Bakin’ with Bacon


The twenty-first entry proper: today Food in Mind reaches drinking age! YEAHHHHHHHHHHHHHH…..

This installment is dedicated to bacon. There will probably be more installments in the future also dedicated to bacon, but this is the first. Vegetarians, tree huggers, vegans, and practicing Muslims: cover your eyes, hold your noses, lock your doors, and pucker up your assholes, because you know that sweet, sweet scent of savory smoked pork will rape you senseless. The only thing better than lust and gluttony is the lust of gluttony.

There are three items in all, listed in order of difficulty. None of them are particularly difficult though, so be bold!

Stage 1: The Elvis Sandwich

He's the King in a country that shunned monarchy. Go figure.

Ingredients:

1 ripe banana
3-6 strips of bacon*
peanut butter
2 slices bread

*3 strips of bacon for single layer, 6 for double layer of bacon. You may also wish to consider a teaspoon of honey if you are going for double layer.

Elvis has a sandwich named after him? Fuck yeah. It’s reputedly his favorite sandwich, according to his mother no less. Making it is easy.

Fry up your bacon strips until they are crispy. Slather one slice of bread with peanut butter on one side; top with banana slices. Place crispy bacon strips on top of the bananas. The sweetness of bananas are a nice balance to a single layer of bacon. However, if you wish to use double the bacon, I recommend drizzling a teaspoon of honey over the bacon. Cover with second slice of bread, and toast both sides of the sandwich in a pan until golden brown. Slice (or not) depending on preference and eat.

Stage 2: Yorkshire Pudding

NOTE: Yorkshire Pudding should be served as soon as possible and consumed within 30 minutes of production. Take this into account when timing your cooking.

What do you do with all the rendered bacon grease from frying your bacon? Throw it away? NO! Of course not. You’d find other ways to clog your arteries with it. Enter Yorkshire pudding. I have no idea where Yorkshire is, but their pudding is pretty decent. Recipe adapted from here with additional research and testing.

Yorkshire, it's New York except for hobbits.

Ingredients:

3/4 cups milk
3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3 eggs
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup bacon grease (Most likely less)
1 muffin/cupcake mold

Yorkshire pudding is essentially equal parts milk and flour with eggs and a little salt, fried in an oven. The ingredients are simple, so the key is in the execution.

If you're thinking you'll never eat this because it's unhealthy, it's probably time to get off your ass and go for a run.

Preheat your oven to 425F-450F. Stick your empty muffin mold into the oven. The temperature varies depending on your oven, so experiment with both settings.

Measure out your flour and crack two eggs over it. Mix together to form a wet dough. Crack the third egg and mix some more to form a thick batter. Add a teaspoon of salt. Dump in all of your milk to create a very thin batter.

I used skim milk because I'm so health conscious!

Once your oven has reached its target temperature, remove the hot muffin mold and pour a thin layer of bacon grease into each mold. Many recipes tell you to pour as much as 1 cm of oil into each mold, but I find that you do not need nearly as much oil. Too much oil will result in lakes of grease within your puddings.

Return the mold to the oven until the oil is very hot, about 20-30 seconds. Then take the mold back out again, and pour about 4 tablespoons of batter into each mold. Don’t fill the mold entirely! This pudding puffs up like a wolf that’s about to blow your house down.

Is there anything that isn't called a pudding by the Brits? Christmas pudding, vanilla pudding, bread pudding, Yorkshire pudding, all of these things are nothing alike one another

Bake the puddings for about 15 minutes, or until golden brown. Serve immediately.

Stage 3: Breakfast Pizza

Ate this for lunch the other day. By white middle class standards I'm a rebel.

Dough (for ~15 inch pie)*

2 cups all-purpose flour
1.5 tsp yeast
1.5 tsp salt
2/3 cup warm water**
1/2 tbsp sugar

Topping

2 eggs, scrambled
5 strips of crispy bacon, cut into small pieces
1/2 cups shredded cheese***
1/3 medium onion, diced and either sauteed or caramelized
thin slices of tomato (optional)

*You can use store-bought dough, but where’s the fun in that?
**Water should be between 110F and 118F (~45C to 48C) for optimal yeast activation. It can be cooler, but do not go over this temperature lest you kill the yeast cells.
***Mozzarella is optimal, but I only had cheddar. It still works. A combination of both is also super.

Begin with the dough. Measure out 1/3 cups of warm water, yeast, sugar, and 1/2 cups of flour into a container. Loosely cover the container and let sit in a warm area for about 20 minutes. This will proof the yeast to make sure that it works; you should see pockmarks where air bubbles have surfaced in the mixture.

Yeast infections are so delicious

Dump your remaining flour and water into this mixture as well as the salt. Mix together a bit, and get your hands into the mixture until all the water is absorbed and you have a dough. Knead this dough for about 8-10 minutes on a floured surface until it is smooth and elastic. Pour about a tablespoon of oil into a pot. Roll your ball of dough around in the pot to cover it with oil. Cover the pot and let it sit somewhere warm for about two hours.

A left testicle

It's so shiny! Stick it into a socketed weapon to confer bonus damage against the undead

Meanwhile, get started on a filling. Shred your cheese, chop your onions and bacon, scramble your eggs. For the bacon, I prefer cutting it first before frying; some people recommend doing this the other way around.

Bacon

Don't be a dumbass like me: try to buy bacon as lean as possible so your pieces don't shrivel up once the fat is rendered out.

For the onions, I was going to caramelize them but decided against it since caramelizing onions take such a long time. Feel free to use caramelized onions if you happen to have some on hand or are already going to make a large batch.

For the eggs, well, here’s a picture of how mine turned out:

Egg

The black specks are the dried ground pieces of a rare dung beetle species found in India. They're optional.

Let all the ingredients cool once you have cooked them. Once cooled, assemble everything except for the tomato slices in a dish. Mix evenly.

Chopped Bacon

If you got to this step but became too lazy to carry on for whatever reason, these things are all great between toast or inside a breakfast burrito.

When your dough is ready, gently press some of the air out of it and remove it from the pot.

Dough

IT'S BIGFOOT

Pre-heat your oven to 500F, or as high as most ovens will go. It’ll take a while.

Pat the dough into the desired shape of your pie. Resist the urge to play around with the dough too much. It’s wonderfully elastic, but you can still run the risk of having it become too thin in certain areas, or worse, punching a hole through the dough.

Pizza

Yo dawg, I heard you like toppings so I made two toppings so you could top your topping while you're topping your pizza.

Place the dough onto your baking sheet/pie pan/stone slab and top with your bacon/cheese/onion/egg mixture. Place the tomato slices on top of your topping. Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until cheese is melted and the crust is golden.

Pizza

It certainly beats your tofurkey omelet made with egg whites from a carton and your soylent green side salad. Real men eat real food.

Slice and serve however you like.

Conclusion

Mmmm, bacon. I came, I cooked, and I ate. Its possibilities are limitless, its power level, over nine thousand. Sure, you could fry them and eat them straight up, but why do that when you can combine them with so many other tasty things? If you love bacon, you owe it to yourself to diversify your bacon consuming methods. Be bold!

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Mini-Quiches


Mini Quiche. What is that? Well, it’s like smaller quiche. Basically what happened is that asparagus was on sale, and I splurged on some bacon and some cheese, but I wasn’t willing to spend money on a proper pie tin. All I have is this muffin mold. So while the ingredients were not completely ghetto, I’m still stuck in the ghetto mindset. Shortcoming in tools and ingredients are no match for a cheap-assed imagination.

