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The Mavens Monthly Cooking Club

The Mavens Monthly Cooking Club

Fresh spices make food nicest~

We are scheduling our second official Mavens Monthly Cooking Club.

Last month we made home made pierogies and home made pasta dough.

Everything turned out num-nums! :)

What the menu is shaping up to be is a round the world culinary “bite”. The menu so far (subject to change with input from the other Mavens) is:

Beef Fajitas (this will either be a fresh/refrigerator dish or crock pot)

Chicken Stir-Fry (fresh/refrigerator dish)

Marinated or rubbed Salmon Filet

Cannelloni’s-Ricotta, spinach & ground chicken or turkey)- we make our own pasta dough for this and our noodles.

Mary’s Famous Pot Pies-this is a bottom crusted pot pie with panko crumbs on top-that approach cuts down on calories we also add chicken with lots of veggies. Drizzle some butter or olive oil on top and voila!

Sheppard’s Pie-Vegetables, ground beef and a mushroom gravy topped with fresh mashed potatoes.

Chicken Poppers

Daubes of Beef Roast

Pork Tenderloin Paprikash

Pork Scallopini

Cheesy Chicken Bundles

Chicken Parmesan

Apricot Glazed Chicken

Baked Broccoli Medley

Hash Brown Casserole

Roasted Cauliflower

California Quiche

We will also be making assorted blanched veggies and sides.

Recipes and shopping lists will be available and sent out via email.

Please feel free to post pictures.  We hope to share our photos here from cook day.

For those of you who are interested in forming a club, please feel free to email me.  We are in the Charleston Area, however, I am available for consultation on how to set up your club and will help with menu planning, shopping tips, and shopping lists.

I have had many inquiries into this process and I am always happy to share the positives of the practice with people. Here are just a few:

Home made food, with ingredients that you have chosen yourself. You know exactly what is in what you are feeding your family.

Time savings-We all have had a lessening of quality of life because we are all just so doggone busy. This is a way to make better use of your limited time resource.

Dinner with the family as often as possible with as little preparation time as possible. We have crock pot dinners, ready made to heat and serve dinners, all the convenience of carry-out with none of the negatives.

Money savings-we use organic meats and still save money by making our meals in bulk and with the help of friends and neighbors.

Social time with friends. We make meal preparation easy and fun!

Please contact me for more information.

The Chef.

 

Freezer Meal Cooking

I had the BEST time today, we cooked for a month for my son and his wife. It really works! More next month as we hone our system. we made five sauces, including Cheese, Alfredo, Mushroom and Marsala. Several kinds of meatballs and quinoa among other things.

One tip: we used leftover pancakes from breakfast for meatballs in place of breadcrumbs. It worked beautifully!

The Chef

Buche de Noel

My version o Bucher de Noel with Nut Meringue Mushrooms & Caramel mascarpone Cream filing

My version of Buche de Noel with Nut Meringue Mushrooms & Caramel mascarpone Cream filing

This is my version of Buche de Noel.  I had thought I would use a Swiss Buttercream filing, however, I wanted something simpler for the filling. The Caramel Mascarpone Cream filing, fit the bill… here is how I did it.

Caramel Mascarpone Cream filling

16 oz. Mascarpone cheese -see notes below.

1/2 cup heavy cream

1/4 cup sugar

1 tap. vanilla

1/2 cup Dulce de Leche-canned

In a saucepan, add the cream and sugar over medium low heat and whisk constantly until the sugar dissolves. Set aside to cool to room temperature. When it’s cooled add the dulce de leche, whisk until completely incorporated and smooth.  In a medium bowl add the 16 oz. of Mascarpone cheese. Mix until completely incorporated. Refrigerate until cake is baked and cooled.

Ganache Glace

6 oz of the finest chocolate you can afford-chopped to chocolate chip size pieces(see notes below)

3/4 cup whipping cream

In a microwave safe dish, put the chopped chocolate, and whipping cream, process on power level 3 for about 3 minutes, remove after 2 minutes and start to stir, stir until the chocolate is melted, you may need to put back into the microwave for the last 30 seconds to 1 minute. Make sure you pay close attention to this process because the chocolate CAN and WILL scorch and be ruined if you don’t pay exquisite attention to it. Treat it gently and you will be rewarded with perfect ganache! Set the ganache aside.

Chocolate Sponge Cake

Have all the ingredients measured and assembled before you start- mise en place.

1/4 cup cornstarch

1/4 cup AP flour (AP= all-purpose)

1/4 unsweetened cocoa powder (see note below) plus some extra for sprinkling on the towel for rolling the cake.

5 egg yolks

1 tsp vanilla

5 egg whites

1/2 tsp. salt

1/3 cup granulated sugar

1/8 tsp. Cream of tartar

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Grease jelly-roll pan & line it with parchment. Spray the parchment with cooking spray and lightly sift cocoa powder. Set aside.

