Saturday, March 20, 2010

"Where did March go?" Part 1: Cooking

I know March isn't over yet, but it got really busy at work and I didn't get as much updating done as I should have because I wasn't getting pictures posted, either, but I'm in catch-up mode now. So, what have I been doing? Cooking, for starters.

A few weeks ago I decided to try the Carrot and Ginger Soup recipe that I saw in Food Network Magazine. Yes, Martha Stewart and I finally broke up. Since I was only buying Martha's magazine for the recipes, and those are less than half of the content, I decided at New Year's that I would finally drop Martha and just start buying straight out food porn. No more decorating your kid's room or working in the garden; now I just have pages and pages of food and kitchens and more food. Thank you, Food Network, you filthy enabler.

Anyway, the carrot and ginger soup seemed pretty simple, except that it called for raw ginger:

ginger root

It's like a filthy tumor covered in onion skin. It wasn't as scary as that time I used fennel, as it's at least kind of obvious what you do with the ginger. I cut off the three inch peice the recipe called for and peeled it:

peeled ginger root

Then I was supposed to grate it. I know from years of watching food porn that people use a microplane grater, but I don't have one of those. I have a box grater, though, so I figured I would give that a try. This turned out to be a bad idea. The holes on one side were too far apart, and the tiny parmesan holes on the other side turned the ginger into stringy pulp. Since everything was getting pureed at the end of the recipe, anyway, I decided to just dice the ginger into small peices and hope for the best:

diced ginger root

My knife skills aren't going to win any prizes, but they serve the purpose. Also, if you've never worked with raw ginger before, you should try it at least once just for the smell alone. Oh my God, the whole kitchen smelled like ginger ale, and I kept wanting to pick the ginger peices up and put them in my mouth and suck all the ginger out of them. I was salivating the entire time I was chopping, like Homer Simpson-level droolmouth. It smelled that good.

Anyway, eventually the ginger, some defrosted carrots from a bag, and a diced onion made it into the pot:

vegetables cooking

And then I had to add the carrot juice, which I looked for all over town and couldn't find in a bottle smaller than this:

carrot juice

That's about a half gallon of carrot juice. Who would need a bottle that big? What else do people do with it? I was curious enough to taste it, since I had so much extra, and yes, it tastes like carrots. So much like carrots that the act of drinking carrots with no texture made my stomach do a weird flip and I had to spit it out. Do people drink that by itself, or just add it to vegetable smoothies or something?

Either way, I added the carrot juice to the vegetables, and then deviated from the recipe in the magazine. They said to add water, but I added vegetable stock instead:

liquid added

After that simmered for a while, I hit it with the immersion blender, and suddenly had a pot full of delicious soup:

carrot and ginger soup

It turned out well, but made a lot. I ended up with three gladware containers in the fridge. I've frozen one of them, to see how it holds up, but haven't defrosted it yet.

Not that soup is all I've made. I also invented Spam and Cheese Tarts.

Yes, Spam:

canned spam

I have no idea how Spam got into my pantry, but that happens to me a lot in the grocery store. I'll buy something (Spam, creamed corn, phillo cups) with no clear idea of what I want to do with it, and by the time I get home I won't feel like thinking about it, so it will just get put away and sit for a bit until I'm going through the cabinets bored some afternoon and think, "Hey, Spam! What can I do with that?"

In this case, I decided to make mini-tarts, based on an idea I saw in a magazine. Using a tube of crescent roll dough, the magazine made fruit tartlettes, but even though I had a tube of dough I didn't have any fruit around.

I did, however, have a can of Spam that I could crack open:

uncanned spam

Spam is not very appetizing when it comes out of the can. I rinsed it off before doing anything else with it, because it was covered with something clear and slimy. Fat? Aspic? Spam jelly? We'll never know, and I never want to. Even though you can eat Spam right out of the can, I remember my mom frying it when we were little, so I decided I'd give it a good fry before putting it into the tarts. Meat is good, but fried, carmelized meat is even better.

Just ask my dear friend, Bacon.

Anyway, first the Spam got diced:

diced spam

then fried:

frying spam

and then it was a plate full of little tiny crunchy delicious meat nuggets:

fried spam

Following the directions for the fruit tarts, I unrolled a tube of crescent roll dough and pinched all the seams closed to give myself one sheet. I cut the sheet in half vertically, then horizontally, making four rectangles, then cut each rectangle into six squares and put each square in the bottom of a cup in the mini-muffin pan. I added a spoonfull of Spam nuggets and topped each one with a couple of chunks of cheese:

tart assembly

I baked according to the directions for the rolls on the tube, and ended up with delicious, bite sized mini Spam and Cheese tarts:

spam and cheese tarts

Those are coming to a football game with me this fall.


Skald said...

Those sound amazing!

Lauren said...

Delish! What kind of cheese is that? I am amazed at the millions of uses for crescent rolls.
Good job with the ginger too!

Joel said...

It was part of a lump of brie that I had in the fridge (sale at Kroger again). When I make them again, I'll probably use cheddar, as it won't liquefy quite as much in the oven.

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