Sunday, May 30

Food for Thought

Cover of "Food Matters: A Guide to Consci...



I love food. I also think it is a transcendent topic, in that food is something essential for life, and at the same time it functions as art, as a lifestyle, or as a political fire ground. The GoodEater Collaborative is an interesting blog that is able to reconcile all of these functions, offering commentary on food enjoyment, food politics, sustainability, as well as recipes. They do great work, are a great resouce, and have some interesting articles that could help pass the time as you sit in sweltering heat in your home. I've linked to some articles below. Enjoy.





For the mean time, I will be reading Food Matters by Mark Bittman, a food writer that I cite often, and In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan, an expert on food politics. I'm curious to see what effect these books have on my cooking and on this blog and the way that I approach food.
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Thursday, May 27

Summer 2010: You Choose My Content

So now that it is the summer and school is out, I want to do a little bit more extensive posting, whether it is related to recipes, cuisine, ingredients, techniques or other general know-how. If you have an opinion on what kind of content you'd like to see throughout the summer, post a comment or shoot me an email.

Here are some ideas I have:

World Cuisine Weeks - Prepare of a menu of dinners for certain weeks throughout the summer, based on the cuisine of a specific country or region (ex. French Cuisine, Indian Cuisine, American Cuisine, etc)

Techniques and Tips of the Trade for Beginners and Beyond - I'll provide posts on specific topics relating to preparing and cooking food (ex. knife skills, soups stocks and stews, grilling, braising and roasting, baking, desserts, etc)

Ingredients of the Week - I'll pick feature ingredients, describe their origins and varietals, among other interesting and relevant information, and prepare a dish using them, as well as suggestions for other recipes

Reader's Choice - If anyone is out there reading (I know you're out there, I have a counter and only 1/3 of the hits are my own), feel free to post or email me a question about cooking or a suggestion for something that you would like me to address on the blog and I'll make a post on that topic.

Any other ideas? Let me know.

Meals for Movers

Today I'm moving all of my belongings from my apartment into a house. This means that I'm fighting a losing battle to use up all of the remaining food in my fridge. Moreover, Mike decided that he needed to go home the other day. The only positive thing that came out of this decision was that the food I had left would be more likely to be eaten. While it seems surprising, because he eats so much, given the kind of food I have left, it would be more likely to be eaten by me than him, anyway.

I have lots of bread left, and while the thought of eating nothing but whole wheat sandwich bread and strawberry jam is enticing, I figured it was a less than practical approach to my situation. So after work I picked up some eggs, which I have been using to make egg toast, with a side salad, which has also helped in using up all of the balsamic vinegar I still have. It is a healthy meal, providing protein, fiber, complex carbs and vitamins and minerals from the greens. It is also a cheap one, which makes my wallet as happy as it makes me ($1 for a 6-pack of eggs, $2.50 for the loaf of bread, $1.99 for a bag of salad greens, you do the math).

I've been obsessed with vinaigrettes lately, so I decided to do a 3 olive oil : 1 balsamic vinegar, rather than my 2/3 vegetable oil, 1/3 olive oil : 1 balsamic vinegar ratio. Then, as an emulsifier, I used my pest-amole mix. Don't be afraid, it's simple mixture of the spinach pesto I had made earlier and some guacamole. I got an amazing vivid green color and it tasted divine. As an emulsifier, it wasn't as good as the dijon, but it provided a more muted, yet flavorful element that you could really only get from avocado, definitely a contract from the strong, vinegar-y dijon.


Another way that I have been using up left over ingredients is by making calzones. I make the dough (see my earlier post on making your own pizza dough), mix up the cheeses, prep the toppings, bake and freeze for future lunches and dinners that cook quick. Here's a list of some of my calzone creations (resulting in 14 total calzones):

Pepperoni
Pepperoni and Pesto
Onion, Spinach and Cheese
Red Onion, Spinach, Tomato and Cheese
Bacon, Onion, Spinach and Cheese
Bacon, Red Onion, Spinach, Tomato and Cheese
Pesto, Red Onion, Spinach, Tomato and Cheese

Pesto, Bacon, Red Onion, Spinach, Tomato and Cheese
Bacon, Onion, Mushroom and Cheese
Pesto, Bacon, Onion, Mushroom and Cheese
Beef and Mexican Cheese
Pest-amole, Beef and Mexican Cheese
Pes-amole, Black Beans, Beef and Mexican Cheese

Wednesday, May 26

Cook Ware to Dream About

This could be construed to be a list of my favorite cookware, but if you look at the prices, you'll see that I'm far from being able to afford anything I've listed, apart from a storage jar or two, and maybe the Delonghi toaster oven. Unlike most girls who dream about marrying prince charming, I dream about my registry and all of the awesome things that will go on it. Call me selfish, but I love kitchen tools. So, here are some of what will definitely be in the running for a place on the list. 


Calphalon Contemporary Stainless Steel 13 piece set - $599.99

Le Creuset 5.5 quart Round Oven - $335


Tuesday, May 25

Make-Your-Own Pizza.... Dough

I finally picked up a copy of Ratio by Michael Ruhlman, as I'm sure I've mentioned many times at this point. He focuses for a large part on bread and dough ratios as they are some of the most dynamic of all the cooking ratios. According to Ruhlman, the basic bread dough is 5 parts flour : 3 parts water, plus a pinch of yeast and from there the magic begins; you can make an olive-walnut dough, or a rosemary-garlic dough, or a chocolate-cherry dough. The point of ratios is to provide a framework, and from there flavor it however you want. I've tried to present my recipes in the same sense, showing you what I do, but providing alternatives and emphasizing that it can be amended according to personal tastes.

