S’more s’mores

We have been working hard to eat well recently. And it’s been paying off. We eat a lot less. Mostly, we’ve been having vegetables and lots of soups. Often we don’t eat meat for days in a row. We eat our small portions slowly, putting our forks down and chewing each bite. It’s not a diet. It’s a new approach to eating. And we love it.

That said, since we were treated to NYE’s s’mores by those-who-shall-remain-nameless, we have treated ourselves to the occasional marshmallow roasted over the flame of our blessed gas stove, smooshed between two graham crackers and a square of chocolate. Of course this began the old fashioned way: Honey Maids, Jet Puffed, and Hershey’s. But not anymore!

I skipped the coconut part of this recipe, which you can see if you follow the link. You’re a grown-up so it’s your call. But I am watching you.

Homemade Marshmallows (Barefoot Contessa)

  • 3 packages unflavored gelatin
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting

Combine the gelatin and 1/2 cup of cold water in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and allow to sit while you make the syrup.

Meanwhile, combine the sugar, corn syrup, salt, and 1/2 cup water in a small saucepan and cook over medium heat until the sugar dissolves. Raise the heat to high and cook until the syrup reaches 240 degrees F on a candy thermometer. Remove from the heat.

With the mixer on low speed, slowly pour the sugar syrup into the dissolved gelatin. Put the mixer on high speed and whip until the mixture is very thick, about 15 minutes. Add the vanilla and mix thoroughly.

Graham Crackers (Smitten Kitchen)

Graham Crackers
Adapted from Nancy Silverton’s Pastries from the La Brea Bakery, and 101 Cookbooks

Makes 10 4 x 4.5-inch graham crackers or 48 2-inch squares

  • 2 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons (375 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour (a swap of 1/2 cup with whole wheat flour or 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour works well here, too)
  • 1 cup (176 grams) dark brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 1 teaspoon (6 grams) baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher or coarse sea salt (4 grams)
  • 7 tablespoons (3 1/2 ounces or 100 grams) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch cubes and frozen
  • 1/3 cup (114 grams) mild-flavored honey, such as clover
  • 5 tablespoons (77 grams) milk, full-fat is best
  • 2 tablespoons (27 grams) pure vanilla extract

Topping (optional)

  • 3 tablespoons (43 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon (5 grams) ground cinnamon

Make the dough: Combine the flour, brown sugar, baking soda, and salt in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade or in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Pulse or mix on low to incorporate. Add the butter and pulse on and off on and off, or mix on low, until the mixture is the consistency of a coarse meal.

[Alternately, if you don’t have a food processor or electric mixer, you can cut the ingredients together with a pastry blender. Just make sure they’re very well incorporated.]

In a small bowl, whisk together the honey, milk, and vanilla extract. Add to the flour mixture and pulse on and off a few times or mix on low until the dough barely comes together. It will be very soft and sticky. Lay out a large piece of plastic wrap and dust it lightly with flour, then turn the dough out onto it and pat it into a rectangle about 1-inch thick. Wrap it, then chill it until firm, about 2 hours or overnight. Meanwhile, prepare the topping, if using, by combining the sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl and setting aside.

Roll out the crackers: Divide the dough in half and return one half to the refrigerator. Sift an even layer of flour onto the work surface and roll the dough into a long rectangle about 1/8 inch thick. The dough will be sticky, so flour as necessary. Trim the edges of the rectangle to 4 inches wide. Working with the shorter side of the rectangle parallel to the work surface, cut the strip every 4 1/2 inches to make 4 crackers. [This makes a traditional graham cracker shape. I rebelled and made mine into 2-inch fluted squares with one of these.]

Place the crackers on one or two parchment-lined baking sheets and sprinkle with the topping. Chill until firm, about 30 to 45 minutes in the fridge or 15 to 20 minutes in the freezer. Repeat with the second batch of dough. Finally, gather any scraps together into a ball, chill until firm, and re-roll.

Adjust the oven rack to the upper and lower positions and preheat the oven to 350°F.

Decorate the crackers: Mark a vertical line down the middle of each cracker, being careful not to cut through the dough (again, this is for the traditional cracker shape). Using a toothpick or skewer (I like to use the blunt end of a wooden skewer for more dramatic dots), prick the dough to form two dotted rows about 1/2 inch for each side of the dividing line.

Bake for 15 to 25 minutes, until browned and slightly firm to the touch, rotating the sheets halfway through to ensure even baking. [The baking time range is long because the original recipe calls for 25 minutes but my new oven — which I suspect runs crazy hot but have yet to confirm with the actual purchase of an oven thermometer — had them done in way less. Be safe, check them sooner. Nobody likes a burnt cracker!]

By the way, homemade marshmallows don’t catch on fire and burn like the store-bought ones. They do get very melty and messy though, so be prepared!

