Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Kitchen Diary 2012 - Potato Chip Shortbread Cookies

This is either the Black Sheep or the Fun One on the Shortbread family tree. Smitten Kitchen posted it by way of Emeril Lagsasse – but, what we can see from the topography of the Internet, this is a recipe that has developed over a while.

Its bone structure is Shortbread, there is a bit of the genteel Pecan Sandie trying to assert itself, but the ground-up potato chips? Whoever made that leap is the person you want to know. Ground-Up Potato Chip Lady is the one who catches your eye at that horrible party who points to the door and mouths “cigarette?” It doesn’t matter if you don't smoke: JOIN HER. She’ll close the door, cup her hand over the cigarette while she lights it, inhale, then arch her neck and exhale before turning to you, her confidant for the evening (if you can supply the light, all the better). She will tell you stories about everyone there.

Just look at the name of this cookie: if you’re not drooling, then good on you. But if you’re thinking dirty, dirty thoughts? You might as well start smoking with the kids outside.

We deviated from the recipe by adding an ounce of Sharffen Berger baking pieces to the batter (from the same bag we used to enhance our cranberry oat bars).

Most recipes will have you do this annoyingly twee step of forming the dough into a ball, rolling said ball into a pan of sugar, placing the sugar’d ball on a baking sheet, and then flattening it with the bottom of a glass. Okay: this dough is only butter, flour, and sugar: it’s pretty crumbly. Scoop it out with a cookie scoop (or tablespoon) into your hand and squoosh it together. Since it’s already in your hands, go ahead and flatten it into a small disk. The heat of your hands will have melted enough butter so you can press it into the sugar, then place it on the cookie sheet (ours was lined with a Silpat-style baking sheet, but there is so much butter in these, it is not necessary – neither is parchment paper).

Consider these cookies a secret handshake (or shibboleth): those who eat them may enter.

- ½ Cup sugar
- 1 Cup (2 sticks) butter at room temperature
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ Cup toasted pecans, chopped
- ½ Cup finely-crushed potato chips (we used about a half of an 8-ounce bag of Tim’s Cascade potato chips, ground up in the Cuisinart)
- 2 Cups flour
- ½ Cup semi-sweet chocolate bits

Preheat oven to 350F

- Cream butter and sugar. Add salt and vanilla
- Mix in pecans and crushed potato chips
- Add flour, mix until combined (the dough will be crumbly)
- Scoop out a tablespoon-sized knob of dough, flatten into a disk in your hands, press both sides into a dish filled with ½ Cup of sugar to coat, place on baking sheet
- Bake for about 15-17 minutes, until the edges get golden.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Kitchen Diary 2012 – Slow-Poached Chicken Breast

Remove rock-hard chicken breast (boneless, skinless) from freezer. Sprinkle with Old Bay seasoning on both sides. Place in small saucepan. Dissolve remaining cubes of chicken bullion from pantry in hot water. Pour this over chicken and cover, slightly, with water. Cover and put over low heat. Poach softly until internal temperature reaches 160 F. Rinse (the liquid in the saucepan will look disturbing – this is coagulated protein that has been expelled from the chicken breast while it cooks). Cool and cover. It can be added to the salads that single people eat.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Kitchen Diary 2012 – Chili

At some time before you have the hankering for this, you will have soaked ½ Cup of dry beans (we used black and white spotted orca beans) in a cup of water with a teaspoon of salt overnight.

In a small saucepan sauté ½ onion, sliced, and a chopped slice of bacon in about a teaspoon of olive oil. To that add about a teaspoon of chili powder and a dash of cumin. When everything seems sufficiently cooked, add a Tablespoon of tomato paste and cook a little more. Deglaze the pot with a healthy glug of dark rum. Add ½ can of smooshed tomatoes (remove the stem end and any stray peel). Dice up your leftover pot roast and get rid of any fat. Cover and cook. If it looks a little dry in there, add some water or beef broth. Taste at the end and add hot sauce.

We served this over rice.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Kitchen Diary 2012 – Sour Cream Chocolate Chip Cookies

- 2 Cups sugar
- 1 Cup shortening
- 1 egg
- 1 cup light sour cream
- 3 ½ Cups flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 package semisweet chocolate chips
In a mixer with a paddle attachment: cream together sugar and shortening. Add the egg, then the sour cream. Combine dry ingredients in a bowl then mix with the wet ingredients until combined. Stir in chocolate chips. Bake in a 375 F oven for 12-15 minutes.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Kitchen Diary 2012: Pigs in Blankets, an appetizer

Adapted from The Best of America’s Test Kitchen 2011

And yes, technically they ought to be called Moo-Cows in Blankets.

