There is a tide in the affairs of men. Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune; Omitted, all the voyage of their life Is bound in shallows and in miseries. On such a full sea are we now afloat, And we must take the current when it serves, Or lose our ventures.
This guest post was written by one of my favorite Tumbloggers - Sue of Tango Mango.I don’t think you’ll need much convincing in trying out this recipe for smooth (sans custard, guises!) blueberry ice cream.
Years ago we acquired a Donvier ice cream maker. I doubt we bought it – I seem to recall it was a gift from a well-meaning friend. Our intentions to use it were good, but time marched on and it sat neglected, on a shelf in the garage. Occasionally I would put its internal cylinder in the freezer, hoping that having it ready at a moment’s notice would motivate me to make ice cream. Alas, it didn’t, and inevitably, it would make its way back on its shelf with the rest of the machine.
Last year one of our daughters finally decided to try the ice cream maker. We made the custard, froze the core piece and cranked out a beautiful, scrumptious batch of vanilla ice cream with bourbon caramel swirls. Neither of us understood what had taken us so long!
After this season’s blueberry picking, I ended up with a few pounds that made their way to the freezer. I knew just what to do with them – blueberry ice cream.
This tastes just as delightful as it looks, which is saying a lot, as the color is stunning. It’s not a cooked custard, so it’s a little on the icy side and not super creamy, but overall I was extremely pleased.
Lemon sugar cookies came out of our oven yesterday, and I’ve made a stack of ice cream sandwiches, using this fruity, lavender ice cream as the filling. (Upcoming post!)
Note: The measurements below were increased from the original recipe by fifty percent. I ended up not freezing a cup of the liquid, thinking not all of it might fit in the ice cream maker. (It would have.) Also, I chose to use half and half rather than heavy cream. The heavier cream probably would have made a creamier version.
BLUEBERRY ICE CREAM — a recipe modified from the August, 1997 issue of Gourmet magazine.
3 cups picked-over blueberries (I used frozen)
1 1/8 cups sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups milk
2 1/2 cups half and half
In a saucepan, bring blueberries, sugar, and salt to a boil over moderate heat, mashing berries and stirring with a fork. Simmer mixture, stirring frequently, 5 minutes and cool slightly.
In a blender purée mixture. Add the milk. Pour mixture through a sieve into a bowl, pressing on solids with back of a spoon. Stir in half and half. Chill mixture, covered, at least 2 hours, or until very cold, and up to 1 day.
Freeze mixture in an ice-cream maker. Transfer ice cream to an airtight container and put in freezer to ripen. Ice cream may be made 1 week ahead.
I’ve been trying to eat whole wheat bread that isn’t loaded with sugar, which is impossible to find on the bread aisle of an American grocery store. So I’ve sampled a few loaves from local bakeries and one from the bakery department of a local supermarket, and they tasted all right with suitably low sugar content.
A few weeks ago, I stumbled across a PBS cooking show called “Home Chef” hosted by Neven Maguire of Ireland’s MacNean Restaurant. He baked the bread they serve at his restaurant, calling it a wheaten bread, which fits because it is mostly whole wheat. And boy, is it fast! I’ve been baking this bread every week since late June, and it makes the most scrumptious grilled cheese sammies, fried egg sandwiches, and peanut butter toast.
Summer squash are everywhere, and I make a chocolate zucchini bread at least once every summer with the bounty. You can leave out the nuts, and you can double the recipe to make two loaves. The original recipe made two loaves, and I halved all the ingredients to make one loaf. The zucchini bread is a similarly speedy bread. For a week or so now, I’ve been warming a slice in the microwave, then slathering it with peanut butter alongside a cup of decaf for a late-night snack.
Makes 1 loaf that can be cut into approximately 12 slices
1 lb. 2 oz. or 2 c. + 2 oz. whole wheat flour
4 1/2 oz. or a little over 1/2 c. AP flour
1 t. baking soda
1 t. salt
1 pint of buttermilk, plus a little extra if necessary
1 T. light brown sugar
1 T. melted butter, plus extra for greasing the pan
1 T. golden syrup or light corn syrup (I used corn syrup.)
1 T. porridge oats (I used old-fashioned oats.)
1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease either two 1 1/2-pint loaf pans or one large loaf pan. (I used one 8 1/2 ” x 4 1/2 ” dark metal loaf pan, and I sprayed it with cooking spray.)
2. Sift the flours, baking soda, and salt into a bowl. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add the buttermilk, brown sugar, melted butter, and corn syrup. Mix gently and quickly until you have achieved a nice dropping consistency. If necessary, add a bit more buttermilk until the mixture binds together without being sloppy.
3. Divide the mixture evenly between the two small pans or put the batter into the one large one. Sprinkle over the oats. Bake for 1 hour until cooked through and each one has a slightly cracked, crusty top. Check halfway through that the loaves aren’t browning too much. If they are, reduce the temperature or move them down in the oven.
4. To check that the loaves are properly cooked, tip each one out of the pan and tap the base. It should sound hollow. If it doesn’t, return it to the oven for 5 more minutes. (I had to bake mine for 5 additional minutes.) Tip out onto a wire rack and leave to cool completely before slicing.
Mark fom A word from the Other Parsimonious Chef has awesomely contributed a post in my absence and am I glad that he did. People often have the misconception that Pho is a real pain to cook - which is a darn shame. Luckily this recipe is easy to follow and to be sure will yield a bowl, in Mark’s own words, of Pho(ck)ing Deliciousness…. Pho Sure, Pho Real, Pho The Love Of It.
In case you don’t know I am working on writing a novel for the first time. It’s been tedious, rewarding, exhausting, enlightening, challenging, isolating, awakening and down right frustrating at times. And while there’s nothing better than expressing yourself through words, cooking and eating are a great escape if only for a minute. The trick is to cook something that you love, is easy to make, can be made in large portions, can be easily reheated and is versatile enough to last a few days without giving you the feeling that you are eating the same thing again on day one, two and three.
Pho (pronounced FAH) is a Vietnamese noodle soup made from beef stock, star anise and cinnamon & is about as classic in Vietnam as chicken soup is in the U.S. I could go on and on about it but I’m sure that some of you have had it so no need to preach to the choir. To those of you that have not here is a quick and easy pitch. This soup is a cure all. If you have a cold, drink it up. If you had a bad break up, slurp it up. If you have a huge assignment due at work, eat it up. If you are hungry, scarf it up and if you are bored, spice it up! This soup is soooooo (Pho)cking Good that once you try it you will crave it on most occasions, especially if those occasions have anything to do with a need for comfort…It’s like a warm blanket on a cold day or like an ice cold rag on a hot summer day…Pho(ck) it Up!!!!!
In my version I give the steak a quick sear after seasoning it with salt & pepper, this adds another layer of flavor to the dish in my humble opinion. Normally the steak is raw and cooked by placing it in the hot soup at the table right before you eat it.
Slice 1/4 of the onion into small rings, slice the ginger into thin slices and the lemongrass into 3 inch portions and then add 1 Tbs grape seed oil to a soup pot preheated to mid heat. Add the onions, ginger, cinnamon stick, star anise and the lemongrass to the pot allowing to cook while stirring for 5 minutes. Add the beef stock and bring to a boil before reducing the heat to a simmer, cover and allow soup base to cook for 1 hour.
To cook the cellophane noodles, bring water to a boil, take water off heat. Add noodles and cover to steep for 20 minutes.
CONDIMENTS & ADDITIONS:
Prep Time: 20 Minutes
Cooking Time: N/A
Stove Temp: N/A
Mung Bean Sprouts
Sweet Onions - cut extremely thin as these are added to the raw to the hot soup as a condiment.
This post is not about the cinnamon buns. I repeat: this post is not about the cinnamon buns - but what better way to catch your attention than parading photographs of sweet, buttery, cinnamon-y brioche smothered with cream cheese frosting and toffee walnuts…I digress.
What I really wanted to write about is more of a proposition. Seeing as the month of Ramadan is upon us (a belated Ramadan Kareem to my fellow Muslims - may the timezone be ever in your favor!) and I probably won’t be posting as much, I wonder if anyone is interested in doing a guest post? It’ll also be a chance to get to know other food bloggers here on Tumblr. It could be about your favorite food, go-to recipe, summer thirst quenchers - anything food related. Just drop me a message if you’re up for it and I’ll post it up on the blog.
[ 1/3 cup ground beef + 1/2 cup gochujang or Korean red pepper paste + 1 teaspoon soy sauce + 2 teaspoon sesame oil + 3 tablespoons honey + 3 garlic cloves, minced ]
Heat the sesame oil in a skillet over medium high heat. Add in the garlic and saute until fragrant. Add in the ground beef and cook for 2 minutes. Lower the heat and add gochujang and honey. Cook for another 3 minutes and take off from heat. Set aside.
