Friday, January 30, 2009

My Little Escape


I only get 30 minutes for lunch so I try to make that time as nice as possible. It normally never works out that way, as I am working and eating at the same time. There are many days I wish people would just understand that the person answering their technical questions has the right to eat and go to the bathroom even though they might not think so. You may not believe it but I have had people tell me that before. That their only being able to print to 5 printers instead of 6 was more important than basically anything I could possibly have to do. Honestly I could tell you some good stories but that could take days! Gotta love the service industry. So to keep myself sane and not wanting to just hang up on people as soon as they are rude. I try to make myself interesting lunches so that I have something to look forward to. When I made the Pear Almond Tarts I had a sheet of Puff Pastry left over and thought it would be nice to have a tart for lunch. I had just finished watching my DVR'd shows and one of them was of course Barefoot Contessa. She made a tomato tart and it looked really good but I didn't like all of the components. So I made up my own I think I could have eaten 10 of them they were so good. Sometimes the simplest things bring the most pleasure.
BLT Tart

1 sheet of thawed puff pastry, cut into 4 squares
4 campari tomatoes, thinly sliced or 2 Roma tomatoes
1/3 cup of blue cheese crumbles
3 strips of bacon, cooked til crisp and chopped into bits
2 tablespoons of chopped chives

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. On a parchment lined baking sheet place the 4 squares and cut a shallow border all the way around the square about 1/4 of inch from the edge. Place 3 or 4 tomato slices inside that border and sprinkle with blue cheese. Bake for 15 minutes and then while they are still warm top with bacon and chives and enjoy.

Monday, January 26, 2009

A Foodie Through and Through

Do you ever have those moments where you have infinite clarity? Where you feel right with the world and you know your place. I had one of those this weekend at Costco of all places. I met up with my mom on Saturday to check out the new Costco in our area. I needed some supplies for our upcoming Super Bowl party and my mom just likes to go to Costco or any grocery store for that matter. Apple doesn't fall far from the tree people. So we take our over sized cart, I'm convinced that this makes you buy more, and we start trolling the aisles. We look at the baked goods, I resist buying some warm out of the oven bread, my mom does not. And we move onto the fresh veggies and fruit section, once in the cooler case I had my moment. Across the whole case I saw them, 4lbs of Seckel Pears for only 4.99. I ran across the cooler case saying "Oh my god Seckel Pears" with my mom hot on my heels saying and they are only 4.99. And I'm not kidding with the running part, I told my husband about it later and he said he was glad he wasn't with me. So I promptly picked up the pears and put them in the cart, smiling from ear to ear.

That was my moment where I knew that food is basically my life. Not that I didn't know it before but it was very clear then that food rules my life. Because this is the fact and because I grew up in a house where food was very important, as you can tell by my mother running with me to the pears. I have a hard time understanding why other people aren't like me, they don't run to Seckel Pears or know what a good cheese plate is and they don't care. So now that I have my role in life as a Foodie I feel it is part of my job to educate people on food or what good food is. Because life with out good food is hardly life at all.

Pear Almond Tart - Probably the easiest tart ever

6-8 Seckel Pears, sliced thin
4 tablespoons of almond pastry filling
1 sheet of puff pastry, thawed

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut puff pastry into 4 squares and make a shallow incision all the way around about 1/4 inch away from the edge. Spread 1 tablespoon of almond filling inside the incision and place sliced pears in what ever pattern you choose on top of the filling. Place on a parchment paper lined baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes. Serve warm and try not to eat all of them.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

New Years Resolutions......Do they really work

New Years Resolutions everyone makes them and most people break them. You hear about them non stop before the new year starts then the fade into the background. This year I made one that I think I can actually keep, or well mostly keep. I decided I wanted to eat healthier not healthy but healthier. Because lets face it I have a food blog that is mainly devoted to baking and the stuff I bake certainly would not be considered health food. And I'm not one of those people who does really well when people tell you you can't do something. So restrictive diets don't work for me. So we are going to work with the everything in moderation, because tell me if you made Smores Bread Pudding you could restrain yourself and not eat any and just take pictures. That wouldn't make a very good food blogger. So in an effort to eat healthier I decided I should probably start eating breakfast, or well a more substantial breakfast because half a cereal bar and some water just wasn't cutting it. So I came up with this Baked Oatmeal breakfast, it might not be perfect in the health department but its a step in the right direction. Its basically a vehicle for the fruit and something to fill me up and keep me that way for a while. I have been making this on Sundays and portioning it out for the week so its less work in the morning as well. Well I hope I can keep up this New Years Resolution and I hope you can keep yours as well.


