Sunday, December 30, 2007

Non-Baker Baked!

The Non-Baker Baked !!!! It really worked! In my last post I was telling you about a recipe I found in two magazines called “Almost No-Knead Bread”. Cooks Illustrated Magazine is the one that caught my eye as it used beer and water, instead of just water. The recipe looked very simple but did take some rising time, anywhere from 8 to 18 hours, the longer the better. So this is a “two dayer” bread.

Bread has to rise in a 10 inch skillet.

Ready for the Oven!

Into the "dutch oven" for the real oven!


Oh my gosh, I think it worked!

Not bad for a first attempt!
Moral of story, success for the non-baker baking!

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Remembering...And Baking Again?

As I am sitting here with my morning tea, still adoring my now somewhat drooping Christmas tree, I am thinking of the past year. Wow how quickly it has flown by me. Just 2 weeks ago I was in snowy Ohio visiting the Winter Farmers Market and now I am sitting in the south with all the windows and doors open. Thinking back on the past year, as I guess we all do this time of year, I said to myself, what was the highlight of my past year? First of all, in February, I started my blog. At that time I would have never guessed it would have developed into what it is today, sharing my favorite pastimes with so many new friends. It has developed into a community I cannot live without!

The second highlight of my year was being able to live in Ohio for the summer months and discovering the Oxford Farmers Market. Not only did I get farm fresh veggies, eggs, etc. I got another new set of friends. These couple of photos of the Winters Farmers Market are surely a testament to their dedication. These folks go thru “hell and high water”, OK let’s say snow, to bring to us the freshest and safest foods for our families.
If you would like to visit one of these hardworking farmers check out Lucy from Boulder Belt Eco Farm. Stop on over to Lucy’s blog, for updates weekly on the trials and rewards of organic farming. Reading her blog, and actually speaking with them at the market, sheds a new light and appreciation of “buying local”! This is a photo of Lucy in front of her stand at the Winters Market!

Well folks, enough reminiscing for now, time to plan dinner and head to the grocery store. Also, I am in the process of making “No Knead” Bread. Not sure if any of you saw the article in the New York Times, I didn’t, I first came across it in “Mother Earth News”. The second time I saw an article about it was in the February 2008 issue of “Cooks Illustrated” Magazine. After seeing it this many times, and they telling me how easy it is, I thought I would give it a shot. So the non-baker is baking again. Could this be a new trend for 2008 ???? Scary!


Sunday, December 23, 2007

A "Merry Christmas" With Wine

Well the big day is almost here and hopefully all of your Christmas shopping and wrapping has come to an end. Now it is time to sit back, relax, enjoy family and friends and pop open a bottle of wine to celebrate! And do I have a new one just for this occasion. If you have read any of my past posts on wine, you will know that some of my favorites are wines from "Toad Hollow". My two past favorites have been the "Dry Rose of Pinot Noir, Eye of the Toad" and "Erik's The Red", Propriety Red Wine. Both of these would be great for any celebration. But as I was strolling through the wine aisle this week, choosing our selections for the holidays, I came across Toad Hollow's newest offering. What caught my eye first is the whimsical label, as you all know I adore "artsy" wine labels. So I had to purchase "Le Faux Frog" 2005 Chardonnay!

About 11 years ago, Toad Hollow crossed the big pond over to France and created great new French Wines under the label "Le Faux Frog". These have been nice wines, but to me the ones they produce here in California I enjoyed a bit more. But seeing this label, I had to give them another try. And I am so glad I did! Their 2005 Chardonnay is the best to date. How can it not be as it is produced in the South of France in the District of Limoux! Limoux is situated just south of Carcassonne and not very far from the beautiful Mediterranean Sea. The 2005 Chardonnay has such a refreshing, non-oaky flavor with hints of lemon and a fun bright finish to it. It is not a heavy Chardonnay like some of the California ones can be, but one that is lively and light! Perfect for sipping at your holiday parties!
I will be pouring "Le Faux Frog" this evening and I will raise my glass to all of my friends all over the world!

