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Weekend Wizardry

July 5, 2015

Not all who wizard, wizard well. But we all wizard willingly.

Speaking for myself, anyway. As least as pertains to cooking wizardry.

Cooked a lot this weekend, and mostly it was fun. Usually is. Some of my efforts came out okay. One came out unintentionally crunchy. I don’t have comprehensive pictures, but I have some, so here goes:

For the Fourth of July party at the Bairs, Jim and I contributed a couple of different kinds of toasty appetizers.  So, I started by making some little toasty things–sliced baguette, sauteed in olive oil…

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Which became…

bruschetta

(bruːˈskɛtə; bruˈʃɛtə)

n

1. (Cookery) an Italian open sandwich of toasted bread topped with olive oil andtomatoes, olives, etc
[C20: from Italian bruscare, from abbrustolire to toast]
Our version had minced garlic spread on each, then a mix of chopped tomatoes, basil, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and topped with parmesan, served room temp:

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The other one had cream cheese, smoked salmon, cucumber and fresh dill:

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Both were good. Success.

The next day, was the mostly-quarterly Divine Divas. This time the theme was southwest cuisine and my thing was drinks. So I made…..

A California peach sangria–dry white wine, brandy, peach puree, sugar, limes, peaches and a sprig-o-mint. I have no pictures, but it was good and lead to immediate head swooning.

I also took these…

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Prepared them thusly…

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(that’s finely chopped, coarsely chopped and juiced)

…and made a Watermelon Aqua Fresca (just add a little sugar, if needed, and lime juice).

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I have to say, it was exceptionally good. Only modification I’d make–unless you like drinking your drinks with a spoon–would be to juice all the melon, rather than have various-sized chunks to negotiate.

The drinks went over well.

Because Madeline, who was to bring dessert, was called out of town at the last minute, I made a southwestern-y dessert, too. Chose a Dulce de Leche Rice Pudding.

Dulce de Leche can be a labor-intensive process that can easily go wrong, so it’s great that someone figured out that if you boil an unopened can of sweetened condensed milk for about three hours, you get a perfect, thick, creamy, rich, brown batch of Dulce de Leche. Which Jim says tastes exactly like the one his mom used to labor over.

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I’m not kidding. Look this up.

To make the rice pudding part, I cooked some long grain rice in a quart of whole milk with a couple of cinnamon sticks. It was supposed to be fully cooked after about 40 minutes, but I went 90 minutes and the rice was still slightly crunchy. I figured this was maybe okay, as maybe the rice would continue to cook in one of the later steps in the process. It did not. In any case, I set the crunchy rice in milk aside and proceeded to the next part…

Separated six eggs:

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Nice, white-free yolks, huh?

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The eggs got whipped together with some more milk, then blended with the crunchy-ish rice. That whole combined mixture then got heated to a very specific 160 degrees, to which was added the Dulce de Leche and some vanilla.

And that was that. Into the refrigerator for at least four hours to set up and completely chill through. It was supposed to be served with toasted slivered almonds, but I forgot them! They may have masked the crunchiness of the rice. Oh well.

I thought it tasted really good, though, and would make it again, but I would make a normal batch of rice and just add it to some hot milk that I’d heated with cinnamon.

Next time.

The rest of the food at both events was fantastic. I am apparently not going to lose any weight before going to Europe this summer. Fitting into my usual hiking and travel clothes is going to require a whole nuther kind of wizardry.

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