Who's That Girl

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WHO'S THAT GIRL: A higher education obsessed foodie who is documenting her life in the kitchen. I love to cook delicious, gourmet-style foods for those I love and always welcome a challenge in the kitchen. With that challenge comes an impromptu nature. I tend to avoid following recipes to the exact, so you are not likely to find very many posted here. Being that I am a Libra and am learning to be free in the kitchen, the story always goes, "A pinch of this and a smattering of that!" Thank you for visiting -- and happy reading!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Watch a Quiche Become an Omelet


Oh joy. I had everything to make my quiche. Eggs. Whipping cream. Half and half. Onions. Turkey bacon. Broccoli.

Wait…where’s the pie crust?

OK, folks – I forgot the pie crust and considering I had just had a crazy busy week or so, I was in no mood to make my pie crust from scratch. Yes, I understand that it takes, like, no time to make pie crust. But I just wanted to get my breakfast going in a hurry.

And so there it was, a quiche became an omelet in no time. I sautéed the onions, then cooked the turkey bacon and steamed the broccoli before adding them to the mix of eggs along with some potatoes I had boiled, then pan fried. I didn’t use the whipping cream, but did add some half and half.

It was a delicious omelet. Next time I won’t forget the crust.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Ponzo and Horseradish Meet Flounder

I wanted something light and filling. I already had flounder on hand and a load of other things -- leftover potatoes, corn, cucumber, red onions. Seemed like all this could be fashioned into a dinner.

Granted, it doesn't go together -- another culinary mashup.
 
The corn salad was more suitable for summer -- not for the rainy days we've been having.

The potatoes, which I had boiled in garlic salt and sprinkled with parsley, were too heavy for the delicate flounder.

And no matter what I did, the flounder -- marinated in ponzo sauce, horseradish and a few drops of sweet chili sauce and cooked in butter -- was so light I thought it might fly off of my plate.


I enjoyed my dinner, though -- and am happy to clear a few things out of the fridge. In the future, I will look up best approaches to cooking flounder for two reasons: 1. I did not realize how incredibly delicate the fish is! It is very soft with such light flavoring. 2. Even though I did not batter it or deep fry it, it still reminded me of every fishstick I have had in life. No kidding. The underlying flavor is just...it's just their. Weird.



Monday, March 19, 2012

Anise-Scented Chicken and Vegetables


This was a simple, no nonsense meal – chicken and vegetables.

So, I’ve been on this peas and carrots kick for a couple of months. I buy them in bulk at my grocery store and toss them into the freezer. I have managed to get peas and carrots into about four meals this week. Yes – slightly obsessed.

With this particular recipe, I seasoned the chicken with a ton of onion powder and some garlic salt, cayenne and fresh lemon. I then browned the chicken in a heavy pot, tossed in some onions and then poured in some chicken broth, scraping the bits from the bottom of the pot for added flavor. I then added a ton of pepper and one star anise and let this cook slowly for three hours.

Toward the end of cooking, I added the peas and carrots along with some celery and let this cook for about another half hour and served it with freshly steamed rice.

In the end, I should have charred the skin because the meat softened quite a bit in the process. Or, I could have boiled it for a shorter period of time, using a fry/boil method. Or, I could have just cooked it without the skin. I’ll have do experiment quite a bit more with this in the future because it is a good dish and holds very well over night.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

You Want These Shrimp Tacos

It was a "let's clear the fridge" kind of night.

I love those.

Scouting the fridge, freezer and pantry, I realized I had quite the collection of good eats. I decided to go for Mexican rice, roasted potatoes and shrimp tacos.

Fried shrimp tacos. With Cajun seasoning spiked with cayenne and flavored with onion powder. I had bathed the shrimp in lemon juice, then added Old Bay seasoning.

Yeah.

This turned out to be pretty tasty. In the end, I cut up some cilantro and cucumbers, doused the mix with fresh lemon juice and plated the tacos alongside the potatoes (roasted for one hour with only salt, pepper and olive oil) and the rice (with corn, carrots and peas).

Good stuff.



Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Banana Bread -- Eck for me, Popular for Them

This is what I have decided: I loathe the look, the feel, the texture, the smell and the taste of bananas.

Yep.

I didn't realize this until someone in my office challenged me to make banana bread. I have never made banana bread. I have no memory of even tasting it. And I do not eat bananas.

Challenge accpeted.

I studied about a dozen or so recipes, learning that the bananas had to be extra ripe. I let these sit out for almost a week and this is as ripe as they'd gotten. I was impatient, wanting to make this bread soon. So I set to work.

I went with flour, sugar, cinammon, vanilla extract, a few eggs, sour cream, plain yogurt, salt, baking soda, butter and of course, the detested bananas. Very, very simple.

The eck-factor came in as I was mashing and mashing and mashing the bananas. The consistency was just horrendous. Horrendous, folks. Even more so after adding the sour cream and yogurt. Blecht! A little bit of the mixture got on my thumb. Ack! Worst moment ever. Yes, it was that bad. No, I am not exaggerating.

I baked this for about an hour. It came out nicely. I think I should have cooked this at 350 or 375 because the sides were nicely browned, but the inside was still somewhat soft. Not mushy, just too-too soft, I thought. But it was popular at work, so there you have it.

I don't know how it tasted. I couldn't bare to try.


Monday, March 5, 2012

A Plumped Up Shepherd's Pie

I finally made a Shepherd's Pie. I didn't have time to study recipes -- I just went at it. And I am mostly pleased with the results.

