Thursday, December 20, 2007

Beans, Beans, Good for Your Heart...

Ah, beans. Gotta love the little gassy devils! I love just about every bean and/or lentil that crosses my path; however, just like the Alka Seltzer commercial; they don't always love me back. It sucks getting old. Dutch oven!

Ha! Just kidding (not really). Anywho, it's a strange thing that sometimes I make a tasty beanie dish and I'm fine, but other times, I'm tootin' right along. My favorite bean dish is an exquisite Mediterranean number that I can eat happily cold or at room temperature. It's great as either a side dish or as the main act, and it simply sings for a glass of red wine for accompaniment.

The original recipe called for cannelloni beans (no go for me), then I tried Northern beans (can I get a toot-toot?). However, I've yet to try this with chickpeas, but I bet that would be wonderful too. I usually make this when hubby is out of town on a business trip. No prisoners darlings!

Tomato, Basil, and White-Bean Salad

1 eggplant, sliced into 1/2 inch slices
2 cans (19 oz) cannelloni beans, drained and rinsed
½ lb small roma (plum) tomatoes, cut into 1 inch pieces
½ cup fresh basil, chopped
1 tsp salt
Freshly ground pepper
¼ cup EVOO
3 garlic cloves, minced (sometimes I use 4-5...I love garlic)
Juice from 1 lemon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place sliced eggplant on a cookie sheet, drizzle with a little olive oil, and dust with salt and pepper. Roast eggplant till lightly toasted; remove from oven and cool. Combine beans, tomatoes, basil, and salt in a bowl, and season with pepper. Dice cooled eggplant and add to bean mixture. Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat. Sautee garlic and cook, stirring till fragrant, but not browned, 1 ½ - 2 minutes. Pour over bean mixture, add lemon juice, and gently toss. Let stand 30 minutes before serving to allow the flavors to meld. Salad can be covered and kept at room temp for up to 4 hours.

Friday, December 14, 2007

The Best Thing on Sliced Bread

Want to make something that takes you back to memories of apples, cinnamon, and all things good? Then my friends, I will submit to you my most favorite canning recipe (at the time being): Apple Pie Jam

This jam is so completely different from all others, yet so simple and well rounded. It will make you swoon. I did. Best of all, if you take the lid(s) off and microwave this loverliness in the microwave, you have the most fan-friggin-tastic ice-cream sauce. Pour it over vanilla ice-cream with some graham cracker crumbs, and you will slap your booty and say, "Day-yumm!"

This recipe is another jem from The Cooking Forum and I give many props to Linda Lou for sharing it with us.

Linda Lou's Apple Pie Jam
Makes 5, half pints

4 cups tart apples, peeled and finely chopped
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
4 cups sugar
1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1 box pectin
1/2 teaspoon butter

Add water to chopped apples to measure 4 cups total. Measure sugars and set aside. Place apples and water into large, heavy saucepan. Stir in lemon juice, cinnamon and allspice. Stir pectin into fruit. Add butter. Bring mixture to full rolling boil on high heat, stirring constantly. Quickly stir in both sugars. Return to full rolling boil and boil exactly 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Skim off any foam with metal spoon. Ladle quickly into hot, clean jars, leaving 1/4" headspace. Wipe jar rims and threads. Cover with two-piece lids. Screw bands on finger tight. Process in boiling water bath for 10 minutes.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

I'm not Doing so Bad!

The James Beard Book Awards Committee has released a list of their top 20 cookbooks in honor of their 20th anniversary. Hmmm, let’s see…I have about 5 of these at home. I guess I have good taste! How many do you have? What do you think of these books if you have them?

1. American Cookery by James Beard (BBS Publishing, 1996).

2. Authentic Mexican: Regional Cooking from the Heart of Mexico by Rick Bayless (William Morrow, 2007).

3. Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook (Better Homes and Gardens, 2004).

4. Classic Indian Cooking by Julie Sahni (William Morrow, 1980).

5. Complete Techniques by Jacques Pepin and Leon Pererr (Black Dog and Leventhal, 2001).

6. Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking by Marcella Hazan (Macmillan, 1995).

7. How to Cook Everything: Simple Recipes for Great Food by Mark Bittman (Wiley, 2006).

8. The Joy of Cooking by Irma S. Rombauer and Marion Rombauer Becker (Scribner, 2006).

9. The King Arthur Flour Baker's Companion: The All-Purpose Baking Book (Countryman Press, 2003).

10. Maida Heatter's Book of Great Desserts by Maida Heatter (Andrews McMeel, 1999).

11. Martha Stewart's Hors d'Oeuvres Handbook by Martha Stewart (Clarkson Potter, 1999).

12. Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volume One by Julia Child, Louisette Bertholle and Simone Beck (Knopf, 2001).

