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.

    Friday, September 25, 2009

    adventures with butter and an attack of the midnight munchies

          Shortly before hearing Gwenyth Bassetti rave about baking as almost an art form, I decided to stop taking baking shortcuts and bask in each part of the process.  I was off to a good start: allowing butter to soften to room temperature, only peeking in the oven every ten seconds minutes so as to prevent heat from escaping, and mixing things by hand when I could.  I smiled to myself while baking those oatmeal cookies, hair pulled back, flour dusting my nose, and Johnny Flynn crooning from my iPod. I had finally learned how to exhibit patience in the kitchen!

          Or so I thought. Then came yesterday, when I decided to bake a quiche for a small dinner get-together. I had taken the butter out of the fridge before I had left to run errands, assuming that it needed to be softened for the dough. I got back about an hour and a half before everyone was supposed to arrive, actually read the directions this time around instead of skimming over them, and realized that I was not only supposed to have left the butter in the fridge, but the dough was supposed to be chilled for an hour prior to baking. Whoops.

          So, I did what any determined person does without a get-a-grip-glass-of-wine: I decided to abandon my no shortcuts rule and just run with it. Earlier in the day, I decided to mix these two recipes. I basically made the pate brisee from the leek and mushroom quiche, chilled it for, ohhh, twenty minutes, flattened it by hand into a pie pan (I have no tart pan. I know. Galette and quiche without a tart pan? What the hell kind of baker am I?), trimmed the edges, and mixed the spinach and leek and mushroom filling recipes. Basically, leek and mushroom quiche with goat cheese and parmesan sprinkled on top. And ohhh man. It worked! Definitely a recipe to hold on to and keep tweaking.

          After we demolished the quiche,(and two bottles of wine, split between four people) we wandered over to a dangerously-close-to-my-apartment frozen custard joint and gorged ourselves yet again. After stumbling back to my bed, I slept for a few hours before I woke up, bright eyed and ready to go, at 4am. I know. I don't know what the hell happened, either. All I know is that I wanted french toast, and I wanted it bad. So, I made myself french toast. I don't know where I found this one, but it's very simple: a couple slices of bread, a few eggs, a bit of milk, vanilla, cinnamon, and if I have it on hand, a couple pinches of orange zest and a liiitle orange juice. I was one of the no-milk scrambled eggs kids,(I've had friends who always had scrambled eggs with milk poured in, and friends who didn't), and I still don't put milk in my plain jane scrambled eggs, but with French toast, I like to play. Fifteen minutes later, I was a happy (albeit considerably more sleepy) camper.

    Leek and Mushroom Quiche Adaptation
    • Ingredients for the Dough:

      • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
      • 1/2 teaspoon salt
      • 1/4 teaspoon sugar
      • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, chilled and cut into small pieces (as I mentioned earlier, my butter was softened. I'm sure it makes a difference, perhaps a flakier crust, but it still produced a pretty solid quiche)
      • 3 tablespoons water
      Ingredients for the Filling:
      • 1/2 cup water
      • 1 to 2 leeks, sliced
      • 1 tsp salt
      • 3 tablespoons butter
      • 8 - 10 cremini mushrooms, sliced
      • 1 tablespoon marsala cooking wine
      • 3 eggs
      • 1/2 cup whole milk
      • 1/4 grated parmesan

    • Directions:

      1. You'll be making the dough first. I did this by hand, but you can use a food processor if it suits you. Combine the flour, salt, and sugar. Add butter and mix until it resembled coarse meal.
      2. Add the water, mixing it in thoroughly between tablespoons. Keep mixing the dough until it's smooth and pulls together. Be sure not to add too much water: just because you want the dough to pull together (ie, not be crumbly) doesn't mean you want it to be sticky.
      3. Form dough into a ball, flatten into a disk, and wrap in plastic. Chill for an hour. (or, if you're like me and don't plan ahead, twenty minutes)
      4. Half an hour before you're supposed to take the dough out of the fridge, you can get started on the filling. (Referring to the filling ingredients) Start by boiling the water, two tablespoons of the butter and salt over medium-high heat. Add the leeks and let boil until the liquid has almost evaporated. Turn heat to low and let stew for 20 minutes, until leeks are tender (I taste tested to be sure, and then had to cut myself off after I polished off a spoonful or two). Put leeks aside in a bowl.
      5. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Add the remaining tablespoon of butter to the pan you were using for the leeks, along with the mushrooms, marsala and salt to taste. Cover pan and cook over low heat for 8 minutes. Uncover and raise heat to a boil until liquid is completely evaporated and mushrooms are beginning to saute in the butter. Stir mushroom mixture into leek mixture.
      6. At this point, you can take out the dough and either roll it out between two pieces of plastic wrap, or hand-flatten it, into a tart pan. If you're like me and only have a 9" pie pan, the dough won't go to the top. That's fine; just means that, when you pour the filling, be sure to leave a little room at the edges for crust and to ensure that your quiche doesn't explode in the oven. Trim the edges.
      7. Beat eggs, milk and goat cheese in a large mixing bowl until smooth. Stir in leek and mushroom mixture. Pour into the pastry shell and sprinkle parmesan evenly over the top. Bake for 30 - 35 minutes until edges are golden brown and the filling is set. (I did a wiggle test: grab the edge of the pan and wiggle a little bit. If the filling still moves, leave the quiche in the oven for five to seven more minutes)

