Have a Heart…

Yeah, so I am already making with the jokes. Seriously, I will be relieved if this is for sure RF, because then I will know that I am NOT losing my mind and all the weird symptoms (fluttery hands, dropping shit, running into things, e.g.) and the painful symptoms (joint pain, fever) will (hopefully) go away.

Obviously, I am not so thrilled about the idea of rheumatic heart disease. I have my cardiologist appointment next Tuesday. I am hoping that they are able to rule out RHD and that they find NO ZERO ZILCH damage to my heartmeats and related whatnots. I just want to get everything wrapped up – two years of this shit is about enough.

Until then, however, I am a little wired, so I will either post not at all, or post crazy ranty stuff. So bear with me.

Cookies Will Make it All Better

Demand-a-Dish: Chainsawin’ Makes Me Hungry!

Yeah people – Demand-A-Dish is BACK!!! My delightful parents have graciously agreed to come over this weekend for a good, ol’ fashioned chainsawin’. Dad is bringing the chainsaw and Mom will watch the spawn while I work out my rage issues on a row of overgrown privets. I am thinking about getting out the sawzall and doublefisting.

Anyhow, I promised them food. I cook for them a lot, so this is nothing special. My question for you all is, what sort of dish is perfect after a day of gas-fueled destruction in the chilly outdoors? Bear in mind, my parents are VERY conservative. I don’t know what, if any, impact this has on their dietary concerns, but I just thought you should know.

So vote for a general idea, then please leave a more specific demand in the Comments…

I’ll Put My Cookies Where Your Mouth Is…

So, we’ve have seen the ‘Impeach Obama’ bumper stickers. Every time I see one, I am seized with the urge to tuck a mini-Constitution under the windshield. People understand that this is not England, right? Impeachment does not equal Vote of No Confidence. You can’t just demand the removal of an elected executive (or justice) because they offend thine eye.

Yet we see this over and over and over again. And for some, a bumper sticker just isn’t a large enough stage for the ignorance behind the sentiment.

Because I Said So!!!

You can read here about this expensive display of stupidity here, but I will break it on down for you.  This billboard is currently up along highway 41 in Oshkosh, WI and is under contract to stay up for 6 months at a cost of $1,000.00 per month. The sign was paid for by an unnamed company represented by one Tom Wroblewski. Mr. Wroblewski, when asked about the sign, informed talkingpointed that Washington politics are bad for small businesses (and let me point out that my very small business is doing just fine, thank you very much and STFU because you don’t talk for me). Which is nonresponsive enough, but isn’t the best part.

Wroblewski went on to say – here it comes – that despite the clear and unambiguous directive to IMPEACH OBAMA, he’s not suggesting Obama committed an impeachable offense.

Which leads me to throw down this tasty gauntlet.  If anyone can tell me, (1) with specificity and explicit references to the Constitution and (2) impeachment law and (3) based on ACTUAL REALLY REAL FACTS, exactly *why* Obama should be impeached, I will send you a batch of homemade cookies. You may choose the type – and yes, I will even put green jellybeans and judgment in them if you so elect.

SFL Exclusive Recipe: Prosciutto and Gruyere Morning Rolls

Behold the most magical and perfect savory brioche-based roll ever birthed by my kitchen:

Savory Prosciutto and Gruyere Brioche

Basically, these are a savory version of the traditional cinnamon roll or sticky bun. For those of you who feel like a challenge, here is my recipe:

Prosciutto and Gruyere Morning Rolls

I learned how to make brioche from the excellent Pie and Pastry Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum.  I have tweaked the recipe over time, and what follows is the recipe and method that I use when I make brioche that is to be used as a base.  The idea of incorporating savory ingredients arose out of a desire for an alternative to the typical sweet rolls I usually make for breakfasts and brunch.  This recipe requires at least two days for preparation and will yield 12 large rolls using 2 extra large muffin tins.

