Something Fishy- Part Two

Oh friends, I’m so sorry to have been gone so long. This summer has been crazy in the best way, but I feel like a jerk for leaving you on a cliffhanger. I won’t keep you any longer with excuses- let’s just jump back in where we left off.

Remember this fellow?

If you missed the last post, or maybe just forgot, here you go: https://cookingcrownunder.wordpress.com/2012/08/15/something-fishy-part-one/

So, what did I do with that fish?I baked him in a mound of salt (which was quickly dubbed the toasty fort of sodium).

It was actually very simple, and ended up being much easier than cleaning the fish in the first place. The hardest part was getting enough salt out of the box.

This shouldn’t take too long.

This is taking forever.

And this isn’t helping.

Maybe I’ll start a Sudoku….

…yeah I’m not gonna finish that.

DERP THERE’S A BIGGER SPOUT.

Which is worse than the other one.

Problem solving!

Yeahhhhhhh buddy!

My college degree at work.

Once I got past the salt debacle, the rest was straightforward. I mixed the salt with egg white, oregano, thyme, and whatever addictive drug they put in that Italian seasoning.

I recommend a bigger bowl.

I made a bed of salt, and layered lemon slices and bay leaves on top. I stuffed the fish with a few more lemon slices, and laid him on top.

His fin totally didn’t fit.

I took the remaining salt and covered him with it, packing it in tightly. Then I popped him in the oven for about 35 minutes. When it came out, the salt had hardened into a thick shell.

Which I cracked, after a lot of flailing.

There is something enormously satisfying about lifting large slabs of salt off your dinner.

Once I broke him out of his carbonite prison, all I had left to do was transfer him to a cutting board and make a little rice.

Yup, that’s two star wars references in two lines. Deal with it folks.

Making this dish was too much effort for a regular night, but I’m glad I had the experience. Maybe next time I’ll take it a step further, and catch the fish myself.

See you around the interwebs!

October 8, 2012. Tags: , . Cooking. 4 comments.

Something Fishy-Part One

Housekeeping: If you want more CookingCrownunder in your daily life, follow me on twitter!

I’ve always had a fascination with fish. When I was little I used to run up to the seafood display at the grocery store and have intense staring contests with the halibut and salmon. I’d stand there while my Mom shopped and give all of them very elaborate names, like “April Showers” or “Bucket.” I don’t think it ever occurred to me that they were dead- I just thought they’d be low maintenance pets.
A few weeks ago I found myself at the seafood counter in Whole Foods, with the distinct advantage of being able to see over the top. They had red snapper on sale, and I was feeling guilty about not blogging for a while. Maybe it was the guilt, maybe it was the lack of sleep, or maybe I’ve just been watching too much Game of Thrones, but I decided to pull a fisherman’s wife and clean it myself.

This was a really bad idea.
If you’re easily grossed out, I would suggest maybe skipping this post. I would too, if I didn’t have to write it.
I decided to make Martha Stewart’s salt baked fish, which calls for one whole fish scaled and cleaned. After some internet research and a lot of kicking myself I found out how to do this.

To scale a fish, you use the blunt edge of a knife and scrape from the tail to the head. Easy, right?

Nothing to it!

So far so good.

Maybe I should get in there a little more.

SCALE IN MY FACE.

It turns out that as you scrape them off, these suckers fly everywhere.

Like in your hair.

Or on your arms.

Or in your eye, again.

I later found several down my shirt. Sneaky devils.

Next I had to trim off all the fins, which were wicked sharp.

Yeah. Try high fiving that.

This was less gross, and more just difficult.

After a lot of muscle and some dull scissors, he was fin free.

Pro status, right here.

Without fins or scales in the way, I was able to remove the guts
To access the fishy pouch of nasty parts, I had to make a cut along the belly.

I learned how to do that from watching Grey’s Anatomy.

Then I had to reach inside, and remove everything.

Gross.

Grosser.