Anyways, I'm also a big pizza/calzone person. They are quick and easy to make and always so satisfying. Part of the ease of pizza/calzone is the ability to walk into Trader Joe's and buy ready made pizza dough for $0.99, enough to yield 4 servings between Mike and myself. However, Ruhlman has shown that pizza dough is so simple to make that even $0.99 for a pound of dough may not be the best savings you can get. Mixing the dough by hand is therapeutic and allows you to invest even more into a meal that otherwise would not be that special. So, here is a dough recipe. It should yield enough for a medium pie or for 3-4 calzones, depending on how large you shape them.

Ingredients:
20 oz flour
12 oz water
1 pinch of yeast (if it is active dry yeast, dissolve in the water before adding to the flour)
1 dash olive oil
1 t salt



Method:
(if you have a scale, this would be the best method, otherwise a cup of flour is about 4-6 oz)
Mix together all of the ingredients until it is smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes.

Allow the dough to rise to about twice it size sitting in a bowl on the counter at room temperature.

Turn dough onto a floured surface and knead it to get rid of excess gas and redistribute the yeast, then let rest for 10-15 minutes.

If not baking immediately, refrigerate. It can also be frozen for 3-5 months.

Monday, May 24

A Eulogy for a Can of Olive Oil at the End of its Days

Yesterday, I poured the last drops of olive oil from my can into a pan. As I near the eve of the departure from my apartment, I've exhausted this 101 fl oz behemoth of an olive oil canister. It served me well, dishing up countless of meals that I've shared with you all. Here's to one hell of a can of oil.


P.S. I'm at work and already extremely bored, so spare me.

Sunday, May 23

Easy Like Sunday Morning

So after yesterday's cooking marathon, I decided to keep today easy. Breakfast was french toast with some left over pane bello bread, topped with caramelized bacon (chopped up bacon pieces braised with brown sugar), the strawberries with balsamic vinegar and the plum-strawberry compote from yesterday.

After a little frisbee (throwing around a little bit so I could practice my flick and my back hand), we went over to Dolcezza for some gelato. Mike got strawberry and cream and I got mango habanero lime and avocado honey lime, and it was soooo good. If you happen to be anywhere in the Wisconsin Ave. vicinity, I urge you to go.

Anyways, when we got back to my apartment I heated up some leftover pizza for Mike and decided to make fried rice for myself, saving any leftovers for lunch during the week. The great thing about fried rice, or any kind of stir fry dish, is that it is great for clearing the fridge as it allows you to throw in any vegetables or meats that you want to get rid of. So here is my fried rice baseline recipe. It's more of a thai flavor, but leave out the fish sauce and add some chinese five spice and it'll be just like the fried rice you could get in Harbin or Chengdu.

Fried Rice
Ingredients:
3 C white rice, cooked
1 T vegetable oil
a dash of sesame oil
1 t ginger, diced
1 clove garlic, diced
1/2 onion, diced
2 poblano peppers, diced
4 Asparagus stalks, chopped into small pieces
1 handful leaf spinach, sliced
1 egg, whisked
8 cooked shrimp, diced
4 oz beef, sliced (4 oz is about the size of the palm of your hand)
1 T fish sauce
2 T soy sauce
1 t chili paste
pinch of cayenne pepper
pinch of lime zest
dash of sesame seeds (to top when serving)
lime wedges

Method:
Place the oils in a large pan or wok over med-high heat. Add the the ginger and garlic. When fragrant, add the onion, peppers, asparagus and spinach and cook for 3 minutes, then add the egg and allow to set.

When the egg is set, break up the mixture and top with the shrimp, beef and rice. Then add the fish sauce, soy sauce, chili paste, cayenne pepper and lime zest, mixing together until all the ingredients are well incorporated. Allow to sit over the heat for 1 more minute, then take of the heat, serve and top with the sesame seeds and lime wedges.


For dinner, we'll be doing beef burritos with the left over beef tenderloin, and the guacamole and black beans from yesterday, along with a cilantro-garlic-rice mixture. Move over, chipotle.

Saturday, May 22

Cooking on the Weekend is my 9 to 5

I generally advocate quick, cheap cooking. However, the weekends seems to bring out a different side of me. I woke up at 8 am to go to Trader Joe's to pick up snacks for the week and some cheese (yes this means, my Use-Up-Your-Stash Challenge is somewhat of a bust, but I'll try again later). When I got back at 9 this morning, it was all ago.

So here is another lesson in cooking for those with time constraints: weekends are your best friends, use them to your advantage. You can cook a week's worth of side dishes, soups or other quick meals that can be frozen and then thawed quickly for lunch to bring to work or for dinner when you're home late and the last thing you want to do is turn the oven on in your hot apartment. At the very least, you can start doing some prep work during your off time. For example, sit in front your your tv and dice vegetables to be used in dishes throughout the week. This is where planning weekly menus in advance could be helpful as you would know exactly what needs to be prepped, and it is also something that I hope to improve on over this summer.

