Wednesday, September 29, 2010

How, Do you do it?!?

How. Do you do it?

If I had a dollar for every time someone asked me that question…well, I’d have some dollars.  Honestly sometimes I don’t know, life is so hectic as I am sure every one of you can relate, but this is a priority of mine.  So it gets done just like my glass of red wine gets poured, because it’s on the forefront of my mind.   

Think about it. In your life - what are the things that just matter? What is it that you get up out of the bed and think, today, ‘this’ is gonna get done.  I feel that way about this blog and even more so, about cooking.  
You get up early to go for a run? I get up early to plan a menu for the week.  You make time out of your schedule to have a happy hour, I have a happy hour while at the skillet.  (ok fine that was a poor analogy because when have I ever missed a happy hour?)  Forget that one.  You make time out of your week to read a book, or do the laundry, I make time to plan and cook meals that I am excited about eating.  It’s all about what’s important for you.  If making a bang out dinner only 2 nights a week is what you shoot for, that is totally fine!  If you want to plan a menu for every night of the week, amazing!  I take it week by week.  Most weeks it depends on my work schedule, and I find that if I spend some solid time on the weekend planning menus and grocery lists, my weeks are a lot easier, because I don’t stare in the pantry blindly for thirty minutes when I get home.  I get in there, get er done, and get eatin’.    

So I guess, my long winded answer to that question - “How do I do it?” - is really just that I care and I want to.  I WANT to look through cookbooks, I WANT to plan menus for the week, I WANT create things that make other people happy and feel at home.  

If spending a lot of time thinking about what you are going to feed your friends and family isn’t you’re idea of time well spent, then that is ok.  That’s what I’m here for.  There are ways to make amazing meals in no time, with little planning involved.  Take last night for instance.  I have been cooking and planning pretty late every night this week, which I didn’t mind, but needless to say, it left me feeling like I didn’t have time to spend 3 hours cooking dinner when I needed to prep for blog entries, Friday night’s dinner party, and clean our messy apartment.  Sound familiar? You all have a million things going on.  You have kids, you have work, you have demanding social schedules, you study for school, you spend quality time with your family.  The point is, I took a look at this week, and I knew I would need some quick, no time to fuss dinners.  Sometimes that means ordering pizza. Sometimes it doesn’t.  

I just want you to know, that you don’t have to stress about dinner.  In just 15 minutes of prep, I made one of the better dinners I have had in 2 weeks.  Literally, it tasted like I had fussed over it for 6 hours straight, and do you know what I did? I put it in the slow cooker while I was at work, and when I got home, I was greeted with a warm wafty hug from Mr. Pot Roast.   15 minutes, sometimes, is all you need.

Picture it, it’s challenge week 2 and you not only have social plans EVERY NIGHT this week, but you have a birthday cake to make, menus for a dinner party to create and design, blog entries to write, pictures to take, and DUH how could we forget, just normal dinner to make every night.  Your dear friend Max is coming over for dinner, so you really want it to be a nice dinner, but damn it if you aren’t busy!  Cue the pot roast.  It literally wraps its lovely arms around you as if it were your grandpa.  And you only spent 15 minutes on it. 

The best Pot Roast you ever ate.
1 3to 4 pound pot roast (chuck)
1 pack of lipton’s dry onion soup mix
¼ cup worcestershire sauce
1 cup of beef broth
2 cups of carrots (chopped or baby, whatever)
2 onions chopped
Salt and pepper

Salt and pepper your meat very well. Put the soup mix, broth and worcestershire sauce in the crock pot and mix well.  Add the onions, carrots and meat, cook on low for minimum of 8 hours up to 12.  

(obviously, it's served over garlic mashed potatoes, so fine, judge me and add a few more minutes...)

When you get home, put a fork in that meat and swoon when it just behaves like a pillow, and ever so gently caves and separates underneath it.  It’s like a scared moment. Just picture “I hope you dance” playing in the background, that’s how sacred. (ok even I just laughed out loud at that.)

And you spent 10 minutes.  So when you know you just don’t have time, or when you just don’t care, Pot Roast kids, Pot Roast.  It will remind you why you love to cook.  It certainly reminds me.

And for eff’s sake vote for Amuse Bouche for Project Food Blog here. You are so late but Mom forgives you.


