Sunday, September 14, 2008

I <3 breakfast: Kahlua-Bailey-Oreo pancakes!

also, Strawberry-blueberry-Grand Marnier compote

Breakfast seems to be one of those things that I can cook well on a consistent basis. Eggs, bacon, sausage, breakfast sandwiches... all delicious and easy. But such things get boring over time.

Most food I cook is simple and free of excessive preservatives. I tend to shy away from mixes and pre-packaged goods but they do come in handy from time to time. Today I wanted pancakes (a rare event, really). Unfortunately I was a bit short on milk. The pancake mix package required 3/4 a cup of milk but I was closer to an amount between 1/2 and 2/3 of a cup. Improvisation time. Rather than give up and cook something not requiring milk, I accepted the challenge and consulted my cupboard stock. I happen to have and enjoy many different kinds of liquor. Alcohol is one of those things that you can incorporate into breakfast and it's "classy". Try to mix alcohol into your lunch and you're considered borderline alcoholic. ha! jk

In place of milk and optioning not to water down my pancakes, I went forward with 1/4 cup of Kahlua and a splash of Baileys. If your math is good or you've been paying attention you'll notice that I added more liquid than the mix recipe required. I have a heavy hand... what can I say? I did, however, compensate for the overpour with addition of more pancake mix. Having gotten into the creative spirit, I decided to crush a handful of Oreos (3, reduced fat cookies if it matters) and toss them into the mix. The result was absolutely wonderful! I had a strawberry and blueberry compote hiding in the freezer that was itching for use. A quick defrost, a dollop of whipped cream, and my meal accompanied with a cup of coffee became complete.

All of the alcohol cooked off and the Oreos added a subtle hint of chocolate without going too far over the edge of dessert-like breakfast like chocolate chips could have.

Onto the pancakes...

  • 1 1/4 cup pancake mix
  • 2/3 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup Kahlua
  • splash Baileys
  • 1 egg
  • 1 Tbsp oil
  • 3 crushed Oreo cookies
  • butter for keeping the pan stick free
  • optional: whipped cream

  • Strawberry & Blueberry Grand Marnier Compote
    • handful (about 6) of strawberries (frozen or fresh)
    • 1/3 cup blueberries
    • 1 cup orange juice
    • 3/4 cup sugar
    • 1/2 cup Grand Marnier
    • 2 Tbsp corn starch

In a large bowl, mix the pancake ingredients. Be sure to smooth out any lumps using a large mixing spoon.

Heat a fry pan over medium heat and melt a thin layer of butter in the middle.

Pour a 6 inch (or smaller) circle of pancake batter over the butter in the pan and let sit.

After about a minute, give the pan a good shake to see if the bottom of the pancake is cooked and releases from the pan. If so, slide your spatula under the pancake and flip. Cook until upon poking the pancake, the top springs back without indentation. Remove pancake from pan and set aside.

Repeat step above until all batter is used.

( I bet that if I had a large griddle, or was more efficient on the stovetop, I'd be able to speed the process of cooking pancake breakfasts. )

To make the compote, add the orange juice and sugar to a medium sized pot.

Bring to a boil, then add the fruit and Grand Marnier. Reduce the heat to medium-low and allow the fruit to soften and begin to break down.

Mix the corn starch with a small amount of water and add to the pot. Simmer until the desired consistency is produced.

Remove from heat and allow to cool before use.

The amount of compote made will definitely leave you with a good amount of leftovers. I put my leftovers into a container and stored in the freezer for future uses (such as this one).

Enjoy your breakfast with a dark cup of coffee.

It's dericious!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Guess the failed meal!!!!

Take a guess at what I *tried* (and FAILED!) to make. Hint: There's a thin round steak hidden in that mess.

Go ahead and laugh! I know it looks like poop on a plate.

This post is moreso for amusement and to serve as a reminder that failures are to be expected during my (and your own) cooking experiences. An attempt to save the meal involved Tonkatsu sauce and cutting it into thin "strips".

There was a second piece of meat that was rescued and put to use in a beef and broccoli dish whipped up immediately following the disaster at right.

Failed meals seem to involve a heck of a lot more cleanup than well executed masterpieces of dericiousness.

Laugh with yourself and the pain of failure doesn't sting so badly...