Grossest.

I never wanted to know a fish on this level.
I have a few pictures of actually removing the guts, but I feel like you guys have suffered enough. Stick around for the next post, and I’ll show you how I actually cooked this thing.

Until next time!

August 15, 2012. Tags: , , . Cooking. 4 comments.

Lazy Pasta

I don’t know if anything is more stressful than moving. I got a little misty when I was packing up the old kitchen-there are a lot of good memories there, including the creation of this blog. Our new kitchen is even smaller than the last one (believe it or not) but the appliances are much, much better. For example, the stove doesn’t lean.

I’ll repeat that. THE STOVE DOESN’T LEAN.

I can’t express how satisfying it is to pour olive oil in the pan and not have it puddle on one side. My sketch factor just went way down.

This stove is sexy, and it knows it.

I’m also in love with the refrigerator. It’s twice as big as our last one, and there are no “leave me here to rot” drawers.

It’s surprisingly snuggly.

After a long few days unpacking, no one particularly felt like cooking. It’s times like these that I like to resort to lazy pasta.

LAZY PASTA

1 box penne pata

1 jar newmans tomato sauce

1 large frozen chicken breast

1 square frozen bazil

Red pepper flakes to taste.

I start by defrosting a large chicken breast, and cooking it on my panini press. You can season it with garlic, but the one I got from target (who knew) came pre-seasoned.

Is it just me, or does that look a little bit like America?

I slice it into strips, and set it aside.

Cooking pasta is fairly straight forward. A little salt, a little olive oil, ten minutes, and you’re in business. Drain it, and you’re good to go.

It’s a spa for noodles.

Draining the pasta is easy, unless your strainer decides to rebel.

Yes.

No.

This is where the truly lazy part comes in. Rather than whipping up a delicious tomato sauce from scratch, I cheat.

Enter Newman’s Own.

Ours is a forbidden love.

It makes for a great base, and with a few additions it’s actually quite good. I like to warm the chicken in the bottom of the pot, add the sauce, and stir in the cubed basil and pepper flakes.

Cubed frozen basil is one of my new favorite things. I don’t have the time to keep a fresh basil plant alive, so I buy it frozen from Trader Joe’s. It’s delicious, and far more cost effective in the end. I use the frozen garlic as well, but I didn’t have any on hand this time.

Anyway, once the sauce is warm I add a healthy dose of red pepper flakes (we like things spicy) and stir in the pasta.

The whole process takes about 20 minutes, and makes plenty of food. Serve with a little wine, and relax.

Happy Wednesday everyone!

 

This kitchen is a bit less plankable.

June 27, 2012. Tags: , . Cooking. 6 comments.

Dinner for the weary kind

Hello friends!

The closer I get to my graduation date, the more frenetic my life gets. I’m juggling school, homework, internship, and a social life, and the result is something like this:

After an hour and a half commute, the last thing I feel like doing is making dinner. That’s when I turn to my easiest go-to recipe. It’s four ingredients, fifteen minutes, rather healthy, and is an awful lot better than fast food.

Greek Chicken Cutlets:

4 frozen chicken cutlets

1 pint grape tomatoes

1/2 cup feta cheese

Mint leaves

Salt and Pepper to taste.

If you don’t have a bag of these in your freezer, you need to get one.

You can cook them and use them in pasta, salads, or just eat them with your bare hands. It’s the most versatile piece of chicken ever. I get mine from trader joes, for about $6.99.

I defrosted my cutlets in the microwave, and gave them a liberal coating of salt and pepper. It was about this time that Amy decided to play a game of ‘the floor is lava.’

She stayed up there for quite a while.

When I don’t feel like dealing with the hassle of a pan and oil, I bust out my panini press. It stands in as a quick grill quite well. I laid the defrosted cutlets on the press, then clamped those suckers down.

Caitlyn was worried I was going to clamp Amy’s tail in the panini press.

Amy slipped a bit here.

