T-fal 12-inch nonstick, oven safe, saute pan (name long enough?)

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t-fal saute pan – 12″ – yeah!

T-fal E93808 Professional Total Nonstick Oven Safe Thermo-Spot Heat Indicator Fry Pan / Saute Pan Dishwasher-Safe Cookware (thing), 12-Inch, Black – longest name ever – just saying.

  • Prometal Pro nonstick interior is exceptionally durable and scratch resistant, safe for use with metal utensil – will never do that – thanks to Get it Right spatulas.
  • The unique T-fal Thermo-spot heat indicator shows when T-fal pan is perfectly preheated for cooking.
  • Riveted Silicone Handles for comfort grip. Isn’t that just so cute? Not really sure what it means. I’m blonde. No, really.
  • Dishwasher safe; Oven safe to 350 degrees F.
  • Safe for all cooking methods including induction – cool!*

On Amazon, this is usually about $40, which isn’t bad for a saute pan, especially one with praise of American’s Test Kitchen. In fact, if you watch that show, or its companion, Cook’s Country, you’ll see this pan used a lot.
I had it on my wishlist on Amazon and the MotH went to purchase some water filters for the refrigerator, and receive a notice that the price had dropped – to $26 – really? Super cool! So he asked and said yes (yep, this happened 13 years ago too) – no brainer there (either time). He bought it for me. And I love it. I’ve been hand washing it – that’s how much I love it. Crazy, right?

*stole all the bullet points from Amazon. But snarky comments are my own – surprised? I hope not.

Baking involves planning – if you want to make it easy.

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Easy Baking

I love to bake. I think that is probably obvious. I learned an important lesson from my mom when it comes to this. Measuring out the dry ingredients – flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt – is beyond time consuming and amazingly boring. So I use her plan to make it easy for weeknight baking which is always a pleasant surprise for the people I work with (hate ending sentence like that  – see grammar nazi – thank you Bug Martini – funny and wrong at the same time – love it!).

Once again, side tracked. So here, really, is how I do this. Say on the weekend, I’ve decided to make cookies or a cake, so I have to measure the dry ingredients, otherwise the recipe won’t work – Surprise! But while the recipe of my choice bakes, I pull out all the other recipes of things I’m thinking about baking and I just go ahead and measure and sift (I always sift) the dry ingredients and put them in labeled zip-top bags. Simple enough.

My mom did this at the holidays because her banana nut bread was a gift to her close friends and she made an assembly line of it, but that works for any baked thing really. At some point, once you have flour on the counter, it doesn’t really matter, does it?

 

Food: the pulse of my southern culture and my community

I buy more cookbooks than I use which makes me feel bad that I don’t give each of them their due – Not enough time in the day – not enough days in a week – seasons go by so fast. I have great intentions, make lists (surprise!), read and consider things to make, but too often I get side-tracked by another cookbook I already have, or by some random thing that I’m obsessed with making at that moment. Friggin inter web. Or something the Boy wants – don’t mind that at all.

Being from south of the Mason-Dixon, born of two North Carolinians in Florida (which isn’t, if you are from NE Florida, part of the South really – too many transplants), raised on what could best be described as country food, Southern food, soul food, and poor people food, but wickedly good food, is an amazing heritage to have and one that is strangely unique.

There are so many things that I remember and want to share with my family. There is also so much that I have yet to learn and didn’t learn before my mom died. That is the heart of this problem.

My father’s family was from North Carolina via Georgia and my mom is also from a very small town North Carolina town – town is kind of stretch when my uncle was mayor and there is only one stop light. Her first husband was from rural North Florida which I think influenced her NC cooking because my mom spent lots of time with her lovely in-laws, who I was blessed to know, but briefly.

So my cooking influences are plain and simple and Southern. There is so much history in the south of iconic Southern recipes – some simplified, but those aren’t the ones I am really interested in. I’d like the ones that my two lovely short grandmothers worked with – you know, the ones without the inclusion of processed foods that seem some times so ubiquitous now in “southern” food.*

I think there are so many Southern recipes that have moved around the south and you see slight variations from all your family and friends (and their families). Sausage balls, creamed beef on toast, collards and cornbread, tomato gravy over rice, country fried steaks, real mac n cheese, sweet potato casserole with lots of pecans – this could just go on forever.  Not to mention boiled peanuts  – can’t wait for fall for the biggest and best green peanuts from Jay, Fl. Totally forgot about hoe cakes – damn.

Now if I could only find a recipe for pork ‘n bean salad with celery and onions.** Guess I need to start looking at church cookbooks.

This feels like an odd kind of manifesto. Maybe it is.

*Think bisquick and condensed soups, especially condensed soups – ugh.

**I do want this recipe, but somehow I have the strange feeling it won’t measure up to my memory of it. I do think memories work that way and maybe it’s best to leave things alone. Who is to say?

