Goodcookbecky's Blog

Letting the juices of life (or food) drip from my chin!


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25th Ann. Cruise Part 3

In case you missed part 1 and part 2

I am writing this at 2 am because jet lag is not a kind friend… so excuse errors, I will do my best to catch them.

June 6

After another relaxing day at sea, we were in Marseille, France.  To be honest, I did not have very high expectations of this city.  And much to my surprise this city was enchanting and completely captured my heart.  The highlight of the trip was a 10 minute photo stop at Longchamp Palace and Fountains, which is now used as a museum;  the buildings and fountains are amazing! From there we stopped at Basilique Notre Dame de la Garde, where we had quite a few stairs to climb to get there. Our reward: breathtaking views of the city and port below! The tour we took was arranged through Princess Cruises and our guide Olivier was informative and helpful.  I scoured my brain to remember the few French phrases that I had learned in 9th Grade.  French people have a reputation for being aloof and uninterested in speaking English, but I found that if you smile and make an effort to speak to them that they are very accommodating.  The few phrases I knew came in handy when we ordered Nutella Crepes for lunch in the city center.  We had 20 minutes of free time and I had scoped out a little crepe shop from the bus as we passed through.  We returned to our ship and were still a little hungry so we indulged in the afternoon tea that was available on the Crown Princess.

Pictured below: day at sea, Longchamp Palace (3), Basilique Notre Dame de la Garde, Marseille,  wild poppies, enjoying Nutella crepes, a drive past an Arc the Triumph, yachts, afternoon tea on board the Crown Princess.

Next Part 4: Portofino, Italy.

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25th Anniversary Cruise Part 2

In case you missed part one.

June 4

We enjoyed a day at sea and recovering from jet lag before docking in Gibraltar.  We enjoyed exploring our ship and started to become familiar with locations of dining rooms.

Gibraltar is on the tip of Spain and part of Great Britain.  From here you can see the continent of Africa on a clear day.  The biggest tourist attraction is the Rock of Gibraltar which you will recognize from the Prudential advertisements.  On the rock are Barbary Apes.  These monkeys have been known to confiscate bags from tourists in search of food and have a reputation to sometimes climbing and even biting people.  (I have issues with Lorikeets landing on me at the San Diego zoo, so the thought of a monkey bothering me was going to cause me to need some mental health treatments.) We decided to not make ourselves a target for these thieves and took only a hidden money belt with some money and a credit card. We took the tram to the top of the rock and must to our surprise (near disappointment): No Monkeys!  We enjoyed the view of the Rock and took some pictures.  We enjoyed a cup of coffee at the restaurant and asked the waitress for recommendations of a good fish and chips place in town.  She declared Roy’s on Main Street to be the best place in town to get an authentic tasting, where we would head next.  As we were about to leave to go down the hill we saw two monkeys.  I managed to capture a picture of them not being too nice to each other and I had a healthy respect for these critters.  Gibraltar is delightfully British with classic red phone booths and authentic fish and chips.  Our time in port was pretty short and soon we would depart for Marseille, France.

Pictured: day at sea, Rock of Gibraltar, Barbary Apes, red phone booth, grave yard, and fish and chips.

Next: Part 3

 


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25th Anniversary Cruise Part 1

My husband and I celebrated our 25th Anniversary last March and we just returned from a cruise in the Mediterranean to celebrate the occasion.  We started in Barcelona and visited Gibraltar, France, Italy, Montenegro and Greece.  Because some of my family are not on social media, I decided to post some of the highlights of the trip here.

We departed from LAX on May 31st and landed in Barcelona, Spain on June 1st.  We flew with KLM and had a connecting flight in Amsterdam.  Unfortunately, there was weather delays in Amsterdam and our second flight was delayed by several hours. So instead of arriving to our hotel at 1 pm, we arrived at 4 pm.  We had purchased Parc Guell tickets for 5 pm in advance.  Of course we had to go to the Park despite our jet lag.  We hired a cab and were instantly transformed to being inside a computer game — narrow one way streets with mopeds and cars parked on both sides of the street with barely enough room for the taxi to pass did not intimidate our driver… he sped through the narrow lanes and David and I exchanged amused glances.  I felt like I was an active participant in our favorite original xbox game called Midtown Madness 2.  We enjoyed Parc Guell despite our jet lag (or at least have pictures to prove that we were there).  After an hour looking around we returned to our hotel where we collapsed into a heap on a comfortable bed to take a nap.

Pictured below: KLM flight and Parc Guell, Barcelona, Spain.

Tapas is something I researched before arriving.  We are not big fans of shellfish and snails and had studied up on some of the names of foods so we would know what we were ordering and what we wanted to avoid.  As Americans, who like to eat dinner around 5 to 6 the thought of eating after 9 pm was an adjustment.

