Friday, February 26, 2010

Snow Day Breakfast

I canceled my day's appointments because it's still snowing. All night and still, more snow. What's a girl who's stuck inside to do? Work? Nah. I decided to gather up my courage and make a creamy pot of steel cut oats.
Can you believe I've never cooked steel cut oats? They're oats that have been sliced crosswise, instead of rolled flat like the more common oats we know and may love or hate. I've always loved oatmeal made of rolled oats, even when it's slimy, just not when it's thick and gooey. Steel cut oats make oatmeal completely different. For starters, the pieces of oat don't completely disappear and meld together - they stay rather individual, whole, kind of chewy. The texture is pretty good as far as breakfast cereals go.
I cooked mine in boiling liquid that was half water, half soy milk, and a pinch of salt. After 20 minutes of cooking, I spooned them into my bowl with dried cranberries and agave nectar. This is a definite breakfast grain I will be experimenting with again soon.

Steel cut oats with dried fruit (2 servings)
1 c water
1 c soy milk
1/2 c steel cut oats
pinch salt
dried cranberries
1 T agave nectar

Bring liquid to boil in small-medium saucepan. Once boiling, add oats and salt. Simmer on low heat for 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally. When liquid is mostly absorbed, spoon into 2 bowls. Drizzle each with agave and sprinkle cranberries on top.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Whole Wheat Mac+Cheese with Maple-Glazed Brussel Sprouts

You read that right! I've been craving mac and cheese lately. My mom used to make a pretty good mac + cheese and, as we got older, she'd incorporate some veggies into the dish (come on, if you know her, it's no surprise--it's almost a miracle she agreed to the basis of the dish in the first place). Today I got home at 2:40. I thought, I just had a long day of work. Nonstop. Busy busy. And I have more to do tomorrow. Ugh. If I start now, I'll have time to prepare dinner, go to the gym, come home and bake it, and then do some reading. Sounds like I pack it in, doesn't it? I'll admit, busy busy busy baking busy busy busy isn't so typical for me, but for some reason I bake more when I'm relatively low stressed and very busy than any other time.

Anyway, as I browsed through the fridge for a green vegetable to put in my mac+cheese, the only appetizing verde was a bunch of brussel sprouts. Brussel sprouts. How will they be good in mac and cheese? What flavor profile am I looking for? Think...think... shaved and sweet and spicy? Along with creamy rich cheesy? Yes! That's it!

Also, I want to encourage you, my readers, to leave me your comments, questions, any thing, about what you read here on Ripened. I appreciate the feedback. Keep Cooking!

Whole Wheat Mac and Cheese with Maple Glazed Brussel Sprouts
12 oz whole wheat noodles, shape of your choice, cooked al dente
2 T butter
2 T flour
3 c warmed milk
dash nutmeg
bay leaf
1/2 t paprika
1 T yellow mustard powder
salt and pepper
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 onion, diced
8 oz shredded cheddar cheese
4 oz shredded Gruyere cheese
2 c maple-glazed brussel sprouts, recipe below

In a medium-large saucepan, make a roux (melt butter, whisk in flour, and slowly whisk in milk). Add nutmeg, paprika, mustard, salt and pepper. Temper egg and add to milk pot. Stir lightly on medium-low heat until mixture begins to thicken, about 10 min. Remove bay leaf. Add diced onion, a bit more than 3/4 the cheddar, and 3/4 of the Gruyere. Stir well, until cheeses have melted and you have one uniform mixture. Turn off heat, add noodles and brussel sprouts. Stir until all is incorporated. Pour into lightly greased casserole dish and bake, 20 min with lid or foil covering, 10 min uncovered, or until bubbly and brown on top.

Maple Brussel Sprouts

2 c brussel sprouts (measure after cut), shaved with mandolin or very thinly sliced by hand
1/2 - 1 T butter
1/4 c maple syrup
salt and pepper

In a large saute pan, melt butter. Add maple syrup. Heat until bubbly. Add brussel sprouts. Season with salt and pepper. Toss around in pan on high heat, for about 7 minutes. Brussel sprouts should have a crunch when done.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

What are friends for?

