Saturday, October 27, 2007

Bacon 'n Eggs Are Back By Popular Demand!

I'm going to a Halloween party thrown by some friends, Tom and Shelly tonight. The last time I saw Shelly she requested that I make my famous "bacon 'n eggs" candies, and so I am. I usually have by the biggest and baddest bag of M&Ms just to get a mere handful of yellow ones for the "yolks". Are they worth it? Absolutely!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Bubble Tea

This is easy to make. I took some of the precooked black tapioca (cold from the fridge) and put some in the bottom of a glass. Pop this into the microwave because if you like your balls hard (tee hee), that's what they will be if you don't soften them up. After the tapioca is heated (will look dark and glossy) add some sugar to taste. The warmth will dissolve the sugar, so this is a good thing.

Put some ice in the glass on top of the tapioca. Bring water to a boil and brew your tea in a separate glass or cup. I usually use less water to make a very strong tea. You're going to pour the hot tea over the ice in the glass and this will dilute it a bit while cooling it down.

Stir, put in a big-ass straw (can usually find these in Asian food stores along with the tapioca) and enjoy!

The Black Pearl

Last night I was watching a movie, and wanted a snack. I don't know why I decided to cook some of this up, but I'm glad I did. It's extra large black pearl tapioca (served warm with cane sugar sprinkled on top). Where in the world does one find this you may ask? Well, that's exactly what I thought when I first tried these rubbery balls of goodness floating around in a "bubble tea" in Seattle several years ago. I had never known that there was such a thing.

My sister, Dori and I were hanging around in Seattle one spring, and stumbled across this Asian shop that sold these drinks. Bubble Tea is some sort of liquid (slushie or tea) with these little black pearls at the bottom of the cup. My sister wanted to try this new discovery of ours (saw bubble tea advertised everywhere) , but I passed at first.

"Eww, they look like fish eggs, or eyeballs." I just wrinkled up my nose. During our stay there she had enjoyed many of these cool drinks with the same tapioca. One day I gave in and just really fell in love with the drink. The tapioca was nice and gummy, they didn't taste like much, but were very satisfyingly chewy. If you like that sort of thing!

I was able to have bubble tea a couple times later in Manhattan and here in Colorado Springs.

When I visited her in Houston earlier this year we stumbled across another shop that sold bubble tea. The place was called Chewy Balls! What a funny name huh? They said that their last name was Chew and like the play on words, and that it was a bit naughty. You know how I like those naughty little sort of things! Anyway...I decided that I could make these myself.

Dori and I were out on a mission to find this tapioca. OMG! It was like searching for the Holy Grail I tell you! We did find it in a Vietnamese food market, and I bought several packages and stuffed them in my luggage for my use at home. I would have thought that I could find the black sort in most Asian food stores, but not so. Tapioca comes in many sizes and colors, but the black does seem to be my favorite.

Oh yea, I bought the big-ass drinking straws for when I make my own bubble tea at home.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Mise En Place

I made a smothered turkey burrito tonight for dinner. This is actually an encore meal since I had a jar of super hot green chili left over in my fridge, and I thawed out the last of the turkey I cooked in July. Yes, I have Thanksgiving in July sometimes. Doesn't everyone?

Cooking is really very simple. The key is the timing, and having everything ready before you cook and assemble makes it so much easier. I love prep work. I could work at a restaurant as a prep person. Cleaning, chopping, dicing, name it! My knife work isn't very fast, but I do take pride that I can hack something to bits while keeping all of my digits!

I grabbed more leftovers and whatnot from my fridge. Thawed turkey breast, white onion, fontina cheese, and the green chili were all put into little monkey dishes. Those of you who may have had an illustrious time in a commercial kitchen know this phrase well!

With all of the main ingredients ready, I heated up my non-stick griddle on high heat. I get these "raw" flour tortillas at COSTCO, and you just finish them on the griddle. They are so tasty, and they're nice and thin which is what I prefer.

Cook the tortilla just until the transparency is disappearing and flip. Work quickly by putting the turkey, onion, and cheese on the tortilla and let cook a bit longer. Check underneath being careful not to over brown or burn.

Fold the tortilla around the filling to form the burrito. Turn over and let sit a minute more. You can turn the flame off at this time as it will still cook over the residual heat of the pan. Heat up your green chili. I do it in the microwave. Hey, I'm cooking for one here!

The tortilla is nice and brown while it's still soft and a bit crispy. Carefully remove the finished burrito (sad to have all the stuff fall out), and plate. Smother with the green chili and enjoy!

This jarred green chili is very good. I haven't come across a good recipe for it, so for the time being I'll just keep buying it from the shelf!

Toad-In-A-Hole & OJ Morning

I would have to say that this is one of my favorite breakfasts. I know that I could easily make a piece of toast and throw a fried egg on top, but it's not as fun! Only if I had some bacon....ummm...bacon.....

Monday, October 22, 2007

"The Mushroom That Ate My Brain"

Matt and his Puffball

My friend Matt in Minnesota sent me pictures of this mushroom that he found. Later today he called me for a chat and I begged him to tell me the details. I was totally fascinated by this queer oddity in nature, and even more aghast that he and his roommate, Rick consumed it!

