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February 28, 2010 in daring bakers, desserts5 comments

daring bakers: tiramisu!

the whole tiramisu, daring bakers feb. 2010

The February 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Aparna of My Diverse Kitchen and Deeba of Passionate About Baking. They chose Tiramisu as the challenge for the month. Their challenge recipe is based on recipes from The Washington Post, Cordon Bleu at Home and Baking Obsession.

Boy was I excited earlier this month to find that February’s Daring Bakers challenge would be tiramisu. It’s a dessert I’ve always enjoyed in restaurants — that is, when I’ve had room…and who ever has room? Mom and I agree that one day we should order dessert first, and then if we’re still hungry get something after. Who says dessert has to be last, anyway? Read more on daring bakers: tiramisu!…

January 24, 2010 in 24x24, appetizers, desserts, vegan, vegetarian5 comments

We love seaweed, yes we do

This was maybe 1/3 of the sushi we made

We love seaweed, how about you?

People were confused when I told them my aunt Linda and I would be making sushi for January’s 24, 24, 24 event. “Isn’t that raw fish?” they asked, knowing I’m not a huge fan of animal foods. Technically, sushi is rice that’s been specially prepared with vinegar and a little sugar, and topped with or rolled with…something.

nigiri sushi of brown rice with carrot on top, and pickled beet

It could be a shaped piece of rice with a slice of lightly steamed bias-cut carrot on top, tied with a scallion. This is nigiri sushi.

futo maki (big roll) of brown rice sushi with crab, scallion, tamago, and cucumber

It could be a fat roll of rice bound in nori (seaweed) and filled with imitation crab strips, tamago (japanese omelet), scallion, and cucumber. This is futo maki.

inside-out brown rice sushi with avocado, imitation crab, and pickled beets

It could be an inside out roll, with the rice outside the seaweed, all enveloping imitation crab, avocado, and pickled beets. This is uramaki. But everyone calls it inside out roll. ;-)

sweet nigiri sushi with kiwi and candied ginger

It could even be dessert.

Other forms of sushi include battleship roll (gunkan), which we didn’t make, temaki, which we didn’t make, and hosomaki, or thin rolls, which we did make, but I didn’t get any closeups of. Thin rolls use half a sheet of nori and are filled with only one or two ingredients besides the sushi rice.

what’s in this post, and what isn’t

Read more on We love seaweed, yes we do…

daring bakers: halloween boo-burgers

halloween boo-burgers! that doesn't sound too much like boogers, does it?

okay, fine, “macarons”

Well, en français they’re called macarons. Silly Frenchies. Macarons were October’s Daring Bakers Challenge. I filled them with lime-colored peppermint buttercream, and decided they looked like little hamburgers, and since it’s that time of the year, they’re now officially Halloween Boo-Burgers. Yay!

The 2009 October Daring Bakers’ challenge was brought to us by The Last Course: The Desserts of Gramercy Tavern as the challenge recipe.

I must be a real hick, because I’ve participated in Daring Bakers challenges two months now, and I’d never heard of either month’s baked good. Vols-au-vent? Macarons? Double-you-tee-eff, mate?

Turns out macarons aren’t those coconut cookie things. They’re simple-looking cookies made of almond flour and powdered sugar folded into egg whites that have been beaten into a meringue and slightly sweetened with granulated sugar. As a result, they’re kind of nutty and kind of sweet, but not overly so. A perfect macaron will have a thin crunchy outside, chewy inside, and crunchy “feet” at the base.

so close...must eat...

It’s quite easy to become obsessed with achieving the perfect feet.

macarons, first try

Word among the Daring Bakers was that this particular macaron recipe was a bit finicky. My first attempt, plain macarons, came out pretty well…. Read more on daring bakers: halloween boo-burgers…

September 21, 2009 in breakfast / brunch, how to, vegetarian7 comments

easy one-egg omelet

here omelet omelet

Neat, this made Foodie Views of the day! They gave me a pretty button to go with it:

Routine is a good thing. I lost 60 pounds eating the same thing for breakfast every morning, and anecdotally people suggest that eating the same thing for breakfast and lunch, and mixing it up for supper is good too. Some crazy theory that not having to think about what you’re going to eat makes it easier to keep track.

But you’re still fat! you say, glancing at that picture over to your left.

So? A little is better than nothing at all. And I’ll do it again. So there. Everyone who’s done a marathon here raise your hand.

