Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Baby's birthday was last week, and we've been planning a birthday party for him for around 2 months. We used this as a motivational opportunity to clean and decorate our house further, so we've spent every weekend for a while getting ready. House projects, decorating, cleaning, buying furniture, buying frames, hanging things, it's been hectic to get ready in time! But we got almost everything we wanted to accomplish done. Could've stood a few more pictures, and we might someday paint a room or two as well, but for now, it was a success. We hung a few of Curtis' favorite paintings, and a few of my watercolors from school. Also got a number of funny portraits from etsy, of animals in business suits. The pigmy marmoset is C's favorite, and the sloth is mine.

The highlight of the party was the ice cream. I've been making ice cream for the party for about two months. Peanut butter. Tin roof sundae. Chocolate, banana, strawberry, peach, plum. Lemon, orange, cherry, and coffee. These came out very well, and were a big hit with the guests (though perhaps I made too much, as I still have probably 4 gallons of ice cream LEFT OVER!

With all that ice cream, though, I didn't want a heavy meal (and if you plan a party at noon, I believe you are obligated to feed people), so lasagna, or enchiladas, or pizza were out. And we're fully vegetarian at the moment, so no meat! I could've made some very good empanadas with the chicken and sausage that we already have on hand, but they take forever, and with all of the above, there's been no time. So what to do? We bought some veggie empanadas from a deli around here, and those were good. Plus egg salad and pimento cheese sandwiches, veggies, fruit, queso, 7-layer dip, pasta salad and rice salad.

All was well-received, though only about 25% of anything (except the fruit) was eaten. I overprepared, I suppose. I expected (and did get) 35 people plus kids, so I still think it was a reasonable amount. For future reference, though, we must remember this. We need approximately 1/3 less than I think we need. This is for daytime parties. For a dinner party, I might want to portion it out more carefully, because not enough would be more of an issue. But next time we have a buffet-style afternoon party, make less food and trust ourselves, it will be enough!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

How funny. The last time I posted was a month before we moved out of the old apartment into the new house. And then I got pregnant. And then had the baby. And moved again. And went back to work. I'm still tired, thinking on all of that. I've been cooking, though the challenge these days is finding time. I've also been cooking baby food, though that's more technique and less recipe (e.g. steam carrots until soft, puree until a good consistency).

But I rarely manage to take photos of anything that's not the baby. In part because I know little on how to take appetizing food photos. This blog is called Good Glop, sheesh! I'm used to gloppy messy food, not so much the "presentation" and while that might fly in the kitchen, on the page it just makes me feel like a halfwit who doesn't know how to use her camera. Or stage food. So much for my backup career as a food stylist - I haven't a clue where to start. Especially since I would rather start EATING.

But perhaps I will get back to it. Maybe I can post words on what was made, and then add photos later. Or photos, but with a significant lag in posting.

Recent wins:
Apple Cake - "better than the lemon meringue pie cupcakes"
Oklahoma Cake - a pineapple cake with very simple instructions and very good outcome
Poached Quince - not pretty, but pretty tasty
Roasted Eggplant and Onions - not pretty, but does contain pomegranate molasses (mmmmm)
Bread Salad - resembled a Thanksgiving Leftovers salad more than anything else
Egg Salad - duh. Good stuff
Potato Salad with Lemon and Herbs - not that great
Potato, Tomatillo and Chicken Thigh stew - Rick Bayless fast Mexican recipe, wonderful

And I'm sure I've cooked one or two other things. But, none are really noteworthy, as they are all "On The Go" due to baby constraints.

More posts to come? We'll just see!

Monday, October 15, 2007

Lemon Meringue Pie Cupcakes

Possibly the best cupcakes I've ever made. I brought two dozen of them to work a week ago Thursday, and they were gone by lunchtime. My lunch crowd on Friday requested a repeat performance, so I brought another 2 dozen on Monday, and those were gone by 10:30.

Based on the CulinaryInTheDesert recipe, but with a few modifications - whole wheat pastry flour rather than cake flour; lemon extract in addition to zest in the cake. All in all, delicious.

