Wednesday, April 16, 2008
Pretty, isn't it? Well, it didn't taste very good. I can't figure out if it was the beets or the fact that I used fat-free feta cheese, but it just didn't work for me. It was a salad with romaine lettuce, red cabbage, candied walnuts, feta cheese, beets and an orange vinaigrette.
It's kind of fitting for this post, because I wanted to ramble a little about where I want this blog to go and if I even need to place rules on it. The problem is that when I came up with this idea, I thought that food blogs had to have original, delicious recipes, gorgeous photos and/or witty humor in every post. This leaves me being hyper-critical of what I have posted and my potential ideas. This is just not gonna fly if I want to post more than once or twice a month.
So I'm going to try and be more open and willing to post whatever the heck I want. There's no rules here, just the ones that I place on myself.
So there's my crappy salad. Deal with it.
Just kidding. If you're actually reading this, you rock.
Thursday, March 20, 2008
I remember stumbling upon a store that had all imported Japanese products in it when I was in college. It was like a window into my past. Nowadays my local grocery store sells things like Pocky and Nishiki Rice. Recently I discovered that they also sell Golden Curry. My mother used to make this for my family when we lived in Japan and I love making it today. It is as much a comfort food to me as mac and cheese and mashed potatoes.
There is no recipe for me to post here. It's all on the back of the box. If you can't find this in your local grocery store, than look for your nearest Japanese grocer. I used chicken, potatoes, onions and acorn squash with this incarnation. You can add whatever you want to it. You just sweat the onions, throw everything else to the pot and add water. At the end you add the cubes of the Golden Curry and it thickens right up. The taste is very distinct, curries from different countries do taste somewhat different.
I hope to have more posts about the 5 years I spent overseas as a child. It's so distant, both by time and geography, but it's the old photos and memories of the food that remain. One day I may be able to go back, but for now I'll just try and find the food that brings me back.
Monday, March 10, 2008
I'm not sure what to write about these amazing cookies. They were delicious, chewy, deeply flavored and gone very quickly. If I had any complaints it would be that they were a touch too greasy. However, when brown butter is one of the star ingredients, I guess greasiness is hard to avoid. The cookies taste butterscotch-y and almost chocolatey, which threw me for a loop. How can something with no chocolate in it taste chocolatey? I'm thinking it's the burnt milk-solids in the brown butter along with the molasses in the brown sugar that make them so dark and rich.
The recipe can be found here if you have an online membership to America's Test Kitchen/Cooks Illustrated.
If you don't have a membership, then I apologize because I don't know if it's right to post the recipe when they want you to pay for it. My conscience says no so I will leave it out. But if you're considering paying the 4 bucks for it, I would say these cookies are worth it.
***EDIT*** the recipe can be found online here for free, and with only one very minor adaptation.
Now I just have to fight the urge to make four more batches and sit on the kitchen floor with Ian (my husband) drooling, shoving cookies in our mouths and snarling at the cat.
Friday, March 7, 2008
Ugly, ain't he? This also shows some problems I'm having with photo-editing. I have a fancy new computer and monitor and I just can't seem to get the color right. I could drop over $300 to get some calibrating software, but instead I'll just complain about it here. I've been experimenting with converting NEF files and I am not liking the resulting web image. Oh well, I'll figure it out eventually.
The goblin pie didn't taste horrible, just a little bland and off-flavor. It was probably a combination of the apples I used and fiddling with the recipe. I won't go into it because it's just not necessary, and you really don't want to bother making that pie. However, it makes me want to go one step further and make a slimy green oozy pie that looks disgusting and tastes delicious. I am completely in favor of playing with food, so hopefully there with be a new and improved goblin pie in the future.
So, what do we do with bad apples?
We throw them in the pit, yarrrrr!!
(Maybe it's just me, but I think this looks like slimy appendages trying to escape from a pastry prison.. just in case you're sitting there scratching your head and thinking I'm insane. Who knows, you may be right.)
Sunday, March 2, 2008
I was seeking some inspiration, and after staring blankly at my moniter for several hours, I grabbed Madhur Jaffrey's Quick and Easy Indian Cooking and paged through it. I was looking for something simple and tasty and decided to make "The Most Delicious Meat Cubes" and "Spinach with Ginger and Green Chilies". Well, it turned out to be less than simple as I had to make four stops at different grocery stores, It also took a really long time because I don't have a pressure cooker. It was very tasty though.
