Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Salmon en Papillote with Orange and Fennel

We had this a few nights alternative to the first salmon en papillote I made. It's an infinitely variable recipe.

Salmon en Papillote with Orange and Fennel:

amounts are for each individual packet

olive oil
1 ea 5 – 6 oz salmon fillet section
1/4 of a fennel bulb, core removed, sliced very thin
thinly sliced shallot
3 thin slices of fresh orange
~1 Tbs fresh orange juice
~1-2 tsp dry vermouth (or white wine)
2 sprigs fresh thyme
1 1/2 tsp unsalted butter (could use less, or sub with olive oil)
ground black pepper
fennel fronds

Heat oven to 375F with baking sheet inside. Prepare parchment by folding a long sheet in half crosswise and scissor out a piece that looks like half a heart or, when you unfold it, a valentine. As the food inside cooks, the fat top will puff perfectly while the skinny end captures the juices.

Mix juice with the white wine.

Dab on a little olive oil in the center of one half of the parchment. Position a pile of fennel on the oiled section and then lay the salmon on top. Sprinkle well with salt and pepper. Dot with pieces of butter and top with a few thin slices of shallot. Place thyme on salmon and layer orange slices on top. Sprinkle fennel fronds on top of orange. Starting at the top of the heart, fold edges of parchment, sealing edges securely with narrow folds leaving a small opening at the pointed end. Use a stapler if the paper seems to be coming undone.

When ready to cook, pour vermouth and orange juice mixture into the opening in the parchment then twist the end tip to secure tightly. Place bundle on a baking sheet and cook for 11 -12 minutes. Serves 1.

I took the salmon out of the packet and served over brown rice this time. Or, just eat it out of the packet.

Steamed Asparagus with Tarragon Shallot Vinaigrette:

Since I'd cut into the shallot and had plenty left over, I decided to use it in a simple vinaigrette for the asparagus. We have tarragon growing on our deck, and I thought it would complement the fennel in the salmon. I really think the asparagus was my favorite part of the meal. :-)

minced shallot
fresh chopped tarragon
a little whole grain mustard
white wine vinegar (I used a Pinot Grigio vinegar that was really nice)
salt and black pepper
a dab of agave nectar
not too much olive oil...just enough to emulsify everything and mellow the dressing a bit.

There aren't any amounts given, but you don't need to make too much for one bundle of asparagus, steamed.
While your asparagus is steaming, mix the shallot through the agave, then add oil slowly while stirring to emulsify.
Toss whole warm asparagus spears in dressing to coat.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Mediterranean Tuna Salad Sandwiches on Rosemary Foccacia Bread

I served this great sammie with a simple green salad for our dinner tonight. I think it would be equally good made with chicken in lieu of the tuna fish.

Mediterranean Tuna Salad:

The original recipe from the Whole Foods Cookbook calls for 24 oz of tuna...I scaled the recipe back for us to have dinner tonight and lunch tomorrow. Just use whatever amount of any of the ingredients you like. It's all subjective to taste anyhow.

* 18 oz chunk light tuna in water, drained well
* the better part of a can of quartered artichoke hearts, drained
* 1/3-1/2 cup chopped roasted red or Piquillo peppers
* ~1/2 cup sliced Greek olives
* ~2-3 Tbs red onion, finely minced
* 2-3 Tbs fresh Italian parsley, minced
* 1/4 cup fresh basil, minced
* 1 large clove garlic, minced
* mayonnaise to your taste (I used about 1/4-1/3 cup)
* 2 tablespoons lemon juice
* freshly ground pepper, to taste

In a large bowl, combine the tuna, artichoke hearts, red pepper, olives, onion, parsley, basil, garlic, mayonnaise, lemon juice, and pepper. Mix all the ingredients together well. Serve on bread, atop a green salad or in lettuce cups.

Spelt Focaccia:

This is moist and delicious with a nice tender crumb. Easy peasy too! This from a chickie that has no idea how to make bread. :-)
The original recipe was found on Cook Anything's blog. Check there for much lovelier photos of this foccacia.

300 grams wholegrain spelt flour (sorry...I don't have a cup measure on this)
1 teaspoon Sucanat (or sugar)
½ teaspoon fine sea salt
2 teaspoons dry yeast
1 cup warm water
1 tablespoon olive oil
extra virgin olive oil
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
fresh rosemary
garlic powder
red pepper flakes
grated Parmesan

To make the Topping:
Strip the rosemary from the stalk and place in a small bowl with red pepper flakes to taste, about 1-2 Tbs grated Parm., a shake of garlic powder and fresh ground black pepper. Add about 2 Tbs extra virgin olive oil and mix.

To make the Focaccia:
In a large bowl, sift in the flour, yeast, salt and sugar. Make a little well in the center and slowly incorporate the water and 1 tablespoon of olive oil. You want the mixture to come together and lose most of it's stickiness (but honestly, mine stayed pretty sticky). Transfer to a spelt floured board and knead very briefly (10-20 seconds at most) to form a smooth ball. Place this in an oiled bowl and rub more oil on the top of the dough. Cover with plastic wrap - leave in a warm place to double in size (took about 30-40 min). Just a quick note...see all those little holes in the surface of the foccacia? Not the dimples, but the wee holes. I think I let it rise a little too long on the sheet before getting it into the oven, but it really didn't make a lick of difference in the quality of the bread. It was way better this time in fact than the last time I made it.

When doubled, place on a parchment paper lined baking sheet and using your hands push the dough to form a rough oblong shape (I made more of a rectangle this time, but the oblong is good for dipping in soups). Put this on a tray, dimple the surface with your fingertips then cover the top evenly with the rosemary topping. Place this in a warm place to rise again, covered with plastic for about 30-45 minutes. Make sure the dough is well oiled by the topping before covering with plastic, so it doesn't stick and deflate your dough.

Preheat the oven to 400 - sprinkle the bread with kosher salt and cook for 20-25 minutes (I took mine out at 18 and it was perfect...I spread it out a little thinner than usual though) or until the bread is golden and feels cooked through.

Cool on a wire rack.

If you made a thicker foccacia, you can slice it in half for sammies, or if you made it thinner, just use one layer per side of your sammie. This was so delicious!

Friday, April 25, 2008

Italian Sausage Pizza

Sorry I haven't posted in the last few days. We've been eating out of the freezer, so nothing new. Last night I thawed a whole wheat cornmeal dough ball left from making the Ginger BBQ Pizza and the remaining Italian sausage from the stuffed acorn squash to make an Italian sausage pizza.

I didn't allow the dough enough time to come to room temp and rise properly though. Hence, our wee yeasty friends were a mite sluggish. I'll just say that it was no great loss, we just had more of a (dense) cracker crust this time round. If you're thawing out dough, make sure to let it sit on your counter for a gooooood while. Even though it had completely thawed in the fridge overnight, two hours on the counter still wasn't even close to being enough time.

I made a pizza sauce using no-salt added diced tomatoes (liquid and all), a dash of garlic and onion powder, a pinch of Italian herbs (or herbes de Provence), a pinch of red pepper flakes, a dash of Worcestershire sauce and a smidge of agave nectar. Cooked down and then buzzed with a stick blender in the pot to make a nice thick sauce. I will add that I'd originally started with a can of Italian herbage-afied tomato sauce and regular tomato paste. This mixture was sooooo salty I could hardly taste any tomato! I could only imagine how bad it would be after cooking it down further. I dumped almost all of it out of the pot and then started again, retaining ~1/4+ cup of the original mixture, then adding the other ingredients from above.
Much better! I like to keep no-salt added tomato products in my pantry so that I can better control the amount of salt going into our dishes. I like salt, but when you're also adding pancetta, Parm, canned beans, etc. to a dish it tends to get too salty for my tastes.

The rest of the pizza consisted of 1 1/2 links of Italian turkey sausage (probably about 8 oz., squeezed from the casing and cooked up in a skillet with a little olive oil), sliced Mozzerella cheese, and thinly sliced red onion. I topped the whole pizza with freshly grated Parmesan after it came out of the oven.

