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Sunday, September 11, 2011


Does anybody follow this on Google reader, or something like that? If so, do you get deleted posts to the feed? Blogger keeps getting confused (or rather, not notifying me of its intentions in an obvious way) about what I am writing where, so things I blog on my writing-about-church-music blog keep popping up here by mistake, which is probably kind of weird for everybody (and actually kind of weird for me too, because I don't intend people to be reading about the effectiveness of chapel services when they were expecting a cookie recipe. Not that you're not welcome to read my blog, if you're interested in that sort of thing.) Anyway, uh, kind of embarrassed now. Like the time I was using gmail to draft some half-thought out responses to a house thread and discovered that tab-return can cause you to send it! That was bad. Anyway I am bad at things.

Friday, September 9, 2011

mushroom risotto

The first time I had risotto, I had no idea what it was. i was at the time (and here my prep school is showing) on a school trip to the Metropolitan Opera, which included lunch at the Met restaurant--which was for me at that time one of the fancier places I'd ever been to. I ordered the special, somewhat on a whim, and was a bit surprised to have it come in a bowl rather than a glamourous plate--a bowl of rice and peas and button mushrooms and baby onions and veal, all tied together with what I thought was gravy. It was rich and creamy and utterly delectable as well as utterly filling, so that I spent a rather long time pecking at it for the sake of my tastebuds even while my stomach told me I was done. Eventually I was told I had to stop, because I was preventing everyone else from getting dessert; and since we had an opera to go to, I couldn't very well box the remainder, and it went away. I think I recall this singular meal much better than the opera.

I hadn't thought about that dish much since; but today in the grocery store I happened to spy a box of arborio-style rice and thought "What *is* risotto? I should try to make it!". So I bought it.
Here is how one makes risotto (2 portions)
Fry up a smallish onion in a large skillet, or a saucepan. When it is soft, put in 3/4 cup of risotto rice and stir it about for a few minutes until nicely coated. Add a 1/2 cup white wine, if you have any, or water if you don't (I didn't), and let it evaporate. Then, add some chicken stock, a half cup at a time. Every time it is close to being evaporated, add another half cup; I went through about 2 cups of stock in all. This part takes about 20 minutes. Meanwhile, fry up some mushrooms (I had 4 regular white ones), or whatever you like really, in a skillet, until nicely browned. When your rice is nice and al dente, toss in the mushrooms and their oil, and stir! Add something like a quarter cup or more of parmesan cheese and serve.
When I sat down to enjoy this, I thought--wait, I've had this before! I mean, I'm sure I have had risotto other times as well, in restaurants or whatever; but as I munched on the mushroomy creamy goodness in my deep black bowl I suddenly realized what it was that was on special that time in high school...

So, in conclusion: The investment here is some good short-grain rice, though if you happen to be near Italian-themed groceries this is actually not a prohibitive expense. You also need to have a lot of stock of some sort handy; I'm now almost out and need to make some more. On the other hand, it's not hard, it's both delicious and filling, and can be made with infinite variations; plus I hear it's good cold for lunch...

Saturday, July 16, 2011


Let me start by saying that I am not a fan of vichyssoise or gazpacho. It's not that I don't like soup--I love it, actually--but rather that I believe soup should be hot. However, a few weeks ago, I came upon this recipe during an oppressively hot week, and as I had tofu that needed to be used, I decided to give this a go.

Right now you're probably wondering why on earth tofu would be relevant, and thinking that this recipe is probably too weird for you to try.

However, it was amazing.

Ingredients (serves 2)
1/2 (pack? block?) silken tofu
1/2 onion
1/2 cup milk
1 consommé cube OR 1 tsp powdered consommé
  1. Thinly slice onions, and place them in a pot with water and consommé. Cook until onions are translucent.
  2. Let ➀ cool to room temperature, then combine it and tofu in a blender. Mix until smooth, then add milk.
  3. Salt and pepper to taste, then chill in refrigerator* and garnish with parsley before serving.

*I actually had this soup while still sort of warm and the rest after it had been chilled. Both are very good, so you don't necessarily have to wait...

Friday, July 15, 2011


This is the end of my big splurge of posts, I promise.

Basically, stroganoff is my favourite meal. Each of my siblings has a food that they get when they are leaving on vacation/back to school/etc; my middle brother gets pie, my younger brother gets mac and cheese, and I get stroganoff. So, when I noticed a recipe in How to Cook Everything that said it was "good, in spite of the bad versions you've had", my interest was piqued. This is the recipe:

Beef Stroganoff (p. 739)

3 T butter
2 large onions, sliced
Salt and pepper
8 oz mushrooms, trimmed and sliced (optional)
1.5-2 lb beef tenderloin or sirloin, cut into 1 inch chunks
1 T Dijon mustard
2 plum tomatoes (fresh or canned), or .5 cup good tomato sauce (optional)
1 cup beef or chicken stock
.5 cup sour cream
Chopped fresh dill or parsley, for garnish

Melt butter in a skillet with a lid or Dutch oven over medium heat. [unclear why you need the lid, since you aren't directed to cover it at any point]. When butter is melted, add onions with a sprinkling of salt and pepper, and the mushrooms if you're using them. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are very soft but not browned. Add the beef and cook, stirring, for just a minute. 
Stir in the mustard, tomatoes if using, and the stock. Adjust heat so the mixture bubbles steadily but not violently and cook till beef is teder, about 5 minutes. [At this point you can refrigerate the sauce for up to a day before continuing.] Stir in the sour cream, taste and adjust seasoning, garnish, and serve.

