Thursday, September 30, 2010

The Recipe Post

At long last, here is our trout pie recipe...and a few other favorites, for good measure!


We adopted this recipe from Jamie Oliver's "jamie's dinners" cookbook. We all adore it, even the kids, and lick the platter clean. I make it in my cast iron skillet so that I can saute the onions & fennel seeds, pile the other stuff on, and send it directly into the oven without switching pans. I don't use the fennel bulb because I think the seeds are fennelly enough for me, and I've never used the anchovies, simply because I don't keep them on hand. I throw a couple of slices of whatever store-bought bread is around into my food processor for fresh breadcrumbs, and I use extra of the fresh-grated parmesan. We've only used trout, but if you search online you will read reviews where others have used salmon or haddock or whatever and had it turn out just as yummy.

Disclaimer: Not a one-pot meal, and not a great weeknight dinner (in my opinion). It would be much faster if you used a larger fish that was already filleted (like salmon) and less dishes with store-bought crumbs; my pie takes me forever to make (mainly preparing the fish) and lots of dishes (separate pot for potatoes, food processor etc) so I don't make it often because of that. But it's SO good. Jaime says to serve with plenty of lemon slices and plenty of cold beer. To that I say: hurrah! And a salad doesn't hurt either!

14 oz potatoes (we use reds), scrubbed and thinly sliced
4 T olive oil
1 clove of garlic, peeled and chopped
1 onion, peeled and sliced
1 bulb of fennel, trimmed and sliced
1 tsp of fennel seeds
4 medium or 8 small fillets of trout, pinboned
1 1/4 cups half and half
2 handfuls of freshly grated parmesan, plus extra for sprinkling
2 anchovy fillets
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
2 handfuls of fresh breadcrumbs

Preheat the oven to 400. First of all, parboil the sliced potatoes in salted boiling water for a few minutes until softened and then drain in a colander. Place an 8 inch casserole-type pan on a low heat, and add the oil, garlic, onion, fennel and fennel seeds. Cook slowly for 10 minutes with the lid on, stirring every so often.

Take the pan off the heat. Lay your trout fillets over the onion and fennel. Mix together your cream, parmesan, and anchovies, season with salt and freshly ground back pepper, and pour over the fish. Toss the potato slices in a little olive oil, salt and pepper and layer these over the top. Place in the oven for 20 minutes, sprinkling with the breadcrumbs and a little grated parmesan 5 minutes before the end.


Earlier this month we took a day off from school to acknowledge Rosh Hashanah. Every year we tend to make the same traditional foods, but this year we had some new favorites: Apple Honey Challah instead of regular challah, and our favorite roast beef recipe instead of roasted chicken...if you have never tried your hand at making challah before, this recipe is divine! It's worth a go. Justin loves challah but it is a little dry for my taste; this version is much more moist, and sweeter too, following the Rosh Hashanah tradition of eating sweet food in hopes for a sweet new year!

1 stick butter (plus some extra for the pan, bowl, etc.)
3 1/2 cups unbleached bread flour (and extra for your counter-top)
3/4 cup warm water
2/3 cup honey
2 large eggs & 3 large egg yolks
2 tsp active dry yeast
2 tsp coarse salt
1 1/2 apples peeled and cut into slices

Butter a large mixing bowl to prevent the dough from sticking to the bowl. Melt 2 TB of the butter and let it cool for a few minutes. Mix together in your greased bowl the melted butter, flour, water, 1/3 cup honey (not all of the honey!), the eggs and egg yolks, the yeast and the salt. Mix the ingredients until it comes together into a dough. Knead the dough on a floured surface for 10 minutes or until the dough looks smooth. (I did this step in my stand mixer.)

Melt 1 TB of butter and let it cool off for a few minutes. Place the dough back into your buttered mixing bowl and brush the dough with the 1 TB of melted butter. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it rise for 1.5 hours or until it doubles in volume.

Move the dough back onto your floured countertop and form it into a rectangle that is roughly 8.5″ by 14″. Place the peeled and sliced apples on top of the rectangle of dough and knead to incorporate. If pieces of apple start falling out of the dough, do not get frustrated or worry, just push it back into the dough when you put it back into the bowl for its second rise. Don’t worry if it feels or looks wet at this point! The wet dough will also pick up a bit of extra flour from your floured countertop. Put the dough back into the greased bowl and brush with another tablespoon of melted & cooled butter. Cover the bowl again and let it rise for another hour, or until it has doubled in volume again.

Butter a 9″ round cake pan. Remove the dough from the bowl and form a rope that is around 24″ long. Coil the rope into a circle and place it in the pan. Butter a piece of plastic wrap and cover the dough in the pan. Let it rise yet one more time for about 45 minutes.

