Sunday, July 22, 2012

Just tryin'

I enjoy fooling around with new apps. for my iPhone...

White peonies with white border.

Colors at the lake.

Elizabeth and Tracy

*****taken with the apps Camera+ and  Collage (for grouping and borders)

Hydrangeas with white border.

My flowers with white border.

White border



Well known attractions of Paris

"Keep on" exploring and learning .... it's fun!

                                        Thanks for dropping by... hope you had a nice relaxing weekend.


Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Raisin Rolls

As I was toiling lazing away doing nothing but trying to stay cool in this scorching heat wave, I suddenly got the bright idea to make raisin rolls (which wasn't so bright after all since I had to turn the oven on and make the house hotter).   I didn't want cinnamon rolls, just homemade rolls with raisins.

I usually throw a bunch of ingredients into a bowl relying on my vast knowledge of recipes, but this time I went to the web to look for one---just for an approximation of quantities. While looking, I found an interesting site by a cook who spoke of a certain method I had never heard of....hmmm,  I didn't do that this time but maybe I'll try it at a later date.  Here's the site with this new method.

Anybody ever heard of the "tangzhong" method for light and soft bread?

Luckily, my rolls turned out very well without using that method.

Here's my recipe:

Proof a packet of regular yeast in a bowl with a teaspoon of sugar and 1/4 cup warm water.

While the yeast is proofing, soak about 1 cup of raisins in water.  (Before using, drain them.)

When the yeast is foaming about 15 minutes later,  stir in 1 egg, 1/4 cup of water, 5 tablespoons of melted butter (use real butter),  3-5 teaspoons sugar,  1/2 cup half&half, and a 1/2 teaspoon salt.  Mix well.

To this wet mixture add  2 1/2 cups of flour.  Mix well, then knead it for a minute or two.  Shape it into a ball and put it back into the bowl with  plastic wrap on top to double in size.  (30+minutes) The rising time was very fast for me because my kitchen was quite warm.

After it has doubled,  punch it down and let it double in size again. (30+mins.)

After doubling for the second time,  turn it out on a well floured counter to knead for a couple of minutes more.

Roll it out so it's about 6 x 10 inches,  drop the raisins on top and press them into the soft dough.  Then fold the dough like folding a business letter in thirds.  Then roll that folded dough out again but not so much. It should be about 4x8 inches and pretty thick. Now, cut the dough into 6 equal pieces.  When rolling the dough with the rolling pin, don't roll so much that you push out the air bubbles.

Roll each piece just a very little with the rolling pin,  then with your fingers, roll the piece up into a small jelly roll and place it into a buttered round baking tin.  Make sure the open end is facing down in the tin.  Place all 6 rolled pieces into the pan (there will be empty space around each piece). It will look like the spokes of a wheel.

Place the plastic wrap on the top and let the rolls rise until almost double in size.  Meanwhile, turn the oven on to preheat at 350 degrees.

Before baking, swab the tops of the risen rolls with an egg beaten together with 1 tablespoon of water.

Bake for 25-30 minutes.  My oven runs on the hot side, so it might take 35 minutes in your oven.

Let them cool before eating.

I ate one after it had cooled and it was very soft and yummy.  I put the remaining 5 in a zip lock bag in the fridge to eat at a later date.  They could be frozen, too.

The next day I sliced one of the rolls from the fridge and put it in the toaster to warm it.  Quite delicious it was with a good helping of butter and raspberry jam.

This first picture was taken after I had just dabbed the tops with the egg mixture.  They have already risen to almost twice their size,  now they're ready to pop into the oven.

These next two pictures were taken right after coming from the oven.

The texture and taste of these rolls remind me of a good brioche or a braided Challah.  It has a little sweetness to it, plus it is buttery in flavor. 

Pictures of the slices, not toasted and toasted, the next day.

As you can see, I like a little bread with my butter!

If you don't want rolls, you could just roll the entire dough jelly roll style and put it into a loaf pan for a big loaf of bread...your choice.

Here's hoping you're having a good week!


P.S.   The hot weather continues in my corner of the world, each day is at least 92 degrees with yesterday and today reaching 98 degrees...and still no rain to perk up the grass and flowers... this point, we could really use a long steady rain to soak into the parched earth.

****I'm keeping myself perked up with plenty of fresh produce and ice cold glasses of rosé.****

Friday, July 13, 2012

Summer's Pleasures

This is the time for taking a slow walk around the garden.

I love to be up early in the morning with a cup of coffee in my hand strolling from flower to flower, admiring Nature at it's finest.  The other hand held my camera for all these gorgeous images.  There are lots....I got snap-happy...! 

                                             It's a nice place for the birds and butterflies as well.

 I hope you enjoyed a little bit of my backyard.

Have a wonderful weekend...if it's hot, stay hydrated with plenty of skin protection.


Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Looking for Cool

The hot weather has been beastly.  I've felt so sorry for the people who have had no electricity due to the summer freak storms raging their way around the country.  No electricity means no fans, or AC...yikes!  We're supposed to get a cool spell soon, temps will drop about 15 degrees from 100 to 85, but most importantly, the overnight low will return to a cool and refreshing 60.

My lawn is very dry and yellow in spots, I only water it a little.  Everyday I water the potted veggies and the containers of flowers...they're holding up.  I make sure to have water in the drip pans under the pots because the birds, squirrels, chipmunks, and rabbits come to them to drink...they shouldn't have to suffer,  with the exception of one squirrel (I don't like him or her much) who keeps stealing my tomatoes just at the point of picking, eats half and leaves the other half for me.

