Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Steamed Char Sui Bao

We have the opportunity to use our Bamboo Steamer?  Cool!

With no ingredients to cause us stress from an eating point of view, the only decision for us was whether to bake or to steam.  It's good to see the steamer on the stove, so steaming it was...

Rounding up the ingredients was a mostly non-event as almost everything we needed already has a place jammedstored nicely in the fridge or in the cupboard.  The couple of things we didn't have we elected to follow the substitution guidelines or guess our own substitution mostly because our jammednicely arranged shelves really don't need another couple of bottles of fun stuff only missing a tablespoon or two.


Day 1

Our pork supplier did a grand job cleaning up our tenderloins as there was hardly anything that needed cleaning up. In fact it took longer for the marinade person to put that together than for the other to clean up the tenderloins and cut into the suggested sizes.

For the marinade we substituted:

  • the light soy with dark soy - not even sure we knew there were two types until now...
  • the maltose with honey
  • the shaoxing cooking wine with sherry - we weren't sure if it was a white or a red and sherry is sort of kind of in the middle in a generous sort of substitution way ...
  • five spice with asian spice blend - actually, we're kind of surprised and / or embarrassed that we don't have any...

And then we got everyone in the pool.  Mixed a bit, saved a bit and coated the [easily] prepared pork.  Into the fridge, and back to the TV (and then bed and then a day of chores) to allow time to do its thing.

Day 2 - Part 1

We went with the sear then oven method for cooking.  A little confusion in that the bake only time suggested was shorter than for our chosen option.  Ultimately we went a little bit longer than the recommended 15 minutes, but we think that has a lot to do with the many times the oven door was opened while we basted - this strongly suggests that the bake only method would need at least this long too, but we didn't experiment.

We also saved a little less than suggested of the marinade for basting as we were a bit nervous therre wasn't enough in the bowl to do the marinating.  Turns out we had just the right amount for basting so we lucked into a win win there.


A little bit of char on the outside from the pan and lots of sticky goodness only adding to that from the basting.  We have no doubt it looks the way it should!

Chopping it up for the next step was a challenge.  Not because it's hard to chop, but it's hard not to get too carried away with the sampling!  It's tasty!

Day 2 - Part 2

Once we 'suffered' through the chopping of the Pork Loin part everything else was straightforward enough.  We perhaps could argue no substitutions were made for this part, but remember that whole dark v light soy thing?

It didn't thicken as quickly as suggested.  Rather than trying to add in more cornflour and therefore double the opportunity for lumps we simmered a bit longer using evaporation to help out here.  Drat!  Looks like we did have a substitution of a sort...


Tasty!  Yeah, we had more than a quick taste and we know this is still not supposed to be the eating part of the day...  Rich, but not crazy rich.  Definitely moorish. 


Hmmmm...  What does scald milk mean?  Google was only moderately helpful because it seems they don't really know the answer either with many variations / interpretations / directions to get the job done.  We went with heat over medium heat until just about boiling and used the visual cue of a few bubbles around the side.

After adding some treats into the milk (for the record, the oil does not look good sitting on top during this cooling) we didn't have to sit around waiting for luke-warm to appear because we were actually doing this concurrently with the pork.  The yeast did it's magic and then it was time to get the elbow grease out and knead away - we tagged out a couple of times along the way.

Timing was on our side for a change.  The dough was easily twice it's size in just over an hour so we were able to get going on the assembly way earlier than expected.  YAY!

Dividing and rolling and spooning all went well (although we had 2 'buns' with no filling - probably related to the over sampling of earlier in the evening).  The sealing up, not so much.  We found the only way we could keep them together was with a bit of water along the joins.  No big deal, but we weren't prepared for this eventuality causing us at least a minute - probably more like a minute and a half - of panic.

The extra bit of raising didn't go so well.  We completely skipped over it.  We're blaming the tastiness of the filling and the need to get this done as quickly as possible combined with the panic of the sealing up issues.  Sorry about that.  Oh well...

The steaming went fine in terms of timing and extraction, but some of them had parts that looked a little translucent almost and not the even white color and texture we were expecting.  Is that because we didn't give them that extra bit of rising?


The translucent parts only affected the prettiness factor because we think they still tasted great.  We were kind of bummed we only had one layer in our steamer and therefore were forced into 2 courses rather than all at once.  But we got through that distress thanks to the help of our TV and a bottle of wine...

Recipes & Destructions Instructions



It was tasty and filling and easy to round up the ingredients and not hard to put them all together.  Not as pretty as we would have liked (but that's probably our fault), and therefore not something we could 'risk' serving up to friends (unless it could be proved that our skipping of the extra bit of raising was the cause).  But the pork when it still looked like a loin could easily be incorporated into a have friends over for dinner arrangement.

Our Wine Club suggested that a Bourdeaux type blend out of Mankas Vineyards, called 'Amelie' would work with BBQ pork so out it came.  Our opinion is that no harm was done to the pork by the wine and vice versa, but no great improvements either - but that's just our opinion.


Our Daring Cooks’ December 2012 hostess is Sara from Belly Rumbles! Sara chose awesome Char Sui Bao as our challenge, where we made the buns, Char Sui, and filling from scratch – delicious!

Comments pre Blog Platform Change

Andy responded:
I always love your posts! They are so much fun to read. I too had the same question about "scald". And I steamed the first buns without letting them rise a second time, and I got to tell you, the extra rising really does help with the way the look in the end.
Great job!

Shelley C responded:
As always, great post! Yeah, the sampling portion of the process can easily go overboard with a recipe like this, because that filling was just so tasty and easy to eat!! Sounds like everything went really well, even with the minor panic in there, and that you had a delicious dinner!! Great job :)

Brian responded:
What a great post! I'm glad that everything worked out well.

Cher responded:
Fun post - glad you survived your adventure!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Cooking with Tea!

Ok, we do have some tea in the pantry. Not much, and it only comes out on those runny nose days, and only for one of us... So, seeing the title of this month's challenge didn't get us bouncing around the house, but as promised, we're giving everything a try.

We'll eat tofu if it's part of the makeup of a dish, but not if it's the feature - it's not the worst thing ever invented, but there's something about the texture that doesn't work for us.  And the eggs looked fun in an Easter sort of way, but doesn't really translate into a dinner that we can open up a bottle of wine with.  We were therefore sort of pushed into the Beef option, which is totally fine - we do eat beef... 

Beef Braised in Rooibos Tea with Sweet Potatoes

Our confidence in locating the correctly named tea was low, having never heard of this variety before.  We were half prepared to hunt for it, and half prepared to do some research to figure out what we could find easily and would also be an acceptable trade off.  Phew, didn't need either of our half preparations...  As it turned out, it was easy to find in our normal everyday boring store - and all wrapped up in handy dandy bags.

Everything else was easy enough to round up as part of our normally scheduled grocery collection trip.

Nothing complicated here... 

  • A little bit of chopping to get everything started. 
  • A little bit of searing to get things started. 
  • A little bit of stirring to keep things going. 
  • A little bit of brewing to keep things going. 
  • A little bit of improvisation because knowing we have something in the pantry is not the same as knowing we have enough of that something in the pantry (we had to go half red wine vinegar and half white wine vinegar). 
  • A good bit of sitting around (with a glass of wine) letting a gentle fire do it's work. 
  • A little bit of late additions to make things better. 
  • A little bit more sitting around (with a glass of wine).

All the while, we got to enjoy our wine, the smells and watching the Chicago Chefs rock on Top Chef!


It worked - we don't think our vinegar tribulations had any overly adverse effects.  It looked good.  It tasted nice. The kitchen and living room smelled like we'd been cooking something yummy.

The sauce didn't really thicken up and there was a lot of it left over once we'd enjoyed our meal (and the left overs the next day). 

Recipes & Destructions Instructions



We opened up our bottle of Terredora Di Paolo Aglianico which wasn't a bad pairing, but with the heavy tannins perhaps would be better in a couple of years.

It was a tasty dinner that was not hard to prepare (actually mostly takes care of itself), but we're not really sure what the tea brought to the party as we couldn't find the flavors that we found when drinking it for breakfast (and in our opinion didn't taste anything different to any other sort of tea we might have for breakfast). We did get the honey and cinnamon and ginger and orange (kind of surprised us considering how little we put in) and enjoyed the combination.

We'd cook it up for friends and not be embarrassed, that's for sure, but we wouldn't be making a big deal about how we used tea to make it.


Sarah from Simply Cooked was our November Daring Cooks’ hostess and she challenged us to create something truly unique in both taste and technique! We learned how to cook using tea with recipes from Tea Cookbook by Tonia George and The New Tea Book by Sara Perry.

Comments pre Blog Platform Change

Lyuba responded:
Great job! Glad you enjoyed this new experience. My kitchen smelled great, but my hubby liked the stew a little more the I did. I thought its was great, but did wish that I would have cut down on ginger!

Come see me at

Friday, October 14, 2011

Moo Shu

It's possible we've had Moo Shu somewhere sometime without knowing it, but we certainly haven't made any for ourselves - although we've made pork stir fry type things (but not the pancakes) that sort of fall into the ball park of what was called for this month.

Schedule wise it fit into a moderately lazy weekend evening, which was nice.  And we were pretty certain we could round up all the ingredients at any one of a couple of our local stores.  As it turned out we couldn't find one ingredient, but fortunately there was an option provided so we opted out of the panic drive to somewhere not so handy.

Hoisin Sauce

Let the record show that we did not reach for the jar we have tucked away in the fridge!

Let the record show that it's a very straightforward recipe to understand and execute. Everyone in the pool, mix.

The instructions are right, it does look like it's not going to work for a good while, but eventually comes together looking mostly like what we thought we would get.

