Sunday, February 14, 2010

Cook N for Valentine's Day, plus Brunch N at Palisades

Happy Valentine's Day!

Mr Cook and I ventured out this morning for a brunch date at Palisades Restaurant in Seattle. This is one of our favorite little places to have brunch. The buffet is top notch, loaded up with fabulous seafood, an assortment of salads, macadamia nut pancakes, hot chocolate dipping sauce, fresh fruit and an assortment of pastries...of course this is in addition to the entree that we have learned to ask for "to go" as we cannot possibly fully indulge at the buffet and still have room for breakfast wellington or steak and eggs.

Gone this visit was the fabulous oyster bar. We were told that they had opted to provide an assortment of crab legs instead. (I missed the oysters)

What really made my morning though....the Bloody Mary Buffet!

The new Bloody Mary bar. Holy Cow! I was offered a selection of 4 types of vodka, and two types of salt and when my bloody mary arrived looking quite clear and non-bloody mary like, my waiter informed me that the Bloody Mary buffet was located in the bar. Hello?

So I made my way to the bar with my glass of vodka and I found two types of bloody mary mix - one spicy, one mild- and a complete selection of hot pepper sauces and accoutrements all neatly lining the bar. Fresh cilantro, basil, lemon and lime slices, celery, several olives, pickled onions, pickled peppers, pickled green beans, pickled asparagus, marinated mushrooms, marinated carrots, and then little kebabs of cherry tomato and shrimp...little kebabs of salami and olives...

It was the best bloody Bloody Mary bar I have ever encountered. (Okay it was the first bloody mary bar I ever encountered...) It even made up for the absence of the oyster bar....a little.

In addition to a fabulous brunch, Mr Cook bought me a card and has promised to buy me a tea rose to plant in front of our new garden fence.

He knows me well. I am much happier with a plant or tree for my garden than a bouquet of flowers that will be gone in a week or two. (although roses are nice and would never be refused.)

But Alas....Valentines is not all about me. I spent a little time yesterday making a special treat for Mr Cook. Mr Cook is not a big fan of sweets (well, he says that, but he that doesn't seem to deter him from gobbling up sweets when they are provided). He does have an interesting affinity for beef jerky however. Often he will walk up to a bag in the store and hold it for a few moments...then put it back. He never actually buys beef jerky, he just looks at it. (He doesn't like the price of beef jerky.)

So for Valentines this year, I bought some london broil on Thursday. Sliced it up and marinated it in soy sauce, worchestershire sauce and liquid smoke on Friday night. Then laid it out on racks of our food dehydrator on Saturday. Voila...Valentines jerky.

We have had that dehydrator for close to 10 years and this was the first time we used it. It worked well and I am thinking about trying out a few more jerky recipes. You can also cook this slow and low in your oven...

Beef Jerky

2lb lean beef (flank steak, top round, london broil...) cut in thin strips
1/2c soy sauce
1/4 c worchestershire sauce
1Tbsp liquid smoke

Combine soy sauce, worchestershire sauce and liquid smoke to make the marinade. Marinate the beef strips in this sauce overnight.

Drain the beef and lay out on dehydrator racks...Dry according to the instructions for your particular dehydrator. It took about 6 hours for ours to reach what we determined was the right consistency of dryness for us. Watch it after about 4 hours and keep checking it until it is to your liking. can dry beef jerky in your oven. Set the oven to 150 degrees. Lay the beef strips across the rack of a broiler pan. Keep an eye on the jerky to ensure it doesn't get too dry. It can take as long as 8 hours for the jerky to dry in the oven.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Bake N 4 Jake: February Cookie of the Month - Pink Cookies

One of Jake's favorite cookies are perfect for Valentine's Day. You have probably seen these at your local espresso stand. A soft, cakey cookie slathered in fluffy pink frosting. I found this recipe on line a while back and I really love how simple it is.
The cookies are dropped by tablespoon full onto a baking sheet - no rolling and cutting required- so they are relatively quick to throw together. They are also quite rich, so even though it just makes a small batch, these will last a bit.
I packed these into a tin, and sent Jake on his way back to Boise. I am pretty sure he got the message that he is truely loved by his mom.



1 cup butter
2 cups white sugar
4 eggs
1 cup milk
5 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1.Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease a cookie sheet.
2.In a large bowl, cream the margarine and sugar together. Add the eggs one at a time, mix well. Stir in the milk and vanilla. Sift together the flour, salt and baking powder; stir into the creamed mixture until everything is well blended. Drop cookie dough by heaping spoonfuls onto the prepared cookie sheet.
3.Bake for 10 to 12 minutes in the preheated oven. The tops of the cookies should spring back to the touch like a cake. Cool on wire racks before frosting.



2/3 cup butter, softened
4 cups confectioners' sugar
2 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)
4 drops red food coloring
1.In a medium bowl, cream together the butter, confectioners' sugar, and milk until light and fluffy, about 3 to 4 minutes. Beat in the vanilla and food coloring. Spread on or between cookies.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Bake N: Cream Puffs

I had a dream the other night about cream puffs. Lots and lots of cream puffs.

My grandmother used to make trays of these for family gatherings, using a recipe from her Better Homes & Gardens cookbook. Grandma would make two types, one filled with cool whip an sprinkled with powdered sugar and one filled with chocolate pudding and drizzled with chocolate sauce. I remember she instructed me once to NEVER double the recipe for cream puffs because they won't turn out. Make several batches instead.

In my dream I made many many flavors..fresh strawberry, tangy lemon curd, chocolate mousse, pistachio cream...I just couldn't stop making cream puffs!

For the life of me, I do not recall what the occaision was...not that one needs an occaision to make cream puffs. They are incredibly easy to make, but I know that they look (and taste) sort of intimidating. I love recipes like that.

My best girlfriend, dropped by on Saturday night to spend the weekend with us...I had to tease her about being psychic because Simon had just tidied the guest room and I had cream puffs on the menu. /p>

My recipe is from my grandma's copy of Better Homes & Garden Cookbook. I used real whipping cream and added almond flavoring instead of vanilla. You can put just about anything in them including savory chicken salad if you don't have a sweet tooth. The recipe makes 12 small cream puffs, or 6 jumbo sized cream puffs (like my grandma used to make).

Enjoy- and if you make these, let me know what you filled them with!

Basic Cream Puffs


Choux Pastry:

1 cup water
½ cup butter (1 stick)
¼ tsp. salt
1 cup all-purpose flour
4 eggs

In a medium saucepan, combine water, butter and salt. Bring to boiling over medium-high heat. Add flour all at once, stirring vigorously. Cook and stir until mixture forms a ball. Remove from heat.

Cool puff dough for 10 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, beating well with a wooden spoon after each addition.

Drop dough by TBSP onto a greased cookie sheet. Bake in a hot oven 450F for 15 minutes, then reduce the heat to 325F for 25 minutes. Remove the Pastry from the oven and cool on a baking rack.

You can, like my grandma, just cut open each puff and fill them with chocolate pudding or cool whip in a pinch. For the cream puffs I made (and devoured) last night, I whipped up about a pint of heavy whipping cream with a tsp or two of sugar (to taste) and a drop of almond extract. Fill the cream puffs and sprinkle a bit of powdered sugar on top. Yum!