Monday, August 29, 2011

Breakfast for Dinner

Ever feel like eating breakfast for dinner? I do all the time.


sausage gravy


biscuits and sausage gravy

Biscuits and sausage gravy hits the right spot.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Dim Sum Sunday - Pie

Wow. Despite this photo, I have to rate this recipe a fail. How sad it that?

Peanut Butter Cream Pie

I don't have a lot of experience making cream pies so I followed this recipe to the letter. You start out making your own graham cracker crust which I have never had much luck to begin with. It's not hard to make, it's just I've never had success getting it to slice easily or release from the pie pan. Still I gave it my best shot. Next I went ahead and made the honeycomb candy. I had major doubts about this component of the pie. I wasn't really sure what it added to the whole dish?


Don't get me wrong, it's a great chemistry experiment for making a lighter airy version of peanut brittle without the peanuts but as a topping for a cream pie, I just wasn't feeling it. Onto the filling. It seemed to be going well, seemed firm after spending the night in the fridge. All that was left was to add the topping. Spread out little melted bittersweet chocolate on the top of the pie, pieces of honeycomb and then more chocolate. Here's where I went all Sandra Lee stupid by not realizing that I had just put hot topping on a cold pie thus making the cold pie very loose. Yet despite a couple of hours in the freezer, the pie was only slightly less soupy and totally unfit for human consumption. The middle was soft, the crust was impossible to cut, and the topping needed a chisel to get through. Even if the filling had that nice firm texture I'm not sure it would have worked that with candy topping. Could the recipe be fixed? I consulted with the folks who have much more experience fixing recipe disasters than I do, the chefs at Cook's Illustrated. Their section on cream pies described exactly the problem I was having. Their answer is cornstarch and some evaporated milk. They had no answer for the bizarre topping.

Sad to say, the folks at the office won't get to try this least this week. I may attempt it again in the future or I may just visit everyone else's kitchens to sample their pies. That is, if there's any left.

Sad Dim Sum Sunday.

Friday, August 26, 2011


To all my friends, family and readers in the path of Irene, please keep yourselves out of harm's way and prepare as best you can for this destructive storm.


Don't forget your emergency bucket of food.

(seriously....evacuate yourself and your pets)

Monday, August 22, 2011

No Food Weekend

I'm sorry to report that this was a No Food weekend. No cooking, barely any eating unless you count a Five Hour Energy drink. I pulled a Dog Adoption Mission road trip. Ten hours one way to a little town in Kentucky to pick up this guy.



Traveling Dog

...Jackson now.

Action Jackson as it turns out. Ridding the world of evil squirrels and no fence or gate will stop him. He's a good boy but we will be in serious training mode for the next few months because counter surfing in the kitchen is a NO GO!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Dim Sum Sunday - Pie - a - Pooluza

ba peanut butter honeycomb pie

A little late putting this up but exciting things happening off blog. Stay Tuned.
In the meantime, let us celebrate all things Pie with our next Dim Sum Sunday. On August 28th, show us your pie. Fancy, plain, sweet or savory, all are welcome. I'll be making bon appétit's Peanut Butter Honeycomb pie (thanks to some self involved voting by the folks in my office) but you can make any of the other entrees or your own family favorite. Come back on the 28th, leave a comment that says "I'm up" and we'll all go and eww and ahhh and have a big slice of pie.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The Shrimp Boat Ginny

I'm not sure what's going on down in Atlanta but I suspect the recent heat wave had some unintended affects. I think it scrambled part of Chef Willis' brain because she posted not one, not three, not five but TEN recipes for her readers to try. Ten shrimp recipes.


Not just shrimp recipes but also NOAA graphics to better illustrate the lunar tidal changes and shrimp harvesting. Let's face it, the woman is a shrimp lovin' fool.

Virginia loves shrimp

Bubba-Gin Shrimp can't be far behind.