I'm not sure what the ethics are with food blogging. If you don't modify the recipe at all is it okay to type out a recipe from a book? Or is it better to just link to the book and summarize the recipe. I have seen it both ways I think. Anyone want to weigh in on that? Please comment if you have an informed opinion. For now I think I'll just summarize, just in case.
The meat cubes consisted of cubed pork shoulder that was slowly cooked with ginger, garlic, curry leaves, garam masala, turmeric, cayenne pepper and green chili with a squirt of lemon at the end.
The spinach had ginger and green chilies in it of course, with added garam masala, sugar and cayenne pepper.
I bought some frozen naan at my local Indian grocery store and kind of made a sandwich with everything. I actually thought that the meat and spinach tasted better together on the bread than they did individually. Definitely something to consider for lunches on the go if I can just figure out how to contain it better.
Tuesday, February 19, 2008
Well I gotta say that this dish has it. I'm not even a huge fan of olives, but I think it's that ingredient that provides the umami. If you hate olives you may still hate this dish. But if you're trying to insert more vegeterian dishes into your diet, this is well worth a try.
Greek Potato Stew
(adapted from this recipe)
2 1/2 pounds potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
3 Tblsp olive oil
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup pitted kalamata olives, coarsely chopped
2 cups chopped tomatoes, fresh or canned (reserve juices)
1/4 cup vermouth, or more to taste
1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
salt and pepper to taste
feta cheese, crumbled
In a large saute pan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the potatoes and stir. Stir in the garlic. Add the olives, cook and stir for several minutes. Stir in the tomatoes, vermouth, and oregano. If you need more liquid, add more vermouth or use the reserved tomato juices. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 30 minutes or until potatoes are cooked through. Season to taste with salt and pepper and add more reserved tomato juice if needed. Serve with parsley and feta cheese.
(For breakfast the next day, I served the leftovers with a couple fried eggs, and it was delicious!)
Wednesday, February 13, 2008
Well, I failed at the deep red and the oozing part. The raw batter was a nice shade of red, but turned brown with a hint of red when they were cooked. The cakes were pretty tasty, but this was my first time trying to make a lava cake. After the prescribed amount of time, I unmolded one and it just gushed carnage all over the plate, So then I overcompensated and cooked the rest until the centers were mostly cooked. Ah well. They looked pretty in the ramekins.
Heres' the recipe I concocted, though I'm not sure how succesful it was.
Bleeding Heart Lava Cakes
(adapted from Epicurious)
3 1/2 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
3 ounces white chocolate, chopped
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
Pinch of salt
1 1/2 teaspoons of buttermilk powder
Red food coloring (a whole lot of it)
4 large egg yolks
4 tablespoons sugar
2 large egg whites
Fold in chocolate mixture. Using electric mixer fitted with clean, dry beaters, beat egg whites and 1 tablespoon sugar in medium bowl until stiff but not dry. Gently fold whites into chocolate mixture in 3 additions. Divide batter among prepared cups.
Place custard cups on baking sheet. Bake until cakes are puffed but still soft in center, about 11 minutes. (mine were undercooked at 11 minutes and overcooked at around 20 minutes) Transfer baking sheet to rack; cool cakes 1 minute.
Using small knife, cut around sides of cakes to loosen. Place plates on top of cups. Invert cakes onto plates; remove cups. Top with whipped cream or ice cream if desired.
In the end, they were pretty tasty, although I think the white chocolate actually took away from the overall chocolaty experience. They also puffed up a lot, and I'm not sure if lava cakes are supposed to do that. Unfortunately, the name no longer applies when they are sitting in the ramekin, no lava flow in sight. But it's such a cool name, I'm keeping it! Maybe I'll try it again some time.
Sunday, February 10, 2008
Korma can be made in several different ways, but I just purchased Madhur Jaffrey's Quick and Easy Indian Cooking and was eager to give her quick version a whirl. I adapted it slightly to fit the tools and ingredients I had available, and to lower the fat just a touch. I also reduced the whole spices a bit because they were a little too strong for me. As a matter of fact, I thought this tasted much better the next day. The spices had incorporated and mellowed out a lot.
