Tuesday, January 29, 2008


A couple weeks ago we bought a roasting pan and a couple days ago we christened it by roasting a chicken. It was a great Sunday dinner. I used Giada's recipe for garlic citrus chicken, it has lemons and oranges inside it and a sauce/gravy with orange juice and stuff. It was not easy to figure out when it needed basting and how exactly to do it, but it came out great! I don't know if it's meant to be burnt like that on top or if it's just my special talent, but it didn't seem to mattter. I even made the gravy where you simmer the juices, strain the solids, and skim off the fat. I couldn't quite get all the fat off though, how exactly are you supposed to do that?? The best part was that there was plenty left over for a couple lunches of tasty chicken sandwiches. So, now that I have this great pan, what else can I roast??

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Dahl Soup

So I promised Louisa that I would post a recipe, so here I go. I took a very nice picture of it, but I am having technical difficulties getting it off my phone. Oh well. The photo I am using is from Flickr, but it seemed close enough. This soup is almost stew like and is very hearty. Very aromatic and comforting on a cold night.

This soup goes really well with some warmed up naan bread.

2 tablespoons butter
2 garlic cloves
1 onion, chopped
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon garam masala
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2 1/4 pounds canned, chopped tomatoes drained (i used 2 small cans)
1 cup red lentils
2 teaspoons lemon juice
2 1/2 cups vegetable stock
1 1/4 cups coconut milk

1. Melt the butter in a large saucepan and saute the garlic and onion for 2-3 minutes.
2. Add the spices and cook for 30 seconds more.
3. Stir in the tomatoes, red lentils, lemon juice, vegetable stock, and coconut milk. Bring to a boil.
4. Reduce the heat and simmer for 25-30 minutes until the lentils are tender and cooked.

Cook's Tip: Add small quantities of hot water to the pan while the lentils are cooking if they begin to absorb too much of the liquid.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Scrambled Eggs with Tomato, Goat Cheese & Avocado

Well I thought I had better post something before Louisa loses all faith in me! So apologies for the lack of picture - but scrambled eggs aren't generally that pretty anyway. I know that everyone probably feels that breakfast is the easiest meal to cook, but I think it actually takes a lot more attention than the average person puts into it to get all the ingredients cooked just right. To start, I sauteed the chopped tomatoes in a little olive oil on medium-low heat and sprinkled in a little salt and freshly ground pepper. I heard that ground pepper releases flavor as it heats which is why I added it while cooking as well as after. Then I fluffed a couple eggs in a bowl with a fork before throwing them in the pan (I also salt the egg mixture a little to get the flavor going) - I would actually suggest scrambling then separately from the tomatoes as I found that the water that cooked out of the tomatoes messed with the consistency of the eggs. You could just remove them from the pan to a plate, toss the juice, spray the pan and throw the eggs in the same pan. If you find that your scrambled eggs often turn out dry and "hard", the trick is to cook them at an incredibly low heat, stirring with a spatula slowly and constantly. You should find that the lower portion of the liquid eggs is cooking but the top remains liquid. Also you should use a fairly small pan so the egg isn't spread so thin across it that it all cooks at once. As you keep turning the eggs, moving the cooked portions around and allowing the liquid portions to cook, you should soon find the eggs almost completely cooked - it happens very fast so be prepared to toss in the cheese and tomatoes and turn a few times more before it's completely cooked. Serve immediately topped with sliced avocado, salt and pepper to taste. Boo-yah! The fluffiest eggs ever.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Mushroom Rigatoni

