29 October 2009

Wintertime Classics: Chowder & Bread

Technically, autumn lasts for nearly two more months. But since it's been snowy and below freezing here for the last two days, I'm going right ahead with the winter comfort foods.

The corn chowder is adapted from the world's greatest slow-cooker cookbook, Fresh from the Vegetarian Slow-Cooker. I cannot recommend this book highly enough. Go buy it. Now. But if you'd rather go ahead & make some dinner, you can use this recipe.

This is the second time I've used the French bread recipe, which is adapted from one I found on allrecipes.com. You've gotta love that site, because any recipe that's four and a half stars after nearly 400 ratings is probably going to work out pretty well for you.

Unfortunately, the bread I baked last night turned out to be a little, how you say... dense. Excessively solid, if you will, especially for French bread. That's what I get for trying to bake while dealing with stress; a professional baker once told me your emotions always come out in your bread, and over the years he's been proved right every time. Kids, don't bake angry. Or sad and stressed, as in my case. Or if you do, expect the result to be less than perfect.

But, y'know, it still looked pretty, and it was still good to dip in the soup and eat. It just wasn't the awesome I was hoping for. Anyway. Enough of my bread woes.

I'm also going to include my oft-requested recipe for seafood chowder, which I made up using a a few keys from a base recipe on cooks.com, and can say with no modesty meets unanimously with rave reviews. This is a Carolina-style chowder, which is to say it's broth-based. It's still nice and creamy, while being lactose-free. The secret is to stir mashed potatoes into your broth. Oh yes. Mashed potatoes make everything better; what, you doubted? You don't really need bread with the seafood chowder; it's extremely hearty and filling. It has that key seafood chowder quality, so wisely noted by my brother, of a high seafood-to-chowder ratio.

A similar technique is used in the corn chowder, which is also lactose-free but still nice and chowdery. I like this recipe because it's simple and satisfying. Enjoy, and stay warm.

Slow-Cooked Corn Chowder

1 Tbs olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, diced
4 c vegetable broth
1 large russet potato, peeled & diced
1/2 yellow bell pepper, diced
3 c frozen (or canned) corn
1/8 - 1/4 c flour
salt & pepper to taste

Heat the olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion, stir to coat with oil, cover and cook for about five minutes. Put the broth, potato, bell pepper, corn, salt and pepper in the slow cooker. When the onions are done, add those to the soup. Cook 6-8 hours on low or 3-4 hours on high.

Ladle most of the solids into a food processor, blender or food mill and puree; stir back into the soup. Add flour as needed to thicken the soup - start with less and keep stirring it in until the soup reaches your desired consistency. Taste and adjust the salt & pepper; garnish with fresh herbs like chives, if you want. Serve immediately, ideally with fresh-baked French bread. Serves 4.

Easy French Bread

Makes two loaves; if you don't want that much, it's easy to halve the recipe. You can make this with a hand mixer using dough hooks, if you don't have a stand mixer, but I think it'd be kind of a pain to make with any less equipment than that.

If you're trying to time this so it's fresh from the oven when the soup's ready, the bread takes about 3 hours.

~6 c flour (I recommend unbleached organic flour)
5 tsp (2 packets) yeast
2 tsp salt
2 c warm water (110-115 degrees F)
1 Tbs cornmeal
1 egg white, mixed with 1 Tbs water

Put 2 cups of the flour, the yeast and the salt into the bowl of a stand mixer. Add the 2 cups of warm water (make sure it's pretty darn close to hot, if you don't have a kitchen thermometer) and stir with a wooden spoon. Put on the stand mixer with a dough hook and mix on low until well blended, about 2-3 minutes. Let rest for 5-10 minutes. Remove from the stand mixer and stir as much of the rest of the flour in as you can, using the wooden spoon. Your dough should be smooth and elastic.

Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead with your hands for a few minutes, adding in a little more flour as needed to deal with any sticky spots. Don't knead more than 5-7 minutes. Form into a ball and put in a large, oiled bowl (I use olive oil), turning once to coat. Cover the bowl with a thin kitchen towel and - if you're a fellow high-altitude dweller - place in the fridge to rise until doubled, about 30-45 minutes. If you live below high altitude, place in a warm place to rise.

Turn the dough back out onto the lightly floured counter and divide it in half. Cover with a towel and let it rest for 10 minutes. (Dough is easily upset, okay? Give it a break.) If each half is not already roughly a 3D oval, make it so, and then roll it out til it's about 10-12 inches wide. You don't want the oval shape to be too pronounced, once it's rolled out, but you want tapered ends. (Now realizing I should have taken some pictures of the process, sorry.) Start with one of the long sides and roll it up, sealing the seam with water and by rolling it back and forth a few times. Tuck the ends under a little and make it look pretty, y'know, like a loaf of French bread is shaped. Grease a large baking sheet with a coating of butter and sprinkle the cornmeal over the sheet. Place your loaves on the sheet, mix up the egg white and water, and brush the mixture onto the loaves. Place the thin kitchen towel over the loaves and put it back in the fridge (or warm place, whatever your altitude) and let rise, about another 30-45 minutes or until roughly double.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Take a sharp knife and make 3-4 diagonal cuts in the tops of the loaves, about 1/4 to 1/2 inch deep. Bake the loaves for 20 minutes, then pull from the oven and brush again with the egg-white mixture. When you put the loaves back in the oven, turn the pan around 180 degrees so they bake more evenly (unless you're blessed with a perfectly-heated oven, which I sincerely hope you appreciate and I totally don't even want to hear about). Bake for another 15-20 minutes until they test done (they'll sound hollow when you flick them on the underside of the loaf). If they're browning too quickly, just put a loose sheet of aluminum foil over them. Remove from oven & cool on a wire rack.

Voila les baguettes!

Ann's Fabulous Seafood Chowder

This makes a ton of chowder. Have a party of, say, 6-8 friends over. Everyone will love you.

4 c vegetable broth
2 8 oz bottles clam juice
4 Tbs olive oil
4-6 cloves garlic, minced
1 large yellow onion, diced
between half and a whole bottle of Bac-o's (or the equivalent of another form of fake bacon or real bacon. I like Bac-o's, what can I say.)
2 medium-large russet potatoes, peeled and diced
1-2 large carrots, diced
34-40+ oz seafood. I like to use 2 cans of baby clams, 2 cans of premium crab, 2 tins of smoked or regular oysters and a jar of lobster in water that I think is 12-16 oz (this latter is pricey, but oh, sooooo good). You could also throw in some canned salmon if you wanted. You can vary this up according to your preference & make it all about the clams, clams & crab, whatever floats your boat. (Ha! Boats! Chowder! ...Sigh.) The key is to make sure you have a whole lot of seafood, in whatever combination.
salt, pepper & cayenne to taste

Using a medium pot, set the potatoes to steam or boil for 15-20 minutes. Heat the olive oil in a large soup pot over medium. Add the garlic, onion and carrots, stir to coat, cover and let cook for 5-10 minutes, until the onions are translucent. Add the broth, clam juice, bacos, and seafood. Add salt, pepper & cayenne to taste. Bring to a low boil, then reduce to simmer and cover. When the potatoes are ready, mash them with about 1/2 T butter and stir them into the soup. Cover again; simmer for an hour total, until the carrots are soft and all the flavors are nicely blended. Taste and adjust salt & pepper as needed.

Using a medium pot, set the potatoes to steam or boil for 15-20 minutes. Heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic, onion and carrots, stir to coat, cover and let cook for 5-10 minutes, until the onions are translucent and the carrots are fairly tender.
In the meantime, put the broth, clam juice, bacos and seafood in the slow cooker. Add the garlic, onion & carrots when they're ready. Stir in the mashed potatoes. Add salt, pepper & cayenne to taste. Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours or on high for 3-4 hours.

