Martha Mondays: 9/27

September 20, 2010

Teresa at A Homemade Iowa Life has chosen pear and apple phyllo crisps from October Living for next week’s project.  Let me know if you need the recipe!

Martha Mondays: Roasted Fall Vegetables Soup

September 20, 2010

Today’s project was chosen by Pru at Perfecting Pru. This (click here for recipe) is a great fall dish. And I have to say it was pretty easy to make. You roast all of the vegetables (red potatoes, red onions, garlic, butternut squash, and carrots) at 450. Then you puree them with water (I used chicken broth and I used a handheld blender to puree instead of the blender method). You push it through a fine mesh strainer (this took a while), then add more liquid, a little lemon juice and salt and pepper. I added some cream and a pinch of dried mustard, as well as a pinch of salt. I served it with a dollop of sour cream in each bowl.

I loved, loved, loved this. It’s fantastic. It has a really deep, rich flavor that is very complex. And it is really something you can have made in about an hour and a half (an hour of which is just roasting time). I will definitely make this again and will probably play with the ingredients. Parsnip or rutabaga might be fun to try. I often make butternut squash soup in the fall, but this has a deeper, more complex flavor that I really loved. Mr. MarthaAndMe liked it, even though he generally is not a fan of butternut. Dude Martha did not care for it. Sigh.

This made a lot and I froze some for future dinners, so that’s a big plus!

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John Barricelli and Me (and Choc Pie)

September 17, 2010

John Barricelli has been on Martha’s show many times and he’s also appeared in the magazines and is a host of Everyday Food. He’s one of her cast of characters. He kind of fascinates me because there’s something weird about him. Is he nervous around Martha? Uncomfortable? Annoyed? I don’t know what it is but I keep watching. He always seems so very confident about his baking and Martha always raves about his bakery cafe. He’s got a new cookbook out called The Sono Baking Company Cookbook, which I just got. So far I’m in love.

My first try from it was the chocolate cream pie. Now this is something I love, but never, never have. No one serves that anymore, but they should.

This pie was to die for. Major OMG moment. The crust is incredible. I know it sounds simple (graham cracker with chocolate) but it ends up having this fabulous nutty flavor and crunchy texture. And the filling. Well. It was stupendous. I put whipped cream on top of mine as instructed, but next time I wouldn’t bother. It doesn’t need it.


1 1/4 cup graham cracker crumbs

5 tbsp unsalted butter, melted

3 tbsp sugar

1/8 tsp salt

1  2/3 oz semisweet chocolate, coarsely grated on large holes of a grater (about 1/2 cup)


6 large egg yolks

3/4 cup sugar

1/3 cup cornstarch

3 cups milk

1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

4 oz semisweet chocolate, finely chopped

1/4 tsp salt

1 tbsp vanilla

4 tbsp unsalted butter

Preheat oven to 350. Grease a 9 inch pie pan.

To make the crust, mix the crumbs, melted butter, sugar and salt. Add the chocolate. Press into the pan. Chill for 30 min, then bake for 18-20 min.

To make the filling: whisk egg yolks, half the sugar, cornstarch, and 1/2 cup of milk.

In a saucepan, mix the rest of the sugar, the rest of the milk and the cocoa, chocolate and salt. Bring to a simmer, whisking. Gradually pour the milk mix into the egg mix, tempering it.

Pour the mixture through a strainer back into the saucepan then boil over medium heat, whisking constantly. Boil for 10 seconds, whisking, making sure it boils in the center of the pan, not just on the sides. It will thicken to a pudding like consistency.

Pour into a bowl and use a mixer for 2-3 minutes to cool it. Add vanilla. With the mixer running, add butter in small pieces, a little at a time. Pour it into the pie crust and chill for 2-3 hours.

If you want whipped cream on top, whisk 3/4 cup heavy cream with 2 tbsp powdered sugar until soft peaks form then spread on top of chilled pie.

Now for my notes! I goofed and dumped the cocoa into the eggs instead of the saucepan. I was not about to dump it out so I left it and everything turned out just fine.

I used a deep dish pie pan and I can’t imagine how you could use anything else since it was filled to the rim. Make sure you get that crust all the way up the sides. Next time, I think I am going to double the crust because I had trouble getting it to completely cover my pan.

I think it needs to chill longer than 2-3 hours. It wasn’t cold enough at that point in my opinion. Give it a good 5-6 hours.

This was fabulous. I’m going to try it with dark chocolate next time I think.

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Meet Manfred

September 16, 2010

I’d like to introduce you to a member of our family, Manfred. Manfred is a special starter I bought in Savannah at the Savannah Candy Kitchen (you must go there at least to see the pralines). It’s made by Miss Edie’s (check out the site to order the starter and also for recipes). It’s not a sourdough starter exactly – more of a sweet sourdough starter, which is why I like it so much. It’s not super sour at all. I picked some up when we were staying on Hilton Head several years ago and started using it after the trip. Dude Martha was little at the time, and fascinated with the fact that it was alive and I had to feed it. So of course, he gave it a name. Manfred. I don’t know why.

