Archive for February, 2010

Dear Steamy Kitchen,


Let me tell you about this steak topping obsession of mine, unhealthily cultivated by Steamy Kitchen (I know!  I am obsessed but how can you not be when Jaden Hair is super charismatic and has THE most adorable kids ever).

First up, a mushroom steak topping with sherry and red wine (the second recipe on the linked page).  It’s so perfect and light and looks super impressive (Alex made it for my younger sister).

Secondly, the bacon blue cheese butter topping; it’s decadent and could probably make any ol’ steak taste amazing.  But just knowing that I was spooning butter into my mouth made me feel really guilty annnnd made me wish for a side of kimchi.  Yep that’s how I grew up; when I was a kid, my mom would make us spaghetti and top it with sliced kimchi.  I actually haven’t had kimchi all year b/c now that I have a real fridge, I don’t want it stinking it up…

Oh also…don’t try to microwave the blue cheese.  Just mash it with a fork before combining with the butter.  I was very surprised when I zapped the cheese for 15 seconds, and I ended up with what looked like liquid butter with chunks of blue mold.

Tmrw I’ll be stuffing my turkey burgers with the leftover butter; actually this idea is from another recipe I made from Steamy Kitchen last year.  Gorgonzola stuffed burgers!  It was so delicious but I actually forgot about the buns in the oven so we ended up w/ buns that felt like sawdust.  At least the meat was good!

Now…back to work!  How come freshman year first semester was the only time I was ever super serious about college???!  It’s super ironic b/c usually it’s the complete reverse situation for most people…


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Dear Blog with the Not-So-Good Pictures (aka this one),

Today was my belated Valentine’s Day gift to Alex (who also happened to receive some amazing news today)!  Although I had initially planned on making crab cakes and lobster rolls, I frankly did not want to make the trek down to Whole Foods in my bought-from-a-kid’s-shoe-store-embarrassingly-bright-red rainboots.  So instead, I made Spicy Shrimp with Bleu Cheese Sauce (shrimp disguised as hot wings); it had great great flavor and perhaps it’s because I decided to follow the Steamy Kitchen way and leave the shells on when I cooked them.  Seriously what kind of picture is this?!  It’s sooo weird…I should think before I push the button on the camera.

I made another appetizer, Shiitake Mushroom Bread Pudding which was deeelicious!  I love bread puddings in any shape and form, and this one was no exception.  But I think what really made it great was its being paired with the spicy shrimp; something needed to undercut the unctuousness of 1/2 cup of heavy cream, cheese, and shiitakes.

For the main, I took inspiration from Steamy Kitchen (but eschewed the veggies she uses) to make Fish en Papillote.  I made this not just b/c it’s so easy to clean up but because I also like the idea of a gift/surprise that comes with this dish.  I also took a lot of liberty with this recipe, omitting the tomatoes and garlic and added in bloodred oranges (so delicious).  It was a nice, clean tasting contrast to the appetizers and very light (which was good b/c the bread pudding was very heavy).

All in all, it was fast (met my under 1 hr. 30 min. rule), delicious, and cheap ($16 for the fish, shrimp, shiitakes, bleu cheese, and lemons).

Some links:

(Recipes) My favorite bread puddings:
Arugula, Bacon, and Gruyere (so delicious, highly recommended)
Pumpkin Bread Pudding (also highly recommended)

(Videos) How to…
Make a healthier version of this dish
Butterfly shrimp

Also on a random note: Columbia be nerdy.  Geesh I went into Butler to work for 2 hours, and it was as full as ever.  It was a Snow Day for goodness sakes!

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Dear Cold Season!,

Hello!  Usually I catch a cold at least once a semester. This semester, determined to beat the pest I got my flu shots annnnd made this “thylehogichi tea” from delicious days. Go on over to her blog!  It’s beautifullll (although the recipes are given in grams so I can never make anything she posts).

Her blog promises that it’s antiseptic, relieves throat dryness, and that really irritating tickle that makes you cough.  True to her word, the tea was a very good decongestant and pretty tasty (I think that had to do with like the 5 tablespoons of honey I used per cup)!!  I think the more descongested you are, the more ginger you should add…

Picture is via Delicious Days.  Try as I might, I could not get a picture of tea-making that looked remotely cute or interesting.

Recipe (yields 2 cups!)

2 cups water
juice of 1 lemon
6 slices of ginger
2 slices of red chili pepper
6-8 sprigs of thyme
honey to taste

-boil water.  turn heat down to very low and add all the ingredients except the honey.  steep for 10 minutes.  strain.  add honey & drink!

on a totally unrelated note, i think is always wrong.  argh.  fail fail fail.

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Dear Funny People,

WARNING: no actual cooking was done for this post.

The storytellers I love best are the funny ones and so instead of reading in a chronological manner, I picked my way through Alone in the Kitchen with an Eggplant, choosing based on how funny I knew or predicted these authors to be.

Jonathan Ames’ piece on getting food poisoning from cooking bad eggs was hilarious and reminded me of the terrible gastroenteritis of 2009.  Thanks to health services I was left antibiotic-less for a week, and I was pretty sure I would die a very 19th century death as a result of my bowels exploding from all the inflammation.  TMI?  Perhaps.  But I’m still very mad at health services for this.  It is almost impossible to mistaken gastroenteritis for hernia symptoms and yet…they still did.

The other piece I really enjoyed was Ben Karlin’s (of Jon Steward/Stephen Colbert stock).  A quotation that had me cracking up like a mad person: “[My parent’s divorce] forced me to get comfortable working solo in the kitchen at age fifteen.  Early forays included: (2) Boiling rice in a non-Pyrex glass pot and watching it explode all over the kitchen (grains of which would be discovered in an adjacent room five years later, when the house was sold).  Lesson learned: exploding glass is scary.”