I'd waited too long already for the dough to warm/rise (read: erin's blood sugar was dropping and she was getting pissed off) that we were so hungry by the time the pizza was done, we devoured the whole thing with no green salad in sight. I ate way more than I should of and had the tummy ache to prove it. Although, The Monster will contend it had more to do with the bag of carob chips I polished off post-pizza, while anxiously watching a Survivor challenge. ;-)

Monday, April 21, 2008

Jicama, Red Cabbage and Red Pepper Slaw

When The Monster and I were coming home from running errands this weekend, I noticed a fruit seller on the side of the road. More importantly, I noticed that he had some really nice looking jicama! So, off we pulled and I found a lovely one with our name on it. I haven't bought a jicama in ages, but one of my favorite snacks as a kid was sliced jicama doused in lime, chili powder and cilantro. I had a slaw planned for sometime this week so had a the red cabbage in the fridge for that, the red peppers sounded like a good thing to toss in, and the dressing...that was going to have to have lime juice, chili powder and cilantro. It looks like it will be delicious with our leftover amended stuffed acorn squash from last night.

Jicama, Red Cabbage and Red Pepper Slaw:

~1/2 large jicama, peeled and sliced however you want
red cabbage, sliced thinly
most of a red pepper, sliced
~1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
a couple green onions

juice of 2-3 limes
a good shaking of chili powder (really just to your tastes)
a good pinch of kosher salt
fresh ground black pepper
a couple squeezes of agave nectar (or honey)
a wee bit of light olive oil

Slice all your veggies, make the dressing and combine the two. Toss until combined and then let it sit in the fridge for about an gets better if it sits even longer. I ate the rest of the slaw with added chickpeas and baby spinach for lunch the next day. Oh, and added a shot of Tabasco sauce too!

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Acorn Squash with Brown Rice and Turkey Sausage

We liked this dish, but found that it was a little too healthy! It really needed a little more moisture, and just a touch of cheese. I'd already added some butter to the original version and cooked my rice in vegetable broth, but found it still needed something. Since we had 4 halves and only ate 2 tonight, I removed the filling from the remaining 2 and added some grated Parmesan and some chicken broth. I restuffed the shells and we'll see how it works out tomorrow night when we have the leftovers. I've rewritten the recipe accordingly.
We had a lovely arugula salad with this tonight.

Update: This was soooo much better with added broth and a little Parmesan the second night we had it. A keeper as rewritten.

Acorn Squash with Brown Rice and Turkey Sausage:
(Adapted from Good Housekeeping via Cullinary in the Desert)

2 acorn squash, each cut lengthwise.
1 tablespoon olive oil
8 ounces hot Italian turkey sausage, casings removed
1/2 cup chopped onion
3/4 cup chopped red bell pepper
1-2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
2 cups cooked brown (cooked in chicken broth or vegetable broth)
2 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
2 Tbs butter
~1/4+ cup coarsely grated Parmesan cheese
~1/3-1/2 cup chicken or veggie broth (enough to make the stuffing mixture looser and moist)
Preheat oven to 400.
Halve the squash lengthwise and place cut side down in a baking dish. Fill the dish with ~1/4" of water and place in oven for ~25-30 minutes. When fork tender remove from water and scoop out the seeds.

When cool enough to handle scoop out the squash leaving 1/4" of flesh in the shell. Place scooped out squash in a bowl and mash with the butter. Add the cooked rice to the squash and add ~1/3-1/2 cup of broth, the Parmesan cheese and the parsley, mixing to combine.

Preheat oven to 375

In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high. Add sausage and cook, stirring to break up the sausage, until browned. Remove the sausage adding to squash mixture bowl. In the same skillet, reduce heat to medium and add the onions, red bell pepper, garlic, salt and black pepper. Cook until tender, about 6 minutes. Remove from the heat and add to the squash mixture. Mix all until well combined.

Evenly divide the sausage mixture between the squash shells. Place on a large baking sheet lined with foil and bake until thoroughly warmed through, about 20 minutes.

Makes 4 servings.

Cocoa Nectar Bars

I've recently become addicted to the Clif Cocoa Nectar bars...a yummy no-sugar added, 5 organic ingredient energy bar. In reading the ingredient list, I began to wonder if I could make a facsimile of the bar myself. Today was my first attempt. I'll go ahead and type up the recipe I used today but it will definitely be tweaked next time around. The texture still isn't right, and I think that it might be improved if I had less sticky dates. A dehydrator would probably do the trick, but I don't think that's an investment I'm going to make anytime soon. I overcompensated for the sticky dates by adding more cocoa powder. Fun to play around with this in any case.
I ended up with a fairly healthy bar about the consistency of chocolate fudge. Really good if you need a chocolate fix!
I used whole organic Medjool dates. This info was copied from a web site..."Medjool are large, deep-red coloured dates, usually from Jordan or California. They're expensive but worth it for their delicious toffee-like taste. You can buy clusters of dates still on the stem or packaged in boxes - stoned or with the stones still in. Buy stone-in dates for the best flavour."
They were really yummy. Think I'm gonna have to go eat another 1/2 bar. ;-)

Update: I really don't think I'll have to change a thing about this recipe next time I make them.
They set up to a really nice consistency just wrapped in the parchment, then stored in ziplock bags.

Cocoa Nectar Bars...first attempt:
Made 8 bars after the stuff I ate in taste testing.

1 cup organic dates, pitted
2 squares of Ghiradelli (they're smaller than a regular bar of baker's choc.) unsweetened baker's chocolate, melted (I nuked it for about 30 seconds)
5-6 Tbs high quality unsweetened cocoa powder (I used was over 4 bucks for .29 lb in the bulk section, but soooo worth it)
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
~1/3 cup walnuts, divided (I ground some as fine as I could then left some chunky)

Combine the dates, ~4 Tbs cocoa powder, vanilla and ground walnuts in a food processor and pulse until all ingredients are as mixed as they can get. It'll turn into a big wad eventually. Add the melted chocolate and try to blend further.
Remove the "dough" to a piece of parchment. Knead in the remaining cocoa powder and the chunkier walnut pieces, until the mixture is well homogenized.
Shape the dough into a long roll, that is about 3/4 inch thick . Cut into ~4" lengths and then shape into bars.
Wrap individually in parchment paper, and then keep them in a ziplock bag.

Oatmeal Pancakes with Crystallized Ginger

For our pancakes today I made a strawberry-rhubarb topping and thought it might be fun to add a little crystalized ginger to the cakes. T'was good so I thought I'd just reprint the oatmeal pancake recipe with a few changes.

Oatmeal Pancakes with Crystallized Ginger:

1 cup oats (the regular kind - Old Fashioned or Quick, not steel-cut and not instant)
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
1 whole egg and 1 egg white, well beaten (use 3 whole eggs if doubling)
1 tsp pure vanilla
1/4 cup white whole wheat flour, or spelt flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
~1/4+ tsp cinnamon
2 tsp Sucanat
1/4 tsp fine sea salt
1 1/2 teaspoons canola oil
1-2 Tbs diced crystalized ginger
Optional: walnuts to top finished pancakes

Put oats into a large bowl, add the buttermilk. Let the oats soak in the buttermilk overnight.

Set oven to 200 degrees and put a plate covered with foil in to warm.

Mix in the eggs, flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon,, vanilla and canola oil.
Then proceed as with any pancake recipe. Heat a flat iron surface - griddle or large pan - to medium heat. If you need butter, use it. Ladle the pancake batter onto the griddle to the desired size, usually about 5 or 6 inches wide (a 1/4 cup measure is a nice amount). When air bubbles start to bubble up to the surface at the center of the pancakes (about 2-3 minutes), use a flat spatula to flip them over. After a minute, peak under one for doneness. When golden or darker golden brown, they are done. Serve immediately or keep warm in the oven until ready to serve.

The monster got the last wee pancake, so I took a quick shot before he scarfed it up.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Morrocan Chicken Pot Pie

For this Moroccan(ish) chickie pot pie, I doubled the spices, adding turmeric, cayenne pepper and some more veggies (carrots, green peas and chickpeas) to the original recipe I found on Epicurious. It'd be good with some diced potato in it too. Just make sure you have enough room in your 9" pie pan for the amendments. The dough recipe I used was really good and leaves us with another piece for the freezer. Next time I'm going to make individual pot pies, just cause they're fun.
I served this with some nice steamed broccoli sprinkled with lemon juice...and fought the urge to make another strawberry crisp for dessert.

