Tag Archives: savory

Procrastinating…eggplant lasagna

16 Jan
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I can’t find an original source for this but I think it’s funny. Picked up from reddit

I’m giving a talk tomorrow in my advisor’s little seminar and I’m definitely doing that silly thing where I’m too unprepared and panicky about it, and hence rather than preparing I’m procrastinating (because the thought of preparing makes me realize how unprepared I am).  That’s a universal problem.  My specific problem is that this paper by Olshanskii is SO COOL and has all the things I like (functions between graphs, some combinatorics, some algebra, lots of pictures) and yet the talk I’m preparing is SO BORING.  Somehow I sucked all the fun out of the paper and now my talk is joyless, which is exactly what you *don’t* want to do when teaching or talking.  It’s like listing all the ways to integrate functions without ever saying why integration is so awesome.  Giving someone that flowchart above without a picture of an integral.

So instead, I’ll blog about a food!

Inspired by my friend Ellie, I tried to make eggplant lasagna.  It’s nice because my former-Paleo SO likes to avoid pasta, so I have yet to make regular lasagna (which my wonderful mom used to make all the time).

Yknow how to make these beautiful red fruits seem grosser?  Say the name aloud with a stress on the first syllable.  TOE-mato.  Ugh.  Just imagine toenailmatoes.

Yknow how to make these beautiful red fruits seem grosser? Say the name aloud with a stress on the first syllable. TOE-mato. Ugh. Just imagine toenailmatoes.

I don’t buy tomato sauce, though it seems so convenient and I’m all for convenience!  I just know I’ll never finish a jar before it goes bad and I hate throwing food out, while diced tomatoes or whole tomatoes in a can last approximately forever.  So the first thing to do is make some tomato sauce.

Step one: dice up some garlic.  If you have a garlic press, good for you!  We got one for Christmas and I promptly broke it.  I pushed too hard?  Here are some up close photos of how to peel garlic: press the flat side of a blade against the clove, and the peel will pop right off.

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Then start to fry up the garlic in a little bit of olive oil until fragrant.  I added some oregano, basil, and red pepper flakes.

It'd probably burn your tongue if you (gar)LICKed this up

It’d probably burn your tongue if you (gar)LICKed this up

Pour in a can of diced tomatoes (I like the fire roasted ones sometimes).

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Sauce is hard to apPOURtion out

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Though portable, I wouldn’t take this all the way to SAUCE-alito. I mean, it’s probably too much liquid for the airline and CA is far.

Season with some salt and pepper, let it simmer for a bit while you slice up your eggplant.

Have you stopped by the waffle factory lately?  I hear there's a lot of great things coming out of that EGGoPLANT.

Have you stopped by the waffle factory lately? I hear there’s a lot of great things coming out of that EGGoPLANT.

Some people recommend salting your eggplant for awhile to leach the bitterness out, but I’ve never had a problem with bitter eggplant.  If you want to do that, slice em all and throw em in a strainer and sprinkle a bunch of salt all over that for half an hour.  I have zero patience so I also skip this step.  Another good step: roast the eggplant ahead of time (see the zero patience thing).  Roasting eggplant here.

I was thinking of a lemon pun BUT THEN I DISCOVERED THAT LEMMINGS ARE SO CUTE.  CLICK ON IMAGE.

I was thinking of a lemon pun BUT THEN I DISCOVERED THAT LEMMINGS ARE SO CUTE. CLICK ON IMAGE.

Now that your sauce is all simmered, give it a taste.  Apparently I added some onion to it at some point (how about that!) and a squeeze of lemon (never hurts).  I also like adding a bit of sugar to combat the acidity/bitterness of tomatoes.

Throw the sauce aside, and soften some diced onions in your pan with some olive oil.  Then throw in some sliced mushrooms (I’m lazy and buy the pre-sliced ones which always say you should wash them, which makes me think that’s beside the point of buying them presliced).  You could also put in whatever veggie here: zucchini, yellow squash, red or green peppers, etc. etc.

What if you built a cross between an RV and a dogsled?  Then you'd have a MUSHroom

What if you built a cross between an RV and a dogsled? Then you’d have a MUSHroom

Once that’s cooked, throw in some spinach.

When spinach goes to a concert in LA, it prefers the WILTern

When spinach goes to a concert in LA, it prefers the WILTern

I grabbed all the cheese-like products in my fridge, which was: half a ball of mozzarella, a pack of cream cheese, some shredded parmesan, and some greek yogurt.  I mixed it except for the mozzarella with two beaten eggs, some olive oil, and a tablespoon of this weird basil paste I bought.

There's some alright bases out there (10, 2 for binary, 3 for Cantor set proof)... but for sure the most sweet is base ILL

There’s some alright bases out there (10, 2 for binary, 3 for Cantor set proof)… but for sure the most sweet is base ILL

Then mix your cheese mixture with the veggies in the pan.

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And layer tomato sauce, eggplant, cheese mix, tomato sauce, eggplant, cheese mix, tomato sauce, and top with sliced fresh tomatoes and mozzarella cheese.

