Saturday, March 20, 2010

Golly! Embarrassing!

Apparently running all over town has taken precedence over cooking these days. But my bananas are too ripe to wait any longer! Today must be the day.

Also, a note to Katherine, who has been fighting some sort of horrible disease (or a slight head cold, it's hard to say so far), this looks like it would help. It's not a challenge, of course, but it sounds nice.

Embarrassing moment of yesterday: While (sort of) waiting in line to get my passport renewed, I went to pick up a snack of blackberries and a samosa. On the way back I was confronted with this beauty. Of course, I ran into the kitchen store, stopped short, and hovered over it, like a witch over her cauldron. I had blackberry hands, you see, and couldn't touch anything no matter how heavenly it would undoubtedly be. Of course the woman behind the counter noticed, and asked if I needed help. And of course I reacted like a kid with his hand in the cookie jar, whirling around to see what I was up against. Unfortunately the blackberries were still in my hand, and I accidentally flung a few across the store.

I don't think I'll be buying fancy new pie dishes any time soon.

Sunday, March 7, 2010


Banana cake, eh? I don't have any bananas.

This means I get to shop for the oldest, brownest bananas in the store! I don't know why that's such an exciting prospect. Maybe because I can actually buy those piles of mush on the discount shelf?

I love the discount shelf, it has such a romantic vibe to it. I think it might be because I read this book when I was eleven:

It involves some abandoned kids who decide that if their grandmother's house is a three-day drive, it couldn't possibly take that much longer to WALK there! Right? I haven't bothered with updating my general idea of the plotline with any research, so I might be completely off here... but the POINT is that since they're kids, they have no money, and they survive by buying the cheapest things off of grocery store discount shelves.

So I always check those shelves to see what they've got, plan how much I'd need to just pick up and become a nomad or something. Of course, I have to admit (though I think this says more about the grocery stores than it does about me) that I've never bought anything from a discount shelf.

Besides, dumpster diving is way more economical. Not that I've ever done that either.

So moving on, I've got to find something for Katherine's squash. I'm just hungry enough to do this. After the lengthy task of squash identification, it turns out it's a buttercup squash. So there aren't quite as many recipes as there would be for, say, a butternut squash... I guess the question is do I want soup? Spring is springing, so I'm not in the mood for anything terribly hearty.

For some general squash tips, look HERE !

Now, I'm not sure if buttercup squash can substitute butternut squash, but this soup looks delicious. No, it sounds delicious; It looks like a bowl of yellow.

So, for Katherine, this is the soup I want! Only with buttercup squash. And any other modifications you want to make, since I know you love it. This seems pretty up your alley as far as soups go, so I hope you have fun with it!

Imagine a picture of a bowl of yellow here.


Saturday, March 6, 2010

Sophia's Baking Challenge and Other happenings

Sophia has spoken of her need to bake! I must meet this desire by offering her a challenge that will produce the most sensuous pleasureable and delectable sweetness that will satisfy her yet leave her imploring for more time spent beside a hot oven and in a steamy kitchen.

First, with baking in mind, my thoughts wondered to sweet breads. No, not of the you-don't-want-to-know meat variety but rather the simple, homey, friendly and sweet smell and taste of warm loaves of bread.

But we've already covered a lot of bread thus far...

Sophia is already rather skilled at baking cookies, scones and brownies might I add.

No. This challenge had to be different. New. Complex. And intriguing.

Chocolate was a must. Possibly coffee as well.

Since we drink enough coffee in this household as it is that we're all seriously going through addiction battles with caffeine, I ended up choosing this mediocre recipe turned on its head and sexied up with a little hard licor.

Ladies and Gents and my dearest Sophia, I present to you Chocolate and Grand Marnier Banana Cake.
(Courtesy of Baking Obsession)

As for my upcoming challenge, I ask that Sophia find a recipe that involves squash. Just days ago she called my attention to a long lost forgotten squash in the fruit bowl. I had purchased it to make a soup for her when she had a cold. No longer does she have a cold and no longer must this forlorn squash sit by itself.

