Monday, December 24, 2007

Name Change and Appetizer Panic

Since I only have three semesters left of college, I came to the conclusion not only that the title Collegiate Cookery is a little more drab than I'd hoped, but it's also limiting- and here's why.

For one thing, I crave a computer geek humor outlet. This is very selfish of me. However, here I will be able to post little jokes, annoyances, etc. that my non-computer-geek friends simply don't get- and even some of the geeks aren't in the Geek Gossip Loop.

For another, in less than two years I'll be out of scholardom and in the so-called real world.

So a name change, and hopefully more postings on a more frequent basis, both on cooking and computing.

This "real world" had better watch out. I'm coming. Bwahaha.

* * * * *

So last week I had to make appetizers for the entrepreneurial club's holiday party. At six, three hours before I thought it began, I was on my way out to get groceries, and found out that it began at seven. So I raided my finals-stricken, nearly-empty* refrigerator, and came up with these. They need tweaking, especially if they're to be eaten cold, but they were popular amongst the other college students. Alas, I was late enough to have no time for a picture. Your imagination, dear reader, will have to suffice.

Cream Cheese Tartlets

recipe by Christima


1 bar cream cheese
3 TB sour cream
3-4 TB milk
1/4 tsp dried or regular mustard
1 tsp garlic
1/2 cup chopped herbs (I used mostly parsley, a little bit of basil, and chives- dill would go well)
4-5 chopped scallions
1/2 tsp salt
2-3 oz chevre, herb or plain
~3 oz fresh mozzarella, sliced into rounds (approximate)
pie crust (I used ~1.5 Pillsbury pre-made crusts to finish the filling)


1) Preheat oven according to directions on pie crust box- or, if making your own pie crust, to about 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

2) Cream together all ingredients except pie crust.

3) Roll out pie crust until about 1/8" thick, or even thinner- it has to be handleable (which is indeed a word- I checked). Using a 2-3 inch round cutter or a round glass, cut circles of dough out of the pie crust. Roll dough out again as needed.

4) Place dough circles in ungreased muffin tins, creating bowls out of each circle.

5) Using two spoons, dollop the mixture into the dough bowls. Top with round(s) of mozzarella.

6) Bake in oven for ~10 minutes- watch carefully after the ninth minute or so to make sure that the mozzarella doesn't overflow. As soon as it's about to, open the oven and pull out the tin.


-These MUST be served hot if you're forced to use low-moisture mozzarella, or else it becomes a less-than-appetizing skin on top of the cream cheese.
-This could also be made with other flavourings, such as smoked salmon, loads of dill, or made sweet, in which case I'd use a sweet pie crust- or graham cracker crust? Hm.
-I'd also like to try this with different kinds of cheese, both in and on top.

*I may be a little dairy-obsessed. That's why I had all these things and only these things left. My friend C. at college claims that at my rate of milk consumption alone, I am going to die. I think I'm just going to gain superpowers- namely, freakishly strong bones. Someday.

Also, for those of you who celebrate,


Anyone else, if I neglect your holiday, it's simply because I don't know when it is. No offense intended. I should probably buy a calendar next year, no?

Come to think, I'm not sure why *I* celebrate Christmas. Oh, wait, it involves cooking. And eating. And giving gifts. And getting gifts. Nevermind, answered my own question.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Two weeks = Two months (apparently)

It's been depressing to log into Blogspot and discover that I hadn't posted since September, But Java and C and Aegean Art History and writing a cooking column for the school paper have eaten me whole, leaving me little time to eat anything but Tina's Beef and Bean frozen burritos and the occasional pasta dish.

Ah, you say, she neglects her blog for the school paper? How gauche! At the least she could have posted those articles here!

And I would have done so, except I don't like using the same article twice. I have used a couple recipes twice, including the Apple Cake from my last post. But now I return to writing articles only for Collegiate Cookery, since the semester is nearly over. So tonight, instead of writing about the iconography of Egyptian gods during the dynastic period, I present one of my mainstay pasta dishes, tentatively titled Goat Cheese Is Great.

Sadly, it's difficult to find a good chevre at a lot of grocery stores- many brands are to salty, or too bland, or just funny-tasting. I generally buy it in largish logs at Trader Joe's instead- I don't remember the brand, but it's better than the REALLY salty one in the four-sided tapered box. It was so salty it nearly ruined a lamb stew. *shudders*

So I often have chevre, milk or cream, pasta, and various vegetables, along with my herb garden (yes, I may be the only undergraduate student in the United States with an herb garden. I never said I wasn't weird), and this makes for an easy cream sauce- almost too easy, but since non-tomato-based sauces are NOT my forte, it's a little less risky than and actual cream sauce. It's also easy enough for anyone who can boil water...

