Sunday, December 11, 2011

Me: Oh my my. I made gingerbread cookies this weekend.

Friday night I took it easy. A dear friend came over, and we made "snacks" (read: pasta bolognese) and gingerbread cookies. There was pretense; she vowed to not drink for 2 weeks while she cleaned up her slovenly ways, and I thought what better way to have good, clean fun than to spend the night rolling out gingerbread dough!?
When she got here, the dough was already resting in the fridge, so our "Friday Night Activity," cutting out shapes with butter knives (I don't have any cookie cutters... something I think I should change), was all set up for us ahead of time. We ate too-rich-for-me bolognese (read: I am not a real meat eater and never will be one) and watched Heathers. I felt like a good wholesome teenager!

I wasn't going to blog about these because really I didn't make the recipe up or do anything insanely adventurous. But then I realized I can't stop eating them and they're freaking perfect. So here they are. With one added special ingredient that I think was appreciated by all who tried them: Love. Just kidding. It's cayenne. The secret ingredient is cayenne.

Good night!

Gingerbread cookies with Royal Icing
adapted from know-it-all sources like Martha, and Joy of Baking, and even this one, that I love to hate
2 c unbleached flour
1 c whole wheat flour
1 t baking soda
2 t ground ginger
1 t cinnamon
1/8 t grated nutmeg
1 t ground cloves
1/2 t cayenne
1/4 t salt
1 stick softened unsalted butter
1/4 c nonhydrogenated vegetable shortening
1 c turbinado or brown sugar
2/3 c molasses
1 egg

In a large bowl, mix dry ingredients. Then, in the bowl of a stand mixer, cream butter, shortening, and sugar. When light and fluffy, add molasses and egg. Mix until combined, then in thirds, add the dry mixture. Turn off mixer, and divide dough into two portions, patting each into a disc, and wrapping in plastic. Put in the fridge for at least 2 hours or overnight. Or you can freeze one disc, as I did, so you have it on hand in the future when you crave these.

When ready, roll out one disc of dough at a time to 1/4" thick. Cut out into desired shapes and place on parchment paper lined sheet. Bake at 350 for 7-8 minutes. Cool on a rack and frost with royal icing if desired (recipe below).

Royal Icing:
1 egg white
1 1/2 c confectioners sugar
1 T lemon juice

In a stand mixer or with an electric mixer, beat egg white until stiff. Add sugar and juice and continue to mix. That's it!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Look, there's just nothing like really good food. I'm not talking gourmet. I'm talking about how to put together a simple dish, with simple ingredients, and if they're seasonal, well then it's all that much better.

I'm temporarily supposed to be on a high potassium diet. What foods have potassium in them? Well, bananas (fortunately bananas and I are old friends who never get sick of each other), sweet potatoes, raisins, and a whole bunch of other things. But when I heard sweet potatoes are a good source of the potassium, I got excited. I got this idea in my head to make a simple seasonal dish: sweet potato/black bean/cotija tacos, with additional ingredients as garnishes, but no radical spices. This simple dish is about the vegetables that I have not celebrated enough yet this fall.

You can add and subtract components as you wish, but my final version of the fall constructed taco was perfect, in my opinion.

Here's the simple deal to simple good food, fall taco style:

What you need:
Corn tortillas
2 sweet potatoes, chopped
sweet dumpling squash, halved and seeded
cooked black beans (or canned)
1/2 an onion, cut into strips
1/2 a poblano pepper, seeds in for heat
a few leaves of swiss chard, steamed or sauteed
1-2 T cotija cheese (or feta if you can't find this)

In an oven preheated to 400, on an olive oiled baking sheet, spread potatoes in one layer and half or all of the squash (depending on your appetite) next to the potatoes. Bake at 400 for 20-30 min, until each the potatoes and squash are tender when pierced with a fork.
Meanwhile, saute onion and pepper in a small skillet with olive oil.
Warm tortillas, layer cooked potatoes, pieces of squash (skin removed), black beans, onions, peppers, chard, and cheese on top. Eat with a fork, if you are inept at eating tacos as I sometimes am, or pick it up and get messy! Go for it! You won't be disappointed.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Peanut Butter Swirl Brownies

Remember that post I wrote over the summer about growing up not liking peanut butter except for in my pb&j, and then one day having a craving for sweet, creamy, peanut butter in dessert-like fashion? Well that love of sweet things with peanut butter has waxed and waned since I first made peanut butter gelato, and then it was dormant. Until today, this afternoon.
I decided to decrease the amount of sweets I eat per week. I could never quit cold turkey, but I just think I need to be a bit more conscious of what I'm eating. So I'm going to try this new policy of eating sweets and buttery treats only on Sunday evenings, unless I'm invited out and force-fed something like apple pie or birthday cake.
In preparation for the first sweet Sunday, I thought I should choose a really good snack. What would be good enough for the once a week sweet? I decided on Peanut Butter Swirl Brownies, made the chewy way! I guess that peanut butter craving is back.

Peanut Butter Swirl Brownies
Inspired by Fine Cooking, Martha, and my own stubbornness and refusal to follow anyone's recipe
1 stick unsalted butter, plus more for greasing pan
4 oz unsweetened chocolate
1-2 oz semisweet chocolate
1 1/2 c sugar
1 t salt
2 eggs
1 1/2 t vanilla
1 c flour
2 T cocoa

Prehead oven to 350. Line 8x8 pan with parchment paper and grease well with butter. In microwave safe bowl and in the microwave on high for 2 min, or over pot of simmering water, double boiler style, melt butter and chocolate together, stirring occasionally (once every 30 seconds?).  Mix in sugar, eggs one at a time, and then salt and vanilla. Once combined, add flour and cocoa. Batter will be thick. Spread half of the batter into the pan. Dot peanut butter mixture (recipe below) over layer of brownie dough. Dump and spread the rest of the brownie batter on top, and then dot the top with peanut butter mixture again. Starting at one end, plunge butter knife into the pan and drag it around, swirling the peanut butter into the brownie pan. Bake at 350 for 25-35 min, or until toothpick comes out slightly gooey. Don't overbake!

Peanut Butter Swirl
1/2 c soft peanut butter - does not have to be creamy or fake (like Jif or Skippy) - can be any smooth kind
2 T softened butter
1/2 c confectioners sugar

In food processor, blend ingredients. Taste. Add sugar if necessary. If too thick, add more softened butter and process further.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

I'm on the bandwagon, too.

The first time I made this recipe, I wanted to write about it. But then I didn't because I was distracted and the draft of the post I wrote ended up sounding too much like a love letter to Jim Lahey. And now it's 3 weeks later and I've made the recipe, tweaking it each time a bit, twice more. 3 loaves of bread in 3 weeks. Pretty sweet - I'm not just tooting Jim's horn; his No-Knead Bread recipe has revolutionized the way I bake, buy, and eat bread.

Jim's recipe calls for white flour, yeast, salt, and water. Pretty darn simple. If you like your bread like that, do it that way. I've been making it at least 1/3 whole wheat, just because why not. I also choose to dust it in wheat bran for the final rise, instead of flour, because I just love the crunch this gives the crust.

I know this is my first time writing about this bread, but I've already boasted about it and encouraged friends to make it. Now I turn to you, readers. If you want to fool guests into thinking you're an expert baker or if you don't and you want to convince someone you just made a trip to your local boulangerie, this bread is for you! Crusty, tasty, great big holey inside... mmmm. Just. Make. It.