Sift the cornstarch, AP flour and cocoa together onto a large piece of parchment.

Put the egg yolks into a medium size bowl with the vanilla and half of the sugar.  with a hand mixer beat on high speed until ribbons form when you lift the beaters our of the bowl.  Set aside.

Clean the beaters with very hot water and soap, dry them very well. Any impurities or grease will keep your egg whites from beating up to a stiff peak stage.

In a clean bowl place your egg whites, salt & cream of tartar, and with the hand mixer  and clean beaters begin to whip the egg whites. When the egg whites are foamy, begin adding the remaining sugar a little at a time until it is fully incorporated.  Whip the egg whites until glossy & form stiff peaks… do not over beat.

Add a spoonful of whipped egg whites into the whipped egg yolks to lighten them add the rest of the whipped egg whites and gently fold them together so as not to deflate the egg whites. Fold whipped egg whites and yolks together just until no streaks of egg whites are showing.

Sift the flour, cornstarch and cocoa powder over the whipped egg white/egg yolk mixture. Continue gently folding just until no egg white or flour streaks are visible.

Spread batter evenly in the prepared pan.

Bake for 10-12 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

While the cake is baking, dust a clean kitchen towel  generously with unsweetened cocoa powder.  When the cake is done, remove from the oven and immediately turn the cake out onto the prepared towel. Peel the parchment off and roll the cake and towel together starting from the long side. Let it cool completely rolled in the towel.

When it is completely cooled unroll the cake and spread the caramel Mascarpone cheese cream evenly.  Re-roll the cake carefully and place on a serving platter.

Spread ganache over the rolled cake. I re-glazed my cake several times refrigerating it in between. Decorate with meringue mushrooms if desired. You can also decorate with chopped nuts. Refrigerate until serving time.

Adapted from The Fannie Farmer Baking Book by Marion Cunningham

NOTES:

Ganache:

For chocolate I bought Ghirardelli chocolate chips at Costco. I would also suggest getting the Mascarpone cheese there too, its much cheaper.

Sponge cake:

To roll filled cake leave it on the towel when filling and use the towel to assist in rolling the cake after its filled.

Cocoa powder I used Ghirardelli cocoa powder which I bought at World Market.

I would also suggest going to amazon.com for hard to find ingredients.

This would be delish with peanut butter buttercream. I suggest using a trusted site for a Swiss Meringue Buttercream recipe and adding  about 1/4 cup smooth peanut butter to that at the end and mix until well blended. I like the texture of the Swiss Meringue Buttercream, I think it would create a superb filling!

Another idea is a cooked Mock Whipping Cream recipe as a filling:

MOCK WHIPPED CREAM FROSTING

1 c. milk
6 tbsp. flour
1 c. confectioners sugar or super fine granulated sugar
1 c. butter
1 tsp. vanilla
Whisk milk & flour first in small saucepan. Cook over medium heat until thick, stirring constantly. Cool completely and set aside.Mix sugar, butter, and vanilla together with electric mixer until fluffy. Add flour mixture a spoon at a time and beat until smooth and fluffy.
ENJOY!

 

Almost perfect Cinnamon Rolls has me sayin OMG-in-SC

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I had to take a little “bunny-trail” trip this afternoon after work.  I am a notorious sucker for bakeries…any kind of bakery, the more ethnic the better I like it…but that is another post for another day.

Well, on my bunny-trail-trip this afternoon I had to go to pick up a prescription at “Old Town” Mount Pleasant SC.  I had never been there before, in fact, didn’t even know a place called “old town” existed in Mt Pleasant, SC.

It was adorable, quaint with narrow streets, funky parking though and the narrow streets are such that only one vehicle at a time can get through and the parking is not parallel, but horizontal, facing the opposite way from where I was coming. So I made my own parking place, swept out of my car and walked with confidence and purpose down the street to my appointed destination; hoping against hope that I didn’t have a “quaint” parking ticket waiting for me when I returned.  I wish I had had a little more time to explore this short but intriguing street. It looked like it had been plucked out of a 40’s era picture show, in fact I was sure I was gonna see Sheriff Andy and Opie walking down the street with their fishin poles!

However, one had to look past the modern cars parked vertically on the street…well by now you’re reading this going, um…where do the cinnamon rolls come in…please be patient whilst I “set the stage” for their illustrious appearance!

So I walked into this pharmacy named Pitt Pharmacy, and I was literally transformed back in time to an old soda fountain lunch counter, with old wooden floor, old fashion shelves, the whole works and it was fabulous!  I walked up to the counter, the owner/pharmacists must have seen my impatience playing across my face and my body language SCREAMED I’M IN S HURRY…side bar: This is in retrospect, but I wish I had just gone with the moment, lived that minute in time to its fullest…end side bar…

The Pharmacist came out from the counter and brought me my cream concoction & patiently and kindly with a smile explained what it was, how to use it and said, “you have a wonderful evening.” I paid for my purchase and hurried out the doo afraid of what I would find when I returned to my wonky-parked car…however, a BAKERY had caught my eye on the way to the pharmacy, and so  I stopped…it was again, old fashion looking with very high counters and a case full of yummies…I chose the cinnamon rolls…two of them piled high with creamy dreamy frosting.  The person who waited on me at “The Village Bakery” was pleasant and very helpful. I told him that the rolls looked so good that they might not make it to breakfast the next morning.

