Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Quick tomato corn chowder (p. 149)

First things first, I've posted multiple blogs at once today, so make sure to check them all!

Josh and I were hungry and I wanted to make something fast. Quick tomato corn chowder (p. 149) seemed to be perfect--it even had quick in the title!

This was a bizarre (but quick!) recipe.

A can of creamed corn, a can of condensed tomato soup, some milk, sugar, and a little curry powder were mixed together:

Appetizing, right?

It was heated through but not boiled:

And done! Honestly, from start to finish, the recipe probably took five minutes.

It was surprisingly good. It didn't taste homemade but it was pretty good. It would go really well with a grilled cheese sandwich. Josh really liked it. I thought the curry added to the flavor--I might add curry to other corn recipes in the future (it's a good flavor combination). There really wasn't much to say about the recipe.

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Sunday, June 28, 2009

Sauteed fruit (p. 214) and Fried rice (p. 357)

I love pineapple and I particularly love pineapple-upside down cake. That being said, PUDC usually seems like too big of a hassle to make. I was hoping that Sauteed fruit (p. 214) made with pineapple would be similar enough to PUDC for a holdover recipe between cake baking sessions.

A third of a cup of brown sugar and butter were mixed and cooked until golden brown.

The pineapple was then added to the sugar mixture.

And it was cooked for a few minutes. It was sooooo good! The sugar was gooey and the pineapple was crisp and slightly softened. It tasted like the delicious top of a pineapple upside-down cake. I couldn't recommend this enough. It was fast, easy, and tasty, plus you can modify for about six other fruits if you don't like pineapple.

I make fried rice fairly often but I've never used a recipe (does anyone use a recipe for fried rice?). I though that Fried rice (p. 357) might be a fast, easy recipe for Sunday lunch. The recipe starts with whisking four eggs together with some salt and frying it up in a skillet:

When it was set, the egg was broke into clumps, and set aside.

About four cups of rice were added to the pan, along with some ginger.

The eggs were mixed in and it was done!

How was it? It's impossible to know because my rice didn't turn out. Now you might be thinking, how can you possibly screw up rice? And, three years ago, I would have totally agreed with you. Rice was absolutely on my impossible-to-screw-up list. Since moving to high altitude I have learned that a lot of things can go terribly wrong with rice. And the rice I used for this recipe wasn't cooked. So the fried rice wasn't very good--I'm sure it would be much, much more tasty with cooked rice (particularly with rice that I didn't have to cook at all, such as leftover rice from Chinese food).

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Pasta and beans (pasta e fagioli) (p. 329) and Garlic soup with eggs (sopa de ajo) (p. 124)

Sometimes while cooking for TJOTJOC I make a dish that is totally new to me or a dish that I've never attempted myself. I am able to totally judge the TJOC version without comparing it to other versions of the dish I've had.

But other times, I stumble upon dishes that are either a favorite of mine or a favorite of a close family member. Pasta and beans (pasta e fagioli) (p. 329) is one of my mother's and my grandfather's favorite dishes. The only place (and I hate saying this--my Italian half is screaming in horror as I type) that has has a equivalently good pasta e fagioli to my grandmother's version is The Olive Garden (yeah, I said it, and I'm not ashamed). These recipes are more difficult because I am always comparing back to all the versions I had in the past.

The other thing I like about pasta e fagioli? Listening to people who have never had the stew/soup try to say the name. We always pronounce it fah-zool. I know it's an unpronounced "g".

The recipe is amazingly easy. Onion, a carrot, a celery rib with the leaves, and some parsley were sauteed in a little olive oil, with a couple garlic cloves. Two cans of Great Northern beans were mixed in (cheap!). The beans were partially mashed and two cups of chicken stock were added. Finally, some elbow macaroni was mixed in and cooked, and some cheese was added.

