Sunday, March 25, 2007

Bon Appetit

Croque Monsieur, originally uploaded by razzieswirl.

Apparently, the Croque Monsieur is a very popular sandwich in France. The first time I'd ever heard of these was while watching Ina Garten on the Food Network. She said something along the lines of "if you go into a cafe and they don't have a croque monsieur don't eat there, it should be staple in every good French cafe". I've also heard it's their version of a ham and cheese sanwich. I guess it would be, it has both ham and cheese, but it goes a little above and beyond that because you top it with a melted cheese sauce, and more cheese. How the french stay so thin is a mystery to me. With delicacies like croissants and croque monsieurs, not to mention pastry kings like Herme how do they manage? Maybe it's all the walking? Some say they only take a few bites of everything on their plate. I will say I am glad I do not live in France, I'm not a big fan of only taking a few bites of something, especially something as tasty as a Croque Monsieur. I've made these sandwiches only a handful of times but I adore them. I only make them for special occasions, and usually those occasions are revolving around the food. French movie night, girls night, and this afternoon.

It is my goodbye to bad food for at least the next 6 weeks. I'm going to try to whip myself into better shape by the beginning of summer. Don't get me wrong, I already exercise 3-5 days a week and rarely gorge on such things as Croque Monsieurs, but in order to really focus on losing weight I need to cut out all of cheese/bread/sweets intake and make a commitment to exercise 5 days a week.

Unfortunately, I have just caught a very severe case of the cold flu. It's quite awful, and I'm not enjoying it one bit. Seeing as my head and body are throbbing, and my eyes are constantly at half mast due to said throbbing of the head, I am in no shape today to go to the gym as planned. So, I gave myself one more day, it is the day of rest for some anyway, yes? Yesterday it was doughnuts and thai food, today it's cheesy french ham sandwiches and cookies. And tomorrow, even if I can't go to the gym due to my health, the salads and protein diet begins.

So just in case you are free to eat whatever you like for the next six weeks, here is the recipe:

Recipe: Croque Monsieurs

Bechamel Sauce:


1 TBS Butter
1 TBS Flour
1 cup milk
1/2 cup grated Gruyere
1/2 cup grated Parmesan


1. Melt butter in small saucepan
2. Add flour, stir, and cook for one minute
3. Add milk slowly, allowing to thicken before you add more etc.
4. Add cheese, and stir until melted

Sandwiches: (Makes 6)


12 slices of white bread or a good crunchy loaf of bakery bread
1/2 lb. of ham (I used all natural honey ham)
1 1/2 cup gruyere shredded
Dijon Mustard


1. Toast bread in oven or toaster until lightly browned.
2. Dijon one half of your sanwich
3. Add slice or two of ham and sprinkle of cheese to middle of sandwich and top with another slice of bread (without dijon)
4. Place sanwich on baking sheet
5. Top with ladel full of bechamel sauce and another handful of cheese
6. Repeat steps 1-5 for each sandwich
7. Bake in 325 degree oven for 15 minutes, broil for 30 seconds or so to brown cheese.
8. Enjoy!



The Ultimate M&M Cookies, originally uploaded by razzieswirl.

I am a serious cookie fanatic. It is probably one of my most favorite desserts. I rarely get a hankering for cake or ice cream after a long day at work, but I do on a regular basis crave a good cookie. As much as I love them, and as often as I've baked them (from 4 years old on) I have never managed to make an amazing cookie. You'd think with my passion for baking I would've mastered one of my favorites by the age of 21. Not until this week. But I've found them folks. The perfect cookie. I find that most every cookie recipe is nearly the same, maybe a little extra flour, a little extra butter, brown sugar vs. white sugar, but they all come out the same. This recipe is different, but in a very simple way. It makes all the difference.

Unfortunately, I will not be giving the recipe out. I think I need to keep this one to myself. It's truly that good. I haven't found a cookie in Bellingham that compares, not at any of our numerous bakeries. Sorry to dissapoint, but I need to keep this one to myself. I'd be happy to bake you a batch though.


