Tuesday, August 23, 2011

I'm Back!

Unfortunately, a long--yet needed-- vacation in the Catskill Mountains kept me away from my blog, most technology and my cooking. I was able to stay at a resort with at least fifty of my family members (not much of a vacation). But! Everything was cooked for us: three meals a day and dessert after both lunch and dinner. Although not having to cook was enjoyable, most meals were focused around meat which was not so appealing to the Vegetarian. I found myself frequenting the not-so-local Subway and ordering the famous Veggie Delight quite often to compensate. It was not the most nutritional vacation, but I guess vacations aren't necessarily supposed to be healthy. But I am back! Back and ready to cook! Thanks to a flea market in one of the small towns in the Catskills I was able to pick up a few great cook books that were dirt cheap. I look forward to sharing some recipes and my thoughts with you.

A new post will be coming soon... :)

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Homemade Lemonade

Well I thought this was going to be easy. My mom brought me home seven lemons and told me since I was being so adventurous in the kitchen, my father would like some lemonade. I did not anticipate that seven lemons would take this much energy out of my being. First of all, my whimsical mother thought that a lime juicer could substitute for the lemon juicer. Wrong. I first had to slice the lemon into halves (if it were a lime, my work here would be done) but being that a lemon can be substantially larger than a lime, I then had to cut the halves into quarters. Ok no big deal right? Wrong. Again. I then had to place each lemon quarter into the miniature juicer and squeeze--individually. The act was amusing after the first lemon. Then I realized...It was only the first lemon. Six more to go.  I'd say it was after lemon 3 (24 lemon quarters in) that my biceps and wrist muscle started to give in. I took a breather, cursed my mother, and finished the task at hand.  This was my workout for the day.

The recipe that she had given me (which was on the back of our newly purchased LIME juicer---by the way the word juicer makes it sound like the stupid tool actually did something. False. I did something. I AM THE JUICER. For future reference I will refer to that thing as "the stupid tool") called for few ingredients and had three steps: 1. Boil 1 cup of water and add 1 cup of sugar until dissolved 2. JUICE 3. Mix all ingredients with three cups of cold water and chill if desired. As if anyone would actually want to drink room temperature lemonade.  Well anyway it didn't taste right. It was too lemony. I had to keep adding small quantities of cold water until it tasted normal. Both of my parents were content with the final product. I on the other hand, will never squeeze lemons again. I am perfectly happy with lemonade from concentrate.

(Very Late) Pizza!

I got this lovely meal idea from Stumbleupon.com. I swear this website knows me better than some of my best friends. Click a few of your interests and POW! Stumbleupon will take you to the most interesting of places.  This particular time, the website took me to a DIY pizza recipe. (Definitely choose cooking as one of your interests, even if you don't like to cook the pictures are out of this world--the website took me to a blogger's page that I now follow because of their Peach Blackberry Cobbler images. The photography displayed with a lot of the recipes is amazing in itself!)

The Personal Pizza recipe gave two options: Make your own dough or run to the nearest pizzeria and pick up pre-made dough. I obviously chose the latter seeing as though I am afraid of the word yeast. As I'm sure most females are. Anyway, I grabbed the dough from a place down the road. I must've looked a little disheveled, the young man behind the counter thought it was best if I bought two doughs "Just incase." Ok. Sold. At $2.50 a pop, two pizza doughs were in this college girl's budget. To the kitchen!

I thought it would be fun to include my boyfriend in this pizza extravaganza.  After all, I did have enough dough to make two full size pizzas and I'm really not about wasting. Go green!  So we started. I thought it was a good idea to split each large dough ball into two smaller balls--sorry--this way we could each have our own personalized pizzas.  So in half each went. This did complicate the "needing" and stretching. (I did have to Google what exactly the "needing process" was. I'm still not sure.) My circular dough was not coming out half bad, although I can't say the same for his my boyfriend's. He struggled a little bit. Being the competitive soul that he is, he took his dough into a different room- the living room. Where he could stretch out and not be judged by my critical self.

