Wednesday, July 28, 2010

A Couple of Fish and More

Today I made a trip to the farmers market held in Wahiawa on Tuesdays. I had been once before, and was surprised to find fish for sale. Today I went back looking to buy some fish, thinking I could figure out what do do with it when I got home.

Here is the fish I got:

It is called Akule. When I bought it, it had all the signs of being fresh: nearly no fishy smell, shiny skin, and eyes that domed out. The trickiest part to me was that it was whole, so I was going to have to clean it.

I also picked up some fresh veggies, can never have too much of those.  Zucchini, grape tomatoes, green beans, and baby shallots.  The shallots were something new, and they smell great.  The guy at the stall told me they'd be good in omelets.  I'm thinking I'll throw some in with a chicken I want to roast later this week.

The state of the akule just before getting cooked.  My original plan was to butterfly the fish and pan fry it, but turns out a not-so-sharp utility knife is no match for cleanly cutting a fish from the bones.  So I ended up filleting the fish, and then broiling them.  Next time I will find a fillet knife before attempting whole, raw fish.

Dinner complete!  I sprinkled some lemon juice on the fish about 10 minutes before cooking, and then sprinkled on some Jane S Krazy Mixed Up Salt right before putting it in the oven to broil for about 10 minutes.  The fish was awesome.  Green beans and rice-a-roni rounded out the meal.

Of course, no meal is complete without dessert! We had a bunch of whole mangos in the freezer, so I made them into mango sorbet. A little on the sweet side, but a great finish. Yum.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Book Acquired

Yesterday I finally got a book that has been thumbed through on every visit to Borders:

Forgotten Skills of Cooking. It is a great book, even just looking at the pictures makes me want to get in the kitchen and put something together.  I think tomorrow will be my first try with this new book.  I intend to head to the farmer's market held in my town on Tuesday mornings, where they sell fresh, whole fish.  The fish section in this book goes over how to gut a fish, how to cut the head off, and how to fillet.  It also has several suggestions for cooking a fish, based on the type of fish you have.  One thing that impresses me is that the fish recipes don't call only for one type of fish, as my other cookbooks do.  Instead each recipe has a description of the type of fish it calls for, along with suggestions in case that exact type of fish is not available.  This cookbook looks less like a chemistry experiment written up with exact details and more like a general idea of what to throw together so I get something that may or may not be replicated the next time.  I like that kind of cooking.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Ice Cream Success!

Last night there was finally enough ice cream gone from the first two batches, so I got to make a couple more. Turns out that even though the freezer was below freezing in temperature, minus another 20 degrees makes a huge difference. This time I got ice cream, instead of milk shakes.  The first I made was peanut butter ice cream with chopped peanut butter cups mixed in.

Notice how it mounds on the spoon.  And it was only in the ice cream maker for 15 minutes.

In the bowl, straight from the ice cream maker.  A bit softer than regular ice cream, but more firmness than soft serve.  Which led me to wonder, what if I leave it in there longer next time?

The second batch was cheesecake ice cream.  The mixture going in tasted like cream cheese frosting.  The ice cream that came out was even better.  For this batch, I only let the machine run for 10 minutes before turning it off.  It was pretty firm, and it was starting to sound like the machine was working harder than it has before.  The mixture was pretty thick going in though, so I expected it to go faster than the milk based ice cream.

Last time I made ice cream, the freezer container was completely liquid by the time I turned off the machine.  This time, it was still mostly frozen.  In fact, when I went to wash out the second freezer container, the water froze to the inside.  I had to wait a little bit to make it easer to wash out.

For the cheesecake ice cream I followed what was in the book.  For the peanut butter though I experimented.  For one, I didn't have any heavy cream.  Second, I didn't have enough dairy milk either.  So I made some changes, using up the rest of the whole milk I had on hand, and finishing off the recipe with soymilk.  Soymilk is good; it doesn't give Doug a bellyache.  The sugar was too much, and I would have enjoyed more peanut butter.  Changes for next time.  And now that I know the basic proportions, I'll take more liberties with "following" recipes.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

The First... Milkshake?!

I had everything washed and ready.  Freezer tubs had been in the freezer over night.  The ice cream and frozen yogurt bases had been sitting in the fridge for over an hour to make sure they were cold to start with.  I got everything set up, poured in the chocolate ice cream mix and waited.  My directions said it would take less than 20 minutes.  They also said to put in the mix-ins 5 minutes prior to the recipe being done.  So at 15 minutes I added the chocolate and mint chips.

And at 20 minutes, I had something the consistency of a milkshake.  It wasn't even firm enough to call it soft-serve ice cream.  Hoping I had just done something wrong with the recipe, I poured it into a freezer safe container, got everything clean and ready to go again, and then poured in the mango frozen yogurt mix.  20 minutes of swirling around in the ice cream maker resulted in another milkshake concoction.