Trekking out to Long Island first, before going to see their long-distance significant others in the city, just to spend the evening making soup, drinking bourbon, and watching funny movies. That's what! Like I said in Thursday's post, as soon as my head knew I was settled for next year's placement and had no need for psychological stress, my immune system shut off. Took a hiatus. Call it what you will, I have this gross head cold.

Thank goodness for Rebecca, who came over, asked me what I needed done, and basically followed my liquids-only plan for the night. With her loving monitoring, we stirred up a delicious pot of tortilla soup. Super simple, and exactly what I was craving. All I had all night was tortilla soup and hot toddies. Recipe for success, I think.

Anyone can make this soup. But if you have a good friend to come over and make it for you, it's all that much better.

What we used:
vegetable oil
1 onion, diced
some garlic, diced
2 t cumin
3 t chili powder
1/4 c fresh cilantro, chopped
1 1/2 c diced tomatoes
4 c low sodium chicken broth
1 jalapeno, mostly seeded, diced
4-6 small shredded sprouted corn tortillas

Put oil in saucepan on medium heat. Add onions and garlic. Cook until fragrant but not brown. Add spices and cilantro. Add tomatoes and broth. Bring to a boil and simmer for about 15 min. Add jalapeno and corn tortillas, and salt and pepper, to taste. Cook for an additional 5-10 min. To make a nice touch, serve with sour cream and avocado, as in our beautiful photos below!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Stress and Cooking: What is the relationship? I bring you the Hot Toddy

I don't know what the relationship between cooking and my stress levels is. When I'm too stressed, I simply cannot bear to enjoy the pleasure cooking gives me. And yes, cooking is a stress reliever, but I think only for minimal amounts of stress for me. Is it a bell curve? Do moderate levels of stress correlate with higher frequencies of baking? It's possible... because I know I often do it to procrastinate.

Well either way, my month of stress is officially OVER! I know, I know, I can't believe it either, yet. I just know I feel like a giant heavy weight has been lifted off me. It feels AMAZING. And just when I start to feel destressified, I feel my throat starting to ache.

So tonight's recipe is the Meg Hot Toddy. Check it out:

2 T honey
1-2 oz Kentucky Bourbon
juice of 1 lemon
8-10 oz boiling water

Mix all ingredients in nice round mug. Sip. Feel the liquid coat your throat. And relax.

Monday, February 15, 2010

For Presidents Day, Something English

Instead of calling these English Muffins, which they are, apparently the Joy of Cooking says we can also call them Raised Muffins, making them seem much more appropriate to be made on a national holiday that's American enough to have no mail come today. So here we have it, raised muffins. English--er--Raised muffins are just yeast breads that you bake in a skillet instead of in an oven. If you add more milk to the recipe and use a circular ring in which to shape and bake them, they are no longer muffins but instead become Crumpets (another un-American food). I will admit, the idea of a crumpet is quite appealing to me, ever since I first saw Alice in Wonderland and was drawn to the magic of the Mad Hatter's tea party and whole-heartedly wished I could have attended. Anyway, never having had actually eaten a crumpet, I thought it may be a waste to make now, since I may not know what to do with it. We'll save the crumpet for next time.

These raised muffins were shaped into rectangles. The dough was very sticky and, it being my first time and all, I was ill-prepared. So I just left them as sticky rectangles, and they baked beautifully!
Here's how you make Raised Muffins (adapted from The Joy of Cooking).

1 c water
1/2 c boiled milk
1 1/2 t agave nectar
2 T warm water
1 package dry yeast
3 c all purpose flour, sifted first
1 c whole wheat flour, sifted first
1 t salt
2 1/2 T softened butter

Mix water, boiled milk, and agave in mixing bowl. In a separate bowl, dissolve yeast in the 2 T water for about 3 minutes. Add to the milk mixture. Add 2 c all purpose flour, stir. Let rise 1 1/2 hrs--this is your sponge.
When mixture is bubbly and collapsing back into itself (after at least an hour), add softened butter, flours, and salt. Stir, then knead, well.
Dough will be very sticky, not stiff, and annoying to handle.
Dump it out onto a cutting board floured with cornmeal and whole wheat flour. Pat dough down into a 1/2 " thick rectangle. With a bench scraper or serrated knife, cut lengthwise into 4 strips, then cut each strip into 4, so you have 16 odd-shaped pieces. Place pieces on greased parchment paper, and let rise 1 hour.
Heat a cast iron skillet on medium. Grease with butter. Bake, 4-6 pieces at a time, in skillet. Flip once, top and bottom should be unevenly browned. To eat, split with a fork. Enjoy!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Happy Valentines Day!