Moroccan Chicken Pot Pie:
Adapted from Bon Appetit

1 1/2 pounds skinless boneless natural or organic chicken breast halves, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 tsp paprika
~2 tsp ground cumin
1/4-1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/4-1/2 tsp ground cayenne pepper
1 lemon
3 tablespoons butter
1 large onion, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1/2 cup organic baby carrots cut in half, or just coarsely chopped
3/4-1 cup imported green olives, pitted, then coarsely chopped
1/3 cup golden raisins
~1/2 cup canned chickpeas, rinsed
~1/2 cup frozen green peas
2 tablespoons all purpose flour
1 cup low-salt chicken broth (mine only had ~50mg salt per carton serving)
1 refrigerated pie crust (half of 15-ounce package) or, half of buttermilk pie crust recipe.

Preheat oven to 425°F. Mix chicken cubes with paprika, cumin, and cinnamon in large bowl to coat. Sprinkle chicken generously with salt and pepper. Cut lemon in half; remove seeds. Using small spoon, scoop out enough pulp and juice from between membranes to measure 2 tablespoons. Add to chicken mixture; stir to blend.

Melt butter in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion, carrot, olives, and raisins. Sauté until onion is almost tender, about 6 minutes. Add chicken mixture and stir 2 minutes. Sprinkle flour over; stir 1 minute. Add broth and chickpeas and frozen green peas and bring to boil, stirring occasionally. Transfer filling to 9-inch-diameter deep-dish glass pie dish.

Place pie crust over dish and seal dough edges to rim of dish. Using small paring knife, cut several slits in pie crust. I put an old scruffy round baking sheet in on the rack below to catch drips it was needed. Bake pot pie until crust is golden brown and juices are bubbling thickly, about 22-24 minutes. Watch as the edges of the crust browned much faster than I expected.
I'll leave a thicker edge next time.

Buttermilk Pie Crust:
Bob's Red Mill Baking Book

1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 1/2 cups unbleached white flour
2 Tbs Sucanat (or sugar)
1 tsp kosher salt
1/4 lb (1 stick) unsalted butter
1/4 cup non-hydrogenated veggie shortening, chilled and diced
1/4 cup + 2 Tbs buttermilk

Place the flours, sugar, and salt in the bowl of a food processor and pulse to blend. Sprinkle the butter over the mixture. Pulse until just incorporated, then add the shortening and pulse until the texture resembles crumbs.

Pour this mixture into a chilled bowl, add 1/4 cup of buttermilk, and stir with a spatula until the dough comes together, adding more buttermilk as needed (mine needed more). Divide the dough into 2 balls, flatten each piece into a disk, wrap them in plastic, and refrigerate at least 1 hour before rolling.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Tofu Saag over Brown Rice with a Cornmeal-Chickpea Pancake and Cucumber Yogurt Salad...Strawberry Crisp for afters :-)

I have a ton of chickpea flour, so am on the lookout for recipes where I can use it. I found this recipe for a cornmeal-chickpea pancake on I'm not sure if you can find chickpea flour in a Whole Foods type bulk section, but that would be the place to look if you don't want a horrendous amount of the stuff. )If you're in Austin please feel free to take some of mine, since I did end up with a huge bag of it!)
I usually make saag with paneer, but rather than going to the trouble of making the paneer, and given I have extra-firm tofu in the fridge, I'm going with tofu this time. I'm sure I'll post on how to make the paneer some time soon, since I have a recipe for whey muffins. The whey is a by-product of the cheese making. :-) Buy whole coriander and cumin seeds in the bulk section and grind them yourself for a much fresher flavor.
I'm serving this with my favorite Bulgarian plain yogurt mixed with fresh chopped cilantro, cucumber, and diced red onion.

Saag with Tofu*:
Adapted from Betty Crocker's Indian Home Cooking

enough canola oil to shallow fry your tofu cubes
1 package of extra firm tofu (water pressed out this way, but cut into cubes instead of slabs)

Heat oil in a wok to 300 degrees. Fry 1/2 of the pressed tofu cubes until a light golden color, 3-4 min. Remove from oil and drain on paper toweling. Repeat with the rest of the tofu. Set aside.

*We didn't like the tofu in this anywhere near as much as the paneer, but if I DO make it with tofu again, I will NOT fry it. You could try it that way instead, still pressing the water from it but then disregarding the whole frying step. It'd be way easier and I think the texture would be better.

2 Tbsp canola oil
5 medium cloves garlic finely chopped
2 Tbsp finely chopped fresh ginger
1 cup tomato sauce
1 Tbsp whole coriander, then ground
1 tsp whole cumin, then ground
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp salt
2 (10 oz) packages chopped frozen spinach, thawed and undrained
2 cups 1/2 inch cubes of extra firm tofu (water pressed out) or paneer sauteed until golden in olive oil
1/2 cup whole milk (original recipe uses whipping cream)
1 tsp Garam Masala

Heat oil in 3 quart saucepan over medium high heat. Add garlic and ginger; stir-fry 1 to 2 minutes or until garlic is golden brown.

Stir in tomato sauce, ground coriander, ground cumin, cayenne pepper, and salt; reduce heat to low. Partially cover and simmer 7 to 8 minutes or until a thin film of oil starts to form on surface of sauce. I always seem to have to cook longer than he specifies...

Stir in undrained spinach and water. Cover and simmer 8 to 10 minutes or until spinach turns a light olive green. Transfer spinach mixture to food processor and puree; return to pan.

Stir in tofu or cheese. Cover and simmer 3 to 4 minutes of until tofu or cheese is hot; remove from heat.

Stir in milk (I just realized you could use soy milk if you're using tofu for a vegan saag) and Garam Masala.

Serve over jasmine brown rice.

Cornmeal-Chickpea Pancake:
Makes one large pancake to cut into quarters

1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon onion, finely chopped
2 large leaves basil, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup chickpea flour*
1/4 cup fine yellow cornmeal
1/8 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/2 cup well-shaken buttermilk

*Chickpea flour, also called gram flour or besan, can be found at Middle Eastern and Indian markets or at

In heavy, 12-inch, nonstick skillet over moderately high heat, heat olive oil until hot but not smoking. Add onion and sauté until onions are translucent, about 1 minute. Stir in basil and cook 30 seconds more. Remove from heat.

In medium bowl, and even though you can't possibly have a whisk as cool as my Squidward...

whisk together chickpea flour, cornmeal, baking powder, and salt. In small bowl, whisk together egg and buttermilk. Add to dry ingredients and stir gently just until mixture is smooth, then gently fold in sautéed onion and basil. Let batter rest at room temperature 15 minutes.

Wipe skillet clean and heat over moderate heat until drop of water dropped into pan sizzles. Pour in batter and cook, turning over once, until light golden brown on both sides, 3 to 4 minutes per side. Transfer pancake to cutting board and cut into quarters.

I think I'll add more basil next time and maybe some frozen green peas to the cake.

Strawberry Crisp:
Adapted from Self Magazine by Cake Maker to the Stars
Makes two 5" round minis

This really wasn't ANY good. You should probably just skip this recipe. ;-)

* Cooking spray
* 2 cups sliced strawberries
* 4 teaspoons fresh orange juice
* 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
* 3 tablespoons whole wheat pastry flour
* 3 tablespoons rolled oats
* 2 tablespoons brown sugar (I use Sucanat...SUgarCAneNATural)
* 4 teaspoons canola oil
* 2 teaspoons agave nectar
* 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
* a couple grates of fresh nutmeg
* a handful of dark chocolate chips (optional...NOT! :-)

1. Preheat oven to 375F and spray the mini pans.
2. Combine the berries, juice and vanilla in a bowl and then distribute equally between the pans.
3. Mix together the rest of the ingredients, until it comes together into a moist well blended mixture.
4. Divide mixture equally between the two crisps and sprinkle evenly over the tops.
5. Bake until browned and bubbly, about 30 minutes (the crumble mixture is already brown, so watch carefully to prevent burning).

