2009 In Review: The Recipes
Once we moved from the nightmare mold house, about a year ago, we needed to really watch money so my cooking became even more important. I intended to be as cost-efficient as possible while still serving really delicious food so we wouldn’t feel the least bit deprived.
Overall, I’ve done a pretty good job. Dinner is still a struggle because Terri’s tummy has some issues (another CFS side effect) but we’ve found that if we make a weekly menu, it helps her to anticipate what’s coming, and things seem to go better. Also, making a menu means very efficient shopping and cooking. We’ve fallen out of the practice in the past couple months but we’re all geared up for the new year, making a couple two-week menus that will simply rotate. Also, Terri is branching out and will be making dinner once a week, probably in the crock pot. So that’s exciting! (I made a simple reference site for her — feel free to use it, yourself!)
Anyway. So here are a few favorite recipes and dinner ideas from the past year.
We really like thin-crust pizza, but Terri doesn’t like very much cheese and we like it very crispy, which is hard to find, especially delivery (and as we know, hello, not cheap). I already had a pizza stone, which makes this really easy to create excellent crispy thin-crust pizza. I use this extremely easy home-made pizza dough recipe from Smitten Kitchen, which only takes a little advance planning and tastes great. I make a quick homemade pizza sauce by lightly simmering a small can of tomato sauce with Italian herbs and extra basil. Then I heat the oven with the stone in it. I roll the dough and then take out the hot stone, sprinkle cornmeal over it, and then lay the dough out on the hot stone. I spread a VERY thin layer of sauce over the dough (lightly painting it, really), and then a very thin sprinkling of cheese (usually a four-cheese blend, preshredded, which, if you make a ton of thin-crust pizzas and use very little cheese, is actually pretty cheap). Our favorite topping is thinly sliced red peppers and chopped Kalamata olives. Into the hot oven (about 450) for 10-15 minutes, until nice and crispy. This makes very yummy next-day snacking.
I’ve also always wanted to learn how to make good Indian food. I don’t have a recipe on-hand, but I do have a book recommendation. 660 Curries was a great book and my best friend just gave it to me for Christmas! This isn’t a vegetarian book but there are a TON of vegetarian recipes in here, and the four that I tried turned out great, very tasty and flavorful without being bland or too sharp, as most homemade Indian turns out. The secret is using fresh spices and sometimes grinding your own when it calls for it. If you can buy bulk spices, it’s very economical to buy fresh spices since you can just get a little bit. I’m going to continue trying out recipes and figure out what our favorites are.
Although I don’t really like fish, I love Japanese food (well, the stuff that doesn’t have fish in it). I especially love miso and udon soups. It took me a very long time, but I finally figured out how to make decent miso soup at home. It’s very simple, but you really have to have the dashi. It was surprisingly difficult to figure out how to make this at home. All the recipes I saw were like, “Oh, just add miso to hot water — ta da! Miso soup!” Not so. The simple recipe I figured out makes very yummy, quick, satisfying miso to which you can add very simple garnishes, or more substantial items for a heartier meal.
If you follow my blog at all, you’ll know that we like brownies here at our house. I went through a period of trying to find our perfect brownies. And then finally — there they were. Our Perfect Brownies (again I refer to Smitten Kitchen, whose recipes I really love). They’re adapted from Cook’s Illustrated Classic Brownies. I use regular flour with no problem, and I don’t add nuts to ours. They are really, really good.
The next year is going to bring lots more recipe development and fun with international comfort food. I’ve got an idea and I think I’m finally going to quit dithering and do something about it. And of course I’ll be blogging all about it!