    Easy Peasy Cinnamon Vanilla French Toast
    • Ingredients:

      • 2 slices bread (I used Trader Joe's California Protein)
      • 3 eggs
      • 1/4 cup milk
      • 1 teaspoon vanilla
      • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
      • 1 tablespoon orange juice (optional)
      • 1/4 teaspoon orange zest (also optional)
      • powdered sugar, to taste

    • Directions:

      1. My stove heats up pretty fast, so I usually get the eggs, milk, vanilla and cinnamon in the bowl, not yet whisked, before I lightly grease a skillet and heat it over medium-low.
      2. Whisk the egg, milk, vanilla and cinnamon mixture. The cinnamon will be clumpy. Don't worry: it'll still get into the French toast. Soak the bread, one at a time, in the mixture.
      3. Place soaked bread on skillet for 3 - 5 minutes per side. It'll be time to flip the toast when the side on the skillet is golden brown. I also listen to the crackling: once it really stops frying, it's probably ready to turn over. But best to check it as well.
      4. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and you're good to go!

    Wednesday, September 23, 2009

    summer slumber parties

          Last weekend, my common law comrade and I hosted a dinner party for a few friends before we headed out for a night of soul music boogie. It was pot-luck style: someone brought bread, another brought a beautiful avocado tomato spinach salad, Nichole made salmon burgers, and I made a strawberry tart. I followed the directions from Smitten Kitchen, with a couple of tweaks. For one, I didn't have almonds. So I grated some graham crackers (I know, right? I had other nuts in the pantry too, but it had to be graham crackers.), which actually worked just fine. Then I didn't have the patience to roll out the chilled dough between two pieces of Saran wrap, so I just mashed up the crust into crumbly bits and Frankenstein-style patched it into the pie tin. That worked, as well. Plus I'm a bit of a perfectionist when it comes to presentation, so I made sure that it wasn't too lumpy and that the edges were still (as close as I could get them to being) immaculately scalloped. THEN, I discovered that I was out of parchment paper. I used aluminum foil instead (filled it with a layer of rice, then laid down another piece of foil, then beans), and there were no noticeable blemishes or unevenly baked parts to speak of. For the win! When it comes to baking and cooking for more than my roommate and/or I, I get a little nervous about taking culinary liberties. We can't have a brittle crust or syrupy pastry cream now, can we? However, I was safe this time around.

          This weekend, my roommate, a few friends and I headed off to Portland to partake in baked goods, books and blossoms (I am Lit major, hear me alliterate). The sites were fantastic, but what truly made the trip was (at the risk of sounding trite) the company. We had a great time just throwing a frisbee around, running through playgrounds, lounging in silence on a sea of blankets while listening to Portishead and jazz and eating spaghetti with our hands.

          One of the events I attended was the The Grand Central Baking Book's release party (could it be called that? A Q&A gathering with treats... well, it was a party for me). A fellow audience member posed a challenge: that a cook could afford to be creative in the kitchen, whereas a baker had to follow the rules. Without thinking, I shook my head and said, "No. No no no." I mean, if bakers didn't take culinary liberties, then what would be the point of publishing the myriad books that lined the shelves of the bookstore we were in? Sure, there are measurements that you have to follow. You can't take yeast out of a bread dough recipe and say, "Et voila! I am a maverick!" Your bread won't rise, and look where your creativity will have gotten you. However, throwing in cheddar cheese and jalapeno peppers never hurt the person who first thought to do it. Culinary creativity is empowering. We all want to know that we're unique and have the ability and willpower to exhibit something that's never been exhibited, right? If not fine tune an existing idea, practice, recipe?

          It is with this mindset that I decided to try my hand at oatmeal cookies. I first thought, "Keep it simple. Just cinnamon and raisins." But that simply wouldn't do. I wanted chocolate. And not standard milk chocolate chips, but hand chopped, 72% dark chocolate. Then, I tried to think of a fruit that goes with chocolate (I know I know, every fruit. But a dried one! That would fit in a cookie!). Thus, dried cherry dark chocolate chunk oatmeal cookies were baked. I know that it's been done, and I'm sure there's a chewier, more cherry-tart, simply better recipe out there. But I started this site with the caveat that I am in no position to be a show off, that cooking and baking are among other passions to which I devote my life. However, the cookies turned out well enough and, like the stubborn, stubborn, girl that I am, will undoubtedly be fine-tuned until they're chewier and flatter, but still pack a punch.

