Sunday, February 28, 2010

(Not Quite A) Vegetable Enchilada

I visited Bee this weekend at her school, and we spent glorious hours playing celtic music with two beautiful friends. When we stopped, hunger struck, and we hurried to the dining hall. Here I snuck fresh vegetables into my bag to bring back to school with me. It's called a budget, people, and living this way is tough -- taking chances on sour milk and risking the wrath of the hawk-eyed lunch ladies. But the payoff is divine! This dinner used the vegetables deliciously.

1. Fry wheat wraps in olive oil on high heat.

2. Make a pile in the center of:
green olives
green pepper
feta cheese

3. Roll up and put in baking pan; cover with shredded Parmesan cheese.

4. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes or so, until cheese is melted.

They were a strangely filling meal, which I did not expect. And vegetarian! Although we are assuredly not.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

We tried to bake.

Bean made Nigella Lawson's Chocolate Chocolate-Chip Muffins, and I attempted to use up some ingredients that I will otherwise never get rid of.

So! We embarked on a simultaneous baking adventure.

For mine, I used a sugar cookie recipe and added in some shit. The final recipe was as follows:

3/4 cup butter
1 1/4 cups brown sugar, packed
1 egg
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp milk
1 tbsp vanilla
1 cup flour
1 package instant pistachio pudding mix
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 bar chopped white chocolate
1/2 cup dried cranberries

For chocolate, I used the rest of the bar Hannah had brought back as a souvenir from her trip to Israel.

First, cream butter and sugar, and then add in milk and vanilla until it's fluffy. Then blend in the beaten egg, and then the dry ingredients. Finally, stir in the cranberries and white chocolate.

Bake on greased sheet at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes.

Bean's came out delicious, and he put mint-chocolate on the top of half of them for a nice flavor. But! Mine were flat and undercooked. I combined the first batch into a meal, and the second batch into one giant cookie, and even though at least half of it got eaten by various household members, it was still considered a failure (it is important to consider the fact that Jesse will eat anything).

Bread (and Complementary Meals)

Usually I feel as if I am pushing Bean to be involved in cooking / baking projects, and I never know how excited he is about them. But the other day he made bread completely alone -- I did not even touch the dough, I don't think. He used this recipe, halved:

and let the described preferment (see picture above) sit overnight.

The bread came out delicious and made me wish I had been involved; I think I spent the entire preparation and baking time washing every single dish in the house that we spend most of our time in (they have what appears to be an allergic reaction to cleaning their own plates).

For lunch, eaten with block Parmesan cheese, it reminded me of both my high school trip to France and my family's trip to Ireland.

The next night we had this bread with fresh asparagus and beautifully fried eggs. For some reason Bean has a talent for dem things.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

pasta and broccoli and mango and gin

This was a simple dinner; penne pasta mixed with slightly-steamed broccoli, and topped with olive oil and feta cheese. Delicious, though, because it tastes so healthy.

Then we trooped over to watch The Road, which depressed all five of us to a noticeable degree; Jesse came back and wolfed down chocolates, Sean wandered restlessly about the house, Simon descended into silence, and Hannah and I broke out the alcohol.

I have had a can of mango nectar sitting in my refrigerator for an unacceptably long time, and I had brought it with me tonight (perhaps because of the birch beer experiment). I haven't had any juice to drink for months and months because of its superb sweetness. I find it strange that I can stand any amount of sweetness in chocolate form, but fruity sugar has become unbearable in any substantial concentration.

So! I made this one more bearable (and simultaneously delicious) by adding more gin and more vanilla seltzer.

Bean also made wheat-honey bread today, but I have no proof!

Win & Gin?

There is a beer place in [I think] Albany called [I think] the Brew Crew, and we stopped by it the other day after we made ourselves miserable buying suits to hasten toward our perilous futures. It is a quiet-looking place, but filled with so many beautiful bottles and boxes and labels and colors, and beer of every type and flavored with chocolate and berries and oats and from every freaking country in the world BUT -- I don't like beer. So I bought one bottle of Stewart's birch beer instead, and felt the fool.

Last night I tried it and forgot that the downfall of soda is its unbearable sweetness. This was a problem easily fixable by mixing it with Bombay gin and vanilla seltzer, which we had previously used to make a less-satisfying version of gin-and-tonic.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Good eggs are better than bad eggs.

I walked home from class, disproportionately weak from hunger, daydreaming about delicious foods with which to fill myself for lunch. When I got home, I realized I had a whole head of fresh, bright-green broccoli to use up.

I put about 2 cups of broccoli on to steam while I scrambled up 2 eggs in a bowl with some milk, salt and pepper. Cooked those; threw in some feta cheese and a diced mushroom, and added the still-crisp broccoli.

And then wolfed that baby down! It's amazing how much fresh vegetables make you feel good.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

More like dreggs...

I attempted to deviate from my usual refreshing breakfast of cereal and cold cold cold milk by using up some of the farm-fresh eggs my Mother instructed me to take back to school with me. A good idea, I thought, would be to fry up one of those suckers, and while doing so toast an old, almost-stale piece of sourdough bread topped with sliced mushrooms and feta cheese.

However, the egg looked like roadkill; the bread was (as mentioned) old, and the mushrooms lent a strange flavor. There weren't even any good pictures to show for all my trouble.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Valentine Scones

I love British food. These scones were for my dearest Mother's birthday, which happens to be on Valentine's Day. That's the only reason she could stand something sweeter-than-toast for breakfast.

