Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Roasted Butternut Squash with Latin Spice Mix

This recipe hails from my Aunt Judy, and I'm not really sure where she found it but it's a total keeper. We ate this as a side to our black bean, corn and cheese blue masa tamales on Christmas Eve. Soooo good! I already have plans for using more of the spice mix on sweet potatoes roasted in the same fashion. I only mixed up 1/2 a batch of the spice mix, but next time I'd go ahead and make it all. Pretty sure it'd be great on most any roasted veggie. Cauliflower comes to mind as my next victim after the sweet potatoes. :-)

Roasted Butternut Squash with Latin Spice Mix:
(via Judy Deggeller)

Latin Spice Mix
1/4 cup whole cumin seeds
3 Tbs whole black peppercorns
1 Tbs whole coriander seeds
2 Tbs sugar (I used raw sugar and it worked just fine)
1 1/2 tsp sea salt

Combine cumin, peppercorns, and coriander.
Stir in a skillet over medium heat for 8 minutes.
Cool slightly.
Smash in a baggie (this doesn't really work for me, so I put it in my spice grinder and just give it a couple pulses, til crushed looking).
Stir in sugar and salt, and store in a fresh bag or clean jar.

4 lb butternut squash- peeled, seeded and cut into 1 inch cubes
1/4-1/3 cup olive oil
1.5-2 Tbs Latin Spice Mix
1/4 tsp cayenne (I didn't realize that I'd left this out until just now!...didn't miss it at all, was good and spicy without it)

Preheat oven to 400.
Toss squash in a bowl with olive oil and spice mix.
Bake on a large baking sheet, stirring occasionally for 45-60 minutes.
I added some large flake sea salt to the squash to finish since I thought it needed a bit more salt...maybe because I only used 1.5 Tbs of the spice mix.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Profiteroles au Chocolat

Part of me is really missing my West coast family this holiday season. I was able to soothe myself somewhat by preparing some of the dishes we've enjoyed together this Christmas Eve for my mom and my Monster. When I was growing up Christmas Eve was a night that, if I was with my dad, would have always been spent with my Muttie, Aunties, Uncles and great cousins, and it typically ended with profiteroles filled with vanilla ice cream and topped with a goodly amount of love-filled chocolate sauce. Mmmm.
All I can say is that it's been too, too long since I've gotten to spend that special night with all those wonderful people but, making this dessert helped to take me back...just enough.

The recipe is in my copy of our family cookbook, put together 20 years ago by my step-monster.
Many thanks to her for doing so, as I still go to it for comfort from time to time.
Maybe it's time for me to start working on a new edition for Christmas next year? It would be wonderful to see how our collective "favorites" have changed over the years.
I put my own little spin on the chocolate sauce this year, since we were having tamales for dinner. A touch of cinnamon and a little almond extract in the sauce made it really special and just a little south of the border.

The profiteroles can be made ahead and frozen in a freezer Ziplock bag for up to a month.
I made the chocolate sauce right before serving, but I think it could be stored in a wide-mouth jar in the freezer and spooned out at will. Will have to test this theory. :-)

Profiteroles au Chocolat:
(Butler Family Cookbook; compiled by Antoinette Butler 1991)

1/2 cup flour
1/4 cup (4TB) butter
1/2 boiling water
2 large eggs

Preheat oven to 425.
Heat water to boiling in a heavy saucepan (I used a 3 quart pot).
Add butter, stir to melt.
Reduce heat and add flour all at once, stirring rapidly with a wooden spoon until incorporated.
Remove from heat.
Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each.
Beat the mixture until it's satiny and breaks off when spoon is raised.
Drop mixture from a teaspoon onto an ungreased cookie sheet in about 1 inch mounds (I used my Air Bake insulated non-stick cookie sheets with great success, I think parchment paper would be a good idea if you don't have these, but don't use butter or spray as it will interfere with the rise of your cream puffs).
Bake ~20 minutes until golden brown.
Cool them completely on a baking rack.
At this point you can either serve them by cutting off the tops and filling them with vanilla ice cream and topping with warmed chocolate sauce, or you can freeze them.
If freezing, place them in a large Ziplock freezer bag and place the bag flat on a cookie sheet that will fit in your freezer. Once frozen you can take the sheet out from under them.
To serve from freezer, place them on a baking sheet in a 350 oven for about 8-10 minutes to crisp them up again.