*raises*

I love that comeback. All the training and suffering was worth it. Just to be able to say that for the rest of my life. Any time, for any reason. :D

My routine breakfast used to be Shredded Wheat and Bran, soymilk, sliced banana, and orange juice. After a year or two of this I still wasn’t bored with it.

But then the damn blood center began dissing me when I went to donate.

Your iron’s too low to donate.

*month passes*

Your iron’s too low to donate.

*month passes*

Your iron’s too low to donate.

*tear out hair*

Apparently some people (Michigan Community Blood Center, I’m looking at you) seem to think a hemocrit of 37, 36, or 35 is too low to be allowed to give blood. Hmph.

I tried small measures: more beans, some more leafies. Didn’t help. So I turned to the most iron-fortified food on the planet, or at the very least, in my cupboard: Malt-O-Meal, fortified with 60% of the RDA for iron, guaranteed to give you Popeye arms.

And, I actually like it. I don’t know why everyone makes that sour face. Malt-O-Meal is awesome.

But it introduced a problem. A serving of Malt-O-Meal does not a breakfast make, at least not one that’s going to stick with you more than half an hour. I couldn’t have cereal with it, because I had this inkling that that would be stupid.

eggs laid by easter egg chickens! i kid you not

Where to get protein? Oh! An egg! I have all sorts of pretty-colored eggs, thanks to friends who raise chickens that lay Easter eggs. Not kidding. It’s some special variety.

So I got out my little sauté pan and made up a one-egg omelet. All by myself. And it was good. And it made it into the new breakfast routine. I seriously think the green onion makes it. I wouldn’t want it without. The green onion is cooked with the egg. Then I dice up one of the smaller Stupice tomatoes and add other ingredients if they sound good.

As for insides, try:

• tomato
• green pepper
• crumbled bacon
• cheese, even feta
• shredded zucchini

In five minutes, you too can have a little showpiece omelet. Read more on easy one-egg omelet…

german chocolate cake with coconut-pecan frosting

a wee slice of German chocolate cake

Today is Mom’s birthday. Go Mom! I won’t tell you which birthday it is, since she’s a tad shy about that. I’m just gonna say she had me when she was very very young. Nearly criminally young. Not that she’s a criminal. I don’t think.

Got anything to confess, Mom?

Grandma used to make this, her favorite cake, for her on her birthday. Which was pretty nice of her considering she wasn’t her mom, but her mother-in-law.

german chocolate cake

Naturally I assumed it was some secret family recipe, scrawled in chickenscratch cursive on a spattered and yellowed recipe card. Lovingly tucked into a battered tin box. Like something in a soft-focus “Mom, what do you do on those not so fresh days?” commercial.

I asked Mom the other day where to find the recipe.

“It’s on the back of the Baker’s Sweet Chocolate box,” she said.

Oh. Okay, then.

the cake is a lie

It’s not handed down from German immigrants. It’s named after the guy who owned the Baker’s chocolate company. His last name was German. No, it wasn’t German. It was German. As in Bob German. Or Phil German.

I know. It’s confusing. Have some cake; you’ll feel better. And for gods’ sake, whatever you do, do not read the nutrition information at the bottom of the recipe. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

egg whites: soft peaks v. stiff peaks

And the recipe was invented by a homemaker in 1957 and published in a Dallas newspaper. The rest, as they say, is history.

I’m going to keep calling it “German chocolate cake” though. It just makes life easier.

the cake is real. ta da.

Ta da. German chocolate cake

It turned out really well. I used pecans Aunt Geri sent as packing material in the gift box a couple Christmases back. Pretty handy having relatives with pecan trees.

Mom and Sis said it was as good as Grandma made it. It’s a pretty sweet cake, not in the cool sense but in the omg diabetic coma sense. I made it as written, because for some reason my white whole wheat flour, which is my go-to flour for quick substitution, tastes stale. I think it came that way, because I got it into the freezer the moment I brought it home.

So what we have here is a very moist cake made with 4 ounces of sweet German chocolate. It’s a bit labor intensive what with the beating of the egg whites and stuff, but that’s what keeps it light as well. It’s not dense-feeling at all.

buttermilk, pecans, and flour/soda/salt

The frosting is sheer decadence. Four egg yolks, butter, sugar, evaporated milk, sweetened coconut, and chopped toasted pecans. I mean shit, this cake has everything.

