Saturday, August 28, 2010

Hot and cold

Exhibit A: my first loaf of bread.
I've been eyeing this bread method for a while - Artisan Bread in 5 minutes a Day. Since I don't have the book, I found the master recipe on the Ivory Hut. In general, the masterminds of the process are very generous with their ideas and post a lot of recipes on their blog. Anyways, the stupid stove would not get hot enough. Include the fact that I don't have an oven thermometer and good faith that my bread would some how bake, and you get this little beauty. It actually wasn't bad, but I had hoped for a thicker crust. The oven was so lukewarm that I still had water left in the broiling pan afterwards.

I baked this on parchment paper onto of my brand new Lodge cast iron baking pan. I didn't like how the bottom didn't crust at all - the rest of the bread crusted a bit despite the low temperatures.

Exhibit B: Solid as a rock
In my second attempt, I used an oven a suite over. I made this loaf a big large in hopes to eat it with friends the next day. I read on one of the recipes that the larger loafs take longer to bake, so I think I left it in the oven for 45 minutes. Ah geez. I could barely cut it with the knife I had.
Luckily, it was still very edible, just difficult to take apart. The 5 minute method leaves you with a very wet dough, so even if the outside is super-duper crusty, the inside is all yum.

Additionally, for this loaf, I used corn meal on the bottom to prevent sticking onto my "pizza peel" and pan. I highly recommend it. And, to my surprise, it wasn't messy at all.

Exhibit C: small packages
Seeing that my last two bread endeavors were minor failures, I felt that I needed to try something a little different. I came across this recipe on the website, and I knew I had to try it. And man, it was so easy. The only thing I would have done differently is roll out the dough more so I could have more layers of cinnamon and brown sugar when I turned it into a roll.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Summer of the kitchen appliances

BEHOLD, THE MIGHTY SLOW COOKER. Prooooobably my favorite kitchen appliance. Commonly associated with stodgy housewifery, the slow cooker is one of the most under-appreciated kitchen appliance. Which I don't understand because using it makes cooking SO EASY, especially if you're dealing with meat. You just throw all your things in there, set the temp to either low or high (not very complicated), and turn on the timer for however long it needs to cook. Peace out, come back a work-day later, and TADA. Dinner.

So my slow cooker arrived a day earlier than I thought it would, which meant that I didn't have time to make the inaugural use super fancy or anything. This is a really easy bbq chicken that has a lot of pre-made things going into it, but it was super yum. A good alternative to pulled pork if you prefer leaner meats.

the building blocks:
3 frozen chicken breasts (6 halved chicken breasts probably would cook faster, but I didn't have that option)
1/2 cup of italian dressing
3/4 cup of bbq sauce
1/4 cup of ketchup
1/4 cup of dark brown sugar
2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp chili powder
3 sliced serrano peppers

Instruction manual

Place the chicken breasts into the slow cooker
Mix the rest of the ingredients together and pour them over the chicken
set the temp to high, or low. If you set it to low, the meat should be a lot more tender.
Cook for 3 1/2 hours if set to high, or about 7 hours if on low.
When the cooking time is over, take out the chicken breasts and shred them with 2 forks. Pour the sauce over the chicken and mix. Serve on bread or as a pizza topping IDK GO CRAZY.

I'm trying my hand at bread baking tomorrow - wish me luck!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

lunch lately


I've been making this if I don't have anything planned for lunch:
bacon, onions, tomatoes and spinach. Sometimes I eat it with pasta and cheese. It's good stuff, you guys.

Monday, August 23, 2010


This was honestly the biggest, most delicious cookie I HAVE EVER EATEN. drooool. I mean, Levain Bakery beat Bobby Flay in a throwdown so they MUST be hot shit. Get the chocolate walnut cookie. It's some serious yum.

Padrón peppers

I forgot to take a picture until I had eaten almost all of them. I am crazy about padrón peppers. This type of pepper is originally from Spain and is sort of hard to find here. They only have them in late summer.