This is where our missing ingredient came into play.  We really wanted to do the Bean Paste rather than Peanut Butter as it's something that has never made it passed our front door before, but alas we couldn't locate it in the two stores we tried.  We opted for the Peanut Butter and although happy with what we got we're curious as to how it would have differed given a more successful shopping trek.


Let the record show that we did reach for the jar tucked in the fridge - for comparison purposes only!

Pretty close!  Ours was:

  • much thinner, but actually thickened up just a little by the time we got to dine on it and quite a bit overnight when we accidentally left it out.  
  • a bit lighter in color, and didn't change after being left out...
  • less sweet
  • more nutty (damn you failed shopping trek!)

We liked dipping into it.  We're going with success.

Thin Pancakes

Seems easy enough - kinda like bread, kinda like pizza dough, kinda like pancakes.  We can do them all.  Also, kinda hot, so be careful when you do the adding water part!

We needed more water (of the boiling variety) than advertised, probably closer to two cups when all was said and done.  After that it kneaded up nicely and was quite happy to sit in the bowl while we started on the chopping for the Pork part of the adventure.

The dividing up in similar sized balls is a clever procedure - cut in 3, roll in to a 'snake', cut in half a few times to get 8 very similarly sized ball type shapes.

Turn them into better looking balls, smush a bit on the counter and roll out pretty thin.  Not hard work, but not quick work!

Throw them at a pan (not too hot, not too cold) - we used our skillet and were able to have two going at once.  We thought we had the temperature pretty much right, but based on the final texture we probably couldn't dispute it was a little warm.


Lots of laundry.  We had things covered with wet dish towels all over the place...

Did look a bit like the pictures, but we don't think they were as floppy.  They did fold up okish around the goodies, but there was cracking towards the edges.

Wouldn't serve them for breakfast ;p, but worked out pretty good as the food delivery device (we're probably (mis?)quoting Alton there...).  But, not a lot of motivation to go through the process again...

Moo Shu Pork

We figured the pork as the star, so it wouldn't be such a big drama if we selected a different type of mushroom - especially since we'd never even heard of dried wood ears let alone seen them in any store we've ever visited.  We did stay with dried and found a 1oz pack of mixed dried wild mushrooms - wild / wood, close enough, right?  Even if someone can declare categorically that the wood ears bring something extra special to the party, we're ok with what we chose and therefore ended up with.

Apart from that, nothing else to cause consternation over as we rounded up the ingredients.  Nothing too complicated about cutting everything up, but we think the 'matchstick-sized threads' was not the best analogy to use. If we lined everything up in order of closeness to matchstick-sized threads we'd start with pretty close, and end up small, but no matchstick - that would be bamboo shoots, cabbage, pork...

Cook the eggs first, cook up everything else, add most of the sauce, re-add the eggs, add everything else, stirring all the while.  We don't have a wok (we felt a wok would have given the best authentic results...), but a wok like pan so this went quickly and easily.  The cabbage cooks down a lot so the overflowing pan quickly becomes 'do we have enough food?'  The smells hit the kitchen but it's over quite quickly so no house enveloping aromas.


Tasty!  Looked exactly like the picture.  We've cooked up similar looking things and served them over rice and we have no doubt this would have worked out fine that way too had our pancakes totally failed - they didn't.

The Coming Together...

We took everything over to the couch, got TiVo wound up, cracked open our wine, and began the customized, individualized construction.  It was easy, but would have been a little bit easier if our pancakes were a little bit floppier. 

  1. Select the best looking pancake. 
  2. Select a good smear of Hoison and place it through the middle of the pancake. 
  3. Select a good scoop of Moo Shu and place over Hoison
  4. Attempt to fold per instructions.
  5. Remove some Moo Shu thinking the volume is the problem.
  6. Attempt to fold per instructions.
  7. Return previously removed Moo Shu now knowing the folding is operator error (and a little not floppy enough pancakes).
  8. Fold more like a taco than per instructions.
  9. Eat
  10. Smile and ooh and ahh because it's really tasty.
  11. Go back to 1, but skip 4-7 each subsequent time through. 

Recipes & Destructions Instructions



A fun evening's work. It took about the same amount of time as suggested in the recipe so we ate at a sensible time - that hasn't always been the case with our challenges.  It was tasty and filling and generated just the right amount of food so as not to have left overs nor lead us toward over indulging.

We opened up a bottle of something something (2009 Château Michel de Vert Lussac Saint-Emilion) with the very scientific reasoning that nothing we had left in the cellar vaguely suggested Moo Shu, we had a slight hankering for something red, our tasting notes suggested pork as a match, and we were thirsty.  It's a nice balanced wine which worked out just fine with this dish, but we could see it working with just about anything the Daring Kitchen threw our way.

We're ok eating things with our fingers, so don't mind getting a few drips of something over our hands - we definitely got a few drops, but nothing to run screaming to a sink over. We accept that folding per instructions would have minimized, if not eliminated, the amount of dripping - oh well.

This was not too hard too make, not too hard eat and definitely was an enjoyable meal to be filled up with!


The October Daring Cooks' Challenge was hosted by Shelley of C Mom Cook and her sister Ruth of The Crafts of Mommyhood. They challenged us to bring a taste of the East into our home kitchens by making our own Moo Shu, including thin pancakes, stir fry and sauce.

Comments pre Blog Platform Change

Shelley C responded:
Woo hoo! Seriously love reading your guys' write ups, and reading this one made me smile - it sounds like everything went really, really well, and I am so glad that you guys enjoyed it! If you have a hankering, I'd recommend giving one of the other pancake rolling methods a whirl, but seriously, awesome, awesome job. I definitely find Moo-Shu-ing to be a fun, social dinner type thing, not just regular meal prep, and it sounds like it was very fun for you guys. Thanks so much for cooking with us!!

Sawsan@chef in disguise responded:
I love reading your posts and this one was no exception :)
Glad you enjoyed the challenge and it was a success by most counts

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Stock to Soup to Consommé

Crap!  So close.  We eventually got to what we could argue was a perfect consommé... for about an hour... and sadly the consumption part of the challenge was not included in that hour.  Oh well, let us explain.

There was never any doubt we'd try a consommé using the egg raft technique, so we picked the chicken and wonton option and added in the brioche.  We had different things going at different times over 3 days over 2 weekends and mostly when they were supposed to be going.  We managed to get all 3 components right and pretty good, just not all at the same time, nor the appropriate time... Oh well...

We struggled interpreting a couple of the recipes.  We mostly made decisions that worked, but not all, and had to call upon YouTube to help us out - more on that in a moment.

In order of our perceived level of success

Herb and Garlic Brioche

Day 2

We've made a couple of breads along the way (and our own pizza dough) so we're not scared of getting out the yeast and spreading flour over half the kitchen.  Different technique, so we attempted to follow the rules closely...

We weren't quite sure what to do with the butter, so we just melted it with the milk as it was warmed, so the result that we ended up more with a cake batter type arrangement than dough could rest fairly on our shoulders for doing that wrong.  We added in about another half cup of flour (in tablespoon increments) until it mostly looked like dough, albeit the floppiest dough we've ever worked with.  We actually put the garlic in with the milk too.

We set it aside to proof and it did a good job of that, easily doubling in size.  It was still a bit floppy but as we spread it out on the counter, punching out the air, it firmed up enough for us to be confident in getting it rolled up.

We probably used more fresh herbs than advertised so as to get the sort of coverage in the picture provided, but we don't think that caused us any problems.  The roll was uneventful and the transfer to the baking tray for it's second proof a little eventful (still a bit floppy...) but no harm done.

Definite 2nd proofing success!  In to the oven for the prescribed time.  Definite bread type aromas keeping us amused from about the half way point.

Out of the oven, cool only marginally and eat all on it's own - keep reading to find out why.

Day 3

Reheat the leftovers in a stink'n hot oven for a relatively short time.  Enjoy the exposed, now toasty end, more than the other parts with our consommé.


Awesome!  Possibly the most successful and tasty bread we've had the pleasure of messing up our kitchen with.

Due to technical difficulties, we didn't have a consommé to share it with.  We actually just ate it straight up.  We briefly considered adding butter, but the warm steamy herby feel and aromas convinced us otherwise.  Seriously, this was our dinner, combined with the Best Frozen Custard in the land as an appetizer.  Yep, things didn't go to plan...

For us it was far far better straight out of the oven than reheated and although we didn't actually get to dip it in anything this way we don't think it is really a good dipping type bread.  We got this impression just eating it, and only confirmed this to ourselves when we actually got to dip it in something.

We would have no hesitation having a loaf of this handy (and fresh out of the oven) to start a meal with friends, but would serve up something different if we had a soup course.

Chicken Wontons

We've made dumpling type devices before so weren't too worried about this part of the process.

Day 3

Didn't do anything on Day 2 due to the technical difficulties you'll learn about real soon..

Easy enough to chop the chicken in the food-processor.  Couldn't think of a reason not to add the sherry, soy and pepper at the same time.  Adding the green stuff (in a bowl, not the processor) took longer to chop than stir...

Couldn't be easier to scoop and seal them up.  We made them in little parcel shapes, rather than pot-stickers so for the cooking part we didn't really see a way to flip them over and make sure everything was cooked nicely on the inside - can't be having partially cooked chicken.  We went with the fry to get a crust on the bottom then added some water (watch out for some angry sizzling), covered them and steamed for a couple of minutes to make sure all was good.


Pretty good.  We could do them again, that's for sure.  Might try a different shape next time and be able to flip them instead of steaming, but we weren't unhappy with having them steamed.

A great match with the consommé.  We both felt obliged to dip the ones on the side before consumption.

Had enough left over that they served as a pretty good emergency dinner for one.  Didn't have any more consommé so just used a simple dipping sauce.

