Saturday, July 30, 2011

buttermilk biscuits

Last night I realized that my leftover roast chicken and root vegetables (I'll share that recipe another day, it still needs some tweaking) would make an excellent chicken gravy over biscuits.

Then I realized that I didn't know how to make biscuits (and had no interest in making a trip to the store for the frozen pre-made variety). So I did a little research, figuring I probably had all of the necessary ingredients at home. First I looked in my Better Homes and Gardens Cook Book, but that recipe required cream of tartar and shortening... no.

Friday, July 29, 2011


Certainly not my prettiest loaf, but it's left the house smelling lovely.
I generally make a batch of bread dough (enough for about 2 loaves) every week, baking one loaf right away and keeping the extra dough in the fridge for a day or two. It's a job for a day off (you need to be around for a few hours), but homemade bread is absolutely delicious and not at all hard to make.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Spicy Cottage Fries

I shop pretty carefully, aside from a few pantry staples (flour, sugar, dried legumes, etc.) I generally only buy the amount of food I actually plan to eat during the following week. This is good because it means that food doesn't generally get wasted, but it also means that I'm almost entirely out of food on grocery/errand day.

Today was one of those days. I wanted something quick and filling for lunch before going out to run errands, and ended up throwing together these cottage fries out of leftover odds and ends. I'd hardly call it a proper recipe - it really was just thrown together- but thought I'd share it anyway.

Spicy Cottage Fries

Cooking oil of choice (I used some bacon grease that was in my large frying pan)
2 potatoes, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 jalapeƱo, chopped
1/4 t cumin
salt and pepper to taste

basically, throw everything in a pan and cook it over medium heat until the potatoes are done. You could also steam the potatoes a bit by turning the heat down low and covering it for a while.
I ate mine with ketchup. It was quite good. There would also be toast with jam, but my bread dough is still rising.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Linguine with Pea Pesto

A friend is visiting from out of town, so I've been fairly busy this week. A lot has been happening in the kitchen though. Though our approaches to cooking are different (she's precise where I'm slapdash), she's managed to show me how to go about making a cheesecake. Perhaps one will show up on this site sometime in the future :)
Anyway, I've been cooking for 2 lately (which has been something of a new experience) and last night I finally got around to making that pea pesto I've been wanting to try out. It's bright green and very cheerful-looking. Sorry, no pictures. A couple of other projects were going on at the same time and the kitchen was really busy. I had about a foot of counter space to work with, and was sharing the range with two other people.
If I made this again, I think I'd add more garlic. And slice up a tomato to go on the side. Otherwise, it's really good:

Linguine with Pea Pesto
adapted from Smitten Kitchen

1 pkg frozen peas
1 clove garlic, minced
2 T toasted sunflower seeds
1/2 c grated parmesan cheese
1/4 t salt, plus more for pasta water
1/3 c olive oil
12 oz dried linguine

Defrost the peas and boil them for about 2 minutes. Drain and let cool to lukewarm. Reserve 1/2 cup of the peas, and put the rest in a food processor with the garlic, sunflower seeds, oil, salt, and 1/3 c of the cheese. Run the food processor until the ingredients form a smooth paste (if you don't have a food processor, you can put the ingredients in a mixing bowl and mash them with a potato masher. If you don't have a potato masher, the bottom of a glass bottle or jar works fairly well. Just be sure to wash it first).

Cook the linguine in heavily salted water until it's done ("al dente!" for some reason that phrase makes me laugh). Reserve 2 c of the pasta water, drain the pasta, and put it back in the pot over moderate heat. Toss the pasta with the pesto, adding in pasta water to smooth out the pesto and distribute it evenly over the pasta. Garnish with the rest of the cheese.

toasting nuts- you can do this in the oven, but that method's really only practical if you're needing to toast a LOT of nuts at once (or have another project going on that needs your full attention). Instead of using the oven, just put the nuts in a frying pan over medium-high heat and stir them until they're a nice golden-brown. It's so much easier and doesn't heat up the house as much.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Homemade Mac and Cheese with Caramelized Onions

I first made this dish a couple of years ago for a party at my brother's house. The theme was "comfort food" and I was still very new to cooking. I looked through my Better Homes and Gardens Cook Book for something that would taste good and be fairly easy to make.

That's when I stumbled across a recipe for macaroni and cheese with caramelized onions. It involves bacon. And onions fried in bacon grease. And cheese. Lots and lots of cheese. It sounded so good, I had to try it. It was a hit at the party, and with almost every other person I've made it for.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Chocolate Cake with cayenne and cinnamon

Today I found that the last of my milk had gone a bit off. Not enough to be worrying, still good for cooking or adding to my morning coffee, but not something you'd want to drink straight or put on your cereal. I decided to use it up by making a chocolate cake (my recipe calls for buttermilk anyway).  I also used some of the leftover coffee that was still in the pot from this morning.

Then I realized that I didn't have any brown sugar, so I poured in a tablespoon of molasses (so the flavor wouldn't use any depth). I also had some spelt flour left over from the rosemary olive oil cake last week, so I substituted some regular flour for that. I also added a bit of cayenne pepper and cinnamon, to give the cake a bit of kick.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Eggy bread?

Last night I decided what would happen if I put some bread dough in a pan, pour in a couple of beaten eggs, some vanilla, sugar, and a little cinnamon, and then bake it for a while. The result? A loaf of bread that tastes a bit like french toast. It tasted okay, but I'm not sure I'd make it again.

If I did make it again:
I'd have a higher egg to bread dough ratio
add more sugar
cook it longer at a lower temperature (so it'd be softer).
Maybe throw some butter in too.

It's a success because it sated my curiosity, and I learned something. It's also a failure, because I'm not particularly excited about having to eat this.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Vegetarian Split-Pea Soup

Split-pea soup is another one of those foods I was never very fond of. The delicate flavor of the peas was always overpowered by the seemingly-requisite ham bone (and occasionally, a few chunks of meat as well). Still, I somehow ended up with a jar of dried split peas in my cupboard. This is odd, because I have no recollection of buying the aforementioned peas (Other than a few pantry staples, I generally only buy what's necessary for foods I plan to cook during the following week).

Along with the peas, I also happened to have this cookbook by Diane Phillips checked out from the library (I've actually gotten it a few times. The book has some good recipes). That it had a recipe for a vegetarian split-pea soup that included lentils (remember how I'm trying to be comfortable cooking things with and without meat?), and everything just seemed to come together from there.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Rosemary Olive Oil Cake

Once in a while I decide to try a recipe simply because I have no idea what it will taste like. That's what happened this week. I was looking through recipes on Heidi Swanson's blog trying to find interesting vegetarian recipes (since about half my family are vegetarians, it's important for me to be comfortable cooking without meat), when this recipe caught my eye. A cake that combined chocolate, olive oil, and rosemary. I'd never encountered those flavors together, and felt instantly curious. The next grocery day, I loaded up on the necessary ingredients (a box of unsweetened bakers chocolate, spelt flour, and fresh rosemary).

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