Weekend Cookbook Challenge #10 – Neglected Gadgets

In this round of the Weekend Cookbook Challenge, we’re asked to cook a recipe with a kitchen gadget or appliance that I rarely use.

Rice Cooker

In my case, that appliance is my rice cooker. I’ve had it a couple of years now – it was purchased because my rice never comes out well when I make it on the stovetop or in the vegetable steamer I have. I got a great deal on it through Amazon.com, but unfortunately I haven’t used it nearly enough to come anywhere close to recouping the cost. I guess I just haven’t been eating much rice lately. I’m usually more prone to making pasta or potatoes, and the rice-making is usually reserved for the few times a year I make fried rice or something else Asian.

Bourbon Chicken over Rice

So browsing through Recipezaar, I came across a recipe for Golden Corral Bourbon Chicken, which I like. I noticed two things about the recipe, which means I probably won’t use it again. First, WAY too much bourbon. It would probably be good with half as much. Second, be sure to use chicken thighs instead of chicken breast, because it dried out like nobody’s business. Next time around, I’ll probably use this recipe, which seems to be very highly rated.
Any of you have a recipe for bourbon chicken that tastes like the stuff in the mall food court??

Be sure to check out the Weekend Cookbook Challenge site for a round-up of other entries after November 3rd.

Friday Round Up 9/22/06

Congratulations to (sorta) local food blogger Barbara of Tigers & Strawberries on the birth of her beautiful new daughter Kat.


This week, Columbus Dispatch readers voted Giammarco’s as the best spaghetti in town. Can’t say I’ve ever heard of the place, I’ll definitely need to check them out. Now, they want your input on who has the best beef brisket in Columbus. My vote definitely goes to City Barbeque! Cast your vote and be entered to win a restaurant gift certificate.

Let’s just suffice it to say that my chicken soup experiment earlier this week was a total failure. Which is odd, because usually even though my chicken soup doesn’t usually come out great, it at least tastes better than dirty dishwater. Next time around, I’m definitely going to use Meghan of Bay Area Bites recipe for Shiksa Matzo Ball Soup.

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Inspired by this post by Tania of The Candied Quince, I made a Rahmapfelkuchen (note: link broken so recipe below):

Rahmapfelkuchen

Rahmapfelkuchen

Crust:
1 ½ c. all purpose flour, sifted
5 tbsp. sugar
1 tbsp. grated lemon zest
2/3 c. butter
1 large egg yolk
1 tbsp. milk

Filling:
½ c. bread crumbs
2 tbsp. butter, melted
4 c. tart apples, sliced
1 tbsp. lemon juice
¼ c. sugar
¼ c. seedless raisins, soaked in ¼ c. rum for ½ hr
¼ c. rum
3 large eggs, beaten
1/3 c. sugar
1 ¾ c. milk

To make crust, mix flour, sugar and lemon rind. Cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add egg yolk and 1 tbsp. of milk, mix gently to form a dough. Pat into bottom of a 10 inch springform pan that has sides only greased. Press dough up sides of pan for 1 inch.

To make filling, toss together bread crumbs and melted butter. Spread evenly over pastry crust. Toss apple slices, lemon juice, and ¼ cup of sugar. Spread apples over crumbs. Drain raisins, reserving rum, and sprinkle raisins over apples. Bake in a preheated 350F oven for 15 minutes. Beat eggs and sugar until thick and lemon colored. Stir in milk and reserved rum. Pour custard over apples and bake for 45 to 60 minutes at 350F until custard is set. Cool completely before serving. Do not remove springform pan sides until cool.

and inspired (to the point of actually going out and buying bananas to purposely let them overripen) by Faith’s Ultimate Banana Bread at Mekuno Cooking, I made three loaves of banana nut bread:

Banana Nut Bread

My pics didn’t come out nearly as pretty as either of theirs, but the desserts sure tasted good! The recipes for both can be found on their blogs. If this is indicative of the cooking skills of other food bloggers, then I’m certainly impressed!

Must have this. I love fresh soft pretzels, but mine always come out looking mutated. I know what Alton says about unitaskers, and this is a unitasker if there ever was one, but I’m still tempted.

It never ceases to amaze me exactly how much I have to learn from other food bloggers. The amount of information out there is staggering, and each week I’m humbled by the knowledge of everyone else. For example, Maria from Garlicster gives us a lesson on the different types of garlic. I just discovered hardneck garlic this summer through the CSA I belong to. I’d love to try the taste test myself. Ditto with trying different types of honey.

Maki from I was just really hungry tells us how to navigate a farmer’s market. Even though she lives in Switzerland, her advice applies no matter what part of the world you’re in.

Love, love, love this post on Slashfood that informs us how and where to store produce in a handy printable chart. Needless to say this is getting printed out and stored on my fridge. Speaking of Slashfood, I have tons of leftover rice from making fried rice last night, I really need to use it up by trying this recipe for rice pudding. I’ve never had any success with making rice pudding before (it always turns to scrambled eggs before it’s done), but this seems worth trying because it doesn’t call for any eggs and the picture looks so yummy and creamy.