 

Get it Right skinny spatula

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Get It Right skinny spatula – orange

I know I said back in the bleak winter of January that I would order a black spatula next. But then we went through spring and this summer I finally got around to ordering my third spatula and I just couldn’t help myself … I stayed in the citrus colors that I started with – lemon, lime, and now orange. I did change up models though. I am now the proud owner of an orange skinny Get it Right spatula. Which meant the demise of one of my inferior spatulas – good riddance puny weak spatula.

I know it sounds weird to wax poetic about a spatula, but these are amazing. They hold up well to everything I’ve dished out at them, seem almost indestructible, and clean up easy in the dish washer (no worry about melting). If that were not enough, they are super reasonably priced.
I’ve told my friends about them. I know what you’re thinking – only a strange person would do that. But my friends know I’m a kitchen nerd, so this comes as no great surprise to them.
Just wondering what color to order next … guess it depends on the time of year.

(Lack of) Pie Repertoire

We were not a potato family growing up – that’s not to say we didn’t eat potatoes at all, but at any given meal, the starch of choice was rice. So, therefore, while I do love hash browns and home fries, I am not a huge fan of french fries, and definitely not of mashed potatoes. So, I in turn, don’t turn to potatoes all that often (potato salad excepting – there will more on that shortly). Latkes are a part of my Christmas tradition and I love a good corned beef hash w/onions and potatoes, but my repertoire is not very extensive.

The same holds true for pies. The only pie my mom made, as far as I can remember, was pecan pie for me for my birthday – that was my birthday “cake.” I don’t remember a single apple or berry pie from my childhood at all. No pumpkin or sweet potato either. Therefore the only pie I make on a regular basis is a pecan pie. I do make an occasional lemon curd tart thanks to an excellent recipe from the original (1992) Martha Stewart’s Pies and Tarts cookbook.* But I think it is past time to remedy this situation.

But then the question arises – how to do this when there are only three of us? And of those three, one who does not care for sweets, no less. Whole pies don’t make sense for just three people – at least not in my head they don’t. Is there a way of making smaller – individual pies?

Well, I did a little research and there is – I just purchased a 6″ glass pie dish from Williams-Sonoma. While I wait on the delivery, I will have time to decide how to down size recipes for pies that I want to try. Math is not my strong suit. Sigh.

What better time to start a round of individual pies than summer – and my first project will be a blueberry cream cheese pie. Blueberries are super inexpensive right now and I can get locally grown ones too — all the better.

* Amazingly good lemon curd recipe! There are many excellent recipes in this book and I will be getting more than just the lemon curd and green tomato pie sections messy in the near future.  The pictures are amazing – esp. the one of curds made from store bought eggs vs. fresh farm eggs. Need to find an egg source here that isn’t too far away.

Old Fashioned Lemon Sugar Cookies

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Old Fashioned Lemon Sugar Cookies

There is no such thing as too many lemon cookies or varieties of lemon cookies to try. I’m hard pressed to think of any lemon cookie that I wouldn’t try. I don’t get distracted often with other cookies, unless the Boy wants something in particular, so I guess that helps.
These are a Martha Stewart recipe that I had not tried before. They are excellent sugar cookies, but I really could have gone for more lemon flavor. I made the smaller than called for because I don’t care for really big cookies – they do spread so keep that in mind when spacing them. They are crisp and are very light. Loved them, but would like more lemon. But maybe that’s just me.

3 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 3/4 cups granulated sugar

1/4 cup packed light-brown sugar

1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest, plus 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1 cup unsalted butter, (2 sticks), softened

2 large eggs

Sanding sugar, for sprinkling – I used raw sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Sift flour, baking soda, and salt into a bowl; set aside.

Put sugars and lemon zest in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on medium speed 30 seconds. Add butter; mix until pale and fluffy, about 1 minute. Mix in eggs, 1 at a time, and then the lemon juice. Reduce speed; gradually add flour mixture, and mix until just combined.

Scoop dough using a 2-inch ice cream scoop; space cookies 2 inches apart on parchment-lined baking sheets. Flatten cookies slightly with a spatula. Sprinkle tops with sanding sugar, then lightly brush with a wet pastry brush; sprinkle with more sanding sugar.

Bake cookies until golden, about 15 minutes. Let cool on sheets on wire racks for 5 minutes. Transfer cookies to racks using a spatula; let cool completely. Cookies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature up to 3 days.

