Thursday, March 25, 2010

The Quotations Quiz

This has nothing to do with food, but as that I write this blog like I have more than three readers, I figure I'd post a little game.  I just put this up on one of the bulletin boards in the library.

By the way, this is really bringing me back to sophomore year in high school when my English teacher adamantly insisted that we never use the word quote for quotation.  Honestly, I'm not really sure why.  I also learned the word verbatim in that class; I try to work that one into conversation as often as possible.

OK, match the quotation to the person who said it.

"If there's one pitch you keep swinging at and keep missing, stop swinging at it."
"It's not denial. I'm just selective about the reality I accept."
"Dream as if you'll live forever. Live as if you'll die today."
"I haven't failed. I've found 10,000 ways that won't work."
"I can accept failure. Everyone fails at something. But I can't accept not trying."
"In the End, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends."
"It's not whether you get knocked down. It's whether you get up again."
"Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: 'What! You, too? Thought I was the only one.'"
"Lots of people want to ride with you in the limo, but what you want is someone who will take the bus with you when the limo breaks down."
"Often you just have to rely on your intuition."
"Never purchase beauty products in a hardware store."
"I do think in Washington, it's a little bit like American Idol. But everybody is Simon Cowell."
"There are many little ways to enlarge your child's world. Love of books is the best of all."
"Twelve was a real turning point for me as I moved to a mixed school, and then I became cool and discovered hair gel."
"You get ideas from daydreaming. You get ideas from being bored. You get ideas all the time. The only difference between writers and other people is we notice when we're doing it."
"It takes a great deal of courage to stand up to your enemies, but even more to stand up to your friends."
"I'm the only person I know that's lost a quarter of a billion dollars in one year.... It's very character-building."

Albus Dumbledore
Benjamin Franklin
Bill Gates
Calvin & Hobbs
CS Lewis
Jackie Kennedy
James Dean
Martin Luther King Jr.
Michael Jordan
Miss Piggy
Neil Gaiman
Oprah Winfrey
President Obama
Robert Pattinson
Steve Jobs
Vince Lombardi
Yogi Berra

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The Chocolate Caramel Brownies - Finally

Although last week's chocolate caramel brownies turned into a bit of a gooey mess, they were thoroughly enjoyed by my bbq guests last weekend when smushed into a bowl and covered by ice cream.

I tried them again last night, this time cooking the brownies completely and then, right when they came out of the oven, shoving the rolos into them. That way the rolos melted enough, but didn't take over the consistency.  And they look and taste GOOD.  I barely made it down to the main office (which is literally downstairs) just now with any left on the plate, they were snagged by hungry, angry-over-MCAS teachers on the way.

Below are pictures of the process, the mess and the success.

Ingredients ready to go (I'm not sure why I decided the oil needed to be shown...)

Brownie batter in mini cups ready to be baked

After being removed from the oven  the first time and having the rolos stuck in.

What it looked like after I gave up on getting them out in cup form and shoved them into a pan
Then scooped into a bowl with ice cream and a rolo
Finally, the remake.  This time the brownies were completely cooked first and then the rolos were put in.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

The Chocolate Caramel Disaster

I would like to start off this post by saying that patience is a virtue, and I hate Lost.

Lost first.

I don't understand why the Lost writers don't get that this entire season is supposed to be about explaining everything that happened in the seasons before.  Instead, they are not doing that.  The only thing I have learned is that the smoke monster is the SUCKIEST explanation of what the smoke monster could possibly be.  I skipped an entire episode last week because I saw on Hulu that it was about Benjamin Linus.  Just skipped it, didn't look back.  And now, NOW I am willing to blame the entire fiasco that was chocolate caramel creation night because I attempted to make my creation while watching Sawyer be annoying and Claire be creepy.  And lots of random new people who SHOULDN'T BE INTRODUCED IN THE LAST SEASON.  Honestly, I think the only thing good about this show is that it taught me that penultimate means last but one.  I'm getting more of a vocabulary lesson than entertainment.  Stupid TV.

Back to the point...

Patience is a virtue, and unfortunately, it is a virtue that I don't so much have.

