Tuesday, January 24, 2006, 03:40 AM - flatbreadA bunch of friends and I had a group-cook the other day. Everyone should do this. This is cheaper, messier, and more fun than going out to eat... and you know what you're eating. We made corn chips, guacamole, and pizza.
2.5 avacados (the 0.5th one soaking in lemon juice to avoid badness)
1 bunch of chives
salt and pepper
Free the avacado meat from its pits and skins. Mash it up. Add lime juice. Finely chop some chives. Stir them in. Add salt and pepper. Taste. Adjust salt/pepper/lime juice as needed.
a big stack of organic corn tortillas that someone has lying around that will go bad if not used soon.
several cups of oil (preferably peanut, but canola will do)
Heat the oil in a wok or a dutch oven or something like that. The temperature should be in the low-mid 300s. Cut tortillas into wedges. Add several wedges to the oil at a time---not all at once, add them one at a time actually, but add about 6 for each batch or you'll over-cool the oil too quickly. Let them go a few minutes then fish out with a spider. Put them on a cookie cooling rack with paper with something to catch the drips underneath it. Salt to taste. If they come out too chewy, cook the next set longer. You can do this and snack on chips and guacamole while you wait for the pizza to cook.
premade pizza crust from trader joes. yeah, it's a little wimpy, but we didn't plan far enough in advance to make our own pizza dough and we wanted the kind we could throw in the air instead of the kind you pat out.
tofurky italian sausages, sliced
1 can tomato sauce
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1/4 onion, chopped
Heat a saucepan. Add oil, garlic, onion, and spices. Cook for a bit. Add tomato sauce. Cook for a bit then remove from heat.
Take your ball of pizza dough. Pinch it flat and make a little ridge around the edge so the center is thinner. Toss it back and forth in your hands to start stretching it. Then throw it up in the air and spin it. Be responsible here, accidents can happen. Just don't throw it very high. When you feel like it's big enough, put it on a bread peel. Add sauce, then toppings, with the cheese going on last. Transfer to a baking stone in the oven. Cook the way the pizza dough directions tell you to. We made 2 pizzas; the whole wheat crust was 10 minutes, the garlic herb crust was 20 minutes. Go figure. It worked, though. Fun was had by all.
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Friday, January 20, 2006, 10:04 PM - comfort foodMy brother got me a cookbook for Christmas, which I've finally cracked open. It was sufficiently enthraling that I um... didn't cook dinner for a while, despite grandiose visions of making something amazingly cool. So when I realized it was 9pm and that dinner really needed to happen if it was going to happen, I settled on the old standby of spaghetti. Most people go to to much effort when they make spaghetti. This is the lazy way.
3 cloves of garlic, chopped. By the way, you can get it pre-chopped in a can. Usually this is hidden in the vegetable section of the grocery store. It's one of those things that's always in cans underneath the vegetable display that you never look at because it's below eye level and you don't believe there will be anything besides vegetables in the vegetable section.
A bunch of shakes of dried oregano. Probably about a teaspoon, but who knows.
A bunch of shakes of dried basil. About as much as oregano.
Some fennel. Maybe 1/3 of a teaspoon
3 crushed thai chillis. Why thai? Because they're amazingly easy to grow so I have a lifetime supply dried and hanging in my kitchen. I'll probably grow more because they're fun to grow, but I keep toying with the idea of growing something else. But it really doesn't matter what you use, just something to give it a bit of a kick.
3/4 onion, slivered
a bunch of grinds of black pepper
maybe half a teaspoon of salt?
1 can of chopped tomatoes
one serving of spaghetti. That's not 1 bag, but some portion. I think it's an eighth, but who knows
2 glugs of vermouth
Some olive oil. Lets guess 1 tablespoon.
Heat a saucepan. Add olive oil plus all of the spices. Cook it up a bit. I cooked it until some pepper/onion fumes wafted up in my face. You're trying to free up all the fat soluable flavors in the spices and get them into the olive oil. And you're trying to sweat the onions while you're at it.
Add 2 glugs of vermouth to the pan. I do this first because it's going to splatter. You would rather have vermouth splattering than tomato sauce. Trust me. Add the can of chopped tomatoes after it's done splattering. Now put a lid on and let it simmer for a while. This is to disolve all the alcohol soluble flavors as well and let things blend.
Break the noodles in half (or not; usually I don't but I got impatient) and drop them into the sauce. Most people go to the bother of boiling them in seperate pots. This is silly because your pasta just tastes like pasta, as opposed to pasta infused with flavourful sauce. And it means you have to wash another pot. The 2 pot method is for people with lots of time and dishwashers.
Let the noodles ook until they're done. Stir them periodically so they don't stick together. They're done when they're pliable instead of stiff when you pick them out of the pan with a fork. Or, at least, they're done enough. Let them go a while with the lid off to let most of the residual moisture evaporate. I left it a bit saucy, but not too saucy.