28 September 2009

Irished up, or my divine kitchen comedy

Some of my favorite times from childhood were spent listening to my grandpa sing Irish and American folksongs. Grandpa had the true Irish tenor, and a seemingly endless repertoire. Naturally we had our family favorites, one of which was a song we knew as "Clancy Lowered the Boom". It starts like this:

Oh, Clancy was a peaceful man, and you know what I mean -
the cops picked up the pieces, when Clancy left the scene...

Or in modern parlance, he opened a big ol' can o' whup-ass. The refrain began, "Whenever they got his Irish up, Clancy lowered the boom!" My family has always related well to this song. We're a pretty peaceable sort, but if you get our Irish up, you'd best be getting out of the way shortly thereafter or else prepare to feel the wrath.

In addition to our temper - and probably closely linked - we tend to have a generous (by which I mean excessive) streak of good old Irish stubbornness. I have often found, when taking on grand new baking or cooking experiments, that said stubbornness is possibly as valuable a kitchen amenity as, say, the fridge. Similarly taken for granted, and yet indispensable, it's always there when I need it. This was never more true than on a recent Sunday, when it seemed like a good idea to spend the day making apple butter and cinnamon swirl bread. I had no idea that I was embarking on a journey that would make Dante Alighieri's Divine Comedy look like a day in the park.

I got up at 8 a.m., knowing that the slow-cooker apple butter recipe called for 10 hours of cooking time, followed by straining the concoction. "No problem!" I naively optimistically thought. "I can probably still be done by 7:30." On Saturday afternoon, I'd picked a bunch of apples from the two trees in our yard, feeling rather domestic-pioneer-y as I did so. I noticed there weren't many apples without souvenirs from bugs or birds, but figured it wouldn't be that hard to cut around them.

12 September 2009

I Heart Artichoke Hearts

Ain't nothin' low-fat about it... but somehow I don't think you'll regret making this recipe. And aside from the fat content (about six tablespoons of olive oil and two tablespoons of butter), it's really quite nutritious. This honestly might be one of the tastiest recipes I've ever invented, which is why I'm writing it down while still eating it, so I can remake it for future joy.

And yes, it's another couscous recipe. What can I say - I'm into couscous. It would probably be pretty good over rice or pasta, but using couscous does make it a lot easier to focus on concocting this delectable sauce.

As always, most measurements are approximate and to taste.

Couscous with Artichoke Heart Melange

1/2 c water
1/2 c couscous
~ 6 T extra virgin olive oil
2 T butter
~ 2 1/2 t lemon juice
~ 1 t white wine vinegar
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 medium white onion, diced
~ 1 T diced shallot
~ 1 T dried oregano
~ 1/2 t powdered ginger
~ 1 t fresh basil, chopped
1 can artichoke hearts (unmarinated)
1 can garbanzo beans
~ 2-3 T fresh cilantro, chopped
~ 1/2 c grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
~ 3 T pine nuts
fresh ground black pepper to taste

Prep the garlic, onion, shallot, artichoke hearts, tomatoes and cilantro. Lightly toast the pine nuts.

Bring the water to a boil with a dash of olive oil. Stir in the couscous, cover, remove from heat and let sit while you make the sauce.

Put the tomatoes, cilantro, and pine nuts in a small bowl and douse with a healthy squirt of lemon juice, about 1 tsp. Stir up and set aside while you make the rest of the sauce.

In a cast iron saucepan (preferably cast iron, anyway), heat about 2 Tbs olive oil over medium to medium low heat. Add the garlic, onion, and shallot, and stir to coat with oil. Cook about five minutes until translucent. Add the butter and let it melt.
Add the artichoke hearts, oregano, ginger, basil, and pepper, about 1/2 to 1 tsp lemon juice (start smaller and adjust to taste), and the white wine vinegar, and stir it up. Taste and adjust your spices. Let it simmer for about ten minutes.
Add the garbanzo beans, pour about 2 more Tbs olive oil on there, and do another round of black pepper over top, then stir it up. Taste again and adjust whatever needs adjusting. Reduce heat to low, cover, and let simmer for about five more minutes.

