i haven't been posting as frequently as i had been. time constraints during the busy month of december are real but couldn't be the sole reason.
i still try to keep up with all the new posts in my reader, and after reading some of my favorites, finally i realized that one reason i feel less vested in my blog is the artificial wall i put up to preserve my "identity". i was always worried about remaining anonymous. mimi isn't even my real name! but i realized that the blogs i love the most are those that are personal. not necessarily dirty laundry personal. but those who have the stamp of "i" clearly and openly in their writing and photography.
it may be that my online identity is an artificial façade because i'm so unsure of my own personal identity at this time. too many changes, not enough answers, getting older but not feeling much wiser.
but it's nearly the end of december and i can't let it go by without another recipe. here's an easy one, maybe a good option for a simple christmas eve dinner?
roast flounder provençal: serves 2
1 lb flounder
2 shallots, minced
2 cloves garlic, sliced
3 plum tomatoes, seeded and diced
handful european olive mix, pitted and sliced
fleur de sel
thyme and chives, chopped
1. preheat oven to 375F. rub flounder fillets with olive oil, cracked pepper, and fleur de sel. roast until firm, about 10 minutes.
2. meanwhile sauté garlic and shallots in olive oil until tender. de-glaze with white wine, add tomatoes, olives. season with herbs, flip twice and turn off heat. serve over top of fish. goes perfectly with roasted fingerling potatoes and carrots!
there's so much more i wish i could be cooking and baking and blogging about. but big changes are happening (even some that nobody knows about - but NO!! i am not preggers, so don't even ask!) so time is of the essence for me right now and i only squeeze in what i can.
but i'm glad i snuck in some time for a tuesdays with dorie cookie this week. we have been graciously allowed to skip around weeks this month, and technically this isn't due until next tuesday.
i made the recipe as written, but with cherry preserves. when these came out the oven i was totally underwhelmed and thought well that was a waste of butter. i mean look at the photo! no amount of photoshopping could make these actually look good!
but then i tried them with a cup of tea and wow, i was totally and pleasantly surprised by how good these are! they are like a scone but lighter, and like a biscuit but crispier. it's hard to describe - but soft on the inside and slightly crispy on the outside. thank goodness i gave some away because by the next day i had eaten the rest.
and speaking of the next day, you know how almost all baking recipes warn "best eaten day made" or whatnots. like we all have time to bake the day of anything?! but these truly are best eaten the day they are made. i kept them overnight in air-tight box, and they were still yummy today (i still ate them all didn't i?) but they definitely lost some of the crispy.
to get the recipe, please check back to heather's blog, randomosity and the girl next tuesday!
for those who procastinate (like moi) and are still looking for a salad for tomorrow .... here's a perfect choice!
fine cooking's original recipe said it could serve 10-12 .... i halved the recipe and we still ate it all accompanied to a main meal. then again, i'm someone who could eat a big salad for dinner and be happy, but i could imagine even you carnivores would go for seconds with this one!
super easy to make, and the spiciness of the arugula would probably go great with all the sweetness of traditional thanksgiving fare.
every thanksgiving is special to me. but as i get ready to temporarily leave my family and friends for half a year, i'm going to be giving a lot of thanks this thursday. i hope you'll be celebrating with loved ones as well.
arugula, carrot and celery root salad: serves 2-4
adapted from fine cooking (jan 2009, p. 58)
2 tb apple cider vinegar
2 tb honey
1 tsp dijon mustard
3-4 tb olive oil
salt + pepper
3 medium carrots
1 small celery root
3 oz baby arugula
1/2 cup sliced almonds, toasted
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1. make vinaigrette: in small bowl, whisk together vinegar, honey, and mustard. whisk in oil and season with salt and pepper. this makes the whole batch of vinaigrette from the original recipe but you'll only use half for this serving size. serve with extra vinaigrette on the side, or save for another time.
2. wash and dry the arugula. peel and trim carrots and celery root, and grate into strips (great the celery root right before serving, as it may oxidize and turn brown if done too much earlier).
3. toss together the arugula, carrots, celery root, and half the almonds and cranberries with half the vinaigrette. season with salt and pepper to taste. sprinkle the rest of the almonds and cranberries on top.
sorry, no tuesdays with dorie here. vibi from la casserole carrée choose the "two-fer" pumpkin slash pecan pie, but i already have got my pies to bake for thanksgiving, and i just can't bear to do another one!
but this weekend i did make pierogis. i can't remember when i first ate a pillowy puff of potato, but evidently i was polish in a past life because i love them!! they're like a comfort food for me. when i was younger i used to eat a plate of them with caramelized onions for dinner.
so when we finally decided to use up the kielbasa we bought from the farmer's market, i got the brilliant idea of making my own pierogis!!
yes, it's true i like martha's recipes, but i figured her mother would know a thing or two about making pierogis. unfortunately i was going between the online and magazine recipe, and halving both and i wasn't as organized as i should have been. it was an afternoon of oops, that was supposed to be 1.5 cups of flour! and an oops, i forgot to salt and pepper the potato mix! and shit my countertop next to the oven is hot and my dough is now sticking!
do you ever having baking days like that???
but the end result was some delicious pierogi. never doubt that something as simple as potato stuffed dumplings can taste amazingly better homemade than store bought! i think there was a little bit of that delicious taste called "pride" in each bite too ... i couldn't believe i made these babies by hand!!
for the online recipe - and a great video of martha and mum - click here.
in an effort (however non-effective, at least it's earnest) to try to reduce the gluttonous impact my recent omnivorous ways have been taking on my body, i'm devoting one night a week to making soup for dinner. last week's was pasta e fagioli. yes, i know soup doesn't necessarily mean "healthier", but it at least feels healthier, so i tell myself.
we had a butternut languishing on our counter and fresh chicken stock (yes, i'm in love with homemade chicken stock) waiting in the fridge. some of my favorite soups come from, of course, ms. madison. so we decided to try this simple sounding squash soup with sage leaves.
i was worried without some beans or pasta or dare i say, meat, i wouldn't feel full from this soup. but coupled with a crunchy greens salad and some baguette, it was a perfect dinner. it was so flavorful, and like always, was better the next night. i even had the last bit for lunch yesterday and i still loved it. yes, that bears repeating ... i ate this soup three days out of this week and still loved it on the third day!!
so what are you waiting for?
winter squash soup with sage leaves: serves 4-6
from vegetarian cooking for everyone (1997, p. 215)
2 1/2 - 3 lbs winter squash
1/4 cup olive oil, plus extra for squash
6 garlic cloves, unpeeled
12 whole sage leaves, plus 2 tb chopped
2 onions, finely chopped
4 thyme sprigs, chopped
1/4 cup chopped parsley
salt + pepper
2 quarts homemade stock (be it vegetable or chicken, but please be it homemade!)
1/2 cup fontina, pecorino, or ricotta salata, diced into small cubes
1. preheat oven to 375F. halve squash and scoop out seeds. brush surface with oil, stuff cavaties with garlic and place cut sides down on baking sheet. bake until tender, about 30 minutes.
2. meanwhile heat 1/4 cup oil in small skillet until nearly smoking, then drop whole sage leaves and fry until dark, about 1 minute. set leaves aside on paper towel and transfer oil to wide soup pot. add onions, chopped sage, thyme, and parsley and cook over medium heat until onions have begun to brown, about 12-15 minutes.
3. scoop squash flesh into pot along with any juices that accumulated in the pan. peel the garlic and add to pot along with salt and stock and bring to boil. lower the heat and simmer, partially covered, for 25 minutes. if soup becomes too thick, simply add more water/stock to thin it out. taste for salt.
4. depending on the type of squash you've used, the soup with be smooth or rough. if you want a refined soup, use a handmixer or blender. if you mix it, you might want to heat it up a bit again. then ladle into bowls and distribute cheese over top (the cheese adds a contrast flavor to the sweetness of the squash, so yes, it's necessary!) garnish with sage leaves, add pepper, and enjoy!
i have to admit that i've never heard of snickerdoodles before i started blogging. AND i thought they had something to do with snickers, yummy! so i was just a tad bit disappointed when i learned that was just false advertising - and in reality they were just basically a sugar cinnamon cookie. where's the snickery peanuts and chocolate and caramel??!!
but so many people wrote so many wonderful things about them, so i've wanted to try making them ever since. last week i did, but i was rushing out and did not watch them carefully. they ended up slightly overcooked and deflated to a crunchy cookie. so the verdict is out on whether i like these or not, i'll just have to bake another batch more carefully!
i used the recipe from fine cooking's special cookie issue, but you can find the recipe online here.
one of my weaknesses in the last grocery aisle of fairway is the stacks of kozyshack. i'm such a sucker, for both the vanilla rice pudding and the regular chocolate pudding. it doesn't last long once it gets back to our fridge
so when isabelle from les gourmandises d'isa picked dorie's arborio rice pudding for this week i was pretty excited to try it out. there was a bit of a typo that the miss dorie herself pointed out to us on the twd blog but then i overcompensated too much and ended up with a pudding that was more like a mushy brick of rice. whoops! but it still tasted pretty great. i'm tempted to see how it might come out with rice milk instead, since i don't buy cow milk on a regular basis at all.
as always, please visit the other members and check out their much more creative rice puddings! for the recipe, click here.
happy friday everyone!
two years ago, mark bittman had an article about pancakes that showcased a photo that was the very definition of drool-worthy. i don't even like pancakes (i'm an omelette girl) but these just looked so damn good, soft on the inside, crunchy brown on the outside, so golden and buttery!!
and his accompanying recipe for ricotta pancakes became our favorite, it's the only one we make when i finally get the craving.
for the recipe click here.
and for the bittman photo that started it all, click here.
sunita gave me the gracious honor of hosting october's think spice event. i chose paprika, and received some delicious entries!
in addition to the one i offered - mr. mimi's chicken paprikash - here are the other lovely dishes to satisfy your paprikan curiosity. please visit their blogs, all of them are wonderful!
sweatha from tastycurryleaf made a very yummy potato goulash, vegetarian german style, even if that is an oxymoron! this bowl of goodness is perfect for these colder nights.
next up is lubna from yummy food (needs no explanation!) who found the paprika very spicy but made these spicy potato chunks. i don't care how simple the recipe may seem, i bet this was delicious!
su-lin from the beautiful blog tamarind and thyme made a similar pimentón potato wedges, dusted with paprika. she suggested to pair these up with grilled steak. but they look so good i could probably eat a whole plate as lunch!
priya with her colorful blog priya's easy n tasty recipes posted one of her favorite recipes for spicy baked chicken. if the picture doesn't have you drooling i don't know what will, this looks fantastic!
mahima from olives and basil actually loves the flavor of paprika! and here's her entry, a peppery basil spaghetti that is both creamy and spicy blissfully at the same time. sounds like my perfect kind of pasta!
and last but not least, lovely manuela from baking history brought along cheese straws. "hard to stop eating" she says and i'll take her word for it, but i definitely want to try making these!
so there you have it, all the paprika you could ever want! next up is think spice ... think anise hosted by manuela. for past think spice events, visit sunita's blog.
sorry there's no tuesdays with dorie here today (but please check out everyone else on the blogroll for a very awesome kugelhof as chosen by yolanda from the all-purpose girl!)
but i don't want to leave you empty-handed, so let's revisit a week ago tonight, election night. what a strange ride this has been, when the only reasonable discussion of policy and politics i could have was with my republican cousin-in-law because everyone else in my immediate circle was an obamaholic who couldn't see beyond their own assumptions and stereotypes. i'm a 110% dyed in the wool liberal - love me or leave me - but go ahead and challenge me! i love to refine my arguments with debate and deconstruction until alas, you just have to concede that i was right all along ;-)
we had some people over for election night and wanted to serve a family style meal that was easy but comfy. we settled on roasted chicken, butternut squash risotto (that was awesome), and arugula salad (thanks J!)
so here's to change, here's to hope, and here's to turning that map a little more darn blue.
thyme roasted chicken with apples and bacon: serves 6
large whole chicken (ours was 5 lb)
1 bunch thyme
4 garlic cloves
3 slices turkey bacon, cooked
1 quart chicken broth
1 cup dry white wine
salt + pepper
1. preheat oven to 425F. rinse chicken inside and out; discard gizzard and neck.
2. dice apples and mix with lemon juice. slice garlic cloves and dice turkey bacon. toss all in bowl with a little olive oil, a couple thyme sprigs, and salt and pepper.
3. place remaining bunch thyme sprigs in roasting pan. stuff chicken with apple/garlic/bacon mix. rub with olive oil and season with salt and pepper (and other seasonings as desired). place on top of thyme sprigs.
4. roast in oven for 20 minutes. turn down to 325F and pour some of the chicken broth and all the white wine over chicken. continue to pour a little fresh broth on chicken every 20 minutes until roasted to an internal temp of 165F.
5. take out and let rest for half hour. carve and set on oven-proof platter with stuffing, pouring juices over the chicken/stuffing. put the platter back in the oven and bring back up to internal temp. serve sizzling and enjoy!
i have to sheepishly admit ... many times i go through my google reader and think so many things look delicious and i post a comment "got to try this soon!" - sometimes even a "definitely trying this out!" - and then i guiltily never come through on my encouraging promise.
but for some reason, this pasta e fagioli bucked the trend when i saw it on jen's blog use real butter. folks, i saw this yesterday and made it tonight ... that's how much i was impressed by this so simple, but so delicious supper soup!
i made some slight modifications based on what we had in the pantry, and our preferences. we used our favorite turkey bacon instead of the italian sausage, and navy beans instead of northern. we did splurge on the ditalini (oh when am i going to use this again?!) and we had fresh rosemary instead of dried (if you use fresh, add and remove with the cinnamon, not in the beginning as written in the recipe).
i worked later than usual tonight so i asked mr. mimi to have it ready for me when i came home (i know, spoiled by a professional chef!) and when i walked in the hallway, the spicy aroma - combination of cinnamon, rosemary, and vinegar - was sooo nice!! it was a perfect meal with some crusty bread, and even though i was tempted to halve the recipe i'm glad i didn't because i bet it will taste even better (as all soups inevitably do) for tomorrow's, and the next day's, and next day's lunch!
now you might notice that my soup doesn't really look like anything from jen's soup. although i'm sure her photographs benefit from natural mountain sunshine, my soup was definitely a dark red in real life too, so it could have something to do with brand of tomatoes i used. regardless, it tasted great, so who cares what color it came out!
plus! when i started getting ready to write this post and upload my photos i noticed that unbeknownst to me at the time of my clicking - both of us did a spoonful money shot. great pasta e fagioli minds think alike :-)
for the recipe, click here.
this post is going to be short and sweet as i have (at least what seems) a zillion things going on today.
when i was younger i loved hanukkah. and not just for the gifts! but latkes and rugelach were my favorite holiday treats that basically i pigged out on because they only came around once a year!
so how delighted i was when grace from piggy's cooking journal picked rugelach for this week's tuesday with dorie!
the recipe was super easy to follow. i used a combination of whatever i had on hand: cherry jam, walnuts, and golden raisins. i did not add the chocolate, as dorie suggests, because i'm one of those few stalwarts who thinks not everything tastes better with chocolate!
these were the best rugelach i've ever eaten, especially right after baking. the dough was so light and flaky, compared to the denser dough typically found at store or even bakery bought versions. next time i want to try rolling them a little bit more uniform in size/shape, but i can't wait to make these again for hanukkah!
for the recipe, click here. and to see everyone else's rugelach combinations, click through the blogroll!
