Wednesday, May 30, 2007


As much as I enjoy writing about food I've prepared, it's just as much fun to write about food other people make or give to me. This evening, having to work late work on a proposal, a friend brought food to my office so that I wouldn't go hungry as I burned the midnight oil. He brought my favorite pizza, the Margherita, from my favorite pizza place. We ate 1 slice together while I took a break, and then made sure I ate my second piece in between frantic bouts of typing. Every 5 minutes or so there would a be gentle, "take a bite, chew slowly, enjoy." What a treat. What a friend!

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Blueberry Muffins

Isn't it a treat when you wake up in the morning to smell of blueberry muffins fresh from the oven? I rolled out of bed and into the kitchen to find these warm muffins sitting in a basket waiting just for me. I thought this recipe was lovely especially since whole wheat flour was used. The taste is hardier, perhaps a little nutty (?) and different if you are not accustomed to using whole wheat flour but nonetheless really nice and more filling. They were divine on their own and I imagine great with a pat of butter!

This recipe comes for The Good Housekeeping Illustrated Cookbook.

-2 cups all-purpose flour (1 cup was whole wheat flour)
-1/2 cup sugar
-1T baking powder
-1/2 tsp salt
-1 egg
-1 cup milk
-1/4 cup oil
-3/4 c fresh blueberries


Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a large bowl, mix flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. In a small bowl, beat egg slightly then stir milk and oil into beaten egg. Add egg mixture all at once to flour with blueberries, and stir until flour is just moistened (there should be lumps). Spoon into pan, and make for 20 to 25 minutes. Immediately remove from pan onto wire rack to cool. Serve warm.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Potato, Mushroom, and Kale Frittata

How am I supposed to gain weight if I don't have time to eat, much less cook? I've been working late and coming home late. Last night I was home by 7:30 (an early night) or so and it was so tempting to just eat the Indian leftover options but I just didn't have it in me. I'm tired of Indian food and tired of eating food that I didn't make myself. In any case, I forced myself to make something and this is what I came up with.

While at the grocery store over the weekend, I decided to make a frittata but I wanted it to be different than the one I previously blogged about with bell peppers and onions. I love mushrooms so I decided to grab some cremini (mini portabellas) and then was hemming and hawing about spinach until I came across multi-colored kale. The leaf parts are green but the stems were all sorts of different colors. Not sure if the colors do anything to the flavor but it was pretty and inexpensive so why not? The California spinach contamination is still too fresh in my memory to even consider using it. After all, I do want to live to share my cooking stories.

So I prepared this dish the same way I prepared the other frittata starting with the a little bit of oil and sauteing the potatoes. Then after 5 minutes I added the salt, thyme, and mushrooms. Then I added the kale which I finely chopped up in the food processor. So I get through making this when I realized that I only had 2 eggs! Two! How can you possibly make a frittata with just two eggs? You can't. I was too lazy to go to the grocery store and too stubborn to let this go. After all, it had taken the last bit of energy to make the darned thing, so I called MJ, my neighbor down the street, who kindly gave me two eggs. This reminded me of the time I visited the south of France and I was staying with friends and we would go over to their neighbor's to get freshly laid eggs because the neighbor had chickens! Of all things, and it wasn't like we were out in the country. We were in Martigues! There's nothing like freshly laid French eggs, let me tell you. There's also nothing like a French Croissant with chocolate.

Anyway, I digress. This recipe is less massive than the other frittata, I used 4 eggs instead of the usual 5.

I think the frittata turned out great and the flavor, while the herbs were same, tasted completely different. It was an easy way to get a green vegetable in the diet without noticing it too much. Not sure what my nutritionist would have to say about that since he said I needed to up the protein and fat, and decrease the amount of vegetables I eat. Never thought I would live to hear that I should be eating fewer fruits and vegetables. Hey, I should enjoy this while it lasts. In any case, I got my protein.

Really the first dish I kind of made up on my own! Yeah!

Monday, May 21, 2007

What a Small World!

This world is so small and my belief that everybody on this earth are some how connected came to fruition again this afternoon. Alex, my friend, shared with me that he and his really good friend, Genie who now lives in Iowa (previously in Washington, DC) were talking about the strawberry shortcake that I made for Alex's birthday and how I blog about the food I make. Genie was like "Hey wait a minute, I think I know that blog!!! How weird that I know your friend's blog and never knew she was your friend!"

