Monday, December 26, 2005

bread results

This year's recipe turned out good flavor, with a couple of comments:

1. Interior of bread was really too moist (although fully cooked), even after cooling down. Need to find some way to deal with this excess moisture. Maybe it means initial dough was too moist? Maybe it means longer cooking time? Maybe some further online research is warranted for dough/bread "troubleshooting".
2. Crust turned nice and black brown.
3. Too much dough for 2 loaves, even with 1/2 quantities. Recommend dividing into 3rds for final shaping & baking. One loave puffed up so high it was almost 2 loaves!

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Grandma's bread revisited again

OK, so here's my revised take, reduced quantities for 2 loaves (instead of original version, which is for 4 loaves):

2 c. buttermilk
1.5 c. water
1 lb. + 1/2 lb. rye flour, unsifted (1.5 lb. total)
1 lb. + 1/2 lb. (8 0z) + 1/2 lb. (8 oz) unbleached white flour, unsifted (2 lbs total)

2-1/4 tsp. active dry yeast (or 1 packet)
1 tbsp. unbleached white flour
1/2 c. warm water (120 degrees)

1/2 c. honey
1/2 tbsp. salt

1. Over medium-low heat, warm buttermilk and water in a pan to 110 degrees (stirring constantly so it doesn't curdle) and remove from heat. Stir in 1 lb. rye flour, cover tightly and leave in warm place overnight. Or, refrigerate and bring back to room temperature before continuing

2. The next day, combine yeast, 1 tbsp. flour, and warm water, and stir to dissolve. Let sit for 5 minutes until yeast mixture gets bubbly.

3. Into dough mixture, add yeast mixture, honey and salt. Stir in remaining 1/2 pound of rye flour, and stir in 1 lb. of white flour until mixture is uniform. Then, split dough in half by weight. Set half of dough aside. It gets split in half because the full amount of dough is too much for the small stand mixer to handle!

4. Take one-half of the dough and add dough to mixer set to "1" or "2" (low speed), and knead with dough hook, gradually adding 1/2 lb. of white flour. You will need to clean the dough hook a number of times at the beginning (every 30 seconds or so). After a couple of minutes, it will stop sticking. Total kneading time should be about 5-7 minutes.

5. Repeat step 4 for the remaining dough.

6. Grease two bread pans with butter, and dust them with rye flour. Shape dough into loaves and place in bread pans. Cover with towel, and leave in warm place to rise for 2 hours or until approximately doubled in bulk.

7. Preheat oven to 425. Place bread pans in oven and bake for 3o minutes. Reduce heat to 375 and bake for 15-20 more minutes.

8. Take bread from oven, remove from pans, and drape with damp cloth while they cool. This supposedly will help keep the crust from separating from the dough.

That's my story, and I'm stickin to it! We'll see how they turn out this year.

UPDATE 12/26/2005:
This year's recipe turned out good flavor, with a couple of comments:

1. Interior of bread was really too moist (although fully cooked), even after cooling down. Need to find some way to deal with this excess moisture. Maybe it means initial dough was too moist? Maybe it means longer cooking time? Maybe some further online research is warranted for dough/bread "troubleshooting".
2. Crust turned nice and black brown.
3. Too much dough for 2 loaves, even with 1/2 quantities. Recommend dividing into 3rds for final shaping & baking. One loave puffed up so high it was almost 2 loaves!

Thursday, December 22, 2005

bread in progress

So grandma's bread is in progress. I'm trying to scale the recipe down (from 4 to 2 loaves) because last year, I simply made too much of it. The base is "fermenting" right now; hopefully this year's proportions will make it right. I think this is the 4th or 5th time that I'm making the bread.