[ 5 sheets of “gim”/”kim”/roasted dried seaweed + 2 1/2 cups cooked short-grain white rice + 1 small carrot, cut into thin matchsticks + 2 cups spinach, blanched + 1 cucumber, cut into long strips + Spam or sausages, cut into long strips + 3 eggs + sesame oil + sesame seeds ]
You’d want to have all the ingredients prepped before you start rock n’ rollin’, so to speak, so cook the rice according to the package instruction and keep warm. Warm, not hot, not cold.
Saute the blanched spinach in a little bit of sesame oil and salt. Set aside. Do the same for the carrot matchsticks and sausages.
Lightly whisk the eggs with a little salt and cook into a flat omelet. Cut into long strips.
Combine the rice with 2-3 tablespoons of yak-gochujang (recipe above) and mix well. Taste and adjust seasoning.
Prepare a bowl with water on the side. Spread a sheet of seaweed over the bamboo sushi roll, put about 1/2 cup of seasoned rice and spread evenly over about 2/3 of seaweed. You want to dip your fingers in the water so the rice won’t stick.
Lay the first ingredient down around 1/3 of the way up from the bottom of the rice (with about an inch of empty rice space at the bottom) Stack the other fillings down on top.
Roll from the bottom (as if you’re rolling a sleeping bag), pressing down to make the fillings stay in.
As you continue to roll, pull the whole thing down towards the end of the bamboo mat.
Spread a tiny dab of water along the top seam to hold the roll together.
Set aside and continue with other seaweed sheets. Brush the kimbap rolls with some sesame oil and sprinkle with sesame seeds on top.
Cut each roll into 7-8 pieces. Serve with extra yak-gochujang, if you want.
I…have never eaten raw fish before. I’ve always had this idea that they’ll taste bloody or smell fishy or will have a weird texture. If there are other raw-fish-first-timers out there, this is a pleasant introductory dish. It provides a stable footing should you wish to explore the world of sashimi and sushi. Perfect for summer and damn delicious.
TUNA POKE (serves 2-3):
[ 1 Sashimi-grade Ahi tuna steak + 1/2 of a small onion, sliced + 2 green onion, chopped + 1 1/2 tablespoon soy sauce + 1 teaspoon sesame oil + 1 teaspoon chili pepper flakes + 1 tablespoon sesame seeds, white or black or both ]
Pat the tuna steak dry with a paper towel and cut into 1/2 inch cubes. Set aside in a bowl.
In another bowl, combine the sliced onion and green onion, soy sauce, sesame oil, chili flakes and sesame seeds. Mix until combined. Add in the tuna cubes and gently toss. Serve immediately as it is, or on top of rice. Garnish with green onions and a lemon wedge.
This cake. It’s inspired by the citrus cake Apollina whipped up as an homage to a Stella McCartney dress print circa 2011. It was no picnic to make. Not because of the recipe, but because I generally suck at making cakes. The frosting ended up being too runny and I had to refrigerate in between the frosting application. I didn’t want an overpowering taste of lemon so I made a yellow cake with a cream cheese frosting that you sandwich with some lemon curd or your favorite jam.
I want to say thanks to those who dropped messages into my inbox. I’ll get to them soon and I really appreciate the kind words and your patience :)
For now, let’s eat some cake!
[ 1/2 cup butter, at room temperature + 1 1/2 cup sugar + 3 eggs + 2 1/4 cup flour + 1 teaspoon salt + 3 1/2 teaspoon baking powder + 1 1/4 cups milk + 1 teaspoon vanilla ]
Preheat the oven to 350F. Prepare two 9-inch round pans by greasing them generously with butter. Sprinkle a little flour over them and then tilt and shake the pans to distribute the flour evenly. Tap out excess flour over the sink.
Using a mixer, beat the softened butter and sugar until fluffy and light. Add eggs, one at a time, and beat until fully incorporated. Beat in flour, salt, baking powder, milk and vanilla. Beat together on low speed for 30 seconds, then at high for 3 minutes.
Immediately pour into the prepared pans and bake for 25-30 minutes. After the cake is done, cool on a wiring rack until cooled completely. Meanwhile, make the frosting.
WHIPPED CREAM CHEESE FROSTING:
[ 1 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened + 1 cup sugar + 1 teaspoon vanilla extract + 1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream + a pinch of salt ]
In a large bowl, combine cream cheese, sugar, salt and vanilla. Beat until smooth. Add in the heavy cream and beat until the mixture becomes stiff. Cover with cling film and refrigerate until needed.
[ 2 9-inch cakes + whipped cream cheese frosting + jam of your favorite flavor or a jar of lemon curd + slices of lemon, lime, orange and grapefruit + mint or basil leaves ]
You can choose to make a 2 layer or a 4 layer cake (I went with the latter by cutting the cake in half). Whichever one you choose, spread a thin layer of frosting on one cake and top with lemon curd or jam.
Place another layer of cake on top and refrigerate (if you’re going with 2 layers) or repeat the frosting step (if you’re going for 4 layers). Refrigerate for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, cut the citrus fruits into slices and lay them on paper towels to get the excess moisture out. Frost the cake all over with the remaining frosting and arrange the citrus slices and basil or mint leaves all over the cake.
I’m angry right now. I’m angry for the same reason I was angry after I clicked “publish” on the Salbutes post and sent it on its way to the interweb. Angry might be too strong of a word, but I feel like kicking myself in the head right now for forgetting (repeatedly) an ingredient that only a few months ago I coveted.
Yes, my fellow peeps, I’m talking about the elusive feta cheese. A sprinkling of that crumbly tart thing would’ve made the photos on this (and the Salbutes post) infinitely better - for who doesn’t like sprinkles? I know I do. It doesn’t help that it would’ve also improved the taste. Actually, you know what, angry is the right word for it, because I distinctively said to myself while in the process of cooking “Hey Piga, a little queso fresco would be nice to sprinkle on top of these don’t you think?” “But I don’t have queso…” “Silly! You have feta don’t you? It will totally convey the message of queso-ness!” “Ah, alright, just remind me later on ‘kay?”
And then brain fart. If you’re wondering why there aren’t any beans either, I didn’t have any those were omitted intentionally. I,uh, didn’t want to get gassy. This is just a basic blueprint of a burrito bowl with really good grilled chicken, sweet and sour salsa and fragrant quinoa, the rest is really up to you.
QUINOA BURRITO BOWL (serves 4):
CHIPOTLE GRILLED CHICKEN:
[ 1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast + juice of 1 lemon + 1 red hot chili pepper, finely chopped + 1/2 tablespoon honey + 1 tablespoon chipotle sauce + 1 tablespoon olive oil ]
Combine the lemon juice, chili pepper, honey and chipotle sauce in a bowl. Score the chicken breasts and marinade in the sauce for at least 1 hour. Meanwhile, make the salsa and the lime-parsley quinoa:
BELL PEPPER SALSA:
[ 1/2 of a red bell pepper + 1/2 of a yellow bell pepper + 1 small tomato + juice of 1/2 a lime + 2 green onions, chopped + a small bunch of cilantro or parsley, chopped + 1/2 of a small onion, chopped + salt and pepper ]
Pulse all the ingredients in a food processor until roughly chopped. Transfer to a bowl and refrigerate until needed.
[ 1 cup quinoa + 2 cup low sodium chicken broth + juice of 1/2 a lime + a small bunch of parsley, chopped ]
Combine the quinoa and chicken broth in a heavy bottomed pot and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium low and continue cooking for 15-20 minutes, until almost all the liquid is absorbed. Turn off the heat and let stand for 5 minutes before fluffing with a fork an adding lime juice and chopped parsley. Keep warm.
To cook the chicken, heat the olive oil in a pan over medium high heat until hot. Cook the chicken 6 minutes per side or until the juices run clear. Let rest for 5 minutes.
If there are leftover marinade, cook that in the same pan until it reduces to serve as a sauce over the chicken.
Once upon a time in a kingdom far a way, lived two princesses. The eldest, who had a curiosity in culinary alchemy, is often mischievous and channels her boredom in exploiting her sister’s lack of knowledge of the bounties of the land. “Eat this,” she said one day to her sister, “It is a hazelnut and it tastes just like unsweetened Nutella!" Hearing the word "Nutella", the younger sister saw no harm and held out her hand, for who could refuse something akin to the velvety flavor of the content of the Sacred Jar?
What the younger sister didn’t know was that there exist in the land something that looks exactly like a hazelnut. But the similarity ends there, for the candlenut is rather tough and very, very bitter. In she popped the nut into her mouth and gave it a few good chews. The next moment her face scrunched up and she spat it out, eyes watering. Before she could be very cross, her sister had ran away, cackling while quoting the wizened wizard Alastor “Mad Eye” Moody (“Constant vigilance!”).
