Thursday, November 17, 2011

Does twice-baked equal twice-as-good?

In short. Yes.

About a month ago, we made Ree Drummond's Twice Baked Potatoes (p. 152).

We were feeding a small crowd of approximately nine people. The fellas grilled some burgers, and we, of course, needed a tasty side dish. These 'taters hit the spot.

We started by washing the potatoes and lathering them with canola oil.

See Lou's scary parafin-wax-alien-like hand? There's no clean way to put canola oil on a potato. These were baked for 45 minutes at 400-degrees. In theory. We deferred to our own directions and baked the potatoes for 45 minutes, but at 350-degrees. Jo no longer is allowed to pre-heat the oven. It's a miracle either of us made it out of the seventh grade because we do not follow directions worth a lick. Sorry, Ree.

Next we diced and fried some bacon.

This was mixed with butter, sour cream, milk, pepper and seasoned salt.

Once the potatoes were finally done cooking, we played hot potato and sliced them in half, lengthwise.

Next came possibly the most frustrating part of the process. Spooning out the guts of the potato, or the flesh for the more refined, proved to be difficult. If anyone has any suggestions for how to do this neatly, without tearing up the potato skins, please let us know. Perhaps baking them at the proper temperature would help. We did find that a serrated grapefruit spoon made things a bit easier.

The potato flesh was added to the bacon mixture and mashed together. We needed extra mashing power, so Lou girded her loins and stood on a step stool to mash more efficiently. What we lack in upper-body strength we make up for in innovation. Perhaps our engineering-minded men are rubbing off on us.

Next we added cheese. This was followed by green onions. Once everything was thoroughly combined, we spooned the mixture back into the potato skins. These were topped with more grated cheese and baked for 10-15 more minutes.

We had some potato mixture left over, so we put the remainder into a 9x9 baking dish and topped it with more grated cheddar.

These were a huge hit with our little group. The skins were nice and crisp while the filling was creamy. Delightful.

Happily full,

Thursday, November 10, 2011

What is America without ranch dressing?

Midwesterners put ranch dressing on...everything. This ranch is so good you'll want to put it on your salad, cheese sticks, crackers, cereal. Well, you might want to rethink the last suggestion. It is tasty nonetheless.

A couple weeks ago, we made P-Dub's Homemade Ranch with Iceberg Wedge (p. 168).

We started by smashing minced garlic in a bowl.

Next we added mayonnaise and sour cream.

We added buttermilk. In true Lou-and-Jo fashion we didn't have buttermilk on hand, but we did mix whole milk with white vinegar to create a buttermilk substitute.

We chopped parsley and chives.

Then came chopped dill, Worcestershire sauce, cayenne pepper, paprika, black pepper and salt. And a little more cayenne. Spicy ranch.

We gave this a good stir, and decided to leave the ranch on the thicker-consistency side. If you prefer a thinner dressing, simply add more buttermilk. We chilled the dressing in the fridge. Oh, wait. Before the fridge came sneaks of crackers dipped in ranch. Heaven on a cracker.

Meanwhile, Momma Vickie quartered a head of iceberg lettuce for us. Well, really it was more than quartered. She eighthed it. Got it? We don't either.

This was served with some T-bone steaks that our fellas, including Jo's father-in-law, grilled up. A delightful meal was had by all.

Happily full,

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Cowgirl Dinner Party: The Sabetha Chronicles, Part Five

Here we will tell you how to make crème brûlée. Or, perhaps more accurately, a variation thereof.

Ours was more like crème brû-soup. But, we're getting ahead of ourselves.

For our final course of the Cowgirl Dinner Party we made P-Dub's Crème Brûlée (p. 208).

We started by warming a quart of heavy cream. Then we added a teaspoon of vanilla extract. This was brought to an almost-boil, then removed from the heat.

Mr. Fabuful's mother, Momma Vickie, was super sweet. Earlier that week, she had separated a plethora of egg yolks, saving them in the freezer for us. The day before we used them, she kindly moved the egg yolks to the fridge to thaw. Well, we should have taken them out of the fridge earlier because they were still quite gelatinous and/or crunchy. So, we of course thought, "Let's try adding water!" We're geniuses. Ok, maybe not.

See? A little gelatinous. A little crunchy.

We put the egg yolks in a bowl along with a good amount of sugar and began to stir. And stir, and stir, and stir. Lou and Jo took turns so as to avoid getting carpel tunnel or tendonitis.

Next we slowly tempered the egg mixture by gradually adding the warm cream mixture, continuing to stir. The crème brûlée sauce was then placed in these cute little ramekins.

The ramekins were placed on a jelly roll pan. Water was poured into the pan to keep them from burning. These were baked for approximately 40 minutes. They were cooled for several hours in the refrigerator.

When we were ready to have dessert, we sprinkled each ramekin with sugar and placed them under the broiler. That was interesting. We didn't have a hand-held torch, so it wasn't as pretty as Ree's pictures. Also, because of the water we added to the egg yolks, the dessert was more of a yogurt-consistency rather than a custard-consistency.

Our guests were kind and gracious and said it was delicious. Well, it did taste pretty good. And there were true little treats of properly-baked custard on the insides of the ramekins. We just encourage people to use their own imaginations.

Here we will leave you with some parting shots of our dinner party. Glad you could join us, even if only on the other side of the screen.

Happily full,