Wednesday, June 23, 2010

new blog

I am no longer cooking for one anymore, so I have stared a new blog:

RIPE PLATES

Hope to see you there!

Katie

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Almond-butter honey sandwich


I have had some requests for sandwiches, so here it goes.
This sandwich is delicious, but you have to make the almond butter first. It's worth it. You can use the almond butter for all sorts of things other than this sandwich. Basically use it in place of peanut butter... almond butter and jelly, almond butter and banana, almond butter satay sauce, etc...

Anyway, here is how it goes:

Challah bread, 2 slices
Clover honey (that's just good old honey, like the kind that sometimes comes in a bear squeeze bottle), approximately 1-2 teaspoons
1 Granny Smith apple cut into 1/4 inch wedges
Almond butter, enough to spread on one side of the bread

I like to put the almond butter on one side, stick the apples to it, and then drizzle honey on the other side. Yum!

Also, I love this challah recipe and use it all the time. You can also buy your challah at the bakery, if you are not inclined to make your own.

Also, based on my limited knowledge of nutrition, I think it's a complete protein, with the wheat and the almonds.

You will probably only use about 1/2 of the apple... but you can always eat the other half, or make a second sandwich :) Bread freezes beautifully, as long as you tightly seal it in a freezer bag. And honey lasts almost forever. Just never ever refrigerate honey! As you'll see from the almond butter recipe, it is something that you can make as much or as little of as you want.

some pictures of things I've been cooking lately

I visited my parents for the holidays and spent almost every minute baking a LOT of food (definitely not single servings...), with some cooking here and there. Here are some pictures, including my graduation cakes, which I baked myself. It was kind of awkward writing "Congratulations Katie" to myself.

Eclairs
I made a ton of eclairs using Julia Child's recipe for crème patisserie and Alton Brown's recipe for pâte à choux.


 
Graduation Cake
Yup, I made it myself (two different yet similar cakes for separate celebrations). I used my own recipe for a chocolate cream cheese frosting, and I used Alton Brown's recipe for gold cake. I also put a layer of chocolate ganache in the center. I bought a digital scale, which made the cake absolutely perfect.



Bacon-wrapped Dates
With a pepper cream sauce.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

dulce de leche


Apologies about not posting anything recenltly! I just turned in my first draft of my senior thesis last week, and I've been trying to find a full time job for after I graduate.

Anyway, this is not my recipe, but I just wanted to recommend Alton Brown's recipe for Dulce de Leche. I've been putting this in everything--I even tried it in my tea and it was delicious! Try it with some Earl Grey and a little cream.

Anyway, here is a link to his recipe

It takes forever to cook, BUT it's ridiculously effortless and only contains 3 essential ingredients, all of which you almost definitely have (the vanilla is not totally necessary). And it keeps for a long long time, so even people like me who live alone can make a half or a whole batch and get through it (I've tried making a half batch and the recipe splits in half well).

So here are some suggestions for using it:

Mix it together with some cream cheese (use a mixer, a whisk, or just a fork) to make dulce de leche cream cheese. You can adjust the amount of dulce de leche you put in to your own preference, there's really no set amount. Just a hint though... there should be more cream cheese than dulce de leche (hence dulce de leche cream cheese and not cream cheesy dulce de leche). You could probably use this to frost a cake, it's so good. Although I've never tried to. This Thanksgiving, I'm planning on making a carrot cake, but with pumpkin (so I guess a pumpkin cake?) and then I'm going to make the cream cheese frosting with dulce de leche substituted for sugar. It is going to be good.

Mix a little in with plain yogurt and add some toasted chopped pecans.

When I lived in Chicago, there was a Cuban sandwich shop right by where I worked that sold tres leches cake with a layer of Dulce de Leche. They used the d.d.l. kind of like a baker would use ganache.

Dip apples in it. Or really anything else you might use honey for...

Peanut/almond/whatevernut butter & dulce de leche. Instead of PB&J.

