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Below are the 17 most recent journal entries recorded in BlackBlack's LiveJournal:

Sunday, December 28th, 2008
1:43 pm
People have been raving about the no-knead bread recipe everywhere, baked in a "heavy covered pot." My mother brought some food to us at Christmas, including some wild rice in a casserole dish. The dish is here until I can return it to her, so I decided to try baking a tiny little bread in it. Baking inside a covered dish hits both #2 and #1 on this excellent list - traps steam and acts as a baking stone. Bread was definitely a little better than usual; I may want to actually buy a big covered dish of my own. :)
Saturday, December 20th, 2008
3:54 pm
pigeon pea coo coo
I should just say 'pigeon pea porridge,' but what's the fun in that? This is a faux-carribean corn meal porridge (coo coo) with pigeon peas in it; I was sort of working from this recipe and sort of from some interesting but disjointed black bean and coconut and avocado dish served by one of the cafes downtown, and trying to make it taste like the food I had in Bluefields - I was there when Italian cooking was all the rage, hence the inclusion of Italian spices.

  • 1 15-oz can pigeon peas
  • 8 cloves garlic
  • 3/4 cup cornmeal
  • 2 cups broth
  • 3/4 cup coconut milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, salt, sriracha, garlic powder, and dried italian herb mix
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar

Put the peas, the garlic, sugar and all the spices in a pot, with enough broth to cover, and bring to a boil. Add the cornmeal, a little at a time, stirring to prevent lumps. Stir in 1/2 cup of the coconut milk and turn down the heat to simmer for 45 minutes. Taste and adjust salt, pepper, and heat, if desired. Right before serving, stir in the rest of the coconut milk.

This is very thick and hearty, and I was shocked at how good it was.
Wednesday, December 17th, 2008
1:01 am
I've intermittently tried to make borscht since we got back from the Rally, and this is the closest I've gotten.

  • 4 large beets
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • half small onion
  • four cloves garlic
  • medium-sized tomato
  • 4 cups [fake] chicken broth
  • pinch sage
  • pinch onion powder
  • 2 tsp dried dill
  • lots of fresh dill
  • sour cream
  • salt and pepper to taste

I always wonder how much of the recipe I'm getting wrong, since I'm a seat of the pants cook. Anyway, the important part is: scrub the beets, pierce them with a knife, wrap in aluminum foil and bake them like potatoes, an hour and 45 minutes. Mince the onion and garlic and cook in the butter until soft and translucent, then add finely diced tomato. Cut the tops and bottoms off the beets and peel the skins off. Chop beets into 1/2 inch squares, add to pot, and cover them with broth and cook about fifteen minutes. Add the onion powder, the sage, and the dried dill - the first two are to make it taste more meaty and less flat - if you have good broth you may not need them. Also a good shake of salt and pepper.

Serve with a dollop of sour cream - very important! - and also a good bit of fresh dill - very important! - and also a bunch of salt - very important! This probably isn't the best borscht in the world, but it reminds me a lot of the stuff we got at this wonderful little cafe in kyiv.
Sunday, December 14th, 2008
9:49 pm
This was excellent though it was now a couple weeks ago I made it, so I'm worried I'll forget wherever the awesome came from. caladri and I had a risotto-off; hers was deeply intense and spicy, and my was a mellow autumny thing. They were too different to select a winner.


  • 1 small sweet onion
  • four large cloves of garlic
  • 1 1/2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 cup rice
  • half a very small kabocha - about two cups - peeled, seeded, and chopped.
  • three or four dried porcini mushrooms
  • pinch cinnamon
  • four cups broth - either chicken or vegetable
  • half a cup of beer
  • 1 tsp worcestershire sauce
  • 3/4 cup of chestnuts
  • parmesan cheese, salt, and pepper to taste

This is a pretty standard risotto. Warm the broth in a saucepot, toss the cinnamon in with it. Chop the onions, garlic, kabocha and crumble up the mushrooms and sautee over medium heat in the olive oil until the onions are shrinky and translucent. Turn the heat to low, toss in the rice and saute until the rice goes completely transparent, unless you're me and all you have in the house is sushi rice, in which case it won't go transparent and you just give up after a few minutes.

Pour in one cup of the broth, and stir intermittently until the broth is all absorbed. Repeat until the broth is all absorbed - I think it was about 40 minutes total. Add the beer, worcestershire, and chestnuts at the end, and cook until the beer is absorbed. Finally, add parmesan and salt to taste - mine needed a lot but I don't think my broth was very salty.

Current Mood: num num
Monday, December 8th, 2008
1:21 am
Gingerbread recipe
I mostly wanted to note the gingerbread-house recipe here for my own reference. It was frustrating and structurally unsound in ways that were completely nonobvious in my test runs, so I don't know that I'd use it again, but at this point I have a very good idea of its capabilities, and if I am making some known-simple gingerbread object in the future, that might be handy. This was cobbled together from the two likeliest seeming recipes on the internet, so credit is not mine, but I didn't hold on to the URLs.

