Saturday, October 30, 2010

Yogurt Nan

Ever buy one of those giant tubs of plain yogurt and then realize it's weeks later and you must use it up immediately or toss it out? That exact situation was the inspiration for my searching for and deciding upon this recipe.

A success! My toddler, especially, enjoys these breads, and using the freezer and the oven methods I've been able to bake fresh bread for her even on weekday (work) mornings. What a treat, to have hot steamy fresh bread available each morning. Totally worth taking the time for the preparation on a weekday night or weekend morning.

Yogurt Nan
from Mollie Katzen's Sunlight Cafe

1/4 cup wrist-temperature water
1 1/4 tsp yeast (1/2 a package)
pinch of sugar
1 cup plain yogurt
1 Tbs olive oil or unsalted butter, melted (plus extra for brushing the breads)
3/4 tsp salt
2 cups plus 2 Tbs unbleached all-purpose flour (plus more for handling dough)
cornmeal (opt)
coarse salt (opt)

Place the water in a med-size bowl. Sprinkle in the yeast and sugar, and let it stand for 5 mins. Add yogurt, olive oil or melted butter, and salt and whisk until smooth.

Add one cup of the flour, whisking until it is incorporated. Switch to a wooden spoon, and mix in the remaining flour. Lightly flour your hands and knead the dough, still in the bowl, for a minute or two, or until the dough is smooth (it will be quite soft).

Gently lift the dough, spray/spread the bowl underneath it with oil and then put the dough back down. Lightly spray its top surface with oil as well. Cover the bowl with a clean tea towl and leave it in a warm place for about 1 1/2 hours, or until doubled in bulk.

When the dough has risen, lightly flour your fist, punch down the dough, and turn it out onto a clean, floured work surface. The dough will be very soft and slightly wet. Use a knife or kitchen scissors to cut the dough into 8 equal pieces, then briefly shape each piece into a ball with your hands. Let the balls rest for 5 mins.

Generously flour a rolling pin and the work surface, and without kneading or handling the "rested" balls, roll each one into a very thin circle 7 to 8 inches in diameter. The breads are now ready to cook [or freeze].

To Freeze: line a plate with plastic wrap and place a rolled-out, unbaked flatbread on top. Lay a piece of plastic wrap on top of the bread. Continue layering plastic wrap and rolled-out flatbreads. Seal the whole thing including plate in a large ziplock and place in freezer for about 45 mins. Remove the plate and plastic wrap and place the separately frozen breads back into the bag. Will keep for a month in the freezer. You can bake them as needed, one or more at a time, straight from the freezer. (They are so thin the fact that they are frozen does not increase their cooking time.)

Cooking with the Oven Method (there's also a griddle method, which I do not record here): Preheat the oven to 450F. Oil a baking tray or sprinkle lightly with cornmeal or flour. Lay the breads flat on the tray and bake for about 5 mins. Turn them over and bake for 5 minutes more or until golden brown in spots but still supple.

Brush the tops with olive oil or melted butter and sprinkle with course salt, if desired. Serve hot or warm.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Beet Casserole

If you were just thinking: I wonder what other delightful beet dishes Well-Cookbooked has tried lately? than this post is sure to please! (And even if you weren't thinking that, I think this is a recipe you can still enjoy.)

Technically I didn't so much cook this recipe as I did pick it out of a book and tell my husband to make it. But I did the cookbook perusal and the shopping for ingredients, so I'm including it and counting it toward my 5-recipes-from-each-book goal.

Russian Beet Casserole
Preheat oven to 400 F.

Steam until soft: 
3 1/2 peeled and chopped beets (about 6 med sized)
1 3/4 chopped onion

Mix with:
2 1/2 cups grated sharp cheddar
Scant 1 cup plain yogurt
1/8 tsp each salt & pepper

Bake 10 mins. The cheese seems to disappear if overcooked.

Serve over rice, noodles or toast.

My favorite beet recipe so far! I was surprised, actually, because while I'd picked the recipe because it'd use up a good portion of beets, I wasn't really expecting to like it. But I did--it was scrumptious! The beets were al dente (though cooked enough to be sweet, since raw beets can be bitter) and the onion was a savoury touch, but then the sharp cheddar was, well, cheesy and the yogurt was slightly sour... All together it was complex and delicious. I would definitely make this recipe again.

