Tag Archives: Butter

Thar She (the Gnocci) Blows!

boiling water

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I’m hunting. Whaling actually. And it’s thrilling. I have my harpoon in my hand as I stare down into the clouded ocean, trying to spot that one last whale. The knife of hunger is giving my senses a keen edge and… and there she is. The white whale! She surfaces but my attacks force her back into the opaque waves. Another stab and I’ve hooked her. Fat. White. Glistening. Delicious.

On my cracked wooden spoon rests that final pearl of gnocci. Beneath it the boiling water, cloudy from the starches, begins to come to rest and I realize how hungry I truly was. Hungry Lady Jane is Dramatic Lady Jane.

And so with a resolve to go back and finish Moby Dick I drain the gnocci and drop it into the empty bowl. A few final stirs of the boiling sauce (from a jar but still delicious) before it’s dumped from the orange pot and my main course is complete. It’s gorgeous, the white of the gnocci peaking through the earthy red sauce (I’m suddenly reminded of the tiles in my grandparents’ old house) surrounded by the porcelain with blue bowl. Next to it on an old tiny plate rest two slices of super-quick improv garlic bread.

Sometimes you need to cook a meal for one to be reminded why you fell in love with cooking in the first place.

Super-quick Improv Garlic Bread

You’ve probably made this yourself but just in case you haven’t here it is. Give it a try when you want something garlicy, bready and easy.

Preheat your oven to around 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Take a clove of garlic (this is assuming you’re making two slices of bread and have a strong enjoyment of garlic) and cut it in half. Now dice it up and set it aside. Toast two slices of bread (I used a very thick version of a baguette) before lathering butter on them. Take half of the diced garlic and push the pieces into the butter and then repeat with the other. Place the two pieces of bread (butter side up!) on a tray and then put it in the oven for just a few minutes (maybe two or three). Take out when the butter has melted in and the bread it really crusty on the outside. Eat it.

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Me: 1 Sugar: 1

You know what makes a great post-dinner snack? No, not chocolate chips… not chocolate chips… chocolate…

Right, great snack. Toastable, organic, multi-grain waffles with local apple butter (made less than a mile from my house, how much more local can you get?) I was skeptical about the quality of the waffles since pre-cooked foods tend to scare me (yes, I am still afraid of penicillin, indoor plumbing and opposable thumbs) but they seemed fine coming out of the toaster and covered in nutmeggy-appley-creamy goodness they went down like a treat.

I think this is beginning to represent a changing point in my relationship with food. When hunger struck I didn’t rip the door of the cabinet off for chocolate instead I walked like the modern hominid that I am to the freezer and opened it calmly and then attacked the waffle with apple butter. It seems that I really just need to surround myself with good food. When clementines and whole-grain breads are within reach I don’t need to shove sugars into my system.

Yeah, it really is that simple.

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A Mess of Crêpes- Actually They’re Crepes.

Mastering the Art of French Cooking, original ...

This is (more or less) my copy of Julia and Simca's book! --Image via Wikipedia

First of all. These are not Julia Child Crêpes Suzette or even “real” crepes. I love traditional crêpes but sometimes I want the sugary Joy of Cooking-based recipe that my mother has concocted. In fact to prevent the food purists (of which I kind of am) from writing me about what a crêpe really is let’s just call them crepes. There are /ˈkreɪp/ and there are cray-pps (yes I made up that other phonetic spelling but I think you can get it.) I’m writing about cray-pps.

A few posts ago (maybe two or four) I mentioned that I was making a Mess of Crepes. I’m sure you were all on the edge of your seats waiting to find out what exactly I meant by this so here is the recipe.

First make sure that you like sweet things. Do you? Good.

The next thing you need is our super secret recipe. Basically we just adjusted the recipe in the Joy of Cooking. Here it is:

  • 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup of lukewarm water
  • 3 large eggs (home raised free ranged eggs are the best but I’m a bit biased)
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 3+ tablespoons sugar (add more as your taste runs)
  • pinch of salt

Beat it all together. Now take a flat pan, about the size you’d use if you were normally making crêpes or perhaps scrambled eggs, and add a Julia Child sized tablespoon of butter to the pan and heat it so it’s all buttered up. Now pour in the batter. All of it. With a spatula (I’d recommend against using a spoon or fork as the batter tends to stick into these particular utensils) mix it up like scrambled eggs. Keep mixing until it’s firm and lightly, lightly browned. When you’ve got this in your pan then drop it onto a plate. Eat it. Die of cholesterol. Enjoy.

This may not sound like a big break through but I feel like most people wouldn’t do this without some prompting. It’s funny how scared people are to play around with recipes. I’ve never really felt like I need to follow a direction word for word. After all if it turns out inedible then I simply feed it to the chickens or our garden and cook a frozen pot pie.

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That Ol’ Purple Box

Butter and a butter knife

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Annie’s Mac and Cheese. Annie’s Shells & White Cheese. It has Bernie’s “Rabbit of Approval” so it has to be good, no?

No.

Unfortunately this simple but wholesome fare is so easy to ruin that I’ve had plenty of bad bowls of Annie’s. Runny sauce, clumpy sauce, limp noodles- egh. My own parents can’t seem to produce a decent batch. And no, I’m not picky, I just know what I like and am not afraid to say so.

Don’t despair, there is a way to produce it in a way that makes you just moan with joy. You just need to know how to produce it just right. Let’s look at what the box says:

  • Boil: 8 cups of water in a medium saucepan.
  • Stir In: pasta, bring to boil again.
  • Cook: 8-10 minutes, until done. While pasta is cooking…
  • Measure: 1/3 cup lowfat milk in a measuring cup. Add cheese and stir until smooth.
  • Drain: pasta in colander. Return to saucepan.
  • Pour: cheese sauce over pasta and stir well.”

In my opinion they left out a few things. Let me show you:

  • Boil: 8 cups of water in a medium saucepan. Fine.
  • Stir In: pasta, bring to boil again. Stir these noodles in! Try to keep the noodles from sticking to the bottom of your metal saucepan. (You paid good money for this and want every noodle.)
  • Cook: 8-10 minutes, until done. While pasta is cooking… 8-9 minutes depending on your stove. 10 minutes pushes it for my taste buds.
  • Measure: 1/3 cup lowfat milk in a measuring cup. Add cheese and stir until smooth. Stir? Beat. Beat that cheese into the milk (I say whole milk but that can depend on your dietary needs). It’s smooth? Beat it more. Your wrist hurts? Beat it more. Your fingers bleed? Beat it more. Your measuring cup has broken from your viciousness beating? Done.
  • Drain: pasta in colander. Return to saucepan. Rinse it before returning to the saucepan and then add a dollop of butter to the pasta. And I’m using the Julia Child measurement of a dollop of butter (conversion: two sticks of butter.)
  • Pour: cheese sauce over pasta and stir well. Remember the instructions for the beating of the cheese? Do the same (but a bit more gently, pasta breaks and broken pasta is impossible to stick on your tongue like a yarmulke.)

Keep in mind that these instructions are based off of my own personal taste buds. You can go ahead and ignore these instructions if you want, it’s a free country (despite what Mr. Beck likes to claim.)

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