Thursday, February 24, 2011

Fatty Friday: Flour Sticky Sticky Buns

All these Healthy Snack Wednesday posts have got me craving a little sugar! Enjoy this Fatty Friday post as a little treat! 

On a trip to the bookstore last week, I noticed a delicious looking book on the corner of a table by the register. I didn’t expect to see it there, but as soon as I saw it I knew I had to bring it home. The book? Joanne Chang’s Flour: Spectacular Recipes from Boston’s Flour Bakery and CafĂ©. Since the book came out, I’ve been seeing pictures of all the beautiful creations being made in kitchens across the internet.

I brought the book home and couldn’t decide where to start. I narrowed it down to breakfast treats and asked the hubby to pick a page number between 40 and 102. After the first pick that landed on a story page, the second pick was a definite winner. Page 85 is full-page color spread of the world famous, Throwdown winning sticky sticky bun.

I studied the recipe, and the required basic brioche recipe, and planned my baking schedule. When you add in the brioche making, proofing, rolling, rising, and baking this is quite a time commitment. I broke up the recipe into a few different steps. First, making the goo (unbelievably delicious caramel sauce). Second, making the dough and letting it proof overnight. Third, making half into a brioche loaf and setting it aside to rise. Fourth, rolling and assembling the sticky sticky buns and letting them rise before baking. Finally, baking the sticky buns and then the brioche loaf a few hours later. Rather than repost the recipe, you can find it over on the Food Network. Instead, I’ll show you how much fun I had tackling this baking challenge!

For daily cooking I usually add a dash of this and a splash of that. But for a recipe like this I wanted to be as precise as possible. My new digital scale came in handy for measuring all of the dry ingredients for the dough. I did my best to follow the well-written instructions and the results were fantastic.

Not too much to report on the aptly named goo. A few sticks of butter along with brown sugar, honey, heavy cream, and a few other ingredients makes for a dangerously addictive substance. The goo is sweet, salty, rich, and just plain delicious.

I measured out all my ingredients for the brioche dough and fired up the KitchenAid Mixer. What the book fails to mention is that your mixer might seem like it’s going to catch on fire as you work the dough. The sturdy dough gave my trusty red KitchenAid quite a workout and I stood and watched it to make sure it didn’t burst into flames! I set the dough aside to proof overnight in the refrigerator and got some rest before the big baking day.

The next morning I took out the dough and split it for the recipes. Using a rolling pin and all my upper body strength, I rolled out the sticky sticky bun dough into the appropriate size and thickness. Then, I coated the dough with a mix of sugar, brown sugar, and toasted pecans.

I surprised myself by how well I was able to roll the dough into a tight log. A few quick slices with a sharp knife and the rolls were ready for another rise.

While the rolls puffed up in the dish, I got in a pre-sticky sticky bun workout. I followed the baking and cooling instructions and patiently waited for the buzzer indicating it was time to eat. I think I actually drooled over the sticky sticky buns as I put them on a serving platter for photos.

This was the most incredible sticky sticky bun that I have ever eaten. So incredible that I saved one to take to work and packed the rest for the hubby to take to work. These could easily wipe out the results from Healthy Snack Wednesdays.


Whenever I bake, I always pack up a piece or two for our letter carrier, Dennis. We still get our mail delivered to a box right next to the front door. When we first moved in four years ago, Dennis introduced himself and told us that he had been on the route for over 20 years. He knows the ins and outs of the neighborhood and is around when we're at work. When you've got someone like that, you want to treat him right. I leave him Halloween candy, brownies, cookies, or whatever else I’m baking. He usually scribbles a thank you note on the back of a piece of junk mail, or says thanks when we see him on Saturdays. This week I left him a sticky sticky bun and a few napkins. Judging by the note I got in the box today, I think this baking project was a success!

Thanks to Joanne Chang for such a beautiful, well-written recipe (and book). I can’t wait to pick a random page and try out the next treat! Although I might skip straight to the cornmeal lime cookies I bought the last time I was in Flour 3.

