Deep Fried Duck Tongues

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I’d like to say that I’m not exactly sure what makes people a little squeamish when it comes to various foods… but even I was a little squeamish here… Though I seem to get over it quickly.  I think actually that I’ve been brainwashed very well by society’s endeavour to commodity food and distance it from the actual animal.  I will admit that.  I also think that growing up with parents who would eat just about anything and a mother whose motto is – anything can be eaten if it’s cooked properly – also certainly has had an impact on me.  This is probably also why I’m so willing, often eager to try new things and unusual foods don’t phase me… except to make me very curious to try them.  That being said it’s certainly not lost on me that some folks aren’t quite as willing to try different things…  take for instance duck tongues.

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Living in the Canadian Prairies my food landscape can often feel a little limiting. Though because I’m a food blogger I follow various other food blogs and seek out new things, most of which I can often times find in my speciality store wanderings regardless of the most obvious of foods.  I first found duck tongues on Jules‘ blog.  Needless to say I was intrigued.  So when I came upon them at a little Asian store behind my office I just couldn’t resist.  The description was interesting, crispy, buttery and not really fatty and not really meaty, certainly not gamey.  They didn’t seem to be a challenge to cook so why not give them a whirl?

I have to say that they were interesting.  I can definitely see how they could become addictive on a hot summer day, with a nice cold beer — as a snack.  Because I like my food spicy whenever there’s an opportunity when I marinated them I added some hot pepper flakes and also added them to the cornstarch batter though admittedly that didn’t actually make them spicy at all so I was a little disappointed.  I think I’d make these again though I would change up the recipe.  I’ll give you the directions to the ones pictured and eaten because it’s been a bit of an experiment that I think anyone with an adventurous soul should try but I’ll also suggest that maybe just breaded simply with flour, egg and fine breadcrumbs they might actually be much better.  I found that the batter didn’t stick very well and they looked a little dark due to the marinating which I’m not sure was necessary.

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Still they were good… they were addictive and they were interesting…. if you’re up for it… try them this way or you can bread them the way I breaded pickerel cheeks a few posts ago… I’m going to try them that way next time… maybe with some cajun seasoning sprinkled on them after frying?  Some of my cooking can be a work in progress…   But these were worth sharing just the same.

I knew going in, from various internet searches that they have a little bone in them.  Some people say you can eat it but I was not so inclined.  They are easy enough to eat, hold the blunt end, put in your mouth and bite down scraping all the silky goodness into your mouth as you pull out the bone with your fingers.  Simple.  I was a little concerned that they might be like pig tails in their fattiness, which admittedly I’m not so fond of but they really weren’t.  They were a little fatty in texture but really more buttery, so if you dislike fatty parts of meat don’t scratch these little babies off your list of things to try. They are a flavour and texture all unto themselves.

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Marinate

  • 1/4  cup Soy Sauce
  • 1/8 cup Sake
  • 1/2 raw onion cut in quarter
  • 1/2 inch chopped fresh ginger
  • 2 (or more) sliced fresh garlic cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon hot pepper flakes

Marinate the duck tongues for 1 – 2 hours in the refrigerator and then take out and blot them dry.

Batter

  • 2 egg whites
  • 1/4 cup Cornstarch (enough to make a paste that is a thick porridge consistency so that it will stick to the tongues)
  • 1/2 teaspoon hot pepper flakes

Once the tongues have marinated blot them dry and coat them with the batter, throw into a deep fryer or a pan with oil and fry until the batter is golden brown.  Put them in a bowl lined with paper towels and enjoy… you may want to salt and pepper or season as soon as they come out of the fryer… they need a little extra love.  Enjoy!

 

Tequila Lime Watermelon Ice Shots

Posted by Pussycat in Drinks, Sweets | Leave a comment

There is something truly magical when the snow melts and the sun warms up our part of the world; when you cover seeds in dirt and they grow into the most delicious of food, with a little help of course but seemingly on their own. I love summer and I love summer even more now that we live by the water, arguably not the best water to swim in but soul feeding nonetheless, and we have plenty of room to grow the things we love.

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If you’re anything like me you most certainly don’t feed yourselves within 100 miles of your home.  That would be some pretty boring eating at our house through many cold months of the year.  Often we even stay away from some of the most luscious of fruit in the winter mostly because it often comes from so far away it almost always lacks in flavour.  So when the sun turns everything green here we go to our favourite stores and buy some of the fruit we’d been missing all winter long.

