Archive for February, 2011

My first (accidental) omelet

Posted in Breakfast, Eggs on February 27th, 2011 by admin – 1 Comment

I thought I was just going to make a green “scrambled omelet”. I know that real omelets take practice and all that, and I’m just not willing to waste the time and ingredients practicing when I just want some breakfast. I figured I’d let the egg sit a bit before scrambling to give it more of that “flat” flavor of an omelet and then scramble to make sure it cooked through.

First of all, if there’s such a thing as a “green omelet”, and I’m sure there is, that’s not what I was making. I came up with that name because I was using a bunch of green things from our garden – mint, basil, dill, plus some green onions from the fridge. On the other hand I was using some white things as well – regular onion, garlic, and chopped turkey.

I used up the last three of my fancy organic, omega-3 eggs. I finally talked myself down to buying the cheaper eggs after reading that the omega-3’s are not worth it. However I’m still not totally convinced – I haven’t found a definitive answer if they’re just “not worth it”, as in the cost doesn’t justify the benefit (but ultimately that’s up to me to decide), or if there is no actual benefit. My thinking has been that since eggs are simultaneously healthy and bad for you, I might as well push the healthy side.

I have a feeling that I’m ultimately going to end up with two kinds of eggs in the fridge, fancy ones for cooking and cheap ones for baking. Given that we already keep on hand multiple kinds of milk, rice, soy sauce, salt, cheese, etc… it’s not too much of a stretch to add eggs to the list.

So I poured my eggs in a pan over some melted butter on a medium-high heat and let it sit for a minute. Well after making sure all of my filling ingredients were in order, I turned back to see that my eggs were omeleting!

Too late to scramble, I dumped in the filling and folded. Not the prettiest thing, especially since I had to go back and try to open it up and add the cheese, but I think it counts as my first real omelet.

The mint leaves went on top because I had read, “Many cooks like to add chopped mint leaves to scrambled eggs, and omelets…” but to add at the end of cooking so they don’t turn bitter.

I was so excited to have made an actual omelet, it took a few bites before I realized what a strange taste combination I had come up with. Actually it turns out that since I was in such a hurry to add the filling, it didn’t get distributed evenly so any given bite had a different flavor. Some better than other… but I’d still eat it again.

For the record, here’s what went into my green (and white) omelet:

Ingredients:

  • three eggs
  • chopped onion
  • chopped green onion
  • chopped garlic
  • sliced turkey breast lunch meat
  • fresh dill
  • fresh basil
  • fresh mint
  • shredded Mexican cheese blend

My biggest complaint: I didn’t add enough cheese.

Corvina with Garlic Butter

Posted in Fish on February 22nd, 2011 by admin – Be the first to comment

Recently Andrew told me he found a new kind of fish he had never heard of at QFC, but didn’t buy it because the sell-by date was either that day or the day after. We found it again, Corvina, but with the same problem. However my curiosity about new fish overruled, especially when the first recipe I found on my phone was Corvina with Garlic Butter.

Garlic good. Butter good. (Well bad, but good.) I like to keep the first recipe I make with new fish simple, both so that I don’t waste a lot of effort if I turn out not to like it, and so that I make sure I’m tasting what I’m actually eating. I just had to make sure to have fish for lunch the next day.

This is really vague on the quantities (as in, it doesn’t give any.)

Ingredients:

  • fillet of Corvina
  • chopped garlic
  • butter
  • salt to taste
  • white pepper to taste
  • chopped fresh parsley
  • wedge of lemon

Not even a temperature to cook at. I guessed medium and then turned it up when it wasn’t cooking through in the expected 3-4 minutes.

Instructions:

  • Salt and pepper the fillet on both sides. Melt the butter in a skillet and cook the fillet until done, about 3 to 4 minutes on each side.
  • Remove the fillet and add the chopped garlic. Cook gently over medium heat until soft, but not brown.

My pan-frying skills are lacking as you can see. I didn’t brown the garlic, but had scraped up all the browned bits of fish stuck to the pan.

  • Place the fillet on a plate and spoon the garlic butter over it. Sprinkle some fresh chopped parsley and serve with lemon or lime wedges.

Unlike the turbot which I described as a generic fish-tasting fish this stuff had a more distinctive flavor. Almost reminiscent of a milder mahi mahi, but don’t hold me to that. Maybe a single mahi? This would make a very high quality fish stick.

