Thursday, April 29
The interview itself was very revealing of the excuses that keep those with small spaces and less money out of the kitchen. As a college student, those are the concerns that most resonate with my situation. These are parts of the interview that I found to be most applicable:
"Q: So why do so many people think a nice kitchen will solve their cooking woes?
A: Maybe it’s like what you said. You use your crummy kitchen as an excuse not to cook. Maybe it’s like saying, “I can’t exercise in the winter because I don’t have an elliptical trainer.” I once cooked for six months in what amounted to a basement with a hot plate, microwave and a refrigerator and sink. Not only did I cook for six months, but I wrote the column for six months. It was funny. People like to cook when they’re camping and in other places where the situation is less than adequate. For some reason they think they have to have a great kitchen to cook at home, but it’s not true."
Q: So what are your must-haves in a kitchen, and what can you live without?
A: One of the things I hate about my stove is you can’t put four pots on it at the same time, so you cook with two pots and use the oven more. A functioning oven, the best possible stove… I think a big refrigerator is not that helpful. Stuff that’s in the refrigerator shouldn’t be in there all that long anyway. You need a couple of sauce pans, a couple saute pans, you need some knives, and then you need to pick up what you need on an as-needed basis. If you’re going to roast a turkey you need something big to put it in. When you need it you’ll know you’ll need it. Some things you’re going to find yourselves repeatedly wishing you had. Those are the things you need."
Having less-than-adequate kitchen space, or only having the most basic of kitchen tools, should not be an excuse to take responsibility for cooking. If anything, it is a constraint that makes sure that you have only the essentials, and that is all you really need to make great food.
The Bitten Blog has since been combined into the New York Times' Diner's Diner's Journal, but it's definitely worth a peek, if not a very critical once over.
Wednesday, April 28
The recipe I used is as follows:
2 Medium Bananas
2 t Vanilla Extract
1-2 T Milk (optional)
2 T Peanut Butter
1/3 Cup Chocolate Chips
1. Slice up the bananas into small slices, put on a plate, and place in the freezer for 1-2 hours.
2. Put the frozen bananas and the 2 tablespoons of vanilla extract into a blender or food processor and begin mixing at a high speed. If you are using a blender, you will have to stop periodically to remove banana that is stuck underneath the blades. It may also help to use the 1-2 tablespoons of milk in the initial blending.
3. When the mixture is smooth add the peanut butter and chocolate chips and mix on a slow speed for 30 seconds so that the ingredients blend together, spoon into a bowl and serve.
I think next time I would up the amount of vanilla extra to 1 tablespoon or more, or use a stronger extract, such as almond, to cover the banana taste more. However, the end results were delightful. From a banana and a little milk, I created a creamy, custard-y ice cream that may be my go to dessert in the stifling DC heat come summer time.
Other Ingredients to experiment with:
Coconut (a little milk or some sweetened, shredded coconut)
Fruit (blueberry, strawberry, mango, raspberry, etc)
(Candied) Walnuts or Almonds
Candy (Toffee, M&Ms, Reese's Pieces, Kit Kat, Gummy Bears)
Tuesday, April 27
I still have lots of soup left in my fridge, so I will be pairing that with sandwiches and salads throughout the week, as those are meals that take about 10 minutes to prepare. Here is a recipe for the next sandwich I plan on making this week.
Monte Cristo with Blackberry Dipping Sauce
Sunday, April 25
The expense for this meal is minimal as the entire ciabatta roll was $2.69 and there is still more than half left, the two blocks of cheddar were about $2.50 each and there is more than 3/4 left on each, after using some of the cheddar in other recipes, and I used 1/2 of an apple from a 5-for-$3 bag of apples, and about 2 oz of cheese from the 12 oz-$5.99 bag of shredded swiss-gruyere cheese. I'm too tired to figure out what the exact expense was, but I think I could say it was about $1 for Mike's and $2 for mine. I think it took about 10 minutes to cook the two sandwiches and heat up the soup as well, so the time requirement is minimal as well.
Very soon I'll share my adaptation of the butternut squash-sweet potato-carrot-apple-bacon soup. For now, enjoy the eye candy.
2 cups of yogurt
1 lb bag of frozen strawberries (got mine at trader joes for only $1.69)
1/3 cup agave syrup
1 t vanilla extract
Place all the ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.