By the way, in anticipation of Sophia's delightful chocolate challenge, I decided to make myself some hot chocolate... which transgressed to an impromptu chai tea. I had started by warming some milk in a pan over the stove. Once I had decided to make chai instead of hot chocolate I transferred the milk to a mug. I boiled water with a Yorkshire tea bag, (the strongest tea that I had in my cupboard) and proceeded to throw in odds and ends from our lazy susan spice cupboard. Cinnamon stick, cloves, a piece of lemongrass (that remained thanks to my red curry challenge!), a bay leaf, peppercorns, and a small bit of minced ginger though I'm sure throwing in a small chunk would have been better. Once, the water began to taste more like tea than water, I added sugar, which is key to chai. Lots of sugar and lots of milk. To top it off, I thought I'd add a hint of chili powder, nutmeg, cinnamon and a wee bit of coriander just for kicks. It's close but no cigar. Sufficient and delicious enough to satisfy my craving at least.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Success and Setbacks

Admittedly it's been a while and I must confess that I lost my knack for a while.
Thus the following section of this entry is dedicated to all of you people out there who have ever doubted your cooking abilities.

I ashamedly haven't cooked myself a decent meal in over two weeks. When I tried, I completely ruined one of our good pans before having even sauteed anything and then I proceeded to burn some rice. I also overcooked pasta and burnt the out of the jar sauce and garlic.

Here's a picture of the infamous pan.

However, I did manage to pull of moderate success with the Sophia's challenge with the red thai curry. After having had so many culinary setbacks during the week I turned to the only person I would turn to in the deepest of crises, my dearest and culinary saavy friend, Sarah.

After having savored Saison Dupont's Avec les bon veux and St. Feuillien Cuvee de Noel, and a Unibroue fin du monde with Sarah, I was more than happy to stand back and be her kitchen slave as she showed me the ropes.

(Courtesy of

(Courtesy of

Alas we had no camera to document so you have to trust my word that her red curry was beyond good. I particularly liked how she used eggplant, tamarind, and fish sauce. The baked tofu wasn't half bad either.

I tried to replicate her recipe here but after a long day and lots of acumulated hunger, I haphazardly made my way through the recipe. First of all, a wet tamarind block is a tricky little bastard.

According to, ought to be squished manually into a liquidy syrup with a bit of water. Sarah suggested boiling a chuck of the tamarind down in a bit of water and then conserving the liquid to add to the red curry once it's at the simmering stage. The first time I tried to boil down the tamarind the liquid was too watery to use and I accidentally overboiled it until no liquid had evaporated. The second time, the liquid still wasn't thick enough to adequately fit the description of both Sarah or the Kasma Loha-unchit of the thaifoodandtravel blog.

I decided to throw in a little bit of my own flair to the red curry, by adding zucchini. The rest of the vegetables included: my favorite, brocolli, bell peppers, eggplant, bamboo shoots, water chestnuts and baby corn (Sarah's favorite).

I suggest buying the broader bamboo shoots as the ones I purchased were as skinny and insignificant as potato sticks.


Sarah suggested marinating tofu for about a half hour before making the red curry. I failed to do so, but I also would suggest draining the water from the tofu or else it will end up crumbling and mushy as mine did. Sarah prefers to poach her chicken while I like to sear it in a lot of ginger and garlic and let it cook in the coconut milk. I also took Sarah's trustworthy advice and let the red curry simmer with stalks of lemongrass. I was frightened using fish sauce because I once used it in a stirfry and the stench was so strong that I could not bring myself to eat it. A few shakes of fish sauce after the coconut milk is added does the trick. Sophia brings up an important point about the curry that it has a nice flavor but it's a blanket flavor that lacks complexity and depth. Either way I find that red thai curry can always be improved with a bit of lime juice to top it off, another tip that Sarah and her family shared with me!

I will continue to investigate about red thai curry and as I still have ingredients I shall try once again! For one, I think I will amp up all the flavor, more lemongrass, more basil, better tamarind liquid, more thai red chilis.

The Fourth Grey Day

Today's weather makes me want to forget about work and classes and just knead bread dough all day. It would be a perfect day for making real shortbread!

Katherine, I don't have any rules for this weekend. But I want to bake. I don't care what it is, or how elaborate or simple (as long as we have the equipment!)

I'm going to have to stick in a little shout-out to, because I admit yesterday's entry cheered me up a bit. First of all, it has mayhem in the title, and really, who doesn't love mayhem!!?! And second, these potatoes are just so darn cheerful.


Tuesday, March 2, 2010

No, You Haven't Been Forgotten...

We're just waiting on word from a guest challenger either this week or next. I'm going to have to think up some rules for tomorrow just in case, though.

For tonight? Plain old chicken thighs on lemon slices. Which will give me plenty of left over chicken bits to put in nasi goering, a favourite, if not particularly involved, Indonesian rice dish.

I don't really crave the nasi itself, but rather the chili sauce that goes on top.

Yes! It's true! I've fallen in love! Meet my new life partner, Sambal Oelek! Knowing me, this can't be too surprising. Sambal and I have been together every step of the way:)