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.

Cup+Cake

I have a problem when it comes to cupcakes. I’m pretty sure that cupcakes are the reason I’ll never be an Olympian. At least that’s what I tell myself.

There are times when I’ll be sitting in my room, minding my own business, and the cupcake craving will attack. It’s unstoppable. I’m the reason cupcake vending machine exist.

So when I found out that you can make a cupcake in a mug, you can imagine it was a pretty good day.

CUPCAKE IN TEN MINUTES

The recipe for mug cake is super straightforward. I used this one (http://www.food.com/recipe/magic-chocolate-mug-cake-microwave-322553) by Zurie, but there are lots of options out there.

CAKE IN A MUG:

4 tablespoons flour

4 tablespoons sugar

2 tablespoons cocoa powder

1/8 teaspoon baking powder

1/8 teaspoon salt

1 egg beaten

3 tablespoons milk

3 tablespoons oil

2 -3 drops vanilla

First, I mixed all the dry ingredients in a small bowl. It looked super artistic, and I had one of those ‘why yes, I am a food blogger’ moments, until I realized I had added 4 tablespoons of cocoa instead of 2.

Don’t bake when you’re sleepy, folks.

Next I added the egg. I continued my streak of swell baking moves when I realized that I was supposed to beat the egg before adding it to the dry mix.

PROBLEM SOLVING!

Success.

Seriously. Cooking is for the awake.

I added the rest of the wet ingredients, and realized that it’s finals week. Finals week means no clean spoons in the house. So I found a plastic one. They really don’t work very well.

Also, pre-mixed, this looked disgusting.

The word snart comes to mind. *

Laaaaadies?

Next I attacked a tall mug with pam.

You’ve been PAMMED.

Too much Pam.

I poured the mix into the mug, and had a stroke of brilliance.

Yeeeeees.

Carmel center. Oh boy.

I microwaved the mix for two minutes and thirty seconds.

I’m going to go blind from this.

That thing climbed like spiderman (who is in the wash, and will return shortly). I tried to take a picture to show you how tall it got, but it’s a little hard to see through the microwave.

It deflated quite a bit when I took it out.

I had a second good idea.

I really don’t know why I make this face all the time.

I think it’s to keep people away from stealing my food.

This is where things got weird. Remember good idea number 1? The caramel center? I definitely put in a square of caramel. But it disappeared in the baking process.

Can has?

Other than this rather large disappointment, the cake was delicious. I highly recommend trying it out at home, and please send me your results!

Happy Monday.

P.S. There is a girl who takes all the pictures for my blogs, who I could not function without. It was her birthday this past weekend, and she looked like a princess. For all the times I’ve kept you from your homework, Caitlyn, I thank you. You’re the tops.

P.P.S. My brother graduated college this weekend, and that was kind of cool too.

Read more: http://www.food.com/recipe/magic-chocolate-mug-cake-microwave-322553#ixzz1uuQOhfCu

May 14, 2012. Tags: , . Cooking. 1 comment.

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.

Uncomfortable cooking- Episode 1: Meatloaf

Some housekeeping before we begin:

1. Last week, I checked my stats and realized that we’ve hit 1,000 views. I try not to get to wrapped up in readership and numbers, but it’s nice to know that I’m not just sending these posts out into the internet abyss. So thanks for coming back everyone, it’s been my pleasure to cook for you.

2. You can now expect a new post every Monday!

I’ve been trying to branch out recently and cook things that intimidate me or make me uncomfortable. The list is long, and includes things like whole fish, souffle, cake from scratch, anything incorporating meringue, anything that costs more than ten dollars, and anything with eyes. I also really dislike raw meat in general.

My first plan was to cook an entire fish, including the head and tail. As it turns out, most people don’t like it when their food stares back, and therefore most grocery stores don’t sell whole fish. So I’m working on that.

I decided instead to tackle something that really grosses me out; raw meat. And what dish uses more raw meat than meatloaf?

The Rough Recipe for Meatloaf:

1 lb ground beef

1 lb ground pork

1 package bacon

3 eggs

1 clove garlic (optional)

1 cup Italian bread crumbs

Several squirts of ketchup

Several dashes worcestershire sauce. (Did I look up how to spell that? Maybe.)

Italian seasoning

Salt and pepper to taste.

I began by preheating the oven to 375 degrees, and beating three eggs. For future reference, this is the right way to crack an egg:

Yes

This is the wrong way:

No

To the eggs I added the Italian season, ketchup, worcestershire sauce, salt, and pepper. If you wanted to add garlic or onion, this would be the time. This yielded a mixture that looked either like the sunrise or cat puke, depending on your artistic preference.

