Friday, January 28, 2011


OH, holy cow. I promised myself when i submitted my two weeks notice that the first thing i did after my last day would be to start up blogging again. Yeah, I kinda might have decided to sleep and play video games for the past few days; but of course i was doing AP homework in actuality...lets go with that.

Well never fear, Rachel is here! I'm back to blogging and better than ever!

I guess i should go over a recap of what Ive conjured up in the last couple months:
  • petites fours
  • corned beef
  • lots of bread
  • muffins
  • chicken cordon blue (like 70327809234 times, okay maybe really only 4 times)
  • various types of Christmas cookies
  • cornbread
  • sauteed baby bellas
  • crab apple cranberry chili pepper chutney (SO good)
  • Eggs Benedict
  • toad in the hole
  • pancakes

Also, I would just like to brag for a moment. I got a perfect score on my practical exam at Tech Center and a 96 on the written. I was most pleased :) OH by the way I'm competing in the culinary districts on Monday. Ive never been this nervous for anything in my entire life, ahhh so excited and anxious and scared and I'm probably going to puke before hand, just kidding, but seriously, puke.


Okay so i guess i should be more focused on the food right now. I just have to tell you about this chutney, it was delicious and its tart yet spicy yet sweet nature accompanied the baby bellas beautifully, like Harold Angels singing kind of beautiful.

If you're wondering what crab apples or baby bellas are, crab apples are these adorable mini apples; baby bellas are teeny tiny portabello mushrooms. I have a thing for cute little produce, don't judge.

Once i laid eyes on those crab apples i knew i was destined to create something magic with them, the stars aligned and shined on this bag of petite fruit. This lust was most likely driven by tiny lucid moments in my younger childhood memories of visiting my great-grandpa Hargis's orchard. I always remember that one time when me and my brother and sister were running around we stopped by these trees he had and ate these tiny little pears; discovering the crab apples in the store was just like eating one of those pears all over again.

Just to let you know, this is a big guesstimation on the amount of the ingredients, i forgot to write down the recipe after i made it, and add the heat level you are comfortable with, the peppers are only supposed to have a light presence.

Crab Apple Cranberry Chili Pepper Chutney:
-1 stick of butter, cut into pats
-1 lb crab apples, thinly sliced
-1/3 c. frozen cranberries, thawed
-1 tsp ancho chili powder
-1 tsp chipotle chili powder
-2 tsp rubbed sage
-1 tsp crushed rosemary
-1 tsp cinnamon
-1 tsp nutmeg
-1 tsp each of salt && pepper
-1/2 tsp ground cloves
-2 tbs Jack Daniel's whiskey
-2 tbs brown sugar

In a large skillet melt the butter over medium heat; meanwhile toss the sliced crab apples and cranberries with all of the spices and herbs. Place the apple mixture into the skillet and let cook for 20 mins, if it begins to look like its drying out add a tablespoon of water or some more melted butter. After the 20 mins are up pour in the jack and the brown sugar, let it reduce and cook out all the alcohol for an additional 20 mins or until desired consistency is reached.

Viola! a delicious chutney that starts off sweet and ends with a nibble of spice!

Eat with some sauteed baby bellas. TIP: if you saute them in bacon grease and sage, they will be divine.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Happy Black Friday, and Merry Belated Pilgrim's Bounty [Thanksgiving]

Black Friday--without a doubt--one of my favorite days of the year, well beside Thanksgiving and Christmas, and maybe New Years Eve. I personally enjoy Thanksgiving more than Christmas, mainly because there is more food, LIKE sweet potato casserole. Its less stressful than Christmas too: no need to worry about gifts, you just spend time with your family eat and be merry.All at the same time. And lets just face it, the after Thanksgiving sales kick the after Christmas sales' ass. I'd just enjoy to point out that the only thing i bought for myself was a set of two murloc action figures, other than that i bought Christmas presents for other people. I got a 150 dollar jacket for Mama for 66 bucks, try and tell me that isn't pro! I got to Kohl's at 4 AM and waited in line for an hour to check out, but was so worth it just so i can see the look on her face when she unwraps it!

