Day of Honey by journalist Annia Ciezadlo will leave you hankering to make so many of the recipes from her time in Iraq and Lebanon. This is not a cookbook but a memoir of reporting from there over a six year period. Freekah or fire roasted green wheat is slowly becoming available here in speciality stores. I love the texture of it and have added it to soups and also made it into pilaf.
Another newcomer to the U.S. are green garbanzo beans! So far I have only been able to find these frozen at Whole Foods. This recipe is very loosely based on the one in Annia's book.
2 Tbsp. butter
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 large carrot, diced
1 large onion, diced, or bag of frozen pearl onions
1 stalk of celery, diced
2 cups freekah
4 cups chicken stock, warmed
1 bag of frozen green garbanzo beans (or regular canned garbanzos), defrosted
Salt and Pepper
Place a large caserole over medium to low heat and allow to warm. Add the oil and butter and melt. Now add the onions, carrot and celery and cook until the vegetable start to get light golden. Pour the freekah in and stir to coat. Once the freekah starts to sizzle, pour in the stock and allow to come to a boil. Cover and cook until all the liquid is all absorbed, about 30 minutes. Remove from heat and add the garbanzos, cover again and let rest for 15 minutes.
Just before serving, toss well, adjust seasonings and add any freshly chopped herbs you like. Freekah pilaf would pair well with my Bahrat Marinated Pork Tenderloin or Moroccan Chicken with Raosted Red Bell Peppers.
August 20th, 2012
This recipe was inspired by a pin I found on pinterest. The original recipe is from Spoon, Fork and Bacon. I've been making these a lot this summer. There's been no complaints and loads of compliments.
It's a very versatile recipe in that any good quality cheese works and you can also add other vegetables like grated summer squash or leftover cooked corn. They make a great accompaniment to just about any dish but can also be featured as the main source of protein for a vegetarian dinner.
The changes I made to the original recipe are as follows: I used rainbow quinoa, cooked corn and Dubliner cheddar cheese. The key is to make these nice and flat so that they crisp up. Adding some Panko bread crumbs would be nice too. The gals at Spoon, Fork and Bacon, serve these with aioli but I don't think they require adornment. If you are serving as an entree you might want to make a nice fresh salsa.
1 1/2 cups cooked rainbow (or tri-colored) quinoa
1/2 cup cooked corn
1/2 tsp, fresh thyme leaves
3 Tbsp. flour
2 scallions, sliced thinly
2/3 cup grated Fontina or Dubliner cheese
2 eggs lightly beaten
salt and pepper
oil for frying
Place the quinoa into a large bowl and add the seasonings, flour and scallions. Pour in the lightly beaten eggs and mix well. Now add the cheese. Heat a large skillet and add the oil, just enough to coat the pan generously.
Make the patties – I suggest using a 1/4 cup measuring cup to scoop out and then form them quickly with your hands – and fry them for about about 5 minutes on each side over medium/low heat. This recipe makes about 12. You can keep them warm in the oven before serving.
Photos courtesy of Sally Cole. Models: Two of my dearest and "oldest" freinds.
August 12th, 2012
Hot weather in the Rockies calls for cool salad ideas. One of my favorite salads is a simple cucumber made with Fage yogurt. I have made this before with Bulgarian style yogurt but this thick Greek yogurt takes the prize. Seriously thick, there is no sense of depravation with the o% fat. For those of you who haven't tried this style of yogurt, the key differentiator with Greek style yogurt is that it is strained of its water. As a result it is creamier and has a higher protein content.
Thanks to Fage, the interest in this traditional style of yogurt has created a multi-million dollar category at the grocery store. Fage is by far the most prominent (and one of the best in my humble opinion) as it was first to market. But there are lots of brands out there now offering this style yogurt. Just make sure that the ingredient statment doesn't include gums or stabilizers, as these are not true Greek yogurts.
Cool, Creamy Cucumbers
1 large English cucumber, sliced 1/4 inch thick on the diagonal
1/2 bunch chives, snipped, or 3 scallions, sliced thinly
1 cup Fage 0% yogurt
1 fresh lime, zest from 1/2 the lime, and then juiced (freshly squeezed orange juice works nicely too)
4 or 5 sprigs of cilantro (or fresh mint), chopped
2 cloves fresh garlic, minced
salt and pepper or Grains of Paradise
rice wine vinegar to taste, or the juice of 1/2 an orange
1/4 cup Olive oil
Water -to thin out as desired.
salt and pepper
Place the cucumbers into a large bowl. In a separate mixing bowl add the yogurt to your seasonings and stir. Now add the citrus juices and/or rice wine vinegar. Mix well and then slowly add the olive oil. Adjust seasonings and add water if you want it thinner – to your liking.