So which of her many recipes did I decide to make? Actually I did a riff on her Shrimp Cakes. I was house sitting and was lucky enough to dig into the CSA offering this week and found these tender little baby eggplants.

baby eggplant

My mind immediately went to a popular dim sum dish of eggplant stuffed with shrimp and covered with a soy/hosin sauce. I'd use the shrimp cake as a stuffing.

baby eggplants stuffed1

Trimmed off some of the skin, split the eggplant down the middle and filled it with the shrimp paste. Then I gave it a quick fry in some canola oil.

baby eggplants stuffed2

At this point, the dim sum version would be steamed to complete the cooking process. Instead I felt like I needed to add a sauce to counterbalance the slightly spicy bite of the hot sauce and white pepper in the shrimp paste. I wanted something a little sweeter than the soy sauce. I decided to brush the eggplant with the sweet miso sauce used in Nobu's popular white miso marinated black cod dish.

baby eggplants stuffed

A little time under the broiler to meld the sauce into the eggplant and shrimp and there you have it, Shrimp Stuffed Baby Eggplant with Miso.

Still had plenty of shrimp so I thought I'd give the Savannah Marinated Shrimp a try.

jar of shrimp

Because what's not to like about having a jar of marinated shrimp hiding out in your fridge?

Now I'm sure you're thinking, did you really follow the recipe to the letter and use half a red bell pepper? Hella NO! Just couldn't do it. Instead I thinly sliced a preserved lemon and layered that in with the shrimp instead.

savanah shrimp

Hello my little bright tasting shrimp. No peppers for you. What Virginia is saying with her 10 Pounds of Shrimp post is that shrimp is a fantastic canvas protein. You can begin with shrimp and paint it with so many different flavors and cooking methods. Lightly fried shrimp cakes with a back bite of hot sauce and smokey white pepper and marinated shrimp with the subtle flavors of lemon, bay leaves and apple cider vinegar. Playing with tastes you like and exploring more unfamiliar flavors is half the fun. And remember, you don't always need a full moon to go crazy with shrimp.

Parade of Pies

REMINDER: Voting ends tomorrow morning so only a day left to vote for your favorite pie. Right now it's a dogfight between Italian Meringue and Honeycomb Peanut Butter with Strawberry Pie as a dark horse. VOTE NOW!

Seems we touched a bit of a nerve with all the pie talk of the previous post and since we're never one to let a good nerve remain unpoked, I give you the August Parade of Pies. You'll see at the bottom a poll. You can vote once a day and I'll leave the poll up for a week. At the end of the week, the pie with the most votes will be made here in the Karmic Kitchen. Let the voting begin.

ba peanut butter honeycomb pie

The first of bon appétit's six pies for August, the luscious Peanut Butter Honeycomb Pie. (how the heck do you cut that?)

ba momofuke crack pie

Momofuku's interestingly named Crack Pie.

b.a. rhubarb gingersnap icebox pie

b.a. strawberry pie with chamomile currant glaze

Not just a big pile of strawberries but the Strawberry Pie with Chamomile and Currant Glaze.

b.a. lime blackberry italian meringue pie

The beautiful and amazing Lime and Blackberry Italian Meringue Pie.

fwMinny's Chocolate Pie

And not to leave out Food and Wine's August issue with Minny's Chocolate Pie.


Which Pie Would You Like to See Made?
Food and Wine Minny's Chocolate Pie
bon appetit lime blackberry italian meringue pie
bon appetit strawberry pie with chamomile currant glaze
bon appetit rhubarb gingersnap icebox pie
bon appetit peanut butter honeycomb pie
bon appetit stone fruit lattice pie
bon appetit no bake chocolate raspberry cream pie
momofuke crack pie free polls

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Summer Harvest Continues

The Blast Furnace that has been the Summer of 2011 has finally broken here in the Midwest. Sadly drastic damage has been and continues to be done to America's breadbasket. It's a bizarre mix of disasters, receding flood waters and bone dry crops. Don't be surprised if you see higher beef and bread prices come this fall. Tomato picking has been slim. Luckily for me, house sitting duties include cashing in on the weekly CSA. There were just enough tomatoes to make the second of bon appétit's tomato recipes, Tomato and Cheddar Pie.


I was looking forward to making this dish. Tomatoes and sharp cheddar cheese all melty and warm nestled deep in a pie crust?

tomato 3

Fairly easy to make as long as you let your tomatoes drain well enough. If not, you'll end up tomato soup pie. However there was a little hitch in this addition to Pie-A-Pooluza and that would be the herb dill. Dill is not an herb I use as frequently as say, basil or rosemary so I didn't really think about the fact that the recipe called for two tablespoons worth of dill.

tomato pie1

Nor did I realize how jarring the taste of sharp cheddar cheese and dill would be together. It's like putting cilantro in a dish and serving it to someone who is virulently anti-cilantro. You know it has to be bad if I suffer through one slice and immediately start planning on company fridge for the rest of the pie's final resting place.

tomato pie2

If you're a big fan of dill, I know where you can get a big ole heaping serving, gratis. I hate to see this go to waste.

