Wednesday, December 3, 2008

DB: Caramel Cake!

So this month the challenge was to make a caramel cake, with caramel frosting (making our own caramel). As an option, we can also make caramel candies. I accepted both challenges... however before I got a chance to upload my photos... my camera disappeared! Along with it, photos of my sisters and I from Thanksgiving :( I really hope it turns up soon, and if / when it does I will put my cake and candy photos as well! In the meantime though, you will just have to take my word for it... I completed the challenge!

- Name of the Cookbook - Shuna Fish Lyndon's recipe - ( … he-recipe/)

- Name of the Author - Shuna Fish Lyndon

- Hosts for the month - Dolores the host ( with Co-hosts Alex (Brownie of the Blondie and Brownie duo:, Jenny of Foray into Food ( And since none of us know jack about alternative baking, we’ve once again turned to Natalie of Gluten-a-Go-Go ( to assist us.


courtesy of Shuna Fish Lydon (, as published on Bay Area Bites (


10 Tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
1 1/4 Cups granulated sugar

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/3 Cup Caramel Syrup (see recipe below)

2 eggs, at room temperature

splash vanilla extract

2 Cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1 cup milk, at room temperature

Preheat oven to 350F

Butter one tall (2 – 2.5 inch deep) 9-inch cake pan.In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream butter until smooth. Add sugar and salt, and cream the mixture until light and fluffy.

Slowly pour room temperature caramel syrup into bowl. Scrape down bowl and increase speed. Add eggs/vanilla extract a little at a time, mixing well after each addition. Scrape down bowl again, beat mixture until light and uniform.

Sift flour and baking powder.

Turn mixer to lowest speed, and add one third of the dry ingredients. When incorporated, add half of the milk, a little at a time. Add another third of the dry ingredients, then the other half of the milk and finish with the dry ingredients. {This is called the dry, wet, dry, wet, dry method in cake making. It is often employed when there is a high proportion of liquid in the batter.}

Take off mixer and by hand, use a spatula to do a few last folds, making sure batter is uniform. Turn batter into prepared cake pan.

Place cake pan on cookie sheet or 1/2 sheet pan. Set first timer for 30 minutes, rotate pan and set timer for another 15-20 minutes. Your own oven will set the pace. Bake until sides pull away from the pan and skewer inserted in middle comes out clean. Cool cake completely before icing it.

Cake will keep for three days outside of the refrigerator.


2 cups sugar

1/2 cup water

1 cup water (for "stopping" the caramelization process)

In a small stainless steel saucepan, with tall sides, mix water and sugar until mixture feels like wet sand. Brush down any stray sugar crystals with wet pastry brush. Turn on heat to highest flame. Cook until smoking slightly: dark amber.

When color is achieved, very carefully pour in one cup of water. Caramel will jump and sputter about! It is very dangerous, so have long sleeves on and be prepared to step back.

Whisk over medium heat until it has reduced slightly and feels sticky between two fingers. {Obviously wait for it to cool on a spoon before touching it.}

Note: For safety reasons, have ready a bowl of ice water to plunge your hands into if any caramel should land on your skin.


12 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 pound confectioner’s sugar, sifted

4-6 tablespoons heavy cream

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2-4 tablespoons caramel syrup

Kosher or sea salt to taste

Cook butter until brown. Pour through a fine meshed sieve into a heatproof bowl, set aside to cool.

Pour cooled brown butter into mixer bowl.

In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle or whisk attachment, add confectioner's sugar a little at a time. When mixture looks too chunky to take any more, add a bit of cream and or caramel syrup. Repeat until mixture looks smooth and all confectioner's sugar has been incorporated. Add salt to taste.

Note: Caramelized butter frosting will keep in fridge for up to a month. To smooth out from cold, microwave a bit, then mix with paddle attachment until smooth and light.


from Pure Dessert by Alice Medrich, Artisan Press, Copyright 2007, ISBN: 978-1579652111


1 cup golden syrup

2 cups sugar

3/8 teaspoon fine sea salt

2 cups heavy cream

1 1/2 teaspoons pure ground vanilla beans, purchased or ground in a coffee or spice grinders, or 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into chunks, softened


A 9-inch square baking pan

Candy thermometer


Line the bottom and sides of the baking pan with aluminum foil and grease the foil. Combine the golden syrup, sugar, and salt in a heavy 3-quart saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring with a silicone spatula or wooden spoon, until the mixture begins to simmer around the edges. Wash the sugar and syrup from the sides of the pan with a pastry brush dipped in water. Cover and cook for about 3 minutes. (Meanwhile, rinse the spatula or spoon before using it again later.) Uncover the pan and wash down the sides once more. Attach the candy thermometer to the pan, without letting it touch the bottom of the pan, and cook, uncovered (without stirring) until the mixture reaches 305°F. Meanwhile, combine the cream and ground vanilla beans (not the extract) in a small saucepan and heat until tiny bubbles form around the edges of the pan. Turn off the heat and cover the pan to keep the cream hot.

When the sugar mixture reaches 305°F, turn off the heat and stir in the butter chunks. Gradually stir in the hot cream; it will bubble up and steam dramatically, so be careful. Turn the burner back on and adjust it so that the mixture boils energetically but not violently. Stir until any thickened syrup at the bottom of the pan is dissolved and the mixture is smooth. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, to about 245°F. Then cook, stirring constantly, to 260°f for soft, chewy caramels or 265°F; for firmer chewy caramels.

Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the vanilla extract, if using it. Pour the caramel into the lined pan. Let set for 4 to 5 hours, or overnight until firm.

Lift the pan liner from the pan and invert the sheet of caramel onto a sheet of parchment paper. Peel off the liner. Cut the caramels with an oiled knife. Wrap each caramel individually in wax paper or cellophane.


Fleur de Sel Caramels: Extra salt, in the form of fleur de sel or another coarse flaked salt, brings out the flavor of the caramel and offers a little ying to the yang. Add an extra scant 1/4 teaspoon of coarse sea salt to the recipe. Or, to keep the salt crunchy, let the caramel cool and firm. Then sprinkle with two pinches of flaky salt and press it in. Invert, remove the pan liner, sprinkle with more salt. Then cut and wrap the caramels in wax paper or cellophane.

Nutmeg and Vanilla Bean Caramels: Add 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg to the cream before you heat it.

Cardamom Caramels: Omit the vanilla. Add 1/2 teaspoon slightly crushed cardamom seeds (from about 15 cardamom pods) to the cream before heating it. Strain the cream when you add it to the caramel; discard the seeds.

