Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The Omnivore's 100/The Sweet 100

I've seen this making the rounds on all the food blogs and have finally decided to go ahead and post my list. For those of you that have a blog, feel free to follow the instructions below and create your own 100 list.

1) Copy this list into your blog or journal, including these instructions.
2) Bold all the items you’ve eaten.
3) Cross out any items that you would never consider eating.
4) Optional extra: Post a comment at www.verygoodtaste.co.uk linking to your results.

Holly's Omnivore’s Hundred:
1. Venison
2. Nettle tea
3. Huevos rancheros
4. Steak tartare
5. Crocodile
6. Black pudding
7. Cheese fondue
8. Carp
9. Borscht
10. Baba ghanoush
11. Calamari
12. Pho
13. PB&J sandwich
14. Aloo gobi
15. Hot dog from a street cart
16. Epoisses
17. Black truffle
18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes
19. Steamed pork buns
20. Pistachio ice cream
21. Heirloom tomatoes
22. Fresh wild berries
23. Foie gras
24. Rice and beans
25. Brawn, or head cheese
26. Raw Scotch Bonnet pepper
27. Dulce de leche
28. Oysters
29. Baklava
30. Bagna cauda
31. Wasabi peas
32. Clam chowder in a sourdough bowl
33. Salted lassi
34. Sauerkraut
35. Root beer float
36. Cognac with a fat cigar
37. Clotted cream tea
38. Vodka jelly/Jell-O
39. Gumbo
40. Oxtail
41. Curried goat
42. Whole insects
43. Phaal
44. Goat’s milk
45. Malt whisky from a bottle worth £60/$120 or more
46. Fugu
47. Chicken tikka masala
48. Eel
49. Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut
50. Sea urchin
51. Prickly pear
52. Umeboshi
53. Abalone
54. Paneer
55. McDonald’s Big Mac Meal
56. Spaetzle
57. Dirty gin martini
58. Beer above 8% ABV
59. Poutine
60. Carob chips
61. S’mores
62. Sweetbreads
63. Kaolin
64. Currywurst
65. Durian
66. Frogs’ legs
67. Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake
68. Haggis
69. Fried plantain
70. Chitterlings, or andouillette
71. Gazpacho
72. Caviar and blini
73. Louche absinthe
74. Gjetost, or brunost
75. Roadkill
76. Baijiu
77. Hostess Fruit Pie
78. Snail
79. Lapsang souchong
80. Bellini
81. Tom yum
82. Eggs Benedict
83. Pocky
84. Tasting menu at a three-Michelin-star restaurant.
85. Kobe beef
86. Hare
87. Goulash
88. Flowers
89. Horse
90. Criollo chocolate (I don't think I've had this, but I have sucked on a cacao bean fresh from its pod in the Ecuadorian rainforest ... does that count?)
91. Spam
92. Soft shell crab
93. Rose harissa
94. Catfish
95. Mole poblano
96. Bagel and lox
97. Lobster Thermidor
98. Polenta
99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee
100. Snake

This list contains a lot of seafood and seeing as how I don't like seafood, I haven't tasted much of it. I would, however, try almost any food so I can't cross them off. The only thing I think I wouldn't try is the pufferfish. I don't want to take that risk!

31 33 out of 100 ... pathetic!

So while we're talking about foods I have and have not tried, I'd also like to take a moment to go through Cakespy's Sweet 100. A list of 100 sweet foods, now we're talking!

