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Sunday, November 30, 2008

 

Food For Thought :: Waiter Rant

so, it's our first end-of-the-month review! and the first book we all chose was WAITER RANT by
steve dublanica to check the blogroll and read other Book Club posts, go here.

i have to say, i really enjoyed this book. it was, in large part, all i had hoped it would be. it was funny, sorta cynical, but with a heart underlying it that made me feel like i was reading about someone's real life and not just, unrelated, "rants."

the book is filled with hilarious bits about crazy, cranky customers, which, having been in food service in a touristy, upper-crust realm, i could relate to. and while there were times that i felt like, "hey waiters can be cranky and nasty without provocation, you know!" i also felt like he conceded that there were jerky waiters out there, too. (and don't get me started on the food spitting.)

the aspect of the book that i felt a little. . . frustrated with is the whole "break up" he underwent with The Bistro and its' staff. i understood that it was a co-dependent relationship and one that served as illustration of the writer's self-esteem issues and lack of direction in life, but i didn't need all the melodrama surrounding his leaving. he was acting like he'd just been freed from a wrongful prison sentence or something. it was just a job, dude! and there's thousands of other/better restaurants out there to work at.

i got frustrated with him. i'm supposed to feel sorry for him and his awful situation, but, i have little patience for that. if it sucks, get out of it. stop whining. and i realize that it's harsh in a way. it's not that easy for some people to up and make a change.

i also realize that it's a good reflection of how i treat myself. i'm really hard on myself in the same way. and i know full well how hard it is to make real change when your self-worth is tied up in the decision. so, who am i to judge.

overall, i'm really glad we chose it and it was a fun read. and that's my rant on Waiter Rant. . . did anyone else perceive his anger and language to escalate througout the book. i felt like, "he sure is swearing a lot all of a sudden!" it sorta crept up on me. i felt a little like he was having a personality change or something. but maybe that's what being at The Bistro did to him!

on to the next book. i can't wait to find out what it is. . .

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Sunday, November 23, 2008

 

Thanksgiving Dessert :: Chocolate Peanut Butter Mousse Tart


if you are looking for a dessert to make this Thanksgiving and you need something for the non-fruit fans in your family. oh, do i have a dessert for you.

it's no secret that i heart Rose Levy Beranbaum. her Cake Bible is one of my favorite books as is her Pie and Pastry Bible although i do not yet own it. so, i got it out from the library and began to peruse. i needed a great dessert for Thanksgiving I. this was a holiday dinner that we hosted today in honor of my kids' great-grandfather. we will not see him for actual Thanksgiving or Christmas, so we had a dinner with him today. and i needed a killer dessert. i always make something chocolately at the holidays. mostly, i do this for the hubby. he doesn't eat fruit desserts of any kind. so it's a challenge (and a fun one) to come up with something new. his favorite combo is chocolate peanut butter, so when i flipped to Rose's Chocolate Peanut Butter Mousse Tart, i knew i had to look no further.


she does this tart with a peanut butter cookie crust that is moist and nutty without being too sweet. the PB mousse is done with cream cheese and lightly whipped cream. it's light, airy and also, not too sweet. the chocolate ganache features a milk/semi combot that works incredibley well. shiny top. perfect chocolate to peanut butter combo.

we loved it.

here's how it's done.

CHOCOLATE PEANUT BUTTER MOUSSE TART
From Rose Levy Beranbaum’s Pie and Pastry Bible

Sweet Peanut Butter Cookie Tart Crust
Makes one 9.5 x 1 inch tart, or 8-10 four inch tartlets

Ingredients

1/2 cup Bleached All-Purpose Flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/16 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
2 tablespoons sugar, preferably superfine
4 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
1/2 cup smooth peanut butter, preferably Jif, at room temperature
1/2 large egg (beat before measuring)
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract.

Into a small bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Whisk to combine well.

In a food processor, with the metal blade, process the sugars for several minutes or until very fine. With the motor running, add the butter cubes. Add the peanut butter and process until very smooth and creamy, about 10 seconds. With the motor running, add the egg and vanilla extract and process until incorporated, scraping the sides of the bowl. Add the flour mixture and pulse until just incorporated.

Scrape the dough into a bowl and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or overnight.

Press dough evenly into pan. (It is a little more challenging, but faster and neater, to roll out between two sheets of plastic wrap to about into an 11.5 inches in diameter. Remove one piece of plastic and gently invert the dough into the pan, easing the border into the sides of the pan so that the sharp top doesn't cut it off, use the remaining plastic wrap to press it evenly into the pan, pressing it well agains the sides. If the dough softens, refrigerate it until the wrap can be removed easily.) Cover it with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour.

Bake the shell without weights, in a preheated 375 degree oven for 10-12 minutes or until golden. It will puff at first and then settle down toward the end of baking. The sides will be soft, but spring back when touched gently with a finger.

Cool on wire rack.

