Monday, February 25, 2008

The Ugly Sandwich

Let's get this over with. The sooner we face up to the truth, the sooner we can put the shock behind us. While we may certainly treasure gorgeous photos of fabulous food (aka Food Porn) and while we may understandably cringe to see the above abomination, we will be strong and, more important, we will refuse the shallow path of superficial judgment.

What I'm saying here is, that may be the ugliest sandwich you've seen in a long time but appearances are deceptive, you can't judge a book by its cover, blah, blah, blah and assorted other similar cliches.

It started when I got to thinking about the possibilities of enjoying a Monte Cristo sandwich, which is basically two kinds of meat, plus cheese, dipped in batter and deep fried. Except I really don't much care for deep frying. Although it certainly would have photographed well. All that golden crust, you know. I could have chosen to fry it in butter in a skillet. That would have been photogenic, too, with its golden lacy pattern cooked into the coating. Heck, I might have even cooked up a face I could have sold on ebay.

No, I decided I wanted to bake the darned thing. Even then, I could have baked it on a buttered cookie sheet, thus probably enabling the batter crust to develop that appetizing golden glow. But if I was going to butter the cookie sheet, I might as well fry it in the skillet, right? So I chose to bake it on one of those silpat pan liners of woven silicone, my defense against having to buy parchment paper for greaseless baking. And the sandwich baked up quite nicely, with the innards piping hot and the cheese all gooshy and melty. It just didn't have the healthy glow, like a high-dollar sun tan. It looks more like it's been a cave dweller for a long time. A Gollum sandwich. Preciousssssss.

I was able to overlook the less than appetizing appearance of my ugly sandwich because, after all, I had engineered the rather lovely content, which, I'm happy to report, lived up to my expectations with room to spare.

I would have spread the slices of bread with cream cheese, had I had any. Lacking that delight, I slathered on a generous amount of mustard instead. Then came a layer of thinly sliced smoked chicken breast, a layer of cranberry bliss (more about that in a minute), a layer of sliced cheddar and finally a second layer of chicken. Traditionally, ham would be the second meat but you go with what you've got, right?

Anyway, I toothpicked the sandwiches together (I made two of them), sliced each one in half kitty-cornered, dunked them in an egg and milk and flour batter that was generously seasoned with Mrs. Dash chipotle and baked them in a 425 degree oven for 10 minutes. Carefully turned each sandwich half over and baked them another 10 minutes.

I cut each of the halves in half again, thus you see the mangled results on the first sandwich in the photo above. Didn't bother doing that with the second sandwich, which I had for a later meal. They tasted wonderfully scrumptious either way.

Oh. The cranberry bliss. I have these dried cranberries that I just love. I also like to rehydrate them with various fruity-flavored liqueurs. Today I took a small saucepan and plopped a honkin' big tablespoon of orange marmalade into it. Then I tossed in a handful of cranberries. Then a splash of peach schnapps. Just a splash. Peach schnapps has a terribly, shall we say, assertive character. Give it half a chance and it will overwhelm the other flavors. Muffle its exuberance and it provides a nice accent in a flavor blend. I mixed everything up good and cooked it on medium heat until it was all bubbly. Then I set it aside to cool. By the time it had cooled, the marmalade had begun to congeal again, holding everything together. Cranberry bliss. That tart-sweet is heavenly against the savory flavors.

So we can lay all the ugly we want on my poor old sandwich. It's performance, its very mission in its brief life, was filled with righteous beauty. Yea, verily I say unto you, there is no ugly in a satisfied tummy.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Still Souped Up

It might be the continual drizzly drippy weather that's inspiring the mood but I do seem to be fixated on soup lately. Running across the recipe for dry soup mix has whetted my curiosity as well as my appetite so I've been researching and experimenting since the last post. It's been such fun, I'm getting a bit worried about developing an unseemly zealot tendency, ready to inflict upon innocent bystanders. You know -- "Make instant soup mixes or you'll go straight to culinary hell and your soup spoons will all leak."

