Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Where’s the cheese?

February 11, 2009


I just “Wordle-d” our esteemed blog on a whim. As much as I like a nice cast iron pan, it seems like we could use a few more posts about cheese, cookies, bacon and gravy, am I right? Perhaps this could inspire a few posts of our favorite things that are not on the list or have a poor showing?



School lunch nostalgia

January 26, 2009

Mmmmm chocolate cake

Mmmmm chocolate cake

When I was a kid back in the Hendricks county public school system, there were two school lunch items I loved absolutely: pizza, which were these rectangular crusts covered edge to edge with tiny cubes of pepperoni, a sweet and salty tomato sauce, and gooey mozzarella cheese, and wacky cake.   Wacky cake was a chocolate square, not too dense, definitely not brownie-like, dusted with powdered sugar.  I remember the top crust having a special texture, unctuous but not slimy, more like batter but baked through.  I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately.

I got the new issue of Cook’s Illustrated yesterday in the mail (thanks Mom!) and there, 2/3rds of the way through, was a recipe for Emergency cake – a cake for when you are short on time or ingredients, developed during the war years.  This one called for mayo instead of butter or oil, which I didn’t have on hand (no neutral oil in the house either, so I wasn’t going to whip any up), so I substituted a bit of butter and an extra egg.  It also called for a cup of hot coffee, which I’m sure would add to the flavor profile.  But the only coffee I have in the house are the hand roasted beans gifted to me by a friend at the new year, and those are my special occasional treat.  So I used hot water instead.   It made a nice, deeply chocolate cake, moist and what I think of more as a cake brownie.  Not wacky cake, but delicious all the same.

1 1/2 cups flour

1 cup granulated sugar

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp kosher salt

1/2 cup cocoa (dutch process preferred)

2 oz bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped or chips or morsels (opt.)

2 Tbsp butter

1 cup boiling water

2 tsp single fold vanilla (or 1 1/2 tsp double fold)

2 eggs

Heat the oven to 350 deg F.  Butter an 8 or 9 inch square baking pan.

Mix the first 4 dry ingredients well in a large bowl.  Put the cocoa, chocolate, and butter into a second large bowl, pour in the boiling water and stir well until the chocolate and butter have melted.  Add the vanilla to the chocolate mixture.  Whisk the eggs into the chocolate mixture.  Pour the chocolate mixture into the dry ingredients and stir until well blended.  Spoon the batter into the prepared baking pan evenly.  Bake for 25-35 minutes, until the top springs back when lightly touched.  Cool on a rack for 1-2 hours, dust with powdered sugar.  Cut into squares and serve from the pan.

So Into Soup

December 12, 2008

Soups are probably my favorite thing to experiment with in the kitchen. The chances of something going truly, horribly wrong are almost nil, and in the event that the end result is inedible, I’ve probably only wasted about $2 of ingredients. Gotta love something that allows for so much creativity while being so forgiving. Last weekend’s project was inspired by some slightly elderly sweet potatoes that needed using sooner rather than later, and a vague memory of a soup I’d enjoyed years earlier. No photos this time, sorry!

4 large-ish sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 medium onion, chopped
2 fat shallots, chopped
1-2 Tbsp smoked paprika (to taste)
1-2 Tbsp ancho chili powder (to taste)
1 Tbsp Jamaican curry powder
Water or stock
1 veg bouillon cube
1/2 C cream or half ‘n half
Salt/pepper to taste

Saute the onion and shallots in a few glugs of oil until translucent and soft. Add the potatoes and stir, then add the spices and stir to coat. Saute and keep stirring for a few minutes. Pour in water or stock to cover the potatoes, and add the bouillon cube. Bring to a boil, then let simmer until potatoes are thoroughly cooked. When they’re done, whizz the soup with some kind of blender and then stir in the cream.

A medieval goose

November 26, 2008

Over at Quid Plura?, there’s a description of an attempt to recreate a medieval recipe for A goos in hogepotte.

More pi…e

October 30, 2008
Life of Pi, revisited

Life of Pi, revisited

From Bookninja‘s recent competition.