There's just something about Thanksgiving food that make me smile inside and out. However the Turkey, which is supposedly the "big star" of thanksgiving dinner, is highly overrated; don't get me wrong i love the turkey but everyone knows that all the other fixings are the main attraction--the stuffing, the collards, the casseroles.At the first Thanksgiving dinner, with my Dad's girlfriend's family, I seriously only got one slice of turkey breast [i don't fancy the dark meat] and then piled my plate with mac n' cheese, green bean casserole, oyster stuffing, challah bread, crannberry chutney, and sweet potato casserole.

Now let me tell you something about the sweet potato casserole i made, when i put it in the oven to reheat and brown the marshmallows I kinda sorta might have uhhh got the marshmallows to ignite into flames because i placed them on the higher self of the oven...I would just like to point out, it wasnt my fault, i blame those dang oven nymphs that like to cause troubles--especially on holidays. Thankfully we recovered and had just enough marshmallows left to cover it again without almost burning down the kitchen. Aside from that mis-hap everything was epic, especially the food.

Oh forgot to mention, the mac n' chesse my dad made was spectacular, everyone was eating it, it had canadian bacon in it. You can't thwart the love for the ever magnificent pig. Bacon-1: Other Stuff-0.

Sweet Potato Casserole:
[flames excluded]
-64 oz. canned yams in juice, drained. [yams are the same as sweet potatoes, just pre cooked and skinned ]
-1 c. light brown sugar, firmly packed
-1 tsp vanilla
-2 large eggs
-1/4 c. evaporated milk
-1 tsp cinnamon
-1 tsp nutmeg
-1/2 tsp ginger
-1/2 tsp cloves
-3/4 c. flour
-5 tbs butter
-8 0z. chipped pecans

Preheat the oven to 375

In a large mixing bowl mash together the yams, 1/2 c. of the sugar, vanilla, eggs, and spices until a smooth consistency is created, use a food processor if so desired. Pour into a 9x13 glass pan; set aside. In another bowl combine the flour, the remaning sugar, butter, and pecans until a crumbly mixture is formed. top the casserole in it--this is the crunchy topping. Bake coverd for 30 mins. Uncover and cook until the topping is a nice golden brown. Remove from oven and cover in marshmallows, return to oven and bake until the mallows are golden brown [not flaming.] Remove and Enjoy!

Monday, November 15, 2010

"It's Difficult To Think Anything But Pleasant Thoughts While Eating A Homegrown Tomato."

I awoke Saturday morning and immediately decided it was a good morning for a run: i was right. I ran from my dad's apartments, up the street, and on my usual 2.5 mile sidewalk loop run. The air was chilly; my blood was rising to my skin's surface and when i was back inside my face was flushed and my hands brutally cold. Perfect running weather--for me at least. Thankfully that chill warmed up a bit for Gleaning!

Gleaning:when a group of people are permitted to salvage crops after the top picks have been commercially plucked, after the crops are "gleaned" they are donated to a food bank or a soup kitchen to be then distributed to those who truly need it. It an amazing thing to do, i had fun doing it and throwing a half rotten tomato at my boyfriend Joshua. However not all of the gleaned crops are in good enough condition to give to the food bank, basically I got to glean the gleanings because they weren't rotten to the point of non-salvageable, but not in good enough to donate. As a result i returned to my Papa Bears Apartment with a big ol' bag of tomatoes! Upon my return i took the job of making tomato sauce.

And I obviously cut off the rot spots off of these so called "bad" tomatoes: only the good parts were left to enjoy.

There is something about made from scratch tomato sauce that just really tickles me. I mean how could anyone not just love it? Its fresh and flavorful and just darn delicious, plus you know what goes in it and that there are no additives or unnecessary sugar--not to mention it makes your whole house smell like an Italian love fest. Id also just like to state that it will not come out the "normal" red color you are accustomed to with jar sauces, this recipe creates a dark orange sauce; but that's just because I don't use food coloring, no one should.

