Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Bacon cornmeal waffles (p. 647)

Bacon cornmeal waffles (p. 647). Mmmmm....even the name sounds delicious.

This recipe is essentially the same as the basic cornmeal waffle recipe but includes everyone's favorite meat product, BACON.

I'm not going to go into much detail in this post because it's already been covered in the previous post on cornmeal waffles.

I mixed buttermilk, butter, maple syrup, and egg yolks together in one bowl, flour, cornmeal, baking powder, salt, and baking soda in another bowl, and I combined them (Don't overmix! Overmixing is your enemy!).

I whipped egg whites and folded them into the batter:

TJOC give a couple of options for how to incorporate the bacon. You can either place the bacon on top of the batter:

Or crumble it and mix it INTO the batter:

I do realize that not everyone can have a waffle iron as amazing as the one I got for my mother at a garage sale:

But hopefully you have a waffle iron that works just as well.

The waffles were good but they weren't as amazing as I wanted them to be. Granted, I wanted fireworks to explode, dogs to howl, and random strangers to break in to dance, so maybe my expectations should have been lower. Make sure to crisp your bacon as much as possible because floppy bacon is your enemy in this recipe. I thought the waffles with the bacon incorporated were better than the ones with the bacon just sitting on the top of the waffle.

There is something extra delicious about cornmeal waffles. Or maybe there is something extra delicious about cornmeal in general. These waffles are sweet enough that they don't need added maple syrup (which I don't like anyway) but not so sweet that they taste like a dessert. And they are certainly easy to make.

So, dearest readers, I have two questions for you:
1. Waffles or pancakes? Which do you prefer? There is an active debate going on the TJOTJOC Facebook page.

2. What is your favorite waffle topping? I just like butter on mine.

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Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Tomato and mozzarella salad (insalata Caprese) (p. 169) and Baked fish fillets in white wine (p. 397)

Both of my parents are huge proponents of Tomato and mozzarella salad (insalata Caprese) (p. 169). When my father and I went to Rome in 2003 he ordered Caprese at every restaurant we ate at (I ordered tiramisu everywhere, so it was really only the middle of the meal that differed). I consider myself well-versed in Caprese salad because it's a simple way to use tomatoes if you have an over-producing garden.

So when I noticed that my mother not only had a ball of mozzarella in the fridge but also a few nice tomatoes and some garden basil I know it would be the perfect dish to make.

I arranged slices of tomato and mozzarella on a plate. I sprinkled it with basil and drizzled olive oil over the top and it was finished:

It was every bit as simple and delicious as I expected it to be. The creaminess of the cheese, the tang of the tomato, and the spicy basil complemented each other perfectly. Caprese salad is summer on a plate.

Mom had defrosted fish so I decided to make Baked fish fillets in white wine (p. 397). I'll confess that I don't particularly like wine so I wasn't very excited about this recipe.

I took my fish fillets, laid them in a greased baking dish, and poured white wine over the top.

That's it.


That's the whole recipe.

I put the fish into the oven for a half hour, seasoned it with salt and pepper, and it was done:

Bland and boring (although very easy). The fish picked up strange floral notes from the wine, which I didn't like, and needed a lot more flavor. It wasn't bad enough not to eat but it certainly wasn't something I would make again.

Random trivia:
  • Insalata Caprese is traditionally made with buffalo mozzarella, which is made from the milk of the water buffalo (Wikipedia)
  • Caprese refers to the island of Capri, a place I really, really want to visit.

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Saturday, August 20, 2011

Barbecued spareribs II (p. 505)

Assuming you are reading this before September 9th, be sure to vote for TJOTJOC as Denver's Most Valuable Blog! You can vote daily!

Ribs are so much cheaper in Iowa than they are in Colorado. Incredibly cheaper. I stumbled upon spareribs for $1.99 a pound! So cheap. I thought they would be perfect for Barbecued spareribs II (p. 505).

The ribs were St. Louis-style spareribs, which means that the "rib tips" have been removed. You can always tell the difference between sparerib types because SLS spareribs always look squared off. Back ribs (or baby back ribs) are from the more dorsal part of the animal, closer to the spine, while the spareribs are from further down, closer to the belly. (And there in your meat science education for the day)

I rubbed the ribs with southern barbecue dry rub and refridgerated them for a few hours:

They went into a roasting pan:

I popped the ribs in the oven for about 35 minutes (less than TJOC asks for), flipped them, and baked them for another 40 minutes:

These ribs were DELICIOUS. They were fork tender, flavorful, and amazing. In the past, I never really understood eating ribs that were "dry" (cooked with just a rub) rather than "wet" (cooked with barbecue sauce) but these were absolutely amazing. In fact, they were so good that we ran right back out and got another rack of them for a future meal.

So what are your favorite type of ribs? Pork or beef? Spareribs or back ribs? Do you like rib tips or consider that a marketing ploy? Inquiring minds want to know!

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Thursday, August 18, 2011

Denver's Most Valuable Blogger Nomination!

