Saturday, July 11, 2009

Figs w/ Goat Cheese

Bought these figs at Monterey Market, and they were so wonderful! So sweet. Another version of nature's candy. As I ate one, I rummaged for the leftover goat cheese in the fridge, they were even more amazing. The sweetness goes really well with the salty goat cheese. Ate it all up before I could take a picture!

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Broccoli Rabe, Navy Beans, and Mushrooms

I love Mark Bittman, The Minimalist, and columnist for the New York Times. At the beginning of the year he wrote a column about kitchen must haves which inspired and convinced me to toss aside canned beans in favor of dried. Canned beans are pretty cheap, convenient, and allow me to make meals very quickly. At times, I find the texture questionable especially of kidney and cannellini beans, and the liquid is just kind of weird.

So I purchased a bag of dried navy beans, cheaper than canned. I soaked them over night which actually requires forethought, and then cooked them in the pressure cooker for 20 to 25 minutes with salt, and they were AWESOME. The texture was so different, cooked but firm, not mushy. And they did not fall apart when I tossed them in salads or in this dish.

This Minimalist is right again, they taste SO much better.

- 1 cup navy beans (soaked over night)
- 1 head of broccoli rabe
- 1/2 pound or more mushrooms
- 1 large shallot, diced
- 3 cloves (or to your taste) of garlic
- 1 cup bean liquid (the liquid the beans were cooked in)
- salt and pepper to taste
- 3 to 4 T olive oil

First, I have to say I made this recipe as I went so the ingredient list was really to taste, a kind of a fly by the seat of my pants thing.

Soak beans over night, and then cook in the pressure cooker for about 20 to 25 minutes. I added 5 times the water than beans (so for 1 cup of beans, cook in 5 cups of water). Add salt to the water. If you forget the overnight soak, cook for 1.5 hours. Be sure to save some liquid from the beans.

In a large pot, bring salted water to a boil, add broccoli rabe and cook for 3 to 5 minutes, depending on how tender you like your greens. Drain well, and then roughly chop.

In a large pan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add shallots, cooking until golden. Add mushrooms and garlic, cook until mushrooms are browned. Add chopped broccoli rabe and cooked navy beans. If a little dry, add some of the saved liquid. Taste for salt. Add pepper, and then serve.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Blueberry Muffins

I use A LOT of Deborah Madison's recipe. Why not? EVERY recipe I've tried from her Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone is excellent, and turns out as she describes. Recipe after recipe, I've not had one dud. So when I need a recipe, I turn to her, confident that I'll produce a successful dish, even if it takes time.

These blueberry muffins were tasty, moist, and heart warming. And it was the first muffin recipe that was true to the amount. You really do get 12 VERY nicely rounded muffins in a standard muffin tin. These muffins also freeze very well. After defrosting over night, place in the microwave for about 30 seconds, and it's like they came out of the oven.

I used 1/2 cup sugar because I'm trying to watch my sugar and found that it was a little less sweet than I would like though if you put a dollop of nice jam, it would be perfect. Next time, I think I'll increase the sugar to 3/4 cup. Also, watch the bake time. I checked the muffins at 20 minutes (5 minutes a head of recommended bake time) and they were done. Next time, I might check in at 17-18.

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Bake Time: 25 minutes

- 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour or whole-wheat pastry flour (I used all purpose)
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 to 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten
- 1 1/3 cup buttermilk
- 1/3 cup canola oil or butter, melted (I used butter)
- 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 cup blueberries (blackberries and raspberries would also work)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Spray, oil, or butter muffin tins. Mix the dry ingredients in one bowl and the wets in a second bowl, then combine them with a few swift strokes. Using a rubber spatula, stir the batter up from the bottom of the bowl to make sure that there aren't any pockets of flour. Don't beat the batter, and don't worry about an uneven appearance. Spoon or scoop the batter into tins, going nearly to the top for nicely rounded muffin. Bake in the upper third of the oven until browned and well risen, about 25 minutes. Turn out muffins and serve.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Cucumber Salad

I was at our weekly farmer's market where the summer time produce is gorgeous, including these cucumbers (should have taken pictures of the whole) which were so much better than what you get at the local grocery store. These cucumbers did not require any peeling prior to eating, which I love because I'm always looking for ways to save time.

