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!

Sunday, June 23, 2013

2013 Food Challenge: Corn

We have a wonderful Guatemalan restaurant in town, Maya Quetzal. There, you will find a delicious specialty item of rice, corn and cheese. I cannot recall the name of this dish, but it is quite popular with the locals.

I have wanted to try and replicate this item for years. I tried once before and found that the dish turned out to be less flavorful and somewhat dry. Here is my second go at it.

For the dish, I went with short grain rice -- risotto style. The last time I tried this I went with jasmine rice. That was the first mistake. Comparing the dishes, I find that a bulbous rice with a bit more starch works better with the dish.

I also used Mexican and mozzarella style cheeses along with sour cream, milk and parsley. Maya Quetzal does not use parsley, but I figured why not try it! I love parsley.

For the corn, I went with sweet corn and roasted it in the oven.

That was a first for me.

I'd never considered using the oven to cook rice. But it made little sense to fire up the charcoal grill just to cook two ears of corn. Cooking the corn in the husk at 415 degrees for about 25 minutes in the gas oven resulted in sheer perfection. I highly recommend this method.

In the end, I mixed all of the ingredients together, put them in a buttered pan and baked in the oven with additional cheese on top for about 15 minutes.

This dish is rich. Very rich! I took a few bites and found that I felt my skin was glittering. It is very flavorful and good, and the roasting of the corn turned out to be a brilliant idea. The sweet corn is a must, and the more corn the better.
I think the dish could have benefited from the addition of some grilled peppers, especially those that could add some heat. Also, I imagine that, in addition to a side dish, this would serve well in a taco or burrito or under an over easy egg.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

2013 Food Challenge: Buffalo

While living in Houston, I was always on the hunt for kolaches. I'd never heard of such a thing until visiting a cafe near my office in downtown Houston I noticed these cutesy little pastries behind the glass at the counter. I had never seen a pastry of that type. They looked to me like miniature versions of pigs in a blanket. But with more texture. More fluff. More decadence.

The perfect look for luxurious self-indulgence on my morning coffee run.

I ordered one and found that I absolutely loved the flavor of these little treats. They didn't taste like pigs in a blanket, though. From what I remember -- and it's been years since I last had one, they tasted like the distant sister of a croissant sandwich, a lovely dough, wrapped around a flavorful, tiny sausage. 

Like, the best thing ever.

Since leaving the south, I have searched everywhere for kolaches, these wondrous Czech eats. I've looked in Los Angeles and the high desert of southern California; Chicago, Cleveland and throughout Tucson and Phoenix; and at numerous airports during my travels.

Never found.

I figured that I would someday try and replicate the recipe at home and, finally, I had my chance to try.

After reading, I don't know, something like 10 kolache recipes online, I got impatient and set to work. Really, I just wanted to know how to make the dough and be on with it.

I gathered my items: yeast, flour, baking powder, baking soda, spices, an egg and the buffalo meat. I even tossed some bread flour in the mix for "fun." Had no idea how that would turn out. By the time the dough was ready, it was already after 11 p.m. I decided to roll it tightly in plastic wrap and place it in the oven, finishing the recipe the following day.

Upon my return, I started with the meat.

For flavoring, I went with brown sugar, roasted garlic and onion seasoning, mustard powder and dill with a pinch of kosher salt. I then formed the bison into "sausages."

I've saved myself -- and you -- the embarrassment and decided to forgo adding images of the shaped meat. Trust me, you don't care to see them. No, really. Just trust me, and remember that therapy is expensive these days. 

I also added, as an afterthought, some cheese as I rolled the meat into the dough. At the end, just before putting the rolls in the oven, I gave them an ample egg wash.

And they are looking gorgeous! At this point I'm thinking, "Awww, yeah! These are going to be amazing! I'm doing something real here!"

Started to see book deals and speaking tours in my future and everything.

It took about 35 or so minutes of baking on about 375 and they were ready.

I loved the smell and the look of the "kolaches." But I found that they didn't smell anything like I recalled. They didn't feel the way I recalled either. Turns out bison is gamey as all get out. As. All. Get. Out. Also, I realized at that very moment that I completely forgot to add baking soda to the dough.


But I felt motivated. The flavor was good, but I cannot call these kolaches. I have so much more work to do before I am able to closely replicate these lovely little treats.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

2013 Food Challenge: Green Olives

I love how this dish did not require a trip to the grocery store -- I had everything on hand at home. Thrilling when that happens.

For this week's challenge item, I went with pimento-stuffed olives. I love pimentos -- those yummy little peppers. It was very difficult to think up something new. I really wanted to make a tapenade but wound up making a pasta dish instead. I believed that the sharp taste of the olives would meld well with the mildly flavored pasta. I also added a tad bit of butter peas, carrots, spinach, Parmesan cheese and freshly ground black pepper, believing would balance the dish nicely.

It turned out to be a strange marriage. In retrospect, I could have used far, far fewer olives -- they were so very strong in flavor -- and more spinach. The amount of peas and carrots along with the cheese was perfect.

The dish is quite simple. Almost too simple. I am not sure where to go with it or how yet to improve it. It will require much more time and attention to detail to perfect it.

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