Dearest readers,
Big news! I have been nominated as "Denver's Most Valuable Blogger"! It's incredibly exciting! I really want to win. Please vote for me! It's a daily vote and I will love you forever if you vote every day (or, frankly, at all). And feel free, nay, feel encouraged, to forward this link to everyone you know!

I will reward you all by posting at least one new post every other day. I like to think that is a reward.

And follow/contact me on:
Twitter: @tjotjoc

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Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Spanish omelet (p. 201) and French omelet (rolled or folded) (p. 200)

When I'm at my mom's house I always try to make at least one recipe that I know mom would like but that Josh or I wouldn't like. Spanish omelet (p. 201) was definitely a recipe on that list because I don't like one of the main ingredients (bell peppers).

I sliced potatoes (straight out of my dad's garden) as thinly as I could manage. I submerged them in a half cup of olive oil (a HALF CUP? Is TJOC kidding?) and cooked them for about 20 minutes:

At the same time, I cooked onion and bell pepper (yellow and red, we didn't have green) in a little bit of olive oil for 5 minutes:

I then added garlic, tomato, and salt and pepper:

The whole thing was cooked for another 15 minutes. I added the potatoes:

It smelled amazing at this point--and I don't even like peppers! So it was on to the French omelet (rolled or folded) (p. 200). I melted butter in a pan. In a bowl, I beat eggs, salt, and pepper together until it was a uniform color. I poured the egg mixture into the hot pan:

This was all so stressful it was almost impossible to take pictures. I had to continuously shake the pan while swirling a fork around the eggs so it could cook through (you don't flip it). I then put the filling in the omelet, tilted the pan, folded one end over, and then tilted the pan more, and folded the omelet the rest of the way, resulting in a rolled omelet:

That was my first try, so it was a little overcooked. Okay, it was a lot overcooked. I know the omelet shouldn't be so brown (or brown at all). You have to move really fast while making these omelets and have everything ready from your utensils to your plate.

I have to say, learning to make an omelet has been on of the greatest things I've learned from TJOTJOC. Until this project, my omelets always looked like scrambled eggs with stuff in them. Now, they are obviously omelets. With a little more practice I think I could make impressive omelets and that thrills me! I filled my omelet with sauteed mushrooms and garlic and it was delicious, too. Mom said that the Spanish omelet was incredibly good--the flavors melded really well together and it was the perfect choice for summer, since it was so vegetable-y. My recommendation would be to use less oil, because there was way, way, way too much olive oil. The omelet filling was swimming in it.

Random facts:
  • An omelet cooks in less than a minute (On Food and Cooking, p. 91)
  • The word "omelette" comes from the Latin "lamella" meaning a thin plate (On Food and Cooking, p. 91)

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Sunday, August 14, 2011

FRIED BUTTER! At the Iowa State Fair

I have to preface this post by pointing out that I love the Iowa State Fair. I grew up in Iowa and have great memories of the state fair. I try to get back for it every year. The Iowa State Fair is over 150 years old and gets over a million visitors every year. It also features something like 60 foods available on sticks.

Every year, the state fair try to up the ante. And this year, a vendor at the Iowa State Fair started offering fried butter. Yes, fried butter.

I knew I had to try it.

I love trying strange food items, like the Mc1035.

There was only a small sign advertising the fried butter but a large line of people waiting for it when I showed up Thursday, the first day of the Iowa State Fair.

It appeared to be about a stick or so of butter, heavily battered in a cinnamon/sugar mixture, with frosting of some sort on the top:

Of course, since it was hot and fried, the butter melted and ran out. So it was like eating the fried outside of a food that was missing it's insides.

My friend Nicole got delicious cheese curds--for some reason she didn't feel like eating a stick of butter.

But I forced her to try the fried butter, too.

We only ate about four bites of it because it was really...odd. I can't say I'd get it again. But the shell was tasty and I do love butter. It wasn't nearly as buttery as you would expect, the sweet batter really overpowered the butter. But I'm glad I got it--now I can say I've eaten fried butter!

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Thursday, August 4, 2011

Creamy cucumber salad (p. 167)

Summer is usually full of overproducing vegetable gardens for many people. Those people (often totally sick of most of the vegetables growing at such an alarming clip) are usually willing to share, often leading to me having a lot of vegetables (a great problem to have!). Mom had a bunch of cucumbers and was getting a little tired of them. I thought that Creamy cucumber salad (p. 167) might be a nice step off the beaten path.

I tossed sliced cucumbers and salt together in a colander and let it stand (and drain) for almost an hour:

I pressed the cucumber but didn't rinse the salt off (which seemed very strange). I added sour cream and lemon juice and tossed it:

At this point I sprinkled a little basil on the top and it was finished!

This was easy and surprisingly good. The saltiness cut the acidity in the sour cream nicely. It was different than my normal preparations for cucumbers. I really recommend this recipe when you are at the point of summer where you can't imagine eating even one more cucumber.

I have to say, I hate draining cucumbers. Does it really make that big of a difference if you don't? Does anyone know?

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