Posts on November 2014

So, I got cocky

kale

I think cooking cockiness might be a real thing. And I think it’s what happened to my brain between the successful strawberry arugula pizza making and the mostly-successful tomato soup making. I mean, I killed the pizza in all of its pistachio pesto glory. And even though my soup was borderline puke-y in its consistency, it was both flavorful and filling. So why the epic failure when it came to putting together this kale and pomegranate salad? I can find no other explanation than cooking cockiness.

Rachel’s Guide To Failing at Kale & Pomegranate Salad

  1. Get cocky. Make something you’ve never made before. And make it really, really tasty. Then try to make something super easy like tossing a handful of greens in a bowl.
  2. Buy the incorrect kale. It’s totally fine to buy the incorrect version of the base ingredient. Repeat to yourself, ‘cooking is an adventure!’ and move forward with confidence.
  3. Don’t buy walnuts because you think you have some. Discover that what you actually have is a bag of walnut crumbs. Then try to toast them anyway.
  4. When you’ve gone to two stores in search of pomegranates/pomegranate seeds the day before thanksgiving in sunny New England, substitute dried cranberries when you find zero.
  5. Stay the course! Even though you didn’t buy the correct kale, have no walnuts, and are substituting dried cranberries for pomegranate seeds, this will be the best kale and pomegranate salad of all time.
  6. Spend $6.99 on tiny bag of wild rice at Wholefoods after swearing you will not shop at Wholefoods any longer. Be sure to give yourself 50-60 minutes to cook said rice. And be sure to ‘separate and wash’ said rice before cooking it. To wash, pour two cups of the thinnest rice known to man into a standard colander. Enjoy rice falling onto the floor and into the sink. You will be reminded of the time you attempted to strain rice every time you walk into your kitchen, finding grains of rice in every nook and cranny for days to come (kind of like pine needles in July).
  7. The next time you talk to your mom on the phone, ask her what ‘separating rice’ means. Then confess that you–for a hot second–wondered how on earth you were supposed to actually separate all those tiny grains and what purpose that would have served.
  8. Now that the rice is done, enjoy the sweet, sweet aroma of what smells like alfalfa, but totally reminds you of hamster shavings. Because that is what you want to think about when you’re eating this glorious frankensalad. Hamsters.
  9. By this point, you’ve decided that the only thing that will save this salad is the dressing. And the cheese. Because who doesn’t eat salad just for the dressing and the cheese? The dressing is a super simple combination of shallots, olive oil, honey, apple cider vinegar, salt, and lemon juice–awesome.
  10. Reach for the shallot. Peel the shallot. And fight the urge to cry when you realize that those shallots that have been sitting in your wooden bowl for two weeks are moldy and sad. Try to peel them anyway! Then casually toss them into the garbage either before or after you swallow your pride (chef’s choice).
  11. Stand in the middle of your kitchen wondering how the fuck you’re going to save this salad because you promised a friend that you were going to provide the only green at her Thanksgiving table this year. Determined, decide that you are going to see if your landlord has any shallots or onions since you need to borrow a serving bowl anyway.
  12. Grab the spare key to your landlord’s apartment (with permission) and enter. There, you will find zero traces of shallots and onions, but learn that said landlord is seriously grappling with a Gatorade addiction.
  13. Return to your apartment with a serving dish and low spirits. Wallow briefly, but then decide that the key to saving this salad is to make up your own dressing recipe. Substitute mustard for shallots and taste said dressing. Upon tasting, quietly acknowledge that said dressing is the single most vile thing you’ve put in your mouth all week.
  14. Give up. Wave the white flag in surrender. Throw in the dish towel. You, my friend, have lost the battle, have lost the war, and have lost whatever cooking confidence you’ve started with.
  15. Text your friend to notify her that no one will be having kale salad with Thanksgiving dinner this year, but that a bottle of your favorite Pinot Noir will do just fine.

 

 

Tinderific Thanksgiving

photo 4

Remember when we started a cooking blog… the week before Thanksgiving?

Oh, you mean that time I offered to host Friendsgiving for approximately fifteen of my bromates’ friends?

I set out to write specifically about the Lentil Loaf from the Oh She Glows Cookbook (the recipe isn’t available outside of the printed book, but a similar one can be found here). But I can’t write about that without mentioning the Mushroom Gravy and the Kale and Pomegranate Salad that I attempted to make at the same time. Oh, and the bromate antics that were happening concurrently:

Antics.

Let’s start with the ingredients. Number one: walnuts. Forgot to buy them. Whoops. Luckily, Kevin has whole ones. Unfortunately that means this recipe’s prep time has basically tripled because CHOPPING WALNUTS IS THE WORST.

photo 1Halfway done.  Only took me 13 minutes to chop this many.

