I’ve invented Chipotle!

May 11th, 2017 | Posted by Mush in Domestic Goddess | Food | Recipes - (0 Comments)

In which I cooked, like, all afternoon, basically.

Today, I made two salsas:

Salsas and an air plant!

A hot poblano-corn relish:

Poblano corn relish

Spicy black beans:

Black beans

Mexican brown rice. That weird cottage cheese guacamole I make. And shredded chicken, for him.

Cheddar, sour cream.

There’s leftover queso blanco dip, so I heated that up, too! What the hell!

Fuckin' yum!

Look at that. Fuckin’ delicious burrito bowl.

Dinner

And I didn’t even have to put on pants!

Force it through a sieve!

December 9th, 2016 | Posted by Mush in Admissions | Food | Recipes - (2 Comments)

In which I’m astonished at the texture!

I like to read recipes. I have liked to do so since they were in actual books rather than on the internet.

I especially like to read old recipes. The oldest through the newest, to see what’s changed and what’s the same. Ancient recipes, medieval recipes, 20’s recipes, 70’s recipes. War time recipes, Southern recipes, Middle Eastern and Mediterranean and Indian and Ethiopian, I like to read recipes.

Well, even in the first version of The Joy of Cooking I ever owned, which was an 80’s version, they sometimes directed you to “force it,” whatever it was, “through a sieve.”

In fact, a surprising number of older recipes direct the cook to force “it,” the soup or sauce or whatever, through a sieve, before adjusting the seasonings and serving.

I have never in my life forced anything through a sieve, because I assumed that modern blenders obviated the need.

I WAS INCORRECT AS FUCK.

Here’s the scenario:

Yesterday, I made broccoli cheddar soup in the electric pressure cooker. I used a bag of cheap, frozen broccoli, because it’s been so long since I’ve bought cheap, frozen broccoli that I’d forgotten why nobody ever buys cheap, frozen broccoli: the bags are always half-filled with stems rather than florets, and the stems are woody as fuck. Every. Single. Time.

Once cooking was done I opened the Instant Pot, removed the liner, and carried it over to the counter, where I proceeded to blend the soup with the immersion blender. Super excited to nom down a bowl of homemade soup! Ladled some into a bowl, toasted up some whole wheat homemade sourdough, and sat down at the table.

Delicious!

Except, um, a little fiber of stem. Kind of unpleasant, but not a big deal–

And another. And another.

And another!

Aaaaand basically this soup is inedible, because after every spoonful you’re taking bits of what basically amount to centimeter-long hairs out of your mouth.

UGH!

Later that evening, I blended it again, well past what your typical broccoli cheddar is like, far into cream soup territory.

Tasted it again.

Same fucking thing: tiny little hair-like fibers in every mouthful!

So there was only one thing left, before throwing out the whole pot: force it through a sieve.

sieve

Turns out something that thick will not go through a sieve on its own, hence the word “force.” Turns out you use the back of a big spoon (I used a small ladle) to push it through. Doesn’t take too long, once you find the right spoon.

And then, OH. MY. GOD. The texture! Not only is that stupid stem fiber gone, but they are not fucking kidding about this forcing-it-through-a-sieve bullshit. What comes out is silky smooth and luxurious and amazing.

How have I never done this before?!

Moral: If it says force it through a sieve, then fucking force it through a sieve.

Even if you’ve used modern blending equipment. Just do it. It’s so worth it!

In which there’s a recipe.

I’ve been eating these all week.

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They’re really just bean tostadas, but you should make some anyway because they’re fantastic.

This is a strange but delicious guacamole. Make some. (Click on the pic for the recipe.)

Cottage Cheese Guacamole

Now put it in the fridge to chill.

Put some grated cheese — I used a Mexican three-cheese blend — on a fried corn tortilla/tostada shell.

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Nuke until melted. I do mine for 33 seconds.

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Top with, in this order: bubbling-hot refried beans (black, ideally, but I had regular refried pinto beans on hand), diced onions, salsa or hot sauce, shredded lettuce, a dollop of the cottage cheese guacamole, and diced tomatoes.

Eat your tostadas.

