Monday, April 7, 2014

Been a Little While

So I haven't been the most disciplined on this blog lately and with good cause for the most part.  I've been trying very hard to eliminate my extra gut as I'm tired of going out and people asking, "when are you due?"

This wouldn't be so insulting if I actually was pregnant, but rest assure, I'm not pregnant nor plan on any kids.  As a result, I upped my strategy of attending Kung Fu/kickboxing between three and four times a week.  I've also kept busy with a class at a local community college that meets once a week which is fine by me since I'm frequently in and out of town.

In any event, I did a combination of a vintage recipe and ethnic recipe in one throw a couple of weeks back.  However, for the sake of the challenge, we called this one a vintage one from the Hilo Woman's Club Cookbook (A Taste of the Islands) Over 300 Authentic Hawaiian Recipes entitled Crab Souffle.

Crab Souffle
I like souffles for their simple ingredients, complex process and delicate taste.  Though for this particular souffle, I had somewhat mixed results even though the boyfriend didn't seem to mind.  I think he was being a bit too far polite since it was kinda runny and didn't set right.

The souffle called for:
2 c cream sauce
3 eggs
1 c grated cheese
2 c crab meat
Dash of cayenne or tabasco sauce

Directions for the dish were pretty straight forward as well, or at least so I thought:
Add well beaten egg yolks, cheese and cayenne to the cream sauce which has been made quite thick.  Add flaked crab meat and beaten whites of eggs.  Back in quick oven until puffed and brown--about 25 minutes in 350 oven.

We'll try this one again and some point.  Just not this month as we decided to embark the challenge of being vegan.  I happened to be watching a documentary and thought, oh six weeks, that shouldn't be too bad, maybe I could pull of a month.  I can tell you that its only day seven, and I already miss my cheese and I think the boyfriend misses his honey as he polished off the rest of the maple syrup like Winnie the Pooh this morning.  He says there wasn't much in there but still, let's be real here.

While observing the month of veganism, the cooking challenge still remains intact.  So with that being said: Gabon will be our first vegan challenge dish.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

French as in Dijon not Fries

This past week, the boyfriend drew the country France for our culinary pallets to discover.  I do have to admit that French cooking is one of my favorites to explore with since it is so delicate in many ways, but very complicated in others.

Great chefs like Jacques Pépin, use flavors that are unique to the region they are from.  So many flavors and recipes to try it was hard to narrow it down to just one.  I could have bought fresh French bread and Brie and could have called it a day (that's a treat in itself), but decided on a warmer dish since it was still on the slightly chilly side.

I opted to do a fairly quick stew, but had forgotten the French bread that would've gone well with it.  That didn't stop me though.

French Beef Stew



  1. Combine meat and flour in a large plastic food storage bag and toss to coat evenly.
  2. In a 6 quart saucepan brown meat in hot vegetable oil. Season with salt and pepper, if desired.
  3. Add diced tomatoes, beef broth, carrots, potatoes and thyme. Bring to boil; reduce heat to medium-low, cover; and simmer for 1 hour or until beef is tender.
  4. French Beef Stew
  5. Blend in mustard and serve.
Side note: Since I forgot the French bread, I needed to make a quick bread.  I had just gone to the grocery store that afternoon and didn't feel like going out again to just get bread.  I found a recipe for buttermilk biscuits made from buttermilk pancake mix.  It didn't turn out too badly, just a tad on the dry side.

This upcoming week we'll go back in time.  Also, there will be a new twist to the blog come April, so stay tuned.

In the words of Jacques Pépin: "happy cooking."

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Back Track

The last few weeks have been kinda crazy on the work front and school front.  However, not too busy to complete the last three challenges, just their associated blog entries.

Just before leaving for a week long business trip, I attempted to do a vintage recipe.  This time, it came from a cookbook that of course escapes my mind at the moment.  This is why I try to do my blog as I have cooked the dish so I remember.

In any event, these were small cakes with frosting.  The batter tasted like a cake batter right out of the box.  Which was nice though it wasn't as sweet (good for my taste buds).  The two pictured here are the only ones that came out "perfect."

Small Cakes with Frosting
 While I was away, the boyfriend drew out of the magic hat, East Timor as our country for the week.  Of course, I didn't really get a chance to research very much since on this business trip, I was required to go out all nights I was away.  Either way, I did find out quite about East Timor.

East Timor is primarily influenced by the other Southeast Asian countries and their other colony holders, such as Portugal.  Unfortunately, not many recipes listed as East Timor proper, so I found a recipe that quickly became a favorite for both the boyfriend and myself: Pastel de nata.

