Monday, March 05, 2012

Pinterest Recipe Reviews

This was the weekend I decided to try the recipes I've pinned at Pinterest.

Saturday snack:

Not an unqualified success, I must say, although, since I didn't follow the directions, it isn't fair to call this recipe a failure.  You start by making your own caramel sauce, which is where things went wrong, as I mistakenly boiled the cream with the sugar.  The resulting caramel sauce tasted fine, but had the consistency of play-doh.  That done, you put two tablespoons of the sauce into a coffee cup with a pinch of good salt and two tablespoons of hot cocoa mix, which I don't have and refuse to buy. I substituted chocolate chips.  Over that you pour coffee or espresso, top with hot milk and (optional) whipped cream, drizzled with more caramel.  The drink tasted good, but was oddly thick--no doubt because I didn't follow the directions.  It's a lot of work for a cup of coffee.

Saturday dinner:  Cornish Pasties.

I bet you thought pasties were things you stick to your nipples on New Years Eve, but they are also a food.  This is not technically a recipe I found on Pinterest, but I've been meaning to try them for a long time. Fellow blogger Jenontheedge wrote about them, but I first heard of Cornish meat pasties in Bill Bryson's The Lost Continent in which he's surprised to find authentic ones at a restaurant in New Hampshire, or someplace equally unlikely.  I've been reading Good Things in England, by Florence White, a collection of old English recipes, published in 1931 and it has a recipe for these pasties.  It goes like this: Make a pie crust-- any basic pie crust will do.  In a large bowl, combine finely chopped onion, turnip, carrot, potatoes and beef (all raw).  Season with salt and pepper.  (I salted the shit out of this because it seemed awfully bland.) White's recipe called for "steak."  I used London broil because it was the cheapest cut at Whole Foods.  Divide your pie crust into four sections, roll each one out into a square, cover one half with the meat/veg mix fold over and seal the edges with a little beaten egg.  White's recipe says to use a "good" oven at first to raise the pastry, then a "moderate" oven to cook the meat.  I interpreted "good" to mean 400 degrees, and "moderate"  to be 350.  Total baking time is one hour.  The end result is dry --OK, because these aren't meant to be juicy--with an assertive meat-and-potatoes flavor.  You feel virtuous eating these, like you're an honest, simple workman taking his humble dinner that his wife slipped into his pocket before he left the house.  Jon and the kids loved them and the dogs went nearly apoplectic begging for tastes.

For dessert we had lemon and almond cake from The New York Times Cookbook.  The cake requires lemon curd.

Making lemon curd is a highly satisfactory cooking experience.  From a few basic ingredients (lemons, sugar, eggs) comes this beautiful translucent yellow pudding.  The cake batter is sticky, almondy and eggy.  You plop dollops of lemon curd over the top before you bake it and you serve the cake with whipped cream.  It was delicious.

Sunday breakfast was a pumpkin pie smoothie, one of my very first pins.

A sad disappointment.  I was supposed to use vanilla flavored almond milk and plain Greek yogurt, but what I had on hand was plain almond milk and vanilla flavored Icelandic yogurt.  I didn't think it would make much difference to switch these two ingredients, but maybe it does.  I also omitted the ice cubes because I have the only freezer in America that isn't stocked with ice.  The other ingredients are half a frozen banana, pumpkin puree, spices.  The smoothie had the consistency and flavor of wallpaper paste.  I couldn't finish it and was left with a partially-consumed can of pumpkin to deal with.

I had no choice but to make the pumpkin French toast for the kids.

This was delicious.  It's basic French toast batter with 1/4 cup of pumpkin puree, brown sugar, and pumpkin pie spices added. I will definitely make this again, and not only because I still have leftover pumpkin.

Sunday lunch:

This is supposed to be avocado/grape/brie only, confused by the fact that the recipe also calls for cream cheese, I forgot to buy the brie.  I felt the sandwich would be OK without the brie.  After all, cream cheese and avocado are both pretty rich.  For this sandwich, you take two slices of seedy-wholegrainey bread, spread one slice with grainy mustard, the other with cream cheese.  Then put on red grape halves and sliced avocado (and brie, if you're bothering).  Fry.  Eat.  The sandwich isn't bad--I was right that it doesn't need the brie--but it also isn't very exciting.  You get a little zing from the mustard but the grapes are weird.  If I were to make this again, I'd omit the grapes and find a substitute--sliced ham, for example.

Sunday dinner:  Rib roast with mushroom mashed potatoes.

Of course I know how to make mashed potatoes, but since this was a pinterest weekend, I searched there for a new recipe and decided to try the mushroom ones, since I happened to have all the ingredients (except the truffle oil, which I ignored).  These mashed potatoes are KILLER.  It's not the mushrooms that make them fabulous, it's the entire head of roasted garlic.  The secret to perfect mashed potatoes is to NOT use a potato masher, but to run them through a ricer or a Foley food mill--I got mine at a rummage sale somewhere in Michigan in the early 1990's, for making baby food, and it's been churning out perfect mashed potatoes ever since.

Foley Food Mill

It takes about three years to make a pot of mashed potatoes this way but it's worth it.  I usually add a big chunk of cream cheese--the mashed-potato secret of the Tasha Tudor Cookbook.  I ran the roasted garlic through the mill too, so it was evenly distributed.  I pronounce these mashed potatoes:  Good enough for Thanksgiving.

And now for a week of fasting.


  1. I am flattened by your industriousness! I'm making my way through about 50 dessert recipes I've collected over recent years. The only dud so far was the infamous Pinterest gumdrops. Major waste of time and ingredients. On the bonus side, my arms got a good workout trying to pry the gelatinous mass from the pans.

  2. Good grief --I think it's probably illegal to try that many new recipes in one weekend!

    I really can't imagine making a caramel sauce for a cup of coffee --that's commitment!

  3. What a weekend! I can only imagine your shopping list as you prepared for this culinary adventure. I've often wondered about some of these recipes--esp. the drink ones. Thank goodness I have you to test them and report from your kitchen!

  4. The first syllable in pasties is pronounced like the A sound in cat. So, it's not a long A like in the stick-on boob accessories. :-)

    It's very easy to over-bake the pasties. You have chop the veg and meat really small and just have faith that it will all cook completely within the allotted time.

  5. I am totally impressed! I have tons and tons of recipe pins that I haven't made (or any plans in the immediate future).

  6. Whenever we have leftover pumpkin, we toss it into chili, pancake batter, or the dog's food bowl. Pumpkin is *great* for dogs, especially ones prone to intestinal woe like our spoo.

    Those mushroom mashed potatoes look fabulous. I wish I'd seen this before today--the manbeast is allergic to mushrooms and was gone all weekend. I'd have enjoyed the mashed potatoes and then make mashed potato pancakes with the leftovers.

  7. You should definitely try the caramel sauce from OurBestBites. It's easy and goes marvelously over anything/everything. I concur that pumpkin in a smoothie is a gruesome waste of smoothie ingredients, but am resolved to throw some into french toast batter next time I have a can open. I can't wait for your next recipe marathon.