I began my chocolate caramel creation night well.  I found a recipe for mini brownies on the internet, I got the oven to turn on and stay on (my oven is almost as bad as Lost).  I ignored the fact that it is now so hot in my apartment that the Rolos were melting in their packaging.  I mixed up the brownies, put them in the oven, baked them for about 10 minutes, pulled them out and popped a slightly melty Rolo into each one.  Then all hell broke loose.

First, the oven turned itself off.  This is not an uncommon occurrence with my oven, but it is one that I recommend avoiding.  I got the oven back on and decided the brownie bites needed to cook some more, they went into the oven, came out, went in, it was a dance.  Then I took them out and UNABLE TO WAIT FOR THE TO COOL, I decided to remove them from the pan.  That didn't work.  So, I left them alone for a few minutes while doing the dished (while leaving Lost running because honestly, who cares?), and then tried again.  At this point, I realized that unless I really was willing to give the whole thing up and make a messy trifle, I should leave it alone.  So I took a shower.  Stupid patience.

Patience is overrated.  They were messy, so I smushed them all into a square pan.  We'll see how they look in the morning.  I'll post pictures then either way...

Monday, March 15, 2010

The St. Patrick's Day Feast

Here's the thing: I'm not Irish.  Not even a little bit.  Never been there, boat didn't dock there on the way over from Russia way back when, all the red hair in my family is bottle-born.

But here's the other thing:  I love corned beef and cabbage.  Like, I LOVE it.  I can honestly not get enough of boiled cabbage.  And really, who LOVES boiled cabbage?  And it's not just the cabbage, either.  It's the Irish soda bread and salty boiled potatoes and carrots and mashed turnips.  Yes, that's right, I, of no Irish heritage in the least, just admitted to having a deep and honest love for mashed turnips.  Go figure...

Anyway, I used to date this guy who had a thing for corned beef and cabbage (he was Irish, and red-headed, it make sense for him), and he would make it once or twice a year and therefore, he was the master of the corned beef and cabbage recipe.

This year we weren't so much speaking 'round corned beef and cabbage time, so I had to wing it.  In other words, I made TWO corned beefs this year!

The one yesterday- which was the authentic New England style, flat-cut, gray corned beef- turned into shoe leather about 90 minutes in.  I have no idea why or how it happened, but it now sits in my fridge wrapped in cling wrap waiting the allotted two or three months to go by before I will inevitably throw it away.  I did cook the baby potatoes, carrots and cutest little head of cabbage with it though.  Today, I cooked a 2.5 lb red corned beef (along with another head of cabbage because of the aforementioned unnatural love of boiled green things), and it was AMAZING.  I hate to say it to the hardcore Irish out there, but I am red corned beef all the way now.  I guess there is more Eastern-European Jew in me than I thought.

Adding to the confusion that is my non-Irish heritage-loving-Irish-food St. Patrick's Day is that it has now become a little tradition for my parents to come over for my boiled dinner delicacy.  My mother brings the Irish Soda Bread (from the kosher bakery, of course) and we chow down on the goodness.  Pictures below...
Boiled cabbage
Mashed turnips
Delicious red corned beef
Potatoes and Carrots on the table.

Upcoming: National Chocolate Caramel Day!

Friday, March 19th, is National Chocolate Caramel Day.  I know St. Patty's Day is Wednesday (hence the corned beef boiling on my stove), but a whole day devoted to the marriage of chocolate and caramel? -that I can get behind.

I am thinking of making brownies in muffin tins and then shoving a rolo into the center of each one right before it's done baking.  Turtle brownies were also recommended, but I'm not crazy about pecans.  I did throw back the idea of brownies with rolos in the middle and turtles on top, but it might be a bit decadent (did I really just say that?).

Check back Friday to check out what I end up baking.

Until then, chocolate-caramel pairing favorites, ready, go!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The Ricotta Extravaganza

It seems to be Ricotta Day on Sarah's Kitchen today.

When I was in high school, I took a cooking class in which we made these ricotta cookies.  They were amazing.  It might have been because, not having come from an Italian family, I have never had ricotta cookies before, but whatever the reason, they were good enough that I asked the cooking teacher for a copy of the recipe and I think my mother still has it in her recipe binder.

Of course, my mother having this magical recipe in her recipe binder doesn't help me right now, so I am going to have to make it up as I go along (or "borrow" ideas from people online.  Librarians are good at "borrowing").

