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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.

coconut is delicious

So, a while ago, I left New Haven while totally forgetting I was supposed to be cat-sitting. So I had to ask another friend to do it, and as a reward, I made her cookies.  However, James stole my cookie cookbook;  so I made do with my new favourite cookie recipe from online, namely "Choconut Cookies."  I actually modified them a bit--I didn't have enough coconut, so I added in some walnuts I had lying around. They were good--added a nice texture--but it's really the coconut that makes these so dangerously addictive.

While I'm on the subject of coconut, a while ago I made banana bread, on account of I had some old bananas. And I used the recipe in How to Cook Everything, which also uses coconut! It is certifiably delicious. 

1 stick butter, softened
1.5 cups flour
.5 cup whole what flour (didn't actually have any; I think I approximated with the dry cereal again)
1 tsp salt
1.5 tsp baking powder
.75 cup sugar
2 eggs
3 ripe bananas
1 tsp vanilla
.5 cup chopped walnuts or pecans (I used both!)
.5 cup coconut

Mix together dry ingredients. Cream butted and beat in eggs and bananas. Stir into dry ingredients, just to combine. Stir in vanilla, nuts, and coconut.  Put into greased 9 by 5 loaf tin and bake at 350 for 45 to 60 minutes. Cool 15 minutes before removing from pan. 


Thursday, July 7, 2011

more salad

The easiest of our picnic salads requires some time in the fridge, but is so worth it, especially with extra garlic.

Chick-pea salad with red onion and tomato

1           can (19oz) chick-peas, drained
2 tbsp    finely chopped red onion or green onions
2           cloves garlic, minced
1           tomato, diced
1/2 cup  chopped fresh parsley
3 tbsp    olive oil
1 tbsp    lemon juice
             salt and freshly ground pepper

In salad bowl, combine all ingredients and toss. Chill for 2 hours to blend and develop flavors before serving. Taste and adjust seasoning. Makes 4 servings (about 1/2 cup each).

July salad

It is July! That means it is picnic season. Or, if you're me, actually-having-to-pack-a-lunch-to-work season. Or maybe potluck cookout season. At any rate, it is a time for salads, and I got my mother to send me our family favourites, so here they are.


This is addictive--I think it's the dill and garlic--and has lots of yummy veggies in it. Looks attractive too, although apparently I ate it before taking a photo because I can't find a picture on my computer.

3 1/2 cup  (rotini) pasta   [[The store was out of rotini when I went, so farfalle are also delicious]]
1/4 lb        snow peas or green beans
3 cups       cauliflower, in small pieces
1 cup         thinly sliced carrots
2               sweet peppers (green, red, yellow or mix), chopped
2               green onions, chopped
1/4 cup      fresh parsley 
1 tsp each  dried dill weed and either basil or origano
2               cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup      red wine vinegar
1 tbsp        granulated sugar
1/3 cup      oil
3 tbsp        water
salt and freshly ground pepper

Cook pasta.  Drain and rinse under cold water.
Blanch snow peas or green beans in boiling water for 2 minutes. Drain; rinse under cold water. Cut in 2" pieces. [[N.b. I was using those fresh snap peas and cooking them seemed a waste, but then I also dislike cooked vegetable generally.]]
In large bowl, combine cauliflower, carrots, peppers, green onions, parsley, dillweed, basil or oregano, snowpeas or beans,pasta
Dressing: In bowl, combine garlic, vinegar and sugar; mix well with whisk. Add oil and water; mix well. Pour over salad and toss to mix. Add salt and pepper to taste. Makes about 10 servings (1 cup each).

NOTE: This is so much more delicious the longer you let it sit in your fridge. 


A lot of potato salads are kind of mushy and sweet and weird; I don't like that. This one is mostly potato-y; the secret is in making a good dressing.

Potato salad

2 lbs potatoes (about 6 medium)
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
1 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
1/4 cup italian dressing (or, what I do, oil-and-vinegar dressing)*
1/2 cup mayonaise
1/2 cup chopped celery
2 hard cooked eggs, cut up.

Heat salted water to boiling. Add unpared (and washed) potatoes. Cover, cook till tender. (Betty Crocker says 30 to 35 minutes; might be a bit long. Keep an eye on them, you want them "done" but still firm enough to cut into pieces.) Cool; peel; cut into cubes. Mix with onions. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Mix with italian dressing. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. Just before serving, add mayonnaise. Toss until potatoes are well coated. Stir in celery and eggs.

* My mother cleverly does not divulge what her dressing is, exactly, but it's probably a lot like our house salad dressing, which includes a touch of Dijon and garlic. 

an odd combination

Life is full of surprises. Today I was very hungry coming home from work, owing to not having had lunch, and also had a very strange assortment of leftovers. My dinner (late lunch? Linner?) thus ended up being a tortilla with tahini, zucchini, and chutney. Surprisingly delicious!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Summer cobbler

It is strawberry season in New England, and a while ago they were selling some local pints and it was SO EXCITING I had to get some there and then. And then they were selling rhubarb too, so I got some of that, because it is likewise delicious. The obvious thing to do then was to make a delicious cobbler from a favourite recipe. Here it is (I wrote this up in an email freshman year that I am copy-pasting).

Pretty Darned Tasty Strawberry Rhubarb Cobbler (not original title)
Courtesy of the 1986 Milk calendar (this has been around a while) for the month of June.  Published by the Ontario milk marketing Board for the Saskatchewan Farmers' Dairy. Just fyi.

1 pt. strawberries, sliced
1 lb rhubarb, cut into 1" chunks (about 3.5 cups)
2 Tbsp lemon juice
2/3 cup sugar
1 tbsp butter, cut into bits
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour.
2 tsp baking powder
3 Tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp grated lemon rind
3 Tbsp uncooked oatmeal
3 Tbsp chopped walnuts (preferably toasted, it says; they taste fine without.)
1 tsp cinnamon
1/3 cup butter, cut into bits
1 cup Milk (sic)
2 Tbsp icing sugar, sifted.

