Tuesday, December 30, 2008

More Cookie Press Update

So the saga has come to an end - of sorts. Those following the William Sanoma Cookie Press story know that the scene took a turn (for the better? for the worse? it's unclear) a few weeks ago when I re-tried the WSCP and failed.

This weekend, while spending some time with family in New York (and a day of double Chinese food - how awesome is that?!) I spent a morning asking sort-of-grandma to try the WSCP with me to see if it was me or the press. Turns out, it's the press. The top (bottom? wherever you insert the plates to get the cute shapes) doesn't screw on and therefore the cookie doesn't press out. For the meantime, she lent me her CP (from HER mother, my sort-of-great-grandma) and I will impress everyone with my presses. And look into purchasing a new and better CP. Any ideas?

Monday, December 29, 2008

Whose Wii Remote Reigns Supreme?

The Sherbs and I picked up the Iron Chef video game for the Wii at Best Buy, and found it a lot of fun, although also a lot like cooking.

The game, in essence, is going through all the tasks of cooking the necessary dishes. Each particular type of food based on the secret ingredient (eggplant in pita! Carrot gyoza!) has a number of steps required to complete it, such as chopping, grating, running a stand mixer, or boiling a pot. Each step is turned into a 90-second mini-game where one tries to accomplish the task. Chopping and slicing are easy; boiling and grilling are tough.

So, should one pick four dishes, each with six tasks, one then must complete twenty-four cooking tasks, many of them chopping, slicing, or grating. The music, sadly, is a tad repetitive, as are the Chairman's repeated exhortations of the tasks' name (even with two different enunciations) and Alton Brown's Madden-like inanities (e.g., "John Madden’s inane and often insane ramblings are extremely tedious, and it seems as though he and his fellow commentator have a vocabulary of around 30 phrases which they just spout out sporadically and sometimes inappropriately") . Despite all this, The Sherbs and I had fun as a team of chefs against the computer, where we could switch off between grating and boiling tasks.

Is Iron Chef worth what we paid? We'll see how much fun we get out of it. Since the controls are easier than Cooking Mama (I still can't crack an egg in that game), I'm saying yes for now.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Food News Roundup!

1) Tribe and Sabra want every American to eat hummus. I'm game.

2) They still do not sell chive Bagel-fuls™ at The Teet.

3) They now make Splenda with fiber. I had some in my eggnog-flavored tea (which the box says is kosher dairy) this morning. I do not yet regret doing so.

4) La Tasca is not as good as Spain. Especially the patatas bravas, but also the paella. The cheese plate's good, though.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

We want you! We want you!

Recently, one of my favorite political bloggers mentioned a foodstuff I'd never heard of: bean pie.

The country group Alabama had made me aware of sweet potato pie (and its silencing qualities); I had heard of rhubarb pie from Sesame Street (and then subsequently warned off of it by my rhubarb-skeptical parents, as well as Jack Nicholson); I am even familiar with shoo-fly pie (although, honestly, just from the song, and without Google I wouldn't know what the companion food was).

But back to bean pie. According to what appears to be the Nation of Islam's recipe (no, I am not kidding), bean pie is navy beans pureed with enough traditional piestuffs (condensed milk, vanilla, nutmeg, butter) that the beans cease to be vegetable and become merely starch for a pie filling. In theory, I think I approve.

A blogger who tried a packaged version said they tasted better than OK. Personally, if I were to have a bean pie, I'd make one. We do have a lot of navy beans lying around that we have no use for, so I wouldn't even need the commercially available bean pie mix.

Now, the real question is whether I make my own pie crust, or let Keebler do the low-fat cooking?

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Return of the Cookie Press

Some people may remember my desire for, receiving of, and then trials and tribulations of the William Sanoma Cookie Press.

After last summer's debacle, I was talking to a friend of The Pedant (and an avid cookie baker) who suggested trying to make cookie press cookies in the winter (less humidity) and storing them in the fridge overnight (also good for any cookie). So, I decided to try them. Some friends were coming over, I could make Christmas Tree and Santa cookies (it is December, the longest holiday season ever) and I acquired some extras: a stand mixer, extra inserts from Sort-of-Grandma (who had extras), a different recipe (complete with MORE butter), and more time.

