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Friday, April 30, 2004

I have a couple of food-related things to share today.

First, I had a wonderful sandwich for dinner last night. Grilled Tillamood cheddar (makes me homesick) with organic tomato slices on Zingerman's 8-grain 3-seed bread (Thank you, Stresch and Emilin!). It was amazing.

Then, for lunch today I had an Amy's meal. These are generally pretty good, so I tried something new: Mattar Paneer. I was skeptical--I love Indian food, but how good can it be out of a box? Well, in this case it was QUITE good. I'd highly recommend it.

I eat convenience food for lunch. It's that or go out--I just have a block about making lunch. So Amy's really is a wondeful, wonderful thing.

Thursday, April 29, 2004

Okay, maybe I'll vote for him instead of Kucinich
From the Detroit Free Press:

(Michigan Governor Jennifer) Granholm accompanied Kerry from the event to Zingerman's Deli, a culinary landmark in Ann Arbor. There, Kerry chatted with staff and ordered takeout brownies, potato salad and a half-pound of soffresappa, an Italian sausage he held up for photographers.

Wednesday, April 28, 2004

Favorite kitchen appliance: Food processor (a small one from Krups), esp. now that we can wash it in the dishdrawers. I really love the dishdrawers more, but I thought I should give a cooking-based answer.
Favorite kitchen implement: lemon zester, garlic press
Three basics my cooking can't live without: olive oil, garlic, a good saute pan.
Things that are worth the extra $$: Organic produce delivered to my garage, good knives, yummy cheese
Things that are not worth the extra $$: prepared salad dressing, cookies that I didn't bake, fancy-shmancy canned tuna
Things missed most when they are out of season: tomatoes, corn, asparagus.
Things I get really tired of seeing in the grocery store: I actually rarely go, but I think my answer would be "hungry, tired shoppers, esp. those with hungry, tired children." But if we're talking food items, it would be dessicated fruit. It makes me laugh.
I avoid at all costs: meat
My favorite celebrity chef is: Deborah Madison
My favorite cooking show is: the only one I've watched more than once is Iron Chef. However, there are so few editions of the show that feature foods that I eat, and the dubbing is annoying, so I don't watch it often.

Tuesday, April 27, 2004

I can't believe I forgot to mention how much I love my rice cooker and salad spinner. I have so many gadgets and things, but I use them. I do! Okay, maybe not the garlic press, but the rest of it.

Monday, April 26, 2004

Stresch Weighs In


Favorite kitchen appliance: Kitchen Aid stand mixer
Favorite kitchen implement: Oxo peeler, microplane zester, chef's knife
Three basics my cooking can't live without: butter, garlic, my cast iron skillet
Things that are worth the extra $$: Zingerman's bread, good parmesan, organic produce, and organic, fair-trade coffee
Things that are not worth the extra $$: spices in jars
Things missed most when they are out of season: tomatoes, berries
Things I get really tired of seeing in the grocery store: tomatoes in the winter
I avoid at all costs: okra
My favorite celebrity chef is: Deborah Madison
My favorite cooking show is: I really like the pastry competitions on the food channel.

Cooks Survey: frog's responses
Favorite kitchen appliance: coffee grinder
Favorite kitchen implement: heat-resistant spatula, hand-carved wooden spoon
Three basics my cooking can't live without: Deborah Madison, Loriva Peanut Oil, and limes
Things that are worth the extra $$: organic produce, good knives (no, I don’t have these, but I know it’s true), Ed’s Bread, and organic, fair-trade coffee
Things that are not worth the extra $$: name-brand flour, name-brand butter
Things missed most when they are out of season: corn on the cob, peaches, strawberries, eggs from my egg guy
Things I get really tired of seeing in the grocery store: bruised or rotting produce
I avoid at all costs: cilantro
My favorite celebrity chef is: Ann Cooper, though “celebrity” is in the eye of the beholder
My favorite cooking show is: None, as I don’t watch them regularly, but I was part of an extended conversation in the car yesterday about the color commentary on the Japanese version of Iron Chef. “It’s eggplant!” So, yeah.

