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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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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Blintz Onion Soup
Thursday, December 15, 2005, 08:18 PM - soups, flatbread
Blintz Onion Soup
Blintz onion soup is what you make when you have goat cheese and lots of green onions lying around. Initially, it was going to be onion soup and blintz. But the onion soup was quite strong, so we cut up the blintz and put them in the soup. The cheese melted into the soup and the blintzes acted like noodle/dumping things. It was quite yummy.
Crepe from pancake mix
Now, if you actually have ingredients, you should just go get yourself a real crepe recipe. Or you can just use a pancake recipe and leave out most of the levening and add extra water.
Mix pancakes as directed, only add half again as much liquid. For me, this meant 2 cups pancake mix, 1 1/3 cup water, and another 2/3 cup water. Let it sit until the bubbles dissipate a bit. Pancake mix has more levening than crepes ought to have, so waiting a bit will make them crepe-like instead of pancake like. Of course, if you were actually making pancakes you'd want to cook them right away to make them fluffy. But we're making crepes, not pancakes.
Heat a pan to medium heat. How can you tell if it's medium heat? Your crepes won't be screwed up. You can splash the pan with water and it should bubble and fizzle instead of just drying up quickly. Unless you're lucky, you should just expect your first crepe to be screwed up. Today my first crepe wasn't screwed up, but that's pretty abnormal.
Pour batter into the center of the pan and shift the pan around so the batter spreads to thinly cover the bottom of the pan. I sort of pour it slowly into a widening spiral as I turn the pan to get it to cover evenly. Cook it until the surface dries up and the edges shrink back a lot and start to peel up from the edge of the pan. Then flip it and cook it a bit more. It should be brown on the first side and white with brown spots on the second side.
Set out the cheese before you start making the crepes; it's best at room temperature. Smoosh together a whole bunch of coarsley ground black pepper, some dried onion flakes, some basil, and some goat cheese. Spoon it in a line on a crepe. Roll the crepe like a burrito. Stuff as many crepes as you'd like to eat, then put them all back in the frying pan for a few minutes. It will soften the cheese a bit and brown the crepes a little.
Get some stock out of your fridge. You should have some leftover from thanksgiving. Or just make some broth. Since our stock was condensed, we added some water and vermouth. After it heats up, add a ton of sliced green onion. Let it wilt a bit, then you're done.
Blintz Onion Soup
Spoon the onion soup into bowls. Cut the blintzes into 1.5 cm wide slices and drop the slices into the soup. Eat.
Deconstructed Bangers and Mash
Tuesday, December 6, 2005, 06:38 PM - flatbread, high falutin'
Why deconstructed bangers and mash?
Today I was overcome with that seasonal, irrational desire to make old family recipes. It turns out, all of my old family recipes are norwegian deserts. But I dutifully sat down and compiled a list of things I'd like to make, both old and new. Then I realized that everything on the list was completely sensible, except for hardangar lefse, which requires, among other things 11 cups of flour plus 2 more cups of flour for rolling. Yeah right. It also requires a specialized rolling pin and grill, both of which are currently 3000 miles from here. So I decided to make potato lefse, which is a more savory sort of thing that my family, apparently being sweettooths, didn't go for.
Lefse is a Norwegian flatbread. Hardangar lefse is a very flat, crispy flatbread-- more like chapati than naan or tortillas. It is sprayed with water to make it flexible, then buttered and sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar, and finally folded together and cut into strips, which stay flexible because of the butter. (Sorry about that sentence; I got a little carried away.) Potato lefse, as I understand from my cultural tourism, is a more savory thing that gets rolled up and stuffed with... something. A google image search will return exactly one image (well, two; the same one shows up twice) of potato lefse as it's supposed to be served. It has something rolled up inside it. They never tell you what is rolled up inside it.
So we decided to just make something up. We settled on deconstructed bangers and mash. You get your mash in the form of a soft flatbread, and a plate with fake sausage patties and vegetables.
I found this recipe on some web page or other, but I can't find the web page again. I modified it, anyway, because I didn't like the idea of letting it chill overnight. That just wouldn't meet my instant gratification needs.
3 cups instant mashed potatoes. I used hungry jack instant mashed potatoes because everyone and their mom says that if you use instant mashed potatos in lefse, this is the only brand to use. It could be that all good norwegians own Hungry Jack stock and they want to see a profit. Or there could be something special with their potato flake process. In any case, I don't want to get beaten up by a bunch of old norwegian ladies, so I did what they told me to. Oddly, the recipe I followed the most didn't care, so maybe it doesn't matter. It could be that instant mashed potato technology has advanced since the recipes were carved in stone.
1/4 cup butter. I used unsalted, and I really used butter. Margarine is bad for you; you're better off eating lard than margarine. And butter is solid at higher temperatures, which might be relevant here, since the dough gets really crumbly if it isn't cold enough. Any experimentation is at your own risk.
1 cup evaporated milk. Any old milk would probably do, but we had evap in the cupboard and no milk in the refrigerator.
1 cup flour for the dough, and another cup for rolling.
1 cup water.
