Friday, December 28, 2012

Apple Toddy

Chris made these for Thanksgiving and I forgot to share them.  They were the best hot drink I've ever had!  I drank two! 

Recipe makes 8.

2 cups Apple Brandy (Calvados)
2 oz simple syrup
2 oz honey
2 TB lemon juice
4 cups water
4 baked tart apples

Heat everything but apples on the stovetop or in a crockpot, taste and adjust liquid ingredients to your liking. 

Bake apples, halved but not peeled, in a 350 oven till soft (about 1/2 an hour).  Remove peels and set aside the soft mush the apples have become.

Muddle apple mush with liquid, strain, and drink. 


Monday, December 24, 2012

Assaulted Moose

.....That is, "A Salted Mousse," or what we call it when Sarah makes the mousse slightly too salty.  AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!


Anyway, here is a laughably easy mousse.  I learnt it by having the good sense to take a cooking class from Theya of "What the Hell Do I Cook!?!?"  If you live in Denver, I advise you to do the same .

4 Eggs (these will be eaten raw but my food-scientist father-in-law says that's usually fine these days)
1 4-oz bar of 70% or darker chocolate (best you can get yr paws on)
pinch salt
splash of coffee if you want

Melt the chocolate bar in a double broiler - if need be you can set one up by putting some water in the bottom of a small saucepan and fitting a bowl/corningware/whatever on top of the saucepan, with the chocolate in it.

Separate the eggs.  Beat the whites with a pinch (not too big or you'll have to make TERRIBLE PUNS to save face!) of salt until they form stiff peaks.  Stir up the yolks and remove any weird bits.

When the chocolate is melted, add coffee and/or any spices you want, let it cool just a bit, and drizzle it SLOWLY into the yolks, stirring all the while - not too fast or you'll cook 'em!

Fold the whites, 1/3 at a time, into the chocolate, as gently as you can.

Divide into 4 ramekins or bowls or whatever, chill, top with whipped cream, and eat.

Asparagus Parmesan Tart with Garlic Olive Oil and Balsamic Reduction

So I graduated, am working my first "real" job and am spending my year navigating the pitfalls and advantages that come with being an adult.  And suddenly it's December, and I recently had my first work Christmas potluck.  I wanted to make something that demonstrated (mostly for me) how very grownup and together I am.

see, there's a green vegetable that i am going to promptly coat with that big pile of cheese, some oil and lots of buttery bread.  how very adult of me.

You see, as a postgrad, it's the small things that make you feel either incredibly accomplished or like you should just lock yourself inside and never try to do anything remotely responsible ever again. It's like this comic, which has become a sort of anthem for my friends and I in this stage of life due to its stunning (and terrifying) accuracy. One day you are decorating your entire house for Christmas and making cider for your book club that you actually read the book for, and the next day you are running late and there's a pile of dishes in the sink and you end up eating mac n' cheese straight out of the pan.  And your emotions run a similar roller coaster to your functionality.


And so I knew that if I were able to create something mouthwateringly delicious and semi creative, than I would have a responsible high to cruise on for weeks.  Potlucks are tricky, because the food has to be transportable and you also have to predict what others will bring.  I know we are all stunned that I didn't bring a pie, especially with so many options in my arsenal.  But it's the holiday season, and I knew at least half the spread would be sweets, so savory it was.

I discover this tart from my aforementioned favorite blogger, Joy The Baker.  Here's her version.   The minute I saw it I knew it would perfectly suit my needs for something fancy yet entirely doable and affordable.  Here's my version, which is mostly modified due to cost and availability of ingredients.

parmesan instead of gruyere, crescent roll dough instead of puff pastry

2 cans of crescent roll dough
1 lb of asparagus
1 egg, beaten
about 2 cups of grated Parmesan
A few tablespoons of olive oil
Some garlic
1 bottle of balsamic vinegar

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Roll each can of crescent roll dough onto one cookie sheet. Smooth over perforations in dough, creating full sheets of dough.  At this point you can optionally cut the dough into smaller rectangles if you want individualized tarts.  Brush dough with beaten egg. Layer parmesan cheese on top, press asparagus on top in a row. Simmer olive oil with garlic to infuse.  Brush on top of asparagus generously (it will soak into the dough and take it to a whole 'nother level).  Bake for 20-25 minutes or until dough is golden.

Simmer balsamic vinegar in a small pan until reduced to a thick syrup.  Drizzle artistically on top of tart.  Admire, serve and receive compliments while eating.

**We are currently baking a version of this for Christmas Eve dinner, with puff pastry as Joy calls for and thinly sliced apricots snuggled between the asparagus.  Get creative, too!**

This is the recipe for the next time you need a large dose of affirmation in your life perfect dish for a party, holiday or otherwise.  It comes together easy and quick, stands out in a lineup and is also incredibly aesthetically pleasing.  Enjoy!

Italian Amaretto Cookies and Bourbon Hot Toddies

This year, I didn't make any big baking plans for Christmas. My favorite kind of baking is the kind I get to do with little sister A. Sadly for me, she is home in Wyoming with the rest of the family and I am doing the very adult thing of staying behind in too-warm Arizona to celebrate with my in-laws.

But, even though I made no plans and am missing my favorite sous chef, I knew it wouldn't feel like the holidays unless I baked something. Yesterday I offered, then, to bring dessert over to a friend's house. Now, normally this would not stress me out but said friend is notoriously uninterested in dessert. After hours searching the web, I decided to go with the light, sophisticated Italian amaretto cookies to serve with an after-dinner hot toddy.

The result was delightful. I very slightly adapted a Better Homes and Gardens recipe, found here and after reading several hot toddy recipes online settled on the path below.

For the Cookies
1 1/4 cup almond meal*
1/2 cup powdered sugar
2 egg whites
1 teaspoon almond extract
1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 cup white sugar

These have a beautiful flavor and are a nice light ending to any large holiday dinner. They would also be delicious with an afternoon cappuccino or a hot cup of black tea.

Preheat your oven to 325 F. Mix the almond meal and the powdered sugar and set aside. Using an electric mixer, whip your egg whites with the almond extract and the cream of tartar until soft peaks form. (At this stage egg whites should be white, glossy, and fairly stiff but still falling over a bit rather than standing straight up.) Add in the 1/2 cup of white sugar 1 tablespoon at a time and beat until stiff peaks form. If egg whites lose their glossiness you have beaten them too much and should start over.

Fold in the almond meal and powdered sugar mixture. Scoop cookies onto an oiled cookie sheet, parchment paper, or a silpat (I prefer the silpat). They should not spread much but make sure to give them a little space. The BHG recipe said to scoop them out with a 1-inch diameter, but I found they held up well up to a 2-inch diameter and we preferred the large ones. Bake for 15-17 minutes, let cool, and enjoy.

*I used Trader Joe's almond meal but you can make your own using a food processor. Try grinding with a bit of gluten-free flour to avoid turning the meal into a paste.