That said, look at what I did with the basic soup mix made in the previous post. In a mixing bowl, I dropped a rounded measure (1/3 cup) of the dry mix and added some chili powder and cumin (don't ask how much -- I just shook-shook-shook until it smelled right) and then whisked in an 11 1/2 ounce can of V-8 vegetable juice. Put the bowl in the microwave and nuked it for a total of 6 minutes, taking it out every 2 minutes and giving it a good whisking. The last time I took it out, I whisked in a handful of shredded cheddar cheese. Poured it in the soup bowl (it's a perfect one-portion amount), topped it with some crumbled feta cheese and -- oh my -- it was wicked good. The bread beside the soup bowl consists of a couple chunks of Yorkie pudding. Went great with the soup.

Now, see ... I was able to satisfy my soup urge without going to a lot of trouble or ending up with so much I had to freeze leftovers. And I VERY much like the idea that I can control the ingredients, leaving out the crappy stuff we're stuck with when we buy off the shelf. Nor should we ignore the economy of the homemade mix. And the news is even good about calorie content. (I'm not going to bother with figuring fat and fiber and carbs and all that because a quick scan seems to indicate more good news in that direction.)

So -- if we think of the soup mix as consisting of just the dry milk, corn starch and seasoning (leave out the bouillon), we have approximately 840 calories total. There are roughly 8 one-third cup portions therein so each one should run about 105 calories. I used chicken bouillon in my mix so I have to add 60 more calories to the total, making the individual portion come in at about 112 calories. Since I used a full can of V-8 vegetable juice in making the soup, I add another 70 calories. Therefore, without resorting to rocket science or calling up the spirit of Einstein, I would compute the final bowl of soup to weigh in at 182 calories.

No, wait. There was something like 133 calories worth of cheddar cheese in there. Okay. Now we have a total of 315 calories.

Uhmm ... not counting the crumbled feta cheese or the two Yorkies I ate with it. Don't know about the feta and I'm getting tired of looking stuff up but the Yorkies (which I made in the muffin tin this time) come to about 75 calories each. And they're so rich-tasting I didn't add any butter or anything.

Okay. How am I doing? Lunch for 465 calories, plus a few feta thingies, and I only ate half the soup because I got full. Aha! Subtract 150 calories -- now we're down to 315 for lunch. And it was healthy. And good. And fast. I'll eat the rest of the soup and another Yorkie later. So it's hugely economical.

Seems to me, this basic little soup mix is also hugely versatile. Think of all the flavor combinations one could achieve with various spices and seasoning mixes and dehydrated veggie bits. Plus the flavor from whatever liquid you choose to add, whether it be a broth or a juice. Not to mention the addition of noodles and rice and beans and the kitchen sink. And let's not forget it works well as a sauce for assorted casseroles and pastas. Yeah!

Okay. I think I'm going to wander into the kitchen and finish up that soup. I will leave you with the following chuckle from the lolcat site. But you have to hunt down your own biscotti recipe.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Souped Up

A can of Cream of Mushroom soup probably gets tossed into more recipes than is decent to think about. Sometimes the call is for Cream of Celery or Cream of Chicken or Cream of Whatever but mostly it's Cream of Mushroom.

Which I never have on hand.

So this morning I got to thinking, gee, I wonder if it wouldn't be cheaper and easier to just make my own Cream of Whatever and not even bother with the store bought cans. No sooner thought than Googled, of course, and lo! What wondrous results to behold. So wondrous, in fact, that I'm impelled to share the recipe for what is a dry soup mix that stores on the shelf and, with the addition of water, makes delicious Cream of Chicken soup any time you feel the urge.


Mix together in a bowl: 2 cups nonfat dry milk, 3/4 cup corn starch, 1/4 cup chicken bullion granules or powder, 2 tablespoons dry onion flakes OR 1 teaspoon each onion powder, basil, thyme and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Store in airtight container at room temperature. To use: combine 1/3 cup dry soup mix with 1 1/4 cup water. Mix well in small saucepan, bring to a gentle boil, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens.

