Can you judge a digital cookbook by its cover?

(Note: This is a long post.  However, there’s two recipes attached.  Good ones.  Promise.)

I know, I know.  It’s been so long.  It’s been like a whole 5 days since my last post.  I missed you too.  It’s just been one of those weeks where I haven’t had a chance to make anything new, or anything worth blogging about (sacrilege, I know).  But never fear; the magic of the chicken meatball shall return to the land soon.

In the meantime, I’m going to write a post I’ve been meaning to write for weeks now.  I got new inspiration after finding this in my Facebook feed:

Welcome to Food Month

And so begins Evernote’s Food Month, our exploration of all the many ways gastronomy and Evernote intersect. Throughout October, we will bring you user stories, videos, tips, community projects, giveaways, and tons of other great stuff all around the topic of food and Evernote.

You may be asking, “What is Evernote?”
You know what Evernote is?  A gift from God.  Quite possibly one of the greatest things to ever happen to me culinarily and it’s not even food.  It is, however, the greatest cookbook and foodie organizer I’ve ever had.  And apparently, not only are they awesome, but they’re foodies too.  That’s two different kinds of awesome right there.

So let me back up a bit.  Evernote is a service that basically provides digital notebooks for you to use.  The idea is that you can type, paste and “clip” text, images, webpages, files, etc, organize them into “notebooks,” add tags and then with a simple glance or search, all of your information is at your fingertips.  They provide both desktop versions (Mac AND PC), an online interface you can access through AND an iPhone app, all of which sync with each other, so you can access what you need wherever you are.

I’ve been using it for about a year.  I use it quite a bit for work–in my day life, I’m an instructional technology consultant for a university.  I use it to plan and keep information about various projects.  I also recommend it fairly often to other people looking for a project management software.  (I’ve tried out A LOT of those, by the way, and this is one of my faves.)  But what do I use Evernote for most?

Recipes, obviously.

Seriously, recipe keeping is one of the hardest things in the world.  I’ve tried it all—typing things into word documents (too much effort), using the “recipe boxes” offered by various recipe sites online (too scattered, have to be at a computer to retrieve them), notebooks (messy, too hard to search for things), etc.  This is the perfect solution.  So perfect I have (so far) amassed a collection of 526 recipes in Evernote…and I haven’t even begun transferring my faves from my cookbook library.

Most of the time, I use the desktop version of Evernote.  I copy recipes from sites when I find them and paste them into my recipe notebook or just clip the entire page using the handy Firefox plug-in.  I also use it for articles and food sites that I’ve found and want to remember.  When I come up with my own recipes, I just type them on it.  I copy in pictures, I tag every recipe that gets added and I’m done.  Couple of clicks and bam, there’s a new recipe in my book.

Sometimes, though, I’m not at my own computer, in which case I can use to get to all of my notebooks.  I can add recipes there, or find old ones, anything I need.

But way more often than that, I use Evernote for iPhone.  I use this almost daily to be perfectly honest.  It’s pretty common for me to be out and about and suddenly think, “OH!  I know what I should make tonight!  That recipe I downloaded a week ago that I’ve been meaning to try.”  Which is great…until you realize your car does not (yet) have access to the site where you found that recipe and so you have no idea what you need to buy for it.  UNLESS you’re me and you have your trusty iPhone handy and instead of having to remember the site you found the recipe and what the recipe was called and spend a long time staring at your little screen trying to do a search, you just open Evernote, browse through the latest notes you created or search by tag or keyword and there you go—the entire recipe at your fingertips…whether you had wifi access or not.

I also use it for grocery lists.  At the beginning of the week, I look at the online sales ads for my favorite grocery stores and make a note of the items I know I’m going to want to pick up in Evernote.  That way I always know what’s on sale and where—and it’s great.

I could go on forever about this.  I consider it life-changing.  But you can’t eat life-changing.  So to celebrate my love for Evernote and their Food Month, I will leave you with the first recipe I ever put into Evernote, and the latest one.

First Evernote Recipe
Bobby Flay’s Caramel Apple Cheesecake

8 whole graham crackers
1 cup lightly toasted walnuts, divided
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar, divided
1 tablespoon orange zest
3 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, at room temperature (recommended: Philadelphia)
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons packed light muscovado sugar
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1 large vanilla bean, seeds scraped
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 recipe Apple Mixture, recipe follows
1 recipe Apple Caramel Sauce, recipe follows

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.Place the graham crackers, 1/2 cup of the walnuts and brown sugar in a food processor and process until finely ground. With the motor running, add the butter through the feed tube and process until the mixture just comes together. Spray the bottom and side of the pan with cooking spray. Pat the mixture evenly into the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan, place on a baking sheet and bake in the oven until lightly golden brown and just set, about 8 minutes. Remove to a baking rack and let cool completely.