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One of my favourite fruits is watermelon, juicy and sweet it really is the epitome of summer for me and so when they have these, at the store, I just can’t help myself but buy some. I forget that even though it comes from a much warmer place this really is too early for it to be truly delicious so when we eagerly cut up and went to chow down on our most recent watermelon we were sorrily disappointed.  Neither of us wanted to eat it.  It just wasn’t great.  The flavour hardly even came close.

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Now what?  I certainly didn’t want to throw three quarters of this monster melon away, that would have just been such a shame so I decided to fix it up a little, give it a little boost and make it enjoyable.  What I ended up with was Tequila Lime Watermelon Ice.  I must say it was delicious.  You can certainly leave out the Tequila if you wish but seriously — after a long week at work a little Tequila can’t do any harm!  This stuff was slurping kind of good :)

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Tequila Watermelon Ice Shots

  • 1 Watermelon (good or bad)
  • 1/2 Cup sugar — more or less to taste
  • 1/2 Tequila — more or less to taste 😉
  • 1/4 Cup Lime Juice (I actually used All Natural True Lime Powder – because I had this and not a lime – I often put this stuff in my water so I have lots in my cupboard)

Cut the watermelon into chunks and run though a blender until reasonably smooth then add in all the other ingredients and blend.  Place in a long shallow pan and place in freezer.  In order for it to NOT turn into one huge chunk of ice check on it a couple of times and mix it around and break it up every couple of hours then you can leave it overnight if you like.

The ingredients here are general and you really need to use your tastebuds to make adjustments since all watermelons are different sizes and varying sweetness.  Mine happened to need a little sugar since it was rather bland on its own but with these minor adjustments it was amazing.  And certainly mix and match fruit and booze in any combination you like.

 

 

 

Topinky — Dressed and Nude!

Posted by Pussycat in Main Dishes | 2 Comments

I have some time to be completely reclusive this week.  I have the week off work and P is out of town for a few days…. I do not have to see any other human beings.  That can be good or it can be bad.  I can do those things that are shameful when you’re around others. I’m thinking of one thing in particular… something I remember doing when I was much younger and living with my parents.  This indulgence was reserved for Friday nights and with very good reason.

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My mother would fry… YES… fry some good dark dense rye bread, NOT white bread — she always called that bread ‘javex bread’ largely due to its colour and partly due to the fact that you could squish it like a tissue and end up with a cherry sized ball —  but I digress… we would then fry it in a pan with a little bit of oil. Then she would peel several numerous garlic cloves and while the bread was still hot we would take the garlic and rub it on both sides of the nicely browned and crispy fried bread.  The garlic hit from this is shall I say A.M.A.Z.I.N.G and not for the faint hearted!

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Hours later your mouth still feels the burn from the garlic and even more hours later the garlic seeps through your pores and offends anyone within visual distance who may have an aversion to the wafting of garlic oozing from your body.  Hence the Friday night ritual… so that one may have enough time to exude all evidence of the indulgence.

There are many ways to make topinky and when I looked it up on the internet many people egg wash the bread or add eggs or do all sorts of crazy things, things we never did.

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Growing up with this treat you can imagine my shock when I would then go to restaurants and order garlic bread and would be presented with a thick slice of white… WHITE bread that was sometimes crispy and sometimes soggy with butter and hardly a hint of garlic. Most of the time you can’t even tell there’s garlic in there and then they actually feel the need to add parsley… Okay maybe that was for the aesthetics but still! Needless to say I have long since given up eating this bread.

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I have the fortunate pleasure of living with a man that isn’t offended or deterred by the ever present garlic in our house either on the table or wafting from my skin but if there’s even a remote chance of meeting up with anyone else I will will refrain.  So be warned!  Just as a side note this indulgence is much less offensive if enjoyed by everyone around you! So make a huge batch and SHARE the love!  :)

Topinky

  • Dark Bread – a good Hungarian thinly sliced bread is best here
  • Duck fat (because I had some) or a bit of oil for the pan
  • 1 clove (at least) of fresh garlic for each slice of bread
  • Sprinkle of sea salt if you wish

Either coat your bread with duck fat or drizzle a bit of oil in a pan. Bring to medium heat and fry the bread until it’s nicely browned.  Remove from pan and rub the garlic on both sides of each slice of bread… Now here, depending on how hungry you are, I was starving so though one slice was covered in cheese and some slow roasted tomatoes the other just had to remain true to the spirit of topinky.  You can dress them or not… I would suggest having at least one naked.  Enjoy and stay away for a couple of days from anyone who hasn’t indulged… be warned!  :)

