Cup of Laughs

Title: Cup of Laughs

Notes:

Screenprint

April 2012

I feel very proud of this because I hand drew each image before burning it onto the screen.

It was for my last Printmaking assignment. What do you think?

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Sketchin-0

Title: Miss Desperate

Date: March 2012

Artist: Why, little ‘ol me.

Additional Comments: This is not meant to be Marilyn Monroe, although I am aware that it might resemble her a little. It’s just a sketch I might use for my next project.

I feel like she’s out of proportion, but overall I’m satisfied with it.

Chinese Sesame and Peanut Candy

This was good!

So the last picture implies that this is to be eaten around the New Year. While this may be the case, I didn’t make the candy until about a week after New Years and, obviously, not posting this until a month later. I’m just letting you know so you know that I know that New Years is past and that it’s okay to make and eat something a month late.

Also, I’m struggling to 1) find something to say about these because I did make them a while ago and 2) focus on my Art History reading, which I should be doing right now. It’s not that I don’t find it interesting, because I actually do find it very interesting. In fact, it’s one of my favorite classes. Unfortunately, unlike the lecture, the textbook is full of uninteresting things that I have to pick through to find the interesting things. I mean, for me, the interesting part about architecture (it’s an architecture history class) is why someone built something and how it looks, not so much the technical details on how they built it. But hey, it’s all part of the class and it’s all worth learning.

I can’t say that I’m actually going to learn any of this, though. I don’t think I’m retaining much of it.

Maybe it’ll help to take a bit of a break… Look at other peoples’ websites for a while… Have some yogurt…

Chinese Sesame and Peanut Candy

From MyKitchenSnippets

1 cup Sugar

2 tbsp White Vinegar

1 tbsp Water

1/4 cup Toasted Sesame Seeds

2 1/4 cups Skinless Roasted Peanuts

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Line a rectangular cake pan (I used 8 by 8) with foil and grease it with oil. Combined half of the Toasted Sesame Seeds and Peanuts together and spread them evenly on the pan.

Combine Sugar, Vinegar and Water in a heavy bottom saucepan. Cook over medium heat until it reaches 300 degrees F on a candy thermometer (roughly until it begins to reach light brown color stage and syrupy).

When the sugar syrup has reached the appropriate state, carefully (and promptly before it hardens) pour it over the nuts and seeds in the baking pan. Smooth the surface with a spatula, if you would like, although I did not. Sprinkle with the remaining sesame seeds and cool slightly.

While candy is still warm, remove from pan by lifting the foil. Cut into 2 inch by 1 inch pieces and then allow to cool completely before removing the foil and eating! Note: if you decide to store these someplace, like a plate, be sure to oil the surface to ensure that the candy does not stick.

Homemade& Handmade Udon

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Round two of Noodle-Making! In case you didn’t see it, I tried making another Japanese noodle a few months ago. That was a very difficult process and involved several attempts, none of which were entirely successful. These lovely Udon Noodles, on the other hand, were much easier and turned out well. And, as the recipe instructs, you do most of the kneading by stomping on the dough! How fun is that? It actually got a little… not-so-interesting after a while, but that’s okay. The noodles turned out fine, quite well actually, and they didn’t take an extraordinary amount of work. They do need some time to rest though, so I would suggest making them maybe half a day in advance. Start them in the morning and have them for lunch or dinner? Or keep the dough in the fridge for a few days or the freezer until you need it.

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Also, this was partially an experiment for me. Traditional Udon is made with a higher-gluten Udon Flour. This original recipe actually calls for something like 1/3 All-Purpose flour and 2/3 Bread Flour (higher gluten). However, because I did not have Bread Flour and I didn’t really want to buy a whole bag, I decided to try it with all All-Purpose. I was a little worried that they wouldn’t be “chewy” like Udon noodles tend to be described as. Especially with the difficulty with the Soba noodles – they were nearly impossible to get “chewy!” Because buckwheat flour is gluten-free, it didn’t bind very well, and the first few attempts landed me with irritatingly mushy noodles. Sucked. But these ones turned out well. My little sister liked them, and my mom said that they were “delicious.” Success.

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Homemade Udon Noodles

Adapted from Harumi’s Japanese Home Cooking via lafujimama

4 teaspoons Salt

1 cup Warm Water

3 1/4 cups Unbleached All Purpose Flour

Additional Flour, for dusting

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Add the Salt to the Water and stir until it has dissolved. Put the Flour in a large bowl.

Pour the salty water into the bowl with the flour.  Using your hands, mix the flour and water together until a dough begins to form. Pull the dough up from the bottom of the bowl and press down, repeating until a rough ball is formed. Take the dough out of the bowl and knead it forcefully on a board, floured f necessary, for 5-10 minutes until the dough has smoothed out.