Melt the butter. Add the water to the butter. Dump in potato flakes. Work them with a fork until it's smooth. It will take longer than you're used to, because typicall you'd be mixing the flakes with a lot more liquid. Add the milk and 1 cup of flour. Stir together until smooth. I threw it in the fridge for good measure, since everyone said it needed to be cooled overnight. I patted the dough around the edge of the bowl to maximize surface area per volume. I don't think it needed to be cooled; we just needed time to figure out what else we were doing for the meal.
Make 2" diameter balls from the dough. You can do this in advance, but you'll want to roll them and cook them as you go. I found that using a rolling pin was a fiasco. Granted, we have a psycho rolling pin here (It's not even cylindrical!), so maybe a proper rolling pin woud be ok. But I patted it out by hand. I did this by squashing the ball into a disk, flouring the counter, and patting the disc around with my hand, thinning it out. Then I flipped it and repeated the process until it was about 10-11" across. Each time I flipped it, I worked in a bit more flour. If I let it get too thin, it tore, but it wasn't a big deal to just squoosh it back together.
Cook in a frying pan on medium heat. It will get bubbles in it. When it gets bubbly, flip it and cook the other side. It will be brown wherever there were bubbles against the pan, and whiteish everywhere else. You should have worked enough flour into it that it's pretty dry; it shouldn't stick to the pan at all. If it does, for some bizarre reason, add more flour or chill it or something. You should be able to roll one while the previous one cooks.
You might, at some point, decide to break the glass flour container. This might be a good time to decide you've made enough lefse and put the rest of the balls back into the refrigerator for another meal. Avoid getting the glass-infested flour on them. Sweeping the floor would be clever.
Deconstructed Bangers and Mash Recipe
Get someone else to julienne a bunch of carrots. They might add lemon juice, olive oil, onion flakes, salt, and pepper. Let that sit while you roll & cook the lefse. Realize that you're covered with flour and tell that someone else to finish cooking everything while you go outside to brush off. It doesn't matter if it's freezing outside and snow is all over the ground; you don't want that in your house. Besides, if you're brushing it off energetically enough, you won't actually feel cold. If your timing is appropriate, you can probably show up just in time to watch the rest of the work get done.
Someone else might also make patties out of fake sausage while you make the lefse. Lefse is pretty time consuming. When you're done with the lefse and are saving your household from being overwhelmed by flour dust, they can use the pan you made the lefse in to fry up the patties. Then they can fry up the carrots. They might make you slice some tomatos to go on the side, but that's no big deal.
Whenever you deconstruct a dish, presentation is really important. We each had a plate with patties up one side, tomatoes up the other side, and carrot in the middle. The stack of lefse went on another plate in the middle of the table. We just ate the tomatoes straight-up; they were more of a garnish. To eat the rest of it, pick up a lefse, fill it with carrots and sausage pieces, and wrap it up and eat it like fajitas.
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Wednesday, November 30, 2005, 11:33 PM - flatbread, dessertI made gingerbread and cranberry chutney again today. The rest of the day was pretty uneventful---processed foods and pizza. I don't think I've been eating properly. Tomorrow I'll eat something healthy.
1 1/2 cup flour
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup warm water
1/4 cup butter
1 TBS lemon juice
~1 tsp baking soda
~1 tsp baking powder
~1 TBS powdered ginger
~1 TBS cinnamon
~1 tsp allspice
x tsp nutmeg, where 1/8 < x < 1/2
y tsp corriander, where 1/8 < y < 1/3
I payed more attention this time, aren't you proud of me?
People who know what they are doing will mix up the wet ingredients first then add the dry ingredients. However, people who know what they are doing will have to plan ahead and be more organized than you need to be for this recipe; they might even use more dishes. Incidentally, brown sugar counts as a wet ingredient.
Make a pot of tea. Be sure to make more water than fills the teapot. Some of this water, naturally, you'll want to use to preheat the teapot. But measure off half a cup and dump the butter into it. (Um... that would be the measured off portion, not the bit that you're going to drink.) The butter will melt nicely and you won't have to worry about mucking around with a microwave, or worse, planning ahead enough to leave it out to soften ahead of time.
Pour the lemon juice into the dry ingredients. It's important to do this first because it's exciting... remember the vinegar/baking soda volcanos? Less impressive, but lemon juice still bubbles a little when it hooks up with the baking soda. Now add the water and butter and stir it up. You could do it all at once, but you'd miss some excitement. Don't wait too long, though, because you want the bubbles to be inside the dough, not used up while you were watching them fizz.
Mix the dough up and stick it on a floured baking sheet. Smoosh it out so it's pretty flat. It should be maybe 1/4" thick. It will rise a reasonable amount; I think mine doubled in thickness, maybe a little more.
Bake for ~10 minutes at ~350 degrees F. I started mine with the knob turned to 250, which was really 350. I thought I'd appropriately compensated at the time, but no. I didn't realize quite how psychotic this oven is because I don't use it enough. Did I mention that you shouldn't trust your oven and should get a supplemental oven-safe thermometer so you know what's really going on? When I checked on it after about 7 minutes, the gingerbread was mostly done, but the oven had decided that it should actually be 450. It wasn't quite done so I left it another 2 minutes with the oven turned off, so maybe it cooled down to the 350 range by the end, but who knows? In short, the cooking time/temperature is pretty flexible. In any case, you can tell if it's done by pushing down in the middle with your finger. If it's done, it will spring back up. If it's not done, it will make a dent.
Top with cranberry chutney.