Fast forward a few years and the Queen gave the eldest sister a bag of raw hazelnuts from a neighboring land. She contemplated on what to do with it - shall she whip up a batch of “rawtella” to combat the malady of the expanding waist? Nay, she decided at last. She will instead attempt to make a French gateau made of 7 layers; 3 of which are hazelnut meringue, layered with rum pastry cream, praline cream and chocolate ganache. A dessert fit for a Queen.
- In all seriousness though you guys, this is a great dessert for a Mother’s day dinner, particularly for those with a bit of a sweet tooth. It might look like a lot of loitering around in the kitchen, but I promise you it’s not. Each step takes no more than 15-30 minutes of active time and the ingredients are not hard to come by, so I hope you guys will give this a try.
[ 1 cup almonds, traditionally, but use whatever nuts you like. I’m using some walnuts here + 1 cup sugar ]
Oil a baking sheet and set it aside. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Bake nuts in another baking sheet for 10 minutes and let cool.
Combine nuts and sugar in a heavy bottomed pot. Heat over medium-high until the sugar turns brown and syrupy. Quickly pour the caramel-nut mixture onto the oiled baking sheet and let cool until it hardens. Break into pieces and grind to a find powder with a food processor (I finally got myself one! Bliss.) Set aside. This can be made up to 3 days ahead and stored in the fridge.
[ 2 cup creme fraiche (don’t got no creme fraiche? combine 1 cup of sour cream with 1 cup heavy cream) + 15 ounces bittersweet chocolate ]
Bring creme fraiche into a boil in a medium saucepan. Remove from heat and whisk in the chocolate, one to two piece at a time. Set aside to cool and thicken so it is spreadable.
[ 8 large egg yolks + 1 cup sugar + 1/2 cup flour + 2 1/2 cup milk + 1 1/4 cup unsalted butter ]
With an electric mixer or a whisk, beat egg yolks and sugar until thick and pale yellow. Gently whisk in flour. Heat milk to a boil and whisk 1/3 of the hot milk into the egg mixture. Pour the egg-milk mixture back into the saucepan with the remaining milk. Boil over medium heat for 2 minutes while constantly whisking until the mixture thickens. Remove from heat and let cool.
When the cream has cooled completely, beat the butter until soft and creamy. Whisk the softened butter into the pastry cream. Set aside in the fridge.
[ 1 cup hazelnuts + 3/4 cup sugar + 10 large egg whites + 1/4 cup unbleached flour ]
Pre-heat the oven to 300 degrees F. Generously butter two 14x10x1 inches jelly-roll pans. Line with parchment paper, then butter and flour the paper too.
Spread hazelnuts on a baking sheet and roast for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and rub the warm nuts in a cotton dish towel to remove as much skin as possible. Cool the grind them with a quarter cup of the sugar in a food processor.
Using an electric mixer, beat egg whites until they form soft peaks. Slowly add the remaining sugar and mix until stiff but not dry. Fold in the flour and hazelnut mixture. Divide and spread the batter evenly between the two prepared pans. Bake until the cakes are thoroughly browned, about 25-30 minutes.
Remove the cakes from the oven and invert them onto racks to cool, paper side up. Cover the cakes with a damp towel for several minutes then remove the parchment paper while the cakes are still warm. Let cool completely. Cut each cake lengthwise in half.
Divide the pastry cream in half. Add the praline powder to one portion of pastry cream. Mix well to combine. Add rum (I omitted this) and vanilla extract to the other portion.
Place one cake piece on a rectangular serving plate. Spread half the chocolate ganache on the cake. Refrigerate for 10 minutes.
Cover the chocolate ganache with a second cake piece. Spread the vanilla-rum pastry cream on top, being mindful of the edges. Refrigerate for 15 minutes. Top with the third cake piece and spread the praline cream on top. Refrigerate for 15 minute. Top with the final cake piece and frost the top and sides with the remaining chocolate ganache. Refrigerate for 15 minutes uncovered then cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate 1-3 days before serving.
Remove from the refrigerator 15 minutes before cutting, then cut into thin slices.
For the Anon who made a foodwish for Salbutes. Happy Cinco de Mayo, guyses!
CHIPOTLE SHREDDED CHICKEN:
[ 2 chipotle peppers in Adobo sauce plus 2 tablespoon of the Adobo sauce + 1/4 cup orange juice + 2 teaspoon honey + 1 teaspoon vinegar or lemon juice + 1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts + 3 cloves of garlic, minced + salt and pepper ]
Blend the chipotle peppers and adobo sauce. Transfer into a bowl and add the orange juice, honey and vinegar or lemon juice. Whisk to combine with a fork and adjust to taste with salt and pepper.
Season the chicken breast with salt and pepper on each side and place on a heavy bottomed pot. Add the garlic and enough water to just over the chicken. Add in half of the chipotle sauce and bring to a boil.
Once boiling, reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked. Remove the chicken from the heat and shred with two forks. Return the pot with the shredded chicken to the stove, add in the remaining chipotle sauce and heat over medium-high until the sauce reduces. Set aside.
[ 8 corn tortillas (4 or 6 inch wide) + vegetable oil ]
In a small frying pan over high heat, add about an inch of vegetable oil and heat to 375°F. Fry tortillas until golden and crispy, about 30 seconds per side. Drain on cooling racks or layers of paper towels.
PICKLED RED ONIONS:
[ 1 small red onion, halved and thinly sliced + 3/4 cup distilled white vinegar + 1 teaspoon salt ]
Put red onion in a small bowl with vinegar, 1/2 tsp. of the salt, and pepper. Set aside to marinate at least 30 minutes at room temperature or up to 1 week covered and chilled.
To assemble, divide the shredded chicken mixture among the tortillas, top each with avocado, tomato slices and a few drained pickled red onions each. Put a dollop of sour cream on top and sprinkle with chopped parsley. Serve with hot sauce.
After 13 days of sharing a bathroom with six others, a diet consisting of falafel breakfasts with chai, a platter of biryani or bukhari rice and curry lunches and a whole chicken freshly pulled off from the rotisserie, its juices seeping through the brown paper bag its put in, with chai, and dinners that are sometimes looked over, for we opted to pray in the courtyard of the المسجد الحرام where veiled ladies will throw at your lap small packages of dates of all known varieties - on some days they’re sticky and sweet, covered in sesame seeds and on some day, my personal favourite, those not yet fully ripe and has a pleasant bite with just enough sweetness as to not make you rush to the beige barrels of cold زمزم , walking 2km to and from the المسجد النبوي in the heat, I can safely say that there is no place like home.
Still, it is bittersweet to leave a place each with its own charms - Makkah with its bustling reverie that is truly a city that never sleeps. Madinah with its dream-like mosque with minarets that practically glow in daylight (not to mention the sliding domes and butterfly wing-like canopies that automatically expand during the scorching heat).
This is nothing new, but it is a nod to something we ate during our trip. 6 days into our eating habits we realized that drinking gallons of chai, eating simple carbohydrates and an opulence of protein can be a bit boring. So we opened a can of sardines in oil, emptied the contents into a frying pan with a buckload of chili peppers, waited for it to reduce and ate it with plain, steamed hot rice. A few slices of cucumbers and tomatoes were served on the side. It was simplicity at its best with a nutritional value to boot and so, so satisfying.
Today, nursing a head cold with mugs of mint green tea, I decided I wanted to eat this fiery concoction to flush out my system. Use sardines canned in oil and not in sauce if you can, because that way you can modify the spices and flavors to your liking. Having said that, if you happen to have a preference for sardine canned in sauces, then by all means use them. Use as little or much peppers as your palate can handle.
On a last note, tonight is the peak of the April Lyrids, if I’m not mistaken. Anyone watching the skies?
SARDINES FRIED RICE (serves 3-4):
[ 1-2 tins of sardine in chili oil, or in any sauce you like + 1-2 red hot chili peppers + 1/2 of a small tomato + 1 small onion + 2 cloves of garlic + a 1/2 inch piece of fresh ginger + 1 teaspoon lemon juice + 2 cups cooked white rice that’s been left overnight + 2 tablespoons soy sauce + 1 teaspoon sugar + any vegetables you like in fried rice - I recommend some peas, carrots and bell peppers + eggs + fresh parsley or spring onion for garnish ]
Chop any vegetables you’re planning to use into small, equal pieces. In a food processor, pulse the chili pepper, tomato, onion, garlic and ginger until you have a coarse paste. Set aside.
In a large nonstick pan over medium-high, heat a 1/2 tablespoon of the oil that comes with the sardine (if you’re using sardines canned in sauce, use a 1/2 tablespoon of vegetable oil) and saute the pulsed ingredients for 1-2 minutes.
Add in the tinned sardines and break it up with your spatula. Stir fry until the sardines pieces browns and become a bit toasty, about 5-10 minutes. Add in sugar and the vegetables you’re using. Stir fry for 1 minute until vegetables just soften before adding the cooked rice. Give it a stir and add in soy sauce and lemon juice. Toss and work the rice so that the grains are evenly coated in the sardine mixture.
