Sunday, April 26, 2009

4/26/09: Vanilla/Chocolate cake with Orange buttercream frosting

A great flavorful cake!

Set over to 350 and grease two 8-9" cake pans.

Mince 1 vanilla bean and place into 1/2 C boiling water and let steep.

Mix together 1 C white flour, 3/4 C cocoa powder, 1.5tsp baking powder, 1 tsp cinnamon and .5 tsp salt.

Separate four eggs. Mix 5/8 C white sugar with 5/8 C brown sugar with the vanilla water and the yolks and 1/4 C neutral oil (canola, veg, etc). Add flour/cocoa mixture and mix well.

Beat whites to stiff peaks and fold by hand into batter.

divide batter into pans, bake for 25 minutes. Turn cakes out onto wire racks or cutting boards to cool.

Heat 1/2 stick butter until melted in stove or microwave. zest 1/2 - 1 orange rind into orange and mix with 10X confectioners sugar (or grind your own in the coffee/spice grinder) until thick. Add about 1/4 C milk and a bit more 10x confectioners until the frosting is drippy but a fingertip will hold about a tsp of frosting.

Once cake is cooled, spread frosting on the bottom layer, and place the top layer on top. Frost the top and sides. Serve - especially good with whipped cream or a good vanilla gelato.

4/26/09: Making Yogurt

Yogurt is 2.09 a quart. Milk is around 3.50 per gallon. Using this logic, I deicided to try to make yogurt at home to save money. You'll need a thermometer that goes from 100 F to 220 F, gallon/half gallon of milk, 1 or 2 cups of yogurt, a large glass jar (or old yogurt containers), a towel and a warm place to keep the yogurt for 7-14 hours.

Pour the milk into a large deep saucepan and slowly bring to a boil (if you have a large capacity double boiler, use it!). Put the yogurt in a bowl at room temperature and allow to warm while the milk heats up. bring the milk just to a boil and remove from heat. When the temperature reaches around 105 F, whisk the milk and yogurt together and put into the glass bottle. Close the bottle gently (less than finger tight) and wrap in a warm towel. Place in a warm spot (or in an insulated cooler) for 7-12 hours, then refrigerate.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

4/21/09: Udon with broccoli, tofu and shiitakes

Basic recipe is from the New York Times:

Get a large pot on water boiling, and chop a head of broccoli (about a pound) into florets. Cut a half pound of firm (or dry) tofu into squares, bite sized. Cut your shiitakes (~6oz, but if you're low on shiitakes, cut up some creminis to add) into slices. Now would also be a good time to get out your sambal or red chiles, peel a couple garlic cloves, grab some ginger root and a grater and make sure you've got your udon (or soba) noodles ready to go, with a couple big bowls for putting stuff into.

First, the broccoli - blanch for a minute in the boiling water and remove with a slotted spoon to a bowl, but keep the water hot as you'll need it for the udon.

Get a deep saucepan heating on high with about a tbsp of oil (I like peanut) in it. Once the oil is hot, saute the shiitakes for a few minutes until they begin to soften and look translucent. Turn the heat down to medium, add 4-6 chopped scallions, about a tsp of sambal (chile and garlic paste), some grated ginger (about a tablespoon, and I freeze the ginger beforehand so it's super easy to grate) and a couple crushed garlic cloves. Saute until fragrant and add to the broccoli bowl. Udon takes about ~12 minutes to cook (soba takes 8), so add it to the boiling water now.

Keep the temp hot on the pan and add the tofu. A little sesame oil or soy sauce would go well here, and stir fry the tofu until it is lightly browned, then add all the mushrooms and broccoli back into the pan. Grab some stock, or stock concentrate and dissolve about a tsp into a cup of water and add to the pan with mushrooms and broccoli. Let simmer on medium low while the udon is cooking.

When the udon is done, drain the noodles and put into a big bowl. Pour the broccoli/mushroom/tofu mix on the noodles, toss a bit and enjoy.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

4/16/09: Fast lunch, leftover pilaf with vegetables

I had some of that pilaf I made the other day left over, and wanted to turn it into a lunch.

Cut up 1/4 lb of hard tofu into chunks (squares, triangles...) and toss into a hot pan with some sesame oil. Chop maybe 1/3 of a head of broccoli and a few shiitake mushrooms (or other good mushrooms) and add to the pan once the tofu has begun to brown. Cover for a couple minutes to allow the broccoli to steam and soften slightly, then uncover and splash with soy sauce (maybe 1-2 tbsp) and turn heat off. Allow to cool, and add to rice. This is a dish that can be elaborated on immensely, but when you need to leave for work and want to bring in lunch, this gets you food in under 10 minutes. If you've got extra time, consider adding a bit of ginger, some green onions at the end or some nuts to garnish. You can also do the tofu and vegetables separately, and dress the tofu with soy sauce and sprinkle with nutritional yeast, which is just delicious.