Here's the recipe. I'm not sure how long it will do on the counter after it's cut, so I cut the round loaf in half and cut one of the halves into slices which go into a plastic freezer bag and get frozen to toast and eat as the week goes on.

Jim Lahey's No-Knead Bread, tweaked by me:

2 c unbleached flour
1 c whole wheat flour
1 1/2 t salt
1/2 t yeast
1 1/2 c water

Mix ingredients in large bowl. Stir till just combined - "dough" will be raggedy and maybe dry in some spots, wet in others, or look fine. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and set aside for 12-18 hours. The longer the better. Unwrap and dump onto floured surface. Fold dough over once or twice. Let sit 15 min, then shape into a simple ball. Place ball of dough on kitchen towel that has been dusted with wheat bran or flour. Sprinkle dough with more bran or flour, and cover with second towel. Let rise 2 hours. With 1/2 hr left to rise, put heavy pot or dutch oven uncovered in the oven. Heat to 450 degrees. When dough is ready, place seam-side up in very hot pot. Cover and bake for 30 min. Remove cover and bake for another 15-30 min. Remove dough to cool on wire rack.
*As tempting as it is, don't cut it before it's cool because the bread will dry out!!!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

I'm sorry, I've slowed, again.
You know, stress, lots to do, it's all gotten in the way of writing. And this time, I haven't even really been cooking much. Usually when I am absent from blogging, I'm at least cooking and baking and just not writing. This time, I honestly have not been so active in the kitchen.
But this week, I reemerged.
On Monday, I canned 20# of tomatoes. Tonight, I used the remaining few peeled plum tomatoes that did not fit into the 9 quart jars I owned.
I bought a bottle of wine on my way home, and opened it just after my prep work was done.
Smashed and diced garlic cloves, chopped, peeled tomatoes, spices, and baby lima beans. Definitely not a meal to make in a rush - those unsoaked beans take about 2 hours to become tender. Oh, I also got to put my Le Creuset tagine to use, something that rarely comes out of its bottom cupboard.

Once finished, this made a lovely ragout to top pan-fried polenta.
Here's the recipe:

1 T olive oil
3 cloves garlic
10 peeled, chopped plum tomatoes (blanching them first makes taking the skins off easier, or use a can) and their juice
3/4 c dried baby lima beans
2 1/2 c broth or water
2 t smoked paprika
2 t crushed red pepper
2 t salt, or more to taste

Saute garlic in olive oil over low-medium heat in a cast iron tagine or dutch oven or cast iron pan or oven-proof, stove-proof dish. When fragrant, add the rest of the ingredients. Stir, cover, and stick in the oven on 350 for about two hours, or until beans are tender.

Eat alone or over polenta with feta. Yum.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Vegetarian Corn Chowder with a Bite

There used to be a to-go place near where I grew up that had really delicious corn chowder. It was smokey and creamy and I'm sure full of fat and canned ingredients. But I was young and definitely not concerned with what exactly made it so good. Having grown up not eating meat and other fatty things, it didn't occur to me that the two key ingredients were bacon and cream. Of course it was delicious!

I didn't eat bacon in any other form when I was growing up -- as far as I was consciously concerned, I did not eat red or pig meat. I only ate it in this soup! Then, when I started my first cooking job, I was faced with a major challenge: eating things I had grown up thinking I didn't eat. One of the first challenges was Bacon. I succeeded with flying colors and loved it even outside of the beloved corn chowder! I started eating all sorts of things I always thought I wouldn't. My food horizons expanded for a few years, and then, they started retracting, which was totally fine with me. Now, unless I'm very hung over, eating bacon kind of makes me feel like a pig. So I try not to eat it if I can avoid it.

This morning when I woke up and thought I would go to the Union Square Greenmarket, the first items on the list were New Potatoes. Creamy, delicate, naturally flaky-skinned potatoes. What else (aside from roast chicken) goes well with freshly dug potatoes? Corn. Farmers Market Corn. All day I thought about making this version of corn chowder. It's vegetarian and uses half-and-half instead of cream, and poblano peppers instead of... I don't know what they're instead of but they're good and add the perfect amount of heat when seeded. I hope you enjoy this as much as I did tonight!

Vegetarian Corn Chowder
1 T olive oil
2 or 3 strips "Fakin Bacon" (smoked tempeh), diced small
1 large onion, diced (not too small)
1 small (or half of a large) poblano pepper, chopped
1 T butter
2/3 lb potatoes, chopped
6 c veggie stock
2 corn cobs and the corn from the cobs
1/2 c half-and-half
salt and pepper to taste

In a large saucepan, saute tempeh and onion in olive oil. When onions are translucent, add peppers and butter. Add potatoes, stock, and stripped corn cobs. Bring to boil and simmer until potatoes are cooked through, about 15 min. Add corn and cook until heated, about 5 more minutes. Stir in half and half, salt, and pepper, and serve.

Monday, September 12, 2011

I'm back. Full force.

This summer I was a bit distracted. You'd think I'd have posted a whole bunch, since it was the first summer in I don't know how long that I didn't have any job, school, or other obligations (at least not for the month of August). It's not that I wasn't creating. I most definitely was; in the weeks to come you'll find super easy pepper-egg tagliatelle, stuffed peppers, and more mostly vegetarian recipes, pictures, and tales. But for now, you'll just have to bear with me as I give you words and not photos. My camera is overseas, touring Western Europe without me with a particularly talented musician who lost his battery charger. So it is.

I don't know if you've ever felt like you've taken your health for granted. Sure, I might have said once or twice in my life, I'm thankful for my health. But did I really mean it? Did I still carelessly chow down on unhealthy food, make bad decisions, and stop exercising for months at a time? I did. Sometimes it takes a bit of a health scare to get your butt in gear. At least that's what's currently happening to me.

In the next few weeks and months I'm hoping to bring a slightly more rigid healthful bend to the blog, due to my revisiting the issue of not taking health for granted. This time I mean it. Let's see how long it lasts.

So, in honor of less-processed, organic-when-possible, healthy in the moment food, I give you warm balsamic wheat berry salad for one.

1/2 T butter or olive oil
1/2 red onion, diced
1 portabello mushroom, cut into small cubes
1 handful green, purple, or yellow beans, diced into 1/2" pieces
1/2 sweet green pepper, diced small
1 T  balsamic vinegar
pinch herbs de provence or italian seasoning
salt and pepper to taste
1 c cooked wheat berries*
goat cheese

In a medium to large skillet, over medium-high heat, melt butter. Add onion and cook until translucent. Add mushroom and cook 5-7 min, until cooked down. Throw in beans and peppers. Cook another 2-3 minutes. Pour in vinegar and stir, allowing to simmer a bit. Add herbs, salt and pepper, and wheat berries. Cook until wheat berries are heated through. Serve like this, or with a teaspoon of delicious goat cheese.

*Wheat berries are an awesome grain, but they take a while to cook. Soak 8 hours or overnight before the day you plan to cook them. Then cook in stock or lightly salted water for 30-40 min or until they feel sort of bouncy but soft to the teeth.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Lemon Poppy Experiment

I need to give my supervisor a gift. He's been great this year, helping me through clinical issues and basically just showing me what it's like to be a therapist. A colleague of mine who has the same supervisor called and "warned" me that she was going to pick him up a box of chocolate or something like that. I typically don't buy people food gifts unless it's something really out of this world, or something impossible for me to make. If I want to give a food gift, it has to be homemade. So today I began experimenting in a series of drafts of what will become the gift for the supervisor.

