Monday, August 31, 2009

Cheesy Pasta Scramble

I'm guessing we all do it. We see a post about something that looks wicked good.And think "Zomg. I'm making that right now, as I'm reading about it, somehow." Sometimes you even leave a comment to that effect. Then you go to the next blog and think "I can't possibly live another moment without that! Where do I sign up to get it hooked directly to my bloodstream?" And so on. You get so many recipes that you can't possibly make them all with any kind of rapidity. Sometimes though, it just has to happen and you make the dish as soon as you can. That's what happened to me with this post by Jenn over at Bread + Butter. I made it the next morning within minutes of getting up. I mean, c'mon. How can you resist?

I made it pretty much the same as she did, with only a few tweeks. First I cooked about a quarter of a box of pasta. Then I heated up a skillet with some bacon grease (it was breakfast, after all) and poured it in. I let it sit for a bit to get some browned bits and then I added the egg mixture. This was two eggs, milk, fresh basil, fresh parsley, salt and pepper. Stirred it around till the egg was all cooked and there it is. Oh, except the cheese. I forgot to take pictures of that. I added some extra sharp cheddar, I love sharp cheddar with eggs. But it's in there, I assure you. So. Was it fantastic? Why yes it was, thanks for asking. I would eat it again like this with a smile on my face. But. Next time I'm going to change a couple things. I think I'm going to cook them over a lower heat to see if the egg coats the pasta more. And add more cheese. Maybe some garlic, but maybe not. It might not work as well with it as without.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Sunday Cats and a Tag

Noodles is getting fat. Here's a blurry shot of her when we got her and here's a shot of her now. Granted, a certain amount of that is fluff, but still. She's not unhealthy or anything, she's very active and happy. She's just a chunk. Bob has always been a bit husky, but he's actually lost weight since Noodles showed up. Part of it is the exercise, they play a lot, chasing each other around. Part of it is if he doesn't eat treats fast enough she grabs them right from under him. He's a wimp.

Palidor hit me with this summer camp style, getting to know you thing. I haven't been playing the meme game lately, but I kind of like these ones. I like to learn little things about the people whose blogs I read so often. But, I won't be tagging people. It's not my way. If anyone wants to play they should go nuts though, I'd enjoy reading people's answers.

1. A – Available/Single? Nope!

2. B – Best friend? See above

3. C – Cake or Pie? Sure.

4. D – Drink of choice? Water or whiskey, depending.

5. E – Essential item you use every day? computer

6. F – Favorite color? black, but I'm not a goth I promise.

7. G – Gummy Bears Or Worms? No thanks.

8. H – Hometown? Boston

9. I – Indulgence? Don't mind if I do.

10. J – January or February? Both, as much as possible.

11. K – Kids & their names? None, other than my cats Bob and Noodles.

12. L – Life is incomplete without? music

13. M – Marriage date? heh, no.

14. N – Number of siblings? lots

15. O – Oranges or Apples? Apples, totally.

16. P – Phobias/Fears? Zombies

17. Q – Quote for today? People in glass houses shouldn't throw stones. Well, unless they're trapped in a glass house and happen to have a stone. And when you think about it, throwing stones anywhere could hurt someone. So really it should be, "Don't throw stones... unless you're trapped in a glass house." -Abby Normal

18. R – Reason to smile? I'm not at work and one of the pizza shops down the street is cooking Italian sausages, onions and peppers. My whole apartment smells like them. Awesome.

19. S – Season? with salt and pepper.

29. T – Tag 3 People? Nah

21. U – Unknown fact about me? I can play the whole album"Meantime" by Helmet on the bass. Well... I used to be able to. Heh.

22. V – Vegetable you don't like? mushrooms

23. W – Worst habit? Too many to choose from.

24. X – X-rays you've had? back, hand, chest, teeth

25. Y – Your favorite food? bacon, it's nature's perfect food.

26. Z – Zodiac sign? No idea.

The Rules
1. Link the person who tagged you.
2. Post the rules on your blog.
3. Share the ABCs of you.
4. Tag 3 people at the end of your post by linking to their blogs.
5. Let the 3 tagged people know that they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their website.
6. Do not tag the same person repeatedly but try to tag different people, so that there is a big network of bloggers doing this tag.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Experiment: Dessert Calzones

Well, since there was so much interest in these I figured I should post about them next. Before we even get started though, I want to make one point: more experiments are clearly needed. While delicious, these things were a disaster. What I had envisioned were two-bite size calzones, full of sweet goodiness, easy to eat with your hands. What I got were sticky, exploded, two-bite size calzones and you needed to take a shower after eating them. They were tasty though. Details? Sure.