Tuesday, September 28, 2010

BAHAHA Baklava

You people. You people are TOO FRICKIN funny!  I may start a side blog solely dedicated to the phrases you type in to find my blog.  It should be called, 

“what the flip?”
“You said wha????”

Seriously, I know I am an acquired taste so there have got to be some funnies out there who find me, but if you had asked me 3 months ago what I would find to be the most entertaining part of my blog, my answer wouldn’t have been “the random weird ass shit people google which then leads them to my blog.”

Dominick’s just for u.  That is the newest and greatest search phrase that led people to Amuse Bouche.  You all are amazeballs.  A tip of the hat to you, sir or madam.  I hope you find a Dominick just for yourself.. he ain’t here, I can tell you that much.  BUT since you stopped by, read about some pumpkin pie! BHAHAHAHA

Some of you may have noticed in my 2nd round post for Project Food Blog I posted a picture of Baklava but I didn’t share the recipe. (WHICH YOU CAN VOTE FOR ME RIGHT HERESKIES! Shank you!)  Whelp that’s because they were limiting my words. (I HATE that by the way! The only posts I have UNDER 1000 words are the project food blog posts. UGH! Stifling my rants!)

So allow me to teach you about Bahaha Baklava. (yes. I did.) It’s pretty easy to make guys, I gotta be honest!  A lot of recipes call for you to make your own syrup, which I did, but I decided to use honey instead of it because honey smells better and I am judgemental.  I was judging my syrup the entire time it was cooking.  Looking at it and saying “There is no way you are ever going to be good enough.  Your coloring is all wrong, and you smell bad.”  My poor children. One day they are obviously going to hate me.  Anyway, seriously guys this takes no time to make and it is a piece of cake. Or baklava.

1 (16 ounce) package phyllo dough
6.5 ounces of chopped pistachios
6.5 ounces of chopped pecans
6.5 ounces of chopped almonds (you can use walnuts or hazelnuts or any other flippin nut you want…)
1 cup butter
2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons of sugar
1/2 cup honey

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter the bottoms and sides of a 9x13 inch pan.
Chop nuts and toss with cinnamon and sugar. Set aside.
Unroll phyllo dough. Cut whole stack in half to fit pan. Cover phyllo with a dampened cloth to keep from drying out as you work. 

Place one sheet of dough in pan, butter thoroughly. Repeat until you have 10 sheets layered. Sprinkle half the nut mixture on top. Top with 5 sheets of dough, butter, nuts, layering as you go. Put the rest of the nut mixture on and firmly press down. Then finish by layering the rest of the sheets for the top.  Use all of the butter.  Just do it.

Using a sharp knife cut into diamond or square shapes all the way to the bottom of the pan. You may cut into 4 long rows the make diagonal cuts. Bake for about 50 minutes until baklava is golden and crisp.

Top that son with Honey.

And that, is some bahahabaklava.

Any suggestions on what I should offer the phantom funny searchers to come forward and tell us who they are? A 4 course dinner didn’t work… Should I offer them my first born? Too much?

Guys, I am so excited for our dinner party that we are having this coming Friday for round 3 of project food blog (yes its that plan ahead think positive thing again) but I want to keep as much of it as a secret as I can.  Let’s just say the invitations have been sent, and the menu is planned, and it’s going to be, by far, the best meal I have ever made in my lifetime.



Monday, September 27, 2010

No megafossilizedbycarbonatesaltymcshit here.

Well, as if you don’t already know it, I am going to remind you that voting is open for project food blog round 2 and you can vote for me by going here and clicking that little heart and making it red. Do it, and you’ll in turn be making my own little heart red right here in my chest!

Yesterday, Dad and I took a grand adventure to the pumpkin patch because a dear reader requested a post on pumpkin pie.  You’ll see the typical interaction below:

Hey Whitney,

I've been stalking your blog for awhile (finally "following" you today) and I'm super impressed with your cooking ability and your great conversational tone of writing. (Ashank you!)  I have a request of you since you are the only person I know who can actually cook. Could you do a pumpkin pie recipe? My fiance's (MAZEL TOV!) birthday is October 3 and pumpkin pie is his favorite. I've never made a pie before, but since it's our first celebration since moving in together I want to do something special. Or if you at least know a good pumpkin pie recipe to point me to, that would be great too.

Thanks so much!