That's the basic recipe, which lends itself to variation. If you don't have the granulated or powdered chicken bullion, just skip that part and use chicken broth instead of water when making a serving of soup. Or use some other flavor of bullion in the mix, like vegetable, for instance.

I like this way of doing it -- a lot. When you're in the mood for the soup, all you have to do is scoop up a portion of the already mixed goodies, add water and, bingo! You're good to go. I'm sure this would work even faster with the use of the microwave but it certainly doesn't take long from the stove top. I'll bet this is a lot healthier than what's in the can, too, by golly.

As it turned out, the suggested portion was just right for the potato-chicken casserole I made this afternoon. For the potatoes, I used a couple cups of Tater Tots. I'd imagine you Coffee Mates in other lands have 'em, perhaps under a different name. They're basically shredded, cooked potato, formed into little tubular shapes. If you don't have any handy, just shred a couple cups of cooked potato for the following recipe.

First I greased my 8"x8" baking dish with olive oil, then covered the bottom with frozen Tater Tots. (As suggested, you can substitute a layer of shredded, cooked potatoes.) In a bowl, I whisked together 2 eggs, 1 cup milk and the above-mentioned portion of cooked Cream of Chicken soup (1/3 cup dry mix and 1 1/4 cups water, cooked until thick.) To that I added a cup of shredded cheddar cheese and about a cup of chopped, cooked chicken, then poured the mixture over the Tater Tots in the baking dish. Sprinkled a generous portion of Mrs. Dash chipotle seasoning over the top and baked in a 350 degree oven for 45 minutes.

In the picture above, there is a small serving of the finished casserole sitting in front of the plastic container with the dry soup mix. Those flecks in the mix are bits of the dried sweet basil. Hmmm. Dill would be good in that, too. I'll keep that in mind for future reference.

By the way, no tin cans were harmed in the making of these culinary spectaculars.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Looney Eclipse

By now you have no doubt been able to view countless photos of last night's lunar eclipse and it would not surprise me to know the quality of most of those photos is far superior to what you see here. Well, that's as it should be, given the way it all came down in this neck of the woods.

See, first of all, I didn't even know there was an eclipse event scheduled. For one thing, I don't do television and for another thing, it just happened that I spent practically zilch-zero time on the Internet yesterday so the whole eclipse gig slipped through the cracks, at least as far as my attention was concerned. If youngest dotter Patti had not called me just when it was starting, I wouldn't have known about it at all.

That's too bad because, had I known sooner, I could have done some concentrated cramming on the fine art of moon/night photography and set up my tripod and all that good stuff. I coulda been a conTENduh. Yeah.

As it was, I stumbled through a few dozen shots from the balcony out front, bracing the camera on top of the railing and setting the mode dial to Night. No time to figure out manual exposure controls, which would have worked better had I only known what to do. If anyone in the cars going by below had happened to look up, I'm sure they would have thought I was taking clandestine pictures of my neighbors across the highway. Which means they will not only think I am a poster child for the nosy liddle ol' leddy category, they'll be wondering what the neighbors are doing that is so juicy.

In spite of my lack of preparedness, I did manage to score this one barely decent shot just before full eclipse. In my particular location, the eclipse was already well underway before the moon finally popped up over the hill to the east of me. In fact, that's why the pattern on the face of the moon looks so strange. What you are seeing is the silhouette of the trees crowning the hill because the lunar orb had not yet cleared them.

I learned a few things. I learned the zoom lens is extremely helpful for moon shots. I learned I should have really, really, REALLY set up the tripod. I learned this was most definitely one of those times when a working knowledge of shutter and aperture settings would have probably been better for my purposes than any of the mode settings. I learned I should not have quit trying so soon -- the next total lunar eclipse won't be for a couple more years. I would have had time to set up the tripod and snap more photos when the moon started coming out of the shadow. Wasted that opportunity, that's what. Durn it.

Most of all, I learned -- once again -- I have an awful lot to learn.

Which, when you think about it, is a Good Thang. If you already knew everything, what would you have to look forward to? Please do not point out the fallacy in that argument. I'm trying to console myself.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Valentine Popover

Aww, it's hearts and flowers time again. The time of year when a Great Burning Question always comes to mind, namely: How many tons of chocolate will be consumed during this 24-hour period?

