Sunday, December 13, 2009

Sushi Cakes

Sushi Cakes
These are my sushi cupcakes! I was having people over for sushi and wanted to make a special dessert. I wondered if it would be possible to make cupcakes that look like sushi and I figured I was probably not the first person to have this brilliant idea. Sure enough, there are a handful of sushi cupcake photos out there, and a recipe by Clare Crespo. I basically used her recipe, which started with a box cake mix. I made some in my mini muffin tin which turned out to be the perfect size for the rolls. The rest of the batter I made into regular cupcakes which I cut up to be the right shape for the fishy pieces. Next, the frosting used a sour cream base, which I don't think is the best idea. Better to use a regular buttercream. But the huge amount of coconut in the frosting did a great job of looking like rice! I packed the frosting on, and used fruit leathers for the seaweed. If I could have found a green fruit leather, or at least a darker one, that would have been better, but this is what they had at my store. If there's a next time, I'll look harder. Swedish fish and chopped up gummy bears topped them off. And for the finishing, touch, pocky sticks for chopsticks.

I was pretty happy with how they came out! I think they looked even better than I thought they would. On the other hand, they really didn't taste that great. I guess it was the disappointing frosting and cupcakes combined with these candies is weird. But the point of making them was to look like sushi and they did! So that was exciting but I probably won't make them again.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Chocolate Cherry Bars

I made these Chocolate Cherry Crumb Bars yesterday. I was looking for something special to make and I LOVE cherries. The bars were good but not amazing. The cherry filling was actually pretty great, but the chocolate parts could have been better, I don't think it was as good as a brownie. So maybe next time I'll just spread the cherry filling over brownies. Or blondies. That would be so good. Also, mine didn't come out as pretty as Martha's because the chocolate part kind of mingled with the cherry part too much and made everything brown, instead of that nice pink color. If I made it with blondie bars that might preserve the pink!

Thanksgiving: Leftovers Edition Part 2

As a follow up to the previous post, I did end up making Turkey Pot Pie. Actually, we had so much Turkey left, that we made two pot pies. However, in traditional mishap fashion, I forgot to mix the rest of the leftover sweet potatoes in the dish with all the cream sauce. So, I ended up just poking them individually in the top. We'll see how it turns out!

The recipe I used is here at Cooking for Engineers, a great site for precise measurements and instructions.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Thanksgiving: Leftovers Edition

This was the first year we hosted Thanksgiving at our house. 12 people, one 19 lb turkey. Even though it fed everyone AND served as lunch for seven Fermilab students the next day, we still somehow ended up with massive amounts of leftovers.

Here's what I've done with them:
1. (Leftover) Turkey Soup
1 small onion chopped
1 carrot chopped
2 ribs of celery chopped
1 can of white beans
pinch of oregano
2 bay leaves
2 c chopped turkey
1 bunch of kale, chopped lengthwise
Vegetable Stock (cube or liquid)
4 c water
Salt and pepper to taste

In a pot, put in a little oil and cook the onions, carrots and celery until softer, about 8 minutes. The bay leaf can be put in at this point. Then, put in the oregano and cook another minute. Add the white beans and the stock (cube and water or 4 c liquid stock) Then, put in the chopped kale and cover, simmering for 20 minutes.

Remove the bay leaf before serving. This soup can also be frozen.

2. Spinach salad with blue cheese and cranberry relish vinaigrette. (Recipe for the dressing is at the link, and I actually used leftover cranberry sauce/relish instead of fresh cranberries. It was delicious!)

3. Sweet Potato and Pumpkin Muffins. Instead of applesauce, I dumped in leftover sweet potatoes from the meal. It was a good substitute, and the muffins turned out nicely. I also reduced the sugar by half. J recommended that next time we use half brown sugar or add some molasses in to deepen the flavor.

4. Turkey Chili. I basically do the same recipe as the Turkey Soup, but just as far as the onion, celery and carrots. Then, I add at least two tablespoons of Chili Powder, and one of cumin and another of cayenne. Then the beans are kidney instead of white and I add a can of diced tomatoes instead of stock. The turkey goes in and it simmers for at least 20 minutes. You can't really go wrong with chili. It's so easy to make. I had some for lunch and froze the rest

5. Tomorrow i will do Turkey Pot Pie and freeze it. We'll see how it turns out.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Corn Pudding

Tonight I made this Corn Pudding in Acorn Squash. I love foods that get made inside other foods. That is just so cool. And I love squash, and chives, and corn. This dish really didn't take a lot of prep work, though it does need quite a while in the oven. And if you spill the pudding as you pour it in, like I did, you will have to spend some time scrubbing the burnt pan. But it was good, I totally recommend it, and my picture is even not that bad!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Sweet Potato-Peanut Bisque

My co-worker made this dish and said it was good, so I thought I'd give it a try.

Sweet Potato-Peanut Bisque
is a vegetarian soup inspired by a West African peanut soup.

The recipe calls for one pureed sweet potato and one chopped into the soup. Initially, I had a horrible time with the sweet potatoes. I microwaved them for 6 minutes and I think I cooked them too much and they were impossible to peel. They became mush in my hands. I see now I could have just scooped out the flesh and thrown it into the blender. Instead, I wrapped up the potatoes for another meal, and took the broth off the stove.