The staff at the hotel were helpful to directing us to a good tapas restaurant a short block from the hotel after a refreshing 2 hour nap and shower.

Pictured below: Bar Velodroma where we enjoyed our tapas.  The waitress Natalia was wonderful at guiding us with our selections.  It was a lot of food, I have to admit, but we are so glad that we had this culinary experience.  We had small red peppers the were stuffed with cream cheese, local cured ham and cold cuts with toasted bread that was spread with garlic and tomato, potatoes brava (fried potatoes with two different sauces) Sandwiches with olives and Manchego cheese (locally sourced) Bomba (again fried potato with a center core of meat with sauces), croquettes and finished with Catalonian Crema for dessert.  It was a wonderful evening in Barcelona.  We fell into bed at 11:30 pm – completely stuffed and weary from travel.

Day 2:

June 2nd was the day we were to board our cruise ship.  We did not know what time the shuttle would take us to the port in advance, and we had purchased timed tickets to see the La Sagrada Familia church, but our scheduled shuttle did not allow that before embarkation.  If we ever are in Barcelona again, we will be sure to visit it then.  We did however get up early enough to grab a cab and go to the popular La Rambla shopping and tourist area.  We had heard that this area was a popular place for pick- pockets, so we took a bare minimum with us. But we really did not need to worry, as we were there early enough, that the crowds were low.  Some of the stores were still closed, but the market (Boqueria) was open and we spent a little time walking around and eating a second breakfast (this is normal in Barcelona  – the hotel had a wonderful breakfast buffet that we had taken advantage of, but we did buy ham and cheese to munch on as a mid morning snack before returning to the hotel for our cruise transfer.)

Pictured: La Rambla, Boqueria Market, Ham and cheese

Transfer to the cruise ship was at 10:30 am so we took a cab back to the hotel from La Rambla to get our bus to the port.  Embarkation was easy with little waiting.  The Crown Princess was an impressive ship that holds over 3100 passengers and 1400 crew members.

Pictured: Crown Princess (by Princess Cruises) Our cabin (A322) was a balcony room on the Aloha Deck with a comfortable bed.  We enjoyed the departure on deck with other passengers and live music. Departed port 10 pm. The end of a happy day.

Next Port: 25th Ann. Cruise Part 2: Gibraltar (part of the United Kingdom)


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Homemade Churros

IMG_8617Inspired by a photo of my daughter at Disneyland eating a nice big churro, I wanted to make them at home.  It could not be that hard right?

I spent much of this week looking through old cooking magazines that I had in a box, looking for inspiration of new recipes to try, when I came across churros in the Feb/March 2016 edition of Cook’s Country. It did not look difficult to make.  They did not turn out an inch thick though, more like half and inch thick and some of them bubbled and looked like cacti by the time they were finished cooking, but they were delicious.  My hubby, who is not normally a fan of churros, really liked these, so I guess they are a winner.

The first time I made this, I forgot to add the sugar to the water – and as I was filling the piping bag with dough, I realized this… I threw out the dough and started over.  Churros are pretty easy to make. A few tips, don’t overfill the piping bags – I had a hard time piping it with a tip on, so I just removed the tip so they did not have the fancy ridges, but they were still quite delicious – and I would make them again.  The recipe said to refrigerate them before cooking, but I found that the ones that had come back to room temperature had fried up puffier and had a better texture, so I would skip that.  Also don’t use a candy thermometer that does not have high temperatures… I overheated the oil and my thermometer broke! So, don’t do that!

So-Cal Churros

adapted from Cook’s Country Magazine (Feb/Mar 2016)

Makes 18 Churros (depending on thickness and length)

Ingredients

  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 Tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 quarts vegetable oil
  • Coating:
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon

Instructions

Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and spray liberally with a cooking spray.

In a medium pot, over medium-high heat, bring water, butter, salt, butter, and vanilla to a boil.  Turn off the burner and pull the pot off heat.  Add the 2 cups of flour and use a rubber spatula to combine the flour until there are no more white streaks of flour.  Transfer the dough to a stand mixer and beat on low for one to two minutes.  Add the eggs one at a time, mixing until it is combined before adding the second egg.  Increase speed to medium and beat for one minute.

Fill the piping bag with half of the batter and pipe 6 long logs on the  parchment lined pan, cutting the ends with kitchen scissors. Cook’s Country magazine had a step to refrigerate the dough for 15 minutes to an hour, but I think they fry up better when the dough is at room temperature.