I plopped a small scoop of vanilla ice cream on top of mine...The Monster decided not to be that decadent. Next time I make this...oh yes, there WILL be a next time...I'm going to use some chopped crystallized ginger instead of cinnamon just to change it up a bit.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Baked Shrimp in Chipotle Sauce

Nice casual supper. We ate this baked chipotle shrimp right out of the casserole dish. No forks, or plates required. The original recipe that I adapted from calls for unpeeled shrimp, but I peeled and deveined them, leaving the tails on. Sop up the sauce with a nice loaf of bread and you're good to go. We also had the rest of the kale salad for our green, just as good the next night.

Baked Shrimp in Chipotle Sauce:

1/2 cup dry red wine
3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 canned chipotle chile in adobo, minced, plus 1-2 teaspoons adobo sauce (that's one chile folks, not one can...although feel free to blow the top of your head off with more if you like ;-)
2 large garlic clove, minced
~1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 lb medium shrimp, peeled, tail-on (31 to 35 per pound)...I think ours were larger and I only used a little over a pound. Buy shrimpies from the US instead of the mangrove polluting Asian ones...
3 Tbs unsalted butter

Special equipment: a 2- to 3-qt ceramic or glass shallow baking dish
Accompaniment: baguette

Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 400°F.

Add a touch of olive oil to pan and saute garlic for 30 seconds. Stir in wine, Worcestershire sauce, chipotles with adobo sauce (to taste), and salt. Toss shrimp with sauce in baking dish and bake until shrimp are just cooked through, 10 to 12 minutes. Remove the shrimp and keep warm. Return the sauce to the pan you made the sauce in and simmer to reduce the sauce ~3-4 min. Then whisk in butter and add shrimp back in.

Cooks' note:
Shrimp with heads on can be used; you'll need 1 3/4 pounds.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Crispy Prosciutto, Chevre, and Scallion Frittata with Raw Kale Salad

With our abundance of eggs I'm making another Culinary in the Desert adaptation. I used less whole eggs and more whites than the original recipe. I got lazy and didn't want to wash all the kale we were supposed to have last night, so it's showing up in tonight's menu. The salad must marinate in the fridge for ~2 hours.

Crispy Prosciutto Chevre and Green Onion Frittata:

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
4 scallions, thinly sliced on the diagonal
4 ounces Prosciutto Di Parma, torn into 1" pieces
6 large eggs ( I used 4)
4 egg whites (I used 8)
3 tablespoons milk
2 ounces fresh grated Parmesan cheese (I used 1 oz)
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
3 ounces chevre, crumbled

Heat oven to 350

In a large oven-safe skillet, heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium. Add the scallions - cook until tender, about 1 1/2 minutes. Remove from pan. Add the prosciutto to pan - cook until slightly crisp, 3 to 4 minutes.

While you're waiting on the prosciutto, whisk together the eggs, egg whites, milk, Parmesan and pepper in a medium bowl. Stir in the cooked scallions and prosciutto. Wipe out the pan and add a little olive oil over the whole surface...I used a paper towel to get it up on the sides. Quickly pour the mixture into the skillet and use a spatula to evenly distribute the ingredients.

Bake until browned around the edges and puffed, about 10 to 20 minutes depending on your skillet size. We used a large 12" pan and it took just about 12 minutes. When it is almost set, preheat the broiler and scatter the crumbled chevre on top. Place under the broiler just until lightly browned - about 1 or 2 minutes.

The taste was great, but I think the texture would have been improved if I'd gone ahead and used more whole eggs and less of the whites. If you're not too worried about cholesterol, just make it as written.

Makes about 4 servings.

Raw Kale and Garlic Salad:

This recipe is from Erin at the Southern Dharma Retreat Center with a few additions.

1 lb kale (or collard greens)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2-2 cloves garlic, minced. Adjust to taste. (I used one large clove for 2 bunches of kale)
1/2 teaspoon salt
~4 Tbs lemon juice
avocado slices
1 tomato, diced

Remove kale stems and tear or chop greens into smallish pieces. Wash thoroughly. As you can see...I had a little over a pound of kale. ;-)

Pour olive oil on top and "massage" gently for several minutes (4-5), getting the greens good and soft. THIS STEP IS CRITICAL!! Add minced garlic (careful with quantity as this will be served raw), lemon juice and salt and toss lightly to distribute.

Allow to marinate in the refrigerator for 2-3 hours.

Serve topped with avocado slices and tomato. I squeezed more lemon juice over each serving and added some fresh ground black pepper.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Greek Pinwheel Steaks, Mashed Potatoes, Chili-Spiced Asparagus

Central Market sells a Greek pinwheel steak at their meat counter that is really delicious. We treat ourselves to it when we have a 10 buck free steak coupon. Only problem is, The Monster thinks there are too many pinenuts in the filling. I tend to agree, sometimes they go a little overboard. The other stuffing ingredients include a mix of chopped fresh spinach, and feta. All quite yummy when rolled up in a tenderized piece of fajita meat. I had the $10 coupon yesterday, and when the cut of meat I wanted for a beef daube wasn't part of the deal, I looked to the pinwheel. I could make one of those...I think...maybe...
To the butcher I promptly blamed my husband for the reason I wanted to try to make my own...too many pinenuts...he just doesn't like 'em...yadda, yadda, yadda.
He was quite helpful in pointing me towards the cut of meat they use for theirs...I'd have thought it was flank steak, but they use sirloin fajita meat. He even ran the meat though a killer tenderizer machine for me, so all I'd have to do is roll it up and slice into rounds.

We've been eating way more beef than usual it seems to me. But when Central Market gives you free steak, what are ya gonna do?? This is a winner...super easy, little muss, or fuss.

Greek Pinwheel Steak:
This made 7 steaks, not all of equal size...

1 slab of tenderized sirloin fajita beef (mine was 1.5 lbs)
1 1/2-2 cups baby spinach, chopped (next time I'm going to pack a lot more spinach in...)
the better part of a block of domestic cow feta, crumbled
as many pinenuts as you like
pepper spice mix (ours has black pepper, crushed red pepper, and who knows what else in it)
kosher salt
wooden skewers
clippers to trim skewers
plastic wrap

In the morning, lay out the beef. Schmear a layer of the feta over the entire surface of the meat and press it in, leaving ~1" at the end that will be on the outside.

Sprinkle some pinenuts over the surface, and then top with the chopped spinach.

Roll the entire puppy up and wrap tightly in plastic wrap. Place the whole roll in the fridge to chill, and until ready to cut and cook.

Preheat oven to 425.
Remove the meat from the plastic and place on a cutting board.
Skewer the steaks by slowly twisting a long bamboo skewer all the way through, snipping off the ends with clippers. Just put one skewer in about 1/2" in from the end, then cut a 1" steak, then another skewer, and cut, and so on.

I wrapped the steaks we wouldn't be eating tonight in plastic wrap and then into a freezer bag for the next meal.

(Am I the only one that gets all wiggly from knowing there are all kinds of yummy meals in my freezer that won't take any extra effort to prepare??)

Salt the steaks on both sides.

Sprinkle a pile of pepper mix onto a plate and dredge the steaks in it. Both sides.

Place steaks on a oiled foil-lined baking sheet and pop into the oven for about 15 min if your steaks are about 4" across. Use a meat thermometer (~170 for ours) to determine when they're done to your liking. My steaks were considerably smaller than the ones they make at CM, which was perfect. Just right for individual servings instead of having to messily carve up a large one. They seemed much more tender too, for whatever reason.

Chili-Spiced Asparagus:
I halved all ingredient amounts except for the oil and water amounts to make enough for 2.

This might be my new favorite way to cook asparagus! Quick, easy and tasty...thanks to Culinary in the Desert's blog for the recipe.

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 bunches asparagus, tough ends removed, cut diagonally into 1-inch pieces
1 tablespoon water
1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
3/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar (can sub. balsamic or red wine vinegar)

In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high. Add asparagus and water - cook for about 4 mintes. Stir in chili powder, garlic powder and salt - continue cooking until the asparagus is crisp-tender, about 1 minute. Remove from heat and stir in the vinegar until well coated.

Makes about 4 servings.

We had good old mashed potatoes to cap off this great meal.