Golden Chicken Consommé

Day 1

Making of the Stock was fine.  We've made vegetable stock many times, but that's more to use up vegetables that are fast approaching a too late date with no readily available option to use them.  It was kind of fun to head off out to buy stuff just for a stock.  It's possibly the first time we've actually bought a whole chicken that wasn't already roasted up for us....

Brown off the chicken type stuff, little bit of sweating of the veg and then everything in the pot, water in, turn on the fire, wait patiently. 

We did do some skimming along the way, but really didn't get all that much stuff that needed to be removed.

Cool, and then in to the freezer to keep safe until next weekend for the 'real' part of this challenge.

The pleasant side effect is that we ended up with a really nicely cooked whole chicken.  It was really juicy.  We turned it into sandwiches and also added it to a scheduled salad that was originally chicken-less.  Win!

Day 2

We were very excited to give this a go!  But, had a bit of trouble figuring out exactly what the recipe was asking of us.  We made our best guesses... 

First, with the plan to do Consommé do we skip Step 2 (make the soup)?  We went with no because Step 3 talked about adding cooked meat to the egg whites and the only meat cooking part was in the soup making Step.  So, the soup part went splendidly.  Again, we kept an eye out for skimming requirements but didn't really find anything.

Now, things started to go poorly.  Probably based on our previous decision to do the Soup stage...  The egg white, ice, cooked meat thing didn't make a lot of sense to us, but we tried it.  We couldn't see any sensible way to separate the chicken from the vegetables and such so we just left it all together.  Whisk eggs, ice, cooked stuff, back in simmering pot, stir - but only for 3 long seconds and walk away.


We never got a raft, everything just sank mostly to the bottom and stayed there - and we're not supposed to stir anymore so we couldn't encourage it back up other than by staring at it.  We let it go for 30 minutes before giving up.  Basically, we just made a form of egg drop soup...  There was much un-rejoicing!  No tears, though!  We pulled out all the lumpy bits and were pretty much back where we started with the stock apart from having a more chickeny constitution and also all the fun additives that joined the party...  Onward, to the fridge...

Abort any plans for making the Wontons, calculate there's just enough time to eat dessert before the bread comes out of the oven and go watch TV with a tub of Frozen Custard.

Day 3

Google is your friend!  We found a couple of recipes that talked about doing the raft thing a bit differently and were just about to pick one to attempt to rescue our project when we stumbled on a YouTube video of someone making a consommé which we didn't particularly find useful, but that caused us to move our search from Google to YouTube.  We ended up with this one from Chef Sanecki - thanks chef!

Back to the store for more raft building items...

So, it didn't come with a recipe which led to us making our best guess (common theme for this challenge...) on quantities.  We guessed wrong.  Well, actually, we pretty much guessed right, but didn't factor in that he had a much bigger pot of stock than us.  Oh well, again.

So we followed his guidelines of starting with everything cold and uncooked, getting everyone in the pool, stirring constantly, heating slowly until just over 130°, now walk away and don't touch.  Almost straight away we got things forming at the top and shortly afterwards we got little pockets of bubbles coming up.  Nervous at first, after about 20 minutes we mostly were happy to let it be for the recommended 90 minutes.

Perhaps at the 60 minute mark we decided we needed to poke a couple of holes in the raft as the bubbling had pretty much stopped.  Even without poking it was obvious that something good was happening underneath based on what we could see overflowing the edges.  Woo Hoo!  This is when we realized something went wrong with our raft building quantities.  Due to the effort required for hole poking it was apparent that our raft went almost all the way to the bottom of the pot. 

No Soup for you!  Please, not again? 

Not so quick!  We let it go the full 90 minutes and started the extraction process.  Slow and fiddly and many coffee filters were required due to the raft breaking up a bit as we battled it for the very clear liquid that could be coaxed out of the pot.

After we decided to let it go the last 30 minutes we got to work on the Wontons because we needed to eat something somehow someway...

It took awhile to do the filtering, but we ended up with a pot of very consommé looking consommé.  And there was much rejoicing and excitement throughout the trashed kitchen!  It took so long to filter that we had cold consommé only to play with.  No big deal, we have fire, right.

Ah, crap!  While we were frying up our first batch of Wontons we let the consommé heat all the way up to a boil.  Don't do that!  It went cloudy at first, but it turned into a sort of suspended sediment.  No one anywhere we looked earlier in the day suggested this could happen.  We briefly considered filtering again, but we were hungry and the Wontons were ready and the leftover bread warmed again. 

We soldiered on, but does anyone know what happened there?


It was tasty, absolutely!  Perhaps the double stock creation process we used helped?  But it didn't look very consomméy at the eating part of the process.  The Wontons were great in it!

A lot of work that got us nowhere, but eventually we ended up with a two-partnight dinner.

There was some left over but it went to the great drain in the sink due to it having a disproportionate amount of the crud we created during the accidental boiling part - we tried really hard not to get it in our bowls for the dinner part of the event.

Recipes & Destructions Instructions



We did it, but we failed too - more than once...

It would take a very extra super duper special event for us to try a Consommé again, and even then we'd almost certainly skip it.  A well executed bowl would look awesome served up to guests, but the specific needs of the cooking process and our level of skill in understanding exactly what is happening makes it just to risky.  We would cry if we tried again and didn't end up with a great bowl.

The Wontons and Bread on the other hand, do have a place in the lets-impress-the-guests file and we look forward to the opportunity to unleash these dishes upon others.

As always, we dug into the Cellar for a wine to share our project with.  Not surprisingly, nothing was suggested as a match for consommé.  We settled on something we've never seen before because it was suggested as a match for chicken dishes.  It had a little sweetness to it that we though offset nicely what was going on in the consommé.

We lived, we learned, we trashed the kitchen (2.5 times!), we ate something we'd never made ourselves before.  The point of being Daring, right?  The next time Consommé appears on a menu we'll endeavor to grab up a bowl in appreciation of what the chef had to go through to get it to us!


Peta, of the blog Peta Eats, was our lovely hostess for the Daring Cook’s September 2011 challenge, “Stock to Soup to Consommé”. We were taught the meaning between the three dishes, how to make a crystal clear Consommé if we so chose to do so, and encouraged to share our own delicious soup recipes!

Comments pre Blog Platform Change

Audax Artifex responded:
WOW your postings are always so much fun to read. Great that you got the bread and the wontons sorted out from the challenge they sound so delicious. Sorry to hear that the clarified cosumme went cloudy when boiled (I have never heard of this happening). But at least it tasted wondereful. Cheers from Audax in Sydney Australia.

Ruth H. responded:
I kind of want to see your raft that ate the consomme pot...! I am quite impressed with your perseverence, and I am glad there were some successes inthere for you! I ws not brave enough to try making consomme in the first place, so I am even more impressed with your dilligence in trying twice!!

Jo Ann responded:
I love your descriptive post - you get an A++ for effort for sure. You were more patient than most. We have all been in your shoes (I should write a book of kitchen disasters). But in the end, you got a delicious meal -that's what counts!

Makey-Cakey responded:
Top marks for perseverence! Your description of the wonton making makes them sound easier than I thought - thinking I might brave trying them!

Shelley C responded:
Man, you guys are nothing if not persistent!! I love reading about your adventures, and totally applaud your efforts. Your bread sounds wonderful, and the consommme sounds... well... amusing :) Really great job!

Heather responded:
Oh my gosh, you guys are hilarious!!! I love the description of your culinary adventure. And it was smart to take days to do it. Mine took 6 hours on a Sunday afternoon!

Jo responded:
That was quite the adventure/ordeal! The bread sounds just divine, I love herby yeasty baked goodness, I'm sorry the consomme part didn't work out too well for you!

sawsan@chef in disguise responded:
I loved reading your post..hats off to you for all the attempts and not giving sounds like it was quite an adventure :)

andy responded:
Fabulous post! I too found some of the instructions odd and I went back and forth a few times with Do I do step 2 or go to Step 3?

Well done for soldering on!

Oggi responded:
You two crack me up! This is the most fun DC I've read so far and I was grinning while reading. I can't wait for your next the kitchen.:)

Peta responded:
sorry you had trouble with the recipes. I am not a wine buff, so I can't recomend a wine to go with it.
I just fry the wontons in deep oil and as long as they are golden they are always cooked through when I make the little ones.
your raft should only be about an inch or so thick.
I find if I don't get a recipe the first time making it again is the key to success.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Appam and Curry

It's been a couple of challenges since we've had to really plan our attack out (shopping as well as timing) and get started the day (or many days) before the scheduled eating of the result.  Probably could have squeezed it in a day, but we used the night time too.

Thanks for giving us a lot to pick from!  We almost went with the whole fish, but we like lamb...


Nothing complicated rounding up the ingredients, all coming from our regulation everyday store or our pantry.  We did learn that Coconut Water comes in a soda can, though; and the one we were presented with had small chunks of coconut floating around.

Day 1, just before bed time get the rice a soaking.  The hardest part of this is actually not getting up off the couch and going straight to bed...

Day 2, just before leaving for work, get the coconut water, yeast and sugar playing together.  Load up the food processor with the soaked rice and wait a few minutes for the yeast to wake up.  Everyone in the processor and grind up that rice.  Almost finished, add in the cooked rice (which for the record is very hard to cook if you have no need for a normal batch that you can just rob from!), and grind a bit more.  Set it aside, cover and go to work.

Day 2, just after getting home and feeding the cats, do nothing.  Well, until the Curry is ready because the recipe says cook and eat, not cook and keep to the side.

Day 2, just as the Curry is almost done, add in the coconut milk, whip it all up and have a go at cooking them up.  Small amount in the pan, swirl quickly, cover.  That's easy enough, right?  And we would tend to agree.  But we could not get them out of the pan and we certainly didn't get any curled up edges.

It seems we're experts at having them stick to the pan and when we finally got smartlucky enough to not have them completely stick to the pan we could do nothing but get them stuck to the spatula (a non-stick one at that!).  We did eventually get them on the plate, but they were more pile-like than pancake-like. 

