love this recipe I'd really suggest buying the book.
So Pies? Right I was talking about those wasn't I? This delicious picadillo goes right into the pastry and BAM into the oven until the pastry is done. I did mine less like little open top pies and more in shape like raviolis. I did this to keep the steam in the pie and not let the meat dry out in the oven.
Ok, I'm sorry this is going to be super lazy. Mainly because school work/ show work/ life has piled up on me this week and I don't feel like doing a seperate write up for you guys. That and I feel like Jay's dramatics could not be accurately reproduced by me. Again there is an internet poll up! And I love hearing people's opinions. :3 I really really do.
This week features another baking battle. Through a quirk of subconscious thought both Adri and I decided to do pecan related cookies. Her's were pecan pie cookies and mine were pecan bourbon oatmeal cookies.
This night be as much about my battle with my own impatience as it was with Adri.
We begin with toasting the pecans. Easy as cake. 350F for about ten minutes.
Toss with a little salt and 2 tablespoons of butter and set aside.
Here's where impatience gets the best of me. Mix the butter, sugar, and shortening until "light and fluffy". Sure, I can do that. I'm a great, strapping young man. I've cut trails through rugged mountains, felled mighty pines with naught but my double-bit axe. Never mind that the recipe explicitly states that she used a stand mixer because the process takes a long time. Never mind that a culinary inclined friend warned me that, not only was this step important, but that doing it by hand would suck. My testosterone would carry the day!
So, I stir. And stir. And my arm's getting tired, but this doesn't bother me. I have set my Herculean strength to this task and no amount of stirring will deter me. And I stir. What is "light and fluffy" anyway? What scale is it even measured on? I bet it's one of those obscure measures, like the dram..... Stir, stir, stir. Why would anyone want to do this for a living? Stir, stir, stir. Man, this is boring....... I wonder how much longer I have to do this......stir, stir, stir..... WHY HAS THOU FORSAKEN ME LORD? AM I SISYPHUS, DAMNED TO PUSH MY ROCK FOR ALL ETERNITY? WILL MY PEOPLE NEVER REACH THE PROMISED LAND? WHAT DOES LIGHT AND FLUFFY MEAN? MAN, MY ARM HURTS. HAS IT REALLY ONLY BEEN THREE MINUTES? GOOD ENOUGH!
In retrospect, the conscientious application of technology would have saved me considerable woe. Unfortunately, neither Adri nor I have a proper mixer, so I was damned to use the vessel at the end of my arm. Needless to say, we will be investing in a mixer before another baking battle. My own refusal to embrace 19th century technology and the deleterious effect television has had on my attention span would be my undoing.
Mix in the vanilla, an egg, and the bourbon. For the purposes of this challenge I was able to purchase exactly two tablespoons of bourbon from my local booze-monger. Any picture showing me consuming a liquid which may in some passing way resemble bourbon is to be disregarded. It was apple juice, Mom.
Combine your dry ingredients and spices and mix into the batter small portions at a time. This keeps you from having a great big mess all over the apartment. Chop the pecan (I used the worlds smallest food processor for this) and fold in to the batter.
I ran a test batch first, just to see how it went. It didn't. The cookies spread all over the place, were gooey in the middle and burnt on the outside.
No matter. Thermodynamics will save me! Pop the dough in the fridge to chill for a bit. Have another glass of bourb....apple juice while I wait.
Better this time. Still spreading all over the place, but at least they're cooking evenly. Very crunchy. Dad will love these.
So, I'm a bit disappointed with the final result. They're very tasty cookies, but I seem unable to get the desired result. I lay the blame fully at the feet of the liberal media!
Now, before I start my half of this post there are a few things I'd like to point out. 1) Jay DID try to use the tiny food processor (http://lh6.ggpht.com/_k8gkhVPDukI/StuMIpTst6I/AAAAAAAAAU0/mMnqJbLj8sY/s720/DSC_0033.JPG) to get that light and fluffy thing going, which I have done in much larger, much more respectable machines. This baby tried, but nope, was NOT having it. 2) Everyone involved was of drinking age. Just so you know. Not that we do that often or to excess, but apple juice is totally cool. 3) We did not take nearly enough photos this week and WILL do better next week. I promise. 4) It's all my fault this is a day late, I was very tired all Sunday and fell asleep before Jay finished his bit. At like 8 pm. I am my mother.