For the lemon curd

1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
3 large eggs
1 large egg yolk
1/2 cup granulated sugar
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into chunks
1 teaspoon fresh grated lemon zest (finely chopped/zested/minced, so the pieces are small)

For the cupcake batter

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup cake flour (I used whole wheat pastry flour)
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
1 tablespoon fresh grated lemon zest
1 cup granulated sugar
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup milk (whole, or part skim and part yogurt, which I used the 2nd time I made these this week)

For the meringue

3 large egg whites
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 cup granulated sugar

To make the lemon curd

In a heat-proof bowl, whisk lemon juice, eggs, egg yolk and sugar until smooth. Add butter and place bowl over a pot of simmering water. Whisking gently, cook mixture until it thickens and leaves a ribbon when whisk is lifted - this can take anywhere from 8 to 20 minutes depending on how high the heat is set and how cold the ingredients were (if you can't get a "ribbon" to form, cook til the eggs are done, i.e. 140-170? not sure which, but if it's up to 160, I'd say it's safe). Remove from heat and push through a fine mesh strainer (do not skip this step, or you will have eggy chunks in the smooth mixture, and they are not good). Fold in lemon zest, cover with plastic wrap and thoroughly chill before using.

To make the cupcakes

Preheat oven to 375.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flours, baking powder and salt.

In a large bowl (or in kitchenaid mixer), mix together the lemon zest and sugar until the zest is evenly distributed and the sugar takes on a light yellow hue. Add butter and cream together until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg and vanilla until combined. Add dry ingredients to butter mixture alternately with the milk - beginning and ending with the dry ingredients.

Evenly divide batter between 24 paper-lined muffin cups - they should be roughly half full. (important, or it only makes 15 cupcakes)

Bake until cake springs back when lightly touched in the center and is just beginning to get a golden hue - about 16 to 20 minutes. Remove and place cupcakes on a wire rack to cool completely. Seriously - take them out of the pan or the bottoms will get burned during the next stage of baking (browning the meringue).

To make the meringue

In a large mixing bowl, whip egg whites and cream of tartar until foamy. Slowly add sugar, a tablespoon at a time, and continue whipping until egg whites hold stiff peaks when beaters are lifted. This takes about 20 minutes altogether.


Preheat oven to 400. Place cupcakes on a large baking sheet. Use a paring knife to cut out a small cone out of the center of each cupcake. Pipe about 1 to 2 tablespoons of the lemon curd into each cupcake. Spoon dollops of meringue over the curd on each cupcake. Bake until the tops of the meringues brown - about 4 to 6 minutes.

Makes 24 cupcakes (small ones, which makes it more reasonable to eat 2 of them)

Monday, September 24, 2007

This weekend's exploits

1. corn tart. leftover corn (3 cobs); 1/2 c grated colby-jack; 2 eggs beaten; 1 c (less?) buttermilk; 1 c diced potatoes, sauteed; 1/2 c onions, sauteed; ancho and chipotle chili powder (small amount); oregano; cumin; basic pie crust plus ancho powder. Prepared and chilled crust, mixed other ingredients and poured in. Baked 350 30-35 mins. Good flavor, but textural issues for me (C liked as is) - too much corn/solids for the egg base, I think. Also gummy crust suggests prebaking would help.

2. red cabbage slaw. sliced red cabbage, 3 c?; 1 sliced granny smith apple; 1/2 c dried cranberries; 3 T sugar; 2-3 T each of rice vinegar and white wine vinegar; salt, pepper. prepare dressing first, dissolve sugar fully. Add fruit/veg, stir well. If this is to sit for any amount of time, it will turn everything fuschia, which is a little weird on the cabbage but really irritating with the apples, at least if you're doing some sort of fancy thing.

3. wrote down recipe for low fat cheese cake from America's Test Kitchen. We'll see.

4. biscuits last week during the week - started at 7:30, ate at 8am. Didn't realize there was time for that in the a.m., but then remembered Grandma's house ALWAYS had biscuits that she must've whipped up at 3:30 in the a.m., so 7:30 is no big deal.

5. I love Roti Grill in Plano. Newest favorite is Punjabi pakora (kadhi?) - vegetable dumplings in yellow yogurt sauce - tangy and delicious. Almost as well-liked by C as the malai kofta. The gulab jamuns were extra good yesterday as well - thinner sauce with more flavor? not sure. but so good.

Monday, September 17, 2007

No pictures equals no posts. I've been remiss in photographing my cooking exploits in recent months, and more remiss in posting. I've made a few good things, and forgotten more, I bet. The thing is, having taken up knitting, I choose to spend less time cooking and more time knitting! I have put some notes on recent dishes below, and will post more some other time as a reminder to myself (the intended nature of this whole blog) of what dishes we've made and enjoyed.

