Friday, December 31, 2010

Champurrado


Also known as the CHOCOLATEY DELICIOUSNESS that was demanded to be posted by my oldest sister.

I found the recipe for this perfect wintery drink at Muy Bueno Cookbook. While I don't personally know a whole lot about authentic Mexican flavor, the drink tasted perfect to me. It was sweet yet spicy, and filling yet not too rich. Using corn flour to thicken balanced out the deep chocolate flavor. It didn't take a whole lot of effort to prepare, just a little time. If your sidewalks are piling with snow, I highly recommend this drink to warm chilled hands and fill empty tummies. If they aren't, well, I recommend it anyhow. 'Tis the season.


Thursday, December 30, 2010

Toffee Pecan Cookies

Poking around for a quick cookie recipe to feed hungry skiers, I settled on this one from Giada de Laurentis. A little more exciting than good old chocolate chip, but still in the cookie comfort zone. The ground oats really do things for the flavor - I'll have to remember to use that trick in other, future cookies.

I didn't change anything except using pecans instead of hazelnuts, 'cause they come chopped in a bag and it's a lazy kind of day, so I'll let you click through for the recipe. I should add, though, that if you ever find yourself baking in an unfamiliar kitchen with no mixer or food processor, this worked really well. Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Flourless Mexican Chocolate Cookies

Between the aforementioned mom's best friend (for gluten-eaters) and K herself (for gluten-haters), the Christmas cookie needs in this house are pretty much taken care of without any involvement by moi. But when a flight carrying both of your baby sisters home for the holidays is about to land, it feels like the house should smell like cookies. Chewy, fudgy, nutty cookies:

1 3/4 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup cocoa
1.5 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp cornstarch
1/4 tsp salt

2 egg whites
1 tsp vanilla

1 cup chopped & toasted pecans


Preheat oven to 300.

Mix the dry stuff (minus nuts) well. Add vanilla to egg whites, then gradually stir this into the dry until dough forms. Add the nuts.

Forms into balls and roll in powdered sugar (makes 15 cookies). Bake for 15 minutes, until crackled, being careful not to overbake. Keep these guys in a ziploc or they'll get crispy pretty quick.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Creamy Meyer Lemon Bars

Around here lemon season happens in December, but no matter how hard I try I associate lemon treats with spring and summer. Luckily for all of us, the combination of having done no Christmas baking and having four Meyer lemons fresh off a tree staring at me from my counter prompted me to set my seasonal confusion aside and and make a lemon bar rich and creamy enough for my, well, rich and creamy holiday tastes.

These thin Meyer lemon bars come together with only six ingredients, two of which are good for you. Four of which aren't. But who said I was counting?

Meyer Lemon Bars
As a base layer, I used a pie crust recipe from Karina, found here and also seen here. For the top layer of lemony goodness, I drew a little inspiration from the Pioneer Woman, who uses this approach in her more streusel like lemon crumb bars.


For your base layer, you'll need:

2 heaping cups of almond flour
2/3 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 T vanilla

For the lemon topping, you'll need:
1/2 cup fresh squeezed Meyer lemon juice (or any fresh squeezed lemon juice)
1 can of sweetened and condensed milk
2 T lemon zest

Preheat your oven to 325 F, and grease or line a 9x13 baking sheet. Mix together almond meal, brown sugar, butter, and vanilla. Transfer to pan and flatten to 1/2--1 inch height with fingers, in the shape of a rectangle. Crimp edges up with fingers to form a bit of a shelf.

Whisk lemon juice into sweetened and condensed milk. Slowly pour onto the crust, dust with lemon zest. Bake at 325 F for 25-30 minutes. Let cool and cut into squares.

I imagine these would be delicious chilled.

Christmas Wreath Cookies


...at about 4:00 pm, and there is already only one left. Someone even walked into my apartment begging for some after their roommate returned eating one. I'm gonna go ahead and say they were a pretty big hit, and they were simple and sweet.


A friend and I wanted to spend a lovely afternoon making Christmas treats, but wanted something rather easy. She was the one who suggested the recipe, so I Google'd it and found this. Below is the recipe for what we did, with slight modifications from the original. It yielded about 3 dozen sweet treats.

1 cup butter
8 cups mini marshmallows
2 1/2 teaspoons green food coloring (increased for a brighter, cheerier green)
2 teaspoons vanilla
7 cups cornflake cereal
red m&m's or red hot candies

Melt butter and marshmallows together in the microwave. Start on HIGH for 2 minutes, stir, put back in for 2 more, stir.

Move to the next steps quickly so that marshmallow doesn't begin to set up.

Add cereal, food coloring and vanilla. Butter hands so marshmallow doesn't stick to them. Mix together into a blob of gooey deliciousness. I've reduced the amount of cornflakes from what was called for because we liked them extra gooey, you may want to add more yourself.

Lay out parchment paper on a cookie sheet. Pick up a golf-ball sized blob, place on parchment paper, shape into wreath. Add m&m's or red hots for decorations according to taste preference. Let set (no refrigerator or oven necessary!) until ready.

The result is similar to a Rice Krispie treat, but gooier and with more Christmas cheer. :)


Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Shakshuka




I used to get this at a teeny Israeli restaurant right by my dorm at NYU Law which served only two dishes: hummus and shakshuka - both loaded with flavor, with tiny pickles and soft pita and tongue-blistering Turkish coffee on the side. When finals time came along in the icy New York winter, I'd go for the steaming-hot shakshuka; when it came around in the spring, a swirl of hummus with fava beans and hardboiled egg. Talk about brain food for vegetarians. Anyway:

You'll need:

4 Anaheim chilis, seeded and chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 28-oz can whole stewed tomatoes
6 roughly chopped cloves garlic

Olive oil, sugar, salt
Paprika, cumin, turmeric, cayenne
1 cup veggie broth

4 eggs

Toppings: Feta, fresh parsley
Sides: Pita, hummus, pickles

Soften the chilis, onion and garlic in olive oil with some salt and sugar in an oversize skillet, a wok, or a soup pot. Add about 2 tsp each cumin and turmeric , 1 TB paprika, and a few tsp of cayenne, for starters. (I added more of all 4 once taste-testing time came. This is no time to be shy with the spices.)

Break apart the tomatoes with your fingers as you add them (and their juice). If you don't think you have enough broth to cook down into a good stew, add some veggie broth. Let this all come to a boil with the lid on and simmer for 15 mins.

Then break the eggs carefully on top, and cook again till they're poached. Taste and adjust salt and spices.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Spiced Molassess Pie with Maple Whipped Cream

After three years of various people trying this spiced molasses pie, it was time for a post update. As it turns out, this pie is a delicious hit with everyone we know. However, it seems there should be two options for different palates. Below, you'll find a recipe for a strong, rich, not-so-sweet pie and a slightly modified recipe for those who prefer a very sweet holiday treat. 

A and I spent Wednesday afternoon making pies and Christmas wreaths. We made the same maple cream custard tart as last year, with no adjustments and no problems. Knowing that others were bringing more traditional pies, we also decided to have fun and make a strong, sugary molasses pie with gingerbread spices. I had a frozen Whole Foods gluten-free pie crust I wanted to use, although this could also be tasty with the almond meal crust we use for the maple cream tart.

After doing some googling, and coming up with a few recipes on forums, we came up with the following.

Option One: Spiced Molasses Pie with Maple Whipped Cream: Strong and Rich
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup blackstrap molasses
1 cup white sugar
Splash of apple cider vinegar
3 eggs (4 if your eggs are small)
1 T vanilla
1/4 tsp. salt
Nutmeg, cardamom, cinnamon, ground cloves to taste

Melt 1/2 cup butter, then simmer with 1/2 cup of blackstrap molasses, 1 cup of white sugar, and a splash of apple cider vinegar. Stir constantly. Remove from heat and slowly beat in 3 eggs, 1 T vanilla, 1/4 tsp. salt, and nutmeg, cardamom, cinnamon, and ground cloves to taste.

Pour filling into an unbaked pie shell and cook at 400 for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 and bake for 25 more minutes.

The molasses taste here will be rich and strong. To soften this a bit, and to make a prettier pie, pipe a thin layer of homemade maple whipped cream (1 cup heavy cream, 3 T maple syrup) over the top. The molasses lovers at your table will really enjoy slivers of the pie, especially with strong coffee or tea. The texture-soft and gooey-is beautiful, as is the color.

Option Two Modification: Spiced Molasses Pie with Cinnamon Whipped Cream: Sugary Sweet
For those who are entertaining a crowd that loves very sweet desserts, we recommend adding another 1/4 or 1/2 cup of sugar or reducing the molasses by 1/4 cup and replacing with a 1/4 cup of honey. With the sweeter version, we recommend topping with homemade cinnamon whipped cream rather than the maple! (Just add cinnamon to heavy cream prior to whipping.)








Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Easy Angelfood Cake

Again: Used to make all the time. Have terrible memory. Etc etc. Nothing revolutionary here, but if you need a go-to angelfood, this is it.

12 egg whites
1.5 tsp cream of tartar
1.5 c sugar, divided
1.5 tsp vanilla
1 tsp almond extract
1 c sifted cake flour
1/4 tsp salt

Beat the egg whites & C of T at high speed till foamy. Add 3/4 c of sugar a tablespoon at a time, beating constantly, till sugar is dissolved and egg whites are glossy and hold a peak. Beat in flavorings.

