Tuesday, January 31, 2006

I Must Photograph You!

Originally uploaded by monkeycat!.
I'll admit right at the eighth word... I didn't make this cake. Antonia's mom made it for dinner on Friday night. One day I will make this wonderful cake - the fruity, chocolatey sachertorte. I believe it was invented in Austria [wikipedia]. Mine may not have a fancy napkin on the plate, but it did have a easy-to-make custard sauce (creme anglaise) to swim in. When Antonia and I were in Dinan, France, the chocolate cake that we had also was swimming in a creme anglaise and that cake was awesome. My little slice was striving for awesomeness.
I found this recipe on epicurious.com and I think it is great because it is made with no milk. I've found that soy milk can be used in almost anything that milk is used in - it just may need more reducing to thicken.
Anyway, the recipe is here.


Monday, January 30, 2006

Holy god that's a lot of money

Apparently a couple of bottles of wine sold at auction for ungodly sums of money. Check it out, have a small stroke, and do a double take.

Wine is Art [via Fermentation]

Friday, January 27, 2006

The Joy of Tofu, or Honey Tofu with Poppy Seeds

Honey Tofu with Poppy Seeds
Originally uploaded by monkeycat!.
I love tofu. It's true. I'll admit that congealed soy curd is not the most appealing phrase to the ears, but oh, does my tongue love it. Admittedly, enjoying tofu is an acquired fondness. I think most of the acclimatization comes in getting used to the feel of tofu in the mouth, not the taste. Tastewise, tofu is a lot like mushrooms- they taste like whatever they are in or with.
Tofu is healthy, light, and easy to prepare.

So, if you don't already enjoy tofu, I plead with you to learn to love it - one day it might be our only form of sustenance.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Chicken Breast Stuffed with Shitake Mushrooms, Rice and Shallots

Last night when I got home, I offered to make Antonia dinner.

This is what came out :)

Chicken Breasts Stuffed with Shitake Mushrooms, Rice and Shallots with Potato Stacks.

Chicken Breasts

2 Chicken breasts, trimmed of fat and pat dry with paper towels
1 shallot
10 shitake mushrooms
1/2 c cooked rice
olive oil
2 Yukon Gold potatoes

To make the stuffing, I ran the shallot and mushrooms through the food processor (my Christmas present from Antonia!) until minced. With no food processor, I would have just chopped very fine with a knife.
I combined the mushroom mixture with the rice and a teaspoon of olive oil to bind it together. Salt and pepper were added.
I cut slits in the chicken breasts from the thick side - I slid the knife in the fat end and then rotated my wrist to cut a slit while trying to keep the opening relatively small. I then stuffed the stuffing into the slit. The tops of the chicken were rubbed with olive oil and salt, pepper and paprika'd. These were placed in a baking dish with a little bit of olive oil down to prevent sticking.

Potato Stacks

I took the 2 potatoes and sliced them as thin as I could with a knife. If you have a mandolin, you could probably get away with 1 potato - I had a lot of screw-up slices.
I brushed some olive oil on a sheet pan and lay the potatoes down, olive-oiled the top and added salt and pepper.

Cooking! Yeah!

The chicken started in the oven at 425°F. 10 minutes went by and I added the potatoes in. For the next 5 minutes both continued to cook at the same temperature. With 5 minutes left (or after 5 more minutes, being out of a total 20), I turned the oven up to 475°F. 3 More minutes and the potatoes came out, basically because they were starting to burn. 2 more minutes and teh chicken came out.

I took the most crisp 2 potato slices and used them for the top and bottom, and filled in the stack with the rest.

The salad was spinach and almonds with a mango dressing, prepared by Antonia.

The chicken was cooked perfectly. The stuffing could have used more flavor - cheese (try Mahon - its a Spanish cheese), thyme, sage, rosemary - all of which we didn't have. This would have made it a lot tastier.
The potato stack were great, I liked them a lot. I would add rosemary to some of the potato slices, too, if I had had the chance.

There it is, last night's dinner. The wine is a Pinto Grigio/Chardonnay blend from Cline Cellars - very fruity and easy to drink.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Macaroni and Cheese

Macaroni and Cheese
Originally uploaded by monkeycat!.
After looking at the mouth-watering Coquillettes au Comte et Pousses d'Epinard", I had a hankering to introduce my variation on the ubiquitous theme.

