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

Maybe I’m the lucky one

Posted: May 3rd, 2009 | Author: johanna | Filed under: Johanna | 20 Comments »

There are some things in this world that I’m just bad at. Origami. Math. Shooting 3-pointers with a defender’s hand in my face. Y’know – things I can accept that I’m bad at by a fluke of genetics or disposition or whatever. So I don’t continue to try them, because I know I’m bad at them.
There are things that I’m just pretty good at. Making bread. Having neat handwriting. Taking naps/falling asleep anywhere. I do them and I enjoy them.
Then, there are things that make me think I’m a glutton for punishment — things that I am not all that great at, but keep trying anyways. Things that make me disappointed because they don’t go as well as they should…. things that ruin my mood because I’m following the directions very carefully (or as carefully as I can) and I’m really encouraged….. and then…. bupkus.
Like making Cinnamon Rolls. I’ve mentioned before that I’m just a little bit mystified by them. They’re kind of like making bread, but they’re also kind of more like making muffins. A little like making brioche, I would guess. Somehow….. it never quite does for me what it does for others.
Today…. I decided to follow Deb’s advice, and make these cinnamon rolls. I had all the ingredients, I had nothing to do today besides wash dishes and clean, so…. I tried it out.
Something went awry.

They are not as airy as I’d like. They are not as light as I’d like. They are kind of heavy. Some of them burned. I’m not in love with them. I think it’s me. I think I need to find out what the difference is between instant yeast, rapid rise yeast, active dry yeast…. etc. I think I need to read and research a bunch of recipes, find out the similarities and the differences, and do some work. Because it’s hard to make delicious Cinnamon Roll French Toast if you can’t make cinnamon rolls all that well.

In a bit of a funk over the failure of my cinnamon rolls to double in volume during the second rising, I was feeling incredibly uninspired for dinner. I went to the grocery store and honestly could not think of a single thing to make. This may be because the stench of the fish counter an hour before closing on a Sunday evening was overpowering. But it was also a funk and a little bit of a cooker’s block. Eventually, after my fifth pass down the protein case, I settled on the beef cut up for stir-fry. I decided to make an asian chili-beef noodle soup. Even though I’ve never actually MADE such before, or even seen a recipe for it. So I wandered the aisles, squinting because my glasses are the wrong prescription, trying to figure out what would go in such a soup.
I eventually settled on the Stir Fry Beef, Angel Hair pasta, Beef Stock, Carrots and Scallions. I was concerned that my typical hot sauces wouldn’t provide enough kick, so I had to do something I wasn’t happy about.
I had to buy…… Sriracha.
I know, I know.
There’s no way to make authentic or even pseudo-Asian Chili dishes without sriracha. But it’s SPICY!!! I order the mild wings whenever we go out for burgers and wings. I reworked my go-to wing sauce so that it included tomato paste and cumin instead of the quarter-cup of hot sauce alone. I don’t like curries unless they’re warm, not spicy.
Plus, I really hate the rooster on the bottle. But the real reason I bought it had nothing to do with authenticity or real Asian flavors. It had to do with the fact that if the soup sucked, I was pretty sure I could just throw in some Sriracha and torch the soup and blame it on the hot sauce.

It was that kind of a day.

In any event, I made the soup, and I knew going in that I would have to marinate the beef somehow. Meet……
The marinade. Or, at least, part of it. Cumin, Chili Flake, Garlic, Tumeric and Chili Powder got rubbed all over the steak pieces, along with some salt. This all got put into a ziploc bag with about a tablespoon of vegetable oil.
Then, came the heavy hitters…
Red Devil, Sriracha (the other red devil) and Soy Sauce. All sprinkled (judiciously) in the Ziploc with the meat. Those sat around while I painstakingly trimmed carrots into julienne (seriously. I am sick) and sizzled up some minced garlic cloves (3), a diced shallot, and a tablespoon of olive oil. I added in the carrots and about a teaspoon of sriracha, followed by about the same of Soy sauce. Then, I added a can of beef stock and a small box (16 ounces) of chicken stock (weird??? yes).
While that came up to a bubble, I heated up a small saute pan for the beef. Get it pretty f’ing hot. You want to sear the outside before the inside is cooked. Add about a tablespoon of vegetable oil (safer for high heat) and half the beef. Stir around, no more than 60 seconds, then remove to a plate and add the other half of the beef. Same drill.
The soup was boiling, so I splashed in some more Red Devil, probably a tablespoon which was too much. Start with a teaspoon, taste, and add more.
Then, I added in an eighth of a package of capellini (angel hair) and set to work turning scallions into matchsticks. When the pasta was cooked (about 3 minutes, maybe 5….) I threw in the beef and the scallions, covered, and turned off the heat.

After 3 more minutes, the beef was warmed through, the flavors were all melded, and we were good to go:
Shockingly, it was delicious. It was VERY hot. But it wasn’t the “set your tongue on fire” kind of hot. Rather, it just heated up the back of my throat in a very pleasing, “I might start to sweat soon” kind of way.
Or, in an “I might make this again soon” way.

Just don’t expect me to give Sriracha a place next to Miss Salsita. I’m not that kind of girl.


20 Comments on “Maybe I’m the lucky one”

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