I want to wish all of you a very "Merry Christmas". Have lots of fun and be safe!


Friday, December 21, 2007

Happy "Seasoned Eatings" From Key West

My post yesterday was about the fun spice exchange "Seasoned Eatings" hosted by two great gals, Katie at Thyme For Cooking and Lindsay at Country Girl City Living. Thanks for bringing us an early Christmas! It was so fun opening up my spice gift from Sher at What Did You Eat. And, what I truly enjoyed was heading to the kitchen to bake the recipe Sher sent along with her secret spice "cinnamon"! I do not do much baking so this was the perfect treat for me. Sher's recipe for "Cinnamon Lace Cookies" was easy and oh so yummy for the Holidays.

Just look how great they turned out! After I popped them in the oven, I had to watch through the door and, oh my gosh, they did turn into lace while cooking!

Sher's "Cinnamon Lace Cookies"

1 stick of butter (4 oz)
2/3 cup of sugar
1/3 cup light corn syrup
2 tablespoons heavy cream
2/3 cup all purpose flour
1-1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
4 ounces of semi-sweet chocolate chopped

Combine the butter, sugar, corn syrup and cream in a heavy saucepan, bring to a boil stirring often. Remove from heat, add flour and cinnamon and beat till smooth. Put into a bowl and into the fridge to chill.
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Scoop 6 one half teaspoons size (and believe me, do not go bigger as I did the first time, these guys really spread out) mounds of batter onto the baking sheets, with room to spread! Bake 8 minutes or until cookies are lacy and golden.
Let cool on baking sheets until firm. Transfer to a rack. Wipe off parchment and repeat with remaining batter. Chill batter between batches.
When cookies are cool, melt chocolate stirring until smooth. Roll the edges of the cookies in chocolate and set them on wax paper to harden. Enjoy!

Sher, these turned out great! I even got a little creative while playing in the kitchen. While the cookies were still fairly warm out of the oven, before I transferred to a rack, I took a fork and picked up the edge of the cookie and then rolled them. When they cooled, I dipped the ends in the chocolate. They turned out like little candies! So sweet and crunchy! Thank you Sher for your spice gift to me!

And, Thank You again Katie and Lindsey for organizing this great event for us. I really appreciate all the time and effort you put into this event. It was so fun and now I look forward to the round up on your sites! Cannot wait to see what everyone else received and "cooked up" with their new spices and recipes!

Merry Christmas and Happy "Seasoned Eatings"!


Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Home Now and My Spice Package Was Waiting For Me

On my way home all I could think about was my "Seasoned Eatings" package waiting for me! Sure, I was excited to be back home after the snowy days in Ohio and looking forward to getting a Christmas tree, but the spice package waiting means it is time to get back in the kitchen and prepare whatever awaited me in my secret spice package! Plus, it meant re-connecting to my friends in the blogger world. I missed you all!

I must send out a big thanks to Katie at Thyme For Cooking and Lindsay at Country Girl City Living for hosting a wonderful event for us. Kaite and Lindsay came up with the idea of getting us cooking bloggers together for a spice exchange. We all sent in our addresses to them, they in turn emailed us a fellow blogger somewhere in the world to send a package of a local spice from our area or a spice that we enjoy cooking with, along with a recipe using that spice. We are to prepare our recipe and there will be a roundup of all the goodies on Katie's and Lindsay's site soon. This was such a fun event because I got to meet a few new bloggers. So many thanks again to Katie and Lindsay for all their time and effort to make us have a happy "Seasoned Eatings"!