  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup molasses
  • 5 cups flour
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • pinch ground cloves
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • teaspoon salt
Cream butter and brown sugar, and stir in molasses. Mix all the dry ingredients separately, then stir into the dough a little at a time. It gets pretty thick and you'll want to do the last bit with your hands. Divide dough into four pieces and chill at least six hours. I rolled it out (with lots of flour - it's very sticky) on a sheet of aluminum foil, cut around the shapes I wanted, peeled away the extra, and then just transferred the foil to a baking sheet to cook. I cooked at 375 until they were just starting to darken around the edges, 7-12 minutes depending on thickness. When hot out the oven, can be trimmed or curved, in theory, but in my experience this weakens the dough too much. :(

Stick to itself with royal icing.
1:03 am
pumpkin beer bread
Made this last week sometime. Very simple. Liked it, particularly with cheddar cheese toasted on it - a hearty but mellow flavor. I think if I do this again, more caraway will be involved, and quite possibly rye flour, and maybe actual squash puree... I guess the bread I got wasn't at all like the one I was imagining, and I blame the fact that pumpkin beer isn't very much so.
  • 1 bottle pumpkin-flavored beer
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 tbsp caraway
  • 1tbsp sugar
  • 1tbsp baking powder
  • pinch salt
  • pinch cinnamon
Stir together all the dry ingredients. Then stir in the beer. Transfer resulting gloop to greased loaf pan and bake at 375 for an hour.
Sunday, June 22nd, 2008
10:40 pm
In which caladri is crazy.
Did you know you can make a tasty sauce by combining hot sauce, marachino cherry juice, and xanthan gum? Neither did I. :)
Monday, June 2nd, 2008
11:53 pm
Cyanide drink
I still need to post about the Dumplings of Mushroomy Doom! Which were plagued by a series of disasters while I was making them, culminating in an emergency room visit. But, I wanted to make a quick note for a tasty alcoholic drink that caladri and I invented to hit the cyanide flavor cluster pretty hard.

  1. about twelve dried cherries; I used "just cherry" brand, which are poofy and airy and very tart. They're freeze-dried, and so brittle and crumbly and take liquid like a sponge. I don't know if "regular" dried cherries would work so well.
  2. splash of Flor de Can~a Nicaraguan rum to cover the bottom of the glass
  3. 1 part amaretto
  4. 1 key lime, halved and trimmed and smooshed up a bit
  5. 2 parts Croatian sour cherry liquor

This probably only works if you have our kitchen, and key limes and dried cherries and eastern european cherry liquor are things you keep around. The importance of the lime cannot be overstated. This is strong and sweet; you probably don't want much of it. At least, I don't.
Sunday, May 4th, 2008
4:53 pm
civic duty pie!
Japanese knotweed is an invasive weed. A tasty, tasty invasive weed. tylik suggests cooking it like asparagus, but I find the flavor to be much closer to rhubarb. As a concerned citizen, it is therefore my civic duty to go pull up noxious weeds and make tasty pie. Yours too. :)


  • 1 cup Japanese knotweed
  • 1.5 cups frozen strawberries, thawed (you could use fresh, but it doesn't matter)
  • 3 tbs tapioca
  • 1/2 c brown sugar
  • .5 c almond meal
  • 3 Tbs flour
  • 2 tbs butter

This makes a very small pielike thing; I ended up making a cobbler in a loaf pan. Mostly because what looks like it will be three cups of knotweed while you pick it comes to about a cup by the time you've peeled it and thrown out the leaves. Peel the thick skin off the knotweed and chop the stems. Throw out the leaves. Chop the strawberries. Toss the strawberries, knotweed, tapioca, and 1/4 cup of the sugar and let sit in a bowl until everything is gloopy.
Pour gloop into a loaf pan. Melt the butter, and stir together with the flour, almond meal, and the rest of the sugar. Crumble over the top of the cobbler. Bake at 350 degrees for an hour.

Frankly, the topping was remarkably uninspired; It was neither crispy nor toothsome. Needed oatmeal or something - nuts in larger sizes, something like that. Almond meal was what I had, though. I would recommend either a pie crust top (and/or bottom) or a better struesel. But do try knotweed. It is your tastiest civic duty. I grabbed a bunch on Thursday returning a rental car. :)
Saturday, May 3rd, 2008
11:09 pm
white trash frangipane
This was a very easy way to make a tasty desert. I was remembering something my mom used to make when I was a kid, and taking all the shortcuts I could think of to get that taste, throwing in anything that seemed relevant.


