Sunday, January 29, 2012

Pizzanini

College "Cooking"?

 

I took one less class this quarter thinking it would free up infinite amounts of time, and yet I find myself just as busy...  I think it might be some sort of psychological defect of mine to say that I have stuff to do when in reality I spend the day browsing Facebook.  Nevertheless, I'm still finding myself spending hours in the library, even on a Saturday.  Am I cool yet?

americanized "pizza" not recommended

Throw this into the experiments pile.

No, I'm not talking about a panini made up of two slices of bread with tomato sauce and pizza toppings in the middle, but instead it's two slices of pizza, sandwiched together with even more meat and cheese in the middle.

2 pizzas 1... filling?

a pizzadilla?

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

You Might Have Noticed

You may have noticed I've been a little lacking when it comes to posting these past two weeks...  But there are things called midterms I have to deal with.

All in good time, my cherished reader(s), all in good time.

TFC

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Cinnamon-Cherry Granola

Keeping the Light On


Part 5 of the holiday brunch (See 4, 3, 2, and 1)

A couple days ago I did a photo shoot with my friend, who along with myself is a die hard Harry Potter fanatic.  I don't remember the last time I shot something that wasn't food, and this portrait was immensely fun to do.  (Credit to Joel Robison for the fantastic idea and tutorial by the way!)


living the fantasy (that's a giraffe by the way)

I'm incredibly glad I cut back on the amount of classes I took this quarter: it has definitely given me a lot more time for hobbies and extracirrculars like this, and it has definitely re-lit the spark I originally had for photography before I became consumed by food photos.  San Luis Obispo is such a beautiful place to study, and it would be idiotic to not take advantage of it.  Don't get me wrong I still love styling and taking pictures of food, but it can get repetitive at times and in all honestly can sometimes require more work.

nearby barn

I think granola falls under two distinct categories: really forgettable or really good.  Really forgettable granola leaves me disappointed and thirsty, but give me some really good granola and I'll go through multiple bowls.  This time I trusted my gut and went with a recipe from my girl Ina.
 definitely a hands job

I followed the suggestions from the reviews of the recipe and increased the amount of honey and oil along with adding the cherries last minute so they don't dry out and burn.  I threw in a healthy dose of salt because I feel like most cereals/granolas taste a lot better with it.  Pretty simple as most recipes go, although I will say just ditch the spoon from the get-go and mix the granola with your hands as it's ten times more efficient.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Winter Ice Cream Sundae

Christmas Everyday 


 

Taking a break from the brunch series as I am completely sick of blogging about breakfast-y items... so I bring you the opposite end of the spectrum with a simple dessert!

For Christmas dinner this year my cousin brought over one of my favorite things in the whole world: pavlova.  This one was topped with a vanilla bean cranberry sauce and orange segments.  With plenty of toppings leftover and no meringue the next day, I was lost on what to do and resorted to the only thing I knew best and was to put them on a couple scoops of ice cream.

 
wintery colors

Normally I try not to exaggerate, but my god was it delicious.  The cranberry sauce tasted infinitely better than any strawberry coulis, with the oranges adding a hearty bite and refreshing burst of juiciness and acidity to cut through the heaviness of the ice cream and the sweetness of the cranberry sauce.

In fact, I may or may not have one of these sundaes every day until I ran out of sauce.  Definitely something that would be equally fantastic in both winter and summer... And fall and spring while we're at it.

 
now literally my favorite sundae of all time

Winter Ice Cream Sundae
  
vanilla ice cream (preferably a premium brand)
cranberry sauce
oranges, supremed

I would hope that one would not need directions on how to assemble an ice cream sundae...

Note*: If you like, add the juice from the supremed oranges into the cranberry sauce to thin it out into a less gelatinous and more pourable consistency. 


cranberry sauce
adapted from Use Real Butter

1 cup sugar
1 cup water
4 cups (12 oz.) cranberries, fresh or frozen – washed and picked over
1 teaspoon of orange zest
1/2 of a vanilla bean, split and seeded

Combine the water and sugar in a medium saucepan over high heat. Stir until sugar is dissolved. When liquid comes to a boil, add the cranberries, zest, and vanilla and return to boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for about 10 minutes. The cranberries should pop and break down as well as thicken up. I like to leave a few whole ones. Makes about 2 cups of cranberry sauce.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

College Dining Journal: 1/4/12


Breakfast today was an asiago bagel from earlier this week that was stashed in the freezer with some onion and chive cream cheese.