ANYWAYS! So, My cookies, you say? They were delicious. They were a recipe from a butter box, so they are not by any means fantastic for you. But they do really really taste like tiny pecan pies, and HAVE to be better for you than a big ol' slice of that stuff. They are two different parts, a sugar cookie on the bottom and pie filling on top.
Like Jay I had to cream my butter by hand. Unlike Jay, I knew I was going to be doing this and took it slow. Real slow. In fact let the butter get way way too warm for these cookies to really hold together. The cookie batter itself is just a simple vanilla sugar cookie. Butter, vanilla, brown sugar, egg, flour, baking powder. Now, something else came up this evening that I feel I have to point out. Instead of every other weekend we've done this where we go shopping together to get ingredients, this weekend Jay had to go by himself. I had work to do in the land of pretty things and shiny objects, which sadly took most of the day. Jay looked over both lists not so well and ended up short on brown sugar and got baking SODA instead of baking POWDER. Now this wouldn't be an issue if I were a real person with a real stocked kitchen and had cream of tartar to substitute in. But I'm not, I'm a "college kid" and therefore lack normal rational kitchen things. So Thankfully Katie our guest judge had arrived by that point and I was able to get a ride out to the store while Jay wrestled with his "Light and fluffy". Katie saved the day. Lemme tell you.
I guess I did have a leg up on this. I've made these cookies for several years now, always at Christmas time for family and friends on our massive cookie plates that we give out as gifts. I have played the trails and tribulations game with them. I have learned to out wit the spreading, gooey mess that these can easily turn into. I have learned that mini muffin tins can do so much for you beyond tiny awesome muffins. They can make misbehaving cookies into little pie shaped angels. And that's exactly what I did. The topping for the cookies IS pecan pie filling. Delicious. I didn't get a photo of the precooked topping, but it's very like the cooked look. Only liquid-y and not crispy.
Gaze people! This may be the ONLY time where I have baked/cooked something that resulted in greater beauty than James. I am GOOD at cookies. He really picked the wrong person to battle here.
He conceded and Katie agreed that I had made a superior cookie. He still swears that he will beat me at a baking challenge yet. Katie was an awesome judge for us, but did keep us a good bit distracted, hence the lack of photos taken. She was awesome enough to teach us more about wine and how to pair it with ridiculous things like cookies. I'm always up for a new lesson about things that will make me a better more cultured person. We appologize to everyone at the local sandwich shop that cookies where not furnished on Saturday night! We did NOT forget you! We just didn't remember until after that shift had ended.
Of course, there will be a poll this week, so that you can tell Jay and I how YOU would vote.
So it's Adri again, last seen on the dessert board with her crazy cupcake battle with the boyfriend. As we've decided to make this a weekly thing, this past weekend's battle was Tacos. Good ol' tacos. Staple of the college kid kitchen. Only we both decided individually that we didn't want to do something as plain as ground-beef-with-seasoning-packet tacos. As delicious as those are. No, we wanted to be fancy, so fancy in fact that we'd both chosen the same recipe to make. The same awesomely amazing looking shrimp tacos. This wouldn't fly, we couldn't do the SAME thing. So he caved and looked up something else. And by caved I mean I'd already bought ingredients and he hadn't, so by default, he was the one choosing something new. He ended up choosing an authentic Mexican dish called carintas, which is seasoned roast pork shoulder.
