Archives for the month of: January, 2011

Hi Friends,
The weather report called for turned into a 19 inch snowpocalypse overnight so I had all day to hang out.  The realization that I had a nowhere to go and nothing to do led to this:
And fresh squeezed orange juice with sparkling moscato and a portobello and onion frittata made for a lovely brunch. Dinner was a bigger adventure. I found some beef ribs picked up on sale in the freezer, and had some herbs and veg from the weekend farmer’s market trip. Never made beef ribs before, but every recipe I found leaned more towards savory than the sweet / heat I prefer on a pork rib.  I decided to treat it as I would a whole roast.

 

Everybody in the pool!

Marinating in herb-y goodness

Beef Rib Rub:

  • Fresh Rosemary
  • Fresh Garlic
  • Sea salt
  • Black pepper
  • Cayenne pepper
  • Corriander
  • Lemon juice
  • Olive Oil
  • Turbinado sugar

Turbinado sugar is my current obsession. I’m supposed to be going dairy and sugar free but that’s just not going to work, but this organic, lower calorie sugar makes me feel not as guilty.  Also sold as “sugar in the raw”, it’s usually pretty expensive, but +1 for the farmer’s market  got a pretty hefty bag for a dollar. I didn’t even know what it was until watching Giada make shortcake last week, but now i’m all about it. I only added a tablespoon or so. Don’t want the meat to be sweet, just want to encourage carmelization.

Glass dish, rub the mix on, leftover red wine in the bottom of the pan, cover and in the oven for 2 hours at 300 degrees.
Cooking instructions thanks to one of my favorite sites Cooking for Engineers.
I love SO MUCH LOVE for Cooking for Engineers, because they explain why things are the way they are and have a handy measurement conversion calculator at the top. I’ve mentioned a few times that I have trouble following recipes as written, so at least this gives me some boundaries.

I can’t eat just meat so time to contemplate sides. I found a rather sad looking portobello mushroom, an eggplant, and a red onion in the fridge. I skimmed off the excess oil from the ribs leaving only the good stuff from the pan drippings. Sliced and dredged the veg in the makeshift marinade, added some balsamic vinegar, fired up the grill and went to work.

Quick Tip: Eggplant has a lot of moisture that makes it hard to get a good sear if it’s not breaded. When grilling or oven frying, sprinkle with kosher salt to draw the water out and cover with paper towels or tea towels.  Towels will soak up the water and you’ll get distinct, even grill marks.

Here’s what we ended up with  –

Next up – what I did with the rest of that wine.

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I suffer from chronic indecision. I have so many good ideas that I start to lose track and they all converge together like some kind of evil idea transformer that just gets bigger and bigger and turns on me to bite me in the ass.
That happened today.
I’m currently looking at a gallon of freshly churned ice cream. Don’t get excited. Its not that good.

Lets start at the beginning. For Thanksgiving I made pumpkin ice cream. Everyone said it was delicious but i’d eaten my weight in Mac & Cheese and didn’t have any. For Christmas my folks gave me an ice cream maker (thanks Mom & Dad!). I’ve  been kind of trying this Paleo Diet thing, to moderate success. I had a brick of fat-free cream cheese in the fridge that needed to get used before it went bad and a hunk of fresh ginger languishing in my produce bin.

To recap, these are the lego bricks in our house of horrors:

  • Canned plain pumpkin, NOT the pre-spiced pumpkin pie filling from the original T-giving triumph
  • Cream cheese
  • New shiny kitcheny gadget
  • A dairy free, sugar free diet
  • Fresh ginger root

Do we see the problem, friends? That’s a lot of conflicting flavors and ideas.  Fearless and heedless of any sort of common sense, I trudged ahead, seeking and finding three recipes that would become the foundation for this adventure.

Paleo Ice Cream: http://cavemanfood.blogspot.com/2009/06/coconut-milk-ice-cream.html
Cheesecake Ice Cream: http://www.recipesecrets.net/blog/recipes/copycat-baskin-robbins-cheesecake-ice-cream/
Pumpkin Ice Cream: http://www.ehow.com/how_7005_make-pumpkin-ice.html (NOT the recipe I used in November)

Bits and pieces, this and that, and this is what we ended up with:

2 cans Coconut Milk
2 eggs
1 c light brown sugar
1 c solid pack pumpkin
8oz fat free cream cheese
Grated ginger (1 1/2 tbsp?)
Lemon zest
Ground cinnamon

Start by making the custard base on a double boiler with the coconut milk, sugar, and ginger. Temper in the eggs.  Pour heated mixture over cream cheese and pumpkin, and let sit to the cream cheese softens a bit. Cream with hand mixer, cool the whole schmegeggie in the fridge for a few hours, then churn in your fancypants ice cream machine.

