Baking tragedy

Posted: June 5, 2010 | Author: Alyssa | Filed under: Alyssa | 3 Comments »

Have you ever done something eight thousand times without thinking about it, and then the one time you really put all your effort into it, you can’t get it to work for the life of you?  This is pretty much the course of my life, so I shouldn’t have been surprised when it happened over memorial day weekend.  I was going to a cookout at boy’s friend’s house, and he requested that I make flour-less chocolate cake to bring.  I have been making this recipe for a while, and it always comes out really well.  Its velvety with a melt in your mouth texture, and super chocolaty.  I made it the day before because it has to chill overnight to set, and everything seemed to be perfect.

On Sunday, I decided to make some pinwheel munchies in addition to the cake.  I decided on spinach and cheese, and then remembering the guys I was cooking for, decided to do HALF spinach and cheese, and the other half chicken, bacon and ranch.  Pinwheels are absurdly easy, and everyone really seemed to like them.

Pinwheels:

Thaw two sheets of frozen puff pastry and unfold them onto a floured surface.  Some people will tell you to roll it out a little bit to thin it, but I just flour my hands and thin it out with my fingers because its easier.

Spinach filling:

1pkg frozen spinach

grated gruyere

diced garlic

sour cream.

Cook the spinach and drain it completely, then add the garlic, and cheese.  I wanted something to hold it all together and the only thing I had was sour cream, but you could use anything really.  Add just enough until it is all bound together but don’t add so much that it becomes a base.

Chicken filling:

1 chk breast, roasted and diced

3 pieces bacon cooked and diced

cheddar cheese grated

ranch dressing

Mix together the chicken, bacon, and cheese, then add the ranch until it all sticks together and tastes like you want it to.

Spread the filling on the pastry and roll up like a jelly roll

Wrap the roll in plastic wrap and put it in the freezer for about 30-45 minutes to make it easier to slice.  Slice it into about 1/4 inch slices and bake at 400 for about 15 min until golden brown.

The pinwheels are really quick and easy to make, so I was thinking this was going to be just another day.

FALSE

While the first set of pinwheels were baking, I pulled the cake out of the fridge, soak the bottom of the pan in hot water for 10 seconds and flip it onto a plate, just like I have done 100 times in the past.  Normally, the pan slides off nicely leaving a beautiful chocolate cake behind.  Not today…I COULD NOT get that damn cake out of the pan.  I soaked it, I hit it I banged it on the counter, I tried to gently loosen the sides with a plastic knife, nothing.  Finally, I was pissed off enough to just jam a knife down the sides and run it all around, ruining the edges of the cake and still not releasing it from its nonstick prison.  After more pounding, prying and cursing to the point of making a sailor blush, I finally got it out of the pan and on to a plate…where it promtly sagged in the middle because it was not fully cooked despite the fact that I had done EXACTLY the same thing I had done in the past.  Pissed off to the point of no return I decide to leave the cake for a minute, and finish up the second batch of pinwheels that have one minute left on the timer.

I open the oven to check them, and they are barely cooked.  Turns out, when I turned off the timer from the first batch of pinwheels, I also inadvertently turned off the oven.    So as I’m supposed to be walking out the door, I am kicking things, cursing, turning the over back on hoping that they will cook in the next 15 minutes, and trying to deal with the great cake debacle.  After a quick text to let the most patient man on the planet know that I will be late, I try to figure out what the hell has happened to my life in the past 45 min and how to fix it, which at this point is just me trying to put lipstick on a pig and call it America’s next top model.

I have the cake back in the fridge trying to keep it chilled for as long as possible, realizing that once it starts to warm up, there is a solid possibility that it will melt all over the place.  I finally get an idea and (at this point its more about presentation than salvation) pull out one of my springform pans.  I take out the bottom and flip the cake onto it, and then put the form back on to keep the sides in place.  It actually looked like a normal cake, and that was the best I could do, so I covered it in tinfoil and hoped for the best.  The pinwheels were finally done, so I threw those into the container and ran out the door, almost 40 minutes late at this point.