Jay's had to be started WAY WAY before mine did. Actually we was cooking a good 3 hours before I was. I'd barely pulled my shrimp from the freezer and he was browning and chopping and generally being very busy. So, from the start then. Jay bought a whole pork shoulder from teh food shops. He decided he was going to cut it up and butcher it himself at home. Which was good, because it was cheaper that way. Like it was only $3 for a whole 3lb shoulder. That's a lot of good meat. We get home, and he pulls out his kitchen knives and slowly realizes that they're all little dull for this task. Here you can see the first knife used on the right, with the second in his hand:
to this one, where the second knife has been set aside for my super sharp pocket knife (that I have for cutting tie line at work, and was washed very well):
Finally he got it all cut up, as much excess fat and connective stuff removed as possible. The skin and bone he's now got in his freezer waiting for more soup-appropriate weather.
Now time for actually cooking! He grabbed his cast iron skillet, threw in the pork pieces and decided to add in something that the recipe didn't call for, but we knew we'd both love as additions, about half-ish of an onion . And of course the things like the chili powder, cinnamon stick, bay leaves, cumin, a few cloves of garlic, chopped especially tiny, and oil the recipe called for.
After the pork was good and brown, he deglazed the pan with some water to get all that awesome off the bottom and get those spices mixed around and start a great sauce to come. Add the meat back in and use water enough to get it up about 2/3rds over the meat. Yay ready to start the LONG part, as with all good food.
Now we waited. For three hours, set at 350. He checked on it about every half hour to hour to make sure that there was still a bit of water in there so it wouldn't get all dry. Three long hours, filled the apartment with delicious smells. And at the end we were rewarded with:
This is where he could have stopped of course. But no, he had to get back at me for "stealing my[his] recipe!" So you know what he did? Made his own tortillas. So that there'd be no chance in his mind that I could possibly win. 'Cause who would possibly vote for someone who used BOXED taco shells like me? I think he underestimates me. But reguardless he hauled out the lard, flour, baking soda, hot water and salt. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, Lard.
He is very proud of his lard. Only it doesn't come in sticks like butter, it comes in a giant block. So as he only needed a cup, and not a pound of it, I had to reason out for him that he wanted to use half of the giant-blob-block of it. I figured that two sticks of butter is half a pound of butter and also a cup of it. So he went with my logic. And would have been ruined without it, I want to note. Onto the mixing though,
He had to clean out his skillet, as it was the best tortilla cooking devise around. Which is good, as his dough needed to rest. He also realized that he did not own a rolling pin, and needed something to aid him in getting the tortillas the requisite thinness. To which his solutions was a canister of kosher salt.
So here they are all cooked up and delicious. Seriously tasted like the best biscuits ever:
and somewhere in there he made pico de gallo when I wasn't looking. Tomatoes, onion, cilantro, and lime juice. makes a nice crispy fresh yum on lots of things.
Now, my tacos, were rock awesome delicious. So delicious in fact, we ate most of it that night, where as there was plenty of pork leftovers. It was a perfect summer kind of dinner, light and with a bit of a crunch and plenty of flavor but without all the heat of an oven on for three hours. I started out mine with guacamole, which is something I have recently discovered I love. Avocado, mashed up with a little bit of onion, a tomato and some lime juice. Add any spices you'd like. It all works out well.
Next came probably the hardest part of making my tacos: cutting the bacon into tiny pieces. As you can see in this photo i was having quite a time with it.
But once that was done it was easy! I cut up the rest of the ingredients: Chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, onion, cilantro, lime, off with the shrimp tails. Then I fried up the bacon, having to drain it TWICE.
When it was mostly cooked I added the onion, then waited a few minutes and added the shrimps (which i'd covered in cumin, 'cause I loves it so) and peppers.
While these were finishing I took advantage of a warm oven to set in my taco shells bough from the store to make them taste less plasticy gross and more like tortilla chips. Just long enough in the oven to toast them up a hair and get out the preservatives taste.
Then they were done! Just assembly was left, which I discovered afterward that breaking open the shell and treating it more like a tosada was more visually appealing and easier to eat. But they were DARN tasty.
So tasty in fact the little that was left over we added to eggs to make into omelets the next morning. All the flavors worked really really well in eggs. Just saying.
