May 16, 2012 § 1 Comment
I have been really into poppy seeds recently. I haven’t actually used them in any way other than this cake since stocking up recently, but I keep finding recipes that interest me, seeing pictures that inspire me and coming up with ideas that excite me. After the hand laceration I mentioned in my previous post, I was unable to make the dinner I was planning so we went out to a favorite restaurant and tried their Spinach and Poppy Seed Salad. A lot of these menu items are a simple combination of a few ingredients but really perfectly put together. The salad, like their other salads, is endlessly satisfying, largely because of the effortless execution.
The poppy seeds in that salad have had me hyper-aware of them and their potential. While the combination of poppy seeds and lemon in the form of a baked good isn’t exactly new, I decided to go with the obvious before experimenting.
In the midst of poppy seed obsession, I was just reminded of this (originally lemon-free) recipe by The Wednesday Chef and immediately wanted to add lemon. This recipe is absolutely stuffed with poppy seeds and the lemon flavor adds just what you would hope. I also took the liberty to use whole wheat pastry flour and unrefined sugar, which doesn’t take away from a thing.
1 year ago, today: Chocolate Peanut Butter Sandwich Cookies
Lemon-Poppy Seed Snacking Cake:
adapted from Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone
makes 1 5″x9″ loaf cake
– 1 1/4 cup milk, warm
– 1 cup poppy seeds
– 2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
– 1 tsp baking powder
– 1 tsp baking soda
– 1/2 tsp salt
– 3 eggs
– 1 tsp vanilla extract
– 1/2 cup butter, room temperature
– 1 cup granulated sugar (I used evaporated cane juice)
– 1 tbsp lemon zest (approx. 1 medium lemon)
– 3/4 cup milk (2% milk fat is fine)
– 1/4 cup lemon juice (approx. 1 well-squeezed medium lemon)
Combine warm milk and poppy seeds, set aside to soak. Heat oven to 375 degrees F. Butter and flour a 5″x9″ loaf pan. Set a sifter over a mixing bowl and sift whole wheat pastry flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Separate egg white from yolks, placing whites in a large mixing bowl and yolks in a small prep bowl. Add vanilla extract to the yolks and set aside. Using a whisk or electric mixer, beat the egg whites on high until firm/moist peaks begin to form. Transfer the whipped egg whites into a small bowl. Combine sugar and lemon zest to release the essential oils in the zest. Place in the (now empty) large mixing bowl with the butter and, using a wooden spoon or an electric mixture, beat until light and fluffy. Continue beating to mix in egg yolks, adding one at a time. Combine milk and lemon juice and beat in 1/3 of the liquid mixture until almost incorporated, then 1/2 of the dry mixture until almost incorporated, 1/3 of the liquid mixture until almost incorporated, the remaining dry mixture until almost incorporated and the remaining liquid mixture until incorporated. Using a rubber spatula, fold in egg whites until fully incorporated. Transfer to prepared loaf pan and bake for 40-50 minutes.
May 12, 2012 § Leave a comment
I am really loving this salad for my lunches right now, but the first trial I made last week was just okay. I knew it could be better but I needed inspiration. When I was finishing one of the last servings, I diced a baby avocado into the bowl and loved the difference it made. The creamy richness satiated me in a way that cheese might.
Since avocados are bonkers right now, I bought a couple more to use in the same way but then I had a bit of an accident. I carelessly attempted to stab the pit out while being distracted by the television and literally stabbed myself in the hand. A few stitches later, I had to put off re-visiting the salad. There hasn’t a whole lot of cooking this week – I am on “light duty” at work and it could not be more boring. Today though, my hand is still stitched, but I am doing better! And I still wanted to recreate that salad. With the avocados long gone, I decided to get that creamy, satiating element from a soft cheese. Not as healthy, but still satisfying. I also bumped up the spice and the sweet in this version, and I have found success.