The pinwheels were good, but the cake was a melted disaster (think moldable pudding), but luckily it tasted good, so everyone seemed pretty happy about it.

It was probably one of the worst cooking days I’ve ever had, but after a couple of beers and game of cornhole, that I sucked at by the way, it was actually a pretty good memorial day.


Rhubarb

Posted: May 19, 2010 | Author: Alyssa | Filed under: Alyssa | Tags: , , , | 3 Comments »

I fell in love with rhubarb when I was 21.  I had just graduated from college and had agreed to travel to Denmark and Germany for almost a month with the family that I had been a nanny for during my last year.  We started in Copenhagen, spent some time in Hamburg, and even had a couple of days at the original Lego-Land, which was mildly entertaining, but not when you are toting around two children that are not yours while their parents criticize every move you make.  The best part, however; had to be the ten days we spent on an organic farm in the country outside of Copenhagen.  This was where I learned all sorts of new thing about fruits and vegetables.  Cucumbers, when left to their own devices, will grow curvy.  Fresh mango is the most amazing flavor in the world, and rhubarb is super delicious and WAY more versatile than I thought.  There was a rhubarb patch behind the farm house, so I would take the kids out in the afternoon and pick the biggest leaves so we could use the edible portion for dinner.

As a scientist I also this its pretty cool since the leaves are highly toxic to humans, but the stalk, also known as the petiole, that connects the leaf to the stem is completely edible.  One of my colleagues, who is a botanist, tries to accompany each of his plant anatomy lessons with ‘edible visual aids’ so he had carrots and ranch dressing for the kids when they were learning about roots, hot chocolate and coffee when they were learning about seeds, etc…  So the other day they were studying leaves, and he brought in rhubarb pie.  He offered me some of the left over and as I was shoveling it into my face, while trying to appear calm and casual I started thinking about different rhubarb recipes that I could try now that it is back in season.  In Denmark we made a lot of cobbler/crumble type desserts with rhubarb, and one morning we put it on our pancakes which was super delicious, but I wanted to do something a little bit different just because thats what I do.  So after thinking about it and looking around I came up with these:

Rhubarb White Chocolate Brownies:

The Brownies:

2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped

1/2 cup unsalted butter

1cup sugar

2 Eggs

1/2 tsp vanilla

1/4 cup flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

Melt the chocolate and butter over a double boiler until its smooth.  Take it off the heat and mix in the sugar, vanilla and eggs. Finally, add the flour and salt.

Rhubarb:

Cut rhubarb in appx 1/3″ slices until you have a full cup.  Put it in a small sauce pan with 1/3 cup water and 2 1/2 tbsp sugar.  Bring the mixture to a boil for about a minute, then reduce the heat and let simmer until the rhubarb falls apart a bit when you stir it.  Remove it from the heat and pour it into a blender or food processor.  Let it cool for a few minutes and then blend it until it forms a smooth compote.

White Chocolate:

Melt white chocolate pieces with some heavy cream until it forms a smooth mixture that is thick, but pour-able.

I folded the rhubarb mixture in to the brownie batter, poured it into an 8×8 brownie pan and drizzled the chocolate over the top.  Bake for 45 minutes at 325, or until a fork in the center comes out clean.

The flavors all came together just like I wanted them to, and these bad boys are delicious with the sweet and tangy balancing each other out.

Here’s what I didn’t like:

1) The rhubarb flavor wasn’t as strong as I wanted it to be, so next time I think I will reduce the compote to concentrate the flavor.  I also might drizzle it over the top rather than mix it in with the batter, but that will probably be decided as I’m making it next time.

2) The white chocolate was a little dense and sort of sank into the batter as you can see from the picture.  I want to find a way to lighten up the mixture so that it hangs out more on the top.  Perhaps beating in some cream cheese?  Any suggestions would be more than welcome.

As we head in to summer, I am excited about all the produce opportunities that are coming my way, so hopefully I will end up with some great new summer recipes.