Put it on your french toast instead of maple syrup. Just be sure to heat it up first if it's not pourable straight from the fridge. I just leave the jar in some hot, not boiling, water for a few minutes until it's heated.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Corn bread in a mug... and a failed attempt at single serving chili (but with a solution!)


So this was supposed to be a two part post--corn bread and chili. But alas... chili is just not something you can make for one person. Believe me, I tried. The results were really just... unspeakable. So that's not my chili picture, unfortunately.

So here's the solution. Buy some tupperware containers, the size that would fit a single serving of soup (or two servings, or so). Make a big batch of your favorite chili recipe. There are tons online, some of which involve like 50 ingredients, which I think is really impressive, and many of which are vegan/vegetarian! Let the chili cool down so it's not scalding hot (don't just let it sit around forever though... gross!), and ladle it into your tupperware containers. Freeze these and thaw them whenever you need your chili fix. I'm not sure how long frozen food lasts like that, but I've heard 6 months is safe. Hopefully someone can corroborate that.

Okay, so cornbread. This is more like two servings, so you might need to use two mugs, depending on their size, but you can always leave one around for a snack the next day. You can use one giant cappuccino mug, or two coffee mugs, or few tiny little espresso mugs. Just make sure it's oven proof!

Preheat your toaster oven (or I suppose you could use a regular oven for this...) to 375 F.

Mix together 1/4 cup flour, 1/4 cup yellow corn meal, 2.5-3 tablespoons sugar (depending on how you like it... I always do 3), 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1 teaspoon baking powder. If you want, you can mix in 1/4 - 1/2 of a finely chopped jalapeño, depending on your spiciness taste. You can also mix in a small handful of shredded sarp cheddar (or sprinkle it on top during the last 10 minutes of cooking).

To this, add 1 egg white, 1/4 cup milk, 4 teaspoons vegetable oil (canola oil, peanut oil, whatever). Mix it together just until it comes together.

Pour this into the greased mug. Bake in the oven for about 30 minutes, if you are using one big mug. If you're using little mugs, it will take less time. Just check on it every so often, by inserting a skewer or knife into the center to see if it's still gooey. (hah, you can see the knife mark on mine).

Let it cool in the mug for like 5-10 minutes once it comes out of the oven, then invert it onto a plate to get it out of the mug and let it cool. Or you could let it cool in the mug and eat it straight from the mug (although it won't be as nice and crispy!)

Sweet Potato Latkes

When cooking alone, you need to learn how to cook without measuring. There is just too much that could go wrong when cooking in such small batches, so precise measurements don't work sometimes. So hopefully this recipe will show you what to look for when making potato pancakes, which is more important than knowing how much to add.

Ingredients:
1 medium/small sweet potato
1 egg or 1 egg white
some bread crumbs (you may or may not need this)
salt, to taste
butter, to coat the pan

Grate one sweet potato. Mix the grated potato with one egg white and the salt. If the mixture seems to hold together and if the consistency looks like a sort of loose hamburger mixture (terrible description, but I couldn't think of a better one!), then you are good to go. Basically, you want every piece of sweet potato coated in the egg white, kind of like you're putting a modest amount of dressing on a salad. If you want to add some extra richness or if you don't think the white will be enough, go ahead and add the yolk. So now you know what to do if the mixture is too dry, but what if it is too wet? In this case, you would want to sprinkle in some of the breadcrumbs to bind things up.

I know it's nontraditional, but these are so good pan fried in butter instead of oil. Thy're nontraditional already, so why stop at just using sweet potatoes. Let the butter melt over medium heat in a saute pan, or frying pan, or whatever you have that has shallow sides. Spoon out about 1/3 to 1/2 of the potato mixture and sort of ... mash it into a pancake with the back of a spoon (it makes like 2-3 pancakes... I always eat them all). Make sure it is sticking together by gently nudging things together (sort of pat the sides with the back of your spoon to make sure that the edges don't just have random pieces that will fall off). If you do everyething right, flipping should be easy. You can either flip it in the air, a la Julia Child, or use a spatula. So you cook these over medium heat for about 3 minutes on each side (make sure they aren't too thick or they will take forever to cook!). At the end, I like to boost the heat to medium high and let them brown on both sides.

