Recent Posts

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Recipe 1.08 - Mushroom Bourguignon

I am the Worst. Vegetarian. Ever.

A year and a half ago, my roommate dared me to give up meat. Me, being the silly person I am, agreed and haven't eaten meat since. Surprisingly, giving up meat wasn't all that difficult. However, I have yet to give up things like chicken and beef broth.

I guess one of the reasons I never felt the need to give up meat-flavored broths was that the initial dare was sort of a test of will, and not an actual stance against animal consumption. But now that I've gone this long without meat, I've been contemplating making vegetarianism a lifestyle choice, which means I need to figure out what I believe it is to be a vegetarian. Do I still eat fish? Should I try going vegan? And is it ok for me to make soups with chicken and beef broth? I can't even pretend vegetable broth is as good as chicken and beef broth. I would be very sad if I couldn't use them anymore, but I wouldn't feel like a real vegetarian if I just made up arbitrary rules about certain ingredients.

That's still an issue I'm working out as I become more and more set on making vegetarianism a permanent part of my life. Like I mentioned earlier, I first gave up meat basically to see if I could, and I have definitely noticed a lot of the benefits of a vegetarian diet. I feel better, have way more energy, and am extremely conscientious about the food choices that I make, since I have to figure out alternative ways to get the nutrients that I miss out on. It's also fun to try to adapt recipes that are meant to be made with meat and discover that the recipe is just as great without meat.

Unfortunately, this recipe wasn't one of them. I was inspired to cook this after watching Julie and Julia with my mom over winter break (man, it has been a long time since I've updated this thing) and while it was perfectly fine, I didn't think it was anything special. I think it might have benefited with meat, but this was also one of those recipes where my stupid list got in the way. See, the recipes calls for such luxuries as carrots, celery, thyme, and flour, which I neither can use nor have in my kitchen. So I probably missed out on a lot of the flavor because of that, and I'm not a cool enough cook to know how to improvise and add some other stuff from my list to compensate. Maybe next time. :(

Mushroom Bourguignon
Adapted from, you guessed it, Smitten Kitchen. If you want to indulge yourself and buy the ingredients that I can't, I suggest you follow her recipe. She probably made it about 1,000x better than I did.

Serves 4

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter, softened
2 pounds portobello mushrooms, cut into 1/4 inch slices
1/2 carrot, diced
1 onion, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced (I would add more if I made this again)
1 cup red wine
2 cups beef or, if you are an actual vegetarian and not a fake one like me, vegetable broth
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
1 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup pearl onions, peeled
Egg noodles
Sour cream and chopped chives or parsley, to garnish

1. Heat 1 tablespoon of butter and one of olive oil in a medium saucepan. Add mushrooms, and cook for a couple of minutes, until they get some color but have not released juices, about 3-4 minutes.

2. Place mushrooms aside, and heat rest of the olive oil. Cook onion and salt over medium heat until onions are lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Add minced garlic and cook for a minute more.

3. Add red wine, and turn the heat up to high. Reduce the wine to half of what you added. Stir in tomato paste, broth, and mushrooms. Cook for about 20 minutes, or until mushrooms are tender. Add in pearl onions, and cook for 5 minutes more. Add remaining butter, and cook for 10 minutes more or until you get your desired consistency.

4. Add salt and pepper to taste, and serve over cooked egg noodles. Top it off with a dash of nothing and a pinch of I can't afford luxury foods! And lots of parsley.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Recipe 1.07 - Spaghetti with Cheese and Black Pepper

One day, during a particularly hard day of school, I talked to my friend about feeling overwhelmed. I told her that I felt like teaching was taking up my whole life and I didn't have time to do anything for myself. So my friend told me that I should make it a requirement to include days in my week where I could "do it all." Not only come into work and do a kickass job, but go out with friends after work, see a movie, or do something completely separate from my job. And lately that's what I've been trying to do -- prove to myself that I can "do it all."

Doing it all is tough. And completely exhausting.

That's not to say that I don't like trying to do it all. In fact, I've noticed that I'm significantly happier the days where I know I have plans afterschool or had a good time the night before. But even though I tell myself I'm doing it all, some things do fall to the wayside when you try to incorporate fun and craziness on the weekdays. Like cleaning. Or laundry. Or cooking anything that requires more than half of my attention.

