You Gonna Eat All That?

A fork in one hand, a pen in the other.

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Location: Virginia, United States

(Biscuit Girl)

Friday, February 29, 2008

The Daring Bakers February Challenge

This month's challenge is hosted by Breadchick Mary (The Sour Dough) & Sara (I Like to Cook). Our recipe: Julia Child's French bread.

This is what French bread is supposed to look like:
And this is what mine looks like:

So what would this French bread say if it could talk? My guess is it would say something like, "Don’t' look at me, I'm hideous!" No wait, this is French bread. That means it would say, "Ne me regardez pas, je suis affreux."

When I first saw this month's challenge I thought great, another chance to work on my French bread skills. The recipe looked daunting. Twelve pages in length and a total time of close to 11 hours from start to finish. But this supposed to be a challenge, right? So I carefully studied the recipe before the first scoop of flour was measured.

All seemed to go well….until it came time to move the bread from the floured towels to the cooking sheets. Even with the heavy dose of flour covering the towel, the bread stuck to it and quickly deflated. Phooey! (I actually said something a bit more colorful) One loaf still retained it's loaf shape while the second one simply collapsed upon itself and folded over into a grotesque mass of wrinkly dough. Not a pretty site. In my frustration, I grabbed it up and rolled it into a boule hoping it could be salvaged. The result was mixed. It rose just like it was supposed to.
Taste-wise it was good if not a touch salty. Texture-wise, a nice fine crumb. Looks-wise, hideous. My first (non-obscene) thought was the loaf looked like a Geoduck . See the resemblance?

While my attempt at Julia Child's French bread was not great, it was a learning experience. However, I have other recipes for French bread that are less complicated and take about half the time to make (not including the starter). I think I'll stick to them.

And many thanks to my brother for posting this for me since I will be somewhere in the air on my way to Malaysia on posting day.

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Saturday, February 23, 2008

French Fry Hash Browns

So what could be any unhealthier than hash browns made with leftover French fries? The ones I ate the night before with a cheeseburger from Five Guys. Yes, I was bad last night. On my way home from work, I realized that I hadn't taken anything out for dinner. Plus it's only me at home this week since Jim is already in Malaysia and I hate cooking for just myself. And there just so happens to be a Five Guys on my way home from work. Seemed like it was meant to be.

Sophie and I decadently dined on a small cheeseburger and fries and as anyone who's been to Five Guys knows, you always get a ton of fries, even with a small order. There was no way I could eat all of them, even with Sophie's help.

I was about to throw the leftover fries in the garbage last night when I had an idea to make hash browns with them for breakfast this morning. So I bagged them up and tossed them in the fridge.

This morning I put them on a cutting board and diced them up and added some salt and dried onion flakes. Once the skillet was hot I added the mix and let it brown up a little then stirred them around and in about 10 minutes I had hot French fry hash browns. They were delicious! And the best part is that I only used half of what was left over so I get to have them again tomorrow. Yum!

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Giving my tastebuds a test run

With just over a week to go before I fly to Malaysia, Jim and I gave our taste buds a test run and went to Malaysia Kopitam on M St NW in Washington for dinner last night. In addition to the regular menu with just text, they have a three-ring binder version that included pictures of the dishes. This was very handy and I'd recommend it anyone who isn't familiar with Malay food.

Jim posted this his thoughts about dinner on Don Rockwell and since he did such a nice job on his review, here it is in it's entirety. I added pictures from their online menu because we forgot our camera.

Malaysia Kopitam
by Jim
So I've been to Malaysia Kopitiam twice recently, and I've done a better job of ordering. The first time with friends, we didn't tell them that we were going to Malaysia and ask for help ordering, and came out winners. We got the sampler appetizer which was an interesting mix of curry puffs, satay, a fresh roll, something steamed in banana leaf. Then I got the assam sambal shrimp, which was tasty but not that spicy, while my friends got nyonya chicken, a tasty bowl of deep fried small pieces of boneless chicken in a sweet sauce; tamarind beef, which reminded me of potroast and some dishes I've had at Burma in the past, and Malaysian Curry Shrimp, which I don't think I tried. There was beer involved, many bottles of Tiger, a polite and tasty beer that didn't have many distinguising qualities.

