Friday, October 19, 2012

Curried Eggs

Curry Spiced Eggs

I'm not entirely sure when my weird obsession with turmeric started. And I'm not even sure it's a weird obsession. I just think potatoes and onions look funny unless they're stained with its yellow hue.

But anyway, it's a Friday and lunchtime and I'm standing in the kitchen with eggs and curry powder and turmeric and nutmeg and a quarter of an old onion and half a package of goat cheese sitting on the counter in front of me while I wait for the oil in my tiny little skillet to heat up. I like my skillet. It's cute and adorable and the perfect size for making eggs just for me, and I smile, and thinly slice the onion and listen to the sizzle as the onion hits the now-hot oil. Turning up the dulcet tones of the Taylor Swift song filling my ear, I sprinkle a bit of salt and turmeric powder over the onions, and they turn a beautiful golden shade as I stir them...

I also, clearly, have been craving narratives. Terrible narratives that we both know I can't write, and that definitely have no place here. But regardless, it's Friday (does that mean it's the freakin' weekend yet and I can have me some fun? Nope. Not this weekend) and I made myself some delicious eggs and gluten-free toast for lunch. (As to why the toast was gluten-free, that's a different story, and it'll come later.) And despite the funny looks I get from my roommates for putting curry powder in my eggs, I like to think of it as sophisticated, though surely that isn't actually true. And I'm far from the definition of "sophisticated" with my bright pink melamine plates and heart-covered tumblers. But hey, it works for me. As does listening to this song on repeat. Yep, that definitely puts a smile on my face.

Spices in my eggs!

As for this recipe, it's not really that specific. There are no proportions here for the spices, because I pretty much just decide by thinking, "Hm, that smells like a good amount." I like spices. I could've been happy dumping even more spices in here. But eggs, onion, and curry powder go together wonderfully. And goat cheese just mellows it out and makes it even creamier.

Curry Spiced Eggs
Curried Scrambled Eggs
this feeds 1 person, maybe
2 teaspoons oil
1/4 small onion, thinly sliced
2 eggs
3 tablespoons milk
curry powder - or - nutmeg and turmeric (or both)
goat cheese

In a small skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft. You can add some salt to taste, and turmeric if desired.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, and curry powder. I use a around 1/4 teaspoon of a sweeter curry powder. Sometimes I just use turmeric and nutmeg instead of a curry powder. Season with salt and pepper if desired.

Pour eggs over onions, and reduce heat to low. Stir constantly until no longer runny but not completely dry, about 3 minutes. Add goat cheese, stir once more, and then remove from the pan and enjoy!

Friday, October 05, 2012

Oops... I Did It Again

Stereotypical St. Louis

I'm back in St. Louis again. St. Louis. I don't know what else to say about it. Other than since moving here for school I've been neglecting this thing terribly. And I guess it took my friend mentioning a strategy I taught her to make me realize just how much I miss this. And that maybe I do actually cook more than I think I do, though considering dinner last night was four ingredients - dried pasta, frozen broccoli, mushroom alfredo sauce, crushed red pepper - and definitely not something to write home about, I'm not sure I have much to share. I don't even like alfredo sauce, so why I bought a jar of it is somewhat of a mystery.

Broccoli and Mushroom Alfredo Pasta"

This nonsense needs to stop. I'm not even sure when the last time I baked something was. Though, if I count that disastrous casserole I made myself for dinner following a trip to the second-run cinema in nearby Illinois for a showing of Men In Black 3 a couple of weeks ago, it's only been a few weeks.

College Dinner

But I digress. Or not. I'm not sure what all constitutes a digression anymore. I mean, what is the point of this if not to go out on somewhat related tangents and vent about all the food-related things in my life. Which, in all honesty, at this point might be more beverage-related. I may be going a little overboard with the whole being-21 thing. Beer is tasty. Cocktails are magical. Wine is... well, it's just not as new and exciting to me as the previous two. And the fact that Cicero's Beer School exists just makes it all even better. That, and well, ice cream martinis are a thing, so don't even try to tell me I shouldn't be enamored.

Pasta Salad

So, in reality, life just involves a lot of pasta. And pasta salad. And beer. And maybe one of these days I'll figure out exactly what I'm doing and share it with you. Actually, I sort of know what I'm doing with the pasta salad - it's wonderful, and an idea I stole from something I used to get from dining services all the time my sophomore year. But I never keep track of what I'm doing, so I'm not quite sure how to articulate the making of it.

And that failure of a casserole... well, I'm determined to make it work. And when I do, you'll probably hear more about it. But, in the mean time, just know I'm probably eating embarrassing food. Or drinking out of a metal lens mug.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

The Limes are the Key

Key Lime Curd 
Despite my lack of posts this semester, I've been writing about food more than ever. Why, you may ask? That has an easy answer - I'm taking a course on the wonderful world of food writing. But it wasn't until this week that the topic approached something I could use not only as an assignment for class, but an excuse to update this blog as well.