Cook until rice is dry and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Fry some eggs and serve rice with over-easy eggs, chopped parsley or spring onion, a splash of chili oil and a lemon wedge on the side.
Here are the facts: I bought some green goods that I intended to use for recipes to post, but having your nose rubbed raw in revision books tend to chase away ideas and then slam you into a brick-wall that is writer’s block. So here I am, a day before my [meticulously scheduled] 13-day trip to Saudi Arabia (holla!), brushing up my Arabic mainly in preparation to place an order on the very, very delicious food they have over there (srsly guise) when an inner gong resonates and I realize I have a fridge-full of asparagus, parsley, scallions and a few green tomatoes that the gardeners unearthed from a tomato vine hidden behind the bushy terrains that is our back garden.
Shite. What to do, what to do?? I have to be honest, at first I thought of making a pot of kalgooksoo and then just slice the green onions to sprinkle on top. The asparagus I can just blanch and eat with eggs. The tomatoes for a salad - it is springtime after all, isn’t it? It was a sound idea, except that 5 stalks of green onion will make more than just a sprinkle, I hate the taste of blanched asparagus and…I’m just not in the springtime state of mind yet! I’d rather turn the tomatoes into hearty soups than eat them raw but time is running short. So I gave them all a whazzy whaz in the blender (ideally you should use a food processor) and made three pesto, all without pine nuts or basil. Is that sacrilege? Oh, I hope so. You can store these in the fridge for a few days or freeze them up to a couple of months. What I like to do is refrigerate them for a few hours to let the flavors marry, and then stick em in the fridge for an eternal union. All in all, pesto-fying saved the day and I can’t wait to smear some under the skin of a chicken and bake it to crispy oblivions when I get back. Toodles!
GREEN TOMATO PESTO:
[ 4 medium green tomatoes + 1/2 cup packed parsley leaves + 1/3 cup salted almonds + 2 cloves roasted garlic if you have them, or 1 clove of fresh garlic + 1/2 cup olive oil + salt and pepper to taste, but start with 1 teaspoon ]
Throw everything in the food processor and pulse until the ingredients achieve a uniform consistency, then whiz it until it reaches your preferred smoothness. This can be stored in the fridge for a couple of days or in the freezer for up to 6 months.
Great as: Dips, spreads for pizza and sammiches.
CHARRED SCALLION AND GINGER PESTO:
[ 5 bunches of scallion, trimmed and cut in half + 2 garlic cloves + 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, peeled + 1/2 cup olive oil + 1 teaspoon sesame oil + 1/4 cup sesame seeds ]
Heat a skillet or grill pan on medium-high. In a bowl, drizzle the scallions with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Season the scallions with sea salt and pepper, then sear or char until lightly caramelized at the edges and blackened in a few spots, about 3 minutes. Set aside to cool for 5-10 minutes.
Combine all of the ingredients in a food processor and and pulse until the ingredients achieve a uniform consistency, then whiz it until it reaches your preferred smoothness. Use immediately or store in the fridge for a couple of day or in the freezer up to 6 months.
Great with: Fish, chicken, rice, mashed tate’orrs.
[ 1 pound asparagus, trimmed and cut into 2-inch segments + 1/4 cup almonds + 1 clove garlic + 1/4 cup olive oil + 3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese + juice of 1/2 lemon ]
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the asparagus and cook until fully tender but not mushy, 8 to 10 minutes. Drain well, reserving some of the cooking liquid, and let the asparagus cool slightly.
Transfer the asparagus to a food processor and add the garlic, almonds, 2 tablespoons of the oil, parmesan, a pinch of salt and a couple of tablespoons of the cooking liquid. Process the mixture, stopping to scrape down the sides of the container if necessary, and gradually add the remaining oil and a bit more of the reserved cooking liquid to moisten if necessary. Add the lemon juice and season with salt and pepper to taste and pulse again until it reaches the consistency you prefer.
Great with: Pasta, fish, chicken - pretty much anything you can spread with pesto.
Can we just take a moment? Because I don’t think I’ve ever had someone rub their thumb against the middle finger so hard it makes a sound, at me. There just simply was a lack of ghettoliciousness where I went to school. So before I break out into the cup song by way of reply, let me say that YES, I’m sorry it took so long to write a shawarma post because you see, it’s very difficult to get shawarma (I downright refuse to spell it out as ”shwarma”) right in home kitchens.
When done right, a chicken shawarma consists of succulent, tangy chicken pieces shaved off a mothership stack of flattened chicken breasts that’s been marinated overnight in a carefully concocted mixture of tenderizing yogurt and spices, which is then roasted in a vertical spit that turns against a soft grilling fire. This fire is so, so soft that it merely kisses the meat. KISSES it. For HOURS. When done right, you’ll find pieces of grilled tomatoes that’s been cooked on the wide skillet that lies under the twirling mothership stack, Catching and tumbling in the rendered juices and fat. When done right, there is always a squirt of creamy toum; a pungent garlicky sauce that some might mistake as garlic mayonnaise. Never make that mistake. Like, ever.
When done right, there’s pieces of Lebanese pickles punctuating every bite; not too overpowering, but enough kick to show its presence. This is all completely wrapped (i.e. none of that incompletely-wrapped-because-there’s-too-much-filling or stuffed inside a split pita nonsense) inside the day’s pillowy khubz for easy handling, which as you can see I completely ignored because an all-wrapped up shawarma unfortunately isn’t very photogenic. Apologies. It’s all in the name of aesthetics, so make sure you wrap yours all snug and tight.
PS:To other foodwishers: You know the deal guys! Foodwishes here have no expiration date so I’ll get to them eventually. And for the anon who made a foodwish for Salbutes (new food!yay!), I’ll make ‘em once I locate a bag of masa harina. Peace out!
LEBANESE GARLIC SAUCE/DIP (serves 4-6)
[ 4-5 cloves of garlic, peeled + 1/4 cup vegetable oil + juice of 1/2 a lemon + a generous pinch of salt, about 1/4 teaspoon ]
Make sure that all the ingredients are at room temperature. Using a food processor or a pestle and mortar, mash the garlic and salt until it turns to a paste. Stop the processor and scrape garlic down the sides before running again, and repeat this process.
Keep the processor running before adding the vegetable oil, a teaspoon at a time until the mixture has emulsified. Add the lemon juice last and give it a final 20-second whiz before storing until needed. You can make this up to a week ahead and refrigerate it. Just make sure to bring it to room temperature before serving.
LEBANESE QUICK PICKLES:
[ 2 garlic cloves, peeled + 1 cup vinegar + 1/2 cup water + 1/2 cup sugar + 1 tablespoons kosher salt + 1/2 tablespoon each of peppercorns, mustard seed, celery seed and coriander seed + vegetables like carrots, cucumbers, green beans, peppers and hot peppers, washed and trimmed ]
In a small sauce pan, bring the vinegar, water, sugar, salt and spices to boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat; cool.
Cut the vegetables into bite size pieces. Pack a jar (or two) tightly with vegetables and garlic cloves. Ladle the vinegar solution into the jars to cover the vegetables. Screw the lids on and refrigerate for a whole day before serving. This can also be made a week ahead.
Cut each chicken breast horizontally so that each piece is about 1/2 an inch thick. If you have small breasts (cue the giggles), give it a good whack with a rolling pin so they’re all the same thickness. Mix all the marinating ingredients in a blender. Transfer the chicken pieces into a shallow container and coat well with the marinade. Cover and marinate in the fridge overnight.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
Place a griddle pan or a skillet on high heat until very hot. Cook the chicken pieces for 2 minutes on each side until brown. Transfer chicken to an oven tray and finish off in the oven for 4–6 minutes, or until cooked through and no pink meat remains. Remove and allow to rest for a few minutes before cutting the chicken into 1cm-thick slices. Drizzle one or two tablespoons of remaining juices from the tray over the meat. Keep warm
Then, ideally, you should cut the tomatoes to “a little bigger than bite-sized” pieces, toss it with the remaining juices in the tray and blast on the broiler until the tomatoes are just roasted.
To assemble, grab a pillowy pita and form a line of chicken pieces. Spread a thin layer of garlicky toum, line up some grilled tomatoes and pickled vegetables. You can add some shredded lettuce and sliced red onion if you please, but nothing more! Roll a good, tight one and eat. Immediately.
I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking mashed sweet potatoes. You’re thinking roasted beets. You’re thinking peas. You’re thinking soft patties that don’t hold well while cooking. You’re thinking patties that collapses as you give the buns a squeeze. You’re thinking patties that coat the back of your mouth. You’re not thinking about this burger. You see, unlike some veggie burgers recipe that comes out purely from wanting to eat healthy, where nutritional values takes precedence over taste and mushy red patties are an acceptable replacement for beef, this was concocted in the Serious Eats Food Lab. And there’s none of that nonsense happening there.