Once the walnuts are chopped, I stop at the words “rimmed pan” and try not to act like a giggly 13-year old.  I remove my mind from the gutter and Google it just to make sure – FYI a rimmed pan is literally a pan. With sides.  Like most pans.  I also don’t actually think the sides made a difference while toasting the walnuts, but I’m a novice here…

Speaking of novice, most people hold their prepped ingredients in solo cups, right?

photo 2

Recipe calls for parchment paper. Upon realizing that, I decide I really just need to procure some. So I send one of the bromates out to buy parchment paper. He needed to pick up beer anyway.

Side note: Patsy Kline is singing “Crazy for Loving You” on the speakers. I am wearing the vintage apron that you bought for me.  Cooking Thanksgiving dinner for my three male roommates and our house guests, while one roommate sits with a beer on the couch and two play with smoke a turkey.

It’s fine. I promise I really am a feminist.

Forgot a timer but walnuts are alive.  I’m not sure how one minces celery so I make it up. I’m really not sure how one grates apples so I make that up too. The apple is definitely a #fail but I’m getting hangry and just want this shit to get into the oven.

Did I mention I’ve eaten zero food and that I’ve been convinced by the bromates that Coffee Stout is an appropriate replacement for Regular Coffee on Thanksgiving?

photo 1

Not an adequate substitute.

Trying to remember the last time I ate applesauce or raisins. I’m pretty sure it was in the same era that I was trading Kudos Bars for Gushers and Fruit Roll Ups for Double Stuf Oreos.

I always feel like a super accomplished cook when throwing fresh herbs into a dish. I sneak a taste and it’s delicious. The consistency is kind of dry, so I splash a little bit of veggie broth in. Because I’m so accomplished.

So accomplished that I completely skipped the paragraph where the recipe talks about blending the lentils into a paste.

That probably makes a difference?

Luckily, I was really hoping to work out today and missed my dance class. So I vigorously pound (calm down…) the lentils until they are somewhat mushy. I smush the whole mixture into the pan and get excited to be done, only to realize that you’re supposed to make the glaze before cooking.

photo 4

A Note About Ketchup: Before the industrial size fridge my three roommates and I shared crapped out, there was ample space for my Fancy Organic Brand Ketchup along with the bromates’ Scary High Fructose Corn Syrup Ketchup. Unfortunately, we had to throw all of the food from our old fridge out, and therefore I am currently stuck with the Scary HFCS Ketchup that was literally procured from a GAS STATION in a moment of panic by one of the bromates, when he wasn’t going to have anything to top his pre-made, frozen pigs in a blanket.

I’m not sure if it’s the HFCS or the fact that there is maple involved, but the glaze is ahhhmayzinggg.  I smear it on the moist loaf (tried to use three of my least favorite words in a sentence, just to see if I could do it) and pop it in the oven for 40 minutes.

photo 5

While the loaf is cooking, I have been deemed the Ice Queen by the bromates and handed eleven Smirnoff Ice bottles to hide on them (“icing”). It feels kind of like an adult Easter Egg Hunt. Which makes perfect sense in the West Oakland Country Club on Thanksgiving.

photo 2

I definitely need to research how to use parchment paper because I don’t think it’s supposed to start smoking? Not quite sure.   I cut the burning edges off and throw the loaf back into the oven for 10 more minutes.

Meanwhile, I’m making this orgasmic mushroom gravy from the Cozy Millet Bowl recipe that you HAVE to try. I didn’t put the kale in it, but you should because it’ll be amazing.

photo (7)

Loaf is done.  Not gonna lie, I’m pretty proud of myself for getting all of this together.

photo 2Coupled with the turkey that Max smoked, Wanamaker’s mashed potatoes and rolls, and the incredible pies baked by Boots, we actually managed to have an Almost Adult Thanksgiving.

photo 3 photo 4photo 4

Almost.

photo 3

The Soup Happened

IMG_3855

And I have to say: it was super tasty! Though, I almost didn’t eat it because of questionable consistency issues. More about that shortly. First? Let’s talk about Ingredient Acquisition.

As you know, I’ve been trying to Wholefoods less and Trader Joe’s more. And as you know, I’ve been failing miserably. Why? Because I would much rather spend $60 for three avocados and a bag of kale at the Wholefoods 2.5 miles away from my house than drive the 4.8 miles to Trader Joe’s. I’m a convenience girl, what can I say?

(Yet, I’ve been traveling halfway around the world to spend time with a girl I ReallyLike. This makes no sense, but I digress.)

Trader Joe’s just hasn’t been happening. And let’s face it, it’s probably not going to happen when all I’m shopping for is three cans of tomato-related ingredients and thyme.

With Wholefoods off the table and Trader Joe’s out of the question, my only option seemed to be Stop & Shop. And even though I hate Stop & Shop and everything it stands for, the fact that it is conveniently located 1.7 miles made it a given.

