Sunday, February 26, 2012

First Supper Club = Success

Nothing angers me more than going out to eat, expecting the food to be good, it turns out to be awful and then you have to still pay for it!  This has happened to us more often than not, and we always leave asking ourselves, "why didn't we just cook at home?"  I had an idea there were people feeling the same way so I rounded up a couple of fellow foodies and we started a good ol' fashioned supper club.

The idea is simple:  Gather some willing friends who love to cook/eat and pick a host. The host chooses a theme and menu, makes the entree, and the others make the remaining dishes.  It's pretty much a guaranteed success, especially with my friends - we are all pretty passionate about food.


We made the pasta. From stratch.  By hand.

The Cacio e Pepe was amazing-so amazing that we forgot to photograph it.  

Oh, Arancini

I sent everyone home with homemade lemon gelato in chinese takeout containers (nice touch, right?)  Our first Supper Club was a huge success.  We couldn't have done it without each other - big thanks to everyone, you know who you are :)

We all look forward to many more shared meals together and new friendships along the way!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Tuesdays with Dorie: Chocolate Truffle Tartlets

I've been baking/cooking like crazy - Valentine's dinner and dessert, supper club, plus some goodies in-between.  I was afraid these wouldn't get eaten as quickly as I'd hoped.  Don't get me wrong, I LOVE chocolate, but we've been eating A LOT lately.  I didn't want these tartlets to get lost in the chaos of all the other deliciousness.  I wanted them to have their own spotlight, so I took a few days breather from the kitchen and whipped up these babies the night before posting :)

I started the dough on a lazy Sunday and was surprised at how quickly it came together - 5 minutes?  I think it took more time to clean up then to mix it up.

I had 4 - 4.5" tartlet pans so I had to bake in two batches.  The dough was really easy to work with and baked up perfectly.

I mixed up the chocolate according to recipe.  I used a majority of bittersweet chocolate with an ounce or so of semisweet.  I added the milk and white chocolate chunks and since I already had planned for making two batches, I thought of dividing the chocolate mixture in half and using two different mix-ins.  One half I did the biscotti as the recipe calls for; I used store-bought since I was short on time.  The other half of the chocolate got chocolate covered pretzels since I had them handy.  I figured the salty crunch would be a big hit.

I forgot to poke the crusts on the first batch, but it didn't matter any.  The tops remained very glossy, so glossy I didn't think they were done, but I took them out anyway.  The second batch weren't glossy at all, they looked dry like the recipe said they're supposed to.  I like the look of the glossy better.

These were seriously amazing.  I never thought I could have made something like this.  I didn't taste the pretzel ones yet, but how can they be wrong?  Since I'm going out of town this week, they're going in the freezer until I get back!

And My Critic says:  Oh man is that rich! Almost like a gooey brownie.  Put some ice cream on top!

For the recipe please visit Spike of Spikes Bakes, Jaime of Good Eats, Sweet Treats, Jessica of Cookbookhabit and Steph of A Whisk and a Spoon.  They all did a fabulous job!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Lemon Gelato

My first Gelato!  Isn't it beautiful?  It tastes just as good as it looks, maybe even better.  My mom gave me some lemons from a friend's lemon tree in Florida ( I need a lemon tree).  I wanted to do something special with them and also wanted to make something for a take-home favor at our first Italian-themed Supper Club.

I used a Taste of Home recipe, as follows:

1 c. milk
1 c. sugar
5 egg yolks, lightly beaten
3 T grated lemon peel
3/4 c. fresh lemon juice
2 c. heavy cream

In a small heavy saucepan, heat milk to 175 degrees; stir in sugar until dissolved.  Whisk a small amount of hot mixture into egg yolks.  Return all to the pan, whisking constantly.  Add lemon peel.  Cook and stir over low heat until mixture reaches at least 160 degrees.

Remove from heat and strain.  Stir in lemon juice.  Cool quickly by placing pan in a bowl of ice water; stir for 2 minutes. Stir in cream.  Cover and refrigerate for several hours or overnight.