– 8 oz dried garbanzo beans, soaked and cooked
– 8 oz wheat berries, soaked for 30 minutes+ before cooking
– 3 cloves garlic, minced
– 2 tsp smoked paprika
– 1 tsp cumin
– 1 tsp turmeric
– 5 oz (1 1/2 cups) walnuts, toasted
– 1 small shallot, thinly sliced
– 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
– 2 tbsp lemon juice (1/2 a lemon or just use 1/4 cup total of apple cider vinegar)
– 1 tbsp honey
– 1/3 cup olive oil
– 8 oz baby spinach (or regular spinach, chopped)
– 6 oz chevre
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Toss cooked garbanzo beans with garlic, paprika, cumin, turmeric, salt & pepper and a couple tablespoons of oil. Empty onto a baking sheet and roast for 15-20 minutes or until crisp on the outside, remove from the oven to cool. Strain soaked wheat berries and cover with a couple inches of salted water in a pot and bring to a boil, down to a simmer until tender but still chewy, 15-30 minutes depending on soaking time. Strain and shock with cold running water. While the beans and wheat berries cook and cool, let the sliced shallot soak in the lemon juice and vinegar. When ready to assemble all components, add honey, salt and pepper and whisk in oil. Combine cooled garbanzo beans, wheat berries and walnuts with spinach and dress with vinaigrette. Serve with crumbled chevre.
May 7, 2012 § 1 Comment
After posting a couple of recipes that celebrate the season, I thought it might be nice to share something that takes advantage of a well-stocked pantry. A soup like this is delicious in early May, but it would also be appropriate at the end of summer when your pantry might be stocked with newly canned tomatoes. It could also be perfect in the dead-middle-of-winter by swapping the fresh marjoram for an herb that survives the frost, or even using dried herbs that are tossed into the pot with the garlic and red pepper flakes.
Rather than letting the garbanzo beans give the soup texture, I decided to puree them into the tomatoes and add chewy wheat berries for contrast. There is a little bit of sweet, a little bit of heat and a generous amount of floral flavor in this wonderfully creamy (but cream-less) soup.
– 10 oz dried garbanzo beans, soaked and cooked
– 6 oz wheat berries (soaked for 30 minutes or longer if time permits)
– 2 cloves garlic, minced
– 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
– 1/4 tsp raw sugar
– 2 14.5 oz cans diced tomatoes
– 4 cups stock
– 1/2-1 oz fresh marjoram, removed from stems and roughly chopped
– salt & pepper
– parmesan to garnish
Place wheat berries in a small saucepan and cover with water by a few inches. Add a bit of salt and bring to a boil, down to a simmer. Cook until tender but still chewy, 15-30 minutes depending on whether they are soaked. In a larger pot, heat a bit of oil over a medium-high heat and add garlic, red pepper flakes and sugar. Stir and cook for 1-2 minutes, then add diced tomatoes. Lightly cook the tomatoes until most of the moisture has been cooked out, 4-5 minutes. Add stock and cooked garbanzo beans and bring to a boil, down to a simmer while wheat berries continue cooking. Drain cooked wheat berries and transfer the tomato/garbanzo bean mixture to a blender to puree in batches (remove the cap and cover the hole with a paper towel). Return to the pot and add most of the wheat berries (reserving 1 tbsp per serving to garnish) and most of the marjoram (reserving 1 scant tsp per serving to garnish) and cook for 5-10 minutes longer. Serve in soup with a sprinkle of cooked wheat berries, a dusting of freshly grated parmesan cheese and a sprinkle of marjoram.
May 3, 2012 § Leave a comment
After much anticipation, local young asparagus is finally here. Quickly sauteed in lots of butter with salt, pepper and a pinch of red pepper flakes, they are perfect. Tossed with plump, fluffy gnocchi and toasted walnuts is just icing on the cake.
I blogged about gnocchi about six months ago and I have since continued to make it every couple of months. The large difference between that recipe and today’s is the accompaniments: delicata squash was perfect for the autumn, while early asparagus must be utilized right now. Sage and asiago cheese added richness in that first recipe, as we needed comfort heading into the winter months, while toasted walnuts are all that is needed here to add a bit of crunch without compromising freshness. The less obvious but more important change here is the choice of flour. I attempted to use only whole wheat flour in October and chose white whole wheat which is lighter tasting than traditional whole wheat. The problem with this choice is that the white whole wheat flour doesn’t have the gluten levels found in a more processed flour. It still works in this recipe, but using some white flour (Bread flour or All-Purpose) with a bit of whole wheat flour will give you a fluffier and more satisfying dumpling.
These dumplings don’t make great leftovers, so try to make only what is needed. This recipe will serve four people.
