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.