Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Fried Green Tomatoes

Do you ever get horned tomato worms? Those are nasty little buggers! They started attacking my crop so I picked any large tomatoes that I thought they may get to, including the green tomatoes. Of course the options are so varied as to what to do with ripe tomatoes. I had a whole bowl of green tomatoes. I saw that some people make cakes with them (eww) and some made a sauce. I decided to go with the standard, fried green tomatoes! Let's review why fried green tomatoes are so wonderful:

1. They are so easy to make.
2. They are so delicious to eat.
3. They remind me of the south. (I've never even been to the south!)
4. They are the perfect balance of soft tomato and crunchy outside.
5. They are the perfect balance of salty and tangy.

Fried Green Tomatoes
Source: ME!
Yield: As many as you want!!

Green tomatoes
Egg(s), beaten
Vegetable oil for frying

Add a bit of milk to the beaten egg, for one egg I'd say maybe a tablespoon. Combine the cornmeal with a teaspoon or so of salt. I dip my tomato slices in flour followed by the egg mixture and then the cornmeal. Then fry them until golden in the hot oil. Sprinkle with more salt if you'd like...I do!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies

I dedicate this post to my friend Anna in Tennessee!! She has been after me for this recipe and I have been such a procrastinator. Anna - I hope you love these!

Tis the season for all things pumpkin. I have 3-4 different pumpkin whoopie pie recipes and I may have to try all 3-4 to decide which I like best. This is a Rachael Ray recipe (did you just roll your eyes at me?!) and I love the simplicity of it. The cake part is really moist and stays really moist. I did have to add more powder sugar to the filling but maybe my palette is a little different than yours. Do what you like!!

As you can see I really liked the filling. Shortly after this photo I went in with my finger and enjoyed the last few gobs of filling. YUM!

These froze very well! Stay tuned for other versions of pumpkin whoopies!!

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies

Source: Rachael Ray
Yield: 12 whoopies

1 1/2 sticks (6 ounces) unsalted butter, 1 stick melted, 1/2 stick softened
1 cup packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature, lightly beaten
1 cup canned pure pumpkin puree
1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon plus 2 pinches salt
1-2/3 cups flour
4 ounces cream cheese, chilled
1 cup confectioners' sugar

1.Preheat the oven to 350°. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

2.In a large bowl, whisk together the melted butter and brown sugar until smooth. Whisk in the eggs, pumpkin puree, pumpkin pie spice, 1 teaspoon vanilla, the baking powder, the baking soda and 3/4 teaspoon salt. Using a rubber spatula, fold in the flour.

3.Using an ice cream scoop or tablespoon, drop 24 generous mounds of batter, spaced evenly, onto each baking sheet. Bake until springy to the touch, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a rack to cool completely.

4.Meanwhile, using an electric mixer, cream the softened butter with the cream cheese. Add the confectioners' sugar and the remaining 2 pinches salt and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla; mix on low speed until blended, then beat on medium-high speed until fluffy, about 2 minutes.

5.Spread the flat side of 12 cakes with the cream cheese frosting. Top each with another cake.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Scallops and Raw Tomatoes

Not too long ago Seth and I went to the Liberal Cup for dinner. Wait a minute. Have I ever told you how I met my handsome husband??

Back in August of 2005 I was a lost girl. I didn't know what I was doing. I was partying, I was binging and purging (oh how skinny I was back then), I was leading a life that was going nowhere. I was at the Liberal Cup with some friends and this guy caught my eye. I mentioned him to my girlfriend and told her that he kept looking at me. So I waited for him to A. come talk to me or B. send me a drink. Nothing. Waited. Nothing. So I went home and didn't think much of it. THEN, I got a message on Myspace (remember when Myspace was cool?) from him that said, "Were you at the Liberal Cup on Saturday night?" I think I jumped out of my skin! So we went back and forth that way for a while...and well...the rest is history I guess. The handsome prince saved the princess. My life hasn't been the same since. He put me on my path and what a wonderful and glorious path it is.

How's that for ADD??

