A classic!

This is a recipe that I’ve been eating for, well, as long as I can remember – I’m not even sure where the recipe came from, so I’m just going to type it out for you here. I have to say, though, this is one of those recipes that will depend on a lot of things – if your pan is smaller, I’d add some sugar to the pancake batter part of it and bake it for a bit longer; if the pan’s bigger, I’d leave it as is; I bet it’d work with a different fruit, too.

It’s not photogenic, but here it is:

Apple/Large Skillet Pancake

  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 apples (Granny Smith), peeled and sliced

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Mix the first three ingredients together with a whisk. Set aside. Melt the butter in a large oven-safe pan. Add the cinnamon, sugar, and apples and saute approximately 5 minutes in a large skillet or until the apples are softened. Pour the pancake batter over the apple mixture and bake in the 425 degree oven for 15 minutes (the top of the pancake should look dry). Remove from oven and let stand for 5 minutes. Dust powdered sugar and cut into wedges to serve.

Serves approximately 4.

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In which I am a terrible vegetarian, Or, fish guilt ahoy!

So, even though I advertise myself as a vegetarian, a few times a year, I get an unavoidable craving for seafood. And because I am weak, I give in and then am saddled with fish guilt for a few months…until the next craving settles in. Today’s slip was caused by the enabler that is Ina Garten and her lobster pot pie. Because in addition to not eating meat, I also don’t eat pot pies. Because I don’t like them (I think it’s the unnatural orange of the carrots and also maybe the sludgy sort of texture). But for some reason, when Ina made her lobster pot pie, my immediate reaction was ‘MUST HAVE.’

But because I live in central Illinois, the only lobster to be had in the market is the live ones in the tank which make me sad and almost put me off my seafood craving. There was frozen, cooked shrimp in the freezer section – and the organic ones, which I like to think means that they had a very nice little castle in their roomy tank to look at before they were humanely and quickly…well, you know – and that put me back on track.

However, I think I’m going to have to chalk this up to a waste of fish guilt because it turns out I really don’t like pot pies. Too rich, too…creamy, too smoodgy. Blech! Which is a first for an Ina recipe, but I don’t think it’s her fault, really. I mean, aesthetically, I could appreciate the flavors (and the pearl onions were a nice touch), it’s just the whole pot pie-ness of the pot pie.

At the last minute, I also ended up making her dill fingerling potatoes (but with cilantro because I didn’t have any dill) and even though some of them ended up a bit undercooked, they were really, really tasty – I’ll definitely be making these again. And now I’m going to go have a piece of the lime coconut cake and try not to think about the pot pie and the poor shrimps who died for it.

So…vegetarian friends, can you forgive me?

Tropical yumminess!

Even though it is well into March and is also technically spring, the weather here is being typical Illinois spring weather (i.e., it’s snowing today). So I thought I’d take a page from Smitten Kitchen‘s blog and make a tropical dessert to try and dispel the spring winter blues. Despite its use of a Controversial Ingredient, I decided to go with her Key Lime Coconut Cake. And it is definitely a good use of the CI. I don’t know if it’s because it’s toasted, eliminating its cuticle texture, or what, but it’s a very nice addition to the sweet tanginess of the lime – sort of sweet and toasty and crunchy. And I think it helps keep the cake very nice and moist, too, which is always a welcome side effect.

I had a couple of substitutions to make as there were no key limes to be had around here and I also did a combination of cream (which I had on hand for another recipe which should hopefully be making an appearance here later today) and 1% milk to try and make whole milk. And everything seemed to come together just fine! So, yes, definitely a success – yum!

Fiction

The Thin Man by Dashiell Hammett

After reading and enjoying The Maltese Falcon and discovering that Dashiell Hammett was the creator of the fabulous Nick and Nora Charles, I decided to move on to The Thin Man. And I liked it! I think I found it a little more confusing than The Maltese Falcon – there were lots of characters who ended up being important but who only appeared on the page maybe once or twice, though the explanation at the end was good (except for the parenthetical asides about how things turned out which I found kind of odd). There were lots of suspects, though, and I, like Nick and Nora Charles, kept going back and forth between who I thought had dunnit only to be taken completely by surprise by the actual solution. I wish there had been a bit more of Nora Charles, though – she sort of fades into the background for the second half of the novel or so, but when she’s there with Nick, she’s very likable – and clever, too, which is nice to see, especially in a hard-boiled detective novel.

I think the most impressive thing about the novel, even moreso than Nick’s detective skills, is the couple’s ability to drink! Honestly, I wasn’t sure how anyone was still on their feet, let alone solving a murder mystery! But I guess it was another time full of speakeasys and glittery cocktail parties.

