Do It Yourself: Mishap #1 — Chocolate-Banana Vesuvius

November 28, 2012

Whoops.

My mishaps as of late are not confined to ankle problems…

I don’t mind making mistakes when I cook, if the results are still somewhat edible. Screw-ups make for funny stories.

So here are three: Chocolate-Banana Vesuvius, Sweet-Tooth Eggplant Sauce, and Overflowing Cauliflower Stew. (I’m going to do three separate posts, because I don’t want this to become monster-long.)

Chocolate-Banana Vesuvius (pictured above) was my first attempt at making chocolate almond milk ice cream, from this recipe. I’m at the point where I already have lots of stuff lying around from previous recipes, so all I needed to buy was bananas (I don’t buy them often… sorry, bananas).

The real problem was my miniature food processor, which has proven to be very cute but not very functional. I use it in situations that call for a blender, and it was only a matter of time until I pushed it too far. I could see that the chocolate mixture was seeping out, and decided to move quickly. Grab, move, pour — but the food processor bowl is donut-shaped. And maybe my aim was off? Half went into the ice cream churn and half … didn’t.

And then I laughed rather hysterically for a few minutes.

Me being me, I let the ice cream that made it churn before I cleaned up the ice cream maker. The consistency was much more solid than previous almond milk ice cream attempts, thanks to the bananas.

Reward for cleaning up.

It might have been user error, but I thought the ice cream tasted way more banana than chocolate. Like… I could hardly taste the chocolate? I added some sprinkles to improve the overall flavor.

When life hands you ice cream…

A few days later I noted that my kitchen smelled strongly of chocolate… and realized that I needed to scrape chocolate gunk off the inner sides of my dishwasher door. The gift that keeps on giving.

I recently re-did the recipe, sans bananas (just because I didn’t have any around… and still haven’t gotten myself a blender). Once I sent it to the churn, I realized that I’d probably used too much chocolate — since the ratio of chocolate to everything else was higher — but it actually tasted okay. I might try it again with less chocolate and/or sugar, just for comparison’s sake. Here’s the non-banana version, coned once again:

Happy time.

Without the banana, the consistency was more watery. The ice cream basically disintegrated the cone from within.

In any recipe without banana, there’s this thick layer of frozen ice cream that gets up around the sides of the freezer bowl and take a LOT of elbow grease to scoop out. (You could always just wash it away with hot water, but it’s a good amount of deliciousness.) And that scrape-out stuff is usually what I stow in the freezer for later, because it’s not… ice-cream like. It freezes into weird crystals. Tasty ones, but still.

I can’t remember that happening with the banana, but then again… I was distracted by the mess. And I think I ate it all right away? I mean, it was only half yield at most! And I needed some comfort food.

In short, every almond milk ice cream recipe has been edible, but nothing has been perfected.

Stay tuned for mishap #2… It’s the most minor, really. (Sorry to under-sell it.)

xoxo…

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Do It Yourself: Spazzy Little Spaetzle

September 11, 2011

My descent into madness.

Sometimes when I hear about a food I’ve never had before– especially if it’s not commonly found around LA– I suddenly, obsessively want to try it. (See: Blackberry summer pudding.) The madness started when I was perusing Smitten Kitchen, and stumbled across this recipe for spaetzle. With such a funny name, I knew I had to make it! As luck would have it, I happened to have a bunch of flour and eggs that I needed to use, and that’s two out of three ingredients.

Seven eggs, two cups of flour, and 1/4 cup of milk later...

I blended the dough, covered it, and left it in the fridge for… well, it was supposed to be an hour, but I gave it about 45 minutes. (Did I mention that I had just finished baking Funfetti cupcakes? It was a very cooking day.)

It’s really not complicated to make spaetzle, in theory… just push the dough through a colander, and it plops into the salted boiling water. After about three minutes, you put the boiled spaetzle into an ice bath (the ice in the picture is all I had… oh well).