Isn't that so freaking cool?

I appreciate that Alex would call me in the middle of the day to share this story with me. It made my day.

Genie has a great blog of her own about her gardening adventures. She wasn't much of a gardener when she lived in DC but that changed when she move to Iowa. Her blog, the Inadvertent Gardener, can be found at It's awesome. Check it out.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Blackberry Pie

This time of year just screams for pies because of all the wonderful fruit that's available. Admittedly, I used frozen berries. For one thing, they hold their shape better and they're a lot cheaper. I could have easily spent $20 on berries just to get the amount I needed for the recipe! One day I hope to have a berry patch of my own.

I wonder if berry plants do well in containers. I imagine probably not because they sort of sprawl. Growing up, we used to have a boysenberry plant in our yard. It was so worth it to get pricked by those awful needles just to taste one of those succulent berries.

In any case, I'm going to discuss how to make the pie crust because it's fool proof and it only uses butter, no shortening. I messed up today yet the pie still looks grand I think! This recipe comes from Cook's Illustrated and it was my 3rd time making the crust.

Makes 1 9-inch double-crust pie shell

-2 1/2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
-1 tsp salt
-1 T sugar
-16 T unsalted butter
-3 T sour cream
-1/3 cup ice water

-Process flour, salt, and sugar together in the food processor until combined, about 3 seconds. Add butter and pulse until butter is the size of large peas, about 10 1-second pulses.

- Using fork, mix sour cream and 1/3 cup ice water in a bowl until combined. Add half of sour cream mixture to flour mixture; pulse for three 1-second pulses. Repeat with remaining sour cream mixture. Pinch dough with fingers; if dough is floury, dry and does not hold together, add 1 to 2 tablespoons ice water and process until dough forms large clumps and no dry flour remains, three to give 1-second pulses.

- Turn dough onto work surface. Divide dough into 2 balls and flatten each into a 4-inch disk; wrap each disk in plastic and refrigerate until firm but not hard, 1 to 2 hours before rolling. (Dough can be fridged for up to 24 hours. Let thoroughly chilled dough stand at room temperature for 15 minutes before rolling).

Rolling the Dough Out
Roll disk out between large
2 large sheets of parchment paper to 12-inch circle (about 1/8 inch had success with the bottom crust but had terrible luck with the top crust.) It's clever because you remove parchment from one side of the dough round, and flip (easier to flip parchment than a granite slab!) it into 9-inch pie plate; and then you peel off the second layer! Working around the circumference of the pie late, ease dough into plate by gently lifting the edge of the dough with one hand while pressing into plate bottom with other hand.

During the roll out, if the dough becomes soft or sticky, put back in the fridge until it gets hard again.

It's really important that all the ingredients are chilled so that the butter does not melt. Having little butter pieces cut into the flour is what make this crust flake. Apparently, shortening flakes beautifully and is easier to work with but it's so bad for you. So I chill everything including the flour, salt, and sugar for 30 minutes. I also placed fridged butter and water in the freezer for 30 minutes to help keep everything as cold as possible.

The challenge is rolling it out. Use a fair amount of flour, it really helps when rolling it out and will prevent the dough from sticking to the surface it's rolling out on. Normally I roll it on a granite slab but today I tried using the parchment paper method described above. It worked for the first dough disk but not the second. It's possible that I rolled it too thin and it got soft. I placed the rolled out dough in the fridge to harden again but when I went to peel the dough, it ripped and a lot of it was stuck to the parchment. Yikes! So I had to take what was left, reform a disk, and placed it in the fridge for 15 minutes before I rolling it out again. I was convinced that it would not turn out because I could no longer see the flecks of butter (it's not a good sign if you don't) but it did!

Personally, I like rolling out the dough on the counter or other work surface. While the flip trick is kind of neat the whole sticking business was enough to turn me off.

Oh, after rolling out the first piece, place it in the fridge so that it remains firm and butter solidifies again so that it can flake. After rolling the second piece, also place it in the fridge to firm up before assembling the pie together. The blackberry pie ingredients are the same as what I used for the blueberry pie which I blogged about in December/January except of course for the blackberries!

