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  • pixeltheatre 12:05 am on May 14, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , gumbo   

    Daring Cooks 25th Challenge: Chicken gumbo – Laissez les bons temps rouler! 

    20110501-114533.jpgOur May hostess, Denise, of There’s a Newf in My Soup!, challenged The Daring Cooks to make Gumbo! She provided us with all the recipes we’d need, from creole spices, homemade stock, and Louisiana white rice, to Drew’s Chicken & Smoked Sausage Gumbo and Seafood Gumbo from My New Orleans: The Cookbook, by John Besh. I had often heard of gumbo but never tried it. There were plenty of nice spicy sausage in this recipe, and it can only get better when you start frying everything in duck fat. Though heavy on the prep work, this recipe went smoothly. The aroma as it simmered for an hour and a half was just sublime. This will be a nice repeat in a colder time of the year, with perhaps an extra dash or two of Tabasco for extra heat. Very nice challenge.

    Drew’s Chicken & Smoked Sausage Gumbo

    Minimally adapted from My New Orleans: The Cookbook, by John Besh
    Serves 10-12


    1 cup (240 ml) (230 gm) rendered chicken fat, duck fat, or canola oil
    1 cup (240 ml) (140 gm) (5 oz) flour
    2 large onions, diced
    1 chicken (3 ½ to 4 lbs.), cut into 10 pieces
    2 tablespoons (30 ml) (15 gm) (½ oz) Basic Creole Spices (recipe follows), or store-bought Creole spice blend
    2 pounds (2 kilograms) spicy smoked sausage, sliced ½ inch (15mm) thick
    2 stalks celery, diced
    2 green bell peppers (capsicum), seeded and diced
    1 tomato, seeded and chopped
    2 cloves garlic, minced
    Leaves from 2 sprigs of fresh thyme
    3 quarts (3 liters) Basic Chicken Stock (recipe follows), or canned chicken stock
    2 bay leaves
    6 ounces (175 gm) andouille sausage, chopped
    2 cups (480 ml) (320 gm) (11 oz) sliced fresh okra, ½ -inch (15mm) thick slices (or frozen, if fresh is not available)
    1 tablespoon (15 ml) Worcestershire sauce
    Salt, to taste
    Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
    Filé powder, to taste
    Tabasco, to taste
    4-6 cups (1 – 1½ liters) (650 gm – 950 gm) cooked Basic Louisiana White Rice (recipe follows)


    1. Prepare homemade chicken stock, if using (recipe below).
    2. Prepare homemade Basic Creole Spices, if using (recipe below).
    3. Season the chicken pieces with about 2 tablespoons of the Creole Spices while you prepare the vegetables.

    4. Make sure all of your vegetables are cut, diced, chopped, minced and ready to go before beginning the roux. You must stand at the stove and stir the roux continuously to prevent it from burning.

    5. In a large cast-iron or heavy-bottomed pan, heat the chicken fat, duck fat, or canola oil over high heat. Whisk the flour into the hot oil – it will start to sizzle. Reduce the heat to moderate, and continue whisking until the roux becomes deep brown in color, about 15 minutes.

    6. Add the onions. Switch to a wooden spoon and stir the onions into the roux. Reduce the heat to medium-low. Continue stirring until the roux becomes a glossy dark brown, about 10 minutes.

    7. Add the chicken to the pot; raise the heat to moderate, and cook, turning the pieces until slightly browned, about 10 minutes.

    8. Add the sliced smoked sausage and stir for about a minute.

    9. Add the celery, bell peppers, tomato, and garlic, and continue stirring for about 3 minutes.
    10. Add the thyme, chicken stock, and bay leaves. Bring the gumbo to a boil, stirring occasionally.
    11. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, for 45 minutes. Stir occasionally, skimming off the fat from the surface of the gumbo every so often.
    12. Add the chopped andouille, okra, and Worcestershire. Season with salt and pepper, several dashes of filé powder, and Tabasco, all to taste.
    13. Simmer for another 45 minutes, continuing to skim the fat from the surface of the gumbo. Remove the bay leaves and serve in bowls over rice. Pass more filé powder at the table if desired.

    Basic Louisiana White Rice

    Adapted from My New Orleans: The Cookbook, by John Besh
    Servings: About 4 cups


    1 tablespoon (30 ml) (30 gm) (1 oz) chicken fat, extra-virgin olive oil, or butter
    1 small onion, minced
    1½ cups (360 m) ((280 gm) (10 oz) Louisiana (or another long-grain white rice)
    3 cups (750 ml) Basic Chicken Stock
    1 bay leaf
    1-2 pinches salt


    1. Put the fat, oil, or butter and the onions into a medium saucepan and sweat the onions over moderate heat until they are translucent, about 5 minutes.
    2. Pour the rice into the pan and stir for 2 minutes.
    3. Add the chicken stock and bring to a boil.
    4. Add the bay leaf and salt.
    5. Cover the pan with a lid, reduce the heat to low, and cook for 18 minutes.
    6. Remove the pan from the heat, fluff the rice with a fork, and serve.

    • Audax Artifex 5:12 am on May 15, 2011 Permalink | Reply

      Your gumbo is s.t.u.n.n.i.n.g I love the photo it looks so delicious well done.

      Cheers from Audax in Sydney Australia.

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  • pixeltheatre 12:01 am on October 14, 2010 Permalink | Reply  

    Daring Cooks 18th challenge: Grape Leaves Stuffed 

    Our October 2010 hostess, Lori of Lori’s Lipsmacking Goodness, has challenged The Daring Cooks to stuff grape leaves. Lori chose a recipe from Aromas of Aleppo and a recipe from The New Book of Middle Eastern Food. I’ve always enjoyed dolmades and was glad to get an opportunity to make these from scratch. Since Thanksgiving was right around the corner, I decided to give these a twist by adding a spicy roasted butternut squash, based on a Jaime Oliver recipe. Turned out alright, but next time, I’ll use the usual greek recipe.

