Saturday, August 30, 2014

Beautiful Gowns

I love to scour the internet for designers I've never heard of. Before today, I had never heard of Ziad Nakad. It makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside knowing there are folks out there designing things for other folks who walk red carpets and go to formal galas and so on. I fantasize about what it would be like to be one of these fancy folks. Alas, this sort of lifestyle is simply a fantasy. Nevertheless, a girl can dream! Check these out...see makes you want  to go to fancy fete's too, huh?! Do you have a soiree that you need to be uber dressed for in the near future? Go see these!

photos credited








Friday, August 29, 2014

Pickles! Part 2



As you know there has been a big pickle off in our house. The challenge was first set forth by my husband. In Turkey, it is customary to pickle just about anything. On my visits, I have seen floor to ceiling jars of olives in brinepickled peppers, pickled okra, pickled beets and cauliflower, beans, carrots and even citrus fruits. Pickles are served with everything from breakfast to tea. I like them paired with Anatolian Bulgur Stew. In my pickle recipe, there is no cooking and no real waiting. These are also not truly fermented vegetables in a jar. They are simple and quick and delicious but not a true pickle. A true pickle is sour and fermented to help this table mainstay keep and also to provide probiotic nourishment. Bulent's pickles are fermented using garbanzo beans and laid to rest for about 10 days to complete the fermentation process using chick peas.


Pickles!



Ingredients 
  • Several cucumbers (any variety - or any other vegetable of your choice)
  • 2 Cups White Wine Vinegar (grape vinegar)
  • 2 Tbs. Pickling Salt
  • 8 whole cloves of garlic
  • 5-6 dry chick peas also known as garbanzo beans
  • 1 Gallon distilled water
Instructions 
  1. Poke holes in the cucumbers with a pin (this is to absorb the pickling liquid and to ensure fermentation) add them to a jar that closes with an airtight apparatus (see photo)
  2. Mix the vinegar and salt together and add to the cucumbers
  3. Add the garlic
  4. Pour in water (which is boiled then cooled to air temperature)
  5. Cover everything with the bunch of parsley.
  6. Seal lid and place in a cool dark place like the basement or garage for 10 days. Do not put in the refrigerator. The cool air in the fridge will retard the fermentation process.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

A Shiny, New, Ramped Up Blog!

So I went to Etsy and scoured all kinds of designers and blog templates until I found just the right fit for  P and P! I came across Lisa's Menagerie where I became mesmerized not just by her blog templates but also by her mixed media art pieces. Lisa has been amazing! She is very professional and knowledgable and even though I know this process has been frustrating for both of us, she kept both of us on the steady. For more information visit her Etsy store or at Pixel Anthology which provides a much more comprehensive view of the things she does. Thank you, Lisa!

The Bundt Cake


Granny gave me a beautiful bundt mold (last July) in the shape of a sensational starburst swirl. It's made by Nordic Ware in case you're wondering and I believe it is priceless! Thanks for a great 5 year anniversary present Gran! The mold is so great in fact that it is nothing short of inspiring!


I had peaches that a wonderful lady named Mary dropped by on our porch. Mary and I trade goodies. In the spring she takes some Cala Lillies from our garden and she leaves me Portuguese bread. In the summer she leaves peaches and I give her tomatoes. 

She left such a big batch of peaches that by day three, of them sitting on the kitchen counter, I thought, well, before they turn, perhaps I should do something with them. A new bundt pan and over ripe peaches and a new recipe was born.


This however, is not an easy recipe. If you are to embark on this bundt adventure, be ready to commit some time in the kitchen.  This recipe is heavily adapted from a foodie blog From My Sweet Heart.
The cocoa in her recipe adds depth of flavor to the streusel and her spices do too. However, I thought it was too much a wintery flavor so i changed things up. She also has sour cream in her recipe and it makes for a moist, addictive cake!




Chicken Enchilada Suiza


I made Chicken Enchiladas the other night, It's one of my repertoire recipes that I make to impress guests. But I just had a hankering so I made them to impress the husband. He's not impressed by much. He's like Elvis; cool as a cucumber. But this recipe makes even him swoon!

I served these beauties with blistered Poblano Peppers (we grew them ourselves) and a hardy stout that our friend Brad made called, Mr. Hanky's Russian Imperial."

The Enchiladas are creamy, savory treats that are especially satisfying on a cold winter's night. Paired with this chocolaty, boozy stout (boozy is good by the way - otherwise you'd drink a Bud - I want my stout to be an artisan type of hooch - that means it must include a real spirit vibe!) and the peppers, you are eating like royalty. Hungry?





Chicken Enchiladas Suiza

Ingredients
  • 1 package chicken breasts
  • 1 package soft taco size flour tortillas
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 3 Tbs. Flour
  • 4 Tbs. Butter
  • 1 can cream of chicken soup
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1 can corn
  • 1 can mild diced green chiles
  • 1 bunch cilantro
  • 1 package Uncle Ben's Mexican Rice
  • 1 tbs Chili Powder
  • 1 tbs. Cumin
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 large package shredded cheese (I use Mexican Style)
  • 1 small can green salsa
Instructions
  1. In a large sauce pan cook the chicken in the chili powder, cumin and salt and pepper and 1 tbs butter until cooked through. Let the chicken cool and shred.
  2. Fill 87-8 tortillas with chicken, corn, rice, salsa and a little cheese.
  3. Roll up tortillas and place seam side down in a 9x13 baking dish.
  4. In a large sauce pan, create a roux with 3 tbs. butter and 3 tbs. flour. Whisk until lightly  browned.
  5. Add sour cream, chicken broth and cream of chicken soup to the roux and whisk until mixed and thickened.
  6. Remove sauce from heat and pour over enchiladas.
  7. Cover enchiladas with the remainder of the cheese.
  8. Bake at 350 for about 30 minutes.
  9. Serve with blistered Poblano Peppers and Mr. Hanky's Russian Imperial Stout.

