November 29, 2008

DB Caramel Cake

Sorry everyone, a bumpy patch in my life caused this post to be a day late and shorter than usual. I was thrilled when I learned this month's Daring Baker challenge. After a hiatus from sweet challenges I was ready to hit the sugar again. This month's recipe is Shuna Fish Lydon of Eggbeater fame's signature caramel cake. I have extremely fond memories of Sander's caramel cakes from my youth. Sander's caramel cakes are a Detroit thing, along with their infamous bumpy cake. I have tried a few times to make a dairy-free version but haven't come anywhere close. I liked Shuna's cake by itself a lot. There was still some lingering soy taste but mostly you got the caramelized sugar flavor with great moistness. The frosting was more disappointing. I made it without the browned butter called for in the recipe (you can't brown margarine) and it suffered from it. My husband and son still liked it a lot but I thought it made the iced cake way too sweet. It's back to the drawing board to find the perfect dairy-free caramel cake but I'm glad I had a chance to play with a new recipe.

The hosts this month are Dolores of Culinary Curiosity, Alex of Blondie and Brownie, and Jenny of Foray into Food. Special gluten-free magic provided by Natalie of Gluten-a-go-go.

Visit the Daring Baker Blogroll to see all the other sugary creations.

Recipe for the Shuna Fish Lydon's Signiture Caramel Cake
My Recipe for Vegan Caramel

November 24, 2008

Roasting Michigan Chestnuts

I had a chance to take some pictures of the chestnuts I roasted for my cranberry-filled chocolate chestnut cupcakes and thought I'd share them. As a kid I would make my parents buy chestnuts primarily because of that infamous "chestnuts roasting over an open fire" line, I'm a sucker for Christmas music. Of course I'd only eat 1 or 2 chestnuts which probably drove them crazy. I've continued to buy them as an adult and still roast them, eat 1 or 2 and then try to find something like stuffing to throw them in so they don't go to waste. I've never had a chance to make a recipe that really showcases chestnuts. This year I plan on changing that and the cupcakes were just the beginning.

How to roast chestnuts
-Preheat your oven to 425 degrees F.
-Cut a shallow X into the shell of the rounded side of each chestnut.
-Place the chestnuts flat side down onto a baking sheet.
-Roast in the oven for 20-30 minutes, until the shell curls back.
-Cool until safe to handle and remove both shiny, dark brown shell and the furry, papery skin.

Michigan chestnuts

A scored chestnutTwo roasted and peeled chestnuts A pile of roasted, peeled Michigan chestnuts

Some of the recipes I'd like to try:
A skillet method for roasting chestnuts from
Roasted chestnuts and smoked pancetta on a bed of spinach and red quinoa from Lucullian Delights (a mouthful of a recipe title but the ingredients are right up my alley)
Sopa de Castanas (Chestnut soup) from Straight Into Bed Cakefree and Dried (chestnuts with chorizo, yum!)
Chestnut Apple Ravioli from The Expatriate's Kitchen
Chestnut Rice from Closet Cooking (simple but it sounds really delicious)
Caramelized Onion Butternut Squash Roast with Chestnuts from Cooking Books
Chestnut Mousse from Madcap Cupcake (Alex and I really loved the chestnut frosting and I've been wanting to make this mousse since I saw it back in May.)
Warm sweet potato pudding with apples and chestnuts from (This description sold me "the best sweet-potato pie you've ever eaten and then take away the crust so you can revel solely in its silky goodness")

*Don't forget the Michigan-based Chestnut Growers, Inc. They have upcoming sales in Detroit and East Lansing.

November 23, 2008

Raw Comfort Foods Class

Ever since I saw the swank demonstration kitchen in the new Rochester Hills Whole Foods I've wanted to attend a class there. When a listing for a raw comfort foods demonstration came up I jumped at the chance to attend. I've been exploring raw foods because the methods are so fascinating and delicious. The instructor for the demonstration I attended was Beth Wilke.