P.S. The brioche came out fantastic too! I've been enjoying it for breakfast all week with a little goat cheese and a fried egg.

Feeling a little over-sugared after that post? Don't forget to enter the MultiGrain Cheerios giveaway! Winner announced next week on Healthy Snack Wednesday!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Healthy Snack Wednesday: MultiGrain Cheerios and a Giveaway

We’re coming down to the wire for the office weight loss challenge! As I mentioned last week, I’m not going to take home the big prize, but I am happy with my progress. We haven’t had our official weigh-in this week, so I don’t have an update to report. But I’ve been working hard to add additional steps into my day and extra vegetables to my plate.

Trying to fit in all these changes could be overwhelming, but I try to keep my expectations in check. One of the challenges I’ve been working on is scheduling my meals throughout the day. Days are long and it’s no fun to be hungry and cranky. On a regular day, I leave the house at 7:30 a.m. and leave work at 5:10 p.m., getting home at 6:30 p.m. That means that it’s usually 7:30 p.m. by the time dinner gets on the table. On class nights, I have class from 6:00 – 9:00 p.m. and get home around 10:00 p.m. On a regular night, that means that between lunch and dinner it could be 6 hours! That’s too long without a snack. On class nights, I eat a light dinner at 5 p.m. and even with a snack in class, I am pretty hungry by the time I get home.

One of the issues with planning a ‘late night’ snack is that it is so close to bedtime. I don’t want to eat anything too heavy and certainly don’t want to start cooking something at that time of night. For me, I’ve found that a good option is a bowl of cereal and a piece of fruit. Growing up, whenever I couldn’t sleep or was just hungry for something after dinner, I often ate a bowl of Cheerios. For some reason it was comforting and I could always go back to sleep afterwards.

I recently received a box of MultiGrain Cheerios cereal, a gym bag, water bottle and cereal container from Cheerios (the product and information was provided through MyBlogSpark). In addition, the cereal box included and code to log on to the MultiGrain Cheerios & Biggest Loser website.

Being a traditional, and sometimes Honey Nut fan, I was interested to try this flavor. And since Biggest Loser seems to work for the contestants, it can’t hurt to check out their online tools. I’ve logged into the site a few times. The site offers recipes, suggested workouts, and a 7-day plan combining menus and workouts. If you have no idea where to get started, this would be a good resource.

I’ve also had a few bowls of MultiGrain Cheerios. I’ll be honest – my favorite is always going to be plain Cheerios. The MultiGrain cheerios are lightly sweetened (only 6 grams per serving) and have a good mix of whole grains to fill you up. I sliced up a banana and poured in low-fat milk to top it off. I found it a little too sweet for my taste. But if you love sugary cereals, this will definitely satisfy your craving. For me, I’ll make myself a custom cereal blend with MultiGrain and regular together (loved doing this as a kid!).

Cheerios offered to help one of my readers jump-start their Biggest Loser Challenge with a prize pack! The package includes a box of MultiGrain Cheerios with an online code, gym bag, water bottle, and cereal container. FYI - the bag, bottle, and cereal container are all purple (like the MultiGrain Cheerios box). The water bottle is huge - you'll never be dehydrated!


Enter through Tuesday, March 1 at 9:00 p.m. Winner will be announced next Wednesday.  Please leave a separate comment for each entry. You can enter up to three times.

Required entry: Comment on how you’ve incorporated healthy practices into your daily routine (or what you plan to try)

Bonus Entry 2: Follow @GoodCookDoris on Twitter or Like Good Cook Doris on Facebook

Bonus Entry 3: Blog or Tweet about this giveaway (be sure to include @GoodCookDoris in your tweet)

Disclosure: Cheerios provided the prize pack and information for giveaway via MyBlogSpark. All opinions belong to me. I received a prize pack, but did not receive any monetary compensation.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Beth From Denver: Vegetable Stock and Vegetable Chili

Enjoy this delicious guest post from my best friend, Beth! She lives in Denver and cooks up vegetarian meals for herself. Check out her previous posts here.  Enjoy this great winter warmer recipe!

