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.
breakfast for dinner
Wednesday, October 19, 2005, 06:43 PM - comfort food, dessert, breakfast
We had ochazuke for breakfast. We both have this cough... we've actually been sick since I started blogging. Maybe if I delete it we'll get better, but that might anger the laser monkey. Anyhoo... what with trying to convalesce and all, we got going pretty late. This is by way of saying we started lunch at 5ish and then decided maybe it was dinner. Originally it was just going to be a light lunch because it was close to dinner time, but I guess it was a light dinner. It's too early to tell, maybe it was lunch and we'll eat dinner even later. But we had fake breakfast sausage, egg, and tomato.
edit: no dinner, but we had false pie for desert.
1. cook rice
2. put rice in bowl
3. add furikake---if you don't have any, substitute chopped nori, sesame seeds, salt, and maybe a drizzle of sesame oil.
4. add a couple of sour plums
5. pour tea on top. Today I used genmai cha.
Egg, sausage, and tomato
This is prepared about like you'd expect.
1. cut the fake sausage into patties.
2. fry fake sausage patties in olive oil until they're nicely browned on both sides
3. transfer the patties onto plates
4. break some eggs into the same pan and scramble. Some people think you have to scramble eggs in a seperate container and then pour them into the pan. That's just silly. You can whip them up just fine in the frying pan while they're cooking using the cooking implement of your choice. Then you don't have an extra dish floating around that has had raw egg in it. Since you're doing it in the same pan as the sausage, all the little sticky sausage bits that stuck to the pan will get mixed into the eggs. yum.
5. add the eggs to the plate.
6. cut tomatoes into wedges and put those on the plate
1. break 1 graham cracker into a coffee cup
2. add about 2 tbs of dark chocolate. This can be in the form of a handful of chocolate chips. I used two squares of a trader joes 80% cocomass pound plus bar. So they'd melt better, I cut them up.
3. top with another crumbled graham cracker.
4. pour amaretto over the top. probably a tablespoon or two. Enough for it to soak into the graham crackers.
5. microwave for 15 seconds or so. The cup should feel hot; the chocolate should be melted.
Tuesday, October 11, 2005, 05:37 PM - comfort food, breakfastmenu
For breakfast we had frozen berries with grapenuts, lunch was more cold pizza; and dinner was ochazuke.
frozen berries with grapenuts
Put frozen mixed berries in a bowl. Top with a roughly equal amount of grapenuts. Pour coffee over the top... this sounds like it might be a little weird but trust me; I'm a recent convert myself. Don't drench it in coffee, just put enough coffee on that the grapenuts soak up coffee. There shouldn't be any actual liquid in the bowl. Microwave it a bit so the berries thaw, but this is inessential. Maybe throw on some chocolate chips for good measure.
We are still both under the weather so we thought ochazuke was in order. We also had a bunch of fresh broccolli that we wanted to use up, so this was slightly experimental. We have this pot that is a decent sized pot, and then there are steamer attachments that can fit onto the top without decreasing the capacity of the bottom. We cooked 1 1/2 cups of brown rice with 3 cups of water in the bottom section. To do this, put the stuff in the pot, heat it to boiling, put the lid on, then turn down to simmer. Brown rice (at least this brown rice) takes about 40 minutes to cook. I don't know why; white rice takes 20 minutes. While the rice was cooking, we prepared the broccolli and sliced a bunch of ginger into one of the steamer attachments. We didn't think the broccolli would take 40 minutes, so we waited until the rice had gone 20 minutes then put the steamer attachment on the pot and let it go 20 more minutes.
Then we put rice in a bowl, put broccolli on top, and added a couple of sour plums, furikake, and green tea. It worked out well, but the broccolli was still quite cruncy---we might try starting the broccolli at the same time as the rice if we do it again. The ginger ended up flavoring the rice because the steam hit it and dribbled back down into the rice pan, which was a nice touch. It was yummy, though. It made me feel less sick.