Caramel Sauce: Stop cooking any caramel recipe or variation when it reaches 225°F or, for a sauce that thickens like hot fudge over ice cream, 228°F. Pour it into a sauceboat to serve or into a heatproof jar for storage. The sauce can be stored in the refrigerator for ages and reheated gently in the microwave or a saucepan just until hot and flowing before use. You can stir in rum or brandy to taste. If the sauce is too thick or stiff to serve over ice cream, it can always be thinned with a little water or cream. Or, if you like a sauce that thickens more over ice cream, simmer it for a few minutes longer.

MY NOTES: I added much more heavy cream to the frosting than called for (and less sugar) and I was heavy handed with the salt. I beat the heck out of it so t was nice and fluffy and I think that all helped with the sweetness. My caramel was a nice deep amber color - I think a key is to get that great burnt caramel flavor - it really does help cut the sweetness.

The caramels were fabulous. LOVED them! I added salt when cutting htem but next time I would add more. I cooked them to a bit of a lower temp than called for because I really didnt want to have to go to the dentist due to eating candy. They were very very soft, but still shapeable. Perfect since I gave half to my elderly grandfather - and he loves caramel but normally cant eat them as they are so chewy.

Great challenge - thanks to our hosts! I will definitely make at least the candy again :)

Saturday, November 1, 2008

R2R: Beef Rendang

This month's challenge was a beef curry dish cooked as a reverse braise. Even though I made it WAY too spicy (I really really REALLY dont know my hot peppers....) and therefore could only eat a bite myself (and R could only eat one serving... NOW you know it was hot!!) I still see the potential in this. It looked and smelled like heaven, the texture was phenomenal... I was able to buy some minced jarred galangal and kaffir leaves, so I am tempted to try it again... with more mild (aka edible) peppers!

This dish has a long cook time, but once it gets going all it needs is an occasional stir, so it is good for a homebound weekend dinner. I served it over rice and with the accompanying pickles (crazy quick and easy, and really a nice pairing!)

Coated and heading in the pan:

Liquid Added - so pretty!:

Starting to cook down:

Brown crusties showing up - time to dish it up:


Please check the recipe out on the R2R blog!

Daring Bakers: Eatsa Pizza!

I was excited for this month's challenge - PIZZA! I made homemade pizza for the first time a couple months ago and was pumped to try it again.

I was excited for the tossing requirement... unfortunately it was not meant to be. I thought I followed the directions in terms of getting the dough to the right consistency, but Im afraid mine was too wet. There was no tossing possible - it was way too soft! I kinda stretched it out some on my fist and then pushed it out the rest of the way.

But, it was still good! I made 4 pizzas:

Apple-onion chutney with sharp cheddar

Garlic-cream cheese topped wtih a mix of Romano and Fontina cheese, cooked bacon and artichoke hearts... YUM

A breakfast pizza with maple syrup, breakfast sausage, diced sauteed potatos, and topped with fried eggs on serving

And a dessert "Pumpkin Pizza Pie" which was cooked dry with cinnamon and sugar. Then topped with a mix of cream cheese and pumpkin and pumpkin pie spices.

What a fun challenge! Thanks to this month's host! Please check out her blog for the recipe and story behind this month's challenge!

I think I will stick to non-tossing, and to my old dough but this was a fun one to try :)

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

My (LATE!) R2R Dumplings

The September Recipes to Rival Challenge was Chinese Dumplings! Life has gotten in my way of late, so I apologise for the delay in posting. I made them a few weeks back, though.

I have NEVER made anything like this before... no ravioli or anything. I thought they came together well! I dont know that I would regularly go through the effort, but they were easier than expected too.

Some of the other posters had issues with the dough. I saw mine going that way (and I had no chopsticks to stir with too) and dumped it right in the Kitchenaid and let it do all the work! My dough came together perfectly, and my hands and shoulders were saved from all the kneading - win win! I loved how elastic the dough became... very neat! I ended up sticking the dough in hte fridge for a couple days after I made it due to time constraints and it didnt seem to be an issue at all. I followed the given recipe for both the filling and the dipping sauce.

I dont have a steamer, though (and these would NOT have worked in a metal steamer basket like the tamales did!!) so instead I pan-fried them in oil for a couple minutes to brown, then added in a cup of broth and let them steam away. YUM! We both really liked this dish!

Shrimp Dumplings

Prep Time: 20 min,

Cook Time: 20 min,

Makes 24


4 large shiitake mushrooms

3 scallions

1/2 garlic clove

8 ounces shrimp, peeled and deveined

6 ounces ground turkey

2 teaspoons soy sauce

1 teaspoon dark sesame oil

3 dashes of hot red-pepper sauce

24 dumpling wrappers (see recipe below)

Dipping Sauce

2 tablespoons soy sauce

2 teaspoons rice wine vinegar

1/2 teaspoon honey

1/2 teaspoon dark sesame oil

1/2 teaspoon minced fresh ginger or 1/8 teaspoon ground ginger

1. Coat a steamer basket with a non stick cooking spray and set aside. In a small saucepan, soak the mushrooms in boiling water to cover for 15 minutes, then drain. Remove and discard the stems; cut the caps into quarters.

2. In a food processor, combine the mushroom caps, scallions, and garlic and whirl until coarsely chopped. Add the shrimp and whirl until finely chopped. Transfer to a medium bowl and stir in the turkey, soy sauce, oil, and red-pepper sauce.

3. Place 1 tablespoon of the shrimp mixture in the center of each dumpling wrapper. Dampen the edges with water, the fold up the sides around the filling, pleating the edges. Place in the steamer basket, leaving 1/2 inch of space between the dumplings for the steam to circulate. Set over boiling water, cover, and steam for 15 minutes.

4. For the dipping sauce, in a small bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, vinegar, honey, oil, and ginger. Serve the dumplings hot with the dipping sauce.Personalize it!

For a different flavor, use ground pork in place of the ground turkey. You can also drop a pinch of chopped scallions into the dipping sauce if you like

4 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 to 1 3/4 cups boiling water

In a stainless steel bowl mix flour and salt. Slowly add hot water to flour in 1/4 cup increments. Mix with chopsticks until a ball is formed and the dough is not too hot to handle. On a floured surface, knead dough until it becomes a smooth, elastic ball. Place back in bowl and cover with a damp cloth. Allow to rest for at least 1 hour. Working on a floured surface with floured hands, roll out dough to form a long 'noodle', 1-inch in diameter. Cut 1/2-inch pieces and turn them over so the cut sides are facing up. Flatten with your palm and roll out thin using a rolling pin. The dumpling wrapper should end up about 3 inches in diameter.