Chocolate Sauce
3 oz unsweetened chocolate
5 Tb butter (I had unsalted, but I added a pinch of fine sea salt to the mix)
3 cups sifted confectioners sugar
1 cup undiluted evaporated milk (not sweetened condensed)

Melt chocolate and butter in a saucepan (make sure you use a large enough pan that your sauce won't boil over. I made 1.5x this recipe and had to change pots midway!)
Remove from heat.
Add sifted confectioners sugar alternately with the evaporated milk; blending well after each addition.
Return to heat and bring to a boil over medium heat stirring constantly.
Cook and stir until mixture becomes thick and creamy, about 8 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla (and if you want to do what I did, ~1/2 tsp ground cinnamon and a small amount ~1/8-1/4 tsp? almond extract).
Serve warm.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

And Now Back to Our Regularly Scheduled Holiday Crap: Chewy Chocolate Coconut Macaroons

I've been really good lately in the avoidance-of-too-many-treats department. Got back on track for a good couple weeks after Thanksgiving. Alas, when one has a dinner party to go to...what is one to do?? Bring gnarly desserts of course! I like to tell myself that it's the LEAST I can do. ;-)
All of these suckers are getting left behind after we walk out the door.
These puppies are in the oven right now and I'll I can say is it's a good thing my Pop isn't here to smell them baking. They'd never get a chance to cool down before he wolfed 'em all up!
I used 2 baking sheets placed on 2 different racks to cook as many as possible in one go. But, I think they'd have fared much better all cooking on the same rack. When I baked a third sheet to use up the batter, the finished macaroon looked more like the Cooking Light photo, having spread a bit more than the first ones that went in.

The Verdict:
I could have eaten the whole bowl of batter before cooking these. The end result after baking, good, but not completely swoon worthy. I'll bet if I added some booze (rum? creme de cacao?) that would do the trick!
Oh and that dinner party got cancelled, but I got to leave most of these with my skinny friends anyway...whew! :-)

Chewy Chocolate-Coconut Macaroons:
(Cooking Light) recipe makes about 3 dozen

2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup sifted cake flour (I subbed 7 Tbs unbleached flour + 1 Tbs cornstarch and I might use a bit less flour if I make these again)
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 cups lightly packed flaked sweetened coconut
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (I'd try adding the same amount of a complimentary liquor next time too)
1 (14-ounce) can fat-free sweetened condensed milk (couldn't find the fat-free stuff)

Preheat oven to 250º.

Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper, and secure with masking tape.

Place unsweetened chocolate in a medium sized microwave-safe bowl. Microwave at high for 1 minute or until almost melted. Remove from microwave; stir until chocolate is completely melted. Mix in sweetened condensed milk and vanilla, stirring to combine.

Spoon flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife. Combine cake flour, unsweetened cocoa, and salt in a large bowl. Add coconut, and toss well.

Stir melted chocolate mixture into the coconut mixture (the mixture will be stiff).

Drop by level tablespoons 2 inches apart (I think you could put them closer together more like an inch apart) onto prepared baking sheet. Using a 1 Tb cookie scoop makes this go so much more easily). Bake at 250º for 45 minutes or until edges of cookies are firm and center of cookies are soft, rotating baking sheet once during baking time. Remove from oven, and cool 10 minutes on pan on a wire rack. Remove the cookies from the parchment paper, and cool completely on rack. Store in an airtight container.

(If you manage to find the fat-free sweetened condensed milk each cookie will be ~84 calories)

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Roasted Mushrooms with Garlic,Thyme and Balsamic Vinegar

Ok, this completely breaks Monster's "No Mushies EVER Law". But, I'm ok with that. It took me a long time to come to the realization that I could prepare stuff he didn't like at home for MYSELF.
It started with eggplant...pan roasting it with thyme til soft and delicious, then sprinkled with lemon juice. They could be eaten at my leisure, for a quick nosh during the day, reheated as a side that just didn't show up on his plate, etc.
Now, enter the mushroom. I'm really partial to portabellas. I always order them when we're in a restaurant since I don't cook mushrooms at home. Make that DIDN'T. The other day at Costco, I succumbed to a large 24oz. package of "baby bellas", ie. criminis. Not one to start out small like...
With just shy of a pounds worth, I made up a batch of vegetarian soup in the pressure cooker using sliced criminis, whole spelt and a nice touch of sherry. House smelled wonderful. Best thing of all, I just froze what I didn't eat for dinner. Money in the bank. That left me with about 10 oz of mushrooms. Enter Kalyn's Kitchen's recipe for roasted mushies. So simple, so good, and divine eaten alongside my French green lentils and leeks for lunch.
And so, I must encourage those out there that may have a partner/spouse that doesn't like something they do to say "So what!". And make it anyway. :-)

Roasted Mushrooms with Garlic, Thyme, and Balsamic Vinegar:
(Makes 4 side-dish servings, recipe found at Kalyn's Kitchen adapted slightly from Vegetables Every Day by Jack Bishop.)

