Thursday, December 28, 2006

holiday recap-kinda random

Sorry I've been a slowpoke on this thing. I've actually been cooking quite a bit. A couple weeks ago, I made my very first Roasted Chicken!! I can't believe it took me so long to try that. It's so easy. I used Nigella's method of rubbing the bird with salt, pepper and butter, sticking a lemon "up it's bum" and cooking for 15 minutes per pound plus 10 minutes. Voila. Juicy delicious chicken.

In fact, that's what I made for Christmas dinner. As I side dish I made roasted brussel sprouts. I love brussels sprouts, but that was my first time using fresh instead of frozen, as well as my first time roasting them. Mmmm-mmm! Maybe I should just roast everything from now on. Roasting is da bomb. The sprouts were kind of sweet, buttery...just darn good. Apparently roasting is a good method...even brussel sprout non-lovers are coverted by this method. Oh, and speaking of brussel sprouts...TURTLE FARTS!!!! that story is kinda cute, dontcha think?

So, today I tried my first scone. I know! I never was tempted...they don't look all that appealing to me. But I tried a St. Louis Bread Co. (Panera for out-of-towners) Golden Raisin one. And it was soooo good! Who new?!? Scones are yum! But, hence, it's almost a new year....holidays winding down and all that, so the nutrtion info on that particular scone isn't terrible, but If I make my own I can drop that fat and calorie content a bit. One recipe I found is Pear and Cardamom scones. I've got plenty of cardamom, and the sweetheart has been on a pear kick lately. These cranberry ones are gonna have to make an appearance also. These don't look too tough too make. They seem to be one step up from quickbreads and simple cookies, but not as scary (for me) as bread. I got a bunch of green tea as a gift...scones will go nicely, eh?

I've been enjoying being a Crockpot owner. I made the Fennel and Sage Pork I had on my links list. It was good. I subsituted Pork shoulder roast for pork loin, though, because loin? Hella expensive. Isn't the whole point of slow cooking that you can utilize the fat and connective tissue of the tougher cut of meat anyway? Yup. It turned out plenty moist. Same with our chuck roast and Jack's BBQ brisket/chuck roast combo.

The most fun crock pot thing we've made for is a recipe from the book Not Your Mother's Slow Cooker Recipes. It's delish chocolate lava brilliant thingy that our friend was generous enough to let us cook at her house while we all went out to dinner even though she is pretty terrified about heating elements left on while she's away...hopefully the wine and laughing and good food helped calm her anxieties...The result was worth it. Served over ice cream, it was chocolatey, warm, and rich. Here's the recipe ('cept in place of sweet cocoa powder I used unsweetened, and instead of crushed sweet chocolate I used finely chopped dark chocolate bar...Dark is the way to go...):

Hot Fudge Spoon Cake

3/4 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup sweet ground chocolate, such as Ghiradelli
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 cup sweet cocoa powder, such as Ghiradelli
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 1/2 cups boiling water

Vanilla ice cream or coffee frozen yogurt for serving.

1. Coat the slow cooker with butter-flavor non-stick cooking spray
2. In a medium size bowl, whisk together the flour, ground chocolate, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Make a well in the center, add the milk, melted butter, and vanilla, stir the liquid ingredients until well blended, and continue stirring in widening circles, gradually incorporating the dry ingrediaents, until you have a smooth batter. It will be thick. Spread evenly in the cooker.
3. To make the topping, combine all the ingredients in another medium size bowl and wisk until smooth. Gently pour over the batter in the cooker; do not stir. Cover and cook on HIGH until puffed and the top layer is set, 2 to 2 1/2 hours.
4. Turn off the cooker and let stand, covered, for at least 30 minutes before refrigerating or serving right out of the cooker.
5. To serve, scoop the cake into individual bowls. Add a scoop of vanilla ice cream or coffee frozen yogurt alongside the cake. Spoon some of the fudgy pudding at the bottom over the cake and ice cream.

The restaraunt we went to on that night, BTW, was the Pitted Olive. What a neat little place. A small hubby and wife operation with really good food. A small menu, with the chicken, pork and trout specials changing nightly. It's almost the kind of place I'd like to run someday with my babycakes. He cooks and controls the menu, I greet and host and decorate and wait and help develop the wine list and menu....We'll be going back. the food was impressive, and not expensive.

That's about all I can think of for my holiday recap. Oh! I got a new digital camera for Christmas, so expect even more food porn.

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