Monday, August 20, 2012

Pancake Topped with Fried Food and Ranch Dressing

With great power there must also come-- great responsibility!
                          -Stan Lee, Amazing Fantasy Issue #15

These words are no less true today than they were when they were first published 50 years ago this month. And yet here I am with the power to cook virtually anything I want and I choose to make-

Actually hold on a second. Yesterday at a pool party celebrating the end of our grad school "camp" that started five weeks ago, I was talking to a classmate who said that despite having a girlfriend he couldn't help but notice that we have some really attractive women in our cohort. I couldn't agree more. I recently met and befriended one of the most beautiful woman I've ever met in my life. I am phenomenally attracted to her (including her mind and personality) and can't wait to get to know her better over the upcoming weeks and months. Nevertheless, I found myself on the facebook profile of a woman I once loved yesterday and saw pictures of her and her boyfriend together and find myself literally sick to my stomach. I guess the cliche that you never quite get over your first love applies for me as much as for anyone else. The silver lining as I've said before is that at least I know that I'm capable of loving someone. I'm happy for her.

Now back to the food: I came up with this idea during an alumni panel when I got tired of listening to people talk about how we need to think about what kind of jobs we're going to be applying for when we haven't even registered for classes yet. Sometimes I just want to cook, you know. Maybe that's what I'll do with my new degree. Anyway, I needed something decadent and excessive. I wanted to make Ranch Dressing (even though I'm not a huge fan of it), and I wanted it in the style of the Waffle Taco that I envisioned months ago. So without further ado, I give you the Death Star!*

Pancake Topped with Fried Food and Ranch Dressing

For the Fried Food:

5 Boneless Skinless Chicken Thighs (there are leftovers!)
4 oz. Mozzarella Cheese cut into thin slices
Whites of 3 Eggs
~2 oz. Buttermilk

Cut the Chicken into thin slices, dip them and the cheese (separately) in an Egg White and Buttermilk mixture and coat with Flour. Deep fry the Chicken for 4-5 minutes and the Cheese for 1-2 minutes.

For the Pancake:

I used the recipe found here: I wouldn't be too worried about the recipe. Any Pancake will do, but this recipe works well.

For the Ranch Dressing:

1/2 c. Homemade Mayonnaise (see my June 2012 recipe)
1/2 c. Sour Cream
1/2 - 2/2 c. Buttermilk
1 tsp. Dried Chives
1 1/2 tsp. Dried Dill
1/2 tsp. Dried Parsley
1/4 tsp. Garlic Powder
1/4 tsp. Onion Powder
Salt and Pepper to Taste

Just mix everything together. I used my Food Processor, which broke my heart by breaking during the process of cutting the cheese. The shatter-resistant bowl's locking mechanism broke, but they're sending me a replacement for free, so I guess it's not too big of a deal... Anyway, the original recipe that I found at called for 1 c. of Mayo and I obviously cut that back- in part because of comments on the original recipe, but also because I like my Ranch to be a little more watery. I upped some of the Spices and used considerably more Salt and Pepper after my friend who loves Ranch critiqued mine. Overall I think this is a very successful recipe.

*A close friend of mine came of with the name. I think it certainly lives up to the name, but I'll stick with "Pancake Topped with Fried Food and Ranch Dressing" for ease reference. I also like the name "Ranchtop Mountain of the Rising Sun" that I came up with. 

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Cantaloupe Rice Pudding

The H.E.B. was selling Cantaloupes for $0.99 last week, and even though I'm not a huge fan of Cantaloupes- why aren't Honeydews ever a buck?!- this was an offer I couldn't refuse. I let it sit around for a few days until I got an idea. And thus was born:

Cantaloupe Rice Pudding

0.5 Cantaloupe
~1 c. Water
0.75 c. Jasmine Rice
10 Cardamon Pods
~2 oz Heavy Cream (only because it would've gone bad had I not found a use for it)

Liquify the Cantaloupe and slowly bring it to a boil with the water. Add the Rice, Cardamon, Cinnamon, and Cream (as well as whatever other Spices or Sugars you think would enhance the flavor). Simmer for a while. Eat it for breakfast, that's what I did!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Hatch Chili and Chicken Pasta

Sitting on a rocky ledge at Zilker Park with an old friend from high school to see a live performance of the Sound of Music reminded me of just how much I love this city. Not only am I surrounded by friends and making new friends each day, but there's actually things to do--- and they're fun! As much as I enjoy kicking back with a beer (yet another thing I share with the city), it's so nice to have things to do that don't revolve around drinking. 

