01 December, 2010


It's November 25th and I'm elbow deep in the cavity of a turkey that smells like whiskey, an appropriate introduction to the holidays. How I got here, I'll never really understand; a week ago Alin and I were discussing what we would do for the holidays and I suggested a full Thanksgiving meal for just the two of us and my pet dachshund. Apparently a full Thanksgiving meal seems to suggest a turkey. Now I'm never one to step down from a culinary challenge, but I admit, I flinched.

I decided to brine the bird; Alton Brown did it, and what the hell did I know about making a turkey? Brining a turkey involves emerging the bird in a salt water solution overnight (or longer) so that the turkey retains its moisture. Normally brines involve about a cup or so of salt; the turkey Alin bought was injected with a saline solution of 8% and I had read somewhere that brining turkey that already had been injected could make it too salty, so I erred on the side of caution and used only 1/4 cup or so of salt. From what I could tell of turkey brine recipes, they're kind of like pickling brines, as long as you have the basics, the rest is up to you. So I just threw together a quick brine that seemed like it would work.

1 cup white vinegar

1/4-1/3 salt

1/2 cup whiskey

2 tbsp dried rosemary

2 tbsp peppercorns

water to fill the rest of the pot.

Maybe I'm a child, but preparing the turkey was one of the most challenging activities I've ever taken part in. The turkey kept leaking red liquid, and I couldn't gather up enough courage to actually reach into the turkey to remove the "giblets". Morbid images of turkey organs being torn away from bones floated through my mind. Were they just floating in there? Of course as I found myself in the midst of a turkey crisis the boyfriend wouldn't answer his phone and I was on my own. Eventually shaking the bird in the sink rendered a small paper bag of, what I assume to be the giblets and also the source of the red leaking. Proud of my heroic removal of the turkey guts I quickly grabbed the turkey and shoved it in my stock pot with the brine, of course it didn't fit. The lid wouldn't go on, and the more I shoved the turkey, the more gross the whole situation became. Brine was sloshing everywhere, and as hard as I tried to be conscious of the health risks associated with raw poultry bacteria, everything in my tiny kitchen soon became covered in smelly turkey/whiskey juice. At one point I pushed the bird down and one of the bones made a popping noise, I admitted defeat and just conceded to put a bowl over the top in the refrigerator and rotate the turkey every 12 hours.

Check the pot size before adding the brine.

The big day was just as trying. After removing the turkey from the brine and washing it in the sink, I became aware of another problem, the neck. Why they include the neck of the turkey with the package, I couldn't possibly tell you. What I can tell you is it looks like something that could have been used as a prop for staged alien autopsy. Sadly the shaking technique didn't render the same results as with the giblets, so here I am, probing a turkey, and crying out of sheer exhaustion. Martha Stewart must have nerves of steel.

Buy tongs.

Alin finally called, and alarmed by a panicked girlfriend made his way to my house. Everything went much more smoothly with support. We inserted butter and rosemary just under the skin like I'd once seen Martha Stewart do to a chicken, and I filled the cavity with the leftovers from making the dressing, celery, garlic, and an onion half. With the turkey finally assembled, we could finally relax. I periodically basted the top with a mixture of honey, whiskey, garlic, and olive oil. After 2 hours of cooking at 325F I covered the turkey in foil and let it cook the remaining hour until the red button popped up. We walked it to my mother's house who "just had to see this", and though I didn't eat any, I beamed with pride from my accomplishment. Everyone enjoyed the turkey and no one came down with food poisoning; I consider this a success.

Whitney's Thanksgiving Menu

Mulled Cider

Drunk Turkey

Jalapeño Cornbread Dressing

Green Bean Casserole

Sour Cream Mashed Potatoes with vegetarian gravy

Handmade Cranberry Sauce

Cheese Cake

22 November, 2010

Can it.

My mother doesn't have a garden, she doesn't knit, and I've yet to see her can anything. I have grown up in a generation where I know at one point people did these things, but that was a long time ago. Perhaps that is why I look to these antiquated chores as demonstrations of domestic mastery and overall productive uses of time; I'd like to call this the Modern Female Fallacy; welcome.

Step one: Canning.
Canning is a way of preserving organic material by creating a vacuum within a can. In this case, mason jars. You can can many things, but while creating the vacuum the cans must be heated and thus the insides of the can will be heated also, so don't add anything that would ruin once heated.
What you'll need:
Something to can..
Jars with two piece lids
large pot or canning pan

Step two: Pickling.
Pickling is a way of using salt and vinegar to preserve organic matter. Pickling allows for improvisation, as long as you have the basics of white vinegar and salt the rest of the seasonings are up to you. You can really pickle anything, limes, okra, pigs feet, but lets not sink into vulgarity, here's a recipe for pickled okra.
4 canning jars
2lbs of fresh okra
1 cup white vinegar
2 cups water
1/3 cup pickling salt
1 tbsp dill
1 tbsp peppercorns
4 chilies
1 tsp mustard seeds (or powder)
Using mustard powder instead of seeds will cause your pickling brine to be cloudy, which is apparently undesirable, but I don't really mind either way.
Arrange the okra, pepper, peppercorns, and mustard in the sterilized jars. Boil the vinegar, water, and dill for 5 minutes. Once finished fill the jars with the vinegar brine, fill up to 1/8 inch below the lip. Carefully apply the lids and tighten. Wipe the jars and place in a large pot, fill the pot with water so that the lids are submerged by at least an inch of water.
This is easier accomplished by adding the water with the cans already in the pot, so that you don't heat more water than you need.
Boil for 5-10 minutes. Carefully remove the jars and let sit. If the lids dimple in the canning has worked, if the lid puffs, then you need to refrigerate the cans and eat the contents within the week.