I've purposely passed on the Lithuanian black rye recipe (incidentally, the same one online as in the cookbook), in lieu of my grandma's recipe. I know my grandma's recipe works reasonably well, but needs some tweaking to make it right. Last year's was pretty good, as I recall. This means that hopefully this year's will be good as well. I decided to read up on rye flour, in Nancy Silverton's "La Brea Bakery" bread book. Apparently rye flour is tricky: easy to overmix, tends to be wet, not a lot of gluten. A recipe in Julia Child's "Baking" tome got me thinking about the correct proportions for this bread (wheat flour-rye flour-liquid ratio). I need to read up more on "golden ratios" for flour to liquid to yeast. I remember that "The Man Who Ate Everything" had some of this info, which was pretty good, at least in terms of making a batch of starter from scratch. Last year's recipe put rye-to-wheat flour at around 6:12 or 6:13 by weight. I'm going to shoot for a more even ratio this year, closer to 6:7. I hope this will yield something closer to what I'm looking for.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Grandma's Rye Bread part II

OK, so there is a fairly comprehensive web site on Lithuanian cookery at:

There is a recipe for black rye bread, similar to my grandma's, at:

I wonder if this is the same recipe from the cookbook that I used? I wonder how it compares? This might just be the year to find out! I did have some excellent bread in Lithuania (I believe at Cili Kaimas restaurant in Vilnius) which tasted almost exactly like hers: soft, semi-dense but very uniform texture; thin, hard, black crust, delicious!

I do remember that last year, it turned out abysmal when I followed the cookbook recipe.

tis the twisted season

Winter is here again, another year has come and almost gone.

Made pretzels for the first time last night. Beckey's a real pretzel fan, so I figured I would give it a shot.

Here's the recipe I used:

Soft Pretzel Recipe

Servings: 6 large or 12 small

3 ½ cups of flour
4 tbsp brown sugar
2 tsp. salt (sea salt preferably)
1 tbsp dry yeast, dissolved in the water
1 cup water (120°) fairly warm but not hot.

2 tbsp baking soda mixed with 1 Cup hot water (in a small bowl)

Egg wash: 1 egg beaten with 1 tsp. water (in a small bowl)

Directions: Mix water/yeast, brown sugar, and salt in a food processor, or a large mixing bowl. Add flour and mix until dough is smooth. Add more flour if sticky. (If possible let the dough sit overnight in a bowl or plastic container in the refridgerator.)

Divide the dough into 6 or 12 pieces. Roll each piece into a rope, a bit thicker than a pencil, but not quite as thick as a cigar. Shape into an upside down U shape on your table. Bring the ends together and twist them. Flatten the ends and bring to the top of the pretzel and press in the dough to secure making it look like a pretzel. Place on a greased cookie sheet.

Now let the pretzels rise for 30-45 minutes in a warm place or till about double in size.

Boil 4 cups of water and add 2 tbsp. baking soda. Drop the pretzel in there for about 10 seconds and then lift out with a strainer or pancake turner. Place back on cookie sheet. This will give a nice chewy crust. If you skip this, the crust will be crispier.

Brush with egg wash. This gives the pretzel a nice shiny glaze.

Sprinkle with toppings like
coarse salt (grind rock salt in a coffee grinder); garlic and parmesan cheese; Cinnamon and sugar; or sesame seeds.

Bake in a hot oven 450 degrees (225 degrees C) for 10-12 minutes or until well browned. (Interesting note: Homemade pretzels and soft pretzels are often made much the same way as bagels, by poaching them in boiling water before baking, the difference being that bagels are usually poached in salt water rather than water and baking soda.)

So how did they taste? Pretty good. Nice golden brown crust, nice and soft with a tiny bit of tooth, and the inside was nice and chewy, although a bit more dense than I would like. Several adjustments needed to be made:

1. You may need more than 1 cup water. The dough was not very soft/sticky, and it was clumping together while being mixed. I think a softer dough will yield a softer, chewier pretzel.
2. I don't think the dough rose enough after the knotting.
3. Rolling them out was tricky, because the dough was too dry, I think. I found wetting my hands from a little bowl of water gave me the necessary traction. This may not be necessary if the dough is sufficiently soft.
4. I would try with a slightly longer boil time than 10 seconds, or maybe more baking soda in the water mixture. I was hoping the dough would have a bit more "tart" kick, somehow.

In other baking news, time to go to the store to buy supplies to bake Grandma's bread.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Risotto con carne

Earlier this week, I felt like a hearty meal so I decided to make another risotto, which turned out quite nicely. In the last few months I've made several risottos. The first was with chorizo, the second was with mushrooms/onions/thyme, and this week's was my "risotto con carne", an almost chili-like risotto with hot links, chorizo, and tomatoes. Turned out delicious!