When I got home, I took them out of their box and placed them on a plate to take a picture of them, see above.  I took a taste of the frosting, it tastes like cream cheese French butter cream…it is divine w/o being too sweet.

The cost for two huge cinnamon rolls at The Village Bakery? $4.42. I have paid that much for one at other bakeries. Please if you are in the neighborhood stop in at the Village Bakery

Cupcakes Ideas for the winter!

Winter Cupcakes

Winter Cupcakes

Here is another GREAT secret for cupcakes…forget buttercream made with confectioners sugar & butter…use ganache. It’s easy peasy and super delicious. Use great chocolate (the best you can afford of course) I use Ghirardelli or Kirkland brand (Costco) chocolate chips. One caution, I love dark chocolate, however, do not use a chocolate that has more than about 55% cocoa fat, it will not make a good ganache.

Ganache uses 3 ingredients, butter, chocolate and cream, you can use half and half in a pinch but it will not yield the creamy melt-in-your-mouth unctuous deliciousness.

I use about 8 oz of chocolate to 4 oz of cream and 2 tbsp of butter. Put it in a microwave safe dish and heat it up on level 3 for about 3 minutes, you just want the cream to gently melt the chocolate. If you are using block chocolate, shave or grate it into the microwave safe pan, the smaller the pieces of chocolate the better…it is SO easy to burn, do not overheat it or use too high of a power level.

Take the mixture carefully out of the microwave so as not to slosh it on yourself (yes I have), and mix it until all the cream is incorporated. Let it cool to room temp and at this point it can be a filling for your cupcakes, or you can whip it and use it for frosting OR you can just pipe it onto your cupcakes.

An additional secret is that you can freeze cake batter. defrost it just until you can scoop it into your cupcake papers and bake at 350 degrees until they spring back to the touch.

For an even better touch when you are filling the cupcakes papers with batter, take some of the Philadelphia chocolate cream cheese and put a dollop (about a teaspoon) of the Philly chocolate cream cheese on the top of each cupcake, it will end up in the center and give you a delicious creamy filling.

Want to spice it up? Use roasted cinnamon to taste in the batter (remember too much cinnamon is NEVER a good thing) Another great idea is to get some chocolate with chili peppers or chipotle and grate that on top of the cupcakes before you bake them, mix some into the batter OR grate it on top of your ganache topped cupcakes.

Want to make a statement with your flavor combinations? Try Pumpkin and chocolate.

Try different flavor combos like chocolate and bacon, bacon and pumpkin…use your imagination and get bakin!

Fresh Seafood

What a joy to live in a place where fresh seafood is not only available year-round  but delicious. The best kept secret in these parts? Mahi & Grouper cheeks. Just as flavorful and delicious as filets of the grand fish, but much more economical…

Why are all the Tasty Foods Carbs?

I LOVE carbs…all kinds of carbs. I subscribe to a blog called “Plain Chicken“. Funny story goes with the blog, go  check it out…anyhoo, she has a recipe for one of MY favorite ultimate junk fast food, she calls them “biscuit beignets” I call them FABULOUS…what are they ? Full-fledged, high-octane, balls to walls, FRIED CARBS. (seriously does it get any better than fried anything? Can ya say with me…fried candy bars! :) uh yeahya). All I know is if I were to actually make and eat them…it would be bal-oe-tt (bloat) city. Would it be ooo-that’s good? yes for about a grand total of 15 seconds…then all hell would break loose…so I am going to develop a gluten-free (still) carby way to imbibe those lovelies…(hey nobody’s perfect) when I have it all ready to go, I will post it here first…

For now…remember chebe bread…(go there order the mix, its easier then foraging for the ingredients unless of course you live in Brazil :0) they are lovely little cheesy puffs that are already gluten-free and delisioso…they have a cinnamon chebe that is to die for…chebe bread is made with manioc-

Manioc is a sub-tropical plant with a tuber-type root. The root is what is processed for the many food products that are derived from this plant. Manioc is also known as cassava, yucca, and tapioca. Yes, tapioca pudding comes from the manioc root!

Chebe bread is a Brazilian comfort food, a former client’s husband was a Dr. originally from Brazil and he loved the things, when  she found out I made them, she begged me to make them for her, which I happily did. They are also very amenable to freezing (unbaked), then you just pop em into the oven frozen and voila bada boom bada bing…chebe…

The Chef