For the record, we tried a normal pan, lightly oiled; beat up non-stick, lightly oiled; fairly new non-stick, lightly oiled; non-stick skillet, lightly oiled; fairly new non-stick, moderately oiled (don't do that, nothing good comes of it!) and even the pan we would call our best produced some stickage with the others varying degrees of disaster.  There's clearly something we're missing, or did wrong with the batter.  Anyone?


We sucked at this!  Our first batch was probably nice calling it a disaster (for reasons not needing to be discussed here we started on one day but had to abort until a couple of days later, way past the recommended batter storing time).  Our second batch, much less disaster-like, but did not look a whole lot like the final result pictures provided. Oh well.

However, we think they tasted ok and we think the texture worked ok with the Curry.  We'll have to go out and eat some 'real' ones some day soon at least for comparison, but more for tips on making the pesky little things...

Sri Lankan Lamb Curry

A previous challenge got us the knowledge of where to find the lamb so that was easy (if you don't count getting a little bit lost on the drive over).  Fresh Curry Leafs and Whole Spices needed a bit more consideration, but ultimately was not a problem.  We headed over to a neighborhood where we thought we'd have the best chance for success and one shop later, we now have a new shop on our go-to list and a bag with all the goodies we need.

Once the ingredients are in hand it really is nothing more than a come home after work and 'whip' it up type dish.  Phew!  Because we did come home after work and 'whip' it up.

The nice men at the store had cut the lamb up mostly in the size we were after so that was a very easy Step 1. 

Step 2 was no harder, but we were a bit puzzled by the amount of Cardamom used.  After opening up 2 pods and extracting the seeds it didn't seem like there were enough of them, especially compared to how much of the others were used.  We don't have a reference point so we just went with our pinch of seeds.  The whole batch toasts up nicely, 'stink' up the kitchen just wonderfully and with just a little bit of coaxing all fit in the grinder.  Grinding only improves the 'stink'!

We didn't do Part 2 of Step 3 correctly, or in fact, at all.  We read the ingredient list, saw Tamarind, thought "cool, it's already in the fridge" and therefore didn't add it to the shopping list.  What we didn't pick up on until we were in our not-going-out-again-tonight clothes was that the recipe called for Tamarind pulp and we are the proud owners of Tamarind paste.  No idea how the two equate so when we got to the tamarind liquid part we just added a tablespoon of paste to the water.  Not sure how it affected the final taste, but comparing it to the pictures provided our final effort was much much darker, which was a bit of a shame because it was an awesome color when the Tumeric first went in.

Other than that, getting everyone else to the party was uneventful.  We didn't get the smells coming out of the pot as strongly as we expected, but we're kind of thinking that's due partly (mostly?) to the Tamarind incident of '11.  Well, actually there was a close call towards the end...  We were mere minutes away from reducing it down too far and into that not-fun-for-the-dishwasher stuck to the pan stage. 


Yummy!  We really liked it.  We're not sure how it would compare to the others out there, but we're happy with what we got.  The lamb was tender, the sauce was rich without being too rich and there was no chance of there being leftovers for lunch the next day.

Recipes & Destructions Instructions



It's unlikely we'll have a go at the Appams again (unless we get some tips / tricks that come with a guarantee of success), but there's no reason to think we wouldn't consider the Curry again, especially seeing how many new spices we now have in the pantry (well, technically stuck to the fridge...).  Our friends would appreciate our effort, we're sure, if we served them up, but we're not going to just yet...

We probably need to give the Curry another go and do the Tamarind parts correctly, but maybe we won't because there's no reason to think we can't just be happy with our 'interpretation'...

We cracked open a bottle of Corets de Cima "Chaminé" which wouldn't have been our fist choice had we not enjoyed our first and second choice at some earlier time - solely based on the tasting notes provided.  It was new to us and a relatively new grape so it was fun to have open.  We don't think it aided our enjoyment of the Curry, but it sure didn't hurt it either.


Mary, who writes the delicious blog, Mary Mary Culinary was our August Daring Cooks’ host. Mary chose to show us how delicious South Indian cuisine is! She challenged us to make Appam and another South Indian/Sri Lankan dish to go with the warm flat bread.

Comments pre Blog Platform Change

Stephanie responded:
Hmm... well, these are my tips from dosas and appam:

1) start with rice flour. food processors may not get it fine enough but blenders probably will.

2) make sure you have a HOT pan before you add batter

3) swirl, don't tilt. Sadly, I figured that out on the second to last one so most of mine were slightly weird shapes.

4) if they break, you either have a batter that is too thick or you tried to flip it too early.

They're quite yummy though, and if you start with rice flour, not quite so involved.

Makey-Cakey responded:
My Appam were definitely pile like rather than pancake like too! Well done for persevering - I eventually gave in and added a tablespoon of flour, which helped quite a lot! - but was technically cheating!

andy responded:
I'm sorry that you had such a hard time! My second go, after having the batter in the fridge 2 days, stuck too. Very frustrating!

anja janssen responded:
What a great story, it gave me a smile. My first appams were a real mess, because I forgot the lid. Later it went better. But I'm curious how the official appams taste.

Mary Dolan responded:
Sorry to hear that you had trouble with the appams, but thanks for participating. I didn't have any troubles with them sticking, but I used a new non-stick pan, lightly oiled. It may have been the heat--I had to do a lot of fiddling to get that right. I think tamarind paste/pulp goes by different names. I used the stuff in a solid block, but have no idea if I got it right either. As long as it tasted good. Cheers!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

My Noodle Hands

We've made our own pasta a couple of times, usually for some sort of ravioli type device, so in the vain of being daring we decided to give the Spätzle a go.  Definitely eaten it before, but never thought about the behind the scenes part of it until now - not even a little.  Now we have...

We normally just work from exactly what is presented.  However, we found a recipe as part of the comments to the challenge which we thought would suit our current eating /  cooking arrangements - we're currently training for a race and the closer we get to race day the longer the workouts are getting, so in an attempt to reduce kitchen stress after getting home late, we're eating the same for lunch as we are for dinner and this recipe seemed more like a meal than a side compared to the traditional one offered.

German Spätzle

We went with the sundried tomato, leek, bacon and gruyere receipe.

Certainly easy enough to round up the ingredients.  Actually, if we stayed with the recipe offered as part of the challenge introduction we wouldn't have even needed to go to the store (yes, we had some buttermilk in the freezer - for pancake emergencies, of course), so yes, easy to round up the ingredients.

Not knowing what optional herbs and spices our little guys would benefit from we just went with what was suggested.  And when given the option to use buttermilk we always try to as we like the sort of gentle zing it brings to the party.

Adding the flour is no drama.  The batter / dough (anyone?  batter or dough?) certainly stiffens up quite quickly, and does get hard to stir.  It did end up quite smooth without too much huff'n and puff'n.

A small technical bit of trickery...  When it gets to the forming part of the process the directions say use a tablespoon.  OK, tablespoon is located.  It only took us one to figure out something was up, because half a tablespoon is a pretty big Spätzle.  We continued along with out tablespoons but barely filled them at all.  When all was said and done we went back and took a peek at the pictures provided - it looks like a teaspoon to us.  No harm done, although if we'd never seen a Spätzle before we may have ended up with the worlds biggest ones...

The recipe we went with called for cooking the Spätzle up as normal, but then shocking it in ice water so as to have ready to fry up with the rest of the fun ingredients. We created our own small problem in that we had completely raided our ice supply so as to get our chosen wine ready for consumption.  Although nothing to cry about, we had to sacrifice a few degrees of wine chilliness for the good of the little guys...

Not sure if it was operator error or just the nature of the 'beast' but we could not get the guys to brown up in the pan.  Well, actually we could, but the second they did it stuck to the pan and separated away from the piece the next time we even thought about stirring.  Oh well, not a deal breaker, just perplexing a little.



Didn't look even a little bit like the Spätzle we've had in restaurants as a side to something.  We also ended up with bigger pieces than we've seen before, but the texture was pretty much spot on what we expected.

The dish was a great combination of ingredients - someone was very clever to figure them out!  We almost certainly will have a go at using them in a normal everyday pasta dish sometime soonish.

Not surprisingly, our Wine Club had not provided us with a wine that is a known Spätzle match.  We themed on location, so grabbed up an Austrian (something that's name and type of grape is forgotten until we get through the trash and find the bottle later today...) Grüner Veltliner as our best 'match'.  That we'd never seen this grape before we had no idea what to expect.  The wine was a pleasant surprise and worked out just fine with the dish, but it might have been the richness of the sun dried tomatoes that helped more than the actual Spätzle.

Recipes & Destructions Instructions



Fun, not hard, tasty and certainly something we could bring out for friends.  Although we ate it as a meal (twice) we would tend toward serving it as a side, perhaps with something like a lamb dish.

Makes ugly, but tasty left overs, which tends to suggest it's really a prepare and eat right now type of dish but in our case it may have been more the Gruyere's fault and less the Spätzle's.


ps. you might want to wash your mixing bowl the second you finish forming your little guys.  We're just say'n...

Steph, from Stephfood was our Daring Cooks' July hostess. Steph challenged us to make homemade noodles without the help of a motorized pasta machine. She provided us with recipes for Spätzle and Fresh Egg Pasta as well as a few delicious sauces to pair our noodles with!

Comments pre Blog Platform Change

Melanie responded:
Your spaetzle sounds tasty! And I do what to know what wine you ended up serving with it!

Jo responded:
The spatzle sound delish, but I am an inquiring mind as well, what was the wine? Hope you can find the bottle!

andy responded:
sundried tomato, leek, bacon and gruyere - what a great combo of flavours! I'll have to try this one.