Greg's Macaroni and Cheese

4 oz. gemelli, cooked al dente
2 tbs milk (I used soy milk - its what I have)
2-3oz Humboldt Fog cheese or any good goat cheese

Heat up milk in a saucepan over medium heat. When it starts to scald (when you see steam coming up), add in the cheese, a couple sprinkles of paprike, salt and pepper. Whisk the sauce until the cheese is melted. The consistency will be a little bit thinner than the final product at this point, but if it seems too thin, add some more cheese in.

Once the cheese has melted, take the sauce off the heat. As it cools, it will set up and thicken a little bit. When it thickens, add in the pasta, toss to coat, and eat.

I love this version because the goat cheese is so light in contrast the the heavy feeling of cheddar.

I like the C&Z version as well - while we still have spinach growing in the backyard, I should try it.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Another Sunday, another Omelet

It appears that all omelet-related posts to this blog appear on the weekends. That makes sense, being that the weekend is the only time that I have 20-30 minutes to prepare myself breakfast. In honor of the weekend-omelet correlation, I have decided to rename Sunday to Omeletday.

Today, the inagural Omeletday, I made a new egg/fungus/milk-fungus creation (aka EFMF aka omelet). It is a Mushroom and Red Dragon Cheddar Omelet. I picked up the Red Dragon Cheddar at Trader Joe's in my neverending quest to try all cheeses. Red Dragon is Welsh cheddar spiked with whole mustard seeds and Welsh ale. It is surprisingly good. I usually don't approve of these McCheeses (like a McFlurry), but this one is great. I recommend it to anyone shopping at TJ's who is willing to try something new and is tired of electric orange cheese product.

Mushroom and Red Dragon Omelet

2 eggs, whipped with a fork
3 crimini mushrooms, sliced thin and sauteed.
1-2 oz (a little pile) of grated Red Dragon Cheddar.
Salt and pepper to taste.

Get a pan hot over medium-high heat. Rub some butter or margarine on the bottom of the pan. My pattern of choice is concentric circles out from the center, but I have been known to experiment with criss-cross and random butter-application patterns. Let the primary sizzle subside, then pour in the eggs. Swirl them around and scrape the eggs with a spatula for 10 seconds, building up a little bit of curd and distributing the raw egg to hot pan. Now let some of the egg cook. Add the cheese first, to let it melt on the hot egg, then the mushrooms on top to the middle third or outside half (from the handle), depending on if you are making a trifold or bifold omelet. I prefer trifold, as you can see :). Give it another 30-40 seconds and:
1. Bifold omelet - slide the filling-laden half onto a plate and use the lip of the pan to fold the empty half over, producing a bifold omelet.
2. Trifold omelet - with a spatula, fold the outside third of the omelet over the middle third. Slide it off the pan and again use the lip to fold the inside third onto the other thirds.

That's it. A wonderful, rich, filling omelet for the first ever Omeletday.

Try it, change it, do whatever you want to it, but join me in Omeletday every week!

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Baked Tofu with Garlic Chard

Baked Tofu with Garlic Chard
Originally uploaded by monkeycat!.
My first exposure to baked tofu came surprise! in Berkeley. Smart Alec's has a Tofu Sandwich made with baked tofu. Over the 4 years of eating in the South Campus area, this sandwich became one of my favorites, up with Pad See Ew from Thai Basil and Gypsy's Chicken.
In a quest to recreate this wonderful culinary creation, I set out over the years (with varying degree of success) to make my own baked tofu.

10 Jan marks the day when I accomplished my goal.

Baked Tofu with Garlic Chard

Baked Tofu

1 pkg firm tofu
1/3 c soy sauce (low-sodium for your bp!)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
juice of 1/2 lemon

Garlic Chard (from epicurious.com [Recipe])

1 bunch chard (oooh the colors)
2-3 tbs olive oil
4 cloves garlic, sliced (the more the better)
Preheat oven to 375°F

Slice tofu into 3-4 slices the longest way (through its depth). Place those on 2 layers of paper towel on top of a baking sheet and put two more pieces of towel on top. Put another baking sheet on top and weigh it (I use a lot of cans) down to squeeze out excess water.
In a shallow dish, mix together the soy sauce, garlic, paprika, cumin seeds and lemon juice.