Now for the fun part! As soon as I walked in the door I opened my "Seasoned Eatings" package. A big "Thank you" to Sher from What Did You Eat! Sher lives in Davis, California and I envy her as she lives so close to wine country! Her spice to me is Cinnamon and a perfect spice for the Holidays! Sher also sent me a beautiful card with her recipe included, a nice note introducing herself and two locally made items. She sent a package of "Naughty Biscotti" from a company located in Santa Clara and a jar of "Spun Honey With Cinnamon" from a local bee keeper in Woodland, Ca. I am going to save this yummy looking jar of honey for Christmas morning! Thank you so much Sher for this terrific package! I am thrilled with these goodies and look forward to making the cookie recipe that you sent me. I will be posting the results of it soon and it will be included in Katie and Lindsay's roundup.

It is great to be back home again and now I must go and visit all of my blogging friends and catch up from the week I was up north. More on that trip tomorrow!


Thursday, December 6, 2007

Holiday Shopping On The Mainland

Hi Gang! I am going to have limited access to internet for the next week or so. I am heading north to do some Christmas shopping and visit family! I should be back to you all full time again the week before Christmas so I can chat with you about the holidays! I will miss you!


Sunday, December 2, 2007

Cookbook Review 6 - Wine and Food of Greece

This cookbook review is for my good blogging friend Valli at More Than Burnt Toast. Valli is a major Greek fan having visited Greece and attending a cooking school there! Valli shares with us on her blog wonderful photos of her visit and delicious recipes from her trip.
I have had “The Food And Wine Of Greece” by Diane Kochilas around my kitchen for quite a few years. The most used recipe out of her book is the flavorful Makedonitiki Skordalia, which is Mike’s favorite appetizer. This is a garlic and potato puree from Macedonia that will knock your socks off with the fresh garlic ingredient. Diane’s book is a great collection of Greek cuisine and pays tribute to the history, tradition, folklore and culture that surround each dish. Diane traveled in Greece and lived in Athens during the writing and testing of her cookbook. I so enjoy books like this written with such details on the different aspects of life and the background for the recipe.
Diane’s first part of the book is dedicated to the essentials of Greek cuisine. Actually, I totally enjoyed this part of the book as it is on Greek Wine! She starts with the mythology of Greek wine, the history of it, followed by the different wine regions. She has a very informative page on the “Appellation Wines Produced in Greece by Name and Region” with a map pointing out these regions. After the wine section, she goes on to discuss the “Spirits of Greece” and then other beverages like teas and coffees. The rest of Part 1 of the book is about basic ingredients and bread. Part 2 discusses appetizers, Part 3 is the main course section and Part 4 is on “sweets”. She has a great follow-up at the end of the book on Classic Greek Meals. For example, Diane lays out a sample menu of what you would serve for Easter, Christmas, Lent, Winter and a favorite Summer meal. This book is a must for anyone who would like to learn and taste authentic Greek dishes!

Here is a recipe that I adapted from “The Food and Wine of Greece”. And yes, here I go again with my tomato fetish!

Kotopoulo Kavourmas or Kokkinisto which is Braised Chicken With Tomato Sauce

3 lbs. of chicken legs, you could use any part of the chicken
Olive Oil and 1 Tablespoon butter
Flour for dredging
2 large red onions, sliced
1 can of petit chopped tomatoes with their juice
4-5 cloves of garlic finely chopped
3 tablespoons of fresh chopped oregano or 1 tablespoon dried
2 bay leafs
1 spring of fresh rosemary chopped (optional)
A good shake of hot pepper flakes (for Mike)
1-2 tablespoons of red wine vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat some olive oil and butter in your stewing pot, dredge your chicken in flour, add to hot pot and brown chicken on all sides, remove to plate.
Add more olive oil if your pot is dry, add onions until translucent, add garlic for a few moments, add tomatoes, herbs, pepper flakes, and a bit of water. Cover and simmer for about 45 minutes over low heat. Check the pot occasionally to make sure there is enough liquid, if not, add a bit more water.
About 10 minutes before serving, add the vinegar to taste with salt and pepper. Serve hot.

You could serve this chicken dish with rice, mashed potatoes, or like I did, over pasta. It is a very easy, flavorful dish for a cool evening.

I did not have any Greek white wine, so I just went with my favorite Sauvignon Blanc!