August 30, 2013

Jalapeño Pepper Jam

What do you do when a friend gives you a bunch of jalapeños, you don't have television, you're feeling kinda antsy, and you realize you have some fruit pectin in the pantry?

You make jam, ma'am!

I've made pepper jelly before, though I didn't blog about it. Several years ago I had to use up a bunch of Thai bird chiles, so I made a red & green pepper jam and a raspberry-pepper jelly. I chopped so many of those peppers that my hands were red and burning. I had heard that you can pour rubbing alcohol over skin that's come in contact with capsaicin (the hot stuff in peppers) to relieve the pain. I didn't have any rubbing alcohol, so I poured most of a bottle of vodka over my hands. It helped...though drinking the vodka may have helped even better. 

August 16, 2013

Julia Child's Cold Watercress Soup

A love letter to Madame Julia Child:

Yesterday would have been your 101st birthday.

Everyone seems to have a Julia story. Mine is about a trip to Hollywood in 2009 to see Julie & Julia, which culminated in meeting Julie Powell, who had sparked my interest in your story two years earlier when I read her book.

Whenever I'm in a horrible funk, from which even the gooiest of mac-n-cheeses won't rescue me, I turn to you. I watch old episodes of The French Chef. I browse your cookbook. Sometimes, I even spend an evening making one of your recipes. In fact, my first post on this blog was about one of your dishes: Potage Parmentier (Leek & Potato Soup).

August 13, 2013

Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day

I recently came across a post by Zoe & Jeff, authors of Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day, featuring bread baked in a crock pot. "Genius," I thought. "No heating up the house to bake bread during the summer!"

Their basic white bread recipe makes four pounds of dough, enough for four loaves of bread. It's a simple technique: Simply mix the dough by hand and let it sit for 2 hours. At that time you can either bake a loaf or refrigerate the dough for a couple weeks, taking a pound out each time you want to bake some bread. It's stupid easy.

August 9, 2013

Blackberry-Peach Breakfast Crisp

I call this a "breakfast crisp" because it's healthier (no sugar added to the filling & only 1/4 cup in the topping!) and more suited for breakfast than as a decadent dessert...and because I made this for brunch at a friend's house last weekend.

While I've made many crisps before, I usually just throw together the topping with whatever I have on hand. This, however, is the best version I've made and is now my go-to recipe.

You can use whatever fruits you want in this. I used wild blackberries and local peaches because I'd just bought them at the farmers market.

August 5, 2013

Homemade Mayonnaise

 photo e624d2bf-57ed-4888-b60e-678681da48d4_zpsc45afbf9.jpgEvery year, during late summer when the tomatoes ripen, I make mayonnaise by hand. And when I say "by hand," I mean that I whisk oil into an egg yolk one drop at a time.

One. Drop. At. A. Time.

I don't use a food processor or blender. I use a hand-held whisk. I don't rush. I revel in the whisking. I get lost in the rhythmic sound of metal striking the side of a glass bowl. Why? Because it's worth it.

August 3, 2013

Fall 2013 Cooking Classes

I have a couple of new classes that I'm teaching this fall. One is a Girls' Night Out demo class with Italian food (September 14), including homemade ricotta cheese and black pepper pappardelle. Another GNO class is pork-centric (November 23), four dishes all made with pork from the appetizer (five-spice rillettes) to dessert (candied bacon ice cream).

I'm teaching a Weekend Dinner Party demo class (October 26) featuring some of my favorite recipes from Nigella Lawson that ends with a luscious flourless chocolate-lime cake with tequila-lime whipped cream.

As usual, I'm teaching several couples classes: Cajun food & hard ciders (September 21), sushi (October 19), comfort foods (October 27), a chili cook-off (November 10), and the ultimate holiday cocktail party (December 22).

I'm also repeating my best-selling kids' class, the "Heir And A Parent" class where we make all foods from the Harry Potter books (November 3).

August 2, 2013

Chocolate Raspberry Pavlova

My "back to school" letter from the superintendent arrived today, AND Schlafly just announced that their pumpkin ale should be hitting stores next that makes it official: Summer is Over.

This has been the most rejuvenating break I've had in a while. I cut back on hours at my other job, so I've had time to do some things around the redecorating the living room and cleaning out the basement.

In June, I made a list of 50 things to do this summer. So far, I've done 15 of them. But, I plan to do a few more in the next couple weeks...go to the Missouri History Museum in Forest Park, check out the new library downtown, finish painting the kitchen, have drinks on the roof of the Moonrise Hotel, try baking bread in the crockpot, and go thrift store shopping.