Add 2 eggs. Yes, you can add them directly to the pot. Beating eggs seperately is for people with dishwashers. Beat the eggs on top of the noodles then mix them in well. As the eggs cook, they'll give the sauce a frothy texture and a salmoney colour.
This made 1 dinner-sized serving plus one lunch-sized serving. It was really yummy.
Saturday, January 14, 2006, 09:08 PM - flatbread, breakfastThis morning we had buckwheat pancakes for breakfast... or whatever you like to call the meal you eat at 1pm on saturday. They turned out a little texturally wacky. Next time I will use half wheat flour/half buckwheat flour instead of all buckwheat. Somehow I got into the habit of doing all buckwheat when I was trying to figure out if I was allergic to gluten or not. And I'm not so I can use all the wheat I like.
1 cup buckwheat flour
1 tbs brown sugar
1 tbs baking powder
a shake or two of salt
1/2 cup evaporated milk
1/2 of water
Put a pan on the stove at medium heat. Beat an egg. Add everything else. Stir well. Don't stir well if you're using flour + buckwheat because you might overstir things and make the gluten tough. But you don't have to worry about that with buckwheat, you just have to worry about weird texture.
The pan is heated when water drops bounce on the surface instead of sticking and slowly evaporating. Spray it with de-stickifying stuff. Spoon 1/4 cup dollups of batter onto the pan. Let them cook until bubbles form on the surface. After the bubbles have formed, flip them. Continue until you've used up the batter. Butter them if you like. Serve with syrup. This makes enough for two people to have 4 1/2 pancakes.
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Saturday, January 14, 2006, 09:00 PM - soupsWe made carrot soup yesterday. Or maybe it was the day before. Recently, we made carrot soup.
2 smallish bags of carrots
2 brown or yellow onions
Clean and chop the carrots and onions. Try to make them more or less uniform in size (for even cooking purposes) and throw them in a pan. Add a tablespoon or two of butter, maybe 3 TBS of tumeric, about a tsp each of fennel and corriander, several shakes of salt, a few grinds of black pepper, and 4 smooshed up thai chillis. For added pathos, rub your eyes after you smoosh up the chillis. Stir everything for a while on medium heat and sweat them a bit.
If you're incredibly organized (which I'm not) you probably should put the butter in the pan first and cook up the spices in the butter then add the vegetables to that a little later. Then again, if you are extremely organized, you probably went to the grocery store when you ran out of olive oil and didn't have to scrounge around for other forms of fat. The spices will ook into things better if you cook them in the fat for a while first because fat is good at activating flavour.
Add water until it just covers up the veggies. If you have a water boiling pot, you can boil it first and you'll be able to set things to ooking sooner. Add a couple of glugs each of whiskey and lime juice. Let everything simmer for half an hour or so. Then blend everything well with an immersion blender.
This looks like it makes about 5 servings. Serve each serving that wants to get eaten into bowls (let the rest cool enough to refrigerate or freeze). Crack an egg into each bowl and stir it in. Put some cheese on top--we used some obscure medium hard cheese whose name I can't remember. Microwave to melt the cheese/cook the egg. Eat.
Other Carrot Soups:
October 6, 2005
December 19, 2005
Avacado Cheese Sandwiches
Thursday, January 5, 2006, 03:59 PM - sandwichesAfter finishing a cross-country road trip, one gets to really appreciate vegetables. You can take them for granted, sometimes, but gosh they're good after days of fast food chains who, while they might be kind enough to serve veggie burgers, won't give you anything vegetable-like besides a piece of lettuce and a slice of tomato, and diners, where the closest thing you're getting to a vegetable is blueberry pancakes. Not that I mind blueberry pancakes, but sometimes I want a little something more. So yesterday I went to the store. Today, I made avacado cheese sandwiches for lunch.
Usually sandwiches are rushed affairs, but today... oh yeah, they were still rushed. Eating that is, because we had to take the laundry out of the dryer. But I actually put effort into making them yummy because I had good ingredients. Normally I jut rush through and make same-ol'same-ol' sandwiches.
bread. A nice crusty whole-wheat loaf.
cheese. A very old, hard, sharp cheedar.
Avacado. I used 2 little avacados for 3 sandwiches. Normally avacados are really pricey, but if you go to a vegetable stand you can often find bags of little tiny ones that are too small to sell in supermarkets that are really cheap for their mass.
Mustard. The kind that has actual bits of mutard seed in it, as opposed to the bright yellow mayonaise-textured kind.
Salt and Pepper
Cut several slices of bread. Stick half of them in the toaster oven. Cut cheese to cover the other pieces of bread. Cut a green onion into little rings and distribute it between the pieces of bread. Swap the cheesey pieces of bread for the dry pieces of bread from the toaster oven. Spread Mustard on the toasted pieces of bread. Cut open an avacado and slice bits out with a knife and spread them onto the bread. I made a pretty thick layer of avacado. Salt and pepper to taste. Get the toasted cheesey-onioney pieces from the toaster oven and stick them on top of the avacado halves. Voila.