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Gonzo Gourmands, Frugal Foodies & Crazy Culinarians

Dishing Out What Food Lovers Really Crave

News and discussion on all subjects concerning food: the food industry, chefs, celebrity chefs, culinary luminaries, heritage breeds, natural/organic/sustainable foods, craft beers brewers/soda makers, artisnal purveyors, cookware/tableware/kitchenware, cooking gadgets/equipment, food porn, and more!

Gonzo Gourmands, Frugal Foodies & Crazy Culinarians - Dishing Out What Food Lovers Really Crave

David Chang’s Two Minute Chocolate Mug Cake

Two Minute Chocolate Mug Cake
From Lucky Peach Magazine, Issue 3
Makes 1 or 2 servings (depending if you’ll share)

3 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 tablespoons whole milk
1 large egg
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 tablespoons (20 grams) flour
4 tablespoons (45 grams) sugar
2 tablespoons (10 grams) unsweetened cocoa powder
Pinch salt
3 tablespoons (30 grams) semi-sweet chocolate chips

In a medium sized microwave-safe mug, add the vegetable oil, whole milk, egg, and vanilla extract. Use a fork or small whisk to mix until combined. Add the flour, sugar, cocoa, and salt and mix until combined. Stir in the chocolate chips.

Bake in the microwave on high for two minutes. Serve immediately.

Three Minute Chocolate Mug Cake

I’ve also included a version from the UK courtesy of BBC Radio 2 (metric equivalents included) picture courtesy of WritingOurWayHome.com blog
[Note: this one differs slightly from David Chang’s recipe by using 4 tbs of self-rising flour microwaved at 3 minutes, as opposed to David Chang’s 3 tbs of regular flour and microwaved at 2 minutes.]

Ingredients
4 tbs / 45g self-raising flour
4 tbs / 55g caster sugar
2 tbs / 17g cocoa powder
1 egg
3 tbs / 43 mls milk
3 tbs / 25 mls sunflower oil
3 tablespoons chocolate chips (optional)
A small dash of vanilla extract
1 large coffee mug
Double cream or creme fraiche – optional for serving (it’s not the same without cream…..)

* Add dry ingredients to the mug, and mix well. Add the egg and mix thoroughly.
* Add the milk and oil – mix well (don’t forget the corners / edges of the mug).
*Add the chocolate chips (if using) and vanilla extract, and mix again.
* Put your mug in the microwave and cook for 3 minutes (in a 1000 watt microwave). The cake will rise above the top of the mug, don’t worry it’s supposed to! Allow to cool a little, tip out onto a plate.
* Serve with fresh double cream, crème fraiche or custard. Serves two.
* EAT and enjoy!

One Minute Coffee Cake in a Mug

One Minute Coffee Cake in a Mug

ChocolateCoveredKatie.com created this low calorie version of One Minute Coffee Mug Cake, which has 1/4 the calories of 720 calorie version elsewhere on Pinterest.

Coffee Cake for One!

For the batter:

  • 3 tbsp spelt flour (or white. For Gluten Free: a commenter had success with 1 tbsp rice flour and 2 tbsp almond flour.)
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/16 tsp salt
  • 1 stevia packet (or 1/32 tsp pure) or 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tablespoon plus 2 tsp water
  • 2 tsp oil or melted margarine or applesauce (I prefer the oil/margarine, but that’s simply because I’m not a fan of fat-free baked goods.)
  • 1/4 tsp pure vanilla extract

For the streusel: (If you like a lot of streusel, feel free to double all ingredients below.)

  • 1/8 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 and 1/4 tsp sucanat or brown sugar
  • 1/4 to 1/2 tsp oil or melted margarine (once again, use applesauce if a fat-free version is desired)
  • tiny, tiny pinch salt
  • 2 pecan halves (or walnut halves)

(If using an oven, preheat to 330 F.) Combine batter dry ingredients and mix well. Add wet and mix until just mixed. In a tiny bowl, combine all streusel ingredients. Fill a greased muffin tin 1/2 way with the batter (or a ramekin or mug, if using the microwave). Sprinkle on two-thirds of the streusel, then spoon the remaining batter on top. Finally, sprinkle on the rest of the streusel. Cook 12-13 minutes in the oven, or around 1 minute in the microwave. (Microwave times may vary.)

Non-Rice Vermicelli in Chili Oil, Soy Sauce & Vinegar

Born in Shanghai and raised in New Mexico, Chichi Wang currently resides in Manhattan, where she divides her time between writing, cooking, and tracking down the best noodles in the city. Visit her blog, Mostly Tripe.

