June 27, 2010
For those who don’t know, the mom is a health freak. Thanks to her, every time I look at a recipe for some kind of baked good, all I can focus on are the number of sticks of butter listed under “Ingredients”. (2 sticks? 3 sticks? Who does this recipe think I am – Paula Deen?!) If it calls for too many sticks of butter, I don’t bake.
Wait, what? Baking without butter?
Yeah, I know. (As you can guess, I bake very, very rarely.)
I had basically resigned myself to a life sans baking until recently, when someone tipped me off to baking with yogurt. I was already familiar with swapping apple sauce for oil in some recipes but to do the same with yogurt and butter? You’ve basically opened up the world for me!
This knowledge came in really handy when I recently had one of my sporadic urges to bake. I knew I had a tub of greek yogurt in the fridge and a quickly went to the web to dig up a good recipe. Wouldn’t you know, my favorite food recipe blog of all time – Smitten Kitchen – had a quick and easy recipe for a yogurt cake. I had no limes so I swapped it for an orange and didn’t bother with the sauce seeing that I had no other fruits in the fridge. (Considering how much food we buy every week, my fridge is always surprisingly bare.)
When I took the final product out of the oven, I was happy to find that the cake itself was actually very fragrant, especially since I zested the entire orange. (I used fresh squeezed juice from that same orange for the recipe too.) Not only that, even though I overbaked it just a tad, it was also quite moist and not too dense. I think, if I make an orange cake the next time around, I’m going to make a cranberry glaze for it…like, oranges and cranberries for the holidays? Who knows. All I know is, be prepared for more baking recipes with yogurt in them!
Orange Yogurt Cake
Modified From: Lime Yogurt Cake with Blackberry Sauce by Smitten Kitchen
* 1 cup plain unsweetened whole milk yogurt
* 1/3 cup vegetable oil
* 1 cup sugar
* zest of one orange
* 1/4 cup orange juice
* 2 eggs
* 1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
* 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
* 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
* 1/8 teaspoon salt
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease the sides of a 9-inch round cake pan or springform pan with oil and line the bottom with parchment paper if the pan is not springform. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the yogurt, oil, sugar, orange zest and juice. Add the eggs one by one, whisking well after each addition. Sift flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt together, right over your yogurt batter. Stir with a spoon until just combined.
Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until the top is golden brown and a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Transfer the pan to a cooling rack and let stand for 10 minutes. Run a knife around the pan to loosen. If you’re using the springform pan, unclasp the sides. Otherwise, flip the cake onto a plate and flip it back on the rack. Serve slightly warm or at room temperature.
May 1, 2010
I don’t usually write about things as mundane as making myself lunch, but for some reason I felt the urge to document today’s…so I am. (Oh, the joys of running your own site!)
I opened the fridge this morning, hoping to make myself some french toast or maybe a grilled cheese a la “The Afterburn” but, upon opening the fridge, I realized that just wasn’t going to happen.
(I opened the fridge; I was greeted with this.)
Now, if you follow my twitter account, you know I am not a creative cook. In the half dozen times I’ve actually cooked this year, because I’ve tried to “challenge myself as a chef” (that’s how I describe it), I’ve created two failed frittatas and one failed angel food cake. Therefore, when faced with a semi-empty fridge, I’m not going to attempt to do anything more than make myself a sandwich. (I was just hoping there would be enough in the fridge for me to piece one together.)
Lucky for me, I found three ingredients to sandwich between bread.
(I even labeled the picture for you!)
For lunch, I made myself a bacon, tomato and avocado sandwich.
…Before I continue – are people still reading? Are you wondering why I had an urge to write about an empty refrigerator and a stupid sandwich?
Well, here’s my tidbit story:
When I was a kid, the mom used to take the brother and I to these educational prep courses every weekend. Class was always around lunchtime so the brother and I would either eat at home and then jet to class or, if we didn’t have time to do that, we would go to the neighborhood sandwich shop a couple doors down after class and order a sandwich.
That sandwich shop was the first place I ever had a BLT sandwich. As kids, we had pretty healthy diets and bacon is…not really healthy (to say the least). Thus, I remember the idea of using bacon as a lunch meat substitute BLEW MY MIND. Once we figured out we could build a bacon sandwich, the brother and I made BLTs all the time, usually including avocado in the sandwich because we always had avocados on hand. (We may be Asian, but we love our avocados!)
Fast forward to today – I honestly can’t remember the last time I made a sandwich out of bacon; I definitely haven’t had one in years. But with that first bite of bread and bacon and tomato and avocado, I instantaneously remembered that sandwich shop and homemade bacon sandwiches as a kid.
I had a bacon, tomato and avocado sandwich for lunch today. It was really good.
February 24, 2010
Just this past week, I’ve become obsessed with couscous and quinoa. Like, totally obsessed. I think it’s their texture – the seediness of quinoa, the globular grains of coucous – I just can’t get enough!
So when I decided to cook this weekend and found a recipe for a quinoa salad, I knew I had to make it. All the fresh veggies were on sale at the local ethnic market for ridiculous prices – it was A SIGN. (Side tangent: I bought a bunch of radishes, a handful of parsley, a large cucumber, half a pound of green beans and two lemons for a little over $1.50. How this market makes money, I have no idea.) Sadly, while scouring the aisles, I realized they didn’t carry quinoa, but they did carry Israeli couscous (the larger sized ones of the various types available) and I decided to just swap the two.
Just a note: It’s probably not a good idea to make this too far in advance. After an extended period of storage, the red wine vinegar from the pickled radishes start to seep into the couscous. Otherwise, it’s great if you’re looking for a light, fresh salad to dive into.
