Monday, May 3, 2010

Win some, lose some

I've been having both successes and failures in the kitchen lately. Let's start with a big success:

Chicken Lo Mein. I really don't know how authentic it was, but it was super tasty, so, good enough for my purposes. The basic recipe I followed was here , but I didn't have any hoisin sauce, so I used this recipe , minus the hot sauce, and substituted rice vinegar for white wine vinegar. Then, I realized that the sauce in the original recipe was most of the stuff I used in the hoisin sauce, so I left out the extra sesame oil and soy sauce (in the original recipe) and used all of the homemade hoisin sauce recipe as the sauce (still adding the chicken broth and cornstarch). Does that make any sense? Basically, I made a yummy sauce with a bunch of Asian-ish ingredients and then followed the cooking method set out in the original recipe. It totally worked, but next time I'll use more vegetables. This time I only used carrots, broccoli, onion and frozen peas because that's what I had in the fridge/freezer.

I would highly recommend this dish. I know I'll be making it again soon. Curtis loved it and it was just as good the next day as leftovers.

Next on my list...a moderate success. I wanted to try my hand at petit fours, which I have never made before, so I decided that was the cake we would have to celebrate Betty's birthday.

The success was the two kinds of cake I used for the petit fours, the big failure was the white chocolate ganache. Frickin' Martha Stewart. She makes everything look so easy. After spending two full days making an orange genoise cake (sponge cake, basically) that I filled with some Fluff frosting (I'll post that awesome recipe sometime) and an almond paste cake (both of those cakes involved multiple bowls, beaten egg whites, etc.), my heart sunk when I poured the white chocolate ganache over the cakes and watched the cakes just soak it up rather that forming a beautiful coating, like in the Martha Stewart cookbook photo.

After that big disappointment, I was pleased to realize that, uncool as they looked, they still tasted good really good, so I decorated them up with some frosting, some with the ganache and some not. They looked cute enough at that point that I didn't have to run to the grocery store and get some shortening-frosting monstrocity for a cake for Betty. If anyone cares for the cake recipes, let me know.

Another mixed success - pita bread. Here's the recipe:

Some puffed up beautifully, some only puffed up in places, some were sort of cracker-like. I think I figured out what I did wrong and plan to give it another shot soon.

The kids liked watching them puff up in the oven. It's really cool when it works properly. They also loved eating the warm pitas with butter or hummus, even the failed ones.

This was a pretty good one, after it deflated a little.

I had made the pita bread in anticipation of having great homemade falafel sandwiches - a sort of practice pita. I made the falafel the next day but didn't feel like making the pita again and just used store bought pita. Not as good, but lots easier!

Acting on a hot tip from my soon-to-be-sister-in-law Jenni, I made the falafel in a waffle iron instead of frying them in oil. In addition to it being healthier, it was way easier than frying them and then my whole house didn't have that fried food smell for two days. I'm sold on the waffle iron idea. I even made my own falafel instead of using a mix. It was a lot easier than I thought it would be. I got the recipe here . Make sure to make the yogurt sauce. I also put some cumin, salt and pepper in. Loved it.

The falafel waffle looks really green in this photo. It sort of was...I put a ton of parsley in it.

And, lest you all think I'm cooking such involved meals every night, Curtis and the kids are eating fish sticks, french fries and broccoli tonight while I'm at Weight Watchers. It's just like that sometimes.


Our little family said...

Okay, I think you need to post the pita bread recipe, and how you made the falafel, because all I can picture is chick pea waffles. I'm not seeing how you made falafel with a waffle iron! But it sounds easy. And yummy. I haven't been brave enough to tackle falafel yet because of the frying factor.

Libby said...

Abbey, are you going to freeze the little cakes for Betty's b'day and bring them up on the weekend? I hope so, that way I get to eat some! And the other things look and sound good too. I'm so glad you're a good cook! I sure do benefit from that.