Here is a list of all of the things I ended up cooking today, and can be used in the next day to the next 3-5 months, thanks to the freezer:

- Strawberries in Balsamic Vinegar (1/2 lb strawberries, 1 1/2 T balsamic vinegar, 1 T white sugar, 1 T brown sugar; let sit for 1-4 hours or microwave for 1-2 minutes if in a rush; great on top of pancakes, waffles or french toast)
- Buttermilk Pancakes (ok, so it was a mix, but I added cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla extract and a bit of vegetable oil for a tastier mix)
- Bacon
- Beef Tenderloin (left over from dinner the other night, sliced thin, will be used for burritos in the near future)
- Tomato Sauce (plum tomatoes, basil, olive oil, garlic and onion, simmered down for 2 hours then blended)
-  Black Beans (1/2 lb black beans, 3 C water, 1 onion, 4 cloves garlic, cumin, cayenne pepper; bring to a boil and then let it simmer for 2-3 hours)
- Pizza Dough (500 ml flour, 300 ml water, pinch of yeast, pinch of salt, olive oil; based on the 5:3 bread ratio that I read in Michael Ruhlman's book Ratio, as mentioned in previous posts)
- Grilled Cheese (pane bello bread, cheddar cheese, swiss-gruyere cheese)
- Basil-Spinach-Walnut Pesto (2 handfuls of fresh spinach, 1/2 handful of basil, 4 garlic cloves, handful of walnuts, olive oil, water; blend until smooth; feel free to use any vegetable or any type of nut on hand)
- Guacamole (3 avocados, 4 garlic cloves, 2 poblano peppers, 1/2 red onion, 2 limes, cilantro, cumin; blend until it becomes pure bliss)
- Peanut Sauce (4 T peanut butter, 2 T soy sauce, 1 t chili paste, 2 garlic cloves, 1 t ginger, 2 T warm water; mix until smooth)
- Plum-Strawberry Compote (4 plums, 1/2 lb strawberries, white sugar; bring to a boil in a saucepan, then let simmer for 45 minutes)
- Tart Frozen Yogurt (2 C Green Yogurt, 1/2 C white sugar, 1 t vanilla extract; place in the freezer, take out and stir vigorously every 30 minutes for 3 hours, or don't be cheap and just buy an ice cream maker)
- Kool-Ade (that's right, it's in one of my measuring glasses right now, and it's one of my favorite flavors, red)

Let's just say my freezer is well stocked for the next week or two, full of frozen basil, cilantro, and spinach (didn't want it to go bad sitting in my fridge), as well as the tomato sauce, black peans, guacamole and frozen yogurt, among other things (pizza, chicken drumsticks, shrimp, half a french roll). Hope this simplifies cooking for the rest of this week. I'm expecting another rousing day of cooking tomorrow so we'll see what else gets made tomorrow.

Friday, May 21

The Dawn of the Artichoke, among other great food

I've never eaten artichoke before. It's hard not to be turned off by a vegetable that apparently wants to choke Arty. I mean, what's to say it doesn't want to choke Cortne??? But after seeing them for $0.79 each at the fruit stand in my hometown, I decided to pick up a couple and begin experimenting.

I don't have a vegetable steamer, so, after cutting off part of the stem and trimming the top 1/2" of the artichoke, I dropped it into a pot of heavily salted and lemon juiced water, brought it to a boil, then let it simmer for 30-40 minutes, hoping that the leaves would come out as tender as other people say they should.

In the mean time, I roasted a chicken with some mushrooms, onions, balsamic vinegar, apple cider vinegar, soy sauce and olive oil (peace of cake, only took 5 minutes of prep work and 35 minutes in the oven), braised some endives (another vegetable that I had before but never enjoyed due to the bitter taste, nothing a little, or a lot, of butter couldn't solve), and made a garlic aioli sauce.

When the artichokes were done bathing in the salty, lemony-water I plopped them onto a plate and placed them on the table with the other food. Mike looked sheepishly across the table at me as I picked off a leaf, dipped it in the aioli, flipped it over and slid the white, meaty part of the leaf across my teeth. "Wow," I thought to myself, "this is pretty good." And I tore off another leaf, just to make sure that it wasn't a fluke. It wasn't. I enjoyed it so much that, after prodding Mike about just tasting one leaf, I got him to try one, without the aioli (I got him to try the endive too, though it wasn't as big of a feat in my opinion). "It doesn't taste like anything," he said. I agree and don't agree with that. It tasted fresh, if fresh is allowed to be a taste. And so I lost my artichoke virginity that night, and it was delicious.


On another food note, for lunch yesterday I made a salad of spring greens and topped it with a fried egg. It was a great, healthful meal that can transcend the meal boundary (I see this as a breakfast, lunch or dinner). I also made one of the best vinaigrettes I've ever tasted. I've gotten really into food ratios, as can be seen in Michael Ruhlman's book, Ratio (there is also an app that I talked about in my last post). Apparently, the ratio for a vinaigrette is 3 parts oil : 1 part vinegar, as well as an emulsifier to keep the mixture combined and any other seasonings, to taste. My vinaigrette was 1 part olive oil : 2 parts vegetable oil : 1 part balsamic vinegar plus a teaspoon of whole grain Dijon mustard as an emulsifier and 1 drop of sesame oil for a deep, smoky flavor. It was soooo good I wanted to lick the plate. At any rate, this will lead the way for a post on vinaigrettes, once I cash my check and go buy some different oils and vinegars.