Big-Ass Veggie Omeletes with Sweet Potato Oven Fries

I'm overrun with eggs! Beautiful multi-colored chicken and duck eggs from the Monster's collegue's beasts of laying. We save up our empty egg cartons for him and they are returned to us miraculously filled with jeweled eggs with the most golden yolks you could ever hope to find. When I go to the store I just buy a 6-pack of organic eggs if we need them. Should give you an idea of our typical egg usage. Well, last week the Monster brought home an 18-pack of eggs from Frank! We hadn't even gotten through the dozen he'd given us the week prior, so I had to get busy last night and make some big-ass veggie omelets. The name shouldn't imply that that's what you'll get from eating them. On the contrary, I use all egg whites with one whole egg per omelet. Last night I used up some roasted red pepper we had in the fridge along with sliced avocado, chopped baby arugula, diced red onion, and dollops of peppered chevre. A right tasty combination. Top with Greek yogurt and serve with sweet tater oven fries for a great meal.

Big-Ass Veggie Omelets with Sweet Potato Oven Fries:
Amounts are for 2

1 large sweet potato, peeled and sliced in ~1/4" thick half moons
olive oil
7 eggs (Monster's omelet had 3 whites + 1 whole egg, mine had 2 whites and 1 the leftover yolks and make yourself some sick dessert!)
garlic powder
kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper
one whole jarred red pepper or equivalent, diced
1/2 large avocado, peeled and thinly sliced lengthwise
diced red much or little as you want
a goodly pile of chopped baby arugula, or baby spinach
2-3 oz of peppered chervre, divided between the two omelets
2% Greek yogurt
parsley to garnish

Heat oven to 400.
Line a baking sheet with foil and oil it with olive oil.
Peel and slice your sweet potato and toss with a little more olive oil on the baking sheet.
Salt and pepper the potato and put in the oven for about 12 min. Turn the slices over when they've gotten a little browned on their butts.
Roast for another 10-12 min. or so.

I like to use 2 bowls so I can have the eggs cracked and ready to go into my pan.
I mix in a little salt, pepper and garlic powder to each bowl of eggs.
Heat a non-stick skillet over medium-high heat with a pat of butter and a swirl of olive oil. Make sure your pan and oils are nice and hot before adding the eggs.
Once you've added the eggs, swirl the pan to distribute the mixture evenly over the pan until it starts to set up. Turn down the heat a bit and start laying in your toppings, down the center of the omelet (or on one side if you prefer to just flip it in half rather than fold it in thirds). Sprinkle the fillings with a bit of salt, then place a lid onto the skillet for a few seconds...until eggs are mostly set. Flip one edge of eggs up over the filling, and gently flip the rest of the way over onto a plate.
Top with a dollop of Greek yogurt and a sprinkling of chopped Italian parsley.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Buttermilk Whole Wheat Waffles With Blueberry Topping

You'll excuse me for the crappy photo...I had a delicious hot waffle to scarf! Served with butter and blueberry topping...make these, they're goot.

Buttermilk Whole Wheat Waffles:
This made 2 big honkin' Belgian-style waffles

1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup white whole wheat flour
1 Tbs cornmeal
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda (I added the tiniest bit more since I added Sucanat to the recipe)
Optional: 1 Tbs sugar or Sucanat (if you just use reg. sugar just use the 1/2 tsp baking soda)
1 egg, divided
1 cup buttermilk
2 1/2 Tbs unsalted butter, melted and cooled

Preheat waffle iron.
In a medium bowl whisk together the flours, cornmeal, salt, baking soda, and Sucanat if using.
In a smaller bowl, beat egg whites until they form soft peaks, but are not dry.
In a separate bowl, beat together the egg yolk, buttermilk, and butter, then gradually add to the dry ingredients to form a batter.
Gently fold egg whites into the batter to incorporate.
I lightly oil our waffle iron then put about 1/2 the batter onto the iron, close and cook for ~6-7 minutes for a Belgian-style waffle iron.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Farro and White Bean Soup with Escarole and Rosemary-Parmesan No-Knead Bread

This is a start-it-the-night before meal. Around 22 hours before you plan on eating dinner the next night, for me it was 9pm., soak your farro for the soup and start the bread making process.
It's an unbelievably simple method in which time does all the work for you. I added Parmesan and fresh rosemary to the original recipe and found that you could probably add any number of different goodies to this base with terrific results. The base being everything except the cheese and herbs as I've typed it up below. I baked this loaf at 500 for 30 min and 450 for the last 15, but with all the cheese (4 oz. this time...will use less next time), I think baking at 450 the whole time would have been preferable.
I'd have taken photos of the process, but there are so many good ones already on the web for me to link to. :-) Jaden of Steamy Kitchen has a great step by step with a cute kid to boot for the basic bread. I kind of combined her basic recipe and added the amendments, the original NYT recipe, and Cook's Illustrated's cooking method for last night's bread. Confusing? Doesn't have to be...just try it out, you'll be amazed with the results.

The soup is delicious, if a little salty for my tastes. Just make sure to use reduced-sodium chicken or veggie broth, and no-salt added tomatoes and it will be great. Especially with a slab of homemade bread to dunk in it! Quick note...I used the called for escarole tonight, but really felt that the Swiss chard I used last time was a lot more flavorful. I also use more than the 2 cups of greens called for in the recipe, since they cook down considerably.

Farro and White Bean Soup with Escarole:

1 cup farro (I found it in the bulk section at Central Market...I'm sure Whole Foods would have this too)
2 15oz. cans white beans (I usually use cannelini beans for this, but had a can of Great northern beans and a can of butter beans in the pantry today. Note to self, CM Organics beans would have less salt.)
~2 Tbs olive oil
2 oz. pancetta, finely chopped
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 medium cloves garlic, minced
1 medium carrot, chopped (I use a handful of organic baby-size carrots)
1 rib celery, chopped
1 sprig of fresh thyme
1 sprig of fresh marjoram (didn't have so added a little herbs de Provence)
1 14 oz can no-salt added diced tomatoes, not drained
pinch of fresh grated nutmeg
1 Parmesan rind (save those rinds! I used the one leftover from the bread :-)
4 cups reduced-sodium, organic chicken or veggie broth
2 cups escarole leaves, chopped (Swiss chard, or kale sub nicely and I always use at least double this amount of greens!)
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Rinse the farro in a sieve, then soak in lots of water to cover overnight. Discard any bits that float to the surface—these are hulls, and not pleasant to eat. [Another option I read but haven’t tried yet: Put farro in a pot, cover with water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 15 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside 1 hour.] Drain well.

Purée 1 can of beans with its liquid in a food processor or blender. Drain the other can of beans and rinse well. Set both aside.

Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy stock pot on medium heat.
Add pancetta or buffalo bacon and sauté 2-3 minutes.
Add onion and sauté 4 minutes.
Add garlic, carrot, celery and herbs; sauté 8 minutes or until vegetables begin to soften.
Stir in farro, undrained tomatoes, nutmeg, bean purée and whole beans, Parmesan rind, and broth. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add escarole and pepper. Continue cooking an additional 15 minutes. Test farro for doneness—it should be softened but still have some texture. Remove herb stems before serving.

Add salt if you feel it needs it. I've rewritten the recipe to use no-salt-added tomatoes because I felt it was too salty even not adding any extra salt. But, I didn't use farro tonight so that could make a difference. I do know that when I've made it before it seemed too salty then stick with the no-salt added tomatoes and at least that way you can add if needed.

Rosemary-Parmesan No-Knead Bread:
Yield: one 1½ lb loaf

3 cups unbleached bread flour
1/4 teaspoon instant yeast
3/4 tsp regular salt, or 1 1/2 tsp kosher salt (might adjust salt down if using more Parm)
2-4 oz grated parmesan (I just blitzed it in my food processor til crumbly)
2 tsp-1Tbs fresh chopped rosemary (I used 2 tsp)
1 1/2 cups warm water
Covered pot (five-quart or larger cast iron, Pyrex, ceramic, enamel...something that can go into a 450F oven.)
parchment paper

1. Mix dough: The night before (I did this at 9pm so that we could eat it at ~7pm the next evening), combine all dry ingredients in a big bowl. Then add the warm (not hot or you'll hurt your wee yeasties!) water and stir with your hand, my prefered tool, or a wooden spoon until the dough comes together. It will be a shaggy ball. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let sit 12-20 hours on countertop (I think I went about 19 today).