Ingredients

"Quiche" comes from an old French word meaning "very complex way to get fat".

Crust*

1 cup 2 tbsp All-purpose Flour
3 tbsp Butter/Margarine, cold
1/2 tsp Salt
4 tbsp Milk
1 stick Green Onion, finely chopped

Filling

Asparagus Spears, diced
Bacon Strips, cut into small pieces
2/3 cups Cheddar/Gruyere**
1/4 onion***
1 cup half-and-half
2 eggs
Salt
Pepper

*Crust adapted from this helpful website. I read through several recipes for crusts specifically tailored for quiches. There is another recipe here that calls for using creme fraiche/sour cream, but since I do not use either often I opted for this recipe. The dairy component seems to be what is important from these recipes anyways, so milk is just fine. This crust recipe makes 4 small crusts, or one large 9-inch crust. However, the filling is enough for either one large pie, or 12 small pies. Plan accordingly.
**Cheddar is cheaper here. Gruyere, Swiss, Parmesan, and even goat cheese can work, Experiment to see what is right for you.
***Not pictured. Optional.

Procedure

You should start with the crust. Measure out flour into a container and add salt. Cut cold butter into small pieces. Using a fork, incorporate the butter into the flour. Mash the butter into the flour with your fork until they are in small pieces. Add finely chopped scallions and mix together.

I'd say I'm "sharing" this recipe with you. If I were French, I would be "surrendering" this recipe to you. A small technicality.

Slowly add the milk a tablespoon at a time. I found that four tablespoons of milk is only barely enough to hold all the flour together into a ball. Use your fingers to roll all of the flour into a ball of dough. Refrigerate this ball for an hour.

If you are French and were offended by the above remark, remember that since I'm Chinese it's only natural I'd reproduce a cheap knockoff of your product and flood the market with it.

Meanwhile, cut your bacon into small pieces and dice your asparagus and onion. Over medium heat, cook the onions and bacon pieces together for about fifteen minutes. Drain bacon fat (but don’t throw it away! More on why in a future entry ;)) then continue cooking. Add asparagus, salt and pepper to taste, and cook for five more minutes. Remove from heat and let cool.

Jessica Alba. Naked.

If you are Chinese and were offended by the above remark, remember that since I live in the US I'm naturally tainted by Western ideology and biased against Chinese traditions. Not that rampant piracy is a tradition.

By the time your pastry dough has been in the refrigerator for an hour, your asparagus and bacon mixture should have cooled to near room temperature. The cooling is important because you will eventually pour a cold custard mixture over this asparagus, and you would not want hot asparagus to instantly cook the egg in your custard. Add shredded cheese to this cooled mixture and mix thoroughly.

Take your pastry dough out. If you are making a single pie, roll the dough out flat on a floured surface to roughly 1/4 inch thick. Press it into a buttered 9-inch pie pan and trim off the edges. If you are making mini-quiches like me, divide the ball of dough into four with a knife. Roll each section out, cut with a circular cutter, and press into your buttered muffin/cupcake tins. Try to make some kind of consistent pattern with the rims of the pie crust using your fingers.

Your mother, naked.

If you're from the West and are offended by my use of "taint" and "western ideology" in the same sentence, remember that like human beings, giant pandas also have opposable thumbs.

Preheat your oven to 350 F. Beat the two eggs together then add your cup of half-and-half. Salt and pepper to taste (about 1/2 tsp salt) and whisk until smooth. This is your custard. Spoon about two tablespoons of asparagus/bacon/onion into each pie dish and fill with custard. Leave about 1/4 inch of space for the custard to expand during the baking process.

At this point the dough feels, smells, and most likely tastes a lot like play-doh.

Bake! If you are making a 9-inch pie, bake for about 45 minutes, checking first at 35 minutes and then regularly afterwards. If you are making mini-quiches, bake for about 30 minutes, checking first at 25 minutes. The quiche is done when a knife/toothpick inserted into the custard comes out clean, and pressing on the custard yields no spurting fluids.

Man, these quiches look totally baked.

Let your pies cool for about 10-15 minutes before serving warm.

The Result

Always remember that France is Bacon.

4.5 / 5 The last time I ate quiche was some 12 years ago, made by someone else. No joke. Quiche tastes pretty good though. I’m certain I’ve nailed the filling down. The custard is tender and savory, neither under nor over-cooked. Asparagus, bacon, and onion is a wonderful flavor combination. It seems that I still have some improving to do with the crust though. A ghetto cook’s work is never complete.

Conclusion

In conclusion, I conclude that this is the conclusion to this twentieth installment of Food in Mind. As this series moves forward, I will slowly expand outwards from the core of ultra-ghetto ingredients in order to bring you, my dear readers, increasingly complex, tasty, and wonderful dishes. This is just the tip of the iceberg, the first steps on a long journey. Please continue to read and comment!

Banana & Pudding Pastry


Hello readers. It is once again time for you to join me on a cheap, cheap journey into the possibilities of cooking with the cheapest ingredients. Did I mention cheap?

Recently I’ve started to learn how to make pastries n’ shit. What I’ve learned is that it’s mostly all about the crust. A good crust is what makes or breaks pastries. Coincidentally, blueberries were on sale at Safeway recently: 6 oz package for a dollar. I bought a package and made some el cheapo blueberry tarts for my first-ever attempt at pastry making. While they didn’t exactly come out bad (edible, at least), they weren’t great by any measure. You can learn a lot by making mistakes.

Here’s take two: a very simple tart put together by a novice at the craft. A tart shell filled with a sweet creamy pudding, topped with fresh fruit.

Ingredients

Ingredients

A couple of ingredients weren't able to make it into the picture due to... extenuating circumstances. See below for full disclosure.

Crust:

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 egg yolk
~4 tbsp cold (ice) water
6 tbsp cold butter*

Filling:

1 cup skim milk
1/2 cup coconut milk
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp butter
3 tbsp flour OR 1 1/2 tbsp corn starch
2 tbsp sugar
4 tbsp dulce de leche**

fresh banana, diced***

YOU WILL ALSO NEED: Some kind of mold (muffin/cupcake mold is fine), parchment paper or aluminum foil, a rolling pin OR rolling pin substitute some beans/rice/coins

*It’s very important that the butter and water both be cold. Pastry experts even recommend running your hands under cold water so that your fingers do not melt the butter. Do not, under any circumstances, attempt to substitute warm water and butter.
**Leftovers from a previous entry. Replace with 3 tbsp of sugar if you don’t have any.
***Bananas oxidize (turn brown) after a while, so don’t dice these immediately. If you’re not prepared to spray lemon juice all over your bananas, it’s best to simply dice them just before serving.

Operating Procedure

Let’s begin with the pastry crust. Measure out your flour into a container. Add salt and sugar. Add cold butter. You may wish to cut the cold butter into cubes beforehand; if not, take a knife and cut it into pieces. in the container. Now, either with a fork or a food processor, begin breaking the butter into smaller pieces and incorporating it into the flour. I recommend using a fork so that your fingers do not melt the butter. You want to incorporate the butter until the mixture looks somewhat like bread crumbs:

I was going to call these tarts but that might be misconstrued. You know, for your mom. Just kidding.