    Strawberry Tart, adapted from Smitten Kitchen's recipe
    • Ingredients for the sweet tart dough:
      • 2 1/2 sticks (10 oz) butter, at room temperature
      • 1 1/2 cups confectioner's sugar, sifted
      • lightly packed 1/2 cup graham crackers, ground
      • 1/2 cup sugar (I used cane sugar, brown sugar might yield a fussy, overly soft dough)
      • 1/2 teaspoon salt
      • 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
      • 2 large eggs
      • 3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
    • Ingredients for the pastry cream:
      • 1 1/2 cups milk (I used soy)
      • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
      • 3 large egg yolks
      • 1/2 cup sugar (cane, again)
      • 3 tablespoons corn starch
      • 3 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
    • Aaaaand 3 cups of fresh strawberries, hulled (which means just cutting out the top, leafy part. Then you slice the berries in half)
    • Directions:
      1. You'll be making the dough first. First, (referring to the dough ingredients) cream the butter and the sugar until smooth.
      2. Incorporate the vanilla, graham crackers and salt. Beat eggs lightly before also incorporating into the mixture.
      3. Add the flour, folding the mixture gently between cups. You're going to mix the dough ONLY until the flour is fully incorporated. Place the dough in plastic wrap and let chill for 4 hours.
      4. Once three and a half hours have passed and your apartment is spotless/pet rocks are tended to/your nails, as well as your roommate's, are painted, you can preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and start on the pastry cream. (referring to the pastry cream ingredients)Bring the milk to a boil in a small saucepan.
      5. Working in a medium saucepan, whisk the yolks, cornstarch and sugar together until mixture is thick.
      6. Slooowly pour the milk into the egg-cornstarch-sugar situation while still whisking. Put mixture over medium heat to a boil. Whisk vigorously for 1 to 2 minutes. It is IMPERATIVE that you whisk it without stop for up to 2 minutes! Otherwise the cream will get lumpy. You'll see that it'll coagulate and smooth out after whiskage.
      7. After you've whisked the damn thing for a couple minutes, take it off of the heat and let cool for a bit (I only waited two minutes. I'm impatient!). Then cut the butter into tablespoon-sized chunks and incorporate with mixture, stirring slowly.
      8. You'll need to chill the cream before putting the tart together. I just put the cream in a ceramic bowl, sealed it with plastic wrap and put it in the fridge until the tart crust was baked. When you take out the cream, you'll need to mix it for a minute to make sure that it's still creamy and not too stiff.
      9. Okay. Now it's time to get the tart dough out of the fridge and into a pie tin. According to Deb's recipe, you're supposed to roll the dough between two pieces of plastic wrap. I initially tried this and was EXTREMELY frustrated. So i just crushed the dough into pieces and patched it into the pie tin (a standard 9" is what you want to be working with). Professional chefs the world over are probably screaming eloquent obscenities and throwing their computers out of their fabulous vaulted ceiling, Viking oven-equipped penthouse suites. But it worked! So do whatever the hell you want to get the dough into the tin. Just make sure that it's not too thin, because it WILL thin out in the oven.
      10. Once the dough is in the pie pan/galette/what have you, place aluminum foil or parchment paper over the dough (make sure it covers both the bottom and the sides, you'll be dumping stuff into it that won't be going with the pastry cream and strawberries). Pour dry beans or rice onto the aluminum foil. This is going to ensure that the sides of your dough won't fall into the bottom while the tart is baking.
      11. Bake for 20 - 25 minutes, then remove the foil and beans/rice. Bake for an additional 5 minutes. Let cool for 15 - 20 minutes.
      12. If you haven't already hulled and halved the strawberries, now would be a good time to do so. Once your dough is cool, take the pastry cream out of the fridge, mix it for a minute or two and pour it into the tart shell. Arrange the strawberries over the pastry cream and voila! Ready to serve!
    Dried Cherry Chocolate Chunk Oatmeal Cookies, adapted from Smitten Kitchen's oatmeal raisin cookie recipe
    • Ingredients:
      • 1/2 cup butter, softened to room temperature
      • 2/3 cup brown sugar, packed
      • 1 egg
      • 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
      • 3/4 cup all purpose flour
      • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
      • 1/4 teaspoon salt
      • 1 1/2 cups rolled oats
      • 1/2 cup dried cherries
      • 1/2 cup chocolate chunks (I handchopped Trader Joe's 72% dark chocolate)
    • Directions:
      1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Cream butter, eggs, vanilla and sugar until smooth.
      2. In a separate bowl, whisk flour, salt and baking soda together. Stir into creamed mixture.
      3. Stir in chocolate pieces and cherries. Deb recommends chilling the dough, which I didn't do. The cookies were still chewy, but I'm curious as to how much chewier they would be if the dough was chilled. It's up to you.
      4. Lightly grease a cookie sheet, or line with parchment paper. Form dough into tablespoon-sized balls and place on cookie sheet, 2 inches apart.
      5. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, or until edges are beginning to brown. When I looked at the first batch after 12 minutes, they still looked light, so I left them in for a few more minutes. After trying one, I realized that they were probably good to go after 11 minutes, i.e a little crispy. Don't worry if the cookie is light; you just need to make sure that the edges are a beginning to darken.
      6. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool for 5 - 10 minutes.

