Thursday, July 23, 2009

Karenne's Ratatouille

This comes to the blog from Karenne, who's up North now, but will soon return to the Fort. (No one ever leaves Arkansas, they just wander off for a time.)

1 medium eggplant, cut into small chunks
1 teaspoon salt 
1 large red onion, cut in bite sized chunks
2 red peppers, cut into rectangular chunks
2 green peppers, cut into rectangular chunks
2 medium zucchini, cut into thick slices
1 cup mushrooms, quartered (I prefer baby portabello)
4 cloves garlic, sliced or cut into chunks
2 tablespoons olive oil (the best you can get your hands on)
8 ounce can diced tomato (or use fresh tomato)
2 teaspoon dried basil (or 6 leaves of fresh basil)


Any other green herbs, such as Marjoram, as desired.

Sprinkle the salt onto the cut up eggplant and let it hang out on a paper towel for about 10 minutes. This will release some of the moisture from the eggplant.

When the eggplant is ready, put all of the ingredients in a clay or stoneware dutch-oven. It looks like a huge bowl. Pampered Chef makes a nice one. Make sure all of the vegetable are coated with the olive oil. If you don’t have a dutch-oven, use a couple of baking sheets.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. When ready, put the vegetables in the oven for about 45- 60 minutes, checking for softness every 15 minutes or so.

Serve over couscous or rice.  

*The next day, serve the left over veggies over some angel hair pasta. Grate some fresh Parmesiano-Reggiano over the top.

Hey! Delagar Lunch!

I have no idea what this means, except that it's got chocolate in it (I can read that much!) and it's named after me!

(Okay, probably not really.  And too bad, because don't I look tasty?)

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Eusebia's Sangria

It's not quit Thursday yet (which as you will remember is when the weekend starts for me this summer) but Tonks has sent along a fine recipe for something nice to so with Sangria, so in the spirit (heh heh I said spirit) of looking ahead (heh heh I said head) here we are!


1 bottle dry red wine

1/3 cup Brandy

1/3 cup Cointreau

1/3 cup Brown Sugar

Orange Juice

Club Soda

1 red apple & 1 orange ( thinly sliced)

Preparation:

Marinate the fruit in the brown sugar,Brandy and Cointreau at least an hour.

Then add bottle of wine and add OJ and Club soda to taste.

ENJOY!!!



Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Tar Pit

This is not actually food.

But it's still too hot to cook here, so I can't post actual recipes.  We're living on fruit and cheese sandwiches (do you want my recipe for cheese sandwiches?  Take good bread, cut thick.  Hellman Mayonaise, spread thick.  Add Boarshead White American cheese, a couple of slices.  Cut off crusts.  Mmm!).

Tar pit is something I make for the kid, and have been making for the kid, since she was knee-high.  She loves it.  It's called tar-pit because she used it, when she was that little, as a tar pit to mire all her little dinosaurs in. (I also carefully scrubbed out egg shells so she could hatch the baby dinosaurs from them.  She was my tiny paleontologist.)

It's not really called tar pit.  I forget what it's called.  But we make it several times a year, and it's still a big hit.

It's really cool and terribly disgusting to make.

Start with 2 large bottles of white school glue, the kind that used to be 8 oz and is now 750 ml.

You'll also need Borax, the powdered sort.  Only one store in our area sells this anymore, so good luck.

Take 4 teaspoons of Borax and mix it in a small glass measuring cup with 1 cup of hot tap water, as hot as will come out of your tap.  Stir it up thoroughly.  Add some food coloring if you like. Whatever color you like.  Purple is good for tar pits.  Use lots.

In a largish glass or ceramic bowl, put a cup and a half of hot water, and add all the glue.  Stir, stir.

Dump in the Borax & water mix, while stirring & stirring.  The kid can dump while you stir.  This is the Very Exciting Part, because as you dump, the Borax reacts with the glue to become -- I don't know -- hideous globs!  Nasty horrible gummy yucks! Don't flinch! Keep stirring!

When it gets too thick, scrape off the spoon, shove the mess at the kid, and let her or him continue to knead by hand.  Go "Ack-ack-ack, that's disgusting!" in an encouraging way.

As it solidifies a bit, you can dump the solid bit (vaguely ball-shaped by now) out onto wax paper and let the kid keep kneading and messing, and take everything else off to scrub, because it will be slimy and uck.

