31 March 2009
I've said in the past that one of the things I like about lasagne is that you can make it a million different ways and it pretty well always tastes good. I didn't have lasagne noodles today, but I improvised and even if it's not really lasagne (by my standards) it still tasted ridiculously good.
Preheat the oven to 375F. Spoon some tomato sauce from the frying pan into the bottom of a baking dish just large enough for everything. Put half the pasta in the bottom of the pan. Spoon some of the sauce and as many of the meat chunks as you can get out of the frying pan and into the baking dish, using about half of the sauce. Top with half a cup or so of cottage cheese. (Or ricotta if you're less plebeian than me.) Put the remaining pasta on top of the cheese, then pour over the leftover tomato sauce. Cover with shredded mozzarella and a little shredded parmesan. Bake, covered with tin foil, for about 30 minutes, then uncover, turn the heat to broil and remove from the oven when the cheese is browned. Let sit for a while, then eat and enjoy.
This one will serve me 3 meals, but might really be more of a 2 person meal.
30 March 2009
In any case, simple and easy can be very tasty and this is all three. The salmon was salted, peppered, and baked while I cooked red onion and yellow pepper until they'd softened, then added (dried, Cora uses fresh) tarragon, salt, pepper, and shredded potatoes. Because I was watching The Big Bang Theory at the same time, I kind of burned my hash, but once I stirred it all up, it wasn't noticeable. Really, a tasty dinner and the sort of easy that I could do over and over again.
29 March 2009
SO GOOD. Yum.
I wish there was a pancake making gene and that I'd have gotten it from my father because I have zero skill with pancakes. Flat pancakes, hard pancakes, chewy pancakes, raw but burned pancakes... that's the sort of pancakes I make. These? Fluffy, light, and delicious. And good.
When I was younger we used to get pancakes most Sundays after church. Some family friends would come over for lunch and my dad would make a mountain of pancakes and we'd all sit around and gorge ourselves of their tasty, tasty goodness. I'd always have to have at least three, so I could have one with each of my favourite toppings - jam (preferably strawberry or raspberry), syrup (sometimes with butter underneath), and honey butter. The honey butter was the best of all, so that pancake would be saved for last, then you'd roll it up and eat it with your hands, so you could lick the honey butter off your fingers when it all dripped everywhere.
Here's my dad's recipe, which served 6 adults today:
2 cups all-purpose flour, unsifted (500 ml)
2 tbsp sugar (30 ml)
4 tsp baking powder (20 ml)
1 tsp salt (5 ml)
2 egg yolks, lightly beaten
2 cups milk (500 ml)
2 tbsp butter, melted (30 ml)
2 egg whites, beaten until stiff
Measure all dry ingredients into a mixing bowl and stir to combine. In a second bowl, combine egg yolks, milk, and butter. Add to the blended dry ingredients; beat until smooth. Fold in egg whites.
Spray cooking spray or lightly wipe butter across a pre-heated griddle or frying pan. Pour 1/3 cup batter for each pancake. Cook until puffy and bubbly, turning before the bubbles in the centre break. Cook through until golden.
Place the cooked pancakes on a heated plate and wrap with tin foil to keep warm. Then, eat and enjoy.
This is a pretty approximate recipe, but I think this is pretty close to what I made today:
1/2 cup creamed honey (not liquid!) (125 ml)
1 tbsp butter (15 ml)
Stir together until smooth and velvety. Taste for sweetness and add a little more butter if the sweetness is still too sharp. (The butter really just cuts the sweetness off at the knees. It's still there, just... not so much.)
27 March 2009
The block request was for this block (or the paper-pieced one below) with snowflake or penguin fabric, but not Christmas fabrics. I hadn't thought they'd be so difficult to find, but no one had any penguin fabric, except the one I've got here, which is a Christmas print, and the only snowflake fabrics I was able to find were in colours that I didn't like or couldn't match to anything or else were designed to be Christmas-y. So I had planned to exchange some fabric with someone online, but the exchange fell through.
