Saturday, February 27, 2010

Toast for Breakfast

For breakfast, I had rye toast with jam and coffee.

Yesterday, I made a loaf of sourdough rye from Beard on Bread. The starter had been fermenting merrily away all week in my kitchen, so although I wasn't really feeling like baking, I had to.

The texture turned out better than any bread I've made before, and the flavors were good, but it's not remotely sour. Maybe this all has something to do with my lackadaisical baking methods?

Jon doesn't think he can bake, nor do his parents. I am always enlisted to bake holiday cookies because they think they can't bake. Which is silly. I believe that if you can read, you can bake. Probably well. Now, if you tinker with the recipes before actually following them once all the way through, you'd be a bad baker like me...

I really can't help myself. I modified the Beard recipe by using white whole wheat flour instead of the all-purpose called for in addition to the rye flour. I also decided to add a little yeast to my starter on day 3, instead of adding yeast to the dough on baking day, along with a little honey to feed them. I hoped this would combat the boozy dough flavors I usually get by giving the yeast time to develop a little.

I don't know where I went wrong, flavor-wise. I've had incredibly sour rye bread before, so I know it's possible. And the texture was really nice- substantial, without being dry, with a great crunchy crust. But it's just not sour. I'll do a little research, and try it again.

But for breakfast, it was pretty tasty. I ate it with a little butter and some awesome Austrian rosehip jam we found at the ethnic market.

The coffee is Ethiopian Yirgacheffe from Northwest Coffee. I ran out of their house blend last week, and happened to pick this one. The Yirgacheffe is milder than their house blend, and I'm not quite used to it yet.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

More Penne at Home

For dinner, I had penne, with a side of pita bread, and some hot chocolate for dessert.

I am bored with pasta sauce, and wanted to try the aji amarillo paste we bought at the extremely well-stocked ethnic market last week. Aji amarillo is a pepper used liberally in Peruvian cooking. It is SPICY. I mixed it with a little olive oil and some parmesan, then added some whole-wheat penne.

It tasted like a spicy, slightly fruity version of mac n' cheese. Kind of weird, but I'd eat it again.

The pita was also from the market. Our favorite kind of pita comes encrusted with za'atar, a Middle Eastern spice blend that usually involves sesame seeds, sumac, and oregano, along with sundry other assorted spices. This was the last of ours. I'm contemplating making some from scratch, as we have some packaged za'atar left over from a trip to Phoenecia in Houston, and several recipes for pita and naan. Speaking of making bread, I've had this lovely starter sitting on my kitchen counter since Monday, fermenting. Yum...

Tomorrow will be my first-ever attempt at a sourdough-style bread. I love my sourdough super-sour, and no one seems to make it that way commercially anymore. Hence, my stinky kitchen enterprise.

But back to dinner. Why hot chocolate for dessert? I'm not even a hot chocolate person, really. But I found this blog entry yesterday, and was curious to see if it could replicate the amazing pudding-like hot chocolate we had in Eastern Europe a few years back. It's close. Tonight, I had to have more. The secret ingredient, brilliantly, is cornstarch. It's basically a watered-down pudding recipe, but it's delicious and way healthier than the "drinking chocolate" that's in vogue.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Lasagna at Home

For dinner, I had spinach lasagna, with a spinach salad and a glass of malbec.

The lasagna was from the frozen section at TJ's. They also make a grilled eggplant parm, which I like better; the lasagna noodles are limp and sad, and the filling is on the salty, grainy side. That said, they contain very few weird preservatives compared to most frozen food, and it's a passable dinner for when cooking seems like a pain.

The salad was eaten plain. I don't need dressing to like spinach, so I usually don't use any (Annie's Shiitake Vinaigrette being the occasional delicious exception...)

The best part about dinner? Using my creme brulee torch on the cheese! I didn't get the nicely browned bubbles I hoped for, but the slightly burned cheese did add the nutty flavors I wanted.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Pappardelle at Home

For dinner, I had lemon pepper pappardelle with arrabbiata sauce, a glass of malbec, and zoolbia for dessert.

The pappardelle and arrabbiata came from TJ's. Both were ok. I dislike pepper, but it added a nice burn, without being overwhelming. Sadly, the arrabbiata, which I actually like overwhelmingly spicy, was not.

The malbec was also, come to think of it, from TJ's. It was Funky Llama malbec, $3.99, and actually good for the price, unlike the myriad other cheap TJ's malbecs I've bought recently...It's still a little watery, but the flavors are substantial enough- dry cherry with a little violet and maybe licorice.

On to the best part of dinner- ZOOLBIA!

