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Archive for July, 2011

When I first decided to blog about food (with an occasional rant from my soapbox about the weight struggle and the cultural craziness that drives us to be thin!) I didn’t know that #1 I’d take on both the Bakers and Cook’s challenge and #2 that I’d end up hating the WordPress blogging format. Sigh.

So let’s start with my complaints about WordPress. Sooo not user friendly! Especially when it comes to posting pictures. What good is a blog about food without fabulous food porn to make readers drool and wish they were eating what I eat? But getting my pictures inserted into my posts is an epic task and every time I sit down at my computer to share with you the delicious things I’ve eaten and carefully photographed for your enjoyment, I end up swearing my brains out and wondering why I’m bothering to do it when the enjoyment is sucked right out by the frustrations of WordPress. I keep thinking I should switch to a Google Blog, which is supposed to be easy blogging for Dummies, but then I can’t seem to find the time to make the move.

Which brings me to the Challenges. It seemed like a great idea to have something spectacular to cook and to bake each month. I love to be creative in the kitchen, right? But I’m finding that it’s almost impossible to do the Cook’s and the Baker’s challenges each month, take some decent photos of the process and then write a blog post about it.Who has that kind of time?  And then, of course, I have to eat what I’ve baked! Sometimes a whole cake, like this month!

Jana of Cherry Tea Cakes was our July Daring Bakers’ host and she challenges us to make Fresh Frasiers inspired by recipes written by Elisabeth M. Prueitt and Chad Robertson in the beautiful cookbook Tartine. Now don’t get me wrong. This challenge looked awesome and I had no doubt that I’d love to have a slice of a gorgeous, rich Fraisier, but I knew if I made one, hubby and I would be eating the whole cake ourselves. I had almost decided to skip it in lieu of fitting into my bathing suit and heading to the beach, but it was a rainy day today and I was jonesing for something sweet so I whipped up this baby using a layer of chocolate cake I made and froze last month. I threw together a quick batch of pastry
cream, folded in whipped cream and a little gelatin, added some fresh oraganic strawberries and bananas, topped with chocolate ganache and a little toasted coconut and Walla! Chocolate Fresh Fruit Fraiser!

All the ingredients

Somehow I think we’ll manageto polish the whole thing off before the weekend is over.

Chocolate Strawberry Fraiser

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July has been a seriously action packed month and it’s only half over! Some of the action, like participation in a 5 day contact improvisation dance Jam,was a blast. Some, like a weekend workshop I facilitated for 25 of my favorite peopleon the topic of Ages and Stages, was a ton of work but extremely rewarding. But some of it simply sucked; dealing with a bed bug infestation and needing to replace our entire electrical circuit box! This was a month where comfort foodwas definitely in order!

Fortunately, this month’s daring cooks challenge totally fit the bill. Steph from Stephfood was our Daring Cooks’ July hostess. Steph challenged us to make homemade noodles without the help of a motorized pasta machine. She provided us with recipes for Spätzle and Fresh Egg Pasta as well as a few delicious sauces to pair our noodles with!

Making the Spätzle was a first for me and while the dough was easy enough to prepare, getting the hang of sliding them into the boiling water
took a few tries but once I got the rhythm of down, it was simple.

Soon I had a big tray of the delicious dumplings just waiting to be fried in butter and fresh bread crumbs. Yum!

The Spätzle was the perfect side dish for a juicy, rare rib-eye.

Spätzle and rib-eye. So delcious!

Then it was time for fresh pasta, my absolute favorite food in the world. Once I invested the 25 bucks in a pasta machine and began making my own pasta I realized I will never look back. With a food processor and this hand cranked pasta roller, making fresh pasta is so easy and so superior in taste to dried, that there’s no excuse to not have fresh almost every time I want the comfort that pasta always brings me.

fresh spinach tagliatelle

I made spinach tagliatelle, which I served simply with butter and fresh grated imported super sharp provolone cheese and a healthy grind of black pepper.

Fresh spinach pasta with sharp provolone

I also made fresh egg tagliatelle with a rich sour cream and chicken stock sauce with portobella mushrooms, vidalia onion and spinach. Served with crispy skinned chicken thighs, this was the ultimate comfort food!

Fresh egg pasta with mushroom, spinach and sour cream sauce

If you’ve never tried making Spätzle, I definitely recommend you give it a try. Here’s a recipe.

2 large eggs
½ cup milk (any style of milk you what, but I believe buttermilk may be traditional)
1½ cups (7½ oz) all-purpose (plain) flour (approximately – have more on hand, in case)
up to 1 tablespoon of herbs and spices (optional – I used herbes de provence)
Mix all the ingredients together, cover with plastic wrap and let rest for 15 minutes. Turn 1/3 of the dough out onto a wet wooden board and slide thin pieces of dough off inot boiling salted water. Cook for 6-7 minutes and then drain, spread flat on a baking sheet to dry before frying in butter and fresh bread crumbs.

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