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November 2, 2014
delectablediction

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cinnamon, crunchy leaves and ceramics

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This morning I woke at 3:40, not quite used to the time change or the transition from Eastern Time to Mountain ~ a double whammy if you ask me! But, I am not complaining ~ just saying’ is all…

So much is going on ~ Tony is getting ready to leave again, I have now been working 6 months and have been TDY three times in the last three months, Mikaela is starting up a small business venture in Albuquerque with her friend Aubrey, Toren graduates high school, Andre graduates college, commissions AND marries sweet Alisha next year! Levi Gabriel turns 5 (what?!?), and Tony and I celebrate 25 years. Whew ~ no wonder I’ve not found the time to sit and reflect on my time in the kitchen, organize my recipes and blog! I won’t give up, I won’t give up, I won’t give up (if you see me, please remind me of this mantra!)

Today is a new day ~

embrace

embrace

Mikaela and Aubrey are both graduates from Eastern New Mexico University’s Fine Arts Program… if you are in Albuquerque, NM, please look them up: AM Ceramics (also on Facebook).

am ceramics

am ceramics

am ceramics

am ceramics

am ceramics

am ceramics

am ceramics

am ceramics

am ceramics

am ceramics

Toren is ready to pursue college and military after high school ~ following in big brother’s footsteps at UWF and ROTC.

Dre and Alisha are making plans for a new life together ~ so proud of these two amazing young people!

Tony will be singing, “Off we go, into the wild, blue yonder! Flying high, into the…” and I will keep plugging away at my wonderful job. I get paid for getting up and LOVING what I do, loving the people I work with and for ~ I am blessed!

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Ok ~ for the kitchen thing: I HAVE NOT stopped cooking! I have about 30 recipes (tried and tried again with success) to post, but I will take it one week at a time ~

Today’s creation was born from the fact that I was awake at o’dark thirty, there was an insane need for something cinnamon, and since I got back from New Jersey Friday night, I have not been able to stay out of the kitchen (that’s what 2 weeks with a microwave and mini fridge will do to you!).

Cinnamon Roll French Toast

(yes, I could have just stopped at the cinnamon roll part, but, well, read the above paragraph)

  • 2 1/2 tsp yeast
  • 1 1/4 cup milk, warmed to 110 degrees
  • 2 T sugar

Combine in a small bowl, allow to proof about 10 minutes.

place 1 stick butter in a small bowl ~ allow to soften

whisk 2 eggs with 2 tsp vanilla, set aside

In a large bowl combine:

  • 3 1/2 cups flour
  • 3/4 cups sugar
  • 1 tsp yeast
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 T cinnamon
  • beans from 1/2 vanilla pod
  • 4 T butter, chilled and cut into small pieces

whisk dry ingredients, then add the butter, pressing into the flour until pebble size pieces remain. Stir in milky yeast mixture, the softened butter and eggs. With a wooden spoon, stir until combined. Add enough flour to create a workable dough (I added an additional 3/4 cup). Turn onto floured surface, knead until no longer sticky. Place in buttered bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let rise at least 1 1/2 hours.

Cinnamon-sugar mix: 1/2 c brown sugar, 1/2 c granulated raw sugar, 3 tsp cinnamon, beans from half of a vanilla pod

Turn risen dough out onto lightly floured surface; separate into 4 sections (make traditional cinnamon rolls with the other 3 sections); roll one portion at a time into a long rectangle; spread 2 T softened butter over dough; sprinkle with 2-3 T cinnamon-sugar mixture; from long end, roll tightly; place on parchment lined baking sheet, cover and allow to rise for 1 hour. Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes. Let cool on wire rack. Slice into 1/2 inch – 1 inch slices; dip into French Toast mix (2 eggs, 2 T milk, 1 tsp vanilla extract, dash of cinnamon), place on hot griddle, cooking about 1 minute per side. Serve with vanilla bean cream cheese butter (scrape 1/2 vanilla bean, 1-8 oz pkg cream cheese, 4 T butter, 3/4 c confectioner’s sugar; combine in a medium bowl; whisk until combined) enjoy! V ~

french toast meets cinnamon bread

french toast meets cinnamon bread

March 10, 2015
delectablediction

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Basta Pasta

There’s a new pasta in town…gone are the days of using ricotta for pasta al-forno. Have you ever wondered why your perfectly prepared pasta, with the succulent sauce seasoned just right, noodles with the just-right bite of al dente, turns just a bit dry? Its the ricotta. Trust me.  Next time you have un gusto per la pasta al forno (a taste for a baked pasta, ie lasagna, baked ziti, ect), try a bechemel AND your red sauce ~ you’ll not go back.

