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Sunday, February 28, 2010

A Tale of Two Pretzels - Epilogue - PretzelPups

When I was assembling the Sigmund pretzels it occurred to me that pretzels and hot dogs go pretty well together.  I found an opened pack of hot dogs with three remaining and decided to give it a whirl.  The PretzelPups were awesome dunked in mustard.  So awesome, in fact, I forgot to take a picture of them until mine was nearly entirely devoured.

A Tale of Two Pretzels - Part 2 - We Have a Winner

Second Up - Sigmund Pretzels

Saturday, February 27, 2010

A Tale of Two Pretzels - Part 1

I was in Norfolk, VA this week for two days and got to do something I never get to do... watch daytime TV.  Martha Stewart's show was on and I watched a segment where a guest, Lina Kulchinski, founder of Sigmund Pretzels, shared her recipe for soft pretzels.  The dough looked gorgeous that I haven't been able to get them off my mind since.  I knew as soon as I could get myself into the kitchen I would be making these pretzels.

Prior to making the Sigmund pretzels I went over to the Food Network's website to see what Alton Brown had to say about the subject.  The same Alton Brown who has you roast your own peanuts and then pulverize them into homemade peanut butter before turning them into a decadent peanut butter pie makes a one-day pretzel with much less rigamarole.  I wondered which pretzel recipe would produce a superior result and decided to try the pretzels head-to-head to see if the beer, brown sugar, and overnight nap really created a better pretzel.

Both original recipes call for the kneading to be done by machine.  Both recipes re-produced on this website call for hand-kneading.   If you have a stand mixer with a dough hook attachment links are provided to both original recipes.

Simple Pork Tenderloin

We tend to exhaust most of our creative energy at mealtime into the side dishes, breads and desserts we serve with and after our meals.  That said, the protein in our meals is typically simply prepared with ingredients that complement the flavor profile of our sides.  A frequent dinner protein in our farmhouse is pork tenderloin.  It's low in fat and calories, versatile, easy to prepare, and very tasty.  You can pair this simple preparation with just about anything and the pan drippings are the perfect base to any pan sauce your heart desires.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Flourless Chocolate Cake


I am way late to the party, but this was actually my first time making a flourless chocolate cake.  I attempted to make a flourless chocolate waffle like the ones featured in the Great American restaurants a few years back, but that turned out to be more of a flourless chocolate omelet.

As I've mentioned before, my boss has a serious sweet tooth and, in the interest of office harmony and future raises, I try to bring him a little treat here and there.  This week he chose a flourless chocolate cake after I denied his first request for the, impossible to duplicate, flourless chocolate waffle.  I ultimately selected the following recipe at random after realizing no two cooks makes the ubiquitous dessert the same way and all of the reviews for all of the variations were entirely positive.  The preparation for this recipe is simple and quick.  The cake.. worth savoring.  Because this recipe requires that the cake be refrigerated overnight it's a perfect make-ahead dessert for events where you won't have a free oven until long after dinner is over.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Mustard Roasted Potatoes

We love roasted potatoes and eat them frequently with our dinners.  We also have no fewer than five different kinds of mustard in our refrigerator (down from an absurd eight a month ago).  When I stumbled upon Ina Garten's recipe for mustard roasted potatoes I knew they'd be a hit at our household.  I also knew, despite not having been to the grocery store in a few weeks, we had all the necessary ingredients in our pantry.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Apple, Goat Cheese, and Honey Tart

We picked up some beautiful apples the other day and I have been trying to figure out exactly what I would like to do with them.  I initially thought of a dutch baby with sauteed apples but then remembered a recipe I had bookmarked about a year ago.  The original recipe was a little fussy for just the two of us for dessert.  I wanted something a little less complicated, a little more rustic, and a little sweeter.  I decided to keep the frozen puff pastry sheet in the freezer and used Ina Garten's pastry recipe instead.  Though not a true puff pastry, the dough is a snap to put together and provides a much more supple result.  Unless you're looking for the height and flakiness that only a laminated dough will provide this is a good base for any fruit tart.