Quick Chicken Korma (Murgh Korma)
(adapted slightly from Madhur Jaffrey's Quick and Easy Indian Cooking
1 1/2 piece fresh ginger, peeled and coarsely chopped
5 to 6 cloves garlic, crushed*
4 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 dried bay leaves
2-inch stick cinnamon
6 cardamom pods
3 whole cloves
1/4 teaspoon black cumin seeds (or ordinary cumin seeds)
1 medium onion, peeled and diced
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1 tablespoon ground cumin
3 canned plum tomatoes, chopped
1 1/2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breast, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
3/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
3 tablespoons 2% greek style yogurt
Mash the ginger, garlic, and 3 tablespoons water with a mortar and pestle until it is relatively smooth and incorporated. Put oil in a wide saute pan over high heat. When it starts to smoke, put in the bay leaves, cinnamon, cardamom pods, cloves and cumin seeds. Stir once or twice and put in the onion. Stir and fry for about 3 minutes or until the onion starts to brown. Put in the garlic/ginger paste, and the ground coriander and ground cumin and fry for a minute. Put in the chopped tomatoes and fry for another minute. Put in the chicken, cayenne, salt and 1 cup of water. Bring to a boil. Cover, turn the heat to medium and cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove the cover, add the cream and yogurt, and cook on high while stirring gently for another 7 to 8 minutes or until the sauce has thickened
I served it over rice and the verdict was highly favorable. I am going to tweak it further next time so it is more diet friendly and so that the spices suit my palate a little more. I'm sure that all the korma I've had in Indian restaurants is made differently and with a ton more fat, but I am going to keep trying until I have a reasonable facsimile that keeps me from running to the nearest Indian restaurant, spending too much money and eating way way too much in one sitting.
* I just bought this garlic press and it rules! You don't even need to peel the cloves first.
Friday, February 1, 2008
All musing aside, I love pizza and I'm always trying to figure out a way to feel less guilty indulging in it. That's why I was so excited when I found ready-made whole wheat pizza dough for sale at Trader Joes. I picked up a jar of their pizza sauce and nice log of mozzarella cheese. Now, don't get on my case for buying ready made items please! I'm sure that one day I will attempt to make healthy and delicious pizza from scratch, but I figured that this would be a nice simple way to wade into pizza-making.
I don't really have a recipe to offer you, except for the topping. I really wanted to make a healthier version of a pepperoni pizza, and after wading through the salted meats, I found that prosciutto had the least amount of fat and calories per serving. I took the prosciutto and layed it out on a cooling rack fitted inside a baking sheet. Then I baked it for around 20-30 minutes at 450 degrees until it was dark and crispy. I tell you, it tasted almost exactly like pepperoni! Not to mention that the flavor was so strong that I didn't even end up using it all. (You'll notice that a quarter of the pizza is missing the topping. That's because I was feeding a friend of mine who doesn't eat beef or pork products.)
The results? Well, frankly I wasn't crazy about the crust. It had the same tang to it that white whole wheat flour gives to baked goods. It doesn't seem to bother everyone, but I definitely notice it. Otherwise, the cheese and sauce were delicious and almost made up for the funny tasting crust. Maybe I'll just have to forego the whole grains and give the white flour crust a try.
Thursday, January 24, 2008
My husband hates Ina Garten. Every time I have her show on, he does this great impression of her. He thinks she only lives to serve her husband Jeffrey, while he's off frequenting strip clubs on his "business trips". Personally I like her, her food looks and tastes great and she seems pretty happy. So, we will disagree about this topic, but I can't help but giggle at the thought of my 6'8" bearded husband with a bobbed brunette wig, gushing about Jeffrey in a falsetto voice.
Ina Garten's Butternut Squash Risotto
1 butternut squash (2 pounds)
2 tablespoons olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter
2 ounces pancetta, diced
1/2 cup minced shallots (2 large)
1 1/2 cups Arborio rice (10 ounces)
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 teaspoon saffron threads
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Peel the butternut squash, remove the seeds, and cut it into 3/4-inch cubes. You should have about 6 cups. Place the squash on a sheet pan and toss it with the olive oil, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Roast for 25 to 30 minutes, tossing once, until very tender. Set aside.
Meanwhile, heat the chicken stock in a small covered saucepan. Leave it on low heat to simmer.