This isn't really a V-Day post-- It's really just a post I should have done last week when I made these cookies. When people ask me what I like to cook the most, I have a hard time answering. It's a very hard question to answer! I don't know what I like to make the most. I don't have a #1 thing to make. I do know that I love to bake, however. I have a real sweet tooth. Once, for like 2 months, I got myself to stop eating sweets and candy and pizza. It was more of a challenge to see if I had the will power than anything else. I probably shouldn't eat as many sweets as I do, though, because I've always been someone who has a lot of cavities. No matter what, the dentist is never happy with me. It kind of sucks, but I've kind of given up hope for my teeth because I think they are just bad because of genetics. I think it's my dad's fault. That said, these cookies I made last week were the bomb diggity. For real.
Mark Bittman's How To Cook Everything was the basic guide recipe. Of course, you know me, I couldn't stick to the recipe. Also, next time, I will make them with less butter. I don't think they actually needed as much as the recipe called for, or even as much as I put in (which, of course, was less than what Mark suggests). I don't like when a baked cookie actually makes your hands greasy, and these did that. SO the recipe I provide below is the new recipe. The less greasy recipe. And if you like greasy fingers while you eat delicious cookies, then just go ahead and make the recipe with 2 whole sticks of butter, for all I care.

Crispy and Amazing Chocolate Chip Cookies with Oats

1 1/2 sticks butter, softened
3/4 c brown sugar
3/4 c white sugar
2 eggs
1 t vanilla extract
3/4 c oats
3/4 c whole wheat flour
1/2 c all purpose flour
2 t baking soda
2 t salt
1 1/2 c chocolate chips

Mix the dry ingredients together in one bowl (not the chocolate chips). Beat the butter and sugars together. Add the eggs, one at a time. Add the vanilla. Add all of the dry ingredients, except for the chocolate chips. Mix very well. Finally, add the chocolate chips. Using two regular kitchen spoons or your hands, drop 12-16 balls of dough onto 3 cookie sheets lined with parchment paper. Bake 12 minutes on 375.

Mogador, J'adore

They have shirts that say that, you know.
And while I don't usually use the blog as a venue for restaurant reviews, I owe my thanks to the deliciousity of Mogador, that wonderful Moroccan place on 8th street in the East Village.

Mogador, you are so simple, but so good. A tad greasy, but the perfect tad for a hangover breakfast. I ordered an Americano and the Haloumi Eggs, which comes with 2 roasted tomatoe halves, each topped with grilled haloumi cheese, topped with perfectly poached eggs. On the side, instead of homefries (which come with other dishes, just not this one), are a lightly dressed mixed greens salad and delicious pita with za'atar. This green rub of earthy sesame and green herbs is perfect, meant to be, at home, atop warm, fresh, pita. Instead of hot sauce, they serve a small dish of harissa with your order. The subdued flavors and heat of the spice paste help your eggs get to exactly where they need to be.

If you are in NY, you must, must, must check it out for brunch, although other meals are served, too.

Monday, February 1, 2010

So the plumber is over and you can't use your stove?

Who says the toaster oven ain't an oven? Here's a recipe for crack 'em and forget about 'em toaster oven baked eggs. Because when I'm hungry, I'm hungry. And usually, I won't settle for crap food out of a box (no offense, you crab box food eaters), if I can help it.

So what you need is:
a ramekin (or a small dish that can fit and not break in the toaster oven)
an egg
shaved manchego cheese and/or tomato sauce or pureed tomato-red pepper soup are optional for under and on top of egg
salt and pepper

What to do is:
In the ramekin, crack egg either right into ramekin or onto 1/4 c sauce/soup.
Top with some shaved cheese, if using, and salt and pepper, to taste.
Pop in the toaster oven on 425 for about 10 minutes. Remove carefully (It's HOT in there!).

Eat. Enjoy. No hard feelings, Mr. Plumber.