Baked Oatmeal

8 tablespoons of butter
1 1/2 cups of AP Flour
2 cups of Quick Cooking Oats
1 cup of sugar
2 teaspoons of baking powder
1/4 teaspoon of salt
2 1/2 teaspoons of cinnamon
2 teaspoons of vanilla
2 cups of buttermilk
4 cups of fruit of your choosing I used peaches and blackberries

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and place the butter in the bottom of a 9x13 pan. Place the pan in the oven for about 5 minutes or until the butter is melted. While the butter is melting combine the flour, oats, sugar, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon in a bowl. Once the dry ingredients are combined add in the buttermilk and vanilla and stir until combined. Dollop the batter all over butter in the bottom of the pan, do not mix together. Then nestle your fruit into the oatmeal trying to be as even as possible. Its a lot of fruit so it will get a little crowded but just look for an empty spot. Bake for 45 - 50 minutes or until the center of the dish is firm.


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Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Is it Summer yet?


I have had enough of this snow and enough of this cold weather. I should really think about moving to a warmer state. I remember as a child loving to go outside in the cold and snow and play for hours while my mother worried I would get frost bite even thought I was bundled up like Randy, Ralphie's brother in A Christmas Story. But now I don't even want to go walk to my car which is in the garage, or walk to my building at work which is probably on a bad day 20 ft. I don't know what happened between then and now but I can tell you one this I wish it was summer right now. So in honor of wishing the snow would melt and the temperature would rise to the 80's I am turning a summer time treat into a winter dessert! Smores scream summer to me, as you cook them outdoors over an open fire preferably with sticks that you found. But that is hard to to when the temperature isn't even rising above freezing. So I'll be thinking summer time thoughts as I eat a steamy bowl of this bread pudding. I hope you will join me in wishing this horrible winter away!

Smores Bread Pudding

1 cup of heavy cream
1 cup of half and half
1/2 of a 1lb loaf of dense white bread
10 oz of milk chocolate chips
6 egg yolks
1/2 cup of sugar
1 teaspoon of salt
2 teaspoons of vanilla
1 cup of mini marshmallows
1/3 cup of graham cracker crumbs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 3 1/2 quart baking dish with non stick spray Heat cream, half and half, vanilla until it comes to a boil then turn it down to a simmer, mix in 10 oz of milk chocolate and stir until combined and completely melted. Then set aside to cool. Chop the bread into 1 inch cubes and set aside in a large bowl. In a bowl mix the egg yolks, sugar, and salt together, add in the warm cream mixture and whisk to combine. Pour the custard mixture over the bread and stir to coat every piece and let it sit for 10 minutes. Then pour into the baking dish and top with marshmallows and then the graham cracker crumbs. Bake for 50-55 minutes or until the top is light golden brown and the custard is pretty much set.

I think next time I would use more marshmallows and put some on later as they disappeared into the bread pudding.


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Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Mini Goat Cheese and Caramelized Onion Empanadas

These past few weeks have kind of been a whirlwind. The weather has been unreal and I'm ready for the snow to stop. I feel like all I do is deal with snow. So I have been spending time inside playing with my wonderful Christmas present from my wonderful husband. A digital SLR camera, so be expecting hopefully better quality pictures. So while its really cold and snowy outside I am dreaming of warmer weather. So I made a batch of empanadas because they remind me of warm weather, parties outside and sangria. All of which sound much better that shoveling more snow. So I used some of my wonderful Chardonnay Salt from Lords of Salt. I normally enjoy these with wine so I figured why not use the Chardonnay salt. They tasted the best they ever have a fantastic hint of wine flavor, I didn't miss the glass of wine at all. Ok maybe I did a little.


