Thursday, July 30, 2009

Craig Cooks Pad Thai

Ladies and gentlemen, we have our first dinner fail. I know Craig would say Sausage and Beans was, but I disagree. You see, we ate the sausage and beans - on Pad Thai Night we ordered pizza.

It all started out well enough. I was working late, Craig was chopping up peanuts.

He was measuring things out and refilling the bean sprouts bowl after he munched a few too many.

I got home and eggs got a crackin'.

This is where it starting going off the rails a little. You see our closest grocery store is a Sobey's Urban Fresh store. This means a lot of times they don't have exactly what we're looking for. Such was the case with our noodles. The recipe said to soak them for 15 minutes, but since they weren't the right kind they were still quite.... stiff at that point.

The recipe also said to turn the heat up to high and dump in some garlic. We weren't using the shrimp it called for so that garlic pretty much instantly burned. That's me getting rid of the evidence.

Did I mention Craig accidentally bought flavoured tofu? Luckily it wasn't anything weird, like peach flavoured - just herb.

Doesn't that look totally awesome?

All those black bits you see? Burnt garlic. But it was actually just the uncooked noodles that made it inedible.

I think I'm going to get the right ingredients one day and we'll attempt this again.

Adapted from How to Cook Everything:

Pad Thai

Makes 4 servings
Time: 30 minutes

12 ounces dried flat rice noodles, 1/4 inch thick

5 tablespoons peanut or neutral oil, like grapeseed or corn

3 eggs, lightly beaten

4 garlic cloves, minced

4 ounces small shrimp, peeled

4 ounces pressed tofu, or extra-firm tofu, blotted dry, sliced

2 scallions, cut into 1-inch lengths

1 cup bean sprouts, rinsed and trimmed

2 tablespoons nam pla (Thai fish sauce)

2 teaspoons tamarind paste or ketchup

2 teaspoons sugar

1/4 cup chopped peanuts

1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves

2 small fresh green chiles, preferably Thai, seeded and sliced (optional)

1 lime, cut into wedges

1. Put the noodles in a bowl and pour boiling water over them to cover. Soak until softened, at least 15 minutes; if you want to hold them a little longer, drain them, fill the bowl with cold water, and return the noodles to the bowl.

2. Put 2 tablespoons of the oil in large skillet over medium heat. When hot, add the eggs and scramble quickly for the first minute or so with a fork almost flat against the bottom of the pan; you're aiming for a thin egg crêpe of sorts, one with the smallest curd you can achieve. Cook just until set and transfer the crêpe to a cutting board. Cut into 1/4-inch strips and set aside.

3. Raise the heat to high and add the remaining oil. When hot, add the garlic and shrimp and cook, stirring occasionally, until the shrimp lose their raw gray color, about 2 minutes. Remove from the pan with a slotted spoon and transfer to a plate next to the stove. Add the tofu, scallions, and half of the bean sprouts to the pan and cook, stirring occasionally, for 3 minutes. Transfer with a slotted spoon to the plate with the shrimp.

4. Put the drained noodles, eggs, nam pla, tamarind, and sugar in the pan and cook, stirring occasionally, until the noodles are heated through, then add the stir-fried tofu mixture. Toss once or twice and transfer the contents of the pan to a serving platter. Top with the peanuts, cilantro, chiles, and remaining bean sprouts. Serve with the lime wedges.

Vegetarian Pad Thai.

Omit the shrimp and increase the tofu to 8 ounces. Substitute soy sauce for the fish sauce.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Craig Cooks Fish Tacos

Anything that involves jalapenos is okay by me. Honestly, I've never made fish tacos before, only ever ordered them in restaurants. Craig tends to order red meat when we go out since I don't cook it at home, so I don't think he's ever had them. I was surprised at the amount of people who had never even heard of fish tacos before.

This week Craig practiced much safer chopping skills. Look at that with the fingers tucked and everything. I'm happy to say the splint is gone and there's barely a mark left from the Great Knife Incident of '09.

When I first saw that you just threw the onions, jalapenos and fish into the pan with a tablespoon of water I was concerned that we would end up with one giant stuck to the pan mess. I guess I don't know so much about cooking then because it wasn't even close to sticking.

Yummy tortillas and salsa from Culinarium.

Pretending to be happy about cooking.

Condiments. Really quite needed since the fish is kind of bland. I found the inclusion of cucumbers weird, but I was wrong, they totally made the taco.

They were messy, as tacos often are - but delicious. The salsa was amazing and the fish was soft and moist. We could have used more and/or larger tortillas, but otherwise perfect.

