And Fran said “Let’s just have bread for dinner!”

NOT IN MY HOUSE!! I had some chicken cutlets, plum tomatoes, but no garlic bread 😦

Making a couple of loaves of baguettes doesn’t take very long, however, without a baguette pan the loaves tend to flatten. Instead I just made them in bread pans and cut them on a diagonal. Not perfect, but not bad.

The chicken parm was nothing special beyond delicious. a 14oz can of crushed tomatoes, one cup fresh, peeled, diced, plum tomatoes, about 1/4 cup EVO, one clove of garlic, cut into thin slices, 1 teaspoon of salt, one sprig of fresh basil.

Heat the oil and garlic together. When the garlic turns pale gold, add the tomatoes, salt, and basil and mix. Let it cook until it has reduced to the thickness you like. Put the chicken in some type of roasting vessel (I use my au gratin’s), cover with the marinara sauce, sliced mozzarella, torn basil leaves and slices of fresh tomato. Bake at 350 for about 30 min. I cannot abide under cooked chicken so usually cook for 35 – 40 min. For the last 5 min use the broiler to be sure everything is browning.

Also, the home made garlic bread (2 teaspoons mayonnaise and 1/8 cup of garlic powder spread over the bread and broiled until just browning, 3-5 min) is cooked at the same time as the last 5 min of the chick parm.

Even I cannot believe it was that good

Sage Butter Sauce on the left, Maple Cream on the right

We bought some Butternut Ravioli thinking a change might be in order. Now, what do you use for a sauce on butternut ravioli? It needs to offset the earthy taste of the squash, usually that means something buttery, or a spice like cinnamon. I found two possibilities, one is a slightly scalded sage butter the other is a maple cream sauce.

Imagine my surprise when they both worked! The sage butter is made in a skillet. Fine chop some fresh sage, add a couple of tablespoons of butter and mix until the sage is crisp but not browned. Don’t use too high a heat or the butter will burn. Add some salt and pepper to taste and in about 7-10 minutes its ready.

Sage Butter Sauce

The maple cream is made by adding one part heavy cream to two parts maple syrup and a little butter. I used 2 tablespoons maple syrup and one tablespoon heavy cream and one teaspoon butter. Bring it to a boil and turn the head down (or off, it boils easily) and let it cook for 5 minutes.

I think this would work great as an appetizer with both sauces there for dipping.

Time to ketchup with the backlog

I started this blog like a short story, “in medias res”. It is time to go back and clean house with some early attempts at baking. In no particular order here is where I have been:

Dr Lee's Med School Graduation Cake. School logos and Lee's name piped.

 You will notice the lack of talent in the piping area in all the photos.

Mindy and Don’s Pre-wedding cake

Erev Birthday 2011 (Note to self: Take the picture before you eat the cake)

Flower Cake, lots of drawing of stems etc for a non-artist

Heavenly Strawberry Cake

New Chocolate Fudge Frosting, Chocoholics Heaven


Sponge Cake with Chocolate Ganache and WhiteChocolate Drizzle

TBE Torah Project Cake, actualy the branches and tree trunk were piped, and not too bad

Valentines Day Cak, don't let the drizzle cool so much next time

Cake2, practice piping, practice, practice, practice

Berry Cake, I like berries. This had several kinds

Pre-Passover Cake

5771 HHD Cake, the cake was made with apples and honey, the figures on the top were an apple and a bee

Gator Cake, made for Cara's birthday at TBE. Big Gator fan

How Green is My Garden…

Anyone can stop by the market on the way home and for pennies (nickels, dimes, quarters and dollars) pick up veggies for dinner. Some people prefer to grow their own… veggies. This is a much more un-economical method of providing for your family. It requires work and luck and a bit of skill. Needless to say, (then why say it!) I started a garden this year. I planted 2 varieties of tomatoes, peppers, herbs, pole beans, cucumbers, carrots, scallions and two varieties of lettuce. I researched online about square foot, or intensive gardening and was able to fit this entire crop into a raised bed garden measuring 3 feet by 8 feet. I started many of the plants from seeds, but replaced several that did not take well with established plantlings.

Someone has been eating my pole beans!! Time to plant some natural pest repellents, marigolds, can you spell marigolds? Or maybe some crysanthomums, can you spell crysanthomums? (I can’t.) These flowers are supposed to keep most of the little blighters from my garden. We shall see… we shall see.

Hall of Famers don’t hit home runs every time…

Not every at bat will be a homer, some are base hits, sometimes you strike out.

Last night was an extra base hit. The flavors were good, the presentation adequate

but, for me, it lacked snap. The mahi-mahi recipe was good, not great. I won’t do it again and won’t post the recipe. The rice was very good (thanks to Keith B.) The dessert was a cake I saw online. Again the flavor was good but the presentation – no so much.

Rice: Cut corn from a fresh ear and saute in a little butter and EVO until tender. Boil about 3/4th’s cup of water with 3-4oz of tomato juice. Remove from heat, add rice, corn and a little cut cilantro. Let the rice soak up the liquid and fluff with a fork.