October 9 -- Pizza
Tuesday, October 11, 2005, 05:09 PM - soups, breakfastI've been irresponsible the last couple of days... I didn't forget to eat, but I forgot to update the blog. Here's what I've recovered.
breakfast: fake sausage wrapped in pancakes
pancakes with fake sausage
We used up the last of the leftover pancakes. We wrapped fake sausage in them. It was the kind of fake sausage that comes in a tube and you have to brown it in a frying pan. It's good stuff.
1. Put some water in a pot.
2. add a bunch of onion, carrots, and cellery.
3. if you don't want it to ook forever, you can throw in bullion if you want it to taste like broth sooner.
4. add some spices. We used salt, pepper, oregano, and basil.
5. Cook it until it boils, then turn it down to low and put a lid on and ignore it for half an hour or so.
6. Add frozen fake meatballs and noodles and let cook for about 8 minutes. These were pretty thick noodles; if I were using a thin noodle I might let the meatballs go for a while then add the noodles later.
We both felt sick and didn't want to cook so we ordered tomato broccolli pizza. I've had bad experiences with broccolli on pizza, but this time it worked out well.
Saturday, October 8, 2005, 08:34 PM - breakfastMenu
Today isn't very exciting, foodwise. We had oatmeal for breakfast. Breakfast was at noon, so we skipped lunch and went to a "Japanese" restaurant with some friends for dinner.
Recipes (and other commentary)
I used rolled oats. Steel-cut oats are vastly superior, but I haven't figured out how to get steel-cut oats in Albany. In San Diego you can just go buy the bob's red mill Scottish oats or the McSomethingorother's Irish oats. In Brunswick we could also get some variety of Irish oats that were steel-cut. In Albany you can get oatmeal with all sorts of different labels on the container, but I haven't figured out that there is any difference but the label. No matter what variety of oat it claims to be (even when a brand has 3 different varieties next to each other on the shelf), it's always just plain rolled oats.
But whatever I end up with, I just follow the directions on the package. That's not true; I usually forget to follow the directions, and it's not rocket science so it doesn't matter. Today, by some miracle, I do things in the order specified on the package. It doesn't matter as long as you use more or less the proportions they tell you. Then add cranberries. You have to buy a bunch of cranberries when they sell them around Thanksgiving and Christmas and freeze them so you have a stash to draw from during the rest of the year. Cook the oatmeal and cranberries until the cranberries start to pop and juicy cranberry goodness ooooks out into the oatmeal. Then serve.
I like to put a dusting of brown sugar over the top. It melts from the combination of heat and residual liquid into a crusty sugary coating. It's like a poor man's creme brule, only with oatmeal instead of creme. For some reason this makes me happy. I just like the texture. Don't bother with brown sugar if you're just going to mix it in and not have the nifty texture.
I made the mistake of ordering soba. It was a big disappointment. We went to this restaurant once before, about a year ago, and it was really amazingly yummy. They seem to have modified their menu. I think it might have been Americanized to cater to people who don't really like Japanese food. It used to automatically taste yummy; now they serve bland stuff with a bottle of seasoning on the side just in case you are the sort of person who likes food that tastes like something. Prepackaged stuff on the side is never as good as food that's just made good in the first place. Why, oh why did they change? And they don't have zaru soba anymore. I think it's a bit of a stretch to say they have soba at all. It was mostly flour... the noodles were white with flecks of what might have been buckwheat... they didn't taste like soba, they tasted like flour. So sad...
I'm going to have to learn to make soba. Only I really don't have an appropriate kitchen for it here. Maybe I'll give it a shot sometime, though. Then again, I am visiting San Diego at the end of October and can hitch a ride to chopstiX. Somehow eating bad soba made me very homesick for the real thing. I've always wondered how people could stand living places without 24 hour burrito joints within a reasonable drive from their house. Now I must also wonder how people live without a good noodle house.