For the Hot Toddies

According to my five minutes of googling, hot toddies can be made with hot tea or with just hot water, with cloves and star anise or with just lemon, with honey or sugar or both, and with whiskey or brandy or bourbon or even gin. We went with black tea, lemon, brown sugar and honey, and bourbon and didn't regret that for a second.

I made these one at a time so the recipe below will serve just one person. Alton Brown has a crockpot recipe to serve a crowd if you need to do that.

Black tea
Brown Sugar

Heat 8oz of hot water until boiling; add black tea and let steep. Coat the bottom of another mug with honey and add 1 teaspoon brown sugar and 1oz of bourbon. Pour the tea over the honey/bourbon/sugar mixture and stir. Squeeze in the juice from 1 wedge of lemon and enjoy.

Considerations for Food Allergies and Ethics
The Italian amaretti cookies are gluten-free and vegetarian but not vegan and not safe for those with nut allergies.

I consider the hot toddies gluten free. My research indicates it is safe for people with celiac disease to drink alcohol distilled from grains with gluten because the gluten protein is removed during distillation. Others disagree. I get very sick from small amounts of gluten and have never had a problem with bourbon, whiskey, or vodka distilled from gluten-containing grains, but you should make your own decision in consultation with your doctor. If you want an alternative, consider the more adventurous hot gin toddy.

Bittersweet Chocolate Pecan Pie(s)

Sarah's husband Chris is spending his first Christmas in our home, and on the drive here he asked her what sorts of holiday traditions we have together.  Sarah's answer was mostly "Well, we cook, and then we eat, and then we make dessert and then....oh we go on a Christmas Eve ride in our jammies to see the lights!  But mostly we cook."

This is a fairly accurate picture of our holiday celebrations at our Mom's (and our Dad's!), and we love every minute.  For our family, food encompasses what we think is most important about the holidays.  We spend time together cooking, share creative new ideas, give one another new recipes and new tastes, and most of all enjoy talking over a good, well-made meal. Mum makes our favorite meals from when we were kids, Sarah whips up new soup versions, Kate crafts new pies and I fill in the gaps.  There's pie for breakfast Christmas morning and a Christmas buffet feast with our closest family friends. I'm currently eating dark chocolate mousse Sarah whipped up for dessert after Mum made her famous oven-fried chicken.

So while we are about to flood your blog feed with various recipes (including the long-ago promised Thanksgiving pies) we hope you'll be happy to allow us to share the various things simmering (metaphorically and literally) on our stove at the moment.

And now the bittersweet chocolate pecan pies.

yes, I said pies, plural

In the annual pie recipe email frenzy, I sent Kate a version of bittersweet chocolate pecan, thinking it sounded like a new and improved version of an old favorite.

same angle, different pie.  same concept, different recipe.

We made this version for Thanksgiving, and it was phenomenal.  It's essentially a normal pecan pie covered with a bittersweet chocolate ganache, except instead of corn syrup it uses honey and brown sugar, hooray!  This pie is Peter's new favorite Thanksgiving pie, and it was far above better than the usual corn syrupy, overly sweet incarnation.

contestant #1

A few weeks later, I had a holiday party and a specific request for a pecan pie, but I could not crawl back to a classic corn syrup filled one when I knew better was out there (yes, sometimes pie recipe finding is a bit like dating).  Unfortunately, multiple phone calls to Kate went unreturned (cough, cough) and thus I was sent to the interwebs alone.  I found this version instead, more of a dark chocolate pie studded with pecans  I added a generous handful of extra pecans and it received rave reviews at the party.

contestant #2

Both pies come highly recommended.  The ganache version is richer, and closer to a classic pie, while the southern chocolate is smoother and more adventurous.  Either way, you can't lose when you add chocolate to pie, right? Win-win.

Happy Holidays, and may you enjoy your family and food as much as we.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Orange-Chipotle Spiced Pecans

A friend tipped me off to this recipe, and I made them as holiday gifts for coworkers.  Not your run of the mill spiced nut recipe!  I am reposting because I like them so much, and because I made a huge batch for gift purposes and can save you from multiplying things by 4 (helpful, I know!).  I did find they needed more baking time than the recipe suggested.

Kate doesn't like pecans and asked if this would be good with pistachios.  Maybe, but I did 1/4 cashews and thought those were great, so I suggest that as a back-up nut.


8 cups nuts (6 cups pecans and 2 cups cashews)
2 cups sweetened dried cranberries
4 TB freshly squeezed OJ (one juicy orange gave me more than enough)
4 TB freshly grated zest (three oranges were a little short of this for me....)
4 large eggwhites
4 TB dark brown sugar
4 tsp kosher salt
3 tsp ground chipotle chili powder
Cooking spray

What to do:

Preheat oven to 225.

Whisk together eggwhites with juice & zest.  Add pecans & toss to coat.

In a separate bowl, mix sugar, salt, and chili powder.  Mix into nuts.

Spread nuts onto 2 baking sheets, coated w/cooking spray, in an even layer.  Bake for about 1.5 hours until no longer goopy.  Then mix in cranberries.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Vegan Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes

I'm almost fairly certain that you saw this recipe, saw the word pumpkin, and thought "Enough is enough. Thanksgiving is over.  Fall is done.  Pumpkin season is, too.  Let's move on to gingerbread."

I fully support your thoughts on that.  But here in Phoenix, things like weather and seasonal flavors have a mind of their own. The day after Thanksgiving I drove home from K's to find that the tree across the street from my house had just exploded with gorgeous yellow leaves.  Trees do that here, they just sort of decide when they feel like being dressed in reds and yellows, or when they want to bring forth their own green (as a freshman in college, I found this to be the most curious and confounding thing. I still do). So I spent several minutes jumping and crunching in the leaves in the gutter, and then decided that I wanted to make one last pumpkin flavored item.

yes, I am still wearing my fall pants. no judgement.

I wanted to feel the joy that comes from eating something pumpkin when it is actually fall out and also to use up the last of my homemade pumpkin spice and puree that I really don't want to have sitting in my pantry all year reminding me of the season I always miss out on.

Serendipitously, our mother recently sent us all a text proclaiming the goodness of this recipe, the lack of fat, and finally the details of how to accomplish it.  If you'll recall from earlier guest posts by our Mum,  she's quite busy but eager to share with her daughters any new discoveries she makes in the kitchen.  As the first of the family to make the recipe, I'll allow her to share it with you in a similar fashion to her typical guest post/recipe sharing: via an enthusiastic text message.

Later notes from Mum: she made them with walnuts in the batter and cinnamon and nutmeg in the frosting and they were "stupendous". 

A few things:

1) Mum calls them muffins.  You could totally call them muffins, too, if you went without the generous slathering of cream cheese frosting that I went for.

go ahead, lick the spoon. you know you want to.