Preheat the over to 375 degrees. Mix together the remaining 4 TB of butter and 1/3 cup of honey and melt it together to form a delicious glaze. Let the glaze cool for a few minutes and then brush the dough with half of the glaze. Bake the challah until it is golden brown and sounds hollow when you knock on it (the true test of whether a challah is cooked or not!). Cook 35-45 minutes. The original recipe said 35 minutes, but it was closer to 45 minutes for me. Check it after 20-30 minutes--if the top is browning too quickly, cover loosely with foil for the remainder of the cooking time.

As soon as the challah comes out from the oven, brush it with the rest of the honey & butter glaze. Let the challah cool for about 30 minutes on a wire rack and then transfer the challah out of the pan.


...and here is the roast recipe we had for the holiday--a recipe we have made dozens of times. I have one son that has been able to eat an entire steak + since his first birthday; roasts or steak are still his absolute favorite foods, but all the boys devour this one. And Justin and I think that the dipping sauce makes the meal, but the boys just have theirs with yellow mustard for dipping. Great with garlic smashed potatoes!

Roast beef:
2 T ground coriander
1 T cracked black pepper
2 tsp kosher salt
5 garlic cloves, crushed
1 3-pound sirloin tip roast

3/4 cup creamed horseradish
1/2 cup stone-ground mustard
1/4 cup white vinegar

Preheat oven to 450. To prepare roast beef, combine first 4 ingredients; rub over roast. Place roast on a broiler pan coated with cooking spray. Insert a meat thermometer into thickest portion of roast. Bake at 450 for 20 minutes.

Reduce oven temperature to 300 (do not remove roast from oven), bake an additional 40 minutes or until thermometer registers 140 (medium-rare) or desired degree of doneness. Place roast on cutting board; cover loosely with foil. Let stand 15 minutes. (Temperature of roast will increase 5 degrees upon standing.) Cut roast against grain into thin slices.

Combine sauce ingredients and serve alongside roast beef. Yum!

Sunday, September 26, 2010


Mama's quote of the day (eating a date): "I would like this better if it came in a Hershey's wrapper."

Cole's quote of the day: "Once I had a burp that was so long that while I was burping I was able to say, 'Be careful, people. Be CAREFUL!'"

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

How Many Things Are Wrong With This Sentence?

Quote of the Day:

"Mama, when you lay a baby and it's a mom, THEN you can be a mailman." --Reuben, age 4

Friday, September 10, 2010

The Most Important Thing About Motherhood

Daddy: "...and thank you for Mama, and for all the hard work she does for us, and we ask that you give her extra blessings and rest. Amen."
Reese: "Mama, you are the best mama ever."
Mama: "Thank you Reese."
Cole: "Well I think you are the BEEEST mom."
Mama: "Thank you Cole. That's sweet."
Cole: "I think that you probably are the woman that has been the nicest to me."
Mama: "Thank you, Cole."
Cole: "And you always will be the best mom to me. Even if you die and Dad marries somebody else."
Mama: "Oh, uh-huh."
Cole: "And even if she has way more surprises, and makes school way more fun, I will still think that you are the best, and nicest, mom."
Mama: "Hmm."

So there you have it, folks. For anyone that has been wondering: Apparently "niceness" wins out over surprises, and fun in school, and death. At least in this house.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Heard Around The House

Reuben, age 4, holding his arm and hopping frantically around the kitchen after whacking his elbow on the edge of the stove: "Ow! OW! Owowowowowow OW! I think I hit a nerd!"

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Back to School (for lack of a witty title)

Hello, all!

We started our new school year yesterday with a bang. Or actually, with the absence of a bang, which I prefer; often the first day of school is met with a lot of sadness/apprehension/skepticism around here. Remember our "first day" photo from last year? Cole told me the other day, "Mom, when I think about starting school, it feels like my worst nightmare. And like my best day EVER." I guess that about sums it up.

But really, can you blame them? School for boys typically means having to give up the stuff they like (playing outside) for the stuff they don't (working sums and practicing handwriting), and so I understand the apprehension...conversely, I understand that on some level they are desperately bored and hopeful that this school year will bring some wonderfully messy projects and possibly another Greek War Ship made entirely of ice cream, whipped cream and frosting (a favorite from last year!).

Oh, and I am hopeful too. I still only have one child that is legally obligated to be schooling, and a gaggle of other wee ones that want to be included, but not forced to work. Ah, the complexity of homeschool! We are also coming off of nearly 6 weeks of 'making do' while Justin has been working out of town, and we are preparing to move for the first time in nearly 7 small task for people as 'packratty' as my beloved and me. It's a bit of a whirlwind. Big shout-out to my Big Sis who brought her two ones up to add in the chaos for an overnight...and then returned for another visit a short two weeks later to help with our yard sale. B: We are ever so thankful for your help and for all the fun!

Guess that's all for now, as I've just noticed the two-year-old is sitting in front of the oven LICKING IT. Apparently a bit of parenting is required.