BRIOCHE BASE

  • 3 level teaspoons of fresh active dry yeast
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons of warm water (100° to 110° degrees)
  • 2 tablespoons and 1 teaspoon of granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup and approximately 1 2/3 cup of King Arthur Unbleached Bread Flour
  • 4 large eggs at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 2 oz (4 tablespoons) of browned and cooled unsalted butter (instructions for this will follow)
  • 4 oz (8 tablespoons) of softened unsalted butter

FILLING

  • 8 thin slices of prosciutto (approximately 4 oz), lightly pan-fried, chopped into small pieces, and chilled
  • 4 oz of gruyere, grated and chilled
  • 2 oz of pecorino romano, grated and chilled
  • 1 oz (2 tablespoons) of softened unsalted butter
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Proof the Yeast.  In a small glass or ceramic bowl, combine the yeast, water, and 1 teaspoon of granulated sugar and stir until smooth.  Wrap with plastic wrap and set aside for 10 – 20 minutes or until the mixture bubbles up.

Prepare the Sponge.  Take a 5 – 6 quart metal mixing bowl and fill with hot water and let sit for 5 minutes.  Dump out the water and towel dry.  With a whisk, combine one egg and 1/3 cup of flour.  Mixture will be thick.  Add the yeast and sugar mixture and whisk until smooth and there are no clumps.  With a rubber scraper, fold in the remaining 1 2/3 cup of flour.  Scrape down the sides and cover tightly with plastic wrap.  Set aside for 2 hours.

Brown the Butter.  Place 4 ounces of butter in a small nonstick skillet over medium to medium high heat.  As the butter melts, scrape or stir constantly while the solids separate and begin to brown.  As soon as the solids have collected on the bottom and changed in color to a golden brown, remove from heat and scrape entire contents of skillet into a glass or ceramic bowl.  Place in the refrigerator to cool.

Prepare the Dough.  In a small bowl, mix together the remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar and salt.  Place the mixing bowl containing the sponge on a stand mixer and attach the paddle.  Add the sugar and salt mixture and 2 of the remaining eggs to the sponge.  Mix together on low speed setting for one minute, then for approximately 2 more minutes on medium speed setting.  If the dough is still very stick at this point and has not started to clean the sides of the bowl, add more King Arthur Unbleached Bread Flour, one tablespoon at a time (but not exceeding 1/3 of a cup) and beat on medium until the dough cleans the side and stays on the paddle.

Switch to the hook attachment and beat on medium high speed setting for approximately 2 minutes until the dough is shiny, smooth and tacky to the touch.  Turn the speed setting to medium and slowly pour in the brown butter.  Add 4 ounces (8 tablespoons) of the remaining butter one tablespoon at a time until all the butter has been combined into the dough.  Stop the mixer and remove the hook.  The dough should be shiny and smooth, and will feel both greasy and extremely sticky.  Roll the dough into a ball, lightly coat with King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour and place in a lightly-buttered large bowl.  Cover tightly with plastic wrap and let rise for until the dough has doubled in size, about 2 hours.  Once the dough has doubled in size, place the still-covered bowl in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours.

Shape and Fill the Rolls.  While the dough is refrigerating after its first rise, prepare the prosciutto and combine the two grated cheeses.  After the dough is thoroughly chilled, removed from bowl and place on well-floured surface.  Using your hands, lightly pat the dough down and shape into a rectangle approximately 10 inches side to side by 6 inches top to bottom.

(A)Working from the left side to the right, fold the left third over to the middle and then the right third over that. Using your hands, lightly press and shape again until you have a rectangle approximately 6 inches side to side by 10 inches top to bottom.  Rotate 1/4 turn and repeat (A) two more times.

Using a rolling pin and working from the middle to the edges, lightly roll the dough until it is a rectangle shape about 2/3 to 3/4 inch thick and measure approximately 24 inches side to side and 12 inches top to bottom.  Cover with dry cloth and let rest for 10 minutes.

While the dough is resting, prepare the muffin tins by spraying lightly with a non-stick cooking spray.

Remove cloth and spread remaining ounce of butter evenly across the surface of the dough.  Sprinkle cheese mixture evenly on surface, leaving about an inch across the bottom edge without cheese.  Cover the cheese with the chopped prosciutto, making sure that both are evenly distributed across the surface (again, save one inch along the bottom edge of the dough).  Sprinkle with freshly grated pepper.  Working from the top edge and starting in the middle moving out, carefully tuck in the top edge and roll down, making sure not to “smash” the dough down.  Work slowly and make sure that the roll is tight and firm.  Using a serrated knife and a gentle sawing motion, divide the roll into two rolls.  They should measure approximately 12 inches long each and should be 3 inches wide at the widest part of the roll.  Divide each roll into six equal slices, again using a gently sawing motion and taking care not to smash down on the roll.  There will now be 12 portions, approximately 2 inches thick and 3 inches wide at the widest part.