Beth's focus is on simple and quick recipes. She had two comfort food dishes to demonstrate that day: Cinnamon Apple Breakfast Porridge and her B&B Hot Chocolate. She began with a primer on what raw food is, for her it's vegan and nothing heated above 115 degrees F. We went over the nutritional advantage to soaking and sprouting nuts. She had samples of nuts she had soaked and dehydrated herself. We compared the soaked and dehydrated almond's and pecan's for the differences in taste and appearance to the regular raw nuts. Then we moved on to the two recipes. Both of her recipes were sweetened with medjool dates. The apple porridge was sweetened with homemade date paste (soaked dates that have been pureed) but the hot chocolate's fresh almond milk used whole, pitted dates. Beth dehydrates the remaining pulp from making her almond milk to use as flour. Because it is blended with dates she creates a sweetened almond flour. For the porridge, she warmed the dish in an oven though a dehydrator would be used at home. With the hot chocolate, she used the Vita-Mix blender to beat it to a warm temperature.

Both dishes were tasty and I really want to try and make more almond milk at home. Alex my son likes chocolate almond milk and I'd like to see if he'd drink a date-sweetened version. I'd love to play with the by-product, the date-sweetened almond flour. Beth has several other upcoming classes and she also hosts a raw potluck in the northeast metro Detroit area every other month. You can chose to bring a dish as long as you also provide a recipe or you can offer a $10 donation to attend and try all the raw food. I think it would be a great opportunity if you are just getting started. For more information, you can visit the link to her site. In addition to the new Whole Foods, the open air mall Village of Rochester Hills also has a Williams-Sonoma store that hosts classes and demonstrations. You can see all of the upcoming events in the link below.

The Village of Rochester Hills
In-store Events at The Village (Lists both the Whole Foods and Williams-Sonoma events and classes)
Rochester Hills Whole Food Market
Beth Wilke's Schedule

Beth preparing the raw cinnamon apple breakfast porridge.
From the left: coring apples, showing us the medjool date paste, the finished dish
Beth preparing the B&B's Hot Chocolate.
From left: Starting the blender with the almonds, dates and water,
filling the nut milk bag, squeezing the nut milk

Top Chef New York: Show Your Craft

I really enjoyed this week's episode. It was a lot less frantic and focused much more on the food. We began with the introduction of this week's guest judge, Donatella Arpaia. If you've watched more than one Iron Chef America than surely you recognize this successful restaurateur. She is a frequent judge on the show. The quickfire was a hot dog challenge with a real New York hot dog vendor in the house. Most of the chefs decided to whip up a sausage with the exception of Jill who crazily wrapped a standard dog in rice paper wrappers. Was this served hot or cold like a summer roll? I couldn't help gagging at the thought that it was a cold hot dog inside! Eugene who peaked my interest last week had nori with boursin cheese, another unappetizing combination. Nods were given to the success of Fabio and Hosea but Radhika's Indian lamb hot dog earned her immunity.

For the elimination round the contestants were given the task of running Craft's kitchen for lunch. The added spin was the 50 guests they had to serve just happen to be chefs that tried out and failed to get a spot on Top Chef, a sure to be critical crowd. The contestants divided themselves into appetizers, entrees, and desserts (5 each.) It was nice to see a set of Top Chef contestants that didn't moan and groan about making dessert. Finally they have learned! The Whole Foods shopping trip and night before prep fly by. I immediately know that Hosea has set himself up for failure. Being sure of the quality of your ingredients and being flexible with your recipe are cardinal rules in cooking and he breaks both of them by choosing canned crab meat he can't taste. The chefs arrive at Craft and get ready for service. Ariane give the other chefs a taste of her dessert when she unsure of it. They give her mixed answers but it seems like she knows there is a problem with the dish. Yet she proceeds anyway. Fabio displays an interesting technique where he remakes olives in a pasta-less ravioli type preparation. Everyone gets through the lunch and it's clear that there are more and less successful dishes. On to judging...