The first time.

Posted: May 16, 2010 | Author: Alyssa | Filed under: Alyssa | No Comments »

I have been single for three years.  Don’t get me wrong, I’ve dated guys over the past three years, but nothing has really stuck.  I have been a serial monogamist all my life, and after my last relationship I realized that I needed some time to sort my life out and get to know myself again.  The end of the relationship also happened to coincide with graduate school, so I was really focused on getting my life where I wanted it to be for a while.  I kept dating along the way, but those of you that remember the dating world, or who are still in the midst of it, know how absurd and crazy it can be.  So when I started dating a new guy a couple months ago, I was terrified.  Dating, to me, is just a series of nerve wracking, terrifying, and awkward firsts.  The first date, first kiss, first time meeting friends, and for me, the first time I cook him dinner.  Luckily, all the other firsts with him had gone amazingly well, so when I cooked dinner for the first time, I was a little less nervous than I could have been.

In a conversation prior to dinner, while I was figuring out what I would make, he mentioned to me that he preferred boxed mashed potatoes to real ones.  Those of you who know me, know that this statement alone was enough to infuriate me, so I was determined to change his mind.  I finally settled on fried ravioli for an appetizer, Asian marinated flank steak with loaded mashed potatoes and flour-less chocolate cake for dessert.

Ironically in my over zealous attempt to make my mashed potatoes better than a box, I ruined them by over mashing them and they came out totally pasty.  Being the incredible sweet man that he is , he told me they were delicious anyway, but I was angry about it all night.  So my quest will continue to make him great mashed potatoes.

We started dinner with fried cheese ravioli, which are phenominally easy and delicious.  Just take prepared ravioli (I used Buitoni because they were on sale) dip each piece in buttermilk, then in seasoned bread crumbs.  Fry in 350 degree oil until they are golden brown on both sides.

For the flank steak, I just marinated it all day and then seared it in a pan for about 5 min on each side at medium-high heat.  The marinade was easy enough, I pretty much just threw everything in my pantry that seemed asian into  abag with the steak: Soy sauce, sesame oil, garlic, green onion, cooking sherry, green onion, and ginger.

The potatoes we will not discuss at length because I will start to get depressed again, but just make standard mashed potatoes and add cheddar cheese, bacon and green onion to them (a dash of garlic powder and cayenne will kick them up even more).

The chocolate cake was also fairly easy and came out really well:

  • 8 ouncess semisweet chocolate.  I use chocolate chips b/c they melt easily
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat the over to 300 degrees.  Melt the butter in a double boiler (or a bowl resting in a pot of boiling water if you’re anything like me), and then add the chocolate a couple of ounces at a time until it is all melted together and smooth.  Remove it from the heat and add the rest of the ingredients, again mixing until smooth.  Bake for 38 minutes at 300.

All in all it was a good dinner, although I am pretty critical of myself, so I was really upset about the mistakes I made.  Luckily, boy didn’t seem to notice, or he’s a good liar.  Either way, I guess it works :)

I know I stated this before but cooking for someone, in my mind, is the ultimate way I can show them that I care about them and want to take care of them.  A couple of friends have recently had babies and one of the first things I thought about (after, holy cute baby!) was what can I cook for them to make their lives easier.  So I guess dinner was just another step in the whole dating process, but for me it was a big one and I’m really glad it went well :)




Olives!

Posted: May 6, 2010 | Author: Alyssa | Filed under: Alyssa | Tags: | 4 Comments »

As we slowly slide into spring I am excited about all the fun spring and summer dishes that I get to make.  When its warm out I tend to work more with salads and vegetables because the veggies are so good, and when its hot out, I’m not really in the mood for a super heavy meal.  One thing that I tend to use a lot of in the warm weather is olive tapenade.  I LOVE tapenade because you can throw it in a salad to give it some kick, you can use it in meat dishes, pasta dishes, and pretty much anything other kind of dish you want.  Unfortunately a lot of the store bought tapenades have stuff in them that I don’t care for, like pimento or capers, so I decided to make my own.