    Monday, September 21, 2009

    i know, i know.

          No te preocupes, I will muster the energy and willpower to relay the past week's culinary experiments and observations very soon (because sitting on my ass, typing on a computer is just so damn hard). I went to Portland for the weekend and attended the Grand Central Baking Book talk at Powell's, which got me thinking about creativity and shortcuts. Will elaborate. Will, will, will will become do, do, do. But for now,

    • Strawberry tart
    • Dried cherry and dark chocolate chunk oatmeal cookies

    Thursday, September 10, 2009

    nom nom nom

          Hokay. So. Thus begins the entry chronicling two kitchen messes: an heirloom tomato, corn and cheddar cheese pie I made for a dinner party on Tuesday, and impulse chocolate cupcakes with cinnamon vanilla brown sugar frosting. I shall start with the pie.

          So the recipe is originally from smitten kitchen (if it's not yet clear that I adore this site, let me just tell you: I adore this site. Absolutely. Adore. This site.). I saw pie and thought, "I like pie. and cheese. And cheese in pie could be crazysauce fun." I wanted to try heirloom tomatoes instead of beefsteak, and three ears of corn was... a lot. So I cut it down the two, and it served us just fine. Plus I didn't have whole milk, only soy. And forgot to brush the top with butter. Whoops. But back to the whole milk. I've been substituting soy milk (in the case of the cornbread muffins and pie), which is... fine. But produces a bit drier pastry. Not inedibly dry, just not as moist. Just know that.

          I enlisted the culinary and photographic expertise of Nichole and Blair. Blair grated cheddar (best quote: Blair: "Oh... I made cheese all over your floor." Nichole: "That sounds dirty!") while Nichole steamed corn and I sliced tomatoes, and we all blanched and peeled the heirlooms beforehand. Normally, I like to work on my own. For the sake of being selfish and stubborn and wanting things a certain way, and honestly, if you've seen our kitchen, there's not much room for more than one person. But this time, we fit three people in the kitchen! Three! Kriss Angel has nothing on the magic that made that possible.

          It's a really simple reciple: you make a double crust dough, put one down in a pie tin, throw in the grated cheese, various seasoning situations, corn kernels and sliced tomatoes in layers, pour in a mix of mayonnaise and lemon juice, cover it with the other rolled out pie dough, brush the crust with butter (if you're not me and you know what's good for you) prettify the crust and cut ventilation holes. Then you stick it in the oven for 40ish minutes, then nosh, nosh, nosh.

          I'm going to write down the directions I followed, but I strongly recommend looking at Deb's recipe as well. If you do use whole milk and remember to brush the crust with butter, please let me know how that turns out!

    Heirloom Tomato, Corn and Cheddar Pie
    • Ingredients for the crust
      • 2 cups all purpose flour (I used Trader Joe's whole wheat variety)
      • 1 tablespoon baking powder
      • 3/4 teaspoon salt
      • 6 tablespoons (or 3/4 stick) butter (I'm lazy, so I melted it and I don't think it made much of a difference)
      • 3/4 cup soy milk
    • Ingredients for the filling
      • 1/3 cup mayonnaise
      • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
      • 1 3/4 pounds heirloom tomatoes
      • 2 cups cheddar cheese, grated
      • 1 cup corn kernels (I used 2 ears, then shaved off the kernels by hand. Like my mama used to do! But then she would put them in milk and sprinkle the concoction with sugar. I don't know, either.)
      • 2 tablespoons basil (the original recipe says to use fresh basil, but I just used dried basil flakes and that was fine)
      • salt, to taste
      • pepper, to taste
      • 2 tablespoons butter, melted, for crust
    • Directions
      1. Blend flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl. Add butter, mix a little, then add milk and mix by hand until the dough is smooth.
      2. Divide dough in half. You can put the half you're not going to use for now in a covered bowl, and the other half on a well-floured surface.
      3. Roll out the dough you're using so that it'll fit in a 9-inch pie tin. Place in tin and trim the edges.
      4. Place rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
      5. Whisk the lemon juice and mayonnaise, then set aside.
      6. Cut an X at the bottom of each tomato and blanch for 15 - 20 seconds (I found that 10 was too short and the skins didn't come off easily). Immediately place in an ice bath after blanching. Once all the tomatoes are blanched and have spent some time in the bath (3 - 5 minutes should be more than sufficient), peel them and slice into 1/4" pieces.
      7. Arrange the filling ingredients in layers; I followed this pattern: half of the tomatoes, seasoning, corn, and cheese. Repeat. Pour mayonnaise and lemon juice situation over the filling.
      8. Roll out remaining half of dough to a 12 inch round. Put over pie and trim edges. You can make whatever crust pattern you'd like (I'm a fan of pretty, simple things, so I chose scalloped edges and simple slits at the top), but make sure to cut vents in the top.
      9. Brush melted butter on the crust and place in the oven. Let bake for 35 - 40 minutes.
      10. Let cool for 10 - 15 minutes, then serve.
          Last night I got back from work and was craving chocolate. We had Krusteaz pudding cake (you know, the just-add-water variety) but I wanted something richer. So I played around with a cupcake recipe. It was amazing: rich rich rich and moist. I topped it with a vanilla cinnamon brown sugar frosting and it was good to go. The only problem was that I grossly miscalculated how full to fill the muffin tins (stick to half of the cup. Not a bit of batter more!), so they sort of... exploded... in my oven. But no matter. It's the taste that counts!

