Recipe Blunders

Sometimes recipes fail. Lately, I feel like I’ve been having a lot more fails. I’m not sure if I’m in a rut or just on a roll, but it’s always a bummer when it happens. I don’t mind so much when things fail (appearance/texture-wise) and still taste delicious, but when both appearance and taste fail, it kinda sucks. If it’s tolerable, I’ll eat it anyway, but sometimes it goes in the compost. Thankfully, I haven’t had to completely pitch many recipes though … maybe only a few.

Even though recipe fails are not my favorite, they’re valuable in teaching me what doesn’t work. It gives me the chance to try and try again. Really though, cooking involves so much experimentation, that failing is bound to happen. It’s just part of the ebb and flow of cooking. I accept it, even if I am bummed initially when it happens. Live, cook and learn, right?

Here are some of my recent recipe blunders. Surprisingly, they all look pretty good, but something went wrong in each. Feel free to share some of your most memorable or recent recipe blunders!

This beef stew looks great, I know, but the flavors didn't meld well. It tasted off and was not very satisfying as a result.
This beef stew looks great, I know, but the flavors didn’t meld well. It tasted off and was not very satisfying because of the funky taste. All the ingredients were fresh, but the spices and liquids I added did not work.
Bacon chocolate chip cookies made with unsweetened baking chocolate. The honey in the recipe did not accommodate the bitter chocolate enough. I can't eat sweetened chocolate, which is why I tried the baking bar. Cacao nibs would have been a better choice. Surprisingly though, these cookies tasted really good the next day because the honey melded with the chocolate more. Still, I wouldn't make them with baking chocolate again. Who wants to wait 24 hours before eating a fresh cookie?
Bacon chocolate chip cookies made with unsweetened baking chocolate. The honey in the recipe did not accommodate the bitter chocolate enough. I can’t eat sweetened chocolate, which is why I tried the baking bar. Cacao nibs would have been a better choice. Surprisingly though, these cookies tasted really good the next day. I think the honey melded with the chocolate and settled into the cookie overnight. Still, I wouldn’t make them with baking chocolate again. Who wants to wait 24 hours before eating a fresh cookie anyway? That’s torture!
A cranberry cobbler that set up really well, but tasted awful! I should have added vinegar to accommodate the baking soda, but forgot. The result? An extremely bitter and expensive fail. I was really bummed with this one because I wasted a bunch of delicious hazelnuts too. That was another thing, the hazelnut meal I made did not work with the cranberries. This was not edible by any means and all went in the compost.
A cranberry cobbler that set up really well, but tasted awful! I should have added vinegar to accommodate the baking soda, but forgot. The result? An extremely bitter and expensive fail. I was really bummed with this one because I wasted a bunch of delicious hazelnuts too. That was another thing, the hazelnut meal I made did not work with the cranberries. This was not edible by any means and all went in the compost.
This actually tasted really good, but the spaghetti squash got a little overcooked, and was mushy as a result. It was a delicious combo of Italian-spiced beef and veggies mixed in with the squash. The presentation was less than pretty because of the soggy squash, but luckily, it still tasted delicious.
This actually tasted really good, but the spaghetti squash got a little overcooked, and was mushy as a result. It was a delicious combo of Italian-spiced beef and veggies mixed in with the squash. The presentation was less than pretty because of the soggy, mushy squash, but luckily, it was still palatable and tasty.
Advertisements

Thanksgiving 2012 Recap

My first turkey! Pardon the nasty flash.

I had a wonderful Thanksgiving and my very first turkey turned out fantastic! I kid you not when I say it was the best I ever tasted. Honestly, I didn’t know turkey could taste that good. Growing up, I always slathered it in gravy or cranberries because it tended to be so bland and tasteless. This turkey needed nothing and was so moist and flavorful. I brined it for over 24 hours, then rubbed homemade herb butter (grass-fed butter blended with fresh sage & thyme) all over the outside and under the skin. I stuffed the cavity with a quartered onion, leftover fresh herbs and one lemon (cut in half). The skin came out brown and crispy, just the way I like it (I can’t stand flabby skin — that’s when I won’t eat it) and I could taste flavors of the wine (from the brine) on the meat and skin. This will now be my go-to recipe for turkey! The rest of our meal consisted of roasted brussel spouts tossed with bacon and dried cranberries (apple juice sweetened), fresh green beans with sautéed shallots and chantrelle mushrooms (this tasted just like green bean casserole, but better!), my mom’s spiced cranberry relish, mashed buttercup squash, homemade neck/gizzard gravy, and almond flour biscuits (though neither of us ate one with dinner). For dessert, crustless pumpkin pie with 24-hour half-and-half yogurt as our (thick) whipped topping.

In the morning, before all the eating happened, Jesse went to Jiu-Jitsu and I got a workout in at Recreate. It was a fun Thanksgiving workout with 45+ others. A good time was had by all. After we got home (Jesse was there too because he helped coach class), I made us homemade almond flour biscuits with bacon, sunny-side up eggs and avocado. Then after eating, we Skyped with my parents back in Michigan and later, I got to Skype with my grandparents. Yay for technology! Anyway, here’s a photo recap of our Thanksgiving.