When searching for ricotta cookie recipes, I kept getting hits for ricotta gnocchi.  Gnocchi is maybe one of my most favorite things in the world, but I am pretty sure I usually only have potato gnocchi.  I typically only get this dish in restaurants, so don't really know what it is that I'm eating (I am a very trusting restaurant patron).

As an aside, Il Villaggio in Boston's North End is an awesome place to go for gnocchi.  Their gnocchi with creamy tomato basil sauce is incredible.  Actually, the whole place is incredible.  It's a tiny little hole in the wall on Hanover Street with totally reasonably prices.  I showed up at 7pm on a Saturday night there once with seven people and they sat us in 15 minutes.  The bread is crusty, staff friendly.  Hmm, maybe I'll ditch the whole cooking idea and just go there for dinner tonight.

I could write a book about tangents.

Anyway, I have decided to make ricotta gnocchi in addition to ricotta cookies.  It's ambitious, I know, but this weather puts me in a cooking mood.  (And by the way, why warm, spring-like weather puts me in the mood to close myself in my kitchen and cook, I have no idea.)

An Afterthought: I made all the food and it came out outstandingly.  The cookies yielded dozens and dozens and are currently being enjoyed by the poor, starving teachers at work.  The gnocchi was super good and super easy, once I remembered how to roll it.  I took some pictures, but I don't think they came out too well.  I'll check later and post them if they're any good.  Until then, the recipes follow...

Ricotta Gnocchi Recipe  
Borrowed from Nibbledish

    * 1 lb whole milk ricotta
    * 1/2 cup fresh Parmigiano-Reggiano
    * 1 to 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
    * 2 teaspoons salt
    * 1 large egg, beaten slightly in small bowl

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl, except 1/2 cup of the flour. Mix together with hands until it forms a ball. Put dough on a wooden board and sprinkle with the remaining flour, and knead until no longer sticky.

Break out into small balls, about a handful. Roll into strips, and cut into 1-inch pieces, then roll with thumb on gnocchi board (optional).

Sprinkle with flour and spread onto a platter until ready to boil.

Cook in boiling water until floating. Doesn't take long at all.

Ricotta Cookie Recipe

Borrowed from AOL Food

    * 1 cup butter softened
    * 2 cups sugar
    * 1 15-ounce container ricotta cheese
    * 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
    * 2 large eggs
    * 4 cups all-purpose flour
    * 2 tablespoons baking powder
    * 1 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and lightly grease large cookie sheets.

In a large bowl cream butter and sugar with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add ricotta vanilla and eggs and beat until combined. Add flour baking powder and salt and beat until dough forms.

Using two tablespoons drop dough onto cookie sheets about 2 inches apart. Bake for 15 minutes or until cookies begin to turn golden. Remove cookies to wire rack to cool.

Monday, March 8, 2010

The Spring Salad

It's been over 50 degrees for three days in Massachusetts in March, which is an uncommon and joyful occurrence.  I am celebrating by making a spring-inspired bean salad.

I found a recipe I liked last year and am basing this salad off of that one.  I should really say I found a recipe I liked the idea of, because what I made and what they made were never actually all that similar.  The blogger used spring colors to inspire her salad though and I like that idea, so I did (and am again doing) the same thing.  I chose edamame (green), black beans (black), corn (yellow), red pepper (red), red onion (purplish), and chickpeas (white).  I'm going to toss it all with a honey lime dressing I found on Tastespotting (shocking, I know).  I haven't made the dressing recipe before and imagine it will end up with significantly more chili powder and cumin than called for.

I also thought I'd throw some salmon on top for extra protein (and color).  I typically pan sear my salmon, I like it with a bit of a crispy edge. Luckily this is a salad that can be eaten cold as leftovers because I am not a fan of reheating fish in the microwave at work.  At least, I'm not a fan of when other people do it, so I try to stay away from being "that guy."

Let's take a moment and check out these super cute bowls my friend Anne got me from Sur la Table.  They go perfectly with the multi-shade green kitchen thing I've got going on.
 I didn't have any cilantro, so I decided I need something else, so I mixed up half an avacado with some Greek yogurt.  It was AMAZING.