March 31, 2007

Yes, Your Blogs look GREAT in That

Most of the votes have been cast, and the results will be coming soon... Thanks for your patience!

March 21, 2007

Strange Things are Afoot at the Circle K...

Welcome to the latest installment of our epicurean adventures, on location in... BAKERSFIELD!

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March 18, 2007

DMBLGIT - Update

For those of you still following the DMBLGiT drama, I'm still here. Buried in pictures, after a weekend out of town with no Internet connectivity.

Keep watching the gallery -- if you've sent me an entry, it will appear there soon.

If you haven't yet submitted your entry or don't know what I'm talking about, the details are here.

Bron, Sean, Ivonne (hey... that rhymes!) and Jeff, we've got quite a job ahead of us; these photographs are amazing!

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March 16, 2007

Reminder - One more week...

Thirty six of you have responded to the call. (Well, forty really -- I have four more photos in my inbox for download). There were 90 entries last month -- what are the rest of you waiting for...?

Consider this your friendly reminder that there's only one more week to get your entries in for the March edition of Does My Blog Look Good in This.

For instructions on how to submit your favorite photo, see the initial announcement.

For those of you following along at home, I'm updating the gallery as quickly as I can.

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March 14, 2007

Move aside, honey... Hold the sugar, sweetheart...

...this month's mingle is all about the *savory* cake, baby.

For those of you who might have missed Meeta's Monthly Mingle (a nice piece of alliteration, that) it's a casual, virtual pot luck type of affair. And in March, we're asked to set sugary sweets aside and contribute something savory to the menu. Something savory... in the form of a cake.

While I struggled over what to contribute to Peabody's party, I knew immediately what I'd prepare for Meeta's mingle. It's one of the centerpieces on the buffet table whenever we entertain a crowd. It's on my short list when I'm asked to contribute something savory -- but *different* -- to someone else's celebration. An Emeril recipe, it has a lengthy ingredient list and preparation is somewhat labor intensive -- but well worth the effort. It's Emeril Lagasse's Crab and Wild Mushroom Cheesecake.

I've made it a half a dozen times as-published, and more recently experimented with the smoked salmon/sun dried tomato version mentioned in the reader reviews and a smoked halibut/roasted zucchini & carrot version of my own inspiration. Every version is well received.

I do make two modifications to the recipe as published. First, I don't like Emeril's bread-crumb crust. I typically use a combination of crumbled wheat thins and ground pine nuts or almonds instead. And I bake my cheesecake in a water bath to prevent it from drying out.

So that's my take on the savory cake theme. Hungry for more? Keep a browser pointed at Meeta's What's for Lunch Honey for the March round-up!

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March 13, 2007

Hay, Hay... Doing a Mango Tango for Cheesecake Day

When Peabody announced the theme for Hay Hay it's Donna Day #10 would be cheesecake, the question in my mind wasn't *whether* I'd participate, but what I would choose to contribute. Cheesecake, after all, is a beautifully blank canvas, upon which many a masterpiece can be constructed. It can also be temperamental -- as eager in its punishment as it is in reward -- as all of us who've pulled a soupy cake out of the oven or cut into a dry cracked over-baked one can attest.

And with *Peabody* hosting no ordinary cheesecake would suffice; it *had* to be something special. We sort of have a shared cheesecake history. That is, her sinful concoction was one of the best desserts that's ever emerged from my oven, and the hit of our holiday party.

I digress, but you get the point. The pressure was on, even if it was only self-inflicted pressure.

So what would it be?

Pumpkin Swirl Cheesecake feels more than a bit like plagiarism...

I eyeballed the box of Thin Mints in my pantry and briefly considered a Girl Scout inspired creation. And then she posted this. Damn. Back to the drawing board.

A hectic weekend had me pondering an alcohol-infused confection. Margarita? Amaretto? Frangelico? Probably not a good idea for a cake destined for an office celebration.

In the end, I used the bounty from my CSA box as my inspiration. A Mango Tango it would be.

Now that I had the what, the next step was to determine the how. The key was a good solid cheesecake 'architecture' upon which I'd be comfortable improvising a bit without fear of crashing completely. So I reached for Alton Brown. Or more accurately, his treatise on baking: I'm Just Here for More Food. There, on pages 313-317, he explains the how's and why's of a simple sweet cheesecake in painstaking detail.