Earlier in the day I went to the H.E.B., a terrific grocery store that we don't have in and around Dallas, and they were celebrating Hatch Chili Week with mad samples,  one which was a Hatch Chili Pasta dish with Chicken that was inspiring. Literally; it inspired me to make it. It didn't hurt that a very attractive woman in front of me tried the dish and told me that I had to try it. I was like "I'd rather try you baby, what are you doing tonight?" She was right about the dish so I decided to make it. H.E.B. wanted us to buy a premade Hatch Chili Soup to pour over the pasta. "It's so easy to make!" the sample-person kept saying. "I'm sorry sir, that's just not the way the Gourmet Apartment does it." I read ingredient list and kept thinking "oh no, I don't have xanthan gum and this preservative and that, I don't know..." but I did know. Here's my recipe. It's been peer reviewed. The verdict is "pretty good." My verdict was a little higher than that, but to each his/her own.

Hatch Chili and Chicken Pasta

6 Hatch Chili Peppers
3 Tomatillos
2 Jalapenos
4 Cloves Garlic
1 Tomato
1 Onion
1 bunch Cilantro
6 oz. Heavy Whipping Cream
1 can Chicken Broth 
~3 tbsp Masa
Lime Juice
2 Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts cut into thin slices
~6 oz. Shredded Cheese
~12 oz. Medium Shells (Pasta)
Salt and Pepper as Usual
Water as Desired

In a toaster oven on broil, roast the Hatch Chili Peppers, Tomatillos, Jalapenos, and Garlic. Puree them in a food processor. Add the Tomato, Onion, and Cilantro and puree. Working in smaller batches if necessary, mix in the Cream and Chicken Broth. The H.E.B. product's ingredient list included Corn Tortilla which I didn't want to buy for this, so I just threw in the Maseca and Lime that I have lying around. Corn Tortillas are just Maseca, Lime, and Water, so I think this was an elegant solution. Anyway, mix this in and then stir everything together in a large pot and bring to a boil. While this is happening, cook your Pasta Shells. Once the Chili Sauce is boiling, toss in the Chicken, lower the heat and let simmer. A couple minutes later, mix in the shredded Cheese (I used Cheddar that I shredded by hand). Once the Pasta is just about done, drain it and mix it into the sauce. Add Water or allow liquid to boil off as you see fit. Serve with Avocados if you're entertaining a lady friend. Even if it is just platonic.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Massaman Curry

I'm a grad student in Austin now. It's almost surreal and I love it. I love this city. People commute on their bikes, the food is excellent, the beers are exceptional, and the women are more beautiful than almost any I've ever seen. I still can't believe that it took me nearly 28 years to get down here! 

In between classes, hitting up the local bars with my friends, and taking care of life stuff (ex: today I had my car inspection updated), I've somehow found the time to cook a few meals. I was too busy settling in to write about them unfortunately, but the curry I made this evening is too good not to record. It may not be 100% authentic and is an unruly combination of internet recipes, hints from a cookbook I own, and a little of my own shenanigans, but good food is good food, so cook forth and be satisfied. 

Massaman Curry

6 Cloves Garlic
3 Green Cardamon Pods
2 Cloves
1 tsp Ground Ginger (since I forgot to buy the real stuff)
1 37.5* cent piece worth of Tamarind Pulp
Juice of 1/3 of a Lime (all I had lying around)
Juice of 1/4 of a Lemon (ditto)
1 tbsp Cumin Seeds
1 tbsp Coriander Seeds

Put all of the above in a food processor and chop the heck out of it. 

1 Onion
2-3 tbsp Soy or Peanut Oil
~1 tbsp Fish Sauce
~1 tbsp Peanut Butter 
1 tbsp Sugar

Add the Onion to the food processor with all the other ingredients and pulse until the Onion is relatively well diced, but not pureed or anything too fine. Heat up the Oil and fry all the ingredients from the food processor. Add the Fish Sauce, Sugar, and Peanut Butter.

1 can Coconut Milk
~2 cups Water
1 Spicy Jalapeño 
3 Compari Tomatoes 
3 medium Red Potatoes 
1 medium Eggplant peeled and cut into 1/2" cubes 
1 Red Bell Pepper cut into small/medium pieces
2 Boneless Chicken Breasts sliced into thin strips
~1/2 c. Peanuts
Salt and Pepper

After the Spices and Onion have fried for about 10 minutes, add the Coconut Milk and bring to a boil. Add the Potatoes and enough water to basically cover the Potatoes. The Potatoes will need about 20 minutes to soften- maybe 30 minutes. While this is happening, puree the Tomatoes and Jalapeño and add them to the mixture. Chop the Peanuts in the food processor and set aside. Cut the remaining ingredients while you wait for the Potatoes. Once the Potatoes have begun to soften, add the Eggplant. In 5-10 minutes (once the Eggplant is looking soft and tender) add the Chicken and the Red Bell. Once the Chicken is cooked- no more than 3 or 4 minutes- add the chopped Peanuts and Salt and Pepper (I needed a fair amount of Salt) and serve with Jasmine Rice. 

*Halfway between a quarter and a half dollar in size... duh.