Saturday, February 26, 2011

(Oscar) Party Plan

Come Sunday, the women of Hollywood will be corseted and poured into gowns. Their hair will be teased, sprayed and coiffed, their faces painted, their nails shellacked. They will be stunning, breathtaking, works of art. They will probably also be hungry. And uncomfortable. I will not have these problems. My Oscar night party (for one) will involve my sofa, a sloppy ponytail, very comfortable pajamas and food that is most certainly off limits to the good ladies of fashion - teriyaki chicken wings. I will think of them with pity as gnaw on these delectable bites.

Whether you are having an ultra-exclusive party like mine, or one open to your friends, surely everyone will enjoy the freedom to make a mess while enjoying food you can sink your teeth into. Extra bonus - you can do a lot ahead. Make the sauce whenever you have time, then all you'll have to do is cook off the wings.

very slightly adapted from Tyler Florence - this goes really well with Cold Sesame Noodles (which can also be made ahead)

For the wings -
6-8 wings per person - if you are staunchly anti-wing, try drumsticks, they'll just need to cook longer
salt and pepper
olive oil

For the sauce (I halve Tyler's when cooking for the two of us. It's enough for the wings, and some left over) -
1/2 C soy sauce
1/2 C grapefruit juice
2 T hoisin sauce
2 T ketchup
1 1/2 T rice wine vinegar
2 T brown sugar
1 t sambal (more if you like things fiery)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1" piece of ginger, minced

gluten-free note: You'll need GF soy, GF Hoisin (Premier Japan is GF), GF ketchup

If you're cooking the wings at the same time as you're making your sauce, preheat your oven to 400F.

To make the sauce:
Chop the garlic and ginger and toss in a small saucepan. Add all the other sauce ingredients, stir and heat over medium low. Cook for 20 minutes stirring periodically or until thicker and tasty. For the love of Mike do not leave this unattended. You will not appreciate cleaning up the mess.

To make the wings:
Cover a baking sheet with foil. Salt and pepper your wings and drizzle with olive oil. Bake for 20 minutes. Coat in sauce, tuck back in for 10 more minutes. Toss in remaining sauce. Serve.

So, I usually make the sauce ahead. But if you were so inclined, get the sauce started right as you start the wings in the oven. The sauce should finish cooking right about when the wings need saucing.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Cold Enough For You?

Generally speaking when you have absolutely nothing to say to another person, you talk about the weather. I know this not only because I am relatively socially awkward, but also because my building is equipped with the world's smallest, slowest elevator. It is very, very uncomfortable to stand in silence when you are less than an inch away from another person, especially when you see this person on a semi-regular basis. This winter though, the weather has done its damnedest to keep things interesting for those of us forced into frequent small talk. There's the snow, the ice, the lack of parking available due to the snow and ice, the treacherous nature of brick sidewalks especially when coated with snow and ice. And when we've enjoyed a break from the joys of precipitation there has been an undue amount of cold, punctuated by blistering, bone-rattling wind, intent on making sure that cold is blown directly into the very core of your being.

And this soup is for those of you who have been suffering this winter. It will absolutely warm you up, even if you're at the point where you're pretty sure you'll never be warm again. It won't make you think of tropical beaches and bikinis but it will coat your insides with a nice little fire. Feel free to tinker with the recipe, I certainly did.

I found this delicious recipe over at Lady Gouda and modified it slightly, but it should be fully acknowledged that she is the brains behind this.

1-2" piece of ginger, peeled and minced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 T veggie oil
1/2 C onion diced finely
roughly 2 C sliced shiitake mushrooms (I used the whole package I bought)
3-4 shredded carrots (I julienned mine but I highly recommend using a mandolin)
2 C cooked chicken - I wasn't thrilled about the chicken, I felt I could have skipped it
5 C chicken broth + 1 C water - my broth was homemade and very rich so it could stand up to the supplement of water, I highly recommend using all broth.
3 T soy
2 t sriracha - this made for some seriously spicy soup, a plus in my book, but dial it back if you're wary of heat (but also don't expect it to warm you up as much either!)
3-4 heads of baby bok choy, white super crunchy bits trimmed off and well rinsed (they can be sandy).
3-4 scallions, sliced very thin (and on the diagonal)
3-4 oz rice noodles, cooked

gluten-free note: Get gluten-free soy sauce and check labeling, but sriracha should be gluten-free as should be your rice noodles.