I started with the crust. Pulsed a sleeve of Girl Scout Trefoil cookies (I'm out of graham crackers and didn't want to make another trip to the store) in the food processor until I had crumbs. Added about half a cube of chilled butter, cut into squares and pulsed until I had a course meal. Added a handful of shredded coconut for that tropical feel and pulsed a bit more. Turned the mixture out into a prepared spring form pan and patted the crust along the bottom and up the sides of the pan. Blind baked at 300 for about 10 minutes.

Next, my ad-hoc, quick variation on a chunky mango chutney. I peeled and sliced three of the freshest, juiciest, sweetest organic mangoes I've ever worked with. Melted butter in the bottom of a medium sized saucepan. Tossed in the mangoes and 1/8 cup of sugar I actually measured this -- I wanted the sauce the sugar would provide, but the mangoes were sweet and I didn't want to overdo it. Added the zest and juice of a lime, a teaspoon or so of grated ginger, the contents of a vanilla bean and three or four grates of nutmeg. I sauteed this for about 15 minutes while I started unwrapping packets of cream cheese.

I followed Mr. Brown's basic cheesecake recipe pretty closely. Beat 24 ounces of cream cheese and a half cup of sugar within an inch of it's life with the trusty Kitchen Aid. In a separate bowl with the hand mixer, I mixed 2 whole eggs, 3 egg yolks, 1 tablespoon vanilla extract, 1 teaspoon coconut extract, 5 oz sweetened condensed milk (AB insists that weighing this is the only way to ensure the correct amount) and 1 cup of sour cream. I then slowly integrated this mixture into the cream cheese. The result of which is a VERY soupy batter.

I left the cream cheese mixture momentarily to spread half of my cooled mango chutney across the prepared crust. I pulled out the blender and whipped the second half of the mango mixture into a baby food-like consistency. (part of baking is creating at least three sinks full of dishes). Mixed the mango puree with about a third of the cheesecake batter in the bowl I'd used for the egg/milk combination. Poured the batters into the cake pan in thirds: 1/3 plain, 1/3 mango, 1/3 plain, swirling the batters together to create what I hope will be a pretty pattern.

Finally, I employed the Alton Brown "slow and steady" method of baking a cheesecake: 1 hour in a water bath at 250 F. Without opening, touching, or even *looking* at the oven door. Followed by 1 minute with the oven off, oven door open. Followed by another hour in the oven with whatever residual heat remains. Again, without even breathing in the proximity of the oven door. Followed by one hour cooling on the counter. Followed by 3 to 6 hours in the refrigerator.

Forty-eight hours later... Wow. It's out of the pan, and it's... wow. I understand why AB remands cheesecake to the custard section of his book, and I'm a convert to his method of baking it. The result is not the raw cream cheese & mango soup I was afraid it would be, but rather a delicious burst of spring: a rich, luscious mouth-feel that's indulgent without being overwhelming followed by the warm tropical sweetness only mango provides. I'm generally pretty humble about the products of my kitchen, but I'd be honored to serve this to Peabody, Mr. Brown or Ms Hay.

If you're a mango fan, I urge you to try this one. Run, don't walk to the grocery store for whatever ingredients aren't already in your pantry. Pick up an extra sponge (you'll be washing lots of dishes) and paperback for the "inactive" time. You won't be disappointed...

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March 11, 2007

Say Cheese! - DMBLGiT March Gallery

A photograph is like the recipe - a memory the finished dish. ~Carrie Latet
Warning: The photographs included herein may induce increased appetite. Your host cannot be held responsible for keyboard damage caused by drooling and/or weight gain from replicating recipes...

Update 3/15/2007: Since a few of you have asked, instructions for submitting your entries, including my email address, can be found here. For those of you who've submitted photographs you don't yet see here, hang tight, I'm adding them as quickly as I can. You should have received an email response from me to that effect -- if I haven't responded, I haven't got your photo.

Update 3/18/2007: I am back from a weekend sans Internet connection with 32 entries in my inbox waiting to upload. Give me a day or two to catch up...

