Sunday, January 26, 2014

Pizza Monkey Bread

Something I've been seeing circulating on Facebook is called "Pull-Apart Pizza Bread." When I looked at the recipe, I thought to myself, "That looks like the monkey bread that Greg makes, only pizza." Having been walked through the monkey bread process (monkey bread is delicious, by the way), I figured the pizza bread would be both easy and a neat thing to try. I wasn't sure how everything was going to stick together, but when has that stopped me before?

Greg helped me shop for the pizza monkey bread. We got two canisters of Pillsbury Grands biscuits, a package of turkey pepperoni (because I try my best to stay away from pork products that often make me sick), and some shredded mozzarella cheese. It's a simple recipe. If I do this again, I might try adding mushrooms or diced onions. Probably a lot of things could be added provided they are in smallish chunks or slices.

Now, we only kind of have a bundt pan. By this I mean that we have two pieces of metal that fit together and look like a bundt pan, but they don't fit together tightly enough to keep juices from oozing out the bottom and making a mess of the oven. We learned this when Greg first made monkey bread in it. But, it's all I have, so I just placed it on a baking sheet to catch any drippings.
First, I put together a homemade dipping sauce of olive oil, garlic powder, dried basil leaves, and dried parsley. 

Second, I opened the Grands biscuits package and tore each of the Grands in half. At first  tried to roll them into balls before giving them a bath of olive oil and tossing them into the make-shift bundt pan. 
Once I had a layer of dough, I put on a layer of pepperoni followed by a layer of cheese. I repeated the dough, then pepperoni, then cheese, finishing with a third layer of dough. I was low on dough at this point, so it was a very loose layer. 
I had the oven preheating to 350F while I was assembling the bread. The recipe calls for 375F, but our oven runs very hot and often burns things if I set it to the actual recommended temperature. Turns out this time that 375 would have been better. I baked it for 25 minutes, tried it, and it was quite doughy. After I popped it back in for another 10 minutes, it was still not done! I ended up putting my portion in the microwave to cook while Greg just ate the undercooked dough. 

When I ate leftovers a couple of days later, I also dipped the pieces into pasta sauce. I figure if I make this again, and I'd like to for Game Night, I will make make a spread of dipping sauces for after the bread is cooked. I'll bet Alfredo sauce would be delicious with pizza bread. Or more of the garlic and herb sauce I made for the dough bits before baking them.

Anyway, I consider this mostly a success! And it's easy and fun.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

A Humble Ode

Keeps me warm in winter with
International culinary explorations,
Terrific adventures and follies.
Cozy and a little cramped, a
Heart of the home
Everyone can enjoy.
Now would be a nice time to have a new one, though.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Poached Eggs on Toast

I am thinking I should change the update day for this blog to Saturdays. Wednesday is my only guaranteed day off during the week, and if I end up doing stuff that day, which I often do since it's my only opportunity to run most errands, Saturday is my next opportunity to update the blog as I work late both Thursday and Friday. Saturdays I never work late regardless of which job I am working. So yeah, look for new updates on Saturdays, folks! It's a more reliable day.

As I had reported in my my Holiday Rush entry, Greg's mother gave me a four egg poacher for Christmas. With my busy work schedule, it took entirely too long for me to have time to use it. Finally, Greg and I had a morning off together and I made us poached eggs on toast. Putting poached eggs on toast is a rather new thing for me. I learned it from my mother's boyfriend, and liked it so much that I've added to my breakfast rotation when I have time for that kind of thing. Really it isn't a dish that takes much time. Make poached eggs, make toast, then put eggs on toast. Voila. I just don't like getting up early if there is no reason - and no, eating breakfast is not a good enough reason - so usually set my alarm for 45 or 60 minutes before I have to leave for work. I often actually rise 30 minutes before and breakfast ends up being cereal. 

Anyway, the egg poacher. If you like eggs and you don't have one, you seriously need to remedy this pronto. If you're into cute and funky things for your kitchen, you can forgo the special pan and pick up something like the floating silicone leaf poachers that Catching Fireflies sells. Basically, they're curved little bowl-like rubbery things that you crack the egg into, then set to floating on some bowling water in a pan until the egg is cooked. I've never tried one, so I don't know how practical they are, but they are rather cute. 

You can, of course, also poach eggs directly in a pan of bowling water, which is how it is "supposed" to be done, but it's difficult. I've seen it done, and I have also seen it totally screwed up. However you do it, poached eggs take about 3 minutes to cook. 

So my egg poacher has four little detachable cups into which I crack one egg each. The cups then fit into a piece that fits over the pan of bowling water. (The pan comes with the rest of it.) The piece that the cups fit into has four holes in it so that the eggs are essentially steamed wen the lid is put on. The cups need to be greased somehow. I find butter to be the tastiest, but cooking spray works, too. This way, the eggs slide right out when you are ready to remove them. 

Traditionally, poached eggs are supposed to have runny yolks, the better to spread on toast, I suppose, or, as I like to do, mix with hash browns. It's hard to get runny yolks with an egg poacher, but soft centers are easy if you keep an eye on the pan. (As I said above, about 3 minutes to cook.) A soft poached egg is easier to mash onto toast, an English muffin, or bagel, and is quite delicious. Growing up, though, we just ate them with a fork, generally alongside turkey bacon and/or hash browns and/or toast. My mother usually puts pepper on hers. Poached eggs are also a good size to make English muffin breakfast sandwiches.

Popular dishes that use poached eggs include Eggs Benedict, Eggs Florentine, and an array of Louisiana Creole dishes that I have never heard of and am hesitant to try because things that say they are from Louisiana are generally too spicy for me. Eggs Sardou sound safe, though, upon further inspection. Actually, they sound a lot like Eggs Benedict with the Hollandaise sauce and all. If I am ever in New Orleans again, I'll give them a try.

Now I want eggs.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Chicken and Mushrooms with Rice

Ever since buying this banana leaf silicone lid from Catching Fireflies, I've been wanting to make a casserole. I thought I had the ingredients on hand to make an almond chicken and rice casserole, one of my favorite casserole recipes from my personal recipe notebook, but I lacked one key ingredient, cream of chicken soup. I don't use cream of chicken soup anymore due to Greg's allergy to chicken broth, but it does seem very unlike me not to keep some kind of canned cream soup around. I tried to come up with a substitute, but nothing presented itself, so I gave up on make a casserole - this time. 

Instead, I made a simple stir fry, of sorts, with the two thawing chicken breasts and half a box of wilting mushrooms in my fridge. I cubed both the chicken and the mushrooms and cooked them covered over medium heat on the stove in my largest frying pan with a couple splashes of soy sauce.

To thicken the resulting juices, I scooped a tablespoon or so of flour into a small dish and slowly added water to create a thin paste. I slowly poured this into my pan of chicken and mushrooms just as they were finishing cooking. This created a thicker broth, almost like a sauce, that coated the meat and fungi pieces. 

This was all served alongside steamed white rice fresh from the rice cooker. I like short grain best because it clumps together, making it easy to scoop up with a fork. I also microwaved some frozen veggies with butter, making a pretty well balanced meal, simple and tasty, or so I thought. I don't know how Greg felt about it. Our cooking styles are quite different. At least it was a meal ready to go that he didn't have to cook after working all day. 

As for me, it was nice to spend time in the kitchen again. Maybe next time I'll get to that casserole!