I realized after I started this dish that my camera battery was totally dead, leading to only one picture. How was it? Pretty good--a really solid, easy recipe. Will it impress your Italian mother-in-law? Probably not. Will it impress your thinks-Chef-Boyardee-is-actually-Italian mother-in-law? Very possibly. And it is one of those extremely cheap (beans, elbow macaroni, cheap vegetables, and homemade chicken stock are all very inexpensive) meals that is really filling. This would be top of my list for anyone who is experiencing money issues.

I also made Garlic soup with eggs (sopa de ajo) (p. 124). Such a promising name! I love garlic. I love soup. What could go wrong? And the recipe started very smoothly. An entire head of garlic cooked in a little olive oil? Perfect!

It's quite a bit of garlic:

Then four slices of bread were toasted in the garlicy/olive oily remains.

Until they got deliciously golden yellow:

A tablespoon of paprika and some cumin seeds were toasted and then added to the garlic, along with chicken stock, and salt and pepper. This mixture was simmered for about twenty minutes.

TJOC says to ladle the soup into ovenproof bowls or crocks--the closest I had were my ramekins, which were way to small for this purpose. I had to use them anyway. An egg was slid into each ramekin and it was baked for three minutes (I used put a cookie sheet under it so that it didn't leak into the oven).

I had two main problems with this soup. The first one?

It was extremely difficult to eat. I didn't have big enough bowls (only ramekins--I needed small crocks), which didn't help.

The second problem? It was so bland! Boring! Very cumin-y but not complext at all.

Has anyone had the real version of this soup? What is it supposed to be like?

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Penuche (p. 876)

I love candy making. I ADORE candy making. I think it's the scientist in me--confections require a precise recipe and following directions to the most minute point, which I enjoy. And I love fudge.

I decided to make Penuche (p. 876). First things first, you pronounce penuche puh-noo-chee and it's a Mexican brown sugar fudge. I haven't made non-quick fudge in a long, long time (quick fudge utilizing marshmallow fluff).

I mixed brown sugar, salt, half and half, and heavy cream over low heat until the sugar dissolved.

The heat was then raised to medium until the temperature reached the soft-ball stage. DON'T STIR! It's so difficult not to stir but it will ruin the texture of the candy.

Butter and vanilla were added without stirring. The pot was then immediately sat in a water bath and allowed to cool to 110 degrees Fahrenheit.

The penuche then had to be stirred. I think this would be fairly easy if I had a marble slab--I would have just poured it out and waited for it to cool and then kneaded it (and, believe it or not, they sell marble slabs at Williams-Sonoma, I'm just waiting to be able to buy it). The penuche was almost impossible to stir. I handed it over to Josh, who had to put some serious effort into stirring.

Coconut and pecans were added in and it was then poured into a buttered pan.

It was delicious! If you hate coconut, stay far, far away from this recipe, but I like coconut (and pecans and fudge and brown sugar) so I loved it! A little goes a really long way, so cut it into tiny squares. I will definitely make it again. Are there any other candy-makers out there?

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Tomato Juice (p. 37) and Chai (p. 34)

I'm still amazingly behind on posts--I think I have about six of them to go. I always promise myself that I won't get so behind again but then, I do. Keep checking back--I leave for a conference this weekend and I would love the blog to be up to date before I leave.

I decided to whip up some quick Tomato Juice (p. 37). This picture is NOT impressive but the finished product was (believe it or not) rather impressive. It looked like normal tomato juice (maybe out of a can) but was so much more fully flavored.

The recipe was simple--tomato juice, lemon juice, grated celery, grated onion, grated horseradish (I used jarred), salt, sugar, paprika, and a dash of Tabasco.

Obviously it needs to be strained before serving. It would be terrific in a Bloody Mary--especially if you used Absolute Pepper (my favorite!). I recommend making your own tomato juice, it's really easy and it tastes better than straight out of a can. TJOC mentions that you can drink it hot or cold but hot tomato juice grosses Josh out so much I couldn't subject him to the sight of me enjoying it.

Chai (p. 34) always reminds me of my friend Emily. Emily adores chai, while it has always reminded me of drinkable pumpkin pie (and that's not a compliment). I'm not sure why I didn't make this recipe during one of Emily's visits, because then I could have had an expert opinion. I was interested in the concept of making it from scratch, although why I chose to do this in the middle of summer is a real mystery. Chai is a cold weather drink, if you ask me.