If your kid is like my kid, they will be occupied for hours.  Small toys, scissors, butter knives, and such to bury in the tar pit make playing more fun.

When they are done, seal in a Rubbermaid vat and the tar pit will keep for weeks.  Oh Boy!



Thursday, June 25, 2009

Fruit Plate for Summers in Arkansas

It is too hot to cook anything now, except maybe stir-fry, and anyway it is Thursday, the start of the weekend during Summer Semesters this year.  Yay! Time for Rum & Lime! So we will discuss stir-fry the Arkansas Way some other time.

Fruit Plate is what we call Fruit Salads, more or less, around the delagar household, b/c we live with tiny miss spoiled child, the emperor kid, who for a long time (this was actually due to the corn syrup allergy we later discovered she had, and only partially to her innate nature) would eat almost nothing: I had to lure her into eating.

The fruit plate was one of the few things she would eat.  It involved the parent and child together selecting a number of fine tasty fruits at the store -- a banana, a pear, some blueberries or blackberries, two or three different sorts of plums, watermelon, a ripe peach.  If you have the sort of child, as I do, who is interested in these things, discuss what each fruit is good for: how watermelon is filled vitamin A and fiber, how blackberries have fiber and vitamin C and potassium, and peaches are really good for vitamin A and pears for your minerals....

At home, find your prettiest plate.  Cut and slice and, if you have a fussy kid like mine, peel the icky fruits.  Leave the peel on as many as possible, since the peels have nutrients in most fruits.  Also, mostly, fruit peelings are tasty. Arrange in artful patterns.  Get the kid involved.  Tell her its art!

In the center put a small dish of real whipped cream.  (If that appalls you too much you can put vanilla yogurt, but come on -- you give the kid ice cream, don't you?  How this any different?  And the fruit!  The kid is eating fruit!  Surely that makes up for the small amount of cream!)

The kid can dip the fruit in the cream or eat in all by itself, as can you.  

You can chill the fruit plate and the cream first if you like.

Eat with bare fingers, by the way.  It's sticky, but great.


Friday, June 19, 2009

Knight Soup

This one was invented by the Kid.  It is a recipe best cooked along with a small child -- perhaps seven to ten years old -- and it is imperative that you make the ingredients as gruesome as possible.

Get a large iron pot.

Chop up an ogre's head. (This probably looks like an onion, but that is because it is bewitched.) Discuss, as you chop it, who thieved it from the trolls on the magic mountain -- was it Princess Margaret or Squire's son?

Once the ogre's head is chopped up, simmer it in the iron pot in some dragon's blood, which smells probably something like olive oil. (If your child likes dragons, tell her the dragon doesn't mind giving up a tiny bit of blood to the Princess, because she asks so sweetly.)

Slice some giant's finger bones (green as celery) and toss them in.  Stir, stir.

Pour in troll tears (salty as chicken broth) -- why have the trolls been crying so much?  You and the kid can speculate as you cut up the dried magic mushrooms (or, if you don't like mushrooms, magic rocks, shaped just like potatoes).

A bit of shredded knight flesh gets added in here.  You can use chicken or unicorn flesh if you don't have any dead knights lying about.  Add pepper and salt.  Not too much.

Stir and simmer for awhile.  Add in the jewels robbed from the dragon's horde -- these can be whatever jewels you like.  The kid liked the green and yellow ones, shaped like peas and corn.

Then add ground giant bones, chanting FEE FI FO FUM!  Since it looks like rice, it should boil about the same length of time.  Add as much as you like.  The kid likes lots and lots -- she likes her knight soup to be very nearly like knight gruel.

Serve with fingers.  I mean toast fingers!


Monday, June 15, 2009

Zelda's Rotel Chicken

(From Zelda! Who took time off from studying for her comps.  Thanks, Zelda!)

Boil some chicken. 

I use a couple of breasts.  I like to keep the fat on while boiling and the bone so that I can make some broth. I'm always a needing broth.  I freeze it in baggies for later, for gravies and such, since we are lactose intolerant.  Oh, to the chicken in the boiling pot add some chopped celery, an entire chopped onion, and maybe some garlic, if you like garlic.  When you drain the broth, take these bits out.

