Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Fondue and Finger Food

For my last night in Phoenix, several friends came over and we had a girls' night filled with Rock Band, trying on clothes, and of course delicious food. We wanted to try fondue because I in fact own a fondue pot, but realizing that we did not have the gel fuel for said pot chose to cook it in a good 'ol saucepan for the same results. I googled fondue recipes and found this cheese fondue
and this chocolate one. For cheese dipping items, we toasted bread with garlic, and laid it on a plate with crackers and pretzels. For the chocolate, we had bananas and the pretzels as well. We struggled with the cheese a little, as it separated because we cooked it too long, but with caution you will have yourself an excellent party menu.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Thai Kabocha Bisque

A sunny Sunday in December - good day to hit up an Asian market for the makings of this brightly flavored, colorful soup. (Especially since my co-bloggers are home with our mom being pampered, and I'm not there yet - time to spoil myself and some friends.)

I followed the (fantastic) recipe reasonably closely, though I do I recommend larger quantities of a lot of the key ingredients to really amp up the sunny flavor. (I also recommend skipping the heavy cream.)

2 kabocha squash

Group one:
2 tsp minced garlic
1 TB minced ginger
1 tsp grated galangal
Innards of 1 stalk lemongrass, minced & crushed
2 finely diced shallots

Group two:
2 handfuls of Thai basil leaves & one of cilantro leaves
2.5 TB red Thai curry paste
2 tsp sweet curry powder
1 cup water

Group three:
2 cans coconut milk
2 quarts stock
4 TB date sugar (I didn't have this & used brown)

Group four:
2 tsp fish sauce (you can get vegetarian fish sauce at Asian markets)
Juice of 6 key limes or 2-3 regular limes (maybe more)

Start by roasting the squash. Halve & seed them, then brush both sides (skin too) with oil and sprinkle with salt. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes or until totally soft.

For soup broth, start by sweating Group One ingredients in a little oil for a few minutes. Then add Group Two ingredients and mix to dissolve curries. Add Group Three ingredients, bring to a boil, reduce heat & simmer for 20 minutes. Then add the squash (peeled, of course) and simmer for another 15. When soup had simmered long enough to blend flavors, add Group Four. Then adjust the overall flavor - it should be bright and tangy, with, as the original recipe says, a sweet-hot-salty-sour balance. (Adding sugar, curry, fish sauce, and lime respectively will balance these).

Finally, blend the soup.... never have I so sorely yearned for an IMMERSION BLENDER. I didn't bother straining out the little bits of leaves and lemongrass - they looked nice and weren't bothersome when eating.

This was my favorite new thing I've made in a long time - I just wanted to keep tasting it even after I'd had two bowls. The original plan was to whip up some pad thai or something as well, but the soup felt sufficient all by itself. (Read: I planned poorly and ran out of time! Still happy with dinner, though.)

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Kicking off Christmas: Stromboli

My roommates and I had ourselves a little Christmas party, so of course good eats were essential. We chose this recipe for Stromboli from Roomie #1 and her family and it was heavenly. It keeps in the fridge for a few days, but make sure to put it in the microwave to maintain the delicious melty middle. Perfect for Christmas parties, Christmas morning or with some good friends and a cup of hot chocolate.
In a bread machine, place:
1 1/2 t. yeast
3 cups flour
1/2 t. salt
1 1/2 eggs
3 T. sugar
3/8 cup (not oz) cream cheese
3/4 cup milk
Start bread machine.
For filling, mix together:
8 oz. cream cheese
1 cup powdered sugar
Roll out dough into a rectangle on a floured surface. Spread cream cheese down the middle third. Sprinkle with 1/2 cup chocolate chips. Fold edges to the middle and ends up. Flip onto greased cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 to 30 minutes. Call Mom and tell her how great it is.
The last line is my favorite. Either share with your mom, or call her and tell her Merry Christmas. :)

Ooey Gooey S'mores Cake

For my friend J's 21st birthday, a few of us made her this fabulous s'mores cake from Annie at Annie's Eats. It uses graham cracker crumbs as flour quite successfully. Annie discussed having problems with the fluff tearing up the cake when she spread it, but we just heated the fluff up right in the jar (made of glass, not plastic, Katie :) ) and that helped significantly. Beyond that, we made no changes, so THE END.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Simple Chinese Eggplant

Years ago when I was just learning to cook, I came home from college and grandly announced that I would be making dinner. I then quizzed everyone about their preferences and set off to the store, considering and rejecting numerous possibilities before I settled on Eggplant Parmesan. I got home and was just laying out ingredients when Katelyn came upstairs, took one look, and said "What are you doing? The ONLY thing I asked you not to cook was eggplant!"


Anyway, fast forward a few years. Katelyn has happily learned to enjoy eggplant, and I thought I'd welcome her back to cold weather with a nice Chinese hotpot - always good for emptying out the veggie drawer.

Begin by peeling and cubing a large eggplant. Salt it heavily to draw out the liquid, and let it drain for about an hour in a colander so the water can escape. Then rinse off the salt and squeeze and pat dry. I added carrot strips, asparagus, and kale, but nearly any veggies could play a supporting role here.

Mix up the following in a glass bowl - I didn't measure anything so just taste:
Sesame oil
Soy sauce
Vinegar (I had some white vinegar flavored with lemongrass)

Toss the veggies and sauce in a covered corningware dish - I wanted to use my clay pot, but it's only big enough for one portion - with a generous portion of sesame seeds and some sliced canned lemongrass if you've got it. Bake at 400 degrees for 1/2 hour to an hour, until eggplant is soft and silky. Serve over a nutty red or brown rice.

(I'm hoping I've redeemed myself for the Eggplant Parmesan...)

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Biscuits (without gluten!)

My computer just pasted one copied paragraph so many times that my 20 page paper magically became 1,136 pages.

While I wait for it to undo that, I thought I'd share these amazing gluten free biscuits I made tonight. I've been making poor P fend for himself or cook dinner, so we've haven't been eating many vegetables.

Right, so to remedy that I made biscuits. [Ok, they did accompany large bowls of balsamic-roasted veggies.] And they were incredible, light, warm, buttery, everything a biscuit should be, with or without gluten. These were--you guessed it--without. I'd recommend these for breakfast, for your afternoon tea snack, with salad or soup, or as part of a good 'ol southern dinner.

Combine 3/4 cup brown rice flour, 1 cup cornstarch, and 1/2 cup gluten free pancake or baking mix. Add 1 tsp. salt, 1 tsp. xanthan gum, 1 tsp baking powder, and 3/4 tsp baking soda. Mix thoroughly.

Cut in 4 tblsp butter.

Add 3/4 cup milk, 3/4 cup water, 1 scant tblsp apple cider vinegar, and 1 beaten egg.

Bake at 350 on parchment paper for 15-18 minutes. When the biscuits look like they are begging for honey, remove.