Friday, October 30, 2009

Tortlla Pizza

My mom has never been a gourmet cook (she's usually the one to bring the relish tray for family potluck dinners). But she's always been remarkably creative and frugal. A great example of this is the tortilla pizza, a staple of my childhood.

Simple, cheap, and quick, albeit not the most nutritious, this remains a favorite lunch of mine. Now that I have a toaster oven it's ready in record time.

Tortilla Pizza

1 flour tortilla
pasta sauce
cheese (works best with shredded, but even sliced can be used)

Construct pizza in the usual way. Bake at 350 for 15 minutes.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Boeuf, it's what's for dinner

(ok, so I'm sure everybody has already made that joke, but I still think it's funny)

A few weeks ago my mother-in-law, my grandmother-in-law, and myself went to see the movie Julie & Julia (yes, we found the ONE theater in town still showing it). We had a blast, and it inspired me to try my hand at a Julia Child recipe.

My mother-in-law mailed me the recipes for Boeuf Bourguignon, braised onions, and sauteed mushrooms (those last two had frenchier sounding names, but I can't remember them just now). I made the beef and mushrooms, and both were fabulous. Although, it struck me as odd (and very wrong)that that much beef (and bacon) should be combined with ONE carrot?? I added more, but it would have benefited from a few extra (I love beef-flavored carrots).

While the boeuf was, admittedly, delicious, it probably won't figure into my regular rotation due to time and caloric constraints. The mushrooms, however, were amazing (although, probably anything sauteed in butter would taste amazing...)

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Breakfast huevos

I may not have the best omelet-making abilities, but what I lack in cooking skills (and proper cookware, this was made in a stockpot - currently my only non-stick cookware) I make up for in creativity.

When the omelet goes goofy as you try to fold it over, just roll it up in a fresh flour tortilla add a dash of cumin and call it huevos. Now if only I had some chorizo laying around...

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

THE Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ok, butter, you win, you are amazing.

I just made So good, they forced me to return to the blogosphere to report on their deliciousness.

While trying to catch up on my never-ending mountain of unread food blogs piling up in my RSS feed reader I accidentally opened this post. I'm not typically too excited about chocolate chip cookies (not that I would turn one down were it offered to me), I'm usually more into shortbread and spice cookies. But something about this recipe peaked my interest (that, and the fact that I've been meaning to bake some cookies to share with the new neighbors).

I followed the recipe pretty closely, even leaving the dough to rest 24 hours in the fridge. But I did sub in walnuts for part of the chocolate chip amount (not paying enough attention to the ingredient list, I only bought a 12 oz bag of chips at the store - had to make up the remainder in choppped walnuts). I used a mixture of whole wheat pastry flour and white bread flour. Also, I couldn't bring myself to make 3.5 oz cookies (really? THAT BIG? Who needs a cookie that big??) I scaled them down to 2 oz cookies, which are still plenty large. I reduced the cooking time to 16 minutes, and that was about perfect when combined with 3 minutes of resting on the hot cookie sheet before disembarking to the cooling rack.

Maybe it was the rest time (more likely the copious amount of butter) but these were amazing. Perfect texture, crispy on the outside, a little soft on the inside, a gorgeous brown color, and the sprinkling of sea salt on top is the perfect compliment to the sweetness of the dark chocolate.

If this isn't the perfect way to meet the neighbors, I don't know what is.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Hostess with the Mostess Cupcakes

This morning I was the proud co-host of a baby shower for a good friend.
Luckily for me, the other co-host took care of all the details, and
all I had to do was provide the location, and the cake!

A few months ago, my dear friend (for whom the shower was given), was
having some cravings that just wouldn't go away. One such
craving was for hostess cupcakes. Unfortunately for her,
hostess cupcakes contain beef tallow (something her family tries not to consume).

That's where I entered the picture.
In an efforts to expand my baking repertoire, I thought
I might try to make some HC's from scratch (sans beef). Although initially,
I thought I was beening pretty creative, a google search will
show I'm not the first one to think of this.
Despite this, I still enjoyed the challenge.

