Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Bacon 'n Eggs

This is my signature sweet for the Holidays. I whipped up a batch or two for Thanksgiving, and will make plenty more for Christmas. It's so easy and so CUTE!

Bacon 'n Eggs

1 package white chocolate bark
yellow M&Ms (get the biggest bag you can and only sort out the yellow ones, save the others for munching or cookies)
pretzel sticks

Layout two pretzel sticks side-by-side (kind of off set them as that makes them more quirky and cute) in rows on waxed paper or a silpat mat. Chop up white chocolate bark and melt in microwave (use a good solid stoneware bowl as it will retain the heat longer and keep the chocolate pliable). Put a dollop of melted chocolate roughly in the middle; do only 6 or six at a time. You don't have to be perfect since eggs aren't perfect. Place a yellow M&M on top, hence this is the yolk. Let set and package in airtight container. Be careful not to break the pretzels.

I like to pack them into seasonal cellophane baggies tied with curly ribbon. I know I'm such a sap, but's the holidays!

Monday, November 20, 2006

Under Pressure

I've been on the Good Eats kick with Alton Brown, and he had a show where he made beef broth in a fraction of the time it would take to make the conventional way.

I've just followed the below recipe (substituted oxtail with beef back bones as there was not oxtail), cooked under pressure for 60 minutes (he calls for 50 minutes, but A-HA, he's not at nearly 6,000 feet above sea level either!) and I'm letting it cool down naturally. The broth will continue to cook and therefor making it more rich and savory. YUM-O!

I was very skeptical about pressure cooking. Growing up on a farm I had my share of meat-and-potato meals. Well, my parents had a pressure cooker which they would boil our potatoes in. That thing scared the bejeezus out of me! It rattled, it hissed, it was noisy, and I was always terrified when they released the steam and forced it open. Plus, I never realized why they used it (knowing now that pressure cooking cuts the time down to nearly a third of the normal cooking time).

After Alton gave me the strength and confidence to go out and purchase one of these devices, I was pleasantly surprised. Again, my broth has been pressure cooking for an hour, and I've turned off the heat. I barely heard the thing! I think I'm going to go and see what this quick release steam thing is all about now! I guess I'll sacrifice a bit more richer and savorier broth for the sake of workin' the new gadget!

AB's Beefy Broth

Vegetable oil
Salt and pepper
3 pounds combined beef shank and oxtail pieces
2 onions, quartered
2 ribs celery, halved
2 carrots, halved
3 cloves garlic
1 bunch parsley
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
2 quarts water

Place pressure cooker over high heat. Oil and salt the oxtail and shank pieces then sear in batches. Add remaining ingredients and cover with water, being careful not to fill above the cooker's maximum fill" line. (If your pressure cooker does not have a water line, fill the pot 2/3 full). Bring to a boil and skim off any foam that gathers at the surface. Cover and lock lid. Once pressure builds up inside the cooker, reduce the heat so that you barely hear hissing from the pot. Cook for 50 minutes.

Release pressure using your cookers release device (read that manual) or cool the cooker by running cold water over the lid for 5 minutes. Carefully opening the lid and strain squeezing the solids before feeding to the compost pile, or the dogs. Strain through a fine sieve or several layers of cheesecloth. Season and serve or use as a base for other soup recipes.

Super Salad

The other night I had made a great lasagna dinner (sadly I did not archive that meal) and I shook up my own dressing. Well, tonight while working on my latest adventure I threw together a quick salad for munching while I waited for my creation to finish. Here's the quick fixing for the dressing and it's even better as it sits in your fridge!

Balsamic and Olive Oil Dressing

1/8 cup water
1/4 cup Balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup good virgin olive oil
1 T Mrs. Dash Garlic and Herb seasoning (or any other generic like)

Pour all ingredients in a shaker and...well, SHAKE! You should let it sit for at least 15 minutes before serving and it gets better with age, but try to use it with a couple of weeks.

Now, take fresh mixed baby greens and cut up one Fuji apple (or other sweet,tart, and crunchy kind, tart Asian pears are good too) into chunks and throw on top of the greens. Drizzle ample dressing on top and toss. Add fresh shredded Parmesan cheese and enjoy! This is also great with feta cheese crumbles and sugared nuts.