Monday, December 17, 2012

Curry in a hurry

...sort of.

I have been busy, again. Not not cooking - yes cooking, yes baking, but not posting. There have been some gems in there the past month, including As-authentic-as-i-think-i'll-ever-get Indian Dinner of chana masala and palak paneer, with ingredients from one of the three (yes, 3!!!) South Asian markets near my job; squash & spinach lasagna; and sweet and salty granola. But my energy has been scattered and directed places that have not been this blog.

Hopefully tonight will mark the kick-off of a new season of Ripe, but I can't make any promises at the moment. In the meantime, enjoy Thai Curry in a Hurry - a vegetarian coconut curry of butternut squash, leftover baked potatoes, and peas, served over cellophane noodles and garlic-fried-kale.

Cellophane noodles (or bean threads) are easy - just soak 15 min if they're going to be cooked, 30 min if not. Garlic-fried-kale is easy - just heat 2 T oil in a pan, saute slivers of 2 garlic cloves, add hot pepper if desired, and 1 bunch cleaned, chopped, and blanched kale (quick in and out of boiling water). Saute 3-5 min.

As for the curry - also not bad. Here's what you need:

1 shallot, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 T ginger, minced
1/2 t cumin
1/2 t coriander
1/2 t curry powder
2 T red curry paste
1 small butternut squash, peeled with a peeler, seeds removed, squash chopped into small cubes
1 can coconut milk plus 1/2 can refilled with water 
a few thai chilies, or other whole dried chili, if desired
2 leftover baked potatoes (or 2 potatoes, raw), chopped same size as squash
1 c peas
salt or soy sauce to taste (about 1 or 2 t)
squeeze fresh lime
diced scallions

In medium to large saucepan, saute shallot and leeks until fragrant. Add garlic, ginger, and other spices. Saute 1-2 min. Add curry paste and squash (and potatoes if using raw). With heat on medium, stir occasionally, for 5 min. Add coconut milk and water. Stir, bring to simmer. Add chilies. Heat until vegetables are cooked through, about 15 min. Add potatoes if using pre-baked and peas, and heat until heated through. Add salt or soy to taste. Enjoy over noodles or rice, with a squeeze of lime and/or some scallions on top.

Friday, November 9, 2012

"Spanish Chicken Stew"

I put the name of this post in quotes because I don't necessarily trust that the recipe is, in fact, Spanish, from Spain. Sure they might eat olives and chicken and paprika in Spain, but I'm still not convinced enough to call it Spanish without the quotes. And I know I don't usually cook meat or post about meaty recipes on Ripe, but ever since my friend and I cooked a confit chicken thang I've been really into doing the chicken confit thing a lot. It's so easy and kind of awesome - what you do is buy chicken pieces with skin on, turn a pan on low, and throw the chicken in there, skin-side down. The fat literally melts off the skin, and also browns it, making it super crispy for later. You then remove the chicken from the pan, set aside, and drain most (all but 1 T) drippings from pan. Then you cook your veggies in the chicken fat. Cool, huh? And when ready, add the chicken back, cover with a lid or braise in liquid of your choice until done and Voila! You're done.

So this is a recipe based on one in a Williams Sonoma cookbook. So weird, because I wasn't in a Williams Sonoma and I usually think their cookbooks are horribly uncreative and generic, but this one was good! (Anyone want to buy it for me??) Anyway, really, it was in the coop and I read it while browsing on the hunt for something to bring to a pot luck this weekend (more to come on that later). And I'm glad it was there because I found something to make this weekend and for dinner tonight, too!

Spanish Chicken Stew
2 chicken legs with thighs attached, skin on, patted dry and salt and pepper sprinkled on each side
2 bell peppers of any color, chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tomatoes, diced
2 t smoked paprika
1 head cauliflower cut into florets
1/4 c chopped, pitted green olives
3/4 c cooked or canned chickpeas

Cook the chicken as described above over low heat. Remove from pan. Pour off all fat from pan except 1 Tablespoon. On medium heat, saute peppers and onion, about 5 min. Add garlic, and then tomatoes, paprika and cauliflower. Cook over medium, stirring occasionally, another 5 min. Add chicken back to pan and cover. Cook on low heat with mixture simmering about 40 minutes or until chicken is cooked through. Add olives and chickpeas and cook until heated through, about 10 minutes. Serve with rice or potatoes.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Empty House Lentil Soup

No vegetables in my fridge, no gas in my car, no knowledge of a nearby gas station with gas to sell me, and no desire to waste my hard earned cash on eating out. On the fourth day of being shacked up in my apartment, and for the first time in a WHOLE WEEK that no one is home when I am home (a topic for another day...), I wanted to eat dinner. But how? you ask. Empty House Lentil Soup, that's it!

OK, I lied. I had carrots in the fridge and 1.5 onions and some garlic. And cilantro that I bought by accident in a rush thinking it was parsley. And some lemons. So here is how I fed myself from my pantry and limited cold supplies. I honestly wouldn't post this recipe if it wasn't tasty, and I'll just say this soup saved me and I think has turned into something I would actually make again! And thank you to Laurel's Kitchen for inspirational "Golden Broth" (which is basically the first 6 ingredients minus the cumin).

1 T olive oil
1 onion, diced
1 whole clove garlic
1/2 t tumeric
1/2 t cumin
1/2 c split yellow peas
1 1/2 c lentils
2 carrots, diced
8 c water
salt and pepper to taste
cooked soba noodles
fresh chopped cilantro
1 T butter
1/2 onion, sliced thin
lemon wedges

In a medium saucepan, saute onion, garlic, and spices in olive oil. Add the peas, lentils, and carrots when the onion is translucent, then add the water. Stir, bring to a boil, and reduce to a simmer. Let simmer 45 min to 1 hr. Season to taste, and then puree some of the soup if you want. In a separate pan, caramelize the sliced onions in melted butter. (cook over low heat for 15 min or until turning brown.) Serve soup in mugs or bowls with soba noodles in the bottom and a sprinkle of fresh cilantro, browned onions, and a squeeze of lemon on top.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

I eat hippie food.

Well duh, I mean, for those of you who know me, or who have eaten a meal I've cooked, you know that I at least Make Hippie Food. I also eat it. Tonight was no exception. It was sort of a double-decker quesadilla type thing with sliced kabocha squash in between the layers. I am starting to love kabochas, and I'm not sure why I never really made them before, but the most awesome thing about them is you can eat the skin. Bye bye peeling squash.

Serve with red cabbage/apple slaw.

For the slaw:
1/4 red cabbage, shredded
1/2 c crisp tart apple, shredded
2 T apple cider vinegar
1 t honey

Mix ingredients and let sit a good 10 min. Done.

For the kabocha squash tortilla melt:
1 kabocha squash, seeded and sliced into 1/2" slices
3 tortillas
3/4 c cheddar, jack, or feta (I used cheddar and feta)

On a slip of parchment paper, or on an oiled cookie sheet, roast kabocha slices at 400 for 10 min on each side. Done when easily pierced with a fork. In an 8x8 baking dish, place first tortilla. Place one layer of squash slices on top, and then sprinkle with about 1/3 of the cheese. Place next tortilla on top, and then the rest of the kabocha slices, and then more cheese. Place final tortilla on top, top with remaining cheese. Cover with foil or lid and bake 15 min at 350. Uncover and bake another 10 min, or until brown on top.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Weeknight Polenta

I subscribe to the Culinate newsletter. Though it tends to be quite basic, I think it gives me a boost I sometimes need to help me remember to cook the simple recipes that I love to both make and eat. When I saw this recipe in my email a few weeks ago, I knew I had to come back to it soon for a cold night, homey rendition of polenta. I've been a fan of polenta for a few years now (How did I not know I liked it mushy sooner?*), but I usually just cook it until the water has absorbed, and I used a rough 2 or 3 to 1 ratio. What I a fool I was!

This recipe makes The. Best. Polenta. The key is to use WAY more water than polenta. The ratio is 8:1! Like my traditional recipe, You boil water, then slowly pour in polenta, whisking all the while. But then you lower the heat and get ready to cook for about an hour, stirring for a full minute once every 10 minutes. If it starts to get too thick or is sticking to your pan and that bothers you, add 1/2 cup more water. I'll write it again. This is the best polenta I've ever made. When it's done, just stir in a pat of butter or some grated parmesan or both or neither. Top with veggies on hand. One night we did kale, tomato, and honey nut squash (so cute mini butternuts!) with baby lima beans, another night we did spicy sausage.

*I know I grew up eating polenta. For some reason, my mother only served it to us in solid squares, broiled and served alongside veggies instead of my preferred bowl-style.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Pink Seed Cake

In case you couldn't tell, that cake is pink. Mr. Ripe bought my for my birthday a *beautifully* done cookbook. It's Nigel Slater's Tender. Now, Nigel Slater is British. So is his book, even though every now and then it seems the editor has the American in mind and says something like *this can be bought in the US...Those "tips" aside, the book is written like it's for sale in Britain. I don't know if this counts as "orientalizing" seeing as Britain is NOT part of the orient, but I feel a bit like I am committing an un-PC act of orientalizing when I say with perfectly good intentions in praise of this book that the language and style of the book are ADORABLE! I don't know how else to describe it, it's just that British charm, it's so...quaint? Charming?
In addition to the endearing prose, the premise of the book is recipes from produce from Slater's picturesque garden, and it's not only savory. On top of recipes for meat and veg (that I will certainly be trying out, especially during the upcoming colder months), Slater includes recipes and ideas forbaked items, such as this Beet Seed Cake. I try to always have a good selection of seeds on hand, so I was thrilled when I saw another good way to use them. I was very happy with the outcome of the cake, as seemed the guests I gifted it to at brunch a couple of weeks ago. Will be making again, maybe with a cream cheese frosting just for some spunk. The recipe is below; Slater also calls for raisins, but I omitted those because I'm not such a fan of raisins in my cake yet*. (*I'm working on it!)
Pink Seed Cake adapted only slightly from Nigel Slater's Beet Seed Cake
1 3/4 c whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 t baking soda
2 1/2 t baking powder
1 t salt
1/2 t cinnamon
3/4 c sunflower oil
1 c sugar
3 eggs, separated
2 raw beets, peeled and grated
juice of half a lemon
3/4 c mixed seeds (sunflower, pumpkin, flax)
Lemon glaze (1/2 c confectioners sugar mixed well with a couple Tablespoons lemon juice)
handful of poppy seeds

Preheat oven to 350. Lightly butter loaf pan and line bottom with parchment paper. Beat egg whites to form soft peaks. Set aside in clean bowl. Beat oil and sugar in stand mixer or by hand. Add egg yolks one at a time, beating in between each addition. Add beets, lemon juice, seeds. Stir to combine. Add flour, baking soda and powder, salt, and cinnamon. Mix well. Fold egg whites into batter using a large metal spoon or rubber/silicone spatula. (For tips on how to "fold in" see this video.) Pour batter into prepared pan and bake about 45 min, or until a toothpick or skewer inserted into the center comes out clean or slightly moist but not sticky. Cool cake on rack in pan until warm to the touch. Take out of pan and glaze, then sprinkle with poppy seeds. Let glaze set in fridge or on counter for at least 10 min before serving.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Happy New Year!