Or you could go for the cream cheese frosting, add a little maple syrup to really outdo the fall flavor, and garnish the top with your leftover pumpkin spice.  But just be real and call them cupcakes, eh?

2)  I took Mum's advice and added a handful of pecans.  I could pretend that I am totally the sort of pinterest-esque cook that ran outside to my pecan tree (I really have one of those, it's lovely) and cracked them fresh and tossed them in.  But instead I'll level with you and admit that cracking pecans is actually quite difficult, and today, I just wanted simple and easy (which these cupcakes totally fulfilled).  I'll level with you, and then we can all go back to pretending I'm that type of cook when I pin this in a few minutes.

tree-picked pecans not used in the making of this recipe

3) I called them vegan because you remove the eggs and replace with pumpkin, but for it to be truly vegan one would need to check the box mix before baking and not add the cream cheese frosting (clearly).  These could easily be gluten-free, also, if one found a gluten-free box mix instead.

There.  I'll eat this under my pecan tree and then go put up the Christmas stockings I bought for my roommates and make some gingerbread or something. Promise.  Holiday season, here we come.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Spiced Molasses Holiday Pie

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. 

**This post was edited again in September 2014 to give a little background on our favorite special holiday pie!"

This is a recipe for a rich and gooey molasses pie with gingerbread spices that K developed three years ago. The original recipe is still in our archives, but the pie has been so popular it deserves an update. First, some background. This delightful holiday pie was born from a long review of other recipes for molasses pie and shoo-fly pie. The traditional recipes fittingly come from Pennsylvania Dutch country where our Mom grew up. They seem to have a crumb layer in addition to a "wet" molasses filling. Our version instead offers straight-up gooey goodness, with a filling that we think was originally based on this recipe in particular. (K didn't take good notes during her search, so unfortunately we've  never really been sure how it came to be, but that looks very close. If you find something that looks closer, tell us and we'll attribute it here!)

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 generous amounts of 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 amazing.

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.)

Crust Options
The first year, we made this with a Whole Foods frozen gluten-free pie crust, but also thought it would be tasty with the almond meal crust we use for other pies. This year, K used Smitten Kitchen's all-butter, really flaky pie dough recipe with great success. To make it gluten free, she just swapped the regular flour for equal amounts of Pamela's gluten-free artisan flour blend.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

(Easy as) Pumpkin Cream Pie

As you well know by now, K and I long for true fall every year here in the desert and our favorite way of combatting that is through food.  Parady sister classic move, right?  From this, two A&K traditions have been born - the pumpkin spice latte date (the first day of fall each year) and the Thanksgiving pie bakefest.

For the last several years, K and I have spent Thanksgiving with P's kind and welcoming family (notoriously kind - P's father washed my car for me the first time we met).  Our job is to bring the pie, and so for the last several years, pie baking has become an adventure and a favorite activity.  This year, I received an email from K titled: "November 1: THANKSGIVING DESSERTS", which should give you an idea of just how excited we get.  I'm fairly certain we traded about 25 recipes before narrowing down to our planned four and going shopping for ingredients.

This pie is one that actually didn't make the cut this year (read: better things are yet to come), but I instead made it for Friendsgiving this past Sunday, a lovely event that occurred in my side yard with lots of Christmas lights strung in the trees and potluck-style delicious food.  I am not usually a fan of pumpkin pie, but I thought I could give pumpkin cream a shot, and I am so glad I did.  This is officially The World's Easiest And Most Delicious Pie, and I think I've already made four of them, each time to rave reviews from friends and several requests for the recipe.  The only thing to plan for is time for it to chill in the fridge.

Look at Friendsgiving. Isn't it grand? We highly recommend you celebrate Friendsgiving, too.
Joy the Baker is my personal food blog hero.  She's funny, witty, feels like your best friend and also is responsible for the original posting of the recipe.  Click it, bake it, eat it, love it.  Have her become your new best food blog friend, too.  My only variation would be I only chilled it for 4-5 hours each time.  It leaves the flavors much stronger, making for a very rich pie, but myself and my friends thought that that was fabulous.

fall leaves not included.

If you are needing some last minute pie ideas, feel free to visit some favorites of years past, Spiced Molasses Pie with Maple Whipped Cream, Maple Cream Custard Pie and Maple Buttermilk Pie.
But most of all, look forward to hearing what we have been whipping up tonight for this year's treats.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Easy, Savory Tomato-Garbanzo Soup

This soup was a happy accident, the result of leftovers from a riff on Katelyn's Italian Fried Garbanzos.  I will be making it again!  It's a nice way to sneak some protein into a soup, it's hearty and filling, and it could not be easier to make.

Here's all I did:

1.  Rinse 1 can garbanzos.  Heat these, 1 sliced leek, and 4 sliced garlic cloves in olive oil, with plenty of salt, paprika, and cayenne.

2.  Once garbanzos, leeks and garlic are fried, throw them in your soup pot with the contents of two large (28 oz) cans of whole canned tomatoes.  Heat.  Blend with immersion blender.  Adjust seasonings.  Gobble, with bread and maybe some shavings of hard white cheese.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Vegetarian Pho & Banh Mi (feat. my new favorite tofu)

Last month I got married, and went to California for a week-long honeymoon road trip.  The end of the road was San Francisco, and one chilly morning when Chris went running, I took myself out for breakfast pho.  I can see why it's a morning meal in Vietnam - hot broth is very comforting in lieu of a warm bed.

Denver has plenty of delicious, delicious Vietnamese food, but I would still like to get a pho broth down, since none of it is in our neighborhood.  Last weekend I gave it a shot for a group of friends, using this recipe.  I think it really does need fish sauce for the flavor to come out right, and vegetarian "fish sauce" is not too hard to find, so don't skip that if you can help it.  Also, leaving the broth in the fridge overnight before straining out the flavor elements helped the flavor a lot. 

On the night I served it, I brought the broth to a boil and briefly boiled bok choy leaves, small squares of tofu, and paper-thin slices of onion in it.  Serve spooned over hot noodles, with jalapeno slices, lime wedges, sprouts, leaves of basil, mint and cilantro (and the wonderful lemony ngo om if you can get it), sriracha, and plum sauce on the side.  

We also served banh mi with tofu for vegetarians and pork for meat-eaters.  This tofu banh mi recipe, which advises freezing your tofu and then caramelizing it with onions in simple syrup with pepper and fish sauce, is a stunner - definitely the best tofu I've ever made; I can't wait to repurpose it for the holidays.  Served on Vietnamese baguettes (which I understand have some rice flour in them so they're a bit more chewy) with cilantro, jalapeno, pickled carrot and daikon (which you can buy at a Vietnamese market and skip making your own), cucumber, and a spread of mayo + sriracha and small amounts each of melted butter, honey, and fish sauce.

Oh, and I forgot to mention!  Dessert was red bean cakes from the same Vietnamese bakery where I picked up bread, served w/homemade green tea ice cream.

