Welcome to this month’s Progressive Eats meal, and what a doozy! New permanent member Susan from The Wimpy Vegetarian has chosen a fantastic theme: Weekend Ski Party. Nice, right? It conjures up images of swooshing down the slopes all day and then filling up on warming, cheesy, gooey, comfort food with a hot toddy to warm you from top to toe.
I think maybe when we were growing up we didn’t have a lot of money. I say “I think” because I don’t remember really thinking about money very much. We got a small allowance, and when I was old enough, I babysat. I remember hoarding my earnings–in fives and singles in those days with maybe the odd ten dollar bill thrown in–in a small music box/treasure chest I had on my dresser. It was a small alpine cottage with white stucco and dark beams on the walls. Resin flowers of red and blue in window boxes. The heavily shingled roof opened, revealing a compartment lined in faux burgundy velvet. I cannot remember what song that music box played. High on a hill lived a lonely goatherd, maybe.
Friends, I have been to The Promised Land. There the land flows with milk and honey, Netflix streams for free, the children are all above average and the people drink a rich and frothy beverage called Beaten Coffee.
In a word, beaten coffee is sublime. Seriously. I am a coffee snob, I promise. I grind my beans fresh right before brewing and swear by my Chemex. I will not get coffee out at diners because when I taste it, my lip will inadvertently curl and I will say something like, “This coffee tastes like liquid ass.” So, for me to champion a beverage based on instant coffee is a bit shocking even to me.
I heard about beaten coffee, also known as soft coffee, Indian cappuccino, whipped coffee, Pakistani cappuccino and maybe more names, on the Leite’s Culinaria What’s for Dinner facebook page just a few days ago. Everyone who had tried it was raving about it, and since I had some Cafe Bustelo in the pantry, I decided to get in on the action too. Y’all, this stuff is completely delicious. I made it with all milk (except for the small amount of water I used to whip the coffee with), but you can also make it with part water and part milk. Either way, what you end up with is a smooth, thick, creamy, foamy coffee that stays that way right down to the bottom of the mug.
For this month’s #breadbakers challenge, Ashie of Spice Roots chose rye as the theme. I have not ever used rye flour before, but I was all set to make some rye bread and devour it when I read the rest of the rules: no refined flours or sugars. Health bread! I generally like to use some unbleached bread flour in all my loaves because I like a softer texture, so rather than going with bread, I decided to make some crackers.
As always when starting to nail down a recipe, I read over other folks’ recipes. I really liked the look of these caraway rye crackers from Michael Natkin of Herbivoracious, so that’s where I started. I actually only slightly adapted his recipe, using a smaller amount of caraway seeds, adding a bit of baking powder, subbing in some locally milled 7-grain flour and hard winter whole wheat flour for his bread flour and using a blood orange infused olive oil because I had some and it wanted to participate.
Yesterday we were supposed to get together with some of our oldest and dearest friends to enjoy a meal together and celebrate the start of the year. If you are wondering how long it takes to be “oldest and dearest,” I met the newest friends in that group in 1991! Unfortunately, as things sometimes happen, one couple couldn’t work out the logistics of the kids’ work schedules and sports games and such–all you parents surely understand this–and one half of one of the couples came down with some illness the day before. So rather than drive 6 hours round trip to have a meal with the friends we actually see most frequently anyway, we are postponing our dinner for a few weeks.
Of course, I found out about the change of plans 30 minutes after I pulled the lasagna I’d been laboring over for hours out of the oven. Alas, that is the way things go sometimes. The silver lining is obvious: more lasagna for us! Plus, it really turned out so well that it seemed a shame not to share it here with you.
Apparently Pinterest is exploding with versions of poppy seed party ham biscuits. And I say hooray, because while they might be new to many folks, I’ve been enjoying these little dudes for probably 45 years at our neighborhood Christmas Eve Party. You know, the same party where I also enjoyed red sauce. Yes, this is another retro recipe, and since it is exploding in popularity on social media, I wondered if it was even worthwhile to post this version. I asked my readers, and many of them had still not heard of these guys, so I figure it’s my duty to share. I’ve had other people’s ham biscuits, but honestly nothing I’ve had so far has compared to what I (and probably my entire old neighborhood) consider the best poppy seed party ham biscuits. I even made you guys a video to watch. Yay!
When I got together with Nadine on Christmas Eve, not only did we visit and exchange gifts, but we also nailed down the first Communion bread of 2015. I suggested that, since it was New Year’s I could bake with champagne yeast and also use some wine in the bread. She agreed. If that doesn’t sound very nailed down to you, you’re not wrong. But at least I had a plan.
I went to American Brewmasters in Cary, NC to grab some champagne yeast. I talked to John who was On Duty on New Year’s Eve, and he told me that champagne yeast makes a very ton of bubbles. He was also intrigued with the idea of using brewer’s yeast to bake bread. I have done it before, and I showed him my Four Loaves of the Apocalypse post. With John’s blessing, I left with the champagne yeast and a plan to use very little of it so the bubbles wouldn’t get totally out of control. I figured that pita would be a good place to start. If champagne yeast really does get crazy with bubble-making, I figured, the structure of the bread might not stand up to it. Best to work with a flat bread first and then go from there.
I am so excited about this month’s Progressive Eats Dinner! The theme, chosen by wonderful Megan of Stetted, is Mediterranean, and once again, I think this group has outdone itself! We scoured all the corners of the Mediterranean to bring you such a feast! I’m so excited about the menu as a whole, I’m sharing it now before I share the drink I made (but do stick around for that too!) Everything is just sparkling with Mediterranean flavor!
Moroccan food is one of those cuisines I don’t know much about. Of course I’ve heard of tagine, and know it’s both a cooking vessel and a type of food. When I think of Morocco, I think of preserved lemons, tomatoes and Casablanca. And couscous.
Now I’ve read Ruth Barnes’s (The Petite Gourmande) new book, Sharing Morocco: Exotic Flavors from My Kitchen to Yours, I know a lot more than I did before, and I found myself saying to The Beloved, “This sounds amazing!” quite a bit as a turned through the pages.