In the end, I had to buy the Christmas penguins and fussy-cut the heck out of the fabric. Out of the original quarter metre that I bought, I think there is only about a usable tenth to eighth left. There were no-Christmas-free sections large enough to use them in the snowball portion of these blocks, so I had to go back to the fabric store and found this not-quite-snowflake (they look like hand-drawn asterisks) print, which doesn't quite match the background of the penguin prints, but which is pretty close. I was fortunate to have enough scraps of the dark blue snowflake print to just squeak by this one block.
This is a really easy block, to be honest, but when I measured the test square inch on the pattern to make sure the block would come out the right size... it was about 1.3 in square. Sigh.
I spent a stupidly long time figuring out how to shrink the block down to size. (It wasn't a simple shrink job where I went from, say, 7" across to 6.5" because the units weren't squared, but angled on one end and I couldn't figure out what size, exactly, they were meant to be.) Once I finally figured it out, the block whipped up quite easily. I really like the look of this block - I think it's quite striking, even though it's fairly plain.
I really hope the recipient likes these blocks, once they finally arrive. I feel so awful leaving her to wait all this time, so I think I'd feel worse if she only felt sort of meh about them once they got there.
25 March 2009
In any case, this soup didn't photograph well because my red pepper puree didn't really puree that well. It came out a bit chunky rather than smooth, but I'd used a mini-food chopper rather than a blender or food processor. The flavour was pretty amazing though. It's a very simple soup - onions, garlic, chickpeas, pureed red peppers, vegetable stock, and rosemary - but it tasted more complicated than that. I was really impressed though; I'd definitely make it again.
According to the recipe notes, this soup is called Rivithia in Greece, where it's eaten during the fast before Easter when meat isn't allowed. Most of the recipes I looked at online were basically just chickpea soup - chickpeas and rosemary and a few seasonings - but I think the red peppers really added something special to the soup.
The potato latkes were my first successful attempt at making a vegetable pancake. And they tasted pretty fantastic, if I say so myself. They kind of reminded me of colcannon a bit, though with onion rather than cabbage or kale. The recipe asked for sweet potatoes rather than plain potatoes, but you can only really buy sweet potatoes here (at major grocery chains) around the holidays, so I went the lazy route and bought a bag of pre-shredded potatoes.
All around a pretty good, if somewhat light, vegetarian meal. Though maybe light isn't really the word for it, since the chickpeas (for me) are hearty enough to make up for any lack of meat.
19 March 2009
There is a recipe in the cookbook for Lamb burgers with black olives, so I used that recipe, but substituted turkey for the lamb and skipped the olive altogether - I've never developed a taste for olives. Too salty. I still had leftover tzatziki from the night before, so I used that in place of her garlic sauce, which is just yogurt with garlic.
This was quite tasty. I think I should have added more onion to the burgers and probably more oregano, but they had a really nice flavour, especially the bits of feta scattered throughout, and of course it was brilliant with the tzatziki. My pitas were a bit dry, so it broke when I tried to fold it closed. Messy eating, but it tasted too good for me to care.
18 March 2009
The name Cora gave this recipe isn't a very evocative one: pork skewers with (avocado) tzatziki. The pork is marinated in citrus, garlic, chili powder, and red pepper flakes over-night. It was much less spicy than I'd hoped, but it had occasional bursts of heat alongside the much stronger lemony flavour.
The tzatziki recipe included avocado, but I'm not really a big fan of avocado, so I used bits of the avocado tzatziki recipe blended with a second tzatziki recipe from the book, one for Feta-Mint Tzatziki (though I skipped the mint). The tzatziki, which I also made a day ahead to let the flavours blend, was exquisite. I usually buy a pre-made one, but it was better tasting homemade, so I'm glad I went to the trouble. I could have eaten every drop in that glass and then some. I didn't. but I could have. (The garlic is lingering, though. In a big way.)