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Bake at 350 until cheese is bubbly, 20 minutes or so.

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This was so yummy!

Eggplant lasagna:

1-2 eggplants

1 can tomatoes + cloves of garlic + spices OR some spaghetti sauce

1 onion

vegetables: mushrooms, peppers, squash, kale, spinach, whatever…

1-2 fresh tomatoes

some mozzarella

2-3 eggs

ricotta or cream cheese

olive oil

1. If you’re making tomato sauce, make it.  Garlic and onion in olive oil until soft, then add a can of tomatoes, and spices (oregano, basil, red pepper flakes, salt, pepper) to taste.  Let simmer while you do other things.

2. Slice the eggplant.  If you prefer, salt it to eliminate bitterness.

3. Cook the vegetables.

4. Make the cheese mix: beat eggs with some olive oil and cheeses.  

5. Layer tomato sauce, eggplant, veggies, cheese, etc.  Top with fresh tomato slices and slices of fresh mozzarella.  Bake at 350 for 20-30 minutes, or until cheese is bubbly and melted.

I’m just going to wake up at 6 tomorrow and write my talk again and make it more exciting.

My mom’s thit kho (Vietnamese braised pork with eggs)

22 Dec

So I said in my one-year anniversary post that the next post would be this recipe.  I apologize for lying.  I’ll try hard not to!

This is one of my favorite comfort foods.  It reminds me of my dad.  He didn’t make a wide variety of foods, but the ones he did he did right- bo kho (Vietnamese beef stew) with fresh bread from the store, bun mang vit (duck noodle soup with bamboo), pho ga (chicken pho, using two chickens), prime rib with twice-baked potatoes, and thit kho.  I also remember a lot of broccoli covered in cheese whiz, green beans dipped in hard boiled eggs crushed into soy sauce, and crackers covered in pieces of banana and cheese (I just tried to google this and got a woman who ate bananas + cheez whiz.  I am not willing to recreate this to show you a picture, you’ll just have to imagine the glory).

I don't want to support Cheese Whiz, so here is a pretty picture from this blog with a recipe for real cheese sauce.  Click on picture to go to Iowa Girl Eats.

I don’t want to support Cheese Whiz, so here is a pretty picture from this blog with a recipe for real cheese sauce. Click on picture to go to Iowa Girl Eats.

Luckily my mom also knows how to make thit kho, and I have an old email from my dad with the recipe for bo kho.  I doubt I’ll ever have pho ga or bun mang vit as delicious as he made it, but I will eventually try those too.  When I have a little more confidence with my Vietnamese cooking.

Thit kho is a wonderful food- sweet, fatty, salty.  The caramelized sugars play so well with the coconut juice, and the hard boiled eggs soaked in sauce are awesome when mashed into rice, with more sauce spooned on top.

You might want to hit the gym- looking a little porky there

You might want to hit the gym- looking a little porky there

Lots of recipes for this use just pork belly, but that’s a little TOO fatty for me.  I think it’s good to do 1/2 pork shoulder and 1/2 pork belly, or even 1/3 belly and 1/3 shoulder.  Marinate the pork with salt, pepper, and some minced garlic for at least half an hour.

Meanwhile, boil a bunch of eggs.  I like to put my eggs in cold water, bring to a boil, let boil for about a minute, and then turn off heat and cover.  Forget about them (or check on them after 10 minutes or so).  Then drain off the hot water and pour cool water into the pot so you don’t burn yourself trying to peel them.  To peel the warm eggs, crack them on the rim of the pot, then peel the shell off into the water, giving them a quick rinse to get rid of any extra eggshells.  Then you can dump the water through a colander to throw out the egg shells (or use them in your compost!)

Caution: it's about to get eggstremely hot in here

Caution: it’s about to get eggstremely hot in here

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Turns out eggs can’t handle the eggstreme condition (of being cracked and peeled), but who would?

My mom likes to brown the pork in a bit of oil first, but this is an optional step.

Come on over and meat the family!  We're all very close- you could say we're cut from the same cloth.  If by cloth you mean animal.

Come on over and meat the family! We’re all very close- you could say we’re cut from the same cloth. If by cloth you mean animal.

Not an optional step: cook rice!  My roommate has an awesome rice cooker that I love to use, but I guess now is a good time to start rice in a pot if you want to do that.

Ohhh yeah baby you know how to turn me on.  It's really not that hard.

Ohhh yeah baby you know how to turn me on. It’s really not that hard.

Now for the fun part!  Put some sugar in a pot (yes I’m going to be that vague.  Verbatim from my mother: “not too much.  Oh that’s sort of a lot.”)  Turn the heat to medium and WATCH IT CAREFULLY.

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It’ll go from sugar, to a syrup, to light brown, and finally to a deep brown.  MAKE SURE YOU PAY ATTENTION HERE because you don’t want it to burn.  When it’s that pretty color, toss in the pork and stir it around.

That's weird, it's like everyone has changed since you met us.

That’s weird, it’s like everyone has changed since you met us.