Fabio, Hosea, Carla, Ariane, Jamie and Jill are called in to be questioned by the judges. The judges praise Carla's pastry, Jamie's corn soup and Fabio's carpaccio. Fabio takes the win for his creative dish. Hosea, Ariane and Jill are critiqued next. Ariane's overly sweet dessert and Jill's poorly executed ostrich egg quiche seem to be the worst and it looks bad for one of them. They are called back in and Jill is the one eliminated!

I liked that we got much more details about the food in this episode. The chef's individual styles are developing. Jamie's comment about wanting to "celebrate the season and use good product" endears her to me tremendously. Fabio and Stefan are being portrayed as fierce competitors. Ariane seems to be on her way out. It'll be interesting to see if she can turn that around. Next week's episode will be a Thanksgiving themed meal with the Foo Fighters. I'm sure it'll be entertaining.

This week's winning dish: Beef Tenderloin Carpaccio

November 22, 2008

Cranberry-filled Chocolate Chestnut Cupcakes

Coincidentally, contemplating cranberry cupcakes can create a clever combination with chestnut and chocolate.

This month's Iron Cupcake Earth ingredient cranberry sent my mind spinning with ideas. Cranberries are in season and it's easy to find Michigan-grown berries. I'm always happiest playing with local and seasonal ingredients. The question was what to pair the cranberries with that would be appealing and unique. Someone beat me to the excellent cosmo-inspired pairing of cranberry and orange (boozed up of course, yum!) I went through and considered the entire Ocean-spray line (Cran-raspberry, Cran-apple, Cran-grape...) but that didn't peak my interest either. Then I came across some Michigan chestnuts. The combination of cranberries and chestnuts seemed fitting in a traditional holiday way. I began looking for chestnut cake and cupcake recipes. Nothing seemed perfect. Then I switched my search to include cakes with chestnuts and chocolate. Sweets aways disappear faster when there is chocolate involved. This brought up a lot more recipes to tweak but nothing specifically dairy-free or vegan (even though I cook with eggs, I have a vegan cupcake fetish.) So I made the decision to replace the pumpkin in a vegan brownie recipe with roasted chestnut puree. I filled my cupcakes with homemade Michigan cranberry preserves and made a frosting that included chestnut puree.

The cake is mildly sweet and not overpoweringly chocolaty. You can taste the natural sweetness of the chestnuts and smell their aroma. The sweet/tart preserves inside bring the cake up to the right amount of sweetness. I chose not to spice the cranberry preserves but would probably do so in the future. My favorite part was the chestnut frosting. I fight with using tub Earth Balance margarine for frostings because it is just slightly too wet. To get a stable frosting you have to Boldover sweeten with powdered sugar. You can solve this by replacing some of the margarine with shortening or by using the Earth Balance sticks but both suffer from a waxy mouthfeel. The chestnut puree solved this and added a nuttiness and nutritional boost (ok ignore that last one it's a cupcake, who cares?) I've never worked with canned chestnuts but I'm thinking about making a big batch of puree and freezing it for future frosting. I bet it would be excellent in a chocolate frosting as well. Here's what I did:

Chocolate Chestnut Cake
Special thanks to have cake, will travel for the recipe Pumpkin Chocolate Brownies I used as a starting point.
Makes 12 cupcakes

1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons soy milk
3/4 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup white sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened roasted chestnut puree
5 tablespoons neutral oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

-Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F and line a cupcake/muffin pan with papers.
-Mix together the soy milk and vinegar and set aside for a few minutes.
-Stir/whisk together the two flours, baking powder, baking soda, cocoa powder and salt and set aside.
-Place the two sugars and the chestnut puree into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Beat until combined. Scrap the bowl down and add the soured soy milk, oil and vanilla. Beat together until smooth, additional scraping may be needed.
-Add the dry ingredients in three stages beating until almost (but not completely) incorporated after each addition. Scrape down after the last of the flour mixture has been added and fold a few times to ensure that all the ingredients are blended evenly.
-Spoon into the lined cupcake pan, filling each cup two thirds of the way full.
-Bake for 20-25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
-Cool for 5 minutes in the pan and then transfer and cool completely on a wire rack before filling.

