November 24, 2009

Monday Snack 1

The simple shame of At Hand Cooking is that often you don't have enough to make full meal for everybody unless A. You are incredibly lucky with what happens to be around or B. You are only cooking for yourself. It takes alot of practice with At Hand to really be able to make something for nothing in the form of an actual meal for one than one person, and is a skill I'm still developing.

However, on the reverse side of At Hand Cooking, is the beauty that is making snacks. You don't need alot of food, you don't need to fill anyone completely, your options are damn near boundless if you have something crunchy around, and everyone will love you for the effort.

This particular snack was made last night so late that I unfortunately did not get this up yesterday as I had planned. In fact, I didn't get up this morning as planned either... but that really is a story for some other time.

All I had this time around was:

1. 2 Handfuls of Sharp Cheddar, shredded
2. Tortilla chips, the scoop variety, not in picture.
3. Black pepper,
4. Cayenne powder
5. Garlic powder.

Obviously, quick microwave nachos were in order. However, good microwave nachos are considerably more difficult to make then just throwing cheese on chips and calling it a day. Oh no, there is a bit more too it.

1. Put the cheese into a bowl, and sprinkle black pepper in. Mix throughly.
2. Repeat step one with the cayenne and the garlic powder. The amount of each is entirely up to you, but generally speaking you want more garlic powder than black pepper than cayenne in this case, otherwise the tastes will be dominated by the cayenne.
3. Place chips on a microwave safe plate, sprinkling cheese/spice mixture across nachos. I personally like a little nacho with my melted cheese, but a nice middle ground if you are serving others is to sprinkle the cheese in a single layer cross the chips, and then once again, so you can still see plenty of chip, but plenty is hidden by unmelted cheesy goodness.
4. Microwave the whole thing, covered, for around a minute. Much more than that and you end up with the cheese looking awfully cratered.
5. Eat immediately. As mentioned in my quesadillas recipe, cheese does not retain heat at all.

Either serve on their own on the plate you cooked them on, or maybe bring out some salsa or sour cream to top them off.

My batch, as you can see, turned out a little on the cratery side, as I cooked them a wee bit too long. However, they were still delicious, with my band mates remarking on them being surprisingly tasty. The garlic taste kinda melds with the cheese and the corn of the chip to make a new taste that is certainly very nachoey. They smell something like Mexican inspired garlic bread.

These took about 3 minutes of prep, and a little over a minute of cooking. They are fast, easy, and a definite crowd pleaser. At some point I'll do my super ridiculous take way to much time nachos, but for now these will have to do.


EDIT: It's Tuesday, so I'm going to post this to BlesswithGrace's Tempt my Tummy Tuesday . Thanks BWG for running this carnival! Go check out the others over there. Really neat food.

November 20, 2009

Foodie Friday 1! Light, fluffy, cheesy goodness

Hey folks!

First actual recipe post. Many thanks to Designs by Gollum for hosting this Foodie Friday thing. Really neat idea. Blog Carnivals are cool. Lots of really neat ideas over there. Check it out.

So.... At Hand Cooking. Today's random assortment of kitchen denizens:

4 ounces of milk.
2 eggs
A bottle of taco sauce
Whole Wheat Tortillas
Taco Spice
Mexican cheese
Sour cream

Looking at these, I could only come to one conclusion. Quesadillas.
I'm gonna apologize right now... I don't own a digital camera, and the pictures were taken from a phone by a friend. That being said, I don't have as many 'in progress' photos as I probably should.... but I'll fix that at some point.

Anyway, on to making those delicious cheesy wonders.

The Experiment:

1. Grab your ingredients, and also grab a skillet and a round, shallow dish with high sides. This dish must be big enough to hold your quesadilla laying flat. As does the skillet. You may also want to grab a whisk and measuring cup.

2. Put the skillet on and melt about 1 tablespoon of butter into the pan. Keep the heat low. By the time you are ready to throw things into the pan, the butter will have spread out, and the pan will be just right in heat. Keep an eye on it though. Nothing worse than accidentally nudging a hot skillet.

