Yum Peaceful Cooking: September 2009

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

California Crepe - International Taste Tour

Here we are again.....BakeSpace beeps pulling off another International Taste Tour (formally known as the Coast To Coast Cook-off). This time we chose Crepes.

Ooooooh man, the diversity. Don't ask what you can do with crepes....ask what you CAN'T do with crepes. Seriously, once you've seen what I did, look at the map at the end of this post and see what everyone else did. Great stuff coming your way!

For me...I made a very loosey goosey version that I'll call a California Crepe.


This isn't what I had intended to make when I first started thinking about making my crepes. But it's what I decided to do after visiting a local restaurant for lunch today called Crepe Maker.

OMG...I didn't even know this place existed until today. And what awesome timing!!

So ya.... they have a crepe they make called California Veggie. Only I wanted meat!

Give me meat!!!! You can't have your pudding if you don't eat your meat!
(sorry, Pink Floyd moment)

Anyways....for the actual crepes themselves, I followed Julia Child's recipe.

Did you know that making crepes isn't hard at all??!!! Seriously, I prefer to make crepes over pancakes any day!!! Who would've thunk it?

So, what you need is:
1 cup milk
1 cup water
4 eggs
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups sifted all purpose flour (shit...I totally missed the sifted part, but lets pretend I didn't)
4 Tb melted butter

In a blended (I know, I know...I used a smoothie maker but thats all that was available at the time), combine the milk, water, eggs and salt. Add the flour, then the butter.


Ok, you might notice that I have brown butter in my little melting pan (top right hand picture). I could say that was planned and who'd know, right? but it wasn't...sigh. I was too busy trying to get the darned blender / smoothie maker to stop leaking so I could put my liquids in there. And well....the butter started smelling reeeeeeeaaal good!! Holy CRAP!!! So I turned it off, and removed it from the heat and well, I had brown butter but thats o.k. Brown butter is good stuff!

Anyways....blend everything together for 1 minute. Use a spatula to scape stuff down if needed and blend again for a second of two.

If you have a blender that you trust, then just put it in the fridge as is. I don't. So I poured mine in a bowl and covered it with plastic wrap. Leave it in the fridge for at least 2 hours. (did you see the good company my crepe batter was in? yep...thats a 6pk of coors sitting off to the right.)

Once the batter has been thoroughly chilled for the required 2 hrs (or more), you want to make sure it is just thick enough to coat a wooden spoon. If it seems too heavy Julia says to beat in a bit of water (a spoonful).


Now....get your crepe pan or an iron skillet. btw...I discovered that I do have a crepe pan, but for this dish, I needed crepes that were rather large so I used my largest skillet.

Soooo...rub the skillet with oil and heat over a medium high heat until the pan just begins to smoke. Lift the pan off the heat and pour 1/4 - 1/2 cup of batter into the pan (since I was using a rather large pan, I needed almost 1/2 cup. You'll need to adjust accordingly).

Quickly rotate the pan in all directions so the batter covers the bottom of the pan in a thin film.

Julia says that the first crepe is always a tester....a guinea pig....a sacrifice. It's to test if you have too much batter in the pan, or if the heat is too high or too low. So don't freak out if the first crepe (or 2 or 3) don't turn out.

Like this one...my first. Too much batter so I poured it back into the dish (as Julia instructed).

Kinda messy looking, don't you agree?

I dunno what exactly happened with the 2nd one...either I didn't have enough batter or I didn't dip and turn the pan quickly enough.

But the 3rd time was a charm and I was beginning to really get the hang of it.....


After the batter has been rotated around (should only take about 2 - 3 seconds to complete this whole procedure), put the pan back onto the heat for about a minute or so. Jerk the pan a bit to loosen the crepe (it really works....the thing starts sliding around) and lift the edges with a spatula and check the underside. When it is a nice light brown, it's ready to turn.

I used a spatula and my fingers to turn the crepe.


After another 30 seconds, its ready to come out. Slide it onto a plate and keep warm while you finish up the rest of them. Btw...you'll need to brush on some more oil and let it heat up just until the pan starts to smoke, between each crepe.


I wanted to see...just for fun...if I could flip the crepe.

My first attempt.....


hmmm.....that didn't go so well. But I was able to salvage the little sucker and continue on.

My second attempt landed the same way, but was a little more stubborn....


Geeez....(here sparky!!! sit boy.....no no, this thing isn't worth begging for. Just eat it).