Surprisingly, mushrooms are not on my do-not-eat list. They seem like the kind of thing I wouldn't like, and in fact when I was younger I indeed didn't like them. But somewhere along the line I converted to a mushroom-eater. So this pasta seemed like a good idea - 4 kinds of mushrooms - craziness! But it came out great, with leftovers for lunch! The chopping did take a while, what with all the mushrooms, shallots, onion, garlic, basil, etc. But after that there were no big surprises. Also I made a great discovery. And by "made" I mean "read online." The recipe called for white wine and I didn't have any. One reviewer said she used red wine instead but I thought that was a little weird. I thought about leaving it out but that might have made it so plain. So I asked the trusty metafilter and check it out: you can use juice instead! God I love AskMetaFilter. People have a lot of different recommendations in there actually, but juice totally makes sense and I'm even likely to have it on hand! Grape = red wine; White grape = white wine. So simple. I was convinced the pasta tasted like juice, but LZ didn't think so. As long as it tasted good, I'm happy!

The answer is....

Challah! The mystery photo is an upclose look at this knotted jewish bread. It took something like 18 hours to make (12 of that being overnight in the fridge) but it was worth it as it is light, delicious and challah-y. Challah!

Monday, January 14, 2008

Guess the food

It's time to play **What Did She Make Now?**

Take a look at the picture and make your guesses. What is it?

Endive Soup (with Chickpeas and Mushrooms)

This has got to be one of the easiest and most delicious quick soups ever.

You need:
- Chicken broth
- 1 can of chickpeas
- 1 head of endive (or any other leafy green)
- some mushrooms (we used porcini)

You start by making some chicken broth. Your options: 1. buy chicken broth/stock at the store or 2. Have chicken bullion cubes on hand and dissolve in hot water per instructions.

Then, you heat up the broth and add the chickpeas. If you get a can of chickpeas, you have to wash them. You might notice that they have a very paper thin skin on them. I preferred to take off the skin which was a little more time consuming, but I like my chickpeas naked and paper-free.

Finally, you add the endive. Endive is kind of like a lettuce, but it's got spiky long leaves. I like to chop them up into 1 inch pieces. You don't have to cook them very long at all, so it's best to add them at the end.

We happened to have some dried porcini mushrooms that I soaked in water for a bit and then added at the same time of the endive. Then, I let it all cook for like 3-4 minutes, and voila, it was done!

I like this recipe because you could totally vary it up. You like carrots? Potatoes? Put them in first and cook a little longer. As long as your greens are cooked last and just for a short time, anything goes for this easy soup!

Linguine Avgolemono

I'm folding under the intense pressure from this past weekend and finally posting to the Gastrofabulous blog. I am honored to be a guest contributor on such an illustrious endeavor.

It is my regular custom to make one decent meal each week and to make enough to last for 3 or 4 meals throughout the week. This takes some skill, because I am forced to make a meal that not only tastes good enough for me to want to eat all week, but that reheats well. On the plus side, because I am only cooking once a week, I don't really mind spending a significant amount of time making it (actually, truthfully I don't ever mind spending a lot of time in the kitchen).

I wish I could say that my first post would describe a great dinner, but alas the Linguine Avgolemono just wasn't that great. It was cheap, which is what I was going for and I think that with a few additions, this dish would have been much better - more lemon juice, perhaps some grape tomatoes, more parmesan, and some chili powder or crushed red pepper would have given it some more zing. As per the exact recipe, it was kind of bland. If anyone does give it a chance, add some of the suggested items and for the record I used 1% milk rather than whipping cream (which can be pricey and I wouldn't have been able to use it for anything else).

I promised a post with some other recipes that I have made that have been relatively cheap meals, but I'll put that in a future post. I gotta spread things out a little...

Bagna Cauda

Bagna cauda means warm bath. So this dish is fish in a warm bath. Let me tell you this tilapia was so relaxed after its warm bath. Another one from Giada, it turned out to be really easy and tasty. You just make a sauce with butter, EVOO, garlic, orange juice, lemon zest, orange zest, and basil. Then cook the fish and pour it over. We had it with rice pilaf but I'm not sure that was the best thing. The picture doesn't make it look that good but I would defnitely recommend it - simple and scrumptious.