It seemed only fitting to re-create this special treat for the party this morning.
Only this time I made mini-hostess cakes!

The basis for this recipe can be found here. I changed things around a bit, and even tried using whole wheat pastry flour (which went undiscovered, probably due to their exceptionally sugary filling).
Makes 48 mini cakes.

Hostess with the Mostess Mini Cakes

Bowl 1: Combine the dry ingredients
2 & 1/4 C whole wheat pastry flour
1 & 1/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking powder
2/3 C cocoa powder

Bowl 2: Cream sugar and butter together
1 C sugar
1 stick of butter, softened

Bowl 3: Combine the liquid ingredients
1 C liquid (I used a combination of water, milk, and yogurt)
1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs

Combine the three bowls. Mix well.
Butter and flour mini muffin pan for easy cake removal.
Fill mini muffin cups about 50-75% full.
Bake at 350 for 10-15 minutes.

Beat together until fluffy
12 TBS unsalted butter, softened (I feel gross just typing this)
3 C confectioners' sugar
1 & 1/2 C Marshmallow Fluff (beef free, I swear)
3 TBS + 1 tsp heavy cream

Place in pastry bag for easy cake filling.
Reserve 1/2 cup and mix in remaining heavy cream to make the doodle on top.

Last time I tried to pipe into the cupcakes and didn't succeed very well, so
this time I just sliced them in half and filled between the two halves.
Much easier!

1/4 C heavy cream
4 oz bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 TBS unsalted butter, softened

Heat cream until steaming then pour over butter and chopped chocolate.
After a few minutes, everything will have melted and you can stir to
combine. Let this sit another 5 minutes to firm a bit so it doesn't
immediately run off the cakes, then spoon on and swirl to frost each.

Lastly, decorate with the necessary white doodle, so everybody knows
you're not just making any old regular chocolate cupcakes!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Has it really been over a month?

Sorry, but I promise to be better (or a least to make an effort).

Here's what I've been up to...

Cleaning out the cupboards
a.k.a when to admit you have a problem

Repurposing tupperware/Souffle in IKEA
Molly Wizenberg's 'everyday souffle' from Bon appetite
I've always wanted to try making souffle, but I didn't want to buy a special dish. After cleaning out the various tupperware drawers, I found an IKEA ceramic tupperware with high sides and no matching lid. Although it's square, it seemed to work just fine.

Fig cake
(a healthier, smaller, and non-alcoholic version of Dorie Greenspans 'fig cake for fall' recipe)

Lemon meringue cheesecake
What do to when you've got too much cream cheese in the fridge, but you really want to eat meringue...

My first successful pancakes!!!!
Sadly, I've never been able to make pancakes. It's always the simplest things that trip me up the most. These came from Super Natural Cooking (Which I highly recommend for anyone trying to learn how to use all those funky ingredients the organic tyrants keep bullying us with: millet, quinoa, bulgar). As usual, I tailored the recipe to my own on-hand ingredients and laziness, and made them cute and tiny.

(check out my wrist's double chin, gross)

1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup white flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 c brown sugar
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup buttermilk
1 egg

Heat cast iron skillet to medium heat.
Combine dry ingredients and whisk to combine.
In a separate bowl, whisk buttermilk and egg.
Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients.
Grease skillet with small amount of butter and make small pancakes.

Serve with honey. Enough for three people.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The Sweet Life

We don't eat actual food around chez phamished.

We subsist only on butter and sugar.

At least this past month has felt a bit that way. Between school and an assortment of parties, I haven't had much time for nutritious cooking.

But baking? I'll always find time for that.

I promised someone (over a week ago) that I would get some photos of my recent baking escapades up. Sorry for the delay, enjoy!

Angel Food Cake (+lemon curd)
My first attempt at angel food cake (made for a super bowl party).

After making the cake batter I didn't have the heart to throw out perfectly
good egg whites, so I turned them into lemon curd. I iced the
cake with a simple powdered sugar/lemon juice frosting.