    Wara Einab or Dolma/Cold Stuffed Grape Leaves
    Adapted from Claudia Roden’s The New Book of Middle Eastern Food a Borzoi Book, published by Alfred A. Knopf

    Yield: 6 to 8 servings


    24 – 30 preserved or fresh grape leaves.
    1¼ cups (300 ml) (9 oz) (250 gm) long grain rice
    1- 3 tomatoes, peeled and chopped
    1 large onion, finely chopped or 4 tablespoons (60 ml) (35 gm) finely chopped scallions
    2 tablespoons (30 ml) (25 gm) finely chopped flat leaf parsley
    2 tablespoons (30 ml) (15 gm) crushed dried mint
    ¼ teaspoon (1¼ ml) (1½ gm) ground cinnamon
    ¼ teaspoon (1¼ ml) (1½ gm) ground allspice
    1 teaspoon (5 ml) (6½ gm) dill
    Salt and pepper
    2 tomatoes, sliced **optional**
    3 or 4 cloves garlic
    2/3 cup (160 ml) extra-virgin olive oil
    1 teaspoon (5 ml) (5 gm) sugar
    Juice of 1 lemon or more


    If using grape leaves preserved in brine, to remove salt put them in a bowl and pour boiling water over them. Make sure that the water penetrates well between the layers, and leave them soaking for about twenty minutes, then change the water a time or two using fresh cold water.

    If using fresh leaves, plunge a few at a time in boiling water for a few seconds only, until they become limp, and lift them out.


    1. Pour boiling water over the rice and stir well, then rinse with cold water and let drain.

    2. Mix the rice with the chopped tomatoes, onion or scallion, parsley, mint, cinnamon, allspice, dill, salt and pepper to taste.

    3. Place a grape leaf on a flat surface, vein side up.

    4. Place about two teaspoons (10 ml) of the filling in the center of the leaf, near the stem edge.

    5. Roll the leaf end to end, starting from the stem edge. As you roll, fold the sides of the leaf in toward the center. The leaf should resemble a small cigar, about 2 to 2 1/2 inches (50 mm to 65mm) long.

    6. Repeat with the remaining leaves and filling.

    a.(You can freeze the stuffed grape leaves at this point. Just line a baking sheet with wax paper. When firmly frozen, transfer to an airtight plastic bag place back in the freezer.)

    7. Pack the stuffed leaves tightly in a large pan lined with tomato slices or imperfect grape leaves Place a whole garlic clove in between them for extra flavor. The tightness will help prevent the rolls from unraveling.

    8. Mix together olive oil, 2/3 cup (160 ml) water, sugar and lemon juice and pour over the stuffed leaves. Put a small heat proof plate on top of the leaves to prevent them from unwinding, cover the pan and simmer very gently for about 1 hour, until the rolls are thoroughly cooked, adding water occasionally, a cup at a time, as the liquid in the pan becomes absorbed. Cool in the pan before turning out. Serve cold.

    There are many variations you can use but here are just a few suggestions:

    Add ¼ cup (60 ml) (1½ oz) (45 gm) raisins or currants and ¼ cup (60 ml) (1⅓ oz) (40 gm) pine nuts to the filling.

    Mix a pinch or two of powdered saffron with the olive oil and water before pouring over the stuffed grape leaves.

    Soak about ¼ cup (60 ml) (1½ oz) (45 gm) dried chickpeas in water overnight. Crush them using a processor or blender and add them to the filling. In this case use ¼ cup (60 ml) (1¾ oz) (50 gm) less rice. You could also use drained canned chickpeas.


    • Audax Artifex 3:53 am on October 14, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      WOW great to hear that you liked the challenge (not the butternut filling so much) they look really delicious. Cheers from Audax in Sydney Australia.

    • cuppy 2:37 pm on October 14, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      I was so absorbed with trying to make a cuppy-perfect-flavored dolma I didn’t even experiment. 😉 I love butternut squash, tho, so I might like your stuffed leaves!

    • Mary 5:52 pm on October 15, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      I think butternut squash sounds like a fantastic filling, and much better than my Thanksgiving leftover one: I used the turkey liver.
      Yours look great with the tomato wedges.

  • pixeltheatre 12:01 am on September 14, 2010 Permalink | Reply  

    Daring Cooks 17th challenge: Canning – Ginger Jalapeno Pepper Jelly 

    The September 2010 Daring Cooks’ challenge was hosted by John of Eat4Fun. John chose to challenge The Daring Cooks to learn about food preservation, mainly in the form of canning and freezing. He challenged everyone to make a recipe and preserve it. John’s source for food preservation information was from The National Center for Home Food Preservation. Although John provided an apple butter butter recipe to try, we were free to use any other favorite recipe. They key was to use one of the preservation techniques – freezing or hot water canning. I had done this type of canning before. Also, since buying a jar of ginger pepper jelly at Pike’s Market in Seattle, I wanted to see if I could somewhat replicate that recipe.

    I started with a Jalepeno jelly recipe by Sue Delgrego, found on Allrecipes.com. I only did half a recipe, and it yielded almost three jars. I added a couple of heaping tablespoons of fresh pureed ginger. On a whim, instead of discarding the pepper pulp, I pureed it and added it back to the sauce pan. I don’t think I used quite enough gelatin, though. I couldn’t find liquid pectin anywhere, so had to resort to Knox gelatin sheets. Used three small ones. It’s a work in progress. Still, I like the final results. Packs a nice heat punch. On cream cheese and a bagel?… Hmmmm… Thanks for the challenge, John!

    • Monkeyshines 11:32 am on September 14, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      Mmmmm! That jalapeno ginger jelly sounds fabulous! Very creative. We’re like you – would definitely have left the pulp in – I hate to take out any of the flavor or body of the food.

    • chef_d 6:45 pm on September 14, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      Sounds intriguing and delicious! Good job on this challenge!

    • cuppy 2:33 pm on October 14, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      Mmm… two of my favorite things in a jelly? I’ll take a bagel, too, please!