  • 3/8 c butter
  • 1/4 c brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 cup almond meal
  • can of apricots
  • about 1/3 package of almond paste
  • 2 Tbsp grenadine
  • 1/3 c sugar free apricot preserves
  • 2 tsp almond extract

Preheat over to 350. Stir together the almond meal and sugar. Melt the butter, pour it into the powder, and stir. You should get something that looks a lot like a graham cracker crust. Pat it into the bottom of a medium size springform pan, toss in the oven until it looks golden-brown (about 15 min?). Crumble up the almond paste into little pieces over the crust, then drain the canned apricots and arrange prettily over top. Melt the preserves and stir in the grenadine and almond extract. Drizzle over the apricots, making sure to get some on any exposed almond paste crumbs.

This recipe is based on what was in our pantry. The grenadine and almond extract were added because the apricot preserves had sucralose in (the jar said SUGAR FREE and I was all thrilled because I thought that mean that all that was in it was apricots, and so bought it, but no luck) and a correspondingly thin taste. You can probably leave them out id you did not accidently buy DEVIL JAM. If you have slivered almonds, they would be nice to sprinkle on top. This wants to be refrigerated a bit before you eat it, which will give the jam and the almond paste time to soggy themselves together and act like some sort of pastry cream. I think if I were to do it again, I might add some regular wheat flour to the almond meal; the crust is very crumbly and structurally weak. Not bad, tho.

You shoudl also try eeyorerin's white trash trifle. :) Cool whip!
Monday, April 28th, 2008
8:08 pm
It has been determined that the following things can be converted to pure tastynomium by the application of a charcoal grill with applewood smoke chips:

  • Kabocha squash
  • corn on the cob
  • vegetarian sausage
  • leftover naan dough that sat in the fridge overnight
  • red bell peppers
  • yellow bell peppers
  • orange bell peppers (science is thorough, see)
  • leeks
  • little chunks of potato tossed with olive oil, vegetarian worcester sauce, garlic, and crumbled rosemary
  • whole potatoes
  • sweet potatoes
  • strawberries

The following things somehow resist the conversion to pure tastynomium:

  • vegetarian bacon
Wednesday, February 13th, 2008
7:44 pm
placeholder post
This posts exists to demand that caladri post notes about her thai shahi paneer thing, as it was awesome and she didn't even make neough for seconds, as she hates me.
Sunday, January 27th, 2008
10:12 pm
squash sushi
I wanted sushi, but didn't have a lot in the way of appropriate ingredients, so I made four variations of sushi with a kobacha squash, though none of these are overwhelmingly creative.

  1. Cut squash into quarters and scrape out seeds and pulpy bits. Wrap one quarter in aluminum fire and tuck between logs in the fireplace. Pull out in half an hour, or whenever soft. Scrap flesh from rind with a spoon, especially including the char or ash (mm), and stir into about double its volume in sushi rice. Stuff into inari wrappers. (You can make your own, but I bought premade frozen aburage and just simmered it briefly in water and a dab of soy sauce.) I think what really made this one was the scorched bit.

  2. Cut off the rind, and cut one quarter of the squash from corner to corner in thin slices. Dip in tempura batter, fry, and roll up with nori and rice. Mm! A lot of sushi joints offer tempura sweet potato, and this is pretty similar. You need to eat it right away, though, before the breading gets soggy. Also, though I followed the directions on the tempura box, my batter was a little thin.

  3. Cut really thin slices of squash, steam them ,and try to wrap them around sushi rice. This one didn't actually work; they went straight to 'breaky' without a stop at 'soft.' It was okay draped over the top of rice, but not that inspiring.

  4. Simmer squash in water with a bit of soy sauce, mirin, and sriracha, then roll up with red pepper pieces and a very tiny amount of sriracha, striped across the way wasabi is usually done. Actually, I really liked this one.

So, um, yeah. Sushi, from squash. Pretty tasty, and the fireplace thing is very, very worth doing again.
Wednesday, January 23rd, 2008
1:25 am
charbread and glop
This is a cornbread recipe. It is a northern cornbread recipe, which means it is made with yellow cornmeal and some sugar. I'm not satisfied with this as the Ultimate Final Evolved Form of Cornbread, but a fair amount of tinkering went into this, and I'm happy with it as a step along the way. :) It has a good solid corn flavor, like corn on the cob dropped an octave.

  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 1 cup regular flour
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 cup frozen (or fresh) corn kernels
  • 2 tsp smoke salt
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/3 cup peanut oil (or other oil with a high smoke point)
  • 1 large egg
Preheat the oven to 400. Grease a 9x9 pan.

For this, you need a cast iron pan. Put enough of the oil into the pan to cover the bottom in a very thin layer and saute the corn kernels over high heat until they just just begin to blacken. Remove from heat. Mix all the dry ingredients together, and all the wet ingredients together, and then mix those two together, stirring just until blended. You don't want any activated gluten. Stir in the blackened corn kernels. Pour the batter into the pan, and bake for 20 minutes. Check to see if a knife stuck in the middle comes out clean. If not, put it in for five more minutes and check again. When the knife does come out clean, bake it five <i>more</i> minutes. This is a good cornbread to have come out slightly dry and crumbly.