This patty is so flavorful you might opt for it instead of meaty goodness. There’s an abundance of texture at play; a touch of crisp on the outside, tender but firm on the inside. I used portobello instead of button mushrooms to give it an extra touch of umami and I think it was a pretty good call, but do refer to the original recipe for the complete list of ingredients. I also don’t have a food processor and pulsed the ingredients in my blender, so those without one have no excuse. This will seriously change your views about veggie burgers, and that’s the Winger guarantee.
VEGGIE BURGERS (tweaked from the original recipe by Serious Eats, makes 8 patties)
[ 1 1/2 pounds portobello mushrooms, trimmed and chopped into halves + 1/4 cup canola or vegetable oil + Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper + 6 thyme sprigs + 1 whole small eggplant (about 1/2 pound) + 1 large onion, chopped + 1 large celery rib, chopped fine (about 1/2 cup) + 1 medium clove garlic, minced + 3/4 cup dry lentils + 1 (14-ounce) can garbanzo beans, drained and patted dry on paper towels + 1/4 cup all-purpose flour + 2 teaspoons baking powder + 1 teaspoon Maggi seasoning + 1 cup toasted almonds + 1 teaspoon soy sauce + 1 1/2-cups panko bread crumbs ]
Preheat the oven to 350°F. In a large bowl, toss mushrooms with 1 tablespoon oil and season to taste with salt and pepper. Coat eggplant with another tablespoon olive oil and season to taste with salt and pepper. Wrap eggplant with heavy duty aluminum foil. Transfer mushrooms and eggplant to a foil-lined rimmed baking sheet. Scatter thyme over mushrooms. Bake in the middle rack, turning mushrooms and wrapped eggplant occasionally until mushrooms are dark brown and eggplant is completely tender (test with a cake tester or thin skewer), about 35-40 minutes. If you find that the mushrooms are cooking faster than the eggplant, then take those out and leave the eggplant cooking a little longer. Remove from oven, unwrap eggplant, and set aside to cool.
While mushrooms and eggplant roast, heat remaining two tablespoons oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add onion and celery and cook, stirring and tossing occasionally, until completely softened but not browned, about 4 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Transfer mixture to a medium bowl and set aside to cool.
Place lentils in a pot and cover with water by 2 inches. Stir once then place over high heat. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally, until lentils are completely tender, about 20 minutes. Drain completely, patting with paper towels until dry and transfer into a large bowl.
Add half of garbanzo beans to the bowl of a food processor along with flour, baking powder, soy sauce, Maggi seasoning and half of eggplant (reserve remaining eggplant for another use). Process until a smooth paste forms, scraping down sides as necessary. Transfer mixture to the bowl with lentils. Pulse remaining chickpeas in food processor until beans are chopped to about the size of a lentil (5 to 6 short bursts), scraping down sides as necessary. Transfer to bowl with lentil mixture. Chop almonds in the food processor the same way and add to lentil mix.
When mushrooms are cool, add to bowl of food processor and pulse until finely chopped but still coarse in texture, about 8 to 10 short pulses. Add to lentil mix. When onions and celery are cool, transfer to food processor. Chop with 8 to 10 short pulses and add to lentil mix. Using bare hands or a spatula, stir together mixture until completely homogenous. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Mixture can be refrigerated and stored for up to 5 days at this point or frozen in an airtight freezer bag for up to 3 months.
When you’re ready to serve the burgers, Add breadcrumbs to mixture and work them in with your hands. Make a sample patty. It should have the texture of ground beef and hold together easily. If not, add water a tablespoon at a time until it comes together. Divide mixture into eight patties about 4-inches across and 1/2 an inch thick. Patties must be cooked within 30 minutes of adding breadcrumbs.
Heat three tablespoons of vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add four patties and cook without moving until first side is well-browned, about 3 minutes. Flip burgers and top with cheese (if desired) and cook until second side is browned and cheese is melted, about 3 minutes longer. Transfer to a toasted bun and serve with condiments as desired.
For once, I’m going to tell you not to make this unless you really, really want to. Actually, unless you really really want to and own a mandolin. I spent a considerable amount of time sitting in front of my laptop twirling three ginormous carrots in my hand, contemplating whether or not I should make this. You see the thing is, I have this compulsion to do things that should not be done with food (need I remind you of the feta frosting? That’s what I thought). This recipe was meant for potatoes, thinly sliced by mandolins and painted with butter before stacked on top of another with a delicate herb sandwiched in between. I have potatoes in the fridge, yes I do, but I wanted to see if it would work just as well with carrots.
Never mind that I really don’t have time for this, never mind that I don’t have all the necessary tools (parchment paper? pfft, haven’t seen that in this kitchen in almost a month), never mind that it could’ve ended up in disaster with me eating limp carrot chips for the remainder of the week while crying over revision books. Suck it, I thought. Studying always gives me the munchies and unfortunately, despite how much I wanted to I can’t just dive head first, mouth-open at that bag of yogurt & herb salt flavored chips, just sitting there enticing me with its evils. Those salt and MSG man, they mess with your brain (a bit hypocritical coming from a self-proclaimed instant noodle enthusiast, I know. I KNOW) and I need all the brain cells I can get to get through this period of solemnity (read: hell) a.k.a USMLE prep. That in itself was worth the risk so I marched into the kitchen and armed myself with a vegetable peeler, a piece of aluminum foil and the promises of failure.
Only it wasn’t. It actually worked, against all odds. It did leave me very slightly tired but the end results? It was magnificent. Crisp, lemony and sweet. Slightly chewy in the middle parts. Was it worth the work? Probably not. But as I always say at the end of my culinary experiments - at least now I know it can be done.
LAMINATED CARROT CHIPS (recipe slightly adapted from the ever fabulous, ever angry, Mandy Lee):
[ 3 large carrots + 3 tablespoons butter, melted + 1 tablespoon olive oil + salt & black pepper + dried thyme, in my case, or any fresh delicate herbs you like ]
Disclaimer:I’m going to write this as if I own a mandolin; it’ll be easier for all of us and will save me the trouble of telling the part of the story where I accidentally shaved a piece of skin off my left index knuckle with the vegetable peeler. Oh. Oops.
I’m also not going to write how I used aluminum foil instead of parchment paper, for the sake of not being a bad influence (dear, oh dear).
Preheat the oven on 300ºF/150ºC. Take two baking sheets of the same size and preheat it in the oven as well.
Fill a shallow pan with a big pinch of salt and water, stir to let the salt dissolve. Peel the carrots and cut across in half. Cut each of the halves in half again, lengthwise. Use a mandolin and attach the carrots to the hand guard (safety first), cut side facing the mandolin blade. Cut the carrots to long, paper thin slices.
Keep the slices in the correct order/sequence so they’ll match in shape/size later. Every time you finish shaving a small stack, carefully move the stack into the salt-water pan to submerge. Repeat until the whole carrot is shaved.
Melt the unsalted butter in a small pot over medium-high heat until very slightly browned. Take it off from the heat and combine with the olive oil. Set aside. Wash whatever herbs you’re using and dry thoroughly with a clean kitchen towel. I used some dried wild thyme here which has a very nice lemony-scent to it. Set aside. Keep another clean, dry kitchen towel by the carrot-slices for easy drying.
Lay a piece of parchment paper that’s the size of the baking-sheet you’re using on the counter, and brush very lightly with the melted butter. Starting with the very first stack of carrot-slices, lay one slice flat on the kitchen towel and gently press the other side of the towel on top to dab it dry. Then lay the slice on top of the parchment paper, and place 1 small leaf of whatever herbs you’re using in the center. Dab/dry another potato-slice and place it right on top of the other (they should match in shape/size). Use your finger to gently push out as much air-pockets in between the slices as you can. Brush the top very lightly with melted butter. Repeat with the rest of the slices and leave about 1″ (2.5 cm) of space in between each.
Lay another piece of same-sized parchment paper on top and press gently to eliminate air. Place the entire thing on the preheated baking-sheet. Press the other baking-sheet on top to keep it flat. Bake in the oven for 15 ~ 20 min, checking every 10 minutes or so, until the chips are golden browned. If the chips aren’t browned yet, remove the top sheet and bake for another 5 min.
7 years ago today, I had a double birthday celebration with my Biology teacher. In a cafe in a remote village of Kritou Terra, where the air always smell like oranges and the population seems to consist of elders that wake up with the sun and sleep when the streetlight turns on.
