Saturday, June 30, 2012

A Saucy Side of Green & Gold

This was a good side dish,  but you have to like the taste of sesame (which it so happens I do). I liked the contrasting colors. Substituting the orange for the lime was done out of necessity (started cooking before I realized we'd used-up all the limes) but it worked out well. Still, I look forward to the slightly sharper bit of the lime juice the next time I make this one.

     Broccoli and Carrots with Lime Citrus Dressing
     from Moosewood Restaurant Cooks at Home

  • 2 carrots, thinly sliced on the diagonal
  • 3 stalks broccoli, heads cut into florets, stalks (if using) peeled and sliced on the diagonal


  • 1 Tbls dark sesame oil
  • 1 Tbls soy sauce
  • 2 tsp honey
  • 3 Tbls fresh lime juice (I substituted freshly squeezed orange juice)
  • salt and ground black pepper to taste
  • dash of chili oil, Tabasco, or other hot pepper sauce (optional)
  1. Bring about 2 inches of water to a rapid boil in a covered pot. When the water boils, add the vegetables, cover and simmer for about 5 minutes, until tender but firm.
  2. While the vegetables cook, mix together all of the dressing ingredients. 
  3. Drain the vegetables, plunge them into cold water, drain again, and chill until ready to serve or serve at room temperature.
  4. Just before serving, toss the vegetables with the dressing.
 Counts as number 7 toward my 2012 goal of 24 sauces/dressings!

Friday, June 29, 2012

Re-trying the Refrito Spread

Another recipe from The New Laurel's Kitchen (I know, I know. I should just marry this book already), and this one is really, really good, you guys! The official attempt recorded below is technically from our second batch. The first time we mistakenly misread the part where the onion and garlic should be cooked, and so we chopped them up and added them raw; that made a passable sandwich spread, but left your breath pungent enough to strip the bark off a tree. This time, by (ahem) following the directions, we were able to more completely and less stinkily enjoy this fabulous dish as a dip.

Whip some up and serve at your next office potluck, family picnic, or just bring the entire giant bowl into bed with you and scarf down on dip and chips while watching Angel on Amazon Prime.

Refrito Spread
  • 1 1/2 cup cooked, well-drained pinto, kidney, or black beans
  • 1 bunch scallions or a big onion
  • 1 Tbs oil
  • 1 or 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 tsp cumin powder
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1/4 chopped green pepper or chopped green chili pepper
  • 1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 tsp salt
   Mash the beans. You should end up with about a cup.
   Chop the onion and saute with whole garlic cloves in oil. When the onion is done, crush the garlic with a fork. Add the spices and the green pepper. (If you are a chili fan, you can use green chilies instead of the pepper.) Cook until the pepper is softened and the spices are fragrant.
   Remove from heat and cool slightly. Add beans and mix. Add cheese and salt, and check the flavor:  if the beans were unsalted you may need more salt.
   Makes about 1 3/4 cups. 
I used pinto beans and substituted tomato salsa for the green pepper (didn't have any on hand and was feeling too lazy to chop up a Jalapeno). Delicious!

Count this as "sauce" number 6 of 24. Don't call me a cheater.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Puerto Rican Vinaigrette

I have no idea if this recipe authentically represents the popular salad dressings of Puerto Rico (though who am I to disagree with Fannie), but to whomever can rightly claim this dressing I say: bravo!

Very tasty twist to your classic French vinaigrette and an excellent way to bedazzle a simple green salad.

Puerto Rico Dressing 
from The All New Fannie Farmer Boston Cooking School Cookbook 
Mix in a bottle or a jar with a cover
  • 1/2 cup olive or salad oil
  • 1 Tbls mild vinegar
  • 1 Tbls lemon juice
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 clove garlic
  • 2 Tbls chopped olives
  • 1 Tbls tomato catsup
Cover. when ready to serve, remove the garlic and shake hard to blend. Makes 1/2 cup.

Other than substituting ketchup for the catsup (hah!) I made it according to recipe and then tossed with a green salad. It was debuted at a potluck and we watched it fly out of the bowl--a hit!

Dressing number 5 toward 24.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Red Lentil Soup

My copy of Moosewood is secondhand, and over this recipe the previous owner wrote in "****". Who am I to ignore four stars? I had most of the ingredients on hand, so I made it for lunch. My three year old wasn't so interested, but my husband and I loved it. Four stars indeed.