Manfred stayed with us for a year or two but at some point I lost track of the feeding and baking cycle (which can be exhausting since you’ve got to feed it every 3-5 days and at least dump some out at that point- or bake with it to avoid Manfred guilt) and Manfred died. Sniff. A friend went to Savannah this summer and I sent her a long email with all of my recommendations (where to eat and shop – the most important factors in any trip). I mentioned the candy kitchen and Manfred. To thank me for helping her, she brought back a jar of Manfred for me. Thanks Jay!

So Manfred lives again. And this time, I’m going to stay on top of it, or at least find out if I can freeze him. Dude Martha helped me make our first batch of Manfred. I first used Miss Edie’s white bread recipe from the site (go to the recipe section to see all of them), but subbed out some wheat flour. The bread was good. It is slightly sweet (kind of like challah is sweet, but it is a much heavier bread than challah). If you let it sit a bit after baking, it slices nicely (if you’re impatient it shreds all over).

Manfred was delicious as always, although he never seems to rise as high as Miss Edie says and always takes longer to bake for me.  One of my favorite things to do with Manfred is make hot pretzels. I use a recipe I have for pretzels and sub in Manfred for the water and yeast. They turn out very nicely.

I also tried Manfred waffles, using Miss Edie’s recipe. They were great. The

oat bread

recipe on her site says they make 12, but I ended up with about 6 big round Belgian waffles. I like that recipe because it uses wheat flour instead of white.

And I made Miss Edie’s whole wheat and oat bread using Manfred. This bread was fantastic, but time consuming. You have to mix the starter with some flour and water and let it sit overnight (beware: fruit flies LOVE this stuff), then make a sponge, let it rise, add flour and let it rise, then make loaves and let it rise before finally baking it.

In the past, I made Miss Edie’s recipe for cinnamon buns with Manfred and that was good too, so I’ll probably give it a try again soon. I want to try out the other recipes on her site and experiment with some of my own. Manfred is fun, but I’m already starting to feel pressured. He needs to be fed soon. It’s like Little Shop of Horrors in my fridge. Fortunately, Dude Martha is old enough to do the feeding if I remind him, so that helps. But I still can’t bring myself to dump some out when we feed (as you can see from the large amounts of baked goods I’ve already made!).

And on top of this, I’ve got a package of Alaska sourdough starter I bought on this summer’s vacation. I can’t handle two starters at the same time, so that one will have to wait in the cupboard until I’m ready to bring it to life. I wonder what would happen if I combined them?

Do you have starter that you use?

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MS Cupcake Club: Cookies and Cream Cupcakes

September 15, 2010

After a couple of months of missing it, I was happy to be able to participate in September’s Martha Stewart Cupcake Club. This month’s recipe is cookies and cream cheesecake cupcakes, from the Martha Stewart Cupcake book. The idea is that these make mini cheesecakes. You put an Oreo at the bottom and make a cheesecake batter with crushed Oreos in it.

I used reduced fat cream cheese without even thinking about it – that’s what I always buy. I think that might have been a mistake since I could not get these to set up. I baked them for 10 minutes longer than Martha said and they were still wiggly. I took them out and hoped that when they chilled they would set up. They were mushy. You couldn’t peel the wrapper off, so we ended up eating them with spoons. Oh well. They still tasted great and if they had set up, they would have been beautiful. So lesson learned here – use regular cream cheese!

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Stuffed Trout

September 14, 2010

We eat a lot of fish, but I often find our choices pretty limited. Trout is almost always available and I enjoy the texture and flavor. Mostly I just grill fish or pan sear it. I get tired of that sometimes. One variation I’ve created is Stuffed Trout.

I mix up stuffing using some hunks of old bread (about 5 slices of bread), ripped up into small pieces. I cook 1/4 of an onion and add it to the bread. Then I dump in some herbs. I usually add dill, salt, pepper and sometimes I will use thyme or oregano. Fresh parsley is a must. I get the stuffing wet with chicken broth – wet enough that you can squish it up. It needs to be nice and moist.

I use 2 trout – essentially the whole fish, but with head, tail and all the nasty stuff gone. I place the stuffing between the two sides of the trout and fold the top piece over. I bake it at 350 for about 35 minutes.

I serve with a basic hollandaise sauce, but sometimes I add dill to the sauce or some reduced orange juice. This is a very satisfying dish – you feel like you’re having turkey and stuffing, but it’s a light fish dish (assuming you don’t use too much hollandaise!).

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Martha Mondays 9/20

September 14, 2010

Thanks Pru at Perfecting Pru for next week’s pick: Roasted Fall Vegetable Soup. It should be a great choice as fall moves in.

Watching the New Shows

September 13, 2010

I just had to put up a quick little post to say I watch Martha’s season opener today on Hallmark and I also watched Everyday Food (for the first time) and Lucinda (Mad Hungry). I hope you’ll share your thoughts on these with me – I would love to hear what you think.

