I was wrong about you, Zap

Chorizo and shrimp pilaf

From the microwave.  No kidding!

From the microwave. No kidding!

(adapted recipe after the jump…blah, blah, blah.)

Ok, if I’m not mistaken, every issue of Everyday Food had a “Zap It” recipe.  It’s a microwave cooking recipe.  I do believe that D and I only made one or two.  Huge mistake.  These recipes are so easy, so quick, and so clever.  I think I always figured that nothing good could come from the microwave or maybe I thought that it would be watery or weirdly rubbery.  I’ve had very, very limited success cooking eggs in the microwave without them exploding all over.  Perhaps I was picturing myself cleaning up exploded chorizo bits.  That is a nightmare scenario.  You’ve got to give me that.  Whatever I was thinking, I was wrong.

So let’s get into this tasty treat.  Rice and other stuff cooked in the microwave.  Very straightforward.  It’s so tasty.  I love shrimp and this was just right.

I do have to talk about the chorizo for just a bit.  The recipe calls for hard chorizo.  I shop at a grocery store with way more Mexican food than the average grocery store.  The meat is labeled in English and Spanish.  There’s a whole wall of dried peppers I’ve never seen before.  They didn’t have hard chorizo.  So you know I wasn’t going to try another place, if this one didn’t have it.  Maybe hard chorizo is more of a Spanish thing.  What they did have was something like five different kinds of the normal, soft chorizo.  The house-made chorizo at this place is nothing to play with.  I love spicy food and that stuff is too much for me.  I thought this recipe would do well with a nice, mild spice.  Plus, I had some fantasy that I would let the baby eat it (D and I wolfed it down).  So I went with a brand that said it was without spice at all.  They were lying.  It was less spicy.  As for cooking it, the recipe says to slice it on a diagonal.  Well, you don’t really do that with the soft stuff.  I just plopped it out of the casing in even sized dollops and was careful not to break it up too much when I stirred it in.  It wound up breaking up during the cooking process and spreading all through the pilaf.  That’s why my pilaf is orange and the one in the magazine is white.  Aside from aesthetics, it doesn’t matter.  The microwaved chorizo was a touch gritty, but it wasn’t anything I couldn’t ignore for the sake of an otherwise delicious recipe.

One side story:  When I asked the guys at the meat counter for hard chorizo, they said they didn’t have it and pointed out the other stuff.  I actually asked them these idiotic words, “What’s the difference?”  The one guy just kinda chuckled and said, “I dunno.  The hard stuff is like…hard.”  Point taken.

Continue reading

Advertisements

(over)spiced pork chop with couscous

Spiced pork chop with couscous

easy there, hard charger...

easy there, hard charger…

Another meal in the magazine without a recipe online.  You’ll see an abridged version after the jump.  Gee…I wonder why B and G saved these ones for last?  🙂

The most important thing to say is that the spice mixture is nice, but a little much.  It calls for 1 t paprika and 1/2 t cinnamon…on one pork chop.  That’s way too much paprika and cinnamon for one human to eat on pork.  I very much enjoyed it for about 1/2 of the chop before I got tired of it.  I think you can get away with spicing two or more chops with as much as it calls for for one chop. That’s how I rewrote the recipe.  Also, if you’re someone who hates cinnamon on savory foods, cut way back or cut it out.  Somehow, the cinnamon flavor roars through all that paprika, pork, and everything else on the plate.  You’d better love savory cinnamon recipes.

The couscous didn’t get fully cooked, and I should have remembered that from the zucchini fish dish.  I very much loved the golden raisins in there, although I think you could get away with normal raisins.  The lemon zest and juice really pulled it all together.  It’s a great side with a flawed main dish.

I will say that it’s a quick recipe.  Plus, it only messed up two pans and one cutting board.