Friday, April 23, 2004

Cooks Survey
I propose that we at Knife-Wielding Feminists take part in a cooks' survey. I'll start:

Favorite kitchen appliance: toaster oven
Favorite kitchen impliment: good set of mixing bowls
Three basics my cooking (baking) can't live without: unsalted butter, white sugar, unbleached all-purpose flour
Things that are worth the extra $$: organic poultry, most organic produce, organic milk, nice olive oil, bottled water
Things that are not worth the extra $$: organic bananas, foie gras, caviar, name-brand canned tomotoes and beans, hoity dry pasta
Things missed most when they are out of season: good tomatoes, strawberries, apples, corn on the cob
Things I get really tired of seeing in the grocery store: greens of various kinds, citrus fruits, asparagus
I avoid at all costs: walnuts, coconut,
My favorite celebrity chef is: Tony Bordain
My favorite cooking show is: Good Eats, Oliver's Twist


Tuesday, April 20, 2004

Sorry for the delay in this one...KWF reader Zoe had mentioned in her blog that she was going to try a medieval pie crust recipe. I was intrigued, and asked for a copy if it worked out. Here you go! (and Zoe, if you want me to plug your blog, let me know and I'll post a link)

Pasta Briciolata (traditional Italian pastry), as modified by Heather Mosey for a medieval Italian recipe.

This makes a top and bottom crust, or a thick bottom crust. It can be used with any sort of pie filling. The recipe calls for a 375° oven, but it works in a 350° oven as well.

¼ cup pastry flour
¾ cup all-purpose flour
4 oz (one stick) sweet unsalted butter
Pinch of salt
Pinch of saffron, minced
4-5 tablespoons of cold water
Clean, damp towel

1. Sift the flour onto a board and shape into a mound. Cut the butter and arrange the slices over the flour. Let rest for ½ hour or until the butter softens.
2. Mix the butter and flour together using your hands.
3. Make a well and add the salt and saffron. Add 2 tablespoons of water, mix with a fork, and keep adding water until it is all absorbed.
4. Form the dough into a ball and knead gently for about 2 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic. If you are making a top and bottom crust, divide the dough into two parts, one slightly larger than the other. Wrap the balls in the towel and put them in the refrigerator for at least one hour.
5. Dust the board with flour. Unwrap the dough and knead it for one minute. Then, roll the dough into a circle (or circles, if you’re making a top/bottom crust pie).
6. Carefully transfer the bottom crust to a greased pie pan, fill it with yumminess, and add the top layer, if there is one.


I'm definitely curious to try this. I've never used saffron for something sweet, so I'm not sure what sort of filling to opt for. Suggestions?


Friday, April 16, 2004

Zingerman’s
The Morning News has a great interview with food writer and Zingerman’s co-founder Ari Weinzweig. If you don’t know about him, you should.

Via Bookslut.

Thursday, April 15, 2004

Let me just start out by saying that it was supposed to be something simple and nutritious.

Stresch went back to work after a harrowing trip to the mall, and I was responsible for dinner. I figured that my old standby of diced tomatoes (canned or frozen), pesto, and pasta would be adequate, and we had some extra cheese to put on top anyway. I plunked some frozen roasted tomatoes from the garden into a saucepot, turned on the flame as low as it could go, and left the room. I went about my business, checking on them occasionally until they were sitting in half an inch of water. I uncovered them and turned up the heat just a smidge.

Emilin’s “I Don’t Want to Cook” Pasta
(Serves two as a one course meal.)

1 15oz can plain, plain, plain tomatoes (I prefer Eden), diced
-or-
7-10 frozen roasted paste tomato halves

a few chunks of frozen pesto
half a box of linguine
cheese as desired

Start the water for the pasta. Dump the tomatoes, ideally in their diced state, into a heavy saucepot. Chip some lumps of pesto out of its container, and stir them into the tomatoes. The point of the pesto is require that your sauce have only two ingredients, so use it to taste. Keep it on medium-low heat to reduce the sauce, stirring occasionally. Cook the pasta according to the directions on the box. If you use a deep stockpot, the sauce will be ready when the pasta is done.