At some point, if forking is too tedious, you can lightly use your fingertips to work the butter into the flour. Do this gently though. When this is done, crack open an egg and separate out the egg yolk. Deposit the yolk into a bowl. Measure out 4 tbsp of ice water into that bowl and whisk to combine. Now, slowly pour the yolk water mixture into your flour mixture. Do not add all of the mixture!!! You only need enough to bring all of the flour together into a ball. I find that in most cases you’ll still have about half a tablespoon of extra liquid left.

Do you, pastry crust, take this pudding to be your filling? I dough.

Refrigerate the dough for an hour. Onto the filling. Melt 1 tbsp of butter in a small pot at medium heat. Dump your 3 tbsp of flour or 1 1/2 tbsp cornstarch into the butter and mix completely. Slowly add the milk one tablespoon at a time while stirring until you have smoothly incorporated one-half cup of milk. Then slowly add the second half-cup of milk, and finally the last half-cup of coconut milk. Add all of the sugar at this point (2 or 5 tablespoons, depending on if you have dulce de leche). Stir the mixture continuously as it cooks to prevent the bottom layer from solidifying. Cook for roughly 15 minutes.

Technically you can make the pudding without butter at all, but this method ensures that you do not get lumps. If you prefer not to use butter, you can use the method entailed above by stirring in only milk, but you will need to strain the mixture in the end to remove lumps.

Shiny white liquids have a habit of making it into my blogs.

The pudding may look a little thin when it is hot, but it will thicken as it cools. Take the finished pudding off the heat, while stirring continuously. You can quicken the cooling process by submerging the bottom half of your pot into a shallow pan filled with cool water. This will let you cool the pudding without having a layer of film develop on the pudding surface. Incorporate the dulce de leche at this point. Once the pudding has stopped steaming, cover and refrigerate.

Pudding

Dulce de leche mixed in. You should try a spoonful at this point, it tastes pretty good.

Once your pastry dough has cooled for an hour, you can start working with it again. Take it out and cut the dough in half. Then cut each half into fifths. Each fifth can be rolled out flat to make a tart shell. Refrigerate the pieces that you won’t use, they’ll keep for a few days.

Take out your tart/cupcake mold and lightly butter the molds. Lightly flour your work surface. Roll each piece of dough out to roughly 3/16 inches or 1/2 cm thick. Use a circular cutter or a small bowl/large mug to cut out the circles and fill each buttered mold with the shaped pieces.

Bake

Top secret leaked photo of pastry construction process. The CIA are on their way to your house right now.

Try to be gentle with the dough and prod/press it as little as possible with your finger tips. Once you have the molds filled, whip out some aluminum foil or parchment paper and cut them into squares. Stuff your pastry shells with foil/paper then weigh them down with some non-combustible stuff. There are special ceramic baking weights you can buy for this purpose, but you probably don’t have those if you’re reading this. I used rice, you can use beans. You can even use spare change, although that is a rather dirty option, and the heat conductivity of the metal may adversely affect your dough.

The only thing I don't like about aluminum and rice pastries is that the aluminum tends to stick in the teeth.

Refrigerate the whole weighted contraption for 15-20 minutes. Pre-heat your oven to 400F/200C. As soon as the oven has hit your temperature, transfer weighted mold from refrigerator directly to oven. Bake for about seven minutes. Remove the mold from the oven, take the weights out, then bake for about three more minutes. Remove mold from the oven for the second time and let it cool.

Once cooled, remove pastry shells from the molds.

Speaking of stuffing pie holes...

Fill each pastry shell close to the brim with your chilled pudding, then top with bananas. Serve immediately.

The Result

Tart

I've recently noticed that people like to photograph certain foods at a slant because they think it looks more stylish. It takes too much work though, having to tilt the whole house sideways, glue the plate to the table, and then having to glue the food to the plate.

4.4 / 5 Hrmm? I’ve overcome all of the flaws of my first attempt at tart making. The crust is thinner, the pudding is sweeter and has a full flavor. It’s pretty good as a tart, and my room mate has told me as much. The problem (to me) seems to be that the type of crust isn’t quite correct for this type of tart. I shall experiment further in the future. Meanwhile, I am satisfied with this creation considering how many different variations of pastry crusts exist in this world. Mission accomplished, in a sense that is somewhere between George Bush’s definition of these words and everyone else’s definition.

Conclusion

It is time to say goodbye once again. Pastry making is the beginning of a long and promising adventure for me. As for the recipe, you can really take it apart and use the crust and the pudding separately for your own creations. The pudding is great as a stand-alone dish. And the shells, well, there are many ways to stuff a pie hole.

Side Dishes


Variety is good. No one wants to just eat only a pot roast and nothing else for a meal. You want something on the side to distract you and amuse you in between giant bites of whatever it is that is the centerpiece. This Food in Mind entry is dedicated to these side dishes. There are four in all. Feel free to try one, four, or none at all.

Tier One: Yogurt

White like snow that hasn't been peed on. Except for that one spot that's slightly yellowish in hue. It's not what you think.

Didn’t see this one coming, did ya? I mean, you can buy yogurt from the store and all. And to even [i]make[/i] yogurt, you need to buy a small container of yogurt from the store as a starter. Well, this entry is really for either those who wish to consume yogurt and save a dollar or two, or those who enjoy trying to make everything with their own bare hands.

Ingredients:
Milk (anything from skim to whole is fine)
Small can of yogurt
Stove
Pot

First of all, you will need a small container of yogurt from the store. Feel free to buy the smallest container you can find. Plain yogurt is recommended so that you end up with a pot of neutral yogurt with which to customize to your heart’s content. The most important thing to look for is that the yogurt contains [i]Live and Active Cultures[/i]:

Live cultures

The logo we have stateside.

This means that there are active yogurt bacteria inside that will help you kick-start your own yogurt. So here’s what you do: First, pour however much milk into a pot as the amount of yogurt you wish to make. I used half a gallon of skim milk. Heat the milk up on the stove, and bring the milk to almost a boil. Try to stir every now and then to prevent a layer of burnt milk from building on the bottom of the pot. If you have a thermometer, the key temperature is 185F, or 85C. The milk must reach at least this temperature to prepare the milk proteins for transformation into yogurt.

Once milk has reached this temperature, remove from heat. You should wait for the milk to cool to roughly 110F or 43.3C. Pour your container of yogurt into the pot of milk and stir. Store this concoction in a relatively warm place. This may be difficult to do in the winter months. What I usually do is strategically time yogurt-making to coincide with when I bake or roast, and let the pot sit on top of the warm oven. A half-gallon of milk will need at least 8-10 hours to turn into yogurt. You do not need the temperature to stay exactly at 110F, but significantly cooler temperatures such as room temperature will severely hamper your yogurt culture.

The only proof I have that this is yogurt instead of milk is that the pear slices rest on top of the yogurt. Either that or they're Jesus pears.

After 8-10 hours have passed, you should be able to see results. A successful yogurt attempt will show a glossy surface within the pot, almost like tofu. Refrigerate the yogurt and enjoy as you please.

Tier Two: Tuna Salad

Looks like something fishy is going on.

Ingredients:

2 cans tuna, drained
diced celery, roughly 1/3 inch pieces
carrots, cut into strips of similar diameter to celery, then sliced thinly
fresh parsley
2 tbsp mayonnaise
1 tbsp dijon mustard
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp lemon juice
salt
pepper

Combine all ingredients. Chill for an hour before serving. Tuna salad makes a great sandwich filling between two slices of toasted bread. The lemon juice might be a bit tart for some, but is essential if you plan to make sandwiches. It allows the flavors of the salad to pierce through the dry bread.

