27 November 2007

I made a discovery!!

Chicken stock is my new favorite cooking device. My second new favorite cooking device is the wok that I stole from my dad. Chicken stock + wok == best stir-fry evAr. Well, maybe not ever, but you get the drift.

I made quinoa again, but this time I used chicken stock instead of water and oh boy, it was 8000 times better. I used the quinoa instead of rice again and it was an excellent addition to my stir-fry, which consisted of a bunch of vegetables that I was going to use then or throw out. Veggie stir-fry is becoming my new default because chicken takes too long and I'm lazy. I maintain that it's healthier than fast food.

So at the grocery store, I bought a couple cans of chicken stock. My new game is going to be to see what all I can incorporate it into. I also got asparagus. Stoked about that! I'm thinking of trying risotto soon, but I couldn't find arborio rice. Sadness. Maybe later this week, I'll find it.

Other new discovery... the cookie recipe I was using is better if you forget the recipe and run out of vanilla. I think the new best way of dealing with it is to use two eggs (instead of 1 egg + 1 yolk) and to half the amount of vanilla. I made them again by actually following the recipe and was a bit disappointed; however, my friend Dave decided that he likes the actual recipe better. So I guess experimentation (i.e. forgetting the recipe) is the best.

25 November 2007

Corn bread+ instant polenta

I've been reading through cookingforengineers.com for awhile now, but I never really got around to making anything until last night. They had a recipe for sweet cornbread which was actually really good. It tastes more like the Jiffy corn bread mix, as opposed to buttery corn bread with a side of butter that's wrapped in a bit more butter. There's actually no butter in this. They came out a bit on the dry side, but, again, it's corn bread and it probably wants some butter, which I am opposed to doing.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees and grease an 8x8" or 9x9" pan.


1 c cornmeal
1 c all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt (I forgot it at first and I tasted the batter because, well, I'm me and I was wondering what was wrong until I realized what I had forgotten)
1/2 sugar
1 tbs baking powder

1/3 c vegetable oil (I used corn oil)
1 c whole milk
1 large egg (take out the albumen)

Gently fold the wet ingredients into the dry ones. Yum. Bake for ~20 minutes or so, or at least until you can put a toothpick in the center and have it come out clean.

So yeah, it came out a bit dry, but it was a lot sweeter and lighter than the previous attempt. I guess it's just a matter of personal taste (pun?) when it comes to corn bread. Given my non-existent sweet tooth, this could seriously be my birthday cake.

So after that, I had the brilliant idea of trying to make polenta because I apparently love love love corn meal. I stole Chris' instant polenta and had at it. Essentially you boil 3 c water and then add 1 c polenta mixture and 1 tsp salt and just stir for five minutes. This is only the instant kind. I figure that one day I'll make it for realsies. I didn't have *that* much flavor. It kind of reminded me of cream of wheat, except way thicker. Or that time I brought cream of wheat to work for lunch and it was all gross and coagulated. I decided to try to fry it, but it didn't work. I used too much oil because I had seen it deep-ish fried so i was trying that. I still have a bunch left that I guess I'm going to experiment with later.

Also, my new favorite trick is to take a piece of food, hand it to someone and say "try it", and then watch them eat.

24 November 2007


Okay, so I haven't updated in forever, but I have intentions of updating again soon. Tomorrow looks like "experiment with polenta" day and also, I have a new cornbread recipe that I'd like to test out. I suppose I just got super busy, but the problem is that I'll make something and it'll last me a week because I'm one person and my stomach is not a bottomless pit. I made curry again, this time with non-light coconut milk and saw almost no difference. I did, however, impress one person enough. I also made mashed potatoes for the family thanksgiving with brie, garlic, and fresh basil. Those came out nicely too and this time I roasted the garlic which was different and made my aunt's house smell yummy. I'm currently campaigning to get Christmas Eve dinner and cook it with my brother. I'm thinking roasted chicken with risotto. Any thoughts?

Homemade apple sauce!

Yum-O! Actually, I should use some Alton Brown saying, since this was the best we could come up with from one of his recipes. It's actually pretty simple.


1 c unfiltered apple juice (or apple cider)
6 medium-sized apples (3 tart, 3 sweet)
2 tbs butter
3 tbs honey
2 tbs cognac
1/2 tsp cinnamon

Peel, core, quarter the apples, add everything in a sealable container... shake really hard. Microwave for 10 minutes. Go at it with a stick blender.

Serve with a piece of cheddar cheese or ice cream. Ice cream == way better.

So the problem that I had with the recipe is that the intermotron wasn't working so we had to make up the recipe from memory-ish. It worked out okay, albeit a little watery. We used 1.5 c, not 1 c of cider, 2/3 shot of cognac (although, could that be 2 tbs?), and 1 tsp cinnamon. If I could do it all over again, I'd use less cider, 1 tsp. cinnamon, and I'd seriously reconsider the cognac because it smelled like death. Or maybe this is my disposition against liquor speaking.

Pumpkin Pie (revised)

So in the holiday spirit, Chris hosted pie-stravaganza and it was amazing. I made a pumpkin pie and he made the apple pie and there was much happiness and rejoicing. A bunch of the grad students + Katie went bowling, but whilst they were chucking 12 lb gutter balls, we were hard at work in the kitchen.