This salad is simple and tasty, and can be prepared in about 10 minutes. Chop up some cucumbers, add olive oil, vinegar, and a pinch sugar, and you're good to go.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Basil Puree

I wanted to use all the wonderful basil growing in my garden without making pesto pasta so I made a simple basil puree (courtesy of Deborah Madison) and used that as the sauce for a simple summer pizza. At the farmer's market and the new fabulous Berkeley Bowl, I bought mushrooms, shallots, and fresh mozzarella. Out of the freezer, I pulled a white whole wheat crust that I had made a few months ago, which turned out pretty well but was a little dense (since wheat does not rise as well).

Time: 5 minutes

-2 cups basil
-1/2 cup olive oil
-3 cloves of garlic
-1/2 tsp salt

In a food processer, add all the ingredients and chop until smooth and creamy, and spreadable.

I think it was very strong tasty, which I like, but I think I would have may be used slightly less of the puree on the pizza.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Dal Makhani (Creamy Black Lentils)

Last week, I was looking for a quick and easy recipe for the black lentils I had in a glass jar, staring at me for the last year or so.  My goal was to only use ingredients I have at home, and not have to run out to the store to get anything.  Well, I definitely found this recipe, and even excluded ingredients because I didn't have them, and it was SO totally successful.

I left out the tomato and tomato paste since I didn't have them on hand, and I skipped the tempering at the end. Also, when I initially read this recipe, I missed the part about soaking the beans overnight.  I did not do this and it still worked.  If you don't soak the beans, add more water and cook longer.  The key to the water is to add 5 times the amount of water than bean. So if you use 1 cup of beans, put in 5 cups of water.  And cook for 20 minutes, first bringing it to a boil in the pressure cooker, and than reducing heat slightly to high.  If you find that it is still too nutty for you, cook again but for less time, being sure not to scorch the bottom.  I almost did this.

This dish is SO incredibly flavorful, and tastes just wonderful with steamed corn tortillas.  And it's SO easy.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Crappy Red Velvet Cupcakes

Today I'm going to an engagement party thrown by co-workers. The weather is beautiful, food's going to be on the grill, there will be drinks, and I wanted to do something special for everyone who put this amazing party together so I thought I would make Red Velvet Cupcakes which hints at love! I found the recipe in February 2009 Runner's World Magazine and thought it would be successful given that the recipe comes from two runners who own How Sweet It Is bake shop in New York City.

When I think of red velvet, I think of a moist light dark chocolate muffin with sweet cream cheese frosting on top. That's pretty much what I think all cupcakes should be like...light, fluffy, with a nice butter cream frosting that sets off the not super sweet muffin.

Well, this recipe did not turn out well at all. While this was my first time making these cupcakes, it was not my first time making cupcakes in general, and considering my previous successes, I would like to think it was not me that caused the ensuing poor results. I followed the recipe exactly, excluding the food coloring. The cupcake, after being baked, did not even look like it was chocolate. It was a very light brown, like mocha or walnut. The cupcake was also very dense and was poorly flavored. It did not taste like chocolate. After trying one without the frosting, I decided I could not bring these cupcakes to the party. I didn't even bother making the frosting. I'm throwing them all out because they're not worthy enough to serve to folks. If I'm not eating it, I'm not serving it to anyone else, especially people who are putting together a nice afternoon shin ding. I was sort of surprised to see that 3 individuals gave it positive reviews in the magazine.

I'm back to the drawing board with red velvet cupcakes.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Spaghetti with Garlic, Parsley, and Bread Crumbs

This is a quick easy dish made with ingredients easily found around your home.  I liked it though I think it would taste better with home grown parsley as opposed to store bought since the scent was not there.  Would make it again, probably with more parsley.

