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Witchin' in the Kitchen's Journal

Monday, May 31, 2010


all further posts will be at ardentfood until I get the website up and running, at which time they'll be at ardentdelirium.com. .net? one of them, I can't remember.

Friday, December 25, 2009

3:05PM - Christmas Eve Dinner and Christmas Day Breakfast

I made Christmas Eve dinner this year instead of Christmas day. My mom brought a tradition from her family, where we eat no meat on Christmas Eve, which means most years we have pierogis, some angel hair pasta, and some sort of fish or some shrimp. THIS year we had:
Swordfish Steaks with Lime MarinadeCollapse )

Shrimp and Pasta in a PotCollapse )

and spinach (steamed, with butter).

The for dessert we had, from Fran Bigelow's Pure Chocolate cookbook, Chocolat au chocolat rolled cakeCollapse )


its really rich, serve with vanilla ice cream or milk to cut the richness.

This morning, I made a recipe of my own devising (though I'm sure its similar to many out there) which I have dubbed Crustless Quiche a la Melanie. all measurements are approximate:
2-3 baked potatoes
2-3 scallions, chopped
1 rasher lower sodium bacon
5 eggs
1/2 cup half and half
1/4 cup romano
1/4 cup parmesan
1 cup shredded mexican cheese blend, split in half

make bacon, let cool. while bacon is cooking/cooling, cube potatoes and chop scallions. Preheat oven to 350 farenheit. beat eggs in bowl with half and half.

after bacon is done, saute scallions for about a minute in bacon grease, then add to eggs. fry potatoes in bacon grease, add to eggs. add parmesan, romano, and half mexican cheese blend, mix in. put in 8x8 pan or 2 qt casserole dish, cook in oven 25-30 minutes. sprinkle remaining mexican cheese blend over top, return to oven until melted. let sit a couple minutes to cool, then slice and serve.


Saturday, July 18, 2009

7:46PM - dinner

Tonight I made dinner: corn on the cob, broccoli and BBQ Lime Pork chops recipe under cutCollapse )

it was pretty darn good. I had a dark and stormy (think cuba libre minus the coke and with ginger ale instead) with it, so it was very limey.

Monday, June 1, 2009

9:50AM - French Toast, and childhood memories.

When I go to my grandmother's house, I always try to make sure I'm there for at least one breakfast. She knows what I want without asking, and if she's feeling up to it, as soon as I walk into the kitchen in the morning, she starts making french toast.

Traditionally, pain perdu, the actually french french toast, is made with stale bread, because its a way of salvaging the otherwise unusable bread. Here in the mid-atlantic region, bread does not get a chance to go stale before it goes moldy, so we usually use fresh bread (although if you are hoping for the bread to soak up more of the egg mixture, place it on a baking sheet and dry it out in a warm oven before dipping the bread in the mixture and frying it). At home, we use regular sandwich bread, and at my grandmother's house, she makes it with bread from the Fenwick Bakery, where my grandfather worked for years before retiring. (Grandmom's is better, both because of the bread and because she won't let us do anything but sit there and eat, so the toast goes straight from the pan to our plates, no waiting, and no cooling of the food.)

Today I made french toast with brioche, a buttery, eggy bread with an almost cake-like crumb to it. I picked it up at work, so its sort of an Americanized version, with sparkling sugar melting into the crust. Making french toast out of brioche follows the same steps as using regular sandwich bread but it yields a subtly different result.

My grandmother taught me to make french toast without making any measurements, so this is more a method than a recipe, but here is how we do it:
for a single serving of two pieces of store bought sandwich bread sized toast, use one egg. Beat it until the yolk and white are combined. Add enough milk to lighten the yellow from yolky to a sort of sunshiney semi-pale yellow. Not as pale as butter, but a couple shades lighter than it had been. Add about half a teaspoon of vanilla, a dash of salt and a spoonful of sugar. Beat, and then soak the bread. Fry the bread until it is brown on both sides (we go a little darker than golden, but not burnt--a molasses color.) To serve, pour a tall glass of chocolate milk (for me) or regular milk (my brother), spread butter all over the hot toast and then sprinkle with cinnamon sugar.