Ruth H. responded:
I agree that spaetzle might not be the prettiest dish around, but it certainly is yummy! I am glad you found a recipe that worked for you, and I hope your training is going well!

blepharisma responded:
Hahaha... I laughed at the P.S. Yup, a very sticky and gross mess to clean spätzle - yum, yum, yum! I'm glad you enjoyed the challenge - thanks for sharing!

Mary responded:
That sounds like a great combination of flavours, whether the first time around or left over. I used a slotted spoon and forced the batter (I'm going with that, as it wasn't that thick) through it, for small, squiggly spaetzle. Yum and good luck with the race preparation!

David responded:
Hi guys, thanks for dropping buy. Regarding the wine, we found the bottle and updated the post to provide a link back to the Wine Club article. It was a Grüner Veltliner - a definite mouthful to say, but a really enjoyable mouthful to drink. Specifically, it was 2010 Weingut Stadt Krems but we have no idea how hard it might be to find as we got it through out Club.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Healthy Potato Salads from Around the World!

It feels like only yesterday that we were cranky about the challenge being turned into a popularity contest and here we are again, and this time with sponsors... 

It feels like a challenge designed to be a competition has to be easier.  How much variation and competition winningness can be found in the great challenging and daring challenges like Gumbo and Cassoulet?  Oh well...

On the plus side, this was an easy challenge and we didn't have to set aside a day (or weeks) and in fact went to the stores after work to round everything up (as well as the groceries for the rest of the week), whip it up, and eat dinner at the same time we eat just about every other night after work.

It's not like we've not made a Potato Salad of some sort before, so it was the German one that caught our eye because the dressing was more sauce like than dressing like and it sounded like we could serve it hot as a main rather than as a side - we didn't feel we had any potato salad side worthy events coming up.

German Potato Salad

We've had challenges before rounding up ingredients, but not this one.  We could have found everything easily in our normal everyday store, but actually went to two because we think we've found a new little market that does great fruit & veg at really quite good prices.

A little bit of guessing.  Recipe just says potatoes (we went with red skinned, medium sized) and vinegar (we've never had plain ol' vinegar in the pantry so went with half apple cider and half white vinegar because we didn't have enough of either and together we ended up with just a smidge under the required amount).  No guessing on the bacon because we were given the choice of bacon bacon or turkey bacon.  We don't mind bacon bacon, but don't need it in / on / around everything as just about every tv chef / judge / face is sprouting these days.  Therefore, turkey bacon was the winner.

We also changed the recipe and left the skins on.  Partly (ok, mostly) because we didn't feel like peeling potatoes that really don't need to be peeled, but also because the red skin just makes everything look a bit more interesting.

The sauce comes together sort of in an ugly way, but when it's ready for the Potatoes all is well, and once they and the Bacon join in, all is very well.  The kitchen certainly changes complexion when the first wafts of boiling sauce sends the vinegar aroma(s) your way.


Tasty!  Served well as dinner on it's own, and as a bonus also served equally as well as lunch the next day.

The 'sauce' was consistent with the ingredients in it.  It was tangy, yet sweet, a little bit of crunch and coated everything nicely.

Tradition now sort of dictates we grab something out of our Wine Club 'Cellar' but alas, none of our Tasting Notes suggested a pairing with Potato Salad.  We took a chance on a 2008 Capestrano Passerina Marche and we think we lucked out. The acidity of the wine played nicely with the tangyness of the sauce.  And, even if it wasn't a great match (it was!) hey, we still got to have a glass or 3 on a school night...

Recipes & Destructions Instructions



A tasty result and a pretty good option next time we have to show up at a BBQ with a side, or have a hankering for a home cooked meal based on potatoes.

Nothing complicated. Thanks for the easy challenge, especially after the huffing and puffing of the Gumbo.  That being said, we really get much more excited by the challenges that really force us to be Daring, even if it takes hours / days of shopping / preping / stirring and sitting around enjoying the smells from the kitchen.


Jami Sorrento was our June Daring Cooks hostess and she chose to challenge us to celebrate the humble spud by making a delicious and healthy potato salad. The Daring Cooks Potato Salad Challenge was sponsored by the nice people at the United States Potato Board, who awarded prizes to the top 3 most creative and healthy potato salads. A medium-size (5.3 ounce) potato has 110 calories, no fat, no cholesterol, no sodium and includes nearly half your daily value of vitamin C and has more potassium than a banana!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Gumbo - let the good times roll!

Ahh, no competition to get upset about, just the thought of a wonderfully gumbo'd up kitchen...

YES!  The good times rolled!  Oh, are we allowed to start with the Conclusion?

Although not quite the same scope in terms of days to make as our Cassoulet from a few months back it certainly was in terms of how full our pot became, how many dishes it took to make and how many left overs we got to enjoy.

Chicken & Smoked Sausage Gumbo

Technically, we should change the name of this dish because in our haste to round up the sausage and duck fat from the place we were certain would have them we make a boo-boo.  We didn't read properly and didn't notice the error until we were well into the do-all-your-chopping-before-starting-the-roux-or-you'll-have-the-plague-come-down-upon-you stage.  Oh well, we are only a little bummed and totally ok with the result.  We missed the part about the 2 pounds of sausage being smoked and just grabbed up some normal everyday ready for the grill fun sausages.


Chicken & Mostly Un-Smoked Sausage Gumbo

All the other shopping was easy.  We thought our 'wrong' sausage store would be our best bet for finding Filé powder, but as it turned out it wasn't and we actually found it in our normal everyday store. We haven't really learned how to cut up a whole chicken properly so decided to get a tray of legs and a tray of thighs (which turned out to be 10 pieces) which then meant we didn't have any bits and pieces for making up the stock.  It seems less silly to use boxed stock than to get a chicken just to turn it into stock  - we will keep the recipe safe and sound and apply it to our left over turkey come Thanksgiving and Christmas.  We still had to use a third store to find Okra but we found it very easily in the fresh section.

We are already in possession of the spices required for the Basic Creole Spices so while one of us started the do-all-your-chopping-before-starting-the-roux-or-you'll-have-the-plague-come-down-upon-you the other took on the delicate task of measuring and mixing.  One of us thought this a less fair dispersing of duties so the spice creator also got to cut up the sausages (this is when the boo-boo dawned on us) after the seasoning was completed.

It's fun to watch the roux develop, but it's not fun to stand over the pot whisking away for about 20 minutes, plus another 10 once the onions join in.  We make risotto from time to time and spend almost twice as long at the pot stirring away, but this was so much heavier on the wrists - even as we tag teamed it.  Ok, enough whining...  but next time we'll give Alton's technique a go - we had seen that episode, but thought for the challenge we should put in the elbow (and wrist) grease.  Oh, and it's fun to get the smell of the duck fat while your arms contemplate falling off.

Time for the chicken.  Perhaps our pot was a too small, but we could barely get all the pieces in and with the roux being very 'friendly' towards the chicken we struggled to get the chicken into place to get it browned.  We let it go the suggested 10 minutes, but it was more not brown than brown.  We figured there would be no problem getting it cooked considering the time still to go.

Time for the do-all-your-chopping-before-starting-the-roux-or-you'll-have-the-plague-come-down-upon-you to join in the fun.  Then the stock.  Now we know out pot was not big enough as we couldn't get the advertised amount in.  Probably about 75% made it in.  Oh well.  At this stage we kind of thought we had a gumbo looking think on it's way.  Set the timer for 45 minutes and come visit every now and again for skimming and stirring.

The kitchen had really started to smell nice but unlike when we did the Cassoulet we didn't get the effect through the whole house.  Oh well.  We added in the last of the goodies and set the timer for another 45 minutes (which was conveniently about the time we needed for the rice).  We returned for more skimming (we skimmed a lot more this go around) and stirring.  As noted before, one of us is a bit of a baby when it comes to the hot / spicy end of the scale.  We went easy on the Tabasco and our smoked sausages were labled mild.

We have a bunch of different rices in the pantry, but no long-grain white.  We selected some Basmati and cooked it per instructions on the box but with the Louisiana recipe.  We know it didn't quite look the same as tradition suggests, but we're ok with making this substitution.  And next time we use it we'll probably use this recipe even for a non-gumbo application.


Yum!  Some would argue ours didn't have enough 'kick', but quite enough for the less hardy of us.  Some might also argue that Basmati Rice is not the way to go, but we think it did it's job admirably. 

We think it looked the way it should, it certainly was rich and hearty and tasty.  Yum!  The sauce had thickened up nicely and it was very very easy to go back for seconds.

We're not exactly sure what the Filé brought to the party?  Sprinkling to taste is a tough instruction when you don't know what the taste is...  We'll add it to the Spice Rack on the fridge and we'll pay a bit more attention when scouring our food magazines for a way to use it and maybe learn enough to understand when we could add it to something else.

Recipes & Destructions Instructions



YES!  The good times rolled!  This is another one pot dish that could easily be brought out to impress friends!

We've gotten into the habit of searching our Wine Club collection for something that is suggested to match up with whatever this month's challenge is and we've had no reason to disagree with the suggestions.  This month our only Gumbo suggestion had been enjoyed previously as part of an earlier challenge, so we picked the one which suggested pairing with Cajun dishes.  It worked GREAT, and our left overs just weren't quite the same without it.

If you have leftovers (as most of us probably did!) don't just leave it in the pot, jam it in the fridge and bring it out for reheating.  We got a really good burn on the bottom that took about as much elbow grease as the roux.  We're pretty certain it all developed during the reheat and fortunately didn't notice anything bad because of it.


Our May hostess, Denise, of There’s a Newf in My Soup!, challenged The Daring Cooks to make Gumbo! She provided us with all the recipes we’d need, from creole spices, homemade stock, and Louisiana white rice, to Drew’s Chicken & Smoked Sausage Gumbo and Seafood Gumbo from My New Orleans: The Cookbook, by John Besh.