Some suggestions for more deliciousness:
  • Try grating in some fresh ginger root! Maybe add a little brown sugar if you'd like. Dessert?
  • Or you could grate in some onion and garlic. You don't see sweet potatoes with onions and garlic enough... it's always those damn marshmallows!
  • I guess you can add marshmallows if you want, but I wouldn't personally condone such a thing.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

super easy (any)nut butter

Problems: I can't eat peanuts. Cashew butter/almond butter/etc is ridiculously expensive.
Solution: I can make my own.

This is so easy. I am not even going to give any measurements because it really has more to do with knowing what to look for (as with all cooking, I guess). As long as you know what crunchy peanut butter looks like, you've got all you need to know. Because there are no measurements, you can make as much as you want without screwing anything up, which is why I am including this as a recipe for people who live alone. You can make a tiny batch for yourself, or you can make bigger batches if you'd like.

You'll need either a food processor or a blender. As I have yet to own my own food processor, I use my blender, which works just fine. It gives a crunchier consistency, but a range of textures can be nice when it comes to almond butter and the like.

IMPORTANT: this needs to be refrigerated.

Ingredients:

Unsalted Almonds, cashews, peanuts, any nut with a high oil content (hmm, I don't know of any nuts that don't have a high oil content...). These three are the only three nuts I've ever tried to use, so I can't guarantee that various others will work, but I can vouch for these. You need to either roast them yourself or buy them roasted. If you buy almonds or peanuts, buy them blanched/skinless. You can easily do this yourself. Please comment if you don't know how to blanch and roast nuts, and I can explain.

Oil: If you have a cold press oil that would go well with whatever nut you are using (hazelnut oil and the like), you can use it. If not, you can use any flavorless oil, like canola oil, or vegetable oil.

Honey (whatever kind you want, and however much you want to your own taste. this is sort of just to add a little sweetness. Don't go overboard or it will taste like peanut butter pie filling. Gross. Good rule of thumb: imagine the rest of the ingredients are tea and that you are adding honey to your tea. That's about the ratio you want of honey to the rest of the ingredients)

A little bit of salt, just to season it.

Directions:

Measure out how many nuts you want to use (keep in mind that this will be about how much butter you will end up with, since the nuts are the bulk of the ingredients). Put them in your appliance (processor or blender), and pulse until they are ground up and kind of look like sand (or sand and really tiny pebbles, if you're using a blender... especially if your blender doesn't work well). Add the honey and salt and blend. Now, add a little oil at a time while blending (try going teaspoon by teaspoon if you don't drizzle it in a constant stream) until it comes together into the correct consistency. I usually do this by pouring it slowly into that hole in the blender/food processor lid while it's running. It should be spreadable, probably a little more spreadable than you want it, since it will harden in the refrigerator. Keep an eye on it while you're adding the oil so you know when to stop.

This is pretty fool-proof, as long as you go slowly and as long as you know what crunchy peanut butter is supposed to look like. You just stop adding oil once it looks like crunchy peanut butter. You can't really easily undo adding too much oil, but as long as you go slowly, you can get it to the perfect consistency without having to worry about measurements.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Tofu "Steaks" + tofu storage


The tofu:
1/2 brick of extra firm tofu, cut into two "steaks," and purged of moisture.

The marinade:
The juice from 1 lemon
about an equal part extra virgin olive oil (equal to the lemon)
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard, to your own taste, but you need to use some
optional: a few threads of saffron
a pinch of salt and a few grinds of pepper

Purge your tofu, by following these directions, which I am borrowing from Alton Brown: "Place the slices on paper towels and fold the towels over in both directions to cover the tofu. Place a baking sheet on top of the tofu and weigh it down with a 28-ounce can of tomatoes for 1 hour." (you can use a plate and a smaller can instead of a baking sheet and a huge can of tomatoes)

Whisk together the lemon, mustard, saffron, salt, and pepper until incorporated. Drizzle in the olive oil, like you're making a salad dressing. The mustard will hold everything together so the oil and liquid won't separate while in the refrigerator. Once everything comes together, put the tofu in a sealable plastic bag or tupperware container and pour the marinade over the tofu. Seal it, and let it rest in the refrigerator for at LEAST 2 hours.

