Saturday, October 31, 2009

Homemade perogies, first attempt

So, last month, The Boy and I went up to New York City where a fellow food-friend recommended we go to Veselka in the East Village. Best. Perogies. Ever.

Armed with some advice from a query I posted to Serious Eats, we decided to attempt to recreate the crispy, potato-cheesy goodness.

We used the leftover garlic mashed potatoes from last week's steak dinner (they were too gluey to eat anyway!) and mashed in some shredded cheeses (we had some chedder, swiss and mozzerella in the fridge -- but it would appear that more authentic would have been farmers cheese), and fried onions chopped small.

The dough (as usual) started to get a bit melty in the poorly ventilated kitchen. And we ate them all before we got a chance to take the end result pictures, but we got a good one of filling them up:

The little bundles got wrapped up, forked tight, boiled, browned and served with some sour cream.

Not nearly as crisp and puffy as the ones at Veselka, but not a bad first attempt. Definitely a noble cause for leftover mashed potatoes.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Monday night dinner

When I read this post, I felt as if Mark Bittman was writing directly at me.

My first attempt at polenta over the summer failed miserably... it was clumpy and didn't crisp up at all when I tried to bake it in the oven.

So, I saw a recipe on Serious Eats for broccoli raab and polenta, and decided to take Bittman's advice and attempt Polenta, Without Fear.

The greens turned out less than stellar, but the polenta was indeed creamy, salty, and delicious.

I also decided to pair the polenta/greens extravaganza with The Boy's Mother's special chicken and dumplings. I used cuts of boneless chicken breast (not having a whole roasting chicken on hand - nor the patience to roast the entire thing), and it turned out pretty good. Not having much fat, there wasn't a ton of drippings to toss the dumplings in, but there was plenty of chicken/onion infused melted butter. :-)

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Cupcakes I WISH I were baking

OK there are some SERIOUSLY adorable baked goods out there right now. I *wish* I had the time, supplies and expertise to create some of these delicious looking edibles.
For starters:
From Serious Eats via A Baked Creation

Then (this is an older post, but one I just discovered): Bakerella creates a Glee-style mash-up of two delicious desserts -- cupcake, meet snickerdoodle.

In short... other bakers are amazing.

Dreaming? of someday creating something so cute or delicious looking!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Sunday cooking marathon

So, I'm busy enough that I like to have food already made that's easy to grab for lunches or what have you. But, I also really hate most convenience foods (ie: things that come out of a box).

Sunday I went on a major grocery run (including Giant and a smaller international market nearby). First - let me note how much I HATE shopping at Giant. Their produce generally looks like crap, if there's any in stock (eg: there were no leeks on Sunday, so I settled for sad, tiny looking green onions). It's SO busy that I refuse to use a shopping cart, and just fill up my reusable bags as I go throw the store. And the staff generally are insanely rude.

Pluses about international markets? The one in question, who's name I can't think of off-hand, is tiny, and cramped as well. And the staff may be rude, but I have no idea, since they mostly speak Spanish in the store. Once I asked for help, and the gal who helped me was great. Pricing? so much better. $1.60 for a package of 8-10 huge jalapeno peppers. Limes are 10 for $1. And the meat? I bought 1.75 lbs of chicken thighs for around $3. I also occasionally make the trek out to H Mart in Falls Church - a Korean grocery. Their produce is the best: big, plump green onions are four for $1, bell peppers are insanely cheap, and their greens always seem to hold up longer in the fridge.

Anyway, back to the cooking:
I started with the green onion and ham quiche. Perfect for breakfasts. Managed not to burn the crust quite so badly this time. Getting better every time!

From there, moved to the Indian butter chicken I've been wanting to try for a while. I consulted a number of recipes online and also bought a packet of pre-mixed sauce as a back up. I ended up making the scratch sauce (was missing a few traditional ingredients) and blending in the pre-mixed sauce for an overall result. Threw the chicken and sauce over basmati rice and made enough for 5 meals.

Garlic mashed potatoes for Sunday night dinner, to be paired with sirloin steak from the international mart.

While the potatoes were boiling I moved on to baking another round of pumpkin gingerbread -- which again, burnt after the first 45 minutes. My mom's recipe says bake at 350F for an hour, and yet twice, mine has burnt after 45 minutes at slightly less than 350... I think in the future I'll try it at 325 for an hour.


Lastly, while I was cleaning up after dinner, I braised arugula, spinach and broccoli raab to go with polenta later this week.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Pitas and hummus!

Discovered a bag of chickpeas in the fridge on a rainy Saturday and The Boy and I decided to make pitas and hummus!

The finished product (also our first attempt at making pitas):

I adapted this recipe from Serious Eats and mashed it with one from my favorite baking cookbook (which, due to its British tendencies titled the recipe "Pitta bread") and landed on this:

1 packet of yeast
1 tsp of sugar
1 1/2 cups warm water
-- combine above in a non reactive bowl, place in a warm place (I heat a cookie sheet for a minute or two in the over, then set the bowl on the warm cookie sheet) until foamy and slightly increased in volume.

