Archive for February, 2014

28th February
2014
written by admin

Week 7 – February 12, 2014 – February 18, 2014
Made on February 14, 2014

I was trying to decide what I wanted to eat for Valentine’s Day. I knew that I wanted to have something to do with chocolate. I can’t remember why I decided to look up a chocolate ravioli, but I found this recipe on epicurious.

The website didn’t have any pictures of the food at all so I took extra pictures when I was cooking to make up for it. I made the dough and the filling on the Thursday the 13th since the filling had to be chilled for a few hours. If I were to make this again my recommendation would be to make the filling first and put it in the fridge and then make the dough. You can put the dough in the fridge to chill as well, since you need to take the filling out again to add the chocolate and then chill it again. It would have shortened the total time if I would have started the filling first.

After rolling out the dough, I used a wine glass to create the little circle discs. The recipe recommends folding the dough over the filling which is also a viable option… I just decided to make all the dough discs. I was hoping that I could take the extra dough, and re-roll it to create more discs, but the dough had dried enough, I didn’t know how to salvage it. Here’s a picture of the stack of discs I made.

After this I placed some of the filling on half the discs. The filling looks a little chunky in this picture. It turned out this way because I only had chocolate chips to melt for the filling. When I added the melted chocolate chips to the chilled filling, the chocolate started to solidify again, making random chocolate chunks in the filling, instead of mixing smoothly.

After that, it was time to assemble the ravioli. I used water as the “glue” and started boiling water to cook a few. The rest I put in a container and placed it in the fridge.

Then it came to the sauce. I felt like there was enough chocolate in it and I wanted to add some strawberries. Strawberries, chocolate, and Valentine’s Day go well together. So I looked up a recipe for a Strawberry Compote. I found this recipe on Food Network’s website. I followed this recipe and the compote turned out to be delicious. I was worried about the Grand Marnier because I don’t think I’ve had it before. So I didn’t know what kind of flavor profile it would give the compote. Turns out that it has an orange-y taste to it and goes very well with strawberries to make a compote. It’s like those Food Network people know what they’re talking about or something.

Well, I think it turned out well. The chunky chocolate filling I was complaining about earlier smoothed out after being boiled. In this last picture, I like that you can still see the steam emanating from hot food.

27th February
2014
written by admin

Week 6 – February 05, 2014 – February 11, 2014
Made on February 05, 2014

I had more strawberries to use as well as some leftover feta. That led me to this recipe I had seen in Food & Wine magazine for a salad – Baby Lettuces with Feta, Strawberries and Almonds.

This recipe was pretty simple. I don’t think I used as much feta as the recipe called for. I just used what I had left (which I didn’t measure). I also couldn’t find smoked almonds, but I had diced walnuts so I used that instead. I think it turned out great! It was really simple to make and really tasty. The walnuts added a little crunch. The strawberries added some sweetness. And the vinaigrette added a little tang. Not to mention – it’s so pretty!

25th February
2014
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Week 5 – January 29, 2014 – February 04, 2014
Made on January 29, 2014

Strawberries were on sale at the grocery store this week. I was so excited to see Strawberries at the store in general, I had to get them. Then I had to figure out what I wanted to make with them. I had seen a recipe for Strawberry Chocolate Tacos, and they looked good, so I decided to go with that. I didn’t have mini chocolate chips at home, so I just used regular sized ones. It still worked out well. I like the extra texture added by the chocolate chips that hadn’t completely melted.

Even though the white balance is off in all of these pictures I think the bokeh turned out well. I’ve been having trouble with white balance in general for my food pictures because I often cook at night, when I’m using lights in my house instead of natural light. Figuring out the white balance will be a goal of mine for the rest of this 52 week project.

21st February
2014
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Week 4 – January 22, 2014 – January 28, 2014
Made on January 25, 2014

I was in the mood to bake something and I had been seeing these pictures of cake online so I decided to try this one by Tom Douglas.

It’s called a Double Chocolate Layer Cake, but it may as well be called death by chocolate or something… there is a lot of chocolate in this cake. There’s two layers of chocolate cake, a chocolate mousse center and then a chocolate buttercream frosting on top. I decided to make the dark chocolate mousse and then the rich chocolate frosting.

The mousse didn’t turn out as creamy as I thought it would… but I don’t think I left it in the fridge to cool as long as I should have. I also didn’t have a coffee liqueur. I substituted an Irish Cream instead. The buttercream turned out great. It was definitely rich and creamy and it wasn’t overly sweet. I’m not a fan of super sweet desserts.

Overall, it was very tasty, but it was a lot of chocolate. It was also very time-consuming to make. I’m glad I made this once, but I’d need a *really* good reason to decide to make it again.

20th February
2014
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Week 4 – January 22, 2014 – January 28, 2014
Made on January 23, 2014

One thing that I’ve always wanted to learn how to make is tomato soup. I’ve always just made soup from a can and, well, soup from a can is never as creamy as you can get a restaurant. I’ve always wanted to make a soup with that restaurant level creaminess. I decided to test out this recipe I found on Smitten Kitchen for a classic grilled cheese and tomato soup.

