Sunday, January 1, 2012

A Kind Year

Confession:  I've had Alicia Silverstone's The Kind Life for more than a year and half, and until last night, I had never actually cooked from it.  In no mood to go out, and in the mood for something kind of comforting, I took a look through the recipes and found the one for Udon Noodles.  I have a thing for Udon Noodles: an almost superstitious belief that they are somehow good luck, the kind of food that is both mostly good for you and that brings good things.  I love ordering them at Vietnamese or Japanese restaurants, were they're typically served in broth, but it being a holiday and all, the slightly fried version in the book seemed just fine with me.
After a harried couple of hours deciding whether or not to take up an last minute offer to go out, I chose to stay in, made these noodles, and settled in.  Taking the day to do some cleaning and long-avoided chores, and then following up on a book that I've loved to read but had never made anything from seemed like the appropriate transition between these years.  It may not have been as energizing as a night out or as glamorous as a glitzy evening, but sometimes life is more about creating and cleaning out your home, appreciating the things you already have, and sending fun texts and emails out into the world to connect to the people you care about.  There will be other opportunities for other indulgences, but for the time being it felt really good trying to get my act together as the world communally changed shifted into a new scene.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

I'm Baaaaaaccckkk! Plum Crisp, Comin' At Ya!

I know, can you believe it!!!!!??? I am coming back from the hole you all (hi Mom!) thought I crawled into and am blogging again!!!! (At least for a post...) So many new things (marital status, job, kitchen, dishwasher, iphone app...) in my life, but I am missing cooking and a creative outlet, now that I am not wedding planning and find myself a little too busy with my job I thought I'd blog again!

Today I am sharing some individual plum crisps I made. Plums looked good at the farmer's market this morning, and I have some ADORABLE tiny individual purple Le Creuset dutch ovens (thanks to my in-laws) and I had a hard morning (teacher test!) so obviously I thought it was individual desert night-- not that I don't like sharing, but sometimes you need your own dutch oven full of crisp.

I don't really have a specific recipe for these puppies, although I do have a pretty foolproof crisp/crumble method, which I don't know if I have shared with you before. Basically, I chop up about 2-3 cups of whatever fruit I want to use (apples, pear, plums, peaches, etc.) and add a little sweetener (usually agave, maple syrup or honey), some cinnamon, vanilla extract if you like and a tablespoon-ish of flour and throw this in the bottom of my baking dish (or dishes!). I then mix together equal parts flour, oats, nuts, and oil (canola or coconut is good, melted earth balance will do too) and add a dash of salt. I usually do a half cup of each, but you can totally adjust this depending on the size of crisp/crumble you want to make. Gently mix the topping ingredients together with a fork until the mixture looks "sandy" or "crumbly." Pour the topping on the fruit and throw the whole thing in a 375 degree oven for however long it takes for the top to brown and the fruit to get "bubbly."

I know, usually when you bake the formula should be exact but this method really does create yummy crisps and crumbles every time, and you can totally experiment with fruits, spices, nuts, etc. Even if the results aren't exactly how you wanted them to be, you really can't go wrong with hot fruit, crunchy bits of nuts and oats and a little melting vanilla soy or coconut ice cream on top.

So there you go everyone (or just Mom!), just in time for fall! Hopefully I'll get my act together and get on this thing more often...

My homemade vanilla extract-- vanilla beans + vodka + 1 month to sit = PERFECT! Thanks Ina Garten!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Blueberry Corn Muffins

I haven't blogged in forever! Well, now that I am on summer vacation hopefully I"ll get it together more. We shall see... Anyhoo, I am up to my elbows in blueberries (and romaine lettuce) this week thanks to our CSA. I froze many of them on a cookie sheet for a few hours, then stored them in a ziploc bag to use over the next few weeks. The remaining berries made their way into these blueberry corn muffins.

The recipe is from Vegan With a Vengeance, and someone posted it on the web here. I have made these in the past, and knew it would be worth the effort to turn on the oven in this unbelievably gross heat to bake them this morning.
Even if you don't try this recipe, I strongly urge you to experiment with the combination of blueberries and cornmeal, it's a delicious one. I made these extra large, so I ended up with 9 instead of 12. To me it's worth it, small muffins that don't rise past the tops of the muffin tin just aren't worth the trouble of baking, people. I will be shocked if any of these are left for breakfast on Monday...