Sift together flour, 3/4 c sugar, and salt. Sift half of this over the beaten egg whites and fold in gently until JUST combined, then do the same with the other half. Bake at 375 in a bundt pan or brownie pan until springy.

(Hmm, looks like my forgotten recipes were 2 cookies, 2 soups, and 3 cakes. Cookies, soup, and cake!? Yes please!!!)

Ridiculous Rum Cake

My friend Jess made me this recipe from her Italian grandmother* who, it turns out, uses yellow cake mix in her baking. Fine by me. I am drooling just remembering it.

1 package yellow cake mix
1 small package instant vanilla pudding
1/2 c water
1/2 c oil
4 eggs
1/2 c white rum

Beat ingredients together for 3 min., pour into lightly greased & floured bundt pan, and bake 50-60 mins at 350.

Sauce:
1 c sugar
1 stick butter
1/2 c water

Cook for 2 mins and add 1/4 c white rum. Loosen center of cake w/knife when cooled, and pour sauce over it while still in the pan.

Good lord. Rummy.

*Or maybe it was her American mother. Either way, bless the woman.

Adzuki Chili

(Note: I make this in my pressure cooker, 'cause I have never once been organized enough to soak any beans overnight.) Adzuki beans are tiny and brick-red and kind of nutty! I love them!

1 cup adzuki beans, soaked overnight then simmered till tender (35 minutes or more) & drained.

4 TB butter
1 large chopped onion or equivalent amount of leeks
2 crushed garlic cloves
1 diced carrot

1 c broth
2 TB whole wheat flour
1 TB paprika
pinch cayenne
Salt & peppah
1 TB soy sauce
1 TB tomato paste + 1 can diced tomatoes

Fresh parsley to garnish

Heat the butter in the bottom of your soup pot and soften the onion in it. Add garlic and carrot and soften these, then stir in the flour and spices. Add the remaining ingredients (broth, soy sauce, tomato stuff), bring to a boil, and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the beans, adjust flavors, simmer gently for 20-25 mins, eat.

Rich Cream of Broccoli Soup

I am so glad I found this recipe again; it is getting dang cold and I need a big pot of it in my life. Also, I found it on a printout of an email I sent from my very first email address, which was - get this - s-j-p@excite.com. Seriously! I'm an oldster!

1-2 heads broccoli (or a large bunch of asparagus, or some artichoke hearts...)
4 red potatoes
1 onion
6 cloves garlic

4 TB butter
1/4 c flour
1 egg yolk
2 c milk

Salt & white pepper
Ground coriander
Any variety of mustard
(other possibilities: cardamom, chives, etc etc)

2 c (ish) broth
1 - 2 c grated cheese - 1/2 parmesan, 1/2 gruyere or cheddar

Chop and steam the veggies (you can steam the garlic cloves whole to avoid chopping, or chop finely and add at next step). Once soft, melt 1 TB butter in a deep frying pan and move 'em over there to get truly soft. They can stay on medium-low heat while you make a roux:

Melt 3 TB butter in bottom of soup pot, add flour. Beat the egg yolk in a bowl till foamy, add milk, then pour this into the soup pot once flour is golden and starting to bubble. Add spices and mustard. Cook, stirring frequently, till it thickens.

When veggies are quite soft, mash with potato masher, removing un-masheable bits (especially of onion.) Or toss them in the food processor, but don't over-process - you want some small chunks. Add these and the right amount of broth, then melt in the cheese, adjust spices, and simmer together.

Lentil Cookies (emphasis on "COOKIES")

Never has virtue tasted so good. This was an Alton Brown recipe, I think. (His measurements are in ounces with approximations of volume, of course. I just use the volumes.)

2 c whole-wheat pastry flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1.5 tsp cinnamon
.5 tsp allspice

1 c sugar
3/4 c butter (@ room temp)
1 egg
2 tsp vanilla
1.5 c lentil puree (= 2/3 cup dry lentils simmer for 30-40 minutes in 2 c water, pureed, and cooled)

1 c rolled oats
1 c each unsweetened coconut and dried fruit (I left these out but finely chopped dried cherries would probably be amazing)

Cream sugar and butter. Add (1) egg, then (2) vanilla and lentil puree until just combined. Mix the dry stuff (flour, bp, salt, spices) in a separate bowl, then add gradually. Stir in oats, fruit, and coconut. Drop 2-tsp sized balls onto parchment paper and bake for 15-17 mins at 375.

Lemon Cookies

When I went digging back through my dog-eared pile of paper recipes to find the Apricot Spice Cake, I dug out quite a few more that I'd completely forgotten about thanks to the internet. They need to be on this blog or I'll never remember to make them again. So brace yourselves.

For starters, these sweet, cake-like, sunny little guys are my favorite thing on the tray of Christmas cookies my (our!) mom's best friend brings over every year. Last year I finally wrote down the recipe:

1/2 c butter, softened
1 c sour cream
1.5 c sugar
2 eggs
.5 tsp baking soda
.5 tsp baking powder
.5 tsp salt
2 3/4 c flour
1 tsp vanilla (or 1/2 of vanilla and 1/2 of lemon extract)

Cream the sugar & butter. Mix in sour cream, then eggs & extract. Sift together the dry ingredients in a separate bowl, then add to the wet.

Chill for one hour, then drop by tablespoons onto parchment paper, and bake for 8 minutes at 400.

Frosting:
3 TB melted butter
3 TB milk
2 tsp lemon extract
Yellow food coloring
3 c powdered sugar

Mix all ingredients but the sugar, then add it gradually. Frost while warm.

(PS - if you can't has teh gluten, perhaps these little guys will suit your fancy?)

Apricot Spice Cake

This used to be my go-to dessert in college and law school, but I'd completely forgotten about it until I tried making Deb's Spiced Applesauce Cake. The cake was good, but rather dense and not as moist and spicy as I wanted. Clearly, somewhere in my mind, there was already a "Spice Cake" archetype lurking... and suddenly I remembered scouring the shelves of a Brooklyn bodega for apricot baby food:

Dry:
2 c flour
2 c sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon (make the teaspoons of spices generous)
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp cloves
.5 tsp baking powder

Wet:
1 c veg oil
1 jar (1/2 cup) apricot baby food
1/2 cup mashed canned apricots & juice (leave some chunks)
3 eggs

Mix together dry, add wet, and bake at 350 in a brownie pan. (Can't remember how long.) Top with cream cheese frosting.

I originally begged this recipe out of the mother of a childhood friend who would make it specifically for me... it may very well be the first thing I baked. I guess I can thank the applesauce cake for bringing me back to it.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Persimmon Rice, Pile Of

(Whenever they served Rice Pilaf in our college cafeteria, that's what Kay - the same person who sent me this recipe, actually - would call it. Giggle, giggle, snort!!)

The best thing about this dish was how it made my apartment smell - the fragrance of shallots, ginger, and cinnamon together in the rice cooker had me walking around taking big sniffs of air like a weirdo. It was plenty tasty as well, though it couldn't quite unseat this in the annals of delicious sweet-savory Piles Of.

Basic recipe here, though I strongly recommend adding something for crunch as I do below.

Ingredients:
1. 1/3 cup finely chopped shallot (+ olive oil)
2. 1 TB fresh grated ginger

3. 1/4 tsp cinnamon
4. 1 cup white long-grain rice + broth to cook it in

5. 3 firm-ripe Fuyu persimmons, peeled & chopped
6. 1/2 cup well-chopped cilantro
7. 1/2 cup pepitas
8. Lemon juice to taste (go generous!)
9. S&P to taste

Sautee 1&2 in the bottom of your saucepan (or better, rice cooker). Add 3-4, and cook the rice. Toss in 5-9 at the end. The NYT is right: Fuyu persimmons are like extra-cheery tomatoes .

And finally, A Brief And Rapid Overview Of Other Things I Have Recently Cooked:

Soup,

then more soup,

then a stirfry flavored kind of like this with the leftover ingredients from the second soup,

then a Spiced Applesauce cake,

then 3 kinds of cookies in a single Sunday, all from Smitten Kitchen:
Key Lime Meltaways (my favorite and SUPER easy)
Hazelnut Thumbprints (crowd favorite)
Green Tea Shortbread (cute and green but not tea-flavored enough - maybe my matcha was inferior?)

oh and at some point, in a fit of using up farmer's market proceeds, roasted beets & carrots one night and risotto the next.

It's been a nice repeat-recipe rut, but thanks Kay and persimmons for getting me out of it!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Applesauce Sticky Cake with Dates

This cake is not what I was envisioning, but it's delicious. Due to a lovely apple picking adventure last weekend, P and I had eaten through an apple pie and a tub of applesauce, but still had apples to consume.

Well. P was in California. So really, I had eaten all of that and still had apples to consume. After some recipe plotting, I designed an applesauce date cake based on Martha's, here, which turned into a delicious sticky cake reminiscent of a proper steamed British pudding.

Well. I've never eaten a proper steamed British pudding. But I imagine that's what this is like. Regardless, it's delicious. The amount below makes enough for one 9 inch cake and 6 cupcakes.

