Oh Snap! Popovers

Have you ever been gifted something and didn’t know what to do with it? This was true for me with this popover pan.

We moved our belongings out of the house into the garage this past November when we had ALL of our hardwood floors refinished before Christmas. I was in a tossing and keeping mode I was in I stared at this popover pan – Stay? or Go!

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Well it must be used before any decision can be made, right? I have never eaten a popover before. I must try it out.

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I read two recipes: the one on the popover pan box and Alton Brown’s Good Eats 3 cookbook. The ingredients were simple eggs, milk, flour, salt and butter and toss in the the blender. I love simple, so how hard could it be?

I was also curious to see how this whole pop-up event was going to transpire in the oven so I sat and watch the event through the oven window.

POP OVER recipe (from Progressive International)

Preheat over and Pan 450 degrees F (makes 5-6 popovers)

Ingredients: 1 C milk, 1 C flour, 3 eggs, 2 tsp oil, 1/2 tsp salt

Combine all ingredients in blender and blend on high until bubbles form. Fill the preheated popover tins (BNSP-100) 1/2 to 3/4 full depending on how large you want your rolls to be. Bake 20 minutes at 425 degrees F, reduce heat, bake an additional 20 minutes at 350 degrees F.

Patty’s Popover points:

1.The key to popovers is heating the pan. If you don’t preheat the pan you will have doughy denseness and no pop. Also brush the sides with butter or oil so the side of the roll does not stick to the pan.

The batter will get crispy first on the outside next to the tubes in the pan and rise first. Then the batter in the center will rise later and provide the pop and leave the hole (see next point).

2.Yes there is a hole in the center. These rolls are good for putting an egg in for breakfast or a chicken salad for lunch. What they are best used and known for is a hearty beef meal with gravy and mashed potatoes. Mmmmmmm. Me, I like butter and jelly.

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3.The difference between the recipe above and AB Good Eats 3 version is amount of flour and eggs he used; and he used butter. No offense AB, but I liked the side of the box recipe better, save the oil. The amount was just right for filling all six tubes. I like even numbers.

4. As you can see below, the tubes were not evenly filled so the popovers on the bottom of the picture did not rise as high as the ones at the top of the picture. Best to use a measuring cup – probably 1/2 cup – so as to not have different sized rolls.

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5. It is plain to see that popovers are puffy and pretty cool. I was a little amazed. My husband liked them. I don’t think he had ever had one before. Most references say that they are easier to make than dinner rolls for a nice meal planned. The eggs give them substance compared to a dinner roll.

I made popovers six times in a span of two weeks. I sat on the floor watching them rise at 10:00 pm at night and I made the mistake of not preheating the pan once. Big mistake. There was no pop in the over. Tee hee.

6. Some recipes I researched used a regular muffin pan to make popovers. They are just not as tall as these. Should I keep the pan? or toss it? I can’t decide, yet.

When you have a few ingredients, then technique is the key. It’s all in the preparation to make your popover the star.

Sneak zucchini onto your neighbors porch

Today is my birthday and a National Holiday:  Sneak zucchini onto your neighbor’s porch day!

I have my share of zucchini in the garden and with vacation coming, my neighbors may be the recipient of some of these squash babies.

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If you gifted with a few zucchini – here are some new recipes I have tried this season.

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Chocolate Zucchini cake

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Crust-less Summer Zucchini Pie

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Zucchini Fritters

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Quinoa-Rice salad with cherries and feta adapted from the Weight Watchers July/August 2016 edition.

Patty’s Points

1. The all recipes! website is a great resource to look for recipes for the home cook. AND always read the reviews by the readers to see the pitfalls and triumphs of the recipe.

2. Here are a few cookbooks to sample:

The Inspired by Zucchini Cookbook

Chocolate & Zucchini: Le Livre

The Classic Zucchini Cookbook

3.The Chocolate Zucchini Cake is a winner! It is a great cake to make and store in the freezer and pull out for a potluck or picnic. Chocolate Cheese Frosting is an awesome addition to this cake. Super!

4.Zucchini can be used to substitute for pickles in relishes – made sweet or dill – and canned. I tried a recipe through the Ball Canning Cookbook summer and they were awesome as hot dog condiments.

5. Invest in a food processor with a shredder. Place the zucchini in a colander/strainer to get the water content out before cooking with it.

Get on with it now. It’s Zucchini Day!

Peppermint Patty Ice Cream

At 6:34 pm on 6/20/2016, the Summer Solstice officially begins.

Oh boy has it been hot the past two weekends!  So happy we made the investment in that swamp cooler six years ago. We’ve already had two porch parties since Memorial Day, but now we are just kicking back and enjoying the cool house and the fruits of our garden.

