Last night, Martin stayed late at work and rather than making headway in my participation of Tara’s Get Rid of 100 Things mission, I baked Momofuku’s Blueberries and Cream cookies. We are moving at the end of next month, which makes Tara’s mission quite timely for us as we are looking to make sure we don’t move unnecessary clutter from our old place to our new place.  Somehow, I think my reasoning last night to bake cookies (“Less flour and sugar for you to move, oh yeah!”) don’t quite hold up to the light of day.

I first tasted these cookies at a party thrown by my friend, Leslie.  She had made them for dessert and I remember eating about five of them and having to mentally remind myself that I was a grown adult and had learned how to share in kindergarten and it didn’t matter that they were friggin’ delicious, I really needed to stop eating them.  The only reason I never tried to make them myself until now was because they have  a crumbly “and cream” part you have to make and a weird ingredient they insist on using (glucose).  Yes, this was actually a high barrier of entry for me.

Then I got the craving and nothing could stop me from going out, buying some dried blueberries and baking these cookies.

My first impression on tasting one of these was that they were saltier than I remembered.  Perhaps I have really potent table salt?  I have no idea.  I also gave up trying to find glucose and subbed in golden syrup.  I thought I’d read online they were equivalent but later examination of the packaging revealed that I was probably mistaken.  I think a fine substitute is probably corn syrup, which I’ll try next time.  So I feel like I didn’t give them a fighting chance but luckily I have enough for a second batch!

Note:  I’ve been eating them over the last couple of days and I think the saltiness actually diminished a little bit.  Either that or the tea I drink it with makes it slightly more palatable.  :)

Momofuku Blueberries and Cream Cookies

Milk Crumbs
5 tbsp. nonfat milk powder, divided equally into two 2.5 tbsp. portions
2 tbsp. all purpose flour
1 tbsp. cornstarch
1 1/2 tsp. sugar
1/8 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup white chocolate, melted (or about 40g.)

Cookies
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/8 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. salt
8 oz. European-style butter (like Plugra), softened
10 tbsp. (1/2 cup + 1/8 cup) granulated sugar
10 tbsp. (1/2 cup + 1/8 cup) light brown sugar
1/4 cup glucose (can substitute corn syrup)
1 large egg
3/4 cup dried blueberries
5/6 cup milk crumbs

1-  Preheat the oven to 225-degrees F.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and  set aside.

2-  In a medium bowl, whisk together 2.5 tbsp. nonfat milk powder, 2 tbsp. all purpose flour, 1 tbsp. cornstarch, 1 1/2 tsp. sugar and 1/8 tsp. salt.

3-  Pour the melted butter over the dry mixture and stir together until well-combined.  Pour mixture onto baking sheet and bake until dried and crumbly, about 8 – 10 minutes.

4-  Remove from oven and let cool completely.

5-  When cool, pour chocolate over the mixture and fold until combined.  Mixture will stick together in one large clump.  Let cool and when ready to use, break into crumble-sized pieces.  If using right away, set aside; otherwise, refrigerate.

6-  Heat oven to 375-degrees F.  Line baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

7-  In a large bowl, mix together dry ingredients.

8-  In a large mixing bowl, beat butter until light and fluffy.  Add sugar and glucose and cream mixture together until fluffy.  Add egg and mix well until combined.

9-  Slowly add flour mixture, beating until combined.  Add blueberries and milk crumbs until combined.   Scoop out onto cookie sheets and chill dough for about 15 minutes (I didn’t chill and didn’t notice a large amount of spreading).

10-  Transfer sheets to oven and bake for about 15 minutes or until golden brown, rotating the pans if baking more than one pan at a time.  Transfer to a wire rack and cool.

Quantity About 3 dozen cookes

Aha!  Did you like that play on words I did there?

Yeah, pretty lame, I’ll admit.

What else is lame is my first two (yes, two) attempts to make No-Knead Bread.  I faithfully waited the 18 hours suggested by Mark Bittman and when I poured the dough out on to the cutting board, what I got was … dough soup.  It was a gloopy mess and did not look like anything resembling a first rise of dough.  In fact, some of it wasn’t even dough, it was tan colored water.

So, naturally, I tried again and got the same results.  Since the recipe is always harping about how an 8 year old can do it … well, let’s just say I might not be smarter than a 5th grader.

And that makes me sad-face.  :(

I bought some new yeast and I’m hoping that fixes the issues, but I haven’t had the time to combine bread, water and yeast together and stir it all up.  All five minutes of it.

