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Friday, December 23, 2011


Michael Chiarello has a wonderful catalog called Napa Style.  I always find something that I would want.  I have a wonderful carved pig that sits on my counter and holds fruit.  There are a few things from his catalog on my someday I won't have children in college list.  I love their Christmas decorations.  They had the most beautiful Noel sign for sale.  It was for sale for $600 I think.  It is all sold out, amazing. 

I showed it to my son Joe, the poor broke college student, and he made me a similar sign as my Christmas present for my house. 

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Eggs and Latkes

November is a challenging month for my husband, he spends a lot of it on travel.  Today is the start of both of our vacations.  Unfortunately, we have a list of things to do to get the house ready to put on the market.  So I thought that we should begin this sure to be less than fun vacation with breakfast. 

Tom grew up in New Jersey, his best friend, Nate, is Jewish.  Nate had a big influence on Tom's taste buds.  The hungry, cross country running teenager ate everything and anything he was given.  His favorite breakfast is probably bagels and lox.  Sad to say, I make the best bagels that we have tasted since we moved to Texas.  But I don't really have time for it so I decided to make latkes with fried eggs and roasted tomatoes from Salt and Serenity's blog.   

One of the reasons that I like reading other people's blogs is that sometimes you learn more from a blog than from a cookbook.  If someone has made latkes all their lives and writes about it, you feel like you are sitting in their kitchen, at their elbow.

The recipe starts with roasted cherry tomatoes.  I used olive oil, salt, pepper and rosemary.  The roasted tomatoes on top of the eggs took this dish to a new level.  I may throw some tomatoes in the oven any time I want to add pizzazz to an egg dish from now on.

Then you make latkes. 

I have tried a few different recipes, this may be my favorite so far.  You grate some yukon golds.  Then you chop up some onion in the food processor with half of the grated potatoes.  Head over to Salt & Serenity's blog for more detailed instructions.  Trust me, you would prefer to be at her elbow...

The potato onion mixture is put in a colander over a ball and the liquid is squished out. 

 And then she says pour off the water and save the starch and you think what is she talking about???  Tip the bowl to the side and see the white starch on the bottom.

The grated potatoes, starch, chopped potato and onion, egg, matzo meal, and kosher salt are mixed together.  
Fry them in hot oil 4 mins a side.  Top with an egg and some tomatoes and enjoy.

Now we are ready to:  take the car with the scary check engine light to the dealer, take the left over paint from the garage to the hazardous collection site, get the kitchen cabinets ready to paint...  oh the list goes on and on.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Pecan and Almond Chocolate Toffee

Grad school is kicking my butt.  Not winning, but definitely changing my routine.  I have three more classes left and a project and I will have my MSN.  I am tired of homework.  I never particularly enjoyed APA formatting and if I never see a hanging indent after grad school, it will be too soon.  My colleagues at work are tired of grad school.  They really weren't too interested in Global Health Care.  I'm not sure how they will feel about my next class, epidemiology...

So at night, instead of looking at people's blogs, I do homework.  Not to sound too petulant, but I really hate homework.  The end is in site.  Great news though, my next class doesn't start until January 9th.  So lets see if I can remember how to blog and if anyone still reads it!

We pick secret Santas at work and you get a little sheet of information about your person.  Mine loves toffee, as do I.  Generally I avoid making any Christmas candy or cookie that I love.  As I struggle with my weight, I don't need toffee calling to me.  But today I thought that I would try my hand at toffee.

Baked by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito is one of my favorite cook books.  Everything turns out.  The recipes aren't necessarily easy, but they are delicious.

  Their pecan and almonds chocolate toffee didn't look too challenging if I could get past my whole candy making aversion.

1 cup sliced almonds, ground to a powder
1 cup toasted pecans, chopped
1 cup unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
9 oz semisweet chocolate bits  They used a mixture of dark and milk, coarsely chopped

butter a 9X13 pan

Melt the butter on low, when it is halfway melted, add the sugar and 1 T of water.  Cook over low, stirring with a silicon spatula until combined.  Clip on the candy thermometer, turn the heat up to medium high and heat until 300 degrees F, about 15 mins.

The mixture will bubble and turn brown

My favorite piece of advice... If the browning seems uneven, swirl the pan during the cooking process but do not stir...

How would the explanation go in the er.   Yes doctor, I wasn't stirring, I was swirling the 300 degree mixture.  This is why I don't like making candy.

When it reaches 300 degrees, remove from heat, remove thermometer, add pecans and pour into prepared pan.  It will even out.

wait one min and top with chocolate, wait three mins and chocolate will melt.  Spread with offset spatula and sprinkle with almond powder.  I added a little salt to the almond powder.

Put in the freezer for 30 mins and break into pieces.
Secret Santa gift.