Pour mixture over the cucumbers. Toss to coat the cukes well. You can place in the refrigerator for a few hours but just before serving mix them again and garnish as you wish. These would be swell with quinoa patties which are posting in a few days.
August 7th, 2012
From Kimberly Mayone
If it is your job to bring dessert to the next neighborhood party, make this cake! I have been making it for years, ever since Amanda Hesser published Cooking for Mr. Latte in 2004.
The recipe actaully belongs to Amanda's mother who often baked at night which is one of my habits as well. The cake is made with pantry ingredients and the recipe is quite simple, no mixer required.
Unlike some cakes, this cake stores well in the fridge and it can even be served cold with much success. This is an added bonus for a summer cake. Divine and chocolately, it is one of my all-time favorites. The cake is so moist and lovely. The frosting is made by mixing room temperature sour cream and melted chocolate chips resulting in a glossy, slightly tangy decadent frosting.
Click here, for the original recipe is posted on Food52. I promise, you will not be disappointed.
July 11th, 2012
From Kimberly Mayone
These Martha Stewart dandies were Mimi's Mother's day present this year and oh my were they ever good. Part cookie, part candy and full of coconut – what's not to love? Did I mention, 3, yes 3, sticks of butter?
As with most Martha recipes, these came together exactly as the recipe stated. I made them a little too large but it was no big deal. The egg-free dough was very interesting, soft and very pliable. The mechanics of the recipe were a bit tedious with all the dipping, coating and pressing but the end result was well worth the effort.
These are the perfect cookie for gifting especially for those who crave coconut and caramel. Since they are quite gorgeous and sturdy, one could also offer them as part of a dessert buffet for a party. For the recipe, click here.
Coconut Thumbprint Cookies with Salted Caramel
from Martha Stewart
3 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
12 ounces sweetened flaked coconut
44 small soft caramel candies (12 ounces), such as Kraft
6 tablespoons heavy cream
Large, flaky sea salt, such as Maldon
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Beat together butter and sugar with a mixer on medium speed until pale and fluffy, then beat in vanilla. With mixer on low, gradually add flour and 1/2 teaspoon table salt, and beat to combine. Press dough together in plastic wrap, then roll into 1 1/4-inch balls.
- Dip each ball in beaten egg, and roll in coconut. Place balls on parchment-lined baking sheets, and press an indentation into each with your thumb. Bake for 10 minutes, then remove sheets from oven, and re-press indentations. Bake cookies until golden, 9 to 10 minutes more. Let cool on wire racks. Repeat with remaining dough.
- Place caramels and heavy cream in a small saucepan over low heat. Cook, stirring constantly, until the caramels are melted and mixture is smooth, 4 to 6 minutes. Spoon into indentations in cookies, and sprinkle with sea salt. Rewarm caramel if it hardens before all cookies are filled.
June 27th, 2012
From Kimberly Mayone
About two weeks ago, I arrived home to a large bunch of gorgeous, fuschia rhubarb delivered by a dear friend who knows of and shares in my love of rhubarb.
Three cheers for door to door rhubarb deliveries.
And as the cooking gods would have it, the lovely Alana over at Eating from the Ground Up had just baked this simple but excellent cake with rhubarb as the star ingredient. This is precisely the kind of rustic fruit cake that I adore. So Thank you Nigel Slater and Alana for this delightful, tender, sweet cake.
I was intrigued by the baking of the rhubarb before it became an ingredient in the cake. This step delivered attractive, tender, intact rhubarb pieces and bright pink cooking liquid that is spooned over the cake before eating – oh my. It is also delicious stirred into seltzer for a kid-friendly spring into summer spritzer.
With the use of a food processor, this cake came together quite easily. Do not let the polenta component confuse you, there is no polenta making involved, just coarse ground ground meal that adds a nice bite to the cake's texture.
My Mother's Day present to myself
Making the batter, I pulsed a few times too many but the recipe worked just fine.
Ready to bake!
Yum, yum, gimme some! Ready to eat.
Rhubarb Polenta Cake
Thank you to Eating From the Ground Up
Adapted from Nigel Slater, Ripe: A Cook in the Orchard
1 pound rhubarb
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
3/4 cup coarse ground cornmeal
1 1/2 cups plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp. orange zest
10 Tbsp. cold butter, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 large egg
2 to 4 Tbsp. milk
1 Tbsp. turbinado or regular sugar
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place a baking sheet in the oven. Grease and flour an 8-inch cake pan or baking dish. Set aside.
2. Cut rhubarb into into 3-inch pieces. Put them into a baking dish, scatter them with the sugar and water, and bake for about 20-25 minutes, or until soft. Drain rhubarb in a colander over a bowl to collect the cooking liquid. Set aside the rhubarb and the strained liquid.