In a large pot, over low heat, saute the garlic and ginger and onion until soft. Add the mushrooms (I think you could add the carrots here too, I added mine at the end with the bok choy and they cooked fully). Add the chicken, the soy and sriracha. Toss well until everything is coated. Then add the stock. Bring to a low simmer and cook for 15 minutes. While it's cooking, prepare the rice noodles according to the box - my box offered a choice of soaking them for 25-30 minutes which I really didn't have time for and boil them for 4-6 minutes which I did. My other bag has no English on it except for the words "rice noodles". Toss in the bok choy (the carrots too if you didn't add them earlier) and the scallions. Cook for about 2-4 minutes until the bok choy is wilted and tender. If you did as I advise below, add the cooked rice noodles.

A note about rice noodles: I cooked mine separately. I've had to overcook pasta before because I'd added it to cook directly in the soup and then the soup wasn't ready and the pasta ended up gross. I will not be burned again. I boiled my rice noodles separately and added them in cooked at the very end. Do whatever you think is best.

A further noodle note: I chose rice noodles because they were the only one of my several types of Asian noodles that advertised on the box that they can be used in soup. I had (very thin) soba noodles and mein noodles too. I'd planned to try all different ones but when I realized I would be the only one home for dinner my motivation disappeared. I would love to hear about further noodle experimentation.

Sunday, February 13, 2011


If you want romantic and cute this Valentine's Day, please, immediately click over to one of the plethora of food bloggers peddling adorable, sexy holiday treats.

I've got none of that. I am heading into this holiday with all the joy and anticipation I imagine most people feel prior to a root canal (having never had a root canal this is purely speculation on my part). Why so bitter? Am I not happily married?

I have in fact spent the past 8 Valentine's Days with my husband. We're not big celebrators, but most of the time I try to do something to make the day, a little special, a little like what I'd want it to be. But I'm out. I completely forgot to make any type of specially themed goody. It was all I could do this weekend to rustle up dessert, to say nothing of something that would communicate endless love for my spouse.

Instead I made a very crummy chocolate cake. I wanted to make Debbie's Chocolate Yogurt Cake. But I was lazy and a fool and instead I made the Chocolate Honeycake I found in the back of my Enchanted Broccoli Forest cookbook. Big mistake. Huge mistake. I am now out a half a cup of store-brand (but still overpriced) honey, and I possess a cake that tastes more than a little nasty. I should have gone to the store for yogurt. Then at least whilst I wallow in my anti-Valentine's misery I could be eating something I like.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Insert Pig Joke Here

A few years ago when we had that whole swine flu scare, I ended up in a very serious pig-based discussion with my third grade class. My contributions were limited to helpful observations such as: "Um, we're calling that H1N1 now." and "You know you can't get it from eating pork or bacon or ham right?" As the children paused to reflect on these pearls of wisdom, S, a terrific kid with impeccable timing said (and I quote!) "I just love pigs..." then she sighed audibly and added, "they're so adorable...and they taste delicious!"

I could not agree more. However, I am married to one of the many people out there who does not eat pork. You could say it's because he's Jewish (he is, but it's not) or because he's Muslim (he's not, so it's not) or because he's watched Pulp Fiction too many times and over associates with Samuel L. Jackson's character (although he hasn't and he doesn't). The fact is, it doesn't matter why he won't eat any tasty swine products, all that matters is that he won't.

And of course, I'm the one who suffers. Oh sure, I buy poultry sausages and I eat turkey bacon now without too much complaint. If it's hidden in a recipe, it usually won't pain me too much. But as much as turkey bacon is a cheap and slightly sad substitute for bacon, it's just painful to use it in place of pancetta. So I've been suffering along (in silence, I promise) until something better came along.

And that something better is... duck bacon. Okay, so it's pricey. But duck bacon is actually delicious. And gives off delicious fat just like pancetta would. And has a texture that is pleasing and not sort of leathery. It's not for every day, but if you've got a dish where the pancetta should shine and you're pigless? Duck bacon.