1) Copy this list into your site, including the instructions!
2) Bold all of the sweets you've eaten!
3) Cross out any of them that you'd never ever eat.
4) Consider anything that is not bold or crossed out your "To Do" List.
5) Optional: Post a comment at Cakespy linking to your results.
  1. Red Velvet Cake
  2. Princess Torte
  3. Whoopie Pie
  4. Apple Pie either topped or baked with sharp cheddar
  5. Beignet
  6. Baklava
  7. Black and white cookie
  8. Seven Layer Bar (also known as the Magic Bar or Hello Dolly bars)
  9. Fried Fruit pie (sometimes called hand pies)
  10. Kringle
  11. Just-fried (still hot) doughnut
  12. Scone with clotted cream
  13. Betty, Grunt, Slump, Buckle or Pandowdy
  14. Halvah
  15. Macarons
  16. Banana pudding with nilla wafers
  17. Bubble tea (with tapioca "pearls")
  18. Dixie Cup
  19. Rice Krispie treats
  20. Alfajores
  21. Blondies
  22. Croquembouche
  23. Girl Scout cookies
  24. Moon cake
  25. Candy Apple
  26. Baked Alaska
  27. Brooklyn Egg Cream
  28. Nanaimo bar
  29. Baba au rhum
  30. King Cake
  31. Sachertorte
  32. Pavlova
  33. Tres Leches Cake
  34. Trifle
  35. Shoofly Pie
  36. Key Lime Pie (made with real key lime)
  37. Panna Cotta
  38. New York Cheesecake
  39. Napoleon / mille-fueille
  40. Russian Tea Cake / Mexican Wedding Cake
  41. Anzac biscuits
  42. Pizzelle
  43. Kolache
  44. Buckeyes
  45. Malasadas
  46. Moon Pie
  47. Dutch baby
  48. Boston Cream Pie
  49. Homemade chocolate chip cookies
  50. Pralines
  51. Gooey butter cake
  52. Rusks
  53. Daifuku
  54. Green tea cake or cookies
  55. Cupcakes from a cupcake shop
  56. Crème brûlée
  57. Some sort of deep fried fair food (twinkie, candy bar, cupcake)
  58. Yellow cake with chocolate frosting
  59. Jelly Roll
  60. Pop Tarts
  61. Charlotte Russe
  62. An "upside down" dessert (Pineapple upside down cake or Tarte Tatin)
  63. Hummingbird Cake
  64. Jell-O from a mold
  65. Black forest cake
  66. Mock Apple Pie (Ritz Cracker Pie)
  67. Kulfi
  68. Linzer torte
  69. Churro
  70. Stollen
  71. Angel Food Cake
  72. Mincemeat pie
  73. Concha
  74. Opera Cake
  75. Sfogliatelle / Lobster tail
  76. Pain au chocolat
  77. A piece of Gingerbread House
  78. Cassata
  79. Cannoli
  80. Rainbow cookies
  81. Religieuse
  82. Petits fours
  83. Chocolate Souffle
  84. Bienenstich (Bee Sting Cake)
  85. Rugelach
  86. Hamenstashen
  87. Homemade marshmallows
  88. Rigo Janci
  89. Pie or cake made with candy bar flavors (Snickers pie, Reeses pie, etc)
  90. Divinity
  91. Coke or Cola cake
  92. Gateau Basque
  93. S'mores
  94. Figgy Pudding
  95. Bananas foster or other flaming dessert
  96. Joe Froggers (I haven't tried these but they sound remarkably similar to my Nana Cookies!)
  97. Sables
  98. Millionaire's Shortbread
  99. Animal crackers
  100. Basbousa
37 out of 100, I can't believe that! For a girl with a huge sweet tooth, this is really surprising!

Between these two lists, I certainly have quite a lot of tasting to do!

*I will be updating this list as I try the items I have yet to eat.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Daring Bakers: Lavash Crackers

So I've gone and done it. I've joined the Daring Bakers!

September was my first challenge, and what a challenge it was! This month's hosts are alternative bakers Natalie from Gluten A Go Go, and Shel, of Musings From the Fishbowl. They chose a vegan and/or gluten-free challenge: Lavash crackers and vegan and gluten free dips, spreads and toppings.

For a dish to be called vegan, it cannot contain any animal product or byproduct (this includes dairy, honey, etc.). Gluten free means that it cannot contain any wheat, barley, rye, or other grains or food additives that contain gluten.

Lavash crackers are a very thin, crispy cracker often topped with poppy seeds or sesame seeds. For the crackers, we had the option to make them gluten-free or use all-purpose flour. I chose the all-purpose flour route because I had plenty of it on hand. Peter Reinhart, the recipe's author, says that the key to a crisp lavash is to roll out the dough paper thin. I thought that I had rolled the dough out thin enough when I put it in the oven, but I found the crackers to be far too thick. Next time I'll roll them much thinner!