IMG_20160623_175305

Here’s a salsa recipe, if you want one. (Click on the pic for the recipe.)

Salsa Roja Recipe

Whole Wheat Sourdough

May 3rd, 2016 | Posted by Mush in Recipes - (1 Comments)

In which there’s the staff of life.

I made another whole white wheat sourdough boule! Whoo! This decent loaf somewhat redeems me from that ridiculous Pyrex debacle from last week I’m not going to tell you about.

Sourdough Boule

It’s not 100% whole white wheat like usual, though, because I used white flour for kneading, thereby probably incorporating half a cup or more into the dough. But, hey, it’s close enough.

It was handsomely scored using my very ghetto homemade lame!

I got decent oven spring, as you can see, but I don’t think you ever get that really astonishing spring (like you see from pros, or in bread forums) when using strictly whole grain flour. For whole wheat, though, this is a pretty credible-looking loaf.

Haven’t sliced it yet, but I have no doubt it will taste like all my previous loaves made with the same ingredients. (My whole white wheat sourdough bread so far is flavorful without quite being nutty, hard to slice with our cheap-ass dollar store bread knife, dense, chewy, not very sour usually, and especially delicious when, because it’s so substantial, heavily toasted and paired with fat like butter or brie or olive oil.)

Its crust was spread with melted butter and sprinkled with rock salt, because at three o’clock in the morning when I was cooling this loaf, I thought it would taste good and look cool.

I just read a blog post tagged #sourdoughbread, and it was all, “no matter what, MEASURE YOUR RECIPE CORRECTLY,” which made me lol, because I don’t measure anything. Ever. I just wing it. Every time. I pour some random amount of levain into a bowl, stir in some amount of flour that looks good, let it autolyse some random amount of time, or not, add some amounts of salt, water, and additional flour. There is no recipe, only process.

Kneading, rising, and proofing times are all whatever, around behaviours like work and sleep, but usually I end up with what generally turns out edible. The most important things to know about bread are how to tell when you’ve kneaded enough (smooth texture, really, because windowpaning doesn’t really happen with coarse flour, since there are sharp pieces in the dough that cause it to tear if you pull it out thin like that), and how to tell when your dough’s done proofing (the dimple, when you poke it with your finger, doesn’t fill back in like it does right after kneading).

Here are some pictures of breads indicating that I’m starting to figure out how to produce a recipe-less sourdough loaf at will without any special scrapers, baskets, scales, or Dutch ovens:

Whole Wheat Sourdough Boule

Whole Wheat Sourdough

Sourdough Whole Wheat Boule

Day 2: Sourdough culture

Sourdough 2

The link below is brilliant if you’re interested in three-ingredient bread, but I didn’t really get it until I re-read it earlier today. The last time I read it, sometime between putting up my starters and now, a lot slipped by me:

debunking the myths and mysteries of harnessing wild yeast

In short, I feel I’m reaching my recipe-less sourdough bread goal. I could make bread pretty much anywhere if I had flour, water, salt, and time, and that feels pretty groovy.

No-Knead Sourdough Bread

October 20th, 2015 | Posted by Mush in Recipes - (3 Comments)

In which there’s no recipe BECAUSE BREAD IS ENTIRELY fucking RANDOM! Whoo! IT’S ALIVE!

This is one of those food blog posts in which the author bangs on and on about nothing and talks about her personal life, but there’s no recipe at the end so it’s technically not one of those posts, you know, the ones I bitch about because the irrelevant nonsense takes like half an hour to scroll past before you get to the fucking recipe but there is no recipe here so it’s totally different!

I have no idea if any of this about the healthfulness or digestibility of sourdough bread is scientifically backed or even true, but it sounds nice and I’ve had time on my hands so I grew some sourdough starter and fed it every day for about a week.

Then I split it in half, and now I have two sourdough starters: one primarily white, one whole wheat. (The whole wheat one is slightly more active, which is the opposite of what I expected.)

I know nothing about baking but I can cook, I can read, and I can learn. So I’ve been reading everything I can get my eyeballs on about traditional bread baking, no-knead bread, and sourdough.

