Thanksgiving with all the Trimmings

Thanksgiving is approaching and it's time to gather recipes for your dinner.  I've created a Brandy & Cranberry dressing using Jones Dairy Farm All Natural Pork Roll.  I love making Thanksgiving dinner.  There has been a few disasters over the years, but they've made great memories.  What are your favorite memories?

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Butter, Let's Make It!

Living here in the Dairy State, we have all kinds of dairy events.  June is dairy month, and events are happening all over.  Cows on the Concourse brings cows to the Capital square in Madison.  Each county has a dairy breakfast where a farm is featured and breakfast is served to hundreds of visitors.  Today I'm making butter.  Make from the best organic heavy cream. It's easy and so delicious!

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beef Wellington, check.   Blue cheese Souffle, check.  Graham crackers, check.   These are all things I've made in the last year that I've always wanted to try.  Call it a culinary bucket list of sorts.  What's on your list?   Maybe it's simply roasting a chicken.  No one will make fun of you.   Give it a try.   What's the worst thing that can happen?  Frozen pizza?


I can't believe that this is the first time I've ever made popovers.  In the past I've tried to make the Dutch/German puffy pancakes without much success.  It seemed like a popover was in the same mystery family, so I've always found another option.  Today was the day.  Thanks to Baking with Julia and the Dorie Greenspan Tuesdays with Dorie group, Popovers made it on the calendar.

Much to my surprise, they were easy!  A quick brrrrr in the blender, 45 minutes in the oven and ta-da!  Tasty, dreamy popovers.  And without gooey centers, I might add.

The ingredients are super simple.  Flour, eggs, milk, salt and a butter.  The usual suspects.


 When all the ingredients are at room temperature, they get a quick brrrrr in the blender.  I've always wanted to include an overhead blender shot, so here it is!

Blender with popover batter
Blender with popover batter

I don't own a popover pan, so I opted for the muffin cups with 1/4 cup batter in each cup.  I very skeptically put the pans in the oven and walked away.  Then walked back and turned the oven light on.  This was too good to miss.   After a few minutes the popovers started to pop, and I knew I was in business.  Twenty-five minutes later, I reduced the oven temperature and waited for the finished beauties.   They were crisp, light, and best of all... not gooey in the middle.   I split one open, spread a little more butter and drizzled it with honey.  Why was this the first time I'd made these?    I hope you'll go to Paula's blog, Vintage Kitchen Notes, or Amy's blog, Bake with Amy to find the recipe and give popovers a try.


Now on to the next new-to-me recipe...  I think it might be pretzels using real lye!  Stay tuned.

French Fridays with Dorie - Sardine Rillettes- Not scary, really!

This week's French Fridays with Dorie recipe is Sardine Rillette.  A wonderful quick, easy little appetizer spread. I personally like sardines. Growing up, my  mom doesn't like steak. If our family was going to have steak she opened a can of sardines, spread some butter on bread, and carefully laid the sardines side by side on top of the butter.   We could join her, or eat steak.   I always choose the sardines.  There was something about the whole ceremony that appealed to me.   When you open a can with a key, and carefully roll back the metal top, it has to be good!    I know not everyone shares my love.   This recipe is really worth trying to acquaint yourself with sardines.

The recipe calls for 2 cans of sardines, and other ingredients that you probably have on hand.  A little cream cheese, shallot, some herbs, and juice of a lemon.   Guests are coming?  You can have this ready in less than ten minutes.   I used chives.  They're growing outside our kitchen door, and I try to use them whenever I can.

I was a Trader Joe's and found two kinds of sardines.  Some in oil, and some in water.  I bought a can of each to see what they were like.  Sardines are much bigger now than I remember.  I remember little guys about the size of your pinkie or slightly bigger.   They guys are big (well, little but big) and packed in like sardines.  Sorry, had to work that in somewhere!   In one can, the sardines still had spines, so I pulled those out.   I know they would have crushed, but just couldn't leave it in.  Here are the two cans side by side.