1 year ago, today: Watercress and Potato Puree with Corn and Bacon
Potato Gnocchi with Asparagus and Walnuts:
– 1 lb + 6 oz russet potatoes, boiled, peeled and dried out in 300 degree F. oven for 10 minutes
– 1 tsp salt, 1 tsp pepper
– 1 tsp dried ground sage
– 4 oz flour – I used 3 oz bread flour and 1 oz whole wheat flour
– 4 oz walnuts (1 1/4 cup), roughly chopped
– 1/2 cup butter
– 2 bunches asparagus, sliced on the bias 1″
– pinch red pepper flakes
– salt & pepper
Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil and leave covered. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Grate boiled and dried potatoes into a mixing bowl, adding salt, pepper and sage. Add flour while beginning to knead the dough and continue kneading until it comes together. Cut the dough into 4 equal pieces and then roll each piece into a long cylinder, penny-sized in diameter. Cut each cylinder into 1 inch pieces. Use a gnocchi paddle or two forks to make the characteristic indentations and set aside briefly without letting them stick to the surface or each other using a bit of flour. Toast walnuts in preheated oven for 10 minutes or until fragrant. Melt half of the butter (1/4 cup) in a saute pan or cast iron skillet on a medium high heat. Briefly saute the asparagus with the red pepper flakes, salt and pepper so they soften slightly but remain bright green. Transfer to a serving bowl along with the toasted walnuts while you cook the gnocchi. Cook the gnocchi in the boiling water in batches (the size recipe should fit in a large dutch oven in one batch but breaking it up into 2 or 3 batches won’t take much longer). Melt the remaining butter in the saute pan over a medium low heat. As the gnocchi float to the surface, scoop them in fine meshed sieve and sear in the butter in batches. Toss gnocchi with asparagus and walnuts and serve.
April 29, 2012 § Leave a comment
I was finally able to get asparagus at yesterday’s market – shockingly tender, thin, beautiful asparagus. In the meantime until I am able to get that recipe up, I have a recipe that makes use of more of last week’s young allium, still at peak. I picked up some beautiful ramps along with that young garlic I used in these rice balls. The sharp but fresh, subtle leek flavor of these ramps is intense and wonderful when toned down with vinegar. This salad, however, has so much more than a bit of raw-onion flavor. This salad is packed. Earthy, firm yet tender lentils are simply lovely, but a few more ingredients make them absolutely addictive.
The combination of currants, red onion (which I replaced with ramps) and capers is what drew me to this recipe; it sounded unique but completely perfect. What makes this salad so crazy is actually the vinaigrette. It packs a ton of spices and the Southeast Asian flavors somehow are perfect with the other bold ingredients: sweet and chewy currants, plump and briny capers, tangy feta and deeply sweet maple syrup. This recipe takes advantage of a global pantry. It is hard to explain just how delicious a humble lentil salad can be, but this recipe has a lot going on.
French Green Lentils are used here, but you could also use Black Beluga lentils with great success. Avoid plain brown, green or red lentils as they lack the firm texture of a French Green or Black Beluga. And avoid overcooking for the same reason. The salad gets better and better after sitting in the refrigerator for a day or two, as the flavors become acquainted.
1 year ago, today: Chicken Korma
Lentil Salad with Ramps, Currants, Capers, Almonds and Feta:
adapted from My New Roots
– 1 lb french green lentils (or black beluga, NOT red or brown lentils)
– 1/2 cup currants
– 1/2 cup almonds (raw or toasted), roughly chopped
– 1/3 cup capers
– 1/4 lb feta
– 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
– 4 oz ramps (1 small bunch), greens discarded/white and red portion thinly sliced
– 1 tsp cumin
– 1/2 tsp turmeric
– 1/2 tsp coriander
– 1/2 tsp cardamom
– 1/4 tsp cayenne
– 1/4 tsp cloves
– 1/4 tsp nutmeg
– 1/4 tsp cinnamon
– 1 tbsp maple syrup
– 1 tbsp whole grain mustard
– salt & pepper
– 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Rinse lentils in a fine-meshed sieve and transfer to a small pot. Cover with water by several inches and bring to a boil, down to a simmer for 10-15 minutes longer or until the lentils are fully cooked but before they have lost their texture (mushy lentils are no good in a salad). Strain into a fine-meshed sieve and rinse with cold water to cool quickly. While the lentils are cooking, prepare the vinaigrette: transfer the sliced ramps to a small bowl and cover with the vinegar. Add all of the spices and let the ramps soak in the vinegar while the lentils cook and cool. Whisk in maple syrup and mustard, then oil and season to taste. Toss cooled lentils (they don’t have to be completely cool, you just don’t want the lentils to end up cooking the other ingredients) with currants, almonds, capers and the vinaigrette. Crumble feta over servings and enjoy.