 I chose to make my own sauce and not use canned. Really, I just felt guilty for using store bought dough. So i cut up some plum tomatoes, added five cloves of garlic, and olive oil plus sugar to taste! (My Mom's delicious pasta sauce recipe.) I added extra sugar by accident but I really think it added to the sauce and helped cancel out the overload of garlic that I (accidentally) added--my mom later told me she used two to three cloves of garlic as opposed to the five that I threw in.

I wanted to get adventurous with my pie. After preheating the oven to 500 degrees, I chose to put the pasta sauce on only half of the dough. The other half was going to be margarita! My neighbor had just given us a basil plant and I was all about it. So on my margarita half I put the usual that one would find on a slice from the local pizzeria: sliced fresh mozzarella, basil leaves, and sliced tomato--simple but always a crowd pleaser! My other half (which had the sauce) would be zucchini extra cheese, STUFFED CRUST. I got this amazing idea from the Stumbleupon recipe, which gave a multitude of options for the pizza lover. For stuffed crust pizza all you have to do is roll mozzarella string cheese (or any kind for that matter) under a crust. So easy. I can't believe I didn't think of that myself, being the cheese-lover that I am.  After putting mine together, I took a look at his. A little deformed, but also cheese-a-licious. He stuck to a standard pie with cheese and sauce. Once we were done "decorating" we put our pies in the 500 degree oven and watched them for fifteen minutes.  This is what the recipe called for.  Me being the cautious cooker, I chose to leave them in for five extra minutes to become golden. They were so beautiful.  And so delicious. I don't know if it was the White Zinfandel or what, but I swear the stuffed crust extra cheese zucchini slice was the best thing I've ever tasted. He finished his whole pie so I'm assuming his didn't turn out half bad.

Being the fabulous sister and daughter that I am--I whipped up the other dough ball for my family. I did half zucchini and half regular, half stuffed crust half not. They killed this when they got home the next day, So pizza night was a giant success!

Monday, August 1, 2011

(Morning) Gâteau Therese-Chocolate Cake

I've currently been reading a book by David LeBovitz, "The Sweet Life in Paris." (Thanks to the Buy 2 Get 1 Free table at Barnes and Nobles.) David takes his love for cooking and heads to Europe, after a traumatic experience in the U.S. Throughout the book he tells of his travels and the food he encounters along the way.  He makes sure to include detail and recipes for the reader to ponder.

I was feeling brave this morning and decided it was time to attempt my first "real" dessert--I won't include the boxed brownies that I often created during high school boyfriend drama.  Anyway, this recipe called for a lot of work.  There was mention of a double boiler, which almost scared me away.  But like i said, I felt brave this morning.  The first step included parchment paper. I didn't have any idea what this paper of parchment was or why it was necessary.  But my mom said if it calls for it, you must answer.  So off to Shop Rite I went with my ceramic mug of hazelnut coffee.  I found the paper relatively easily- I still don't know what the difference between parchment and wax is, but whatever.  I greased up my 9 inch loaf pan and placed the paper neatly on the bottom.  Then the real work began...

I was supposed to combine 9 oz of chocolate and eight tablespoons of butter over a double boiler.  Seeing as though me and fire don't get along very often, I chose the microwave (I'm hoping this doesn't alter the consistency of the cake too much.)  After the buttery-chocolate mixture seemed smooth I added  sugar (half of 1/3 c), four egg yolks, and two tablespoons of flour.  Then I took a nice little stretch.  I couldn't find the electric mixer that my mother owns, so it was just me, the bowl, and an outdated whisk. Things got serious, and chocolate was spilled, but we all made it out alive.

Surprisingly, the harder step was whisking the four puny egg whites that were left over from earlier.  With salt and sugar (and my whisk) the whites were supposed to become foamy and froth-like. This took quite a bit of time and whisking.  After sweating through one t-shirt, my egg friends finally decided to cooperate and froth.  They then joined their egg yolk brothers in the giant chocolate mixing bowl.  After the mixture was complete, I dumped it into the buttered loaf pan.  The cake has just finished baking after 35 minutes.  It smells good, but I'm skeptical of the texture.