Ok..forget the fancy stuff. Lets finish up these babies. In the end I didn't have enough batter to make a full sized crepe but I didn't want to waste it...so I poured it in....had issues with the pan rotation and ended up with a triangle crepe.

But you know what? I flipped it in the air, perfectly!!! figures
And I smothered that weird little thing with mascarpone and homemade strawberry jam. Holy CRAP!!! That was good!!

Now...all the crepes are made. I'm totally excited. Everything is going great!! woo hoo!

Neeext.....I wanted a nice sauce for my California Crepe and thought Pesto!! ya....creamy pesto. oooh. And...lets give it a little kick.

So here's what I did...

1/4 cup pesto
1/4 cup mayo
1 - 2 Tb horseradish (amount depending on taste)



And check these out!!!


I stopped off at Trader Joes and found a basket of small heirloom tomatoes!! Aren't those the most awesome little things you've ever seen?

Soooo, back to the crepe making. Next I sauteed some chicken strips that I had marinated in some garlic oil combined with lemon juice. Here's what else I added:


Cooked chicken strips
Pesto sauce
Toasted Pine Nuts
Fresh Spinach
Roasted bell peppers
Marinated Sun Dried Tomatoes
Crumbled Goat Cheese
Sliced Olives

Take a crepe and fold it in half (or almost in half)....and start filling it with goodies, in the center, in a V-shape


Fold one side in, creating a cone shape and then fold in the other side to complete the cone shape:


I happen to have these really cool Martini glasses that Sir Sportsalot gave me one year for Christmas. (Only I don't drink Martinis.)

Glad I found a good use for them


Ok...now that you've seen my version, it's time to check out what everyone else did! Play with the map below and take an International Taste Tour to see what other crepe ideas are out there

Monday, September 28, 2009

Poor Mans Stroganoff


Do you remember back in the day....when you're whooole life was ahead of you? You were young, (you're husband was young!!). You were thinking of starting a family and had dreams of grandeur. You had no money, no experience....it was all so new and exciting. And you were in loooove Photobucket

(ok...if you're not a gal or you're still young (and I won't hold it against you much....just humor yourself and keep reading anyway)

And you couldn't cook worth shit. But you're husband said you were the best cook ever. (boy...the things men will say to get a little hanky panky! Photobucket)

Imagine being in your early twenties again (no no....don't get depressed, it's all about those memories). Its a cool night and you're home before the love of your life is and you want to make something good for dinner. Something new but not too difficult. (something that doesn't require pulsing in a blender, making a roux, braising or any of those other terms and "skills" that have yet to be understood or mastered).

Imagine the days when ground beef was a main ingredient and a staple. Hamburgers, hot dogs, mac n cheese in a blue box were all items eaten on a weekly basis for lack of experience and know how. (Do you know what kind of look I'd get if I tried to serve mac n cheese and hot dogs for dinner tonight?? Photobucket )

It was probably a night very similar to that, that had me skimming the pages of my then new Better Crocker Cookbook, thumbing and scouring the "hamburger" section trying to find such a recipe. It had to meet a lot of requirements....

1. It couldn't be too involved or overly complicated.
2. It had to have ingredients that I knew he'd like (or hoped he would)
3. It had to have ingredients that I had in my pantry

And there it was. On page 35: Hamburger Stroganoff!!!

Little did I know back then that it would remain a family favorite over the years. Here I am, 21 years later (oh God...I got OLD!!! shhhhh...don't tell anyone. Least of all ME!! Photobucket )
and I'm still making what I like to refer to as Poor Man's Stroganoff

This is such a simple meal. It's creamy. It's filling. And its inexpensive.


1 lb hamburger
1 medium onion, chopped (about 1/2 cup)
1/4 cup margarine or butter (thank God they said "or" cuz I'm sure all I had was margarine back then LOL)
2 TB flour
1 tsp salt (I use a lot LESS)
1 clove garlic, finely chopped, or 1 tsp garlic salt (there it is again, the ever important "or")
1/4 tsp pepper
1 can (4 oz) mushrooms stems and pieces, drained
1 can (10 3/4 oz) condensed cream of chicken soup
1 cup dairy sour cream or unflavored yogurt (I use sour cream)
2 or 3 cups hot cooked noodles or rice (back then, egg noodles were always used)

Cook and stir hamburger and onion in butter in 10-inch skillet until hamburger is light brown. Stir in flour, salt, garlic, pepper and mushrooms. Cook, stirring constantly, 5 minutes. Stir in soup. Heat to a boiling, stirring constantly; reduce heat. Simmer uncovered 10 minutes. Stir in sour cream; heat through.

