17 May 2009

Dutch Baby Pancake Bliss

After doing my daily RSS check, scrolling through the latest from my favorite foodie blogs, I stumbled on this. My eyes got all wide, and after a few oohs and ahhhs, I said "WANT" and put it on the weekend docket.

This recipe got tested out yesterday, an eggier pancake batter with butter that then gets poured into a preheated skillet with more butter and popped in the oven. It's incredibly easy, leaves the house smelling like a Saturday morning in a New England bed & breakfast, and just makes me smile.

I sprinkled some powdered sugar and cinnamon on mine after it came out of the oven, reminding me a mix of what my family called "Indian Ghost bread" (it was just thin pieces of fried dough, really) crossed with a crepe. Thin, but doughey and absolutely divine. I had a few mangoes in the fridge, so I added that as my topping, including some of the mango juice from the remaining flesh around the pit.

Opportunities are endless here for toppings, and would be a great brunch food, me thinks. Here are the details:

Dutch Baby Pancakes
adapted ever so slightly from Kitchen Wench

1/2 cup all-purpose flour, sifted
3 eggs
1/2 cup milk
2 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
1 tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 TB of sugar

(I always put sugar in my pancake batter, whether out of the box or not. Usually some vanilla too, though I omitted here)

Preheat an oven to 350 F with a pan inside to heat. Mix together the eggs, milk, melted butter, salt and sugar. Slowly add the flour. Add the unmelted butter and let that coat the pan. There should be a bit more in there than usual pan-coating amount. Don't be alarmed.

Add the batter, pop in the oven for 20-30 minutes. It'll cook up a bit (and in my case fold over a bit, which I don't mind). Take out when browned to your liking.

Down with the sickness

Being sick in the pits. I think there's global agreement on that. After a few back-to-back weeks of planes, trains and automobiles, my immune system finally waved a white flag and took a vacation, leaving me congested, exhausted, and feeling somewhat deathly. Lo and behold, this was right when swine flu mania began, making my explanations of a) heavy travel b) allergies that kicked in when I was in the UK and c) nasty headcold somewhat moot.

Thankfully, after a few days of drowning myself with lemon, ginger, and honey concoctions and spicy miso ramen soup, I was feeling a bit better, and looking for some food with substance. My cravings were somewhat bizarre, as if I was a pregnant woman eating sour pickles and peanut butter.

The result:
- spicy veggie curry with cauliflower and tomatoes
- white bean spinach soup
- cutlets, just like sab and her mom used to make.

Not too shabby, eh? Lots of protein, a good amount of spice, and relatively healthy.

The curry is an old standby, this one including garbanzo beans, cauliflower, 1 potato and a can of stewed tomatoes. Add a bit of garam masala, some cumin, stock and garlic. Then simmer away until it's mushy-like. That's the scientific term for it too. :)

Very similar in procedure as the curry I made a few months ago.

Serve with some naan, rice, or, as I did later in the week, a side of cottage cheese. Odd, I realize, but healthy and cuts the heat of the curry.

Beans were the main ingredient of the day ... what can I say. Tasty, and also cheap as all get out. Win win.

I first spotted this soup - the white bean spinach soup - over at Not Quite Nigella. I chose to make this without the chorizo, which is a decision I don't regret, to tell you the truth. The basics include a mirepoix to start, adding about 10 oz. of spinach and stock, 2 bay leaves half a pint of stock. Simmer for 20 minutes, then puree using an immersion blender. This is a thicker soup, but great comfort food. Yum.

Oh, and the cutlets ... not Agro cutlets (my best friend and her mother make, by far, the best cutlets EVAR. no joke.) These were just craving food. Delicous, slightly salty, breaded craving food.

04 May 2009

Getting to know KT

From last summer in Sitges, Spain, courtesy of the lovely M, available under a CC-BY-NC-SA license.

Who doesn't love a good meme, especially one about food quips and what not. I spotted this over on Boastful Baker (who spotted in on Brownie Points), and figured I'd give it a try. The questions are bolded, my answer following. Hopefully this will give you a better insight into the cook behind Tales of a Test Kitchen.

Link back if you re-post this too. Let's see how many people we can get to try :) And with that, here goes:


Metal or non-stick? non-stick. it makes my life easier.

Cast iron or stainless? if i didn't have a flat electric range, then cast iron, in a heart beat. but for now, stainless.