“καλημέρα!" is shouted with a wave whenever we pass these elders on our way to the study center in the morning, and "Καληνύχτα!" on the way back to our lodges (one of us said the former once, which drew amused looks), a little past 9pm. Dinner was memorable, to say the least. Chef Mario would bring out a huge bowl of a simple salad of shredded lettuce, carrots and, introducing itself to my untrained palate, fragrant, crisp shredded fennel bulbs. All tossed in what I can only guess is some salt, lemon and olive oil. This was followed by thick slabs of lasagna on some nights, spaghetti and stuffed baked tomatoes on others. Among the six girls on the trip, two were strong eaters. I was one of them, obviously. The other one sat next to me here; cute as a button, appetite of a Roman warrior - in the best way. Somehow we’re always the last one to finish off the food, because Mario refuses to take up the dishes otherwise.
On the evening of my birthday, my thighs burned from walking uphill for 2 hours from the river stream we’ve been collecting our data in, but a friend forced me into a pair of her black jeans and a white crocheted top my Mother sneaked into my suitcase, just in case I “needed to look nice”. They practically dragged me into the cafe where they made me sit at the head of the table (my head was also on the table - 2 hours of walking uphill for 3 days straight will do that to you) and I just wanted to eat monstrous amount of food and sleep, when out came Mario with a beautiful, albeit simple, cake. With candles. And happy birthday written on it for me and my Biology teacher (who didn’t have to dress up), who had his birthday 2 days ago. It was a birthday surprise I’ve never hoped for, and glad to have had. We feasted on grilled chicken and rice pilaf with vermicelli. And chocolate cake, of course. I didn’t know then what Mario put in that chicken, but I think I do now. He was, at the end of the day, all for simple ingredients and big flavors. Come relive that memory with me.
SHAVED FENNEL with LEMON AND PARSLEY SALAD (serves 4):
[ 3 medium sized fennel bulbs + 2 tablespoons chopped flat leaf parsley + 1/2 a lemon, juice and zest + 1/2 of a small red onion + 4 kalamata olives, pitted and chopped + 3 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil + 1/2 teaspoon sugar + salt and pepper to taste ] OPTIONAL: a 1/4 cup of feta, crumbled.
Slice the red onion thinly and soak it in a bowl of water for 15 minutes to mellow it out.
Meanwhile, if you have a mandolin in your possession, break it out and slice the fennel thinly with it. If you don’t then use a knife to cut the fennel bulb in half from top to bottom and then slicing it as thinly as you can crosswise.
Combine the onion, fennel, parsley and olives in a bowl. Add the fennel fronds if you’ve saved them as well. Add in the zest and juice of a lemon and sugar and toss to coat. Add the olive oil just before serving. Season with salt and pepper. Crumble the feta on top, if using.
LEMON THYME GRILLED CHICKEN (serves 4):
[ 4 chicken thighs, or any part you like + 2 tablespoons olive oil + 1 tablespoon lemon juice + 1 tablespoon dried thyme + 4 cloves of garlic, minced + 1/2 teaspoon salt ]
Combine oil, lemon juice, thyme, salt and and garlic in a small bowl. Plate chicken in a shallow baking dish and cover with mixture. Let sit in the refrigerator for at least an hour.
Preheat the grill, and place the chicken on grill and cook for 6-8 minutes per side, or until the juices run clear. Alternatively, you can cook this in the oven at 350F for about 25-30 minutes. I had some leftover marinade so I cut up a potato into wedges and tossed those into the marinade, added a bit more pepper and olive oil and roasted it in a separate pan along with the chicken. Turn on the broiler on low for an additional 3 minutes for some crisping action.
VERMICELLI RICE PILAF (serves 4):
[ 1 oz vermicelli + 1 tablespoon unsalted butter + 1 tablespoon olive oil + 1/2 small onion, chopped + 1 cup long grain rice + 2 cups low sodium broth + parsley for garnish ]
Break the vermicelli into 1-inch pieces. In a medium saucepan, heat the butter and olive oil over medium high heat. Add onion and saute while stirring until it turns a bit brown, maybe even a bit too brown for comfort (but not burnt!). This is okay. This is going to give the rice some colour. Add the pasta and rice and cook while stirring frequently for 30 seconds. Add broth and bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat to low and simmer until the liquid is absorbed, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand for 5 minutes. Add parsley and fuff pilaf with a fork.
Yo. Somebody better tell me real quick that you can clearly see the Pi symbol here or else I’m gonna walk and make no mistake, I’m taking my pie with me. My sister kept saying that you can’t see it so somebody better verify my craftsmanship with broken shards of caramel.
In any case, there is half a carrot cake with feta frosting, a quarter of a sister’s birthday chocolate mousse cake, a few boxes of Choco Pie, a tray of 36 Ferrero Rocher chocolate balls, and a few tins of Quality Street chocolates from birthday gifts so we clearly don’t need any more sweets or desserts in this house. And that’s just swell, except for the fact that today is Pi day! And if the calendar says you have to make and/or eat pie, you shall make and/or eat pie. It’s all for the commemoration of Mathematics, guises. Long live pies!
ICE CREAM PIE (serves 10-12, downsize accordingly):
[ 1 18oz package of oreos + 1/2 cup or 1 stick of butter, melted + 1 cup sugar + 2 tablespoons flour + 1/2 cup cocoa powder + 1 cup milk + 1 tablespoon butter + 1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract + your favorite ice cream ] OPTIONAL: 1/4 teaspoon instant coffee granules.
Using a food processor, crush the cookies until it becomes crumbs. Add the melted butter and press into the bottom of a round pie pan (I lined mine with some cling film because I wanted to serve it outside the pan. Totally optional). Freeze for about 1 hour. Alternatively, you can put the cookies in a ziploc bag and crush it to smithereens with a rolling pin, whichever works for you.
While the crust is chilling, make the chocolate fudge. In a medium bowl, whisk together the sugar, flour, cocoa powder and instant coffee granules, if using. Heat the milk, butter and vanilla over medium heat until the butter has melted. Add dry ingredients to the milk mixture while constantly whisking. Bring to a boil, constantly stirring until thick and smooth, about 5 minutes. Set aside to cool.
Take out the ice cream 10 minutes before the crust is ready to soften and be easier to spread. Take out the crust, add scoops of your favorite flavor ice and smooth over the crust. You can literally put any flavor you like; strawberry cheesecake, mint & chocolate chip, feta ice cream, coffee ice cream (yum!), mango ice cream (double yum with chocolate, I swear!). We only had a tub of boring old vanilla, buried under a bag of frozen strawberries and the grapes I stashed in the freezer for smoothies, so I dug that out and mixed it with some peanut butter and leftover oreo crumbs from the crust.
You can pour the fudge on top of the ice cream layer now or chill the ice cream pie until it sets and then pour the fudge on top, whichever floats your boat.
Leave it to set for at least 4 hours. You can serve it as it is, or decorate it any way you like. I made some almond pralines and scattered it on top for some extra pizzazz. Cut into slices and serve immediately.
I love you guys. But you shouldn’t have told me not to do it. Actually, even if you told me to do it I would’ve done it. It’s a catch 22. But with every “Nay! Do noth do it!” warning, I was cackling maniacally while thinking about how to make feta palatable enough in a frosting. Let’s take a walk.
The first and obvious step was to find a recipe for a carrot cake that’s foolproof and delicious. This is crucial since this cake is going to be the savior of this experiment. Cue Sally’s Baking Addiction's recipe for carrot cake, with a few tweaks:
[ 1 cup brown sugar, packed + 3/4 cup vegetable oil + 1/4 cup regular yogurt, plain or vanilla + 3 large eggs + 2 teaspoons vanilla extract + 2 cups all-purpose flour + 1 teaspoon baking soda + 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon + 2 cups very finely grated carrots + 3/4 cup pecan pieces ]
Preheat oven to 350F degrees. Spray a 9 or 10 inch springform pan with nonstick cooking spray. Sally doesn’t recommend using a regular circular or square baking pan since the cake might rise above - which to be honest didn’t quite matter to me, since I didn’t have a springform pan AND can’t find any circular cake pan. So I had to use the next best thing:
What’s that, you ask? Why, it’s my mother’s jello mold made out of metal. Greased it, floured it. Set it aside.
In a large bowl with a handheld or stand mixer on medium speed (My mixer was missing a beater attachment, just sayin’), combine the brown sugar and oil. Beat in the yogurt until fully combined - about 60 seconds. Mixture will be gritty and thick. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Mix in the vanilla. Set aside.
In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking soda and cinnamon. With a spatula, manually stir the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until just combined and all flour pockets are gone - do not overmix.
Fold in the finely shredded carrots and pecan pieces. Speaking of pecan pieces, I didn’t have any on hand. But what I do have is close enough - a packet of airplane assorted nuts! There was cashew, almonds, pistachio and candied fruits. I took out the candied watermelon - those do nothing for cake aesthetics, and pretty much pulverized them - with my knife, for “volume”. Then I realized I should save half to put on top of the finished cake, so I only put maybe a 1/4 cup of nuts into the batter.