I made this Pasta with Pancetta and Leeks with turkey bacon the first time, but it is far more delicious when made with duck bacon. I can only dream what it would taste like with pancetta.

adapted from The Pioneer Woman
serves between 2-4 depending on how hearty your appetites are - we had a fair amount left over

8 oz farfalle
4-5 slices duck bacon
2 leeks, sliced and properly cleaned (cut into rings, push rings apart with your fingers, soak in cold water, lift out the rings leaving all the sandy ick on the bottom of the bowl) - use only the white to light green parts, don't use the thick dark green leafy parts
1/4 C vermouth
1/4 C light cream (Oh for crying out loud, I usually add a smidge more. I'm a bad person)
1/4 C - 1/2 C parmigiano-reggiano cheese, plus more for garnish.
reserved pasta water

Cook the pasta according to the directions on the box. Chop your duck bacon into small tasty bits. Drop them into a large skillet and cook on medium-high until cooked (5-7 minutes). They will give off tons of fat, so you won't need any other oil/butter nonsense. Add the leeks and cook 8-10 minutes. You do not want them to crunch (well, I don't anyway). I like them nice and tender. They will likely not stay a pretty green like on Pioneer Woman. They are cooking in a pan full of delicious duck fat. They will become golden. Add the vermouth. Cook 1-2 minutes. Add the cream, toss well to combine. Add the pasta (I did say a large skillet). Add the grated cheese and toss. If it seems dry, feel free to add a bit of reserved pasta water, or some more cream (come on, I'll never tell). Serve and garnish with some shaved parm (use a potato peeler for pretty curls). Be very grateful that being pig free is no longer a hardship.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Third Time's A Charm

I have been neglecting this blog. I can be honest. I am stressed and anxious and busy and this is the thing that has fallen by the wayside. In part because there has been no food in my house. It is incredibly hard to blog about cooking when your meals consist of things like the heel of a loaf of bread with some peanut butter on it. But I was determined to fix this, to cook something tasty, to have a worthy post. So to that end I planned and grocery shopped and tried out not one, not two, but three new recipes on Saturday night.

Most unfortunately the main result of this was me realizing just how much I can hate trying out new recipes. I tried making roast chicken with bacon and brandy, inspired by Nigella and Tyler Florence. It came out distinctly uninspiring. Also dry. But I'm blaming the meat thermometer for the dry part. I made these fancy shmancy potatoes that I once saw on Cooking for Real. They only took an extra 30 minutes to cook. Let me be real with you, I do not have an hour and a half to spend on something that looks like an armadillo and tastes exactly like a normal baked potato. Oh hell no.

It was no small blessing that dessert turned out tasty. If it hadn't there's no telling what would have happened over here. The applesauce cake is simple, old-fashioned and easy. A definite winner.

from SmittenKitchen who is clearly better at recipe writing and testing than those suckers at Food Network

2 C flour
2 t baking power
1/2 t baking soda
1 t cinnamon (SK used 3/4, but I'm a cinnamon kind of girl)
1/2 t ground ginger
pinch ground cloves
1 stick butter (I almost always use salted butter, which is NOT ideal for baking, but then I omit the salt from the recipe, things usually even out)
1 C light brown sugar
1 t vanilla extract
2 large eggs (that's 1/2 C eggbeaters for those watching their cholesterol)
1 C unsweetened applesauce

Preheat your oven to 350 F. Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the vanilla and mix well. Add the eggs, mixing between each one. Then add the applesauce. Again, mix to combine. In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger and cloves. Stir to combine. Add in small batches to the wet ingredients, mixing between each addition until all are incorporated. Grease and flour a round cake pan (I'm not a square kind of gal). Pour in the cake batter. Bake for 30-45 minutes (mine took 30 flat). Remove carefully from pan and set aside to cool. Frost when cool.


5 oz cream cheese, softened (cream cheese has these awesome lines like butter so you can cut it right, who knew?)
3 T butter, softened
1 t vanilla
1/2 t cinnamon
1 C confectioner's sugar

Whip together the cream cheese and butter until uniform. Add the vanilla and give it another whip. Sift the confectioner's sugar and cinnamon into the mixture. DO NOT skip on sifting because you are lazy. It will result in little lumps like I had. I don't do frosting really, so this was a learning experience for me. I realized as poured in the sugar that I was being an idiot but it was too late for me to do anything. Save yourselves. Make nice smooth pretty frosting. Sift in the stupid sugar. Beat again then frost the cake!


Related Posts with Thumbnails