Risotto Con Carne

2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp butter
1/2 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, rough chopped
6 oz pork chorizo sausage
1 cup fresh tomato, diced
1 hot link
3/4 cup arborio rice
2 tbsp Emeril's Essence or Wolfgang Puck BBQ pork rub
1 tbsp chili powder
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp dried oregano or 1 tbsp fresh oregano, chopped

1/4 cup tequila
1 box chicken stock
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp worcheshire sauce
1 tsp Tabasco

1/2 cup cheddar cheese, grated
1 scallion, sliced into rings

In a large pot, melt butter and oil over medium heat. Saute garlic and onion until onion is translucent. Remove casing from chorizo. Turn up heat to high, add chorizo and hot link and stir until cooked, about 3 minutes. Add rice & cook for 2 minutes. Start timer (17 minutes). Constantly stirring, add tequila, let rice absorb, then add chicken stock about 1/3 cup at a time, always stirring until rice absorbs liquid. Do this for about 10 minutes.

At 10 minutes, add diced tomato.

At 15 minutes, add Essence, chili powder, paprika, oregano, vinegar, worcheshire, and tabasco. Continue to cook & add liquid for another 2 minutes (you should use up approx. 1/2 box of stock).

Remove from heat, and stir in 1/4 cup of cheddar cheese. Serve while hot, garnish with scallions & remaining cheddar cheese.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

tri tip revisited

Made another tri tip earlier this week. We ate it with caramelized onions, petite peas, mashed potatoes and fresh heirloom tomatoes from our garden. A whole tri-tip will last the two of us at least a week, usually. It's great for leftovers (sandwiches, burritos, cold or reheated by itself).

Tips on the 'tip:

1. This time I cooked the tri tip for about 27 minutes (around 13 minutes on each side) over charcoal, with about 5 minutes rest, so total time of about 32 minutes. Came out medium rare to rare in the center. Probably could've been a bit more well done, but it was just past purple/wobbly but still pretty bloody.

I would recommend for next time, 30 minutes cooking time, 15 min per side, with a 5 minute rest, for a total time of 35 minutes.

Also, the coals were stacked on one end of the BBQ, and the tri tip was placed across the edge of the coals and the cool zone.

2. Petite Peas - Trader Joes has excellent "petite peas"; much sweeter and snappier flavor than the regular grocery style ones. Go for it!

3. Caramelized onions. Here was my technique: After the tri-tip is on the grill, slice two yellow onions in half. Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a cast iron pan over medium heat, add onions and toss in oil. Turn down heat to medium-low. Let slowly cook without stirring for about 5 minutes without turning. They will start to brown. Then season with salt & pepper. Now start stirring them every few minutes while they cook and to prevent burning. Once they are quite brown and soft (about 20 minutes), add about 1 tsp brown sugar and 1 tsp. balsamic vinegar. Cook for 2 minutes. Next remove from flame and CAREFULLY add 1 tbsp of brandy. If you're careful, light it on fire and let it flame off. This will leave a lovely, sweet glaze.

4. Heirloom tomatoes: what more can I say? I planted a few "brandywine" variety last season, and this year, one just sprang up by itself (self-seeded), resulting in many delicious tomatoes. I like to eat them with a sprinkle of salt & pepper, a few drops of balsamic vinegar and maybe a spritz of olive oil (from a "Misto" pump sprayer).

Speaking of which, I think I'll go downstairs now, have an onion bagel with cream cheese and tomato. Mmm...

Friday, July 29, 2005

Authentic Café Mini Meatloafs with Carmelized Onions
A delicious recipe from Roger Hayot's Authentic Cafe in Los Angeles, from the "Dinner at the Authentic Cafe" cookbook

Caramelized Onions:
1/4 c. olive oil
2 tbsp unsalted butter
4 or 5 sweet onions, such as Vidalia

1.5 lbs ground chuck
2 large eggs
1 large carrot
1 small onion
1 celery rib
¼ cup evaporated milk
¼ cup unseasoned bread crumbs
¼ cup ketchup
4 cloves garlic
4 sage leaves
1 tbsp. thyme leaves
¼ tsp ground pepper
2 tsp. kosher salt
1 tbsp olive oil

2 tbsp olive
1 large shallot
2 cups beef stock
2 tsp. thyme leaves
2 leaves sage
½ tsp. ground pepper
4 tbsp unsalted butter

Mixed vegetables, cooked (frozen peas+carrots, etc.)