MS

14 July 2015 – made smaller cookies, 10 minutes at 350 degrees.

2015 Butter Usage (by month – June)

1 June 2015 – 8 Tbs – Lemon Buttermilk Poundcake

2 June 2015 – 2 Tbs – Lemon Glaze

11 June 2015 – 3 Tbs – Pasta with asparagus and mushrooms

11 June 2015 – 8 Tbs – Banana Nut Bread – for Fred. Love my Dad!! And his name is not Fred, it’s just what I call him.

25 June 2015 – 16 Tbs – Sugared Lemon Cookies with Lemon Glaze

37 Tbs = 4.625 sticks = 1.15625 pounds

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Lemon Buttermilk Pound Cake

Sugared Lemon Cookies with Lemon Glaze

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Sugared Lemon Cookies with Lemon Glaze

I’m a lemon person – I guess that’s what happens when you are not a chocolate person. I just can’t help my self and lemon is just one of my favorite things and it will always be. And I’ve tried pretty much every lemon recipe that I can. It’s just a thing for me. This recipe is pretty amazing, especially since the glaze really makes it special.

Yield 24
For the cookies:

2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar

1 large egg

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

juice of 1/2 lemon

white sparkling sugar, for rolling the cookies (I used raw sugar for more crunch)

For the glaze:

1-1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar

1-2 tablespoons milk (didn’t really need this and didn’t use it)

juice of 1/2 lemon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda & powder, and salt. Set aside.

In the bowl of your electric mixer, cream together butter and sugar until well combined, about 3 minutes. Add egg and vanilla and stir until incorporated. Add lemon juice and give it a quick stir.

Slowly add dry ingredients into the wet and stir until combined.

Form cookie dough into balls, about 1 1/2 tablespoons each. Pour sparkling sugar into a bowl and roll each cookie dough ball in the sugar until completely covered. Place onto prepared baking sheet and bake for 10-12 minutes or until set. Remove from the oven and let cool for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. Repeat.

Prepare the glaze by combining the confectioners’ sugar, milk and lemon juice. Glaze should be slightly runny and easy to drizzle over the cookies (it will harden after a couple of minutes).

deliciouslyyum.com

20 November 2014  – v.g. – next time add a little lemon extract to the batter. cookie is good w/o glaze, but more lemony with it.

25 June 2015 – 11 minutes was perfect. Really like the glaze.

Fusilli with asparagus and mushrooms

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Fusilli with mushrooms and asparagus

This is a recipe that I’ve been making for several years and was based on a recipe by Giada de Laurentiis. It’s quick, and to me, a very spring kind of pasta. Make it when the asparagus are at their best.

8 ozs. Fusilli
Olive oil
2 Tbs unsalted butter
8 ozs mushrooms, button or cremini, sliced
1 bundle of asparagus, trimmed and cut into bite-sized pieces
3 cloves garlic, minced
8 ozs mascarpone
Parmesan, for serving

Heat a pot of boiling water, add asparagus and cook until bright green and crisp tender – kind of the al dente of asparagus. Remove asparagus from water and set aside. Once the asparagus is finished, add the pasta and cook until al dente.
In a sauté pan, melt butter and add a little olive oil. Add the sliced mushroom and sauté until they’ve released their juices and most of that liquid evaporates. Add garlic and sauté for another minute more.
Add the asparagus to the mushrooms. Then add the container of mascarpone cheese. Stir until it is melted and coats the vegetables. Add a handful of freshly grated Parmesan cheese and stir again.
Serve with extra Parmesan for serving.

Pecan Pie Muffins – A Southern Tradition

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Pecan Pie Muffin

It’s strange how often Southern recipes make the rounds. I saw a recipe in Trisha Yearwood’s Georgia Cooking in an Oklahoma Kitchen and remembered that I had had something like this before. Amusing how it works since we are all connected. I had my original recipe from my friend Dawn who grew up in a very small North Florida town. I found out today it was her mom’s favorite and she still makes it for her and I totally get it.
This was a huge success with my friends and with the Boy, who I think might expect me to make them weekly. They are easy enough to make after work as long as you get the eggs to room temperature.
Of course, it helps that we have the best local pecans around. Renfroe‘s is our local pecan place and I get about 3 pounds at a time and keep them in the freezer. And I never follow the measurements on nuts – kind of the same way I think about cheese – there is always room for just a bit more.

1 cup chopped pecans
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 large eggs
13.5 Tbs butter, melted and cooled * **

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line muffin tin with 9 muffin cups and spray with non stick spray.
In a large bowl, combine pecans, flour, and sugar and mix well to combine. Make a well in the center of these ingredients.
In another bowl, beat eggs until foamy. Add the cooled melted butter and stir to combine. Pour butter mixture into dry ingredients, stir until just mixed.
Fill muffin cups 2/3 full. Bake for 20 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Remove from pan immediately and cool on a wire rack.

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Pecan Pie Muffin

7 March 2004
6 July 2015

* I hate measurements for butter that give both cups and then tablespoons. Pick one please. Or by weight.  Ugh.

** I just played this by ear and went with something that was between the two recipes. And was probably more butter than needed, but I baked them a bit longer than needed and they were amazing.