Peanut Butter M&M Cookies

Peanut Butter M&M Cookies, originally uploaded by razzieswirl.

Not peanut butter cookies, but peanut butter M&M's in cookies. Yum.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Jamie Olivers Lemon Shrimp Pasta

Jamie Olivers Shrimp Pasta, originally uploaded by razzieswirl.

Just a little something for your eyes to enjoy. Some good old fashioned food porn. Mmmm, food porn.


Think Pink.

Anti St. Patricks Day, originally uploaded by razzieswirl.

I was going to drink Guinness on St. Patties Day, but somehow ended up making quite possibly the most girly looking drink I've ever made. And damn, it was good! This may become a summer staple, along with the always present raspberry margaritas! Yum.

Since I made this up, and did not measure a thing, the recipe is going to follow along the same lines. Just have fun with it, I don't think you could mess it up, either way it's going to turn out good. It's so simple how could it not?

Recipe: Raspberry Coconut Blended Cocktail


1-2 shots white rum (not flavored, I guess you could use flavored, I didn't)
4 large spoonfuls of coconut milk (the thick stuff)
handful of frozen raspberries
Two spoonfuls of frozen juice drink (I used whatever was left in the frezer from some other party, I think it was a pineapple/berry mix)
1 TBL sugar (since coconut milk isn't sweet)
plenty of ice cubes


1. Put all ingredients in a blender, and blend until smooth.
2. Put in any fun glass: margarita/martini etc.
2. Top with whip cream and a cherry for extra girly-ness (I had both on hand, and figured why not, it was a holiday afterall).

They're mighty tasty but dangerous, they taste more like a creamy smoothie than an alcoholic beverage, beware.


Monday, March 19, 2007

Holy Cheese!

Twice Baked Potatoes, originally uploaded by razzieswirl.

These twice baked potatoes made me speechless. Seriously. Plus they're bite sized so they're beyond perfect for an appie with cocktails. Two or three bites and they're gone, and believe me, they'll be gone quick. I can't talk them up enough. My tastebuds were in love. I flickr'd potatoes and a picture of some very delictable twice baked potatoes came up, prue inspiration.

Recipe: Twice Baked Potatoes


4 (or more) yukon gold and/or red potatoes (I used both)
1 cup sour cream (split into 1/2 cup and put into two seperate bowls)
1/2 cup sharp cheddar
1/2 cup Kerrigold Blarney Castle Cheese
1/4 cup gorgonzola
1/4 cup feta
1 onion caramelized
1 bulb of roasted garlic
1 bunch of scallions


1. Wash, drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper, cover with tin foil, stab with fork and pop into a 375 degree oven for an hour.
2. Prepare two different kinds of filling (they're basically the same with a different crumbled cheese base). Into each 1/2 cup of sour cream add 1/4 cup cheddar cheese, 1/4 cup blarney castle. In one bowl add the gorgonzola, in the other add the feta. Then add the "veggies", to each add equal parts of caramelized onion, scallions, and roasted garlic. Salt and pepper to taste.
3. Remove potatoes from oven when done, allow to cool. Once cool cut in half, scoop out inards and put equal parts into your two seperate fillings.
4. Mash filling until smooth and creamy. While mashing, crisp potato skins in oven for a few minutes.
5. Fill potato skins with fillings. Top with more cheese. Sprinkle with pancetta.
6. Bake in oven until bubbly and crisp. (About 10-15 minutes).
6. Sprinkle with additional scallions.

I can't say anymore about how delicious these are. Just yum! If you like potatoes and cheese, than you must try these. They're a gourmet version. So creamy, cheesey, delicious. I can't stop myself, they're just soooooooo good. I'll stop.


Twice Baked Potato Filling

Twice Baked Potato Filling, originally uploaded by razzieswirl.

See above for recipe. Best twice baked potatoes I've ever had.

Potato Ball Recipe

Potato Ball Production, originally uploaded by razzieswirl.

