Archive for sugar

Tuesdays with Dorie – Chocolate Pudding Disaster

Posted in baking, food, meme, tuesdays with dorie with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 15, 2008 by uglydudefood

Last week’s Double Crusted Blueberry Pie was DIFFICULT.  I was so happy to hear that this week’s would be chocolate pudding, a recipe I’ve made dozens of times.

1)  Open packet of pudding mix.

2)  Add milk and/or water.

3)  Shake shake shake shake shake.

Okay, so it’s bound to be more difficult than that, but not much, right?

Wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeee.

I didn’t have to buy any new equipment for this recipe, which is nice after last week’s $50 investment.  I picked up some whole milk (I am trying to follow these recipes to the letter at the moment).  Otherwise, the rest are pretty standard pantry items.  I typoed earlier and wrote “panty items,” but I swear it wasn’t Freudian.

I substituted semisweet chocolate chips for the bittersweet chocolate chips, which didn’t seem like it’d be too big of a problem.  It’s better than another emergency run to the grocery store.  Gas ain’t cheap.

What follows is a testament in my ability to ignore instructions totally; make the biggest messes; and have the worst luck in the world.

MISTAKE #1: Dorie Sez:  “Add the dry ingredients.”  I add the pre-mixed dry ingredients (cornstarch, cocoa powder, salt, sugar), and then for some reason I also add the chocolate chips and the butter (which come far later in the process).

MISTAKE #2: When adding boiling milk to the food processor through the top hole, be sure to remove the “pusher” from the hole–otherwise the milk will go all over your food processor, counter, floor, pants, etc.

MISTAKE #3: Not so much a mistake as a capper to the whole thing.  I tried to salvage my batch of pudding, and in the step where you pour it BACK into the saucepan, I missed the pan with half of the pudding.

It wasn’t all my fault though.  I was blessed with the leakiest food processor ever.  The end result?

This:

And this:

And this:

That’s right.  That was my end result.  It looked and tasted like chocolate porridge–not entirely unpleasing, but not entirely pudding either.  I was devastated.  I didn’t want to do Tuesdays with Dorie anymore.  I didn’t want to bake.  I didn’t want to blog.  I just wanted to go to sleep.

While I could easily have gone with the “ugly food for an ugly dude” excuse, I had to prevail.  After some cleanup, it was round two.   After chastising myself and rereading the recipe multiple times, I was good to go.  I followed it to the letter.

Success!  It felt so good to actually do something right.  Sure, my food processor is still leaky.  And sure, my floor has reached levels of stickiness as of yet unknown to mankind.  But I HAVE SIX CUPS OF PUDDING.  Tastes pretty good, too.  Far better than that instant pudding, no matter how fun it is to shake it all up.

The rest will go towards the dinner I’m cooking for my girlfriend Rachel tomorrow.  The menu:  baked chicken breasts, corn on the cob, salad, chocolate pudding.  I’ve never cooked anybody a real dinner before, so wish me luck.  If all else fails, I’ll have a lot of extra pudding.

Things I’ve Learned

1.  Read carefully.
2.  If at first you don’t succeed, etc!

For 1/6 of the recipe:

Nutrition Facts
Serving Size 138.3g
Amount Per Serving
Calories

252
Calories from Fat

144
% Daily Value*
Total Fat

16.0g
25%
Saturated Fat

9.2g
46%
Cholesterol

120mg
40%
Sodium

174mg
7%
Total Carbohydrates

23.0g
8%
Dietary Fiber

2.3g
9%
Sugars

18.5g
Protein

6.8g
Vitamin A 7% Vitamin C 0%
Calcium 12% Iron 3%
* Based on a 2000 calorie diet

Nutritional details are an estimate and should only be used as a guide for approximation

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Tuesdays With Dorie – Double Crusted Blueberry Pie

Posted in baking, food, tuesdays with dorie with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 8, 2008 by uglydudefood

I’m learning to bake through the power of Internet bloggery.  The gist is, every Tuesday I will post about a different baked good from Baking:  From My Home To Yours by Dorie Greenspan.  This is all part of the wonderful Tuesdays With Dorie blogroll.  You’ll see my disasters and far-less-frequent triumphs at the oven.

