Thursday, September 30, 2010

Melanie's Angel Food Cake

...or should I say Disaster Food Cake?

They said it's fool proof, but I proved them wrong! I honestly don't know what happened. I followed the recipe exactly! I even watched the online episode as I made it to make sure I did everything Alton did. I was just going to use a bundt pan but happened to find a regular tube pan at a thrift store. I even bought a sifter since I didn't have one. I let the egg whites warm up to room temperature. I carefully folded in the flour/sugar mixture. I let it cool upside down. The only thing I did different was use all-purpose flour instead of cake flour (and I subtracted 2 Tbsp. of the all-purpose because I read that was an appropriate substitution). I don't think that alone would cause my cake to fall and taste like an omelet. It was so dense and eggy! Maybe I didn't beat the egg whites long enough? After baking for 35 minutes and checking its doneness with a skewer I put the cake back in the oven for about 8 minutes longer because it was still gooey in the middle. Maybe poking a hole and putting it back in the oven let all the air out of the cake? Whatever happened, it was a big disappointment. This was meant to be for my husband's birthday. Looks like he'll have to settle for a Duncan Hines cake instead. I'd like to try this again, but I'm hesitant so I might just give up on making homemade angel food cake for now!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Catherine's Very Garlicky Greens

I was excited about the garlic selection because I've been wanting to learn how to cook greens. I had some once a long time ago that I really liked, but haven't had them since. I bought collards because they looked better than the mustard or other greens.

Don't they look pretty? The recipe was really easy to make. I used 7 garlic gloves, which was too much, but it still had a really good flavor. The collard greens were rather bitter, though. Has anyone had other greens before that they would recommend? I would totally make this again if I could find something a little milder. I even think it would be good with spinach. I would recommend cutting the amount of garlic in half, though. Nobody in my family ate it (besides me), but I wasn't expecting them to.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Newer Rotation Updates

I've made a few more changes to the recipe selecting rotation. Check it out here to see when you choose a recipe.

Cami's Angel Food Cake

Even though I totally didn't follow the instructions my angel food cake still tasted good. I missed the step where you divide the sugar in half and mix only some with the flour. Then I missed the part about whipping the egg whites with just sugar until it made peaks. Well, I threw the whole flour mixture in with the egg whites and away we went. I never got peaks but I guess I shouldn't have expected to. I ended up with a more dense cake but since I used a bundt pan (I don't have an angel food cake pan) it worked out. Last time I made angel food cake it overfilled the bundt pan and made a mess of my oven. At least with this I didn't have to clean my oven. And oddly enough my husband said this is the best angel food cake he has ever had.

I'm going to try again.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Good Eats 2: The Middle Years

For anyone who's interested, the next cookbook in the Good Eats series is out! I got my copy yesterday, and I'm so excited to look through it.

Strangely, Amazon still says it's on pre-order and that it's coming out on the 27th, but like I said, I already got mine. So hop on over to Amazon and get your copy!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Good Eats Recipe Rotation Round 2

We've updated the recipe rotation for the next round. Check it out HERE. If that date doesn't work for you, please let us know and we can switch things around.

Cami's Poached Eggs

I should really call this Jason's poached egg. He has used this recipe about 6 times since we started using the Good Eats cookbook. He loves this and I do too. Before this I was a scrambled eggs girl. I didn't really have much interest in anything else. I guess if something is good, why change it. I'm now excited to try a few other ways to prepare eggs. We've been wanting to try using salsa to poach the eggs and make huevos rancheros. Has anyone ever done that?

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Danielle's Poached Eggs

Inspired by Alton Brown's suggestion of eating poached eggs on BBQ pulled pork, we decided to eat ours on shredded BBQ chicken. It was delicious!

I was excited to see this episode in the rotation because I've been wanting to try poached eggs ever since I saw the Good Eats episode about eggs benedict. I wanted to try eggs benedict this week, but I haven't been to the store yet to get the ingredients. That will show up on my menu very soon though. Anyway, I thought poached eggs were supposed to be difficult to make, but these were very easy. Ours didn't all turn out very pretty, but they tasted good.

We made several eggs at a time, so we followed the wide saute pan method. I want to try the sauce pan/whirlpool method sometime. I'm interested to see how the eggs come out differently. Also, I'm not going to cook mine as long next time. I like my yolks a little more runny -- ours came out more like soft boiled eggs.

The Egg Files III: Let Them Eat Foam

This week's episode only has one recipe -- angel food cake. We had a bunch of extra egg whites left over from something else we made, so this was the perfect choice. It's pg. 224 in the book, and you can find the recipe online here.

This recipe gets excellent reviews on the Food Network. A bunch of people said it was fool proof, and I'm inclined to agree. I did a few things differently than the recipe called for and mine turned out great.

