Thursday, January 28, 2010

I can stuff things!

I am absolutely amazed at how easy it is to make a stuffed pepper.

I don't know exactly why, but for some reason I always thought of stuffed foods as very difficult. Granted, this is probably because I don't like the idea of cleaning out the insides of things so that there's room to stuff things in, but Mike did that part for me so I didn't have to worry about it. I found the recipe on Recipezaar, which, I swear, is the only recipe website anyone ever needs. I generally stick to recipes that have been rated highly by a lot of people--those ones were almost guaranteed to be good--but in this case, I decided to trust my instincts when looking over the ingredients of a new recipe that hadn't been rated yet. I'm glad I did.

The first step in this was to fry rice. I don't usually fry rice, I am happy with my rice being white, but in this case it was fried with onions which probably changed the flavor a bit (of course, I wouldn't know, because everything ended up in the same pepper in the end.)

Half cup of rice and two small yellow onions in the frying pan. (I wish I'd had my onion goggles with me; these things BURNED.) This was eventually added to a mixture of a half pound of ground beef and altogether too much seasoning. (Well, the recipe called for too much. I like lots of seasoning, and I had to cut the amounts in half in order to not explode--two tablespoons of chili powder would have been a leetle much for my tastes.) It called for a tablespoon (well, two tablespoons) of black pepper, and I know that it's pretty much impossible to measure from a pepper grinder, so I used a mortar and pestle to grind it up by hand, which was really fun and would probably be a good way to work off steam after a stressful day.

This was thrown in with all the other spices, and I think I got pretty accurate in going for a tablespoon. There was also a can of diced tomatoes involved.

That's everything together--isn't it pretty? I was so worried at this point about it being overspiced--it had five (really large) cloves of garlic, which of course wouldn't be a problem, but that was in addition to a tablespoon of chili powder, a tablespoon of paprika, and two tablespoons each of oregano and basil (and the pepper, of course). This whole mess went into the peppers, layered with cheese:

The peppers were HUGE. At first I thought we wouldn't have enough stuffing, but once I started stuffing them I thought I'd have too much--instead, it worked out perfectly and filled them all without overflowing. They got covered up and went into the oven for a while.

And that's when they came out!

I think this was the least cheesy of all of them; the one I had as leftovers the next day had a visible line of cheese in the middle. They were absolutely delicious, and surprisingly healthy--each pepper is under 400 calories, pretty filling, and well-rounded enough to be a complete meal. I expected them to be heavy, in the way that some foods hit your stomach and feel like you just ate a block of cheese or something, but this was nice and light. It was still plenty to fill both of us up, though, and I know I'd have an awfully hard time eating two of them.

I think my favorite thing about this recipe is that it's pretty much based in one of my essential food groups--peppers, tomatoes and onions. This is my vegetable trifecta that I revert to whenever I have no idea what to make, and you can give it any sort of flair you want with seasonings. Nothing doesn't go well with this group.

The recipe can be found here, and I highly recommend making some yourself, but use your discretion when it comes to the spices--mine came out great with about half the amount, and they were still bordering on overseasoned. I'll definitely be toying with this recipe (and other things I can stuff) in the future--it's really easy, and even though it's not a quick recipe, the time that you actually spend working on it is pretty minimal for such a great meal.

Monday, January 25, 2010

"Weekend" Reads--Cake Blogs!

I made some delicious food this weekend. And I have pictures. They will be posted as soon as I have time, I promise, but the semester started today and I suddenly realize that my half-semester online class is going to make the courseload pretty intense and I'm not going to have a lot of time for resizing pictures and writing lengthy blog posts about how awesome/weird/traumatizing my latest food experience was. I'll still cook, of course, but the posts might take some time to get up.


Weekend reads. I like this idea, and I think I'll stick to it, but I'm a day late--so this "weekend" I'll share with you the reason I'm a day late. I was so busy reading some other awesome food-related blogs that I forgot about my own.