The next day I tried again with new potatoes and armed with the advice that i should just puree both the potatoes, so i was less concerned with their consistency after microwaving.

This soup came out fantastic. I was really surprised at how filling it was. Also, I used cilantro as a garnish and it just complemented the soup so nicely.

Definitely recommend trying this.

Chickpea Stew with Six Vegetables

Hello Fabulous Cookers
I have been cooking a lot but haven't posted in a while. I just got the cookbook World Vegetarian by Madhur Jaffrey out the library.

This book is like a bible for vegetarian cuisine. It is over 750 pages long, and she dedicates a lot of time to describing various ingredients and spices. There are color photos in the middle that depicts everything from tofu varieties to different grains, etc.

I made Chickpea Stew with Six Vegetables. There are over 17 ingredients in this recipe, and I have to admit I didn't get them all or follow all instructions. For example, she is very much into fresh chickpeas, which involve a lot of soaking for many hours. I used canned instead. I left out the saffron, cayenne. She recommends eating it with a spicy Harissa sauce, which I left out.

It was very delicious and hearty, but I bet it would have more kick with all of the other ingredients.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Cookie Dough Cupcakes

Cupcakes with a gob of cookie dough inside, and cookie dough frosting on top. Need I say more? Amazing but seriously intense. The trick is that the balls of cookie dough have to be frozen before you put them in the batter so they won't cook through and they'll still be dough. And the frosting is basically spreadable cookie dough. There are lots of recipes out there but I used this one, along with her photo because mine looked nothing like these.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Apple Pie

Apple pies are pretty easy to make, even for me. Frozen pie crust, dump in some apples, all you have to make is the crumb topping (essential pie topping if you ask me). But lately a bunch of people have been telling me it's not really that hard to make your own crust. So I decided to challenge myself. Here I am crumbling the frozen butter. An interesting experience. A pastry cutter would have been key here, but I don't have one. If only I had known what I was passing up at all those yard sales! Next time I see one I will certainly grab it. Regardless, the crust came out fine. Mom thought it was better than frozen ones so I'd say it was a success. It did take some work but I would do it again if I wanted a project. And there are so many different recipes to try out there! Butter? Shortening? Baking powder? What's the difference?
Then there's the crumb topping - what really makes the pie. I've made it with nuts and I've made it with oats, but whatever else you add in there, you've got to have the crumble. This is the tried and true recipe from my mom's ancient Joy of Cooking - the most stained page in the book by far. Posted right here for handy reference. Now go make pies!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Pasta with Lentils and Kale

I am not a huge fan of kale, but I got a bunch from my weekly farm share, that I need to use up. I decided to make this really crunchy vegetarian dish from epicurious.

The hardest part of the recipe was getting the timing right. Towards the middle of the process the onions, lentils, and kale are all cooking and it was hard to remember what was ready when.

Also, I think my proportions were way off. I didn't know how much "3/4 pound of kale" or "3/4 pound of pasta" were. I think I only had half the amount of onion needed and way too much pepper.

All in all, I would say this turned out better than I expected. It seems really healthy, but I don't know that it will make it into the regular rotation of meals. Maybe if we get kale again.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Guest Blogger!

I was so excited when Louisa asked me to guest blog on GastroFabulous!! I love reading this blog and it gives me tons of ideas for my own cooking. Shortly after I was invited to this blog, I started my own blog about cooking in my small, New York kitchen with one plate. I recently acquired 4 new plates!! So I thought it was time to expand my blogging as well. I hope to do an exclusive post for GastroFabulous int he future, but for now, I hope you enjoy "Chayote, Explored," visiting from One Plate Wonder for one post only.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Massive Meal, Massive Post! Chayote, Explored. (Video included!)

This past week was my birthday and my awesome friend and follower of my blog, Liz, gave me plates!!!

Such a thoughtful birthday gift!! While my title is no longer relevant, I am still One Plate Wonder in spirit. And I still have a tiny kitchen where the plate doesn't even fully fit on the counter. So, here is a big, birthday post from One Plate Wonder.

I recently visited my friend in Boston who had just come back from Costa Rica. She recommended Chayote and pointed it out in the market. So when I saw it in Whole Foods, I picked it up and decided to give it a try. All I knew was that it was from Costa Rica, so I started to research. I found out that it is a squash cooked by boiling then peeling. Now, I know Costa Rica is in Central America. I am not too familiar with where certain foods come from as I have not traveled much, but I do associate it with South of the Border/South America, so I tried to go for those flavors. This is the chayote.

The full explanation of the dish is in the video interview below (an exclusive interview with One Plate Wonder herself interviewed by my sister). Here is the description I may put on the menu of a restaurant (if anyone wants to put it on a menu I am happy to sell it because I am definitely short on cash at the moment): A melange of mushrooms and chayote atop a bed of sauteed swiss chard above spiced polenta patties, topped with avocado.

I started prepping the chayote and while that was going on, I sauteed onion and garlic then added cremini mushrooms. When the chayote was ready I added that to the mix with some paprika, salt, pepper, and chili powder.

To read the rest of this post, see the exclusive video, and view the final dish, visit One Plate Wonder.

