Sunday, January 31, 2010

Snow day biscuits

Yesterday the area was more or less entirely shut down, owing to the fact we got dumped with 6 inches of snow. What better to do than bake? My thoughts exactly.

After running across this post by Amateur Gourmet, I was excited to have a use for my last cup of buttermilk.

I adapted the recipe a little bit - and instead of breakfast style buttermik biscuits, I added in some fresh herbs that were getting near their last legs and a bit of Parmesan.

Adam, from AG, suggests mixing your dough in one bowl, and rolling your biscuits in another. But, I tried to form my dough in my new food processor and had my first #foodprocesorfail. The 6 oz. buttermilk and 6 oz plain yogurt (mixed with a little white vinegar), so I ended up having to add an extra up of flour in a different mixing bowl. I scattered a little more flour on one of my new cutting boards and rolled the biscuits there.

This is a midway shot, I wasn't actually able to fit all 12 biscuits into one pan like the recipe suggested (owing, I'd guess to the extra cup of flour I added). I just stuck the other four in a separate pan, but they burned a little on the bottom. Next time I'll probably yank the second pan a few minutes before the full one.

Additionally, as we learned with last week's popovers, my oven tends to run a little hot, so I was watching pretty closely this time. The extra Parm I sprinkled on the top burned a bit, so I think I would also save that til the last few minutes.

End result? 12 beautiful (ok, 4 had slightly burned bottoms), delicious and fluffy biscuits. 

Here's my  adapted version of the recipe: 
3 c all purpose flour
1 TBS baking powder
1 TBS sugar
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
chopped basil and parsey (about half a handful of each, or however much you've got onhand)
3 TBS grated Parmesan cheese
4 TBS cold butter, cut into little pieces
1 1/2 c buttermilk (I used 3/4 c buttermilk and one 6 oz plain yogurt mixed with 1 TBS white vinegar)

Pulse together dry ingredients and herbs in food processor (or whisk together in a large mixing bowl). 

Cut the butter into flour mixture until it looks like coarse meal (I used my FP for this). 

Pour the liquids into the dry ingredients and combine into a sticky dough.

Sprinkle about 3/4 c flour on a baking sheet or large cutting boards. Scoop 1/4 c sized balls of dough and roll in the mound of flour, then place in a well oiled cake pan. (AG fit 12 in his pan, I only fit 8 in mine)

Bake for 5 minutes at 500 degrees, and 10 at 450 (I adjusted the temperature slightly in my own oven) 

Turn out on wire racks to cool. 

 Dreaming? of a day without snow, so I can go buy more flour and keep baking! 

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Three excellent new discoveries

So, I haven't used any of those other ingredients yet, but I tried some new things this week. 

First, shrimp was super cheap at the H-Mart, but I bought too much, and needed to use up the ones left over from the bok-choy dish. Easy: quick boiled these in some salted water and mixed up a quick sauce. 

Equal parts low-fat mayo, sriracha sauce, and horseradish (not the super strong prepared stuff in little jars, I used a sandwich spread). Delicious. No need to keep ketchup in the house for this one! 

Next, I finally learned how to fry tofu without having it all fall to pieces. I used the wok instead of a frying pan, which helped.

Slice firm tofu into 1 inch pieces, dredge in flour or pancake mix (I used some Korean pancake mix I had purchased a while back for making pajun - spring onion pancakes). Fry in small batches in about 1-2 inches oil over medium high heat.
Remove with a slotted spoon, salt if desired while still hot, drain on a paper towel.
These ones went into an amazing red curry (more on that later)

Finally, I took a trip to the Trader Joes near my office, and was able to pick up two things: frozen artichokes (which I can NEVER find anywhere else) and potato gnocchi.

Having never made gnocchi before this is what I came up with:
Boil 1 package gnocchi in salted water, then drain. Keep warm.
Saute 2-3 cloves garlic in olive oil, then add 3/4 package frozen artichokes. When artichokes have softened, add 1 large can of diced tomatoes (drained), 1 c chicken broth (or 1/2 broth, 1/2 white wine), and 2 large handfuls of baby spinach.
Stir in 2-4 TBS cream (optional) and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and shredded basil.

Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Ingredients I'd love to try

So, I'm feeling in a bit of a cooking rut. I've been making the same things over and over again, buying the same ingredients, and occasionally branching out into a new use of them.