Chocolate Macadamia Nut Biscotti

Even since baking some decent butter-containing biscotti over Christmas, I have wanted to try a "fat" free version. I used a recipe from David Lebovitz, found here, and swapped out the almonds for crushed mac nuts, and almond extract for vanilla extract. I think this is the first time I have been a little turned off by the chunky sugar crystals on top of something. Here they give the biscotti a sort of moldy look. Nevertheless, these were amazing, and
kept well for a few weeks.

Dessert In Three Movements
My contribution to a close friend's baby shower
(and another close friend's going-away party) was the dessert.

I prefer single serving desserts for parties, so these were all basically cupcakes.

The first photos are mini german chocolate cakes, recipe here. Another
amazing Lebovitz recipe (can you tell I've got a super
baking crush on the Lebo??) These were really
cute and very decadent.

Next up, are lemon shortbread cookies. I used a recipe from Dorie Greenspan's Baking book. I rolled these in turbinado sugar and lemon zest. These were my favorite, simple and elegant.

Last up are the mini-cheesecakes. I can't remember the recipe I used here, but I know it involved sour cream. These came out of their cupcake papers much easier then I thought they would. I thought they looked really cute, and they were the perfect amount of cheesecake - about 3 (my mouth-sized) bites.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Scones: Good to the last bite

Last week we were invited over to a good friend's house for tea. Not wanting to come empty-handed, and having a few extra minutes, I whipped up a simple batche of scones.

Scones are my go-to Rachael Ray style pastry. (does she still cook 30 minute meals? I haven't watched the food network in years...) They are quick, easy, and consistently turn out tasty results.

For these scones I wanted both a "sweet" and a "savory" option. I mixed dried apricots into the entire batch, and the sweet scones were topped with turbinado sugar. For the savory, I used the second half of the apricot batter and added parmesan and cheddar cheese.

The recipe is based on the apple cheddar scone recipe found in the magnificent Baking: from my home to yours, by Dorie Greenspan. I highly recommend this book if you like to bake, or want to encourage that special someONE to bake you someTHING special. Come on, there's an entire blog of bakers that found each other because of their love of this book.

As shown by the photo, this last bite was all that remained the next morning shortly before I remembered to document it with my camera. This bite is from the last savory scone.


1 large egg
3/4 C yogurt***
1 & 3/4 C flour
1/3 C cornmeal
2 TBS sugar
1 TBS baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
6 TBS cold butter
1/2 C dried apricots chopped into bits

Turbinado sugar
1/2 C shredded cheese

Preheat oven to 400 F, line baking sheet with parchment paper for easy removal.

Stir together the wet ingredients (egg, yogurt).

Stir together the dry ingredients (four, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt).

Cut the butter into the dry ingredients until the chunks are pea sized (you can do this in a food processor, just don't get over zealous and grind it to smithereens (did you know this is the name of a band?? Gotta love that phog machine).

Pour the wet ingredients over the dry and stir until JUST combined (don't over do this either - scones are the imperfectionists' friend).

Mix in whatever ingredient you want to title the scones as ("cheddar apricot scone").

Spoon out mounds onto the baking sheet (and top if you want with schmancy sugar). They won't spread too much, but if you cram them in too close they won't bake evenly. I can usually fit nine on a sheet.

Bake 20-25 minutes until lighly browned, then cool on a rack.

These tasted great the night I baked them, and even better the next morning.

***Do you notice a trend in my baking recipes, I never seem to have buttermilk on hand, but I ALWAYS have yogurt! For this recipe, I used mainly the whey (the watery stuff that separates out on top of yogurt that mostly people pour down the drain)

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Crawl on in

I love those food moments where you order something new and usual (to you) at a restaurant, and the first bite is (unexpected) magic in your mouth.