these past four years have been wonderful.
you are my everything.
i will miss you when i leave next year. but that's why i love you. because you are always there for me, supporting me, my biggest cheerleader. i couldn't do this without you.
happy anniversary sweetie, here's to many more wonderful years!
i've said it before but i'll say it again: i love pizza. plain, white, vegetables - you name it, i love it. well, actually, i prefer my pizza meatless. is that an aberration?
anyhoo, what a happy surprise when rosa from rosa's yummy yums picked pizza for this month's daring bakers challenge. and it was even more special as this month's selection was in honor of sherry, who was to co-host with rosa, but who tragically passed away this summer.
i just had one wee mistake. i've only made pizza dough once before and it was made, proofed, and baked on the same day. so even though i waited to the very last minute - because i like to put the challenge in a daring bakers challenge! - i was cool as a cuc, and anticipating a fun night of when the moon hits your eye ....
but this recipe from peter reinhart instructs one to rest the dough in the refrigerator overnight before proceeding the next day .... frickety frick!!
well, there was not going to be any overnight rest and i made do with the time i had (about 3 hours in the fridge). this made the dough harder to work with as it was relatively warm and soft. i used more flour than usual to get it working. i also think next time i won't make the dough balls so small, as it is counter-intuitively easier to work with larger pieces of dough.
even without the longer fridge time, these pizza babies still came out terrific. it had a wonderful flavor, soft but crispy at the same time, it was great to bite into. but i felt badly i didn't do this recipe the justice it deserved. however, this is definitely going to be my go-to recipe for pizza dough from now on, so i'm excited to see just how amazing it can be!
for the recipe, from reinhart's the bread baker's apprentice, please check out rosa's blog. however please note the original recipe did not call for sugar, and listed oil as only suggested for high gluten flour like bread. for more pizzas check out the entire daring bakers blogroll, all zillion of them!
pizza #1: fresh mozzarella, anchovies, capers, hot chilis, and sauce (inspired from jaime oliver)
pizza #2: fresh mozzarella, artichokes, spanish olives, and sauce
pizza #3: gruyère, onions, garlic, mushrooms, and turkey bacon. um yeah, just forget about that first comment about meatless pizzas! this one was definitely my favorite, so damn tasty. i loved having the gruyère instead of mozzarella, it's more flavorful and such a good contrast to the earthy mushrooms and onions.
for this week's tuesdays with dorie, clara from the wonderful i heart food for thought chose chocolate-chocolate cupcakes and gently suggested doing a halloween theme for decoration.
there had been some lengthy discussion about the texture and crumb being dry, with lots of talk about ratios and flour weights. i don't think there are any "fool-proof" recipes (especially for baking) so i tend to think that any discrepancies mainly occur because of differences in conditions, particularly in the oven. so i decided to proceed as written, but keeping a careful watch on the baking time. i checked in 16 minutes and the toothpick came out wet; only 2 more minutes and it came out completely dry.
the result? well first, the batter was soo good! that bowl hardly had to go in the dishwasher i cleaned it so well myself - no shame!
and the cupcake? amazing! moist and chocolately. i did not have any problem with it being a crummy dry crumb. i suspect that was related to my 18 minutes baking, compared to dorie's written 22-25 minutes. i would've preferred a chocolate buttercream, but that's just me (or is it you, too?)
i wasn't at all creative in the halloween department. but do you ever need a pretty reason to eat a chocolately chocolate cupcake??
for the recipe, please click here!
tonight is the deadline for think spice ... think paprika! so get your spicy on, whip up a paprikan inspired dinner and email me the deets!
for more info about paprika and info on the event, click here. to see the chicken paprikash i made, click here.
for the more technologically advanced ... how do i deal with the fact that screens display color and brightness so differently? is there any way to compensate when using photoshop so that a digital photograph is rendered visually the same on any screen?
i am researching how to calibrate my own screen for color management; but assuming that most people don't go that far, is there any way to be in control of how others see my photos (who don't calibrate their screens)?
