Monday, November 28, 2011

Mushroom/Potato Frittata + Mushroom Melt

I've been sitting on this update for over a week now. I had the pictures ready, but I've had a lot going on lately, and sitting down to finish up the post itself never got to the top of my priority list until... well, right now.

So yeah, here we go! This is another cooking update, sort of a followup to the curry and rice post from a few weeks back. This time my Special Lady and I made a potato/shiitake mushroom frittata with portobello/broccoli melts.

Started off with chopping. Lots of chopping. Turns out I'm not half bad at it, crippling fear of cutting up my hands notwithstanding. (Though that happens enough accidentally already.)

All said, I chopped up five or six potatoes, several shiitake mushrooms, as well as spinach, parsley and basil for later.

We toss that in a big frying pan with some oil and garlic.

Next up was my least-favourite part of the process - whipping up egg whites into a froth. This took longer by hand than I expected. Would have been nice to have an electric mixer, but you know what they say about the result being more satisfying when you do it the hard way...?

That's right, it's a load of nonsense. Give me an electric mixer any day.

Meanwhile, she mixed up two full eggs with whole wheat flour, milk, baking power, sea salt and pepper.

When we were both finished each mixture, we added some spinach, parsley and basil, then I folded the egg whites into the whole eggs.

(And right now I'll admit that I had to Google-research how to fold properly beforehand, but somehow I... pulled it off!?)

The recipe called for a oven-proof skillet. But... I don't have one, so we used a casserole dish instead. (This caused a small hiccup later on.)

We evenly poured the egg mixture overtop of the potato/mushroom combo, and then covered it and let it bake in the oven.

While the frittata was baking, we started making the mushroom melts. More chopping, this time broccoli, and afterward slicing portobello mushrooms into strips.

We fried them for a while with oil and pesto.

Once the portobello and broccoli were done, we put together the sandwiches with mozzarella and put them in the oven.

Once we thought we were done, we took both out of the oven served them all up. However, this is where that little hiccup came up.

If you're at all familiar with frittatas (which apparently I was not), you'll instantly see what's wrong with them in the above picture. Frittatas are supposed to hold together, but ours didn't. I think this is because the recipe we were following called for an ovenproof skillet, and we used a larger casserole dish, so the baking time didn't get the job done. Thankfully, letting it bake a while longer solved this issue for us, but it was a decent learning experience.

Final verdict? Freaking delicious.

Hopefully there'll be another installment before too long.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Touch of Death

Woe! Utter woe! Cult favourite series (and best damn comedy on television) Community has been pulled from NBC's mid-season schedule, starting in January. Officially it's not cancelled, and NBC has stated that all 22 episodes this season will be completed and air. But it's not exactly reassuring.

It's not like my life revolves around what's on TV. I've got too much going on. I do have a small list of shows I watch regularly, but even then it's hard to keep up with them all the time. Community, though, I almost always watch live, because I'm too damn excited for each episode not to. And that's the thing - the show may not be getting huge ratings, but the fanbase is extremely passionate and devoted. The writing is some of the sharpest, funniest stuff out there right now and the cast is phenomenal across the board. In that way it makes me flash back to Arrested Development, another brilliant show that struggled in the ratings and failed to find a large audience for reasons I just can't understand.

I'm used to having my finger a bit removed from the pulse of the general public. It's not something I seek out, but it seems to happen pretty regularly; I like what I like, and what I like isn't always a massive hit. This isn't always the case -- I mean, it's not like Spider-Man, Back to the Future and the White Stripes are in any way obscure -- but I've fallen head over heels for a lot of series teetering on the brink of cancellation, and it almost feels sometimes like my love for something is essentially giving it the touch of death.

(Okay, I'm being dramatic. But it's a pattern!)

What's popular, on the other hand, I can't always (or even often) get into at all. Not that I haven't tried. I've watched about a dozen episodes of The Big Bang Theory, for example, which is a pretty massive hit. I don't think I've laughed once at it. I even get most of the geeky references, but its format just feels too safe and played-out and the characters all feel to me like the same "nerd" stereotypes that have been overused -- and used badly at that -- for the past 25 years or so. It doesn't feel fresh, it doesn't take risks, and that means it bores me.

But it's popular. Very popular. A lot of people love it. I may not dig it, but it's hard for me to claim it doesn't have value. A lot of people love American Idol and Two and a Half Men and the Twilight movies and the Black Eyed Peas and comics written by Jeph Loeb, too. Me, I really don't. And time was I might be inclined to judge those things and their audiences, but for whatever tongue-in-cheek jokes I may make about them, that's a time I've moved past. Those things are popular, they have large audiences of people who value them, and that's just fine. Ones' personal tastes and opinions aren't facts, and that's something I learn more every day.

So where am I going with this? I don't know, honestly. Maybe I'm feeling like I've got a family member in the hospital and I'm making peace with the idea that they might not pull through. (Okay, being dramatic again...) But until the prognosis comes in, I'm gonna keep watching my favourite show and I'm gonna hope that it comes back soon and strong, and if I'm lucky, even gets picked up for another year. I'm gonna keep telling people how great it is and hope that they start following it too. And if it does wind up being cancelled, I'm going to appreciate the years of entertainment the show, its cast and crew gave me, and feel good knowing that, like Arrested Development before it, it'll be fondly remembered and respected for a long time to come.

That said, now I'll end this on a video proving that the show was made just for me:

Monday, November 14, 2011

Spicy Business

I'm the first to admit that cooking isn't one of my specialties. Well, aside from traditional breakfast (egg dishes with sides), those I'm pretty good at. Otherwise I've made a few decent meals in my day, and I get by fine on my own, but I'm a damn far cry from a chef in training.

Recently my Special Lady had the idea to dive into the cook books (she has a number of clean eating books and I have a great-but-barely-used vegetarian recipe book) and have a regular cooking "date night" once a week. Which is just a really great idea. I've been on the self-improvement/try-new-things bandwagon for a while now, and knowing how to cook well is kind of important, so yeah, I'm all in.

(So I didn't get to go zip-lining over the summer, but it turns out novice cooking is far more terrifying.)

We've made vegetarian lasagna rolls a few times already (and they turned out great) but I didn't think to document the process until last night, when we made vegetable curry and rice.

First up, I finally put my cool little red rice cooker back to use after letting it sit idle for some time. Worked brilliantly! Very handy.

First up, the sauce mixture. Coconut milk, curry paste -- Maybe we can try homemade next time? For now I'm walking before I run. -- and oil.

(And of course, the most important ingredient is a full glass of wine on the side.)

We added vegetables bit by bit - bamboo shoots and baby corn for starters.

Muchrooms and spinach were next. And during this process I learned the most important lesson - don't ever underestimate how much pot space you'll need. We had to upgrade to a bigger pot a few times as we added more vegetables to the mix (as you can see from the medium pot sitting in the background) which slowed down the process a bit.

And there you have it! A little naan bread on the side (and a wine refill) and we're ready to go.

Turned out well, I think! A little curry paste goes a long way, apparently - she found it to be quite spicy. I found it pretty mild, but I think that's something I inherited from my dad.

I'll probably keep documenting these for a while, so expect another post like this in a week!