Up next, marmalade.

19 August, 2010

Senorita, Margarita?

There are some people who "can't do tequila" a statement often accompanied by a horror story involving an "insane night" where things went "so wrong so fast"; I am not one of those people. I would go so far as to say I like tequila. It's a versatile liquor; you can spring for expensive tequila like Patron or 1800 to sip or grab a mid-range Tequila which will prove a flavorful addition to a number of tequila based mixed drinks. But lets just be honest here.. there is only one tequila mixed drink, the Margarita, because there doesn't need to be anything else (okay so maybe that's not true, there are other tequila based drinks, but this blog entry isn't about them and there's a reason for that).
The International Bartender's Association lists a margarita as a 7:4:3 ratio of tequila, triple sec, and lime juice, but a more common ratio is 2:1:1.
Often the lime juice is replaced by sour mix which is a mix of lime juice and sugar which, in my opinion, is never a good idea. Sour mix is cheaper and often on a bar tap where as squeezing limes by hand might just be a little too time consuming for some places.
The margarita, in its purest form is an elongated tequila shot. As anyone who's ever been to Mexico or college can tell you, a shot of tequila is normally accompanied by two things, a lime and salt.
This tradition came from Mexicans using salt and citrus juice to dilute the after burn of the tequila.
By adding sugar and mixing the lime juice into the tequila the margarita became the modern man's sip-able tequila shot.
Now where the margarita comes from is a bit of a mystery; most stories concur that a bartender (somewhere in Mexico) was inspired by an actress or otherwise beautiful woman and thus created this cocktail in her honor, sometime in the early to mid twentieth century. One story even suggests that the cocktail was invented in Galveston, Texas (which is upsetting on several levels). Though the romanticism of it all is appreciated I would venture to say that there is no real story of the invention of such a cocktail. Much like inventing the sandwich or buttered bread rolls; how can one claim responsibility for a combination so natural?
Margaritas come in all shapes, colors, and sizes. There are the traditional lime margaritas, which come frozen, on the rocks, or straight up (without ice at all). Flavored margaritas are also offered at many places and usually are the product of frozen fruit being added to the margarita when blended with ice. In places like Texas there have been many deviations in the margarita front, due to the large number of Mexican restaurants all hoping to offer something unique. Here are a few of my favorites:
    The Margatini (Orlando's)
    • 2 parts tequilla
    • 1 part amaretto
    • 1 part olive juice
    • 1 part sweetened lime juice
    • touch of vermouth
    • olives
    Served shaken from a martini shaker into a martini glass with salt on the rim.

    The DosaRita (Ruby Tequila's)
    • A traditional frozen margarita with a DosXX's beer turned upside down in the glass.
    The Pineapple Infusion Margarita
    • 2 parts pineapple infused tequila (where pineapple has been left in the tequila for an amount of time)
    • 1 part grandmanier
    • piece of vanilla bean
    Served on the rocks with salt (or sugar) on the rim.

    The Purist Margarita
    • 2 parts 1800 tequila
    • 1 part fresh lime juice
    • 1 part Grand Marnier
    • lime wedges squeezed and left in the glass
    Served on the rocks with a salted rim, on the beach, with a smile.

    03 August, 2010

    Name that cookie...

    Bored in the bakery and started a new trend of decorating; name that cookie!!
    Because sometimes spinning on the big wheeled drums of powdered sugar gets old.
    05 July, 2010


    When I was about 12 my neighbor across the street, had a fig tree. She was a good friend of mine, Ms.Bowles, and was, at 97, my oldest friend. I would spend hours at her house just talking with her, and I suppose was lucky that she had the patience to spend her retired life entertaining the rambling of a lonely neighborhood girl. But we, dear people are getting off topic. Ms. Bowles had a fig tree and was ironically allergic to figs, and thus would encourage others to take the fruit. I stole a few, trying to eat one raw and then microwaving one with milk, I was left underwhelmed. The fruit was gritty with an odd skin, the flavor was sweet but just mildly so.. To summarize, this was no apple.

    Fast forward a decade or so and I find myself faced with black mission figs in my local market... This was one fruit I needed to tackle. The mission fig is a type of fig introduced to the western United States by Franciscan monks and thus were granted their pious name. The mission figs differ from common figs in that they have smaller seeds, grow faster and to a greater size when matured. These figs sport a thin black skin and red flesh; they are fiercely sweet and can be purchased fresh in the summer or dry year round.

