Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Polenta Circles with Shrooms, Flowers n' Beans

Plating food on a square white plate makes me feel all fancy pants.

A drizzle of balsamic is my go-to for a finishing touch.

A sprig of something green (in this case, a snip of carrot top greens) makes all the colors pop.

Crisp browned edges are my weakness.

Hi dinner.

Polenta Circles with Shrooms, Flowers n' Beans

vegetarian, gluten-free

serves 4

1 large head of cauliflower, chopped
8 oz of mushrooms, sliced
1 red onion, thinly sliced
1 tube of already made polenta, sliced into circles
1 can of cannellini beans, drained and rinsed

olive oil

Heat the oven to 475 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment. Spread out your chopped cauliflower and drizzle with a touch of olive oil, salt, and pepper. Bake in the oven for about 20-25 minutes, until nice and browned around some of the edges.

Meanwhile, heat a (cast-iron, if you have it) skillet with some more olive oil. Add as many polenta circles as can comfortably fit in the pan and fry on each side until crisped looking with a little color. Repeat with remaining polenta circles.

While the polenta cooks, heat a clean pan without oil and add the mushrooms. Saute for a few minutes. Then add some oil and sliced red onion. Let cook until soft and colored.

Add the beans and roasted cauliflower to the pan with the mushrooms/onions. Drizzle in some balsamic.

Serve next to or atop polenta circles. Use a square white plate if you're feelin' fancy pants. Or add a "not-so-fancy-pants" sprig of green to appear fancy-pants.

-Basic polenta
-Polenta cake with olive oil and rosemary
-Mushroom etc. and sausage ragu over polenta

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Drool-Worthy: Alice Medrich's Best Ever Cocoa Brownies

So I am going to describe something and you are going to drool. Ready?

Browned butter cocoa brownies with walnuts, pecans, and chocolate chips mixed in, sprinkled with flaky sea salt, and baked until a cracked in all-the-right-places top develops. Fudgey, moist, rich perfection. The sinfully sweet balance of gooey and chewy, of salty savory dark and sweet. Oh, and this is a one-pot recipe. And you don't have to clean the baking pan after baking.

How'd I do?

Cocoa Brownies with Browned Butter
Adapted from The Cilantropist, originally from Bon Appetit, February 2011, recipe by Alice Medrich

***My adaptions are in bold

1 1/4 stick unsalted butter (10 tbsps) cut into 1-inch pieces
1 1/4 cups sugar
3/4 cups cocoa powder
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 tsp sea salt
2 teaspoons water

2 large eggs
1/3 cup plus 1 tbsp all-purpose flour
1 cup pecans (I used a mix of pecans and walnuts), chopped
~1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Extra sea salt for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit, and line the inside of an 8x8 square baking pan with aluminum foil, leaving 2-inch overhangs and pressing the foil tightly to the sides of the pan. (If you like spray the aluminum foil with non-stick cooking spray, though I didn't find this necessary.)

In a large saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat, stirring often. The butter will first melt, then foam, then form more clear bubbles. Once the butter has only bubbles (and no foam) and there are browned bits at the bottom of the pan, remove the butter from the heat. Stir in the sugar, cocoa powder, vanilla extract, salt, and 2 teaspoons water. Let the mixture sit for about 4-5 minutes to cool, then mix in the eggs one at a time, beating quickly after each addition. Once the chocolate mixture looks relatively smooth, mix in the flour, and then beat well for a few minutes. Mix in the chopped nuts, and transfer to the prepared pan, smoothing the top before baking.

Bake for about 30 minutes or more, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out almost clean - if there is still a tiny bit of moist batter at the very bottom that is ok. Remove the brownies from the oven and cool completely on a cooling rack. Once cool, remove the brownies from the pan using the aluminum foil overhangs; then pull the aluminum foil away from the brownies and cut them into 16 square pieces. Serve immediately or store in an airtight container.

Give me an "M": Matzo Lasagna

Matzo lasagna and a shot-glass full of Manischewitz wine. Good dinner. Good dinner, indeed.

Hey it's Passover, the Jewish holiday that remembers and celebrates the Jewish people's exodus from slavery. Good stuff. Traditionally Jews celebrate by having a big dinner called a "Seder" (Hebrew for 'order') where the story of this exodus from slavery is re-told. Then for 8 days it is common to refrain from any bread products except for matzo, which is an unleavened sheet of crunchiness.

