Archive | August, 2011

THE BEST

27 Aug


Whether you prefer chocolate chip cookies in the dough form i.e. my favorite way, aka the correct way, or as baked cookies, nothing improves on the Nestle Toll House recipe. I’ve been making it since I was a little one. I could make it in my sleep, probably. Which is good because I am unlikely to have a package of the Nestle chocolate chips to reference for the recipe on the back. Sorry, Toll House-lovahs, but I am a Ghiradelli Bittersweet 60% Cacao Baking Chips girl.
I’m am not alone in my praise for this recipe. Even my most favorite-est baking nerds on earth, the Cook’s Illustrated crew, agree. From their Baking Illustrated: “Toll House cookies are the American cookie jar standard. As such, they serve as the springboard for all other versions of the chocolate chip cookie.” So if you are after something different you might need a different recipe, but these cookies are the ultimate basic cookie.
And the dough. Oh, the delicious dough. I get a bit crazy just thinking about the dough this recipe creates.
If you do decide to fight nature and bake these(as I was forced to do since other folks were to consume them) the one tip I do not think that Nestle will tell you is to chill your dough a bit before spooning it out and baking it, unless you prefer your cookies ultra-thin.
There are many ways to jazz up this basic cookie, if perfection occasionally bores you. Try adding a package of pistachio pudding mix(which thankfully for me has few actual nuts in it) with flour-then you have green perfection. You can leave the chips out, spread and bake in a 9×13 pan, then sprinkle the chips on when you take it out of the oven. The chips melt and you can spread them like frosting. Mix it up. Add peanut butter chips. Add butterscotch chips. Just don’t add nuts. Nuts should be banned from cookies. Like coconut they ruin many desserts. In my humble opinion.
Enough.
Here’s your perfect cookie:
Chocolate Chip Cookies(ala Nestle Tollhouse)
1 cup unsalted butter
3/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs(use pasteurized eggs if you are eating it as dough)
1 tsp. vanilla
2 1/4 cups flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt.
Your favorite chocolate chip
1)Cream butter and sugars. I often do this by hand. Screw washing beaters. Sample this pure butter/sugar paste and but try to stop yourself from eating it all.
2)Add in eggs and vanilla. Its gonna look sort of gross and curdled. Deal with it.
3)Gradually add in flour, which you have sifted with the baking soda and salt.
4)Stir in chips.
5)Put in fridge
6)Heat oven to 350 degrees.
6)Just keep an eye on them and take them out when they look done. If you’ve decided to go that route. You are welcome to stop at step 5. And really, I would.

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corn: because this post does not need a clever title to titilate

24 Aug


Hee, I just wanted to use the word titilate. That’s just the 15 year old boy that lives inside my woman-body talkin’. I’m stopping before this gets any weirder.

This dish is simplicity at its best. Few ingredients. Quick process. Smells like heaven and looks like gold. And it came from Mark Bittman. Yeah, so I am obsessed with a cookbook author. Eat it.
No, really. Do. Its delicious.
Pan-grilled Corn with Chile(reduced and adapted from Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything Vegetarian
4 ears of corn, shucked, kernels cut off
1 minced padron chile pepper(or whatever chile you have)
1/2 tsp. minced garlic
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
chopped cilantro
lime wedge
Spray pan and heat over high heat. Add corn, chile and garlic. Let sit a moment then toss til brown on at least one side of each kernel.. Remove from heat. Add salt and pepper. If serving immediately garnish with cilantro and a squeeze of lime. This is also fantastic chilled. Like I like my Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups

RIP: goodbye old kitchen friends

20 Aug

Maybe I’ll just get a food processor.

Last night brought the end of both my blender and my favorite pink martini glass of which I owned only one. It was my present to myself when I graduated college. Just the one. I’m a real big spender.
I went to make a new shake recipe that involved ice cubes so I thought I’d give the malfunctioning, duct-taped blender one last dance. It not only wouldn’t blend the cubes but as I gave up and started scraping the half-shake, half ice cube concoction into my pink glass somehow it bumped it into the sink. I took both out to the trash.
The next day I decided I would skip the cubes, add some extra fluid and try the shake recipe again with my immersion blender.
I got this recipe from another blogger, Eden. Eden is beyond hilarious. To me. She may not be to you if you are sensitive. Particularly about eating disorders. As someone who devoted about 7 years of her life to anorexia, I have to have a sense of humor about that. Life is too darned short to be regretting things and getting all weepy over problems. Not only that but your life is your own unique experience that nobody else gets to have. So own it, and laugh about it. That is my wisdom for the day. Oh, and go drink this shake:
Thin Mint Shake
It has a lots of use this or that options, and I really liked putting the cottage cheese in it. The pudding mix was an interesting addition that made it thicker. Oh, and I added about a cup of almond milk. And left out the ice cubes…so maybe I don’t know how good Eden’s precise recipe was but it was mint-y and thick and chocolate and that is almost all I really wanted on a hot summer’s night. Take the almost to mean what you will.

