30 April 2009


I find Guy Fieri to be crazy amounts of annoying. I only really watch Diners, Drive-ins and Dives because it's probably on the better half of Food Network's programming and nothing is more irritating than listening to Bobby Flay mispronounce "chipotle" every five seconds since he is unable to make a dish that doesn't involve chipotle and ancho chile powder. *Anywho* one of the few high points on DDD was a salmon hash that looked tasty enough to attempt to make at home. The results were nomilicious!

I had a frozen salmon filet leftover from Lent and a failed attempt at dieting, so I had the most "elusive" ingredient on the list already on hand. Hence, I definitely *had* to make this.

The salmon also looked kind of gross after being shrink wrapped in plastic in my freezer for a couple months, so I felt much less guilty for chopping up a perfectly good piece of salmon.

Salmon Hash (or "Fish'n'Taters" as proclaimed by the 'sband)

4 oz salmon
1 large russet potato (~1.25 lbs), cubed into ~1/4 in pieces
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 onion, sliced
olive oil, butter
1/4 tsp paprika

Heat oil over medium in a large pan, add onions, pinch of salt and cook until translucent and a little bit brown.

Add potatoes and a large amount of salt, and a few grinds of black pepper (and maybe some butter if you're feeling adventurous). Cook until the potatoes are mostly done. Add in paprika and stir to coat all potatoes. Add in garlic and stir for 30s until fragrant.

Add in salmon, some more salt and stir the hash to break up and cook the salmon.

So I admit that the pictures don't look completely appetizing, but not all food must be beautiful to be delicious. I think my biggest problem was that I didn't soak the potatoes before frying which meant that they were still incredibly starchy. It wasn't a huge deal, but as one can see, they left quite a mess on the bottom of the pan. Overall, though, this didn't matter much and it was super duper tasty. :)

27 April 2009

Week of Menus

Well... I certainly failed on the whole NaBloPoMo thing, but I suspect that I always will end up forgetting at some point. In my defense, it has been a terribly busy month, which included joining a softball team, crazy tests, and a new car. Yes. We bought a car. In fact, we bought a new car... about as new as you can get. We got a 2010 Ford Fusion on Friday night and I couldn't be more excited. The car is awesome and I no longer fear for my life whenever we brake because *gasp* I can predict with great certainty that the brakes won't fail.

I saw this "week of menus" thing on Dine and Dish tonight and it seemed like a good idea to try this week. With a new car, money is a lot tighter than it has been in awhile so we're trying to eat in more. (Okay, let's be real... *I'm* trying to eat in more. Colby could eat dry cereal, rice, and chocolate every day so it's more my issue).

I'm going to try a M-F menu for this week's dinners:

Monday: Roasted corn and Kielbasas
I have a softball game, so timing will be a little tight... meaning that it's "cop out" dinner night
Tuesday: Chicken Parmesan
I have panko that I've been waiting to use for months.
Wednesday: Salmon hash with scrambled eggs and irish oatmeal
I'm going to try to use up leftovers and have breakfast for dinner :)
Thursday: hatch green chile goat cheese burgers with blackbean+cheese nachos
Again, going through my pantry for this one
Friday: Pizza! with any toppings I can find in my fridge (I see artichokes and sundried tomatoes)
Another pantry dinner and this time, it might be fun and may involve having people over.

18 April 2009

Savoring the Tart

Okay. Whatever. I'm never going to be able to remember to post every day for a month. I guess I can live with that. This week has been rough. I had a test in the most time intensive class evAr and I also dealt with the brakes on my car not working, which only cost me 500 bucks. Better yet, sometimes my car doesn't feel like starting when it's hot, which means that living in Texas in the summer is kind of a downer. I guess we'll take it in tomorrow to get it fixed. In all, I've been trying to keep it together and it's not going very well. My coping mechanism would normally be cooking, but my kitchen is a mess (still), so let's post an easter recipe instead.