Last night I was there with Barbara, and we told the server that I'll be in Melaka next week. She gave us some pointers, and asked about spicyness. I said we liked spicy food, and they cranked it up.
First we had the Rembah Udang, sticky rice with curry chicken and shrimp inside, steamed in banana leaf, and Baby Oyster Omlette which is mentioned on several food blogs in Melaka. If you like oysters, it's good stuff. It's like a cross between a pancake (think Korean seafood pancake) and an actual omlette, served with a small dish of sauce with red onions in it.

Our entrees were the Mamak Mee Goreng
and the Nasi Lemak. I had the Nasi Lemak, and it was good, with the coconut rice and the chicken and little fish curry, and the pickled pineapple and vegetables. If you're sqeamish about baby fish, bones and all, in curry sauce, you might skip this dish. If you're game, just try to keep the little bones from poking your gums. The curries were moderately spicy. I liked it, because of the mix of flavors and textures in the dish, and would recommend it.

Barbara had the Mee Goreng, and it was the spiciest thing we've ever had there. It was an intermittant thing, she'd be happily eating her noodles with shrimp, tofu, etc, and then all of a sudden she'd take a sharp breath of air and grab some of my rice. She kept trying to figure out what it was, and gave me bits of stuff, but we couldn't pinpoint the incindearies in the dish.
Even with her discomfort, it was good, real good. As were all the dishes. I'll let you know how it stands up to street food in Melaka and other places in a month or so.

Malaysia Kopitiam
1827 M St NW
20036 Washington DC
Phone: 202-833-6232

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Thursday, February 14, 2008

Happy Valentine's Day

I so cheated on making Valentine's Day dinner tonight. The only homemade part of the meal was my pasta sauce, the rest was all store bought. But you know what, it doesn't matter, Jim liked it and that's all I needed to know.

I stopped by a place called The Italian Deli after work. In addition to making great sandwiches, they carry all kinds of Italian products from jars of sauce to cookies to frozen pasta. I picked up a package of cheese manicotti and the last loaf of fresh Italian bread they had.

After taking Sophie out when I got home, I got the manicotti put together and popped it into the oven along with a head of garlic (for some roasted garlic bread) and waited for Jim to come home.
Dinner was very nice. We all enjoyed it, even Miss Sophie got a few nibbles. And to go with it, we opened a bottle of Nipozzano Chianti Reserva that was given to us by a friend at Christmas.And for dessert....yup, more cheating. On my way to work this morning I stopped by Krispy Kreme and got a couple dozen doughnuts for my staff. They were making heart shaped doughnuts topped with sprinkles and I got two extra to take home. And what says love better than a fresh, heart-shaped Krispy Kreme doughnut?


Sunday, February 10, 2008

Mushroom Turnovers

One of the great things about my job is all the fun people I work with. For example, we have a group of us who participate in Murder Mystery programs written by a dear friend and fellow librarian, Ted. I had my first taste of acting in one of these programs three years ago when I played the part of a self absorbed jazz singer named Toni Deff. (get it, tone deaf, hahaha). I never thought I could pull it off but once the program started, I was hooked. I've since played another roll as a gardener called Petunia Budd and I filled on once as a wealthy yacht owner named Marina Swagg. And in May I will be in Ted's newest program as a widowed ranch owner. I can't say much as we haven't even practiced for this one yet alone performed it.

Collectively, Ted refers to the lot of us as the Murder Overdue crew. And last night about 15 of us got together and had a great time. And to help out, I made mushroom turnovers. I found the recipe in Southern Living and changed it a little to make it slightly healthier. I don't think it affected the flavor at all as I got many compliments on them. A bit time consuming to put together but the end result was worth it. The only thing I would do differently next time is to better seal them. Seems most of them opened up at the seams so I referred to them as the exploding mushroom turnovers.

