Wednesday, August 29, 2012 turn again? You shouldn't've...

Dear Turkey,
Since you live a life of fabulous world travel, I thought I would share with you my East/West Wraps. As you know, I like making up corny names for things that I make; most of them either end with "sensation" or "extravaganza" (but I'm trying to work in "jubilee"). My husband wondered how I invented something so, in his words, creative. I told him that I just opened up the fridge, took out all the things that I needed to use up, and thought about how to combine them into something palatable. They were so palatable that we have actually bought the ingredients for the express purpose of making them since then.
Here's what I did: cut up one red pepper, one sweet potato, and three shallots thin(ly). Toss with olive oil, balsamic, salt and pepper and bake at 450 until JUST done and then broil for three minutes. Meanwhile, cut up some chard, spinach, arugula, cilantro, and  green onions small(ly) and marinate them in rice vinegar, sugar, and salt for 30-60 minutes. After you turn off the oven, wrap up the tortilla shells in foil and throw them in there for a few minutes to get warm (it tastes better than the microwave!). Then serve everything with sour cream (I don't usually like sour cream, but it does the trick here). For dessert, we had the chocolate banana ice cream that I blogged about a while ago; we call it "banana yogurt ice-cream."
Feast your eyes:

I moss you,

Saturday, August 25, 2012

You're In Canada Where They Don't Have Computers so I'm Blogging Out of Turn

Subtitle: I Actually Took my Own Picture for this Post!

Ta Da:

SubSubtitle: How my Husband Gets me to Like Fish (how do you decide which words to capitalize in a title anyway?)

Dear Turkey,
These are poblano peppers and tiny graffiti eggplants hollowed out and stuffed with chopped up cod (the kind that's okay to buy -- is that Pacific?) and shrimp, mixed with a little sugar, salt, and an egg white. The shrimp came cooked and we salted and baked the cod beforehand. Then we baked the stuffed veggies in the oven at 425 in an oiled cast-iron pan until the veggies started to cook. We made a sauce of black bean paste, tamari, ginger, sugar, cilantro, and red pepper flakes, and thickened it with some cornstarch dissolved in water. We poured that on the stuffed veggies and baked the whole thing for a few more minutes. It was beautiful and delicious; I felt like I had really been at a Chinese restaurant. It's pretty salty and spicy so I recommend some rice and maybe a nice cucumber-rice vinegar salad on the side.
I moss you,

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

My Husband's Diet


Dear Turkey,
Your mushroom puffs look great. I can't wait to enjoy them on the porch of your camp in Canada, which is one reason why I am making my husband and baby get new passports this week. Too bad you ruined them with chicken. The mushroom puffs, that is.
I ate some sesame fake-chicken at Wegmans yesterday and it was gross because it actually tasted like chicken. I love Wegmans food, but I have some rules that I usually follow when I eat there (I have rules for lots of restaurants -- Moosewood: if they have something Mexican get that, if not but they have something Asian then get that, if not, get something with filo dough, but don't get pasta, and don't, under any circumstances, get fish), like only get things that they make in front of you, or that you can see them making (like subs, sushi, pizza, or lattes).
Anyway. my blender is not broken, and luckily the banana-yogurt ice cream is on my husband's diet. Did I mention that he is on the postpartum diet? While I had already lost all of my baby weight over a month ago (thank you very much, breastfeeding), my husband is still working on his. So that means that I CAN'T BAKE ANYTHING until he loses seven pounds! This is killing me! So whenever someone invites me over, I bake something seriously unhealthy with lots of butter and leave it at his or her house.
On Saturday I made this cake from Fannie Farmer that my husband tasted at a faculty meeting. 1.5 sticks of butter in one loaf pan can really cancel out any health benefits provided by the zucchini. I knew it was going to be delicious because about ten minutes after putting it in my oven, I smelled that unmistakable smell of things running over. At first it smells like the best s'more you ever ate. And then it smells like burning hair. So then I put a cookie sheet under it and, when it came out, I got to eat all of those little bonus pieces that had baked onto the cookie sheet.
Morals of the story: chicken=bad, diets=bad, always put something under what you're baking unless you enjoy cleaning your oven.
I moss you,

Monday, August 13, 2012

High On Shrooms

Dear Tofurkey,

I'm sorry to hear about your blender, and sorrier that we cannot afford a (rigged) giveaway that would get you a Vitamix to replace it. Someday I'm sure you will get one and I can assure you it will survive the ice cream making described in that recipe. I have already made similar things (some of which you've tasted) and my Vitamix has never let me down. They are definitely delicious, though not, I think, a substitute for real ice cream.