Potato, Asparagus and Goat Cheese Tart

2 sheets of puff pastry, thawed
1/2 lb small potatoes (I used purple potatoes)
1 bunch of asparagus, ends trimmed and cut in half
6 oz goat cheese (chevre)
1 c grated mozzarella
4 cloves garlic, finely minced
2 green onions, thinly sliced on the bias

Boil potatoes in heavily salted water until tender. Cut into slices (you can use an egg slicer for even pieces). Heat oven to 375. Roll out puff pastry and score a 1 in border around the sides. Dock the center very thoroughly. Bake in the oven until the border has puffed up and it's golden-y (about 10 minutes-ish). While baking, blanch asparagus until fork tender, but not mushy. Distribute potato slices, goat cheese, garlic, onions, and asparagus and then cover in mozzarella. Bake for an addition 10-15 minutes, until the cheese is melty and the crust is golden brown.

12 April 2009

Happy Easter!

The dinner party was a success. :) Everyone liked the food and now I have a pile of delicious leftovers. Recipes later, but I never took pictures because I was too busy. Ah well. Such is life.

11 April 2009

Vanilla Bean Gelato

This is a quickie because I'm in the middle of making my dessert for tomorrow.

3+1 c whole milk
1 vanilla bean, split + seeds
1 c granulated sugar
3tbs+2tsp corn starch

bring 3c milk and the vanilla bean and seeds to a simmer. Combine 1c milk, sugar, and cornstarch and add that mixture to the simmering vanilla milk while continuously stirring. Keep stirring until mixture thickens, pour through a fine mesh strainer, and put in the fridge to chill. Set up your ice cream maker and turn it on, and then pour in the mix. I waited overnight to do this... but mostly because it took that long to get the bowl of my ice cream maker to freeze. It'll be a little soft, but let it sit in the freezer for a bit and then it'll be perfect. :)

Also, I must admit that I took this from 101cookbooks, but this is mostly for my own records.

10 April 2009

Easter Menu

I decided to have people over for dinner on Easter... a simple enough task, but now I'm wondering if I'm in over my head. Oh well. Too late now, but at least I have my menu planned... which is:

Mini caprese salad with roasted heirloom tomatoes
potato and asparagus tart with goat cheese

charcuterie and cheese plate salad

Main Course:
Roasted chicken

sweet and spicy roasted brussels sprouts and sweet potatoes
mushroom ragu over orzo

strawberry and blood orange shortcake with vanilla bean gelato and homemade whipped cream

I guess I should explain the charcuterie and cheese plate salad, which was not my idea, but rather Bon Apetit's. I'm pretty sure that it'll make me look lazy, but once they start eating, I'll look like a lazy genius. I got Speck dell'Alto Adige from Central Market today because prosciutto was prohibitively expensive. I also picked up some abruzzese and a handful of cheeses including Gruyère, asiago, chevre, and Amish blue cheese. The plan is to make a vineagrette and dress some salad and then put out the meats and cheeses as add-ins pho style. There will also be toasted walnuts, cranberries, and these cute little olives I picked up today as well.

Recipes for the other items will come in due time, when I'm not trying to study for galaxies. Ugh.

09 April 2009

roasted veggies

So... I slept through last night's post. Oops. In preparation for Easter, I've been cooking most of the dishes that I'm going to be making for dinner. Tonight, I made the veggie dish and the cornbread that will be used for the strawberry-orange short cake. :)

Roasted brussels sprouts:
1 lb baby BS, halved
2 tbs extra virgin olive oil
1 tbs balsamic vinegar

combined everything. put onto a large sheet pan face down and then into a 400 degree oven for 20-ish minutes

Roasted sweet potatoes
1 sweet potato, cubed
1 tsp smoked sweet paprika
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp salt
1 tbs oil
1 clove garlic, minced

combine and toss into a 400 degree oven for 20ish minutes as well

Colby and I ate them together and it was surprisingly good. I think that I probably should have turned the sweet potatoes midway, but other than that, I'm getting excited for Easter. :) The only thing left to do is to figure out how to handle the roasted chicken.

07 April 2009

If this blog were about beryllium, I'd have a post.

