Sunday, September 26, 2010

Project Food Blog 2010: The Classics - Rouladen & Kartoffelklösse

First of all, my deepest thanks for those that voted for me during the first challenge.
For this second round of Project Food Blog 2010 the challenge is to tackle a classic dish from another culture that is outside our comfort zone or that we are less familiar with. The goal is to keep the dish as authentic as the real dish.


Rouladen & Kartoffelkösse - PFB


I talk fast and I read fast in both English and French so when I read the challenge details I was naturally excited at the thought to make a classic dish - but then after re-reading the paragraph I realized that it had to be OUTSIDE my comfort zone. This was going to require some thought. If we back track a little, I'm originally from Trinidad & Tobago an island the size of Rhode Island in the Caribbean. My mom made dishes with her spin from around the world so I was already acquainted with certain dishes; I attended university in  Atlanta where I had the good fortune to be surrounded by students from a myriad of countries all of whom were quite proud to show me their cooking skills.

While living in Atlanta I met not only my hubby but also one of my dearest friends - Peter who is German. We had lots in common including a healthy appreciation for good food; however we always circumnavigated any discussion about German food, until one day I asked him to make me a German dish; he hesitated for a while and months passed. After months of pestering he said ok and made me a dish called Rouladen with Potato dumplings. Definitely not an explosion of flavors but it was delicious his company was great it was a memorable night.

PFB Challenge #2 Dumplings


Fast forward to the challenge, I thought of Peter and then of my current situation, in my team at work there are several Germans, all of whom I appreciate greatly and for me it was a natural decision that I make a German dish for this challenge. True, the level of complexity is low but the key would be to recreate a feeling that I had after having dinner with Peter, and the excitement that one of my German colleagues had when I told her what I was doing.


German food may not be fancy but it is comforting, and on a cold, dreary rainy day like today, it was a dish that was most certainly welcomed. We naturally served this with a German white wine.
PFB Challenge #2 - Wine


Rouladen  is a meat roll usually consisting of bacon, onions, mustard and pickles wrapped in thinly sliced beef which is then cooked.  Kartoffelklösse or Potato dumplings are slightly softer than traditional dumplings but they have a higher ratio of potato to flour.

PFB Challenge # 2 - Rouladen ready to cook


Rouladen


  • 6 slices top round
  • 3 slices lean bacon
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 3 garlic dill pickles, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp. butter
  •  mustard, salt, pepper, corn starch
  •  1 - 2 cups water

 Season beef slices with salt and freshly ground pepper. Thinly spread mustard on top of each slice.
 Divide bacon, pickle, and onion slices on one end of each slice.
 Roll up slices, tucking the ends in and securing with skewers, wooden cocktail picks, or thread.
 Heat butter in skillet. Brown rouladen well on all sides. Do not crowd rouladen in skillet, or they will not brown nicely. Do in small batches if necessary. Add extra butter if needed.
 Once all rouladen are well browned, add 1 - 2 cups of hot water, gently stirring up browned bits. Return all rouladen and any accumulated juices to skillet, bring to simmer and cover for about 1 1/2 hours
 Remove rouladen. To thicken gravy, combine about 1-2 tbsp. corn starch in a little cold water and stir gently into cooking liquid until slightly thickened.
 Season gravy to taste with salt and freshly ground pepper. If you wish, add sour cream to the gravy.
 Remove skewers, picks, or thread to serve rouladen with their gravy.

Kartoffelklösse 

Kartoffelklösse are traditionally served alongside a Roast with gravy or with Sauerbraten and Rotkohl. Leftover potato dumplings can be enjoyed the following day thickly sliced and sautéed in butter.
  • 1 kg / 2 lbs of starchy potatoes
  • 2 teaspoons of salt
  • ¼ teaspoon of freshly grated nutmeg
  • ½ cup of plain white flour
  • 1 egg
Scrub and rinse the potatoes well and place in a large saucepan of cold water. Bring the unpeeled potatoes to the boil, add salt and simmer the potatoes for around 35 minutes or until they are just tender. Drain the potatoes and cool them slightly -just enough so that you can handle them. You should now be able to peel the skins away from the flesh of the potatoes with your bare hands. Once all the potatoes are peeled, cut them into even-sized pieces and refrigerate until cold. The potatoes can be prepared the previous day, if desired.
Mash the potatoes with a fork or mashing tool in a large bowl. Mix in the salt and freshly grated nutmeg. Add half a cup of flour and mix to combine. With your hands knead the mixture in the bowl until a smooth soft dough forms, add more flour by the tablespoon if the dough remains sticky. Combine one beaten egg with the mixture.

In a large saucepan of salted simmering water, almost boiling, poach the completed dumplings in batches of 4 to 5. Do not place more than 4 to 5 dumplings in the pot at any one time - to prevent them from sticking together or touching during cooking, which could cause them to fall apart!
Cook the dumplings for 10 to 15 minutes or until the dumplings rise to the surface. Remove and drain each of the Kartoffelklösse with a slotted spoon into a serving dish. Keep the dish covered to conserve heat while the remaining dumplings are cooked.
(Serves 4 to 6)

Sunday, September 19, 2010

PFB Challenge # 1 - My Family, My Blog

What is PFB ? Project Food Blog is the first-ever interactive competition where thousands of Foodbuzz Featured Publishers are competing in a series of culinary blogging challenges for the chance to advance and a shot at the ultimate prize: $10,000 and a special feature on Foodbuzz.com for one year.