    I purchased a clam-shell pack of fresh black mission figs at my grocery store for $4.99. Since figs are native to the Mediterranean I thought that a simple filo (phyllo) free-form crostata would pair nicely; in very much the same vein as my cherry crostata. This time instead of marzipan I used goat's cheese, and honey as the glue to keep the fruit down. Slicing the mission figs thinly to top the goat's cheese covered filo crust they were then generously drizzled with honey and baked until the figs became soft and the honey began to bubble. Lovely and light, the figs were perfect and the sour flavor of the goat's cheese helped balance the super sweet combination of figs and honey.

    Mediterranean Mission Crostata
    • 4 black mission figs, washed and thinly sliced vertically
    • 4 oz of soft goat's cheese
    Soft is important as it must be spread on top of the filo. If you're working with a drier goats cheese mixing it with honey or cream cheese could help the cheese become more spreadable. You want a good layer of cheese.
    • 1/4 pack of filo sheets, layered with butter
    • 3 tbsp honey
    • 1 tsp salt

    After layering the filo with butter on a greased or papered baking sheet place to the side. Mash your goat's cheese (or mixture of goat's cheese and honey) together in a bowl slightly warming the mixture to a spreadable consistency. Spread the goat's cheese mixture on top of the filo, careful to not tear the sheets. Apply a generous layer of the cheese and fold the edges of the filo up so that the cheese does not run off when melting. Wash and slice your figs thinly, careful to maintain their shape.
    Slice using a very sharp knife vertically, keeping the tear-drop shape. This just makes a prettier tart, so don't worry too much.
    Layer the fig slices in any desired order on top of the goat's cheese. Sprinkle salt onto the top of the figs to bring out their flavor. Drizzle honey generously over the top and place in a pre-heated oven at 350 degrees. Bake until the honey begins to bubble on top of the figs and the filo begins to brown. Allow to cool at top with more honey when serving.

    05 June, 2010


    Cherries are one of my favorite summer fruits, second, perhaps, only to July peaches. When they're good, they're amazing, but they are also capable of being flavorless and too soft. These cherries I bought at Market street, and I realize that as it's only the beginning of summer I'm running the risk of wasting $9 on cherries that were awful, but I took my chances.
    Now I've never cooked with fresh cherries; they rarely survive the car ride home, but as these were not of the huge black variety I was able to contain myself and give it a shot. I was determined not to distract from the cherries themselves so I kept it simple and lovely.

    Cherry-Almond Filo Crostata
    • 1lb cherries pitted and halved
    • 1 tsp almond extract
    • 1 tube marzipan
    • 1/2 a package of filo
    • 1/3 cup butter
    • sweetener to taste
    • pinch of salt
    Layer filo with butter, when half-way through the sheets add 1/3 of the marzipan in splotches spread with your fingers top with the rest of filo layering with butter.
    Keep the marzipan cold, if it melts it will become sticky and impossible to work with!
    Finish layering the filo until you have the desired thickness. Roll out the chilled marzipan to approximate size and shape of filo and press onto filo. Mix cherries with almond extract, sweetener, and salt. Press cherries into marzipan, fold up sides of filo and bake at 350 until golden.

    01 May, 2010


    My relationship with bread has been a complex one. As a child I thought of bread as sort of the middle man to good things; burgers and cheese needed something to separate them! In my adolescence, when I became a vegetarian it was more of a staple; I was what one might call a potato and cheese vegetarian. Then I discovered baguettes, coupled with roasted garlic, olive oil, fruit and cheese. Oh goodness, the flood gates opened, not all bread was processed and in the shape of a square, there was this lovely flakey business also used as bread that tasted of awesome. So there my love affair with bread started, right at that moment, write it down everyone because this is important.
    Then, like in any relationship, bread and I hit a rough spot; ranging from dietary avoidance to indifference. Living in Spain we ate bread at every meal, and to be honest, I couldn't wait to get away from the dense bolillo bread present at every Spanish lunch and dinner. But as of now I'm in a good place; I don't believe that bread should be wasted as a middle man and no good bread comes in the shape of a rectangle. So if you're going to use it to make a sandwich, make a good one.
    "The Good One"
    • 1 french baguette
    • marinated sliced mushrooms
    • brie
    • raspberry jam
    • 2 egg whites
    • basil
    Slice baguette at an angle to get long slices, make it as thin as possible. Sauté or grill mushrooms until warm. On one bread side spread brie, on the other the jam. In between the two add the mushrooms and smoosh. Dip both sides of the assembled sandwiches into beaten egg whites. Griddle on both sides until tops brown.

    Or you could always highlight a lovely baguette by making bruschetta.
    "WYSK's Bruschetta"
    • organic cherry tomatoes
    • 2 tbsp olive oil
    • 2 cloves of garlic diced
    • fresh basil
    • oregano
    • salt
    • black pepper
    • juice of 1/2 lemon
    • baguette
    Slice baguette to desired thickness. And toast in broiler or in frying pan until browned to your liking. Sauté oil, oregano, and diced garlic. Cut cherry tomatoes into halves or quarters, and add to the pan with lemon juice, salt, and pepper to taste. Only cook for 3-5 minutes, keeping the structure of the tomatoes. At the last second add shredded fresh basil, and spoon on top on toasts. Top with cheese if you like.