(2)Source: Extraordinary Meals from Ordinary Ingredients, ©2007 The Reader's Digest Association, Inc.(1) Wikipedia link for Dumplings(2) Ming's Dumpling Recipe

Friday, October 3, 2008

Daring Bakers: Lavash!

So I am a few days late... I forgot about the early posting date, and then life got in the way a bit. BUT I did complete the challenge well in advance of the deadline.

This was a great challenge. First, because it was savory - finally! Next, it was something I would have never thought to make myself. Finally, the results were so yummy :)

Part of the challenge was to make your own gluten-free and vegan dip to go with the crackers - and while there is no part of me that is vegan, my sister is allergic to wheat so I decided to also attempt the GF lavash (as well as the regular one).

I made two batches of 'normal' lavash, one whole wheat and one white and two batches of GF (my first was quite like cardboard... the instructions for GF told us not to knead the dough but mine did not rise at all. Batch two I kneaded for quite awhile and got a teeny rise out of it, and it tasted much better). I used a variety of toppings including cumin, sesame seeds, dried minced garlic, oregano, with grated parmesan (my fav), chili powder, pepper, and kosher salt on em all of course.

My dips were a black bean and pumpkin dip from my Pumpkin cookbook by DeeDee Stovel (I found it eh but everyone else liked it) and Cooks Illustrated Roasted Garlic Hummus. Not fancy but my first time making hummus myself, and I loved it! I love some garlic hummus though.

This recipe was refreshingly simple, though the GF version was certainly a challenge. I loved the results and am glad to have stretched my repetoire a bit!

RECIPE - Recipe Reference: The Bread Baker's Apprentice: Mastering The Art of Extraordinary Bread, by Peter Reinhart. Ten Speed Press, Berkeley, CA. Copyright 2001. ISBN-10: 1-58008-268-8, ISBN-13: 978-158008-268-6.

Here's a simple formula for making snappy Armenian-style crackers, perfect for breadbaskets, company and kids...It is similar to the many other Middle Eastern and Northern African flatbreads known by different names, such as mankoush or mannaeesh (Lebanese), barbari (Iranian), khoubiz or khobz (Arabian), aiysh (Egyptian), kesret and mella (Tunisian), pide or pita (Turkish), and pideh (Armenian). The main difference between these breads is either how thick or thin the dough is rolled out, or the type of oven in which they are baked (or on which they are baked, as many of these breads are cooked on stones or red-hot pans with a convex surface)...The key to a crisp lavash, to roll out the dough paper-thin. The sheet can be cut into crackers in advance or snapped into shards after baking. The shards make a nice presentation when arranged in baskets.

Makes 1 sheet pan of crackers*

1 1/2 cups (6.75 oz) unbleached bread flour or gluten free flour blend (If you use a blend without xanthan gum, add 1 tsp xanthan or guar gum to the recipe)*

1/2 tsp (.13 oz) salt* 1/2 tsp (.055 oz) instant yeast*

1 Tb (.75 oz) agave syrup or sugar*

1 Tb (.5 oz) vegetable oil*

1/3 to 1/2 cup + 2 Tb (3 to 4 oz) water, at room temperature*

Poppy seeds, sesame seeds, paprika, cumin seeds, caraway seeds, or kosher salt for toppings

1. In a mixing bowl, stir together the flour, salt yeast, agave, oil, and just enough water to bring everything together into a ball. You may not need the full 1/2 cup + 2 Tb of water, but be prepared to use it all if needed.

2. For Non Gluten Free Cracker Dough: Sprinkle some flour on the counter and transfer the dough to the counter. Knead for about 10 minutes, or until the ingredients are evenly distributed. The dough should pass the windowpane test (see for a discription of this) and register 77 degrees to 81 degrees Fahrenheit. The dough should be firmer than French bread dough, but not quite as firm as bagel dough (what I call medium-firm dough), satiny to the touch, not tacky, and supple enough to stretch when pulled. Lightly oil a bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl, rolling it around to coat it with oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap.or

2. For Gluten Free Cracker Dough: The dough should be firmer than French bread dough, but not quite as firm as bagel dough (what I call medium-firm dough), and slightly tacky. Lightly oil a bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl, rolling it around to coat it with oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap.

3. Ferment at room temperature for 90 minutes, or until the dough doubles in size. (You can also retard the dough overnight in the refrigerator immediately after kneading or mixing).

4. For Non Gluten Free Cracker Dough: Mist the counter lightly with spray oil and transfer the dough to the counter. Press the dough into a square with your hand and dust the top of the dough lightly with flour. Roll it out with a rolling pin into a paper thin sheet about 15 inches by 12 inches. You may have to stop from time to time so that the gluten can relax. At these times, lift the dough from the counter and wave it a little, and then lay it back down. Cover it with a towel or plastic wrap while it relaxes. When it is the desired thinness, let the dough relax for 5 minutes. Line a sheet pan with baking parchment. Carefully lift the sheet of dough and lay it on the parchment. If it overlaps the edge of the pan, snip off the excess with scissors. or

4. For Gluten Free Cracker Dough: Lay out two sheets of parchment paper. Divide the cracker dough in half and then sandwich the dough between the two sheets of parchment. Roll out the dough until it is a paper thin sheet about 15 inches by 12 inches. Slowly peel away the top layer of parchment paper. Then set the bottom layer of parchment paper with the cracker dough on it onto a baking sheet.

5. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit with the oven rack on the middle shelf. Mist the top of the dough with water and sprinkle a covering of seeds or spices on the dough (such as alternating rows of poppy seeds, sesame seeds, paprika, cumin seeds, caraway seeds, kosher or pretzel salt, etc.) Be careful with spices and salt - a little goes a long way. If you want to precut the cracker, use a pizza cutter (rolling blade) and cut diamonds or rectangles in the dough. You do not need to separate the pieces, as they will snap apart after baking. If you want to make shards, bake the sheet of dough without cutting it first.

5. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the crackers begin to brown evenly across the top (the time will depend on how thinly and evenly you rolled the dough).6. When the crackers are baked, remove the pan from the oven and let them cool in the pan for about 10 minutes. You can then snap them apart or snap off shards and serve.