16 March 2009
Dr Oetker recently brought out these shakers, which I think are a pretty ridiculous idea, actually. There are quite a few of them - pancakes, cupcakes, and muffin mixes. Basically you add water to the container, shake it up, then bake or cook it. It reminds me of this pudding shaker my mom had when I was a kid that you could add milk and pudding powder to, shake up and then pour out into dishes to set. (And also, therefore, reminds me of shaking chocolate pudding once and losing the lid mid-shake so that chocolate pudding flew in a graceful arc across the kitchen. Splat.)
I find these a bit ridiculous because of the method, I suppose. It's no different from a box mix really, but I guess I get annoyed by this sort of disposable single use product. I know it's meant to be convenient; they can sell it on the idea of less clean-up and not having a box of pancake mix sitting around in the cupboard for months on end. But it is wasteful. It can be recycled, if you live somewhere forward thinking enough to have plastic-recycling, but I don't. (Yet. It's coming, but not till closer to summer. I still can't believe a city this size doesn't recycle plastic. Honestly.)
In any case, despite my misgivings about the packaging and also the price (six pancakes for about $4 - I should have just taken myself out for breakfast somewhere) I bought one today. I had a dentist appointment and I'm a bit sensitive about chewing right now so I wanted something light and easy to eat and pancakes do fit the bill. (And fill my craving, I hope.)
I didn't quite manage to cook them properly, they were a bit singed (I photographed the best looking ones, on their best side), but they were cooked through AND (relatively) fluffy. I've had better pancakes, but on the whole, not bad. I won't likely by them again, but it'll probably be months and months before I have a pancake craving again anyway.
15 March 2009
I didn't buy it like this, no. I made it myself; it's regular white (high fibre) spaghetti but I stained it with beet juice. What a mess. There were pink dots of beet juice all over the stove and my hands were bright red.
I boiled up a smallish beet, then skinned it and twisted it up in some cheesecloth so that I could squeeze the juice out without dirtying my hands. Alas, I didn't cook it long enough and so to get the juice, I hand to kind of mash it with my hands. It was stupidly hot, so I kept shaking my hands to get the juice off and then it'd spray all across the stove instead of into the pot. And then I had to kind of toss the pasta, a lot, to get it all stained, but even though it was cold on top (it sat while I was trying to figure out how to squeeze out the juice), it was quite hot at the bottom of the pot and so it was this double-whammy of hand-burning, skin-staining frustration. (You might ask why I didn't use something other than my hands to toss it, but that'd be because the spaghetti hook was already in the sink to be washed, along with nearly everything else that'd be touched by the beet juice - I was worried about staining things.)
Actually, the whole thing was an exercise in frustration. I had planned to photograph it, cold, in a clear glass cup with a little sauce at the bottom and a nice spiralled nest of pasta on top. But what I thought was cold pasta (perhaps my singed fingers weren't reading temperature too accurately at that point) was still warm enough to fog up the glass, so I gave up on that.
I don't particularly like the look of this against this green cup - I should have used the blue set instead because it might have looked a little less... gross. Just not a good colour combination.
Anyway, in the midst of all the frustration with the spaghetti, I over-cooked my chicken fingers, so they were a bit dry. Surprisingly tasty for something coated in cornflakes, though a touch bothersome in their sweetness.
Those I made by dredging strips of chicken breast in a mixture of flour, salt and pepper, and garlic powder, then dipping in a mixture of melted butter and mustard, then coating with the slightly crushed cornflakes. I really liked the taste of the mustard beneath the sweet cornflakes, but I think if I were to do this again, I'd skip the cornflakes and use panko instead. They baked up nice and crispy though, which was good since I was a little concerned they'd come out soggy rather than crispy.
Like I said at Flickr, if I were still an 8 year old girl, this would probably be the coolest lunch ever. I served my spaghetti in Alfredo, but your average kid who doesn't like the taste of anything could eat it as easily with a bit of butter and some mild cheese melted on. (And it could be done much more easily with already red pasta or by using canned beets, which would be soft enough to cause less problems. I'm not sure if red pasta has the flavours of the vegetables used to dye it, though, and this I can assure you does not. Tastes just like white pasta.)