1.  Preheat oven to 400F. Butter a 9"x9" baking dish. (or casserole pan)
2. Combine strawberries, rhubarb, lemon juice, sugar, and butter. Place in bottom of pan.
3.  For the topping combine flour with baking powder, sugar, lemon rind, oatmeal, nuts, and cinnamon. Cut in butter until it is in tiny bits.  Sprinkle mixture with Milk. (sic). Stir together just until a heavy batter is formed.
4. Drop batter by spoonfuls over top of the rhubarb.
5. Bake 35 to 40 minutes. Allow to cool before serving. Sprinkle with icing sugar.

Serves 6. 

Annotations are that I didn't realize until I was making it that we didn't have regular oats, just steel-cut; I replaced them with some sort of hot cereal we had lying around (another abandoned thing), which was slightly more bitter than oats, but worked. Also I omitted the icing sugar. I also had to clean out a super gross 9 by 9 pan to make this, and I SCOURED it to be white instead of brown and felt like I had CLEANING POWERS. 
Anyway, this is delicious warm, with ice cream, to ingratiate yourself to roommates; it is also good cold as a snack. Basically, it's delicious. 


A while ago, I noticed How to Cook Everything has a falafel recipe. As I have dried chickpeas, and tahini, and love falafel, I decided to try it out! Here is how it went (I made half this recipe)

1.75 cups dried chickpeas
2 cloves garlic
1 small onion
1 tsp coriander
1 Tbsp cumin
~ 1 tsp cayenne
1 cup parsley or cilantro
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/4 baking soda
1 Tbsp lemon juice
Lots o' oil.

Blended chickpea mash.
Step 1. Soak the beans in a big bowl, covered by a few inches of water, for 24 hours.
At this point the instructions tell you to put everything (except the oil) into your food processor. I do not have such a thing, and they cost more than I have. I do, however, have an aging blender; so I tried that. Here is the problem: blenders have sort of conical bowls, which is great for liquids but for solids means only the bottom stuff really gets chopped and the top stays kind of whole. if I'd thought about it, I could have done it in batches, but I didn't think to. So I ended up with a bunch of semi-processed chickpea stuff, and had to add extra water to it to blend it up. The results of this step do not really look delicious.
Frying is exciting.
3. Fryin'. I have never really fried something before, so this was exciting. You are instructed to put 2 inches of oil into a saucepan. THIS IS SO MUCH OIL. I did one inch, and that was a lot. Then, you are supposed to make little spheres from your mash. This also did not work well; in the end, I mostly got fried chickpea-matter, occasionally in coagulated lumps. (You toss them in the hot oil, and remove when brown). Then, you eat!

My evaluation is that this is a pretty time-consuming process, especially with having to poke around the chickpeas in the blender and then having to fry the non-balls three by three. I would probably not do this again soon, or at least not without a food processor. That said, the results are delicious, even if they are not as pretty as at a restaurant; there is something about things you fried freshly yourself that is hard to achieve in any other way. They were crispy and flavourful (though I would probably doctor the spices a bit on second go-round) and really rather delicious.

Mustard Curry Pork Chops

Alright, so I said I had a lot of recipes to share, but this one is coming first. It comes first because I think it may be the most delicious meal I have ever made for myself. It was SO GOOD i actually had to stop myself to leave room for dessert--and that never happens.
Basically, today's special at the grocery store was pork chops. Or a pork cut of some kind; I foolishly forgot to ask, but it looked basically chopp-y.  So I made the following meal. It took about an hour, and made my kitchen very hot. (recipes from How to Cook Everything)

1. Make chutney. This is not totally necessary, it turns out, because the meat is pretty delicious by itself; but then, so is the chutney. Your chutney will require: chopped red onion (I used about a half cup, or about an eighth of an enormous red onion); half tsp salt; 1/4 tsp pepper; dash of some sort of paprika/cayenne, etc; and 1/4 cup red wine vinegar. Put in a bowl and let sit.
2. With about half an hour to go, prepare the chops (and heat up your oven broiler. Basically, mix 1 Tbsp Dijon and 1 Tbsp curry powder (this is for two chops); rub in thoroughly. Broil. Turn over after about 5 minutes. The chops should be cooked after 15 minutes or so; let stand 10 mins before serving.
3. With about 10 minutes to go, heat up some oil in a pan and fry up one thinly sliced potato with salt, pepper, rosemary.

EAT OM NOM NOM. I would serve this to guests. I would serve this to anyone. I probably would not make it in July though.

p.s. I bided my time between steps 2 and 3 by making brownies; results still in the oven.


Alright, I don't know what all y'all are up to, but I have been cooking a LOT so I am sharing.

The first thing I'd like to mention, though, is not a recipe, but a reminder: food is a good way to hang out with people! Last week my new apartmentmates and I decided we should do something with the pizza dough hanging out in our freezer, and so we made pizza! I don't think you need to know how to make pizza, but here is a picture of the finished product: Not only was it 100 percent awesome, it was also 100 percent a cool thing to do. So if life gives you pizza dough, you should make pizza.

Among the other mysterious things in our kitchen that got abandoned during the course of many move-ins and outs is a jar of sun-dried tomatoes. I don't really know what to do with these--I made some sort of tomato-pine nut-spaghetti, but any other suggestions would be welcome.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Kale Potage Soup

Uh... I am back to my usual ways. I'm not even sure if "potage" is a word commonly used in the English language.

1 bunch kale
2 potatoes
1 onion
500 ml milk
400 ml water
2 bouillon cubes
  1. Wash and cut kale into 5-cm strips. Wash and peel potatoes, and cut into small pieces. Thinly slice the onions.
  2. Boil the vegetables in the 400 ml water until the potatoes and the kale stalks are soft. Set aside and allow to cool until no longer actively steaming.
  3. Transfer the vegetables and water into a blender (or possibly a food processor) and blend until everything is smooth. Be careful: the steam released during this process will need to be occasionally vented, kind of like a sep funnel, or else the lid will try to fly off and splatter its contents.
  4. Return the blended vegetable mixture to the pot. Use the 400 ml milk in approximately 100-ml increments to rinse out the inside of the blender, and add to the pot.
  5. Bring to a boil, then add bouillon, salt, and pepper.