Here are the things I did differently --
  • I didn't have cake flour, so I used all purpose flour and substituted 2 Tbsp of it with corn starch (got the idea from one of the comments on the recipe).
  • My eggs were straight from the fridge. Someone told me recently that she's never been able to tell the difference between whipping cold eggs vs. room temperature eggs. But to be safe, I put my egg whites in my mixing bowl and put it over a bowl of hot water to warm them a bit.
  • I used my stand mixer instead of a hand mixer, and it worked out fine.

I used vanilla extract in my cake. I ended up baking mine for a few minutes extra to make sure it was done in the middle. Also, I like it a little extra browned on top (that's the best part!). This cake was delicious. I love the texture and the flavor. And it was easy to make. I can't say it was super quick, but I wasn't very organized when I was making it. It wasn't too bad though. It didn't take me as long as most Baked recipes!

Anyway, if you like angel food cake, this is a good one. Yum!

Tasty Peanut Chicken.

This chicken recipe was good. It was really good, but I don't know why I'm not interested in making it again. Too many steps maybe? I'm kind of in a cooking rut and all about the easy.

Every one liked it. The salsa was sweet and pretty.

Very visually appealing meal.

Flan is Good.

It was so yum I want to go make more. My husband loved it. The kids too. All who touch this, love this.

I used too deep of cups to cook it in. Oh well. It didn't look as good as others, but it all gets chewed up anyways.

I will so make this again.

I made homemade butterscotch for the topping.

I highly recommend it.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Danielle's Big Squeeze Grilled Cheese

No picture. I forgot.

I decided to give the clarified butter a shot so that someone could give an opinion on it. I figured that since I didn't have to stand there and watch it the whole time, I didn't mind how long it took to make. I'm not sure if I did it right because mine didn't come out totally clear (it was pretty muddy looking). I would've had to strain it through cheese cloth or something to get all the burnt butter particles out of it.

But that aside, it worked. Our bread browned nicely and didn't burn. I don't know that I can say it was worth it. I guess if I made grilled cheese often, I would keep some clarified butter in the fridge (but I don't).

One problem we had is that we only have one cast iron pan. For the other pan, we used a heavy bottom stainless steel pan. The pans didn't heat the same, so the top pan was hotter than the bottom pan and we had to turn the heat back on to get our cheese to melt all the way.

We used smoked gruyere and medium yellow cheddar on challah bread. I really liked the sweetness of the challah bread with the cheese. And I loved the addition of the mustard. It was a good sandwich. But like Maren said, I didn't feel so good a little while after eating it. I think that kind of cheese intake will be a pretty rare occurrence for us in the future.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Mission: Poachable

Choosing to poach eggs was rather a spree in self-indulgence on my part, since no one in my house, besides me, would even think of eating one. I should be more sympathetic, since it's only in the last year or two that I came around to anything other than a solidly cooked yolk.

But eating eggs Benedict for brunch at a local restaurant has forever altered me, and I've been wanting to try poaching eggs on my own for a while.

The result was a serviceably poached and decently tasty egg, but I think I'll have to try a few more times (maybe try a deeper pan--I skimped too much on depth since I was poaching only one egg). I think part of the charm of a poached egg is how they look before you stab them with your fork, and mine was a little on the sad side.

Ideally I'd eat a poached egg over a spinach-and-crispy-potatoes salad, but this I time I made do with toast, and sprinkled some leftover Gouda and Gruyere from the cheese sandwiches over it.

Find this and the other poaching recipes here, or on page 187 of the book.

Maren's Grilled Cheese Sandwich

Terribly unappetizing, I know! (I did attempt a photo of a more successful sandwich, but it was too washed out to use.)

Q: Who can ruin a cheese sandwich in 5 seconds flat?
A: Maren!

The making of these sandwiches didn't go very smoothly, as you will have guessed already. I decided to skip the butter clarification as well, but I really regretted not having at least melted it--so after the first disastrous sandwich, that's what I did.

Secondly, I forgot the 'kill the heat' part of the instructions. Oops. The pan was so hot that not only the bread scorched but the pan as well (and I'm not sure it will ever recover).

However, after a few minutes and feeling calmer, I tried again. It turned out that the cheese inside the burnt sandwich wasn't even melted much, so I peeled the ruined bread away and re-used the rest of the sandwich (which made me feel better).

In an effort to keep a long story from getting too much longer, I'll just say that the rest of the sandwiches were edible--tasty, even (if amazingly ugly)--and while I may not really know what to do next time, I definitely know several things NOT to do. My most successful sandwich was squashed with heavy pan and then flipped (per Catherine's method). The traditional method of no squashing over regular heat didn't melt all the cheese. And may I say that 3 oz. is a LOT of cheese for one sandwich? While I enjoyed the flavors of the two cheeses (smoked Gouda and Gruyere) immensely, I paid for it with a stomach-ache later.