But now, since you read THIS far (yeah, I know, I'm a bit wordy), I have a favor to ask you. Tell me whose tacos you'd prefer? What you think would make the better? What you would have done different? There is even a poll at our blog where you can vote! We're letting the internet decide the winner this go around as there was no one available to be our in house judges. Plus on the blog, you can get his side of the story too.
***EDIT*** Jay has officially won Battle Tacos. I knew I had no chance, but wanted to keep up the bravado anyways. Feel free to keep the comments coming, I swear I read every one. Watch in the next few days for Battle Cookies. I'm beyond flattered that I've gotten this many reads and comments. You all rock my socks. ***/EDIT***
So like all good things do this whole thing started with a flippant comment, in this case:
" I wanna make cupcakes!"
What came from this was a 5 hour ordeal where my boyfriend and I could not agree on a recipe to work from. It was decided that we would see who really could make better cupcakes with his proclamation of:
" I bet I can make a better cupcake than you."
Oh, boy, at that point IT WAS ON. We went to the store, loaded up on all the essentials my poor dorm lacked and got cracking. He decided to go for a staple: Chocolate. My cupcake flavor of choice: Lemon.
We had to share an oven, a cupcake pan and even a mixing bowl because of how tiny and short stocked my kitchen is. Even at one point I was near disaster as I knocked over the remainder of my veggie before I was able to add it to my cupcake batter! Got everywhere, but our judge came to the rescue and brought over more oil for me.
But I knew I was going to win from the start. For one good reason. My magic cupcake imbued spatula. I declared this before any baking even began. I knew it wouldn't let me down.
The boy ended up making fancy frilly chocolate raspberry cupcakes with a fancy chocolate ganache topped with a fresh raspberry and hazelnut cookie piece. Good god where they chocolatey. And rich! Ooooh I was in trouble.
Mixing in, gotta be careful they don't completely fall apart:
Jank-tastic double boiler constructed from two warped pans procured from the dollar store. When you're in college you work with what you've got.
His resulting beauties... Seriously if this were a looks contest I'd have lost right here. Hands down. Look at those decorating skillz!
So time for mine. Strawberry Lemonade Cupcakes. Seriously, how delicious does that sound? Amazingly, let me tell you. These are cupcakes in three parts.
Part one? Strawberries cut up, topped with lemon zest, lemon juice and plenty of sugar. Place in fridge and forget about them.
If you don't own a zester/micrp plane/cheese grater like me I'll tell you a secret: You can still zest a lemon, its just work. Take a sharp paring knife, or something similar you are comfortable with and carefully shave off the yellow bit of the lemon. Then if you get the white pithy stuff still on there, just scrape it off. Cup up real fine and BAM! you have zest!
Part two: Cupcakes. Grab a box-o-cake mix. Add a box-o-instant-puddin' and all the regular fixin's for the cake mix. A friend of mine taught me this amazingly easy way to help keep the cake moist. Especially if you're like mean and accidentally over cooked them. Let'em cool then cut out cone shapes from the top. Do what you want with the bit you cut out, you don't need it.
As we can plainly see, I'm not very artful at this part of the game. It's kinda slap dashed on. Now, grab the stewing strawberries and spoon them into the cakes. take any left over juice and spoon that on too. It's awesome I promise.
Now with both cupcakes completed it was all left to our awesome judge. Who sat back and enjoyed both cupcakes with a big glass of water between them. She deliberated, and innumerated how each could be improved. Mine with zest in the cake and his with a more powerful raspberry flavor somehow, maybe copying my hallow out technique to add jam before ganache. Ultimately? Mine won. Citing that you can definitely taste all of the flavors going on and easily identify them.
Awesome! Yay! Now holy-crud we've got way too many cupcakes that NEED to be eaten tonight! With the addition of the strawberry juice the cakes would fall apart before morning or get gross soggy. We needed to get rid of them and fast. Plus none of us wanted to eat another sugary thing, after sampling batters, frosting, ganache, and all else. So what does one do on a college campus? Walk to the nearest late night sub shop and hand out as many as you can along the way.
We made their night and were informed that we would be expected back next Saturday night, or whenever we needed such baking questions answered.