Sitting in class last Thursday, I was handed two limes of differing sizes. The typical Persian lime and a small, surprisingly green Key lime. And with that, I knew I had to take an approach to the assignment of writing about limes and including a recipe to use the key limes. I sent my boyfriend to the grocery store with the request to pick up a bag of key limes if they were available, and he returned with a bag, but not before calling me to ask how to tell if limes are any good. (In case you're wondering, scald - those tiny brown patches - is okay, but if they're dried up, mushy, or wrinkly, that's bad.)

It took me three days to finally decide, but when I did, I decided on something that is more of an ingredient than a final product: Key Lime Curd. And since I made that, I needed to make some scones to eat with them. And then, as a wonderfully simple and delicious dessert last night, Key Lime "Mousse," which was nothing more than a half cup of heavy cream whipped to nice soft peaks, 1/4 cup of the lime curd, and then some vigorous whisking until it was an even consistency. Now that's simple and elegant.

Key Lime Curd
Key Lime Curd
Yield: ½ cup
If key limes are not available, substitute Persian limes in this recipe.

2 large eggs
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup freshly squeezed key lime juice, from about 9 small limes
1 tablespoon grated key lime zest

1. Bring 2 inches of water to a simmer in a saucepan. Be sure that the mixing bowl you choose to make the curd in fits in the pan without touching the bottom.

2.With a hand mixer on medium or wire whisk, whip the eggs and sugar together into pale yellow and fluffy, about 1 minute with a mixer. Whisk in lime juice and zest.
3. Rest the bowl over the pot of simmering water. Cook, whisking occasionally, until the mixture is thick and custard-like, about 10 to 15 minutes, or until a thermometer reads 160ºF.

4. Fill a large bowl about halfway with ice and a cup of water to make an ice bath. Once the curd is thick, remove it from the stove and rest the bowl in ice bath, stirring occasionally, until cool.

5. Use immediately, or transfer to a container to store in the refrigerator for 3-5 days.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The 21st Birthday Cake

Guinness and Bailey's Chocolate Layer Cake

In the United States there's this mystique surrounding the 21st birthday. And by "mystique" I mean the ability to legally purchase your own alcohol and to legally imbibe in alcoholic beverages (responsibly, of course.)

With one of my friends slyly mentioned that her 21st birthday fell on a Friday, and that she would be having a party that night, I jumped at the opportunity. "May I make your cake as a present?" I asked her enthusiastically. She looked at me like I was crazy for even thinking the response might be a no. "Of course." Then a few weeks ago I sent her a text asking for some flavor suggestions. Her response? "Chocolate, raspberry, coffee, Bailey's, something with some of those?"

Beer and Bailey's

So with it being her 21st birthday and with that list of suggestions, what's more fitting for such an occasion than yet another cake with alcohol in it, not that this cake needs to be reserved for such an event. This one combines the Guinness ChocolateCake I made last year for my St. Patrick's Day-born aunt's birthday with a take on the awesome stabilized whipped cream from Tish Boyle's The Cake Book that I previously used in abourbon chocolate cake with a rich whipped chocolate ganache filling. So maybe she didn't mention beer, but swapping raspberry for beer sounded like a good idea, and decorating the cake with some dark-chocolate covered espresso beans threw in the coffee for good measure. And then there was the Bailey's making it's appearance in both the filling and the frosting.

I'd like to think the fact that people ate so little of the cake doesn't mean that it was a failure. From all the compliments, especially from the birthday girl, I'd say it was a success. But after tacos and numerous beers, a cake this rich was just the icing on the cake - a very thin, delicious layer of icing.

Guinness and Bailey's Chocolate Layer Cake
Guinness and Bailey's Chocolate Layer Cake
Makes a 6" round cake
Serves 10-20

For the Guinness chocolate cake layers:
adapted from Vegetarian Times, March 2006
2/3 cup stout, room temperature (I don't know how to measure beer. It was too frothy at the top, so I ended up using 2/3 cup+ with the froth since I did a bad job pouring)
10 Tablespoons butter
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
2/3 cup strained yogurt or sour cream
powdered sugar, for dusting

For the whipped chocolate ganache filling:
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
2/3 cup heavy cream
2 Tablespoons Bailey’s Irish cream

For the whipped cream frosting:
1/4 cup (28 g) confectioner's (powdered) sugar
1 1/4 teaspoons cornstarch
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1-2 Tablespoons Bailey's Irish cream

Chocolate covered espresso beans (optional, for decoration)
Chocolate shavings (optional, for decoration)

To make the cake layers:
Preheat oven to 350ºF. Butter a deep 6" round pan and line with buttered parchment and dust with cocoa powder.

In a heavy saucepan over medium heat, bring stout and butter to a simmer. Whisk in cocoa until smooth. Cool slightly.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt.

Beat egg, egg yolk, and yogurt with an electric mixer in a large bowl until smooth and blended. Add beer-chocolate mixture and beat to combine.

Beat in flour mixture for 15-30 seconds on lowest speed. Fold batter using rubber spatula until completely combined. Don't fold too much. Pour into prepared pan.

