Archive for the 'Cooking' Category

And now for something completely different

A pasta with green vegetables and a white instead of a red pasta sauce! I suddenly had a craving for asparagus, which is why I bought some at the Farmer’s Market when I thought that 1.99/lb isn’t too bad, for American standards at least. I had lemons at home and absolutely wanted to make a lemon sauce, so here we are: Lemon Asparagus Pasta.

It tastes just as great as it looks on the picture!

I was inspired by this recipe on Epicurious (yet again, of course) but since I didn’t have any heavy cream, I made a sauce with olive oil and parmesan (how unhealthy huh). In the future, I will keep in mind to finish the sauce before I toss in the noodles and the vegetables… because ultimately the sauce turned out somewhat not smooth – this is how it always is, or so I heard, but I am sure you can do better. Next time I will!

Asian eggplants are my favorites

I can barely believe that I used to hate eggplants! They do have a weird taste that I dislike much less today (just like olives!) and ever since I discovered that I love this taste combined with sugar, I am now excited about any type of sugary eggplant recipe.

Maki Itoh slow-roasts her eggplants for nasu no miso dengaku, but I prefer them this way.

Another thing I have not expected was how surprisingly fast vegetables broil, I think these eggplants were done in something like 7-8 minutes, and I have let them for another 5 minutes in the oven so the miso caramelizes some more. If only I hadn’t put as much miso but used shiro miso and added more honey and wine, it would have turned out perfect. It’s perhaps my favorite way of making eggplants.

Something between hachis parmentier and cottage pie

I love my French cookbooks (of which only one is really French, the quite generic but lovely “Je sais cuisiner”). “Mastering the Art of French Cooking” doesn’t really cover all the recipes I want – especially in the vegetable section. Most of those vegetables are very simple, typically to accompany a dramatic main dish, whereas I very, very rarely make main dishes. Today is something like an exception, I would consider a shepherd’s pie a full meal, perfect to be accompanied by vegetables.

“Je sais cuisiner”, on the other hand, is a wonderful collection of a huge amount of recipes – but all the recipes are amazingly short. This means that you don’t actually learn much about cooking or techniques itself, the book more or less assumes that you know how to do that. I mainly use the book for inspiration of what dishes to make, and to give myself an overview on the repertoire of typical French cooking; in this matter, “Je sais cuisiner” is much greater than the haute-cuisine-ish “Mastering the Art of French Cooking”.

According to “Je sais cuisiner”, hachis parmentier is a layer of ground meat sandwiched in between two layers of mashed potatoes.

Furthermore, “Je sais cuisiner” is much more down to earth, full of advices for kitchen organisation, health or wine choices. It’s a little bit like those German housewife books. I especially found it very interesting to see what amount of food they recommend for one single meal:

  • 100g of salad or soup
  • 100-150g of meat or 1-2 eggs or 150g fish
  • 200-300g of vegetables or 70g of pâtes or 70g of rice
  • 250g of potatoes
  • 100g-150g of fruits
  • 30-50g of cheese
  • 80-100g of bread

This feels amazingly wrong if you ask me. I mean… this is like a whole kilogram of food!

“Ceux qui savent manger sont comparativement de dix ans plus jeunes que ceux à qui cette science est étrangère.”

While looking up recipes on the internet, I went for something like a mix of the Easy Shepherd’s Pie, this hachis parmentier recipe and the one in “Je sais cuisiner”. (Julia Child would never make hachis parmentier, mind you.) So the end result pretty much is this: The mashed potatoes have browned onions and garlic in them; the ground beef was mixed with Italian style bread crumbs, an egg, browned onions, finely cut carrots and white wine, and then sautéed with parsley, thyme and bay leaves. By the way, I am so glad I went out of the way to Trader Joe’s to get the white wine, it’s doing marvels for the taste of the meat.

Today, the side vegetable I chose happened to be bok choy, because I know I need to eat them soon. 😀 Plus I didn’t feel like making anything more elaborate, and there are vegetables in the hachis parmentier itself too, after all. Even though the result looks great, there were actually pieces of potatoes that were not thoroughly cooked and I had to pick them out. That means I cannot even offer this to other people, sadly. But, at least I have a lovely lunch tomorrow.

A perfectly poached egg

The truth is that I have been cooking lately… I just never blogged about it. But! Things are going to change from now on, and so here I am going to present the next Nichtigkeit in my cooking aspirations: poaching eggs. Whenever I make noodle soup, I attempt to poach an egg into it, and it never works. I know all the theory about it, but it just doesn’t work. This time, it did – for no reason!

The masterpiece

During this time, I also discovered quite a number of new blogs… and oh how much it makes me want to cook! This weekend, for sure.

And now for something colorful

I love ratatouille to death. In fact, whenever I am at the cafeteria and they serve ratatouille, I would take it. It happened once that they did something utterly wrong with it, but usually ratatouille is the best at the canteen. It costs 40 cents or something so that the whole meal with rice would come to a total of 80 cents. It would be vegetarian, but delicious and healthy at the same time! I was sure it would be even more delicious and healthier when you make it yourself.

