Thursday, December 8, 2011

Viva Parmigiana

[i cannot for the life of me get these little black bastards straight. theyre evil.]

ok, so what the fuck is up with me and cooking? im not illiterate. i can follow a recipe. yet i just tried to make these Roasted Chickpeas and burned the everloving shit out of them. note to self: if you think to yourself "hmm, smells like theyre burning. theyre probably not though. thats probably just the smell of them getting nice and roasted," NO, THEYRE ACTUALLY BURNING. TAKE THEM OUT OF THE FUCKING OVEN. there were about ten chickpeas that were not black, and i just ate those, and they were pretty good. i dunno. i could buy another can and try again, cuz i really want to season these all spicy and indian. but then again, FUCK YOU CHICKPEAS, i didnt want you anyways, you dont get any second chances with me.

More Failures!:

ever since i pillaged my moms New Betty Crocker Cookbook for recipes this summer, ive been wanting to make this Mozzarella and Pesto Strata. i dont know why. im starting to doubt my taste buds, or rather the part of my brain that reads a recipe and conjures up an idea of what it might taste like. that is obviously miswired. maybe its my bipolar brain, or my meds. i did stop liking the taste of ranch dressing when i started taking welbutrin, so who knows.

heres the recipe. judge for yourself.

Mozzarella and Pesto Strata
16 slices [3/4 in thick] french bread [about half a loaf]
1/2c basil pesto
1/2c sliced ripe olives*
1 jar roasted red bell peppers, drained and sliced thinly**
2c shredded mozzarella cheese
8 large eggs
2c milk
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
2 tbsp freshly shredded Parmesan cheese

1. spray 13x9" glass baking dish with cooking spray. spread one side of each bread slice with basil pesto. arrange bread, pesto sides up, in baking dish, cutting slices to fit if necessary. sprinkle with olives, roasted peppers and mozzarella cheese.
2. in medium bowl, beat eggs, milk, salt and pepper with fork or whisk until well blended. pour evenly over cheese. sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. cover and refrigerate 2-24 hours.
3. heat oven to 325 degrees. bake uncovered 55-60 minutes or until knife inserted in center comes out clean, and top is golden brown. let stand 5 minutes before cutting.

*ok, i really tried my damnedest to follow this recipe to the letter. really the only changes were that ive had this jar of olives sitting on my microwave [where it hangs out with my other pretty jarred things, like this chutney i may or may not use someday] for months, which i bought partially because its pretty, and because i like olives a lot, and because i thought i might use it in this recipe. theyre mixed olives seasoned with garlic and herbs, and i painstakingly pitted and sliced 1/2 cup of them.

[if you like pretty jarred things to hang out in your kitchen, i once again recommend tj maxx. they have tons of them and theyre all around $3 or so, way cheaper than at the grocery store or a fancy specialty food shop. id normally be leery of buying food at discount-ish store, but since theyre jarred theres no harm, right?]
**i also used about half the jar, since i wasnt so sure i was going to like the peppers. im a little pepper-phobic, for texture rather than taste.

so all went well, in this cooking process. i was actually hungry when i assembled it, and was majorly disappointed when i got to the "chill for 2-24 HOURS" part. yikes. but i chilled it, and eventually baked it, and... meh. i knew as soon as i took the first few bites that i didnt like it. the olive taste was totally overwhelming, and just didnt jive. i ate around the olives and red peppers for the duration of the first piece, and that was alright. my mom makes this thing we call "Egg Bake," a pretty popular dish which is basically the same bread-and-egg thing but with diced ham and cheddar cheese. SO GOOD. so simple but so awesome. that fluffy, eggy bread. the crusty cheesy top. mmm. this was good, with the mozzarella and Parmesan. it would be better with say, some spinach, maybe some roasted or sun dried tomatoes? maybe some pancetta? i hate it when i couldve winged the recipe better than the original. and what really gets me is the time and money wasted. a loaf of bread and 8 eggs wasted? a whole fucking bag of cheese? i ended up throwing the whole thing in the garbage, because if im not going to eat it, no one is. i was grr. there are no pictures because i seriously threw it away before i could take any.

but then! success!

Eggplant Parmigiana
2c tomato pasta sauce
2 small unpeeled eggplants, about 1 lb each
1 large egg
2 tbsp water
2/3c dry breadcrumbs [i used panko]
1/3c grated Parmesan cheese
1/4c olive oil [more if needed]
2c shredded mozzarella
i also used some spices:
cayenne pepper
*i actually just kind of winged this, because i happened to have a spare eggplant and remembered this recipe, and i happened to have everything else needed. so i made about 1/2 this recipe, using the one eggplant, half a jar of leftover vodka sauce and 1 cup of mozzarella.