Some chopping and snipping and the ingredients were ready to combine.

The sardines easily combined with a fork.  The final preparation is a lot like a simple tuna salad.  It would be really nice piped into the little puff, or a cherry tomato.    Hope you'll give it a try!

Next Tuesday is a lovely lemon cake by Julia.  Love lemons.  Talk to you soon!


Chocolate Darlings - Cocoa Sables from FFWD

This week's French Friday's with Dorie recipe is Cocoa Sables.   Sweet, crisp, chocolatey little darling French cookies.  The should be an accent over the "e".  I've been trying to figure out how to create that character without much success.  From here on, please pretend it's there. Sables were the very first recipe we made in pastry school.  For those of you sick and tired of pastry school stories, please skip ahead.  This is a good one though.   Our class went to the very first demonstration where we carefully watched the chef make a variety of sable, or butter cookies.  He stacked butter cookie dough  on chocolate dough and made beautiful stripes, swirls and lunettes (eyeglasses.)  One sable he called "dee -a -monde".  The translator repeated the word Diamond.   The name reflects the way that the tube of dough is brushed with egg and rolled in coarse sugar to make it look like it's rolled in diamonds.   There were a few moments when I can think back and know they had me.  This was one of those moments.

I used a block of bittersweet chocolate and chopped/grated it very fine.  It added a lot to the cookie, and I would highly recommend it.

Back to school.  When we got into the kitchen, we were introduced to weighing ingredients for the first time.   The recipe called for 5 grams of salt.   If we had thought about it, how much salt can there be in a cookie recipe?  Well, we set off to the salt bin carrying mixing bowls that could have held 10 pounds of bread dough!  We can back with what equaled about a teaspoon!   We can laugh now.  At the time, all business.

Dorie's recipe uses a creamage method, using room temperature butter and gently mixing in all the dry ingredients.  I really liked adding the chopped chocolate for a little extra boost of chocolate taste.  I don't have a lot of how-to pictures this week.   Here's the dough sliced and ready for the oven.

The dough is rolled into logs and chilled.   During the chilling time, I pulled them out a few times to reroll and reshape the logs.  As the soft dough chills, it can get a flat bottom.  Rerolling, helps make the roll even and not lopsided.  The dough sliced easily.  A few of the disks had to be schmoosed back together.    The smell of the cookies baking a amazing!  Here's a tip.  When you can smell chocolate in the room, you can be sure that your dessert is almost done.  I always wondered how the chefs knew that things were finished before the timer ever went off.

The Sable are so good.   This is a great dough to have in the freezer to quickly slice and bake for an impromto dessert, or to satisfy a chocolate craving!  No need to defrost, just slice and bake.

Have a great weekend, next week is Crab and Grapefruit Salad- curious?

Irish Soda Bread - Baking with Julia

Happy Belated St. Patrick's Day!  I'm not Irish, and don't really have any Irish traditions so this was a nice way to start one. The recipe has only four ingredients.   With so few, they have to be good, and they have to be treated and executed well.  Don't overmix, bake enough, don't over bake.  And most of all, don't dilly-dally around once the buttermilk is combined with the dry ingredients.   Baking Soda, the star of Soda bread, needs two actions to start the CO2 flowing.   Liquid and Acid.   The buttermilk provides both.  Once it's added, the magic begins.   The key is to mix quickly and completely and get the bread into the oven so it can start baking and rising even more.   My dough took off right away.  You can see it start to spring just after I made the slashes on the top.

The bread baked evenly and had a nice hollow thump when tapped.   We tryed to wait overnight to have it for breakfast, but we couldn't wait.   After about 15 minutes of cooling, I cut off two slices for tastes.   It was really tasty.    I added golden raisins, which added a gentle taste and texture.    If you'd like to try the recipe, Carla and Cathleen , are the Tuesday's with Dorie/Baking with Julia hosts and will have the recipe on their blogs.

Here's the finished Irish Soda Bread, a new tradition!