OK, That was too Easy


Saturday, August 13, 2011

Monday, August 8, 2011

Summer's Bounty

I had been doing really well with my struggle with Food Magazine Addiction (Foozing for short) but bon appétit crushed my will power with this August issue cover. Holy mac and cheese, look at that pie!! Pie and a blt? You know I couldn't resist.

August BA

The pies (peanut butter honeycomb or lime & blackberry Italian meringue) will have to wait until sufficient time has passed for me to recover from peach soufflés and peach ice cream before I crank up another sweet dessert. No, what really caught my eye was the article about tomatoes. It contained at least three recipes I just had to make. The first was the Tomato Terrine. If you've been overrun by your garden's tomato plants, this is the recipe for you.


Of course it involved peeling six pounds of tomatoes so if you're tomato boiling and peeling adverse, maybe not. Then there's the filleting of the six pounds of tomatoes. And the straining of the seeds, making the broth, chilling and layering the tomatoes.

tomato terrine3

I will admit, it is work intensive. But for me, it was worth it. Now I'm sure some good folks out there are reaching for the queasy button because historically, gelatin has resulted in some interesting creations.

See, this is why I could never get a man, my inability to make gelatin desserts with nipples or...

...agree to gelatin Quickies.

Still I would give this recipe a chance. The stock is incredibly flavorful and the resulting dish is a wonderfully cool accompaniment to grilled fish.

tomato terrine1

I will say that I might change up the recipe a bit next time. I would probably use a loaf pan that's a little tall than wider and make a little bit more stock and use 2 tablespoons of gelatin. When cutting my layers split apart but with more gelatin stock and chilling after each layer might fix that. Other than that the flavor is a knockout.

tomato terrine2

Do we all scream for Ice Cream?

Did you know that Americans, on average, eat about 20 quarts of ice cream a year. They eat it, they buy it and they make it themselves either by the old hand crank/rock salt method or they have a fancy schmancy machine that does all the churning and hard work for them. They also roll it around in a ball that doesn't look much different than a dog toy.

I, however, am not the typical ice cream consuming American. There is no bucket of ice cream in my freezer, no late night cravings for a scoop or two of Moose Tracks. No drowning my sorrows in a bowl of Chunky Monkey. But this does make me the perfect roommate because I will never eat the last spoonful of your precious hidden behind the frozen peas. Even the bacon ice cream is all yours.

So it was with a skeptical eye that I looked at Virginia Willis' cooking challenge this week. Not one or two but FIVE different ice creams. I considered taking a pass. Not only am I not a big fan of ice cream, I have no machine with which to make it in. But then I got to googling and found David Liebovitz's method for making ice cream without a machine. Hmmmmmm. I do happen to like peach ice cream. Could I make this work and take a decent picture of the results? (As if last week's souffle challenge wasn't enough???)

peach ice cream 1

So I took Virginia's recipe for peach ice cream, halved it (because I'm not going to eat 7 cups of ice cream by myself) and took some suggestions from David Liebovitz's blog on making ice cream at home, mainly by adding a bit of alcohol to keep the ice cream from freezing rock hard. So in went a smidgen of peach brandy to soften it up. Making ice cream involves making a custard. Or it means making scrambled eggs if you don't temper your egg yolk mixture carefully enough. Yes, I speak from experience but it is a learning experience. It's also an exercise in getting the right consistency. David's method could easily lapse into into the ice crystal zone if you don't have a creamy enough custard to begin with and if you don't mix the ice cream enough in the freezing process. As for the photography process, ice cream is one of those items that old school professional food photographers use quite a bit of cheats. Things like substituting mashed potatoes for ice cream. The one trick I did use was to pre-scoop my ice cream and cover a sheet pan with plastic wrap and re-freeze the scoops. I think that's an old Martha Stewart trick but you can ask Virginia since she actually worked for Martha.