The first challenge is to define yourself as a food blogger and why you should be the next food blog star?

What defines me as a food blogger ? The same thing that makes me stay up until 2am and then get  back up again at 6am - my family.

T-Shirt Cookies

When I decided to start my blog, the one person in the world that knew about it was my hubby , the same one that keeps all my secrets and knows what my deepest dreams are.  Instead of scoffing at me for wanting to join the sea of bloggers that already exists he said "Great idea, go for it, you will be great !" Was he aware that he was agreeing to eat slightly warm food as the plates needed to be photographed first? , that some of our menus would be dictated by some of the challenges that I would take part in, that we would spend most of our 7th wedding anniversary at the very first Paris CupcakeCamp? With his blessing that I would be spending sacred hours of our time either in the kitchen or behind the computer ,my blog was born.

Chocolate Passion

I love food, I always have. Most would say that its normal considering the fact that my mom is an excellent cook. I have very fond memories of us always having something new and different to eat, my mom is famous among her nieces and nephews for her cooking and after looking at her in the kitchen it was normal that some of it would rub off on me. Most kids when they want something are on their best behavior, me, I would make dinner as a surprise or a cake. One of the things that eases me when I'm stressed or tired is to browse cookbooks (paper or online) to get ideas for meals, dishes, to create an experience , a future dinner - this calms me :)

After having kids, I was and still am adamant that my kids have the same food background that I had, that they know what fresh fruits, vegetables taste like and that they know what a whole fish looks like. My son is not a fruit lover, he hates fruits period, BUT he knows what all of their names are and how you eat them. He can tell you the names of cheeses that he can't stand to look at but he knows what they are. Does this make me proud ? Yes, he knows the names and the smells and with time he will grow to like it but my recompense is that I feel as though what we are doing makes a difference.

Birthday Cupcake

Like so many other mom's out there, its hard to ensure that our kids eat balanced home cooked meals, that birthdays and specials occasions are celebrated with the pomp and style that they deserve. My goal of this blog is not only to share my love of cooking but that it IS possible to be a working mom , have a career and still prepare delicious meals on a daily basis. By no means is it easy but it is doable.

 Why should I go forward ? No fancy answers, only the fact that I love preparing meals for my loved ones, that I enjoy sharing my passion with men and women across the world and that we can contact via the Internet. For me one of the ways that I show my love for my family is by the food that I prepare and  this is what makes me the blogger that I am.


**Judging will be open from Monday 20th September.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

La Rentrée & resolutions

Rosemary and Thym


September marks the 6 month anniversary of this blog, to say that the last 6months have been easy is an understatement, have I enjoyed it - without a doubt ! I started this blog as a way of sharing my love for food with fellow foodies and as a way to challenge myself in the kitchen.

There are many things that I pride myself on and the most important is my commitment to providing fresh, healthy and delicious meals to my family and friends. I am a mom that works outside of home, looks after two little ones,  a house (well condo) and tries to remain sane. There are many days that I wish for extra hours in the day just to get things crossed off my list. Friends think that I'm a super mom for doing what I do, my response is No, this is who I am.  What fuels me ? The response is quite simple really -I do not want to fill the stomachs of my family, but instead I want nourish them, and for my fellow foodies you know its not the same thing. My other motivation ? My hubby, who stays up late with me as I type my posts, who encourages me when I really don't feel like taking pictures, gives me ideas for posts, brings me freshly brewed tea - you get the idea :)

Like many others, I look at the food universe that we belong to and think how can I ever make a dent and then I look back on the last 6months and think of the challenges that I've succeeded on, the friends that I have met,  the personal victories that I have had and then I realize that the most important benefit of all is that I'm doing something for me :)

September in France is most affectionately called ' La rentrée" which means back to school/work however its not JUST going back, its a time for resolutions and re-evaluating the year. I guess this is what happens when you take 4 weeks off ( average summer holiday).Some of my food resolutions are:
  • Update this blog more often
  • Hunt out those local farmers on the open market
  • Continue to build on the traditions that my hubby and I are making with out kids that involve food
  • Loose some of the weight that I've gained because of this blog :) 
The last few weeks have been perhaps the most exhausting of this year, the after effect of a very good holiday ?

However today is my "rentrée" :) the blog is back in session !

What are some of your "rentrée" resolutions ?

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

August Daring Bakers Challenge - Ice Cream Petit Fours

Pineapple Ice Box cake ....No this is not a picture nor a post about pineapple ice box cake but it was the first cake that I ever ate that was cold and had cream on it at least to my recollection. If my mom is reading this she may correct me. The cake was made by my aunt who was considered 'The' baker in our family she baked for all the holidays and basically whatever other occasion she could find. There was always something sweet to eat at her house. I'm not sure on what occasion she made this but I remember being captivated by it. She's no longer with us but her baking skills are still missed.

