Well, a while ago I said I would upload more of my cooking experiences, and I promised one of my students a new blog post tonight, so here goes...
Amidst the McDonald's drive thru experiences (apparently Chris and I are not the only people in the world who call/text the person sitting next to them?!), Rosetta Stone milestones, and other miscellany, I have been doing things. Many of them having something to do with the oven.
Our story begins after the pigs in a blanket were gone (and probably digested)...but before we lost power for over 24 hours, which killed the small amount of yeast remaining in my fridge. (That was MISERABLE!! Especially since it happened twice in the span of 3 days).
Anyway, after the spectacular outcome with the pigs I decided to make another recipe that was sent to me, pizza dough. Pizza is probably my favorite food, I really think I could eat it every day and not get tired of it. You would think that would be because I could have it a different way every time, but really (remember the plain family thing?) all I like is cheese. Thin crust, thick (or Felix and Oscar's Chicago Style...oh, heaven!) crust, brick oven or plastic-y mall court, I love love LOVE cheese pizza. (I have branched out slightly since coming to Honduras--the other day I ordered cheese and corn pizza--the lady looked at me like I was crazy ("¿Maiz y queso solo?") but I assure you, it was delicious.)
I have made my own home-made pizza before, but I've always "cheated"--either I've purchased a pre-made pre-baked crust and thrown on sauce and cheese and baked it for a bit, or I've used the Jiffy-brand pizza crust mix. Down here? It was from scratch or bust! :)
Here is a link to the recipe I used, courtesy of allrecipes.com (although it was originally sent to me by a friend).
And here is a picture of the final product:
Yep, I baked that on a 9x13 pan. Toppings: refried bean sauce (really, just the beans), quesillo, shredded mozzarella, tomatoes, onion, minced garlic, and sour cream 'n onion taquitos for some crunch. Spread a little melted butter on the crust and you're good to go!
Apparently I took zero other pictures of the pizza-making process, but fear not, this was not the only baking I did before the sad demise of the yeast.
On one of the days of my (lovely) 5-day Independence Day break, Chris and I were watching some morning television and saw an ad for Dunkin Donuts or Krispy Kreme or something. Chris got a sudden craving for the sweets, and I was all ready to run to the Dunkin store (about 500 ft from our apartment), but he thought it might be fun to make them instead.
As he was working, and I was not [ :) ], it fell to me to make them. I looked online for a recipe, and found out a lot of things I didn't know about doughnuts before...like that you're supposed to use something called a doughnut pan to make them?! or fry them, which sounds 1) even more fatty than just a regular doughnut, and 2) dangerous. I ended up blending this recipe for baked doughnuts and this recipe for cake doughnuts based on the ingredients and pans I had on hand and what looked delicious.
First I set the yeast out to foam and mixed the dry ingredients. I don't like nutmeg, so we have none in the house. Therefore, I just used cinnamon. I was very happy with the way the dough rose...here is a pic of the fluffy dough:
After all that work, Chris came out and played with the dough...and then decided he wanted to help make the doughnuts after all...After we got the dough rolled out to the thickness we wanted, we realized the recipes called for some sort of cutter that we didn't have...so we used our Yankee ingenuity!
The pilsner was my idea; the bottle cap his! What a great team we make! :)
The doughnuts rose quite a bit, and ended up looking pretty nice:Half of them I dipped in a glaze that I made from milk, powdered sugar, and vanilla, and the other half I dipped in butter and rolled in cinnamon and sugar. Both were pretty good, although I think we both liked the cinnamon and sugar better...Don't be fooled by the pained expression--he is reacting to eating a too-hot doughnut, not the flavor (I think!) :)
After about 2 doughnuts apiece (ok, so maybe Chris had 2 or 3 (times) that many) we decided that we had WAY too many and took some down to the Hondurans who watch our door (I think they liked them, too). Chris had one the next day with his coffee and said it was ok the next day too.
There was one final yeast-based food I was able to make before the great electricity snafu of 2010. Remember at the beginning of last month when I asked if anyone knew of any Indian restaurants in the city? Well, I am sad to report that none of you did, but Chris and I did find a brand of pre-made Indian food that we LOVED to eat in the States (It's called Kitchens of India, and it is GREAT!) at Mas x Menos. (Side note: I wasn't overly impressed with MxM...I felt like a lot of the things you could get there were available at other stores like Stock or even La Colonia or Pais for less money, but having a wide variety of Kitchens of India goodness kind of redeemed them.)
So, armed with Indian deliciousness (Chris did try to make a lentil curry once before while we were down here...it was...green. And, ok. We can't really find most of the spices you need to make it taste authentic here) and rice we decided to make it the real deal and make naan. I used this recipe (thanks again, allrecipes.com!), one I hadn't used before (I used to make naan in the States, but I used yogurt or sour cream instead of yeast. It's easier! I have 2 Indian cookbooks sitting in a tub in my parents' basement in Osky...not much help to me now!)
One thing I have to say: if you are going to use this recipe and you're not going to have more than 10 people eating with you, halve it. It makes A TON of naan!
**UPDATE: We made naan again tonight, with the recipe halved, and we still got 12 pieces of bread out of it...SO, halving it is definitely suggested...maybe even quartering it (although, who doesn't like leftover naan!)**
Here is the naan in 3 stages...in the middle are the rising globs of goo that seemed to never end, all the way to the left is the rolled out naan ready for the pan, and to the far right in the pan is the delicious-smelling garlicy naan goodness:And here is a picture of dinner the next day (we stupidly started making the naan at like, 6pm, and it had to rise...twice...so we had day-old naan with our Indian...and, if you allow me to brag for a minute, it was still quite excellent!) Curry may not look like the most appetizing thing, but boy is it good! :)
Since the power outage (due to the much-feared and major blowout Tropical Storm Matthew and other unavoidable rain-related issues) I've stuck to more simple dishes: meatloaf, cake (I did make my own chocolate frosting for that...yum!) and baked potatoes. Certainly nothing worth blogging about.
Obviously I have done other things than cook...like a museum tour of downtown Tegucigalpa, for example, but it is getting late and I have to make sure that I'm totally ready for school tomorrow before I go to bed. I promise, I will get around to blogging that trip soon...it was GREAT! :)
"And now you know...the rest of the story!" (RIP Paul Harvey!)
PS: If you have no idea what I'm referring to with the Paul Harvey reference above, do yourself a big favor, click on his name and listen to the genius that was his iconic radio broadcasting style, then leave me a comment to tell me how much you enjoyed it!
It will change your life.
Or at least inform you.
Just do it.
What are you waiting for? :)