Prepare caramelized onions: heat oil & butter over low heat, cook onions for 30 minutes until limp and deep brown in color.

Preheat oven to 350. Knead meatloaf mixture for 2 minutes, no more. Divide into 5 equal portions, and shape into mini loaves. Brush loaves with oil. Bake 30 minutes at 350 degrees, then increase temperature to 400 and bake 10 minutes more.

While baking, prepare the sauce: heat oil in small saucepan, add shallot and cook about 1 minute. Raise heat to medium. Add stock and bring to boil, then reduce heat to medium low and simmer until reduced in half, about 15 minutes. Just before serving, reheat sauce to very hot. Off heat, whisk in fresh herbs, and add salt & pepper to taste. Quickly whisk in butter, 1 tablespoon at a time. Once butter has been added, serve sauce immediately.

To serve, mound onions on large plates. Spoon mixed vegetables around onions. Place meatloaf on mound of onions. Ladle sauce over meatloaves. Serve immediately, and pass extra sauce.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

monday nite meals

I'm not a big fan of Mondays. So it's nice to site down with a nice meal with your loved ones to unwind.

4th of July is an excellent time to buy beef, and I got an amazing deal last week on NY Strip Steaks ($3.99/pound on sale). So I bought a "Value Pack" of 3, froze them. Today coming back from work, I decided to BBQ.

Fired up the charcoal grill. Made au gratin potatoes from the box (kicked up with a few smashed cloves of raw garlic thrown in before cooking), some frozen mixed vegetables (kicked up with SmartBalance, raw garlic, fresh thyme, salt & pepper). What a delicious meal. I think it helped my girlfriend, who was a bit hungover from the night before.

Meals don't have to be complicated to be satisfying. In many cases for me the company and the setting (at a table, with no TV on) is as important as the taste of the food. Needless to say, NY Strip Steak is very flavorful, and it completely reminded me of eating T-Bone steaks at my Grandma's house on Friday afternoons when my brother and I would get out of school early.

Thursday, June 30, 2005

do you want a punch?

I made a "kicked up" punch yesterday:

1-1/2 oz strawberry vodka (such as Stoli)
1-1/2 oz mango rum (such as Captain Morgan's)
3/4 oz triple sec or Cointreau
1-1/2 oz orange juice (strained, no pulp)
1/2 cup pineapple juice
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Club soda
Splash of grenadine

In a cocktail shaker, add ice and combine vodka, rum, triple sec, orange juice, lemon juice, pineapple juice, and shake vigorously. Fill wine or tall cocktail glass 1/2 way. Top off glass with club soda and splash of grenadine (grenadine will give it a sunset/layered look). Garnish with a piece of pineapple, mango, or strawberry if desired.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005


Improvised a tasty Chinese chicken stir fry for two tonight, with sugar snap peas fresh from the garden. Beckey really liked the flavor of the chicken; with the marinade, it does have a nice velvety consistency. Sliced thin, the chicken cooks in about 1 minute; the key is to do it in batches in a hot pan so that the meat doesn't steam.

Chinese Chicken Stir Fry with Snap Peas
Serves 2

4 tbsp cornstarch
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp sake
1 tbsp sesame oil
Fresh ground pepper

2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, sliced across the grain into 1/4" thick slices

4 cloves garlic, cut into slivers
4 tbsp corn oil
4 tbsp. sake
2 tbsp. soy sauce
12 sugar snap peas
Fresh ground pepper to taste

Combine marinade ingredients and mix until smooth. Slice chicken (it helps if it's slightly frozen), add to marinade, stir well to coat, and set aside. Let sit 30 minutes minimum.

Chop garlic, wash sugar snap peas.

Heat skillet over high heat and add 2 tbsp. oil. Fry chicken in 3 batches, cooking each batch about 30 seconds per side, remove and drain on paper towels. Remove all chicken from pan.

Over high heat, add 2 tbsp. oil, add garlic and stirfry for 30 seconds. Add snap peas & stir fry for another 30 seconds. Add remaining sake & soy sauce and stir for 15 seconds. Add chicken, stir for 30 seconds, and remove from heat. Serve immediately in bowls.

