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An Ending And A Beginning

The past week for me had me saying goodbye to an old friend and hello to a new one. Mama Roxy's two funerals were held on Thursday and Friday. I got to see some other long lost acquaintances. Why is that when people usually catch up its at funerals? We all had a nice lunch at Dixie Kitchen after the service. Since the repast would be on Friday out of the city, everyone and Roxanne's family ended up there for lunch before they hit the road. It couldn't have been orchestrated better. A nice laid back informal lunch.
On Saturday I was a guest at a Chinese Banquet to celebrate the birth of Baby K . I represented both Marc and I at this new experience for me. I tried not to over indulge that day to make room for the feast.The above symbol I was told means long life. On my way to the event I found a great kitchen store in China town. My eyes were drawn to the vegetable cutters. How fun is this! I cut the above out of a potato. I cant wait to play some more with this. I can even see me using it on cake designs.I need to revisit and get the Double Happiness symbol. I'm going to apologise for the pictures on today's post. As I mentioned in an earlier post, Certain Someone has reclaimed his camera and I reduced to an antique digital and my Blackberry camera with flash. I cant figure out how to deactivate the flash on it. I photo shopped some pictures to make a tad better, but its still doesn't the food justice.

These shots show 9 out of the 12 courses we had that evening. I was seated at the American table unfortunately . Because we weren't Chinese, they felt one course of braised Pigeon would be to exotic for us. I could have ate the Pigeon. But the other people at the table were not so keen as they passed on it before at the older child's banquet years ago. Here is a menu of what we were served:
Tea Dyed Eggs and Pickle
Assorted Chinese Cold Cuts( pork belly, beef, bean curds,
jelly fish,pork with crispy rinds,etc.)
Peking Duck ( Braised Pigeons for the other guests)
Shrimp Puffs( The best!!!!)
Chinese vegetables (mushrooms, bamboo, etc.)
Scallops and Chinese Broccoli
Steamed Lobster
Shark Fin Soup
Crispy Chicken
Steamed Whole Fish
'Fried Rice'( More like steamed rice with 2 types of toppings, very saucy)
Did I mention they had cake too? I could barely stand and walk after this.And there were so many kids running around and rolling about under the table I was getting antsy. But it was a joyous time . I'm not a preachy person but I think this verse sums up my week and life best.

To everything there is a season,a time for every purpose under the sun.A time to be born and a time to die;a time to plant and a time to pluck up that which is planted;a time to kill and a time to heal ...a time to weep and a time to laugh;a time to mourn and a time to dance ...a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing;a time to lose and a time to seek;a time to rend and a time to sew;a time to keep silent and a time to speak;a time to love and a time to hate;a time for war and a time for peace.
ecclesiastes 3:1-8

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What Do I Look Like...Chopped Liver?

I have been meaning to do this post for a while. Maybe its to heavy for the season, but as long as the air conditioning works, why not? Also my Certain Someone is away for 2 weeks( to work on the Swedish house and then Florida for work) and he's not a fan of chicken livers. Funny because doesn't sausage contain all sorts of offal? However all my female family and friends love this stuff. I get countless requests for it. Mama Roxy loved it too.I don't know if we were all iron deprived or what. I have tweaked and "glamahed" this recipe up so it doesn't even resemble or taste like what you find in most delis. If Im lucky , I substitute goose or duck fat for chicken fat. I also cream the mixture more so than chop. And finally I drizzle some aromatic black truffle oil on top. Is it kosher , no, but its damn good!My recipe base comes from one of my favorite cookbooks. Once way before Certain Someone, I was involved on and off, with a Jewish guy. So I became fascinated with the foods and customs. Not like that vegetarian would eat what I honed in on.Anyway this book remains a favorite, The Book of Jewish Food...An Odyssey From Samakand To New York, by Claudia Roden. The book has great historical tidbits and chronicles all the different types of Jewish foods based on tribes/regions. One of my favorites are the Italian Jewish dishes. Once in New York City I was lucky to taste some old Italian Jewish recipes and it was fantastic. My dining companions who were laughing at me at first couldn't stop reaching over to taste mine. So back to the liver. The author, Roden , Points out that that delicacy we all love ( well most of us) pate de foie gras may have Jewish origins. Come to find out,it was the Jews in the Rhineland community of Alsace that developed the way of breeding and fattening the geese by force feeding, became their trade. Force fed geese is a whole other controversy that I wont get into today. Today's chopped liver just uses humble chicken livers, the left over garlic infused duck fat from my confit before,onions, eggs, and black truffle oil. Open your mind, mouth, and enjoy.
Chopped Liver adapted from The Book Of Jewish Food, by Claudia Roden
1 large onion chopped
3 tablespoons duck fat ( I used my leftover garlic infused confit fat, the book recommends chicken fat, and that's more standard)
1/2 lb chicken livers
1-2 hard boiled eggs
Black truffle oil

