Tag Archives: food

Naan


So I made Chicken Curry last week– and then I got really excited and didn’t photograph it, sorry… I’ll make some more and share it with you. To go with this last post, Chicken Curry, one needs naan. Ironically, I messed up the recipe for that and didn’t make it successfully until tonight… more on that below.

Naan is “bread” in several central Asian languages. Traditionally one makes naan, at least for Indian cuisine, in a tandoor– a clay oven. I have no clay oven. Stove-top’ll have to do.

I’m taking my cues for this endeavor from a blog with possibly the coolest name ever, Avocado & Bravado.

Ingredients

1/2 cup warm water

2 tsp yeast

1 tsp sugar

1/2 tsp salt

2-1/2 cups flour (she uses all-purpose, I’m going with 1/2 all-purpose and 1/2 bread)

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1/3 cup Greek yogurt

1 egg, beaten

butter for greasing, cooking, and brushing (Or ghee, clarified butter, if you have it. I do not.)

Make Em:

Combine yeast, water, and sugar to proof. Meanwhile, mix the flour, salt, oil, yogurt, and egg. Mix well, then add the yeast mixture and mix again, kneading to form a soft dough. Add more flour as needed. Divide into eight balls. Grease a large bowl and put the flour inside, covered with Saran wrap, to rise for about an hour.

Once the balls have risen to about double their original size, flatten them with your hands and then stretch them out thinly into flatbread. You could use a rolling pan, but I thought pulling on it was more fun. 

Heat a little butter (just a little!) in a large pan. Add the naan, one at a time, and cook until “blistered and golden brown.” Flip and repeat on the other side, and repeat with all eight balls. Brush with butter, if desired, then serve.

Kitchen Catastrophe! The first time I tried to make naan, I was in a hurry so I put it in the oven on warm to rise. Except I didn’t cover it. Lesson learned: If you’re gonna rise dough in the oven… cover it, or you’ll be sad.

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Filed under Bread., Breads

Road Trip Food Part Deux: Poppy Chow

So since I burned the muffins, I need SOMETHING to bring for my friends on the trip. My buddy John is letting me have full reign of his couch for the weekend, Miss Alisha is going to be my partner in crime for the Charleston leg, and then my good friend Jamie will be hosting on the way back.

I was considering rice krispie treats when I came across THIS.

Game Changer.

 

Nobody loves Puppy Chow quite as much as my college family, so this, I expect, will be well-received.

Poppy Chow

9 cups plain popcorn (I popped mine from kernels in a little oil on the stove)

1 cup chocolate chips

1/2 cup peanut butter (I used creamy but crunchy could be interesting)

1/2 stick butter

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup powdered sugar

Make It:

Prepare your popcorn. I find that stove-top popcorn is a bit more resilient than the microwave stuff, but I also recognize that most people don’t have popcorn kernels in the house, so work with whatcha got.

Melt the peanut butter, chocolate chips, vanilla, and butter together in a double-boiler, or the microwave (at 50% power to avoid burning the chocolate.)  Douse the popcorn in said chocolately goodness. Mix in powdered sugar so it looks like this:

Lay it out on a baking sheet to firm up, then scarf it all down– erm, divvy it into bags with a little ribbon for your amigos.

The thing is, now that I’ve blogged about this, it will be expected once I show up, so I can’t eat the whole thing on the drive. Maybe just a little…

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Filed under Chocolate, Dessert.

Road Trip Food: Chocolate Chip Banana Muffins

Or, Why You Should Use Muffin Pan Liners

It’s Spring Break, and I am going to be doing some road-tripping. This calls for two things:

1) I have to eat all the perishable food in my house and

2) I need something to eat on the drive!

So, recipe one: chocolate chip banana muffins, which will knock out my bananas AND the yogurt in my fridge. Nice.

This recipe is a modification of the one found here.

Ingredients

1 egg

1/2 cup canola oil

1/2 cup skim Greek yogurt

1 tsp vanilla extract

3/4 cup all-purpose flour

3/4 cup whole wheat flour

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup white sugar

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 very ripe bananas, mashed

a handful of semisweet chocolate chips

If you aren’t familiar with my philosophy on chocolate chips, it’s that you should eyeball it until you think you’ve added enough. Everyone’s got a different chocolate threshold!

