Archive for January, 2009

Food Friday: MMMMMuffuletta

January 30, 2009

Back in our freewheeling days Mr. Slippers and I spent many lost weekends in New Orleans.  I’m grateful, because it will probably be a long time before we can get back.  Our vacations now are mostly road trips with fast food and  The Wonderpets on repeat play on the portable DVD player.  On just such a road trip through Williams, CA last month we visited the newly remodeled Granzella’s.  If you like olives, you really must go there. They KNOW olives.  The intrepid Mr. Slippers, a huge olive fan, found this amongst the many delicacies on Granzella’s shelves, and waxed nostalgic for NOLA.

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So, we bought it.  And in honor of the superbowl foodfest this weekend, I made a muffuletta  for Mr. Slippers.

I wouldn’t *exactly* call this a recipe, but if you can get your hands on a good jar of muffuletta olive mix, you can make one too.

First, get a round loaf of soft Italian bread.  If, like me, you live in an area where this is not easy to find, make one.  I used a Nigella Lawson recipe for soft white dinner rolls (from her book FEAST) and formed all of the dough into one big, round loaf.

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Slice the loaf in half, horizontally so that you have two discs of bread.  Then take a large spoon and hollow out a wide, shallow cavity in each disc.

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Then drizzle some olive oil all over those discs, follow that up with a few splashes of juice from the olive mix.  Next  fill the hollowed out areas with generous amounts of olive mix.

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On The disc that was the bottom of your loaf of bread, begin to layer hard salami, deli ham, thin sliced mortadella (or if like me, you can’t find mortadella in your town some uncured bologna), and provolone cheese.  Here’s how I started.

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When your meat and cheese is all layered up,  gently put your sandwich together, being careful not to spill the olive mix.  When it’s assembled, press down on the top of the loaf, you want it to soak up that olive mix.  Now you’re ready to slice and serve this bad boy.

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Nothing beats a *real*  New Orleans muffuletta , but this sure does scratch the itch.

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New In The Shop

January 26, 2009

Feeling chilly?  This will warm you up nicely.

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Food Friday: Beer Rocks

January 23, 2009

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Last Saturday Mr. Slippers and a friend of his trekked to the Brewers Union Local 180 for some fresh Ale. I stayed home with the bunnies and was given the charge of making some hearty snacks for the mister and I to enjoy when he returned, with a growler full of ale! After much deliberation, and re-reading of my beloved copy of Bruce Aidell’s Real Beer and Good Eats (someday I will tell you the story of how I obtained my signed copy and how my mom was able to give Mr. A some tips on making blood sausage),  I settled on beer rocks.

Beer rocks are kind of like an anglo version of chinese pork buns. Made with a yeasted potato flour and stuffed with sausage, cabbage and onions, they are VERY, VERY good. They take some work, but truly, when you are blessed with a growler full of outstanding, fresh ale, the work is completely worth it.

Bunnyslippers’ Beer Rocks

adapted from Bruce Aidells

Filling

1 Tbsp Olive Oil

8 oz Pork Sausage, removed form casings

2 cups shredded Red Cabbage

1 medium Onion, thinly sliced

1 Tbsp Balsalmic Vinegar

Salt and Pepper to taste

Dough

3½ – 4 cups Flour

¼ cup Sugar

1 Tbsp (or 1 pkg)active dry Yeast

1/3 cup softened Butter

1 Potato boiled until soft and mashed with a fork

1-2 cups hot Water reserved from cooking the potato

1 Egg

1 Tbsp cold Water

To make the filling: Heat oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Break sausage into small pieces and add to pan. Brown sausage and remove to a bowl. Add onion and cabbage to pan and saute until soft, approximately 5 minutes, reduce heat to low. Add reserved sausage to pan then drizzle vinegar over the mixture. Season with salt and pepper to taste, remove from heat and allow to cool while you prepare dough.

To Make the Dough: In a large bowl (the bowl of your standing mixer, if you have one), combine 3 1/3 cups flour, sugar, yeast, butter and potato. While mixing add enough water to make a moist, elastic dough. Turn dough onto a floured board (or use your mixer) and knead until smooth (1-5 minutes). Cover dough with plastic wrap and place in a warm, dark place to rise for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Punch down the dough and form into 12 small balls. Flatten each ball to about ½ inch thick and 2-3 inches in diameter. Place a generous scoop of filling in the center of the dough and bring all edges together to form a baseball shaped “rock”. Place rocks on a cookie sheet to rest. Whisk egg and water together and brush over the tops of the rocks. Bake rocks for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. Best served warm or at room temperature, alongside a cold one. Should you have any leftovers, the rocks freeze well.

SackBoy!

January 21, 2009

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You  down with LBP?

This cute pic caused a bit of commotion on Twitter tonight.. fun for me!  I made him last year right before Little Big Planet  came out.  My bunnies loved him as much as Mr. Slippers loved the game.  Consequently he only had one eye for quite some time.  Today I was able to hang my toy optometrist shingle up, and shared him with my Tweets.