Anywho...we were at The Cup for dinner and he got the special. You know...the expensive one. Scallops with wild rice. It was so tasty...and simple. I knew I would be able to make that on my own! So I did. But better! I had set aside this recipe from Rachael Ray's magazine and had a ton of cherry tomatoes from the garden. One thing I didn't the damn recipe! I didn't give myself enough time to let the tomatoes sit and absorb the garlic flavor. I gave them about 30 minutes and it was very good...but imagine if I had done it properly!

I splurged on the rice and bought a medium sized tub for nearly $7. So worth it though. I will definitely be making this dish again!

This photo kind of sucks. I wasn't going to blog this but then, when I bit into it I ran into the kitchen to get the camera. I knew I needed to share it with all of you. Scallops with Raw Tomato Sauce
Source: Rachael Ray Magazine
Yield: 4 servings

1 clove garlic, smashed
2 cups grape tomatoes, halved
2 tablespoons chopped fresh herbs (such as basil, mint, thyme, dill, parsley or cilantro)
Salt and pepper
24 sea scallops. patted dry
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
4 lemon wedges

1.Rub the inside of a large bowl with the garlic. Add the garlic to the bowl along with the tomatoes and herbs. Season with salt and let stand at room temperature for 1 hour. Discard any large garlic pieces.

2.Preheat a grill to medium-high. Thread the scallops on skewers and brush with the olive oil; season with salt and pepper. Grill, turning once, until firm and slightly charred, about 8 minutes. Remove from the skewers and add to the tomato mixture.

3.Add the butter to the scallops mixture and gently toss until melted. Serve with the lemon wedges.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Mac and Goat Cheese

Do you like goat cheese?

I do. A few years ago I was convinced that I hated it. Now it is one of my favorite foodie delights. Weird how your taste buds change or your palette develops...or you just become more open to other foods! I remember when I was a kid I hated quite a bit of stuff. Did not like mayo. Did not like butter (me??!!). Picked the breading off fried food. Wasn't a fan of Mexican food. Now I will try just about anything. Just don't expect me to eat steak or brains or testicles...ewww...ick...nasty.

I liked this mac and cheese but I probably won't make it again. If I am going to splurge and have mac and better be worth it. Cheesy and gooey. This has tomatoes and spinach as well as walnuts. The weird thing was that I brought this to work the next day and the walnuts had turned the noodles purplish. Why? Can anyone answer me?! WHY? That is not appetizing.

I apologize for this picture...terrible lighting and I was in a hurry.

Mac n Goat Cheese
Source: Rachael Ray Magazine
Yield: 4 servings

3/4 pound macaroni pasta
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
One 9-ounce bag spinach
Salt and pepper
6 ounces goat cheese, broken into chunks
3/4 cup chopped walnuts, toasted

1.In a large pot of boiling, salted water, cook the pasta until al dente. Drain, reserving 1/4 cup cooking water, and return to the pot.

2.Meanwhile, in a medium skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook until golden, about 4 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes, spinach and the reserved pasta water and cook until heated through, about 4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Stir into the pasta along with the goat cheese. Transfer to a serving dish and sprinkle the walnuts on top.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Portland Eats (my personal challenge)

I like to consider myself a foodie. I love eating food and making food. I love reading about it and the science of it. Obviously I love writing and talking about food. As I've mentioned, sharing food (in writing or in person) is my way of showing that I love you, care about you, want to see you happy. How sad is it that I haven't been to some of the greatest restaurants in Portland, Maine; my nearest big city?!?! Sad. Very very sad.

Here is my personal challenge: below I have listed restaurants in the Portland area that I am dying to try. Seth has agreed that once a month we can make the trek to Portland and try one of the places on the list. I will then blog what I think about each place. Exciting right?! I do think so.

The list of eateries (this list could go on and on):

Portland Market House (they house three different kiosks)
Bresca (I've been dying to go here since they opened but I'm nervous because they have limited vegetarian options)
Rabelais (this isn't a restaurant but a book store)
Fore Street
Bar Lola
Local 188 (for brunch)
Five Fifty Five (for the green and sweet plates)
Standard Baking Company
Hot Suppa!
Federal Spice

Some Portland Restaurants that I have thoroughly enjoyed:

Bibo's Madd Apple Cafe (they had a chocolate banana bread pudding that was amazing)
Novare Res (great little plates...they have me hooked on Marcona almonds)
The Green Elephant
Two Fat Cats (my favorite bakery in Maine and where I got my wedding cake)
Dogfish Cafe

Pumpkin Cupcakes with Buttermilk Icing

I posted on Facebook that I was going to be making these and people expressed a lot of interest! I wish I could have delivered some to each of my friends but some of them are just too far away (Tennesee and Texas!). I was able to catch my friend Bruce before he left his shift at work. I think he liked them...he ate both before I left, a great compliment to a baker.

