Cast of characters:
bergerka, your intrepid heroine
slkinsey, the absent hero
Charlie, their roommate, who was kind enough to lend your heroine his digital camera and who seems to have no objection to serving as a test subject for recipes
ewindels, dessert maven and restaurant god
Eric_Malson, frequent partner in crime for cooking and restaurant/bar trips
Asher, Zebulun and Issachar, the ferrets, who turn their noses up at mice, preferring raw chicken.
Mickey, the little bastard of a cute fuzzy brown mouse who has taken up residence in our apartment. Mickey pushes traps aside contemptuously with his nose and likes to poop on my stovetop.
A few other characters will pop in and out from time to time.
First of all, thanks, everyone, for putting up with another foodblog from me. For anyone who doesn't know, I'm an opera singer who lives in New York City with slkinsey, our roommate Charlie, and three cute little ferrets. Somehow or other, I missed the day when we were all taught to cook, although I bake pretty decently. As mentioned above, slkinsey is out of town until just before Thanksgiving, and I am taking the opportunity to figure out the mysteries of the kitchen once and for all.
So far, I've made the following: a spicy pumpkin soup, described here, which was really good, sopa alentejana, also delicious, which Eric_Malson taught me to make (and which was my first experience ever poaching an egg. Hint: do not poach eggs for 5-8 minutes, as The Joy of Cooking tells you to do. You end up with concrete eggs. Fat Guy's EGCI course, here, is much better and easier to follow, and combined with telephone advice from mom produced two perfectly cooked eggs), and arroz al frango (a Portuguese chicken and rice dish), which Eric and I made this past Monday night. No, you don't get to see pictures of my first attempt at cutting up a whole chicken - there's only so much laughter at my expense that I can take. There were also pumpkin cranberry muffins that didn't turn out quite right, and a pumpkin cranberry pecan bread that did, I'll post the recipe below.
As mentioned above, Charlie the roommate has lent me his super-duper high tech digital camera, which does everything except push the button for you, so there will be pictures. I can't promise you the exquisite composition provided by, say, slkinsey and bleudauvergne, but they shouldn't be THAT blurry, and yes, there will be ferret porn, metaphorically speaking. I have planned the week to include a few evenings of cooking for myself, two evenings out (one at Churrascaria Tropical in Queens and one with fried dumplings in Chinatown followed by a trip to Pegu Club to overindulge - I mean, have one or two little...teeny...drinks), and - yes - one dinner party with friends at my apartment. If you have any (REASONABLE, remember I'm a beginner) requests, please express 'em and I'll do my best to accommodate. I may pick up opera tickets one or two nights, which will throw the whole schedule into turmoil.
Let's get started with breakfast, shall we?
Before he took off into the wild blue yonder, slkinsey taught me, once and for all, to use the damned espresso machine. We have a Rancilio Silvia, and I've always found it intimidating, but no more - after two weeks, I'm practically an expert. Plus I have the written instructions up on the refrigerator door. Slkinsey also roasted about a week's worth of coffee before he left, but I ran out of it and do NOT know how to work the roaster and have no desire to try. Fortunately, Eric_Malson introduced me to Cafe Caracolillo, which can be had for $8 a pound at La Rosita restaurant (where they make a delicious cafe con leche and cubano sandwich) and which makes a dark, thick, chocolatey shot of espresso. The bag is shown here:
Here is the Rancilio, savior of my morning:
Oooh, sorry, that picture is kind of dark - I thought I brightened it before I uploaded, but it was very early (I had to be at my day job at 8:30 today, a long story).
Here is the finished product, with a slice of pumpkin pecan cranberry bread.
Ack! I'll work on the pictures tonight, I promise. That one is really not very good.
For my birthday, a couple of weeks ago (28 again!), I asked my brothers and sisters to send me their favorite recipes. My sister Carol sent this one, for the bread:
Mix together in a bowl:
2 cups sugar
1 cup oil
2 cups pumpkin (cooked and mashed or canned - I used the leftover fresh pumpkin from the soup)
Into a separate bowl, sift:
3 1/3 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon allspice
2/3 cup milk
1 cup chopped nuts (I like pecans)
1 cup raisins, fresh or dried cranberries (if you use fresh, as I did - I like the tartness - cut them in half. I used about 1.5 cups), or mixed raisins/dates
Cream the eggs, oil, sugar and pumpkin in a bowl.
Gradually add dry ingredients, alternating with the milk. Beat well.
Fold in the fruit and nuts.
Bake in greased and floured loaf pan (this makes one very large loaf or two medium sized ones. Either way, fill pans a little more than 1/2 full with batter) at 350 degrees, for about one hour or until toothpick comes out clean.
Edited by bergerka, 02 November 2005 - 11:49 AM.