Sadly, the only pic I took in the flurry of getting everything on the table was the herbs and such waiting to be tossed into bowls of pho:

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Pumpkin Spice Pumpkin Seeds

You know those ideas that are pathetically simple, yet leave you wanting to run around your house fist pumping and yelling about how awesome you are?

That's only a Parady sister thing? Oh.

Well, this is one of those.

Last night I made this soup for my poor sick roommate, but only after the classic phone call to an older sister (you know this-and-this recipe that you made that one time? what if I did such-and-such to it?) that resulted in also adding squash to it at the end.

With the leftover squash seeds, genius was born.  Yes, the title of this recipe is a lie, because I couldn't resist that perfect alliteration. I didn't use pumpkin seeds, but YOU could and they would be AWESOME. *fist pumps all around*

Here's how it goes down, the simplest possible steps to feeling like a food master:

Clean seeds out of squash, rinse any leftover goo off of them.  Spread in the bottom of a baking pan.  Drizzle olive oil over the top.  Sprinkle cinnamon, sugar, and pumpkin pie spice on top.  Roast in oven until brown and crispy.  Eat whilst fist-pumping.

*As the sister who is consistently scolding the others for not taking pictures of food, I sincerely apologize for the lack of images in the post.  I was too busy basking in the brilliance. More impetus for someone else to make them, and take pictures!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Italian Fried Garbanzos with Crispy Leeks and Egg

The stretch from late spring through mid-fall was sort of a doozy for us Today I Cooked sisters.

After graduating from college, A got her first post-college job doing work on asset-based community development, said goodbye to many friends headed off on new adventures, and moved into a beautiful rental house. K passed her prospectus defense, taught in New Zealand, got married, and began a dissertation grant-writing bonanza. S did what she does best, taking on and winning complicated and intense legal battles while planning a New York City wedding that just *happened* to fall on the same weekend as Hurricane Sandy. And just like all of you who are reading, I'm sure, we were busy doing these things while trying not to be derailed by the shitty things that happen, like illness and fighting and now of course this storm, which caused so much pain for so many people who were not as incredibly fortunate as our family was.

So now it is November 1st, and S is on her honeymoon after getting on one of the last flights out of the city on Sunday. A is still stranded in New York, but safe and able to come home soon. And me? Well, I also got out of NYC on one of the last flights to clear the storm, but my sweet P is still stuck. So I've had a lot of quiet time, and today I realized that this will be the first month in which I have not flown in well over a year. 

All of which is a very, very long-winded way of saying that to celebrate the beginning of late fall and an upcoming period of relative calm and hopefully less shitty things, tonight I made a warming, filling, nourishing meal. 

Italian Fried Garbanzos with Crispy Leeks and Eggs

Note that I use canned garbanzos because I never go to the right places to buy them dried. I have no doubt dried would be better but canned works just fine. 

1 can garbanzos, rinsed and dried
1 leek, washed and thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic, chopped
Handful of sun-dried tomatoes, finely chopped
Whole-grain mustard
Fresh basil if available, shredded
Italian Spices
Olive Oil
1 egg

Heat olive oil in a medium sized saute pan. Add sliced leek and minced garlic, increase heat until leeks begin to get crispy. Add the chickpeas and toss. Stir in chopped sun-dried tomatoes and generous amounts of salt, pepper, Italian spices, and fresh basil. Let fry for a few minutes, then pour into a dinner bowl. Stir in whole-grain mustard to suit your tastebuds...I was really generous with this and it was delicious.

Crack an egg into the same pan and fry to your liking. Add to chickpeas and enjoy! Would also be delicious with some good Gruyere or Parmesan melted over top and served over grains or greens.

Considerations for food allergies and ethics: dairy-free and gluten-free. Omit the egg for a vegan option.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Salted Oatmeal Cookies (Gluten Free)

I have not baked much over the past year. Especially not the kind of baking where I make random, super lazy guesses about how to adapt a recipe to be gluten free but still delicious.

Well, these cookies reminded me why that's worth doing. Chewy, chocolatey, and with just the right amount of sea salt sprinkled on type. And for all you gluten free bakers out there who are lazy like me, we're talking about just one flour. JUST ONE.

I started with this recipe posted on the Joy of Baking. No real reason, mainly because I am a lazy googler, too, and this came up right away.

1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/4 cup coconut cream (I was trying to use this up. You could definitely substitute for another 1/4 cup butter, or some applesauce.)
1 cup brown sugar (packed)
1 egg
3/4 cup gluten free oat flour
1 teaspoon xantham gum
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3 cups gluten free oats
1 high-quality milk (or dark or even white) chocolate bar broken into pieces
Sea salt for sprinkling

(Please note, I was out of vanilla. This didn't really matter but feel free to use some! Also, you could certainly add nuts or raisins but I am in the staunchly anti-nuts and anti-raisins camp so I'm not going to give you advice on how to do that.)

Preheat your oven to 350. Cream the butter, sugar, and coconut milk (if using) in your mixer. Add egg. Slowly beat in xantham gum, oat flour, baking soda, and cinnamon. Fold in oats and chocolate by hand.

If you have time refrigerate your dough for 1 hour. P and I really wanted cookies, so we didn't do this with the first batch. They were a bit flatter than those that had been refrigerated, but still very delicious.

I used a rounded spoon to scoop out the dough. Form it with your hands a bit--it is a little crumbly when raw. Sprinkle sea salt on top, bake for about 14 minutes, and enjoy! Makes 2 dozen.

Considerations for food allergies and ethics: Well, we all know that being a vegetarian ain't so bad because you can eat all the cookies! These are no exception, however they are decidedly not vegan. Gluten free folks please enjoy, just make sure you are buying certified gluten free oats and oat flour.

**If you are NOT gluten free, just swap regular all-purpose flour in for the oat flour, omit the xantham gum, and use regular oats.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Polenta Pie with Beans & Rice

This post comes to you from one of our favorite Wyomingites! Abby is a serious gardener, a serious economist, a serious lover of historical fiction and romance novels, and a recent convert to mostly vegan eating (with some game meat thrown in for good measure--hey, we said she's from Wyoming). She was also the first person to ever successfully make a gluten-free pie for K, way back in 2007. < 3

Polenta Pie - vegan, gluten-free, serves 4

This recipe takes a little bit more doing than some...but it is worth it!  This is a really yummy and satisfying meal.  Essentially, you will be making a pie using polenta for the crust, a bean and rice mixture for the filling, and an avocado topping!

To start: Polenta crust

Bring 2 c. water to a boil and whisk in 3/4 c. polenta and 1/4 t. salt.  Stir constantly, for 10+ minutes, or until the polenta starts to goop together and pull away from the side of the pan.  Spoon the cooked polenta into a pie pan and spread it evenly over the bottom and sides of the pan.  Set aside.