I had read in the Tartine cookbook about an almond lemon cake (though in the book they actually have a photo of the almond lemon POPPY cake without a recipe for such). I thought it sounded good, but they used almond paste and I didn't have any on hand. So instead, I adapted my experiment cake from a basic recipe for Passion Fruit Pound Cake in David Lebovitz's book. Instead of passion fruit (when was the last time you saw that in New York City?) and oranges, I used lemon zest and a bit of lemon juice. And instead of making a full batch, because, after all, this is an experiment, I didn't know if I'd want a whole bunch around, I made 2/3 the recipe, and baked it in muffin tins, instead of a loaf pan.

The results, sadly, were flat -- not in flavor, but in volume. Maybe this recipe makes a beautiful cake. Maybe to be a pound cake, the rise is not important. But for muffins, or cupcakes, I like to see a bit more volume. A bit of, I don't know, lift? Dome-shape? Something? Well I'll tell you what. You know me, I'm not the most beautiful baker-- I mean, I don't bake or cook the most beautiful dishes. Taste, for me, is taste, and yes, while people say presentation is half of it, for me, that's not the case. For me, it's completely about taste (and relishing at the thought of what great ingredients went into the creation). But regardless, aside from what I prefer, I know other people prefer things that look better. So I'm glad I experimented, but aside from their almond-lemon-poppy taste and their perfect texture (moist, nice crumb, light, not greasy), these cupcakes will not be what I give my supervisor. They will, however, be something I know is a great breakfast or snack cake, that I may make again in the future.
Lemon almond poppy Cupcakes (sort of adapted from David Lebovitz's Passion Fruit Pound Cake in Ready For Dessert)
1 stick butter
2/3 c sugar
zest of 1 lemon
2 eggs
1 t almond extract
juice of half a lemon
2/3 c all purpose flour
1/3 c whole wheat pastry flour (optional - you can use just 1 c all purpose if you wish)
3/4 t baking powder
pinch salt
1 1/2 T poppy seeds

Preheat oven to 350 and oil or butter a muffin tin well. In a stand mixer, cream butter, sugar, and zest until light and fluffy. With mixer running on low speed, add eggs, one at a time, and almond extract. Add lemon. Turn off mixer and add flour, baking powder, and salt. Mix on low until just combined. Then stir in poppy seeds. Spoon into muffin tins until just about full. Bake for 20 min, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle of one comes out clean. Makes about 10 cupcakes.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

It happened.

I've always liked peanut butter, but I was never a peanut butter lover, as many are. I liked peanut butter on sandwiches, usually with jam, or sometimes in noodles in an attempt at Asian-style peanut noodles. I did not like peanut butter flavored desserts or candies, though. The idea of peanut butter as a sweet was just not appealing. Didn't get me going.

But then it happened. I was very hungry after working all day and not being fed (a sob story for another occasion), and I was also disappointed and stubbornly angry that all the sandwich places I came across in Park Slope were overpriced (go figure). I reasoned I could either trek to the coop and buy raw ingredients with which to make a snack at home, knowing that from start to finish would be well over an hour and by then I'd be sickeningly famished, or I could stop at the ices place right in front of me and just have a sweet snack. I picked the sweet snack. And not only that, but I picked the peanut butter chocolate chip cookie dough ice! O.M.G.!!!!! I know, I know, I didn't think it would ever happen either! I thought I was a life-long peanut butter lover hater! But apparently, as vipassana meditation reminds us, nothing is permanent.

When I realized my self-discovery, I decided to merge two new interests: Ice cream sandwiches and Peanut butter as a sweet. Genius. Just genius.

Chocolate cookie/Peanut Butter Gelato sandwich recipe (makes 8 ice cream sandwiches and some leftover gelato for later)

Cookies (adapted from Smitten Kitchen adapted from Retro Desserts)
1 c flour
1/4 c whole wheat flour
1/2 c cocoa
1 t baking soda
1/4 t baking powder
pinch salt
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/4 sticks softened butter (10 T)
1 egg

By hand or in electric mixer, combine all ingredients in order above. With damp hands, roll bits of dough into uniform balls. Place on lightly greased or parchment-lined baking sheet at least 2" apart (these babies spread!). Bake at 350 for 8-10 minutes. Cool completely.

Peanut Butter Gelato
1 Quart Whole Milk
1 3/4 c peanut butter (I used Smuckers Natural style)
1 1/3 c sugar
1 1/2 T arrowroot powder (or cornstarch if you can't find this)
2 large egg yolks

Pour milk into large saucepan and begin to heat over low heat. Whisk in peanut butter. Whisk occasionally while milk heats slowly. While milk heats, mix arrowroot powder and sugar. When milk is hot, but not yet simmering, add 1/2 c sugar mixture to the egg yolks in another bowl. Temper the egg mixture with some of the hot milk. Then add the egg mixture followed by the sugar mixture quickly to the not-yet-simmering milk. Whisk consistently now -- the mixture will thicken quickly! Continue stirring constantly until it comes to a boil. Then turn off the head, pour custard into a big bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and put in the fridge to cool. Once cool, run through your ice cream maker.

To assemble sandwiches, simply spread some softened gelato on 8 cookies and top with another 8. Your friends will love you forever.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Really amazing

Last summer we canned twelve quart jars of plum tomatoes. With extreme self-control, I managed to make them last through the year. I decided to use a jar tonight (why not, it's almost tomato season again!), and I still have two in the cupboard for next time I have a craving.

Though not fresh, these jarred tomatoes are the BEST canned tomatoes I have ever had! The flavor is impeccable. Simmered with some garlic in olive oil, these jarred tomatoes make the best sauce I have ever made, and so simple! I think I will have to do this every year at the end of summer. It is more than worth it.

No hassle summer dinner

1 eggplant, sliced lengthwise into 1/2" strips
a few zucchini, sliced to similar length
1 c tomato sauce
grated parmesan or mozzarella cheese
toasted baguette

Toss eggplant and zucchini in olive oil. Place on baking sheet and broil about 7-10 min, then turn over, and broil another 5 min. Remove from oven, add sauce and top with cheese. Place under broiler again, until cheese has bubbled and browned. Serve with toasted bread. The simplest.


I made these for my brother the other morning. When he asked what I was making, I told him pancakes. Because that is what River Cottage Every Day* author Hugh Fearnley-Whittingsall called them! I knew they were what we would call crepes, but if River Cottage Every Day says they are pancakes, then they are pancakes. While I seldom follow recipes, this morning I thought, why not. (Though I halved it, since it was only two of us.) The result, while boring and a lie, according to my brother, who refused their name, and instead insisted that if we were having something that looked like crepes they must be filled with Nutella, was a clean, simple breakfast. A staple to be added to the repertoire.

Here's what I made, adapted from River Cottage Every Day
1 c whole wheat pastry flour, sifted
pinch salt
1 egg, slightly beaten
1 c 2% milk

Mix sifted flour and salt. Make a well in the center, and add egg and milk. Whisk until smooth. Set aside for at least 30 min. Hugh Fearnley-Whittingsall says to do this to make the pancakes less "wet" once cooked. When ready to get crackin again, melt butter in a large skillet. Pour 1 ladle full of batter (about 1/3 c) into the hot pan, and tip pan so batter spreads around into a circle. When the whole thing has changed color, about 3 min, flip pancake. (This can be done without a spatula, just go for it!) Cook on this side for another 2 min or so. Set aside and repeat with remaining batter. Makes 8 8" crepe-like pancakes. Serve with sprinkled sugar and lemon juice, or with Nutella.

*I just want to add, that if I ever write a cookbook, I would only hope it could be just as charming as River Cottage Every Day. The illustrations, pictures, and overall writing style is just brilliant, but mostly I admire the style's accessibility, which is something I go for here, on Ripe.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Freak Out!

 Mr. Ripe's mother gave me a pasta maker as a gift maybe six months ago. I made a couple of different kinds of pastas, easy ones, that you just run through the machine and cut with the spaghetti attachment or chop with a knife to make "handkerchiefs". But in April, she also gave me a ravioli crimper! I was so happy with my little tool, but I wasn't sure I had the patience to make ravioli by hand. I also wasn't really inspired at the time to make the ravioli.

Recently, however, I was hit with inspiration. You know, it sort of just comes to you sometimes, and you can't escape it. Anyway, the idea for beet dough ravioli with some sort of cheesy filling popped into my head and, once there, it just wouldn't leave me alone. At first I thought I'd make beet ravioli and fill the things with greens. I bought baby mustard greens (so cute!) but then worried about my actual flavor profiles. I thought I should stay as simple as possible for my first ravioli attempt. Clean flavors that I knew would taste good together (at least the picture I had of them in my head definitely tasted good).

So I ditched the greens, and instead opted for two simple cheese fillings. One would have goat cheese and tarragon, the other would make use of the leftover beet puree and some Danish blue cheese. And, once cooked, I imagined these babies on a plate with lemon poppy butter. You read that right. Heaven.

I planned to make the raviolis the day before I planned to have people over to eat them. The dough was simple to make, and turns out the whole endeavor was a success that my dinner guests gobbled up and wanted more of. The only downside to the whole process was the sore shoulder that appeared just in time for my guests due to three hours spent the day before cranking out sheet after sheet of magenta pasta!
I will definitely make these again, and other kinds of filled pasta.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Greens Risotto

It's incredible I haven't posted in over two weeks. What have I been doing? Well, I've definitely not been not cooking or baking. In fact, I've been cooking and baking a ton! I just didn't feel like writing (maybe it was a break from writing all together, after finals and school came to a slow halt). And now, when I want to write, though I've imagined telling you all about the beet-dough ravioli, arborio rice pudding, or chocolate ice cream I made in the past few weeks, I'm forgoing those really artisan recipes (which are uncharacteristic of my style, to be honest) to bring you a messy recipe (of course, more my speed) - Greens Risotto.
This was kind of like dump-out-your-fridge risotto, except it turned out that I had really amazing things in my fridge, like peas in their pods, fava beans, dino kale, carrots, and broccoli. There weren't any odds and ends I wouldn't have wanted in here. And I had leftover arborio rice from the creamy rice pudding I'd made a couple of weeks ago. And I also had leftover chicken stock from the chicken I'd roasted a while ago, too. (You see? I have been cooking up a storm here!)

So all those odds and ends, plus my ever present supply of Parmesan and Cheddar cheeses in the fridge compelled me to tinker with the idea of Risotto, without a recipe. I do have a recipe for you, however:

Greens Risotto (Risotto from mostly green things)
2 T olive oil
1 onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 head broccoli, stalks trimmed and cut into small dice, florets separated
2 carrots, diced
1 c arborio rice
1/2 c fresh shelled peas
1/3 c shelled favas
1/2 bunch kale, chopped
4 c chicken or vegetable stock
1/3 c shredded cheddar cheese, loosely packed
1/3 c parmesan cheese, grated
1 T soy sauce
1 t mustard powder

In a medium saucepan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and cook until onion is translucent. Add broccoli and carrots, stir. Add rice and stir occasionally, just to toast a bit. Add 1 c stock and bring to a simmer. When the stock begins to be absorbed, add another cup of stock. When this liquid begins to be absorbed, add the third cup of stock. Stir, reduce heat, add the rest of the vegetables. Again, when the liquid is almost all absorbed, add the last cup of stock. Simmer until absorbed. Remove from heat, and stir in cheese, soy, and mustard powder. Serve.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Seitan is not the devil

Something happened the first time I ate seitan. And the second time. And I'm pretty sure there wasn't a third time because I had decided it tasted like dog food (considering the first tries were in an OSCA dining room, it's entirely possible that it did...). I swore the stuff off and turned my nose up at it when I read it on menus or about it in articles. I would have avoided it for the rest of my life but a couple of weeks ago my brother bought some seitan at the coop, left it in the fridge, and waiting for the expiration date to pass. And that's when I made my move. I got... a little curious. I wanted to see what this "wheat meat" was like cooked outside of a college coop, and by someone who was very hungry.

So I made seitan vegetable coconut curry. And guess what? Not only was it not bad, I even liked it! I know, can you believe that?

Here's the recipe I threw together last night at dinner.

1 can coconut milk
2 T green curry paste
1 c seitan, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 large onion, sliced
1 carrot, diced
3 stalks celery, diced
1 russet potato, diced
1 yellow beet, peeled and diced
1 T soy sauce
2 T peanut butter
1/2 c veggie stock

In a medium-large pot, heat 1/3 can coconut milk to simmer. Turn off heat once it begins to boil, and let cool a few minutes. Whisk in curry paste. Saute seitan and onion in curry liquid. Add the rest of the ingredients and the rest of the coconut milk. Bring to boil, and simmer 30 min. Serve over brown basmati rice and/or garlicky greens.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Need. Vegetables.

This past weekend I was in Oberlin for my college reunion. It was a really beautiful experience - got to reconnect with old friends, Oberlin (such a special place!), and myself. The experience was like a cleanse. An emotional reboot. It made me feel confident, happy, independent, and self-assured in ways I hadn't noticed that I hadn't felt in years.

On Day 1 of the visit, we went straight to the Feve, Oberlin's only bar. For the last couple of hours of the car ride from New York to Oberlin, nobody could stop gabbing about how much they wanted to eat a Buffalo Shishtawouk, the Feve's signature sandwich. We got to the bar, ordered our food (with tots, of course), and hung out. On Day 2, we had brunch at Joe Waltzer's Black River Cafe (where the eggs taste like eggs!), which we had been looking forward to and referencing since, oh, the day we graduated, perhaps. We had dinner at the Feve, again. On Day 3, I had a bagel from Black River and dinner at a very unusual and comical college event that my friend Ali described as a "potato cocktail". Very strange. But filling for the time. On Day 4, it was back to Black River, before we left for New York, filled with strong emotions of bittersweet sadness about leaving a place that meant so much to us as very young adults, and still does, today.

Between food on the road and the constant eating out at Oberlin, when I got home, all I wanted was VEGETABLES. I went to the coop and just loaded the cart with lots of vegetables, of all different shapes and colors. Last night, I made a spring-style ratatouille of sorts, served over baked garnet sweet potato. And today for lunch, I thought it may taste better at a cooler, lukewarm temperature, topped with chopped kalamata olives and feta cheese. And it did. mmm...

Spring Veg Lunch

Garnet (or any variety) sweet potato(es), wrapped in foil and baked in a 350 degree oven for about 30 min.

1 T olive oil
2 cloves garlic, sliced thinly
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 eggplant, cut into 1/2" cubes
2 red peppers, chopped
1 T diced seeded jalapeno peppers
1 bunch asparagus, chopped
3 plum tomatoes, diced
1/2 T dried oregano
salt and pepper to taste
chopped kalamata olives for garnish
1 oz per serving feta cheese for garnish

In a large french saute pan or any large stovetop dish, heat olive oil on medium. Add garlic and cook until fragrant but not brown. Add eggplant, peppers, asparagus, and cook until eggplant starts to shrink and look like it's heating through, about 10 min. Add tomatoes, oregano, salt and pepper, and cook for another 10 min, stirring occasionally. Serve atop half a baked sweet potato and garnish with olives and feta. This dish is also very tasty at room temperature.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Breakfast for one.