So now, I have a question for you... If my boy and I were to do this sort of thing every weekend and post commentary, photos and what not would anyone be interested in reading it? If you would: http://saturdaynightfights.blogspot.com/ That's got all these photos plus more as well as an actual break down of ingredients and processes for those who'd want it. Or I can re-post them here. What ever everyone wants.
I had to share though. Thanks for reading this far down!
I decided that this Christmas is to be a hand made Christmas. :3 I'm going to do my best to make everything I can, and if I have to buy I'll see if I can't buy handmade. But this is the first completed project: Handkerchiefs for my Poppop
Three made out of a simple creamy broad cloth, serged, turned under and contrast zigzagged then had embroidered with his first initial. :3 The zigzagging could have been better, but over all I'm quite pleased. I followed Grogain's Tutorial (http://grosgrainfabulous.blogspot.com/2008/10/monogrammed-handkerchief-surprise.html) in a vague sense on the handkercheifs, and more closely on the case. But like she says, the case is a tad small...
But over all they should be a hit I think. :3 He uses handkerchiefs a lot, and these can be thrown in the washer and dryer like anything else.
This is the hat of the legendary hero of Jaynestown from Firefly. I made this for a good friend of mine, who decided that he needed a new Jayne hat when he lost his old one.
Lookit those loverly colors!
here you can see that my earflaps are pointier than the patterns, but I like them better.
...and ignore the model. I'm being silly. Obviously he's bigger than I, as I am a fairly small girl. I used the pattern found here after much googling: http://knitwithkt.blogspot.com/2007/11/jayne-hat.html with these changes to the ear flaps: k, SSK, k4. K2tog, K p, p2tog, p2, p2tog, p k, ssk, k2tog, k p2tog, p2tog BO I used five size 10 dpts holding the strand double. One skein each of Vanna's Choice by Lion Brand in Honey, Rust and Cranberry going top down. I've about a half a skein left of the first two and most of the skein of cranberry. Which is exciting, as I love the color.
So you know when you've made it from girl to young woman when you stop running holes through the knees of your jeans and instead start getting them where your thighs rub while walking. That is what happened to these jeans. They were good to me, so i decided instead of throwing them out to make them into something useful. and VOILA! An overnight bag appears!
is a monstrosity of a bag. I had the fabric for a while and just couldn't decide what to do with it. I think this works quite nicely.
It looks deceivingly small all empty like that.... sadly i do not have a picture of it full.
The back! All useful jeans pockets still accessible. I just made bag as though i was making a skirt from the old jeans and put a squared off bag bottom on it.
and a lesson as to why you should always use a denim needle with a project like this: yep, that's 5 needles and 2 pins... and by the end of that day i'd broken all of the needles in the house.
My sister saw this yarn and almost died. She had to have it. The hitch is... she can't knit. But I can. So, over the past week in my free time I've made her the Drop Stitch Scarf and the Ear-warmer sans flowers from S'n'B Nation. I had to do a bit of guess work with the ear-warmer because the yarn was so very different from the suggested. But I think it came out alright. She loves them, so it really doesn't matter.
on a chair
our oh-so-pretty pajama'd model!
the casualties of the battle. Honestly, that's all I have left.
These will be perfect for our oh-so-cold Floridian winters.
I think I may have posted this in the wrong section. So now I've moved it over here. I hope you all enjoy. Comments and critics welcome and encouraged! I finally made myself a book purse that I've seen so many of lately. It's a cute green and cream color. I picked up the book at Goodwill and the fabric on the remnant rack at Wally World. I haven't decided if I want the strap in it or to keep it a clutch.
How it is now, colors are pretty accurate.
The fabric that I am in love with.
With handle possibility, not sure if I like it though.
I finally made myself a book purse that I've seen so many of lately. It's a cute green and cream color. I picked up the book at Goodwill and the fabric on the remnant rack at Wally World. I haven't decided if I want the strap in it or to keep it a clutch.
How it is now, colors are pretty accurate.
The fabric that I am in love with.
With handle possibility, not sure if I like it though.