As for Martha, first of all, I thought she looked fantastic. “Rested,” perhaps? That segment with the MTV guys was weird. It has nothing to do with Martha and it was awkward due to the time delay. Just awful. The interview with Jennifer and Alexis was awkward. Very stilted and strange. I haven’t watched their show yet (tonight maybe I will get to it) but it looks kind of odd. Jennifer has lost a ton a weight and looks fantastic. The questions from the audience were strange and the answers worse. They couldn’t name any of their upcoming guests? What did Martha think they did to prepare for the show? They seemingly had nothing to talk about. It was all just uncomfortable to watch. Jennifer tries to please Martha. Alexis remains aloof and snotty. Very weird TV.

I skipped the pet segment. The cookie segment with Sarah Carey and John Baricelli was also a little odd. All they did was dunk cookies in sugar – not a lot of baking there! The cookies sound good though and I may have to print out the recipe. I love Lucinda, but a quesadilla with bacon, cheese and peppers? Not exciting.

Onto Lucinda’s show, Mad Hungry. I’ve GOT to make those pork chops. And the potato wedges. And the cabbage. Sigh. I’ve got her cookbook and really liked it but haven’t tried these items. I was surprised her show was an hour – it seemed like a long time. Loved her set – it was very her. I may have to allow Teen Martha a peek at her son Calder who is quite cute! This is a show I will definitely tune into, although I do have a tendency to fast forward through the boring parts.

Everyday Food. This was my first time catching this. I was surprised that each segment was a different host. I kind of liked it for quick ideas but I don’t know if it is something I would sit down and watch on a regular basis. And when did Sarah Carey have long hair? It’s been short every time I’ve ever seen her.

So those are my impressions. What were yours?

Update: I watched Whatever. Not quite sure what to think. Jennifer seemed VERY nervous, but looked fantastic. The opener was a little awkward, but as always I enjoy hearing Alexis complain about Martha. The guest segments seemed really long. Are there fewer commercials on Hallmark? Paula Abdul was fun. Partially incoherent as usual. I would have liked to know more about what her new show really is about. The dance lesson was lame.  I fast forwarded through most of the guy who has had over 100 Internet dates. I just didn’t care! I liked the third guest, about the beauty products and am going to get her book. I will continue to tape this and watch it at least for now. I don’t quite ‘get’ how this is different from other talk shows yet, but maybe it will evolve.

Martha Mondays: Marinated Steak

September 13, 2010

Thanks to Sara at Sassy Suppers for today’s pick, marinated steak from Sept Living. This is a Lucinda recipe (I heart Lucinda – her new show on Hallmark starts today; I will be tuning in!). The article offered two marinades – Mediterranean or Latin. I made the Mediterranean. The idea behind this is to buy an inexpensive cut of meat (I bought flank) and marinate it to tenderize it. I love the idea of this, but have to tell you I have a bad memory of this! We had dinner with some people once years ago and the wife told me she did just this – however she marinated her steak in a wooden bowl. She showed me the bowl and it was old and worn – not even sealed with anything. Eeek. I had a few nibbles, but was terrified of food poisoning, so I didn’t eat much and whenever I think of marinating flank steak, I think of her and wonder that she is still alive.

I got past that bad memory and trusted Lucinda (and used a glass dish for mine). The marinade was very easy – 4 smashed garlic cloves, olive oil, rosemary, vinegar and salt and pepper and a tsp of sugar. That’s it. I marinated my steak for about 10 hours. Then I grilled it.It grilled quickly too since it was so thin. Lucinda said about 4 minutes a side and that was exactly right (I appreciated that direction because I am usually at the grill with a knife, trying to peek inside meat to see if it’s cooked).

This turned out perfectly. The steak was not tough and the marinade gave it a great flavor. I had leftovers, so I used them to make little philly steak sandwiches with some onions and cheese the next day. Yummy. I still love filet, but Lucinda has convinced me flank steak is doable.

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Mixed Bean Salad

September 10, 2010

Martha's Salad

There used to be a restaurant on Canandaigua Lake that we went to every summer, called the Pan-Tree Inn. They had the best sweet rolls, chicken pot pie, and an amazing three bean salad. It closed though, and I was forced to try to replicate the bean salad and did so pretty successfully. I was willing to put Martha’s to the test (from Sept Everyday Food)to see if hers was better. I thought the addition of fresh green beans might improve it.
Martha’s recipe:
1/2 lb green beans, cut in half and blanched
1 can kidney beans
1 can garbanzo beans
2 tbsp cider vinegar
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp fresh oregano
1 shallot, finely chopped
2 tsp grainy mustard

Fail. Sorry. This was ok, but I did not like the texture of crunchy green beans with canned kidney and garbanzo. Here’s the recipe I came up with that replicated the restaurant one I loved:

Pan-Tree Inn Three Bean Salad

1  16 oz can green beans, drained

1 16 oz can yellow beans, drained

1 16 oz can kidney beans, drained and rinsed

1 cup thinly sliced onion rings

1 red bell pepper, chopped

2 tbsp parsley, chopped

1/3 cup cider vinegar

1/2 cup sugar

1/3 cup vegetable oil

1/2 tsp pepper

1/2 tsp salt

Mix beans, onion, red pepper and parsley. Mix vinegar, sugar, oil, salt and pepper in a saucepan and heat to a boil. Pour over bean mix. Store in the refrigerator.

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