1.5 cups almond flour
1.5 cups gluten free all purpose flour
2 tsp. xantham gum
2 tsp. baking soda
2 large eggs
1 cup butter
2 cups brown sugar
2 cups chunky applesauce (I recommend homemade, and super chunky)
1/4 honey

Cinnamon
Nutmeg
Cardamom

1/2 cup or more chopped medjool dates

Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs, honey and applesauce. Sift in combination of dry ingredients. Add copious amounts of cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom. Throw in some ground cloves if you want! Fold in 1/2 cup or more of chopped medjool dates.

Bake in buttered 9 inch cake pan and buttered muffin tins. (I left the "muffins" unfrosted and have been eating them for breakfast. :). I baked at 350 for 50 minutes, but took the muffins out earlier.

Any frosting will do. For simplicity's sake, I used a basic powdered sugar + milk + cardamom frosting. It's not very pretty, so if you're going for presentation, I'd use a spiced buttercream.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Honey Rosemary Pork Chops

A few nights ago, faced with a pork chop that I wanted to cook not with my normal barbecue sauce (I really am trying to branch out. I swear.), I decided to throw it in a frying pan with whatever I pleased and see how it went. In went the pork chop, some lemon-infused olive oil and a little water to keep the oil from spattering too badly. Then went rosemary, my lemon-garlic spice mix, and thyme. I flipped it and cooked it on medium high until no longer pink, but when I pulled it out knew it would be wanting for a little more flavor. In a moment of randomness, I pulled out a bottle of honey, drizzled some on, and bam! Unexpected deliciousness. The honey, the move I was most afraid of making, turned out to be what made the meal. Served with corn on the cob and brown rice.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Guest Post: Pasta with Arugula & Goat Cheese

And now, a mouthwatering interlude from everyone's favorite Nebraskan (and that's saying a lot, because Nebraskans are mad awesome, as a general proposition), polkadotdotdot:

****

I adapted this from an epicurious recipe for homemade ravioli w/ arugula & goat cheese in the middle. Fat chance, epicurious.

You'll notice that there aren't many measurements. I think we're all big girls here.

Pasta w/ Arugula & Goat Cheese:

Ingredients:
fat
flavor
vegetable
cheese
starch
water

Turn on the tunes. As you proceed with the recipe, make sure to insert a few sweet dance moves and sing along with a chorus or two. This is not part of the recipe. It just makes you happier.

Start your water boiling for pasta. Salt &/or oil your water if that's what you do. I didn't.
When the water's boiling, insert pasta (I prefer fettuccine but pretty much any kind'll work) and cook it. Set your timer if you're that sort of person. I am.

Meanwhile:

  • Tear your arugula to bits! Best to do this first or you'll end up w/ burnt butter, and then SJP would say SHAME!
  • Melt 1T-ish butter (or fat of choice) in big frying pan on medium.
  • After bubbling subsides, add a couple cloves of garlic, lightly mashed but not in tiny bits, + S&P. Saute until garlic is golden, then remove (we're just flavoring the butter here, people, not scaring away the potential smoochers lined up at the door).
  • Add arugula bits! Saute until limp but not dead.
  • Remove the pan from heat and put the arugula in the bowl you plan to eat out of.
  • Add a couple T of goat cheese and shred some parmesan on there too.
  • Squeeze in a lemon wedge. Please do not airily dismiss the lemon like you just don't care. It is critical. Plus it will keep away the dread scurvy.

When the pasta's done, strain it and dump it on top of arugula/cheese mixture. Mix w/ fork.

Insert into mouth, chew, swallow, digest, excrete.

the end.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Cake Balls

Yesterday was my roomie's 20th birthday, and we appropriately threw her a surprise party that included milkshakes served in various coffee mugs, a "Birthday Jedi" badge and a fantastic cake that she cut with a toy light saber. The cake was created by a talented friend, and featured a Yoda head with the words "20 years, you have." In the process of creating her masterpiece, she had leftover cake bits and frosting with which she suggested I throw together some cake balls. This is a recipe I had heard of from multiple people and had been wanting to do for awhile. It's super easy and delicious! Here's how it works:

Take some cake and crumble it into frosting. Find a good consistency. Roll the mixture into bite-sized balls. (This part gets messy. It's fun.) If you want them chocolate-covered, put into the freezer for a bit, and take them out later to dip them in melted chocolate and freeze them again. If you want them sprinkles-covered, roll them in a bowl of sprinkles and then put them in the freezer.

Last night's were fun-fetti with strawberry frosting and sprinkles. I'm eager to try this with red velvet cake, vanilla bean cream cheese frosting and chocolate. Yum!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Snack

Sliced Fuji apple, honey mustard, and robusto cheese on toasted ciabatta.

Makes me want to get Hobbesian (no, not THAT kind of Hobbesian!) and say "snack" over and over:

Sunday, September 26, 2010

September Cookies



I am mildly sad that I decided to make these using a box mix as a base, and not to measure any of my own contributions, because that certainly makes it harder to share them with you. They are lovely. The best I can do is tell you to take a classic chocolate chip cookie recipe, add about 1/4 cup of oat bran flour, 1/3 cup of pumpkin puree, 3 tablespoons of molasses, and a lot of cinnamon. Or, alternately, do all of the above to a Betty Crocker gluten free chocolate chip cookie mix. Because really people, we're all busy and sometimes measuring out millet flour and coconut flour and almond flour and xantham gum and guar gum and oh don't forget the potato starch--it's a damn drag.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Bittersweet Orange Macaroons



Perfect fancy party fare, this macaroon recipe from Bon Apetit defies all laws of good baking and uses the oh-so-dreadful sweetened coconut stuff. Shockingly, these still have a very sophisticated taste (thanks to the bittersweet chocolate and addition of orange peel to the batter). It also produces lots and lots and lots o'macaroons, for a very low cost.

I didn't make any changes, so you can find the recipe here.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Blackberry Cream Frosting

I wish this post could be titled Blackberry Buttercream Frosting. Sadly, while I intended on making a buttercream, I didn't feel like walking from the kitchen to the computer to look at the recipe. Yes, I am that lazy. So instead we have a cream cheese/buttercream hybrid frosting. But really, what's wrong with that?

1/3 block low-fat cream cheese
The lowfat part is kind of a joke, considering the nutritional stats of frosting.

1/2 stick butter, just above room temperature

2/3 bag of powdered sugar
The normal sized bag. If you don't know which one is normal, buy bigger and just add powdered sugar until you get to the right consistency.

1 pint fresh blackberries, washed and dried

1 tsp. vanilla

Using an electric mixer or a lot of arm strength, beat together the butter and blackberries. Add powdered sugar until frosting starts to stiffen, then add cream cheese and whip until just so. If you don't have a pastry bag and tip, like me, just cut the corner off of a ziplock bag, scoop in frosting, seal tightly, and pipe through there.

You could easily eliminate the cream cheese and add more butter, but I like the tang it provides as background for all.that.sugar.

This was delicious on 15 vanilla cupcakes, and I had plenty left over to freeze for the days when blackberries aren't abundant.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Food from Morocco


Fancy, traditional Moroccan courtyard restaurant in Marrakesh


Food stalls in the Djemaa al-Fna in Marrakesh


Food stall feast


Sorbet at an ice cream shoppe in the ritzy Ville Nouvelle


Rooftop cafe snack in Essaouira


Cozy French cafe lunch in Essaouira


Shopping for mint at the Essaouira spice market at the end of Ramadan

Cat with olives.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Mint Green Smoothie

I can't believe I forgot to put this concoction up when I first started making it - heaven knows I broadcast its delicious + virtuous qualities to everyone who would listen. So anyway, the best smoothie I personally have ever made:

2 frozen bananas, several scoops mint chocolate chip ice cream, half a package of spinach and a splash of soy milk.

Summer Ratatouille, with Harissa

[..... is really hard to spell.]

I guess oven dishes are not ideal for summer, but the result was light and fresh, with that sweet-savory vibe I can't get enough of. Woulda been great with a glass of chilled white wine.

Chop up the following into bite-sized chunks and put them in a small casserole dish:

Half a large eggplant / 1 small eggplant, peeled
1 small zucchini
2 large tomatoes
2 large peaches

Top with a can of harissa, bake for 25 mins at 400, serve over fusilli.

I realize it's not likely that any of us has home-canned harissa hanging around the shelves at a given moment, but harissa recipes and commercial pastes (or spice blends) are pretty easy to find. The rich tomato-and-chile flavor was amazing on all these veggies, and especially with the peaches.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Pulled Pork Green Chile Stew

After a trip to New Mexico, a trip to a local butcher and a trip to Safeway where New Mexican green chiles were on sale, pork green chili stew seemed inevitable even in the dead heat of a Phoenix summer. There is likely nothing authentic about this recipe, but it was delicious and gave us about 12 big servings (!!).

Cook a 3 lb bone-in shoulder blade of pork with several tomatoes, 3 chopped Anaheim chiles, and 2 cups of water for 8-10 hours in a slow cooker. Season well with salt, pepper, cumin, chili powder, and cinnamon. After cooking remove fat and pull pork apart with a fork.