Vin vendredi?

17 Aug


Oops, its only Wednesday. Not Friday. But I have been trying post on Wednesday and Wine Wednesdays is just too cliche, so I started trying other languages and came up with Vin Vendredi. Fitting since one of the wines I am writing about is French. So it’s Wednesday, but I am giving you the drinks you should have on Friday, kapeesh?
That gives you time to plan.
I also had no pictures from the venue where I sipped these wines because it was too dark there and I did not feel like being the jerk with the flash going off.
I will tell you, however that City Sip, on Sunset Blvd. in Echo Park is awesome. Go there. Sip away. And order caprese sliders: small toasty sandwiches with tomato and mozzerella and basil. My problem with caprese salad is the raw tomatoes, I’m not into them(unless they are in a really spicy salsa). But the toasty sliders? Good stuff. Those tomatoes must be at least a little cooked.
On to the wine. First I tried a 2008 Grenache from Cass Winery, grapes grown in Paso Robles. I forgot to take notes on this. Oops. But I recall that it was darned delicious.
I know you are supposed to have white before red but I am a rebel so next up I had a white wine, this time from my favorite wine region, the Loire Valley. The Vouvray part of the Loire Valley. Say Vouvray. It’s even more fun than Viognier. It was a 2008 Vouvray from Charles Bove. This one had a bit more body to it than I expected, some fruit and…I need to take better notes. I highly recommend it though. In fact, it is my pick of the night.
I promise better details next time I decide do a wine Wednesday.

Wine question to ponder:
Do you have a region you find you particularly enjoy wines from?

Food question:
Raw tomatoes-delicious or the devil?

Discuss.

EEEEAAAAAARRRRRGGGGGG!!!roar.

14 Aug


That was my scream. For ice cream. What else would I scream for, Jim Beam? Well somebody might but not I. Your favorite team? I might. A perfect seam? I’m stopping now.
Chocolate-Covered Katie has really been my main blog homegirl. I want to make almost everything on her site except things with coconut in them. It has been hot, so I decided to give her vegan cake batter ice cream a whirl. Literally. You freeze the base for it then put it in your blender. It contains sugar and almond milk, so it has to be good.
I am just sending you to her link for this one because I did nothing to alter the recipe-I did go for the option of using butter flavoring(which is vegan, according to Katie-it’s by the vanilla extract at the store) instead of coconut butter, and I left out the sprinkles. Though if I could get my hands on a container of the rainbow chips in rainbow chip frosting I’d put those in. Or maybe I should have just put a scoop of frosting on the ice cream. I would do that.
This tasted pretty darned good, I thought. It grew on me with each bite. But then again I love almond milk. I’m thinking I’m going to play with this one-make one with chocolate almond milk, use different flavored extracts…but first I really need a new blender.
Here be the link: Cake batter ice cream

Brain trauma and eggs: what more do you want?

