Cookie Dough Anyone?

I decided to crack open the chocolate chip cookie recipe today.  I used some of my advice on how to smooth out the flow of getting things into the mixing bowl, onto the cookie sheet, out of the oven and onto the cooling rack.

Today, the camera’s flash wanted to keep firing.  I ended up letting it fire and just covered it with my hand rather than stopping to figure it out.  Maybe later.   If you have a Kitchen Aid mixer, you have this recipe, it’s pretty straightforward.  My QC crew definitely liked the raw cookie dough so this might be the one to use for a while until I find another one or change this one after I get more experience.  Oh, we have two or three tablespoons of chocolate cookie dough left over for a snack later on tonight, or maybe for breakfast tomorrow, the QC team hasn’t decided yet.

Here are the pictures from today’s adventure…  right now I’m waiting on the oven to finish cooking a roast so I can start on a wheat bread recipe this evening.  We’re hoping to use it in our own version of Carrabba’s herb-olive dip recipe

j@s

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Clear, with a chance of meatballs

Yesterday evening I tried to make the meatball hors d’oeuvres I mentioned in a previous post, and did.  It took much longer than I thought, but that’s fine.  I stilled learned more about the Kitchen Aid and using a camera while I’m cooking.  It’s hard and something to get used to.

The ideas I came up with were to stage the ingredients and use a tripod and reposition the camera around the kitchen as things “get done” or prepared.  The tripod comes in to the picture (pun intended) for the next recipe.

The Metro Beater Blade works awesome on this stuff as well, didn’t need a spatula and clean-up was a breeze.  The meat grinding attachment doesn’t do well with fat, so trim off as much as you can before you grind it into ground beef.  Your mixer will have a much easier time and you won’t waste 15 minutes trying to clean out the die before you can even wash it.  The mixer still did an outstanding job.

My phone ended up taking the photos below and the face of the phone is quite gross as well, but it did do the trick

j@s

 

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PB&J

PB&J == Peanut Butter and John – I love peanut butter so how could I go wrong with something like baked peanut butter!

I thought I start with something simple and see what I could learn.  So I started with a peanut butter cookie recipe from the Kitchen Aid recipe book that came with my mixer.  And after reading some reading some reviews about this new whiz-bang mixing beater blade, I tried that out as well.

The recipe was straight forward but I realized quickly that organizing the ingredients before production was something I needed to figure out rather than just stacking the ingredients on the counter and adding them as I go.  So that was the first lesson.

After that, things started to flow.  Here are a few images from my adventure last night.  I did get one “hidden-mickey” out of this batch, so that was kind of cool as well but it was thanks to my large hands.  The recipe calls for 1″ balls of batter – not so simple for me so some of the cookies turned out kind of large.  I only managed to eat about 8 of these treats so the rest of them are going to work today for meetings and breaks.

The next project is some homemade meatball hors d’oeuvres and chocolate chip cookies at the same time to see how switching between two different types of recipes works out.

j@s

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Food Photography

A few months back I saw a clip on a YouTube channel I subscribed to regarding food photography.  It was another angle on composing photos in a controlled area, with a subject that doesn’t move.  Although the photographers were using quite an elaborate set for a simple place setting where the utensils were the subject of the photo and not the food, I realized that the props in the photo were given as much “focus” as the utensils were.

The plated food enhanced the need to use utensils and glassware as much as the food made the viewer hungry for the food.  There was a nice collaboration of items for this composition – clothe napkins and placemats with carefully chosen colors and patterns; plate settings which helped the food look more appealing; just the right amount of sweat on the water-glass and a subtle background and surface to frame the picture.

I’d like to think I put this much thought into my photos, but usually, I’m just shooting from the hip, and trying to capture the image in my mind’s eye of what I want my subject to say after the picture is taken.   And this all happens (for me) in the space of about 5-15 seconds.  Not long after that, the subject has moved, lighting has changed, or there’s an obstructed view.  I usually just walk into these moments and see a frame with the subject close by and start taking the photo hoping that one or two of the frames I capture are the ones that were in my mind’s eye.