    26 April, 2010

    Orange Sponge Cake

    We never say "sponge cake" anymore, well people I know don't. Every cake has to have a flavor, description, and plenty of thick icing; but what happened to simplicity? Perhaps we as Americans have lost our appreciation for this basic cake amongst the corn-syruped and chocolate dipped sweets that modern chemistry has afforded us, perhaps we have been over sugared?
    Within England it's referred to as "sponge" and is common as a tea snack, a popular choice is Victoria Sponge, a sponge cake with jam layered in the middle. Sponge cake is at it's simplest a fluffy cake which can be eaten alone, or due to it's appropriate absorbency, is perfect accompanied with creme or fruit. The fluffiness of this cake comes from the presence of beaten egg whites within the batter; the cake maintains it's body despite the low proportion of flour by having less fats to soften its structure; this cake uses no yeast, and is one of the earliest non-yeasted cakes.

    Adapted from "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" I present: Gateau a l'Orange
    What you will need:
    • Spring form pan or small greased 9 inch pan.
    • whisk or electric beaters
    • 2 mixing bowls
    • a way to grate an orange
    • 1/2 cup sugar
    • 4 eggs separated
    • zest of one orange
    • juice of 3 oranges
    • pinch-o-sal
    • 3/4 cup flour
    • 1 tbsp of extra sugar
    Whisk 1/2 cup of sugar with eggs yolks until mixture thickens to a slow stream when falling from the whisk. Add zest, juice, and salt to the mixture and beat until foamy. Slowly beat in the flour to avoid lumps.
    In a separate bowl whisk sugar, salt, and egg whites together until still peaks are formed.
    This will take awhile and probably hurt your forearm.
    Fold the egg-white mixture into the batter one forth at a time using a wooden spoon or another flattened implement. Folding the delicate egg-whites into the heavier batter helps the egg-whites maintain their structure.
    Folding is achieved by sweeping the bottom of the batter to the top slowly until mixture is incorporated.
    Pour mixture into greased pan and bake at 350 for 20 minutes, but start checking at 15. The cake should be puffy and lightly browned.
    The book says to cook for 30-35 minutes, mine baked for 18 and burned slightly. Perhaps my oven is too hot, but I would suggest vigilance.
    Orange Butter Glaze

    What you will need:
    • whisk
    • saucepan
    • basin of cold water

    • 1/2 cup butter
    • 1 1/2 cup sugar
    • 2 eggs
    • 2 egg yolks
    • zest of one orange
    • juice of 2 oranges
    Beat all ingredients together in saucepan before heating. Once everything is incorporated heat on low or over a double boiler until mixture thickens to the consistency of honey. The mixture is at the optimum temperature when it is too hot for your finger tip.
    Heating slowly prevents the eggs from scrambling.
    Once temperature has been reached remove from heat and place the bottom of the saucepan in the basin of cold water. Continue to whisk for 4-5 minutes until the mixture thickens.

    Cut the cake in half horizontally and pour glaze on the exposed part of both halves. Allow to set and reassemble. You can also take a small layer off of the top and pour the glaze over the top.

    16 April, 2010

    Tarte Au Citron et Aux Amandes (Lemon Almond Tart)

    Naturalists argue that there is no choice; we all make decisions based on previous experiences culminated with the stimuli present at any given time. The human brain is essentially a function, input of stimulus goes through the function of previous experience and the output is action, which can be predetermined and is inescapable. One could suggest this is why most of the decisions we make on a daily basis pass without any notice at all; there really was no choice to begin with. Therefor I would suggest it is a rare moment when we are fully aware whilst making a decision of it's pros and cons and how the results will in turn be effected; today I had one of those moments.
    I had planned to make a dessert from Julia Child's "Mastering the Art of French Cooking"; after consulting Alin, I had a plan to make the Tarte Au Citron et Aux Amandes. Now here is where the big choice comes in; to buy or not to buy the tart shell? Well.. I've made pie crust before and it's awful; I still haven't gotten around to buying/stealing a rolling pin and they always end up so ugly. So as I strolled the aisles of Market Street, I pictured the pre-made tart shells, I even knew exactly where they were, and yet I resisted. Am I mouse or am I woman? What is a this foodblog if not to be a place where I highlight my ugly yet homemade tart shells? I made a choice, authenticity over aesthetics.
    So I present you with What You SHOULD Know's Lemon Almond Tart:

    This recipe is broken into 3 parts:

    1. Tart Shell

    2. Candied Lemon Peel/Glaze

    3. Tart Filling

    Part 1: Sugar Crust Tart Shell
    This part of the recipe takes awhile, and needs to chill in the refrigerator for at least two hours.
    • 1 1/3 cup flour
    • 3 tablespoons sugar
    • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
    • 4 tablespoons butter
    • 2 tablespoons shortening
    • 1 beaten egg (with teaspoon of water)
    • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • wax paper
    Mix the flour, sugar, and fats together in a large bowl. Break the butter down amongst the dry ingredients into small crumbles. Add in egg (whisked with water) and vanilla extract and blend quickly, kneading the dough into a ball. Divide the ball into four pieces, and on a board covered in wax paper place 1/4 of the dough and push forward with the palm of your hand, making a 6" smear. Gather the smeared dough and repeat 4 times. Repeat with each fourth of dough before recombining them to one ball, wrapping in wax paper and leaving in the refrigerator to chill. This practice of smearing is to best combine the fats at flour.

