Archive for the ‘food’ Category

Project #198 – Quick Yellow Tomato Dip

Monday, August 10th, 2009

Today I am going to sulk at home. I’m going to sulk and eat and entire loaf of bread. I’m going to sulk, eat a loaf of bread covered in sauce, and watch trashy TV shows that I’m embarrassed to watch when my husband is home.

This has been a day.

Let’s make some sauce.

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp of olive oil
  • 2 minced garlic cloves
  • ~1.5 cups of chopped yellow pear tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • Pinch salt
  • 2 tbsp chopped basil

Fry the garlic in the olive oil over medium-high heat until brown. While the garlic is cooking toss the chopped tomatoes (seeds & skins intact*) in the balsamic vinegar and salt. Stir the tomatoes mixture into the olive oil and garlic. Reduce heat to medium and cook for 15 minutes with the lid off, stirring occasionally. Add the basil and cook for another 10 minutes, or until the sauce thickens.

*I’ve noticed that the seeds and skins of yellow pear tomatoes are the most flavorful part. They’re tiny tomatoes, anyway so it’s a ridiculous amount of work and you’ll be discarding 75% of each fruit.

Project #196 – Spelt Wheat Bread

Saturday, August 8th, 2009

I purchased a small bag of spelt wheat flour on a whim at a farmer’s market a few weeks ago. I’ve used whole spelt wheat berries as a snack in the past, but I had no idea that they could be used for baking. The seeds always had a nutty, wholesome flavor to them and those are things I like in a bread.

I tested the flour using my daily baguette recipe, replacing the bread flour with spelt flour.

I don’t know if all spelt wheat is like this, but the meal seemed to be a lot coarser than regular bread flour. I don’t know if that is due to old timey griding on the part of the producer, or if it’s just due the seed itself. The dough itself reminded me of the texture of cornbread batter, though it was a lot springier than most rising bread doughs.

I had a big hunk with dinner. The verdict: I liked it, husband not so much. It’s kind of a coarse tasting bread, traditional peasant fare, but it’s good with butter and tasty morsels. However, next time, I’ll try using the little bit of flour left in a recipe where cornmeal would be used.

Project #193 – Homemade Spaghetti Sauce

Wednesday, August 5th, 2009

I’m picking about 2-3 pounds of tomatoes every day and despite copious bruschetta and tomato sandwich eating, the tomatoes are starting to win the battle. It’s time to bring out the big guns, the big, saucy guns.

Ingredients:

  • 1 small onion
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp of peeled, minced garlic
  • 6-8 medium sized tomatoes, minced
  • Salt, pepper, oregano, basil to taste

  1. 1. Fry an onion in about 3 tbsp of olive oil
  2. 2. Add 2 tbsp of minced garlic once tbe onions start to brown
  3. 3. When the garlic starts to brown throw in the minced tomatoes
  4. 4. Add salt and pepper to taste
  5. 5. Let the sauce cook down to the desired thickness, stirring about once every 15 minutes
  6. 6. Add oregano and basil to taste about minutes before the sauce is finished cooking, this keeps the taste from completely cooking out of the leaves.

Project #188 – Veggies from the Ground

Wednesday, July 22nd, 2009

The garden is just finishing the transition from spring veggies to summer ones. Finally, after weeks of waiting I’ve been able to pull my first non-leafy veggies. I guess you could say that nature made these, but eff it, I’ve put in hours and hours of weeding watering and cultivating just to make these summer crops possible. So, I’m taking credit, dammit.

Check out this guy on the lower left here; it’s a cross between a zucchini and a spaghetti squash. I guess it’s a zughetti squash or, uh, a spaghecchini squash. It’s a delicious freak of nature.

Project #187 – Yellow Tomato Bruschetta on a Baguette

Tuesday, July 21st, 2009

The tomatoes are really starting to take off. The yellow pear is especially giving and I can depend on harvesting 3-4 daily. I’m now in Su-PAH Cheap Lunch Mode, so I’ve been making bread (~5 loaves per $3 bag of flour) and living off of whatever I could pull out of the garden. That meant that I ate a lot of chard until recently.

My favorite way to use my few precious tomatoes is to mince them up into a nice bruschetta.

Ingredients:

  • 1-2 peeled cloves of garlic
  • A few cherry-sized tomatoes, minced
  • 1 teaspoon of basil
  • 1/2 tbsp of olive oil
  • Salt to taste
  • (optional)1 tsp balsamic vinegar

Wrap the garlic in foil and cook in a toaster oven at 400 degrees for 10 minutes or until soft. Combine the remaining ingredients in a bowl. Let sit as garlic cooks. Moosh the softened cloves and rub small bits into pieces of sliced baguette. Top with tomato mixture.

I also derived my own baguette recipe from this one from epicurious.com. My version is a little simpler to make and uses fewer ingredients so I can be kneaded with one hand. I hate taking off my wedding ring so that’s a real bonus.

I love how cheap this bread is to make. I buy yeast in bulk (~5 for a brick that will make ∞ loaves), so most of the cost for bread-making comes from whatever added fat the recipe calls for, usually either oil, butter, or lard. This recipe takes just one tablespoon of oil and yet somehow manages to be pretty tasty.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 tsp of active dry yeast
  • 1/2 tsp of sugar
  • 3/4 cup of warm water
  • 2 cups of bread flower
  • Pinch of salt
  • ~1 tbsp oil

Combine the yeast, sugar and warm water in a glass. Let them sit for a few minutes until the yeast foams. While waiting combine the flour and salt in a mixing bowl. Stir in the liquid a little at a time using a fork. After all of the liquid had been added, knead with one hand. Add a little extra flour to make the dough elastic.