Like many others I always had the choice of my birthday cake, as a child it was all about the character as I got older it was about the taste. For my 17th birthday my mom decided rather last minute that I should have friends over for my birthday and I of course thought that it was a great idea. That said we had to get the menu and dessert done rather quickly and the cake that I chose was the pineapple ice box cake.

When I saw this month's (August) Daring Bakers challenge I immediately thought of my pineapple ice box cake. Luckily for me I chose to make this the one week in August where we had warm temperatures and right before we left on holidays. I'm happy that I made it before because we got back Saturday night to chilly temps after having two weeks of glorious sunshine and warmth. Now that that everything has been packed away I'm finally sitting down to post.

The Daring Bakers - August Edition - Ice Cream Petit Fours

The August 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Elissa of 17 and Baking. For the first time, The Daring Bakers partnered with Sugar High Fridays for a co-event and Elissa was the gracious hostess of both. Using the theme of beurre noisette, or browned butter, Elissa chose to challenge Daring Bakers to make a pound cake to be used in either a Baked Alasa or in Ice Cream Petit Fours. The sources for Elissa’s challenge were Gourmet magazine and David Lebovitz’s “The Perfect Scoop”.


I chose to make 4 individual bundt cakes and then one  loaf cake instead of a sheet cake as the recipe mentioned. The center I filled with the vanilla ice cream and topped with a dark chocolate ganache. As we were leaving on holidays I thought this was a better compromise as we made a few petit fours for us and then we took the loaf cake with us on holidays. The cake was incredibly moist and the beurre noisette definitely gave it that nutty taste. We served this accompanied with a glass of Mas Amiel (2003) a sweet dessert wine that complimented the beurre noisette and the chocolate ganache.

The Daring Bakers - August Edition - Ice Cream Petit Fours


Recipes:
Vanilla Ice Cream
1 cup (250ml) whole milk
A pinch of salt
3/4 cup (165g) sugar
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise OR 2 teaspoons (10ml) pure vanilla extract
2 cups (500ml) heavy (approx 35% butterfat) cream
5 large egg yolks
1 teaspoon (5ml) pure vanilla extract
1. Heat the milk, salt, and sugar in a medium saucepan until the liquid steams. Scrape out the seeds of the vanilla bean with a paring knife and add to the milk, along with the bean pod. Cover, remove from heat, and let infuse for an hour. (If you do not have a vanilla bean, simply heat the milk, salt, and sugar in a medium saucepan until the liquid steams, then let cool to room temperature.)
2. Set up an ice bath by placing a 2-quart (2 litre) bowl inside a large bowl partially filled with water and ice. Put a strainer on top of the smaller bowl and pour in the cream.
3. In another bowl, lightly beat the egg yolks together. Reheat the milk in the medium saucepan until warmed, and then gradually pour ¼ cup warmed milk into the yolks, constantly whisking to keep the eggs from scrambling. Once the yolks are warmed, scrape the yolk and milk mixture back into the saucepan of warmed milk and cook over low heat. Stir constantly and scrape the bottom with a spatula until the mixture thickens into a custard which thinly coats the back of the spatula.
4. Strain the custard into the heavy cream and stir the mixture until cooled. Add the vanilla extract (1 teaspoon [5ml] if you are using a vanilla bean; 3 teaspoons [15ml] if you are not using a vanilla bean) and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled, preferably overnight.
5. Remove the vanilla bean and freeze in an ice cream maker. If you don’t have an ice cream maker, you can make it without a machine. See instructions from David Lebovitz

Brown Butter Pound Cake
19 tablespoons (9.5 oz) (275g) unsalted (sweet) butter
2 cups (200g) sifted cake flour (not self-rising; sift before measuring) (See “Note” section for cake flour substitution)
1 teaspoon (5g) baking powder
1/2 teaspoon (3g) salt
1/2 cup (110g) packed light brown sugar
1/3 (75g) cup granulated sugar
4 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1. Preheat the oven to 325°F/160°C and put a rack in the center. Butter and flour a 9”x9” (23cmx23cm) square pan.
2. Place the butter in a 10” (25cm) skillet over medium heat. Brown the butter until the milk solids are a dark chocolate brown and the butter smells nutty. (Don’t take your eyes off the butter in case it burns.) Pour into a shallow bowl and chill in the freezer until just congealed, 15-30 minutes.
3. Whisk together cake flour, baking powder, and salt.
4. Beat the brown butter, light brown sugar, and granulated sugar in an electric mixer until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat in the eggs one at a time, mixing well, and then the vanilla extract.
5. Stir in the flour mixture at low speed until just combined.
6. Scrape the batter into the greased and floured 9”x9” (23cmx23cm) square pan. Smooth the top with a rubber spatula and rap the pan on the counter. Bake until golden brown on top and when a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 25 minutes.
7. Cool in the pan 10 minutes. Run a knife along the edge and invert right-side-up onto a cooling rack to cool completely.


If its any indication, we are not big ice cream /cake fans but this was subtle enough that I can see myself making this again once warmer weather returns....which given current forecasts may not be any time soon.

Bon Appétit