I made four different kinds, peanut butter and strawberry jam, peanut butter and chocolate and the same again but with marshmallow. I made them just like a regular calzone, only much smaller. Maybe three inches by five or so. I dolloped the peanut butter on and then the jam or chocolate and then, if it was getting it, half a large marshmallow. Then I sealed them up, with varying amounts of visual appeal. Brushed them with melted butter and sprinkled them with sugar. Then I baked them like regular calzones, 500 degrees on parchment (if they explode it doesn't get all over your stone). This is what the ones without marshmallow looked like. Sort of, sorry about the pic. I'm sure most of you see at least one problem here. The vent I cut in one of them was way too huge. This was part of my explosion issue. But even the one with smaller vents exploded. What is needed is something to hold up the dough so the filling doesn't ooze out. As you can see in this cross-section, the marshmallow did just this. and the chocolate and peanut butter stayed in. But the marshmallow itself oozed out and completely disappeared. I was thinking maybe chunks of brownie or some other dense cake would work, with some caramel and hot fudge in there. Or maybe nuts. Or even a whole strawberry or chunks of apple. I did make a calzone once that had apple pie filling in it, that worked out well. But like I said, more experiments. Any ideas, kids?

One pleasant surprise: the filling that oozed out turned into a crispy caramel/toffee kind of thing that was quite good.Who'd have guessed?

Monday, August 24, 2009

What Do You Like In Calzones?

I have a buddy who used to deliver pizzas. So of course he has a million stories of the weird stuff people like to eat. The one that always stuck out the most for me was the woman who wanted a steak and cheese calzone with mayonnaise and lettuce. Lettuce. In a calzone. Mayo I can see (if you've never had a steak and cheese with mayo, try it. Seriously.), but lettuce? It would get all soggy and put out a ton of liquid making everything else soggy too, I would think. Plus cooked lettuce (inevitably iceberg, from a pizza shop) is just nasty, in my opinion.

I think my personal favorite calzone is chicken and broccoli. Like this one. I like it best with a good white sauce, but there are other good ways to do it. The one above was made with braised chicken and I took some of the braising liquid and thickened it into a gravy. Nice and easy, didn't have to make any additional stuff.

How about you guys, do you eat calzones? What do you like in them? Or what would you want to try in them but haven't yet or aren't brave enough? Next time I get some lamb I think I'm going to make a spicy Greek one. With that cheese they set on fire in Greek restaurants that I can't remember the name of. Good times.

I also recently made some dessert calzones that didn't quite turn out how I wanted, but I'll still post about them later this week. If nothing else they taught me a few things. Heh.

EDIT: After reading some of your comments I think I have been vague about the calzone pictured above. There is cheese in there. A heroic amount of mozzarella, even. High quality, Italian deli mozzarella at that. Just so there isn't any misunderstanding. Heh.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Sunday Cats

Ok, you all knew Noodles needs boxhab. More than a little. But it appears she's turned the real Bob onto them too. Everyone together now, "I learned it from watching YOU!"

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Cornstarch Waffles

3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt (or a bit less)
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
1 cup whole milk or buttermilk
1/3 cup vegetable oil or melted butter
1 egg
3/4 teaspoon vanilla

Combine the flour, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda, salt and sugar. Add the oil, vanilla, egg and milk. Mix well. Let it rest for a half hour. Make the waffles according to your iron's directions.

Ah, waffles. Similar to, but not the same as pancakes. When you want waffles, pancakes will not ease the pain you feel. Likewise, waffles will not fill the emptiness inside you when pancakes are what you crave. The golden, crispy ridges, full to overflowing with butter and maple syrup are a delight to all the senses, but not the same as tender, fluffy rounds of deliciousness soaking up the... well, the butter and syrup. I'm not a jam on my waffles/pancakes fan. I just think that maple syrup is the pinnacle of toppings for breakfast cakes. Call me nuts, you won't be the first. But all of this is neither here nor there. Well, I guess waffles are "here", since that's what I'm talking about and also "there" since that's what the rest of the post is about too... Hm. Well. Let's just move along.