Ingredients

  • 6 ounces mung bean or sweet potato vermicelli
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons chili oil
  • 1 tablespoon light soy sauce
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons Chinkiang vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 to 2 tablesoons tahini, optional
  • 3 tablespoons roasted peanuts, roughly chopped
  • 2 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

Procedures

  1. Bring a pot of water to boil. If you are using mung bean vermicelli: add vermicelli to the boiling water and remove pot from heat. Soak until they are softened but not mushy, 3 to 5 minutes. Drain vermicelli and rinse under cold running water. Set aside. If you are using sweet potato vermicelli: cook the vermicelli in the boiling water according to the instructions on the package, about 7 to 15 minutes depending on the width of the noodle. Drain vermicelli and rinse under cold running water. Set aside.
  2. Meanwhile, combine chili oil, soy sauce, chinkiang vinegar, sugar, salt, and tahini in a large bowl and whisk until homogenous. Add noodles and toss to coat. Top with chopped peanuts, scallions, and cilantro. If served cold, mung bean noodles may be made an hour or so in advance and refrigerated. Served either hot or cold, sweet potato noodles may be served made a day in advance and refrigerated until you are ready to eat.

To serve hot: Reheat noodles in a saucepan over medium heat after dressing them, adding liquid as necessary to prevent the sauce from drying out or scorching.

Culinary Exploration Through Food

Anthony Bourdain, Andrew Zimmern, and Adam Richman have all made careers on the Travel Channel, introducing viewers to the cultures of countries abroad and on our own domestic turf through food. Just as there are differences in the styles of barbeque that come from local cultural influences within our country, there are localized cultural differences in other countries that influence their cuisines as well. In this section, I will occasionally interject some of the cultural history associated the recipes shared here.

For instance, in Poland, the northern region closer to the Baltic Sea has more seafood dishes, particularly dishes with carp and herring. Whereas the northeastern and northwestern regions have more hog farms and pork dishes. Poles made kasha (groats) from millet, lentils, barley, oats and buckwheat. The west and southern mountain area was where a lot of beets and ubiquitous potatoes were grown. You may find it hard to believe, but the predominance of potatoes found in Polish cuisine, like in much of Europe, did not come about until after Columbus found America. Below is an easy, delicious recipe for a Polish comfort food classic made with potatoes, onions & cheese. This dish is also an economical budget stretcher and perfect for “Meatless Monday.”

Homemade Polish Pierogi

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups flour, plus extra for kneading and rolling dough
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup sour cream, plus extra to serve with the pierogi
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened and cut into small pieces
  • butter and onions for sauteing
  • ingredients for filling of your choice (potato & cheese filling recipe below)

Pierogi Dough
To prepare the pierogi dough, mix together the flour and salt. Beat the egg, then add all at once to the flour mixture. Add the 1/2 cup sour cream and the softened butter pieces and work until the dough loses most of its stickiness (about 5-7 minutes). You can use a food processor with a dough hook for this, but be careful not to overbeat. Wrap the dough in plastic and refrigerate for 20-30 minutes or overnight; the dough can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. Each batch of dough makes about 12-15 pierogies, depending on size.

Potato, Cheese & Onion Filling:
Peel and boil 5 large potatoes until soft. Red potatoes are especially good for this. While the potatoes are boiling, finely chop 1 large onion and saute in butter until soft and translucent. Mash the potatoes with the sauted onions and 4-8oz of grated cheddar cheese (depending on how cheesy you want your pierogies), adding salt and pepper to taste. You can also add some fresh parsley, bacon bits, chives, or other enhancements if you desire. I like to reduce the potatoes from 5 down to 3, and substitute 1.5 cups each of shredded cabbage & carrots sauteed in butter or vegetable oil. Let the potato mixture cool and then form into 1″ balls.

Prepare the Pierogies
Roll the pierogi dough on a floured board or countertop until 1/8″ thick. Cut circles of dough (2″ for small pierogies and 3-3 1/2″ for large pierogies) with a cookie cutter or drinking glass. Place a small ball of filling (about a tablespoon) on each dough round and fold the dough over, forming a semi-circle. Press the edges together with the tines of a fork.

Boil the perogies a few at a time in a large pot of water. They are done when they float to the top (about 8-10 minutes). Rinse in cool water and let dry.

Saute chopped onions in butter in a large pan until onions are soft. Then add pierogies and pan fry until lightly crispy. Serve with a side of sour cream for a true Pittsburgh pierogi meal.

Homemade Pierogi Tips:

  1. If you are having a hard time getting the edges to stick together, you may have too much flour in the dough. Add a little water to help get a good seal.
  2. If you don’t want to cook all of the pierogies right away, you can refrigerate them (uncooked) for several days or freeze them for up to several months.
  3. You can fill pierogies with pretty much anything you want, though potato and cheese is the most common.

Sources

Halvorsen, Francine. Eating Around the World in Your Neighborhood.
New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1998.

Nowakowski, Jacek, and Marlene Perrin. Polish Touches: Recipes and Traditions. Iowa City: Penfield Press, 1996.

Urban-Klaehn, Jagoda article #299. Retrieved August 5, 2012 from http://culture.polishsite.us/articles/art299fr.htm

Retrieved August 7, 2012 from http://www.polandforvisitors.com/travel_poland/polish_food

Retrieved August 7, 2012 fromhttp://pittsburgh.about.com/od/recipes/r/pierogies.htm

Retrieved August 7, 2012 from http://www.tastingpoland.com/food/history_of_cuisine.html

3 Simple Tips Can Save You Hundreds of Dollars Each Year!

If you are buying fast food for lunch and/or dinner, buying your whole chickens already cut up, or if you always depend on the grocery shelf placement marketing to tell you what the best deals are  – – then you can save hundreds of dollars by following these 3 tips.