Make ‘Em:

Preheat your oven to 350, and prepare a muffin pan with liners, or just grease the pan. More on that part later.

Combine the egg, yogurt, and vanilla. Add the sugars, then stir in the remaining dry ingredients. Fold in bananas and chocolate chips. Pour into pan, 2/3 full in each well.

Bake 20-25 minutes. You can use the toothpick test if you aren’t sure.

… Except, this left me with burnt muffins!

Gotta eat around the burned shell.

All of my muffins were burned black on the bottoms, and I think it’s because I greased the pan instead of using liners. I had read that this was preferable, but now I’m arguing for the opposite: bring on the colored paper liners.

The good news is, these were still edible, and in fact quite scrumptious. Except I can’t bring myself to share them because they look like they’d be bitter… hmm. More for me, and lesson learned.

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Filed under Bread., Non-Breads

Spinach, Mushroom, and Sun-dried Tomato Frittata

Breakfast of champignons!


It’s going to be a busy week, but in the best of ways: doing all sorts of interesting things, spending time with friends, and staying on top of work and other commitments. So, I am making breakfast in advance. In the form of a frittata.

Ingredients

This is relative, of course. A frittata is glorified scrambled eggs; put in whatever you like. I like my eggs salty, so in go the sun-dried tomatoes. I am trying to eat more greens, too, and this is a good way to get in some spinach before I’m even fully awake.

But, essentially, for 2 servings:

– 4 eggs

– 1 T milk

– 1-1/2 T Parmesan cheese

– salt and pepper, to taste.

– butter to grease the pan

Not so essentially:

– one cup of mushrooms, chopped

– 1/4 tsp minced garlic

– 2 cups spinach, rinsed and torn into pieces

– 4 sundried tomatoes, cut into strips

– 1/4 cup mozzarella cheese

-1/4-1/2 tsp oregano

If you have any vegetables involved, sautee them in a buttered pan with garlic, starting with those that contain the most water. In my case, mushrooms first.

Meanwhile, combine your eggs, milk, and parmesan with salt and pepper and whip with a fork until frothy. When the mushrooms are cooked, throw in the spinach to wilt

— it will reduce down to almost nothing so don’t worry if it overflows from the pan at first. Then drop in the sundried tomatoes. Finally, pour the egg mixture on top.

Turn on your broiler. Your stovetop should be heating at medium-low, so that most of the frittata cooks up without the bottom burning. When only the top layer is uncooked (you’ll know if you jiggle the pan handle), sprinkle with mozzarella and oregano. Broil, watching– staring!!– until the top is just beginning to show brown spots. If you look away, it will burn.

Remove from heat, remove from pan. Marvel.

I like frittatas for breakfast, but they make an excellent dinner when combined with a salad and good crusty bread. Enjoy!

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Filed under Meals, Vegetarian.

Dad’s Chocolate Chip Cookies

My father, who is recovering from a successful tussle with oral cancer, is one of the best bakers I know.

Although he is currently unable to eat (due to the side effects of the cancer therapy) he is constantly cooking and baking. Preparation is one half of the food ritual, after all– even if he can’t taste the final product, Dad still gets to be involved with the food. To make basic ingredients into something sublime. Interestingly, although generally pretty solid to begin with, many of his most-used recipes have become even better while he’s been unable to taste them. We’re very excited for his mouth to recover so he can enjoy his baked goods as much as we do.

This is my Dad’s recipe for chocolate chip cookies. It’s Tollhouse, perfected. Enjoy.

Ingredients

2 sticks of unsalted butter

1.5 cups brown sugar

2 eggs

2 tsp vanilla extract

3 cups flour (sometimes I use some whole wheat flour, but he uses 100% all-purpose)

1 tsp salt

1 tsp baking soda

chocolate chips, to suit (I generally throw them in by the fistful until I’m satisfied. Maybe 1-1/2 cups?)

chopped walnuts or pecans, optional, and to suit (Again with the fistfuls. Maybe 1 cup. Be sure you only include chunks of nut– the powdery, dusty remnants have a way of making you cough when you bite into them in the cookie, and in general mess up the cookie’s smooth texture.)