1 lb. mushrooms (I used brown Crimini mushrooms)
2 T + 1 tsp. olive oil
salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
1 T finely minced garlic
1 T balsamic vinegar
2 T finely chopped fresh thyme leaves
1 T chopped fresh parsley (optional, for garnish)

Preheat oven to 400F/200C. Wash and dry mushrooms. Pull out stems and cut them in half.
Cut the caps into halves (or quarters if the mushrooms are large, which I did.)
Put mushrooms into bowl and toss with 2 T olive oil, salt, and fresh ground black pepper.
Give a baking sheet a quick spray of canola cooking spray (or a light coating of olive oil) then arrange mushrooms on the pan in a single layer. Spread them out as much as you can.

Roast mushrooms 15 minutes. While mushrooms cook, finely chop fresh thyme, then mix with minced garlic, balsamic vinegar, and the tsp. of olive oil.

After 15 minutes, drain off any liquid that has accumulated (this wasn't necessary with mine). Then toss the hot mushrooms into the bowl with garlic-thyme mixture.
Arrange back on roasting pan and cook about 10 minutes more. Serve hot, sprinkled with chopped fresh parsley if desired.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Eggless Salad Sammies

I was on my own the other night, so thought I'd whip up some eggless salad for a quick dinner sammie. I used The Happy Herbivore's recipe, following exactly as written this time. Next time I'd go ahead and add seasonings more slowly and just to my taste. Oh wait, one small change I made was in adding a couple dashes of Tabasco sauce. Because that's just how I roll.
The Monster and I enjoyed the rest for lunch the next day on a nice soft alternative grains bakery loaf and it was really great. Personally, I think a softer bread is the way to go with egg salad, be it eggless or eggy. The sprouted rye I ate it on originally was good, but not quite the same.

Eggless Salad:
(The Happy Herbivore)

12 ounces extra-firm tofu
1 Tbs low sodium soy sauce
1 whole celery stalk, minced
1¼ Tbs nutritional yeast (not the same stuff you'd use for baking for goodness sake :-)
1½ Tbs Dijon mustard
2 Tbs relish
½ tsp turmeric
¼ tsp mild curry powder
¼ tsp garlic powder
¼ tsp onion powder
½ tsp black salt (add salt judiciously to taste since there's already low sodium soy in this…oh and I just used sea salt)
2 Tbs vegan mayo (I use Spectrum brand lite vegan mayo)

If using firm tofu, press for at least 20 minutes. Give exrta-firm tofu a good squeeze before starting. Crumble tofu into a large mixing bowl. Add remaining ingredients and stir until well combined. Let set for a few minutes (this allows the flavor to merge but also enhances the yellow coloring). Stir again. Taste, adjusting spices as necessary. Add black pepper to taste and serve.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Mediterranean Style Spaghetti Squash

This was so unbelievably good. Even though I left out the olives! Didn't realize that I did until just now when I warmed some up for "second breakfast". :-)
As far I was was concerned, the sketti squash was the star and the chicken we ate with it could have all gone on the Monster's plate. This is super easy and you can toss in whatever veggies you'd like really. I think I'd planned on putting some shredded zucchini in, but ended up doing a quick saute on some spinach with the tomatoes. The original recipe was found on All Recipes and it's gonna be a keeper.

Mediterranean Style Spaghetti Squash:

1 spaghetti squash
~2 Tbs olive oil
1 onion (I didn't have the recipe in front of me and used 1/2 a red onion), chopped
1-2 cloves of garlic, minced
~12 cherry tomatoes, halved or equivalent of ripe tomato, chopped
baby spinach, coarsely chopped (I grabbed about 3 big handfuls, then chopped)
crumbled feta (original calls for 3/4 cup, but I know I used less than that)
~2 Tbs fresh basil, chopped
~3 Tbs black olives (I guess I'd planned on putting Kalamatas in, but blew that...great without)
salt and pepper

Heat oven to 375.
In a 9x13 baking dish, place squash halves cut-side down.
Fill dish with ~1/2 inch of water, cover with foil and bake for about 40-45 minutes.
Turn squash cut side up test for doneness with a knife, if not done continue cooking cut side up for ~10+ more minutes. You don't want this to be underdone, but if it's overdone it won't scrape into "noodles" when you scrape out the flesh with the tines of a fork.
When done, set aside until it's cool enough to handle. I prepared everything else, while this was cooling a bit.
Heat the oil in a skillet over med-high heat.
Saute onions with a touch of salt until soft, 8-10 min., then add garlic and saute just until fragrant, about a minute.
Add chopped tomatoes or halved cherry tomatoes and chopped spinach and cook only about 2-3 minutes more.
Remove from heat and place in a large bowl.
Add feta, basil and olives.
Drag a fork gently through the squash, teasing forth the strands of "noodly" goodness.
Add squash to tomato mixture and toss with salt and pepper to taste.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Salade sans Niçoises

Well, YOU can feel free to use real Niçoise olives in this meal, but I just happen to like Kalamatas better and have made a substitution. Hence my title…Salad Without Niçoises.