I started out by picking up a few kitchen items I didn’t own–namely a food processor and a pie plate.  My parents have all of this stuff, but I’m imagining someday I’ll be gainfully employed, out of the house, and in need my own versions.  As that annoying guy from Rage Against the Machine says, “What better place than here?  What better time than now?”  I get most of my baking advice from Rage Against the Machine, by the way.  With a pocket full of shells.

I didn’t see any 9″ pie plates at Target (which was the extent of my lazy shopping), but a 9.5″ pie plate would fit the bill just fine, right?  RIGHT?

I had some free time while my girlfriend was driving into town, so I made the crust on Thursday evening.  Pretty simple ingredients–vegetable shortening, butter, flour, sugar, salt, water.  Food process the beast, wrap it, and stick it in the refrigerator.  Easy peasy.  I was given a little boost in confidence when my dough actually came out looking like dough.  Is this baking?  Baking is easy.  All of those Keebler elves need to stop their bitching, because they are living the life of kings!

After refrigerating the dough during a dinner date, I came back and rolled it.  The recipe had a suggestion of freezing the dough into the pie plate, and that appealed to me.  That way all I’d have to do was fill the crust and bake.  Simple stuff.

Here’s where my stupid, oversized pie plate came into play.  Apparently 0.5″ is a lot of room when it comes to pies, you see.  I was supposed to have a fair amount of overhang with my crust, but my crust barely came up to the top of the plate.  I tried to make up for it by squeezing the crust a little thinner, but how thin is too thin?  Something told me that having a nearly translucent layer of pie crust holding a pound of sugary-sweet blueberry goo wouldn’t exactly work out.  Furthermore, the second half of the dough (the top of the pie) probably wasn’t big enough to drape atop the pie.

All the same, I didn’t have the time or ingredients to make another crust, so it would have to do.  I froze my crust and went on to do weekend things with weekend people, fancy-free of all the pie woes that would later befall me.

Flash forward to Monday evening, where I was free to pie the pie that must be pied.  I had bought a 2-quart container of blueberries at Costco earlier, so I had enough berries to fulfill the recipe and gorge myself while I waited the hour for the pie to finish baking.

I mixed the ingredients together (as Dorie says, “gently stir”), but my pie filling didn’t look too much like pie filling.  It looked like salt and sugar piled below a bunch of berries.  It didn’t come together until I started smashing a few berries.  “Gently stir” must have a wide variety of interpretations, because you’re going to want to mush some of your berries to get a decent filling.

I filled my frozen pie crust with unflavored breadcrumbs and the sugarberry mix.  I placed the frozen top atop my pie.  It just about fit over the whole thing, which I took as a small victory.  With some fork-smashing, I managed to seal the top of the pie (although the “crust” looked pretty dismal).  As a result of having to finagle the crust, the pie wasn’t necessarily the prettiest thing in the world.  Thankfully, my website had the word “ugly” in the title twice.  Paydirt.

OH CRUD.  Twenty minutes into the hour of baking, my crust was brown and soon-to-burn.  Too thin.  Way to go, Mike Spoodles.  Way to make a pie. I moved the pie up to a higher rack in the oven, and I turned the heat down to the “second thirty-minutes'” temperature early.  I tented some tinfoil loosely over the pie, as Dorie recommended.  I had no idea what this would do, but I was flying on my feet.  I had to use all the instincts I had honed through twenty-three years of microwaving everything I’d ever eaten.  Oh dear.

I finally swallowed my pride and went to my mother for help, who told me to put the pie back on the bottom (where it is less likely to brown, apparently), and to stop running around screaming like a little ninny.  Apparently pie is pie, and pie is good.  One of life’s lessons.

I crumbled off a lot of the offending crust.

The final product?  Ugly, of course.  The taste?  My mom says, “Mmmm!  This is good.”  She specifically liked the crust.  I liked it just fine, too.  The fact that it came out tasting like an actual dessert damn near brought a tear to my eye.  My dad and brother did not eat it, but they probably would have if I had replaced the blueberries with ground beef.

A bit of a madcap first week of Tuesdays With Dorie for me, but I can only imagine that things will get smoother from here (they won’t).