Sorry, no step by step for this one. In fact other than the one up top, this is the only other picture that came out well. I got the recipe from here. What caught my eye was all the cornstarch in it. I'd never seen waffles that used that before. Apparently it's supposed to help make the outside crispy and the inside soft. A noble goal. But, I've been having trouble with waffles lately. The outside gets lovely and brown, but the inside never cooks quite right. Has anyone else had this happen? They look done, they've been in the iron plenty of time, but they are still almost wet in the middle. I know I cooked them long enough, but they don't seem finished. Maybe I'm leaving them in too long and that makes them collapse? Can that happen?

The flavor is great, the outside has a nice crispness to it, but the middle is... flawed. This happened when I made the sour cream waffles last year too. Although I didn't mention it then because I thought it was that I had forgotten to put in the baking powder. Heh. But this time I know I put in everything and it still happened. Why is this, does anyone know?

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Experiment: Spicy Ginger Ramen

2 cups broth or stock
1 package ramen (sans seasoning packet)
couple tbls minced onion
1 clove of garlic
1/3 tsp ground ginger
1 dried tien tsin pepper
splash of rice wine vinegar
salt and pepper to taste

Saute the onion for a minute. Then add the garlic and the pepper. Add the stock, ginger, any salt and pepper that is needed and vinegar and bring it to a boil. Add the noodles and cook till done. Remove the pepper before serving.


Part of my cold is some serious congestion, so naturally I wanted something spicy. I've had these kicking around for months, waiting for me to make kung pao chicken. I haven't gotten around to that yet, but when you want spicy they are the way to go. 60,000 heat units and they still have a lot of flavor. Good times, kids. So I decided to just wing it and make myself some spicy noodles. They came out really good. I used the chicken stock I got in my Emeril package from Foodbuzz (thanks Foodbuzz!).

I'm not really an Emeril fan, I'll admit it. He is a little too... much for me. I don't want to be yelled at while I'm cooking (apparently that's all cooking school is, according to my buddy who went to Johnson and Wales. So I'm glad I never went.) and I don't think yelling at the food makes it any better. Plus he reminds me a lot of a really obnoxious truck driver I used to work with. They're both from Fall River and sound exactly the same, right down to no volume control. Always using their outside voices. Anyway, the stock was good. Not as good as homemade, clearly, but better than the cheapo store brand stock my mom would buy if she didn't have any homemade on hand. I loved the horseradish mustard that came with it, but I haven't tried the spices yet.

Ok, cold medicine induced rambling aside, lets make some spicy noodles! It's wicked easy.

First I sauteed up the onion for a bit, then added the garlic and one (1) pepper. Just one. I could have done more and still been able to eat it, but one was just right. It burned a bit and cleared my sinuses up, but didn't keep me from from being able to taste the dish or promptly going back for more. I love spicy food, but if it's so spicy I can't taste it then what's the point? Oh and these are peppers that are best handled with gloves. Seriously. These little ladies aren't messing around. They aren't the hottest peppers in the world, but they're hotter than cayenne and jalapenos. Oh, and when you're sauteing you want to be careful that it doesn't break, that would move the dish from spicy to weapons grade. Just so you know. But once that's all set you want to add the stock. I tasted it and it wanted salt. Which is another tally on the plus side for the stock, it isn't wicked salty straight from the container. I also added a little black pepper, because I'm like that. And the ginger. I wish I had had fresh ginger for it, but I didn't. But fresh would have been amazing. The stock was quite rich too, also good, so I added a splash of vinegar to lighten it up. Then it was noodle time. I used Top Ramen, I think. I still have the seasoning packet that I didn't use kicking around somewhere, but it doesn't really matter. Any packaged ramen will do fine, this isn't haute cuisine here. But that's it, once the noodles are cooked, a great dish for when you are sick and want something spicy and light. It would be even lighter with broth instead of stock, if you're into that. Some bean sprouts or shredded carrot would have been nice too, or even some chopped cucumber.Oh and you do want to remove the pepper before you eat, even if you are using it as a garnish. Unless you're my dad, then go nuts. Heh.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Something To Do With Leftovers: General Gau's Fried Rice

Yep. This is exactly what it sounds like. I had some leftover General Gau's chicken and white rice. So I made fried rice out of it. It came out quite well, but I didn't take any pictures of the process. Partly because I'm still working on my fried rice technique, but mostly because I'm all doped up on cold medicine and can't hold the damn camera still to save my life. And don't even ask me to set up a tripod, I'm lucky I didn't set myself on fire frying the rice, let alone fiddling with other stuff while I was doing it.