First, I needed to crush a few cardamom pods. Easier said than done! This would be much easier in a spice grinder (one of the items I hope I get the most off of my wedding registry), it wasn't particularly easy in a morter and pestle.

The crushed pods were combined with water (way more water than I would have expected), milk, sugar, cinnamon sticks, cloves, ginger, and peppercorns (one of these things is not like the others...one of these things doesn't belong...).

I brought it to a boil and then took it off the heat and let it steep for twenty minutes. Two tablespoons of black tea leaves were then added.

Which of course needed to be strained out:

Which was harder than it sounded:

The chai was good, if you like chai. I can't say it was outstanding and I wish I had been able to strain it better. Has anyone made their own chai from scratch before? Did you like it?

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Sunday, June 14, 2009

Carrots vichy (p. 266), Sauteed veal cutlet or scallopine (p. 486), and Sauteed mushrooms (p. 283)

I am proud to say that I actually made a solid, rounded meal with a meat and two vegetables. And every piece was absolutely delicious.

I've been meaning to make Carrots vichy (p. 266) for quite a while. I even meant to make it last Thanksgiving and then got so bogged down by all the other components that it didn't get made. But I wanted to make a vegetable and I always have carrots--it seemed like an obvious recipe to make. It's really strange that there six carrot recipes in the Vegetables chapter and I haven't made a single one, even though I always have carrots on hand.

The recipe was simple. I combined carrots, water, butter, sugar, and salt in a pot.

I brought it to a boil and then cooked it for about twenty minutes.

And it was done. I love recipes where you combine a bunch of ingredients in a pot and wait for it to be done. Easy!

I found some veal scaloppine on sale at the grocery store, so, of course, I snapped it right up. I made Sauteed veal cutlet or scallopine (p. 486). The first step of the recipe was to pound the cutlets but since I bought them already in scaloppine form, I skipped that step. I dredged the cutlets in a little flour and then added some salt and pepper.

TJOC mentioned that they should only take 30-60 seconds a side, cooked in olive oil. REALLY? That's such a short amount of time.

But it was correct. After about thirty seconds, the flour started lighting on fire. Watch the veal VERY CLOSELY or keep a fire extingusher close at hand. Or both.

The recipe mentions that the veal can be topped with Sauteed mushrooms (p. 283), which I thought was an excellent idea. I sliced a pound of mushrooms, and then added them to a hot butter/vegetable oil combination.

I cooked them for about ten minutes, twice the amount of time TJOC recommended, but they finally started to brown and cook down.

Very simple! The entire meal was simple--no more than fifteen minutes or so of active time for everything.

The meal was delicious! The cutlets were tender and flavorful, the mushrooms were tasty, and the carrots hit just the right note of sweetness. Plus I felt healthy! Two vegetables with the protein? We should do this more often!

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Pesto sauce (p. 569), Curry powder III (p. 975), and Flavored nut butters III. Curried macadamia butter (p. 179)

First off, don't forget the contest!

Mom gave me bag of basil when I left Iowa--and I figured that basil would be perfect for Pesto sauce (p. 569). I love pesto but I've never made it...partially because fresh basil at the grocery store is so expensive.

Easy recipe--basil, Parmesan, pine nuts, and garlic cloves went into the tiny food processor. I think I halved the the recipe because I only had a cup of basil (it was still early in the season!).

It smelled absolutely divine at this point. Amazing.

Olive oil was then slowly poured in as the food processor was running (not an easy task, there wasn't a very big hole in the top of food processor).

The original goal? I was going to make TJOC pesto macaroni salad. What actually happened? I binged on the pesto smeared on crackers. And it was amazing. I want more! I can't wait until I go home and mom gives me more basil. Amazing!