On Mondays at work, we take turns bringing soup for lunch. After receiving "How to Cook Everything Vegetarian" by Mark Bittman as a belated birthday gift, I was excited to really make soup from scratch for my turn this week. I started with making vegetable stock.

2 carrots, cut into chunks
1 onion, quartered
1 potato, cut into chunks
3 garlic cloves
1 bunch parsley
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper

I was making soup for a large group of people, so I doubled the ingredients and combined them all with 12 cups of water in a pot. After bringing to a boil, I turned the heat down and let everything simmer for about 45 minutes. Then I strained the vegetables out (creativity necessary as I only have 1 pot that large) and put in a container to store in the refrigerator over night.

The next morning, I checked for all of my ingredients for the chili. Again, I doubled the recipe but since I only had large enough pots and pans for 1 batch at a time, I just repeated the steps. Here are the ingredients for a single batch.

1 zucchini, chopped
2 peppers, seeded and chopped (any color works, I used 1 red and 1 green)
2 portabella mushrooms, chopped
1 red onion, peeled and chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped as finely as possible
2 jalapeno peppers, chopped as finely as possible
2 cups black beans, cooked
2 tablespoons chili powder
2 teaspoons paprika
3 tablespoons tomato paste
3 cups vegetable stock
extra virgin olive oil

Modeled after Lara, I chopped all my vegetables and took out all my other ingredients and measuring tools before I started cooking anything. I sauteed the zucchini, peppers, mushrooms and onion using the olive oil.

In a different pot, I heated up a couple of splashes of olive oil and cooked the garlic and jalapeno for 3-4 minutes.

When the vegetables were sauteed, (I let them cook about 7 minutes until they were a bit soft), I added them to the pot with the garlic and jalapeno. Then I added the beans and let them heat up. Then I added the chili powder, paprika and a dash of salt and pepper. Next I stirred in the tomato paste and let it cook for another 2 minutes. Finally I added the vegetable stock and let the soup simmer. If this hadn't been for school, I would have added a cup of beer and reduced it for about a minute before adding the vegetable stock. Like I said before, I made 2 batches and combined them in my crock pot. It is a bit spicy, but nothing that a handful of shredded cheese won't balance out! I'm excited to share it with my co-workers!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Flavorful, Fresh & Fast: Dorado Tacos and Cemitas

Looking for a meal that meets the following criteria?

1) Extremely delicious
2) Extremely fresh & flavorful
3) Extremely reasonable
4) Extremely friendly & welcoming staff
5) Extremely earth friendly

I've got the perfect recommendation for you - Dorado Tacos and Cemitas! I've been to Dorado a number of times and everything I've tried has been fantastic. From summer dining outside:

Ensenanda Tacos

To warm and comforting dinner inside:

Two taco plate with rice, beans, and roasted jalapeno

Steak Cemita, Ensenada Tacos, chips, guacamole,
 and watermelon agua fresca

I know they have taco and cemita in their name, but you shouldn't skip over the quesadillas. Packed with the perfect balance of filling & cheese, they are crispy and wonderful.  And pickled vegetables and spicy tortilla chips are a spicy kick to the taste buds.

A few weeks ago, I enjoyed a delicious brunch with the Boston Brunchers crew at Dorado Tacos & Cemitas in Brookline. The hubby and I were quick to comment and snagged seats for this month's Mexican brunch. Thanks to Dorado for opening early for the brunchers - we had a wonderful time! The hubby and I paid for our brunch - and it was money extremely well spent.

We've been to Dorado once before for brunch, and this was a great opportunity to try it again. We had a strategy this time. The sunny day + big windows + hot and spicy food = South of the Border temperatures! So we decided to skip the hot drinks and go with something iced along with our brunch. During the summer, the featured agua fresca was watermelon lime. It was so good that I recreated it at home (I made a huge pitcher and finished it in two days.  For the winter they have switched to the equally refreshing cucumber lime agua fresca.