The Canadian saw this cooking and said "Pork, eh?".  The chef was Mexican and answered "because it's food?"
The Canadian saw this cooking and said “Pork, eh?”. The chef was Mexican and answered “because it’s food?”

Then dump in a bunch of coconut water.

I'm coco for coconut water!  I go nuts for coconut water!  There's no con in coconut water!  I should go into advertising.

I’m coco for coconut water! I go nuts for coconut water! There’s no con in coconut water! I should go into advertising.

Add in the eggs, and let simmer for 20-30 minutes, or until pork is cooked.  Turn off the heat, and dump in a bunch of fish sauce and some black pepper.  Serve over white rice with steamed veggies or the bean sprout salad below.

Bean sprout salad: microwave a few handfuls of beansprout in a plastic bag for 1 min and 30 seconds.  Check how crispy they are.  If you like them softer, keep microwaving in 30 second intervals.

Make a dressing: mix a lot of rice vinegar, a spoonful of sugar, and a few drops of sesame oil.

We have all our labels on already, so we're willing to help out with someone dressing.  Don't know why someone would need help with that.

We have all our labels on already, so we’re willing to help out with someone dressing. Don’t know why someone would need help with that.

Cut up whatever herbs you have (we had cilantro and green onion, but basil, mint, parsley would all be fine too) very finely, and toss with the beansprouts and dressing.

These bean sprouts don't seem to be dressed... where's the paper?

These bean sprouts don’t seem to be dressed… where’s the paper?

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Thit kho (from my mom!)

2 lbs of pork- your choice of how much to do belly and how much shoulder/butt.

Garlic

Fish sauce

Sugar

Pepper

Eggs (1-2 per person)

Coconut water

Salad: bean sprouts, fresh herbs, rice wine vinegar, sesame oil

1. Cut the pork up into 2-inch chunks.  Season with salt, pepper, and minced garlic.  Refrigerate while you hardboil the eggs and start cooking the rice.  Since it takes awhile to hardboil eggs, if a half hour hasn’t passed yet this is a good time to make that salad- microwave the bean sprouts for 1-2 minutes.  Mix 2 TB rice wine vinegar, 1 tsp sugar, and a few drops of sesame oil.  Mince herbs.  Toss with bean sprouts and dressing and set aside.

2. (optional) Quickly sear pork cubes on all sides to get them a little brown.  Alternately, parboil the pork for a minute or two to get rid of the gunk and have a slightly clearer sauce.  Alternately, do neither of these things (which I do most often).

3. CAREFULLY caramelize 3 TB or so of sugar (see pictures above). Immediately stir in the pork and pour in about a cup of coconut juice/soda (I love cocorico).  If you have a sweet tooth, use all coconut juice (I do!), but otherwise, add in enough water to cover the pork.  Bring to a simmer.

4. Peel your eggs.  Toss em in.  Cook for 20-30 minutes, or until pork is done.  Eat over white rice with the bean sprouts.

Sunday brunch- dill and caramelized onion mini-souffles

3 Nov

I am ridiculously, incredibly lucky and blessed in many many parts of my life, and some of those are a) I live in Chicago! and b) I have an awesome boyfriend who likes spending stupid amounts of money on restaurants (whereas I spend relatively stupid amounts of money on ingredients like chia seed and flax and agar agar).  So last week we grabbed a chance to eat the Bocuse d’Or menu at Next, which was ridiculous and exciting and a five hour extravaganza and the best experience of about 4-8 hours of my life (close second is the Twilight movie marathon I did before the midnight showing of the fourth movie).  There’s literally a trailer for our meal: http://youtu.be/hSnhoOwoG_s.  Here’s some random review talking about how great it was.

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Packs mighty flavor for such a shrimp of a dish (it’s maybe 2 inches in diameter). Photo by Michel Gebert, click for link to the site for more pictures.

This was one of my favorite dishes of the night, a teeny tiny savory souffle made with strong flavors of shrimp and fennel, with teeny juicy prawns tucked at the bottom.

I’m far from a molecular gastronomist or a great chef, but I’m a pretty decent cook and more importantly, I like food a lot.  Enough to experiment, to revel in the tasty and successful and to woman up and choke down the less tasty and less successful (well, besides that vegan key lime avocado pie I made with fermented avocado).  Whenever we go out to eat I like to make a mental note of the flavor combinations or of unusual things that go together- this is why I put raisins on my Indian curries or apples in my Vietnamese spring rolls.  So, inspired by this savory shrimp souffle, I thought I’d make mini savory souffles for brunch.  I opened my fridge and found a quarter of an onion, eggs, almond milk, half a bunch of dill and some cheddar cheese.  We seriously needed to go grocery shopping.

AL(l) I need in the MOND(e) is right here

AL(l) I need in the MOND(e) is right here

The basic steps for this souffle is much like the sweet souffle that I apparently haven’t posted yet.  Make a roux, add the milk until it’s thick, and in all the other things, bake.  Serve immediately before it depuffs!

But, but, but her piece was bigger!  Why did you melt mine???

But, but, but her piece was bigger! Why did you melt mine???