Then peel chicken off of the bone and take off the fat and gristle.  

Chop.  Set aside. 

In a nice size microwave safe bowl:  cut up a half a large loaf of Velveeta cheese and add a can of Rotel.  I use mild. Add a can of cream of somebody soup.  I use mushroom.   I add a little of the chicken broth too, maybe a fourth of a cup.

 Then, add a half of a small onion.  Dice it.  And about a cup of mushrooms.  I also add about two handfuls of frozen broccoli that has been steamed and/or some cauliflower that has been steamed.

 Into the bottom of a large glass cake pan thingy layer the following: corn chips,  like Doritos or such, the chicken, the cheese sauce, the vegetables, and some shredded cheddar cheese.  Keep doing this until you use all the cheese sauce.  The last layer should be the chips.  

 Put in oven covered with aluminum foil and cook for about thirty minutes at about 320.  Take aluminum off and add shredded cheddar and turn off heat and let the cheddar melt.

 You can use any combination of vegetables you like and I've done it with turkey and have just used ground round too.  Whatever I have in the refrig.

  

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Real Whipped Cream

I kind of feel weird calling this a recipe, but oh well.

Put some heavy cream in a medium bowl.  Some = however much you think you need.  More cream for more whipped cream, less for less.

Add a little sugar, and some good quality vanilla.  Me, I like this stuff, when I have the money.

Whip it.  A hand-mixer works best, in my experience, but mr. delagar uses the stand-alone mixer.

Taste it as it whips.  If it's not sweet enough, add more sugar.  Not vanilla-y enough, add more vanilla.

When it gets to looking thick and like whipped cream, you are done.  Stop!  Don't go too long, or you will have butter.

(Yes, I do speak from experience.)


Brownies

Many elaborate brownie recipes exist, but these are simple, simple brownies, and thus my utter favorites.

First, heat the oven to 350 degrees.

Next, grease an 8X8 pan.  Get it really really greasy.  I use butter, of course.

Assemble your ingredients.  You need

  • 1 stick of butter
  • 1/2 cup good cocoa
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • a bit of salt
Now: melt the butter in a medium sauce pan.  Once it's melted, take it off the heat and stir in the sugar and the cocoa.  Stir, stir, stir.  Use a wooden spoon and a small child.  One about seven or eight years old is good.  Once the sugar and cocoa is mixed in really good, beat in the eggs.  The small child is no good for this step since you'll have to beat them in hard and the child will whine that her arm hurts.

Beat in the vanilla and then the flour and salt.

Use a rubber spatula to spread into the pan, and bake at 350 for about 20 minutes.  Take it out sooner if it smells done sooner.

You can give the sauce pan and spatula and wooden spoon to the kid to lick, but be careful -- sometimes the sauce pan is still a bit hot and the kid will whine if she burns herself.  (Rotten kids!)

Cut up and serve with ice cream or real whipped cream or all by themselves.





Monday, June 8, 2009

Tabouli

This is Arkansas graduate-student Tabouli more than the traditional sort; but you still eat it with pita bread.  It's really, really good when you're living in a graduate student shack with no air-conditioning (or an AC you can't afford to turn on) in the middle of an Arkansas summer.

Ingredients:

Two cups bulgar wheat, cracked
Some tomatoes, homegrown from your neighbor's garden are best
Some onions, ditto
Cucumbers, yep
Optional: parsley, mint, other greeny bits
Olive oil
Salt
Pepper

Take two cups of the bulgar wheat; put it in a large glass bowl or something big and glass. (I had a big pyrex dish I used.)  Dump in two cups of boiling water.  Filter this water first if you live somewhere where the water is nasty.

Let the water and wheat mix sit covered for awhile -- half hour to an hour.

You can use this time to chop your onions and tomatoes and cucumbers into bits.  I like fewer onions and more cucumbers and tomatoes, so I use two tomatoes and two cucumbers and just a quarter of an onion, or if I'm using leeks, one leek, but feel free to mess with proportions.

Mix these into the wheat and water, along with some salt and pepper.  If you want to add mint and parsley, you can.  Chop them up tiny first.  I never liked the flavor, so I never did, plus, yikes, pricey, at least the mint is, and this is a pov case dish, except for the oil, so they sort of defeat the purpose.  But if I liked the flavor you can bet I'd add them.