    Chocolate Cupcakes with Vanilla Cinnamon Brown Sugar Frosting
    • Ingredients for cupcakes
      • 1 1/3 cups all purpose flour
      • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
      • 2 teaspoons baking powder
      • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (I bought Green and Black's and alas, ran out after 1/4 cup! I used Ghirardelli's hot cocoa for the rest of it, and it turned out just fine)
      • 3 tablespoons butter, softened. Or melted, Leilani style.
      • 1 cup brown sugar
      • 1/2 cup cane sugar
      • 2 eggs
      • 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
      • 1 cup milk (I used soy)
    • Ingredients for frosting
      • 1 1/2 cups brown sugar
      • 2 egg whites
      • 5 tablespoons water
      • 1 tablespoon vanilla
      • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (to taste, really. It depends on how much you like cinnamon)
      • 1 tablespoon cornstarch, to thicken
    • Directions
      1. Place rack in the middle of oven and preheat to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease muffin tin, or line with baking cups.
      2. Mix flour, baking soda, baking powder and cocoa powder.
      3. Whisk sugars and eggs together until smooth. Add to dry mixture.
      4. Add milk, melted butter and vanilla. I used an electric hand mixer for this last step just to smooth out the batter.
      5. Fill each muffin cup only halfway. Trust me on this one.
      6. Bake for 15 - 20 minutes.
      7. While the cupcakes are in the oven, mix the brown sugar, egg whites, vanilla, and cinnamon together. Beat on high for about 4 minutes. Add cornstarch. Beat for an additional 2 - 3 minutes.
      8. Once the cupcakes are done (you can test it by sticking a toothpick, or in my case, a chopstick, in the center of one of the cupcakes. If it comes out clean, the cupcakes are ready), let them cool for about 10 minutes before taking them out of the pan and frosting them.

    Wednesday, September 9, 2009

    betty crocker clinic

          ... is right where I'm headed unless I limit my baking to, ohhh, two times a week. Okay, maybe three. The most effective way to introduce change is to take baby steps, correct? That's what I'll keep telling myself while I continue to produce muffin pan after cookie sheet after pie tin of baked goods and whimper about perfecting various frostings.

          I should warn you: this post is useless. Its sole purpose is to remind me about what I need to write about, either tomorrow or... later...

          I baked cornbread muffins on Sunday. (yes, the same Sunday that the cinnamon sugar peach galette was baked)

          Then baked an heirloom tomato, cheddar and corn pie on Tuesday.

          And then baked chocolate cupcakes with a cinnamon vanilla brown sugar frosting tonight.

          I have no pictures of the muffins. But my roommate took pictures of the pie construction, and I took a single photo of a cupcake with frosting, just because the batch sort of exploded in my oven and I was in one of my whip-up-a-chocolate-situation-in-twenty-minutes moods, so didn't bother to document the process. I will say this, however: those impatient streaks rarely do me any good. If I had taken the time to actually measure the batter before dumping it in the muffin tins, maybe I wouldn't have had to spend twenty minutes scrubbing muffin mistakes from the counter, oven, pans, my arms...

          So stay tuned!... All one or two of you! Recipes and commentary to ensue shortly.

    Sunday, September 6, 2009

    millions of peaches, peaches for me...

          My lovely lovely roommate brought home ripe peaches this past week with clear instructions: Do something with them. Bake something with them. I immediately thought of the nectarine galette I had been drooling over on The Smitten Kitchen and told myself, "Self, you can tweak this! Deb says it was easy. Ergo, it will be moderately easy for you to whip up over the weekend!"