Enjoy.

Wednesday, May 19

Top 5 Foodie Apps

Now, I don't know if I've convinced any of your to become foodies, though I have definitely pointed you in the direction toward some great recipes and a better lifestyle in general, that being cooking your own food, preferably from scratch, without sacrificing time and money.

Here are some iPhone apps (they work on iPod Touch, too) that aren't just good for gourmands but can provide a framework for the less advanced cook to build on.

1. Ratio.
This app is based on the book Ratio: The Simple Codes Behind the Craft of Cooking Everyday Food.

2. How To Cook Everything
Here is another app based on Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything, another book on my wishlist (are you listening, Mike?). This app contains all thousands of recipes featured in the book. The great thing about Mark Bittman's recipes is that he views them as more of a guideline and then gives you notes for variations and ideas for experimentation, which is great for a cook, who like myself, who finds his or herself veering far off the course of the original recipe.

3. CookIt
This app allows you to time the preparation and cooking time for a meal. You can keep track of each dish individually, which is a nice feature . I don't see myself using this, personally, but it is great for those of you who judge your productivity based on the amount of time appropriated to a specific task.

4. Epicurious Recipes and Shopping List
Epicurious.com is one of my favorite recipe and food blogging sites and they have managed to up their degree of awesomeness by coming out ith a free app that puts all of their great recipes right at your finger tips. I hardly use the shopping list function of the application, but I feel that as I get better about planning out menus for a week, and even two, in advance, the handiness of being able to pick out recipes from this application and have the ingredients aggregated for me will be fully appreciated.

5. GroceryiQ
This app has been my grocery list application of choice. There is also the ability to add your value cards from grocery stores onto you iPod and scan them from there, as well as clip coupons directly onto the iPod to be used t the grocery store. I haven't tried out this functionality yet, but as I cook my grocery shopping into geer, this could become an even better app.

Honorable Mention
Locavore
With the advent of mega-supermarkets, people have forgotten that produce is seasonal, and the things that you are buying in the grocery store happen to be there because Chile is nice enough to import mangoes and strawberries and oranges to us in our off season. So, I've been thinking more and more about buying fruit and vegetables when they are in season, to be able to buy American (USA! USA!), but even more so to ensure that I'm getting the freshest and least corrupted harvest (they must be less corrupted when they are being harvested at the part of the year that nature originally dictated). This app could very easily point me in the right direction next time I decide to brave a farmers' market in Dupont Circle or the new Safeway in Georgetown.

So here are a few of my favorite foodie apps. Let me know if you decide to try one or if there is a good one that I didn't think to mention.

Tuesday, May 18

Does the End of Childhood Mean the End of Enjoying Sugary Breakfast Cereals

Cereal Mascot ReunionImage by Rob Sheridan via Flickr
I spent a couple days at home relaxing before I begin work for the summer when I say a couple of boxes of breakfast cereal lined up next to each other. I opted for cap'n crunch, as memories of the cap'n and his ship pulling up along side my house ready to float me and my brothers toward sugary ecstasy. Well, juts now, I took a bite and it was gross. I took one more bite, just to see if my tastebuds were trying to deceive me. Unfortunately, the inconvenient truth seems to be that my taste buds have matured and developed beyond the scope of kids breakfast cereals' culinary reaches. Maybe it has to do with me cooking more at home, using fresh ingredients and for the most part, doing it all from scratch. Whatever it is, I feel as though there is a little part of me inside that has died, while screaming and scratching for that last bite of breakfast cereal.

I hope that breakfast cereal magnates see this post and figure out a way to be able to appeal to my new sensibilities, because I would love to be able to bite into a bowl of cap'n crunch or lucky charms or fruity pebbles without my body completely rejecting it.
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Thursday, May 13

Use-Up-Your-Stash Challenge Update

Remaining Ingredients:
15 Spinach Ravioli

1/2 lb Frozen Asparagus Spears
Sour Cream
Peanut Butter
30 Pepperonis
1 lb Mexican Blend Cheese
1 bag of Shredded Lettuce
1 bag of Mesclun Greens (spring mix)

1/2 Head of Garlic
2 boxes of Mac and Cheese
1 box of Corn Bread
1 pack of Kashi Morrocan Curry Pilaf

1/2 bag of Dried Black Beans
10 Hard Taco Shells
5 Mini Boxes of Raisins
.8 lb of Dried Cranberries

Beef Tenderloin Roast


1 lb Frozen Mango Chunks 1/2 lb Frozen Mango Chunks
6 oz Condensed Milk
 3 oz Condensed Milk 10 oz Condensed Milk
9 Eggs
 4 Eggs
6 oz Swiss Gruyere 2 oz Swiss Gruyere Cheese
6 Plums
 3 Plums
4 Apples 1 Apple
1 lb of Polenta
 1/3 lb of Polenta
1/3 lb of Sliced Almonds
 1/6 lb sliced almonds
1/3 lb of Walnuts 1/6 lb Walnuts
2-16oz packs of String Cheese
 1.5-16oz packs of String Cheese
1-8 pack of Hot Dog Rolls
 6 Hot Dog Rolls
1-7 pack of Hebrew National Franks 5 Hebrew National Franks