While the cutlets cooked, I sliced the grape tomatoes in half.

Warning: If you puncture a tomato with the tip of your knife, it will squirt you in the eye. Maybe you’ll overreact and throw a small kitchen tantrum. It happens.

If I were a tomato, I’d spit at me too.

By the time I rinsed out my eyes, the chicken was cooked through. On a related note, is anything more satisfying than grill marks?

You’re beautiful, it’s true.

I smothered them in the sliced tomatoes, and topped it with a hefty sprinkling of cheese.

We bought the fat free feta because it’s cheaper. True story.

Usually I would garnish this with mint leaves, which are delicious, but…well…I forgot to buy them. So that’s awkward.

The plate lasted all of about 30 seconds.

Nom.

Gone.

Serve with white wine.

But only if you can open it.

Stay classy internet.

What’s your go to meal on weary days?

 

 

May 7, 2012. Tags: , . Cooking. 9 comments.

Making Pizza: Because the people at Valentino’s know my name.

Here’s a quick tip of the day for you. Always buy produce with a plan. Otherwise, you may wind up in this situation:

The sad thing is, I didn’t throw the onion away after taking this picture. I think it’s because I once saw an episode of gumby where his house was taken over by a giant plant, and I always thought it was kind of cool. So I’ll keep you posted on that.

Now, let’s get down to business. (5 points to anyone who finished that with; to defeat the Huns)

I love pizza. It’s one of the few foods that tastes good no matter what time of day you eat it. It’s also a fairly good gauge of your emotional state. Having a good time with friends? Eat one piece. Sitting home alone watching 30 rock and drinking two buck chuck? Eat the whole pizza. I’ve had to cut back on my pizza recently, since I’ve realized that all the main delivery places in Orange now know me by name and sight.

Awkward.

I’ve always wanted to make my own pizza, and I finally got the opportunity this weekend. Trader Joe’s sells pizza dough, sauce, mozzarella cheese, and pepperoni, all in the same aisle. Go there at your own risk.

I preheated the oven, and got a little pumped to try my dough tossing skills.

This is what I expected:

This is what happened:

I promise I'm wearing pants.

In the end, I ended up doing the cheater method and let gravity do all the work.

It turned out surprisingly circular. I dropped a big dollop of pizza sauce on top (since I believe that’s where 80% of the flavor comes from).

Clearly when I say circular, I mean slightly deformed.

I added the cheese by making it snow on my pizza.

I make it rain....cheese....

Then I covered it in pepperoni. Originally I made a smiley face for you guys:

But then I realized that was a waste of prime real estate.

The pizza baked for about ten minutes at 450 degrees.We used this opportunity to make mini pizzas out of the remaining cheese, sauce, and pepperoni. We didn’t take pictures because, well, it’s a little sad.

But there is nothing sad about this:

YES

We were so hungry. It was so delicious. Between the two of us, we ate the entire thing:

She burnt off the pizza by trying to capture the pictures of my dough tossing. What a champ.

I went pretty basic here, but I’d love to know what all of you like to put on your pizza.  Please, send me your dough tossing attempts. Try not to get it on the ceiling.

Happy Monday everyone (what’s left of it)!

April 30, 2012. Tags: , . Cooking. 10 comments.

My farewell to tacos

My friends, this is a sad day. Tomorrow I am beginning P90X, and along with this new workout regimen comes new eating habits. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m psyched to start eating healthy. There are just some food habits I’m having a hard time letting go of.

Like tacos.

The first week I came to Chapman I was introduced to a magical place called Taqueria De Anda. All the other tacos in my life were instantly forgotten. The word taco no longer meant crunchy yellow shells, translucent lettuce, and sketchy ground beef. I had met my taco soulmate, and there was no going back.

At Taqueria, they make tacos that are the size of your fist. They are in soft, small, flour tortillas and smothered in onions and cilantro. I have easily eaten six in one go.

Just look at these bad boys.