Does this look like something I spent 2 hours on?

Now, it was time to make it myself. I meticulously followed the recipe of Just Hungry but I honestly regret having done so. The problem is that I wasn’t quite good at getting rid of the liquid. It’s one of the things I suck at doing, because most of the dishes I have made up until today were all about keeping the liquid, and the simply thought of wringing out the liquid of vegetables into kitchen paper makes me feel wasteful. Ultimately, the ratatouille came out much more delicious than I imagined, but spending two hours on it is a little exaggerated for a dish that was supposed to be simple in my opinion. I do agree that the tastes of the vegetables in ratatouille should not mix too much prior serving, but I don’t quite see the point in baking everything for such a long time. If I happen to make it again, I would sautée everything, make a sauce and then put everything together. That’s it. :3

Finally, ratatouille reminds me of another thing I absolutely wanted to make this summer: gazpacho. It’s too bad we don’t own any of those mixer things that you can use to make vegetables into juice…

Noodlesoup is the ultimate comfort food

The only drawback is that it makes you want to go to sleep afterwards. While spaghetti with tomato sauce wakes me up and gives me new energy, noodlesoup in the Asian style always makes me want to go to sleep. But when taking an afternoon nap is what I want, noodlesoup is absolutely perfect.

I am still very bad a poaching eggs, but I love them! (Especially when they are a little runny.)

Here’s my “I just have to make something randomly and don’t have many ingredients at home” version: Thin westen spaghetti, Chinese cabbage, a poached egg and… Chinese miso in the soup! Honestly I can’t remember many other ingredients I put in, except for the standard soy sauce maybe, but it tasted surprisingly much like ramen you get in Japanese restaurants! All without any dashi! Okay, actually you could taste the difference (obviously), but the soothing and healing effect of noodlesoup has fully been achieved by this.

Our family Chinese New Year dish

First of all, happy new year! It’s a little unfortunate how I was unable to find time to make something myself, but then, unexpectedly, I spent an evening with my parents forming and deep-frying these incredibly delicious sweets.

Which version I like the most? I cannot decide.

There is not much to say about them, except that we have made two different types: The ones on the right were made with just water in the dough and the ones on the left (they are a little puffier) with milk or oil, I forgot. Although it’s not so easily visible on the picture, the watery ones are much crispier while the ones with oil are somewhat sweeter and, well, easier to chew. Haha. The general consensus among my parents is that the chewy version is better – it doesn’t surprise me, they are more ‘luxurious’. Back in the day, they said that oil was rare and so all the oil was used upon the deep-frying process. (The rarity of something like oil was also the reason why this is a once-in-a-year New Year dish.) And so, obviously the less healthy version with more oil would be more popular.

After writing this blog post, I could not help but eat some more.

I remember from my childhood that the Germans have sweets that look very similar to these (there also is this slit in the middle and you have to fold them through like that). I suspect that it’s a East German/Polish dish. But from what I remember, they are mostly baked and not deep-fried? I also forgot the name. XD

The grand Christmas/New Year posting

First of all, I am a fool. Here’s a list of the things I made over Christmas and New Year:

The problem is: I have forgotten to take pictures of some of them, aaaah! And so, here is a commentary on all of them in one post.

Continue reading ‘The grand Christmas/New Year posting’

I should not make things that I know I am bad at making…

Wraps are quite a good example. In fact, I think I did an okay job with the dough itself, and I learnt surprisingly fast how to spread and shape the wraps. The only thing I really am not good at is to fry them, eek. So, there was one single wrap that turned out rather nice-looking, which you will see below.


Actually, this dish did not involve tomatoes at all. It’s a first!

Taste-wise, I don’t think there was anything I could really have done wrong. I randomly chose some vegetables that we had in the fridge as well as the ground beef my parents are always buying when I make food (cough), and so it became a ground beef + red bell peppers + champignons wrap. With tabasco sauce and some other seasonings (chosen randomly as always), I have managed to produce something edible again, but didn’t look like that.

With that said, this is probably my last time cooking for this year! Wah! However, there are cakes and Christmas pastries that I am planning to make… maybe :3

It turned out good, but what the heck?

As can be seen below, for some reason I completely forgot to take a decent picture showing the insides of the stuffed bell peppers. Uh oh O.o

Oh, don’t mind the blackened parts – it was absolutely great like that.

So, without a picture, I guess the insides need a little explanation. First of all, the meat stuffing is basically the same as last time. As you might have realized, my food always looks the same: Curry (x2), pasta (x2), pizza (x1.5) and everything is in a warm color, preferably red tomato sauce. This time, the insides of the bell peppers contained:

  • Couscous
  • Dried apricots
  • Ground beef
  • A zucchini
  • A carrot
  • Tomato sauce and random seasoning: thymian, oregano and the likes

I think that’s it! Somehow I felt this was even more delicious than last time – I wonder why? One reason might be that the shape of the casserole (which, by the way, fits the color of the bell peppers perfectly) made it possible for the bell peppers to be baked rather homogeneously.

And now I have come to quite a dilemma because I am not sure what I want to make next! Hmm…