1/2 lb Frozen Broccoli
1/2 lb Frozen Peas
12 oz Yogurt
1/2 bag of Capellini Pasta
1/4 lb of Frozen Strawberries
Filet Mignon
Chicken Drumsticks

1 4 oz Pork Loin
1 cup Frozen Spinach

1/3 jar of Vodka Sauce
1/2 jar of Alfredo Sauce
Guacamole
Peanut Sauce
5 Multigrain Tortillas

1 pack Whole Grain Brown Rice (9 oz)
1 pack Light Chunk Tuna
2 packs of Ramen
1 bowl of Vegan Black Bean & Lime Soup

1 Tomato1 bag of French Onion Sun Chips
1 Pack Double Stuffed Oreoss

French Bread Loaf (transformed into breadcrumbs)

End of the Semester Dinner

In celebration of the re-opening of Safeway the end of the semester, I purchased some filet mignon that was on super sale. This, served broiled with onions and mushrooms and a red wine-balsamic vinaigrette reduction on the side, served as the central theme of tonight's dinner. From there I mixed together peas, onions, garlic and mushroom for Mike, roasted some asparagus and mushrooms topped with breadcrumbs and swiss-gruyere cheese for myself, made baked mac' n cheese from boxed easy mac (this will be a separate post because I'm still super impressed with myself for managing that), and then Mike picked up some Georgetown Cupcakes for dessert.

In lieu of writing, I'm just going to post pictures. But I'll have you know, the estimated cost of tonight's dinner is $13.54. Not bad for a steak dinner for two.



Enjoy.

Wednesday, May 12

I used up the rest of the peanut sauce and spinach in a pasta dish with some whole wheat penne I had left over. Mike about about half of the capellini pasta that was left. One of the apples and the nuts were used to make a walnut-garlic-apple pesto (more on that later) that I plan on serving on top of the penne with some peas. And I have an idea for asparagus, garlic and bread crumbs that involves roasting.

In the words of a fellow food blogger, read it and eat.




Remaining Ingredients:
15 Spinach Ravioli

1/2 lb Frozen Asparagus Spears
Sour Cream
Peanut Butter
30 Pepperonis
1 lb Mexican Blend Cheese
1 bag of Shredded Lettuce
1 bag of Mesclun Greens (spring mix)

1 Lemon & 1 Lime
1 Head of Garlic
Ginger
3 boxes of Mac and Cheese
1 box of Corn Bread
1 pack of Kashi Morrocan Curry Pilaf

1/2 bag of Dried Black Beans
10 Hard Taco Shells
5 Mini Boxes of Raisins
.8 lb of Dried Cranberries

Filet Mignon
Beef Tenderloin Roast


1/4 lb of Frozen Strawberries (made into strawberry jam)
1 lb Frozen Mango Chunks 1/2 lb Frozen Mango Chunks
1/2 lb Frozen Broccoli 1/4 lb Frozen Broccoli
1/2 lb Frozen Peas
1/4 lb Frozen Peas
6 oz Condensed Milk
 3 oz Condensed Milk 10 oz Condensed Milk (bought more for cookies for my mom's birthday)
12 oz Yogurt (used 6 oz for the fried chicken and 6 oz for peanut-pork chop - recipe coming soon)
9 Eggs 4 Eggs
6 oz Swiss Gruyere 4 oz Swiss Gruyere Cheese (used some on the polenta the other night
6 Plums
 3 Plums
4 Apples 1 Apples
1 lb of Polenta
 1/3 lb of Polenta (used some last night with the soup and the night before with the chicken)
1/2 bag of Capellini Pasta 1/4 bag cooked capellini pasta
1/3 lb of Sliced Almonds 1/6 lb sliced almonds
1/3 lb of Walnuts 1/6 lb Walnuts
2-16oz packs of String Cheese
 1.5-16oz packs of String Cheese
1-8 pack of Hot Dog Rolls
 6 Hot Dog Rolls
1-7 pack of Hebrew National Franks 5 Hebrew National Franks


Chicken Drumsticks

1 4 oz Pork Loin
1 cup Frozen Spinach

1/3 jar of Vodka Sauce
1/2 jar of Alfredo Sauce
Guacamole
Peanut Sauce
5 Multigrain Tortillas

1 pack Whole Grain Brown Rice (9 oz)
1 pack Light Chunk Tuna
2 packs of Ramen
1 bowl of Vegan Black Bean & Lime Soup

1 Tomato1 bag of French Onion Sun Chips
1 Pack Double Stuffed Oreoss

French Bread Loaf (transformed into breadcrumbs)

Tuesday, May 11

Chocolate Mousse with Olive Oil and Sea Salt

After dinner tonight (peanut-sauce and yogurt marinated pork loin, capellini pasta with sesame oil, soy sauce, chili paste and peanut sauce, and roasted asparagus for me; capellini pasta with butter and olive oil, peas and garlic bread for Mike), I decided to make a special dessert. I had made macaroons with chocolate drizzle for my mom for mother's day/her birthday. But I was left with all of these chocolate chips. So I decided, what better way to get rid of some more of the eggs than to make a chocolate mousse. I was missing an instant-read thermometer, but using my intuition, and my handy-dandy blender, I made a quick and easy (45 minutes including prep, cook and fridge time) mousse for dessert.