Get out your favorite serving bowl. Fluff the couscous with a fork and put it in the bowl as your bottom layer. Take the artichoke heart-garbanzo bean sauce and add that as your middle layer. Use the tomato-cilantro-pine nuts as your top layer.

Makes a hearty dinner for two.

24 August 2009

Couscous with garbanzo beans & roasted red pepper vinaigrette

Oh, for crying out loud. This was so easy to make and tastes so yummy, it feels like cheating. Once again I must proclaim my love for couscous and my love for this recently discovered roasted red pepper vinaigrette.

You know what else would be really good in this recipe? Duh: ARTICHOKE HEARTS. Unfortunately, I didn't have any on hand. Pine nuts would also be a nice stir-in, if you have those handy. It's still pretty darn good just plain and simple, though. The fresh garlic gives it quite a punch; I definitely would not use more than 1 clove's worth.

I was really tired when I got home from work, and I'm glad this recipe occurred to me, because I think it took all of 20 minutes to make - and 10 of that was boiling water. Seriously.

Couscous with garbanzo beans & roasted red pepper vinaigrette

1 cup couscous
1 cup water
dash olive oil
1 can garbanzo beans
1 clove of garlic, minced
roasted red pepper vinaigrette (see this post)

Boil the water with the olive oil and a dash of sea salt, also, if desired. Stir the couscous into the water, cover and remove from heat. Let sit covered while you make the rest of the recipe.

Rinse the garbanzo beans and put them in a large bowl. Stir the minced garlic in with the beans. Make the red pepper vinaigrette. When that's done, check on your couscous; it should be good to go (it's ready when it's absorbed all the water). Fluff it with a fork before you top the bean mixture with it, then pour the vinaigrette all over the top and mix it up. Can serve warm or cold.

Makes 4 servings.

17 August 2009

Summery pasta salad with roasted red pepper vinaigrette

Am I the only one for whom making a vinaigrette provides an inordinate sense of accomplishment? No? Oh, good.

My best friend and I agreed today that the best recipes are Frankensteined recipes, patched together from a bevy of sources. I will admit quite frankly that the only reason this pasta salad is so tasty is because of this recipe from http://www.smittenkitchen.com/, which is basically the greatest food blog on the face of the planet, and you should immediately desert this particular blog and go over there and lose yourself in a multitude of witty writing, gorgeous photography and incredible recipes.

But when you come back, you might enjoy considering my own pasta salad recipe, which as I say is based on the recipe linked above, but with fewer pretty photos and more shortcuts and artichoke hearts involved. For example, I am, if nothing else, lazy, so rather than buying peas in the pod and shelling them, I bought (organic) frozen peas and threw them in the pot of boiling water when the pasta was almost done cooking.

Anyway, I'm getting ahead of myself. The real genius of this recipe (which again I entirely credit to the phenomenally talented Deb) is the roasted red pepper vinaigrette. Smittenkitchen has taught me that it's not necessarily that hard to make a vinaigrette, and that it is almost ridiculously fulfilling. Seriously, I was quoting "Ozymandias" to my dogs, who gave me looks of appropriate confusion and skeptical good-humored tolerance.

Enough with my foodie freakout, though. Have a recipe. Or two, technically. As Deb points out, the vinaigrette would be fabulous on other foods, including salad, and I'm betting crab cakes as well. And you know how I feel about crab cakes.

Summery Pasta Salad with Roasted Red Pepper Vinaigrette

1 lb pasta shells
1 c organic frozen peas
1/2 c chopped artichoke hearts (marinated or non-marinated, take your pick; I sort of like the non-marinated with this recipe, because it lets the vinaigrette's flavor come through better)
~1 Tbs fresh chives, chopped
Roasted Red Pepper Vinaigrette, recipe follows

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add the pasta, cooking according to the directions on the package. When the pasta has about three minutes left, add the frozen peas to the boiling water. Drain, rinse with cold water, and put into a large serving bowl. Add the chopped artichoke hearts and chives, pour the vinaigrette over all, and stir it up, little darlin'. Devour.