Lavash Crackers
Source: The Bread Baker's Apprentice: Mastering The Art of Extraordinary Bread, by Peter Reinhart
1 1/2 cups unbleached bread flour or all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon instant yeast
1 tablespoon agave syrup or sugar (I chose to use agave syrup which you can find in many health and natural food stores. I bought mine at Trader Joe's.)
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/3 to 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons water, at room temperature
Poppy seeds, sesame seeds, paprika, cumin seeds, caraway seeds, or kosher salt for toppings (I went with cumin, caraway seeds and sesame seeds.)

In a mixing bowl, stir together the flour, salt, yeast, agave, oil, and just enough water to bring everything together into a ball. You may not need the full amount of water, but be prepared to use it all if needed.

Sprinkle some flour on the counter and transfer the dough to the counter. Knead for about 10 minutes, or until the ingredients are evenly distributed. The dough should pass the windowpane test. The dough should be satiny to the touch, not tacky, and supple enough to stretch when pulled. Lightly oil a bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl, rolling it around to coat it with oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap.

Ferment at room temperature for 90 minutes, or until the dough doubles in size. (You can also retard the dough overnight in the refrigerator immediately after kneading or mixing).

Mist the counter lightly with spray oil and transfer the dough to the counter. Press the dough into a square with your hand and dust the top of the dough lightly with flour. Roll it out with a rolling pin into a paper thin sheet about 15 inches by 12 inches. You may have to stop from time to time so that the gluten can relax. At these times, lift the dough from the counter and wave it a little, and then lay it back down. Cover it with a towel or plastic wrap while it relaxes. When it is the desired thinness, let the dough relax for 5 minutes. Line a sheet pan with baking parchment. Carefully lift the sheet of dough and lay it on the parchment. If it overlaps the edge of the pan, snip off the excess with scissors.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F with the oven rack on the middle shelf. Mist the top of the dough with water and sprinkle a covering of seeds or spices on the dough (such as alternating rows of poppy seeds, sesame seeds, paprika, cumin seeds, caraway seeds, kosher or pretzel salt, etc.) Be careful with spices and salt - a little goes a long way. If you want to precut the cracker, use a pizza cutter (rolling blade) and cut diamonds or rectangles in the dough. You do not need to separate the pieces, as they will snap apart after baking. If you want to make shards, bake the sheet of dough without cutting it first.

Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the crackers begin to brown evenly across the top (the time will depend on how thinly and evenly you rolled the dough).

When the crackers are baked, remove the pan from the oven and let them cool in the pan for about 10 minutes. You can then snap them apart or snap off shards and serve.

I chose to make two toppings for my crackers. The first was a spread that was suggested by the challenge hosts, Tahitian Almond Dipping Sauce. This is a sweet and very thick dip. It would be a nice topping for celery sticks.

Tahitian Almond Dipping Sauce
Source: The Complete Book of Raw Food by Robert Yarosh and Lisa Soto
1 1/2 cups almond butter
1/2 cup pine nuts
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
1 clove garlic
1/4 cup fresh orange juice (you may want to add more juice or add some water, depending on the consistancy you like)
1 1/2 tablespoons agave syrup

Blend all ingredients together until smooth (in your blender or food processor).

For my second topping, I went with an Alton Brown recipe that I adapted in order to make it vegan. I was apprehensive at first about substituting a dairy product for a vegan soy product, but I really could not tell the difference! The flavor of the vegan cream cheese was so similar to regular cream cheese.

Roasted Vegetable Spread
Adapted from: Alton Brown
1 red bell pepper, sliced into rings
1 medium onion, sliced into rings
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 small zucchini, sliced
1 tablespoon olive oil
8 ounces Tofutti Better Than Cream Cheese
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Place the bell pepper, onion, garlic, zucchini, and olive oil in a medium mixing bowl and toss until the vegetables are coated. Spread the vegetables evenly on sheet pan lined with foil and place in the oven. Roast, tossing occasionally, until they are soft and are beginning to turn brown around the edges, approximately 45 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool completely.