12 March 2009
I don't think a soup like this is designed to be a main course and I was pretty much done with it about half way through the bowl (even though I liked it and would make it again). I didn't like the sound of any of the orange day meat dishes that were included in the colour cookbook, though, so soup it was.
I made a carrot-heavy coleslaw to eat with the soup, which made this a pretty carrot-heavy meal. I like carrots as much as the next guy, but it really was a bit much. I think the soup would be better as a much smaller course in a dinner, though I don't really know what I'd serve it with. (And also I don't have any smaller bowls, hence the large serving anyway - about 1.5 cups I'd guess, though perhaps a little less.)
In any case, that's six days of colour-coded hit-and-miss dinners. White, red, green, purple, yellow and now orange. Although I've enjoyed some of the recipes from the cookbook, Colorfully Slim, in general I've found them to be on the slightly bland side of boring and even taken as individual dishes I'm not really sure that I'd particularly want to make them to serve as parts of properly colour-mixed meals. And so, I think this cookbook might be consigned to the bin. (Or to the Things-to-be-donated pile anyway.)
11 March 2009
The thing is that food goes together or doesn't regardless of colour. So just because lemon and mustard are both yellow, doesn't mean they're flavours I want to enjoy at the same time. All three parts of this were tasty, but they didn't belong together.
This day was tough in part because there aren't a lot yellow vegetables and in part because most of them aren't available to me right now. We nearly never get yellow squash in grocery stores around here and even more rarely do we get pattypan squash, so neither of those were an option. And then... what was left? Yellow pepper. I don't know what else. Corn, which I wasn't in the mood for as I'd made creamed corn on Sunday. If I'd had saffron, I could have turned my cauliflower yellow...
In any case, from the left: the cauliflower was marinated for a bit in the juice of a lemon, then steamed quickly in the lemon juice and some water. I added a bit of celery salt and pepper and it was very, very tasty.
But not with the chicken, which was covered with a mixture of Dijon mustard, finely diced shallots, thyme and some salt and pepper. This was very tasty. I added a drop of stupidly hot hot sauce to the mustard so it was pleasantly hot and the mustard was lovely and it was all around very good. Just not with the cauliflower.
The yellow peppers were very nice - roasted until they were soft and sweet and flavourful. They were fine with the lemon cauliflower (delicious, even) and fine with the chicken, alas they could not unify the two.
08 March 2009
When I start reading a series I usually feel compelled to finish it, even if I don't like it all that much. Might get better, right? That was the case with Eoin Colfer's Artemis Fowl series. I didn't really like it, but kept on picking up, reading, and being disappointed by the books. (I think I've maybe managed to break the cycle – there are at least two available now that I haven't read.) In any case, you'd think not liking that series would put me off buying more of Colfer's books. You'd be wrong. Thing is, I found The Supernaturalist in a bargain bin at a grocery store for five dollars and I don't really think Artemis Fowl is worth five dollars, but some other Colfer book might be. Right?
SATELLITE CITY: THE CITY OF THE FUTURE, proclaimed the billboards. A metropolis completely controlled by the Myishi 9 Satellite hovering overhead like a floating man-of-war. An entire city custom constructed for the third millennium. Everything the body wanted, and nothing the soul needed. Three hundred square miles of gray steel and automobiles.The Supernaturalist tells the story of four kids on the fringes of society who are battling a supernatural phenomenon they refer to as parasites. The parasites, invisible to most people, are blue spectral creatures that suck energy out of injured and dying humans. The group is in danger always of being captured at work by the paralegals and lawyers of the corporations that run Satellite City or being injured and sucked dry by the creatures, until one day they're forced to confront a bigger problem: they might just have it all wrong.