Friday, May 13, 2005

Philly cheese steak

In Pennsylvania to visit my brother, so we went to get cheese steak today at Tony Luke's. Here's a pretty accurate recipe for authentic Philly cheese steak, courtesy of Pat's King of Steaks. People have almost religious arguments here regarding which is better, Pat's or Tony Luke's.

Here's more information:

So what else is Philly known for culinarily? Apparently soft pretzels and Italian sandwiches (hoagies). See:

Asian Red Cabbage Salad

My mom used to make a salad called "fumi salad," which is a wilted cabbage salad with an Asian influence. So I made it for the first time this week, with my own little twists (the biggest of which was to use red cabbage instead of regular green cabbage), and it turned out delicious. The great thing is, that you can make it 8 hours in advance, and it holds its crunch and was still great. I estimate that it would probably keep 24 hours before turning too soft.

Asian Red-Cabbage Salad

1 head red cabbage, finely shredded
1 package ramen noodles, crushed (discard the flavor packet)
1 carrot, finely shredded
5 green onions, into diagonal slices, including part of the green part
Slivered almonds, sesame seeds and/or sunflower seeds, to taste (optional)

1/3 cup salad oil
1 tbsp. sesame oil
6 tbsp sugar
6 tablespoons white vinegar
1 tsp fresh ground black pepper
2 tbsp. soy sauce

Whisk together all dressing ingredients and set aside. In large bowl, add shredded cabbage, ramen noodles, shredded carrot, green onions and almonds/sunflower seeds. Whisk dressing again, add to salad, toss, cover with plastic wrap and refridgerate for at least 2 hours. When ready to serve, address flavor of dressing as necessary (add more vinegar, etc).

Monday, May 09, 2005

Fryin' Chick'n 'n' things

Watching FoodTV during lunch today, I saw Tyler Florence talk about fried chicken. A couple of tips:

1. Season your flour (salt, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, cayenne)
2. Season your buttermilk with hot sauce
3. Coat the chicken as follows: flour, wet, flour again, and leave it in the flour to soak up for a few minutes
4. Heat oil to 375 degrees F., temperature will drop when adding lots of chicken pieces.

Saw Mark Bittman's show (How to Cook Everything) for the first time, he was visiting Gary Danko. Bittman suggested an interesting dessert: freeze an overripe persimmon, let it defrost a little, and it tastes like sorbet.

Saturday, May 07, 2005

the corner place

That's the name of one of my favorite Korean BBQ restaurants in Los Angeles.
Went with Beckey & some friends this last Thursday for Korean BBQ.

I love bulgogi and the kimchi too, so super delicious. With 4 large Hite beers and 2 chicken and 2 beef dishes for 6 people, it was very reasonable (<$20 per person) and very delicious. If you want to try making bulgogi yourself, here are a few good sources:

Kimchi is a different story, more complicated, more preparation.
Here's some links: (annoying graphics but neat recipes)

where to buy specialty food items online

Sometimes, based on a certain cuisine, you may need to track down specialty ingredients that aren't readily available at your local supermarket. I live near a big city (L.A.) and in the past I have even had difficulty tracking down certain items in ethnic markets as well.

Fortunately, we have the Internet!

Asian Foods & Supplies

Pacific Rim Gourmet:, for fermented black beans (a.k.a salted black bean)

The Spice House:, for all kinds of spices

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

bat out of hell

Beckey & I made a great version of meatloaf about 2 weeks or so ago from Roget Hayot's Authentic Cafe cookbook. Super moist, not dry at all, extremely flavorful, and served with garlic mashed potatoes and caramelized onions. Mmmm good.

garlic pasta is for suckers!

As "Precious Roy" says, "buy my garlic pasta. You guys are suckers!" Seriously, I made a pasta in lemon vodka cream sauce that Beckey must've really liked (she ate her whole serving!)

Fusilli in a Creamy Lemon-Vodka Sauce

Serves 2

1/2 pound fusilli (corkscrew) pasta
3 tbsp. butter or Smart Balance butter substitute (don't use margarine!)
10 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 tbsp all-purpose flour
1/8 cup fresh lemon juice (juice of 1/2 of a large lemon)
1/4 tsp. lemon zest
1/4 cup vodka
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. dried basil
1 tsp. dried thyme
Salt & fresh ground pepper to taste
1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated (reserve 1/4 cup)

In a large pot, boil water and add pasta. In a large skillet, heat butter at medium heat until melted, then add garlic, turn down heat to low and saute for 2 minutes; try not to brown the garlic. Next, turn heat up to high and mix 1 tbsp flour in skillet with garlic, and cook for 1 minute. Add milk all at once, stirring constantly until mixture begins to thicken and bubble. Add vodka , lemon juice, lemon zest, basil, thyme, and garlic powder, and cook for 2-3 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat.

