Monday, May 30, 2011

rocky road pudding cake

A year or two ago, I never would have made this cake.  Since I was a kid, I've disliked rich chocolate desserts.  You could catch me eating junky milk chocolate bars or Reese's peanut butter cups, but I would turn my nose up at chocolate cake and eat around the chocolate chips in cookies. These days I generally stay away from junky candy (I had an epiphany when a friend of mine saw a squashed Reese's peanut butter cup on the street and thought of me - this was a shockingly recent development) though I certainly don't let Easter go by without a Cadbury Creme Egg or two, or five. 

However, my disgust for rich chocolate cakes and other desserts is still going strong, particularly for cakes made with actual chocolate and not cocoa. This cake pushed my boundaries. I did like it, kind of, but in very small quantities given its richness and sweetness. It is sweeter and more chocolatey that I care for... but hey, I'm kind of a freak like that.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

roasted broccoli

Alright. I know I promised all six of you who follow me on twitter that I would be presenting you with something a lot more exciting than roasted broccoli this morning. Well... it's more that I gave you a sneak peak of what's coming up in the next couple of days, even though I ate it for breakfast a couple of hours ago. I invite you to follow me on twitter, but when you discover what I ate for breakfast, please don't judge me.

In my defense, right after I took my breakfast out of the oven, I put in the broccoli. Does one cancel out the other? I'm going to let you in on a secret: I liked the roasted broccoli more. This is the second time I have made it, and it took a Herculean effort not to devour the whole plate in a mad, gluttonous frenzy. It's perfect. Charred and crispy, salty and a bit spicy... it's realistic to expect that when I am at home alone for dinner, I will be preparing a batch of this and eating it, in its entirety, by myself.

Friday, May 27, 2011

mom's carrot cake

Man. This week has been full of cooking failures. Some days I made things that sucked, and some days I failed to make anything at all. One day, I made something good - but I took a bad picture of it (in fact, several bad pictures!). I tend to do a lot of cooking on the weekend so that during the week, if necessary, I can subsist on Fairmount bagel veggie sandwiches like an urban boho hipster. I do love cooking, I just love it more on the weekend when I am not exhausted after a long day of work. 

Somehow, I tend to have more energy for baking cakes and other delectable items than I do for preparing a proper meal for myself. Case in point: earlier this week, a carrot cake happened in my kitchen. Don't ask me how it happened. Don't ask me how much icing I ate either, because I'll never tell you!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

chicken nachos with cilantro corn salsa and guacamole

Alright, I know you can't really write a recipe for nachos.  That's not my intention here. Nobody measures anything when they make nachos, they grate and dump with abandon (and as they should). There's nothing even particularly special about these nachos, except for the fact that they are damn tasty. And anyone who has ever been to a bar or a pub knows that nachos being tasty is not a given.

I just wanted to share these nachos with you because someone shared them with me, sort of. I remember the evening well. Leigh Anne and I were obsessed with LOST, and sometimes I went over to her apartment to watch the weekly episodes which, at that time, were still nail-bitingly and mind-bendingly good. These nachos happened on one of the most intense LOST evenings to date, culminating in Kate and Sawyer finally (finally!) getting it on in the polar bear cage. I don't remember exactly what she put on them (nachos are pretty flexible - one of their excellent qualities), but I do remember that there was chicken involved and from that point on, chicken nachos became a staple at my social gatherings. Especially the LOST parties. <-- dork

