Tuesday, December 21, 2010

I'm just not a meat eater.

Apologies for the lack of posting this month. I've been busy. Head spinningly so.
But tonight I decided that when I got home, I was going to make a dish inspired by this one at Food52. I made butternut squash pancetta mac and cheese. It was incredible. But I have to say, not being a native meat eater, I don't think I'll ever appreciate what is, in my opinion, the superfluous addition of meat to excellent-already recipes. Sitting with my bowl of pasta, hot from the oven, I found myself eating around the pancetta. And when I was done, I saw that I had automatically pushed all of my serving's meat to the side, to remain untouched, to be thrown out. It's fine, it just means I learned something about myself. That I am who I am! It's okay. And that when Mr. Ripe returns from California, he will be quite happy on a cold, hungry night to know there are squash pancetta mac and cheese leftovers in the freezer, just waiting for someone to reheat in the oven.

Butternut Squash Pancetta Mac and Cheese
1/4 lb pancetta, diced, browned, and drained on paper towel
1 2-3 lb squash, cut in half lengthwise, seeds discarded
16 oz ziti, cooked al dente
2 T butter
1 T flour
1 c milk
1 c grated cheddar cheese
1/2 c grated gouda (I used goat gouda)
1/2 c Bridgid's Abbey (from a greenmarket, if you can find it, or just use more cheddar)
salt and pepper to taste
tiny pinch nutmeg
Parmesan
Paprika

Place your squash, cut side down, on a baking sheet and bake about 45 min at 375. While this bakes, heat butter in a medium saucepan. Add flour and whisk to cook it evenly. Add milk. Whisk until mixture thickens slightly, then add cheeses and continue to stir until mixture is fairly homogenous. Turn off heat and set aside. When squash is done, scoop out and mash the insides. This can be done in the blender. Then add the squash and pancetta to your cheese sauce. Combine with pasta and pour into a greased casserole dish or a 9x9 square pan. Sprinkle top with parmesan and paprika. Bake at 375 for 20 minutes.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Mustard Greens with Whole Wheat pasta

Working at the farmers market definitely has its perks (duh). I'd never bought mustard greens before in adult form. I'd only had it in baby size, in salads for surprise bite. But the adult plant, some leaves purple, some jagged and green, is quite something itself. I think this dish must be traditional Italian but, not being Italian myself, I can't say that with any certainty. Just the simplicity and ingredients remind me of something I would make more often if I were a genuine Italian person.
Give it a shot and tell me what you think. Leave a comment and tell me if my Italian gauge is spot-on or totally out of whack... and I'll go back to writing about what I know.

2 bunches mustard greens, one purple, one green, if possible
5 cloves garlic, diced
3 whole anchovy fillets, diced or smashed with a fork
crushed red pepper, to taste
salt, to taste
1/2 package whole wheat spaghetti
cooked chickpeas (optional)

In a pot of boiling water, blanch mustard greens for about 30 seconds (may take two batches) and then shock them in ice water. Set aside to drain. In a large skillet, heat 1 T olive oil on medium heat. Add garlic, anchovy, and crushed red pepper. Cook until garlic is lightly browning. Add drained mustard greens and a large pinch of salt (you won't need too much because anchovies are salty). Saute until all of the water has evaporated and greens have cooked, about 5-7 minutes. If using chickpeas, add them now. Cook pasta according to directions. Drain and toss with olive oil. Serve pasta in bowls with greens heaping on top. You may top with Parmesan if desired.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Warm roasted salad

Tonight's dinner will make enough for two, or enough for one and lunch the next day (which was obviously my master plan).
My new boss gave me one of his last buttercup squashes on Saturday because I told him I didn't think I had ever had one. My favorite winter squashes had been his Marina di Chioggia, an heirloom dark green, gnarly pumpkin, the delightful delicata, and of course, butternut. But I am so happy that I was given this prized small green winter variety, the buttercup. I was planning on just slicing crosswise and roasting, cut-side down on 400, but I had this idea gnawing at me and I just couldn't ignore it. The idea said: salad, salad, salad...chickpeas, chickpeas, chickpeas...warm, warm, warm. I followed the impulse and ended up with a very tasty roasted buttercup squash chickpea salad with wilted kale and mustard greens.
I ate it without grains, but cooked some oat groats in vegetable stock to bring with the leftovers for lunch tomorrow.
I promise this recipe is simple. And if you end up thinking it's complicated, please please leave a comment and I will address your needs! I want seasonal simple food to be accessible and if it is not, I'm not doing it right! Tell me what you think.

1 buttercup squash (or a small butternut), peeled and cubed into 1" cubes
1 small onion, rough chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 t tumeric
1 t cumin
1 t cinnamon
1 t salt
1 T olive oil
1 1/2 c cooked chickpeas (or from a can)

In a large bowl, mix all of the ingredients. Spread evenly on a baking sheet. Bake on 400 for 30 minutes, checking once or twice and stirring ingredients with a spatula.

Greens
Chop a large handful of hearty winter greens. I used kale and mustard greens. Place in a skillet on medium high heat with a few tablespoons of water. Cover and cook for about 3 minutes, until greens are just wilted.

I apologize that my camera is on Long Island, without me. I know everyone likes pictures but I urge you to try this one even though I have none. It is so. good.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

If you don't think this is beautiful then we can't be friends.


As much as I started to strongly dislike Alice Waters after she made some comment about eating local, healthy food being a matter of priority, ignoring issues that might hinder one from eating in such a way (such as accessibility and socioeconomic status and privilege, just to name a few), the woman is good at what she does.
I happened upon her Chez Panisse Menu Cookbook at the Central branch of the Brooklyn Library and had to take it home with me. The book itself is very pretty, even in its tattered library-used condition. There are illustrations and the layout is quite simple, just like Ms. Waters' food. Recipes are straight forward. Simple. Not completely accessible (she says things like "Flame the pan with the Cognac," and even I, a self-proclaimed seasoned cook, am not sure I entirely know what she means by that), but overall, pretty inspirational.
I started browsing the book in the bath last night, and one recipe stayed with me. I thought about it on and off all day. It was the recipe for new potatoes in parchment paper. Easy. Of course. Who would need a recipe for something like that? But, as Ms. Waters explains in the introduction, we have gotten so far away from simple food, that an easy recipe such as new potatoes baked in parchment paper with a touch of butter and fresh thyme can be read as more exciting than it should be. This isn't to say shame on us but, it is to say that Alice Waters brings simple food back, without shaming readers or eaters. Instead, she entices us.
Tonight, with Chez Panisse on my mind, I roasted new potatoes, radish, and turnip with a pat of butter and a few sprigs of fresh thyme from my windowsill. I cut all of the vegetables into about 1" pieces, dispersed three small pats of butter, and laid the thyme on top. I roasted for 30 minutes on 400. The results? Beautiful. In taste and looks. Mission Accomplished.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Yes, Yes, Yes!

Revere simple foods. Vegetables taste good! NYmag writes about it: http://nymag.com/restaurants/features/69372/


Awesome.