Chocolate Mousse with Olive Oil and Sea Salt (Pregnancy Safe, apparently)

Ingredients:

2 eggs, thoroughly beaten
3/4 cup whole milk
6 ounces good-quality semi-sweet dark chocolate
3 tablespoons freshly brewed strong decaffeinated coffee (optional)
1/4 cup finishing-quality olive oil
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla
Tiny pinch fine salt
Sea salt or grey lavender salt, to serve
Lightly sweetened whipped cream, to serve

Method:
1. Whisk the milk and eggs together, beating for at least a minute. Put in a small, heavy saucepan over low heat. Put a thermometer into the milk mixture and carefully heat, stirring frequently, until the mixture reaches 160°F. Take off the heat. (since I didn't have a thermometer, I allowed the mixture to sit on high heat for about 2-3 minutes)
2. In another small, heavy saucepan, put the chocolate over low heat. (Break up the chocolate into shards, if not using small baking pieces.) Heat slowly, stirring frequently, until the chocolate is completely melted. Take off the heat and stir in the coffee, if using, and the olive oil.
3. Add the milk and egg mixture to a blender or food processor, along with the maple syrup, vanilla, and a pinch of fine salt. Blend to combine blend the combine eggs, milk, olive oil, maple syrup, vanilla, and salt.
4. With the food processor or blender running (I just stopped the blender and added a bit at a time), slowly pour in the chocolate and coffee mixture and blend until well combined. The final mix will be frothy and smooth.
5. Fill four 6-ounce dishes or eight to ten smaller ramekins and put in the refrigerator to chill. Depending on the size and depth of the dish this mousse will take from a half hour to three hours to set.
6. Serve with whipped cream and just a pinch of rough salt. (I only had some fine sea salt; worked just fine in my opinion)



I'll provide an updated list of remaining ingredients later.

"Food 101: Seeking Clues in the Kitchen"

I stumbled across an article on the CNN website last night about the movement to push Americans back into the kitchen and the lack of knowledge that 20-30 year olds have in regards to cooking. I thought it was something that paralleled the kind of things that I have been proposing on this blog, namely taking responsibility for one's eating and cooking, and having the capacity to create quality meals, while at the same time saving money and saving.


Here is a brief passage from the article:



Food 101: Seeking clues in the kitchen

By Stephanie Chen, CNN




Atlanta, Georgia (CNN) -- The curious faces scrutinize the classroom kitchen, where pots and pans dangle from the ceiling and sharp knives glisten on the counter next to heaps of spinach and ripe green peppers. The one-night, hands-on course, called Food 101, is meant for them. They are the cooking inept, who can't properly to chop an onion, let alone sauté a medley of vegetables.


First-time student Jessica Clark, 33, of Atlanta, is attending the course offered by Cook's Warehouse because she is dubious of her kitchen abilities. She only knows how to prepare grilled chicken and steamed broccoli (and on some nights canned black beans and rice). Her boyfriend is sick of eating the same thing at home. She is sick of eating out.


"I usually make whatever is easy, and I guess that's not much," says Clark, dressed in an apron with her fingers still wet from fumbling through the tomato dicing activity. "I've avoided the kitchen for 33 years."


Cooking dinner? There's an app for that


From British celebrity chef Jamie Oliver to First Lady Michelle Obama, a food revolution is brewing in America, a push to return to the bygone days when healthy home-cooked meals were much more frequent. Despite the efforts to get Americans back into the kitchen, there still exists a group of adults in their 20s and 30s -- like Clark -- who are clueless in the kitchen.


Ironically, these 20- and 30-somethings may have stretched their palates while traveling the world and even spend hours watching the cooking shows and "Top Chef," but they are defeated when they enter the kitchen. They don't own cooking utensils in their Tupperware-filled cabinets. They rely on microwaves, restaurants and takeout menus to feed their empty stomachs. Simply put, they cannot cook.


"Lots of people think, read and talk about food, but they don't know how to do anything," said Jennifer Berg, head of the Food Studies program at New York University. "There is an incredible disconnect to actually knowing how to do something."


you can read the rest here...

Use-Up-Your-Stash Challenge

Last night I continued to use up some of my food, namely the black bean and lime soup and the polenta. The soup just needed some boiling water. With the polenta, I baked it in the oven for 10 minutes, added the mexican cheese on top for the last 2 minutes. Then put some sriracha hot sauce and salsa on top and guacamole on the side.




