Saturday, October 30, 2010

did you know that christopher walken loves to cook? i did. happy halloween guys! i have been living off snack-sized candies and i hope you have been too.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Monday, October 18, 2010

white lasagna for fall

If you know me in real life, you have probably heard me speak in hushed, wondrous tones about my undergraduate advisor. For brilliant-school-reasons, of course,

but mostly because she has this kind of magical aura of peaceful wisdom. The cardinal example in my mind: one time she made this a lasagna based on carrot puree and it was so good and strange and new and she was like "oh, yes, I learned how to make this on a fellowship in Rome" and I knew right then that I wanted to be an academic. Not for the international travel, but in order to have the free time and gentle disposition to cook mysterious dishes like lasagnas based on bechamel. After years of fantasizing about this carrot lasagna, I decided to copy it with the sweet potatoes that were kicking around my house. If you make your own ricotta, this is incredibly cheap and delicious.


+ 3/4 lasagne noodles (not no-boil)
+ ricotta cheese (a tub, or however much a half-gallon of milk makes)
+ 2 sweet potatoes
+ 4 cups of milk
+ cracked black pepper
+ parmesan cheese, grated (1/2 a cup? As much as you have or want)
+ a clove of garlic, minced
+ 5 T butter
+ 4 T flour

-- Boil the lasagna noodles until al dente then fish them out and try to lay them on paper towels so they don't stick to each other. YEAH RIGHT.

-- Microwave or bake your sweet potatoes until they are done, then take the skins off and mash them.

-- Preheat the oven to 375.

-- Now start making a bechamel sauce. Yes! Maybe this is old-hat to "real cooks" but to me they are just kind of magical, kind of like the carrot lasagna itself. One time my friend Adam's mom made us Hollandaise sauce in a hotel suite and my heart just melted. Strong, brilliant women cooking elegant food with love makes me so happy to be alive.

-- Anyway it's totally not hard, even though it does seem kind of mysterious. Heat up the milk with garlic in the microwave or another saucepan. Melt the butter in a pot on the stove and add the flour a little bit at a time, whisking until it's smooth. Let it get kind of toasty and brown, about 6 minutes. Then add the hot milk a little at a time, again making sure everything is smooth and not doughy or gross. Once you have added about half the milk you can just dump in the rest, but keep whisking (or stirring. I don't have a whisk actually. Bootleg) Let it simmer/cook for 10 minutes, stirring & making sure that the milk doesn't get cruddy on the bottom. It should look really thick and creamy, which is also kind of awesome given that you can make this with skim milk. Then remove from heat and season with salt & pepper & nutmeg. I think a lot of black pepper really makes it. Foux de fa fa, you made a classic white sauce!

-- Now layer the lasanga noodles, the mashed sweet potatoes, the cheeses, and the bechamel sauce in a pyrex or whatever. Bake for about 45 minutes until the top is bubbly and your house smells like melted cheese in the best possible way.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

bread pudding

did you know that in french they call bread pudding "unemployment pudding"?!

such is the spirit of a grad school dinner party. but it was great-- i feel really proud of myself for taking initiative. i spent a lot of last year just kind of waiting for the kind of community that i felt in new york to spring up around me.

-uncle walt.

and there has been a lot of it: laughter, hilarious shortie overalls and the antics they lead to, books and ideas, researching south africa and armchair travel, meeting like minds at conferences, not getting a cold that i thought i was going to get. being both very busy and very quiet and still. om!

so pick up the phone and invite some people over! it's as easy as making this dessert.

BREAD PUDDING (via bittman)

+ 8 slices of whatever bread that you have lying around. I used whole wheat thus making this totally "breakfast food"-- basically the same as toast, eggs and milk AMIRITE?
+ 3 cups milk, skim is just fine if that's what you drink normally. Again-- breakfast!
+ 1/2 a stick of butter (4 T)
+ 3 eggs
+ 1/2 cup sugar
+ 1 1/2 t cinnamon
+ a pinch of salt

-- Oven to 350. Grease your baking pan (I used two loaf pans because I was ALSO making lasagne, so groove as your soul sings) and tear the bread into little bits in the pan.

-- Melt the butter with the sugar and cinnamon and salt and add the milk until it gets hottish.

-- Pour this mix over the bread and let it get soggy for a little bit. Push down the bread that doesn't cooperate. Discipline!

-- Beat the eggs and then stir them into this gloppy mess... you could ALSO break up a chocolate bar and add some chocolate chunks at this point. It would probably be a good idea. I would encourage that. You could also dust some cinnamon-sugar over the top. I didn't do this, actually, but it sounds really good right? I think so.

--Bake for 45 minutes or so. It can be kind of wobbly but should be mostly set. Bread pudding keeps for quite a while (if you aren't eating it for breakfast) too, which makes it even more clutch in the "use of leftovers" department. Which is key if you are basically kind of unemployed.

Monday, October 11, 2010

banana muffins


September, where did you go?

I took a test and it was ok until the end. I am taking too many classes. Two of three have mentioned Kant which makes me feel wriggly in a bad way. My internet was down so I spent a lot of time alternating between being super productive and slipping into disconnected emo fits. Now it's fixed and the repairman gave me wine suggestions: hilarious and strange. Gaucho Malbec? Anyone?

Food! I have been eating pupusas and donuts and guava cheese pie. I made gnocchi without a recipe and that seemed to work out okay. A lot of weekends in Los Angeles: professional development to gettin rowdy. Thinking of ways to use up the colossal bean collection I seem to have amassed. Guys, what do you do with a lot lot lot of white beans? Email me.

Anyway, I make muffins kind of a lot but there aren't really any recipes up on the blog because mostly they have sucked. I try to make them too healthy, then they are too dry, or I add too much fruit and they are soggy. Anyway, I am quick-bread-tarded. These muffins are a beacon of hope! They are delicious and maybe even okay for you. Muffins, tea, leaves, acoustic music! Let's pretend it's fall.

+1 to 1 1/2 cup of mashed very ripe bananas (3 bananas)
+1/2 cup wheat or oat bran
+1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
+1/2 cup sugar
+1 egg
+1/4 cup milk
+1/2 t salt
+3 t baking powder

-Preheat the oven to 400 and prep yer muffin tin/muffin cups/etc

-Mix together the wet ingredients. Then add the dry ingredients: try not to have big chunks of baking powder (nasty!) but no need to sift in advance

-Swiftly and decisively fold the dry into the wet. Lumps are ok. Fill your muffin tin. If you like big muffins (hahaha. I don't even know what that might refer to but its sounds awesome. Actually this whole line is chock full of weird double entendres. Eeeee) then fill the tins all the way, none of this 2/3 nonsense.

-Bake for 20-30 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean. Let them cool a little, then scarf one down with a glass of milk while quickly flipping through "A Very Short Introduction to Kant".