So last night we visited Taqueria for the last time. The take out menu seemed to glow with a little less brightness, and the chicken shaped jungle gym sat abandoned and empty. The man who handed us our food did so with the gleam of rejection in his eye. I had to brush away a tear as I put my horchata in it’s cup holder for the last time.

I felt like such a traitor.

There is just something so comforting about these tacos. They come with their own little chunks of lime, and an excessive amount of salsa. When you eat them, you make this face:

Our first kiss

So it is with a heavy heart and a spicy mouth that I bid farewell to one of my great loves. Tacos, you have always been there for me. I will always care about you, but I think we need to start seeing other people. I love you, I’m just not in love with you.

I hope we can still be friends.

It's not you, it's me.

February 27, 2012. Tags: , , , , , , . Uncategorized. 9 comments.

Mardi Gras: For the hungover people

Good morning, my hungover friends!

As college students, we have a unique ability to turn almost any holiday into an excuse to party. This week we were afforded two opportunities, known as President’s Day (you just know those guys got down) and Mardi Gras.

So chances are, if you spent your night like this….

You probably woke up feeling like this:

Ah yes, the hangover. Right about now, your head feels like it’s trying to implode from the inside. You might be snuggling with a puke bucket. This is usually when the construction workers in your complex decide to start using that power drill outside your window.

It’s not a good morning.

This next part is really important. STEP AWAY FROM THE GREASY FOOD. Put down the taco bell, and pay attention. While those tortillas filled with greasy meat sound delicious right now, they can’t help you. What you really need is eggs. According to CNN (I did research, just for you!) eggs contain a small amount of Cysteine, which helps break down hangover causing toxins. I realize that the last thing you feel like doing right now is cooking, but guess what?

You can make scrambled eggs in a bowl! That’s right, no messy pan, no standing over the stove. Here’s how it works:

Hungover Scrambled Eggs:

2 large eggs

2 teaspoons milk

1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 scallion, thinly sliced

1 cherry tomato, quartered

Combine the eggs, milk, pepper, and salt in a 10 ounce bowl. Stir in scallion.

If you look closely, these eggs are smiling at you with a black eye.

Beat the hell out of them with a fork, then microwave for 45 seconds. Maybe take this time to brush your teeth.

By now, your eggs should look like this:

Microwave for about 45 more seconds, until the eggs are just set. With a clean fork, stir in the cheese. Cover with a paper towel and let sit for about a minute.

Once the cheese is melted, break up the eggs with a fork.

Top with the quartered cherry tomato, and you’re finished! Try not to spend too much time crying over your life decisions.

If your head is still killing you, eat your eggs with a cup of coffee. The caffeine will help the blood flow to your head. True story.

Happy hangover everyone!

Here is the original scrambled eggs recipe: http://www.marthastewart.com/315042/zap-it-scrambled-eggs-and-cheese

[Pictures are a dramatization, and do not represent actual events]

February 22, 2012. Tags: , , , , , . Cooking. 1 comment.

Victory Over Valentines

, DAh, Valentines day. One of the only days that couples and singles dread alike. One of the most awkward and stress inducing holidays, it can bring you anything from snuggles to tears. So whether you’re spending your day like this:

Or like this:

Yes, that is P.S. I love you. Judger no judging.

Chances are, you’re going to need some backup in the form of sugar. Thanks to Ina Garten, I have the perfect thing. Prepare yourself for Comforting Coconut Cupcakes. (Shut up, I like alliteration).

Comforting Coconut Cupcakes:

3/4 pound unsalted butter

2 cups sugar

5 extra large eggs

1 1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract (Does anyone sell impure vanilla extract? Is there like, an off-brand slutty kind?)

1 1/2 tsp. pure almond extract (See above).

3 cups all purpose flour

1 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. salt

1 cup buttermilk

14 ounces sweetened, shredded coconut. (You really, really want to get it shredded. But thats another story).

