Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Blueberry Boy Bait!


Oh. Hey guys. Hey there. I didn't see you there.
Actually, I did.

That might be creepier, huh?
This is a delicious recipe I made and am actually posting. I'm munching on it now, while at work. I took the photos with my iphone, can you believe that? These are slightly more grainy than the pictures taken with my regular camera. Slightly. And it's a nice 10 megapixel olympic something or another. Sometimes I really wish I had a nice camera. My boyfriend's roommate's girlfriend (of Cake & Heels) has a very nice camera and a light set she takes photos of her food with. I am not nearly this cool. I sit in my dim office and take photos with an iphone 4 after making cake in an ancient square silver coloured metal pan that one of my college friend's mother's gave me as a family heirloom. I feel like she maybe wanted me to marry her son, which is a whole other story full of sighs.

This cake, however, is full of blueberries. Which only causes one named Kyle to sigh. It's got a lovely, thick buttermilk batter. That is also full of butter. It's got tangy blueberries ripe for the tasting. It's quite delicious, though honestly if I were to make it again I would tweak the recipe of the batter. I made it straight from Smitten Kitchen's recipe, which is straight from someone elses recipe (replacing milk with buttermilk), and it's mighty fine. But to my tastebuds, I think there is something too hearty for me in this here batter. It's got a country morning kind of feel. I think I either want it sweater or saltier. I think I technically want it with cornmeal. It reminds me of johnny cakes with blueberries.

That said, I still highly recommend it. The recipe is, as always, posted below. I made this in a night at 5 AM after putting together Ikea furniture. I now have three cat litter boxes (this relates to the Ikea furniture). One in my closet, that's huge, that my big fat dumb cat Tseng can use because he's a big fatty. There are two others-- one is in Ikea's "Billy" furniture, tucked into the living room portion of my studio. The other is in another ikea piece and is tiny and is tucked into the dining room portion of my studio. All of this is to prevent Big Fat Tseng from peeing and pooping on my couches. Gross, you guys don't want to come over to my place do you? You can imagine that if you have a cat who seems to want nothing more than to ruin your nice couches in a studio apartment, coming home isn't always a joyride.

But I was putting together furniture, and I said to myself, I said... I'm going to watch Marie Antoinette (a movie I shamelessly love) and clean and make this blueberry cake in honour of Kyle's visiting Canadian friend. Done and done. One hour later I was in bed dreaming of having it for breakfast. I must say, I don't think I baited any boys with this one, but I definitely one some brownie points (harhar, food jokes).

Oh yeah. There's a story attached to this recipe that is far more interesting than my droll ramblings.

So, the year was 1954. There was a really charming 15-year-old girl that stole the show in the Junior Division of an early Pillsbury Bake-Off with a variation of this recipe. She claimed the name came from the effect it had on boys. Despite the effect she (or her cake?) had on boys, she only won second prize, but the magazine Cook's Country dusted this recipe off from the Pillsbury Bake-Off Desser Cookbook and tweaked it to our modern age. Gone was the butter, added were more blueberries, and more sugars. This story was shamelessly ganked from Smitten Kitchen.
I bought my blueberries from Trader Joe's and the boy who checked me out was very curious about what I was making. When I told him it was Blueberry Boy Bait, he seemed more interested than before, and asked me if I was baiting for any boys. I scurried out of there in shame.





Blueberry Boy Bait
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen and adapted from Cook's Country, adapted from somewhere else.

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flower, plus 1 teaspoon for blueberries
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup whole-wheat flour.
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs
1 cup buttermilk
3/4 cup blueberries, fresh.

For the Topping:
1/2 cup blueberries, fresh.
3/8 cups granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Preheat Oven to 350 Degrees Fahrenheit. Grease a baking pan. Mine is small. It overflowed. I suggest a larger one (the recipe before mine calls for a 13x9" baking pan).

Whisk together the flours (sans 1 teaspoon), baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl. With an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugars together until fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating them until just incorporated and scraping down the bowl with a rubber spatula. Reduce the speed and beat in one third of the flour mixture until incorporated. Beat in half the buttermilk, and once mixed in repeat with half the flour, the rest of the buttermilk, then the rest of the flour. Toss the blueberries with the remaining flour and gently fold them into the batter. Spread the batter in your prepared pan.
Now, this is where I deviated.
For the topping:
Sprinkle 2/8 of the sugar over the battle, also with cinnamon (I honestly just shook mine on top because I have a love affair with cinnamon). Now, toss the blueberries with the remaining sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle over the top of the batter. For some reason, these still all sunk to the bottom for me. Curse you blueberries!
Bake for 50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool for at least 20 minutes.



PS. I've secretly been liking recipe calculators lately. So I calculated, and this recipe contains the following nutritional information for 16 servings (which is what I made):
253 Calories, 12.8 Grams fat. 3.6 grams protein. 1.1 grams fiber.

Now you know!