Serve over hot noodles and if desired, sprinkle with snipped parsley.

Thats it. Serves 4.

Let me give you a little tip though. All these years, once I add that flour, it sticks to the bottom of the pan. I'd try to scrape it up...or stir more but it always always happens.


So what I do now is add a bit of water or broth to the pan just prior to adding the soup....thus de-glazing the pan and not losing a single bit of flavorful goodness.

Do you have a recipe that you've been making since "the good ole days" that is reminiscent of the times?

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Beef with Burgundy Mushrooms for Salubrious Sunday


Are you shocked? Surprised? Dumb-founded?

Yep...believe it or not, I cooked BEEF! I know, huh? Who would've thunk it. It's a rarity but it does happen on occasion.

I was just, I dunno.......chickened out? hahaha..ya, that was dumb. can't help it. It's late, I'm tired.


2 cups uncooked medium egg noodles (I didn't have egg noodles but I figured those fusilli pastas would work just fine)
1 lb boneless beef sirloin steak (1/2 inch thick), cut into 4 pieces
1 lb fresh whole mushrooms cut into quarters (or if you have those gigonzoe things that I had, maybe 6th or 8ths would be better)
1 10 1/2 oz can of condensed french onion soup (I didn't even know this stuff existed!!)
1/4 cup dry red wine
1 tablespoon cornstarch
3 tablespoons tomato paste with basil, garlic and oregano (I couldn't find any flavored tomato paste so I seasoned it myself)
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
Pepper to taste

Cook and drain the noodles according to package directions...just omit the salt.

While thats going on, heat a 12 inch skillet over medium-high heat with a spray of cooking spray. Add beef and cook for 3 - 4 minutes per side or until desired doneness.


Remove from heat and place on a serving platter, covering to keep warm. Well...yep....you see it right...I used my no-splatter plate guard thingy for the microwave to keep the steaks warm. Worked like a charm!


Now... unfortunately, you will now have to wipe all that flavor off the pan. I really debated on NOT doing this but decided it would just burn with the next step....and you know what? This dish had so much flavor that it wasn't missed.

Ok...heat the skillet again over medium-high heat. Add all those mushrooms....


Damn...thats a lot of shrooms!!!


Ok....so they're in the pan. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. hmmm....I keep hearing Julia in my head..."DON'T CROWD THE PAN!!" errrr.....sorry, they made me do it

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, mix together the soup, wine, cornstarch, tomato paste and oregano

I have a question. I decided to get that tomato paste in a tube. It's really cool!! But this one says that it's double concentrated. Doest that mean when a recipe calls for 3 tablespoons you only have to use 1 1/2 tablespoons??? The tube didn't say. The manufactures website didn't say. So, I played it safe and only used half the amount....


Anyways...mix all that stuff together.


Now...have you been stirring those mushrooms?


After 10 minutes add the soup mixture to the mushrooms and cook, stirring frequently until bubbly and thickened.


Sorry about the foggy pictures. It's really hard to get a picture of something hot, without the steam. I mean...I tried blowing it, but it didn't work.

Ok...now remove from heat, stir in parley and season to taste with pepper


Spoon mushroom mixture over beef and serve with noodles. Very tasty, and full of flavor.

Tada!! A fast and healthy beef for Salubrious Sunday. Btw...I got this recipe from Pillsbury Fast and Healthy Cookbook.

And the stats for 4 servings are:
Calories: 350
Calories from fat: 70
Total fat: 8g
Saturated fat: 2g
Trans fat: 0g
Cholesterol: 95mg
Sodium:720mg (holy crap...didn't see that)
Total Carb: 32g

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Sammy and Fries - A Different Kind of Comfort Food

I got home tonight...Sir Sportsalot was gone, doing sports stuff. One daughter has decided she's not going to eat after 6:00 p.m. Good for her. Too bad I don't get home until 6:30 or so. She has to fend for herself. Which is fine cuz she's almost 18. The other daughter (older) left with friends. All thats left is little ole me.

And what do I make?

Ham sammy on toast and potato wedges. YA BABY!


Of course I'm not going to tell you how to make your ham sandwich. You make it aaaaany way that floats your boat. Me? Simple.

Mayo, lettuce, tomato and avocado.