Sous Vide Lamb Chops

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I’m not generally one to buy into trends, at least not quickly. I heard about this Sous Vide trend a while back and didn’t really think much about it. It seemed odd to me. But since that first time I heard about it everywhere I seemed to look the Sous Vide method of cooking was popping up, on blogs, instagram… everywhere!  Seemed to be so simple and a very effective way of cooking and controlling your cooking.  If you don’t yet know about it, which is highly unlikely I’m guessing because sometimes I’m a little slow, just Google it and you will find an insane amount of information online.

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Essentially it’s a water immersion method of cooking food. Though the big excitement seems to be mostly about they way this method manages to consistently cook meat, you can certainly cook any food this way. You take your food, season it, seal it in a bag and then immerse it in a temperature controlled water bath for a as little as an hour for proteins like fish, to one or more hours for various cuts of beef.  The tougher the meat the longer the bath and it apparently all comes out tasting super tender and juicy and perfect every time… Hmmmm…. interesting?  The idea behind it is that all the juices in the meat stay in the meat and the gentle cooking doesn’t destroy the cells, you don’t lose any of the flavour and because you’re setting a very specific temperature that doesn’t overcook the meat even if you bath it for quite some time longer.  The thing that got me was the notion of cooking an egg for hours and still having the yolk soft boiled and runny… WHAT?!  Seriously…. it’s all about temperature specific control.

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I must say that it didn’t take me too long to really consider this.  To be clear it is not a quick cooking method, unless of course you can wrap your head around thinking of your meals in advance, bagging and throwing them in the water bath and forgetting about them for quite some time.  Then the actual ‘hands on’ cooking time is really just a quick sear in a pan to give the meat some color.  I did some research online and decided that this was an endeavour I was up for.

Mother’s day and my birthday almost collide each spring so this year rather than allow my partner to do his usual gift shopping, which by the way works out quite well for me, I decided I’d point him in the direction of this kitchen toy, though still expensive it has come down drastically from the price I’d been quoted the first time I heard about it…  $1200.00!  This hefty price tag was attached to commercial versions of the machine and since then they’ve come up with much more affordable options for home cooks ranging between about $300 – 500.

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I’d made lamb chops once before years ago, lamb is a pretty expensive meat that requires very specific cooking, something that isn’t easy to accomplish using the traditional cooking methods.  The sous vide makes this super simple and so this was my first journey into immersion cooking… I needed to make the perfect lamb chops…. bath at 140 degrees F for about 2 1/2 hours then a quick pan sear in butter and dinner is served.

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I have to say that I’m impressed at how these turned out.  I seasoned these in the bag and threw them in the bath as soon as I got home from work, did a few things around the house, we went for our walk and when we came home I quickly pan seared them in butter… I just couldn’t resist.  They were juicy and tender and might I say perfectly cooked though I feel a little hard pressed to take all the credit. The sous vide makes it so incredibly simple it feels like cheating!  I feel like I’m going a little sous vide crazy now…thinking about all the cool things I can make, and trust that they’ll be cooked just right…. I’m truly addicted and though some things can take several days, it seems pretty easy to just throw them in and forget about them…. and have several things going at once, staggering them so that you can have dinner ready for every evening after work.

Garlic Rosemary Lamb Chops in the Sous Vide

  • 4 lamb chops
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 teaspoon fresh rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 tablespoon butter (optional as the meat doesn’t really need it)

Preheat the sous vide to 140 degrees F.

Salt and pepper the lamb chops, sprinkle them with rosemary and thyme and lay sliced garlic on each of the chops. Add in a tablespoon of butter and place the seasoned chops into a bag.  Seal the bag and immerse in the sous vide.  Cook for about an hour per inch of lamb chop thickness, I cooked mine for about 2 1/2 hours.  Once they are done sear quickly on high heat just to brown them and serve.

 

 

 

Cajun Wings and Matchstick Fries

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I am not even going to apologize… nope… not for single second.  To be clear, I’m also not going to point this post out to my health care professional, because even though I am not apologetic in any way, I’m also not a psychopath and I’m well aware that I should be riddled with guilt as a result of what I’m about to share with you.