Preheat 2 inches of oil in a heavy skillet to 375 to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Fry 3 to 6 at a time in the oil. You may need to use tongs to separate them as they fry so they don’t get stuck together.  Fry them about two to three minutes on each side before removing them to a paper towel lined plate to drain some of the fat off. Repeat with remaining churros.

In a glass pie dish or large shallow bowl, combine the half cup of sugar and 3/4 teaspoon of cinnamon.  Once the fried churros are cool enough to handle toss them in the cinnamon sugar and enjoy!

Printable Recipe

 


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Mohnflesserl – Austrian Poppy Twist

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Mohnflesserl

Growing up in Austria, I loved the fresh baked breads.  My absolute favorite was Mohnflesserl – a savory roll that had been braided and was topped with poppy seeds.  Recently I wanted to make my own at home.  I found a recipe in German and translated it into English.  Before I post the recipe, I have to share a funny story.  My mother would pronounce it Mohnfresserl – and growing up that is what I called it.  Upon my return to Austria in 2011, I landed at the airport in Linz, Austria and promptly ordered myself one, since my ride had not arrived yet.  I did not understand why the lady behind the counter was smirking.  Later I learned, I had been saying it wrong all my life – fressen means to eat like an animal would, flesserl is a braid; I laughed at myself (and my mother).  No wonder my web searches to find a recipe for Mohnfresserl gave me no results…

I realize my last blog post was in October of 2017 – life has been keeping me busy with homeschooling and a new passion for quilting. I still love to cook, so this year I hope to post a few more recipes than I did last year.

Mohnflesserl – Austrian Poppy Twist

Serves 8

translated from German by Becky Pallmann

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups warm water
  • 1 packet yeast
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon malted barley flour
  • 4 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • additional:
  • egg white
  • poppy seeds, salt, other bread topping

Instructions

Place warm water, yeast and malted barley flour (available at Amazon – get diastic type- it adds sweetness and flavor to your bread- if you cannot find it, use sugar in its place).  Add flour, and salt to the yeast and knead until it becomes one ball of dough and pieces have pulled off the sides of the bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and a towel and allow to rise for 30 minutes.

Divide into 8 sections and roll each piece out into a snake. Form into a braided twist (https://christinawaitforit.wordpress.com/2016/06/17/mohnflesserl-flechten-rezept-und-anleitung/ has a great series of pictures that illustrate how to do this.)

Preheat the oven to 450°F.

Add a little water to the remaining egg white and beat. Brush your twists with egg wash and sprinkle them with poppy seed, kosher salt or other bread topping seeds you may have on hand.

Place a pan of hot water in the bottom of your oven for steam or spray the twists with a mist of water during the baking process.

Bake at 425°F for 20 to 25 minutes.

I love these with a nice slab of butter while they are still warm.

translated from:  http://www.backenmitchristina.at/mohnflesserl/

Printable Recipe: http://goodcookbecky-printablerecipes.blogspot.com/2018/02/mohnflesserl-austrian-poppy-twist.html


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Roasted Corn and Poblano Chowder

Well, my blog has been seriously neglected lately.  I have quite a few recipes that I wanted to blog, but homeschooling has kept me quite busy.  Here is a recent recipe though, that I really wanted to get on my page.  As we move from Summer to Fall, I always enjoy getting soups into my menu planning more frequently.

 

Roasted Corn and Poblano Chowder

adapted from Cook’s Country (June/July 2016 issue)  | Serves 6-8

Ingredients:

  • 3 poblano peppers, stemmed, halved from stem to tip, seeds removed
  • 1 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • 6 ears fresh corn, kernels cut from cobs
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 slices bacon, chopped fine
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 7 cups chicken broth
  • 1 lb Yukon potatoes, peeled and diced into 1/2 inch dice
  • 1/4 cup half and half
  • 2 (6 inch) corn tortillas, cut into 1″ pieces
  • 1 Tbsp minced cilantro
  • 1 Tbsp lime juice

additionally:

  • lime wedges
  • reserved bacon bits
  • sour cream for serving, optional
  • fried tortilla strips
  • crumbled queso fresco

Instructions:

Adjust the oven rack about 6 inches from the broiler element in your oven.  Line a cookie sheet with foil, rub poblano peppers with oil and place skin side up on your cookie sheet.  Broil for 10 to 15 minutes until the skin of the peppers have blistered and browned, turning with tongs from time to time.  Remove the peppers to a bowl immediately and cover with plastic wrap to steam the skins for easy removal.

Place the corn kernels on the same pan you used for the peppers and season with a teaspoon of salt and add 1 teaspoon of oil, stirring the corn. Broil them for 10-15 minutes, stirring from time to time and until the corn is browned and tender.

Remove the skins from the poblano peppers and chop the peppers.