1 cup kalamata olives

1/2 cup green olives

2 cloves of garlic

2-ish tsp  lemon juice

olive oil

Put the olives and garlic in the food processor and pulse on high until they are fully chopped.  Then add the lemon juice and while the blades are spinning,drizzle in olive oil until it is the consistency you want.  Use what you want and just store the rest in the refrigerator.

I will probably have this on hand all summer because its so easyand versatile.  Anything from a simple appetizer spread on toasty italian bread, or tossed on to pasta with parmesan and grilled portabella.  This time I used it in a stacked tomato salad.

Starting with a slice of tomato, spread some tapenade, and top with a slice of fresh mozz.   Keep stacking until you are content, or until you have totally lost control of the structural integrity of the meal.

I think that next time I might throw in a little red onion to add some sweetness and a little bit of a different flavor.  A lot of people will add a couple of anchovy fillets, but I tend to feel that anchovies make it too salty when they are combined with the brine of the olives.

This is a pretty forgiving recipe and I fully intend to play with different ingredients until I really make it perfect.

Any suggestions?


Thinking

Posted: May 2, 2010 | Author: Alyssa | Filed under: Alyssa | 2 Comments »

Recently,  I had to make a gigantic decision.  I had to decide what the next step in my career/life was going to be.  I was lucky enough to have several different opportunities and the decision was one of the most difficult I’ve ever had to make.  They day before my deadline I was so overwhelmed that I could barely think, so I did what I normally do when I can’t think and I got to work in the kitchen.   My main dish was going to be a stuffed pork chop with shallot and brie, but I wasn’t so sure about a side dish.  So while perusing the internet for ideas I came across a recipe for champagne risotto.   I thought this was a perfect dish for me at the time, because risotto is amazing comfort food, but champagne is the ultimate in celebratory beverages, so it sort of encompassed my riduculously confused state of mind.  Now I didn’t have any asparagus, and I rarely follow a recipe to the tee, so I changed it up a little.

I started by bringing 3 cups of chicken stock to a simmer, while I was sauteeing my diced shallot and garlic in about a Tbsp of butter.  Once the shallot was tender, I added the arborio rice and mixed it in to the shallot so that it toasted a little (about 5 minutes).  Once the rice was completely coated in butter and a little toasty, I added the champagne.  Rather than adding 3/4 cup champagne all at once, I added 1 cup of champagne, 1/2 cup at a time.  So I added the first half, let it absorb, then added the second half.  Once all the champagne was absorbed, I started adding the chicken stock one ladle full (about 1/2 cup) at a time, making sure the liquid had fully absorbed in between each addition.  Once all the liquid was gone and the rice was fully cooked, I threw in the rest of the butter and Parmesan until it tasted like I wanted it to.

As I served it (to myself) I topped it with some crispy prosciutto pieces that I had thrown into the oven at 400 for about 8 minutes just until it was crispy.  It was the perfect partner to my stuffed pork chop and was just complex enough to occupy my mind and clear it out a little.

As I had hoped, while I was cooking I had sort of sub-consciously been working through all my information and by the time I was done, I knew what the right decision was for me.  Which is why I can proudly and excitedly announce that this Pretty Girl will be moving to Massachusetts this summer.  That also means that since I will be so much closer, we can all look forward to more Pretty Girls get crazy events in the future :)

Once again the kitchen came through for me at a very difficult and overwhelming time in my life. There is something immensely comforting about really diving into a recipe and letting your hands do the work rather than your mind. Cooking is such a sensory experience its easy to lose yourself in the tastes, smells and textures and just forget about everything for a while.  It always amazes me how much it helps me during stressful times, but I am very glad that I know where to turn when I am about to lose my mind.


S’monuts

Posted: April 23, 2010 | Author: Alyssa | Filed under: Alyssa | 1 Comment »

Yeah, that title sounds weird, but how else do you describe donuts filled with marshmallow and chocolate?