As I mentioned in the post below I first stumbled upon potato balls when I was 13. I think I was with Sarina. Between school and where we lived sat a little grocery store (now a Haggen grocery store, ick), and in their hot deli case were these small little breaded (and most likely deep fried) extremely delicious potato balls. They were a delicacy for 13 year old me.

When I decided to make my potato smorg I knew I must try to recreate them, it didn't hurt that thomas was beyond excited either. Since I was pretty young when the original potato balls were around I couldn't recall all of the flavors. All I can remember is they had peas in them, they were buttery and salty and delicious. This is how I did it:

Recipe: Potato Balls

4 medium sized red or yukon gold potatoes
2 TBLS Butter
1/4 cup whole milk
1 clove roasted garlic
1/2 onion that's been caramelized
handful of peas
3 slices of chopped fried pancetta
1 egg
1/2 cup bread crumbs


1. Wash, cut and boil potatoes for about 30 minutes.
2. Drain and add butter (I cover the pot and allow the butter to melt over the potatoes) and the milk and mash.
3. Add your bulb of roasted garlic and your caramelized onions mix in/mash and stir in peas and pancetta.
4. Put mashed tatoes in a seperate bowl and allow to cool a few minutes, cool enough to roll into balls.
5. Roll into medium sized to small balls.
6. Roll in egg wash
6. Roll in bread crumbs (you can do this a few times if you like, thomas thought coating it a few times was better, I thought it was too many breadcrumbs).
7. Bake in 400 degree oven for 15 minutes or until brown and crisp, turning once or twice.
8. Done

This recipe would be better if you made your own breadcrumbs. They were a little dry, I think the originals were fried. It will take a little more of experimentation to get it right. But they were good overall, none were left. So, even if I wasn't as fond of them as the original, the terrible twosome liked them.


Sunday, March 18, 2007

The Blam Team. Deep in potato ball production.

Blam. And ante arguments., originally uploaded by razzieswirl.

Somewhere, at some point I read an article that claimed Corned Beef is not at all Irish. I don't remember what the article said about the true origins of this odd and boiled meat, all I know is, the few times I've had it I've bordered on disliking it. Therefore for St. Patty's day this year I decided on a smorg of potatoes. I adore potatoes, in every single form I've ever tried them. They are simply fantastic. Years ago, an old friend of mine was leaving to work in Montana for the summer as she had done the summer before. Her mother traditionally cooked a "going away, whatever your heart desires" dinner. This friend of mine requested a dinner entirely of potatoes. Latkes, twice baked, mashed, scalloped, roasted. Potatoes cooked in every way imaginable. In the end I believe they settled on something like Chinese takeout, but the idea of it was quite novel.

When I think of Ireland I think of the potato famine. To be honest I remember very little of what I learned in school about this subject, I just know that my brain relates potatoes and the Irish. So I thought it fitting to make a "dinner" so to speak, soley out of potatoes. Upon having this thought my brain recalled the above memory. Not really having anything to do with today, but relatable so in some way possibly connected?

Anyway, it was mostly successful. I think T ended up missing some kind of variety or protein in the meal. I did use pancetta, but he's used to some kind of protein, carb, veggie mix and found out he was easily and quickly burned out on one thing. Cooked a few different ways granted, but still, one thing.

We invited over the other half of our blam-tastic team for dinner and the production began. Boiling, roasting, mashing, rolling, frying, the works. On the menu:

- Potato Balls (a recreation of a deli fry case treat T and I enjoyed as young high school freshman at a local grocer, who soon after our discovery of these buttery delights, discontinued the item).
- Two different kinds of twice baked potatoes, some with Feta, green onion, roasted garlic, caramelized onion and three other kinds of shredded cheese. The other primarily the same but with Gorgonzola.
- A vat of Roasted Garlic and Caramelized Onion Mashed Potaotes
- And Roasted Potatoes with Herbs De Provencal, Fresh Thyme, Garlic and Olive Oil.