I woke up this morning and did not feel so good. My mind went to that yummy egg sandwich place it's gone to on so many mornings like these. The paper-and-foil wrapped roll filled with sliced cheddar cheese that melts on contact with hot scrambled good... But eating an egg sandwich would require me to like, get out of bed? or change out of pajamas? feel less groggy? All alternatives that just were not.

So i forgot about that idea. I dozed. And then, I up and created.

A baked egg-broccoli-cheddar puff. Kind of loosely based on the idea of a strata, but no overnight soaking required. Very satisfying. And then I had a bowl of vanilla gelato. What can I say, that's just my mood on this permacloud hazy day.

Puffy Baked Egg with Broccoli and Cheese (for one)
2 eggs, beaten
pinch salt, pepper
1/8 t yellow mustard powder
handful broccoli florets, cut into little tiny pieces
1 slice whole wheat bread, crust removed, cut into 16+ squares
1 oz cheddar cheese, in cubes

In bowl, beat egg with salt, pepper, mustard powder. Gently toss in broccoli, bread, and half of the cheese. Pour into lightly greased ramekin or ovenproof dish, and top with remaining cheese. Bake at 350, covered, for 15-20 minutes.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Dear Broccoli, when did you become so enchanting?

The Enchanted Broccoli Forest is not only the title of a brilliant book (or a recipe in the book). For me, it is the equivalent of your favorite childhood story book. A flip through its tattered pages, a glance at the hand-drawn illustrations and text, without even reading the recipes yet, makes me feel good. Late last night, I was getting ready for bed, and I saw this cookbook on the floor. It was already past midnight, but I just had to have a peek.

It had been a while, maybe a year? since I had browsed its pages, but honestly, it brought me a feeling of warmth.

Today I brought a bad lunch to work with me. I held out till this evening, and made Confetti Spaghetti from the Enchanted Broccoli Forest. Yes, I was feeling sort of starving, but I think even if I wasn't famished, this pasta dish would have been amazing. Like a healthier macaroni and cheese, this veggie-packed pasta is comforting and satisfying in color and taste. Amazing. Will make again.

3 T butter
2 T olive oil
2 minced onions
4 cloves garlic minced
2 broccoli stalks, diced
1 head cauliflower (I used the yellow kind), chopped
1 red pepper, diced
2 c frozen peas
dash soy sauce
1 lb whole wheat spaghetti
2 c shredded cheddar cheese

In a big saute pan, melt butter and oil. Add onions and garlic and cook until fragrant, and onions are translucent. Add broccoli, cauliflower, mushrooms. Cook, stirring occasionally, about 10 min. Add pepper. Cook until soft. Add peas and cook only heated through. Remove from heat, stir in soy. Cover. Cook spaghetti, drain, and return to pot. Add veggies to pasta, and then stir in the cheddar. SO GOOD.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

I know it's not winter but this soup rocks.

Look guys, "It's not winter!" is not a good response to "I'm making soup."
Soup is a year-round food. Maybe not what you want to eat when it's a million degrees out, but we've been in a crisp, cool, lull. The heat hasn't hit us yet. And even when it does, who's to say I won't still be making soup?
I was food blog searching the other day, just seeing what my sites were posting. I like to stop by Cathy Erway's Not Eating Out in New York site, just because, well, you know, I live in New York, and I like to not eat out. She's pretty inspirational (I'm a tad envious of her book deal, but also wanna say You go, girl! as if she were my sister...). Anyway, she had this roast potato leek soup up there, and it sounded like a great idea. I came home tonight and made it with baby kale I bought in bulk at the coop the other day.
The roast potatoes and onions have such a deep flavor, having caramelized for about thirty minutes before having chicken stock added. The baby kale leaves are crisp though cooked through, and have a slightly lemony flavor, standing out it this rustic potato puree as a beacon of brightness.

Super easy to make, doesn't take a lot of ingredients or attention, this one is a sure bet.

2 T olive oil
6 red-skinned potatoes, cut into wedges
2 onions, sliced
6 c chicken or vegetable stock
salt and pepper to taste
2 big handfuls of chopped kale or other hearty green

In a dutch oven or big oven-proof saute pan, toss potatoes and onions in olive oil. Cover and cook in oven on 400 degrees for 30 min. Remove from oven, place on stove top over medium heat. Add stock, salt, and pepper. Cook for another 30 minutes. Puree with hand blender and then add kale. Adjust seasoning and serve!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

A hankering for

What's a yankee like me doing craving biscuits, anyway? Dunno. All I know is I went for a beer at 7, came home and ate a salad, and then didn't quite want dessert but wanted more! I would have settled for a slice of good, crusty bread, but I didn't have any. So I went for a short order of whole wheat biscuits with raspberry jam. Crumbly but warm and tender inside. Flaky. Wow. Perfect, I might say! They're even crispy on the outside when I bite! And tender inside! Yes, I'm excited. Thank you, Homesick Texan, for being so inspiring when it comes to whipping up a batch of biscuits.

For a small order, of about 6-8 biscuits, follow below. For more, double recipe.

1 c whole wheat pastry flour
1 1/2 t baking powder
pinch sugar
pinch salt
3 T non-hydrogenated shortening or butter
1/3 c buttermilk

Preheat oven to 450. In medium bowl, mix dry ingredients. Cut in shortening with a fork or your fingertips. Mix until mixture is cornmealy or crumbly. Do not over mix! Add buttermilk and stir to form a dough. Pat into a disk about 1/2" thick and cut into circles. Bake 10-15 min, until lightly browned on top. Eat warm, right out of the oven. Now.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Earthy Lasagna

Hopefully this post makes up for my recent lack of writing anything about food. On a whim, inspired by a previous mushroom lasagna recipe on this blog, I attacked in the kitchen tonight. Without a real plan in mind, just a loose idea of lasagna noodles, something green, earthy portabello mushrooms, and a sweet, bright flavor, I whipped up this earthy lasagna dish. The mushrooms and spinach keep the flavors deep and grounded; the oven-carmelized carrots and onions add a sweet brightness. And the dill... I have to admit... makes it taste Jewish! I swear! It is a must-try.

Carrot Puree
olive oil
3 big carrots, cut into 1/2" thick coins
1 onion, sliced
1 shallot, cut into wedges
red wine vinegar
3/4 c milk simmered with 1/2 T butter

1 T butter
Four portabello mushrooms, sliced into 1/4" thick pieces
salt to taste
1/4 c white wine

1 bunch spinach, cleaned and steamed
1 box lasagna noodles, cooked according to package
1 1/2 c mozzarella cheese, shredded
2 oz taleggio cheese, pulled into pieces
2 T chopped dill

Preheat oven to 425. On an oiled baking sheet, spread carrot coins, onions, and shallots in one layer. Drizzle with 1 T olive oil and 1/2 T red wine vinegar. Sprinkle generously with salt. Roast 20 minutes, then stir and roast for another 20 min. Remove from oven and put everything in a food processor, along with milk cooked with butter. Puree until smooth.

In a large saute pan, melt butter. Add mushrooms and cook until greatly reduced in size. Add wine when pan looks dry, and add salt to taste.