Add a half a cup of good olive oil.  Yes, I said a half a cup.  Do it!  Olive oil is good for you!

Stir, stir, stir.

Chill for awhile, covered, in the fridge.  The tabouli, I mean, though you can chill, too.  Have a rum & lime out on the stoop!

Serve with pita bread and beer and lime, or ice tea if you've got an early class.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Enchilada Sauce From Tonks

Enchiladas

3 T. canola oil

1 T. flour

1/4 C. chili powder*

Chicken stock**

1- 15 oz. can tomato sauce

1- 6 oz. can tomato paste

1 tsp. dried oregano

1 tsp. ground cumin

1/2 tsp. salt

 

In a medium saucepan heat oil. Add flour, smoothing and stirring with a wooden spoon. Cook for one-minute. Add chili powder and cook for 30-seconds. Add stock, tomato sauce, tomato paste, oregano and cumin. Stir to combine and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and cook for 15-minutes. The sauce will thicken and smooth out. Adjust seasonings to your taste. Spoon over your favorite enchiladas (I personally like chicken and onion with lots of gooey cheese). 

 

*I use a mixture of Penzey's Taco Seasoning and chili powder and omit the salt. 

 

** The original recipe called for a 10 oz. can of tomato paste and two-cups of chicken stock. The sauce turned out thicker than I like so now I add chicken stock until it's the right consistency- probably roughly a can or so. 

 

Tonks' Sugar Cookies

These are the best sugar cookies. Ever. Swear to god. My favorite way to eat them is slathered in a cream cheese icing and topped with fresh mixed berries. So. Good. Sometimes I cut them very small and sort of dip them in the cream cheese because I'm lazy like that.

Grandmother's Christmas Sugar Cookie

1 1/2 C. sugar

1 C. melted shortening (I use regular Crisco)

4 eggs beaten 

2 tsp. vanilla

4 C. flour

2 tsp. cream of tartar

1 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. salt

 

Mix all ingredients. Divide into three sections, wrap individual sections in wax paper and chill for an hour. Roll dough 1/4 inch thick. Put in pizza pan or cut for cookies. 

Bake at 375.

Cookies: 6-8 minutes 

Pizza: 15-minutes (this makes a fantastic crust for fruit pizza) 

I usually ice with cream cheese icing (1 brick of regular Philadelphia Cream Cheese mixed with a bag or so of powdered sugar).

 


Saturday, June 6, 2009

Popovers

These are really good for making with kids, b/c of the popover actions, but in any situation where you need fast bread, they're handy.

(1) Heat the oven up to about 375.

(2) Oil up your muffin tin.  Lots of real butter is what I advise.  Lay that stuff on thick. You're going for 12 popovers, though you might not reach that many.

(3) One cup milk, two eggs.  Beat them together in a medium bowl with a wire whisk.  

(4) A cup of flour and some salt -- not too much salt.  Beat this in with the whisk, but not too much.  If you beat too much at this stage, the pops don't pop.  Just enough to get the flour just mixed in and then quit.  It's okay if some flour still looks lumpy.

(5) Use a 1/3 cup measuring cup to fill your muffin tin cups about 1/3 to halfway full.  If you don't have enough for all twelve don't get neurotic.

(6) Bake in the 375 degree oven for 25-30 minutes.  Do NOT open the door once you have put them in.  DON'T DON'T DON'T.  They don't pop if you peek.  When they smell really good, they're done.  Take them out.  Sometimes they pop, sometimes they don't.  They're really good either way.

BTW, these are the Vanity Cakes Ma made in On The Banks of Plum Creek, if you ever wondered.



Thursday, June 4, 2009

Rum & Lime

I don't suppose you actually need a recipe for this, but it is the start of my weekend (we're getting Fridays off all summer for the summer term for my university -- yay!) so, in celebration, my new favorite thing to do with rum.

Take one quarter of a very nice ripe lime.  Squeeze it into your favorite glass.  

Add about that much Blackstrap Curazon Navy Rum.  If you haven't had this rum, find some and make yourself happy.  It's not too pricey and has the most interesting flavor.

Add a spoonful of sugar.  Stir, stir, stir.

Add enough icy cold seltzer to get to about halfway up the glass.

Fill the rest of the glass with ice cubes.

