Monday, November 21, 2005, 10:26 AM - flatbread, breakfastIt looks like I'm only going to update this when I make something cool. Then again, maybe that will change. I've traveled a lot lately, and there's only so many times that you want to hear about subsisting on nuts, pretzels, and airplane-shaped goldfish crackers. But I made something cool for breakfast a couple of days ago. It was my first attempt at making blintzes. Not really, I've made stuffed crepes of various sorts before, but never the typical blintz that's stuffed with cheese.
1. pancake mix
3. goat cheese
5. flavored liqueur
I made the crepes with pancake mix. It's a product of being in albany. We have the world's smallest kitchen... I'm exagerating; we had an even smaller kitchen in maine, but we still have a small kitchen. No storage space -> baking is impractical because you can't possibly have all the ingredients you want on hand. So I use pancake mix instead of making crepes the normal way, which I'd do in san diego. The pancake mix I use calls for 1 1/3 cup water with 2 cups of mix. I use about 2 cups water to 2 cups mix. This gives me a much runnier dough so I can make a thin crepe instead of a thick pancake. It's also good to let the dough sit a bit after you've mixed it. Pancake batter has much more levening in it than crepe batter. If you let it sit, a lot of air will escape and you'll end up with something more crepe-like. Otherwise the first several will be really fluffy and they won't roll properly.
Cook the dough by pouring a little bit into a pan and swirling the pan around so you get a thin layer over the bottom. Normally I use an 8 inch pan but for some reason the 8 inch pan decided to stick to everything so I used a much larger non-stick 12+ inch pan. It made bigger crepes, but the method was the same. With the 8-inch pan I use ~1/4 when making crepes; the 12 inch pan took about a third of a cup. But usually I just eyeball it.
Anyhoo... once the dough is in the pan, cook it until it shrinks and peels up off the edges a bit and the top looks dry. then flip it and cook the other side. With pancake dough, the shrinking is obvious, there will still be bubbles on the top and they'll pop & dry out when it's done. With crepe batter, you won't get bubbles.
When the crepes are cooked, add about a couple of tablespoons of goat cheese to each crepe. I used cranberry cinnamon goat cheese that came in a pack of different flavored goat cheeses. We'd used all the others up the normal way but the cranberry one scared us. It worked well in the blintz, though. If you don't have goat cheese, you could use qvark. I'm going to try this again with qvark when I get back to san diego; I don't know how to get qvark in Albany.
Roll the crepe like a burritto. If you were clever and got the cheese out of the 'fridge in advance, you probably don't need to do anything else to it. If, like me, you weren't clever, you'll have cold cheese. I put the blintzes back in the frying pan to warm them back up.
Make sauce by putting wild maine blueberries (any berry will do; frozen is fine) in the frying pan with some liqueur. We used irish creme liqueur, but usually when I do this I use some nut liqueur, like amaretto or frangelico, or coffee liqueur. Some people think that cooking with alcohol makes you a lush; the alcohol cooks off, but if you think that cooking with vanilla or almond extract makes you less of a lush, you're welcome to use that instead (mind you, it still has alcohol, but if you have the weird guilt thing going on, you don't have to feel bad about it). Cook it up until the alcohol is cooked away and you have a syrupy sauce with berries in it. With larger berries, I usually crush them up. Blueberries are small enough that we just left them whole.
Top the blintzes with the berry mixture & serve.
Saturday, October 29, 2005, 11:18 PM - soups, comfort food
breakfast: um... breakfast?
dinner: mashed potatoes with gravy and meatballs
1. Search your house from top to bottom in hopes that you have some foodstuffs besides the ones you just bought at the store, because you just aren't in the mood to eat any of that stuff today. I didn't buy much because my car is 3000 miles away so I just bought some staples I was out of due to poor planning in July. Plus I'm going back to Albany in a week so I didn't want to buy anything that could go bad. Just some canned and frozen stuff.
2. Discover a stash of ramen in (surprise, surprise) the little hidden ramen cupboard. Score!
3. Boil water. I boil water in one of those counter-top boiling water pitchers. You could use a stove top, but it's much slower and quite possibly less efficient (more waste heat). I couldn't swear by the heat efficiency, but I can swear by the time efficiency.
4. Scrounge through your freezer for veggies. I found green beans.
5. Microwave the green beans in the bowl you plan on eventually having your ramen in.
6. put the ramen in the bowl. use the block of ramen to put the beans aside so that the beans end up on top of the ramen; this way it's easier to make sure the noodles are properly submerged.