Also love the concept highlighted by Miss Ginsu The Hedonista in her post earlier this week about local growers who offer online ordering. Of course, my dream store would have nothing but local produce and meat and dairy, and all other items for sale would be produced by local artisans. A girl can dream, can’t she? The farmer’s markets come close, but I’m thinking of something indoors that isn’t dependent on the farmers being there to man the stands.

I’ve been wondering what to do to promote my blog around town – meaning, sometimes when I talk to different vendors, people I run into, etc. in the course of normal conversation it comes up that I have a food blog, which always leads to them asking for my URL – so at that point, its a mad scramble through a messy purse to find a pen and some scrap paper to write down the URL. I’ve been playing around with the idea of printing up some business cards at home with just the URL on them. And then I ran into this. Flickr MiniCards. This is PERFECT. Food porn on one side, my URL on the other. You can get 10 free if you have Flickr Pro, or order 100 for $20. It’s a bit tricky to crop my existing pics to fit the format of the cards, but then again, it gives me a whole new ratio to take pictures in, too. I went with 4 each of 25 different pictures, but you can choose as many or as few pictures as you want.

I am really, really, really craving red meat. Steak. Medium rare. I don’t usually like sauces sullying up my steak, but this recipe for Filet Steaks with an Irish Whisky & Cream Pan Sauce from Sheri at Pork Cracklins has got me drooling. And Lord have mercy, a spinach salad on the side would truly hit the spot.

Speaking of spinach. I wanted to save this part for last, as I’ve got quite a bit to say on the matter, much of which has been said by so many others, and much more eloquently than I could ever put it.

I’m not making light of the people who have gotten really sick or died because of the E. coli outbreak, but personally, I think this whole spinach thing has gone from what should have been a limited recall, to out and out hysteria and overreaction. The fearmongering of the media and regulatory agencies has made it so that I likely won’t see any fresh spinach salads for far into the future. I don’t know if spinach is in season currently in Ohio, but if it is, I’m definitely going to buy my share. On the news tonight, they said that fresh spinach won’t be offered in stores until current harvesting and processing methods are improved. Frozen spinach just doesn’t cut it. This just reinforces my belief that eating local is the best. I trust my local farmers. I have much more to say on the whole subject, and am still trying to think and process the whole thing in my mind.

Until next week, folks…

Food Blogging Event: Favorite Kitchen Gadgets

Le Creuset cookware collectionPamela at Posie’s Place is hosting a one-off food blogging event called Favorite Kitchen Gadgets, where she’s asking food bloggers to talk about “the kitchen gadget or kitchen tool you just couldn’t live without, your most used kitchen toy or your most unusual/treasured kitchen gadget or tool and the reason why.”

My choice was fairly easy, as this item (or bunch of items, technically) are things I use in my cooking just about every day – my Le Creuset cookware collection, of which only part is in this picture. I’ve been cooking since I could reach the knobs on the stove myself (even before that, with the supervision of my great-grandmother). One of the things that I noticed as an adult is that they just don’t make things like they used to: cookware, appliances, clothes, anything really. And during all of that time, I wished that I would have kept all of the “old” cookware that I had so stupidly got rid of for the new and shinier modern models in my early 20′s. So for the past decade, I’ve had to deal with handles falling off of my pots and pans, teflon coating chipping off even if metal didn’t come within a foot of the pan, uneven cooking, the inability to transfer my cookware from stove to oven, etc. I’ve bought set after set of no name brands, T-Fal that lasts maybe a year, etc. And noticed that the stainless steel stuff that my husband had brought with him into the marriage (a hand me down from his parents) looked the same as the day we got married.

It was then that we decided we were no longer going to sacrifice quality for price, and it’s pretty much been our attitude in just about everything we buy these days, but specifically when it comes to cookware and knives. I have noticed Le Creuset in professional kitchens, and saw how well they held up, and lusted after them for a while. I got my first piece (the big 13+ quart monstrosity on the bottom, which I use all the time) about 2 years ago, when it was marked down to $189.99 on clearance at Amazon.com. Very pleased with its performance, I’ve been slowly adding pieces over the years. I got all of the other pieces shown at the North Market at very discounted prices, and not shown (in my cabinets) are a bigger pan, a grill pan and panini press, and a tagine. I *love* these, and they’re worth every penny because they cook and brown wonderfully, heat evenly, and make the best stews ever. They’re cast iron with an enamel coating. I can forsee these lasting for years – I just wish I had some children to pass them on to, because I know they’ll still be around 40 years from now.

My New Toy

I’m so excited! I have a new toy to play with, thanks to Kay at North Market Cook Ware. While browsing around the North Market today, I saw that she had some tagines for sale, so I stopped in to look around. The one tagine was missing its recipe book, and I got a nice 25% discount off of the sale price, which brought the price to $40 less than I’ve seen it anywhere else. :) I’ve bought most of my Le Creuset from there, and have been quite happy with all my purchases.

Tagine

The lighting is a little off, but it gives you an idea of what it is. I’ve been wanting one for a while. Off to find some tagine recipes (the benefit is, the size of it is just right for two people).