Repeat as necessary or until mr. delagar makes you stop.


Wednesday, June 3, 2009

L's Lentil Pasta

Baked Pasta (Vegetarian) 

From L.

1. Cook whatever kind of noodles you like to just "al dente." Drain and rinse with cold water to stop cooking. Set aside.  

2. Prepare 8 ounces (more or less) of lentils according to the package instructions. Drain. Set aside.  

3. Prepare a tomato sauce. I usually saute fresh minced garlic and onion in some olive oil, add diced canned tomatoes, basil, oregano, and/or whatever you like in your sauce and let it simmer a while. 

 4. Treat a baking dish with non-stick spray. Layer noodles, lentils, tomato sauce, grated mozzarella, and parmesan cheese until you run out of ingredients or room in your baking dish. A cheese layer should end up on top. 

 5. Bake at 375 (or so) until the cheese is melted and bubbly and forming brown spots. 


Beans

An excellent meal for hard times, I may just cook these too often. Both mr. delagar and the kid get all snotty when I proposed having them again, in any case, despite the fact that both agree I make the best beans, like, evah.  The secret's in the chocolate.

(1) Start with, obviously, beans.  You can use any sort.  Lately I favor black beans, the tiny little black ones sold in the Latin section of our local grocery, a pound for about fifty cents.  When I was living in New Orleans, I used Camilla red kidney.  For a time, I was using a local soup bean mix.  The type doesn't matter so much.  Have fun!  Use about a pound of beans. Bust them out of the bag, dump into a colander, rinse, and look for stones.  You don't have to soak beans.  That's a Capitalist myth.  Once you're sure no stones have infiltrated your beanish goodness, you're ready to rock and roll.

(2) Take some sort of onion.  Leeks are interesting, as are green onions, as are those big fat red onions.  I've even used wild onions, yanked out of the yard.  Use whatever you've got around.  You want about a cup of chopped up onions, more or less, depending on how much you like onions.  Chop'em big, it doesn't matter.

(3) Cut up your meat.  You can use all sorts of meat.  Bits of chicken are good -- chicken tenders, chicken breasts, left over chicken scraps -- or sausage scraps or bits of beef or whatever meat you like.  I advise against turkey sausage or turkey of any sort, having tried this. For some reason, turkey and beans do not mix.  Cut your meat kind of small, like the tip of your thumb small.

(4) Put some olive oil in a nice big pot.  I like cast iron or heavy aluminum.  It's going to simmer awhile, so something heavy.  Heat it medium low.  Olive oil burns easy, so take care.  Dump in the onions and stir, stir, stir.  Let them cook until we have a nice smell.  Then add the meat and stir.  If you are a vegetarian kind of person, BTW, feel free to leave the meat out.  Meat is not required.

(5) Add broth, about 3-4 cups of it.  More or less according to what you have on hand.  It can be beef or chicken or vegetable if you are a vegetarian-type person.  Add in beans.

(6) Add other seasonings.  Me, I add only some pepper and salt at this point, but mr. delagar will add cayenne pepper and weird spices like bay leaf.  My advice: start with the pepper (about a tablespoon) and salt (ditto) and see how you like that.  Also: one tablespoon unsweetened good quality cocoa powder.  I like Ghirardelli's myself, but any nice dark cocoa powder will do.  Mix it with the broth first and then stir it in.  If you like, add a tiny bit of black strap molasses, too, but not too much and add a bit more salt and pepper if you do this.  Add some water, enough to cover the beans and a little more.

(7) Bring to boil, lower to a simmer, simmer for about 3 hours, until beans are soft.  As the water gets absorbed, you can add more water -- how much you will need will depend on how thirsty the beans are.  Keep the beans covered, but not deluged.