Once pasta is cooked to "al dente", drain pasta. Re-heat skillet at medium heat, add parmesan cheese to sauce and stir for 1 minute. Add pasta and cook for another 1 minute until mixture is heated through. Serve in warm bowls immediately, sprinkling each serving with remaining parmesan cheese.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

grow your own

Here's a few resources with information on growing your own:

Growing Guides

Citrus from seed:


Asian Vegetable Seeds:
Burpee: http://www.burpee.comHeirloom Seeds:
Thompson & Morgan:

Monday, April 18, 2005

dress it up

Had a delicious dinner at my friend Chris' parent's house. Chris' mom Lily made an excellent meal which included:

Mixed Green Salad with cucumbers, radishes, cherry tomatoes, and Lily's special dressing (recipe follows)
Roast Beef with gravy and Green Beans
Potato Salad
Chicken Bake with cheese and broccoli
Mochi, sorbet "cake", fresh strawberries and fresh pineapple for dessert

Lily's Salad Dressing
Fantastically full of flavor, I imagine it would go great with chicken too. Don't know the quantities, so it will require some experimentation to get the proportions right.

Olive Oil
Fresh finely chopped garlic
Fresh Lemon juice
Dijon Mustard

Thursday, April 14, 2005

clouds of mushrooms

Last week has been an excellent week for cooking. Made Chicken with Calvados from the "Cast Iron Skillet Cookbook" by Sharon Kramis which Beckey gave to me a few months ago, along with Rosemary Roasted potatoes, and it was absolutely delicious. I highly recommend that book.

Bought 3 lbs of mushrooms from Costco, so I had to decide what to do with them all. So I improvised the following dish, and it turned out delicious. If you don't love mushrooms, this is not the dish for you.

Farfalle with Mushrooms and Prosciutto in Thyme-Cream Sauce

1/2 lb. farfalle (bow-tie) pasta
2 tbsp. olive oil
2 shallots, finely chopped, or 1/4 cup yellow onion finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
3 tbsp. prosciutto, finely chopped
10 large fresh mushrooms, washed & sliced 1/8-1/4" thick (your regular "white" mushrooms)
1 tbsp. paprika
4 sprigs fresh thyme
1 tbsp fresh oregano, finely chopped
1/4 cup heavy cream
Salt & pepper

In a large pot, start bringing water to a boil, and add salt to water.

Meanwhile, heat olive oil in large skillet over medium-high heat, and add shallots, garlic, and prosciutto, and saute for 30 seconds. Then turn heat to high, add mushrooms, thyme sprigs, oregano, and paprika to pan and saute for 5 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. The mushrooms will release a lot of water while cooking, but it will evaporate. Once mushroom "water" has evaporated, turn off heat.

Once pasta is cooked, drain pasta and add to skillet. Heat at high heat and stir mushroom/pasta mixture for 2 minutes. Turn off heat, then add cream and stir. Adjust salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately. Will refridgerate and re-heat nicely as well.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

freedom soup

Wow, haven't posted here in a while. Not a whole lot of focused cooking going on, plenty of eating though.

I must say that I've become really interested in eating soup lately. Made some French Onion Soup recently, had some chicken soup last night. Soup tastes good and is good for you. The healing powers of certain soups are really amazing.

French Onion Soup
Remember all of the ridiculousness about "freedom fries" when France didn't support the war in Iraq? This is a slight modification of the French Onion soup recipe from the Fannie Farmer Cookbook. The most notable addition is use of beef stock instead of water. This gives the soup the rich texture you normally associate with French Onion soup.

French Onion Soup
Serves 8
Prep time: 40 minutes

4 yellow onions, medium
1 tbsp butter
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp flour
1 liter of beef stock (preferably organic/free range, low or no sodium)
Salt & fresh ground pepper to taste
8 round or oblong slices of french baguette
1 cup parmesan cheese, grated

Slice the onions into thin rings (1/8") using a mandoline or a sharp knife. Melt butter and olive oil in a large pot over medium heat, and add onions. Saute onions, adjusting the heat so that they don't burn, until soft and golden in color over medium-low heat for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Season with pepper, add sugar and flour, and cook for additional 3 minutes.

