Organizing the dreaded spice rack….

Archived: April, 2010 | Related topics: , ,

Great Tips on organizing your pesky Spice Rack, from DeliciousDays.com

I am in desperate need of a bigger spice rack. I just stood up and took this picture so you would believe me:

This is literally 1/4 of the total counter space in my tiny kitchen. (Yesterday my Dad told someone that I can bake anything, and I do it in a stove the size of an Easy Bake Oven. Ha!) So I was excited to find this article from my new favorite website, Delicious:Days. I’m not sure that this is the right plan for me, since I’m trying to get things off the counter, but it got me thinking. Also, I figured that perchance some of my lovely readers aren’t living in dollhouses and have the space to create this awesome spice rack/organizer thingy.

I’ll keep you updated on my SRS. (Spice Rack Saga.)

50-spice-tins-and-counting

Food Porn – Toffee Caramel Cheesecake

Archived: April, 2010 | Related topics: , , ,

My Favorite Cornbread Recipe…

Archived: April, 2010 | Related topics: , ,

Cornbread is a staple food here in the south. In fact, if you go to a southern restaurant, it’s not surprising to see cornbread listed as a vegetable side. When I first moved here I decided to try making cornbread from scratch, since up to that point I had only had it from the lovely little blue jiffy box. I bought the ingredients, looked up a recipe from a southern magazine and got to work.

You can imagine my horror when I bit into it and it was dry, crumbly and almost savory! I asked around and found out that southern cornbread is nothing like the rest of the country eats. It’s meant to be, you know, bread. In fact, most people crumble it into whatever they’re eating. No light fluffy cornbread here. In desperation I went to the store and looked for a different kind of cornmeal. I found the cheapest most enriched cornmeal I could find and used the recipe on the back, making sure there was a liberal amount of sugar in the recipe.

Finally, I had found what I had been craving. This was what I remember. At the same time, I knew something was off. Maybe it was the months of getting used to Southern Cornbread, but it seemed too sweet. I was serving it with dinner, but it felt like it should be for dessert. The following recipe is my Yankee leaning compromise. It is still  sweet, but the addition of some stone milled cornmeal gives it a bit more texture and cutting down on the sugar brought out the flavor of the cornmeal itself.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup cheapo enriched corn meal
  • 1/4 cup real cornmeal
  • (For a sweeter, cake like cornbread use all enriched. For a heartier cornbread use 1/2 cup stone milled cornmeal and 1/2 cup enriched.)
  • 1 1/4 c all purpose flour
  • 3 Tablestoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup milk (whole is best, but anything will work.)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil (You can use “drippings” as well, as in bacon drippings. I think it’s a bit rich, so I’ll throw in a few Tablespoons with the oil. Great flavor and totally old school.)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 F. Grease an 8″ or 9″  pan or skillet with shortening or lard. (I swear by my 9″ cast iron skillet. You can get them super cheap new, and I think it’s worth if it if all you ever cook in it is cornbread. )
  2. Put greased skillet into oven and get it super hot while you mix the ingredients. It should only need to be in there a few minutes. This gives cornbread that amazing crispy, almost fried, crust. **
  3. Blend all dry ingredients in medium bowl. Mix in wet ingredients and stir until incorporated. It will be a bit lumpy but it should all be wet.
  4. Pour batter into hot pan and cook for 18-25 minutes. Anything over 18 in my cast iron skillet will burn. The original recipes said 20-25 minutes, so I assume that’s for a different kind of pan.
  5. You can tell it’s done when a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Makes about 9 servings. It’s best served warm with butter, honey and possibly some sorghum syrup if you’re lucky enough to live in the south. :)

**Thanks for this piece of advice from my rad boss and co-worker. It really helps to have honest to goodness southerners to bounce ideas off of!

Food Porn: Pizza!

Archived: April, 2010 | Related topics: , ,

From Stefano’s Chicago Style Pizza. I have no effing idea if this is anything like pizza in Chicago and I don’t give a what. It’s amazing, cheap and really close to my house. Hooray!

Video: Apple Dumplings

Archived: April, 2010 | Related topics: , , ,

First video on Location! (Very fancy….)

Ingredients:

  • Pie crust for double crust (or two pre-made 9″ crusts)
  • 6 large Granny Smith apples, peeled and cored
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 3 cups water
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Butter a 9×13 inch pan.
  2. Mix brown sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg in a bowl and set aside.
  3. Make your crust, or roll out pre-made crust. (I’ll post a video on making pie crust soon, so if you don’t know how, feel free to buy pre-made. It’s not the best, but it makes for a stupidly simple preparation.)
  4. Cut crust into 6 squares, or cut so that each piece can wrap around your apples.
  5. Peel and core your apples. (If you don’t have an apple corer you can cut the apples in half to make it easier to core. Like it shows in the video, it may split if you do that, but it will still be amazing!)
  6. Put a piece of butter in, then some of the brown sugar and spices. More butter and some more brown sugar. Sprinkle some cinnamon and brown sugar on the outside of the apple (but inside the crust, duh.)
  7. Wet your fingertips and bring one corner of pastry to the top. Repeat with all the corners and smoosh it together until it’s totally covered. (You may need to pinch the top together a bit to make sure it sticks.)
  8. Place apples in greased glass baking dish and set aside.
  9. In a small saucepan, combine water, white sugar, vanilla extract and rest of butter. (About 1/2 the stick.) Place over medium heat, and bring to a boil. Boil for 5 minutes, or until sugar is dissolved. Carefully pour over dumplings.
  10. Bake in preheated oven for 50 to 60 minutes. Place each apple dumpling in a dessert bowl, and spoon some sauce over the top. Don’t forget vanilla ice cream, it’s the best!