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Banana Nut Bread

It's recipes like these that prove that the old baking rule that you need eggs to make a moist bread or cake is crap! This bread is soooooooo good, and healthier than many other versions out there that are loaded with butter, eggs and sugar. I swear, you won't even know they are missing!
This recipe is originally from How It All Vegan! but I have modified it so much the past few times I've made it that it's pretty much a new recipe now... EVERYONE loves banana bread, so you really have no excuse not to make this the next time you look over to your fruit bowl and spy some sad, brown bananas :-)
Banana Nut Bread
  • 2 1/2 - 3 ripe bananas, mashed
  • 1 tbs. apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup canola or vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2-3/4 cup chopped pecans (depending on how nutty you want it!)
  • 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour + 1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/4 cup ground flax seeds
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • Cinnamon sugar
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a small bowl, mash the bananas with a fork until very mushy, then add the vinegar, oil, sugar and stir together. In a separate bowl, stir together the flour, flax seeds, salt, baking powder and baking soda. Add the banana mixture to the flour mixture and mix together gently until "just mixed." Fold in pecans. Spoon into lightly greased loaf pan and sprinkle the top with cinnamon sugar. Bake for 40-50 minutes until a knife comes out clean.

p.s. A handful of chocolate chips instead of or in addition to the pecans would turn this baby into the perfect desert to bring to a picnic- it wouldn't suck heated up with a scoop of vanilla soy ice cream on top either!

Risotto to help you win friends and influence people!

OK, even if you aren't vegan- this post pertains to you. If you want to impress someone who is coming over to dinner (date, in laws, friends, bridge and majong players, what have you) I have the perfect dish for you- this risotto.

I have attempted to make risotto in the past and frankly found it not only challenging but annoying to stand over the stove stirring forever. This recipe from the latest issue of Cooks Illustrated it surprisingly low maintenance and easily yields perfect results. I feel like I can post it here because I have veganized it, but if you must use non vegan ingredients it's obvious what you would substitute. But make it vegan people. It's yummier and saves the chickens :)

p.s. A Dutch Oven for this recipe is a must. If you don't have one yet (Mom!) you should get one asap- besides this recipe there about a million uses for them, and there are some cheap but sturdy ones out there!

Almost Hands-Free Risotto with Herbs

  • 6 1/2 cups fake chicken stock (I used 2 Edward & Son's Not Chick'n Boullion cubes), vegetable stock would work as well
  • 4 tbs. Earth Balance
  • 1 large onion, chopped fine
  • Salt
  • 1 medium garlic clove, pressed
  • 2 cups Arborio rice
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1 tsp. lemon juice
  • 2 tbs. chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 tbs. chopped fresh chives
  • Ground black pepper
  1. Bring broth to a boil in a large sauce-pan over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low and maintain a gentle simmer.
  2. Heat 2 tbs. of Earth Balance in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. When the EB has melted, add onion and 3/4 tsp. salt; cook, stirring frequently, until onion is softened but not browned, 4-7 minutes. Add garlic and stir until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add rice and cook, stirring frequently, until grains are translucent around edges, about 3 mins.
  3. Add wine and cook, stirring constantly, until fully absorbed, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir 5 cups of hot broth into rice; reduce heat to medium-low, cover and simmer until almost all liquid has been absorbed and rice is just al dente, 16 to 19 mins, stirring twice during cooking.
  4. Add 3/4 cup of hot broth, and stir gently and constantly until risotto becomes creamy, about 3 mins. Remove pot from heat, cover, and let stand 5 mins. Stir in remaining 2 tbs Earth Balance, lemon juice, parsley and chives; season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.
Now that I have made this once successfully, I am wondering how I could jazz it up next time! I had some wonderful risotto in December at a French restaurant with butternut squash, pecans and cranberries that might be interesting to try make. I'm honestly not nuts about mushroom risotto, so that's out... Anyone have any other ideas about different kinds of risotto you could make using this recipe as a base? :-)

Alas, I did not get a picture of the risotto when we ate it last night- this is the sad small portion of leftovers... you get the idea though!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Greenpoint Food Market Today!

Vanilla-coconut-lemon and chocolate-orange cupcakes with homemade candied citrus peel will be waiting for you.... Details here.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Vegan Dinner for Carnavores (aka Mom and Dad)

I am at home once again visiting my Mom, Dad, and Sam. Last night they agreed to cook something from my Candle Cafe cook book... and eat it! We decided on cornmeal-crusted tempeh, a dish where the tempeh was marinated in a mixture of soy sauce, maple syrup, ginger and garlic and baked for one hour, then coated in cornmeal and pan fried. The results were pretty tasty, and hearty (my Dad even had seconds and thirds!). We also made some collard greens and smashed and fried potatoes topped with a lemon parsley vinaigrette. The following photo makes it all look a little sad, because the plate is so big, but trust me, this is a meal that will satisfy skeptical meat eaters!

For desert, I made strawberry short cakes, following this recipe, which I chose because it only made 3 or 4 biscuits at a time (it can be dangerous to have leftovers!). Instead of vegan whipped cream, I heated up the biscuits and topped with some rice ice cream. I highly recommend this recipe, not only is it pretty fast and easy, but the biscuits were some of the best I'd ever had- a success!