So, things I bought:

Black and Decker PowerPro II Food Processor ($40)
Pyrex 9.5″ Pie Plate (“Grip-rite”)
(approx. $10)

Things I learned:

Use proper-sized dishes, or adjust recipe accordingly
How to make a pie crust
How to use a food processor
How to make a dang pie
Pie crust tastes good before you bake it

Here is nutritional information for 1/10th of the pie (which is less than Dorie’s recommended 6-8 servings, but COME ON LOOK AT THOSE CALORIES.  Haha.

Serving Size 212.2g
Amount Per Serving
Calories

593
Calories from Fat

279
% Daily Value*
Total Fat

31.0g
48%
Saturated Fat

16.8g
84%
Cholesterol

80mg
27%
Sodium

482mg
20%
Total Carbohydrates

74.9g
25%
Dietary Fiber

3.7g
15%
Sugars

35.3g
Protein

6.4g

Loco for choco

Posted in food with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 13, 2008 by uglydudefood

I used to love milk chocolate. Then I went on a crazy, obsessive diet and cut all chocolate out of my life for a period of years. When I finally decided to return to the realm of the healthy and the sane, the typical Hershey’s bars (even the Special Dark which contains more milk and sugar than any good dark chocolate bar should) left me with a nasty, saccharine taste in my mouth.

One day I was wandering through the “health food” section of my grocery store–although really, how much healthier is “organic” macaroni and cheese compared to a blue box of Kraft Dinner?–and I passed a rack of chocolates I had never seen before. They all had weird numbers on them and they told me where they were from. What the what? I picked up a 55% dark chocolate Chocolove bar. It was exquisite. Instead of an overload of sugar or almost-artificial creaminess, there was depth to this candy. This candy had secrets.

I couldn’t get enough. As I continued on my journey, the percentages kept getting higher and higher. 70%. 80%. My life changed the moment I put a chunk of Endangered Species 88% dark chocolate in my gob.

But there was a problem.

The numbers stopped going up. My grocery store didn’t carry any chocolate darker than that 88% bar. I wanted more! More complexity! Would I live my life forever chasing the dragon, trying to relive my first 88% cacao experience?

Not if the baking aisle had anything to say about it. I marched right up to the unsweetened baking chocolate rack–which, in hindsight, probably looked pretty silly–and I grabbed a bar of Hershey’s finest 100% chocolate. It had to be good, right? I mean, my experience has done nothing to discourage the belief that higher cacao percentage equals higher deliciousness percentage.

Mistake.

I guess this post is meant to say that I love dark chocolate. I love dark chocolate ever so much. In fact, I may be the only living proof of going retarded over chocolate that you’ll ever actually see.

Amano Artisan Chocolate produces some of the most wonderful, complicated dark chocolate flavors out there.   I was lucky enough to receive over $21 worth of their chocolate for free from BlakeMakes.

Via Amano’s website:  “In a world of mass-produced merchandise, Amano strives to return to chocolate’s roots by making the chocolate slowly and in very small batches while concentrating on developing the finest flavors possible. There is much fine chocolate made throughout the world. Each company or artisan has its own unique vision. We hope that you will share Amano’s vision of quality without compromise.”

Due to the fact that this is probably the most expensive chocolate I’ll ever eat, I feel like I need more ceremony than just chomping on the bar.  Any suggestions on what to do with some really, really good dark chocolate?  Should I use it to bake something? Share it with work friends and gauge reactions in some sort of faux-wine-tasting?  Or should I just chomp on it?

Recipe: Mike Spoodles’ Super-Healthy Apple Crisp

Posted in baking, food with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 16, 2008 by uglydudefood

Here is a recipe that I developed based upon a few recent experiments in the kitchen. The result is a cheap, easy, healthy, fast, and filling dessert.

MIKE SPOODLES’ SUPER-HEALTHY “APPLE CRISP”

INGREDIENTS

1 Granny Smith apple
1 1/2 Cup Wheaties
3 Tbsp. milk
1 tsp. cinnamon
2 tsp. Splenda

Microwave the apple much like you would “bake” a potato. Poke holes in it with a fork, and then loosely double-wrap the fruit in saran wrap. There is no need to core the apple, as the baking process will soften the entirety of the fruit. 5-7 minutes should do it.

