Friday, February 26, 2010

gnocchi, or, egg yolk spinach water soup.

      So I haven't written for quite some time.  My apologies.  Shall we?
      Like I've stated before, the reason for not writing is not for lack of cooking or baking.  Au contraire!  I bake, I cook.  I just get too lazy to sit down and write out a recipe.  But I'll undoubtedly end up repeating recipes in the future, as I oft do, and will write them down.  So it's not like you've missed much.  You'll have chewy chocolate chip cookies and roasted beet and goat cheese pizza and fun little salads and couscous situations.  Never fear!
      On the menu tonight: spinach and potato gnocchi.  Our CSA box came with the recipe, and it looked reasonably simple.  Steam things, mash things, mix things, boil things.  So I get home from work, and my common law comrade has already boiled and mashed the potatoes.  Hurrah!  So all I have to do is steam the spinach and mix some dry ingredients with the wet ingredients.  After steaming the spinach for probably two minutes too long, I remove it with a paper towel to squeeze dry and place it on a cutting board to chop.
      How the hell did kids ever eat cooked spinach before Popeye told them it would get them ripped?  Seriously, I took one look at it and laughed to keep from crying.  It was absurd.  And hideous.  It felt like gelatin in my hand, even with a paper towel wrapped around it to soak up the water. So after I dried it and played with it for a bit (made mini mountains, shaped it into Gumby...), I chopped and mixed it with everything else.  Rolled the dough out into little fingers, cut it into bite-size pieces, and put it in the pot to boil.  The recipe didn't give me an estimate for how long it would take the gnocchi to cook, just "when they rise to the surface, remove them from the pot with a strainer".  Easy enough.

      Except for as soon as the gnocchi hit the water, it turned milky and I couldn't see anything through the bubbles.  I thought I saw a rogue gnocchi or two come to the surface, but since none of the others breached, I assumed that convection was just doing its thing.  Four minutes later and no gnocchi, I decided to venture in with a strainer.  When I pulled the strainer up, all I got were pieces of spinach and bits of dough.  I turned the heat off to investigate, and this is what I saw.

      So I poured the egg yolk spinach water soup out of the pot, filled a wine glass with the rest of our Cabernet Sauvignon, and had a think.  My roommate suggested that it was the pot, since I followed the recipe (that's right.  I actually followed it.  Not that there were a lot of shortcuts I could take.), so I should try another one.  I filled another pot with water, brought it to a boil, and dropped the first 20 gnocchi in.  30 seconds, if that, later, they popped to the surface and we scooped them out.  Success!  Ish!
      Taste test survey said they were not as flour-y as traditional gnocchi, so we added more flour.  That more or less did the trick.  In the future, I think I'll add up to a 1/4 cup more or so of flour, and more salt to the water.  I'll include the recipe with the presumably better updates.

Spinach and Potato Gnocchi, more or less followed from Recipezaar
      Prep time: 15 min
      Cook time: 5 min, max, to cook all of the gnocchi
      Total time:
      Serves: 4
  • Ingredients:

    • 1 lb spinach, steamed until wilted (this doesn't take that long. honestly. i'd say 2 min max), squeezed dry and chopped
    • 2 1/2 lb potatos, boiled, peeled and hand mashed
    • 1/4 tsp salt
    • 5 quarts boiling water
    • 2 egg yolks
    • 2 T grated parmesan cheese
    • 1/3 cup flour
    • 3 T salt
    • 2 tablespoons soy sauce

  • Directions:

    1. Add the three tablespoons of salt to the five quarts of water and bring to a boil.
    2. Put spinach, potatoes, egg yolks, parmesan cheese, salt and flour in a large bowl and mix with a wooden spoon or by hand. What usually ends up happening with me is that I use a wooden spoon for a bit then get frustrated/childish and end up using my hands until everything's incorporated.
    3. Pull off chunks of dough and, on a floured board,(whoops. I just realized that I didn't flour the board beforehand. So you should probably do that, as well as use the recommended amount of flour) roll into finger-thin ropes. Cut into 1 inch pieces and drop 20 at a time into boiling water.
    4. After 20 - 30 seconds, they'll start to pop up. You've got 10 seconds to get them out of the water and into a strainer before they dissolve and destroy your life.
    5. If you're fancy, you'll make a sauce with 1/4 c butter and 4 T parmesan cheese.