We’ve had a mint plant for a few years. I mostly used the leaves for garnish, to steep in hot water or in cold water. But I have discovered a few more recipes here and there to make the mint the star of the recipe.

mint plant

This is one of our mint plants. It has behaved itself and not spread out like crazy as mint can do. We have another mint plant that did go wild last year. My husband ripped it out but the little bug-gar keeps sprouting little offspring. They are similar plants but the leaves are distinctly different.  I am wondering if this well-behaved mint plant is spearmint flavored and the wild mint plant, peppermint in flavor. Hmmmm?

I was dreaming of ice cream in this heat so I perused my recipe books. After looking them over and reading reviews about type of ice cream, I decided to combine two recipes into one from the Cuisinart recipe booklet and from Alton Brown’s Good Eats 2: The Middle Years cookbook.

cream and mint

Ingredients:

3 cups half and half

1 cup heavy cream

8 large egg yolks

9 oz sugar

large bunch of mint leaves

3-6 oz of peppermint patties candy coarsely chopped

1 tsp vanilla

Directions:

Combine the half and half and cream in a saucepan and bring to simmer over medium heat stirring occasionally. Then remove from heat and add the mint leaves allowing them to steep for 20-30 minutes.

steeping the leaves

Whisk the egg yolks in a large mixing bowl until they lighten in color, then add in the sugar and mix until smooth.

Remove or strain the cream and mint mixture. Then temper the egg yolk and sugar mixture by ladling 1/3 of the cream mixture into the bowl whisking constantly. Then place the tempered cream and egg yolk mixture back into the saucepan. Cook over low heat, stirring frequently until the custard thickens to coat the back of a spoon or a temp of 170-175 degrees F.

heating the mixture to 170 degrees F

Transfer the custard into a new bowl or wash out the egg yolk bowl and then add the vanilla and cool at room temperature for 30 minutes. Cover and refrigerate for 8-10 hours (or overnight)

fresh from the churn

Pour the mixture into the prepped ice cream maker then add the candy and process for 20 minutes.

creamy mint chip ice-cream

Serve as soft serve and place into a container to freeze and hard for 3-4 hours.

Patty’s Points:

1.I like the frozen custard or French-style type of ice cream which must contain 1.4 percent egg yolk solids to meet that definition.

2.You can substitute 1 teaspoon of peppermint oil instead of mint leaves but you would add it after the tempering of the egg yolks and cream mixture and omit the vanilla.

3.You can substitute the peppermint patties with mint chocolate chips or with good shaved dark chocolate and white chocolate.

4.I LOVE my new find the Tovolo Glide-a-scoop Ice cream container

Tevolo

It has two layers, Inner for the ice cream and Outer to insulate it from over-freezing and protecting it from forming ice crystals
Two parts of Tevolo

It also is easy to store, taking up less space than traditional ice cream containers. It cost about $15.00 and I had a 10% off coupon which was nice.

storing the ice-cream

5. The mint had more of a spearmint taste to it and it gave the cream a slight green color. I like it but I like peppermint better. I’ll have to try the wild mints leaves to see if it has more of a peppermint flavor. You could add a few drops of green food coloring to get the full color experience of mint.

6.Some of the recipes called for more cream (3 cups) and whole milk        (1 1/2 cups) or varying amounts of cream 2 cups half and half to 1 cup cream. Use whatever combo you wish for your taste.

7. Another option would be to use the peppermint oil 1 tsp and add crushed peppermint candies or candy canes and make it festive for the Christmas holidays.

Welcome Summer – We’re so glad you are here!

I’m going to stay inside where it is cool.

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Springing Forward

Spring is time for growth and renewal. But the world and the weather have been volatile this past week as we moved into this new season.

Growth is painful. I’d be lying if I didn’t say I’ve been in a funk for the last year. I left one job and took another, my father died, our daughter married, our son moved home to the US, and my house is a complete mess. BUT through all of this turmoil and upheavel, I have continued to cook.

I may print some of my cooking adventures out to cleanse myself, but not all at once. You as the reader won’t appreciate my purging, only I would.

So here’s to spring, new growth, moving on and putting away the Christmas decorations this Easter weekend.

Syrian Semolina and Nut Cake

I am a big fan of The Splendid Table. It is an American Public Media radio broadcast that can also be found on most podcast libraries. Lynn Rosetto Kasper has the best radio voice ever! I could listen to her all day. She is charming to her guests and to us, her listeners. Syrian Semolina and Nut Cake from the author Anissa Helou from her cookbook Sweet Middle East was featured last month. She describes it as a “delectable syrupy sponge cake topped with mixed nuts.”