That is until I remembered that a brand new Market Basket recently opened 2 miles from my apartment (!!). And even though MB isn’t a huge step up from Stop & Shop with its painfully effulgent florescent lights illuminating aisle after aisle of processed food items, it’s at least cheaper than Stop & Shop. And cheap is good when plane tickets have become a thing.

My trip to Market Basket is best summed up by this short text exchange.

As for the soup? It was really easy to make. Even with piecing together multiple photos of the ingredients list and a running text message containing the actual cooking instructions. If I was cooking anything else, it would have been a disaster.

The Highlights:

IMG_3852 That time I broke one of my cute vintage glasses trying to extract a cutting board from the dish strainer. No worries. I have eight more of these darling little things.

blend That time I realized far too late in the process that perhaps a food processor wouldn’t be a good stand-in for a blender.

spillage That time my theory was proven.

peas Which was right around the time that I burnt the shit out of the chickpeas. If you’re going to burn the chickpeas, you might as well top this soup with rocks. Same taste, easier to procure.

The thing about using a food processor as a blending mechanism when you’re trying to pulverize stewed tomatoes and onions into a silky smooth liquid is that it doesn’t fucking work. Instead, it creates a texture similar to vomit. Which is a really, really, really unappetizing and unappealing consistency for soup. FYI.

But I ate it anyway.

After a moderate amount of mental coaching.

I’m buying a blender.

No Fridge, No Prob.

bowl of yum

So.  I don’t have a fridge.  That’s kind of a thing.

Which means I have to cook this entire meal and then pack it up and send it with Boots, to keep cold in his fridge.  Which means I have to hurry.  And you know how I am at hurrying while cooking…

Hopefully this will be my least funny post, because hopefully it will be the only one during which I am not drinking a large glass of wine.  But Tinder Girl With a Cold + wine didn’t seem like the best idea.

Meal: Cream of Tomato Soup with Roasted Italian Chickpeas
From: the Oh She Glows Cookbook

Important to note:  This recipe wants you to do something in advance.  Did I?  Of course not.  But you should, because it’s cashew cream as a replacement for real cream.  Which will be good for your lactoseyness.  I used real cream and it made everything ahh-maay-zing, but I have a feeling the cashews would actually lend an even silkier texture and more flavor.

Also important to note: This recipe calls for parchment paper and paper towels.  Both things normal households would have…  But I obviously ran out of paper towels this morning and still haven’t purchased parchment paper.  After briefly contemplating whether draining chickpeas into toilet paper would be effective, I scavenge a quarter roll of paper towels from my bathroom.

I’m making 1.5 times the recipe, since it needs to feed five people.  I’m making double the roasted chickpeas because roasted. chickpeas.

Start time: 10:30pm
I’m using olive oil instead of grapeseed for the chickpeas because I’m confused about what grapeseed oil actually is and what kind of person actually has grapeseed oil on hand.  The smell of the chickpea spice mix is orgasmic.  Thinking about just eating these and calling it a night…?

chickpea prep

Chickpeas make it into the oven to roast.  Aluminum foil working just as well as parchment paper so far.  Super proud of myself for setting a timer!

orgasmic

Sauteing onions and garlic – no big deal except for the fact that multiple roommates have asked me if I’m okay because of the tears flowing down my face.  I cut the last third of the onion with my eyes closed and wonder how many onion-related injuries there are in the world each year.

After forgetting that 1.5 times the recipe might not fit into the mixer and thus christening the Vitamix with lots of tomato soup splash, I get most of the soup mixture blended into a smooth (but not too smooth, because then people won’t think it’s homemade…) consistency.

mess

Also.  Tell me there are people who can look at peeled tomatoes and not gag.  Please. Find me someone who can do that.

fetus tomato

really though.

Soup has pureed and is now heating.  I grab the chickpea tray after forgetting to set a timer for the second 15 minute rotation, but they seem okay.

Oh. My. God.

There’s no way anyone else gets to enjoy these chickpeas.  I am definitely going to eat all of them by tomorrow morning.  After my timer went off, I tried the “give them a good shake” method as suggested by the recipe and mostly succeeded in burning my finger and dumping a handful of chickpeas into the bottom of the oven.  So I might suggest using a spatula to gently move them around.  Total, I think the chickpeas roasted for 30-35 minutes.

Soup is finished and is really flavorful!  Although I can’t stand them in whole form, the sun dried tomatoes really gave the soup amazing flavor.  The roasted chickpeas are definitely the highlight.

roasted chickpea amazingness

End Time: 11:35pm

The whole meal is really filling, but I still think I am going to buy bread and cheese for a grilled cheese tomorrow.  It just feels… sacrilegious to have tomato soup without one.

I’m excited to hear how your attempt goes!