This pie was particularly rewarding because I made the crust my own damn self. Also, the exact amounts could be off, so I'm going to have to check with Chris to see if it's right.


1 1/2c flour
9 tbs cold butter
1/2 tsp salt
3-4+ tbs cold water

Cut the butter into the flour until it appears to be a crumb-like texture. Begin to form it into a ball and add water in order to make it stick together. The amount of water varies as the humidity varies, so good luck. Wrap wad of dough into a ball and put in the fridge for 20 minutes.

Take the dough out and roll it until it's ~1/4 in thick/large enough to suffice as a pie crust. Place the dough into the container and press it into the corners making sure that there's enough dough around the edges where the wall of the pie tin meets the bottom. Prick the bottom with a fork. Cut off the excess dough and then you can make "pie leaves", which essentially boil down to creating an edge crust for the pie. I cut out stars and moons because I'm sweet like that, but it's kind of unnecessary if you just leave enough edge on the pie. Put back into the fridge for 20 minutes.

Take it out and place pie weights in the center of the pie and pre-bake for 12 minutes at 400 F. Take it out again and then take off the pie weights and put back into the oven for 6-8 minutes or until the pie looks goldenish. If you do it right, the crust should lie flat against the bottom. If not, no worries, the weight of the filling should be enough to compensate and if not, then who cares? It's pie. Everyone loves pie.

Filling (do whilst things are in the oven or something)

2 c pumpkin filling
1 c heavy whipping cream
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp cloves
4 tbs corn syrup
1/2 c brown sugar, packed
2 eggs, beaten (and take out the albumen!)

I think this is all there is to it. Essentially all you do is mix thoroughly and hard. Apparently there is an advantage to incorporating air into the mix.

Pour the filling into the crust and bake at 375 for ~40 minutes or until the crust had browned and the filling appears to be set. Pumpkin pie is best served the next day after it's had time to set.

So this was from a recipe from a cookbook that I don't own. I think in the future, I'm going to be more careful/anal about how I handle the dough and I'm going to play around with the pumpkin pie spice. It was good, though and pie-stravaganza was a success.

Tapioca Pudding

Okay fine, everyone thinks it's gross, but that doesn't mean that it doesn't taste yummy. In fact, I know one person who would agree with me and ate most of it. It turns out that my new cooking m.o. is to cook with so much dairy that I cannot feasibly eat what I've created. Oops.

So tapioca is actually kind of more complicated than I had thought.

First day/Part 1
1/2 c dried tapioca balls
2 c H$_2$O

Soak the tapioca in the water overnight. Okay, that part isn't that hard.

Part 2
2 1/2 c milk
1/2 tsp

Drain the excess water off of the tapioca. This is harder than it would seem. In a double boiler, heat the milk until it's no longer cold and then add the salt and tapioca. Heat until small bubbles appear at the side and then turn the heat wayyyy down until it'll basically keep the mixture warm. Cover and cook for an hour.

Part 3
2 eggs (separated)
1/2 c sugar

Separate whites and yolks and set the whites aside. Take out the albumen from the eggs, for pete's sake (I know no one does this and this means that I'm anal as hell, but still... eww). Beat the sugar and yolks together. Add a bit of the milk+tapioca mixture to the eggs and mix in the bowl. You have to do this in order to ensure that the egg mixture isn't cold when it's added to the hot milk mixture because then you'll have sugar-y scrambled eggs (I hate flan). After mixing the egg and hot stuff to regulate the temperature, add the entire mixture to the double boiler and turn to medium heat, stirring constantly until it thickens. It takes 10ish minutes or so.

Part 4
2 egg whites
1 tsp vanilla extract

Now take the egg whites and beat them until they're stiff and then gently fold into the tapioca mix and then stir in vanilla.

I had the fortune of not only not having a double boiler, but also having the world's crappiest sauce pan. It's okay, though, because the pudding actually turned out really well and I was all proud of myself because it was the first time I had made pudding that wasn't instant. It also turned out to be way too lactose-y but fortunately, one of my friends couldn't chew on anything, so he ate most of it and has yet to keel over from it.

Mac'n'Cheese remix

So in the past month, I've made mac'n'cheese twice. I still have one lonely blue box sitting in my apartment, but I have a feeling that that's going to be sitting there for quite some time. Go me!

The roux that I had made in my previous attempts had never been that great until I was prompted (thank you Joe) to add salt. This made things *way* better. Also, the inclusion of non-skim milk probably helped. So my final mac'n'cheese sauce base looks like this:

2 tbs butter
2 tbs flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 c milk
1/3 bag of cheese

And basically the only instructions are to add those things in the aforementioned order and keep stirring. The first time I made the mac'n'cheese, the cheese mix that I got turned out to be reduced fat and I didn't realize this until I tasted it and was so so sad. Salt is amazing and I used that to cover it all up. The second time I did this, it was with the intention of feeding it to someone else without poisoning them, so I made extra super sure that it wasn't low fat. I also added in almost an entire block of edam. It was really good, but it's mostly going to waste now because I can't eat it without getting pretty sick. Yay lactose intolerance. I learned my lesson from the first time and I now have a can of plain bread crumbs too. So it's add, stir, put cheese sauce over pasta, add more cheese to pasta, sprinkle LIGHTLY (I had issues with this once) with bread crumbs, and place into a 500 degree oven for 7-8 minutes.

I think I'm finally learning how to cook...