Transfer the dough to a large plastic ziploc bag, push out as much air as possible, and then wrap the bag in a thick towel or cloth.  Put it on the floor and walk/ stomp on it with both feet. Turn as you walk, so that all the dough is evenly flattened. When the dough feels flat, remove the dough from the bag and roll it out on the board. Then fold it up and put it back into the bag and repeat the stomping and rolling process. The should become more and more smooth with each repeat.  Repeat 3 or 4 times.  On the last repeat, leave the dough in the bag, wrapped in the towel, and let it rest for 3 to 4 hours (during the winter, leave it in a warm place). When the dough is done resting, take it out of the bag, reshape it into a ball, then return it to the bag and walk on it one last time.  Try to spread the dough with your feet, turning around 360 degrees.

Dust your work surface with a bit of flour, then place the flattened dough on top and roll it out, working from the middle out.  Rotate the dough 90 degrees, flip and repeat until the dough is about 1/8-inch thick and a rectangle.*

Dust the dough with bread flour and then fold it into thirds.  Using a long sharp knife, cut the dough into 1/4-inch to 1/8-inch thick ribbons.  If the dough gets very sticky, dust it again with bread flour.  Dust the noodles with bread flour before moving them from the work surface.

To cook the noodles, fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil.  Lightly shake any excess flour from the noodles and add them to the boiling water.  Using wooden chopsticks or a wooden spoon, stir the noodles to prevent them from sticking to each other.  Cook the noodles for 6 to 7 minutes, or until they are translucent and cooked through.  Drain the noodles in a sieve and rinse under cold running water so they cool rapidly.

Once the noodles are cool enough to handle, rinse them again in cold water to make sure that all of the starch is removed.

*Rolled out dough can be wrapped in plastic wrap and refrigerated for up to 3 days, or frozen for up to 2 weeks.  Bring the dough to room temperature before sprinkling it with flour and continuing on with the next steps.

Ham Croquettas

Here’s another croquetta recipe. Much less time consuming than Rosa’s Croquettas, but very tasty. It’s a great way to use up leftover ham, and I think that this one works well for breakfast.

Ham Croquettas

1/2 lb Cooked Ham, chopped fine

2 tbsp Flour

2 tbsp Olive Oil

1 cup Milk

Black Pepper, to taste

1 or more Eggs, beaten

Bread Crumbs for coating

Oil for frying

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In a saucepan, make a roux of the Flour and Olive Oil: Heat the Oil in the pan and add the Flour, stirring and making sure that the flour does not burn. Slowly add the Milk while stirring, making sure that there are no lumps of flour. Continue to cook for a minute or so, you want the mixture to have the consistency of a thick chowder. Mix in the Black Pepper. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.

Once cooled, add the sauce to the Minced Ham, only a few tablespoons at a time, until the ham holds together well enough to shape. You may not need all of the sauce.

Form the Croquettas: with one or two spoons, make the shape of the Croquetta with 2 to 3 tablespoons of the ham mixture. Then coat with the Beaten Eggs and then with the Bread Crumbs. Set aside on a plate, and repeat until all of the mixture is used.

To cook the Croquettas, generously coat a pan in Oil. When the oil is heated, add the Croquettas and cook for a minute or so on each side, until golden brown and crispy. Transfer them carefully to drain on paper towels before serving.

Rosa’s Croquettas

A couple of years ago I spent a month in Barcelona studying spanish. It was wonderful, absolutely wonderful! I’d love to go back, and I plan on it, once I have the time and the money for a plane ticket… Anyways, while I was there, I was staying with my Aunt’s mother-in-law, Rosa. She’s a super-cool Spanish woman – kind, funny, stylish, an artist… not to mention a wonderful cook! She didn’t show it, but I must have gotten a little annoying hovering over her in her tiny kitchen, trying to memorize everything she was doing. I would watch her cook, then run over to my room to write down what she was doing, then back to the kitchen so I wouldn’t miss the next steps. My notes are… helpful, but definitely express my flustered state. Here’s my attempt at one of Rosa’s specialties, Croquettas.

You may already be familiar with Tapas, but I will explain what they are anyways. I honestly am not extremely familiar with them, so I apologize if my description is a little off. To my understanding, Tapas are little dishes that are served in Spain, often times with drinks, but also can be just as a snack. Simple marinated olives are common and often complimentary in bars, but tapas dishes range from Potatoes with Sauce to Fish Salads to much more complicated things that do not come to mind at the moment. These Croquettas are a wonderful Tapa; lightly fried and crispy on the outside while soft on the inside. This recipe makes a pretty large amount, so you can freeze them after breading and save them for a light dinner with salad. Or use them as an easy appetizer when you have company over. Or not save any at all and eat them all at once. It’s up to you. I don’t judge.

Rosa’s Croquettas

3 lb Chicken, quartered, or Chicken Pieces

1 to 2 lb Beef, some tender cut unless you want to cook it for hours

2 Large Tomatoes, quartered

2 Sweet Onions, quartered

2 to 4 Bay Leaves

4 to 6 Garlic Cloves, smashed

White Wine, or substitute*

3 tbsp Flour

3 tbsp Olive Oil

About 1 cup Milk

Salt and Pepper, to taste

3 Eggs, Beaten

Breadcrumbs

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First, cook the meat for the Croquettas: You will need two pots, one for the Chicken and one for the Beef. In each pot, over high heat, heat enough oil to coat the bottom. Add the Meat and let it cook on one side for 30 sec. to a minute before flipping and repeating on the other side. Remove from heat and add to each pot: 1 Quartered Tomato, 1 Quartered Onion, 1 to 2 Bay Leaves, 2 to 3 Garlic Cloves, and Salt and Pepper to taste. Return both pots to low heat. Once some liquid has formed on the bottom of the pots, add a generous splash of Wine. Return to a simmer and cover over low heat, until the Meat is cooked through and tender (for the Chicken, this will probably take 30 to 45 minutes. Depending on the Beef you use, it could take anywhere from 45 minutes to 2 hours). Shake the pot occasionally to make sure nothing sticks to the bottom.