Fry the onion in the duck fat in a large pan with lid on until soft and golden. Be sure to stir occasionally.Rinse the livers and sprinkle with salt. Place the livers on a a sheet of aluminum foil and grill/cook until they change color. Turn once. Let cool.
Cut the hard boiled egg up. You can use a food processor. Add the liver and onions to the processor as well to create a coarse paste. Mix with the eggs. Salt and pepper to taste. Smooth the surface and drizzle some black truffle oil (my addition).Note I also use a immersion blender to chop all the ingredients. It works and makes a nice paste.Traditionally this is served with some chopped egg on top and with hallah or rye bread.

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Burgers Transformed With Rose Levy Beranbaums Golden Burger Buns

For the past few months on the blogospehere I have seen a trend in making your own hamburger buns. I immediately thought what a brilliant idea. Breads intimidate me. I have no fear of yeast, like a lot of people, but I want to perfect and master it. Breads for me are either hit or miss. This my friends was a hit. If you don't know her, Rose Levey Beranbaum is the well known author of The Cake Bible, The Bread Bible, and some other great titles.Her approach is very scientific but she comes off as approachable and likable.She has a great blog where I got this recipe for hamburger buns made with Sweet potato. Rose calls them Golden Burger Buns.Sweet Potatoes have been popping up in my CSA box lately and other than bake them I wanted to find some more uses.I don't like to candy and sweeten them all up. I also made a little promise to myself and Certain Someone I would bake more breads. He would much prefer that then cake. In the kitchen at the caterers I have shaped and baked some dinner rolls and its piqued my curiosity. The bad memories of the Daring Bakers making Julia Child's french bread has faded into the distance. In my preoccupation with other matters I didn't follow the recipe as written, but it all worked. I retarded(let dough rise in the refrigerator) the first 2 risings because I started at night, and had to go to work the next day. After work I shaped them , let rise the final time and baked. Because I didn't have sesame seeds I used some fried garlic I got in China town to top the buns. The garlic smell as they baked was heavenly and I prayed it wouldn't burn. I quickly fired up a burger and just adorned it with my German curry ketchup, and Dijon mustard. I didn't even let the buns cool thoroughly in my haste. Most times its the burger and the fixing you remember. This burger was all about the bun. So soft and delicious. I will be making these again and again.

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Duck Confit and Pommes Sarladaise... Good Therapy