Open-faced breakfast burrito

Posted in Breakfast, Eggs, Potatoes on February 20th, 2011 by admin – 1 Comment

I kept wandering around the kitchen complaining to myself that there was nothing to eat since we were due for a grocery shopping trip. Of course “nothing” doesn’t mean nothing but I didn’t want more pasta, more toast, more cereal, more noodles… “But you know better now,” I told myself, “You should be able to MacGyver a meal out of this kitchen.”

My starting point ended up being a package of roasted garlic chicken sausage that I originally picked up for some future chicken gumbo but have no immediate plans to make. I’m not normally a sausage person (same issue I have with bacon, the visible fattiness and texture) but chicken sausage is relatively safe and if you add garlic to the description I’m sold.

I started by dicing one of my little Yukon potatoes into little pieces (not trusting how easily potatoes would cook in a pan, I wanted them small) and started frying in a bit of olive oil. While those were cooking I also chopped up a bit of onion and added to the pan when the potatoes were about halfway cooked. Then at the end, some chopped garlic, so it wouldn’t overcook.

This was set aside and then in the same pan, I scrambled an egg with the chicken sausage, also cut into small pieces.

Gotta admit that looks kinda gross… eggs are pretty freaky if you think about them too much.

Then I mixed everything back in the pan and added some shredded Mexican cheese mix.

Andrew had moved the tortillas to the other side of the counter, so for a minute I was afraid I was ultimately making myself a big bowl of breakfast “burrito” mix. Determined now to keep this a one-pan recipe, I tried to slide the tortilla underneath to be simultaneously warmed and assembled.

At this point it didn’t look like it was going to be willing to roll up for me in anyway so I scooped it onto a plate using two spatulas and ate with a fork. Andrew called it a “breakfast tostada” but I already had my name picked out, and a very messy pan.

Upside-down Turbot

Posted in Fish, Turbot on February 18th, 2011 by admin – Be the first to comment

Now that I know what turbot actually is, and tastes good, and have actually had no problem finding since that day it suddenly appeared in the grocery store, I’m willing to be a little more adventurous with finding ways to cook it. They called this Greek Baked Turbot but I’m calling it Upside-down Turbot because of how it’s assembled.

Ingredients:

  • 4 (6 oz each) turbot fillets
  • 1 can (18 oz) cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 4 plum tomatoes, chopped
  • Salt and ground black pepper to taste

Did I say adventurous? I mean, as long as we’re sticking with ingredients I like. I’m just pretending that line of tomatoes doesn’t exist.

Directions:

  • Combine oil, onions, garlic, oregano leaves, and 1 teaspoon of lemon juice.
  • Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, 5 minutes or until onions are soft.

It’s too bad our Aero Garden oregano isn’t ready for harvest yet, but at least the recipe specified dried.

  • Move to tin foil.
  • Add beans, parsley, salt and pepper.

Here I do wish they gave a picture to be sure that I was doing this right…

Strange that even the salt and pepper gets added before the fish.

  • Place the turbot fillets on top.

It looks a little sad, on top, by itself…

But since our little garden is overwhelming us with basil right now, we have to find excuses to put basil on everything. It looks much happier with three leaves of lemon basil.

  • Cover and bake for 20 minutes or until fish flakes easily with a fork.
  • Sprinkle the Greek Baked Turbot Fillets with tomatoes and 1 teaspoon of lemon juice.

Well ignoring the tomatoes…

This was quite good, but it seemed like both the turbot and the beans had equally neutral flavors and were asking the other to compliment them… while they both sat their in awkward silence. It just needs a little something – more herbs? more lemon juice? (more tomatoes?) – to break the ice next time.

Immersion Blender Guacamole

Posted in Spreads/Dips on February 15th, 2011 by admin – Be the first to comment

What do you do when you stock up on avocados because they’re on sale and realize you don’t have enough time to fit them into the meal schedule before they’ll go bad?

Make guacamole!

What do you do when you’ve made guacamole and have no tortilla chips to eat it with?

Eat it on…. rice cakes?

My immersion blender came with a book of a lot of actual good sounding recipes. They called this one, “Easy Creamy Guacamole”.

Ingredients:

  • 1 avocado, ripe, peeled, seeded, cut into 3/4-inch pieces
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon or lime juice
  • 1/2 clove garlic, peeled and smashed
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt or to taste

I ended up chopping my garlic out of habit before reading closely but I don’t think it makes a difference.