Process in ice cream maker.  Transfer to container and freeze for 2-4 hours before serving.  Makes about 1 1/2 quarts.

The lemon flavor is very pronounced.  It's so creamy and refreshing - I will be making this again very soon!

And My Critic says: It's GOOD! I think I'll have some right now.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy's Valentine's Day!

It's surprising to me there are people that haven't had the pleasure of eating a Whoopie Pie.  Some don't even know what it is - which caught me off guard today as I tried to explain to a couple guys at work and ended up saying, "It's two pieces of cake with icing in between."  OKAY!  I used the recipe from Brown Eyed Baker (love this blog!) which can be found here.  I decided to pipe them into hearts, because, well, it's Valentine's Day!

What treats did you get to eat or make this Valentine's Day?

Monday, February 6, 2012

Tuesdays with Dorie: White Loaves

I think this was my first crack at making a basic white sandwich-type bread.  Most of my other bread making had been reserved for crusty loaves of pot bread.  So I was eager to make this recipe.

I decided to use King Arthur Flour AP flour since it was more readily available on short notice.  I enjoyed reading and learning about the difference types of flours, and I'll most likely use KAF exclusively from now on.  Everything was going well - except that my KitchenAid mixer decided to struggle so I had to knead the dough by hand for awhile (probably not as long as I should have).  Then came time for the butter.  I threw it back in the mixer just in the hopes that it would have perked up a little.  The butter made it easier to mix, but it just didn't look right!  I thought for sure I messed up somewhere.

Here's the dough after the first rise

I made one plain loaf and one cinnamon swirl loaf.  They didn't rise/cook up evenly, but I didn't care one bit.  The house smelled wonderful and we waited patiently to cut into one.  The loaves were very tender while still warm, but once they cooled completely they hardened up a little.  Maybe I left them out to sit too long?  No worries though - I'm about to toast up a slice right now with a thin smear of Biscoff spread and a cup of tea!

My Critic Says:  Good basic bread, but not as fluffy as expected.

Looking forward to a great baking journey with all the TWD'ers!!  For the recipe, please click here!

Saturday, February 4, 2012

And the Critic says...

I live with a food critic - well, a wannabe food critic.  He's picky about what he eats and not afraid to offer up a little criticism now and then.  Which is probably why I cook/bake so much.  I'm always trying to get him to fall in love with whatever I make.  This has made My Critic very spoiled.  So much so that when we go out to eat, it usually leaves much to be desired.  But last night was different.

We decided to go to a premature celebratory dinner at the Borgata in AC and ended up at


We ate in the front part of the restaurant, the Tavern.  Which is a little more laid-back and not too pretentious.  The menu was small, but well represented.  We started off with the Chinois Salad with Spicy Cashews and Sweet and Spicy Chinese Mustard Dressing ($16).  More than enough for two people, the couple next to us immediately regretted getting two for themselves.  It was very fresh and crisp, with an almost-slaw-like texture.  The dressing was perfect-not too much, not too little.  And the flavors were outstanding.   Oh the bread!  I almost forgot the bread.  The bread basket was delivered and featured 3 different types - a pretzel-type roll, a sweet roll that reminded me of my fav King's Hawaiian, and the best - a focaccia-like bread covered in caramelized onions and bacon!  This was a nice treat after just eating at another upscale AC restaurant where the bread boy rationed out a dense cold roll-forget about asking for two!  Next we decided on the Margherita Pizza with Fresh Mozzarella, Basil and Tomato Sauce ($14), which is made in the wood fired oven.  I know you're probably thinking 'why a Margherita pizza with all those other choices?'  We like to establish a baseline-very scientific, I know.  But you can't imagine how many places can't get a Margherita pizza right.  So, if they do, we know it's safe to order, say, the Spicy Chicken Pizza with Roasted Garlic, Peppers, Onions and Cilantro next time :)  And if we hadn't ordered three beers, it would have been comparable (price-wise) to any other not-so-tasty casual chain restaurant that we are sometime forced to patronize for lack of better options.

So to wrap it up, My Critic says: Excellent service, outstanding food. We can't wait to go back!