Saturday, March 31, 2012

Lit'l Smokies

These are great appetizers for a special occasion. Make sure to prepare a lot of them. They disappear fast.

Cut bacon into thirds. Wrap each Smokie in a piece of bacon and place seam side down in a pan.

Melt a stick of butter and mix it with 1 cup of dark brown sugar.

Spread this mixture over the Smokies. Sprinkle an additional 1 cup of brown sugar over the top.

Bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes. Turn the oven up to 400 degrees and bake 15 minutes longer until the bacon is crispy. I made these for my daughter's birthday party and they were gone in minutes.

Friday, March 30, 2012

The Guest House

My daughter is coming home for her birthday today and is spending the weekend with her boyfriend at or guest house. I went down this morning to tidy up and get ready for their arrival. I wound the cuckoo clock. When the clock chimes, Hansel, Gretel and the Witch appear and it plays Bavarian music.

It is always Halloween at the guest house. This way, when I need a Halloween fix, I just come down here for a visit!

Potion bottles.

A with in a pumpkin string dispenser.

Pieces I picked up in Germany.

The kitchen.

An old apothecary cabinet hold glasses and dishes.

My Wurlitzer filled with my favorite old songs.

A sideboard from Belgium.

A matching sideboard on the other side.

More photos tomorrow. I was so busy I forgot to take shots of the birthday table!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Jambon Fume' Fromage...A French Sandwich

One of my favorite things to do while exploring French cities has always been to sample the wide variety of sandwiches for sale along the avenues. The French sure like their sandwiches and I like their sandwiches too. I make variations of these for my kids a lot.

The ones I made today are very basic. A baguette spread with Dijon mustard. Several slices of prosciutto and some cotto (thinly sliced Italian pork).

And of course, a nice slice of creamy brie.

Not fancy and easy to make but oh so good!

Serve with cornichons or some sort of pickle. Bon Appetit!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Carbonnade al la Flemande

One of our favorite restaurants is Belgian. We eat there often but I never ordered the carbonnade. A few weeks ago, my husband ordered it and I tried it. I instantly knew I had to make it. This is what I made the French bread for the other day. I read and read about the history of carbonnade and poured through recipe after recipe and concocted the one I am about to show you. We traveled to Belgium many times and I never ate it there either which I now regret. I was always too busy eating seafood.

You need 1/2 pound of slab bacon and 2 large chuck roasts.

Trim the meat and cut it into 1 1/2 inch pieces. Place it on paper towels to dry.

Cut the bacon into small cubes.

Fry the bacon in a bit of olive oil until it is crisp.

Mix 1/2 cup flour with 2 tsp. black pepper, 2 tsp. salt and 1 tsp. of dried thyme. Add meat to the bag and shake it to coat.

Mince 6 cloves of garlic.

Remove the bacon from the oil and set it aside. Sear the beef on all sides until it develops a dark golden crust.

Thinly slice 4 large onions.

Do not cheat on this step. This is the key to great carbonnade as opposed to something with a nasty end result. Good Beer. I used Belgian Duchesse De Bourgogne. And wow, is it ever good beer. I was having trouble not sipping some at 7:00 am!

As you sear the meat, transfer it to a bowl.

This takes a bit of time but it is necessary to retain the flavor in each piece.

When the meat is done, leave the drippings in the pan.

Throw in the 4 sliced onions and stir around to loosen the brown bits on the bottom of the pot.

Pour in the bottle of beer.

Add 2 packs of Knorr's concentrated beef stock. Add 1 cup of beef stock.

Add the bacon.

Add the beef back in with any accumulated juices.

Add 1/4 cup of dark brown sugar, the garlic and 2 bay leaves.

I threw in a bundle of thyme but from now on I will use rosemary instead. I will explain why shortly. Add 2 tablespoons of cider vinegar.

Spread 4 good pieces of bread with 2 tablespoons of dijon mustard. Don't use the bad store bought bread. Place them on top of the stew. They will disintegrate during cooking and add a complex flavor that is important to carbonnade. This is actually better if made a couple days ahead of time. The flavor deepens as it sits in the fridge.

Cover and place it in a 300 degree oven for 3 hours, stirring occasionally.

I boiled some cubed Yukon Gold potatoes and then tossed them with salt, pepper and butter.

The finished stew.

This is often served with noodles or Belgian Frites.

When mine finished cooking, I tasted it and was disappointed that it did not taste like the one at our restaurant. So, I told my husband we were returning there to eat the same day I made this. I was pretty carbonnaded out but I had to figure out what I did wrong. We went to the restaurant and I ordered it. Mine was much better than theirs but I realized they use rosemary rather than thyme. It only cost me 24.00 to fine this out. So use rosemary!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Pizza Cones

These are all the rage now in eastern Canada. I have been wanting to make them for quite some time but could not find cone molds. Sur La Table now carries a kit. The kit costs 25.00 which I think is expensive for what you get but until I figure out another way of making these, it seems to be the only solution.

This is what you get in the kit.

I also picked up this nifty new garlic mincer.

You just put a clove of garlic on a cutting board and rock this over it while pressing down and you get these neat little pieces of garlic. Just thought I would share that with you!

Start by making pizza dough. This is the recipe that comes with the kit.

2 cups plus 2 tablespoons flour
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 tablespoon sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon instant rise yeast

Mix this together and kneed to form a smooth dough.

I made double which made 8 cones.

A close up of the garlic.

For the cone filling, mix together what you like as pizza toppings. I used onions, black olives, garlic, Provolone, pepperoni, oregano and pizza sauce.

The dough needs to rise for 30 minutes. Then you roll it out to 1/8" thickness.

Using the cutter from the kit, you cut the dough.

Wet the edges of the dough except for the part that will be the top of the cone. The directions did not say this but I learned very quickly to brush the inside of the dough with oil.

Fold the dough over and crimp the sides together with the crimper.

Let them rest for 15 minutes. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Slide the dough over the cones. Bake them for 10 minutes. Remove them from the cones and let them cool on a rack.

Place them in the cone holders. Fill them with the filling, gently packing it down because it will settle as it cooks. You want to get as much in there as you can. Bake them in the holders for another 10 minutes until the cone is turning golden and the filling is melted.

Repeat and keep baking cones until all the dough is gone.

Here is one ready to go into the oven. I had to wrap foil around it because the seam opened while it baked. It took a while for me to get the hang of it but then the cones came out whole.

Fresh from the oven. These are hot and need to sit for a while before eating. You also need to tilt them up until they cool a bit so the filling does not run out.

When I was a little kid we used to get sundaes in cone cups and they were called walk-a-ways.

These are pizza walk-a-ways.

And they sure are good! What fun they would be for a kids party too!