Next: Bean and rice filling

1 c. vegetable broth (K says use gluten-free broth if that is a concern, Pacific is a good brand)
1 c. water
1 can (14.5 oz.) diced tomatoes
1 small diced onion
1 c. short-grain brown rice
1 T. chile powder
1 can (15.5 oz.) or 2 cups drained/cooked black beans
1/2 c. salsa of your choice

Combine the broth, water, tomatoes, onion, rice, and chile powder in a saucepan and cook until the rice is done (all liquid is gone and the rice is tender).  This takes about 45 minutes.  Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 350* F.

Once the rice is cooked, stir in the black beans.  Dump the rice and beans mixture into the polenta crust.  Spread the salsa over the entire combination.  Bake the pie for 30 minutes.

Last step: Avocado topping

Once the pie is done baking, set it aside to cool and whip up the avocado topping in the meantime.  All this involves is mashing an avocado in a small bowl with 4 t. lemon juice and 1/2 t. garlic powder.  Of course, if you are like me and an avocado LOVER, you'll want to double or triple this!  

Dish out the pie, top with a dollop of avocado goo, and enjoy!

Considerations for food allergies and ethics: Vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, casein free if you use the right veggie broth. 

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Green Bean, Chickpea & Potato Salad

I think potato salad is great. I love it fancy, like I made it last summer, served warm with asparagus and dressed with tahini. I like the kind you can buy at Safeway made with mustard. And P and I can both eat embarrassing amounts of my Aunt Kathie's version, which includes pickles.

Since this summer was a whirlwind and September is just a few days away, I figured I better squeeze some in before it is time to move on from summer salads. You know, move on to preparing fall soups while I pretend it is NOT over 110 degrees F outside. Sigh.

Because I was making this for the work week, I wanted it to be healthy and a good lunch option. You'll need the following:

2 medium sweet potatoes
8 small yukon gold, red, or purple potatoes
Several large handfuls green beans, ends cleaned
1 can chickpeas, drained
16 oz. plain greek yogurt
2 lemons
3 cloves garlic, diced
Fresh parsley
Good quality mustard

Place your potatoes in a big pot and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil. Cook until they are soft but still firm. While the potatoes are boiling, blanch your green beans. (Bring water to a boil, add green beans, cook briefly, then run under cold water.)

After the green beans are cool, dice into small pieces. Add garbanzo beans. In a separate bowl, mix most of the greek yogurt, the juice of both lemons, minced garlic, and several generous squirts of mustard. Mix well, tasting as you go. Add salt, pepper, and minced parsley.

Once the potatoes are done, run under cold water. After cool, slice into smaller pieces. Add to the dressed beans and toss well. Season with more mustard, parsley, salt, pepper, or lemon as needed and enjoy.

Considerations for food allergies and ethics: Gluten free and vegetarian.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Chickpea-Celery Salad

Mostly lifted from Heidi, but soooooo yummy I can't help but share.  I made this once a few weeks back and couldn't wait to get more CSA celery and do it again:

Group One:
2 large handfuls shelled pistachios
1 handful dried currants
1 drained can chickpeas
2 TB lemon olive oil

Group Two:
1 bunch fresh celery (incl. leaves), finely chopped
1.5 cups finely grated parmesan
juice of 1 lemon
handful parsley leaves, chopped

Toss together and bake Group One ingredients in a bread pan in the toaster or oven at 300 until chickpeas begin to brown.  While still warm, toss with parmesan until it melts slightly, then toss in other Group Two ingredients.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Summer Tomato Soup with Jalapeño, Corn, and Peaches

Every summer since I moved to Phoenix, sometime around August I have become obsessed with hot foods prepared at high temperatures. After P and I returned from a 3,000+ miles road trip through Arizona, Utah, Montana, Idaho, and Nevada last week, I immediately made this delicious tomato and zucchini rice gratin. (Highly recommend it. A little labor-intensive, but I did everything in my cast-iron skillet which helped.) Then I baked some savory zucchini and sun-dried tomato muffins that I had hoped to post about, but sadly I didn't really like them.

Keep in mind it was 115+ for the past several days in Phoenix. Even our amazingly high-performing 1970s chiller was having a hard time keeping up. Lucky for me, and for you, on Tuesday the temperature dropped to around 106.  With that wave of cool air, haha, I was brave enough to go for heat again and make this delicious summer tomato soup. I've had it in my mind ever since we bought some roadside peaches from farmers in New Meadows, Idaho.

1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced
5 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 jalepeño, cleaned, de-seeded, and chopped
1 leek, thinly sliced (this was leftover from another dinner, you could leave it out)
2 ears of corn with kernels sawed off
1-2 peaches, sliced
Roughly 56 oz. of canned or jarred fire-roasted tomatoes (if using cans, look for cans free of BPA)
1 can coconut milk
3 Tablespoons butter
Juice of  1/2 lemon
Ground ginger
Sea salt
Crushed red pepper

Avocado, for garnishing
Sharp white cheddar, for garnishing

Melt the butter in your soup pot. Add onion, garlic, jalepeño, and leek (if using), with a good shake of salt and crushed pepper and several good shakes of ginger. Cook on medium heat for 10 or so minutes.

In the meantime open all of your jars or cans of tomatoes. Pour into your soup pot, along with about 1/2 the can of coconut milk. Squeeze 1/2 lemon over the soup. Simmer for 10 or so minutes. Taste. At this point I used one of the empty cans to add water, and also added more spices and the rest of the coconut milk.

Add your sliced peaches and simmer for another few minutes. Then, immersion blend until the soup is fairly creamy, but with some texture. Add the corn kernels and stir well.

Serve with avocado slices and a good sprinkle (or blanket, ha) of sharp white cheddar.

Considerations for food allergies and ethics: Vegetarian and gluten free. Replace the cooking butter with olive oil and skip the cheese if you are vegan. 

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Herbed Brown Butter on Angel Hair & Asparagus

Melt a stick (yeah....) of butter and toss in sage leaves, chopped chives, and the leaves of a few stalks of marjoram or thyme.  Heat on low until butter browns and leaves get crispy.  Add some pine nuts.  Pour over angel hair pasta and steamed asparagus, with shavings of parmesan.

Wilted Kale Salad with Lemon, Currants and Pumpkin Seeds

The CSA box is good for the creativity.  This week, we got kale, kohlrabi leaves, beet greens, and some others.  And this salad was my favorite thing I've made in awhile.

1.  Tear the greens up.  Halve about half a pint of cherry or grape tomatoes.  Juice a lemon (two if paltry) and finely grate about a cup of parmesan.

2.  Heat olive oil (citrus-flavored if you have some) and, when it's hot, toss in the greens and tomatoes and half a cup of currants.  Turn with tongs until the greens wilt and turn a darker shade of green and tomatoes start to just barely look cooked.