Homemade Watermelon-Lime Honey Agua Fresca

The hubby decided to order a loaded breakfast quesadilla filled with eggs, cheese, spicy portobella mushrooms, and rice and beans. No side dishes needed - it was all inside.

Breakfast quesadilla with eggs, spicy portabella mushroom, black beans, and rice

I love side dishes, so I opted for the huevos rancheros. Two corn tortillas topped with sunny side up eggs, salsa ranchera, queso fresco and a generous sprinkling of scallions and cilantro. To bump up the spice even more, I ordered the patatas bravas on the side. Crispy, salty outside and smooth and creamy inside they are completely addictive.

Huevos rancheros with patatas bravas

So don't miss out on this neighborhood gem. In addition to their affordable menu prices, they also offer standing weekly specials like all-you-can eat chili Mondays, $1.99 fish taco Tuesdays, and more! Weekend brunch runs from 11 a.m. - 3 p.m.  If the promise of freshly made food with fresh ingredients isn't enough of a draw, A 2 taco plate or 2-filling quesadilla plate will set you back just $6.25 + tax on a regular day. Add on a beer, wine, or Mexican soda and you'll have a filling meal for under $10. Check out the full menu over on their website.

Dorado Tacos & Cemitas on Urbanspoon

Thursday, February 17, 2011

When He Fends for Himself: Snack Dinner II

It's back to back weeks of "When He Fends for Himself". How exciting. This week I'm bringing back the dinner concept that swept that nation. That's right, it's Snack Dinner II!!! I feel it is my responsibility to present to you a makeshift dinner for when you are in a pinch. As a disclaimer I must mention that this snack dinner was planned.

I knew a couple of days in advance that I was going to be home alone and decided on a course of action. I wanted to center my meal around a recent stand-by, yogurt and granola. The challenge I faced was in filling in around it. I thought about popcorn, fruit, or ice cream for potential sides but didn't make up my mind until I went to the store. On the way to get the popcorn, I walked down the chip aisle and remembered one of my favorite snacks. It had to be a part of Snack Dinner II! So, instead of popcorn I went with Terra's SWEETS and BEETS. Because it rhymes, and because it tastes so good, I am unable to control the volume of my voice when saying "sweets and beets". Therefore, it always comes out as SWEETS and BEETS. Once I had the bag in hand, I went through the fruit section but was uninspired, gave up, and decided to head towards the register. On the way, I noticed a display of mini Ben and Jerry's containers and decided that would be the perfect dessert. I had my three course dinner decided on and headed home.

Once at home I decided to start with the SWEETS and BEETS, wait a little bit and then have the yogurt and granola, then wait a little bit longer and finish with the ice cream. Unfortunately, it didn't end up going as planned. I opened the SWEETS and BEETS and went to town on them. If the wifey was home and had tried to grab some for herself I would have probably taken a bite out of her hand. Before I knew it I had ate the whole bag! Six servings worth.....ugh. Because of this, I was actually kind of full. I took a comfortable seat on the couch (the couch always makes a cameo on "When He Fends for Himself") and ended up getting in a little bit of nap.

When I came too, I decided to continue on with Snack Dinner II because I had promised wifey a post worthy dinner. (Insert joke here). I dragged myself up and started to do my only prep of the evening - mixing the yogurt and granola. I like to put the granola in the bowl first so that the yogurt can be easily mixed in on top of it. Since wifey had just made granola the day before I wanted to use it for the second course. However, it wasn't where we normally keep the granola in our pantry. I looked in all the shelves, checked the counters, and even tried the refrigerator. I like to say that she was hiding the granola from me, but she'll say that it was my super hero personality "Captain Oblivious" making an appearance. It turns out, the granola was on the dining room table. Before we left for work in the morning she told me where it was, but by dinner time I had just forgotten. Whoops.

Anyway, I instead went with the pumpkin and flax seed granola I normally get from the bulk aisle at Whole Foods. It is pretty tasty and I usually mix it with plain Stonyfield yogurt. I was still a little full, but knew I had a job to do. Once the second course was finished I went back to the couch and decided there would not be a third course. There was no room for the tiny Ben and Jerry's anywhere in my stomach. Snack Dinner had defeated me. To top it off, when I went to pick up the wife at the train station my stomach began to hurt. I think maybe I had a little too much SWEETS and BEETS. Thankfully, it didn't last long and it didn't ruin my night.