Friday, November 20, 2009

please to yease

      I know. I'm sorry. In my defense, I'm still learning to balance/stick to the routine, ANY routine, that is post-grad life. I'll be crazy busy for periods of time, then when I'm NOT busy, the last thing I want to do is be on a computer (unless it entails watching Glee or YouTubing confused boxer puppies).

      However, after yet ANOTHER bout of the cold (Kids: our worst enemy. Cute and unassuming on the outside, but supercarriers of all sorts of ailments on the inside), I've decided that today's the day that I start being proactive about things. This means sticking to my jump-roping-while-listening-to-side-2-of-The-Best-Of-Sam-Cooke-on-vinyl routine, eating my fruits and veggies, getting a decent amount of sleep, figuring out an efficient, albeit relatively stress-free routine for getting ready for work, and KEEPING UP WITH THIS FOOD BLOG. I promised food, and I haven't been delivering as much as I should be. Because Lord knows I've been cookin'. And the recipes will come, mind you. I've decided that I will update on the weekends. Perhaps Friday night, perhaps Saturday night. Regardless, I am promising myself, and my reader(s? Are there more than one of you?), a recipe each week.

      We shall begin with this night's endeavor. I learned about mac and yease earlier in the summer, and had experienced the Manna That Is Otherwise Known As Hillside Quickies' Mac and Yease, but I was a little hesitant to try it. Vegetarian, culinarily (did I just make up a word?) creative friends had spoken about trying multiple recipes to get the right "taste". But when it comes to simple, unadulterated mac and cheese, is there truly a "right" taste? I mean, Country Crock tastes different from Kraft, which tastes different from Annie's. Regardless, they're all pretty scrumptious. With this all-inclusive attitude, I decided to try basic mac and yease. No crazy seasonings, no questionable sauteed vegetables, just nutritional yeast, water, flour, and a little bit of spice. The result? NOM. Nomalicious, even. Nomtastic. Let me warn you: it's not going to taste like mac and cheese as you know it. Doesn't mean it won't be delicious. It's a good, creamy, mildly cheesy sauce. Next time, I think I'm going to try soy milk instead of water, and maybe add in some chopped, sauteed yellow onion. I'll keep you posted. Until then, I don't think you'll be disappointed with this recipe.

First Timer's Mac and Yease, adapted from Rootielicious
      Prep time: 5 min, max
      Cook time: 15 min
      Total time: Do yer g*ddamn math.
      Serves: 2 very hungry roommates.
  • Ingredients:

    • huge f*ckin' package of penne, macaroni, what have you. you'll still have leftover sauce, and then some.
    • 1/2 cup margarine
    • 1/2 cup flour
    • 1 cup nutritional yeast
    • 3 1/2 cups boiling water
    • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
    • 1 pinch turmeric root
    • 1 pinch cayenne pepper
    • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
    • 1 tablespoon mustard

  • Directions:

    1. Boil 4 quarts of water in a pot, then add pasta. I also add in a pinch of salt and a drizzle of olive oil for taste and to make sure it doesn't congeal once it's cooling.
    2. Set the timer for the pasta and get started on the sauce. You'll begin by melting the margarine, then whisking in the flour until smooth and bubbly.
    3. Whisk in the boiling water. Add the salt, turmeric, cayenne pepper, soy sauce and mustard. Keep whisking until the mixture thickens and begins to bubble.
    4. Add the nutritional yeast. Whisk until smooth. Your pasta should be ready to go by this point, so drain and let cool for a few minutes while you let the sauce simmer (read: low heat. No more bubbles.).
    5. Transfer pasta back to original pot, pour sauce over pasta, mix and NOM.

