Monthly Archives: November 2006

Beef Mushroom Barley soup

Beef Mushroom Barley soup, originally uploaded by c(h)ristine.

Late November: time to pull out the heavy blankets and snuggle up at night, shivering as you hit the cold sheets and wait to warm up. When you do find yourself enveloped in big fluffy blankets and warmth, that is just the essence of why I love Fall and Winter. I love that feeling of being bundled up in the chilly air.

That feeling of enveloping warmth is what a cup of hearty soup feels like.

Much as I love the cold weather, I love being in cold weather with a warm jacket, or sipping some hot soup and feeling my belly fill up while watching the leaves fall outside. Yes, you can have it both ways.

Here is a soup to match the weather: beef mushroom barley soup. I’m enjoying it tonight while the temps plunge below freezing (a big deal here in Berkeley) and I hope it helps me fight my sniffles.  As you see here, I’ve piled my soup high with the barley and beef and mushrooms and skimped on the broth (though it’s a lot soupier in reality).  I based it on the recipe at epicurious, adding my favorite garlic, upping the barley and such–in the end, I adjusted this recipe according to my own tastes.  I welcome you to adjust it further!

Recipe follows after the jump

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a shortcut to cheer

white chocolate chunk cookies, originally uploaded by c(h)ristine.

I needed some cheering up today. So I made a big batch of white chocolate chunk cookies. It worked! I used the same recipe as for chocolate chunk cookies, except with white chocolate chunks (valrhona, lindt, and ghirardelli). I also added some walnuts (I had some lying around) in the last half of this batch.

Since they cheered me up–I thought I’d share. Maybe they’ll cheer you up too.

Unexpected Egg Pizza

An experiment: fried egg pizza, originally uploaded by c(h)ristine.

We went to Gioia’s pizza in Berkeley for a slice of pizza. There really is no better New York Style pizza in the near East Bay (or maybe the entire San Francisco Bay Area) than the crispy thin pies at Gioia’s Pizzeria in North Berkeley. They even, most days, have one pizza topping option that would satisfy the “California pizza” lovers out here (like asparagus). But my favorites are the more traditional cheese, and anchovy pizzas.

I ordered my usual slice of New York style cheese pizza and then spotted this thing waaay behind, in the back. “What is that? Is that an experiment?” It looked like a pizza slice with a fried egg on top of it. The employees smiled. “Nope, not an experiment, it’s just someone who’s crazy around here.” They pointed to the guy who was busy making pizza dough.

Then they gave me the slice. For free. (“Want to try?” they asked. I nodded, because I HAD to try–after all, I also had “cheese bibimbap” when I encountered it on a menu in Tokyo). They refused to take money for it–was that a sign? Was this pizza not worth the price? I said I’d tip them for the courtesy; they heartily accepted.

They stuck the slice in the oven to warm it up, and when it came out the egg that had been “easy over” with a yolk just a millimeter away from running out all over the pizza was considerably cooked. “It’s a little spicy,” they said; they didn’t need to say it, I could smell the spice from inches away. It smelled like salsa–the pizza’s toppings included chilis and ham and onions and tomatoes and a spicy salsa. This, I thought, would be like huevos rancheros on pizza.

It wasn’t bad. It wasn’t great. But it wasn’t bad.

I later got home and googled “egg pizza”–apparently, this isn’t so uncommon! On flickr itself, a search for egg pizza yielded lots of pictures of delicious looking egg pizza (better than this one I took of my slice–sorry, all I had was a cameraphone!). If you are so inclined, you can also make an egg pizza yourself–The Food Network has an egg pizza recipe in its database. Wowee.

Anyway. Consensus: It wasn’t bad. It wasn’t great. But it wasn’t bad. Maybe I was really hungry.

gobble gobble gumbo

turkey gumbo, originally uploaded by c(h)ristine.

I thought I’d do a post on what to do with turkey leftovers since it’s the day after Thanksgiving. (We had a wonderful traditional menu with many leftovers). Hopefully, my experiences might help you make a dent in your leftover turkey! (And if you’ve got leftover suggestions, feel free to share them–what do you do with your leftover turkey?).

We left our Thanksgiving turkey out, uncovered, overnight so I had quite a challenge on my hands: what to do with a dried out turkey? I felt awful thinking about throwing all that food away. Even if the turkey were moist and fresh, it would still be a challenge: I don’t know about you, but I’m not a fan of turkey. In fact, the only parts of a traditional Thanksgiving meal that I like are pie and stuffing. I could really do without the turkey, let alone DRY turkey.