So this dish is packed with protein and carbs, but I opted to try and get as many vegetables in as humanely possible so that I wouldn't be weeping into my plate as I tried to enjoy my food. So, yes -- this is the guilt-free version, or as guilt-free as it could possibly be without being vegan.

This was an easy go: I boiled the Yukon gold potatoes in garlic salt and pepper.While they were going, I browned the meat, adding some spices. Then I removed the ground beef from the skillet and added the yellow onions, shallots, pearl onions and some shallots and garlic. I also added some zucchini and yellow squash slices. I did not add any seasoning or herbs.

When this was nice and soft, I moved the onion family aside and began working on the gravy. I realized too late that I had finished off the last of that broth, so I just mixed some Worcestershire sauce and water, then added a bit of flour until I had a nice gravy going.

Then I added the meat to the mix, along with the corn, green beans, peas and carrots and, lastly, the onion family. I also added some onion powder, cayenne and thyme.

Turns out the pie would have benefited from a ton more vegetables! Especially corn. That had a nice flavor to it.

Meanwhile, I mashed the strained potatoes, adding pepper, a bit of butter, yogurt, sour cream and rice milk. I set everything in a baking dish with the oven at 400 degrees and cooked this for about 45 minutes.

I guess you can call this a culinary mash up because it certainly is not a traditional Shepherd's Pie. But not bad! I am glad I made that gravy. It helped to keep the ground beef moist. Also, despite using so little butter, the potatoes were a nice treat. A thin crust began to form along the top that poked kind of like crème brûlée when I stuck my finger -- yes, my finger -- in it.

Along with a side salad that had fresh cucumbers, cabbage, avocado and dulse, it was a nice, round and seemingly healthy meal (courtesy of my dear friend, Mo).

No weeping necessary.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Roasted Vegetable Heaven

Ahhh. Clearing the fridge.

What do you do in a rush when you have red and yellow onions, red bell peppers, broccoli, potatoes, garlic, squash and zucchini that -- all at once -- are staring at you from the fridge wondering when they will become part of an omelet or a souffle or stuffed chicken breast?

Well... why not just cook them all at once?

Perfect! 

I decided to go for an evening vegetarian meal, tossing all of these goodies together in my roasting pan.

It was simple: I doused them with a little bit of olive oil, salt and pepper and set them to cook for nearly an hour.

Because I had softer veggies mixed in with heavy starch, I made sure to stir the smorgasbord/conglomeration every 15 minutes or so.

It turned out so well that I opted to eat the vegetables alone. I didn't sides. My body was so very pleased with this dish, as was my soul.


Makin' Seitan, Makhani Style
























Yes, folks -- that's a lot of ingredients! And, no -- that's not it. As I began cooking this dish, I realized I had forgotten to put out about a half dozen other things in the photo. Bah. I also realized I still had some ghee left over from the last time I made it. So, no -- I did not use I Can't Believe it's not Butter! for this recipe. Instead, I used the good stuff: Luscious, golden-flavored ghee.

So, yes -- seitan. My dear friend, Mo, introduced me to this wheat-derived fake meat. I like the "chicken style." It has a strange silky smooth texture to it. I know, I know. I'm really selling you on this product, right? But what is fantastic about it is that it holds the flavor very well in comparison to, say, tofu, which I am not particularly interested in eating often. I find tofu to be quite bland, lest you have infinite amounts of time during which you marinate the curd.

No, seitan is a bit more complex. Granted, it is made from wheat, which is so very, very curious to me. I can't make the visual, tactile or palate connection between wheat and seitan -- but it says it right there on the packaging that this stuff is made from wheat. Fascinating.

So, I wanted to make Makhani tonight. Butter chicken. But, alas, my grocer was out of chicken thighs. Unusual. The butcher said he was, at that moment, waiting or the shipment. My next question was almost: "Well, what time will it be here?" But realizing I didn't want to wait for a shipment of chicken, I opted to use the seitan.

But there I was, at the grocery store, also realizing that I couldn't remember whether or not I had garam masala.

"Yeah, I do. Don't I? No, I didn't buy it. It was fenugreek I bought that last time. No, it was garam masala. I can see it clearly on the label."

Wrong. I didn't have any garam masala.  After shaking my fists in the air, I set out the mass assortment of things I would need to make the butter "chicken," along with my first go at saffron rice. *squeals*

I am not going to go through the arduous process of describing what I did. I made the sauce, using onions, scallions and garlic for the base, then made a makeshift garam masala with what ingredients I had on hand: Ground cloves, mace, cardamom, star anise, curry powder and cumin. I also added a sizable amount of lemon. But I forgot to add the nutmeg. Arggghhh!

But I did add cinnamon, which was fantastic! I also added peanut sauce (I didn't have peanut oil) tomato sauce and paste -- maybe a bit too much -- along with rice milk, yogurt, salt and pepper, chile powder, cardamom, cayenne pepper (smart choice for the necessary heat).  I cooked the seitan in a skillet to its own, using a bit more peanut sauce and some of the spices from earlier. I also added corn starch distilled in a bit of water. I then added this to the sauce. I know I am forgetting a few steps and, likely, a few ingredients.

The rice was already going at this point. I steeped the saffron in warm water and set the basmati rice (which had been washed and left to sit in water for 20 minutes) in the rice cooker. When it was nearly done, I added peas and carrots along with the saffron and its water. For some reason, the flavor yield was substandard. I can only guess that it is because I didn't have top quality saffron. Again, with the fists in the air.

Ah well. The sauce was fantastic! I am glad I added what I thought to be too much cinnamon and cardamom. The house smelled like a professional restaurant and the taste was not too far behind.

...now I must figure out how to perfect saffron rice. 


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