All-in-all, I think it was a successful snack dinner. The purpose of snack dinner, in my mind, is to not go hungry while expending as little energy as possible. This I accomplished in spades. While this was a manufactured snack dinner, I want it to be a guide for when you're home alone, lazy, and afraid of wasting away. It is OK to eat a bag of potato chips for dinner every once in a while. If all you have is canned olives and a granola bar at home, by all means eat them! No one is there to stop you. Our market research shows us there's a high probability you are an "adult." Go for it! You'll be glad you did, I promise.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Healthy Snack Wednesdays: Granola

We're getting down to the wire for the office weight loss challenge! There are 3 weigh-ins left in the competition.  I won't be taking home the grand prize (the current leader has lost 5% of their body weight!). However I'm happy to report that I'm down 3 pounds from the start of the competition, a healthy rate of weight loss. I've been making an effort to take the 4 flights of stairs up to my office and getting out for a walk at lunchtime. Starting a whole new fitness routine isn't in the schedule, so I've been adding in activity where I can. While school and work are getting busier, it's been harder to squeeze in snack making. So this week I'll share an easy recipe for granola.

Granola packs a nutritional punch - healthy oats, nuts, and dried fruit. But you have to be careful, sometimes the store bought granola contains a lot of calories and fat.  Making it at home is something I have been meaning to try for a while. I wanted a healthy and tasty recipe.  There are a lot of great resources at BU for healthy eating, so I started my recipe search on the Sargent Choice website. I wish that Sargent Choice was around when I was an undergrad at BU! They offer healthy dining options on campus - both in the dining halls and in the student union. They also offer healthy eating resources for students, faculty, and staff.

On the 'What's Cooking' page, I found a recipe for a granola and yogurt parfait and decided to put my spin on the granola. My granola included oats, roasted unsalted pepitas, sliced almonds, and dried cherries. I also added a dash of salt (I like the contrast of a little salty granola with sweet yogurt). The preparation was easy, but you will need a scale to measure the ingredients. Also, I found that mine cooked in much less time than the recipe called for. You'll have to watch the oven to make sure your granola doesn't burn - it can get overcooked in an instant. I'll be mixing this into my favorite yogurts for healthy snacking the rest of the week.

Sargent Choice Granola (minus the parfait)
Adapted from Sargent Choice
5 ounces rolled oats
1/2 teaspoon whole wheat flour
1/4 cup roasted, unsalted pepitas
1/4 cup sliced almonds
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon (I think I added a full teaspoon)
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
2 ounces maple syrup (Grade B)
1/2 ounce honey
1 1/2 teaspoon orange infused olive oil
1/4 teaspoon vanilla (as I typed this, I realized I forgot to include it)
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup dried cherries

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper
In a large bowl mix oats, pepitas, almonds, cinnamon and salt
In a separate bowl, whisk together syrup, honey, olive oil, vanilla, and water
Pour the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and mix together with a rubber spatula
Pour the granola mixture onto the baking sheet and spread evenly
Bake, checking every 20 minutes and stirring to ensure even cooking
Mine was done after 40 minutes

Cool completely
Mix with dried fruit
Store in an airtight containers

Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 40 minutes - 2 hours
Mixing bowls, whisk, spatula, baking sheet, parchment paper

Monday, February 14, 2011

Daring Cooks Challenge: Soba & Tempura (and Sushi too!)

This month’s Daring Cooks’ challenge was right up my alley. We love Japanese food! The February 2011 Daring Cooks’ challenge was hosted by Lisa of Blueberry Girl. She challenged Daring Cooks to make Hiyashi Soba and Tempura. She has various sources for her challenge including,, and For the official recipes provided, visit the Daring Cooks.