Cranberry Preserve Filling
1 cup fresh cranberries, rinsed and halved
1 cup sugar
1 cup water

-Add the ingredients to a saucepan and cook down until thickened, stirring occasionally, approximately 20-30 minutes.
-Cool and store covered in the refrigerator.

Chestnut Frosting
1/2 cup Earth Balance Margarine
6 tablespoons chestnut puree (ideally run through a sieve to remove lumps)
1 1/2 - 2 cups powdered sugar

-Beat the margarine and chestnut puree together until smooth and combined.
-Sift in the powdered sugar and beat together. Add powdered sugar until a pipeable consistency is achieved.

Cupcake Assembly
1. With a 3/4" to 1" round cutter remove a plug from the top of the cupcake. Trim off extra cake from the plug and gently scoop out enough cake from inside the cupcake to create a reservoir.
2. Fill with cranberry preserves (~1 teaspoon) and cover with the top of the trimmed cake plug.
3. Pipe on the chestnut frosting and drizzle over some of the thickened liquid from the preserves.
4. Chill and store in the refrigerator. Allow to warm to close to room temperature before eating.

Some links:
-The Cosmo-inspired vegan cupcake that makes me jealous
-Michigan-based Chestnut Growers, Inc (With a schedule of events in Michigan where they will be selling their chestnuts.)
-Cranberry growing in Michigan
-Which type of chestnut tree should I grow on my new land? Oikos Tree Crops has 12 varieties of chestnut trees for sale.

Visit No one puts cupcake in a corner to vote for the best cranberry cupcake.
Voting begins on Nov. 30 by 8pm and ends on December 5th at noon.
The November Etsy Prize Pack includes prizes from:
Lollipop Workshop, Cookie Sunshine, Lots of Sprinkles, Cakespy and Sweet Cuppin Cakes Bakery and Cupcakery Supply
Prizes also come from these corporate providers:
Head Chefs by Fiesta Products, Hello Cupcake by Karen Tack and Alan Richardson, Jessie Steele Aprons, The Cupcake Courier, and Taste of Home Books
Iron Cupcake:Earth is sponsored in part by 1-800-Flowers

November 19, 2008

BBQ Flax Seed Crackers

Help! I have a new food addiction. This time it's Foods Alive Flax Crackers. Every time I go up to Traverse City my second stop (the first has to be our building site) is Oryana Market for a bag of these crackers! I've liked every flavor I've tried but the mustard and BBQ are my favorites. I practically live on them while were up north for a visit. My favorite way to eat them is with Black Star Farms garlic fromage blanc (yes, mommy is guiltily indulging in creamy dairy goodness that her poor son cannot have) but I love them with every dip I'm tried them with.

Seeing that they seemed like such a simple thing to make I made up my mind to attempt a batch at home. I looked around to find some recipes to use as a starting point and followed the ingredient list found on the back of the cracker bag. I was lucky to have some sun-dried tomatoes I had made recently with tomatoes from the farm stand down the road and flax seeds from an Amish stand that my mother in law had given me. The crackers were easy to make and I got the taste spot on (at least I thought so.) I ate them with hummus and chevre but here they are with some mashed avocado and lemon, which was also good. Now I need to work on the mustard flavor and maybe an all raw version.

