Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Fresh out of the oven

More apple pie, originally uploaded by mysterybridgers.

I have been craving apple pie like nobody's business. Thanksgiving seemed like a good excuse to make one again. This is again the recipe from that crazy religious cookbook Ten Talents.

I was much more haphazard when making this pie than I am normally. I barely looked at the recipe and just kind of threw things into the pot and into the pie. The pie is cooling now so we have not tried it yet, but it is bound to be cool soon given how cold it is in our apartment.

I'm sure it will be pretty good though because the apples that went into it were all good. I used half granny smith and half pink lady apples. Both varieties were really tasty, but the pink lady apples were a very pleasant surprise. I usually like to use half sweet and half sour apples in the pie. The old standby, granny smith, is always good for the sour apples. I chose the pink lady apples because they smelled amazing as I went by them in the store, but as it turns out their are not all that sweet. They are actually a perfect crisp, slightly sour, slightly sweet apple that should work well in the pie (even if it is on the sour side), but would also be very good just as a lovely crunchy snack. I am going to have to get some more of these pink lady apples.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Carrot Ice Cream

carrot ice cream

It was time for a potluck at work, and usually I use this opportunity to experiment with odd ice cream flavors.

This time it was carrot, which was a really unique and tasty ice cream flavor. In order not to kill the raw carrot flavor, which is very subtle, I went with a gelato base, which used half and half rather than heavy cream.

2 eggs, beaten with 1/2 cup sugar until light yellow.
Mix in 1 and 1/2 cup half and half
1 cup of freshly juiced and filtered carrot juice
You should not use any of the commercial carrot juices, because thanks to the Odwalla lawsuits of the late nineties, these are now all pasteurized. Pasteurization, even flash pasteurization, makes the carrots taste coppery, and eliminates much of their natural sweetness.

Pour this into your ice cream maker and freeze according to the manufacturer's instructions.

This will turn out well, slightly dense, like a gelato. But it will not keep in the freezer, and will ice up and solidify if stored there, so make this when you have enough people to eat a whole quart of ice cream, which won't be much of a chore in this case.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Beer Cheese Soup!

beer cheese soup

This is a recipe from April 13th, 2007. We made it again recently, and it was just as tasty as before. This beer cheese soup is fantastic with a nice roll or two for dipping.

Cut up about four small potatoes, and start them boiling.

While the potatoes are boiling, sweat some aromatics.

Cut up a stalk of celery and one large, or two small, leeks. Don't forget the leeks.

Start some olive oil (About a tablespoon,) in the bottom of your soup pot. Add the leeks, the celery, and a teaspoon or more of fresh thyme leaves. A pinch of salt will sweat out the water in the aromatics. Cook these over medium-low heat until they have a tiny bit of color on the edges and are soft.

Crack open a beer. Pour a little into the pot, enough to just cover the bottom of the pot, lower heat and then let the leeks, etc simmer in the beer until very soft, 15 minutes.

At this point, (if the potatoes are done,) drain the potatoes, and reserve some of the water. (Two or three cups.)

Turn the heat up to medium, add the drained potatoes to the onions, and some chipotle paste...

What, you don't have chipotle paste? Here's what you do...

Take 1 can of Chipotle in Adobo sauce (available in the ethnic food aisle, in the Mexican food section, it should be about $1.40,) grind the whole can of chipotles and the adobo sauce (open the can and get all the stuff out, I mean,) anyhow, blend that into a paste in a blender or food processor. Put the resulting paste in one of those yogurt containers that you washed out and stuck into the junk drawer. (Yes, I know you do that.) Pour just enough canola oil over it to keep air off the surface. When you want to use some, pour off the oil, and use about a teaspoon to a tablespoon at a time, then pour the oil back on. When you get the paste out, use a CLEAN spoon, and don't touch the oil or the paste in the container at all. This will ensure that this will keep in the fridge as your new super-condiment for about 3 to 4 months. (Mix some with ketchup and dip your soy corn dogs or french fries in it. Killer.)