Last year was a pretty good year for me, in terms of learning how to cook new things, and I'm hoping to push the envelope on that again this year.

Here's a short list of ingredients I'd like to learn how to use this year:
* fennel (confession: I don't actually know what this looks like, what it tastes like or if I will like it... But it appears in a number of interesting recipes I've seen lately!)
* greens that aren't spinach or arugula, ie: swiss chard and kale (same confession as the fennel)
* lemongrass -- used in Thai and Indian cooking, mostly, from what I can tell
* fish (OK, I *do* know how to cook fish... I just rarely do it, and even more rarely do anything interesting)

Any ideas or tips for these ingredients?  Would love to hear!

dreaming? of all the new things I might cook this year

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Sunday dinner

Trying to avoid the mayhem of NFL playoffs happening in my living room (also while waiting for Comcast to stop failing at life), I spent today cooking up a storm.

First, I used a no-knead bread recipe and made jumbo muffins, which turned out beautifully:


Next up, I made Jake's mother and grandmother's chicken and dumplings, along with Mark Bittman's popovers. For the first time ever, one of Bittman's recipes didn't go perfectly, and there was quite a bit o smoke in our apartment for a while.  

 They're a little burnt, but more or less OK. And we got the windows open pretty quick, so no major damage. :)  But learned the valuable lesson that our oven doesn't do well at 450F or higher.

Seasoned chicken over a bed of sliced onions, slice 6 TBS butter pats and arrange on top of chicken, cover with foil and roast 30-45 mins.

Dumplings boiled in homemade stock

The popovers, chicken and dumplings, and my first attempt at gravy (went surprisingly well) -- a really nice Sunday dinner. :) Definitely comfort food.


Whole wheat walnut muffins:
1 2/3 c buttermilk or yogurt, or both (I used 6 oz yogurt, 1 c buttermilk)
1/2 c molasses (or honey + an egg)
2 1/2 c whole wheat flour
1/2 c corn meal or white flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1/2-1 c nuts/seeds (I used 1 handful walnuts and 1 handful pepitas)

Sift together dry ingredients in a medium bowl
Whisk together wet ingredients
Mix wet into dry until a crumbly batter forms.
Spoon into jumbo sized muffin tins (about 3/4 way full), brush with melted butter
Bake at 350 for 20 mins, rotating pan halfway through
(Can also bake in a loaf tin 50 mins-1 hr at 325)

Chicken gravy:
1 c chicken stock (I used about half of what was left from boiling the dumplings)
pan drippings from chicken and dumplings
3/4 c milk
1-2 TBS corn starch

Combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan, whisk hard to combine corn starch before it sets. (I let mine sit a little, and it boiled, like little corn starch dumplings... if this happens, strain your gravy at the end)
Continue whisking 5-8 minutes until gravy darkens and thickens.
I didn't season mine at all, but the butter and drippings from the chicken pan had been well seasoned with salt, pepper, paprika and garlic.
 The homemade stock also had a ton of flavor -- if using storebought stock, consider adding a bayleaf or other seasonings.
Serve over chicken, dumplings and popovers.

Braised baby bok choy

In an attempt to eat a tiny bit healther (#10in10 challenge), I picked up some baby bok choy at the Korean market this weekend, along with some fresh shrimp. Funny thing about shrimp: raw, fresh was $2.49 a lb, pink, frozen was $7.99 a pound. I figured, hm, no brainer! What I forgot: raw shrimp comes with the legs, shells, and tails still on, and need to be deveined. = extra work. Damn!

Into the giant skillet went the leftover leeks, which appeared to be on their last legs when I gave them a squeeze, but worked beautifully, and some crushed garlic:

Drizzled in about 1/2 c soju (Korean rice spirits, but would have used white wine if had it on hand)
Then threw in the washed baby bok choy, stems trimmed. Salt, pepper, juice of 1 lemon:

When the greens are wilted (and there's room in the pan), toss in the shrimp, and watch vigilantly! Shrimp cook up fast, and over-cooked shrimp are rubbery (and disgusting). But, really, you could use chicken, scallops, some fish fillets , I've used squid rings before. Before serving, sprinkle 1-2 tsp corn starch to thicken the sauce.

The result? A healthy and insanely tasteful meal that's mostly made up of booze-soaked veggies:


Thursday, January 21, 2010

Better than takeout

Chinese takeout is not only insanely bad for you (so much salt, oil, possibly MSG, nevermind the portion sizes), it also tends to get a bit pricey if you depend on it often.

