Monthly Archives: February 2011

Crepes and Valentimes

Dragons on Valentine's Day

In the words of the Teen Girl Squad from Homestar Runner, “Valentimes is serious times!” (If you are not a complete nerd or if you hate random internet videos, please disregard.) And indeed, it can be. But I think most romantic gestures are best made by creating a memory or sharing an experience, and thus taking off some of the pressure to come up with amazing gifts. J and I can’t even manage to celebrate Valentine’s on the right day, we both had a day off and decided that today was the day to exchange cards and have brunch. And, oh, what a nice brunch!

Stack of crepes

I love crepes but haven’t made them for myself before this year. I tried The Joy of Cooking recipe but it was too greasy with a half a stick of butter. Then I tried Mark Bittman, but the batter was too think and didn’t come out of the pan easily. I finally just played with it and have come up with a good recipe for me and my kitchen equipment. If you have a special crepe pan and spatual, then by all means, use your special crepe recipe. Crepes are awesome because the possibilities for filling them are endless, and they’re relatively small so you can try three or four.  We usually try lemon curd, jam, honey, powdered sugar, nutella, bananas, strawberries, cinnamon, and peanut butter before it’s all done!

Peanut butter on crepes

To make my crepes, melt 2 tbls butter and cool to room temp, beat three eggs in a separate bowl, mix 1 cup of flour, pinch of salt, and 1 tbls sugar in a mixing bowl. Combine eggs, butter, and 1.5 cups whole milk with the dry ingredients and blend with a hand mixer until smooth. If time allows, let sit in the fridge for a few hours. Heat an 8 inch non-stick skillet on medium heat and pour an 1/8 a cup of stirred-up batter into the pan. Lift the pan off the stove and swirl batter until it cover the bottom and stops swirling easily. Put pan back on burner and turn crepe when top is dry. You will need to loosen the edges with a spatula before turning. You will mess up your first one or two crepes, but you will get the hang of it.

Peanut butter, bananas, cinammon, and powdered sugar

Bittman's diagram on filling and folding crepes

I like to have crepes with mimosas and maybe bacon or sausage (might as well get all your fat consumption into one meal, right?) lemon curd is heavenly if you like something tart, and bananas with nutella are divine. Make this for your favorite person– lover, friend, roommate– soon, and Happy Valentine’s day.

Mimosas do not require expensive champagne, people

 

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Bittman: Winter Squash Curry

Healthy and colorful!I loved this dinner. This is perfect for a cold winter’s night when you are feeling starved for flavor and color. As I said yesterday, this week’s menu was entirely inspired by Mark Bittman’s amazingly ginormous cookbook, How to Cook Everything. Tonight’s meal comes from Bittman’s extensive vegetable preparation chapter. I have extolled the benefits and awesomeness of squash on this blog before, but I’m always looking for a new way to use it.

Onion, Ginger, Bell Pepper

Winter squash curry is a cheat, I’m sure. Unlike real curries where you grind your own spices and put a lot of effort into hours of cooking, here, you just add curry powder and coconut milk to some veggies and simmer for 20 minutes. Of course, the effort comes in when you sweat bullets attempting to butcher a four pound butternut squash. Things can get, ahem, dicey. Really, if you cohabitate with someone who is confident with a butcher’s knife, let them do this for you. Nothing is more nerve wracking than getting a 8 inch blade stuck in something resembling a football. You have no traction to get the knife out. Say goodbye to your fingers.

Curry before extra veggies

But besides that, this is a super easy dinner! Heat up a deep non-stick pan with about 2 tbs of “neutral” oil, like grapeseed oil. Saute a diced onion in the oil until soft. Add in a tablespoon of freshly chopped ginger and a tablespoon of curry powder. Once everything is an even curry-yellow, pour a can of coconut milk and about 1.5 lbs of cubed butternut squash into the pan. (We added about a teaspoon of chili paste here– it was good!) Salt and pepper the mixture.Get the sauce simmering, then cover and turn the heat low. After 10 minutes, stir in red bell pepper and snap peas (pineapple would be excellent here, too). Cover and simmer for 10 more minutes. Serve over rice with some cilantro. Bittman also suggests adding maybe a tablespoon (not too much!) of peanut butter with the coconut milk and squash– it gives some depth to the curry.

Bell pepper makes everything better

I’m going to add this to my squash preparation repertoire, it was a great weeknight meal and one I won’t get bored with soon– you can always add something new to curry. What are you eating to make those wintry nights better?

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Bittman: Spicy Braised Beef with Lime

Beef with cilantro

This week I am making recipes out of Mark Bittman’s encyclopedic masterpiece How to Cook  Everything. I flipped through the book over the weekend, went shopping without a list this afternoon, and then referred back to Bittman for those recipes that inspired me in the first place.

I chose this meal as one of the options from “Beef Stew, Eight Ways.”  It’s fairly basic: brown up to 2 lbs of cubed beef in 2 tbs peanut oil, remove beef from pan, pour 1.5 cups chicken or beef stock into pan and scrape browned bits from the bottom. When broth comes to a boil add in 1-2 hot chilis, 1 tbs of diced garlic, and at least one lime’s worth of zest and put the meat back in. Simmer covered and undisturbed for 30-45 minutes until beef is tender. Serve over brown rice with tons of lime juice and some cilantro.

Spices for braising: chilis, lime rind, and garlic

This is a good, simple meal with a lot of flavor and heat. I wish the sauce had more depth but even the addition of ginger and lemongrass didn’t add much. I used chicken broth this time and will probably use beef broth next. In any case, Bittman’s recipes are almost always reliable and tasty and this is no exception. Enjoy!

Beef with Rice

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