Sourdough

My observation is that there’s no such thing as a bread recipe. Every single recipe is different. Every single video shows utterly different methods. Baking temperature, baking times are always wildly divergent, even for the same amount of the same type of dough. It’s a complete disaster, this whole bread-baking thing.

If you want, for example, to learn how to make enchilada sauce, because you’re not Mexican and you never saw the elder women in your family do it and so you have very little sense of how it’s done, you get online and you read anywhere from 6 to thirty enchilada sauce recipes in a row. You find out what all the recipes have in common in terms of ingredients, ratios, and procedures, and you more or less do the mean, the average, the gist of all those recipes. And you’re going to end up with something fantastic.

This is how I have learned make everything I cook, from chicken noodle soup to pudlas: read as many recipes as possible, do what they all have in common. If you see the same exact noodle recipe in fifteen different places, use that one. It’s the one that works.

People have been baking bread for ten thousand years, and apparently everybody does it differently and has a different pet theory about what’s happening in the proofing bowl. Bread’s alive, and it responds to the various environments it finds itself in, so there are no hard and fast rules. All those incredibly verbose bread blogs I skimmed are trying to teach instinct, not technique: how to tell when to add more flour, when to leave it alone, when to bake it and for how long and how high. Every single blog says somewhere that you just have to bake enough bread to get a feel for it.

My conclusion: It’s just fucking bread! We discovered leavening by accident, probably from just leaving dough lying around like lazy ancient hippies! There is no technique as much as intuition! Apparently any idiot can make bread!

And I’m definitely any idiot. (In my entire life I’d made no-knead bread twice, a couple of soda breads that don’t even count, and a kneaded sourdough once that didn’t really turn out that well because I dunno shit about kneading bread. And that’s my whole entire baking career.) So I decided to wing it and go by feels!

I’d gotten the starters down from the top of the fridge to feed them and thought, “What the hell. I’ll use the discards and fake my way through some bread.” So I poured half of each into the ugly pink bowl that is my only bowl and therefore gets constant use — possibly as much as two cups of unfed starter, maybe even more — added some warm tap water, added some white flour, added some salt, added some yeast. Stirred it up. Set the bowl on the top of the (gas, and therefore always warm) stove and covered it. And forgot about it for twelve hours while I drank wine, read sci-fi, watched 70’s British horror films, and slept.

Sometime in the middle of the next day I poured the doubled-in-volume, bubbly dough out onto a floured counter top and it was so wet it just ran all over the place. I had to scrape it up with a spatula. It was a huge, sticky fucking mess. I threw it back into the bowl with a bunch of flour and stirred it up, then covered it and returned it to the top of the stove.

Did the same thing again in the evening. The dough was slightly stiffer, but still just flopped all over the place and could scarcely be folded in thirds. Needless to say, I floured the hell out of it and stuck it back in its bowl — after I’d scraped a bunch of half-dried sticky wallpaper paste out of it and washed and dried it — on top of a generous sheet of parchment.

At about the 24-hour mark, I used the now-damp parchment paper to lift it — still a floppy mass and unable to hold a shape, but still clearly active in terms of yeast — into a pre-heated stainless steel stockpot in a 400F oven, where I let it bake for the better part of an hour, misting the floor of the oven with water at random intervals and watching classic pro-wrestling with my boyfriend. (Some of those costumes are seriously hilarious, as is this video. Plus he gets a kick out of it, so who am I to judge.)

Sourdough 2

When knocking on the bottom of the loaf produced a hollow sound we left off baking (even though I’m convinced it could easily have stood another 15 minutes in the oven). It overnighted on a wire rack, and when I got up today I cut into it. It’s heavy, moist, with what they call ‘beautiful artisanal crumb’ and a gorgeous (for a bread containing whole wheat) soft but chewy crust.

Sourdough 3

It’s also incredibly sour, like a San Francisco loaf. So sour it drowns out the taste of butter altogether. I knew it would be sour because of the long rise time, but it’s REALLY SOUR. It’ll have to be eaten with really strong flavors: olive tapenade, aged cheeses, pesto. Maybe a thick, spicy tomato soup.