Comments pre Blog Platform Change

andy responded:
Great post! Thanks for sharing.

blepharisma responded:
Good job! Sounds like your boo-boo wasn't too bad, after all... I think there is some flexibility in the ingredients (although I know many of us were just trying to get everything right, according to the base recipe).

Ruth H. responded:
What a complete write-up this was...! Fun to read, and kind of made me want to be in the kitchen with you...! I am glad that the gumbo was a success, and that you got to enjoy the process, sore wrists and elbows and all! Thanks for sharing your fun and creativity!

Faith responded:
I had the same problems with my pot and it was the biggest I had!!! I kept thinking to hell with it!!! That chicken will cook in the pot!!!
Well done and Im glad you enjoyed the challenge!

Audax Artifex responded:
WOW another successful challenge it sounds like you both had a great time with this gumbo. Glad to hear that the mild sausage worked out so well in the end. And yes the leftovers are marvellous reheated. Fabulous work.

Cheers from Audax in Sydney Australia.

Claire responded:
Great job on your gumbo, it sounds delicious! :)

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Edible Containers (savory)

Ok, so our hearts weren't in this one at all.  Happily, we can report that our knives and pots & pans and oven and dishwasher were.

We signed up (almost a year now) to learn about and try new things in the kitchen - to be daring! - which we feel we've done quite well at in-an-overall-big-picture sort of way. 

We did not sign up to try to win popularity contests. 

We did not sign up to show off our pretty pictures (which for the record, we stopped even trying very early on because, well, they just weren't very pretty...). We did not sign up to invent or interpret the dishes presented as part of the challenge. 

We just wanted to try something new and be guided along the way.  But we are exceptionally grateful to those who do take (and show) great pictures and those who interpret and invent the dishes because we've certainly learned some new and fun stuff from reading about (and seeing) what other members get up to as part of each challenge - a wonderful bonus to our choice to being daring.

We promised ourselves we'd be daring and if we got past our first two challenges (we did, quite easily, safely and well in case you were wondering) there'd be no reason to skip anything that came our way.  So, here we are...

Hopefully next month will get back to 'normal'?

Pumpkin Bowl filled with Creamy Shrimp (Bisque?)

We had some friends coming over for dinner during the challenge and we had been unable to lock in a menu. We really like the family style approach to dining (at home and out and about - which occasionally gets our Server a bit wound up) and a pumpkin full of goodness shouts nothing but family style. 

Catch is, we failed miserably at the Pumpkin Bowl part of the challenge. 

The things that went wrong...

  1. We couldn't find one big Pumpkin but found some good looking smaller ones which we thought would do the job as individual bowls rather than a serving bowl.
  2. We couldn't get them to cook.  The recipe said 25 minutes x 2.  We had smaller 'dudes' and although we classified them as cooked at about the 1 hour 40 minute mark it definitely wasn't 'puree like'.
  3. Our designated carver could not get the good bits out without completely (and yes, completely is the correct word) destroying the shells.  Not even close!
  4. And not related to our pumpkin issues, but we grabbed up headless shrimp so the stock we came up with probably was missing a little something something due to it just being born of the shells.

We did not, however, fail at the Soup making part of the challenge.

The things that went right...

  1. No blood drawn whilst chopping onions, garlic and tomatoes.
  2. The shrimp 'veins' came out nice and easy.
  3. The kitchen smelled nice.
  4. The soup turned into soup.

    If you take out the Pumpkin Bowl part of the equation it worked out just fine (which sadly, was the main part of this challenge).  One of us really liked it, the other went with a good-but-we've-made-better-soups feeling.  Our friends liked it and their 2 year old was happy to play with it.

    And, who was the clever person who figured out adding cream cheese to a soup is a good thing?  Cudos to them!  It turned out to be quite thick, which we could have thinned down easily enough but we chose not to and it had a really nice feel as well as taste to it.

    Recipes & Destructions Instructions



    We were a bit cranky starting off, but glad we gave it a whirl. On the plus side, we didn't get more cranky when it became obvious we weren't going to end up with a Pumpkin Bowl.

    We certainly didn't get anything photo worthy (not that we probably would even if we made the best pumpkin bowl ever...) but we got something tasty that was new and fun and enjoyed by us and our friends (and even a small bowl of leftovers for lunch during the week).

    We can follow a recipe, but it seems we we're not very good at the 'precision' parts required when dealing with a gourd type device.  Oh well.

    Stay JOLLY!

    Renata of Testado, Provado & Aprovado! was our Daring Cooks’ April 2011 hostess. Renata challenged us to think “outside the plate” and create our own edible containers!  Prizes are being awarded to the most creative edible container and filling, so vote on your favorite from April 17th to May 16th at!

    Comments pre Blog Platform Change

    Audax Artifex responded:
    Please don't post photos I really like how you don't yes I wasn't too impressed with a competition since I don't think the point of the forums is about that it is sharing and doing a common recipe and learning like you said I'm sure this is a one time blimp in the scheme of things. Sorry to hear the pumpkin container didn't work out so well but at least the soup was good. Great work thank you for joining in this month's challenge.

    Cheers from Audax in Sydney Australia.

    Shelley C responded:
    While I loved this challenge due to the creativity, I completely understand your reasons for not being enthusiastic, and I do agree very much with some... it is frustrating for to "enter a contest" that you (I!) know you (I!) have no chance of actually winning... and knowing up front which people have the greatest chance of doing so... I am glad that you participated in the challenge, anyway, because, after all, it's still a challenge and you still got to try something you'd never tried before!! And, hey - a bunch of things went right (no blood! woohoo!),so it's all good. :)

    SeattleDee responded:
    I'm chuckling at your comments and nodding in agreement... EXCEPT I loved this challenge and didn't enjoy the previous two. Go figure! The opportunity to try new things unites the DC community, and it's a treat to compare experiences via blog posts. Forget about photo contests, your word pictures are pure delight.

    Lisa responded:
    Wow..I forgot we were entered in a contest for these lol Well..ike Shelly said, most of us don't expect to win, and frankly, like you, I do these challenges out of pure enjoyment. I don't have natural light, so I can't take photos like other bloggers, but I do the best with what I have, and if photo buffs don't like it..oh well!

    That said, LOVE the idea of a pumpkin bowl for soup, and I adore the choice of (is it a soup?) creamy shrimp! I may not be able to see it, but the mind is the best 'photo viewer' out there :)

    Mary responded:
    I know exactly what you mean about the popularity contest.
    I liked the idea of the containers, but felt like it encouraged people to come up with something with real bells and whistles, rather than just good-tasting food. Your pumpkin soup sounds divine, though, and I'll have to try cream cheese next time I have a soup that needs a bit of creaminess.

    Renata responded:
    I'm sorry to know that you didn't enjoy the challenge so much, and that the pumpkin bowl didn't work for you, but I'm glad to know that you successfully adapted the shrimp cream into a creamy soup, and that everything went well.. no blood... lol
    Thanks for participating even if it wasn't a very exciting idea for you :)

    Monday, March 14, 2011

    ¡Me Encanta Perú! - Ceviche and Papas Rellenas

    So, just like in the previous challenge we needed to grab our thermometer and common sense for a part of this challenge.

    Two things that we've never made before, but one we have eaten.

    Cheviche de Pescado

    We normally get a little upset when we're trying something new and then given options "firm white fish (scallops or other seafood may be substituted)" - if it's new, we really like all the coaching we can get and next time we might mix it up a little.  But having had a couple of variations in the past we sucked it up and hit the local store (actually, 2 of the same brand because the first didn't have our preferred Sea Bass) that has helped us out with great seafood before.  We ended up with Sea Bass, Scallops (Bay and Sea) and Squid.

    We must have had double extra quadruple juicy limes - we got more than a cup from just 6.  Then it was easy enough to get the Seafood into bite size pieces, chop up the Onion, Cilantro and Pepper (we went mild and easy because one of us cries like a baby if it gets too hot) and get it all into the pool.

    Again, another choice for beginners...  'Cook' for 10 minutes, or 24 hours?  Hmm...  We certainly weren't going to wait 24 hours - we were hungry.  We ended up splitting everything into 2 batches.  The first we did for 10 minutes, the second for an hour.  We certainly could see the extra 'cooking' in the second batch but we don't think it needed it.  We didn't detect any difference in the flavors from the Lime mixture between the 2 batches.  It's good to know we can aim for quick, but have a good bit of wiggle room if we get distracted and still end up with the same dish we were aiming for.

    We opened a J. Christopher Sauvignon Blanc and we think it paired up ok.  We probably didn't need the side of Sweet Potato and Corn but enjoyed them.  They certainly provided some color to the plate.  Perhaps the contrast of cold and hot 'confused' us a little?  Not the worst things we could match up with our Ceviche by any way you keep score, and really, we don't have any suggestions for anything more appropriate.


    We couldn't see any glaring difference to any Ceviche we've been served before - that's a good thing indeed, and we're very pleased with our results! 

    The Sea Bass was the star, it 'cooked' up just right.  We didn't notice any difference between the Bay and Sea Scallops so next time we'll just get the Bay because then we don't need to do any cutting up (and they're a little bit cheaper...).  The Squid was different.  At first not so good different because it was a lot firmer than the Bass and Scallops, but when we thought about it a bit harder we actually decided we liked the contrast in texture.  So, in the end, good different.

    We have no idea why we were not brave enough to try a Ceviche before.  It was easy and tasty and we've seen it at least a hundred times on Top Chef, Iron Chef and the likes!  It will be shown to friends very very soon (technically before you read this article...), proudly and confidently.

    Papas Rellenas

    This is a dish for an Alton Brown quote 'Your patience will be rewarded!'  There's a good bit of waiting around.  Mash up some potatoes, let them cool down.  Mix up a filling (we went meat), let it cool down.  Boil up a couple of eggs, let them cool down.  Then you get to put it all together - thanks great pictures!  It's hard to imagine what we would have come up with out pictures.

