Thursday, March 31, 2011

Packing Peanuts A Thing Of The Past

I bought some bowls off of eBay and when I opened the box I was greeted with a surprise.  A box full of Swiss cheese triangles.  OK they are made out of recycled cardboard not cheese.  What a clever idea.  I wondered if this seller had to put together all these triangles?  I suppose one could just sit and watch a good movie and mindless fold these together.  I liked that they are recyclable it I don't want to keep them.

Only one drawback.... you can't really dig around in the box or these triangles will cut up your knuckles.  So, I slowly scooped and slid my hands around in the box.  Honestly, there could be more in the box and I wouldn't know as one can't swirl their hands around to find out.  With soft non-recyclable environment destroying packing peanuts one could dive in head first and be just fine.  I'll have to empty them out into another box to double check the contents of the box.  Why would I need to go to this trouble?  Shouldn't the box contain what I ordered?  Well, the seller sent me something I didn't buy, so who knows what else is in the box.  That's whole nother story.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Dutch Baby

My mom introduced me to the Dutch Baby when I was a teen. It's a German pancake. It is usually served sweet like American pancakes. It can be season with vanilla and cinnamon. It can be sprinkled with powdered sugar or a fruit topping. We would just drizzled with maple syrup.  One impressive characteristic of the Dutch Baby is how it looks when it's baked.  One bakes it in a metal pan in the oven.  When it comes out of the oven the batter has grown up the sides of the pan to probably 5 times the size it originated.  Like a Soufflé though it quickly shrinks down to less than half it's former state.  That is why mom always made sure we were seated around the table before the Dutch Baby came out of the oven.

The sweet Dutch Baby was never our favorite when we discovered the savory type. I found a recipe call a Meaty Dutch Baby back in the 1980's. I don't know where I got it and a search on the Internet provided no Meaty Dutch Baby recipes to my surprise.  It came from a magazine and I'm guessing it might have been Sunset.  As it was my favorite magazine at the time.

Like the original Dutch Baby it does puff up in the oven, but not nearly as high.  I have baked it in a glass pan and a metal pan and it does puff higher in a metal pan.  The puffing does really nothing to the flavor it's just very appealing to the eye.  I have made this more and transported it than eaten it at home.  It's a favorite wherever I take it.

Another characteristic of making a Dutch Baby is you can't... let me put this delicately... fart around once you get to the mixing of the batter.  Have your eggs, milk and flour already measured and ready to blend.  You mix up the batter in order stated, pull hot pan from oven, pour into hot pan, throw on cheese... don't take a lot of time here to sprinkle too neatly.... and return pan to oven.  The pan and filling being hot is what makes the pancake rise.  Too much dilly dallying or not mixing batter in proper order results in a flat pancake.  Now don't get all nervous and burn yourself trying to be fast.  Just remember to not take the time to pour batter in neat concentric circles or scrape every drop of batter from blender or try and sprinkle the cheese on evenly and consistently.  It doesn't matter.   Keeping it hot does.

Meaty Dutch Baby
Prepare filling (recipe below)

4T butter
1 cup cheddar cheese or 1/3 cup Parmesan
4 eggs
1 cup each milk and flour

In same frying pan, make sure there is at least 5T of fat, add butter to make up difference.  Place pan with filling in 425°F oven until butter melts and bubbles.  Quickly, in blender break eggs, whirl for a minute, with motor running add milk then add flour whirl 30 seconds.  Quickly pour into hot pan and sprinkle with cheese.
Bake about 20 minutes.

Sausage Filling - Crumble 1/2 pound jimmy Dean regular sausage into frying pan.  Stir over medium heat for about 2 to 3 minutes.  Add chopped green chiles (1 small can California green chiles), 1 small onion (chopped), 1 minced garlic clove, and 1/2 tsp each dry basil and thyme leave.  Brown slightly.

Return above for instructions.

My daughter likes it with Tapatio hot sauce.  Lots of Tapatio hot sauce.  Youch!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Return of the Giant Cookie

Thursday was yet another rainy day.  Probably the 14th one in a row and I'm not exaggerating.  I'm not going to complain as we need the snow in the mountains even if it means the valley gets water logged.  After school on Thursday as we fought the wind and the rain to get home my daughter says I really want some chocolate.  We were already home by then and I wasn't about to go back out in the storm.  I checked around in my pantry and I had all the makings for chocolate chip cookies.  My daughter asked if I could make a giant cookie.  I said yes.  Then I checked my pantry again and I had a bag of Special Dark Hershey Kisses.  I love making my giant cookies with chocolate chips that look to scale of a cookie that big.  Plus the chocolate would impress 3 teenagers with cabin fever.

I used 1 1/2 times my favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe, one bag of Special Dark Kisses unwrapped (instead of chocolate chips), one round piece of baking parchment (trimmed to round shape) and my round Pampered Chef baking stone.  Use baking parchment I think it's what keeps cookie dough from running off of stone as per my Pampered Chef consultant.  Smooth cookie dough out to within 1 inch of edge NO CLOSER.

Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookies

3/4 stick Crisco® Baking Sticks Butter Flavor All-Vegetable Shortening
1 1/4 cups firmly packed light brown sugar
2 tablespoons milk
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 large egg
1 3/4 cups All Purpose Flour
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup coarsely chopped pecans (optional)


1. HEAT oven to 375ºF.

2. COMBINE shortening, brown sugar, milk and vanilla in large bowl. Beat at medium speed of electric mixer until well blended. Beat in egg. Combine flour, salt and baking soda. Mix into shortening mixture until just blended. Stir in chocolate chips and nuts.

3. DROP by rounded measuring tablespoonfuls 3 inches apart onto ungreased baking sheet.

4. BAKE 8 to 10 minutes for chewy cookies, or 11 to 13 minutes for crisp cookies. Cool 2 minutes on baking sheet on a cooling rack. Remove cookies to rack to cool completely.

TIP* If nuts are omitted, add an additional 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips.