Tag Archives: time:60 minutes+

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

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…and there was CAAAKKKEEE!

14 Jun

It feels like everyone and their mom was born between mid-May and early June. Not even kidding. There were like fifteen consecutive birthdays, some happening concurrently, the past few weeks.

So I made cake.

Photo credit: Alice Cheng

Bobby had requested a triple-layered ice cream cake for his birthday. I’m not entirely sure what the naming convention for cakes are. Does the number of layers refer to the number of cake layers or the number of total layers, ice cream included? In any case, I went cake-ice cream-cake for lack of resources, ingredients, and energy.

Making the cake layers was  simple enough. A single box of angel food cake mix (shh) made the two cake layers, and a box of Neapolitan ice cream served as the middle one. At Bobby’s request, I made whipped cream frosting instead of cream cheese or buttercream.

Tips for future ice cream cake aficionados:

  1. Freeze the cake layers. It makes them far easier to work with ’cause they’re stiff and not wobbly, and far less likely to rip when handled.
  2. MELT the ice cream before smooshing into the mold. I was impatient and failed to do so, and thus ended up trying to smooth the semi-firm ice cream with the back of a spoon. Very time consuming.
  3. Get one of those spinny cake decorating thingers, or at least something bigger than the cake itself. I tried to frost my cake inside the pan, which was difficult and ugly.

Photo credit: Alice Cheng

I topped it with strawberries cut into hearts (gross, I know…sorry). Strawberries are difficult to cut with a butter knife. Just saying.

Photo credit: Alice Cheng

Bobby hosted a BBQ (a Bobby-Q hahaha) in honor of all the birthdays. Candle were lit, cake was consumed, and waistbands were challenged.

Photo credit: David Chen

Photo credit: David Chen

Oh! The whipped cream recipe. It tastes equally delicious on fresh strawberries and on your finger.

Fresh Whipped Cream

1 part heavy whipping cream
1 part confectioner sugar
Splash of vanilla extract

Start with your cold whipping cream in a large bowl. Use an egg beater to…well..whip it. Slowly add the confectioner sugar, making sure each bit is fully incorporated before adding the next bit. Add the vanilla extract last. Beat until you get stiff peaks–for 2 cups each of cream and sugar, it took me about 6 minutes. Be careful not to under-beat, as the cream will separate. I’ve been told over-beating it is bad as well.

Length of procrastination: Oof…’roundabouts half a day, including re-freezing the ice cream.

Meet My New Toy

16 Jul

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She was sitting on the shelf at Rite-Aid with a little $19.99 tag in front of her. I walked past her and stole a glance. She glanced back. I walked past again, this time looking pointedly, but trying not to act too interested. She looked pointedly back. On the third pass, I stopped in front of her and stared. She stared back, flashing her cardboard box seductively so that the light bounced off the words “delicious versitility” and “fully automatic”. I nervously shifted my weight from one foot to the other, then stooped down to look her in the eye. She cocked her head and winked at me. I caved.

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Yes. I bought an ice cream maker from Rite-Aid. I dare you to judge me after eating some of the ice cream that comes out of it (I feel like using the feminine pronoun here would be inappropriate for some audiences). I don’t have $50 to blow on some gorgeous Cuisineart supermodel. My cute little Hamilton Beach does the job and does it well. Sure, her extension cord is only about a foot long. Sure, it takes an entire freezer full of ice, plus half a carton of salt, for her to freeze ice cream properly. Sure, she’s a bit bulky and unwieldy, but dangnammit, she makes a gallon of ice cream in the flavor of my choice. And that, my friends, is true love.

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I’ve made two kinds of ice creams so far: green tea and raspberry+apricot. The green tea was the honest-to-goodness best green tea ice cream I’ve ever had. It’s not made with a custard base (no eggs!), so it’s got a much lighter texture–just like green tea is supposed to be. I’ve always thought that the store-bought versions were too creamy and too sweet, but this ice cream is absolutely perfect. Plus? No heat, so you can go from mixing bowl to mouth in less than an hour.