Tonight I was really craving something sweet, but had no desire leave my apartment, so I decided to improvise.  I had a tube of mini buttermilk biscuits in my fridge which would work nicely for a dough, then I had some mini marshmallows and chocolate chips, so I came up with S’MONUTS…

In all honesty I was figuring this one would tank pretty hard because it was conceived in about 2 minutes off the top of my head out of random things I found in my kitchen, but overall it was pretty good.

You will need:

1 tube mini-buttermilk biscuits

Chocolate chips

Mini marshmallows

Granulated sugar

Oil for frying (350 degrees)

While the oil is heating, take each biscuit and put a couple of marshmallows and a few chocolate chips in the center.  The picture only shows a 2 chips and a marshmallow, but you should add more than that if you really want to get the flavor.

After you place them in the center,wrap the dough around the center and roll into a ball.  Make sure you pinch all the edges to seal them so that the filling doesn’t explode out of the donut when you fry it.

Put into the hot oil and fry on each side until it is golden brown and the outside has gotten a little crunchy.  Then let them rest on a paper towel to drain for a few minutes.  Once they are cool enough to handle, roll them in some granulated sugar,  cinnamon sugar, or powdered sugar depending on your preference.

After they are completely cool, all thats left to do it enjoy!  This is a pretty quick, easy, and relatively inexpensive way to make donuts at home.  You don’t have to put stuff in them, you could just as easily poke a hole in the middle and fry it up like a regular donut.  I personally like a little surprise when I bite into my delicious treats…

I think from start to finish, the whole endeavor took me about 35 minutes, so this would be a really quick and easy Sunday brunch dish as well.  Its one of those fun foods that seems kind of impressive, but is really super easy.And if anyone thinks of another (better)  name for them, feel free to share! :)


The best thing I ever ate…

Posted: April 18, 2010 | Author: Alyssa | Filed under: Alyssa | 1 Comment »

I’m guessing most of you foodies out there have seen, at least in passing, the show on Food Network entitled “The best thing I ever ate”.  If not, you should definitely check it out because its freaking sweet.  One of the craziest parts about looking for a job recently has been travelling to all these crazy places in order to interview at different schools.  I have been travelling almost every weekend for the past few weeks with a couple of week days in between, so I’ve been eating a lot on the road.  Unfortunately this has mainly consisted of airport food (I have a sick and twisted love for airport chinese food…sadly it will most likely lead to my ultimate demise), but when I’m really lucky I get the opportunity to hang out in whatever city/town I’m in and test out some of the local food.  Two of these recent trips have led to me to two of the best dishes I’ve eaten.  I would call it a tale of two cities, but its really more like a tale of a city and a small town, so bear with me.

1. Boston, Ma-  After I was finished with my meat market-esq job conference (think speed dating for jobs)  I had a few hours to kill until my shuttle came to pick me up for the airport.  After walking around the city for a while, which is a favorite pass time of fine, I decided to find a place to eat and hang out for a while.  I had been to dinner the night before with a friend and we had checked out a little pub on Boyleston St.  The Solas Pub is a true Irish pub with low ceilings, close tables, and dark wood.  I ordered my beer and started to peruse the menu.  They had a cool mix traditional Irish items and some different things that sounded interesting.  I decided on the Roasted Portabella Melt, which turned out to be one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

The description of the sandwich:

“Open faced, braised red onions, oven roasted tomato, buffalo mozzarella and Basil pesto”.

It was so huge and delicious that I didn’t even eat many of my fries (which were also delicious).  It came with two and a half portabella caps, which gives you some idea as to the size of this beast.  All of the components complimented each other, but what really amazed me was the ability of the creator to avoid the epic portabella problem.  Those of you who have worked with them before know that they are like sponges when they cook, which is why we love them.  They absorb all the flavors around them and fit nicely into most dishes.  Unfortunately, once they are cooked, they tend to release a lot of the liquid they have absorbed and when bread is involved, sogginess ensues…sad.