Pastel de Nata
1 cup milk
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 vanilla bean
1 cup white sugar
6 egg yolks
1 (17.5 ounce) package frozen puff
pastry, thawed
Pastel de Nata
1.Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C.) Lightly grease 12 muffin cups and line bottom and sides with puff pastry.
2.In a saucepan, combine milk, cornstarch, sugar and vanilla. Cook, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens. Place egg yolks in a medium bowl. Slowly whisk 1/2 cup of hot milk mixture into egg yolks. Gradually add egg yolk mixture back to remaining milk mixture, whisking constantly. Cook, stirring constantly, for 5 minutes, or until thickened. Remove vanilla bean.
3.Fill pastry-lined muffin cups with mixture and bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes, or until crust is golden brown and filling is lightly browned on top

Immediately after exploring this recipe, we went vintage and tried to go back to our healthier eats.  Unfortunately, the boyfriend had picked the cookbook, A Book of Good Dinners, which encompasses the entire dinner, from appetizer, to main dish to desert options and what each are paired with.  For the sake of our appetite and our waist lines (which by the way are actually shrinking due to our dedications to the gym and kickboxing/kung fu respectively), we only attempted to do a salad.  And since I was back from the East Coast, it was only fitting to do a salad called "California Salad."

California Salad
1 cup crab meat
2/3 cup celery
4 small tomatoes
Remove the meat from crabs and cut in pieces of uniform size, add the celery finely cut and tomatoes cut in quarters.  Marinate with French Dressing, and garnish with Mayonnaise Dressing

Mayonnaise Dressing
1/2 teaspoon mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt
few grains cayenne
Yolks 2 eggs
3/4 teaspoon lemon juice
3/4 tablespoon vinegar
2/3 cup olive oil

California Salad
Mix dry ingredients, add egg yolks and when well mixed, add oil gradually, at first drop by drop stirring constantly.  As mixture thickens, thin with vinegar and lemon juice.  Add oil and vinegar or lemon juice alternately, until all is used, stirring constantly.

French Dressing
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
3 drops onion juice
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons vinegar

Mix ingredients in order given and stir well until well blended.

Now I know that this is a lot of food to digest, but remember, we did span it over the last few weeks.  This week, we'll explore the French culinary delights.  Fortunately for me, French fries aren't on the list.  French fries are actually Belgian so no French fries on the menu, unless I decide to put them as a side dish (most likely not, we'll see though...).

Monday, February 17, 2014

Salted Pork Redeems the Danes

This past week I researched the culinary wonders of Denmark.  I can't exactly see why it was noted as Michelin star worthy for some local eateries since most of the dishes I had researched look very bland and unappetizing.  I was hoping for some flavor like the previous attempts at ethnic food, but sadly, the only thing that redeemed the dish I prepared was the salted pork.

I am not big on pork to begin with but since I wanted to end the weekend breaking my predominate vegetable diet, I figured, salted pork was the way to go.

What was worth noting was that peasant dishes are the root of the history of Danish cuisine through the Industrial Revolution.  Which was good for my budget constraints and desire to donate 10% of the remainder each week to the local food bank at the end of the year.

Stegt flæsk med persillesovs (Fried, uncured bacon with parsley sauce)

In any event, Stegt flæsk med persillesovs (Fried, uncured bacon with parsley sauce) was only tasty due to the uncured bacon even though I tried to make the parsley sauce with the bacon fat to give it a little more flavor.

It is worth noting however, the boyfriend liked this dish since he found the sauce to be tasty enough to eat with all parts of the dish.  Without the sauce, this dish had no depth we concluded so it probably won't be high on the list of repeats any time soon, though who knows, I might get bored and say, parsley sauce and potato please!  Unlikely though.  Next week, we'll go back in time and hopefully we can get a little bit of flavor back onto our pallets.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Smell of Vintage...

The smell of vintage hasn't always been of favorable smells.  Especially since the boyfriend doesn't like Brussels sprouts.  I try to introduce him to new tastes since he has claimed he has "bland taste buds" since he's from the Midwest.

I do have to admit, his pallet is kinda bland.  Then again, a pasta diet is cheap and he's also pretty frugal.  So my objective was to remain frugal (I'm not a huge spender on food or anything for that matter) and expand both our taste buds.

Unfortunately, Brussel sprouts to him are still not very tasty.  I decided to at least try Brussel sprouts in a different form to expand my pallet.  I like Brussel sprouts, yes, I said it, I like Brussel sprouts BUT not peas!!  How can I be my father's daughter?!

In any event, vintage Brussel sprouts was only my cup of tea.