3.  Put the greens & tomatoes in a salad bowl and add the lemon juice, cheese and 1/2 cup of pumpkin seeds.  Serve warm.  

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Vegetarian Tortilla Soup

I almost posted this recipe sans anecdote, and then I remembered Chris, munching happily on a tortilla strip, asking, "So what did you make these from?"  (Yep....... tortillas.)

Group One:
1 diced onion
3 thinly sliced carrots
3 thinly sliced celery stalks
2 tsp ea: Paprika, Cumin
1 tsp salt
2 Tb butter

Group Two:
2 cups cooked rice
1/2 can tomato paste
2 chipotles canned in adobo (deseeded and diced)
2 tsp adobo from can
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 cup fresh chopped parsley
3 large cloves garlic, chopped
**other diced veggies you want to sneak in (I had kohlrabi and summer squash)**

Group 3:
10 cups veg broth
1 TB soy sauce

Group 4:
Chopped cilantro, quartered limes, sliced avocado, feta or cotija cheese

Group 5
1 package fresh corn tortillas, sliced in strips
Vegetable oil

Sautee Group One in bottom of sauce pan until soft, about 10 minutes, adding garlic from Group 2 about 5 minutes in.  Then add rest of Group Two and cook another 5 minutes.   Then add Group 3 and simmer.  Top with Group 4. 

Make tortilla strips (Group 5) by heating about 2 inches of oil in a deep frying pan, throwing strips in (careful not to splash yourself, and removing w/tongs to dry on paper towels once crispy (about 2 minutes).  Shake a little salt on while they cool.  Yum.  Add to soup and gobble. 

(Based on this recipe which includes chicken and is probably amazing for the meat-eaters!)

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Chopped Lentil Salad

Between the two of us, P and I have traveled to New Zealand, Mexico, New Mexico, Texas, California, Colorado, Montana, and Wyoming in the last six weeks. (Mostly for work.) From this information alone, you can probably guess that we 1) are very fortunate to have fantastic jobs and 2) haven't been eating all that well. We're finally back together and though there are upcoming trips to Idaho, Missouri, Colorado, New York, North Carolina, and who knows where else, for now we are getting back to eating together and eating well. Using what we had on hand the other night, I came up with this fantastic, filling salad. 

I have used some self-constraint and titled this post "chopped lentil salad". But if no one on the internet cared about long titles, I would call this what it really is: "Chopped Lentil Salad with Tomatoes, Avocados, Spinach, Red Onion, Bacon and a Smoky-Lemony Hummus Dressing." Yesss.  

Make this however large or small you need it to be. I don't like chopped salads that feel like you are mainly eating bacon or eggs or whatever. For that reason I was heavy-handed with the spinach, tomatoes, and lentils, but as always you should make this to suit your personal preferences.  

Salad Components
Chopped fresh tomatoes (I used 1/2 container of baby heirlooms from Trader Joes and some of P's garden tomatoes)
Chopped avocado (1 small avo for us)
Chopped spinach (many large handfuls chopped into tiny pieces)
Lentils (I used about 1 cup of the pre-prepared container of lentils available at Trader Joes. A nod to "convenience", also known as "laziness and lack of planning".)
Chopped red onion (just a bit)
Cooked and chopped bacon (about 4 slices)
Thinly grated Parmesan cheese

Dressing Components
Several tablespoons hummus (plain or whatever kind you like)
Juice of one lemon
Smoked paprika, salt, and pepper to taste
Splash of olive oil

Dressing salad with hummus is super easy and another way to sneak in some protein. I also rubbed the lentils down with some additional lemon juice, smoked paprika, and olive oil.

Considerations for food ethics and allergies: Gluten free, but please check your hummus ingredients just in case. You could omit the bacon and this would still be delicious and vegetarian. If you are vegan or dairy free, omit the cheese and you're good to go!

Friday, June 22, 2012

Food from New Zealand Year Three and a Bit About Pavlova

For three summers in a row I've taught a study abroad program in New Zealand for undergraduate students from the U.S. I try to avoid romanticizing the country--it has extreme health disparities and environmental problems despite its squeaky clean image--but one thing I do love through and through is the food. Being a part of the Pacific Rim means that there is a lot of amazing Asian food available, and they also cater to food allergies so it's a delightful place to be gluten-free.

Poached eggs with potato cakes, spinach, and tomatoes
It is not that I've even had any extraordinary meals there. It's just that I love the day to day food. Lots of roasted veggies, amazing cheese and yogurt, asian flavors and spices, lentils and beans in every salad, kumara and squash aplenty, and fantastic chocolate. Yum. 

Unfortunately I spent a large portion of this trip with a very sick student in and out of hospitals, and that zapped my energy for taking photos and doing some of the things I would usually do while traveling. So, I didn't take as many food photos as the first year I went, but here are some shots of a beautiful dessert I had in Auckland, the country's largest city. The professor I taught with convinced me that we should spend our last afternoon grading in the city's space tower, where we had high tea. It was absolutely lovely. The photos are a bit blue, sorry!

Macaroons and other goodies

Kiwi fruit with chocolate and a mini Pavlova with preserved lemon

One new thing I learned this year is that Pavlova is a dessert that originated in New Zealand (or maybe Australia, I think this is contested). I am not a huge fan of meringue, but the owner of a country home that I stayed at may have changed that. She served us a Pavlova--which for those who don't know is basically meringue cake with a crisp outer shell and a soft, marshmallowy inside--that was absolutely delightful with homemade whipped cream and blueberries. In the photo above it was served with preserved lemon. I preferred the berries. 

Maureen, the lovely woman that I stayed with, has promised to send me the recipe. Until then, the best I can do is refer you to Shuna Lydon, who has a nice Pavlova recipe over at one of my favorite websites, Simply Recipes. 
See why I keep going back?

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Pasta with Multi-Herb Pesto & Flash Fried Spring Veggies

CSA box conquered in one dinner:

A hailstorm thinned the proceeds for the first week of our CSA, so I won't go declaring victory over the piles of greens too loudly.  I found myself with a mix of relatively small quantities (about 5 sprigs each) of dill, parsley, cilantro, sage, and oregano, plus a lot of green garlic (scapes!  new to me!  curly and great-smelling!) and arugula.  I decided to blend them all into a pesto, and boy am I glad I did.

Heidi outlines the method for making pesto by hand here.  Basically though, you just need an ulu (or mezzaluna if you will) and about 45 minutes to chop, and chop, and chop, and chop.  Chopping by hand instead of with an electric blade really does lead to a whole different texture.  Plus, you know... wrist strength.... for.... better typing? 