Cutting board: silicone or wood? silicone. easy to fold and use to transport chopped items to the stove.

Knife: carbon steel or stainless? Carbon steel. but I have some of both.

Kitchenaid or hand mixer? ha, i usually go without appliances together and do it by hand. yes, i realize this isn't practical or efficient, but a damn good way of getting out stress. try hand whipping whipped cream or a meringue. TRY it.

though, all things said and done, a mixer is next on the kitchen supply list, and i drool of the kitchenaid mixer + attachments.

Cooktop: gas, electric, induction? currently, electric. dreaming of a gas range once day.

Side-by-side, freezer on top, fridge on top? freezer on top, though i grew up with that in the reverse.

Apron or whoops? often whoops, though i have an adorable anthropologie apron from my last birthday that's printed and ruffly. just what i'm not, but that's what makes it fun to wear. :)

Mashed potatoes: by hand, ricer, or mixer? by hand. i like the hard work.

Sandwich or wrap? sandwich, with homemade bread. and good cheese. or if you're the mervines, a meatball sammy (sorry, inside joke)

PB & _________ ? chocolate. or apples. or bananas and honey. or strawberry jelly on potato bread. or even weirder, my old childhood staple ... PB and bacon sandwiches.

Pancakes: syrup or applesauce? unless they're potato pancakes, real maple syrup.

Cake: scratch or mix? scratch. even made a small one last night. mmm, devils food cake. mmm.

Chili: beans or no? beans, but more fun when it's not just traditional red beef chili with kidney beans. white chili and 3 bean chili are some personal favorites.

Napkin: cloth or paper? cloth, though mine are currently in a box somewhere from the move in desperate need of being ironed. so paper for now.

BBQ: takes the whole weekend to make or take out? homemade, though mine rarely is a whole weekend operation. get me a smoker and a backyard and that'll change.

Chicken: white or dark? not too picky, but lean more towards white meat.

Ice cream: cone or dish? dish, or a waffle cone. for sure.

Operation cleanout, moving, dusting off the cobwebs

Apologies for the long silence here on Tales of a Test Kitchen. In the last month, I've packed up my little Back Bay kitchen, moved across the line just barely into Brookline, and been traveling like a mad woman ever since.

Excuses, excuses, I know, but it's tough to really get back into the swing of cooking - and enjoying it - when the kitchen still has boxes in it, is missing appliances and what not. Slowly but surely, this will be remedied, I assure you. I've promised a few people updates on here, so lets kick the tires. I'm at home with a nasty head cold from my latest travels, and maybe this will get my brain moving.

This post is about a month old, but good nevertheless. Pre- my move, I was in the midst of cooking to clean out my fridge and pantry, part of Operation Cleanout. Day 3 of this process brought us a delicious vegetarian pasta with chard, lemon cream sauce and toasted pine nuts, as well as a lemony asparagus soup that's to die for.

The pasta was an interesting endeavor, to say the least. I had half a container of sour cream to use, lemons, spring onions, chard, whole wheat pasta and a number of other miscellaneous ingredients. The sauce was a mix of the sour cream, sauteed garlic, some chili flakes, lemon zest and lemon juice. I had toasted some pine nuts and sauteed some chard separately. Once all of the components were complete, just tossed them all with the sauce and voila. Topped with some chopped spring onions. This was just aces after a long day of work, and kicked any alfredo sauce or pasta roni kit you can get at the store.

The Lemony Asparagus soup that joined the night's menu was spotted on Dishing Up Delights, and was not only supremely easy, but light and delicious.

And even better, I had a few burners left on my stove to make it, while still tending to the pasta mentioned above.

Lemony Asparagus Soup
From Dishing Up Delights, adapted from Food and Wine

1 bunch of asparagus, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 white onion, thinly sliced
2 cups chicken stock (could also use veggie)
one 1-inch wide strip of lemon zest, plus 1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest for garnish
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
salt and freshly ground pepper

Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil, and cook the asparagus for about 2-3 minutes. Transfer to an ice bath to stop the cooking process. Drain and set aside.

In a clean saucepan, add oil and cook the onion until soft, about 5 minutes. Add salt and pepper. Add chicken stock and lemon zest strip. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 5 minutes or so. Add asparagus and cook for another 5 minutes until tender. Discard lemon zest and use an immersion blender to puree.