Tuesday, May 26, 2009

My episode on FoodNetwork!

I have a lot of posts to make up on, I know.  This is my last week on DJ and the Fro so I'll be catching up after that. :)

But in the meantime, tonight is the episode of Dear Food Network that I'm gonna be on!  Check it out at 9PM!

And in the meantime, you can watch this!

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Eggs Benedict

Some time ago I wanted to make Jeff eggs benedict. It's basically his favourite eating out breakfast, and I wanted to make it at home for him. The hollandaise is important to him. It's richness and flavor seem to be intricate parts for him in breakfast. So I decided, I can do this-- and went to make him eggs benedict just to find that my english muffins had gotten moldy.


So I promised I'd make it up to him at the end of his run. So I did. We woke up, and we made Eggs Benedict. Jeff made hashbrowns to go with it, but they were the frozen kind and turned out a little weak. We're going to work on those in the future.

I'll admit, I had some problems in making this. I accidentally had turned my oven to 400, not 200, and so my muffins and ham came out a bit crispy. Tasty still, but crispy. The eggs came out good, though, and the hollandaise? Well, Jeff loved it.

At first I was like, this is no good! But when the flavours combined, I realized, man, it was good. Really? Had I ever just -tried- hollandaise on my finger that wasn't from a packet when I was a kid growing up? No! How was I to know if it was right or wrong until I tasted the melding flavors.

I admit, I cajuned mine up a little. I also added some black pepper (we don't have white at Jeff's house). For me, cajun goes on everything. It's sooo tasty. Now, next time, the only thing I need to do different is to... well... not overcook the ham and muffin.

Eggs Benedict

3 english muffin halves
3 eggs
3 slices of ham
a dash of garlic powder
hollandaise sauce

Butter the english muffins and heat in the oven at 200 while preparing the rest of the meal. Prepare the ham slices by cooking them in a skillet with a dash of garlic powder for each slice. Place them on top of the english muffins to keep them warm.
Meanwhile, prepare the hollandaise sauce and keep warm.
To poach the eggs, boil water in a pot or pan, and place eggs in a shallow cup. Cover pot with lid, and allow to cook until the whites are hard and the yellows are still soft-- I didn't time this, I just looked at it a lot.

Hollandaise sauce

Juice from 1/2 a lemon
3 largeegg yolks
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon salt

a few dashes of each cajun seasoning and smoked paprika

Cut the butter into chunks and allow it to soften during this process.

In a double boiler heating over (not in) hot water, place the egg yolks and lemon juice. Whisk until they begin to thicken. Once this happens, remove from heat and add the chunks of butter, one or two at a time, whisking until completely melted in. Occasionally, to keep warm, place over the double boiler, with the heat turned off.

Once completely combined, add in the salt and spices, beating until it's thick. Either serve immediately, or put in a thermos bathed in hot, but not boiling hot water until ready to serve.

The Annual Grilled Cheese Invitational

While Jeff sleeps in bed, I'm going to take the time to write up a post about this. I'd been putting it off-- not because I'm finally catching up with blog posts, and not because I'm completely lazy, but because I forgot what one of the cheeses I used was.

I know.

You see, we had them all packaged up in the cooler, nad by the end of the day the water that had collected from the ice melting has washed off the label (written in ink and sharpie ink) of that particular cheese. I didn't want to look like a complete moron on my food blog, but if I keep waiting I'll never post again. But with the use of the internet I researched and found my cheese.

so here I go

This, my pretties, was my entry into the "Missionary" style position. See, I only entered two positions (hahaha). Missionary, and the Honey Pot. Missionary is just Bread, Butter, Cheese. No added ingredients (though one guy used ketchup...... and won). The Honey Pot is dessert grilled cheese.

I wanted to do something both complex and simple. I'd never entered a food contest before, much less a grilled cheese contest. Heck, I'd never even really been to a food festival before, so I had no idea what to expect. Not to mention it was Jeff's last week of South Park, we had no time to prepare, we found out about it two or three days before it happened, and I've been working 10-12 hour days. All in all, had to be simple, had to be something I could come up with easily.

So I settled on thick sliced sourdough bread (which we got from Panera, ahem), coated liberally with butter. The cheeses inside were mozzarella, colby jack, and Fontal. I think most people are well aware of what mozzarella and colby jack cheeses are. Fontal is a semi-soft cheese that was originall a knock off of Fontina. It's apparently widely used in foodservice, and is pretty tasty. It's rich in flavour, and creamy so it provides nice stringy meltability. I kept calling it Fontal Quarters, because it was a quarter of it and I was nervous.

We used Jeff's roommate's cast iron skillet. Because one, we trusted it, and cast iron makes everything better (of course!). It cooked really well. I was able to finish my sandwich with a good amount of time to clean up. I should have let each sandwich sit a bit before cutting it-- but they turned out good anyways.  

This is me flipping and grilling. This is the same shirt I'm gonna be wearing in my Food TV thing. Isn't that a cute apron? I got it from Anthropologie.

Jeff was my runner, he would run the sandwiches to people who were judging while I made the snadwiches. We had a good time. Next year we'll be more prepared!!

I can't remember what the winner of this catagory was. It may have been the "cheese fries". I think it was bread that was crusted with cheese, with cheese on the isnide, cut into strips and served with ketchup. There were a lot of good sandwiches there. Jeff says if he could choose mine would have been the winner. ;) Anyway, you all should try the cheese combo anyway. I wanted to use super fresh buffalo mozzarella, but also wanted to save the money since my gig is ending soon.