❧ Cocoa Brownies ❧

So there are two out-of-the-ordinary aspects to these brownies. For one thing, I never cook from English-language recipes, or rather non-Japanese recipes, but this is adapted from Smitten Kitchen. (You'll therefore notice that for once, ingredient amounts will be given in volume instead of mass, which I actually hate.) For another, I don't repeat recipes, because one of the few New Year's resolutions I've actually been successful at trying to keep is to attempt as many different recipes as possible and post them to this cooking site. You can follow my progress here, but you won't want to. Anyway, the point is, the fact that I broke these two fundamental rules to my cooking is pretty indicative that these brownies are good.

To be completely honest, I would probably cut down on the butter and sugar if I were making these brownies for myself, but I think that's my inner Japa talking. Everyone who's had these brownies says I shouldn't mess with them.


1 1/4 sticks butter (I actually used margarine and it's fine)
1 1/4 cups sugar
3/4 + 2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
2 eggs
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup flour
  1. Allow the butter to soften at room temperature. Preheat oven to 325 F. If you are using a traditional baking pan, line the bottom and sides with parchment paper or foil. If you are improvising with a muffin pan, like me, use muffin cups or lightly grease the sides.
  2. Whisk together the butter, sugar, cocoa, and salt in a medium microwavable bowl. Microwave the bowl for 30 seconds (at 700 watts, in case you were wondering), then whisk further. Repeat until the mixture is smoothly mixed (although possibly gritty) and hot.
  3. Add the eggs one at a time, stirring vigorously after each one until the batter is thick, shiny, smooth, and well-blended.
  4. Add the flour and whisk until completely incorporated*. Continue to whisk for 40 more strokes. (This is actually not as bad as it sounds--if you whisk vigorously, it takes under a minute, and in any case you'll need to burn some calories to justify eating these brownies.)
  5. Pour batter into pan and bake for 25-30 minutes. Allow the brownies to cool before attempting to cut the brownies or to remove them from the pan. If you are using a muffin pan without liners, be warned: the brownies will break in half (under the muffin top line) if they are not completely cooled.

*I picked up this word from another English-language recipe blog. I'm kind of proud of myself but I hope I'm using it right.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

kitchen improv: white bean linguini

Kitchen Improv is where I read a recipe, in this case, this one, am missing many of the ingredients, go into the kitchen, and try to cook up something like it anyway, reconstructing the gist of what I read before.
So, I may have mentioned once upon a time that I had a lot of frozen white beans? Well, I still have some of them, and  I'm about to move, so it is time to Clean Up Frozen Things. Here is what I did.

1. Cook linguine. That part should be easy.
2. Fry up some onions and garlic in generous olive oil. I used three fat cloves of garlic and most of a small onion ("most" because part of it looked funny), but I would recommend using more, because garlic is awesome.
3. Add to this about a cup, heaping, of white beans, and a cup of chicken stock. Also salt, pepper, and a large portion of oregano.
4. Cook this down to sauce-like consistency, and mash up the beans as you go. If you are impatient and have too much liquid, which I did, you can add tomato paste--which I had, and the original recipe had sun dried tomatoes in it so I thought something tomatoey would be good. The exciting part about this is that I do not have a can opener, although I have canned goods, because it got rusty or something and my roommate threw it away. In this situation, you can still open cans by poking a hole in them with the back end of a hammer, and then cutting a hole with a knife. Tomato paste cans are a poor choice, because they are small and thus more structurally intact, and also their contents don't pour, so then you have to scoop it out spoonful by spoonful while attempting not to cut yourself on the ragged metal edges of the little hole you made. Guys, I don't recommend this course of action. Keep your rusty can openers. Anyway, add maybe half the tomato paste.
5. Serve! Add lots o' cheese.

This produces about two portions of sauce, I'd say. It needed to be slightly more vigourous in flavour, but I am not sure what it needed, so I'll go with garlic. Maybe salt, too. It was pretty delicious, but it needs beta-testing. I wouldn't make it for a dinner party, but maybe for people who were hungry and not judgmental would like it.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

baba ghanoush

Guys. I just made baba ganoush and it was SO GOOD.

Here is what I did. First, I had two little eggplants. Pro tip: in the future, I will get big eggplants, because there was not NEARLY enough of this stuff. Anyway, then I chopped it into slicesand sort of brushed them with oil and salt but APPARENTLY most people do not, they just poke holes in the eggplant. Either way you are supposed to grill the eggplant but your oven broiler works just as well! When it looks browned and squishy, remove peel, put in bowl. Avoid eating delicious roast eggplant. So good.
To mushy eggplant, add garlic (I had one HUGE clove), and a few tablespoons lemon juice and tahini. I put in a little too much tahini, but actually that is ok because tahini is delicious! Also, fun story, I went next door to my friendly local falafel-vendor-cum-middle-eastern-themed-convenience store to get some tahini  and then I asked if they sold any lemon juice and he poured me out a whole CONTAINERFUL and gave it to me for free! So that was fun.
And then salt to taste, and eat, for it is delicious!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Peanut sauce!

We already had peanut sauce on this blog a really long time ago, but today I made some myself, using the recipe in How to Cook Everything as a loose guideline. My version involved frying up some garlic and some pepper flakes, and then adding a splash of soy sauce, a pinch of brown sugar, several shakes of turmeric, the juice of an extremely aged lime, and of course peanut butter. (My motivation in making this was in part that we have several jars of peanut butter in my apartment for some reason and I decided some of it needed to go away.) I didn't have coconut milk, but I did have some dried coconut I bought at the asian market a long time ago. All that is necessary is to pout boiling water on it and let it sit about for a bit, and hey-presto, coconut milk. Though I must say it turned out rather thinner than store-bought, as did the sauce; this is probably due to the fact that I didn't measure out ratios at all.  Oh! and also you are supposed to put lemongrass in the sauce, but I had none, so I put in a bunch of ginger instead.  Anyway then you heat it all up! I put some egg noodles in it (the long kind that comes all wrapped up in a little knot--came from the same expedition as the coconut) and so I had peanut noodles. And I wish I made more because it was very good; though I think I need to experiment a little with the dashes and pinches and splashes to get it to be excellent.