Though the lunar calendar can sometimes seem a little loony (Why is the Jewish new year in September, anyway??), I think it has almost always signified an actual new beginning for me. My birthday is the first week of September, and for the majority of the past 28 years, this time of year has always meant the beginning of something (school, or a new job) in addition to aging another year. This year, as I celebrated Rosh Hashana, the Jewish new year, I also found myself excited for another beginning: the reigniting of my love of bread baking!

Feeling ambitious, when my mother asked me to bring an apple cake for a Rosh Hashana meal because her oven was (GASP!) broken, I challenged myself to make a perfect challah, too. 

I had made challah in the past, but it just never came out so well that I wanted to do it again. I consulted a food blog idol of mine: Smitten Kitchen (how good!?). Deb had a few recipes for challah on her site, and as much as I thought the filled challahs looked beautiful and delicious, I really enjoy just plain challah. I don't like it with raisins, and I assumed I wouldn't like it with apples, even if the idea was fab for Rosh Hashana. I toiled all morning and by the time came to leave for the 'burbs, Honey Challah was ready!

This recipe turned out to be a real show-stopper. (It definitely made up for my sub-par apple cake, a recipe not to be provided her because it stank!!) I think I ate 6 pieces of this challah for breakfast the next day, just plain.
This recipe did the trick for me in terms of lighting my excitement to start baking bread again, something I eschew in summer months because of the heat. So Shana Tova, and may the fruits of this post inspire you to be creative this new year, too!

Honey Challah recipe, adapted from Smitten Kitchen

.6 oz cake/fresh yeast or 2 1/4 teaspoons dry yeast
3/4 c cool or tepid water (NOT HOT!!!)
1/3 c olive oil
1/3 c honey
2 eggs and 1 yolk
1 1/2 t salt
4 1/2 c bread flour
1 egg (for wash)

In the bowl of a stand mixer, crumble yeast into water. Stir and let sit a few minutes. Mix in oil, honey, and eggs. Attach dough hook and mix in flour and salt. Mix on medium speed, allowing the flour to incorporate and the dough to begin to climb up the hook. After 5 minutes, your dough should be ready. Place in a lightly oiled bowl and cover. Keep bowl in a dark, warm place, if possible, for about an hour. If your dough does not seem like it's rising (for example, if it's really cold in your apartment...), place bowl on the stove and turn the oven on a low heat just to give it a little certain warmth. Once dough has doubled in size, or stays depressed or rises very slowly when poked, punch it down, reshape into a ball, and allow to rise again, this time for 30 minutes.
At the end of the rise, shape the dough.
Divide dough into 4 sections. Make a 12" rope out of each one. Lay ropes on floured surface or on parchment paper. Lay 2 ropes parallel to each other. Weave remaining 2 more ropes so that they are parallel to each other, but perpendicular to and across or under the first two, making sort of a doubled plus sign (+). Every other limb of dough should be coming from under a piece of dough. Make these pieces lay over piece of dough to its right. Now have each newly covered limb lay over the limb directly to its left. Tuck edges under, and you should have a sort of round. Really, it may be best to consult Deb via the link provided in the title of this recipe, as she has photos and step-by-step instructions for shaping the challah.

 Brush or use your hands to wash your challah with 1 lightly beaten egg. Allow to rise 45 minutes. Preheat oven to 350. At end of last rise, wash challah with egg again. Bake for 30-40 minutes, depending on your oven*. I baked mine on parchment paper but I'm not sure this is necessary. Amazing.

*Also, I think you can freeze the bread once it's baked and just take it out of the freezer 5+ hours before you intend to eat it. 

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

This is the recipe below wrapped in empanada dough which, contrary to what some may have thought would happen, was wonderfully flaky despite being 1/3 whole wheat.

I borrowed from Deb, who is obviously amazing, at Smitten Kitchen.

If I had a restaurant this would be on the menu

I mean, because obviously if I had a restaurant we would serve brunch. It might just be a brunch restaurant (which is the evolved concept of the "foods I like" restaurant). Whether it is a brunch only restaurant or a restaurant that happens to serve brunch (and it would be on Saturdays and Sundays till 3, and maybe one extra day, just for those with alternative lifestyles who have Wednesdays off or Fridays or something like that...)

Well, if I did have that restaurant, we would definitely serve this. I never thought sweet potatoes were a favorite food. I know they're better for you than potatoes with white flesh, but I don't know, I just always associated yukon golds or other white/yellow potatoes with brunch. Or deliciousness. I admit it: I was wrong. Sweet potatoes or yams can offer as much or more yumminess than others. I found this out making pierogi filling for empanadas. You read that right. I wanted pierogi filling but empanada on the outside (it came out great, I'll post that recipe later). I ended up having maybe triple the amount of filling I needed for the dough recipe I made. So tonight, I had breakfast for dinner.