While the meat is cooking, make the Béchamel Sauce: In a saucepan, make a roux of the Flour and Olive Oil: Heat the Oil in the pan and add the Flour, stirring and making sure that the flour does not burn. Slowly add the Milk while stirring, making sure that there are no lumps of flour. Continue to cook for a minute or so, you want the mixture to have the consistency of a thick chowder. Mix in the Black Pepper, and Salt if you would like. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.

Once the Meat is cooked, remove the meat and onions from the pot and transfer to a bowl to cool. You may keep the sauce for a later use, or discard. It will not be needed in making these Croquettas. Once cooled, remove the Chicken meat from the bones and discard the bones. In a blender or food processor, puree the beef, chicken, and onions together.

Form the Croquettas: with one or two spoons, make the shape of the Croquetta with 2 to 3 tablespoons of the meat mixture. Then coat with the Beaten Eggs and then with the Bread Crumbs. Set aside on a plate, and repeat until all of the mixture is used. At this point, you can freeze them if you’d like.

To cook the Croquettas, generously coat a pan in Oil. When the oil is heated, add the Croquettas and cook for a minute or so on each side, until golden brown and crispy. Transfer them carefully to drain on paper towels before serving.

Polish Mushroom Soup

I love mushrooms. I think I always have, although that’s probably not true because – believe it or not – I was once a very picky eater. I remember the days when my favored and most often consumed meal was hot water mixed with rice and I was unwilling to try anything else to go along with it.

Oh, the far-away days of young childhood. Sliding down the stairs on pillows, concocting “delicious dog food” with my cousin… tricking the neighbor into trying such experimets… the good old days.

But I’ve come so far, especially in terms of what I’ll eat. And what wonderful things I’ve discovered! Like mushrooms (although the more I think about it, the more I’m certain that I’ve always loved mushrooms). Mushrooms are great – I don’t remember ever eating them in something that I don’t like*, and this soup is no exception. In fact, this soup is fantastic! I made it with my grandpa, Jaja, in yet another Polish-cooking trial. Lemme tell ya, them Poles know how to eat.

*Although admittedly I actually don’t really care for them too much raw. EAK loves them that way though. Once I showed up at her house to find her laying on her front lawn poppin mushrooms straight from the little blue styrofoam container like they were somethin else

Little Mushroom Pierogi. I still prefer them pan-fried, but they were tasty in the soup too. Unfortunately these were not homemade, but that doesn’t meant that they won’t be in the future.

Polish Mushroom Soup

5 to 6 Ounces Dried Mushrooms, such as Polish Borowik or Cépes

12 Large Shiitake Mushrooms

3 Quarts Beef Stock, preferably homemade

5 Medium Ribs of Celery, chopped

2 Large Onions, sliced

5 Carrots, chopped

1 Pound Small Portabella Mushrooms, sliced

2 Tbsp Unsalted Butter

2 Tbsp Flour

1 Cup Sour Cream

2 Tbsp Parsley, finely chopped

2 Tbsp Dill, finely chopped

Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper

1 Cup Orzo or other pasta (or mini mushroom Pierogi)

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Rinse the Dried Mushrooms. Place them in 2 Cups cold water and soak for at least 4 hours or overnight. Strain the dried mushrooms, reserving the soaking liquid.

Sauté the Celery, Onions, and Carrots in a little butter until soft. Set aside.

In a large pot, bring the Beef Stock to a simmer ad add the cooked vegetables. Add the strained mushroom soaking liquid to the pot. Chop the hydrated mushrooms into 1/4 inch pieces slightly larger than the cooked vegetables and add them to the pot along with the sliced Fresh Portabellas.

Cover and cook the soup about an hour. Bring the soup to a boil and add the Pasta, stirring constantly (if using Pierogi, you may cook them ahead of time and set them aside, skipping this pasta cooking step). Reduce the heat to a gentle boil and stir occasionally until the pasta is cooked through, about 6 to 8 minutes longer.

Meanwhile, make a roux. Melt the 2 Tbsp Butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the Flour and cook, stirring constantly until smooth, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove 1 cup of the broth from the pot and add to the roux, whisking constantly until slightly thickened and free of lumps. Stir the thickened liquid into the soup. Add the Parsley and Dill to the pot as well.

Finish the soup with the Sour Cream: First, add 1/4 cup thickened soup to the sour cream. Whisk until smooth, then add the sour cream to the soup, whisking constantly until it is well incorporated, about 3 minutes. Season to taste with the Salt and Pepper.