Wednesday, September 14, 2011

I understand I haven't posted in a long time.

My posts steadily declined after the break up with Jeff, and even more after the break up with Brian. Actually, they more or less stopped.
I have a backsection of just... tons of stupid photos of stupid food I made that I doubt I'll ever post about. Because I don't even remember how I made half of those things. I moved. I got a new boyfriend. I got diagnosed with PTSD, GAD, and Panic Disorder. It's just been too much.

But, on the bright side, yours truly is a full time working animator now. I'm working currently on a show called China, IL, and one of my most recent projects was The Venture Bros.
I actually made some brownies for that screening, but I just gobbled them with everyone else and didn't photograph them.

But I keep thinking I want to get back into it. The biggest problem is finding inspiration. I get envious of some of my friends who can just continue coming up with good ideas. But I just don't have a lot of passion for cooking anymore. Or food. Maybe I do. It's just hard to get the time and feel strongly about it.

But I want to make the oath to start working on this again. There's so much I want to do, I really need to refocus and get myself in gear.

Thank you if any of you still ever read my dumb posts about my dumb delicious food. Please cheer me on in trying to get myself back into gear and living life again. It's been a continuous struggle and I thank everyone for the support.

Here's a picture of an egg sandwich.




Saturday, February 19, 2011

Chicken Breast over Pesto Cream Pasta


Let me just say for the record that I love basil. I love it. It is my favourite herb, by far. I could eat it in so many things and be happy. I love basil in chocolate. I love basil in sauces. I love basil with tomatoes. I just love it.

So it is needless to say that I also, in turn, love pesto. It took me a long time to realize I loved pesto as much as I do. I never ate it through middle or high school (eyuck, green stuff!). I don't even think I had it throughout most of college. Then it was all about tomato sauces. I didn't even like cream sauces that much. So when I finally owned up and just HAD pesto I was blown away.


Pesto is something, I feel, that may be hard to make right. Sometimes I get it at restaurants and it's too oily, or way too salty. I like it when it's... you know, just the right amount of basil punch. Thick and rich. I like it to be salty with the taste of parmesan, not salt. I want it to take fresh and rich. I never buy it from a tub (again, yuck!).

But I love it, still, all the same. Spread on my sandwiches, put in my pasta, topping my risotto. So I had to try my hand at some pesto cream sauce (I know, it took me way too long rambling about how much I love pesto and basil to get to this part). This was a recipe I seriously made from scratch, just fooling around in my kitchen. It's also I made a long time ago (surprise, surprise!). That said, I remember eating this and just being so happy with it. I remember how warm and rich it was. I remember adding more basil leaves because I couldn't get enough. It made me a very pleased Stephanie, and so... I probably will have to make it again. If and when I do, I will likely revise this recipe for better deliciousness.

(I enjoy my basil pesto pasta with a bottle of blackberry beer. Note, this was NOT a good combination).
The chicken, too, was a welcome addition. I try to make sure all my flavours will go together well when I make it.... so I seasoned this with some poultry seasoning, rosemary, and some extra dried basil as well. I also spiced it up with a little cayenne pepper. Then it was grilled on my Wolfgang Puck grill while I made the sauce. I didn't want the chicken to have too much flavour so that it would overpower the pesto, but I also didn't want it to sit alone and not have anything at all going for it. So that was a triumph!

Mmm, pesto. This makes me so happy.




Chicken Breast over Pesto Cream Pasta

2 chicken breasts
1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons crushed rosemary
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon poultry seasoning
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
salt and pepper to taste

1 cup basil
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4-1/2 cup parmesan cheese
1/8 cup pine nuts
1 clove garlic
1/8 cup cream
salt and pepper to taste

1/2 box of pasta, boiled el dente (I use fancy multigrain protein plus style pasta, personally)

Boil Pasta in salted water as per directions~

Rub each side of each chicken breast with 1/2 to 1 teaspoon olive oil. Follow with evenly divided portions of seasonings for each chicken breast. Rub it in.
Grill over medium-high heat until cooked throughout.

Meanwhile, blend together the garlic, pine nuts, and basil. Once thoroughly blended, slowly pour in extra virgin olive oil. Take pesto and transfer to a saucepan, add in parmesan cheese and cream and heat over low to medium-low heat. Continuously stir until well mixed and thick. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Drain pasta and stir in a little olive oil so it doesn't stick. Serve topped with chicken breast and pesto cream sauce, garnish with basil, some pine nuts, and maybe even a little extra parmesan cheese.

So good~!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Mary's Pasta Salad

Oh boy, is this an old post!! This was a pasta salad that Brian had made, about a year ago-- it took me that long to get the recipe from him! I'm glad I did, because now I can carry on the recipe myself. It was sent to him by his mom, Mary, whom I adore-- I am so glad that she was willing to pass on some of her recipes so I can share them with everyone!