Looks good, eh?

Mmmm, Melty....

What? Doesn't everyone eat their treats out of a wine glass?

Pros:
Creamy texture, nice mouthfeel.
Not overly sweet with a lingering heat from the ginger at the finish.
Scoops easily.
Smells wonderful and has a pretty peachy color.
Pumpkin flavor present but not overwhelming.

Cons:
TOO creamy – it doesn’t ever really melt. I just kind of sits there and turns into this lukewarm pudding type situation.
May be too salty for some; not enough sugar to cut through the salt of the cream cheese.
Conflicting flavors – the heat of ginger could compliment the brightness of a lemon zest or the earthiness of the cinnamon, but the flavors progress cinnamon>lemon>ginger, which confuses my brain.

I think that a pumpkin ice cream with coconut milk instead of heavy cream would be quite nice, giving it a lightness that would carry through well from winter until the spring chill is gone.  I definitely want to try the cheesecake ice cream again, because it’s my favorite, but it needs sweetness and texture. Perhaps white sugar or stevia instead of brown sugar, which I find to be too earthy for dairy, and some coconut flakes or chocolate covered graham cracker crumbles.
Anyways, it was fun to try.  And if anyone wants to taste for themselves, stop by. I have a gallon, minus two scoops, of fresh churned ice cream taking up space in my freezer.

I watch a lot (A LOT) of terrible television, but every once in a while I hear something that sticks with me. One such nugget of information is the phrase “We eat with our eyes first. ”  So true, yet so many people choose to forget or ignore this fact. By the same token, it’s easy to focus on color and plating to the detriment of the food.

An aside – as I write this, Palladia is showing a concert of Elvis Costello and the Imposters. Costello has style and substance. Not conventionally handsome, but the man can rock a purple velvet blazer and Buddy Holly glasses like none other.

Here’s a theme song for this post. An obscure track but it mentions longing and cake:

A long time ago I read a piece on why the phrase “food pornography” as relates to photographs on cooking blogs should be banished… and it made me mad. Like, really, just excessively, irrationally angry. First of all, it’s a totally tongue in cheek phrase, so chill with the sanctimony. That apple pie is not being oppressed or exploited; it’s just doing it’s job, lookin’ delicious. Secondly, the term speaks to the very nature of why people indulge in porn in the first place – desire. All photography should make you feel something, and when food photography is done correctly,  that feeling should be overwhelmingly be desire. The synapses should start to fire, igniting the senses until you can taste the flavors on your tongue, feel the textures on your lips, smell the layers of spice and sweet surrounding you, reminding you of some long lost memory or begging you to create a new one.

In short, if it doesn’t look good, I don’t want it. (Yes, that rule applies equally for cookies and men.)  I don’t care how good you say it is for me, umpteen images of mush in a bowl is not making me hungry. Don’t tell me how good it tastes, show me.

One of my favorite blogs, Pioneer Woman, did an excellent post with hints and tips.  Taking Photos of Food – 8 Helpful Tips . Photographing food is not so different than photographing skin – warmth without washing out, and “detail in the highlights and shadows” (thanks Dad).

But I digress; as I was saying, style and substance are two halves of a whole. When you get what you want, it’s got to live up to what you’ve imagined.

Don’t be afraid to want, friends And when you get it, I hope you’re sated and satisfied.  I promise a steady stream of good music and food porny photos to help inspire.

Hello Friends!

So I’ve been thinking about starting a blog for a while, mostly so I can stop talking about food on my Facebook page.  Why is this called “Stumbling To Yum”? Well, a few reasons. One, I had another another, cooler name which some dude signed up for on literally every blog service in 2008 thinking he was going to be the next Rachel Ray and made exactly one post. Two, I  love to cook and bake but a combination of hubris and laziness generally keep me from following recipes as they are written. Sometimes this leads to stunning success but more often I land on the failure spectrum.  Three, I’ve stumbled onto a great many yummy things without really trying; jobs, relationships, makeup on sale. I might mention these things if I think they’ll be of interest.

Back to the food thing – writing a cooking blog with with half-assed moderately adjusted versions of other people’s recipes may seem rather pointless, but at the very least I hope it gives anyone who reads some inspiration. Because “a pinch of that, a spash of this” may not be helpful if you want to try yourself, i’ll always link back to the original recipe  and aim to stick to the following format for each step of the process:

Color
Flavor(s)
Texture
Mouthfeel

In addition to discussing what I make, i’ll also discuss technique, food philosophy, and favorite places.  I’ve got a lot of ideas, friends. Lets give it a go, shall we?

 

Coconut Banana Lime Breads

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