peach ice cream 2

The end result was a lovely creamy peach ice cream which would have cost me a fortune in the grocery store if I could find one that carried a decent tasting peach ice cream. So if you've got a ice cream machine or the old hand churn and energetic kids to churn it, definitely try one of Virginia or David's homemade ice cream recipes. Me? I'm going back to making a hearty BLT.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Project Stuffed Peppers

As long-time Karmic Kitchen readers know, I am not a pepper fan. Not spicy, not mild, not even pickled. The only way my mom could get me to eat them as a kid was to stuff them with meat and then cover with a tomato sauce. Even then there would be pepper carcasses left on my plate. So I got to wondering if I could trick myself into making peppers more palatable ? But how to do that? Stuff them, yes, good idea, but with what? Of course, my go to comfort food, mac and cheese!

mini macs

So the challenge I set for myself was to make a tasty mac and cheese stuffed pepper. First the pasta. The interior of a pepper is not huge. The pasta I would normally use seemed too large for my purposes. Luckily there are some mini-pastas out there that would work better. The two pieces of pasta in the middle are a normal size while the surrounding are minis. I decided on the mini-shells. Next I had to choose my peppers.


I could of gone normal size but I really like the size of the mini-peppers. They seem sweeter, less pepper-tasting than the full sized. Oh yeah and NO GREEN PEPPERS. Sorry green pepper lovers. Find your pepper porn somewhere else. So I've got my peppers and pasta, time to put it all together. I decided to try Cook's Illustrated Classic Macaroni and Cheese recipe. I've never had the need to test their recipe out because I like my own mac and cheese. However I was intrigued enough to give theirs a twirl. We all know what a CI geek I am but when it comes to mac and cheese, the good folks at the Test Kitchen seem to be lost in a sea of cheese. They can't seem to find their way to a truly classic mac and cheese. It's not their cheese choices or their béchamel sauce but it's their insistence to not bake the final dish, opting only to broil the topping for 3 minutes. What you're left with is a much more soupy dish than the classic pasta casserole. I have no idea what they ate as a kid but it wasn't my momma's mac and cheese.

stuffed peppers 2

Still I stuffed my peppers with it because once you get started on a creation, you should finish it. I had par-boiled my peppers to make them a little more pliable in the final dish and topped each with butter toasted Panko crumbs mixed with finely chopped bacon bits. You really didn't think I was going to leave out the bacon did you? Silly rabbits....

stuffed peppers 1

The taste was pretty good, the contrast of the rich cheesiness and the distinctly sweet pepper flavor was actually kinda fun. Here's what I discovered with the leftover mac and cheese that didn't go into the peppers. Put it in a baking dish, put on the same crumb topping, put it in a 350 degree oven for 25 minutes and it came out much better than the stove top only version. Still needs a little more cheese flavor but I'm still taking it for lunch tomorrow.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Summertime Cooking

ON SALE, 99 cents a pint, limit 3 pints. Blueberries on sale? A buck a pint? Be still my fruit loving heart. I could make pie again or...I could try something new. I had come across a recipe for blueberry butter prowling around the web. You know, like apple butter but for blueberries. All that you need is a big pile of blueberries, some sugar and spices and your trusty crockpot. The instructions can be found at the Pick Your Own blog.

bowl of blueberries

These were pretty nice blueberries too. From New Jersey I think. Nine pints of fruit slowly cooked in the crockpot resulting in ten little jars of Blueberry Butter.

blueberry butter

But what to use it with first? Luckily the culinary godmother has sent me a recipe that seemed to be perfect for the occasion....Bacon-Jalapeño Cornbread.

skillet cornbread 2

Lord knows I've got the cast iron skillet and the bacon goes without saying. And yes, I did put the jalapeños in despite my reluctance but I figured the bacon would rule the cornbread.

skillet cornbread 1

cornbread and blueberry butter2

(OK, so I went really light on the jalapeños, sue me.)

cornbread and blueberry butter

The blueberry butter turned out well, nice and thick but I think next time I'll use one of the lower sugar content versions. I didn't get as much of the blueberry flavor that I wanted but the constituency is just right. It would be great in some thick Greek yogurt or slopped on a biscuit. Or bacon jalapeño cornbread. But if you're going to run the crockpot for twelve hours in the middle of a brutal two week heat wave, set it out in the garage because the ac bill is going to be high enough as it is and no pile of 99 cent blueberries will save you.