And here we are, posting about pumpkin pie.  Ask and you shall receive my little darlings!  (Until you are my child and are 6 years old and desperately want a Red Ryder BB Gun. Then the answer is no.)  So, Liz, not only do I have a good recipe for pumpkin pie, I’ll argue that it’s an awesome one.  Do you know why? CAUSE ITS MARTHA’S. Martha Martha Martha!  That bia is always making the best everything, and that is why I listen to her.  When has Martha ever let you down?  When has she ever done something that wasn’t better than what you’ve done? Never. She’s Martha.

First, I would like you all to see how children hidden in adult bodies behave at pumpkin patches.
Yes. I did.
He's Melting.
Brian's new Shrew.
Glamour Shots.
Mom and Dad at the wee-be-little's station.
Gourdgeous (BHAHAH)

Now, I would like to tell you about making pumpkin pie from the ground up. (Literally.)  I know there are a lot of people who don’t care about taking short cuts and readily do when they need to.  I’m not judging you, I’m just not doing it here.  When I eat pumpkin pie, it better be effin’ worth it.  It better be worth every bite of that brown sugar, heavy cream and 2 and ¼ sticks of butter.  And if Dominick’s finer foodery made it, it ain’t worth it.  I also know that by making things like this from the ground up, I control what goes in it.  (Because I run this shit, and I don’t need megafossilizedbycarbonatesaltymcshit in my pie.) I am pretty sure you don’t either.
So, set aside 4 hours of your day, and make some pumpkin pies.  Make 2 or 3, and freeze them, so the next time you want pumpkin pie, you don’t have to work as hard for it, and it will FEEL like it came from Dominick’s but taste like it came from Great Grandma Sophia.  Booya.
Here’s how I do this. This is what I like to call my Amish order. Because Idol hands are the devils work or something… 
I clean and roast the pumpkins
Then I make the pate brisee (crust, son)
Then I fridge it the pate brisee
Then process the pumpkins
 Then I roll out the dough and bake it off
While it’s baking off I make the filling
Then I fill that son,
And I bake a bitch.

I feel it’s important that you have an order, so that you don’t lose even more of your Sunday Funday doing this.  I would block out 4 hours to be safe.  You don’t want to make that 5 do you? Then use the order. 

Clean and Roast the pumpkins.  When cooking with pumpkin in general, you want to use sugar pumpkin (especially for pumpkin pie).  Try to pick a nice 3-4 pound pumpkin.  To make 3 pumpkin pies you’ll need 3 solid cups of pureed pumpkin, so I would reserve 2 to be safe.  Cut the pumpkin in half and clean out the seeds and stringy gross stuff. (Technically it’s the membrane but I hate that word.) Place the pumpkin cut side down (to protect the flesh from burning) on a cookie sheet and roast at 350 for anywhere from 1 to 2 hours.  1 hour for smaller pumpkins, 1 ½ to 2 for larger ones.  They should feel soft to the squeeze when they are ready.  The flesh (eww.) will pull away from the skin of the pumpkin easily with a spoon.  Discard the skin and you are ready to puree the flesh once it’s reached this point.  (Although I would let it cool for a hot minute to avoid processing disasters.)

Before its been roasted
 Post roast and pureed.

For the Pate Brisee (Crust.)
I use Martha’s recipe because, as previously mentioned, she’s done this a time or babillion.  Keep this recipe in your folder, it’s good for LOTS of things, like pie crusts, tops of pot pies, etc etc etc. Be liberal with the butter, remember that if there aren’t butter bits in your pie crust, then there will be no flake to the crust.
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
2 sticks cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon ice water

Pulse flour, salt, and sugar in a food processor until combined. Add butter, and pulse until mixture resembles coarse crumbs with some larger pieces remaining, about 5 seconds.
Drizzle water evenly over mixture. Pulse until mixture just begins to hold together, about 10 seconds. (Dough should not be wet or sticky.) Press dough into 1 large disk (for mini pies) or 2 small disks (for large pie), and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour or overnight.