All slathered with herb butter and stuffed with herbs and aromatics.
I sautéed carrots, onion and celery in some ghee with sea salt and pepper, and then added it to my slow cooker with bone broth (enough to cover everything), a bay leaf, and the neck and gizzard from my turkey. 6 hours later, I had the base for a gravy. I took the meat off the vertebrae and chopped up the gizzard. Everything went into the blender with some pan drippings. Minutes later, it turned into a fantastic, flavorful and nutrient-dense gravy.
In the slow cooker, ready to simmer for the next six hours.
The pumpkin pie!
In the afternoon, we roasted some chestnuts to nibble on (and pair with our mead — honey wine). Here, Jesse is peeling the cooled chestnuts. They’re so tasty and look like little brains!
Checking the turkey. Nope, it wasn’t done. Back into the oven it went.
I gave Dutch a new box to play in (compliments of my mom for the goodies she sent me from her Austria trip). He loved tearing up the tissue paper inside and enjoyed napping in here all day long. Mila, our Siamese cat, doesn’t care about boxes, so Dutch gets to have it all to himself.
Jesse slicing the turkey. He got too hot because of all the heat coming from the kitchen, which is why he is shirtless.
Our spread.
Jesse getting impatient while I snapped photos. He was still hot, so ate dinner shirtless.
My plate. There ended up being a lot more gravy involved than what you see here. It’s so good that I kept ladling it on!
Dessert, homemade pumpkin pie with 24-hour half-and-half yogurt.

Kitchen Wish List

Naturally, I have a kitchen wish list and it’s actually a bit longer than what you see below (I just chose highlights). I’m sure you do too, especially if you enjoy cooking and spend as much time in the kitchen as I do. I don’t see myself buying any of these things in the near future because nearly all of them cost a pretty penny, but a girl can dream, right? In a perfect world, I’d already own all these kitchen tools. Do you have any of the things on my wish list? If so, do you think it’s a worthy investment? Also, I’m curious to know what’s on your kitchen wish list.

Le Creuset 4-1/2 quart round French oven. Hella expensive (almost $300), but an investment that will last a lifetime. These things are solid!
JA Henckels knife set. I have a large chopping knife and some paring knives, but it’d be awesome to have a whole set and these are a lot sharper than what I have!
Le Creuset 10-1/4 inch cast iron skillet. Note, these are actually on sale right now!
A mandoline slicer, so I can cut perfectly even, thin layers of various fruits and vegetables. This would be especially helpful when making zucchini lasagna noodles.
Cusinart 14-cup food processor. Yes, I actually already have a food processor, but it’s only a 4-cup one and I’ve really been giving it a run for its money. Seriously, I work this thing hard … probably too hard! I have a Vitamix too, but there are some things a food processor is just better for.
A nice granite or marble mortar and pestle. I’ve always admired these things, but have never had the chance to use one. It’d be awesome for grinding my own spices and herbs, along with various other things.
A beautiful, thick wooden or bamboo slab cutting board.

Practical Paleo Recipe Roundup

As you may know, I’ve been cooking a lot from Diane Sanfilippo’s new book, Practical Paleo, and have even posted a couple of the recipes. In honor of everything I’ve made so far, as well as her awesome book, here’s a little photo recap of the dishes I’ve tried. In case you’re wondering, all the dishes were delicious and are worthy of making again … and again … and again. Sorry, but aside from the dishes and recipes I already shared from Diane’s book (I mentioned below – in the captions of the photos – which recipes you can find in previous posts), I did not share the other recipes I tried. Hopefully, it’ll be an incentive for you to buy the book! I can’t keep giving away all her recipes, after all!

Balsamic braised short ribs on top of candied carrots. I can't have balsamic vinegar because of the SCD, so Diane recommended subbing apple cider vinegar instead. It turned out great!
Balsamic braised short ribs on top of candied carrots. I can’t have balsamic vinegar because of the SCD, so Diane recommended subbing apple cider vinegar instead. It turned out great!
Candied carrots after they came out of the oven
Candied carrots after they came out of the oven.
Summer squash caprese noodle salad.
The very first recipe I tried (while I was in Michigan) was the summer squash caprese noodle salad. I didn’t have a julienne peeler though, so I cut the zucchini into thin strips instead. Click for the recipe from a previous post.
Mustard glazed chicken thighs and zucchini pancakes
Mustard glazed chicken thighs and zucchini pancakes.
Pistachio Mooless Mousse
Pistachio mooless mousse. Click for the recipe from a previous post.
I also mixed together a small batch of the chocolate mooless mousse for Jesse. I can't have cocoa quite yet though.
I also mixed together a small batch of the chocolate mooless mousse for Jesse. I can’t have cocoa quite yet though.
Mashed faux-tatoes and chorizo meatballs, made with grass-fed ground beef instead of pork
Mashed faux-tatoes and chorizo meatballs, made with grass-fed ground beef instead of pork.
Hayley's skirt steak tacos (turned salad)
Hayley’s skirt steak tacos (turned salad). Click for the recipe from a previous post.
A batch of orange mashed faux-tatoes
Another batch of mashed faux-tatoes, but made with orange cauliflower this time.
Light buttercups -- these were melt-in-your-mouth amazing! The recipe calls for almond butter, but I used sunflower seed butter because I had some on hand.
Light buttercups — these were melt-in-your-mouth amazing! The recipe calls for almond butter, but I used sunflower seed butter because I had some on hand. (Photo taken on iPhone)
Another shot of the light buttercups. Aren't they beautiful?
Another shot of the light buttercups. Aren’t they beautiful? I served them at a dinner party and they were a hit!