Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Smoked Salmon Spread from Famous Dave's - copycat recipe revealed!

We tried this a couple of nights ago.  Wish we had doubled it!  Go HERE for the recipe from Recipe link.  There may be other recipes to try, I stopped at the first one.  We have had this at the restaurant and I think it is pretty close.  It was much smoother due to the canned salmon, but I think you could stir in some more salmon after you have blended everything.  Or you could simply reserve some of the canned salmon and gently fold it in.  I saw no reason to search any further.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Chai Tea copycat is right on the money.

I put this chai tea recipe found at Recipe zaar together tonight.  I'm warming up with a cup right now.  I had my doubts, but it is a true match to brands I've purshased in fancy tins.  This recipe makes 7 cups of mix and is meant to be put in separate jars or containers of your choosing to give away as gifts.  I know my friends are going to be happy.  I spent under $10 on the ingredients I didn't have.  I had most of the spices already.  It will make about four generous gifts.  Go HERE and make some yourself.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Fennel and Salt Breadsticks were a big hit at my house a couple nights ago.

When my eyes first fell on the word fennel in the recipe, I was scanning for recipe variations right away. But I can assure you that the fennel was surprisingly good and these did not disappoint! Out of about 70 there are 5 left after my family was done with dinner. They made the chili I pulled out of the freezer taste like some world class recipe. They really reminded me of pretzels, but much easier. I found the dough very easy to work with and think this would be a great recipe to do with little kids. Round up those extra little hands and get these rolled out in no time. I'm posting the recipe below. It gave the option of using all water instead of part beer and that's what I did. I chose to sprinkle the top with coarse salt only and not extra fennel seeds. This recipe is straight from one of my favorite bread cookbooks by Bernard Clayton, Jr. The title is The Complete Book of Breads. It's the cookbook I use more than any other these days. I think you could modify this recipe with a number of spice combinations. I thought I might try onion salt or powder next. Directly from the book:

These fennel breadsticks-sprinkled with fennel and coarse salt-have brown crisp crusts and tender speckled-white insides. They are rolled by hand which gives them a pleasant home-fashioned irregularity. I do half of them with coarse salt sprinkled on the crust and the balance with fennel. The beer is optional. Breadsticks accompany soups and salads well, and are fine to nudge into soft dips.
1 pkg dry yeast or 2 1/4 teas.
3/4 cup each: warm water, salad oil, and beer
1 1/2 teas. salt
4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, approx.
glaze: 1 egg beaten w/1 Tabl. water
top: 1 Tabl. each coarse salt and fennel seed to sprinkle on breadsticks
Have ready, wire racks placed on baking sheets

In a large bowl, briskly stir yeast into water. Let stand for 3 or 4 minutes. Add salad oil, beer (or another 3/4 cup water), salt and fennel seed. With a large wooden spoon, beat in 3 cups of the flour-about 75 strokes.

Spread remaining flour on a bread board or counter top and turn out the soft dough into the center of it. Keeping the fingers and the edges of the dough coated with flour, fold the dough to the center, pushing down with the palms of the hands. Continue kneading until the dough is smooth and elastic.

Place the dough in a greased bowl, cover tightly with plastic wrap and put in a warm place (80-85 degrees) until doubled in bulk, about 50 minutes. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

If you have a kitchen or postal scale, use it to achieve some uniformity in the size of the breadsticks. Knead the dough for half a minute to push out the bubbles. Pinch off 1 1/2 in diameter balls, weigh them until you can judge them to be equal without weighing. (I did not weigh anything! We like the rustic look!) Roll the balls under the palms of the hands until each is a long slender pencil-shaped rope, about 18 inches. Snip in half. Roll each briefly again and place ropes on the wire racks, which will go into the oven. Space about half and inch apart. Carefully brush the tips with the egg-water mixture. Sprinkle some with fennel seeds and others with coarse salt. While finishing on batch, keep remaining dough covered in bowl. Repeat the shaping for the next and subsequent batches.