Peanut Butter Mousse

Ingredients

7 tablespoons cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup peanut butter, preferably Jif, at room temperature
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3/4 liquid cup heavy cream, softly whipped

In a mixer bowl, preferably with the whisk beater, beat the cream cheese, peanut butter, and sugar until uniform in color. On low speed, beat in the vanilla. Beat in 1/4 cup of the whipped cream just until incorporated. With a large rubber spatula, fold in the rest of the whipped cream until blended but still airy. Scrape the mousse into the prepared tart shell and smooth the surface so that it is level. Refrigerate the tart while preparing the ganache.

Milk Chocolate Ganache Topping

Ingredients

3 ounces milk chocolate (I used Starbucks)
2 ounces bittersweet chocolate (I used Callebaut)
1/3 liquid cup heavy cream
1/8 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Make chocolate very small. Bring the cream to a boil. Pour cream over chocolate, let sit for a minute, then stir until emulsified. Add vanilla. Let cool to room temperature.

Pour the ganache over the peanut butter mousse in a circular motion, so that it does not land too heavily on any one spot and cause a depression.


With a small metal spatula, start by spreading the ganache to the edges of the pastry, then spread it evenly to cover the entire surface. Refrigerate the tart for at least 2 hours to set.

Store at room temperature up to 1 day, refrigerated up to 5 days, frozen up to 3 months. (Wrap after freezing to preserve shiny coating on ganache).

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Wednesday, November 19, 2008

 

she's walking!

this picture is blurry and sorta odd, but there is something about it that i love. there are so many moments that we share like this. i'm always trying to get my lips on her. and she laughs at my silliness. what both of my kids don't seem to understand is that a momma can't help it with the kisses. i cannot. help. myself. i need to put my lips on the baby.

but the sad truth is. she is so soon to be my toddler. on monday, my birthday (37) and hers (14 mos.) she took her first steps. and today she took 8-10 steps on her own and she did it about 5 times. so my baby is growing up. and it's awesome. i'm so proud of her and more importantly she's so proud of herself. she gets this biiiiiig grin on her face. like the one in this picture.

you go, girl. i'm so excited for you!

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Monday, November 17, 2008

 

bagels, everyone, bagels!


there are a few things in this world that are just so far better tasting when they are homemade that you will sit and exclaim as you eat that you can't believe it could be so good.

bagels are one of those foods. i was intimidated by the idea for a long time, but there came a point where i wanted to start venturing into the world of bread making. and so, my days of bageling were born.

it all stared back in Seattle. we knew a family who would have bagels for dinner. they called it (oddly enough) bagel night. so, one time when we were invited over, i made the bagels myself. and they rocked. that was many years ago. and while i haven't made bagels that many times, since i do feel i am just now getting the hang of it.

there's a few steps and it can look like a lot of instructions, but it's all very easy stuff. just takes a bit of time. but, like i tried to say at the beginning of this post. . . it's so so very worth it. homemade bagels are just a whole 'nother league from even your local bakery. i swear.

here's the recipe i use:
BASIC BAGELS

INGREDIENTS:
2 cups water, warm to the touch
1 tbs. active dry yeast
4 tbs. barley malt syrup
2 tsp. salt
5 cups bread flour
3 quarts water
Toppings - poppy seeds, sesame seeds, dehydrated or minced garlic or onion
Yellow cornmeal

INSTRUCTIONS:
1. In a large bowl, combine warm water and yeast and stir until dissolved. Add 2 tbs. of barley malt syrup, and salt. Mix until all ingredients are thoroughly blended.

2. Add bread flour. Mix until ingredients are blended.

3. Place dough on a lightly floured surface and begin to knead it. If the dough is sticky, add very small amounts of bread flour as necessary. It’s better to add less than more. To be sure you don’t add too much at a time, dip your hands in the flour, shake off the excess, and knead. Repeat as necessary. Knead the dough vigorously for 12 minutes.

4. When finished, use a sharp knife to cut the dough into twelve equal parts.

5. Take a section of dough and roll it in your palms to make a ball. Poke your thumbs thru the center and work them around to make a hole a bit larger than the size of a quarter. Repeat with remaining eleven sections. Place the formed bagels on a floured surface about 2 inches apart. Be sure there are no drafts directly on them.

6. Cover them with a clean dish towel and let them rise 25 minutes.

7. Meanwhile, add the remaining 2 tablespoons barley malt syrup to 3 quarts water in a large pot, and bring to a boil. Preheat the oven to 450. Prepare your cookie sheet or pan by lightly sprinkling it with corn meal.

8. At the end of 25 min., you’re ready to place your bagels in the boiling water, four bagels at a time. This stage is called kettling. The perfect bagel, when kettled, should quickly sink to the bottom of the pot of boiling water and rise immediateiy. Boil for about 4 minutes, turning the bagels over frequently with a slotted spoon. If your bagels don't sink to the bottom when you first put them in the pot, don't worry. However, if they sink to the bottom and lie there, wait till they rise to the top (and they will) before timing the 4 mins.

9. After kettling, remove the bagels from the water with a slotted spoon, allowing any excess water to drain off. Place them close together with edges touching on your cornmeal prepared cookie sheet or pan. Liberally sprinkle the bagels with your favorite toppings.