Goat Cheese Is Great
Pasta with Chevre and Vegetables
Serves 1-2


~1/4 pound pasta (I recommend spaghetti, cappellini, orechiette, fettucine, or bow-tie pasta)

4 oz. goat cheese
1/2 cup milk or cream (cream is richer, obviously: I would recommend whole milk at least or it might be too thin)
1/2 cup - 1 cup chopped and diced vegetables such as onions, broccoli, tomatoes, spinach, kale, mushrooms, snap peas
2 cloves garlic OR 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder (or to taste)
fresh or dried parsley, basil, chives
~2 tablespoons butter


1) Start pasta water. Begin preparing vegetables and any fresh herbs or garlic.

2) When the pasta goes in, melt the butter in a small saucepan on medium heat. As soon as it starts to sizzle, add the diced onions and the garlic, fresh or powdered. Stir frequently.

Note: It's preferable that the pasta finish cooking before the sauce than the sauce before the pasta. The pasta sits better than the sauce.

3) Once the onions are translucent (don't stress how translucent, they'll be tasty either way) add the other vegetables and continue stirring until they are all cooked to your liking.

4) Take the saucepan off the heat and turn that same burner down to medium-low. Add the chevre to the pan and then pour in the milk or cream.

5) Put back on heat and mix the chevre in, being careful not to let the mixure boil. When the pasta is done and everything is mixed in, let the sauce just barely begin to bubble, then take off the heat and add to the pasta. Stir well, and eat well.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Apple Cake

This weekend, to celebrate our beautiful New England autumn, I went apple-picking! I have friends in New Hampshire, so I went north and picked up some Gala, Cortland, Honeycrisp, and McIntosh apples at Alyson’s Apple Orchard in Walpole, NH. Now I have bags of apples sitting in my suite, ready for eating, cooking, and baking.

I didn't want to make apple pie, apple crumble, or apple sauce- been there, done that. I ended up with a hybridization of an apple coffe cake that called for cake mix (the original recipe is here) and an actual cake recipe. The pre-packaged yellow cake mix saves on time a little, but you may or may not know (or want to know) what goes into it. This time I chose to make the yellow cake mixture from scratch: Both versions are shown below. The cake-mix version results in a slightly more coffee cake-like texture, while the scratch version produces a softer consistency.

Apple Cake


2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
3/4 cup milk


1 package (18.25 oz) yellow cake mix

4 large eggs
½ cup butter, softened
1 cup sour cream
1 package (3.4 oz) instant vanilla pudding mix
6 apples - peeled, cored and sliced thin (in the direction of your choice)
cinnamon, nutmeg, ground cloves, additional sugar (for sprinkling)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit

If you ARE NOT using the cake mix:

1. In a large mixing bowl combine the softened butter and 1 cup of sugar; blend together until smooth and fully mixed.
2. Add vanilla, ½ cup milk, eggs, and sour cream; blend well until smooth. Add flour, pudding mix, and baking powder; again, mix until smooth. Continue to step 3.

If you ARE using the cake mix:

3. Combine cake mix and pudding powder in mixing bowl.

4. Add eggs, butter, sour cream; mix until smooth.

5. If the batter is too thick (thicker than a thin pudding), add milk in very small amounts until the proper consistency is achieved. Do not add too much, or else it won’t cook properly.

6. Pour half of cake mix into a bundt pan or a baking pan/dish at LEAST 125 cubic inches- I used a too-small 9" cake pan out of desperation, and I didn't use all the batter. I went out the next day and bought a bigger glass baking dish- I'll make this again soon and update with any comments on that.

7. Sprinkle sugar and spices lightly over the batter in the pan; layer half or more of the apples on top of the spices, and sprinkle those with more sugar and spice.

8. Pour the other half of the batter on top of the apple layer. Layer remaining apples with sugar and spices on top of cake batter.

9. Bake in the preheated oven at 350 degrees F. for at least an hour- mine took about an hour and a half.

Due to the pudding mix, the texture comes out half-way between a cake and pudding, at least in the full version. My suite-mates liked it a lot, and it gets even better after it sits for a day or so at room temperature. Also, the cake may sink a little after being removed from the oven, so if you really hate that and plan on making this repeatedly, consider reducing the baking powder to 1 tsp.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Brownie Blues

I can cook nearly anything I have so far set my mind to. I've made up recipes.






These are dry and thin and not good enough.

Maybe it's because I use raw sugar?

I just don't know...

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Brief Cessation of Blog Antics?!?!

My roomies moved in this week, and we're still sorting the place out. They managed to completely destroy my kitchen order :(.

I will post another entry by Monday, see you then :).

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Half-Wheat Chocolate Chip Mini-Muffins

I made some wonderful fresh home fries for dinner tonight (as opposed to using leftover potatoes) with red, orange and yellow peppers and onions and scallions, cooked in leftover bacon fat, but all in all this is not a new taste sensation. I did venture into butter-making over the past couple of days, and following Melissa Kronenthal's directions over at The Traveler's Lunchbox I made cultured butter. Yummy! I am definitely going to continue making this in the future. A very comprehensive butter-making guide is available here.

After dinner, though, my sweet tooth kicked in, but the only chocolate I have in the house at the moment is my 85% dark- which I love but does not satisfy the need for sugar- and chocolate chips. Generally I'm loathe to use chocolate chips outside of baking, indeed it's why I keep them around, so I thought a little. I made chocolate chip cookies last week, let's make something different...