Fall Foods


Last night I had a small gathering for what will likely turn into a seasonal event. I hosted the first Fall Foods dinner. Although it was only last night, I am already looking forward to the Winter Foods dinner, which will be followed by the Spring Foods dinner! The Fall Foods dinner was a potluck that encouraged guests to bring, if possible, only something homemade and/or local. Pretty incredibly, we ended up with a wonderful spread. Everyone brought a dish and/or drink they were proud of, and there was a feeling of communal pride when the table was set with our fabulous looking handicrafts.
We started with a cheese plate, bread from the farmers market, and homemade hummus, along with pumpkin ale and red wine. The main course followed. It consisted of brussel sprout slaw with pancetta dressing, cassoulet, sweet and spicy carrots, beans and greens, salad with beets and goat cheese, cinnamon black rice with butternut squash and goat cheese, and mushroom lasagna (my contribution).
Even though we had eaten so much as the main part of the meal, dessert was phenomenal. One guest brought a gingerbread spice cake with not-too-sweet whipped cream, and another brought her mother's special recipe Linzer Torte. Wow. A feast of feasts. (Can't you see why I'm already looking forward to the next one?)
Last night wasn't just about good food though. It was about spending the night in a cozy apartment, catching up with old friends, reminiscing about college, and meeting and learning about new friends. By the end of the night, we were all stuffed. But I had a few moments of bliss, in which I felt really grateful to be a part of such an evening. A friend who has been living in Boston commented that I was making her miss New York enough to move back. It would be an understatement to say that the night was merely a Success. It was much more than that!
Below is the recipe, almost exactly from Ina Garten, for Mushroom Lasagna (the dish of which we have no leftovers!). I made the bechamel and cooked the mushrooms the night before, which made assembly much faster.
Bechamel Recipe:
Make the bechamel the way Ina tells you to, even though it's not my top secret favorite way to make it. Pour into a container and set aside until it comes to room temp, then refrigerate.

Mushroom Recipe
1 1/2 lb portobello mushrooms, stems discarded, sliced into 1/4" thick strips
1 T olive oil
2 T butter
2 sprigs fresh thyme

In a large skillet, over medium flame, heat olive oil. When oil is hot, add mushrooms. Stir. Add butter and fresh thyme. Cook on medium heat, about 10 minutes, until liquid has been released and mushrooms are just done. Remove from heat and set aside.

Assembly
Cook 1 package lasagna noodles al dente.
Grate 1 c parmesan cheese.
In the bottom of a large casserole dish, at least 12" long, 8" wide, spread a layer of bechamel. Layer noodles on top. Then layer more sauce, mushrooms, and grated cheese. Repeat twice more, starting with noodles. When done, place final layer of noodles on top, spread bechamel, and top with remaining cheese. Bake at 375 for 45 min covered, 15 min uncovered. Serve.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Simply martha

Look, you can think she's absolutely crazy. A criminal. Too wholesome (?). Think what you want, but Martha Stewart is a freakin genious. That's all there is to it. She's a genius. She is one of the experts, no questions asked. What Martha says is good is good. The end.
So when I googled Oatmeal Raisin bars, thinking I wanted ideas for how to make simple, good, wholesome Oatmeal Raisin bars, and this came up first, I was satisfied.
In a very un-Meg fashion, I followed the recipe. Yes, I. Followed. A. Recipe. I didn't change anything*. I used parchment paper. I used a whisk. Melted butter- the full amount. When Martha said to level the flour after measuring, I leveled!
*I will say that I do not actually have white flour in the house, or have it very rarely. So I used my trusted whole wheat flour. I'm sorry. Get over it. It tastes better, and it's not like I needed special white flour for elasticity or something. So there. All you critics can just shove it.

You can go directly to Martha's site for the recipe. And browse around. She's fun!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Clotilde, you're onto something

I'm really into baking with yogurt. I like that it makes baked goods have a flavorful tang, and I like that it gives potentially drier cakes and muffins a delightful moistness. I volunteered to bring breakfast for my class tomorrow, and I was about to make a recipe that is already posted on here: blueberry yogurt cake (a great, but dangerous recipe--last time I ate almost the entire thing alone, in one day), but instead I opted for a healthier choice: Clotilde's Blueberry Bran Muffins.
I multiplied the recipe by 1.5 so that I'd have enough to bring to class and some leftover to eat at home and to feed my house guest, too. (I'd hate to be a visitor in someone's home and see them baking at night, and wake in the morning to an empty apartment with no goodies to breakfast on!)
Since I didn't have paper cupcake liners, I made some out of parchment paper by cutting it into 4"x4" squares and then pushing the squares into lightly greased muffin tins. This worked rather beautifully, in terms of functionality, but not in terms of actual physically beauty. That is, next time I'll cut them smaller because some of the finished baked muffins ended up with indentations where the paper bent into them (if you know me, you know this aesthetic glitch doesn't bother me at all, but it could easily disappoint others).

Physical beauty aside, these muffins were delicious. I tried one just now as a tester (wouldn't want to serve the whole class less than A+ work), and I was pleasantly surprised given the relative liquid nature of the batter pre-baking.

Blueberry Bran Yogurt Muffins (and leftovers for cake in an 8x8 pan)
adapted from Chocolate and Zucchini

1 1/2 c wheat bran
1/4 c boiling water
1 1/2 c flour
1 1/2 t baking powder
3/4 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
1/2 c turbinado sugar
1/4 c granulated sugar
1 1/2 c frozen blueberries
1 1/2 c full cream vanilla or plain yogurt (I used Ronnybrook vanilla yogurt which I think is way less sweet than most)
2 eggs
3 T vegetable oil
dash vanilla extract

In a medium bowl, measure out bran. Pour hot water over bran, mix gently, and let stand 5 minutes. In a large bowl, mix other dry ingredients. Add frozen blueberries, toss to coat w/ dry mixture. In a pyrex measuring cup (or in another bowl), mix yogurt, eggs, oil, and vanilla. Add the soaked bran to the blueberry mixture. Then add the combined wet ingredients and stir until well-incorporated but allow lumps to remain (if any). Spoon into lined muffin tins or into an 8x8 inch square dish lined with parchment or lightly greased. Bake at 350- 15 minutes for muffins, 25 minutes for cake.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Finally fall

Even though fall officially started weeks ago, the New York weather has vacillated from almost-cool to summer-hot. Finally, yesterday and today, the weather has been cooling down. It's chilly out! "Jacket weather". I love it.
Don't get me wrong- I love spring and summer warmth. But I look forward to having to layer up: long sleeved shirts, vests, sweaters, turtlenecks (yes, indeed), long socks, smartwool, tough boots. I look forward to needing these layers of clothing and now, the truly cold weather is approaching and it is exhilarating!

I'm not sure if it's living alone, the cool, biting air, or the fact that I have been navigating Brooklyn by bike, riding nearly every day just to feel the air rushing by my face, making my eyes water, but I have been really happy these days. I feel lighter, calmer, just plain good, just being. I see I've written myself into a tangent, but I guess it was worth sharing on the blogosphere. When I came home today, after a long ride all over south Brooklyn, as soon as I stopped sweating, I was cold! I took out a soup pot and started at it. I had potatoes, leeks, onions, jerusalem artichokes, and skinny celery, all from the farmers market. Easily enough, I turned my fresh fall ingredients into an off-white soup, rustically pureed into something just right for warming up at home, alone. My ingredient list is below, but you may add whatever you want. I ended up with having a sort of white color theme, but any fall vegetable, especially root crops, will taste good in here. It's soup, come on, how can you mess up? Give it a try! Having had only 1 bowl, I'm ready for bed. It's been an exausting weekend. Fortunately I have this entire pot of soup to keep me going through the week.