As time goes by, the harsh lemon flavor will mellow. If you cook it right away, even if you cook it after 2 hours, it will probably be really sour and taste like Pine Sol. So the longer you wait, the better (don't go crazy with the waiting though--tofu does go bad! Overnight is the perfect amount of time).

Cooking them: just cook them over medium high heat in a skillet. You can get away with not using oil because there will be some on the surface of the tofu, but I usually add some more olive oil. Cook them until the tofu is heated through and the sides are golden brown. Garnish with some cilantro, for some extra freshness (and color).

A tip on tofu storage:

Most people recommend that you store any unused tofu in a tupperware container submerged in some cold water in the refrigerator. Works for me. Just make sure you change the water every day.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Turkey Burgers


These, too, are very easy to make. The nice thing is that you can make about 4 at once and then freeze the other three for another day.

1.2 (or so) lbs of ground turkey (7% fat content)
1 heaping tablespoon chopped parsley
1/4 of 1 chopped onion
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper

It's important that you don't buy the ultra lean 99% fat free ground turkey. I know it may be a bit healthier, so if you need to, you can get away with it (you can especially get away with it if you're not freezing your burgers). But freezing tends to dry out meat, and fat makes meat taste less dry, so you're better off using the 93/7 kind rather than the 99/1 kind.

Mix together the ingredients with your hands. If you don't like the raw crunch of undercooked onions, you'll want to sweat them over low heat until they become translucent and soften, let them cool a bit, and then add them to the mixture.

Once ingredients are evenly incorporated, divide the mixture into 4 equal parts. Shape each piece into a patty. And now, directions on cooking, directions on freezing, and directions on thawing:

To Cook:
If you are ready to cook one right away, pour a little olive oil in a saute pan (enough to coat), bring to medium heat, and cook the burger on both sides until it is done. I cannot possibly assign a time value to this because it all depends on the thickness of your burgers, the heat of your stove, etc. But I think most people have a sense of how to tell. You can also grill them.

Do not press down on the burger during cooking. Do not flip more than once.

I like to serve them on toast with some mayo.

To Freeze:
Individually wrap each of the patties, being careful to not get turkey stuff on the outside of the plastic wrap. You don't want to contaminate all of the other things in your freezer, just in case. I do this by spreading out individual squares of plastic wrap on my kitchen table, placing a burger in the center of each sheet, washing my hands, and then wrapping the burgers up (being careful not to touch the meat). If you have trouble doing this, you can always just individually wrap them and then put them in a big ziplock to keep them separate from everything else. Oh and after you wrap them once, you might want to wrap them with another layer or in some aluminum foil to prevent freezer burn.

After wrapping them, place them in your freezer, but the way you place them is important. You do not want to stack them on top of each other because if you do this they will freeze very slowly, which will dry them out. You will want to place them so that they are on a flat surface (so you don't get frozen burgers that look like hard shell tacos), and so that they are kept separate (to increase surface area). Once they are frozen, you can stack them, throw them in a plastic bag, etc.

To Thaw:
To thaw the burgers, you have a fast option and a slow option:
Slow: place the burger in the refrigerator overnight. By the next day, it should be thawed.
Fast: put the burger in a seal-able plastic bag, get as much of the air out as possible, and place it in a bowl under slowly running COLD water until it thaws. This should take between 1-2 hours, depending. You'll be able to tell if it's thawed by gently bending it.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

suggestion: cutting boards



I had two of these cheap, plastic Ikea cutting boards. They're the flimsy bendable kind. My sink is absolutely tiny, and it's always difficult to clean a huge cutting board. So I cut one of them in half with a pair of scissors, and now I never use the big one anymore. I always use the small ones. I'm never prepping a ton of ingredients, so they're perfect. It's nice to have a big cutting board, because sometimes you'll need it, but it's also nice having small ones. It cuts down on dishes.