  • 101cookbooks whole wheat mexican wedding cookies, only with almond meal rather than pecan, and with 1.5T pomegranate molasses included for flavor, and oats instead of oat flour, and a bit of extra flour b/c they seemed rather wet (due to same lack of oat flour). Good, but loads of butter. Can this be reduced? Also, let them cool on the pan, b/c otherwise they fragment horribly.
  • Spinach-parmesan-chive souffle - not a winner in Husbandville, though I thought it was OK. A bit...tangy? Like the thing about some swiss cheese that makes it nasty instead of good? A bit of that in this souffle. And it fell, lots. Perhaps they just do that. I thought it was good, but too much work for the lack of spousal interest.
  • Pierogies made with won ton wrappers. Just don't think this will work next time, OK self?
  • Sour cream yellow cake and sour cream chocolate frosting. A big hit. Rich cake, great tangy icing. I chilled it and should've let it warm up before serving (not least b/c it was VERY difficult to cut). Delicious. The frosting - so fun, just a ton of chocolate, melted, with a bunch of sour cream and a tiny bit vanilla. How easy and neat a solution!
  • Strawberry cupcakes - interesting recipe, called for yogurt (like, Yoplait pre-packaged sweetened flavored) in order to low-fattize the recipe. Fresh strawberries. The strawberry flavor was good. I blew it on the icing though (in my opinion, though eaters liked it OK). I tried to take frozen fruit, grind it up in blender with butter, sugar, as one would normally go about making buttercream. I kept adding powdered sugar until I got the texture I wanted, but then it tasted TERRIBLE like powdered sugar more than any other thing (for instance the FRUIT). I added some frozen raspberries to bring the flavor back (as I was out of strawberries) and that punched up the flavor and color to be very pink. It was good, but too glazey, not enough fluff. Needs improvement.
  • Did I post about that quince cake? I got quinces when visiting Philadelphia, and brought them home in my suitcase. The cake - loads of work, results were off. Too buttery/nutty, not enough flour perhaps. An oily (but sweet and odd and fruity) cake, needs refinement, but probably not worth the time because quince is not available, and poaching them took hours. Blah! British-people food! (you can tell b/c they describe it as something to eat with Tea).
  • Couscous with shrimp and vegetables, only it became thai-inspired at some point. Fish sauce, soy sauce, white wine, rice vinegar, canned diced tomatoes, various veggies, fresh basil at the end, and there it is - a huge pot of something the husband doesn't like! How will I eat all this freaking couscous/soup mess? I'm trying my best.
  • At C's mom's house when we visited not long ago - roasted potatoes (new potatoes, salt, pepper, olive oil, high heat, one hour, stir every 10-15 (I should've done, and didn't, so they stuck a bit)), strawberry-rhubarb pie, boiled shrimp. I am a late comer to this train, I know, but boiling the shrimp with store-brand non-cayenne-ized crab boil makes them taste great! Nothing wrong with plain shrimp, but this makes them seem finished, I guess. The pie - pretty good! Frozen fruit, corn starch, sugar, pie crust, bake, etc. etc. For 1 lb. rhubarb Joy of Cooking recommended 1c sugar, but reduce that if using strawberries, so we went for 3/4 c? for 1 lb rhubarb and 1 lb strawberries. A good pie.
  • Wheat pancakes - probably 101cookbooks-inspired. Mixed up light wheaty pancakes, very tender, and made fruit compote of frozen peaches and frozen blueberries plus a little sugar, a little pomegranate molasses. Nice and easy, fruity, warm, good. Husband not 100% a fan - more like 70% I think. Is it the warm fruit? Not sure.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

One more dish, shamefully with no pictures: Chicken Legs.

Spring onions, chopped
Preserved lemon rind, chopped
Ginger, fresh, chopped
Soy sauce
Rice vinegar
White wine vinegar
Olive oil

Combined all these into a marinade for some chicken legs. Refridgerated overnight. The next evening, I put these into a braising sort of pan and cooked on 325 for about 45 minutes. They looked pretty good, but the marinade tasted BAD due to the spring onions - next time white onion, because it doesn't turn bitter like green onions when cooked. Bad idea. So I took out the chunky parts of the marinade to try to combat the bitterness (which could've come from the lemons, too, not sure, really), and cooked a bit longer hoping the marinade would thicken up more and the chicken would brown. Not so much, so broiler for 10 minutes one one side after basting the tops of the meat with the juices so it'd carmelize, then turn over and do same again for perhaps 10 more minutes. These were not 10 straight unmonitored minutes, though, I checked frequently to make sure there wasn't burning. The remaining marinade gelled into a sticky tarry mess on the bottom of the pan, which was delicious if ugly, so I saved it for later chicken-eating. They turned out great overall, juicy, fully cooked, tender, flavorful, not too bitter, interesting flavors. I'd definitely do this again.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Surprisingly good glop

I created another good glop. I don't know if I've mentioned the other name for this dish, "Sticky Brown," which I'm sure is just as appetizing as Good Glop. The thing is, they taste way better than they look.