Thursday, May 19, 2011

reduced-fat blueberry banana bread

I am ageist when it comes to bananas. I have a deep rooted prejudice against the smelly, overripe portion of the banana population. I like them when they are a little under-ripe and have a greenish hue. At that point in their life cycle, they make a perfect snack or cereal topping. Then they start turning a deeper, warmer shade of yellow. Still edible, but beginning to take on a slightly more mature flavour - I can handle it, but it's noticeable and I am not pleased.  All bets are off when the first brown age spots arrive. That's it. Spotted bananas have one possible destiny, my freezer (a veritable banana graveyard), and ultimately, my banana bread.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

almond strawberry crisp

I have never quite understood the difference between a cobbler, a crumble and a crisp. A quick google search tells me that I am not alone. My humble understanding has always been that the difference is in the topping. A cobbler is fruit baked with layer of biscuits on top; a crumble is a combination of butter, brown sugar and flour crumbled over fruit and baked; and a crisp, as seen above (and, in my opinion, the hands down winner of all three) is similar to a crumble, but with the addition of oats to give the topping more texture. I have no real history or facts to base this on, and it is most certainly wrong. It's just that my mom always made "crisp" and it always had oats in it. Does anybody have the definitive answer, or is it just one of those things that nobody really knows the answer to, like the chicken and the egg?

Saturday, May 14, 2011

sizzling beef with cilantro and hoisin sauce

Last night, I had a dream that I borrowed Lady Gaga's bathroom scale and broke it. So tonight, it felt like the right thing to do to make a somewhat more health conscious meal. I have to say, blogging about food isn't spectacular for a girl's figure, you know? Especially one who spent the entire day napping, baking, reading in the bath and watching Being Erica and Six Feet Under (what a perfect rainy Saturday!). In any case, even though tonight's fare wasn't exactly vegetable heavy (and was perhaps a bit high in sodium), at least it did not contain any butter or cream, which I have been consuming way too much of lately.

Friday, May 13, 2011

classic fettucine alfredo

Fettucine alfredo, because of its simplicity, is often seen as a vehicle for chicken, seafood and veggies. Our high maintenance palates can't handle the idea of eating something so uncomplicated and, well, boring. One glance at the reviews for the recipe on Epicurious confirms this. Hot pepper flakes?! Whyyyyyy....

I want you to take a moment to rethink fettucine alfredo. It doesn't mean that there isn't a place for chicken or broccoli on your alfredo ever again, it's just that something so incredibly magical happens when you use real, high quality ingredients and you keep it simple. Pasta, butter, cream, parmesan and nutmeg. That is all. Try it.

Monday, May 9, 2011

mini spanikopitas

Something sad happened last year in Vancouver. We lost the best spinach pies in the universe. There was a Greek bakery on Broadway that sold homemade spinach pies that were to die for. Flaky and delicious, these spinach pies completed many a hasty weeknight dinner at our house... for as long as I can remember. I never thought that a normal human being without years of experience and many generations of traditional spanikopita makers behind them could actually produce something tasty and authentic. It turns out I was wrong. Enter Joanna, spinach pie maker extraordinaire, owner of SkribblyKids and girlfriend of Adam's friend Marc.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

marmalade bran muffins

Do you remember the first cookbook you ever bought? I do. It was Company's Coming: Muffins & More by Jean Paré. I bought it at the grocery store. Realistically speaking, I think it was actually my mom who bought it for me, given that I was still in high school and bad at saving my allowance. Safeway must have had some kind of deal with the Company's Coming series, because there was always a rack with about a dozen of their cheesy titles. Perhaps that rack is still there.

From the frighteningly dated picture of the author on the back (sorry, Jean - there are awful photos of me out there, too) to the "witticisms" scattered throughout the book (such as, "don't let your dog eat garlic or his bark really will be worse than his bite"), this cookbook is a laugh and a half. That being said, it has some great muffin and loaf recipes, just keep your eyes peeled for ingredients like glazed mixed fruit that nobody has liked since 1985.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

spicy sweet chili chicken wings with mango

Well, it's late. I'm exhausted and I'm full of chicken wings. I need to sleep immediately. However, I won't let that stop me from sharing a recipe with you. The inspiration for these chicken wings came from two sources - extreme hunger, and fact that Adam said the words "chicken wings" to me over the phone. He wasn't even talking about good chicken wings. They were nasty ones that he ate with his coworkers at a bar after work. Nevertheless, it put ideas in my head. When I am hungry, I am extremely suggestible, and I am always in the mood for chicken in a sweet and spicy chili sauce! With mango!