Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Not Too Much

This week has been busy, and I haven't really kept up on my cooking besides lots of fried egg sandwiches on homemade english muffins, and a couple of quick green vegetable stir fries. I did try(and nearly succeeded) to make couscous with cornmeal, an experiment I will revisit. It went in a salad with beets, mozzarella and mint/caper pesto. I also made a roasted potato and green bean salad with tomatillo puree that was pretty tasty. I apologize for not having pictures of any of these things.
Now for the rundown:

Baked Egg with Cream, Heirloom Tomatoes, Capers and Fried Eggplant; Rye English Muffin; Mustard Green Salad.

Zucchini "Noodles," Golden Tomato Sauce, and Minted Yogurt.

Red Potato and Asian Pear Gratin with lots of Cream and Black Pepper.

Red Potato, White Corn, Red Onion and Sungold Tomato Hash; Poached Egg.

The Best Pizza I Have Yet to Make(and some of the best I have had).
I wanted to cook for my roommate and I(it was recently his birthday) so I decided to make a Sicilian-ish pizza. The four topping divisions are as follows(clockwise from top left): Zucchini, Mozzarella, Mint; Red Onion, Tomato Sauce, Mozzarella; Roasted Yellow Peppers, Red Onion, Tomato Sauce, Mozzarella; Tomato Sauce, Cured Olives, Capers. Everything got Pecorino Romano, Black Pepper, Sea Salt, Olive Oil.
It was ridiculously good, and I was of the belief that you couldn't make pizza at home good enough to compare to what comes out of pizza ovens. But it worked. Preheat the oven to 550˚F for about an hour. My oven tiles got nice and hot - the pizza baked in 10 minutes or so(maybe less). The crust was airy, chewy and all of those other things you want the crust on a square pie to be(not including the sometimes thinner grandma-style pies). I was a proud father. I will do it again and post the dough recipe, but it was pretty close to my basic bread recipe, though with more gluten, more salt and a bit more barley malt.

Monday, September 10, 2007

The Hits Just Keep on Coming

This past two weeks have been pretty crazy with work, although it didn't keep me out of the kitchen. I may include some recipes below, but we'll cross that bridge when we come to it.

Grilled Zucchini, Red Onion, Red Pepper and Ricotta Sandwich on Weird Bagel Bread.

Cornmeal Pancakes with Peaches and Maple Syrup.

Fried Yardlong Beans with Jalepeno, Shallots, Arugula, Jasmine Rice, Fried Egg, Tarragon.

Fried Egg, Fried Onion, and Womanchego on Homemade English Muffin.

Cut pasta with Basil-Tarragon Pesto and Cured Olives; Homemade Bread.

Greenbean, Yellow Tomato, and Jalepeno Salad with Sherry Vinegar.

Homemade "Supermarket-Style" Italian Bread.

Unhealthily-Rich French Toast with Greengage Plum Butter.

Grilled Womanchego and Tomato on Homemade Bread.

Sauteed Okra with Shallots, Tomatoes, Jalepenos, Ground Peanuts, Jasmine Rice.

Whole Wheat Pancakes with Maple Syrup.

Spicy Panzanella with Grilled Tomatoes, Jalepenos, Yellow Bell Pepper, Garlic.

Almond Flour-Sour Milk Oven Pancake with Greengage Plum Butter.

Fried Okra Tacos with Grilled Tomato/Tomatillo Salsa, Homemade Corn Tortillas.

Beetroot and Mustard Greens with Sesame Seeds and Black Pepper

Red Flannel Hash with Mustard Greens, Pecorino Romano, Poached Egg.

Incredibly Spicy Greenbean-Tomato-Roasted Bell Pepper Tagine with Mustard Seeds; Couscous; Greek Yogurt.

Potato-Zucchini Hash; Crispy Fried Egg; Lemon Cucumber; Homemade Rye English Muffin.


To celebrate my mother's 60th birthday, I cooked a 4-course meal for 11. It was by far the most consistent and cohesive meal I have ever made. I have a tendency to fall off at the main course, but this time it worked out beautifully. The curse is lifted!

Cold Smoked Red Bell Pepper-Charentais Cantaloupe Soup, Homemade Ricotta(this was not served in a demitasse at the meal but in a teacup - this photo is a recreation).

Duck Confit, Wilted Leek and Sprout Creek Ouray Cheese Tart with Almond-Whole Wheat Crust(made with the Amish Pat-in-the-Pan method); Burnt Greengage Plum Butter.

Summer Squash Terrine with Gelled Sherry Vinaigrette; Roasted Eggplant-Pine Nut Crostini; Confit Tomato and Baby Arugula Salad with Greek Thyme Honey Vinaigrette.

Crisp-Skinned Arctic Char with Cretan Olive Oil and Pink Salt; Lavender-Scented Gnocchi(made from a few of the 60 red potatoes my mom received from our farmer friends) with Basil Pesto; Steamed Waxbeans; Sweet and Sour Radishes.

This is an unbelievably beautiful and delicious Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting and Toasted Hazelnuts made by my sister-in-law(there was also a delicious Black Magic Cake with Brown Sugar Glaze made by my brother) which we had for dessert, along with a bottle of Chateau Frank Celebre Cremant from the Finger Lakes(which was very very good).

After all this I was exhausted, and swore to take a day off of cooking the next day.
It was not to be.

My aunt and uncle are moving, and brought to the dinner some things they are geting rid of that they thought we might be interested in. One was an old Mirro Cookie Press from WWII that belonged to my grandmother, which included in the box a lovely little aluminum donut/biscuit cutter. So my brother and I thought we had to make donuts, considering we had a donut cutter. I mean, you might as well, right? Right.

The night before we threw together a dough after not recieving much guidance from any of the recipes we could find. Here is the recipe, but be aware it makes around 32 donuts, give or take. And donut holes, which are hard to cook.

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 envelope Rapid-Rise yeast
1 tsp salt
1/3 cup sugar
1 cup apple cider, warm
2/3 cup milk, warm
2 eggs, beaten
a little nutmeg

Mix this all together in a large bowl. It will be very wet. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in refrigerator over night.

In the morning, knead on a liberally floured board, adding just enough flour so the dough can be handled without being too sticky. Roll it out to be around 1/2" thick, give or take. With a donut or biscuit cutter(or any sort of round cutter, although you could make square donuts if you wanted) cut as many donuts as you can, gently re-rolling and cutting the scraps until you have used up all the dough. Transfer cut pieces to floured sheet pans and allow to rise until doubled in size(we did this rise in a warm oven, considering the dough was still cold from the overnight refrigeration).
Heat canola(or rice bran or your favorite frying oil) in a heavy pot, 1"+ deep to 365°. When the oil is hot, fry donuts one or two at a time, depending on the size of the pot, without crowding them. Keep an eye on the oil temperature and pause your frying to allow it to come back up to the correct temperature. If you do this right, these donuts will be light as air and not greasy at all. when you take them out of the oil, give them a second on a piece of paper towel, and then roll them in sugar, cinnamon, or whatever else you want. We made a couple with shredded coconut stuffed in the hole, which were pretty tasty.

As you can see, it makes a lot of donuts. But I think you could halve the recipe pretty easily.

And thanks to all of my readers who have told me they are actually readers. I am trying to come up with a way to reward you.
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