    After waiting at least two hours roll out chilled pie crust quickly (or it'll warm up), and place in a buttered false bottomed pan and roll edges down.
    You can also use just a plain buttered pie plate, but removal would be harder, but if you're fine with keeping it in the pie plate, who cares?
    Poke bottom of tart crust with a fork 7-10 times, so that it doesn't puff in the oven. Bake tart at 325F until baked but not brown.

    Part 2: Candied Lemon Peel/ Glaze
    • 2 lemons
    • a julianne peeler or sharp knife
    Peel the lemons and cut the peel into strips of 1/8th inch or smaller.
    Leave the white of the lemon peel intact as it's bitter and will be crucial in maintaining enough structure to later squeeze the lemons.
    In a small saucepan boil the lemon peels for 12 minutes. Afterwards drain thoroughly.
    • 1 1/2 cup sugar
    • 2/3 cup water
    • 1 tsp vanilla extract
    • 1 tsp lavender
    • boiled lemon peel
    Mix sugar, water, lavender, and drained lemon peel in a small saucepan and boil. Continue to boil sugar mixture until it reaches 230F or drips off the spoon in a constant stream like honey. Add vanilla extract and remove from heat, let sit for 30 minutes

    Part 3: Tart Filling
    • 2 eggs
    • 1/2 cup sugar
    • 3/4 cup almond meal
    • 1 tsp almond extract
    • lemon zest of 1 lemon
    • juice of 3 lemons
    Whisk eggs and sugar together for 5 minutes until slightly thickened. Slowly mix in almond meal, almond extract, lemon zest, and lemon juice.
    Cover the edges of tart crust in foil so as not to burn the edges...like I did.
    Bake in a preheated oven at 325F for approximately 25 minutes until the center is set and lightly browned. My tart didn't brown but it will set up in the middle, trust me, you can tell.

    Separate lemon peels from sugar glaze and place around top of tart. Continue to boil remaining sugar glaze until it has thickened to a thick honey consistency.
    Do NOT let it boil furiously as the sugar will re-crystalize and become gritty. Bubbles are not your friend.
    Spoon glaze on top of tart focusing in the middle. Let cool.

    Also great as mini-tarts!

    14 April, 2010

    Gluten-free Cupcakes

    I ran across a recipe on Healthy Indulgences that I had to try. I didn't have a lot of the strange chemical ingredients, and I really don't like coconut flour (trust me, you don't either), so I made some substitutions. This cupcake is quite dense and not terribly sweet. I find it's perfect topped with a swipe of Nutella, but if you're really serious about this sugar-free business, then some cool whip I suppose would work just as well.

    The Perfect Yellow CupCake, sugar and gluten free

    • 15 oz white beans canned or cooked
    • 4 eggs
    • 5 tablespoons light butter or margarine
    • 3/4 cup splenda
    • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
    • 1 teaspoon almond extract
    • 6 tbsp ground almonds
    • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
    • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
    • 1 teaspoon baking powder
    • cupcake liners
    Before you get started, or even buy that $11 bag of almond meal here is what you should know..
    You will need a blender of some sort, a hand blender will do, but this is necessary to de-skin the beans. WARNING: make sure the blender does not smell like anything (ie that potato soup you make that week) because the egg yolks will pick-up the smell.
    Rinse and blend beans with eggs and extracts with blender or food processor until no bean pieces remain. Cream butter and Splenda in bowl, slowly adding in salt, baking powder and soda, and ground almonds. Wisk into the butter mixture the egg and bean mixture. Place in cupcake liners at bake at 350 F until golden. Depending on size should make 12-18 cupcakes.
    These cupcakes are best small as they are so dense.

    Top with no sugar added whipped cream or cool whip.

    Makes the cupcakes so moist and yummy, no one would suspect the beans.

    25 March, 2010


    I shall be brief, my faithful handful of readers, on the changes whence forth shall be implemented upon the instance of the entry following. So I am changing the blog up; it's going to still feature dishes, recipes, and odd tellings but in a new way, get excited! I'm currently waiting on one of my programmer friends to make this all happen layout-wise, and currently trying to tweak my new idea.
    As for the cookbook image to my left, I was recently gifted, by a dear friend, Julia Child's "Mastering the Art of French Cooking".. Now as I join the myriad of college food bloggers in gushing the praises of the cookbook I'll warn you that, yes, there will be recipes from this book featured, but hopefully in a new and possibly unique way.
    What is truly amazing about this book is the depth of the instructions, accompanied by pictures even, holding your hand through some of the most intimidating recipes in the french repertoire. I find it particularly wonderful that due to the age of the book there is no recipe which requires a kitchenaid mixer, or other expensive accoutrement, to execute. Each recipe is an in depth true recipe and never requires canned biscuit dough or a packet of italian dressing, unique for it's time, unheard of in the present.
    11 March, 2010