I agree, to just melt her like that without asking is just ROUX-de

I agree, to just melt her like that without asking is just ROUX-de

Oh c'mon how THICK are your skulls?  The cook doesn't care about any of your opinions.

Oh c’mon how THICK are your skulls? The cook doesn’t care about any of your opinions.

The thing that took longest here was grating all of the cheese.  This would be better with better cheese but I had a Costco block so that’s what I used.  I also caramelized some onions to put on the bottom of the souffles, like how Next had the little prawns on the bottom (prawns?  shrimp?  what are they called?)

Are these puns too cheesy?

Are these puns too cheesy?

All yolks aside, souffles are serious business

All yolks aside, souffles are serious business

Not a care in the world... that's not true; there's at least one: these CAREmelized onions

Not a care in the world… that’s not true; there’s at least one: these CAREmelized onions

So they tell you to beat the egg white until stiff, but I didn’t want to take the beater out of the box and wash it etc.  So I just whisked that egg white for 2-3 minutes and I got it pretty foamy/kept it’s shape-ish.  Whatever.  Egg whites can become like 8 times bigger and this one probably got twice as big, which is pretty good for hand whisking.

I barely got the whole bowl in this picture... maybe I should pick a whiter frame.

I barely got the whole bowl in this picture… maybe I should pick a whiter frame.

Enter the fold, my child.  And be... incorporated?

Enter the fold, my child. And be… incorporated?

This really was surprisingly easy.  Then just put the onions in your greased ramekins, pour the egg mix on top, and bake until done!

These make me tear up they're so cute

These make me tear up they’re so cute

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Dill and Caramelized Onion mini-souffles, adapted from food.com:

4 TB butter

1/4 onion

1/3 c flour

1 c milk

3 eggs

2 TB fresh dill

1/2 c grated cheese

Preheat the oven to 400.  It takes awhile which is why this step is up here.

Dice the onion and throw in a pan with a little bit of oil on medium.  Stir occasionally while doing below.

Melt the butter in a pot, then whisk in the flour to form a roux.  Once that’s mixed (see above picture; it can be sorta clumpy), pour in the milk and whisk hard so there’s no clumps.  Bring to a boil, stirring constantly, and simmer for a few minutes (<5) until the milk is thickened.

Turn off heat under the milk.  If you haven’t already, grate your cheese, chop the dill, separate your eggs, grease your ramekins (I cut the recipe in half and made 4 mini ramekins).  If the onions are done to your liking, put them in the ramekins.  If not, keep cooking them.

Stir the cheese, dill, and egg yolks into the sauce.  Beat the egg whites until stiff or until you’re bored of doing so, and fold it in, a little bit at a time.  Then divide the mixture into the ramekins and bake for 15-20 minutes, or until they look lightly golden brown on top and have poufed.  

Cauliflower Pizza! Also, on the joy of cooking

29 Sep

A few weeks ago, a friend from out of town visited and I took him to Longman & Eagle, my favorite restaurant in Chicago (if you go, you have to try the roasted bone marrow.  My yelp review here).  While there, I told him about this cauliflower pizza I had made.  Later, he asked me what other interesting weekend cooking projects I had on tap.  I didn’t quite understand what he meant, and he gave this pizza as an example of something special that one would devote an extra amount of time to, and perhaps make for a special occasion.  I told him that I made this pizza because it was a Tuesday and I had some cauliflower.  So, segue into a short thought about cooking.

People (generally around my age) are often impressed that I cook so much (by which I mean, every day).  I also eat every day, so it doesn’t seem all that crazy to me to put together the things that I eat.  Yet when I visit friends in New York, or friends who don’t wear jeans/shorts to work (another reason to love being a grad student), we only eat out.  Don’t get me wrong, there’s plenty of good food out there for the buying, and I’m sure if you do it judiciously it’s also healthy.  Maybe I’m just a control freak, but I like knowing what’s in my food, and that kind of transparency just isn’t possible for most places (also it’s cheaper to eat at home but that’s an obvious statement unless you’re prone to eating at Chipotle when you go out and only eat lobster and steak at home).  I like how little oil I use, I like knowing my ingredients, I like undersalting food.  And I love cooking- the magical alchemy of it, the pleasure of serving others, the satisfaction of pointing at something and saying “Hey!  Look world!  I made that!  I might’ve spent four hours today reading half a page of mathematics and coming up with a list of questions to ask my advisor, but I just made something that will nourish myself and others that I can touch!  I’m not a useless waste of space!”

On a bit of a darker note, cooking grounds me in a world of the endless luxury of sitting on a couch that we own and paging through a novel while a 3-year old gets shot at a park ten miles away from me.  I mean, the problem of evil is a big one, and spirituality/faith/philosophy are all ways that people deal with it.  I guess I’m saying that cooking is a spiritual ritual for me- it connects me with the billions of humans who exist and have ever existed: all of the grandmothers, the mothers, the daughters, and happily, the grandfathers, the fathers, the sons.  The friends, the clans, the families- eating together, seeking out nourishment in the physical sense and satisfying the need in the social and emotional sense as well.  Everyone who has ever lived has seen/experienced evil in their lives, and closer to every day than not, touched food.  Just one little keyboard key away from good.  I’m saying that food is good.