Fall Soup
1 1/2 T butter
1-2 leeks, 2 c chopped
1/2 c chopped onion
1 c chopped fresh celery, leaves removed
5-6 white-fleshed potatoes, skins on, chopped
3 jerusalem artichokes, peeled and chopped
1/2 head cauliflower, chopped
3 sprigs dill, chopped
1 bay leaf
pinch whole peppercorns
salt

Over medium heat, melt 1 T butter. Add leeks and onion, and let cook, stirring occasionally, about 5-10 minutes, careful not to let brown. Add the rest of the ingredients. Fill pot with water until 1 inch from the top. Bring to boil. Reduce to simmer, cover, and let cook 1-2 hours. Remove from heat and puree with immersion blender if desired. You can make it as chunky or smooth as you'd like. Return to low heat and add remaining 1/2 T butter. Serve sprinkled with fresh dill.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Lazy Saturday Soup

Last night I told myself I'd stay in. Not only was I tired but I had been soaking cannellini beans for the past 18 or so hours and they had to be cooked, or they would go to waste. I gathered my ingredients. A red onion. A yellow onion. A quart jar of the Roma tomatoes I put up a couple months ago. Half a bunch of kale from Bradley Farms (so good, so worth the $3 price tag). And on and on (don't worry, full ingredient list below).
I admit, this pot took a good almost 3 hours of simmering to be perfect. But damn, it was perfect! So simple, so easy, no reason to not make this soup.
With an hour of simmering to go, I invited over a couple of good friends. We ate it with a crusty baguette and a bottle of wine. We listened to records- Laura Nyro, David Bowie, Chaka Kahn, Captain Beefheart. We had a wonderful Saturday evening at home, indoors, with excellent food and a warmth that only good hearted friends who love to laugh can provide.
I will definitely aim for more evenings like this one.

Ribollita Soup
2 c dry cannellini beans, soaked in water overnight or up to 24 hrs 
1 T olive oil
2 medium onions, chopped small (you can use whatever kind you like)
half a bunch of kale, chopped
about 2 c chopped green cabbage
1 russet potato, chopped
1 quart/4 c canned tomatoes in their juice, can be whole, diced, whatever
1 T crushed red chili pepper (optional but so good)
1 t ground chipotle pepper (optional)
5" parmesan rind
water

Drain and rinse beans. Set aside. In a big soup pot, heat olive oil over medium heat and add onions. Sautee. Add all the rest of the ingredients, including beans. Then add water until liquid level in pot is about an inch and a half from the top. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally, then reduce to a simmer. Cover and simmer for about 3 hours, or until beans are soft and you are ready to eat.
Serve with a piece of stale bread or toast in the bottom of the bowl and topped with grated parmesan cheese. Add salt to taste.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Easy plum cake. It's pretty, just make it.

I had a moment last weekend during which I had a pang of anxiety: Oh No, I have to say goodbye to stone fruits until next year!
The thought was quite unsettling. I am not yet ready to see them go! I didn't even make stone fruit jam yet this year! Obviously not the end of the world, but I'm sure it symbolizes bigger things for me (the end of summer fun, warmth, transitioning back into doing work, being busy...). Either way, I needed to calm myself. What did I do? Along with a *so delicious* liter of cider, I purchased a pint of Italian plums from Red Jacket Orchards. (Side note: cider is so good. I think it often goes under-drunk... it's one of fall's most amazing treasures.)

With the plums, I made a quick cake.
1 1/2 c sifted whole wheat flour
1 1/2 t baking powder
1 t salt
1 egg
1/4 c oil
3/4 c sugar
3/4 c milk
1/4 c plain yogurt (optional-- my batter was a bit too thick so I added this and it did the trick)
6-8 Italian plums, halved and pitted
1/2 T butter, cut into little pieces
small handful sugar

In a large bowl, mix dry ingredients. In a glass measuring cup, mix wet ingredients plus sugar. Pour wet ingredients into dry. Stir until combined. Butter or oil a round cake pan. Pour in batter. Then place plums, skin side down, cut side up, in batter in any arrangement you think looks nice. Dot the top with butter and sugar. (This makes it have a nice crunch on top.) Bake at 375 for 30-40 min.

Dinner tonight is accidentally spot-on!

Last week Saturday I bought the most beautiful cauliflower on Saturday. On Sunday, I stumbled by the Cortelyou farmers market, which is way small but adorably so. It feels like a real community down there.
Anyway, I'd been waiting for sunchokes, and I found them down there (YES!!!) at Muddy River Farms. They sat in my fridge all week because I didn't want to waste them, use them for the wrong dish, have them go under- (or- even worse, un-) appreciated.
Tonight on my way home, I was near Sahadi's, so I stopped in. I figured, I could cheat on dinner a bit. Once in a while buying store-bought ready-made foods are ok. So I bought a Kofta Kebab (ground lamb with sweet tasting spices) for $1.75 and hopped on the train.
Once home, I made a single serving of whole wheat cous cous, and also prepared my lovely cauliflower and sunchokes. Maybe not as surprising as I originally thought, the flavors matched and complemented each other perfectly! Quick-roasted curried cauliflower and sunchokes tasted wonderful alongside kofta kebab atop cous cous. Who knew (not me...but now I do!). The only thing that may have made this meal better would have been dried apricots somewhere in there. Something fruity. A challenge for next time.
Today's eating cheap and alone was a success. Maybe even a double success because it was a bowl-meal. And who doesn't love a meal you can eat in one bowl?

Curried Cauliflower and Sunchokes

About half a head of cauliflower, cored and cut into florets
1 whole onion, chopped
4-5 sunchokes, peeled and sliced into 1/4" pieces
2 T olive oil
1 1/2 t curry powder
1/2 t diced jalapeno or other hot pepper (optional)
pinch salt

Mix ingredients in a baking dish (I used an 8x8 square pan). Cover and put in oven at 425 for 20 minutes. Uncover and continue to roast about 5-10 min. Serve. (it's really that easy)

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Yes, I'm a messy cook


 I am a messy cook. I can't help it. I know, I know, cooking professionally it's all about being super clean, keeping your station clean. Even at my best, in the professional kitchen, keeping clean took major effort. But even then, there was a dishwasher. Someone whose job it was to wash the dishes! There's a difference between keeping your station clean and having to keep your whole kitchen clean, all dishes included.
That said, I don't even manage to keep my station clean when I cook at home. The whole kitchen=my station when I'm home alone and, while this is wonderful (definitely not too many cooks in my kitchen!), it also means Meet the Mess.
Aside from the mess, I'd say I make a mean dinner. Or breakfast. Or baked good any damn day of the week I please. So there.
Tonight, as I left my unpaid "job" (part of my training) at a psychiatric hospital, I really wanted to go for a bike ride. But when I got home, all I wanted to do was make dinner! So I did. And the royal We (I) made a terrific squash gratin, also from Deborah Madison's Savory Way cookbook.
You know, usually I don't stick to recipes (and no, I didn't stick to hers tonight completely), but when I'm falling in love with a cook book again (gosh, now I feel guilty. I actually bought this book for my mother last April for her birthday and then sneakily stole it the other week), I like to try to replicate things my way.
Anyway, the weather has been cold in New York, and I've just really wanted food I can eat hot from the oven, warm up for lunch the next couple of days, and really just enjoy comfortably. With this dish (and the one from the last post), I feel great cooking and eating. I know what's going into each dish, and all of the ingredients are from the market or friends' farms, which is just amazing to me. It's comforting in so many ways.

Squash Gratin
olive oil
1 small red onion, chopped
1 small yellow onion, chopped
6 sage leaves, torn into pieces
1 bay leaf
butter
1 butternut squash, peeled (a peeler works well), seeded, and cut into 1" pieces
1/2 c shredded or cut up swiss or colby cheese (anything, as long as it's not too sharp, will do)
1 c warm whole milk (I switched to Milk Thistle, in case you're interested)
about 3 slices of stale bread, crusts ok as long as they're not rock hard

In a bit of olive oil in a skillet, heat onion and herbs. Cook on low-medium heat for about 15 min. Remove bay leaf. Set aside. Bring a pot of water to boil, salt it generously, and add squash. Return to boil and simmer 2 min. Drain, but BE SURE TO SAVE SOME WATER FROM THE POT. Use some of this water to soak the bread. I did this in a bowl. Then I removed the bread pieces and removed the hardest crust pieces. Squeeze excess water from the bread if you can. Chop with knife.

