Archive for June, 2009


Chewy, delicious and so easy to make at home.

Chewy, delicious and so easy to make at home.

This post is gonna be straight and to the point. I whipped up some Naan a few months ago – ate most of them right away (some of it as I was making it – it was so good) and froze the rest. I had a recipe set aside for a dish I wanted to make with the Naan, but it so far has not happened. So instead, we’ll just have this fabulously chewy Indian bread on it’s own.

Do you have any idea how ridiculously easy it is to make Naan? Well, you would if you’ve made it before. Make your dough, let it rise, separate it into mini loaves for the second rise, stretch out the dough and fry it up. Easy! The hardest part is realizing you have, oh, I don’t know, 13 more loaves to fry up before you are done.

But it is totally worth it.

Oh, you don’t have a tandoor? Yeah, me neither. I used a cast iron skillet and it worked out just great.

Here’s the recipe. Whatever you do, don’t get the bright idea to add garlic powder (yeah, don’t ask). That was a bad, bad idea on my part.


Ms. Pantry Raid

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A long rest, sprinkle of sea salt and thin discs of chocolate make the difference in these cookies!

A long rest, sprinkle of sea salt and thin discs of chocolate make the difference in these cookies!

So I had heard rumblings about the amazing cookies at Jacques Torres. Then a co-worker came back from a trip to Brooklyn and said she had this fabulous cookie at, you guessed it, Jacques Torres. So I just had to bump the recipe to the top of the “to make” list.

I had read that the secret to these cookies was a long rest in the fridge. 36 hours to be exact. Supposedly this rest dries out the cookie dough and makes for a toffee taste in the cookie. But yikes. THIRTY SIX HOURS?! Who can wait that long?

Torres also uses thin discs of chocolate (couverture – used in truffle making to be exact) instead of chips or chunks. This makes for layers of chocolate in the cookie. After a visit to a local chocolate factory to pick up the obligatory chocolate discs, I was on my way. However, I’m quit sure using regular old chocolate chips would work out well too.

Oh yeah – did I mention the sprinkle of salt each cookie gets before baking? How smart is that??!

Ok, admitted – the recipe is a little picky in that it calls for a mix of flours. It’s kinda funny cause he mixes cake flour (low protein) with bread flour (high protein). One would wonder – can’t we just use all purpose since it’s in the middle and call it a day? Well, I found a Q&A that says sure, although to be honest, I’m not really sure if he is saying just use all-purpose for the bread or use all-purpose for the whole dang thing. So I did a sub for the cake flour (basically subbing 2 T of cornstarch for 2 T of flour in each cup of flour) and used all-purpose in place of the bread flour since I was not in the mood to go back to the store.

The verdict?

Damn good. And the sprinkling of salt on top is pure genious. The cookie bakes up crisp at the edges and chewy in the middle. I cut the baking time to 16 minutes (cause I want more chewy, less crunchy) and that worked out fine. I’m totally converted and will now make no other cookie. Oh and those chocolate discs? Yeah…I’m converted to those too. Gonna have to hit up that chocolate factory again…

Oh – AND eating the dough straight up out of the freezer (cause that’s the way we eat cookies at my house)? Wow. Yep. These are my new go-to cookie for sure.

The recipe – since someone else was nice enough to type it up. Make it. Now. Especially since you have to wait 36 hours to enjoy the fruits of your labor!

Ms. Pantry Raid

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I served my Maduros with short ribs roja and a sprinkle of cotija cheese. Drool...

I served my Maduros with short ribs roja and a sprinkle of cotija cheese. Drool...

Quick – name a food you could eat every day for the rest of your life.

Ok, I’ll go first since I’m here, and since I’m pretty sure you’ve already guessed my answer (ahem…plantains).

This past spring we took a trip to Costa Rica and our hotel served fried plantains every.damn.day. Yes, it was a buffet, but that’s even better! I could load my plate up and still go back for more.

Fried plantains = heaven

I mean really, what other dish can you describe as an appetizer, condiment, garnish, side dish AND dessert?

So what do you need to know? Ok, there are different outcomes for your fried plantains based on the ripeness of the fruit. You know how a banana starts to get dark and you immediately toss it in the freezer to save for banana bread? Yeah, you want the plantains to go FURTHER. All black if you can wait that long (tossing in a paper bag for a day or two supposedly speeds up the process, but that STILL is asking for a lot of patience IMO). Slice ’em up, fry them in oil and finish with a sprinkle of salt. Called Maduros, these are the kind of fried plantains I like.

For fried sweet plantains (Maduros), your plantains should look kinda like this

For fried sweet plantains (Maduros), your plantains should look kinda like this

You can also fry green plantains. Often called Tostones, they aren’t the sweet kind. Basically, you slice up your green or barely ripe plantain, fry it, flatten it and then fry it again. It’s crispy and used more for savory purposes – often accompanied by a garlic sauce. These, admitted, aren’t usually what I have in mind when I think fried plantains. But I’m sure in the right place at the right time…

I’m pretty sure this doesn’t warrant a recipe, does it? You’ll probably want to pick a neutral oil with a high smoke point for the frying part. I used a cast iron skillet. Tossed in an inch or so of oil. Waited for it to get good and hot. Threw in the plantains (no overcrowding please!) and fried them for maybe 3 minutes or so on each side.  Remove with slotted spoon and let drain on paper towels. Sprinkle with salt and enjoy them HOT!