Yes, I said cinnamon sugar. I know most people use maple syrup, powdered sugar, or fruit, but we have always used cinnamon sugar. The first time I ordered french toast in a restaurant, boy was I disappointed! Syrup is for pancakes, in my opinion. I never questioned why we use cinnamon, until this morning. I asked my mom, and she told me that when she was a kid, maple syrup was way too expensive for her family to afford, especially when feeding 4 children, 3 of whom were boys, hearty breakfasts every day. They bought King Syrup, a locally produced molasses-based syrup for their pancakes, and used cinnamon-sugar on their french toast just like they did on their regular toast. My grandfather still likes to put karo syrup on his pancakes sometimes, although they buy regular maple syrup for their grandchildren to use. When I was a kid, I remember trying pancakes with the Karo and liking it, though its a very different flavor than maple syrup, but I tried it a few years ago and no longer enjoy it. As my grandmother loves to point out when one of her grandkids doesn't want to eat something, tastebuds change.

The brioche, unsurprisingly, yields a slgihtly eggier, more buttery french toast, and despite the slices being much smaller than regular sandwich bread or the Fenwick bread, they're more filling. At home I'll eat two pieces of sandwich bread, at Grandmom's I'll eat 4 to 6 pieces of bakery bread. I made 5 pieces of brioche french toast, but could only eat two and a half. It's very good, but very filling. A rich treat for the occasional brunch.

Monday, May 11, 2009

9:32PM - Hot Chocolate

So here in DC its May; sunny, delightful--wait no, its been rainy and miserable 9 out of the past 11 days. But even if it were 90 degrees outside, I'd be pretty likely to have hot chocolate/cocoa at least once a week. I love it. I am obsessed with it. And I don't have to be cold to drink it.

I tried to start a diet the last week in April, because I tend to eat mostly non-veggie carbs and protein, and that's not a balanced diet. I'm not good at denying myself, particularly when it comes to sweets and bread, but I tried. I did okay for about two weeks. Then after a migraine, I NEEDED some ice cream. That was the end of the diet. Boy was that the end. But while I was still being good I bought diet hot chocolate mix from Swiss Miss.

Don't do that unless you hate yourself. We've always done Swiss Miss in our house, although the past few years we've been doubling up the packets to make it more chocolatey, and I make it with milk (though my mom stands by using water). The diet Swiss Miss tastes fine doubled--until you swallow. So just skip it.

I also bought Bellagio Sipping Choocalte for really stressful days. It is much MUCH better. To make hot chocolate with it, you heat up 6 ounces of milk and then add 3 tablespoons of the mix to the milk. Then add sugar or syrup to taste. The first few times I drank it, I did without sweetening it. Its slightly bitter but entirely rich, something you want to slowly savor, not gulp down. Tonight I added a spoonful of sugar, and it's delightful. Rich, but without that bitter note (not that there's anything wrong with bittersweet chocolate!! or any chocolate...) When I get to the end of the cup, there are even, somehow, some mild marshmallow notes.

Earlier today, I made Alice Medrich's Rich Hot Chocolate (I told you I love the stuff!)
Recipe under the cutCollapse )
I only made 1/3 of the recipe, since it was just me, using semisweet ghiradelli chocolate. It was like melting the bar and drinking it, only not as thick. This is definitely a recipe for chocolate you REALLY like, and I think it was a touch to sweet with that particular chocolate, but it was also really good. When you make cocoa from a mix, there's an off white scum that forms on the surface (any cocoa will have a scum, really, from the fat rising to the top) because a lot of the fat in cocoa mixes are from dried milk powder. Both Bellagio's and Alice Medrich's hot chocolate have a richer, darker scum, because the fat is from the chocolate (moreso for Alice Medrich's--I think there is a small amount of milk powder in the Bellagio)

in conclusion, yay hot chocolate! boo, diet.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