Step One: Put the brown sugar in a mixing bowl. (I love my Kitchenaid mixer, which was inherited from the grandmother and is significantly older than I am. You can do this with a hand mixer, but it’s going to take a while.) Melt the butter in the microwave until you can break it into clumps with your fingers. Add these clumps to the bowl and turn the mixer on to combine.

Step Two: Walk away. Seriously. The butter and brown sugar should be mixed at a fairly high speed for 10 minutes or so, so that they combine and change color and become fluffy. This is what makes the cookie so good! If you’re doing this with a hand mixer, be patient.

It should look like this when it's ready.

Step Three: Add the eggs, combine. Add the vanilla, combine. Add the dry ingredients. Recipes often say to mix them together beforehand so you don’t get pockets of salt, and I think that’s good advice, but I don’t usually do it. Haven’t had a problem so far.

Step Four: At this point you should have a lovely dough. Now I add the chocolate chips and nuts until it’s where I want it. Some people like more, some less. Keep in mind that this dough is less sweet than classic Tollhouse dough, so you might want to up your chocolate quotient.

Step Five: Preheat the oven to 350. Stick dough in the freezer for a while (30 minutes?) so it’s stiff when you drop it by large tablespoons onto the greased baking sheet. Oh yes, these are pretty big, fluffy cookies. Bake for 8-12 minutes, keeping a careful eye so the bottoms don’t burn. Let cool. Enjoy.

No wimpy cookies here.

If the cookies seem slightly undercooked at 12 minutes, take them out anyway. They’ll continue to cook as they cool, so you’ll get perfectly soft insides. These freeze pretty well, too– I like to throw a bag in the freezer in case of an emergency.

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Filed under Chocolate, Dessert.

Whole Wheat Peanut Butter Cookies

As a most-of-the-time vegetarian, I eat a lot of nuts and a lot of peanut butter. Peanut butter gets demonized sometimes because it’s so calorie-dense, but really it’s a pretty good source of protein (and, yes, fat, but life tastes better with a little oil.) This recipe mixes a hefty dose of the good stuff with whole grain flour, which helps add some fiber into baking. (I wouldn’t call these health food, but they’re certainly an improvement on white-flour, white-sugar varieties of cookie.)

This recipe is a variation on the one found here. It called for a lot of honey, which I cut down because there’s also brown sugar in here.

So, first off: the ingredients.

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened

1/2 cup brown sugar, packed

1/2 cup peanut butter (I used a supermarket brand, but if you want to avoid the hydrogenated oils, go natural)

1/3 cup honey

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon baking powder

1-3/4 cups whole wheat flour (see below)

Now, the secret to a really great cookie is to use only brown sugar, and to let the butter and sugar mix together for several minutes before you carry on. There should be a lightening of color, ideally. In this case, I think there was a lot of butter for the amount of sugar, so it basically just looked like chunky butter.

Once I added in the peanut butter and honey, though, it looked delicious and smooth:

The original recipe called for 1-1/4 cups flour, but I found that this resulted in a looser consistency than I wanted.

This would be hard to roll into a ball...

I added an additional 1/2 cup of flour, in 1/4 cup increments, until it bulked up and looked like this:

That's more like it.

And now I’ve just taken the first batch out of the oven….

… Delicious. Light and fluffy, despite being whole grain.

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Filed under Dessert., Not-Chocolate

Phootography, Or: Presentation Matters

Or: matters of presentation.

I’ve been wanting to start a food blog for a long time. Not because I have any particular insight into cooking– quite the opposite. I am regularly consulting Harold McGee’s books and recipe commentators to get just the sort of results I’m looking for. I’m no expert. But MAN do I love to cook, and think about cooking, and drool over the food porn at Epicurious and Tastespotting. Except, as a single lady and a student, usually I’m the only one who sees the fruits of these labors (with the exception of my patient roommate, Emily, and my fellow post-baccs, who are often stuck with the leftover dessert I will spend hours baking but won’t take home.) So here I am, sharing them with you.

The thing about food blogs is, ya gotta take pictures. Lovely pictures. On white plates, with natural sunlight (and my apartment lacks both of these…). So this is as much an adventure in photography as it is in cooking. Any advice, fellow food bloggers, on how to make what tastes so scrumptious look just as good?

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