25 February 2007

After minor oral surgery. Or Chinese food from the Internet.

Kea was going to be out of town, which meant it was time to prepare some eggplant. While I have converted him to kim chi and tofu, he still is not a fan of eggplant. I'm thinking some baba ghanoush should do the trick, but haven't had the chance to try it out yet.

Anyway, my mom has a recipe for Szechwan Eggplant but for some reason i couldn't find it. I decided to look online, wary of "fake" Chinese food recipes. I don't know... as someone who grew up eating Chinese, Japanese, and Korean food, I'm just very wary of grabbing any old "Asian" recipe off Food Network or whatever--no matter how helpful they are in other contexts. I do love me some cracker ass Panda Express though so maybe I shouldn't worry so much. I guess I was just looking for an ingredient list that sounded right.

As stated in my description, I'm also lazy, so I didn't want ingredients that were too hard to find either. I'm also very opposed to uni-tasker (TM Alton Brown) ingredients, that is, ingredients I will buy for this one recipe and then never use again. I ended up with this recipe. I wasn't necessarily looking for a vegetarian recipe, but I love tofu so I figured I'd go with it. Cuz really i was supposed to be studying, not Googling recipes.

As hinted at in the title, I had had minor oral surgery on the day I planned to prepare this. (If you are brave and want to see what the procedure was like, click here. But don't say I didn't warn you.) The nurse had told me it would be no big deal--just a couple of stitches--so I didn't realize I'd be in pain afterward. Jeez, I never had stitches before okay?

But perhaps I'm a trooper because I managed to go to both the Chinese market and the Kroger afterward. The Chinese market was also ridiculously crowded (maybe because it was the Friday before the new year) and people kept letting their friends join them in line. Luckily my stink eye deterred at least one woman.

Anyway, that night I ended up having two bowls of chazuke instead of Szechwan Eggplant, which had to wait for the next night. And I found I had forgotten a whole bunch of stuff. So I left out the vinegar and sherry and used olive oil and flour instead of peanut oil and cornstarch. I also used crushed red pepper instead of cayenne, but that seems like an improvement to me anyway. Do Chinese even use cayenne pepper!? I also used this nasty tube of ginger instead of fresh. Tubes of ginger are no good, but other than that, the dish was exactly what I wanted. Plus eggplant and tofu ended up being the perfect thing to eat in the days after my surgery.

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And this is why I had leftover ricotta in my fridge.

A couple weeks ago, I made Pizzagna, courtesy of Rachael Ray. It was sooo good--even though I used cheap ass Kroger mozzarella. I also used olives instead of bell pepper because Kea doesn't like bell peppers.

Other lessons learned:
-I would slice the mozzarella thinner next time because when I microwaved leftovers, it got sort of chewy and had to be eaten in one big mozzarella bite (rather than a little in each bite along with some pasta and sauce). And I am all about balance.
-Sometimes the broiler works faster than you think it will--but burnt mozzarella still tastes good. Also, burnt oregano smells like pot.

I am also realizing that Rachael Ray's 30-minute meals dirty a lot of dishes. I guess the speed comes from preparing each piece separately and simultaneously, which means dirtying nearly every dish in my kitchen. (To be fair, my kitchen is fairly small and minimally stocked.)

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18 February 2007

Ricotta Pancakes

I had some leftover ricotta and remembered that I had seen a recipe for ricotta pancakes. I think the one I originally saw was fancier, but this one looked fine.

As always, I adapted--soy milk for cow's milk cuz that's what we have in the house. I threw in an extra egg white I had in the fridge.

The egg whites probably didn't get as stiff as they should've. This was my first time beating egg whites. I used our new stick blender and it got foamy on top but not so much underneath. (I first tried doing it with a whisk. That was silly.) Still, the pancakes were pretty light. Compared to regular (Bisquick) pancakes, they were more moist, maybe eggier.

They're good, but I don't know if I'd go out of my way to make them. Maybe only when I have leftover ricotta. Or maybe this is one of those foods that will grow on me--I don't think much of it now, but in a month or so I'll be craving it. I'll let you know.

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