Thanks for letting me guest blog!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Tomatillo Salsa

This is my bowl of tomatillos. I picked them at my friend's CSA farm last weekend. Actually, LZ picked most of them because I couldn't spot them among all those leaves. Good thing I had him along. So I brought them home and thought about making salsa all week until this weekend I finally did. And here it is:
I kind of combined a few different recipes which might not have been the best idea. I was worried for a while in there that I was ruining it, but it came out pretty good and relatively salsa-like, so no harm done. First I roasted the tomatillos in the oven. I also roasted some garlic, onion, and corn to add to the salsa. When the tomatillos seemed soft and roasted, I let them cool. Then I chopped them up. That part was weird because they were obviously roasted and mushy. Some recipes said to blend them but I didn't want a tomatillo smoothie. I put the tomatillo mush in a bowl, added the onions, corn, garlic, salt, and some lime juice, then mixed it all around and it looked pretty much like salsa!
Lastly, I put it on tacos! We had bought some pulled pork so I just put cheese and tomatillo gloop on top and it was REALLY tasty! If I ever find myself with another bowl of tomatillos, I'd definitely do it again.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Meditterraneean Eggplant and Fennel Stew

So as most of you know, I am doing a CSA this year. Some weeks I am better organized than others and use up all my veggies before more come. Well, it's Thursday and I still had eggplant and fennel (and potatoes and corn). So I did a search for "fennel and eggplant." There seemed to be two appealing options: Oven Baked Parmesan Crusted Eggplant and Fennel and Mediterranean Eggplant and Fennel Stew. For some reason I chose the latter (less work I think).
The ingredients were as follows:

fennel, EVOO, onion, garlic, diced tomates, veggie broth, eggpplant, olives (which I omitted), cinnamon, bay leaf (which I forgot to take out), capers (which I omitted) and balsamic vinegar.

It may be because I omitted some things, but this was not very good. Actually the smell was pretty close to nauseating. I think it was the cinnamon. Happily it tasted better than it smelled, and I was able to choke down a bowl full but I won't make this again! I definitely wish I had made the parmesan crusted eggplant!

Monday, August 31, 2009

Everyday Food Magazine - July / August 2009

The Summer issue of EDF was for July & August so I had twice as much time to get through it. I'm not sure I did much better - but here's my recap!

A little known secret about me is that I don't really like chicken. I don't dislike it, but I rarely eat it and love it. I almost never make recipes with chicken, but I did stop to make the Chicken Burger with Roasted Poblano and Onion. I didn't bother to buy buns, so you can see mine on bread. It was actually really good and roasting the poblano was really fun!

The in-season food was corn (pretty obvious choice for the summer). I flagged the recipe for Corn and Shrimp Chowder with Bacon, even though I knew I'd probably never make it. It's a pretty heavy dish for the summer and even in the winter I always feel guilty making stuff that rich.

Also in the in-season section was a recipe for Corn & Zucchini Sautee with Basil that I made the same night I made the Pork & Chorizo Kebabs. Except my kebabs were made with pork & turkey sausage! My local farmer's market has a guy that sells turkey in all forms, one of which is a spicy sausage. I've gotten to be pretty dependent on having some in the house at all times because its an easy way to add protein without spending very much energy at all! I'll have to remember to fill my freezer at the end of the farmer's market season. There was a whole section on kebab's in this issue, but the only other pairing that looked exciting to me was the one for Lamb, Tomato, & Mint Kebabs. The lamb was much tastier than the pork. I highly recommend these!

I also tried their recipe for BBQ Sauce which came out really well. Sadly I made it right around the time my fridge died so it was one of the things that needed to be thrown out that night! One of my most favorite blogs ever is The Pioneer Woman. Often, with the recipes she posts, she posts a "cast of characters" photo that shows everything that went into the recipe. Since, when cooking, I always feel the need to pull everything out ahead of time, it felt really easy to snap my own "cast of characters" picture for the BBQ sauce. Good thing I did, because there's not much to photograph when you're done with BBQ sauce. It looks pretty boring in a jar. So, without further ado, my BBQ sauce cast of characters:

And finally, as always, a list of recipes, I flagged, but never got around to making:

Friday, August 28, 2009

Pearl Barley Salad

When I'm organized, I like to make a lot of something on Sunday to have for lunches all week. Whenever I do it I feel like a genius because I don't have to panic every evening trying to find something to bring for lunch. I've made couscous and quinoa salads similar to this so I looked for something with a different grain and I decided to try this one. It turned out to be so good! It's pearl barley with roasted veggies - eggplant, zucchini, and onion - with a basic dressing. It even looks gorgeous too, with all the veggies. I did roast the onions with the other veggies, and I think next time I would roast the tomatoes too. It was so good and everyone commented on it too! You should try it.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Ham & Egg Fried Rice

One night I just happened to find myself with a slice of ham, a tiny bit of rice, eggs and some scallions in my fridge (and prob not much more!). Somehow inspiration struck and I made the recipe for Ham & Egg Fried Rice in the April 2009 issue of Everyday Food. Ok, fine it wasn't really inspiration, but I did some how magically recall the recipe. It ended up being super easy and fast to make - not to mention yummy!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Everyday Food Magazine - June 2009

** I wrote this post ages ago and never remembered to go back and add the pics and then publish it! Oops!

Clearly they publish these things faster than I can keep up with them -- trying the recipes or blogging about the issue! Here's a belated recap of the June 2009 issue.