#1. Plan your meals by what is on sale at the grocery store.  If you plan your meals, then you are less likely to impulse buy at the grocery store or spend it on high calorie, unhealthy fast food.  Spending $10 at the grocery store on some type of meat/poultry, vegetables, and starch can provide 4 healthy meals instead of 2 small fast food combos.  By spending that same $10 on what was currently on sale at 2 grocery stores:  a whole roasted chicken on sale for $5, 2 bags of frozen vegetables at $.88 each, and 1 baguette $1.59.  I was left with $1.65 for a litre of generic soda, bottled water, or cookies for dessert.  So, without really cooking (other than microwaving the frozen veggies), you have 4 quarter chicken meals with sides and drink.  You can actually add more sides, increase the portion size, or stretch that $10 into even more meals if you are willing to do some very simple cooking!  Which leads me to my 2nd rule.

#2. Buy whole chickens on sale.  I love it when whole chickens go on sale for $.59 or $.69 cents per pound.  I always buy the limit, put some in the freezer, and go back another day and get more before the sale is over.  On a trip to the grocery store with my parents, I’ve actually gone in a separate check-out line from them so we could each buy up the limit of chickens.  We know the markets really don’t care, but we think its great fun making a big show of pretending we don’t know each other and acting surprised when we meet at the car! 

You can actually buy 2 raw whole chickens for the same price as that whole roasted chicken on sale mentioned in Tip #1 above.  If you don’t know how, or don’t want to spend the time roasting a whole chicken, then here is the world’s easiest way to cook a whole chicken.  This technique was most memorably introduced by the late Jeff Smith, known in the 1980’s as the “Frugal Gourmet” and de-frocked Methodist minister.  It’s great for people with a short attention span or if you’re heavily multi-tasking at home.  If you can boil water, you can cook a whole chicken.

Chinese Boiled Whole Chicken
Put cleaned (take stuff inside of chicken out) and rinsed, uncut whole chicken in stock pot, and fill pot with cold water until chicken is covered completely.  Take chicken out of stock pot.  Cover pot with lid, put on burner, and bring to vigorous boil.  Once boiling, put chicken back in pot.  When the chicken causes the water temp to drop low enough to stop the water from boiling, take the chicken out.  Once the pot comes to a vigorous boil again, put the chicken back in, cover pot and turn off heat.  Leave covered pot on burner with chicken in water.  After 1 hour, your chicken will be ready to use for sandwiches, enchiladas, Drunken Chicken, lasagna, pot pie, etc.

By buying chickens  whole on sale and cutting them up yourself, you can save $2 – $4 per pound, or, an average of $3 per pound.  So let’s take the average of $3 per pound savings times one 2.5 lb. chicken eaten once a month. That comes out to a savings of $7.50 per month. ($3 x 2.5lbs. = $7.50)   In a year, that’s $7.50/month x 12 months = $90 savings per year!  But really, who eats chicken only once per month?!?  Most families eat chicken at least 3 – 4 times per month.  So that figure then turns into a savings of  $270 – $390 per year!


Here is a video of Chef Martin Yan showing how he can cut up a whole chicken in 18 seconds!

#3. Always compare prices – – use that cell phone!  Most people are aware that supermarkets have a very small profit margin on many items, so they are very deliberate in their product placement.  Items or brands that are more profitable, are at eye level and within easy reach.  Those items that are less profitable are on the top and lower shelves, where they are harder to reach.  It’s just a matter of simple math to figure out the best value in canned or packaged items by taking the price and dividing it by units of measurement.  Ounces for most items, and milliliters for the rest.  In most cases these days, supermarkets have done the math for you.  However, that is not always the case, and I’ll tell you why.

I was looking at three different sized cans of the same beans of the same very well-advertised brand on the shelf of one of the top three largest grocery chains in Southern California.  The largest can was highlighted with a “on SALE” shelf sign and as expected, the per ounce cost of the largest can was definitely cheaper than the smallest can.  However, the middle sized can only had the total price of the can showing on the shelf label.  By taking a moment with my cell phone to divide the cost of the can by its ounces, I found out that the middle sized can was actually cheaper than the larger can on sale!  So always compare the cost per ounce to determine the best deal, don’t depend on the markets to steer you to the best deal, and remember that bigger is not always better!

Also, don’t fool yourself into thinking that Costco is always cheaper.  Costco is usually cheaper for most household items.  Keep an eye on the luxury food items in bulk though.  For instance, I once saw a 3 wheel pack of brie that looked like a good price.  However, there were no per ounce or per pound shelf labels to allow comparison.  By using my cell phone to quickly divide the total cost by the total ounces and multiplying the resulting number by sixteen, I figured the cost per pound.  Their per pound cost for brie was definitely higher than what I had paid for a single wheel at Trader Joe’s.

Bottom line to saving money is to be aware of the per ounce or pound price points where “on sale” items become good deals.  That calculator on your phone could help you save you money than any coupon you clip!