2. Shape & preheat: The dough will now be wet, sticky and bubbly. With a wet spatula, dump the dough on a floured surface. Fold ends of dough over about 4-5 times with the spatula or a dough scraper and nudge it into a ball shape. You can use your hands if you like, just keep your hands wet so that the dough does not stick. Cut a square of parchment large enough to overhang a skillet. Lay parchment inside skillet and drop a little cornmeal on it. Place dough onto parchment and cover with floured towel, or oiled saran for 2 hrs.. When you've got about a half hour left to the dough rest, slip your covered pot into the oven and preheat to 450F.

3. Bake: Your dough should have doubled in size. Remove pot from oven. Using the parchment to cradle the dough lift and place the whole thing into your pot, paper and all. Cover. Bake 30 minutes. Remove the cover from your pot, and bake another 15-20 minutes or until the crust is beautifully golden and middle of loaf is 210F. Remove and let cool on wired rack. If not eating right away, you can re-crisp crust in 350F oven for 10 minutes.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Beef Enchiladas with Roasted Corn-Black-Eyed Pea Salsa Salad

This is day 3 of Freezer Emptying...Frozen leftover beef empanada filling remade into enchiladas. Very good! I think I'll skip the trouble of making empanadas next time and go straight for the enchies. might have to skip down to the salad at this point, lest you lose all respect for me.
Refer to the comments section from the Black Bean and Corn Enchiladas....
YES! I'll admit it! I used another can of enchilada sauce! Wow...I feel so much better having gotten that out. :-)
I had a second can of it in the pantry and it was either going to languish in there forever, or get driven all by it's lonely self to the food bank. What can I say...with the price of gas these days?
We ate it. NEXT time I promise I'll reform my ways and make my own sauce as recommended by Beth using this recipe she uses. Her advice is to go easy on the chili powder...the original recipe calls for 1/3 cup.

Now on to the recipes...

Beef Enchiladas:

Beef Filling (I had half the recipe left from the empanadas and it made 6 enchiladas, so 12 if you've got a whole batch)
corn tortillas
homemade or 14 oz canned enchilada sauce (I used one can for the 6, so use 2 cans for 12 enchiladas)
~1 cup grated cheese (I used pepper jack)
sliced green onions
chopped de-seeded tomato

Pre-heat oven to 375.

Steam your tortillas in the microwave. I put a damp paper towel on the bottom of a plate, place a stack of tortillas on it, then cover with another damp paper towel and zap for about a minute.

Pour some of the sauce in your baking dish. Take a tortilla and dip one side in the sauce, then fill the un-sauced side and roll. Messy!
When you've got all your enchiladas rolled and tucked into the dish, pour the remaining sauce over the top.
Sprinkle with cheese, green onions, and fresh chopped tomato.

Cover with foil and bake for about 20-30 minutes, then take the foil off and bake for 5-10 minutes more. You want them to come out nice and bubbly. The cooking times are weird since my enchiladas were colder. If you make the filling fresh, it might take less time.

Roasted Corn and Black-Eyed Pea Salsa Salad:

I'd planned on making a black bean and corn salsa...opened my pantry...kidney beans, garbanzo beans, butter beans, great northern beans, black-eyed peas...but NO black beans!
This is a salsa I usually make with fresh black-eyed peas (Texas Caviar), but it's equally good with the canned.
It was so refreshing on top of a pile of crispy Romaine lettuce, I highly recommend you try it.
It's also great just scooped out of the bowl with tortilla chips.

1 can black-eyed peas
2 ears of fresh corn cut off the cobs and roasted
~1/4-1/2 cup diced red onion
2 diced, and seeded jalapenos
juice of one lime
a pile (1/2 cup?) of chopped cilantro
cider vinegar
a Tbs or two good olive oil
a small bit of agave nectar or honey

ribbons of Romaine lettuce (I slice the whole head, wash and store it in a plastic bag for pre-washed lettuce anytime)

Turn broiler on high. Line a baking sheet with foil and spray with canola oil spray or somesuch. Place freshly cut corn (you can also use frozen in a pinch) on evenly on sheet and spray tops with a little more oil. Broil for about 5 minutes, then stir. Pop back under the broiler for about 3-4 minutes. Stir again. Just keep doing this until you think it's done to your liking. I think I broiled for a total of about 10-11 min.

Toss all of the salsa ingredients in a bowl and play with seasonings until you're happy with the taste.
I added a little agave at the last moment to take a little of the tart edge off. But, not too much.
Chill in fridge until you're ready to make your salad.

When dinner time rolls around, just pile up some Romaine and sprinkle with a dash of olive oil, cider vinegar, and salt. Then, add a couple big spoonfuls of the salsa to the middle of your lettuce.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Curried Green (English) Pea Soup, Minted Black-Eyed Peas and Rice Casserole, and Ginger-Carrot Muffins

We're already taking a break from our week of freezer meals. I didn't have any meat-free meals in there, so this is getting snuck in between the Thai Beef and Chicken and White Bean Chili.
The casserole and the muffins are new recipes....the soup a tried and true from Bon Appetit magazine.

Update: A great meal...both new recipes worked out really well. All components are very simple to make and all have really great flavor.

Curried Pea Soup:
I double the recipe and freeze half.

2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter
1 large onion, chopped
5 teaspoons curry powder
4 cups (or more) chicken broth (you can use a good veggie broth)
2 10-ounce packages frozen petite green peas or 3 pound fresh peas,
shelled (about 4 1/2 cups)

1 cup plain low-fat yogurt
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 cup chopped red onion
a little fresh mint if you have it is a super addition too.

Melt butter in heavy large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add 1 onion and sauté until tender, about 10 minutes. Add curry and stir 30 seconds.

Add 4 cups broth and peas and bring to boil. Reduce heat; simmer until peas are very tender, about 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Puree in blender (I tried the stick blender, but you can't get a smooth enough consistency) in batches. Make sure you only fill the blender carafe 1/2 full with soup each time. Hold a dish towel firmly over the lid and make sure it doesn't fly off when you start blending. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover; chill.)

Mix yogurt, cilantro and red onion in small bowl. Cover; chill up to 2 hours. (I have to say...I never make the full amount of yogurt and I never measure the amounts. So just use as much of each ingredient as you want.)

Rewarm soup, stirring often. Serve with dollop of yogurt mixture.

Carrot-Ginger Muffins:

I thought these might be interesting with the soup and I get to use my oat flour too!
This is an adaptation of a King Arthur Flour recipe by food blogger Culinary in the Country. King Arthur Flour's original recipe can be found here if you'd rather use all whole wheat flour.
I ate a "test muffin" slathered with Brummel and Brown spread for a quick snack this afternoon and they're really good! :-)

1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
3/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup oat flour
3/4 cup granulated sugar (I used Sucanat...add scant 1/4 tsp extra baking soda if using instead of sugar. You need to add 1/4 tsp extra per figure it that way)
1/4 cup ground flax seeds
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger (I'm not sure if I remembered to put this in! D'oh!)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cardamom
1/2 cup diced crystallized ginger
2 large eggs
1 cup buttermilk
1 tsp pure vanilla extract (I actually used 1/2 tsp double strength vanilla, but I don't suppose it matters)
1/3 cup canola oil
2 cups grated carrots
1/4 cup chopped walnuts, toasted

Preheat oven to 400

In a medium bowl, whisk together flours, sugar, flax, baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda, ginger, salt, cardamom and crystallized ginger.

In a small bowl, whisk together eggs, buttermilk, vanilla and oil.
Pour into the dry ingredients and stir just until combined.
Fold in the carrots and walnuts.
Evenly divide the mixture between the wells of a 12 cup muffin tin coated with nonstick spray.

Bake until the centers spring back when lightly touched, about 18 to 24 minutes (mine took 20). Remove from the oven and let cool in the pan for 5 minutes before transferring them to a rack to cool completely.

Freeze any extra muffinks you have for later!

Minted Black-Eyed Peas and Rice Casserole:
(or, Pudhina Lobhia Pulao)

This recipe is from...wait for it...
Betty Crocker's Indian Home Cooking. Are you done ROFL yet?
Ok, it's actually a pretty cool book. The recipes are all by Raghavan Iyer...a distinctly East Indian looking fellow. And all the recipes I've tried so far are really great. This is a new one to try and I decided to make it because the ingredient list wasn't a mile long. I'm adapting this to use brown rice, but I'm typing it as written in the book. I'll be using all the same ingredients, just preparing it differently because I'm using the brown rice.