Chop several potatoes and a large onion. Brown with garlic, cumin, olive oil, cilantro, and chili powder. Add 2 cans pinto beans and 2 cans stewed tomatoes (we only added stewed tomatoes because we didn't use enough tomatoes with the pork).

Combine the contents of the slow cooker with the potatoes and beans. Add more spices to taste, let simmer for a few hours and enjoy. It was quite tasty with a bit of sharp white cheddar cheese.

**I use Black Canyon Chile Powder (linked to above) from the Savory Spice Shop in Denver, Colorado. You can order their spices online for a reasonable price. If you are ambitious and like to mix your own, this particular chile powder is made using "chile peppers, cocoa powder, garlic, toasted onion, Saigon cinnamon and Mexican oregano" and is salt-free.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Really Good Classic Cookies (gluten free!)

Since returning from Guatemala, I see to have lost all of my desire to make exciting foods and all of my ability to come up with clever blog posts. Now that I'm home, I just want to eat my favorite foods and then tell you about it. That's it. Soon enough I'm sure this will wear off and I'll get around to those Italian doughnuts with cherry sauce that I've been thinking of, or to that buttermilk granita, but for now, you are getting some Really Good Cookies. According to P, they are my number one or number two best cookies, ever. And, they taste more like cookies with gluten than any others I've ever made.

This is because I'm using oat bran flour, and oats, which we are used to eating in baked goods with gluten. I of course used gluten free oat bran flour and gluten free oats. You could try these using brown rice flour if you can't find gfree oat bran flour, but they won't be quite as good.

1/2 cup butter, melted
1 egg
1/2 cup white sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 cup oat bran flour
1/4 cup almond flour
1 1/4 cup oats
1 Tbs almond butter (a generous tablespoon...)
3/4 cup chocolate chips

Melt the butter and mix with the egg and sugar. Add the dry ingredients and let chill in the refrigerator for awhile. Bake at 375 F for 12 minutes. Enjoy!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Cold Tomato-Melon Soup

OK, wowzers!

You go, Militant Carnivore.

(I used apple cider vinegar, and ate with fresh dill and goat cheese on top. I'm sooo glad I still have a few bowlsfull b/c that is some tasty semi-liquid eating!)

***Ed. 8/24/13 - This blog post was taken down at some point, to my great dismay.  Here's the recipe in full!***

This makes a bright, velvety gazpacho with intense flavor - perfect for the part of summer when tomatoes are plentiful and amazing.



Ingredients:
Olive oil
1/2 cantaloupe
10-12 tomatoes
3 TB apple cider vinegar
Salt
Fresh herbs (I like chives & dill)
Goat cheese

This makes a BIG batch, but you'll want it!

Supplies:
Largest frying pan
Tongs
Blender
Fine seive
Large Bowl

1.  Slice the cantaloupe and halve the tomatoes.  Heat some olive oil in the largest pan you have.  Then place as many cantaloupe slices and tomato halves as can fit facedown in the pan.  (In my largest pan, I end up having to do this in 2-3 batches).  Brown on one side for 3-5 minutes, until the cantaloupe gets a little brown and starts releasing a LOT of juice into the pan.  Flip and do the other side.

2.  Blend in blender (the tongs will help get all the hot pieces in there) with 1 TB vinegar until liquefied.  Place seive on bowl and dump blender contents into it.  Repeat for rest of the cantaloupe and tomatoes, reusing the same oil each time, but dumping the entire contents of the pan into the blender with the last batch.

3.  Once everything has strained into the bowl, add salt to taste (remember as this gets cold it may need more salt - you may want to retest once chilled), and apple cider vinegar to taste - I find about 3 TB total including however much you used during blending is about right.

4.  Serve chilled, garnished with chopped herbs and goat cheese.  (That crappy picture is my tupperware of work lunch from yesterday; it's much prettier before the cheese starts to sink and whatnot!)

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Summer Cookies

Chop and haphazardly mash a peach with a bit of brown sugar. Let it sit a few moments while you flip through classic cookie recipes. Select one with chocolate or notes of brown sugar or caramel, then replace a bit of the butter with the syrupy peach bites. The peach flavor will break through the cookie's prominent flavors subtly, but deliciously.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Bright Lemony Curry

The Veg, all thinly sliced:
Carrot
Daikon Radish
Broccolini
Apple
Mushroom*

The Sauce:
1 6 oz can coconut milk
Juice of one lemon
3 TB brown sugar
2 TB veggie fish sauce
2 TB tamarind paste
2 TB of this blend

The Rest:
Diced extra-firm tofu
Shredded fried egg
Pepitas

Stirfry veggies in very hot sesame oil till just cooked but still crispy. Toss in sauce and serve over rice noodles. Sweet, tangy, yellow and cheery.

*(I included some kale but with the radish and broccolini that made the veggie mix too skewed toward bitter. If I did it again I'd add some canned corn, I think, and maybe some golden raisins.)

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Asparagus Quiche


This post is mostly just to say: HEY I MADE A QUICHE!

Unlike my intrepid gf-flour-throwing sibling, I am kinda terrified of baking. It's just such a precision activity, and I'm more of a "little this, little that" kinda gal. If I get distracted and go start rearranging furniture or something between steps 3 and 4 of a recipe, I like it to be waiting forgivingly when I wander back, all happy to see me, not preparing to throw a big nondelicious hissy fit.

But....... ahem.... I MADE A QUICHE! Two cute individual quiches, actually!

I used Deb's flawlessly simple crust, but although I parbaked it as she instructs, I didn't even try to remove it from my little corningware dishes to make freestanding quiches. I think my dishes were 4-inch rounds, and her dough recipe made more than enough to make the 2 crusts.

For filling, I made something similar to her recipe but very much simplified. I beat 3 eggs with 1.5 cups 2% milk, and added a good dose of herbs plus some thinly sliced onions & mushrooms and leftover asparagus, sauteed in butter and (of all things) vermouth, the only workable alcohol I had on hand. Poured the filling almost to the top of each crust and covered it with sharp white cheddar, baked half an hour, and that was that! It was shockingly good. Possibly the best quiche I've ever had, to be forthright.

(You'll notice Katelyn's spinach and pepita salad on the side, too.)

Cranberry Chutney

This one's from our stepmother - great with a warm brie wheel at a party - and I remembered it when I threw up the post about canning chutney last weekend:

Cranberry Chutney

1 16 oz package of cranberries
2 cups sugar
1 cup water
1 tablespoon grated orange peel
1 cup orange juice
1 cup golden seedless raisins
1 cup walnuts, chopped
1 cup celery, chopped
1 medium apple, chopped
1 teaspoon ground ginger


In a 3-quart saucepan over medium heat, heat cranberries, sugar and water to boiling, stirring the mixture frequently.

Reduce heat to low and simmer 15 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in remaining ingredients. Serve.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Canned Rhubarb-Orange Chutney (and Harissa)


Last Saturday had longstanding plans with a friend to can her surplus CSA-delivered rhubarb and my leftover-from-pie rhubarb. I have a weakness for clever tools (not to mention a weakness for tangy chutneys) and had never canned before, so I was pretty psyched. Then a heatwave hit Denver/Boulder. Not to be deterred, we decided to can in swimsuits, with frequent breaks to go outside hang out in some cool water while things boiled.

Anyway, since you can't very well mess with canning recipes all willy nilly, this post is mostly just an excuse to put up a pretty picture, and a tip to check out this book if you want to make a habit of canning.

We made the orange-rhubarb chutney and the harissa paste. Et voila!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Food from New Zealand


When I first sat down to write this post, I was at the end of one month in New Zealand, where I was teaching 35 undergrads about health, environment, and justice. Yep, you can do that in just one month. Needless to say, I hadn't been cooking, but I certainly had been eating. New Zealand is full of gluten-free deliciousness. (As evidenced by the picture above, which is a peaches and cream muffin procured at a regular cafe for a non-elevated price.)




I'm now in Guatemala for four weeks, learning Spanish. Yep, you can do that in just one month, too (haha). I only had one week to recover between trips and didn't cook anything special, so instead of recipes I can only offer New Zealand food in all of its glory.



Monday, June 21, 2010

Summer Solstice Pasta

It's peaches and tomatoes time again! Meaning my diet is about to telescope itself into one happy parade of peaches and tomatoes, eaten together whenever possible! Here's another way:

Boil up a large box of bowtie pasta, and toss with:

3 diced tomatoes
3 diced peaches
2 diced avocados
Corn from 4 cobs
juice of one lemon
cashews
lemon pepper

Serves... oh, a ton.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Suspiciously Healthy Stuffed Peppers

Filling:

Sautee in olive oil:
1 medium mild white onion, chopped
2 chopped garlic cloves
1 bunch curly green kale, torn
handful pine nuts
lemon juice

Add these to 2 cups cooked barley.

Layer into 2 red peppers (microwaved briefly to start taking the crunch out), alternating with grated cheese (a nutty white - I used parrano). Bake at 400 for 20 minutes.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Orange-Coconut-Garlic Guacamole

It's been raining cold rain for 3 days in Denver, so for a friend's b-day dinner tonight, I just wanted big pots simmering on the stove and warm, heat-your-bones flavors. So I made a pot of Katelyn's Red Hot Posole - see my comment on her recipe for some additional notes.