10. Place pan on rack in middle of oven and bake for 20 minutes. Check the bagels by looking at their color; if necessary, continue baking until golden. Watch the bagels carefully toward the end of the baking time because every oven is different; and yours may brown quickly. After taking them out of the oven, remove the bagels from the cookie sheet and let them cool on a wire rack for 10 mins.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

 

wordless wednesday :: autumn nature table

Monday, November 10, 2008

 

thanksgiving side dish :: squash with roasted garlic and sage


next week is my birthday. for our family, this is the kick-off to the holiday season. which i love! and to add more excitement to the mix, we having an early "holiday dinner" with my husband's grandfather before he heads south for the winter like all the birds we've been seeing overhead.

it's awesome that my kids get to know their great-grampa. poppa. what a total treat. and since we are hosting, i've already begun food lists and prep. thankfully, everyone is bringing a dish or drink or something to contribute.

yesterday i made some squash to freeze for the big day, so today i share with you my recipe!

SQUASH WITH ROASTED GARLIC AND SAGE
it's wickedly easy and the amounts can be played with to match your taste.

INGREDIENTS:
2 butternut squashes
1 acron squash
2-4 tbs. olive oil (roughly)
6 or so garlic cloves
1 tbs. chopped fresh sage
salt and pepper to taste

INSTRUCTIONS:
1. preheat oven 375 degrees. line a rimmed baking sheet with foil. slice your winter squashes in half, then in half again, lengthwise. scoop out all the seeds and pulp. half the acron and do the same. put them on your tray skin side down.

2. leaving the cloves whole and unpeeled, drop 1 or 2 into the cavity of the squash. drizzle squashes with olive oil. sprinkle with salt and pepper. add enough water to cover the bottom of the tray.



3. roast the squashes for about 9o minutes. turn halfway thru and replenish water. test with fork for doneness before taking them out of the oven.



4. after the squashes have cooled, peel them and chop them into large chunks. place in bowl of food processor. peel the garlic and add it along with the sage. pulse until a uniform pureé is created.

5. pour into a shallow casserole dish (i used a pie plate). store in the refirgerator for up to 2 days or 2 weeks in the freezer. thaw at room temp. or in the fridge then warm in the oven 30 minutes before serving.

i like to add a topping to jazz it up a bit before serving. some suggestions are: chopped up bacon, roasted walnuts, peanuts or a bit more sage for color.

i'm always looking for new ways to prepare winter squashes, so if you have a favoite recipe, by all means, share!

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Wednesday, November 5, 2008

 

cookie carnival :: november

it's that time again--the cookie carnival is underway for November. to join up, please email me (kate AT the clean plate club DOT ).

i totally intended to have this up sooner, but, what can i say, i got swept up in election fever.

this month we attempt a classic! sure, we've all done them before, but i think it's because they are worthy.

this month's recipe comes from Regan Daley from her absolutely fabulous MUST-HAVE book, In The Sweet Kitchen.

the only issue i can find with this book is that there are not enough photos of her creations, there's a few, but just not enough. in addition to the creative, mouth-watering recipes this book has everything you could ever need to know about baking--conversion charts, flavor pairings, info on tools and ingredients that are detailed and smart, but Daley is never condescending. if anyone ever wants to start-up a Sweet Kitchen recipe-a-month kind of thing, i'm all over it.

so, i'm very excited to try her recipe :: THE ULTIMATE CHEWY and SOFT CHOCOLATE CHUNK COOKIES. i haven't yet tried them and am excited to as i have loved everything in the book that i've tried so far!

her intro:
Crisp and Crunchy have their place in the world of biscuits, but not, I believe, in the best and simplest chocolate chip cookie. If you like chewy, cakey and full to the brim with chocolate, these are for you. oh yes. they are for me. and hopefully for you, as well!

also---Food For Thought the foodie bookclub is officially rolling! email me if you want to join up! our book selection for November is Waiter Rant :: Thanks for the Tip--Confessions of a Cynical Waiter by Steve Dublanica Aka The Waiter

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

 

voting day :: it made me trembly.

words fail me today. the experience of taking our kids with us to vote is one i won't forget.
it's not a long process. it's not a big to-do. no flourish. but it felt so big. so big. so important. and though i hope dearly that obama wins today, i hope more that people get out and vote. and that we unite in our desire for america to heal.

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Saturday, November 1, 2008

 

food for thought :: a book club


we're officially rolling! if you would like to join Food For Thought Book Club, let me know.

November's selection is :: Waiter Rant. (Waiter has a blog, too)
Posting date :: november 30th (include a recipe you made from the book if there are any or make something up inspired by the book--optional)

soon to come Food For Thought FAQ page including all the details and blogroll.

pull up a cuppa somethin' hot and join us!

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hey-ho, halloween time


we ate pizza. we dressed up. we ran thru the neighborhood. we ghosted and got spooked. and candy was consumed! but, i'm proud to say not *too* much.


bb was a street. cars on him and face painted with stop sign and traffic light.

2 of his friends (one seen whizzing by) were spidermen.

and the smallest one a scarecrow.

we saw a lot of "retro" costumes. couple'a star wars droids. and a rubic's cube! indiana jones was running around. who did you see?

we also saw a girl samuri who looked AWESOME.

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