So, for those of you who don't already read it (which is probably all of you, since I know all of you), I give you: Cake Wrecks. This is a blog that is popular enough to have a book out, and to have gone on book tours, and have followers all over the place. It is, as the title suggests, pretty much a lot of pictures of really awful cakes (the subtitle is "When Professional Cakes go Horribly Wrong"). The author is witty, geeky and makes a lot of bad puns, which I can appreciate, though I've never mastered the art myself. The cakes featured had me laughing so hard I couldn't breathe at times. I somehow read through 45 pages of blog (not 45 posts, mind you, 45 pages) in a day--and that's after sleeping until noon, making pretzels, drinking tea, and the many other random things I did. On Sundays, she features pretty cakes, which would be quite nice to look at after a week of horror.

Some examples:

I like plaid a lot, but this was a wedding cake. If I got to my wedding reception and had to look at this...I'd be in tears.

There are a lot of...grammar...and spelling...and punctuation...errors. Yes, errors. In the world of cake decorating. Cake Wrecks finds them and shares them with us, so we can be miserable knowing that somehow people still don't know how to use a comma. (The most common, though, is quotation marks. It's not that hard, people.)

Some, of course, are just plain gross. Like this. Those are a dead person's feet. Note the toe tag for identification. EW. But the pretty ones...

Isn't that gorgeous? I would love to have that cake. Not entirely sure I could ever eat it, but it's adorable.

And that one has to be my favorite. It's a Mario-themed wedding cake. I like it because it actually manages to stick to the idea of 'wedding cake' while having the Mario theme--it's a pretty color with a nice little pattern, and it's got the "flower" design diagonally up the side.

On a related note, I also found this website dedicated entirely to awful wedding cakes. I haven't had time to peruse their archive yet, but after looking at a few, I feel like before I get married I'll be sitting down with the bakery discussing, in detail, EXACTLY what I want. And asking for sketches. I just can't imagine getting married with an awful cake--the food's the important part, right?

So, anyway, go read Cake Wrecks. All the photos in this post came from somewhere in her archives. I promise you'll be entertained.

Friday, January 22, 2010

I would eat bacon for every meal if I could.

Everyone eats bacon for breakfast. Bacon and eggs, bacon and pancakes, etc. It's normal. And bacon for lunch is pretty acceptable too--who doesn't love a BLT? The most important part of a BLT, of course, is that there's a lot of bacon. Appetizers involving bacon are pretty standard; people eat bacon-wrapped scallops at fancy parties, or bacon dips at non-fancy parties. And bacon is pretty normal in dinner, too. Lots of meatloafs have bacon wrapped around them. You can make bacon-wrapped chicken. You can crumble bacon and put it on a potato or a salad. My friend Dave once wrapped a piece of bacon around a slice of orange, just to prove a point. (He didn't prove it very well; apparently it was sorta gross.)

"Good old Cheery. She knew what a Vimes BLT was all about. It was about having to lift up quite a lot of crispy bacon before you found the miserable skulking vegetables. You might never notice them at all." --Terry Pratchett, THUD!

The problem, of course, is dessert. If we can have bacon everywhere else, why not in dessert? And I'm apparently not the only one who thinks so. So when I woke up one November morning to an email from Mike titled "!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" and found that the body of the text was simply a link to a recipe for Bacon-Maple Cupcakes, well. I immediately texted him to let him know we'd be making them that night.

I almost gave up hope when, after calling three normal grocery stores and a natural foods store that usually has anything other grocery stores don't, not a single one had maple extract. Finally, I remembered a gourmet/natural food store about half an hour away, right down the street from the bakery at which Mike and I had our first date (it's a wonderful little bakery), and the trip seemed worth it. I called them to ask if they had it and got the owner of the store (I love places like that) who told me that they had two different types. I was excited. We got to revisit what we think of as "our bakery" and have some sandwiches, then walk down the street a little and get some maple extract.

They didn't have maple extract. They had natural maple flavoring. I'm not entirely sure what the difference is, but I was disappointed, as I like to use real extracts whenever possible. However, the fact that it said 'natural' and not 'imitation' made me feel a little better, so I bought it, and we proceeded to the normal grocery store where we could get the rest of the necessary ingredients, particularly bacon.