Bake in the oven until they are evenly browned, about 25 minutes. But watch them closely.

Remove breadsticks from the oven. Cool on wire racks and then place in sealed plastic bags. Store at room temperature for use within a week or so, or freeze.

The trick to whipping fresh cream is to keep it cold, keep everything cold.

After years of cream whipping failures I decided to do a little searching. The trick seems to be-to chill everything. Chill the bowl. Chill the beaters. Chill the cream. And as this picture shows, have a second bowl of ice under the bowl with the cream. I was using my stand mixer, so I just settled for chilling the bowl, beater and cream! It really works. We must be dealing with molecular structure hear. Wait while I go look that up. After all my failed attempts I've finally found the way. It was very yummy on some late night hot chocolate.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Copycat recipes might save you money.

Ever go to a restaurant for a specific dish or flavor? Or maybe you would just like to save some money by making your own condiments? A favorite of ours is Chili's salsa. My family of six will sit down and consume three or four mounds of chips and eight to ten cups of salsa. I have some big, growing boys. I'm sure we are their favorite customers. It's not exactly down the street though, nor is taking a family of six out to eat something we can do very often. Oh, but those flavors! I just get a hankering for them sometimes. The other day I got curious if someone had come up with a recipe to match theirs. wow. Is it a keeper!! I've also discovered sauce similar to Taco Bell's, you know those little packets? You can buy a bottle in the store too. After finding that recipe I turned around and modified it to use part of large, 99 cent can of tomato juice. So add some spices and you have twice the amount for way less than half the price. I just hate to nickel and dime my budget away with commercialized products. And many of them have ingredients that aren't good for you. I read that a certain brand of hot wing sauce has soybean oil in it as a main ingredient and butter FLAVOR in it. I started thinking I didn't want to eat it after that. I have found that there are quite a few sites dedicated to just copycat recipes. So I'm going to start putting together another link list of just copycat sites that might interest you. Watch for that in the margin. Here's CHILI'S SALSA COPYCAT RECIPE. For your health as well as your budget, consider making your favorite flavors from home. I think I'll start with the top ranking sites- there's only 19,700,000 results for "copycat recipes". I just don't know why this didn't occur to me before. Excuse me, I'll be testing the A1 steaksauce recipe I just found on Kitchen, Crafts & More soon. And then there's Famous Dave's Smoked Salmon Spread......gonna be busy.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The stainless steel pan, workhorse of today's kitchen.

I used to view the stainless steel skillet as a worthless tool. I thought that a pan that everything just stuck to must be useless. This was before my days of practicing the searing and deglazing techniques of cooking. Not familiar with these? I'll tell you but first know that a quality stainless steel pan is the best choice for this practice. You get what you pay for. Sear: To brown meat quickly by subjecting it to very high heat either in a skillet, under a broiler or in a very hot oven. The object of searing is to seal in the meat's juices, which is why British cooks often use the word "seal" to mean the same thing. You will use a little bit of oil in the pan and some of the brown from the searing will be left. The deglazing will take care of that. Make sure that you do not overload your pan, this will tend to steam your meat. This is not what you want here. (yuck!) If you have a lot of meat to sear, do it in batches. Now the brown stuck to the bottom of the pan is going to turn into something scrumptious through the deglazing process. deglaze[dee-GLAYZ]After food (usually meat) has been sautéed and the food and excess fat removed from the pan, deglazing is done by heating a small amount of liquid in the pan and stirring to loosen browned bits of food on the bottom. The liquid used is most often wine or stock. The resultant mixture often becomes a base for a sauce to accompany the food cooked in the pan. All the flavor from what you have used to season or marinate your meat is going to be concentrated in that brown stuck on the pan. Once you have deglazed it, you can dilute it further for a stock or make a gravy or simply just a thin sauce. When I make something like fajitas I toss the meat back in the pan and basically coat it with the thin, flavorful sauce after deglazing. Mucho good results. I have tried this process with other type of pans and have not been able to get the same results. For example, I was searing pork chops-some in stainless and some in cast iron. In the cast iron much of the juices from the chop ended up oozing out into the pan. Don't get me wrong, I also love cast iron. I just think that different tools have their best uses in our kitchens. You are able to achieve a high temperature with stainless like no other type of pan. And I think the surface aids also. So, get to searing, it'll sure warm up the kitchen on a cold night.