  • pixeltheatre 12:01 am on August 27, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , petit four   

    Daring Bakers 32nd Challenge: Ice cream petit fours 

    The August 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Elissa of 17 and Baking. For the first time, The Daring Bakers partnered with Sugar High Fridays for a co-event and Elissa was the gracious hostess of both. Using the theme of beurre noisette, or browned butter, Elissa chose to challenge Daring Bakers to make a pound cake to be used in either a Baked Alaska or in Ice Cream Petit Fours. The sources for Elissa’s challenge were Gourmet magazine and David Lebovitz’s “The Perfect Scoop”.

    This month’s challenge involved making ice cream once more. I was surprised by this ice cream recipe, mostly by the fact that the cream never gets cooked, but just mixed in at the end. Odd, I thought. But I was game to try it. I love the taste and smell of brown butter, so making the pound cake was simple enough. I followed the ice cream recipe, and it seemed to have come out ok. That’s where things got a little astray. I built this dessert over 4 days, due to a busy schedule that week. Which caused my cake to dry out a bit in the fridge. Which caused it to not stick properly to the ice cream, even after the requisite freezing time. Which caused the layers to fall apart when I tried to dip them into the warm chocolate ganache. The fact that I cut the squares too small (sorry, but where I come from, petit fours are, well, petit) didn’t help either. After a couple of attempts at dipping, I quickly realized a very frustrating time was ahead, and bailed by dumping the chocolate over the cut squares. There. Challenge completed. Sorta. (i had spent the week battling uncooperative tables and borders in Word at work, and my patience was running very thin.) I put everything back into the freezer and later broke off sections and stored in plastic containers. I confesss I threw out most it. The ice cream came out icy in the end, despite using my ice cream maker. This cream-at-the-end business still doesn’t feel right. Certainly didn’t taste right. So, conclusion: great recipe for the cake part, I’ll stick to my crème anglaise recipe for vanilla ice cream, and will try to do everything in one go next time.

    Ice cream petit fours

    Brown Butter Pound Cake – 2 hours (includes cooling time)

    Chocolate Glaze – 15 minutes

    Assembly of Ice Cream Petit Fours – Ice cream must be frozen ahead of time several hours, then the cake and ice cream freeze overnight. After dipping, the petit fours freeze for one hours.

    Equipment required:
    • Small and medium saucepans
    • Paring knife
    • 2 quart (2 litres) bowl
    • Electric mixer
    • Whisk
    • Spatula
    • Sieve
    • 9”x9” (23cmx23cm) square baking pan
    • 10” (25 cm) skillet
    • Cake leveler/serrated knife
    • Cooling racks
    • Rimmed half sheets
    • Teacups
    • Plastic wrap
    • Piping bags (optional)
    • Ice cream maker (optional)
    • Cooking blow torch (optional)


    Vanilla Ice Cream

    1 cup (250ml) whole milk
    A pinch of salt
    3/4 cup (165g) sugar
    1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise OR 2 teaspoons (10ml) pure vanilla extract
    2 cups (500ml) heavy (approx 35% butterfat) cream
    5 large egg yolks
    1 teaspoon (5ml) pure vanilla extract

    1. Heat the milk, salt, and sugar in a medium saucepan until the liquid steams. Scrape out the seeds of the vanilla bean with a paring knife and add to the milk, along with the bean pod. Cover, remove from heat, and let infuse for an hour. (If you do not have a vanilla bean, simply heat the milk, salt, and sugar in a medium saucepan until the liquid steams, then let cool to room temperature.)

    2. Set up an ice bath by placing a 2-quart (2 litre) bowl inside a large bowl partially filled with water and ice. Put a strainer on top of the smaller bowl and pour in the cream.

    3. In another bowl, lightly beat the egg yolks together. Reheat the milk in the medium saucepan until warmed, and then gradually pour ¼ cup warmed milk into the yolks, constantly whisking to keep the eggs from scrambling. Once the yolks are warmed, scrape the yolk and milk mixture back into the saucepan of warmed milk and cook over low heat. Stir constantly and scrape the bottom with a spatula until the mixture thickens into a custard which thinly coats the back of the spatula.

    4. Strain the custard into the heavy cream and stir the mixture until cooled. Add the vanilla extract (1 teaspoon [5ml] if you are using a vanilla bean; 3 teaspoons [15ml] if you are not using a vanilla bean) and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled, preferably overnight.

    5. Remove the vanilla bean and freeze in an ice cream maker. If you don’t have an ice cream maker, you can make it without a machine. See instructions from David Lebovitz: http://www.davidlebovitz.com/archives/2007/07/making_ice_crea_1.html

    Brown Butter Pound Cake

    19 tablespoons (9.5 oz) (275g) unsalted (sweet) butter
    2 cups (200g) sifted cake flour (not self-rising; sift before measuring) (See “Note” section for cake flour substitution)
    1 teaspoon (5g) baking powder
    1/2 teaspoon (3g) salt
    1/2 cup (110g) packed light brown sugar
    1/3 (75g) cup granulated sugar
    4 large eggs
    1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

    1. Preheat the oven to 325°F/160°C and put a rack in the center. Butter and flour a 9”x9” (23cmx23cm) square pan.

    2. Place the butter in a 10” (25cm) skillet over medium heat. Brown the butter until the milk solids are a dark chocolate brown and the butter smells nutty. (Don’t take your eyes off the butter in case it burns.) Pour into a shallow bowl and chill in the freezer until just congealed, 15-30 minutes.

    3. Whisk together cake flour, baking powder, and salt.

    4. Beat the brown butter, light brown sugar, and granulated sugar in an electric mixer until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat in the eggs one at a time, mixing well, and then the vanilla extract.

    5. Stir in the flour mixture at low speed until just combined.

    6. Scrape the batter into the greased and floured 9”x9” (23cmx23cm) square pan. Smooth the top with a rubber spatula and rap the pan on the counter. Bake until golden brown on top and when a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 25 minutes.

    7. Cool in the pan 10 minutes. Run a knife along the edge and invert right-side-up onto a cooling rack to cool completely.

    Chocolate Glaze (For the Ice Cream Petit Fours)

    9 ounces (250g) dark chocolate, finely chopped
    1 cup (250 ml) heavy (approx 35% butterfat) cream
    1 1/2 tablespoons (32g) light corn syrup, Golden syrup, or agave nectar
    2 teaspoons (10ml) vanilla extract

    Stir the heavy cream and light corn syrup in a small saucepan over medium heat until it comes to a boil. Remove from heat and add the dark chocolate. Let sit 30 seconds, then stir to completely melt the chocolate. Stir in the vanilla and let cool until tepid before glazing the petit fours.