Continue reading

Snore-tellini

Cheese tortellini with broccoli, tomatoes, and garlic

zzzzzzzzzzzzz

zzzzzzzzzzzzz

This is another “Take Five” recipe and the five are:*

  • 3 T unsalted butter
  • 2 lb broccoli cut into florets
  • 4 thinly sliced garlic cloves
  • 1 1/2 lb frozen cheese tortellini
  • 3 plum tomatoes, seeded and diced

Sigh.  Here we have yet one more Everyday Food recipe for pasta with no sauce.  It’s not offensive.  It’s just not terribly interesting.  It’s just cheese tortellini with tomato bits, broccoli, and a little garlic action.  But what it lacks in interest, it makes up for in being super easy to make.  Sauté the garlic and the broccoli in the butter.  Boil the tortellini.  Toss the pasta with the garlic, broccoli, and tomatoes.  Something about reserved pasta water (over it).

*All recipe information adapted from Everyday Food issue #47 p. 140 November 2007 (not that you couldn’t have figured out how to make this from the picture.  I mean, really)

Guest post: Hot toddies, comin’ through!

Hot Toddies

So simple that you can fit everything in one picture

So simple that you can fit everything in one picture

This is a guest post from my one and only, D.  Please enjoy.  -G

D here, husband to G and resident Cooking the Stripes bar-tender, guest posting for the Hot Toddy recipe from November 2007.

“Make this for your holiday gathering” drink recipes are often problematic, because they only include instructions for how to make a batch for a crowd. This deters experimentation.  A Tom & Jerry might be delicious, but I wouldn’t know because I’ve never happened across 30 people who want a raw-egg drink at the same time.

As party recipes go, the EF Hot Toddy recipe is great, because though the top-line information says it makes 8 drinks, the actual instructions provide the precise measurements for a single, drink, so you can do one or two as easy as a party batch.  A “hot toddy” is one of those things that everyone name-checks but nobody drinks.  So G and I were both excited to see what a real live hot toddy tasted like.

Cutting to the chase, his recipe is fantastically simple and completely delicious and you have to go make one right now (or at least the next time it snows). Aside from Martha’s instructions, here’s what you need to know:

On the ingredients: don’t waste a bunch of cash on good brandy just for this. The cocktail authority over at Esquire, David Wondrich, did a feature on the best cheap booze. Print it out and save it.  These are excellent, affordable recommendations to stock your home bar with. So, based on Mr. Wondrich’s expertise, we used Paul Masson Grande Amber VSOP brandy. It’s about $13 for a bottle but it way better than that price would indicate, and makes a perfect base spirit.

On the proportions: The one adjustment that this recipe needs is to bump up the brandy.  I like my cocktails strong, much stronger than G tends to. It’s not uncommon for me to make a new drink that I really like, and have her choke/cough after her sample sip and say, through watered eyes “tastes like burning.” (If you know G, you know that’s a Simpsons reference). That being said, even she preferred this toddy with 1 1/2 tablespoons of brandy (that would be 3/4 cup if you’re making the 8-serving), instead of the 1 tablespoon it calls for, which was a little weak. I preferred it at 2 tablespoons per mug, though few are likely to be as far at the end of the spectrum as me on this one.

On the technique: here’s a pro tip. Don’t worry about trying to get the honey off the measuring spoon. Just measure your honey last, and leave the measuring spoon in the drink when you pour in your hot water. Then use the measuring spoon to stir the drink, and the honey will dissolve from the heat as you mix. Plus, no swizzle stick to wash.

I really urge you to try this recipe. It’s the cocktail equivalent of an enthusiastic hug from a slightly overweight grandmother: comforting, warming, wonderful.

And yes, we both had seconds. You can’t have just one hug from grandma.

Chicken fat fries, and I don’t care

Roast chicken with parsnips and swiss chard

Sorry for getting "Jimmy Crack Corn" stuck in your head.

Sorry for getting “Jimmy Crack Corn” stuck in your head.