Roasted Red Pepper Vinaigrette

1 roasted red bell pepper (you can roast a red bell pepper yourself, which takes a really long time, or you can buy red bell peppers already roasted in handy-dandy jars at the supermarket. What a country! Just pull enough roasted pepper out of the jar until it looks like approximately a full bell pepper, maybe a little more.)
1-2 Tbs chopped shallot (one small shallot) (my small shallot turned out to be 2 Tbs, Deb's was 1)
2-4 Tbs red wine vinegar, depending on how much you like red wine vinegar (I used 4 Tbs)
1/4 c olive oil
salt & fresh ground pepper to taste

Use a food processor or blender to puree the bell pepper. Add the rest of the ingredients and puree until smooth. Taste & add more of various ingredients as preferred. : )

26 July 2009

I've been missing out!

So this morning, I had a few friends over for brunch, and my friend Sara brought over a hash brown casserole that completely rocked my world. How have I missed the joy that is hash brown casserole for all these years? I feel deprived.

Thus, while I haven't made it yet, I feel compelled to share the recipe just in case there are others who also have not yet discovered this culinary phenomenon. (Judging by the number of hash brown casserole recipes already out there on the interwebs, I apparently am the last to know, but hey.)

This is a vegetarian version, obviously; Sara was incredibly thoughtful and made a portion for me without cheese, which rocked.

I'm hoping this is close to what Sara made, because she told me the ingredients and, like a fool, I didn't write them down til later. I'm also guessing at quantities based on the other recipes I found online.

Hash Brown Casserole

1 bag frozen hash browns (2 lbs, thawed)
1 can cream of mushroom soup
2 c sour cream (1 16 oz container)
1/2 to 1 c chopped onion
1 1/2 c vegetarian sausage
1 c cheddar cheese (optional for me...)
1-2 c crushed cornflakes
salt & pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Mix all the ingredients except the cornflakes together in a bowl. Grease a 9 x 13 casserole dish. Pour the mixture in, then top with the cornflakes. Bake for one hour. Try not to faint from happiness.

Note: I saw another recipe that included chopped fresh chives, which sounded like a good idea to me. I'd guess 2-4 T. I'd probably also throw some cayenne in there with the salt and pepper, because I pretty much put cayenne, salt & pepper in about 80% of the dishes I cook. But that's just me. : )

22 July 2009

This one's for Neela : )

So my friend Neela and I went to school together from 5th through 12th grade. Today, she informed me that my mom makes the best tuna casserole ever, and that she's been trying to recreate it for the last 10 years to no avail. Did I have the recipe?

I am slightly embarrassed to say that I don't even remember eating this casserole - shocking to say the least, especially since it involves tater tots, which normally struck a resonating chord in my young life. But having gotten the recipe from Mom, I have to say, it does sound delicious. I'm going to have to make up for the startling gap in my childhood memory by making it in the near future.

Thanks, Neela, for reuniting me with this long-lost culinary delight!

Mom notes, "These can sizes are probably not exactly what's sold today--I first made this recipe in 1974!"

Update: I just made this for the first time and made several changes to it, basically just updating it from 1974 to 2010 food culture, and increasing the overall quantity a bit. It is soooo tasty. Go Mom!