Place the vegetables in the bowl of a food processor along with the cream cheese substitute and process until well combined and spreadable; do not process until completely smooth. Taste and season with salt and pepper, if desired. Store in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to one week.

This was my first attempt at making a vegan dish. I will admit that I was a bit intimidated at the beginning of the challenge. Not only did I have to make a vegan dish, but this was also my first time using yeast. (I know ... for shame!) In the end though, I think everything turned out fine. Though, I will say that I don't think I'll be going vegan any time soon.

I'm looking forward to next month's challenge and now that I've completed my first challenge, I can happily say that I'm a proud member of the Daring Bakers! Yay!

Now hop on over to the blogroll and check out what the rest of the Daring Bakers did with the challenge!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Ye olde piratey treat

In case you live under a rock, Friday was International Talk Like a Pirate Day. It comes around every September 19 and is a jolly good time for all.

It was also my office's second annual Pirate Day potluck. We all bring in a pirate themed treat and yell "Arrgh!" and such at one another. What fun!

This year I brought Caribbean Cupcakes, which I called Bahama Biscuits so as to disguise their identity from my cupcake-fanatic coworker.

For my Caribbean Cupcakes, I used a banana cupcake recipe and topped them with cream cheese frosting and sweetened coconut. The cake was dense and flavorful, similar to banana bread, and the frosting was easy and delicious. They were a hit with the scallywags aboard t'e ship ... err ... my co-workers.

Banana Cupcakes
Source: Cake Batter & Crumbs
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 cups self-rising flour
4 eggs
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 cup (about 2 large mashed ripe bananas)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 C). Place 18 paper baking cups in muffin pans. Cream together the butter and sugar until it is pale and fluffy. Sift together the flour and nutmeg. Lightly beat the eggs into a bowl. Slowly add part of the flour mixture to the sugar and butter and then alternate with the eggs until all of the flour and eggs are incorporated. Fold in the mashed bananas. Spoon the batter into the cupcake liners and bake for 20 minutes.

Cream cheese frosting
Source: Joy of Cooking as seen on Slashfood, posted by
Sarah J. Gim
8 ounces cream cheese, cold from the fridge or softened at room temperature
5 tablespoons butter, softened
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups powdered sugar, sifted (I found this to be a little too sweet and will probably reduce the sugar next time.)

Beat cream cheese, butter and vanilla until combined. Gradually add powdered sugar and beat to combine.

Recently, I asked you for suggestions on how to transport my cupcakes without buying a cupcake carrier. Here's my solution:

I used a Sterilite Ultra·Seal 16.0 cup container. It held 12 regular-size cupcakes and didn't squish a single one!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

A failure?

Have you ever tried to follow a recipe, only to find out half-way through that you're missing something, be it an ingredient, a tool, whatever? Did you scrap the whole thing or muddle through?

Here's one that I thought I was prepared for, only to find out I wasn't in the least! Yet, I forged ahead making do as best I could. The whole time I was thinking to myself, "this is going to be terrible, which is probably a good thing because if Matt ever wanted this again, there's no way I could
duplicate it!"

He loved it. Go figure.

Considering that my flub-up was so successful, I can only imagine how good the real version must be! Click the link to read the original; my screwed up modified version is below. (If I can remember what the heck I did ...)

Chettinad Style Chicken Curry
Adapted from:
Sailu’s Kitchen
1 tablespoon canola oil
1/2 cup shallots
1 teaspoon curry powder
1 clove of garlic, mashed into a paste
1" of ginger, mashed into a paste
1 lb boneless chicken breast, cut into 1-inch pieces
salt to taste
1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
1/2 cup chopped tomato
1/2 can coconut milk
1/4 teaspoon freshly-ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
2 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon cinnamon (I accidentally dumped a bunch in ... I added 1/2 can extra coconut milk to try to neutralize the overwhelming cinnamon taste)
Additional curry powder to taste

Heat oil in a large non-stick pan over medium-high heat. Add the shallots and curry powder and saute for 2 minutes. (This may smoke a little.) Add the garlic and ginger pastes and cook for 1 minute. Add the chicken and increase the heat to high. Cook for approximately 4 minutes, stirring frequently.