Now, I love bacon. I'm sure you've figured this out by now. But somehow, I've always been terrible at cooking it. I put it in the pan, flip it over at some point, and when it looks perfect I take it out and put it on a paper towel, but the ridiculously hot grease continues to cook it for just a little bit longer and it always ends up burnt. However, during our bacon-maple-cupcake adventure, I seem to have figured it out perfectly:

Mike enjoys snapping really unflattering pictures of me when I'm cooking, but I'm cooking, so I think it's acceptable. (It occurs to me that the only other picture of me in here involves this shirt too. I promise I have more shirts. I just like Yoshi a lot.)

Anyway, the bacon came out perfectly, so I was excited about the rest of it. It made sense to cook the bacon first, see, so it could cool down and would be nice and crispy to break apart and put on the cupcakes. I got out my trusty KitchenAid (I'm not sure I could bake without one, seriously) and made the batter. I put the little paper things in the cupcake pan. I filled each one 2/3 full. And then I was a major. spastic. klutz. Somehow, between the counter and the oven, gravity disapproved of my desire for bacon cupcakes.

Fail. Complete and utter fail. This took forever to clean up, and I was worried about the fate of the rest of the batter--specifically, whether it would be enough to make a decent amount of cupcakes, since I'd spilled 12 cupcakes worth of batter and the recipe only said it made 18. Luckily for me, the recipe lied horribly--after spilling 12 cupcakes, I still ended up with 19.

The ganache was fun. I'd never made ganache before--most of my baking experience lies in pies, so I don't know much about frostings. But if you need to frost something, and relatively hard chocolate frosting is okay, I recommend a ganache because pretty much all you do is melt chocolate into some cream. The recipe says to let it chill overnight. Don't do this. We let it chill for an hour or two and it was way too hard to spread. We ended up having to microwave it to keep it smooth and not tear apart the cupcakes.

They looked pretty. And they tasted good.

It was really fun to see the looks of shock on people's faces when I handed them a cupcake with bacon on the top. My mom was away the weekend I made these, and when she got home I was leaving my class on my way to Mike's house, and I got a text message saying "why is there bacon on the cupcakes?" which I think was a pretty valid question. My answer, of course, was that bacon is awesome.

The cupcake itself tasted like a delicious breakfast all piled into one cupcake. It was sort of like chocolate-chip pancakes with maple syrup and bacon on the side, but in dessert form, and the bacon isn't on the side. One of the reviews says the flavors didn't go well together, but they clearly never ate chocolate chip pancakes with maple syrup and bacon on the side. If they had, they'd know that it was a wonderful combination. My only real complaint was that the cupcake itself was really dense and had a more muffin-like texture. I assume this is due to the use of cake flour instead of normal all-purpose flour. Next time I make them I'll probably find a different actual cupcake recipe and replace the vanilla extract with maple flavoring so they're lighter, and once I do that I'll post the full recipe here instead of just a link to where I found it.

Now I'm looking for more bacon-related desserts, and finding all sorts of wonderful things. I saw something about candied bacon somewhere, I believe it was in a magazine telling you what to make for breakfast on valentine's day, and I just might listen to them and make it.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Weekend Reads: Pratchett's Witches

If you don't know me, I'm a creative writing major with a passion for literature, so if you're reading this frequently, you'll likely be getting weekly reading updates (essentially, what I'm reading and why you should read it too). This is the first of these.

I'm currently enrolled in an intensive half-semester online literature class, which means about 150 pages of heavy reading per week, plus a paper and discussion board postings. It's a lot of fun. I love it. The online thing is sort of confusing (I've never taken an online class before) but I'm getting used to it. However, the huge amount of heavy reading required means that my "for fun" needs to be something light and easy--otherwise I'd end up talking like the characters in old novels and the people who have to spend a lot of time with me would probably kill me.

I like an element of fantasy in my books (yes, I'm a huge nerd). My favorite authors are Neil Gaiman, Roger Zelazny and Terry Pratchett. For those of you who aren't familiar with Pratchett's work, it's always humorous and entertaining, with a little bit of social commentary buried beneath the funny. They're light reads, but they do make one think, at least a little. I love his books about the Ankh-Morpork City Watch, but for the past...week and a half or so, I've been reading his books about the Lancre Witches, and they're great.