 Skipper's Casserole

1/4 cup butter or margarine
1/4 cup chopped onions
3 Tablespoons flour
1.5 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon dill
1/8 teaspoon pepper

1 can (13 oz. ) evaporated milk
1 can (4 oz.) mushrooms
2-3 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
2 cans (6.5 oz. each) chunk light tuna, drained and flaked
1 package (10 oz.) frozen peas, partially defrosted and broken apart
1 package (16 oz.) tater tots

~ Updated ingredients ~
1/4 cup butter
1/2 yellow onion, diced
3 Tablespoons flour
2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon dill (I substitute marjoram when out of dill)
1 teaspoon pepper

1 can (13 oz. ) evaporated milk
1 8-oz carton button mushrooms, sliced
I Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon lemon juice
2 Tablespoons white wine vinegar
2 Tablespoons water
2 12-oz cans chunk light tuna, drained and flaked
~1/2 of a 16-oz package frozen peas, partially defrosted and broken apart
up to 2 packages (32 oz. total) tater tots (I used about 1 and 2/3rds pkgs, enough to cover with a single layer)

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease a 2-quart oblong casserole.
2. In a 2-quart saucepan over medium-low heat, melt butter and cook onion until tender but not brown.
3. Stir in flour, salt, pepper, and dill until blended. Gradually stir in evaporated milk, Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice, white wine vinegar and water. Cook, stirring constantly, until smooth and thickened.
4. Add the tuna, peas, and mushrooms. Simmer for 5-10 minutes. Spoon mixture into casserole dish.
5. Arrange frozen tater tots in a single layer on top. Bake for 30 minutes or until hot and bubbly in the center.

Makes 6-8 servings. (Consistently a big hit at potlucks, too.)

01 March 2009

Experimentation pays off.

Tonight I attempted something entirely new, with decent success, if I do say so. I made red lentil & rice cakes, with a curried salsa topping. I was pretty pleased with it, and my hubby proclaimed it one of my better inventions, so I'm posting the recipe.

The base recipe I adapted this from - combined from a couple of random blogs - was for 6 people, so there are some really small quantities in here because I pared it down for 2. Trust me, it made ample for two people. The sauce could involve infinite variations; have fun. It sounds complicated, but it's really not that hard.

The recipe as it stands is non-dairy and low-fat.

Ann's Red Lentils & Rice Cakes

1 1/2 c water
1/3 c red lentils
1/4 c jasmati rice
1 bay leaf
pinch of saffron
~1 1/2 tsp curry powder (I used a combination of red & madras curry, not all at once)
3 egg whites, lightly beaten
1 slice of bread, shredded into crumbs & dried out/toasted

1 Tbs olive oil
1/2 bell pepper, red, orange, or yellow; diced
1 medium tomato, diced
1/2 red onion, minced
1-2 tsp honey
2-3 cloves minced garlic
black pepper
1/2 tsp ground ginger, or 1 tsp fresh
~1/4 tsp vindaloo powder
~1/4 tsp tumeric
~1/8 fennel seed
small pinch of fenugreek seed

Put the water, lentils, 1 tsp curry powder and the bay leaf in a saucepan to boil over high heat with a tight-fitting lid. Reduce heat as soon as it starts boiling, and after two minutes add the rice, then set the timer to 20 minutes. Meanwhile, soak the saffron in about 2 teaspoons of water for 10 minutes, then add to the lentils/rice mixture. Toast the breadcrumbs. Lightly beat the eggs in a small bowl.

Prep the tomato, red onion & bell pepper for the sauce. Stir up about a teaspoon of olive oil and all the tomato, onion, honey, ginger, salt, and black pepper, and let it sit while you make the rest of the dinner.

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, heat the rest of the olive oil, then add the fennel and fenugreek seed, the minced garlic, bell pepper, rest of the curry powder, vindaloo powder, and tumeric, stirring frequently. Cook for 3-5 minutes, then remove from heat.

Once the timer's gone off for the lentils & rice, if it's still pretty wet, let it cook down a little. Once it's sufficiently dry - which is still pretty wet, but thick - add to a food processor with the bell pepper sauce, eggs, and breadcrumbs. Pulse for about 30 seconds, stir down, pulse again.

Heat a cast-iron skillet over medium heat. Add the lentil mixture in about quarter-cup scoops and spread out into a cake about 1/4 inch thick. Cook about 5-ish minutes per side, until golden brown on each. Serve topped with the tomato-red onion mixture. Makes 4 cakes per person.