Pour the oil into a new bowl (I usually use olive oil), and plop your dough ball in, turning it until coated. Cover the bowl with a towel and let it rise for 90 minutes.

Take the dough and squish it into a long loaf shape and put it on a cookie sheet. Heat the oven to 400 degrees and bake for 20 minutes or until the top is golden brown.

I’ve made one of these everyday this week and it only takes about 10 minutes of my time for some splendid results. If I were a man I would use this recipe to impress girls. Hey, Baby! Everyone loves fresh bread!

Project #185 – DIY BLT

Sunday, July 19th, 2009

*Curing Bacon, Part 1*
*NYT Recipe for Curing Bacon*

So, this might be cheating because I’ve already written about making a BLT, but this one has one critical difference, it uses bacon that I cured myself.

Clark’s birthday is today and he requested that I make a BLT using the bacon I’ve been curing. I had the bacon sit in the curing spices maybe a little too long, three weeks instead of one, but it still looked okay when I pulled it out of the fridge.

I wiped off all of the spices and gunk and set the bacon in the oven to dry. Again, I screwed up and misread the directions and left the bacon way, way too long in the oven, not checking the temperature regularly.

It looked a little tough and sweaty when I pulled it out.

I cut a strip of bacon off of one of the sides to fry it up and test it out. I was freaked out at how salty it was. Thinking I’d ruined the whole batch I had Clark slice up the rest while I ran to the store and bought secret, backup bacon.

We cooked up almost all of our slices of thickly cut bacon and I sweated about the whole batch tasting like the bottom of a pretzel bag. I assembled the sandwiches using a fresh baked batch of biscuits, and lettuce and tomatoes from the garden.

I nervously watched Clark bite into his birthday sandwich.

He chewed for a little bit.

I held my breath and watched him swallow.

He smiled and nodded at me.

I took a bite into my own mini-sandwich a it tasted just fine. The bacon was chewy and not too salty, with a hint of garlic. I guess the outer 1/2 inch gets the full brunt of the cure and the inside stays much more mild. Phew.

In other news, I tried to make my own mayonnaise and it was a complete failure. Mayonnaise: 1, Alison: 0

Project #180 – Black Cherry Shortcake

Tuesday, July 14th, 2009

This is probably the best time of year to be on a tight food budget. I’m a fruit eater and it pains me to do without. Happily, all of the good stuff, including black cherries, is selling for $1 a pound. Yaaaaay! Summer rules! Winter drools!

I made black cherry shortcake for a dinner gathering tonight from my fruit stash. It’s been ages since I’ve had strawberry shortcake that was not served on a stick.

The funny thing about shortcake is that it’s not really a cake, it’s more like a sweet biscuit.

I used this recipe from allrecipes.com and replaced the strawberries and their 1/2 cup of sugar with sweetened, simmered black cherries.

Black cherries are a little firmer than strawberries and need a little extra cooking time to get them gooey enough for a dessert like this. I just took three cups of cherries and combined them with 1/2 cup of sugar in a saucepan. I simmered them until just before boiling, mashing the cherries with a wooden spoon. I separated the cherries, added them to the shortcake, and used the liquid as a garnish. I could drink this stuff by itself. Yummy.

Project #179 – Focaccia Bread

Tuesday, July 14th, 2009

Is an hour too long to wait for bread? Too short? I started this bread when I was kind of hungry and by the time I pulled it out of the oven I was ravenous. I ate nearly a quarter of it before it had a chance to cool. I was all for the best because focaccia bread does not take kindly to the passage of time. It gets greasy and heavy as time goes on, but it is pure magic straight from the oven.

I didn’t do much to tweak this recipe except that I used my beloved bread flour (I’m up to using two 5 pound bags a month) and completely forgot to cover the bread in olive oil before baking. I added a token amount after pulling it out of the oven. Luckily, the bread wasn’t dry at all.

Project #175 – Blueberry Ice Cream

Thursday, July 9th, 2009

Continuing ‘Hell yeah, berries’ week I made blueberry ice cream for a group of friends at dinner. The blueberries I picked were a little tart, so I combined them with some market berries that have been sitting in the fridge for a week. My meaning is that you won’t need to use the best berries for this recipe. In fact, ones that are a little past their prime will be a little easier to juice.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups of Blueberries
  • 3/4 cup of sugar
  • 1.5 cups of heavy cream
  • 1 cup of milk

Combine the berries and sugar in a pot and simmer over medium heat. Use a wooden spoon and squish all of the blueberries to get the juice out of them. It’s really satisfying, like popping bubble wrap. Continue until all of the berries have been squished and the sugar has been dissolved.

Drain, keeping the liquid and discarding the mashed up berries. If you have ducks you can watch them eat them and wag their tail feathers. I’m regretting not getting a picture of that, ’cause it was freakin’ adorable.

Let your berry liquid cool to room temperature and combine it with the cream and milk in your ice cream maker.

We have a big plastic ball that uses people power to make ice cream, so we took turns rocking it with our feet while we ate dinner.

It takes about 45 minutes to turn the liquid into ice cream, but we didn’t quite have that patience and ate it half unfrozen. It’s still pretty tasty that way.

Hell Yeah, Berries!

Wednesday, July 8th, 2009

I’ve been topping almost everything I eat with my berries. If I had a steak or a rotisserie chicken right now I would put berries on them.

Rice pudding + black raspberries + red raspberries = best snack ev-AH!