Archive for March, 2010

Impressive

March 25, 2010

  

On occasion, I enjoy the challenge of making something that one normally would not make.  Like nutella.  Like infused vodka.  Like truffles.  Mark Bittman’s Chocoalte Truffles are as easy as they are impressive.  Simply heavy cream, bittersweet chocolate, and something to coat the sticky wickets, it’s hard to believe that it’s the exotic treat that it is.  The hot cream single handedly transforms the properties of solid chocolate into an almost liquid-y, velvet-y nibble.  The trick is a cold kitchen.  My toasty apartment required multiple refridgerations for the ganache, and not the most perfectly round truffles.

Aside from unsweetened cocoa powder, I improvised the coatings with what was at hand.  The sugar-cinnamon mix from sweet and spicy nuts was reminiscent of a donut.  Shards from brown butter rice krispie treats were surprisingly good, giving a little extra crunch.  Toasted soybean powder, not so good.

Joking with friends, we imagine truffles rolled in Cheez Doodle powder, smashed potato chips, and Pop Rocks.  They could even be infused with malt liquor, Everclear, and RC Cola.  Trashy Truffles are born.

Operation Mouse

March 23, 2010

It saddens and horrifies me to say that The Littlest Kitchen had a mouse.  I had been in denial for a few weeks, getting by on the bare minimum, waiting to have some time to actually deal.  It lurked somewhere in the cabinets, not being able to, or wanting to, get out of the warm dark maze.  I discovered the problem a few weekends ago, after being out of town for the weekend.  The evidence was clear – something had unsuccessfully tried to gnaw its way through a  bag of zip-sealed cat treats.  Stored under the sink, a scattering of confetti-like plastic and a few turds evinced an unwanted guest.  Time for Operation Mouse.

Step 1:  Take No Prisoners

The mouse and I cannot coexist in the same space.  It has to go by any means necessary, including through the pearly gates.  I set out a snap trap, and caught it the following weekend after being out of town again.  I firmly believe that the traditional spring-load traps are the best; if there was a better mousetrap, someone would have invented it by now.  Much like how I believe that if there was a cure for baldness, every man on earth would have a full head of hair.  And glue traps are gross.  I’m not convinced that he’s the only one, nor do I want any new roommates, more precautions ensue.

Step 2:  Block All Entries

My building’s handyman came to remove the expired mouse, and in the following days stuffed steel wool into the connection holes under the sink cabinet.  Another point of vulnerability was the microwave cabinet which has an open back.  The rear edge was not flush to the wall, so he covered the gaps with a thin piece of wood.  The mouse had made itself comfortable in the nested frying pans, also stored in the cabinet.  The paper towels that separated the nonstick pans must have made for a cozy retreat, as it had completely ignored the mother lode of dried beans and grains in plastic bags next to it.

 

Step 3:  Clean, Clean, Clean

It took the stormy weekend to provide an opportunity to deal.  Both cabinets needed to be thoroughly cleaned and reassessed.  The frying pans needed to go back up to the vintage cabinet, even though they were so much easily accessible in the lower microwave cabinet.  I even deep cleaned the microwave and toaster oven, a Sisyphean task of the highest order.

Step 4:  Protect The Goods

Although untouched, all the dry goods had to be moved up to counter level.  Luckily, the mouse hasn’t discovered the drawers or the countertop.  I transferred whatever could be stored in hermetic jars and hard plastic, but there are still much in bags.  Ideally, I would like for it to go back inside, but not until I find a mouse-proof storage solution.  

I suspect that the mouse lived or came through the baseboards, so the idea is to make the upper world as unattractive as possible.  I don’t want to have a face to face confrontation, I want it to go away.  How it got through the sealed concrete from my renovation, I’ll never know.  Wily, boneless creatures.  And did I mention that I have a cat?

You Can’t Go Wrong

March 2, 2010

  

I’ve always loved the combination of tomatoes and greens.  Add to it caramelized onions, thyme, and white wine, it’s a sure thing.  Over sausages from Schaller & Weber, I’m in heaven.  Such is Melissa Clark’s Grilled Summer Beans with Herbs, Tomatoes, and Carmelized Onions from the August 12, 2008 New York Times.  A summer recipe, my tomatoes and green beans are its pale winter selves, hardly the best it could be, so imagine the possibilities in a few more months…

With this recipe, I contemplate a recent purchase, the Ikea Grilla Pan.  I’ve wanted it for a long time, having used it at a friend’s, hoping that it could replace the George Foreman Grill.  The idea would be to use the grill pan for such things as sausages and things that would need attractive grill marks.  But is it better than a regular frying pan?  Not really, a frying pan is fine and browns nicely.  I check my new bible, Judith Jones’ The Pleasures of Cooking For One, to see if it’s part of her essential equipment list, it’s so not.  Cook’s Illustrated doesn’t even have an equipment review for it.  It may not have a place in the Littlest Kitchen.