I have to admit, I wasn’t prepared for the effort that this recipe needed. I didn’t expect to have to drain all of those tomatoes. But the part of drying them out in the oven… that added some flavor to the soup that it wouldn’t have gotten otherwise. The Smitten Kitchen site didn’t have any pictures of what the dried tomatoes looked like. So here’s mine. I’m not sure if this is right… there was still some level of moisture still in some of the tomatoes, but the edges were burnt, so it was time to remove them.

One thing I like about making soups is that after preparing all the ingredients, one of the last steps has been to stick everything in a blender and puree it. I added my cayenne pepper and it was perfect. But then I added the dry sherry wine I had gotten. I’m not sure if I got the right kind of sherry wine for cooking… but it severely changed the flavor profile. I like the taste before I put the sherry in. I tried adding some more cayenne pepper and salt to change the flavor back, but it didn’t work. Next time I make this, there will be less sherry and I will actually measure the cayenne pepper I use so I can recreate it easier.

The grilled cheese was simple. The recipe on Smitten Kitchen calls for mild cheddar, but after the first time I made it, I tried different cheeses out. I tried some gruyere as well as sharp cheddar and they both tasted great with the soup. When I made this the first time, I thought 3oz of shredded cheese for two sandwiches was too much, but after making them I understand that it was the right amount. It’s enough to make the sandwiches nice and gooey, but not so much that it’s messy or gross.

Last note – I garnished the soup with dried basil and lava salt.

19th February
2014
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Week 3 – January 15, 2014 – January 21, 2014
Made on January 17, 2014

On this Friday, I was looking for something quick. I also had a lot of chicken in my freezer that I was hoping to eat as well as some feta that I needed to do something with it. I decided to try this chicken recipe – Grilled Chicken Breasts with Lemon and Thyme. It involved ingredients that I wouldn’t have thought to put together (red pepper and thyme). It was so simple to make, I wouldn’t have thought that it would be so tasty. But it was! I would definitely make this again.

Then for my side dish, I made Grilled Asparagus and Feta. Again, this was really simple and worked really well with the chicken dish. The flavors seemed to blend well together.

18th February
2014
written by admin

Week 2 – January 08, 2014 – January 14, 2014
Made on January 14, 2014

This week I made a Brioche French Toast. I read about this recipe in one of the Food & Wine issues that I got while I was subscribed to the magazine. One thing that I was excited about was with making this french toast was that I was finally going to use the griddle burner on my range. I’ve never used one before so it was exciting for me. :) I only made less than half the recipe because I didn’t want to make 12 slices of french toast, just for me…

Making this was very simple and very delicious. I would definitely make it again.

17th February
2014
written by admin

Week 1 – January 01, 2014 – January 07, 2014
Made on January 06, 2014

I’m a fan of Chicken Tikka Masala. I think it’s really tasty, but it’s seemed really complicated to make. Then I saw a picture while browsing pinterest. It looked so good and to make things even more appealing, it was made via a slow cooker. I love using my slow cooker since all you need to do is chop things up and it cooks itself. So I decided to try this recipe for Slow Cooker Chicken Tikka Masala.

I followed the recipe for the most part. I used 1 tbsp of cayenne pepper and that seemed to be plenty (at least for me). I also used cilantro instead of parsley for the garnish. Cilantro definitely adds more of an Indian flavor, IMHO.

Here’s what my food ended up looking like. I think the pictures on the recipe site were better. This was one of the recipes that made me want to learn food photography more…

I claimed this was the first time I’ve ever attempted to make Indian food. To learn more about its origins, I looked it up and Wikipedia says it’s actually from the UK! Using Indian flavors, it was then adapted to be made more gravy-like – to go for what folks in the UK are more used to.

16th February
2014
written by admin

Week 1 – January 01, 2014 – January 07, 2014
Made on January 04, 2014

While at home one morning, I was watching the Food Network. Giada De Laurentiis was on tv showing how to make some brunch foods, and I’m a big fan of brunch. She went through making an Italian sausage and egg bake and it looked sooooo good. The ingredients were super simple, I had to try it.

Some of the changes I made to this recipe – I used a french bread instead of a country bread loaf. Also, I couldn’t find uncooked turkey sausage. So I ended up getting the already cooked kind and just slicing it up. I thought turned out tasty. I would make it again but maybe make a smaller portion so I don’t end up with so many leftovers.

16th February
2014
written by admin

I love food and whenever I see delicious looking food, I want to attempt to make it… but then I don’t do anything. Last year (it being so busy with work/Xbox) I spent most of my time eating at work. If I was at home for a meal, I made heated up something frozen. I was disappointed that I just moved into this beautiful house with, pretty much, my dream kitchen, but I never used it. So I made the one of my New Year resolutions for 2014 to cook more. But then I was trying to decide, how often to cook and how to track my progress. In January, I just cooked when I felt like it. But was that good enough? What if I didn’t feel like cooking for weeks – does that mean I broke my resolution? I needed a little more structure.

Well, along with loving food itself, I love pictures of food. When I was cooking in January, I was usually proud of my creation and would take a picture of it. But then I decided I wanted to get better at food photography, so I decided to combine that with my New Year resolution and started this 52 week challenge. Every week this year, I will be cooking something and taking pictures of. I have a bunch of pictures from what I’ve made so far, so I will play a little catch up with some food posts. But I’d like to get better at posting once a week after catching up.

Let the cooking begin!

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