    Assembly Instructions – Ice Cream Petit Fours

    1. Line a 9”x9” (23cmx23cm) pan with plastic wrap, so that no sides of the pan are exposed and so there is some extra plastic wrap hanging off the sides. Spread 1 ¾ to 2 cups (450ml to 500ml) ice cream into the pan. Cover with more plastic wrap and freeze several hours.

    2. Once the brown butter pound cake has completely cooled, level the top with a cake leveler or a serrated knife. Then split the cake in half horizontally to form two thin layers.

    3. Unwrap the frozen ice cream. Flip out onto one of the layers of cake and top with the second layer of cake. Wrap well in plastic wrap and return to the freezer overnight.

    4. Make the chocolate glaze (see above.)

    5. While the glaze cools, trim ¾” (2cm) off each side of the ice cream cake to leave a perfectly square 7.5” (19cm) ice cream cake. Cut the cake into twenty five petit fours, each 1.5”x1.5” (4cmx4cm).

    6. Glaze the petit fours one at a time: place a petit four on a fork and spoon chocolate glaze over it.

    7. Place the petit fours on a parchment-lined baking sheet and return to the freezer for one hour.

  • pixeltheatre 12:02 am on June 14, 2010 Permalink | Reply  

    Daring Cooks 14th Challenge: Three Spice Liver Pâté 

    Our hostesses this month, Evelyne of Cheap Ethnic Eatz, and Valerie of a The Chocolate Bunny, chose delicious pate with freshly baked bread as their June Daring Cook’s challenge! They’ve provided us with 4 different pate recipes to choose from and are allowing us to go wild with our homemade bread choice.

    A nice recipe, if a little gory in its uncooked state. Prepared this one in time for a family BBQ. Nice consistency and balance of spices. I realized too late I also had to bake a baguette from scratch for this challenge. Having baked quite a few of these in the past, I submit a picture of one baked three Christmases ago. So, either I’ve only completed  half of this challenge, or was partly way ahead of it, you be the judge. 🙂

    Three Spice Liver Pâté

    Yields one 25 by 12,5 cm (10 by 5 inch) terrine or loaf pan

    1 lb / 454 grams pork liver (or beef or combination)
    1/2 lb / 227 grams ground pork
    1/2 lb / 227 grams pork fat (or pork belly)
    2 cloves garlic
    2 shallots
    1 whole egg and 1 egg yolk
    1/2 tsp / 2 ml cinnamon
    1/2 tsp / 2 ml coriander (ground or crushed)
    1/2 tsp / 2 ml cumin
    3/4 tsp / 3 ml salt
    1 tbps / 15 ml coarse freshly cracked peppercorns
    2 tbps / 30 ml cognac
    2 bay leaves
    1 package of bacon

    Preheat oven to to 350ºF (180ºC).

    Cut liver and pork fat into small pieces and add to food processor. Add ground pork, garlic, shallots, cinnamon, cumin, coriander, salt and pepper. Grind until smooth.

    In mixing bowl, incorporate the meat and liver mixture with the cognac and eggs.

    Line bottom of baking or ceramic pan with overlapping pieces of bacon. Place a bay leaf on the bottom and then fill with meat/liver mixture. Cover top with another bay leaf and then overlapping pieces of bacon.

    Place in oven in the larger baking pan and add enough water to cover 2/3rds of the pan containing the meat/liver mixture. Bake for about 1-1.5 hrs.

    The pâté will contract and the juices will be on the bottom. Allow to cool and soak up the juices. Remove any excess bacon and discard the bay leaves.

    French Baguette
    yield: Three 16″ baguettes

    1/2 cup / 120 ml cool water
    1/16 teaspoon active dry yeast
    1 cup / 240 ml flour

    1 tsp / 5 ml active dry yeast
    1 cup to 1 1/4 cups / 240 ml to 300 ml lukewarm water*
    all of the starter
    3 1/2 cups / 840 ml flour
    1 1/2 tsp / 7 ml salt

    *Use the lesser amount in summer (or in a humid environment), the greater amount in winter (or in a dry climate), and somewhere in between the rest of the year, or if your house is climate controlled.

    Make the starter by mixing the yeast with the water, then mixing in the flour to make a soft dough. Cover and let rest at room temperature for about 14 hours; overnight works well. The starter should have risen and become bubbly.

    Mix active dry yeast with the water and then combine with the starter, flour, and salt. Mix and knead everything together—by hand, mixer or bread machine set on the dough cycle—till you’ve made a soft, somewhat smooth dough; it should be cohesive, but the surface may still be a bit rough. Knead for about 5 minutes on speed 2 of a stand mixer.

    Place the dough in a lightly greased medium-size bowl, cover the bowl, and let the dough rise for 3 hours, gently deflating it and turning it over after 1 hour, and then again after 2 hours.

    Turn the dough out onto a lightly greased work surface. Divide it into three equal pieces. Shape each piece into a rough, slightly flattened oval, cover with greased plastic wrap, and let them rest for 15 minutes.

    Working with one piece of dough at a time, fold the dough in half lengthwise, and seal the edges with the heel of your hand. Flatten it slightly, and fold and seal again. With the seam-side down, cup your fingers and gently roll the dough into a 15″ log. Place the logs seam-side down onto a lightly greased or parchment-lined sheet pan or pans.

    Cover them with a cover or lightly greased plastic wrap, and allow the loaves to rise till they’ve become very puffy, about 1 1/2 hours. Towards the end of the rising time, preheat your oven to 450ºF (240ºC).

    Using a very sharp knife held at about a 45° angle, make three 8″ vertical slashes in each baguette. Spritz the baguettes heavily with warm water; this will help them develop a crackly-crisp crust.

    Bake the baguettes until they’re a very deep golden brown, 25 to 30 minutes. Remove them from the oven and cool on a rack. Or, for the very crispiest baguettes, turn off the oven, crack it open about 2″, and allow the baguettes to cool in the oven.