BBQ Flax Seed Crackers
The recipes that helped me are linked to at the end.
Makes two 13-inch square sheets of crackers

1 cup whole flax seeds (golden recommended)
1/2 cup sun dried tomatoes
2 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon molasses
1 tablespoon agave nectar
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
2 teaspoons Bragg's Liquid Aminos (or soy sauce)
1 1/4 teaspoon dry mustard powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper (or to taste)
1 tiny drop of liquid smoke, optional

- Soak the flax seeds in 2 cups of water until they swell and the liquid becomes viscous (6-8 hours or up to overnight.)
-Soak the sun dried tomatoes in hot water for ~10 minutes. Add the tomatoes (reserving the water) to the rest of the flavorings in a blender or food processor (a mini-prep would be perfect for this but alas I own the jumbo.) Blend until a fairly smooth paste forms, adding the tomato soaking liquid as needed.
-Stir the flavoring paste into the soaked flax seeds (do not drain the flax seeds) until evenly distributed.
-Spread evenly onto two solid dehydrating sheets (like the ones used for fruit leather.) *See this VegWeb recipe link for oven directions.
-Dry for 6-8 hours at 110-118 degrees F until the top is firm and dry. Gently peel off the cracker sheet and flip it over onto a perforated dehydrating rack. Dry for another 6-8 hours until the crackers are nice and crispy.
-Break into chip sized pieces and store in an air tight container. The finished crackers should last ~2 weeks.

The recipes that helped me were:
VegWeb Flax Seed Crackers
Gone Raw Flax Seed Crackers

Abbie is determined to be "The Everywhere Cat"

November 17, 2008

Top Chef Season 5 Premiere

I know, how could I have let this much time pass and not say a word about the Top Chef premiere? If you somehow were not one of the 2.7 million viewers last week don't worry, Bravo is sure to replay it like crazy. Most of this episode was snippets introducing each of the new contestants so there was a lot less detail about the food. Winning both immunity for the quickfire and the elimination round, Stefan has set himself up as the man to beat. Will make him a target or intimidate the others? All I know is if I have to hear him pining to be the "first European Top Chef" a zillion times my head will explode. I found Eugene intriguing because of his lack of formal culinary education. His successful dish in the elimination despite having no experience cooking Indian food made me even more interested. No one other than those two really stood out for me. It seemed no surprise that the least experienced chefs of the group were the two that got cut. Now we'll just have to wait and see what happens next...

This week's winning dish: Lamb Chops with Tabouli, Beef, Beef Skewer, Hummus and Yogurt

November 14, 2008

Apple Phyllo Strudel

I've been playing with phyllo dough lately. It began as a plan to make something savory with the mushrooms I was growing but evolved into experimenting with apple strudel. I started with a recipe I found on First, I made it as originally written. Then I made a version with walnuts and another with Ritz-like crackers. But this graham cracker variation with a touch of maple syrup is the one I liked best. I think it would be great in place of apple pie for the holidays or for a holiday breakfast.

Apple Phyllo Strudel
Based on Apple Phyllo Strudel from
Makes ~6 servings

3 firm cooking apples, peeled, cored, and diced or sliced
3 tablespoons packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon maple syrup
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
2 teaspoons + 2 tablespoons dairy-free margarine* (as always Earth Balance in our house)
1/4 cup graham cracker crumbs* (~2 crackers)
6 (9x14 inch) sheets of phyllo dough*

*Check the ingredients for allergens that concern you. I've found that the store brand graham crackers are usually the ones that are non-dairy.

-Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
-Add the apples, brown sugar, maple syrup, cinnamon and 2 teaspoons of margarine to a saucepan. Cook over medium-high heat for 10-12 minutes or until the apples have cooked through and the juices have reduced to a syrupy consistency. Allow to cool.
-Melt the margarine.
-Take 2 sheets of the phyllo and brush with margarine. Sprinkle the buttered phyllo with half of the crumbs. Add another two layers of phyllo, brush with margarine and sprinkle with the remaining crumbs. Top with the final two layers of phyllo and place the apple mixture in a line down the center.
-Fold in the short sides of the layered phyllo a half inch and then roll up the longer side tucking the cut side underneath.
-Transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet and brush with the last bit of melted margarine.
-Bake for 30-35 minutes, until golden brown.
-Cool, slice and serve.