On the whole, I enjoyed the book. It was plagued by the same problems that put me off Artemis Fowl - the snotty author's tone that resembles nothing so much as a snarky teenager who think he's vastly more clever, worldly, and funny than he really is, the often transparent plot-lines, the shallowly constructed characters (especially the villains) – but somehow it was easier to take in this story. Maybe it's just that the main character, Cosmo Hill, is a lot easier to swallow than Artemis. Less irritating, less unlikely, less of a Gary Stu*.
I'll probably never read this book again, but I don't mind having spent the time reading it. It could have been worse, and I'm glad it wasn't. (I really need to step away from the Colfer books though. Just Say No and all that.)
*In fanfiction terms, a Gary Stu or Mary Sue is a character who is too perfect to be anything but a stand-in for who the author wishes he or she could be.
Eoin Colfer has written several books, which include 6 in the Artemis Fowl series and several one-shots. You can read more about him and his books at his website.
Colfer, Eoin. The Supernaturalist. New York: Hyperion, 2004.
Finished: 08 March 2009
Rating: 3 of 5 robotix head plates
This was my 1st book in March and my 9th in 2009.
*Psst... my ratings are numbered 1-5, meaning something like 1=sucky, 2=meh, 3=okay, 4=good, 5=great.
06 March 2009
I've talked in passing before about this block of the month group which I'm following on Livejournal and how I'd decided to use up ugly stash fabric on it. (The ugly fabric being the burgundy and the orange which are very greyed colours, not pure colours at all.) It's funny that I'm lightening up on my dislike the more blocks I make. But it's still almost scarily intense in the colours. I'm not really sure what it'll take to mute the brightness, but I've got a few ideas for sashing that I think (hope) will work.
In any case, these are the first six blocks. I noticed that in the past I've only posted individual photos of the first three blocks, so I'm going to add the more recent three in this entry and hopefully will keep up on a monthly basis in the future.
Sunlight/Shadows quilt so I've done dozens of it. I could sleepwalk through it by now. It's good to do something so simple in such a dreadful month as February.
05 March 2009
Purple is a tough colour, food-wise. There aren't really a lot of truly purple foods and most of the suggestions the book makes for getting in more purple weren't really things I'd be all that willing to try. Chicken with Plum Sauce. Cauliflower Beet Casserole. Ugh.
This came out pretty well, anyway, except that it was a bit dry. Even though I cut all the ingredients down by 6, I think I should have left more liquid for the sauce since it wound up much too thick once it had baked, almost like a paste. Still, I could see myself cooking this recipe again sometime in the future. Maybe for more than just one person, though, since that'd be an easier recipe conversion.
01 March 2009
Actually, it's not so much that it takes a long time as that it seems to take a lot of effort, and I seem to be all about low effort cooking. Anyway, here is the recipe:
Butter Chicken Serves: 6
1 onion, peeled and chopped
2 tbsp chopped fresh ginger
1 fresh jalapeno chili, seeded and chopped
1 tbsp oil
2 tsp garam masala
1 can (6 oz) tomato paste
2 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup whipping cream
1 1/2 lb boned skinless chicken breasts, cut into chunks
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup butter or margarine
cilantro, chopped fine (optional garnish)
plain yogurt (optional garnish)
In a 5 to 6 quart pan, combine onion, ginger, chili and oil. Stir often over high heat until onion is slightly browned, 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in garam masala. Scrape mixture into a blender; add tomato paste and chicken broth. Whirl until very smooth.
Pour mixture back into pan, add cream, and bring to a gentle boil over high heat. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring often, until reduced to 3 cups, about 5 minutes. Pour sauce into a bowl. Rinse and dry pan.
Mix chicken with pepper and sprinkle lightly with salt. Set pan over high heat; add 1 tbsp butter and the chicken. Stir until chicken is no longer pink on the surface, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the sauce and simmer over medium heat, stirring often, until chicken is no longer pink on the inside (cut to test), 3 to 4 minutes. Cut remaining butter into chunks and stir until melted.
Probably I found this online some time ago, but I've had the file on my various computers for at least 4 or 5 years, so I'm not really sure where it came from originally. It's really terribly bad for you - so much cream and butter - but so so good.