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Only the blog has been neglected, my stomach remains satisfied

September 30, 2007

Bean and Corn Soup

Oh the neglect. I must apologize to whatever readers remain. The past few weeks have been stressful, exciting, busy, exhausting, fantastic, and terrifying. This being a student again thing is turning out to be more intense than I expected. My previous educational experiences stand out in my mind as a series of thrilling days full of joyful learning. I didn’t remember the hard work parts. I’m remembering them now. Don’t misunderstand. It’s freakin’ great, but I am tired.

I finally got a chance to talk to the Lady Crystal today (oh thank god, I needed that) and her plaintive sighs about missing my cooking and my blog are what brought me to the ‘puter tonight. It’s about time, and I swear, I will do my best to not let so much time elapse in the future. Especially because I really have been cooking things. I’m not subsisting on take out and frozen pizza, I swear!

I made the Black Bean and Corn soup weeks ago. It was delicious, and seriously easy. The recipe is straight from Martha Stewart’s Everyday Food magazine, a magazine that I’m starting to rely on more and more these days, because all the recipes are easy and fast and simple, which is perfect for my busy, busy lifestyle. This soup is delicious and hearty and I’m sure I will make it again this winter, though the avocados won’t be as good.

Chocolate Mint ice cream

And to prove to my parents that I actually really did make great use of the ice cream maker, here’s a real recipe! This chocolate mint ice cream was freaking fantastic, which is all the more surprising (to me anyway) because I pretty much made up the recipe myself and was a little nervous about how it would turn out. My mint plant hadn’t been producing very much, so I thought it might not be minty enough. That was not a problem at all. This ice cream was refreshing and creamy and made me very very happy when I was stressed out.

Chocolate and Fresh Mint Ice Cream

  • 1 c. whole milk
  • 3/4 c. sugar
  • a pinch of salt
  • 3/4 c. fresh mint, roughly chopped
  • 2 c. heavy cream
  • 3 T. unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 5 oz. semisweet chocolate
  • 5 large egg yolks
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

Warm the milk, sugar, and a pinch of salt in a small sauce pan until just about to boil. Remove the pan from the heat, stir in the mint, cover the pan, and let it sit to steep for an hour.

Warm 1 cup of the heavy cream and the cocoa powder, whisking constantly so it blends well. Bring it just to a boil, and then reduce the heat and simmer the cream and cocoa for about 30 seconds, whisking all the while. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the chocolate, stirring until it’s nice and smooth. Then stir in the remaining cup of heavy cream.

Strain the mint mixture and rewarm it. In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg yolks. Slowly pour the warm milk into the egg, whisking and whisking and whisking, the scrape the eggy milky mix back into the saucepan.

Stir it constantly over medium heat, scraping the bottom, until the mixture is thick and coats the back of your spoon or spatula. Pour the custard through a strainer and into the chocolate mixture, and then stir in a bit of vanilla extra. Chill it all up and then process it in your ice cream maker until you have lots of chocolatey, minty deliciousness to savor. How’s that for my first ad hoc home grown ice cream recipe?

Chocolate Fresh Mint Ice Cream

What else has been going on in the kitchen, you wonder? Oh, so many things. I made the No-Knead Bread again, and this time I used a new pot I bought specially for the purpose: a lovely brown ceramic dish with a lid, heavy and smooth and just the right size for a loaf of bread.  This was the best incarnation of No Knead Bread that has yet come out of my kitchen, and I’m excited to try some other recipes with the new pot.

Bread

I attempted to recreate one of my favorite pasta dishes, Cavatappi Affumicati from Papa Razzi: roasted eggplant, tomatoes, and smoked mozzarella. I didn’t get it quite right, and the pictures were even less right, so I won’t elaborate too much more on that one. You can expect to see future attempts, though. I think I’m going to have to go there for dinner again sometime soon, you know, just to remind myself exactly what this delicious eggplant pasta is like. For research purposes.

And last week? Last week I decided it would be a good idea to spend two hours making wontons. And you know what? It was totally worth it.

Wontons waiting for the fire

Once when I was younger my parents and their friends, the Valdivias, made wontons and I remember them being some of the most delicious things I’d ever had. I’ve been dreaming about them for months, but when I asked my mom and Dave Valdivia for the recipe, they couldn’t quite remember what was in them, so I attempted to recreate them myself. I made so many wontons. I had trays and trays of wontons, and had to stick half of them in the freezer for future use because there was just no way I and Mr. X and Amelia Bedelia could have eaten all those wontons ourselves. This was just the small pile:

Fried wontons

I have to say this was one of my best culinary triumphs, having pulled a “recipe” completely out of my ass and not knowing what I was doing at all. These were terrific and I’m excited that I still have about twenty of the things in the freezer, just waiting for another day when I need fried pork dumplings to make me feel better.

Pork Wontons

  • 1 lb. ground pork
  • 1 carrot, very finely chopped
  • 1 stalk celery, also very finely chopped (I used a food processor to get them all into very small bits)
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 T. fish sauce
  • 2 tsp. soy sauce
  • 1 T. rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp. sesame oil
  • a few drops of chili oil
  • wonton wrappers (I used a whole package of probably about 40 or 50).
  • about 1 1/2 to 2 c. canola oil

This is actually not very difficult, it’s just time consuming, wrapping all the little bits of pork into each individual wrapper. I didn’t really figure out the nifty pleating kind of method that would have made them very Authentic, but they were wonderful just the same.

Mix the pork with all the rest of the ingedients, minus the wonton wrappers and the canola oil. Try to mix it well without brutalizing the pork too much. Then just put about a teaspoon of pork into each wrapper and seal them up with water. I had a little of the pork mixture left over, which I stuck in the freezer. I think I’m going to make an Asian-style pork burger one of these nights.  Yeahhhh.

Once all your little wontons are folded and formed, heat the oil in a deep pot or wok. When it’s nice and hot, just toss the suckers in, about four or five at a time, depending on how big your pot it. They need to cook for about two or three minutes, and you might want to turn them over with some tongs halfway through. Then just fish them out, let them drain on some paper towels, and continue with the rest of your frying.

We at them with a ginger flavored soy sauce and some kind of spicy ginger dipping sauce. And we were happy.

So as you can see, I’m not starving, and I’m still eating relatively healthy food, even. I haven’t resorted to take out every night yet, though I have allowed myself to feel guilt free about the occasional frozen Trader Joe’s dinner (um, yeah, I had frozen pizza tonight).

Next week I’m going to try to make a stuffed squash that looks spectacular, and maybe some chicken marsala. And I promise I won’t make you wait two and a half weeks for it.

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. EmilyC permalink
    October 1, 2007 11:46 am

    You know how much I love ice cream, and reading about your ice cream escapades is so much fun. That chocolate mint flavor sounds delicious! It could be dangerous, but maybe I’ll ask for an ice cream maker for Christmas…..

  2. October 2, 2007 10:08 am

    The ice cream looks fantastic!
    And seeing your bread reminds me that I need to make some no-knead again, it’s a favourite around here.

  3. crystalbrooke permalink
    October 4, 2007 3:55 am

    You’re back! Hurray! I can’t decide if I’m thrilled to see you back on your blog, or if I’m sad about all of the great food that I’m missing. Those wontons look kickass. And the ice cream? Man, torture…

  4. September 10, 2009 8:08 am

    Hi! I was surfing and found your blog post… nice! I love your blog. :) Cheers! Sandra. R.

  5. November 9, 2009 1:26 am

    Great post and some great tips to see…

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