Place the rolls into the muffin tins.  Cover lightly with plastic wrap that has been lightly sprayed with a non-stick cooking spray on the side that touches the pan and rolls.  Refrigerate the rolls overnight, or at least for four hours.

Bake the Rolls.  After the rolls have been thoroughly chilled, remove from the refrigerator and, keeping the plastic wrap on, place in a draft-free place until the rolls have risen 1 1/2 to 2 times in size.  Preheat the oven to 400°.  Beat the remaining egg and gently brush the tops of the rolls with the beaten egg.  Once the egg wash has dried, bake the rolls until the center reaches 190°, approximately 18 minutes.


More Utterly Non-Shocking Conservative Wankery

So, an article in today’s Washington Times highlights the utter douchebaggery going on in Congress.  Shortly put,

More than a dozen Republican lawmakers, while denouncing the stimulus to the media and their constituents, privately sent letters to just one of the federal government’s many agencies seeking stimulus money for home-state pork projects.

Now, bear in mind that these are but a few letters sent to just one fed agency (USDA) and discovered via FOIA.  I can only  imagine how many other such letters were sent to DOE, DOT, DHS…

I know I am probably not the only one to be utterly unsurprised by this hypocritical bullshit. Not even to hear dear Lameass Alexander is amongst this esteemed group.  Certainly not shocked to see good ol’ Joe “YOU LIE!” Wilson is on the list. These are, after all, politicians.  If they were cheesy glittering vampires, then money is their pasty-faced virgin.

I was somewhat surprised, however, to read that these secret money grabs were totally in line with a virulent anti-stimulus stance.  And of course we can thank Joe Wilson for clarifying the issue for us:

“Congressman Wilson’s position on the stimulus bill is consistent,” said spokeswoman Pepper Pennington. She said Mr. Wilson opposed the stimulus as a “misguided spending bill,” but once it passed, he wanted to make sure South Carolina residents “receive their share of the pie.”

So Screamy Joe has just effectively pointed out for us the real-life application of the ‘Can’t Lose’ objection.  What this means is that an attorney can rant and scream and rail against something that is actually factually or procedurally or legally correct – thus the client thinks that he/she is REALLY getting their money’s worth, what with all the ranting/screaming/railing, despite the fact that the ranting attorney (and judge and bailiff and clerks and indeed all attorneys in the court) knows full fucking well that:
  1. there is only ONE possible outcome,
  2. nothing you do will change (1),
  3. but because your enemy supports (1), you must oppose it,
  4. which also means you have to convince your constituency (or client) that (1) is EVIL and you are GOOD for opposing (1), when in reality
  5. your constituents (clients) will actually benefit from (1), and
  6. they will receive these benefits no matter how big of jackass you are.

Have Your Cake and Action Figure, Too...

Soup.

I really love making soup. LOVE it. It is easy, makes your whole house smell like a good place to be, and it is pretty hard to screw it up. Winter is one of my favorite times of the year to make soup because there are so many tasty root and bulb vegetables in season. Also, there is the cold. So, since our local grocery had some pretty sexy looking cauliflower and parsnips, I decided to make Cream of Cauliflower and Parsnip soup.

I don’t really use recipes when I make soups so much as a suggested ingredient list. First, when I make cream-based soups with pureed vegetables, I find that you really don’t need that much cream at all. Basically, I used a stick of butter, 3 small bulbs of shallots, one medium onion, three leeks, a good-sized head of cauliflower, about a pound of parsnips, 4 cups of chicken stock, fresh bay leaves, fresh thyme, about a cup of cream, some grated parm/reg, a pinch of powdered dried chipotle (because the parsnips are pretty sweet) and salt and pepper to taste. I use both ground black and white pepper when making soups.

Chop all your veg.

Mis - soup

Make sure to soak the chopped leeks in water rather than just rinse them. They are dirty, dirty veg.