    Eggs for Dinner

    I love eggs; they're cheap, healthy, and really can be prepared for any meal. Dinner again for Alin and I last night and I made this an occasion for my first shot at hollandaise sauce, because poached eggs just aren't enough of a challenge on their own..
    The trick, I've found, with poaching eggs is to not let the water boil while the egg is in the water, it should just be almost to a boil, the bubbles tear apart the whites.
    As for the hollandaise sauce, I was a little nervous. After stories of the sauce 'breaking' or the egg yolks 'scrambling' in the double boiler, I was hesitant to use more than 2 egg yolks, as I only had 6 eggs (some of which needed to be poached). But all in all, after removing and then returning and removing again the metal bowl from the double boiler (for fear of a scramble due to heat) it all turned out fine, and even kept for 30 minutes in a warm oven! Granted I whisked in a tad more warm water to the sauce after it sat for awhile, but all in all, the reputation is surely more intimidating than the execution itself.

    With the eggs on toast we also had orzo salad, made with heirloom tomatoes, feta, olive oil, and basil.

    Hollandaise Sauce
    • 3tbsp butter
    • 2 egg yolks
    • 1 tbsp lemon juice
    • 1 tbsp warm water

    Whisk eggs and lemon juice together in metal bowl. Melt butter separately. In a double boiler beat egg/lemon mixture, careful not to let the eggs get too hot, while slowly adding in melted butter. If the sauce is thick whisk in warm water. Salt and pepper to taste.
    26 February, 2010

    Gluttony and Alcoholism: The Grapefruit

    Pink is such an odd color for the grapefruit. It is not a girly fruit; there's nothing feminine about the slight bitterness that reaches around and slaps the sweetness right off of your tongue (or perhaps there is). The name itself even seems confusing; it's nothing like a grape, which is itself a fruit. Apparently the name grapefruit came about as they grow in clusters, much like grapes do...I'm pretty sure that's where the similarities end. This being said, I love grapefruit. They are so much juicier than oranges and thus, if you like to juice, are much more appealing and economical than oranges. I don't mind the bitterness either, you kind of warm up to it after awhile. So with a large bag of grapefruits and nothing better to do I set off, to drink and eat some cake.

    GreatFruit Cocktail

    • 1 part sky vodka
    • 1 part fresh squeezed grapefruit juice
    • 1 part La Croix pamplemousse water
    • grapefruit slice

    Now onto the cake. I'm going to be honest, I have a minor thing for this food blog, Chocolate Dust. I do, I like the fact that it's in Croatian, I like the fact that the english directions leave so much to wing, I like the difficulty of the recipes and their international flare. I might have a foodblog crush and I might just start writing my recipes in random languages, so look out for that. So I found this recipe on the blog, that the author had for a dark chocolate orange cake, sounds awesome right? Yes. It does. But I didn't have dark chocolate, I had white chocolate. I didn't have oranges, I had grapefruits. Yes, thats what I did, I made a white chocolate grapefruit cake, similar enough right? Well, kind of.

    White Chocolate Gapefruit Cake
    • 350g white chocolate
    • 175g butter
    • 70ml grapefruit juice
    • 250g almond meal
    • 5 eggs
    • 100g sugar
    • 2 tsp almond extract

    Melt white chocolate on double boiler, adding in the butter and almond extract. Stir until fully melted and then set to the side. In a separate bowl mix together the almond meal and flour. Separate the eggs and mix the egg yolks with 20g of sugar and add into the cooled white chocolate. Slowly add the chocolate to the flour mixture, as well as the grapefruit juice. Beat the egg whites with the remaining sugar until white, and fold into batter. Pour into 2 9-inch pans and bake for 12 minutes at 350F.

    • 1 cup organic sour creme
    • 1/3 cup sweetener
    • 1 tsp almond extract

    Let the cakes cool in and mix sweetener with sour creme and almond extract and spoon between the layers. Place in freezer.

    • 300g white chocolate
    • 100ml half and half
    • grapefruit zest

    Melt chocolate in double boiler and slowly add the half and half to the mix.
    Add the half and half in spurts and stop if the ganache starts to thin too quickly. You may not use all of the half and half.
    Once melted allow to cool and then pour over chilled cake, top with grapefruit zest, chill.

    This cake went over pretty well, though it was no honey cake. It's dense and tart and, though a seemingly odd combo it worked by countering the overwhelming sweetness of the white chocolate.
    18 February, 2010

    Simple, not boring.

    I only have one knife and yes, it's pink; I want to keep my life and kitchen simple.. and I really only need one good knife anyway. It helps though, it really does, when you live in a small house to cut out the unnecessary. I live in a 500 sq/ft back house, which I've decorated with the theme of 'romantic college budget'; it's got everything I need, a couch, a shoe-shelf, and a kitchen. Now the kitchen.. yes I only own 1 knife and 11 forks, I have over 40 spoons; how this discrepancy happened, I don't know. I own only 2 martini, wine, and pint glasses..and 5 Marie Antoinette inspired champagne glasses (they were a gift and I would have 6 but 1 did not survive my birthday party). I avoid gadgets and abhor disposable accoutrement of any type and thus I have enough room for what I need. My kitchen was really the selling point of my apartment, it's enclosed, which for most college kids isn't a necessity, but as a recent college graduate this is irrelevant for me..
    Now I know the cappuccino machine isn't a necessity but.. I blame England. I like expensive waters but I use my old Sanfaustino and Pellegrino bottles as candle holders, which cuts down on the electricity. Well not really. I try, as hard as I can, to keep things clean, clutter-free. One extravagancy for all of you in dormitories, overseas, or otherwise unfortunate, I do have a full-sized refrigerator.
    Enough about my love of my kitchen, on to food! So here's one lovely concoction I came up with tonight for dinner, for just me. It's all about the preparation really.