*I'm sending this to the Thanks for "Nothing" Thanksgiving Round Up. Visit The Allergic Kid for other allergy-friendly, vegan and/or gluten-free recipes that would be perfect for the holidays.

And since it's been awhile since I shared an Abbie picture...

Memes and awards

I really need to catch up on the tags and awards that some generous bloggers have passed along. I don't how I started putting these off but now the guilt is becoming overwhelming. I've procrastinated long enough and now I'm going to clean the slate and do them all at once. Without further ado...

First the memes:
I'm going to cheat and not single people out. If you are reading this, have a blog, and want to play then do so. Please let me know because I'd love to read them.

Mother's Kitchen got me with 5 Stupid things I do in the kitchen.

1. I burn and cut myself a lot. I'd like to think of the resulting scarring as badges of honor (a la Kitchen Confidental) but really I'm just clumsy.
2. I'll hide something really good, like fancy chocolate, and then forget about it until it's gotten old. Or John finds it and eats it all in in one bite. He does this to my Vosges chocolate bars all the time. I need a new hiding spot!
3. I buy cheap knives. I just know I won't treat the good knives like I'm supposed to. My favorite chef's knife is a piece of garbage from Ikea that I let go through the dishwasher.
4. I buy Jello and never make it.
5. I leave wooden spoons soaking too long until they warp. I hate hand washing dishes.

For Mom, I'm also doing 7 Random things about me. I'm following her example and as such all are food related.

1. I hated mayonnaise as a kid and called it "white death". I got it from Arnold the comic strip.
2. I crave raw flour. Pancake batter, cookie dough, raw pie pastry...I've even tossed blueberries, raw flour and sugar together with soy milk to simulate eating a bowl of blueberry pancake batter.
3. Tempering chocolate makes me break out in panic sweats.
4. My friend's parents have this story of me as a kid. I was on trip with them and I wouldn't eat anything. In an attempt to find something I would enjoy they asked me what my favorite foods were. My response was, "Artichokes, crab legs and tofu." They still tell people this story.
5. I keep Tofutti frozen pizzas in my freezer for the times when I just can't muster the energy to cook for Alex.
6. My all time favorite cookbook is the church cookbook from Sacred Heart in Livonia, MI.
7. If I could only use two spices it would be garlic powder and cayenne pepper. These are indispensable for me.

Ning at Heart and Hearth tagged me with 6 quirky things I do.

1. I have borderline OCD issues over loading the dishwasher. I hate it when other people do it for me.
2. I go along with my husband's superstition about guests always leaving by the door they entered. This is not an easy thing with young children running in and out of your house all day. But apparently my daughter (which I do not have, I have one son) will never get married if I don't do this.
3. I save used twist ties to reuse them.
4. I used to insist that the total when filling gas be rounded up to an even dollar. I have since gotten over this but I drove everyone nuts with it first. John still finds himself doing it.
5. I always wet my toothbrush with water before putting toothpaste on it.
6. I like to eat breakfast food for dinner and dinner food for breakfast.

And now the awards:

Julie of Julie Jams gave me the 2008 Fabulous Food Blog Award.

I'm giving this to:
Chef Benwa
Milk Allergy Mom

Jo from The Adventures of Kitchen Girl gave me the Brillante Blog Award.
I'd like to pass it along to:
Once in a blue moon
Dispensing Happiness

Sarah at What Smells so good honored me with the 'Wylde Woman Award'.
I'm giving this to:
Mid-Michigan Foodie for her fabulous locavore efforts.
The Cabinet of Prof. Kitty for her great Trying to Eat Cheap series of posts.