This week I’ve got a bit of a break and I’m going to try my hand at cooking some recipes that I’ve been cataloging through social channels and recipe books I’ve picked up over the last few months with this in mind.  Then, I remembered the food photo shoot on YouTube – why not take the time to build up some food pics for my collection to share as well.  More in the way of lighting and composition – but also trying to create something in the kitchen worth capturing in a frame, and hopefully something that will be edible as well.

My day job has me creating technical recipes other people use and execute for a solution that provides a value to a business unit – sometimes I participate in the creation sometimes its done for me.  Now, instead of creating the recipe now, I’m trying to capture the recipe’s outcome – capture it, and then (hopefully) consume it.

I have about 9 or 10 recipes I need to create in the upcoming months at work, most from scratch – and to balance the demand of my day job I thought injecting two of my favorite hobbies into my daily mix could add some balance and forward motion to both of them.  We’ll see.

Crazy Kitchen Talk

kitchen.01I want to cook, or pick up where I left off when I used to cook for myself a lot. Most folks that cook have an arsenal of tools they use from kitchen string, to spatulas designed by NASA – well, maybe not NASA but there are a lot of pampered chefs out there – I’ll leave it at that for now.

So my arsenal consists of four new knives pictured above, and a few baking pans and skillets I’ve collected over the last few years. The skillets and bakeware I used for a dinner I cooked for my girlfriend’s nanny. She’s British and I thought I cook a “Thank you, you’re awesome!” Sunday dinner for her and her family. It turned out amazing! Their words not mine. All of the recipes I took out of a Jamie Oliver cookbook that targets British favorites his family and friends shared over the years. The recipes were wicked simple to follow and made sense for the amateur taking a whack at a full-blown three course meal for 11.

This past weekend I was shopping for the two smaller knives pictured and stopped at a store I thought would have what I needed. So, I’m standing there looking over the myriad of brands and sizes of cutlery and the knife angel shows up – not a store employee but someone on the same type of quest a few months back who, unlike me, did all of research to make an informed buy. More than I ever thought I know about metal, age, steel, handles, grips, knife duties, etc. I left with the two pictured “Cuisinart” knives pictured.

I’m not sure my “arsenal” is complete, but it’s started. I also picked up another cookbook from a book fair at a local elementary school with my girlfriend and her daughter. Simple recipes, full of flavor, that don’t need the full arsenal, but enough to get me started for sure.

One of my blog followers (Tina Schell – http://travelsandtrifles.wordpress.com/) was looking for more sparks based on a blog entry I composed about writing code; I’m hoping there won’t be to many sparks from my crazy cooking that would lead to a mishap in the kitchen. I promise to be careful. There. I’m good now. Besides, like my good friend Z says, “what’s the worst that could happen?”

j@s

Afternoon Harvest

I had some free time this afternoon so I decided to spend some time walking (and riding) around a popular theme park close to my home town. I snapped a few pictures along the way to capture some of the magic going on.

j@s

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British Lunch

Victoria.Sponge.YumMy girlfriend’s nanny is so awesome when it comes to working with kids.  She and her husband are from the UK and I thought it’d be a nice gesture to make her family a “British Lunch” this past Sunday.  Her Dad and Mum are visiting from the UK as well and I thought I’d get some pretty good feedback from them on how well it turned out.

I found Jamie Oliver’s “Jamie’s Great Britain” cookbook (http://amzn.to/qFmHSo) and used that for inspiration and guidance.  The measurement for each recipe are in American Standard which help with the metric conversions I thought I’d need to do.  So, that gives the book a few stars to begin with.

The menu.

Empire Chicken, Superb Pork Loin, King of Mash : Irish Champ, Victoria Sponge, and Welsh Cakes

Everyone ate a lot, and although the desserts were chilled to keep them somewhat fresh, everyone appeared to enjoy the food and commented nicely.  We finished up dessert with a nice tawny port, very delish!

I was really happy to do this for someone that gives so much on a daily basis, I’m looking forward to doing something like this again sometime soon too, maybe if it’s even to serve a Victoria Sponge moments after taking it out of the oven.

So much yum!

oFc