Dec 23, 2018

Dec 19, 2018

Pam & Joe's Afghan, Complete

 Making this afghan for my faerie godchildren, Pam & Joe, has been a joy, not to mention the biggest knitting project of my life - on the right.

(Just as an aside, I also just finished the smallest knitting project ever, tiny slides (above left) for a friend with a broken finger who has to keep two fingers taped together. From the ridiculous to the sublime, and I don't know which was which.

Knitting, for me, is a pass-time, with no solid deadlines and very squiggly goals. My craft and knitting hobby motto is "No Hurry," so there is built-in flexibility.

 But this is truly an accomplishment. My husband, David and I calculated the time involved in a project like this. More than 300 hours, and that is just actual knitting time.

I knitted four panels of different colors with cable patterns and some filler panels and then sewed them all together .

The piece got kind of unwieldy (almost 6' x 8'). I went to a friend's studio several times to lay the pieces before sewing them together.

Dec 8, 2018

First You Make the Cookies

 Birthday Dinner for David
 Smooch loves to watch me make things, from beadwork to baking. She sits by the counter with her face as close to the action as possible.

For his birthday, David asked for Chocolate Chip Cookies instead of a cake. Not just any chocolate chip cookies, Dana's cookies.

And he's right. They are the best chocolate chip cookies on the planet. She was generous enough to share her recipe, which originally comes from Cook's Illustrated. 

So, for David's birthday dinner, first I made the cookies so he could have warm chocolate chip cookies all afternoon.
Here's my version of Dana's version of the Cook's Illustrated recipe:

Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 3/4 cups unbleached white flour*
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
14 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted & cooled
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 large egg plus one egg yolk

1 1/2 cups  milk chocolate chips

Set aside dry ingredients. In a mixer, Blend sugars with cooled melted butter and vanilla about three minutes. Add the egg and yolk and blend well. Add the dry ingredients. Add the chocolate chips by hand. Drop by teaspoonful onto a parchment covered sheet pan.

Bake at 350° for 8-10 minutes.

 Fish Pie
After making the cookies, I poached a bit of cod in half and half, doctored up some bechamel sauce and veggies from a Veggie Pie Dana and I made the day before. The cod turned out so flaky and beautiful, I didn't want to bury it in the veggies and sauce, so I gently laid it atop the filling, see below.

Basic Pastry
Although most of my meals are gluten free, if I want a pastry dough, I'll make it myself. This is my recipe for enough pastry for one pie shell or four individual pies, bottom only.

1 1/2 cups unbleached white flour*
1 stick unsalted butter, chopped in pieces
1/2 tespoon salt
2-3 tablespoons ice water

Put the flour, butter and salt in a food processor and blend until "mealy." Slowly add some ice water until the dough begins to hold together. Wrap the dough ball in flour dusted parchment and refrigerate until 1/2  hour before using. Let it rest and come to room temperature before rolling it out.

I like to lightly spray the pie tins for a good release at serving time.

These pie tins date back to the early days of my cooking career. I used them at Rainbow Ranch in Calistoga, at the Chopra Center in La Jolla, at Ginna's Cafe in Carmel Valley, for Chicken Pot Pies to Lemon Meringue. I love these pans.

When rolling out the dough, I like to keep it thick for a pie like this, so the sauce stays inside the pie, even though it is basically open-faced.

After placing the poached fish on top of the bechamel filling, I fold over the edges and brushed it all with egg wash.

This bechamel,/veggie filling is comprised mostly of roasted carrots, celery and zucchini mixed with sauteed mushrooms, onions and garlic and blended with the bechamel white sauce.

Baked at 375° for about 40 minutes, until golden brown and bubbling.

Let the pies cool for a few minutes before slipping onto a plate. Serve with a green salad or cooked green vegetable.

Then, more cookies.

 Smooch has lost interest...

*although I am 90% gluten free, when I do bake with wheat flour, I use unmodified, organic Einkorn flour, just to be on the safe side. Don't get me started on the Glyphosate/Gluten conversation.

Love, Ginna