Tuesday, November 30, 2010

My Spinach Puffs!

For those of you who were not obsessed with the movie as a child, this is my ode to Kronk from the Emperor's New Groove. Along with being an assistant to the evil Yzma, he is a talented chef eager to show off his skills by preparing a diner for her and the emperor. During a crucial moment, Kronk realizes that his spinach puffs may be burning but saves them just in time. At the end of the movie it is revealed that Yzma never really liked his spinach puffs. Bitch. I did though, and I had a great time making these Emperor's New Groove inspired pastries. I'm really proud of the way they turned out and they tasted so great. They would be perfect for breakfast or brunch but being the weirdo that I am, I made them for dinner. It's really just a simply pastry dough (no yeast or rising involved) and then some cooked spinach and delicious feta cheese on the inside.

As a side note: I don't think that my dad would like these. I made him endure so many viewings of this movie that I think for a while he banned it. He does like Kronk though.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Pizza Dough

I have a very long tradition of buying my pizza dough from whole foods and while I love the fact that it only has about 5 ingredients (and they are all ingredients I recognize!) it makes me realize that I should be making my own. I also  have quite the tradition of avoiding yeast but I finally just bought myself a jar as a way of enticing myself to use it up. As it turns out, baking with yeast is one of the most satisfying experiences out there. You get the satisfaction of turning a tiny ball of unappealing dough into a giant inflated ball of awesome. And did I mention the punching? That was the most exciting part for me when I get to beat the dough back down.

I see recipes calling for frozen pizza dough all of the time for items that aren't pizza like pretzels of strombolis so I think that this really basic recipe can turn out to be very versatile. And this dough is very basic, for the adventurers out there, adding some herbs could be fun or maybe adding cheese or garlic flavored oil. Either way, I think it's a good thing to have in your repertoire, even if it just means one less trip to whole foods.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Baked Eggs

I love eggs. I don't know if I need to go on but they really are great for every meal of the day. I think that through my many posts just on this blog about my undying love of eggs I have convinced the world of their value. I am automatically drawn to most recipes that have eggs as the centerpiece, especially those that involve them baked in a tomato sauce like this one. Add feta cheese and I'm sold. And while I'm serving up some tasty eggs I might as well throw in some peas and some garlic bread to scoop up the rest of the tomato sauce.

I really don't have that much to say. It's simple. It has eggs. I love it.

Friday, November 19, 2010


I think I mentioned before that I got a cast iron skillet mostly to make the dish you're about to see here. But more than just making the dish, I really enjoy saying the word frittata. My poor dad during the entire car ride home from the thrift store had to endure me saying over and over again that I was going to make a frittata in my terrible Italian accent. Frittata! But just like my Ambiguous Asian Rolls, this required a bit of research googling. I have never made a frittata before but I have made a quiche quite a few times because I think they are delicious and I love eggs. So what is the difference between a frittata and a quiche? My initial assumption was that the difference was in the crust seeing as a quiche generally has a pie crust and a frittata lacks this but like all google searches I ended up more confused afterward than when I began. I became more confused because I began to see recipes for crustless quiche and judging by my initial rule, that would be a frittata. It seems that a quiche is more like a baked custard (think less eggs, more cream) and a frittata is more like an omelet. There are always so many layers of mystery in these early established taxonomies of food and so many people online convinced that they know making the mystery even more difficult to unravel.

What I like about both egg dishes though is their versatility. I didn't go out to buy anything for my frittata, instead I just looked through the vegetables I had and threw them in.So feel free to use this versatility to your own advantage and use everything you have around the house and turn leftovers into a hearty breakfast.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

French Onion Soup-- Vegetarian Style

 I've been feeling a bit like buying frozen pizzas or eating pretty simple sandwiches lately. While I am writing this I am perfectly content to just grab a handful of grapes from the fridge-- yes my computer is by my fridge and it's weird but it's a long story-- and not cook a big meal at all throughout the day. Maybe school is finally getting to me but it's sad because this is my favorite time of year. It's the time where I can make cookies and give them to people without feeling a bit awkward about it and, best of all, hearty soups are finally an acceptable meal. So I'm not going to make anything tonight, but I will share this excellent soup I made about a week ago.

 Since I have become vegetarian I miss very few things about the meat eating world but one thing that always makes me regret my decision is going to La Baguette in Colorado Springs and watching those around me enjoy a bowl of French Onion Soup. The cheese on these bowls looks like it must take days to soak off and it consistently smells welcoming and delicious. Alas! Full of beef broth! Recently though on a day when apparently many vegetarians decided to give up on cooking, I found a great cookbook in the thrift store. Lo and behold it had a decent looking French Onion soup recipe in it using vegetable stock. As my christening of this new cookbook I made this soup first. I have quite low expectations for recreations of traditionally meaty dishes but I fell in love with this one right away. I must admit though, I think that what I really love is the croutons soaked in onion broth and covered with melted cheese. That was without a doubt the best part.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Pumpkin Time!