4/16/09: Easy soba noodles with vegetables and thai peanut sauce

This one is easy mainly because I am using Thai Kitchen's Peanut Satay sauce as a base, but mixing a good peanut butter (should contain peanuts and nothing else) with a little sugar, coconut milk and sambal (chiles and garlic) will give you the same general feel. Definitely use fresh cilantro if you've got it with this recipe.

Get a couple quarts of water covered and ready to boil for the soba noodles.

Chop a head of broccoli, a couple carrots, 1/2-3/4 pound hard tofu, some mushrooms and some green onions. Stir fry vegetables for a few minutes, then add tofu and cover for 5-10 minutes, this steams the vegetables so they'll be tender, and uses the water from the tofu to do it.

Open the satay sauce and scoop into a large bowl. Rinse the jar the sauce came in with water and add to the sauce in the bowl. Add some sambal, or chopped red chiles and a couple cloves of garlic. If you have thai basil, chop some clean leaves and add them to the sauce. Turn the heat down on your vegetables and tofu (med-low) and add the sauce. Let simmer while the noodles cook.

Once your water is boiling, put the soba noodles (I cook 8 oz packages) in the water and boil for 8 minutes or until the noddles are soft but not mushy. Drain.

Grab some noodles (tongs or a pasta spoon work well for this) and dress with the sauce, and garnish with peanuts (or cashews) and fresh cilantro if you've got it. Enjoy!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

4/14/09: A good pilaf

Rice pilaf is probably one of the more marketed and packaged dishes that are really easy to do. Middle East (food company) markets about 10 billion varieties of pilaf, but real rice pilaf is not only cheaper, but a lot better for you. I ran out of brown rice, so this recipe uses white rice.

Pour 1 quart (4C) water into a medium sized saucepan. Add some stock cubes or better than bullion type concentrated stock and whisk into solution. Add 2 C white rice and bring to a boil over high heat. While waiting for everything to boil, add 2 large crushed or finely minced garlic cloves and some freshly ground black pepper. Fresh or dried thyme and sage would also be good here. If you have it, add about a quarter to half a cup of orzo (available in the rice section of most supermarkets). Once the rice is boiling, bring to a simmer for 20-25 minutes, taking the lid off at the end if there is extra moisture that needs to be steamed off. This recipe would also be good with nuts, particularly almonds if slivered, or pecans. The nuts can be added at either the beginning or the end, depending on what texture you desire.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

4/12/09: Oft requested - overnight waffles

I definitely got this recipe from Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything.

Do this the night before you want to eat the waffles, and allow at least 8+ hours to rise.

In a large bowl, put 2 cups white or wheat flour or a mix, 1-2 tbsp sugar, dash cinnamon, 1 tsp vanilla extract and 1-2 tsp yeast (instant or non-instant, either works). Add 1/2 C melted butter (I use smart balance) and 2 C milk or substitute (I use silk). Mix gently until loose and creamy. Cover with saran wrap, leave in a warm place (70ish degree if possible) and allow to rise o/n.

In the morning, separate 2 eggs and add the yolks to the risen batter. Beat the whites (using a whisk or electric mixer) until they form soft peaks and gently fold into the batter using your hand or a silicone baking spatula. Make as pancakes on a hot griddle or as waffles in a waffle iron and enjoy. ALWAYS serve with real maple syrup if possible ;).

These are also good when adding chocolate chips or nuts to the batter if desired. You can make these into gingerbread waffles/pancakes by grating some fresh ginger into the batter, at least 1-2 tbsp, and maybe adding a little brown sugar and cloves/more cinnamon and nutmeg.

Friday, April 10, 2009

4/10/09: Kosher for Passover - Quinoa Pilaf

This one is great, since it adapts to many restricted diets - it's kosher, as well as kosher for passover (quinoa is I think the only allowed grain since it's technically a grass), vegan and gluten free.

Chop an onion finely into slices and grate 1-2 medium carrots. Stir fry in a deep pot (one you'd use to cook rice or other grains in) until slightly browned, add a couple crushed cloves of garlic if you like and add the quinoa and gently stir fry until slightly browned. Add water to cover by an inch or two and cover. Boil for a couple minutes then bring down to a simmer. If you have some good fresh or dried herbs, add them now. I used thyme, sage and rosemary (no parsley though!). Set a kitchen timer to 25 minutes and let the quinoa simmer.