Butter a square baking dish (or gratin pan, if you have one), and layer onions in bottom. Layer squash on top. Cover with cheese. Pour milk on top. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Distribute bread pieces on top. Cover with foil and bake at 350 for about 30 min. Uncover and cook another 30 min.

Monday, October 4, 2010

#5 in Eating Cheap and Alone

 Hello potatoes and fresh as fresh-can-be greens. Meet cream. And salt. And pepper. And the oven at 325 degrees. I hope you like each other, you're gonna be in that pan together for about an hour.

What's the true best way to eat cheap and alone? Have a friend who has a vegetable garden snip you some kale, chard, and spinach. And maybe some other things for later, like huge green peppers and heirloom tomatoes. Oh, and have said Friend live on a street where there are planters of sage and rosemary.

Tonight, I was able to combine my Maxwell Farms potatoes (russets-- the cheapest they sell, at $1/lb) with the freshest greens possible to lay hands on. This potato-greens gratin adapted from Deborah Madison's The Savory Way was so delicious, I tried to lick the pan. No joke. I couldn't quite reach, though.  I bring you a recipe for gratin for one or two people. I ate mine alongside leftover striped bass that I bought from Blue Moon fisheries on Saturday at Grand Army Plaza. $5 worth got me through dinner on Saturday with leftovers of the poached fish enough for tonight and tomorrow's lunch. Now that is some good value! Truly, this gratin, though, was the highlight tonight. The fish was just my self-imposed protein.

This gratin is to me what I love about chowders and creamy soups, but in a relatively more solid form. It was creamy, potatoey, tasty, and the greens were just superb. I urge you to try this yourself. Makes a great side dish. And I'm sure the leftovers will go great with eggs tomorrow morning!
Mini Potato/Greens Gratin
2 medium russet potatoes, sliced into 1/8" or 1/4" rounds
2 big handfuls of hearty greens (kale, chard, or even spinach will do)
1 c cream or half+half
salt and pepper

Bring a medium saucepan of water to boil. Add salt and potatoes. Simmer 5 minutes. Remove potatoes with slotted spoon. Add greens, and simmer for a minute. Remove. Lightly butter a small baking dish (I used a 5" ovenproof skillet with 1 1/2"-high sides). Layer half of the potatoes in the bottom. Then spread out a layer of your greens. Layer remaining potatoes on top. Add salt and a liberal sprinkle of pepper. Bake at 325 for about an hour, or until dairy is mostly absorbed.

Note: I had to place a sheet of foil on the bottom of the oven so that the gratin would not boil over and burn on the oven. It doesn't hurt to take this extra step.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

...and about that ricotta

By the time my monkey bread was done, it was time for dinner. As good as it was (and it only got better with time as the sweet risen bread had time to soak up the syrup), earlier in the day I had decided and committed to using last night's fresh ricotta with broccoli rabe and pasta. I did a bit of prep work just whipping the ricotta with some salt and olive oil in in the food processor.
Keeping to plan, dinner was a success. I am going to have to buy another quart of milk and make more ricotta, because this stuff is so good! I think next time I'll also buy some higher quality olive oil, because I really think whipping the homemade cheese with better oil will make a world of difference.
I feel spoiled by my dinner, and even further by the bounty I enjoyed all summer.
Warning: cheesy moment (and I'm not talking about ricotta). I want to relay to you, my readers, that I feel truly grateful for having access to local farmers' harvests.

OK this was dinner:
1 bunch rapini, bottom inch cut off and tossed out, the rest chopped into inch long pieces
pot of water, boiling rapidly, salted heavily (make it taste like the ocean. for real.)
olive oil
2 cloves garlic, sliced
crushed red pepper
salt
whole wheat pasta of choice
whipped ricotta cheese

Blanch rapini in water. Set aside. In a skillet, heat olive oil. Add garlic and cook until it starts to color. Add crushed red pepper and then rapini. (You may have to do this in batches depending on the size of your pan.) Add generous pinch of salt and saute 2-3 minutes. Serve atop whole wheat pasta with a dollop of ricotta. And enjoy.

Monkey Bread and other musings

I've come across recipes for monkey bread a million times before. And it always looks so good in photos. And those who know me well know I have the biggest sweet tooth of perhaps anyone I know (which works to my detriment, of course, in the way of cavities...) Well anyway, today I was feeling a bit down, and all I wanted was some buttery, bready, sweet comfort to sink my teeth into to make me smile.
I consulted my favorite virtual wholesome cooks and bakers and settled on a happy medium in ingredient and style between Smitten Kitchen and the Pioneer Woman. 'Cuz you know, as much as I like to study, cook, preserve, eat, buy, and talk about wholesome local, seasonal veggies and fruits, I also fully embrace fats and sugars as essential parts of life that must be celebrated at times!
So here's to celebrating. Hello to delicious whole wheat monkey bread (didn't you just know I had to draw the line somewhere!). See below, let mouth water, and get on with the baking!
Here's what you need:
3 T butter, melted
1 c whole milk (I use Ronnybrook creamline)
1/4 c water
1 packet yeast
4 table spoons sugar
3 c whole wheat flour
pinch salt
Mix butter, milk, water, yeast, sugar in bowl. Place flour and salt in separate large bowl. Make a well in the middle of the flour. Pour wet ingredients in, and mix until you can no longer mix with a wooden spoon. Dump out onto floured surface and knead, 10-15 min, until dough is elasticky (I made up this adjective because whole wheat flour does not become smooth and elastic as does its white counterpart. That is ok. Just stop after 15 minutes.) Put kneaded dough into lightly greased bowl, cover with plastic, allow to rise 1-2 hrs, until doubled in size. Pat dough into rectangle and cut into 6 strips one way, 8 another, so that you have 48 little pieces of dough. Ball each individually and then put the balls in a large bowl. Then:

1/2 stick butter, melted
1/2 c sugar
3 T freshly ground (or not) cinnamon
Pour melted butter over the pieces of dough. Put sugar and cinnamon into a plastic bag. Toss buttered dough pieces into plastic bag, trying to separate into individual pieces that will coat with the cinsugar.
Then put into a buttered cake pan (or bundt- I just didn't have one). Cover with plastic wrap again and let rise 45 minutes in a warm place. Uncover, and bake at 350 for 30 minutes. While it is baking, make glaze by whisking:

1/2 stick butter, melted
1 c brown sugar
1/4 c maple syrup (optional)

When monkey bread is done, put a plate over the pan and invert it to get the monkey bread out. Pour glaze on top. Serve warm. OMG OMG OMG!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Ricotta!

I made ricotta just now! How cool! I thought it would be easy but not THIS easy!

I finally remembered to return 2 quart bottles to Ronnybrook today at the Grand Army Plaza market...and picked up a new quart of their creamline milk (the best).
I also bought a bunch of broccoli rabe- it was the last bunch (!!!) at Maxwell farms. I was super happy to walk away as if it was a gold medal! Anyway, on my way home, I thought, hey, I can make ricotta and serve it with sauteed broccoli rabe and some whole wheat pasta!

So here's the ricotta. So easy, so awesome. It tastes delicious! Here's what to do:

2 c whole milk
1 T lemon juice
pinch salt

Bring milk to simmer over low heat. When the simmer is pretty rolling, add lemon juice and reduce heat to even lower. Simmer for two minutes. Strain through cheese cloth or fine mesh sieve. The end!

Friday, September 24, 2010

#4: Breakfast of Champions

Two egg posts in a row: allowed?
Regardless, here it is. Instead of trekking down the street to Tom's Diner for greasy eggs and potatoes, I'll keep the 6 bucks and make my own feast right after I unnecessarily move my car for street cleaning (which apparently doesn't happen on Sukkot?)... yeah.
Two eggs over easy served atop raw tomato sauce with rosemary homefries. And toast with chevre.