Update 3/23/2007: Thanks to all who have participated. With the contest officially closed, I have 16 more photos to upload. I'll have them online by Monday evening 3/26/2007, and then judging begins. Look for the results by 4/1/2007!

With the disclosures out of the way, let's get on with the photography. Check out the 18 21 25 30 39 49 55 71 mouth-watering entries:

Our first entry comes to us from Fer, of Fer Food in Los Angeles, CA. Fer offers Green Tea and Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream, inspired by her passion for the featured ingredients.

Camera: Nikon 200.

Andrew from Spittoon Extra in the United Kingdom provides entry #2, the Apple Pie with Clotted Cream he created for February's Waiter, there's Something in my ... Pie event.

Camera: Canon 350D

Entry #3 comes from Maia of Maia Papaya from San Diego, CA. Maia shares her experience with a Persian Valentine dinner, the highlight of which was this colorful Shirazi Salad.

Camera: Nikon D70

William of Never Trust a Skinny Chef in Atlanta, GA reminds us that chutney is both a noun AND a verb with his entry #4: Jerk Chicken with Mango Chutney, a dish he prepared for the first corporate cookout of the spring/summer season.

Camera: Canon G6

Nate from nearby San Jose California, half of the creative genius behind Chez Annie, offers a simple yet satisfying Dutch Apple Cake as Entry #5.

Camera: Canon PowerShot A75

Entry #6 hails from Meena of Hooked on Heat in Canada. She responds to the voices in her head with colorful and zesty Ginger Chili Shrimp.

Camera: Casio EX 360

Lisa of Bohemian Philosophy in Canberra, Australia celebrates the dawning of the Chinese Year of the Pig with Entry #7, a 'stack of happiness' : Onigiri & Bak Kwa on Korean Seaweed.

Camera: Fujifilm Finepix S5500

Entry #8 comes to us from Ninnie, author of Mitaine ecarlate from Montreal Quebec. She celebrates springtime with a sensational cool and creamy Mojito Cheesecake.

Camera: Canon PowerShot A640

Open the average food-lover's refrigerator and you're likely to find the ingredients you need to create Entry #9: Individual Baked Egg Omelet Souffles. Chris, who writes Mele Cotte from outside Atlanta, GA credits her mother for inspiring a wonderful indulgence for a lazy Sunday morning breakfast for one.

Camera: Nokia 6102i

Lydia from My Kitchen in Sidney Australia offers Entry #10: the alliterative and appetizing "Snapper Wrapper": a simple yet sophisticated combination of carrots and leeks wrapped in a snapper fillet.

Camera: Pentax K100D

With Entry #11, Lili of Foodbox in Paris France offers the ultimate Valentine's Day indulgence: a Ginger and Cherry Trifle originally published in 1861 in that British guide to all things domestic: Mrs Beeton's Book of Household Management.

Camera: Panasonic DMC-LX2

Murnie, who lives "east of Singapore" and chronicles her food adventures at M3rNi3, struggled a bit with ingredient procurement as she prepared Entry #12: Cinnamon-Banana Muffins.

Camera: Casio Exilim EX-Z60

Abby, who pens Confabulation in the Kitchen from "somewhere in the south" invites us to be her valentine with Entry #13: simple-to-prepare, kid-friendly, heart-shaped festive cream cheese mints.

Camera: Fujifilm Finepix S5500

Peabody provides the requisite chocolate indulgence for her Seattle, WA area book club (if Peabody's providing Culinary Concoctions, where do I sign up?!?) and Entry #14 to this edition of DMBLGIT: Chocolate Cupcakes.

Camera: Nikon Coolpix 4600

Entry #15 is brought to us by Lynne of Cafe Lynnylu, a sweet take on a traditionally savory Italian classic: Grape Focaccia -- a perfect accompaniment on a spring picnic!

Camera: Canon 5D

Jessica from In Search of Dessert trades a lazy Saturday afternoon at home for antiquing adventures through small towns in Switzerland -- and ends her day by preparing Entry #16: the Perfect Scallop.

Camera: Nikon D200

Entry #17 returns us to February's "Waiter... there's something in my pie" celebration, as Piperita of the Kitchen Pantry in Milan, Italy prepares a savory Cheese Pie ala Nigella.