Tier Three: Mashed Potatoes

The gravy train derailed so we're gonna have to go solo.

Familiar territory for a lot of people probably. This is just my own preferences, feel free to share your own take in the comments 🙂

Ingredients:

Potatoes (Russet, the cheapest variety, is perfect for this type of dish)
butter
salt
pepper
dried parsley
garlic powder
milk/cream

Fill a pot with enough water to submerge your potatoes. Add a dash of salt and bring to a boil. Meanwhile, peel and cut potatoes. If you are using relatively new potatoes with fresh skin, you can opt to keep the skin on one or two of the potatoes. The skin will provide a nice rustic texture to your mash. My personal preference is to cut the potatoes into 2/3 inch blocks or so.

Dump cut potatoes into boiling water. Cooking time depends on the size of your pieces, but mine are cooked thoroughly in about 15 minutes. You will want to cook your potatoes thoroughly, since nothing is worse than undercooked chunks in your mash. Drain the potatoes. Add all of the seasonings, butter, and cream. Garlic is an essential addition. If you can make roast garlic, it is amazing in mashed potatoes. Otherwise, powder is fine. Milk or cream help soften your mash and improve its texture. Cream is obviously tastier, while milk is healthier. I tend to favor a softer mash (more milk/cream) that can still stand on itself.

Mash the potatoes with a spoon. I don’t quite understand why people use specialized mashing tools, since it takes only about a minute to produce the desired mash with a spoon. My preference is for a slightly chunky mash, but any consistency is possible given time and effort. Serve warm.
Tier Four: Glazed Carrots

It's 24-carrot solid vegetable.

Carrots and onions are two vegetables that are almost always present in my kitchen because they’re two of the cheapest vegetables sold in grocery stores. They are also flavorful and nutritious, which makes being poor easy.

Ingredients:

carrots
fresh parsley leaves
2 tbsp white granulated sugar
1 tbsp butter
salt

Begin by making a caramel. Pour your sugar into a pan at medium heat and let the sugar slowly melt. Do not add anything else. Meanwhile, prepare your carrots by slicing them into bite-sized pieces and tearing the leaves of parsley from their stems.

What came first, the carrot or the stick?

When the sugar has melted and turned into a beautiful deep amber color, melt your butter into it. Try to make sure that the butter is at least room temperature beforehand; this will prevent the formation of sugar lumps in your caramel. If your butter is still cold, microwave it for 10-15 seconds before adding it into the sugar. Mix into a sauce.

Add your carrots. Again, if your carrots are cold, their contact with your caramel may result in lumps. This isn’t too much of a problem for how much carrots I had, since I still had more than enough caramel to coat all the carrots. If you really care about not having lumps, you can try tempering your carrots by first submerging them in boiling water for a while. Add salt to taste.

Cook the carrots until desired consistency. For me, I like the carrots not completely soft, but not completely crispy, which is about ten minutes uncovered. If you like your carrots cooked completely soft, you may wish to cover your carrots with a lid and let them steam.

When the carrots are done, remove from heat and stir in parsley leaves. Serve warm.

Carrot Cake


“Let them eat cake”. These words are famously (and falsely, according to scholars) attributed to Marie Antoinette when she was told that the peasants of France did not have bread to eat.

Well. I’m not starving, but I am pretty ghetto. Such is the state of the world today, when even the poor can eat cake. Carrot cake, specifically. Perhaps if Marie Antoinette were alive today her words would only have been a political gaffe and not so guillotine worthy.

Before we begin, I should clarify that there are actually two items involved in this installment, the cake and the sauce (dulce de leche). The cake requires about half an hour of prep time and an hour to bake. The sauce, while not very difficult, takes approximately three hours of total time to make. Plan accordingly.

Ingredients

Some cakes are lies, but not all lies are cakes.

Cake (for a small pot. Double everything for a 9×13 cake pan):

2 eggs
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cups sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
5/8 cups vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups grated carrots
Optional chopped nuts

Dulce de Leche:

1 can condensed milk
water
1 clean sock*

*You don’t actually need a sock specifically. Clarified instructions below.

Cooking

Part 1: Dulce de Leche

Let’s start by making dulce de leche, which takes a long time. Dulce de leche is basically made by boiling a can of condensed milk for two hours until the sugars caramelize. You will need a pot deep enough to completely contain the can while it is completely submerged in water. You will also need some form of padding between the can’s metal surfaces and the pot surface, as direct contact for long periods of time can cause your pot to rust.

Cue MacGuyver music

An old sock is my solution, as it completely covers the can and allows me to cook the can horizontally, lowering the height requirement for the pot. Stick your can into the sock and tuck the excess underneath. Place this contraption into the pot and submerge completely in water.

You can just put a sock in it.

The submersion is important because it helps equalize the pressure inside the can. If you just heat the can without submerging it, the can may explode, cause injury, and most importantly, possibly lower the reader count on my blog. Bring the water to a boil, turn the heat low, and simmer the can for two hours. You should check every 20 minutes and replenish any evaporated water.

The Bau$$ of Sau$$es

Dump the contents out of the can into a bowl or container, and stir in enough milk or water to create a smooth, creamy caramel sauce.

Part 2: Cake

Start by shredding your carrots, either with a shredder, a knife, or a food processor. You will need about three medium-large carrots to create the amount of shredded carrots necessary.

Pre-heat the oven to 350F. Combine all the dry ingredients together: flour, salt, sugar, cinnamon, and baking powder. Crack the two eggs into the dry mix and stir vigorously until almost all the flour is incorporated. Add the oil and vanilla and stir to make a thick homogenous batter. The egg yolk is the emulsifier that allows the oil to combine smoothly with everything else. Add the shredded carrots.

You ever wonder who was the first person to look at a carrot and think about how it could be worked into a cake?

Grease the bottom of the pot or pan that you are going to use. Pour the batter into the pot/pan and bake for roughly 45-60 minutes, or until a knife stuck into the cake comes out clean.

Carrot Cake

What niche craving do you think the carrot cake was meant to satisfy? All the millions of people in the world who desperately searched for a way to get their vitamin A and diabetes at the same time?

Let the cake sit for a few minutes before cutting and serving. Pour warm dulce de leche over cake slices, serve.

The Result

Cake with Sauce

Who needs bread when you have cake

4.5 / 5 The cake itself is pretty good. Aromatic, moist, though not quite dense enough for my tastes. But dulce de leche, it makes everything amazing. I almost choked myself stuffing my face full of that caramel drenched cake. You can dip everything from pretzels to fruit in that stuff. Try it over a weekend when you have some time. You won’t be disappointed.

Conclusion

These types of cake are really quite easy to make. The key is to pull the cake out of the oven as soon as a knife stuck into the cake comes out clean. This is an easy way to prevent the cake from becoming dry without a thermometer. I think the real challenge in cakes is in matching the appropriate type of cake with the appropriate type of cream or icing, and in the physical appearance of the cake. Hopefully I can progress onto more elaborate creations in the future.