To make it a proper dinner-party meal, I also made some very tasty vegetarian refried beans (tomato paste will work in place of diced tomatoes and as always I recommended upping most of the spices in the linked recipe, but it was basically great), and a bright crunchy jicama salad. And for an appetizer, I tried something similar to Rick Bayless's tropical take on guacamole:

Mash 5 avos, and add:

1. 6 large garlic cloves, halved and broiled in the toaster till soft, then mashed into a paste
2. Insides & juice of 1 orange (cut out the fruit from inside each little section to avoid any membrane) + a squeeze of lime juice
3. Splash of lite coconut milk
4. handful of freezedried shallots (grilled onions would be better)
5. Salt to taste

....and now everything's shipshape and I can kick back with tea until people show up. That's a rare outcome when I try to cook a whole dang meal. ;)

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Tomato & Artichoke Bruschetta

Sitting at my sunny table with 2 slices of lightly toasted sourdough, topped with:

Tiny baby farmer's market grape tomatos, halved
small cubes of drunken goat cheese
shredded artichokes from a jar
EVO, balsamic, salt, garlic paste.

Summer!!

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Gluten Free Product Round Up

Generally, this is a recipe blog, and not an all gluten free blog either. However, an old childhood friend of mine just wrote to say she had been diagnosed with Celiac last month, and it got me thinking about a gluten free product round-up. Generally, my Celiac philosophy has been to not eat with a lot of bread or pasta, but since moving in with P that has changed a bit and I know that's not for everyone. So, for those struggling with Celiac, here's a product round up, because it is always disappointing to spend money on things that taste bad. For those who are lucky enough to live life with gluten, please excuse us for this one post!

Cornbread
Bob's Red Mill's gluten free cornbread mix is great if you are seeking a fluffy cornbread. It goes rancid quickly though, so I always freeze half of the batch after baking. This recipe also makes great cornbread muffins. If you are looking for homemade cornbread recipes, go visit glutenfreegoddess.blogspot.com. Karina is a wonderful chef and writer and has amazing variations on cornbread.

Store-bought bread
The only brand of store bought bread that I can eat without toasting is Udi's. It is not as dense as other brands and the texture mimics bread with gluten. It is available at Whole Foods, and is actually much more affordable than other brands. Find it in the freezer section.

I also like millet bread and brown rice bread for toasting, which is frozen even at a lot of mainstream grocery stores. Typically the brand is Food for Life. Safeway normally carries it, and so do some Walmarts, Smiths, Albertsons, and Targets. Trader Joes has brown rice bread that is cheap and unfrozen, but I personally don't enjoy it.

Finally, if you really love bread, I recommend getting a bread machine with a gluten free setting and investing in some Bob's Red Mill mixes. If you have time and don't want to pay for mixes, Karina at glutenfreegodess.blogspot.com has good recipes, as does Elena at elenaspantry.com and the Gluten Free Girl and her Chef at glutenfreegirl.blogspot.com. Even though I make most of my baked goods from scratch, I prefer to make bread with mixes just because it is easier and less likely to fail.

Pasta
The best and cheapest pasta out there is Trader Joe's brown rice pasta. If you don't have a TJ's, look for any brown rice pasta. Corn based pasta's tend to be mushy. The key with any brand though is to watch it carefully and only cook to al dente. It is very easy to overcook and end up with a pot of mush. I also love soybean spaghetti noodles, but can only find them at Whole Foods, which is out of my budget typically. Other spaghetti noodles, even the brown rice variety, aren't as good as shells, macaronis, elbows, and so on.


Baked Goods

My number one recommendation on this front is to learn what flours you like and stick with them. I find baking with brown rice flour, coconut flour, and almond flour is easiest for me. I also like to bake without using a lot of xanthan gum and other expensive gluten mimickers. The bloggers I've already mentioned each have their own special flours. Elena uses blanched almond meal and coconut flour, but I have followed her recipes using unblanched Bob Red Mill varieties with success. Shauna at Gluten Free Girl uses a whole variety of specialty flours, and Karina uses a lot of sorghum and quinoa. Experiment a bit, then find what works for you and stick with it. It may take a year or so, but your kitchen will eventually be stocked and it will become less expensive.

My other recommendation is to buy mixes, but add your own touch to it. For instance, I almost always add 1/2 cup coconut flour and more liquid (almond milk or applesauce for me) to the Bob's Red Mill cookie and cake mixes. Same for Betty Crocker mixes. Bob's Red Mill brownies are awesome as prepared on the package, though! And generally speaking, I recommend Bob over Betty, but she is cheaper. Finally, TRUST YOUR INSTINCTS! Bob's chocolate chip cookies are terrible if you follow the package, but you should know that from the moment you are done mixing because the batter is crumbly and dry. That's not what cookie batter is like! So follow your gut and adjust as necessary. Don't, however, be worried if the batter doesn't taste good. Lots of gluten free flours are a bit bitter when raw, but that taste bakes out.

That's a start. If people enjoy this, I'll do another product post in the future, and would also love to do a gluten free lifestyle post that generally covers what I eat.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Sweet Corn with Roasted Radishes



As simple as it sounds and as beautiful as it looks, especially when paired with sweet cream butter and grated radishes on toast. Roast your radishes at 450 with olive oil and sea salt, some herbs of your choice, and don't look back.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Creamy Cracked Pepper Pasta

After a long hiatus, P and I are back in the food cookin' game. Actually, we've been back for awhile, but since I've never been in the technology knowin' game, it's taken me weeks to figure out how to get all the pictures of new and good food off of my new and good camera.

When you see this picture, you are likely to scoff and wonder if in fact I lost my recipe mojo while finishing up year one of the Ph.D. I can assure you I didn't (and actually this is P's recipe). But I can also assure you I didn't acquire a photography mojo during spring semester either. Talk to the little sis about that.


The light was bad, ok? But the cream. Ohhhh the cream was good. Every dollop of the 1/2 cup. Especially paired with the pepper, and the parsley, and the grape tomatoes, and the cheese.

1) Fill a small ziploc baggy with peppercorns. Pound away-er, gently crack-with a hammer. Unless you have a mortar and pestle like real grownups. In which case, ditch the hammer and ziploc scenario. P would like for me to admonish you here that however you do it, "you have to crack the peppercorns yourself."

2) Rinse a bunch of grape tomatoes and parsley.

3) Cook a bag of gluten free brown rice pasta (or pasta of choice) until al dente.

4) Combine parsely, pepper, and tomatoes with 1/2 cup of heavy cream and 1/2 cup of pecorino romano.

5) Hurriedly take a bad picture and let the moaning commence.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Tomato Kabocha Coconut Curry

This roasted-tomato goodness was loosely inspired by a soup from Watercourse restaurant here in Denver, though I took it in a richer and creamier direction (partly with the addition of squash.... I love squash):

1 Thai kabocha squash
10 Roma tomatoes
1 medium onion
1/2 can lite coconut milk
1/3 cup shredded coconut
1 tsp tamarind paste
2 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp turmeric
pinch asefoetida
Veggie bullion

Halve and seed both the squash and the Romas. Brush them with a little olive oil and bake at 250 for about an hour until thoroughly roasted and getting a little black on the edges.

Peel the squash, and puree it with the tomatoes and coconut milk in the food processor.

In the meantime, thinly slice the onion and sautee it over medium-low heat with the cumin in a tiny bit of oil.

Once the onion is cooked, add 4 cups water and whatever quantity of your bullion goes with 4 cups (4 tsp for the brand I had on hand).

Once this is boiling add the (gorgeously deep orange) squash/tomato puree. Then add the shredded coconut, tamarind, turmeric, and asefoetida. Taste, adjust, etc.

Monday, May 10, 2010

French Onion Cream of Mushroom Soup from Mom

A typical phone call in our family goes like this:

Daughter: HiMomHowareIstheweathercrappythereIt'sreallyhothereandPeterissogrumpybecauseofitandsoamIbecauseIhavetoparkatA'sapapartmentandthenwalkandIneednewsandalsbutIamtoobusytogetthosebutohImadethisgreatdinnerIwantedtotellyouaboutbutIdon'thavetimetoputitontheblogbutanywayshoware?

Mom: hihunnyjustatwalmartitisCOLDherehowareyouIsentyouthatpackagewiththesocksandtreatsIsurehopeitgetsherebecausethepostofficewasaMADHOUSEfullofnutwingsyouknowandIhadthedoginthebackofthecarsoIhadtohurrybutIjustreallywantedyoutohaveyourgoodiesifIhadwaitedyouknowthemailtakesthreedaysitissoslowfromhereespeciallywithallthissnowsoIhadtodoittodaybeforeIwenttofaceathousandpreschoolersandthententhousandteenagersatRockBandthelibraryisjustnutsgoshIhopeyouaregoodyousoundsickareyousickbettertakesomeZicamhoneyusethatstashupohbythewaywhenyouaretravelingthissummermaybeyoucouldseeifsomeofthoseothercountrieshavetheZicam.