April 24, 2012 § 3 Comments
I haven’t been around here in quite some time, but I am back now and just in time for this Spring’s first peas. We have been using spring vegetables like asparagus and snap peas at work for about a month already, but they have been coming from Mexico or California. I guess my seasonal expectations have been artificially raised because I keep expecting to see these vegetables flooding the market. This week it was mostly greens. Lots of microgreens and lots of the kale and swiss chard we saw all winter. Everything looks so green and seasonally appropriate, but still lacking the particular items I look forward to eating for just a few weeks out of the year.
While there wasn’t a plethora of asparagus and peas, I did see one or two vendors selling asparagus and I was able to grab one lone pint of shelling peas – this was just a half hour after the market opened so there could not have been many more to start out with. A closer look between the rows and rows of arugula and various rabes (broccoli, cabbage, kale) revealed another seasonal specialty: young allium. Ramps, young garlic and onions. They have the harsh flavor of the mature varieties, but it is still palatable and fresh tasting. You can find green onions at the grocery store year-round, but the flavor won’t compare to the in-season versions.
These early peas are completely crisp and so sweet. Tossed in warm rice, they are slightly cooked to become just a bit tender. Their juice pops for a sweet contrast in the sticky rice. Young garlic adds a strong, pungent yet fresh flavor that you can only find this time of year with allium that you can eat raw. Sesame and Sunflower seeds add some texture and the flavor of the sesame is enhanced by a creamy tahini dressing I whipped up.
Heidi from 101 Cookbooks posted the recipe for these rice balls about a month ago and I immediately wanted to make them. I have been crazy about rice over the last few weeks so it was the perfect time to add a new rice to my pantry. Despite my love for whole grains, brown rice rice hasn’t ever appealed to me as much as fluffy, perfectly steamed white rice. I have basically gone without rice for quite some time for this reason. Recently, something changed and I cannot get enough rice. Short-Grain Brown Rice, Brown Basmati Rice, Black Forbidden Rice and now Sweet Brown Rice have become regular pantry items.
1 year ago, today: Rigatoni in a Cheddar-Goat Cheese Sauce with Braised Rabbit
Sweet Brown Rice Balls with Sesame and Sunflower Seeds, Green Garlic and Peas:
adapted from 101 Cookbooks
– 2 cups sweet brown rice, soaked 1-8 hours if time permits
– 3 cups water
– 1/4 cup sesame seeds
– 1/4 cup sunflower seeds
– 4 oz green garlic, mince the white portions/thinly slice the green portions
– 2-3 oz shelled green peas (I started with 7 oz of peas including the shells)
– 1 tbsp rice vinegar
– 1/2 cup tahini
– 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
– 1 clove garlic, minced
– 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
Place rice and water in a saucepan with a bit of salt. Bring to a boil, cover with a tight-fitting lid and reduce to a low heat. Let rice steam for 25-60 minutes (a longer soaking time will result in a shorter cooking time). Transfer rice to a larger bowl and fluff. Allow to cool slightly at room temperature for 15-20 minutes and add sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, green garlic, peas and rice vinegar. The rice should still be warm enough to ever so slightly wilt the vegetables. Combine the ingredients and taste to season. Set up your work station with 2 teacup-sized prep bowls and a sheet of parchment paper. Fill one prep bowl with water and place a generous square of plastic wrap over the second bowl. You will be placing any desired amount of the rice mixture into the bowl with the plastic wrap and then using the plastic to tighten it into a ball shape. Throughout this process, keep your fingers and the plastic wrap moist by dipping your fingers in the bowl with water in it. Place the shaped balls on the parchment paper. Combine all the ingredients for the tahini sauce and add water to thin (1/4 cup at a time) and serve rice balls with sauce.
January 29, 2012 § 1 Comment
There are a few recipes in my archives that I took my sweet time to post. I must have made these cookies five times before I remembered to take pictures. I worked on this pizza dough all summer before I felt confident hitting publish. It took me months to remember I should make this gnocchi during the day so that I could actually take pictures. And now this, a baked pasta that has become an almost bi-weekly dinner since September. Well-tested to say the least.