I made Gnocchi with Summer Vegetables and decided it would be a go-to summer recipe for a quick and easy dinner. See I even remembered to take a picture:

I also tried their recipe for Strawberry Jam. I'd been meaning to make my own jam for awhile. It really is as easy as the recipe suggests. I scrimped on the sugar a bit and haven't missed it. I did break out my new (to me, hand-me-down from my mom) food processor to chop the strawberries and in my excitement of now owning the gadget I think I over processed a bit, but its still yummy and goes on my toast each morning.

So now, what I didn't get to:

The obvious in season fruit of the month was strawberries and they included a recipe for Strawberry Icebox Pie that looked easy and yummy.

I'm not sure if I've mentioned this before, but Emeril does a recipe or 2 in the magazine each month and this one's recipe was for Pork & Chorizo Burgers. I'm waiting to have a group of people over to make them.

Also flagged by me:

-Baked Onion Rings
-Salmon Cakes
-Sauteed Shrimp with Scallion Rice
-Jam Cupcakes with Chocolate Frosting
-Grilled Steak with Tomatoes and Scallions
-Spinach Phyllo Pie
-Roasted Eggplant Dip
-Honey Chipotle Glazed Ribs
-Jerk Chicken Wings
-Roasted Eggplant with Basil
-Almond & Orange Yogurt Cake
-Brownie Cookies

I promise the next EDF recap will have more recipes actually tried by me - I've already made more of a dent in it than the June issue. Plus - its a July / August issue so I have 2 months to work my way through it!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Tomato Goat Cheese Tartes

I saw this on Barefoot Contessa about two weeks ago, and made it myself this past week. Omg, rarely do I make something so CRAZY DELICIOUS. And, it was easy as pie to make!

Here is the original recipe, but let me tell you how easy and tasty it is!

2 medium onions or 1 large one
Pastry dough (go out and get it in the freezer section, next to frozen pie crusts)
One thick tomato
goat cheese
Parmesan cheese
basil (optional)

1. Cut onions in half, and then chop them into thin long strips cross wise
2. Saute onions in olive oil on low/medium heat until they turn yellow/yellow brown (the key here is that this can take 15 minutes or more. Be patient! The flavors are knock out.
3. Add thyme and pepper and saute just a little longer.
4. Take pastry dough and cut into sections that are 6 inches across and put on parchment paper on a baking sheet. (note: the BC uses 6 inch diameter circles. This is all nice and aesthetically pleasing except all your leftover dough then will be wonky shaped. So, if you plan on making more than just 2 circles, I suggest doing squares. The puff pastry looks just as cool even if it's angled, but you want to have at least an quarter inch of dough around the food in the center.)
5. Take a knife and score a circle in the dough at least a quarter inch from the boarder. (I prefer at least an inch) This will be your "landing pad" for all the food!
6. Shave Parmesan cheese into circle. Be liberal!
7. Heap caramelized onions on top of cheese. (mmm!)
8. Put goat cheese on top of onions (like 1 tbs to 3 tbs depending on your love of goat. cheese.)
9. cut a nice thick slice of tomato and put on top of goat cheese
10. Shave more parmesan cheese on top of tomato. Basil can be added here too.

It will, at this point, look like a little tower which is cool. Don't worry, the puff pastry will do exactly that--PUFF!

11. Put in oven at 400 for 30 minutes or so. Check after 20 to make sure it's not burnt.
12. EAT.

it is amazing.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Blackberry Mini Muffins

Today a bunch of things came together and told me I was destined to make blackberry mini muffins.

1. First, this morning at a yard sale I found a bunch of cooling racks. I have never owned cooling racks because I never thought it was worth it to buy them. I've been waiting for the day when I would find some at a yard sale or on the free table and that day was today.

2. We went to Duxbury to visit some relatives and one of their main attractions (yes, aside from the soft sand beaches) is the "Duxbury Mall" which is the free stuff pile at the dump. Mining this place is like a career for some people there, but I was lucky enough to come away with a mini muffin tin.

3. Mom was over to visit and she brought lots of fresh picked blackberries from her backyard. We had some for breakfast but there were a whole bunch leftover.

I knew the blackberry mini muffins were meant to be. I used this recipe but substituted yogurt instead of sour cream because that's what I had, and of course they are very good. It was serendipitous!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Chipotle Beans

This one's probably not something Julia Child would have made, not quite enough butter for her. None at all actually. It's another one from 101 Cookbooks: Giant Chipotle White Beans. The unique thing about this is you have to buy a can of chipotle peppers but then you just use the smoky sauce. It's kind of a waste because I had to toss the peppers, but the sauce does add a different flavor. Plus the giant beans are really fun and this queso fresco is really good. I used to have queso fresco with my Mexican roommate but I never knew it was also called farmer's cheese or that it was popular and available everywhere these days. So, a great discovery! I've been eating this dish all week for lunch, it's a great find!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Julie & Julia