More on that in a minute. The blog has been a bit neglected since our spring-fever-induced frenetic production of recipes in March. (Although biggest sis S has prevented us from failing to post altogether.) In a turn on Mother's Day, we thought our mom, who's a wonderful cook, could help us out with a guest post. Somehow, between wrangling hoses and overweight cats and shoveling snow back home, she managed to create this magnificent soup. After the telephone call preview, it shouldn't surprise you that our coveted guest post came in the form of a rushed but sweet email from our eternally busy mom.

caramelized one small onion in butter, added about 12 oz. of FREE sliced mushrooms - sauteed them in the butter and onion with black pepper, a bit of nutmeg and a bit more paprika, splashed some sherry in the pan which caused quite the sizzle. In soup pot I warmed 2 cups (or less) of milk and about a cup & a half of chicken broth, added onion/mushroom mixture and more sherry to taste then thickened the soup with cornstarch in milk. The end result tasted like French onion cream of mushroom soup which I served with crusty bread toasted and fruit as a side. LOVE, MUM xoxoxo

Note that if you can make this soup with FREE mushrooms it will taste even better!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Costa Rican Lemony Rice

It's "old staples" time again! This was the rice that powered my college career (well, that and a much-more-embarrassing dish involving: Make white rice. Grate cheddar. Mix so cheddar melts. Eat.). It's simple, brightly flavored, and filling - great for work lunch, a side dish, etc.

Power up the rice cooker and make about 6 cups (cooked) long-grain white rice. Then mix in 2 TB butter, 1/3 cup lemon juice or more if you like, 4-6 diced Roma tomatoes, and lots of freshly ground black pepper (plus salt to taste).

(PS - I claim that it's "Costa Rican" because some little cookbook I had back in those college days claimed the same - no idea of the veracity of that claim!).

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Oatmeal-Peach-Chocolate Squares

Wanted cookies, had no eggs, did this instead:

1/2 c butter (1 stick)
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 cups oats
1/2 can canned peaches, chopped
1/2 tsp ea. almond & vanilla
1/4 tsp ea. cinnamon & cloves
1 cup chocolate chips

Melt the butter in a saucepan, add sugar & melt. Take off heat, add remaining ingredients except the chips. Press into an 8x8 baking pan. Bake at 350 till browned (25 mins). Spread chips on top & let 'em melt. Mmmm.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Massaman Curry Hotpot

This is the kind of peculiar thing I end up eating when I'm left to my own devices with just the already-existing contents of my kitchen. I'm gonna go stream-of-consciousness here....

(1) What veggies are gonna be bad when I get back from out of town on Sunday night?

1 small eggplant
3 tiny summer squash
generous handful sugar snap peas.

Chopped these and put them in a casserole dish.

(2) What would taste good for a sauce? (Considered and rejected: Something tomato-based, something tamarind-based, something lemongrass-based, but settled on....)

A small can of masaman curry paste

(3) Do I have any coconut milk? No.
But I just found a can of lychees (which, now that I think about, I've had for at least 3 years) and a can of pureed pumpkin! And half and half is about as full of fat and creaminess as coconut milk. To reiterate:

1 can lychees (with juice)
1/2 can pureed pumpkin
1/2 cup half & half

Mix and pour all of this over the veggies; bake at 350 for an hour.

Now the casserole is waiting in my fridge, ensuring that I won't end up eating cookies from my paralegal's drawer for lunch on Monday. Awesome.

Insane Egg Salad


5 hard boiled eggs
1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
1/8 cup spicy brown mustard
splash pickle juice
Heavy doses of paprika & dill
Salt & pepper to taste.

(This also gave me a chance to gobble up some homemade pickles a friend gave me. Homemade pickles! Wow!)

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Unbaked Almond Butter and Sesame Power Bars

Satiating, almond buttery goodness mixed with flax and sesame has quickly made these my favorite post-salad treat at lunch. The recipe is quite flexible to suit your tastes. I've thought of using sunflower seed butter with dark chocolate and coconut oil, but these are just so good I can't yet make alterations.

1/2 cup almond butter
1/2 cup almond flour (I think I added a bit more at the end...maybe closer to 3/4 cup?)
1/2 cup gluten free oats
1/2 cup ground flax meal
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon agave nectar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup chocolate chips (still on my easter kick, I used white. judge me if you want to)

Mix altogether in a mixer or by hand. Press into an 8X8 glass baking pan (greased). Shower the pan with sesame seeds, pressing them in with the back of a spoon.

Cover and freeze for a few hours. I stored these in the refrigerator, cutting them and wrapping them in plastic wrap to go when I needed to.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Homemade Ravioli (Featuring Ricotta, Smoked Mozzarella, Spinach, and Green Garlic)

After learning how to create homemade ravioli in this guest post, and about papaya salads and chayote quesadillas in her last posts, I think you'll agree with me that my friend H should really be vying for a spot in Phoenix's growing restaurant scene. Or at least that she knows how to create some epic meals.

NOTE: Firstly, apologies to K for this gluten-heavy post. She very nicely invited me to talk about cooking, and I barge in dropping G-bombs all over the place, which is not proper guest behavior. I will endeavor in the future to not gloat about how awesome foods with gluten are.

Secondly, this post is LONG. Pasta making is not for the faint of heart, nor the faint of kitchen, nor the faint of reading long blog posts.

So, make-your-own pasta. It's actually fairly painless, should you have the following:

1. Plenty of time
2. The right equipment

Time becomes less of an issue if you're just making flat pasta, but ravioli won't stuff themselves, so be prepared to spend some time filling and sealing lots of little packets of cheesy goodness.

The equipment is more important, and by equipment, I basically mean a pasta roller. As I am about to demonstrate, you can do this completely by hand (with just a rolling pin, some elbow grease, and an almost masochistic need to finish what you've started), but it's not easy and my hands are still a little sore.

CONSIDER YOURSELF WARNED.

Pasta
1 1/4 c. flour + 1/2 tsp. salt
2 eggs

The Proper Method (taken from Mario Batalli's Molto Italiano)
Mound flour/salt in the center of a large wooden board. Make a well in the center of the flour and add the eggs. Using a fork, beat the eggs and incorporate the flour, starting with the inner rim of the mound. When half the flour is incorporated and you have a lump of dough, use your hands to knead and mix in the rest of the flour. Once you have a cohesive mass, scrape up and discard any dried, unused dough.

My Method
Mound flour/salt in the center of table. Make a well in the center of the flour and add one egg. Get concerned that well is not deep enough to contain both eggs. Try to make a deeper well by pushing the flour into a larger pile. Add second egg and watch as it slides down the edge of the flour pile and on to the table. Grab fork and frantically try to beat flour and rogue eggs together. Give up on fork and use hands to mush flour and egg bits into ball, then use said ball to sop up rapidly escaping egg matter. Mix in flour, adding water to make up for the missing egg moisture. Upon creating semi-cohesive mass, discard dried dough and egg remains.

Once you have your ball of dough (however it was attained), lightly flour your work area and start kneading. It will be hard at first, but once the gluten starts breaking down, it will become much softer and easier to work with. Continue kneading for 10 minutes or so, adding flour as needed, until the dough is elastic and tacky (but not sticky). If you've ever made bread, you'll know what I'm talking about. Wrap in plastic wrap and set aside for at least 30 minutes.

Filling
Mine was a ricotta, smoked mozzarella, spinach and green garlic mixture. You can basically make any filling you'd like (just make sure that if you used any other vegetables/meats, that they are cut small enough to fit inside your ravioli).

Construction
Once the pasta dough has rested for 30 minutes, you can start the rolling. If you paid attention earlier and acquired a pasta roller before embarking on this little adventure, follow the instructions for the roller and roll the dough out to the thinnest setting.

Otherwise, I separated the dough into four pieces (keeping the unused pieces covered until I needed them). The dough should have soften considerably; if not, let it rest a bit longer. Roll each 1/4 of the dough into a short rope (like if you were making a snake out of clay), and, using a rolling pin, roll out lengthwise. Continue to roll until the dough is as long and thin as you can get it; if the dough starts to resist, let it rest for a minute or two before trying again. Once it is rolled to your liking, hang the piece of dough to slightly dry (over the back of a chair works) and proceed to do the same to the other three pieces.

After your hands have gone numb, but everything is rolled out, use a pizza cutter or knife to cut the dough. Ideally, if they are rolled into rectangles, you can cut the dough into squares. Mine dough was more...abstract, so I cut it into 1.5-2 inch wide strips. With a wet finger, moisten the along the edges of the dough strip and add a small spoonful of filling to the center (this amount will change depending on the the size of your ravioli). Fold the dough strip in half lengthwise, and press the edges together to seal the filling in. If filling started spilling out, use the spoon to scoop out some of the excess and try again. Fortunately, you'll have lots of raviolis to practice on, and you'll soon figure out what comprises an acceptable amount. Place finished ravioli on a kitchen towel or plate that has been dusted with flour.

After all the raviolis are stuffed, heat a well-salted pot of water to a boil and add the raviolis (just don't overcrowd the pot). Return the water to a gentle simmer (a rollicking boil could cause the raviolis to burst) and cook until tender, about 3-4 minutes. Drain and serve with the sauce of your choice (ours was a simple San Marzano tomato sauce with basil, oregano, parsley and marjoram). Leftover ravioli should be cooked shortly after making, but can be kept in the fridge (add either some sauce or a bit of olive oil to prevent the pasta from sticking together).