Also, the various bagged items in my cupboard that I bought this winter have since inflated (well, the bags, not the items themselves). Low pressure front coming in?

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Potato Gnocchi

Since Anna needs things to read...

Earlier this week my lab held its (questionably) annual potluck. I had to feed a lot of people, stay within my imaginary budget, and use up almost two pounds of potatoes before they were overwhelmed by eyes. And so I decided to make potato gnocchi (I almost made a potato cake, but this idea was vehemently rejected by a friend).

Anyway, the process is pretty simple, although the whole process, from washing the potatoes to making the tomato sauce that went with the gnocchi, took approximately five hours. It won't take this long if you don't attempt to feed anything larger than a family, but just keep the timing in mind if you're ever inclined to try this recipe.

2 medium potatoes (~400 grams)
70g flour
1/2 tsp salt
  1. Wash the potatoes and remove any eyes or damaged parts. Boil whole, with skins, until soft.
    (I boiled for about half an hour.)
  2. Peel potatoes, and mash in a bowl until smooth.
    (This is the key part--I mashed the potatoes with the end of a rolling pin until they were the consistency of slightly lumpy mashed potatoes. I then began to knead the potatoes with my hands until all of the lumps were removed, and the starch was drawn out. By the end, the potatoes had become a sticky, uniform ball.)
  3. Add flour and salt, and mix together into a ball of dough.
  4. Pinch off a bit of the dough and roll into a small ball. Place on a flat surface, and flatten the ball with the tines of a fork. This helps the gnocchi take up the sauce after it has been cooked.
  5. Repeat, repeat, repeat!

    In case you were wondering, 960 grams of potatoes makes 150 gnocchi.

  6. Bring a pot of water (with some salt) to a boil, then add the gnocchi. Once a gnocchi floats, remove quickly from the pot and let drain in a colander.
  7. To prevent the gnocchi from sticking to each other, drizzle a very small amount of olive oil on top and mix so that they are all evenly coated.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

things that are delicious

Guys, if you are reading this, don't. Go away and make something wonderful and write about it. I want to read! Shoo!

Anyway, here are things that I made recently that were good.
The first thing is inspired by something I had at a Turkish restaurant. It was basically tzatziki, but Turks don't call it tzatziki. Anyway, to make it, you will need some yogurt (which I have lots of), and also garlic and dill and cucumber and a little salt and olive oil. I think I used about half a bowl of yogurt and about an inch of cucumber cut up small, and several smallish cloves of garlic (can you have too much garlic?) and then put in as many shakes of dill as seemed useful and then a little more than that. The olive oil is mostly to thin it, only my yogurt is already kind of runny; but olive oil is also delicious. Anyway I served this with pasta, and it was good.
The other thing I made was to use up some leftover pasta I had from the previous thing, and also some broccoli raab I have lying around (I think it's in season? but normal broccoli is supposed to work too), and taken from The Cookbook. Basically, boil the green things in a pot, and meanwhile roast up some garlic in a skillet; when the raab is done, which takes less than five minutes, take it out with a slotted spoon and dump it in the skillet. You now use the same water to boil up some pasta, while stirring around the green things (possibly with some pasta water added to them); then when the pasta is good, drain it and reserve some water, and put pasta and water into the skillet and toss with some salt and pepper and maybe some red pepper flakes. Serve with some grated Parmesan/Romano. I put in a lot of red pepper and it was good; however I suggest erring on the low side for the pasta because my rotini to not-rotini ratio was really suboptimal.

Monday, March 28, 2011

cooking everything?

So, I have previously evangelized the wonders of How to Cook Everything; I know at least a few of you have this culinary tome, also, though I don't know how many do, or whether we all have the same version (I have the red one?). Anyway, the thing with How to Cook Everything is that it makes me want to cook, well, everything, and it will probably be a very long time before I am done that. So I will describe three things I made from it this week, and then you will know if it is a delicious thing that you ought to make also, or if you ought to cook some other subset of everything! I'm being sort of lazy and not giving the full recipes, but if you really want them comment and I will transcribe. Also I forgot to take pictures. :(
RECIPE NUMBER ONE: Beans and Tomatoes (p.414, if it matters).
MY STORY. So, a while ago, I got a pound of Great Northern beans, and then I was bored and cooked them and froze them so I would have beans at my disposal. And so last weekend I decided to cook with some of them.
THE RECIPE, IN SUM: Pretty simple, really; you just make a tomato sauce with some (canned) tomatoes and shallots and things, and cook the beans in it for a bit. And serve with cheese, if you like.
EVALUATION: Man, Mark Bittman claims this is supposed to convert people to being bean-lovers, but I wasn't very excited by it, to be honest. I mean, I used water instead of stock for the sauce, which may have contributed, but still it was kind of boring. I ate it, but I wouldn't serve it to guests.
IMPROVEMENTS: So, I ended up jazzing up the leftovers a bit (since a recipe for a similar dish was just posted on a blog I read!) by adding some garlic salt, mustard powder, and brown sugar, in sort of dash-sized quantities, and baking at 375 for 45 minutes or so. This was actually  pretty good, though I was also very hungry. I approve of this change.

RECIPE NUMBER TWO: Rice Pudding (954, again, if you care)
MY STORY: Have I mentioned I have a lot of mediocre rice? I think I have. I also have brown sugar I haven't been using, because there are not enough desserts in my life. Finally, my apartment also has--for reasons I think relating to the summer sub-letter--a bottle of Captain Morgan's spiced rum. Guys, this is a really weird beverage. It smells like somebody wanted eggnog, and then decided not to bother with all the fuss of the creamy part. I do not think it would be good to drink. I figured it would be good for baking though; so I was happy to find a recipe that included all these things I had!
THE RECIPE, IN SUM: Rice pudding is pretty simple too, though it requires some babysitting. Basically, one part rice, two parts sugar, 16 parts milk, flavouring agents; bake at 300, stirring every half hour or so, until it is pudding-esque (about 1.5 or 2 hours). I was using a "butterscotch" variation, so brown sugar instead of white, and about half a stick of butter, and also the aforementioned rum and some raisins.
EVALUATION: Quite delicious, if I say so myself; and it's also good cold later; and ridiculously easy to prepare. I would make this again.