Like any challenge, I like to put my spin on things too. In addition to the soba noodles and tempura, I decided to make some sushi to complete the meal. After a trip to the grocery store for ingredients, I spent a good 3 hours in the kitchen putting together a spectacular Saturday night dinner.

One of the things I’ve learned for big cooking projects with multiple dishes and steps is to take the time to create a game plan before starting. Otherwise things can get messy and out of control. Here is a quick overview of my process:

-Read through the recipes and take note of the prep and cooking times
-Decide what components can be made ahead of serving time and what has to be served immediately
-Create a schedule for cooking the meal (for example, chop first, make sauce next, and fry food last)
-Organize the ingredients by dish
-Take out all the measuring spoons and cups necessary for the recipes (nothing worse than finding out the one you need is dirty when you’re at a crucial moment in preparation)
-Take out the pots, pans, cutting boards, and utensils you will need (no digging through the cabinets with dirty hands)
-Turn on the TV to a good movie or put on your favorite music
-Start cooking!

For this challenge, my schedule was as follows:
1. Pour a delicious glass of wine

Thanks for the great wine Central Bottle!

2. Make the sushi rice
3. While the rice cooks, make sauce for the soba noodles and julienne vegetables for sushi and toppings
4. Blanch sweet potatoes and boil bean sprouts
5. Cook noodles and chill
6. Assemble, roll, and cut sushi
7. Plate noodles, garnishes, sauce and sushi
8. Ask hubby to clear and set the table
9. Make tempura, try not to burn myself
10. Serve dinner
11. Enjoy the meal and another glass of wine!

And now here’s a look at what I made! No recipes in this post, visit the Daring Cook’s link for the recipes for the challenge. But be sure to read through the end for a look at some vintage Good Cook Doris photos and a great story about the last time I made sushi at home.

Soba Noodles with Vegetables
The hubby loves noodles, not just macaroni and cheese. I usually don’t order noodle dishes when we go out because they are one-pot dishes. I love side dishes too much. So I let him choose the soba noodles. There were 5 different types of soba noodles at the store! He selected wheat and buckwheat noodles. Nothing too much to report on cooking here, I followed the directions on the bag and watched carefully to prevent overcooking. I made a simple dipping sauce combining vegetable stock, soy sauce and mirin. For extra flavor and saltiness I added a dash of fish sauce to top the noodles, I honored the challenge and kept it simple. We added julienned cucumbers, carrots, chopped scallions, and bean sprouts. The dish was simple, fresh, and delicious!

Vegetable Tempura
After frying, I found a penguin (my favorite animal!)

This was surprisingly simple to prepare. I chose a small assortment of my favorite vegetables to fry: sweet potatoes, green beans, and shitake mushrooms. For fun, I added a few carrots to the mix. I used raw vegetables, with the exception of the sweet potatoes. I blanched them until just tender.

Timing was everything for the tempura. I got everything ready and fried the vegetables just before we sat down to eat dinner. As with any fried dish, it is important to set up the assembly line and rack for the fried vegetables to rest.

To ensure the batter stayed light and airy, I placed an ice pack in a large bowl and then a smaller bowl on top to mix the batter (we don’t have an ice maker, I had to improvise). I used my trusty kids’ chopsticks to mix up the batter until just combined. I also don't have a skimmer, so I use my stainless steel potato masher to scoop fried foods out of the pot.

The dredged and battered vegetables took a 1-2 minute dip in 320 degree vegetable oil and emerged golden brown and perfectly crispy.

Homemade Spicy Salmon Rolls
The last time we made sushi was in September 2002. We had graduated from college in May and I had moved to Florida. The hubby was still in Boston and we were doing the long distance thing. One of our favorite things to do when he visited was go out for sushi. There was one place, Yoko, in West Palm Beach that we visited on Saturday nights of our weekends together. The owner, Yoko would sing karaoke along with the music videos on a huge big screen TV. If you’ve seen the pictures of the hubby and me, you’ll notice we are not large people. But we have an uncanny ability to consume obscene amounts of sushi.