Still, the taste of these is hard to resist, so I'll probably have to try again sometime.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Melanie's Grilled Cheese Sandwich

I always love a grilled cheese sandwich. My usual choice of cheese is cheddar so it was fun to try new cheeses. I used the Gouda/Gruyere combo. I love both these cheeses so I thought it was really yummy, especially with the dijon mustard. The only thing is I don't often buy good cheese so I had a hard time paying the high price for just a few sandwiches.

I decided to try the double skillet cooking method but my bread also stuck to the bottom of the top pan. I wasn't using cast iron skillets so maybe the bread won't stick to cast iron? I decided to use my usual old-fashioned cooking method, keeping the pan on the heat and flipping with a spatula. They turned out fine to me.

Also, there was no way I was going to sit and cook butter for 30-40 minutes to clarify it just so I didn't have burnt brown spots on my bread, so I skipped that step. I know Alton says it's worth it, but to me it didn't seem worth it. I did find it interesting to learn about clarifying butter though because I had never heard of that before.

Overall, these sandwiches were really tasty and a nice treat from our usual grilled cheese, but I'll probably stick with my cheddar cheese in the future, mostly due to cost factor. I'll save the gouda and gruyere for more substantial meals!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Jen's Guacamole

I tried Alton's guacamole recipe. It was good. I thought the cumin added a nice smoky note to the recipe but I have to say that I prefer Rick Bayless' recipe.

Here's the link to Rick's version in case you want to try.

I took the guacamole to a family party that took an hour so i just put in a big plastic bowl for transport...sorry its not too pretty ;)

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Maren's Garlic Cloves + Chicken

My husband extremely fond of roasted chicken but requested that I prepare it in the traditional style, so here's what I did different from the recipe:
  • left the chicken whole
  • no pre-cooking on the stove
  • poured about 2 Tbsp. of oil (I think 1/2 c. would've been way too much) in the bottom of the pan before popping the chicken in the oven, in addition to rubbing the bird itself down with oil as the recipe says to
  • cooked about 60 min. at 475°F, basting every 20 minutes or so
The chicken turned out very nicely! It was one of the better roasted chickens I've done--and I don't do it that often; it's a special occasion-type dish for us. Roasting garlic along with it is a great idea for today's supermarket chickens that are perhaps not as flavorful as their eaters would like. Maybe I'll try to work this recipe in a bit more during the winter--it is definitely a cozy dish, and very easy to do. (Plus I love to make chicken broth with bones and skin after the meat's all eaten up and have chicken noodle soup!)

For Whom the Cheese Melts I

This week's episode is For Whom the Cheese Melts I (page 82 in the book). We're big fans of grilled cheese sandwiches here, so the promise of "1 simple, perfect sandwich" was very tempting. There were several differences in this recipe to the way I usually make them. First, Alton Brown suggests using two cheeses, one hard and one soft. I used smoked Gouda and Gruyere. Second, the recipe calls for Dijon mustard and black pepper. I'm not a big fan of either, so I was a little skeptical. Finally, you're supposed to heat up two skillets, then turn them off before putting the sandwich between them to be pressed flat and cooked from both sides at once.

As you can see, there were a few problems. My bread stuck to the bottom of the top skillet, so it fell apart as I was taking it out. Also, the bottom slice of bread was almost completely burned. So for the next two sandwiches I didn't bother preheating the skillets, and I only left the one on top on for a minute or two to flatten the sandwich, then just flipped it to cook the top. Those came out perfectly. I didn't get a picture because, hey, we were hungry, and who wants a cold grilled cheese sandwich?

Of course, the most important thing is how it tasted. I would say they were just about perfect. The smoky cheese flavors and the Dijon mustard were fantastic together (I couldn't taste the black pepper). I'll definitely be making these sandwiches again.

P.S. I didn't clarify the butter. I just can't bring myself to care that much about butter. Although I suppose if I had maybe the sandwich wouldn't have stuck.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Cami's 40 Cloves & A Chicken

This was another hit at our house. It was easy, convenient and had very few ingredients. Although it takes a while to cook the hands on time is minimal. I also bought my chicken pre-divided. The cost seemed to be the same, so why not? I do have one little tip that you may all know already anyway. When peeling the garlic, lay the blade of a large knife horizontally to press down on the garlic until you hear a pop. That is the peel breaking. This makes it much easier to peel.

I never buy chicken with skin or bones. I was surprised how cheap it is when you buy it as a whole chicken. I probably won't switch my ways but I will make this recipe this way again. I did take the skin off one of the breasts because I don't eat the skin and thought it might be easier before I cooked it. This was a mistake. That piece was much drier than the other ones, so in the future I'll just leave the skin on to cook and then remove.

I really enjoyed taking the garlic and spreading it on french bread. I thought it tasted wonderful as did my husband. He ate this for dinner last night, lunch today and dinner again tonight, so I think he likes it.

I wasn't sure if my 12 inch pan could go in the oven. I want to get new pans sometime in the future so I figured if I ruined the pan that would be a good excuse to get a new one. Unfortunately/fortunately the pan did just fine.