In a heavy-bottomed pot or Dutch oven, melt the butter and saute the pancetta and shallots on medium-low heat for 10 minutes, until the shallots are translucent but not browned. Add the rice and stir to coat the grains with butter. Add the wine and cook for 2 minutes. Add 2 full ladles of stock to the rice plus the saffron, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Stir, and simmer until the stock is absorbed, 5 to 10 minutes. Continue to add the stock, 2 ladles at a time, stirring every few minutes. Each time, cook until the mixture seems a little dry, then add more stock. Continue until the rice is cooked through, but still al dente, about 30 minutes total. Off the heat, add the roasted squash cubes and Parmesan. Mix well and serve.Yummmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.
Tuesday, January 22, 2008
White chocolate brownies.. Can this be done, I thought? Would the chocolate gods strike me down? Would they even retain any brownie-ness without the.. well, without the brown?
Honestly, I can't say that they really scream brownies. But they're screamingly good. (Okay, I know you're all groaning right now, but my inner cheesiness has got to release itself once in a while.)
I had a feeling that the brownies would need an accompaniment because they are presented with hazelnut ice cream in the book. For lack of an ice-cream maker and for the love of color, I decided to make a raspberry sauce. It turns out that the brownies really needed that sauce. Without it they were still tasty, but lacked an edge.
White Chocolate Brownies
(from "The New Texas Cuisine" by Stephan Pyles)
1 c. Flour
1/4 tsp. salt
2 large eggs
1/2 c. sugar
12 oz. white chocolate, coarsely chopped
8 Tblsp. unsalted butter, melted
1 tsp vanilla or half a vanilla bean
1 cup toasted hazelnuts, chopped
Preheat the oven t 350F. Butter and flour a 9 x9 baking pan. Sift together the flour and salt, and set aside.
In a mixing bowl, beat the eggs at high speed until frothy. Gradually add the sugar, and beat for about 3 minutes, until thick and pale. In a double boiler, melt 7 ounces of the chocolate and gently fold into the egg mixture. Add the melted butter and vanilla, and stir well; the mixture may appear curdled. Add the flour and salt, and mix thoroughly. Fold in the remaining 5 ounces of chocolate and hazelnuts. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 20 minutes, until a toothpick or skewer inserted comes out not-quite clean. (I ended up baking mine for more like 30-40 minutes, so I guess the time will vary depending on the oven used.) Let cool in the pan and cut into squares. (I cut mine into 9 squares, even though the recipe said it would make 20 brownies. No need to be a brownie tease.)
1 c. fresh raspberries
10 oz. frozen raspberries
2 Tblsp. sugar
1 Tblsp. lemon juice
Blend ingredients together in a food processor and then strain out the seeds in a fine mesh strainer. I also put a big glug of Frangelico liquor in it to mirror the hazelnuts in the brownie.
*Edit of sudden inspiration: This would be insanely good with some white chocolate ice cream to turn it into a non-brown brownie sundae.
So what do you think, guys? Is this a travesty, or is it pure unadulterated deliciousness that cannot be bogged down with issues of cocoa butter versus cocoa solids?
Thursday, January 17, 2008
After many years of dieting, lifestyle changes, and "I'll just eat healthier and eat less" resolutions, I have learned to embrace tex-mex. It's very flavorful and easily adapted to be low-fat. It can also often be made as a one-dish meal. This tamale casserole is packed with vegetables and fiber. I managed to get away with using a minimal amount of meat and it still tasted absolutely delicious. It can be easily made without meat or with a meat substitute as well.
Well, I'm still battling my fat demons, but at least I learned to cook along the way. And frankly, this blog has been great for curbing my snacking. It's kind of ironic that staring at photographs of food all day has helped me in this way. I guess that thinking about food all day is satisfying the gluttonous part of me.
