Saturday, November 23, 2013

Book #5: The Ultimate Slow Cooker Book: Pulled Pork

This is Better Homes and Gardens' version of a slow cooker book.  This time, I tried a Pulled Pork recipe.  It was an interesting idea.  There is a master recipe which cooks the pork with chili sauce and some seasonings.  Once you've made that, there are six other recipes which you can do to mix it up.  For instance, mole pork and green olive quesadillas, shredded pork salad, spicy pulled pork, etc.  It's not clear if the original recipe is meant to be eaten as is or ONLY as a base for the other recipes.  Rather than risk it, since I was preparing for a group, I did one of the add on recipes (apricot pulled pork hoagies to be specific).  I like the idea, for those that actually prepare ahead, and cook for a whole week, they can do one main recipe and then eat it in different ways throughout the week.

The net of the pulled pork was that I was impatient.  After being in the slow cooker for 10 hours (it asked for 10-11 on low), the pork was still not easily pulled.  Since I was counting on it being ready, and I was only able to pull about a third of it, I ended up cutting the rest.  The taste was still great.  Some debate over whether it was too sweet or just right, but I enjoyed the flavors.  I love a good pulled pork and thought it was a good starting point.  I ended up with a ton of liquid left in the slow cooker--I probably should have kept more of it with the meat rather than dump it out.

A fun find--I found a coupon for a free year of Better Homes and Gardens at the back of the book.  Hmm, it expired in 2012, I wonder if I can still swing it.  However, with my love hate relationship with magazines, maybe it's a sign I shouldn't even try!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Book #4: Wild About Muffins by Andrea Clubb

Wild About Muffins by Andrea Clubb

This is one of my go-to muffin books.  After all, when I'm thinking of muffins, there are a ton of cookbooks with muffins in them, but this one has so many variations--even savory, why look anywhere else??  I think this was a bit before the (current) health craze (from 1985), as you may see with excessive amounts of oil or butter.  It does however include many whole wheat and other flour recipes.

Today I made "Blueberry Bran Wheat Germ" muffins.  I was figuring out what to do with my extra bran flakes.  I actually used the cereal and removed the raisins (what is scary than biting into something thinking it's a blueberry and it is actually a raisin...).  I wasn't sure if it was ok to use the flakes, so I tried to crunch them up a bit.  I found as I was mixing ingredients some big brown spots.  I thought I had missed some raisins, but instead, they were clumps of brown sugar.  Note to self: always smush that up first!  What a pain to try to break them up later.

I experimented with a new ingredient today...whey!  It was a byproduct of making ricotta...which, no, I don't do regularly.  I'm taking this food science class online (a MOOC--massively open online course) which Harvard/MIT is nice enough to offer FREE.  I finally did the second lab and made ricotta.  Not too difficult!  (But it sure is easier to buy it...)  Anyways, there were 2 cups of leftover whey afterwards, and I had to search to figure out what to do with it.  I ended up substituting it for the buttermilk in the recipe.  

I also substituted olive oil for the oil.  I probably should have gone with coconut oil instead, the olive oil flavored it a little bit.

Now the recipe says 12-18 muffins.  I don't know how it could ever be 12 unless you have super giant muffin tins as I filled mine to the brim and it was still 19.  Granted the sili-cups were smaller.

Now the final product turned out pretty...

Except when I tried to remove them from the tin...too many blueberries maybe?  This is the crumbled mess it made.  Butter made everything better though.

I went searching for this cookbook to see if it was still for sale.  Then I found this book, with the author's name spelled wrong!  What a letdown to finally publish a book and then to have them spell your name wrong.  I don't know how that could get it out, so maybe it's only a draft.

Since this cookbook is only available from resellers, here's the recipe.

Blueberry Bran Wheat Germ

Makes 12 Large or 16 Medium
Preheat oven to 400 degrees (200 C) and prepare pan.

In large bowl add and combine well:
3 eggs
1 cup (190 g) brown sugar
1/2 cup (125 mL) oil
2 cups (425 mL) buttermilk
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup (85 g) raw wheat germ
1 cup (60 g) bran

In smaller bowl combine well:
2 cups (280 g) all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cups (250 g) whole fresh or frozen blueberries

Combine wet and dry mixtures and fold together gently until just mixed.  Bake at 400 degrees (200 C) for 20 to 25 minutes.  Remove from pan and cool on rack.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Book 3: Joy of Cooking

It has been a pretty slow pace.  Two posts a year?  It's not that I haven't done ANY cooking.  Just that when I have cooked from a cookbook, I've forgotten to take photos, or other nonsense excuses for posting.  I am back with a classic and maybe some new motivation.

So the Joy of Cooking is somewhat of a cooking bible.  I don't end up going to it all that much as I prefer the cookbooks with the tempting photos.  I go to it for those classic American recipes that it does best (except this upcoming recipe may be a bad example, as it's not really American).  I go to it when I don't need a picture to remind me how it's supposed to turn out...lasagna, french toast, pancakes...and Dutch Babies.

I hope you have been lucky enough to have a Dutch Baby before.  They are light as air, eggs puffed up into a dreamy breakfast.  They border on dessert, so it's really an excuse to have dessert for breakfast.  You can top them with powdered sugar and lemon juice for a tart and sweet combo. 

The "Baby" puffs up and then deflates quickly, so you need to serve it right away.  I managed to take a photo of it on the plate, but once I got the powdered sugar & lemon juice on it, I inhaled so no final photo!

I recognize that this is not a flattering photo.  You'll have to trust that it's delicious.  It is also super-fast...what took the most time was waiting for the oven to preheat.  

I'm still struggling to figure out if I feel ok recreating the recipe in my post, since typically you'd have to pay to buy the cookbook instead.  I'm still not, but I can point you to a similar recipe here since I figure that this is somewhat a classic recipe: TasteBook's Dutch Baby  I am pushing the limit of how little butter I can use and just used 3 T for this time.