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Roasted Squash Soup

I took a quick (and overdue) trip to see family in the Northwest last weekend and gave my aunt's shiny new kitchen a spin. A wiser cook would have checked the exact equipment in said kitchen before planning a blended soup (no blender/food processor was to be found). I'll take a leaf from Katelyn's book and call the result "rustic." ;)

This was kind of an absurd quantity of soup, btw---there were 6 of us eating it as a first course and we barely made a dent---but why make soup and not fill the pot?

1. Start by roasting the following in salt and oil in a 350 degree oven for an hour or more:
4 acorn squash, halved, seeds removed, brushed with oil and roasted facedown in a pan
1 large or 2 small onions
4 large carrots
2 apples, halved and deseeded
1 head garlic cloves

2. If you don't have a way to blend it later, mash these once they're roasted. The apples, garlic, and squash will mash up no problem. For the onions and carrots, fine chopping might be necessary.

3. Heat 6 cups broth and add the veggies. (If you do have a blender, blend about half the soup now.) Then add about 2 TB finely chopped fresh sage and several handfuls of golden raisins. Season with salt and white pepper. Boil awhile to blend flavors. That's it!

(And yes, this is kinda just a soup version of this, and I've been wanted to turn more squashes into soups ever since this. Not only that, but I served it with this and this - a shitake/sweet white wine/nutmeg version to be exact. Nothing new under the sun...)

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Basil White Bean Citrus Salad


After two days full of bratwursts, canned soup, s'mores, peanut butter, beer, prickly pear ice cream (!!) and tortilla chips, P and I needed something light for a post-camping dinner.

Flecked with basil and lightly dressed with white balsamic, olive oil, agave, salt, and mustard powder shaken and poured from a mason jar, the beans, torn spinach, grapefruits, and oranges made a perfect spring salad.

Several large handfuls of spinach, torn
3 ruby red grapefruits, thinly sliced into rounds
3 oranges, thinly sliced into rounds
1 can white beans, rinsed well & drained
Several basil leaves, torn

Toss & dress. I served with hunks of warm cornbread.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

"Burmese" Green Papaya Salad

Guest post number two from our favorite bread-bakin', scone creatin' vegetarian! This time she brings us a crispy crunchy citrusy salad delight. I'm personally excited about the prospect of incorporating deep fried chickpea flour batter or fermented tea leaves!! Thanks Heather!

In DC (or, more accurately, Silver Spring, MD), there is a delightful little Burmese restaurant called Mandalay that figured prominently as a date night location while The Husband and I were courting. All the food is delish, but I was always most impressed with the salads, which were huge and tasty and crunchy. While doing my weekly-ish gigantic Asian grocery store run, I spied a bag of pre-sliced green papaya, which in turn lead to this dish. It's nice and fresh and crisp, perfect for summer (or an Arizona winter). I added tofu to make it more of a main dish sort of salad; other things that would make nice additions include sliced tomatoes, gram fritters (essentially deep fried chickpea flour batter), fermented tea leaves, ginger, bean sprouts, etc. And because it's (mostly) raw, it comes together quickly once all the ingredients are assembled!

Ingredients - Salad
green papaya, sliced into thin strips (I honestly have no idea how to purchase papayas, underripe or otherwise. If you can find the pre-sliced variety, so much the better.) I ended up using two or three handfuls, but adjust based on personal preference.
cabbage (green or red is fine), thinly sliced (I used about 1/4 a head for a two-person salad)
thinly sliced carrot (or just take a peeler to it) - I used roughly half a carrot
thinly sliced daikon (see carrot) - about the same amount as the carrots
thinly sliced (sensing a pattern, here?) red onion - about 1/4 onion
pan-fried crispy tofu, cooked with a little garlic

Ingredients - Dressing
juice from four limes or one lemon (technically, it should be lime juice. But if you screw up the first batch of dressing and find yourself out of limes, a lemon makes a good enough substitute)
a couple of splashes of soy sauce
4 tbsp. of raw sugar (or, to taste)
a 1-2 inch piece of peeled ginger, grated
crushed red pepper (optional)

To make the salad, fry up some tofu. You can add other Asian-inspired flavors if you'd like - I tossed in a bit of soy sauce at the end. While the tofu is cooling, mix together the rest of the ingredients.

For the dressing, whisk together the citrus juice and sugar, adjusting the sugar amounts as necessary to get a slightly sweet, but still tart, blend. Add the soy sauce and the juice from the ginger (just squeeze the ginger over the bowl). For an extra kick, add some crushed red pepper.

Add the tofu to the raw veg, then mix the dressing with the salad, letting the whole shebang sit in the fridge for an hour or so to let the flavors meld. Or eat it right away if you are hungry and impatient.

*"Burmese" is in quotation marks because I don't actually know what goes into a real green papaya salad, and the dressing was pinched from a Vietnamese Green Mango salad; consider this an homage to my bygone salad days.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

White Chocolate Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups


March sings of Easter candy, of white chocolate bunnies and peanut butter eggs. I loved Easter as a kid, probably, as Mommy Blogger pointed out today, because a typical nasty Wyoming snowstorm makes pastel bunnies perched on a typical Wyoming Walmart shelf seem more darling than they really are.

To avoid artificial crap and get the most out of my sugar highs, I decided to do some Easter candy makin' myself, inspired by Averie's sweets on loveveggiesandyoga. This is not fancy, and doesn't even really count as homemade since I still relied on store-bought white chocolate. It does eliminate the weird non-peanut butter stuff in peanut butter fillings, though. Averie's base recipe with slight modifications below.

Melt 1 bag of white chocolate chips (I lurve Trader Joe's variety). Line a six tin muffin pan with muffin liners. Pour white chocolate into the liners, coating the bottom. Set aside the rest of the chocolate; you may have to heat it up again.

Mix 1/4 cup natural peanut butter with a scant 1 T of dark chocolate cocoa powder, 2 Ts of maple syrup or agave, and vanilla extract + sea salt to taste.

Spoon filling into the muffin tins, then pour more white chocolate over the top. Make sure the filling doesn't touch the edges of its chocolate base, you want the two layers of white chocolate to meet and meld and crinkle.

Freeze to set the chocolate, then store at room temperature.

Coconut Almond Flour Pancakes

To me, these were a dense coconutty-almondy dream, but P's gluten-adjusted palate was less pleased. If serving to those looking for typical pancakes, I would sweeten a bit more, add a banana to the batter, and go a little heavier on the almond flour.

Part of the reason I love them so is because of the nutritious nature of coconut and almond flours. Coconut flour is very high in fiber and protein, and almond flour is very high in protein and good fats. Perfect pre-hike or pre-bike ride meal.

3 eggs
3 T melted butter
4 to 5 T milk or milk substitute (I used almond milk...but was wishing I had heavy cream on hand!)
1.5 T raw sugar
3 T coconut flour
2 T almond flour
drizzle of maple syrup

Whip the eggs thoroughly before mixing the rest of the batter. Cook in 1 T butter. I served traditionally with maple syrup and real butter, but they would have been wonderful with jam, granola, yogurt, or almond butter. These are very, very filling -- Peter and I could barely finish the batch, which made 4 mid-sized cakes.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Brothy Tomato Pesto White Bean Soup

Gluten free broth is expensive and gluten free stock is near impossible to find, so I make all of my soups without either of those flavor-helpers. This is by far the best broth base I have ever created.

Cover the bottom of a large pan with a generous pour of olive oil. Thinly slice 1/2 of a red onion, mince 5 cloves of garlic, and add to olive oil with a generous--no wait, enormous--sprinkle of Italian spices, salt, and pepper.

While the onion and garlic soften, halve cherry tomatoes. Toss in after onions and garlic are transparent.

After cooking for a few more minutes, add 3 8 oz. cans of basic tomato sauce. Stir in several tablespoons of pesto and 2 15 oz. cans of canellini or other white beans, with their liquid.

After a few more minutes, add water, tasting the broth until you hit that sweet spot of slurpy goodness. Add more seasonings as needed, and let simmer. After awhile, stir in several large handfuls of spinach.

Serve with an extra drizzle of olive oil.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Roasted Beets & Carrots with Cumin Chickpea Puree

More having people over, more racking my brains at the store, not having planned ahead, for a recipe I've made enough times to remember everything I need. Luckily, my memory scan hit upon this slightly quirky duo that I dug up some time ago on Epicurious. As usual, I've tweaked (also as usual, mostly by upping spices and simplifying steps), so here it is. There are 3 components so getting it all to be done at the same time is mildly challenging. Also, you'll almost surely have leftover puree, and that is a glorious thing for future snacking - I make it by itself all the time.