First things first when you're crafting this sauce: you have to peel the skins off those pretty little red spheres.

You do not cut them off with a knife--you blanch them, then shock them, and then the skins come right off with just a little pressure from you're finger tips.

Step 1: Cut a tiny "X" on the bottom of the tomato.

Step 2: place in boiling water for 15 seconds--or until the skin begins to peel around the "X"
Step 3: Immediately transfer the tomato to an ice bath
Step 4: Gently shed the tomato of its skin with tender fingers.
Viola! peeled tomatoes. This was the same procedure used for peeling the plums in my "Spiced Plum Jam" recipe; but that's a different post.

Now to seed a tomato one must quarter it and cut out the core, then under cold running water brush out all the seeds and save the tomato meat to cook with [duh.]
No that we got that basic down, TIME FOR THE RECIPE!

A Gleaner's Tomato Sauce:
-1/3 c. Extra Virgin Olive Oil [I refuse to call it E.V.O.O. fricking ever.]
-5 cloves of garlic, minced
-1 large red onion, minced
-1 large red bell pepper, diced
-2-3 lbs. tomatoes, peeled, and seeded.
-2 tbs. dried basil
-1/2 tbs. honey
-2 tsp. red pepper flakes
-2 tsp. rubbed sage
-2 tsp pepper
-2 tsp salt
-1 tsp crushed rosemary

Heat a large high sided pot over medium heat, Pour in the olive oil and then toss in the garlic and onion; sweat for 5 mins. Now dump in the tomatoes along with the basil, honey, red pepper flakes, sage, pepper, salt, and rosemary; stir, lower the heat, and let simmer--slightly covered--for an hour. Take a potato masher and crush up the tomatoes until your desired sauce consistency is reached, you can use a blender or a food processor if you want a smoother viscosity.
TA-DA you're skill in cooking has improved by 1 ! GRATS !
I hope you enjoy this yummy homemade sauce. It's delicious.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

“There is some magic in it, ... How else are we going to turn a pumpkin into a coach?”

This is going to be a short and sweet post because I'm going gleaning in a bit. If you're wondering Gleaning is where you go to a farm after farmers have taken their pick and you get the leftovers for free. Ill make a post about that tomorrow when i have time because I'm going to be working all night tonight. ANYWAY, i made up another pumpkin recipe, well pumpkin and sweet potato recipe. Maple Pumpkin Sweet Potato Pie. This came about because we could either make a sweet potato pie or a pumpkin pie at Tech Center last week--I combined the two instead. I also remembered reading a post on Eat The Love a while back about his Maple pumpkin pie and decided I wanted to try the maple idea out on my creation too. The results were delectable and my friends seemed to enjoy it too.
[I'm sorry this post is so lame :)]

Pumpkin King Pie:
-8 oz. pumpkin [canned, unfortunately]
-1 large sweet potato, roasted until soft
-1/2 c. firmly packed brown sugar
-1 tsp. cinnamon
-1 tsp. nutmeg
-1/2 tsp. salt
-1/2 tsp. ginger, fresh is better than ground--trust me
-1/4 tsp. cloves
-1/4 tsp Cayenne pepper
-2 eggs
-1/4 c. maple syrup
-1 tsp. vanilla extract
-12 oz. evaporated milk
-1 9" pie shell [recipe follows]

Preheat the hotbox to 375 F

In a large bowl beat together the pumpkin, sweet potato, brown sugar, and spices until smooth. Next whisk in the eggs, maple syrup, and vanilla extract.Finally stir in the evaporated milk until smooth and homogeneous in apperance.

Pour into a 9" pie shell and bake for 40 to 50 min--until a knife comes out clean in the center.

