Monday, December 30, 2013

Quick New Years Stir-fry

Been a busy holiday around here. But never fear. I have something super tasty, beautifully colored, healthy and, most importantly, easy for you to whip up during a busy time.

[What you need]
Olive oil
3 cloves garlic
1 head bok choy
1 head cauliflower (We used purple cauliflower, but any color will do. You have to admit the purple give it a certain something though)
~ 12 oz of shitake mushrooms

[What to do]

  1. Press the garlic and let it sit a few moments as the oil heats up then add it to the pan.
  2. Chop the bok choy, adding the stalks to the pan first (they take longer to cook) then the leaves
  3. Chop and add cauliflower and mushrooms
  4. Cover and simmer for about 5-8 minutes
See? Easy! Perfect for the night when you're tired of cooking elaborate holiday meals

Monday, December 16, 2013


Picture, if you will, your favorite childhood candy. Maybe, like my madre, your mind goes to miniature Tootsie Rolls or, like my sister, you're thinking of the ever allusive Zero bar. For me, there are two candies which make my mouth water with nostalgic joy. One is dark chocolate. One is nougat. Both involve almonds. I really don't know if I can stress enough how much I love almonds.

One of these can be found in just about any corner of the world. The other...I have only ever seen in grocery stores that specifically market themselves as "Italian". Because of the lack of such stores in the little nook of the world I find myself in, I've decided to whip up a batch on my own for the holidays.

It turned out to be a lot harder than I thought it would be.

The recipes I found were simple enough. The problem was: it takes a long time and a lot of patience, two things I never really seem to have in spades. If I had to watch a bunch of thermometers and jump back and forth between pots like my other candy making adventures require, I actually might have found this easier. In reality, making Torrone is a highly meditative chemistry lesson ideal for the day I had this Saturday when we snowed in anyway.

Adapted from Dellalo and Food52

[What you need]
12 oz of honey (about 1 1/2 cups)
4 cups of whole almonds
3 egg whites
flavoring to taste (a box of Torrone from the store will come with vanilla, lemon, and orange. Lemon is my favorite so I used it exclusively, but feel free to get creative.)
1 1/4 cup powdered suger (optional: for the impatient among us.)
2 sheets ostia wafer paper (which can be found here - honestly, I just used rice paper for my first batch. I mainly include the more traditional detail for the fun story my madre tells in which she and her sisters used to peel the paper off the nougats and "play communion" when they were young.)

[What to do]
1.Set up a double boiler system and pour in the honey. Cook until it is clearly of a liquid consistency, stirring frequently. This took me around an 1 1/2 hours.
2. In the meantime, roast the almonds. Put them on a rimmed baking sheet in the oven (at around 350 degrees F.)  for 10-15 minutes.
3. Beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form. This step is crucial, do not rush it. The eggs are the binder that bring the whole thing together.
4. Fold the egg whites into the honey. Continue folding until the mixture becomes thick and somewhat caramel-like. This step, also crucial, takes a long time. I, personally, almost gave up on it, thinking that it would never set. Don't panic. Just stir. (If you find that you can't deal with this any longer, add the powdered sugar. It will help thicken things up; however, the candy will no longer be authentic.)
5. Fold in the almonds and flavoring. The mixture should be thick enough that the almonds don't all sink immediately.
6. Line a baking dish with wafer paper and pour the mixture in. Place another wafer paper on top and press down with your hands or other weight. Set aside for at least an hour while it firms up; it may take longer.
7. To serve, flip it over and cut the nougat into squares.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Comfort Food: Slow Cooker Beef Roast

I offer my apologies for the missed post last week and the lateness of this post. You see, I've been doing a lot of cooking lately, but I have forgotten to take pictures. That means we've missed out on some great stuff, but never fear. I will make them a second time, just for all of your benefit. Especially now that I've learned, thanks to Thanksgiving, that people are actually reading this. [I'm still trying to figure out the comments section. I'll let you know when I have that sorted out.]

So without further adieu, a childhood favorite and a good meal for very lazy days: The Slow Cook Beef Roast.

The best thing about this meal is not even the ease of it. It's the smell. Coming home to the smell of this delightful meal simmering away is heavenly. Even more so on freezing winter days like the past few have been.

All it takes is a few vegetables, beef stock, and a beef roast (Just about any cut will do. It will be cooking so long that it will be plenty tender. I assure you.)

Slow Cooker Beef Roast
via (to the best of my knowledge) mi madre

[What you need]
Cut of Beef
Beef Stock or Broth (enough to pretty much cover the roast)
A slow cooker

[What to do]
1. Season the Beef with salt and pepper then add to slow cooker
2. Chop up the various vegetables and add them around the roast.
3. Cover this in stock/broth
4. Cook on low for about 8 hours
5. (and don't forget this step, it's crucial) At some point in that 8 hour period, leave and then come home so you can enjoy that smell.

See? Wasn't that easy?