Thursday, July 21, 2011

Dried Apple Mint. Great for putting in herbal teas, with a softer taste than some other mints.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Where my food is now coming from...

Sunday, May 8, 2011

When you go into emergency mode...


Even though I should probably get off this sugar kick, soonish, no one can deny the infallibility of chocolate in times of desperation.

Although thankfully I've avoided desperate times lately (shout out to lifestyle changes... they do wonders), I couldn't resist the combination of chocolate and quick and easy.

As I was procrastinating, I stumbled from Doctor Who, to How-to videos, to 5 minute chocolate cake... ohh the wonders of YouTube.

Now, considering how easy, quick, and simple (yes I realize that is pretty much saying the same thing 3 times...) I was expecting this cake to be way south of good quality, and was pleasantly surprised at the mediocrity of this one... it was perfectly respectable (not gourmet, but did the trick).

So if a girlfriend was dumped, you're close to crashing during finals, or just 'cause you're craving warm chocolate cake-- this is definitely an option. Especially if you're in a questionably equipped college dorm-room... all you need is a mug, a table spoon (even the proportions don't need to be super exact, just all the same), and a microwave. A fork might be useful for whisking eggs, and a bowl, but I'm sure you can be creative with the mug and spoon, worst-case.

I would suggest playing with the flavor dash, to add a different kick to your treat. I just went with vanilla, but if I ever do this for my sister, I'd probably have to substitute for mint!

If you want to class it up a bit, try cooking it in glass bowls, then taking a melon baller (or a good old fashioned spoon) and take a bit out of the center... you could try "a la volcano cake" and put a chocolate sauce in there, or a dollop of whipped cream, or just pile on some ice cream.

I ate mine with some of the never-ending vanilla ice-cream in my freezer (that we keep around for cobblers, pies and anything in need of a basic cooler... but don't make those enough the ever finish it). I'd say that the cake isn't quite classy enough to pull it off at a dinner party, but definitely works for hanging with the family on a late summer night on the porch with music and tea (or port). Even more appropriate when cooking for yourself (my standards are way lower when cooking for just me...)

See you in five!


Sunday, March 27, 2011

Re-match in Chess?


This March marked our one year anniversary, so as the 14th rolled around I searched for a pie to make. Of course all of my classic cooking blogs had a feature on it-- so it was a sea of opportunity. Given all the lovely pies, I couldn't resist trying more than one-- although I let someone else actually make the second. On 3.14, we ended up having pie for dinner and dessert. Last year, I made a Lemon Chess Pie, which turned out beautifully, so I couldn't resist when I saw it in another one of my favorite flavors: Chocolate.

The saying "easy as pie" comes to mind. The whole experience was simple, and filled my kitchen with a lovely buttery, sugary, chocolaty smell. By the time it was done (I got started pretty late) everyone was ready to dig in... conveniently forgetting the chill step. So we sliced up the spongy melty warm pie! Talk about your melt in your mouth goodness.

I especially loved this recipe because it was simple, chocolate-y, and used a graham cracker crust (so easy and yummy). Plus it used unsweetened baker's chocolate-- the only type that doesn't get eaten straight up shortly after buying in my house! I couldn't find chocolate graham crackers, so I used regular-- which worked swimming-ly (although it was seriously sweet).

The next day I brought slices in to share with my work friends-- after a day in the fridge, the spongy melt had congealed into a graham cracker edged piece of fudge... no complaints from me! It was just as good cold, a day later, as hot, straight out of the oven.

It travels well, no breaking up or flaking of (some crumbs, but mostly kept itself together...)

Happy Belated Pie Day!


Wednesday, February 23, 2011

One dish wonderfulness

When you live in a busy household quick, hearty, one dish meals are greatly appreciated. I was browsing my various foodie sources and stumbled upon this wonderful recipes that seems to have everything I had in my fridge, and was extremely time efficient.

Essentially speaking, you could pretty much make any part of the recipe and the wait time on that part would be perfect prep time for the next step. Plus it covered almost every part of the food pyramid.

Any one who knows me well knows that I love red-- so when I saw the half a bell pepper in my fridge, I couldn't help cutting a bit into cubes and dropping it in to give the final product some color and crunch.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Apples and Cinnamon... Can you go wrong?