Sweet potato pierogi filling from the ReBar restaurant cookbook smashed down with a spatula in a buttered pan. With a poached egg on top. And some mushrooms and tomatoes on the side. If you don't believe that it is absolutely amazing, you must try it. Now.

Sweet potato pierogi hash
2.5 pounds sweet potatoes, roasted whole, with skins on until flesh is soft, then peeled
1 T butter
1 leeks, chopped
1/4 lb smoked gouda, grated
big pinch caraway seeds
salt and pepper to taste

Mash the sweet potatoes. Set aside. Saute leeks in butter until translucent. Add to potatoes. Add rest of ingredients and mix up. (You can use this as pierogi filling or empanada filling or ravioli filling or -) With spatula, smash about 1/2 c potato mixture into a buttered skillet. Cook on medium heat without flipping over for 3-4 minutes. Then flip and brown the other side.

Serve with eggs or just eat alone.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

A Welcome Home Treat!

Mr. Ripe had been away for 3 weeks and he returned tonight. While I was sure he'd have jet lag and not want to do much of anything, who can refuse berry cobbler upon an anticipated homecoming? I deliberated over what kind of treat to make all evening yesterday and morning today. I wanted to make use of some of the berries I froze after wild blueberry picking upstate a few weeks ago, and I wanted it to be good! (It's always so hard to choose what recipes I want to put special, limited time foods in - I feel this tension between wanting to save them for as long as possible and wanting to share them with everyone, not knowing exactly when the right moment to use them will come!)

So I settled on a triple-berry cobbler with strawberries and blueberries I picked and froze, and some raspberries from the store. And then I decided a warm berry dessert wouldn't be complete without some sort or ice cream, so I whipped up a batch of cinnamon gelato as a sidekick.

The recipe for the cobbler is below, adapted only slightly from a woman who really knows what she's doing.

5 c berries (I mixed 1 c tiny strawberries, 3 c raspberries, and 1 c blueberries)
3/4 c sugar
2 T cornstarch
1/4 t salt

1 c whole wheat pastry flour
3/4 c all-purpose flour
1 3/4 t baking powder
pinch salt
1/4 c sugar
6 T butter
3/4 c cream + more to brush top with

Preheat oven to 375. In a large bowl, combine filling ingredients and set aside. Although the topping can be made by hand, I did it in my food processor by combining the dry ingredients and then adding the butter and hitting Pulse until the mixture looked sandy with some pea-sized chunks of butter remaining. Then, through the top, pour in cream slowly, and Pulse just 5 or 6 times, until evenly distributed but still crumbly. (If making by hand, mix dry ingredients, then cut in butter until it looks the same, and add cream and mix with a fork.) Dump topping dough out onto a cutting board or clean surface and knead only a couple of times - you don't want it to warm up from your body heat! Now roll out or pat dough into a square about 1/4" thick. Cut into 9 squares. Place berries into a 9x9 baking dish and and layer cobbler dough on top - Some of my dough pieces overlapped. Bake for 1 hour, let cool (I know, but you must resist the temptation to dig in right away!), and enjoy with ice cream or alone. Perfect for dessert or breakfast!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Buttermilk Gelato

Aww yeah! A few years ago I had the best ice cream flavor I'd ever had at Ici in Berkeley, CA. Ici is one of those ice cream shops that changes its flavor rotation daily. For those of you who've never been or never heard of it, it's also the ice cream creation of a former Chez Panisse pastry chef (what culinary gem in the Bay Area is not run by Chez Panisse veterans?). Ici is one of those ice cream shops that makes me feel happy. The sweets are special, not just run-of-the-mill. A cone from here (homemade, with a dollop of chocolate in the bottom) is a perfect celebration for no good reason, or for any reason! Anyway, yes, back to the best flavor I had ever had: It was buttermilk!
And since the flavors changed so frequently, I never had it again. Once, and then never again! So sad. I've tried similar sounding flavors other places since then, but none has been as good.

I started making experimenting with making ice cream and gelato comfortably (read: just swingin it, no recipes or precise measurements needed) years ago. This summer has been the best frozen treat summer of my life! Here at 666, we've been churning out both fruity and creamy popsicles, flavors including chili lime mango, strawberry mint, lemonade, and bittersweet chocolate, as well as gelato. So far, we've made chamomile (from fresh flowers picked by invitation from an old kitchen friend), mint chocolate chip, and ... my long lost favorite !!! Buttermilk!

Here's my buttermilk recipe. It makes 1 quart. The key is to eat it within the first week of freezing it, because otherwise it gets pretty icey. You need an ice cream maker, too. I use this one, which is not too expensive an works very well for small-ish batch ice cream.

2 c whole milk
2 egg yolks
3/4 c sugar
2 T cornstarch
2 c buttermilk
juice from 1 1/2 lemons

In a medium saucepan, heat milk over medium heat. As it heats, whisk sugar and cornstarch in one bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk egg yolks. When milk is just about to boil, temper the egg yolks to raise their temperature by adding some of the hot milk to the yolks and mixing well. Add warm egg yolks to pot and stir rapidly. Continue stirring, and then add the sugar/cornstarch mix. It is important to whisk this well as you want as few clumps to form as possible. When the custard is beginning to boil, turn off and remove from heat. Whisk in the buttermilk and lemon juice. Pour through a sieve and cool to room temperature. Then cover and cool in fridge at least 3 hrs. When completely cool, Freeze in ice cream maker.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Summer Grain Salad

I'm on a real summer vacation. I have few obligations and the job I have lined up does not start until September. I didn't realize two things until I started to have all of this down time: that I was extremely busy until the end of June and that while I had been cooking and baking, I had been both doing it and enjoying it a lot less. That said, I've been cooking and baking almost every day. And this isn't a result of a conscious decision to do it more - I have just been drawn to it more. I find myself back in the swing of thinking about what to make for lunch or dinner, or what gelato to have ready for dessert.