I’m guessing that the whole kneading thing offers a baker a little more control over her bread, but I’m not sure I’m up to bothering to learn it yet when I can have perfectly edible loaves with the no-knead “method” and time and guesses.

Off to go see what the internet suggests one do with a very sour loaf of sourdough bread, then.

Old Fashioned Frosting

August 29th, 2015 | Posted by Mush in Family | Food | Recipes - (0 Comments)

In which there’s a recipe from my grandma.

I came across the image below from a few years ago, remembered how really delicious that frosting was, and realized that I have no idea how to make old fashioned frosting.

So I googled it. Weird results.

(I mean, I’m off carbs right now, but it’s unlikely that I’ll never eat another cupcake. A girl never knows when she might be called upon to produce, you know, delicious treats for some event or another. Best remedy this lack of knowledge!)

Low tea

So I emailed my G’ma and asked her for the recipe. This is what she said:

Somewhere out there there is probably a recipe for that frosting with accurate measurments but this is my way.

You will need powdered sugar, butter, or if you want white frosting use shortening, and some liquid.

I melt about two tablespoons of butter, add about equal amount of cream, and slowly add powdered sugar. A little liquid absorbs a lot of sugar, so add slowly mix until spreadable.

Then the fun begins, add any flavoring you like or spice, food coloring for fun. Powdered cocoa if you want chocolate. A tiny touch of mint is good in choc. Orange juice or lemon juice can be used instead of cream. Top with whatever.

I have used molasses in place of cream when frosting a spice cake. The more sugar used and liquid the more frosting you get till finally you can frost dozens, so that is why you add sugar slowly. After a few times you will have it perfect for your project.

Basically a procedure for making delicious frosting in any flavor in any quantity! And much better than that crap in a tub from the grocery store, in my opinion, although I have been known to eat that stuff by the spoonful on occasion.

Stovetop macaroni and cheese recipe

July 16th, 2015 | Posted by Mush in Food | Recipes - (1 Comments)

In which sometimes you just don’t want to turn on the damn oven.

I had intended to pop over to the grocery store this afternoon, but by the time I was ready it had started raining and has been raining ever since. So I had to make something with what I had, so macaroni and cheese for dinner it is!

It turned out quite well, actually.

Stovetop macaroni and cheese

8 ounces uncooked macaroni
1-1/2 cups whole milk
1 teaspoon prepared yellow mustard
1 teaspoon steak sauce (I used Heinz 57)
3/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste
3 or more generous dashes of hot pepper sauce (I used Crystal)
1-1/2 tablespoons butter
1-3/4 cups grated cheddar cheese
1-3/4 cups grated American cheese
2-3 oz crumbled feta cheese
1/2 teaspoon paprika

1 – Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add macaroni and cook for 8 to 10 minutes.

2 – While macaroni is cooking, heat milk in the microwave. Whisk in the mustard, steak sauce, salt, and hot sauce.

3 – When al dente, drain the macaroni and return to the pot. Stir in the butter and the three cheeses. When incorporated, pour the hot milk mixture over the macaroni.

4 – Simmer briefly over medium heat, stirring often. Then cook on very low heat until thickened. (No need to stir after turning the heat down, though, because it’ll just break the macaroni.)


This recipe is adapted from cafeteria macaroni and cheese, which I was going to make but didn’t have the ingredients for and I seriously didn’t want to run the oven.

How to make pudlas

April 19th, 2015 | Posted by Mush in Food | Recipes - (1 Comments)

In which there’s a process more than a recipe.

A pudla [ pooda, poodla, puda, chila, cheela, chilla ] is a savory pancake made from lentils, rice, and/or flour. They’re cheap, easy, delicious, and I think it’s weird that I’d never even heard of them until last year. (Apparently they’re a breakfast food in India, sometimes served as snacks, or for lunch with side dishes. I don’t know why they don’t exist in every cuisine that uses lentils, because you can make them with any kind.)

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To make some, you don’t really need a recipe so much as a procedure, maybe like this:

1. Soak 1 c. dal in 2 c. warm water for 2 to 4 hours

Get out your ugly pink bowl and put a cup of dal and two cups of warm water in it. (I used the last of the chora dal*, about 3/4 cup, and some toor dal to make a whole cup of dal. You can use any dal at all except maybe urad, and any combination of dals including urad.