The raspberry and apricot ice cream came out with a consistency more like frozen yogurt than ice cream, probably due to the amount of water in it. This didn’t bother me, but the apricot syrup did come with a whole ton of sugar, making the final product really crazy freaking sweet. Not that I’m complaining or anything, but I’d probably cut the amount of granulated sugar I put in by half if I were to make this again.

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Green Tea Ice Cream
From Jason Truesdell

Ingredients
4 cups heavy cream
4 cups whole milk
2 cups  sugar
4 heaping tbsp matcha (green tea) powder
1/4 tsp vanilla extract

Whisk the matcha with the milk and sugar, making sure the powder dissolves. Stir in the cream and vanilla. Chill in the freezer for 15 minutes, then freeze and churn according to your ice cream maker’s instructions.

Makes about 3 quarts.

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Raspberry and Apricot Ice Cream
I made it up! Seriously.

Ingredients
5 cups milk (I used 2%)
3 cups + a sprinkle of sugar
1/4 tsp salt
6 large eggs, beaten
4.5 cups heavy cream
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1 can of apricot halves (12 oz.)
2 cups frozen raspberries

Combine milk, sugar, and salt in a saucepan over low heat until the sugar dissolves. Do not boil!

In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs as you pour half of the hot milk mixture into it. This tempers the eggs so that you get custard instead of scrambled eggs when you pour everything back into the saucepan. Cook over medium heat while stirring until the mixture coats the back of the spoon. It’ll be nice and thick and almost gooey. Chill in the refrigerator (or freezer).

While you’re waiting for your custard base to cool, scoop out your apricot halves and dice them. Save the syrup! Size doesn’t matter a whole heckuva lot. Just make sure you’re okay with that size apricot going into your mouth. Add the syrup and apricot pieces into your cooling custard.

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In a small saucepan, heat the frozen raspberries with a sprinkle of sugar so that their juices come out. Stir and squash them as best you can, then pour the raspberries through a strainer into your apricot-flavored custard. This’ll remove the raspberry seeds and residual pulp, but feel free to skip this step if you like the crunch.

When everything’s cold, stir in the heavy cream and vanilla. Freeze and churn according to your ice cream maker’s directions.

Makes one gallon.

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Length of procrastination: 50 minutes  (green tea), 1.5 hours (raspberry apricot)

Ways to prolong procrastination: Repeatedly open the freezer door to check whether the custard is cool yet. The answer is no, and it probably prolongs the cooling process. Oops.

Also: Bobby’s back! All the nice, high-res artsy-fartsy photos were taken by him. Visit his blog for more pictures and general awesomeness. ^^

I’m submitting these to the Ice Cream Social hosted by Savor The Thyme, Tangled Noodle and Scotty Snacks.

Veggie Dumplings

8 Jul

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Let me be honest–I’ve never made dumplings in my life. In my twenty-one years, never have I sat down next to my mommy and helped her wrap the scrumptious, intricate crescents. Last weekend, after the Fourth of July madness, some of my ATS lovelies came over to help me wrap my very first dumplings. If you’re going to  make dumplings, I highly encourage you to do it with friends. It involves a lot of washing and shredding and dicing, which may drive the average person insane. The logical solution is to get someone else to do it.

Also, it takes five people one-fifth of the time to wrap nearly a 89 dumplings as it takes one person.

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Veggie Dumplings
From Angela, Stephie, Tiffy, Zach, and me.

Ingredients
1 pack silken tofu (two blocks)
1 small head napa cabbage
2 large eggs
5 dried shiitake mushrooms, rehydrated
2 blocks of dried vermicelli, rehydrated
2 packs dumpling wrappers
salt
white pepper

Smash the tofu with the flat side of your Asian butcher knife until it looks like cottage cheese. Set aside.

Wash and shred the napa cabbage. Avoid the small bitter leaves in the middle of the head. Toss the shreds with salt to remove the excess water and set aside to drain.

Beat the eggs and fry over a large skillet to create thin pancakes of egg. Shred into pieces about 2 inches long and set aside.

Remove the stems of the shiitake mushrooms and dice. Set aside.

Cut the vermicelli into short strands, at most 2 inches in length. Shorter strands will be easier to wrap, but if they’re too short, the strands will turn into mush. Not tasty.

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Take all of the shredded and diced ingredients that you set aside and dump them into the smushed tofu. Thoroughly combine. Don’t be a wuss–use your hands! At this point, you can add a little white pepper and salt to season the filling, but most people will be eating dumplings with soy sauce, which adds a significant amount of salty flavor.

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Now it’s time to wrap the dumplings. There are tons of different ways of wrapping them–you can just seal the edges together or pleat one edge. It takes some practice and a lot of patience to create a nice, pleated dumpling. When wrapping, keep in mind that any air in the middle of the wrapped dumplings will expand in the heat and give you a funny-looking bloated dumpling. No worries; you can just squeeze the air out with a spoon as you cook them, and the taste isn’t compromised. You may want to flour the plate or aluminum foil you’re placing the folded dumplings on so that they won’t stick to the surface.

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Bring a pot of water to a boil and add a drop of sesame oil so that the dumplings don’t stick to each other. Add the dumplings and wait for the water to boil again. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for another 5 minutes or so, until the skin becomes soft and not too chewy.

Any leftover dumplings can be frozen in a ziploc bag for about a week.

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Length of Procrastination: About 3 hours
Ways to Prolong Procrastination: Make a delicious frozen treat for dessert while waiting for dinnertime. (Foreshadowing! DUN DUN DUNNN.)

Garlic Bread (No French Bread Necessary!)

29 Jun

Bobby’s off to Serbia for the Summer World University Games (basically the collegiate Olympics), so Christine will be holding down the fort in his absence. I apologize in advance.

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For weeks, I’ve been hearing the siren call of bread-baking. The frothy yeast and rising dough held an allure that I just couldn’t ignore. But little things kept getting in the way. A lack of flour here, a sprinkle of laziness there, and weekends kept passing me by.

Last Thursday, though, I finally popped my bread cherry. Yeast cherry. Rising dough cherry. Whatever. The point is, I baked bread with yeast and the dough rose. (Please bear with me–I seem to be catching a cold.)

Garlicky Goodness Bread
Modified from BitterSweet

Ingredients
1.5 heads garlic (use more or less depending on your desired garlic level)
cooking spray or olive oil
2 tbsp butter
1 cup warm water
1 tbsp granulated sugar
1 packet active dry yeast
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp fresh, chopped parsley
3 – 4 cups whole wheat flour

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.

Cut the tops off the heads of garlic and peel off the papery outer skin. Spray garlic with cooking spray or drizzle a bit of olive oil on top and wrap everything up in aluminum foil. Stick it in the oven for about 35 minutes, until fragrant. Let cool, then toss into blender with butter. Fail at blending, learn your lesson, purchase a food processor, and blend into a smooth paste. Purchasing a food process is optional. I just kept scraping down the sides and bottom of the blender with a spoon. This took awhile.

In a large bowl, mix together the sugar and water, and then sprinkle over the yeast. Let it sit for 5 – 10 minutes until frothy. Add in the salt, garlic paste, chopped parsley, and the first 3 cups of flour. I mixed it by hand, but if you have a stand mixer, by all means use the dough hook. I envy you. The dough should be very slightly sticky, but not so wet that bits come off in your hands. If it still seems too wet, add in more flour, 1/4 cup at a time, until you reach the right consistency.

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Turn the dough out onto a well-floured surface, and knead by hand for about 10 minutes, until smooth and elastic. This actually took me 20 minutes because I kept stopping to check on the banana bread simultaneously baking in the oven. Lesson: if you’re tired of kneading, taking breaks is okay. Lightly grease a large bowl, and drop the ball of dough in. Cover with plastic wrap and place somewhere warm for about 1 – 1 1/2 hours until doubled in volume. At this point, I stuck it in the fridge and went out to do something productive (I can’t remember what it was). This is okay, but your dough will be slightly wet on the bottom after you take it out. I had to knead in a little more flour, so I let the dough re-rise for about 30 minutes.

Once risen, turn the dough out onto a well-floured surface again and shape as desired. I made a loaf. Lightly grease an 8 x 4 inch loaf pan, and place your shaped loaf inside. Give the top a quick spritz with cooking spray or a drizzle of olive oil, and let rise for another hour, until it’s peaking out from above the rim by about an inch or so.

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Once it seems to be almost fully risen, preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Bake the bread for about 30 minutes, until golden brown all over.

The original recipe says that you’re supposed to let the bread cool completely before you cut into it, but patience has never been one of my virtues. We tore into the poor loaf.

The crumb of this bread was much denser than your average loaf of Wonderbread, and I imagine it’s because I re-kneaded the dough after letting it rise, thereby defeating the purpose of the rising. Next time, I’ll skip doing all the productive stuff and just pay attention to my bread. The garlic taste was fainter than I imagined it would be, perhaps because I lost a lot of paste in the blending step.

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Length of procrastination: About 4 hours 45 minutes, but with a lot of downtime.

Ways to prolong procrastination: Bake the bread in a small toaster oven instead of a conventional oven. It’ll take over 50 minutes, I tell you.

veggie lasagna

23 Apr

ok it’s been a while. all this time we’ve been eating nothing but salad so it’s time to catch up with a delicious lasagna. this is the same one i made for christine in order to return her apple pie container. an added bonus: this lasagna is also pretty low fat and high in nutrients. just don’t eat too much if you are lactose intolerant.

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Spinach Lasagna with Summer Vegetables

Ingredients
6-9 strips of lasagna pasta
2 small zucchini
2 small yellow squash
5 white mushrooms or 1 portabello cap
1 red onion
1 bag of baby spinach leaves
2-4 cloves garlic
1 jar of tomato sauce
1 medium container (8 oz) fat free ricotta cheese
1 bag of shredded low fat mozarella
olive oil
oregano
thyme
salt
pepper

Bring a pot of water to a boil, and cook the lasagna strips. Place the strips in at different angles so they don’t stick together. When the lasagna is soft, drain and put the strips into a container of ice water.

Slice the zucchini, squash and mushroom into thin layers. Dice the onion and garlic. In a sautee pan, heat a small amount of olive oil. Add in garlic, and before the garlic browns, add the onion and mushroom. Add salt and pepper to taste. Sautee until the onion is starting to caramelize, then remove from heat.

In a sautee pan, add a thin layer of olive oil, and spread the slices of zucchini and squash around the pan. When the slices start to cook through and turn transparent, flip them and cook the other side. Add some salt and pepper to taste, as well as a sprinkling of oregano and thyme if desired. Remove from heat when the vegetables are tender.

Preheat the oven for 375. I used a thin pan that is usually used to bake bread, because i find the lasagna more interesting as a loaf. Using your fingers or a paper towel, thinly coat the bottom of the pan with a little olive oil. Cover the bottom of the pan with 2 strips of lasagna. If you are using a regular cake/casserole tray, cover with three strips.

With a spoon, spread ricotta cheese over the pasta. For our fat free ricotta, it was more like dropping spoonfuls until the bottom was covered. Above that, spread the mushroom and onion, then layer squash and zucchini. Cover that with a layer of baby spinach. Finally, pour a layer of tomato sauce over all the ingredients.

Repeat with another set of pasta, ricotta, mushroom and onion, squash and zucchini, spinach, and tomato sauce.

For the top, put a third layer of pasta and a layer of ricotta cheese. On top of that, cover with tomato sauce, then sprinkle mozarella thickly over the very top. At this point, you may have to compress everything so it fits into the baking tray, so compress using a second baking tray when you put the final layer of pasta but before the ricotta cheese is put on.

Bake in the oven for about 30 minutes.

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Total procrastination: about 1.5 hrs

Procrastinating procrastination

5 Apr

Bobby and I have gotten procrastination down to an art. Not only do we cook to procrastinate, we also procrastinate cooking and procrastinate blogging about cooking once we’ve finally done it. Observe:
apples
March 10
C: “Let’s bake apple pie for pi day!”
B: “Okay!”

March 14
C: “I’m kinda tired.”
B: “Yeah, me too. Let’s make pie some other time.”

March 28
B: “Let’s make pie.”
C: “Okay!”
B and C: *make pie…several hours later*

March 29
C: “Let’s blog about pie.”
B: “No, you do it.”
C: “Okay, later.”

March 30
C: “We should blog about pie.”
B: Zzz…
C: “Okay, maybe later.”

April 1
C: *blogs about pie during class* Bobby, I need pictures from your camera.
B: Okay.

April 2
C: Bobby, I need pictures from your camera.
B: Okay. *uploads pictures onto his laptop*

April 3
C: Bobby, I need pictures from your camera.
B: …

April 5
C: Post!
B: Ok I’m done.

So! Twenty-one days after pie was supposed to happen, we present to you apple pie…

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Apple Pie (Called “Bobby’s Apple Pie, Lovingly Baked by Mark and Christine” at 2008 MIT Sport TKD Winter Banquet)
Bastardized from Smitten Kitchen

Lattice Crust

  • 3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 7 tbsp all-vegetable shortening, diced (don’t think about it…just use it)
  • 8 tbsp unsalted butter, diced
  • ~10 tbsp ice water

Apple Pie Filling

  • 5 medium Granny Smith apples
  • 1 medium MacIntosh apple (in discussing this blog post, Bobby and I realized why Apple computers are called Macs)
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 3/4 cups sugar
  • 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 crapton cinnamon (to taste; other spices including nutmeg and allspice may be used, too)
  • 1 egg white, beaten lightly

For the crust…

Combine flour, salt, and sugar in large bowl. Fold in butter and shortening using a fork or spatula until the mixture resembles coarse sand. Add ice water and knead with your hands until a dough forms. More water may be necessary, but be careful not to make the dough mushy.

Divide dough into two halves and flatten both. Place one disk in a pie tin and cover the other with aluminum foil (what we used) or saran wrap (what we should’ve used). Refrigerate for 45 minutes to an hour while you make the filling.

For the sweet and gooey…

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Peel, core, and dice all the apples. Combine apples, lemon juice, sugar, cinnamon (and other spices, if applicable), flour, and salt in a large bowl and mix until all the apples are covered. Taste testing is highly encouraged. Turn apples into dough-covered pie tin.

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Cut the second dough disk into strips and make lattice crust. Smitten Kitchen has an excellent method here.

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Brush egg white over crust (we just used a fork, but if you have a paintbrush, by all means…). The remaining dough can be used creatively.

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Place pie on lowest level of oven and bake until crust is golden, about 25 minutes. Lower oven to 375 degrees, rotate pie, and bake until the juices bubble, about another 30 minutes. Note that at this point, the pie filling is extremely hot. We know you want to eat it, but for the love of your tongue please let your pie cool!

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Serves between 1 and 8, depending on slice size and selfishness factor.

Length of procrastination: 2.5 hours

Ways to prolong procrastination: Bake the pie in a dorm kitchen instead of in Bobby’s kitchen. Run between the kitchen in the basement and Christine’s room on the third floor every five minutes to retrieve forgotten ingredients or utensils.

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