Reduce to medium heat, add salt, turmeric powder and tomatoes and combine well. Continue cooking for 4-5 minutes, uncovered.

Add the coconut milk and cook for 5 minutes, until chicken is no longer pink. Add the remaining spices and let simmer for 3 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning as desired.

Serve hot with white rice.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Sesame Beef a la Delish

The question, "what's for dinner?" is one that constantly stumps me. I like to try new dishes and keep things interesting for Matt (the man that hates to eat the same thing too many times too frequently, therefore making leftovers useless). However, trying new dishes all the time is what leads to me being stuck in the kitchen for hours on a weeknight and serving dinner at 10:30 pm. I'm not comfortable enough with the recipe to just throw it together (and the baker in me says, "you must follow the recipe and measure precisely!").

When I saw this recipe on Delish, I knew I had to give it a try! It sounded like it would be pretty quick and, hopefully, tasty. Indeed it was!

Sesame Beef
Source: Delish

1/2-pound boneless sirloin steak, thinly sliced into 1-inch strips
2 Tbsp low sodium soy sauce
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp honey
1/4 tsp Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp cornstarch
1 garlic clove, minced
4 scallion greens, cut diagonally into 1-inch slices
2 tablespoons sesame seeds, toasted

In a bowl whisk together soy sauce, 1 Tbsp oil, honey, and mustard. Add steak, tossing to coat, and let marinate, refrigerated, for 1-2 hours.

In a heavy skillet or wok, heat remaining tablespoon oil over moderately high heat until hot and sauté garlic. Add steak and cornstarch, stirring, until browned 2-3 minutes. Stir in scallions, sesame seeds, and salt and pepper to taste and heat until just heated through. Serve immediately.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Looking for ideas

For you cupcake connoisseurs out there, do you have any tips for the best way to transport cupcakes without a cupcake carrier?

I know, I know. I should just buy a cupcake carrier. But my house is so small that it would be silly. I'd have no place to store it!

Got any suggestions?
Stock photo provided by stock.xchng

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Fried rice

Matt loves rice. He'd eat it every single day if I made it that often. He loves fried rice so much, he eats it as an entree.

This recipe is pretty easy to prepare. Just make sure you've got all your mise en place (that is to say, all ingredients prepped and measured) before you begin! It comes together so quickly that there's no time to stop and chop!

Fried Rice
Source: How to Boil Water
1/3 cup plain vegetable oil (corn, peanut, canola), divided
1 onion diced
Salt and pepper
3 garlic cloves, minced
2-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and minced
3 whole scallions, thinly sliced on the bias, separate whites and greens
1 1/3 cups (6 oz) medley frozen corn, peas and carrots
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
4 cups cold cooked long-grain rice
3 tablespoons soy sauce

Heat a large heavy-bottomed nonstick skillet over high heat. When hot, add 1 tablespoon of the oil. Add the onions to the pan, season with salt and pepper and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, until onion is fragrant. Add the garlic, ginger and scallion whites and stir-fry until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the frozen vegetables. Cook until just defrosted but still crisp. Transfer contents of the skillet to a large bowl.

Return the pan to the heat ad add 2 more tablespoons of oil. Add the eggs and season with salt and pepper. Stir the eggs constantly and cook until almost set but still moist, then transfer egg to the bowl. Break the eggs up with a wooden spoon.

Return the pan to the heat and add the remaining oil. Add the rice to the pan and use a spoon to break up any clumps. Season with salt and pepper and stir-fry rice to coat evenly with oil. Stop stirring and then let the rice cook undisturbed until it gets slightly crispy, about 2 minutes. Stir the rice again, breaking up any new clumps. Add the scallion greens and the soy sauce. Transfer to the bowl. Stir contents of the bowl well. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper, if necessary.