I know, I’m terrible.

On the topic of bread, does anyone use their KitchenAid mixer to knead bread?  And, more specifically, does anyone use an Artisan KitchenAid to knead bread?  I have a 5qt Pro Series and the other day (okay, like a month ago but I just randomly thought of it again) it was making some really funky grinding noises while kneading bread.  So then I started thinking about what a bummer it would be if it broke.  Mystand mixer has seen two coasts and was my first serious kitchen item, gifted to me by my parents (thanks, parents!) for my birthday one year.

True story, I was so scared of messing it up that it spent a year in my closet, in all its packaging and everything.  I only started using it because Amy found it when she was helping me pack up my apartment to move and threatened to take it with her as I obviously could not be trusted to use it for its actual purpose.  I started using it to make cookie dough, received the ice cream mixer attachment as a Christmas gift (thanks, Mormor!) the following year and the rest, as they say, is history.

To go back to my original thought, which is kneading dough in the Artisan series:  I get a little worried at the strange grinding noises that mine makes back at me and since it is a professional series, I wonder if the Artisan series could handle it.  I also noticed that the Artisan series bowl is smaller, as is the paddle, which does come in handy for smaller tasks (like whisking 3 egg whites for macarons).  Also!  It comes in lemon yellow!  And mustard yellow!  And peppery yellow!  And … well, I think you get the point here.  It comes in fabulous colors and the professional series seem to only come in boring colors, like white and black.

I feel like there might be a lesson here on substance over style.

But ignoring that for a second, how about a lot of questions instead?  If you have an Artisan series KA, do you knead bread in it?  And if so, how is it?  Does yours make weird grinding noises at you to the point that you worry about having to replace it?  Do you dread the day you DO have to replace it because it’s going to be $$?  Have you had luck with no-knead bread?  Can you figure out what I’m doing wrong?  Can you share what I’m doing wrong so I can fix it?

I decided to finally join the no-knead bandwagon, about a million years late.  :)  Here’s my first attempt.

It’s been a (very very ohmygod very) long time since my last post, so I thought I would ease myself back into blogging, as it were, by not trying too hard to post pictures and discuss recipes.  Instead, I wanted to talk about something that I sit down and do every weekend: our meal planning.

Please be warned: I am about to divulge some seriously OCD stuff about myself.  I wish I could be the kind of person who could walk into a market with no plans, the kind of person who could pick up a couple of porkchops and not only immediately dream of 5 different dishes to make with them but would also know exactly what to buy while I am in the store.  Sadly, I am not that kind of person, so I have to meal plan.

First, I do try to plan in a bit of flexibility by only planning about four meals a week (sometimes five).  I always leave Friday and Saturday nights open for last minute dinner plans with friends.  Not to say we’re popular or that happens often, but if we were and if we did, we wouldn’t have to worry about when to use up already purchased food.

I also usually plan a complicated meal for Sunday, one that introduces a new technique, so that I have the time to really focus and learn because  I am reeeeeeeediculously slow in the kitchen.  Like, I will take five minutes easy to dice an onion, a task that you would think would grow faster by repetition.  It does not, at least not for me.

So besides those two caveats, here are the rules I follow when planning a meal:

1.  One chicken dish.  Because I like chicken and because it’s really versatile.
2.  One vegetarian dish.
3.  One red meat dish (usually beef or lamb) OR seafood dish.
4.  One pasta dish OR sandwich dish OR pork dish.  Paninis are pretty much one of my favorite things on earth but I find it difficult to balance either of these types of dishes with vegetables as they tend to be carb-heavy and unhealthy, but they’re also easy so I typically pick one or the other.  And as for pork – Martin is a huge fan but I am not so it tends to get sidelined a little.

And usually if i I make a fifth meal, it’s because of this rule:

5.  One “I just saw this recipe that looks amazing and OMG I have to make it right now” dish.

Overall, the key is variety.  I want to make sure I am not making too much of any given thing.

For inspiration, I turn to a lot of different sources.  My major one is an idea given to me by Amy – it’s a Google Doc that I maintain of recipes I’ve found while browsing online.   Which I keep organized with a clickable Table of Contents because I can:

Hey, just keeping it real.  Real organized.

