Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Breakfast Strata and Lentil Soup turned Lentil Curry

This morning I woke up hungry, a direct result of knowing what was in the refrigerator just waiting to be cooked. Per the cookbook's instructions I had left a bag of cornmeal on top of the wrapped breakfast strata in order to make sure the dry and crusty bread soaked up all the egg and half and half juicy goodness. Sure enough, there was a mess when I pulled it out of the fridge, but nothing that a few swipes of the sponge couldn't handle. It smelled lovely, and the only thing stopping me from digging straight in to the cheesy mess as the oven preheated was knowing there were uncooked eggs in there. Six of them, to be precise. But I waited, and was glad I did. An hour later I pulled this out beautiful thing of the oven.

It was a little moister than I'd like, as I'd forgotten to compensate for our oven temperature being off. (Next thing on the to-buy list is a cheap oven thermometer.) The half and half made it rich -- almost too rich. John suggested that next time we have something else with it to balance it out, perhaps biscuits and jam and veggie sausage. But the cheddar jack, combined with spinach and shallots, was simply delicious. This recipe is a keeper, and it will be fun to try out different combinations of ingredients. Already envisioning the next one with mushrooms and onions and Morningstar Farms breakfast sausage....

Dinner tonight was rushed as we were planning on going to a meeting for home brewers. As we surveyed the pantry and refrigerator John suggested using the last bit of the lentil soup and turning it into a curry. I was skeptical but had no better alternative. Then he decided he wanted to make naan as well, and if he was going to make naan then I felt obligated to make hummus. It's practically a staple in our house but we had been out for a week so I whipped together a batch in less than 10 minutes.

Let me take this opportunity to tell you that if you've never made your own hummus, you are missing out on one of the easiest and most tastiest treats you can make at home. The store-bought kind is rarely as good, and it's ridiculously expensive compared to making your own. I weighed it out of curiosity -- because what good is having a home kitchen scale if you don't use it to weigh random things? -- and found it to be just over 30oz. Which makes sense given that I used two 15oz. cans of chickpeas. I estimate it cost about $3 to make: two cans of chickpeas at 89¢, a third of a cup of tahini at maybe 75¢, and the rest can hardly be calculated -- a few tablespoons each of olive oil and lemon juice, plus some cumin and paprika. At the grocery store hummus costs somewhere around $4 for 8oz., which breaks down to $8/lb. I got nearly two pounds at a quarter of the price, and I know this hummus tastes better. The coolest thing about making your own hummus, however, is being able to customize it however you like. We are garlic fiends in this house so when the recipe I concocted from multiple sources says four cloves of garlic I actually use six. Oh, and it's really nice to put on a sandwich.

John decided to make roti instead of naan and he put me in charge of wielding the rolling pin and turning the little balls of dough into thin rounds of dough. I have a terrible relationship with the rolling pin. No matter how much -- or how often -- I flour it the dough still sticks. After rolling out six or seven of the buggers I grew frustrated and threw a fit. John took over, scurrying between the wok that wouldn't stay at proper temperature due to our electric stove and the dining room table where he'd set up the rolling mat and dough. Finally he grew tired of rushing back and forth and said he didn't care about rolling out the last one so I made one last attempt and rolled the little ball of dough out beautifully. John wasn't thrilled with how they ended up but I had never had roti and I loved every last one, as I really only cared about having a vehicle to transport hummus to my mouth.

I should have known better than to doubt John when it comes to making Indian curry as he's an expert. He doctored the lentil soup with curry powder, cumin, chili powder, turmeric, cayenne, and cinnamon, and added tomatoes and more onion, then let it simmer. Except for the slightest taste of thyme peeking through on occasional bites, it was hardly recognizable as its former incarnation as lentil soup.

After dinner we headed up to Woodmans to stock up with the last of this week's grocery money. Seeing as I'm doing heavy baking we bought a 5lb. bag of sugar and 8oz. of vanilla extract, which should last me a bit. I also found a bag of vital wheat gluten which means I'm going to make my own seitan. I'm already envisioning making reuben sandwiches -- I can't wait!

You might be wondering: Where are the cookies in this blog titled "For Love and Cookies?" And well you might, since there's only been one post about cookies thus far, but cookies are coming. In fact I've made two batches since I started this blog. And they're good. All about cookies tomorrow.

No comments:

Post a Comment