Today I made what is a take on a grain salad I used to be a little obsessed with. When I first came across it in Diane Worthington's The New California Cook, I knew we were meant to be together (that is - me and the salad, specifically). Over the years, I've made it numerous times, always veering a little from the recipe Worthington provides. Today I made it with Freekah, which usually refers to roasted green (young) wheat berries, however my Freekah is made of spelt. I like Freekah because I think the roastedness makes it a bit smokey. Its deep, earthy flavor is the perfect base for a grain salad dressed with a lemony vinaigrette.

Freekah Salad
1 c freekah
2 c water
pinch salt
2 T scallions, diced
2 T parsley, chopped
2 T cilantro, chopped
1 carrot, diced
1 kirby cucumber, diced
1 bell or other sweet pepper, diced
handful green beans, chopped into 1" lengths
1/4 c sunflower seeds
1/4 c pumpkin seeds
1/3 lb feta or goat cheese, or a mix
1/2 c any vinaigrette, but my recipe - whisk together the following:
2 T red wine vinegar
3 T apple cider vinager
juice of half 1 lemon
1 t dijon mustard
pinch salt, pepper
2 T minced shallot
1 garlic clove, minced
2 T fresh herbs
1/2 c olive oil

Cook the freekah in the water with pinch of salt- simmer about 20 min. Water should be absorbed by then but if it's not, and the grain is done, just drain it. Let cool 10 min. Mix with the rest of the ingredients, toss cheese and vinaigrette in at end. Serve cold or at room temperature. Serves 4-6.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Spicy Greens Pesto

Some people don't like to cook in the summertime. I don't mind the act of cooking in the summer. I don't mind the heat of the kitchen, but it's more that I am just so hot I don't want to do anything at all! When I came home today and I was hungry, I just wanted something to materialize in front of me. Even the act of really chewing seemed too great a task! So I threw some basic ingredients into the food processor: Spicy greens (arugula, mustard, dandelion...), a garlic clove, toasted pine nuts, parmesan, olive oil, salt, lemon juice, black pepper... and hit the ON switch. And out came pesto!
I lathered it atop Hot Bread Kitchen sourdough batard (omg new favorite), along with seared zucchini and chopped fresh herbs. Dinner for the lazy is served.
Greens Pesto (makes about 1 c)
1 garlic clove
3 c greens of your choice, raw or steamed to wilted
1/4 c toasted pine nuts
1/4 c grated parmesan
almost 1/4 c olive oil
juice of half a lemon
salt and pepper to taste

Whiz ingredients in food processor. Eat atop whole wheat pasta or toasted bread of choice.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Monday, June 4, 2012

At last.

(I guess I have been busy.) After not posting for a very long time, and just not really doing good upkeep on the blog this year, in general, I felt the urge tonight to share some really delicious chewy oatmeal cookies I concocted out of a craving for the very morsels. These are oatmeal-chocolate chip-pumpkin seed-raisin cookies. Cookies with oats are my favorite. I always think oats make chocolate chip cookies better. There is something just so homey about oats. And oats and chocolate? I remember making cookies similar to these years ago at my parents' house, and my mother remarked critically about them - something like, "Do you really need to put chocolate chips in everything?" Excuse me, yes. I do. Oats and chocolate in a cookie, plus some sort of chewy dried fruit? Amazing. Heaven. It's really all I need.

Chocolate chip oat raisin seed cookies
1/2 c whole wheat flour
1/2 c all purpose flour
1/2 t baking soda
1/2 t cinnamon
1/4 t salt
1 stick butter, softened
3/4 c sugar
2 T molasses
2 T vegetable oil
1 t vanilla extract
1 egg
3/4 c chocolate chips
1/2 c pumpkin seeds
1 c oats
1/2 c raisins

In a medium bowl, mix dry ingredients. In electric mixer, cream butter and sugar. Add molasses and oil. Beat until well incorporated, then beat in vanilla and egg. Mix in dry premixed ingredients. Finally, add chocolate, oats, pumpkin seeds, and raisins. Spoon by the tablespoonful onto an ungreased baking sheet, and bake 10-12 min on 350. Lick the bowl. Cool on ready cookies on rack. Dig in.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Vegetable Miso Soup

I bought white miso paste a year ago. I probably used it once, and then pushed it to the back of my fridge, never to focus on it again. Until tonight, when I decided to actualize a plan I hatched in between dozes on the 4 train home. I decided that for dinner, I needed something brothy, but I didn't feel like buying a chicken, and plain old vegetable or tomato soup is a good standby, but not always exactly what I need. Miso soup was the perfect option!

I'm not even going to try to say this soup was remotely Japanese. I don't know how to cook Japanese food, and I didn't try tonight.

But miso is pretty versatile, it turns out. It lent just enough complexity to make this soup not boring, and it was really pretty, too (and if you know me, you know pretty food is not my typical aim nor strong point).