For recipes I’ve already made, I keep myself organized with MacGourmet.  It’s a great application and the syncing capability with the iPad is a great plus!  Now if I could just get Martin to build me a handy-dandy little stand for while I was cooking … :)

I am also a huge cookbook hoarder so I’ll often pick a couple at random to browse through.  My favorite cookbooks at the moment are:

Dorie Greenspan’s Around My French Table

Gwyneth Paltrow’s My Father’s Daughter

What I like about both of these cookbooks is that there is a focus on simple foods done with fresh and high quality ingredients.  I think that’s my main goal when I cook.  I mostly just want to always know what I am putting into our food and, by extension, ourselves.

For good all-purpose cookbooks, my favorites are The Joy of Cooking, How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman and the yellow The Gourmet Cookbook.  For good online recipe resources, I turn to Serious Eats, Southern Living and The Food Network.  I also think that the blogs Simply Recipes, One Perfect Bite and Food Wishes are great.

And there you have it.  My crazy meal-planning strategies.  Now that I’ve shared mine, please share yours.  I’d love to hear!

Martin’s birthday was a couple of weeks ago and he opted to spend it chasing a wiffle ball around a gym (note: photo is not of Martin).  I opted to spend it running errands and baking a bona fide birthday cake.  For various reasons, in the end, we were both exhausted from our productive (?) activities.

For my part, I took the Princesstårta recipe from the Swedish cookbook Martin’s parents gifted me years ago.  I think there may have been some things lost in translation.  Either that, or the memory of a million princess cakes flows through the veins of all Swedes and they don’t need things like “recipes” or “directions” when it comes to this yummy concoction.  I’m not Swedish, so I followed the recipe to the best of my ability and essentially baked a pancake and stiff, somewhat bland whipped cream.  I know the stiffness of the cream comes from the three (yes, three!) packets of gelatin the recipe calls for and my pancake came from the line: “Beat eggs and sugar until thick and fluffy.”

Well, I beat those eggs, looked at it and thought, “Ehhhh, why not?” (this is a theme for me when it comes to baking this cake) and threw it in the oven, where it chose not to rise at all.

So I did what any OCD-perfectionist baker would do.  I told myself not to cry, threw it all in the trash and started over with a new recipe.  Specifically, Martha’s.  I’ve never met her but I have heard rumors that she is also a bit of an OCD-perfectionist baker.

Armed with my new recipe, I now knew where I messed up.  See the proof:

I ended up remaking the entire cake because shortly after throwing the second set of cakes into the oven, I tasted the original whipped cream I made and while the gelatin was a great stabilizer, it also made the whipped cream taste off for some reason.

Because I’m crazy, I also made my own marzipan.  I had forgotten to buy it and used Google to determine whether or not I could substitute almond paste.  I couldn’t, but I could make my own marzipan from said almond paste.  Good enough for me and a snap with a stand mixer.

Marzipan:  The official recipe is 1 lb. almond paste, 1 lb. confectioners sugar and 1/3 cup corn syrup.

I did end up tweaking the Martha Stewart recipe.  I combined the vanilla pastry cream and whipped cream because – why not?  I wanted a uniform cream, not a thick cream covered by whipped cream.  I skipped the simple syrup and spread a generous layer of strawberry jam on each cake layer.  I also split the batter between two 9″ cake pans rather than cutting circular cakes from a rectangular cake sheet.  And even though Martha Stewart’s recipe states to “reserve the fourth [cake circle] for another use,” I thought, “What am I going to do with another cake circle?” and just made a giant-freaking-princess cake.

The end result, I thought, was pretty good.  I think you could feasibly cut back significantly on the amount of whipped cream as I had a lot leftover even with generous spreading.  Also, in the future, it would help to make sure the cake is very cold, I think that is the only way to get the “smooth” marzipan look that princess cakes are known for.  As for mine, I felt like it basically just looked like a giant, messy M&M.  See for yourself:

So I’m posting the recipe here, because I made some modifications that I’d like to remember.  I kind of want to post the one from the Swedish cookbook, so that you can see the level of detail I first got versus the level of detail I apparently need.  But all in due time, folks.