Friday, September 19, 2008

My New Favorite Way to Eat Tomatos and Zucchini

Otherwise known as "Zucchini Garlic 'Bread'."

This was something I saw on Redacted Recipes and immediately when I saw it... I knew. THIS recipe would be amazing. I even shared it before I tried it myself! And oh... was I right.

The recipe is basic: zucchini sliced in half lengthwise (quarter down the center as needed for huge zucchinis). Brush with olive oil and S&P. Place on a baking sheet lined with foil (for easy cleanup) and bake at 350 for 10 minutes.

Pull from the oven and turn on the broiler. Top the baked squash with minced garlic (zucchini can handle alot of garlic without feeling like you are ready to battle vampires) and then grated parmesan.

Return to the oven and broil for 10 minutes. The cheese with be golden brown and slightly crispy looking. Let it cool for a minute so you dont remove all the skin on your tongue... and then have at it! A healthy version of garlic bread, and a great way to use up all that squash! Yellow summer squash would probably be good too but I have only made it with zucchini.

For tomatos - I recommend a firm red beefsteak type. I tried with a yellow heirloom of some sort and it just turned to mush on me - and was too sweet. A more acidic tomato is better, in my opinion. I dont care for green tomatos but Ill bet they would be good too if you like them!

Do the same thing as the zucchini - but skip the first 10 minutes of baking and go straight to the broil. You want the tomato to retain some shape and structure so it doesnt fall apart when you go to eat it.

Tomato doesnt take as much garlic (learn from my vampire-hunting experience!) but I personally love it with a liberal amount of kosher salt, and piles ot good parmesan. It is messy to eat - have lots of napkins on hand... but oh so worth it. To me, this is the perfect way to enjoy the great tomatos of the summertime!

Basil Shrimp Linguine

This recipe is the cover photo for Everyday Food: Great Food Fast. This cookbook is from my FAVORITE cooking magazine: Everyday Food by Martha Stewart. This dish was awesome. SO easy, and fresh, and quick, and GOOD! I later made it again using chicken breast (cut into bite sized pieces) which was also yummy.


Serves 4

1 1/2 pounds medium shrimp, peeled and deveined (tails removed)
Coarse salt and ground pepper
6 teaspoons olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 can (14 1/2 ounces) diced tomatoes in juice
1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
1/2 pound linguine (I use whole wheat)
1 1/2 cups lightly packed fresh basil leaves, torn into small pieces, plus extra leaves for garnish (optional)


Season shrimp with salt and pepper. In a large skillet, heat 4 teaspoons oil over high. Add shrimp; cook until opaque throughout, turning occasionally, 3 minutes. Transfer to a bowl; set aside.

Make sauce: To the same skillet, add remaining 2 teaspoons oil and garlic; cook over medium heat until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add canned tomatoes and their juice, along with 2 cups water; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, stirring occasionally, until tomatoes have softened and are saucy, about 15 minutes. Remove sauce from heat; stir in cherry tomatoes.
Meanwhile, in a large pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta until al dente, according to package instructions. Drain; return pasta to pot. Add tomato sauce, shrimp, and basil; season with salt and pepper, and toss.
Serve immediately, garnished with basil leaves, if desired.

Pork and Eggplant 'Parmesan'

This dish was born out of "what veggies do I need to use up before the next farm share..." And like most dishes that are thrown together with no real plan... it was awesome! One of those meals where you really wish you had written down what the heck you did!

The best I can recall...

A boneless trimmed pork chop per person, and 1 medium to largish eggplant sliced thick, all dredged in 1 beaten egg, followed by a coating of breadcrumbs with grated parmesan, oregano, thyme, and whatever other herbs you like mixed in - coat well. I pan fried the meat and eggplant with a little bit of olive oil (higher heat to start then drop the temp to finish the meat through and cook the eggplan till juuuuust barely soft all the way through - I dont like it too soggy).

Meanwhile, I made a "sauce" of sorts with a couple heirloom tomatos and summer squash and zucchini and onion and garlic (brown it all up in some olive oil first), a small can of diced tomatos plus their juices, and some herbs - dried, fresh. I used fresh basil and thyme, and dried oregano, rosemary. I simmered it all together plus salt and pepper to taste until it was nice and saucey.

Our mozzarella was bad so I just topped it with Parmesan... it was SO good!

Also - on a whim I added the leftover "sauce" to scrambled eggs and mozzarella (I bought some more) for breakfast... normally I dont like that kind of thing (sauce, salsa, etc in my eggs) but it was SO FREAKIN GOOD. Ryan also doesnt normally like it that way... and loved it.

Such a summer farm fresh meal - love knowing everything (save the pork) was local and in season and so so fresh!

Sunday, August 31, 2008

DB: Eclairs!

August's Daring Bakers Challenge was eclairs - something new to me (again). I really liked this one! Even though I ran into some hiccups... they were still scrumptious!
The challenge rules required that we use the given pate a choux recipe, and either the given glaze recipe OR the given chocolate filling. I felt that a chocolate glaze and filling would be too much, so instead I made the given chocolate glaze and two different fillings: cappuccino flavored, and the given chocolate filling... just without the chocolate (thus, vanilla).
I got the cappuccino recipe from a recent issue of Bon Appetit magzine (linked above). I really liked the flavor, but the filling didnt set up as well as the given recipe, so it was too runny.
I encountered two problems with this challenge: first, the pate a choux. It came together GREAT - perfectly! I piped them (used a ziplock with the corner snipped - perfect!) and threw them in the oven. They rose nicely... I pulled them out... and POOF. Fell flat. To the point that it was hard to slice them later! I made a second batch, this time trying the trick of letting them slowly cool in the oven after they were done baking. Same thing.
After reading some tips on the forums, I think they probably just needed more baking time (hard to tell since they were golden and puffed as the recipe says they should be when done). It was ok though, still tasted great!
Me second issue was with the glaze, and I am still not sure what happened. I followed the directions to a T, and yet after adding my first tsp of butter, the glaze broke. It became a beautiful choclate glaze, swimming in melted butter. I ended up adding double the chocolate sauce to it, and that mostly fixed it... regardless, it was deeply dark (I used half unsweetened and half bittersweet chocolate) and tasted beautiful :)
Overall, a great challenge! It really did challenge me, and it tasted great! Thanks!
Check out the recipe here!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

R2R: Tamales!