Remaining Ingredients:
1 4 oz Pork Loin
15 Spinach Ravioli
1/4 lb of Frozen Strawberries (made into strawberry jam)
1 lb Frozen Mango Chunks 1/2 lb Frozen Mango Chunks
1/2 lb Frozen Broccoli 1/4 lb Frozen Broccoli
1/2 lb Frozen Asparagus Spears
1 cup Frozen Spinach 1/2 cup Frozen Spinach
1/2 lb Frozen Peas
1/3 jar of Vodka Sauce
1/2 jar of Alfredo Sauce
Guacamole
Sour Cream
Peanut Sauce
5 Multigrain Tortillas
30 Pepperonis
6 oz Condensed Milk 3 oz Condensed Milk
12 oz Yogurt (used 6 oz for the fried chicken and 6 oz for peanut-pork chop - recipe coming soon)
9 Eggs
1 lb Mexican Blend Cheese
6 oz Swiss Gruyere 4 oz Swiss Gruyere Cheese (used some on the polenta the other night)
1 bag of Shredded Lettuce
1 bag of Mesclun Greens (spring mix)
1 Tomato
6 Plums 3 Plums
4 Apples 3 Apples
1 Lemon & 1 Lime
2 Heads of Garlic
Ginger
3 boxes of Mac and Cheese
1 box of Corn Bread
1 pack of Kashi Morrocan Curry Pilaf
1 pack Whole Grain Brown Rice (9 oz) 1/2 pack Whole Grain Brown Rice
1 pack Light Chunk Tuna
2 packs of Ramen
1 bowl of Vegan Black Bean & Lime Soup 1/2 bowl left in the fridge
1 lb of Polenta 1/3 lb of Polenta (used some last night with the soup and the night before with the chicken)
1/2 bag of Dried Black Beans
1/2 bag of Capellini Pasta
10 Hard Taco Shells
5 Mini Boxes of Raisins
.8 lb of Dried Cranberries
1/3 lb of Sliced Almonds
1/3 lb of Walnuts
Peanut Butter
1 bag of French Onion Sun Chips 1/2 bag of French Onion Sun Chips
1 Pack Double Stuffed Oreos 1/3 pack of Double Stuff Oreos
2-16oz packs of String Cheese
French Bread Loaf 1/2 French Bread Loaf
1-8 pack of Hot Dog Rolls 6 Hot Dog Rolls
1-7 pack of Hebrew National Franks 5 Hebrew National Franks
Chicken Drumsticks
Filet Mignon
Beef Tenderloin Roast

Monday, May 10

Quick and Cheap (Oven) Fried Chicken

I decided that after purchasing that french bread I needed to put it to good use, so I took a quarter of the loaf and diced into the small pieces, toasted them with olive oil and oregano in the toaster over for two minutes, then ground them up my handy-dandy blender to make homemade bread crumbs. I'm planning on using the bread crumbs to spice up some extra boxes of mac and cheese that have been sitting in the pantry for months. But for now, those bread crumbs were part of the base for some quick and cheap fried chicken.

I've been dying to make Fried Chicken for Mike and when I saw those 6 drumsticks for $2 at Safeway, I could hardly resist. The recipe that I use when I am at home, i.e. getting free ingredients from my parents, is slightly different, but this is a good baseline, and it was so good that Mike ate 4 of the drumsticks. Thus, thanks to my urges, I was able to knock a couple of things off of my list.

Quick and Cheap (Oven) Fried Chicken
Ingredients
1/2 C plain yogurt
1 T whole grain dijon mustard
1 T brown sugar
1 t cayenne pepper
1 t black pepper
1/2 t salt
6 chicken drumsticks (~ 1.5 lbs)
1/2 C white or yellow fine ground cornmeal
1/2 C breadcrumbs

Method
1. Mix the yogurt, mustard, brown sugar, cayenne pepper, black pepper, and salt in a bowl or bag. When blended, add the drumsticks. cover the chicken evenly with the mixture and allow to marinate in the refrigerator for 4 hours.
2. When the chicken is done marinating, either preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit or heat canola (or any other vegetable with a high smoke point) in a pot or pan. 
3. Mix the cornmeal and breadcrumbs in a separate bowl. Transfer the drumsticks one by one from the marinade, into the dry mix, cover completely, and then lay either on a baking sheet or in the pot/pan of hot oil.
4. If baking, bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes, taking time halfway through to flip over the drumsticks. If frying, cook the chicken on each side for about 4 minutes, until crisp and browned on the outside.


I baked half of my chicken and fried the other half. I enjoyed the taste of the fried chicken more, but the baked was cooked more thoroughly (the fried chicken had to go in the over for another 5 minutes). Both methods, however, produced very juicy, very flavorful chicken. Above is a picture of the baked chicken. I sliced half an apple and sprinkled with cinnamon and olive oil. I'm sure it would have been delightful baked for a few minutes, but we enjoyed them raw and on the side of the chicken.

Another side dish was some roasted broccoli with garlic and olive oil. This way I got rid of about 1/2 of the remaining frozen broccoli. 

For myself, I decided to fry up a couple of slices of polenta,  top with some  swiss-gruyere cheese, mesclun greens (spring mix) that I cooked down with olive oil, garlic, cranberries and walnut pieces. The taste was delightful and I'm really excited to try my next polenta experiment (I still have half of the tube left). For now, here is some more eye candy.


Sunday, May 9

A Use-Up-Your-Stash Challenge: Introduction

Because it is finals period, I have found my time to be more limited than my money (never happens any other time). And so I've decided that I'm going to take advantage of this by using up all of my remaining food before I step food into a grocery store. And this is particularly challenging in that the new Safeway on Wisconsin Ave. in Georgetown just opened, as well as the summer farmer's market that is around the corner from my apartment. I've compiled a list of remaining ingredients as well  as my receipt from the new Safeway.


