The working life---the dawn of a new era

Or so it seems to two college graduates. And so it is with trepidation and excitement that we venture into this world, armed with a handful of recipes and an old spatula. Two women from both ends of the world, bonded by years of friendship and a newly discovered passion for cooking and baking. Care to join us?

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Asian-themed Dinner Part 1: Miso soup

(photographer: Kelvin Chu :P)

I decided to have an Asian-themed dinner this Friday to wind down after a long week--Miso soup, Garlic Soba Noodles, Garlic Parmesan Flatbread (leftover dough from the pizza), and some Almond Jelly (courtesy of my sister)

To start our Asian-themed dinner, I made some simple miso soup using miso paste and some firm tofu (forgot to buy some seaweed). I didn't really have a specific recipe that I followed, just had some boiling water, added some miso paste to taste (the trick is to mix the paste to boiling water in a separate bowl to avoid clumping), and some dashi granules (which is basically fish stock). Once the soup tasted like I wanted it to, I added the firm tofu, which I already cut into cubes and let it boil. Done!

Asian-themed Dinner Part 2: Garlic Soba Noodles

For the main course of the night, I decided to try a recipe I saw online. This recipe looked good from the first time I saw it--simple, quick and tasty. I didn't exactly follow it step-by-step, just sort of went with my gut (whoops--slightly tasteless there... maybe I should've measured). But it didn't turn out so bad!

To summarize the recipe, I fried firm tofu that had been dipped in egg, then covered with a mixture of breadcrumbs, parmesan cheese, garlic powder and salt. After boiling soba noodles, I stir-fried it with garlic powder, some chopped garlic, and parmesan cheese for flavor. I also added some green onion, and topped the dish with the firm tofu (sliced). Delicious!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Experiment #3: Pizza (with homemade dough)

The pizza itself was really easy to make, just choose a sauce and toppings. I used pesto sauce (from Trader Joe's) and varying toppings (I made 3 pizzas, all with different combinations of the following: stir-fried chicken, avocados, onions, mushrooms, bell peppers, olives).

For the pizza dough, I used this recipe (although, as you can see, my dough did not turn out as delicious looking as this website's). Instead of 4 1/2 cups of flour, I used 50% whole wheat flour and 50% all purpose flour. And instead of the instant yeast, I used active dry yeast, but only 75% of a teaspoon (approximate) according to this.

The pizza dough takes the longest time--after letting it rest overnight, bring it out 2 hours before baking and knead it a bit to form mini pizza-sized dough. Let rest.

When the dough is ready, spread the pizza sauce of your choice onto it (I don't like crust, so I tried to put pizza sauce as close to the edge as possible) and add whatever toppings you like--don't forget the cheese!

Experiment #2: Quiche

This is actually a pretty late post (I did the quiche a few weeks ago), but I still wanted to share:

So, this was, again, another relatively easy recipe, with pretty good results. I'm not the biggest fan of pie crusts, especially the pre-made kind. In my opinion, they just get in the way of flavor! So I used phyllo dough (2 sheets, folded in) instead of pie crust, to get a little bit of crust, but not TOO much. The trick with phyllo dough is (as I've learned the hard way) to cover the crust with some aluminum foil to prevent from burning while you bake the quiche. You also need to brush each sheet with some oil (I used oil embellished with some salt, pepper and other spices to give the crust a little bit of taste. I have to say though, this is either a stupid idea, or a brilliant idea that I didn't take too far, because the crust just tasted like crust).

This particular quiche I made with mushrooms, bell peppers, meat (can't remember what type of meat I put), spinach (not too much), fresh basil, and some avocado. Here is a more detailed recipe:

6 eggs (beaten, with salt, pepper and approximately 1 Tbsp milk)
1 Tbsp milk (approx.)
1/2 avocado (cut in small, even pieces)
Basil (few leaves)
1 c spinach
1/2 bell pepper
1 c chopped mushrooms
1 c meat (your choice!)
2 sheets phyllo dough

1. Follow phyllo dough instructions on defrosting. Place phyllo dough on desired baking pan.
2. Stir fry spinach, bell pepper, mushrooms and meat. Let cool.
3. Beat eggs, add milk. Add salt, pepper, and other spices to desired amount.
4. Preheat oven to 400 F
5. Once cool, add cooked ingredients to baking pan. Add basil and avocado.
6. Pour egg mixture on top evenly.
7. Bake for about 30 minutes, checking quiche at around 25 minutes.

The recipe is based on this, but you can mix it up and change ingredients here and there (like I did). Enjoy!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Penne alla Vodka

I spent a year in Beijing to learn Mandarin; to eat healthy, I bought a ceramic cooker so I could "cook" my own meals rather than eat the greasy food from the school cafeteria (or any restaurant in Beijing). Truth is, the only dishes I could cook was anything I could boil (i.e. pasta) or steam (i.e. frozen dumplings). Since getting home, I have wanted to cook a dish that did not come from opening a jar and simply pouring the contents out onto a pan for heating. I found this recipe for Penne alla Vodka on the website. Reading the recipe, it sounded simple enough for a virgin-cook to pull off; moreover, it was quick, healthy and delicious. I usually can't eat much of a cream-based pasta but this tomato-cream sauce was flavorful and rich without being too heavy.

Click here for the recipe.