Red Lentil Soup from Moosewood Restaurant Cooks at Home
  • 1 1/2 cups red lentils
  • 6 cups water
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped [I substituted garlic scapes from my CSA]
  • 2 slices fresh ginger root, each about the size of a quarter
  • 2 medium carrots (1 cup grated)
  • 1 cup canned tomatoes, or 1 medium fresh tomato, chopped (undrained)
  • 1 small red or green bell pepper (1/2 cup finely chopped) [I left these out]
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped onions
  • 2 Tbls olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • pinch cayenne
  • 2 Tbls fresh lemon juice
  • salt and ground black pepper to taste
  • dollop of plain yogurt (optional)
     Sort and rinse the lentils. Put them in a soup pot with the water, bay leaves, garlic [scapes], and ginger. Cover and place on high heat.
     Prepare the carrots, tomatoes, and bell peppers, and add them to the pot. Bring to a boil, stir, reduce the heat, and simmer, covered, for 15 to 20 mins, until the lentils are tender.
     While the vegetables simmer, saute the onion on medium heat in the olive oil in a heavy skillet for about 10 mins or until browned. Add the cumin, coriander, and cayenne and saute for another minute, stirring to prevent sticking. Remove from the heat. When the lentils are tender, remove the bay leaves and ginger from the soup pot. Stir in the sauteed onions and the lemon juice. Add the salt and pepper to taste. Top each bowl with a spoon of yogurt, if desired. 
I served this with the carrot herb salad from the same cookbook, using cilantro instead of parsley, and adding the teaspoon of cumin noted as a variation.  Seemed to make sense, serving them together;  if you use a food processor it's no more trouble to grate ten carrots than two.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Strawberry Vanilla Pudding Pie with Oat-Nut Crust

With amazing deftness I managed to cram three recipes into one dessert last weekend. I hereby present record to you of a fantastic Strawberry Vanilla Pudding Pie with Oat-Nut Crust.

First make the press-in crust:
Oat-Nut Crust from The New Laurel's Kitchen

  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 3 Tbls water
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 400F. 
Blend oats and walnuts in blender or food processor until the mixture is floury, with only a few visable oat pieces. turn into bowl and mix in water and salt (try just 2 Tbls water at first, and add the third only if needed to hold the dough together). Press into 9" or 10" pie tin and bake just 10 mins. 

Next, make the pudding:
Vanilla Pudding also from The New Laurel's Kitchen

  • 2 cups milk
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 2 Tbls cornstarch or arrowroot
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Gently heat 1 1/2 cups of the milk in a heavy pan. Stir in the sugar and salt. 
Combine the cornstarch or arrowroot with the reserved milk. Add to the milk when it is very hot; cook and stir over low heat until thick.* If you are using cornstarch, continue to cook and stir over very low heat for a few minutes more. (If you want richer version, you can stir in a beaten egg into 1/2 cup of the pudding, then beat that into the whole pudding while it is still very hot.) Cool somewhat and add vanilla. 
Makes about 2 cups. Good warm or cold.

And finally, combine and add fruit!
Berry Pudding Pie yup, still from The New Laurel's Kitchen
Fill a prebaked pie shell or crumb crust with 3 cups or so of fresh blackberries, raspberries, strawberries, blueberries or sliced peaches. Pour Vanilla Pudding over them while it's still warm. Sprinkle with toasted nuts if you like, and chill. 
If you have fruit too pretty to hide, fill your pie shell with pudding and let it cool slightly. Arrange sweet berries or slices of ripe, sweet peach, kiwi, or apricot on top. (You can prevent the sliced fruit from turning brown by dipping it orange juice.)


A few comments:

First:  since my daughter is allergic to peanuts and any nuts purchased at the store may have been cross-contaminated with peanuts I was careful to rinse the walnuts before I used them for the crust (I set them out to air dry after washing them, so I wasn't added extra liquid to the crust).

Second:  since the oats are being ground down anyway, I used my stash of Quick oats instead of my nice rolled oats.

Third: I don't understand the directions about only adding 2 Tbls of water to the crust. I ended up using more like 6 Tbls of water all told before my crust would stick together. But maybe it's a case-by-case thing.