My friend Anna mentioned that she was looking for something more cake like than muffin like. These are really wonderful little cupcakes. Definitely more cakey than muffiny and topped with a simple tangy icing. The recipe says that you can top them with cream cheese frosting if you want but I like the simplicity of the icing, it doesn't take away from the pumpkin flavor of the cupcakes.

I think you will really like these my foodie friends!

Pumpkin Cupcakes with Buttermilk Icing
Source: Chow
Yield: 48 cupcakes (I halved this recipe)

4 cups cake flour
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon baking powder
2 1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 1/4 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups canned pumpkin purée
1 cup whole milk (I used buttermilk)
2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups packed light brown sugar
4 large eggs, at room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Buttermilk Icing
2 cups powder sugar
3 tablespoons buttermilk
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

Heat the oven to 350°F and arrange the rack in the middle. Line muffin pans with cupcake liners. Sift together dry ingredients in a bowl and set aside.

Whisk together pumpkin and milk in a separate bowl and set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat butter and sugar on high speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.

Add eggs one at a time, beating and then scraping the bowl down after each addition. Add vanilla and beat until smooth. Add dry ingredients in three batches, alternating with pumpkin-milk mixture, mixing on low speed, and scraping the bowl down between additions. When all ingredients have been added, mix batter 30 seconds on medium-high speed until uniformly combined.

Fill the cupcake liners 3/4 full with batter and bake until a tester inserted in cupcake centers comes out clean, about 18 to 20 minutes.

To make the icing just whisk together the three ingredients.

Remove cupcakes from the oven and allow to cool 5 minutes before removing from the pans. Let cool completely on a rack, decorate with icing, and serve.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Flaky Flat Bread

Did you know that Portland, Maine was named Bon Appetit's "Foodiest Small Town"? How exciting is that?! I was absolutely star struck when the BA Foodiest (Andrew Knowlton) was on the local news. It showed him talking about some of the local great places that I love; Novare Res, Two Fat Cats Bakery, Standard Baking Co., and Fore Street (OK...I haven't been yet but I know I will love it. We are going on Friday). There are so many places that I am dying to try but we live an hour away and just don't get down there as much as we (I) would like. Ask me anything about the restaurants in Hallowell!

Another place that I enjoy that wasn't mentioned by BA was the Green Elephant. I brought Seth there for his birthday last year and we had this Indian flat bread with a dip that was so good. Nearly a year later I found a recipe that sounded similar. This is Kerala Parotha described by Foodess as a flaky south Indian flat bread.

I thoroughly enjoyed this bread. It is meant for dunking into the juices of hot curry and getting the last bits of curry goodness at the bottom of the bowl. I chose to serve this as an appetizer and made a curry bean dip as an accompaniment. Another great piece to this flat bread, it freezes well! It made about 8 rounds and I froze 5 of them. I just heated a bit of oil to a pan and added the frozen bread, flip once and you're done!

Kerala Parotha
Source: Foodess
Yield: 8 rounds

2 cups flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 tbsp oil
3/4 cup water
4 tbsp butter, melted
oil, for frying

1. With a fork, mix the flour and salt in a medium bowl. Add beaten egg, oil, and water, and mix with fork till dough starts to come together. Turn out on floured surface and knead into a smooth, elastic ball, about 10 minutes. You may need to add more flour or water to make the dough a workable consistency.

2. Return dough to ball and cover with a damp towel. Leave it to rest for 1 hour or more.

3. Pinch off lime-sized balls of dough, and roll them out into thin circles on a floured surface. Brush a thin coat of ghee over entire surface. Starting at one end, roll dough into a thin roll (like rolling up a jelly roll, or cinnamon buns). Holding one end of the roll between fingers, twist the dough in on itself in a spiral, pinching loose end into the circle to secure. Allow dough to rest for 15 minutes.