I just saw Julie and Julia tonight at a preview showing, thanks to the WGBH-Julia connection! It was great. How could you not love Julia Child, and Julie was just like us! Great cooks that sometimes mess up and have meltdowns. I don't think I'll be trying many of Julia Child's recipes anytime soon, and I'm still trying to stay away from all that butter. But the chocolate cake I would definitely go for. If we made more than one recipe a day, maybe we'd have lots of fans on our blog, but I still love it the way it is! So get motivated everyone, and keep posting! Here is a video of the actual Julia Child's cooking show - The French Chef.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Chocolate covered banana bites

I decided to make chocolate covered banana pieces. As you can see, they were kind of a disaster. They tasted really good though. I got one or two that came out kind of okay, you can see the best one there. It's just not possible to get the chocolate on smoothly and keep it on smoothly. Eh, oh well. Now I've started to think about what else I could cover in chocolate...

Monday, July 20, 2009

Green Bean Casserole

Every so often, J and I take a trip to Trader Joes, or also known as, land of the best frozen food. I don't know what it is about that place, but it makes frozen food appetizing. I think it's that TJs doesn't banish their frozen greens to a ice chest with a heavy door and a white plastic bag with birds on it. No, we SEE the beans, flash frozen, glistening with possibility, or the mouthwatering cherries, preserved at it's peak and ready for me to thaw and enjoy.

This often amounts to me buying way too much frozen food, where, when we get home, I banish it to the back of our freezer until a day, like today, when we have returned from vacation and have no food in the house. That is when I am reminded of the possiblities with the green beans, which now, are glistening even more due to freezer burn.

Green Bean Casserole, we meet again.

One thing i hate about green bean casserole: Campells Soup apparently blackmailed Mrs. Joy of Cooking and the rest of the 50s housewife world by insisting that mushroom soup is a necessary ingredient. Even googling "green bean casserole" yields THOUSANDS of recipes, all using mushroom soup. That soppy, half solid/half liquid, salty grey plaster.

Not fabulous.

So, here's where I've looked around and found a vegan casserole

The only things that I would change are:
-skipping the soy creamer
-adding 1-2 tbs butter to make the sauce more of a roux before adding stock, yet then rendering it unvegan.

I also didn't have fresh mushrooms, so i subbed in dried porcini which added a nice nutty/woodsy taste to the entire dish.

Now that there are no green beans in my freezer, I probably will feel compelled to buy them again during my next TJs shop. Maybe next time, I'll find a better use.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

101 Cookbooks

I recently discovered a new food blog with lots of recipe ideas and I love it! It's 101 Cookbooks. A friend at work told me about it and I've been reporting back to her every time I make something from it. It's all vegetarian and is all about whole foods and natural, healthy stuff. Here are a couple things I've made so far, but there are lots more I want to try. I particularly like it because she talks a bunch about each recipe and how she got the idea for it. And she makes it sound so easy to just throw things together from whatever you have in the pantry. Granted, I don't have a pantry, but still.

Garam Masala Tofu Scramble
My tofu doesn't come out scrambled, I think it's too firm. But I love garam masala and with cranberries and pistachios, you can't go wrong. I made this once and then I made it again the very next week. I take leftovers for lunch and I feel like it's even better the next day. Simple and delicious!

Orange Pan-glazed Tempeh
(pictured) Believe it or not, this was my first time having tempeh. I'd been meaning to try it but didn't know what to do with it so when I saw the recipe I knew tempeh time had come. I even squeezed my own oranges because I had time and I wanted to see if it was better than buying orange juice for the recipe. I spilled the orange juice at least twice and it wasn't any better, so just buy a bottle, ok? My tempeh wasn't pretty and triangular like hers, but it was really good! And very filling. But, I took it the next day for lunch and it was not good, it got too dry by then. So just make enough to eat and not more.


It's been a while since I posted anything. I was cooking a bunch a few weeks ago, but then I pretty much stopped because I was insanely busy the last 2 weeks. I'm hoping this week will be a bit calmer and I can get back to it. Since hubby started working full time, I've been trying to do more of the cooking but it's too hard to think of things each day. So I'm trying this super organized thing where I plan a bunch of meals for the week on Sunday and buy all the ingredients (or almost all) so each evening when I get home I'm ready to go. This may sound easy, and lots of blogs say it is, but I assure you it's very difficult.

One thing I've started trying is polenta. I just didn't really know what to do with it before, but I finally tried some polenta recipes and they were great. I'm now an official polenta fan. I didn't take my own pictures but here are some polenta things I made:

Italian Eggs over Spinach and Polenta (pictured) from Cooking Light, though I made something really similar before from Giada deLaurentiis. It's easy to go overboard with the cheese though I try to control myself. And you can feel good about it because it has greens in it. I despise spinach so I use kale instead.

Mini Meatloaves with Tomato-Balsamic Gravy from Rachael Ray. These are great, not least because you get to make a roux which is a really cool word. The recipe suggests having it with mac and cheese but as I try to avoid that (it's very difficult) I had the genius idea of having it with polenta! I highly recommend it that way.

I'd love to hear anything else you've done with polenta, so start posting people!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Rhubarb Meringue Pie

Hello gastrofabulous readers! My name is Angela, and I'm a friend of Uma's. I'm currently living in Finland with my boyfriend Kimmo, and the GF ladies allowed us to do a guest post.