Somehow, the creator of this dish managed to get all the flavor into the mushroom, but avoid the soggy bread issue that I always dread when I order something like this.  Kudos to that chef, and if anyone reading this knows the secret, PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE tell it to me!

Now, forging onward…and slightly to the left

2. Westford, Ma-  I know, its hard to believe both ended up being in Ma and on completely separate trips, but hey, thats how it goes.  The night before I had an all day interview, all I wanted was to just relax and go to bed early.  Luckily in the hotel was Clark’s Pub.  Never one to turn down a pub, particularly one I don’t have to travel for, I thought I would check it out.  After perusing the menu with my friend Sam Adams, I decided on the chicken panini.  Sounds exotic and intriguing, right?  Turns out, while not exotic, it was freaking delicious.  It was simply grilled chicken, basil, onions and kalamata olives in a basic red sauce with tons of mozzarella cheese on buttered bread and grilled panini style.  Pretty basic, although I have to admit I would have never thought to add the olives to this.  They added a whole different texture and flavor that really brought the whole thing from ‘what a delightful sandwich’ to ‘holy crap, I should write a blog post about this’.

Now, I know some people reading this are probably waiting for me to talk about how I turned these things into a recipe, or how I thought (arrogantly) that I could make them better, but this post is not about my cooking.  When you are as much a foodie as I am, everything you and see other people eating is interesting.  I am sure these two dishes will eventually turn into something interesting in my head and potentially on my plate, but for now I think they will just remain safely in the category of the best things I’ve ever eaten…

Happy Fooding!


The best of both worlds

Posted: April 14, 2010 | Author: Alyssa | Filed under: Alyssa, Uncategorized | Tags: , , | 3 Comments »

During a recent conversation with my oldest sister, she presented me with a challenge.  We have all had chocolate chip pancakes, or blueberry pancakes, but how many of you have had BACON PANCAKES?  This was the challenge my sister set out for me, and I must say I rose to the occasion nicely (because its just as easy as any other kind of pancake :) ).

My parents didn’t have the full set of ingredients for making pancakes, so I had to use a mix for my test run, which was kind of frustrating but worked out fine.  Normally I use this pancake recipe though, which is super easy and delicious.

All you have to do is make the pancake batter, and cook the bacon to your desired crispiness.  I like mine really crispy, so I tend to cook it longer.  Once the bacon is cooked, cut it into roughly bite sized pieces, saving all the little crumbly bits that break off.  Pour the batter onto the griddle, and once the pancake sets enough to slide a spatula under, but not quite at the point where you are ready to flip it, add the bacon pieces.  Just sprinkle them on the top and poke them down a little so they settle into the batter.  Flip the pancakes and viola! you have bacon pancakes.  I recommend butter and maple syrup to finish them off because what could be more delicious than pancake, bacon, and syrup all in one bite?  These were super delicious and really easy to make!

I have promised that the next time I’m visiting I will make this for the family, so I think I will have to keep practicing in the meantime…somehow I don’t think I’ll have trouble finding some people to help me eat them :)


Wow am I behind…

Posted: March 19, 2010 | Author: Alyssa | Filed under: Alyssa | Tags: | 3 Comments »

I have to apologize for my being a crappy blogger recently.  Normally I do my writing on the weekend, but I literally haven’t been in town for the past 3 weekends for various reasons.  I promise to be better.

One of my weekend adventures recently was a trip to NYC to see the other Pretty Girls.  I was also in town for a job conference, but that was just a flaming disaster of doom, luckily that night, I had our Pretty Girls party to look forward to.  Each of the other girls had figured out what they were going to make (all of which was amazing)  so I decided to throw down some dessert since we didn’t have anything sweet yet.  I had looked up some recipes and came across a Giada recipe for chocolate hazelnut ‘ravioli’.  As we Pretty Girls do, I tweaked it a little bit and ended up with something really delicious if not absurdly decadent.

