Saturday, October 30, 2010

Why I don't want to be a vampire ...and Garlic Soup (one and the same?)

At risk of being devoured by team-Edward fans, I'm gonna have to admit that I do not understand the attraction to vampires.  And by attraction I mean, wanting to date a vampire or be a vampire.  Don't get me wrong, I like a good vampire flick as well as the next person, but that doesn't mean I'm gonna don prosthetic fangs and red...or eerily attractive lenses.  And I'm sure as hell not gonna drink blood for fun.  Sure, I've had my fair share of that metallic-flavored substance touch my tongue...I was a kid once.  I rode bikes and roller skated and jumped rope...and subsequently fell down and scraped my knee...and then licked the blood instead of running in the house.  No time to waste...daylight spends fast!  Don't tell me you didn't do that.  I know you did.  And maybe juuuuust maybe I've even done it a couple times as an adult. But if I did, it was from a knife cut to the finger...pretty sure I can't lick my knee the way I used to.  My point being...I do NOT want to squeeze the cut and fill a cup and then savor it like a cocktail. Oh, and, Ummmm...did I mention that I like food?  A LOT.  Turning into a vampire would mean that I'd have to give up food.  Now that gives me the shivers.  I am also going to admit that I prefer the vampires that I grew up with to those new-age, sparkle-in-the-sun ones.  Now these...these are vampires...
 Vampires whose skin will burn when it hits the sunlight.  Vampires who will sizzle when squirted by a water gun filled with holy water.  Vampires who sleep hanging upside down in cave-like hideouts.  They're edgy.  They're sexy in an evil sort of way.  They're the kind of vampires that you don't want to find yourself running into in a dark alley.  They require heroes like these guys... kick their butts.  RIP Corey Haim...  And perhaps the biggest difference of all between old-time vampires and the new-fangled ones (ha!) is that the new ones aren't even adverse to garlic. WTF!?  Wearing a braid of garlic around my neck was my cover, damnit.  I'm not gonna give up my passion cover because the Cullens or perhaps more specifically, their scary counterparts aren't adverse to it.  What am supposed to tell people when they ask me why I put so much garlic on my pizza...or why I shmear my crusty bread with soft, pungent, roasted garlic...or why I insist on garlic being added to all of my salsas?  I mean, warding off vampires was ALWAYS my explanation.  People get that.  "Oooooh...yeah.  I hear that."  People understood my reasoning.  Am I now supposed to just say....BECAUSE I LOVE GARLIC!  IT'S MY BOYFRIEND.  I THINK LIFE WOULD BE INCOMPLETE WITHOUT IT!  Huh?  Am I just supposed to say that out loud now?  Sheesh.
And back to my original thoughts...ummmm, helllloooo vampire wanna-be's...vampires don't get to eat FOOD!  I want to be able to eat.  I want to be able to EAT!  I want enjoy the comforting feeling I get when I'm outside taking a walk and something glorious is wafting from one of my neighbors houses.  I want to eat lots and lots and lots of this garlic soup...

Garlic Soup
from the kitchen of girlichef (adapted from Chez Panisse Menu Cookbook)
yield: ~1½ qt.

3 large heads GARLIC
~1 c. olive oil
2 sprigs thyme
1½ qts. hot chicken stock
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
ground cayenne pepper
~½ loaf Cheddar Serrano Bread (or any thick, crusty bread), cut into large cubes
freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Peel the garlic, leaving cloves whole.  Place in small pot and cover with olive oil.  Heat over very low flame until the garlic is very tender, adding the thyme sprigs after 10 minutes.  The whole process will take ~20 minutes.  Strain the garlic, saving the oil.  Put garlic in a large pot with the hot stock and simmer over low heat for 15-20 minutes.  Strain the soup through a sieve.  You can discard the garlic cloves at this point...but me, in ongoing pursuit to ward off vampires, I like to just push the smooshy garlic right through the sieve back into the soup.  This is not for the faint of's serious, garlicky goodness in a bowl.  Season the soup with salt, pepper and a good pinch of cayenne pepper.

While the soup is cooking, brush some of the reserved garlic oil on the cubes of bread, place them on a lined sheet tray, and bake them in a 375°F oven for ~15 minutes, or until golden and very crunchy.  If you like, rub them with a bit of the smooshed garlic, if you didn't add it back to the soup.

When you're ready to serve the soup, add as many croutons as you'd like to your bowl...I like a lot...and then grate some fresh parmesan over the croutons.
Ladle the hot soup over the cheese and croutons and eat immediately.
I love popping one of the cheesy croutons into my mouth when it is permeated with the garlicky broth.  If you've used a good bread and toasted it until it was very crunchy, the croutons will hold that liquid inside while still staying crusty around the edges...aaaahhhhhhh.  

