Monday, April 30, 2012

Perfect for a Hunger Games Theme Luncheon

Here's a recipe I used to make often but had forgotten about until just now.  It's been a while, but I'm planning to put it together again this summer.

Pita with Creamy Zucchini
from Student's Vegetarian Cookbook by Carole Raymond

  • 1 medium zucchini, shredded
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 lg clove garlic, minced
  • 1/4 tsp mint, dried (more if fresh)
  • 1/2 tsp oregano, dried (more if fresh)
  • 1 Tbsp plain yogurt
  • salt & pepper
  • 1 whole wheat pita bread, split in half

  1. Shred the zucchini on the coarse side of a handheld grater with the largest holes.
  2. In a medium skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Saute the garlic, zucchini, mint, and oregano, stirring often, until the zucchini is firm-tender and bright green, about 5 mins.
  3. Remove from the heat;  stir in the yogurt. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Scoop the filling into the warm pocket bread halves. 
Yield:  1 serving
This was one of my favorite go-to lunches; I can't believe it been so long since I've made it. Well, forgotten no more, little pita, no more.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

No Whey. Yes, Whey!

Plain yogurt is the bane of my existence. (Okay, not true. I live a privileged life--most food writers do--but not that privileged. However, for the purposes of this post, just go with it.)  Every other month I place a container of plain yogurt in my cart, convinced I will enjoy its wholesome taste the next breakfast.  Think of the parfaits! my heart sings. Upon returning home the supermarket trance breaks, and I remember I don't routinely stock granola or fresh berries (coffee with perhaps a slice of toast are generally all I can rustle first thing in the morning). The unsweetened dairy is slowly buried in the fridge behind ketchup and pickles.  I invariably rediscover the container weeks later and am faced with that most fearful of all challenges: make something amazing that very day from four cups of nearly expired plain yogurt or else toss it all out and prove myself unworthy of life itself. (Something like that.)

This most recent near-yogurtpocalypse I maintained my composure and rescued the entire container from ruin. I've already blogged about using a cup for a sauce;  I then separated the remaining yogurt into whey and cream cheese.

Whey and Cream Cheese
from Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon

  • 2 quarts piima milk, whole-milk buttermilk, yogurt, or raw milk
[...]When using yogurt (either homemade or good quality commercial plain yogurt): 

Line a large strainer set over a bowl with a clean dish towel. Pour in the yogurt... cover and let stand at room temperature for several hours or longer. The whey will run into the bowl and the milk solids will stay in the strainer. Tie up the towel with the milk solids inside, being careful not to squeeze. Tie this little sack to a wooden spoon placed across the top of a container so that more whey can drip out. When the bag stop dripped, the cheese is ready. Store whey in a mason jar and cream cheese in a covered glass container. Refrigerated, the cream cheese keeps for about 1 month and the whey for about 6 months.
Makes 5 cups whey and 2 cups cream cheese 

I had less yogurt to begin with and thus gleaned far less than the five and two cups noted in the recipe. Nevertheless the amount of cream cheese was perfect for at least one week's worth of breakfast toast, and the whey, since I am forgetful of its existence and unpracticed in its uses, is still in the fridge, ready for use.

Disaster averted. This time.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Rock'n Moroccan Passover Casserole!

Before baking.
(Once baked it looks exactly the same except for browner.)

I know once upon a time I told you I'd stay away from making untested main dishes for holidays, but turns out I can't help myself. Finding Passover-friendly meals from what I had in my cupboard/fridge was a fun challenge. And I'm glad I went ahead with it, otherwise I wouldn't have served this dish. Plus, it amuses me that my previous main-dish-for-holiday-fiasco and this sucessful dish are both Moroccan-style.

The cookbook says this casserole is "popular Moroccan Passover fare," and I can see why. Delicious! Go, Morocco!