  • Monday, October 19, 2009

    playing catchup...

          ...seems to be the constant with the blog.  One day, I'll take pictures and update on a regular basis. Ohhh my.

          Here's what I need to write about:

    • snickerdoodles
    • pizza
    • basil-parmesan risotto, revisited
    • chocolate chip cookies (oh yes. ohhh yes.)

    Monday, October 12, 2009


          I'm doing quite poorly at keeping this thing updated on the regular. It's not like I haven't been cooking. I've been cooking. I just have been really lazy after work. Glee and knitting > writing. Sometimes. But here I am, on yet another sick day (I know , right? At least I'm getting hit with all of this at one time. Getting it over with.) and I looked at the list of things I've made and haven't written about. Yikes.

          So for some of these, I'll write out the recipe. For others, I'll just include the link, which means that I followed it verbatim. Bear with me.

          Last week, I made chocolate babka, which, as you can see, is essentially cinnamon chocolate bread. And holy crap, did it deliver. I did this on my own, which I wouldn't recommend unless A. you like, nay, seek out challenges (whyyy are you pointing your fingers at me? Why?), or B. you have a humongous kitchen. By humongous, I mean anything bigger than the size of a bathtub (which is my situation, but thus the basis of the apartment's appeal. Welcome to the Lilliputian World of Leilani.) The innards of the loaf were my favorite part: moist, dangerously chocolatey, and the amount of cinnamon called for in the recipe was perfect. Not just a hint, but not a slap in the face. The recipe yielded three loaves, as promised. One of which I baked at my friend Blair's house, another which I gave to the family I nanny, and the last of which I baked with Nichole. Forrr the win.

          I made pizza early last week, from scratch. I'd never attempted homemade crust but my dad worked on his for years until he was told that he could not longer eat gluten products and banished to the land of sorghum and rice flour. I followed Deb's recipe for the crust and threw on a minced garlic and olive oil sauce, crumbled goat cheese, golden beets (I just rinsed, peeled and chopped them. No further preparation needed), chopped white onions, and chopped parsley. Mmm. Yeah, by the end of that pizza, I had decided that the crust recipe was going to be my failsafe.

          Until I tried this! Holy! Crap! Since the crust was on the sweeter side (not sweet enough to be a dessert pizza, but definitely fancier than the failsafe), I decided to try the golden beets again (we had a LOT in our CSA box) over goat cheese, and a sprinkle of nutmeg. I recently received The Flavor Bible in the mail and has been a blessing. Seriously. The best is that it's not a cookbook. It looks at culinary theory, flavor pairings, etc. Culinary experimenter's dream! So they told me that beets go well with nutmeg. And you know what? They do. This was a good simple, but still unique, pizza.

          Halfway through this post, I realized that I wasn't going to actually write out any recipes. So just... trust me on the links I posted. They're phenomenal.

          Saturday's baking endeavor was devil's food cupcakes with raspberries and ganache. Oh yes. I know. These cupcakes are sin. It, first off, took me roughly 6 hours, including letting-things-cool time, to make these. Second, I stuck with just two ganaches (raspberry ganache inside: 8 oz raspberry preserves, 8 oz chopped semisweet chocolate, 8 oz heavy whipping cream, plain ganache on top: 8 oz chopped semisweet chocolate, 10 oz heavy whipping cream), and it worked. And they are decadent. I could eat maybe one. I baked the batch for a five-person birthday (eaaaarly birthday... but I wanted to coordinate some sort of get together involving Soul Night, and Soul Night just so happens to fall two and a half weeks before my actual birthday) cupcake-champagne-dance party. Of the 18 that I made, 5 remained by the end of the night. Hurray for ganache and raspberries! As long as it took to make these, it wasn't that difficult. You rinse the raspberries, bake the devil's food cupcakes, let them cool for an hour or so, prepare the raspberry ganache, cut out the middle (this scared me the most initially, but it was actually the most fun part), scoop a tablespoon of raspberry ganache into the center, fill a raspberry with the ganache, put it opening-down into the cupcake, scoop another tablespoonful and a little more over it, close, let cool for another hour, prepare the plain ganache, decorate. Nothing too crazy. Overall, a special occasion cupcake for sure.