Couscous Salad with Pickled Radishes and Feta
Modified From: Quinoa Salad with Pickled Radishes and Feta from Food & Wine Magazine, July 2008
ACTIVE: 30 MIN
TOTAL TIME: 1 HR 15 MIN
* 1 cup red wine vinegar
* 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
* 4 medium radishes, very thinly sliced
* 1/2 pound thin green beans
* 1 cup toasted Israeli couscous
* 1 large English cucumber, halved lengthwise, seeded and cut into 1/4-inch dice
* 3 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
* Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
* 2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
* 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
* 6 ounces Greek feta cheese, thinly sliced
In a small saucepan, bring the red wine vinegar to a simmer with the sugar. Remove from the heat and add the radish slices. Let stand until cool, about 1 hour.
Meanwhile, in a large saucepan of salted boiling water, blanch the green beans until they are crisp-tender, about 3 minutes. Drain and rinse the beans under cold water until cool. Pat the beans dry and cut them into 1 1/2-inch lengths.
In a medium saucepan, bring 2 cups of water to a boil. Add the couscous, cover and simmer over low heat until all of the water has been absorbed. Uncover and let stand until cool.
In a medium bowl, toss the cucumber with 1/2 tablespoon of the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. In a large bowl, toss the couscous with the parsley, lemon juice and the remaining 3 tablespoons of olive oil; season with salt and pepper. Drain the radishes and add them to the couscous, along with the beans, cucumber and feta. Toss well and serve.
Yield: 6 servings
January 3, 2010
I have to write a little background bio before I get into my first FAIL of 2010.
Before you continue reading, please believe me when I say, “I CAN COOK”.
I seriously can. I promise.
When I was a wee UCLA bruin, living in my beloved apartment in Westwood, I cooked often. My business fraternity would have periodic cook-off competitions – I participated in two; I placed in both. I’ve made tiramisu from scratch (lady fingers included). I’ve prepared tri-tip roasts large enough to feed a pledge class (maybe even two). I’ve cooked Thanksgiving dinner for the past three years (minus the turkey this past year). I KNOW I CAN COOK.
That said, please don’t judge me on this post. I’ll admit today was a total cooking failure…but I can cook! I promise!
When I woke up this morning, I decided: It’s 2010 now! It’s a year of action and change and awesomeness! I am going to cook a frittata and take pictures and post it on The Food Ledger and be a food blogger and this is going to rock!!
…Uh, not quite.
First off, I haven’t seriously cooked since college (some 2.5 years ago) so my skills are a bit rusty, to say the least. Excluding the annual Thanksgiving dinner, how often do I touch a stove during the year? I’ll give you a hint: I can probably count on one hand. Definitely on two. (Strike one.)
Secondly, I’ve never made a frittata before. I’ve never used a cast iron skillet before. I’ve never used a cast iron skillet to make a frittata before. I had no idea what I was doing. My onions turned out quite nicely, but the potatoes were undercooked and kept sticking to the skillet and my eggs didn’t rise as nicely as they were supposed to. Not quite the perfect frittata I envisioned. (Strike two.)
Lastly…Who am I kidding? I may be able to cook but I am in no way a chef. Things don’t come out pretty with me; food comes out on a plate, a little lopsided but tasting the way it should. But that’s not what pretty food blogs look like…Pretty food blogs are, well, pretty. I tried making three potatoes look artsy today and let me just say, it’s hard making food look pretty. I can’t even make my failed frittata look appetizing. *tears* (Strike three.)
…So I guess you can argue that I was doomed from the beginning. I claim I was just overly ambitious.
In the end, I really can’t consider it a total failure. It actually tasted okay (minus the overly pungent gorgonzola I added last minute). Plus, this gives me my first tangible resolution of 2010:
Resolution #1: Make an awesome, beautiful frittata by the end of the year.
Now onto the recipe and pictures:
Potato and Caramelized Onion Frittata with Gorgonzola Recipe
From: The Balsamic Vinegar Cookbook by Meesha Halm
ACTIVE: 45 MIN
TOTAL TIME: 1 HR
* 2 Tablespoons butter, unsalted
* 2 large yellow onion, cut 1/8 inch thick
* 1/4 teaspoon salt
* 1 dash freshly ground black pepper
* 2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
* 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
* 5 medium red potatoes, unpeeled
* 2 Tablespoons olive oil
* 1 teaspoon salt, divided
* 3/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
* 10 large eggs
* 2 teaspoons fresh rosemary, chopped
* 2 ounces Gorgonzola cheese, crumbled
In a medium nonstick skillet, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the onions, salt, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper. Cook, stirring often to avoid scorching, until the onions are very soft and deep golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes. Stir in the balsamic vinegar and sugar and cook until the vinegar is reduced to a glaze, about 1 minute. Keep the onions warm. (The onions can be prepared up to three days ahead, covered, and refrigerated. Reheat before using.)
Parboil potatoes in salted water for 10 minutes. Drain and rinse under cold water until cool enough to handle. Cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices, then chop coarsely.
In a 9- to 10-inch nonstick ovenproof skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the potatoes, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Cook, uncovered, turning the potatoes occasionally, until they are browned and tender, 12 to 15 minutes. Spread the potatoes as evenly as possible in the skillet.
Position the broiler rack about 6 inches from the source of heat and preheat the broiler. In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs, rosemary, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper until well-combined. Pour over the potatoes and reduce the heat to medium-low. Using a rubber spatula, lift up the cooked part of the frittata and tilt the skillet to allow the uncooked eggs to run underneath. Continue cooking, occasionally lifting the frittata and tilting the skillet as described until the top is almost set, approximately 5 minutes. Sprinkle with the Gorgonzola cheese. Broil until the frittata is puffed and the top is set, approximately 1 minute.
To serve, spread the top of the frittata with the warm onions and cut into wedges. Serve hot or warm.
Yield: 6 servings