This will make a verrrrrrrrrrrry thick smoothie, so if you want a thinner consistency, do 1 cup of yogurt and 1 cup of milk.
As for strawberry-mango smoothies, just do 1/2 lb strawberry, 1/2 lb mango. You could even throw in some protein powder, for your health, or a frozen banana, for a creamier consistency. I suggest using this recipe as a guideline and experiment to find the consistency and flavor(s) that you like the most.
Saturday, April 24
Perhaps there will be a blender series on all of my blender creations in the future. For now, some eye candy.
Friday, April 23
Here I am. I look terrible in this picture. I guess it is karma for ruining my trip to the gym with frozen yogurt.
Ones I want to try (This is most of the list):
Portobello and Pesto Pizza Remove stems from large portobello mushrooms. Cook the mushrooms in a mix of olive oil, garlic and red wine vinegar until tender. Then fill the caps with sliced plum tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, and homemade or store-bought pesto and bake until cheese has melted. These can be enjoyed atop a crust -- or even on their own.
Pizza al la Norma Top dough with a cooked tomato sauce, strips of sautéed eggplant and ricotta salata. Once baked, scatter fresh basil leaves over the top.
Pear and Blue Cheese Pizza Top whole-wheat or regular dough with sliced pears, a briefly stirred mixture of crumbled blue cheese and cream cheese, fresh sage and chopped crystallized ginger.
Pizza Bianco Make a sauce-free bianco (Italian for "white") pizza with mozzarella, ricotta, provolone, Parmesan and a generous amount of black pepper.
Broccoli Rabe and Sun-Dried Tomato Pizza Sautée coarsely chopped broccoli rabe in olive oil until tender, then arrange it atop pizza dough with thinly sliced, plump, sun-dried tomatoes and grated Pecorino or Parmesan cheese.
Pizza Margherita Brush dough with olive oil, top with mozzarella and, if you'd like, a little ricotta or Parmesan cheese, and scatter grape tomatoes over the top. Garnish with a few basil leaves.
Acorn Squash and Walnut Pizza Top dough with with skin-on, thinly sliced acorn squash, Gruyère cheese, toasted walnuts and drizzles of olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
Chicken and Fontina Pizza Chop onions, cook them until golden brown, then scatter on a crust with shredded rotisserie chicken and creamy fontina cheese.
Burrito Pizza Top large burrito-style tortillas with shredded pepper jack cheese, thinly sliced chorizo, roasted red peppers and drained, canned black beans.
Fig and Prosciutto Pizza Thinly slice fresh figs and toss in a little oil and lemon juice. Place on pizza dough and top with slices of prosciutto.
Bacon and Cheddar Pizza Spread dough with spicy mustard and top with crumbled crisp bacon, cheddar cheese and thick slices of tomato.
Ham and Apple Pizza A layer of sliced apples, another of fontina or Gruyère and one more of julienned strips of Black Forest ham makes for a most savory pie. (This is just like the one I made the other night!!!)
Lamb Pizza Top large pitas with a mix of ground lamb, pine nuts, coriander, cumin and tomato and finish with a layer of feta or yogurt.
Barbecue Pizza Pulled pork, corn kernels, a slathering of barbecue sauce and a topping of slaw takes pizza on a trip down South.
Zesty Shrimp and Mango Pizza Top dough with thinly sliced tomatoes, sautéed shrimp, sliced hearts of palm and chopped mango. Serve with lime wedges.
Pizza with Greens and Ricotta Sauté escarole or beet greens in olive oil with a little anchovy until the greens are tender. Place on top of dough along with a little ricotta and plump raisins
Herb: Herbs, spices, aromatics: Ginger, shallots, garlic, scallion, fresh herbs, cracked or ground spices, citrus zests just scratch the surface. Herbs should be very dry before mincing them and adding them to the butter.
Salt: I tend to buy only unsalted butters, but a little bit of fine sea salt really helps bring out the flavor of all the ingredients in a compound butter.
Acid: Vinegar or citrus juice adds balance to the mix. While mixing, be sure to blend a few drops at a time.
Sweet: Add a bit of honey or superfine sugar. These butters are delicious on warm breads and waffles. They can also be great on savory dishes, like a sage and honey butter on fish.