    Monday, October 5, 2009

    that little lightbulb in my head is turning on...

          IDEA: white wine and honey pizza crust with golden beets, goat cheese and a sprinklin' of nutmeg. Will tailor, attempt, and report back as soon as possible.

          For now, I'm using Deb's really simple homemade pizza recipe to make some golden beet - chopped parsley - white onion - goat cheese on a minced garlic and olive oil base situation. Basically just got home from job 2, took everything in my fridge and went WHAM. We'll see how it goes.

          Oh and I made chocolate babka. Recipe courtesy of Martha Stewart. Will discuss in depth at a later time. For now all I want to do is knit while I wait for the dough to rise.

    Sunday, October 4, 2009

    well well well.

          I once thought that strep was one of those ailments that was reserved for ten year olds who sneezed on everything and used their unwashed-after-using-the-restroom hands to channel-flip between Hannah Montana and Degrassi. Alas, I discovered that it could be passed from said ten year olds to their more hygiene-conscious twenty-two year old nannies. I shrugged it off as a mere cold on Thursday. Gargled salt water with a pinch of baking soda, nursed echinacea tea, and napped frequently. By the time I woke up on Friday, my tonsils had grown big enough to become full fledged speech impediments. I kid you not; I was the (not-so-)happy parent of the oral equivalent of ten pound twin humans. I went to the doctor, and he actually cringed and shrugged when he handed me the lab printout. I spent the contagious part of strep in bed, bidding for Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark book sets on eBay and browsing Etsy for dandelion-embossed stationery. After 24 hours of taking antibiotics, $30 spent online on shit I probably won't need in the long run, and one and a half knitting projects underway, I was ready to celebrate not being contagious by COOKING!

          I decided to make risotto, since I hadn't made it in over a year. I have a good saffron risotto recipe, but decided on basil-parmesan with brown rice. I think risotto is made with strictly arborio, but what the hell. You never know until you try, right?

          I almost choked after the first bite. I looked at the bouillon-to-water ratio; I had followed it. But why was it so salty?? I hadn't added more than 1/4 teaspoon of salt. I guess the bouillon was strong. Looking at the nutritional facts, if one cube has 50% of one's DNV of sodium... and one cube is to be used with two cups of water, but I needed four cups of water, so I put in two cubes... You can do the math.

          Small dinner party to commence tomorrow. I'm going to try risotto again, this time with only one cube of buillon, and maybe I'll go get arborio. 'Tis the season for risotto, anyway. Below is what I'm assuming will be a good, simple risotto recipe. Will include updates post-secondary endeavor.

    Basil-Parmesan Risotto
    • Ingredients:
      • 28 oz chicken stock (I would use one cube buillon to four cups water, then just don't add the last ladle or two of stock)
      • 1 tablespoon oil
      • 1/2 onion, diced
      • 1 cup rice
      • 1 cup marsala cooking wine
      • 1 tablespoon basil
      • 1 tablespoon butter
      • 1/4 cup Parmesan
    • Directions:
      1. Put chicken stock in a medium sauce pan over low heat. Pour oil into another medium saucepan and place over medium heat for one minute.
      2. Stir onions in pan with oil for three minutes or until translucent. Add rice and cooking wine. Lower heat to simmer.
      3. Once almost all of the liquid in the rice-onion-wine mixture is gone, start adding the chicken stock while stirring frequently. Add two ladlefuls at a time, and make sure that almost all of the liquid is gone before doling out more stock.
      4. Add basil when you've ladled in half of the chicken stock. Once you have used up all of the stock (save for a ladle or two, since you've made 32 oz of stock and only need 28 oz), turn off the heat and mix in the butter. Once the butter has completely melted and is mixed in, stir in the cheese and let cool, covered, for two minutes.

