Wednesday, June 18, 2008

I've Been Tagged or Someone's Actually Reading This!

Yay! Someone is actually reading my blog. I was tagged for a meme by Lovetoeat's Weblog. She is one of the awesome girls on the cooking board that I frequent.

1. Why did you start your blog? I decided to start my blog as a way of keeping track of the many recipes that I was collecting. Our camera is really old, so the pictures on here aren't the best, but they aren't the worst I've seen either. It also serves as a diary of sorts, but with recipes attached.

2. How did you come up with your blog name? It's a play on my name and cooking style.

3. Do your friends and family know about your blog, and what do they think? I haven't really gone "public" with my blog to other friends & family, but have shared it with the message boards I frequent. My husband knows about it since I am always taking pictures of our food.

4. How do you write posts? This is one thing that I've been bad about. After spending 9 hours at work in front of a computer, sometimes the last thing I want to do at home is go online. I also get behind in downloading photos. I tend to do a bunch of posts at once.

5. Have you ever had a troll or had to delete unkind comments? Nope.

6. Do you check your stats or care how many people read your blog? If you care, how do you increase traffic? I do check the stats, mostly to see if anyone is even reading this. I also find it interesting to see what Google searches lead to my blog.

Saturday BBQ Dinner

Last weekend, we decided to have a pre-Father's Day dinner with steaks on the grill. My husband did the grilling and I did the cooking. This was the day of cooking failures (see Strawberry Meringue Cake post)! I tried a new marinade from that was okay. It wasn't anything to write home about, but it was passable. The mini macaroni & cheese bites that I was so excited to try, didn't really come out right. The sauce was incredibly thick so I kept adding milk to thin it out and then the mac bites fell apart coming out of the pan. And the spinach "brownies" I had made in the past didn't seem the same. For what it's worth, the recipes are below.

Marinade for Steak I

1 cup vegetable oil (I used olive oil)
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/3 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons Dijon-style prepared mustard
1 onion, sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced

In a medium bowl, combine the oil, soy sauce, vinegar, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, ground black pepper, mustard, onion, and garlic. Mix together well, and use to marinate your favorite meat.

from Food & Wine
1/2 pound elbow macaroni
1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for brushing
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3/4 cup milk
4 ounces cheddar cheese, shredded (1 packed cup)
4 ounces deli-sliced American cheese, chopped
1 large egg yolk
1/4 teaspoon smoked Spanish paprika

Preheat the oven to 425°. In a large saucepan of boiling salted water, cook the macaroni until al dente, about 5 minutes. Drain, shaking off the excess water.

Brush four 12-cup, nonstick mini muffin tins with butter. Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons of the Parmigiano; tap out the excess.

In a large saucepan, melt the 1 1/2 tablespoons of butter. Whisk in the flour over moderate heat for 2 minutes. Whisk in the milk and cook, whisking, until boiling, about 5 minutes. Add the cheddar and American cheeses and whisk until melted. Off the heat, whisk in the egg yolk and paprika. Fold in the macaroni.

Spoon slightly rounded tablespoons of the macaroni into the prepared muffin cups, packing them gently. Sprinkle the remaining 2 tablespoons of Parmigiano on top.

Bake the mini macs in the upper and middle thirds of the oven for about 10 minutes, until golden and sizzling. Let cool for 5 min­utes. Using a small spoon, carefully loosen the mini macs, transfer to a platter and serve.

Strawberry Meringue Cake

So this was an interesting recipe...I made this cake to go with our cookout last weekend. I had high hopes for the recipe but it just didn't come out right. The cake part was very good - dense like a pound cake - and the strawberries + whipped cream combination was good. However, the meringue layer just didn't work. I don't know if it wasn't cooked enough or what, but the meringue was spongy and not crisp.

Strawberry Meringue Cake
from Joy of Baking

Cake Batter:
4 large egg yolks
1 cup (100 grams) sifted cake flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) (114 grams) unsalted butter

1/2 cup (100 grams) granulated white sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup (60 ml) milk

Meringue Layer:
4 large egg whites
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 cup (100 grams) granulated white sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 cup (240 ml) heavy whipping cream
2 tablespoons (28 grams) granulated white sugar
1 pound (454 grams) fresh strawberries, sliced (Add a little sugar if necessary)
Confectioners Sugar (powdered or icing) for dusting top of cake

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (177 degrees C) and place rack in center of oven. Grease and flour two - 8 x 1 1/2 inches (20 x 3.75 cm) round cake pans. Set aside.
Cake: Separate the eggs while they are still cold, placing the yolks in one bowl and the whites in another bowl. Cover the two bowls with plastic wrap and allow the eggs to come to room temperature before using (about 30 minutes).

In a mixing bowl sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

In bowl of your electric mixer, or with a hand mixer, beat the butter until soft (about 2 minutes). Add the sugar and beat until light and fluffy (about 3 minutes). Add the egg yolks, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and then beat in the vanilla extract.

With the mixer on low speed, alternately add the flour mixture and milk, in three additions, beginning and ending with the flour. Divide the batter evenly between the two cake pans, smoothing the tops with an offset spatula. Set aside while you make the meringue layer.

Meringue: In a clean bowl of your electric mixer, or with a hand mixer, beat the egg whites until foamy. Add the cream of tartar and continue beating until soft peaks form. Gradually beat in the sugar and continue to whip until stiff peaks form. Beat in the vanilla extract.
Divide the meringue between the two cake pans, gently smoothing the tops with an offset spatula. Bake for approximately 25 - 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. The meringue layers will have turned a light brown and will be crisp to the touch but soft inside. Place the pans on a wire rack to cool. When completely cooled, remove from pans.

Shortly before serving whip the cream with the sugar until soft peaks form. Slice the strawberries and, if necessary, add a little sugar to sweeten them. Place one of the cake layers, meringue side down, on a serving platter. Spread or pipe half of the whipping cream onto the cake and top with half the strawberries. Gently place the second cake layer, cake side down so the meringue layer is facing up, onto the first layer. Spread or pipe the rest of the whipping cream and then strawberries on top of the meringue. Dust with confectioners (powdered or icing) sugar. If not eating immediately, cover and place in the refrigerator until serving time. The assembled cake will hold in the refrigerator for a few hours.

Serves 8 - 10.