1. Give it to one or 100 or any number in between - it's up to you. Make sure you link to their site in your post.
2. Link back to this blog: Women, art, life: Weaving_it all together
3. Remember the Purpose of the Award: To send love and acknowledgment to women who brighten your day, teach you new things and live their lives fully with generosity and joy.

Thanks to all who tagged me or honored me with an award!

November 13, 2008

Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream (dairy-free, raw and fantastic!)

It's a sign of my true nature that the first recipe I try out of the cookbook Everyday Raw also be one of the most decadent. Alas, since I made this exactly as written in the book I will not be posting the recipe but a glowing review was called for. This stuff blows any other dairy-free ice cream I have ever had out of the water! It's insanely creamy. It doesn't have any beany, grainy or artificial tasting back notes. It's just sweet enough. Best of all, it passed the Alex taste test with flying colors! The only thing he was unsure about were the cacao nibs, which are generally a more adult ingredient. The next time I will make half the batch with chocolate chips for him.

The base is made with young coconut meat, cashews, coconut oil and agave syrup. It was my first time cracking into a young coconut and it wasn't as awful as I thought it would be. I don't own a cleaver but I found that using the heel of a chef's knife worked well. I was careful to keep the other hand well out of the way (behind my back actually.) I plan on playing with the base of the recipe and trying new flavors. Ginger comes to mind as one that would be perfect in this. As soon as I find a new flavor I love I'll write it up the recipe and share it. Until then you'll just have to get the book.

Some Links:
My post on the 2008 Epicurean Classic presentation with Matthew Kenney
Everyday Raw by Matthew Kenney
Raw Smores recipe from Matthew Kenney

I'm adding this to Bookmarked Recipes, an event started by Ruth's Kitchen's Experiments. Visit her site for the roundup of other bookmarked and tested recipes. And give some of your saved recipes a try and post about them!

November 11, 2008

Pagach (Slovak Cabbage Bread)

In between rounds of Sushi Go Round (Thanks Allergy Mom! It's my new game addiction) I found myself in the mood for some comfort food. My cravings turned to something I've wanted to make for awhile, pagach. Pagach is Slovak bread filled with cabbage or sometimes potatoes. I always loved it slathered in butter when my mom and grandma Helen would make it. I had my parents dig out the recipe from my grandmother's church cookbook a while back only to find out that the recipe calls for ten cups of flour!! My dad also found this recipe online for a smaller batch and with a few alterations I made my first batch on my own. I was happy with the result. Though my batch was a tad thinner it could have easily passed for one made by my mom or grandma. Here's what I did:

Pagach (Slovak Cabbage Bread)
Makes 2 large flat breads (approximately 11x14 inches)
Adapted from and The Sacred Heart League Cookbook from Livonia, Michigan.

3 1/2 cups flour (I used white spelt, but I plan on using all-purpose next time)
1 teaspoon salt
2 1/4 teaspoons (1 pkg) dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water
1 tablespoon of sugar
2/3 cup scalded milk, cooled to lukewarm (I used warmed soy milk)
1 egg
1/3 butter, melted (I used Earth Balance margarine)

1 medium to large head of cabbage, chopped
1 medium onion, diced
4-6 tablespoons of butter (again EB for me*)
salt and pepper
*Optional: 1/4 teaspoon of granulated garlic (I found that when I'm using Earth Balance instead of margarine a tiny bit of dry garlic makes cooked cabbage taste more like it was cooked in butter. I have no idea why this works but I do it all the time.)