Matt tasked me with making a ricotta-less lasagna sometime this past summer because it is one of his favorite foods, but ricotta is a dairy product that his body can’t tolerate. I put a simple bechamel (as most of these recipes may suggest, he deals with butter okay) between layers of tomato sauce, sheets of pasta and grilled summer squash. We enjoyed this version, but I decided to come up with something a bit more healthful because after years of not having lasagna, I knew Matt would be wanting to eat this pretty frequently. In place of a ricotta OR bechamel layer, I came up with a white bean sauce which is basically a Tuscan-style white bean dip (canellinni beans pureed with garlic oil and fresh herbs) which is thinned with stock. It is rich, creamy and flavorful, the perfect stand-in for saturated fat.
While most baked pasta dishes are full of ricotta and mozzarella, this one is completely vegan until you garnish it with cheese and full of the fiber and protein of canellinni beans. So, yeah this is a healthy alternative to a traditional baked ziti or lasagna since it lacks the saturated fat you find in dairy AND it is a cheaper alternative since beans are dirt cheap compared to cheese. However, this rigatoni is rich with flavor and I hate to think of it as an alternative or in terms of a traditional baked ziti. It is perfectly wholesome and delicious so it is needless to make comparisons. If you want some cheese, add some cheese. Instead of broccoli, you could try some lightly sauteed greens. Fresh tomatoes, bell peppers and eggplants would also be great when seasonally appropriate. I almost always par-cook the broccoli by blanching it when the pasta is almost done just for the sake of ease, but roasting the broccoli is also a terrific option.
What makes this pasta dish so delicious is the aromatics. The fresh herbs are important, but the rosemary and oregano can certainly be substituted with other herbs depending on the season or your preferences. The garlic oil really makes the dish. To make garlic oil, cover some garlic with olive oil and place in a 400 degree F. oven for 20-30 minutes, or until golden. Both the garlic and the oil reach new heights and become crazy rich and flavorful. The garlic is like candy and I tend to eat about a bulb’s worth straight out of the oven, but you can use it in any number of applications. I have made this dish without the garlic oil and just pureed one or two cloves of garlic into the sauce, but it is definitely much better with the garlic-infused oil.
1 year ago, today: Espresso Brownies
White Bean and Tomato Baked Rigatoni:
This dish has the creamy richness of a baked ziti, but it doesn’t have the same chewy, stickiness that you would expect. This particular quality doesn’t bother me in the least, but you should be aware of this because if you keep it in the oven too long, hoping for that thick, stringy quality, the beans will dry out. The finished product is best baked for just 15 minutes, slightly browned on top, but still very saucy within.
– 1 lb dried rigatoni
– 1 1/2 lb broccoli, chopped into florets
– 4″x4″ piece of day-old bread
– 3 cups cooked canellinni beans
– 3/4 cup garlic-infused olive oil*
– approx. 1/2 cup stock
– pinch crushed red pepper flakes
– salt & pepper
– 1 sprig rosemary, minced
– 1 sprig oregano, minced
– 18 fl oz prepared tomato sauce (homemade, or your favorite brand)
– asiago cheese for serving
– parsley for garnish
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Bring a large pot of well salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook for one minute less than directed, adding the broccoli to the pot in the last two minute of the cooking time. Strain and rinse with cold water and allow to cool. Run the bread through a food processor to create bread crumbs and place on a greased baking sheet, bake for 5-10 minutes, stirring once or twice, until well toasted. Pour canellinni beans into the bowl of a food processor and begin blending. Slowly add olive oil while blending. Add broth very slowly while blending to thin until the proper consistency; it should be spreadable and pourable more like a bechamel than ricotta. Season with crushed red pepper, salt and pepper and blend. Mix in the minced herbs and combine with the tomato sauce, pasta and broccoli in a mixing bowl. Taste for seasoning and pour into a greased 9×13 baking dish. Cover with toasted bread crumbs. Bake uncovered for 15 minutes. Garnish servings with grated asiago and parsley.
* to infuse garlic with oil, cover a few bulbs of peeled garlic cloves with olive and roast in a 400 degree F. oven until golden. Use garlic however you like; I like to throw it on pizza when it is coming out of the oven or use it in this barley.