You will need:

1 pkg egg roll wrappers

1 jar Nutella (I used the fair trade version because it is just as good, more ethical, and it was the only kind that WholeFoods carried)

1 container of marscapone

Vegetable oil for frying

cinnamon sugar

1 egg- beaten

This is ridiculously easy:

Heat the oil in a pan to 350 degrees.  The oil should be about 2″ deep. In a medium bowl, mix together the Nutella and marscapone.  Once that is mixed, take the egg roll wrappers and cut them into quarters so you have four smaller squares.  Brush the edges of the square with the egg and put a small dollop (I hate that word) of the filling in the center.  Fold the wrapper corner to corner to form a triangle.  Press the edges to seal them.  Make sure you really seal them, because I didn’t press hard enough on some of them and some of the filling oozed out into the oil.  Fry each piece for about 30 seconds on each side until they puff up and turn golden brown.  Pull them out and cool them on a paper towel.  Once they have cooled a little sprinkle them with cinnamon sugar.  Then eat the crap out of them until they are gone :) .

These were a great addition to a great night.  Now if only I didn’t live to far away from the rest of the girls, we could do it more often…


The beef of a small Asian nation

Posted: February 27, 2010 | Author: Alyssa | Filed under: Alyssa | 2 Comments »

Last week I was in Boston at a job conference looking for a new job.  After ten interviews between the hours of 9 and 4:30, I was EXHAUSTED.  I don’t know if you have ever spent 9 hours in heels trying to look professional while running from table to table (think speed dating for jobs)  interviewing for various positions that you may or may not want (including an interview with a school in Bulgaria which was just ridiculous), but I don’t recommend it…at all.  I actually get to do it again this Friday in New York, but the stress of the event will be completely over shadowed by 3 things: 1) I get to see my 5month old nephew who is adorable and squishy and whom I haven’t seen since Christmas.  2) The PrettyGirls get together and all the antics that will ensue.  3) I get to see my best friend of 22 years whom I haven’t seen in way too freaking long and whom I miss terribly.

Anyway…after my crazy day in Boston, all I wanted to do was grab dinner, go back to the hotel room, and pass out face down on the bed for 12 hours.  Luckily, being in downtown Boston, there were tons of restaurants along the way back to the hotel so I stopped in at P.F. Changs and grabbed one of my favorite foods of all time: Mongolian Beef.  Between the crispy beef, the sauce and the ridiculous amount of green onion they put in, I could literally eat this every day.  However, distance and finances prevent this from happening.  Now, I don’t know if everyone knows this, but I enjoy my time in the kitchen, so I thought I would try to recreate my beloved dish and see how I fared.   I did some research to find a starting point, and actually found a pretty good recipe at recipezaar.  Its actually really easy to make and tasted close enough to the real thing to satisfy my craving.

While making this recipe I learned some things that you might want to keep in mind if you try this:

1. I sliced the beef ahead of time and marinated it for about an hour in a combination of soy sauce, ginger, garlic, sesame oil and brown sugar (basically just the sauce deconstructed).

2. You don’t need a lot of corn starch for the beef, just sprinkle each side very lightly.

3. Don’t let the sauce thicken too much because the thicker you let the sauce get, the more concentrated the flavor gets and there is such a thing as flavor that will kick your ass.

4.  Toss the beef in the sauce then pull it out with tongs, because this is not a dish where you want the extra sauce making the crispy beef soggy.

Overall an excellent project and I think I’m going to start trying to recreate more of my favorites from various restaurants.  Next up, the nacho cheese chicken chalupa from Taco Bell…I didn’t say it was going to be from class restaurants ;)



Johanna: The Improviser

Never quite follows the recipe. Doesn't really measure. Tastes with her fingers. Somehow, it always works.

Alyssa: The Triple Threat

Can do it all. And modest to boot.

Bakezilla: We Use Mixers Too

She likes to bake. Actually, baking is the only thing she does. It's a passion.

Rita: The Kosher Chick

Restrictions have nothing on her.