The finished product has a very strong corn flavor, with a smoky, charred undertone.

A good thing to serve with cornbread is glop, which is a frequent member of the class of Things I Cook When I'm Too Lazy To Put In Effort, but isn't either complex or unvarying enough to have its own recipe post. A can of black beans, whatever chopped nightshade fruits you happen to have around, a buillon cube, and a teaspoon of garlic powder. Throw them together into a pan and cook for about twenty minutes over low-medium heat. Tonight's was beans, a habanero pepper, two roma tomatoes, a great big pasilla pepper, and about half a cup of corn kernels to continue the cornbread them. Goes well with cornbread, rice, tortillas....
Sunday, January 20th, 2008
7:13 pm
A long time ago I tried to make seitan - wheat gluten - and failed miserably. This time it worked a lot better. Seitan is the oldest known meat substitute, having been used in China for ages. It has a very spongy texture, and absorbs soup or sauce flavors very well - much better than tofu.

  • a bunch of flour (two cups, maybe?)
  • enough water to make a thick dough
Stir together flour and water. Add a bit more flour, and keep stirring and adding flour until it's getting kind of annoying to try and push the spoon around. Knead the dough until it is not sticky, plus twenty minutes. This step is annoying, but kneading is what convinces the gluten to lock into its matrix, and you want it to all decide to do that. Then start kneading the dough inside a bowl full of water; white starch will start coming off the dough, leaving the stringy gluten behind. Periodically, lift the dough up out of the water and squeeze all the water out of it. When you do this, you will probably end up with wierd rubbery dangling strings; just grab them and fold the back onto the dough, and fold the dough over itself a couple of times every so often. The dough should gradually get slippery and rubbery, without any solid areas, just gloopy tangles. You may want to dump out your bowl of water and refill it periodically, as all the starch in the water will make it cloudy and hard to see.

Continue until the water you squeeze out of the gluten is almost clear. At this point, toss the gluten in the refrigerator for a couple of hours with whatever spices you'd like to flavor it with. I used Maggi HOT (a yeast extract sauce with some capsaicin in) and a bit of garlic powder.

Gluten works well in soups, though it tends to be a bit spongy. Put it in early so it has a chance to absorb lots of flavor from the broth. Sauteeing is good, too - since gluten is protein (just no animal protein) it will sear and crisp in a very meatlike way (though the inside will be bubbly). It won't fool anyone in a soup, but sauteed in small enough pieces, it might.

Gluten one buys professionally is denser and less spongy than this, and I plan to experiment on ways to press it or shape the strings or something.
6:56 pm
lazy nam prik pao
Nam prik pao is a paste made from chilis roasted by being placed down in the coals of a cooking brazier. It is hot and sweet. I haven't yet gotten around to figuring out how to replicate the roasting process in our fireplace, but I do have a lazy substitute.

  • 1/3 cup sriracha (chili and vinegar sauce)
  • 1/4 tsp hickory smoked salt
  • 1/4 cup jarred shallots or garlic
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tbs packed bown sugar (palm sugar i even better if you have it)
  • 1 tbs soy sauce
  • 1 tsp balsamic vinegar (tamarind is even better if you have it)
  • 1/4 cup oil
Mix together all ingredients. You can leave out the oil without any trouble if you're just cooking around, but if you're using this in a thai recipe, the recipe probably expects an oil-based paste.

This stuff is odd in that it never tastes very good to me on its own, but it adds something really wonderful to a stir-fry or curry.
6:37 pm
Fake Pulao
Pulao is the Indian name for the universal fried rice dish; in Mongolia caladri  and I had plov, and there are Greek pilafs, too. Apparently, "hey, let's take this rice and brown it with a bit of oil and then add some meat for flavor" is a pretty universal thought. Pulao is one of the best of the bunch: lightly curry-flavored, with cashews or peas in.
  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 1 Tbs peanut oil
  • half a bunch of oyster mushrooms (about 3/4 a cup uncooked), chopped
  • 2 cup water
  • 3/4 cup frozen peas
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • buillon cube/flavoringwhatever - enough for 2 cup water
  • 2 tbs minced onions or shallots
  • 1/2 tsp curry powder
Saute the garlic in the oil over medium heat; when it begins to brown (about 3 minutes) add the mushrooms. Cook mushrooms until soft (about 5 minutes) and dump in the quinoa. Stir the quinoa and cook for a minute more, then add the water and spice powders. Cook, stirring frequently, for fifteen minutes, throw in the peas, and cook five more minutes. Serve.

You really could do this without the mushrooms, or with any other sort of mushroom.
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