Saturday, June 26, 2010

Um, hi, I'm still here

Hi everyone - thanks for the e-mails and comments! I am still here and I do still plan on keeping up this blog, I've just been caught in the throws of graduation (for the hubby) and moving (for the whole family) and vacationing (yesss!). I'm ashamed to say that most of our culinary experiences have come straight out of a window on the side of a building lately...or out of our freezer. But we're moving in and I will have some delicious recipes coming this way in the near future! Don't give up on me! Oh, and in the meantime, you should go pick up some Brookside brand chocolate covered Acai berries at your friendly neighborhood Costco. I don't like chocolate covered raisins or anything like you can imagine my shock when I stumbled upon a couple of those nuggets of deliciousness and almost fell over, they were that good!!
Hope your summer is fantastic! I'll be back soon!

Friday, June 4, 2010

Blue Cheese Scallion Drop Biscuits

Let me just start by saying that I've never made a homemade biscuit that I really love. Really, I haven't. Until now, anyway. I made these the other day for some friends and I thought they were just amazing. Scallions and blue cheese? Yum. In a perfectly constructed biscuit? Amazing. Easy, too! I served them with White Chili...mmmmm.
There are a lot of pictures in this post. It turns out when the weather finally starts to come around and you have a lot of natural light in your house again little things like chopped green onions can look all profound:
The recipe says to mix in the butter with your fingers until it's crumbly. That technique is to ensure that the butter doesn't get completely incorporated into the mixture, but stays in clumps which will create pockets of flaky deliciousness. You can get the same end product with a pastry blender, which I happen to have, and seeing as I already wash my hands about 100 times a day chasing after my two little ones, I figured it was a good idea to spare one hand washing and just go straight to the pastry blender.
Awaiting their turn in the oven, just moments away from reaching their fullest potential of deliciousness:I was really pleasantly surprised by the splurges of cheese that I felt in my mouth. The recipe has you blend it just enough that the cheese flavor is infused throughout the biscuit, yet also in concentrated pockets. These will be my go-to biscuits for a long time to come.Oh, and I used gorgonzola, because that's my favorite. But you can use whatever kind you like. She actually adapted this recipe from a cheddar drop-biscuit, so you could potentially use that as well. She also mentions freezing them at the dough stage after dropping them onto the cookie sheet and then placing them in a plastic freezer bag for another day. Next time I make these I will definitely be doubling the recipe and freezing half of them.

5 stars!

Recipe here and below.

Blue Cheese Scallion Drop Biscuits

Adapted from Gourmet

These are everything a good drop biscuit should be; super speedy to make (one bowl!), with a golden craggy crust and soft interior. I (only) made a couple changes to this. Based on responses on the original recipe, I added an additional scallion and because I completely missed the ingredient when I read the recipe, I didn’t add the baking soda. And they were still fluffy and delicious. But I bet they’d even be more so with it.

If you’re blue cheese-averse, you can make this with an equal volume of coarsely grated cheddar.

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons sugar
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick or 3 ounces) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 1/2 cups crumbled blue cheese
4 scallions, finely chopped
1 cup well-shaken buttermilk (or, you can make your own)

Preheat oven to 450°F. Whisk together flour, baking powder, sugar, baking soda, and salt in a bowl, then blend in butter with your fingertips until mixture resembles coarse meal. Stir in blue cheese and scallions. Add buttermilk and stir until just combined.

Drop dough in 12 equal mounds about 2 inches apart onto a buttered large baking sheet, or one lined with parchment paper. Bake in middle of oven until golden, 16 to 20 minutes.

Do ahead: Biscuits are always best the day they are baked. However, if you wish to get a lead on them, you can make them, drop them onto your baking sheet, freeze them until they are firm, and place them in a freezer bag or container until you’re ready to bake them. They can be baked while still frozen (straight from the freezer), you’ll just want to add a few minutes to the baking time.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Salad with Chocolate Balsamic Dressing and Chocolate Covered Bacon!!

Wowza. Did you check that title? This one's a little crazy, but very fun...and delicious, I would add. I had a dinner party to go to the other night in which we all had to bring food that had one of two 'secret' ingredients: Chocolate or Citrus. Naturally, I had to bring something with chocolate in it.

I thought this dressing was delicious, especially when paired with a yummy salad. Really, just delicious. It's such a great flavor, perfectly tangy, yet just sweet enough. And we all know you can't go wrong with strawberries and balsamic. Plus, when you serve something like salad with chocolate dressing and chocolate covered bacon, you've already got 10 minutes worth of conversation right there, so, that adds to its luster.

I need to emphasize here that in the case of this dressing, I think a salad with some sort of goat cheese and fresh mint is crucial to really making this dressing pop and having people say, "wow, what is this??" Just fyi.

Moving along. The idea of chocolate covered bacon is not an Alicia original. I was introduced to it in this recipe, which I thought was desperately lacking altogether. Since I had a bunch of chocolate covered bacon left over from it, I started searching for ideas to use up the scores of chocolate covered bacon I had leftover. As it turns out, chocolate covered bacon has a serious following on the internet! Some people even go so far as to drizzle it with white chocolate, dress it with a bow and give it as gifts! While it's not my cup of tea, I still found it interested. So, since the idea of chocolate covered bacon seemed intriguing, and I had some left over from the above recipe, I figured I'd try it out on this salad.

Now, you should know that I am not a fan of bacon. In fact, my husband had to show me where it was located in the store and has since coached me in how to cook it over the years (because when I cook it I rarely, if ever, eat it, so I never really know what is "good" bacon). However, I thought that, covered in chocolate, it was pretty good on the salad. If you want a vegetarian alternative, I think you could maybe do chocolate covered salted nuts or seeds of some sort (cashews or pumpkin seeds come to mind, but I'm sure others would be good, too).

All in all, I'd give the dressing 5 stars. Don't put too much on or it's too strong. But in the right amount, it just sings. The chocolate covered bacon is more of a fun touch, but since I don't really love bacon, I don't think I'm a really good rater for that. I will say, it ranks as 5 stars in the conversation piece category!

Enjoy! Recipe for the dressing found here and below. I've converted the metric portions to cups and ounces here, so please note that they are approximate. For instructions on how to make chocolate dipped bacon, see this recipe and just follow the portion of directions for the chocolate dipped bacon.

Chocolate Balsamic Dressing


1/2 Cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 Cup white sugar
3-4 oz Dark chocolate (70% Cacao or higher)


To make the dressing: Place balsamic vinegar in a saucepan, add sugar and dissolve over a gentle heat. Remove from heat and stir in chocolate. Leave to cool at room temperature. Do not refrigerate or dressing will solidify.