So for real, this is such an easy recipe!! It’s pretty heavy and rich, so I’d recommend serving with a lighter dinner. That being said, it’s one of my favorite desserts for summer. I’ve had two boys propose to me after eating this, so be careful who you make it for. :)

xoxo,

Mel

Ow!

Archived: April, 2010 | Related topics: ,

Making chicken stock = Awesome!

Flicking above mentioned, boiling hot,  chicken stock in your cleavage as you attempt to stir it = Not Awesome.

This is my life, folks. Just thought you’d like to know that everyone does stupid things in the kitchen once and a while. :)

Getting ready to record my video for tomorrow. Gonna mix it up and make a killer dessert. Get ready, it’s orgasmic….

xoxo

Video: Chicken and Dumplings

Archived: April, 2010 | Related topics: , , , ,

Ingredients:

Chicken:
  • 3 Chicken Breasts with bone and skin
  • 4 cups low salt chicken broth
  • 4 celery stalks, rough chop (don’t throw any part of it away)
  • 2 mediums onions, rough chop (don’t throw any part of it away)
  • 4 carrots, peeled and cut into 1/4 inch pieces
  • 8 peppercorns
  • 1/2 teaspoon thyme
  • bay leaf
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup flour
Dumplings:
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon
  • 1/4 cup cornmeal
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 7 oz heavy cream or whole milk

Directions:

  1. In large stock pot over medium high heat, add first 9 ingredients (everything but butter and flour.) Bring to a boil, lower to a mild simmer and cook for 30 minutes.
  2. Remove meat and set aside and strain all liquid into a bowl, set aside.
  3. Reserve carrots in bowl and throw away all remaining ingredients (celery, onions peppercorns and bay leaf).
  4. Let chicken cool slightly and remove all meat from bones. Throw bones and skin away.
  5. Now make the dumplings!!: Mix all dumpling ingredients just till moist and set aside.
  6. Put pot on medium heat to melt butter, add flour and stir nonstop for 2-4 minutes until it’s a light brown color.
  7. Slowly stir in broth, then add chicken and carrots, bring to a light boil.
  8. Spoon dumplings over chicken and cook covered for 10-12 minutes. (Dumplings will be really wet.)
  9. Remove lid and cook for another 10-15 minutes, until cooked through.

So first off, this video is chopped all to hell! I couldn’t make the 10 minute limit so I had to cut out a bunch of stuff. I’m sorry about that. If something doesn’t make sense, just send me a quick email and I’ll get right back to you. Also, although it looks like a lot of ingredients and directions, please don’t be intimidated. It is really one of the easier things I have posted on here. It’s been suggested to me that for the new cook I leave some info out sometimes, so I’m trying to make sure I put every step on here.

I hope you liked the video and recipe. Thanks for watching!

xoxo,

Mel

But I don’t wanna cook today!

Archived: April, 2010 | Related topics: , ,

So Spring is currently taking over East Tennessee. It is so effing beautiful and addicting, it’s almost painful to be inside. If you live in a mild climate it may be hard to understand what it feels like to wake up and not have to scrape ice off your car with a Tom Waits CD while your toes go numb. This has been my reality for months, and I really started to believe it was never going to be warm again. Which would explain why I’ve spent all winter in my cozy kitchen making warm comfort foods. Either that or sitting on my computer, trying to warm my feet on my computer tower while writing about yummy warm food.

Now though, all I want to do is get off work, change into a tank top and drive to a park to lay on the grass and sun myself like a lizard. Being in my kitchen does not seem comforting, it seems stifling. Even sitting on the computer to Facebook stalk or look at pictures of cute freakish animals has lost it’s appeal.

All this is meant to explain why I haven’t posted anything in ages. I feel like I’m putting The Hedonist Cook on the back burner (get it, back-burner?!) and that scares me because I’ve put so much work into getting this going! So today I decided to sit down and edit a video, which I’ll post on Thursday. It’s for Chicken and Dumplings, and it’s so yummy! But I can’t seem to force myself into the kitchen right now, so I’m going to settle for some great food writing to inspire me. I got some new books at the library this week, and I’m looking forward to getting into them and seeing what new info I can learn and share with you. Who knows, maybe I’ll do some videos where I review a food book like on Reading Rainbow. Remember those?

Today I’m starting Animal, Vegetable,  Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver. I’m liking it so far, and I just read a quote that summed up one of my main beliefs about food:

Food culture in the United States has long been cast as the property of a privileged class. It is nothing of the kind. Culture is the property of a species.

I could go off on a huge tangent about this, but I think it speaks for itself. So today I’m challenging myself, as well as you. What can you do to take food culture out of your Bon Appetit magazine and bring it into your day to day life? One of my favorite things to do is ask people about their favorite food growing up. I usually hear a story that makes the articles in my fancy food magazines seem totally weak. It’s a way to make a connection with another human being, and it uses our shared food culture to do it. How freaking cool is that?

So hooray for Spring, books, food and the people in our lives. I’m pretty happy with life, what about you?