It was also Garbage Eve, so the cat boxes and trash cans had to be changed. I wanted to wear a particular shirt today, and thus did two loads of laundry, having gotten carried away. Remembering that some certain undergarments needed handwashing, I soaked some brassieres in the delicates detergent from the co-op. It wasn’t until I was heaving the cat litter up the basement stairs that I remembered about the tomatoes. The water had surely boiled off, and the kitchen had a sweet smell that told me the burning of tomatoes was nigh.

Well, crap. This wasn’t a part of my plan.

They were still soft, but they completely disintegrated when I stirred them. Nothing smelled or tasted burnt, so I decided to turn it into some kind of modified béchamel sauce. We had leftover cream (score!), some butter, milk, and flour, so I dumped and stirred and continued with my chores. It was beginning to round on the time Stresch was expected home, and I had completely forgotten to boil the water for the pasta. Something, maybe the leftover cartons from Easter, told me that poached eggs would go really well with that sauce.

Actually, that’s not true. The fond memory of poached eggs with a similar sauce at The Bongo Room in Wicker Park told me that.

So I added some leftover shredded parmesan cheese to the sauce and started up the skillet for the eggs. This was my very first experience with poached eggs. Mark Bittman and I evidently have differing opinions on what it means for a skillet of water to “barely bubble,” and I blame him at least in part. The first egg, being sacrificed first to the pan, then to the paper towel on which it was drained, then to the floor upon which its tender yolk landed with a half-splat/half-squirt, didn’t go so well. I turned up the heat a little and tried another one which ended up ugly but cooked just right for Stresch’s tastes. Ditto the third. For the last two, I decided to try covering them after putting them into the pan. They were slightly less grotesque and adequately cooked even though the skillet boiled over partway through cooking, putting out the flame, and I had to scramble to get the back burner going so they’d continue cooking.

With the skillet lid over the eggs to keep them warm, I moved on to setting up the plates. One slice each of sesame semolina, a thick puff of parmigiano-reggiano right off the microplane zester, and a little garnish of parsley. Except that maybe it wasn’t parsley. It looked far more like cilantro. I tasted it, and even though it tasted like parsley, I wasn’t convinced. It still looked like cilantro. I referenced Chez Panisse Vegetables: no help at all. I referenced Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone, and bless Ms. Madison’s soul, I discovered that parsley’s leaves have short stems that break off the main stem opposite one another and cilantro’s leaves bunch together right next to the stem. I definitely had parsley.

After squatting on the floor with parsley clutched in my hands, it was stuck to me, and I barely had time to get it back in the bag, in the refrigerator, and my hands rinsed before Stresch walked in the door. (Being pasted with wet herbs isn’t my idea of aloof or sexy, and it doesn’t inspire others’ confidence in my cooking skills.)

We sat down with our eggs, bread, cheese, and sauce, and we sipped orange juice from wine glasses. It was quite tasty, if I do say so myself, and we even have leftover sauce.
Pesto-crusted Salmon
This is one of Mark's that I really enjoy.

Get a nice piece of Pacific salmon. NOT farm-raised and NOT Atlantic. Steelhead is fine. Smack it skin-side down on a slightly greased (or very well seasoned) pan. Make a paste of pesto sauce (jarred is OK, especially the yummy jarred kind from Costco--note that if it's made with walnuts, it's NOT pesto) and food processed bread crumbs. Smear a thick layer on the top side of the fish. Cook on high heat and finish under the broiler to ensure a crusty pesto crust.

Yummers.

Tuesday, April 13, 2004

Bake for Democracy!

[Cross-posted to my own blog as well.]

Via Amanda Marcotte at Mousewords, this Saturday, April 17, "all across the country, thousands of people will organize bake sales to raise money for MoveOn PAC's campaign to Take Back the White House. While George Bush raises money mostly from wealthy donors, we will demonstrate the broad-based grassroots support supporting MoveOn PAC and John Kerry." Here are the ones around me (mostly in Manhattan). I'm not normally a cake-y kinda person but I figure I may need a break, and some refreshment, in between packing...

Sunday, April 11, 2004

Mark tried his hand at the Best. Gingersnaps. Ever. today, and even though he's not a baker, they turned out really really good. I've eaten at least half a dozen in the past few hours. Since I think it's the recipe and not my special touch that makes them so great, y'all should try them:

TBGE (The. Best. Gingersnaps. Ever.)