This month's Recipes to Rival Challenge was tamales! Definitely new to me... and not so bad really! Check out the recipe here (and past challenges too!). I made a full batch, with three fillings: the black bean one given (with the addition of fresh local corn), the seitan one (except with chicken instead - serving to my wheat allergy sister, and we like meat ;) and the addition of sharp cheddar), and my own - pork tenderloin - baked in the oven wtih the chicken until done (seasoned with S&P, NM Chili Powder, Oregano), then torn into small strips and tossed with various seasonings (all the ones used in the other recipes really), plus slices of fresh tomato. YUM! the pork one was deemed the favorite by all.
I defintely made the masa mixture WAY too thick... didnt much like that. But it was reltaivel easy, albeit time consuming ;)
Note: my "open" pics came out terribly... all steamed and out of focus. Apologies!
I served them with storebought (no time!) green and red sauces. Yummy! thanks to our hosts!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Kashmiri Chicken

For my birthday, my siblings gave me a copy of "The Food of India: a Journey for Food Lovers." SO good! It covers a variety of regions of India, and offers gorgeous food-porn pictures, and explanations and descriptions. So far - LOVE!

This dish was great. Most of the ingredients I had on hand already, bonus! Very flavorful and so unique. We both loved it! I would definitely make again!

3.5 pounds chicken or chicken pieces (I used a combo of skinless/boneless thighs and breasts)
6 cardamon pods
1/2 tsp coriander seeds
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
2 cm (3/4 in) cinnamon stick
8 peppercorns
6 cloves
2/3 cup blanched almonds
1/2 cup shelled pistachios
2 T ghee (clarified butter) or oil (I used oil)
1 onion, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves finely chopped
2 inch piece of ginger, finely chopped
1/2 cup chicken stock
1 cup plain yogurt
1/2 tsp saffron threads

If using a whole chicken, cut into 8 pieces. Remove skin and bones and discard. Cut meat into bite sized pieces.

Remove seeds from cardamon pods. Place small frying pan over low and roast teh coriander seeds until aromatic. Remove, and roast the cumin, then the cinnamon. Grind the cardamon, roasted spices, peppercorns, and cloves to a fine powder in spice grinder or mortar and pestle. Finely chop nuts in food processor or spice grinder.

Heat ghee or oil in a large casserole (I used a deep pan with lid) over low and fry onion to golden brown. Add garlic, ginger, chicken and fry rapidly for 5 min. Add the ground spices and chicken stock and simmer, covered tightly, for 30 minutes.

Stir ground nuts into yogurt. Mix saffron with 1 tsp hot water. Add yogurt and saffron to the pan and bring to a boil. Simmer uncovered for 10 min. Season with salt to taste. Serve with rice.


Garlic-sauteed Green Beans

Let me preface this entry by saying that I dont really like green beans. They dont do it for me, so when I say a green bean recipe is good... IT IS! ;)

I made this awhile ago so my apologies for the lack of precision.

In a saute pan, heat olive oil with lots of garlic (I used soem fresh and some frozen cubes - I like the frozen cubes because they are in paste form and really coat veggies well). Add 1/2 an onion, diced. Cook until the onion starts to brown on medium-med high.

Meanwhile, steam beans until JUST turning bright green (err on the side of undercooking rather than overcooking).

Toss the beans into the pan on medium high (my stove runs cool so I put it on high). You want it hot enough that the beans will get some dark color. After a minute or so, add cerry or grape tomatos, halved. Cook on a hot pan stirring occassionally until the beans and tomatos are starting to blister a bit.
Season with salt and pepper and top with Parmesan!

VERY flavorful!

Zucchini Ribbons

1) Take zucchini and run through mandoline (or carefully slice super duper thin)
2) coat with Olive oil and minced garlic
3) Spread on cooling racks placed on a cookie sheet and season with kosher salt
4) Roast until start to brown
5) Flip. Repeat.
6) Serve!
Yum! Interesting texture, and you just really cant go wrong with: garlic, salt, oil, roasted veggies :)

Friday, August 22, 2008

DB: Filbert Gateau

This cake was the Daring Baker's Challenge for July... but my July was CRAZY busy, and ended with a nasty nasty summer cold... so I had to postpone completing it. I finally made it this week (served it for dessert for my brother's last dinner before college )

I am SO glad I still made it... WOW! This cake was SO GOOD! The buttercream alone was worth it... All the elements worked well. I didnt really have any issues with any elements. My ganache wasnt the smoothest, but for a first ever ganache, Ill take it!

And the taste... ohhhh the taste! I followed the directions for flavors - hazelnuts, cointreau for the liquor (though I forgot the rum in the buttercream), apricot glaze. I am really glad I made it since it is somewhat similar to the Opera Cake which was such a flop for me. This one, YUM!

Filbert Gateau with Praline Buttercream

From Great Cakes by Carol Walter

1 Filbert Genoise

1 recipe sugar syrup, flavored with dark rum

1 recipe Praline Buttercream

½ cup heavy cream, whipped to soft peaks

1 recipe Apricot Glaze

1 recipe Ganache Glaze, prepared just before using

3 tablespoons filberts, toasted and coarsely chopped

Filbert Genoise

Because of the amount of nuts in the recipe, this preparation is different from a classic genoise.

1 ½ cups hazelnuts, toasted/skinned

2/3 cup cake flour, unsifted

2 Tbsp. cornstarch

7 large egg yolks

1 cup sugar, divided ¼ & ¾ cups

1 tsp. vanilla extract

½ tsp. grated lemon rind

5 lg. egg whites

¼ cup warm, clarified butter (100 – 110 degrees)

Position rack in the lower 3rd of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 10” X 2” inch round cake pan. Using a food processor, process nuts, cake flour, and cornstarch for about 30 seconds. Then, pulse the mixture about 10 times to get a fine, powdery mixture. You’ll know the nuts are ready when they begin to gather together around the sides of the bowl. While you want to make sure there aren’t any large pieces, don’t over-process. Set aside.

Put the yolks in the bowl of an electric mixer, with the whisk attachment, and beat until thick and light in color, about 3-4 minutes on med-high speed. Slowly, add ¾ cup of sugar. It is best to do so by adding a tablespoon at a time, taking about 3 minutes for this step. When finished, the mixture should be ribbony. Blend in the vanilla and grated lemon rind. Remove and set aside.

