Monday, April 21, 2008

sticky rice and flat cookies

after a week filled with days that started at 3 am and ended at around 7pm, i was excited about the arrival of the weekend. i thought it would mean time for me to play around in the kitchen, have a chance to take some food shots of whatever i decided to fix since during the week the main goal was just to get the food on the table but it didn't quite work out that way. my mojo just wasn't with me, i'm not sure where it went but i know it wasn't in the kitchen.i should have known something was up when i started my sunday morning on the hunt for some dried chilies and some cajeta dulce de leche and the one place that i find that has both things throws me a curve ball: the dulce de leche had expired. had it been expired just a few days, it would've been fine but no. this thing had expired almost 6 months ago. e as i browsed the shelves to see what else they had i came across something else i'd been looking for: saf instant yeast. this little box won the expiration race on the dulce de leche: this yeast had expired in october of 2003. definitely not a store i'll be going back to.
unfortunately i don't have any exciting recipes to share but here are some shots of what was supposed to be yellow rice with some peppers and onions, pretty much your basic chicken and rice style dish minus the chicken. after 3 nights in a row of chicken, it was time to find protein from another source. light red kidney beans would be the choice source on this occasion. in terms of taste, i got that much right but the texture just wasn't what i was looking for..
the other shots are of anzac cookies made from a recipe i found in cooking light. again, taste wise they were great but some of them spread out way too thin and just not up to par for me. i'll be sure to update once i figured out what i did wrong and how to fix it.
on the bright side, tomorrow is delana's birthday so i know i'll be in the kitchen but i'm not sure what the menu will consists of. it'll be up to her of course. i'll be sure to take notes and pictures and come back with an actual update and recipe.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

glazed buttermilk and apple cake

ok, so i know last week i promised to come back with a whole new post about granola. unfortunately delana has yet to share her recipe with me but she did say i could write a about the glazed buttermilk and apple cake she made last week along with the granola. she made the cake last tuesday while i was at work and she had the day off. this is one of those cakes that will fill your house, or in my case apartment, with all sorts of great smells. it's really a great cake considering that the recipe was pulled out of one our cooking light books. not only is it light, it's moist and not overly sweet even with the powdered sugar glaze. i will say though it is a little on the thin side but i think that makes it even better just because it allows you the option of either having it for a light breakfast treat with your morning cup of coffee or just for dessert topped off with a scoop of ice cream which is the route i took. in addition to all that, it keeps really well too. we didn't get rid of the last slice till saturday and even then it probably could've lasted a few more days kept under wraps. like i told delana, it is gggooooddd or was.

Buttermilk Apple Cake- taken from Cooking Light


  • 1 1/2 cups thinly sliced peeled Granny Smith apple
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1/2 cup low-fat buttermilk
  • Cooking spray
  • 2 tablespoons sliced almonds
  • 1/4 cup sifted powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon low-fat buttermilk
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract


Preheat oven to 350°.

To prepare the cake, combine the first 4 ingredients in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Cook 5 minutes or until syrupy, stirring frequently; cool.

Lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife. Combine flour, baking soda, and salt in a small bowl, stirring well with a whisk. Combine granulated sugar and butter in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until well-blended; add egg and extracts, beating well. Add flour mixture to sugar mixture alternately with buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour mixture; beat well after each addition.

Spoon the batter into an 8-inch round cake pan coated with cooking spray. Arrange apple mixture over cake. Sprinkle with almonds. Bake at 350° for 25 minutes or until cake begins to pull away from sides of pan. Cool in pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes.

To prepare glaze, combine powdered sugar, 1 teaspoon buttermilk, and 1/4 teaspoon vanilla in a small bowl; stir with a whisk. Drizzle glaze over cake. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Friday, April 11, 2008

spongy proclaims

if you're not happy it's friday, maybe spongebob can change that...

i've got an awesome granola recipe to share, i'm just short the actual recipe. confused? it's ok. the recipe is tucked away in delana's baking brain right now. i'll be sure to pick at that lock and liberate it so as to share it with all you hungry, granola fans. p.s. sorry for the lack of updates, just been swamped at work. the weekend though will allow for more food musings and creations, maybe even (hopefully) a trip to the farmer's market. excited? you should be. i know i am.