Here is the recipe - it is SO easy, and if you've never used miso before, this is a good one to try.

makes enough for 4 big bowl servings
1 T olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 carrot, diced
1/2 c chickpeas that have been soaked overnight (or 3/4 c cooked chickpeas)
4 c stock or water
2 c chopped chard 
3 T miso paste

In a medium saucepan, heat olive oil on medium heat. Add onion and cook until translucent. Add carrot, chickpeas and water, bring to a boil and lower heat, cover, and simmer 20 min. Add chard, cover pot again, and cook 10 min, simmering. Remove lid, stir in miso paste - you may have to use the back of a spoon against the saucepan to get it to dissolve. Simmer another 5 min. Serve.

Monday, April 23, 2012

How to procrastinate productively

When I have a real job, when I'm done with graduate school, will I still be able to procrastinate this well? Will I still bake up a storm, procrastinating from doing whatever it is I should really be doing? Gosh, I hope so.
Why is it that my creative juices get flowing, along with an immense determination to see (and taste) actual finished results of my culinary thoughts and efforts, when I should really be doing schoolwork? It's like the pressure of having work to do serves as a catalyst for my culinary creativity! I know that sounds really cheesy but it's completely honest.

Today I had car troubles which prevented me from being where I really had to be. So I told myself I would have to do this 5-page outline for my competency exam instead, seeing as it would be my last full day to work on it before it is due. As I churned through the freaking outline, all I could think of (and almost taste) was assembling in my mind the menu of what I would make for dinner. All day, I just thought about how delicious this spinach-lima bean soup would be, sprinkled with feta and sopped up with homemade sourdough whole wheat bread, fresh from the oven. I thought about variations of the soup (should I add some sweet potatoes? that would change things... would it be better with Cotija cheese?). Literally all day I paced between my chair where the computer and my work was situated and the kitchen, baking bread, making soup. Every 15 min or so, up from my desk and into the kitchen, then back to the desk and type-typing.

Well, after 6 hours of this, really, I have 4 1/4 pages of a to-be 5 page outline, and spinach-lima bean soup with fresh bread. Not bad! Also, let me know if you want the bread recipe - I'm only reluctant to post it because I use sourdough which a lot of people don't have, and not only that, but I typically don't measure, so it wouldn't be exact. But I can try for you if you want! So let me know!

Here's the soup:
1 1/2 c lima beans
2 c stock or water
4 c water
1 red onion, chopped
1 yellow onion, chopped
1 bay leaf
salt and pepper to taste
1 bunch (or 2-3 c packed) fresh spinach, washed and chopped (you can also use any good, dark, leafy green)
feta cheese

Soak the lima beans for 2 hrs. Drain them. Put beans, liquids, onions, bay leaf in medium saucepan. Bring to boil, then lower temp and cover, allowing to simmer, about 1 hr or until beans are creamy. When beans are done, remove bay leaf and turn off heat. You may puree all or part with an immersion blender, or you can leave it more brothy, with the beans whole. I like to puree some, leave some beans whole. Season with salt and pepper, and bring up to a boil again. Add the spinach, and cover pot, simmering about 5-10 min, until spinach wilts. Garnish with feta.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Spring Pie!

I had been longing to make this savory pie since I saw the recipe here, but just didn't have the right occasion. And then spring came this year (judging by flowering trees, not the weather, because the weather here in NY has been less than seasonal!), and I had some friends over for a welcoming of true spring dinner, and I thought this pie would be just the thing to serve as a main course.

Traditionally, this is known as an Easter pie, or a Torta Pasqualina. Now, you know I'm not a native Easter celebrator (I'm Jewish), but I am a celebrator of seasons and of the overlap of Judeo-Christian holidays. I love that both Passover and Easter traditions celebrate the spring time. Both use eggs and greens ceremoniously, and I can't get enough of that - I love it for the symbolism, and for the culinary implications! This pie is so special, though, because you crack whole eggs into it before baking, and then when you slice and serve it, wedges will have cross sections of whole baked eggs in their pie! What a pleasant surprise!

This recipe uses an olive oil crust that you will find to be a pleasure to work with, especially for those of you who have become flustered with handling delicate butter pastry dough. I will definitely make this again - it was a huge success and I think all of my guests were excited to enjoy it with the meal.

Here's what you will need:
1 red onion, sliced
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 bunch spinach, washed well and chopped
1 bunch kale, washed and chopped, stems discarded
1 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 1/2 c part-skim ricotta cheese
1 1/2 c cottage cheese
3 T fresh marjoram
1 egg
salt and pepper to taste
4 eggs + 1 for egg wash

  • 4 c flour
  • 1 c olive oil
  • 1 T salt
  • 3/4 c ice water (or more if needed)

Preheat oven to 375. In a large pan, saute olive oil and onion. Add greens, salt, pepper and cook until greens are wilted, about 10 min. Set aside to cool. When cool enough to handle, pick up bunches of greens mixture and wring out excess liquid. Set aside.
In large bowl, combine cheeses, herbs, 1 whole egg, and then add greens.

To make dough, put all ingredients in a food processor. Pulse until soft crumbly dough forms. Dump crumbly dough onto plastic wrap, form into a ball or a disk, and then refrigerate for 15-20 min. The fridge is not absolutely necessary, but I think it makes it easier to work with the dough if it is a little cooler than room temperature, because the olive oil makes it really soft to begin with.