Along with some of the suggestions that are provided in the article, you make your own "wild card" compound butter. Flavors like this would be anchovy paste, dried fruit, cocoa powder, almond or vanilla extracts, etc.
Don't limit your self to just one flavor, as the options are mix-and-matchable. Experiment and find the most creative, budget-friendly and tastiest option for yourself.
Here is a slide show on how to begin making your own compound butters.
Because my kitchen is still lacking a rolling pin, Mike hand-stretched the dough on the counter, giving it the rustic shape. I used my homemade tomato sauce (I'll provide the recipe) on the pizzas. The sauce is also fairly chunky and rustic-looking.
For Mike I made a simple pepperoni pizza, also topped with sauteed onions and mushrooms. For myself, I got a little more adventurous. I diced up some ham, used the rest of the onions and mushrooms, put this on top of a swiss-gruyere mix. And for the final touch, apple slices. The result was delightful. The mildness of the cheese, the tartness of the apples, the saltiness of the ham, and the woodiness of the onions and mushrooms was delightful.
My pizza, of course is a more expensive option, and a simple pepperoni will more than satisfy your dominoes cravings, as well as keeping your wallet out of their grasp.
Now for the recipes
Rustic Tomato Sauce
28 oz can of Chopped/Diced/Pureed Tomatoes (depending on how smooth you like your sauce)
6 cloves of garlic, 4 finely diced and 2 crushed (adjust according to taste, but the flavor is more mellow than you would think)
1/2 yellow or vidalia onion
3 tbsp of olive oil
5 large leaves of basil, chopped
1. Pour the olive oil into a sauce pan. When heated, add the garlic, onion, basil.
2. When the onions become clear, added the tomatoes. After it comes to a boil, reduce to a simmer and keep on the burner for 1-2 hours.
1/4 package of pizza dough
flour (to cover the surface for rolling out the dough)
1. Preheat the oven to 350 and grease a baking sheet with olive oil.
2. Cover the counter, or other surface, with flour, then roll out the dough on the surface, either using a rolling pin, or stretching it with your hands.
3. Drizzle olive oil on the stretched dough and then pour on tomato sauce, leaving about 1/2 inch between the crush and the sauce.
4. Add cheese and then toppings according to taste.
5. Bake in the oven for 10-12 minutes, remove, then allow to cool.
Breakdown of Costs by Recipe:
Can of Crushed Tomatoes (at Trader Joe's) - $2.29 for a 28oz can
Pack of Fresh Basil - $1.99 (expect to use 1/4-1/2 of the package)
Fresh Garlic - $1.99 for 4 heads (expect to use 1/2 a head, ~6 cloves)
Olive Oil - $5.99 for a 17oz bottle (expect to use 2 oz)
Total Cost - $4.25 for fresh, homemade tomato sauce
Pre-made Dough - $0.99 for about 4 servings
Pack of quattro formaggio - $4.99 for 12 oz (used about 3 oz)
Pack of Swiss-gruyere cheese - $5.99 for 12 oz (used about 3 oz)
Pack of Pepperonis - $2.99 (expect to use 1/6 of the pack at a time)
Onion - $0.79 each (used 1/2 the onion for the both of us)
Mushrooms - $1.99 for 1 pint (expect to use 1/4)
Pack of 5 apples - $3.99 (used 1/2 of one apple)
Mike's Pizza - $2.94
My Pizza - $2.59*
*I saved because the ham was leftovers given to me by my mom from a trip home, otherwise I would expect the expense to be ~$3.10 Take this as an example of how leftovers can be made into fresh creations
P.S.S. - Those glasses are filled with kool-aid. Yeah, we did.
