Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Hello, Cupcake!

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This book, "Hello, Cupcake!" by Karen Tack & Alan Richardson is chocked full of cute ideas for cupcake making. You've got your penguins, popcorn, and panda bears, you've got spaghetti and meatballs, you've got various kinds of dogs, some dolphins, alligators - all kinds of critter. Also, princesses, little tykes, bowling balls and pins, billiard balls, several kinds of flowers,

including sunflowers, garden vegetables, wedding cake cupcakes, and much more. Whew! That's a lot!

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Oriental Stir Fry Dishes

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Recently, I have been haunting a couple of Oriental food markets and making a lot of  Asian dishes completely from scratch. No more canned bean sprouts and water chestnuts. What a difference "fresh" makes!

For this dish, which I just threw together (kind of resembles chow mein, I guess), I cooked some chicken breast in a little oil while making a sauce of soy sauce, balsamic vinegar, rice vinegar, organic, unbleached sugar, a little red chili paste and a little sea salt.  Then I put the chicken bits in the sauce and let it simmer on low for a while. I didn't measure any of this; just went by taste.

In another pan, I put some oil, threw in some sliced carrots and sliced celery, let that cook for a few minutes while chopping some onion, bok choy, and peeling and slicing some water chestnuts. I threw those things into the mixture, holding back the tops of the bok choy for a little bit more since they cook much more quickly than the bottoms. I also added the fresh bean sprouts at this point and stir-fried for a bit. Then I threw in the bok choy tops and some cut green onions.

Then I put a little cornstarch and water into my sauce to thicken it up and added it to the vegetable mixture. We could have had it with rice or noodles, but I thought it was really good just like this.

Homemade Pizza Crust

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I love, love, love making pizza! It took me a while to get it down to where I would actually rather have a homemade pizza than to get it from a good pizza place, but it was worth all the years of trial and error.

I usually make one large (18") and two mediums (12") with this recipe. You can cut it in half, or put half the dough in the freezer for later use.

I usually put no oil or fat in my pizza crust. I often brush the crust with butter after baking is finished. You can put a tablespoon or so in the dough, if you wish, or you can drizzle the crust with olive oil before topping. Whatever you like.

2 cups warm water
1 slightly heaping tablespoon (TBSP) of good yeast
2 cups unbleached flour

Whisk these together to allow the sponge to form. After it is bubbly and about doubled in size, add:

1 teaspoon (tsp) sea salt
1 or 2 teaspoons (tsp) sugar ( or you can leave it out completely )
1 1/2 to 2 more cups unbleached flour ( I usually reserve some of this for the kneading process. Feel free to add more while kneading until it seems right.)

Knead for about 15 minutes, until smooth and elastic. ( If you don't want to knead it the whole time, it will have about the same effect if you just let it set for about 15 minutes and then come back and knead it for 5 minutes or so. )

Divide the dough as needed for your pizzas.

Place each ball of dough on a greased pizza pan and cover with a cloth. Allow it to rise until about doubled in size.  With greased hands, spread your dough out over the pan, working from the middle out. Poke holes all over with a fork. Let rise again for ten to fifteen minutes, more if needed.

You can put your crust in the oven for a few minutes before topping, or just begin topping as it.

Bake at about 425* til done.