          Sunday morning came, with no plans aside from starting Michelle Richmond's The Year of Fog and watching Disney princess films on my brocade print couch. Deb mentioned in her recipe that she accidentally doubled it, but included the original recipe. I raised an eyebrow at 6 tablespoons of butter to a cup of flour, but went ahead with mixing the crust ingredients. I cast temperature instructions aside (most of the time, I don't have patience to deal with refrigerated butter and, really? Ice water? I don't refrigerate my Brita and don't have another means of obtaining ice water) and blended everything (save for the water) with, first, a wooden spoon and then, because I like to, with anything, really, by hand.

          The result? A very wet, undough-like dough. My first thought was, "Perhaps Deb accidentally left the 6 tablespoons of butter doubled, and it should have been 3 tablespoons." Then I thought, "Maybe I shouldn't have melted the butter." But I mean, 6 tablespoons of butter, melted or not, is still 6 tablespoons of butter, which is a fair amount for just a cup of flour, right?

          I put the mess in the fridge while I thinly sliced the peaches and pondered adjustments. Half an hour later, I took the dough out and it was basically frozen. I added a few tablespoons of water to soften it and a couple small handfuls of flour. After kneading it for five or so minutes, it began to look like the pulled together, much drier pie crust that I know and love.

            I forsook the original recipe for filling and made up my own. After rolling the dough out on a pizza peel (the biggest surface I have in the kitchen) and meticulously organizing the peaches on the crust, I realized that I didn't have parchment paper to bake the galette on and I hadn't formed the galette on the surface which I would later stick in the oven. As in, my beloved soon to be baked good was firmly attached to the pizza peel.

          I immediately poured myself a glass of Cabernet Sauvignon (yes, at 11:30a, while still in my pajamas) and had myself a think. Armed with three spatulas, my glass of wine, and Bon Iver's Blood Bank EP, I set to work on prying the galette off of the pizza peel and transferring it to a pizza pan. It took ten, fifteen minutes of veeery slowly pushing one spatula under the galette, pushing a little flour between the peel and the galette so as to prevent sticking, and shoving another spatula in place of the initial one to prop it up, with gulps of wine in between and whispered, "Feist. Feist. Feist" mantras to myself. I brushed the top with melted butter, sugar and cinnamon and sent it on its way.

          It's currently in the oven with fifteen minutes to go. This is one of my first ventures just saying, "Fuck all" to the original recipe and trying my hand at it. And, as I immediately remember that I had nothing to eat before my glass of Cabernet save for a cup of coffee, my first time* baking while tipsy. Time to eat breakfast or run the risk of making an MTV Spring Break-esque fool of myself. At noon on a Sunday.

    Once during my sophomore year of college, I came back home from a house party thoroughly trashed (i.e, had to be driven home, fell up the stairs, couldn't see straight, woke up with a headache) and prepared dough to make cinnamon rolls the next day.

    Cinnamon Sugar Peach Galette, Leilani Style
    • Ingredients for the crust
      • 1 1/2 - 1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
      • 6 tablespoons butter, melted
      • 1/8 teaspoon salt
      • 2 tablespoons sugar
      • 3 or so tablespoons water
    • Ingredients for the filling
      • 2 peaches, washed, dried, thinly sliced
      • 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
      • 2 teaspoons sugar
      • pinch or two cinnamon
      • 2 tablespoons water
    • Ingredients for glaze
      • 1 tablespoon butter, melted
      • 1 teaspoon sugar
      • 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
    • Directions
      1. You'll be starting with the crust. Mix dry ingredients together, then slowly add butter (I was lazy and melted it on the stove) while mixing. At this point, I would switch to kneading the dough by hand and adding water by the tablespoon if it's a bit dry. Put in the fridge to chill for half an hour.
      2. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. If you haven't already sliced the peaches, do so, thinly. And i mean thinly. Mix the sliced peaches with the sugar, water, flour and cinnamon. Cover with aluminum foil and chill in the refrigerator.
      3. After the half hour has passed, take the dough out and knead it by hand on a well-floured surface. Place the dough on the parchment paper and roll out thinly (about 1/8") into a circle.
      4. Arrange the peach filling on top of the dough. I did a little snail situation, starting by placing peach slices in the center and organizing them in a circular, overlapping fashion. Leave an inch and a half of crust showing.
      5. Fold the dough over the edges of the peaches. It'll overlap the corners of the previously folded dough.
      6. Brush the melted butter cinnamon sugar glaze over the galette. Place in the oven and bake for 40 to 50 minutes.
      7. The galette will be done when the edges of the crust are golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool for 10 minutes.
    UPDATE: The galette is out of the oven, and two slices are already in my tummy. I adjusted the crust recipe so that it's a bit sweeter, but with the butter whipped cream I made on Friday, it's still goooooooooooood!

    off to a great startnot

          no pictures, No five star recipes (not even three stars)?! What kind of food blogger AM I... a noob, obviously. even worse, The following recipes don't even have real measurements! A pinch of this, a handful of that... *sigh* Everyone has got to start somewhere though, right? Right.