On a trip through the Olympic Peninsula, last year, we at a meal at a small and unassuming Thai restaurant. For reasons still unknown to me, I ordered Tom Kha Gai soup. I'm not sure if it was the location, how hungry we were or the fact that it came in such a fancy pot, but that soup was AMAZING. This soup was so good, it made you just want to crawl into the bowl and roll around soaking up those delicious silky flavors. We have since attempted to order it at almost every Thai place we go to, and although some have come close, we have not been able to recreate the fabulousness that was THAT soup.

What's a girl to do, but roll up her sleeves and try it herself! I found an easy to follow recipe on one of my favorite blogs, Tigers & Strawberries. The recipe below is a variation of her recipe, suited to fit what was in the fridge.

Being in the midwest, galangal and keffir lime leaves aren't to be found in abundance (although, oddly enough, my local grocery store sells lemon grass 5 shoots for $2!). So this (obviously) isn't going to be authentic, but it was still delicious.

Tom Kha Gai

1 quart beef stock (this is what I had, chicken would probably be better)
2 cans coconut milk
5 slices dried galangal root**
4 lemon grass stalks trimmed with the outer layers removed
The peels of 2 limes
2 TBS red curry paste
4 TBS fish sauce
8 fresh mushrooms thinly sliced
1 chicken breast cut into small pieces
Juice from 2 limes
2 jalapenos, thinly sliced
1/4 cup fresh cillantro leaves

I've tried this before with ginger, not the same, but better then no soup

Combine broth, galangal, lemon grass, lime, and curry paste and bring to a simmer. Add the coconut milk and fish sauce. Simmer for 1 hour.

Add mushrooms, chicken, and peppers and simmer until chicken is done. Add lime juice, and cilantro leaves, and enjoy. And see if the urge to climb into that bowl and swim around doesn't hit you too.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

BBB: Croissants

I've scaled my mount Everest of baking, now what?

I've always wanted to make croissants, it's one of those impossible things you think is way too hard to even attempt, so you give up before you even get started. Having a bit of extra time on my hands, and a bit of leftover holiday baking butter, I decided, why not try?!

My tummy is so glad I did (my thighs are not).

After an initial failed attempt (see picture below) using the recipe from Thyme for cooking (never trust anyone without a working oven), I tried the breadchick version with much success!

I ran into some trouble with my weakling arms and attempting to roll the dough
thin enough. Luckily the husbots ripped arms came to the plate and took over until
I deemed the dough was just right.

(artistic rendering of the husbot)

Actually, after my initial failed attempt at rolling the second-attempt recipe, I wadded up the half-rolled dough in frustration (headed to the trash) and the husbot convinced me to try again. So, I let it rise again again for an hour, hoping my mistakes would work themselves out. And they did! After an hour of sitting in the sun, we rolled the (warm) dough large enough to fit the butter square. And the rest is history.

I made: plain, chocolate, and parmesean cheese+rosemary+garlic verions of these croissants, and they were subsequently gobbled up by our friends during movie night.

Thanks bread babes for the opportunity! I've been a bread follower for awhile, but
I'm usually too intimidated to hop on board. I'm so glad I did this time
(well, my tummy is, the thighs might need some persuasion).

If you want to take the trek up mount croissant, check out the links and
recipes on the Thyme For Cooking blog.

While I might not make these regularly, it gave me a much greater appreciation
for the fine folks are my local bakery who do!

(first attempt, underneath coffee and tea grinds - much caffeiene went into
the making of these delicacies)

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Real Crepes

After a fabulous sushi feast, what better dessert to gorge yourself on then a variety of delicious crepes?