Place egg whites in a large, clean bowl of the electric mixer with the whisk attachment and beat on medium speed, until soft peaks. Increase to med-high speed and slowly add the remaining ¼ cup of sugar, over 15-20 seconds or so. Continue to beat for another ½ minute. Add the yolk mixture to the whites and whisk for 1 minute. Pour the warm butter in a liquid measure cup (or a spouted container). * It must be a deep bottom bowl and work must be fast.* Put the nut meal in a mesh strainer (or use your hand – working quickly) and sprinkle it in about 2 tablespoons at a time – folding it carefully for about 40 folds. Be sure to exclude any large chunks/pieces of nuts. Again, work quickly and carefully as to not deflate the mixture. When all but about 2 Tbsp. of nut meal remain, quickly and steadily pour the warm butter over the batter. Then, with the remaining nut meal, fold the batter to incorporate, about 13 or so folds. With a rubber spatula, transfer the batter into the prepared pan, smoothing the surface with the spatula or back of a spoon. **If collected butter remains at the bottom of the bowl, do not add it to the batter! It will impede the cake rising while baking.

Tap the pan on the counter to remove air bubbles and bake in the preheated oven for 30-35 minutes. You’ll know the cake is done when it is springy to the touch and it separates itself from the side of the pan. Remove from oven and allow to stand for 5 minutes. Invert onto a cake rack sprayed with nonstick coating, removing the pan. Cool the cake completely.

*If not using the cake right away, wrap thoroughly in plastic wrap, then in a plastic bag, then in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. If freezing, wrap in foil, then the bag and use within 2-3 months.

Sugar Syrup

Makes 1 cup, good for one 10-inch cake – split into 3 layers

1 cup water

¼ cup sugar

2 Tbsp. dark rum or orange flavored liqueur

In a small, yet heavy saucepan, bring the water and sugar to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat, add the liqueur. Cool slightly before using on the cake. *Can be made in advance.

Praline Buttercream

1 recipe Swiss Buttercream

1/3 cup praline paste

1 ½ - 2 Tbsp. Jamaican rum (optional)

Blend ½ cup buttercream into the paste, then add to the remaining buttercream. Whip briefly on med-low speed to combine. Blend in rum.

Swiss Buttercream

4 lg. egg whites

¾ cup sugar

1 ½ cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, slightly firm

1 ½ -2 Tbsp. Grand Marnier or liqueur of your choice

1 tsp. vanilla

Place the egg whites in a lg/ bowl of a elevtric mixer and beat with the whisk attachment until the whites are foamy and they begin to thicken (just before the soft peak stage). Set the bowl over a saucepan filled with about 2 inches of simmering water, making sure the bowl is not touching the water. Then, whisk in the sugar by adding 1-2 tablespoon of sugar at a time over a minutes time. Continue beating 2-3 minutes or until the whites are warm (about 120 degrees) and the sugar is dissolved. The mixture should look thick and like whipped marshmallows.

Remove from pan and with either the paddle or whisk attachment, beat the egg whites and sugar on med-high until its a thick, cool meringue – about 5-7 minutes. *Do not overbeat*. Set aside.

Place the butter in a separate clean mixing bowl and, using the paddle attachment, cream the butter at medium speed for 40-60 seconds, or until smooth and creamy. *Do not overbeat or the butter will become toooooo soft.*

On med-low speed, blend the meringue into the butter, about 1-2 Tbsp. at a time, over 1 minute. Add the liqueur and vanilla and mix for 30-45 seconds longer, until thick and creamy.

Refrigerate 10-15 minutes before using.

Wait! My buttercream won’t come together! Reheat the buttercream briefly over simmering water for about 5 seconds, stirring with a wooden spoon. Be careful and do not overbeat. The mixture will look broken with some liquid at the bottom of the bowl. Return the bowl to the mixer and whip on medium speed just until the cream comes back together.

Wait! My buttercream is too soft! Chill the buttercream in the refrigerator for about 10 minutes and rewhip. If that doesn’t work, cream an additional 2-4 Tbsp. of butter in a small bowl– making sure the butter is not as soft as the original amount, so make sure is cool and smooth. On low speed, quickly add the creamed butter to the buttercream, 1 Tbsp. at a time.

Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 5 days, or can be frozen for up to 6 months. If freezing, store in 2 16-oz. plastic containers and thaw in the refrigerator overnight or at room temperature for several hours.

Praline Paste

1 cup (4 ½ oz.) Hazelnuts, toasted/skinless

2/3 cup Sugar

Line a jelly roll pan with parchment and lightly butter. Put the sugar in a heavy 10-inch skillet. Heat on low flame for about 10-20 min until the sugar melts around the edges. Do not stir the sugar. Swirl the pan if necessary to prevent the melted sugar from burning. Brush the sides of the pan with water to remove sugar crystals. If the sugar in the center does not melt, stir briefly. When the sugar is completely melted and caramel in color, remove from heat. Stir in the nuts with a wooden spoon and separate the clusters. Return to low heat and stir to coat the nuts on all sides. Cook until the mixture starts to bubble. **Remember – extremely hot mixture.** Then onto the parchment lined sheet and spread as evenly as possible. As it cools, it will harden into brittle. Break the candied nuts into pieces and place them in the food processor. Pulse into a medium-fine crunch or process until the brittle turns into a powder. To make paste, process for several minutes. Store in an airtight container and store in a cook dry place. Do not refrigerate.

Apricot Glaze

Good for one 10-inch cake

2/3 cup thick apricot preserves

1 Tbsp. water

In a small, yet heavy saucepan, bring the water and preserves to a slow boil and simmer for 2-3 minutes. If the mixture begins to stick to the bottom of the saucepan, add water as needed.

Remove from heat and, using a strainer, press the mixture through the mesh and discard any remnants. With a pastry brush, apply the glaze onto the cake while the cake is still warm. If the glaze is too thick, thin to a preferred consistency with drops of water.

Ganache Glaze

Makes about 1 cup, enough to cover the top and sides of a 9 or 10 inch layer or tube cake **Ganache can take on many forms. While warm – great fudge sauce. While cool or lukewarm – semisweet glaze. Slightly chilled – can be whipped into a filling/frosting. Cold & solid – the base of candied chocolate truffles.