Pour into prepared springform pan. Bake cake for 32-38 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Do not overbake, which will dry out cake. Check the cake at 30 minutes, then again at 32. My cake took around 35 minutes.
While the cake is baking, it’s time to make the frosting (oh yeah).
Now I started out with 200 gr of feta cheese and a few triangles of soft cheddar. I could’ve used the cheddar, I suppose, but that would go against my principles.
So in goes the 200 gr of feta into a bowl - I knew I wanted to use all of it. It’s all or nothing, babes. I tasted a bit of it just to gauge the amount of sugar needed. The thing that came to mind when I tasted it was “Brine! Pickles!" - it was so, so salty, so I added 150 gr of icing sugar, 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract and then I beat it with a mixer. At least, I tried to beat it to combine, because the feta was bit hard and won’t budge. I coaxed it with a spoon by smushing it around a bit before using the mixer. When it was smooth-ish, I added 150 ml of [very] COLD heavy cream and just kept mixing at medium speed until it became thick and frosting like.
Then it was time to taste and adjust. It tasted alright at first lick, but then the sweetness disintegrate to leave a mouthful of pungent, salty taste. So I added another 50 gr of icing sugar, another 50 ml of cold heavy cream and another teaspoon of vanilla. Mix again.
It didn’t taste that bad. Sure, it doesn’t taste like your regular cream cheese frosting, but it doesn’t scream “BRINE! PICKLES!” either. I decided it’ll have to do and put it in the fridge to chillax. Meanwhile, cake’s done!
I detected some underbaking in the middle, but for now it’ll have to do. I set it aside to cool completely before turning it out because I wasn’t even sure if it will come out intact from the pan.
It did, and beautifully too. I got the frosting out of the fridge and it was the moment of truth. It spreads out alright, not too thick, not too thin. But 200 gr was a mighty amount of cheese, so there was a LOT of leftover. Are you thinking what I’m thinking? Because I’m thinking FETA CHEESECAKE! Just kidding. Maybe.
Anyways, the frosting is on and the chopped nuts are sprinkled on. Time to taste the cake.
It wasn’t….bad. Surprisingly. Definitely not as bad as you think it would be. It’s good, but not cream cheese good. I think the cake made up for whatever the frosting is lacking, and I’m glad I left out the salt in the cake batter. All in all, I thought it was a good experiment. At least now I know you can definitely use feta when you’re in a pinch. Actually, more like if you’re a rat stuck between two bookcases. A fat rat. In a very narrow space. In any case, here’s the recipe for the frosting:
FETA FROSTING (oh yeah):
[ 100gr feta cheese, crumbled + 100 to 150gr icing sugar + 1 to 1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract + 100 to 150 ml cold heavy cream ]
In a bowl, beat together the crumbled feta and sugar until combined. Add in the vanilla extract and beat again for 30 seconds. Add in the cold heavy cream and beat until smooth and thick. Refrigerate until needed.
Put on carrot cake and serve. Enjoy!
EDIT: Refrigerate cake overnight before serving! I just tried another slice after it’s been sitting 2 hours in the fridge and it tasted way better. Perhaps refrigeration will improve its taste.
PS: I tried looking up posts with “feta frosting” tag, but in vain.
So I’m going to add that tag to this post with “feta frosting”, just in case someone else is curious enough.
PSS: Thank you to those who answered! Without your ”Aye!(s)” or “Nay!(s)”, it wouldn’t have happened. Thanks again, guys!
Isn’t food wonderful? If you had told me a week ago that I’d be having radish as more than just mere slices of garnish in my noodles or pickled in strong vinegar, I’d be laughing. I hate the stuff. Yet now I’m scooping it up with toasted bread and pretty much inhaling it down my trap.
I don’t think much else can change your mind about itself like food does. Take this for example: I’m deathly afraid of snakes. So much that if I see a large picture of one in books, I’d scream. Internally. Then I saw this. Yep. Still scared shitless. Every single time I swim in a lake I’m reminded of the Loch Ness Monster, and that under my unsuspecting feet could be a behemoth taking a leisurely swim. Every single time I’m above two storeys, my hand starts sweating. You get the point.
But this. This roasted radish on top of toast topped with feta and egg. This is wonderful. Roasting makes the crispy, bitter little buggers mellow with the texture of potatoes and tastes like roasted turnips. I tossed it with a dressing slightly resembling a bagna cauda sans capers. Sans anchovies. Sans pepper flakes too because I haven’t got any and it still it was good. Try it, it might also change your mind.
BREAKFAST RADISH ON TOAST (serves 4):
[ A bunch of radish + 4 shallots + 3 tablespoon olive oil + 1 tablespoon butter + 4-5 large garlic cloves + 1 tablespoon kalamata olives, pitted and chopped + 1 tablespoon lemon juice + 4 ounces of feta + 1 teaspoon thyme + 4 slices of bread + 4 eggs + salt and pepper to taste ] OPTIONAL: 1 tablespoon of honey.
See here, how much “a bunch” is depends on how much you like radish in the first place. Get the stems trimmed and cut radishes in half. If your radishes are pretty big, quarter them. Peel and hallve the shallots.
Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat for 2 minutes. Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil and 1 tablespoon of butter. Arrange radishes and shallots in a single layer and cook without moving until light brown on one side. Shake the skillet and reduce the heat to medium and continue cooking until radishes are tender, about 5-10 minutes.
In a small skillet over low heat, add the rest of olive oil, garlic, olives and lemon juice. If you’ve got them, also add a tablespoon each of capers and anchovies, half a teaspoon of pepper flakes will take this to new heights. Slowly cook for 8-10 minutes. The garlic should be soft and falling apart, but not brown.
Toast the bread and cook the eggs the way you like them. Brush the bread with some of the garlic-olive oil mixture. Tip the roasted radish into the garlic-olive oil mixture, add honey if using, and season to taste with salt and pepper, adding lemon juice if needed.
Spoon the radish on top of the toasted bread, crumble some feta on top and top with the eggs. Serve immediately.
Making Baked Baguette French Toast with Blackberry Sauce
So early it's still almost dark out.
I'm near the window with coffee,
and the usual early morning stuff
that passes for thought.
When I see the boy and his friend
walking up the road
to deliver the newspaper.
They wear caps and sweaters,
and one boy has a bag over his shoulder.
They are so happy
they aren't saying anything, these boys.
I think if they could, they would take
each other's arm.
It's early in the morning,
and they are doing this thing together.
They come on, slowly.
The sky is taking on light,
though the moon still hangs pale over the water.
Such beauty that for a minute
death and ambition, even love,
doesn't enter into this.
Happiness. It comes on
unexpectedly. And goes beyond, really,
any early morning talk about it.
- Raymond Carver
BAKED BAGUETTE FRENCH TOAST with BLACKBERRY SAUCE (recipe from Dash and Bella, serves 4):
[ 1 stale baguette + 3 tablespoons butter + 3 eggs + 2 cups whole milk + 2 teaspoons vanilla extract + 2 tablespoons orange juice + 1 teaspoon orange zest + + 3 tablespoons brown sugar + powdered sugar for dusting + 2 tablespoons sugar + 1 tablespoon water + 3 cups blueberries or blackberries + 1 tablespoon lemon juice + kosher salt ]
Preheat oven to 375°F.
Trim 1/2 inch off of each end of the baguette (I ended up using the ends to fill my baking dish) and slice baguette in half. Cut into 4-5″ long pieces. Place bread cut-side up (don’t overlap them) in an ovenproof dish and butter the top of each piece.
Whisk the eggs in a bowl. Add the milk, vanilla extract, orange juice/zest, and salt. Whisk until foamy and pour over bread. Flip the pieces around every 10 minutes or so for 30 minutes in total to make sure both sides are soaking up the liquid. After the 30 minutes of flipping, you can also leave it overnight if you want to. It will have a soft, souffle texture when baked. The bread should be resting in a small pool of the liquid but not drowning in it. You might need to pour off a few tablespoons of the liquid if the bread doesn’t soak most of it up.
Meanwhile, make the blackberry sauce. Place sugar and water in a medium-sized saucepan. Cook over medium heat. Swirl it around by the pot handle to keep it cooking evenly. When it starts to smoke and turn light brown, toss in the blueberries. Stir until blueberries have released their juices (2-3 minutes). Take off the heat and stir in the salt and lemon juice. Let cool for 10 minutes. Set aside to cool completely
Make sure all pieces are cut-side up. Sprinkle brown sugar all over the top. Bake until the bread is puffed up and golden (30-40 minutes). You might need to throw it under the broiler for optimum crispy crunchy caramelized beauty. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve with blackberry sauce or other toppings you like.
When I was doing the internal medicine rotation one of the attendings was actually my first cousin, twice removed. I had a Nephrotic Syndrome patient at the time and I thought I’ve known everything there is to know about his disease. The theory, the patient history, his daily fluid balance, his current weight and waist circumference. In came this attending, sauntering by his bedside and what did she ask? “How many grams of protein is he allowed for his meals?”