Put your ugly pink bowl in the microwave to keep the heat in because it’s kinda chilly today and let the lentils soak for 2 to 4 hours. Check on it every so often; if the water gets cold just run the microwave for a minute.

Soaked dals

The dal will have absorbed at least half the water and gotten larger. If there’s a lot of water remaining, drain some off, but this recipe isn’t picky. If the batter is too wet, the extra water just steams off during cooking.

2. Add desired flavorings and grind into a pancake batter consistency

I grabbed these things: turmeric, cumin, asafoetida, methi powder, garlic, jalapeno, onion, and ginger. You can use any, all, or none of these.

Ingredients

Add some spices to your soaked lentils: perhaps 1/3 tsp. methi powder, a dash of asafoetida, 1/4 tsp. whole or ground cumin, and 1/4 tsp. turmeric. Mince onion, jalapeno, garlic, and/or ginger in whatever proportions appeal to you and add them to the bowl.

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Grind the whole mess until you’ve got yourself a pancake batter-like consistency. Add water if needed. You can use a blender or a food processor or an immersion blender.

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Stir in up to a teaspoon of salt, depending on your taste.

3. Fry

Heat a griddle or a Teflon pan to medium-high heat. Add a little neutral vegetable oil.

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Fry your savory pancakes. Remove to a plate (lined with a paper towel, if your pudlas are a little greasy).

Pudlas need to be cooked longer than regular pancakes because the dal is raw and needs time to steam fry, but the process is similar and will seem familiar: pour batter onto the griddle, smooth with the back of a spoon as you would with thick pancake batter, cook. Lift an edge to check for doneness, and flip when golden.

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4. Eat

Eat a couple-three pudlas hot, with whatever condiment appeals to you. Green chutneys are often recommended — I like mint, myself — and coconut chutney is awesome with them.

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Fry up however many pudlas you’re going to eat — they’re remarkably filling, so you’ll only need a couple — and put the rest of the batter in the fridge in a closed container. It’ll keep at least a week, so you can fry up a snack whenever you want.

More recipes:
Chora daal na pooda – http://enjoyindianfood.blogspot.com/2008/03/chora-daal-na-pooda.html
Chola dal poodla – http://www.tarladalal.com/Chola-Dal-Pudla-569r
Moong dal pudla – http://mayurisjikoni.blogspot.com/2012/09/healthy-snack.html
Stuffed moong dal chilla – http://www.archanaskitchen.com/recipes/indian/snacks-and-sweets/indian-party-appetizer-recipes/935-moong-dal-chilla-cheela-stuffed-with-paneer
Panchratna poodas – http://enjoyindianfood.blogspot.com/2009/04/panchratna-pooda.html


* ‘Chora dal’ is split cow peas, otherwise known as blackeyed peas, so it has a very low glycemic index which is what makes pudlas such an excellent bread substitute.

In which there’s a recipe for soup, because I want to know EXACTLY WHERE THIS IS and not have to read a dozen other recipes again the next time I decide to make soup for Scott.

I haven’t eaten chicken noodle soup for a few decades, probably, but I remember the Campbell’s and Lipton versions: bright yellow, thin, with itty bitty cubes of meat. Not really all that great. Certainly didn’t evoke feelings of wholesomeness or profound nutrition.

Then, a couple of months ago, Scott said he thought he was coming down with something and I told him I’d make chicken noodle soup if he brought home a chicken. I mean, wasn’t there that thing once where science supported old wives’ tales and determined that chicken noodle soup really is good for colds?

The resultant concoction, even though I didn’t eat any (because EEWH DEAD CHICKEN BODY), was rich, wholesome, and nourishing. In, like, some sort of profound way. Scott didn’t catch that cold, so the shit really works, and the rest of the pot went into the freezer to be pulled out when needed: the next time he felt under the weather, as something to take for lunch the next day, as something warm and homemade when he’d had a bad day.