To assemble the spring pie, divide the crust in half. Roll out one disk to about 1/4" thick, and place it in pie dish so that the edges fall over the edges of the dish. Now pour the spinach-cheese mixture into the crust. Smooth the top of the cheesy filling, and then make 4 golf ball - sized indentations in the filling. Crack 1 whole egg into each indentation. Roll out rest of dough for top crust, place on top, and seal edges with bottom crust. (If you are fancy, you can make this part look nicer than I did.) With remaining egg, beat and then brush (or use your fingers) to spread egg wash on top of crust. This will help it brown beautifully. Bake for 1 hour, or until wonderfully golden brown.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Red Lentil Soup

Lentils are pretty versatile little things. Former Obies may joke about lentils because we kind of overdosed on them in coops, but this isn't a soup I ever ate at a coop. (I also wouldn't be surprised to find it being served for dinner or lunch in a coop, seasoning and texture slightly off, served atop rice and called "slop", but still.)

Over the weekend I remarked to Mr. Ripe that I have been spending too much money on food. He knows I enjoy shopping for food more than I have ever enjoyed shopping for anything else, including shoes, clothes, and cookbooks. I told him that for dinner on this Monday evening, we'd be having leftovers, in an effort to not strain myself or my wallet. But I just. Could. Not. Contain Myself!!!
I guess I thought, well, if I eat leftovers for dinner, what will I bring for lunch tomorrow? And then I will have to cook after a long day tomorrow, when I have no energy, because all of the leftovers have been eaten! So I rationalized that I needed to cook, even if the end result was only a transformation of items from my cupboard (lentils, last season's canned tomatoes...) that I could easily have made tomorrow instead.
I consulted Moosewood, which I sometimes don't like to cook straight out of because it makes me feel like a hippie or, even worse, like my mother. But for tonight's coop soup, I had a feeling Moosewood would come through and be just what I needed.
Red Lentil Soup adapted from Moosewood Restaurant Cooks at Home
1 1/2 c red lentils, rinsed
1/2 c yellow split peas
7 c water
4 bay leaves
5 cloves garlic, diced
2 grated carrots
3/4 c diced tomatoes (I used my canned tomatoes from last summer, but fresh or any canned tomatoes will do)
 2 T olive oil
1 yellow onion, diced
1/2 red onion, diced
2 t cumin
2 t coriander (ground)
1/2 t cayenne pepper

salt and pepper to taste

In a large saucepan, combine lentils, peas, water, bay leaves and garlic. Set on medium heat and bring to boil. Prepare carrots and tomatoes, and add to pot. When contents are boiling, lower heat, and simmer 30-40 min, until all beans are soft. While soup simmers, start on the onions. In a saute pan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onions and, once translucent, add the spices. Cook on medium heat, adding oil to prevent sticking if necessary, until onions are starting to turn brown. When soup is almost done, add the onions to the pot, and stir well. The color will completely change due to those intense spices the onions were sauteed in. Delicious! Season with salt and pepper to taste, and serve with a squeeze of lemon, plain yogurt, and/or some chopped parsley.


Saturday, March 17, 2012

Hopefully back, to stay

I'm not even going to make excuses or explain myself. The point is, I'm back at blogging, and hopefully it will last. I will admit, I've never before had a "gadget" that has made me feel cool. That changed yesterday when I upgraded to a new iphone. Honestly, even with my old phone that could barely make phone calls without freezing or shutting down completely, I did not understand the hype about a fast, able-to-do-everything phone. And now I have seen the light. I see the light. And I think it's going to make blogging a heck of a lot easier, since the camera on this thing is rad!

I'll start small with my reentry to the blogosphere. Tonight's dinner was inspired by a feeling of self-initiated competition with a friend who notoriously eats almost every meal out and never cooks. When I asked if she'd like to join Mr. Ripe and me out for dinner, she informed me she is trying to "save money" and would tonight be dining in, cooking. After this exchange, I had a surge of determination to not go out, either.

On Thursday, I made delicious lentils as a side dish for our meal, but they were barely touched with everything else on the plate. Same with the brown rice. I leafed through several vegetarian cook books, and finally felt ready to attack dinner: Salad bar! With lentils and rice as a base. You can really make salad supper with any veggies and protein in your fridge; I went with lentils and hard boiled eggs as my protein, and slivered celery, grated carrots, red onion, avocado, cukes, and marinated artichoke hearts as my veggies. Then I whipped up a simple vinaigrette - dijon mustard, red wine vin., balsamic, olive oil and salt and pepper. Tossed together with the rice, and this salad was a meal in itself.
It's easy, requires minimal prep, and everyone in the house can make their own in their own bowl, adding as much or as little of each ingredient and dressing as they wish. And now I feel like a winner.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Not-so-Asian chicken salad

This is just another instance of me being crazy. Coming home hungry, and deciding to "make dinner". Not from a box or the freezer, but as in open and marinate chicken, soak rice noodles, do pilates, and then cook. And scarf down meal.
As far as cooking elaborate meals when hungry, this meal was less crazy than other ones I've done. Only an hour and a half from start to in my belly (I know a lot of people think that's a long time, but guys, come on, if you want good food that is not crap, you need to commit some time and/or effort into it!)

I will admit, however, that as much as I love using soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, and sesame oil, there is always something missing. I need to take a class on "Asian" cooking, I think. That might be my only hope. That said, this salad is a pretty great Americany Asian-flavor inspired salad. You just have to be willing to stick your finger into marinades and dressings to taste them as you go, or you never know what you'll end up with. I didn't have any on hand, but I think crushed peanuts would make this better. Or lime wedges. Or fish sauce.