Lightly oil a casserole dish. Place one layer of noodles in bottom. Spread with carrot puree, then top with spinach, mushrooms, and mozzarella cheese. Top with second layer of noodles, and repeat layering until four layers of noodles are in place. On top layer of noodles, spoon carrot puree and top with remaining mozzarella and taleggio cheese. Sprinkle with chopped dill. Cover with lid or foil and bake at 425 for 15 min. Uncover and cook for another 20 min.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Cleaning out the fridge

I had to empty out the fridge today. I am leaving for a week-long vacation to the Bay Area on Tuesday, and I realized I had a bunch of perishables in there. Last night I made the biggest salad ever to dispose of my vegetables. And this morning I saved the milk from its would-be obligatory welcome home after being gone for a while, having spoiled.
Typically when I have an excess of milk, I think: Pudding.
Actually, I usually think: Rice Pudding.
But I strangely had no more brown rice. I finished it and forgot to get more this week. I did, however, have couscous!
So I made a couscous custard, with the lone left banana and vanilla. Damn, I love custards! I am such a custard girl. If you ever want to please me, present me with custard. Any temperature will do, but warm is best.

Banana Couscous Custard
3 c milk
1 cinnamon stick
1 banana, cut into small pieces
1 T vanilla extract
2 egg yolks
3/4 c sugar
1 1/2 c whole wheat (or regular) couscous

In a big saucepan, heat milk, banana, vanilla, and cinnamon stick on low. Whisk occasionally. While milk heats, whisk 1/2 c sugar into the egg yolks in a medium bowl. When milk begins to simmer, temper the egg mixture by adding a ladle full of milk into the bowl and whisking. Add the egg mixture into the milk pot and whisk until well incorporated. Add remaining sugar, and whisk. Finally, add couscous, and stir a few times, with the custard still simmering. Turn off heat, pour into a big bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and put in the fridge to set, about 1 hour if you are impatient, or longer if you can wait, unlike me. Remove cinnamon stick. Serve in bowls just so, or underneath fresh fruit.

Monday, April 11, 2011

The Importance of Being Flexible

I want to start today's post with a funny story. At least it's funny to me. Around the beginning of my third year at Oberlin, I was in the Old Barrows kitchen getting ready for Pizza Night. As the head cook, I arrived in the early afternoon before any prep people started. I would make the dough, start the huge pot of sauce, and get any special toppings ready. On this day, I must have been very distracted. Or maybe I had a bit too much to drink before the party started... Whatever it was, I somehow forgot about the giant pot of tomato sauce on the stove. When I remembered it was there (maybe it smelled like burning? I don't remember), I ran to it with a long-handled spoon and stirred. Damn! Totally burned. Can you believe I burned the sauce? I thought, there's no way I can serve this. It's going to taste burnt. Just then, a few prep people arrived, and maybe a cook or two. They said, "What's that great smell? Smokey! What did you do to the sauce? It smells delicious!" No joke. I thought, are they serious? Well, yes, they were, and then I tasted it. ...And it tasted smokey! Like a nice chipotle kind of smokiness. It was pretty rad!

Now, while I don't advocate for burning tomato sauce intentionally, my point is, sometimes "burnt" is salvageable, especially if you are able to reconceptualize your original plan as something else.

Yesterday morning I tried to cook some black beans I had soaked overnight the night before. I rinsed the beans from their soaking water, filled the pot an inch from the top with clean water, added some salt, a chopped-up carrot, and a whole dried chili. I turned the pot onto medium heat, and I hopped in the shower. And then I sat on the couch, and then I caught up on emails, and then I watched some guilty-pleasure television. And in the middle of watching a show, I heard a noise like "shhhh". I thought, what's that noise? Is it the heater? no... Is it the sink running? definitely no... I told myself to forget about it. A few minutes passed and I jumped up! SH*T! I completely forgot about the beans! Darn darn darn darn darn! What a waste of a pot of beans! I turned off the heat. I removed the pan from the burner. I put on the tap and ran water into the pot of burning beans. I stirred. I tasted. Still hard. I put the beans and the new liquid in a deli container.

That evening, I chopped up some veggies, onions, garlic. I heated the diced onion and garlic on the stove. I added the beans with the newer liquid back into the saucepan. I put the heat on medium and I brought it to a simmer. And can you believe it? In about 20 minutes, I had cooked, smokey-tasting beans! So tonight and last night, I dined famously.

Green tortillas with homemade spanish rice, beans, a light pickle of vegetables, ripe avocado, and some white cheddar. Man.

Light vegetable pickle
1 c shredded red cabbage
1 1/2 carrots, grated
2 persian cucumbers, sliced into rounds or half-moons
1 red pepper, diced
3 T red wine vinegar
1 T lime juice
2 t sugar
salt to taste

Mix all ingredients. Eat alone or atop rice and beans and avocado and cheddar. Yummm.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

A little of this, a little of that

I always tell myself I must take a few cooking classes in foods I just don't have inborn tastes for but love to eat. For example, I have no idea how good Chinese food is made. I don't just have that palette like I do with other foods; I can't eat a great Chinese meal and say oh, there's this, this, and this in it the same way I can with Western cooking. It's way harder to replicate. So as embarrassing as this is, I took a page from Mom. I spied on her making us dinner a few weeks ago.
Here's my version of a little of this, a little of that and, I have to say, for a Honky, it's pretty decent/awesome!

1/4 c low sodium soy
1 T rice vinegar
2 T honey
1 clove garlic, grated
1" ginger, grated
1 1/2 T sesame oil with chili (or without)
vegetable oil
1 head bok choy, cleaned well and chopped
1 clove garlic, sliced
1/2 cake tofu, pressed and cubed

In a medium bowl, combine soy sauce through sesame oil. Let sit, 5-10 minutes. In a wok or frying pan, head 1 T oil. When oil is hot (not smoking), add tofu. Cook until puffed a bit and lightly browned. Add sliced garlic and cook 30 sec or so, add bok choy and stir it up. It should make a loud sizzling sound. When the green parts of the bok choy are wilted, add your sauce, stir for a minute, turn off heat.
Serve with brown rice.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Stayin in Soup Night

I made a soup like this a while back, and it was incredible. So simple, but so good! I've tweaked it a bit this time, and I also realized that last time there were no photos. So in an effort to beautify the blog, here is a sweet, spicy winter-relapse root soup, with some unusual add-ins for flavor (not including the bit of thumb I sliced off with an untrustworthy vegetable peeler). Paired with a small salad or rice and beans (or both!) this soup makes for a good warm-you-up soup on a very cold night.

What you need:

3 big peeled sweet potatoes, chopped big
1 leek, cleaned well and sliced
1 poblano pepper, seeded and chopped
1 beet, peeled and chopped
10 c water
1/2 c cooked squash
salt and pepper to taste
3 c corn kernels
2 T molasses

In a T of olive oil in a bit soup pot, saute ingredients listed from potatoes through beet for about 5 minutes. Add water and bring to boil. Then add squash. Boil about 1 hour. Puree. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add corn and molasses. Stir well. Serve.

** I've got to add-- last night I ended up eating this with rice and beans in the soup. And then tonight I ate it without the rice but with chipotle black beans and cheddar cheese on top. I think the black beans, though not essential, are a terrific addition to the soup...
Also, that beet? My best idea in a long time. For the flavor, the color, the texture (not all of the beets and sweet potatoes were pureed so smoothly). That beet was essential!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Bread Pudding

What do you do with a half loaf of a HUGE homemade challah you froze several months ago then defrosted because you thought you'd eat it and then let it sit in the fridge for two and a half weeks, untouched?
I'll answer my own question. You bake Nutella Bread Pudding! That's what you do!
Tonight, when I got home from school and a no-show in the clinic, it was late. 8:30 already. I had a quick dinner with a new protein I hope to not try again (a very salty new kind of sausage at the coop that I thought maybe looked good?), and I whipped up the leftover milk in the fridge with eggs and flavors that smelled good.
Hopefully I don't make a habit of not eating homemade bread. But in the case that I do, bread pudding is a Terrific way to not waste food! And if it was Sunday morning instead of a Tuesday evening on which I had a hankering for sweets, I could have made a strata instead. A savory bread pudding custardy thing. With like, vegetables, or something.
...the leftover bread possibilities are endless. Waste Not!