And don’t worry, I haven’t started making my own chocolate… yet…

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Save the rice

If you ever order Chinese (I’m not saying we do… this is about you), don’t chuck all those containers of rice. Freeze them and then defrost it and make this.

Bittman! Vongerichten!

Ginger Fried Rice (Mark Bittman, adapted from Jean-Georges Vongerichten)

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup peanut oil
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 2 tablespoons minced ginger
  • Salt
  • 2 cups thinly sliced leeks, white and light green parts only, rinsed and dried
  • 4 cups day-old cooked rice, preferably jasmine, at room temperature
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil
  • 4 teaspoons soy sauce

Preparation

In a large skillet, heat 1/4 cup oil over medium heat. Add garlic and ginger and cook, stirring occasionally, until crisp and brown. With a slotted spoon, transfer to paper towels and salt lightly.

Reduce heat under skillet to medium-low and add 2 tablespoons oil and leeks. Cook about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until very tender but not browned. Season lightly with salt.

Raise heat to medium and add rice. Cook, stirring well, until heated through. Season to taste with salt.

In a nonstick skillet, fry eggs in remaining oil, sunny-side-up, until edges are set but yolk is still runny.

Divide rice among four dishes. Top each with an egg and drizzle with 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil and 1 teaspoon soy sauce. Sprinkle crisped garlic and ginger over everything and serve.

Chopped!

Salad night!

Chopped Vegetable Salad with Creamy Oregano Dressing from the Bistro Laurent Tourondel cookbook. BLT Steak is one of our favorite restaurants. So is BLT Burger. We were psyched to spot LT himself on our last trip to Vegas. The man can cook meat, but it turns out, he’s quite the salad champ as well!

We went a little crazy with this. Mainly followed the recipe, which doesn’t seem to be available online.

Chopped Vegetable Salad with Creamy Oregano Dressing (Laurent Tourondel)

  • 3 tbs red wine vinegar
  • 2 tbs mayonnaise
  • 1 1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 3 tbs extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 tbs grapeseed oil
  • 1 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

In a medium bowl, whisk together the vinegar, mayonnaise, and mustard. Whisking constantly, slowly drizzle in the olive and grapeseed oils until smooth and well blended. Stir in the oregano and salt and pepper.

And see… we went bonkers!

  • Romaine lettuce (chopped)
  • Radicchio (chopped)
  • Cucumber (diced)
  • Grape tomatoes (halved)
  • Radishes (thinly sliced)
  • Sweet mini bell peppers (chopped)
  • Sugar snap peas (chopped)
  • Scallions (thinly sliced)
  • Kalamata olives (chopped)
  • Hearts of palm (chopped)
  • Pepperoncini (sliced)
  • Chickpeas
  • Corn (I used frozen corn and sauteed it briefly in a little olive oil, salt, and pepper)
  • Fresh mozzarella (BLT calls for feta cubes)
  • (BLT also calls for frisee, which I don’t believe in, and red onion, which we skipped.)
  • Toss with snipped chives, more dried oregano, salt, and pepper.

Good call: the recipe says to toss the lettuces in 2/3 of the dressing, add the rest of the stuff, then finish off the dressing.

Very nice!!!

Hail Caesar

Raw eggs! Anchovies! Bittman!

Caesar Salad (from How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman)

  • 1 clove garlic, halved
  • 2 eggs or 1/2 cup pasteurized egg product
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons minced anchovies, or to taste
  • Dash Worcestershire sauce
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 large head romaine lettuce, torn into pieces
  • Croutons
  • 1/2 to 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1. Rub the inside of your salad bowl with the garlic clove; discard it.

2. Bring a small pot of water to a boil. Pierce a tiny hole in the broad end of each of the eggs with a pin or a needle and boil them for 60 to 90 seconds; they will just begin to firm up. Crack them into the salad bowl, being sure to scoop out the white that clings to the shell.

3. Beat the eggs with a fork, gradually adding the lemon juice and then the olive oil, beating all the while.

4. Stir in the anchovies and the Worcestershire. Taste and add salt if needed and plenty of pepper. Toss well with the lettuce; top with the croutons and Parmesan, then toss again at the table. Serve immediately.

Arigato!

I made sushi! And it looked like sushi. And tasted like sushi. Holy $#^%!

Salmon and tuna from Mitsuwa Marketplace. Also included cucumber, avocado, and scallions.

For the sushi rice:

  • 5 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1 tbsp mirin
  • 3 tbsp sugar
  • 2 tbsp salt

Heat in a saucepan until sugar dissolves, stirring constantly. Remove the mixture from the heat and cool. Slowly mix in with rice using a spatula. The rice shouldn’t be too moist.

This video was very helpful when assembling the rolls.

Take that, Whole Foods!