If you're cooking for one, which I am still doing, you will need:
Olive oil
1 small onion
2 small potatoes of any kind (I used the last of my Carolas)
salt
rosemary
*optional washed spinach leaves*

butter
2 small (although sold as "large") eggs

RAW TOMATO SAUCE: 1 blanched tomato+2 cloves garlic+pinch salt in the blender/food processor

TOAST+CHEVRE

In small pan on medium heat, heat a bit of olive oil. Add onions. Cook 5 min. Add potatoes, salt, rosemary to taste. Cook until potatoes are done. If using spinach, throw it into the pan just as the potatoes are finishing and let it cook down. Dump potatoes out onto plate.
In same pan, melt butter.
Crack your eggs. Cook until whites are set, then carefully turn over. Over easy is the best way. Period.
Pour a puddle of tomato sauce onto plate next to potatoes. When eggs are done, serve atop tomato sauce. Season with salt and pepper. Eat with toast. Yum.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

#3 How to eat Cheap and Alone: Midmorn Corn

You read that right...
In my excitement about this summer's bounty, I almost completely forgot about corn. You'd think it wouldn't be easy to forget about, considering both that I love corn and that the Sunday NY Times magazine has been running fresh corn recipes for weeks now (see here and here or here). Can you believe, I went almost the entire season without buying a single ear? Sweet, juicy, crunchy, fresh summer corn is one of those things that if you're not careful you won't see again till next year.

So I made a point of buying some ears (and it's so cheap!). This morning, post-jog, I whipped up scrambled eggs with chevre and fresh corn kernels served alongside a favorite of mine: versatile chipotle black beans.

I think next up will be corn pudding or grits or corn fritters... we'll see.

Fresh corn scramble with black beans:
1 T olive oil
1 small onion, chopped (about 1/3 c)
1 can organic black beans with liquid from can
1 t chipotle pepper powder
pinch salt
 sliver butter (less than 1/4 T)
1 ear fresh corn, kernels cut off the cob*
1-2 eggs
1 T chevre (I used Vermont butter and cheese co.)

Start the beans first. In a small saucepan, heat oil on medium heat. Add onions and cook until softened a bit (about 5 min). Add beans, chipotle, and salt. Stir. Bring to simmer.
Heat butter in pan on medium heat. Whisk eggs, about 1/2 c corn kernels, and chevre and add to pan. Jostle pan and move eggs around until just done.
Check beans-- most of the liquid should have evaporated. Serve alongside eggs.
You'll probably have leftover beans and corn. Definitely save these for snack later- the beans are great atop rice or with tortillas or chips.


*I save the cobs in case i want to use them to make a quick corn soup or something with their good flavor later on.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Veggie Curry with Rice Noodles

While I was really into my series, "how to eat cheap and alone," tonight's dinner made use of a bunch of farmers market produce that was sitting in the fridge just dying to get used. I had to cook it for fear of not using it soon enough! So this is more like dinner for 4, or for 1 with leftovers (which is how I will be using it).

In tonight's curry, I attempted to cook with half of a cup of simple peanut sauce I made on Sunday and neglected to use (peanut butter, mirin, soy sauce, and chopped fresh cayenne pepper, all whisked up). I added this peanut sauce to onion and garlic being sauteed in butter along with added chopped orange squash, an ear of corn kernels, and carola potatoes. After I added the peanut sauce, in went one chopped tomato, light coconut milk, orange cauliflower, and spinach. Spices were thrown in without measurement: mustard seeds, garam masala, fennel seeds, cumin, paprika, and whole black pepper. I stirred. I covered. I sat down for 15 minutes. I came back and boiled water for rice noodles (though this curry could easily be served atop rice or regular pasta) and allowed the curry to simmer uncovered. When the rice noodles were done, so was the curry.

This dish was brightly colored (see for yourself!), pungent, fresh. I will admit, I even saw a little green worm crawl off of the cutting board. For you insect-phobic people, this is a good thing! If the worms want to eat our food and survive, it means it's safe, it's tasty, it's pesticide free! These are positive qualities of our food!

I sat down at my dining room table, added torn pieces of fresh basil and mint to my bowl of rice noodles and curry, and topped it off with sriracha. And I ate until there was nothing left in my bowl. The end.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

#2 in the series of How to eat Cheap and Alone

 
Yesterday I went to the farmers market. Oh, how good it was! It makes me feel amazing being able to go there, touch the vegetables, talk to the vendors, smell the smells. It is one activity that always puts a smile on my face without fail.

Yesterday I didn't buy much. I am cooking for one, after all, and yesterday was only a Wednesday. (If I run out of goodies post-Yom Kippur, I can always go down to the Cortelyou market on Sunday.) I bought a beautiful head of orange cauliflower, some carola potatoes (that supposedly taste like butter), purple carrots, orange carrots, beets, SPINACH, and some button mushrooms. Oh and a cute, cute, cute orange squash about the size of a large orange. I can't wait to eat squash! (I am going to try to stick to farmer's market fare for as long as possible, although I predict stopping at some point in the dead of winter, sick of potatoes, apples, and squash.)

OK so tonight's edition of how to eat cheap (and alone) is spinach and mushroom quesadillas. Easy Peezy. My ingredients were either from the farmer's market (all of the veggies) or here, at home, but I want to emphasize that buying vegetables from the farmers market is typically cheaper and better quality than anything you will find in a store--the veggies used for this meal cost less than $3 all together, and they tasted like what they were, instead of like "COLD" (which is how I find supermarket veggies tend to taste!). It is entirely possible to cook healthy, wholesome, tasty meals for cheap.
Here's what you need:

1/2 T butter
2-3 T chopped onion
8-10 big button mushrooms, sliced
a few fresh oregano leaves (or any herb. or none.)
salt and pepper to taste
3 small bunches (about 2 c loosely packed) spinach, washed well
cooked or canned black beans (optional)
1 oz cheddar cheese (optional)
3 tortillas

In a medium saute pan, heat butter on medium heat. Add onion and cook until translucent. Add mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, until they release their juices and then cook down, about 10 minutes. Now add oregano, salt, and pepper. Stir. Add spinach and cook, tossing ingredients, until wilted. Remove from heat. In another pan, heat tortillas. If making quesadillas, assemble one at a time by layering shredded cheese, veggies, and beans into a tortilla and either folding after several minutes or laying another tortilla on top (I use both methods).**

**These quesadillas are messy. A better way to eat this messy food may be to make straight up cheese quesadillas and then eat your veggies on the side, with a fork.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

How to eat cheap and alone

The past two weeks, and hopefully the next couple of months, are an experiment in just how cheaply I can cook and eat healthy, wholesome meals for one. Mr. Ripe is off in the bay, and I am alone at home in our awesome new apartment.

I love to peruse other people's food blogs for inspiration, but there is one in particular that has been extremely helpful in laying out exactly how possible it is to cook at home using great ingredients (yes to farmers market produce!) for cheap. Not Eating Out In New York, a blog based in (of all places) Brooklyn (what what) provides readers with healthy, cheap, green meals in very simple terms. Cathy Erway's writing style and food ideas are simple (I find them quite comparable to my own) and accessible. I had her blog on my mind tonight when I made my super simple leftovers dinner from last night's dal atop two slices of whole wheat bread spread with Vermont Butter and Cheese company's original chevre. It may sound yucky, and my apartment may smell like an Indian restaurant, but this meal was super satisfying, tasty, and definitely cheap.

Here's the recipe from last night's dal. And think of this post as one of many to come in the series of How to Eat Cheap and Alone!