You can make loads of awesome goods with matzo: matzo brei (aka matzo n' eggs), matzo pizza (aka melted cheese and sauce atop matzo), matzo granola, matzo toffee crunch, matzo spread with butter, matzo spread with cream cheese, matzo slathered with baba ganoush (eggplant dip), etc. etc.

Tonight I give you MATZO LASAGNA. It's just like regular lasagna but instead of lasagna noodles, I used sheets of matzo that I ran under cold water.

And let me tell ya, this is goooood stuff, especially when you turn on the broiler for the last 5 minutes of baking. Browned cheesy delight.

I sauteed some onion and dino-kale to add between the layers of sauce and cheese. Feel free to use mushrooms, spinach, summer squash, whatever you want.

If you are in a Passover rut, or just like matzo, or just like lasagna, this is the business right here.

Oh, and don't forget the Manischewitz wine. So sweet, so delish, so much needed.

Matzo Lasagna

I've have been making this recipe for over 2 years. I printed it online, possibly from "The Jew and the Carrot" although I have yet to find exactly where on the website.

makes a 13 x 9 inch pan's-worth of goodness
(8-12 servings?)

1 cup part-skim ricotta
2 cups non-fat cottage cheese
4 cups tomato sauce
1 onion, chopped
1 large bunch kale
Enough matzo sheets to make four layers in a 13 x 9 inch baking dish, lightly softened with water (I just ran it under the tap water for a few seconds as needed)
Grated mozzarella cheese
Salt and Pepper

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

2. In a saute pan, brown onions and chopped kale in some olive oil and set aside.

3. In a bowl, mix ricotta, cottage cheese, and some salt and pepper.

4. Spoon 1 cup of the tomato sauce on the bottom of the baking dish. Cover with one layer of moistened matzo. Layer 1/3 of the cheese mixture, 1/3 of the vegetable mixture, and 2/3 cup of the sauce. Add some salt and pepper between each layer. Repeat twice. Cover with a final layer of moistened matzo, sauce, and mozzarella cheese.

5. Cover with foil and bake for 35 minutes, uncover and bake another 10 minutes or until thoroughly heated and cheese is melted and beginning to brown (I turned the broiler on for the last few minutes of baking). Let stand for 15 minutes before serving.

Heaven in a mazto.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Kiss n' Swirl Meringues

Little bites of heaven. Sweet, but not too too sweet, melt-in-your mouth heaven. 4 egg whites whipped up to make 2 cookie sheets filled-to-the-brim with mini meringues.

I experimented with different ways of piping.


n' swirls...

so pretty, oh my.

Egg whites, sugar, a pinch of salt, and a dash of vanilla make these treats have more of a toasty marshmallow flavor than an eggy flavor.

Springy, colorful, satin-like pillows of sweet. AND, these pretties are gluten-free, fat-free, Kosher for Passover, perfect for a light Easter treat, or just a sweet after-dinner delight. Love 'em, eat 'em.

Kiss n' Swirl Meringues

From EatGood4Life

4 egg whites, at room temperature
pinch of salt
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
food coloring (all you need is 1-2 drops)

1. Preheat oven to about 200-250 degrees F. In an electric mixer with the whisk attachment (or by hand), whip your egg whites with pinch of salt until stiff peaks form. SLOWLY add the sugar, about 1-2 tablespoons at a time until the egg whites form a lovely glossy shiny look. This should take about 5 minutes or so. Add the vanilla extract. Fold in the food coloring as you wish (I saved some white, then I added 2 drops of red coloring for pink meringues, then 1 drop of blue for purple meringues).

2. Spoon the mixture, a little at a time, into a pastry bag fitted with a star tip. Pipe onto a parchment lined baking sheet.

3. Bake for about 1.5 hours, turning once while baking. The meringues should be dry and crisp and easily lift off the parchment.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Pumpkin Chickpea Quinoa with Haricot Vert and Almonds

Oh hey, remember like half a year ago when I made my own pumpkin puree? And then I made mac n' cheese with it? Yep. Me too.

Well I froze a few large yogurt containers-worth of puree. I let one thaw out in the fridge over night yesterday. And today I added a bunch to some quinoa, along with some sauteed onions and haricot vert, chickpeas, and slivered almonds (I also added about a tablespoon of nutritional yeast for some hidden protein).