Pan Fried Noodles


Welcome one and all to the 16th installment of Food in Mind! That’s right, sweet sixteen, the age at which teens start causing road accidents in the United States and three more installments than the number of times Square-Enix has misunderstood what the “Final” part of “Final Fantasy” actually means. We’ve almost reached the point where the Food in Mind blog will catch up with The Ghetto Cook in terms of entries.

This installment is not to be confused with the fourteenth entry, spicy fried noodles. Unlike spicy fried noodles, this is a dish where the noodles and the vegetables and meats are cooked separately from one another. Following these instructions, you should end up with a colorful stir fry nested in a bed of crispy noodles. Let’s move on to the cooking!

Ingredients

Ingredients

There are six ninjas in this picture. They are not ingredients in this dish.

Ingredients listed are for a single serving. Multiply amounts as you need.

Some Noodles*
Salt
Pepper
Sugar
Thai Peanut Satay Sauce**
Cooking Oil
1/2 green bell pepper
1/3 large onion
2 oz bamboo shoots
2 sprigs green onion
2 oz carrots, thinly sliced***
3 oz pork, cut into bite-sized strips

*READ THIS: Use a “soft noodle”, as in not an Italian pasta. Most noodles in an Asian market would work. I used angel hair pasta more as a proof of concept. It works, but is not ideal. You can even use instant ramen noodles. Instant ramen noodles have already been fried once, so this will be like twice-fried noodles. It has a nice rich crunch to it, almost like butter cookies.
**Any type of flavorful sauce would do, but this is nice. You can also use oyster sauce, hoisin sauce, a bunch of other sauces.
***Again, the varieties of vegetables can be changed depending on what you have on hand. Try to use crispy things.

Build Order

At least two hours before cooking, slice your meat into strips and marinate in Thai Satay Peanut Sauce, or whichever sauce you have on hand.

Marination in progress.

Granted, you could fish out something that looks like this from your nearest sewer grate, but it wouldn't taste nearly as good.

Fill a pot with water and a dash of salt, then bring the water to a boil. Cook noodles until al dente and drain.

In a separate sauce pan, pour out about three tablespoons of oil over medium heat. Salt noodles lightly and place them into the pan with oil. Let noodles sit.

Back when I was your age we had to walk barefoot knee deep in snow six miles up a steep hill carrying the baby brother on one shoulder and backpack on the other shoulder just to get to school, and we ate our noodles plain, like this.

These noodles will need to cook for at least ten minutes. If you have a ghetto assed stove like mine where the heating coil isn’t even level, you might need to rotate the pan every now and then to get even heat and oil coverage. Otherwise, do not touch or stir the noodles. They will start to get golden brown and crispy on the bottom (we’re only going to crisp up one side).

Meanwhile, slice and dice your vegetables into bite-sized pieces.

I'm guessing colorful vegetables only matter if you're not colorblind, or blind. You could technically use green beans, green onion, green bell pepper, asparagus, and snap peas and achieve a similar effect.

When the noodles are nice and crispy and golden brown on the bottom, remove and place somewhere where it can rest and be drained of oil. I used a plastic colander, but you can use anything, such as a cooling rack with something below it or a bed of paper towels (although the towels might stick to the noodles). There should still be oil left in the pan. This oil will be used for the stir fry.

Crank the heat up to as high as it can go. Stir fry carrots, onions, and bamboo shoots first for about five minutes. Add pork, salt, pepper, and sugar (about one tablespoon) to taste, and stir fry for about four more minutes. Finally, add green pepper and green onion. Stir fry for about one more minute, then remove from heat.

Taste the rainbow

Plate your noodles and heap the stir fry on top. Serve hot.

The Result

FRIED ALIIIIIIIIIIIIIVE

Much thanks to r.Evo from teamliquid.net for the re-touched photo!

4.5 / 5 First off, pasta really sucks in pan fried noodles. They dehydrate too much and become a bit too hard. Use Asian noodles. Hell, you can even use instant ramen, which works surprisingly well in this role. Second, the flavor is pretty good though: nice, rich, and oily. The noodles go great along with a flavorful stir fry.

Conclusion

This is a pretty easy dish to make. Pan fried noodles take very little work and stir fries are very easy to make. If there’s any dish that is easy to make yet still decently healthy, this is it. I highly recommend trying this dish if you are interested in Asian cuisine.

My First Avocado (Macaroni Salad)


Sup doods. Welcome to the fifteenth installment of Food in Mind, where you will (so far as the current installments go) learn how to make ghetto variations of non-ghetto dishes! This installment is dedicated the avocado: or more specifically, the first avocado I’ve ever purchased.

Now you may ask, “but Newbistic, why would any ghetto cook ever buy avocados? They’re upper middle class fruits if I’ve ever seen one, much like pomegranates, grapples, and berries”.

The thing is, when you grow up in a conservative Chinese family, avocados are basically the devil fruit. They’re universally panned as shitty fruits that just taste bad. I’ve eaten avocados here and there as parts of California rolls and guacamole, but never actually sat down with the fruit by itself to contemplate its flavor. As an aspiring cook, I wish to cast aside my Asian misconceptions and learn about the taste and applications of the avocado. So I bought one.

This is not the avocado I bought, but it looks helluva lot better than any picture my camera can take

It turns out that avocados basically taste like plant flavored butter. This is slightly confusing, since avocados aren’t used like butter in that they aren’t spread on toast, or melted in a pan to fry things. What the hell kind of dish actually requires the use of something soft, buttery, and plant-flavored?

I present to you the dish for this installment of Food in Mind: Macaroni Salad

Ingredients

Didn't do a spread but needed a picture here, so... The camera man was all like "okay, now look at the salad like it's giving you an orgasm. Yeahhhh just like that."

4 tbsp Mayonnaise
2 tbsp Dijon Mustard
Salt
Pepper
2 tbsp Sugar
1 tbsp Parsley (fresh preferred, dried is fine)
8 oz Elbow Macaroni (dried)
Diced 1/4 large onion (or 1/2 small)
Diced carrot
Diced 1/2 green bell pepper
Diced 2 celery stalks*
Diced tomato
1 large Avocado

*You really don’t need specifically all of these vegetables. Feel free to omit or substitute at will. Chunks of ham, bacon, or cubed boiled eggs can also be added. I do recommend at least retaining the celery, since its aroma is one of the key factors in a good macaroni salad.

Build Order

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil for the macaroni. Cook macaroni until al dente and set aside.

Meanwhile, begin with the avocado. I’ve never worked with avocados in my life, but I’ve watched enough food network to know how to dismantle one like a master. You will only need your avocado, a knife, and a cutting board. Begin by cutting in a circle around the avocado’s pit, lengthwise:

Is the avocado a tropical fruit? I don't want to sound gay, but George Carlin once said "show me a tropical fruit and I'll show you a cocksucker from Guatemala"

Twist both halves to dislodge the pit from one half. Then, hold the half with the pit in one hand and give the pit a good thwack with your knife. This should lodge the blade into the pit. Twist the pit to dislodge it from the second half.

Avocado

Sorry, that last caption was completely insensitive towards gay people. Here's another one: what is a gay horse's favorite food? Haaaaaaaaaaaaaay. That's not insensitive, right?

At this point, you can scoop out the avocado with a spoon if you were making something such as guacamole. Or, if the avocado is ripe enough, you can probably push the entire segment out by applying pressure to the bottom of the segment and peeling the skin aside.