For lunch I used a meal credit at the same bagel place to buy a chicken caesar salad.  I can't really say anything else about it except it tasted like a pre-packaged caesar salad, with extremely pale chicken, slightly wilted and bitter romaine, and generic tasting bottled dressing.  I ate the whole thing along with a glass or two of water.


Later that day I went to a different venue to use a meal credit to buy stuff for dinner: A chicken caesar wrap (gosh damn I eat a lot of chicken caesar-related items), some carrot and celery sticks, and a hummus snack pack.


I unwrapped the filling from it's ginormously oversized tortilla, figuring that's where the bulk of the 720 calories laid. 

 
$5.25 doesn't get you much 

 

The carrots were dry and had an unpleasantly flaky feel on the outside, but were still edible nonetheless.  I ate half the pack with some peanut butter, and stored the rest in the fridge. 



The hummus was actually pleasantly garlicky, but the bread was a miserable excuse for a pita that tasted like the most generic carb possible.  The cherry tomatoes, which were actually nicely sweet, felt like afterthoughts since they were only two of them alongside a lonely broccoli floret.  I ended up eating the whole thing either way.  My beverage of choice was a bottle of half tea half lemonade and for dessert I had some chocolate-covered raisins from a Costco-sized jar that I brought up from home... And when I mean some I basically mean two handfuls throughout the night of homework and Facebook browsing.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

My Photo "Equipment"

My diffuser: 4 pieces of styrofoam taped together, with parchment paper taped across.


My 2 sided reflector: A whiteboard (that serves as one side), with aluminum foil taped on the other.



Yeah... I am a stingy muddah fuddah.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

The Quest for Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies- Part 1

Starting from Scratch


Part 4 of a holiday brunch.  (See 3, 2, and 1)

As of today I'm starting my second quarter of college, and it feels exactly like my very first day 3 and a half months ago.  For the past three weeks of winter break I spent all that time sitting on my ass doing nothing that was terribly productive.  Now that I'm back in very sterile looking college housing, I realized that I have to go through both the joy and pain that was my first quarter of college.  Hopefully this time I'll end up with a slightly higher GPA... And less all nighters... And less junk food sessions...

You get the drift.  But no matter how sarcastically I phrase these resolutions of mine I really do plan on doing everything differently for the better.

the whip and rest stage

I think there might be hundreds of cookie recipes out there claiming to be perfect or the best, and frankly they're all overwhelming.  I probably have a dozen or so different recipes bookmarked in my browser, ranging from Jacque Torres's recipe to the famous Neiman Marcus cookie.  So what better thing to do is combine all of them together!  I just picked out what I thought stood out from each recipe, and as a result I did the following to my favorite "normal" chocolate chip cookie recipe.
  1. Use less butter --> chewier cookie
  2. Use melted butter --> same as above
  3. Use browned butter --> increase nutty flavor
  4. Toast the flour --> same as above
  5. 2 Tbs of peanut butter --> augment the nutty flavor
  6. Very scant amounts of cinnamon and instant coffee powder --> just for the heck of it
  7. Increase in coarse kosher salt --> just because I like it
  8. Chocolate chunks --> more intense chocolate flavor and variation in texture 
  9. Overnight chill --> give time for the flour to be absorbed
<3 chocolate chunks


I drew from an article by the NY Times, and while 3 days would be ideal no sane person in my house would have the self control to leave cookie dough in the fridge for that long without baking and consuming it all, so I let it rest for 24 hours.  The idea is that allowing time for the flour to be absorbed by the wet ingredients allows the cookie to brown more evenly and the aging process develops deeper and more complex flavors.  

Furthermore, I referenced the idea for toasted flour from Not Without Salt, though I admit I didn't toast it nearly as dark in fear that it would be too overpowering.  On hindsight, I probably would've toasted it more because I felt the effects were a bit unnoticeable.