10 Aug


FANCY!
Stupid diet trick o’ the day: Incur major brain trauma. Smash your right wrist to smithereens. Not only will you get to sleep all the time and have to limit all physical activity to things that don’t jostle your head or involve the injured arm, but you will eat A LOT and gain no weight because your body is laboring so hard to repair itself. Yep. Sounds like a dream, right?
Actually, a dream is exactly what I thought it was at first. My first memory post-accident was not until about four days into my hospitalization. I realized I was in a hospital bed, sporting a huge cast, a neck brace, a lots of needles in my left arm, and damn, was that a catheter between my legs? I was being fed the best potato soup of my life. It was so good because I was so hungry. I was told I was so hungry because I had not been allowed food for the last several days because the doctors though I might need brain surgery. Hmmm I thought, this is weird. You say I had a bad fall? Surely this is a dream.
Let’s backtrack. How DID I get there? February 28th, 2010, I headed over to my now-ex’s place. It was Sunday afternoon. We were going to hang out, maybe get some Indian food. At least, that is what I am told.I have NO memory of any of the following: the boyfriend let me in to his place, and art loft in downtown LA that is sort of like a giant concrete box. No windows, so if the lights are out you cannot see a thing. I told him I was going to use his restroom and I’d meet him upstairs. The landing at the top of his staircase had no railing. He tells me that he was in his room with the door closed and because the lights were out elsewhere my depth perception might have been off and I probably just walked off the edge. My theory is that I tripped. I am a dancer which means i am a huge klutz;) Whatever happened, I free-fell about a good ten feet onto a concrete floor.
The boyfriend heard a scream and a crash and ran out to find me passed out with eyes open and my hand wrenched waayyyyy out of place. Poor guy thought I was dead then I came to and apparently would not stop babbling the whole ambulance ride to the hospital about how they needed to hurry up and set my hand. In the hospital my hand was set and brain scans showed I’d hit my head on the right side causing my brain to bounce off the left side of my skull which is where internal bleeding and swelling began. The prognosis was “This is bad. Get her parents here”.
My mom and aunt made it across the country by the next afternoon. My father was on work in Ethiopia but made it within the next couple of days. He is a neurologist so I can’t imagine how scary hearing “Your daughter has brain injuries” must have been. Things kept getting worse. Every time I woke up I’d have to be told where I was and what had happened. The swelling continued and the bleeding began to spread, seeping into brain in what is called arachnoid bleeding, I guess because rivulets of blood branch out from the main area like a spider’s legs. I had a big subdermal hemotoma. Doctors were getting ready to operate if the tables did not turn. The area of my brain affected was messing with my kidneys. I wasn’t retaining sodium which messed with my heart rate and made me even more confused. I was pretty much only allowed to drink Gatorade for a good month after the accident, as water would reduce my sodium levels even more. Miraculously, four days into the whole thing, the swelling in my brain began to subside on it’s own. The docs finally ok’d me for solid food, and I began to retain some memory. It figures that the first memory I had was of food, the delicious potato soup.
Once my brain was stabilized it was time to operate on my messed up hand. I’d cracked my radius nearly in half and the bone was severely splintered. I now have what I call the bionic arm, full of metal plates and pins.
the bionic arm the bionic arm

A couple weeks after the accident I was discharged from the hospital which is sort of where the hell began. The reality of what had happended set in. My whole body was in intense pain much of the time, still recovering from the blow of hitting that concrete floor. My memory was still cruddy, and speech was sometimes difficult. I would stuggle to find simple words. I could not stay awake for more than a few hours at a time. It took a full year for me to feel like my memory was finally back to normal and I had to plan my days around naps for about the next 8 months. The one good thing was that my insomnia was finally cured!
I have always been very active, I dance, do yoga and lift weights, but I could not do anything that jostled my head or strained my healing arm. My first solution was to get an exercise bike. I also took walks which progressed to hikes once my arm was healed more. I got a mighty cute cast in the meantime:

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Two months after the arm surgery I got my cast off and began physical therapy. My wrist had zero mobility. I couldn’t take any real weight so I started working with resistance bands to build strength in addition to my PT sessions. My favorite thing at therapy was when electrodes were attached to my arm and the electric pulses would make my hand curl up-totally creepy!
On the nutrition front, I was advised to eat lots of eggs and fish for my brain. I do not eat meat, but I ate up eggs like there was no tomorrow. By late August, the neurologists said I could try going to ballet class again but to start slowly with things like jumps and turns. Wow, did I ever suck in class! I was so out of shape, dance-wise. Around the same time, the opportunity was given to me for a month-long run of an autobiographical one-act play I wrote, and fortunately my memory was working well enough for me to be able to start performing again. It is now more than a year later I am back to dancing, acting and being an insomniac and I couldn’ t be happier.
This whole experience made me feel incredibly blessed. Yes, it was difficult and traumatizing but it could have been far worse. I could have been killed. I could have ended up paralyzed or permanently brain damaged. I may not have had such amazing family and friends to be there for me. Instead, I recovered much faster than the doctors thought would be possible and had my loved ones there for me every step of the way. This has taught me to be grateful for the simple things, like, oh, say, being alive? I now know that you have to be grateful for each day. Don’t put off telling people you love them, or doing the things you want to do. Life could be too short. Finally, eat eggs, lots of eggs. Oh, and dance!