RECIPE NUMBER THREE: Chicken with Yogurt and Indian Spices (650).
MY STORY: Don't actually have much of a story, except that I got a lot of Indian spices for that palak paneer a while back and I might as well use them.
THE RECIPE, IN SUM: Essentially, frying up an onion with everything delicious* in your spice cabinet, adding yogurt to making a sauce, and then cooking a chicken in it (covered). I think part of the point of the braising process is to get it to have a nice skin, but my chicken was skinless; whatever.
 *Specifically, we are talking about salt and pepper, Tbsp garlic, Tbsp ginger, tsp each cumin, coriander, cardamom, 1/2 tsp cayenne, turmeric, cinnamon; although honestly I was making a fraction of the recipe and was basically guessing at amounts anyway, but knowing the ratios might be useful.
EVALUATION: Guys, this is so good! This is an A-plus recipe. You should totally eat it. I cooked a ginormous piece of chicken, and I ate all of it, because it was so delicious. I recommend highly.
IMPROVEMENTS: My only comment is that I am not sure how necessary the yogurt was; mine mostly curdled into little paneer-y things, which is great because I like paneer; but I am sure this could be made into just Delicious Chicken In Spices if you didn't have/couldn't eat yogurt.


Monday, February 28, 2011

The Miracle of Butternut Squash!

So... today I discovered that one can eat butternut squash seeds just as one would eat pumpkin seeds. And they taste better! Was I the only one who didn't know?

In case I wasn't, here's how you prepare them:
  1. Wash seeds thoroughly to remove any of the stringy pumpkin parts.
  2. Lay out the seeds on parchment paper laid out on a baking pan, and let air-dry for several minutes.
  3. Sprinkle with salt.
  4. Bake for 5-10 minutes at 300 F.
Harvard seriously wasted so many seeds...

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Japanese "Melon" Scones

200g flour
10g baking powder
2g salt
40g sugar
40g vegetable oil
1 egg

  1. Sift flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar together in a clean plastic bag, then add vegetable oil and egg. Knead together through the bag until everything is mixed evenly.
  2. After the dough is mixed, split into sixths and roll into balls, then flatten them slightly. Place on greased or lined baking pan. (The dough might be crumbly here--don't worry, and just do your best.)
  3. Sprinkle a little bit of sugar on top, then make slight gridlike cuts using the back of a knife, like the outside of a cantaloupe! (My dough was a little too crumbly for good cuts, as you can see from the non-melonlike appearance of my scones.)
  4. Bake for ~15 minutes at 356 F (or 180 C, for those abroad).

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Cauliflower and Potato "Salad"

This is perfect for winter, when the selection of in-season vegetables can get a little sparse... There are also no measurements really associated with this recipe, as everything can be done to taste and to the desired amount.

olive oil

  1. Wash and peel potatoes, and cut into bite-sized pieces. Separate cauliflower into small parts. If you are using actual cloves of garlic instead of garlic paste, slice the clove thinly.
  2. On low heat, cook garlic in olive oil until fragrant. Then add the potatoes and cauliflower, raising the heat to medium.
  3. Briefly stir-fry, then cover pan and let the vegetables steam-cook for several minutes. Remove lid, and add mayonnaise, mustard, salt, and pepper to taste. Continue to stir-fry until vegetables are cooked and golden brown.

By the way, as I was looking up terms for this recipe I discovered what "cauliflower ear" is. Not pleasant.

adventures with bacteria: the sequel's sequel

i have no pictures nor have I tasted it but it certainly looks yogurty.

What I did different was to follow the instructions of my family, which were:
-Heat quart milk in a saucepan until it bubble and steam rises from the surface
-Pour it in a large bowl to cool to 110 degrees or so. I think last time my milk was too hot; my brother says it should be sort of bath-temperature.
-Put 2 Tbsp starter yogurt in a small bowl and mix with a small amount of the warm milk until smooth. Last time it wasn't very smooth.
-Incorporate into big bowl a third at a time.
-Cover and leave in a warm place. This time I covered it with heavy towels instead of bath towels, and fiddled less with the oven (though I did warm it). Doing this right before bed is best, because otherwise the temptation to peer at your little microbe friends is very great.

seriously, it's pretty magical.

Friday, February 18, 2011

part the third--garam masala

Mostly I am making this post because we haven't had anything about spices recently and so I will change that.
So, I do not have any "garam masala," nor does my grocery sell anything by that name, as it is small and mostly Italian in disposition, and thus has a lot of olive oil and tomato sauce but little in the way of curry spices. How to Cook Everything has a recipe, but it relies on having a lot of spices in their original state--cardamom pods and cinnamon sticks and the like--which again is not my grocery's forte. So I just mixed some stuff together myself. When I was at the grocery getting some appropriate ground spices, I forgot whether I wanted cardamom or coriander, and so got both; this turned out to be a good thing, as both are delicious (if equally specialized).
 SO my garam masala was basically 1/4 teaspoon of each of: cinnamon; cloves; cardamom; and cumin; a shake of nutmeg and coriander; and then a little extra cumin and cardamom because it was smelling too cinnamon-y. You would think you would end up with about a teaspoon by this method, but I got about two, which is curious. Anyway, this is delicious and also to be recommended.

Palak Paneer!