Vampires can't do that.  Shape shifters on the other hand.  They need lots of food to keep up their energy, feed their high metabolism, and satiate their oh-so-hot hunger!  They run hot, they're gorgeous...sign me up for team-Jacob...oh wait, I'm already a member.

SouperSundays cookbook sundays

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Bars, Barstools, Booze, Bacon, Blanks, Brownies, and Bayless!! (...Mish-Mosh #2: Big B. Little B. What begins with B?)


Home bars.  MY home bar, to be precise.  I'm guilty of neglecting it.  It has dust on the top, boxes (and not boxes filled with liquor) stacked behind it.  There's a bar fridge.  It's unplugged.  I'm far too embarrassed to show you what it looks like behind the don't want to see it.  Half of the front is taken up by board games...which were shoved there when we moved the füsbol table in.  Not that buzzed board games aren't fabulous...I just need to pay it some more attention and get it in good order.  Winter is almost here, afterall! EEEEEK!


<------THIS is NOT a barstool sorry Mexi.  You may have noticed how bare my bar looked up there...we have no barstools.  Not a single one.  Unless you count the ones that Mexi made from fallen trees.  He's very innovative.  I love him for that.  BUT...they're not necessarily the safest barstools around or even mid-level-safe.  I mean, if we were to actually have people over and said people were to throw back a few whilst sitting at our bar...they would be in danger of tipping backwards in mid-throw.  Just sayin'.  Fortunately for me, I was offered the chance to review a product from CSN stores.  And they just happen to have far too many LOTS of barstools for me to choose from.  If I so desire.  Aaahhhh, who am I know I'll end up in the kitchen section.  Although I am pretty fond of these ...and theseMe likey the swivel action.  No know I'll be back with the good the review...with bells on asap!!


Next up...stocking my bar, so that I can serve my guests which will be seated on my new swivel-action barstools.  Occasionally we'll just pop a cork.  Or perhaps open a few icy-cold cervezas.  But from time to time we get a hankerin' for the hard stuff.  And what better place for inspiration, cocktails, recipes, tips, techniques, and information on all things cocktail than Cocktail Puppy?  That's right, my friend Natashya of Living in the Kitchen with Puppies wanted a place to release all of her lushy tendencies...and recently invited some of her sister lushes to join her behind the bar! So Natashya, Kim, Danielle, and I will be talkin' booze...all day, everyday over at Cocktail Puppy.  I hope you drop by for a drink.  Or two...
photo by Natashya


It's enough just to say the word.  Right?  It's even better to get the salivary glands workin' overtime by subjecting you to a picture of it.  Yeah?  Well, how about games?  BACON GAMES to be exact?  I knew you'd like that.  Beth Anne from The Seventh Level of Boredom knew you would, too.  Or at least she knew she would...head on over to join in the fun and win some BACON prizes!

I'm drawing one.  A BIG. FAT. BLANK. is so stinkin' frustrating!  In my mind I'm a well-loved, witty, fascinating writer...who can churn 'em out at the snap of a branch.  In reality, I have at least ten posts sitting in "draft", a thoroughly examined corkboard above my laptop, and a severe writers block.  No worries..."I'll be back." I hope.

Big fan.  But you already knew that.  Our theme this week over at IHCC is Chocolate Cravings.  I figured it was a sure thing.  Giada would NOT let me down on this one.  I figured wrong.  I mean, looks can be deceiving, so don't be fooled by that moist, fudgy looking Espresso Brownie down there.  I mean it.  Do NOT be fooled. It's pure evil.  One itty bitty was all I could stand.  What a bummer.  I think the situation could be remedied, though.  Instead of baking them in a square pan, I would switch to a 9 x 13, in turn making them thinner spreading the richness out a bit. OH! And might I recommend skipping the icing?  It sounded good...but tasted...well...bad.  Like raw powdered sugar.   I'm chalking this one up to a loss, Teeth.  Sorry.
BAYLESS (!!!!!!!)

My hero.  My guide.  My mentor.  Genius in the kitchen.  Guru of all things Mexico.  That is definitely my favorite 'B word.'  If you've hung around here long enough, you know of my ahem fondness for Rick. If you look over at my post tags, you'll see one for Rick Bayless.  Click on it.  It leads to delicious things.  Although it's a dream of mine to meet him one day...that has not yet come.  But my friend Lea Ann from Mangos, Chili & Z was fortunate enough to do just that.  Meet Rick Bayless!  I'll admit it. I was totally jealous...but at the same totally stoked for her.  We chat back and forth about how much we ♥ Rick and his attitude, food, and conviction.  We admire him, we learn from him...we are inspired by him!  Well, being the super-awesome person that Lea Ann, she sent me something.  Seriously...I screamed like a 12 year old girl at a Justin Bieber concert when I opened the package that came in the mail today.  See the gorgeous cookbook that I was able to add to my collection? 
Oh yeah.  And did I mentioned that SHE HAD HIM SIGN IT FOR ME!!!!?????  
Aaaaaaaahhhhhhhh!  Lea Ann...this was such a thoughtful gift and I want to tell you again how much it means to me that you thought of me in the midst of Bayless delirium! HUGS!

