Tuesday, April 24, 2007

My Favorite Salad

This is my all-time favorite salad. It's a really, really hard recipe, too. Here's what you do:
You go to Trader Joe's (or any grocery) and buy:
1 bag salad (I like baby greens)
1 container crumbled gorgonzola or other yummy blue cheese
1 package toasted, candied pecans
1 package dried cranberries
1 bottle raspberry dressing (perhaps a vinaigrette)
Get a big bowl or plate. Put a few handfuls of greens on the plate. Generously sprinkle blue cheese and cranberries over the top. Get out a cutting board and a sharp knife. Chop up the nuts into smaller chunks (not too small). Sprinkle these (again, be generous!) over the top. Either serve dressing on the side, or toss with dressing (my usual choice). Serve.
Oh, what's so hard about the recipe? The hard part is not stuffing the salad into your mouth in gigantic bites because it's so good you just can't believe it.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Asparagus Soup

It's officially asparagus season, not that you would know it from the local Albertson's. I hate their produce selection. I hope to go over to Berkeley Bowl sometime this weekend and get a bundle of artichokes and maybe some more asparagus. I love the little pencil spears, cooked 'till bright green, served with a little lemon, maybe a little garlic mayonnaise.

I remember the first time I made asparagus. It was probably just a year or two after I moved here. We didn't have asparagus much when I was growing up, so it was sort of a mystery. I made some recipe that called for a lemon cream sauce to be poured over the top of the spears. I think I'd overcooked them. And the sauce was lumpy. Not a good way to to start off my asparagus experience.

However, somehow, miraculously, my cooking skills have improved since then. I now know when to take asparagus off the heat, and to plunge into cold water to stop the cooking. I don't make crummy sauces much (or sauces at all). I do, however love to make soup. I made asparagus soup with parmesan croutons last night.

It was very easy. Simmer 2 pounds of asparagus with 1 large chopped onion and a bay leaf, in stock, for an hour. Take out bay leaf. Blend. Season with salt, pepper, white pepper, a few drops lemon juice. Add some cream or milk if you like. I used soy milk.

So, my skills have improved. Except for one little thing. I can never remember to take out the bay leaf when I blend things. So here's a hint: if you notice that you've forgotten to take the bay leaf out when you're blending a soup, just keep blending until it's totally pulverized.

And add a little extra pepper.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Miso And A Good Book

Taking one's self out to dinner every once in awhile seems like one of those things adults can just do. I thought about going to the little diner on the corner, but I figured Japanese (next door to the diner) might feel a little better in the tummy. A little chicken donburi, some miso, green tea and salad (and a good book)... pretty much perfect.

Being an adult is pretty okay. I don't have kids (yet), I'm not a dirt-poor student. Sometimes it's pretty fun to just decide to do something and do it.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Coffee And Doughnuts

I have the best partner ever. This morning I woke up and really, really wanted coffee and doughnuts (you know how that happens sometimes?). However, we had no half-and-half, nor doughnuts. Terri hopped out of bed and, BEFORE CAFFEINE, went to the doughnut shop and convenience store and got both milk and doughnuts. Before caffeine, people. This is devotion.

And these were good doughnuts. And perfect French-press coffee. Life is good.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Vegetable Curry

I'm cooking this right now, as I write. It's going to get a splash of coconut milk and some peas to finish it off. It smells unbelieveably good.

I learned a lesson, however. When toasting dry spices, do not leave them unattended. They will smoke like hell, and actually incinerate. Um.

PS: this was not the most successful recipe. It was good, but the curry was too harsh. Also, I notice that bubbling red curry sauce in low light does not make the most attractive photo. So, not exactly successful, on the whole. Better luck next time.

Orecchiette with Peas, Cabbage and Lemon Sauce

This is my favorite pasta right now. Orecchiette, peas, napa cabbage simmered in a light lemon sauce. The lemon zest with the napa cabbage is *so* good. This is seriously addictive. It's light, but with that certain flavor that just keeps you coming back for "one more bite."

Monday, April 9, 2007

Daffodil Cake

In honor of Easter, I made a Daffodil Cake (this isn't the recipe I used, but it's very similar and I'm sure just fine). This is, essentially, a white sponge cake with some yellow sponge cake batter plopped in here and there to look like bursts of yellow flowers. I should have take a picture of it when cut, because it really does resemble beautiful yellow and white flowers.

It's just slightly different than making an angel food cake. I'm not really sure what the difference is, actually. But, it's a little moister and maybe a little more flavorful. And the yellow cake splotches here and there add more moisture and flavor. It's a really nice spring cake, would be cute for a kid's birthday party.

To make it, you need an angel food cake pan, and I'd go with a fluffier frosting than what I used. It was an old fashioned recipe and I wasn't crazy about the frosting (butter, powdered sugar and egg whites, plus some orange zest). This one might be better.

The flowers in the center are a nice touch. I happened to have a mini bud vase that fit perfectly in the hole in the center. Voila! Daffodil cake. A tad literal, perhaps, but still cute.

Monday, April 2, 2007

Potato, Panir, and Pea Curry

This is a good recipe from The Enchanted Broccoli Forest. It's very important that you use really, really firm yogurt. I use the Greek kind from Trader Joes.

I like the part where you toast the spices the best.

Mmmm. Toasty.
The finished product is not very photogenic. But aren't the spices nice?