Sunday, May 22, 2011

Stereotypical American food, conference edition

So Americans have some kind of gross eating habits.  When I was at my conference in early May, I went to a restaurant that I shall not name in Columbus with a bunch of Europeans.  They immediately noticed the most disgusting (and stereotypically American) item on the menu: deep fried hamburger.  Several of them ordered it.  I took a picture.  I think the worst part was most of them ate the whole thing.


So for those of you who don't know the reason why this is the first time I'm posting in all of May, it's because I was traveling for the first 17 days.  First I was in Columbus, OH for a conference (and I am leaving tomorrow for a related conference).  Then I went to Europe.  I stayed with a friend in southern Germany and visited several German and French cities as well as Luxembourg.  We finished off the trip with a Paris visit.  The whole trip was a lot of fun, but unfortunately, I don't have a camera so the only pictures are those she took in Paris.  The unfortunate part about returning to the States is that the bread there was so amazing, I don't think I'll ever be able to eat store bought bread in the U.S. again, even from the bakery.  This isn't a huge problem since I bake about 80% of the bread that I eat, it's just cutting out that remaining 20%.  It does mean that I need to expand my repertoire, however.  Since I've been working from home, and will continue to at least 4 days a week (this is of course, including weekends), I have the opportunity to do things like attempt baguettes, which require longer proofing time than other breads.  I started with a fairly simple recipe and liked the outcome except the crust did not brown as much as in their pictures.  I left it in the oven for about 45-50 minutes, which was definitely too much, the crust was thicker and the inside drier than the baguette should have been, but I was waiting for it to turn "dark golden brown."  In retrospect, I should have baked them at a higher temperature.  My oven claims to go up to 500F.  That being said, I made the baguettes on Thursday morning and they were gone by Saturday afternoon... and I didn't share with anyone.

Baba Ganoush

Hey all, sorry for not posting for several months.  Boy do I have a backlog of stuff I've made.  I'll start with the most recent since I remember it.  I'm certain I'll forget a few things, but prepare for a barrage of posts!

As of lately I've had more hummus cravings that I ever remember.  And I've figured out what it is that I've been craving about hummus: the tahini.  Tahini is basically sesame seed butter and I am a pretty big fan of sesame seeds to begin with.  But hummus is old news (I've been making it almost weekly and I am sorry for not posting, it never turns out exactly how I want it to).  The other similar dip that I know with large quantities of tahini: baba ganoush.  Instead of pureeing chickpeas, one roasts and purees eggplant.  It sounds scary, but honestly, you probably can't tell that it's eggplant.  Even before I liked eggplant, I liked baba ganoush because it basically tastes like tahini and garlic, just like hummus (or at least my hummus).  Plus, I busted out the liquid smoke flavor, since I don't have a smoker or even a gas burner.  And this made my baba ganoush delicious.  What's even better is that it purees much better than chickpeas in my magic bullet.  I think i may not add enough olive oil to hummus, but baba ganoush needs a lot less.  I served it with both carrots and, when I ran out of those, toasted pita.

Baba Ganoush
1 eggplant
2 Tbsp tahini
2 small cloves garlic
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp olive oil
dash of chili powder (to taste)
dash of liquid smoke (optional)

Broil eggplant until soft, turning every 10 minutes or so.  This took about 30-40 minutes.  Allow to cool, until you can handle it.  You can speed this along by peeling the skin off.  Once it's cool enough, scoop out the pulp and put it in a Magic Bullet (or food processor or blender) with all the other ingredients and blend until smooth.  Serve with pita or veggies.