Pie Dough:
[makes 2 pie shells]
-2 1/4 c. sifted all-purpose or cake flour
-2 tbs. granulated sugar
-1 tsp. baking powder
-3/4 tsp. salt
-3/4 c. shortening
-5 tbs. cold or ice water

Sift a heap of all-purpose flour onto a piece of wax paper. Set the flour sifter into the mixing bowl. Then measure 2 1/4 c. of the sifted flour back into sifter[sifted flour is not the same as flour, sifted.] add the 3/4 tsp salt, sugar, and baking powder; sift into the bowl.Drop the shortening into the flour, then cut it in with two table knives:hold one in each hand; cut crosswise [that's in opposite directions] through mixture until the flour coated particles are the size of peas.
Sprinkle 1 tbs of water over a small portion of the flour mixture, lightly pressing moistened particles together with a fork. Toss this dough aside in the bowl. Repeat until all flour is moistened, being careful to add water each time to undampened spot. Use only enough of the water to make the dough stick together when gently pressed. now lightly form one pastry ball, wrap in waked paper and chill for 30 mins.
Now the pastry is ready to roll out into two 9" single pie shells.

[Paolo Montalban Quote For Title]

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

You Must Be Out Of Your Gourd!

A week ago, the Tech center kids, including me, got to adventure over to the Chesterfield Berry Farm to pick pumpkins to carve. It was fun despite that it was gloomy dreary and on the verge of rainfall.Me and my friends got lost in the corn maze, considering the only help was to answer questions about bees--we didn't know very much about bees.

I'm pretty sure the only reason we got out was because me and Abbey cut through the corn and made our other three friends follow. The fact that i played my ipod and everyone sang Blink-182 songs to each other helped a lot too. We kind of got a little too excited once we found our way out, lets just say there was much rejoicing.
It was time for lunch after that and by lunch i mean two scoops of delicious pumpkin ice cream. I had it for the first time ever there, and my tongue almost jumped out of my mouth and danced from how delicious this stuff was. Imagine pumpkin pie--in ice cream form. I didn't think it was possible to make something as good as pumpkin pie like that, but, they, did it. I think Jesus might have partaken in its creation.

It had a creamy light orange color like a sherbet, but it had brown speckles of ground up ginger snaps, which i think was an ingenious addition because pumpkin and ginger are spectacular together. There was also delicate flavors of cinnamon and nutmeg, they added just enough so that there wasn't a harsh taste that sometimes comes with these intense spices.

After the pumpkin ice cream experience, me and my friends began to geek out over all the animals-- the cows, bunnies, chickens, peacocks, turkeys, and goats. I would just like to say there were bunnies the size of my hand and there were just the cutest little things! Not to mention i got to pet a goat and a cow, my inner child was very very happy.

Pumpkin Ice Cream Freeze:
[recipe taken from Chesterfield Berry Farm, which was taken from "Pillsbury's Entertainment Idea Handbook."]
-1 1/4 c. finely crushed gingersnaps [around 25 cookies]
-1/4 c. granulated sugar
-1/4 c. butter, melted
-4 c. [two pints] vanilla ice cream, softened
-1 c. cooked pie pumpkin meat
-1/2 c. firmly packed brown sugar
-1/2 tsp. salt
-1 tsp. cinnamon
-1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
-1/4 tsp. ground ginger
-1 tsp. vanilla extract
Add the gingersnap, sugar, and melted butter together in a medium sized mixing bowl--combine together with a fork until well blended. Reserve 1/2 c. of this mixture. Press the remaining mixture into a 8 or 9" square pan; set aside. In a large bowl combine the ice cream, pumpkin, brown sugar, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and vanilla; beat until well combined. Pour on top of the crumb crust in the pan ASAP, then sprinkle with the reserved crumb mixture. Freeze until firm [minimum of four hours.] Scoop out and serve with whipped cream.
Yumminess !