My rating: B+

An intersting side note: Toward the end there, I was trying to read very quickly so I could move onto my next book (I’m not telling you what it is until I’ve read it, but I fully expect that it will be made entirely of win and awesome) only to be thwarted by this:

What’s that, you ask? That is the remains of pages 139-140 and 141-142. Missing from my copy of the book! Fortunately I was able to find another copy here at my parents’ house and finish the book, but it was still a little confusing there for a few minutes. Weird! I’ll definitely be heading back to B&N to get a complete copy tomorrow…

Help me make a decision!

So. I have decided that I want to learn an instrument. A stringed instrument. I was sat behind the double bass at the BACH concert last weekend and it was…AWESOME! So I really want to learn the double bass. But signs are pointing me toward the cello…quite strongly. So I decided to make pro/con lists – one for the cello and one for the double bass – and share them with you.

Cello Double Bass
Pro Con Pro Con
1. Costs $25/mo. to rent 1. Lots of people play it 1. Has an air of the absurd about it 1. Cannot be rented within a 30-mile radius
2. Sexy – like librarian sexy 2. Is snooty (don’t ask me why) 2. Carny chic (apparently) 2. Cannot take lessons within a 30-mile radius
3. Will fit in my car 3. Can play in orchestra 3. Will not fit in my car
4. Lessons are conveniently located near where I work 4. Fewer people play it so it will matter less if I suck 4. Can play in jazz combo
5. Can play in orchestra 5. Really just 1-4-5-1 5. Really just 1-4-5-1
6. Can play in string quartet 6. I will look slightly less ridiculously huge next to it
7. Lots of good solo music 7. I REALLY WANT TO!

So…fill out my poll and help me choose!

March Daring Bakers Challenge!

The March 2009 challenge is hosted by Mary of Beans and Caviar, Melinda of Melbourne Larder and Enza of Io Da Grande. They have chosen Lasagne of Emilia-Romagna from The Splendid Table by Lynne Rossetto Kasper as the challenge.

I have to admit that I wasn’t too sure about this challenge – savoury baking? What?! But I was intrigued by attempting to make my own noodles and it actually turned out to be a fairly relaxed challenge. Mostly because lasagna is a fairly forgiving product – it doesn’t matter if your noodles tear or if things are lumpy, there’s really not much you can do that makes it taste bad and it’s not really a high-design product (though I’m sure if you click through the other Daring Baker blogs, you’ll find some gorgeous representations – Tartelette, I’m looking at you!). I totally cheated and waited until the next day when we were eating it as leftovers and it was cold from the fridge to photograph it, allowing me to show the layers – otherwise, it was exactly as the recipe warned us – very slippery and unsturdy.

It was not nearly as tricky as I thought it would be – I was particularly intimidated by the rolling/stretching instructions. I knew that the noodles had to be very, very thin and I wasn’t sure if, without a noodle machine, I had the ability (or the patience) to pull it off. But I did! The ragu turned out very tasty – we weren’t provided with a veggie version, so I just Googled and used this one instead (no, I don’t know what you’re supposed to do with the other 4T of butter or the 4T of olive oil…). My bechamel worked, too – in fact, all of the elements came together very nicely.

But I’m not sure I liked it. I think it was just a bit too rich for me – and there’s something in there that’s sort of sweet as an afterthought and I’m not sure what it is, but I find it a little unsettling. But that may just be me – my mom particularly liked it (my dad doesn’t like mushrooms, so his opinion doesn’t really count). So, yes, a successful, though probably not to be repeated challenge.

I think our blogroll isn’t up quite yet, but click on our new logo and head over to our brand new, sparkly website and have a look around!

p.s. – Hopefully the next Daring Bakers challenge will be completed in my newly remodeled kitchen – cross your fingers for me!

When in doubt, add whipped cream…

I think this is the first recipe I’ve ever made from 101 Cookbooks – her ingredients are always very exotic and/or organic and very intimidating. But for some reason this one struck a chord with me even though I can’t really explain why. I guess it’s because I’ve never found a good scone recipe – I mean, there are plenty of good recipes for American scones, but I always find that they’re far too sandy. I’m looking for something that’s more somewhere between a biscuit (the American kind) and a piece of cake – sweet, and most, but with that sort of sturdy denseness that a biscuit has.

For an American scone, the maple syrup scone was perfectly good though I wished that he maple flavor had been more prominent – I really couldn’t taste it at all. And I don’t know if it was something I did – and I did have to add even more cream than she called for to get the dough to come together – but they were very crumbly and sandy. Though that’s easily solved by serving it with an immense amount of whipped cream. How can you go wrong?!