Baked Pasta

  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 4 slices pancetta, diced
  • 2 2/3 c milk
  • 5 T butter
  • 1/3 c flour
  • 2 cups red sauce (24 oz jarred sauce)
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
  • kosher salt, to taste
  • fresh basil, cut in ribbons or torn by hand
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • pasta
  • spicy Italian sausage, optional
  • 3 c parmesan cheese, finely shredded
  • fresh mozzarella, sliced
  • 2 cups mozzarella, grated

In a mediuml saucepan, melt butter, add 1 minced garlic clove and whisk in flour, cooking for up to 10 minutes until flour/butter browns. Slowly whisk in milk; add pinch of salt. Stir occassionally until mixture thickens. Remove from heat and stir in 2 cups parmiggiano; set aside. Cook pasta in salted water until al dente (if using boxed pasta, subtract 4 minutes from LOWEST cooktime).

In a separate saucepan, brown pancetta, garlic and onion in 2 T olive oil; add sauce, a pinch of kosher salt, crushed red pepper, oregano and basil. If using sausage, brown in skillet and drain. Get a large cassarole prepared (spray with non-stick spray and drizzle lightly with olive oil). Toss pasta, all but 1 c of red sauce, bechemel and grated mozzarella (and sausage, if using) in prepared cassarole; top with remaining parmiggiano and 1 cup red sauce; distribute sliced mozzarella over top. Bake in a 350 pre-heated oven for 18 minutes. Place pasta under broiler until cheese and pasta just get bubbly and browned…um, deliciousness. pasta

February 24, 2015
delectablediction

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Val’s Chocolate Heaven Cupcakes.

Originally posted on delectablediction:

I finished reading Wicked Appetite by Janet Evanovich yesterday, and was inspired to make cupcakes.  I have always used a others’ recipes for cakes, but yesterday, I created a chocolate cupcake that is possibly THE best, most tender and tasty cupcake EVER. The problem now?  Naming it:

Val’s Chocolate Heaven in a Cupcake?
Chocolate Chiffon Cupcakes?
Divine Chocolate Cupcakes?
Oh, this makes about 30 cupcakes.

Val’s Chocolate Heaven Cupcakes:

2 c. sugar,
2 c. flour,
1 c. baking cocoa,
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda,
1 tsp. kosher salt,
2 tsp. vanilla,
2 eggs (slightly beaten),
1 1/4 c. buttermilk,
1/2 c. vegetable oil,
1 c. boiling water,
confectioner’s sugar (for sprinkling).

Preheat oven to 350.  Line cupcake tins with paper liners, spray with non-stick spray.  In a a large bowl, sift flour, baking soda, salt, and sugar.  Add buttermilk, 2 eggs, vanilla, and oil.  Beat until well mixed.  Stir in…

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February 15, 2015
delectablediction

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no-knead bread

Originally posted on delectablediction:

breadeng4

I have easily made over 500 loaves of bread, and this one has magical powers! Truly! As soon as my son cut into the just cooled loaf, I knew it was going to be amazing; but one look at those marvelous holes*, I was transported! Back to Italy, when long, lazy lunches on the terrazzo would give way to dusk and dinner-time; we were so pleasantly stuffed from an incredible noon feast, we couldn’t possibly eat another bite… yet, the bread, olive oil, and finely grated cheese, bowls of ruby red, sun-warmed tomatoes, lightly drizzled with more olive oil and salt, were placed in front of us, and we were suddenly famished. Dipping that bread into the olive oil, soaking up bits from the ruby fruit ~ see? Were you right there with me? Could you almost taste it? THAT, my friends, is the power this bread has!

Whether you’re…

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February 14, 2015
delectablediction

1 comment

no-knead bread

breadeng4

I have easily made over 500 loaves of bread, and this one has magical powers! Truly! As soon as my son cut into the just cooled loaf, I knew it was going to be amazing; but one look at those marvelous holes*, I was transported! Back to Italy, when long, lazy lunches on the terrazzo would give way to dusk and dinner-time; we were so pleasantly stuffed from an incredible noon feast, we couldn’t possibly eat another bite… yet, the bread, olive oil, and finely grated cheese, bowls of ruby red, sun-warmed tomatoes, lightly drizzled with more olive oil and salt, were placed in front of us, and we were suddenly famished. Dipping that bread into the olive oil, soaking up bits from the ruby fruit ~ see? Were you right there with me? Could you almost taste it? THAT, my friends, is the power this bread has!