Camera: Sony CyberShot 5.1MP

Bee of Rasa Malaysia in Irvine, CA creates entry #18: Fried Shrimp from leftovers in her refrigerator. Bee, there's a guy named David who's created a "leftover" food blog event. With leftovers like this, I strongly suggest you check it out!

Camera: Canon Digital Elph SD450 Point and Shoot

Entry #19 comes from Arfi of Homemades in Tuakau, New Zealand. Arfi prepares this stunning fruit cheese from Damson plums harvested from her family orchard.

Camera: Canon Powershot A520

Danielle of Habeas Brulee in New York City credits a recent restaurant meal as the inspiration for her latest addiction and our Entry #20: Sweet and Sour Lotus Root.

Camera: Canon 30D, with a 100mm f2.8 macro lens

Entry #21 is another Valentine creation submitted by Anita of Dessert First (another bay area blogger). In her review of Scharffenberger and Steinberg's Essence of Chocolate, she highlights these opulent TKO's: Thomas Keller Oreos. Got Milk?

Camera: Canon EOS 400D Digital

While she asserts that "traditional" romance is lost on her (keep the diamonds and rubies -- just add to her cookbook collection), Freya of Writing at the Kitchen Table in the United Kingdom seduces her readers with this luxurious Goats Yoghurt and Honey Panna Cotta, featured here as Entry #22.

Camera: HP Photosmart 812

And from Italy, Staximo of Lo Spazimo di Saximo offers up Onion Muffins, entry #23. My apologies -- my Italian's a little rusty (and Google's translation is... odd). But there's a recipe for savory onion muffins here, that would pair quite nicely with chicken or seafood.

Camera: Canon S70

No takeout for Charise of More Bread and Cheese, Please in Dublin, OH. She dishes up Entry #24, homemade General Tso's Chicken without all that added sugar and MSG.

Camera: Canon Digital Rebel XTi

January's winner checks in with more pistachios... Mae of Rice and Noodles in the Channel Islands invites her readers to celebrate her new design (and her obsession with pistachios) with Entry #25: Pistachio Panna Cotta w Fresh Raspberries.

Camera: Cannon EOS 350D

New blogger Deena from Scooped in Sidney Australia shares her very Donna Hay event -- a Vanilla Cheesecake topped with Lemon Curd a la Jamie Oliver as entry #26.

Camera: Kodak Z710

Entry #27 also hails from Australia -- Melbourne Victoria, to be precise. Paul, (the gourmand behind Eat Me) exposes the culinary eroticism of the black fig.

Camera: Nikon Coolpix 885

Inspired by recipes incorporating matcha, Loukoum of Beau a la Louche provides entry #28, experimenting with a Trio of Chocolate Truffles.

Camera: Canon EOS 350D

Sarah from Avenue Food in Queens, NY offers the much maligned brussels sprout a makeover with entry #29: Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Shallot, Bacon, and Apple.

Camera: Canon Powershot S80

Food and Paper's Sarah of Pittsburgh, PA celebrates Valentine's Day this year not with the traditional chocolate, not with other gooey sweet confections, but with a bit of a sour note -- offering these delectable Blood Orange Curd Tarts with Raspberries as entry #30.

Camera: Canon A95

The eponymous SoRMuiJAi of Sydney Australia - a 21st century Auntie Mame - bakes up entry #31 this delightful chocolate cake for her beloved nephews.

Camera: Sony DSC-W5

Entry #32 comes to us from February's host, Erielle of Fancy Toast in Chicago, IL. Erielle wraps up a series detailing her obsession with tacos with her friend Abbey's recipe for tequila-laced tacos.

Camera: Nikon D70

Barbara, the author of You Gonna Eat All That? in Virginia offers us a slice of Entry #33 -- an "ass-kicking" Sesame Semolina Bread inspired by a recipe from the Bread Baker's Apprentice.

Camera: Minolta Maxxum 5D

From the blood orange food fantasies of The Food Philosophy's Paula concocts these vibrant Blood Orange Jellies, which she offers as entry #34.