This particular scone was blackberry-lemon; the following recipe was split in three and flavored with:

1. Blackberries and lemon juice
2. Maple syrup and chopped walnuts
3. Chocolate chips, cocoa powder and vanilla extract

1 cup sour cream
1 tsp baking soda
4 cups flour
1 cup white sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
1 tsp salt
1 cup butter
1 egg
1 cup (total) of add-ins above

First, blend the sour cream and baking soda in a small bowl. Then, mix flour / sugar / baking powder / cream o' tartar and salt in a larger one. Cut the butter into the dry mixture until it's crumbly and pie-crust like. Then stir in the sour cream mixture and beaten egg until it's all moistened.

At this point, I split the dough into three smaller bowls, and added the extras in no precise quantities. They were extremely dry and not sticking together at all, so like with pie crust, I added more water. It appeared to have been a problem of not-enough mixing, though, because in the end I had to knead in extra flour to make up for the added liquid.

I formed each round into a disk about an inch tall, cut them into 6 triangles each, brushed with egg white, sprinkled with sugar, and baked on an ungreased sheet at 400 degrees for probably around 18 minutes. My large-appetite family seemed to like them alright, and we offered leftovers to guests that appeared throughout the day, but there were still enough for me to take one of each back to school with me. FUEL FOR STUDYING? If I did any, that is...

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Flavour Cafe, Troy NY

We walked around outside today for too long, taking pictures of a beautiful girl's boarding school in Troy (Emma Willard), and our hands were numb and freezing. The only solution, of course, was hot hot coffee, which we found at Flavour Cafe & Lounge downtown. Bean got almond biscotti, which was pretty, and we sat and watched the people around us studiously working.

Took a lil' nap and then back to work...


Every time I try to understand why the entire
world loves pizza, I can come to no conclusion except that I completely agree. I suppose it's hard to go wrong with any combination of bread, cheese, tomatoes, and whatever else you want. The customization options are probably what makes it enduring, although it doesn't explain the mass preference in America for pepperoni (a preference that I will never agree with).

Bean and I made this pizza last night, and then we made it again tonight with the leftover crust, because it was so effing good.

1 package yeast
1 cup warm water
2 cups bread flour
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp salt
2 tsp sugar

After dissolving the yeast in the water for 10 or so minutes, we mixed the rest of the ingredients in and kneaded it into a dough consistency. Then we let it rise for about 45 minutes, and rolled it out on a gigantic floured cookie sheet.

Then we spread olive oil and oregano over the whole thing, and topped that with a layer of basil pesto and marinara sauce. We covered the entire thing about an inch thick with fresh spinach, and topped that with circles of goat cheese.

Of course then we had to wait twenty minutes for it to bake (at 350 degrees) before we could cure our sudden salivation problem, but seriously. Goat cheese!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Tuna Misfortuna

Have you seen those fat-free tuna salads that come prepackaged with a few wimpy crackers? I think they are lovingly gobbled up by Weight Watchers members and other dieters. The ingredients list is far too long to possibly be very wholesome, too. This meal was my attempt to enjoy a can, since I had gotten a couple of them as hand-me-down Christmas presents from my sisters (from my well-meaning, stick-wrists Nana).

I opened the can, noticed the strangely sickly pink color, and went ahead with the plan of wrapping it up in a wheat wrap with spinach and Cabot sharp cheddar cheese, and putting it in the toaster.

As I waited for it to cook, I started eating an apple, and good thing too -- because that shit is disGUSTing. My mind knew precisely what the taste reminded me of, but I could not pinpoint it. Looking back, canned cat food is the closest comparison I can come up with. You can imagine the supreme salivary enjoyment! However, I had to eat it, because I am low low low on funds and have low waste-tolerance (and perhaps waist tolerance? HA!) because of it.

In short, it is not an option I would recommend.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Rotten Banana House

I had one soft banana in the fridge, and it was almost dinner time, so I bounced cheerily into the kitchen. Mostly the cheer came from the fact that cooking is a most excellent form of procrastination, and there is a giant career fair at my school tomorrow, which involves dressing up in a business suit and being generally discontented all day long. Also my roommate Deag had been discussing the merits of making chili tonight, and the urge to try something new struck!

For this recipe, I scaled down a general muffin recipe and added banana and maple syrup and walnuts. I didn't have an egg, so I added a little more baking soda + milk + oil than was required. The consistency was pretty close to perfect, considering!

1/2 cup flour
1/3 cup oats
2 tbsp (plus) sugar
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
Pinch of salt
1/4 cup (plus) milk
1 tbsp maple syrup
3 tbsp vegetable oil
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1 small mashed banana
1/4 cup walnuts

1. Mix dry ingredients.
2. Mix wet ingredients.
3. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients; add walnuts.
4. Spoon into greased muffin cups, and add more walnuts.

Bake at 400 degrees for about 15 minutes.

This made only four muffins (cooking for one ain't no fun)!

Spinach Cheese Roll

This was the last of the maple-oat rolls I made last week. They didn't rise much, so they were very dense, and filling for their size! They made a delicious lunch. This one just has a slice of Cabot cheddar cheese and some spinach on the top, which, when toasted becomes delicious. It tastes just like the spinach-cheese casserole my Mother used to make, and therefore like home.