“Open the door …to your Mystery Bake”!

MysteryDateGameboxWait! What? Remember this board game from the 60’s and 70’s? Well, this weekend I launched the CashmereTea version, except I’m calling it Mystery Bake! Here’s how it all started…

This is my baking cart…it resides in my pantry. It is out of control. Out of control sends my OCD into overdrive. I can’t just throw everything out and waste all the ingredients, but as we used to say in the inventory business, we need to reduce the number of sku’s in the equation. So I’m launching Mystery Bake. Each week or 10 days, I’m going to pull an ingredient off the cart and then make something for general consumption with it.

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First up, graham flour and 2 half used bag of white chocolate chips. Let’s tackle the easy stuff first, the white chocolate chips. One bag is no longer white, it’s now dark yellow and not individual chips but one big “chip”. Trash. Second bag goes into the chocolate pot to melt slowly over even heat.

I find a recipe on Pinterest for homemade graham crackers and think, “perfect, I can bake them and then dip them in melted white chocolate”. I have 24 oz of flour and the recipe is only using like 3, so I decide to double the recipe. That will use most of it. Easy enough recipe to work up and I decided to make large crackers to eat with tea instead of cracker size.

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Once it was all mixed in the food processor, I cut the dough block in half and worked each half separately, rolled it out on wax paper and stuck in the fridge for an hour to chill.

I rolled out the dough, cut big circles and baked them off per the recipe.

Now back to the melted white chocolate…yeah, not so much. While I wasn’t looking the white chocolate left over from the Eisenhower administration had seized up. No dipping for these graham cookies. I reached back onto the cart for another mystery ingredient of sanding sugar and gave them a little sprinkle. Still delicious! Perfect with a cup of tea!

Stay tuned for the next episode of Mystery Bake!

Dinner at the Homesick Fallafel…


I was feeling nostalgic for Paris the other day (when am I not?) and in particular the great meal we had at the Number 1 restaurant in Paris, the inimitable L’as du Fallafel in the Marais. Take out or sit down, cheek by jowl with other fans, completely ‘oinked’ out with fresh Fallafel, pita, lamb, gyro and more.


I made some ginormous imitations of the namesake product the other nite. I started by quick pickling some red onion in cider vinegar with sugar and spices. Then I made some homemade tziziki and microwaved the fallafels from Trader Joe’s. 

I made you a movie to follow along!

Summer Salad Twist

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As I related here a while ago, we have had a bust of a tomato season at our little truck farm. One of the types we planted this year was a “yellow peach” tomato, described as mimicking in look and feel the same as a real tree grown peach. I managed to get one off the spindly little plant and decided to add to a salad with a real sliced peach, some buffalo mozzarella, arugula and a little balsamic. Perfect summer salad!

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Here’s the one I managed to harvest and as you can see it is shaped like a peach and colored the same way.

Plan B

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So last nite I had a lovely dinner of chickpea flour crust vegetarian pizza planned for when I finally pulled my head out of Kevin Kwan’s “Crazy Rich Asians”, but had to resort to plan B when I figured out that the dough had to sit for 24 hours….

Not even sure what I wanted to make I started to troll the pantry and fridge and it was already 7 pm! The Hubs and I do keep a European dinner schedule and typically don’t eat dinner before 7 pm. We like to watch the news, debrief the day, have a cocktail, you know …all those adult type things. But 7 is late to be starting something from scratch. Then I figured I could make omelettes or something with spinach, because I have a 1/3 of a bag hanging around the fridge getting schlammy. That morphed into pasta with spinach which morphed into pasta carbonara, which in turn morphed into risotto carbonara…The result, an immediate Hubs Hall of Fame favorite. ( It has rice, cream, cheese and bacon…why wouldn’t it be an instant hit?)

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For the sake of eating before 10 pm however I pulled out the trusty pressure cooker because as I have recently discovered how good a pressure cooker is to cook rice.  I started by sweating a medium sliced onion and some chopped precooked bacon in the cooker in like 1 tbsp of butter for about 5 minutes until I could smell bacon and the onions were starting to get translucent.

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I added 1 cup of arborio rice with 2.5 cups of chicken broth and a little extra butter. I set the timer for 25 minutes, the recommended time for wild rice which takes a little longer to cook.

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Meanwhile back at the stove I fork scrambled and cooked a single egg, just before the timer went off. When the cooker depressurized, the consistency was perfect! I added about a 1/4 cup cream, a 1/2 cup of grated fresh parmesan, the egg, some cooked green peas and ground some fresh pepper. No spinach to be found, but totally satisfying with a glass of wine! Plan A needs to be read the whole recipe before planning dinner from it!

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“Hey, this came out pretty good!”

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We feasted on an heirloom and mozzarella and basil salad last week and I had the end of the yellow heirlooms, now infamous for the epic fail of a cauliflower pizza topping, and decided to chop them up loosely and what them up with some olive oil, a teensy bit of garlic ( like a baby’s fingernail size dollop) salt and pepper. IMG_2943IMG_2944

I just put everything in a glass pyrex cup and whazzed the heck out of it with my stick blender. Perfect dressing for this plate, but would also be good on eggs, a piece of salmon and much more!

 

Note to Self

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In America’s quest to kill their daily intake of carbohydrates, cauliflower is getting a lot of play in kitchens across the US. Trader Joes of course is more than willing to play in that space and has produced a line of carb substitute, cauliflower centric items like this pizza crust, mashed and rice cauliflower and more. I figured…”I’ll bite”

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What starts out innocently enough as a quick pizza meal for the Hubs and myself on our ever humble grill based pizza stone, turned fairly rapidly into a LUMP. And it was completely due to operator error…aka Moi loaded it up too much.

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Because when you take big slices of heavy heirloom tomatoes that are really WET and add HEAVY chicken to that…

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And then you add some HEAVY cheese and maybe some bacon and try to cook it, well, not so much…

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But adding arugula and avocados and creme fraiche to the top is probably what really pushed the scales…dontcha think?

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Everything was cooked it just became a knife and fork pizza!

Eggs Two x Two

Did you ever watch “Moonstruck”? One of my top 3 movies and in this scene Loretta Castorini played by Cher and her mother Rose, played by Olympia Dukakis are having it out about Loretta’s new lifestyle. Of utmost importance in the scene however is what Rose is cooking for breakfast, shown in the opening shot. It’s called “eggs in a hole” and has been getting some serious play in my house recently because I had this loaf of brioche that was just perfect for pulling the middle out of!

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First I used a little measuring glass to punch the whole out of the middle of each slice in a not so tidy fashion. Then on a medium hot skillet that had a good coating of cooking spray I arranged the slices in the pan and cracked an egg into each hole.

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I let the bottom of each slice get medium brown and make sure the egg bottom is set and then flip over. You may get a little leak of egg out the bottom, but it’s not a deal breaker. In this mornings version I was using up a 1/2 avocado that was at its’ 5 second of ripeness stage, then heel of a knob of buffalo mozzarella, and the end of a jar of fried Italian peppers. The peppers can heat in the skillet once you flip the bread. I sprinkled some fresh parmesan on top for more flavor. You can top and season and garnish to your hearts content.

Speaking of hearts, the denouement of the scene concludes with the return of money to Loretta’s aunt and uncle, a showdown between her mother and father about a mistress, the return of Johnny Camerari, a confession of true love and a champagne toast ( with sugar cube!)

“Do you love him Loretta?”

“Oh, Ma, I love him something awful…”