I know I said I'm taking a brief break. And I did, kind of. But you know what makes me feel better? Cooking.I'm coming to terms with Mama Roxy's passing and I just feel her love all around.Her children and husband are going to be OK!What a wonderful season we had with her in our lives. There is so much gloom out there lately, so I'm focusing on the the bright side of life. Thank you all for your kind words. Her daughter saw it and is most appreciative.
Last week I found some duck legs in the freezer at the local Treasure Island.Immediately I though Duck Confit. I could only afford the 2 legs and knew I had some chicken fat in the freezer( I use it for chopped liver). A little cheating, but it could work. I also purchased some duck fat for this experiment. The guys in the kitchen at the caterer talk about confiting as its part of an average day. I have never attempted such and knew Certain Someone would love this. I searched the Internet and all the recipes seemed consistent. Some even used a slow cooker.Some just called for herbs with salt in the curing and some offered spices too! I used several cloves of garlic, allspice,coriander,and rosemary( a lot of recipes called for thyme, but I only had rosemary).I ground the salt with the herbs and spices.I realized I used way to much salt at first and adjusted it before resealing in a Ziploc back to cure for 2 days in the refrigerator. Certain Someone was demanding it for Sunday late lunch after his golf. With all going on we had been doing take out all week. He wanted a nice home cooked meal before this weeks travels. He will be gone about 2 weeks( Europe,the house, work, etc). I washed the legs off, dried, and cooked in a baking dish with the garlic and fat covering the legs for 3 hours. The confiting scent nearly drove us insane as it cooked in the oven for 3 hours at 225.
Then on Sunday he called from the golf course to notify me he was on his way and hungry. I had soaked the potato cubes in water to remove some starch. And then I cooked them in the fat from the confit. It was infused with the garlic gloves. Amazing. I cooked them for about 5 minuted to soak up the fat, then with a slotted spoon arranged them on a roasting pan. A slight drizzle of Maldon Salt, pepper, and parsley and into to the oven. I then took the 2 legs and fried them up in a dry skillet until the skin was crisp. All the fat seared it nicely. The potatoes browned up with a few tosses in the oven. The meal was spartan but rich and divine. Certain Someone slowly savored his lone leg. He also loved the potatoes. I noticed how he took off the skin to savor last. When he finished he got up and gave me a big kiss. I guess he liked it! Next time I will be more adventurous and buy a whole duck from Chinatown( cheaper), render my own fat, and confit the whole thing.
I also made a rustic galette from some nectarines and plums that needed to be used ASAP. For a few hours I felt like I was in the French countryside. A nice escape.

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Taking A Brief Break

Hey Guys. A lot is going on this week. I haven't had time to visit or post.I started working nights in the kitchen at the caterer and the day job is getting tough. But most important and on my mind, is that Mama Roxy isn't doing well and it just a matter of time.For those of you who read this blog I wrote about her once. She is my work mother and the original Glamah, if there ever was one. I had planned this day on meeting Jen at A2Eatwrite who is visiting Chicago with her family. Earlier I was informed Mama Roxy was in the hospital, but hadn't realized she was declining so quickly. We were summoned to say our goodbyes.It was hard for me to digest and Jen was very understanding as we walked up Michigan Ave and talked. She came to the hospital with me, we had tea, and I braced myself to go up to ICU.All the memories of my mother and father dying in that's same hospital came flooding back to me. When I saw her I just broke down. But seeing all my old team and colleagues up in the room was comforting. Her daughter started a blog this morning to work through things. It will be a lovely tribute to her.
I will be back to my old self, but just need to withdraw a bit for few days. See you soon.

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Hazelnut Crusted Pork Chops and Nectarines , A Favorite Pudding.. It's Sunday Dinner!

I don't know if its summer or what, but my mind is slowing down on blog worthy entries. I am cooking, but just to eat and not to blog.Yesterday I started in the kitchen of the caterer. I arrived promptly at 8 am Saturday morning. It's a rented commercial kitchen up in a funky yet non gentrified area of Chicago. Anyway I waited and called as no one was in yet. The janitor said they should be there. When I was about to give up I called the head chef, who was not supposed to be there. I feared waking him up. But he answered and was en route. Seems Chef #2 was supposed to be there but was called away for a private cooking assignment in some glamorous Eastern European locale. The caterer has a contract for some private residences and businesses in Europe. How fun.Anyway my first task was washing and slicing a case of strawberries. Then making fruit infused sugar for drink rims,then washing and chopping a case of Romaine for salads, and finally slicing and baking dough for the signature canapes. All went swimmingly well until they started to cook to fast. I'm not used to all the commercial ovens and ranges and some were not crisp enough and some too crispy. Anyway another dough log was pulled out for more and they were cool with them. It's fascinating watching the detailed organization, lists and prep that go into off premise catering. All to be whisked away to assemble and finish on site.Tough but fun work. I barley looked at the clock and before I knew it it was over. 6 hours of mindless enjoyable tasks. I could have worked the event , but Certain Someone and I had dinner plans at the wonderful Korean BBQ place called Solga later that evening. The only unpleasant part is washing the dishes.That's an operation in itself. I cant wait to be called back again and actually go on site. I so love being back of house rather than front of house. The atmosphere is way more pleasant. Enough of that lets get home cooking.