Moroccan Mashed Potato Casserole (Batata bil Firan)
  • 2 lbs unpeeled baking (russet) potatoes, scrubbed
  • 2 tsp table salt or 4 tsp kosher salt
  • 3 Tbls vegetable oil
  • 3 onions, chopped
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, mashed (optional)
  • 6 large eggs
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1/4 tsp ground tumeric
  • 1 carrot, diced and cooked until tender
  • 1 cup green peas or 4 scallions, sliced
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley or cilantro
  1. Put the potatoes in a large pot and add cold water to cover by 1 inch and 1 teaspoon of the table salt or 2 teaspoons of the kosher salt. Bring to a low boil, reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, until fork-tender, about 25 mins. Drain. Peel the potatoes while still warm, run them through a food mill or ricer or mash with a potato masher.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  3. In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onions and saute until lightly golden, about 15 mins. If using, add the garlic and saute for 1 minute.
  4. Beat the eggs into the potatoes, one at a time. Stir in the remaining salt, the pepper, and tumeric. Add the onions, cooked carrot, peas, and parsley.
  5. Generously oil a shallow 8-cup baking dish, such as an 8-inch square or 7-by-11-inch dish, then heat in the oven until hot, about 3 mins. Carefully spoon the potato mixture into hte baking dish. Bake until golden and set, about 50 mins. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Dairy Potato Casserole: Reduce the eggs t o2 adn add 1 cup cream cheese or 1 cup sour cream, or 3/4 cup cream chees and 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese. Bake the casserole for about 40 mins, sprinkle with 1/2 cup grated Parmesan or shredded Cheddar cheese, and continue baking for about 10 mins.
I made the straight recipe, omitting the peas because I didn't have any on-hand. I'm glad I caught that the carrot was to be added already-cooked (zapped it in the microwave). And it was great.

I'd make this again in a flash. More satisfying than plain mashed potatoes so a big serving can be served as a main dish or a smaller scoop could be a side.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Baked Apples

ready for the baking

I made an attempt at a Passover meal this year and was pleased with the results. Also, it was a fantastic opportunity to use my cookbooks!

Starting with the last first, here is the evening's dessert:  a delicious and simple recipe from my current go-to, Laurel's Kitchen.

Baked Apples
4 large flavorful apples
1/2 cup toasted wheat germ
1/4 cup raisins
1/4 cup chopped walnuts or filberts
zest of 1/2 lemon
1/8 tsp cinnamon
1 Tbls brown sugar
pinch salt

1 tsp flour
3/4 cup apple juice [I actually used lemonade]

Preheat oven to 350. Core apples and place in a greased baking dish with a cover. It's good if the apples are a snug fit: if not, cut up a fifth apple and tuck it around.

Mix the wheat germ, raisins, nuts, lemon zest, cinnamon, sugar, and salt and press lightly into the apple cores. Mix the flour and juice and pour over the apples.
Bake 40 minutes or until the apples are very soft. Let cool slightly before serving for best flavor.

Serves 4.

Substitute 2 Tbls toasted sesame seeds for the nuts and use 6 Tbls of raisins.
I used the straight recipe (though I like the sound of the variation), substituting matzo meal for the germ/flour and lemonade for the apple juice (used what I had).

Imagine I'll make this many times in the years to come---apples are a favorite (inexpensive) fruit and for a dessert this is high fiber and includes protein. Can't ask for much more!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Carrot & Parsley Salad

Once upon a time I made this before. This weekend I made it again. So there you have it. 

Yes, it counts.

Carrot and Parsley Salad
from Moosewood Restaurant Cooks at Home
  • 3 1/2 cups grated carrots
  • 1 bunch parsley, finely chopped (about 2 cups)
  • 1 garlic clove, minced or pressed
  • 3 Tbls fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp salt 
  • freshly ground pepper, to taste

Combine the carrots, parsley, garlic, lemon juice, oil, salt and pepper in a serving bowl and toss well. 
  • Add 1 Tbls of chopped fresh mint
  • Add 1 Tbls of chopped fresh chives
  • Add 1 tsp of ground cumin

We enjoyed it the first time and we enjoyed it again. Nice way to use extra parsley for those times you buy an enormous bunch of parsley but have no idea why you did it. Crazy person.

Monday, April 2, 2012

BBQ Sauce

My husband was grilling for the first time this year and felt inspired to make homemade barbecue sauce. He kindly let me whip it together so I could claim it for this blog. Hurray! Another sauce toward this year's goal (3rd of 24)!

From the Joy of Cooking:

Barbecue Sauce
  • 1 1/2 cups ketchup
  • 1 cup cider vinegar or red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 Tbls dry mustard
  • 4 Tbls chili powder, or to taste
  • 1 Tbls grated, peeled fresh ginger, or 1 tsp ground
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 Tbls vegetable oil
  • 3 sliced lemon

Combine ingredients in a medium saucepan over medium heat and cook, stirring often, until the sauce comes to a simmer.  
Simmer for 5 minutes. Remove the lemon slices if desired.  
This sauce will keep, covered and refrigerated, for up to 2 weeks.
Makes about 2 cups.

Our verdict:  It was much thinner than what you expect from a commercially-bottled sauce, but it was tasty. I don't know if I'd rush to make this exact recipe again;  I would probably try out a few different BBQ sauce versions from my other cookbooks, to compare to this one. But certainly it was fine. Had a zest to it. Easy to make. All-in-all to be considered a successful receipe.