So, now that I had paneer, the obvious thing to do was to make palak paneer. I really love palak paneer. In order to make it, I had to increase my spice cabinet considerably, so maybe this is not the most practical thing in the world unless you have a lot of spices lying around. If you do, it is dead easy. Basically, I synthesized a number of internet recipes  (like here and here ) and so it went something like:

This is the best picture I could take.
In a saucepan, sautée in olive oil one onion, two fat cloves of garlic, some pepper flakes, and about a half-inch chunk of grated ginger.  [I am sure technically it is supposed to be ghee, but who has ghee lying around? Not I. Also I think green pepper is more proper, but too bad. ] When this is nicely done, add a spoonful of yogurt, and some spices--turmeric, coriander, cumin, garam masala, that sort of thing (about 1.5 tsp each?) . The coriander I think is especially delicious. So now you have like a sauce thing. Add two packages of thawed frozen spinach to your pan, and a can of tomato paste. Mix! Then fry up the paneer and add that in. I tried to fry my paneer in the same pan, but it didn't work very well. It was still good though.
Look how enthusiastically I am eating! It must be good.
And there you go! Delicious curry. I would serve this to friends. I do not know if I would buy it in a restaurant, as the spicing still needed tweaking and I am not sure how. Somebody should try it and tell me. Anyway, hooray spinach, and hooray spice cabinet!

adventures with bacteria: the sequel

So, remember how I said I was going to make cottage cheese? It did not take long for me to follow up on this, because guys, I really like cottage cheese. So, according to Mark Bittman, this is dead easy. Basically, you heat up 2 parts milk to boiling-ness, add 1 part buttermilk, add salt if desired, stir around till thoroughly curdled, and drain through some cheesecloth. So I tried this--I even bought buttermilk special, although I probably could have used a lemon or something, because I wanted to go By The Book and make me some delicious cottage cheese. And the result--well, admittedly I let it drain a long time, because I had to go do laundry, so it drained for however long it takes to wash and dry and fold and come back from the laundromat. But, guys, this was not cottage cheese, or at least not by any definition I know. I took some pictures of it, so you could see for yourself, but my camera seems to have gone AWOL, so you will have to imagine it for yourselves. It was sort of oddly grainy. Edible, but not what I wanted. I later learned that maybe part of it is that commercial cottage cheese kind of re-suspends the curds in some cream, but honestly I'm not sure that was what was called for here either. It also needed salt, but that too was not the main problem. The problem was that I made ricotta, which I don't especially like, when I was promised cottage cheese. SADNESS. However, here is the upside! The upside is that this *would* make really good paneer, so I did that today, since I still have all this buttermilk. I even bought the fancier brand of milk at my grocery store for the purpose! (since the result basically tastes like milk). Basically you do exactly the same thing except you tie up your cheesecloth to make a little ball and squeeze out all the fluids, and then hang the little ball from something to make sure it is good and dry. I approve of the result of this product. It is delicious.

As a post script, I am now attempting to make yogurt, once again. We shall see what happens.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

More stewing adventures

I decided that it would be great to experiment with another starch source, and I realized that I hadn't had couscous in a long time. Of course couscous requires a nice middle-eastern style stew to go on top of it. I poked on the internet because I don't know exactly what goes into such a stew to make it differ from superficially similar Indian dishes. I found this recipe and paid some attention to it while cooking. I didn't follow the proportions of spices (though I used the ones recommended) and I put in much less varied veggies (just a few carrots, a can of chick peas and about half an eggplant). For the hot sauce I used chilli garlic as it was something I had. I also used a LOT of herbs: a consequence of not being able to get reasonably-sized bunches of herbs at stores. The most interesting difference was that I used goat instead of the lamb. This was an accident of timing: for some very strange reason the grocery store I go to had an extremely paltry amount of lamb but they were selling trays of cut up goat. I decided that this would be ideal.
I also messed with the couscous a little by putting cashews and raisins in it.
The final product turned out to be quite tasty.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

also: inverse test kitchen?

So, a while ago I made chicken stock, because I felt it would be a useful thing to have. I don't actually know what I plan to do with it, so if you have ideas, tell me.  Anyway, then I had cooked chicken, so i made fajitas! No need to really go into how to make fajitas, though I did include a zucchini and some carrot in there, which I recommend. I also made guacamole to go with the fajitas, because I was feeling extravagant and was doing groceries anyway.

mmmm burrito.
So, then I ended up with an excess of tortillas and cilantro and the like, but no avocado, so I couldn't make guacamole, and I did not wish to purchase another avocado because I was no longer feeling extravagant. Plus, it is the nachos dilemma.  So, for a while the only idea I had was to make a bunch of quesadillas with cilantro, but that is not all that exciting. THEN later I was eating chili--I have lots of chili in the freezer, though not from the same batch I posted about--and thought "what can I do to make eating chili more interesting?" And the answer, so obvious, is burritos! So I made rice, and then added cilantro, to get flavoured rice. This has the added advantage of making my somewhat lousy-quality rice less lousy. And then I heated up some chili--which is like the beans and salsa part of a burrito all in one! And I melted some cheese onto my tortilla, because I was feeling FANCY.  And then I ate a burrito. And it was good. But other ideas for the rest of my cilantro would still be welcome.

more fun with tiny life-forms: bread!

ANOTHER STORY. So, I'm at a Divinity School, and at Div School we have chapel. Not that you have to go, but they schedule classes so you are always free then and there is coffee hour afterwards, so why not. So, this one time, a few months ago, a dude gave a sermon about the loaves and the fishes and whatnot, and he gave it while kneading dough in the center of the chapel and talking about how his grandmother made bread and how he worked at a bakery and stuff. It was a pretty good talk. ANYWAY the point of my story is, after chapel everyone got a tiny baggy of sour-dough starter as like a symbolic souvenir or something. I think most people probably threw them out, but my reaction was "Sweet! Now I can make bread! AWESOME." And I took my sourdough starter and put it in a container and fed it a little bit every week, and eventually my little pet grew big and strong, by which I mean there was enough that I could do something with it, i.e. make bread. Because the thing is, I really like bread, and the other thing is that I don't feel like paying for fancy bakery bread and I don't like squishy American bread.
So, using the magic of the internet, I found a recipe for sourdough! And then I made sourdough. If you don't happen to come across some starter, as I did, you might not make sourdough, though supposedly one can make one's own starter. Or I can give you some, if you want. Or you could use regular yeast--I just got a good yeast bread recipe off my brother (who is to bread as cookie monster is to cookies) but have yet to try it because I have no yeast and I do have starter (which is basically INFINITE BREAD).
Bread after second rising.
Freshly baked bread!
Basically, making sourdough turns out to be pretty easy. First you let your starter sit on your counter for a bit, and give it is feed of flour and water, and eventually it will start to bubble. Which is kind of freaky actually, because IT'S ALIVE. Then you take two cups of the stuff and put it in a bowl, and add 2T olive oil and 2t salt and 4t sugar, and then add flour until it's doughy. Which is two or three cups, depending on your flour and your dough. [It bothers me that I can't find any big bags of flour, because making bread runs right through those little 5 lb bags and now it's gross out ad I don't want to buy more.] And you knead knead knead, until your dough is sort of flexible--like when you get the idea you could roll it out pretty thin without it breaking. This actually isn't as much work as I always thought it would be. Then, take dough, cover, put in warm place (like your oven) to rise. When it doubles, re-knead, shape into desired loaves, cover again, let rise some more, and then bake at 300 degrees for half an hour or so, until it's baked-seeming. Bread is pretty forgiving as far as I can tell.