  • pixeltheatre 12:01 am on April 27, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: english pudding, suet   

    Daring Bakers’ 28th Challenge: English Pudding 

    The April 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Esther of The Lilac Kitchen. She challenged everyone to make a traditional British pudding using, if possible, a very traditional British ingredient: suet. I had heard of English pudding before, but never had it. The beef suet was interesting, so I decided to try to use it. I found it fairly easily, in frozen pellet form, at Famous Foods. The recipe was pretty straightforward. I didn’t have any self-rising flour, so I added some baking powder, as suggested. I don’t think I used enough, though, as the top lid did not rise much. I went with a bacon and leek filling. I steamed it for an hour and a half. The result was interesting. The beef suet definitely has a distintive taste. I can’t say I didn’t like it, but I’m not sure I liked it. But it was interesting nonetheless.  As a good challenge should be. I still have some suet left and will try this recipe again, but baled instead of steamed.

    English Pudding

    Preparation time: Preparation time is 5 to 20 minutes depending on the filling. Cooking time is 1 to 5 hours so do this on a day you have jobs around the house to do or are popping in and out as you need to occasionally check the pan hasn’t boiled dry! However it is otherwise a very low time requirement dish.

    Equipment required:
    • 2 pint (1 litre) pudding bowl or steam-able containers to contain a similar amount they should be higher rather than wide and low
    Traditional pudding bowl so you know what is normally used.

    • Steamer or large pan, ideally with a steaming stand, upturned plate or crumpled up piece of kitchen foil
    • Mixing bowl
    • Spoon
    • Measuring cups or scales
    • Foil or grease proof paper to cover the bowl
    • String

    Type 1 Puddings — suet crusts.

    Pudding Crust for both Savoury Pudding or Sweet Pudding (using suet or a suet substitute):


    (250 grams/12 ounces) Self-raising flour (Note* If you cannot find self-raising flour, use a combination of all-purpose flour and baking powder.)
    (175 grams/6 ounces) Shredded suet or suet substitute (i.e., Vegetable Suet, Crisco, Lard)
    (a pinch) Salt and pepper (Note* If making a savory dish, can be replaced with spices for sweet if wished.)
    (210 millilitres/a little less than a cup) Water (Note* You can use a milk or a water and milk mix for a richer pastry.)

    1. Mix the flour and suet together.
    2. Season the flour and suet mixture with salt and pepper if savory and just a bit of salt and/or spices if sweet.
    3. Add the water, a tablespoonful at a time, as you mix the ingredients together. Make up the pastry to firm an elastic dough that leaves the bowl clean. The liquid amounts are only an estimate and most recipes just say water to mix.
    4. Don’t over handle the pastry or it will be too hard.
    5. Reserve a quarter for the lid and roll out the rest and line a well-greased bowl.
    6. At this point add your filling.. a couple of options are give below but have fun and go wild!
    7. Roll the final piece of pastry out into a circle big enough to cover the top of the basin, dampen the edges and put in position on the pudding, pinching the edges together to seal.
    8. Seal well and cover with a double sheet of foil – pleated in the centre to allow room for expansion while cooking. Secure with string, and place it in a steamer over boiling water.
    9. Steam for up to 5 hours, you may need to add more boiling water halfway through or possibly more often. There is a lot of leeway in this steaming time and different recipes give different steaming times. Delia Smith says 5 hours for Steak and kidney where as Mrs Beeton says 2.5 for a similar dish! One way to tell that it is cooked is when the pastry changes colour and goes from white to a sort of light golden brown. It is also hard to over steam a pudding so you can leave it bubbling away until you are ready.

    This sort of pastry can also be used as a topping for a baked meat pie and becomes quite a light crusty pastry when baked.

    Bacon and Leek filling

    8 slices of bacon, chopped and cooked
    3 small leeks, finely chopped and cooked
    enough chicken broth to soak the filling
    salt and pepper to taste
    dash of smoked paprika.

    • Audax Artifex 12:52 am on April 27, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      WOW that does look like a wonderful photo (I only saw it for a moment then flickr shut down LOL) well done on this challenge. Cheers from Audax in Sydney Australia.

    • Elra 4:16 pm on April 27, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      I am not sure why, but I can not see your photographs. I can only imagine, must be superb.

  • pixeltheatre 12:01 am on April 14, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , stew   

    Daring Cooks 12th Challenge: Brunswick stew 

    The 2010 April Daring Cooks challenge was hosted by Wolf of Wolf’s Den. She chose to challenge Daring Cooks to make Brunswick Stew. Wolf chose recipes for her challenge from The Lee Bros. Southern Cookbook by Matt Lee and Ted Lee, and from the Callaway, Virginia Ruritan Club. I can’t say I’m too fond of stews, but when I saw that the first ingredient was a 1/4 lb of bacon, I was in! ;0

    The history of this stew, as explained by Wolf:

    Brunswick Stew has a long, and oft debated history. Brunswick, Georgia claimed that the first Brunswick Stew was created there in 1898. There is, at the Golden Isles Welcome Center on Interstate 95, a bronzed stew pot with a plaque proclaiming this fact.

    However, Brunswick, Virginia claims that the first Brunswick Stew was created there by a camp cook named Jimmy Matthews in 1828, for a hunting expedition led by Dr. Creed Haskings, a member of the Virginia State Legislature for a number of years. He was said to have used squirrel in the original Brunswick Stew created for the group when they returned. The hunters were at first skeptical of the thick, hearty concoction, but upon tasting it, were convinced and asked for more.

    Every year, there is an Annual Brunswick Stew Cookoff that pits ‘Stewmasters’ from both Virgina and Georgia against their counterparts, and takes place every October in Georgia.

    In the early 20th Cent, the rivalry of the two Brunswicks helped make this dish as popular as it is today, and it quickly became a pan-Southern classic. Some recipe call for the original addition of squirrel, but most allow for chicken, turkey, ham, or pork, even beef on occasion. Rabbit is also used. The vegetables can vary widely from variation to variation, however, the Brunswick Stewmasters recipe says *exactly* what is used in competion stews, and states that “Adding any additional ingredient(s) will disqualify the stew from being an original Brunswick Stew.”