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Look at these!!!!!  Seriously!  Who among us does not go weak at the knees at the sight of fried food? Yes, I know — It’s much more popular to brag about having a glass of wine or a weakness for chocolate or something a little more seemingly refined…and there is a time and place for that. I say let’s not forget the underdog — the deep fried crispy, juicy and well seasoned mini foods that we love and love to hate … I for one think that fried foods are lacking in air time these days.  I do not discriminate… Make no mistake… I have a very long list of foods that make me h.a.p.p.y!  And today — May long weekend Monday, when it snowed… YES… snowed after it poured freezing rain overnight… All this just after we experienced an unexpected reprieve from electricity for most of the daylight hours in our neck of the woods thanks to a very windy, cold and dreary day… I think these are well deserved. Can’t you just taste them?

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We tried a new piece of kitchen equipment a little while ago — you know the one… add a spoon of oil and set it awhirl for what — 30 minutes you say!  Much too long to have to wait between batches of the food most of us burn our fingers on as we grab for them while they’re still blazing hot… and small batches. The wings were not bad that way but the matchstick fries just could not be accomplished.  I hesitate to admit that we cleaned the day old kitchen machine and ran…. ran I tell you… back to the store regretful that we ever even thought for a second that it might be remotely capable of achieving the same results that the good old fashioned and out of fashion deep fryer would…. because it just DIDN’T.

 

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So why fight what works?  It just doesn’t make sense does it?  We didn’t think so, so after I had made P throw out our very old and clunky deep fryer and after we tried to replace it with that trendy kitchen gadget we gave in to our undeniable love for fried food and bought a new deep fryer, filled it with oil… yes…. OIL and set to work on some true unabashed comfort food.  So here you go… I dare you to indulge in these… maybe not everyday, that would just be wrong, but once in a while when the world outside seems to be going insane and you need some comfort in the form of fried food….. OMG… they are so damned good!

 

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Chicken Wings

  • couple dozen wings
  • bowl full of flour
  • Seasoning of choice
  • *** and yes…. a deep fryer!

Dredge the wings in flour as you wait for the fryer to heat up… toss the floured wings into the fryer and cook for 7-9 minutes.  Toss the fried wings into a bowl lined with a paper towel or two and season quickly with your seasoning of choice….. enjoy… don’t make excuses… just simply enjoy!

Rolled Egg Noodle Bake

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There is something magical about being outside in the fog as it overflows from the river, camera in hand, before the sun comes up on a crisp spring morning. The palette transforms from blue to grey to gold in a wave that can only experienced though patience and watchfulness. On a day when my youngest was moving through her own kind of palette, her life filling boxes, overflowing with all that she would need; I was up early, anxious in both good and bad ways to help her to transform herself as she moves out on her own. Unable to sleep in the dim grey light of night I walked though the house and caught a glimpse of the mist outside. This weather would give me an opportunity to capture some shots that would hopefully be worthy of hanging in her new house, images of the old, remembrances of where we last lived together… for her.

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As I walked around our neighborhood, lurking around trees and fences and birdfeeders, peeping through yards and driveways I had time to reflect on the day ahead.   This is what I had worked and hoped for over the last twenty some years. From the time I had my second daughter I had pushed for them to have a relationship that was close. When they were teens and fought relentlessly, I resorted to brainwashing, a technique that became a ‘go to’ manner of raising them. Initially I used this technique to try to convince my oldest into turning her little sister into a slave, the youngest only wanted to be around her, if only she would find ways to use that to her benefit rather than trying constantly to keep her away. It was a struggled for years and then one summer we had turned a corner. Maybe it was age and maturity, maybe it was that they both realized they were inextricably linked through a match in bone marrow we were fortunate enough to not have to resort to, maybe they were both just grateful that my oldest came home… It doesn’t matter why, it only matters that now as my youngest is getting ready to move she made the decision to move close to her sister and her sister is finally her closest friend.

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I have plans for the bedroom that my youngest has occupied for the last number of years, with its wall of windows I plan on moving my photography into that room, making use of the light and space to create a space of my own. I have been looking forward to this for a while. I can’t fill that room fast enough… not because I want that space so desperately but because its emptiness is a reminder that time moves on, things transform from darkness to grey to gold and then back again, over and over. And change, regardless of how positive, is difficult and sometimes painful, though for now I’m focusing on the light, how it changes, the beauty of it and the peacefulness I need to draw from it as I move, and as my daughter moves later today.