savory tarts are one of my favorite meals.
i had bookmarked this alsace onion tart a couple of months ago. caramelized onions in a tart? i'm happy to report it tasted as amazing as it sounds!
we used turkey bacon to assuage our fat intake guilt, and of course it tasted just as lovely. i was tempted to add a sprinkling of gruyère, but decided to leave the recipe as written. i never think a little bit of cheese makes anything taste badly, but this tart was perfectly creamy and rich just the way it was.
for the recipe, click here (from gourmet 2004, posted on epicurious).
only one more week to go!
nablowrimo has been fun, although tedious at times and because i want it to be interesting on the user-end i at least have tried to post something culinary-related almost each day.
but here i am, stretching it so to speak in the home stretch.
because a post about stock isn't inherently interesting. but oh so important. in the winter i am a big fan of making my own stock. of course, that was always vegetable stock. but now that i have gone to the dark side of omnivory, i wanted to start off the season with some easy chicken stock from leftover parts and bones saved from the think spice dish.
and home made stock is so so easy there is absolutely no reason for you not to make it yourself. besides some chopping at the beginning there is nothing you else you have to do. you can do a big batch and freeze individual sizes. plus, you get to use up the bits and bobs of the vegetables from the week so they don't go to waste (unless you compost). but the real reason to do it is to make everything you make taste that. much. better!
my go-to easy stock is the from deborah madison's vegetarian cooking for everyone (you know, my favorite book of all time). i simply added the parts/bones after the vegetables had browned a little bit, and browned them some more before adding the water. i found her "quick stock" posted over at brin eats. i think the only difference between her "quick stock" and her regular "vegetable stock" is double the carrots and celery. but the quantity of items is not a science, and you can improvise easily. i always add peppercorns and leeks. this time i added chives because i had them (but no fresh thyme).
the next morning my kitchen still smells like that simmering stock from last night. which, i guess, could be a good or bad thing ;-)
it's a pumpkin kind of time. i first saw these whoopies over at peabody and knew i had to make them. then by chance a couple days later i actually bought the baked book myself and still knew i had to make them.
they didn't come out as domed and cracked on the tops as i would have liked. but my goodness, these were amazing. so spicy! i loved them. i'm glad i halved the recipe otherwise i would have been in real trouble. as it is, i'm already ashamed to admit how many i ate in one day, oh it was a perfectly delicious, gluttonous day!
i promise, if you make these, you will love them!
pumpkin whoopie pies: makes 12 large pies
from baked (2008, p. 151)
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
2 tb cinnamon
1 tb ginger
1 tb cloves
2 cups firmly packed dark brown sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
3 cups chilled pumpkin purée (yes, the chilling is important)
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla
3 cups confectioners' sugar
1 stick butter, softened
8 oz cream cheese, softened
1 tsp vanilla
1. preheat oven to 350F. line two baking sheets with parchment.
2. whisk together flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves; set aside.
3. in separate bowl, whisk brown sugar and oil together until combined. add pumpkin purée and whisk to combine thoroughly. add eggs and vanilla and whisk until combined.
4. sprinkle flour mixture over pumpkin mixture and whisk until completely combined.
5. drop heaping tablespoon of dough onto prepared baking sheets, about 1 inch apart. bake 10-12 minutes, until cookies are just starting to crack on top and toothpick comes out clean from center of cookie. remove from oven and let cookies cool completely on the pan while making the filling.
6. sift confectioners' sugar into bowl and set aside. in bowl of electric mixer with paddle attachment, beat butter until completely smooth. add cream cheese and beat until combined.
7. add confectioners' sugar and vanilla and beat until smooth, but be careful not to overbeat.
8. turn half of the cooled cookies upside down (flat side up). drop a large scoop of filling on to flat side of the cookie. place another cookie, flat side down, on top of the filling. smooch a little so the filling spreads. put the whoopie pies in the fridge for about 30 minutes to firm up before serving.