For last night's crepestravaganza we had:
S'mores (pictured) - bittersweet ganache and torched marshmallow fluff (courtesy of my new creme brulee torch!)
Carmel apple - apple-dipping carmel, and apple butter
lemon - lemon zest and powdered sugar
Blackberry+apricot - with their respective homemade jams
Lingonberry + lemon - IKEA jam and lemon zest

(derived from the Joy of cooking cookbook)

1 cup white bread flour (this is all I had)
1/2 cup yogurt (the recipe called for milk, but...see ingredient 1)
1 cup water
4 large eggs
1/2 stick butter, melted
1/8 tsp salt
3 tablespoons sugar
fillings of choice

Blend everything well, and sit covered for 30 minutes (this is a good chance to prepare all the tasty fillings since the crepes only take a minute to cook)

Heat pan to medium heat. When hot, add a little butter, then add about 1/8-1/4 cup batter (just enough to coat the bottom of the pan). Lift the pan and rotate to coat evenly. Allow it to cook undisturbed for about 1 minute, until the bottom is lightly browned. Flip crepe (I tried to flip it in the air, with limited success, thank goodness for silicone spatulas) and cook on second side for about 1 minute.

Remove from pan to serving plate and add fillings of choice.

Enjoy, then make another!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Camp Crepes (Crampes?)

I have the wonderful husbot to thank for this great idea! We've seen a lot of camp recipes for pancakes, but what about crepes? They're fast cooking, only require a few ingredients, and provide an easy vessel for your favorite filling!

I made cinnamon crepes from a scaled-down recipe to try out this idea on the stove top.

Camp Crepes

1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup water
1 egg
pinch salt

Heat skillet to medium-high heat. I used a $1 cast iron skillet I found at the thrift store yesterday, so I didn't need any grease. If using a regular pan, I would probably add a little butter to the pan before adding the batter.

Mix all the ingredients. When the skillet sizzles when droplets of water are flicked at it, add a few tablespoons of the batter. Pick up the pan and move it in such a way that gravity spreads the batter thinly for you.

Allow to cook for 20 seconds on side one, then loosen the edges with a spatula and flip. Cook on side two for another 20 seconds during which you can sprinkle with your topping of choice (I chose cinnamon). Remove from pan and enjoy! The best time to eat these is piping hot directly from the pan.

These may not be the most nutritious, but the sure are delicious!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Kale & Lentil Soup

One food I wish I had discovered earlier in my life is kale.

I love kale.

After a holiday season spend indulging, it's nice to start the new year with meals full of all those vitamins and healthy bits we've been avoiding.

Kale is high in vitamins A, C, and K, which affect (among other things) vision, the immune system, and blood coagulation respectively. Aside from it's healthy profile, kale has the benefit of being delicious as well! Bonus!!

This soup is healthy, fast, and leaves you with a few extra meals. Perfect for relaxing and enjoying the melting snow.

Kale & Lentil Soup

2 cups lentils
4 cups water or stock (+more as needed)
1 bunch kale, with stalks separated from leaves, and both chopped
1 large onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, sliced
1 nub ginger, peeled and sliced
salt and pepper to taste

Combine lentils, water, kale stalks, onion, garlic, and ginger in a large pot. Bring to boil, then reduce to simmer for 30-45 minutes, until lentils are soft (add more water if needed).

Add in kale leaves, stir to combine and turn off heat. (I also like to add more raw garlic at the point, but not everyone likes barely cooked garlic).

Let the kale leaves barely cook in the still-hot soup, and then serve. Yum!

This is also good with a bit of yogurt and curry powder stirred in to the bowl.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Indulging hobbies

Christmas was very good to me this year. I mentioned last time my new madeline pan. This week has lead to a few different madeline-experiements including: Macadamia nut-lemon...

and, cranberry-chocolate!

Both were delicious, but I think we agreed the ones plain were the best!

Also for Christmas the husbot and I both got sleeping bags, a much needed addition to our fledgling backpacking desires, and a fancy ultralite backpacking stove and cookware! So the past few weeks I've started experimenting with various backpacking recipes that are nutritious, easy, fast, and tasty. With the weather a little too nippy in the midwest for a full out camping expedition, we are settling for dreams and practice meals. Hopefully when we do get the opportunity to hit the trail we won't be confined to boil in the bag meals!

It's important to me to incorporate as much fresh and whole foods as possible, without compromising too much on weight. Since I don't have very much camping/backpacking experience a lot of these recipes may need extensive trial and error to see if they will even function as trail meals. But if possible, I would love to avoid as many hotdogs and freeze dried bagged meals as possible.

