Friday, March 30, 2007

Spagetti and Meatballs

I like Everyday Food magazine. It has a simple premise: cooking simple, tasty, healthy food. Often, it accomplishes this goal on a budget too; something else I like. And it doesn't hurt that the pictures are beautiful. But unlike the pictures in some of Martha Stewart's other publications, the pictures in Everyday Food make it look like you can do it.

Everyday Food just recently published a cookbook. Paul got it for me as a present - because he is the best, natch. Tonight, Paul and I tired making turkey meatballs and I was pretty pleased with how it turned out. The meatballs are very tender. The recipe has a very good tip to form the meatballs with wet hands.

Of course, I modified the recipe a little. I added some Worcester Sauce to the pasta sauce, because I always do with tomato sauce. I also found the sauce a little bitter, even after cooking it for the recommended time, so I added a little brown sugar to round out the flavour. Finally, the recipe recommends just cooking the meatballs in the sauce, but I browned them a little first. They were still very tender, so if you have time to brown the meatballs I recommend it.

So far, I am pretty happy with this cookbook.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Garlic Bread

I've had a few garlic bread disasters. But Heidi's Dad's double bake technique is seriously awesome. I didn't have any lemon, so I did not add the zest. But it is something I will try in the future. I recommend this for all your garlic bread needs.

Additionally, 101cookbooks is a pretty nifty site.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Thai Beef on Glass Noodles

No one ever said grad school was easy. I've been a little busy recently and so have been making some simple favourites: the spinach that I make about once a week now, one last butter nut squash soup before it really becomes spring, and those beef short ribs for one night when my brother came over for dinner. Another new favourite is red pepper fried with garlic. But the name says it all so it really doesn't merit a post.

So, I've been cooking, but there haven't been any experiments - at least any that turned out - to write about.

Tonight Paul and I mixed things up by cooking something from "Food & Drink" magazine. This is a glossy publication produced by the government owned liquor store in Ontario. The photos in this magazine are lovely, but often the recipes are out of reach of the grad school budget and require a lot of ingredients. Well, this one required a lot of ingredients too. But after a recent foray into making pad thai, I already had quite a few of them. Plus I had been wanting to try cooking glass noodles at home.

In case you haven't cooked with fish sauce before, it smells seriously dreadful. But it tastes better than it smells. And reassuringly, it's an ingredient in some Worcester Sauces.

I modified the original recipe from Spring 2007 "Food & Drink" magazine - I will post a link when it is up on the LCBO website. I used less chili paste, because I can't take the heat, and upped the vegetable content.

Thai Style Beef
1/2 thai red curry paste
2 small steaks (225 g), I used tenderloin as it was on sale
2 tbsp vegitable oil, separated

Preheat oven to 450F.

1. Sprinkle salt and pepper on steaks
2. Mix red curry paste with about 1 tbsp oil and spread on steaks.
3. Heat 1 tbsp oil in an oven safe frying pan on med-high heat. Sear steaks one min on each side. Then place in preheated oven for 5-8 mins. (8 mins will be medium well).

Glass Noodles

4 oz glass noodles

1/4 chicken stock
1/2 red curry paste
1 tbsp fish sauce
1 tsp soy sauce
1 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp lime juice

1 clove garlic finely chopped
1 tbsp grated ginger
1 stalk lemon grass, coarsely chopped and bruised (I would recommend not actually eating the lemon grass)
3 grated carrots, about 1 cup
1/4 of a green pepper, in fine slices
1/2 onion, finely sliced
snow peas, about 1 cup
bean sprouts, about 1 cup

1. Soak noodles in boiling water for 10 mins. Mix ingredients for the sauce together.
2. Meanwhile, heat oil in a large pan (or wok), and add garlic, ginger and lemon grass. Cook for about 30 secs.
3. Add carrot, green pepper and onion to the pan and cook until the vegetables have softened, about 3-4 mins.
4. Add noodles, snow peas, and bean sprouts. Cook another 2 mins.
5. Add sauce and cook until sauce boils and is absorbed by the noodles.
6. Serve with slices of Thai Beef on top.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Poppy Seed Loaf

To make a no-knead onion poppy seed loaf, following the regular directions for no-knead bread (just google for it) and make additions listed below.

To the dry ingredients add:
3 tbsp poppy seeds
2 tsps sugar

Then after you have added the first cup of water add
1/4 fried onion

Saturday, March 03, 2007

pizza pie

No, I didn't dial "p" for pizza. Paul and I made this tonight.

Oh, and one last thing, if you microwave your pepperoni for about a minute you can render out a lot of the fat and make your pizza less greasy. I am not sure where I read this tip, but I love it.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Nutty Noodles

Once again I cooked from the March 2007 Everyday Food magazine. I liked the ideal of a boil and toss meal - it would be easy and delicious right? How could Martha lead me astray. It looked so delicious in the picture. And then....I thought very hard about the idea of boiled tofu. The recipe suggested BOILING tofu. Right. Obviously I was going to have to change this recipe up a little. The boiled tofu had to go. I begrudgingly tolerate tofu, but I like it better fried like in pad thai; it gets a nutty flavour.

One of my flickr contacts, tiny banquet committee had a nice picture of some peanut-sesame noodles. Perfect. I would have a boil, fry and toss meal. Sure there were a few more dishes, but no boiled tofu.

I was pretty happy with how this turned out. Although the sauce is very flavourful, the blandness of the noodles counters it. I think maybe the sauce needs something else - I will definitely be experimenting with again: I think chicken might be nice instead of tofu and I would like trying to make the sauce a little more sour. I will keep you posted if I can improve it.

Nutty Noodles
(1 serving)

for the sauce:
2 tbsp peanut butter
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
1 tsp brown sugar
1 tsp sesame oil

everything else:
2 tsp vegetable oil
3 oz tofu, in bite sized pieces
2 oz snow peas
1 carrot, in ribbons (see note below)
4 mushrooms, quatered
1 tbsp toasted sesame seeds

4 oz pasta (linguine or spaghetti)

1. Whisk sauce ingredients together. (I did this in a 1 cup measuring cup with a fork).
2. When you start cooking the pasta, start frying the tofu in the vegetable oil. Once the tofu starts looking golden (2-3 mins) add the mushrooms. Cook the mushrooms and tofu for about another 3 mins, until the mushrooms get that dark cooked look. Finally add the snow peas and carrot. If your noodles are almost done, you can put a lid on the tofu mixture to speed the cooking of the carrot and snow peas. They will only need a minute.
3. Drain noodles and add to vegetable mixture. Toss with sauce. If sauce is too thick, thin it with some pasta water.
4. Plate, and top with some toasted sesame seeds

Carrot Ribbons

This is a great technique. I use my regular vegetable peeler to cut make long ribbons from the carrot. This is easy at first, but as the carrot gets thiner I found it helpful to rotate it by 90 degrees, and then make more ribbons.