Recipe fantasy to food reality.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Coconut Cinnamon Bread

2 eggs
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 cup white sugar
1 cup sour cream
1.5 cups flour
1.5 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup flaked coconut
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 tsp cinnamon

1. Preheat oven to 350 F. In one bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.

2. In another bowl, beat eggs until frothy. Beat in oil and then sugar slowly, then sour cream. Add flour mixture to egg mixture, and mix gently.

3. Pour half of batter into loaf pan. Mix together remaining ingredients in a bowl, and sprinkle half of the resulting coconut mixture on top of the batter in the pan. Add the rest of the batter to the loaf pan, and use the remaining coconut mixture to coat the top of the batter. Swirl with a knife to marble.

4. Bake for about an hour, and remove from pan after about ten minutes of cooling.

I like technology. I wish that genetically-modified organisms were labeled at the grocery store, because I would like to buy them - I think they're cool. I can't wait until Google is connected to my brain.

So, when I saw the silicone bakeware begin to appear in stores, I was very excited. I was also engaged to be married, and registered for a bunch of it. Some very thoughtful people ended up giving it to us, and at first I was thrilled. However, I have come to believe it's not nearly as badass as it looks. First of all, anything like a loaf pan will not hold its shape, so when you lift the pan out of the oven, your baked goods can crack or your super-hot food can spill all over you. Secondly, they're hardly as nonstick as advertised.

Also, they're not kidding when they mention the upper temperature limit on the label. My previous oven (Why did I get a new oven? Just wait.) was an old, unreliable thing that had unpredictable of pockets of heat and coldness. I was baking some corn bread to go with a nice, big pot of chili sitting on the stove. The recipe I used gave a pretty high baking temperature, but one below the upper limit of my bakeware.

Still. Several minutes later, my kitchen was filled with smoke...and flames...leaping out of the oven. I proceeded to act like a Sim does when its oven catches fire, but Andy was good enough to remember we have a fire extinguisher, and use it for its intended purpose. Unfortunately, fire-extinguisher gunk got all over the kitchen - including in the pot of chili - and we spent the evening cleaning up the kitchen.

We ate cheese and wine for dinner that night, and the landlords replaced the oven.

I'm baking this bread in my silicone loaf pan, and 45 minutes into baking, so far so good, but I'll wait until it comes out of the oven to uncross my fingers.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Soyrizo vs. Chorizo

Have you ever looked at the ingredients list on a package of chorizo? The kind I've bought before actually lists lymph nodes and salivary glands. I try to be grown-up and realistic about the food I eat. I realize that eating dead animals is already kind of gross, but this was truly too much information for me.

Now, when I want a spicy breakfast, I use soyrizo, which I'm pretty satisfied with. It has the same texture problem that most soy-masquerading-as-meat products do, but it's a lot less creepy to bite into something unexpected in my soyrizo and eggs than it is with chorizo that comes from actual animals.

Other meat-like products that I prefer over their actual meat counterparts, due to this creep-out factor, are soy corn dogs and soy "chicken" patties. With these products, though, the original is so highly processed to begin with that replacing it with soy really doesn't change the eating experience too much.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Not food-related

I drove through Orofino, ID this weekend, and saw this billboard. It has nothing to do with food, but I thought it was too amazing not to put up here.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Orexia on the Road

Since this is the first time I've ever actually been smart enough to stay in a hotel with wireless access, I thought I'd write a post.

When I travel, I want to eat good food. Moscow, while it has a lot of good low-priced food, is not a great dining town. When I get out of town, it's time to sit down at a restaurant and let someone serve me something delicious.

I'm in Missoula, MT, hanging out with my in-laws as a pre-birthday celebration for my husband (his birthday will be Monday, poor thing). We went to a restaurant called the Depot, and if you're ever in Missoula looking for a big piece of meat, The Depot is the place to go. I had smoked pork, and it brought back wonderful memories of my birthday. I also ate my very first raw oyster, which was a lot more delicious (and less slimy) than I would have expected.

We're sitting around the room waiting for my brother in law to finsh work, so we can hit the bars. The last time I was in Missoula, Kyle (the brother in law) set out to help Andy and I experience Missoula to its fullest (that is, drunkest). The evening was culminated at a bar called the Oxford. It's a bar where they serve brains and eggs, and pickled turkey gizzards. They also serve a chicken-fried steak, which is best enjoyed after at 2 am. It creates a nice, greasy seal over the alcohol churning in your stomach by that point.

The very essence of Missoula.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Why I Love The Onion

They are the geniuses who combined two of my greatest loves: true obscenity and food.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Tomato and Blue Cheese Soup

The weather here is showing signs of cooling - cool nights and warm (but not hot) days. I always prefer the weather and sun in summer, but I love fall cooking. During summer, ingredients are so superb that you can eat basically everything fresh or lightly-cooked. Perfect produce is great, but when I'm not interested in heating the house any more than absolutely necessary, I ignore lots of cooking methods. With fall I can return to roasting and baking, without roasting myself in the process. Andy and I tackled this recipe tonight, adapted from one of my most-used cookbooks, Soup: Superb ways with a classic dish edited by Debra Mayhew. We used some oak-smoked salt we found in Vancouver BC, and it added a nice richness to the soup without making it heavy.

3 lbs ripe tomatoes, peeled, quartered and seeded
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons butter
1 leek, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1 1/4 quarts low-salt vegetable broth
4 oz. blue cheese, crumbled
3 tablespoons half and half
4 slices bacon, cooked to crispness and crumbled
salt and pepper

1. Heat the oven to 400 F. Spread the tomatoes in a shallow baking dish. Sprinkle with the garlic and some salt and pepper. Roast in oven for 35 minutes.

2. Heat the butter in a large sacuepan. Add the leek and carrot and season with salt and peper. Cook over low heat for about 10 minutes.

3. Stir in the stock and roasted tomatoes. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, cover and simmer for 20 minutes.

4. Add the blue cheese, and blend all the ingredients to a smooth, creamy texture. Taste and adjust the seasoning.

5. Return the soup to heat, but do not boil. Stir in the cream and crumbled bacon. Serve with crusty bread.

Peach Ice Cream

Nothing captures summer better for me than a ripe peach. My grandparents have a peach tree in their yard, and always bring them on visits during peach season. Grandma has spoiled me into being unable to eat fuzzy peaches - she would always peel and slice them for me, and I'd sit at the table in my swimsuit and eat them while they were still warm from being blanched in hot water. The magnificent scent, texture and taste of a peach is only enhanced by these sunny memories.

My grandparents were in town this week, watching my sister while my parents got to go to Beijing. My grandmother brought me some peaches from her tree, and by the time they got to me, some were pretty beaten-up, so I cut them up, and decided to finally break out the ice cream maker my in-laws gave us (a year ago). The recipe I used came from egullet, and I'd repeat it here, but it's very simple: mix up some eggs and sugar and cream and half and half and peaches, throw in a dash of vanilla (I used almond extract - I make this substitution a lot, because I can never remember to buy vanilla), and freeze.

My timing isn't perfect - the weather here is already starting to cool down. Still, since I'm due to bring dessert to a dinner on Tuesday, I thought ice cream would do justice to my grandparents' peaches. I sampled it out of the machine while I was packing it away into the freezer, and other than a little too much almond extract (I halved the recipe, but forgot to halve the amount of flavoring added), it's delicious.

PS - Any suggestions as to how to mask my over-almond mistake? I was considering making a tart sauce to sort of distract, but I don't want the peaches to get lost in all of this. Ideas?