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To get y’all started on the eggs, I am leaving my recipe for Vegetarian Baked Scotch Eggs, adapted from The Joy of Cooking, the version published in the 90’s (yes I am a dork who has multiple Joy copies!)
Combine in bowl:
3/4 package of litelife soy ground sausage (the type that comes in sort of a tube shape)
1 egg
1 tbsp.chopped parsley
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. dried sage
1/4 tsp. dried thyme
1/4 t tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1/4 tsp. coriander
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg

Place on plate:
2 Tbsp. Flour

Beat in bowl:
1 egg

Place on another plate:
1 cup fresh bread crumbs

Divide soy mixture into 6 parts and wrap around 6 hardboiled eggs. Roll in flour, then egg, then breadcrumbs and bake for about 30 minutes in a 400 degree oven, turning midway through. Let rest 5-10 minutes before trying to cut. Eat hot or cold, they are tasty both ways!

#veganGatsby

7 Aug


Oh, it is my clever hash marks to indicate a hash recipe. Clever, clever.
I do love it when literature and food collide. I was re-reading The Great Gatsby(yes I am a nerd, I also re-read A Tale of Two Cities every few years), and came to the line “A succulent hash arrived, and Mr. Wolfsheim, forgetting the more sentimental atmosphere of the old Metropole, began to eat with ferocious delicacy”. I’d already written a draft of this blog on my vegan hash when I came to this line, and it seemed like a sign that I was writing the right blog. Ok, not really a sign. Just a cool coincidence that gave me reason to add quote from F Scott Fitzgerald.
I doubt Mr. Wolfsheim’s 1920’s New York hash even remotely resembled the vegan one I made.
I posted a couple of recipes for egg hashes(and probably have one more coming!) so I decided it was time for a vegan friendly hash. Also, I love tempeh. Deeply. Almost as deeply as I love Mark Bittman. Tempeh Hash recipe from Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything Vegetarian? Food-gasm time! That cookbook is to me what the Kama Sutra is to…I dunno, people who like sex. Which ought to be everyone.
Ok I sort of hate the term food-gasm. Yet I use it. Forgive me.
Don’t leave out the ginger in this recipe. Unless ginger is not your cup of tea in which case you really should not read this post. Though it is worth reading to check out the wicked awesome ice cubes.
Lest I ramble on incessantly about the nubbliness of tempeh, sex, Bittman and use more silly food-blog terms(Nom! Awesomesauce! Nummers! Slurp!)…just smack me and tell me to shut up. But don’t blame me if that gets me excited. Or violent. Or both. Go read some Fitzgerald.
Here’s the recipe:
Tempeh Hash(reduced to single-person size and leaving out anything I did not have on hand from Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything Vegetarian)
1 5 oz. white potato, diced
sea salt
freshly ground pepper
1/3 of an 8oz. block of tempeh, crumbled
1/2 c. chopped yellow onion
2 tsp. minced ginger
1 tsp. minced garlic
hot pepper flakes to taste
1 tsp. soy sauce
1/2 tsp. rice wine vinegar
1/3 tsp. sugar
1/3 c. diced red bell pepper
1/3 c. chopped cilantro
Spray a pan with nonstick spray. heat to medium-high. Add taters, let sit undisturbed til edges brown, about 5 minutes. Reduce to medium heat, sprinkle with salt and pepper and cook 10-15 more til brown, transfer to plate.
Spray again, heat to medium-high(again). Add tempeh, stir frequently til deeply colored and crisp. Add to plate with potatoes but don’t stir.
Spray for the third and last time. Put back on medium-high heat. Add onion, ginger and garlic and stir a minute or two then reduce heat to medium-low and let caramelize, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat. Whisk chile flakes, soy sauce, vinegar and sugar. Put onion mixture back over medium heat. Add tempeh and potatoes, stir until hot and sizzling, add soy mixture, toss to coat, then stir in bell pepper and cilantro. Put on plate and make purtier with additional cilantro. if you don’t want to be vegan, and a bit more Gatsby-ish you could put a fried egg on top. And have a side of bathtub gin. I ate this hot one night and cold the next and would eat it on a train, in a plane(maybe not I hate eating on planes), and definitely in Spain. Gotta get to Spain someday. Whatever you do eat ferociously, and if you are feeling dainty, with delicacy.
Questions of the day: Where do you most want to travel, and what will you eat there?
What do you like to read over and over?