Place the fruit in a blender or food processor. Add Splenda, milk (I used skim), and 1/2 Cup Wheaties. Blend briefly so that the mixture remains chunky but well-mixed. Don’t blend too much, or you will end up with baby food (which is still good, but fairly unnecessary).

Pour this mixture into a bowl. Stir in 1 cup Wheaties. Sprinkle cinnamon atop the “apple crisp.” Bon appetit!

Suggested serving: cover in 1/2 cup milk while still warm, and scarf it down while it’s still crunchy!

Look at the pictures! And you thought I was joking with the “Ugly Food” thing!

If you don’t want to use the Splenda–which may destroy your insides with its sweet chemical goodness–you can replace it with sugar, or replace the Wheaties with Frosted Flakes.

This “dessert” can also function as a breakfast. It’s essentially just a bowl of cereal with fruit and milk! A little creativity can turn your boring old whole-grain breakfast-of-champions into a special treat.

Nutrition Facts
Serving Size 240.2g
Amount Per Serving
Calories

293
Calories from Fat

12
% Daily Value*
Total Fat

1.3g
2%
Cholesterol

1mg
0%
Sodium

401mg
17%
Total Carbohydrates

67.2g
22%
Dietary Fiber

10.5g
42%
Protein

8.0g
Vitamin A 23% Vitamin C 31%
Calcium 13% Iron 92%
* Based on a 2000 calorie diet

Amazing Black Bean Brownies: good for your heart, make you etc.

Posted in baking, food, recipes with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 10, 2008 by uglydudefood

My last post was a recipe post, I guess. More, it was just a suggestion post. This here is my first post where I actually experimented with ingredients and made foods that did not taste like crunchy water!

I have an ever-increasing backlog of recipes that I kinda-sorta want to try, but will probably never get to. Homemade Marshmallow Peeps. Vegan, fat-free carrot cake. Pumpkin muffins recommended by my friend Silliker. Various veggie burger recipes. They all incite some sort of interest in me, but not enough to send me right to the oven to work the ol’ Spoodles magic.

I was blogrolling on Monday; The moment I saw the phrase “Black Bean Brownies” on 101 Cookbooks, I knew. The words made absolutely no sense to me. I mean, sure. I knew what they all meant individually. Black–an absence of color. Bean–a protein-filled treat that develops in pods. Brownies–chocolatey delights. When you put the three together? The phrase “Black Bean Brownies” sounded like “Cotton Ball Checkbook” or “French Fried Pants.” The words simply did not go together in any decipherable way. I was going to have to create this recipe. Immediately.

Closer inspection of the recipe showed that black beans were not the only experimental item. These brownies were sweetened with agave nectar, a sort of natural, healthier (although, obviously, by no means healthy) corn syrup.

The recipe initially comes from Baking With Agave Nectar: Over 100 Recipes Using Nature’s Ultimate Sweetener, which at $11 is actually close in price to what you’ll pay for damned agave nectar in this one recipe. For the sake of trying new things, I did spring for the organic agave nectar, but 101 Cookbooks says that you can easily replace the nectar 1:1 with honey.

I won’t reprint the recipe here (as I probably don’t have permission), but here are my notes. This was only my third time baking, so I was prepared for it not to go…smoothly.

THE PROCESS

  • The recipe stated that canned black beans worked just fine for this project. I bought canned, no salt added beans, and they seemed to work fine. With the usual, high-sodium canned stuff, you would probably want to spend a good amount of time rinsing the beans.
  • I made the decision not to include the walnuts. My family is fairly picky when it comes to such things, and I thought these brownies were weird enough due to the beans and the sweetener. Didn’t want to rock the boat too much. As mentioned in “Final Thoughts,” this may have affected my final batch.

