Thursday, November 12, 2009

The next four weeks

Just a quick note to say that Anatole and I are in Oregon visiting my family and enjoying all sorts of familiar comfort food. Highlights so far: crock pot pot roast, homemade cherry-habanero sauce, refrigerator muffins, and steel-cut oats. More details soon...

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Carrot rice soup and apple clafoutis

Dinner last night was a bowl of delicious carrot rice soup and a slice of warm apple clafoutis. I am a huge fan of soup, and I can't stop baking with apples these days, so this was the perfect combination to keep me busy before dinner.

I saw the carrot rice soup on Everybody Likes Sandwiches and thought it looked really easy and really good. I didn't have dried chilis or marjoram in the house, so I substituted a teaspoon of herbs de provence instead. The recipe mentions that the soup can be made with either pre-cooked rice (white or brown) or dry rice cooked directly in the soup. I chose to make a batch of brown rice ahead of time and stir it into the pureed soup. This is a wonderfully deep-flavored soup that's perfect for chilly fall days. The only thing missing in mine was salt. I thought that my homemade chicken stock (from my pot pie expedition) would impart enough saltiness, but no. I simply added a pinch or two of ground sea salt after the fact, and that worked fine.

Sometimes when I make soup I like something sort of fun to go with it. That's where the clafoutis came in. I had apples and while I'd only made clafoutis before with plums or cherries, I googled apple clafoutis and discovered the most amazing recipe courtesy of Michael Chiarello (my photo doesn't come close to doing this dessert justice). Ever seen Michael on the Food Network? He has to be one of the nicest cooking souls around. I did not adapt the recipe in any way except that I used 2% instead of whole milk, because that's all I had in the fridge. It didn't seem to negatively affect the baked clafoutis in any way. We had a near-empty container of Greek yogurt in the fridge, so I added a dollop of that to my piece and some creme fraiche to the boys' pieces. Alan couldn't stop raving about it but then he's a fan of virtually anything if it's origins are French.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009


For a recent girls night out, I said I'd bring dessert. I'm not really sure why, but I became infatuated with making something in the peanut butter-chocolate family. Maybe it was because we were getting close to Halloween, and I was dreaming of peanut butter cups. Or maybe it was that a neighbor presented me with a handful of lovely horse chestnuts that, though inedible, remind me of chocolate covered peanut butter balls, also known as Buckeyes.

I did some checking around and the word buckeye has multiple significance. The candy, buckeyes, made by dipping little mounds of peanut butter fudge into melted chocolate, are said to resemble the eyes of male deer (bucks). Then there's the Ohio buckeye, the state tree, along with the Ohio State University Buckeyes, the name of the school's sports teams and students.

But I digress. What you're really after is the recipe, which I liberally adapted from various recipes floating around the web.


1c (236g) soft butter
2c (475g) peanut butter - creamy or crunchy
4c (1000g) powdered sugar - divided in half

1.5 bars of dark chocolate (I used 70%) -- chopped into small pcs
1/2t vegetable shortening or oil

1. Mix butter and peanut butter together until well incorporated and blended.

2. Slowly add in sugar and taste after dumping and mixing in the first half. You want enough sugar to be able to roll the mix into balls, but not so much that it's sickeningly sweet (but if that's your thing, by all means...)

3. Once your mix is ready, stick the bowl in the fridge for 20 or 30 minutes.

4. Remove from fridge and, with clean hands and using your palms, roll bits of mix into 1" balls. Place balls on a baking sheet lined with either waxed paper or foil.

5. Once your tray is full, place either in fridge for 30 min or freezer for 15 min

6. Melt chocolate and shortening. If you have an ice cream scooper, you'll want to have it handy. Once chocolate is melted fill the scoop with chocolate and dip cold peanut butter ball into the chocolate, coating half or more. Place on new sheet of waxed paper or foil and, once finished with the batch, re-refridgerate or freeze. Makes about 70, depending on the size of your balls. That sounds funny.