For the Honey Pot competition, we had decided to use soft, creamy and rich cheeses to combine with the sweet flavors of strawberries, nutella, and honey on a croissant. These were a lot easier for me to make at home than at the actual competition-- the crossiants were flakier, and I guess with less time and waaay less prep space (than even in the first competition. So many people were competing we were elbow to elbow with very little prep space. It was difficult).

I wanted to use my lavender honey too, but I forgot it at my apartment and so we just used regular clover honey.

The croissants we bought from a bakery down in Hermosa Beach called Cafe Bonaparte. It's really tasty, with all their french goodies.

The cheeses we used were Etorki, a sheep's milk cheese that's sort of hard and nutty. Doux de Montagne (this is the one I forgot the name of) is a soft french cheese with a bronze waxy rind. It's kind of nutty, or fruity. Mostly it's tangy. We also used brie, because heck, brie and strawberries? I wanted my dessert to be very cheesy still. After all, this was a grilled cheese competition. I just wanted it to be sweet and cheesy. I also grilled it in cinnamon butter, so gooood.

It ended up cheesy, gooey, and messy however. Still delicious, but definitely a mess.

The one that won that competition was a concotion of sweet hawaiian bread, a layer of princess cake, a layer of peeps, and gouda cheese. It wasn't very cheesy, but it was definitely unique and tasty.

See how pretty they were in the pan? They kind of fell apart upon cutting.

Reallllly tasty though!!
I'm not sure why I used mostly french cheeses. I guess I liked the names.

Carrot Cake with Honey Cream Cheese Frosting

Please pardon me for these crummy pictures. I made this delicious carrot cake during one of the South Park Wednesdays, and I barely had time to take photos of it before people started eating it. I tend to make my carrot cakes too rich-- I tried to lighten it up this time, and to some degree it worked. My old carrot cake was a heavy, thick thing and while I liked a lot of components it didn't go with what I like as much now. My dad was a big fan though-- I basically tailored my carrot cake to his taste.

He likes carrot cake.

There's a place in Colorado Springs that we would go eat at-- Oliver's. It was right next to TCBY, off of streets I don't quite remember the names of, but can remember the image of. It was a deli that made pretty good sandwiches and my brother and dad loved them. I wasn't a big sandwich person, so whenever we went I usually wanted TCBY instead. As I grew up I became more of a fan of Oliver's, and a big reason why was their carrot cake. It was a perfectly moist, raisin studded thing. It was like they took a carrot slaw and added some flour and eggs and made a cake out of it. I try to recreate it in some ways whenever I make it.

Mine, though is a bit different. I often do a buttermilk glaze with it, I usually cook it with buttermilk. This time I didn't use any buttermilk and no milk. I try to healthy-up my carrot cake (and I didn't really do that either this time).

Jeff isn't a big fan of all the raisins and coconut and chunks I put in a carrot cake. He likes a pure, unadulterated version, kind of like Alton Brown. I can see that, but as a girl with texture in the mind that throws me off. So I went for a compromise. No coconut, much less pineapple, half the raisins, and I think I only put the nuts on the outside of the cake. I didn't allow it enough time to rest and cool before frosting it (there were people waiting and South Park was over!). As you can see above, it kind of fell apart and melted my icing a little. But also you can see it's got a muffin like texture, just as carrot cake should (according to AB). I'm okay with this, but really, I should have let it cool more.

I used the same frosting I always use for my carrot cake: a honey cream cheese one. For some reason it's my carrot cake standard, as opposed to a regular cream cheese frosting. To me, honey and carrots go really well together. I could imagine peanut butter being a good frosting to carrots and spice too-- but that'd be pretty non traditional.

I still have a piece left in my fridge. Joined with all my birthday cake from Sweet Lady Janes. I've done a bad job at eating it all....
Carrot Cake

2 1/2 cups cake flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp allspice
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 oz vanilla yogurt
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 eggs
pineapple, 6-7 chunks, mashed between fingers
2 1/2 cups grated carrots
1/2 cup raisins
Chopped Walnuts

Oven at 350 Degrees Fahrenheit

Prepare cake pans.
Combine the spices, flour, salt, baking powder and soda in a medium mixing bowl. Toss the carrots in the dry mixture.
With a handheld beater, beat together the sugars and yogurt. When thoroughly combined, mix in the vanilla extract and eggs, followed by the melted butter. When all is combined, fold in the dry mixture, mixing it in with a spoon or spatula until completely combined. Fold in the raisins and pineapple.
Pour the batter into either one 9", really thick cake pan, or two 8" cake pans (I used two). Bake for 45 minutes, reduce the heat, and bake for another 15-20 minutes. Test the cake with a toothpick, if it comes out clean it's done.
Remove from the oven and allow to sit for ten minutes in the cake pans. remove from the cake pans and allow to cool completely before frosting.

Frost and decorate with walnuts.

Honey Cream Cheese Frosting

1 8 oz package of cream cheese, softened
1/2 stick butter, softened
1/3 cup honey
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
confectioners sugar to taste, probably about 1 to 2 cups.

Combine the cream cheese and butter in a small mixing bowl and beat at low speed until creamed together. Mix in the vanilla extract and honey, making sure that all ingredients are mixed together. Slowly sift in the confectioners sugar, adding and mixing until the flavour and consistency is at it's desired point. Frost.