Saturday, May 7, 2011

Flour In My Hair

Today, my cooking was all backwards, due to the necessity of dinner sitting in the fridge for a few hours to meld. I still started with ice cream, however. Mashing the blueberries was a bit difficult: a fork was too small, a potato masher too large.

At this point, I have the whole process down to a science ... to the point where I was able to tell it was ready even though the liquid wasn't holding to the back of the spoon quite as expected. I use an ice bath even when the instructions don't call for it: it cuts down on the cooling time.

It's aliiiiive! About twenty minutes after I put the mixture into the ice cream machine, I looked in and part of it was trying to crawl out of the bowl. I was afraid that the ice cream had designs on world domination. (That's my job.) So this makes a bit more than standard capacity.

Despite previous remarks, I did not cut back on the amount of fruit (though I may have used slightly less than two cups). However, when I took the mixing arm out, a lot of blueberry skins had stuck to it, and I removed the majority. I could already tell at this point that the flavor was more than blueberry-ee enough.

Used a little less than two teaspoons of vanilla. Sheesh, I've been baking consistently less than a year and I've already turned into one of those people who eyeballs everything. I still use the measuring spoons, but I over / under fill them fairly frequently and always seem to end up with the right amounts.

Final verdict (ice cream): This is probably one of the better ice creams I've made. It's intensely flavorful and the texture is just right - the blueberry skins provide a nice variety. That sounds like it would be unpleasant, but it really works.

Stuck the chicken in the oven at this point. I am eyeing six split chickenbreasts realizing just how much meat I am going to end up with, but no backing down now. Forth we into the lemon ricotta cookies.

By this time, I figure my grocery store must think I have a lemon addiction. I seem to buy at least one almost every week. A few weeks back, it was four. This is, perhaps, not untrue. I love the tang of lemon in just about anything.

Cookies were a breeze, though for some reason, when I tried to cream the butter and sugar at anything other than low, it spat butter at me. I ducked, turned the mixture back to low, and carried on.

This was yet another cookie where I wondered how in the world the recipe provider figured out how many it would make. For one, the recipe says "44 cookies," which strikes as a very odd and precise number. 3 and 2/3rds dozen? For another, I followed what I thought was roughly two tablespoons per cookie and ended up with ... 31. What, now?

I figured my idea of two tablespoons must be different from Giada's when it took longer than the prescribed amount of time to cook. I glazed the cookies and left them to harden. They went into their little container / house / prison as I was baking the scones.

Final verdict (cookies): Sweet, but not cloying, and with a deliciously smooth texture, these are definitely a "make again" cookie. Giada describes these as something like a muffin top in appearance, and that's accurate - also a good description of the texture.

While prepping the dressing for the curried chicken salad, I discovered I didn't have enough mayo. I got as much out of the bottle as I could, then I tried to cut it open with scissors. The scissors broke.

Figuring they were an old pair of scissors, I tried with a different pair.

The scissors broke.

At this point, I used a knife and managed to cut the package open enough to get a few more spoonfuls of mayo out. To compensate somewhat for the smaller amt of mayo, I used a little more chutney (eyeballed - yes, I really am one of those eyeballing people I hate!). I chopped and/or pulled apart the chicken, mixed it with everything but the cashews, stuck it in the fridge and went to ... do work. On a Saturday. Yes, really. But it involved studying profiles for cruises, so it doesn't really count.

Final verdict (chicken salad): This has a decent taste, but there's nothing exceptional about it. It's no contender for my fabled Ullapool curried chicken salad. It was easy, but not really worth making again. Unfortunately, I now have a metric ton of it.

Started on the scones last, and here I finally ran into some problems with the recipe itself. I'm not sure whether I didn't fully integrate the fats, or whether I mixed the milk too briefly or not briefly enough, but when I turned out the dough on the floured surface? Good luck kneading it. It was so far past sticky that I need someone to invent another word for it. (Supergluous might not be inappropriate.) And rolling it out? I threw flour about in massive handfuls, but I could only get in a roll or two before it started to cling to the rolling pin.

I am ninety percent sure I got flour on the dog at some point.

By this point, I'd eaten more of the dough than I wanted to in the sheer self-defense of trying to get it off my hands. I went for the cookie cutter and, despite flouring it heavily, found that I couldn't get a clean round. Part of this might have been due to the fact that it was actually a wreath cutter (decided to use that instead of the heart), but I finally decided that, since the scones I was familiar with were oddly shaped, mounded lumps, that I would eyeball an appropriate size and shape.

This worked. The scones came out fluffy and appealing, though I should have greased the foil. I thought foil alone would be enough to prevent them from sticking; not so.

Final verdict (scones): I'm used to the sweeter breakfast scones, but these are really good and worth another try. They're a little like buttermilk biscuits and thoroughly tasty.

By now, I've got enough recipes in my saved files that I could repeat things ...

... nah.

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