Oh!!  Can I add another 'B'?  

...all of these won't regret it.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Skillet Pear Crisp

I know I often mention how I bring food over to share with the neighbors.  Well, that's not a one way street...they bring me food, too! Hooray for food-bringing neighbors!  Usually it's a gorgeous mushroom they've foraged or some game they've hunted or some fruit or veggie from a relative who grows tons and always organically, I might add.  This is all aside from the open invitation to their garden goodies.  Yes indeedy...I have some amazing neighbors.  I will overlook the fact that they throw their verdolagas into the compost.  A few weeks ago, they offered up an overflowing bag of pears.  I should say they asked me if I'd like some. many times do I have to tell  you to stop asking...I will ALWAYS say yes.  Just unload all the food you want on me.  I promise I won't turn it away!  One of their relatives has six pear trees on his land and doesn't eat ANY of the fruit they bear.  What a shame.  The upside is that I was gifted with some of the beautiful, imperfect, bug-holed (ie. organic, un-sprayed...and no spray is good...hence, beautiful in my eyes) yellow pears!
Skillet Pear Crisp
from Mexican Everyday by Rick Bayless
serves 6

4 oz. unsalted butter, softened (and divided)
2 pounds pears, cored and peeled (if desired...I didn't desire), cut into ½" slices
 ½ c. plus 2 Tbs. white sugar (divided)
2/3 c. whole wheat flour
½ c. packed dark brown sugar
½ tsp. ground Mexican canela (cinnamon)
½ tsp. salt
¾ c. (3 oz.) toasted pepitas (pumpkin seeds)

Preheat oven to 400° F.  Set a 10" skillet w/ ovenproof handle over medium heat and add 2 tablespoons of the butter.  When it begins to brown, add the fruit.  Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons of of the white sugar.  Cook, stirring regularly, until fruit is soft and most of juice as evaporated and it's beginning to brown, ~10 minutes.

While fruit is cooking, stir together flour, remaining white sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon and salt in a medium bowl.  Add remaining butter, working in until homogeneous mixture is formed.  With a spoon, stir in pepitas.

Crumble the streusel topping evenly over cooked fruit mixture.  Slide skillet into oven and cook for 10-15 minutes, until topping is crispy.  Serve warm or at room temperature.
...and yes, I did return the favor by dishing some up and bringing it back to my neighbors.  Hopefully that's incentive enough to keep them offering up good bounty!
I am sending this to GYO #46 (Grow Your Own), which is being hosted by MomGateway this month.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Cinnamon Swirl Raisin Bread

Drama Queen was in the mood for some raisin bread the other what was I to do?  Why, make some of course!  Since the yeasties and I have only been tight for less than a year, I didn't yet have a good raisin bread recipe under my belt.  So I went on the hunt...and found one that claimed of course to be "the greatest raisin bread recipe in the whole wide world" basically.  I'll admit, it did sound good...and all of the reviews that I read were pretty positive.  The only downside was that it used a whole lot of white flour and white sugar.  I do try to be healthyish whenever possible, without sacrificing flavor, so I made a few modifications...using half whole wheat flour and subbing honey for the white sugar in the dough and brown sugar for the white sugar in the swirl (which I know from experience works way better).  I used both purple and yellow raisins this time, but you could use all of one of a mix of others, if that's what you have.  I think it's important to soak the raisins, as well.  DQ actually commented on how juicy the raisins in each bite were!  This is definitely a favorite and we'll make it does make 3 loaves...but you can freeze them or give them away.  Need I say it's fabulous when toasted?  Didn't think so...

Cinnamon Swirl Raisin Bread
from the kitchen of girlichef
inspired by/adapted from this recipe
yield: 3 loaves

1½ c. milk, scalded & cooled to lukewarm
1 c. lukewarm water
½ c. honey
1 Tbs. + 1 tsp. yeast
3 eggs, at room temperature
4 oz. unsalted butter, at room temperature
4 c. whole wheat flour + extra for bench
4 c. unbleached ap flour
1 tsp. sea salt
1 c. raisins, plumped in hot water & drained

cinnamon swirl
1 Tbs. milk, lukewarm
1 c. brown sugar, not packed
2 Tbs. ground cinnamon

~2 Tbs. melted butter (optional)