Though I kind of like the look of the lavender rice. Earlier in the week, I cooked basmati rice with a bunch of red/purple cabbage, and it turned the rice a beautiful springy lavender. I wish I had taken pictures, but alas I did not. I served this rice (to myself, for lunch) with preserved-lemon/garlic/dill shrimp which were a bright saffrony color, and with roasted roma tomatoes, which were a rich tomato-ey red. A harmonious color arrangement to me, perhaps not so to the husband, but whatever. I had resisted buying tomatoes most of the winter, because it's just depressing, but as spring approached and there were still no proper tomatoes at the store, I gave in to my longing for that taste of summer and bought some crappy roma tomatoes, then roasted them with salt, pepper and olive oil for about an hour or hour and a half. They turned out well, and were a savory addition to many other dishes.

Back to the Sticky Brown du Jour, however. Purple rice, roasted tomatoes, some mushrooms sauteed with oregano, cumin and some garlic, and canned refried black beans with lime juice. I added avocado chunks and soft creamy goat cheese to serve, as well as a squeeze of real lime juice. The appearance of the dish was decidedly dogfoodish (with some lilac accents, for the most discerning of pets), but the taste was pretty good. The husband liked it quite well, which surprised both of us!

No proper recipe for this one, as it's more a process than a plan: What's in the fridge? How can I combine it? Do I have to buy anything else? No? GREAT. Let's EAT. Also no picture, due to the aforementioned gloppy appearance. Honestly, does anything involving refried black beans look good?
Pasta casserole

I had been imagining a creamy pasta dish for about a week. It would have pools of creamy cheese, between well-seasoned noodly areas, with the usual spinach and mushroom additions. It would have a pleasing tomato sauce throughout, which would perhaps pool up in certain areas. I think part of the inspiration for this was that dish where you make a tomatoey mess in a pan with onions and maybe bacon or something, and then put eggs in little puddles you make with a spoon, and then cook until the eggs are set - sort of Huevos Rancheros without the tortilla? The dish that actually resulted was not like that, but was pretty good regardless.

I sometimes visit the chinese market down the road, and find all kinds of cool stuff. One surprising thing is that the apples there are huge and cheap. Where do they get these apples that the chain grocery stores don't get and if they did would sell for 3 times as much - China? Some other attractive items at the chinese market are all the noodles, and all the tofu. So many varieties! And yet, I have no idea what I'd do with most of them. So I restrain myself, and only occasionally purchase the one-off tofu experiment or noodle bunch. Once I got this seasoned tofu "snack" that I kept looking at for a month before I gave up and threw it out. I'm a chicken sometimes, and it bugs me, so I try not to buy things from there without a plan or an immediate urge to eat the mysterious item Right Now.

On my most recent shopping expedition, I got some fresh spinach noodles, and resisted even touching the Durian. Because if I am afraid of a little tofu, or if I fear that the amount of bok choy I get will spoil, I am deathly afraid of what would happen if I got a Durian, and stored it until it spoiled in my fridge. From what I hear, I suspect we'd actually have to move to escape the aroma.

I combined the spinach noodles, uncooked, with some spinach and feta chicken sausages from Central Market, some ricotta that I mixed with an egg or two and some italian seasoning, some bottled spaghetti sauce (like Classico or Barilla, one of the ones without added sugar or High Fructose Corn Syrup because it pisses me off that HFCS is in pasta sauce - why???), sauteed mushrooms and spinach, and some grated romano cheese. I baked all this until it was bubbly.

It was very tasty, though I admit I had some texture issues with the noodles. I suspect I should've cooked them for 2-3 minutes before casseroleizing the whole thing. The husband, however, didn't mind the texture at all, and said it resembled gnocchi, in a good way. The dish froze well, too, and reheated well for lunch over the next two weeks.

No pictures, but just imagine lasagna. But maybe with green noodles instead.