This is a very simple and delicious cake that looks beautiful when put in a bundt pan and lightly decorated with powdered sugar. I made a half-batch in a loaf pan and altered the recipe a little bit. I accidentally did not put it enough baking powder and had no walnuts. The walnuts make it even more delicious. I don't generally add the golden raisins though next time I think I might try adding some craisins to the mix. NOTE: I would suggest using less sugar than the recipe calls for. The recipe:

Yummy Yummy in my Tummy (Challah)


This recipe was very straightforward and much easier than I expected it to be. The most difficult part of this was the waiting time in between steps and making three even strands for braiding. Next time I make this I plan on coating the baking sheet with parchment or a layer of cornmeal to make getting it off a little smoother. Once baked this was consumed in less than half an hour with pats of butter and strawberry preserves. The recipe:

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Vegetable Marengo

Last term I went through a tofu kick... I basically put it in almost everything from vegetarian chili to indian dishes as a substitute for paneer (which works really well btw). During this time I came across this recipe in one of our many vegetarian cookbooks (1,000 Low-Fat Vegetarian Recipes). This is a Mediterranean inspired dish that you can have with rice, couscous or on its own. Its hearty enough to be its own (student) meal...

Vegetable Cooking Spray (I usually just use canola oil)
1 Package (10 1/2 oz) tofu, cut into scant 1-inch cubes (I use firm tofu, sometimes with herbs)
2 Medium onions, cut into wedges (or coarsely diced)
2 medium zucchini, cubed
1 cup halved small mushrooms
2 cloves minced garlic (I tend to put more as I love garlic... same with the mushrooms)
1 tbs flour
1 can (14 1/2 oz) whole tomatoes, undrained coarsely chopped (In the summer I prefer to use fresh tomatoes)
3/4 cup Mediterranean Stock or Basic Vegetable Stock (I use 1 veggie bouillon cube)
1 strip orange rind (3x1 inches)
1/2 tsp dried thyme leaves
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
1 large bay leaf
salt and pepper to taste
3 cups cooked couscous or rice, warm
parsley, finely chopped, as garnish

Zoe's variation: turmeric, cumin and chilli powder for sauteing the tofu

1) Spray large saucepan with cooking spray; heat over medium heat until hot. Add tofu and cook over medium heat until browned on all sides 8-10 min. Remove from skillet and reserve. (Zoe's variation: heat a little oil and add the cumin, turmeric and chilli powder. Then add the tofu and coat on all sides while cooking... this ads a bit more flavour to the tofu).

2) Add onions, zucchini, mushrooms and garlic to saucepan; saute 5 minutes. Stir in flour and cook 1 to 2 minutes longer. Add tomatoes, stock, orange rind, herbs and reserved tofu; heat to boiling. Reduce heat and simmer, covered until vegetables are tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Discard bay leave (I never do this); season to taste with salt and pepper. (I also usually add a bit of lemon or lime juice to taste at this point).

3) Serve mixture over couscous in shallow bowls; sprinkle with parsley

As with most of what I cook... I never make this quite the same way. I sometimes vary the vegetables I put in as well. Last time I added carrots and red and orange bell pepper.. this expanded the recipe and added a nice dimension.



Sunday, January 9, 2011

Melt in Your Mouth

Holidays are always a great time for great meals... And of course great desserts must follow. Recently I found myself noting that I had a beautiful (if brisk) day open for an ambitious kitchen project beneath the skylights of my kitchen.

Meringues are reputed to have a decidedly finicky temperament. The day must not be too humid or too dry or to cold or too warm-- And some recipes stress the importance of the adding ingredients at certain times, some times seconds apart. In my search for the perfect recipe I found that the commitment ranged significantly; one of my favorite sources, thekitchn {} had a recipe that looked very precise.

The land of the Queen, 4 o'clock tea, and Doctor Who pulled through for the most accessible recipe, via their Broadcasting Corporation.

In 5 easy steps and an hr and 15min wait (spent on a spirited game of Citadels) we had 3 trays of decorative looking meringues! By far the least painful meringue experience I've had. (Though meringues are always self-gratifying because the piping is fun, though less sticky if you just drop dollops...)

You can avoid tears and scrapes on your nice cookie sheets by using parchment paper (amazing godsend of a baking tool)-- or if you're going green, try the reusable equivalent, SILPAT. Both options work so well that the meringues slip of the sheet.

Going for a fancier approach? Try for a nice chocolate dip. All you need is some chocolate chips, a pot, a stainless steel pressure cooker insert (or thin stainless steel bowl), and some cooking oil (canola or corn). Put 4 oz of chocolate in the insert to every 2 tbs of oil. Fill the pot with about 3 inches of water, so the insert floats and turn on the heat. Stir constantly until silky and turn off heat. Add proportionally 2 oz more of chocolate per 4:2 ratio above and stir in until melted, take out large chunks. Dip to your heart's content. Put dipped things in a cold dark place and it will set in about 20-30 mins.

Happy Piping!


PS. If you're in any country that follows the imperial system here's a useful website to convert.