Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Meal Planning Part 2

Here's what I plan on cooking over the next few days:

Spicy Beans and Wilted Greens
Chicken curry with rice and banana fritters, made by my roommate Aniska
Quinoa Bowl and Baked Beet Chips
Baked Shells with Cauliflower Romanesco and Taleggio
Butternut Squash Carbonara - I made this last week and it was so good. Today when we got two butternut squashes I knew I had to make it again. This pasta actually took me about two hours, so I'm going to make a big batch Sunday afternoon.
Pasta leftovers
Steak fajitas with green and red cabbage

Breakfasts: yogurt with granola, banana almond smoothies, breakfast tacos (bacon + potatoes + fried egg + avocado + salsa), and citrus

Over the weekend I made Chicken and Dumplings with Mushrooms, using some awesome mushrooms from Far West Fungi. The stew was delicious, but I think my dumplings turned out a little weird. I had leftovers for dinner the next day and it was even better.

Last night I wanted something that was quick and transportable so that I could eat it during my Monday night class, Edible Education. I also wanted something that tasted fresh, after eating that heavy bacon-y, chicken-y stew. I used some whole wheat Baia Pasta with this Green Pea Pesto. It was awesome and I can't believe this but I can't wait to try more whole wheat pasta! Using frozen peas is a great way to get in some veggies without having to put in much effort.

Have a delicious week!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Meals for the Week of 1/22

I've decided to start planning out a week of dinners in advance; it really makes me feel relaxed when I don't have to come home and start brainstorming a dinner. Most of my meals are planned around my CSA box from Eatwell Farm, but if you're shopping seasonally you might have a lot of these vegetables too, and be wondering what to cook with them. The goals of my dinners are for them to be 1) tasty 2) easy/quick 3) healthy and 4) cheap. I've noticed that my goals for dinner as a college student often match up with most people's goals – food that is quick to prepare and easy on the wallet. So I hope that my weekly meal plans might be useful, enjoy!

Butternut squash soup with garlic herb puff pastry strips

Penne with garlic-red pepper-roasted broccoli, butter, parmesan, and poached egg

Chicken tacos with avocado, red cabbage, and salsa

Soy-mustard-glazed salmon with garlic-ginger-sauteed boo choi

Roasted chicken drumsticks with carrots, onions, and thyme (inspired by Standard Fare

Butternut squash carbonara (from the February issue of Bon Appetit)

Butternut squash and mustard greens frittata

Friday, January 10, 2014

Chocolate Crackle Cookies

The first time I made chocolate crackle cookies was with my friend Cecilia, who now works as a pastry assistant at Plum in Oakland. I had never heard of chocolate crackle cookies before, but when I tried our finished product, I was entranced. We made them from a recipe in a Mary Engelbreit cookbook, but when I asked Cecilia for the recipe she told me that Martha Stewart had a good one. I tried Martha's recipe, and it was pretty good (I mean, they're chocolate cookies), but it wasn't anywhere near the crackles I had made with Cecilia. I remembered using melted chocolate when I made them the first time, and Martha's recipe just called for cocoa powder. Since then I've tried many recipes for chocolate crackles, trying to recreate that crispy, powdered-sugar-dusted exterior and creamy , rich chocolate interior, all to meh results. Finally, in the place I least expected it, I found a winner. In the dessert section of The Art of Simple Food, Alice Waters admits that she's not very good at baking. Then she goes on to provide the best scone recipe ever. Similarly, it was Alice who gave me the amazing chocolate crackle recipe that I will share with you now. At first I was a bit wary of this recipe since it diverged from Cecilia's in two major ways: it used a significant amount of ground, toasted almonds, as well as bourbon. But now I realize that Alice's chocolate crackle cookie recipe is the best chocolate crackle cookie recipe ever, and therefore the best cookie recipe ever. Happy baking!

Almonds + sugar go in the food processor
One of the perks to being home for winter break is having access to all sorts of exciting kitchen tools, like the food processor, a stand mixer, and a real rolling pin instead of an empty wine bottle. I try to avoid baking in Berkeley because it often requires really precise measurements, the kind you ought to do with a kitchen scale, and tons of mixing and whisking (which I don't really like to do by hand, with my $1.50 whisk from Daiso). I made crack pie a couple months ago, and Christina Tosi's recipe literally says to combine butter and sugar "on medium-high for 2-3 minutes." Attempting to recreate a medium-high setting with my arm, it took about fifteen. The almonds give this cookie a nice crunch, and a subtly warm, nutty flavor. 

Double broiler for chocolate and butter

Glowing brandy gets added to the chocolate
Something that scared me about this recipe was the inclusion of brandy. I don't really like alcohol in my desserts, but this is brilliant. The brandy, when added to the chocolate butter mixture, gives it a glossiness and keeps the texture intact when the chocolate cools down. It also adds some depth of flavor. Brandy is a must, don't skip it! 

Assembly Line
The other brilliant thing about this recipe, besides the almonds and the brandy, is the granulated sugar. Alice tells you to roll your balls in regular sugar before the powdered sugar. What this does is 1) give your cookies a crunchy exterior and 2) create those beautiful "crackles" that give the cookie its name. Well done, Alice. Why did none of my other recipes have this?