We spent the first half of the evening cooking. And the second half gorging on our hard efforts while playing poker. By midnight we were stuffed and full and ready for some couch/veg time. We spent the last part of our evening watching Thank You For Smoking. Which I liked, but that's another topic altogether.

All in all it was a very lovely evening. I suggest having a themed food night at some point in life. But only if you have good people to share it with. Aww, how sappy.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

The first fire of the year.

The first fire of the year., originally uploaded by razzieswirl.

March 16th, 2007. Still winter, but it didn't rain, so we went for it. And I'm glad we did. It's one of my favorite things in life, a good fire, good friends and good beer.

Monday, March 12, 2007


Champagne and Scrabble, originally uploaded by razzieswirl.

Champagne and scrabble (and Calamari). Heaven.

Sesame Calamari

Recreating Tasty, originally uploaded by razzieswirl.

T and I tried to recreate our favorite calamari dish at a fish place here in fairhaven. It isn't exact, but it tastes great anyway. T just has to get the hang of frying Calamari. A girl can't be expected to cook everything around here.


1/2 lb. fresh Calamari
1/2 cup flour
2 TBS. Parsley
Oil For Frying

1. Cut up calamari in rings.
2. Coat in flour and parsley
3. Fry in oil

Sorry. I know these directions are lame. I will post better directions tomorrow. I'm tired now. And I have to pick up my roommate from the bus station.

Alien Bar

Alien Bar, originally uploaded by razzieswirl.

I know it's gross. But gross in a kind of interesting way. Hey at least I didn't take a picture of someone with a ugly diseased mouth, eh? See above for post.

Wonderland Worthy Petit Fours

Wonderland Worthy Petit Fours, originally uploaded by razzieswirl.

I will be serving these at the party for sure. They're good. Not mindblowing but they will do. The cake is dense, moist and has a perfect crumb (it doesn't fall apart when I cut it in three parts).

There's really not much to say about them, they're fairly straight forward. I plan to try a genoise cake as well, but I'm really just looking for something easy peasy to make so I can whip it together and not think about it too much. Genoise is a little more complicated than a "whip it together" recipe. For now I'm just very pleased with this recipe, it works great for petit fours. The pan I baked them it was very deep so they're so tall they lean a little bit, which I love because it makes them look very whimsical yet kind of zany (much like the mad hatter himself).



1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese
1 1/2 cups butter
3 cups white sugar
6 eggs
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (160 degrees C) grease and flour a 10 inch tube pan.
2. In a large bowl, cream butter and cream cheese until smooth.
3. Add sugar gradually and beat until fluffy.
4. Add eggs two at a time, beating well with each addition.
5. Add the flour all at once and mix in.
7. Add vanilla.
8. Pour into a 10 inch tube pan (I used my cheesecake mold).
9. Bake at 325 degrees F (160 degrees C) for 1 hour and 20 minutes. Check for doneness at 1 hour. A toothpick inserted into center of cake will come out clean.

To make petit fours:

Raspberry Filling:


1/2 cup frozen or fresh raspberrys
2 TBS granulated sugar
1 TBS champagne or sweet white wine


1. Combine all the ingredients in a small pot over medium heat.
2. Allow mixture to cook until raspberries are reduced, broken down and the most of the liquid has evaporated (appx. 5 minutes).

I also used a good orange marmalade (because it is used in Alice in Wonderland), that was store bought. So no recipe for that.

White Chocolate "Ganache"

1 bag of white chocolate (I used Ghirardelli)
1/4 cup of cream

1. Melt the chocolate and cream together over medium/low heat in small saucepan. You can adjust the cream depending on how runny/firm you want your chocolate to be, but you want it smooth enough to drizzle.

Assemblage of the Petit Cakes:

1. Remove cooled pound cake from modl/pan.
2. I had to trim the corners of my cake because it was round. Cut cake into one inch squares.
3. Cut each square in the middle once (or twice, depending on the height of your cake/depth of the pan).
4. Spread some of either filling onto middles of cake and reassemble, laying out onto wax/parchment paper.
5. Drizzle with the White Chocolate ganache.