*Fourth: Have you ever made non-instant pudding before? I hadn't and I was amazed that it was as easy as it was. However, initially it wasn't setting for me and I was frustrated until I Googled about using cornstarch as a thickener. It's essential that you keep the heat high after adding the cornstarch. Don't reduce the heat until after it's started to thicken. I think the recipe's directions were a little misleading in that regard so I'm noting it in my cookbook for the next time (because you know I'll forget).

Fifth: Yum. This is good stuff.

Monday, June 4, 2012

It Fell On the Floor But We Ate It Anyway -Cake

I rarely cry over culinary flops, but this time it was literally too much: I dropped my husband's birthday cake on the kitchen floor.

My three year old and I had carefully navegated the Mama/Toddler baking trade-off (I measured, she stirred. I placed into the oven, she helped me to track the time), and together we'd baked a kick-ass cake. We even mixed the frosting homemade, stirring and stirring the chocolate chips into melty gooey goodness. The cake tins cooled on the open windowpane. They popped out of the pans without tearing. We spread delicious jam and frosting onto the first layer, and successfully placed the top layer, decorating it with more frosting and berries. I set the cake in the cake carrier and attached the carrier's lid. And then I lifted the lid by its large Hey, Use Me To Carry This Cake Pan -looking handle, only to discover that the latches holding the top to the bottom were not, in fact, meant to hold any weight. BAM, the bottom fell out and there I stood, holding the handle of the top of the cake carrier, staring at my husband's birthday cake lying upside down on the kitchen floor. And then the tears, they came.

The top layer was a goner, covered in cat fur and other nasty bits of floor spice. But the bottom layer was rescuable; we carefully used a spatula to separate it from the top layer-turned-floor-flop and restored the un-gross layer to the cake plate. We poured extra frosting on (hurray for extra frosting!) and re-decorated with cherries. Voila--a delicious single-layer birthday cake. Not exactly what I had planned, but in true birthday fashion, a surprise! 

From Isa Chandra Moskowitz's Vegan with a Vengeance:

Raspberry Cherry Blackout Cake
Serves 12 [or maybe 6, if you drop half of it on the floor]
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder [I used Hershey's]
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 cups plain rice or soy milk [I used cow milk]
  • 1/2 cup canola oil [I used EVOO]
  • 1 (10 ounce) jar raspberry preserves (reserve 1/2 for the batter) [I had cherry jam]
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • Fresh raspberries for decorating and yumminess [I used canned cherries 'cause it's what I had]
Preheat oven to 350 F. Spray two 8-inch round springform cake pans with cooking spray. If you don't have springform [I don't] then use parchment paper rounds on the bottom of two ordinary 8-inch round cake pans to prevent sticking.
Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Combine the milk, oil, 1/2 cup of the preserves, the vanilla, and the sugar in a large bowl and mix with a hand mixer or strong fork. The jam should be mostly dissolved with the rest of the ingredients; some small clumps are okay. Add the dry ingredients to the wet in batches and mix until everything is incorporated. Divide the batter between the prepared pans and bak at 350F for 40 to 45 mins, or until a toothpick or knife comes out clean. Remove from oven and let cool in pans.
When the cakes have cooled fully, spread one layer of cake with a thin layer of the reserved preserves (give the preserves a quick mix with a strong fork to get a spreadable consistency); spread a layer of chocolate frosting [see below] on top of the preserves. Place the other layer of cake on top and spread its top with preserves. Carefully spread the chocolate frosting over the top, then ice the sides...

Chocolate Ganache-y Frosting

  • 3/4 cup soy creamer (plain soy milk will do) [I used cow milk]
  • 6 Tbls nonhydrogenated margarine
  • 10 ounces semisweet chocolate chips [aproximately 1 1/2 cups?]
In a saucepan over medium heat, bring the creamer to a low boil. Add the margarine and melt, turn off the heat, and stir in the chocolate chips until smooth. Let sit for at least 1 hour. I should still have a pourable consistency at this point. If you want a spreadable consistency then refrigerate for an hour. (If you refrigerate it for more than a few hours, it sets too much to spread easily, so you will need to reheat it, then let it sit at room temperature before using.)