These books aren't really about magic; they're about the characters, all of whom are beautifully crafted and resonate with something deep inside us that tells us how old women are supposed to act. Granny Weatherwax is a crotchety old woman who helps people reluctantly, usually by telling them she's helped them in a way that makes them believe it to the extent that their problem goes away. Nanny Ogg is a boisterous, fat, usually drunk old woman with a cat that torments every other creature in the village, though she's convinced he's a real sweetie. And Magrat Garlick, whose parents didn't know how to spell Margaret, is a younger woman who thinks being a witch should be about doing magic instead of knowing when not to do magic; the others consider her a "wet hen."

There are also three "young adult novels" that are just as relevant and entertaining as the others, about a headstrong young girl named Tiffany Aching who is learning to become a witch and dealing with being almost thirteen at the same time.

As fun as Pratchett's books are, they aren't numbered despite the fact that there's a definite order to them. So if you intend to read any of them, check out the Discworld Reading Order Guide first.

One of the stories I read for my class this week, Xingu by Edith Wharton, is a great quick read. It tells the story of a group of women who meet to talk about art, literature, and culture in general, and how their desire to look cultured and knowledgeable eventually makes them all look like idiots. I strongly recommend reading it--I guarantee you know someone like these women. The full text is available on Project Gutenberg, and if you click the underlined "Xingu" up at the top of this paragraph, it'll take you right there.

Lastly, I would like to publicly congratulate Neil Gaiman and one of my favorite musicians, Amanda Palmer, on their engagement. I know they'll never see this, but I love knowing that two people who make such great art are getting married. I hope the best for them--and I hope at least some of their wedding photos end up online.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Peanut Butter and Chocolate Chip Banana Cookies--with recipe!

I know, earlier this week, I said something about banana bread. I was fully intending to make banana bread. The bananas were getting old, and it seemed like an awesome idea at the time. (I should mention that I usually hate bananas. I'll never eat a banana. But I think they're delicious baked in things, so I let them get old and bake them into things.)

However, sometime between then and now, I was given a recipe for banana COOKIES and I couldn't resist making them. I'm very glad that I didn't. They are absolutely amazing.

These cookies include bananas, chocolate chips, AND peanut butter chips. I had to go buy banana extract (the store only had imitation, boo) and when it came time to add the butter, I realized I didn't have any and had to walk to to convenient store down the street. Well worth it. So, here--have a recipe. Go make some cookies.

RECIPE: Peanut Butter and Chocolate Chip Banana Cookies
makes about 36 medium-sized cookies
-2 and 2/3 cups flour
-1 tsp baking soda
-1/4 tsp salt (optional; I always leave the salt out of baked goods if possible)
-2 sticks butter (salted or unsalted)
-1 cup brown sugar
-1/2 cup granulated sugar
-3 large (or 5 medium) overripe bananas
-1 tsp banana extract
-1 large egg (should be at room temperature)
-1 (12 oz) bag semi-sweet chocolate chips
-1 (10 oz) bag peanut butter chips

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
2. Mix together the flour, baking soda, and salt if you're using it. Set aside.
3. Cream together the butter and both sugars.
4. Add the bananas, banana extract and egg. Mix well.
5. Add the flour mixture and chips. Mix until the chips are well-integrated into the dough.
6. Realize you forgot to preheat the oven, and figure it's probably better this way, since it'll heat in the amount of time it takes you to scoop out the cookie dough. Turn the oven on to 325 degrees.
7. Scoop out the cookie dough, leaving a decent amount of room on the side of each ball (the actual amount of room depends on how big you're making the cookies).
8. Bake for 18-22 minutes (and pay attention while they're baking so you can take them out earlier if they look done; they come out sort of crispy if you've only got one sheet in there. //Edit: they're not actually that crispy. They end up with a slightly harder outer layer but remain soft and chewy on the inside. These cookies may just be the most perfect cookies ever.)

Step 4

Step 7

Step 9 (eat)

Update, 17 June 2010: This recipe won a banana-dessert-recipe contest over at Haute Whimsy--you should check it out!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Mashing Purple

So, I made a new discovery in the grocery store this week. I didn't actually make it, in fact I'd known it was there the whole time, but my boyfriend (I guess he deserves a name, doesn't he?) Mike found, for the first time, purple potatoes. Now I'd had purple potato chips, so while I'd seen them before I'd never really thought twice about it, especially because I had no idea what I'd do with a purple potato once I acquired it.