1 cup uncooked basmati or regular long-grain rice
2 Tbs canola oil
2 3" cinnamon sticks (I used one and a half sticks...)
2 dried bay leaves
1 medium red onion, cut in half and thinly sliced
1 medium tomato, chopped (~3/4 cup)
1 can (15-16 oz) black-eyed peas, drained and rinsed
1 tsp garam masaala
1 tsp salt
2 1/2 cups cold water
1 cup chopped fresh mint leaves (I probably only used 1/2 cup chopped and it was fine)

1. Place rice in medium bowl; add enough cold water to cover rice. Rub rice gently between fingers; drain. Repeat 4-5 times until water is clear; drain. cover rice with cold water and soak 30 minutes. Drain and set aside.

2. Heat oil in heavy 2 quart saucepan over medium-high heat. Add cinnamon sticks and bay leaves; sizzle 15-20 seconds or until cinnamon swells up. Add onion; stir-fry 2-3 minutes, or until onion is partially brown.

3. Stir in tomato. Simmer uncovered 3-4 minutes or until softened. Stir in black-eyed peas, garam masaala and salt.

4. Add rice; gently stir-fry 1 minute, taking care not to break tender rice grains. Stir in 2 1/2 cups cold water. Heat to boiling, stirring once; reduce heat to med.-high. Cook uncovered for 5-6 minutes, stirring occasionally , until almost all the water has evaporated.

5. Spread mint over top of rice; reduce heat to low. Cover and cook 5 minutes; remove from heat. Let rice stand covered 10 to 15 minutes. Fluff rice with a fork to release steam.

My rice cooker version using brown easy and yummy!

Start a pot of brown rice. No need to wash, or soak it. I made the least amount our rice cooker will make.
~20 minutes after you've turned on the rice pot, proceed with steps 2. and 3. then put the onion/tomato/pea mixture into the rice cooker and stir. Replace lid and continue to let the pot do it's thing.
When rice cooker clicks from "cook" to "warm", spread chopped mint on top of rice, quickly replace the top, and let stand for 15 minutes.
Fluff with a fork and serve garnished with more mint.

For lunch the next day I warmed some of this and then put it over baby spinach, with chopped tomato and the remaining yogurt topping from the soup as a quasi dressing. So good!

Salad Dressing for Thai Braised Beef leftover night...

Just use the ingredients listed in this recipe in any amount that tastes good to you really...and depending on how large your salad is.

I used this over a spinach salad with cucumber, red bell pepper, tomato, avocado and cilantro since it's what we had in the house.

Instead of using Chinese egg noodles as the original recipe called for, I felt the need for a whole-grain noodle. I love using Vita-Spelt noods...I like them much better regular whole-wheat noodles for some reason and they come in all the usual noodly shapes. I used their wide egg noodle variety tonight.

Thai-ish Salad Dressing:

Juice of 1 1/2 med.-small limes
zest of one of those limes
~ 3/4-1 tsp chili garlic sauce
rice wine vinegar
1 finely grated peeled lemongrass stalk
a dash of salt
and a glurg of agave nectar

Mix it all together and tweak until you're happy with the taste. :-)

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Pan-Seared Pork Loin Chops with Fresh Sage Gravy, Braised Kale and Oatmeal Biscuits

Be forewarned...this is a looooong post. I think we'll be living on frozen leftovers from at least 5 meals next week to make room for frozen kitty food, so this one will have to last until next weekend.

Thought I'd go for a Sunday type dinner being Sunday and all.
Inspiration stemmed (pardon the pun) from this lovely little sage plant that caught my eye at the grocery store the other day. It's beautiful purply-blue flower poking up among the rest of the green potted herbs set it apart.

Hm...sage...sage gravy?
Sage gravy and pork...sage gravy, pork loin chops, and biscuits?! Alright...gotta have some green in there somewhere, and I'm afraid the sage doesn't count for much in that department. The Monster suggested braised greens, so I picked out two sweet bundles of organic curly kale. One of our favorites. I'm typing this the morning of, so I'm not sure if I'll really be able to pull all of this off without the kitchen looking like an atom bomb went off in it (poor Monster, he always gets stuck with clean-up duty). I've never made biscuits before. Well not really...not successfully. I tried making sweet potato biscuits after having an out of body experience over Hoover's spb's (I have to add that I weighed at LEAST 20 lbs more when we lived around the corner from Hoover's!). Oh lordie. Well, needless to say. My lame little attempt didn't even come close to theirs.
This biscuit recipe was searched out so that I could attempt to use up some of the alternative flours I have piling up. It uses oat flour, so should be good for the ticker...well, maybe it will help counteract SOME of the negative effects from the vegetable shortening! :-) If these don't turn out, I'm on my knees for biscuit baking lessons Debbie!!!
(She made these for our Halloween party and if you closed your eyes, they were delicious! :-)

Braised Kale (or other green, such Swiss chard, collards, etc.): recipe
You can make these first and then just gently reheat before your meal.

Oat Flour Biscuits:
I'm halving the recipe that is written here, and if you choose to do the same just know that half of 1/3 cup is 2.5 TBS + 1/2 tsp. for the shortening amt.

The dough for these tasted so good! But...I didn't pull it off. Don't know if it was the recipe (I just got it from someone else's blog), or me, or both. They stayed the same size they were when they went into the oven. Needs work, but if you are an experienced biscuit baker maybe you can figure out what they'd need (and let me know). I should call these oat sandies...that's kind of what they were like.
From what I'm reading now, it looks like they just don't have enough gluten in them to rise...gonna need some wheat flour in there I suppose.

2 cups oat flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 Tbsp sugar (I used sucanat...evaporated cane juice)
1/3 cup vegetable shortening (preferably the non-hydrogenated kind)
1/4 cup milk or soy milk

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a large bowl, whisk together all the dry ingredients. Using your fingers, work the shortening through the dry mixture until it resembles a coarse meal. Slowly stir in the milk until you have a soft dough. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and pat into a disc, about a half-inch thick. Using a two-inch circle cutter, cut out biscuits and transfer them to a parchment-lined baking sheet. Gather up the leftover dough, working it as little as possible, and cut out as many more biscuits as you can. Bake about 15 minutes until golden. Serve warm. Makes 8-10 biscuits. I buttered the tops when they came out of the oven and just set them aside until the pork and gravy were done.

Seared Pork Loin Chops:

Center cut boneless natural pork loin chops, ~1" thick
Kosher or sea salt
Fresh ground black pepper
flour for dusting (I used brown rice flour)
Light olive or canola oil

Take out of refrigerator 30 minutes before cooking them, dry them, and add salt and pepper to both sides. When they've sat for 30 minutes, pat the excess moisture from them and then dust in flour, shaking off excess. Pour oil in a heavy skillet heated over high heat. When oil is very hot, add pork and sear for about 4 1/2 minutes per side. I think we did about 5 1/2 on the first side and ~3, 3 1/2 on the second. Remove to a plate and cover with foil.
Make the gravy in the same skillet and when you've got about 2 minutes left on the gravy simmering, add the pork back into the skillet to rewarm.

Fresh Sage Gravy:
Makes 2 cups (I halved the recipe to just make just enough for 2)

I found this recipe on Whole Foods' website. It was the only one I found that didn't have a ton of fat and white flour in it. I changed it up a bit, and it's definitely a "keeper" recipe. I made the gravy in the same pot that I'd just seared the pork in, so as to incorporate all the crispy bits from the chops in the gravy.

* 2 tablespoons canola oil
* 1/2 cup yellow onion, 1/4-inch dice
* 1 stalk celery, 1/4-inch dice (I didn't use any)
* 1 teaspoon garlic, minced
* 3 tablespoons unbleached white flour
* 2 cups vegetable broth (I used chicken broth)
* 2 Tbs. reduced-sodium soy sauce (or you might use a little less than 2 Tbs if using regular so that it's not too salty. I only had regular tonight...)
* 1 tablespoon fresh sage, minced

Heat oil over medium high heat. Sauté onion, celery and garlic until onion is translucent. Reduce heat to low. Stir in flour to make a roux. Stirring often, cook the roux over very low heat for three minutes. Return to high heat, whisk in vegetable broth and soy sauce. Bring to a boil, stirring often. Add sage, simmer for 10 minutes. Check seasonings and adjust to taste.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Salmon en Papillote with Spinach and Strawberry Salad

This is a great one guys. I wanted salmon...I wanted to cook it "en papillote"...the internet gave me this super easy and elegant little recipe...