1.heat oven to 350 degrees.
2. cut eggplants into 1/4 inch slices. in shallow dish, mix egg and water. in another shallow dish, mix breadcrumbs and Parmesan cheese, season with salt, pepper, paprika, and a pinch of cayenne to taste. dip eggplant slices in egg mixture, then coat evenly with breadcrumbs.
3. in 12" skillet, heat oil over medium heat. cook half the eggplant at a time about 5 minutes, turning once until light brown and crispy on the outside. repeat with remaining eggplant, adding 1-2 more teaspoons of oil if necessary.
4. in ungreased 11x7 glass baking dish, place half the eggplant, overlapping slices slightly. spoon half the sauce over eggplant. sprinkle with one cup of mozzarella cheese. repeat with remaining eggplant, sauce, and cheese.
5. back uncovered 25 minutes or until bubbly and cheese is lightly browned.

[looks gross. dont care]

this turned out SO. FUCKING. GOOD. i wish i had more of it. i wish i had it right now. it was a little labor intensive, slicing and breading the eggplant, and im not very good at frying. having the eggplant 1/4 in thick is really key, so it cooks through and browns on the outside at the exact same time.

[ohhhhhh yeaaaaaahhhhh]

so good. seriously. simple. the eggplant flavor still comes through despite the frying and the sauce. melty. delicious. i seriously wouldnt change a thing about this recipe, except make more of it. ill probably buy another jar of vodka sauce instead of getting the traditional marinara because i dont even want to fuck with whats seriously the only recipe thats come off without a hitch for a long time.


Wendy's W Burger [not quite as bad as the president]

im not as nutso into food blogs as i was a few years ago... i occasionally keep up on The Girl Who Ate Everything and Thursday Night Smackdown, more because i love these ladies and want to know whats going on in their lives [both of them give you those "omg are you dead??" hiatuses occasionally], and also largely because of their humor. ive been a little into A Cozy Kitchen lately too. but pretty much the only site i read for its food content alone is GrubGrade, which is mostly fast food related. for some reason road testing all the new special items at all the fast food places is really interesting to me, i dont know why. i dont even eat fast food that much anymore, but for some reason i like to stay updated on all the new goods. i catch up on their site every few weeks and when i read the review of the new W burger at wendy's i remembered, hey, i ate that!

so in what i think was my last meal with my lovely friend Josh before he moved back to california, we went to wendys. big spenders. i was sadly very excited because i dont get to eat fast food very often anymore [diet, money, location etc] and im lame enough to find all the options of ordering very exciting. i was like "oooh! new W burger! i must try that." im a fan of the double cheese and i loose my SHIT over a "special sauce." condiments are the best. so i ordered: W burger meal with fries, and a 5 piece chicken nugget, because their nuggets are awesome and i have this thing about wanting to have one beef and one chicken item at fast food places. balance!

not pictured: what i actually received.

so i got my food. part of the problem may have been that i waited a bit to eat, until josh got his. he got caught up in a weird conversation with the odd older lady working the counter, when his question about the difference in items received an answer involving "big meat" and "small meat," two phrases i really didnt want to hear. this lady was seriously odd. i ordered and when i was finished, she just stared at me blankly until i said "...thats all." you know, if youre confused as to whether im done ordering, the typical thing to do is to ask "anything else?" not just... stare.

nonetheless. i cracked into the burger and fries. first off, im not too nuts about wendy's "new" fries which apparently i havent tried since they came out a year ago [not seeing my ex anymore has put a serious dent in my wendys consumption]. not digging it. i like a skinnier fry, crispier on the outside. i gotta say the best fries are probably dairy queens, they've got this wonderful exterior thats unmatched. burger kings are pretty good too. not digging these natural sea salt things. i guess im glad that they come from real potatoes and shit... but i honestly cant appreciate the difference. but im not much of a fry girl anyway. they're honestly something i just mindlessly nom, not really enjoy. a paltry side gig to the real show, the MEAT.

but oh, this burger. how i wanted to love it. "two patties of 100% pure beef, two slices of American cheese, thick-sliced tomato, and our savory signature sauce — all on a buttered, toasted bun"? YEAH. but it all falls apart in the construction. what i got was seriously probably the messiest fast food burger ive ever eaten. just sloppy all over the place. TONS of this mystery 'signature sauce,' which despite being all over my burger and hands had virtually no flavor. seriously, i had josh taste it, and he concurred, "it tastes like nothing." kind of like really, really watery bland thousand island. THAT IS NOT A BURGER SAUCE. UNACCEPTABLE. added nothing to the burger except mess, and what a shame! because what awesomeness a good sauce can add to a burger! and then the toppings... lettuce which probably had gotten wilty by fault of my waiting, and SUPER strong onions that had to be removed. two patties slopping all over the place. soggy bun. bleh :( i dont know if i finished it. it had some of the typical enjoyability of meat-plus-melty-cheese, which wendys usually gets right [their beef and cheese has more of a "real" taste and texture than the other fast food joints, i find, and their cheese melts in a non-plasticy manner], but thats kind of a given. i was disappoint. 

on the other hand, the chicken nuggets were super hot and awesome as usual. i think in the future i will stick with my usual #1 or #2 with nuggets or chili. 

i really do like trying new things at fast food places. i get excited when theres something i want to try. usually it ends up being a disappointment, though. kind of like a blind date. 

[ive tried like four times to fix the font issue at the end there, i dont know what the fuck is going on . i give up.]