    We didn't feel the urge to change anything, although we did go light on the chili (for the same baby you met earlier in this article...).  And best of all, we didn't have to make any choices...

    Definitely hands on, and messy hands during the putting together part but practice does make perfect because the 2nd one was better looking than the 1st and the 4th much much better.

    Remember how we said to bring your thermometer and your common sense? Well, we need to change that to say bring a working thermometer and your common sense.  We did two batches and the second browned up a whole lot more a whole lot quicker.  We noticed a small gap in the mercury, but didn't really think much of it until we saw the difference in browning.  Turns out, big difference.  We have no idea what temperature we had the oil bubbling away at, but after all was done we boiled up some water and our (now in the trash) thermometer was convinced that water boils at about 160° (of the F scale!). Oops!  Common sense tells us not to leave the room anyway so if something really bad had have happened, we would have been there to see it...

    The same bottle of J. Christopher continued to keep us company and perhaps worked a little less well with this dish than the Ceviche , but only just and perhaps only because it had warmed up a little by this time.


    They kind of looked lonely on the plate, but it's not like you need any more food.  At first thought we kind of feel like it needed a sauce but when we turned our brains fully on we think there's no point as the sauce is already on the inside.

    We actually preferred the 'high risk' batch that we cooked up, so next time we'll use the correct temperature oil but leave them in a little longer.

    We had more filling that we needed for our potatoes so we saved it and served it up as part of our every-other-week-home-made-nachos.  Worked out really quite nicely, although making up a batch of the 'filling' just for our nachos is probably a bit much.  If we ever thought to serve up nachos to our friend, perhaps...

    We do know why we've never been brave enough to deep fried mashed potatoes - we're just not clever enough to think of something like that on our own.  We probably won't serve it up to friends as a complete dish because of the challenges of being sociable and having a pot of oil warming up in a different room but we will absolutely treat ourselves to this again.  The filling could turn up for friends, perhaps served with mashed potato rather than in?

    Recipes & Destructions Instructions



    2 Winners!  Thanks Kathlyn!

    Stay JOLLY!

    Kathlyn of Bake Like a Ninja was our Daring Cooks’ March 2011 hostess. Kathlyn challenges us to make two classic Peruvian dishes: Ceviche de Pescado from “Peruvian Cooking – Basic Recipes” by Annik Franco Barreau. And Papas Rellenas adapted from a home recipe by Kathlyn’s Spanish teacher, Mayra.

    Comments pre Blog Platform Change

    Lou responded:
    Well firstly I am so glad to hear that you like to follow the recipe. When given a new recipe, I, too, want to make it exactly as stated the first time. And usually for these challenges I don't have time to make multiple versions of the challenge. So, I have been feeling that my attempts have all been so very boring. Especially when compared with someone like Audax - ha ha.
    Secondly, interested to hear that the sea bass was your favourite. I didn't think there would be anything better than scallops for this recipe so I will need to try it with the sea bass. The ceviche is one I can try lots of versions of quite quickly with it being so quick and easy to prepare.
    And whoever of you is the "baby" - I am exactly the same and wish I had gone easier on the chilli!

    SaminaCooks responded:
    I love your write up. I agree, when I try new foods/recipes, I always follow instructions exactly. (Especially, when I don't know what it will taste like) Once I get a hang of the recipe, I mix it up.

    blepharisma responded:
    I know what you mean about frying up papas not being a great social activity, hahaha. My kitchen is integrated with my dining and living areas, so the smell alone would be a bit of a turn-off!!

    Great job!

    Audax Artifex responded:
    I love your postings for me a blog with no pictures seems to make my mind create mental images of your results. Wonderful that you liked both images so much. Yes I can understand for a totally new recipe you want definite instructions. Lovely work on this challenge.

    Cheers from Audax in Sydney Australia.

    Monday, February 14, 2011

    Cold Soba Salad & Tempura

    So, straight of the bat, we can say that this month's challenge was far less daunting, in terms of kitchen time, waiting around time and shopping time, than last month's!  Was it less rewarding?  Absolutely not.  Was it not quite as successful?  Yeah, a little bit.

    Soba Salad

    Having eaten Soba Noodles a couple of times, but never cooked them ourselves it seemed logical to give this a go.

    Nothing complicated here.  Perhaps the hardest part is deciding which vegetables (or even which non-vegetables) you want to include in your dish.  Seeing we had some seafood for our Tempura we stayed with just vegetables.

    We made both sauces and they came together in the time it took to cook the noodles.  We couldn't find dashi for the Mentsuyu but seeing a recipe was included to make our own that problem was easily solved.

    The cooking of the noodles was something very new.  Boil them up, then cool them down a bit, then boil them up again then cool...  We wonder who figured out that to be the best way to cook Soba Noodles?  It worked because we were very happy with the result and it wouldn't have been hard to just eat the noodles dipped in the sauces and skip the vegetables.


    Tasty!  We got the texture of the noodles right.  The sauces worked well with the noodles and vegetables - we're not sure if that's because we took the noodles to the sauce rather than bringing the sauce to the noodles or just because they are two great sauces.


    Nothing really complicated here either.  Having oil bubbling away (happily?) on your stove might be a little frightening but you really don't need much more than common sense and a thermometer to keep everything (and everyone) safe.

    We went with some seafood and some vegetables and it's a good thing that the instructions mentioned blanching the 'tougher' vegetables because we probably wouldn't have thought to do that on our own.  A couple of times when we've ordered Tempura there has been a large leaf of some sort included.  We thought that might be fun, but as we have no idea what it's called we didn't know what to hunt for.  Anybody?

    The batter is a simple enough recipe, and it's not too awkward keeping it in a bowl of ice.  We thought it looked way thicker than the ones we've seen on Iron Chef but we went with it.

    We went with using chop sticks for the coating part and being only comfortable with them and not experts we struggled a little getting everything in the oil in a timely fashion.  It did keep our fingers mostly clean though!

    It's kind of annoying that you can't really put all that much in the pot at once.  It's fine cooking for ourselves in that we didn't mind cooking, eating, cooking, eating... but that doesn't work out quite as well if you are trying to impress your friends (or date?) and we really don't want to be doing that to ourselves all that often.


    We weren't enamored with the batter! Everything cooked through properly, everything tasted pretty good, but the batter part just wasn't right. Certainly nowhere near like the treats we just had and have had many times before. We ended up with things more at the Fish & Chips end of the scale than the Tempura end. Oh well!

    Our scallops were easily our favorite item with probably the sweet potato second.

    Recipes & Destructions Instructions



    The Soba Noodles was something brand new and we'll probably break it out again during the summer. 

    We recently had a go at a small batch of tempura shrimp as a filling from some Maki Rolls.  Although this effort forced us to think about more interesting things to Tempura we think we got a better result the first time around.  Perhaps it was beginner's luck, but we really think it was more to do with the batter.  We will try again, but we'll be more focused on the consistency of the batter before we turn to dipping things in it.

    We had a filling dinner and wouldn't hesitate to share the Soba Noodles with friends, but the Tempura we need a little bit more practice before serving to anyone but ourselves.

    Stay JOLLY!

    The February 2011 Daring Cooks’ challenge was hosted by Lisa of Blueberry Girl. She challenged Daring Cooks to make Hiyashi Soba and Tempura. She has various sources for her challenge including,, and

    Comments pre Blog Platform Change

    Audax Artifex responded:
    WOW I always love visiting your blog your words are always so inspiring.

    The leaves are called perilla or shiso leaves they are delicious. Sorry to hear about the tempura batter I didn't have a problem maybe try again. Great work on this challenge.

    Cheers from Audax in Sydney Australia.

    Mary responded:
    I wasn't a huge fan of the batter either, and I thought the oil temperature wasn't hot enough. That said, I really enjoyed the soba, though I'll never make the noodles from scratch again! Scallops sound like a wonderful tempura item--wish I had thought of that!

    Shelley C responded:
    Great job on the challenge! Sorry that you didn't feel the batter worked all that well for you, but it sounds like you did an awesome job. I always enjoy reading your posts - I always feel I get a true sense of what the cooking experience was like!!

    Ruth H. responded:
    I love the way you presnt your posts - they are both informative and entertaining at the same time! I am sorry the tempura batter wasn't what you had hoped for, but Iam truly impressed with how everything came together for you!

    Renata responded:
    The big leaf is probably perilla, I used it for my tempura and it was the crunchiest of all, delicious!
    Love your idea of scallops for tempura, I wonder how delicious it was!

    Friday, January 14, 2011

    Hearty Winter Stew - The French Way

    How many days does that recipe say?  Seriously, how many?  We've certainly cooked over many days before, but that's because we have a whole bunch of dishes going on for one special event and not just one dish that needs that many days all to itself.  Is it a deal breaker?  Absolutely not!  Does it test the limit of our advance planning?  Yeah, pretty much!

    Shortly after learning of this challenge we were out at a local(ish) restaurant where we found their version of this challenge worth an exploration.  It was yummy and hearty and yummy!  The exploring only strengthed our interest in having a go at this ourselves - far out weighing our scheduling concerns.

    Ok, off we go...

    Duck Confit

    The first step is get the duck turned into duck confit.  Nothing complicated about the process.  We learned that one of our Moderately Convenient Specialty Grocery stores always has Duck and Duck Fat way back when we did our first challenge so had nothing to be stressed about rounding everything up.

    Day 1

    Our kind of kitchen day...  Locate product in fridge...  Unwrap product...  Salt product...  Cover product...  Return product to fridge...  Nothing to see here, move along...