Ingredients:
2 cups sifted flour
1 cup white sugar
1 1/2 tbsp ground ginger
2 tsps baking soda
2 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup shortening (or 1/2 c shortening and 1/4 c butter, which is what Mark used today, 'cuz we ran out of shortening)
1 egg
1/4 (or a little more) cup mild molasses
1/3 cup cinnamon sugar (I mix this one-to-one, but I really love cinnamon)

1. Preheat oven to 350.
2. Mix and sift the first five ingredients. Sift a second time and place the mixture back in the sifter. I think this double-sifting is important, because these have a really great tender crumb.
3. Beat the shortening until creamy. Add the 1 cup sugar gradually and continue beating. Beat in egg and molasses.
4. Sift the flour mixture in about 1/3 at a time, stirring after each. I switched to a wooden spoon here, because I am sad and do not have a real mixer.
5. Roll the dough into tiny balls, roll the balls in cinnamon sugar, put on a parchment covered cookie sheet. I think the tinyness is important here. I did mine small enough to get 5 dozen from this recipe. For some reason they are better smaller.
6. Cook for about 7 mins (depending on how small you made them). Tops are rounded and slightly cracked when when they're done. Cool on a wire rack.

This May Be the Only Recipe for Beef That Ever Gets Posted Here.

Last year on my blog, One Good Thing, I posted about the world's greatest stir fry. Not being a beef-eater, I swapped the beef for tofu, and it worked out just fine. I invited people to e-mail me for the recipe and let me know if they wanted beef or tofu. Since I'm still getting e-mail requests for it, I decided to post it here so I can now just refer people without having to do all that typing. I've got the beef in front of me, so I'm putting that one up first. I'll come back later with the tofu version.

Beef and Broccoli Stir-Fry


1 lb flank steak, cut into 2-inch-wide strips with the grain, then sliced across the grain into 1/8"-thick slices

3 T soy sauce
1T dry sherry
2 T Chicken broth
5 T oyster sauce
1 T light brown sugar
1 t sesame oil
1 t cornstarch
6 medium garlic cloves, pressed or minced
1 1-inch piece ginger, minced (about 1 T)
3 T peanut oil
1 1/4 pounds broccoli, florets cut into bite-size pieces, stems trimmed, peeled, and cut on diagonal into 1/8" thick slices
1/3 cup water
1 small red bell pepper, cored, seeded, and cut into 1/4" pieces
3 medium scallions, sliced 1/2" thick on the diagonal

1.) Combine beef and soy sauce in medium bowl; cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 10 minutes and up to 1 hour, stirring once. Meanwhile, whisk sherry, chicken broth, oyster sauce, brown sugar, sesame oil, and cornstarch in measuring cup. Combine garlic, ginger, and 1 1/2 t peanut oil in small bowl.

2.) Drain beef and discard liquid. Heat 1 1/2 t peanut oil in 12-inch nonstick skillet over high heat until smoking. Add half of beef to skillet and break up clumps; cook, without stirring, for 1 minute, then stir and cook until beef is browned around edges, about 30 seconds. Transfer beef to medium bowl. Heat 1 1/2 t peanut oil in skillet, and repeat with remaining beef.

3.) Add 1 T peanut oil to now-empty skillet, heat until just smoking. Add broccoli and cook 30 seconds; add water, cover pan, and lower heat to medium. Steam broccoli until tender-crisp, about 2 minutes; transfer to paper towel-lined plate. Add remaining 1 1/2 t peanut oil to skillet; increase heat to high and heat until just smoking. Add bell pepper and cook, stirring frequently, until spotty brown, about 1 1/2 minutes. Clear center of skillet; add garlic and ginger to clearing and cook, mashing mixture with spoon, until fragrant, 15 to 20 seconds, then stir mixture into peppers. Return beef and broccoli to skillet and toss to combine. Whisk sauce to recombine, then add to skillet; cook, stirring constantly, until sauce is thickened and evenly distributed, about 30 seconds. Transfer to serving platter, sprinkle with scallions, and serve.

Friday, April 09, 2004

You've come a long way, baby.