          So we'll start with yesterday's breakfast (my work schedule is very forgiving, albeit nonexistent during certain weeks). My sister, who was visiting me this past week and cites Chuck Williams as her own personal lord and savior, made these amazing, AMAZING blueberry and graham cracker pancakes. I will post the recipe as soon as I ruin tweak it to accommodate the Fruits That Must Go in my refrigerator and The Homemade Cookies That Must Be Consumed Before God Summons the Apocalypse Ponies To Destroy My Kitchen in my pantry. My only responsibility was to make whipped cream. Fool-proof, right?

          In the hands of Leilani, wrong. So very wrong. As you can see from the photo, the "whipped cream" is closer in consistency to refrigerated butter. And I obviously didn't take into consideration how much whipped cream the entire pint of whipping cream, half a cup of powdered sugar and a teaspoon of vanilla would yield. HOWEVER, it still tasted pretty peachy keen. But really how could you go wrong with powdered sugar and vanilla.

          So here's my suggestion (unless you plan on making enough whipped cream to bathe in): use only half of the pint. Use two tablespoons of powdered sugar. And half a teaspoon of vanilla (or to taste, really. I'm sure 3/4 teaspoon would still be mmm mmm good).

          Next culinary endeavor: dinner. I decided to stick to a failsafe: spinach and goat cheese pasta, with artichoke hearts thrown in. I'd been playing with this one since February and think I finally got it right. Obviously, it depends on your tastes (if you like it a little saltier, add more sea salt or goat cheese... If you want more spinach, go for it).

    Spinach and Goat Cheese Pasta with Artichoke Hearts - feeds 4 very hungry fancy lasses
    • Ingredients
      • 1 handful fresh spinach, washed, dried, chopped (it's going in a blender so it doesn't matter how finely you chop it)
      • 1/2 cup cremini mushrooms, washed, dried, chopped
      • 1/3 cup white onion, washed, dried, chopped
      • 3 tablespoons goat cheese
      • 1/4 - 1/2 cup olive oil
      • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
      • 1 lb pasta (i used linguine... next time i'm trying whole wheat spaghetti! how adventurous.)
      • 1 8 oz can of artichoke hearts
    • Directions
      1. you should start with preparing the pasta. use a pot (i had to ask my roommate what we called those new-fangled things. "do we call it a pan? ...bowl?" "...pot?" "christ...") big enough to boil all the pasta in. fill it halfway with water and throw in a couple pinches of sea salt and a tablespoon or so of olive oil. when the water starts to boil, put all of the pasta in and stir occasionally. i almost always sometimes forget to set the timer, so be sure to set it according to the directions on the pasta bag!
      2. while the pasta is doing its thing, sautee the onions and the mushrooms (sauteeing for newbies: put a pat of butter in a pan that's on medium, medium-high heat, and move the pan so that the butter coats the bottom evenly. if the butter browns, you've burned it, so ten cuidado. once the bottom of the pan is completely coated, through the onions and mushrooms into the pan and turn the heat down to low. push the veggies around for a couple minutes; the onions will become clear(er) and the mushrooms will brown and soften). pour the mushrooms and onions onto a plate that's lined with paper towels (a couple layers) and let dry.
      3. put the goat cheese, olive oil, spinach and sea salt in the blender. pat the mushrooms and onions dry, then throw in the blender as well. blend blend blend! add salt and/or goat cheese to taste, and olive oil if it's too thick (it should be a creamy but not too thin sauce).
      4. when the timer goes off on your pasta, taste a noodle to make sure you've cooked it for long enough. good? good. pour it into a colander and let drain.
      5. while the pasta is draining, give the sauce one good blend to make sure it's staying together (the olive oil tends to separate). drain the artichoke hearts (i put these in a separate colander and rinsed them).
      6. when your pasta is dry (enough), pour it into a bowl and pour the sauce over it. mix so that the sauce evenly coats all of the pasta. then, throw in the artichoke hearts and mix thoroughly.