Food dictionary, sometimes you just need one.

saute' or sate'? Do you know the difference between saute' and sate'? They aren't the same. I got curious as to whether there was an online dictionary of culinary terms. I didn't have to look too far. I'm going to put a permanant link in the margin but until then, here is a link: http://www.epicurious.com/tools/fooddictionary It's from Epicurious. If I find a better one later, I will put that in place of this one. It has 4,000 or so entries, that should get anyone started.

Monday, January 18, 2010

The boxed cake mix gets a makeover.

I am very crazed about a certain recipe right now. It's very badly named "cake balls". I first made them for a dinner with family and they just went on and on about how good they were. This was even after my mother said, "cake balls?", "uh, with a boxed cake mix?" when I told her what I had decided to make! I have to admit, I was surprised myself. But let me assure you, this really dresses up the boxed cake mix. I don't even like boxed cake mixes! It's considered unacceptable to make them on a regular bases in my circle. Folks look down their noses at one who habitually arrives at events with a cake from a box. My first time making them I used lemon cake and lemon frosting and I could not believe how good they were. I even served them in my pedestal crystal dish. They were worthy. The oohs and ahs of my guests told me so. They reminded my so much of truffles, especially when served chilled. The next time I made them I used strawberry inside, it was not near as good, to me that particular flavor just tasted too artificial. There are so many variations that you can do with this, the possibilities are endless. Next, I'm using chocolate for the inside with a lot on orange zest, I love that combination. I want to try raspberry with chocolate outside too. Here is the link to the recipe on Tasty Kitchen: CAKE BALLS > I think cake truffles is a much better term, even truffle cakes? Cake Balls just makes my fingernails curl under. I also think it makes a great edible gift. Start collecting tins and hitting those cake mix and commercial frosting sales. yeah! I just got some for $.99 for the cake mix and $1.50 for frosting. I also think they would make an excellent favor at a wedding. Can't you just see them lined up on a crystal dish with a doily underneath?

I did make bread.

I did make that bread. Then it disappeared......and the camera is broke and I can't really figure out the loaner. geeze. The bread recipe originated from a famous baker in France. I went as far as looking him up and found out he had died in a helicopter crash and one of his daughters took over the business. Poilane, that was his name. He has a very jealous brother too, because their father chose the other son to teach bread baking to, and he became a big success. Anyway, the bread was good, a little yeasty. But the crust was sooooo good. I'm going to work on my bread more, I've always wanted to get good at it. Anyway, I shall be trying it again along with some sourdough and other various great artisan breads. My mouth is watering. The picture is of a Poilane loaf from their website. Famous people buy them and have them shipped! Imagine your bread being that good. I have an awesome bread book called The Complete Book of Breads by Bernard Clayton, Jr. It should be called Great Bread Making for Dummies. He tells the home cook how to achieve artisan results in an ordinary kitchen. And he devised the recipe I used after spending some time with Poilane. So there you have it. If you want to have some expensive bread shipped from France, here's the website: http://www.poilane.fr/index.php?passer=1&directshop=1 I don't know how they get that done. I sent some deer jerky to an old friend in France and it was sent back to me, with the box empty. Next time I'll put "dried liver" when they ask me what it is at the post office.

Friday, January 8, 2010


Shortly I'll be launching my new blog about the food in our lives. But first I have to finish what I started; making bread, the kind that takes three days. So, I hope you come back because my mouth is watering just thinking about it.