A friend of mine, Susan, had asked for the turkey leftovers (yes, I’m lucky to have a friend who’ll take my turkey!), but I couldn’t give a turkey in this state to her!

I do love a cooking challenge, so this became a blessing in disguise–suddenly, I became engaged with this turkey! I suddenly felt passion for a turkey dish! It would have to be, as Susan and I discussed over instant messenger, something saucy or stewy. She suggested turkey enchiladas and mentioned a family “turkey a la king” recipe. Intriguing!

I went through my cache of family recipes and I thought: gumbo, food of my husband’s Louisiana childhood! This is a hodge-podge dish, very accomodating for leftover turkey and also, something altogether different from the previous night’s meal. Different textures, spices–it makes the turkey feel “new.”

Besides, who can turn down good old Louisiana style food? I loove gumbo!

Now that I’ve made the gumbo, I have NO MORE leftover turkey. And that makes me happy, because as you now know, I don’t like turkey. Yay, it’s GONE!

The most important part of this recipe (that I base on Emeril Lagasse’s gumbo recipes–damn, I hate his TV show but I like his recipes) is the roux–that is the heart of any gumbo recipe. Tend to it carefully until it turns the color of chocolate and you’ll be rewarded with the base flavor for a spectacular gumbo. You’ll also need some andouille sausage, too–I’m not a pork eater but I make allowances for this (naughty naughty me). The shrimp is optional.

I used the carcass of the turkey to make the broth for this gumbo. If you skip out on that step and use another source for broth–be sure to add the bay leaves and plenty of black pepper in the gumbo itself.

Recipe follows after the jump…

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Happy Pecan Pie

img_3011.JPGChristine talked me into attempting my first pie crust today. (actually my first one in about 15 years; the last one didn’t turn out so well)  It looks like a mess but I’m sure it will taste a lot better than the Pillsbury storebought crust.  All butter, courtsey of Martha Stewart. I will report back on the taste later!

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving!

I leave you with images from our household…wishing you a full stomach and full heart today!

i began cooking already...first up? cranberries

brussel sprouts

candied yams

baked winter squash

turkey done

pumpkin pie with whipped cream!

brussel sprouts with mushroom and pearl onions

quickie cake: citrus chiffon cake with citrus syrup

citrus chiffon cake with citrus syrup, originally uploaded by c(h)ristine.

Cakes to me, have always been an intricate and time consuming labor of love: first you make the cake, then you make the layers, the frosting, and then decorate. It’s no wonder they are so often associated with special occasions: birthday cakes, wedding cakes, etc.! In fact, one day I’m going to make one of those cakes I love and post it here (a lovely cardamom chiffon cake with rosewater frosting).

You see, those cakes are wonderful and inspiring to eat, but not so accessible. But then one day someone got me a bundt/flower cake pan and voila!: I discovered the “easy quick cakes.” These, I define as cakes that can be made out of one pan, in one layer, without so much as a lick of frosting. If you have a pretty pan, it’s even easier to make sure these cakes are attractive as well as tasty.

Today was an easy quickie cake day: I had to take refreshments to class–I realized this with only a couple hours to spare. Of course I had the option to go to the store and buy something, but oddly enough, baking something at home would be more convenient for me in this case. I had some work to do and if I timed it all correctly, I could get that work done while the item baked in the oven.

So I had to pick an item that would have very little prep before and afterwards. Cookies, though usually ideal, were out of the question: too much hurrying back and forth from the oven, at well-timed 10-15 minute intervals. It would not give me time to get that chunk of work done.

What else was left? A cake! I pulled out my flower shaped “bundt pan” (it’s not really a bundt pan because it doesn’t have that hole in the middle) and browsed for recipes. A quick search on epicurious brought me to the recipe for a citrus chiffon cake with citrus syrup.

The cake was a dream to make, very simple…and the whipped egg whites truly looked like a dream:

egg whites for chiffon cake

The zest is a must, even though it’s the most time consuming step (not so time consuming if you have a microplane zester). What you end up with is a light cake–it is a bit dry on its own though, so you want to boil some of that citrus syrup up while the cake is in the oven (or in my case, while the cake cooled). (I’m wondering right now what would happen if I were to add some sour cream to this cake to “moisten” it up). Last steps? Sprinkle some powdered sugar on top and serve with the syrup! I let the students pour the syrup on themselves (but insisted on it, obsessively, knowing how dry the cake could be). The syrup made the thing perfect.

Easy cake! Recipe follows after the jump…

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