We bought them, and decided to make mashed potatoes. It was way more exciting than I expected. I later learned that the purple variety of potato has more nutrients in it than the regular kind, so maybe this is just how I'll do it from now on!

They were so small! This was by far the tiniest (and therefore most adorable). I quartered the rest of the before boiling them, but this one I just put a bunch of fork-holes in so it'd cook properly. When they were cut, the color was beautiful:

And they were all speckled inside! This was where it started getting really exciting. The potatoes were really purple, and I was really cooking them. They, however, lost a lot of their color in the boiling process:

Still definitely purple, but a much more subdued tone. It all got very pretty again when they were mashed, though.

They're kind of lavender now. I suppose I should be calling them "smashed potatoes" as we kept the skins on. Now, I usually cheat at this step and pull out my KitchenAid and its whisk attachment and make whipped potatoes, but Mike insists on mashing them the old fashioned way and allowing a few chunks to stick around. (Tangent: I really hate the word "chunk." It just sounds so awful, and I especially don't want it describing my food. I rarely buy cans of tuna because of this, despite the fact that tuna salad is the only non-sushi seafood I can abide. However, it makes more sense here to say 'chunks' than 'unmashed bits of solid potato' so I will have to deal.)

Mike's method turned out great; the potatoes were just as smooth as I'm used to. They also looked delicious with the rest of the food. The picture came out blurry, unfortunately, because the flash was making them look almost white and I don't have a tripod for my camera. And the point was the purpleness, so I wasn't going to allow them to look white in the pictures. Mike said he could taste the purple--that is, that they TASTED purple, which I understand because I believe very strongly that beets taste red (he thinks blood oranges taste red)--but I thought they tasted like pretty normal mashed potatoes, perhaps just a little richer. (Served with green beans pan-fried with freshly minced garlic, lots of olive oil, and balsamic vinaigrette; cajun marinaded steak. The flavors worked much better together than I expected them to.)

RECIPE: Purple Mashed Potatoes
-2 lbs purple potatoes
-Whatever else you usually put in mashed potatoes (I used some dried parsley, garlic powder, butter and cream.)

1. Make mashed potatoes exactly the way you usually do, except with purple potatoes.
2. See the looks of awe on everyone's faces as you present them with purple mashed potatoes. Ask them if they can taste the purple. Regardless, they'll think it's cool.

Now I really want to make purple gnocchi.

Featured Recipe: American Chop Suey brought to a new level

American Chop Suey conjures visions of...well, I don't think I ever had it outside a school cafeteria until recently, so it was never something to get excited about. At most, it was a decently satisfying, non-disgusting meal you could get with the two-fifty your parents gave you in the morning (or however much lunch cost back then). I never expected that it would become something I could look forward to, even crave...until now.

A while back, my mom brought home a big container of American Chop Suey from a bakery down the street (I call it a bakery, but really it is just a Delicious Food Place, as they have all sorts of things you can buy and eat). A month or so later, she went back there, hoping for more of their delicious chop suey, but they didn't have any that day. She instead returned with a pound of ground beef from the butcher and told me of her craving. I began searching for recipes that were more than ground beef, macaroni and tomato sauce, and was eventually brought to my favorite recipe site, Recipezaar. I went through the recipes, attempting to assess how tasty they would be by looking through the ingredients. Finally, I came across a recipe for the ages: Denise's American Chop Suey.

It's delicious. It's absolutely amazing. It takes some effort (lots of vegetable-chopping), but it yields well to experimentation (I have added both cinnamon and balsamic vinegar and it came out perfectly both times [I haven't added them together yet, mind you]). It is especially delicious with some well-buttered rye toast on the side and plenty of parmesan or romano cheese.

Seriously, go make this. You won't regret it. And you'll be SO full afterwards.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

tweet tweet!

I've changed my public twitter account, which I never used, to an account for my blog! You can follow my twitter updates @edanacooks if you'd like. It will include basic musings (especially those related to food), mention new blog posts, and probably involve a lot of foreshadowing. (If I'm gonna do this, I might as well do it all the way.)