3. While the rhubarb is cooking, Add cornmeal, flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and sugar into the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until mixed. Add the orange zest and butter. Pulse again until the mixture is uniform with the butter approximately the size of small peas.
4. Whisk the egg with 2 Tbsp. of milk and add it to the processor bowl. Pulse a few times until you have a batter that is crumbly but comes together when pressed between your fingers. Add additional milk, 1 Tbsp. at a time until the right consistency is acheived.
5. Press 2/3 of the batter into the cake pan in an even layer. Make a layer of cooked rhubarb pieces. For the top layer, add clumps and crumbs of the remaining dough, leaving some places where the fruit can be seen. Sprinkle the sugar over the top of the cake. Place cake onto the hot baking sheet. Bake for 45 to 55 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean and the top is slightly golden.
6. Allow to cool for at least 20 minutes before removing from the pan. I left mine right in the baking dish. Serve this cake with some of the reserved cooking liquid and something creamy like ice cream of yogurt.
May 24th, 2012
Normally I am the first person to say, "I am an omnivore, and I don't have any dilemmas"- which isn't exactly true. I participate in Meatless Mondays and really try to carry on the practice 4 times a week. I care greatly about the presence of genetically modified foods in our country. And every spring there comes a need to re-set my eating habits.
Last year Kimberly wrote about her 21 Day Vegan Cleanse. I have just completed a 14 day cleanse that was brought on by my allergies and a need to kick some bad habits that had formed over the past few months. In the process I began to really think about my relationship with food. I am not the only aging food professional who has been on this quest of late either.
Well known NY Times columnist, cookbook author, and blogger Mark Bittman wrote about being vegan before dinner when he learned that he needed to shed some weight for health reasons. Peter Kaminsky's soon to be released book Culinary Intelligence explores how to maximize flavor per calorie. In his own words "This book is all about pursuing the pleasures of the table on the path to good health." And this piece about sugar as a pro-oxidant on 60 Minutes was incredibly interesting to watch and equally compelling to greatly reduce my intake of simple sugars.
In any event, I certainly don't prescribe to the Kate Moss school of "Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels." However, there is something about spring that makes me want to rid my house and my body of built up toxins. In the process of greatly reducing the amount of calories I ate everyday, not drinkning alcohol, gluten, dairy, sugar or meat, and thinking carefully about what I ate for 14 days I came to an understanding about my eating habits. The end result was a few less pounds, greatly improved sleep and many new recipes and products that I am going to start incorportating into my life (see below).
Before going on my vegan cleanse I thought that not eating meat and cheese for that long would be really difficult. Interestingly enough the hardest things to give up were sweets and wine. Which made me realize that I really needed to make a simple change in my eating habits and replace those cravings with better choices.
Pantry staples for an enjoyable cleanse:
South River Miso – Dandelion is a natural diuretic so this was a flavor I used. Don't hestitate to try all their amazing types of miso.
Rejuvila – Use this is your smoothies. I made it with freshly squeezed orange juice and a banana.
On the days when I needed protein I added a scoop of this raw protein powder which is made from a plethora of raw organic sprouted grains and beans. No, it doesn't taste good but it did the job.
Nettle Tea by Traditional Medicinals
Deep Cleasnse Tea By Bija
It's easy enough to make nut milks but there are quite a few unsweetened milk alternatives on the market that are quite good. I especially like the new cashew, almond hazelnut flavor (which isn't on the website) from Hain Celestial. Some of them have only 50 calories and taste great in chai but are also good for smoothies.
Kale – Making kale chips was a critical as it gave me something crunchy and slightly salty, I also got in the habit of putting a raw piece of kale into freshly squeezed orange juice and blending it up. Spinach works well too.
If you need something creamy to eat, cashew hummus will satisfy.
When is the last time you re-evaluated your relationship with food? If you make the effort for spring cleaning your home, maybe it is time to consider a spring cleanse for your body?
May 4th, 2012
Keeping a blog does require a fair amount of keeping up to date with other blogs on the web. For the most part this is a pleasure but at times it can be a chore as there are literally millions of food blogs out there. Two of my personal favorites are food52 and The Kitchn.
While not all the recipes have been perfect, I have been inspired by both of these sites. food52 is a crowd source recipe site. They have contests every week and the co-founders Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubs test the recipes- with some volunteers/cooking enthusiasts. What I love about this site is you can create a profile and store the recipes that you want to try. I have about 36 saved there for inspiration. A few of them have been indoctrinated into my ever expanding repetoire. Two faves are is the shaved brussel sprout salad with lemon and precorino cheese, and absurdley addictive asparagus.