9:54PM - Alice Medrich's Best Cocoa Brownies

So, today I made brownies. They are delicious. Seriously, I added chocolate chips and its almost too much chocolate. These brownies are amazingly fudgy--they're literally a step off from fudge, texture-wise. Amazing. I didn't take pictures, but I'll give you the recipe, and tell you not to grease the foil/parchment now matter how afraid you are that the brownies will stick--they so will not, and you'll end up with boiling oil foaming in the corners of your 8 inch square pan.

amazing brownie recipeCollapse )

Saturday, December 27, 2008

8:43AM - The Results

photosCollapse )

8:36AM - Roast Broccoli

I got this recipe from The Amateur Gourmet, Adam Roberts. He calls it "The Best Broccoli of Your Life." I don't think my dad was thrilled with it, but he ate it, so it wasn't terrible ;) I thought it was great, but not the best. (We like mushy-ish broccoli, generally. Sorry Adam!) I was a little distracted, and a lot of the precooking photos turned out blurry. But there are a couple photosCollapse )

8:18AM - Roast Duck with Raspberry Sauce

This recipe, too, is from the 12th edition of the BHG cookbook. After I finished with the relish, I prepared the veggies for the salad and then moved on to preparing the duck. As I had my hands all over and inside the (4-6 pounds of) raw bird, there are no pics. But I pulled out the offal (neck, gizzard?, heart and liver) and rinse the duck in cold water, inside and out, then patted dry with paper towels. I pinned the neckflap to the back, and made mom help me tie the legs to the tail (those legs were just not interested in hanging out with the tail!) I popped it on a rack in a roasting pan (oven preheated to 350 F) carefully salted and peppered it, and shoved that baby in the oven. Then I made the sauce.

Recipe and PhotosCollapse )

8:06AM - Cranberry Relish

Right after I finished the mousse, I started on the Cranberry relish (to make sure it had sufficient time to chill--this was around 12:30pm, and dinner was to be at five, but started cooking everything else around 3:30, so I wanted to get it done early.)

This recipe is also from the 12th Edition of the BHG cookbook. If you are serving fewer than 6 people, halve it! we had way too much. But I'd keep the cinnamon the same, you couldn't taste it much, or maybe double it if you do the full recipe.

Recipe and PhotosCollapse )

7:46AM - Cranberry Orange Compote with White Chocolate Mousse

This recipe is from Canelle et Vanille, and is found here. This was another two-dayer; I made the compote Christmas eve, and the mousse on Christmas morning, after the hullabaloo died down. Since I linked you to the recipe, I'll skip that and move on to the photosCollapse )

Friday, December 26, 2008

11:02AM - Cranberry-Raspberry Salad

This is the first of several Christmas Dinner posts-I'll do a post per dish served, I think, with recipe and pictures included.

This year the theme was cranberry/raspberry, and resulted in all Christmas-color food!

I started working on Christmas Eve, with the salad dressing for the Cranberry-Raspberry Salad. The recipe is from the 12th Edition of the New Better Homes and Gardens Cook Book.
recipe and photosCollapse )

Thursday, December 4, 2008


Yesterday I made these muffins for a class party today. The prof asked that we bring something that would only feed 10-12 people since there are so many people bringing stuff, because we'd still have tons left over. I brought in 9 of the 10 muffins (I had one for breakfast) and had 5 left over (Although I managed to get rid of them in another class)...
the recipe turned out great, but I think I'll add some cinnamon next time--the nutmeg was great, but on its own with the vanilla its a little plain tasting. Also, I only sugared the tops because I hadn't looked at the post in a while (the recipe's saved to my desktop) and the recipe says to butter the tops of the muffins, and I thought that meant to only sugar them, too. but still--very good, and they'll be even better next time. I had to bake an extra 4 minutes because the back of the oven is warmer than the front, so after the initial bake time when the tester came out with crumbs, I turned the muffin pan around and let it set a while longer. they came out of the pan really easily, and they cool to touch pretty quickly--I wore an oven glove to butter and sugar them, but after the first couple I didn't need to.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