Coming this week: banana bread, food-related video games, some cupcakes I didn't remember I'd taken pictures of, and the start of Weekly Reads (which may end up being Weekend Reads)! Stay tuned!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Pasta Adventure, with original Garlic Bread recipe

So! Yesterday's pasta making was quite the adventure. I've never used a machine before and had no idea how it would come out, but I absolutely *love* it and will pretty much never go back to rolling it by hand. It's so easy this way!

I make my dough with half semolina flour and half all-purpose flour (2 cups each), and four eggs. It all goes in a bowl together:

Technically, you're supposed to make a pile out of the flour and a little well for the eggs, but I'm clumsy and know I would manage to knock over an edge of the well and spill eggs everywhere, so I use a bowl. You may notice the egg carton in this picture is symmetrical. I do that. In fact, if someone else doesn't do that, I fix it. I always thought I was strange until my boyfriend mentioned that he does the same thing (though of course, he's pretty strange, so we might both just be weirdos).

Mixing the eggs in is fun--you stir them with a fork until they're broken up, and then start slowly bringing in flour from the sides until it gets tough enough that you need to knead it with your hands. (I always need to add small amounts of water so the flour will all stick, otherwise it's too dry and doesn't work. I could probably do with a fifth egg, but this way works just fine and I can play with it to just the right consistency.) By the end, it looks kind of like scrambled eggs:

Or something. That gets pushed together until it's all stuck in a ball, then you break off pieces, roll them out a little bit with the rolling pin (otherwise it won't go through the pasta machine; I tried). Then the exciting machine-related part happens! I was so nervous for this. It's probably unreasonable to be nervous about using a pasta machine, especially when it's not even a machine because there's nothing mechanic about it, but it was new and therefore scary.

But there was nothing to be scared of! It's a little tedious at first--you have to put it through on the widest setting a number of times, folding it in half each time so that it eventually becomes rectangular instead of having ragged edges, but I expected the actual turning of the handle to take more effort than it did. Once I got all the dough through (with the knob on 5, it seemed an appropriate thickness) it was time to make noodles out of it! This was probably the most exciting part. I was nervous about this too, because the instructions for the machine say that if your dough is too moist it won't cut, and mine was sort of moist, but it came out beautifully:

I loved how it made a curtain of spaghetti. (That's the thinner, round setting; the other one wasn't cooperating for pictures. I felt like I was dealing with a six-year-old, but in pasta form.) Everything piled together looked pretty awesome:

That is, it looked awesome until I realized that it had to dry for a while, and we had to sit down and separate all the slightly-sticky noodles. It was, however, well worth it.

Delicious! My (half-Italian) boyfriend makes homemade sauce with meatballs, which is pictured here, but not documented because he made it about a week ago and froze it. I find that sauce sort of works like soup, where it's almost better for having been cooked a while ago. He does the whole cooking-for-five-hours thing; perhaps some day he'll teach me and let me document it or share the recipe here (though it's an old family recipe; I wouldn't be surprised if he were protective of it). The pasta came out to about two pounds--twice as much as we needed for the sauce, and I hope my mom figures out something to do with the rest because I disappeared for the weekend and don't know how to store fresh pasta yet.

The garlic bread pictured is my own invention; I needed something to soak up the sauce remains on the plate once we'd eaten our pasta and it worked great. I only had a vague idea of what I was doing when I made it, but it came out so well that I'm posting the recipe here for all to see and steal. (Seriously, steal it. It was delicious.)

-1 loaf Italian bread (bought at the grocery store works just fine, but you can make it if you're ambitious. I'm not.)
-1/2 stick butter
-Lots of fresh, finely-minced garlic--I used about 8 cloves, but they were tiny, so maybe about 4 or 5 normal sized ones (though I'd probably use more next time, just because I love garlic so much).
-About 1 tsp italian seasoning
-About 1 tsp garlic powder
-A dash of salt
-1/4 cup parmesan or romano cheese, finely grated (optional)
-1/4-1/2 cup olive oil