I found the perfect medium for that walnut and condensed milk sweet: Greek yogurt. The tangy-ness cuts through the sweetness and compliments the saltiness of the fleur de sel. Also, I have to give half of stellar seminar tomorrow, so I'll put up a real post tomorrow.

06 April 2009

Strawberry breakfast bliss

I bought a really cheap notebook a few months back with the intention of filling it with recipes to pass down to future generations of Holleks (so... weird). So far, I have two recipes listed because I want to make certain that I have optimized the recipe. I think I may have found the third entry.

My friend/officemate Irina got me Baked by Matt Lewis. I can appreciate now why it's such a highly rated book. The pictures are beautiful and the recipes are awesome. I had an incredible urge to bake something awhile back and so I pulled out a recipe from the book for raspberry breakfast bars. We didn't have any raspberries, so I made it with strawberries and I think they make it even better (then again, I have a huge preference for strawberries).

Strawberry breakfast bars (adapted from Baked)

1 1/4c oats
1 1/2c brown sugar, packed
1 c flour
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
dash cloves
dash allspice
3/4 c butter (or 1 1/2 sticks)

1 lb strawberries, sliced
1/4 c brown sugar, packed
2 tbs flour
1 tbs lemon zest
1/4 c lemon juice

Preheat oven to 350. Butter a 9x13 pan, covering the sides and bottom. Process the flour, oats, brown sugar, salt, cinnamon, allspice, cloves, baking soda, baking powder until well mixed. Cut in the butter and process until it resembles gravel-y pieces. Reserve 1c of this mix. Take the remainder and press into into a layer in the bottom of the pan. Bake for 15ish minutes until it's golden. While the crust is baking, combine the strawberries, brown sugar, flour, lemon zest, and lemon juice. Make sure that the strawberries are evenly coated and evenly layer over the cooked crust. Take the remaining crumb mixture and evenly distribute and put back in the oven for 35ish minutes.

05 April 2009

If I had taken the time to fill out a bracket...

...I would have won any office pool hands down.

GO Green!

Will post something real later... probably related to strawberries and breakfast pastries.

04 April 2009

Walnut Dessert Mess

We went to see Master Pancake Theater last night. It's basically Mystery Science Theater 3000, but live. The current movie is the first Lord of the Rings and it was amusing. There were a lot of gay jokes, followed by sex jokes, followed by pop culture-y things so much of it was lost on me, but overall, it was a good time. Surprisingly, the best part was the beer. Alamo Drafthouse, being much more than just a theater, has an extensive beer list and among those offered was Magic Hat #9, my most favorite apricot fruit beer. The last time that I looked for it in Texas, I was told that Magic Hat didn't sell any of its beers in Texas, so it was an exciting and tasty find.

The movie didn't start until 11, so we didn't get back until around 1:30, which meant that I had ample time to play on the internets and look for things to cook. After looking through tastespotting, I found a recipe for pistachio brigadeiro, which looked delicious. I'm still not completely sure what a brigadeiro is, but I think it's a Brazilian chocolate truffle and the use of it in those pistachios is loose; however, the recipe calls for nuts, sweetened condensed milk and butter. If you combine those and it's not delicious then you're doing something way wrong.

We had a can of sweetened condensed milk lying around that I had purchased with the intent of making caramel. I had read somewhere that if you just boil the entire can for a few hours, the insides would just turn to caramel. It sounded wonderful, but Colby didn't want to deal with explaining to the landlord why we set off a bomb made of metal and caramel in our apartment, so that idea was quickly nixed. Nevertheless, the sweetened condensed milk was sitting around begging to be used and the pistachio brigadeiro was the perfect choice.

Given the recent pistachio scare, we didn't have any on hand, but we did have some walnuts that we impulsively bought from costco (then again, which purchases from costco *aren't* impulsive?). It turns out that it takes awhile to use up three pounds of walnuts, so they've been slowly used and living in my freezer for awhile.

