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!

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Recipes to Rival: Ratatouille

Recipes to Rival is a BRAND SPANKIN NEW food blogging group - it was created as a spin off to Daring Bakers, except for savory food - cooking, not baking. And so far, it is challenging and great! Our maiden dish was Ratatouille and though this recipe was long and involved... it was GOOD! I made it the night before, and then just reheated in the oven, broiled, and topped with the vinaigrette to serve before dinner. This was truly excellent and if I make it again it would DEFINITELY be on a weekend! Thanks to our fabulous hosts and founders, Lori and Temperance for this great dish! By the way, this is the official recipe for the movie!

Check out this and other future RtR recipes here.

My Changes: the piperade wasnt doing a thing for me on low or even medinum low heat, I had to put it up to medium for it to move at all (still didnt brown and took the suggested amount of time)

I couldnt find any chevril or thyme flowers - I added basil instead to the vinaigrette.

I served this alongside lamb chops and a baguette - the ratatouille was EXCELLENT speared on the bread!