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Today is a day that is about finding comfort and I find comfort in the sunrise on a day filled with fog and mist and I find comfort in pasta, a food group I don’t eat as often as I’d like. I made these rolls a little while ago and they are delicious.  Home made egg pasta cut into lasagna sized strips, the filling of ricotta, slow roasted tomatoes, ground dried mushrooms, mozzarella cheese and spinach. So good, so comforting, if only I could eat them every day!

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Egg Pasta – rolled into strips about the size of lasagna (I used about 5 eggs and 2 1/2 cups flour, boiled for a couple of minutes, rinsed and set aside to fill.

Filling Mixture 

  • 500 gram container of ricotta
  • 1 cup grated Mozzarella
  • 1/4 cup ground dried mushrooms
  • 1/2 cup slow roasted tomatoes, though you can use sun dried
  • 1/2 cup chopped spinach

*The amount of filling will be dependent on how much pasta you have and want to fill.

Mix all the filling ingredients and allow to sit so that the mushroom crumbs have a chance to hydrate. Then spread the mixture along the pasta, roll, and stand up in a baking dish.

Once your dish is full, sprinkle with more grated cheese and oregano and dot with chunks of butter OR you can pour pasta sauce, my preference is minus the tomato/pasta sauce.

Bake at 350 degrees until all the cheese has melted and the rolls are hot.  Serve immediately.

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Cherry Cheesecake Chocolate Brownies

Posted by Pussycat in Sweets | Leave a comment

We all have those times in life when everything comes together to generate one of those perfect moments. When you wish time could just stop so that you could enjoy it a little longer and not have it slip away. I have lots of those moments or actually more like ‘times’ in my life when my children were little and so many more as they were growing up, when I caught myself smiling when no one was around because I just felt grounded and settled and peaceful with the world around me. I think that’s what Buddhists would call being in the Zen.  I imagine that Buddhists feel that far more often than most, I wonder if that’s not just a matter of “being present in the moment” and I’ve often thought about studying Buddhism in more depth so that maybe I could find that centered’ness’ and have it become a more prevalent part of my life.

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This morning, as many this time of year seems to generate those kinds of moments. When I wake up on a weekend morning, the sun is shining though the window onto the head of my bed, the squirrels and birds are squeaking and chirping, the breeze is cool enough to tell you that is going to be a beautiful day outside but not cold enough anymore to keep you under the covers… just… perfect. Mornings like today I stay in bed for a bit, long enough to not feel guilty about the time I’m letting slip away and long enough to really feel the day opening up.

 

I try not to run through the list in my head, laundry, cleaning, gardening and all the things that distract me from the peacefulness. I try to simply live in the moment. Inevitably, I get up and start moving ahead, typically only getting half of what I want to finish actually done. :) This is one of those kinds of days, cleaning up the basement from our sewer disaster, doing laundry, helping my youngest and the last child at home to pack for her move out on her own next weekend, thinking of the things I’d like to bake or cook and the books I’d like to read and slowly move forward in my day allowing some of the less urgent things slip off my list of things to do, hoping I’ll maybe catch up on them next weekend. But this is the last weekend with my daughter who is leaving home and so there are other things to get done… Sweetie… I hope you enjoy lots of ‘moments’ between the duties and details that life places on you now that you’ll be on your own! Moments when you stop and take stock and find pride and gratitude in all that you have and will accomplish.

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Clearly this is a weekend with little blog cooking and photography… there are more pressing matters at hand that steal my time, and so I am posting the second of the brownies that I made earlier in the week, the ones that weren’t posted at that time but were eaten very quickly. They are delicious. They have definitely turned me into a brownie fan… I wasn’t one before.

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I hope you enjoy them … and your moments whichever are the ones that make you stop and take stock of all the goodness in your life.

Sour Cherry Cheesecake Brownies (Slightly adapted from Skanios Mintys)

Brownie layer

  • 250 grams butter
  • 5 eggs
  • 300 grams white sugar
  • 70 grams high quality cocoa powder
  • 120 grams all-purpose flour
  • A pinch of salt (unless you’re using salted butter)

Melt the butter and leave to cool for a bit, I put mine in the microwave for about 1 minute on high. Mix sugar and eggs for about 5 mins, until it becomes pale and fluffy. Slowly pour in the melted butter while still mixing. Then gently mix in the flour, cocoa powder and salt until incorporated, but don‘t over mix. Pour into a 9×13 pan with parchment paper coated in spray.