So my ultimate goal for the past couple of months has been to make a pumpkin pie from scratch by Thanksgiving. There is something inside of me that is no longer satisfied with a store bought frozen pie crust and a can of pumpkin puree. I did look at a can of Pumpkin puree recently and the only ingredient was pumpkin (or calabaza) so that inspired confidence in me but I still wanted to try it myself. Also I have been very attracted to very labor intensive processes lately so this is the one for me. I bought myself a pumpkin and carried it home-- adding to the labor of course. It as just a run of the mill pumpkin, not a special pie pumpkin or anything.I'm sure that everyone has been flooded with recipes for pumpkin and pumpkin seeds already so hey, what's one more?

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Ambiguous Asian Rolls

I do have a quick question before I start? What is the difference between egg rolls and spring rolls? I had always assumed that the difference could be found in the contents of the roll-- generally egg rolls have meat based fillings and spring rolls are, like the spring, full of vegetables. Judging by the google search vast research I have done on the topic that the answer actually lies in the wrapper itself. Egg rolls have a thicker, egg-based wrapper and spring rolls employ a translucent rice-based wrapper. I have also heard that an egg roll is fried and a spring roll isn't but then there is also the issue of the summer roll which hasn't been mentioned at all. The debate may never be solved so for the meantime I will be making ambiguous Asian rolls with a package of wrappers labeled as egg rolls but filled with springtime vegetables. I will stop this discussion now before heads (namely mine) begin to explode.

I do not own a deep fryer for the same reason I choose to not get an ice cream machine; the results could only be tighter pants and frequent sickness. I do still love Asian rolls though and especially for the fact that they use my favorite pre-packaged cole slaw mix. I believe that I have never actually bought a head of cabbage which is kind of sad. Another perk of making these rolls? I get to use that new bottle of liquid amino that I bought. I love it because it really just transfers perfectly for the amount of soy sauce one would ordinarily use in a recipe. These ones are also baked because I don't have a deep fryer but don't let that stop anyone from frying away.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Lentil Tacos

I have been neglecting a bag of lentils that I bought way back in the day when I had the high hopes of making some great dal. While I generally prefer making my own food at home in the case of dal I felt like I was better served by the fine folks at the various Indian restaurants I attend. Perhaps one day I will work up the cojones to make my own but now that I know this recipe for lentils I doubt dal will get that much attention. Really, to tell everyone how obsessed I am I will tell you that I am eating one from my leftovers right now (yes I eat at my computer and no I'm not proud of it). I am still loving every bite of the leftovers even though I don't have the fancy chipotle sour cream or my go to topping of choice coleslaw with some lime and cilantro. It's still excellent.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Date Pinwheel Cookies

As a child I was exposed to many fruits that many other children around me never experienced until they looked into my lunchbox-- most notably pomegranates and dates. The pomegranates (which are in stores right now. Yes!) in particular were a big hit during our traditional elementary school lunch time potlucks. The food I could get for my pomegranate seeds from my naive friends who didn't have adventurous fruits like my own household. Back to my history with dates though: my dad was very fond of his bread machine even though it never fully worked and something was always going wrong. His favorite was a date bread that I also loved. I was also very partial to the dates that one could find in many cereals. One of the best date applications throughout my entire childhood though were these excellent date cookies my mom made every once in a blue moon. They are a relatively difficult process for babies like me but they end up being attractive and delicious. I bought a rolling pin from Goodwill especially for these cookies but now that I have it I'm excited for the possibilities a rolling pin represents.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Portobello Pineapple Sandwiches

By all food conventions that I have learned in my brief career as a home cook, this combination of pineapples and portobello mushrooms shouldn't work. However, according to my roots, any sandwich with sauteed portobello mushrooms have been excellent. I now have another delicious way to utilize the magnificent portobello. I was telling a coworker that I was vegetarian and proceeded to go on about my obsession with mushrooms so she told me about this great sandwich she makes that I would love. She said it was on ciabatta bread too which is my favorite bread. Alas! no recipe! so I went to searching for my own version of her magnificent sandwich and I found something similar on the whole foods website. so sign me up.

In addition to the pineapples and mushrooms marinaded in some lovely Asian juice I added some plain coleslaw mix which has replaced normal vegetables and salad for me. It's admittedly one of my stranger tastes. A quick food and economics related sidenote: In I think it was the 1960's an economist (the name escapes me now of course) came up with the most cost efficient diet that fulfills all nutritional requirements and it included only five components: wheat flour, dried navy beans, spinach, evaporated milk, and cabbage. So the way I see it is that my cole slaw mix is getting my cost efficient, nutrient rich food in the mix.