Excerpt from Jonathan Safran Foer’s Eating Animals (link here for a fuller excerpt):

It matters because food matters (their physical health matters, the pleasure they take in eating matters), and because the stories that are served with food matter.

Some of my happiest childhood memories are of sushi “lunch dates” with my mom, and eating my dad’s turkey burgers with mustard and grilled onions at backyard celebrations, and of course my grandmother’s chicken with carrots. Those occasions simply wouldn’t have been the same without those foods — and that is important. To give up the taste of sushi, turkey or chicken is a loss that extends beyond giving up a pleasurable eating experience. Changing what we eat and letting tastes fade from memory create a kind of cultural loss, a forgetting.

So!  Cauliflower pizza!  Once upon a time boyfriend was “paleo” and we still don’t eat too many carbs.  This was my first time making pizza by myself.

Cauli-egg, cauli-cheese, cauli-salt... oh we just add cauli to one of the ingredients?  Whoops, my bad.

Cauli-egg, cauli-cheese, cauli-salt… oh we just add cauli to one of the ingredients? Whoops, my bad.

First thing you do: take out that food processor!  Grate the heck out of your cauliflower florets.

Best floral arrangement ever.

Best floral arrangement ever.

On the edges of the food processor, you can see the border collie(flower).  I named that piece CauliLassie.

On the edges of the food processor, you can see the border collie(flower). I named that piece CauliLassie.

It’ll eventually turn into cauliflower “rice”.  Toss it in a bowl with a handful of water, top it with a loose plate, and microwave it for 5 minutes (alternately you can just do the same thing in a pot).  Most recipes say to toss it in a sieve at this point, and I tried that, but like no water comes out so I’m not sure why you’d do this.  Anyways, throw the cooked pulp into a clean dish towel, wrap that up like you’re a stork, and squeeze.  Niagara falls is going to come out and you will be surprised.

This probably is how the stork sees the little human babies- strange piles of mush inexplicably inside a towel that you're expected to wrap up and carry.  Why?

This probably is how the stork sees the little human babies- strange piles of mush inexplicably inside a towel that you’re expected to wrap up and carry. Why?

This is the end of the squeezing but there's still a steady stream coming out of there

This is the end of the squeezing but there’s still a steady stream coming out of there

Squeeze until you’re sick of doing so, then mix all the dough ingredients together.  I had a teeny tiny piece of mozzarella and ran out, so then I subbed in parmesan.

You could use that flax gel I've talked about before here, or egg, yknow? (that's a pun on 'oregano')

You could use that flax gel I’ve talked about before here, or egg, yknow? (that’s a pun on ‘oregano’)

Pinch me, I must be dreaming... of a gluten-free pizza!

Pinch me, I must be dreaming… of a gluten-free pizza!

Mix that up, pat it out, and bake it at 400 while you make the toppings.  I did a simple tomato sauce by pulsing a can of fire-roasted diced tomatoes with some garlic, olive oil, and spices.  Then I fried up some ham, drained a can of pineapple, and sliced up some mozzarella.

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Top that pizza and throw it back in until the cheese is melted.  Yum!  This was a fork-and-knife pizza because I made the crust a bit too thick, but I’m interested in experimenting with a thinner crust.

Seriously plain pizza
Seriously plain pizza
Top o' the evening to you!

Top o’ the evening to you!

Cauliflower crust pizza: recipe adapted from the detoxinista and the lucky penny food blogs:

1 head of cauliflower

1 egg or egg substitute (1 Tb flax/chiaseed + 2 Tb water)

1/4 c grated parmesan cheese

1 Tb olive oil (because I didn’t have 1/4 c of grated mozzarella but you could use that too)

Pinches of sea salt, oregano, and basil

 

Preheat oven to 400.  Usually I don’t like preheating too much ahead of time but 400 is super hot and it’ll take this long to get it that hot.

Grate the cauliflower into snow using a food processor.  Cook the snow by either putting it with a bit of water (1/4 c) in a pot and boiling, then turning off the flame and covering for 5 minutes, or put it with a bit of water (2 TB) in a bowl and microwave for 4 minutes.

Get rid of as much water as possible by putting the cooked cauliflower mush in a clean dish towel and wringing it (let it cool a bit before doing this step).

Mix all ingredients in a bowl.  Pat out onto a silpat (unless you’re fancy and own a pizza stone etc.) and bake while you prepare your toppings (about 30 minutes).  Then top with toppings and keep baking until the cheese melts (another 10 minutes).

Bacon mashed potato muffins

15 Jul

I went through a brief gnocchi obsession, so ended up with a big heap of flaked cooked potatoes after two nights of fresh homemade gnocchi.  I thought I’d try to make something a little bit more fun rather than just mashed potatoes (I’d already made potato pancakes) so I put together these bacon-cheddar-mashed potato muffins.