3 1/2 c white flour (probably should have used bread flour, but APP seemed to work just fine)
1 1/2 tsp salt
--sift together in a large bowl, make a well in the center
-- add 1/4 c olive oil and the yeast, combine well
-- turn out onto a well flour surface, knead 10 minutes, shape into a small mound, place in oiled bowl (not a plastic one), cover and allow to rise in a warm place until doubled and does not spring back when touched (about 20 mins)

Punch down, knead briefly, then split in to 12 even pieces. Shape into a small bowl, and roll out flat rounds, 1/2 inch thick (about 5 inches wide).

I "brushed" mine with water, like the recipes called for, and then tried grilling and baking.

The baked ones went in at 500 F for 6 minutes.

The grilled ones were tougher, since I don't actually have a grill. I rigged up a wire rack (sprayed with butter spray) over the burner and "grilled" the pitas on medium high heat until they were bubbly on top and grilled on the bottom.

* Photos by Jake

Overall, they were a success. The grilled ones were slightly better -- puffier, anyway, than the baked ones, but the baking allowed for 4 to be cooked at once.

Dreaming? Not really! Today's cooking turned out great, can't wait to make them again. Maybe next time we'd save some chickpeas and make falafel to stuff in the pita.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

mm breads!

Finally found some time for bread baking this weekend, and decided to try a recipe for handmade rolls.

This is a pretty basic bread recipe, I used half white flour and half wheat flour, and seasoned the dough with sesame seeds, poppy seeds, fennel seeds, and a dash of garlic.

Learned a few things about glazing and handrolling the shapes (obviously, they're far from perfect) but they tasted delicious!

Dreaming? of a life with more time for bread baking.

Coconut milk... new uses!

I've been in the mood for a lot of Thai and Indian food lately, but didn't want to go through the mess of making a big curry for Friday night's dinner.

I adapted this recipe for coconut rice from the New York Times, using jasmine rice instead of barley, and red pepper and cucumber for the vegetables. I also mixed in a tablespoon of gochuchang (Korean pepper paste).

Yum! Will definitely be making this again. So far, the rice is holding up really well as leftovers. Seems like a good brown-bag-lunch recipe.

Dreaming? of having my wok on hand! This would have been much easier in the wok

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Baking fail

Was feeling autumn-y this past weekend and collected supplies for my mom's pumpkin gingerbread, a seasonal favorite. Not owning many spices, I had to shell out for cinnamon, nutmeg and all spice. I drew the line at cloves. They were just too damn much.

Unfortunately, my grand plans for beautifully baked loaves were foiled by my stupid oven, which fails to maintain a constant temperature. Ever.

So, the bottoms and edges were burnt (see below). Managed to shave off the burnt parts (lucky the serated bread knife is the only one of my 4-set that wasn't entirely ruined by careless college roommates) and create a slightly shortened, slightly bald looking bread (see below below).

Dreaming? Of an oven that doesn't suck. 

Monday, October 5, 2009


Sunday night quick dinner- the ever labor intensive bibimbap. Mine's pared down a bit, since we're not huge fans of zuchini or mushrooms.

Also tried out dumplings from The Boy's family chicken and dumplings recipe. Quick and easy: flour-egg-water recipe, and just plopped into a pot of boiling water. We ate them plain for a late-night snack, season with pepper and melted butter, but I have lots of ideas of things I can do with those at the last minute!

Dreaming? Of a Julia-Childs-style wall for my pots and pans

Friday, October 2, 2009

Friday night dinner

tteok bogi! YUM :-) The fried rice was still a little wet coming out of the pan, and it got a little softer when mixed with the pineapple.

The real winner was the quiche I made for Saturday morning breakfast. Having never made quiche before I stuck with a store-bought pie crust out of the fridge section. Had LOTS of green onions hanging around and some deli ham I wasn't really eating, so into the pan with some Brummel&Brown, shredded Italian blend cheese, some eggs and pepper = YUM.

Dreaming? Of a tart pan with fluted edges. Also the time to make pie crust dough from scratch.

Weekend... endless cooking possibilities

Ahh weekends. Full days to cook and bake.

But where to start?

Dinner tonight: Korean tteok bogi and not-Korean pineapple fried rice. I have LOTS of green onions and need to get rid of them.

I discovered an interesting recipe for rainbow cake today, but am also craving a fall treat my mom used to make: pumpkin gingerbread. We'll see how quickly she can send me the recipe. The Boy is in the mood for classic chocolate chip cookies, and it was pay day this week, so it *might* be the weekend of new cookie sheets. We'll see.

Dreaming? of my wok, and wishing I were cooking in that tonight instead.