Monday, April 7, 2008

bon appetit's rhubarb and raspberry jam

once again, it was another washed out weekend here in greensboro and once again, it was another early morning rise for delana and i. it really should be a crime to have to wake up at 3:45 in the morning on a sunday morning. sunday's are meant to sleep in right? i think so. i also think this message needs to be passed on to starbucks....wishful thinking. it's fun but that's all it is, is wishful. so what to do when life gives you rainy days and early mornings? complain? i just did that. so yes you can do that and you can also make jam. jam is what i did yesterday and boy did it turn out gooood.
my inspiration came out of Bon Appetit's March 2008 issue (pg.121?not sure but it sounds right.) i've been wanting to try it since the magazine made its way through my mail slot but have not been able to since the grocery stores around me didn't seem to realize that it was rhubarb season up until this past weekend. so behind the times. the first supermarket i came across that carried these elusive, red stalks had them at a whopping $6 a pound. my cash flow was not as great as my desire to make this jam. i continued on through the produce section, grabbing the stuff i actually needed. once done, delana and i made a stop at the Fresh Market to pick up some almonds since this location carries them in bulk at a much fairer price than the vacuum sealed packs found at our first stop. this second stop satisfied much more than our need for almonds, it also provided us with rhubarb for a $3 a pound. six dollars vs. three dollars? the latter makes for a much happier checking account balance. this along with the half jar of raspberry preserves i had in the fridge, some sugar and water and i was on way to rhubarb and raspberry jam minus the roly polys. i did make profiteroles from gourmet's march issue but i'll post about those later. i guess i too am a little behind on my recipe trials but better late than never. if you too are waiting to try this recipe out don't wait too long because it's definitely something that you're going to want ot have waiting for you in your 'fridge. i had some this morning spread over some toast with a side of oatmeal. delicious.

Bon Appetit's Rhubarb and Raspberry Jam
March 2008 issue

1/2 pound fresh rhubarb, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick slices (about 2 cups)
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon water
1/2 cup raspberry jam

Combine rhubarb, sugar, and 1 tablespoon water in medium saucepan. Stir over medium heat until sugar dissolves. Cover; cook until rhubarb softens to thick pulp, stirring often, about 8 minutes. Mix in jam; cool. do ahead Can be made 1 week ahead. Cover; chill.

Friday, April 4, 2008

insight time

i have a question for all those out there reading or skimming the site. it's my attempt to gain a little insight, to fulfill a general curiousity. what inspires you? what motivates you to cook? what did you see,eat, or hear about that created your interest in cooking? do you spend long, possibly endless amounts of time trying to think of what your next culinary conquest is gonna be? or is it just one of those lights on moments that it just comes to you? you weren't even thinking about food or cooking and out of nowhere, there it is. it could be tonight's dinner, tomorrow's breakfast or next weekend's brunch. doesn't matter. i'm just genuinely curious to learn what motivates people in the kitchen and what keeps them continuosly interested. i'll be looking to reading responses....

tuna + onion + pepper = yummy in my tummy tuna salad...

tuna salad: a dish that everyone knows,has his or her favorite place to get it from or a favorite family recipe. me? i never knew tuna salad as tuna salad. for me, it was just "tuna fish." see, whenever my mom would fix what everyone else called "tuna salad" she would just say we're having tuna fish. when she said this, i knew what she meant and how she'd be fixing it. tuna, diced tomatoes, onion, and mayo. i knew nothing of the added celery bits and parlsey or any of that other stuff people add and that was ok. it was good, it still is good. i just don't get to eat it because a) i live 500+ miles away and b) she doesn't ever fix it for me when i do go to visit. it would probably help if i asked her to fix it. she's not a mind reader, or so she says... silly me. maybe next trip.
due to the above mentioned circumstances, i've had to make do it making it myself. not a problem.that's part of the beauty of enjoying to cook, circumstances like this allow for me to add one more dish to my small arsenal of recipes. i, however, chose to do things a little differently from her. not alot. just a little.
Differently? How? Why?
differently because i add diced red pepper. sometimes in place of the tomato or in addition to. it's pretty and it tastes good. plus, let's face it. summer does not last all year and finding tomatos that are actually good is like trying to find osama. ok so maybe grocery store bins aren't quite desert caves but still, you never know which one, if any, is gonna have what you're looking for. so when in doubt, grab a pepper.
another thing that makes mine different is that i add spanish smoked paprika. it was an experimental addition i made one day that turned out successfully tasty. it adds a nice smokiness to pair along with the creaminess of the mayonnaise. that's pretty much it. oh wait no, sorry. i add diced celery too. delana likes it, i've come to like it and it adds crunch. that's no secret. i think my mom just never added it because we never had any. it's just not something she cooks with. no big deal. i promise that not having it will not cause you to go through celery withdrawals.