But since we are interested in a diced result, here’s what you do: Score the avocado half horizontally and vertically with your knife, taking care not to pierce the skin of the fruit, like this:

Cubed avocado is a metaphor for the current American middle class, working in tiny clustered cubicles, soft, pliable, and full of fat. Not really though, just made that up.

Before you liberate the avocado cubes from the skin, take out a plastic container (or a large mixing bowl or a pot) and pour out your mayonnaise and mustard, and sugar. Mix thoroughly. Now either using your hands or a spoon, deposit the avocado cubes directly into the dressing and coat the pieces. This step is necessary to prevent the avocado pieces from oxidizing.

Now begin dicing your other vegetables. Start with the onion first. Dice your onion and soak the pieces in a bowl of ice water. This dilutes the acid in the onion, which removes the sharp biting flavor of raw onion and gives it a sweeter, more refreshing taste.

Chop the onions, cry into the bowl, then soak onions in your tears. Removes acid and adds flavor.

Dice your celery, carrots, tomato, and green pepper. You can use almost any crispy vegetable, including other colored peppers, asparagus, cucumber, and so on.

If you mix all this together, cram it into your mouth, then spit it out really fast, it will look like you're puking a rainbow

Now the salad is ready for assembly! Separate your onions from the water. Mix everything you have cooked and diced up to this point in a large pot or mixing bowl. Add parsley, salt, and pepper to taste. Chill for at least two hours in the refrigerator before serving.

You've gained five pounds just looking at this picture.

The Result

Macaroni Salad

This is what you get for following the recipe. IS THAT WHAT YOU WANT? HUH?

4.4 / 5 Pretty good, very genuine. Two things to note: one is that the creaminess of avocado means you can use less mayonnaise. This is reflected in the recipe I listed but not in my own attempt. Second is to USE GOOD MAYONNAISE. Store brand products are often hit-and-miss. Fred Meyers mayonnaise have a distinct taste of cooked egg yolks which really distracts from an otherwise very tasty dish.

Conclusion

I’m trying (not very hard) to do less Asian themed recipes, since they’re what I grew up with and I’m trying to branch out. The next installment will probably be a Chinese dish though.

Spicy Fried Noodles


It’s good to eat spicy things during the cold winter months. Legend has it that before Mao Zedong (AKA Chairman Mao) crossed a series of snowy mountains with his ragtag band during the Long March, he made his troops each consume a bowl of hot chili pepper soup. The heat in your mouth distracts you from the cold outside, at least in theory. With this in mind, I bring you a simple and fast spicy Asian dish: fried noodles.

Fried noodles is a very simple dish with many variations and cooking methods. Some fried noodle dishes call for using a mixture of corn starch and water to create a thick sauce. For this particular dish, my vision is to create a light, dry fried noodle dish that concentrates all the flavors and aromas in the ingredients.

Ingredients

Which cuisine reigns supreme? THE HEAT WILL BE ON! (kudos if you get the reference ;0)

Listed ingredients are approximations for a single serving. Multiply as needed.

5-6 oz noodles*
1/2 tbsp Garlic chili sauce
1/2 tbsp Spicy black bean sauce
Garlic**
Cooking oil
Cooking wine
Salt
Pepper
Coriander***
2 oz ground pork
half an Onion, cut into strips
2 oz bamboo shoots****

Optional*****:
2 oz bean sprouts
green onions, cut into strips

*This wouldn’t be a TGC installment without impromptu substitutions. I use angel hair pasta. Italian pastas are fantastic in general because they are cheap, easy to find, and very sturdy (as in they do not tear/congeal easily). If you look in your nearest major Asian goods store you should be able to find a wide variety of noodles suitable for stir-frying. These noodles often come raw and have a nice bouncy texture. If in a pinch I think you can even use instant ramen noodles. I don’t recommend you use actual ramen noodles, however.

**I didn’t have any, but they are nice. Garlic powder is an acceptable ghetto substitute.

***Coriander is nice but it can be annoying to get the little seeds stuck in your teeth. If this is a problem for you, pour a teaspoon of coriander seeds onto your cutting board. Place the flat of your knife over the seeds and apply pressure with your hand to crack open the seeds. Soak in 1/4 cup of warm water at least half an hour beforehand. Strain the seeds out and use the coriander flavored water when necessary.

****Kind of optional, but they definitely fit my vision for this dish. Bamboo shoots are great vegetables because they maintain their crispy texture even after being cooked for a long time. You can try substituting artichoke hearts, asparagus, or just adding more onion.

*****These are ingredients I did not use, but feel free to experiment. Add them if you want your fried noodles to have a bit of light, refreshing counterbalance to the heavy spiciness.

Make sure your bamboo shoots are from the Porn Coconut Company. I'm certain this is somehow important to the outcome of your dish.

Cooking

About an hour before cooking, slightly marinate your ground meat by flavoring it with salt, pepper, and a dash of cooking wine. Refrigerate.

Start by preparing your pasta. Fill a large pot with water, add a dash of salt, and bring to a boil. Cook your pasta/noodles as per the directions on the box for al dente, minus one minute (cook for 1 minute less than instructed on the box). Drain the pasta, then dump it into a container. Toss the pasta with about a tablespoon of cooking oil to prevent it from sticking. Set aside.

Pouring oil all over your mother's body. I mean your mother's boobs. I mean the noodles. THE NOODLES.

While the pasta water is boiling, slice your half-onion and drain your bamboo shoots. On the off chance you’re using fresh bamboo shoots (yah right), slice them into slivers.

It's not the onions. I'm teary eyed because Thorzain isn't winning the IGN proleague SXSW votes. *sniff*

Now it’s time to really start cooking. I recommend using either a large non-stick pot or a wok. Crank the heat up to medium-high and add about a tablespoon of cooking oil. When the oil starts to smoke, add garlic (if you have it), onions, and ground meat. The key is to lightly brown your onions and ground meat. Do this by refraining from stirring too often. Stir the mixture a bit, let it sit for 30 seconds, then stir it again. This will let the pan-side of the onions and meat become slightly burnt (brown), resulting in a ton of flavor.

Here be onions and pork in a pot

Meat, onion. Onion, meat.

Once this mixture has been cooking for a few minutes, add your chili garlic sauce and spicy black bean sauce. Adjust to your taste. If you like very spicy, add more sauce, but also remember that the sauces add salt as much as they add spiciness. With the amount of sauce I added (1/2 tablespoon of each) I only needed a very small pinch of additional salt. Cook the mixture for about a minute while cranking the heat up to high.

Add your noodles and bamboo shoots at the same time. Stir vigorously. I recommend using chopsticks for this stage since it can be hard to toss noodles about with a spatula. Salt and pepper to taste at this stage.

The most important thing about frying the noodles is that they shouldn’t stick to the bottom of your wok. If they do, then either the heat isn’t high enough, you’re using the wrong type of pot/pan, or you aren’t stirring often enough.

The noodles should also be very dry. Once you’ve cooked the noodles for about a minute, it should be safe to add the coriander water. Continue to cook until all the liquid has dried. If you are also using green onions and/or bean sprouts, add them two minutes before the dish is done. Plate and serve hot.

Result

This is like, what would happen to the flying spaghetti monster if he ever gets caught in China

4.5 / 5 I’m fairly satisfied with this dish, although I do feel that something is missing. I’m not quite sure what, but I’ll be sure to re-explore this dish in the future. It’s quite good in its current form. The dryness of this dish allows the individual ingredients to stand out and speak for themselves, when otherwise the might be buried under a heavy sauce.