    However, most agree that, Brunswick stew is not done properly “until the paddle stands up in the middle.”

    I did version one of this recipe. I substituted pork ribs for the rabbit, used lima and kidney beans, since I couldn’t find any butter beans and used store-bought chicken broth. I also needed more than the 4 cups of broth stated in the recipe. It just wasn’t enough to submerge the potatoes and everything else for simmering. I used closer to 6 cups in the end. I was going to do this recipe on a Tuesday night, to have the next day, but then decided to use a quiet Easter Monday afternoon at home instead. I’m glad I did, as it pretty much took all afternoon and part of the early evening. But the work was definitely worth it. It was one of the best stews I’ve ever had. It doesn’t have the customary dark sauce you would expect, but a very nice, spicy (I left the seeds in of one of the serrano peppers) thick creamy broth. And your spoon really does stand in your bowl, for all the goodness it contains. Very nice recipe. Thanks Wolf!

    Brunswick Stew

    Prep Time-

    Recipe 1- Estimated time-3-4 hours, longer if making the Sunday Chicken Broth, or your own stock from scratch
    Recipe 2- Estimated Time- 1 ½ to 2 ½ hours, depending on whether you have your meats already cooked first.

    Equipment needed-
    Large stock pot, at least 10-12qt OR Dutch Oven , or smaller if you halve the recipe used
    Cutting board
    Measuring cups and spoons
    Large bowl
    Large wooden spoon for stirring


    Recipe One, the Long Way-
    From “The Lee Bros. Southern Cookbook: Stories and Recipes for Southerners and Would-Be Southerners” by Matt Lee and Ted Lee

    Serves about 12

    1/4 lb / 113.88 grams / 4 oz slab bacon, rough diced
    2 Serrano, Thai or other dried red chiles, stems trimmed, sliced, seeded, flattened
    1lb / 455.52 grams / 16oz rabbit, quartered, skinned
    1 4-5lb / 1822.08- 2277.6 grams / 64-80oz chicken, quartered, skinned, and most of the fat removed
    1 Tablespoon / 14.235 grams / ½ oz sea salt for seasoning, plus extra to taste
    2-3 quarts / 8-12 cups / 64.607-96.9oz Sunday Chicken Broth (recipe below)
    2 Bay leaves
    2 large celery stalks
    2lbs / 911.04 grams / 32oz Yukon Gold potatoes, or other waxy type potatoes, peeled, rough diced
    1 ½ cups / 344.88 grams / 12.114oz carrots (about 5 small carrots), chopped
    3 ½ / 804.72 grams / 28.266oz cups onion (about 4 medium onions) chopped
    2 cups / 459.84 grams / 16.152oz fresh corn kernels, cut from the cob (about 4 ears)
    3 cups / 689.76 grams / 24.228oz butterbeans, preferably fresh (1 ¼ lbs) or defrosted frozen
    1 35oz can / 996.45 grams / 4 cups whole, peeled tomatoes, drained
    ¼ cup / 57.48 grams / 2.019 oz red wine vinegar
    Juice of 2 lemons
    Tabasco sauce to taste

    Recipe 1-1-In the largest stockpot you have, preferably a 10-12 qt or even a Dutch Oven if you’re lucky enough to have one, fry the bacon over medium-high heat until it just starts to crisp. Transfer to a large bowl, and set aside. Reserve most of the bacon fat in your pan, and with the pan on the burner, add in the chiles. Toast the chiles until they just start to smell good, or make your nose tingle, about a minute tops. Remove to bowl with the bacon.

    2- Season liberally both sides of the rabbit and chicken pieces with sea salt and pepper. Place the rabbit pieces in the pot and sear off all sides possible. You just want to brown them, not cook them completely. Remove to bowl with bacon and chiles, add more bacon fat if needed, or olive oil, or other oil of your choice, then add in chicken pieces, again, browning all sides nicely. Remember not to crowd your pieces, especially if you have a narrow bottomed pot. Put the chicken in the bowl with the bacon, chiles and rabbit. Set it aside.

    3- Add 2 cups of your chicken broth or stock, if you prefer, to the pan and basically deglaze the4 pan, making sure to get all the goodness cooked onto the bottom. The stock will become a nice rich dark color and start smelling good. Bring it up to a boil and let it boil away until reduced by at least half. Add your remaining stock, the bay leaves, celery, potatoes, chicken, rabbit, bacon, chiles and any liquid that may have gathered at the bottom of the bowl they were resting in. Bring the pot back up to a low boil/high simmer, over medium/high heat. Reduce heat to low and cover, remember to stir every 15 minutes, give or take, to thoroughly meld the flavors. Simmer, on low, for approximately 1 ½ hours. Supposedly, the stock may become a yellow tinge with pieces of chicken or rabbit floating up, the celery will be very limp, as will the chiles. Taste the stock, according to the recipe, it “should taste like the best chicken soup you’ve ever had”.

    4- With a pair of tongs, remove the chicken and rabbit pieces to a colander over the bowl you used earlier. Be careful, as by this time, the meats will be very tender and may start falling apart. Remove the bay leaf, celery, chiles, bacon and discard.5 After you’ve allowed the meat to cool enough to handle, carefully remove all the meat from the bones, shredding it as you go. Return the meat to the pot, throwing away the bones. Add in your carrots, and stir gently, allowing it to come back to a slow simmer. Simmer gently, uncovered, for at least 25 minutes, or until the carrots have started to soften.

    5- Add in your onion, butterbeans, corn and tomatoes. As you add the tomatoes, crush them up. Simmer for another 30 minutes, stirring every so often until the stew has reduced slightly, and onions, corn and butterbeans are tender. Remove from heat and add in vinegar, lemon juice, stir to blend in well. Season to taste with sea salt, pepper, and Tabasco sauce if desired.

    6- You can either serve immediately or refrigerate for 24 hours, which makes the flavors meld more and makes the overall stew even better. Serve hot, either on its own, or with a side of corn bread, over steamed white rice, with any braised greens as a side.