Nutella Bread Pudding
5 c torn up pieces of challah
1 3/4 c milk (any kind)
4 eggs
1/2 c sugar
1 t cinnamon
10 rasps nutmeg
2 t vanilla
2 T nutella

Preheat oven to 350 and lightly grease a loaf pan. Fill a large bowl with torn bread. In another bowl, beat all ingredients except nutella. Pour over the bread and push down to cover. Pour about 1/3 into prepared pan, and then try to spread 1 T nutella over this layer. Then pour another 1/3 of bread mixture on top, and spread another 1 T nutella over. Pour remaining bread mixture into pan. Spread/push down with spatula. Bake for 30-40 minutes. Let cool in pan about 10 minutes, then invert onto cooling rack.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Farro in Parmesan Brodo

A couple of weeks ago Mr. Ripe and I had house guests. On their second night with us, I insisted we feast. The menu was inspired by my recent falling back in love with the charming Jamie Oliver, having borrowed his book on Italian cooking from the local library. The theme of his book and of our dinner was very simple food, made with simple ingredients. The results were phenomenal. We marinated chicken overnight in Chianti for Chicken Cacciatore, and made Jamie's Italian beans (our version was simply cooked white beans in water with herbs on hand and veggies, sort of in a light stock, then tossed with olive oil). We also did a quick field greens salad and, upon remembering a flavorful side dish I once had at a restaurant here in Brooklyn, I could not abandon my instinct to make a similar farro side.
I have never cooked farro before, but it is a great hearty grain to use. It looks like a wheat berry, but it doesn't need to soak overnight in order to cook. In this way, it's much more versatile and easy to use, a perfect fit for my whim.
I started by toasting onion in olive oil, and then toasted the farro in there as well. I then used a very rich chicken stock (although vegetarian can be substituted) leftover from weeks prior, which I had frozen into ice cubes for easy access at just a time like this, as my cooking liquid. When the farro was cooked through, softened but still with a light chew, we added about 1 1/2 c parmesan. The idea is to go for a brothy batch of farro, so the grain is cooked, but it is served in quite a bit of rich parmesan chicken brodo. It is quite rich, but a delightful side dish if you require extra whole grains in your meal.
I definitely recommend this one- it's so easy, there is no reason not to try it!
Farro in Parmesan Brodo
1 - 2 T Olive oil
1 small onion, diced
1 1/2 c farro
1 t salt
6 c chicken stock (or water, or vegetable stock)
1 1/2 - 2 c grated Parmesan cheese
black pepper and salt, to taste

With olive oil in medium saucepan, turn heat to medium, and add onion. Cook until translucent. Add farro, and toast, 2-3 minutes. Add salt and stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and allow to simmer until still chewy but tender, 40-50 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in cheese, pepper, and salt. Serve farro with its broth.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Chili Lime Chicken Soup

Man, I feel like I haven't posted forever! And I am sorry. My routine had taken over, I guess. And I cooked less in the past two weeks than I would have liked to. But oh, the agony, of leaving the house at 7 in the morning and not returning until 8 or 8:30. Oy.

Today I was recuperating from a terrible head cold. But by 5:30, I was going stir crazy! I had to leave the house. I had to feel fresh air on my face! I caught a ride to the coop with little more on my list than oranges and Emergen-C. And somehow (of course), I ended up buying more, spending $35 instead of perhaps $15. But it was because when I was there, as I slowly walked through the produce section, I became inspired by some fresh baby ginger and lemon grass. I grabbed some limes from a box and a couple pounds of potatoes. (And irresistible looking spicy marcona almonds, and chocolate covered raisins, and dried mango...)

Once home, I promptly got to business, without even fully having unpacked my bag. And soon, there was a pot of almost-done chili lime chicken soup on the stove! When Mr. Ripe came home, he served each of us a bowl of the soup, topped off with fresh lime juice. After his first few bites, with delight, he asked me where the recipe was from. I want to share with you readers that I was flattered! No recipe. I urge you to change and increase this and take out that and add some more of whatever to this recipe- make it yours! Mmm!

Chili-lime Soup
*excellent for speedy cold recovery*

2 T olive oil
2 carrots, diced
2 potatoes, diced
1 large onion, diced
1 1/2" piece of ginger, minced
2" piece of lemongrass, minced
3/4 c red lentils
3/4 c short grain brown rice
1 whole dried chili
6 c chicken stock
4 c water
half a head of napa cabbage, thinly sliced crosswise
salt and pepper to taste
fresh lime juice

In a large pot, heat olive oil. Add ingredients on list through the rice. Saute 5 minutes. Add the chili, stock, water, cabbage, and salt and pepper, stir, turn heat to high and bring to a boil. Then reduce heat and simmer 45 minutes or until rice is cooked through. Serve and add lime juice and/or sriracha to individual bowls.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Light Spice Yogurt Cake

I know I just posted the lemon cake less than two weeks ago, but I made this for my class and everyone loved it and asked if it would be on the blog. So, by popular demand, I bring you very lightly spiced yogurt cake!

1 c flour
3/4 c sugar
1 t baking soda
1/8 t freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 t cinnamon
1/8 t salt
1 1/2 c yogurt
1 egg
1 t vanilla extract
1 t almond extract
1/4 c melted butter
cardamom syrup (recipe below)

cardamom syrup: in small bowl, mix 6 crushed cardamom pods with 1/4 c boiled water and 1/4 c sugar. Let sit 5-10 minutes. Strain through sieve, discard pods.

In a large bowl, mix dry ingredients. In a separate bowl, mix remaining ingredients. Add wet ingredients to dry, including the syrup. Stir until thoroughly combined. Pour into lightly greased loaf pan. Bake on 350 for 25 minutes, or until golden brown and inserted toothpick comes out clean.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Really Delicious Hearty Breakfast

I love mushy food. I'm sure you've read that here before. So perfect breakfast on a day that I don't need to be anywhere at any time? Polenta, steamed kale and, of course, a poached egg. I don't know what those foods make you think. I know what I think:
mmm mushy, creamy polenta...
kale? The ultimate green leafy.
...and everyone knows poached eggs make EVERYTHING better!

Double the recipe for two people; I cooked for me and me alone!