3/4 c split yellow lentils (or mung dal)
2 1/2 c water
2 whole cloves garlic
1/8 t cumin
1/8 t turmeric
3 T vegetable oil
pinch black mustard seeds (like really maybe 8 individual seeds)
pinch asafoetida

Rinse lentils. Place in pot with water and bring to boil. Add garlic cloves, cumin, and turmeric. Reduce heat so lentils simmer and almost cover the pot with the lid (leave it open a crack if possible). Simmer about 1 hour, or until lentils are soft and resemble lumpy mush. Remove from heat. In a small saucepan, heat vegetable oil. When hot, add mustard seeds and asafoetida powder. Cook until mustard seeds begin to make popping sounds, then pour spice oil over lentil mush. You now have dal! Enjoy over rice with freshly squeezed lemon and charred onions.

Enjoy again the next day atop a piece of toast slathered with chevre!

PIGS!


In an age when factory farming and antibiotics given to all animals, healthy or not, is scarily commonplace, it's nice to see articles like this one in the NY Times. It gives me hope. Especially after returning from another wonderful weekend in the Berkshires, after attending the season's foodiest event: North Plain's Pig Roast!

Now now, you may know that, as a Jew and a relative non-meat-eater, I do not usually enjoy the thrill of roasting a giant animal and then eating it. But there were a few wonderful details of the pig roast that made it quite exhilarating to be able to take part in. To start, the farm on which the even took place was a farm benefit. Proceeds from the mere $35 tickets (which, may I add, sold out before 6:30 pm on the day of the event), went right back to the people who supplied the night's delights. All of the food and drink served at the event was either from the farm itself, or from very very close surrounding farms. And man, you could sure as hell tell.

To be honest, after eating the local cheeses (including that BOMB Monterey Chevre) and the freshly made baba ganoush, and then having my second course of buttered sweet corn, beans, fire roasted summer squash, and fresh salad greens with a light vin, I wasn't even hungry for the meat! By the time the two big ol' pigs and one veal calf (all raised on the farm, killed by the men who fed them for their whole existences) were removed from the spits, I was stuffed to the brim. I managed to take one bite of some meat someone brought me on a plate, and to nibble on one of the 40+ chickens that were also slaughtered on the premises and roasted over the fire.

Local food prevails and continues to make me happy.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

One more time, Go GreenMarket!

I know all summer the few times I posted I raved and raved about farmer's market produce and the exhilaration I feel when I'm at the market. But I just can't stop! Until the local farmers' bounty is no longer available for purchase by me, I will continue to feel blissful and simply happy every time I cook in my kitchen. Knowing where my food comes from is one way I practice mindfulness in my everyday life. It gives me a satisfaction, a basic good feeling that stays with me.

Tonight I made stuffed baby eggplant with feta. Here is the ingredient list:

3 baby eggplants (about 5-7" long, 1-2" in diameter)
2 cloves garlic, diced
1 small onion, chopped
5 plum tomatoes, cored and diced
1 yellow sweet pepper, sliced
1/4 c oat groats (I bought mine from Cayuga Organics, but they're also available from Bob's Red Mill)
1/4 c water or broth
2 t salt
1 t dried oregano
1 oz goat feta cheese (optional)

Start by preheating the oven to 375. Next put the oat groats and water or broth in a small sauce pan. Bring to boil, reduce to simmer, and then cover. Cook until water is absorbed, even if they may seem a bit chewy to you- they'll cook more with the veggies and in the oven. While the oat groats cook, heat a large skillet on medium heat. Add olive oil. When oil is hot, add onion and garlic and cook until onions are translucent. While these saute, cut each eggplant lengthwise and then scoop out its flesh with a spoon. Set the eggplant bodies aside. Dice the scooped out flesh and add it to the cooking onions and garlic. Cook for 10 min, then add tomatoes. When tomatoes begin to break down and veggies get watery, dump the oat groats into the skillet with salt and oregano. Saute and then cover skillet to allow oats to cook more, for about 10 minutes.
Place eggplant skins in a baking dish and fill with veggie/oat mixture. Cover with foil, and cook for 30 minutes.
Serve with crumbled feta on top. Yum!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Could-be-vegan Thumbprint Cookies

After my blueberry picking adventure in Roscoe, NY, I made jam. For some reason, one jar did not seal properly when I processed it, so I am trying to use it as soon as possible. I thought...jam tart? blueberry newtons? And then I came across this awesome recipe on Post Punk Kitchen and altered it so as to make it NOT vegan. haha. Here's what I did, and these cookies are rich, rockin, just the right amount of sweet, mm-mm-good.

3/4 c blanched sliced almonds
1/4 c pumpkin seeds
1 c rolled oats
3/4 c whole wheat flour
1/3 c softened butter
1/3 c maple syrup
1 t vanilla
1/4 t baking soda
pinch salt
jam

Grind almonds and seeds in food processor. Add the rest of the ingredients and process until mixture turns to dough. Roll into what PPK calls "walnut-sized" balls and indent each one with your thumb. Fill indentations with a bit of jam. Bake on greased pans at 350 for 13 minutes.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Small Batch Green Tea Ice Cream Experiment

So the week of Mr. Ripe's birthday, I tried to make mixed berry gelato. It was a bit too eggy for my liking (which I didn't think possible), and I was so impatient that I didn't wait for my custard to cool before putting it in the ice cream maker. Today, a day off from work, I decided I would try again. Do the right thing, you know what I mean?

I awoke mid-morning and began with my secret experimental ingredient: Agar-agar. I soaked 1/3 of a kanten bar in water and then I trekked to the corner store, bought a quart of Ronnybrook Creamline milk, and got started. At home, I poured 3 cups of milk into a medium saucepan and dropped in 2 green tea bags. I put the heat on low, whisking occasionally. While the milk heated, I got the rest ready. In a medium bowl, I separated an egg (which, I must say, was not an ordinary egg, but one of 12 farm-fresh eggs my friend Rebecca brought me from the Berkshires--sweet!). I dumped the white down the drain. I measured out 1/2 cup of sugar. When the milk was hot, I discarded the tea bags. I took my agar-agar and drained the water from it. I mixed the agar-agar into the egg yolk as well as 1/4 cup of the sugar. I tempered the egg mixture with about 1/4 cup of the hot milk, and whisked. I added the tempered egg mixture into the pot of milk, as well as the leftover sugar. I turned the heat to medium and whisk-whisk-whisked until the mixture came to a boil.

And then I poured it into a bowl and set it in the fridge for 5 hours to chill.
Later, I poured it into the ice cream maker.
It was blissful.
Fuck yeah.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Blueberry Cake

I receive the culinate newsletter and often browse and delete it. This morning, however, my eye was caught by something simple that I was immediately attracted to. Yogurt cake. I love yogurt. I love cake. I have an abundance of wild blueberries from last week's expedition to Roscoe, NY.
This cake is amazing. I baked it in a pyrex square dish, but you could also bake it in a regular circular cake pan. You could also make it into little sweet muffins, too, if you have a muffin tin. Fruit is optional, but a very nice addition to the tang and moistness lent by the yogurt.

I urge you to try this simple recipe:

2 c sifted whole wheat pastry flour
1 t baking powder
1/4 t baking soda
pinch salt
1 c sugar
1 c yogurt
2 eggs
1/2 T vanilla
1/4 c veg oil
1 c blueberries

Sift and mix dry ingredients in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, mix the remaining ingredients. Then add to the dry and mix until incorporated. Fold in blueberries. Pour into greased baking dish and bake for 50 minutes on 350.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

For real, summer, you make me love you.

Now that I'm back into posting action, and it's summer, get used to me blabbing on and on about local, farm-fresh produce. I just can't help it! Last Saturday I had off, which is unusual after working every weekend. I roused myself early and made a trip to the Glass Shop, a darling coffee shop at which a friend works. We shared ice coffees and a chocolate-cinnamon sticky bun, a breakfast treat even stickier than and as rich as it looks, but worth every bite!!! Then I left, and headed to the Grand Army Plaza farmers market. This market is the second largest market in NY, a stat that meant and still means nothing to me. But what really stood out to me was the good vibes that filled this market. In NY, people talk about how the Union Square greenmarket is the best in the state, maybe even in the US. I've always thought this was nonsense. Visiting the Grand Army Plaza market confirms my hunch that this claim is hullabaloo. Fooey. That's right! Nonsense!