Ms. Pantry Raid

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Shrimp and Pork Steamed Beggars Purses

Shrimp and Pork Steamed Beggars Purses

I enjoy blogging challenges. They often get me out of my comfort zone and trying something new. Case in point: Asian dumplings and potstickers for the latest Daring Cooks Challenge. This is my first time making potstickers. To be quite honest, it’s one of the first times I’ve ever eaten them too. For whatever reason, they aren’t the first app I think of when dining in Asian restaurants.

The challenge involved making the dumpling wrappers as well as the filling. I made two different kinds – standard potstickers (fried) and steamed beggars purses wrapped with a blanched Chinese chive. In retrospect, I will say I’m glad I did it once, but probably not doing it again. Can’t help it. It’s a lot of work for the outcome. I’ve also had quite enough experience in my past making wontons, raviolis, etc etc and I’m not the sort that finds it therapeutic. Granted, today was the last day I should have attempted doing this. After gardening with my condo peeps for five and a half hours, the last thing I wanted to do was make these dumplings. And of course, I had to make Szechuan Green Beans as well. But more on that later.

Shrimp and Pork Potstickers

Shrimp and Pork Potstickers

Anyway, my dumplings turned out alright. A little gummy – but I think I made the dough too wet? And again, maybe they aren’t my thing? Perhaps there is a reason I never order them when I’m out??

The dough recipe came from sponsor of this challenge, Jen at Use Real Butter. Really, go to her site cause she’s got so much fantastic information regarding dumpling/potsticker making that I won’t even bother to repeat it.

The filling came out of a fabulous book my husband picked up for me awhile back – The Cooks Book by Jill Norman. I love this book – it’s all about technique and is filled with great recipes by top chefs. This is where the idea of the beggars purses came from. The recipe also recommended serving with a ginger vinaigrette, but I preferred using the sauce from the Szechuan Green Beans instead. I would recommend any soy based dipping sauce.

Alright, since I already gave you the link regarind how to make your own dumpling wrappers, I’m just going to share the filling recipe here.

Shrimp and Pork Dumpling Filling

From The Cooks Book by Jill Norman
8 oz peeled, deveined shrimp
5 oz ground pork
1 T veg oil
2 garlic cloves crushed
1 t chopped ginger
1 Thai green chile minced
8 Shitake mushrooms thinly sliced
1 T soy sauce
1 T fish sauce
2 t Oyster sauce
1/2 t ground white pepper
3 scalllions
1/2 bunch cilantro minced (I left this out).

1. Finely chop the shrimp.

2. In a saute pan over medium heat, add the oil and saute the garlic, ginger and chile briefly. Add the mushrooms and saute till softened. Remove from the heat and add the sauces, season with pepper. Let cool.

3. When cool, add shrimp and ground pork.

4. Fill dumpling wrappers according to whatever directions you are following.


Ms. Pantry Raid

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Use half the lemon in your salad, half in your vinaigrette. No waste!

Use half the lemon in your salad, half in your vinaigrette. No waste!

So it’s almost the end of Meyer Lemon season sniff sniff. Since this year seems to be the year of the Meyer Lemon for me, I thought I’d say goodbye with just a few more dishes using the fruit – if I can sneak them in before it’s too late (is it too late? Admitted – I made this a week or two ago). Today we are showcasing a fresh salad perfect for celebrating the best produce of spring.

Did you know you can eat the rind of Meyer Lemons? Well, now you do. They make for a pretty presentation in your salads. One I made recently consisted of paper thin slices of meyer lemon, asparagus spears, leaf lettuce and a lemon walnut vinaigrette. The whole thing just screams SPRING!

Lemon Walnut Vinaigrette

Juice of half a lemon (about 1 T) – this works out great cause you can slice up the other half for your salad
3 T Walnut oil
1 t dijon mustard
salt and pepper to taste
1. Whisk lemon juice, 1 T of the oil and mustard till an emulsion forms.
2. Slowly whisk in the remaining 2 T of oil.
3. Salt and pepper to taste


Ms. Pantry Raid

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   Spaetzle =/= pasta

Spaetzle = Homemade German noodles

Right, so I know it’s Thursday and technically, Hobo Mondays are supposed to take place on, um, Monday, but I’m sick so give me a break. Plus we’ve been out of town for the past two weekends in a row and I’ve had other things to do. Bitch and moan, bitch and moan.

Ok really, I feel like such complete ass that I wasn’t sure I was gonna partake in this month’s Hobo showdown, but at around 4:30 I got semi ambitious and rose from my position on the couch to make dinner. Mostly cause I knew I had a really, really cheap recipe up my sleeve and I couldn’t resist the challenge.