2:26PM - a failure and a success

Yesterday I made--wait no. Yesterday I attempted to make caramel sauce. Specifically, this caramel sauce from King Arthur Flour's recipe colelction. Note that the recipe says "The directions for this sauce look a bit fussy at first glance, but follow them carefully and you’ll do just fine." It turns out that no, if you follow the directions carefully, you will not do just fine, at least not if you are me. Which I am.

Here's how it went down:
I placed the sugar, salt, and water into a 2 and a half quart capacity pot. I stirred it, I heated it over medium high heat, stirring to help it along, and it boiled. I brought it down to medium and watched carefully. That's where things went downhill.

It didn't turn golden on the edges. or in the middle. or anywhere. After about 15 or 20 minutes, I turned up the heat to where it was when I set it to medium high, and very very very very slowly, over 20 minutes or so, the mixture started to...not turn golden. but it did start to thicken and crystalize on the edges. I stirred edges into the center occasionally. eventually, the mixture did start to darken. then it stopped bubbling entirely, and after a few minutes did actually turn dark amber. I took it off the heat and added the butter.

That's where things got worse.

the syrup turned into a big solid blob of grainy caramel. The recipe recommends stirring until the butter is absorbed. unfortunately, only about a third of the butter got absorbed, and only in those first seconds, turning the caramel into a solid chunk of blob. after attempting to stir for a while, I eventually poured out the excess butter and added the cream. a little cream got absorbed but again, not much, and it was impossible to stir. I tried putting it back on the heat, but it didn't help. I poured out the cream and tasted what was left. it was delicious but grainy caramel that I could not, in any way, pour over anything. It was also too grainy to bother salvaging for chewing on, and also liekly to harden into werther's type caramel candy rather than kraft caramels...I dumped it in the trash.

I'd blame humidity, but isn't that supposed to make candy unable to set, rather than enable super-setting? also I had the A/C and dehumidifier on.

Today, I attempted a recipe I made back in December from Fran Bigelow's cookbook Pure Chocolate. That time, I used it mainly to make delicious, rich hot chocolate. It's for dessert-topping this time around.

Deepest, Darkest Chocolate Sauce
1 Cup heavy cream
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup corn syrup
3/4 cup cocoa (Dutch processed)

First, sift the cocoa into a mixing bowl. You'll be pouring the liquids into it, so make sure its big enough.
Next, stir the cream and sugar in a heavy saucepan, and place over medium heat. Stir occasionally to dissolve the sugar. When it is dissolved, add the corn syrup. Bring it to a boil, and once it boils, take it off the heat. Pour half the cream mixture into the cocoa, and whisk until smooth. add second half, whisk again until smooth. Then pour through a fine sieve back into the pot. heat over low heat until large bubbles form and the surface is glossy (both times I've done it, I got glossy without the bubbles, but it seems fine as it is super tasty)

remove from heat, cool slightly. serve warm. can be kept in the fridge for up to 2 weeks. use on ice cream, pound cake, fruits, whatever. or if its chilly where you are, a spoonful or two in milk heated on the stovetop makes an amazing cup of hot cocoa. it makes about a cup of chocolate sauce, according to the measurements on my mason jar

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

5:00PM - Lime Souffles

So last week I made a white chocolate key lime tart, and that recipe calls for 8 egg yolks. I froze the whites for future use (well, 5 of them anyway--I'm not totally perfect at separating the yolk from the white) and that future use was the Bakingbites.com Lime Souffles.