One particular night at Yoko we placed our order for the Crazy Cat Roll (our favorite) and assortment of other rolls and nigiri, and excitedly awaited the free spicy noodle salad they served before the meal. We watched the waitress walk over to the sushi chef and present him with our order. He read the order and then said something to her. She pointed at us and he looked over with a look of disbelief on his face. He looked down at the order, back at us, and then back at the waitress. Then the waitress came back and told us that the chef wanted to confirm that we really wanted to order so much sushi. We assured her that yes, we did intend to order that amount. She walked back to the chef and relayed the message. He looked at us, shrugged his shoulders and then started rolling. I’m pretty sure he gave us even more rice than usual, but we couldn’t back down and ended up cleaning our plates and leaving completely stuffed.

So when we decided on another visit to make sushi at home, of course we made too much! I was living in my grandparent’s condo when I first moved there and we used her pots and pans. I remember the rice being really hard to make and extraordinarily sticky. When I asked the hubby if he remembered making the sushi, he said “Man that sucked, you can quote me on that. My hands hurt so badly after rolling all of that.” With that in mind, I present you with the pictures from September 13, 2002. You can see we gave up rolling. There is an uncut roll of sushi and two plates of rice with julienne vegetables artfully placed on top. You will also notice one of my grandmother’s favorite flea market finds hanging on the wall – the bag lady! This lovely lady has a porcelain face and an empty skirt into which you can stick grocery bags.

I’ve had the sushi rolling set in the cabinets for the past 8 years, but haven’t used them until this weekend. I was feeling confident and decided to make spicy salmon inside-out maki. I pulled out the “Easy Sushi” book from the back of the bookshelf and reminded myself how to roll properly. This time the rice came out perfectly (thanks to a little confidence and a foolproof recipe from Alton Brown). I mixed smoked salmon, mayonnaise and sriracha for my spicy salmon mixture. With the rolling station set up, I got to work. By pure luck, the package of nori I picked up was pre-toasted and ready to roll right out of the package. Two sheets, cut in half, made just the right amount of sushi for dinner and leftovers.

The Meal
With all of the dishes prepared and plated, it was time to eat! The meal was simple, clean, and flavorful. It was almost like eating out at a Japanese restaurant! The hubby’s cousin Becky got us a beautiful set of Japanese dishes for our wedding and this was the perfect opportunity to use it. Thanks Daring Cooks for such a fun challenge!

And thanks to the hubby for his help! Photographer, moral support, and chief dishwasher.

An added bonus? Lunch the next day! 

Friday, February 11, 2011

When He Fends For Himself: Using the Oven

Welcome back to another addition of "When He Fends For Himself". With wifey back in school for the semester, I'm back on my own one night a week. Since she's been taking classes for a year and half, being alone one night a week is not a shock to the system. I actually planned ahead and got a package of Wild Mushroom Lasagne from Vic, The Pasta Man (Fior D'Italia Pasta and Cheese), at the Russell's Garden Center winter farmers market in Wayland, MA. I've had his ravioli before and was excited to try something else of his. Knowing that the lasagne was frozen and would take while to heat up, I didn't dilly dally when I got home. I immediately got to work.

I chose to heat up the lasagne in the oven because even though it would take longer than the microwave, I knew it would end up tasting better. This is the first time I had to do anything with the oven for "When he fends for himself" so I'll walk you through my turning on the oven routine. The first thing I do is open up the oven to make sure nothing is in it. This is a product of my childhood. When I was about 10 there was a potato in the back corner of the oven that no one noticed for about a month. Have you ever heard of twice baked potato? Try twenty times baked potato. I remember the way it looked and felt when it was finally removed and am scared to have that be repeated.

 I also, always, turn the oven to 350. Why? Because everything can cook at 350. In my vast experience, no other temperature has been needed.

I let the oven pre-heat and in the meantime placed foil in a small casserole dish and set the lasagne on top. Once the oven was at the required temperature I put in my frozen dinner and ended up checking its status about every 10 minutes.

 After 30 minutes, a quick taste test revealed a done lasagne and dinner was about to be served. Honestly, I was so excited I almost pulled out the casserole dish without using a pot holder. I plated the lasagne, took my seat in front of the couch, turned on the Bruins/Habs game, and got down to business.