(8) Serve with rice or tortillas.  Or you can serve it with good bread.   Can be frozen or kept in the fridge and reheated for two or three days or until mr. delagar and the kid threaten mutiny.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Mu Shu

MU SHU



1/4 cup peanut or vegetable oil
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 teaspoons finely grated peeled fresh ginger
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon dried hot red pepper flakes
1 (16-oz) bag coleslaw mix
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon Asian sesame oil
3 tablespoons hoisin sauce
1 bunch scallions, coarsely chopped
8 (6-inch) flour tortillas (not low-fat) OR won tons
2 1/2 to 3 cups coarsely shredded cooked chicken, without skin (from a 2-lb rotisserie chicken)
 
Accompaniments: hoisin sauce; chopped scallions; plum sauce

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over high heat until hot but not smoking, then cook eggs, stirring, until just cooked through. Transfer scrambled eggs to a plate. Add remaining 3 tablespoons oil to skillet and heat until hot but not smoking, then cook ginger, garlic, and red pepper flakes, stirring, until garlic is golden, about 1 minute. Add coleslaw mix and 2 tablespoons water and cook, covered, stirring occasionally, until coleslaw is wilted, about 5 minutes.
 
Stir together soy sauce, sesame oil, remaining 2 tablespoons water, and hoisin sauce in a small bowl. Add to coleslaw mixture along with chicken, scallions and eggs and cook, stirring, 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Immediately put tortillas between 2 dampened paper towels on a microwave-safe plate and microwave on high power until tortillas are hot, about 1 minute.
 
Spread small amount of hoisin or plum sauce onto tortillas or won ton, add mu shu mixture, fold and serve.
 

Monday, June 1, 2009

Good Bread

Living where I do, in Fuck Smith, as we fondly call it, and having come, as we did, from New Orleans (me) and Philadelphia/New Jersey (mr. delagar), the bread situation, as you can imagine, makes us sad.

Worse, mr. delagar's family were bakers -- had been bakers for the past five generations.  So the sort of bread that is available in Fort Smith, Arkansas, which is, even when you avoid name-brand whiteboy bread, spongy, waddy, HFCS crap.

So we have to bake our own, and did have to, even before we discovered the kid's corn syrup allergy.

Luckily, baking bread is not difficult.  No, really!  It's not!

Two rules:

(1) Use good flour
(2) Get the best stand-alone mixer you can afford

Well, okay, three:

(3) Don't forget the salt

(1) The flour I really like is King Arthur Bread flour.  It's sort of pricey, and not available everywhere.  They do ship, and man is that pricey.  Depends on how much you like your bread.  A good "Better for Bread" flour will do okay, but make sure you use bread flour -- you need the higher gluten content.

(2) Stand-alone mixers are way pricey.  We paid over six hundred dollars for ours, and we're academics, so, you know, not much money here.  (We paid three hundred for the one before that, and burned out its engine.)  You absolutely can make bread without a stand-alone mixer, and I have done it, often.  I made bread that way for years, in fact.  However (1) the product you get with the mixer is much better than the product you get kneading by hand and (2) my jeezly is it easier to knead with a mixer.  (I have no opinion on which mixer is best.  mr. delagar has very strong opinions, but he can get his own blog.  Right now we have a Viking Professional which I have been very happy with.)

(3) If you leave out the salt the bread tastes flat and bad.  But it's easy to leave out.  I put the box of salt on top of the box of flour so that I can't get more flour without seeing it.  That way I don't forget.

Also! Pre-heat the oven way before you think you need to.  Hot hot hot ovens make better bread.

Bread for Dinner

(1) Heat the oven to about 400 degrees/maybe 425

(2) Start with about a cup of really cold water.  Use good water.  If you live somewhere like Fort Smith where the water tastes like chemical and fish, filter it first.  The really cold bit is also important.

(3) Put the water in the mixer.  Add about a tablespoon of yeast.  (Buy your yeast in bulk, btw, if you plan to make lots of bread, and keep it in a jar in the freezer.)  Add about a cup of flour and a bit of blackstrap or other dark molasses (a bit is less than a teaspoon) and hit the lower speed mix -- about 2 on your mixer.  Use the blade, btw, at this stage.  And if you don't have/like molasses, you can use something else -- brown sugar, white sugar, barley malt.  You just need a tiny bit of sugar-something to help the yeast get going.  Mix for a minute.  

(4) Add in about a tablespoon of olive oil, the good stuff, and about a tablespoon of Kosher salt.  Add another cup of flour.  Mix some more -- about another minute.

(5) Now we're adding flour and mixing.  Add flour in 1/2 cup increments, mixing, each time, for about a minute, at speed 2 or 3 or 4.  I'm not telling you how much flour to add b/c how much depends on a number of variables -- how damp the air is, and how damp your flour was, other issues we don't know.  What you want is a good dough, and you'll add and knead until you've got that.  