I used all of the abovementioned herbs (though only a few leaves of the sage), and I am pretty confident that all kinds of other things - mint, tarragon, basil itself - would have blended just fine into the fresh springy flavor.  Instead of garlic cloves I used 3 of my scapes, and instead of parmesan I used a hard goat gouda (very goaty, great flavor with the herbs).  And of course, pine nuts:

After chopping, and chopping, and chopping, I finished with some lemon-flavored olive oil:

(I probably chopped for another 10 minutes after that pic....).  Then, I sliced a bunch of small red carrots; a small head of broccoli, and a bunch of asparagus into paper-thin ribbons, and chiffonade-d a few kale and kohlrabi leaves, then flash-fried these in very hot lemon olive oil with a little salt.  Tossed it all with fresh pasta as shown above.  Nothing like fresh veggies!!  <3

Farmer's Market Finds

I adore farmer's markets. I appreciate that they have the same feel wherever you are, yet each is unique. Most of all, who can complain about the opportunity to purchase local and fresh produce and products? Two friends and I decided to make good use of our Saturday and scout one in the area.

flowers from Maya's Farm (at the Farm at South Mountain)

I bought yellow heirloom tomatoes ( I love all the true colors of tomatoes), and already have made Simple Chicken with Tomatoes with those. I'm deciding what to do with my zucchini and carrots, purchased from the International Justice Mission's refugee farm. I may make a small zucchini boat, or zucchini bread when I finish my sugar fast later this week. I'm entirely open to suggestions or new recipes.

I made sure to buy a fresh baked loaf of bread, because I refuse to buy any with high fructose corn syrup. Lastly, I bought pasta that I always find at farmer's markets here and that is a personal favorite. I chose Spinach Basil Garlic, and plan to mix it with some garlic goat cheese and Queen Creek Olive Oil according to a tip from the owner of Pine, Arizona's Goat Creamery (where I bought the goat cheese earlier this summer).

What are some of your farmer's market finds from the summer? What do you plan to make with them?

peach cooler and raspberry lemonade popsicle made from fresh juice

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Costa Rican Casado and Guanabana Batidos

Last summer, I studied abroad in Peru and Costa Rica for nine weeks total, an adventure I miss on a daily basis.  This summer, I'm braving the heat (read: whining a lot and attempting to resist the temptation of blasting the air-conditioning) in Phoenix.  I recently had dinner with two of my roommates from Costa Rica, and we decided to attempt to recreate our favorite Costa Rican meal.

why we really miss costa rica and wanted to make a meal to help us remember

Typical Costa Rican fare is simple, but delicious. When one goes out to eat in Costa Rica, one goes to a soda, or small family-owned restaurant.  For breakfast, there's gallo pinto, or rice and beans mixed together.  For lunch, there's casado, or a plate that usually consists of rice, beans, a small piece of meat (or vegetables, for vegetarian), and either plantains or yucca.  The plantains can either be maduros, soft and simmered in cinnamon and sugar, or tostones, crispy and fried in oil and salt.  For a drink, they serve batidos, which are fruit juice blended to make it frothy.  Guanabana, or soursop juice, is a popular pairing for casado. Here's what casado looks like when actually in Costa Rica:

my mouth is watering at the memory

For our recreation, I google'd like crazy.  I was surprised at the lack of recipes, but pieced together my own recipe from a large number of others.  In reality, each soda has its own version of casado, so this recipe is for the version I would serve, if I were to own a soda.  I can't guarantee it tastes exactly spot on, but the concept holds true.

For the Rice: 
Simmer diced onions and peppers and some garlic in a little oil until the onions are translucent.  Add one cup rice, mix until it's been covered with oil.  Add one cup water and cook as normal. Basmati is best.

For the Beans: 
Simmer diced onions and some garlic until onions are translucent.  Add a can of black beans and simmer until finished.

For the Side Salad: 
In Costa Rica, this is often cabbage with maybe just shredded carrot.  If you want to get really fancy, look up a Heart of Palm salad.

For the Tostones:
Take a plantain.  Slice it shortways, into pieces about half an inch thick.  Fry each in oil, about 3-4 minutes per side.  Remove from oil, flatten with either a spatula or all at once by pressing down with a plate.  Dip each in cold water before returning it to the oil for about one minute per side, until crispy.

For the Chicken:
I simmered chicken in a saucepan with chicken broth and more onions and peppers.  Seasoned with salt and pepper.

For the Guanabana Batidos:
Buy guanabana nectar from a store like Food City.  The kind we got came in a can.  All I did was pour it in the blender with a tad bit of milk and some ice, then blended until it was nice and frothy. It should separate quickly into juice and froth, you can continually stir it up before you drink it or drink it just that way.

So there you have it.  We found that this healthy dose of casado, along with a long round of looking at pictures and sharing memories, was the best cure for Costa Rica longing we could cook up here in the States.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Baked Poblanos & Portobellos

Bake 2 poblano peppers (de-seeded & sliced into quarters), about 8 baby portobellos, and a handful of tomatoes, drizzled with olive oil and balsamic and sprinkled with salt, at 425 for an hour in a glass baking dish.   Then add 1 cob of corn kernels and some crumbled goat cheese and bake another 10 minutes.  Swipe a knife through the dish a few times to chop things up, and spoon over ravioli or corn tortillas. 

Monday, May 28, 2012

Warm Grape & Toasted Pita Salad

Completely addictive.  From Herbivoracious.

3 cups red seedless grapes, halved
3 thick pitas, chopped into 1/2 inch squares
6 oz ricotta salata, cubed or crumbled 
1 cup chopped fresh parsley
2 tsp fresh or 1 tsp dried thyme leaves
1/2 TB freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 TB toasted sesame seeds
2 tsp red pepper flakes
Salt and sumac to taste
Olive oil

Heat a 4 TB olive oil with red pepper flakes in a deep skillet.  Add pita squares and toast until light brown and crispy around the edges.  Move to a bowl.  Heat grapes in the same skillet, without adding more oil, until heated through and beginning to sizzle and lighten, about a minute or two.  Add grapes, cheese, and remaining ingredients to bowl.  Toss, taste, and adjust quantities of lemon juice, herbs and spices, and olive oil.  Serve immediately (or, if not possible, serve chilled). 

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Paprika-Lime Butter for Corn

Mixed this up last night (for barbecue #2 of summer 2012), thinking of a Denver restaurant that serves grilled corn with a slice of lime, queso fresco, paprika salt, and butter.  It was yummy on the corn and I saw people spooning it over their shrimp skewers, as well.

Juice of 3 limes
1 TB paprika
1 tsp salt
1 TB finely grated parmesan (or any of a number of cheeses...)
3 TB melted butter

PS:  Annalise made a batch herself and unlike me, took a pic! Here ya go, corn in the background...

Friday, May 25, 2012

Sweet Potato Quinoa Cakes with Blackberry Salsa

These little guys were my favorite vegetarian burger-replacement in many a barbecue.  (Thanks to K for sending me the recipe.)

Group One:
1.5 large (or 2 small) sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped
1/2 red onion, diced
1 tsp salt
2 tsp chopped garlic
olive oil

Group Two:
1 cup cooked red or black quinoa
1 cup  bread crumbs
1 cup finely grated parmesan cheese
2 TB ea. chopped ilantro & basil
1 egg, lightly beaten

Group Three:
Chopped blackberries, cilantro, very fine slices of red onion and serrano pepper, lime juice, and salt.  