4. Heat 2 tsp oil in a cast iron pan over moderate heat. Flatten the spirals of dough with the palm of your hand, then thoroughly flatten them into thin circles using a rolling pin. Transfer to hot pan, and cook until air bubbles form in dough, about 2 minutes. Brush with butter, and flip. Continue cooking till golden brown, about 1 minute longer. Transfer to a serving plate and tent with foil to keep warm. Add another 2 tsp oil to pan and fry next parotha, continuing the same procedure for all the dough.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Pumpkin Spice Latte

Fall is a special time of year. Back in late August 2005 I met my husband. Then in September of 2006 I put 100% of myself into him and fell head over heels in love. We were engaged in October of 2007 and wed in October 2008. I wonder what will happen this fall??!!

Fall is my favorite season for more reasons than just love. It is time to bring out the sweaters and jackets, ankle boots and scarfs. Running in the morning isn't quite as hard as it was when the temperature was 80 degrees at 6:30am. And very importantly, baking and cooking in the fall is the best! I love breaking out the crock pot for soup and chili. It is a great time of year for baking bread, but most of all, it is so fun to use pumpkin in baking and cooking.

I happened upon a blog for homemade pumpkin spice lattes. No more $4 drinks!! I can make my own! I've shared this with a few friends and they love it. I hope you do too!!

This jar of syrup will last quite a while. I think I've made 4 lattes and I have more than half a jar left!

Don't you love my pink mug??

Pumpkin Spice Latte
Source: Sugar Crafter
Yield: 1 latte

For the syrup:
1 and 1/4 cups water
1 and 1/4 cups granulated sugar
2 Tbsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp cloves
1/2 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp nutmeg

For the latte:
2 cups milk
1 or 2 shots espresso (I don't have an espresso machine so I use strong coffee)
2 Tbsp pumpkin spice syrup

Simmer sugar and water until the sugar has dissolved. Add spices and simmer another 6 minutes. Pour into jar.

Since I don't have an espresso machine I froth my milk by hand. You can find directions to do so here.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

The Kitchen of 179

I follow a lot of food blogs. I even follow a few fashion blogs. There might be a couple craft blogs thrown into the mix too. Thank goodness Google Reader keeps me organized with all of them!

Some of my favorite posts by bloggers is when they give a glimpse into their real life. I like to see their home, the kitchen, their pets! Sometimes you feel like you really know these people!

Here is a glimpse into our home at least the kitchen portion. You don't need to see the rest!

I found this old door knocker in the cellar. My grandfather was in the Navy and I'm sure he picked this up some where with the intention of putting it on the door but never did.

This is my sweet little kitchen. Years ago my dad and I completely renovated the whole thing. We tore out all the drywall, the floors and the ceiling. We even removed a window which was above the stove. I wish I had a wee bit more natural light coming into the kitchen but I like how accessible everything is.

This is the light in my kitchen at sunset. I love being in the kitchen at this time of day. I didn't edit this photo, the light really is this warm golden color. It makes me happy.

Boyd is always right near me when I'm in the kitchen. In the first picture of the kitchen you can see him sitting on the stand near the fridge. He just sits there and watches me. What a baaaaby.

Tickles is never too far either. I tried to have a "photo shoot" with him last night and Boyd got so jealous he came over and sat in front of the camera.

I have a lot of cookbooks. I recently went through and cleaned out all the books that I don't use and I still ended up with 4 shelves of them! Check out those hefty binders on the bottom shelf, that is how I organize my recipes from blogs and magazines. I'm a little obsessed with them. I was keeping all of this on an old ratty WalMart bookcase. Then we found this beauty at the Pot Luck Shop in Hallowell. This is made from recycled barn wood from Wayne. I absolutely adore this.

The day we found that bookcase we decided that maybe we should pay the Pot Luck Shop's rent for the month. We ended up with this gorgeous piece as well. This is made by the same man from Wayne. When you open it up it smells like a barn...which I think is great.

Thanks for coming over! I hope you enjoyed the tour!!