Thursday, April 22
For now, enjoy the eye candy: Cake Decorating at Instructables.com
Wednesday, April 21
Hamburger Meat (add to your homemade tomato sauce, hamburgers for a quick meal, or a chipotle night at home)
Bacon (love it at breakfast, can use it in place of pancetta in Italian cuisine)
2% Milk (for baking with your flour)
Large Eggs (great for breakfast, lunch or dinner)
Pizza Dough (for homemade pizza, calzones, stromboli)
Whole Wheat Bread (for toast, cut a circle in the middle and fry an egg for breakfast, or with a salad on the side for lunch)
Garlic (an amazing flavor, and it keeps the Ed [ away)
Onion (Julia Childs couldn't imagine a world without them; get one yellow/vidalia and one red if you can)
Baby Spinach (good for salads, mixing into pastas and adding a little green to all entrees)
Basil (one of the most versatile herbs, use in European and Asian cooking)
Mushrooms (use it to top pizzas, put in calzones, mix with pastas, in entrees or just on the side)
Crushed or Diced or Pureed Tomatoes (make tomato sauce with the garlic, onions, basil and olive oil)
Black Beans (to eat on your chipotle night or with rice and topped with greek yogurt, and guacamole if you splurge)
Jam (for your toast, to mix with green yogurt)
Vanilla and Almond Extract (don't mind getting artificial if it means saving money)
Raw Agave (use it in place of sugar or honey)
lemon (mix a little with milk to make buttermilk for pancakes or biscuits)
Spices: Cinnamon, Nutmeg, Cayenne Pepper and Red Pepper Flakes (for Spice), Cumin (for Mexican or Indian), Black Pepper (most important)
Green Peas (heat with mushrooms, olive oil and garlic on the stove top; mix with pasta or eat on the side of another meal)
Ravioli (a quick meal for when you don't feel like doing anything other than boil water)
I know I listed a lot, and it maybe be a higher upfront expense upfront, but the cabinet items will last for months, the pizza dough can be frozen for later use, odds are your won't eat a one pound bag of frozen peas in one sitting. And you'll save money making your own tomato sauce, and cooking at home instead of going out for your meals.
Hope this helps you one your way to stocking up your kitchen, this way when you open up your fridge you won't have this guy pop out.
Tuesday, April 20
I use a french press to make my coffee. It is cheaper than a coffee maker, whether it's a chefmate or a cuisinart or an espresso maker with a name I can't even pronounce. And often times, the flavor is bolder, deeper and significantly better than anything coming out of one of those overpriced machines. You can get a nice one for $25 and it will last you for your whole college career (validity of that statement pending me graduating next May).
I also purchase my beans from Trader Joe's. If I lived in New York I would buy all of my coffee beans from Fairway, this awesome grocery store, and probably one of the most famous in the world, on the upper West Side of Manhattan, right next to the Hudson River, but for now, Trader Joe's carries a great variety, ranging from your cheaper Seattle Blends to the decadent $40/pound Jamaica Blue Mountain variety. I've settled for the $6.99 Costa Rican Tarrazu, a medium dark roast bean. There is also a bean grinder in the store, so I grind them up right there (if you decide to go for a french press, get them a little coarser so you don't have to worry about the grinds finding their way through the filter).
Because my boyfriend is not a coffee drinker, I try to brew as little as possible at one time, which is hard as I tend to over estimate how much I'll be drinking. Recently, I've been keeping it to just two tablespoons. On the weekends I'll do a full six and fill it up with boiling water. Feel free to add more or less grinds, more or less water, depending on how strong you like your brew.
Now for the recipe.
1 French Press
~1-1/2 C boiling water
2 T coarse coffee grinds
1/8 t almond extract
2 T whipped cream
1 T chocolate sauce
1. Add the coffee grinds to the french press while the water is boiling. Once it has come to a boil, pour into the french press, stir, and let sit for about 5 minutes (more or less time depending on your preference of the strength of the coffee).
2. pour coffee into a cup, add the almond extract and stir. Top with whipped cream and chocolate sauce.
The extract adds a nice flavor to the coffee. Any flavor extract can be used, and if you have syrup, even better. The whipped cream and chocolate sauce make it feel more like it's being made my a highly-trained barista, rather than in a tiny apartment kitchen.
Even better so, the combined cost of all of the ingredients, less the investment of the french press, bring the total cost to $0.74*. Moreover, for myself this total cost includes the recipe above, plus a regular, plain cup of coffee. The price of the equivalent at Starbucks would come to about $2.55**. That is a savings for $1.81 in just one day. If you do this 5 days a week for a year that is savings of $470.60. You can do your own coffee calculations to see how much you could be saving.
*by my calculations:
2 T coffee = $0.54
1/8 t almond extract = $0.04
2 T whipped cream = $0.08
1 T chocolate sauce = $0.08
$1.75 for a tall (small) plain coffee
$1.75 + $0.30 (styrup, and I'm being generous by counting this toward the extract and the chocolate syrup on top) + $0.50 = $2.55
Monday, April 19
Peanut sauce has always been one of my favorite sauces. Peanut is a great flavor and balances that funny, little line reconciling the sweet with the salty. Here is a recipe that I've adapted to the flavors I like, and you can do the same.