    Recipe Two, The Short Way-
    This version goes on the assumption that you already have cooked your meats and have broth on hand. This was also my first experience with eating Brunswick stew. It’s got more of a tomato base, has larger, chunkier vegetables, but is just as wonderful as recipe one. However, it is a lot quicker to make than the first recipe.

    Brunswick Stew recipe from the Callaway, Va Ruritan Club, served yearly at the Blue Ridge Folklife Festival in Ferrum, Va.

    Serves about 10

    2 ½ lb TOTAL diced stewed chicken, turkey, and ham, with broth – yes, all three meats
    3 medium diced potatoes
    2 medium ripe crushed tomatoes
    2 medium diced onions
    3 cups/ 689.76 grams / 24.228oz frozen corn
    1 ½ cups / 344.88 grams / 12.114oz frozen lima beans
    4-5 strips crumbled bacon
    ½ stick / 4 tablespoons / ¼ cup / 56.94 grams / 2oz of butter
    1 Tablespoon / 14.235 grams / .5 oz sugar
    1 Tablespoon / 14.235 grams / .5 oz ‘Poultry Seasoning’
    Dash of red pepper
    2 diced carrots (optional)
    Tomato juice


    Recipe2- In large stock pot or Dutch Oven, mix all ingredients, heat until bubbly and hot. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add tomato juice as desired. Cook until all vegetables are tender. Serve hot.

  • pixeltheatre 12:01 am on February 14, 2010 Permalink | Reply  

    Daring Cooks 10th Challenge: Mezze! 

    The 2010 February Daring COOKs challenge was hosted by Michele of Veggie Num Nums. Michele chose to challenge everyone to make mezze based on various recipes from Claudia Roden, Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Dugid. To complete this challenge, we had to do from scratch, pita bread and hummus, a chickpea dip I love. Some additional recipes were provided for Cucumber Raita (a yoghurt-based dip), falafels (fried chickpea balls) and preserved lemons.

    This was my first time making pita bread, but it was pretty straightforward. I had made hummus many times before. I served these at our Superbowl party, to go with the pulled pork. Very nice.

    Pita Bread – Recipe adapted from Flatbreads & Flavors by Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid
    Prep time: 20 minutes to make, 90 minutes to rise and about 45 minutes to cook

    2 teaspoons regular dry yeast (.43 ounces/12.1 grams)
    2.5 cups lukewarm water (21 ounces/591 grams)
    5-6 cups all-purpose flour (may use a combination of 50% whole wheat and 50% all-purpose, or a combination of alternative flours for gluten free pita) (17.5 -21 ounces/497-596 grams)
    1 tablespoon table salt (.50 ounces/15 grams)
    2 tablespoons olive oil (.95 ounces/29 ml)

    1. In a large bread bowl, sprinkle the yeast over the warm water. Stir to dissolve. Stir in 3 cups flour, a cup at a time, and then stir 100 times, about 1 minute, in the same direction to activate the gluten. Let this sponge rest for at least 10 minutes, or as long as 2 hours.
    2. Sprinkle the salt over the sponge and stir in the olive oil. Mix well. Add more flour, a cup at a time, until the dough is too stiff to stir. Turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 8 to 10 minutes, until smooth and elastic. Rinse out the bowl, dry, and lightly oil. Return the dough to the bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise until at least doubled in size, approximately 1 1/2 hours.
    3. Place a pizza stone, or two small baking sheets, on the bottom rack of your oven, leaving a 1-inch gap all around between the stone or sheets and the oven walls to allow heat to circulate. Preheat the oven to 450F (230C).
    4. Gently punch down the dough. Divide the dough in half, and then set half aside, covered, while you work with the rest. Divide the other half into 8 equal pieces and flatten each piece with lightly floured hands. Roll out each piece to a circle 8 to 9 inches in diameter and less than 1/4 inch thick. Keep the rolled-out breads covered until ready to bake, but do not stack.
    5. Place 2 breads, or more if your oven is large enough, on the stone or baking sheets, and bake for 2 to 3 minutes, or until each bread has gone into a full balloon. If for some reason your bread doesn’t puff up, don’t worry it should still taste delicious. Wrap the baked breads together in a large kitchen towel to keep them warm and soft while you bake the remaining rolled-out breads. Then repeat with the rest of the dough.

    Hummus – Recipe adapted from The New Book of Middle Eastern Food by Claudia Roden
    Prep Time: Hummus can be made in about 15 minutes once the beans are cooked. If you’re using dried beans you need to soak them overnight and then cook them the next day which takes about 90 minutes.

    1.5 cups dried chickpeas, soaked in cold water overnight (or substitute well drained canned chickpeas and omit the cooking) (10 ounces/301 grams)
    2-2.5 lemons, juiced (3 ounces/89ml)
    2-3 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
    a big pinch of salt
    4 tablespoons tahini (sesame paste) OR use peanut butter or any other nut butter—feel free to experiment) (1.5 ounces/45 grams)
    additional flavorings (optional) I would use about 1/3 cup or a few ounces to start, and add more to taste

    1. Drain and boil the soaked chickpeas in fresh water for about 1 ½ hours, or until tender. Drain, but reserve the cooking liquid.
    2. Puree the beans in a food processor (or you can use a potato masher) adding the cooking water as needed until you have a smooth paste.
    3. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well. Adjust the seasonings to taste.

  • pixeltheatre 12:02 am on March 27, 2009 Permalink | Reply  

    Daring Bakers 17th Challenge: Lasagne of Emilia-Romagna 

    The March 2009 challenge is hosted by Mary of Beans and Caviar, Melinda of Melbourne Larder and Enza of Io Da Grande. They have chosen Lasagne of Emilia-Romagna from The Splendid Table by Lynne Rossetto Kasper as the challenge. I admit I frowned a little when I first saw the month’s challenge. Pasta doesn’t really fall within my definition of baking. But hey, it’d been cold and dreary and snowy in Vancouver, so pasta, and especially lasagna, was a good comfort-food remedy.