So Sunday dinner is always a special for me. If we don't go out, I like to cook something .So whats new about that? But its a way to unwind and indulge before we go back to the grind. I created both dishes based on what I have on hand.
For the main course we had Hazelnut Crusted Pork Chops and Nectarines. Basically I used toasted hazelnut flour( which is just ground hazelnut not flour, so this can be gluten free) which was sitting the freezer .Pork goes so well with fruit, and I have a lot of fruit. This is rather simple. Dredge your chops in hazelnut flour, chopped fresh rosemary, salt and pepper . Spray a baking sheet with non stick cooking spray . Bake the chops in a preheated oven at 350 degrees until done. Turn once.In a separate sauce pan, add 4 tablespoons butter. Place halved fresh nectarines and 3 tablespoons sugar and cook down. We want to keep the fruit intact but turn occasionally to soften and cook through.The mixture should start to slightly bubble and caramelize.Add about 1 tablespoon of sherry and let mixture cook down some more. You should a nice syrup from the juices, sugar, butter and sherry. Serve atop the chops.

For dessert I made a pudding.Linda over at one of my favorite blogs Make Life Sweeter , has an event going on called Got Milk. The purpose of the event is to raise awareness for Word Breastfeeding Week during the first week of August. I know nothing about breastfeeding,other than I was breast fed and it has tons of benefits for both baby and Mommy. If my day ever comes, that's the route I'm going. Anyway Linda is asking for recipe involving milk as the key ingredient. I wanted to experiment with fried milk, a Spanish treat, but the heat and laziness won. So I decided to use what I had on hand and create a Pistachio Tapioca Pudding. Certain Someone loves puddings, as do I. As I kid my favorite flavor was that instant pistachio pudding you get in a box. Now with more grown sophisticated tastes,I have created my own. I had leftover pistachio paste in the refrigerator.This was a store purchased variety.I also had some granulated tapioca in the pantry. The rest is history. How real and natural a real pistachio pudding looks without food coloring. The flavor has way more depth too.
Coco's Pistachio Tapioca Pudding
5 1/2 tablespoons of pistachio paste
3 cups of milk
1 1/2 teaspoon Almond Extract
6 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons granulated tapioca( fast cooking variety)
In a large bowl whisk eggs,almond extract,sugar, and pistachio paste. Heat the milk in a pot.Do not burn. Slowly add about 1/3 of the hot milk mixture to the egg/sugar mixture. Note, I used my stand mixer and added hot milk as the it was whisking the egg mixture. Add the egg mixture back to the reaming hot milk. Mix. Add tapioca. In a double boiler heat the mixture over med/high whisking constantly until thickened. It will take approximately 15 minutes for the tapioca for the tapioca to get clear and start thickening the mixture. When mixture coats the back of a spoon it its ready. Pour into serving dishes. Place a film of plastic on top. Let cool at room temp, than place in the refrigerator.
Well I know this was a long post, but I wanted to show the meal altogether. It wasn't too heavy at all. Certain Someone may have preferred his chops fried more Southern Style, But I was trying to keep it lighter and healthier for us.

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Plum Cardamon Fruit Leather...Natures Candy

What is a grown , almost 40 year old woman with no children (other than her big baby Certain Someone) doing making fruit leather? Well, a number of reasons. The May issue of Gourmet has a strawberry fruit leather recipe I had my eye on . Then yesterdays CSA box yielded about a 1 1/2 lbs of each of black, and red plums, in addition to blackberries, and peaches! No way I can get through all that fruit, and I don't feel like baking pies or cakes . So fruit leather it is. Think of it as another way to preserve summers bounty.I figured I can take it to work and resist the Candy Man "Big Money" who sits in front of me with his notorious stash of candy. It's bad and everyone comes down in the building for their daily fix. He gets odd delight in it. Maybe he likes to see all the women go by, who knows. But we love him. And he keeps my orders moving and clients appeased. What appeals to me about fruit leather is that it is all natural. You can add sugar or not depending on the fruit and your taste levels. I used Agave Nectar and some Cardamon for some kick. I looked online and also used the Gourmet article as reference. Rather than add water to the fruit puree and cook down, as some suggest, I felt the plums had enough water in them .I kept the peel on to for texture. If using stone fruit be sure to pit them. A lot of people recommend removing the peel, but that's up to you. And you don't need a fancy dehydrator gadget. This can be done in your oven.