Remaining Ingredients:
1 4 oz Pork Loin
15 Spinach Ravioli
1/4 lb of Frozen Strawberries
1 lb Frozen Mango Chunks
1/2 lb Frozen Broccoli
1/2 lb Frozen Asparagus Spears
1 cup Frozen Spinach
1/2 lb Frozen Peas
1/3 jar of Vodka Sauce
1/2 jar of Alfredo Sauce
Guacamole
Sour Cream
Peanut Sauce
5 Multigrain Tortillas
30 Pepperonis
6 oz Condensed Milk
12 oz Yogurt
9 Eggs
1 lb Mexicsn Blend Cheese
6 oz Swiss Gruyere
1 bag of Shredded Lettuce
1 bag of Mesclun Greens (spring mix)
1 Tomato
6 Plums
4 Apples
1 Lemon & 1 Lime
2 Heads of Garlic
Ginger
3 boxes of Mac and Cheese
1 box of Corn Bread
1 pack of Kashi Morrocan Curry Pilaf
1 pack Whole Grain Brown Rice (9)
1 pack Light Chunk Tuna
2 packs of Ramen
1 bowl of Vegan Black Bean & Lime Soup
1 lb of Polenta
1/2 bag of Dried Black Beans
1/2 bag of Capellini Pasta
10 Hard Taco Shells
5 Mini Boxes of Raisins
.8 lb of Dried Cranberried
1/3 lb of Sliced Almonds
1/3 lb of Walnuts



Safeway Receipt (abridged with only food items):
Peanut Butter - $0.00 (free with a coupon and $20 purchase)
French Onion Sun Chips - $2.44 (on sale for $2.99 and a $0.55 coupon)
Double Stuffed Oreos - $1.99 (on sale from $3.99)
2-16oz packs of String Cheese - 7.98 ($5.98 each + $3.00 off coupon)
French Bread Loaf - $0.79 (coupon, regularly $1.69)
Hot Dog Rolls - $2.99
Hebrew National Franks - $3.50 (on sale from $5.49)
Chicken Drumsticks - $2.06
Filet Mignon - $6.99 (on sale from 17.99, plus 30% off coupon)
Beef Tenderloin Roast - $18.03 (on sale from $41.25)


So far I've used 1/2 the bag of brown rice that I found to eat with the green curry. I'm hoping to use the yogurt with the chicken drumsticks for some kind of baked chicken.  We'll see how this challenge goes.

Recent Meals: Frittatas, Pizzas, Curry and Frappucinoes

As you know, I've been busy with finals. I wasn't going to allow myself a real break until Monday after 5 when I finally turned in my 15-20 page term paper. But I decided that was a little draconian and that you all were missing my food writing. Plus, I have 5 pages done so far, I can punch out the rest in a flash if need be.

Anyway, I've been busy and so I've mainly been doing quick meals or cooking the day before. I made a green curry sometime on Thursday night which has lasted through 3 meals so far, probably because Mike won't go near the stuff. Here is a recipe that is easily amendable (I change around the ingredients every time, simply based on what I have on hand).

Green Curry with Chicken
Ingredients:
1 table spoon of green curry paste (you can find a small jar at most supermarkets in the Asian cuisine aisle)
1 can (14 oz) of (light) coconut milk
2 T of (low sodium) soy sauce
1 T of fish sauce (very smelly but essential for the flavor)
1 T of sriracha chili paste (to taste)
1 t of chopped or grated ginger
2 garlic cloves
2 chicken breasts (~7 oz) diced
1/2 yellow bell pepper sliced
1/2 red bell pepper sliced
1/2 red onion diced (last time I sliced a white onion)
1/2 C peas
1/2 C of (frozen) chopped spinach (last time I used whole-leaf baby spinach)

Method
1. Bring the curry paste, coconut milk, soy sauce, fish sauce, chili paste, ginger and garlic to a boil.
2. When the liquid comes to a boil, add the chicken breast and vegetables and allow to simmer for 20-30 minutes. Serve with jasmine rice.



*I'm going to be coming up with a recipe for coconut jasmine rice soon, which I think would pair awesome with this recipe

For Mike, I just cooked a pepperoni pizza, using some of the pizza dough that had been sitting in my freezer. On a side note, I highly recommend buying and freezing pizza dough as it thaws quickly and you can use it make two very quick meals that are also good for getting rid of food in the pantry and fridge: 1) pizza; or 2) calzones (which also freeze well for lunches or dinner)





For breakfast I made a frittata with some spinach, chopped asparagus, gruyere, swiss and mexican blend cheese.


And as I'm sure many of you know, Starbucks is doing a frappucino happy hour from 3-5 pm until May 16th. You can go in and get any frappucino for half price. I, being too cheap to pay and too lazy to walk to the one 3 blocks from my apartment, decided to use my handy-dandy new blender, some freshly-brewed coffee, almond extract, agave nectar, half & half and ice to make my own frappucino happy hour. I topped mine with some whipped cream and chocolate sauce. I have to say, it was the perfect way to beat this DC heat.

And please forgive the sideways picture, as well as the less-than-amazing quality of the other photos. I use my cell phone to take pictures, as I can email them directly to myself, which is much easier than pulling out my camera for one shot. But, I'll be getting a new phone in less than a month (hopefully the HTC incredible android phone or an iPhone) and that should greatly improve the food-picture experience.

Enjoy.

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