7. add flavor packets. If you know what you're doing and buy the good ramen, there will be several flavor packets. I had 3 flavor packets. Do not decide that fat is bad for you and you're going to skip the fat flavor packet. I've never tried this myself, but I've been warned by several reliable sources that it tastes yucky without the fat packet. And really, it's not that big and your body needs some fat.
8. Pour boiling water over the ramen.
9. Let it sit a while.
Mashed Potatoes with Gravy and Meatballs
1. decide, upon reflection, that you still don't feel like eating anything you bought at the store the other day.
2. poke around looking for cream of mushroom soup.
3. open the can and put it in a saucepan. stir up the soup. You need to add a can of water, but if you stir it first it won't get lump. Once it's smooth, you can add the can of water and it will stay smooth.
4. Remember to turn the stove on at some point. It doesn't really matter when. I turn it to hi because i'm impatient. If it bothers you to risk boiling a cream soup, you might be more patient and use a lower setting. But I've always been too impatient so I use high and turn it down when I remember.
5. Add 6 fake meatballs. Why 6? because the package says 6 is a serving. If you're using different fake meatballs, you might need a different number. My fake meatballs tell me they should be cooked for 8 minutes. It really doesn't matter if you overcook them, but I set a timer just in case, because nothing is worse than having an unexpected frozen chunk in your food from undercooking.
6. Poke around in your freezer for vegies. Ideally, you want brocolli, but no such luck. Add a bunch of green beans. Somehow brocolli is much more comforting than green beans. When I was a little kid, I always wanted brocolli on my birthday. Yeah, maybe I was a freak. It might have been because when my mom made mashed potatoes she let us build landscapes with gravy volcanoes and tree-covered slopes and all that... Let that be a lesson to any parents that might be reading this: if you want your kids to eat their veggies, let them play with their food. It's all about presentation.
7. You might want to stir periodically.
8. Oh yeah, I added a couple of cloves of garlic. I didn't have any real garlic, I had this frozen stuff in cubes that are each supposed to be a clove. I dunno... it seems mighty suspicious, but the store I went to didn't have any other garlic. It's better than that powdered stuff, anyway. Not having a car really cramps my style. If I ever have to do this again, I might risk eviction and sneak out the back of the apartment complex, cutting 2 miles off of the round trip walk to the grocery store.
9. Boil some water in the water-boiling-pitcher.
10. Stick a chunk of butter in a bowl.
11. Pour some instant mashed potato flakes into the bowl. Just eyeball it... make about as much as you think you'd want to eat once they were expanded. And add some salt.
12. Pour some water into the bowl... just enough to make the flakes turn potato-like when you stir them with a fork. I always eyeball these things because following the directions never works. It's always too runny if you follow the directions, so you go back and add more flakes, then you have way more food than you intended. The directions also call for milk, which I don't have on me at the moment. But it tasted fine just using water---good to know for future reference.
13. Spoon the mushroom soup/green bean/fake meatball mixture over the potatoes. The gravy-type stuff made enough for 2 meals (I ate all the meatballs, I'll probably cook up some more and add them to it for another meal some other time).
hectic, hectic, hectic
Saturday, October 29, 2005, 12:15 AM
Thursday, October 27
breakfast: polenta---that was the only breakfasty item in the house. I need to buy more groceries in January.
lunch: Brie and Pesto sandwich from the mandeville coffee cart.
dinner: spaghetti and fake meatballs
Friday, October 28
breakfast: trail mix and melon ice---at least I think it was melon; some variety of fruity ice in a fake plastic martini glass. There was a purple flower in it, but I didn't feel like eating flower so I threw it away.
lunch: leftover spaghetti
dinner: I must have missed that part. too much going on. I thought there'd be food at the concert/event/thing and there wasn't. I had some fizzy water, 2 lame cookies, and some trail mix. I haven't had the trail mix yet, but there's no way in hell I'm cooking anything now, and it's within arms reach and I know I ought to eat something. Hooray for trader joes, even if getting there without a car is a nightmare.
It's all so confusing
Friday, October 28, 2005, 11:32 PMI don't know what I've eaten the last few days. I don't even know what day it is. But I'll try to figure it out and record it for posterity.
Sunday--Tuesday, October 23--25
Nope... it was all so long ago; so far away... lost in the mists of time... there was probably some soup involved, maybe some pizza... If there was pizza, there would have been some cold pizza. There was cold pizza if and only if there was pizza for dinner one night. there could've been some grape nuts with fruit and coffee... There might have been a burritto... I know there were some false pies, but I couldn't tell you which days. There may have been a stir fry that might have involved brocolli, but there might not have.
