Monday, April 30, 2007

Whole Wheat Flour

I'm on this massive quest to get more whole grains and nutrients into my diet so I decided to purchase King Arthur White Whole Wheat Flour. A quarter cup has 3 grams of fiber but it's a lot easier to integrate and use than regular whole wheat flour. Of course, I bought the flour and it promptly sat on my shelf for the next two months because I didn't know if I could use it as a complete substitute or not. I have good intentions but implementation is sometimes difficult.

So my friend, the baking/cooking king that he is, suggested substituting out half of the regular all purpose flour with the white whole wheat, to get equal if not better tasting results. This is how he made the short bread for the strawberry shortcake (recipe to come) and I thought it tasted amazing. He also suggested doing this substitution with cookies (perhaps it would mitigate the effects of 2 sticks of butter in the oatmeal chocolate chip cookies... then again, perhaps not!) and pizza crust.

Friends are coming again this weekend so I'll have to try making pancakes with the wheat flour. I'll report back then on how they turned out, with pictures.

FYI, King Arthur flour is the best flour to work with. I discovered it last year and have always had remarkable results.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Whole Wheat Pasta

Truthfully, I have not been a fan. But semolina based pasta has absolutely no nutritional value whatsoever. When I looked at the packaging, I realized I was eating empty calories so I decided to give wheat pasta another try.

Whole Foods actually makes a good quality, inexpensive organic wheat pasta. You do have it cook it well otherwise it has that 'raw' taste that you really want to avoid. Unlike other pastas, you do not want to take it out al dente because it will taste undercooked, and you definitely don't want that when eating a good pasta dish.

I personally find that the whole wheat pasta enhances the overall flavor of the dish.

Strawberry Short Cake Teaser

What do good friends do for you? I cannot possibly name them all but they go grocery shopping, make your bed, clean, buy flowers, call you regularly, make you do things that you would not normally do, cook, and so much more that I cannot even describe.

My friend is an amazing cook and he spent the last few days few days making the most tempting treats and foods one can possibly imagine. One day I came home to find to find a beautiful arrangement of flowers and homemade strawberry short cake (both the cake and whip cream). What a dear friend!

My friend will shortly share the recipe at which point I will try to make shortcake myself and write about it on the blog. In the mean time, did you know the simplest way to get your strawberries to juice is to just throw in a tsp of sugar and let it sit? I didn't know. It not only enhances the flavor of strawberries but also gets the juices to run in a way that is just perfect for shortcake.

I tip my hat to this friend -- you know who you are. I think you are an amazing human being.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Silpat vs. Parchment Paper

So I did a test between silpat and parchment paper to see what is the easier to work with terms of getting cookies off the cookie sheet, and hands down parchment paper wins. The cookies just slide off -- no sticking! In fact, I could reuse the parchment. The cookies still stuck to the silpat and for me the results were as if I had baked the cookies on the cookie sheets themselves.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies Revisted

A great friend is in town and we decided to bake oatmeal chocolate chip cookies this evening. He convinced me to bake them longer (17-20 minutes) as opposed to my usual 12, and they turned out even more amazing than I could have imagined. They actually browned and stayed chewy. I also substituted 1 cup regular rolled oats for 1 cup quick oats because I didn't have enough quick oats, and the recipe was just fine.

I guess the lesson learned is that I need to work with my oven more rather than follow a recipe so stringently that I don't get the desired result.

Thursday, April 19, 2007


There is nothing worse than a rubbery and tough pancake that tastes like it comes from a box. Pancakes are one of the most scrumptious, most simple foods you can make yet folks some times tend to reach for the box. Even good restaurants can't seem to get it right which is why I try not to order them when I go out. Such a disappointment.

This recipe is solid and simple. You will have amazingly light, fluffy, and golden pancakes, I promise. This recipe comes from Mark Bittman, The Minimalist, food columnist for the New York Times. He makes foods that are good, simple, and fast.

Makes 4 Servings
Cooking Time: 5 minutes for batter prep, 10 minutes to make depending on your griddle size.

-2 C flour
-2 C milk
-1/4 tsp salt
-1 tsp baking powder
-1 egg
-1 T sugar (optional)

Stir dry ingredients together. Whip egg and add to dry mixture. Also add milk. Stir until everything is just blended. Lumps -- fahgeddaboutit! Rubbery pancakes occur when the batter is stirred too much, and excess stirring allows the gluten to develop, which makes flour based foods more tough.

Heat griddle, slather on some butter. If you want, throw in frozen blueberries (not thawed) or chocolate chips. Overripe bananas are great too but add this after you have spooned the batter onto the griddle, and then gently push in. If using bananas, use lower heat or bananas may burn.

Flip pancakes when you see lots of bubbles forming on the top.

Eat with good quality maple syrup, powder sugar or whatever your heart desires. Personally, my favorite is a high quality berry jam.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Veggie Red Thai Curry

Wow! It's been such a long time since I posted. Life happened and now I'm making my life happen again, including writing and updating this blog a bit better. So last night I made a vegetarian red Thai curry and it was excellent. It was so simple, I could hardly call it cooking.

All you need are a bunch of your favorite vegetables and Trader Joe's Thai Red Curry Sauce.
Makes 2-4 servings depending on how many veggies you use
Cooking Time: 30 minutes

-A few heads of broccoli (cut into spears)
-2 large carrots sliced at an angle
-1 red bell pepper

At other times, I've also included tofu, mushrooms, and onions.

Heat pan to medium, using neutral oil like Canola. If using onions, start with those, you can't overcook them. Then add the vegetables that take the longest to cook, like carrots. Saute for 5-7 minutes or so, and then add broccoli until it becomes bright green. Then add peppers, mushrooms, tofu and other vegetables that take no time to cook. Do not cook vegetables through because they need to simmer in the sauce and finish cooking then.

Add Red Curry sauce and lower heat to a simmer for 15 minutes. Serve with your favorite rice.

How simple is that?!