Pumpkin Pie
1 sugar pumpkin (about 4 pounds), halved, or 3 cups solid-pack canned pumpkin (not pumpkin-pie filling)
1 1/2 recipes Pate Brisee, divide dough into 3 disks
All-purpose flour, for dusting
6 large eggs
1 tablespoon heavy cream
1 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons packed light-brown sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3 cups evaporated milk

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. 
Reserve 1 disk of dough for making leaf decorations. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out remaining disks into 14-inch rounds. Fit rounds into two 10-inch pie plates; trim edges, leaving 1/2-inch overhangs. Fold edges under, and press to seal. Freeze until firm, about 15 minutes. 
Cut 2 large circles of parchment; fit into pie shells, extending above edges. Fill with pie weights or dried beans. (no worries if you don’t keep either of these in your home, just fork the bottom of your pie crust really well so that it doesn’t bubble up on you.
Bake pie shells 15 minutes. Remove weights and parchment; bake until golden brown, 15 to 20 minutes more. Cool completely on wire racks. 

Measure out 3 cups of your already cooked and processed pumpkin, and transfer pumpkin to a large bowl (reserve any remaining for another use; if using canned pumpkin, add that to the bowl instead).
Add brown sugar, cornstarch, salt, cinnamon, ginger, vanilla, nutmeg, remaining 6 eggs, and evaporated milk; whisk until combined. 

Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees. Place pie shells on rimmed baking sheets. Divide pumpkin mixture evenly between shells. Bake until all but centers are set, 35 to 40 minutes. Let pies cool completely on wire racks. Cut into wedges, and serve with whipped cream.

**Note** it took my pies more than 40 minutes… If you open the oven and give the rack a little shake, the pies should be firm and only jiggle a TINY bit.  If it looks like an ocean in there, shut the door!

If it wasn’t 11 pm by the time these pies came out of the oven, I would have made a big deal about them and served them with my cinnamon whipped cream, but I took one bite and was like “That’ll do donkey” and crashed.

So, if you don’t have 4 hours to do this, but still want to make your own pumpkin pie, you can do the following, ranging in order of most involved to least involved.

Make your own crust, but use canned pumpkin to save time.
Roast and puree your own pumpkin, but use a premade pie shell.
Buy a premade pie shell and use canned pumpkin.
Use a premade shell and preseasoned, canned pumpkin pie filling.
Just go to Dominick’s finer foodery and buy a damn pumpkin pie already, you lazy cow!
I kid!…a little.

So Liz, I hope this helps you, and I hope that your fifi’s first birthday while cohabitating is superb!  Send us pictures!


Kids, Voting for round 2 of project food blog is open, and you can vote for Amuse Bouche here!

The challenge was to make an ethnic classic, and let me just tell you that is someone else also picks Kurdistan, we are going to have words!

Expect a nice lengthy post on walks in the pumpkin patch and a homemade pumpkin pie later.



Friday, September 24, 2010

Heck Yes to Kurdistan!

First and foremost,  I believe I owe you each a big fat french kiss for voting me through to the second round of Project Food Blog!  I flove you!  

Secondly. It’s time you heard about my love affair with Kurdistan. 

I am going to go ahead and guess that 95% of the people reading this don’t know that I spent the majority of my senior year of college thinking about Kurdistan. (well… the part of senior year where I wasn’t expanding my palate to all types of fermented grapes…) The truth is, I (with the help of the rest of team Kurd) wrote a 75 page dissertation on the United States foreign policy with Turkey and how it should be changed.  Kurdistan is like the red headed step child of Turkey and therefore I naturally took a liking to her.  I’ll tell ya why. A-Here we go!

Reasons why I, Whitney Amuse Bouche Moss, love Kurdistan:

Kurdistan is to Turkey, as Eastern Kentuckians are to Kentucky. (I am from Kentucky, so I feel like it’s okay to say it…)
Here the red headed stepchild syndrome comes into play, only in Kentucky it’s more like barefoot toothless relatives syndrome.  Turkey actually throughout the 30’s and 40’s referred to Kurds as “Mountain Turks” and to that I say BRAVO.  We should go ahead and give Turkey credit for inspiring the movie ‘Mean Girls’.

In 2003 when American Troops entered Iraq, the Kurdish people welcomed them with dancing in the streets. 
Are you kidding me? Do you know what I would do if someone welcomed me by dancing in the streets?  Well obviously I would dance back!  Way to rage, Kurds. way. to. rage!

Finally, Kurdish traditional dishes are based off 2 of the greatest things ever.  MEAT AND CARBS PEOPLE. Meat. And. Carbs.
                And sometimes it’s fried. So obviously, I’m in.