Sunday, October 31, 2010

All Hallows Eve

i was Toph from avatar the last air bender for Halloween. I went trick-or-treating, and im pretty sure it will be one of the main motives for me having to have a kid when im older. That and to be able to play Lego's without feeling ridiculous. I'd also like to mention that i suffer for my art work, a freggin needle went through my finger while i was sewing this. INTENSE, but so worth it because my costume is awesome.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Bacon Makes Everything Better.

Oh how I've missed you so! Finally--a spare moment--I can put up a new post. I feel awful neglecting my little Plum Jam like this all id do is school, work, school, work, no free time. So goes the life of an overachiever teen...kinda, i still make time for World Of Warcraft [yes i am that nerdy.]

Well today started off on the wrong side of the bed, i was making a brisket over night and when i woke up it was tough. I've never made brisket that didn't fall apart to the touch--until now. This horrible disaster could be fully picked up, oh the horror! oh the agony! oh the un-tenderness! I surprisingly I didn't panic even though i needed something to bring in to Tech Center for our fun Halloween lunch in. I grabbed a cook book, i didn't care which one, just any cookbook--i was desperate. House & Garden's Cook Book was the one i ended up grabbing. I went straight to the last page of recipes, I did this because baking is in the back of a cookbook 99 percent of the time and a baked good is easier to pull out of your ass than a main course kind of dish.

The first thing that caught my eye was just a simple little scone recipe, but then my mind exploded, in a good way of course.

I saw two apples on my counter: "Apple scones! those would be yummy! Oooo I can add cinnamon and nutmeg and cloves, and vanilla!"
I remembered I bought bacon the day before: "Bacon, Apples. Maple Syrup! Ahh I saw on food network one time on The Best Thing I Ever Ate an apple doughnut with a maple glazed topped with bacon bits, I will so do that to these scones!"

And so my Apple Scones with a maple syrup glaze with bacon on top came into existence. Angels sang and God spoke, and that's coming from an Atheist so yes they were amazing.

Apple Scones:
[Modified from the "Scones" recipe in House and Garden's Cook Book.]

-4 c. sifted pastry flour [you can use AP flour or bread flour, i just prefer the pastry for scones]
-8 tsp. baking powder
-1 tsp. salt
-1 tsp. ground cloves
-4 tsp. sugar
-8 tbs. butter
-2 eggs
-2 egg yolks
-2/3 c. cream
-1 tsp vanilla
-2 Fuji apples, cut into 1/4" pieces
-2 egg whites

Preheat hotbox to 425F

Sift the flour, baking powder, salt, cloves, and 4 tsp of sugar together in a large bowl. Cut in the butter using two butter knives as you would for pie crust.Beat the egg and egg yolk until thick and lemon-colored; stir in cream and vanilla. Add to the flour mixture [remember 9 times out of 10 you go wet to dry] and stir together lightly with a rubber spatula then fold in the apple. Turn onto a lightly floured surface and knead for a mere 30 seconds--do not over work the dough. Roll or pat out to a 1/2" thickness and cut into desired shape: Triangle, Diamond, Circle, Sugar, whatever suits your tea. Which ever shape you choose brush with the egg white and sprinkle on a good coat of sugar. Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment or butter it. Bake for 15 to 20 mins, if you use a convection oven it will only take 10.

Its reccomend to serve hot with butter and marmalade or jam, but I took a more extreme route.

Maple Syrup Glaze:
-1/3 c. maple syrup
-2 tbs. heavy cream
-1 tsp vanilla
-1 tsp. cinnamon
-1/2 tsp. nutmeg
-1/4 tsp ground clove
-1 1/4 c. powdered sugar

In a medium bowl whisk together syrup, cream, and spices; add in the powdered sugar. Whick until a smooth thick yet runny consistencey is reached. Add more of the powdered sugar to make it thicker or more heavy cream to make in more liquidy.

To assemble this Scone you let them cool enough so you can handle them then you dip the tops in the glaze--sprinkle on bacon bits for a finishing touch of happiness.

These things shouldnt be legal, but they are and I enjoy my little creation. Oh, everyone at the luncheon did too.