Coco's Plum Cardamon Fruit Leather (adapted in part/technique from Gourmet Magazines May 2008 Strawberry Leather)
1 1/2 lbs black plums( about 14)
1/2 cup Agave Nectar

Wash and stone fruit. In a food processor or blender puree fruit. In a heavy bottomed pot add puree and Agave nectar and bring to a boil. Reduce and cook for about 10 minutes. Add Cardamon to taste. Using the Gourmet method from this point pour the mixture onto the Silpat. I have seen some recipes use microwave proof plastic wrap as well. Spread in an even layer. Place in a oven that's heated at about 150 degrees to no more than 200 for 3 hours or until slightly sticky , but not sticking to fingers/solid. Very low temp(caution don't leave unattended even though it is a low temp). Take out ,remove Silpat /liner , and let dry on a rack for several hours up to 24 until dry. Take a piece of parchment or plastic wrap and cover the leather with it. Then peel upwards to remove the leather from the Silpat. It should adhere to the parchment(See notes). Roll up and store in plastic bags. Stores for up to 1 month.
Some notes: Due to humidity and thickness make sure the fruit puree is evenly dries out and done in the oven.While it dried it became a little more so(did not have air on) I noticed my center was more gooey and put it back in for another hour or so. When I added the parchment to roll the center was still mushy. I flipped the Silpat and peeled off the leather onto the parchment paper. I scraped the gooey part off the Silpat with a dough scraper and spread over the 'broken part'. The underside now exposed right side up on the parchment went back into the oven for another hour or so.
On a side note I just want to say first thanks for your opinions about the link issue. Made me feel way better! Your support means a lot to me. Also, guess what? It may not mean anything yet, but I will be starting to work on a 'on call' basis in a artisan caterers kitchen. I have known the chef for a few years through some part time restaurant work and followed him as a part time on call server to this particular caterer. Saturday morning I'm coming in to learn the kitchen and the ropes. Less pay than serving , but something I love to do! A little dream of mine without giving up the day job. It will be an experience learning and working off premise catering.

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Getting Out And Meeting My Blogging Neighbor With A Mango Pineapple Tarte Tatin

I have a kind of neighbor here in Hyde Park Chicago that blogs. OK, for the most part she resides in Champaign Urbana, but she and her husband still have a Condo here. Some of you Daring Bakers may know her.Chou ,as I will call her here, and her husband invited Certain Someone over to their home for dinner as they were in town this weekend. It was a gracious offer as it was bare and they were preparing it for sell. We ate picnic style. Chou had made watermelom smoothies,beet greens, beets and apples( all from her garden), Italian style meatloaf with loads of basil and sundries tomato. Very aromatic and tasty! We spoke of things perhaps polite company shouldn't speak of(no politics or religion). Mainly Obama, but we live in Hyde Park and history is being made, so of course we speak of politics. He's our neighbor and we love him.At first I had planned to buy a dessert as I wasn't prepared for the invitation. But then I realized I can whip up something quick. I pulled out Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan and decided to adapt her Tarte Tatin to an Mango Pineapple Tarte Tatin. Rather than puff pastry, I used Dories Good For Almost Anything Pie Dough, Where the recipe called called for shortening I pulled out my Atora brought in from the UK. It makes a great crust. They seemed to like it. Certain Someone is not much of sweet eater,but I was happy Chou complimented me.You see she is the baker and a food scientist! She can go on about different techniques, theories, and experiments that just go way over my head. She's brilliant . We really enjoyed meeting these two and we hope when they come back for a weekend in Chicago it will be our turn to do a deck BBQ for them. Also don't forget the Sweden offer you guys! This is my 4th blogger I have met in the past few months and I seem to be on a roll. I hope to meet many more. So far each one has turned out just as I have imagined them to be.

Here is Dories recipe as told by her. Going by her suggestion in Baking: from My Home to Yours, I just used firm mango's and fresh pineapple with a light sprinkle of cardoman.

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A Question, A Visual Meme,and A Contest You May Like.