Begin your valentines day comfort baking by preheating the oven to 325 degrees. Preheat it now. Don’t forget about it like I did and end up sitting around for 15 minutes rearranging the word tiles on the fridge.

In the bowl of an electric mixer (mine is pink), you will cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Don’t skimp here, or your cupcakes will be dense. It’s true. Martha told me.

Next add the eggs one at a time. Add the vanilla and almond extracts, mixing well.

It's a face! Kind of...

In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. If you don’t have a sifter, like me, you can just beat it really aggressively with a fork. I hope.

In three parts, alternately add the dry ingredients and the buttermilk to the batter. Mix until just combined. Fold in 7 ounces of coconut.

Line a muffin pan with paper liners, and fill to the top with batter. An ice cream scoop works great for this, provided that there isn’t a hole in the bottom.

Bake for 25-35 minutes. While the cupcakes are baking, you could do several things:

-work on your homework

-take a shower

-or do this dance: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nsBZz_F3lSI&context=C3e3d00fADOEgsToPDskL9FSFD9fOW1koJDYw1Mu_A

If you skipped that link, I highly recommend you go back.

Once done baking, allow the cupcakes to cool completely before you frost them. If you don’t, the frosting will melt, and you will be sad.

The frosting for these is a basic cream cheese frosting:

1 pound cream cheese

3/4 pound unsalted butter

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1/2 pure almond extract

1 1/2 pounds confectioners sugar, sifted.

This one is pretty straightforward. Mix together everything but the sugar in an electric mixer. Then add the sugar and mix again. It tastes like cream cheese and heaven had a baby, and that baby was Oprah.

Frost your cupcakes once cool. Don’t stress about them looking perfect, because you’re going to cover them in the remaining shredded coconut.

Eat me! I'll make you feel better!

And there you go! You now have a tiny army to help you face Valentines day.

Special thanks to Lisa Holtgraver for being my constant taste tester, Jack Litchfield for pinch hitting with flour and cameras, and Caitlyn Williams for helping me look like a spaz on the internet. You guys are the best.

February 14, 2012. Tags: , , , , , , , , , . Cooking. 9 comments.

Katie Vs. The Chicken

There’s something incredibly satisfying about cooking a whole chicken. It gives you an inflated sense of confidence, in a “why yes, I could have been a fifties house wife” kind of way. You get this idyllic image in your head of yourself, dressed in a flouncy white apron pulling a crispy golden bird out of the oven.

In all honesty, it’s freaking disgusting. There’s knives and guts and all sorts of gross stuff. But we’ll get to that later.

The recipe I used is from A NEW BOOK that my Aunt sent me. Barefoot Contessa. It’s amazing. Oh yeah. All the recipe requires is:

1 Whole chicken, 5-6 pounds.

1 Lemon, cut in half.

1 Head of garlic, cut lengthwise.

2 Tablespoons of melted butter

1 Bunch of fresh thyme

1 Onion, sliced

Salt and pepper

And that’s it! Pretty straightforward, right? At least, that’s what I thought.

 

I purchased my chicken at trader joe’s. Here’s the little guy:

It's okay to be jealous of my spiderman apron.

The first step is to place the chicken in the sink, and remove the giblets. Giblets is a nice name for nasty ass chicken organs. I really did not enjoy this part. Especially when a tiny kidney landed on my hand.

At least they come in a little bag...

I strongly recommend you put the giblets and chicken trash in a bag, and throw it away outside. If you throw it away in your kitchen, it will start to smell like a zombie fart.

Next, rinse the chicken inside and out. Pat dry with a paper towel, making extra sure to remove as much water as possible from the cavity. According to Caitlyn, cavity is a nice name for what used to be the uterus. So that’s fun.

Now place the chicken breast side up in a roasting pan. Take the lemon and squeeze the juice over the skin, and sprinkle it liberally with salt and pepper. This is where it gets awkward. You’re going to take the lemon, garlic, and thyme, and stuff it inside the cavity. I always feel really rude doing this.

