"Bacon is the candy of meat."

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Save it for a Rainy Day

It's a rainy Sunday at the end of a week of school vacation, so Young Master Gateau was hounding me to bake something with him and his friend, the Girl Next Door. I dug out a fancy cake mold in the shape of nine train cars that we'd bought for his 5th birthday party, and baked up half a batch of a Bundt cake mix from Williams-Sonoma that came with it. Then YMG and the GND went to town with the odd bits of candy lying around the house and a supplemental bag of Skittles picked up at the grocery story. The result was impressively artistic, if a little too sweet, and super sticky.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

One Billion Chinese Can't Be Wrong

I finally had enough time on my hands today to take on one of my never-used cookbooks, from the Shun Lee restaurant in NYC. I was really intimidated by this, and by Chinese cooking in general, but I psyched myself up and went for it. Most of the ingredients were easy enough to find, and when I couldn't find certain items, I substituted as best I could. They recommend balsamic vinegar for black Chinese vinegar, for example, and that worked. In one case, I couldn't find Schezewan pickled vegetable, but from the description (basically pickled mustard greens) I figured I could get by with pickled ginger, which I had for another recipe. In another case I couldn't find dried Chinese black mushrooms, so I used dried porcini and they were fine. I'm not sure I have the right spicy bean paste, but that also worked with what I had. There was lots of prep work to have all the ingredients ready before cooking started, but nothing particularly complicated. Even dumpling making turned out to be easy to master.

So the menu was:

Fried pork dumplings (so much easier than I had imagined, and the recipe made 30, so I froze 20 of them for later use). The store didn't have round gyoza wrappers, so I used a cookie cutter to cut rounds of square wonton wrappers. Served with a dipping sauce of soy, balsamic vinegar, and sesame oil.

Cold Tofu Salad. Soft cubed tofu dressed with sesame oil/soy/sherry/vinegar/sugar/spicy chili bean paste and sprinkled with cashews, minced scallion and the pickled ginger in lieu of the Schezewan vegetable.

Duck Breast with Pickled Ginger. Stir fried with sliced garlic, water chestnuts, scallions, and the ginger. The meat was beyond tender, and the sauce tangy and delicious.

I will definitely do this again. There is a braised tofu and a braised pork belly I really want to try. And now we have leftovers to reheat tomorrow. No cute little cardboard take-out boxes, though.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Near-Instant Gratification


I had to try this, so I pulled out a mug and started dumping in ingredients, including the "optional" chocolate chips, mixing it all with a table knife. Because I am Klassy. Here is what the batter looked like.

I put it in the microwave with some trepidation, expecting it to explode everywhere, especially since the batter rose so high in the cup. I laid paper towel underneath, so as to make the inevitable clean-up easier. But surprise! It rose beautifully and nary a drop spilled. Here it is right out of the microwave.

It was a little sticky to unmold from the bottom of the cup, but everything above the bottom couple of inches looked lovely and cylindrical. Young Master Gateau is eating half of it with ice cream, and I will eat the rest later. It may not be the most tender cake in the world, but it's cake. And it really did take all of 5 minutes and a mug.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

I received the below in an email today from a colleague at work. We were both lamenting how busy and crazy the last few weeks have been, and noting that chocolate is basically an essential if we are to muddle through. She had gotten this from a friend, and though I have no idea where it comes from or whether it actually would work, I'm intrigued. I think I will try it this weekend, and if successful, will make a dry mix and keep that and the other ingredients handy in the office for Those Days. You know the kind of days I mean. I can't get the pictures to display properly, but basically it looks like a moist and delicious mini molten chocolate cake, about the size of a cansworth of Play-Doh.


The most dangerous cake recipe

4 tablespoons flour
4 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons cocoa
1 egg
3 tablespoons milk
3 tablespoons oil
3 tablespoons chocolate chips (optional)
a small splash of vanilla extract
1 large coffee mug

Add dry ingredients to mug, and mix well. Add the egg and mix thoroughly.
Pour in the milk and oil and mix well. Add the chocolate chips (if using) and vanilla extract, and mix again.

Put your mug in the microwave and cook for 3 minutes at 1000 watts (high).
The cake will rise over the top of the mug, but don't be alarmed!

Allow to cool a little, and tip out onto a plate if desired.
EAT! (this can serve 2 if you want to feel slightly more virtuous).

And why is this the most dangerous cake recipe in the world?

Because now we are all only 5 minutes away from chocolate cake at any time of the day or night!
You are going to print this out straight away, aren't you