Next add entire quantity of beef stock, raise heat to high and bring soup to boil. Meanwhile, grate parmesan cheese. Reduce heat to medium low and simmer for 20 minutes. Adjust seasonings (salt & pepper) to taste. Turn oven broiler on to prepare for last step.

Ladle soup into small heat-safe bowls. Add baguette slice to each bowl, and sprinkle with 1/8 cup parmesan cheese, and put bowls under oven broiler. Watching carefully, broil for 2-3 minutes until cheese is melted & bubbly. Carefully remove bowls from oven and serve.


Monday, January 17, 2005

not a whole lot; food memories

not a whole lot of cooking the last week or so. Just too busy with work. More reheating leftovers.
In other food news< i've recently started to really enjoy eating oatmeal at breakfast & lunch. Gives me energy & tastes good. When I was very young up until I was in my early teens, when my mom would make breakfast, many times she'd cook oatmeal and milk together with Cream of Wheat, pour it all in blender, blend till smooth, then serve with a dollop of butter, about a tablespoon or so of honey, sprinkled with cinnamon.

One of my earliest recollections of comfort food.

What else do I remember of my mom's cooking & comfort food? Some of my favorites off the top of my head:

Kashi (she called it "kasha") with bacon & sauteed onion
Fejoida (made in a crock pot with tomatoes)
Shepherd's pie (mashed potatoe crust with ground beef & onions, topped w/ cheddar cheese)
Flank steak, marinated in vinegar & garlic, broiled, served with mashed potatoes
Clam Chowder (Campbells from a can, but with bread, it's good, who cares?)

The older she got, the less interested she became in cooking for us. Although now, when I come over to visit, she makes some great salads, sweet & savory, some with mandarin oranges & avocado, some with tomato & cucumber, all very tasty.

One thing my mom seems pretty good at is taking care of herself physically. She eats well, exercises plenty and regularly, and is in great shape for her age. Her cholesterol is low & she has plenty of energy.

Speaking of clam chowder, I remember going to "Meager Meals" every Wednesday at our church/parochial school during Lent. It was like a parishoner potluck, everyone would bring a soup & some bread, and that was dinner. Light but tasty.

When my brother & I were very little, we used to go to Grandma's every Friday after school, & she would cook for us. We'd play outside, then Grandma would have for each of us a small T-bone steak, green red-leaf lettuce salad with sour cream & dill dressing, and thin-cut potatoes fried kinda crispy in oil. Wow, just brings back memories.

In any case, I need to eat healthier. I find myself drinking too much soda & eating too much junk food (chips, etc) that I never used to eat when I was younger. Also my much more sedentary lifestyle & slower metabolism & thus I have somewhat high cholesterol.

Getting back to my young days, one last food thought for the night. Around 1982 or 1983 I travelled with my family (parents & brother) to Chicago to a folk dance festival. I remember that I couldn't really remember the cities so much, but I remember for many years I could remember in detail each restaurant I ate at. I remember the "Bumbleberry Inn" in Utah, as well as a Holiday Inn (perhaps?) in Gillette (Iowa? dunno) that had a swimming pool inside, and big frogs or toads roaming around outside on the grass in the damp warm night air. I remember vomiting on my brother in the back of my folks' brick red 1981 Oldsmobile Cutlass diesel station wagon, after driving windy roads in Utah/Bryce Canyon, sitting in the back of the station wagon & having just eaten a blueberry yogurt Nature Valley granola bar. To this day I can't stand yogurt granola bars. Oh well. Good night!

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

chilin' part 2

made chili again last night, a few tweaks and I think it's the best one so far:

1. Add 1 extra tablespoon garlic powder
2. Mince 1 entire head of garlic and add after ground beef has browned.
3. Saute onions first, remove, cook ground beef until brown, and drain off fat.
4. Add 1-28 ounce (big) can whole tomatoes (or you could use 2-14oz cans)
5. Add 6 oz tomato paste (1/2 of a big 12oz can).

Very nice, even chili flavor with just enough spice.