Kitchen Rally

I had a pro-longed hiatus from my kitchen and I returned with a vengeance!  When I was younger, I used to make weekly menus so that I could hit the grocery store with my list of meals, ready to buy ingredients to make my life easier.  As I’ve gotten older, my schedule got so full that it was a rarity that I was even home to eat dinner.  So goes the ebb and flow of my dining habits.

This past week, I made a concerted effort to skip out on scheduling evening events so that I could re-acquaint myself with my kitchen.  Please allow me to introduce you to some of my cooking!

I was invited to a neighbor’s pre-holiday cocktail happy hour on their roof deck so as part of my host/hostess gift, I brought up my version of Queso Fundido.  Did you know that fundido means “molten” so basically it’s melted cheese.  Honestly, I had a quick wiki session to learn that myself 🙂

Really, who doesn’t like melted cheese?

Making the roux/base for the cheese sauce

Charring/roasting the poblano peppers

The cheese mixture after it was incorporated w the base

The final version

Here’s the recipe from Kelsey’s Essentials:

http://www.cookingchanneltv.com/recipes/kelsey-nixon/queso-fundido-with-charred-poblanos-and-sides-recipe/index.html

When cooking, I don’t always use exactly the same ingredients so when it came to the cheeses, I used my own selection of cheeses (monterey, colby etc) so feel free to mix it up.  Again, we doesn’t like melted cheese?!

I don’t think of myself as a baker.  I like cooking because there’s a level of flexibility in cooking that allows for mistakes.  A pinch here.  A pinch there.  Add a little of this.  Add a little of that.  Baking – yeah, not so much.  For me, baking is chemistry.  So much can affect your baking: altitude, humidity, measurement vs weight etc…you get the picture.

I can bake an occasional cake and I’ve even tried doing my own baguettes (throwing water into an oven is so very sexy to hear the sizzle!) so whenever I get the urge to bake something…it better come out more than just OK for the work that needs to go into it.

I love apple tarte tatins.  One of my favorites is at Bistro Bis at the Hotel George.  I do events there for work and if I can order dessert for the event, I’m going to order the tarte tatin, regardless of what the client likes because I know that people won’t be able to finish it and I can take the leftovers 🙂  My one abuse of “power”.

I was planning on going to a 4th of July holiday party and wanted to bring a dessert.  I decided on making the apple tarte.  It wasn’t exactly apple pie aka americana but hey, there was….apple!!  President Washington would have been fine with it – wait, that was a cherry tree – oh, never mind!

Slicing up those Granny Smiths

My friend, pre-made puff pastry on silpat 

Prepping the apples with sugar

Out of the oven

To make the glaze

Finished product of a 2nd tarte

Here’s the recipe from Ina Garten:

http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ina-garten/apple-tarts-recipe/index.html

If you look at the recipe, Ina (bless her heart!) makes her own pastry dough.  I opted for the easy method of going to Safeway and purchasing it frozen and letting it thaw out.  By all means, give Ina’s way a go!  I also chose to use orange marmalade and grand marnier instead of the apricot jelly/jam and calvados because I had those other ingredients handy.  OK, I decided to rebel on the things that weren’t going to affect the actual baking process.

If you try out these recipes, let me know how it goes and send me pictures!

Cheers!

MXM

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