When I was a kid, my dad must have made a Salade Niçoise for dinner at least a couple times per month, hollering "à table!" to call the troops to the dining room. Always a favorite, I can't believe it's been so long since I've made one. This is a nice salad to throw together on a weeknight using canned tuna, or if you're feeling fancy you can buy sushi grade tuna steaks and do a quick sear on them. As written, my recipe makes enough for 2 large dinner portions.

Salade sans Niçoises:

2 Tbs red wine vinegar
1/2 tsp dijon mustard
1/2 tsp fresh minced tarragon
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
a touch of agave nectar if you'd like
~1 Tbs olive oil

1 6oz can of tuna, drained
2 hardboiled eggs (start eggs in cold water, when it comes to a boil, cover pot, turn off flame and let sit for 11 min…you won't get grey rings around your yolks)
~1/2 lb green beans
a couple of smallish Yukon gold potatoes
as many Kalamata olives as you'd like…or if you must, Niçoise. ;-)
salad greens, enough for 2 salads (I used Romaine this time)
optional: thinly sliced red onions are always nice if you like 'em...Monster, not a fan of the raw onion.

Mix red wine vinegar through olive oil to make your dressing.
Bring a pot of water to the boil and cook green beans until crisp tender, remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.Add potatoes to boiling water and cook for 8-10 minutes, or until they are easily pierced with a fork.I like to place the greens on the plate and toss with a little dressing first.
Then add the green beans to the dressing bowl and toss to coat. Add that to the center of your greens. Then same goes for the potatoes…roll in dressing bowl then arrange on the greens. Add the tuna, eggs, and olives to your salad and add any extra dressing to the top of those. Add a few more drops of olive oil on top if you care to.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Vegan Gingerbread French Toast

I was searching for recipes the other day for something that might be suitable to make for a quickie Christmas morning breakfast. Something that felt holiday-y, but wasn't just awash with empty calories.
We gave this recipe from the Happy Herbavore a dry run on Sunday and although it felt like a treat, it didn't leave us feeling heavy for the rest of the day. I've never loved the egginess of typical French toast. Must be the sweet-eggy combo I don't like. Vegan recipe to the rescue!
Give it a try. Specially if you're out of eggs. :-) I might try it with an artisan whole grain boule next time. (update: Had this again Christmas morning and it was so nice with made with aforementioned crusty whole-grain boule...let it soak up the batter well and it'll be wonderful)

On another note...jeez, I'd better get back in the habit of posting my kitchen adventures before I forget 'em. I made a super simple dish the other night that I'm calling Swiss Chard Nabe (nah-beh). Probably completely misnamed, but I had a bowl of comfort from a Japanese fusion restaurant in Austin that they called Take Nabe...made my toes curl from the goodness. A bowl of sushi rice, topped with enoki mushrooms, a gooey egg, lemon zest, and dancing, prancing bonito flakes. Ohmydog. So good.
I WILL be making my at home version from last night again soon and must write up the oh-so- simple "recipe". Did I take a picture last night? Of course not.

And so...

Vegan Gingerbread French Toast:
(The Happy Herbavore)

8 whole wheat bread slices (we used 6 slices)
1 cup unsweetened plain soy milk
¼ cup pure maple syrup
¼ cup chickpea flour (I'll pass through fine mesh sieve first next time since mine seemed courser than normal and a lot of it sank to the bottom of the batter bowl and didn't stick...oh and look for this in an Indian grocery store [or Fiesta in Texas] under the name Besan Flour)
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
½ tsp fresh ground nutmeg
¼ tsp cloves (I used less)

Heat griddle to 350 (or heat a regular pan over med-high heat after you've mixed your batter).

Whisk all ingredients (except bread) together and pour into a shallow dish.

Soak bread slices in the milk mixture and then transfer to the heated, oiled/Earth Balanced griddle. Cook each side for about two minutes or until slightly brown and crisp.

Great topped with chopped crystalized ginger, pecans and Greek yogurt (decidedly NOT vegan).