Mini Goat Cheese and Caramelized Onion Empanadas

2 large onions
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 teaspoon of chardonnay salt
½ teaspoon of pepper
7 oz of goat cheese
4 refrigerated pie crusts, at room temperature
1 egg
1 teaspoon of water
2 tablespoons of chardonnay salt for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Peel and slice the onions in half and then make slices vertically down the halved onion to make petals. Cook the onions over low heat in a sauté pan with the olive oil, salt and pepper. Cook until caramelized, about 30 minutes. Pour the warm onions over the goat cheese and stir to combine. Unroll the pie crusts and cut out 3 inch rounds, reroll scraps one time to cut out more rounds. In the center of each round place a teaspoon of filling. Mix together the egg and water and brush the egg wash on the edges of the round and seal the edges. After they have been sealed crimp the edges with a fork to make sure they are closed. Sprinkle liberally with chardonnay salt. Place the empanadas about an inch apart on a parchment lined baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes until they are lightly golden. Serve warm.

The can also be made ahead and frozen before you bake them. Place the empanadas on parchment lined cookie sheet and freeze until they are firm and then store in freezer bags. They can be baked straight from the freezer just sprinkle with the salt and bake for a few minutes longer.
If you would like to get some Chardonnay Salt of your own it can be found HERE.

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Monday, January 12, 2009

Shameless Plug

I entered another contest and this one needs votes! So if you have any free time and would like to vote for me I would really appreciate it!

Click HERE to Vote!

My Drinks are the Twisted Kir and Keep the Doctor Away! But Please vote for the Keep the Doctor Away.

Thanks in advance and feel free to pass this on!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Waffling


I don't normally buy into fads now that I am an adult. Now when I was a kid totally different story. I had the slap bracelets, stirrup pants, hypercolor tshirts, just to name a few. Yea my future kids are in for some fun pictures of mom in her great 90's glory. But now that I'm the ripe old age of 26 I don't really go for all the fads. Sure I try to be fashionable emphasis on try, but the fads I'm talking about now are the ones about people. Everyone one has an excuse now for the way that they are. There is a disorder or disease for everything. People sue McDonalds for making them fat, teachers have to make special lesson plans because Tommy can't sit still because he learns better through movement, or is it because Mommy and Daddy won't tell him to sit down and if he moves he will be sorry like my parents did. These excuses did not happen when I was a kid. But as I sit here I do feel like I identify with one of the fads, The Quarter Life Crisis. But I don't know if it is appropriately named. Yes I am 26 and yes I am questioning my work, life, basically everything. But doesn't everyone do this at some point in their life. Doesn't everyone wonder or wish that they could do something else? How many people are doing what they love to do for work? I know my work is not what I love. But it gives me a very comfortable life that is the means to afford the things that I love. I go back and forth on this issue frequently, so my most recent pondering was this morning while making breakfast. What did I make? You guessed it waffles!


Cinnamon Waffles

2 1/2 cups of self rising flour
1 teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon of baking powder
7 tablespoons of sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons of cinnamon
2 eggs
1/2 cup of melted butter
2 cups of half and half
2 teaspoons of vanilla bean paste

In a bowl combine flour, salt, baking powder, sugar and cinnamon. In a separate bowl combine the eggs, milk, melted butter and vanilla bean paste. Combine the wet into the dry ingredients and pour onto a preheated waffle iron. Cook until your desired doneness, and serve with Real Maple Syrup.

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Friday, January 9, 2009

Contact

Email Me at Katie@saltandchocolate.com with any questions or comments. I check mail a few times a day and try to answer all emails as promptly as possible.

If you are looking for me to review your product or cook book please contact me at the above address with your information.

Catering Menu

Salt and Chocolate is now proud to offer Catering.

Menu Coming Soon!

About Salt and Chocolate

About Salt and Chocolate

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I grew up in the Midwest. Not exactly the most adventurous place in food back then, but my family loved food and the culture behind it. I learned to cook before I could reach the counter. I ate my chicken fingers with hollandaise sauce and I made my first batch of puff pastry at 16, and I have been hooked on food ever since. I toyed around with the idea of culinary school but ultimately went to college and got a degree in technology. But my love for food has never wained. So this blog chronicles my love of food particularly anything baked!

Email Me at Katie@saltandchocolate.com with any questions or comments. I check mail a few times a day and try to answer all emails as promptly as possible.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Awards

TESTING