22 February 2009

Breakfast hors d'oeuvres, anyone?

I threw a brunch party and was surprised, when creating the menu, at the lack of breakfast hors d'oeuvres out there. In addition to serving french toast fingers and silver dollar pancakes, I invented a couple bagel-based treats that were pretty easy & tasty. Next time, I want to experiment with mini quiches.

Smoked Salmon Breakfast Tapas

everything bagels
salmon cream cheese
smoked salmon
red onion, minced/food processed
fresh dill, chopped
lemon juice

Toast an everything bagel, spread cream cheese on both sides, then assemble all the rest of the ingredients like a sandwich. I like to layer it by first putting the capers, red onion, & dill, then covering that with the smoked salmon and sprinkling the lemon juice on top of that. Cut into fourths with a serrated knife and serve.

Sweet Breakfast Tapas

plain bagels
honey nut cream cheese
dried cranberries
crushed walnuts

Mix up your cranberries & walnuts together so you can just grab handfuls. Toast a plain bagel, spread the cream cheese on both halves, top one half with the cranberries & walnuts & drizzle a little honey on top. Top with the other bagel half & cut into fourths with a serrated knife.

(Silver Dollar) Pancakes

We also had silver dollar pancakes & french toast sticks. My french toast recipe's already on this blog, here, but here's a good pancake recipe, adapted from the mother of American cooking, Betty Crocker:

1 c flour
1 egg
1 tbs granulated sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 c half and half or milk
1/4 c water (once you've mixed it up, add more milk/water as needed to reach your preferred consistency - I like it, say, medium runny)

Get all the ingredients & your baking equipment out, starting with the egg so it can get closer to room temperature. Crack the egg in a small bowl and whisk it til it's light yellow & foamy. In a medium bowl, combine the dry ingredients and make a little well in the middle. Pour the egg into the well & whisk it up just til mixed. Add the milk & water & mix just til it's mostly smooth - you don't want to overmix.

For silver dollar pancakes, use a quarter-cup measure and a light hand; it's really more like an eighth of a cup per pancake. I like to make pancakes on a cast iron griddle over medium heat.

18 February 2009

Man, some people!! ; )

My dear friend Pam has been after me to update this blog for some time. I admit, I hadn't realized a full six weeks had flitted by - probably because I mentally write this blog all the time, since I am obsessed with good food.

SO, dearest Pammie, and other foodie friends, here's a new post for you. I'm thinking seafood is always a good topic. Actually, Pam and I made some crabcakes and this absolutely divine sauce last week, so let's talk about that.

For my crabcakes recipe, click here. There are also other sauce recipes on this post.

For the sauce, I was fortunate to have on hand some gorgeous, organic, local, vine-ripened yellow and red tomatoes. You can pretty much do anything if you have plenty of butter and dill on hand, and we basically added various produce from the fridge. Hopefully I'm not forgetting anything... I think the actual conglomeration went something like this:

Ann & Pam's Fabulous Sauce

1 to 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter
2-3 Tbs fresh dill, chopped
2-3 Tbs dill seeds
~1 Tbs paprika
1/2 tsp cayenne
1/8 tsp crushed red pepper

2-3 each small yellow & red tomatoes, sliced, then quarter the slices
1/2 jar marinated artichoke hearts, roughly chopped
1 large scallion, minced
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
fresh ground sea salt
fresh ground black pepper

Prep all your veggies, and put the tomatoes and artichoke hearts in a medium bowl. Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Turn the heat down a bit and add the dill seed, scallion, garlic, paprika, cayenne and crushed red pepper. Saute for just a minute or two, stirring often, then add the fresh dill and saute another minute or two. Remove from heat and pour the sauce over the veggies so that they marinate in it while you're frying the crabcakes. Add salt & pepper to taste. Serve in a ramekin next to the crabcakes, or else use a slotted spoon when you're topping the crabcakes with it.