    Wednesday, September 2, 2009

    i can't believe it's all butter!

          the food flops cometh as soon as i decide to begin writing a food blog. i'm absolutely serious: i made graham crackers that tasted like cardboard, oreo cookies that looked more like whoopie pies (but taste-wise, two thumbs up), and as of this morning, pancakes that tasted like they were made completely out of butter. now, i'm not the type of girl who's scared of things like butter, salt, sugar and shortening. but i can feel the butter oozing out of my pores and my heart beating slower trying to get the blood past the crap that's already clogging my arteries. the recipe told me that i would have tender, fluffy flapjacks; instead, they were the size of dutch babies and hard enough to be used as doorstops. this time around, i followed the recipe verbatim. i didn't try to use flax seed and water gel instead of eggs, didn't mix wheat bran into the flour, didn't throw any honey or berries into the batter before pouring it onto the pan. i didn't think to take pictures (common sense rarely kicks in before my standard cup o' joe), but i'm including the recipe, with notes. like any stubborn girl, i'm determined to try all of these recipes again: more sugar for the graham crackers, actually following the oreo cookie recipe by doling out TEAspoonfuls of dough onto the cookie sheet rather than TABLEspoonfuls (whoops), and a little more milk to thin out the pancake batter (and less butter!). stay tuned for breakfast and baked goods: the remix :)

    from Dave Lieberman's Young and Hungry (this is food porn. the man can cook and is beautiful to boot. don't let this recipe steer you away from the book altogether, his mini fudgey chocolate cakes are delicious as sin... not unlike their creator):

    Hot Off the Griddle: Pancakes
    • Ingredients
      • 1 cup milk (i'd add an extra 1/4 cup to thin it out... it should still be fluffy-ish)
      • 1 large egg
      • 2 tablespoons butter, melted, plus unmelted butter for greasing the pan (next time, i'm going to try to omit the initial 2 tablespoons of butter... i mean honestly you'll already be putting close to half a stick in the pan, a little butter between each new pancake, to make sure you don't burn the batter)
      • 2 tablespoons sugar
      • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
      • 2 pinches of salt
      • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
      • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda (is this actually necessary? thoughts?)

    • Directions
      1. beat the milk, egg, 2 tablespoons of butter, sugar, vanilla and salt together.
      2. add the flour and baking soda in gently until fully incorporated and batter is smooth. let rest for 10 minutes.
      3. heat the skillet for about 3 minutes over medium heat (medium heat burned the butter, so i just did low). test to make sure the pan is the right temperature by dropping a drop or two of water into the pan. it should sizzle and evaporate in about three seconds.
      4. add a couple tablespoons of butter to the pan and melt until the butter covers the bottom (this totally depends on how big your pan is. i needed mayyybe a teaspoon of butter to coat the entire bottom).
      5. use a 1/3 cup measure to scoop the batter for medium-size pancakes. butter the pan again before making a new batch.
      6. let the pancakes cook until small bubble pop through the surface and the bottoms are golden brown, about 4 or 5 minutes.
      7. flip each pancake with a spatula and cook the other side for another few minutes, until golden brown.

    Tuesday, August 25, 2009

    and so a new blog begins...

           hello hello!  truth be told, i'm new to the whole food blog world.  moreover, i'm new to the whole culinary creativity world.  i cook and i bake (the latter more frequently), but i've always been a recipe girl.  i pore over cookbooks and dog-ear pages of dishes that sound appealing, and eventually settle on one and head to the grocery store with a list of ingredients.  i always figured that, if it was good enough to be published, it was good enough to be followed.  i would write down the tried and true ones in a little notebook, which is still tucked in between my other cookbooks and, like its counterparts, is well-stained, well-wrinkled, yet well-loved.
           recently, however, i've been indulging in a bit of experimentation.  nothing too crazy.  throwing in different vegetables at the last minute, trying different spices, making my own pasta sauces.  and sure, there are have been some culinary flops.  it has taken me my entire high school and undergraduate career to find a solid chocolate chip cookie recipe.  8 years.  8 years!  of baking "meh", or at times, just plain "blech" cookies.  i might be considered picky; i like my chocolate chip cookies a little, JUST a little crisp around the edges, but chewy (not cakey, not crunchy) in the middle.  but dagnabbit, i was determined.  you'd be surprised at what you can compromise when baking.  for example, most of the time sometimes i'm very impatient and just soften the butter on the stove to the point of liquidity.  this works for some cookies, but for others, yields a very slimy, unmanageable dough.  the chewy, crispy-edged chocolate chip variety just so happens to be one of those cookies that requires a room-temperature softened butter.
           but i digress.  getting ahead of myself and spoiling all the good stuff before i even begin to share the recipes!  i'm doing this for what i assume is the same reason fellow food bloggers are writing for: because i love food, making said food, and gabbing about said food.  i don't have fancy equipment (doesn't mean i don't lust for le creuset cast iron cookware or maybe even just an electric hand mixer).  my kitchen is the size of a storage closet (you think i'm joking.  but there seriously can't be more than one person cooking at any given time or else it creates discomfort and claustrophobia).  i'm not a chef, by any means.  i'm a 22 year old with degrees in comparative literature and spanish.  but i love to partake in and share my culinary creations, and i love a challenge.  thus, foodie festivus is born.