Then I remembered that I'd never used my bargain mini-muffin pan, and so I saddled up Firefox to find a recipe. Most chocolate chip muffin recipes are not for mini muffins, and as I'm terrible with and mistrustful of baking times I wanted one specifically for minis. I picked the first one I came upon and ran with it, but I altered it substantially to suit my tastes, including the use of some whole wheat flour, turbinado sugar for white sugar, and reducing the sugar content,* although I did sprinkle a little turbinado on top for a nice crunch.

I only have one mini-muffin tray, so I ended up putting that one tray in three times. True to form, I put the first tray in the oven, turned around, and almost ran into the cutting board with the chocolate chips still on it. I quickly pulled the tray out and tossed a few on top of each, and they turned out fine, if a little less blended than planned. The second tray, well, less importantly I forgot the sugar on top, but more importantly I forgot to respray it with oil, making that tray a heap of mini-muffin mush. Heh. Minimuffinmush.

The third tray, though, came out perfectly, as shown above.

They turned out wonderfully, in the end- nice and crisp on the outside but delightfully moist within. The are VERY light and fluffy, so if you want denser muffins perhaps reduce the baking powder and soda content. Say hi to my new favourite muffin recipe- although I think I may prefer them with the chocolate chips on top.

And without further ado, the recipe.

Half-Wheat Chocolate Chip Mini-Muffins

~3 dozen mini-muffins

1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup wheat flour
3/4 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. soda
1/3 cup softened butter
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup turbinado (raw) sugar
1.5 tsp. pure vanilla
2 eggs
1/3 cup + 2 TB buttermilk (milk can substitute in a pinch)
2/3 c. sour cream
1 cup mini or chopped-up chocolate chips

extra turbinado sugar for sprinkling

Set oven to 350 degrees F. Grease muffins tin(s).

Combine butter, sugars, vanilla, eggs, 1/3 cup buttermilk, and sour cream in a large mixing bowl, mixing thoroughly. Mix in baking powder, sugar, and flours until smooth. If the mixture is too thick, add extra buttermilk gradually until almost thin enough to pour.

Gently dollop the tins about 3/4 full with dough. Sprinkle with a little bit of turbinado sugar. Bake for 15 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean.

*I almost always reduce the sugar content of any simple baked item I make before I even try it, because a little goes a very long way. This recipe reflects my reduction.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Beanito? Beanito!

I had friends over today- specifically my sister S and my best friend A. When I asked what they wanted for dinner, A. thinks for a minute and goes, "Didn't you just buy some refried beans? And taco wraps?", all the while looking at me winningly. So I caved, and without much Tex-Mex (or even Mex, for that matter) in the kitchen, I improvised.

Canned refried beans (Ortega, surprisingly, was the only brand at my local grocery store without any hydrogenated fats*) and shredded cheddar cheese baked at 350 degrees F for fifteen minutes, with more cheese sprinkled on them during the last two minutes and dolloped with sour cream before serving. They remind me of the 42-cent burritos I survived on one summer, except I know what went into these ;).

*Some brands had hydrogenated lard! Hydrogenating lard is almost redundant... honestly, what's the point?

Saturday, August 18, 2007


I just made a fabulous burger for dinner- grass-fed organic beef on the best artisanal multigrain I've ever tasted (and I've been friends with the baker and the baker's daughter for years), lightly toasted, with raw-milk Vermont Monterey Jack, fresh sauteed local onions, and a little bit of organic mustard.

Unfortunately, I got to it before the camera did.

Next time, I promise!

My First Experience With Quinoa

I finally made it down to the natural foods store walkable from my dorm, and picked up a whole bunch of fruits and veggies- local and organic carrots, peppers, cucumber, alfalfa sprouts, onions, grapes, strawberries... I love summertime only because even expensive city produce goes for a reasonable price as fresh local produce gluts the market, and this little store is no exception. Now to use it all!

While I was there I picked up some quinoa, which I've heard so much about recently on the food blog rounds. I like it- plain it has a very light, kind of nutty taste, and this morning I made a light quinoa an veggie salad, as pictured above. Unfortunately most of the veggies are hiding in that picture, so here's another one:

See? Veggies!

Here's how I made it, although it's so easy it's barely worth a recipe, and next time I'll increase all of the veggie quantities:

Basic Quinoa Salad


Cooked quinoa measured at 1/2 cup pre-cooking
1 carrot
1/4 cup red bell pepper (colour is up to you, or even a mix)
1/4 cup alfalfa sprouts
3 scallions
2 tb mayonnaise
2 tb whole-fat yoghurt


Chop up all of the vegetables into small pieces- how small is up to you.

Mix veggies, mayo, and yoghurt. Salt to taste.

See, that was really difficult, now wasn't it?


I'm a university student who loves to make food- but college and cooking aren't know to mix well! Watch as I feed my suite-mates and make a mess of this glorious new kitchen-

-which I now call my own.

Being a computer science major, perhaps food and the classroom won't coincide as much as I'd like, but I can always hope. :)