Friday, March 4, 2011

What's a galette?

So I'm really behind on posting and I'm going to blame having 2 crappy laptops.  Home laptop is nearly dead; new one is en route to the office.  And I'm not at the office today so that is not helpful.  Work laptop is also a Giant Piece of Garbage so that's my excuse for not posting.  Not 12 hour work days, running 10 miles at a time, volunteering up in LA, etc, that's not at ALL why I've been so busy.  I had to look at my camera for pictures of things I hadn't posted yet, turns out I'm 2 weeks behind.  Whoops.

I don't know how I let the Candied Bacon Chocolate Chip cookies go for so long without posting.  I won't lie, they didn't come out as good as I would have liked, but they were still amazing.  Bacon is my true love.  As is chocolate.  Together?  Wow.  The cookies came out flat which really really irritates me and is why I never make normal chocolate chip cookies - they NEVER come out right.  I am convinced its because they are too simplistic.  Anyway, the flavor combo was right on, but maybe the cookie base just wasn't a the BEST chocolate chip cookie recipe.  But I will continue my quest to put bacon in non-traditional food.  The cookies were pretty popular at the office, someone said they were my best work so far but I strongly disagree.  Good to hear tho!

That same weekend, which was now 2 weeks ago, I made dinner for one of my favorite old coworkers (Adam) and his wife (Brittany).  I had told him I'd make him dinner in lieu of a birthday gift, and his request was steak.  That's one thing I've always left to the experts.  In the past I've bought the wrong cut of meat (cheap) and it doesn't taste that great because it's not meant to be consumed as a steak.  Well this time, I happened to have a package of top sirloin from Omaha Steaks (thank you, new job...this was my Christmas present!).  And if you haven't figured it out yet, I can't do anything "normal" - so I made a rub for the steak to jazz it up a bit.  Although, there is a lot to be said about a simple steak with just salt and pepper.  I used espresso, brown sugar, chili powder, salt and pepper.  I asked A & B if they had any guesses what was on the steak and they had no idea - which I kind of like.  That meant that none of the ingredients were too overpowering.

To go with the steak, nothing is better than a baked potato.  But that's boring.  So I did hasselback potatoes.  I've wanted to make them for a long time and recently saw a tip on how to make them, so it was time.  No recipe required, just patience and a steady handy - neither of which I really have but somehow I succeeded.  Take a RUSSET potato (this is key - a redskin has too much moisture in it) and stick it in the "bowl" of a big spoon.  Slice the potato, but not all the way through, and the spoon will help prevent that.  Brush liberally with butter, sprinkle with sea salt, and bake forever.  At 400 - 450ish for 45 minutes or until the slices spread out and are crispy.  I also brushed it with butter a few times during the baking process.  Apparently this angered my smoke detector for no good reason because the darn thing went off so many times I had to remove the battery.  Who doesn't love showing up to a dinner party at a house where the smoke alarm is going off?!  Oh, and the potatoes are good with a dollop of Daisy.

I also served asparagus- just roasted the way I always do it.  A little bit of olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic powder, 400 degree oven, less than 10 minutes.  Yum.  Here's the final steak dinner...maybe not quite the Best. Ever but still pretty darn good!  I used the leftover steak to make an awesome salad - mixed greens, sliced steak, black beans seasoned up with cumin, garlic, chili powder, and seasoned salt, diced fresh tomato, avocado, and a salsa ranch dressing (salsa + ranch).  Super satisfying!  But no picture because I ate it too fast.

Since I did dessert first, then dinner, I'll do the appetizer last.  Just Parmesan puffs.  They tasted decent, but I didn't find the recipe all that impressive so I won't post it.  They did not PUFF like I would have liked.  These look like cookies! :-/

That was 2 weeks ago.  Last weekend I didn't do much cooking for once.  I had a to-do list of about 4000 things and most were non-cooking related.  And sincee I got most of my list done AND took a day trip to Santa Barbara/Camarillo, it was nice to take a break from the kitchen.

Sadly I did not take a picture of the aforementioned popovers that I had waiting for Rebecca last Sunday morning.  If you've never had a popover, it's basically a big fluffy eggy muffin.  It's just flour, milk, egg & salt.  Bake at high temp, reduce temp, enjoy.  My mom used to make them for holiday mornings.  They are tasty with just a little butter (or spray butter in my case), jam, or honey.  I will make them again soon and post a picture.  Like maybe this Sunday!

I did make something very different - a Blood Orange and Clementine Galette - with the blood oranges that Rebecca brought me from her parent's house.  I'd never had one before!  They are SO pretty - I noticed when I sliced them, the color was more vibrant at the bottom of the orange.  Sweet but tart, too.  So a galette is basically a free form tart or flat pie. I've only made pie crust once or twice, so this challenge was actually intended so I could give it to a neighbor who asked me for a pie crust sample.  Easy as pie (haha, pie!) - but also very easy to mess up.  Luckily I didn't! :)  Roll out pie dough, and add sliced blood oranges and clementines that have been sprinkled with sugar & lemon zest.  Fold up edges of the dough just slightly, brush with egg (although I was too generous here and almost had scrambled eggs on the edge of the time would just use milk), sprinkle with sugar.  I baked it Sunday and then refrigerated it, and on Monday, made a creme anglais.  I didn't get a picture of that, but basically it's like a melted ice cream - this one flavored with cardamom (my first use of that spice, thank you to The Savory Spice Shop in CDM - they had a Groupon that I bought awhile back) and vanilla bean.  A little tricky and also requires patience so the egg yolks don't curdle.  But wow, that was goooood.  It also tasted good on the apple pie that Rebecca made (not the one that was on the floor).

The crust was really good and I would use it again for another "galette" or tart.  The oranges were REALLY tart, and the creme anglais was the perfect way to sweeten it up, but non-melted ice cream would work, too.  I have to say, I was impressed with myself.

And last but not least, I also made my Chocolate Peanut Butter Stuffed Pretzel cookies last weekend, which is actually my own creation.  These are wildly popular for people that like sweet and salty together - and chewy and crunchy and peanut buttery and chocolaty.  Mmm.  I just use a basic Peanut Butter Cookie recipe and then jazz it up.  The key ingredient - those pretzel nuggets filled with peanut butter- BUT - they have to be the chocolate covered kind.  So far I've only found them at one store.  I cut those into quarters (I have no idea how much I use, maybe 2 cups?), and then add half a bag of chocolate chips to the dough.

Phew.  That's it.  Now that I'm all caught up, it's time to get back in the kitchen!  I am DETERMINED to make the Best. Chocolate. Chip. Cookie. Ever so that is definitely in the works for the weekend.  Beyond will just have to wait and see!


  1. Christine,

    Here is a link to the best chocolate-chip cookie recipe I've ever used. The cookies are divine!

    Flat cookies are often the result of using butter that has melted slightly or overmixing - so try attending to those things next time. Also, the age of the baking soda/baking powder could be the problem. It goes bad after a year.

    When I have made cheese puffs, they always seem to puff up better when I use smaller amounts of dough per puff.

    Kim Schafer

  2. Thanks, Kim! I actually had pictued out that exact recipe to test out. I will try getting new baking soda. I usually chill my dough a little bit so I know it's not the butter. Check back Sunday to see how it goes...I can't believe I'm going to mix up dough today that I can't eat until Sunday!

  3. And by pictued out, I mean picked out. Wow.