Stumped. And about dietary needs too, ironically. The devil’s in the details. It really is.
I have noodles in my nostrils. I have noodles on my nose. There are noodles on my cheeks and chin and dripping down my clothes
I've got more upon my forehead. Some are sticking to my neck. It's completely disconcerting. I'm a noodle-covered wreck.
I can see them on my kneecaps, and I know they're in my shoes. (When I stand they're somewhat squishy and I feel them start to ooze.)
There are several in my pockets. There's a handful in my hair And I'm pretty sure that some are even in my underwear.
So try not to do what I did (I'm a total nincompoop), and don't ever fall asleep while eating chicken noodle soup.
- Kenn Nesbitt.
Thankfully this isn’t chicken noodle soup, but it will warm you up nonetheless.
KAKIAGE SOBA NOODLES (serves 2):
[ 1 medium carrot, cut into matchsticks + 1 small onion, sliced thinly + 3-4 green beans, cut into thirds, then cut the thirds into halves + 1 green onion, sliced lengthwise thinly + 1/4 cup all purpose flour, sifted + 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon rice flour or cornstarch + 1/2 cup ice cold water + 1 egg + 1/4 teaspoon baking powder + 1/2 teaspoon salt + + vegetable oil for frying + 2 bundles of soba noodles + 4 tablespoons Mizkan (bonito flavored) soup base + 3 cups of water + 3 radishes, sliced + 2 green onions, sliced thinly + 1/2 cup of pre-cooked or canned sweet corn + 2 egg yolks + dried seaweed, for garnish ]
Prepare the soup broth by heating up the water and bring it to boil. Add the bonito flavored soup base and boil for one minute. Add in the sweet corn (if you’re using canned sweet corn, drain and give it a good rinse with water) and the sliced green onion. Set aside.
Cook the soba noodles until al dente, about 5 minutes. Drain and set aside in a bowl.
Heat the vegetable oil in frying pan to 350F.
In a bowl, sift the cup all purpose flour and baking powder. Add in the 1/4 cup rice flour and salt. In another bowl, gently beat the egg with the ice cold water. Stir dry ingredients into wet ingredients until just combined. The batter can be a little lumpy but it should be slightly runny.
Add the vegetables into a bowl. Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon rice flour and coat the ingredients. Pour the batter over the ingredients and mix.
When the oil reaches 350F, take a scoop of the ingredients with a mesh sieve or spider catcher and let the excess batter drip off. Slowly slide the ingredients into oil. Keep the ingredients from separating by gathering them together with a chopstick during frying. Deep fry until golden-brown and put into a cooling rack (not paper towels!). Repeat with remaining mixture.
Reheat the soup broth. Divide the noodles into two bowls and ladle with the hot broth. Top with egg yolks, sliced radishes and the deep fried kakiage. Garnish with sliced green onions and dried seaweed. Serve immediately.
Making Brown Butter Shrimp Spaghetti with Dandelion Greens
For someone who cooks food, talks (in sleep too, apparently, as verified by the Sister) food, dreams food and eats [a whole lot of] food, there are a lot of staple ingredients I have yet to taste; kale, canned anchovies, watercress, ricotta cheese, capers, all dried herbs save for oregano and basil, butter beans, dandelion greens. Sometimes I convince myself that I know what these ingredients taste like, based on hours of procrastinating, when I should be studying reading and extensive research. And in my head these informations stay, until one day when I finally taste the real thing.
As it happens to be, our small patch of garden is of the unruly sort. I think the last patron of the house had a green thumb, since there were already an eggplant patch and a papaya tree, if I’m not mistaken, when we took the place. Alas, it is now a weedy affair, with bushes I can’t identify threatening to take over. Weeds have grown through the cracks in the pathway and I saw a yellow flower that reminded me of younger days, blowing dandelion seeds across the wind. Now I’ve read one or two Kinfolk magazine to know that they’re edible, but what does it taste like?
Bitter. That’s a common word in all my searched results. Boil it twice, they say, to leech off the bitterness. Pair it with rich flavors, they say, cheese, bacon, cream, egg, bacon fat and more cheese. Perfect, I say, a new ingredient to cook in hearty ingredients to taste and commit to memory.
BROWN BUTTER SHRIMP SPAGHETTI with DANDELION GREENS (serves 4) :
[ 1 lb whole wheat spaghetti + 1 lb large shrimp, cleaned and deveined + 8 tablespoons of unsalted butter + 2-3 rashers of turkey bacon (or bacon) + 2 cups fresh dandelion greens, torn into 1” pieces + 4 cloves of garlic + 3 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley + 1 teaspoon chopped red chili + juice of 1 lemon + 3/4 cup panko, or regular bread crumbs + 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg + 1/3 to 1/2 cup parmesan cheese ]
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta al-dente according to the package instructions.
In another pot, heat water to a boil and cook the dandelion greens for 5 minutes. Drain, and cook again in a new pot of water for another 4 minutes. Rinse with cold water and set aside.
Meanwhile, melt 1 tablespoons of butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Chop the bacon and add to the skillet and brown. Take it out and set aside. Remove oil and fat until you have about two tablespoons left. Add in the breadcrumbs, nutmeg and 1 tablespoon of parsley. Stir occasionally until golden brown, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a bowl.
In another skillet, heat the remaining tablespoons of butter over medium heat. When the butter melts and begins to foam, give it a good whisk and add in the garlic and chopped red chili. Keep whisking until the butter begins to bubble and brown flecks begin to form at the bottom of the pan, about 5-8 minutes. Add in the shrimp and cook until they just turn pink. Add in the parsley and lemon juice and stir. Add in the dandelion greens and turn the heat to low.
Drain the pasta and toss it into the butter-shrimp mixture. Stir to combine, making sure all the pasta is coated in brown butter. Throw in the bacon and toss again. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Divide into plates and top with breadcrumbs and Parmesan cheese. Serve warm.
I’ve lost love which was fine, but realizing that it won’t ever come back in the form of friendship makes me sad. I’ve lost a feline companion to old age. He once sat with me while I challenge myself to see how much caffeine I can consume in one go (a large mug of black coffee and a large bar of dark chocolate affair that left me throwing up with a side of throbbing headache when the caffeine crashed). We’ve just gotten out of the woods with my mother’s illness and are now back home safely after two flights that were delayed. Twice. It’s exhausting and for the past few weeks it has gotten harder and harder to cook anything worthwhile. Until yesterday, when I found the kitten that used to hang around the house before we took off for the 17 day treatment. It has grown now. Sturdier, its meows less raspy. But still hesitant and eyes me with distrust, even with my rapidly blinking eyes and crouched stance next to the eggplant patch it cowers itself in.
I went inside and looked at the stacks of cans of tuna we left for the housekeeper to feed my old feline friend. I picked one of up pulled the tags and as I did, it felt like everything’s going to start to be okay. Why mourn things you cannot change? There is a perfectly ripe eggplant waiting to be picked, a scared and hungry kitten waiting to be fed and loved. A sliced olive salad in paprika oil from a salad bar last night waiting to mingle in a stew. I’ve left the candied ginger aside for another time and ice creams begone (for now, at least); I can’t keep up the fruity, cheerful charade. It’s time for some real cooking. I’m back, and I’m planning to make it worthwhile.
MORROCAN CHICKEN WITH EGGPLANT RAGOUT (adapted from this recipe, serves 4)
[ 3 tablespoons olive oil + 1 1 /2 pounds chicken legs, or any cuts you like + 2 small or 1 medium eggplant + 1 small onion + 4 cloves of garlic + 1/4 cup water or low sodium broth + 1 can (14 1/2 ounces) diced tomatoes with juices, or the same amount of chopped fresh tomatoes + 1/4 cup chopped or sliced green olives + 2 1/2 tablespoon lemon juice + 1 teaspoon sugar + 2 tablespoon minced parsley + salt + ground black pepper ]
Cut the eggplants and onion into cubes and mince the garlic. In a bowl, season the chicken with 1/2 teaspoon each of salt and black pepper and 1/2 tablespoon lemon juice. Toss to coat.
Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and heat 2 tablespoon of olive oil. Add the chicken, skin side down, and cook for 8-10 minutes per side, turning once. Remove the chicken and set aside in a plate. Drain off excess fat until you have only 2 tablespoons left.
Add eggplant cubes to the pan and cook until almost tender, about 5 minutes. Add remaining olive oil, onion and garlic. Cook for another 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Increase the heat to high and add water or stock to the pan. Scrape up any browned bits and add in the the tomatoes, lemon juice and sliced olives. Season to taste and place the chicken top. Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat to medium-low. Cover and simmer for 35 minutes.
Sprinkle with chopped parsley and cut a lemon wedge or two to serve on the side.
Serve immediately with bread or oven chips. Enjoy!