I certainly enjoy eating what I bake but it is so much better when you share food with others. It just tastes better. Why does it? Today I shared with my neighbors with 6 cats and 1 dog who provided vanilla ice cream as an accompaniment (not the pets but the neighbors!) . I think they enjoyed it. P&P, thanks for having me over.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Strawberry Shortcake

I would say not bad for a first try. My friend was right about the dough being a little sticky. I added a bit more milk than the 3/4 c the recipe called for because the dough was a little dry with a bit of loose flour on the bottom of the bowl. I surmise that because I used 1/2 white whole wheat flour, it needed a bit more milk. Regardless of what type of flour you use, I think starting with 3/4 cup is a good place to start. You can always add more but once it's added you can't get it out!

I thought the flavor, for only having 1/4 c butter, was awesome, and I added 1 tsp of sugar instead of the optional 1 T. My friend also gave me a recipe for super rich short cake which I might have to try out the next time. If this one was very good, imagine how the rich recipe must taste! I can't wait.

This recipe is super simple and took about 15 minutes to bring it all together! So quick, so easy, and everyone was so impressed that I made shortcake.

I rolled out the dough on the Silpat (thank you friends for this suggestion) and the dough just peeled right off, kind of like pulling off a fruit roll (Apricot is my favorite flavor) off the plastic wrap!

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Red Pepper & Broccoli Ginger Stir Fry

I was told by a nutritionist that I need to eat fewer vegetables (and eat more fat) to gain weight! Who would have thought? Apparently, I need to use more oil, butter, and juice to get extra calories in my diet without thinking about it too much. Vegetables are really fibrous so they're really filling but not calorie dense. But I'm attracted to vegetables and with a head of broccoli and red pepper in the fridge calling out to be me used, I decided to make a stir fry for dinner. Prepared in 30 minutes, it's a easy to prepare and packed with nutrients!

Cooking Time: 30 minutes
Serves 2

-1 T canola oil
-1 head of broccoli
-1 red pepper
-lots of fresh ginger
-good quality soy sauce

Chop broccoli into medium size spears and slice up red pepper into strips. Heat canola oil over medium heat and add ginger. Add broccoli and saute until bright green. Add red pepper strips. Cover pot for 5-10 minutes until vegetables are tender. Add soy sauce to taste. Serve with brown rice.

I didn't add enough ginger because that zing that ginger brings was missing. I think perhaps I should have added the ginger after the broccoli because it got really brown, and almost burned so I don't think that helped. Over all though, not bad and it was quick and edible.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007


So I haven't made these but I will be for a friend's 34th birthday BBQ on Saturday. Here's the recipe -- so simple. I'll try it out, take pictures, and report back shortly.


-2 cups flour (half could be white whole wheat flour)
-3 tsps baking powder
-1/2 tsp salt
-1/4 cup butter
-3/4 cup milk
-1 T sugar (optional)

Cut butter into dry ingredients until you have coarse like meal. Add milk, mix together until absorbed. Roll or pat out to about 1/2 inch thick, or a little thicker. Cut out and bake at 375 until lightly browned, around 15 minutes.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Pancakes Revisted

I'm addicted to pancakes and want to try every variation. I don't know why but it's the food that I've been craving the most (outside of bacon, yes bacon!). So I decided to take my friend's advice and substitute half of the all purpose flour with white whole wheat flour, and the pancakes were just delicious, especially with the addition of frozen blueberries which are ideal for pancakes because they hold their shape better than fresh ones.

The one notable difference, and I don't necessarily think it's a bad one, is that they are more dense and less light. This makes sense given the use of white whole wheat flour. The flavor is more full and satisfying. The added bonus, especially for me, is that I wasn't hungry 30 minutes after breakfast like I normally am after eating a huge pancake breakfast.

Friends came down to join in on the fun and festivities, bringing much needed strawberries and peaches to reduce the carb load. Much merry making was had by all with the swapping of some amazingly hilarious short stories that should really be penned just so we can remember them with the clarity they truly deserve. We would have been rolling on the floor if not for the hard wood. Stories, like good food, are meant to be shared with people that you love and care about, like the meal we had today.