I hope all of you are enjoying your weekend so far. I'm resting a lot. Just tired and stressed. Last night we went to an old friends wedding on the Fourth of July. It was a fitting theme for all they had been through over the past decade. Good Luck you two. It was Certain Someones first American wedding and we traded notes on the differences and what we would have, if that day came.
Anyway I woke late and checked on my hot mail account for this blog. It seems I may have crossed some lines with a fellow blogger. I know there is lot of discussion and debate about protected material and such. We all work hard on our blogs for simple enjoyment. Well anyway I have a new feature that has been up for a month or so on the side bar. Rather than a traditional link list, it shows the most recent 25 posts from my reader. I have received a few comments about this being fascinating, and have noticed it on some other blogs as well. This fellow blogger who I love to read would rather not have me show their content in the snippet or link to their blog . Its OK If I'm referring to a post of theirs, or an event, but not in this form.I never intended to use someone else's content(It is not like I am passing off their content as mine or profiting in anyway). The feature from Blogger just shows whats in my personal reader with snippets and you can choose to go to that persons blog and read on. I think its way more interesting than a link.Something may catch your eye that you haven't noticed before. Anyway all this to say if I have offended anyone else I am sorry. Do you think I should take this off and would you too rather not have your link in it? If that's the case I will remove the feature. This is a whole new world to me and I don't want to offend anyone .
Marx Foods is having another contest! I need to get going on this as the deadline is July 18. Its for your best burger recipe.
Enter your best Burger Recipe for a chance to WIN 10 POUNDS OF YOUR PICK OF BURGERS & Palm Leaf Plates to serve your burgers on in the “Build the Best Burger” Recipe Contest
Burger choices include Kobe beef, Grass-fed beef, Ostrich, Bison & more
Recipe Deadline: Friday, July 18
Summer is officially upon us which means a lot of delicious burger consumption. We want to collect a massive compilation of inspirational, new and exciting burger recipes that will last us through the summer!
Enter your best burger recipe by July 18 at The prize? Ten pounds of your choice of the burger options at, including Kobe and wild game burgers! No matter what the winning recipe, the prize can be catered toward your taste.
We’re seeking out the best burger—any kind of burger—regardless of it is made from seafood, veggies, black beans, chicken, lamb, grass-fed beef or sandwiched between a bun, mini-buns, tortilla, or ciabatta bread. The creative possibilities are endless. And don’t get us wrong, we do like beef!
Burgers available from include:
Kobe Yak Elk
Eaton Grass-Fed Beef Llama Venison
Antelope Ostrich Kangaroo
Mixed Sampler Box Bison Wild Boar
And if those don’t appeal to you because you’re vegetarian (or for other reasons) we’ll give you a $100 gift certificate to
The winning burger recipe will be judged by the staff on deliciousness and originality. Please only enter a recipe that can be created in a home (vs. professional) kitchen or grill, is original and from scratch. Each contestant is limited to entering one recipe.
We’ll also send the winner biodegradable, compostable and very chic looking
Palm Leaf Plates to make your next burger cookout that much more convenient.
A winner will be announced on Wednesday, July 23.
Submit your recipe, with a title in the form at or in the comment section below. Stories are welcome and if you have an accompanying photo (sometimes pictures tell the best story) please send it to us and we’ll add it to your post. Feel free to include recipes for side dishes that pair well with your burger.
Contest Rules and Regulations

And finally, Paz tagged me for this visual meme. If you don't know Paz, check her out. I love her varied posts from good food to daily shots of life in New York City. I feel a trip coming on soon.Post you 10 best food shots and tag others to participate. My type of Meme. Now I am not a photographer by any means. But I have come a long way since my first photos . Thanks to stealing Certain Someones camera and learning from you all.

Nothing says summer like Papaya/Coconut Ice Cream!

A Daring Bakers Perfect Party Cake.

Chicken I never blogged about. It looked better before cooking than cooked in a slow cooker.
A lovely flan. I'm starting to learn about natural light.
I loved the frost chilled effect of my homemade rum raisin ice cream.
I still get a lot of Taste Spotting hits on this Shrimp and long bean dish.

Finally a decent looking roast picture!

Fruits and vanilla bean for preserves.

Not a great picture but it managed to scare the crap out of a lot people. My Aunt jumped from her seat by the computer. I was proud of my Marzipan rabbit in my Buche de Noel. I guess from a certain angle it looks trapped under a log. I cant help it if it looked a little to real for people. Call me the twisted baker.It's the Scorpian in me I guess.
A refreshing cream limoncello. I could go for some now!

I won't tag anyone else because so many of you have been or don't want to be. Feel free to play along!I hope you do!Its fun to see how far you have come in photography.