This is one of the “take five” recipes in the November issue with five ingredients.  Our five for this adaptation are:*

  • 1 1/2 lb parsnips, peeled, halved crosswise then lengthwise (big ends quartered lengthwise)
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 4 bone-in, skin on-chicken leg quarters (leg and thigh combo) because they were insanely cheap at the store, and I couldn’t find the bone-in, skin-on breasts the recipe called for.  Cut apart the thigh and the leg
  • 1 1/2 pounds Swiss chard, leaves coarsely torn and stalks cut into 1 inch lengths.
  • 1 T white-wine vinegar

Roast those parsnips at 450 in one 1 T of oil, seasoned with salt and pepper.  Push parsnips to the side, add the chicken, and then the fun really starts…  Roast to 165 degrees, about 30-35 minutes.

The fat renders off of the thighs and legs and fries the parsnips in chicken fat making chicken fat fries.  So rich.  So good.  I’ve heard that some cooks are trying to bring back schmaltz.  Hurry up!

Sautee the stalks in the remaining T olive oil until crisp-tender then toss in the leaves.  Toss and turn those leaves, adding more as it cooks down and makes room.  It takes about 5 minutes to get all of the leaves cooked to tender.  Remove it from the heat, stir in vinegar.  Serve it all together.  This chard side reminds me of when D and I were in a community garden and we always had way too much chard.  Our one criterion for a chard recipe was that it use a ton of chard.  Our favorite was chard pie.  This recipe probably would have made the cut because it uses a whole bunch, but it’s no chard pie.

Over all, this was a great meal.  It’s the kind of recipe I would have probably ignored back before I had to make everything.  Plus, chicken fat fries.  Yeah.

*all recipe information adapted from Everyday Food Issue #47 November 2007 p. 148

Spaghetti squash in the microwave(!)

Skirt steak with pickled onion and spaghetti squash*

20 minute meal with a side of heartburn

20 minute meal with a side of heartburn

This is a supposed one hour prep time recipe that can be made in about 20 minutes with the help of the microwave.  Yes, you can make spaghetti squash in the microwave.  I found some instructions online that had you cut the thing in half before you microwave it.  That seemed to defeat the purpose.  So this is what you do: Take the whole spaghetti squash and stab it with a big knife in many many places evenly spaced (you can’t play serial killer and really hack at it because it’ll roll…), place it in the microwave and heat for for 16 minutes (check it at 10, 12, and 14 minutes).  It will be done when you can stab it very easily with a paring knife.  Take it out of the microwave and cut it in half lengthwise.  You’ll need mitts.  The squash is so much easier to cut when it’s cooked than it is when it’s raw.  Scrape out the seeds and discard.  Do the spaghetti squash thing with a fork to get your strands.  My strands weren’t great, but I’m no good at that.  Done!  It’s not as tasty as roasted squash, but you can barely tell the difference.  This technique makes it so squash on a weekday is actually feasible.  Ok, it did explode a little even though I stabbed holes, but it wasn’t a very big mess.  I lost maybe an 1/8 of a cup of goo and seeds.  Combine the squash with 2 T olive oil, season with salt and pepper.

The skirt steak was tasty.  It’s not worth giving directions beyond cook steak in a skillet, tent it with foil.  I used montreal steak seasoning because Montreal steak seasoning>salt and pepper.  It was a little tough, but that’s a problem with most skirt steak.

The onions were delicious, but strong.  You take a red onion, slice it very thinly and marinate it with the juice and zest of 3 limes for at least 15 minutes.  This may actually be a job for that most dangerous utensil, the mandoline.  The onions kind of upset my stomach eating that many that raw.  The leftovers softened and mellowed quite a bit, luckily.  I ate them on a leftover turkey sandwich.