"Tuna Fish" or Tuna Sald for the Masses
serves 2

1 6 oz. can Solid, White Albacore Tuna
1/2 red pepper, diced
1/2 red onion, diced
1 roma tomato, diced (optional)
2 celery stalks, sliced lengthwise in 1/2 then cut crosswise
4 tbs mayonnaise ( i used a ratio of 2:1 of light mayo and Fage 2% Greek yogurt. Any plain yogurt will do)
1/2 tsp of smoked, Spanish Paprika

start by draining your tuna and then break it up right in the can with a fork till you have small, bite size chunks. in a large bowl, combine the broken up tuna with the pepper,onion, tomato, and celery and mix the 5 ingredients together.
in a separate bowl, mix the mayonnaise (and yogurt?) with the paprika and salt and pepper. stir to combine. do a taste test to make sure the seasonings are to your taste before adding it to the tuna mixture. once satisfied, combine the 2 in the larger bowl and stir till the dressing is evenly distributed. serve with your choice of bread. enjoy!

does anyone have any recipes inspired by their own families that they've modified to better suit their tastes? if so, please feel free to share. any family staples that have led to new, more jazzed up creations?

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Springy and Creamy Mushroom Risotto with Asparagus Tips

risotto. you've heard about it, you've seen it fixed lord knows how many times on food network, you've caught glimpses of it on the wonder that is tastespotting and if you're anything like me- you have never actually had it. well, you were like the old me because guess what? i have finally had risotto. yesterday. for dinner. let me clue you in to something: you need to fix this. doesn't have to be my can be any recipe. have one that you've been itching to try but have just left it on the backburner? pull it out and fix it. i promise you won't be disappointed. this stuff is oh-so- good. you've got the creaminess of the rice, meatiness with the added mushrooms, sweetness from the onions and a touch of savory goodness from the stock in which it's cooked in. the asparagus just adds a touch of contrast by giving it some bite. mmm. definitely a repeat dish.

Risotto with Cremini Mushrooms, Onion and Asparagus Tips

  • 6 c Stock- your choice of vegetable or chicken. ( I did a mixture of chicken stock and water since I didn't have the low sodium kind of stock)
  • 2 tbs butter
  • 2 c diced, cremini mushrooms
  • 1 Shallot, diced
  • 1/2 of a Sweet Onion, diced
  • 1 Bunch of Asparagus, trimmed of hard stalks
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 1 c Arborio rice
  • 1/3 c of white wine ( I used a Chardonnay)
heat your stock over a low simmer, no need to boil it here. you're just looking to keep it warm.

melt the two tablespoons of butter over medium heat and throw in the diced mushrooms. once they begin to brown, add the diced shallots and onion and allow to cook till softened- 2 to 3 minutes. add minced garlic and rice, give it a light stir just to coat with juices extracted from mushrooms and onion. add wine, and continuously stir till it is absorbed by the rice mixture. get ready, this is where your arm muscles are put to the test.
start adding the simmered broth, about half a cup at a time, continuously stirring it till it is completely absorded. after you've added about 4 cups of the broth, add in the trimmed asparagus spears so they can cook as you mix in the remaining 2 cups of broth. once ristto reaches desired consistency, take off heat and serve immediately. if you like, you can mix in some grated parmigiano reggiano cheese for an added level of creaminess.

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