Cook your sweet potato and onion cubes in oil with salt for about 10-15 minutes in a large covered skillet - long enough to really soften those potatoes.  Then add the garlic and cook another minute or so.  Also cook your quinoa.

In a large bowl, mix the potato mixture (Group One) with the quinoa and other Group Two ingredients.  Mash together a little, pat into little cakes, and grill (or brown in a skillet).  Top with a salsa made of Group Three.  Next time, I may use them as veggie burger substitutes and serve with a bun and some condiments, but this salsa is great.

These quantities made about 8 cakes.

Caramelized Pear Ice Cream

Creamy dreamy very yummy ice cream from The Perfect Scoop.  I am informed that I should not even offer people chocolate sauce for this stuff, because it just detracts from the pear-ness (a little cinnamon and maybe a phyllo confection of some kind might be a better bet).  Here's what you do:

Peel and dice three ripe pears.  The smaller the dice, the easier the later steps.

Cover the bottom of a heavy nonreactive saucepan or skillet or what-have-you with 3/4 cup + 2 TB sugar.  Turn on medium high heat, and let the sugar melt and caramelize (you may want to stir gently when the edges start to melt to get the rest of it going). 

Once it is a deep amber color, add the pears.  The sugar will then seize up into pesky hard bits.  Do your best to get them to melt again by stirring and pressing into the pot with a heatproof spatula.  I find this is easier if you wait long enough (until that sugar really is amber and bubbly) to add the pears. (Properly caramelized sugar makes the flavor what it is, anyway).

Cook the pears in the sugar until soft, maybe 10 mins.  Remove from heat.  Add 1/2 cup heavy cream.  When that is mixed in, add another 1.5 cups cream, 1/8 tsp salt, and a few drops of lemon juice.  Allow to cool.  Liquify in a blender, then pass through a strainer to remove any pesky pear (or hard sugar) bits.  Chill overnight and blend according to your ice cream maker's instructions.

Amazing as it is, I might turn this into a custard next time.  Or add a ribbon of actual caramel.  If so, I will update this post accordingly.

By the way, if you want to make some pretty awesome ice cream without any machine at all, check this out.

Avocado-Grapefruit Salad

It's been awhile since I posted a straight-up salad.  I have to remind myself sometimes to blog things that I'd make again, even if they are not revolutionary New Recipes Nobody Has Ever Thought of Before.  So, Phoenix people, I realize you probably have all eaten this or something like it 1.5 million times, but allow me to marvel over it from (still-chilly) Colorado...

3 red grapefruits
3 avocados
Head of butter lettuce
2 handfuls pistachios
Olive oil, salt, soy sauce, white balsamic

Cube the avocados, tear the lettuce leaves, and remove the flesh of the grapefruits keeping it as intact as possible.  (If you don't mind pith you could leave some of that in, but I hate the stuff and try to remove it thoroughly.)  Reserve the grapefruit juice separately from the flesh, as you may not want to pour ALL of it on your salad.  Crush the pistachios a little. 

Toss the avos, lettuce, grapefruit flesh, feta, and nuts in a liberal quantity of grapefruit juice, a drizzle of olive oil, salt to taste, and tiny splashes of white balsamic and soy sauce.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Salmon With Peach Sauce

One of the ways that I am changing my life since graduating from college is taking advantage of the time that I have to cook more often and to eat healthier.  Along those lines, I recently decided I was going to cook some salmon, in the interest of becoming more of a contributor to this blog than various versions of chicken and rice.

Learning to purchase and cook salmon was an amusing experience that involved me accidentally calling big sister S (the vegetarian one) to ask her advice on purchasing salmon and googling how to remove fish scales (which landed me on the helpful page "Frequently Asked Salmon Questions". You really can find anything on the internet.)

The learning, however, was so worth it.  I had some leftover peach preserves from a friend's wedding in January (for favors, they canned their own peach preserves.  How adorable is that?) and yet another friend brilliantly suggested putting them on salmon.  I remembered that Robin Miller of Food Network (one of my favorite cookbooks is her Quick Fix Meals) often uses preserves and the like in cooking. I decided to utilize those preserves, and the result was delicious.  Here's what I did:

look Ma, I'm eating my greens

Purchased small wild Alaska salmon fillet from butcher at Safeway.  Preheated oven to 350 degrees.  Descaled it using this method found via internet searching.  Set in a piece of foil, drizzled with lemon juice and olive oil.  Wrapped in foil, placed on baking sheet.  Mixed a 2-1 ratio of peach preserves and soy sauce, respectively, in a bowl, until well blended.  After about 15 minutes of cooking, added preserves mixture to salmon. Cooked another 10-15 minutes until flaky, but not too dry.

I imagine this would be delicious with any type of fruit preserves.

There, one step closer to shedding the title of finicky little sister. ;)

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Summer Dessert: Grilled Fruit & Ice Cream

My favorite variation:  Grilled peach slices served over vanilla ice cream with cinnamon and honey.  This was the ending to many bbqs last summer, and this summer I can make the ice cream myself, too! 

Also delicious:  Grilled strawberries or cherries over vanilla ice cream with reduced balsamic vinegar.  Grilled pineapple over chocolate ice cream with a little chocolate syrup. 

Warm Quinoa Salad with Chickpeas & Chard

Quinoa is a popular food here at Today I Cooked (and let's face it, across the food blogosphere). We like it with lentils, toasted and maple-y for breakfast, fried into quinoa corn cakes, as a flour for cake,  in tamales, served with roasted veggies and avocado, and lots of other ways, too. My sisters and I could subsist on cheese and carbs if left unchecked, so quinoa is a good high-protein option for us.

This is what you get when my camera is broken
I make variations of this salad regularly, because it is easy and delicious.

1.5 cups uncooked quinoa
2 tomatoes
2 lemons
1 large bunch chard
1 bunch green onions
2 shallots
1 15 oz. can chickpeas
2 tablespoons pesto
4 tablespoons hummus
Fresh Basil
Sea Salt

Start your quinoa cooking either in a slow cooker or on the stovetop. It cooks much more quickly than rice, so pay attention! Open and rinse chickpeas and add to a large serving bowl. De-stem and tear chard. Slice green onions and shallots. Chop tomatoes. Add all of it to a bowl. In a smaller bowl, mix pesto, hummus, and the juice of two lemons. Stir into beans/tomatoes/greens mixture. Once quinoa is done, add to bowl. Season with sea salt and thinly sliced fresh basil. 

Considerations for food ethics and allergies: Gluten free, vegan, vegetarian, soy free.

If you are like us and still have chard to use (see below), try this. Alternately, check out how my good friend Heather is dealing with this chard-knock life

Community gardening in the desert Southwest