I'm sure there are numerous wholesalers and retailers the world over who have a reasonably close idea of quantities prepared and sold but there is no real way of knowing how much of that is actually nibbled and gobbled during the actual Valentine window of opportunity. Nor will the world falter in its perpetual spin if we don't have the answer. Maybe it's a Zen question after all.

In any case, I'll do my share for the cause. 'Cause I just love chocolate.

It's possible I've left a few clues here and there that there are other foods that warrant my devotion besides the wonderful product of the sacred cocoa bean. Like my ongoing love affair with all variations on popovers and Yorkie puddings and Dutch Baby Pancakes and the like. Which is why I couldn't resist trying out something called Caribbean Popovers the other day. I should have bookmarked the page because now I can't find it, thus I can't tell you what makes this particular version Caribbean in nature. Maybe the chef? It doesn't matter, I guess. I did my own variation on it, anyway, with speculations about other possible tempting toppings.

For one thing, I wasn't in the mood to haul out the popover pan (or, in my case, the muffin pan) to make individual popovers. I decided to do the whole thing in one swell foop and that required the use of my trusty enamel pie pan. Could have used any pie pan, you understand. It's just that the enamel one was on top of the stack. So you can do it either way -- individual popovers or the big "pancake" type of thing. The basic recipe goes like this ...

First you turn your oven on to 425 degrees fairyheight, slurp a little olive oil or butter in the pan and then let it heat in the oven while you mix the batter. I should mention the original recipe calls for half cream and half milk but I just used plain milk. That's plenty rich enough for me.

So, in a bowl mix 2 eggs, 1 cup milk, 1/4 cup flour and seasoning to taste. You can use plain salt, seasoned salt, a variety of Mrs. Dash -- whatever spice appeals to you at the moment. I find a wire whisk works great for batter but you can use a spoon or a mixer or whatever you prefer. Just whup it up nice and smooth. Grate up 1/2 cup of cheese, again, whatever kind appeals to you. I had cheddar on hand. No surprise. I almost always have cheddar on hand.

Pull the hot pan out of the oven and pour the batter into it. Quickly sprinkle the grated cheese over the top, leaving a margin around the edge. Put it back in the oven and set your timer for 15 minutes.

When you bring your masterpiece out of the oven, it should look like the above -- all glowing and fragrant and mouthwatering to behold. It will be risen a bit around the sides and the center will be all cheesy and nummy.

I cut it into pie wedges and ate it just the way it was -- and it was wonderful. How can I describe it? Sort of like a cheese omelet with a crispy crust. Yeah. That pretty much says it.

I think the next time I try one, I'm going to plop some salsa and sour cream on top after I bring it out of the oven. Regular salsa would be just fine but, to evoke that Caribbean charisma, maybe a fruit salsa with papaya in the mix, something done real quick in a little pot on top of the stove so it's nice and hot when you spread it on the "omelet"? Ohhhh, that sounds luscious.

In the meantime, here's wishing all you lovely Coffee Mates a fun and fabulous Valentine's Day. You really ARE special!

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Thinking Inside the Box


I keep seeing these photos of cats and dogs curled up cozy and comfy inside those soft round fur kid beds. They all look content. Pampered. Cared for. I was beginning to wonder if perhaps I was guilty of insufficient concern about the pamper potential of His Fluffiness.

Ralph put my mind at ease. I'd forgotten how much he adored simple cardboard boxes. Especially the boxes that seemed far too small to accommodate his mass, either fluffed or unfluffed. He seems especially fond of the size I usually get with an Amazon order. In his mind, the typical Amazon box is built unerringly to Ralph-like specifications.


He's been breaking this speciman in over the last couple of days. Got the one flap aligned at exactly the proper slant for comfort and the other flaps upright for that cozy ambiance. So far he's managed to curl up in such a way as to maximize his snugness and minimize stress on the corners of the box. The sides aren't even bulging yet. It's like watching a quart of cat fit into a pint container.