Princesstårta
Modified from Martha Stewart

Genoise Cake (if only the Swedish cookbook had called it this!)
1-1/4 cups cake flour (or 18 tbsp. [135g] all purpose flour + 2 tbsp. [17.5g] corn starch)
6 tbsp. (56g) almond flour
1/2 tsp. salt
6 large eggs
4 large egg yolks
1 cup (2oog) granulated sugar
1 stick butter, melted

Vanilla Pastry Cream
2 cups whole milk
1/2 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped
Pinch of salt
1/2 cup (100g) granulated sugar, divided
3 large egg yolks
1/4 cup (35g) cornstarch
1 tbsp (14g) cold butter

To Assemble
Strawberry jam
2-1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
14 oz. marzipan (7 oz. almond paste + 7 oz. confectioners sugar + corn syrup until combined)
Green food coloring

Prep-  Preheat oven to 400-degrees F.  Coat two 9″ circular cake pans with spray oil and line bottom of cake pan with a cut out parchment circle.

1-  First, make the cake.   Combine the cake flour, almond flour and salt in a bowl, whisking to combine.  Combine the eggs, egg yolks and granulated sugar in a bowl of a stand mixer and place over a pot of simmering water.  Stir mixture until sugar is melted and warm to the touch.  Attach bowl to stand mixer with whisk attachment.  Whisk on medium for approximately 2 minutes.  Raise speed to high and whisk until mixture is pale and thick and at last doubled in volume, about 4 – 5 minutes.  Sprinkle dry mixture over the top and gently fold to mostly combine everything.  When everything is almost incorporated, fold in melted butter until everything is completely combined.

2-  Divide evenly between the two cake pans.  Bake until springy, about 6 – 8 minutes.  Let cool to the touch and then pop out of the pans.  Discard parchment and let cool completely on cooling rack.

3-  Now, make the pastry cream.  Combine the milk, vanilla seeds, salt and 1/4 cup sugar in a heavy-bottomed medium saucepan.  But it will not matter too much if you misread this part and add all the sugar.  In a separate bowl, combine egg yolks, cornstarch and remaining 1/4 cup sugar.  When milk mixture is warm, slowly add the milk mixture to the eggs to bring them up to temperature without cooking.  Place mixture back in saucepan over medium heat and stir constantly until thickened.  Remove from heat and whisk in cold butter.  Strain into bowl, cover surface with plastic wrap and chill until cold.

4-  Now, make the marzipan (if you also forgot to buy it) by combining equal parts almond paste and confectioners sugar in the mixing bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.  Start at a low speed to break up the almond paste, then once mixed in with the confectioners sugar, raise the speed as needed to beat the almond paste into the confectioners sugar until the texture of sand has been achieved.  Little by little, add some corn syrup until the mixture forms a ball.  Use a few drips of food coloring until the marzipan is light green.  Remove from mixing bowl, form into a ball and place between two sheets of plastic wrap.  Roll out thinly.  Marzipan can then be rolled into a tube shape for storage.

5-  Make the cream mixture by combining 2-1/2 cups of whipping cream and 2 tsp. vanilla extract in mixing bowl.  Beat until stiff peaks form.  Gently fold the vanilla cream into whipped cream.

6-  To assemble the cake, use a serrated knife to cut the two round cakes horizontally, making 4 total.  Spread the first layer with strawberry jam, then at least 1/2 cup of vanilla cream mixture on top.  Place second cake layer on top and repeat.  Place remaining cake layers on top, repeating with filling.  Spread entire cake with remaining whipped cream.  Refrigerate for at least 4 hours (or 2, depending on how much time your husband gives you).

7-  When ready to serve, unroll the marzipan and gently place on top of the cake.  Trim excess away.  Try to smooth, then give up.  Decorate with a marzipan rose if you are a traditionalist or if your husband says that’s the best part of the cake for him.

Servings:  12.  At least.  This cake is massive.

Awhile back, something amazing happened.  Something San Francisco hadn’t seen in at least two years.  It was epic, it was legendary, it was …

This guy!

YES, Brian came into town!!  A transit conference pulled him our way and we made sure to take advantage of the brief time together and have Brian and friends over for dinner.  There were hot dogs and beers, devilish eggs and Cajun potatoes.  There was also this dessert:

Sorry for the horrible photo, guys.  Entertaining and food porn don’t mix!

This was my first attempt at making a charlotte and a tiramisu and I decided to try both at the same time.  I learned a lot.  I learned lining a springform pan with ladyfingers is finicky and time consuming.  I learned this dessert is easy and fast to pull together, but you shouldn’t leave it to the last minute (see previous sentence) (also it needs to sit together for at least 6 hours to get all happy and soft).  I learned there are soft and hard ladyfingers.  I learned I bought the wrong kind.  :)

And finally, I learned it tastes just as good mashed up into a big mound of sugar and fat the next day and heck yeah, I would totally make this again.