1: Slice the loaf of bread in half lengthwise so you have two big flat pieces of bread.
2: Mince the garlic.
3: In a small pan on low heat, melt the butter with the garlic, italian seasoning, garlic powder and salt. Allow to bubble for a little while so the garlic flavor infuses into the butter, but not for so long that anything burns (probably around 8 minutes, I wasn't timing myself).
4: Using a kitchen brush, brush the liquid in the butter mixture over the fleshy (not crusty) parts of the bread until they are mostly covered. Then, using a spoon, spread the garlic that you didn't pick up with the brush over the bread as evenly as you can. If you're using the cheese, sprinkle it over the bread now.
5: Pour a small amount of olive oil into a bowl. Using the same brush, cover the buttery garlicky (and possibly cheesy) bread with olive oil. The goal here is to saturate the top layer of the bread so that it's nice and mushy when it's done.
6: Put the two halves of the loaf together again. Using the brush, get whatever you didn't get out of the pan earlier and brush it on top of the loaf. (This mostly just makes it look pretty--shiny--but it also gets some flavor into the outside of the loaf. I didn't brush the bottom, but it would probably be delicious if I had.)
7: Wrap the loaf in foil and allow to sit for a few hours. Flip it over every half hour or so; this way, any moisture that is seeping through the bread will seep through in both directions.
8: Heat the oven to 350 degrees and bake (in the foil) for 15 minutes. Remove from tinfoil, place on cutting board, slice and enjoy!

Step 4

All in all, my pasta-adventure was quite successful. We all had a wonderful meal and were afraid to move for a while afterward because we'd eaten so much.

Friday, January 8, 2010

New Blog, New Gadgets!

Hello, readers! Welcome to YUM FOOD--a blog about food! I'm new to blogging (well, new to trying to be good at blogging) and thought that since I get really excited about food and always want to tell people about it, it would be the perfect thing to put me in the world of blogging.

So, to go with the new blog, I thought I'd share with you some new gadgets that my dad and his girlfriend got for me for Christmas. (I think I realized I'm actually an adult when my dad and I started shopping for each other at the same store; I bought him kitchen-related items as well.)

The first thing I opened is hilarious and yet incredibly useful:

They don't fit my face perfectly, but they actually do keep my eyes from hurting! I don't know why, but onions have always hurt my eyes so much when I'm cooking that I make whoever else is in the house cut them for me, and now I don't need to. My boyfriend managed to sneak a terribly unflattering picture while I was wearing them last night, preparing a stir-fry:

I think I was actually chopping mushrooms at this point and had forgotten to take them off. Anyway, despite looking amazingly dorky, they are wonderful things. My brother noticed when I got them that whoever decided people needed onion goggles also realized that people who needed onion goggles were also likely to want to know why onions make your eyes burn, so there's a little scientific explanation inside the package!

The next gift I pulled out of my stocking was a little less hilarious and a lot more practical. Have you ever HATED how recipes call for a tablespoon of ginger (or some other spice) and you have to carefully pour ginger into a big round spoon that will never fit into the container? Well, hate no more! These spoon-measures are the perfect logical solution:

RECTANGLES! What a novel idea. And the ends have little points, so you can get into corners of jars and scrape out whatever's stuck there! They all stack neatly together and take up almost no space:

I absolutely love them. The smallest one is 1/8 tsp, so you can be really accurate! And look how wonderfully they fit into a perfectly normal-sized spice jar:

Once it's in the jar, spinning it around seems the best way to fill it. They helped a lot with all the pies I had to make for my mom's family's party...and with pretty much everything I've cooked since I got them. Aren't they gorgeous? (I'd also like to point out that that is a TABLESPOON measure fitting perfectly into the spice jar. TABLESPOON. Impressive.)

Now the last one is the Big Deal, and I haven't used it yet but intend to tonight:

Pasta machine! I think he realized it would be an awesome present when I had to borrow his to make ravioli for my boyfriend's parents. (The handle was missing, so I ended up having to roll it all out with a rolling pin anyway, but now I have my own!)

When I use it tonight, I'll have to find a different table. This one is too thin for it to clamp onto.

I can't decide which noodle size to make--perhaps I'll make both tonight and try to decide which one I like better for the future.

Thanks for reading, and check back later for photographic evidence of my pasta-making adventure!