Saturday, May 31, 2008

Dissertation Writer's Breakfast


1. Frosted Flakes, 1-1/2 cups

2. White Horse Blended Scotch Whisky, 2 cups

3. Cool Whip, 1/2 cup

4. Leftover Easter eggs (raw), 6-12

5. Crack, 1/2 Tbsp.


Combine ingredients in bowl.

Ricotta Stuffed Mushrooms and Peaches

Hello from Oz! One of the things I really like about Oz, aside from the weather and the flying monkeys, is the Greek deli down the street from my house that sells fresh ricotta for $5.99 a kilo. Here are two ricotta recipes I put together back in February, back when peaches were in season. They're not so great side by side, but you can serve the first one for dinner and the second one for dessert.

If you don't feel like baking these things, I've also had good results cooking them on the stovetop in a wok with a cover.

Disclaimer: I tend to measure with my eyeballs, so I'm not entirely sure I've got all the measures and cooking times right. If your common cooking sense conflicts with either recipe, I would suggest listening to your common sense.

ricotta stuffed mushrooms

25-30 crimini mushrooms
1 ear corn
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 large red bell pepper, (capsicum) diced
1 bunch fresh coriander, chopped (oregano and basil also work well)
250 g ricotta
2 tablespoons olive oil

Wash mushrooms, set caps aside, and dice stems. Un-silk corn and chop kernels off cob. Saute mushroom stems and corn in butter for 15 minutes, adding diced capsicum after 10 minutes. Place mushroom stem mixture in mixing bowl; add coriander and ricotta; mix well. Stuff mushroom caps with ricotta mixture and arrange on a cookie sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and bake at 375 degrees for 30-45 minutes, or until mushrooms are cooked through.

ricotta stuffed peaches

4-5 peaches
150 g ricotta
a handful of crushed walnuts (pecans or pistachios would also be good)
2 tbsp finely chopped mint (better yet, blend it in a blender)
1-4 tbsp honey

Halve peaches and remove pits. In mixing bowl, mix ricotta, walnuts, mint, and honey to taste. (This is one of those things that will taste good raw if it's going to taste good cooked.) Stuff peaches with ricotta mixture and arrange on a cookie sheet. Bake at 375 degrees for 30-45 minutes. Be sure to put some water in the bottom of the cookie sheet to prevent the peaches from dessicating.


Prologue: I saw some POLENTA at the store and asked myself, 'WTF is that'? Turns out it's some kind of once-digested corn meal. 'Once-digested corn meal,' I continued to myself, 'sounds remarkable'. Intrigued, I elected to cook something with this magical POLENTA. I went hence to EPICURIOUS.COM, a internet posting wall devoted to puns and recipes. What follows is a minor variation on the recipe found there. I recommend the recipe to those who want Italian sumptuousness without those heavy carbs. Am I right, ladies?!?!


2 pounds precooked polenta (in a tube), cut into 4 (1/2-inch-thick) rounds

1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 pound sweet Italian sausage, casing removed
1/2 pound mixed sliced fresh wild mushrooms
1/2 cup dry red wine (substitute: port you stole from your roommates)
1 1/2 cups bottled marinara sauce (I used an arrabiata, which worked well)

Preheat broiler.

Broil polenta rounds on a lightly oiled large heavy baking sheet 3 to 4 inches from heat until lightly browned in spots, about 9 minutes. Turn rounds over and sprinkle with cheese, then broil until polenta is golden in spots and cheese is melted, about 8 minutes more.

Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over high heat until it shimmers, then cook sausage, breaking up lumps, until just cooked through, about 4 minutes. Transfer to a bowl.

Heat remaining tablespoon oil in skillet over medium heat until it shimmers, then cook mushrooms, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 3 minutes. Add wine and boil, scraping up any brown bits, until reduced by about half, about 2 minutes. Stir in sausage and tomato sauce and simmer, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes. Season with salt.

Serve ragout spooned over polenta.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

puy lentils and frilly fennel fronds

say the title of this post five times very quickly—did you say 'frennel' or 'fonds'?? i like fennel because you get a vegetable and an herb all in one, and they're both quite tasty. the fronds are also good in salads (make a citrus vinaigrette with them), and, i'm told, make an excellent bed for roasting fish.

serves 2+

1 cup french puy lentils (the small dark green ones)
1 fennel bulb, diced
1 sweet onion, diced
2 carrots, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
fennel fronds, chopped
some goat cheese, crumbled
some cherry tomatoes, halved
a small squeeze of lemon

cook the lentils in boiling water, without any salt, until they are done (but not overdone—they should retain their shape and still have some bite to them); then rinse them in cold water and drain. while the lentils are cooking, sauté the onion, fennel and carrot in a glug of olive oil over moderate heat until they are softened. when they're softened, add the garlic and a good pinch of salt and sauté a minute or two more. combine the lentils and the vegetables, and add the goat cheese (not too much), fennel fronds, and tomatoes. mix everything together so that the goat cheese can get things creamy. a bit of lemon adds extra zing.

this is best eaten right away, as the onion flavor takes over if left in the fridge overnight. (onions can be quite aggressive in that way.)

Friday, May 23, 2008

Fried Rice*

1 egg
2 slices of bacon, diced
1/4 tablespoon minced garlic
1/4 tablespoon minced ginger
1/4 bunch scallions
2 cups day old rice
1/4 tablespoon soy sauce
1/2 tablespoon chopped cilantro 
salt and pepper
canola oil for cooking

(1) Saute whisked egg in hot oil, transfer to paper towel.
(2) Cook bacon, then add garlic, ginger, scallions and stir fry till softened.
(3) Add rice, soy sauce, and egg, and stir, breaking up egg.
(4) Add cilantro and season.

*This recipe is Ming Tsai's.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

a simple salad

this requires very little work, which makes it perfect for paper-writing season.

1 cucumber, seeded and diced
2 tomatoes, chopped
a handful of mint leaves, chopped
a healthy chunk of feta, crumbled

mix everything together. i think it's great just as it is, but if you like, you can add a dribble of olive oil, a little black pepper, a squeeze of lemon, or even a bit of orzo to make it more of a meal.