Cheesecake layer

  • 300 grams cream cheese (room temperature)
  • 150 grams white sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 3  tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 50 ml milk
  • 250 grams cups Berries of choice – I used sour cherries

Mix all ingredients (except fruit) in a bowl or stand mixer with the paddle attachment and mix until smooth. It should be a nice pudding like consistency. Then gently stir in the berries careful not to break them apart and layer over the chocolate brownie base. Using a knife swirl it around so that you can see the chocolate layer peeking though. Just don’t over mix because then you won’t get the cheesecakey chunks… which by the way… are luscious! You can also reserve a few berries and lay them on top of the mixture, pressing them down gently before baking.

Bake at 350 degrees for about 40 – 45 minutes and let cool before attempting to lift out of the pan. Slice and enjoy!

Peanut Butter Cheesecake Brownie

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Usually when people hear the words, ‘unexpected vacation’ they think that someone was whisked off to a tropical destination; sun kissed sandy beaches, short loose dresses, sunscreen and plane rides to distant and beautiful places. I wish that were the case but alas my unexpected vacation is simply an unplanned day at home… awaiting the local septic guy and then later… when the news was shitty (excuse the pun)… awaiting another, more expensive guy to come and give us a cost of drilling a new line from the house to our septic tank. Not that we had a choice if we don’t like the number he comes up with… there is no relic of an outhouse we can resort to out back now that the weather is almost getting nicer.

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Seems we dodged a bullet late last week when on a windy day a couple of shingles flew off the roof and we were fortunate to find that it was just a matter of too much wind and too few nails, the rogue shingles were tacked back on as were the few flapping on the roof and we could forge ahead over this little bump in the road. Apparently this was not the case with the septic issue. Ah the joys of living in the country.

 

It was snowing this morning, I’m not wearing a summer dress or dowsing myself with sunscreen or better yet, baby oil, and I’m not cracking open a good book to read.   Instead I was pacing from one room to another, frustrated that I wasn’t at all prepared for a day off even in quasi-crappy weather.   Thank goodness for my work-wife’s vices… after texting my misery back and forth she suggested I make brownies. Actually… she suggested that she would be an assassin for some. Brownies aren’t something I make very often so… aware that I didn’t have much milk in the fridge and being subjected to a ‘waiting’ kind of house arrest I scanned Foodgawker for a brownie recipe that didn’t require much milk. Much to my surprise brownies don’t actually need much milk, if any at all.

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Thus my mission! I suppose at times like these my short attention span is very helpful. In between the arrival of repairmen I managed to make a couple of different brownies. Sour cherry cheesecake brownies since I had some sour cherries squirreled away in the freezer and peanut butter cheesecake chocolate brownies. I also decided to make some scratch pasta rolls…. These will be up on the blog soon… seriously a good comfort food for the kind of day we’re having at our house. :)

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For now I give you Peanut Butter Cheesecake Brownies… so good and easy they are absolutely sinful! Though they look a little like a dense cake… trust me… they come with all the brownie goodness. Thanks so much to Skanoismintys for the inspiration and the base of this recipe! And thanks to my sister wife for unexpectedly holding down the fort at work and for reminding me to BAKE SOMETHING! Cooking and baking really does take my mind off the crappy (again sorry for the pun) kind of week we’re having and it almost doesn’t feel like I’ve wasted a vacation day!

Brownie layer

  • 250 grams butter
  • 5 eggs
  • 300 grams white sugar
  • 70 grams high quality cocoa powder
  • 120 grams all-purpose flour
  • A pinch of salt (unless you’re using salted butter)

Melt the butter and leave to cool for a bit, I put mine in the microwave for about 1 minute on high. Mix sugar and eggs for about 5 mins, until it becomes pale and fluffy. Slowly pour in the melted butter while still mixing. Then gently mix in the flour, cocoa powder and salt until incorporated, but don‘t over mix.  Pour into a 9×13 pan with parchment paper coated in spray.

Cheesecake layer

  • 300 grams cream cheese
  • 150 grams white sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 3 – 4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 100 ml milk
  • 4 tablespoons of PB2

Mix all ingredients in a bowl or stand mixer with the paddle attachment and mix until smooth.  It should be a nice pudding like consistency.  Pour the Peanut Butter layer over the chocolate brownie base and using a knife swirl it around so that you can see the chocolate layer peeking though. Just don’t over mix because then you won’t get the cheesecakey chunks… which by the way… are luscious!

Bake at 350 degrees for about 40 – 45 minutes and let cool before attempting to lift out of the pan.  Slice and enjoy!