Having this dish turn out so well makes me look forward to trying out other recipes from the cookbook. This came from Simply Vegetarian! [yes, complete with exclamation point]. My copy is the revised edition from 1989 with Nancy Mair and Susan Rinzler.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Russian Salad

I was able to try out a new cookbook today:

Susan R. Friedland's Shabbat Shalom: Recipes and Menus for the Sabbath.

I actually bought this cookbook for my father last spring. And I suppose I still mean to send it to him, though I seem to have forgotten to pack it up and ship it to him prior to either Father's Day or his birthday. (Am I really that cookbook obsessed that I can't let one out of my grasp? Not even one purchased as a gift for someone? Hmmm...) Well, it'll make it out to him eventually. And in the meantime, I can make a recipe or two and let him know how they turn out. It'll be all part of his gift. I'm helping him decide which recipes are good.

Today I was dealing with a serious beet overstock situation. I was making a triple batch of borscht and needed a side dish. Happily, this salad was a snappy side for my soup and used-up even more beets.

Russian Salad
1 lb beets
2 lbs potatoes
1 cup cubed carrot
1 cup shelled peas, fresh or frozen
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 tsp dry mustard
2 tsp white-wine vinegar
2 Tbls olive oil
1 cup minced scallion
2 medium cucumbers,  seeded and cubed
2 hard-boiled eggs
2 Tbls capers [I omitted these. Didn't have any.]
1/4 cup minced dill

My short-hand version of her directions:

First cook the beets (steam them in a covered dish in the oven until tender--about 50-90 mins). And you boil the potatoes until tender. Both beets & potatoes should then be cooled and then eventually skinned and cut into same-sized pieces.

Boil the carrot in salted water for 15 mins and add the peas for the last 15 seconds. Drain.

Mix the mayo, mustard, vinegar, olive oil, and scallion together to make the dressing.

Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving. Garnish with the hard-boiled eggs and capers [if you have them] and dill.

Purple food is the best!

Very tasty. I'm not usually one to single the praises of cold potato anything, but adding the cucumber, peas, and beets to the potatoes gave this salad a sophistication far beyond anything its plain potato salad cousin can muster. I do believe I'll make this again.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Pumpkin Saag

One small pumpkin, tons of garlic, a section of fresh ginger that needs to be used up, and what seems to be acres upon acres of chard... What's a woman to make?

Rainbow chard. It's pretty and grows & grows & grows...

I decided to focus on the pumpkin and searched through a few cookbooks for inspiration, finally alighting on Moskowitz & Romero's Veganomicon Their recipe for Pumpkin Saag was easily adapted to assist me with my I-have-so-much-chard-I-could-scream situation.

Pumpkin Saag
3 pounds sugar pumpkin
3 Tbls oil [the recipe calls for peanut oil, but due to daughter's allergy I used olive]
1 large onion, diced finely
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 teaspoon garam masala 
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
1 cup water
1-inch cube fresh ginger, peeled
2 bunches fresh spinach chard greens, washed well and chopped coarsely
juice of 1/2 lime [I used the cheater plastic-lime kind]

First they have you cut the pumpkin in half (clean out the stringy insides and the seeds) and bake the two halves cut-side-down on a cookie sheet at 350 F for about 45 mins. Then you let the pumpkin cool completely and, once cool, you peel off the tough skin and chop the pumpkin up into 1 inch cubes.

Next you saute the onions in oil for a few minutes, then add the garlic and saute for a few more minutes.

Once the onions and garlic are lightly browned, you add the pumpkin and cook until heated (about 3 mins). Add the spices and salt and ginger. Add the water and cook for 5 minutes, mixing often. Finally, add the greens in batches, mixing well after each addition.

Cook for another 10 minutes or so, stirring often. Add the lime. Adjust the salt. Allow to sit for a bit before serving.

The cookbook suggests pairing this with basmati rice, chutney and flat bread, which would have been good, but we kept it simple and served it atop brown rice.

It was delish, and made for tasty, beautifully aromatic leftovers to take to work.