THE TREAT

  • Inexperienced as I was. I was unsure what the instruction “Bake…until the brownies are set” meant. Did I want them to come out of my oven looking like I wanted my final product to look? Or did I want to take them out a little soft (still solid), and the heat from the baking process would finish it all the way? I checked on my brownies at thirty-five minutes and they seemed a little…shiny. Internet research seemed vague at best, although if I had followed Slashfood’s direction I probably would have fared better. At forty minutes , I removed the pan and hoped for the best.
  • After cooling (and after refrigerating, as specified by this recipe), my brownies were still gooey. Not uncooked-gooey, and not inedible-gooey, but certainly too gooey to cut out of the pan with any confidence. I knew that if I put these things back in the oven after they’d cooled, they would only burn. I was left with some extra-gooey fudgeypuddingbean brownies.
  • That said, these things tasted really good. There was no bean taste to them at all. They tasted like super-decadent, fudge brownies. The coffee flavor was pretty strong, but not bad at all. Even the consistency wasn’t terrible. Certainly softer than I would have liked–and softer than any brownie I’d ever eaten before–but I could pick them up with my hands without them falling apart, so that was good enough.

THE REACTIONS

  • Mom: “Is there coffee in this?” She didn’t seem entirely unimpressed, but didn’t enjoy the flavor all too much. I offered her another the following day, and she accepted. Conclusion: not poison.
  • Dad: “I’m not that adventurous.”
  • Brother: I didn’t even bother asking. He ate a cheeseburger instead.
  • Coworker 1: “I’m impressed!” “This is more like fudge than a brownie.” Later, “I have a brownie craving!” As one of my better friends, she might have been tempered by pressure not to hurt my feelings.
  • Coworker 2: “Those brownies were…interesting.” After some hesitance, she came out and said, “I think I’m so used to [regular sugar] that these just don’t hit my craving.” She also expressed that she liked my previous two baking attempts far better (Toll House Cupcakes and Chocolate Cherry Dr. Pepper Cupcakes). Note to self: less adventurous baked goods for the office. This was actually my favorite bit of feedback, simply because it was actual, constructive criticism. I’ll come back to her because I know she’ll actually tell me how she feels about the food. I’m hoping it will be complimentary, but I know it won’t be needlessly so.

FINAL THOUGHTS

  • I’m wondering if other types of beans would work in this mixture. Black beans seem to be a common Internet trend in this brand of baked goods, but the flavor of a canned black bean tastes fairly similar, for instance, to a canned pinto bean or a canned white bean. This is one thing I would change if I ever made this recipe again, just to learn whether these are acceptable substitutes. Maybe white bean “blondies?”
  • I loved the taste of these brownies, and specifically how the instant coffee offset the chocolate flavor. However, the coffee did tend to come front-and-center. I think the amount of coffee could stand to be cut in half (unless it was used to mask some sort of beany aftertaste that I didn’t sense at all). This would, I think, make my family far more receptive to these brownies.
  • I left the walnuts out of the recipe, and now I’m wondering if they would have helped to bind the mixture and make for a more cohesive and less goopy brownie. I don’t believe nuts actively bind food, but you never know. Since my family didn’t eat more than one of these apiece anyway, I would probably leave the nuts in next time for a more full and textured brownie.
  • I was too much of a wuss to pull a fast one on people. When consumers asked me about the brownies, I came right out and told them they were full of beans and alternative sweetener. It would have been interesting to put these brownies to a blind taste test. Would these just seem like “super-fudgy” brownies, or would people notice something awry?
  • I really like the idea of using beans in a recipe instead of flour. It adds a world of protein and fiber that you aren’t going to get in a regular brownie. This makes them more substantial, more filling, and–dare I say it–more satisfying than a normal baked good in a lot of respects.

NUTRITION (for 1/45th of batch)

via Caloriecount.about.com

Serving Size 30.0g
Amount Per Serving
Calories
98
Calories from Fat
53
% Daily Value*
Total Fat
5.9g
9%
Saturated Fat
3.5g
18%
Cholesterol
30mg
10%
Sodium
11mg
0%
Total Carbohydrates
10.8g
4%
Dietary Fiber
1.1g
4%
Protein
1.6g
Vitamin A 4% Vitamin C 0%
Calcium 3% Iron 7%
* Based on a 2000 calorie diet

There is always room.

Posted in food with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 19, 2008 by uglydudefood

What Makes a Peep a Peep?

Posted in food with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 9, 2007 by uglydudefood