I was drawn to the nuts as ingredients in the recipe. I have a stash of nuts in the freezer and my husband has been noshing on them lately.  The rest of the ingredients I did not have in my pantry: semolina, baker’s sugar, orange blossom water and rose water. I was not in a mood to go out searching store to store for these ingredients, so I went online.  King Arthur Flour had everything I needed in one location. What a wonderful website and a great reference for baking.

Go to The Splendid Table website for the recipe  and you will see that it is a pretty easy cake to put together. Flour, butter, sugar, yogurt, baking soda and of course NUTS.

The fragrant sugar syrup on the other hand was challenging. The orange blossom and rose water were extremely fragrant and seemed to be competing with each other as flavors. Once they settled down it was better.

Patty’s Points:

1.Timing. The cake has to set for 3 hours before baking, so plan accordingly.

2.Syrup. Even though the author recommends putting the syrup on the cake for it to soak in, I do not recommend doing that. The syrup was overpoweringly sweet and fragrant, just as the author stated. It was so sweet that it took away from the flavor of the cake and the nuts.

It is also quite possible that I overcooked the syrup and it wasn’t the proper consistency to soak into the cake. My husband and I liked the cake, but the syrup made the cake too sweet. I would recommend serving the cake, plain, with the syrup on the side and maybe with some plain or vanilla yogurt as a dollop.

3.Ingredients. Simple to make with complex ingredients. I had never purchased these ingredients before, ever. Semolina flour is used with breads or dough, like pizza, to give them extra crunch. Baker’s sugar is very fine. I used to shrug it off when I saw it in recipes and made my own by processing regular sugar. But this had such a lovely quality of fineness that I’ll think differently about it in the future.

Orange blossom water and rose water.  I’d heard of rose water but never orange blossom water. I actually saw an episode of Good Eats with Alton Brown where he made rose water from chemical-free roses at home. This web post from Pam in the Garden follows the Alton Brown step-by-step process of making rose water. Orange blossom water and rose water I have seen as ingredients for baklava, but I’ve never had them on hand before. The uses for the fragrant waters go beyond food and are beneficial to skin and health enhancers.

4.Nuts. Despite the recipe directions to add the nuts prior to baking, they run the risk of burning. I would recommend adding them halfway through the baking time to prevent the char.

We had a blizzard hit here two days ago and I’ve been sick in bed all week so writing this blog helped me leap out of the doldrums. Thanks for reading. Be fearless and keep cooking.

 

Garden Goodness

 Where have I been the past eight months? I’ve been absorbed in so many things I’m even overwhelmed to describe it.  Summer ends officially today. What a bumper crop we’ve had this year in our backyard garden.

These are the cherry tomatoes called the “Sweet 100” Lycopersicum esculentum.

cherry tomatoes

The crop later in the season was much sweeter, then even one month ago.

T  green cherry tomatoes

One of my favorite recipe to make with cherry tomatoes is Lidia Bastianich’s Anna’s Spaghetti and Pesto Trapanese (Pesto alla Anna).  It is an interesting pesto that I thought of immediately today when I came home from work and saw a bowl of the cherry tomatoes that my dear husband (dh) picked. Inspired, I went to the garden to pick more ingredients.

Basil

This is my modest basil plant that I “baby” in a pot in a bright spot that stays away from the hot direct sun.

I blended all the ingredients (sans spaghetti and parmesan) in my food processor

the sauce

It makes this luscious pesto with tomatoes, basil, almonds, salt, and olive oil.

Lidia Bastianich is a master of Italian cooking so I  trust her recipes implicitly.

To make this recipe even more garden oriented, I used zucchini in place of the pasta to make it low carb.

my beautiful fresh Italian dish

Fresh picked today

Patty’s Points:

1.The recipe for the pesto itself uses only 1/2 teaspoon of salt. It is misleading how the recipe calls for

1 1/2 TBSP of salt – that is really for pasta water. This is fresh, fresh, garden fresh sauce.

2. One weekend I shredded and chopped ten monster zucchini, and spiralized five regular sized zucchini for “spaghetti”.  It was a big zucchini summer. The monster zucchini are best for shredding or chopping, removing the seeds prior to use.  Make sure the squash are not too soft or too hard, but instead firm.

zucchini quiche

Zucchini-Cheesy Quiche

savory zucchini cakes

Savory Zucchini Cakes

chocolate zucchini bread

Chocolate Chip Zucchini Bread

zucchini casserole

Zucchini Casserole

zesty zucchini relish prep

Zesty Zucchini Relish

My famous chocolate zucchini cake never got it’s picture taken 😦  I’ve made six and gave away at least five.