(this is a franken-recipe, created from Cook's Illustrated Skillet Tamale Pie, and Bergy's Hot Tamale Casserole from Recipezaar)
1 Large onion, minced
1/2 large red pepper, chopped
2 Tblsp. chili powder
2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground allspice
2 Tblsp. ground cumin
3 medium cloves garlic, minced
1 jalapeno, minced
9 oz. shredded cooked chicken
1 15.5 oz. can black beans, drained
1 14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes with chiles, drained slightly
1lb. frozen corn
2 oz. cheddar cheese, shredded
2 Tblsp. fresh cilantro, minced
pepper to taste
3/4 c all-purpose flour (3 3/4 oz)
3/4 c yellow cornmeal (3 3/4 oz)
3 Tblsp. sugar
3/4 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. baking soda
3/4 tsp. salt
1 c buttermilk
1 large egg
2 oz. cheddar cheese, shredded
1 jalapeno, diced
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Pre-heat a skillet over medium heat and coat with cooking spray. Add the onion, red pepper, chili powder, salt and cumin and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and jalapeno and cook another 30 seconds to a minute. Stir in the shredded chicken, black beans, diced tomatoes and frozen corn and cook until heated through. Stir in the cheddar and cilantro and season to taste.
Meanwhile, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt together in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk the buttermilk and egg together. Stir the buttermilk mixture into the flour mixture until combined.
Spoon the filling into a medium casserole dish (2-3 qt.) and then spread the cornbread batter evenly over the top. Sprinkle the remaining cheese and minced jalapeno over the batter and bake in the oven uncovered for 25-30 minutes. The cornbread topping should be cooked through and golden brown.
Tuesday, January 15, 2008
After trying for a little while to come up with a witty following statement, I have decided to just get on with the entry. I am much more inclined to express myself visually than with words. I suppose this could be a tricky, since the best food blogs have amusing anecdotes or revelations in addition to photography. I can only hope that my writing skills will improve with practice... or that my photos will inspire such a reaction that you don't even notice the words surrounding them. Witty enough for you yet?
There's no set in stone recipe here. Basically, you want to oil and season your meat while pre-heating a stainless steel skillet or saute pan on Medium High. I'm sure many of you know this, but the secret to a great sear is to lay down the meat and then leave it alone. I know how tempting it is to play pretend-chef and beat your food to within an inch of it's former life with your tongs and wooden spoon, but seriously... Don't. Once the sear has reached maximum deliciousness the steak should release from the pan. Basically, if you can't pick it up easily it isn't done.
While the meat is resting, assemble your salad however you like. I used romaine lettuce, raw red pepper and some leftover blanched asparagus. The following is the recipe for the dressing. I adapted it slightly from "All About Salad & Dressings", a Joy of Cooking cookbook.
Process the following in a blender or food processor until smooth, scraping down the sides with a spatula as needed:
4 oz. Feta Cheese, crumbled
1/4 c. Red Wine Vinegar
1 tsp. Minced Fresh Oregano
Salt and Pepper to taste
With the machine running, slowly pour through the feed tube and process until smooth:
2 Tblsp. extra-virgin olive oil.
Taste and adjust the seasonings*. Use immediately or cover and refrigerate.
* After I had seared the steak, I deglazed the pan with some white wine and poured the reduced liquid in with the dressing along with the drippings from the rested meat. I can't stand wasting even a drop of flavor.
This salad was very filling, and the dressing went well with the steak and red peppers. The dressing is very tangy, so be mindful of that when you choose alternative toppings.
Sunday, January 13, 2008
After spending countless hours obsessively reading food blogs and drooling, I have come to a few realizations. One, I spend too much time sitting on my butt and staring at a monitor. Two, I love food. Three, I should get off said butt and create something worth staring at and drooling over.
Cherry Tomato, Asparagus and Chevre Frittata
(adapted from The America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook)
Salt and pepper to taste
1 Tbsp Olive Oil
8oz. Asparagus, cut into 1/4 in. pieces
2 oz. Chevre (goat cheese)
9 or 1o Cherry Tomatoes, halved
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Whisk together the eggs, salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a 10-inch nonstick ovenproof skillet. Add the asparagus and cook until desired doneness. (I like mine slightly crunchy which takes about 5 minutes) Add the eggs and stir gently until the eggs on the bottom are set and firm, about 30 seconds. Dot the chevre and cherry tomato halves around the pan. Pull the cooked eggs back from one edge of the skillet and tilt the pan, allowing any uncooked egg to run to the cleared edge of the skillet. Be careful not to disturb the fillings too much. Repeat this process until the egg on top is mostly set but still moist. Transfer the skillet to the oven and bake until the frittata top is set and dry to the touch, anywhere from 3 to 10 minutes depending on your oven. Run a spatula around the skillet edge to loosen the frittata and slide it out onto a serving plate. Serve warm, at room temperature or chilled.