I basically followed this recipe with a few minor changes.  First, because I’d bought the wrong ladyfingers, I combined 1/3 cup Bailey’s with 2/3 cup coffee in a shallow bowl.  Then I dipped one side of the ladyfingers – not too long or else they’ll collapse.  Darn porous ladyfingers.  Second, I cut back on the sugar by 1/4 of a cup because I don’t like things too sweet (and it was already pretty sweet!).  And finally, I dumped rather than dusted cocoa powder on the top of my tiramisu, because I’m heavy handed like that.

This weekend turned out to be a baking-filled weekend, all without my meaning to!  I kicked it off with some blueberry muffins and had planned to make a batch of semlor for Martin.

Have you ever had semlor before?  The first time I ever heard of it was not from my own Swedish husband, but from my Swedish teacher.  March was nearing and she mentioned that it was now semlor time.  Immediately, everyone in our class began raving about how wonderful semlor was.  Later that night, I asked Martin about them.  His eyes lit up and he became almost poetic about these almond-paste filled funs.  It was the closest to infatuation I had ever seen stoic Martin get about food.

Fact (according to Wikipedia):  Swedes eat an average of five of these suckers from a bakery.  This does not include however many homemade ones they ate.

Another fact:  Bears eat beets.  Bears.  Beets.  Battlestar Galactica.


This is probably the size of a “normal” semlor.  It is a good 4 – 5″ across and packed full of cream and almond paste.

What’s a girl to do?  Last year, I bought some at a Scandinavian bakery for Martin’s birthday.  The buns, traditionally served the day before Lent and designed to fatten you up, was literally the size of two of my fists.  I couldn’t finish mine but Martin happily finished it for me.  Such a hardship for him.  ;)

This year, I decided to make my own.  Armed with several recipes (some of which were from his mom), I chose the one that made dainty, hand-sized buns.  Filling-to-ratio, peeps.  It’s all about the filling-to-ratio.  Unfortunately, it’s also all about how I probably chose the least authentic recipe out there.

A few not-great things happened in the making of mine.  Mistake #1, I seriously overbaked my buns.  I think the issue was that my bread did not rise as much as it should have, so these buns are smaller than typical semlor (and small, period) but I didn’t realize that and didn’t change my cooking time to compensate for that.  Rookie mistake.

After I’d baked the buns and made the cardamom cream came the realization that my particular recipe did not call for almond paste of any kind.   Anywhere.  It was a pretty tragic realization, as Martin is a huge fan of almond paste.  Also, since this is a key semlor ingredient, it did not bode well that this recipe forgot it.  Mistake #2 and #3 (major enough to count for two mistakes!).

I served them cream puff style the first night to lukewarm results.  Mistake #4, I didn’t whip my whipped cream enough so the filing was runny rather than stiff.

So this morning, in an effort to salvage things, I bought some almond paste at the store. I scooped out the insides (a melon baller works great) and mashed them with a bit of the runny-cardamom-vanilla-cream and almond paste.  I stuffed it all back inside and topped it with more whipped cream.

This was more like the semlor I remembered and I savored every bite.  In the end, it’ll go back to a personal preference.  I actually preferred these and even the harder bread to my only other semlor experience.  The portion was half a bakery semlor but the perfect size for me.  The harder bread held the almond paste mixture in well.  I think Martin has childhood nostalgia on his side and holds strong preferences for what he grew up with.  He still prefers a softer, bigger bun and the verdict is out on whether he likes the cardamom added to the dough (most recipes I’d seen, including his mom’s, do not include that but I rather liked it).   We’ll see whose tastes prevail.  :)

Yesterday, I had a craving like no other for a blueberry muffin.  Warm from the oven, spread with a little lemon curd or butter – I thought I might cry if I didn’t get to eat a muffin.  Sadly, I had no blueberries and the stores were closed.  So I decided to be patient (ha!) and nicely asked Martin to buy me some blueberries on the way home from work today.  He did (ain’t I lucky?) and YESOMG:

MUFFINS.

I used these snack cups, which I love for their plain style and that they’re sturdy enough for free standing baking.  The mini size (shown here) make these adorable muffins an awesome two-bite snack.

Unrelatedly, one of my oldest friends, Megan, had a theory about muffins, which is to say that the kind of muffin you like directly correlates to the kind of sex you like.  Oatmeal bran muffins?  Boring, unimaginative (healthy?) sex.  Banana espresso chocolate muffin?  Spicy, possibly risque sex.  I think you get the picture.  I wonder what she would say about blueberry.