 

Aw it's about to be mashed up, baked in a very hot oven, and devoured.  Po', po' potato.

Aw it’s about to be mashed up, baked in a very hot oven, and devoured. Po’, po’ potato.

As usual I just made these just out of the stuff in my pantry.  I think most recipes I found suggested sour cream, but I believe in plain yogurt.  Also the basil and chives are from my roommate’s herb garden in front of our house!

First, chop up your bacon, and then throw it in a pan over medium-high heat.  Meanwhile, chop your onion.

We've been to board game geek con before.  Maybe we should go to a convention just for people who finish undergraduate in liberal arts: a B.A. Con

We’ve been to board game geek con before. Maybe we should go to a convention just for people who finish undergraduate in liberal arts: a B.A. Con

She'll make you cry every time... that onion's a huge (d)ice queen

She’ll make you cry every time… that onion’s a huge (d)ice queen

Toss in the onion when the bacon is pretty far on its way (cooked, but not crisp) and give it a shake.

Keep the heat on for your bacon and onion, unless you want bacoff and onioff.  And who wants that? (scoff)

Keep the heat on for your bacon and onion, unless you want bacoff and onioff. And who wants that? (scoff)

Get that beautifully cooked- get some caramelization in your onions and some crisp in your bacon.  Set aside to cool.

Now, as we just about always do when baking, we do the wet and dry ingredients.  Only potatoes are sort of a cross between the two.  Beat your egg with some melted butter, milk and yogurt.  I was fresh out of milk so skipped this.

You yellow bellied coward, come here and take your yogurt like a man!  Or an egg, really.

You yellow bellied coward, come here and take your yogurt like a man! Or an egg, really.

I’m missing some photos, but mix in your herbs and potatoes.  I recommend going just crazy on your herbs.  Also I forgot to add salt here because I’m silly but you should do that.  Then mix in your cooled bacon and onion.

So fluffy!

So fluffy!

Shred your cheese and add tons of it.  Like much more than you’d expect.

Guys I'm such a whiz at adding this stuff.  You could call me a cheese whiz.

Guys I’m such a whiz at adding this stuff. You could call me a cheese whiz.

This is when the recipe says to add two cups of flour but I ran out so I only added one cup.  It still worked, they were just more mashed potato-y and less muffin-y than expected.  The big problem with mine was the lack of salt.  Salt is key.

If I ate all of these I would be totally incupacitated

If I ate all of these I would be totally incupacitated.

Bake until lightly browned!  Yum!

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Recipe adapted from Kayotic Kitchen:

2 c mashed potatoes (boiled, then flaked)

1 c flour

1.5 c grated cheese (I used cheddar)

1 c plain yogurt

1 small onion, diced

1 tsp salt

2 eggs

4 strips bacon, chopped into 1/2″ pieces

2 TB butter, melted

2 TB herbs (I used fresh basil and chives, but anything will do.  If you use dried, cut to tsps.)

 

Cook bacon until cooked, then add onion and cook until brown and bacon is crisp.  Set aside.

Mix yogurt, melted butter, eggs, salt, and herbs.  Also if you want to use more flour and have it be more muffin-y, add 3/4 c milk here.  Add in potatoes, mix well.  Add bacon-onion and grated cheese, keep on mixing.

Add flour and stir just until combined.  If you don’t have self-rising flour and want it to be more muffin-y, sift in 1 tsp each baking powder and baking soda.  If you used milk, add an extra cup of flour.

Bake in muffin tins at 350 for 30 minutes or until set.

 

Turducken day 1: getting a turkey at the last minute, chef’s treats, and brine

1 Jun

I owe lots of math posts.  I know.  But it’s my birthday (well, it was on Wednesday) so give me some leeway.  My boyfriend got me flowers for it!

Finally a different kind of flour on this blog!

Finally a different kind of flour on this blog!

Thanksgiving is by far my favorite holiday, and so I have it for my birthday every year (as in I did it last year and am doing it this year).  Last year I’d never had turducken before but after that experience I decided I’ll do it every year (until I’m sick of it).

If you’re planning on making a turducken for June 1st or Thanksgiving, make sure you plan ahead.  Or do what I did.  Or buy a premade turducken but where’s the fun in that?  The next paragraph is complaining you can skip it I’ll probably edit/shorten it later when I’m not as mad.

I called the store last Sunday around 10 a.m. to order a turkey and duck.  They asked me to call back the next day so the manager could talk to me.  So I called on Monday around 4:20 p.m., and he asked me to call back on Wednesday between 7 and 4 to talk to the manager, and that he’d leave a note for the manager anyway.  At this point I’m in high worry mode and should’ve switched stores, but this is my local grocery store that I shop at every week and I have some cognitive dissonance-type loyalty to it.  I call back on Wednesday and talk to the manager, who tells me he wasn’t in yesterday (Tuesday) before continuing our conversation.  He says he’ll have the birds ready for Friday, and I say I’ll pick up in the evening around 5.