I just feel so awkward right now.

You guys. Get excited. Guess what we’re going to use?!

Aw yeahhhh

ITS THE BASTING BRUSH!!

Okay calm down. It’s not that exciting.

Using the BASTING BRUSH you’re going to coat the skin of the chicken in butter. This will make it crispy and delicious.

Check out that sweet basting brush action.

Last step before baking! Using twine (or thread from the sewing kit your mom made you take to college) you’re going to tie the chicken’s legs together.

Girl, put your legs together.

Scatter the slice onion in the pan, then put it in the oven! The chicken will bake at 425 degrees for about an hour and a half. There are a few ways to check for doneness: you can use a meat thermometer, cut the joint between the thigh and body and see if the juices run clear, or wiggle the leg. I like the last one best. If the leg wiggles too loosely, it’s not done. If it gives some resistance, you can go ahead and take it out.

So. You roasted a whole chicken. It’s sitting on your counter.

How do you eat it…..exactly?

I found carving the chicken a wee bit stressful. I just felt mean. Basically, you hack off the legs and set them aside. Then you remove the breast meat by working a knife around the cartilage. Super cute, right?

I'm sorry I'm sorry I'm sorry!

Once you move past destroying the innocent chicken with knives, it turns into this deliciousness:

Om nom nom nom.

Put the chicken carcass in a large plastic bag in your freezer for days you want to make soup! Hooray!

 

February 7, 2012. Tags: , , . Uncategorized. 2 comments.

Cathartic Cooking

Jen is commenter of the week for letting us know that the tiny green broom is actually a basting brush! So, that’s cool.

I know I promised you a grocery store post, but that’s going to have to wait. My brain resents anything that has more than five steps, and grocery shopping has like, ten.

So instead, angry cooking!!

If you ever have a lot of pent up emotions, you should make chicken picatta. It’s delicious, and you get to hit things.

Chicken Picatta:

1/4 cup all purpose flour

Course salt and freshly ground pepper

4 chicken cutlets (little pieces of boneless chicken)

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

3 tablespoons dry white wine

3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (or however much you have left…)

2 tablespoons capers, rinsed

1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

Once you have assembled your ingredients, you get to do the fun part. You’re going to take the four cutlets, cover them with plastic wrap, and beat the hell out of them with a mallet.

However, too much enthusiasm can be dangerous.

The goal in pounding the meat (grow up) is to make it a uniform thickness. According to Martha, this will help it to cook evenly.

The next step is to whisk together the flour, salt, and pepper in a shallow dish. You will then dredge each piece of chicken in the flour mixture, coating it evenly.

I really don't like touching raw meat.

Next you heat the oil and a tablespoon of butter in a skillet over medium high heat. Place the chicken in a single layer until it browns, about 2-3 minutes for each side.

Caitlyn says they look like manatees.

Once cooked through, remove the chicken and reduce the heat. The best part of chicken picatta is the light buttery sauce, which I’ll show you how to make now.

You’re going to add the wine, scraping any browned bits from the pan with a wooden spoon. Prepare yourself for the wine. When I poured it in, I was expecting it to just bubble in the pan. This is what happened instead:

This was not part of the plan

I’m not sure why this happened. Was my heat too high? Probably. Did it help that I bought terrible wine from the gas station? Probably not. It splattered everywhere. On the plus side, we discovered our ceiling fan works.

After the fireworks, you’ll continue scraping until the liquid is reduced by half. Remove the pan from the heat, and add the lemon juice, parsley, capers, and remaining butter. Swirl to incorporate, and drizzle over the chicken.

Eat me!

And you’re done! Hopefully you’ve gotten rid of your inner rage, between the chicken smashing and exciting wine. We ended up eating the chicken on one plate, with two forks and one knife. Baby steps, people.

February 3, 2012. Tags: , , , . Cooking. 3 comments.

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