Beet Salad

To go with the fish (above) we made Giada's salad with beets, toasted walnuts, dried cranberries, and goat cheese. We had never made beets before so I was skeptical but the salad was SO GOOD. Beets are fascinating, that color gets all over everything. The most fun part was toasting the nuts though, because I used my favorite blue frying pan thing. It's so retro, I just love it. Of course I kind of burned them a little but not too badly. I couldn't get a good picture of the salad or the beets, so you get to look at the little blue guy.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Steak & Homefries

This meal was a definite success! So much simpler than I thought. LZ brought home a huge, bright red slab of meat. It was so big we didn't even need the whole thing. I rubbed on my special steak spice (Thanks, Sarah!) and basically just let them sit in the pan for a while. On to the fries. I figured meat and potatoes go together, right? Most homefries recipes say to fry them in a pan but I hate frying so I went with a recipe that said to bake them. 500 degrees for 25 minutes, does that seem too hot or is it necessary? I put some more of the steak spice on them and they came out crispy and great! I was shocked, I did not think they'd be very good. So next time I will experiment with more different kinds of spices. I will definitely be making this stuff again. Yay!

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Purple Risotto

Purple foods are the best. So I was excited to read that you can actually make risotto with red wine, not just white like usual. I can't say the taste came out that different, but it's so pretty. Purple and green are my favorite colors, after all. The recipe came from Giada and we had shrimp to go with it. Risotto takes a while to make because the liquid all has to soak in, but it's actually not hard, even I can do it. And it's one of those magic moments of cooking when you see one little cup of rice turn into enough for a whole meal!

Friday, January 4, 2008


We had some extra chili left over from dinner on Wednesday, so when we were deciding how to eat it (Nachos!) I flippantly suggested that we make enchiladas. So, John filled the tortillas with our vegetable-and-spice turkey chili, and covered with cheese. Baked for about 10 minutes

Now it has a new name. En-chili-das. John says that "enchilada" means "smothered in chiles." So, our "enchilida" is smothered in chili. And cheese. And guacamole.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Japanese New Years PT 3

These beef wrapped carrots and green beans are a spin on the traditional asparagus wrapped beef. We wrapped the vegetables with thin slices of beef, and then heated the pan with olive oil. After slightly browning one side, i poured in some rice wine to help steam the meat. Then, after flipping the roll, i threw in a little soy sauce until the sauce boiled and browned. After several batches, the sauce became thick and sweet, and we poured the rest on top of the plate.

Japanese New Years PT 2

These are little spinach rolls wrapped in dried seaweed or "nori." Their unique shape mimics the angle of a fresh cut bamboo. There is a special Japanese fairy tale about a poor woodcutter who found a girl inside a bamboo tree, and she became the bamboo princess.

Luckily, there were no babies in our edible version.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Japanese New Years

I guess I am known for making a Japanese New Years brunch. This is a family tradition for me, and this is the 4th year that I've done it away from home. Here is a glimpse to some of the yummyness. Above is "Inarizushi" or just "Inari" which you can buy at any sushi restaurant. They are fried bean curd stuffed with sugar and vinegar rice. They require few ingredients: rice, rice vinegar, sugar and a can of preprepared bean curd pockets. The only tricky part is stuffing the rice in-- but it's entertaining to do with friends.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Panko Chicken

Joanna and Nate came over the other day and made this panko chicken. It turned out to be pretty easy and I like this panko stuff. The best part was they unlocked another little piece of the cooking mystery. Apparently every food has a different smoke point and butter's is pretty low which explains why I always burn it! They also provided some headway in my search for the truth about how people know when meat is done cooking. The answer is you just have to have the feel. But there are clues to how you get the feel. Instead of cutting the meat open you can feel how squishy it is. When it feels as squishy as the skin between your thumb and forefinger, it's done. If you're roasting a whole bird, jiggling the leg may provide insight as well. So basically, I am still clueless but now I can believe that it may not only be magic that helps people cook so well.