Salmon en Papillote:
these amounts are for each individual packet.

1 ea 5 – 6 oz salmon fillet section
1 ea small red potato (2" diameter) -- sliced 1/8" thick
1/2 ea lemon
1 tbsp white wine
2 sprigs fresh dill
1 tbs butter (could use less, or sub with olive oil)
10 - 12 ea snow peas
ground black pepper

Heat oven to 375F with baking sheet inside. Prepare parchment by folding a long sheet in half crosswise and scissor out a piece that looks like half a heart or, when you unfold it, a valentine. As the food inside cooks, the fat top will puff perfectly while the skinny end captures the juices.

Cook potato slices in boiling water, seasoned with salt, until tender.

Cut two thin slices from the lemon half and juice the remainder. Mix juice with the white wine.

Position salmon on half of paper. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Dot with pieces of butter. Place dill on salmon and layer potato slices on top. Season potato with salt and black pepper and top with lemon slices. Starting at the top of the heart, fold edges of parchment, sealing edges securely with narrow folds leaving a small opening at the pointed end.

When ready to cook, pour wine and lemon juice into the opening in the parchment then twist the end tip to secure tightly. Place bundle on a baking sheet and cook for 11 -12 minutes. Serves 1.

I made a quick little spinach salad to go with the salmon. We picked up some organic strawberries today so in they went along with some thinly sliced red onion and some toasted sunflower seeds that I had left from the waffles. The dressing was my usual spinach salad dressing. The whole dinner was just delish!

Dried Cherry Spelt Scones with Chocolate Chips

My favorite alternative to wheat flour is spelt flour. It has a great nutty flavor and can often be more easily tolerated than it's cousin common wheat, amongst those with wheat allergies. I discovered it when I went on my yeast -free diet after I'd added some whole grains back in to my diet. There's an amazing bread I found that is made from just spelt, salt and water (no yeast, sugars, or anything else!). Really good stuff that you might look for in the freezer section of your grocery store.

Ok, I'm just gonna say it. I needed a break from our usual oatmeal breakie. I know, I know...I claimed that I could eat it 3 times a day. Um...most days? ;-)
These scones sounded like a great respite from the bowl of mush. I found a recipe for Cherry Spelt Scones in Bob's Red Mill Baking Book and knew that I'd have to add some of the chocolate chips I had left from making the tofu chocolate pudding. Who doesn't like chocolate and cherries?
This is another first attempt. When I was a kid my dad made scones for us every Sunday breakfast. I don't even hope to come close to his masterful scones. The only reason I feel I can even make an attempt at these is because he's lately admitted to me that he now just buys Krusteez scone mix when he gets the bug to make them these days! Ah good 'ol Krusteez.

I wrote the previous two paragraphs before making these, so here's the update...they were delicious!! Aside from having way too many cherries that is. Too much of a good thing.
I'm rewriting the recipe to include ~1/4 cup as opposed to the original 1/2 cup of cherries. You might even go ahead and use less and chop them up a little too. I found that they made the scones difficult to split without breaking. I loved, loved, loved the spelt in the scones. These were so much easier than I'd built them up to be. :-) Dog, how I love my food processor...
I sure hope you try these!

Dried Cherry Spelt Scones with Chocolate Chips:

2 1/4 cups spelt flour
1 Tbs + 3/4 tsp aluminum-free baking powder (try Rumford)
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
6 Tbs unsalted butter, chilled and diced
~1/4 cup, or less dried tart cherries (try chopping a little)
~1/3 cup chocolate chips (original recipe didn't call for any)
1 egg
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
3 Tbs light brown sugar (I used Sucanat that I bought at the bulk section of our regular grocery store HEB)
Milk, or melted butter for glazing
optional: cinnamon sugar to sprinkle on top after brushing with milk, or butter

Preheat oven to 400.
Lightly oil a baking sheet, or line it with parchment paper.

In a food processor, or large bowl, pulse or whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Pulse or cut in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Remove to a large bowl if using the food processor and stir in the dried cherries and chocolate (if using).

In another bowl beat together the egg, buttermilk, vanilla, and brown sugar (or evap. cane juice), then stir it into the flour mixture until a dough forms.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead 8-9 times. Pat the dough into a 1/2 inch thick round, brush with milk, or melted butter, and cut into 6 or 8 wedges. Next time I make these, to counteract the crumbly nature of the spelt, I'm going to halve the dough and make two 1/2 inch thick rounds. Smaller scones might be easier to split and butter without them falling apart. Cooking time might vary if you try this smaller size...will update when I try it.

Place the scones on the prepared pan and bake for 15-16 minutes, or until a tester comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack and serve warm, or at room temperature.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Stir-Fry with Marinated and Sauteed Tofu

I'm trying marinating the tofu this time. Usually I just cube it from the start, press it in paper toweling, sprinkle with kosher salt and garlic powder, then saute in my blended canola-sesame oil 'til crispy on a couple sides. Done. This recipe takes more steps...we'll see if it's worth it.

...It was really good, a nice change from my usual tofu treatment, but the extra cashew-hoisin sauce we topped it with really made it.

Veggie Stir-fry with Sauteed Tofu:

brown rice
red pepper flakes
1 bunch of broccolini (durn, why does this yummy stuff have to be so expensive!), cut into bite- sized pieces and blanched 30 sec-1 min. in boiling water.
green beans, halved and parboiled ~3 min
1 bunch of green onions, cut on an angle in 2" sections
extra firm tofu, marinated and sauteed as follows
sesame oil (I use the one blended with canola for a lighter taste)
seaweed gomasio
optional: cashew-hoisin sauce...I had some leftover from making the spring rolls and it was really great added to our individual bowls.

Add oil to a very hot wok, or large skillet. Stir-fry garlic, and red pepper flakes for ~30 seconds. Add broccoli and green beans. Stir-fry until almost cooked. Then add green onions. Cook for another minute, or so, then add sauteed tofu to reheat. I add the rice to the wok at this point and mix with everything else, add more sesame oil for flavor if you want, and use seaweed gomasio with sesame seeds for seasoning. Just add whatever you'd like. The Monster usually mixes up his own spicy peanut sauce for his, but this time we used the remaining cashew-hoising dipping sauce. Nom, nom. :-) You really should just make some of that stuff up since it keeps in the fridge for a long time and is great on so many things.

1 lb. package of extra firm water-packed tofu (I really like White Wave tofu if you can find it)
2 Tbs fresh lime juice
1 Tbs soy sauce
1 Tbs chili garlic sauce (such as Lee Kum Kee)
1 tsp sugar (agave nectar)
2 tsp fresh ginger, peeled and grated
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 Tbs sesame oil

Cut tofu into 3/4" thick slices. Arrange them in a single layer on several layers of paper towels. Top with more layers of paper towels, then top with a cast-iron skillet, or other heavy pan. Let stand for 30 minutes. Remove tofu from paper towels and cut into 3/4" cubes. Combine tofu, lime juice, and next 6 ingredients (thru garlic) in a zip-top plastic bag. Seal and marinate at room temperature for 2 hours, turning bag occasionally.

Things to do while your tofu marinates:
Put on a large pot of water to boil. Prepare a large bowl of water and ice and and set aside. When pot of water is boiling, add green bean sections and parboil for ~3 min. Then add the broccollini, or broccoli segments, turn off the heat and cover for about 30 seconds (for the broccolini) - ~1 min (if using regular broccoli) more. Then, drain the veggies and shock in large bowl of ice water immediately, to stop the cooking process. When cool, drain the vegetables again, dry and set aside until your tofu is cooked.
Make a pot of brown rice and keep warm.

Heat a large non-stick skillet on med-high heat. Add 1 Tbs oil to the pan, swirling to coat and heat ~30 seconds.
Remove tofu from bag and discard marinade. Add tofu to pan and saute until crisp (mine didn't get crisp btw), carefully turning to brown all sides. Remove from heat.