The dishes featured in this post are traditional Kurdish recipes that are found in Kurdistan’s shared cultures: Turkey, Iraq, Syria and Iran.  These kibbeh or kubba are also found frequently in older Jewish families, and I’d just like to call that a BONUS! (As previously mentioned in many posts, Dad is Jewish.)  Kurdish tradition most frequently fries these kubba and you’ll see an ingredient which we aren’t terribly familiar with here. Baharat.  It’s a Turkish spice that contains black pepper, allspice, coriander, cinnamon, cloves, cumin, cardamom, and nutmeg.  I actually couldn’t find Baharat, but never fear, with a little research and some common pantry spices we were Baharating all over the kitchen!  Without further ado, I’d like to welcome you to our Kurd-fest 2010. Buckle up and get your fry daddy out. 

Fried Kubba from the Complete Guide to Traditional Jewish Cooking
(These are supposed to be shaped like a torpedo. Have I mentioned Kurdish people are awesome? Torpedo food? I mean way to market to an immature child like myself!)

Kubba exterior
1 cup fine grain bulgur
1 cup fresh lean lamb minced
1 onion, minced
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon Baharat
2 to 3 tablespoons cold water
2 teaspoons semolina flour

Kubba Filling
1 onion
1 ½ cup ground lamb
½ cup pistachios
½ teaspoon salt
Pinch of black pepper
¼ teaspoon baharat
Pomegranate seeds
Olive oil
Beef stock

To make the shell, soak bulgur in water for about half an hour. Drain excess water by squeezing it out with your hands. Puree the onions, meat and spices in a food processor until completely smooth. Add the bulgur and process until well mixed. Remove and knead until smooth.  If the dough seems too course you can add a few tablespoons of flour or egg. (I sure did!)  Cover with plastic wrap and put in the refrigerator. The dough should be cold, smooth and a sticky.

For the filling, saute the onion in olive oil until golden. Add the lamb and brown breaking up the meat. Add about ½ cup of beef stock and cook, uncovered for about 20 minutes or until all the liquid has evaporated. Add the nuts, baharat, and pomegranate seeds and cook for another minute. Cool completely.

To put it together, take about a walnut size piece of dough and using your thumb, make a hole to put filling in. These need to be thin, otherwise it will be too thick since it expands while cooking.  It is very helpful to have a bowl of water near you to help shape the shells if they become sticky.  Wet hands are key.   (Bubby’s all across the middle east have perfected this art of stuffing a Kubba.  What the flip! I have to get my hands on a bubby.)

Kubbat Shorba from the Essential Mediterranean Cookbook, section Turkey.
(These are more circular dumpling shaped kubba.)

8 cups chicken stock
4 large tomatoes pureed
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 onion, chopped
1-2 celery sticks, roughly chopped
1 lemon
½ teaspoon baharat
6 tbsp allspice
3 tbsp cinnamon
3 tbsp coriander
2 tbsp cumin
1 tbsp nutmeg
1 tbsp cloves
½ tbsp cardamom

Saute onion until translucent. Add tomato paste and cook for 2 minutes, just long enough to release the flavor.  Add the tomatoes and chicken stock and cook for about 40 minutes.

Meat filling
1/3 teaspoon baharat spice
1 cup minced lamb
½ minced medium onion
¼ cup finely chopped celery leaves

Combine all the ingredients for the filling. Mix well.

Kibbeh shell
2 cups semolina flour
3/4 cup water
1 teaspoon salt
Combine all ingredients until a dough is formed. This is quick, probably 30 seconds in the kitchenaid.

Take a piece of dough the size of a half dollar, shape the dough into a ball and with your thumb make a hole for the stuffing. Work the dough around the meat and secure with wet fingers.  The sides of the shell should be thin, as the dough will expand in the soup. A bowl of water is useful to dip your hands in to keep the dough from sticking. When the soup is boiling add the kibbeh. Cook for about 20 minutes or until they begin to float.  Do not put these in until you are 20 minutes out from dinner time, they will fall apart on you if cooked too long. 

I am not going to lie to you, this kubba business takes a lot of work.  Back in the day they had entire villages making kubba because it took so long from start to finish.  Obviously, for you to learn a little bit about Kurdistan, it was well worth the troubles.   

Thanks again for making my life and voting Amuse Bouche through to round 2 of Project Food Blog.  Voting opens Monday, September 27th. Don't worry, I'll remind you. A-shank-ayou-berry-much! I am sending a big ole piece of baklava your way!  Abig Kiss!