This month the goal was to make dinner for two people for $3. “Too hard! It cannot be done!” you say. Well, I’m here to say it certainly can. Especially if you have a pantry stocked with staples. So take that!

Today I made spaetzle outta my pantry. Well, the intention was to make it out of my pantry cause the ingredients list said “milk and flour” and I said, check and check! But when I whipped it together…

Things I hate? Shitty recipes that obviously have not been tested

I started with a spaetzle recipe out of Simple to Spectacular: How to Take One Basic Recipe to Four Levels of Sophistication by Jean-Georges Vongerichtan and Mark Bittman. Ingredient list said 2 cups flour, 1/2 cup milk. THEN when I got to the directions, somehow the recipe had changed to only 1/4 cup milk. Lets just think about it for a sec. Mix 2 cups flour with 1/4 cup milk. What do YOU think would happen?? Hmmmm…

Right, so then I added 1/2 cup like the recipe said in the ingredients section. Still not enough you say? Yeah, you’d be quite right. So off to Google and it appears that MOST PEOPLE make spaetzle with egg in it. Thank God I just happened to have 4 eggs in the fridge. Nevermind that the expiration date was in April and it’s…June. Yes, I did the egg float test and all four passed, albeit just barely. Alright, so first crisis averted (yes, there were more).

Next up – the making the spaetzle part.

I looked at my colander – the holes seemed too small. But the holes on the steamer insert of my pasta pot seemed just right. I threw the steamer over the pasta pot, tossed in the batter and forced it through with a spoon. This, of course, was not going fast enough for my liking so I threw the spoon aside and used my hand. I can certainly understand why older German ladies have a lot of upper body strength – this was a royal PITA. But I persevered and continued to push the batter through the holes. I gave up when there was a thin layer of batter left in the steamer – my hand started to get hot.

At that time, I figured the spaetzle had cooked enough – it had taken a few minutes to get all the batter through the holes. So I dumped the spaetzle into the colander in the sink. But the water wouldn’t drain out of my colander. Some sort of accident ensued (I don’t want to talk about it) and half my spaetzle went down the drain. In a mad panic to save it, I tried scooping it with my bare hands back into the colander.

Ever tried picking up hot pasta right out of the pot with your bare hands? Yeah, it’s not a bright idea.

So now I have burns on my fingers and the majority of my dinner is in the disposal. Did I mention that I’m sick and I have no patience??

Oh yeah, and ever tried to wash things in hot water when you’ve got a burn on your hand? That would be crisis number three of the evening.

Arghhh…anyway, so then I made the sauce part. And of course cause my patience was waning, I didn’t quite make it the way I had originally intended (it was supposed to be a sage BROWN butter, but I didn’t want to wait. In retrospect…).

Without further ado, and cause I’m tired and need to go back to being fully horizontal, the breakdown:

Flour – pantry (thus free)

Milk – $0.16 for half a cup

Eggs – $1.04 (I really have no idea since they were bought so long ago – but I used 4 out of a pack of organic, cage free, happy chicken eggs. Cost will be MUCH LESS if you use the regular factory farm eggs. But that’s on YOUR CONSCIENCE my friend).

Corn – $1.10 for a small can

Sage – I’m growing it so it’s free

Onion – $0.20 for half a cup diced

Butter – I could say this is a pantry item too, but I’m being nice and I’ll include it. I used about 2.5 oz (I’m working on a block of Plugra right now – so hard to tell tablespoons and whatnot). $0.50

Total = $3.00. And would have been less than $2 if the stupid spaetzle recipe hadn’t required eggs!

Spaetzle with corn and sage

Ingredients (spaetzle part):
2 cups flour
1/2 cup milk
4 eggs
1 t kosher salt
pinch freshly ground nutmeg

1. In a bowl, mix together the flour, milk, eggs, salt and nutmeg. Set aside.

2. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil.

3. Place your colander, spaetzle maker, steamer insert (basically – whatever you’ve got that has pretty decent sized holes – you need that batter to go THROUGH the holes here – so use your best judgement) over the pot of boiling water. Pour the batter in your colander and force through the holes. Use a spoon, spatula, your hands, whatever it takes but just get that stuff through the holes.

4. Let spaetzle boil for a few minutes (it probably already has by the time you get it through the colander).

5. Drain and rinse with cold water until spaetzle is cool to the touch. Set aside.

Ingredients – Brown Butter with Corn and Sage  part:
1 T canola or veg oil
1/2 cup minced onion
small can of corn (11 oz)
3/4 stick of butter (let your conscience dictate here – but it’s gotta be enough for a sauce)
8 sage leaves
salt and pepper to taste


1. Heat 1 T of oil over medium – medium-high heat in a saute pan.

2. Add onions and saute till soft – about 5 minutes

3. Add butter. Continue to cook till it turns light golden brown.

4. Add sage and corn and heat till warmed.

5. Remove from the heat if the butter starts to get too brown and add the spaetzle (otherwise, leave on the heat and add spaetzle). Stir to coat and cook till spaetzle is warm.

6. Remove from the heat if you haven’t already. Salt and pepper to taste and serve.


Ms. Pantry Raid

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