Over the winter two of my favorite one pot dinners came from Apartment Therapy's the Kitchn. This chicken and tomato no boil pasta bake was a winner. Luckily I read through all the comments before I made it. I used fresh chicken thighs and thought it was perfect. If you like canned chicken (I've never tried it) by all means use it. I think the idea of using a store-bought rotisserie chicken is ok – if not a bit more expensive – but I am here to say that using quickly seared and chopped chicken thighs is delicious. I would think breast meat would dry out too much since this recipe bakes for 50 minutes at 400 degrees.
Another Kitchn recipe success was braised French Onion Chicken with Broiled Guyere Cheese. This recipe is an absolute winner and I encourage anyone who is infatuated with a good French onion soup, to try this twist for a hearty meal. The addition of balsamic vinegar and Dijon mustard make this dish. I omitted the rosemary as it's not an herb my kids like. For the recipe click here.
Whichever site you end up using, make aure to read thru all the comments on the recipes. They offer valuable hints and information. Many people suggest great substitutions and speak frankly about their failures with the recipe. Sometimes you can even get some drama.
My current version of the Chicken and Tomatoe No Boil Pasta Bake uses the following ingredient substitutions:
Muir Glenn Diced Tomaotes with Basil and Garlic
Ian's Panko Italian Style Bread Crumbs
BioNautre Egg Papparadelle
I also used 1 1/2 cups milk and 1/2 cup homemade chicken stock. It is really important to use foil between the lid and the pot as you don't want this dish to dry out.
More on one pot dinners coming soon…
April 23rd, 2012
If you are from the east coast then you might know about Ring Dings. I think west of the Mississippi they are called Ho Ho's, either way this cake was inspired by my favorite treat when I was a kid. This is a super easy cake to make and you don't even need an electric mixer.
This recipe is perfect for a round cake that feeds 10. The key is you want to have a proportionate amount of cake to whipped cream. You can even make it into a four layer cake by slcing the rounds in half. If you want to make a sheet cake, I recommend doubling the recipe.
For the cake:
1 2/3 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup buttermilk (if you don't want to purchase butter milk, then make sour milk by adding 1 Tbsp. white vinegar to 1 cup milk and let sit for 20 minutes. Lemon jucie works well too.)
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 tsp. vanilla
1 cup mini chocolate chips
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter or coat 2 round cake tins with non-stick spray and line the bottom with parchment paper. This will make it easier to get the cake out of the pan. You can also use a 9×13 inch pan as well.
In a large bowl sift together the dry ingredients. In a large measuring cup place all your wet ingredients and mix them loosely together. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ones and mix well. Stir in the chips.
Pour into prepared baking pans. Bake until a toothpick comes out of the center clean, about 35 to 45 minutes for lage pan and 20 to 25 for the smaller round pans. Allow cake to cool completely. Remove from pan. If you are making a sheet cake and did not double the recipe, now you have to slice the cake in half accross the middle of the cake. With two large knives, gently lift the top layer and place on the side.
For the Cream center (you will need to double this if you are doubling the sheet cake version, or making your round cake into 4 layers)
1 pint whipping cream
sugar to taste
Whip the cream until nice, soft peaks form any way you wish. I like to do it by hand when only using 1 cup heavy cream. It doesn't take that long. Set the whipped cream in the refrigerator while you make the ganache. For that recipe, click here.
Once the ganache is made, spread the cooled whipped cream on top of one layer of the cake. Leave about 1/4 inch all along the sides. Now place the other cake half on top and press down ever so lightly. Take the warm ganache and starting right at the center of the cake, pour some of the ganache on top. With a flat pastry knife, spread the glaze right to the end.
Pour on a bit more and slowly bring is down towards the sides and spread it evenly all around the sides. Place the cake in the refrigerator or someplace cool for about 1/2 an hour (or overnight) just to let the ganache set. I use a can of prepared whipped cream to decorate the cake. You can them deocorate with raspberries of sliced strawberries. Enjoy!
April 15th, 2012
From Kimberly Mayone
These cupcakes are seriously so cute I can hardly stand it. Created by two very talented SMCC Culinary Arts students, these little dandies were served at our buffet luncheon today. I am not able to share the recipe at this time because I wanted to get the post up before Sunday.
These cupcakes are medium-sized with cream cheese frosting. Toasted coconut and Jordan almonds decorated with colored royal icing provide all the decoration any cupcake could need. Honestly, on the cute scale these might just rank the best.
I picked up these tulips at Trader Joe's in an attempt to ease an overly chilly, stressy week.
On Wednesday, when I had more things to do before noon than most folks have to accomplish in an entire day, their beauty and the sun hitting them just right forced me to stop in my exhausted, almost undone tracks – a little dose of perspective so to speak. I forced myself to stop momentarily, snap a few photos and relax with a cup of tea. It did not shorten to "to do" list but it did improve my attitude.
May your gardens be green, your bellies be full and your worries be few.
Happy Spring Flavoristas & Happy Easter too!
April 7th, 2012