Directions:
Place all ingredients into mixing beaker.

Insert […]

Okay is it really necessary to call out your product by its full name with multiple registration symbols in the very booklet that came with it? Insert the stick thingy, even if you have a different brand of stick thingy it should still work, into the avocado and let it do its thing. Look at the picture above if there’s any question on which brand of stick thingy I have.

My first thought was, ‘this is turning into a goopy mess!’. And then I realized that’s what guacamole is.

Transfer to a decorative bowl to serve with tortilla chips.

Decorative bowl… decorative bowl… My little Asian dipping bowls didn’t seem like what they had in mind. Neither were the everyday bowls or the other everyday bowls… that just leaves…

My bridal shower gifted Hello Kitty bowl!

I never did get around to buying those tortilla chips but it tasted more like an avocado spread than true guacamole. For avocado spread it was good, even on rice cakes. For guacamole, I’m still looking.

Lazy Salmon is a lazy post

Posted in Fish, Salmon on February 14th, 2011 by admin – 3 Comments

I’ve referenced my “lazy salmon” already but in the context of being able to do better than Martha Stewart with something I came up with out of my head, and I didn’t have pictures of either at the time.

I’ve always loved salmon, and if that isn’t obvious yet it’s only because I try to pace myself so this doesn’t become the 101 Ways to Cook Salmon blog. However it was always frustrating to me the difference between the amazing salmon I could order in a restaurant, and the dry, “meh”, pink stuff that would come out of my oven. I’ve certainly improved since then, and while I’m not claiming this is anywhere near restaurant quality (I’d recommend Lime Butter Salmon if I had to pick one), it’s become pretty decent for an intentionally lazy meal.

Ingredients:

  • Salmon fillet
  • Butter
  • Lemon juice
  • White wine

Melt a pat of butter in the microwave and then add an equal-looking amount of lemon juice. Once I started cooking with wine, I found that adding a splash of white wine gave it a slightly more complex flavor, and makes this feel more like “real cooking” than “pretend cooking”.

I also once tried adding chopped garlic but it turns out that garlic has a chemical reaction when it sits in an acid, like lemon juice. It’s still perfectly edible but quite a shock when your originally white garlic comes out of the oven green.

Wrap the salmon fillet tightly in foil and pour the lemon-butter-wine mixture over.

Actually this time I then tried turning the fish upside down before cooking, instead of letting the liquid run off the side like usually happens.

The next “secret”, as far as this could be considered a secret, is that I was cooking it too long in the past. I now put this in the oven at 350 degrees and set the timer for 10 minutes. It most likely won’t be cooked after ten minutes, but then keep checking in very small increments (2-3 minutes, or even 1 minute if it looks close) and stop cooking as soon as possible.

I made sure to pour all of the pan-juice on top which I think I would normally leave behind, served with broccoli-cheese mashed potatoes so it doesn’t matter if the extra butter-juice runs into the potatoes. I also served it topped with fresh chopped parsley, which I apologize for since “fresh chopped” anything does take it a step outside of the “lazy” realm.

Baked Macaroni and Cheese

Posted in Cheese, Pasta on February 12th, 2011 by admin – 1 Comment

It’s surprisingly hard to find a good baked macaroni and cheese recipe on the internet. I think it’s because they tend to be either of the “easy” (a.k.a. Velveeta) variety, or they add something strange to justify being Yet Another Recipe for something everyone is expected to already know how to make.

The first recipe I had tried was an Alton Brown recipe on the Food Network. It looked relatively safe, is the reason I own mustard powder, and I learned to temper an egg.

I remember Andrew’s reaction was, “It’s rather oniony”.

“Does that mean too oniony?”

“Yes.”

I think we both dutifully ate a plate, left the rest in the fridge for a day, and then threw it out.


I finally got a good, and by good I mean – I’m already giving away the ending – but the best baked macaroni and cheese I’ve ever eaten, which will otherwise be known as Aeravon’s heart-attack-in-a-pan.