Ingredients - roasted beets & carrots:
6-10 beets (some golden if available)
Baggie of baby carrots
Thyme, salt, pepper
1/2 c olive oil

Ingredients - vinaigrette:
1/2 c olive oil
3 TB red wine vinegar
1.5 tsp toasted cumin seeds
.5 tsp ground cumin
4 tsp fresh lemon juice
1/3 of a red onion, or 3 shallots, very thinly sliced (if no mandolin use veggie peeler!)
large handful chopped cilantro

Ingredients - chickpea puree:
1 can chickpeas
1 can kidney or pinto beans
4 large cloves garlic, chopped
2 tsp kosher salt
2 tsp paprika
1 tsp cayenne chili powder
1.5 tsp toasted cumin seeds
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 c olive oil

1. Get your beets and carrots roasting.
Trim and wash your beets and maybe chop the big ones in half. Throw em in a baking pan with 1/4 cup olive oil, cover with foil, and stick in a 400 degree oven. (They need 45 minutes or so to get good and soft.) Throw the carrots in a second baking pan with the other 1/4 cup, plus salt, pepper, and thyme. (They need 20 minutes, so add them after beets have been in for 25.) This recipe is REALLY amazing if you have fresh beets and carrots from the summer farmer's market, especially if you can get those really deep red carrots. Mmmmmm.

2. Get your puree simmering.
After you toast the cumin, heat 1/4 cup of oil and throw 1.5 tsp cumin seeds and the chopped garlic in there for about a minute. Then add the chickpeas and beans, reserving their liquid in a bowl. Throw in spices and stir till the chickpeas start to darken. Then, add the liquid from the can back in - just enough to reach the level of the tops of the chickpeas/beans. Turn down to medium and simmer. We'll come back to this in a bit.

3. Make your vinaigrette.
Put the vinegar, lemon juice, and cumin in a bowl. Whisk in the olive oil till it emulsifies. Toss in the paper-thin onion and the cilantro so they'll soak a bit.

4. Puree the puree.
When the beans seem totally soft - nearly ready to fall apart - and the cooking liquid is getting thick, pour the beans in a strainer and again, retain the cooking liquid in a bowl underneath. Put them in a blender or food processor with 1/4 c olive oil and 1/4 cup of the cooking liquid and puree like crazy. You want this thick, velvety, and totally smooth.

5. Veggies in vinaigrette.
After all this frenzied activity, your beets and carrots should be good to go. Peel the beets (when I do this, I inevitably burn my fingers and turn them red, so you're on your own as to technique) and cut into chunks of comparable size to the carrots. Then toss beets and carrots into vinaigrette.

6. Serve.
I sometimes serve the veggies over a base (tonight, acini di pepe - cute!) - it will turn charmingly/frighteningly purple, as so many things do when beets are introduced. Put a dollop of chickpea puree on the side and serve with some store-brought crispy flatbreads or crackers (a rosemary flavor goes nicely). Oh, and cross your fingers that your guests like beets, since you forgot to ask, you jerk.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Risotto Again! ....With Barley

Just a quick note. As often happens, I ran late on planning dinner for some folks last week and figured I'd just make a risotto. Didn't realize until too late that I was nearly out of arborio, so I threw in a cup of quick-cooking barley with the cup of rice I did have. Score! Cheaper material, same result.

Guest Post: Monastery Vegetables

Hey readers, meet Kay, a wizard with veggies and parentheses:

Hello, all! My name is Kay. I live in England (though I am an American, in case you start wondering where all my extra letter "u"s have gone), and I'm in a constant battle to Lose Weight (cue the Cathy comic strip sweat beads), and I'm madly in love with my veg box (which is this lovely thing they do here where they deliver organic vegetables directly from the local farm to your doorstep--with the dirt still on them!--be still my pretentiously beating heart). Thus, my cooking is pretty much oriented to the following goals:

1) Use up the 987872983767689576234 pounds of vegetables that arrived in the veg box this week.
2) DO NOT GET ANY FATTER! (i.e., eat food that is low-fat yet still tasty enough to help me abstain from the delicious and DEADLY takeaway curry)

Here's something I've made twice now, and I think it is my new favorite. I'll call it Monastery Vegetables, because it is inspired by a recipe for Monastery Lentils in the 1971 cookbook "Diet for a Small Planet" by Francis Moore Lappe. The beauty of this recipe is that, as long as you adjust the seasonings to avoid blandness, it can take as many root vegetables (and probably any other kind of vegetables) as you care to throw at it--so it's a great way to use up extras. It makes a nice chunky stew, especially delicious if you make sure not to cook it to the point of mushiness. It's also very low-fat, especially if you go lightly on the cheese.

Ingredients:

THE VEG, which is very flexible and can include some or all of the following:
Carrots (sliced into large-ish bite-sized chunks)
Turnips, Swede/Rutabaga, Parsnips, Jerusalem Artichokes, Celeriac (peeled and diced)
Onions, chopped
Zucchini/Courgette, quartered and sliced into large-ish chunks
Kale, stringy ribs removed and sliced into thin strips
Mushrooms

EVERYTHING ELSE:
Chicken or vegetable stock (3 - 4 cubes or to taste)
Chopped tomatoes (3 cans)
Marjoram (1 Tbsp. or to taste)
Salt and pepper (to taste)
Very dry sherry (about 1 cup)
Minced fresh parsley (a good-sized bunch)
Emmental cheese, shredded (to taste)

Directions:
Put the onions and the hard root vegetables in a large stock pot with just enough water to cover them. Bring to a boil and then simmer until soft, topping up water if necessary. After 10 - 20 minutes when the root vegetables are about halfway cooked (depending on the size of your dicing) add the stock cubes, tomatoes, marjoram, salt and pepper, and start adding the faster-cooking veg, beginning with the zucchini/courgettes and moving on to the kale and mushrooms. The goal is to wind up with all the vegetables tender but not mushy. Simmer until kale is tender, and adjust seasoning to taste if necessary. Remove from heat, stir in sherry and parsley, and serve in bowls with little piles of emmental cheese on top. Goes great with crusty brown bread.

Variation: add cooked lentils for a more hearty stew.

Toasted Maple Quinoa

I can't eat yogurt without a crunchy topping. The plain greek variety is a staple at our house--mixed in equal parts with pumpkin to spread it out because it's pricey! For the last several weeks I've been nibbling away at some amazing gluten free granola that my father sweetly bought me, but it's gone and doesn't have a place in the weekly grocery budget. I tried to make my own this weekend, but got distracted and burned it.

Luckily for both of us, I have a slight addiction to fitness blogs written by twenty-somethings devoted to healthy living. It's like my version of suscribing to Runner's World or Women's Health. Anyway, I ran across this gem this morning, created by Caitlin of healthytippingpoint.com. I'm happily crunching on some now, and am thinking it would be excellent on salads, or on top of a creamy asparagus or cauliflower soup, or maybe...in a cookie?

Rinse 1/3 a cup of quinoa. I never rinse quinoa, I'm lazy. But because this isn't cooked, I did rinse it and my guess is that it was a good idea to do so.

Spread onto a cookie sheet with 2 T flax seeds and 1 T maple syrup.

Add cinnamon or other spices to taste.

Bake at 350 for 10 minutes, stirring once.

Crunch. Crunch.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

White Chocolatey Almond Flour Cookies

These wonderful cookies are fluffy even though they have no gluten, hold together well even though they have no eggies, and are buttery even though they have no butter. I'm like a magician. If you want a vegan cookie, trade the white chocolate for vegan dark.

2 1/2 cups almond flour--Despite blog-world insistence that blanched almond flour is the only kind that works, I use regular almond meal for $$ reasons. It's fine.
1/3 to 1/2 cup coconut flour--Start with 1/3 and add more if the dough is too wet.
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt

Mix dry ingredients and add the following wet ingredients:

1/2 cup olive oil--Any light cooking oil would work.
1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk--Any type of milk or milk substitute will do.


Add 1/2 cup of your chip, nut, seed, or dried fruit of choice. The dough base is rich and buttery but not too sweet, so a sweet addition will pair well.

Bake at 350 for 12 minutes.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Greek Phyllo Pizza

I've made variations on this crispy "pizza" for years, starting from a recipe in one of Mollie Katzen's cookbooks, but I feel like tonight's version (cooked in a friend's kitchen) kinda hit the nail on the head. Or maybe it just looked extra pretty on her red and yellow plates. At any rate, here it is:

1. Chop a small red onion and a small, waxy red or purple potato into small dice and sautee in olive oil, a generous dose of lemon juice, and a bit of balsamic. When they've softened, add a bunch of kale torn into small pieces (or chard, or spinach). Season with Italian herbs, salt and pepper.

2. In the meantime, grease a cookie sheet with olive oil. Then begin layering your (already-thawed, I hope!) phyllo dough leaf by leaf, brushing each leaf lightly with olive oil, to make your "crust." Layer it roughly up to the edge of the cookie sheet - too thick and it will be hard to get it crispy in the oven. Ballpark a thickness of 10 sheets (?).

3. Spread the onion/potato/greens mixture evenly over your crust. You want plenty of crust showing through - don't let the toppings overwhelm the phyllo or it will stay soft and mushy and not crisp up.

4. Add a sprinkling of shredded mozzarella and high-quality sheep's milk feta. Follow this layer with chopped Kalamata olives and halved cherry tomatoes. Sprinkle with pine nuts and perhaps more herbs.

5. Bake at 350 for about half an hour. It's done when you can poke the center with a knife and it crackles. (The edges may be pretty brown by this point - all the better).

I wish I'd taken a picture of the bright confetti of veggies atop the pretty, curly-edged pastry crust, but make it yourself and see!