Wednesday, January 27, 2010
The January 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Lauren of Celiac Teen. Lauren chose Gluten-Free Graham Wafers and Nanaimo Bars as the challenge for the month. The sources she based her recipe on are 101 Cookbooks and www.nanaimo.ca.
I know that Nanaimo bars were a brand new confection for some of my fellow Daring Bakers. For me, they are a thing of my childhood. My mother didn't make them. My grandmother didn't make them. My best friends mother made them. Not often, but when she did, swoon, I was in sugar heaven. I live a mere 25 minutes from the Canadian border in a cute little college town dubbed Bellingham (in Washington). I'd never eaten or even heard of a Nanaimo bar before moving here, they sell them in our bakeries, our grocery stores, and people bake them in their kitchens. Perhaps it's something about being so close to the Canadian town that made these bars famous. Still, I haven't tasted one in nearly ten years. Now I know why. I couldn't get enough of Nanaimo bars as a young girl, then again, I couldn't get enough of sugar period. Don't get me wrong, I still have a deep love for sugar (hello, I'm a Daring Baker), but these bars are like a punch in the tastebuds. Just too much of a good thing. The buttery filling is insanely sweet. The chocolate just adds more intense sweetness. I think the only thing I really truly loved was the crust. In fact, I found myself gnawing the bottom off the small square I cut this afternoon, throwing the rest (filling and chocolate) away. To know me is to know that this is nearly unheard of, throwing any dessert in the garbage. I don't think I even realized my dislike until I found myself tossing the sad looking remains in the trash can. I supposed I don't care much for Nanaimo bars any longer. It is absolutely not the recipe. They taste just as good, if not better, than the Nanaimo bars of my childhood. It's not the bars, it's my taste. I promise. I love things now that I used to despise. And vice versa, apparently!
I had a fantastic time making my own graham crackers. Now, graham crackers, there's something I never care to eat. Store bought, flavor lacking, thin, cardboard-esque cookie imposters. Despite that, I've wanted to try my hand at baking my own for a very long time. I wondered if the 'real' thing would be better, it had to be. It was so simple. So incredibly simple I wondered why in the world it took me so long. Really. It doesn't get much simpler than a homemade graham cracker. And they are nothing like those sad plastic packaged 'crackers' they sell in every grocery store. Sweet, crispy, light, and they fill the air with the most heavenly scent. I will surely be breaking these out with homemade marshmallows come summertime bonfires.
Tuesday, January 19, 2010
Enough personal stuff, right? Let's talk food.
Onto my statement "I'm a cheat". That delectable sandwich pictured above is not something I can take all that much credit for. Putting the darn thing between a sweet potato roll? Yes. The actual sandwich? No. That creation, the wonder that is turkey and swiss paired with mayo and homemade apricot preserves was the ever amazing Rachelle's. You see, Rachelle is (I hope I'm correct in using the word is) a fellow food blogger and very dear friend. 5 months ago she all but abandoned her fabulous blog Use the Good China. Life for her too changed a bit, a new place has meant less desire to blog. I know she misses her old place, the place she first started blogging and discovered much of her creative spirit. I'm hoping she returns (soon), if you feel like it, head over and harass her to do so (I kid, I harass her enough)! Rachelle is the queen of comfort, she's a classic that one. The night before christmas eve she invited me over for tea and sandwiches. I knew I wasn't in for the plain old version of a tea sandwich and I was right. For me, a girl who believes you can obsessively love both sweet and savory at the same time (c'mon, how could you possibly choose sides?) this sandwich truly satisfies all of my tastebuds needs. The addition of the apricot preserve does magical wonders to the classic turkey swiss combo. It's tangy, sweet and sticky, the perfect pairing with moist turkey and nutty swiss. As I gobbled down sandwich after sandwich I couldn't help but wonder how I had not thought of such an obviously ingenious pairing myself. In the last couple of weeks I've dedicated dinners to this sandwich. This week, I did a test run for this weekends 'Around the Table' dinner by mixing up a batch of sweet potato rolls from Pinch My Salt. I settled on her bread because out of all the reviews I read (and ingredients) her version received the highest marks. As a born again avid fan of sweet potato, as many have said about many different sweet potato recipes, this didn't have a strong sweet potato taste I was dreaming of. But, upon further thought I realized that's kind of impossible. Potatoes whether they be sweet, golden, or any other variety aren't violent in flavor, they're all pretty mild. They were a huge hit (particularly on their own slathered with butter or dipped in pesto), gone in less than 24 hours. They took Rachelle's version of a turkey sandwich over the moon. I can't wait to bust these gems out filled with turkey, apricot, swiss, mayo, and red onion, at my first picnic of the year (a picnic I may have to wait months for, until the sun makes a more permanent return to the Northwest) until then, I'll have to enjoy them from the comfort of my kitchen sofa!