*all recipe information adapted from Everyday Food issue #47 November 2007 p. 136

cheddar bay biscuits and gravy

Cheddar Bay Biscuits and Gravy: G goes rogue again

B made fun of how this looks.  She's just jealous she couldn't eat it.  :P

B made fun of how this looks. She’s just jealous she couldn’t eat it. 😛

The November 2007 Everyday Food recipe is focused on Thanksgiving, so it should come as no surprise that it has waaay more sides than main dishes.  This is great for your average home cook.  Your average home cook isn’t trying to make everything in the issue in a month.  B and I had to get creative to use up all of those side dish recipes.  So my biscuits became a breakfast.  I was walking around downtown thinking to myself about what to do with cheddar biscuits.  I kept thinking “cheddar biscuits, cheddar biscuits”…  Then a wonderful voice in my head added one simple word and said, softly, “cheddar bay biscuits.”  We all have our chain food vices, right?  For D and I, it’s Red Lobster.  I love the fried shrimp and those cheddar bay biscuits.  So I decided to work in some “bay” in the cheddar biscuit recipe by borrowing from some copycat recipes on the internet.  Before I move on to the “and gravy” part…Kyle Kinane’s bit about cheddar bay biscuits and Michael Jackson is genius.  Enjoy.

I had my cheddar bay idea, but I was still stuck on what to serve it with.  Then another genius voice in my head said “biscuits and gravy.”  Like a before and after puzzle on Wheel of Fortune, my head put it together: cheddar bay biscuits and gravy.  Boom.

Ok, this is a combination of three different recipes, so bear with me.  I started with the original Everyday Food Buttermilk Biscuits recipe (Cheddar Variation), but make some cheddar bay changes.  (Here’s a pretty good Cheddar Bay Biscuits copycat recipe that I used as inspiration.)  Follow the Everyday Food recipe with these variations:

1)When you mix all the dry ingredients together, add a teaspoon of garlic powder.  I messed up and forgot it at that step so I had to add it with the cheddar when I kneaded it all together.  That worked out, but I was definitely afraid of over-working the dough.  I should have added it with the dry ingredients.

2)  As for the cheddar part of cheddar bay, the cheddar variation is only in the magazine.  At the part where you knead the dough to combine it, you add 2 cups of grated cheddar.  The recipe also says to add more to the top, but holy moley, that’s already a ton of cheese.  I love cheese more than the next gal, and I left it off of the top.

3)  To finish up the cruise to cheddar bay, I brushed the tops with parsley and melted butter.  Some of the copycat recipes had you mix dried parsley in with the dough, but I don’t have dried parsley and I didn’t think buttermilk biscuits with cheddar cheese and garlic really needed much more!

I had to step back the heat on my oven to about 425 instead of 450 because my biscuits were bigger than the ones in the magazine.  I cut them out with the top of a rocks glass.

Look what washed up on the shores of Cheddar Bay!

Look what washed up on the shores of Cheddar Bay!

Ok, that’s your cheddar bay biscuits.  I must admit that they do not taste exactly like the ones from Red Lobster.  The ones from Red Lobster are far more buttery, but have far less cheese and garlic flavor.  I think you could double the amount of butter and halve the amount of cheese and garlic to approximate the restaurant experience, but I hope you’ll try it my way.

On to the “n’ gravy”.  I got the sausage gravy recipe from the internet only after none of the packages of Jimmy Dean sausage at the grocery store had a recipe for sausage gravy on the side.  C’mon, Dean!  I took this recipe, halved it (huge mistake, we wound up wanting more gravy), but bumped the sausage back up to a 1/3 lb.  I did use whole milk because I have a toddler in the house and one of the perks is that you have whole milk around for cooking and baking.

So how was it?  Do you even have to ask?  It was cheddar bay biscuits with sausage gravy on top.  It was super good.  I just wish I would have made more.  Luckily, I have four more biscuits in the freezer ready to bake.