I know I am STILL  working on the woof pattern, I promise it’s almost ready.  But I need to know… should I write up some SackBoy instructions for y’all?  This will be a freebie…. lemme know.

A Really Nice Day

January 19, 2009

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This whale is wearing a ball gown.  She’s feeling fanciful.  It’s that kind of day, you know?

The bunnies and I did it right today.  Everyone slept in (which is pretty amazing around here).  It was a brilliant morning, bright sunshine and a frozen landscape.  After a nice breakfast together we packed up a bag of old coats and sweatshirts to donate to a “warming” drive.  I wanted to take part in the National Day of Service, and have the bunnies experience it too.   We had a nice discussion as we dropped them off, then made our way to a park near the donation center.  It’s been quite some time since we’ve been to that park.  It’s really big with structures set up in ways that make it hard to keep an eye on two active little ones.  I normally wouldn’t take the bunnies there without another grown up to help supervise.  Now that my baby bunny is closer to three than two, and able to follow directions, it’s so much easier, and so much more fun! We’re also testing the waters of naplessness.  Naptime hasn’t ended for us (thank goodness!) but there are days when we skip it.  Really nice days like today, when we are all playing nicely in the winter sun, running, eating our picnic lunch, sliding, singing and spending several happy hours together.

Food Friday: Naan

January 16, 2009

I grew up in a very small mountain town.  For many years our nearest grocery store was a 45 minute drive from our house.  My dad was a disabled vet and we still had base privileges.  So rather than trek 45 minutes to the gorcery store every week, we’d drive 1-2 hrs to go to the nearest comissary once a month.  It was the 70’s and fresh produce wasn’t a priority, everyone ate frozen vegetables.  And we were lucky enough to have a chest freezer.

My parents, who moved us to this tiny town from the San Francisco Bay area,  were thrilled to leave many aspects of city life behind them.  But they definitely missed the restaurants.  They were foodies before the term was coined.  And in the 70’s DIY spirit, what they couldn’t purchase at good restaurants, they tried to make themselves.  My mom kept copies of their  successful recipes in a big binder.  Sometime after word processors came on the scene, I typed up all of her recipes and made copies for myself, mom and my sister.

This is one of my favorite recipes from that book.  Even though the town I live in has an Indian restaurant or two, I hardly ever eat out.  And while I have served this alongside TastyBites from Trader Joes, where I know I can buy packaged Naan, there is really nothing like this stuff  hot out of the oven, glazed with butter, mmmm.  Go low tech with Tasty Bites, make your own curry, or get all DIY on it and make some saag paneer (I have tried them all), this will go great alongside, I promise.

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Bunnyslipper’s Naan

3Cups Flour

2 tsp. Baking Powder

1/2 Cup Milk

1 Egg

1/2 tsp Salt

1/2 tsp Sugar

1 1/2 tsp Oil

1-2 Cups Water

2-3 Tbsp Melted Butter

Combine flour and baking powder.  In another bowl mix milk, egg, salt, sugar and 1 cup water, stir well.  Combine wet and dry ingredients, knead well until dough becomes elastic, adding extra water if necessary.  Dough shoud be smooth and pliant.  Drizzle oil on top of dough and knead for a few more minutes.  Preheat your oven’s boriler at this point.  Form the dough into 10 small balls and cover them with a damp cloth.  Pat each ball into a circle, roll smooth, with a rolling pin, into a 7 inch circle, then stretch into a teardrop shape with your hands.  Broil one or two naan at a time on a cookie sheet for a few minutes on each side (watch them carefully so that they don’t burn!).  Brush cooked naan with melted butter and serve immediately.  Uncooked dough can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator, overnight… if you can resist it that long!

Shop’s Open Again!

January 13, 2009

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I just listed this pom pom garland.  Not knitted but dang cute, huh?  The bunnies are dying to keep this so I will have to make at least two more.  If there’s demand,  I can make a bunch.  I have some other fun things up my sleeve too,  so stay tuned.

Thank You Sun

January 12, 2009

The sun has been shining for the past two days.  This little reprieve in the midst of the long grey rain that starts around here in October and often ends in May, has done wonders for all of us.

We laid on a blanket in the backyard and ate our snack this afternoon.  There were no oak leaves shimmering in the sunlight, but the twiggy winter skyscape was still mesmerizing.  Crows flew by but did not stop at our bird feeders.  We each designed a race course then ran ourselves silly.  The water table was filled and icy water splashed with glee on the dry deck,  we  admired the  Pollock-esque water art before it disappeared.  So many moments that we all did our best to savor.

It will last a little longer,  Mr. Slippers  will get to ride his bike to work one day this week and break in the hand-knit earwarmers he received for Little Christmas (pictures to follow).  More picnics, races, and outside playing will ensue.  We will try to hold on to these moments when the raindrops return, right now though  it’s just so lovely.