I ran out of homemade curry and decided to make another batch--this time Curry powder III (p. 975). Josh and I eat a LOT of curry but I was a little afraid of this recipe. It was complex and looked like it was going to make a huge amount--what if we didn't like it? So I decided to quarter the recipe.

The long list of ingredients? Turmeric, coriander, cumin, ginger, pepper, red pepper flakes, fennel, mustard, poppy seeds, cloves, and mace.

I can't wait until I have a spice grinder. It's one of the items on my wedding registry that I really hope I get. Because I don't have one yet I used pepper instead of peppercorns and the fennel seeds didn't get near ground up enough.

Even so, it looked beautiful.

And it was very good. This curry yielded a much more complex flavor than the Curry powder I. Unfortunately, a quarter of the recipe wasn't very much and I had a strange suspicion that I would be mixing curry again very soon.

I had a big jar of macadamia nuts that I've been meaning to use. And now I had a jar of curry powder...the perfect combination for Flavored nut butters III. Curried macadamia butter (p. 179)! Sounds strange, right?

And it was strange. Six ounces of salted macadamia nuts, a still of cold butter, some honey, and a little curry.

The butter took forever to become "smooth".

How was it? Definitely weird. I was expect more of a peanut butter type feel and taste. This was more like nut-flavored butter not flavored nut-butter. Even so, it's tasty on a bagel. And it's fancy. I think this would be perfect for a breakfast where you are trying to impress people (the in-laws?)--it would be terrific on pancakes or waffles.

How do I get so far behind on posting? No idea. I literally have about twenty more recipes to post, so be sure to check back. And always feel free to comment or send me an email at thejoyofthejoyofcooking (at) hotmail (dot) com.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Brown beef stock (p. 117) and Chicken broth (p. 121)

I am many, many blogs behind, so be sure to keep checking back this week. I posted three blogs today, so make sure you read them all! Make sure to enter the contest.

I stumbled upon a bag of beef bones at the grocery store--5 lbs for about $2.50. Perfect for the Brown beef stock (p. 117) I need as an ingredient to knock one of the items off the randomized list. I was intimidated by the bones--they didn't have almost meat on them.

My mother said it wouldn't matter. I roasted the bones for about fifteen minutes.

At this point I realized that the tiny jelly roll pan I was using wasn't nearly big enough for the vegetables that needed to be added. I transferred the bones to my giant roasting pan, along with onions, carrots, and celery.

Everything was then transferred to a stockpot, where it simmered for another half hour. I then added some bouquet garni, a clove, and a leek to the pot, and simmered it for six hours. Make sure that you have plenty of time if you are going to make this recipe--it takes a long time. I would say that between the roasting and simmering, it takes about eight hours or so.

A little water was added to the roasting pan, the brown bits were scraped up, and poured into the pot.

I strained the stock and packaged it up. And totally forgot to take a picture, so here is a picture of the stock (days later) in the fridge:

The stock smelled delicious and was a beautiful color. I haven't used it for anything yet, but it tasted delicious as it was cooking.

I incessantly make chicken stock but I noticed a recipe for Chicken broth (p. 121) in the Stocks and Soups chapter. I had found a package of chicken legs on closeout and I had chicken thighs in the freezer, which I mostly dethawed, but still dumped into the pot in a block.

For some reason (well, I know the reason, I made about fifteen recipes in one day, which makes it difficult to remember what I took pictures of and what I missed) I didn't take any pictures past this point until the end. Pretty much, I simmered the chicken for a while and then added a finely chopped onion, carrot, and celery rib. I simmered that for another hour and it was done. I then let it cool and strained it and ended up with this (picture taken several days later):

Delicious and mild. Much more mild than chicken stock, which has a lot more seasoning (the broth has no seasoning). It also had a lot of sediment for some reason. But it was very tasty and worked well in recipes that I typically use stock for (namely, tortilla soup). I make chicken stock constantly. I can buy a chicken at the grocery store for $3.50. If I make stock out of it, I end up with a chicken's worth of poached chicken and a huge amount of stock. I also make it when I break up a chicken into it's component parts--it seems like a huge waste to throw the back away.
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