He found this mushroom in their backyard one day while searching for the cat, Umbra. At first glance he thought that the white blob was a discarded grocery bag, but when he got closer he realized that it was a huge fungus. It looked like a head and had a gaping mouth that immediately reminded him of Audrey II from "Little Shop Of Horrors".

It just so happens that Rick had friends that had published a book called Start Mushrooming by Stan Tekiela and Karen Shanberg, and they were able to identify this colossus as an edible puffball (Calvatia gigantea). This puffball was in it's younger state. When they mature they become swollen with spores. All the time just sitting there hoping that something will come across it and burst it. This sends the spores out for future procreation. At this point in the life of the puffball it is poisonous. Ewww, very alien like. Does it have acid for blood? God, isn't nature just great? Better than most science fiction!

Matt also informed me that these usually grow in pairs or sometimes three. He stated that there were three indeed, but one was not fit for eating, and the other one was so small that he accidentally stomped the living daylights out of it with his foot!

So, upon the harvesting of this alien looking thing, they had already decided what they were going to make. They found a mushroom soup recipe, and then were going to cut hanks of it and make "steaks."

He also noted that it was rather hefty and had substantial weight. I don't think they they ever got the official weight or measurement of it. It was definitely bigger than his head, and for all of us who know Matt, that's huge! (Just teasing buddy! You know I love ya!)

He described the flavor as earthy but a little bland, and the texture is what really surprised him. "I'm not going to say that it was like tofu, because that just grosses me was like fresh mozzarella cheese. Very creamy." I suspect much to his chagrin that he didn't experience any hallucinogenic properties!

How interesting. I am just amazed that they just happened to have access to this book, took the chance to pluck it from it's home, chop it up and eat it! I don't think that I would be that adventurous. I mean, I have eaten a lot of weird things in my life, but this would be for me like playing Russian Roulette.

Maybe now that I know they haven't died or suffered serious side effects, I would try something they would make from this one. Which could very well happen, because they weren't able to eat it all in one sitting. Or even a couple sittings. The rest of the 'shroom rests comfortably in cryonic suspension for a later day. All I need to do is get a plane ticket now!

I think I need to do more research on this gastronomical phenomenon. Being the scientist at heart, I bombarded him with all sorts of questions. Like he's a mycologist or something! I just love stuff like this!

When I look at these pictures it makes me chuckle. It's a bit comical to see a what-seems common thing so large like this. Kind of like putting us in the perspective of being a mouse and stumbling upon a huge piece of cheese or something.

"Yo dude...look what I found! We can feast for months!"

Lovely Lentils

I was craving something very hearty and quick today, but I was limited on what I could make. My pantry's contents are limited, and I really need to stock up. But, due to my incredibly creative and innovative mind (ha!) I was able to whip this up. Pretty much everything I make is like shooting from the hip. Sometimes I am right on target, other times I miss. This one was a near bulls eye.

Lentils With Turkey

serves 1-2

2 T olive oil
2 crushed garlic cloves, finely minced
1 small onion, chopped coarsely
4 cups vegetable broth - one carton (would be richer with chicken, but this is what I had in the pantry)
1 t dry thyme
1 T ground cumin, heaping if you like more flavor
2 bay leaves
1 cup chopped cooked turkey, or any other cooked meat you may have
1 cup green lentils, washed and picked over for stones
couple pinches of kosher salt
fresh ground black pepper

You can make this the conventional way, but I used my pressure cooker so the method is for that. You'll have to wing it if you want to use a normal pot.

On medium high heat add olive oil to the pan (used the small pressure cooker size, came as a big and little set). Sweat the onions and garlic, then add the broth. Add all of the spices, turkey, and lentils. Stir and then bring to a boil. Slap on the lid of your pressure cooker, seal, and lower the heat to low. There will be a small amount of steam emitting. This is what you want. Set your timer for 25 minutes.

When the time is up, release the steam, open and enjoy!

After woofing this down, I realized that I could could have jazzed it up a bit. Maybe add some finely diced carrot for color and sweetness, and perhaps a little heat by adding some cayenne or something to that sort. Some curry powder would be divine too.

I'm debating on if I want more, but I think I'll save it for later. Love leftovers!

Monday Morning Meal

It's been ages since I've posted anything of real subsistence here! Now that I know what's up with my life for the next 6 months (at least) I will make an effort to maintain my little quaint foodie blog.

The light was so lovely coming into my kitchen window that I had to snap this picture. It's not a photographic victory, but I think is conveys something warm and comforting. It snowed most of the day yesterday, and I have the heat cranked up today. The bright sun streaming in was very warm and comforting. Which I thought was very fitting for my breakfast of hot tea and peanut butter and toast.

I'm mad about green tea, and I have about a dozen different types in my pantry to choose from. The selection of the morning is 100% organic Genmai Cha with roasted brown rice. It's so light and nutty, and partnered well with my whole wheat toast and peanut butter. I've never been a fan of peanut butter growing up, but I'm finding as I'm getting older I've finally acquired a taste for it. Plus I was all out of butter and needed something to spread to avoid dry toast!

I have to admit that I've been in a bit of a slump lately. I think it was the stress of my job and wondering where I'll be and when I'll be there. Now I've got a better sense of what's happening, so I can get back to the things that I enjoy such as cooking for friends, cooking for myself, and taking pictures.

Everyone that knows me knows that I love writing and expression, so I'm back in the saddle again. Or back in the kitchen again would be more fitting.