Easter cupcakes

I have a coworker whose mother-in-law is Columbian, and makes the most fantastic food. Her rice is buttery and rich, her plantains perfectly cooked (mine always get too brown too fast), her yucca moist and tender, and I'll even eat pork chops if she makes them. I know all this because my coworker often gives me her food. One day I brought myself what I thought of as "boring veggie lasagna" for lunch, and my coworker brought typical MIL food but didn't feel like she could stomach it that day, as she was feeling under the weather. As we walked to the lunchroom we engineered a trade, and both were 100% more happy with lunch as a result. Any time coworker has extra, she knows where to bring it.

Due to all this feeding of delicious food by this coworker (let's call her B), I wanted to repay the favor and either feed this coworker or her mother-in-law. As Easter approached, I knew the other chief baker in the office (coworker J) would be traveling and thus not bringing in her thin, tender and frosty sugar cookies, so I had the baking field open for myself. I asked coworker B what kind of cupcakes I should make, and she selected Carrot Cake. Well, first she said strawberry, but then she said she's deathly allergic to strawberry and since I'd almost certainly use real strawberries, that wasn't the best option (and she was right, if you can consider Frozen Bag Strawberries "real"). And so, Carrot Cake it was.

And here's the funny part. I mixed up the icing into "easter-y" colors and almost threw up on myself with how cute they were. I got them to the office, and my boss and several other coworkers* were surprised with how cute they were, too. They're a little out of character.

I used the recipe my mother got when she was a teenager from Paul Newman's mom. No, not that Paul Newman, just the Paul Newman my aunt B used to date. My mother thought this recipe was pretty novel when she was a teen, because her family did not cook this sort of Weird Food. Her mother (my grandmother) still doesn't, though we've realized in recent years that my grandfather might've enjoyed the weird food all along, but never did and likely never will find out. I am not certain, but I suspect my grandmother finds something suspicious about pizza, and the closest she'll come to pasta is macaroni and cheese, or perhaps tuna casserole. You know, that ever-so-exotic Pasta.

Here's the carrot cake recipe, slightly modified from the Augie Newman family version, because I just cannot bring myself to put another 1.5 cups of vegetable oil into anything.

2.5 cups flour (some all purpose, some whole wheat pastry flour)
2 t baking powder
1/2 t soda
1/4 t salt
2 t cinnamon
1/4 t nutmeg (gross - I substituted cardamom)
1/2 t ginger
1.5 c sugar (recipe called for 2 c, I think 1.75 would be a better compromise)
0.5 c vegetable oil
4 eggs (I may have used 3 only)
2 c grated carrots
1/2 can (14 oz?) crushed pineapple (with juice)
1 c chopped walnuts
1/2 c raisins
1/2 c craisins (there may have been fewer raisins and craisins, don't go crazy on them, just enough to look right)

Mix the dry ingredients together. Then mix in the carrots, walnuts and raisins so they get coated with flour and suspend a tiny bit better in the mix. Then add the liquid parts (oil, eggs, pineapple) and stir until everything's wet. Dispense into 24 cupcake wrappers (or a 9x13 pan) and bake "until done" at 350. I'm actually a bit perturbed at this "until done" because that's what's in the recipe, and I honestly can't remember how long it took to get done. Cupcakes, probably start at 25 mins. Large pan full of cake? perhaps 45? but check it sooner to see.

8 oz package cream cheese (room temperature)
4 T butter (room temperature)
0.75 t vanilla extract
0.25 t lemon extract
dash salt
2.5 c powdered sugar (perhaps more if necessary to get your desired consistency)

Cream the butter and cream cheese in the stand mixer, then add the flavor extracts and salt. Slowly add sugar a half cup at a time, until all is incorporated. I separated the batch into four parts, and colored them individually.

Cadbury mini-egg on top. The chocolate ones with hard candy shell, not the gross "Cream Egg," the grossest simulation of a food you wouldn't eat in that form anyway. Blech!

*Coworker B noted that said cupcakes looked like they had nipples, and almost made coworker D (no longer with us**) shoot coffee out his nose.
**Not dead, you sicko, just got a new job. In Austin, making me combine a number of clues together and realize I miss living in Austin sometimes. Mainly because the "farmers' markets" here in DFW are just terrible. The produce is labelled with the same stickers you see on store produce, right? This suggests to me that there's a wholesale produce provider that sells all they can to the chain grocers, then sells the rest to these smaller vendors, a few days later. I believe this because if you buy anything at the farmer's market, it will spoil about 3 days sooner than you expect. And the prices aren't that great either. In Austin, the farmer's market I like requires that the vendor produce the items being vended, which is lovely. Except for the Emu Oil man, who can go to hell for putting EMU OIL on my hands. Gross.