Saturday, July 31, 2010

Pantry Royale

Amys Jams

A few weeks ago, Meg and I took a Pantry Royale class from Amy Pennington at Cupcake Royale. It was amazing. In a short hour and a half, Amy entertained us with stories of her first canning experiences, tales of gardening and taught us how to small batch preserve. Amy recently wrote a delightful book, Urban Pantry which is full of great urban pantry tips and recipes. I highly recommend it. My copy is dog-eared with many a successful recipe tried out and loved.

Amy Cherries

I come from a long line of canners on my father's side. In fact, my Grandfather cans with the best of them and his wife is a Master Canner. So I've always thought about canning as being a BIG DEAL! First you must pick so many tons of fruit for many, many hours (sometimes over an entire weekend) that you can barely get it home. Then you must can for days and days before storing your 300 jars of jam in a cool, dark basement.

Amy Straining Fruit

Well I don't have a basement, nor do I think that Scott and I could ever consume 300 jars of jam in a year so when Amy said that she puts up 4-5 jars at a time, I was HOOKED! I mean, I'm seriously HOOKED but that tale is for a future post. Let's just concentrate on Amy's class in this one.

Amy Canning Setup

Amy, like me, does not have a large kitchen so she showed us how to small batch preserve with a small set-up. You just need a heavy-bottomed dutch oven (I prefer Le Creuset, but I'm biased), a stock pot, a set of jar lifters (tongs won't do as they slip and could drop your precious jars), jars and 2-part lids.

Amy Cupcakes

Amy made Raspberry Orange-Flower Jelly for our class. It looked so simple that the next weekend, I made simple Raspberry preserves. If you live in Seattle and are interested in learning from Amy, take a class at Cupcake Royale. Not only do you learn a lot, you also get Amy's book, cupcakes and a goodie bag. Not bad for $38.

Goodie Bags

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Palouse Trip Down Memory Lane

Windmill Cabin

This past weekend, Scott and I took a trip to Spokane to visit my family. My Grandpa was unable to attend our wedding because as he put it, he had "the Damn Pneumonia". It was so nice to visit with my Grandpa and his wife (who really should have a better title than step-Grandma because she's been my Grandma for over 28 years). We enjoyed some cold beers in the a/c of their house. Later my aunt and uncle came over for dinner and we ended the evening with a delicious Raspberry pie.

My Grandpa told me stories of the summer that my Mother made over 40 pints of Raspberry Jam and kept sending him out to pick more Raspberries. He showed me photos of him in WW2 and of a lovely girlfriend named Phyllis. We gave him some grief for that. All in all, we had a lovely visit.

Fields of Gold

The next day, Scott and I headed back to Seattle through the Palouse. I went to university in Pullman and since we were so close, I wanted to show Scott where I went to school.

YIIP: Day 204

It's really a lovely place even if it is far, far, far away from most civilization. It was nice to go to school in a place where everyone else is going to school and distractions are hard to find.

Washtucna Grain

As we headed back on Hwy 26, I kept Scott entertained with stories of my drives home during college. About how excited we would get seeing Washtucna Grain because that meant we were only about 45 minutes from Vantage which was where the highway met the interstate.

Windmill

I told him about singing cheesy Movie Soundtrack songs, having a bird smack against the windshield on one trip (scaring the crap out of me!), being almost blown off the road during a blizzard and bascially having the time of my life.

It was a wonderful weekend.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Bacon Chocolate Chip Goodness

Bacon CC Cookie

Last Friday, we held the annual Bacon 'Off cooking contest at work and while I didn't win (yet again!), I did submit a pretty darn good cookie. This is my favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe, the one I go to again and again.

Bacon Cookies

I posted on Facebook that I had created these cookies though hardly original and had a few naysayers from work comment. These cookies turned their doubts around. They are easy to make and the candied bacon adds a delicious flavor to the traditional chocolate chip cookie.

Bacon Chocolate Chip Cookie

And without further adieu, I submit for your perusal the recipe.

Bacon Chocolate Chip Cookie
makes 34-36 3″ cookies

2 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup demerara sugar
1 3/4 cups packed, dark brown sugar
2 large eggs
2 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup + 1 tbsp bread flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt (not table salt!), plus either fleur de sel for sprinkling over top
1 lb. Candied Bacon (recipe follows), coarsely chopped
18 oz. 70% bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugars on medium speed until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, and beat well after each addition.

2. Add the vanilla extract, the flours, the baking soda, baking powder, and salt. On low speed, beat the mixture until the dry ingredients are well-incorporated, about 1 minute. Stir in the chopped chocolate.

3. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, or a Silpat. Scoop a heaping tablespoon of dough and roll it until it forms a sphere between your palms. Place the dough on the baking sheet (8 cookies per sheet), giving them room to spread. Dust the tops of each ball of dough with a little demerara sugar, and a tiny bit of fleur de sel or vanilla salt.

4. Bake in a 350 degree oven on the middle rack for 12-13 minutes. (Do not bake these on the bottom rack in the oven–the high proportion of brown sugar will cause the bottoms to darken too much.) At this time, the cookies should have taken on a golden brown color all around the edge, but still look very soft in the center–like hot cookie dough. Remove the tray from the oven, and allow the cookies to cool directly on the tray for 10 minutes before eating.

Candied Bacon

1 lb. Bacon
1 cup dark brown sugar

1. Preheat oven to 425 F.
2. Pat bacon dry.
3. Place dark brown sugar in a shallow pan and coat bacon with brown sugar.
4. Place bacon on a foil lined baking sheet and sprinkle extra brown sugar on top.
5. Bake for 15-20 minutes, turning the bacon halfway through.
6. Allow bacon to cool before using.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Honeymoon Re-Hash

I recently got the new iPhone4 and with it, purchased the iMovie app. I then spent the next few days feverishly putting together a movie from Scott and I's honeymoon using all the iPhone photos I took while visiting Europe.

Enjoy!