The finished product

Chocolate Crackle Cookies
from The Art of Simple Food

1 cup roasted, unsalted almonds
1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp sugar (plus more for coating)
1/2 cup flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
8 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips 
3 tbsp unsalted butter
1 1/2 tbsp brandy
2 eggs, at room temperature
powdered sugar for coating

Chop together very fine, or pulverize in a food processor: almonds and 2 tablespoons sugar. Put them in a bowl, and sift over flour and baking powder. Mix together. 
Melt in a heat-proof bowl over simmering water: chocolate and butter. Stir in brandy. Set the mixture aside off the heat.
Whisk together eggs and 1/4 cup sugar. Continue whisking until the mixture forms a ribbon, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in the melted chocolate and almond and flour mixture. Chill the dough in the refrigerator for 1 to 2 hours or until firm. 
Before baking, preheat the oven to 325°F. Fill a shallow bowl with granulated sugar, and another with powdered sugar. Roll the cookie dough into 1-inch balls. Roll a few at a time in the granulated sugar to coat them, then roll them in the powdered sugar. St them on parchment-lined baking sheets 1 inch apart. Bake for 12 minutes, rotating halfway through baking. When the cookies are done they will have cracks in there white shells and they will be firm on the edges, but still soft in the center. Do not overbake. 

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Portland, Oregon

Last summer I went to Portland, Oregon with my family for a week. It was my first time in Portland and I loved it. Although we weren't there for very long, we were able to pack in a lot of great restaurants. I wrote up a guide for The Starving Critic with all my favorite spots: Starving in Portland, please check it out! I can't wait to go back. Here are some photos for the famous and quintessentially Portland Voodoo Doughnuts.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Making Chicken Ragout

A while back I made chicken ragout, and photographed each step to share with you. But I never got round to posting it until now. Although it's been in the high seventies here in Long Beach, it's still winter, and this is a great winter recipe: it's hearty, warm, and provides plenty of leftovers.

I got it in my head that I wanted to cook a whole chicken (usually I just use breasts or thighs), and I thought that chicken ragout would be the perfect place to start. This is a recipe from a Dutch cookbook of my dad's, that he translated to English. The ingredients are:

1 whole chicken
8 oz mushrooms (my dad usually uses button mushrooms but I used oyster)
6 T butter
3/4 cup white wheat flour
1 quart buillon - from the chicken
2 chicken buillon cubes
1 onion
black peppercorns
Worcestershire sauce
whipping cream

Step 1: Wash the chicken and remove the inside. Put the chicken in a pot and add just enough water to cover it. Add the spices (onion, mace, thyme, and peppercorns). Bring to a boil and simmer 1 hour.
Having never cooked a whole  chicken before, I was a bit worried about step one: "remove the inside." So I peeked inside the chicken and what I found was... the inside of a chicken, in a bag. Okay, removed. That was suprisingly easy.

Step 2: Take the chicken out of the pot, let it cool and remove the meat. Cut meat in pieces. Sift the buillon, keep a little over a quart and add the buillon cubes. 
Taking the chicken out of the pot... That was a little more difficult. I enlisted the help of my vegetarian roommate. After much struggle, the two of us managed to remove the chicken in (mostly) one piece. 

Step 3: Wash the mushrooms, boil for 5 minutes in chicken broth.

Step 4: Make the sauce with butter, flour, and buillon. Add to taste pepper, Worcestershire sauce, and whipping cream. Add the chicken and mushrooms to the sauce. 
To make the sauce, you start with a roux (there are lots of great videos online that will walk you through it if you've never made a roux before). Melt the butter over medium heat in a large pan and add the flour, whisking together together. Cook for a couple of minutes, whisking constantly, until the flour taste is gone. Be careful not to burn the roux. Add the chicken broth a little at a time, whisking after each addition. Be careful not to add to much broth – you want your sauce to be nice and thick.

And there you have it! Delicious chicken ragout. I like to serve mine in a little vol-au-vent (I used frozen puff pastry shells) the first night, and then eat the leftovers by themselves or with rice.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Wish List!

Wish lists are so fun to make and I love looking at other people's wishes. I've also made an activities wish list, with things I want to do with my family this holiday season (which is better than any object you can gift or get). But here are some material goods I've been wishing for :) 

1/ Subscription to Lucky Peach - the coolest food magazine, $18 2/ INNA Jam Subscription - this is the best jam- wouldn't it be exciting to get a box of mystery jams every season? $66 3/ Heath Bud Vase - for buds!, $23 4/ Malin + Goetz Eucalyptus Deodorant - the best-smelling deodorant, $18 5/ Cashmere Travel Wrap - I fly a lot, and lately I've been wishing for a travel wrap that I can use as a scarf-headwrap-blanket, $275* 6/ Baggu Basic Tote - for toting stuff around, in gorgeous brown leather, $160 7/ Stella McCartney Knickers of the Week - these have been on my wish list for a long time. There's just something about days-of-the week undies, and these are so beautiful, $195 8/ Rock 'n Soul Part 1 - Hall & Oates's greatest hits on vinyl 9/ Tartine Cookbook - so I can make my own banana cream pie, $35 10/ Kiehls Gently Exfoliating Body Scrub & Deluxe Hand & Body Lotion - the BEST body scrub and lightly fragrant body lotion (all three scents are great), $28 & $22

*Currently 30% off!