Since his was my favorite piece (or is so far), I wanted to make the recipe he contributed (this isn’t a cookbook though, plenty of authors don’t share a recipe): salsa rosa.  But because it requires half a pint of heavy cream per person, I decided to hold off making it until I could fulfill the last step of his recipe: “run a marathon the next day”!

The Recipe (on page 99 of Alone in the Kitchen with an Eggplant)

1 Serving
3 tablespoons olive oil
5 cloves garlic, sliced thin
1 small zucchini, sliced (optional)
3 roma tomatoes, chopped
1 box Pomi diced tomatoes, around 20 ounces
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 pint heavy cream
1/3 cup parmigiano cheese, grated
1/3 pound dry pasta
s&p to taste

-heat the oil over medium heat in a medium saucepan
-add garlic and cook till just brown
-add zucchini and cook, till yellowish
-add the fresh and boxed tomatoes
-lower heat a bit and cook until all the tomatoes start breaking down
-add the butter, cheese, and cream in batches.  make sure to reduce it on low heat.
-boil and strain pasta.  toss with a little olive oil.
-pour the salsa rosa over the pasta.  mix.  eat it.
-run a marathon the next day.

Also for anyone interested, book culture now has hardcover Nigella Lawson (“the domestic goddess”) cookbooks on sale for $15.95!

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Dear My Muscular Friend,

My friend Henry is one of the healthiest people I know: he goes to the gym at least 3 times a week and eats very healthy…which why I didn’t make the salsa rosa dish I’ve been eying for several days now. I knew he’d be horrified if he knew exactly how much cream went into that dish.

Instead, Alex made the Salt & Vinegar Potato Salad recipe I saw on Katie’s Supper Club and a Turkey Cheddar Burger with Sundried  Tomato Mayo recipe from Gourmet.  Meanwhile, I was in Spanish class, doodling more than anything else.

The salad was so good (even without the bay seasoning which I totally forgot to buy), and the burger recipe was really really good for a turkey burger.  I added a “semi-fried onion ring” to the burger which was good.  I say “semi-fried” because the batter did not stick to the onion so much.  I can think of many hypotheticals for why this didn’t work — (1), I used lactaid milk instead of buttermilk and (2), I forgot to buy a candy thermometer so I guessed the oil temperature and (3), I am very afraid of hot oil.

Speaking of candy thermometers, I think I will finally go invest in a food processor (so as to be able to make easy crusts) and an ice cream machine (from ebay, once the weather gets better).  I saw a Concord Grape Sorbet recipe on Gourmet last summer, and I can’t get it out of my head.  I could make them with grapes from the farmer’s market!

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Dear TGIF 2.12.10,

Despite the fact that Alex did not get me Kumquat Cupcakes as requested (just kidding!  it’s not his fault; this year they’re not delivering past 100th st.), I made him a surprise gift on friday–macaroons!  I’ve always wanted to try making my own but was deterred by the fact that Westside doesn’t carry almond flour.  But while I was looking through East Village Kitchen, I discovered an adaption of David Lebovitz’s recipe, and she mentions that you can make the flour yourself.  Which I did…  I think it would have been faster to make the trip to Whole Foods because it took FOREVER to skin those things.

The first batch, I slightly overdid, the tops cracked, and my macaroons didn’t develop their “feet”.  The second batch, I made them too big (I stopped using the pastry bag because it was driving me nuts), and thus they cracked even more.  But the taste was perfect :]

Notice the take out boxes in the background?  I was so caught up in making these; I forgot to make dinner!

Seeing as these are notoriously hard to perfect,  they weren’t terrible for a first try.  I’ll try them again later this week and update this post.  Fingers-crossed for better macaroons next time!

I also picked up a book I’ve been meaning to read from Book Culture: Alone in the Kitchen with an Eggplant.  Although I usually don’t eat by myself, I heard very good things about this book, and it was only $6.95!  They also have Heat (one of my favorite books of all time about a NY Times writer who goes to work for Batali) for $6.95 and Sky High (which is a cake book that both the East Village Kitchen and Smitten Kitchen love) for $13.95.  I stood in the cold for a good 5 min contemplating the purchase of this book.  But ultimately I knew that since I rarely make cupcakes or cookies, I probably wouldn’t make 3 layer cakes.

All in all, today was a pretty lovely day!  Happy Valentine’s Weekend!

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Dear Snow Day 2.10.10,

Although Columbia technically announced a “half snow day” on Wednesday, I had to go to 9am swim (which was unreal) and still go to my afternoon classes.  According to my professor, things like this never happened back in his day, and he pointed out that we had no excuse for not attending class or our evening discussion sections seeing as we live on campus…which is true.

So while everyone was snowball fighting and making snow angels, I went to class and tried a simple mushroom pasta recipe from East Village Kitchen, then later on simplified it even further (just a splash of cream, parmesan cheese, and browned shiitakes).  In fact, while both were delicious, I think I enjoyed the minimalist version more.

There’s no exact recipe as each person will like different ratios of cream, cheese, and mushrooms.  But the process will be the same: slice and sear the mushrooms till a nice golden brown.  set aside in a different bowl.  add cream, let bubble till brown.  add more cream to thin it out.  add the mushrooms back in along with the pasta and parmesan cheese.

I also used Pioneer Woman’s method of grating cheese.  Instead of moving the cheese across the microplane, she moves the microplane across the cheese.  MUCH easier!

If you’re new to cooking, I’d highly recommend this site as she has tons of fool-proof recipes and photographs of each step; little is left to the imagination.  Also her life is just so much fun, filled w/ cute kids, strange dogs, and hot cowboys.

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