Thursday, August 28, 2008

College Food Challenge

I just moved into my dorm room yesterday, and while there were many pleasant surprises (larger room than expected, wood floor instead of tile, drapes instead of icky plastic blinds) the fact remains that I no longer have a stove or oven within my living space. My residence hall doesn't even have a communal-kitchenette-sort-of-deal, so for the next year or so (barring visits home, to my boyfriend's house, and to my friends' residence halls with kitchen access) I'll be cooking and attempting to bake using only the following appliances: a hot-pot express, a microwave and possibly a rice-cooker. So far, I only have the microwave and the hot-pot, but I might need to visit my favorite grocery store of all time, this giant Chinese grocery store, to invest in a rice cooker. If anyone is reading and feels like sharing their favorite microwave or hot-pot recipes, I'd love to hear from you.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Tantalizing Tomatoes!

Although there are quite a few food-blog events that I note, and then never take the time to complete, this event, hosted by Joelen's Culinary Adventures, was one that I just couldn't pass up. Of course, as per usual I'm writing my post at the very last minute...

As a friendly "Iron Chef" competition, this blogging adventure simply required participants to make a dish based around that incredible summer fruit (or veggie), the tomato. I decided to make two different types of tomato; a pan-fried green tomato, and a sweet red-tomato relish. Really, it was a tomato jam, but my parents are rather squeamish about savory food items in "jam", and thus it became a relish.

Both versions of the tomato turned out very nicely; the slight tart-ness of the fried green tomato was balanced nicely by the sweetness of the tomato jam. I kept the jam chunky, but I might puree the tomatoes in the future, and serve it as more of a spread.

The recipe I used for the fried tomatoes was from (originally from Cookie, by Victoria Granoff) at this link. Today I felt comfortable enough to tweak the recipe quite a bit, in that I used panko crumbs instead of cornmeal, added considerably more paprika to the panko crumbs, and pan-fried it in olive oil instead of deep-frying them in vegetable oil. The tomato jam recipe is also from, from a recipe that included the tomato jam to be served with turkey medallions, found at this link.

After taking a few pictures, I devoured my plate-ful (I didn't actually finish cooking until around 8:15pm, due to issues with the cupcakes I was baking at the same time) before realizing that this dish could make a great play on eggplant parmesan! So next time, I think I'll serve the dish in a stack; green tomato slices, topped with tomato jam and sprinkled with fresh mozzarella, perhaps stuck under the broiler for some nice color. Of course, it's quite a broad interpretation of eggplant parmesan (green tomato instead of eggplant, tomato jam instead of sauce, mozzarella insted of parmesan...) but still. It might make a nice presentation.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Is anyone out there....?

Because if you are there, and you know how to make gnocchi, I want to hear from you. I made my third attempt at those confounding Italian potato dumplings, and I still can't get the texture quite right. I'm not even going to take a picture of the result, they were that far off. The gnocchi tasted fine, but I just can't get the firm, almost-rubbery-but-not-tough texture so characteristic of gnocchi. Mine just taste like mashed potatoes, with a thin skin holding together each dumpling. The recipe I've used these past two times is from Simple Italian Food, one of Mario Batali's cookbooks. Any advice?

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Presto Pasta Night!

As per usual, I'm running rather behind, but I have actually made the deadline this time for Presto Pasta Night #75! This food blogging event is being hosted by Michelle of Greedy Gourmet, which can be found, along with instructions, at this link.

I was throwing together a quick meal tonight, as my mom was at a meeting, and while I was in a pasta salad mood, the Picky One wanted cream sauce. I insisted that summer was no time for heavy cream sauces, but she was in a mood, so we found a nice, lighter cream sauce with hints of lemon. I think the sauce could have used a bit more flavor, perhaps some fresh parsley or basil, but it turned out okay. I served the pasta with grilled chicken ,tossed for about 20 minutes with a garlic-lemon marinade, and some fresh red lettuce, tomatoes (from my garden!) and the last bits of a bagged salad. The marinade is from Cooking Light magazine, grabbed from a recipe that called for chicken thighs and a side of roasted tomatoes. The cream sauce was the Lemon Pasta Sauce from

Just your usual morning indulgence...

Before my sister left for camp, a whopping seven weeks or so ago, she requested an edible homecoming gift. More specifically, she flipped through my Bread Bible (!) to the recipe she's been eying since I bought that lovely book weeks back. She wanted the Chocolate Sticky Buns, a breakfast treat of the brioche variety.

These actually weren't as painful as I'd anticipated; true, the dough required a lot of babysitting, but the ganache filling and almond-caramel coating took no more than an hour or so. I was quite pleased with the result, although mine weren't as pretty as the ones in the book...sadly, I do not in fact own a Flexipan number 1601 mold, so after slicing the buns jelly-roll style, I just placed them in a 9-by-13 baking dish and let them rise until they resembled really poufy cinnamon rolls.

Despite their appearance, the buns were deliciously decadent. I loved the oozing chocolate right out of the oven, and my sister liked them just as much once the chocolate had set.

Sunday, August 3, 2008