    Fresh Faux

    • 1 fake chicken serving
    • 4-7 cherry tomatoes
    • 1 basil leaf
    • 1 roasted garlic clove
    • feta cheese
    • cracked pepper
    • olive oil

    Cook the fake chicken (or real chicken for that matter) serving fully, I do this in a frying pan. Cut the tomatoes into halves and mix with tsp of olive oil and garlic and place in small pile on frying pan. Place a fresh basil leaf, which you should always have, on top of the tomatoes. Then place the 'chicken' on top of the tomatoes and allow to cook for 3-4 minutes. Use a spatula to flip the whole thing onto a plate. Top with cracked pepper, salt, and feta cheese and say goodbye to boring faux chicken.

    03 February, 2010

    Limonada Cordoba

    Last night when I got home from the gym I was thirsty, very thirsty. The kind of thirst that a drinking fountain couldn't quell; the next thing I knew it was 11pm and I was at Market Street trying to refrain from buying every beverage in sight. I did come away with; one gallon of water, a two litre bottle of Diet Coke, eight oranges, eight lemons, a mint plant, and a single serving bottle of Honest Tea "Peach Oo-La-Long". The tea and some water were enough to sate my thirst enough to go to bed but this morning it was back in full force, so I began to juice.
    As previously mentioned I've been making fresh juices a lot recently. I have this cheap-o Betty Crocker juicer that works horribly, it's no Philippe Starck juicer (as pictured), but if I don't plug it in I can manage to use it as a manual juicer. My most recent favorite has been grapefruit juice, almost solely because grapefruits are juicer and cheaper than oranges. However as you will have noticed last night I bought oranges and lemons, so orange juice it is, but what with the lemons? I had some sort of idea while in my thirst frenzy that I would make mint lemonade, like a sort of non-alcoholic mojito type concoction. However, like many plans, things changed. After making the orange juice and pouring it into my reusable wine bottle I bought from Kensington Whole Foods in London (and can't stop raving about how useful it has been), I turned to the lemons... How could I make this different from your baseline lemonade? This is what I've come up with; named after the blooming almond trees of Cordoba, Spain I present Limonada Cordoba.

    Limonada Cordoba

    • 7-10 lemons juiced (roll them before you attempt to juice them, it helps)
    • 1/2 cup Splenda granular (or sugar)
    • 5 sliced strawberries
    • 1 tsp almond extract
    • 3-5 cups of water (however strong or weak you like it)
    • ice

    Juice lemons and place in sealable drink container, add sweetener and stir until dissolved. Add sliced strawberries and mash with wooden spoon into the bottom of the lemon juice. Add almond extract. The mixture should be pinkish. Then add the desired amount of water, though try and keep it strong as you'll pour it over ice later. Serve with lemon slice over ice.

    02 February, 2010

    Eastern Block Cooking pt. 2

    I've been putting off these applications, I mean really putting them off. I'll do pretty much anything that doesn't involve writing an essay or statement of purpose for yet another law school. I've started making fresh juices, listening to new podcasts, and watching religious fanatics on YouTube all so I can avoid what I should be doing. I've found cooking is the best distraction; it presents itself as productive, which for my needs it clearly is not, and gives me an image of selflessness when I present the newly created food to my eager tasters, though I think they're on to me. Though not to worry dear friends, I promised myself that before I could write this blog entry I would have to finish my application essays to CEU, which I have completed as of yesterday. Thank you, thank you. All they need now is a quick proof read and some scanned documents and I'll have one more application down, making that 3 completed, 3 to go.
    On to the cooking! So I've been promising Alin that I would try my hand at Ardei Umpluti, Romanian stuffed peppers and a few nights ago I finally did. I scoured the internet looking for recipes (in English) that looked like something we would enjoy, and I, of course, had to 'vegetarianize' them. Here's what I came up with:

    Whitney's Ardei Umpluti

    4 bell peppers
    1/2 lb of Quorn mince (or equivelant in pork or TVP)
    1 tbsp oregano
    1/4 cup olive oil
    1 tbsp salt
    1 chopped tomato
    1 diced onion
    1 'handful' of rice
    1 egg
    1 tbsp flour
    1 pint of water or vegetable stock

    for tomato sauce
    1/3 cup olive oil
    1/3 cup flour
    2 cans of tomatoes
    1 tbsp oregano
    1 tbsp salt
    1/2 lime

    Cut off very top of bell peppers, wash, and seed; place peppers to the side.
    Sautee Quorn in olive oil with salt, spices, onion, and tomato until onion is translucent. You may need to add more olive oil if the mixture gets dry. If you're using pork sautee the other ingredients alone and mix pork with onion mixture raw. Take Quorn off of heat and let cool.
    Once Quorn mixture is cooled, in a bowl, mix in the egg, rice, and flour, to create a paste. If the mixture is not sticking together add water. Stuff each pepper with 1/4 of the mixture and place in a dutch oven or covered casserole dish. Pour the water or vegetable stock around the peppers and cover. Bake at 400F (200C) for an hour, until rice is cooked.