EDIT: I figured out what was missing! Five-spiced bean curd, sliced into strips. They are a type of aromatic soy product with a texture similar to extra-firm tofu. Not exactly the most obvious of ingredients to be “missing”, but they should complete the flavor of this dish. Here is a photo (courtesy of Google) of what it looks like:

Five spice bean curd

They can be found in your nearest Asian supermarket and come in blocks packaged with laminated plastic. These should be added to your dish at the same time as the bamboo shoots. Be careful while stirring though, since bean curd can easily fragment if handled roughly.

Just Desserts


Mmm, unlucky thirteen. I had a mind to name this the “12bth” installment like how elevators in Canada label their 13th floor buttons, but oh well. This installment was written close to Christmas. Christmas is a time to indulge and get fat, hence desserts. There are three deserts in all. Enjoy.

Level Zero: Microwave Brownie

I’ve always been curious about these microwave brownie recipes online. Not the recipes that try to make legitimate brownies in a microwave, but the recipes where you whip that shit up in two minutes in a mug then microwave for two more minutes for instant gratification.

This recipe is adapted from here. Credits go to original author.

Ingredients

It's like a meth lab, for brownie addicts

4 tbsp flour
3 tbsp OR 1 package of cocoa powder
2 tbsp water
1 tbsp white granulated sugar*
2 tbsp butter
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 mug

*2 tbsp if you’re using unsweetened baking cocoa powder, 1 tbsp for sweetened.

Procedure

Put butter into your mug. Microwave 10 seconds at a time until butter is melted. Add all the ingredients minus the flour and stir until mixed. Then add the flour and stir until smooth.

Have: 1 cup. Need: 2 girls

Microwave that shit for 75 seconds on high.

Shit goes into microwave, shit comes out. Smells like brownie though

Be careful, it’s hot. Consume.

Rating: 3.5 / 5 This recipe is really only good for getting a quick fix, and I mean it in the most drug-related way possible. Use it if you really, really need a brownie. But since all the ingredients needed for this recipe already puts you about 90% of the way towards the actual ingredients required for real brownies, my recommendation is that you just go make some regular brownies.

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Level One: Bread Pudding

Bread pudding is one of those recipe that’s easy but not really easy. I’ve never been able to make satisfying bread pudding simply by following recipes word for word. Some finesse and experience is required to make a good bread pudding that suits your own tastes. However, unlike other baked goods, bread pudding allows for some flexibility in ingredient quantities, so feel free to experiment.

Ingredients

Listening to djWHEAT play LoL while writing this. "Get that bitch get that bitch. That ho had it comin."

6 slices of stale bread, roughly 3 cups*
3 tbsp butter
3 eggs
1 3/4 cups milk**
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup white sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp cinnamon powder
1/2 tsp salt
raisins***

*Any type of bread will do. I’ve made this with both baguettes and challah bread. This time I’m using el cheapo wheat bread, which also works. Leave the slices of bread out in open air for roughly 24 hours to dry and stale.
**What you really need is the minimum amount of fluid to soak all of your bread. This amount comes from experience, and may be different if you are using a different amount of bread.
***You can also used spiced fresh fruits. Marinate diced pears, apples, or peaches in a combination of sugar, salt, cinnamon, and possibly a liqueur for at least two hours ahead of time.

Procedure

Dice your bread into 1/2 inch cubes, and set aside in a plastic container. Sprinkle your fruit/raisins over the bread and toss a few times for even distribution.

Resist the urge to get diabetes now, there's more carbs yet to come.

Thoroughly beat your three eggs together. Place a separate pot over the stove on medium-low heat. Add butter, milk, and beaten eggs. Stir to combine. This will create your custard base for the bread pudding. The egg yolk will allow you to smoothly combine milk and butter into a homogenous mixture. Make sure not to let the custard come to a boil; if you feel that some bubbling is coming on, lower the heat. Add cinnamon, vanilla, salt, and sugar. Stir constantly until everything comes together.

NOTE: If you go online and read through the other recipes, most of them simply have you blend the ingredients cold before pouring it over the bread. This method of pre-cooking the custard is something I’ve developed myself because I find it creates a smoother custard without needing to use a lot of cream and butter.  You should probably experiment with which method you prefer. Also, if you’re an expert on bread pudding, feel free to comment on whether or not this is a good thing to do.

The cinnamon doesn't blend well, but that's fine. The flavor is still infused in the custard.

Set the custard aside to cool. Pre-heat your oven to 350F in the meantime. When the oven is ready, grease either an 8×8 pan or a small, oven-safe pot (non-stick pots are NOT oven safe). First pour your custard over your bread and make sure all the bread pieces are soaked. Then, pour the entire mixture into the greased pan/pot.

Bake for roughly 30 minutes. Custard is a tricky thing to bake, because there is a very limited time frame in which the custard is not undercooked or overcooked. The warm custard mixture you use will cut down on the overall baking time, which is why you are only baking for 30 minutes and not 45 minutes. You may wish to check on your custard at as early as 25 minutes. Stick a toothpick or a knife deep into the custard. If it comes out clean, the pudding is ready.

BROWN SUGAH, HOW COME YOU TASTE SO GOOD

Rating: 4.2 / 5 My bread pudding came out just slightly overcooked for my tastes, but still quite good. The custard is nice and creamy despite being made with skim milk and only three tablespoons of butter. A good holiday-themed dessert overall.

______________________________________

Level Two: Ghetto Granola Parfait
It’s probably good to end on a healthier note after a season of heavy eating. Yogurt parfaits are incredibly easy to make with store-bought granola. Here’s how you make it with home made granola. This is a very basic granola using only oats. Feel free to add a wide variety of seeds, dried fruit, and nuts to the mixture to customize your own granola. The recipe below is tailored towards using only two cups of oatmeal. Feel free to adjust ingredient levels if you are making more.

Granola recipe adapted from http://www.chow.com/food-news/55265/how-to-make-granola/
Much thanks to the original author for the no-frills recipe.

Ingredients

Straight from the Oatralisk Cavern.

2 cups uncooked rolled oats
1/3 cup white granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp cinnamon powder
2 tbsp butter
1/4 tsp salt
Yogurt
Diced fresh fruit OR thawed frozen fruit*

*I used diced banana and fresh pineapple. IMO, few fruits are as down-right luscious as fresh pineapple. Pick pineapples that have a roughly 1:1 length ratio between body and leaf. They should be somewhat golden brown. Smell the pineapple; if it smells sweet, it is ripe. Leave it at room temperature for a day (no more than three days) before carving. Feel free to use any mixture of diced fruits in combination with jams or thawed frozen fruits.

Procedure

Most (all?) granola recipes online call for using brown sugar or honey in combination with oil as the coating. I found you could achieve the same rich brown color for your granola with white granulated sugar by making a caramel. We’ll start by making the caramel.

The oatimate caramel

Place a pan over high heat and pour 1/3 cup of white granulated sugar directly onto the pan. I used a small pot, but it’s best to use a wide pan for increased surface area. Let the sugar sit there. Do not add anything to it. After a few minutes, it will start to melt and caramelize.

My favorite British caster is Toatal Biscuit

Once the caramel is nice and brown, add your butter. Swirl around the pan to prevent the mixture from hardening and sticking to the bottom of the pan.

