Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Naan bread from scratch!

This was from the 14th. Again, I just didn't get around to posting this until now.

I love naan bread and since I can now make some pretty good curry, I figured I'd try making my own naan bread :)

Of course, I looked to the Internet for guidance, and I found this video of how to make naan bread. It called for 200g of flour, which was problematic as I don't have a kitchen scale. Again, looking on the Internet, I figured that 200g flour = 1.25 - 1.5 cups of flour. I used something in between. I found that the dough was really dry and I had to keep adding milk and yogurt to make it work, but maybe I just used too much flour :p.

It didn't turn out quite like naan bread, but it was quite tasty! I really like bread, especially fresh bread :). I don't think I rolled the dough thin enough. I didn't want to roll it too thin b/c the video warned me not to.

Naan bread and curry from scratch!!!

A closer look at the naan bread

Once I perfect the naan bread, I'm opening up my own Indian restaurant.

Fried udon

I made this on the 10th, but kept putting off the blog post. It's not the first time I've made fried udon, but it's the first time I'm documenting my process.

Ingredients: shrimp, carrots, broccoli, mushrooms, and udon. I should've chopped up some onions too.

Put a little water and oil in the pan

Add the udon. I only ended up using 2 packages.

Cook until the udon breaks apart

Add the veggies. A spatula is easier at this point rather than chopsticks.

Add some frozen veggies for more colour if you want

The water will evaporate. You may need to add more oil. You can use a bit of sesame oil instead of regular oil. When the veggies are pretty much cooked, add the shrimp, or other meat, or nothing for vegetarian.

Seasoning: sesame seeds, dark soy sauce, white pepper, chives, sesame oil, parsley flakes, and light soy sauce. I just add a bit of everything. I don't know whether to use dark or light soy sauce, so I use both. Dark seems to give it the colour and saltiness and light gives a bit of a sweet taste. If available, use fresh green onions and parsley instead of the jarred chives and flakes I used.


The final product. It was tasty!

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Meat Sauce

I begin with my meat sauce. Below are the vegetables I use. Onions, celery and carrots are standard, add hot chillies if you like spice.


Wash and dice vegetables. Heat oil. I try to cook as light as I can, add enough oil so that you can swirl the pot once and the floor of the pot will be covered with a uniform thin layer. Also, add salt and pepper to the vegetables. I try to go light on the salt too. This all goes on at medium to high heat.

Once the vegetables our soft. Add ground meat. You can use chicken, veal, beef, whatever... no fish. I think that would be nasty.


Keep meat and vegetables at medium to high heat. Let the meat brown in the vegetable mix. Once it's pretty well cooked through it should look something like this:


Then add canned tomatoes and tomato paste. If you use whole tomatoes like I did then while the sauce is cooking you have to press it with a potato smasher every now then.


After adding the tomato stuff you're basicly done. All that's left is the seasoning. Add as much basil, oregano, salt, pepper, parsley as you desire. You can cut up and add more hot chillies if you like. Leave the sauce on medium to low heat for atleast a half an hour. The longer the better.

Final product:


Ok, so the last pic wasn't actually the final pic. There was some potato smasher action in the pot afterwards to get the meat sauce less tomato-chunked. If you don't add meat you can make a really good smooth tomato sauce by putting it through the blender after it's cooked but still warm. You can use diced tomatoes and save yourself some hassle. This sauce takes a while to make but you can use it for many things.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Apple Hash Browns

I decided I would try and make apple hash browns for breakfast this morning. I wasn't too sure how they would turn out, but I couldn't think of any reason why they wouldn't. My logic was, you usually make hash browns from potatoes, and apples and potatoes are pretty similar when you think about it. They both have a skin, they have similar consistencies on the inside, and in french potatoes are called pommes de terre which if you translate literally means "apples of the ground". So in theory the two should be interchangeable right? Let's find out.

First I took an apple...

Chopped it up and put the pieces in a frying pan....

And then added some vegetable oil and fried the whole thing.

This is how they turned out. They looked like hash browns alright, but there was a subtle difference. When you fry potatoes, they get crispy. Apples, on the other hand, get mushy. Not sure why they behave differently. My theory is that apples turn mushy because they contain more water than potatoes, but who knows what the real reason is?
They didn't turn out quite like I thought, but they still tasted ok. It might work better using a different kind of apple. I wonder how apple fries would work?

Monday, January 15, 2007

Crème Brûlée

I borrowed a bunch of cookbooks from the library for Christmas time. One of the books was by Julia Child. I had some leftover cream from making bread pudding and decided to attempt to make Julia's crème brûlée from it. I love ordering this dessert from a restaurant, but have always been too intimidated to make it. I made some minor modifications from the original recipe (omitted a few steps and didn't use orange zest). Here's what happened:

Stirred together cream and vanilla extract in a saucepan and brought to a simmer.

Beat egg yolks and sugar together.

Gradually stirred the cream mixture into the egg mixture. You're supposed to go slowly in order to avoid coming out with scrambled eggs.
Poured the combined mixture into ice cream bowls. I don't have ramekins.

Put the bowls in baking dishes that were filled with water. The water keeps the oven steamy and moist inside.

Took the bowls out of the oven when the custards were set, about half an hour. Then put the custards in the fridge to chill for about 4 hours.

Sprinkled brown sugar on top of the custards.

Time to form the crust. This can be done either with a blowtorch or underneath a broiler. My dad has a blowtorch, however I don't know where it's been and what he's used it for in the past, so I decided to go with the broiler method.