1/2 c polenta, or any grind corn meal
1 c water
pinch salt
4 dino kale leaves, roughly chopped
medium saucepan full of boiling water
pinch salt
1 T vinegar (any kind, though probably not like balsamic)
1 egg
shredded cheddar cheese (optional)

In a small saucepan, bring 1 c water and pinch salt to boil. Slowly add polenta, whisking until incorporated. Lower heat to low. Stir every minute or so with wooden spoon. Cook until mixture pulls away from sides when stirred. Remove from heat, pour into serving bowl.
Blanche the kale in the medium pot of boiling water (quick dump in and slotted spoon out; no need for ice water); place kale on top of polenta in bowl. Bring water back to boil, add vinegar. Poach egg by cracking egg into small cup, bringing cup to water's surface, and quickly dumping egg into water.
Maintain slow boil, cooking for about 2-4 minutes, checking by pulling egg out of water with slotted spoon and gently tapping yolk with your finger to check done-ness. When done, remove egg from water and place on top of kale. Sprinkle with cheddar if using. Dig in!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Easy Lemon Yogurt Cake

I've been waking up early on the weekends. It's just in my blood at this point. I can't help it. And I enjoy it! I wake up, tip toe out of bed, and put something cheesy on Netflix. I make myself a cup of tea, cozy up on the couch, and I'm set. But this past Sunday I had a hankering for something sweet. Not french toast- too boring (if I'd had challah that would be a different story). Not pancakes (too similar to the Chinese scallion pancakes I made the night before). A quick look in the fridge told me what was possible. I had a quart of vanilla yogurt that was a week past its expiration. Now, you may read that line and think EW THROW IT OUT! But come on, everyone knows that for many things, the expiration date is actually a "sell by" date. Not a date on which the product will "expire". This applies especially to yogurt, which can be good for at least two weeks beyond said date. But anyway, it's just as good if you have fresher yogurt; yogurt-past-the-expiration-date is not a requirement for this recipe.

And yes, this satisfied my sweet tooth as a terrific early morning breakfast treat to enjoy as I vegged out on the couch. Reminiscent of my early days as a child in front of the television watching Mickey Mouse Club (those were the days...).

Lemon Yogurt Cake

1 c flour
1/2 c sugar
1/2 t baking powder
1/2 t salt
1 1/3 c yogurt
1/3 c oil
1 egg
1 t vanilla
zest and juice of 1 lemon

Mix dry ingredients in a large bowl. Add the rest of the ingredients and stir well until combined. Bake on 350 for 20-30 minutes, until golden brown on top and inserted toothpick comes out clean.
Cool in pan for 5-10 minutes, then on a cooling rack. Yum.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Go to your room! er... I mean.. The Fridge!

Tonight was one of those nights I came home and it was already 7:00 and I knew I couldn't start making a meal from scratch that late because then I wouldn't be eating till maybe 9 pm and then by the time I was done I'd have no time to really relax. So instead of making a meal for tonight, I put some frozen tamales in the steamer and sliced up a cucumber real quick for a mini cucumber salad (read: red wine vinegar, pinch sugar, salt, and pepper). And, as the tamales steamed, I chopped an onion, two carrots, some of that beautiful marina di chioggia squash, and started on soup for lunches and dinners this week!

Though I didn't get to enjoy it tonight, cooking a nearly hands off soup while I got to sit on the couch and relax definitely has its benefits. I'll be good for tomorrow and the next day. And I can stop feeling bad about that gorgeous squash just sitting around, not being used!

Here's the recipe; it's incredibly simple. Promise!

2 T olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 carrots, diced
3/4 c chopped hard winter squash
1 1/2 T cumin
1/2 T curry powder
2 c red lentils, rinsed (Hey, sometimes when you buy them, they're dusty. It won't kill you but...)
10 c water
salt and pepper to taste

In a saucepan, heat olive oil. Add onions, carrots, squash, and spices. Stir, and saute until onions are translucent. Add lentils and water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and allow to simmer until lentils are soft, about 25 minutes. (Or, if you forget pot is on the stove for an hour, it will be good then, too!)

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Bright Yellow Squash Cake

I struggled over whether or not to post this recipe. I made it in an obstinate mood. I refused to look at any recipes even for guidance. I had a big Marina di Chioggia squash, which is a large, heirloom squash that looks like a very big pumpkin but instead of being round and orange, it has bumpy blue-green skin and is a bit more ovular than round. This squash was my last remnant from having worked at the Fort Greene Farmers Market for Hector Tejada at Conuco farms. It had sat on my counter for a number of weeks and so I thought it was ready to be processed. I cut the squash in half, crosswise, and scooped out the seeds of one half (the other half went into plastic wrap in the fridge... maybe soup later this week?). I roasted it on 375 for about 70 minutes, then let it cool before scooping out the flesh and putting it in a container in the fridge.

When I came home from my orientation at the Park Slope Food Coop (yes, I'm now a member! Awesome!), and I had four boys men in my livingroom watching football and screaming every few minutes, I thought baking a squash butter cake would be a good way to occupy myself. (And, I have to say, I had some report writing to do and you know me- what better way to procrastinate than to bake?)

Here is the recipe to the cake, which I devised out of thin air. It's very damp. Moist. I warn you. It's kind of like a kugel with no noodles, because of the egg, mashed squash, and yogurt. But it is freakin tasty. And bright orange-yellow in color. So here it is in case you decide you want to retrace my evening:

1/2 c softened butter
1 c sugar
1 1/2 c mashed squash (I bet you could use canned pumpkin, unseasoned or sweetened)
2 eggs
3/4 c vanilla or plain yogurt
1 t vanilla extract
2 c flour
1/2 t baking powder
1/2 t salt

In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar. Add squash, and mix until combined. Add eggs and beat well, then add yogurt and vanilla. In another bowl, mix dry ingredients together. Add the dry ingredients to the wet, and stir until combined. If the batter is too thin, add flour. If it is too thick to be poured into a loaf pan, add more yogurt. Bake on 350 for 40 minutes. Remove from pan and place on rack to cool.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Vegetarian Chili

Yesterday was cold. Cloudy and cold and snowing on and off, but not sticking. We had some friends stopping by for tea, and I thought, Hey, if I'm stuck inside all day, I may as well have a project going.
So to the store I went for canned beans and carrots and scallions. (I know I am an avid supporter of dried beans, but we had just gotten back from the Bay Area and our supplies are low.)

This chili is one of the easiest things to make, especially if you have the staples lying around somewhere. We ate it served on top of creamy polenta, but you could have it over rice, egg noodles, or just plain. Or with cornbread (which was our second choice after polenta). Throw all the ingredients in the pot in no specific order (although the order in which the following ingredients are listed is a good order to go in!), and let it simmer away until it thickens up. We didn't even add any water or stock--the only liquid is from the tomatoes and bean liquid. And this chili flavor was very chilily!

2 T olive oil
2 onions, chopped
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 1/2 c diced carrots
1 1/2 T chili powder (we used a mix of 2)
1 T cumin
1 dried chipotle pepper, whole (or a can of adobo chiles)
2 dried anaheim peppers (or just a couple t's of crushed red pepper)
32 oz canned tomatoes (we used the ones we put up this summer, but store-bought is fine)
1 can each of black beans, kidney beans, and pinto beans
salt to taste
white pepper to taste

Saute onions, garlic, carrots, and spices in olive oil. Add beans and tomatoes. Season to taste. Boil and then reduce to simmer, cooking for about 45 min, or until it reaches desired consistency. Serve with chives or cheddar cheese or sour cream (or all three!).

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Like most things in life

Polenta is better the next day served with an egg.
Those people to put on the egg commercials are on to something. The incredible, edible egg, indeed! I swear by eggs making just about any meal better. Especially a meal based around a starch. With some sort of vegetable thing in there, somewhere.
So this morning, when I wanted a real good breakfast, I turned on the broiler, boiled a pot of water on the stove, reheated last night's dinner, and called it Brunch.
A small skillet of last night's creamy polenta with butter and goat gouda, topped with last night's vegetarian chili, under the broiler for 10 minutes until bubbly was topped with a perfectly poached egg, seasoned with salt and pepper, and finished with a dollop of Mr. Ripe's cousin's Christmas Salsa. Wowza.
Talk about brunch!