At 5 p.m. on Friday THE DAY BEFORE THE TURDUCKEN he calls me to tell me he didn’t get EITHER the duck or the turkey.  I am FLIPPING OUT but also have to focus on problem solving and I don’t yell at him.  He suggests I call one other Jewel.  I call that one.  This guy is much more apologetic on behalf of Jewel and suggests another Jewel as well as two other stores.  I call the other Jewel, and that guy brainstorms with two other people in the store before concluding they can’t help me.  Chicago’s sky has been looking ominous the whole day so I start biking like crazy to get home before the thunderstorm, and then I stop at this magical store I’ve never been to on the way.

 

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I just want to give Mariano’s a big hug.  They had fresh chicken and frozen turkey, goose, duck, and cornish hens.  I spent a good amount of time munching on their FREE SAMPLES (my favorite thing in grocery stores) and wondering if I should switch my Turducken to a Gooduckhen instead.  We don’t own cars so I was waiting for my boyfriend to come with his bike while I was sipping some acai berry liquor

Anyways, he took the 20 pounds of turkey in his backpack and I took the 5 pound chicken and 6 pound duck in mine and we headed home.  Immediately popped the frozen turkey and duck into a cooler filled with cool water.  Lots of sites will tell you that you can speed thaw with a sink or bucket but you have to change the cool water every half hour.  If you don’t peek at your cooler you should be OK for a few hours (we changed every two or three).  Bacteria is no joke.

I wonder if they do this in Bath, England

I wonder if they do this in Bath, England

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The birds.

I’ll do another post about butchering.  This is about all the yummy tidbits on the way!

Basically it’s not worth all the hassle of deboning chicken wings, and unless you really care about those scraps of meat, the same goes for duck wings.  That means you get chef’s treats!  I was in the middle of doing a lot of other stuff so I just slathered the wings in barbecue sauce and threw them into a 375 oven for awhile.  Maybe 45 minutes?  Until they were done and yummy.

Wings are trying to fly away in the background

Wings are trying to fly away in the background

Meanwhile I threw the carcasses into a big stock pot with some bay leaves, a carrot remnant from the stuffing, and half an onion.  That just simmered for several hours while I was doing other things.  In particular, there was too much stuffing for the bowl I stored it in overnight, so we got a mini-casserole of sausage-apple stuffing as our second course:

There's not much, but this really is stuffing

There’s not much, but this really is stuffing

We munched on some avocados for a third course, sprinkled with lime and salt, which was a nice transition into our next course: Vietnamese chicken salad.

This photo makes me want to cuke

This photo makes me want to cuke

I used tongs to pull off all the meat from the bones that were simmering (neck, wing tips, ribcage, etc.), which basically melted off.  Then mixed in some cucumbers, thought about shredding in fresh mint and then realized I had none but if you do this add fresh mint and cabbage, and dressed it with lime juice-fish sauce-sugar-water dressing.  Topped off with fresh pepper.  This is delicious, reminds me of my mom, and is super easy and light.

He’d actually taken me to Elizabeth for birthday dinner, so this was like home-Elizabeth with only five courses instead of nine.  Dessert was duck skin crackling with maple syrup.

When butchering a duck you get LOTS of excess skin/fat.  So I decided to render the fat for later use, and this had the happy effect of making crackling!  Cut your duck skin into about one inch pieces (it shrinks when frying) and fry it until light golden brown.  BE CAREFUL THIS SPATTERS A TON

Shielding myself from the spatter

Shielding myself from the spatter

But it is delicious!  I dusted some of them with flour to get a little more crackle, and topped them with maple syrup for dessert.  So tasty!

So that was my chef’s treats from day 1 of making the turducken.  I highly recommend taking two days: butcher all the birds and brine them the night before, and then stuff and roast on day 2.  Today is day 2 and there’ll be more posts.  Meanwhile, I’ll leave you with a picture of the birds floating in brine that my boyfriend made; I have no idea what’s in it:

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Kale chips

8 May
Drinking beer, making chips, feeling O-K-ale!

Drinking beer, making chips, feeling O-K-ale!

Finals week… prelims… blurk.  Chop up your kale into 1 inch or so size pieces, like chips.  This is a recipe where I actually believe in preheating, rare.  400.

I bet hobbits would love this stuff: Bilgo BaGgins would totally dig it.  He has this recipe in the bag.

I bet hobbits would love this stuff: Bilbo BaGgins would totally dig it. He has this recipe in the bag.

Throw your kale, a tablespoon of olive oil or two (I ran out and added some vegetable oil), and a healthy splash of balsamic into a plastic or ziploc bag.  Squish it around so all the kale gets covered, and then spread it out on your baking sheet.

No one would feel green with envy of this baking sheet.  Unless you love hanging out in 400 degree ovens.

No one would feel green with envy of this baking sheet. Unless you love hanging out in 400 degree ovens.

Bake it and WATCH IT LIKE A HAWK.  5-10 minutes.  This goes from perfectly crisp to horribly burned in about 30 seconds.  How long you cook is your preference, but I like it when the whole chip looks dry and the edges are lightly browned.

Kale chips: turning your frown upside brown!

Kale chips: turning your frown upside brown!