Combine 1/4 cup of the sugar and the orange zest in a food processor and process until combined.Place the cream cheese in the bowl of a stand fixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat until light and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the orange sugar, remaining granulated sugar, and light muscovado sugar and beat again until the sugar is incorporated and the mixture is light and fluffy. Add the eggs, 1 at a time and mix until just incorporated, scraping the sides and bottom of the bowl. Add the vanilla seeds and vanilla extract and beat until combined. Add the salt and heavy cream and mix until just combined.Scrape the mixture into the prepared pan.

Set the cheesecake pan on a large piece of heavy duty aluminum foil and fold up the sides around it. Place the cake pan in a large roasting pan. Pour hot tap water into the roasting pan until the water is about halfway up the sides of the cheesecake pan; the foil will keep the water from seeping into the cheesecake. Bake until the sides of the cake are slightly puffed and set and the center still jiggles, about 55 minutes.

Turn the heat off and prop the door open with a wooden spoon and allow the cake to cook in the water bath for 1 hour. Remove the cake to a baking rack and allow to cool to room temperature for 2 hours. Cover the cake and refrigerate for at least 4 hours and up to 24 hours until chilled through.Top with the warm apple topping, drizzle liberally with the caramel sauce and sprinkle with the remaining toasted walnuts. Serve additional sauce on the side.

Apple Mixture:
2 cups apple juice
1/4 cup granulated sugar1 vanilla bean, reserved from the cheesecake mixture
1 tablespoon cold butter
3 Granny Smith apples, peeled, seeded and thinly sliced
3 Fuji apples, peeled, seeded and thinly sliced
1/4 cup apple brandy (recommended: Calvados)

Bring apple juice, sugar and vanilla bean to a boil in a large saute pan over high heat and cook until slightly thickened and reduced to 1/2 cup. Stir in the butter until melted. Add the apples and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly caramelized and soft. Add the apple brandy and cook until reduced by 1/2. Transfer the apples to a plate and let cool slightly.

Apple-Caramel Sauce:

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/4 cup water
3/4 cup heavy cream
Pinch salt
3 tablespoons apple brandy (recommended: Calvados)
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Place sugar and water in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat (do not stir), swirling the pot occasionally to even out the color, until amber in color, 10 to 12 minutes.While the caramel is cooking. Place the heavy cream in a small pan and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Remove from heat and keep warm.When the caramel has reached the desired color, slowly whisk in the heavy cream and salt and whisk until smooth. Remove from the heat and stir in the apple brandy and vanilla extract. Keep warm.

Latest Evernote Recipe
Basil Cheese Stuffed Skirt Steak

2 lb. skirt steak
1 c. Parmesan, freshly grated
1/2 c. sharp Provolone, freshly grated
1 piece dry sourdough bread
12 lg. basil leaves
1/4 c. extra virgin olive oil
1 lg. sweet onion, chopped
1/2 c. dry red wine
28 oz. canned tomatoes, chopped
2 pinches crushed red pepper flakes
1.5 oz. assorted dried mushrooms

If the steak is thick, slice it horizontally, then open it like a book.  To make this easier, make sure the beef is slightly frozen.  Use a meat tenderizer or plastic covered rolling pin to flatten it as much as possible.  Season both sides of the beef with salt and freshly ground pepper.

To make the stuffing, pulse the dry sourdough in a food processor until fine crumbs are achieved.  There’s no need to remove crusts.  Add the grated cheese and basil, then pulse to combine well.  Cover the tenderized meat completely with the bread crumb mixture.  Tightly roll the meat from the long end and secure with kitchen twine.

In a large skillet, heat half the oil on medium high heat.  Add the beef roll browning it on all surfaces.  Remove and let sit on a large plate.

In the same skillet, heat the rest of the oil and add the onion cooking over medium heat.  Add a couple of pinches of salt and stir occasionally until the onion is softened and a caramel color, about 8 minutes.  Pour in the red wine and deglaze the pan, scraping up all the browned bits from the bottom.  Allow to cook until the wine is nearly evaporated, about 2 minutes.  Add the tomatoes and bring to a boil.  Add the dried mushrooms and dried red pepper, stirring well to hydrate the mushrooms.  Lower the heat.

Nestle the meat into the tomato sauce and spoon sauce up over the roll.  Cover the pan and cook gently until the meat is tender, about 1 hour.  Remove from the sauce when done and allow to sit for 15 minutes covered, then slice and serve with some of the sauce.

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7 thoughts on “Can you judge a digital cookbook by its cover?

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  6. Buford

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    I’m getting tired of WordPress because I’ve had problems with hackers
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    Buford recently posted..Buford

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