Sunday, January 17, 2010
Sunday, January 10, 2010
Wednesday, January 06, 2010
This is yet another recipe from Elise's Simply Recipes. First let me apologize, I feel like I've only been offering you samples of others recipes and blogs. I promise I've got some original recipes of my own on the horizon. My saving grace is that I haven't really done much of this, that is, simply regurgitating others brilliance. Problem is, there are so, so, so many outstanding recipes and food sites our there that it's hard not to share them with you once and a while. Clearly I'm a follower. If I like something, I go back, time and time again, if I trust a source, I use it religiously. Simply Recipes is one of those sources for me. Thus the second post about one of Elise's recipes in a month or two. This time, you'll have to head on over there yourself to get the recipe. This is pretty much just a rave review.
Years ago I was slightly obsessed with cream of spinach soup. I must've been about thirteen or fourteen. A dear friend requested a backyard tea party for her July birthday. Her mother obliged. So there we sat in the backyard, our feet swimming in the warm green grass, eating dainty bowls of her mothers famous cream of spinach soup, pillowy white crustless sandwiches filled with various ingredients, and an array of sweets. I will always remember that humid July day, there was something magical about it. From that point on, for about a year, I was obsessed. I asked her mother for the recipe and the rest is history. I made that soup so much during the cold months that year I'm surprised I didn't turn a pale shade of green. I still have that thin lined piece of paper in an old recipe book. I pull it out from time to time, whip up a batch of soup, and reminisce on the simplicity of life as a young thing. It was time to switch up though. Test the waters. See what else is out there. For the most part I've been fairly unimpressed with most other cream of spinach soups. They don't really compare. Elise's does. It's far creamier than my handed down recipe. Maybe that's why I like it so much. It too has potatoes. Potatoes in spinach soup are a must for me. They add body, thickness and texture to the soup. I've been loving this soup so much that I've made it twice in the last two weeks. It's fantastic on it's own, and even better the next day reheated for sandwich dipping (better than tomato soup, in my opinion). I think I might be in danger of turning green again. My new hand blender has made the whole process that much easier. Meaning, I can make it way more often, and much faster. For this last batch I had a leek hanging around my fridge that decided he wanted to be thrown in. I would highly suggest you think about doing the same. Leek, spinach, potato and cream is simply a match made in ingredient heaven. But, I'm a lover of all things onion-y, like leeks. In honor of that lovely birthday afternoon I shot the soup in one of my favorite teacups. If you're looking for a fun way to serve soup as a first course, even if you're not having a tea party, think tea cups. They're all so unique and gorgeous, it makes the experience of eating soup that much more special. We've still got a few cold months ahead of us, at least we do here in the Northwest. Now's the time to whip up a big pot of soup, and wait for the warmer weather to arrive.
Sunday, January 03, 2010
snap, originally uploaded by miss.mallory.
Saturday, January 02, 2010
I hope you don't consider this to be a complete cheat. A while back I posted my first kitchen sink cookie. So, consider this round two. If you didn't know this already, I'm cookie obsessed. My top three dessert list would probably look something like this: 1. Cake 2. Cookies 3. Everything else lovely and sweet. To me, cookies are just so easy to whip up on a moments notice. In fact, I made this batch after my first round of cocktails out on the town New Years Eve. That's partially what I love about cookies. You crave. You can throw together and bake in no time. Craving satisfied. No fuss, no mess, low failure probability, even after a cocktail (or two). In my opinion these weren't a huge success. I had no recipe. I simply adapted one of my favorite chocolate chip cookie recipes to incorporate whatever I had in the cupboard, which was (in no particular order): baking chocolate, coconut shavings, slivered almonds, oatmeal and white chocolate. My half inebriated self thought that all these elements go into a cookie at one time or another, so why not all of them all at once at this very moment. . . Again, no recipe, it wasn't an exact science, but, I will share with you what I remember. They may not have been the gooey, chewy cookie I was going for, they were in fact the opposite, a bit dry and dense (not in a terrible way though), however, they were gone in a flash. My friends gobbled nearly the whole batch down in a few hours flat. So, they couldn't have been horrid, right? One described them as breakfast cookie-esque. So, if this post inspires you to do anything, I say go wild, get in your baking cupboard, make up a dough and throw whatever you've got in that bowl!