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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.