Put the bowls back in the oven and turned the broiler on. I set the rack in the middle of the oven and sat and watched the sugar turn colour. Took the bowls out after the sugar darkened in colour, a few minutes.

Rich creamy goodness!

The custard part of the crème brûlée tasted really good, however the crust wasn't exactly what I had hoped for. The crust was hard and provided a nice contrast to the creamy custard, but the sugar didn't really caramelize. It was still powdery in some spots, and um... very very brown in other spots. I may have put too much sugar on top. I think the next time I try this, I'll use less sugar for the crust. A blowtorch might also be helpful for precision browning.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

A variety

This one doesn't have pictures. (sorry) It should but it doesn't ... I was too busy cooking and then quite a bit of eating took place. So here are a few of my latest creations.

Rosemary herb flatbread. I took a basic dough recipe ... flour, water, yeast and some oil I think. I added some ground rosemary (using my mortar and pestle - which, as a pharmacist, is always handy) and some random herbs from the cupboard. Then it rose in a 200 degree oven for about 30 minutes. Then I stretched it out by hand onto my preheated pizza stone. I let it sit there for a while to rise a bit, then brushed it with milk for a crispy glazed top. Then I baked it until crispy and just barely browned. Some leftover pasta sauce served as a wonderful dipping sauce. A perfect alternative to the usual array of late night snacking food.

Then I had a friend over who is doing some diet where you cut all the carbs out. Why anyone would want to do this is beyond me! Alas, I said I'd make dinner for her. So I opted for a veggie beef stirfry minus the noodles/rice. I used my handy Tupperware(R) mini-chopper for all the veggies -- it really cuts down on the prep-time. After stirfrying, I added an oyster sauce-sesame oil-soy sauce-honey mixture to it all. I managed to scrape together a few morsels for lunch the next day.

Lastly, I got up early to make muffins this morning. I took my standard banana chocolate chip bread recipe and made muffins instead. Flour, baking soda and powder, salt, butter, eggs, sugar, chocolate chips and banana. I find it much easier to used previously frozen bananas and simply slice them open. Already all squished up - no mashing required. When I arrived, I discovered someone else decided to bring muffins as well. I am proud to say that, despite a plethora of muffins, my tray was completely gone! Hooray for that.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Garlic Dill Sweet Potatoes

I was pretty hungry on the drive home from work. I spent pretty much the whole 45 min or so dreaming up what I could make for dinner, and this idea dawned on me. I'm sure it's been done before, but that doesn't make it any less tasty.

I started by throwing a slab of butter into a pot. Real butter, none of this margerine bullcrap. (Hydrogenated = bad).

I added some garlic salt and dill to the melting butter.

Once everything was melted and all mixed up, I added it to a dish of blurry sweet potatoes and baked the whole thing in the oven for about 40 min. (It took about twice as long as I thought it would). In hindsight, I think my slab of butter may have been a bit too big as there was a lot left in the dish after I took the potatoes out. Oh well.

Baking the sweet potatoes caused them to become slightly less blurry. They also absorbed the flavor from the garlic and dill, and became melt-in-your-mouth soft from the butter. They actually turned out a lot better than I expected. I thought I made enough for leftovers, but I ended up eating them all. Soo full right now.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Apple Sauce

When I was a kid my grandmother always used to make homemade apple sauce. When I was in Toronto last week, I asked her how to make it. Turns out it's super easy.

First you take your apples. I used granny smith, because everyone knows they are the best kind of apples.

I peeled the apples, chopped them up and threw them in a pot with some water. You don't need a lot of water, if you use too much the sauce will end up being super runny. You can add some sugar too if you want (white or brown). I chose not to because I figure there's enough sugar in everything else these days.

From there all you do is bring the whole thing to a boil and stir it occasionally until the apples turn to mush.

And at the end of it all you have some apple sauce! A tasty treat! I'd make some pork chops to go with if it was only about 40 degrees warmer outside. Winter sucks for the bbq. :(

A Hard-Boiled Secret

I have discovered the secret to making the perfect hard boiled egg. (Pay attention Jilly)

You start with your eggs.

Instead of adding the eggs to an already boiling pot, start with room temperature water.

Bring the pot the boil. Once it boils, remove the pot from heat, but leave the eggs in the water until it cools back down to around room temperature

And enjoy your eggs! Look at that, not even a hint a grey around those yolks. Perfect! Oh yeah!

Monday, January 1, 2007

Baileys + ? = yum

Went to Rob's place to hang out with him and Vince. It was a snowy evening so I felt like drinking something cozy--Baileys! Caramel Baileys to be precise. You can drink Baileys with coffee or hot chocolate, you can drink Bailey's straight on ice. You can drink it in a house with a mouse, on a train with a dame... As I sat there in Rob's big comfy leather chair with my Bailey's on ice I thought to myself, "hmm, this is good. This makes me think of a Paralyzer--Kahlua, vodka, milk, and Coke. What if you mixed Baileys with Coke? No need for milk cuz Baileys is already creamy." This is what happens when you mix Baileys and Coke.

Begin by pouring some random amount of Baileys over ice.

Next, add some random amount of Coke (we're not supposed to measure for this blog, right?)


Yeah, the results are not pretty. It reminded me of a demonstration of how yeast works. It tasted okay (I would have added milk but I didn't see any in Rob's fridge and I didn't want to continue experimenting by adding eggnog as a substitute). The lesson learned here was, you cannot always improve upon something that tastes good already on its own.