One man's sunrise is another man's sick.

Enter the raw meat. If you have rubber gloves, I highly suggest you wear them for this part. If you’re a broke writer like me, you’ll just have to suck it up. You’re going to put both packages of meat into the mix, then squish it through your hands until it’s fully broken up and coated in egg. Yes, it’s as gross as it sounds.

Love me?

No!

I REGRET NOTHING.

I regret everything.

Raw meat is exceptionally cold.
Bouncing doesn't help.

Hot water does.

Once I added the cup of bread crumbs, the temperature became much more manageable. I worked these through with the knowledge that the worst had passed.

Next I got out my 9×13 baking pan and formed the mixture into loaf in the center. I surrounded it with frozen vegetables, which turned out to not be the best idea. I coated the top of the loaf in ketchup, which reminded me a great deal of finger painting.

This maybe lasted a little too long.

Next, I draped that sucker in bacon, because everything is better with bacon.

I don't always eat bacon...
wait, yes I do.

Once the loaf reached maximum bacon capacity, I baked it at 35o degrees for about 40 minutes. Here is the finished result:

It smells like happiness.

As I mentioned, the vegetables were a mistake. The amount of time it took to cook the meatloaf crisped the hell out of them.

Did we eat them anyway?

Yes.

Thanks for stopping by, see you next week!

 

P.S. Meatloaf sandwiches are absolutely delicious.

P.P.S. “Meatloaf” sounds so much more appetizing than “loaf of meat.”

 

 

 

April 23, 2012. Tags: , , , . Cooking. 3 comments.

Bread and Blarney

My friends, I have returned! I was searching for something to make for you today, and I ran across Martha Stewart’s recipe for Irish Soda Bread. My initial reaction was one of confusion.

How exactly is the soda involved here?

However, upon reading the recipe, I discovered that the name comes from the baking soda used to leaven the bread. LEARNING!

*IRISH SODA BREAD:

  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, plus more for pan
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for kneading
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup raisins
  • 2 tablespoons caraway seeds (I might have skipped these. Maybe.)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 1/2 cups buttermilk (You can freeze what you don’t use.)
  • 2 large eggs

To begin, preheat the oven to 350 degrees and butter a baking sheet.

Check out that slick butter action.

Combine all dry ingredients in a large bowl. Don’t forget to add the salt like I did. It makes things awkward later.

In a separate bowl whisk together butter, eggs, and buttermilk. Something weird happens if you let this mix sit for about five minutes. I don’t know what kind of shenanigans were going on in there, but I ended up with this large chunk of butter bopping around.

Unplanned child of Buttermilk and Butter?

Fortunately, I was able to whisk everyone back into submission.

Pour the buttermilk mixture into the dry ingredients, and mix to form a dough. This will require a bit of muscle since the dough is pretty sticky. You will discover this when you go to transfer the dough to a cutting board for kneading. In my case, it went like this:

Psh...I can totally handle this dough.

Erm...okay...this is kind of sticky.

Dammit.

This is when disaster struck. I’m talking a full blown kitchen disaster that had the potential to derail this entire post. The very minute my hands were immersed in dough…..

Ke$ha came on my Pandora.

NO GOD PLEASE NO!

There was nothing I could do. The forced exposure lead to a brief moment of insanity, which I recorded below:

This stuff is serious. Don’t mess around.

Once you’ve sorted out the dough situation, it’s time to start kneading. You’ll want to flour the board to keep the dough from getting stuck. Knead and rotate for about four minutes, or until the dough starts to blister. Over-kneading will make the bread tough, so pay attention.

I knead you!

Form the dough into a nine inch ball, and place on the buttered baking sheet.

That's totally nine inches, right?

Score an X on the top with a sharp knife.

Bake for 45-50 minutes, until you can insert a knife all the way through and it comes out clean.

While you’re waiting for the bread to bake, there’s a number of things you can do.

Watch the bread rise.

Contemplate your life.

Catch up on your Shakespeare.

See how many raisins can fit on your nose. (7)

Be judged by your cat.

Cry about your life.

By this point, your bread should be done! I was shocked by how much bigger it became in the oven. It smells amazing, and it looks like giant chocolate chip cookie.

Happy St. Patrick’s day!!!

March 17, 2012. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , . Cooking. 4 comments.