The chocolate rolls were excellent (tasted like tootsie roll) made from chocolate fondant and white gum paste. Full disclosure: usually I make my own fondant and gum paste, but I have not been able to make a good chocolate fondant. I bought this at Michael’s.

rolled together, cut into rectangles and rolled up loosely. The cake was too high for what it was. The layers should have been half as high, 1/2″ rather than 1″. the cake would have been lower resulting in smaller portions but easier to balance.

Cake: the cake is a white velvet made in a jelly roll pan.

  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 1 1/2 cups white sugar
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup milk
  • 3 egg whites
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  1. In a small bowl, sift 2 1/2 cups flour, baking powder, and salt together and set aside.
  2. Blend shortening and 1 1/2 cups sugar. Mix in the flour mixture. Add 3/4 cup milk; beat for 2 minutes. Add egg whites, 1 teaspoon vanilla and 1/4 cup milk. Beat well.
  3. Grease and flour 8 1/2 x 12″ Jelly Roll pan. Pour the batter into the pans.
  4. Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 30 to 35 minutes. Cool cake layers on a wire rack
The chocolate base for the cake is made by melting 2 squares of semi-sweet chocolate ( I use a double boiler) and adding 2 or 3 tablespoons of HOT heavy cream. Mix it well and when still hot and pliable spread a thin layer on waxed paper. The size should be about 1/3rd of the size of your cake pan.
Cut the cake into thirds so each will be about 8″ x 4″. Place the lower layer in the still warm chocolate. Frost the top of that layer with butter cream frosting. Add the second, and third layers with frosting in between.
I tried a number of ways to make the orange drizzle frosting. The easiest was to melt some apple jelly, add some orange essence and some orange food coloring. The best tasting was to mix 1/4 cup filtered orange juice (running through a coffee filter clarifies the OJ), adding 1 cup sugar and 1/2 packet of gelatin. I may want to cut back on the gelatin. bring it all to a boil then refrigerate until thick. Spread over the top letting it drizzle down the sides. Make a little royal icing (1 tsp meringue power, 1/2 cup powered sugar and 1 – 2 tablespoons warm water, depending on how thick you want the icing) and “glue” a chocolate roll on each piece of cake using the royal icing. Note: one of mine would not stick to the orange glaze so I pushed a toothpick through the icing into the cake.
Why is a nice easy chicken parmigiana, linguine and maybe a chocolate souffle sounding good to me? Or maybe wings at Bru’s room.

Beer Basics, my way

Beer contains only 4 ingredients, water, sugar (usually derived from the starch in some grain), yeast and hops (the flower of a climbing vine.) Brewing beer (ales in my case, but just calling all home brew beer is a little easier) is really quite simple. Extract the sugar from the grain in hot water then boil the sugar water.  Add different varieties of hops at different times during the boil. Some impart bitterness, some flavor and some aroma. Once the specified time is complete chill the wort (yes, it is called wort at this point) quickly.Yesterday (Oct 5) I used my new home designed and made wort chiller for the first time.

 Basically, it is a long coil of copper tubing connected at both ends to flexible tubing. One end is connected to a pump which is immersed in ice water the other end is put into the drain. The hot mixture from the boiler is put into the sink and the cold water is pumped through the tubing.

The cooling time went from 20+ minutes to Dilute the mixture to the specified amount (in my case about 5 gallons.) Once it is cool enough that it won’t harm the yeast you can “pitch the yeast”. (Add the yeast and aerate it well to mix some oxygen into the solution to aid inabout 10. These apparati are available online but use tap water for chilling. At 80 deg our tap water is not very efficient. The water going into the wort was 54 deg. Initially the exit water was 140 deg. That went down quickly at first the more slowly as the wort cooled and the temperature differential reduced.fermentation. Cap it with an airlock and wait. There is an initial violent primary or attentuative phase where the yeast really eats the sugar like crazy. Then a second or conditioning phase occurs where some of the remaining fermentables (sugar) are still eaten by the yeast and converted to alcohol. If you don’t do this there are esters and phenols left which adversely affect the flavor of your brew.

After 3-4 weeks add a little more sugar and bottle the batch.  After 2-3 weeks (or more) in the bottle the yeast will have converted the new sugar to alcohol and produced a by produce, namely carbon dioxide, which gives the brew its fizz.

Whew! That’s a lot but it’s not really that hard. Mix, boil, mix, cool, mix, wait, wait, wait, drink! It’s the waiting that is the killer.

It’s All About the Beer

It probably all started with beer. That’s not really true, it began with ale. Lagers must be fermented cool (45- 55deg F) are more difficult to brew here in Florida without some sort of cooling jacket. On the other hand, ales can be fermented at room temperature (75deg F) and not create some of the ester/phenol flavors created with fermenting lagers at our room temperatures

Garry P, Mike B and I started brewing at a brew house in Davie in October of 2006. When they shut down in 2008 we set up operations on my patio and list so many revisionists in the world, the history starts there.

We made quite a few batches of Home Brew since we started back on Day 1. (Did you know the day of creation for computers is Jan 1, 1900?)

Next I will give a short explanation of how to make brews that are better than any you can buy.