Whether you’re a novice baker, or like my friends Mel & Nicky, who have created some amazing ciabatta and sourdough, I hope you’ll try this recipe… Come on this culinary journey with me! Enjoy ~ V

Rustic No-Knead Bread

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp instant yeast
  • 1 5/8 cup water
  • cornmeal or wheat bran for dusting

In a large bowl, combine the flour, salt and yeast;

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pour in water and stir until no flour remains. Cover tightly with plastic wrap. Set aside for at least 8 hours and up to 7 days!  (I am in the process of using my food-grade plastic bin and 5 pounds of flour to have and share fresh crusty bread!)  The first time I made this, I waited only 8 hours, and for the second rise, I laid it out on a parchment-lined and floured baking sheet (Italian-style); this time, I will complete the second rise in a proofing basket. If you do not have a proofing basket, you can use any tall, narrow bowl; this encourages the dough to rise taller (French-style) (see difference in techniques at bottom).

Dough is ready when its surface is dotted with bubbles. Lightly flour a work surface and place dough on it; sprinkle it with a little more flour and fold it over on itself once or twice. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest about 15 minutes.
Using just enough flour to keep dough from sticking to work surface or to your fingers, gently and quickly shape dough into a ball. Generously coat piece of parchment with wheat bran or cornmeal; put dough seam side down on parchment and dust with more bran or cornmeal. Cover with cotton towel and let rise for about 2 hours. When it is ready, dough will be more than double in size and will not readily spring back when poked with a finger.

At least a half-hour before dough is ready, heat oven to 450 degrees. Put a 6- to 8-quart heavy covered pot in oven as it heats.(I used an old cast-iron roaster) When dough is ready, carefully remove pot from oven. Slide your hand under parchment and turn dough over into pot, seam side up; it may look like a mess, but that is O.K. Shake pan once or twice if dough is unevenly distributed; it will straighten out as it bakes. Cover with lid and bake 30 minutes, then remove lid and bake another 15 to 30 minutes, until loaf is beautifully browned, not golden. Cool on a rack. If you like, you can choose to split your dough in half, allowing the other half to continue the rest process… this way you can have fresh bread tomorrow, too!

dough will be sticky; trust me, you want this!

dough will be sticky; trust me, you want this!

cover and let rest

cover and let rest

finished~ perfectly crunchy outside, pillowy on the inside

finished~ perfectly crunchy outside, pillowy on the inside

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*According to French law, true French bread may contain only the basic four ingredients and sometimes small amounts of rye flour or ascorbic acid. Contemporary French artisan bakers create many variations on the basic-four theme by using artful shapes, color, hue, crumb density, texture, and varying degrees of sourness.

Italian bakers also adhere to the basic-four rule but work with a stickier dough that contains more water. Due to the flour-to-water ratio, Italian bread is much flatter than the French version and has a moister texture and a crumb with large, irregularly shaped holes. The crust is chewy yet soft, particularly when it is brushed with olive oil.

February 5, 2015
delectablediction

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Happy Nutella Day!

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In honor of this unculent*, exquisite, spreadable joy-in-a-jar, I will offer this brief history of Nutella:

Nutella spread, in its earliest form, was created in the 1940s by Mr. Pietro Ferrero, a pastry maker and founder of the Ferrero company. At the time, there was very little chocolate because cocoa was in short supply due to World War II rationing.

So Mr. Ferrero used hazelnuts, which are plentiful in the Piedmont region of Italy (northwest), to extend the chocolate supply.

See earlier posts for homemade Nutella and Nutella Poptarts (adapted from King Arthur Flour).

*Unculent: Origination, Val Lombardo of delectablediction.com; verb; of particular sensational taste; a step beyond scrumptuous; of delicate, palatable consistency. Excessively smooth, almost illegal, immoral. (If Rachel Ray can coin “Yummo”, I can coin Unculent!)

Eat well, hug often, love deeply ~ happy week before Valentine’s Day! v

January 10, 2015
delectablediction

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a soup & sandwich kind of day

delectablediction:

To warm you on the inside, my friends!

Originally posted on delectablediction:

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Val’s Tomato Soup with Sweet Chile Sauce and Basil

soup soup

  • 2 20 oz jars of homemade tomato sauce or 3 large cans good quality crushed tomatoes
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 basil leaves, sliced in thin ribbons
  • 1/2 bag dry (about 2 cups) Great Northern Beans, cooked
  • 1 cup sweet chile sauce (homemade or Thai Sweet Chile Sauce)
  • olive oil
  • If using homemade sauce, also use about 3 Roma or beefsteak tomatoes, chopped, for texture

Heat oil in a large stock pot; toss in garlic and chopped tomatoes; simmer for 5 minutes.  Slowly pour in tomato sauce; simmer for 20 minutes. Add sweet chile sauce and beans; heat until warmed.  Top with basil ribbons, serve & enjoy!

Grilled Turkey Pastrami Sandwich

sammy sammy

this isn’t your usual suspect Rueben, turkey or pastrami sandwich…

  • 1/4 lb shaved turkey pastrami
  • 6 slices provolone
  • 4 T cream cheese
  • 4 T sweet chile sauce (see…

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