This recipe is one I mashed together from a bunch of different ones so I’ll post it below.  The sugar topping adds a great caramelized crunch to the muffins.  The only thing missing, in my opinion, was a stronger hint of cinnamon so I’ll add a good pinch of that to the batter next time.  Otherwise, guys, it’s love for these little muffins.  And I hope you love them too.

Blueberry Muffins

90 g all purpose flour
90 g white whole wheat flour
150 g granulated sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
2 tsp. baking powder
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 egg
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 cup fresh blueberries
Topping:
65 g brown sugar
15 g all purpose flour
1/8 tsp. cinnamon
1 tbsp melted butter

1-  Whisk together flour, sugar, salt, baking powder and cinnamon together in a medium sized bowl.

2-  Put vegetable oil in a measuring cup and add the egg.  Fill the remaining cup measure with buttermilk (will be approx 1/2 cup).

3-  Drizzle liquid onto flour mixture and gently fold.  Before the liquid is completely incorporated, add blueberries and fold gently until all dry ingredients are absorbed.  Be careful not to overwork the batter.

4-  Fill cupcake tins about half full.  For mini sized muffin cups, use a heaping cookie scoop full (approx. 2 tbsp or 1/8 cup).

5-  Melt butter.  Mix together brown sugar, flour and cinnamon.  Drizzle in melted butter and whisk together until melted.

6-  Sprinkle on top of the muffins.

7-  Bake until a toothpick comes out clean, about 15 minutes.

Servings:  17 mini muffins

Whenever I get a sushi craving, I head down to the nearby Japanese market and contemplate all the nicely cut slices of raw fish displayed for sale.  For several minutes, I stand in front of the case and ponder the pros and cons of the displayed ahi tuna, yellowtail or uni.  Then, quick as a flash, I grab unagi, salmon, tobiko and hotatgai and head for the door.  I am so.very boring because I go home and make the same sushi the same way I always do.  One of these days, I’m going to have to branch out.  One of these days, I will branch out.

Just not this last day.  Or perhaps the next.  But soon, I promise.

When I make sushi, I measure out 2 cups of sushi rice.  There are many ways to make the vinegar mixture you pour over the rice and many opinions about things like boiling the mixture together, fanning the rice or how to cook the rice.  But I usually don’t have the time to let a vinegar mixture cool, so I stir together 3 tbsp. rice wine vinegar with 1 tbsp. sugar and 1 tsp. salt.  It can take awhile but most of it will dissolve and that’s good enough for me.

I take the rice bowl of our rice cooker, gently break up the rice with my rice paddle and let it cool on the counter for about 10 minutes.  Then I pour the vinegar mixture on top and mix it together.  While the rice is cooling, I prepare the seafood.  Usually once I am done preparing the seafood, the rice is slightly warm to the touch and still easily manipulated.  I one time made the mistake of letting the rice cool too much and it resulted in chunky rice distribution.  Talk about sushi fail.

This is what goes inside my favorite sushi roll:

I cut the scallops and salmon into small cubes and mix it all up with a little bit of mayonnaise and sriracha and a lot o’ bit of tobiko and green onion.  I could eat this with a spoon straight up.  I have eaten this with a spoon straight up.  I am not ashamed to admit that.  Luckily for Martin, some of it does end up rolled up with a couple of slices of avocado.

After that, the remaining rolls are some combination of this mixture, unagi and avocado.  I cannot for the life of me plate them attractively, so I just line them up on a plate and Martin and I happily stuff our faces.

Sushi My Way

2 cups sushi rice
3 tbsp. rice vinegar
1 tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
Filling (approximations):
5 sea scallops
1/4 lb. salmon
2 tbsp. tobiko
1 tbsp. mayonnaise
1/4 cup sliced green onions
1 tsp. sriracha
Other things that go inside sushi:
Even more tobiko
Thin avocado slices
Unagi (cooked in the oven)

1-  Cook the rice with equal parts water (or with the marking guide on the side of your rice cooker).

2-  When rice is finished cooking, take the rice out of the rice maker and let sit for 10 minutes.   Pour the vinegar mixture over the rice and gently fold until the rice is evenly wet.