When you're next kicking around the local chain grocery and get a little depressed at the selection of iceberg lettuce, consider a couple of points from the compendious and entertaining The Grocer's Companion and Merchant's Hand-Book (Boston, 1883):

"Curry Powder or Curry Paste.--Used extensively in India and other eastern countries; it is too highly seasoned to be much valued in other sections of the world."

The handbook (if I may revert to 21st c. usage) also offers commonsense tips on rat control (a cat is best) and the grocer's need for eternal vigilance against "the swells" amid your canned goods. (Here they mean bulging cans, not a dapper fop.)

However, one also finds lyrical passages on the new technology of waxed paper, or on the growing availability of commercially produced flat-bottomed paper bags (previously an assistant was employed in making an inferior sort of bag). So thanks to the great grocers who have gone before, even if your produce selection stinks, at least you can get the Oreos and garam masala home fairly easily.

Thursday, April 08, 2004

As previously mentioned, I went to Trader Joe's while on vacation. This post is really about cooking while in a vacation rental which is stocked with just about nothing. The "just about" is because it did have milk, little pats of butter, little packets of jam, and little packets of Philadelphia cream cheese.

At Safeway, we bought: a bag of carrots, package of flour tortillas, bag of baby spinach, mushrooms, red onion, muenster, fake butter, non-eggs (the no-cholesterol stuff), pasta, parsley, arborio rice, crackers and shallots.

At Trader Joe's, I bought: hummus, apples, cambazola, goat-cheese and mushroom dip, mushroom ravioli, more crackers, no-chicken broth and three salads.

During the course of our visit, we ate breakfast at our vacation rental most days. Breakfast options included: omlette with mushrooms and red onions sauteed in fake butter with the mushroom and goat cheese dip; omlette with sauteed onions, wilted spinach and muenster; omlette with mushrooms, shallots, spinach and cambazola. Sometimes with an apple shared between us.

After baseball games and cooling off, there were often snacks. Crackers or carrots with hummus. Crackers with the mushroom-goat cheese dip. Cambazola and apple slices. Tortilla and hummus.

In order to watch as many NCAA women's games as possible, I made dinner in. Dinners included one of the Trader Joe salads divided between us-- one with beets and goat cheese saw me with all the beets and Ladybug with most of the goat cheese. Fresh mozzarella, cherry tomatoes and toasted pine nuts were enjoyed by both of us. The balsamic vinagrette that didn't get used in salad got used in sauteeing mushrooms the following night. The gorgonzola and walnut salad got one of the apples added to it. The mushroom-goat cheese dip got eaten once again on the mushroom ravioli with a little cambazola. Whatever combination of mushrooms, sauteed red onions/caramelized red onions/shallots, spinach and/or parsley didn't get used in breakfast got used with pasta or in risotto for dinner.

My conclusion: Trader Joe's mushroom and goat cheese dip is incredibly versatile and can be used at any meal. TJs is perfect for pulling stuff together when I have no spices or herbs. I am lost without mushrooms. Ditto apples and some blue-ish cheese. As much as I *like* olive oil, its not essential. Unless, of course, you care about my arteries.
Lemonade for Sara
Ginger-honey lemonade (from Bon Appetit, August 2001)
3 c. water
½ c. honey
½ c. sugar
¼ c. minced peeled fresh ginger
1 ¼ c fresh lemon juice (about 4 lemons)
Ice cubes

Bring 1 cup water, honey, sugar, and ginger to boil in heavy medium saucepan over high heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Boil 5 minutes. Cool. Strain syrup into pitcher. Mix in lemon juice and remaining 2 cups water. Fill pitcher with ice. Let stand 5 minutes. Serve over ice.

Wednesday, April 07, 2004

What I Have Learned Today.

From Cook's Illustrated Magazine, I learned that the following items are members of the mint family:

Ginger
Pineapple
Orange
Mountain
Licorice
Chocolate
Peppermint
Spearmint
Apple
Calamint

I've never heard of that last one, but I assume it's a hybrid of leaves and squid.
Natural egg dyes
I used a source similar to this one* a few years ago to dye some eggs. I had way too much fun with it, and thought I'd pass along the tip.