Chocolate Caramel Cookie Bars or Billionaire Cookie Bars






Listen, on Christmas Day (2013) my friend Stacyin all her creativity, came to join us for a spotter of the Christmas Bubbly. In so doing, she presented me a treat box full of goodies unmatched. One of the treats in that box was such a hit that later that evening I called her to ask for the recipe. She quite simply denied the sharing of said recipe. In fact she won't even share the recipe with her mother. But wait, there's more! She wouldn't even tell me the name of these rich, delightful morsels! NO NAME!? I have been hunting and experimenting to find a match ever since. I haven't been 100% successful in the search so I've created some that, while not the same, will do until next Christmas! I've used my own nomenclature so I don't have to called them, "Those Yummy Cookie Things That My Friend Gave Me On Christmas Day." For search purposes, I call them Chocolate Caramel Cookie Bars but at home I call them Billionaire Cookie Bars because they are priceless!



This is not an "easy to make" dessert bar, but when you taste them you'll realize it's worth every moment of work involved.





Chocolate Caramel Cookie Bars or Billionaire Cookie Bars

Ingredients - Shortbread
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 cup butter (cold) cut up into pieces
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • pinch salt 
Instructions - Shortbread

  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. In an 8x8 baking pan, create a sling out of parchment. Place one piece of parchment across the pan one way with an overhang and do the same alternateley. If you were to take it out of the pan, it would look like a plus sign...(see photos above for reference).
  3. Put all of the ingredients in a food processor and pulse until the dough looks like wet sand with little clumps that look like Garbanzo beans.
  4. Press a thin layer of the dough evenly into the bottom of the prepared pan. (You will have leftover dough. I make a big batch so I can freeze the rest to use in other recipes).
  5. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until the shortbread is golden brown. The outer edges of the shortbread will be darker than the center.
Ingredients - Chocolate Caramel
  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 1 cup, high quality, milk chocolate chips
Instructions - Chocolate Caramel
  1. Pour 1 can (14 oz.)  Sweetened Condensed Milk into medium sauce pan.
  2. Cook Sweetened Condensed Milk over a medium heat stirring constantly. 
  3. When the milk turns a tawny color (the color of caramel, say) add the heavy cream.
  4. Whisk the egg yolks in a separate, heat proof bowl.
  5. Add a bit of the caramel/cream mixture to the eggs and whisk vigorously (you are tempering the eggs so they do not scramble).
  6. Continue adding the caramel to the eggs and the eggs to the caramel until they are combined.
  7. Lower heat and whisk for 1 minute.
  8. Remove the caramel from the heat and add the chocolate chips, whisk until melted.
  9. Once the chocolate chips have melted, pour immediately over the shortbread.
  10. Chill in the refrigerator until completely cool.
  11. After cooled, remove bars from the pan by using the sling you made for the shortbread.
  12. Gingerly cut into mini Twix size bars.
  13. Store in the refrigerator.
  14. NOTE: You can create many variations on this: The Heritage Cook has a similar recipe that is Gluten Free with Dark Chocolate and Gourmet Magazine has a recipe that uses pre-made Dulce De Leche and Dark Chocolate.

The Mysterious Barmbrack from Valentine's Day 2014




I love quick breads - banana, hummingbird, soda -whatever really, but none so much as the Barmbrack.

I first had Barmbrack (a sturdy quick bread meant to be eaten or used as a weapon for it's density) in Ireland years and years ago. A friend made it for me and she served it with a good knob of butter and a cup of strong Earl Grey tea. In the picture above I've generously topped it with Mascarpone - a nod to the Italian liqueur that's in it.

It's traditionally served for the celebration of Samhain (Halloween - to you and me) and some cooks add wrapped treasures - coins, rings, keys etc. The name is Gaelic - Bairin Breac - speckled bread. I made it for the St. Valentine celebration.

I can't think of anything more comforting actually. Except perhaps, on a cold winter's day like today, a sunny beach in Hawaii.

With that said, this bread is not as sweet as banana bread but it's hardier than most quick breads save for the soda bread. It's excellent for breakfast. And the recipe could not be easier...

Barmbrack (Sometimes also called Brack, Barnbrac, Samhain Cake) Adapted from Edible Ireland.



Ingredients - Makes 1 Loaf
  • 3/4 cup dark raisins
  • 3/4 cup white raisins
  • 3/4 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/4 cup dates
  • 1/4 cup chipped dried apricots
  • 1/4 cup Frangelico
  • 1 cup hot, very strong Earl Grey Tea
  • 1/3 cup sour cream
  • 1 egg beaten
  • 1 1/4 cup self-raising flour
  • 1 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon all spice
Instructions
  1. Pre heat oven to 350.
  2. Brew the tea.
  3. Mix all fruits together in large bowl which at the end will accommodate the other ingredients too.
  4. Add hot tea and Frangelico to the fruit. Let fruit sit for at least 30 minutes, although overnight is best.
  5. Spray only the bottom of the loaf pan with baking spray.
  6. After the fruit has soaked, add all the rest of the ingredients. Stir until the dry ingredients are just combined.
  7. Pour batter into prepared loaf tin and bake for roughly an hour and a half or until a toothpick comes out clean.
  8. Cool on a wire rack before turning it out to slice.
  9. NOTE: This recipe literally takes 5 minutes to make after the fruit finishes the soak.