Sunday, March 11, 2007

Curiouser and Curiouser

Earl Grey Cupcakes, originally uploaded by razzieswirl.

I spent a few hours Friday afternoon laying in my bed, computer on my lap. It was so nice to just veg out. Naturally my mind wandered to the Wonderland Party. I had a genious thought (or at least I thought).

I was planning on doing flower cupcakes for the party, but then I had a thought on Friday that thit me like a train. Tea cupcakes, like Earl Grey and Jasmine tea cupcakes. Perfect for a Mad Tea Party, right? Sure, if I could execute it properly. I tried both a Earl Grey Simple Syrup and simply infusing it with the tea leaf. Neither was successful.

Since the cake failed on the earl grey flavor I wanted to try to make Earl Grey frosting. I strained the simple syrup and added it to a cream cheese frosting base. Still-no-flavor. Aahhh. So I got desperate and resorted to cooking leaves and a mixture of orange juice and water until the leaves were moist and soft (I didn't want crunchy tea leaves in the frosting, yuck).

Alas, nothing worked, not simple syrup, not tea leaves, nothing. I don't know where to go from here. There aren't really any recipes online that I can find to help guide me. I'll have to keep researching and hope that I can come up with something in the next few weeks because I am really loving the idea.

Here is the recipe.

3 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2/3 cups unsalted butter, softened
1 3/4 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 1/4 cups whole milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Prepare cupcake tins as directed as directed in the recipe you are following.
2. Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt together in a medium bowl.
3. In a separate, larger bowl, cream the butter. Gradually add the sugar, creaming until light and fluffy.
4. Add the eggs one at a time, and beat well after each addition.
5. In a small bowl, combine the milk and vanilla.
6. To the butter mixture, add about one quarter of the flour mixture and mix well. Add about one quarter of the milk mixture and mix well. Continue alternating the flour mixture and milk mixture, beating after each addition until smooth.
7. Pour the batter into the cupcake tins. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until the cake springs back when touched.
8. Remove from oven and let cool for about 10 minutes, then turn the cupcakes out of the tins and onto a rack to finish cooling completely.

Nobody Will Be Eating These. . .

These are B-A-D. They are not bundt cakes, they are leftover batter from the pound cake I will be posting. I don't know if that makes a difference. The flavor/taste isn't so bad, they cooked all the way, but it doesn't look like they did. It almost looks like jelly on the inside. Which gives way to a very gross texture. Ick. It's okay though, these weren't even on my list, I just thought I'd do something fun with the extra batter. It's not a bad picture though, eh?

The Beginning

Lemon Cream Tartlet, originally uploaded by razzieswirl.

I've decided to start out at the beggining. I am going to post seperately for each recipe. For a few reasons, a.) I'm still trying to figure out the best way to post photos and for now I've found posting them individually through Flickr is the easiest and b.) I'm going to have to stop half way through to make T and I dinner and watch a new episode of the Simpsons.

These tartlets are not only beautiful, but fairly simple to make. The worst part was whipping the cream over the simmering water bath, it takes about 10 minutes to come up to temperature, and by the end of that ten minutes your arm feels pretty severly sore.

I'd also never made a tart dough in the food processor before, and I didn't know what to expect. To be fairly honest I generally stick with what I know, cake, but a goal of mine is to branch out and start getting very creative in the kitchen. I was so excited that I had created a ball of dough in my new food processor that I rushed into the tv room ball in hand as if it was some hurt little bird I'd found in the room and shouted like a little kid at T "Look, look, look what I did!" Sweetly he showed a bit of enthusism and went back to what he was doing on his computer.

From there on it was pretty simple. I'd never used my grandmothers tartlet molds that she has used for Sandbakles (sp?), a norwegian cookie, so that was fun for me too. The whole endeavor was quite succesful and I am very pleased.