We set out to make the 'Mom's Rhubarb Delight' from the blog Siskot Kokkaa.

The recipe is translated here (bear with us because the measurements are european, so it doesn't convert easily to american measurements):

150g butter (1 stick = 113g)
3 dl wheat flour (1 cup = 2.38 dl)
3 tbsp water
1 tbsp sugar

350g rhubarb (we had 3 big stalks)
4 tbsp sugar (according to taste -- she uses less in the springtime)

2 egg whites
3 to 4 tbsp sugar

serves 6 to 8.

The instructions are long and we don't want to translate everything, but here is a brief summary:

Preheat oven to 220 Celsius (about 425 F).

Whip the butter with a mixer, then add the flour and sugar. Mix until dough is crumbly. Add water, one tablespoon at a time (the recipe here says 'until it feels right', which was irritating, because if we knew what felt right then we wouldn't be using the recipe, right?). Let rest in a cool place for a while so it's easier to handle, then press into the pie pan evenly.

Slice the rhubarb into pieces about 1cm in width and place into the pie crust. Sprinkle a thin coating of sugar over the rhubarb. Place in the oven and bake for about 30-35 minutes, or until the rhubarb is soft.

For the meringue, whip egg whites until soft peaks form. Then whip in sugar, one tablespoon at a time. Pour onto rhubarb and place pie back into the oven for a few minutes, just long enough to give the meringue a golden brown color.

Peeling the rhubarb -- my first time! Some people don't peel them (which preserves the pinkish color better) but it was really fun:

Here is the chopped rhubarb in the crust, pre-oven:

Here we are making little peaks in the top of the meringue:

All done!

We ate it all in about a day, so I'm guessing that 'serves 8' is a pipe dream.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Delicious Spring Recipes

Spring is almost over! I can't believe it.

Well, onto some delicious spring/early summer recipes that I've stumbled upon...

Rhubarb Crisp is delicious. Rhubarb is for sure a seasonal fruit, and we had a whole bushel growing in our backyard for the picking. The young, tender red stalks are the best, but if you lack your own rhubarb plant, whole foods has plenty of stalks right now.

By the way, "fruit" is a pretty generous definition of a long thin stalk, but technically, rhubarb is a fruit.

This recipe from Food and Wine was tremendously delicious. I didn't even need any extra sugar!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Everyday Food Magazine - May 2009

Apologies for the late post - I started this draft ages ago and never got around to digging up all of the links! Better late than never....
My June issue of EDF arrived much sooner than I expected. But that means, its time for me to recap May's issue. Sadly, I didn't try a single recipe out of this month! (As a lame excuse I offer the fact that I spent many evenings in the last month searching for a new apt, a subletter for my current apartment, and just generally fantasizing about my new kitchen. Somehow with all of that going on I really didn't pull out the mag to explore.) Worry not - I flagged plenty - so here's the recap:

The in-season food of the month was rhubarb. Quite honestly, the stuff has never really excited me, but I did flag the recipe for Rhubarb Crumb Bars. I will admit I think I half intended to substitute something else for the rhubarb. Anyone else have any feelings about rhubarb good or bad?

Remember awhile back when I posted about trying a recipe for Oven Fried Chicken and I thought it was kinda lame? Well this issue has a recipe that looks much more promising than the one I originally tried.

They had a section this month on Chicken 6 Ways. Here are the ones I flagged:
-Roasted Chicken with Lemons and Fennel
-Chicken Cutlets with Herb Butter

Also in this issue were the following recipes I flagged:
-Emeril's Lemon Herb Grilled Shrimp
-Blueberry Almond Granola (I thought this looked so fun to make your own granola! Definitely a project for my new kitchen!)
-Cinnamon-Oat Pancakes
-Steak Salad with Snap Peas
-Roasted Salmon with Herbed Yogurt
-Buttermilk Creams with Strawberries
-Versatile Vanilla Cake (they also printed Chocolate and Lemon variations)
-Glazed Lemon Cookies

Friday, June 12, 2009

French Toast and fresh peaches

I finally got the inspiration to post one of my culinary creations and ironically, it is probably one of the simplest recipes you could possibly make. 

One of my favorite activities is to have a quiet Saturday or Sunday morning with a hot cup of coffee and a great breakfast. French toast has become a favorite of mine - it is easy to make and can be dressed up with some fresh fruit to make it even better. 

Recently, I got some fresh peaches in my produce box and immediately wanted to use them as a topping for french toast. 

Here's the recipe with inexact amounts (you can't really screw it up - it is super easy):

Mix together 1 egg, half a cup of milk, a teaspoon of vanilla, about 2 small spoonfuls of sugar, and a teaspoon of cinnamon. Slice some high-quality bread (the egg mixture above will be enough for about 4 small slices of bread). I use sourdough  - SF has the best sourdough bread. Get a griddle on the stove and spread some butter on the surface. Once the griddle is nice and hot, dip the bread slices in the egg mixture and make sure it soaks into the bread. Place the bread slices on the griddle, let them cook until the bottom side is browned and then flip. Cook until both sides are browned. 