(6) When the dough is a nice firm ball, switch to the dough hook.  A dough scraper helps for this bit, to scrape the dough off the blade.

(7) Add flour more slowly now -- like 1/8 of a cup at a time, or, as I do it, a tiny handful at a time, still mixing a minute between each addition.  Kneading is the important part of making bread.  You want the kneading to be thorough.

(8) When the dough feels and looks right, you're done with this part.  Now what does that mean?  Looks and feels right?  What's that mean?  Well, you know it when you feel it.  Sort of like a baby's belly, is the best I can do -- but not exactly.  Elastic, firm, not quite dry.  Practice will teach you, and, unfortunately, only practice will.  Luckily, there's a range of okay.  You don't need perfection at this stage.

(9) Oil it up with a bit of olive oil, cover it up in the same bowl you mixed it in, let it rise for awhile, an hour or so, maybe less, maybe more (heat, humidity, and how annoying your kids are will all affect how long it needs to rise).

(10) Grease up your baking sheet. (I grease with butter b/c I like how butter tastes.) Dump out your dough, beat the hell out of it (we're degassing, so have fun), then use your dough scraper to chop it into about eight equal parts.

(11) Shape these into the shapes you like.  Round for round rolls.  Long for bread sticks. Oval if you want oval rolls.  Square, I suppose, if you're into square.  Put them on your greased sheet.  Mix up an egg yolk if you're mr. delagar and paint them with that.  If you're me, paint them with olive oil.  Other options include water and salt, poppy seeds, maybe some onion bits.  Life is an adventure!

(12) Cover with a clean dish towel and let rise awhile -- about 15-20 minutes is enough.  Then bake in that hot oven for about 20-22 minutes, or maybe even 25.  When they smell great, they're done. Thump them if you're not sure.  When they sound hollow, they're done.

(11) Cool briefly on  cooling rack, eat with real actual butter, or in stew, or with hummus, or whatever you like, except that awful nasty evil margarine.  Don't put margarine on honest hardworking bread, you sinner.




 

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Hello!

This is my new blog, Cooking with delagar.

It's here for two reasons, basically.  One, I've been wanting for awhile to have a place where I can post recipes I use all the time which I just know all y'all are dying to hear about.

And two, I'm hoping y'all might send me recipes -- cause I am so sick of not having anything new to eat.  So!  Send submissions!  If I love'em, I post'em, and we all have more fun eating!

How's it sound?

Here's the gmail account for this blog: send your submissions here --

drdelagar@gmail.com



Asparagus

Recipe # One:

I'm starting easy, with a classic.  I make this for the kid, who eats a pound of asparagus every time I cook this.

Start by buying nice fresh crisp sort of skinny asparagus.  Stay away from fat limp or wilty asparagus that's been hanging around the produce aisle too long.  I like really skinny myself, thinner than a pencil, but suit yourself.

Next, wash and blot dry.  Cold cold wash.  While you're doing this, turn on the broiler part of your oven -- broily hot, hot as it will go.

Next, snap off the fat end,  Throw away or feed to the guinea pig.  Keep the top bit -- that end that snaps off naturally.  Make sure you've got the tip ends really dry.

Put these ends in a big old shallow pan.  You don't want them crowded.  If you've got lots of ends, use a bigger pan.  I line the pan with foil because I hate scrubbing pans, but whatever you want to do.

Using really, really, really good olive oil -- this is key, get the best oil your local shops will sell (given that I live in Fuck Smith, I gnash my teeth at this point; if you are lucky and live somewhere civilized, I hate you) -- drizzle about a tablespoonful of olive oil over the tips; a little more or less depending on how many tips you have.  You want them nicely oily, but not drippy.  Think of a hunky guy oiled up at the beach: that's what you're after.  

Sprinkle some Kosher salt on your oily guy -- uh, tips.  More or less salt depending on salty you like your guys.

Now pop your tips under the broiler for 5 to 7 minutes.  When it smells lovely, it is lovely.  Whisk it out and eat all crunchy and hot.  

These do not keep.  They are no good at all cold or reheated.  Be prepared to eat five to seven minutes after you begin cooking.

I like them all on their own, but they go fine with chicken or lamb if you can get the timing right.  Excellent as an appetizer, too.