The lasagne was really really good. It had great mushroom flavor, was the right serving size for a growing boy like myself, and was covered in an incredible sauce. I can't recommend Vic the pasta man enough. I know this winter he's at least at the Natick and Wayland markets.

After the successful meal I basked privately in the glory of a job well done, but then reality set in. It was less then a week until the wifey had class and I would be fending for myself again. All week the anxiety will build and the pressure will be on. Won't you join me next week to see if I can survive another night alone? With your support I can do it. Who's with me?

Until next time....

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Healthy Snack Wednesday: Cheese, My Favorite Snack

In addition to being Healthy Snack Wednesday, this is also the 200th post on Good Cook Doris! In honor of the occasion, I present to you my favorite snack and one of my favorite foods.  Cheese!  But first, a quick update on my semester in Anthropology of Food.

This week I've been busy working on my first paper of the semester, a food centered life history. I conducted an hour long interview, listened and transcribed my recording, and put together a narrative based on the interview data. It was a great experience. I love to talk with people about food. Food is something that everyone has experience with. Whether it's hunger, excess, likes or dislikes. Everyone has something to say about food! There are so many things that you can learn through talking with someone about food - their heritage, culture, religion, family history, personality, and more.

I'm used to quick, on the fly, interviews at farmers markets and food events. I don't always know that I'll be conducting an interview and of course won't have prepared questions. This was a structured interview with plenty of preparation time. I still have a lot to learn in the the interviewing department - like organizing my questions and narrowing my focus. There are so many things to cover that an hour long interview goes by in no time. 

One of the things I love to find out from people is if the way they are in the kitchen is the way they are in the rest of their lives. Think about it! Are you a rigid recipe follower? Is your desk perfectly organized with nothing out of place? Or are you a creative cook who whips up something new all the time? Are you spontaneous and like to beat to your own drum? Think about the people you know - it's a fun exercise when you are waiting for a late train or an appointment.

Now on to this week's snacking goodness! The winners of the popchips contest are at the end of today's post.

In the comments last week there were a lot of great snack ideas. I was surprised that more people didn't mention cheese. I could eat cheese for every meal of the day. Breakfast, lunch, dinner, or dessert. Anything but blue or Swiss and I'm a happy girl. Because I spent my time writing instead of cooking this week, here are a few ideas for snacking that involve my favorite dairy product.

Cheese is great alone, but making your own cheese plate is even better. I picked up an assortment of cheese from Cowgirl Creamery in DC when I was there over the holidays . I paired the three cheeses with assorted marinated olives (from the olive bar at Whole Foods), baby gherkin pickles, fig jam and toasted baguette slices. This satisfies my love for a variety of dishes. Also, you end up eating slower because of the number of items and often are full before the plate is empty. Here are a few close-ups of the delicious cheese.

Cowgirl Creamery Devil's Gulch with sweet and hot peppers

Mimolette...Almost looks like cantelope.

Serena Goat Cheese with ash on the rind

Another great way to build a cheese plate is to incorporate healthy vegetables and fruit. For an award show watching party, I put together sliced pears, cherries, cucumbers, and celery. The fruits paired wonderfully with the cheese. For the vegetables I made a quick cucumber dip with non-fat Greek yogurt. 

Of course you can just eat a few slices of cheese, but you're likely to eat more than you need. By pairing it with healthy accompaniments you have a delicious and nutritious snack.

What's your favorite cheese? If I was forced to pick my top cheeses, they would be brie, super sharp cheddar, and creamy goat cheese. 

Weekly trip to the Copley Square Farmers Market

Now for the winners! Each winner receives a 1-month supply of popchips!

Winner #1: Robin, who said, "I can't wait to try the quiches!"

Winner #2: Michelle, who left a comment on the Good Cook Doris facebook page.

Please email me at lara [at] goodcookdoris [dot] com and we'll make arrangements for you to get your prize. Thanks for entering and welcome to all the new readers!


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