Instead of continuing to buy the Greek Orzo Salad at Whole Foods, I decided to try my hand at making it.

Greek Orzo Salad (adapted from Whole Foods)

  • Cooked orzo
  • Cubes of feta cheese
  • Fresh spinach (and basil)
  • Diced bell pepper
  • Sliced kalamata olives
  • Sliced sun-dried tomatoes
  • Sauteed shallots (instead of red onion)

Toss with olive oil, rice wine vinegar, salt, pepper.

More Momofuku

Felt like giving David Chang’s Ginger Scallion Noodles a whirl tonight. Followed the guidelines (below) and made them with ramen. Tossed together with Quick Pickled Cucumbers, roasted cauliflower, blanched spinach, and nori. Yum!

Also included the mushrooms we grew using BTTR Ventures grow-your-own-shrooms kit. Our gardening skills leave something to be desired, but we can imagine them being very good!

Ginger Scallion Noodles (from the Momofuku cookbook)

Our ginger scallion noodles are an homage to/out-and-out rip-off of one of the greatest dishes in New York City: the $4.95 plate of ginger scallion noodles at Great New York Noodletown down on the Bowery in Chinatown.

Ginger scallion sauce is one of the greatest sauces or condiments ever. Ever. It’s definitely a mother sauce at Momofuku, something that we use over and over and over again. If you have ginger scallion sauce in the fridge, you will never go hungry: stir 6 tablespoons into a bowl of hot noodles—lo mein, rice noodles, Shanghai thick noodles—and you’re in business. Or serve over a bowl of rice topped with a fried egg. Or with grilled meat or any kind of seafood. Or almost anything.

At Noodle Bar, we add a few vegetables to the Noodletown dish to appease the vegetarians, add a little sherry vinegar to the sauce to cut the fat, and leave off the squirt of hoisin sauce that Noodletown finishes the noodles with. (Not because it’s a bad idea or anything, just that we’ve got hoisin in our pork buns, and too much hoisin in a meal can be too much of a good thing. Feel free to add it back.) The dish goes something like this: boil 6 ounces of ramen noodles, drain, toss with 6 tablespoons Ginger Scallion Sauce (below); top the bowl with 1⁄4 cup each of Bamboo Shoots (page 54); Quick-Pickled Cucumbers (page 65); pan-roasted cauliflower (a little oil in a hot wide pan, 8 or so minutes over high heat, stirring occasionally, until the florets are dotted with brown and tender all the way through; season with salt); a pile of sliced scallions; and a sheet of toasted nori. But that’s because we’ve always got all that stuff on hand. Improvise to your needs, but know that you need ginger scallion sauce on your noodles, in your fridge, and in your life. For real.

Ginger Scallion Sauce

MAKES ABOUT 3 CUPS

  • 2 1⁄2 cups thinly sliced scallions (greens and whites; from 1 to 2 large bunches)
  • 1⁄2 cup finely minced peeled fresh ginger
  • 1⁄4 cup grapeseed or other neutral oil
  • 1 1⁄2 teaspoons usukuchi (light soy sauce)
  • 3⁄4 teaspoon sherry vinegar
  • 3⁄4 teaspoon kosher salt, or more to taste

Mix together the scallions, ginger, oil, soy, vinegar, and salt in a bowl. Taste and check for salt, adding more if needed. Though it’s best after 15 or 20 minutes of sitting, ginger scallion sauce is good from the minute it’s stirred together up to a day or two in the fridge. Use as directed, or apply as needed.

 

Quick Salt Pickles, Master Recipe (Momfuku)

A recipe almost seems excessive for these types of quickly made salt-and-sugar pickles, because the technique for making them is so simple: Sprinkle some thinly sliced vegetables with a 3:1 mix of sugar to kosher salt and toss. Ten to 20 minutes later, they’re ready to eat. The resulting pickles have a fresh snap.
Makes About 2 Cups
Halve or double the recipe as needed.

1. Combine the vegetable with the sugar and salt in a small mixing bowl and toss to coat with the sugar and salt. Let sit for 5 to 10 minutes.

2. Taste: if the pickles are too sweet or too salty, put them into a colander, rinse off the seasoning, and dry in a kitchen towel. Taste again and add more sugar or salt as needed. Serve after 5 to 10 minutes, or refrigerate for up to 4 hours.

  • Vegetable, prepared as indicated
  • 1 tablespoon sugar, or more to taste
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, or more to taste

Quick-Pickled Cucumbers: 2 meaty Kirby cucumbers, cut into 1⁄8-inch-thick disks.

Quick-Pickled Radishes: 1 bunch radishes (breakfast radishes, icicle radishes, and the like), well scrubbed and cut into thin wedges through the root end.

Quick-Pickled Daikon: 1 large or 3 small daikon radishes, peeled and cut into very, very thin slices.