This week, as I told you on the phone (since we will not become pseudo-internet friends), I tried hard to replicate one of our childhood favorites: mushroom puffs. For those who will read this blog when we are famous enough to afford giveaways and who may not know about mushroom puffs, let me describe them: OMFGSOFCKINGGOODICANDIEHAPPYNOW. That's the sound you make after you take your first bite. Unfortunately, future ignorant reader, you will never know that firsthand because these delicacies were made by the Pepperidge Farm company which several years ago stopped making them. How could they possibly do that if they were so good? Well, I have a theory. You see, when I was younger, we would buy them in Canada on our way to our cottage. Usually, we would buy every last box in the store. They were little puff pastries filled with  mushrooms and onions smothered in a white wine cream sauce. You would toast them to golden brown and consume the pure happiness that resulted. But as we grew older, they became scarce, until finally we could not find them. We wrote comments to the stores, asking them to get them and were told that they did not sell them anymore. So we wrote the company, and were rebuffed, even when we asked for the recipe! Why should they want to protect a recipe they would not use anymore? I think that as processed food became more profitable, they took these off the market because they were made with real, wholesome, delicious ingredients and now they do not want to remind our chemistry-addled stomachs of the true deliciousness of real food so they will not even tell you how to make them.

Never fear! I started with the recipe you gave me in your cookbook to me, the one adapted fro Deborah Madison I think? Here are the results.

This attempt was good, but not really a mushroom puff by far. This was partly my own fault. One, we do not have a tart pan and since I was laughed at for buying a pastry crimper recently, I did not buy one. So when I poured the egg and cream over the top, it ran over the flat sides of the pastry and basically formed a bath. So it wasn't really baked so much as poached. Also, it doesn't call for wine and the herbs weren't quite right. So I tried again this past week. This time I used a slightly more labor-intensive pastry dough and I blind baked it first. I should have baked it even longer because the bottom still was crispy, but next time I will. I sauteed leeks, onions, and mushrooms and deglazed the pan with white wine, adding rosemary, fresh thyme, salt, and pepper. When I reduced, I threw out the rosemary sprig and added some half and half and a little grated gruyere. Once that reduced and thickened, I poured it into the pastry and used the extra dough to make a thatchwork top crust. I also added some seasoned roast chicken to the bottom, which was really good, but obviously not for you and not a part of the original mushroom puff spirit (use of chicken voids OMFGSOFCKINGGOODI CANDIEHAPPYNOW guarantee). Here are the results:

So they weren't perfect, but they were almost there. If I added more cream to the sauce and baked the pastry dough all the ay through before adding the filling first, I think I'd be there. I hope sometime soon we can have a good ol' days mushroom puff on the porch at Canada with our families. Meanwhile, maybe you'll be inspired to try too and we can compare notes.

Miss you and love you,

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

How I Broke My Blender

Dear Turkey,
Today we are going to do our first blog giveaway! We are giving away a Vitamix!
Just kidding. I really wish that we were rich and famous bloggers and we could give away a Vitamix. I would give it to myself, since you already have one, and you and I are the only people who read this blog. Maybe you could start blogging about how great yours is, and then the Vitamix company will send us a free one as a promotion.
Dream on.
In the meantime I will tell you about how I think I broke my blender. I'm not 100% sure it's broken, since I've been afraid to try it again after it started smoking and smelling like burnt tires. And I already broke my food processor (screw came out), but I'm also pretending that it's not broken either. Here is something that I have in my kitchen that will probably never break.
That said, this is how I may have broken my blender, and it was almost worth it.

(NB: You would think that I would know the Italian word for "fry" since I did gain about ten pounds when I studied abroad in Italy.)
(Another NB: it's 7:00 and I am at work...not in bed, thank you very much.)
I moss you,

Monday, August 6, 2012

Can't Beet Chevron!

Dear Tofurkey,

My spell check did not know "frittata" either. Fortunately, all those years of 501 verbs in the backseats of cars with you got me to the spelling. Clearly you couldn't recall the past participle of "friggere" (to fry), which is fritto. I suppose you have need of your brain cells for other superfluous tasks like nursing your baby, keeping your house in god repair, or other nonsense.

I am happy to bring babies into our correspondence (especially yours, whose cuteness I can vouch for). I may bring the triplets in from time to time too (I just cooked for them for the first time with reasonable success). So no need to hold back! That blog looks really cool and maybe I'll get something from it for the kids (or for us). I have always loved fruit leather, but never made it. I probably should try. Are cherry and strawberry easy fruits to use? You know red is always the best flavor!

Last weekend, we had or Canadian neighbors over for dinner (stereotypes must work--they are so nice!). I made two things that you had suggested to me: Mark Bittman's tomato paella and your Beets & Cukes Summer Salad. Look!