Brussel sprouts au Gratin from The Household Searchlight Recipe Book (c) 1943
2 c Brussel sprouts
1 Tbs chopped parsley
1/2 c buttered crumbs
Brussels sprout au gratin (c) 1943
1/2 c grated Swiss or American cheese (I think if there wasn't cheese, the boyfriend wouldn't have even touched this dish)
Salt and Pepper
1/2 c medium white sauce

Wash sprouts thoroughly.  Cook in boiling salted water until tender.  Fill a well-oiled casserole with alternate layers of Brussels sprouts and white sauce.  Season to taste.  Sprinkle with cheese and crumbs.  Bake in a moderate oven (375 degrees F) about 20 minutes.  Garnish with parsley.  4 Servings.---Virginia Cooper, New Orleans, LA.

On another note, I googled for Virginia Cooper and found this .  I'm not sure if it is the same Virginia Cooper listed in this book, but if it was, I'll admit to her dish being tasty, even if it was just for me to enjoy on this challenge.

Next week, we'll explore the culinary dishes of Denmark.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Congo Chicken Moambe Stew

This past week, the boyfriend drew the country of Congo for the ethnic cuisine part of the challenge of 2014.  Not much is published on the food of Congo, but from what I did research, it made me realize that I could never be a vegetarian in Congo.  Vegetarianism isn't a known commodity in Central Africa as growing any sort of fresh crops is incredibly difficult.

However, root vegetables such as cassava and sweet potato are typical side dishes to a meat dish.  For this dish, I found a Congo Chicken Moambe Stew.  This is one you certainly have to allot two and a half hours to prepare and cook.

Congo Chicken Moambe Stew -- Oalala of
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 2 hours

1-1 1/3 lbs chicken parts -- cut into serving pieces
Congo Chicken Moambe (stew)
1/4 tsp of salt
1/3 tsp of pepper
1/8 tsp of cayenne pepper
1/3 onion--minced
1/3 dash of nutmeg
1 (2 2/3 oz) can of tomato sauce
1/3 Tbs of butter
1/3 c of peanut butter -- creamy and unsalted

1. Place chicken in a 6 quart soup pot with water to cover -- add salt and pepper
2. Bring to a boil, lower to a simmer and cook 1 to 1 1/2 hours
3. Remove chicken and reserve 1 1/2 cups of the chicken broth
4. In another pan, sate cayenne pepper, onion, nutmeg, tomato sauce and butter for 3 minutes
5. To the pan, add the cooked chicken and 1 1/2 cups of reserved broth and simmer covered for 15 minutes
6. Add peanut butter to thicken, place in a 350 degree F oven for 30 minutes, uncovered
7. Serve warm with cooked rice

Out of all the chicken dishes I have prepared, this had to be the tastiest, aside from the roasted chicken I did from Thomas Keller's toolbox.  The mildness of the peanut butter and tomato sauce really pulled this chicken to another degree.

Next week, we'll explore the Searchlight Recipe Book (c) 1943.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Throw Back to 1908...

This past week, the boyfriend drew The Inglenook Cook Book, dated 1908.  He found this book on eBay and gave it to me as one of my Christmas' presents.  Neither of us are really big on Christmas since we don't buy into the whole commercialism aspect of it so we always struggle in trying to figure out what to get the other for Christmas, even if its something photography or cooking related.

In any event, part of the challenge of 2014 is a week of vintage.  I really didn't know what to prepare out of The Inglenook Cook Book, since there are a number of different types of recipes.  Mindful of my "diet," and quest to keep things fresh, I caved.  Unnecessarily, but I was having the week where my "diet" never makes sense only that being a woman in childbearing years without the child.

I also wanted to keep the ingredients simple and perhaps out of the cabinet for this challenge since I'm sure that's what the women of 1908 would do.

Introducing, Chocolate Fudges from Sister Emma Carstensen, Elgin, Illinois.

Chocolate Fudges (c) 1908
"Take 1 cup of sugar (I reduced to 1/2 cup), 1/3 cup of sweet cream (whipping cream), and 1 heaping tablespoonful of grated chocolate; boil until it hairs from the tines of a fork.  Stir briskly till cool, pour into a pan and cut into squares."

Simple right?  Way too simple!  In my days of making fudge, which weren't many since my family was never big on sweets, always involved using sweetened condensed milk.  Now that I know that whipping cream is a good substitute, I can replicate this to a better chocolate (like 67% coco).

In any event, I learned something new from this little venture and hopefully this upcoming week's challenge can pull us through to another vintage week with another book.

Next week, The Republic of Congo...

Monthly update of funds going towards the Food Bank: $4.02