Noodles in a hurry

When tight on time or eager to eat, I quickly review the contents of my fridge, freezer, and cupboards. I'm not always willing to wait half an hour for rice to cook and I always enjoy bringing new life to older leftovers that need eating. I find that my cooking is incredibly dependent on what is #1 on sale and #2 what seems to be left leftover from meals previous. Like most Asians, I find it necessity to be well stocked on rice and noodles of various types. For my quick fix meals, I use "rice stick" noodles. They are similar to (or the same as) what is used for making Vietnamese spring rolls. I've attached pictures from two separate (but very similar) uses of these noodles to produce distinctly different meals. I wish I was a better cook with more consistency. My meals tend to wander in flavor since I don't always measure or record amounts of ingredients used. I'm also not one to run out to the store to get one ingredient that may be lacking. I enjoy my improvise methods and think that they make food life interesting. This dish is certainly one of the more fast-paced cooking adventures I enjoy. I can have this full meal prepared and plated in about 10-15 minutes.

Pictured first is a more successful use of leftover meat from a crockpotting batch of pork roast. The second 2 provide better detail to the ingredients used but proved to be slightly less tasty (still good though!).

The brand of noodles used will vary your cook time but generally speaking, it's very short. I slightly overdid them for the second set of photos and they were only cooked for 3 minutes. 2 minutes on my stovetop seems to work best.

Ingredients are mostly optional.
  • Bundle of rice stick noodles
  • few cups water
  • 2 Tbsp oil
  • 1 small onion, sliced
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 1 tsp ginger, chopped or puree
  • 2 Tbsp Oyster Sauce

  • Noodles pictured at top of post
    • shredded pork (cooked for hours with soy sauce, brown sugar, garlic, onions, and I think some orange juice)
    • broccoli crowns, chopped
  • Noodles in second set of pictures, just above
    • 1 hot pepper, diced
    • 1 red pepper, bite size pieces
    • handful of peeled shrimp
    • fish cake, sliced
    • 2 Tbsp curry powder
    • 1 green onion stalk, chopped

In a medium sized pot, bring water to a boil. Drop the noodles into the boiling water and cook for a very short time (2 minutes for me!).

Drain the noodles over the sink and rinse with cold water. Set noodles aside.

Heat a large wok with oil. Add aromatic ingredients (garlic, ginger, hot pepper, onion) and let cook for a minute.

Add vegetables and meat/shrimp to the hot wok. Stir fry until tender/done.

Add the noodles with a 1/4 cup of water to the wok so that they do not stick to the bottom. Add the oyster sauce to the noodles and mix well. If desired, add additional seasonings (curry powder) and remainder of ingredients to be cooked.

Mix all contents of the wok as best you can. The noodles have a tendency to stick together. I use a metal spatula to aid in the breaking up of noodle chunks. If the noodles begin to stick together too much, add a small amount of water to the wok and continue to mix. After 3 2-3 minutes of mixing, the dish should be done and ready to serve. I like my green onion uncooked so I add it last to each plated serving. Depending on your tastes, you may wish to add some soy sauce to the wok if you like well salted meals.

Things I do with SPINACH

Spinach is one of those things that can either be really good or really bad. So far I've come across two preparations of spinach that are quick and dericious. I've also created my own spinach dip of sorts that may be saved for another post. My simple preparations of spinach are described below. The first is something quick I use to accompany a meal that requires vegetables to "round out the table". The second is a tastier version similar to the spinach that can be found in the Korean market with the serve yourself kimchi and other side dishes.

Easier than easy spinach.
  • 1 bunch of spinach or whatever amount you have on hand
  • 1 Tbsp of butter
Melt the butter in a pot. Add spinach to the pot. Allow the spinach to cook down (about 4 minutes). Serve! Now that's easy!!!

Easy spinach
  • 2 Tbsp Sesame oil
  • 3 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • bunch of spinach
  • 1 tsp Sugar
  • salt to taste
  • sprinkle toasted sesame seeds
Heat sesame oil in a pan. Add garlic for 30 seconds or so to bring out the flavor. Add the spinach, sugar, and salt. Allow the spinach to wilt. Sprinkle sesame seeds on your finished dish. I've used this recipe to emulate the spinach from the Korean market with pretty good success. I've not had the patience to not eat it right away so I cannot comment on how it tastes cold, but I love it hot.

When cooking spinach, I try to be careful not to overdo it. There is a fine line between cooked spinach and overcooked spinach. Overcooked spinach lacks texture and falls apart when poked with a utensil. I like when my spinach retains some texture and bite.

Time to cook doesn't mean time to post

I must give credit to those that are capable of blogging on a regular basis. It certainly takes a long time to prepare images and recollect how a dish was prepared. I've decided to keep the camera in the kitchen and will take photos of food worthy of pictures every now and then. Generating a post to accompany, however, seems to take me forever and a day (about the equivalent of a month). ha