So delicious, addictive, and slightly healthier than potato chips!

I can eat a whole head of kale this way in about 5 minutes.

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Recipe from my head:

Preheat your oven to 400

Cut up a bunch of kale into small pieces

Throw in a plastic bag with 2 TB olive oil, 2 TB balsamic vinegar

Spread out on a baking sheet for 8-10 minutes or until as crisp as you like.

Sprinkle with salt and eat!

 

PSA: Administrative Professionals Day is tomorrow!

23 Apr

I’m posting this now rather than tonight to give you time to buy some baking supplies.  I’ll actually bake something tonight to bring in to the office tomorrow.

Here’s a quick thing of carrots + zucchini:

Toss 1 TB olive oil and a 1 TB herbes de Provence seasoning with a bunch of baby carrots, and a zucchini cut into fries and a yellow squash cut into fries.  (to cut a long thin squash into fries, slice it in half lengthwise, then slice each half into thirds or halves lengthwise, and chop into two or three sticks transversely).  We also sometimes use what my old roommate dubbed “fry seasoning,” a mix of all of our spices (cumin, chili, rosemary, sage. thyme, whatever).

Spread it out on a baking sheet.

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Roast at 400 for 20-40 minutes or until the edges are crisp.

Yum!

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Eggplant and banana

2 Mar

Yum! Not together though.

So you may have noticed that I like making dinner while putting together my baked goods, and then switching dinner out of the oven and eating it while throwing the bread or whatnot in. That’s exactly what happened this cozy Friday night in.

My favorite food to make when it’s just me and no one else is a fried egg, avocado, and ketchup on white rice. My second favorite thing is this!

I could just garlick this right up

I could just garlick this right up

Slice up an eggplant real thin (like 2 mm slices), salt it heavily and let it sit in a colander while you chop up some garlic.  You want to salt your eggplant to cut out the bitterness, though I often skip this step because the slices are so thin anyway.  Rinse off the salt, drizzle with olive oil, and roast at 400 for 20-30 minutes or til it’s pleasantly done.

Seriously this is simple egg-stasy

Seriously this is simple egg-stasy

Grab a pita, top it with hummus, some eggplant, lemon juice.  Olives/feta if you have ’em.  Yum!

I lied, this is a tortilla, not a pita.  What a pita-y.

I lied, this is a tortilla, not a pita. What a pita-y.

I meant to put these posts together, but I think I’ll leave this eggplant post on its own.

Beware: this post contains CORNographic materials

19 Feb

Note: this draft has been sitting around for two weeks, so the collard greens last night is a lie.  The rest of the post is true though!

I made a crockpot of collard greens last night, and decided to do some bacon and cornbread to have for breakfast.  Cornbread is WAY EASY (almost as much as shortbread).

Keeping the corny jokes to a minimum

Keeping the corny jokes to a minimum

Mix together your cornmeal, flour, salt, and baking powder.

Then beat your two eggs with 1/4 c honey, 1/4 c sugar, melted stick of butter and 1 c milk.

Use egg-sactly two eggs and softened butter!

Use egg-sactly two eggs and softened butter!

Stir in the wet ingredients to the dry, and bake at 400 for half an hour.  Donezo!

Make sure you don’t overbake it or you’ll be overdry, like mine was.  SO I made stuffing instead (the next day).  Honestly, slather a slightly dry cornbread with butter and honey and you won’t miss a thing.

Tip of the post: smashing garlic.  Put your big knife flat against the unpeeled clove of garlic, so it is parallel to the ground.  Then push down with the palm of your hand, hard, right on the clove.  That’ll smash the clove and loosen the paper covering it.  You can then cook with your smashed clove, or mince it (it’s a little easier now that it’s flat).

Time to (gar)lick this clove into shape!

Time to (gar)lick this clove into shape!

So I rarely do actual recipes for non-sweet baked goods, so I’ll just tell you roughly what went in this stuffing:

Saute:

1/2 diced onion

4 cloves of garlic

in some butter + olive oil while you cut the other ingredients.  Then add

2 cut up stalks of celery

1 chopped carrot

a handful of cut up mushrooms

Sure, add some mushrooms, do whatever, I could carrot less

Sure, add some mushrooms, do whatever, I could carrot less

Cook those for awhile, then add about 1 cup of stock (animal, vegetable, mineral, whatever floats your boat) and some salt and pepper. I tossed in some parsley because it was sitting in our fridge.

Sorry, what did you say?  I couldn't quite parse-ley that.

Sorry, what did you say? I couldn’t quite parse-ley that.

Then mix in your dried, cubed leftover bread from the day(s) before, and bake the whole thing at 350 for half an hour.  Stuffing!

yum

Cornbread recipe from about.com:

Mix 1 c cornmeal, 1 c flour, 1/2 tsp salt, 1 TB baking powder.

Separately, beat 2 eggs, 1 c milk, 1 stick melted butter, 1/4 c honey, 1/4 c sugar.

Mix the dry and wet ingredients together (mix will be super lumpy), then pour into a greased pan and bake at 400 for 30 minutes.

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