Ingredients:
1 lb box of Macaroni (elbow) noodles
1 lb each of 4 flavors of cheese (we use Mozzarella, sharp cheddar, mild cheddar and colby jack) Note: a mix of colors makes the final product look nice, and we use the mozzarella specifically for stiffness and a great “cheese pull” effect)
2 eggs

In the grocery store Andrew kept questioning, was that really a pound each or maybe that was supposed to be a 1-pound mixed bag. A side note said that could be cut down to 3/4 of a pound (each) for a still-cheezy but less deadly effect. Since I’ve recently converted myself to this Barilla Plus pasta – which is healthier than regular pasta, not as healthy as that whole wheat stuff (but what good is healthy when it’s not edible?) – which comes in a little under a pound box, I bought four packages of a little under a pound of cheese each, sticking to the original recommendations.

Directions:
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F
Boil noodles as direct on package. While noodles are boiling cut cheese into 1/2 inch squares. Drain noodles, then mix the noodles with the cheese squares in a very large bowl (you do not have to mash the cheese blocks prior to this, but you you can if you like).

So if I had been paying attention I would have realized the cheese didn’t need to be shredded in the first place. I had thought that much cheese was definitely somewhere I was allowed to cheat and buy the packages. Or maybe I’m still getting to cheat because I don’t have to cube it!

Using my largest mixing bowl I was able to add… two packages of cheese…

and then had to dig out my soup pot because it was the only container in the kitchen big enough to hold it all, let alone mix.

Add the 2 eggs, mix until everything is well covered (with egg).

Optional: During the mixing step you can add meats (ground turkey is nice), tomatoes or top with bread crumbs just before you put it in the oven for a little extra crunch.

Ground turkey sounds like it might be worth trying in the future but I wanted to be authentic to true macaroni and cheese for the initial test. Bread crumbs however I think are traditional so I sprinkled some panko on top.

Bake approximately 20-25 minutes until top is golden brown and cheese is well melted. Let rest for a few minutes for the mass to solidify before serving if you desire.

As I said, I already gave away the ending – this was the best macaroni and cheese I can ever remember having, and I’m not just gushing because I know the owner of the recipe is going to read this. It’s exactly what I was looking for – true baked macaroni with no Velveeta, onions, or hot sauce. It might even be cheesy enough to cover up the taste of real whole wheat pasta.

Yummy detail shot makes me sad we actually ate this all last weekend.

Chef Studboy’s Potato Leek Soup

Posted in Potatoes, Soup on February 10th, 2011 by admin – 1 Comment

I had what will probably be the highlight of my blogging career a while back, when an actual chef looked at my site and then gave me a recipe off of my wishlist from out of his head.

Chef Studboy:

Yes he’s a chef in real life too.

Like most recipes I meant to cut this one in half, although it didn’t work out that way in the end.

about 2 cups of Mirepoix (carrots, celery, onion diced)

Interesting, there’s a word for that stuff.

and about 4 cups of leeks, this will be a decent sized batch

Having never cooked with leeks before, I didn’t know if you were supposed to use the whole thing, or just the white or green. Consensus on the internet was the white part, or one that made the most sense to me, the white and pale green.

Some warnings for others who haven’t used leeks before:

1. You’d think those huge things would be plenty but when cutting off the leaves I only got a little over a cup out of each one.

2. They’re quite dirty inside. Understandable for something that grows in the dirt, but make sure to wash each layer carefully.

3. It’s hard to spin a leek if you don’t have cartoon hands.

sear off some bacon, and set it aside. chop it up when it’s dried and cooled, and save the grease
cook off the mirepoix and 2 cups of the leeks in the grease, until it’s all clear

At this point we talked about bacon for a bit. I’m probably the only non-vegetarian who shies away from bacon – I like the taste but I can’t deal with the visible fat. So he came up with the idea to add the bacon before the soup was blended, to keep the flavor, and skip the grease part.

Following the potato soup recipe, I cooked the veggies in some melted butter instead.

then, add about a quart of chicken stock
cook off about 8 potatoes in that mixture, until the potatoes are done
also, cook off a few potatoes on the side in water and save them

I’m pretty sure my proportions got thrown off even more at this point. I thought I had more than enough leeks and potatoes when I started, and this could have been doubled easily.

once the potatoes are cooked in the stock, completely blend everything
turn it into all liquid

When I first planned recipes like this I didn’t have an actual blender, so I intended to use my smoothie maker to do it in batches and then hope someone would feel sorry for my patheticness and buy me one for Christmas. When I found out I was getting the immersion blender as a gift I just put it off until I could use the real thing instead.

