Recent rotation

In our effort to cut back some, we’re turning to less experimentation in cooking. Not sure how long this will last, but it does mean that we’ve developed a few standbys that make it into the rotation rather regularly.

I’m yet another one who’s fallen victim to the deliciousness of Ottolenghi’s Black Pepper Tofu. Especially with steamed broccoli.

Another fast favorite is Moroccan Merguez Ragout with Poached Eggs.

There’s always red beans and rice. Well, almost always.

More as I remember.

Dessert Bar

So, this whole wedding thing has me pondering crazy levels of DIY. When thinking desserts and favorite childhood memories, my grandma’s 7 layer cookies came to mind.

What I’m thinking of is something like a combination of 7 layer bars and a Smith Island multi-layer cake. Cakes could be thin, and layers could be repeated in various iterations, perhaps (i.e. a chocolate ganache and a chocolate cake layer). Decadent? Hell yeah.

1. A layer of brown butter cake.
2. Coconut icing.
3. A layer of walnuts.
4. A layer of graham cracker cake.
5. A layer of peanut butter frosting.
6. A layer of chocolate.
7. Topped with dulce de leche.

sources:
graham cracker cake: http://articles.baltimoresun.com/2011-06-06/news/bs-fo-recipe-finder-0608-20110603_1_simple-one-bowl-cake-graham-cracker-cake-recipe-finder
brown butter cake: http://www.honeyandjam.com/2011/03/browned-butter-cake-with-cinnamon.html

Compost bars

A friend at work asked me to bring something in for a going away party last Friday, be it gummy worms or candy cigarettes. Instead, I thought to make compost cookies. My plan was to make the dough on Wednesday, let it chill, and bake it on Thursday. Thursday came and I hadn’t made the dough, so.. it turned into an experimental compost bar, based on brownie bars.

I used Smitten Kitchen’s blondie recipe, and threw in crushed Whoopers, Ruffles potato chips, and pretzels. And a few Rice Crispies. Turned out yummily! Much easier than the cookies, too. Definitely doing this again!

Happy New Year

Sipping a damn fine martini, made by my personal mixologist, I’m tempted to reflect on some recent meals.

Today’s chowda was an adventure, but so incredibly satisfying. I brought home clams, having read a recipe on the King Arthur Flour site, but when I got home, the recipe no longer inspired me. Instead, CHOW’s Chow-der stepped up. It required a few other ingredients, and Chris hopped to it, with the promise of some New England-style chowder on the other side.. Many hours later, delectable it was. Satisfying on this drizzly January day.

In other news, it’s really January?

Also made some oatmeal-wheat bread, using this incredibly easy recipe: Oat-Wheat Loaf. It required kneading, but it’s easy enough for to be made regularly.

Gimme

I want this: http://www.dessertsforbreakfast.com/2010/08/gimme-smore-cakelettes.html

That is all.

Tonight’s dinner: Grilled Beef Salad

Okay. This one is one to repeat. We made Yam Neua because it sounded so interesting. Holy yum.

Chris grilled up the peppered steak. I sliced and diced the cucumbers, shallots, mint and cilantro. Combine, and toss with the sauce. The flavors were incredibly intense. Spicy and rich. Perfectly tender steak that provided some respite from the spicy cucumbers. It was weird that the mint and cucumbers were so much spicier than the beef. Delicious.

Crab, like I never had crab before

So, the heat kind of sapped my strength and I didn’t want to fire up the stovetop. Chris and I, without any argument whatsoever, settled upon Conrad’s. I had softshelled crab on the brain, and wanted to get one last fling in before the season ended. There were slab crabs there, incredible in size. I’ve never seen such huge softies. They made the “hotel” crabs look meek in comparison.

But.. I got distracted by the menu. I’ve heard about deep fried hard crab, and thought I’d have to hunt down a spot on the Eastern shore to try it. To my surprise, like the clue in a poorly written sci-fi novel, it had been under my nose the entire time. Hello, deep fried hard crab!

It’s a hard crab, top shell removed, stuffed with crabcake, dipped in a cornmeal-based batter, and then, as you might glean from the name, deep fried. It was like having seafood hushpuppies, a crab cake, and hard crab in one ridiculous package.

The crab itself wasn’t my favorite. I think steamed brings out a much better flavor. And it was entirely too much for me to eat. I also got sides, which made it ridiculously overwhelming, considering it had built-in sides. It was worth it, though, because the coleslaw was some of my favorite ever.

Oh, and I discovered that Conrad’s is running a Foursquare promotion. 5 check-ins and you get $5 dollars off orders over $35.

Korean queries

So, when I went to H-Mart, I picked up a few things on impulse. I was looking through the pantry today, and decided that it’s time to figure out what I can do with them, or if I need to go back for more ingredients first.

The first thing that caught my eye was fermented soy bean flour. The back of the bag indicates that I could make soy¬† bean paste, provided I have 40 days to wait. I’m guessing that this is similar to miso? I could also make hot bean paste, if I got back for malt flour and wheat flour. My favorite part of the recipe is the note at the end: “For soup use (Chigae), you’d better add more soy bean flour.”

I’m tempted to try to make some doenjang jjigae. Bean paste vegetable stew. We’ll see.

I also got some hot red pepper paste. It lead me to a korean fried chicken recipe. Intriguing. I seem to remember that it can be used in making kimchi, too, but I could be way off base.

I also got some pickle vegetable hot pot seasoning… that one seems easy enough to follow.

I think I need to go to the store with more of an idea what I want to make.. Maybe next time. Or does anyone know a good English-language source for Korean recipes?

Smoked tea cocktail

I’d been on the search for Russian Caravan tea ever since reading about a cocktail that incorporates it with elderflower liquor and bourbon. It sounded so interesting!

Apparently Russian caravan tea has run out of favor, somewhat. I’ve learned that a once-widely distributed commercial variety has been discontinued, or dropped by retailers. I finally found a lapsang souchang, which has the black smoked tea qualities of a Russian caravan¬† tea. The black tea is smoked in bamboo smokers over pine wood. Really intense stuff.

The smokiness was amazing when we first opened it. It smelled like an island scotch. It had a wonderful dense, peat-smoke aroma. Chris immediately wanted to try it brewed, which is amazing, considering it’s hot out and he actually requested hot tea. I set about brewing some immediately. Delicious with milk and honey.

Alas, the cocktail failed to impress. The smokey flavor was delicious and strong, and worked well with the bourbon, but, as Chris put it, it needs a bitter element. All told, I’m not upset as this adventure has led us to smoked tea. It’s really phenomenal how it retains its pungency!

Samosa chat

This is one of our favorites, but we finally did it well.

If you’re not familiar with samosa chat, it’s a street food sort of thing. Delicious layered meal that’s served in one dish. I’m not an expert on this (yet), but I think some of the standard components are samosa & chana masala. This time we deep-fried the samosas since we had the deepfryer out already. Oh, what a difference! I also used Smitten Kitchen’s recipe for chana masala which was incredibly easy and delicious. One of the most successful attempts we’ve had making chana masala.

Atop our fried samosas (cut in half), we layered some chana masala, cilantro, sev and a number of chutneys and sauces. I know it could’ve used more, but this was made from ingredients we already had on hand.

We definitely will do some work to perfect our samosa chats… a real favorite here.