You take the peppers, cook them briefly in a pan with tiny bit of olive oil. You sprinkle course salt on them and eat them whole. Most of them aren't spicy, some are a little spicy, rarely are they extremely spicy. But when they are.... I drank 4 glasses of milk after that.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

homemade toaster strudel? YES

When I saw homemade "poptarts" on Panini Happy I was like "I MUST HAVE THIS IN MY TUMMY NAO". She was adapting the recipe from other blogs that used a pie crust, but she decided to use puff pastry - which made me realize that it was much more of that mystical toaster strudel.

So I will tell you a satisfying tale of sunday brunch in 5 parts.

1. Thaw the frozen puff pastry sheet and cut into 12 parts (or however many you'd like).

2. Add the filling of your choice. I used nutella and blackberry preserves. Leave room to seal along the edges.

3. Place the sealed pastries into a panini grill (HELLO GEORGE FOREMAN) for around 7 minutes at a medium high heat.

4. Take them out of the grill when they are a golden brown. Let them cool for a bit. You might burn yourself on the jam.



Thursday, August 19, 2010


last night I made an indian feast of (left to right) palak paneer, chicken biryani and garlic/cilantro naan. even I impressed myself.

Monday, August 16, 2010


This is what dinner basically every day at home looks like.
Thanks, Grandma.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

free time's not all wasted on the internet. i've been pretty crafty lately, which makes up for the fact that i have about ten books checked out from the library and i have yet to finish (or start...?) any of them. or it at least partially makes up for the fact.

i've been getting back into jewelry making, initially because i needed birthday gifts for some friends.
i made these for a friend but liked them so much i made another pair for myself.
i like the look of feather earrings but i don't like the price. i guess i just have a hard time paying twenty, thirty, even seventy (?!) dollars for something that weighs like, negative three ounces. luckily for me my local bead store sells feathers! i sort of made up how to connect them to the hook with these little doo-hickeys i found at the bead store (i think their original purpose is to attach cord to a clasp? who knows.) but it seems to have worked relatively securely, and looks somewhat professional no less. you can't really see in the picture though.
if it were 2005 this would be my myspace "default"
i made this coral-themed set for another friend's birthday. when i gave her the present she said, "nicole, you could make a living making jewelry... holders!" i guess she thought these were cooler than the actual present itself:
haha. i'm guilty of backhanded compliments too. better than no compliment at all, right?

ps. you may notice my somewhat excessive usage of seed beeds. they're so cheap! 99¢ a strand.

Friday, August 6, 2010


i got a bunch of four GIGANTIC beets at the farmer's market and subsequently made a beet-themed dinner. well really i just made beet ravioli and beet chips.
for the beet chips you don't really need a recipe. just peel and really thinly slice the beets (a mandolin is best), lay on a baking sheet and brush with olive oil. then sprinkle with salt and pepper—be sparing though, mine were too seasoned. bake at 325º for 25-35 minutes, depending on the size.

beet ravioli filled with ricoota & goat cheeses and mint

for the beet ravioli, i used this recipe except i didn't really follow the recipe for the beet pasta dough. i didn't cook the beet (yes only one—they were that huge!) long enough so it was still chunky when i tried to puree it. i knew this would create problematic holes in the pasta dough so i only mixed in a little bit, hence why it is light pink instead of dark pink. i also mixed some into the filling for flavor and color. not gonna lie, the mint was a really delicious addition.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

"dan tat"

look what i did everybody

"dan tat" or chinese egg tart/custard is my favorite thing. my grandma had been telling me how hard they were to make and how i wouldn't be able to do it, which is why i ended up making them. if you want the super flaky crust you have to use lard and that freaks me out, so i just used extra butter and it still tasted good. i also used skim (!) milk instead of whole because that's all we had. then i baked them in cupcake tins. here's the recipe i used. it's very great to make two dozen of your favorite thing especially because when we went to dim sum we didn't have to order any dan tat because i just came home and ate a bunch. 

Sunday, August 1, 2010

i'm up in the woods

liv and friends here. we're having fun being adults up in the mountains. tonight we cooked bruschetta (easy favorite), string beans with shallots, avocado salad, rosemary lemon chicken, the man made himself a steak, and baked potatoes. strawberries with nutella for dessert. wine from Italy and California throughout the night. NOM.

this dinner was super simple, and tasty. who knew it could be so easy.