Now, I made this a while ago (in the spring), so I don't remember it too well; but it was disappointing, is what. Maybe my stock wasn't too great, or what, but it was merely a beef stew.  I was unconvinced! No, give me my delicious, salty-Campbell's-soup-filled, Betty Crocker recipe! Which I made the other day, and it was good. One flaw of this recipe is that the sour cream tends to separate if you don't eat it all right away; so I stored it without the sour cream, and then thawed and added dollops of sour cream later. This worked pretty well, I'd say. Also I happened not to have canned mushrooms and their delicious rubberiness, and was forced to use fresh ones--the horror. 


Browning meat. mm.
It's more delicious than it looks, I promise.
With sour cream!
-1 lb lean ground beef
-1 medium onion, chopped
-salt, pepper, garlic (to taste)
-1 can mushrooms
-1 can condensed cream of chicken soup
-1 cup sour cream
-some reasonable amount of parsley


Brown meat and chopped onion. (I believe in the original this is done in butter, but there's really no need.) Drain smushrooms and add some seasoning--I think there's a clove of garlic or two in there, but I can't remember rightly. Cook 5 mins. Thicken with some flour. Add  the can o' soup (in its concentrated glory).  Simmer about 10 mins. Dump in the sour cream and heat through. Add some parsley on top and serve over egg  noodles.


While I'm on the dessert topic, what constitutes the Ultimate Brownie? I was trying to get rid of some cream cheese the other day, and so made cream cheese brownies (which is like making regular brownies, only you also pour in a second batter of 4 oz cream cheese, 1/2 cup sugar, and one egg). They were good, but I am not sure the sweet gooey brownie is really my favourite. Dense, nutty, maybe with a fudgy topping...but then, there are many opinions on brownies.

key lime pie

This recipe begins with tea. This year, I've been ordering a lot of tea ; I must have sampled at least 60 kinds of tea by now. Anyway, on my last shipment, they sent me a free tea that was supposed to be good ice tea; so I made it, but it was VERY strong. And I thought, you know what would make this delicious? Condensed milk. So I mixed the tea with condensed milk, and it was good.

However, I soon ran out of tea, but still had most of a can of condensed milk left over. i also had, through an accident of who-was-buying-which-groceries, a vast number of eggs. Thus signs were favourable that I ought to make some PIE.
The pie recipe itself came (if I have my story right) from a genuine Floridian, by way of my brother; he was on a choir tour in those parts, and so admired the pie that his host sent along the recipe. Here it is:

Separate 4 eggs. Blend yolks with 1 14 oz can sweetened condensed milk. Add 3 oz (that's 6 Tbsp) lime (or lemon) juice, a little at a time; blend till smooth. Pour into a graham cracker crust.  Whip the eggs whites and top pie; bake at 350 for 10 minutes until pie is set and whites are lightly browed. Chill and serve.

The recipe notes you can also not bother with the separating and instead top the pie with whipped cream: pfft! Anyway, my pie turned out pretty goopy. I thought maybe it was not baked long enough, but apparently there is controversy as to whether you are even supposed to bake the pie at all, so I'm guessing that's not it. I did had less than the full amount of condensed milk; also my kitchen was hot as blazes. I think I just didn't let it set long enough. It was still good though. But it wasn't attractive for pictures.

rice salad.

This next recipe starts with a can of fish. A while ago, I got really excited by Bar Harbor and decided I was going to try ALL THEIR FLAVOURS. So I ended up purchasing a whole bunch of cans of herring, in various sorts of preparations; and I have slowly been consuming these when I am feeling too lazy to do anything much beyond opening a can and acquiring nutrition. So I did just that, recently; but the cans are pretty bug, and I only ate half. So I used the other half for SALAD (more salad!) that I adapted from How to Cook Everything.  It is dead easy, and pretty delicious. You want to cook up a cup of rice; then add 1 Tbsp garlic, 1/4 cup red onion, fishies (it has 2 to 4 anchovy fillets, but I used herring), and 1 cup tomatoes. I  didn't have tomatoes, except for the sun-dried kind; so I used about 4 of those.  Then add 1/4 to 1/2 a cup of your favourite vinaigrette--mine was sort of mustard-y with a bit of sour cream for thickness, but do whatever you like. 1/2 a tsp dried rosemary and 1/2 a cup Parmesan seal the deal; mix it up and add salt and pepper as desired!

I forgot to take a picture again. Boo, me.