13. The Modern Art of Chinese Cooking: Techniques and Recipes by Barbara Tropp (William Morrow, 1996).

14. The New Food Lover's Companion by Sharon Tyler Herbst (Barron Educational Series, 2007).

15. The Oxford Companion to Wine by Jancis Robinson (Oxford University Press, 2007).

16. Rick Stein's Complete Seafood by Rick Stein (Ten Speed Press, 2004).

17. The Silver Palate Cookbook by Sheila Lukins and Julie Rosso (Workman, 2007).

18. The Thrill of the Grill: Techniques, Recipes and Down-Home Barbecue by Chris Schlesinger and John Willoughby (William Morrow, 2002).

19. Vegetarian Cooking For Everyone by Deborah Madison (Broadway, 2007).

20. The Way to Cook by Julia Child (Knopf, 1993).

Friday, December 07, 2007

He Lived

Update: Hubby made it home fine last night. He "forgot" to call. I beat him with an empty wrapping paper roll.


Thursday, December 06, 2007

A Party and A Funeral

Tomorrow morning I have a funeral to attend. This is the second one I've been to this year, and I have to tell you; it's been a strange year. The funeral for tomorrow is for a coworker that I worked with not to long ago. It's a strange situation, but she had some serious health problems and it's thought that she overdosed on drugs and alcohol. She just couldn't take it anymore. Very sad.

This is a depressing thing to go into just before the holidays. My mind starts to panic and wander and it doesn't help that hubby is on a business trip with plans to come home tonight. I spoke to him around noon today and he said he would call from the airport before his flight. His flight was supposed to leave around 8 p.m. and I haven't heard from him. It's almost 9 p.m. He never says he's going to call and then not. Never.

So, to keep myself busy and from turning into Chicken Little, I'm wrapping Christmas presents. I drive myself crazy by asking, "Am I wrapping for a dead person?" That's fucked up, right? I know I have issues, so let's not go there. Anyway, when he gets home, I'm going to kill him! I mean, who goes on a business trip 3 weeks before Christmas to an area with bad weather and not call??!

And then to end a weird, manic day, we're going to a Christmas party tomorrow night! Strange days indeed.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

I Can Haz a Hiztory?

Oh, hai. So this teh story of cheezeberger?

Monday, December 03, 2007

And the Skies Parted; Angels Sang

A miracle of miracles happened this weekend my friends. For the very first time, out of my many attempts, I successfully made marmalade. I’m talking no pectin here. Real, honest-to-God marmalade. This may not sound like much, but for me, it was a sign of hope.

You see, I have a shady history with marmalade. For the longest time, I’ve labeled myself as “Marmalade Challenged” in the canning and preserving department. Every year it seems I would offer my sacrificial offerings to the Marmalade Gods, and be rewarded with either some sort of syrup or something completely inedible. Every other canning or preserving project I’ve set out to try has turned out beautifully, except marmalade. It always eluded me. I could never figure out what I was doing wrong. If I were Mel Gibson, marmalade would be my rocking chair from the movie The Patriot.

And it was so disappointing. I live in Florida. I have friends and family who willingly GIVE me free access to all sorts of wonderful, fresh, organic citrus fruit year round. I’m talking Key Limes, Kumquats, Persian Limes, Grapefruit, Honey Bell Tangelos, Navels, Tangerines, Meyers Lemons, and many more. There they sat. Taunting me.

I’ve read somewhere that expectations are just premature disappointments, so this year, I let go of any expectations. I figured it was time for another batch of “Maybe Orange Marmalade”, which by the way, made a fabulous syrup for Asian sauces and flavoring for buttercream icing. So, off I went. I found a reliable recipe, followed it to the letter, and to my thrill, found it starting to come to the gel stage towards the end of processing. Eureka! Of course, I haven’t tried the final, canned product (only what I tasted on a spoon), and it was fabulous. But at least I’m on the right track!

Orange Marmalade
(makes 7-8 half pints)

4 med oranges (I used a slightly sour Honey Bell Tangelo. Try to stay away from overly sweet oranges like Navels)
2 large lemons
8 cups water
8 cups sugar

Cut each orange and lemon in half lengthwise and remove the seeds. Cut the oranges and lemons into very thin slices. You could probably use a mandoline, but I’ve never had much success with mine using citrus. Place the citrus slices and any reserved juices into a large stockpot. Add the water and bring to a boil, stirring often. Remove from heat and add the sugar; stir until the sugar is dissolved. Place a lid on your pot and let the orange mixture sit at room temperature for 24 hours.

After 24 hours, bring orange mixture back to a boil, then lower temperature to a steady simmer. Simmer orange mixture for 2 hours, stirring often. After 2 hours, bring heat back up to medium-high and boil for 30 minutes to gel stage (220 degrees). The orange mixture should have a dark golden orange color. Ladle hot orange mixture into prepared canning jars and process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.

All Dressed Up For Christmas

Oh, and the mustard I made earlier was a bust. The Oktoberfest mustard still tasted awful, but the Ginger Garlic mustard improved quite a bit and has good potential. I’ll post that recipe soon. Till next time darlings!


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