Bake about 50-60 minutes, or until tester inserted into center of cake comes out clean. Cool about 10 minutes on rack. If cake needs loosening from sides of pan, run a small knife around edges. Turn out cake onto rack (if using parchment, peel off) and let cool completely.

To make the chocolate ganache filling:
Place the chocolate in a small heatproof bowl. In a small saucepan, bring the cream to a gentle boil. Pour the cream over the chocolate and let sit for a minute. With a whisk, whisk the cream and chocolate until smooth, followed by the Bailey's. Let cool about 20 minutes or until cool, stirring occasionally. You can cool it off in an ice bath or the refrigerator to speed up the process. Once cooled, beat with a mixer for 30 seconds or until fluffy.

To make the whipped cream frosting:
In a small saucepan, whisk together the sugar, cornstarch, and 1/4 cup of the cream until smooth. Place pan over medium-high heat and bring to a boil, whisking constantly. Allow to boil for about 15 seconds. Remove the pan from the heat and let cool completely.

Once it cools, using the whisk attachment of an electric mixer, beat the remaining 1 1/4 cups of heavy cream with the vanilla extract and bourbon at medium-high speed until the cream begins to thicken and the whisk leaves a train in the cream. Add the cooled cream and cornstarch mixture and beat until stiff peaks.

To assemble:
Slice cake into three even layers.

Place the bottom layer on a cake round or a cake plate and affix with a bit of chocolate ganache. Spread the top with half of the chocolate ganache and spread a thin layer on the side to seal in crumbs. Place second layer on top and use remaining chocolate ganache and place final cake layer on top. If needed, refrigerate cake for a while before proceeding to next step if the cake seems like the layers will slide off.

Spread 2/3 of the icing on the top and sides of the cake. If using chocolate shavings, pat them on the sides of the cake now.

Place remaining icing in a pastry bag with tip or a baggie with a corner snipped off to decorate the cake.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Cooking Carrot Cake Like It's The Seventies

Carrot Cake Cupcake (Unwrapped)

Carrot Cake is delicious and tasty, and my thoughts on this subject clearly mean I was born in the wrong decade. Except, like fashion, food fads come around. And sure, red velvet cake may be the popular one right now, but hey, carrots are way more awesome than chocolate (okay, maybe they aren't) and you still get the cream cheese frosting!

But that's beside the point. Or maybe it is the point. I'm not quite sure. What I do know, however, is that I've made this carrot cake three times in the past month. THREE. I didn't even have the recipe with me the third time. That's how easy it is! It also means I have no idea where I originally got these proportions from, since I kind of just looked for a recipe that used the ingredients that I believed went into carrot cake, and went from there.

What prompted this carrot cake madness? Gorgeous carrots of course! Except they weren't all that pretty the third time. In case you were wondering, which you probably weren't, the carrots I used in Tehran were way more orange than the ones I picked up at a Schnuck's in St. Louis last week. But regardless of just how orange the carrots are, the cakes were tasty both places. The only time the cake, in my opinion, turned out less than stellar was when I cooked it in the form of a tube cake at my grandparent's garden house. Right before I was about to pour the batter into the pan, I thought it looked off, and realized I'd forgotten the oil. Adding oil at the last step meant overstirring the cake, bringing out the sticky property of gluten - not something you want in a tender cake. But, everybody still loved the cake, or at least they pretended to. All-in-all, I ended up giving four people the recipe for this cake while I was there. It'll be interesting to find out if any of them ever actually make it.

Carrot Cake Cupcake
Simple Carrot Cake
Note: This cake can make 2 9" cake rounds, or probably somewhere around 24 cupcakes, or a bundt cake, or a sheet cake. The cooking instructions below are for cupcakes.

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger (alternately, you can use 2 teaspoons of fresh grated ginger)
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups granulated sugar
4 eggs
1 cup canola oil
4 cups grated carrot (about 5-6 average-sized carrots)
1 cup raisins (or chopped, toasted walnuts), optional

Preheat the oven to 350ºF (180ºC). Line a cupcake pan with 12 liners. If you have 2 pans, line both, otherwise you'll need to bake them in two batches.

In a small bowl, whisk together the all-purpose flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and salt. Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar and eggs until pale and thick. Whisk in the canola oil.

Add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients, and with a spatula or wooden spoon, stir until just almost combined. Add the carrots and raisins or walnuts, if using and stir until all the flour is moistened.

Fill the lined muffin cups about 2/3 full of batter. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until the tops spring back when lightly touched. Remove from oven and let cool for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Once cool you can top them with cream cheese frosting, if desired. See recipe below or use your favorite cream cheese frosting recipe.

Cream Cheese Frosting

8 ounces (1 package) cream cheese, softened
4 ounces (1 stick) butter, softened
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup powder sugar, or to taste

Beat together cream cheese and butter until smooth and fluffy. Beat in salt and vanilla extract. Slowly add powdered sugar and beat to incorporate.