The Grand Army Plaza market just felt right! Not hustle and bustle and overwhelming garbage one encounters while in Union Square. This market had tons of variety, great options, friendly vendors, and good deals to be had all around. I bought a ton of things, staying within my self-imposed $30 budget, including greens, nightshades (my favorites), cheese, plums, and berries.

I want to share with my readers my mid-evening meal. Tonight, feeling peckish after a snack of jerk chicken from Peppa's, I roasted some of my leftover market treasures in some olive oil in a cast iron in the oven, set to 400: cloves of spring garlic, a whole sweet pepper, three sliced 2-inch baby eggplants, and halved heirloom tomatoes. The veggies cooked for 20 minutes, till juices were bubbling from each, and I ate the platter, with bread and cheese. Just fantastic. New York, summer, you do make me love you.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Finally, finally back

Has it really been since May that I posted here? I guess it has. Summer's been busy! I moved to Crown Heights, Mr. Ripe came in from the Bay Area, and I started working at a restaurant in Manhattan. I didn't want to post, I guess, because I was a tad embarrassed about the blog. Truly, I was. But now that everyone seems to know about it at work, I say fuck it. As exhausted as I am from working the past seven days straight, I came home happy today, excited for my three day weekend on an actual nationally recognized weekend!
And despite scarfing down some veggies at work before I left, I feel hungry. So I'm in the process of making a simple summer green quinoa salad. It's gonna rock, I know this already.

The ingredients are green by accident, but they are so amazing looking and so exciting as they are all either from the greenmarket in Union Square or from the farm my brother is working on in Connecticut on and off this summer. Knowing where my food comes from makes it that much more exciting for me. And working in the restaurant makes me exponentially more inspired to create!

Here you have it, summer quinoa salad made simple, with no measurements whatsoever--those ratios are up to you:

Cooked quinoa
sliced small zucchini
blanched romano beans, cut into 1" lengths
2 garlic scapes, cut into small pieces
red wine vinagrette (simple: dijon, rw vinegar, olive oil, salt, pepper)

Toss all ingredients. Eat with a smile, because it's summer and your food is glorious.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Mushroom/Broccoli Raab/Lemon Lasagna. Dig it.

I made this a while ago, and never posted it because, well, I don't typically photograph everything I make, and even when I do, I don't post all of the dishes that I photograph. But when I was reading Cathy Erway's blog here, her amazing looking dish reminded me of my own variation of these flavors. There is just something awesome that happens when you mix lemon zest with broccoli raab. It becomes...alive! The lemony flavors mixed with the bitter broc combine to play fascinating tricks on your taste buds. The mushrooms in this recipe only add to the richness of the dish. I also think the ingredients could be restructured to not be a lasagna but, you know me, I'm really into baked dishes, casseroles and the like. So I made lasagna, inspired by an old Cooks Illustrated recipe for a much different mushroom lasagna.

So here is the ingredient list for this awesome piece of work:
  • 1 bunch broccoli raab, chopped into 1" pieces
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1 red onion, diced
  • 4-6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 T butter
  • 30 oz cremini mushrooms, roughly diced
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1/8 t nutmeg
  • fresh parsley, roughly chopped (2 T for cooking w/ mushrooms, 2 T for sprinkling on top)
  • 1/4 c dry vermouth
  • 2 T flour
  • 1 c milk
  • box cooked lasagna noodles, set on a baking sheet so they don't stick (or the no-bake kind will do)
  • 6-8 oz part-skim mozzarella cheese, shredded
  •  1/2 c ricotta cheese
  • zest of 1 lemon
RAAB
Blanch the broccoli raab in boiling very salted water (it should taste like the ocean). Drain and set aside--you won't use it till the layering of the dish. 
SHROOMSAUCE
In a saute pan, heat oil over medium heat. Add onions and garlic, stir and cook until unions are translucent. Add the butter to the pan and melt it. Add the mushrooms, and cook until liquid has been expelled and largely evaporated, about 10-15 min on medium heat. Add seasonings and vermouth. Stir, cook another 5 min. Add the parsley, stir. Add 2 T flour and milk. Whisk in pan to create a mushroom sauce. 
CONSTRUCTION
In a 9x9 baking dish, spoon some mushroom sauce to coat the bottom of the pan. Lay out first layer of noodles. Top with broccoli raab, then ricotta, then mushrooms with sauce, and a light sprinkling of mozzarella. Repeat with two more layers of noodles. Atop last layer, sprinkle remaining mozzarella, spray a heavy piece of aluminum foil with oil, cover dish, and bake at 350 for 45 min. Remove from oven, top with fresh parsley and lemon zest. Wowie.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

I think this is #100...

I think this may be my 100th post. I am not certain, and honestly it's not a huge deal or anything. I have no "honorary 100th recipe". Nope nope. All I have is my breakfast from yesterday morning. Simple, light, and satisfying. Take it or leave it. And then I have to finish editing this paper.

These are slightly tangy, wonderful light pancakes. I love cottage cheese, and the curds sort of melt, but do not become stringy. The texture is not unlike regular pancake texture, they just feel better than regular pancakes. I made mine silver-dollar sized, because the batter tends to be a bit more watery than pancake batter, and this smaller size flips in one piece more easily than larger ones.

Cottage Cheese Pancakes (thank you Anna Thomas)

2 c small curd cottage cheese
2 eggs
3 T whole wheat flour
dash salt
dash agave nectar
dash cinnamon

Mix all ingredients well. Pour by the 1/4 cup-full into a skillet heated on medium heat, lightly oiled. Cook 4-5 min on each side, flipping when pancake looks a bit dry on the edges.
Serve with maple syrup and strawberries.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Scones of my dreams...

I dreamed about making scones the other night. In the moments before I woke up, I have vivid memory of dreaming about cutting butter into cubes, re-wrapping it, and storing it in the freezer until I was ready for it. In the dream, the butter was being cut for scones--what else?

Because yesterday was Mother's Day, and I had not yet gotten my mother a gift, I interpreted the dream to mean I should make my mother scones. And so I did.

She was gifted with two varieties, both adapted from Nick Malgieri's The Modern Baker, and excellent, excellent baking book (I can't say that about just any book). I made two batches of scones out of one recipe. See below.

The key for scones, in my experience, is to *really, really* not handle them too much so that the butter stays relatively solid, the ingredients mixed until *just* incorporated and no more, until baked. This truly makes all the difference. These scones have the penultimate texture and taste, and I cannot decide which I like more. Try them for yourself!

