Archive | August, 2010

Goodbye, goodbye (plus the Christine Special)

24 Aug

No no, we’re not closing down the blog. I (Christine) am moving to California. Actually, I’m already here because we (mostly Bobby) procrastinated in making this post. Oops. Anyway.

We’re gonna try to continue business as usual. The only difference is that Bobby and I will be on opposite sides of the country, probably cooking by ourselves. Sad, but alas, such is life! So here’s the first post in the new, cross-country version of Cooking to Procrastinate: the Christine Special!

This past summer, Bobby and I went to visit one of my best friends from elementary school in New York. She took us to this really cute bar/lounge thinger that served an amazingly delicious drink called the Peach Cobbler. Once we got home, I put Bobby to work recreating it. We call his version the Christine Special because it’s the only cocktail that I think tastes good. :P

The “Christine Special”

1 shot peach schnapps
1 spoonful of honey
vanilla soy milk
a sprinkle of cinnamon

Fill a small shaker with ice. Add 1 shot peach schnapps. Drizzle honey over the ice, then fill the shaker almost to the top with soy milk. Shake until foamy. Pour into a glass without ice, and sprinkle cinnamon on top.

Length of procrastination: About a minute…

Ways to prolong procrastination: Drink a few of these. ;)

The best thing about being home…

18 Aug

My mother is the best cook in the world, and my grandma taught her everything she knows. Much to my dismay, the only thing my mom hadn’t mastered was wrapping 粽子. Known by many names in English, including “Chinese tamale” (lawl), it’s a bundle of glutinous rice wrapped in bamboo leaves and steamed. They typically come in sweet and savory versions, with red bean paste and some sort of meat, respectively, in the rice. The awesome part about making them yourself is that you can put whatever you want in them.

My grandma had soaked some bamboo leaves in anticipation of my return, and today she taught me how to wrap zongzi. For my savory veggie versions, I used shiitake mushrooms, boiled peanuts, and cooked chestnuts.

I’m proud to say that I learned much more quickly than my mom did! Unfortunately I don’t have a clue how to explain it, so you’re gonna have to find your own Taiwanese grandmas to teach you.

Lookit that! Mine started out looking like shapeless logs, but eventually, I got the hang of making the four corners. In case you’re wondering what they look like after they’re cooked…

Kinda like that. Omnomnomnomnom… :P

Gnocchi!

10 Aug

(Hee that word makes me giggle.)

Gnocchi is one of my trigger words on a menu (along with “mushroom” and “macaroni and cheese,” among other things). I tried to make it the other day with some potatoes that were threatening to sprout, with fairly positive results.

Next time, I’ll think I’ll add more flour because my dough was slightly too sticky. The pieces stuck as I pressed my fork into them, resulting in really ugly gnocchi. I was also a tad overenthusiastic with the size of my gnocchi…I had eat each piece in three bites. Bobby, of course, had no problem swallowing each one whole.

My ugly gnocchi reminded me a lot of this dish my grandma frequently made for me as a kid called 麵疙瘩 (literally, flour knot). She’d mix flour and water to form a paste and drop dollops of it into boiling water so that they’d cook as formless lumps. It would then be served in a thick soup. Try as I might, I could never reproduce this dish. My grandma is probably magical or something.

Gnocchi
Adapted from Mario Batali on Food Network

Ingredients

  • 3 pounds russet potatoes
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 egg, extra large
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1/2 cup canola oil

Boil the whole potatoes until they are soft (about 45 minutes). I didn’t have a vegetable mill as the recipe calls for, so I just mashed the soft potatoes up with a fork. This is probably why my dough was too sticky, because I probably broke some of the water-containing cells. Try using a potato ricer instead, if you have one.

Set 6 quarts of water to boil in a large spaghetti pot. Set up ice bath with 6 cups ice and 6 cups water near boiling water.

Make well in center of potatoes and sprinkle all over with flour, using all the flour. Place egg and salt in center of well and using a fork, stir into flour and potatoes. Once egg is mixed in, bring dough together, kneading gently until a ball is formed. Knead gently another 4 minutes until ball is dry to touch.

Roll baseball-sized ball of dough into 3/4-inch diameter dowels and cut dowels into 1-inch long pieces. Press fork tines into each piece to get the ridge-y shape.

Drop these pieces into boiling water and cook until they float (about 1 minute). As gnocchi float to top of boiling water, remove them to ice bath.  Let sit several minutes in bath and drain from ice and water. Serve with your choice of sauce.

Length of procrastination: 1 hour 30 minutes

Popcorn Mushrooms and Caprese Panini

4 Aug

One of the only things I’ve missed since becoming vegetarian is popcorn chicken. I think it’s the fried breaded coating that I miss rather than the chicken itself, so we decided to experiment with popcorn mushrooms. They turned out pretty well considering we completely winged it. :D

Of course, you can’t just have fried mushrooms for dinner. The basil in Bobby’s backyard has become rather prolific, so we decided to make caprese paninis. Fresh mozzarella is sooo gooooood…

Popcorn Mushrooms

Ingredients:
White mushrooms, halved
Flour
Egg(s)
Breadcrumbs
Oil
Salt and pepper to taste (I like white pepper)

Prepare your station by placing the flour, eggs (beaten), and breadcrumbs in three separate bowls.

Coat the individual pieces in flour, egg, and breadcrumbs, in that order.

Heat oil in a skillet and pan fry mushrooms until golden brown. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Length of procrastination: 20 minutes

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