3. The moral of the story, only plant in your garden what you can reasonably process or eat or give away. It is reasonable to plant in that way. Being the daughter of parents who lived through the Great Depression, I cringe thinking of food waste.  I’ll try to hold back the dh next year, but he loves being the happy farmer; planting until a jungle of plants appear.

This is only a small portion of the bumper crops

More to come now that my organizational skills have returned. Stay tuned.

Ahhhhh Italy

Italy is Eataly

We traveled to Italy in October. The food was fabulous and the scenery was spectacular.

Bay of Fegina Monterosso del Mare

The Cinque Terre (the five lands) was our favorite destination. Monterosso del Mare has the most beautiful beach of the five towns on the Italian Riviera. We stayed at the Hotel Pasquale, a small family-run hotel in the heart of this ancient village overlooking the Liguorian Sea.

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We were treated to a homemade Italian meal by Felicita, daughter of the original owners, and current co-owner with her husband and children.

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A personal demonstration of homemade pesto using a mortar and pestle.

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 The pesto was very fresh and bright.

lasagne al forno

Lasagne al Forno. Can you believe the amount of pesto atop?

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Our fellow travelers.

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Felicita and me.

The Fearless Cooking Club members gathered and made some of the Italian recipes. Barb and Cindy had been to Europe this past summer and stopped into Italy also.

Fearless Cooker w/fancy oven mitts

We tried our hand at mortar and pestle pesto.

Porchetta

Barb and Joe made this beautiful porchetta, they ate in Italy. It was a WOW!

mortar and pestle

The one in the foreground is marble with ribbed inner edges of the bowl.

presto pesto

Presto Pesto!

Felicita’s Pesto Sauce Recipe

Two servings pesto sauce

Ingredients

  • 80 Basil leaves
  • 1 garlic close
  • 2 TBSP pine nuts
  • Parmesan cheese grated

Directions

Only wash basil leaves and dry on the tea towel.  Add 1 garlic close. Grind. Add 2 TBSP pine nuts. Grind. Mis with two heaping tablespoon parmesan cheese grated. Add olive oil until creamy consistency.  Have a good meal! Felicita.

Patty’s Points

1. Felicita’s pesto had a very loose consistency more like a sauce then a thick paste. We think it had to do with the moisture in the leaves from being so close to the sea nearby. We live in dry Colorado so our pesto was more like a paste.

2. Her recipe differs from most pestos I’ve made. She added no salt and very little garlic. You are tasting the freshness of the basil.

3. Our tour guide, Jamie, a Brit who has a home in Lucca, was quite the foodie. He advised us about only buying pine nuts from Italy and to stay away from the ones from China. My olive oil was from Italy but the pine nuts I found were from Spain. Sorry Jamie.

4. We used two different types of olive oils in each pesto recipe we made. We noticed a big difference in the taste from the olive oils. I pays to taste your olive oil and find one you like. Have you heard of the bug that has destroyed many of the olives in Italy? Olive oil prices will rise over the next year. Eeek!

5. We had two mortar bowls that were quite different. One had ridges on the bowl lining and one without. The combination of the pestle grinding and ridges in the bowl made the grinding process go quickly.

6. You’ll notice in the recipe it calls for 80 leaves of basil. If you have really large leaves then count it as two leaves. The amount of leaves accounts for the pure taste of the basil also.

7. Eataly.com is a global company that promotes Italian products worldwide. When you go to Italy you see  authentic products in local towns. But when you are at home you don’t have access to those authentic products. Eataly.com is one way to find specialty pastas and probably pine nuts too! I saw a pasta in Monterosso that I should have bought. It looked like a communion wafer. When we went out to dinner that night, one of our fellow travelers had that pasta Croxetti. It is specifically made in the the Liguorian areas of Italy. It would take awhile for me to hunt it down and see if it exists in the Italian sections of my city.  So I would have to either make it or buy it through Eataly.com.

8. Lastly, Jamie our guide, said that when we all go home and try to recreate the Italian food, it won’t taste the same. I have to agree. The ingredients may be basil, olives, pine nuts, oranges, or lemons but they are grown in a different location of the world with different sun, water, soil, bugs, and weather conditions.

9. By the way, the lasagne al forno was homemade lasagne pasta sheets with a parmesan besciamella sauce through each layer. With that substantial amount of pesto atop it melted in my mouth. Delizioso! I could never recreate that sensation ever again at home.

10. Lastly, according to Felicita, the true term pesto only refers to the basil, olive oil, parmesan cheese and nuts (pine, walnuts) combination.

Until we meet again Italy! Arrivederci!