CHILL GET OAT

Add vanilla extract, cinnamon, and salt. If the mixture is starting to feel too dry, add a tiny bit of water to loosen it up. It’s important not to add too much water because you want the flavor to be as concentrated as possible. When all the ingredients are combined and smooth, turn off the heat. For some reason I was a total idiot and forgot to take a picture of the finished caramel. Google image that shit if you want to know what it looks like. Wait about thirty seconds to allow the caramel to cool, then pour it over your oats. Stir to coat.

Jaedong and Flash are oatliers in terms of their BW skill level

Pre-heat your oven to 300F. Meanwhile, either coat a baking sheet with non-stick spray or line it with parchment paper. Dump your evenly coated oats onto the baking sheet and spread out thin. When the oven is ready, place the baking sheet on the center rack.

Take noat of how thinly the oats are spread.

Bake for 15 minutes. Remove your making sheet from the oven, and use a spoon to stir the oats around for even baking. Return the baking sheet into the oven for about 5 more minutes. If the oats are starting to brown, they are done. Do not let the oats become too brown, or they will have a burnt taste. The oats may feel slightly damp to your touch when they are first done. This is normal; they will harden as they cool down. Store in a jar somewhere dry.

On to the parfait:

I'm a big fan of TLOat's innovative game play

Assemble your yogurt, fruit, granola, and a transparent glass. I used a mixture of diced fresh banana and pineapple. Spoon a layer of fruit onto the bottom of the glass. Spoon a layer of yogurt on top of the fruit. Spoon another layer of fruit on top of the yogurt, then another layer of yogurt on top of the second layer of fruit. [s]Then all-kill QIM with your spoon[/s]. Top everything off with a generous layer of granola. Either chill or eat right away.

EZPZ Oat Squeezy as the saying goes

Rating: 4.8 / 5 Even without a copious number of nuts and seeds the basic granola is quite tasty. Will definitely make again. Layering all the ingredients into parfait format is a bit of a hassle if you’re not trying to be presentable. Just dump all that shit together in a bowl and mix for a quick breakfast.

Epilogue

Well that was kind of long. Hopefully you’ve enjoyed what you’ve read, and are possibly even encouraged to try some of the recipes yourself.

Until next time, happy holidays, bon appetit, don’t slip on ice and crack your head open.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookie Bars


Usually when people have a craving, it is for some food item that they have had before and wish to have again. It’s a weird thing, then, when you’ve been cooking for so long that you start to create recipes to satisfy cravings for food you’ve never actually had before.

This installment of TGC is about a recipe conceived in such a way. Light, crumbly butter cookies with the aroma of peanut butter, covered on one side with a layer of chocolate. Peanut butter chocolate cookie bars.

Ingredients

Butter cookie recipe partially adapted from here.

Sorry, didn't do a spread this time. Have a picture of a butter sculpture of Marilyn Monroe.

Cookie:
2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
7 oz butter/margarine*
4 tbsp peanut butter (creamy preferred, I used crunchy)
3/4 cup white granulated sugar
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 large egg yolk

Chocolate Layer:
3/4 cups semi-sweet or milk chocolate chips
3 tbsp butter/margarine

You will also need a baking sheet and parchment paper.

*The original recipe calls for 8 ounces, but since we’re using peanut butter and peanut butter also has oil, use 7 ounces. Soften the butter/margarine at room temperature for at least half an hour before use.

Baking is (almost) a science. Try to use exact amounts for the recipe to avoid unpleasant surprises.

Part Cookie

Diabetes ain't gonna just suddenly show up in your body. You gotta earn it.

First combine the softened butter, salt, vanilla extract, and sugar in a container. Either mix with a mixer or mash with a spoon. I mashed the ingredients together in a pot over very low heat for a short period of time to expedite the slight melting of butter. Do not completely melt the butter! The end result should have a very soft consistency and be almost fluffy, like this:

Don't worry about the fat. It's actually the calcium in butter that's making you big-boned.

Mix in the peanut butter until smooth, then mix in the egg yolk until smooth. Slowly add the 2 cups of flour roughly 1/3 cup at a time, stirring to incorporate thoroughly each time. You may need two spoons to help you do this efficiently.

Paying tribute to the one true Spoon Terran.

When all the flour has been incorporated, dump the dough onto a lightly-floured surface. Knead the dough a few times to get it to a smooth consistency. On the side, prepare a baking sheet (optimally probably something like a 9×12 sheet), lined with parchment paper. I only had this fucking 12×18 sheet or w/e, so I kind of improvised.

What you want to do is spread the dough out using hands/rolling pin/whatever to approximately 1/4 inch thick. For me, I rolled the dough out against one side of the baking sheet and rolled it out towards the other side.

This is where the "ghetto" part comes in.

Stick your sheet of cookie dough in the refrigerator for at least two hours to let it chill. When you are ready to bake, pre-heat your oven to 325 F (163 C). If you’re using some kind of ghetto-assed too-large baking sheet like I am, center your cookie dough on the sheet so that the edges can expand during the baking process. Bake for approximately 18-20 minutes, or until the edges start to turn golden.

In case of food fight, apply cookie directly to forehead

Now the cookie part is done! Let the cookie sheet cool while you begin work on the chocolate part.

Part Chocolate

Here’s where things become more about guesswork. I have never worked with melted chocolate before. The following walkthrough is how I personally did it, and it is very likely not the best way of doing it. If someone knows the proper way to spread chocolate so that it ends up with a smooth surface after cooling, please let me know.

Fill a large pot with about an inch of water, and bring water to a boil. In another, small pot with a long handle, place your chocolate and butter. Lower the smaller pot over the boiling water and stir to melt the chocolate. This is where the long handle comes it, so you can safely hold the small pot as you stir its contents. Sorry, no photos were taken at this stage since I was afraid I’d burn the chocolate. Anyhow, melt the chocolate until it is somewhat smooth looking. Pour melted chocolate over your cookie and spread in a thin layer that covers the entire cookie.

Like a piece of wood freshly lifted out of shit creek, to use the most unappetizing description possible

YOU ARE ALMOST DONE!!! Let the cookie and chocolate cool for about 30-45 minutes. Lightly touch the chocolate with your fingertips. If it feels cool and no chocolate sticks to your fingers, grab a sharp knife and slice the cookie into bars. You should try to do the slicing before the chocolate and the cookie completely hardens to reduce risk of fracturing the cookie.

Refrigerate for a couple of hours before enjoying with a glass of milk, or a scoop of your favorite ice cream.

Upper right corner sacrificed in the name of gastronomic science

Result

I love it when a plan comes together

4.9 / 5 Usually when I try out a recipe for the first time, self-invented or otherwise, the failure rate is rather high. There is always one or two little things that could be improved. I pretty much suck. But this time for whatever reason, a complex, never tried before recipe came together rather well on the first attempt. Fucking unprecedented! Nonetheless, there is still room for improvement. If someone can tell me how to work with chocolate so that it spreads easily and comes out with a smooth surface, I’d appreciate it.

Closing Thoughts

There are, IMO, really only two legitimate reasons for overindulgence. One is meat, the other is through decadent pastries and desserts. By sharing this recipe, I hope I will have at least partially satisfied the latter reason for you. T’is the season to eat whatever the fuck you want, since you’re wearing so much clothing that no one can tell anyways 🙂
Until next time, don’t get hit by a bus. And have a happy Christmas.