Everything's ready to go.

Unfortunately, it becomes a huge mess in practice. Or at least it did for me.

Attack of the blobs!

I didn’t really think it through and was trying to push the less-than-willing dough through the colander in several places. When it finally got cooperative, it was coming out and hitting non-pot areas.

With my second batch, the dough cooked into the colander holes. This picture freaks me out.

Too phallic!

I never really got the hang of how close to hold the colander to the pot. On Smitten Kitchen she gave major warnings about using potholders on both hands, but I didn’t end up using any. At the end of the second batch I realized that I was maybe holding the colander too far from the pot, because when I got my hands ouchy-close, the dough seemed to melt through the colander holes easier? But also cooked in the holes? I don’t know, confusing.

Also– it’s hard to boil the pasta for three minutes, because it takes sooo long to get the dough through, so the pieces are all boiling at different rates. I think mine ended up boiling for longer. You can tell if you’ve let it boil for too long because the pieces will start to clump. (After the last bit of dough went into the pot, I forgot about my spaetzle on the stove because I was immediately trying to clean the colander.)

Apparently a lot of native Austrian spaetzle-makers chop up the dough with a knife. Or they use a specific spaetzle-making device. That sounds better, if you’re going to make spaetzle often, because it took a while to clean the poor colander.

If I had to describe the look of spaetzle, I’d call it pasta Chee-tos.

See the resemblance?

Orrrr…. fetus pasta.

Now what?

So I tossed it with olive oil (to avoid sticking) and stored it away for the next day (Sunday), because you can wait up to one day to cook with the spaetzle. (I had two containers-full.)

Of course, the question was– what to make with it?

I was looking into a cheesy casserole or meatballs-with-gravy variation (the popular way to cook it in Austria/Germany), but Mr. Tea and I ended up having a filling, dairy-laden tea on Sunday. So we went for a sauteed-with-vegetables variation.

This was half the spaetzle.

Unfortunately we didn’t realize that you’re supposed to saute the spaetzle separate from the veggies, so… it was a little off. Mushy and stuff. And not meant to be an entree. But… I liked the veggies?

Zoom in.

For dessert we decided to do more of a pan-fry on the second Tupperware of spaetzle. That was much better– I liked the bit of crunch. I mean, typically the more unhealthy you make something, the better it tastes.

Sizzle, little spaetzles.

I sprinkled it with cinnamon-sugar, and stirred in some milk chocolate chips. So… of course that was pretty good.

Melted chocolate for the win.

In conclusion, the next time I have spaetzle I will probably order it in a restaurant, as cooked by a professional. It was fun to make, but the clean-up was a pain in the ass. I majorly jabbed the under-nail of my right thumb while trying to scrape the hardened dough from my cute birdie spatula. Literally couldn’t fall asleep one night from the pain.

Today I happily ground up all the leftovers in my sink’s garbage disposal.

BUT I feel very proud of myself for making the spaetzle pasta all by myself… and very thankful to Mr. Tea for helping me cook and eat it, even though I was openly calling it “fetus-y.”

But don’t let that deter you from trying your hand at spaetzle-making. If– like me– you’re interested in food-related adventures… why not? Life’s short– try everything once.

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Snack Trek: Holy Mole at MEXICO CITY (Los Feliz)

September 1, 2011

Not super photogenic, but very good.

This story started when a friend tweeted her excitement about going to Mexico City– not the place, but the restaurant on Hillhurst in Los Feliz. I’d never been, but assumed it was a typical, mediocre Mexican food joint. You know the type. So I tweeted an inquiry, and she replied, “It’s seriously my favorite restaurant in LA.”

That was that. I had to check it out.

A note: I went to Yelp just to see how the Yelpers felt about Mexico City. I have to say– Yelp can be really confusing. The reviews were all over the map. So I was just like– whatever! My friend likes it! And I have been hearing more and more often about shady Yelp-review-pulling and stuff… so. I don’t know how to feel about Yelp anymore.

And now a word about mole. I tend to spell it “mo-lay” when I’m talking to friends about it, because I don’t want them to think that I love to eat moles, as in the weird burrowing animal. I always thought that mole was spelled with an accent, but after I finally learned how to insert an accent (Option E, vowel– molé! olé!), I found out that it’s just mole. Weird.

So I’m talking about the food. Not the animal. (Or the skin thing.)

I will not eat you, little Sir!

It just looks like a nose!

I didn’t even know that I liked mole until I tried Huarache Azteca at Taste of the Eastside. At Mexico City I was hoping that lightning would strike twice, so I ordered chicken with the mild Mole Poblano sauce (the one with chocolate). And guess what? It was awesome! (The second time I went, there were no random onion slices on top.)

I liked that it came with a side of tortillas. (I like my carbs.)

Also– when you sit down you get chips with two types of salsa. They’re both mild/medium-ish. This picture looks weird– I swear it’s more appetizing in person.

Salsas coloradas.

The chips are good, but I’m weirdly loyal to the chips at Chipotle. (And the guac– I heard the guacamole at Mexico City is really good, but I haven’t tried it yet.) It might be the salt.

I guess the best testament to Mexico City is that I’ve been there twice and somehow the only pictures I’ve managed to take are these crappy ones– because once the food comes, I forget about anything else. (Oh– and that I’ve craved it. I don’t often crave specific restaurant dishes– and on second tasting, it stood up to my memory.)

Now you know– if I email you and ask if you’ll accompany me to Mexico City to eat some mole, I’m not talking about the city in Mexico nor the animal.

Probably not, at least.

xoxo…

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Snacks of the (Halloween) Weekend

November 1, 2010

Eat at your own risk.

Hope you had a most excellent Halloween! Here are some pictures I took especially for you. Sort of.

I had never seen Monster Munch before, and I hope I never see it again. I encountered this snack at a Halloween party, and decided to give it a taste… you know, for science.

Remember (on “30 Rock”) when Liz Lemon used to snack on Sabor de Soledad cheese puffs? And it turned out that one of the ingredients was bull semen? I’m pretty sure the (imaginary) makers of Sabor de Soledad are also the makers of Monster Mash. The crackerpuff things tasted really funky, and made my fingers smell bad.

Boo.

After a looong Saturday night of festivities, I looked forward to Sunday brunch. We ended up at Le Pain Quotidien, which I would describe as an upscale European version of Panera.

Why European? Where else would a (wild mushroom) omelet come with French bread and salad?

I am happy to see my omelet, and it's happy to see me.

I did that to the tomatoes. In case you’re wondering.

The bread was awesome. The omelet was cold, and the mushrooms made me feel a bit sick. Luckily Cole and I split our omelets (his was tomato and avocado), so I only felt half as sick as I would have.

All (well… some) was forgiven when they gave us free chocolates with our check! I was all over the chai.

Chocolat.

After brunch, Cole and I wandered around at The Grove (it’s an outdoor mall… just like everything else in Southern California) for a bit. I saw a few people wearing Justin Bieber shirts, and couldn’t figure out if they were in costume or had bad taste. Turned out that the Beeb was about to do a book signing at the Barnes & Noble. As we continued toward the bookstore, we encountered a cluster of screaming teens, holding shoddily constructed signs.

Of all the times to go to The Grove. Ugh.

We went to Sur la Table to get a belated birthday gift for my sister, and ended up giving the whole store a once-over. Cooking stuff is so fascinating to me, even though I rarely cook. They had donut pans! And mini donut pans! And brownie pop pans! (Are brownie pops that popular? Are they even a thing??)

Also, I thought donuts were made via boiling, not baking. Maybe I was thinking of bagels? I don’t know.

The cookie cutters were fascinating. They had everything you could imagine, and more– dinosaurs, musical instruments, letters of the alphabet, etc. I saw the rhinoceros and hippopotamus next to each other, and immediately thought of “Jersey Shore.”

Grab a few gorillas for Snooki and J-Woww.

Keep that in mind for your next “Jersey Shore” party. No grenades!

For several years I’ve intended to go to the WeHo parade, but I never actually make it over there. This year I decided to go home and visit my dog. (And my parents, because they also happened to be there.) Daisy turned out to be almost alarmingly fatigued… like, she wouldn’t even jump up on the couch to say hi. She just fell to the floor, stomach-up. Lazy Daisy.

My mom wanted to make some sort of pumpkin dessert. We vetoed pie because it’s really best if it sets overnight. I ended up baking pumpkin muffins (using the Trader Joe’s mix… just add eggs, oil and water) and icing them with cream cheese frosting. They were pumpkin spicy and delightful. And I think the frosting turned them into cupcakes? Maybe.

Good call.

I wish I’d brought a few back to LA. Would have made a nice (unhealthy) breakfast today.

I’d been looking forward to ordering from our favorite Thai place for dinner, but it was closed… and so was the other Thai place we called. We settled on Chinese from China Panda. People think I’m crazy (or racist?) because I sometimes say “China Panda” when I mean to say “Panda Express,” but it’s because I grew up ordering from China Panda.

I DID bring those leftovers back, and they made a delightful lunch today. I thought I brought more than enough to work, but my eyes were actually smaller than my stomach. (I think that’s biologically true, as well.)

Everything in its place.

I guess the stereotype is true… Jews eating Chinese food on American holidays.

During dinner the trick or treaters began to arrive, and Daisy regained her energy. I had to chase her into the street to prevent her from… running into the street. (So… I failed.)

I get creeped out when I’m the giver of candy, because I don’t like opening the door to strangers. The general feeling that people are lurking out in the dark is one of my biggest blechs. So how to I feel about trick or treating? You do the math.

And as a kid, I always felt awkward about taking the candy, because it seemed greedy. And saying “thank you” didn’t remedy my guilt/shame about being a little brat. (And then my mom would only let us keep a few pieces… so it was all so futile!)

So… I came home for Daisy and Thai, and got a little of one and none of the other. And had to deal with my trick or treat anxiety. Maybe I should have gone to the parade.

NEXT YEAR! (Or not… again.)

In the meantime, keep your hippos on a leash.

xoxo…

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Snack of the Afternoon, 4/6/10: SKITTLES

April 6, 2010

This bowl is taunting me!

(No, not the creepy had-sex-with-Jesse-James person-named-Skittles. Get your mind out of the gutter!)

Yeah, so yesterday’s “detox” lasted for… 5 minutes? 5 seconds? Let’s skip over that little factoid.

You guys, I try to be a social person. I brought this heart-shaped bowl on Valentine’s Day week as a nice little “happy holiday” touch. I filled it with Dum Dums lollipops. Harmless. Probably 4 calories each, and most of the flavors were… ungood. No danger there.

But when the Dum Dums ran out, Cole graciously offered to fill the bowl. Too bad he filled it with really good candy! (Except for the Almond Joys… I am not about shredded coconut.) (I am ALL ABOUT drinking the water out of a coconut on a tropical island.)

So my Snack of the Day is more like Skittles and Twix (Kibbles and Bits?) and a Kit Kat bar. Luckily they’re all “fun size.” But what is fun? Why does fun make me feel this guilty? Ughhh.

Well, this part was fun:

So pretty, and yet so evil.

Don’t be like me, kiddies.

xoxo…


Snack of the Afternoon, 2/24/10: CHOCOLATE COVERED PRETZEL FILLED WITH PEANUT BUTTER

February 24, 2010

A delightful turd-let.

Over the past weeks/months/eons I have been taking lots of food-pictures on my Blackberry… and neglecting to post them. Sorry! (Whatever.)

