Tonight my mom and I had my godparents over for dinner. The menu was roasted salmon, salad, and cauliflower rice. That last dish is something that I make once in a while when A and I are in full on “healthy eating” mode. It’s surprisingly tasty, but kind of a pain to make. I thought I’d share the recipe here.
Today’s Awesome Thing Is:Thursday Night Smackdown
What is it? It’s a blog! A cooking blog!
Why I Think It’s Awesome: Take your average cooking blog. Now add a load of sardonic humor, some snarky comments, and the “occasional” well-used curse word. Voila! You have Thursday Night Smackdown (TNS). The author is named Michelle. She started blogging as a way to document her culinary forays into the odd and wonderful world of her unused cookbook collection. Each Thursday, she or her husband would choose a recipe from the collection, and she would try cooking it. Her posts run the emotional gambit and touch me in many different ways, from inspiring me to try a new recipe, to cracking me up, and making me melt a little. I also have mad respect for Michelle, because she has bipolar disorder, which sometimes makes it really hard for her to handle everyday situations with aplomb*. However she doesn’t hide it: she just puts the facts out there and says, “yeah, I’m feeling like crap right now. I’ll be back when I can.” I respect that kind of honesty. So, for excellent writing, interesting food, and sarcasm galore, check out Thursday Night Smackdown. It’s awesome!
A few weekends ago, I started cleaning out my fridge. I found a box of grapes that had been in there a while. They weren’t moldy though. Just kind of wrinkled. I had no major plans for that day and it was a little cold. In the past, I’ve considered making raisins from similar grapes, so I decided that it would be a good day to give it a try. It’s actually pretty easy. First, you put an evenly-spaced layer of grapes onto a baking sheet. In this picture, they’re on paper towel for visibility. I spread them out more before baking:
Then, you put your oven on “warm”, and put the grapes in for… several hours. I checked on them every 45-minutes or so. The first time I checked on them, they looked pretty puffed up, but hadn’t split to let the juice out–so I poked each grape with a knife. Approximately once every hour and a half, I’d pull the baking sheet out of the oven and turn each grape/raisin over to make sure no side got burned.
Some of the original grapes were more dehydrated than the rest, so they got “done” first. I took them off the sheet, and put them into a bowl to show the result:
In the end, an entire bunch of grapes baked down to only 1/2 cup of raisins. But they’re tasty! I finally understand why grapes are a brown-purple too. It’s because the sugar in the grapes gets caramelized in the making. At least, if you bake your grapes into raisins.
I’m planning on doing this again with grapes that are sitting in my fridge chilling out right now. It’s the grape trio from Trader Joe’s, so I’ll end up with three kinds of raisins. (I’m thinking I’ll make oatmeal raisin cookies with them. Yum!) I might also try sun drying some raisins later this year if the summer is hot enough. We’ll have to see what happens though! The weather gods were sending England’s weather our way last year. If they get up to the same shenanigans this year, all bets of sun are off!
To celebrate the start of September, and the (soon to come) end of summer, I baked a batch of Cook’s Illustrated’s blueberry muffins. The recipe developed by Yvonne Ruperti makes large, bakery style muffins that are moist, tender and full of blueberry flavor. Honestly, every time I make them, I end up thinking, “Wow, I really made that?”
These muffins take a little more effort to make than your average muffin, but they’re worth it. The secret is, essentially, to make a batch of blueberry jam to swirl into the batter before baking.
If you want to make someone feel special, cheer up your co-workers, or just have a hankering for a darn tasty pastry, I suggest you give this recipe a try. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.
I’ve asked for permission to reprint the recipe. Until and unless I get the okay, you can find the recipe here.
Last Friday, I went to a cooking class at Gourmandise Desserts with my boyfriend and a friend from work. It was a lot of fun. If anyone is interested in cooking French desserts, you might want to give their class schedule a look!
During the course of the three-hour class, we learned how to make truffles, toffee, and marshmallows. Not bad, right? Everyone was sent home with boxes of treats, a book of recipes, and some priceless knowledge. (For example: makes sure that if you decide to mix your toffee with a spatula, that the spatula is heatproof. Whoops!)
The picture of the final result really doesn’t do the truffles justice. They look pretty nice in person! Still, it gives you an idea of what they’re like… right?