I shouldn't be at all surprised at Ralph's preferences. I went through the very same thing when my kidlets were toddling about. All parents learn early that the younglings adore and prefer whatever they can glean from kitchen cupboards and will ignore the most expensive offerings from toy stores. It's only when they get older that they begin to lust after the In toys and the older they get, the more expensive the toy. Ask any adult male about his truck.


I have to admire Ralph's attitude. He instinctively knows and practices the art of being happy with what he has instead of yearning for more.

Well. Except when his food dish is empty.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Doin' the Stroll

Although it's been consistently overcast today, it hasn't been particularly chilly. It was pleasant enough, in fact, that Ralph and I wandered about in the park area back of the building this evening. I didn't even bother to throw on a jacket and Ralph, of course, was comfy in his fur coat.

Squirrelly, though. When one is out on a stroll with Ralph, one has to be on the lookout for sudden bursts of irrational racing hither and yon and cleverly staged ambushes from behind a clump of pampas grass -- or even from behind a clump of daisies. Ralph doesn't care if you see him coming, as long as you keep on coming so he can attack.

In between these mini-spells of madness, he will stroll sedately along, as dignified as a dowager headed for church. The only evidence you have that the serene demeanor will not last is the steady switching of his tail, so vigorous you can almost hear a faint whip crack.

Sometimes he follows me like a puppy but it's the most fun when he strolls in front. See, the hair is short from his ankles down but it's longer from the ankles up. Makes him look like he's wearing furry pantaloons. I tried to catch that effect. Got the swishing tail and got a bit of the cutie-pie profile as he glanced to the right but there is only a hint of the pantaloons. Sorry. I'll have to sneak a shot when he's strolling up the stairs ahead of me.

You know, there is probably a well-deserved ring of Hell for people who take unflattering pictures of their fur kids. On the other hand, this might be the only way I can get even for the way Ralph strolls across my body each morning when he wants me to get up at o' dark-thirty because his damn food dish is empty. It wouldn't be so bad but he's wearing heavy boots and stomps a lot. If I ever figure out where he hides those boots ...

Monday, February 4, 2008

Whipped Is Wicked Good

My whole day yesterday was not spent involved in Super Bowl activities. No. What? You think I'm obsessed with football or something? I'm not, you know. I prefer to think of it as an annual aberrational syndrome with intense entertainment features. But I can survive the rest of the year without it. Coffee and chocolate make up for a great deal.

By the way, I want you to know -- I picked the Giants to win. Not only do I tend to support the Underdogs in any given situation, I don't think you'll find too many Raiders fans who like the Pats ever since that fateful January 2002 playoff game in the snow, when the infamous Tuck rule cost us dearly. It's about time the semi-perfect Pats were humbled. In a more just world, my Raiders would have done the job but, hey -- I'm happy that it was one of the Manning boys and Company, who handled it.

What was I doing that had nothing to do with football? Well, baking cookies, if you must know. Before you throw something at me, I wish to point the finger at a certain Old Grey Poet across the Big Pond. It's John's fault entirely for mentioning how much he and Graham enjoyed lemon curd on shortcrust tarts. Shortcrust. That translates to shortbread, doesn't it, John? In any case, that's how I took it.

Since shortbread happens to rate rather high on my list of Foods I Adore, I Googled a bit through a range of recipes for shortbread tarts. For one reason or another, I rejected everything I ran across -- until I hit mention of Whipped Shortbread Cookies.

Huh? Never heard of them. But what caught my interest was the person who mentioned them said she liked to do the thumbprint treatment and fill the depression with different jams or jellies. And I thought, "Aha! Lemon curd time!"

When I located the recipe, I was even more enthused. Very simple and requiring few ingredients. Although I will say a stand mixer makes it a lot easier because the best results apparently result from lots of mixing. That's not engraved in stone, you understand. One commenter was hand-mixing the ingredients. Said she was exhausted after about 4 minutes but the cookies still came out fine.