 

Kôprová Omáčka – Dill Sauce with Dumplings (Knedliky) and Beef

Posted by Pussycat in Main Dishes | 11 Comments

It’s a ‘sit by a roaring fire, read a good book, enjoy good meal’ kind of day at our house day today.   Spring was in the air yesterday and after some necessary tasks we sat out on the deck and loaded up on some much needed vitamin D. Today though the skies have clouded over and the rain began to fall. I understand that it’s the way the world feeds the earth below it, nourishing it, but rather than energize me it always seems to make me wilt just a little, the dreariness of it, the dampness of it. It reminds of me camping and laying in the trailer listening to the drip drop of rain on the roof. It reminds me of naps and makes me think of lost days.

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This rainy day I’m not hiding from the rain in a trailer but wandering around the house needing to cook something that will comfort me, take me home, bring back memories of a different kind of lost days.

This meal was one I grew up with back in the days before carbs were my nemesis; they were simply nourishment and comfort. This was one of our favorite meals. It’s heaviness indicative of the food my parents and grandparents ate back in the Czech Republic. You can still get this meal at many of the restaurants and people still enjoy it, it is filling and heavy and flavorful. It is a meal that is synonymous with Czech people.

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I’m guessing that the dumplings or knedliky were a homemade substitution for bread when people had far less access to fresh bread or potatoes on a consistent bases… but truly … that’s an claim that isn’t drawn from any actual history… Really I’m making up and it makes sense to me. If anyone knows the history by all means…. Please drop me a comment and help to enlighten me. I’m not and have never claimed to be a history buff regardless of how much I feel it would be helpful and useful.

The knedliky are delicious and pillowy and an absolute dream when used as a vehicle for a good hearty sauce. The Dill Sauce or Kôprová Omáčka is one I have always loved, creamy and bursting full of fresh dill, a little sourness from the vinegar…It’s flavour unlike anything else I’ve ever eaten. This distinctive flavour profile has been imprinted on me so deep I will never be able to escape.  To this day regardless of how much I try to stay away from heavier foods I will never turn down this meal…. and sometimes, every so often… I’ll even make it.

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So if you find yourself in Prague or another part of the Czech Republic on a dreary day and need some comfort indulge in this dish, you will not be disappointed. Or if you aren’t going to find yourself in that lovely European country anytime soon then make this at home, close your eyes and I swear you will feel transported.

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Knedliky – Dumplings

  • 3 Cups Flour
  • 3 Teaspoons Baking Powder
  • 1 Egg
  • 2 Cups Lukewarm Water
  • 1Teaspoon Salt
  • 1 day old Kaiser Bun (or other type)

Place flour, salt and baking powder in mixing bowl with the dough hook attachment and mix. Stop the mixer and create a well in the middle of the flour add the egg and about a ¼ cup of water. Mix on low speed to create a ball of dough adding water as needed. Slowly add water ensuring all the water is worked into the dough really well. Once you have a good soft ball of dough then pull the dough onto a work surface and knead in the chopped up bun. Day old buns work best, as they won’t fall apart when you work them into the dough. Ensure that the bread cubes are inside the dough; if they are outside they will get soggy as you boil the dough.

Form the dough into two even logs. Boil a large pot of water; I use a roasting pan so that the dumplings have enough room to expand. Boil the dumplings for 25 minutes in gently boiling water, turn half way through.

Once they are done, take them out gently and place on a cutting board. Some people have cut these with a knife but I was taught to use thread. You double up a white thread and slide it under the dumpling, criss-cross it over the top and pull through to cut through the dough. Cut through one after another with each of them about ¼ inch thick. Place in a bowl with paper towels under the lid so that the condensation doesn’t drip on the dumplings.

If you are not going to use them immediately steam to reheat. When steaming I put a paper towel under the lid so that the condensation doesn’t drip onto the them, as they really shouldn’t be wet.

Beef

Boil a beef roast in water with; bay leaves, carrots, celery, whole onion, peppercorns, and whole cloves of garlic in a soup pot and salt to taste. Boil the meat until it is tender then slice and reserve the broth for adding into the dill sauce.

Dill Sauce – Kôprová omáčka

  • ¾ Cup Butter
  • ½ Cup Flour
  • 3 Cups Milk
  • 2 large Ladles full of the Beef Broth
  • ½ Cup Vinegar
  • ¼ Cup Sugar
  • One whole bunch of chopped Fresh Dill

In a saucepan melt the butter and then add the flour, cook on low heat for about 3 – 5 minutes, stirring often not letting the flour burn. Then add the milk (it’s best if you warm it up in the microwave a bit so you’re not adding cold milk). Stir and cook until thick. Mix the vinegar, sugar and dill in a separate bowl and add this to the saucepan once the milk mixture is thick. Add the two ladles full of the beef broth, salt to taste and serve over the sliced meat and dumplings.