6 oz. (good) semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, like Lindt

6 oz. (¾ cup heavy cream

1 tbsp. light corn syrup

1 Tbsp. Grand Marnier, Cointreay, or dark Jamaican rum (optional)

¾ tsp. vanilla

½ - 1 tsp. hot water, if needed

Blend vanilla and liqueur/rum together and set aside. Break the chocolate into 1-inch pieces and place in the basket of a food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Transfer into a medium sized bowl and set aside. Heat the cream and corn syrup in a saucepan, on low, until it reached a gentle boil. Once to the gently boil, immediately and carefully pour over the chocolate. Leave it alone for one minute, then slowly stir and mix the chocolate and cream together until the chocolate is melted and incorporated into the cream. Carefully blend in vanilla mixture. If the surface seems oily, add ½ - 1 tsp hot water. The glaze will thicken, but should still be pourable. If it doesn’t thicken, refrigerate for about 5 minutes, but make sure it doesn’t get too cold!

Assembling Cake

Cut a cardboard disk slightly smaller than the cake. Divide the cake into 3 layers and place the first layer top-side down on the disk. Using a pastry brush, moisten the layer with 3-4 Tbsp. of warm sugar syrup. Measure out 1 cup of praline buttercream and set aside.Spread the bottom layer with a ¼-inch thickness of the remaining buttercream. Cover with ½ of the whipped cream, leaving ¼-inch border around the edge of the cake. Place the middle layer over the first, brush with sugar syrup, spreading with buttercream. Cover with the remaining whipped cream. Moisten the cut side of the third layer with additional sugar syrup and place cut side down on the cake. Gently, press the sides of the cake to align the layers. Refrigerate to chill for at least 30 minutes. Lift the cake by sliding your palm under the cardboard. Holding a serrated or very sharp night with an 8-ich blade held parallel to the sides of the cake, trim the sides so that they are perfectly straight. Cut a slight bevel at the top to help the glaze drip over the edge. Brush the top and sides of the cake with warm apricot glaze, sealing the cut areas completely. Chill while you prepare the ganache.

Place a rack over a large shallow pan to catch the ganache drippings. Remove the gateau from the refrigerator and put it the rack. With a metal spatula in hand, and holding the saucepan about 10 inches above the cake, pour the ganache onto the cake’s center. Move the spatula over the top of the ganache about 4 times to get a smooth and mirror-like appearance. The ganache should cover the top and run down the sides of the cake. When the ganache has been poured and is coating the cake, lift one side of the rack and bang it once on the counter to help spread the ganache evenly and break any air bubbles. (Work fast before setting starts.) Patch any bare spots on the sides with a smaller spatula, but do not touch the top after the “bang”. Let the cake stand at least 15 minutes to set after glazing.

To garnish the cake, fit a 12 – 14-inch pastry bag with a #114 large leaf tip. Fill the bag with the reserved praline cream. Stating ½ inch from the outer edge of the cake, position the pastry tube at a 90 degree angle with the top almost touching the top of the cake. Apply pressure to the pastry bag, moving it slightly toward the center of the cake. As the buttercream flows on the cake, reverse the movement backward toward the edge of the cake and finish by pulling the bag again to the center. Stop applying pressure and press the bag downward, then quickly pull the tip up to break the flow of frosting. Repeat, making 12 leaves evenly spaced around the surface of the cake. Make a second row of leaves on the top of the first row, moving the pastry bag about ¾ inch closer to the center. The leaves should overlap. Make a 3rd row, moving closer and closer to the center. Add a 4th row if you have the room. But, leave a 2-inch space in the center for a chopped filbert garnish. Refrigerate uncovered for 3-4 hours to allow the cake to set. Remove the cake from the refrigerator at least 3 hours before serving.Leftover cake can be covered with foil and kept in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Homegrown.... PIZZA

This month's Homegrown Gourmet challenge features... PIZZA!

Elizabeth at Elizabeth's Cooking Experiments is the host, and I think chose a great challenge! I ended up making two different kinds (since most pizza dough recipes make a ton anyhow... and I had great ideas for a pizza for my home, and one for DHs hometown too!)

First, the pizza for CT: this is basically a local pizza. We have a fabulous farm nearby, Rosedale Farm, with the best corn... anywhere! This is where we get all our produce from in the summer, and fall, thanks largely to a weekly farm membership. All the toppings for this pizza were included in that weeks bag even! This pizza featured roasted garlic mashed with olive oil and smeared as the 'sauce,' local heirloom tomatos, sliced, fresh basil chiffonade, super sweet yellow corn sliced off the cob, and two medium balls of local fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced. It was SO good! Even better the next day, reheated. Only thing I would do differently is use way more garlic - the flavor did not come through as much as I would have liked.

Pizza dough recipe from Cooks Illustrated, online. I made the crust as thin as I could without breaking!

Pizza numero two is representative of DHs hometown of Johnstown PA. In western PA, pierogies are crazy popular. They are sold at almost every booth at the local city fair every year... where I had never really heard of them before! They exist up north... but generally our filled pasta of choice is ravioli :)

Normally, pierogies are potato filled pasta, that are cooked through and served with carmelized onions. They are very yummy and very unhealthy! There are a ton of variations, so I chose our favorite to base this pizza on - the cheddar bacon pierogi. MMmmmm...

The crust of the pizza would be the pasta. I topped it with lots of carmelized onions, and then mashed potatos (I used small new potatos, boiled until cooked through, and roughly mashed with some butter and milk added to taste) that I mixed with about a cup of cabot shredded sharp cheddar (the best bagged pre-shredded cheddar in my area IMO) and a package of that precooked bacon... roughly shredded. When the pizza was almost done, I added even more cheddar on top of it.

WOW. This pizza was REALLY good! I really did feel like the flavor captured the essence of pierogies, too.

I dont really ever make homemade pizza, but I may be a convert... this stuff was good, and easier than expected! Thanks for the challenge Elizabeth :)

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Roasted Zucchini Ribbons

Another use for the piles of summertime squash! I thinly sliced zucchini with my mandoline and then wrapped in paper towels for a bit to try to get some of the moisture out. I put the ribbons in a tupperware container with olive oil, kosher salt, and minced garlic, sealed and and shook to coat.
Then, I laid them out on cooling racks that were on cookie sheets.

Roast at 450 for about 10 minutes or until browning - serve immediately (mine sat out and were cold... but still yummy!)