In a large stock pot, cook the bacon over medium heat until crispy.  Remove bacon with a slotted spoon and reserve for serving.  Add onion, 1/4 teaspoon salt to the bacon drippings.  Cook the onion, stirring frequently until the onion is tender and browned.  Add garlic and cook for 30 seconds, until fragrant.  Drain any excess bacon drippings.

Add chicken broth, potatoes, corn kernels, and 1/2 teaspoon salt.  Stir the soup, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pot.  Bring to a boil and simmer just under a boil for 20 minutes.  Test the potatoes to see if they are done – cook longer if necessary.  Off heat, add half and half.  Scoop out about 2 cups of soup to a large measuring cup along with the 2 corn tortillas that you have cut up;  use your immersion blender to blend the soup until smooth.  (Use a blender if you do not have an immersion blender)  Return the puree to the soup and add the chopped poblano peppers to the chowder.  Bring to a slight boil.  Add minced cilantro, lime juice, 3/4 teaspoon salt if necessary.

Serve with crisp bacon bits, additional cilantro, lemon wedges, sour cream and grated queso fresco if desired.

To make tortilla strips, cut some remaining corn tortillas into strips and cook them in a small frying pan in small batches and in hot oil, until the tortillas are golden brown and crispy.  Remove with a slotted spoon and season with salt immediately, draining on paper towels.  Serve them with the chowder.

 


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Sesame Chicken Egg Rolls with Hoisin Sweet and Sour Sauce

I found this lovely recipe for Sesame Egg Rolls with Sweet and Sour Sauce on the food blogger Carlsbad Cravings site.  She has some delicious looking recipes.  We especially liked the Hoisin Sweet and Sour Sauce that went with this.  It is easy to make and tasty.  The tricky part is wrapping them in the egg roll wrappers, and remember not to stack them, or they will stick together. Let’s not ask why I know this! hehe  I think next time I will add garlic to the chicken mixture.

 

Here is the recipe adapted from Carlsbad Cravings.

Sesame Chicken Egg Rolls with Hoisin Sweet and Sour Sauce

Serves 8-12 egg rolls | adapted from Carlsbad Cravings

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb boneless skinless chicken breast
  • 1 Tbsp canola oil
  • 1 bag stir fry vegetables (broccoli, carrots, snap peas, sprouts)
  • 1 1/2 cups bean sprouts (my stir fry did not include them)
  • 2 tsp chopped garlic
  • 1 red bell pepper, cut into strips
  • 1 package McCormick brand  Sesame Chicken Stir Fry Skillet Sauce (available at Target)
  • 2 tsp Sriracha or Sambal Oelek (ground chili paste)
  • salt, to taste
  • pepper, to taste

additionally:

  • egg roll wrappers
  • vegetable or canola oil for frying

FOR THE SAUCE:

  • 3 Tbsp white vinegar
  • 1 tsp cornstarch
  • 4 Tbsp Hoisin Sauce (Lee Kum brand)
  • 3 Tbsp sugar

Instructions:

Make the sauce: Dissolve the cornstarch in the white vinegar and add the Hoisin sauce and sugar to the ingredients.  Stir until well combined.  Refrigerate until serving.

Trim the chicken of any fat, slice into thin strips and lightly season with salt and pepper.  Heat 1 tablespoon of canola oil in a  non stick skillet over medium high heat and cook the chicken, stirring occasionally, for 3 or 4 minutes.  Add stir fry mix vegetables, bean sprouts, bell peppers, and garlic and cook, stirring for an additional 2 or 3 minutes.

Add McCormick’s Sesame Chicken Stir Fry Skillet Sauce, Sriracha (or Sambal Oelek) and cook for 5 minutes over low heat. Use a slotted spoon and transfer the chicken filling to a food processor. (You do not want the filling to be overly wet).  Pulse the food processor about 10 times to chop the filling, scraping down the sides about half way through.

Fill each egg roll with about 1/4 cup of the chicken filling and fold the top corner over the egg roll over the filling rolling down about 1/4 turn.  Wet the remaining three corners with a little water to help the egg roll seal.  Fold the two side corners over the filling.  Continue rolling the egg roll and seal to close the final corner.  Do not stack the egg rolls as you make them as the warm filling will cause the egg rolls to stick to one another.

Heat about 1/2 of an inch of canola oil in a cast iron skillet over medium high heat (about 350 F). Fry 4 egg rolls at a time (or as many as you can comfortably fit into the skillet) turning them over with tongs until all sides are golden brown.  Place the cooked egg rolls on a wire rack to drain any excess oil and keep warm in an oven until all the remaining egg rolls are cooked.

Serve with the Hoisin Sweet and Sour Sauce and enjoy!

Printable Recipe

Photos below.

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