We now return to soup.

Like I was saying, add a teaspoon or more of the chipotle paste and the rest of the beer. (Or another whole one, if you already drank the rest of the first one.) Adjust the seasoning. It should be a little less than salty, because the cheese (you forgot about the cheese, didn't you?) the cheese is salty. Anyhow, cook this until the alcohol burns off, about twenty minutes.

Run all of this through a food mill, or blend with a stick blender until smooth. If the soup is too thick, add some of the potato water until it is the texture of your choice. (Or some more beer, or just normal water.)

Grate up some cheddar cheese, I'd say 4 to 6 ounces, add it a small handful at a time, stir constantly, until it melts into the soup, then add another small handful, etc. Repeat until all the cheese is incorporated into the soup.

Taste and adjust the seasoning to your liking, and serve!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Pear Raspberry Pie

pear raspberry pie, originally uploaded by mysterybridgers.

We have a few homemade dishes to blog about, but instead I'm going to blog about this amazing pie we got last night at a place called Mission Pie, which, aptly enough, is located in the Mission district here in San Francisco.

I am a big pie lover--especially fruit pie and I have never found any pie place in San Francisco that made good pie (other than our own kitchen)--until now. We were talking about how much we wanted some pie, but neither one of us wanted to make any. So, out of desperation, I searched the internet again for the "best pie" in San Francisco. Mission Pie, a fairly new place, caught my eye.

So, with fairly low expectations, we drove down into the mission in the rain and found a parking space right across the street from Mission Pie (it is not an easy task to park close to your destination here in SF--I viewed it as a good omen). We went into the pie place and were pleasantly surprised by the choices. I originally wanted apple pie, but when I saw the pear raspberry pie, I had to try it. The Crusader got the walnut pie. As of this posting a substantial slice of pie is $3.50 and a whole pie is $18.00.

We took our slices of pie home and ate them with some peppermint tea. The pies were amazing. The pears were wonderfully tender and the tart raspberries were delicious. Much to my delight, neither pie was too sweet (which is a common problem with pie) and the crust was flaky and delicious.

From now on when we want pie and don't want to make it, we are going to get it from Mission Pie. What is really cool is that we will also be supporting Pie Ranch, which is affiliated with Mission Pie. Pie Ranch is an educational center that teaches young people about the full cycle of food production from farm to table among other things. Fun stuff and worth supporting.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Mac and Cheese and Salad

mac and cheese and salad, originally uploaded by mysterybridgers.

Comfort meals are all the rage at our place now that the weather is getting colder. The mac and cheese is from the Vegetarian Meat and Potatoes Cookbook and is another winner. There is some cheese in the recipe, but it is mostly tofu, onions, miso, and some other ingredients blended up to make the sauce. The top of the baked mac and cheese should have more browning on it, but our oven is not so good at browning. Our landlord basically got the cheapest new model of appliances for our kitchen (but hey, at least we got new appliances). This worked out pretty good for the dishwasher and the fridge, but the stove is seriously lacking. It does ultimately do the job though, so we can't complain too much.

The cheese sauce for the pasta is actually is the last thing that our blender blended before it died. You may remember me complaining about our blender being not so great. Well, the motor didn't give out, but the plastic piece holding the jar to the base completely disintegrated (I blame the bad air in Philly when we lived there). It did manage to completely blend the cheese sauce before it died, so it at least had good timing. Now it is new blender time. We'll let you know how the new blender works out when we get it.

The salad that we had with the mac and cheese is just some store bought salad mix with a quickie dressing that the Crusader whipped up. He crushed some heirloom cherry tomatoes in a mortar with some balsamic vinegar, olive oil, and some other tasty stuff (I think lemon juice was one of the things in there). It turned out really good, but then the Crusader has the magic food touch, so pretty much everything he makes is good.