Chicken with Squash

This is a dish I threw together using some veggies we had on hand from our Rosedale Farm membership and it was fantastic!
2 chicken breasts (cut in half and flattened a bit)
2 medium to large tomatos, diced
Garlic. Lots of it.
1 onion, diced
salt and pepper
italian herbs (oregano, rosemary, and thyme are what I used)
Zucchini and Summer Squash, diced
Olive Oil
Parmesan Cheese
This is a dish I cooked by rote so the amounts are to taste/what you have. I think I used 1 large zucchini and 2 small yellow squash, so the amounts are about even.
In a large pan, heat oil over medium high. Add garlic (I just used the frozen Trader Joe garlic - I find they arent as strong tasting so throw in extras) Season the chicken with salt, pepper, herbs and add to hot pan. When you flip teh chicken (7 minutes or so, well browned) also add the tomatos. Pan should still be hot so the tomatos will break down and brown a bit too. Stir the tomatos occasionally and cook to finish the chicken.
Meanwhile in a second large pan, cook the squash and onions plus oil over medium high heat to brown. Add the squash and onion mixture to the chicken and tomatos once both are well browned and the chicken is cooked through. Top with grated parmesan cheese and add some more garlic, salt, pepper, and herbs to taste. The half breasts plus lots of hearty veggies made this a good dish if you are trying to up your veggies at dinner/lower your meat intake.
SO good and came together quickly and easily. You could do it all in one pan, but them not likely to get the sear on the veggies, which I liked. This would be good with a whole wheat pasta, too. Maybe rotini.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Recipes to Rival: Thank George's Bank

July's Recipe's to Rival challenge is a dish that includes: toast, fish cakes (made with potatos and cod), poached eggs, and hollandaise sauce. Of those components, the only item I had any familiarity with was... well... the toast! So this was a challenge for me! I loved that this recipe, while challenging in the techniques, was QUICK! The ratattouille took (well, for me at least) hours, and daring baker challenges generally seem to take days! I was able to make this entire dish in less than 2 hours - without rushing.
And it turned out great! It sure does look like a hot mess in my photos, but I blame that primarily on the eggs. I am clearly not a poached-egg chef! I wasnt a huge fan of the taste of the whites (with the vinegar from the water, and the water-logged effect) but I did love the yolks mixing in with the dish. I think I would prefer it with eggs over easy or sunny-side-up (which, coincidentally, I can cook effectively!). I made the food-processor hollandaise sauce and loved it, but Ryan found the lemon taste to be too strong (I though the tang was a nice note in with all the rich eggs and butter myself).
Many other members had issues with the batter for the fish cakes being too runny. Mine was ok. I couldnt really shape them with my hands.... but it also was not so runny that I could not form them in the pan. I think the reason why is: I didnt use leftover mashed potatos, but just boiled potato and mashed it roughly with a fork. Also, I didnt measure my potatos but used 2 medium supds - and likely that was over 2 cups. I also had a bit more cod that 1 pound (I had a choice of being over or under, I chose over) but I used the same amount of cream (I used half and half since it is what we have) and egg, though I mistakenly added the melted butter to the batter instead of reserving it for the pan.
My first run of cakes (and the batter made WELL more than 4 cakes - unless your cakes are each teh size of a small pan!!!) fell apart on me, but then I got the hang of it... treating them like pancakes seved me well (small scoops of dough, medium to medium high heat, and dont touch the patty until you are ready to flip so it gets a nice sear).
I did struggle with the eggs though. I tried the technique suggested on the boards of using a large spoon to help 'shape' the egg and it did help... a little... but my whites were still everywhere!
Overall, we both really enjoyed this dish! I loved how the flavors all came together and enjoyed the new techniques (who knew that Hollandaise was so easy? not me!). Very rich and decadent... but yummmmm!
Definitely a great challenge!
Note: follow the link in the beginning for the recipe!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Homegrown Gourmet 9: Roundup!

Sorry this is so late... this summer has been crazy busy thus far! But finally...

I had the pleasure of hosting this round of Homegrown Gourmet and chose PASTA as the challenge! See the original post, with the rules, history, etc here.

We had some great entries this month - I think in many areas pasta definitely takes on a local flair! My entry was more challenging. I realized after choosing the dish that CT really doesnt have a unique pasta. We love Italian food up here, and eat plenty of it... but its normal, not really unique. So I went local instead and made some homemade egg noodles (ehh I think we both prefer the store bought whole wheat), my mom's meatballs from her 1976 cope of Feeding Your Unborn Child, and a homemade sauce from local ingredients.

Our fearless founder Erika of Bean's Bistro submitted a pasta homage to the Hometown team, the Celtics. Green and white pasta... but not in the order you think! Spinach (green) noodles topped with a good new englandy (white) clam sauce. Very festive and unique!

Kate at Paved with Good Intentions submitted a Torpasta. Basically, a San Diego sandwich shop makes a sandwich filled with pasta! Crazy! Almost as crazy and french fries on a sandwich ;) Kate's entry consisted of homemade pizza dough, pasta, and pesto full of yummy garlic. It sure sounds like comfort food to me!

Elizabeth of Elizabeth's Cooking Experiments gives us Swedish Meatballs. Secret family recipes, improved upon! And Minnesota definitely has the Scandinavian history. Thanks for sharing your recipe with us! Secret family recipes are great fun but sad when they die with the secret-keeper :)

Becke at Columbus Foodie submitted a gorgeous Chef's Pasta salad made from local ingredients. Look at those colors! Beautiful AND yummy!

Ning of Heart and Hearth offered up Whole Wheat Spaghetti with Milkfish. Milkfish is the national fish of the Phillipines, where she lives. Considering I have never even heard of milkfish, and it is the national fish for her country... I would say this qualifies as Homegrown Gourmet!

A local challenge featuring pasta would be empty without Cincinnati Chili... and Melissa of Delicious Melicious did not leave us hanging! Chili on spaghetti... sounds weird but those Ohioans sure love it!

Last but not least, Michelle of Big Black Dog made pasta with Gorgonzola. This looks so good for the summertime! All those great dark greens!

So now I am charged with choosing a winner, and the newest host for the challenge! I am so glad we had SO many great and fabulous entries... but it also makes MY job hard! For me... it came down to Swedish Meatballs or Cincinnati Chili. I am very torn (and am going back and forth right now, as I type) between the two... a secret family recipe that died with the owner, recreated and improved upon... or a pasta dish so local that it bears the city's name...

I am pleased to announce the winner of Homegrown Gourmet 9...

Swedish Meatballs by Elizabeth! I am a sucker for family lore, and not only is this a family recipe (improved upon) but it also is local to Sweden, and well I have a bit of Swede in me too :) Congrats Elizabeth and thanks to everyone for participating! Looking forward to seeing what round 10 will hold for us!