But I will spread the word on Bob's Oven Baked Potato Wedges. I'm sure most of you have visited Bob's....aka Cooking Stuff. If you haven't...what are you waiting for?!Get your butt over there and see what he has going on. Seriously good stuff. Btw...Bob is another awesome BakeSpace peep...aka beep.

So...this is a no measure recipe.

Eyeball it, baby!!

Take a few potatoes. I used red ones. I think about 6. Cut them in half, then in half again....then in half again....thus making your wedgies. nooooo....not the kind the bully down the street gave you...or the kind you gave your little brother (totally guilty).

Sooo...you got your wedgies all ready. Toss them into a bowl...pour some EVOO over them to coat. Grab a few spices to season them up the way you like it. Tonight I just used S&P, garlic powder (too lazy to do the fresh stuff but it prolly woulda burnt anyway so I don't feel so bad now that I think of it), and some paprika.


Toss it all together so every thing's all nice and evenly coated.

mmm....did I tell you to preheat your oven? Ya....you should do that. 350'

Oh....and when I put them on my non-greased baking sheet...I make sure all the little tater wedges are laying flat on one side....cuz I want cariiiiiiispaaaay!


Bake for about 30 - 40 minutes.


mmmmm....almost done. But not quite
almost done

Now....here's the secret. Crank that oven up to a whoppin 450' and continue to bake for another 15 minutes.


Now THATS what I'M talking about....

Grab your favorite wedgie condiment (DD.....hush!!!) Mine happens to be Ranch. And not just any ole Ranch. I can't stand fast food Ranch in a pouch. I hate store bought bottles of Ranch. But I looooove that Ranch mix where you add a cup of milk and a cup of mayo.....mmmm

Time to eat!

btw, that sucker was HOT! Dropped it instantly after I took the pic. Ya...hot potato.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Minestrone Madness - Blame it on Fannie Farmer

The other day I wasn't feeling well and I wanted soup. I didn't want just plain ole chicken soup.

Wait...maybe thats not what happened (I was sick, and still am, so my facts might be weird). Lets start again:

The other day I wasn't feeling well but I was in the mood to cook something. I came across an old old mini cookbook that use to be my mother in laws: The All New Fannie Farmer Boston Cooking School Cookbook. (complete and unabridged). what does that mean???


I came across Minestrone. It sounded easy enough. And I had everything I needed to make it.

So why did it take me all day?

I took the long way home.

I had a bag of white beans in the freezer that I thought should be used. And I had a bag of veggie cuttings in the freezer waiting to be made into a veggie stock.

Did I mention that I was so yearning for fall that I was desperate to make a comfort food over the weekend before the temps hit in the 100's again (as predicted)? Ya..I was desperate.

So I soaked and cooked 1 cup of beans. I got the veggie cutting bag out of the freezer....


The recipe had called for water. Not broth. But come one....you know broth is going to be much better than plain ole water, right?

So I dumped all those veggies in a stock pot, and loaded it up with seasonings. I let it boil for somewhere between 1 and 2 hrs. Then I strained out the big stuff....and then strained out the little stuff


and I was left with some really good stuff for my Minestrone.

Ok...now that that's out of the way....lets get down to business.

a 2" cube of salt pork, diced
1 onion, chopped fine
1 tablespoon minced parsley
1 garlic clove, minced

Cook and stir for about 10 minutes


Oh ya...I found some more goodies in the freezer....a small bag of cooked, crumbled Italian sausage. So I threw that in as well


Now I was instructed to add a can of tomato paste (hmm..I don't have any. But I do have some crushed tomatoes in the freezer....lets use that) and 2 cups of boiling water or broth.


Simmer for about 15 minutes then add some sort of veggie. Fannie recommended cabbage. I had some mixed veggies that I wanted to see in my soup.

Cook for about 10 minutes. Add the beans along with the bean liquid and stir gently. Bring to a boiling and add 1 cup of elbow macaroni


Cook until just tender. Season with salt and pepper to taste....add more broth or water if needed (and mine needed it).

Fannie says the soup should be very thick.

I forgot to garnish with Parmesan Cheese (blame it on the cold)....but I didn't forget my homemade Italian Style Herb Bread....


Now...this is my very first ever entry for Souper Sundays. With the cold weather (hopefully) around the corner....I know there will be lots of good stuff to be found on Sundays over at Debs Kahakai Kitchen. Not only is she the host of Souper Sundays (soup, salad or sammies) but she's got some great recipes for food and beverages.