3-  Take a sheet of nori and place it shiny side down on top of a bamboo roller.  I think it took me eight sushi attempts before I realized which side was “shiny.”  Hey, no judging.  Use the rice paddle to scoop out some rice because you don’t like how the rice sticks to your fingers.  Use the paddle to gently spread the rice, leaving about a 1″ strip at the bottom of the nori free.

4-  Fill the strip with a thin line of the sushi mixture.  Add a couple of slices of avocado.  Starting with the side with the filling, gently and tightly start rolling the sushi up.  When it’s done rolling, use the bamboo roller to squeeze everything together.

5-  Splash a bit of water on your knife and tap it to shake off excess water.  Cut the roll in half, then line up the two halves together side by side.  Halve the halves, then halve each half again.

6-  Arrange on plate, eat and enjoy.

Servings:  6 rolls or 4 rolls and 4 hand rolls.

I have to say, it’s a good thing that I really like eggs as I have been eating a lot of them since our Tahoe trip. Most of the eggs were boiled until the yolks were just solidified and added to a salad. Some I made into single portion deviled eggs (my love of deviled eggs is well documented and knows no bounds). And then I took the great advice from the last post and used a whole bunch of them to make this quiche.

I dare not test my cholesterol anytime soon.

I have always liked quiche, though I tend to like them the most when there is a good crust-to-filling ratio. I’m all about the crust-to-filling ratio. I find that I’m still learning a lot about the things I like and the things I don’t like but at least I always hold true to my convictions.

Case in point, I like crispy breakfast foods. I like my bacon to be so crispy it shatters if you pick it up wrong. I like my biscuits to be browner than normal so they have some bite (rather than being doughy). I like my waffles to be crunchy and light, like buttery toast. I like crispy breakfast foods.

On the other side of the spectrum, I hate noodles in broth. My theory stems back to childhood road trips to visit my grandmother in New York. To prepare for the loooooooongOMG trip back home, my parents would pick up what they called won ton soup. It looked like this:

I should chime in here and say that I get really terrible motion sickness.  About two hours into the trip, my parents would pull over at a picnic area and we would eat this for lunch.  After awhile (I’m talking like 10 years), we started varying what we ate for lunch but the damage was done.  To this day, I cannot eat any kind of noodles in broth.  Pho, ramen, won ton soup – they are all big fat no’s in my book.

So believe me when I say that crust-to-filling ratio is very important to me and that I am quite consistent about it.  I love crust so the lower the ratio, the better.  Take, for example, Chinese dan ta, which is basically like a quiche without the savory ingredients.  I will not eat a dan ta if it takes more than 2 bites to consume.  I’m not talking two Martin bites either.  I mean two Melanie bites.  That amounts to basically a mini cupcake pan’s size dan ta.

When we were in Paris this past summer, one of my favorite memories was walking along some random street in Paris and picking some random bakery to buy lunch based on the goods displayed in their store window.  I chose a thick slice of salmon quiche, the kind that comes from a 9″ deep dish pie pan, if you can see where this is going.  Martin and I took our goodies to a small road-side park across the street from the Moulin Rouge and proceeded to munch away.  I will admit, the quiche was quite tasty but the whole time I kept thinking, “Damn, this is a lot of filling.  And a lot of salmon.”  It was a less than ideal crust-to-filling ratio.

So I’m thinking if I don’t start talking about quiche, I will have to rename this post to something like “Melanie’s Random and Esoteric Quirks.  OMG, seriously?”  And we don’t want that, do we?  So let’s talk about quiche!

This meal pulled together so quickly, thanks to a lot of shortcuts.  Really, the longest parts of this dish were waiting for the puff pastry to thaw out and for the quiche to bake.  And possibly to clean up the kitchen because I try to be a clean-as-I-go-er but if I’m in a hurry (as I was the night I made this), it’s more like let’s-make-the-kitchen-look-like-an-earthquake-hit-it.  A legitimate possibility, given that we live in California, except for the whole “explaining why only our kitchen was affected” dealio.

So, first I used puff pastry as a lazy man’s crust and a rectangular tart pan (crust-to-filling ratio, eeeet eeeez impoooortant!!).  Brushed it with a bit of Dijon, dropped a generous handful of cheese on top, topped with browned sausage and frozen spinach that had been reheated in the microwave.  Covered in eggs and heavy cream that had been whisked together with seasoning and ta da!  Easy peasy lemon squeezy.  A great weekday meal.  If you also happen to have 3 dozen eggs in your refrigerator, I wholeheartedly recommend the quiche route.

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