- 1 pound spaghetti (substituted penne)
- 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil (reduced to 1/4 cup)
- 4 garlic cloves, chopped
- 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
- 1/2 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
- 1/2 cup mixed freshly grated Parmesan and pecorino Romano (I only used Parmesan)
- 1/2 cup fresh bread crumbs crisped in 1 T olive oil

Cook the spaghetti in plenty of salted boiling water.  Meanwhile, warm the oil with the garlic and pepper flakes in a wide skillet over medium heat.  As soon as the garlic starts to color, remove from the heat.

Drain the spaghetti, shaking off excess water, and put it in a warmed pasta bowl.  Pour the mixture over the top and toss with parsley and cheese.  Taste fro salt, season with pepper, and serve with bread crumbs scattered on top.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Pink Grapefruit Salad with Cilantro Dressing

This is such an amazing and it takes all of 10 to 15 minutes to put together.

- 1 bag of Trader Joe's Organic Spring Mix
- 1 medium pink grapefruit or pomello, peeled

Salad Dressing
- Olive oil
- White vinegar
- 1 large shallot, chopped
- 1 to 2 T cilantro, chopped
- Salt and pepper

Place mixed greens in large bowl along with grapefruit. If possible, remove skin so that only grapefruit flesh is available. The skin makes the grapefruit slightly bitter.

Chop shallots and place in small bowl with vinegar to mellow out shallows. Add oil, cilantro, salt and pepper and then stir. don't know the measurements because I just eye it and go by taste.


Friday, April 17, 2009

Orecchiette with Broccoli Rabe

This is an easy breezy recipe that takes less than 30 minutes from start to finish. It's healthy, beautiful, and quick. You may even have all the ingredients in your kitchen! Of course, it comes from Deborah Madison's Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone.

Cook Time: 30 minutes or less

- 1 bunch of broccoli rabe, about 1 1/2 pounds (substituted broccoli)
- 12 ounces orecchiette (substituted fusilli and used entire 16 oz)
- salt
-4 T olive oil, plus extra to finish
- 3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced (use more, say 4 or 5)
- 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- grated Parmesan
- lemon wedges

While the pasta water is heating, peel the lower stems of the broccoli rabe, then add the whole bunch to boiling water. Boil for 5 minutes, then remove it with a strainer and coarsely chop. Start cooking the pasta in boiling salted water.

For the above step, to save time and water, I used pre-chopped broccoli so that it went from bag to boiling water without fuss. I also used the same pot and water to first cook the broccoli and then the pasta so that there would be less cleaning at the end.

Meanwhile, warm the oil, the garlic and pepper flakes in a wide skillet over medium heat until fragrant (until sliced garlic is a light toasty brown). Add the broccoli rabe and cook gently, occasionally adding a little pasta water to the pan so it does not dry out. Drain the pasta, add it directly into the greens, and toss with a spoonful of the extra virgin olive oil, salt to taste, and add a little Parmesan. Toss well and serve with additional dusting of cheese and wedge of lemon on each plate.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Onion Galette with Mustard Cream

Deborah Madison hits another one out of the ball park. This galette goes great with a mixed green salad or a side of green beans tossed in olive oil and herbs.

Prep Time:
30 minutes
Bake Time:
25 to 35 minutes

- Galette dough (see June 2007 entry)
- 3 T Butter
- 6 cups thinly sliced yellow onions
- 1 T chopped thyme or rosemary (less if using dried herbs)
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 1 T Dijon mustard mixed with 1/4 cup cream
- 1/2 cup fresh bread crumbs
- 1/4 cup grated pecorino Romano or Parmesan

Make dough and set aside

Melt butter in large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and thyme and cook stirring occasionally, until they soften and turn golden, about 15 minutes. Add the winde, cook until it has reduced, then season with salt and pepper.

In a bowl, combine all but 2 T of egg with the mustard cream. Stir in the onion, bread crumbs, and cheese.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Roll the dough into a 14 inch circle. Put the onion on the dough, leaving a 2 to 3 inch edge. Fold the dough over the onion and brush with the reserved egg. Bake until shing and golden, about 25 minutes.