3. Put the cheese into a bowl. For every handful of cheese, put a big pinch of taco spice and mix them thoroughly.

4. Break the two eggs into a bowl. Pour the milk over the eggs, and mix them thoroughly. A drop of taco sauce into this mixture is optional, and gives the quesadillas as a whole a slightly heavier, but also slightly spicier taste.

5. Pour the egg-milk mixture into the shallow dish. Dip a tortilla into the mix, covering it entirely.

6. Lay the tortilla into the now hot skillet. Sprinkle cheese to taste (I made my quesadillas really thick, but that's not everyone's cup of tea) on one half of the tortilla. Fold tortilla half that is un-cheesed over the cheesed side. Then hands off for about a minute.

7. Using a spatula or other implement of flipness, turn the not quite quesadilla over. Let that sit for another solid minute.

8. Flip twice more, or until both sides are browned in the center and somewhat crispy looking near the edges. Also, there should be a ballooning effect that makes the whole thing look something like a warty toad when seen from the side.

9. Move quesadilla to paper plate or towel to drain excess buttery outside goodness off.

10. Eat immediately. Cheese does not retain heat nearly long enough to be complacent about it. Serving with more taco sauce and a bit of sour cream rounds out the taste of the quesadilla.

Total time: About 5 minutes a quesadilla once all ingredients were on standby.

This one actually worked out really well. The melt was perfect, the tastes complete, and the texture this side of awesome. They were surprisingly light, further helped along by the sour cream.

The real hero here was the egg/milk mixture which I tried on a whim after reading about using milk to make eggs easier to work with. Whole wheat tortillas, which have none of the lightness associated with their corn made cousin, are generally a little on the tough, vaguely jerky side of the flat bread world. The milk/egg mixture made them behave like their corn based cousin, and took some of that awful full force whole wheat flavor that is so unwelcome in tortillas right out of them. It also lengthened the time it took to cook each side, and kept the cheese from passing that delicious melty point to just stringy and gross, like burnt mac&cheese.

The only thing that I'm distressed about is that I simply had zero meat of any kind. Some chicken would have been excellent. Ah well, such is life with only cooking with what's immediate.

I'm open to any suggestions related to quesadillas. Ideas that people have for their prep, or experiences you've had making them. They are a wonderful at hand food, as they are so simple to make.


Ugly Soup! Adventures in At Hand Cooking

Hey folks, and welcome to Ugly Soup!

What is Ugly Soup? What is At Hand Cooking? Both are fairly simple, and what I hope to better explore in this blog. Let's break those questions apart.

What is Ugly Soup? In the most basic sense, Ugly Soup is just that: hideous, unappealing to look at food of the brothy and stuff-in-broth-y variety. But to a certain extent it is far more complicated. Ugly Soup is not just soup. Instead, it is a broad term to describe any food made for taste and fulfillment instead of for aesthetics. Certain amounts of Ugly Soup are consumed by everybody. We all eat that one thing that someone across a lunch table has looked at and did the 'What are you eating?' face of dread. The face that suggests that the facemaker's greatest fear is that you will leap cross the table and stuff the food into their mouth. But that is a conversation for another day. Ugly Soup is food made without care for anything other than taste.

Which brings us to question two. What is At Hand Cooking? Why, it is how to make Ugly Soup of course! At Hand Cooking is the practice of using whatever food, and if at all possible all the food, available in any given kitchen to make a meal. At Hand Cooking's ingredients are not specifically bought from the grocery. At Hand Cooking's ingredients are not always raw. At Hand Cooking's ingredients are not often associated with each other. At Hand Cooking's ingredients, when listed back to a fellow, often result in the gagging of those not exposed to such cuisine. At Hand Cooking is the art of making something from almost nothing. It is something often practiced, but little explored.

Ugly Soup's mission is simple. To create fine, wonderful tasting food, with whatever I have. No matter how horrible or vaguely alive it may appear.