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Its Not Quite Authentic But I'm Calling It Paella

Lean times call for lean measures. I don't want the Foodie Police on my case, but those that know me know that I am an improvisational cook for the most part. I think I know my food due to my voracious reading and self teaching . In a perfect worlds I have an disposable income to play and create. In lean times I still want good quality food but may not have all the key ingredients. I don't want to burn unnecessary gas just because I have a craving either.Looking at my fridge and not planning to supplement until later on this week I saw I have some squid defrosting( I had used half of it for a recipe test for Jadens cookbook), some English peas,a jar of saffron I picked up a while back, 1 leek,garlic, a can of stewing tomatoes, and some long grain rice( not Bomba ,Calasparra,Carnaroli, or Abroio rice). Ask me how I know these rices to use in Spanish rice dishes. Another prize I won and mentioned Spain And the World Table by the Culinary Institute of America. Certain Someone hates squid and he has been working and arriving home very late on a project. So This holiday weekend is a blessed solitary I relish. I need to catch up to me. So I said why not Paella for dinner. Looking at a few recipes for rice dishes and seafood I created this.It may not be authentic due to the rice used , pan, and lacking chicken and sausage, but it sure tasted good and will yield me leftovers for the next day or so. Plus aren't there many types of Paella?I'm not feeling burgers and hot dogs this weekend.Is that unpatriotic?
I'm not giving a recipe because I just kind of winged it , but here's what I did. In a large sauce pan I heated a few generous tablespoons of olive oil. I added minced garlic to it and a big pinch of saffron. The I added the cleaned leek slices and peas. Constantly stirring. Then the squid rings and tentacles. Sea salt , pepper, a sprig of rosemary from out back, sweet paprika and chopped parsley. Stirring more and more. Then the rice . I kind of toasted it with all the vegetables and spices before adding a few cups of water and the tomatoes ) about 4 of them). I slowly cooked this letting the squid form its broth and stirring occasionally and turning the pan. I added more water occasionally if I felt it was drying out.About a good 30 - 40 minutes later all the liquid had evaporated and I looked to have a mighty nice dish.All instinct with a little research.

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Mauby Kick!!!!

Not much cooking this week. However my prizes I have won are starting to roll in and Ive been busy exploring. Bren
sent me my prize based on some questions I answered on Trinidad Tobago. I got some Mauby,Geera,curry, and Amchar Masala.Bren has a terrific recipe on her blog featuring curried plantains in coconut milk. I want to try that sometime soon.Shes awesome and spicy like the spices she sent! In the meanwhile I was curious about Mauby. The pack was a spice pack of Mauby bark, anise seeds, cinnamon, etc. I researched on the web and saw varying recipes. I wanted something more than just boil with water , add sugar. So I emailed Cynthia, the Queen Bee of Caribbean cooking and asked for her recipe.Its a family recipe that goes way back. I didn't have the whole nutmeg but followed her recipe in principle and theory in regards to brewing and fermenting. I had my first taste this morning as its a 48 hour process. On first sip its sweet, almost tea like.Then a slightly bitter after taste. It grows on you and you find yourself sipping more. Very refreshing. The jury is out on its health benefits. Some say it lowers high blood pressure .And some wild theories are that causes impotence!A study showed blood pressure reduced if mixed with coconut water.Each island had there own version and the recipe gets tweaked to ones preference.Some people even add vanilla or mix with alcohol.The sugar content can be adjusted to your tastes. All I know is I like it and want to get some more Mauby bark and play.It is an acquired taste and I urge you to try it if you ever have an opportunity!

I also cooled off with the coffee I won from Marye recently. If you haven't had a chance to check out her numerous blogs on , do so. She's an amazing woman who can do just about anything in my opinion and never lets much shake her faith. We can all learn from someone like that. My first brew was a chilled ice coffee drink with a splash of Chambord. Delish!So you see not a lot of cooking this week, just brewing and sipping!

And on a final note, Mary from Shazam In The Kitchen sent me this lovely prize. She says I'm glamorous and exciting. If she only knew things aren't always how they seem but it is an interesting and blessed life! I feel you are all creative and fascinating or else I wouldn't spend much of my down time following you. So consider this passed on to all of you.

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