    For the Sauce
    In a blender puree the canned tomatoes until smooth. In a saucepan heat oil then add oregano and salt. In a separate small bowl whisk the remaining broth from the pepper with the flour, slowly add that to the oil mixutre, wisking to prevent lumps. Once fully incorporated add lime juice and the the tomato puree. Cook until thickened to your liking, you may add a bit of cornstarch if you like.

    Serve the peppers with yoghurt or sour cream on top and surround with sauce.

    They turned out pretty decent, a little bland for my liking, but still good. I think I would have made them spicey, but for the sake of authenticity I restrained. The sour cream and sauce really helped the flavours pop.
    Alin, while he still ate them, said they were indeed good, but not exactly
    like the ones he grew up with. Granted those are made with pork and bound to taste different. But I knew there was a risk at making Romanian food for a Romanian with no point of reference, but I gave it a shot.
    He was excited that these would make it into the foodblog and so we took an 'action shot' of him eating the peppers. Clearly staged, eating these is a much messier event.

    For dessert we had crepes with lemon and powdered sugar. I got the crepe recipe from a Romanian website, so I think it counts as eastern European.

    1 egg
    1 cup milk
    3/4 cup flour
    1 pinch salt
    1 tsp almond, lemon, or vanilla extract
    1 tsp sugar substitute (optional)

    for topping
    1 lemon
    powdered sugar

    Mix egg with half of flour, slowly add milk and rest of flour, whisking to prevent lumps, until the batter is thin. Add sugar substitute, salt, and extract. Heat flat non-stick pan to high, pan must be quite hot. Use a ladle to spread thin layer on bottom of the pan. Flip with spatula or using a chopstick.

    Fold each crepe into a triangle and top with butter (or margarine), a sprinkling of powdered sugar, and a squeeze of lemon juice.

    24 January, 2010

    Adventures in Eastern European Cooking pt.1

    Eastern Europe is really making a comeback, fashionably speaking. Perhaps it's just because I'm dating a Romanian and my new landlord is Polish, but I feel like the whole former Soviet Block is so 'in' right now, do you know what I mean? Perhaps it's due to my new found knowledge of Ceauşescu and appreciation for the rapper Ombladon that I feel immersed in this harshly accented and ever so sexy culture, but not wanting to be one to deny a fascination I've run with it.
    So on to the cooking! My first attempt was kind of a fluke; I was bored and went "Tastespotting" for the most difficult and time consuming recipe I could find without needing special baking equipment. Some people turn to the drink when upset or bored, I turn to the spatula. This excursion took me to a lovely Croatian Woman's Blog titled Chocolate Dust. Where I found a recipe for "Medena Pita" or Honey Cake; a cake made of honey flavored flat cookies layered with a nutty creme. It met my criteria, so off I went to baking. Of course I couldn't just follow a recipe, so I've varied it a little bit.

    Medena Pita
    The cookie dough:
    2 eggs
    100g sugar
    4tbsp oil
    4tbsp honey
    450g flour
    1 tsp baking soda
    1 tsp salt

    Mix flour, salt, and baking soda together. Mix eggs with sugar, add oil, honey with flour mix. Dough will be very soft. Trace bottom of casserole dish onto wax paper and cut 4 pieces to that size. Divide into 4 equal parts; roll each piece to fit the wax paper keeping the edges from breaking apart. Bake each layer in preheated oven at 350F just for a few minutes, until the edges get
    golden, but biscuit is still light in color. Cool them on a rack. Be very careful removing them from the pan as they will be very very soft until fully cooled. Once finished with the four cookie sheets place to the side.

    The Creme:
    600 ml milk
    150g powdered/confectioners sugar
    1/2 cup flour
    70g crushed pine nuts
    30g almond meal
    100g butter
    2 tsp almond extract

    Boil 400 ml milk and quickly remove from heat. Mix flour and 200 ml milk and carefully in a small bowl then pour it into the boiled milk stirring continuously. Return mixture to medium heat and cook until it thickens to consistency of béchamel sauce. Remove from heat and add pine nuts and almond meal. In a separate bowl mix butter, powered sugar, and vanilla together. When the milk and nut mixture has cooled mix in butter mixture and allow for it to chill in the refrigerator for 20 minutes.

    In a casserole dish place a cookie on the bottom, and layer 1/4 creme on top. Repeat with the rest of cookies adding the extra creme on the top of the cake. Cover and allow to chill in refrigerator. You can top it with marzipan, extra almond meal, or white chocolate.

    My cake is somewhat messy because I didn't do the casserole dish measuring part, which I have now added to the instructions and would definitely do next time. Alin ate all but one piece of the cake (which was gifted to Diane).

    "This is my favorite cake ever; it's not too sweet."-Alin