Part One: The Stock

In a large stock pot, bring to a boil:

1 large carrot, roughly chopped
1 large celery rib, roughly chopped, with leaves
1 medium onion, peeled and cut in half or quarters
2 cloves garlic, crushed
Several sprigs of fresh parsley (or the equivalent dried)
1 tsp. dried thyme or to taste
A few black peppercorns, cracked
1-2 large bay leaves
1 chicken bouillon cube (optional)
1 whole chicken, rinsed, about 3-1/2 pounds, gizzards removed
10-12 c. water

Reduce to a lively simmer and allow to cook until the meat falls off the bone, a couple of hours or so. Add water as needed to keep the chicken submerged.

When the bird starts to fall apart, remove it from the pot and let it rest on a platter to cool. Strip the meat and dispose of the skin and bones. Skim the fat from the broth if you want, and strain out the remaining veggie solids and eat them or chuck them.

You can stick both the meat and the broth in the fridge at this point and go drink some wine and deal with the rest of this shit tomorrow or later or when you get back from running errands or whatever.

Part Two: The Egg Noodles

You can use store-bought noodles, of course, and a lot of recipes do call for them, but I don’t really see the point of laming out now when you’re already halfway through making full-on awesome homemade chicken noodle soup. Plus noodles are hella easy and don’t take any time at all. Plus you can say YOU MADE THEM AND THIS ENTIRE GODDAMNED SOUP IS LEGIT FUCKIN’ HOMEMADE, BITCHES.

So, since you’re gonna make your own noodles, you need:

Some clean counter space
1 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling out
1/4 teaspoon salt
1-2 tablespoons milk
1/2 teaspoon oil
1 egg

Combine the flour and salt in and make a well in the center. Crack the egg into it. Use a fork to beat the egg and then gradually start incorporating the flour into the eggs. Sprinkle the milk and oil onto the dough. Keep stirring and pulling in more flour until a solid dough forms. The dough will be sticky.

With well-floured hands, knead the dough, incorporating more flour as necessary to keep it from sticking to the work surface or your hands, until it is smooth and firm and no longer sticky.

Cover the dough with plastic wrap and let it rest for half an hour or so while you do other things, like chop the vegetables and get the herbs and spices you’ll need for the soup.

Flour the counter and roll out the dough using a rolling pin or large bottle. Try to get it nice and thin, less than a quarter of an inch if possible. Slice into noodles and place on a paper towel. (Apparently you can, at this point, place them on a rack to dry and then store them in an air-tight bag in your pantry for several weeks.)

Or, make these (they’re the simplest — fewest ingredients). Or these.

Part Three: The Soup Itself

Re-heat the broth in a soup pot while adding:

1 carrot, diced
1 rib celery, diced
1 small onion, diced
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
1/4 tsp. dried parsley
2 cups diced or shredded chicken meat
salt & pepper to taste

Bring to a gentle simmer. Add your noodles and cook until they’re done, about half an hour depending on their size and thickness.

Adjust seasonings as needed and serve immediately, or cool and freeze to enjoy on a rainy day or the next time you think you’re catching cold.

Note: Apparently this soup is magic and makes people feel better.

Recipe: Easy Salsa

August 5th, 2014 | Posted by Mush in Recipes - (0 Comments)

In which I was out of salsa but, believe it or not, had all the following ingredients on hand, so I made some!

Easy Salsa

Ingredients
1 15 oz. can diced tomatoes, drained and juice reserved
1 small onion, finely diced
1 jalapeno, minced
1 large clove garlic, minced
1 Tbsp. olive oil
juice of 1 small lime
3/4 tsp. ground cumin

Method
Add all ingredients to a bowl or pot and blend with your trusty immersion blender until desired consistency is reached. Loosen with reserved tomato juice, if needed, and just drink it or pour it out if not.

Add salt to taste (most canned tomatoes are salty enough, so you may not need to) and refrigerate.

You can reduce the amount of jalapeno if you don’t like heat (or even omit it altogether and substitute a pinch of cayenne or three). The salsa will get warmer as it sits and the jalapeno has a chance to blend.

Optional: You can also add 1/4 c. of chopped cilantro if your boyfriend isn’t a hater. You can also also simmer this salsa to smooth out the raw taste and then cool and refrigerate.