Basically all I did was fry the two day old rice, in a hot wok, with some garlic/ginger/canola oil. Then I added maybe 3-5 tablespoons of the sauce from the chicken (I'm not really sure how much. See above, re: cold medicine) and stir fried it till the liquid was mostly absorbed. Then I added in the chicken, chopped up into bite sized pieces and kept stirfrying it till it was all heated through. That's it. Next time (and there will be a next time) I'm going to go all out and add more veggies and stuff to it. But this was a test run, to make sure it would work. And I didn't have to do too much stuff, which was also part of the goal.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Sunday Cats

I have a cold. But fortunately I also have a pair of nursemaids. One of them is always with me, making sure everything is ok. Or taking advantage of the fact that I'm not moving much. They love it when we don't move.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Experiment: Wicked Simple Apple Coffee Cake

3/4 cups sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) softened butter
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups flour
3/4 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup plus 2 tbls milk
2 apples
1 tsp vanilla
3 tsps (or so) ground cinnamon
3 tsps (or so) sugar

Butter an 8x8 pan and line it with a parchment sling. Preheat the oven to 350. Peel, core and chop the apples. In a bowl, combine the chopped apples with one (of the 3) tsps of cinnamon and sugar. Set them aside. Cream together the butter and 3/4 cup of sugar. Add the eggs and vanilla, mix to combine. Add the flour, salt and baking powder and mix that in well. Add the milk and mix for a couple minutes. Pour of any juices the apples have put out and fold them into the batter. Pour the batter in the prepared pan and sprinkle the remaining cinnamon and sugar on top. Bake till a toothpick comes out clean or with a few crumbs, about 35-45 minutes.


So I had some apples that needed using. Plus those duck eggs that I wanted to make a cake out of. An apple coffee cake seemed in order. I was feeling lazy though and didn't want to make struesel. Now, I love struesel but it can be a pain in the ass. Then I remembered reading in a Cooks Illustrated (I think) that you can get a decent topping with just cinnamon and sugar and decided to try it out. The main cake part is just a half batch of cocoa ripple ring, since that cake is pretty hardy and could handle the fruit. Although I also took some steps to reduce the amount of liquid the apples would put out, but we'll get to that later. Unless you cheated and read the recipe first. Which you probably did. So we'll just get right to it then.

First, prep an 8x8 pan. Butter it up and then put a parchment paper sling in there. The sling is great if you want to take the cake out of the pan before cutting it. It's not really necessary, but it's kind of fun and makes things a lot easier. You should also start macerating your apples in a teaspoon or so of sugar and cinnamon.I only used one apple, but I wish I had done it with two. Now you want to cream your butter and sugar. Then add the eggs and vanilla. Duck eggs, baby. Look at those yolks! See how dark that is? That means rich taste kids. Because it's almost all fat. Yeah. Next the dry ingedients, then the milk. Mix it for several minutes. Now you want to pour off any liquid that the apples put out. All that liquid that came out of them is moisture that isn't going into the cake. This helps keep it from getting gummy. The macerating might even be something you want to start a half hour or so before you get the batter ready, but I didn't have any problems. Course, I also only used one apple. What to do with all that macerating liquid you ask? Well... I just drank it. Mmmm, appley.Anyway, fold in the apples and pour it all into the prepped pan. Now sprinkle the top with a couple teaspoons of cinnamon and sugar. I didn't measure it, but next time I'm going to add more. At least more cinnamon. Maybe even totally cover the top with it, but I'm not sure yet. Now it's just bakies and there it is. A wicked simple apple coffee cake. It was very good. Sure, streusel is a better topping, but it's nowhere near as easy. And this was actually quite nice, it came out a little crispy and had plenty of flavor, even if didn't have any body to speak of. So, if you're in a rush(or just feeling lazy, heh), this topping will do just fine. But if I have the time and patience, I'm going to make streusel.


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