Busy Mama’s Crusty Loaf of Bread

January 9, 2009

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Like so many others, I leapt with joy the first time I tried the New York Times recipe for no-knead bread. I was stunned at how easily I created a loaf of artisan bread (Acme bakery, you got nothin’ on this bunny, muahahahahaha!). Many, many loaves of no-knead bread have been devoured here at chez slippers. However, there have probably been just as many loaves that could have been, would have been willingly devoured if mama had only remembered to create her sponge the night before.

While I am pretty darned organized, I am also pretty busy, and I wouldn’t consider the post bedtime hours my peak of productivity, not by a long shot. So yeah, we missed out on a lot of crusty chewy bread goodness because “DANG I forgot to make the dough last night!” I think missing out only fed the bread lust around this joint. I have to admit, I got pretty used to being able to whip up a crusty loaf without shelling out $5 for it either. So one day, when we absolutely COULD NOT go without a loaf of bread at dinner, and when I really, really wanted the crusty, chewy, yummy, artisan approach I decided to improvise. I experimented with the dough recipe with a light, chewy loaf in mind, then applied the flour and covered steaming techniques from the NYT recipe. It took a few tries to create a nice crusty loaf that wasn’t burnt on the bottom or as dense as a day old cake donut. Eventually I was able to create a lovely light, crusty, basic bread. It lacks the air bubbles and chewiness of the no-knead bread. You DO have to knead it. But this is one mean loaf of bread, and sure hits the spot when you forget to make your sponge the night before.

BUSY MAMA’S CRUSTY LOAF of BREAD

4 Cups Flour

1 T Fresh Yeast or 1 Pkg Instant Yeast

1 T Salt

1 ½ T Sugar

1 T Butter

2 T Olive Oil

1-11/2 Cups Warm Water

Combine flour, yeast, salt, sugar, butter and olive oil in the bowl of a standing mixer with a dough hook attachment (Don’t have a dough hook? Use the mixing paddle. Don’t have a standing mixer? Use a big bowl, a wooden spoon and some elbow grease, you can count it as your workout for the day.). Turn on the mixer (or start stirring) and slowly add a cup of warm water to the flour mixture, mix until the water is incorporated, adding up to half a cup more warm water to create a soft, silk dough. Continue mixing for five minutes or turn the dough onto a floured surface and knead for 10 minutes. Place dough back into the bowl, cover with a warm damp towel and allow it to rise for an hour. Halfway through the rise, preheat your oven to 450 degrees. Find a Dutch oven with a lid, a big, oven-proof pot or pan with a lid, or an oven-proof casserole dish with a lid into the oven while it heats (you want the dish and the lid to get HOT!).  When the oven (and the dish) are hot, take the dough and form it into a loose ball (don’t worry about being neat, you want it to have a rustic quality) and sprinkle it with flour. Toss a bit more flour in the bottom of the hot pan, then place the dough into the pan and put the cover on. Immediately lower the temperature to 400 degrees and bake the bread in the covered pan for 15 minutes. Then remove the pan from the oven, gently remove the loaf from the pan and place it directly on the oven rack. Bake for 20-25 minutes more until the loaf is golden brown and sounds hollow when you tap the top of it. Allow the loaf to cool and enjoy!

Little Christmas 2009 = Sorta meh

January 8, 2009

Little Christmas, or the Epiphany, falls on the 12th day after Christmas (and yes, these are the days in the song). Tradition hold that Magi’s journey ended on this day. The Slippers household is not religious but we like the idea of Little Christmas, Mr. Slippers grew up celebrating it, thanks to his Ukranian grandmother. The holiday is celebrated in different ways around the world with the general intention of making the holiday season last for 12 days after Christmas, to savor it and give it a reflective end. Last year we started a Little Christmas tradition for the bunnies by having a Ukranian dinner and exchanging handmade gifts. This year, didn’t exactly go according to plan.

First, I got the date wrong (yes I can count to 12 on most days), so we had our dinner on the 7th. Despite an extra day, we were all down to the wire on making our gifts (in fact all of our handmade gifts this year were a little lacking). Then, I planned on taking the bunnies to the only Russian market in town (I do miss San Francisco!), only to find it has gone out of business. I defrosted a roast, came up with a “fancy” dinner and tried to make a dessert on the fly. Not a good idea. Burnt chocolate babycakes still managed to encite a grand mal fit and we had to conduct a time-out before sharing our unwrapped, still wet gifts. Sigh.

Luckily, 4 and a half years of motherhood has really strengthened my ability to go with the flow. This Christmas season is over, we’re all ready to move on, perhaps we were ready a few days ago. But I can’t change it, I have to move forward. I have a lot of ideas for next year and a lot of time to nurture them.  I also have some cool handmade gifts to show you, but not now.  Pictures, good ones, will follow and I’ve got something yummy cooked up to share, tomorrow.  Tonight I’ll just rest and let it be.