Archive for June, 2012

Achievement Unlocked: Making Yogurt Tasty Again

Another from the backlog; sorry about that!

I don’t like yogurt.  Never really have.  The sourness and the consistency combine to make something I have a hard time swallowing.  I know it’s amazingly good for you and probably shaves pounds off your waistline and puts hair on your chest and everything, but now that I’m a grown-up, I refuse to eat something that’s “good for you” if I just plain don’t like it.  (That’s part of what being a grownup is, right?  The first rule of Grownup Club, as we say in our house, is that YOU get to decide what the rules of Grownup Club are.)

Yet on one of those ill-planned shopping trips accompanied by hunger, I was somehow sucked in by a display of Greek yogurt at something like seventy cents a cup.  I bought three, let them linger in the fridge for a while, and then broke them out last weekend when a friend came over.  T is planning to start a baked-goods stall at the farmer’s market down near where he lives, which is awesome.  When I first met T, he made awesome snickerdoodles; now, he makes awesome snickerdoodles and biscotti.  In the spirit of Baking Saturday, I made Smitten Kitchen’s Chocolate Yogurt Snack Cakes.

These would make adorable mini-muffin-shaped snacks, but all I have are two pans of very large muffin shapes, so the recipe made twelve.  They’re so rich that I couldn’t eat more than half of one at a time, but between me, three housemates, T, and T’s dad, they didn’t last.  🙂

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Chocolate Yogurt Snack Cakes

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 and get out your cupcake liners.  You don’t have to use the Valentine’s day ones you picked up on sale when you were raiding Target for cheap candy, but go right ahead if they’re still hanging around.
  2. Chop seven ounces or so of chocolate (or, if you’re me, find a bag of chopped chocolate in your pantry from CHRISTMAS, then add some more), and place in a bowl with a quarter-cup of neutral vegetable oil.  Place over pot of boiling water, preferably one which contains pasta, or perhaps your attempt at candied orange slices.  (No post about those; they really didn’t turn out very well.)  Stir until chocolate is deliciously melted.
  3. In another bowl, while that’s melting, mix half a cup of yogurt (about half of one Fage individual-size cup), a quarter-cup of oil, one cup of sugar, three eggs, and a splash each of vanilla and almond extracts.
  4. Pour your liquid mixture on top of a cup and a half of flour, a pinch of salt, and one-and-a-half teaspoons of baking powder.  The original recipe says to make a well, to which I responded: there’s more liquid than solid here!  The heck with a well, that’s a volcano!  (Oh so witty.)
  5. Stir that whole mess until incorporated, then add the melted chocolate.  Stir the heck out of it.
  6. Divide your batter evenly among your muffin cups.  Bake for twenty to twenty-five minutes; mine were pretty much perfect at twenty-three.
  7. Remove from oven, stack on plate, and chow down.  😀
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Achievement Unlocked: Deformed, But Homemade, Pasta

Hi!  I swear I haven’t vanished.  Is it any coincidence that I haven’t posted since Diablo III came out?  (Hint: no.  It is not.)  When you work from home like I do, certain things tend to swallow up chunks of your time and hey, look, you’ve cooked in the past three weeks but there have been no posts!  What’s up with that??

(My level 58 wizard certainly isn’t complaining, though.)

I’m working through a backlog of, oh, eight recipes? so I’ll start today with the pasta experience.  Sounds like the name of a band.  “Hello Baltimore, we’re The Pasta Experience and we are going to ROCK YOUR WORLD TONIGHT!”  I don’t go to many shows.  Can you tell?

So.  Pasta.  I’ve made homemade pasta a total of twice in my life before the experience I’m posting about today.  Once was in eleventh-grade cooking class, complete with pasta machine, mess, enthusiastic parents and slackoff group members.  The second time was in my dorm in December of freshman year, past midnight, rolling with a metal water bottle and drying the pasta on cookie sheets on my desk.  I think it was meant to be an end-of-semester cozy dinner with friends, and a celebration of one friend’s birthday; it turned into a lovely little ten-person kvetch-fest and a much-needed time to let down our hair.  And ignore the one egg that broke on the carpet and remained covered with baking soda for…at least a week and a half.

Okay, that’s officially too much remembering.  Back to this time around!

So I’d been having some rotten cooking karma for the past couple of days, the kind that you don’t post about because it’s embarrassing (but I’ll mention it anyway!).  Empanada dough is still just a bowl of batter, meatballs were flat-tasting and shrunk like whoa, and matzo balls…well, I haven’t cooked them yet, because I have no desire to eat a bowl of broth topped with matzo mush.  The orecchiette I made last night were my last hope for this week; if they hadn’t turned out, I’d be copping out and making a veggie tray for Sunday’s game.  😛

I’ve figured out part of what’s dooming me with regard to bread: doughs that don’t come together by themselves, and that sit in the bowl as a bunch of shaggy bits that need incorporating, freak me out.  I sort of shoved the pasta together, panicked at the thought of making coherent ears out of that pile of shagginess, added another egg, and finally dumped the lot in the food processor.  It came together, finally, but I assume your pasta will be much lighter and friendlier if you follow the recipe and the Hitchhiker’s Guide.  DON’T PANIC.  (HTML note: how do I turn those last two words red?)

So eventually, dough became rough approximations of ear shapes (and I do mean rough), ear shapes became cooked pasta, pasta became dinner.  This is not exactly the kind of thing I’d make for company, but since “company” in this case was the boyfriend, it really didn’t much matter.  Ugly but tasty dinner for two: win.  😀

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Orecchiette (recipe bastardized from Smitten Kitchen, originally from Delicious Days) and Fresh Tomato Sauce With Capers

  1. In largeish bowl, mix two cups of flour, two eggs, and a pinch of salt until they form a kneadable ball of dough.  Pause and laugh at the idea of that last sentence while wiping flour off your forehead.  Pour contents of bowl into food processor, add another egg, and whirl until you have a lump of dough.
  2. Remove lump, break off pieces, and knead them into dough snakes, no more than 3/4 of an inch wide.  Orecchiette expand when cooked, so unless you want the pieces to be the size of actual human ears, keep your snakes small.
  3. Once snakes are assembled, slice off coins and indent them to make ear-like shapes.  Flour your hands well, otherwise you WILL have to re-roll half your ears.  Don’t worry too much about shaping them, as they’ll boil up into cauliflower-head-looking lumps.
  4. Either let your ears dry overnight or boil them right away.  If drying overnight, lay them out so they’re not touching each other; otherwise, you will end up with a disgusting lump of ears in your pot.  Here’s hoping that image doesn’t creep into anybody’s dreams tonight!
  5. Boil the hell out of your orecchiette until they’re tender, white, and big enough to hold your sauce.  I don’t have an accurate measurement for this; all I can say is that it takes a very, very long time indeed.
  6. While the hell is slowly boiling out of your pasta, make a sauce.  Amanda’s Sauce du Jour was composed of: three diced tomatoes, one diced medium shallot, about an ounce-and-a-bit of capers, a little bit of the brine they were packed in, and two cloves of minced garlic.  Pile into a skillet, simmer until liquidy and delicious, then remove from heat and pile on top of pasta.
  7. (Drain pasta.)
  8. Eat.  Enjoy.  Store the leftovers.  Eventually use up your pasta and plot to make more.  Start shopping for pasta machines on Ebay. 🙂

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