If you are not eating this right away the sauce will thicken each time it is cooled. In order to loosen it up add either milk or some beef broth as you are heating it up, add just enough to get a nice gravy consistency.

Maple Bourbon Banana Bread Pudding

Posted by Pussycat in Sweets | Leave a comment

Are you having a full moon kind of day? …. Did you have a full moon kind of week? Feeling like finding a way to incorporate booze into your life, when a drink is not only appropriate but also inevitable? I’m not a drinker. I will admit that I went through a phase, actually probably more than one, where some could say I drank to excess. But it was all in good fun and I still have a clear criminal record. I don’t even really like the taste of booze even though I grew up with the chest-warming feel of rum in most of the Czech chocolate in desserts. Having a drink, though seemingly fitting, just hasn’t really been my thing.

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It was just one of those kinds of days at work. I call it a ‘Calgon’ day. The dog is barking and spreading dirt around the house, the kids are crying, the pot of water is bubbling and spilling over, the phone is ringing and the woman screams out… “Calgon take me away” CUT to the screen where she is soaking in a tub full of lavish bubbles, her hair loosely pinned up instead of disheveled around her face, she is completely relaxed and far away from the insanity. It’s a cliché I know but a well impressed one if you ever watched television in the 70’s or 80’s. As it was first released in the 70’s and then I suppose so representative of how women were feeling, rereleased again in the 80’s. It’s one I love because it absolutely embodies the kind of day I was having, people weren’t just crying but barking, someone was spreading something in the waiting area and it wasn’t pleasant, the phone wouldn’t stop ringing and the strangest things came up while my work wife was away. How dare she take time off when I suspect there may have been a full moon. 😉 I’m sure that there wasn’t actually a full moon but for some people every day is a full moon inducing kind of day and I dealt with a few of those this past week.

 

It was one of those days when even if you close the office door, if you’re fortunate enough to have one, people bang on it… scramble to get in… and do so relentlessly. It was the kind of day I should have made this version of banana bread and shared it with staff at work… for brunch! :) I certainly wasn’t alone in the insanity.

 

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So if you can’t run away to a hot bubble bath in the midst of a crazy day, or if you feel want something super special then this is the super easy but very fancy tasting dish for you.

 

This warm banana bread with bourbon that I found in the Food and Wine magazine a while back fits the bill on all accounts. When I first saw it I was intrigued and had to make it. It was well worth it. So good. So warm. So simple to make. The sauce is gooey and delicious and the bourbon heats up the banana bread in a way that is not overly conspicuous but rather subtle enough to make alcohol taste amazingly good for those of us who don’t like to be assaulted by straight booze. Served with a bit of ice cream this dessert has become one of my favorites.

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Maple Bourbon Banana Bread Pudding (As found in Food and Wine)

Batter

  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • ½ cup icing sugar (or superfine sugar)
  • 1 overripe banana (mashed)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 cup milk (calls for whole but I used skim and it was fine)
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • pinch of salt

 Liquid

  • ¾ cup maple syrup
  • ½ cup water
  • ½ brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons bourbon
  • pecans for the top
  • ice cream for the side

 

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a 2 quart baking dish melt the butter and then whisk in the sugar and mash in the banana then add in the egg and milk until combined.

 

Mix the flour, baking powder and salt and add that into the dish with the wet ingredients.

In a glass or plastic measuring cup add the maple syrup, water, sugar and bourbon and microwave on high for about a minute or until hot. Then drizzle this mixture over the batter. Some of it will seep to the bottom and some of it may stay on top… don’t worry about it… and do not stir… the concoction will do its magic in the oven, seeping to the bottom and creating a gooey maple bourbon mess that is delicious, much like the topping of the best cinnamon buns you’ve ever had… with a slight kick!  Top with pecans and bake for about 40 minutes or until the cake is golden brown. Let it sit for a little bit and then serve with ice cream.

 

I’ve made this the morning of and left it on the counter so that we could have it room temperature after dinner and it was very good.   That way it makes for a very easy dessert if you’re having people over an need the oven for the main meal.     

Enjoy!