After the tofu has drained from about 20 minutes, put it into the marinade and let marinate for 20 minutes in the fridge, flipping along the way (one, twice, three times baked tofu).

Grease a baking sheet and place tofu on the sheet, put in the oven for 45 minutes.

When the tofu comes out, its done! Its so easy and tastes so good. I ate the leftovers on a sandwich with arugula and olive oil.

To make the chard, boil up a pot of water. Separate the ribs from the green leafy parts and chop up the ribs into 1/2" pieces. Boil the ribs from 5 minutes and take out and put aside. DO NOT DUMP OUT WATER! :) Roughly chop the leafy portion into strips and douse in boiling water for 3 minutes. Take out and put together with the ribs.

Heat up a saucepan to med-high with some olive oil in the bottom. Give the garlic 1 minute on each side, stirring constantly to make sure it doesn't burn. Add in the chard which has been thoroughly drained, sqeezed and pressed to remove as much water as possible. Give it 2 minutes in the pan to wilt and gain some flavor of the garlic. The par-cooking on the boiling water gets rid of the bitterness that develops in chard when cooking it quickly over relatively high heat.

We served it with some rice, but the tofu on a bed of the greens would be my plan for the baked tofu v2.0

Make this, it is easy and tasty! Let me know how it goes.

Just looking at the picture, I wish this was my lunch. Instead I get Antonia's Southwest Salad - a post to come....?

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

St. Andre on Melba Toasts - another great breakfast

St. Andre on Melba Toasts
Originally uploaded by monkeycat!.
On the same trip to Trader Joe's that provided the ingredients for the Salame and Arugula Sandwich, I picked up a wedge of St. Andre cheese. I had never had this wonderfully mild cheese before - what a waste of youth; I could have been eating this cheese all my life!

Anyway, all it takes are some chunks of St. Andre and a few Melba toasts to create a wonderful breakfast. It's a very simple way to start the day; cheese and coffee. Maybe I'll start a movement called "Cheese and Coffee for Breakfast."

Who's with me?

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Salame Sandwich with Mushroom Spread and Arugula

After a trip to pick up a new dryer, we found ourselves close to Trader Joe's in Sacramento. A quick runaround in TJs provided us with wine (not the one pictured), bread, arugula, mushrooms and salami.

What to do with all of these new ingredients? Make a sandwich, of course!

I had a salami sandwich on the savory challah roll that we baked a few days earlier. It was good, but it was missing something as it consisted of bread and meat.

Not to be defeated by a sandwich, I persevered to make a better salami sandwich.

Salami Sandwich with Mushroom Spread and Arugula

6-8 in baguette piece, cut in half
4-10 slices of salami, depending on the size
crimini (brown) mushrooms, slicked to 1/8"
olive oil
tomato paste
red pepper flakes
baby arugula

In a sautee pan, heat some olive oil to med-high heat. Add in the mushrooms and a pinch of salt. Let the mushrooms color on the first side, then flip them over or mix them up to get them softened, but not floppy. Add in a big tablesppon of tomato paste and cook until the paste is warmed through. Add in a shake of oregano and 3 shakes of red pepper flake (or 2 or 1 shake, to your heat-index preference). Slowly add in some water, 1 tsp at a time, until the consistency of a spread is attained. Dump the tomato/mushroom concoction onto a chopping board and chop up the mushrooms into small pieces for easier spreading (although not required, it makes its easier to cut the sandwich in half).

Time for assembly:
Drizzle some olive oil on each side of the baguette. Lay down the salami on the bottom half. Spread the spread over the salami and pile on the arugula. Salt and pepper it, close it up and cut in half. You are ready to eat!

A accompanied my sandwich with a balsamic vinegarette arugula salad and a glass of 2001 White Oak Syrah. Both were very good.

So, mission accomplished. I created a much better version of a salami sandwich

I even have a testamonial:
"It was transcendent. I'll never look at cured meats the same way again." -Antonia Oakley, Davis, CA

Friday, January 06, 2006

A victory for real food

McDonalds driven out of town by a real baker. Music to my ears, fennel to my tastebuds.
The baker who beat McDonald's [via Slashfood]

Monday, January 02, 2006

Blogged on Slashfood!

Today one of my sandwiches got blogged on Slashfood.
Food Porn, Healthy Version

Yeah food!