Adapted from "Fish Tacos" - New York Times

Fish Tacos

Yield 4 servings

Time 20 minutes

  • 1 medium onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 jalapeño, stemmed and roughly chopped
  • 1 1/2 pounds cod or other thick white-fleshed fish fillet
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 12 6-inch corn tortillas, or 8 12-inch corn or flour tortillas
  • Fresh salsa
  • Hot sauce or chili paste (optional)
  • Sour cream or grated cheese (optional)
  • Chopped lettuce, tomatoes, cucumber and cilantro sprigs (optional)
  • Lime wedges
  • 1. Put onion and jalapenos in nonstick skillet. Add 1 tablespoon water and the fish; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cover and place over medium heat. Cook about 6 minutes, or until the fish is done.
  • 2. While the fish cooks, heat the tortillas. Toast them in a skillet, one at a time, over medium heat, flipping once or twice until hot, a minute or so. Or heat in a microwave, a half a dozen at a time wrapped in a slightly damp towel, for about a minute.
  • 3. To serve, put a portion of the fish along with a bit of the onion and jalapeno in a warm tortilla. Top with salsa, hot sauce, cheese or sour cream and vegetables. Squeeze lime juice over all. Repeat with remaining tortillas.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009


I've never heard of ka'kat before this week's Baking Beauties assignment. Unlike some folks thought, this was not something a cat coughed up. According to Julia this is an Eastern Mediterranean street food, much like a soft pretzel.

There's something lovely about this packaging:

I think it's the word "traditional" on there... twice.

Have I mentioned how much I love my prep bowls? It means that I don't have piles of crap laying on every surface while I try to find my measuring spoons for the 756th time.

Julia is nothing if not specific in her directions. My favourite? "Stirring in one direction with a wooden spoon, add 2 to 3 cups of flour, a cup at a time, mixing until incorporated."

She seriously just told me what kind of spoon to use and to only go in one direction. For about 100 strokes. I like that because then if I fuck up, I blame Julia Child personally for not telling me that it should have been 110 strokes.

After all that stirring, we had the first rise. Which I got to punch. Awesome.

Now comes the part where I have to cut it into 32, that's right THIRTY TWO, pieces. Roll out each piece into a rope 6 - 7 inches long and make a circle:

That dough scraper thingy is coming in handy. Not only does it scrape dough (which is excellent all by itself), it is exactly six inches long.

There were two baking sheets that looked like this:

There was a brief second rise and then all this glorious Ka'kat goodness

I liked them, but they weren't totally fantastic. I basically ate them like a dinner roll. I didn't add the mahleb as it said it was optional and I had no idea what it was. Perhaps that would have elevated from tiny bagel like thing to something incredibly popular on the streets of Lebanon.

Tina's posted the recipe here.

Craig Cooks Thai Coconut Soup with Chicken

Mmmmm... Thai. I love Thai food. It's probably the main thing keeping me in Toronto. You can't get good Thai in the 'burbs.

Once again this recipe required a lot of chopping. I think I need to start picking recipes that will stretch his skills a little past chopping and throwing stuff together in a pan or pot. Although that is about 90% of the cooking I perform as well.

We may have overestimated the size of pot needed.
Craig concentrating on the chopping. More on that later.

I should mention, he hates mushrooms.

Chop, chop, chop, nom, nom, nom.

Chicken waiting to be dumped in the giant pot.

Ginger, lemongrass, chile peppers, all removed from the giant pot after simmering for a while.Craig pouring fish sauce in giant pot.

gSaid Giant pot bubbling away.

Craig pouring lime juice into giant pot.

Mostly I just thought this picture looked gross. Like worms or something.

Oh my god.

I love this soup. It tastes almost exactly like my favourite soup at Lime, but without all that laborious walking across the street to get to that restaurant. That's valuable time that could be spent eating more soup.

Now, about all that chopping:

Turns out practice does not make perfect. This sucker bled for over 24 hours until we resorted to this ridiculousness. Craig promises to be more careful around sharp knives in the future. We'll see when we resume with Craig's adventures in chopping.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Craig Cooks Curried Eggplant & Potato

Last week Craig made Curried Eggplant & Potatoes. I'm not sure all that much was learned this week, since things were basically just chopped and thrown in a saucepan.

He is getting pretty good at that chopping though. I think this was the first time he'd ever touched an eggplant with his hands.

All thrown into a saucepan as I said:

Then you had to cook it until the potatoes were soft. Craig brought me a couple of spoonfuls every once in a while. Though he did admit that he really wasn't sure what was potato anymore.

Craig plating.
This tasted pretty fantastic. Not curry in the traditional sense, as there was no actual curry added. In the end I'm glad we didn't make the rice to go with it as it was plenty filling by itself.