While the french toast is cooking, cut up your favorite fresh fruit topping (peaches, strawberries, blueberries, and blackberries are all good). Melt some butter in a small skillet and throw in the cut up fruit and caramelize the fruit in the butter until it is heated through. Warm up some real maple syrup (don't skimp and buy Aunt Jemima - there is a huge difference) in the microwave for 20 seconds. Put it all together as in the picture above and enjoy. Not exactly a super healthy breakfast, but a darn good one. 

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Sweet Potato Quesadillas & Homemade Tortilla chips

I got this recipe from my Moosewood cookbook. It was very labor intensive to grate the sweet potatoes, but ended up tasting delicious. I wonder if it could be done in a food processor? Somehow I ended up using like every pot, pan and dish for this recipe, but it was worth it. I halved this for two people.

1.5 cups finely chopped onion
2 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
3 TBS vegetable oil
4 cups grated peeled sweet potato (about 3 potatoes)
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon chili powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
generous pinch of cayenne
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese

8 tortillas
Sour Cream

Saute the onions & garlic in the oil until the onions are translucent. Add the grated sweet potatoes, oregano, chili powder, cumin and cayenne and cook covered for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent sticking. (I cooked for less time). When the sweet potato is tender, add salt and pepper to taste and remove from heat. Spread 1/8th of the filling and 2 tablespoons of cheese on half of each tortilla. Fold in half and place in the skillet. Add a little bit of oil. Cook on each side for 2 or 3 minutes. Garnish and dip with salsa and sour cream, if desired.

Homemade Tortilla Chips
This also is from my friend's homemade cookbook. These are easy!
4 8 inch flour tortillas, cut into 6ths or 8ths
2 TBS olive oil
1/4 teaspoon salt

Optional: any or all of the following
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

Preheat oven to 350

Combine olive oil, tortillas, salt, and any of the spices in a large bowl. Toss to coat. Spread in a single layer on a greased baking sheet and bake about 15 minutes (it took less for me), until the edges curl up and they are slightly browned and crisp. They will get firmer as they cool.

Skillet Glazed Tofu

I think I may have mentioned that for my birthday, a good friend of mine actually MADE me a cookbook. She is a phenomenal cook who is not afraid to improvise or make her own recipes. The hallmark of her recipes is her knowledge of alternatives or how to substitute. Everything i have from her has been so good!

The other night I made her Skillet glazed tofu. It was delicious. My only complaint is that it was very time consuming to turn all the little cubes. I am wondering if maybe it would work better to cook the tofu and then slice it.

1 block firm tofu, drained
2 TBS vegetable oil

2 large garlic cloves, chopped
2 TBS lime juice, lemon juice, or rice vinegar
1 TBS minced fresh ginger, or 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/3 to 1/2 cup soy sauce
1 tablespoon molasses, honey, or maple syrup
2 TBS dark sesame oil
a few shakes of any other asian style sauce or ingredient (hoisin, terikyaki)
Cilantro or scallions (optional)

Slice tofu crosswise into two slabs. Press tofu with paper towels to remove excess water, then cut into 1 inch cubes.

Heat vegetable oil over medium-high heat in a large nonstick frying pan until the oil is liquidy. Put the tofu into the pan in single layer. Cook undisturbed fro 5-6 minutes or until a nice brown crust forms on the bottom. Carefully turn the cubes so that another side is facing down. Cook undisturbed for another 5 or minutes until that side is brown, then turn tofu one more time and cook until browned.

Meanwhile, mix up all other ingredients in a small bowl with a whisk or a fork.

When the tofu is browned, turn down the heat to medium and pour in sauce. It will sizzle like crazy and smell really good. Stir to coat the tofu and cook for 5-7 minutes, stirring and turning the tofu occasionally until the sauce had reduced to a lovely syrupy glaze and edges of the tofu are browned.

Serve over hot rice, toss in a stir fry, mix with noodles and steamed vegetables, put into wraps or eat plain!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Global Cupcakes

To follow up on Uma's post about Rainbow Cake, I wanted to show off more neat things you can do with cake and colored gel: Celebrate Earth day.

Here are little world cupcakes that I made in honor of earth day. I think they turned out super well. They look kind of like little maps, all mini pieces of different continents. The toasty areas make for even more topographic variation. I could even go as far as to overlay a google map image on top...but we won't go there.

Frosted with white, they were snow capped delicious cupcakes! Earth never tasted so good!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Taco Skillet

I found this recipe for Beef Taco Skillet and made the mistake of showing it to Rajeev. I was just asking if he'd want to try it one day. Little did I know he'd love the Campbell's picture so much that he'd ask for it every time I asked what he wanted for dinner. I finally made it last week (with ground turkey instead of ground beef) and it was a hit! I suggest adding some red pepper flakes to give it more of a kick.