So, okay, to get what you see in the above photo, you do thusly: in your mixer bowl, put 1 cup (2 sticks) softened butter. Turn the mixer to somewhere in the midrange and let it whup that butter to a fluffy froth for about 10 minutes. In the meantime, measure out 1 1/2 cups of flour and 1/2 cup of powdered sugar and a 1/2 teaspoon of salt. When the butter is pale and fluffy, add all the dry ingredients. You can also add 1 teaspoon of whatever flavoring you wish. I used vanilla. Begin blending the dry ingredients into the butter. Stop and scrape sides of bowl as often as necessary but let the mixer work the contents for another 10 minutes. Really.

When you're done, the batter will be the consistency of very thick whipped cream. Using a couple of teaspoons, scoop up little globs of batter and drop them on your cookie sheet. This is what I learned: A rounded teaspoon of dough gives you very nice small cookies. A round tablespoon of dough will make cookies that are twice as big -- and twice as fragile, especially if you put any kind of filling in them. What you see above is the large portion of raw dough, complete with a generous blob of lemon curd. I was getting impatient an opted for the larger cookies so I'd get done sooner. Bad move. What you see below is the result.

Not only do the larger cookies run into each other, they are too fragile to hold up against that center weight of filling so it's hard to pick one up without having it crumble into several pieces. Trust me when I tell you, it's worth it to be patient and make the smaller cookies, okay?

I did the thumbprint part by dipping the point of the teaspoon in at an angle and then rotating it a bit. Works fine but be sure you don't go too deep or you'll mess with the structural integrity of your cookies even more. Who knew you had to be an architect to build cookies?

Okay, bake these little fellers in a 350 degree fairyheight oven. Small ones are done in 10 minutes. The bigger ones took 15. When you pull the pan out of the oven, let the cookies rest right where they are for a good 10 minutes. Give them a chance to firm up a bit before transferring them to a rack. In fact, I didn't even use a rack. Instead, I laid out a sheet of waxed paper and transferred the still-warm cookies to it. That's the way we used to do cookies before cooling racks became the In thing.

Now, pick up one of those cookies and take a bite. Prepare to be amazed. It's like chewing a mouthful of foam. The instant the cookie touches your quivering taste buds, it's already dissolving in a warm burst of buttery flavor. Then the filling comes along like a complimentary kiss of bliss. Before you quite know what's happened, both your hand and your mouth are empty and you are wondering if you imagined the whole thing. You take another cookie to convince yourself the experience was genuine because it's hard to believe in the reality of a cookie that seems less substantial than a dream of a cookie.

Are these cookies healthy for our bodies? Of course not! They are way too decadent to be healthy. On the other hand, they are nirvana for our Inner Sybarite. What can I say? We have to either develop monumental self-control or quickly share the whole batch (I got 3 dozen.) with as many other people as possible. Fortunately for me, as much as I love rich foods, my system can only ever manage a little bit at a time. My taste buds will be clamoring for an encore but my tummy says, "Take one more bite and I will make you frow up, fool!"

I can bend to that. These shortbread cookies are wicked good but they aren't the only thing around here that's whipped.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

My Lemon Jones

There I was, minding my own business, reading a book and contentedly digesting the meal I'd enjoyed from the Beer Butt chicken roasted earlier in the day. Then, without warning, a most formidable jones assaulted me. I wanted something lemon and I wanted it RIGHT NOW!

I put down the book and thought it over. Lemon pie, lemon cake, lemon bars ... all those things were out. Too much mussin' and fussin' for the occasion. I wanted something simple and fast. F.E.D., in other words. (Fast Easy Delicious) I recalled enjoying a dessert called Lemon Lush somewhere back in my checkered past but couldn't remember how it was made.

No problem. Google took me right to approximately seven-kajillion Lemon Lush recipes. Problem. They all required cream cheese, which I didn't happen to have on hand. I did find a Lemon Lush pie recipe that called for sour cream (which I DO have) instead of cream cheese but it was a pie. I wasn't about to embark on a pie, thank you very much.