Additional butter (or EB)

-Stir the yeast in the water and a pinch of sugar and let sit for a few minutes to proof.
-Add flour and salt to the bowl of a stand mixer with a dough hook and stir together to distribute.
-Beat the egg into the warm milk along with the melted butter and remaining sugar. Add the wet ingredients to the flour and salt and mix until a smooth dough forms.
-Place the dough in a oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Allow to rest until doubled.
-When doubled, punch the dough and give it a few quick kneads before recovering and allowing it to double again.
-Make the cabbage filling by cooking down the cabbage, onion and butter (garlic powder optional) with salt and pepper to taste. You want the cabbage and onion to get soft and golden brown. I cook it over medium-low heat and stir frequently. Allow it to cool.
-When the dough has doubled a second time divide it into quarters. Take one quarter and roll it out on parchment with a little flour until it is ~1/2 inch thick. Spread half of the cabbage mixture on top. Roll out a second quarter to match and lay it on top of the cabbage. Pinch the edges closed, cover with a damp cloth and allow it to rest for half an hour. Repeat with the remaining quarters of dough.
-Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.
-Roll out the sandwiched dough and cabbage as thin as you like (1/2 to 3/4 inch.) Brush with butter (or EB) and prick the top with a fork. Transfer the dough onto a baking sheet and bake for 30-40 minutes or until golden brown on top. Cut into pieces and serve with more butter (or EB.)
-Realize that cabbage and starch is a wonderfully comforting thing.

These places have a potato filling if you are interested in trying it that way:
The Joy of Soup: Pagach

I'm adding this to Yeastspotting which is a wonderful weekly collection of recipes that use yeast. My collection of to-do bread, cracker, and other recipes always increases with each roundup.

November 9, 2008

Top Chef: The Game

My husband sent me a link to the online store for the company that produces the boxed version of our game Hamsterball, which is now in stores (Target, Best Buy, etc.) I was browsing through (due to professional curiosity of course) and found Top Chef: The Game. I just had to order it! I've been counting the days until the new season starts and I love cooking video games. My recent favorite is Order Up for the Wii which is an improved version in the Cooking Mama genre. I love that you juggle several tasks at once but the game was a little short. I've been waiting for the Iron Chef game to be released after having the release date change at least three times and I keep looking at the Hell's Kitchen game but the CGI Gordon Ramsay is ghastly. Hopefully the Top Chef game turns out to be worth buying. I'll try and post a review when it gets here.

Related links:
John's Hamsterball Cake
A cute Chuzzle ad with macaroons
My Top Chef posts
My husband's games at Raptisoft

Where is the beef going?

To Ron Merlin of The Merlin Menu! I hope you enjoy it. Thanks to everyone who entered.

Join the Grass-fed Party

La Cense Beef

November 4, 2008

Get out and vote!

I'm stressed out and ready for this election to be over but Mr. Ribeye will ease my cares away. Juicy and tender and cooked to perfection (if I may say so myself) Mr. Ribeye was worth my selling my vote to the Grass-fed Party. No frou frou sauce for him, just salt and pepper and care taken to see that he had a nice crust and didn't get overcooked.

Get out and vote people!
Things will hopefully be settled by tomorrow morning and
Mr. Ribeye will hold you (well me anyway) til then.
Wanna win some La Cense grass-fed beef for yourself? Comment here by midnight November 8th.

Think you are ready for Mr. Ribeye? You can receive 1lb. of free Ground Steak Burger on any purchase over $75 by visiting this link to La Cense Beef and using the code “GFP75”.

November 2, 2008

Plans for my new kitchen

When I started this foodblog my intention was to spend a lot of time recording the process of designing and building the kitchen in our new house. What I hadn't anticipated was my reaction of "Ack, now that it's time to make these decisions I have no idea what I really want!" Picking a style and sticking to it is hard when you know that this is something you'll live with for the next 30+ years and you have fairly eclectic tastes. I did finally commit to a layout and materials that I think are classic but not too neutral. Things are really progressing nicely on the house and we're still hoping for a finish date in January (cross your fingers for me). I've been meaning to post more about the kitchen because I'm so excited but life (and cooking) got in the way. So here goes nothing and everything about my fabulous new kitchen...
The south sideThe west side
The north sideThe cabinet and counter top materials
Both styles of cabinet will be made of maple.
The countertops are Cambria quartz.The light fixtures for the kitchen