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Saturday, January 28, 2012

Mo's Smoked Gouda dip update!




I have gotten a lot of feedback on my post about Mo's Smoked Gouda dip from Whole Foods. As Grace pointed out in her comment posted in November, Whole Foods has since dropped the name "Mo's" and relabeled the product (hot or mild) Smoked Gouda Dip. The recipe has slightly changed as well. It's a subtle change, but it's definitely different. Still good, just different. My husband and I ate a fair amount of the original Mo's dip so I feel confident stating that there has been a change...I wonder if the name and recipe change is because the original Mo realized that he was onto something and is going to be marketing his version? Only time will tell....

In my original post, I mentioned that I was going to try to make my own version. I did try but the results were just ok...I will try again. If anyone else has been successful in making their own version, I would love to hear from you!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Southwestern White Bean and Ham soup




I had a left over ham bone and was super excited to make some sort of soup with it. I love split pea soup, but my husband is not the biggest fan. So, I decided to make a Southwestern White Bean with Ham soup which I was pretty happy with. I added a small can of Trader Joe's green chilis to give it a little kick. If you want even more of a kick, feel free to add some hot sauce.

Note, I had originally prepared the ham with cloves, pineapple and brown sugar, so it already had a good flavor to it which definitely added to the depth of flavor in the soup.

Kristen's Southwestern White Bean and Ham soup

1 fully cooked ham bone with some meat stuck on it
1 cup of sliced celery
1 cup of sliced carrots
1 cup of sliced onion
1 bag of white northern beans
1 can chopped green chilis
3 cloves of garlic
1 teaspoon olive oil
6 cups of water
2 teaspoon italian seasoning
1 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 bay leaves

Sort and soak beans for 6-8 hrs. In large soup pot, saute chopped garlic in olive oil until cooked.

After beans are finished soaking, rinse and transfer them to the large soup pot with the sauted garlic. Add 6 cups of water, ham bone, veggies and spices; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and let soup simmer for about 2 hours.

When soup is ready, carefully remove meat from the bone. I do this by simply using a long wooden spoon and pushing the meat away from the bone. The meat should be very tender at this point and fall off the bone easily.

Discard bone, bay leaves and serve.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

The old fashioned pleasure of gingerbread...

Just say the word "gingerbread" and images of a home decorated for the holidays with a glowing fire in the fireplace instantly come to mind. It was a little easier for me to conjure up these thoughts while we were on the East Coast visiting family....it's a little harder when it's 70 degrees here in LA.

Anyway, while we were in Philly, my mom was wondering what to do with some heavy whipping cream left over from a pasta dish she had made, so I decided to keep it simple and just make whipped cream to serve on top of warm gingerbread cake. I find that if you bake with some frequency, most likely, you have all the ingredients in your pantry already for gingerbread recipes (cakes or cookies) and therefore, it is a great quick "no trip to the store" dessert solution....and my mom's pantry did not disappoint!

I found a pretty basic recipe on Joy of Baking. Their recipe called for lemon zest in the cake and a lemon icing to top. I didn't have any lemons and planned on making homemade whipped cream, so I skipped these steps. The original recipe also calls for light brown sugar as well as unsulphured molasses...whether you decide to use light or dark brown sugar or sulphured vs unsulphured molasses really depends on how much you like molasses. Dark brown sugar and unsulphured molasses have a more intense molasses flavor than their lighter counterparts. I tend to only buy the darker stuff but that's me...

For best results on the whipped cream, use a metal or glass bowl (not plastic). Chill the bowl in the freezer for about 20 minutes or so before pouring the heavy cream into it for beating.

Gingerbread Cake (adapted from Joy of Baking)

2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temp
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 molasses
1 cup milk

Grease and flour a 9 inch round or square pan and set aside. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.

In a medium sized bowl, mix together all dry ingredients: flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger and cloves.

In a bigger but separate bowl, cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.
Add eggs one at a time.
Add molasses and beat until combined.
Alternately add dry ingredients and milk, starting and ending with the dry ingredients. Mix until just combined.
Pour batter into prepared pan; smooth batter to ensure even depth of batter in the pan.
Bake for 40 to 45 minutes until cake tester comes out clean.

Cool on wire rack 10 minutes before removing from pan.

Basic Whipped Cream
1 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon confectioners' (powdered) sugar

Beat heavy cream in chilled metal or glass bowl until soft peaks form. Add vanilla and sugar and continue to beat until stiffer peaks form. Take care not to over beat after the stiff peaks form as the cream may start to look lumpy.


Saturday, January 14, 2012

RIP Angeli Caffe

Sadly, Evan Klieman's Angeli Caffe served its last loaf of delicious complimentary bread and handmade pasta on Thursday January 12th before permanently shuttering their doors. Per the article in the LATimes, the restaurant was simply not turning a profit any longer.

Victor and I went there for our anniversary in the fall. Since it was a special dinner, we went all out with entrees, wine and dessert. Our meal started off with Angeli Caffe's warm, melt in your mouth bread and the Scarmorza alla Griglia, perfectly broiled mozzarella balls with roasted tomatoes and oregano. For entrees, Victor selected the Lasagna Angeli while I opted for the Butternut Squash Lasagna. The Lasagna Angeli was a light and flavorful meatless lasagna in a tomato basil sauce. The Butternut Squash Lasagna was pasta layered with squash and Fontina cheese topped with a Bechamel (butter, flour, milk and pepper) sauce. Both dishes were made with handmade pasta and fresh and flavorful veggies. We topped off the night with some Chocolate Chunk Bread Pudding served with freshly made whipped cream. Despite the fact that we were already stuffed from our entrees, the warm, gooey, chocolatey bread pudding wouldn't let go of its hold on us until the entire plate was empty. As we left with our bellies full, we vowed to come back soon. Sadly is not going to happen now...

If you have never had fresh handmade pasta, you really must treat yourself and seek some out. The taste and texture is far superior to that of store bought dried pasta...it also seems much lighter somehow. I am going to try to make fresh pasta in a few weeks...but in the meantime, I am open to hearing about people's favorite Italian restaurants since I am now on the hunt for a new one to try!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

2011 in review and looking forward...

Wow...2011 was a blur! But a blur of adventures, challenges and memories....ups and downs.

Since this is a food blog and I try to stick mostly to the topic, most folks don't know that I am a bit of a news junkie. Sometimes I wish I could pay less attention to things as 2011 was a bit of an emotional roller coaster:
- The economy...
- The debt ceiling crisis...
- The Euro zone crisis...
- The devastating earthquake and tsunami in Japan...and then the subsequent nuclear power plant problems...
- Bin Ladin killed...
- Arab spring...
- Riots in London...
- the tragic shootings in Arizona...
- the tragic shootings in Norway...
- the Occupy movements...

....and that is far from being a complete list.

Each new year, we reflect on the year behind us and become hopeful for the year ahead....we hope for personal successes, jobs, love, good health. We hope for peace and prosperity for all. There's a lot going on in the world right now. Take notice and do your part to help move things in a positive direction.