Begin by putting the scalded milk, water, and honey in a very large bowl.  Sprinkle yeast over the surface. Let it bloom and become creamy, ~10 minutes.  In the meantime, whisk together the butter and eggs.  Once the 10 minutes is up, whisk in the egg/butter mixture.  Stir in the flours and salt with a wooden spoon.  Fold in raisins.    Turn out onto a well-floured surface and knead until the dough becomes silky and workable.  Dough may seem a bit sticky at first...simply add more flour to the bench as needed, using a bench scraper to lift dough in between if it starts to stick.  This should take ~10-15 minutes.  Form into a ball and place into an oiled bowl, turning once to coat.  Cover with plastic wrap or a clean kitchen towel and let raise until doubled in size, ~1½ hrs.  This dough is superman...just look!!!
Punch dough down.  Lightly flour your work surface again and turn dough out.  Gently roll the dough into a very large rectangle-ish, approximately 24"x12".  Combine the sugar and cinnamon.  Gently rub the milk across the whole surface of the dough, then sprinkle the cinnamon and sugar mixture evenly over the moistened dough.
Roll the dough (jellyroll style), keeping it as tight as possible.
Cut the dough into three even sections, ~8" each.
Pinch the open edges together and tuck underneath the dough.  Place in well-greased loaf pans.  I tried two different sizes, both of which worked just fine...but I prefer the smaller, skinner one which measures about 4¼" W x 8½" H x 2¾" Deep.  That said, it was just the aesthetics, so use the loaf pan you already have if it's a different size.  Cover with plastic or towel and let rise until doubled in size, ~45 minutes.
Again...this loaf is so superman...rises up all big and beautiful...and fast!  Preheat the oven to 350° F. during last 20 minutes or so of rise time.
Bake in your preheated oven for ~45 minutes, or until golden (should register ~185° F., if you're temping it).
Let bread cool in the pans on a rack for ~10 minutes.
If you want, now is the time to brush the top of the loaves with a bit of melted butter.  The butter gives it a pretty sheen, but it doesn't add or take away from the loaf in the end.  I think if you're going to store it, I'd leave the butter off.
Turn the loaves out of the pans to finish cooling.
Once it's cool, you can wrap it well and freeze it, if you wish.  Or give some away...your neighbors will appreciate.  I know this from personal experience.  Or slice in and take a bite of cinnamon raisin bliss!
Our next raisin bread loaf will be an oatmeal loaf- no swirl.  We'll compare and let you know the results!!

I am sharing this post with:

Hearth and Soul Hop volume 20

Welcome to the Hearth 'n Soul Blog Hop Volume 20!


Food from your hearth, to feed your soul. Food that follows your intuition. Preparing food from scratch to nourish your family…body, mind AND soul! Food made with your own hands…infused with energy and passion and intent. Real food made by real people to feed real families (big and small, in blood or spirit). Ingredients from scratch, be it something grown in your garden or raised on your land…food foraged in the field or woods…food from local farms, farmers, or farmers markets…or even ingredients chosen by you from your local market that will be turned into something that feeds your soul. Tapping the food memory that each of us has stored inside; letting it guide and influence our own time in the kitchen.

We hope to embrace not only the “expected” areas of real food, but also those who want to incorporate healthier choices without sacrificing their love of food…how it tastes, the memories it conjures up, the comfort it brings. Yes, we’re trying to steer clear of packaged, processed, and boxed foods in favor of real foods….without absolutely excluding the sometimes frowned upon white sugar or flour (because the body craves what it craves…and sometimes things just don’t taste the same when you replace these). Making conscious choices and being present in the now with what your body needs…and taking steps towards exploring and enjoying healthier choices. If you take the time to listen, your body will tell you what it needs.

The warm comfort of the home hearth…stories, anecdotes, lessons, adventures, journeys, recipes, meals, beverages…we want to share the “why” of how food feeds more than just our bodies…how it also feeds our souls. After all, aren’t these the essential ingredients in defining real food? Please share links from your Hearth ‘n Soul with us each week.

*As hosts, we will try our hardest to visit as many of the links each week as we can.  We guarantee that at least one of us will stop by each week...and tweet your link, as well.  As much as we'd love to be able to comment on every post, every! Ya know?  We all enjoy your links and look forward to reading what you've brought to the table every week.  So please know, that if there's a week that one or two of us don't drop's not because we don't care, it's because our plates are overflowing that week!

*The Hearth and Soul Hop's Twitter hashtag is #hsoul .  Feel free to leave your twitter handle in the comments, as well.

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  • Must include a link back to one/any of the host sites (through worded link or badge) in individual post, not on sidebar…although we love having links on your page, as well (this benefits all of us). You will be sent a gentle reminder if no link is added to your post, we understand that sometimes people forget…but if it becomes a regular occurrence, (even though we don’t like to do it) your post may be removed. It’s just not fair to those who do take the time and show the grace to link back.
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Please feel free to ask questions at any time through either comments or email at any of the hosting sites and we will answer you as soon as we possibly can.  I'm really looking forward to reading everybody's links. Thank you!

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