Action shot!

then, add the chopped bacon and dice up the cooked potatoes
finally, sautee the remaining leeks in a little garlic, then add all of that to the pot
the potatoes in the stock will thicken the soup naturally
and voila, Potato Leek soup

The first problem is it’s been so long since I had that amazing potato leek soup that made me want to learn to begin with, I forgot what it’s supposed to taste like. Or look like – orange? My soup was rather orange.

The second problem was a lack of solids. I should have had more potatoes, and cut the pieces into smaller pieces instead of pretending I was making mashed potatoes since that seems to be what I know how to do best.

However,

you can add cream to it as well if you like, if it’s too thick, or you want a smoother soup
actually, with the numbers I gave you I would add a bit of cream, maybe 2 cups

“A bit” and “2 cups” seem like pretty drastically different amounts to me but I went and added somewhere between “a bit” and a cup. The cream really made it.. well, good, but I hate to think how much I killed the illusion of this being a healthy soup.

Banana Chocolate Chip Pancakes

Posted in Breakfast on February 7th, 2011 by admin – Be the first to comment

I know they say not to go to the store hungry, but who would have thought watching TV (and no, not the commercials) would have the same problem? We were watching our DVR’d episode of Parenthood which started out with chocolate chip pancakes and suddenly I had to have those chocolate chip pancakes.

I ended up doing one better with banana chocolate chip pancakes, having this one old, brown banana that was ready for either baking or for the trash. I adapted my recipe from this recipe that was adapted from another recipe.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups baking mix(or homemade bisquick mix)
  • 1 cup mashed bananas
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup milk
  • 3/4 cup chocolate chips

Since I neither have Bisquick or wanted to go through the trouble of getting out the Cuisenart for the homemade “Bisquick” mix, I referenced yet another recipe and used two cups of flour and two tablespoons of baking powder as my base.

In another bowl I mashed up my banana with a fork and mixed in the cup of milk and an egg. A hand mixer may have made for a smoother mix but I feel like a few lumps are a pleasant trait of homemade cooking.

After mixing the liquid into the dry, the batter seemed really thick for pancakes. I added another 1/4 cup of milk and 1/4 cup of vegetable oil since I’ve seen it in various pancake recipes. I was told that the oil raises the calorie count drastically more than the milk so next time I should just keep adding milk until the consistency is right. Possibly a second egg.

I also had no chocolate chips, but I planned to chop up the last couple Ghirardelli squares from the Christmas baking. Turns out that after being left open, they had become so crumbly I just crumbled them by hand into the batter mix.

If you could zoom in on that bottle of oil it shows 120 calories per tablespoon serving… definitely skipping the oil next time.

The batter was still on the thick side so I had to spread it out with a fork as I poured it into the pan, and then cook like normal.

A little light on the chocolate, and a little light on the banana, because I used all I had around, but very yummy. Next time more chocolate, less oil.

Tonberry Roll

Posted in Uncategorized on February 6th, 2011 by admin – 2 Comments

I am so excited I invented my own sushi roll, and inventing my own means I get to name it – the Tonberry roll!

First of all, I am not a sushi chef. Someone who knows sushi can probably nit-pick the thickness of my rice, the placement of ingredients, or my rolling style. I just know I make something that tastes good in the end.

I’m not allowed to impulse buy specialized kitchen utensils from Bed Beth & Beyond anymore, but I’ve spent enough time trying to slice avocados that I was able to justify this one:

I also used to have one of those nifty bamboo sushi rolling mats but it must have gotten lost in the move and I never replaced it because I never figured out exactly what it does that I don’t do by hand. However I’d like to pick up another so I have a surface to work on other than the cutting board I always use.

Now onto the Tonberry roll!

Ingredients:

  • Nori sheets
  • Prepared sushi rice (rice and seasoned rice vinegar)
  • Avocado
  • Green onions
  • Garlic

Layer your sheet of nori with prepared sushi rice, and then make a line of thinly sliced pieces of garlic.

The strong bite of raw garlic provides the “throat stab” effect of the roll’s namesake but the other ingredients will mellow it out. Next add slices of avocado and green onions.

I just happen to love alfalfa sprouts so I gave them a try on my second experiment. It was a take-it-or-leave-it effect so sprouts are not an official ingredient of the Tonberry roll. Look for them instead in my next sushi invention I already have in mind.

Roll and slice with a sharp knife. I try to remember to slice them thin to have more pieces… silly mind tricks. Serve with stuffed Tonberry.