I don't know about you, but when it's this hot, I lose all hunger for food...well, almost all.  I mostly fill up on water, with a little chilled wine to break the monotony.

Eating very light is all I can Summer Rolls it's been now for days.

Summer Rolls are like Spring Rolls, only made with rice papers and not fried or steamed.

The transparent sheets of rice are dipped in water for a few seconds until they become soft and pliable...not too long or they will tear apart.

Then,  fill them with anything cold and flavorful,   roll them up,  and eat.  Simple, right?

Of course, you must have a spicy and hot dipping sauce to complete this tasty meal.

 If you don't want to go to the bother of rolling it in a rice wrapper,  you can roll the food in a lettuce leaf.  When I'm in a hurry or get really lazy I do this!      Roll it up and plunge it all in your mouth.

Look here for more information for making Spring/Summer Rolls.

Here's a place to find lots of different dipping sauces....scroll to the bottom.

That's it for now....."try it, you'll like it", or so the saying goes.

Keep your cool,


Thursday, July 5, 2012

Turning Four

I wish I could remember when I was four...a couple of vague memories persist, but that's all.

I do recall that my two older brothers told me to "pretend being unconscious" to play a joke on our that was certainly a rotten thing to do and boy did she get upset with us all! Poor Mom, the things she had to put up with. 

I do remember starting Kindergarten at Cherry Street School when I was just 4 yrs old.  That must have been a good September for Mom---getting 3 kids out of the house for part of her day.

The reason I'm thinking about "being four" is that my youngest of two grandsons will be turning four this week.  I hope he can remember all that he has done in these first years of his life because he has done so much already.  He has lived on both coasts of the U.S.; he has driven across the country and jetted across it too. He has visited Disneyland and Disney World, plus Sea World,  Lego Land, and many zoos.  He has been swimming in freshwater lakes, pools, and oceans.  He has ridden in speedboats, paddle boats, pontoon boats, wave runners, row boats, and canoes.  This year, he learned to ice skate, and to snow ski!  He is one lucky and accomplished little guy. 

He's been smiling from the day he was born, too. 

Milo, 2yrs. old, standing in the sky blue shirt with all his cousins and brother.      OK, he's not smiling here!

Milo's third birthday.

Milo found the Band-aids!

Milo with big brother, Kai.

Happy Birthday!

           Happy Birthday!

                      Happy Birthday, Milo!

Mem         (aka)  Grammie


Monday, July 2, 2012

Café de Paris Butter

I bought a steak a couple of days ago--- I love a good steak but only eat red meat occasionally.  I could never be a vegetarian or vegan because I want to eat meat once in a while.  I stick mostly with fish and chicken, but then, a few times a year, I really crave a steak.  It must be juicy and tender like a top cut of filet mignon. 

As I began to think of how to cook it, I remembered the compound butter called Café de Paris.  One of my daughters gave me a recipe for this flavorful butter many years ago that she had gotten from a fellow Ecolint classmate.  I had kept the recipe all these many years but I had never made it. was the time.

The list of herbs, spices, and other ingredients was very long... (that's probably why I hadn't made it!).

I decided,  right there and then,  that I had almost all of the ingredients so I would go ahead and do it.  It would be close enough but perhaps not exactly the "real thing".

Some of you may know the history of this seasoned butter, it goes back to 1941 in Geneva, Switzerland.  I'll insert the story from the internet below:

{Created by Freddy Dumont in 1941, specifically to go with sirloin steak, and served in the Restaurant Café de Paris in Geneva, this herb/spice butter was an instant success. So much so that it was almost impossible to get into the restaurant for years. The exact recipe is probably still secret today, and only a few restaurants world-wide are reputed to serve the original recipe, amongst them the Parisian ‘Le Relais de l’Entrecôte’ and the ‘L’Entrecôte de Paris’ and the ‘Café de Paris’ in San Francisco. The original Restaurant Café de Paris in Geneva still exists (albeit under new management) and still has the butter on the menu.}

If you were to do a internet search for this butter recipe, you would find many variations.

I followed this list:
Beurre Café de Paris

1 kg butter
60g tomato ketchup
25g Dijon mustard
25g capers (in brine)
125g brown eschalots
50g fresh curly parsley
50g fresh chives
5g dried marjoram
5g dried dill
5g fresh thyme, leaves only
10 leaves fresh French tarragon
Pinch ground rosemary
1 garlic clove, squashed then chopped very finely
8 anchovy fillets (rinsed)
1 tbs good brandy
1 tbs Madeira
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
½ tsp sweet paprika
½ tsp curry powder (Keens)
Pinch cayenne
8 white peppercorns
juice 1 lemon
zest of ½ lemon
zest ¼ orange
12gm salt

I put everything in a food processor until all was mixed and whipped nicely.  I didn't use the brandy or Madeira.  If I had it in the cupboard, I would have added it, for sure! I didn't add the ketchup, either.  Roll the butter into a log shape, then wrap it in plastic.  Store it in the freezer for a longer keeping period.  When you need some, cut a slice from the log.

My steak is still waiting to be fixed, but I did sauté some scallops last evening with baby lima beans and melted some of this flavorful butter on top.  It was great! 

These compound butters will make an ordinary piece of meat (or vegetable) taste elegant.  It's nice to have different kinds on hand in the freezer for just that extra kick. ** I've got a lot of basil in my garden right now, I think a basil butter will be next. **

Give this a try....tell me if you like it.

Happy fixings,