Therefore, I bring you this: better than takeout orange chicken with snap peas.

This is a great example of a) reasons to marinate the heck out of your chicken and b) ways to sneak in an extra serving of fruit.

Orange Chicken recipe (exact proportions to come, but here's the general idea)
Marinate chicken pieces in 2 parts soy sauce, 1 part sesame oil, 1 part rice vinegar, (about 1/3 c and scant 1/4 c each), 2-3 crushed cloves garlic, 1 tsp ginger, 1 tsp red chili flakes and the juice of 3 oranges.
About 30 mins before cooking, mix 2-3 TBS corn starch in with the chicken marinade.
Drain the chicken over a saucepan, collecting all of the marinade.
Add to the saucepan similar proportions of soy sauce, sesame oil and vinegar, 3 TBS brown sugar and juice of another orange (or two). Heat 5-8 mins until sauce thickens and reduces by about half.

Heat a teaspoon of oil in a wok. When it shimmers, toss in the chicken and sear quickly. When the chicken begins to turn opaque and crisp, drizzle 3 TBS honey over.
Reduce heat of the wok and mix in the sauce.

Top with toasted sesame seeds and chopped scallions.
Serve with rice or noodles and a vegetable side (I did steamed snap peas with salt, pepper and sesame oil)

Another side project I was up to last weekend was making a big batch of chicken stock for some chicken soup while I was sick with a cold.

Stock is another one of those great things to keep on hand - and now that I've got a real freezer, making big batches is perfect.

First, pull as much meat from two store-bought chickens (you could - of course, roast your own chickens, but hey -- I was sick!!).

Next, toss the bones and skin into a stock pot. I also had a wilting bunch of parsley I tied up and threw in.

Add your aromatics (carrots, celery and onion are traditional. I also put in the dark green parts of some leeks I had left) and fill the pot with water

Put a lid on it, and simmer away. I also added some season salt and a few cloves of garlic for added flavor. Others traditionally use a bay leaf, I think.

After an hour or two or three (or in my case, whenever you wake up from your sick kid nap), strain your stock, freeze half, and enjoy. It's silkier, thicker and more complexly flavored than anything you can buy in a carton or can at the store.

Dreaming? of trying popovers this weekend! Can't wait.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Weekend recipes

Still no Internet access at the apartment, so this is just a quick hit of the recipes I used this weekend!

I finally got around to making the Creamy Potato soup I posted about earlier, but with a few changes (see below in bold)

Creamy Potato Soup (adapted from
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter (1/4 stick) I used about 4 TBS Brummel and Brown
  • 2 cups finely chopped leeks (pale green and white parts only)
  • 4 cups peeled, medium-dice russet potatoes (about 1 1/2 pounds)
  • 6 slices of turkey bacon chopped
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves (from 4 medium thyme sprigs) I substituted a handful of chopped parsley (it was half off at the grocery store)
  • 2 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 3 cups water
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream 1 c. nonfat greek yogurt (per a suggestion from a dear friend who made this recipe before me)
  1. Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. When the foaming subsides, add leeks, season with freshly ground black pepper, and cook until leeks are softened, about 5 minutes.
  2. Add potatoes, salt, turkey bacon and thyme parsley and cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Increase heat to high, add vegetable broth and water and bring just to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer until potatoes are fork tender, about 10 minutes.
  3. Blend soup in a blender in 2 batches until smooth. Return soup to the saucepan over medium heat, stir in cream yogurt, season with additional pepper as needed, and cook until heated through, about 3 minutes.

Sriracha Chicken Stir Fry:
2 chicken breasts cut into 1 inch slices
butter spray
1 green bell pepper
1/2 onion, sliced/quartered
handful of baby carrots, cut like matchsticks
1/3 head of cabbage shredded
1 bunch of green onions (dark parts only -- I used the light parts for tteok bogi, which I served with the stir fry)
soy sauce, sesame oil, sugar, garlic, ginger, sriracha sauce

Mix 3 parts soy sauce, 1 part sesame oil with equal parts sugar, garlic, ginger and sriracha sauce (enough to cover and marinate the chicken). Marinate the chicken for 10-30 mins (longer if you've got the time)

Heat a wok or large skillet with butter spray, fry the chicken until nearly opaque. Toss in onion, carrots, peppers cabbage and scallions. Add more sauce if needed.