Zoolbia kind of mystify me. I know what's in them, I know how they're made, but I still don't understand. Imagine funnel cake, but not cakey- translucent, crispy on the outside, syrupy on the inside, and soaked in honey.

They're apparently made by frying flour-based dough, then soaking the cakes in a honey-rosewater glaze. But I don't understand how the texture happens. I appreciate interesting texture in food, so these are really exciting for me.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Peppers and Eggs at Home

For dinner, I had some red and yellow peppers, raw, and a Cadbury's orange creme egg. Okay, two creme eggs...

I had a late lunch of kasha and salmon, so I wasn't terribly hungry tonight. Moreover, our journey to the grocery store was not very successful. I've been craving lots of veggies lately, and Schnuck's had very few. I suppose it's in between seasons? I'm still craving roasted fall veggies like squash, beets, parsnips, and carrots, but their squash and cauliflower were really sad looking. The parsnips looked great, except for the creepy wax coating. I really don't like peeling my root veggies, so that was a dealbreaker. I didn't even see the beets. I ended up with some peppers, carrots, and onions.

Then I saw the Easter candy. I LIVE for Cadbury's creme eggs. The dilemma was choosing a flavor. So many good ones...

While perusing the Easter candy, Jon told me I should get some Peeps for the Washington Post's Peeptest (Peeptacular? Peep-o-rama?), but I know they no longer accept entries from outside the DC metro area, and I HATE Peeps. DC people, this is your reminder. Start Peeping. I will blog about it if you do...

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Funky Pizza at Home

For dinner, I had homemade pizza and beer from TJ's.

The pizza started as an adventure, and ended as an adventurous mistake. I didn't feel like opening a can of pasta sauce, or using the sketchy ("craz-ee"?) HFCS-laced tomato sauce can leftover from a Chef Boyardee Pizza Kit. Instead, I attempted a sweet-savory sauce by mixing dijon mustard with boysenberry preserves. I topped it with pesto chicken sausage from TJ's and some Kraft sprinkle cheese (I know, I know, naughty food blogger). The whole thing looked a little sparse, so I poked around in the refrigerator. I try not to keep cheese in there, because I love it way too much- I could live happily forever on a diet of cave-aged Gruyere, dark chocolate, and red wine. As you may have guessed, I used the Kraft cheese because we had none. Except. There, in a back corner, I found a plastic tub of blue cheese left over from this Superbowl weekend dip. I dumped the rest on my pizza. MISTAKE.

I hate blue cheese. Jon hates blue cheese. Tangy blue cheese + tangy dijon= FAIL. It was kind of overwhelming. On the good side, the dijon/boysenberry mixture would've been really nice without it. And my beer, TJ's Vienna-style lager, was pretty decent as well- we bought their 12/$12.99 mystery pack, and were not disappointed.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Chipolte in the Loop

For dinner, I had a burrito from Chipotle. And a blueberry scone.

I had remained blissfully burrito-free since last January. To summarize that post, Freebirds is not great, the best burritos in the world are in Colorado (at Big City Burrito- their logo is the best, too), I really hate most burritos, and I really, really hate Chipotle.

Unfortunately, Jon loves Chipotle. He stealthily snuck a "maybe we should go to Chipolte" into our heated discussion about who leaves the mail in which inappropriate place in the house while we were on our way to Panera. I was too distracted to notice where we were (their parking lots look identical, and they're about a block apart) until we'd parked. I decided to give Chipotle another try, rather than walk to Panera or try something else. I'm open-minded like that.

Never again.

First, the employees were incredibly stoned. I'd like to think that was the problem, anyway. The first guy assumed I was having chicken, and was thisclose to dumping chicken all over my burrito, before I said anything. Is it because I'm a girl? It was weird. The second dude somehow managed to scoop my pico without trouble, but became bogged down in Jon's request for corn salsa.

I got my usual burrito order- black beans, no rice, pico de gallo, and protein (carnitas or barbacoa- tonight, carnitas). With the first bite, my legion of reasons for hating Chipotle came back- the salt overload; the flaccid, moist carnitas; the lack of whole-wheat wrap option. There's also the weird stink, sort of like a wet, oniony dog, that always seems to plague their burritos.

Guess who has oniony wet dog breath? It's awesome.

The last bit of weirdness was the black pepper. My burrito tasted overwhelmingly of it. Jon concurred, although we couldn't figure out where it was coming from. Our best guess is that Stoner 1 and Stoner 2 accidentally added an extra half-cup or so of black pepper to the chafing dish of beans.

I had a blueberry scone at home to complete the meal. It was flavorful, with nice, crispy edges, and good texture. It was much better than the burrito. The sad part? It was a scone I bought yesterday morning, promptly forgot about, and just found this afternoon at the bottom of a bag full of crap.