Restrictions have nothing on her.

A Bar is a Bar is a Bar?

Posted: August 5th, 2009 | Author: rita | Filed under: Rita | Tags: , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

What makes a cookie bar a cookie bar?

Last night I attempted to bake banana-oatmeal bars with chocolate chips; a perk of not timely eating all the bananas means that they will be featured in a new, desserty incarnation. After much soul searching, I determined to make bars because the week before was banana bread muffins and I like creating new things. The bars were decided upon because Epicurious’s other ideas were banana pudding bananas foster or other unportables I can’t give out at work easily, and the dessert cookbook I own didn’t list much with banana!

I used this recipe, but substantially adjusted it based on reviewers’ suggestions and to taste. Basically, I halved the sugar, added a cup of oats, upped the ripe banana quotient to three instead of two and nixed the nuts. I figured it would be bar-like, since, well, it’s a bar recipe. Didn’t happen.

I’ll be honest, I like baking and I like that it’s generally simple and has consistent rules and formulaic outcomes, (whipping room temperature butter + eggs cracked one at a time equals…) but I’m pretty ignorant about what leads to what! (…equals fluffier cakes? Uh…?) So in adjusting this and other baked goods recipes I do not know, essentially, what exactly I’m doing. Which is fine by me since everything usually comes out ok anyway, but not what I was expecting; it would be nice to know how to actually achieve what I thought I was making!

My roommate, not at all a cook, whipped out her Betty Crocker Cookbook guide which she got as a ‘new college student’ gift from relatives. And there was the light! It gives overviews on these basic rules I was not tutored in. I’m more at ease with mains, salads, the savory stuff. But this basic intro to baking is exactly what i need. It might be helpful to review the whole thing, to be honest.

She told me that it’s one thing to play with an established, “sure thing” recipe but to adjust an unknown, well, who knows what will happen?

That being said, my “cake” got rave reviews! But does anyone know what makes a bar a bar?


Fish With a Kick

Posted: August 2nd, 2009 | Author: rita | Filed under: Rita | Tags: , , , , | 4 Comments »

Normally I’m not one to prepare spicy foods. Flavorful foods, yes, but hot sauces and jalapenos are ingredients not in my repertoire. So when Johanna posted the other day about sriracha it inspired me to venture outside my comfort zone and thus a giant bottle of the red stuff is now sitting in my pantry. Now what the hell do I do with it?

Part of my weekend was spent staring bug-eyed at all the piles of produce at the farmer’s market, so later this week I’ll figure out what to do with the Black Tuscan kale, rainbow chard and white beets (and their leaves). When I got home though, I forgot I had a bunch of organic spinach sitting in my fridge. It was still fresh but I figured it’s best to use that first. The chard, etc can wait a day or two. Luckily, when I purchased the sriracha I impulsively bought some tilapia too — Johanna is very inspiring — and an idea for dinner was born.

I like balance in my meals. Well, who doesn’t? Too much of one flavor doesn’t satisfy anyone’s palate. Here’s what I came up with. Spinach, check. Fish, check. Got some spicy stuff I want to use, but I want to balance it out. Aha, let’s make a yogurt dill sauce for the tilapia and flavor the spinach with the sriracha; refreshing and eye-opening all on the same plate. Yogurt sauce pairs better with salmon but tilapia works just as well. For breakfast nearly every morning I eat Fage greek yogurt with fruit and cinnamon and there was enough left over to make a sauce out of that. I mixed it with chopped dill from the farmer’s market; add the juice of a whole lemon and it’s complete.

The tilapia I didn’t do much to. Its lack of flavor is seen as a plus by some who don’t like “fishy” fish but my response to that is: IT’S FISH. But anyway. This time I just sauteed it with a little onion and garlic and spiced it slightly with ground ginger and black pepper. The spinach I sauteed with crimini mushrooms and garlic, then when cooked I squirted in a little sriracha,, just enough to give it a kick. Plated, I topped off the fish with the yogurt dill sauce and voila, my dinner.

Dessert was a peach, fresh from the farm.