Look. You don’t frost the sides. You’re not supposed to frost the sides on this cake. Trust me. You’ve had enough sugar already. I don’t need you bouncing off the walls even more. Read more on german chocolate cake with coconut-pecan frosting…

August 4, 2009 in desserts, PIE4 comments

currant chiffon pie

currant chiffon pie

Oh man. You have to try this. Currant chiffon pie. If you don’t have currants, sub another juice like lemon, orange, or grape or raspberry or…anything. Just make this pie, once in your life. It’s creamy, fluffy, melty, and tart, the perfect foil for a flaky pastry crust or graham cracker crust.

Seriously. Dude. Eat this pie and die happy.

currant chiffon pie, in the pan

This pie will drive you to eat when you’re not hungry. One slice is good, two better, three divine. Consume only in public or with other safeguards nearby.

reverse engineering a mid-twentieth century recipe

Grandma (Dad’s mom) used to make this currant pie, in a convenience-food version using lemon Jell-O and Dream Whip. I wanted to recreate it using less-processed foods, and it was a bit of a challenge at first.

First, we always called it currant cream pie.

Reseaching cream pies on the internet taught me three things:

1. Always turn on SafeSearch when googling phrases like “cream pie.” I cannot emphasize this enough.

2. It wasn’t a cream pie. It was a chiffon pie.

currant-gelatin mixture, ready for the fridge

3. No currant juice-specific pie recipes exist anywhere on the intertubes. They all used whole berries. Which didn’t make sense to me, as currants have nasty raspberry-like seeds. And you know what I think of those.

I turned to a cookbook I always seem to forget about: the Good Housekeeping Illustrated Cookbook. It’s not trendy, vegetarian, whole grain, or frou frou, so it languishes on the shelf. What it does have, however, is basic recipes for everything, in spades. And it had a few chiffon pie recipes. The ones closest to my needs were a lemon chiffon pie and an orange chiffon pie.

The first currant chiffon pie. It looks much like the second one, except the second didn't last long enough to get a whole-pie pic

Currants are not as tart as lemons, nor as sweet as orange juice, so I had to play with the sugar amounts a bit. The recipes also differed in that one called for 4 eggs, one for 3. So I did a trial run, with 4 eggs and a cup of sugar. It filled a 10-inch pie plate to the brim, but was a bit sweet and a bit eggy.

So I tried again, with the result here, using 3 eggs and 3/4 cup sugar. Dad and I agreed you could cut another 1/8 to 1/4 cup of sugar for more tartness.

on the bright side, you’ll master beating egg whites and whipping cream

The dry ingredients for currant chiffon pie.

Chiffon pies rely on gelatin for stability…

Beaten egg whites for the currant chiffon pie, ready to be folded in

Whipped cream for currant chiffon pie, ready to be folded into the currant-gelatin-egg whites mixture

…and most add some Look! The egg whites are folded in!

In this recipe you’ll do all those, plus Read more on currant chiffon pie…

July 11, 2009 in main course, vegetarian2 comments

green fried rice

green fried rice

Hey, look, another super simple recipe that is super yummy.

I know. Fried rice is intended as a leftover-user. Day-old rice? Make fried rice with it! Unfortunately for the rice, fried rice is so good on its own that it gets made a lot on purpose here and never makes it to day-old status.

In fact, I make it so much it seems I’ve begun doing that thing where you tweak. I’d heard of this, where people don’t follow recipes directly and instead, like, change them. How odd.

What finally made this tweak awesome was green onions and sesame oil. Oh, hay (sorry, got horses on the brain), there are green bunching onions in the garden! Look:

green onions growing in the garden

The green in this fried rice is the green onion, peas, and broccoli. I always use frozen for the peas and broccoli, though I’m sure fresh would be delicious. Fried rice just doesn’t seem the place to be putting garden fresh peas and broccoli, though, you know what I mean? Fresh broccoli is meant for raw crunching, or light steaming, or broccoli salad. Fresh peas are meant for chomping right out of the pod, or quick cooking with a teeny bit of butter melted in at the end, and maybe some chives. But frozen? Go to town in the grocery’s freezer section. Inexpensive and more nutritious than in the produce department and will keep forever. Well, forever-ish.

umami — what?

The green onions added that umami the fried rice was needing. And I figured out a while back that fried rice must have sesame oil in it. If you don’t drizzle some sesame oil into the mix, it’s going to taste bland, no matter what you do.

And apparently, technically green onions don’t have umami flavor. I don’t care. I’m proclaiming umami to be a generic term for “makes it taste awesomer.”

the fried rice trick

I don’t know the right way to make fried rice. I’m sure there’s some proper method that I’m too lazy to discover.

So here’s the trick I developed: Read more on green fried rice…