The first "meal" I have started toying with is a red lentil curry and bulgar salad. It's important to me to limit the active stove time needed for each dish, so I'll be trying out various grains and lentils to see how to cut down active cooking time. Bulgar is simple, just add hot water in a 2:1 ratio and let it sit for 15-20 minutes to soak up the water while wrapped in a pot coozy. Afterwards, various spices and flavors can be mixed in. For this salad I used crushed red pepper, mint, salt, and a bit of lime juice.

I was able to reduce the cooking time for the lentils to around 10 minutes by soaking them in water (3:1 ratio) before cooking, and then allowing them to sit for another 15 minutes after cooking. These recipes were tested on the electice stove top, so they will need to be tested on the MSR before finished to make sure the timing still works, but here's the first round recipe. I didn't try it this way, but I imagine you could mix all the dry ingredients and just add water on the trail.

Red Lentil Curry

1/2 cup red lentils
1 & 1/2 cup water
5 g curry powder
1 g salt
5 g unsweetened coconut shreds
15 g dried milk

Soak lentils in water for 30 minutes. Mix in other ingredients, bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat, wrap to retain warmth and rest for 15 minutes.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

A hearty meal for a cold day

One of my favorite presents from this holiday season is my new madeline pan. I've wanted one for nearly a year, but with all my excessive baking supplies I couldn't justify purchasing another single-purpose pan.

For this first trial run, I made a half pan of the standard recipe from the Joy of Cooking. They turned out amazing, and I saved the rest of the batter to play with and attempt other variations. Nothing beats a fresh madeline with tea!

Yesterday, in my attempt to put off hitting up the grocery store for one more day, I produced a rather delicious soup from refrigerator odds and ends. I think today I'll finally have to go to the store, we've been out of milk for a few days and all the holiday leftovers are gone. I served this soup with homeade garlic & rosemary wheat bread. It was a hearty meal for a cold day.

Vegetable Beef Soup

1 lb ground beef
5 carrots
1 bunch kale, stems removed and chopped, greens separated and chopped
5 mushrooms
5 cloves garlic
1 bottle V-8
1 quart chicken stock
Pepper and crushed red pepper to taste

Brown the ground beef in a large stock pot, when it's mostly cooked at the chopped carrots, and kale stems. Cook for 5 minutes to soften the vegetables, then add the V8 and chicken stock. Cover and bring to a simmer for 30 minutes. Add the kale greens, mushrooms, and garlic, and simmer 5-10 minutes more until soft.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Happy New Years!

This year Christmas was filled with family and love...and smoked meats! My wonderful in-laws left our fridge filled with tons of smoked meat-leftovers from our Christmas eve feast, including: smoked salmon, pork, and turkey. I used the remaining salmon in a cheesy-spinach-puff pastry new years eve party appetizer. But the leftover smoked pork I hid in the back of the fridge for the special new years day black-eyed peas. I've made black-eyed peas before (and not just on new years!) using ham cubes or ham bits, but this took it to a new level - fitting to start the year out right! Beans are a magic food/fruit, cheap and wholesome, and easy too prepare. Hopefully I'll find many new ways to incorporate them into our diet in the coming year.

Black-Eyed Peas
2 cups peas, picked over** and soaked overnight
1 cup smoked pork (or ham or skip this if you want no meat)
2 onions, barely chopped
5 cloves garlic, barely chopped or smashed
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

Combine and bring to simmer
Cover and cook 4 hours
Revel in how lucky you are to be eating delicious black-eyed peas

**Seriously: don't skip this step! The first time I tried to make beans in high school I did, and subsequently fed my poor pop a few pieces of bean-shapped gravel

I also made some Christmas biscotti this year. The recipe came from a Christmas cookie-baking class I attended at our local foods market. I made mine with cranberries and macadamia nuts. They kept us happy throughout the Christmas holiday week. I hope your Christmas was filled with tasty treats, and that the new year will bring you culinary excitement and joy!