Walnut dessert mess
3.5 oz by weight walnuts, unroasted, unsalted
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 tbs butter + more for coating
1/2 tsp fleur de sel sea salt

Grease a shallow dish (i used a pie pan) with butter. Process walnuts until they're ~.5 mm (or sort of look like lumpy wet sand). Over low heat, combine walnuts sweetened condensed milk, butter, and fleur de sel. It's important to use a salt that works well with sweets because it's not going to taste good with iodized table salt. Also, the next time I do this, I'm going to use 1/4 tsp of fleur de sel instead. heat until the mixture thickens a bunch. pour into the greased dish and let cool.

At this point, you could form them into cute little balls and serve them on tiny wooden spoons with ribbons, but I don't have those so my dessert thingy is still sitting in the pie plate. Colby just took some and ate it from a bowl. We have no pretensions in this housepartment. ;)

03 April 2009

Martha's Miso Soup

For my birthday this year, I received a bunch of cookbooks, but the most exciting one was Martha Stewart's Cooking School, not only for the food pornaliciousness, but also for the instructions from the domestic diva herself! I have, for the most part, been a self-taught cook, using the internet and books that I've purchased from the internet to try to figure it out. It works okay, but it has resulted in a somewhat lopsided resume, if you will. Enter Martha into my life. I haven't worked through too many of the lessons, but I have started on stocks. There's that vegetable stock that's still sitting in my freezer and there was dashi, a traditional Japanese fish and seaweed based stock, which is the base for miso soup.

More specifically, dashi is made from kombu, an edible kelp in the family of brown algae, and katsuobushi, the Japanese name for dried and smoked skipjack tuna. Katsuobushi is often referred to as bonito or bonito flakes and is rather pungent hence the lack of packing of the flakes.

6 c cold water
3 6 in strips kombu
2 c bonito flakes, (not packed)

bring the water and the kombu to nearly a boil and then remove the kombu and take the pot off the heat. add the bonito flakes and allow them to steep until they settle on the bottom (this takes ~3-5 minutes). Strain. Ta da! you have dashi.

It's really that simple, although I had nothing good to use to strain it, so I ended up pouring it through coffee filters... which I'm never ever doing again because that was a royal pain in the behind. Next time I'm getting a fine mesh strainer.

Miso soup follows naturally from the dashi.

3.5 c + .5 c dashi
.25 c white miso paste
handful of wakame

heat the dashi in a saucepan and in a separate bowl, mix the half c of dashi with the miso paste until it's liquidy... add miso+dashi mixture to the saucepan and add in the reconstituted wakame (which is another type of edible seaweed). I suppose you could add in tofu and green onions, but i didn't have any on hand.

The soup turned out really well and the entire process was well worth it. I now have some leftover dashi, however. Though, I plan to use it as part of a dipping sauce for tempura vegetables... more on that when it happens. :)

02 April 2009

Meyer Lemon Ice Cream

Meyer lemons were featured prominently at Whole Foods earlier last week and they were screaming my name. It was a rather odd occurrence, being screamed at by fruit, but they spoke to me and I listened. I picked up about six of them with the intention of busting out my brand new ice cream maker attachment for the stand mixer that we got as a wedding present from Dave for the first time.

It was a bit of an ordeal because the bowl was never cold enough because my freezer is awful, but zesting all the lemons was fun. The problem with my freezer is that its temperature is controlled by the refrigerator and the fridge is basically a crappy freezer. Aside from dealing with the ice cream not setting, it was pretty easy when all was said and done. The most difficult part was actually cleaning up my kitchen in the first place, but it was definitely worth it. I won't bother posting the recipe, as I took it from The Chocolate Gourmand, but here are a few pictures of the process.

Four bucks worth of lemons, defeated.

Making a simple syrup out of lemons and sugar. That alone was tasty enough to just eat, but I restrained myself. :)

And here's the KASM in action.

01 April 2009

Take 2: NaBloPoMo Day One

I'm doing NaBloPoMo for April... and hopefully I will continue to do this until the end of April. The theme for this month is growing up, which is something that I have contemplated heavily in the past year. Since May, I've graduated from college, moved across the country, started graduate school, and gotten married. The newness of all of these (except for the married part) has basically worn off to the point of dealing with the fact that there's really no going back and that's a scary proposition... so join me this month as I blog through the realities of being old and, of course, cooking.