(I'm sort of sick of quinoa, though)

I promise that I will bake you something soon.

I promise that in addition to a tray of garlic-y rosemary roasted potatoes and cauliflower I will soon give you fresh-baked cookies.

I promise that I'll stop posting about quinoa and find another grain to fall in love with (I have my eye on farro...).

Spare me, for now.

Pumpkin Chickpea Quinoa with Haricot Vert and Almonds

Serves 6 (?)

1 cup dry quinoa
2 cups water
1 small onion, sliced thin
large handful of haricot vert (green beans), cut into bite-size pieces
1 cup of pumpkin puree (or squash)
1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
1 teaspoon cumin
salt, pepper
1 can garbanzo beans
1/4 cup almonds, toasted and chopped
1/4 cup golden raisins
grated cheese (Pecornio or Parmesan)

1. Prepare your quinoa. Add 1 cup of dry quinoa and 2 cups water to a saucepan. Boil. Turn heat to low/simmer, cover, and leave it for about 15 minutes until done.

2. Saute your onion in olive oil until transluscent. Add the green beans and cook for about 4 more minutes. Add the pumpkin, nutritional yeast, cumin, salt, pepper. Add the cooked quinoa, garbanzo beans, almonds, and raisins. Grate cheese over the top.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Roasted Beets, Sauteed Chard, and Quinoa Salad with YUBA!!!

I've been trying to cook quick, healthy meals for myself. For me, and for you.

Well, ok, a balanced diet can allow a chocolate chip cookie with sea salt sometimes too, especially when I bought it at a HUGE bakesale with all of the proceeds going to Japan. Yum.

And ok, I believe that a balanced diet also allows a trip to Oakland's newest mac n' cheese hotspot, Homeroom. "Mac the Goat" (goat cheese and scallions) and Peanut Butter Pie. I couldn't pass up the opportunity. It was phenomenal.

Alright alright, back to quick healthy meals. Today I took a walk to the farmer's market. I sat in the sun, I started to read a book for fun, and I bought some colorful items to cook for dinner.

Chioggia Beets (google image them, so beautiful!) aka Candy-Stripe Beets:

Red-Stemmed Swiss Chard:

Yuba aka Tofu Skins:

I roasted the beets with a little water for about 45 minutes to an hour. I chopped my beets and added them to my sauteed chard. I mixed everything together with some quinoa and black beans and topped it all off with my spicy yuba.

I now have a happy tummy. I've been needing this.

But really, can you please come over for dinner? I need some company and I want to cook for you AND I will do your dishes. Please. It will be fun, I promise.

Roasted Beets, Sauteed Chard, and Quinoa Salad with YUBA!!!

I listed all of the ingredients in italics before each step

Serves 4-6 (or 1 + leftovers!)

Beets, about 1 pound
red vinegar

1. Roast your beets. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Wash and trim your beets then place them in a baking pan, sprinkle the beets with salt, and fill the pan with about 1/8th of an inch of water. Cover and roast for about 30 minutes to an hour, until a knife can very easily pierce the beets through to the center. Cool, peel (I used a combo of a paring knife plus my hands; its messy, don't sweat it), chop, and sprinkle with salt and some red vinegar.

1 onion, chopped
1 bunch chard
water or broth

2. Saute the chard. Slice an onion and set aside. Wash your chard. Pull the leaves from the ribs. Trim the ends from the ribs and then cut them into thin slices. Cut the leaves into wide ribbons. Heat a pan with about 2 tablespoons olive oil. Add the onion and saute for about 5 minutes. Add the chard and cook until the leaves are tender. Add some salt. Add a little bit of water or stock if the pan gets dry and the onions begin to stick and brown.

1 cup dry quinoa

1 cup water
1 cup broth

3. Prepare your quinoa. I used 1 cup of quinoa (rinsed), 1 cup of vegetable broth (leftover from making my polenta earlier this week), and 1 cup of water. Combine everything in the pan, boil, then reduce heat and simmer for about 15 mintues.

Everything in steps 1-3 + black beans + yuba

4. Assembly. Combine the beets and the chard. Dump the quinoa into the mix. I added black beans because I had some left over from earlier in the week. Salt, pepper, vinegar (I used red), and top with yuba, or cheese, or nuts, or whatever the heck you feel like.