Turns out, I am in a fight with the WSCP. Again.

It just didn't work - nothing stuck to the cookie sheet. The recipe suggested adding 2 tablespoons of flour if the dough is too soft. Didn't work. I was pretty pissed. I wanted to press cookies but nothing! I called SOG, told her I was coming up for a visit and bring the devil that is the WSCP. We will attempt to make cookies together. If it doesn't work (she's been instructed to bring her cookie press as a back up), I will be throwing out the WSCP, saying good riddance and maybe buying a piping bag for a new recipe.

More Food Successes

First, I had a fascinating experiment with a Ziploc Zip n' Steam™ bag, one of the things the Sherbs and I have to turn frozen vegetables into edible food when we are lazy. The bag says "add frozen vegetables and seasoning," but we'd never actually added any seasoning.

So this time, I threw in with some butter peas some garlic powder, pareve "chicken" consomme, and some Teet brand dijon mustard. After six minutes, it was significantly improved, although I think it was mostly the dijon mustard.

Second, last night we made onion soup, and a lot of it. We sauteed approximately four pounds of yellow onions in a Le Creuset dutch oven, then added "beef" stock, dry sherry, and let it simmer for a while. We didn't add as much fake beef as usual, and I think that made the onion taste more heightened.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Girl, I want to take you to a wine bar! Wine bar! Wine bar! Wine bar!

Let's start a war! (thing I'm babbling about in link, sound necessary)

The Sherbs and I had a "date night" last night, and for the food portion of the evening, we went to Vinoteca, a super-trendy "wine bar" on U street in DC. Our server, Lauren, was a more than capable sommelier; we started by expressing some indecision about which wine assortments to order, and she ably picked a selection of whites for the Sherbs and pinot noirs for me that were really tasty.

Vinoteca doesn't do tapas, exactly; they do, however, make small plates of things that are mostly not Spanish. I ate, in whole or part:
  • their tray of sheep cheeses - you cannot go wrong with a semi-hard sheep's milk cheese,
  • their portobello mushroom "sliders" - cute tiny burgers with little mushrooms in a very tasty white miso/tahini sauce,
  • bow tie pasta in a sauce that was just cream and butter, with sliced truffle on top and micro-greens on the bottom. I love micro greens. They are so cute. The dish itself was "oh god this is killing me through salt, fat AND cholesterol" delicious.
  • an apple tart lightly cooked in a lattice of puff pastry and not too sweet - mostly natural apple flavor with a hint of cinnamon. The sweetness came from the calvados sabayon, which was basically faultless.
I also drank a pretty good malbec and a fabulous Pedro Ximinez sherry. Then the Sherbs and I realized that, after two hours of really drinking and eating, we still had plenty of time before the show (darn discount tickets!). So we spent some time wandering and digesting, which was probably for the best.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008


Do not buy Dannon's "Frusion" line of yogurt drinks. Let me enumerate the reasons:

1) They aren't particularly tasty. They aren't as good as the smoothies I make with real fruit and Splenda.

2) They aren't particularly healthy. Check out their nutritional information. Two grams saturated fat, most of the carbs are sugars, and they couldn't even bother to throw in 300% of your day's supply of Vitamin C (also, no selenium. WTF? If you're going to put it on the label, have some in the beverage). Why Dannon couldn't put in more vitamins or fiber is beyond me.

3) They're not very big. Maybe some anorexic woman will be filled by the 7-10 oz. bottles Dannon packs Frusion in, but it's not that filling for me, and I assume, what with the protein and the fat, it's supposed to be a meal replacement.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

My Couscous Goddess

The Sherbs makes a mean couscous.

To get rid of some of the way too many preserved lemons we made in our frenzy for a dish with preserved lemons, last night The Sherbs made a really tasty couscous with the lemons, olives, and some onion from Mark Bittman's vegetarian cookbook. I am eating it for lunch right now and it is just as good.