Mine did not look as beautiful as the one pictured at the link, but damn did they taste good. There was a minor snafu, though. I have never eaten a souffle before, so I don't really know how its supposed to be, but I don't think how mine turned out is quite right. It still tasted awesome though, so. uhm. that's okay, right?

pictures and elaborationCollapse )

My theory about the error is that I did not fold the whites and lime mixtures well enough. Adam's is that I didn't bake long enough. Either way, there was a delightful cloud of meringue on top of delicious but jelly-ish lime goop (kinda like when jello is partly set but not yet solid). again, very tasty. but I think not right. Questions, comments, suggestions? Especially that last one, please!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

7:13PM - White Chocolate Key Lime Pie redux and Seared Scallops and Citrus Risotto

All my pictures got deleted by a mistake on my part. sorry.

So I made a second attempt at the key lime pie I made for christmas. if you recall, I had some issues with the crust, which was too tough and hard and wouldn't roll out properly.

today, it behaved perfectly. I put it in the tart pan, and then after trimming the excess, stuck it in the oven, realized it wasn't docked, docked it, and then continued the baking. and I baked the excess in a pie pan and sampled them when they were done and oh my god YUM.

I made it with splenda this time, so newly diabetic dad can have it. it has an aftertaste, but its not too bad with the strength of the lime flavor.

then I made Amateur Gourmet's Seared Scallops with Citrus Risotto. Official verdict: eh. the risotto itself was good, but the grapefruit was too bitter, and having the fruit segments in there was weird, texturally. so if I ever make it again, I'll use the juice instead. but the scallops were lovely.

47 minutes until key lime tart woo

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

11:15AM - Christmas Dinner

So yesterday was Christmas, and I made Christmas dinner. It was largely a success, although I still don't have the hang of getting everything done at the same time. But the making really started last week. Dessert was Fran Bigelow's Key Lime White Chocolate Tart, and called for a chocolate cookie dough for the crust (its like a pastry crust, in that you roll it, but its made of cookie dough) so last week I made and chilled the dough. Christmas Eve, we couldn't find our tart pan, so I got a pie pan out, and I rolled the dough. (Pictures unavailable, because my camera was broken. got a new one for christmas)

and then I tried to roll it onto my rolling pin to put it in the pan.

and then it fell apart.

and then I did it again three times, with the same results.

so I ended up grabbing pieces of the rolled out dough and sort of quilted them into the pie tin. so it was REALLY ugly. and then I blind-baked it. the recipe didn't say to use weights, so I didn't, and got a big blister, but oh well. it was already ugly.

Christmas morning after presents, I made the filling. I separated my eggs, chopped my chocolate, got sugar and key lime juice (alas, key limes are hard to find!) Sugar, yolks, and egg juice went in a pot on the stove. It took FOREVER to thicken up, and the directions said to keep it on the heat until a boil just almost starts, but that never happened. It was really thick when I said, fine, thats fine, dammit! and took it off the heat/ I stirred in the chocolate, and then softened butter, and after lots and lots and lots of stirring, poured it into the crust and stuck it in the fridge to firm up.picCollapse )

Then I goofed off for a few hours and ate some cookies.

around 3 I trimmed and washed my green beans, and chopped my onion, because I wanted to have everything done before I did my risotto, since I'd be standing there stirring for a half hour straight.

Just before 5 I put a pot of lo-so chicken broth on to boil and got the birds ready, including quartering an orange to fill the cavities. got those little bastards in the roasting pan, stuffed them with orange wedges and onion slices, and stuffed 'em in the oven with unsalted butter on the skin. then I made the risotto and put the water for the beans on the stove. And then I stirred and stirred and stirred. I took a few occasional pauses, to open the oven and move the birds so they don't stick, to rotate the pan, to grab the parmesan I forgot to get out of the fridge beforehand, and the risotto didn't suffer, so thats cool.
Risotto and BeansCollapse )

Got the beans and risotto done at the same time, covered them with foil, and pulled the birds out. The recipe said it would take 20 minutes in a 500 degree oven to cook, and I had done them for 30 because our oven is tetchy. (We couldn't find our probe thermometer, so I was sort of working blind) pulled them out, made the sauce, served salad of semi-bitter greens with an orange balsamic vinagrette and cranberries, and then plated the meal. the hens on a platter, and the plated mealCollapse )

the dark meat was not done, but the breasts were perfect. Argh! back into the oven they went, and we ate our sides while we waited. It took about 10 more minutes, and then the dark meat was perfect and the breasts were dry, but oh well!