So! I have done this I think three times now. The first time the bread had kind of a dense texture--not bad, but not what I expected. Maybe it didn't rise enough, I dunno. The next time it was picture-perfect, but I didn't take pictures. This time I made two little loaves, and froze one, and they ended up expanding out rather than up so they're a little flat. And also I tried glazing them with egg and it looks a little funny. However the bread is CERTIFIABLY DELICIOUS and good for eating.
So: Bread!

Slice of bread, with breakfast.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Carrot greens

I got my first CSA box today: beets (w/ greens), romanesco, brussels sprouts, blood oranges, and carrots (w/ greens). Part of the point of signing up for the CSA was to force myself to try cooking new vegetables, so I decided to try to use the beet greens and carrot greens. I've made a soup with kale and swiss chard before, and "How to Cook Everything" told me that beet greens are a good substitute for kale, so I decided to do that. Thankfully, I only put in one stem's worth of carrot greens, since it turns out that they are mildly poisonous. (They taste a bit like bitter parsley).

To make the soup, which is really easy:
Sautee an onion, then add garlic.
Add water/broth (5 cups), beans (2 cans, I used red and white kidney beans), and crushed red pepper.
When it boils, turn down the heat and add greens of whatever variety you like (up to about 6 cups).
Simmer for 15 minutes.

Test Kitchen #1

Guys, the Test Kitchen is a scary place. If I were you, I wouldn't go there. Seriously. I've posted a big sign. It says "Test Kitchen." If you've read this post, you know not to go there. If you haven't, it's your own fault.

Today, avocados were rapidly going soft in the Test Kitchen. No tomatoes were available, nor was lime juice, and it's very cold outside. Also, no cilantro was available, and you can only get that at a Turkish supermarket. The environs of the Test Kitchen contain no Turkish supermarket. The upshot: no guacamole.

The Test Kitchen had recently acquired a new ingredient: corn flour. Flour is magical, because when you put it with water (or other liquid, with or without sundry dry ingredients) and make it hot, it becomes a solid, edible mass. Sometimes the mass is delicious. One such delicious mass is called a pancake, and I make pancakes in the Regular Kitchen, not the Test Kitchen. That's because pancakes don't backfire; they don't let you down.

You may have guessed where this is leading: avocado pancakes. I asked the internet whether such a thing was possible; the internet told me "it is possible with bananas." No, I had no bananas. But one time I heard the phrase savoury pancake and I decided that since I had heard the phrase before it was probably something delicious. I am not in the habit of hearing non-delicious phrases, as I'm sure you know. So I whipped up some savoury pancake batter:

1 avocado, mashed
1 egg
1 shallot, minced
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup corn flour
some milk
some baking powder
some black pepper


I heated some oil in a pan, and then I put the batter in the pan, making sure to spread it pretty thin. The batter coalesced into a solid mass, which I was then able to flip.


At the end, I put sour-cream-like substance on the pancake, and ate it. It was a thing that I ate. Will I eat it again? Probably; I still have about half the batter left. Will I make it again? The flavour was curious, and I think this pancake, like most other pancakes, should have been a sweet pancake. I would, in an hour of need, attempt to make a sweet pancake out of avocados. Would I serve it to a guest? No, no I would not. I would not allow a guest into the Test Kitchen.

Rating: 4 beers out of 5 (You should drink 4 beers before attempting to enjoy this food, and only ingest it if you're still hungry afterward)

Monday, January 31, 2011

adventures with bacteria

FIRST STORY: So, I really like kind of thick yogurt. A lot of store-brands bother me, because they are weird and runny and also advertise how good they are for your digestion. I have nothing against good digestion, but I want to just eat yogurt because it's delicious and not because I am being Healthy. So, the other day I saw a brand that was just the ticket--Fage Total greek-style yogurt, made with whole milk. Sure, it was five dollars, but then everything is a little expensive in this store [side note: New Haven has no true grocery stores. Fun Fact. The place I get my groceries is a shop kind of like Broadway market only like a third the size. Actual stores like Trader Joe's or ShopRite or what-have-you are out in the boonies and hence inaccessible to carless me.] Guys, be warned: THIS IS THICK YOGURT. It was basically indistinguishable from sour cream, and while I love sour cream, it is not a breakfast food. [Fact: this school year, I have consumed at least 104 ounces of sour cream.] So, let this be a cautionary tale.

SECOND STORY: After hearing recommendations for "How to Cook Everything" from multiple independent sources, I became convinced that this was a book I needed, and, never having seen it in the flesh, ordered it off Amazon (the new, revised version). Cost me about twenty dollars, and, friends, that was money well-spent. It's pretty much the best ever. If you are the lone solitary person on this blog that has not yet gotten this wondrous book, well, you should.

COMBINATION OF ABOVE STORIES: Soooo, leafing through the cookbook I realized there is a recipe for making yogurt! Gosh, I thought, then I could make this kind of strange and overpriced yogurt go to good use! I too will make yogurt!