Dirty, Sexy Leeks

Sweat the onion and shallots in a dutch over or big pot over med-low heat in the butter. Yes the whole stick. Don’t be such a pansy. Add the fresh herbs and S&P. Add the leek, re-season, put the lid on and let the veg soften completely. Add the stock, bring it up to boiling, add the cauli and parsnips, re-season, turn the heat down to low, put the lid on, and go do something else for a while. I folded laundry and drank some wine. Okay, and ate some chocolate.

Almost Soup

When the veg are COMPLETELY soft, turn off the heat. Puree in blender or food pro in small batches and put pureed portions in a separate bowl. Now PAY ATTENTION here unless you want to burn the living shit out of yourself and spend 47 minutes cleaning crap off of your ceiling. When you put hot substances into a blender, DO NOT PUSH THE LID ON. Catch that? Because the heat plus the motion of the blades will blow the top off of your blender unless you have it vented somehow. And no, it is NOT a good idea to just remove the oil cap. Instead, carefully place the lid on the top of the blender without smooshing it down and hold it in place. You can even drape a dish cloth over the top – just make sure to hold the lid in place because it WILL push up. Also, do not ever fill the blender vessel more than 1/3-ish.

When you are done with this and/or have tended to all your burns, return the whole pureed lot back to the original pot. Add your cream SLOWLY. Then your powdered chile and cheese, taste and re-season as needed. I sometimes add a couple of slices of crumbled bacon. Keep over low ’til you are ready to eat it.

Cream of Cauliflower and Parsnip Soup. And Maybe Some Bacon.

We had this with some totally old-school BLTs.

OMGBLT!

Keepin’ it Real

Just wanted to point out that despite everything, the majority of incomings to the blog via Google are STILL people using the search terms “Glenn Beck Crying.”

So, people looking for Glenn Beck crying? This one is for you. And fret not, I will get back around to Mr. Beck soon enough…

Glenn Beck Weeps Like a Sweet, Succulent Ham

Oatmeal Cookies Are Little Plops of Love

Thought I would end the day with a foodie post. Here is my *exclusive* recipe for chocolate chip oatmeal cookies:

Love Plops

SFL SUPREME OATMEAL COOKIES

  • 1 cup softened unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar – baker’s grind*
  • 1 and 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon Nutella spread
  • 1 and 1/2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh grated orange rind
  • 3 cups of Quaker “Quick” (one-minute) oats
  • 1/3 cup raisins
  • 1/3 cup golden raisins
  • 1/3 cup craisins (dried cranberries)
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 3/4 cup chopped walnuts
  • 6 ounces bittersweet chocolate chips.

This recipe take about 15 minutes to make, plus an additional 30 to 70 minutes to bake depending upon how many cookies you put in the oven at a time.  Preheat the oven to 350º.  Beat the butter until light and fluffy.  Add the brown sugar, then the white sugar and beat until the mixture is light and creamy.  Stir in vanilla.  Stir in Nutella and beat until mixture is smooth and fully combined.  Add the eggs one at a time and beat for one minute.  In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and orange rind, then stir in oats.  Add all of dry mixture to sugar mixture and stir until just combined.  Add the dried fruit, nuts, and chocolate and stir until combined.  Form the dough into 1 inch balls and place on baking sheet.  Use Silpats for best results.  Bake at 350º for ten minutes.  Let the cookies cool completely on a baking rack.

*If you cannot find baker’s sugar, simply process regular granulated sugar in a food processor until it feels like soft sand when you rub it.

You Know What I Like?

Pie. Sweet, sweet pie. Here are some SFL pie pics to brighten your day. First, Ginger Pear Pie:

Ginger Pear Pie

Next, traditional Thanksgiving pies that my Nannie taught me how to make. I also credit her with teaching me how to properly roll pastry. The important part is that you take the scraps, wrap them around a paperclip on a string tied to a stick, and then fish for minnows.

Butterscotch and Chocolate Pies

Here is the Mommy Apple Walnut Pie and the baby pie (which I think really had bananas and Nutella in it):

Mother and Child

And here, truly the sexiest pie of all, the lemon meringue pie (which reminds – I need to do a post on meringue!):

Lemon Meringue Pie

What? Need a little more?

Yummmmmm.....

Money Talks, Corporate Welfare Walks

Check out this fabulous wake-up post from Swashzone.

401K? I put all MY money in flour and sugar.

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