    I had made pasta from scratch before in school, and at home. My honey gave me a set of KitchenAid pasta attachment kit for Christmas, so rolling the dough was a non-issue and quick. The recipe called for a spinach pasta. The process was straightforward, but for a little while, I never thought the dought would come together. Two eggs, 3-1/2 cups of flour and 300 grams of spinach, made for one dry, crumbly mass. But, after a while of working my dough scraper and sprinkling a bit of cold water, it all came together. Following the resting period, we used the KitchenAid to roll out the dough and set the strips to dry.

    The challenge also required a homemade meat ragu sauce and a bechamel sauce.  I found the ragu sauce provided inspiring, but with too much meat and not enough spices, so I created this one, based on Lynne’s recipe:

    LizG Meat Ragu Sauce

    2 Tbsp butter

    1/2 large onion, finely chopped

    2 cloves garlic, crushed

    150 g pancetta, cubed

    100 g hot chorizo, small cubed

    3 cans of Italian stewed tomatoes

    1 cup chicken stock

    salt, pepper

    Melt butter and sweat onions until translucent. Add the garlic and cook a few seconds. Add the pancetta and cook for a few minutes. Add chorizo and cook for a few more minutes. Add the stewed tomatoes and chicken stock, stir well. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 1-1/2 hours. When the sauce has reached desired consistency, remove from heat and cool. When still a little warm, use an immersion blender to puree sauce to desired consistency.

    I made the sauce the night before to give the flavors a chance to deepen. The final results were quite nice, and after struggling with the dough (I should have chopped my spinach finer), was devoured happily. On to the April challenge!

    Aside: The Daring Bakers has recently moved to gorgeous new digs at: The Daring Kitchen. What more,The Daring Cooks challenges are set to appear on the blogosphere very shortly. Drop by The Kitchen for more details.

    • Jo 5:12 am on March 27, 2009 Permalink | Reply

      Great job on your challenge and your lasagne looks delicious, with all the cheese oozing out.

    • Namratha 2:48 pm on March 27, 2009 Permalink | Reply

      Mmm, your sauce looks scrumptious in the lasagna…well done!

    • Arlene 4:43 pm on March 27, 2009 Permalink | Reply

      Great looking lasagna. I want one of those KA attachments. I wish I’d used more tomato. Their recipe called for 3 tomatoes out of a can; I should have used the whole can. Your sauce sounds delicious.

    • Lauren 7:42 am on March 28, 2009 Permalink | Reply

      Mmm, your lasagne looks amazing! Beautiful job =D.

    • carrian 10:37 am on March 28, 2009 Permalink | Reply

      Great job!!! No fair on the pasta maker! Haha I need to get one of those!

    • Jacque 4:55 pm on March 28, 2009 Permalink | Reply

      I was a bit perplexed by my dry, floury mass of dough with the ingredients as listed. I’m glad to hear I wasn’t the only one.

      Your lasagna looks delish, nice and tomatoey.

    • asti 10:51 pm on March 28, 2009 Permalink | Reply

      oh how I envy your Kitchen Aid pasta roller! Your lasagna looked delish! Well done!

    • Angela @ A Spoonful of Sugar 10:36 am on March 29, 2009 Permalink | Reply

      Your lasagne looks fantastic. Well done!!

    • Angelica 5:42 am on March 30, 2009 Permalink | Reply

      the layers look amazing! great job 😀

    • Sheryl McGraw 2:10 pm on March 31, 2009 Permalink | Reply

      Great job! Hope you saved some for me.


    • jpmoore88 8:28 am on April 1, 2009 Permalink | Reply

      Great looking lasagne! I really need one of those pasta makers 🙂
      JMom ~ Cooked from the Heart

    • Glutenagogo 4:18 pm on April 2, 2009 Permalink | Reply

      Great job on your lasagne!

      Natalie @ Gluten a Go Go

    • Debyi 9:59 am on April 4, 2009 Permalink | Reply

      I am so jealous! I have a kitchen aid, but am still lacking the pasta attachment. Maybe for christmas this year. Your lasagne looks great, I love the color of the pasta!

  • pixeltheatre 12:02 am on July 30, 2008 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , filberts,   

    Daring Bakers – 9th Challenge: Filbert Gateau with Praline Buttercream 

    This month’s challenge, hosted by Chris (AKA Mele Cotte), gave us a chance to try another buttercream recipe. Although it sounded very much like the Opera Cake challenge of May, I was happy to try my hand at another layer cake since I had missed the May challenge.

    The Filbert Gateau with Praline Buttercream was picked from Great Cakes by Carole Walter. After printing the recipe, which came in at six (6) pages, I read it through. And again. And again. And again. This challenge came down to six (6) recipes:

    1 Filbert Genoise
    1 recipe sugar syrup, flavored with dark rum limoncello
    1 recipe Praline Buttercream (buttercream + praline recipes)
    1 recipe Apricot berry Glaze
    1 recipe Ganache Glaze

    A first for me was the praline part of the praline buttercream. Luckily, I like filberts. I tried the method suggested to remove the skins from filberts (roasting the filberts, then rubbing the skins off with the help of a tea towel), without much success. I finally found unskinned nuts at Famous Foods, which is rapidly becoming my go-to store for all things baking. 

    I usually devote a single day to Daring Bakers challenges. This time around I thought I’d  break it up and do a bit each evening, since a lot of the components could be made in advance. By the third evening of prepping and doing dishes, however, I’d come to the conclusion I will return to the dedicated one-day schedule. I just wanted to get it done and over with.

    At the end of it all, I was somewhat happy with the results. My cake collapsed during cooling, but it gave me a new appreciation for the masking power of glaze and chocolate ganache ( 😉 ). Piping the praline buttercream became a reminder to go with the flow, as bits of praline kept getting stuck in my one-size-too-small piping tip. It’s amazing the life lessons that can be gleamed from a DB challenge…

    Bring on August!

    • Ann 9:01 am on July 30, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      Nice work!

    • Lorrie 6:45 am on July 31, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      yes! ganache will cover anything! Your cake looks great 🙂

    • Lauren 9:12 am on August 3, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      Your cake looks wonderful! Ganache is truly a secret weapon, I’m glad it served you well!

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