Potato-Leek Galette

I tried this recipe for the first time a few years ago in a tiny apartment kitchen.  I served it with rack of lamb.  Though the rack of lamb was excellent, it's these potatoes that have been requested over and over again by the man of the house.  The potatoes are crisp, the cheese is creamy, and the leeks give just enough flavor to keep things interesting.  A mandoline slicer makes quick work of the potatoes but, as demonstrated below, they can also be cut by hand to excellent results.  Martha Stewart gets all the thanks for this one.

White Sandwich Bread

Even if I hadn't purchased a 25 pound sack of flour and a bulk package of yeast at Costco I would like to think I would still make homemade bread.  This recipe is for a simple, all-American, white sandwich bread.  The type of bread that stands up to a thick slather of mustard and a pile of ham and cheese.  Not the kind of white bread that you can smush into a 1/2" cube between your fingers. Enjoy it with your favorite sandwich fixins or, like we do, warm and slathered with butter and drizzled with honey.  It's unbelievably good.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Chocolate Eclairs

 My boss is a man who doesn't mess around when it comes to desserts.  He's a guy who, in the summer months, will close our office so we can go get ice cream cones.  When he asked for Chocolate Eclairs last week I knew I should oblige.  I used Gale Gand's recipe with few modifications and wound up with delicious, though somewhat enormous, eclairs.  Perhaps I am less familiar with jumbo size hot dogs than I thought, but my 5" lengths of dough transformed into submarine sandwich sized eclairs.  For more manageable portions pipe dough into 3 - 3 1/2" lengths.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Garlic-Rosemary Crusted Pork Loin Roast

Here at the farmhouse, I do lots of baking and daily meal preparation but when it comes to large cuts of meat the man of the house is pressed into action.  Typically he likes to take his meat outside where it is either grilled or barbecued.  Given the epic snowfall we've had this winter grilling and smoking are out of the question until we can get into the yard without waders (who knew fly fishing equipment would ever come in so handy?).  This recipe was adapted from Giada diLaurentiis's Pancetta-Wrapped Pork Roast.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Buttermilk Cluster Rolls


These rolls have been to the end of the internet and back this month.  It's rare to have dozens of reviews for a bread recipe.  Despite the generally positive comments, I was a little worried about making these rolls because of the many reviews indicating difficulty with the recipe and the photographic evidence of varied results.  Taking into account some of the most common complaints with the recipe, I ultimately ended up with beautifully browned, soft, towering (but not too gargantuan) rolls that I will be making over and over again.  You can read more about these rolls here, here, here, here, and here and approximately 31,695 other places on the web.

Coconut Cream Pie

Coconut Cream Pie is one of my dad's favorite desserts so, in honor of his visit to the farm tonight, I whipped one up.  I have to admit that pie crust eludes me and, as a result, I never make homemade crust for a single crust pie.  Today I bucked the trend and made my own crust to tasty if not beautiful results.  Both the crust and the pie filling were adapted from The New Best Recipe Cookbook.

Saturday, February 13, 2010


They say that crumpets are butter's best friend and any friend of butter is a friend of mine. I've long been known to toast an english muffin into oblivion only to load it up with butter and a kiss of jam. This morning I decided to make crumpets and see how they stacked up to my long-time breakfast favorite. The results were... delicious.  This recipe is a slight adaptation of the recipe found on the King Arthur Flour blog

Quick and Easy Marinara

A quick homemade sauce can elevate even plain noodles and sauce into a praise-worthy dish. I love making homemade meatballs, lasagna, and chicken parmigiana and love that this sauce is tasty, flavorful, and ready in under an hour.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Cinnamon and Chocolate Bread Pudding

I have been baking lots of bread lately and had a ton of stale bread in my freezer just waiting for me to figure out what to do with it. Finally, I decided upon bread pudding since most of the leftover bread was either challah, french, or a lightly sweet molasses loaf. I'm not a huge fan of raisins in baked goods so I opted for chocolate chips. The results were excellent.  The base recipe was adapted from The New Best Recipe Cookbook.

Chicken Parmigiana

Nothing hits the spot when you're holed up waiting for spring more than something warm, hearty, cheesy, and well paired with a glass of wine.

We settled on Chicken Parmigiana for dinner last night and were well rewarded for our efforts.

Pain au Chocolate

Having been stranded at the farm with feet of snow piling up around us, I decided to try my hand at Chocolate Croissants, aka Pain au Chocolate. I selected Jacques Torres' recipe and proceeded with a few minor tweaks.