*Okay, my source was Martha Stewart...

ETA: These are even better. Go make them.

Monday, April 05, 2004

CLEANING OUT THE CHEST FREEZER

We sent in our check for the produce subscription. Soon (not nearly soon enough, but soon) we will again have more produce than two people can reasonably eat. But who ever said we were reasonable about vegetables?

So, the chest freezer which was full of last year's produce needs to be cleaned out. I don't mean things need to be pitched, I mean we need to eat it. I've been trying to be good about not buying more food and just eating what we have. It's worked pretty well, although we did slip and buy some fresh kale.
All of this is just prelude to my end-of-winter linguine with corn and tomatoes. I was inspired by Deborah Madison's "Summer Spaghetti with Corn and Tomatoes." I modified the recipe a whole lot. In fact, the only thing that is that same is the idea of long pasta with corn and tomatoes, but it was good.

Saute half a (chopped) onion in olive oil. When the onion is starting to turn translucent, add 3 cloves of minced garlic. Add about 1.5 cups of corn (preferably frozen from the summer), drained. Add a whole lot of peeled, seeded, chopped tomatoes (again, frozen from the summer). When everything is warm, season with salt and pepper and 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley. Toss with cooked linguine. Sprinkle fancy grated goat cheese from the super-foodie deli (or regular Parmesan) over the top. Eat and pretend it's summer because it sure tastes like it.

Friday, April 02, 2004

Maybe eat it out behind the barn.

Perhaps if Elvis had been a little hippier-trippier he would have made something like this instead of the deep-fried peanut-butter and banana sandwiches, though the prospect of Elvis adapting a Molly Katzen recipe makes my head hurt in one of those strange science-fiction movie, alternate-universe paradox kind of ways.

Anyway, I've been making these for my own lunch this week but since my child's grandparents are in town I've been sort of sneaking them on the side since, I don't know, since I guess I'm sometimes reluctant to have to explain my sandwich lifestyle.


MISO NUT-BUTTER TOFU SANDWICHES

Ingredients:

A couple slices of bread (fancy-pants, if available).
Almond butter (though natural-type peanut butter works, too).
Miso paste.
Firm tofu.

(1) Spread almond butter on a couple slices of bread.
(2) Smear miso over the almond butter.
(3) Lay a couple of thin slices of tofu over the miso.
(4) Broil until the tofu and miso get a little browned and bubbly.

You may at this point smoosh them together for a traditional sandwich or eat two open-face sandwiches. Yum. Skulk back out into the living room and make conversation with your in-laws.


Thursday, April 01, 2004

Speaking of carrot cake…
The KWFs have been remiss and offer you our heartfelt apologies—were it not for our collective slacking, you’d have been eating this for weeks, now. Submitted quite a long time ago by loyal and patient KWF reader, Carla. Give it a try!

Carla's Carrot Cake
2 cups flour
2 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup white sugar
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
pinch of salt
1/2 cup crystallized ginger (might have been 1/4 cup, but I think I used a half cup)
4 eggs
4 tbsp. butter
4 cups grated carrots (I LOVE my food processor's grating disk . . .)
1 cup pumpkin
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 cup chopped pecans
some raisins (I used less than a half cup)

350 degrees, 2 9-inch cake pans (can probably also use a 10" tube pan and cut the cake into three layers rather than two) line the bottom of the cake pans w/ parchment paper, and grease pans and paper.

Cream butter & brown sugar in mixer. Put white sugar & crystallized ginger in a food processor (I have a little mini-prep that's perfect) and whirl away. when it's done, throw in w/ butter & brown sugar. then the eggs, one at a time, the pumpkin, the buttermilk. measure flour, soda, powder, cinnamon and salt into a separate bowl & mix, then throw in w/ wet ingredients. (there are probably other ways to mix this stuff, but this seemed to work okay.) throw in w/ wet ingredients. Add carrots, pecans, raisins. (I probably did the last part with a spatula rather than the mixer.) Bake for about 40 minutes, until toothpick is dry.

For the icing, I used 1/3 less fat cream cheese (can't go any lower or the icing is really runny), 4 tbsp. butter, confectioner's sugar, and maple syrup.

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