OK, so the pictures are a little adulterated, but that's because they were so delicious that I couldn't get pictures before we started devouring the food! I made the paella with shrimp and fried them lightly before I added the rice. It worked great. I would probably add some other shellfish next time, and other veggies. It's a fantastic start for a paella though. And the salad was delicious too. Next time I'm going to make a balsamic reduction with thyme so that I can remove the thyme sprigs and not have the dressing be gritty, but otherwise it was perfect.

The difficulty in preparation came when I asked Angel to get goat cheese. He knows that I'm a food snob so he tries to get precise instructions on what to buy. I told him there would be logs of chevre there, or he could get the white plastic tubs with the green top. He said, "no that's Chevron, not goat cheese." I tried to tell him that chevre was goat cheese. He vehemently disagreed. I then appealed to the fact that I studied French and his best French is "huh, huh, huh." He still didn't believe me. Fortunately, saved the day--chevre: any cheese made from goat's milk. I get no benefit of the doubt, but at least we didn't end up with Chevron on our food!


Thursday, August 2, 2012

It's Time to Discuss...Babies!!!!

Dear Turkey,
Thank you for sharing your awesome brunch menu. The frittata looks beautiful (I had to look on your blog post to find out how to spell frittata, since apparently spell-check has never eaten a frittata, but now my fingers have memorized it). I think I need to start using my own pictures (like you do) and stop plagiarizing from the internet.
I hope that you are impressed that I have let our blog go on for like a whole week without changing the subject to...babies. As a rule, I only like to watch movies, read books, or go to websites that are about babies. Dear Readers: as I will not be posting a picture of my baby on this website, let me just tell you that if you went to a random playdate with a bunch of moms and babies, mine is probably the only one there cute enough to be in a commercial (too bad we can't say the same for his mother).
Anyway, I love reading "mommy food blogs," (and so do you, since smittenkitchen and food52 both qualify), especially because in a few months I will be cooking for my baby in the actual cooking sense, as in not simply turning what I eat into breast milk.
I just started reading weelicious. Now, I know that you may not want to click on this link because you might think that "weelicious" is an uncool sounding name for a blog. No pressure. However, this is a cool blog (even though it has meat on it). It has a kid food section, but also an adult food section. I'm going to try this banana leather:
(Photo: ... okay I'll stop plagiarizing tomorrow...
I love fruit leather, but it's so expensive, and so easy to make at home.
I moss you,

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

What's fritatta with you?

Those pot pies sound delicious. I might have to make them (with the clams and bacon, thank you!).
I'll probably have to wait until I've worked off this past weekend's brunch to make them though since indeed they do not look spare.

My brunch was, according to one friend, "stupid good," which I think is a compliment. There were mimosas and mixed fruits, and a hash that was a little more like mash than I prefer but still good. I made a frittata with ham, gruyere, and carmelized veggies. I sauteed some onions and peppers until they started to brown, added a little brown sugar, then added mushrooms and tomatoes and spinach. I deglazed the pan with some white wine and let it reduce. Then I added the cut up ham and took the pan off the heat before I added the already combined 10 beaten eggs (some just the whites), some milk, and shredded gruyere with salt and pepper. After a stir, I put it back on the heat for five minutes, then popped it in an oven at 425 for about 15 minutes. I finished it with some shredded asiago and chives. It was delicious.

Of course, the best part were the sticky buns I told you about. You should make them for your husband when he's out of his baked-goods-blackout-period. To start, you make a batch of brioche. Joanne Chang's recipe is excellent but probably any will do. To make the goo (which is really what it's all about), you melt 3/4 cup of unsalted butter over medium heat and then whisk in 330 g (1.5 cups) light brown sugar until it dissolves. Then you remove the pan from the heat and whisk in 115 g of honey (1/3 cup), 80 grams heavy cream (1/3 cup), and 80 grams water (1/3 cup). Finally add 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt and let cool. Like the dough, you can make this ahead of time and keep it in the fridge until you're ready. Then take out the dough and roll out a piece about 16 x 12 inches and 1/4 inch thick. Combine 55 grams (1/4 cup) light brown sugar and 50 grams (1/4 cup) granulated sugar in a bowl with 1/8 teaspoon cinammon and 50 grams (1/2 cup) of toasted and chopped pecans (I learned from Chang's book that you should always toast your nuts, unless they're Angel's and spicy). Spread this mixture evenly over the rolled out dough and then roll it tightly from one short side to the other. Then cut into about eight equal pieces. Pour the goo into a 9 x 13 inch baking dish, sprinkle on another 50 grams of toasted and chopped pecans, and then lay out the rolls in the dish. Let proof for about 2 hours in a warm place and then bake at 350 for about 35 minutes.

These will change your life, or at least the way you think about dessert. Here's a picture of brunch plated. The sticky buns look even more delicious right-side-up with the goo over top.

That caramel goo is so delicious that even after all the buns were eaten, we saved the good to put on top of ice cream.

I hope the tofu clan is having a good and delicious week.