Serve with noodles or rice (it also stands alone nicely, which is how I served it, since we had carbo-load between tteok bogi and dumplings)

Dreaming? The movers came today! I can't wait to get ALL of my kitchen stuff unpacked. Photos to follow!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

A ton o' pics

Since moving to the new place, I haven't had a ton of internet access. So, here's a round up of pictures I've taken, starting with our last meal in the old place.

THE LAST SUPPER: Bibimbap in the basement

Officially retiring the wine bottle rolling pin. New one on it's way!

Frying up the bulgogi

Pan frying the dumplings, as had already packed the bamboo steamer (see below)


MMMM bibimbap!!(recipe to follow)


Ingredients for hummus

In action!! Fastest hummus ever!

Pie crust dough, just for something else to try

Flaky and delicious




Bibimbap (Korean rice bowl)
1 1/2 c cooked rice (traditional Koreans use whatever is leftover from the day before)
Any veggies of the following (about 1/4 c of each per serving - sliced matchstick style, sauteed lightly in vegetable oil or butter spray):
baby carrots, spinach, zucchini, onion, enoki mushrooms, shiitake mushrooms, daikon radish, bean sprouts
ground beef, pork belly or steak (korean bbq style) - about 1/3 c
1 egg, fried on the bottom
1 -3 TBS gochuchang (red pepper paste)

Drizzle 1 TBS sesame oil over rice, arrange vegetables in segments on top of rice, top with fried egg and the gochuchang. Stir to combine.

Hummus (adapted from the Cuisinart recipe book)
1 large can chick peas/garbanzo beans
2 cloves garlic
zest and juice of 1 lemon
3 TBS tahini, more to taste
1 tsp cumin
salt, to taste
2 TBS olive oil
5 TBS water
optional: small handful parsley, 1 tsp red chili flakes

In a food processor, chop the garlic, lemon zest, cumin until well combined.
Add chickpeas, tahini, olive oil, water and parsley if using. Pulse until smooth. Mix in salt and chili flakes, if using, to taste
Add more water and olive oil in small batches to desired consistency. Hummus should be smooth, but thick and creamy.

If you don't have a food processor, you can still make hummus. I use to use an old school mortar and pestle (you could use a heavy mixing bowl and a large spoon or other heavy kitchen tool) to mash up the chickpeas, then mix in minced garlic, the tahini, oil and water (hot water usually helped smooth things out). The hummus is a little chunkier, and if you have a blender (I had a terrible bullet blender), you can try to blend it a little smoother.

Dreaming? of all the new things I can make with my food processor!!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Kitchen Faves

OK, First Things First:

IT CAME!!!!!!!!!!!!

Merry Christmas to me! (courtesy of my VERY loving grandmother, Nan!!) I am now the VERY excited owner of a 9-cup Cuisinart food processor. Looking forward to making some soup and hummus this weekend to break it in!!


I feel like I've been having kitchen-withdrawal. Between being at my parents' house, and now being in the middle of the move, I've only been doing minimal cooking.

So, while I've been missing my kitchen things, I put together my list of my favorite kitchen things that I'm most looking forward to using when I finally get all set up! (which sounds like it may be Monday)

Tools I Love:
* short wood handled spreader
* hand held strainer
* bread knife
* pastry brush
* rice cooker
* kitchen scissors

These are all things that I love because I use them often, and use them for a TON of things. The spreader? it's a cheese knife, cupcake froster, mayo spreader, etc. The bread knife? best thing in my kitchen for cutting up pineapple. And while most people think they have no use for a rice cooker - I would counter that. You can make quinoa or couscous, you can steam fish or vegetables, and rice is a REALLY easy thing to prepare. This is my go to wedding gift - because most folks don't think to register for one. I, of course, also tuck my favorite fried rice recipes inside to give it a little personal touch.

Dreaming? of getting back into cooking every day, of course!!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

New kitchen, largely empty

OK, so it may not be the kitchen of my dreams... but I'm more excited about having all of my things to stock the shelves and be able to keep cooking great stuff.

that open space will eventually house the kitchen table, chairs, possibly extra kitchen storage
Weird small counter space. There's no real good home for the microwave, which lives directly to the left of the window against the wall. 
Fridge/freezer/tiny-ass pantry. VERY excited to have a real freezer. I made ice last night without causing undue trauma. My life is already improving.

A Happy New Year's gift from my editor. We drank it last night to toast our new place.