1/3 C peanut butter
2 T reduced sodium soy sauce
1/3 C warm water
1-2 garlic cloves, chopped*
1/4 T ginger root, grated**
1 t chili paste***
1. In a small bowl, combine the garlic cloves and ginger root.
2. Add the peanut butter to the bowl and mix.
3. Slowly add water, stirring the mixture as you pour. Do the same for the soy sauce.
4. Finally, add the chili paste.
*I love garlic, but I opted for just one clove. Next time I'll try two and see whether or not the second clove makes the flavor too overwhelming. Adjust according to your personal tastes.
**Ginger can be an acquired taste for some people. The first recipe I looked at only called for 1/8 t of grated ginger root and made it optional, so don't feel obligated to add any. But if it's a flavor you enjoy, the more the merrier.
***I am also a love of all things spicy. I think the 1 teaspoon is just enough to give it a slight kick without taking away from the depth peanut flavor. I might add a little more next time, just to experiment a little.
I put the final product in a salsa jar that Mike and I finished last week. I find that keeping jars like that, particularly the mason jars that tomato sauces come in, are particularly useful for storing leftovers, sauces, marinades and keeping the prep work I do the night before for some recipes fresh.
I roasted asparagus in the oven and dipped it in the peanut sauce. This was along side of all of the green/red curry that I have left over from last night. I also made a simple pepperoni pizza for Mike. I'll give the recipe for that, along with the homemade tomato sauce that I use on the pizza, next time I make one.
Sunday, April 18
I guess the best way to start this would be to explain what I cooked today.
In my humble opinion, Sunday breakfast is one of the most important meals of the week. Usually it is pancakes day in my apartment but I decided to try something different. While creating my recipes binder (a collection of about 100 recipes, and growing) I came across a recipe for torrijas, spanish french toast made with a stale french baguette. Luckily enough I had a quickly-hardening baguette on the top of my fridge, and so I went about making the torrijas topped with powdered sugar and a side of bacon.
Then for dinner I decided to make a green curry with this paste that had been sitting in the cupboard for an amount of time that I can't publish in good conscience. Because of what I think believe is a result of all of the chili paste and soy sauce, my green curry became a red one, but the flavor is so good that I think I could put Bangkok Bistro out of business. It would also be terrible for me to forget to mention the hot dogs (for the picky-eating boyfriend), tomato-basil-mozzarella antipasto and sundried tomato and basil focaccia that humbly sat beside the curry at the dinner table.
That's all for now. I'll post the recipes and pictures of the results sometime tomorrow, as soon as I get them from my boyfriend's camera.
Friday, April 16
Last night I was watching t.v. when a commercial came on for a sandwich, at least that is what it is called. "That just can't be," I exclaimed when the picture of the "food" was displayed across the screen. "Never in my life have I seen such a thing. Perhaps KFC is a little late on the April Fool's uptake." And just as suddenly as it appeared it disppeared and I dismissed it in the same way I dismiss my roommate's attempts to go to Yates1.
Then as I was reading the Huffington's Posts new food section, it appeared, just as suddenly, as frighteningly as it had the night before. This is no mere by-product of the KFC research and development dungeons. It's much more than that, a food phenomenon spitting in the face of Michelle Obama's campaign against Americans becoming by and large (pun most definitely intended) the worlds fattest fatties. I am so offended by this that I am considering writing a letter to KFC. I'm not sure who specifically right now, but it will be strongly worded, with lots of capitalized letters and exclamation points, because in the face of the unknown (this so-called sandwich), we as a society become fearful and angry. And right now, this sandwich scares me and makes me angry.
There is a phrase in Chinese that goes 苛政猛于虎, meaning a severe government is more ferocious than a tiger. In present times that phrase often goes 网毒猛于虎, meaning that the "internet drug" is more ferocious than a tiger, relating to the pervasiveness of internet addiction in modern Chinese society. I think in America the phrase, 食毒猛于虎, or the "food drug" is more ferocious than a tiger, is very applicable in these times and we are now experience one of its most ferocious manifestations.
1. Yates Field House is the gym at Georgetown University. My roommate has not cast as much as a shadow there since 2008.