October 21, 2008

We had a couple of pounds of organic, pasture-raised beef and pork to use, a situation that seemed to cry out for meatballs. The recipe we used (from Ciro and Sal’s Cookbook) is pretty simple: meat, breadcrumbs soaked with milk, parsley, minced garlic, raisins (the secret weapon), egg, parmesan, salt, pepper. I served them over some Bionaturae linguine, but they would have been equally good on a bed of sauted greens or with garlic-heavy mashed potatoes and gravy. It’s hard to get away from the classic spaghetti/meatball combo, but I’m going to try next time around. Fortunately, we’ve got about 2 dozen in the freezer to experiment with.

Piracy Funds Terrorism, Vol. 2

April 20, 2008

There came a moment—for me it was a little more than a year ago—when cash-strapped music lovers like myself realized that, even without file-sharing or bit torrent, one could download all the songs on a newly released record if enough bloggers wrote about it. The avalanche of mp3 blogs (coupled with better search engines and aggregators for these things), in addition to ‘legitimate’ media giving away free promotional content, has made it very, very easy to get your hands on most new releases.

As it is for records, strangely, so it is for cookbooks.


Where do dinners come from?

March 18, 2008

Who knows where dinners come from? Your dinner tonight only happened because of two serendipitous events last night—events that, for most people, wouldn’t even register as events.

First, when putting away in the freezer the ice cream you bought (you never buy ice cream; why last night?), you noticed that there was some diced beef and some ‘fresh’ ‘Shanghai’ noodles in there, right next to each other.

Then, later on, flipping through Bittman’s How to Cook Everything for some guidance on proportions for the potato and leek soup you were making, you came across this: (more…)

My Empanadas

March 17, 2008


Slightly improvised empanadas, but empanadas nonetheless. I figured that this would be perfect for the humanely raised, organic ground goat meat from last Saturday’s Greenmarket. I used the recipe for picadillo from David Rosengarten’s It’s All American Food for the filling (ground meat, chorizo, onion, garlic, olives, hardboiled eggs, almonds, raisins, cumin, oregano, cayenne, cinammon, etc etc) and cheated with a premade pizza dough for the wrap. I was a bit worried about the latter aspect, but it turned out very well. Next time I’ll allow myself more time and do a proper dough, but for now I’m pleased with what could be called picadillo calzones.

A kitchen without knives is like … the kitchen I am in. OR: HELP ME MAKE A MEAL FROM NOTHING, WITH NOTHING

March 8, 2008

This week finds me playing naked chef (actually, I am the only entirely-clothed member of my residence, though that is a story for another blog) in Berkeley, California. I have been asked to prepare dinner nightly, for three gay food-timid non-cooking Montrealers who consume only extremely high-end French classical cuisine. They also eat McDonalds, but only if they’re high and it’s after midnight and they can all find their pants.

I am not making this up, unfortunately.

I have been given $20/meal, and told that each meal must feed four, feature meat (no pork, nothing ‘weird or mexican or tacky’) …. and that there shouldn’t be much cleanup (‘cuz we’ll do it … but cleanup is such an omigod pain in the balls’)

The kitchen is ill-equipped non-equipped. There is a 6″ square cutting board, a pair of dull and bendy ikea paring knives, two stainless steel saucepans, a single mixing bowl. I found a spatula, a juice squeezer, and a can-opener in a box upstairs.

My own kitchen, including knives, is in a storage locker somewhere in Southern California. I am in Northern.

As it stands , I have to provide three more meals. There is no pantry. I must, literally, buy every ingredient I need. Prep is difficult because the knives are treacherously dull. Unusable, really. Yesterday I failed to cut an onion, because the knife was too short and dull to clear the hemisphere of the bulb. I mashed garlic underneath a plate and tore bacon with a swiss-army blade. I used McDonalds salt and pepper packets to correct flavor.

And I need help. I need to provide filling, cheap, attractive, and simple-seeming meals to ostensible food-snobs who know not the first things about a kitchen. The last two meals I made were:

Pozole (used canned sweet corn, ground beef, bouillon broth — ick –, three strips of slab bacon, couple of bell peppers, cilantro, jabañero, butter beans, sour cream, corn tortillas: hominy looked too scary for the Montrealites)

Spiced lamb and dried-plum kofte with bergamot-saffron rice pilaf.

I need to make three similar meals with next-to-no ingredients and very little in the way of cutting. Please, please, please offer suggestions.

In the meantime, I’m going to go hide the key to my chastity belt.