Making yogurt is, superficially, a pretty simple process. First you boil your milk , and then you cool it to about 110 degrees F (I discovered I had a thermometer lying around, and used it!). And then you add some room temperature yogurt. [Oddly, the internet seems to unanimously declare the rations to be 2 T yogurt to a gallon of milk, but the cookbook has 1/2 a cup.). Then you put this mixture somewhere and keep it at about 100 degrees. [Above 120 and the bacteria die; below 90 and they get drowsy and fall asleep again]. And then you wait for 6 hours at least--or a lot a lot longer--and disturb it minimally. And then you get yogurt.

SO. I don't have a nice yogurt maker or a thermos or whatever, so I wrapped the container up in some tea towels and put it in a slightly warmed oven, which I sort of reheated from time to time, nervously checking the oven thermometer.

THE RESULT. Well, I don't have any pictures, because this wasn't what you would call an unequivocal success. I don't know if maybe things got too hot or too cold by accident, or if this process just turns out funny, but my yogurt was kind of bizarre. It was really runny, with tiny yogurty lumps in places, and tasted--well, kind of like warm milk actually, even when cold. I mean, it was pretty good--I ate the whole container for breakfast--and it wasn't sour like a lot of store yogurt which I guess is a plus? (My original yogurt wasn't that sour either, which may have helped.)But it was a little strange--which is why I decided not to save some for the next batch of yogurt but decided to buy some more later, since I can't tell if I killed the happy bacteria or not. IN CONCLUSION I really want to try this again, because then I will have self-perpetuating yogurt. INFINITE YOGURT. Maybe someone else can try and tell me if it works?

I'm also planning to make cottage cheese some time. I was actually going to do this today, but you need buttermilk and the store was out of buttermilk, so it will have to be another time.

Somewhat apropos?

Sunday, January 30, 2011

YCL's future projects

Maybe we should also make "future projects" posts?  Certainly wouldn't mind your comments/suggestions.

Actual food:
  • Belgian beef carbonnade
  • Zhazhang mian--so going to happen, now that I have the sauce!!
  • Hong Kong-style pork chops (will have to ask my mom for the recipe)
  • Cantonese oxtail stew
  • Cantonese steamed fish
  • Hainanese chicken rice
  • Ants crawling up trees
  • Macanese style Portuguese chicken (going to choose from here or here)
  • A blood recipe
  • Pate (again, will ask my mom for the recipe)
  • Mousse
  • Crepes
  • Croque monsieur?
  • Quiche?
  • Quenelle?
  • Scallion pancake redo
  • Green tea froyo/ice cream--and maybe sesame
  • Various cheesecakes?  I've made cottage cheesecake, which was yummy; maybe I'd roll with ricotta this time.
Clearly I'm not a dessert person...

    They weren't as hard as rocks

    I had this notion I'd make scallion pancakes and mentioned it to my mom.  Immediately, she said, "Bad idea.  They're going to be as hard as rocks."

    My mom, by the way, is the type of chef who can make a mean paella without the cast-iron pot, schweinshaxe mostly on the basis of on one meal in Germany, duck liver pate with only pure intuition, and... I could go on.  Basically, she knows what she's talking about when it comes to food.  But hey, I got some things going for me:

    • The vast knowledge of the Internets, aka online recipes
    • Common sense
    • Derring-do or reasonable ability to improvise in the kitchen
    That said, I have some things against me:
    • There are about a million and one online recipes for scallion pancakes
    • Not enough common sense
    • Too much derring-do
    After culling the vast knowledge of the Internets, I settled on 2 cups of flour and 1 cup of boiled water
    Mix and knead; then let it rest covered for half an hour.

    Roll it out--the thinner it is, the more layers you can make.  Make sure to flour the surface.

    Lightly dust with oil and salt, and put scallions on it.
    Can you see the oil glistening from the surface?

    Roll it up.
    A little misshapen, but you get the idea.

    Coil it up like so:
    It kept uncoiling, so I had to add more water/oil--hence the glistening.

    Roll it out.

    For more layers, re-roll and coil.  I did this again, but given I don't have a rolling pin, it was a bit of a chore.  Next time, I'd do more layers.

    Final step: Frrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrry!

    Oil splatters--see what I'll do for food?

    It was definitely a lot crunchier than expected, which worried me a bit (recall the "hard as a rock" comment).  But my "scallion pancake connoisseur" friend assured me for a freshman attempt, it wasn't too bad :)

    He made the dipping sauce, too--I forget what's in it and will have to ask, but I think it was soy sauce, vinegar, and ginger powder.
    My friend with the sauce

    A close-up
    Oh silly me, I didn't post a photo of the food... j/k, just being coy.
    Om noms?
    This will happen again, and I will get it right!

    Tuesday, January 18, 2011

    Lemon-Garlic Salmon

    2 slices salmon
    2 tbsp olive oil
    2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
    1 tbsp butter
    1 tbsp soy sauce
    1 tbsp lemon juice
    1. Sprinkle salt and pepper on the salmon, then coat in a thin layer of flour.
    2. Heat olive oil in a pan, then fry (?) the salmon until golden brown and cooked fully through.
    3. When salmon is done, remove from pan. Add butter and garlic to pan, and sauté on low heat.
    4. Add soy sauce and lemon juice, and when the sauce starts to bubble, add salmon back into pan to coat with the sauce.

    Monday, January 17, 2011

    Risotto-Stuffed Acorn Squash

    1 acorn squash (or another type of small pumpkin/squash)
    150 g steamed white rice (i.e. 1 small bowl)
    1 slice bacon/thinly sliced pork
    5 button mushrooms
    2 tbsp white cooking wine (or water)
    1 slice cheese
    dried herbs, garlic, salt, pepper
    1. Cut off the top of the squash and scoop out the seeds, and the bottom of the squash so that it can stand upright.
    2. Microwave the squash for 1~2 minutes.
    3. Cut the bacon/pork and mushrooms into bite-size pieces.
    4. First stir-fry the bacon/pork, and when the oil from the meat has greased the pan, add the mushrooms, rice, and wine/water.
    5. Continue to stir-fry the risotto until the liquid has been absorbed and/or evaporated, then add herbs, salt, pepper, and garlic to taste.
    6. Stuff the microwaved squash with the risotto from step 5, and place the cheese on top.
    7. Bake in an oven or toaster oven until the squash is soft and the cheese is golden brown.