These are a cinch to make and the recipe was designed to be frozen (from the freezer, they bake in about 25 minutes). We had to overcome our initial horror working with such a soft dough – after wrestling with bread and crackers, this feels like you’re squishing a baby’s head between your coarse paws. Fear not. We’re still wondering if we should have a backup supply of these in the freezer in case we feel an urgent need for something nasty. Really: they’re so good they’re filthy.

The basic dough called for 1 ½ Cups of cream. If you don’t want the mustard or the horseradish in there, adjust as necessary. The cheese is also optional, but if it’s left out, no other changes need to me made to the recipe. But really: if you’re making a dough with a cup of cream, don’t be a pussy. Add the cheese.

- 2 Cups flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 4 tablespoons chilled shortening, cubed
- 1 Cup cream (see above)
- ¼ Cup Dijon mustard
- ¼ cup horseradish sauce
- 1 Cup shredded sharp cheddar

- 6 hot dogs (we used the amusingly-named Hempler’s Bun Busters – hee!)
- ¼ cup flour

- 1 egg, beaten (for egg wash)

In a food processor:
- Combine all dry ingredients.
- Add shortening and whiz together “until mixture resembles a coarse meal”.
- Decant into a bowl. Stir in cheese.
- Mix in cream/mustard/horseradish and form into a dough
- Turn out onto a slightly floured counter…or…a counter that has been lined with a slab of freezer paper (on the back of it just go ahead and trace out a 15”x10” rectangle with a marker), plastic side up and dusted with flour.
- Knead dough until smooth – about 8-10 turns.
- Roll dough into a rectangle (15”x10”). Brush with egg wash.
- In a shallow bowl, toss hot dogs with ¼ Cup flour. Brush off extra flour.

- Arrange hot dogs on the dough. Stare at this arrangement: imagine wrapping each hot dog with dough. Rearrange as necessary. Marvel at your spacial reasoning skills!

- Cut dough into rectangles around the hot dogs.
- Roll dough around each dog and pinch to seal.
- At this point the dough – soft as a baby’s skull, yes: that soft – was getting a little too soft. We transferred everything to a baking sheet and stuck it in the fridge while we enjoyed a gin and tonic and a cigarette. It is perfectly okay to use this time to engage in some aerobic exercise or light housekeeping.
- Cut the pigs (moo-cows), in their blankets, into quarters. Put these on a small baking sheet (time to use our belov’d quarter-sheet pan again!) and stick in the freezer. If these are just going to chillax overnight, cover with plastic wrap. If you’re saving for later (weekend bender of self-abuse and liquor), transfer them to a freezer bag when they’re firm.

Bake in a 450F oven for 25-30 minutes, until golden. Serve warm. When they’re cool? You will remember what it is to be a fallen creature, avulsed from the bosom of God. EAT THEM WARM.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Kitchen Diary 2012 - Wacky Cake

Wacky Cake! When we were young, so very long ago, we loved this because of its name. Wacky! If you’re so inclined, you can mix it in its 8”x8” Pyrex baking dish (this must be made in an 8”x8” Pyrex baking dish). We are, unto the end, sausage-finger’d beasts that can’t be trusted not to over-mix things, so we make the batter in a bowl and scrape it into the baking dish.

Why wacky? Probably because it doesn’t have eggs (the recipe is supposed to have come from World War II victory kitchens: eggs were sent to the troops). It is the only instant cake one will ever need, and is a revelation that comes from a handful shelf-stable pantry staples. Feeling blue, li’l punkin? Have a hankerin’ for something sweet? It’s only 30 minutes away.

Sift the following together:
- 1 ½ Cups flour
- 1 Cup sugar
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ¼ Cup cocoa powder
(we also added some instant coffee, but this isn’t necessary)

- 6 Tablespoons oil or melted butter
- 1 teaspoon vinegar (we’ve used everything from white to red wine to basalmic)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Pour over that:
- 1 Cup cold water

Mix everything up and scrape into an 8”x8” Pyrex baking dish. Bake at 350 F for 30 minutes. If you wait a bit – like, 30 more minutes, for it to cool, it will be easier to slice.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Kitchen Diary – Leftovers: Pot Roast with Vegetables

Slice up a potato and put in a frying pan, cover with beef broth, cover, and let cook over low heat until potatoes are pretty much done. Over the potatoes, add sliced vegetables (if using carrots, cut them very thin) and thinly-sliced pot roast. Add some more beef broth and cover: everything will cook in about 10-15 minutes over low heat.