The trick with this pasta salad is that the dressing is a little vinegary-- which I thought would be weird at first, but honestly turned out to be quite delicious (I'm so lucky to have been able to try it!!). It melds really well with the broccoli, carrots, olives.... I especially loved the olives, tomatoes, and cubes of cheese. The chicken that Brian had used was a precooked lemon chicken breast, I believe, and the lemon to the chicken provided a really nice combination of flavours.

This recipe makes a huuuge portion, we ate it for like a week! So next time I make it I know that I'll be able to eat it for basically forever. It seems like such a great dish to take to a family potluck or picnic or something-- and I can't wait to make it again. Now all I need is to get their grasshopper pie recipe. :)
Mary's Pasta Salad
Recipe by Mary Retchless

Dressing

1/3 Cup Olive Oil
½ Cup White Wine Vinegar (or up to 2/3 Cup if you like a stronger vinegar taste)
1 Tbs. Dijon Mustard
1 tsp. Sea Salt
1 tsp. Fresh Ground Black Pepper
1 Cloves Garlic minced or crushed
2 tsp. Basil Leaves

Combine all and whisk together

Salad

2 Cups Broccoli Flowerets (boil in water 2 minutes, remove and rinse under cold water)
1 Cup Chopped Carrots (boil in water 2 minutes, remove and rinse under cold water)
½ Red Bell Pepper, sliced thin into 1” long strips
4 Scallions chopped with green ends included
2 Cups Cherry Tomatoes
¼ Cup Cilantro chopped
1 Cup sliced black olives
1 Cup Monterey Jack Cheese, cubed
Grilled Chicken Breast, cut into small bite-sized pieces
1 16oz pkg. of Tri-Color or Whole Wheat Rotini Pasta, cooked el dente and rinsed with cold water.

Combine all the above ingredients. Pour in dressing. Toss thoroughly. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Lamb with Basil-Mint Pesto, Mushroom Rice Pilaf, and Green Beans


Alright, so... once again, I made this forever ago. I actually (overall) remember this dish though. I don't remember why I made it, I don't remember what occasion... but I do remember that I really liked the mint-basil pesto. I really liked the idea of the pesto with the savory lamb. I mean, mint with lamb is pretty typical, but the salty mix of parmesan (for the pesto), the roasted rich flavor of walnuts (used instead of pine nuts), and the addition of basil... related to mint. I dunno, but it was a good decision.

I served it with green beans and a rich and flavorful mushroom and wild rice pilaf. I was trying to get some healthier options in my diet at the time, so I used brown rice with the wild rice. The mushrooms were a pleasing addition, especially with the rich earthiness of the lamb and mushrooms. I think I should make this again-- I can give everyone a better opinion then.


Lamb with Basil-Mint Pesto


3/4 cup lightly packed fresh mint leaves
1/3 cup lightly packed fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup walnuts, toasted
1 tablespoons freshly grated parmesan
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 garlic cloves
1/4 teaspoon salt, plus more for seasoning
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more for seasoning
1/6 cup extra virgin olive oil

Blend the mint, basil, nuts, cheese, lemon juice, garlic, salt, and pepper in a food processor (or blender, as I used) until all of it is finely chopped and mixed together. With the machine running, gradually blend in the olive oil until the mixture is smooth and creamy.

1 1/2 pounds lamb (chop, leg, rib, whatever you choose)
1 teaspoon ground thyme
1 tablespoon etra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Generously sprinkle the lamb with salt and pepper and thyme. I tend to rub it into the meat. Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil in a grill pan or heavy skillet over high heat. Place the lamb in the skillet and cook just until brown, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer the lamb meat side up to a heavy, large baking sheet. Continue with all meat.

Roast the lamb in the oven until cooked to desire doneness (about 20 minutes). Transfer the lamb to a work surface and let sit for 10 minutes. Cut the lamb, and spread the pesto over 1 cut side for each chop. Serve.


Mushroom Rice Pilaf

1/4 cup Brown Rice

1/8 cup Wild Rice

1/2 pound Mushrooms

1/2 teaspoon Dried Thyme

1/4 Onion, chopped

1 tablespoon Olive Oil

1 tablespoon Butter

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 cup Chicken Stock

1/8 cup Red Wine


Salt

Pepper


Heat the oil and butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onions, garlic, mushrooms, and thyme. Cook until the mushrooms are tender.

Stir the wild rice and broth into the skillet and heat to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover and cook for 10 minutes. Stir in the brown rice, cover, and cook for 45 minutes, or until the rice is tender. Season with salt and pepper to taste.



Garlic Green Beans


1/4 pound Green Beans, trimmed

1 tablespoon Olive Oil

2 cloves Garlic, minced

1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1 tablespoon stock

Salt

Pepper


In a large skillet, heat the olive oil. Add the green beans, garlic, and red pepper flakes, sautéing until tender. Add chicken stock if necessary to keep beans moist and from drying out. Season with salt and pepper to taste.