Wednesday, October 26
breakfast: scrambled eggs on matzos---the moonstrip matzos, not the plain matzos.
lunch: 2 packs of airplane pretzels, 1 pack of mixed airplane snacky things that weren't pretzels, and some chocolate covered almonds.
dinner: an airplane chineese chicken salad with a little fruit salad thing on the side. Not bad. What's even better was that we (you know, me and that complete stranger in the aisle seat) had the only empty seat on the plane in between us, so I could stick my dinner on the middle tray and have more legroom.
Spinach Soup, part 2. This time it's personal.
Saturday, October 22, 2005, 11:23 PM - soups
breakfast: More cold pizza. It's good stuff.
lunch: I can't recover what I ate for lunch. I'm pretty positive I ate something, but I don't know what it was... maybe it will hit me sometime around 4am and I can come back and edit. This is what happens when I eat by myself; the details become sketchy and there's no one to confirm or deny rumors of what I might have eaten. Although I'm feeling a bit peckish; it's entirely possible that I was irresponsible and completely forgot about lunch.
dinner: It was a gloomy, rainy, soup day today. We just made spinnach soup a few days ago, but there was still some spinnach left, so we made it again. I keep wanting to write spinnach. I've become entirely too reliant on those spell checks that underline everything in red. Back in the day, I could spell all by myself.
Spinnach Soup, revisited
1. fill a pot with water and stick 6 eggs in it. Also stick in an egg timer if you have one of those egg-shaped timers that changes color when they're done. Why 6 eggs? You might want to save some for later; they're good to have around.
2. In another pot, add chopped onions, cellery, and carrot. If you're me, you pulled these all out of your freezer. Add a dollop of bacon fat and sweat the entire mixture for a while.
3. Add a bunch of spinach and stir it around until it wilts down.
4. Add some chopped broccolli stalk (we used the flowery part last night).
5. Add water until it covers everything up.
6. Add 5 calamata olives---remember to take the pit out first. Why? We were trying to figure out what classic combinations went with spinach, and spinach and olive oil is the classic combination. So why not spinach and olives?
7. Add some hazlenut liqueur. Why liqueur? You always want to add some alcohol to soup... it makes it seem more full bodied. The alcohol will cook off. Why hazlenut? It seemed like a good idea at the time.
8. Add salt and coriander.
9. Heat to boiling, then turn the heat to low, put a lid on, and ignore for 30-45 minutes. You might want to check on the eggs at this point; they're probably done.
10. Remove the eggs from the pot and put them on a towel or something. While they're still hot, draw on them with a crayon. Draw smiley faces, or frowney faces, or vampire faces, or faces sticking their tongues out... this is to distinguish the hard boiled eggs from the raw eggs. You can draw on all of them, because it's fun, but you will want 2 eggs for dinner (assuming there are two of you eating dinner). I always try to use up the cracked eggs first. You should draw something distinctive on the cracked eggs. We draw faces with big, beady eyes.
11. Blend with immersion blender. The soup, not the eggs. Then put the soup back on high for a while; I have found lately that it is a little cooler than I like it when it's been ooooking on low heat for a while.
12. Chop up the 2 eggs you set aside for soup. Put the rest in the refrigerator; they're probably cooled off enough by now. Peel the eggs before chopping them. You'd think I wouldn't have to tell you this, but I once asked a friend to chop some garlic and he just took a knife and started slicing it without taking the skin off. Plus, chopping garlic is more fun when you violently whack it with the side of a cleaver. Whacking the eggs with a cleaver is probably a bad idea.
13. Dish the soup into bowls.
14. Put an egg's worth of chopped egg into each bowl. In retrospect, we probably ought to have blended this in, but I really don't know how the white would behave.
15. Put a piece of stale, rye bread on top of each bowl.
16. Put a generous amount of grated cheese on top of the bread... enough that some of it slops over into the soup. We used a the a pre-grated Italian cheese blend and then added chopped some sharp vermont cheedar because there wasn't quite enough grated cheese left. I thought they'd conflict, but they didn't.
17. Microwave so that the cheese melts. I realized after I microwaved them that it's winter and we could have just broiled them without any ill effects, but I'll have to remember that next time.
It was interesting, and not in a bad way. There was a lot going on. I liked it, but I wouldn't serve it for company. PD thinks the hazlenut liqueur added a weird taste, but I didn't notice any weirdness. Then again, I still have this dumb cold and I feel like I have a golf ball stuck in my throat, so maybe my taste buds aren't terribly reliable right now. If you decide to do this, y ou might just use vermouth instead of getting experimental.
Other Spinach Soups:
October 18, 2005