Then I thought about lemon curd. I've never had it. When spotting it at assorted super markets, I always looked at the price and said, "Nah. Surely it can't be that hard to make from scratch." And then, of course, I'd forget about it and never make the attempt. But maybe Google could scare me up a lemon curd recipe. Maybe there was even such a thing as a microwave lemon curd recipe -- because, by now, my lemon jones was getting urgent.

Well, bless my soul. There are four-kajillion microwave lemon curd recipes. How could I have doubted it for a single moment? The one that called out to me the loudest was found at an appealing blog with a long-but-delightful name: Morning Coffee & Afternoon Tea and chocolate in between. I'll let you go there for the details but, quickly (and it IS quick), the recipe goes like this:

Melt 1 stick of butter (1/2 cup) in the microwave. (I did 2 minutes at 40% power.) While that's happening, grate the zest from your lemons. I only had one lemon but got a heaping teaspoon of zest out of it. Then I squeezed the lemon and topped that juice off with some from a bottle of RealLemon that I had in the fridge, making the required 1/2 cup. To that, I added the zest, 1 cup of sugar and 3 eggs and whisked them all up good. Then I slowly poured in the melted butter, whisking all the while. The lemon mixture was then popped into the microwave to nuke for 4 minutes, taking it out and giving it a good whisk at the end of each minute.

Just to be sure, I actually nuked it 6 minutes. Different microwaves have different power levels and I have no idea how mine compared with hers. Anyway, the curd was slightly thickened, which is apparently proper. I understand it get thicker as it chills. One site mentioned it was supposed to end up the consistency of mayonnaise.

Unable to make myself wait until it chilled in the refrigerator, I spooned some of it in a small bowl and tucked that in the freezer. After about 20 minutes, it had indeed thickened up a bit. Almost immediately after the above picture was taken, I was sitting at the table, slurping up lemon curd like it was going out of style.

Was it good? Oh. My. God. Although the various sites mentioning this delightful treat all assured me lemon curd can be put on anything, they also promised it was good all by itself. And it is. Oh yes indeedy. Although I think next time I make it, I'll try 3/4 cup of sugar instead of the full cup. This batch isn't really too sweet but it's teetering right on the edge.

You might note, at the Coffee/Tea site, she has provided a link to the page where she gives us a recipe for Lemon Scones. That's more than I'm willing to tackle tonight, especially since my lemon jones has been appropriately mollified for the nonce. (I love saying "nonce.") But I do believe I'll check it out later. In the meantime, I understand lemon curd goes well on toast.

You Coffee Mates across the Big Pond are the experts on lemon curd. If you have any particular suggestions for its use, I'd welcome the input. And just how thick IS it supposed to be, anyway?

Friday, February 1, 2008

Tailgate Touchdown

Okay, as you can plainly see, this is not an excellent photo. It is, however, another example of the camera being smarter than I am because it managed a fairly decent result in spite of the fact that I had the mode dial set to Landscape.


I could have redone the photo shoot in Auto -- except I had eaten the evidence before I realized a crime had been committed. Some days are like that.

In any case, what that picture represents is my preparation for sustenance to get me through Super Bowl Sunday. I call it Dee's Tailgate Stack Snack. I can safely assure you it is easy, tasty and wonderfully filling. And this am the way it goes ...

First you have to have bread. I made a loaf of bread machine Ciabatta, for which the recipe can be found at the link. Easy peasy. You can use any bread, though. French or sourdough will work just fine.

Lay your bread slices out on a pizza pan or cookie sheet and spread them with refried beans. On top of that, stack a layer of sour cream. On top of that, stack a layer of salsa. On top of that, stack a layer of finely grated cheddar cheese. Bake in a 350 degree oven until the cheese is melted.

Nom, nom, nom!

Since my Ciabatta slices are long, I cut them in half for easier handling. I'm so full after eating four of the halves, I'm able to look forward to eating the remaining two halves for a midnight snack. That bodes well for Sunday. I can munch to my heart's content all through the game, including the half-time show and the Super Bowl commercials. Heck of a deal.

Gee, I sure hope they do a good one with the Clydesdales this year. I love those big guys.