Which got me to thinking.  When we bring ice cream straight home, and eat a little before it ends up in the freezer, it is always firmer brought home from the store than the next day out of our freezer.  In fact, ice cream that has been stored in our freezer here is always easy to serve.  It is never rock hard like ice cream from other freezers I have used.  And the directions for the ice cream maker said the freezer needed to be at least as cold as 0 degrees.  So off to the store for a freezer thermometer.

Back home with the thermometer in the freezer revealed that the freezer was NOT cold enough.  So I turned it down.  All the way down.  And now this morning it is about 0 degrees in there, and my homemade frozen treats are finally frozen rock hard.

We still enjoyed some homemade ice cream last night though, even if it was still a little soft (after nearly 6 hours in the freezer, but before I turned it down):

Chocolate ice cream with chocolate and mint chips mixed in.
It sure was tasty!

Friday, July 9, 2010

Ice Cream!

Well, none to eat yet.  But tomorrow starts the ice cream adventures, because I got an ice cream maker today!  For Christmas I received a rather nice gift card for Williams-Sonoma, and today I finally put it to use.

I actually decided on the purchase yesterday, but since we had arrived at the mall on the motorcycle, I couldn't make it mine.  Today I made Doug take me back, with gift card in hand.  First order of business once we got home: wash all the pieces and make room in the freezer.  Now both freezer bowls (that's right, it came with two) are in the freezer, and I am waiting rather impatiently for them to hurry up and freeze.

A Minor Modification

For over a month now, I've been looking longingly at my half used bag of Cocoa Dyno-Bites wanting to make rice krispy treats with them.  Finally last night I gave in.  There was only one small problem though: I don't have a 9X13 pan.  Just some casserole dishes a couple of cookie sheets.  I do happen to have a muffin pan that makes zoo animal muffins.  And I thought that would make great shaped treats.

Boy was I wrong.  That led to one big sticky mess.  It also led to the marshmallow goo becoming slightly caramelized, because the whole mixture had to sit in a 9-ply stainless steel pot while I looked for something to hurry-quick-get-this-stuff-out-of-the-pan option.  And then I saw the new (to me) dish I had bought the other day at the thrift store: a nice vintage Pyrex dish.  Before I could remember to spray the dish (because I was getting flustered over the smell of browning marshmallow goo) I started scooping it in.

And now we have really tall, caramelized chocolate crispy treats that are slightly stuck to the pan.  And proof that I can hold off on acquiring a 9X13 pan for a little longer.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Adding to the Kitchen Library

Forgotten Skills of Cooking: The Time-Honored Ways are the Best - Over 700 Recipes Show You Why
Through some random internet searching, I found two books that I am now trying really hard to talk myself out of buying.  The first is Forgotten Skills of Cooking.  I've been to Borders twice to look at the book.  Some of the recipes list only ingredients, with no measurements.  Most recipes list ingredients that are easy to find, or that I probably already have on hand. 

The Lost Art of Real Cooking: Rediscovering the Pleasures of Traditional Food One Recipe at a TimeThe other book I'd really like to get my hands on is similar: The Lost Art of Real Cooking.  I found out about the book before it was released.  The day it was released, I went back to my local Borders to see if they had it.  They didn't.  Neither did any other Borders on the island.  Doug called around for me to all the other stores we could think of that might carry this particular cookbook.  Only one store had a copy.  And it was already on hold for another customer.  Boo.

A Really Small Kitchen

Long before we ever moved into our own place, Doug and I talked about what we would want for our ideal home. He wants a garage for his motorcycle. I want a huge kitchen. Paying rent in Hawaii means that these things we want have to be altered to fit our budget: covered parking for Doug's bike and a kitchen that I don't have to share with roommates. So though the kitchen is used only by the two of us, it is a teeny tiny kitchen.

When we moved in, this was the kitchen in its entirety:

The fridge (for which you can only see the handle) ended the kitchen space. There is nothing but a wall opposite the the sink/stove/fridge side of the kitchen. Though it is hard to see in the picture, the cabinet space above the sink is actually quite high, and since I cannot reach very high, the space is not all that usable. Good thing the stove top is flat, so I can use it as additional counter space.

Since I do enjoy cooking, the provided cabinet space was, well, not enough. Just the basic pots, pans, and dishes take up half the space. The other half I filled with spices and such; the things I use most while cooking. This left other food lined up against the wall in shopping bags, until I found a pantry solution:

Someday I hope to have a bigger kitchen. But for now this is a major improvement when compared to roommates who have different cooking/cleaning ideas in the kitchen.