1 1/2 c flour
1/2 T baking powder
2 T sugar
pinch salt
1/2 t ginger powder
3 T butter, cut into 9 cubes and kept very cold until use
1/2 c crystallized ginger, minced
1/3 c milk
1 egg

Topping: mix 1 T egg white with blanched, slivered almonds, 3 T sugar, 1 T cinnamon.
To make cranberry orange scones instead, halve the amount of ginger powder, and add cranberries instead of crystallized ginger. Add zest of 1 orange to milk mixture.
Mix flour, bp, sugar, salt, ginger in food processor. Add butter. Pulse until mixed, but still heterogeneous mixture. Add ginger. Pulse a couple of times. Beat milk and egg in bowl. Add to food processor. Pulse literally 3 or 4 times, until dough is wet in most spots. DO NOT OVERMIX!!!
Dump dough out onto floured board.
Fold a few times, to mix a bit more. DO NOT OVERHANDLE!! Shape dough into 6-8" circle. With benchscraper or knife, cut into 8 wedges. Top with almond/sugar. Place on silpat or parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake on 400 for 14-15 minutes.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Damn Good Sprouted Wheat Bread


I'm not a big boaster, honest.
I typically don't go on and on about how good one of my baked goods is.
But I just cannot hold back. I make a damn good loaf of sprouted wheat bread! I almost forgot, it's made with my darling sourdough, too. This sourdough mama is at a great point. It's healthy, it's mature, and it's able to be used in breads that do not have to taste "sour". This bread, for example, is sweet, not sour, as far as breads go. It's the perfect sandwich or toast bread. Truly.
Not kidding. I'm sitting here, after a long day, eating a toasted slice of sprouted wheat bread, slathered with cream cheese, topped with dried cranberries. The bread has the perfect crumb. It's chewy but not too chewy. It was baked for the perfect amount of time. And it's sweet, but not too sweet. The crust is good crust, too. Sheesh, it's just freakin amazing, what can I say???
And what's more is it's pretty easy to make.
This recipe will give you four mini loaves or one normal typical** size loaf. I made the minis because it's hard for me to finish a whole loaf of bread before it grows mold. So I eat one, then slice and wrap the remaining ones in plastic, then put in plastic bags, and stick in the freezer. It keeps pretty well in there, and then you take out a slice when you want and put it in the toaster.
Enough chatter, though, here's there recipe:

2 c wheat berry sprouts, ground in food processor
12 oz firm starter (see http://bit.ly/9lafSE)
2-3 c whole wheat flour
1/2 c milk
1/2 c water
2 T agave
1/2 T salt
Put all ingredients in a standing mixer OR in bowl if you are mixing my hand.
Mix on speed 2 or 3 (or by hand, and knead for at least 15 min) for 10 minutes. Add flour as needed (this dough tended to be a bit wet; it should be lightly sticky, not like glob onto your hands way sticky). Let dough rest for 5 minutes after mixing for 10 minutes (or kneading for 15), and then continue to mix (or knead) for another 10 minutes. Dough should pass the "window pane test", but if it doesn't, just mix a bit longer and stop. In my experience, it doesn't really matter! Just keep baking and you'll get to know your dough. I promise.
OK. Ball up the dough, and put in lightly oiled bowl. Cover with plastic and rest and rise 2 hours.
Punch down, and shape, and place into loaf pans. Let rise another hour and a half.
Preheat the oven to 350. Bake for 30 minutes.
Remove from oven. Cool in pan 10 min, then on rack until completely cooled.

**(I say typical instead of normal as a silly joke...ha ha. In my field we don't call kids normal, we call them typical, which is really the same thing, but for some reason they think typical sounds more PC? who knows...enjoy the bread!)

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Super Simple Saturday Salad


Tonight I'm starting my sprouted wheat sourdough, but it won't be done until tomorrow evening. I bought wheat berries at the Union Square Green Market from Cayuga Organics. I soaked about a cup of them the night before last thinking I would cook them up for breakfast yesterday morning, but I clean forgot about them. This morning, they were already sprouting! That was fast, I know, but apparently the fresher the grain/bean/seed, the faster the sprout?
I'm really excited about the wheat berries, and you'll see a lot more spring time posts coming now that the weather's changed and the growing season will be in full bloom soon. It's super uplifting.
Anyway, while the dough for tomorrow's bread gets going, I made myself a simple, quick salad for a very *light* dinner. This isn't enough for a full meal, probably, but I'm a true snacker. I had the salad an hour ago, and moved onto cantaloupe now. Next I'll probably dip into the Ben & Jerry's hiding in the freezer. This salad was a good start. Tasty and easy.
I will say, if you don't use really really good bread and better-than-average olive oil, it won't be good. The bread can be a day or two old, but it has to have been good quality. Otherwise you'll just have vegetables in a bowl with some mediocre bread and oil. Not. Tasty. Do it this way or pay the price! That's a threat! Ha!

Simple Saturday Salad for 1
1/2 c diced red peppers
1/2 c diced cucumbers
1/2 a big, ripe tomato, cut into 1/2" cubes, salted and peppered
2 slices good bread, crusts removed, sliced into strips, and then again into cubes
1/4 c crumbled French Feta cheese (the only good kind, come on now)
healthy drizzle of good-quality olive oil (don't lie to yourself, you'll know if it's not good)
squeeze 1/2 of a lemon
salt and pepper to taste

Mix all of the ingredients. Don't dress until you are eating or the bread will get soggy (ew).

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Granola Balls

This is a fast and easy one. And just because it's fast and easy doesn't mean it's not a totally wholesome, tasty snack. So super simple: 1/4 c peanut butter+2 T agave+1 T veg oil in a small pot on medium heat. Stir till liquidy(ish). Add 1 3/c of your favorite granola. Stir. With wet hands, shape into balls. Lay on waxed paper so they don't stick. DEE-lish.
 This recipe makes 12 granola balls, about the size of golf balls... keep away from granola lovers if you want them to make it an hour past the time they were finished!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Can I replicate the best bomboloncini?

I can sure as heck try, by looking at as many recipes that look like bread, donuts, and bomboloncini as possible, to get an idea of how to make the perfect not-quite-sweet bread product with delicious sweet filling. So that's just what I did, and this will be the first documented experiment in the feat of replicating Levain bakery's raspberry bomboloncini because, although my mid-morning snack yesterday morning was beyond satisfying, at $2.25/each, I'd like to figure out how to bring my cost down just a tad.

When I woke up this morning, I mixed the dough, went to the gym, and, when I came home, it was time to shape and fill these little gems (which my mother called "mini turtle shells" when they came out of the oven). I decided to make the first batch a white batch, because white flour has more elasticity, and it rises more easily. For this test run, I wanted to use white flour and sugar. I reasoned to myself, if this batch succeeded, the next few batches I would play with using alternative ingredients. I will say, although these are delicious and delightful in their finished state, I have a lot of work to do to make them as light and chewy as Levain's. I wonder what would happen if I filled them after baking, instead of shaping them and filling them in the same step before the second rise... If anyone has any comments of any kind, leave them below, instead of the facebook page. Let's start a dialogue: Help me make light bready donuts!

Here is the recipe I used:
2 T lukewarm water
1 package dry yeast
1/2 c heated and cooled whole milk
1 1/2 c all purpose flour
2 T sugar
pinch salt
2 T softened butter
fruit spread or smooth jam
1 T soft butter
1/4 c confectioners sugar


Pour water into bowl of electric mixer and sprinkle yeast on top. Let sit for 5 min. Add milk, sugar, flour, and salt. Mix until incorporated. Add butter, mix until dough forms, about 3-5 min. Remove dough from bowl and knead on floured surface until dough is smooth. Place in oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and allow to rise 1 hr.
Prepare 2 baking sheets. Line each with parchment paper. Spread softened butter into four 5" circles on each sheet. Sprinkle confectioners sugar over each buttered circle. 
Divide dough into 8 portions. Remove first portion from bowl and keep the rest covered with plastic wrap. Have floured surface ready to work on. Divide first portion in half. Flatten each piece, from outside, in, so near the edges it's thinner than in the middle. You are aiming to make two 3" circles that are slightly thinner near the edges than in the middle. Lightly brush water around the edges of each circle. Dab (about 1/2 T) some jam on the middle of one circle. Lay other circle on top. Create a seam, with your fingers or, as in the picture above, with a fork. Then gather into a ball, and place, seam-side down, on circle on prepared baking sheet. Repeat with the rest of the dough portions.
Cover both baking sheets with plastic, loosely, and set aside, 45 min, for dough to rise again.
Bake one sheet at a time, on the middle rack of the oven, at 400, for 8 min. Remove bomboloncini to a rack (use tongs).  Dig in!