 

creamy veggie spread

Creamy veggie spread

on mini bagels...not that you can tell from this picture

on mini bagels…not that you can tell from this picture

I’ve mentioned my index card before.  That’s where I kept the information for my favorite Everyday Food recipes back before this blog.  Well, this is another one that’s on the card and has been since 2007.  It’s a very satisfying recipe even though it’s just low-fat cream cheese/Neufchatel, chopped veggies, salt and pepper.  I’ve never messed with the ingredients or the proportions.  It’s just too good.  Normally, I mess with everything.  Not this.  Make it exactly as you’re told.  One downside is that it gets weird if you hang on to it too long.  It really is only good for a couple days.  The veggies start to break down and release water into the spread and that, in turn, makes the parsley kinda limp.  Oh, and a tip for when you definitely make this: take the cream cheese out and put it into the bowl as your very first step, then do all the rest of the prep into the bowl to give the cheese a little time to soften.  A metal spoon and your arms will be enough fire power.  Otherwise, you’re in for quite a workout trying to mix cold cream cheese and veggies together.

Creamy veggie spread

*adapted from Everyday Food Issue #47 November 2007 p. 52

  • 1 8 oz packaged Neufchatel cheese
  • 1 carrot, peeled then grated with a box grater
  • 1 red, orange, or yellow bell pepper (ribs and seeds removed), finely chopped
  • 1 green onion, thinly sliced.  Keep the white part, the light green, and just a bit of the green green
  • 2 T chopped fresh parsley

Set the cheese in a medium bowl.  Prep the rest of the ingredients into that bowl, giving the cheese time to soften.  Season with coarse salt and fresh ground pepper.  Stir it together with a metal spoon.  Spread on bagels or crackers.  Use it within 3 days.  Everyday Food says 5.  I’ve never been lucky enough to get it to last that long.

G&D-giving

G and D’s Mini Thanksgiving

#nofilter

#nofilter

D and I have a tradition of having a mini Thanksgiving ahead of the actual holiday.  Because there are so many people at the actual celebration, it can be hard to get a chance to spend any time together.  We didn’t do one last year because J was less than a month old and took all of our energy.  So we brought back the tradition this year.  Plus, it gave me a chance to knock out some recipes for the blog.  Plus plus, stuffing > not stuffing.

One mistake: not breaking this meal up with something like a salad or cranberries or green beans.  Look at that picture!  It’s sepia-toned it’s so stinkin’ brown.  Brown onions, brown stuffing, brown gravy, brown turkey skin.  Yikes.

I’m going to start with the low-light and work my way up.  The turkey.  We always get the Jennie O perfect turkey breast in a bag.  You don’t thaw it, don’t season it, don’t baste it.  Just stick it in the oven and wait until the timer pops.  Except ours didn’t have a timer, and I didn’t notice that until it was already overcooked and crazy dry.  Oops.  At least I found the thing on sale.

Sugar-glazed pearl onions

I was maybe going to make these for the big Thanksgiving, but D talked me into trying it first.  That was a good call.  This took forever, and it wasn’t all that tasty.  The first step, where it says to cook on medium low until the liquid has evaporated?  Yeah, 30 minutes later and it was still super soupy.  That’s when G got impatient, cranked up the heat and pretty much boiled off the liquid.  The next step where you get them golden went pretty well.  The actual vinegar and thyme was tasty, but really it was just onions.  Nearly an hour for a bunch of onions?  You’d better be caramelizing onions for some french onion soup or something.  Mmmmm….french onion soup….

Simple stuffing (Sausage variation)

The sausage variation is only in the magazine.  You add 1/2 lb sweet Italian sausage, out of the casing, to the veggies in the pan after they are softened and cook until browned.  Then, move on to the add wine step and follow as always.  I used sourdough bread instead of Italian bread, and I’m quite happy that I did.  Sourdough gives you just a little more flavor and cuts against the richness ever so slightly.  Also, this recipe doesn’t give directions for you to cook this on its own.  The turkey breast had you cooking it at 375 so I cooked this in a 8 x 8 pan at 375 for 25 minutes then browned it uncovered for about 15 minutes.  That’s another thing.  I halved this recipe to just make one pan.  I regretted that.  Who has ever wanted less stuffing?  Rookie mistake.  It was delicious.  It’s tough to say if that’s just because stuffing is delicious as a general proposition.