I insisted we have some sort of vegetable to go with it so I simply sauteed some corn with red pepper.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Thai Chicken Salad

Yesterday was so hot so I wanted to think of something that didn't need a lot of cooking. I found this Thai Chicken Salad and got the ingredients. Then it ended up being so hot I didn't even feel like eating. I didn't want the chicken to go bad (how long does that stuff last anyways?!?!) so I made it tonight even though I didn't have time until 11pm. I had a few bites just now and I think it'll be a great lunch for tomorrow and probably the next day too. I don't think it's very Thai really, but I love peanut butter so I'm a fan. Mine looked absolutely nothing like the picture, partly because I omitted the noodles. Mine is basically a bowl of cabbage, carrots, and cucumber, with chicken on top and doused with peanut butter sauce. I can't be bothered to take a picture though because it's really almost bedtime. This should be a good standby for hot days in the summer.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Evereyday Food Magazine - April 2009

April's issue contained tons of recipes I want to try and sadly I barely made any before May's issue arrived. (Partly due to the fact that my April issue got lost in the mail and was almost 2 weeks late and partly b/c I've been busy!) None-the-less -- here's my recap:

Recipes I made:
The "In-Season" food of the month was Asparagus, so there were several recipes using asparagus. Here are the ones I didn't manage to try:
Among the "5 Great Meals for Under $10" I flagged, but didn't get around to making:
They had a section on "Unbeatable Egg Suppers" which I'm all about since I've always loved eggs for dinner! I flagged the whole section but never made any of them:
They also had a section on making cookies that you normally buy in the store. Here are the one's I flagged to try:
Finally, here are the remaining misc. recipes I wanted to try as well:
(I know - it was a good issue! I flagged a lot of it! Just means more things to try later! Let me know if you make any - I'm especially curious about the ones I didn't try yet.)

Dinner: Quiche, Chicken, and Salad

Last night for dinner I made a few things (and dirtied several dishes!) for my roommates, Rajeev, and I. In all the excitement, I completely forgot to take pictures - we'll have to settle for other people's pics.

Asparagus, Leek, and Gruyere Quiche
I love quiche of all kinds and have suggested it to Rajeev on several occasions, but he never seemed into the idea. Finally the other night I declared that I was making quiche (once I knew my roomies were going to join us for dinner and it wouldn't be just me eating a giant quiche in case he hated it)! Aside from being really yummy, I like quiche because its so easy to make and people always think its hard! I'm sure it gets harder if you make your own pie crust - but I have yet to do that, so for now - easy peasy. Asparagus is the featured "in season" food in this month's EDF so I made the quiche recipe in that section. As expected, it was not a big deal to make and super yummy. (How could something that something with that much cream and eggs not be yummy?)

Oven Fried Chicken (aka - do it yourself Shake and Bake)
From my Help My Apartment Has a Kitchen book that was gifted to me when I graduated from college, I found a recipe for Oven Fried Chicken. It claims to yield the yum factor of fried chicken without the take out container & without the frying. The recipe might as well be called DIY Shane & Bake. You basically throw bread crumbs & seasoning (I used garlic powder, oregano, & cayenne) into a zip-lock, put the chicken in, shake away, and then bake it. (Smells of an 80's gimic, if you ask me.) When the chicken came out of the oven, shake and bake chicken was exactly what I had - but it tasted good so I'm not really complaining.

Mediterranean salad with Green Beans and Goat Cheese
To round out the meal I made this salad (swapping the feta for goat cheese since that's what I had at home). It was ok. Everyone liked it but me (I should have known since I don't like raw red onions), but we ended up with leftovers that needed to be thrown out because between the pre-mixed in dressing and the juice from the oranges it would have been super soggy.

Overall - the 3 went together for a pretty good dinner. Too bad there isn't a pic of them all on 1 plate. Oops!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Engagement Cupcakes

Another week, another batch of cupcakes! Clearly I'm on a cupcake kick here. I wanted to make something to celebrate Maura's engagment and my big idea was cupcakes with rings on them. Sarah! happened to be in town for a few hours so she helped me make them. They didn't come out as good as we planned, but for the first try they are not bad. We experimented with a few different designs but ended up with rings and flowers.
I originally wanted to use rock candy for the diamonds, but didn't find any at the store. Sarah thought of using silver balls to put on the band, which would look like Maura's ring, but we didn't find those either. Then we wanted to make the rings look like they were in a ring box, sticking out of the cupcake. But there was no good way to attach the jewels to the fondant because it was too soft. Next time someone gets engaged we'll perfect all of the above! But for this time we settled on fondant rings with crystallized ginger stones. And Sarah made some awesome flowers too. And that's our cupcake story for this week!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Carrot Cupcakes

I'm so proud of my carrot cupcakes! I kept seeing pictures of cupcakes with cute little carrots on top and then I was determined to figure out how to make my own. It was quite a process, but I did it. The carrot cake recipe was sort of a combination of the one Uma used from EDF and this one from the Food Network. I of course did the cream cheese frosting too, because why would you ever pass up on a chance to eat frosting!?

As you can imagine, the carrots were the tricky part. Here they are after I had made them, a day early, before I put them on the cupcakes. I did some research on fondant and discovered that fondant you buy in stores allegedly tastes terrible. But fondant is pretty difficult to make. But then I found out about MMF - marshmallow fondant. I wouldn't say it's easy, but it's definitely doable, and I'm sure next time will be better since I'll know what I'm doing. This blog did a great job explaining how to make MMF. Basically you melt marshmallows and add a ton of powdered sugar and it turns into a playdough consistency. Except mine was really sticky, but with the help of corn starch and crisco, I managed. And I think the carrots came out so cute! Hehe I can't wait to EAT THEM ALL!