This recipe is the cure for my silly attempts at having a life outside of school. Not only is it quick, but you can make a ton of it at the same time, and you don't really have to go out and buy ingredients since most (and by most I mean all three ingredients) are things you would likely have in your kitchen anyway. I usually make this when A) I've gotten home too late on a Sunday night to cook anything elaborate for the upcoming week of work, or B) I've stopped at home in between school/going out and need a quick bite before heading out again. It's also a nice recipe since once you read this blog post, you will never have to read the recipe instructions again. It is that simple.

So enjoy this post as I attempt to figure out how I will go to work everyday, see a movie, buy a bike, build a machine for my students, have dinner with friends, go to the bank, cure cancer and save kittens in trees.

Spaghetti with Cheese and Black Pepper
From the Smitten Kitchen. Since apparently I don't read any other cooking blogs.

Serves 4

1/4 cup olive oil (I did not measure)
1 pound spaghetti (use white spaghetti...I tried with whole wheat and it wasn't quite the same)
2 tablespoons butter
4 ounces grated Pecorino Romano cheese, grated (once again, I could not bother myself with measuring
Salt and pepper

1. Bring salted water to a boil, and cook spaghetti to your liking. Drain pasta, and reserve 1 1/2 cups of the pasta cooking water.

2. In a saucepan, heat over oil until almost smoking. Then, put in pasta and 1 cup of pasta water. Apparently this is supposed to splash you, but it hasn't happened to me yet.

3. Remove pot from heat, and add butter, cheese, and ground pepper. Mix ingredients together, adding more of any of them to taste. DONE!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Recipe 1.06 - Toasted Fideos with Red Sauce

So. I have this problem. See, I like making goals. One could say that I'm sort of obsessed with them. In fact, if you came to my apartment, you'd see a wall of post-its with various summer goals I have for myself. For the most part, these goals aren't anything crazy--I sort of make them to give myself something to achieve. Along with becoming a vegetarian and moving to New York, one of my goals for this year was to start a cooking blog.

Look how that turned out.

On its own, my whole 'goal setting' thing isn't a problem. However, as I told my friend Annie, who has listened to many of my crazy goals, I tend to pick up and drop goals like they're going out of style. Which means I get crazy excited about a goal for roughly two weeks, and then run away from it in favor of some other insane idea I've gotten into my head. Like this blog.

The schoolyear is about to end (thank goodness), and I want to accomplish a lot this summer. Among my goals for the summer are to see plays, do yoga, read an insane number of books, and try to meet some cute, tall boys. However, I thought, before I jump on this new goal bandwagon I started, I should at least try to follow through with some of the other ideas I've had throughout the year, in particular this blog. I still think this is a kickass idea, and I'd like to actually have my goals and ideas mean something.

So to restart my originally kickass idea, I'm going to provide you with a kickass recipe. This recipe took me approx. 0.4 seconds to make, and tastes approx. four thousand types of awesome. Somehow, no prepwork + no timetable = deliciousness that tastes amazing hot, cold, in an hour, in a week. So go ahead, try it out. And hopefully I'll keep this crazy thing going for longer than a week.

Toasted Fideos with Red Sauce
A hybrid of recipes from Smitten Kitchen and the Top Chef cookbook

Serves 4

Half a box of
fideos, a thin cheapo pasta, or cappelini pasta, broken into large pieces
1 large can whole, peeled tomatoes
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 yellow onion, peeled and cut in half (ie, the thing that makes this the best recipe EVER since I hate/suck at chopping onions)

1. Preheat oven to 375. Place broken pasta pieces evenly onto a cookie sheet, and place into the oven. Let cook for about 7 minutes, or until pasta is light brown color. Set aside.
2. Place all other ingredients into a heavy saucepan. Place on stove over medium-high heat. Bring the mixture to a boil, and then turn the heat down. Then go chill somewhere else for a while. Maybe come check up on it every now and then, crushing the tomatoes a bit. Take it off heat when it looks like spaghetti sauce (there's really no timetable for this, but it'll probably be sauce-looking around 45 minutes).
3. Bring a small saucepan of water to boil. Put toasted pasta in, and let cook for about 6 minutes, or according to directions on the box. Drain, and mix with your delicious sauce. You may want to make less pasta/more sauce per serving since this sauce is that good.