Cranberry-pear cake bars

Where did that corner piece go?

Where did that corner piece go?

Yet again, MSLO is kiiiiilling me by not putting one of the recipes online.  The November 2007 issue seems to be especially bad for this.  Sigh.  My version of the recipe after the jump.

Anyway, the cranberry bars were amazing.  They were very moist and blondie-like in flavor although cake-like in texture.  The batter definitely seemed like a muffin batter.  I am fully planning to try making this as muffins someday.  Maybe with a struesel topping.

Oh, and I had a small piece with two different Ben and Jerry’s coffee ice creams as a semi-frozen Kaffee und Kuchen.  Coffee heath bar crunch was the best with the cake.  Coffee coffee buzz buzz buzz (coffee ice cream with espresso-flavored chocolate chunks) was the better of the two on its own.

coffee heath, cake, coffee and espresso fudge chunks.

coffee heath, cake, coffee and espresso fudge chunks.

It was an awesome Thanksgiving dessert, day after Thanksgiving breakfast, dessert to send to work with your husband, all around sweet treat.  Thank you, Beck family of New Canaan, Connecticut.  You’re all geniuses.

Continue reading

Pumpkin cake and the Brussels sprouts reprised

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

lovely cake on a lovely table

lovely cake on a lovely table

D, J, and I spent Thanksgiving with my family.  Because they host Thanksgiving, I often just cook whatever is needed to fill in the gaps in the menu.  This year, that meant two cranberry sauces: the one from the Ocean Spray bag and a cranberry chutney.  The chutney was good and made an obscene amount of food.  Seriously.  Watch out everyone I know, you’re getting a jar of chutney for Christmas.

I was also in charge of bringing a non-starchy vegetable.  I made the Brussels sprouts salad again.  It scaled up pretty well, and, wouldn’t you know it, there were make-ahead instructions on another page!  I wrongly maligned that recipe.  You blanch the brussels sprouts and toast the pine nuts the day before.  That leaves only the dressing and slicing the apples the day of.

Another beautiful dish in a beautiful dish

Another beautiful dish in a beautiful dish

Pumpkin layer cake (recipe after the jump)

The real star of the show was the pumpkin cake.  Now, we had desserts more than covered.  We had a maple walnut pie, pecan pie, pumpkin pie, red velvet cake, pumpkin truffles, and a cheesecake.  But…when else was I going to make a giant layer cake?  My sister already rejected the idea of having it for her birthday next Sunday, so I piled on yet another dessert.  Nobody was mad.  This was a popular cake.  It’s very easy to bake and keeps wonderfully overnight.  I think the pumpkin pie spice in the cream cheese frosting (yeah, you read that right) really did add something.  I wouldn’t call it optional.  The cake was very moist.  I guess it reminded me a lot of pumpkin pancakes!  Giant pumpkin pancakes with cream cheese frosting.  You’re gonna want that.  Oh, one tip: the recipe says to use an electric mixer to make the batter and the frosting.  Incorrect.  Bust out the Kitchen Aid and the paddle attachment.  You’ll want the firepower of a stand mixer to get through all that butter and cream cheese.  Also, it’s a lot of batter.  Your arms will be glad you used ol’ Kitchy.

It just looks moist, doesn't it?  Gotta love pumpkin

It just looks moist, doesn’t it? Gotta love pumpkin

Oh, and check out the cheese from my trip to see B!

Cabot aged cheddar, buffalo wing sauce cheddar, everything bagel cheddar.

Cabot aged cheddar, buffalo wing sauce cheddar, everything bagel cheddar.

Happy Thanksgiving, wherever and whoever you are.

Continue reading