Maybe I will get all caught up and post them here for you to see. Maybe I won’t. Do you care? Didn’t think so.

I couldn’t resist posting about today’s snack. When I first saw it in the kitchen, I could scarcely believe my eyes. I mean, covered in chocolate is one amazing idea. Filled with peanut is another. But… TOGETHER? Could it be done, without planets colliding? I had to bite it open to believe it. (That’s what she said?) (Ow, he said.)

Peanut butter + chocolate + pretzel… this was literally thought up in heaven. Or hell– I haven’t checked the calorie count. But I just ate one, so whatever. My heart will go on. (For now.)

xoxo…


Snack of the Afternoon, 12/31/09: RITTER SPORT WINTERSORTE 2009

December 31, 2009

Translation: Yum.

My friend Allison lives and studies in Switzerland, which (as you may know) is wedged in between Germany, Austria, Italy, and France. That’s a whole buncha Europe going on, in there! She came home for the holidays and gifted me with this famous German chocolate, which is… not at all translated. But Allison told me that this is the winter edition, and since today is the last day of 2009, I figured I’d post a picture before the chocolate lost its relevance.

Loosely translated, this is a spice cookie covered in chocolate. I LOVE spice cakes and cookies, so I was very excited to dig into this. I’m going to try to limit myself to one little square a day. TRY. That’s a New Year’s resolution if I ever heard one.

I thought the back was kind of hilariously inscrutable, so here’s a picture of that, too.

Knick-Pack!

The one time I went to a German-speaking country (Austria), I was quite confident that I’d be able to translate signs and such, because English is derived from German. If I broke down the long words into the shorter pieces that I recognized, I’d be a translatin’ fool.

But that was not the case. And I got very lost and took a train-bus thing toward the wrong place, until an old man who only seemed to know one word of English (“Helicopter!”) pointed me in the right direction.

Luckily, I can eat the chocolate without translating the wrapper. Or so I think.

xoxo…


Snack of the Afternoon, 7/21/09: KAKOR CHOKLADFLARN

July 21, 2009
Kakor Chokladflarn

The Swedish are experts at everything.

It’s not actually the afternoon anymore, but I’m at work, where’s it’s always “72 and fluorescent,” as I like to say. And I tried this several hours ago– before The Daily Binge even existed.

I have been waiting to try today’s snack for several weeks. Co-worker John really hyped it up, telling me that it’s an office favorite (news to me). Today he finally trekked to IKEA to obtain a new batch, and I happened to be in the kitchen (fate!) when he arrived with the loot. In case you’re wondering, Kakor Chokladflarn translates to “Double Chocolate Crisps” (or so the packaging claims…).

When it comes to cookies I’m definitely into the ooey gooey variety, but I was at peace with the crispy crunch of this cookie, perhaps because it wasn’t a tooth-breaker (and because– come on, the Swedish! Just wait until we get to my True Blood recap). And, as the box says, there is chokladflarn involved. Never say no to chocolate in the afternoon. Never say never, either.

Spoiler alert: I only ate one. That’s a plus. I wish I could say I only ate one Pringle chip for my afternoon snack last week, that’s all I’m saying. (And I definitely ate more than the Kakor for my afternoon snack today– this is the one thing I’m choosing to tell you about. I have to keep up a facade of dignity, here.)

I think the best part about this snack is the name and the packaging. But, as my dad often says re: food, presentation is everything (except when it’s not, I say).

No regrets about the Kakor. Is it an everyday snacking staple? I was going to insert the Swedish phrase for “Probably not,” but when I googled “Swedish words” I found this, which is much better:

…och det spelar ingen roll ändå om hon ser ganska tjock ut, eller hur?

Translation: …and it doesn’t matter anyway if she looks fat, does it?

PC Cookie Monster says, “Cookies are a sometimes snack.” I think the Kakor falls into that category. Other cookies… well, we’ll save that for another day.

xoxo,

Snack-ette


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