Camera: Sony Cyber-Shot 6.0

Sarah Ikegami of Valencia, CA reminisces about her honeymoon in Paris, using these Nutella Sandwiches to stir up sweet memories and providing entry #35.

Camera: Canon Rebel XLT

Another Australian entry, Y of Lemon Pi responds to the summer heat in the southern hemisphere with entry #36, this Chilled Green Soybean Soup.

Camera: Panasonic DMC-LX2

Entry #37 comes from Bazu of Where's the Revolution in Syracuse, NY, who celebrates spring with this sushi-inspired Magic Avocado.

Camera: Canon PowerShot A620

Bea from La Tartine Gourmande satisfies a late night urge to bake with Honey and Orange Madeleines. Perfectly paired with Tea for entry #38.

Camera: Canon 30D

Francesco from the Food Traveller offers the simple yet sophisticated Chocolate Shortbread Cookies as Entry #39.

Camera: Nikon D200

Lien of Notitie van Lien in Drenthe, Netherlands shows readers that it is easy to get green - the green of Gelato al Pistachio submitted here as enry #40

Camera: Canon Powershot G7

Entry #41 is brought to us by Johanna, the genius behind The Passionate Cook of London. Adopting a new approach to utilizing the bounty from her CSA deliveries, Johanna offers a savory bridge between winter and spring in her Red Onion and Hazelnut Tarte Tartin.

Camera: EOS 20D

My Korean Kitchen's Sue (very recently of Brisbane, Australia) celebrates garlic with her contribution to a Weekend Herb Blogging event in February. The dish: Garlic Chives and Baked Garlic Salad with Grilled Pork - Entry 42.

Camera: Canon EOS 400D

Entry #43: This Ice Cream Sandwich Dessert, providing a combination of sweet seduction and disappearing act in Kristen's kitchen.

Camera: Sony Cybershot DSC-P8

Anna of Morsels & Musings in Sidney, Australia checks in with entry #44: the Sticky Fig.

Camera: Canon PowerShot A95

Entry #45 celebrates comfort food over drama with this simple savory Leek & Potato Soup with Fennel Seeds and Chives, offered by Ilva of Lucullian Delights in Tuscany, Italy.

Camera: Sony Alpha 100

Meeta of What's for Lunch, Honey in Weimar, Germany contemplates the sublte differences between laziness and comfort as she prepares her contribution to Waiter, There's Something in my... Pie. The result is entry 46: Covered Creamy Veal & Mushrooms.

Camera: Nikon D70s

Entry number 47 is another low-key but tasty Valentine's Day treat offered by Helen of Tartlette: these charming Individual Blueberry Pies.

Camera: Canon Power Shot A610

Many of you will remember February's DMBLGiT winner: Stanislas of Blanc D'Oeuf. He checks in this month with entry #48: Cocktail Samania, celebrating the birthday of a blog friend.

Camera: Canon 400 + Sigma 105 Macro f/2.8

J of Have Fork, will Travel in the United Kingdom provides thoughtful commentary on a new cutting board and a trusted knife with entry #49: Chop Chop.

Camera: Leica C-Lux

Jerry of Cooking by the Seat of my Pants in Texas provides entry #50: Sausage Stew, the perfect antidote to a nasty mid winter tummy bug.

Camera: Canon PowerShot S3 IS, (natural lighting from sliding door + table lamp, Macro mode w/auto Exposure)

Another Australian checks in... Entry 51 is JenJen of Milk and Cookies' first foray into the tumultuous, theatrical world of the souffle: her take on Coffee and Marsala Souffle.

Camera: Canon EOS 300D

Taking a break from her month-long quest for the perfect Nutella concoction, Sarah from Ms. Adventures in Italy from -- you got it -- Italy offers entry 52, converting pizza to pasta with Homemade Pappardelle with Leeks and Gorgonzola.

Camera: Canon Powershot S230

Rachel of Fresh Approach Cooking in Los Angeles, CA invites fellow insomniacs to check out Good Food ("foodie radio heaven" on KCRW - 89.9 in LA or podcast at and shares entry 53: Dukkah.

Camera: Kodak EasyShare

Heading north on the California coast, entry 54 comes from Mary of Alpineberry in neighboring San Francisco. Mary tests her new silicon bakeware with adorable and seasonably appropriate Chocolate Brownie Hearts.