The filling is tart, but sweet, and oh so creamy. I want to put it on everything (in fact I've slathered it on nearly every cake scrap from today). It is a Pierre Herme recipe, I don't know much about him other than everywhere I read about him people talk about him as if he is God of the Pastry. I'll take their word for it, this recipe doesn't do any harm in reaffirming what I've heard.

These will definately be a staple at the Wonderland Party. I'm going to top with a fresh raspberry and a mint leaf. Hoo-ray for my first succesful nailed down Wonderland recipe, though I'll probably have to quadrouple it. I'm getting pretty excited.

Makes about a dozen

For the tart shells:

1 stick plus 1 Tb. butter, cut in small pieces
1 1/4 cups flour
1/4 cup almonds
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 egg yolk

1. In a food processor, pulse all the dry ingredients.
2. Add the butter and pulse again.
3. Add the egg yolk and pulse until the mixture comes together in a ball.
4. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate while you prepare the filling.
5. Roll between sheets of plastic wrap and cut out circles larger than your tart shells, fit the dough into the molds and cut out the excess.
6. Bake at 350 for about 10-15 minutes or until golden brown.
7. Because the dough has a tendency to puff up, take the shells out halfway through the baking process and pat the bottoms flat with the back of a spoon.

For the lemon cream:


1 cup sugar
zest of 3 lemons
4 eggs
3/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 sticks butter, cut into 1 inch pieces, softened


1. Make a water bath by putting a saucepan of water over heat to simmer and placing a metal bowl over, without the bottom touching the water.
2. Rub the sugar and lemon zest with your fingers and add to the metal bowl.
3. Whisk in the eggs and lemon juice.
4. Cook the mixture over the water bath, whisking constantly until the cream reaches 180 degrees. It can take up to 10 minutes.
Once the cream reaches 180 (your whisk will leave ribbon tracks in the cream)
5. Remove the cream off the heat and put it into a blender. Let the cream cool to 140.
6. Add in the butter and process until perfectly smooth.
7. Pour into a container, cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

The tarts will pop right out of the molds and should be chilled/cooled before filling. The longer the filling sits in the fridge the more it will solidify, this is a good thing because when I first blended the mixture it was a bit soupy.

These are so good, it's a good thing it only makes 12 or so.


Saturday, March 10, 2007

Get Ready

New Obsession?, originally uploaded by razzieswirl.

I recently drug home my grandmothers sewing machine from a dusty unused room upstairs in my mothers house. Maybe this blog will morph into a sewing/craft/food blog? The only reason it hasn't thus far is because I'm not good enough at any of the above mentioned, except cooking, of course. I've been cooking/baking since I was 5 years old with grandmother (I have pictures to prove it, pretty damn cute ones too). So I guess I should give myself a little more time to practice becoming a good crafter, but I can be pretty impatient, I want to know how to make pretty things, and I want to know NOW!

Anywhoo, I was simply posting tonight because I will be baking up a frenzy in the kitchen tomorrow (Sunday). Get ready for Genoise with raspberry filling, Pound Cake Petit Fours with Orange Marmalade, Earl Grey Tea Cupcakes with Orange Buttercream, and last but surely not least, Pierre Herme's Lemon Cream Tartlets. I'm testing all these recipes for the Wonderland Party I'm planning, coming up in May. My plan was to do this all today but I ended up ditching my kitchen for a trip to Seattle to see the Bodies Exhibit (if you leave near the area, it's a must see, simply amazing stuff people).

So be prepared, I will be a bakin' and a shakin' all day tomorrow. I can't wait!


This is a test post from flickr, a fancy photo sharing thing.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Something New

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Okay everyone, I'm going to try something new here. For some reason most of the photos I've taken eventually stop loading properly and aren't able to be seen on the website (at least from any computer in my house). So I'm trying something a bit different here. Let's see if it works. If anyone has a suggestion of how to make this stop happening, pleeaaase, let me know. The pictures are a huge part for me I feel a blog lacks greatly without any visual stimulation. And since I'm working on my writing, you the reader, need something to keep you interested. Any suggestions? . . .