afterwards, dad did dishes while mom put away the food. picCollapse )

I pulled out the pie to get it to room temperature.PUNCH AND PIE! without the punch.Collapse )

when dad finished the dishes (it took FOREVER!) we had pie.
pac man, what are you doing with that knife?Collapse )

I had never had key lime pie, risotto, or game hens before, and had obviously never cooked them before either. But they all turned out pretty good. The pie is like eating really strong lemonade, I think. the crust was too hard to eat with the fork (its like a hard cookie, you know? a slightly over-baked hard cookie. next time I make this pie, I'll do a chocolate cookie crust more like a graham cracker one, rather than cookie dough masquerading as pie dough) anyway, it all tasted good and I didn't have to do dishes, so yay that!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

9:59AM - holiday meal possibilities

Cranberry Roasted Garlic Risotto

Mexican Corn Stuffing Casserole

Winter Squash with Cranberry Risotto

Polenta Spinach Casserole

Broccoli Rabe with Almonds and Orange Vinaigrette Steam chopped broccoli rabe in a little white wine until tender and the wine has evaporated. Add olive oil and stir until the broccoli rabe is coated. Top the broccoli rabe with chopped marcona almonds, orange sections and a simple dressing made with fresh orange juice, finely grated orange zest, olive oil, Dijon mustard and a pinch of grated nutmeg. —Edward Lee at 610 Magnolia in Louisville, Kentucky

from food and wine

Creamed Edamame and Pearl Onions

Broccoli, Cauliflower, and Carrots with Parmesan Breadcrumbs

Citrus Green Beans

Creamed Citrus Spinach

Individual Roasted Cornish Game Hens

Cornish Game hens, Moroccan Stylee

Current mood: too many choices and ideas and stuffs.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

9:51PM - chicken dinner

so my mom has been having issues eating lately. I asked her around 3 if she'd eat if I fixed dinner, and she agreed to do so. I fixed this, but I had to tweak the recipe a little. I knew there was OJ in the fridge but when I went to pull it out it turned out to have expired...in march...of last year. hooray for my mom, ladies and gentlemen, buying stuff she doesn't use and refusing to throw it out! brava. so since I have been on a total cherry juice kick lately, I subbed that in (and we had no rosemary, so that was skipped) served over rice with edamame on the side (soybeans). very tasty and mostly moist (the smaller end of my breast was dry, but it makes sense since its thinner and thus cooks faster) mom ate a decent amount, and it was low sodiumy for me. also, we only did a half-recipe, since its just the two of us tonight.

by the way, cherry juice is really yummy. I don't like cherries, but I like their juice!

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

9:43PM - cheesy chicken roll up thingy

so yesterday for lunch I made a low sodium chickeny cheesey dish thing. It was fun, I got to pound the chicken breasts with a big metal mallet, and rolled them up with slices of swiss cheese (which, btw, are easier to slice evenly if you have a cheese slicer thing. my cheese slices were all uneven) and secured them with toothpicks. then I rolled them in melted (unsalted) butter and then in low sodium breadcrumbs, and put them in a glass loaf pan (like a mini casserole pan) and poured wine up to a quarter of the way up the chicken rolls (which turns out to be way too much wine by the way, it tasted all...winey) and then I poured the rest of the butter over them because butter, yum. they tasted pretty good but kinda bland, next time I'll rub the breasts with spices pre rolling and breading. also I want to try stuffing the breasts instead of pounding them out and rolling them up, because its probably easier to just cut a slot and fill it with cheese. cooked 40 minutes at 350 (although our oven runs cool, so it was closer to 325) and it was perfect, but microwaving it later it was way dry.

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