Camera: Canon Powershot A95

Brilynn of Jumbo Empanadas in Canada proves that sometimes a picture tells the whole story with Love the Pig, entry 55.

Camera: Nikon 2100 Coolpic

After an impromptu shopping spree, Piggy of Piggy's Cooking Jorunal in Singapore offers us entry #56 this luscious Lavender Lemon Pound Cake.

Camera: Canon EOS 350D

Nicole of For the Love of Food seems to be having server problems, checking in with entry #57: Italian Artichokes.

Camera: Konica Minolta DiMAGE F100

Entry #58 comes to us from Cenk of Cafe Fernando as he reminisces about his first days and his first friends in San Francisco and shares Vanskapkaka, or St. Olaf friendship cake.

Camera: Kodak P880

Swee, a Self-Proclaimed Foodaholic based in Sidney Australia celebrates the waning summer in the southern hemisphere with this charming Hollywood inspired Manise sorbet (think Bennifer... this one's a conjunction of mango and star anise), coming in with entry #59

Camera: Fuji Finepix v10

Ahn of Food Lover's Journey in Melbourne Australia celebrates a faraway friend's special day with entry #60: Lovers' Knots.

Camera: Canon 300D

Brigitte of Eine Schwabin in Fernost in Germany celebrates Thailand with an amazing array of dishes, including these Thai Nibbles, entry #61.

Camera: Canon PowerShot S3 IS

This simple yet stunning Panna Cotta al Cioccolato from Tulip of Conservare in Frigo in Rome Italy is entry #62.

Camera: Olympus SP 500 Ultra Zoom

How do you respond to a late-winter snowstorm? If you're Esther of Boxcar Kitchen in Paris France, you let others wrestle with the shovels and snowblowers, while you pull out the trusty Kitchenaid and whip up entry #63, these charming Over the Moon cookies.

Camera: Nikon D40

Returning to the States, Jennifer from Egg and Soldier in New York City succumbs to the sensuous seduction of Sambuca, providing entry #64: Chocolate Sambuca Cookies.

Camera: Canon PowerShot A710 IS

My Hungarian's a little rusty, but entry 65 -- a cup of rich, sensuous Hot Chocolate from Dora at Lila Fuge has me dreaming of rainy nights, cozy blankets and torrid love stories

Camera: Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ20

Resisting the urge to simply consume a slab of sushi-grade salmon as-is but also refusing to ruin it with the application of heat, Haalo of Cook (almost) Anything at Least Once in Melbourne Australia offers entry #66 – a Salmon and Caviar Timbale.

Camera: Nikon D50

Celebrating a successful workout with this sensational Butternut Squash Risotto, FoodBlogga Susan of southern California swears the endless stirring normally associated with risotto is overkill. Here it stands as entry #67

Camera: Canon PowerShot A95

According to Denin of Cloudberry Quark, the Lenten season in Helsinki Finland is celebrated in the snow – and followed by heart and soul-warming fare like her slow cooked Pea Soup and Shrove Buns, the latter of which she offers as entry #68.

Camera: Canon 10D (Sigma 18-50mm 1:2.8 lens)

In Michigan, Rose details her latest bout with RDS – Recurrent Dish Syndrome – and proves that great things often come out of cozy 64-Square-Foot Kitchens – including DMBLGiT entry #69, her Pretty in Pink Macaroons.

Camera: Canon SD600

Karen, the creative voice behind Cherry Leader in Australia caps off a stressful week with a bit of comfort food – this cunning Cappuccino Fudge Cheesecake, entry #70

Camera: Canon IXUS 700

Our final entry comes to us from Cookiecrumb the brilliant bum behind I'm Mad and I Eat in Marin County, CA, who sets out to prove that all winter soups AREN'T earth-toned with entry #71: Orange is Not the Only Soup.

Camera: Nikon D70

And there you have it -- 71 stunning, captivating photographs that graced the pages of food blogs around the world in February. Soups & salads, savories & sweets, from pizza to panna cotta and back again, we've seen a bit of everything. To quote an overused phrase, whose cuisine will reign supreme...?

Stay tuned for the results on Sunday April 1...

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