    Day 2

    Back to the fridge...  Nothing complicated here.  Everything went along as expected, although we gave it a bit more than an hour looking for the ankle skin to have pulled away. You can definitely smell something cooking from about halfway through the process.

    Be very careful removing it from the oven - it sloshes.  Our small spill hit the open oven door and apart from a little bit of smoke no harm done, but it wouldn't have taken much more of a spill for one, two, three or even four feet to have been complaining quite loudly.  Please, be careful.

    Once the danger has passed, you get to enjoy the smells (mostly the rosemary) for another couple of hours before back to the fridge it goes.  Our place was quite warm this day so a more normal temperatured home might loose the smells sooner.


    It looked like the example pictures, both pre cooled and cooled.  We enjoyed the cooking smell throughout the house.  We did not have to visit the hospital.  Success, no doubt.  Catch is, we were preparing it as part of something grander so didn't get to taste at this stage.  Not the end of the world, but we were curious - hindsight says we should have done an extra leg for the chefs...

    Those fancy restaurants sure make it sound a whole lot more complicated than it really is.  We're glad we now have this technique in our back pockets!


    Turns out Pork Belly is only occasionally at one of our 'special requirement' food stores and Pork Rind only in a different one and only of the cooked crispy style.  A bit harder to round up the ingredients, but on the plus side we ventured to a Meat Market that was on our to-do list (we were told by a friend we should get to it) and as often the case with hindsight, we should have gone much sooner.  Perhaps it has even bumped our other stores down a bit on the list the next time we need a non-standard meat product (actually, if it was closer to home we'd probably go for all our meat products). In the 2 day kerfuffle of trying to find the Pork Products we forgot about everything else and needed an emergency run to the store once things had begun - oh well.

    Day 1

    Actually easier than Day 1 for the Confit and if you're not spanning your project over two weekends like us, could be done concurrently with Day 2 of the Confit.

    Beans in (big) bowl...  Water in bowl...  Nothing to see here, move along...

    Day 2

    This is where the fun begins.  WOW!  Did those beans 'grow'.  Actually, we thought they grew too much so ended up reducing the amount used by about a third - if we had have used all the beans recommended our pot wouldn't have had much room for anything else. 

    Due to our shopping deficiencies we didn't have an onion to cut into 4 so we used the last 10 or 12 pearl onions we had left over from something else.  It couldn't have hurt the dish, but it sure took a whole lot longer to peel them.  We also didn't have any parsley, but seeing we had rosemary left over from the Confit we thought it an inexact, but acceptable switch.  But otherwise, it's certainly is easy enough to get everything into the pot and get it bubbling away happily.  Were we supposed to remove the Skin (aka Rind) from the Pork Belly?  We didn't but kind of feel like we should have now that we've seen the finished product.

    We used up at least the two 30 minute blocks suggested to get the beans right but that's ok, because almost the second you get it up to a boil wonderful smells start to fill the kitchen and soon after the rest of the house.

    We thought we were clever by multi-tasking so got the sausages going prior to the beans being ready.  However, this came to a screeching halt seeing we had to wait for the Pork Rind before doing the onions. 

    Day 2¼

    Only applicable if you had kerfuffling issues...  Curse that you have to put your boots back on...  Back to the store...  Finish off your shopping list...  Get the boots off hopefully for the last time...

    Day 2½

    Now we've got Onions and the Pork Rind is ready...  Pork Belly & Pork Rind set aside, Herbs removed and disposed of (a little bit ineloquently because the rosemary leaves came off their stalks), liquid removed and put carefully to the side.  Easy & check, check, check.

    The Onion / Rind mixture cooks up easily enough and the blender did a smashing job.  Ours wasn't quite as dark as the pictures provided but we thought it tasted ok.

    To line?  Or not to line?  That is the question...  Our hosts weren't convinced regarding the lining of the pot and kind of left it open for discussion.  We had enough Rind (although not one big piece) and figured if it's good enough for Anthony Bourdain, it's certainly good enough for us.  We didn't have the pieces to hang over the edge like the pictures but we got a good cover on the bottom and perhaps the bottom 3rd of the sides.

    Stacking everything in the pot was easy enough.  We perhaps could have gone a little heavier on the Onion / Rind mixture and we're certainly glad we cut back on the beans because there's no way we could have gotten everything in our pot.  The recipe says to just barely cover everything with the previously saved cooking liquid and save some for later.  We barely covered everything with what we had, so had nothing to save for later.  It doesn't seem like we suffered for this 'quirk'.

    Yay!  There's some more of those wonderful smells coming from oven, through the kitchen and out into the rest of the house!

    Other than taking up a good portion of our fridge, we're not really sure why we couldn't just eat it today.  Again, if Anthony thinks it's a good idea, so do we...

    Day 3

    Back into the oven.

    This is where we may have gone a little off track.  Step 3 of Day 3 of the Recipe talks about breaking the crust.  Hmph!  We never saw a crust.  We also never ran low on the Cooking Liquid so didn't need to go hunting for that reserve we didn't have.  We did do all of Day 2 oven cooking with the lid on, so maybe that's where we messed up in terms of getting a crust?  We left the lid off for Day 3 hoping to see a crust develop, but alas...  We're a little curious as to how this difference may have affected the outcome of the dish.

    Best of all, we finally got to eat it!  We do believe our patience was rewarded!

    Day 6

    Enjoy leftovers!



    The house smelled wonderful (each time something was bubbling away)!  Unctuous seems the right word to use!  It doesn't need sides, filling you up just nicely.  There's lots going on and together make a great mix but you can still easily find each individual component's character and charm.

    We have no idea if the Rind on the bottom of the pot made everything better or not.  We're going to believe that it did!  But, we didn't have a big slab type piece so during serving we did have to work around it a bit - nothing to stress over, it is what it is.  We also picked off the Rind from the Pork Belly during eating because it seemed the right thing to do.

    The sauce thickened up some - not too much and not too little we think.

    We could have had friends over to share and been proud of our efforts and result.  We chose not to in the end, and are glad we didn't because we got to eat it twice - in the same week.  Not sure how long the leftovers might be good for, but the 3 days we waited did no harm.

    Tip:  Don't leave any left over onion / pork rind mixture in your blender / processor over night - yeah, yeah don't leave anything out overnight is a better tip...  It sets, kind of like a glue - fortunately closer to the kinder-garden paste end of the scale than the crazy glue end...

    Recipes & Destructions Instructions



    It's a commitment.  Not one we're sorry we made, but one we might struggle to make short of the need to impress a whole lot some friends.  The Confit on it's own has earned a place in the front of our recipe folder so for that we're thankful although we're not exactly sure how we'll make use of it just yet.

    To celebrate the momentous project called Cassoulet we called upon a Companion from the French way of life, our Château Rose Cantegrit. A pretty good pairing overall, which seemed the way it would work out since the Tasting Notes suggested Duck Confit.  Even if you don't have something French tucked away in your cellar (or pantry, or box under the stairs) we think it fair to suggest strongly that you find something red and bigger (within your own wine drinking preferences / limits / pleasures, of course) than average to enjoy with your Cassoulet.

    Stay JOLLY!

    Our January 2011 Challenge comes from Jenni of The Gingered Whisk and Lisa from Parsley, Sage, Desserts and Line Drives. They have challenged the Daring Cooks to learn how to make a confit and use it within the traditional French dish of Cassoulet. They have chosen a traditional recipe from Anthony Bourdain and Michael Ruhlman.

    Comments pre Blog Platform Change

    Barb responded:
    This sounds great! I didn't get a lot of a crust either as it cooked, hence my idea to add bread crumb topping for a bit of texture. I love the idea of the wine pairing - all I had on hand was white, which was good but it really did seem to be asking for a red.

    Lisa responded:
    LOVED reading your write up as always! So glad you guys took part, and most importantly...thrilled that you loved it (even not minding the pork Unctuous is the perfect word to describe the confit and cassoulet, wish I had thought of that.

    Audax Artifex responded:
    WOW I always love visiting your blog it is always so interesting and unique (no pictures) your writing style really makes the process come to life. Wonderful that you liked it so much and yes confit is a keeper it is simple and produces a stunning result.

    Cheers from Audax in Sydney Australia.

    Shelley C responded:
    I love reading your write ups! I think I like days 2 1/4 and 6 the best on this one. :) Really great job on the challenge - sounds FANTASTIC! :)

    Evelyne@CheapEthnicEatz responded:
    Poor you for all those extra grocery runs...but worth it in the end. I bet it as great 3 days later as a left over and the wine sounds delish!

    blepharisma responded:
    You made the process sound like an adventure! hahaha... I think I did the same with the beans - didn't feel like it needed the amount in the recipe, so I used less. I think it was better for it, too. Didn't want all the nice broth to disappear!

    Lou responded:
    Ha ha - I love the humour in your writing! Well done.

    Mary responded:
    What an adventure! It all sounds so delicious that I'm convinced I need to do a full-on meaty version. But not today.

    Sarah responded:
    I feel like I was there with you when you made it...! I bet I would have a 2 3/4 update as well given my track record. Great work! My favorite phrase very well may be "Moderately Convenient Specialty Grocery stores."

    Oggi responded:
    I love your sense of humor and enjoyed reading your cassoulet adventure.:)

    Suz responded:
    This was such a great read (as always) and your cassoulet sounds like a real success. Yum!

    Monkeyshines responded:
    Love the tale of the multi-day cassoulet! It really is worth the time. A great place to experiment - no recipe for cassoulet should be followed exactly either :-)

    Pia (Taga_luto) responded:
    Hi, David and Stacy! Kudos to your blog style. who needs pictures when we we are living vicariously by reading your blog=;) I too loved, the smell as i was frying the meats and as it was cooking away.

    Kitchen Butterfly responded:
    I loved the summary of the cassoulet. It was a dish that suprised me to no end. I love ...we didn't have an onion. Glad I have found companions!