    Sunday, September 27, 2009

    in the words of john c. mellencamp... it hurts so good

          Have you ever had one of those afternoons, days, where, for no particular reason, you're just not in the mood to take orders or follow directions? Where you get home from work and just want to watch cartoons in your Def Leppard concert tee and elephant butt boxers while eating something you made but don't the energy to do so because you rival Hexxus in his gelatinous form from Fern Gully?

    courtesy of deviantART. Rawrrr.

          It was one of those late afternoons. I spent a chunk of this sunny, sunny Seattle day outside with one of the girls I nanny. I took her for a bike ride, made wishes while I blew out dandelions for her, and cooed at adorable dogs while she giggled. By the time I got home, I was ready to veg. Lay like broccoli. But I had to figure out dinner first, you see. In case you didn't already know that I had a one track mind. Food. Eat. How. When. I originally had decided on some grilled chicken on rosemary couscous situation. However, I remembered that I had eggs and goat cheese in the fridge. And that there was a BUNCH of spinach that I needed to get rid of. So, I decided to make a quiche. And yes, I know that I just made one a few days ago.

          Now, I'm a pretty stubborn person. When I'm set on something, I'm set on something, even if it's doomed to fail. Looking at Martha Stewart's pate brisee recipe, I knew that I didn't have the patience to chill the dough. Not even for twenty minutes. Prep time was probably fifteen minutes. I melted the butter on the stove. I threw all of the filling ingredients into the bowl and used the electric mixer for just enough time to smooth everything out. I was huuungry! And my hunger knows no standard culinary practices or common sense! I put the concoction in the oven and set the timer, mentally preparing myself for brown rice for dinner as punishment for not following a recipe and, therefore, damning the dish from the start.

          But something happened. Something... wonderful. When the timer went off, I peered in the oven and saw a golden crust and solid filling. So I had the first part down: it looked edible. Appetizing, even. I waited ten minutes for it to cool, then cut it into four giant pieces. I served myself a slice and took a bite. Holy shit. It worked. It. Actually. Worked. The crust was flaky, there was just enough spinach and onion, and the mix of parmesan and goat cheese was seamless, creamy, scrumptious. I ate half of the quiche. Yes, you read that right. Half. Of the quiche. On my own. I would like to think that, if my roommate hadn't had left for an overnight camping trip, she would have partook in this shameless display of gluttony. Alas, it is just me, lying quietly on our brocade print couch, trying to move as little as possible so as not to disturb the food baby.

          DISCLAIMER: I am including the recipe as I followed it. And I was a very lazy baker today. I'm almost positive that every other baker will tell you that the dough needs to be chilled, and that ingredients should be incorporated in a certain order. However, the quiche was pretty damn tasty. So either way, I think that you are safe.

    Spinach Quiche
    • Martha Stewart's Pate Brisee:

      • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
      • 1 stick butter, melted
      • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
      • 1/2 teaspoon salt
      • 2 tablespoons water

    • Filling Ingredients:

      • 1/3 cup milk
      • 1/3 cup goat cheese
      • 3 eggs
      • 1/3 cup parmesan cheese
      • 1/2 white onion, peeled and diced
      • 1 1/3 cups spinach, chopped semi-finely (Is that even a baking term? Details, Details.)
      • 1/4 teaspoon salt

    • Directions:

      1. You'll be making the dough first. Mix the dry ingredients first, then incorporate butter and water. Knead until smooth.
      2. Lightly oil a 9" pie tin. Mold dough into tin. I didn't roll it out, just... stuck pieces in and flattened as I went along. It won't reach the top edges; that's okay. You'll be making just enough filling to leave a little crust. Place in refrigerator while working on filling.
      3. Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Chop up spinach and onion if you haven't already done so.
      4. Cream eggs, milk and goat cheese until smooth. Add salt. Throw in spinach and onions; mix well. Incorporate parmesan. At this point, I blended it with an electric mixer for about 15 - 20 seconds to make sure everything was mixed evenly.
      5. Take crust out of refrigerator and pour filling in. Place on the middle rack of the oven and bake for 30 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes. Eat.