Mushroom Turnovers

1 (8 oz) package cream cheese, softened
2¼ cups all-purpose flour
½ cup butter, softened
2 tbsp butter
1 cup chopped onion
1 lb mushrooms, chopped
¼ tsp thyme
¼ tsp salt
½ tsp pepper
2 tbsp all-purpose flour
¼ cup low fat sour cream
3 tbsp sherry

Combine first 3 ingredients. Shape dough into a ball; cover and chill 1 hour.

Melt 2 tbsp butter in a large skillet over medium heat; add onion, and sauté 12 minutes or until onion is golden. Stir in chopped mushrooms and sauté 3-6 minutes or until liquid begins to decrease. Stir in thyme, salt, and pepper. Sprinkle 2 tbsp flour evenly over mushroom mixture. Stir in sour cream and sherry. Remove from heat, and set aside.

Pat or roll chilled dough to 1/8” thickness on a lightly floured surface; cut with a 3” round cutter.

Spoon 1 tsp mushroom mixture on half of each dough circle, fold dough over filling. Press edges together with a fork to seal. Place turnovers on an ungreased baking sheet.

Bake at 400° for 15 to 20 minutes or until edges are lightly browned.

Note: To make ahead, place uncooked turnovers in a single layer on baking sheets, and freeze. Transfer frozen turnovers to large zip-top plastic freezer bags, seal and freeze up to 1 month. Place frozen turnovers on ungreased baking sheets. Bake as directed.

Yield: Makes 3 dozen appetizer servings


Sunday, February 03, 2008

Planning ahead and Malaysia

With a busy week for Jim coming up, I decided to plan our dinners for the week. Why is Jim going to be busy, you ask? He and a co-worker are in the final stages of planning a training seminar that they will be teaching in Malaysia. Yes, Malaysia! And guess who's flying over with him? Go ahead, take a wild guess. If said me, you're correct. I'm going to fly halfway around the freakin' world to see Malaysia! Woot! I'm just a little excited, ha!

So back to the weekly dinner planning. The lineup looks like this:
Sunday (tonight): Mexican Braised Pork
Monday: Pizza (home made, Jim's specialty, plus I work late that night and it's something Jim can make in his sleep)
Tuesday: leftover Mexican Braised Pork
Wednesday: Lasagna (mom and I made little two serving lasagnas when she was here and we popped them in the freezer for quick meals)
Thursday: Salad and leftover pizza
Friday: a stir-fry with chicken and veggies
Saturday: A light snack before we head to a friend's place for a party. (which I will be making some goodies for)

Now back to Malaysia! Yes, almost a year ago Jim and a coworker (who Jim has worked with for most of the 9 1/2 years we've lived in DC) found out that two people from their office would be going to Malaysia. The lucky two would teach their counterparts in the Malaysian government to collect and use the same type of data Jim's office does. When Jim and his co-worker were selected, he was thrilled. Not only will be an honor to do this training but the opportunity to see the country was a once in a lifetime opportunity. I plan to fly over two days before his class ends but actually land the day after the class - it's a long ass flight. We went back and forth about where in this beautiful country to see and as of now, I believe we've narrowed it down to these places: Melaka (or Malacca) where the training will take place, Singapore, Borneo (Sarawak region) and Kuala Lumpur. Other places we toyed with were Tioman Island (where the movie South Pacific was filmed), the other side of Borneo - Sabah, and Penang. If we had a month, we'd be able to do it all but as it is, cramming this into two weeks will be plenty.

There will be tons to write about when we get back, especially the night markets where food stalls galore sell some of the country's best food. It will be an amazing trip and if anyone of my readers have ever been to or actually live there, any advice you can lend would be greatly appreciated.

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