Here's what you need for 2-3 servings:
12 oz rice noodles
1 1/2 T grated ginger
1 1/2 T minced garlic
juice of one lemon or lime
4 T toasted sesame oil
1/4 c soy or tamari, low sodium or whatever you like
3 T rice wine vinegar (I use brown)
salt and pepper to taste, if needed
3 chicken breast halves, boneless, skinless
1 T honey
about half a head of romaine
1-2 grated carrots
2 sticks celery, diced, and any other veggies you think may be good raw in this

Step 1: Soak rice noodles in warm water 30 min. When done, drain.
Step 2: Marinate chicken 30 min-1 hr in:
  • 2 T soy
  • 1 T sesame oil
  • 1/2 T garlic
  • 1 T ginger
  • lemon juice
  • 1 T rice wine vinegar
Step 3: Make salad dressing/noodle cooking sauce - mix and set aside until ready to use:
  • remaining ginger, garlic, soy, sesame oil, vinegar
  • honey
Step 4: Cook chicken - set oven for 375, on broil, with oven rack close to heat (about 3 inches away if possible). I set my chicken in a cast iron pan with a little olive oil. Broil each side for about 5 min, or until it's done in the middle.
Step 4a: Cook Noodles - throw in a pan with a splash of sesame oil on medium heat. After a few moments of sizzling, add dressing. 

Step 5: Assemble! Cut chicken into strips. Toss with veggies, noodles and their sauce. Eat it.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

...and we're back!

Seriously, I think it would be fair to say I have been busier in the past six months than I've ever been in my entire life. Between managing weird health, applying for psych positions for next year, adapting to Mr. Ripe being gone on tour, or actually going out on weeknights when he's around, there's been a lot going on!
This month alone, I've only had enough energy to cook soups - low maintenance, easy bean and greens soups, that have been filling as meals on their own or with bread, and that I've taken for lunch nearly every day of the week. The rest of the things I've eaten have been lazy things like cereal and milk, or frozen pizza from trader joe's!!
Anyway, I guess being so busy I like to take on slower, longer term projects. Pickles, kombucha...and last week I started a sourdough starter. The first batch of 666sourdough bread is in the oven now. I used a no-knead method, see below. If you don't HAVE a sourdough starter, you can make one using the method here, or you can just substitute half a cup of flour and 1 t yeast and do the basic no knead method described below -

1 c starter
1 c whole wheat bread flour
2 c all purpose flour
2 t salt
1 c water

Mix it all together in a medium to big size bowl, make sure texture is "shaggy". If your starter is kind of thick, you may need to add more water. If it's all soft and like a batter, you need more flour. You get the idea, you want an in between shaggy wet/dry consistency (man, that sounds confusing. I'll post a picture next week when I bake another loaf so you know what I mean, ok?). Cover bowl loosely with plastic wrap and set aside for 24 hours.
Dump risen dough out onto bran- or flour-sprinkled countertop or cutting board. Fold over twice. Sprinkle with bran or flour. Cover with a dish towel. Let rise for 2 hours.
When 30 minutes are left in the rise time, put a heavy pot (I use a dutch oven) in the oven and preheat to 450 degrees.
When the 2 hour rise time is up, put the dough into the pot in the oven. Cover and bake for 15 min. Uncover and cook for another 20 min or so. Remove from oven, let cool on rack.
Cut the bread ONLY when it's cool, otherwise it will dry out.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Weeknight polenta

Even when I'm too busy (notice how posts stop just as internship interviews start!!!), I find myself in the kitchen. I come home, hungry or not, and even though I'm exhausted, I need to cook something. I have this mental block that keeps me resisting take out, even when I have the cash for it, and it's late, and I'm in need of nourishment. It is irrational. I know. I don't need to be told. I just can't help it!

Also, since Mr. Ripe has my camera while he's off traveling the world, and I am once again cameraless, making me a bit embarrassed to post what has been turned out of my kitchen. But I finally cracked, feeling bad about neglecting the blog, which is supposed to offer me some sort of balance or comfort while I hit the grindstone in the psych world.

Two nights ago I thought I was cooking for two. It was a good thing my guest was too tired to show, because it turned out this polenta recipe was so creamy, so just what I needed when I was cooking too late at night, that there would not have been enough for what I wanted to eat and an extra for said friend to have a meal, too.

That said, this recipe makes enough for one very hungry person and half of a regular person, or two smallish appetite people. If you need more, double or triple it. As for what to eat it with, I topped mine with Russian Kale and button mushrooms sauteed in oil with garlic and red chili flakes, with a squeeze of lemon. Then I placed a perfectly soft boiled egg on it all, broke it open, and dug in.

Creamy Polenta Recipe
1 T olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1 t crushed red pepper
3/4 c water
3/4 c milk
1 t salt
black pepper
1/2 c cornmeal

In a medium saucepan, heat oil over medium heat. Saute garlic and crushed red pepper. When fragrant but not brown, add liquids. Bring to boil and reduce to simmer. Whisk in cornmeal. When no lumps exist, switch to a wooden spoon, and stir occasionally, until polenta becomes thicker, or for 15-20 minutes. Top with your favorite veggies or even just tomato sauce. And soft cooked eggs make everything better...