While the quinoa is cooking, thinly slice 1-2 medium portobello caps (med to me is ~3" in diameter) ~2 C white mushrooms, and ~10 shiitake caps. These three are nice and easy to find, but any good mushroom will work here, the more variety, the better. Slice, and saute in a nonstick pan with a little olive oil for flavor. You can add a little fresh or dried tarragon here if you like. Once the mushrooms are done, tip them on top of the cooking quinoa, grind a good bit of sea salt and fresh black pepper on top and let finish cooking. If the quinoa is tender but still a bit wet, take the cover off and let cook on low-medium heat for 5-10 minutes to let the water boil off. If the quinoa is still hard-ish, recover, add a little more water if needed and let simmer for 5-10 minutes and test again. If you bring this to a seder or potluck, cover the entire pot in a towel to keep it warm!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

4/9/09: deluxe red curry

This is red curry with all the trimmings! We had tofu, scrambled egg, avocado, broccoli, bamboo shoots, straw mushrooms, shiitake mushrooms, portobello mushrooms and white button mushrooms. Also included were a sauce of sambal and red curry paste (thai kitchen) in coconut milk. I added a little soy sauce as well. This verison of the recipe feeds 4-6.

First get your brown rice going (or white) in a deep pot. pretty much add as much rice as you want, cover by about an inch of water, put on the stove and bring to a boil, then simmer until done (probably 30-40 minutes for brown rice).

open a can of cocnut milk (we needed a 24 ounce can for this recipe) and whisk in about 2-3Tbsp of red curry paste, add thai basil leaves (washed and chopped, as much as you like)

chop a head of broccoli into florets, slice 1-3 carrots on the diagonal, and slice the mushrooms thinly. Zucchini would go well here, if you have it.

Chop a pound of tofu into cubes and stir fry in a non-stick pan until brown. Once done, let marinade in red curry and coconut.

In a large wok or frying pan, stir fry the vegetables until crisp but cooked (DON'T add the avocado yet!). If you are using canned bamboo shoots or other canned vegetables, wait until near the end to add, and I prefer to add the veggies drained of their water, personally. When the veggies are almost done, turn the heat down to medium-low and pour the tofu and sauce into the wok. Let simmer.

Beat 2-3 eggs in a bowl and gently scramble in a non-stick pan, Chop roughly with the spatula and add to the simmering curry. Add the avocado at this time as well, cut into chunks or slices.

There you go! The rice should be about done by the time you finish cooking, so ladle some curry onto the rice and have at it!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

4/7/09: Breakfast - yogurt and berries

Probably my favorite breakfast ever, aside from yeasted waffles.

cut up some strawberries, wash (maybe half a cup).
wash half a cup of blackberries (or raspberries, cloudberries, etc)

I put the berries in a 16oz mason jar and sprinkle about a tsp of sugar (~12g) on top to get the berries to release moisture. top with about a cup of plain yogurt (high fat is best, but low fat is acceptable, especially if greek yogurt is used) and maybe a little vanilla extract or cinnamon if you like. I then ride my bike to work with this jar in my backpack (encased in a bread bag to prevent spills) and everything gets all mixed and ready to eat by the time I get to work. This recipe is why I can't really excuse myself from breakfast anymore - it's too easy to make.

4/5/09: Sunday dessert! Coconut Lime Bars

This recipe is from Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything Vegetarian.

grate 4 tsp lime zest from 3-4 limes (this is a lot of zest, measure it accurately for a true lime flavor here). Mix the zest with half a cup of sugar and one cup butter (cream it!) and 2 cups flour. Mix well and press into a 9 x 13 ungreased pan - this is your crust. Bake at 350 for about 20 minutes. Remove and cool a bit, make the filling while it cooks.

Beat 6 eggs with 3 cups sugar and 1/2 C fresh squeezed lime juice (I like to add some vanilla bean or extract here) until bright, uniform and fluffy. Add 6 tbsp flour and 1 tsp baking soda and mix well. Pour on top of the crust and top with some coconut (sweetened and unsweetened work well). Cook at 350 for 25-30 minutes and allow to cool completely before eating (the fridge for about an hour is appropriate). Keeps for 2-5 days.

4/6/09: yesterday, a day late: farfalle with vegetable sauce

A good protein heavy meal, lots of vegetables and flavor.

Step one: get the water going for your pasta - an 8 quart pot, about half full (low water usage!) and cover on high.

Cut up 1-2 medium onions and grate 1 large carrot or two medium ones. Saute in a pan on medium until translucent. Crush 1-4 garlic cloves into the sauce, and cut up 1-2 zucchinis (sliced thin into circles) and add to the pan. If you have any, add about 1/2 cup red wine to the pan at this step. If things are sticking, add a little olive oil (I do this in non-stick pans) and allow everything to cook down a bit. Add a few leaves of fresh thyme and fresh chopped basil (or dried, your preference). Open a can of tomato puree or crushed tomatoes and add to the pan with vegetables (24 ounce can sounds right). Add about half a cup of tvp/tsp, (textured soy protein, available at most food coops and health type stores) and mix in well. Add sea salt or regular salt, to taste, also some freshly ground black pepper. Let simmer on low, covered.

Your water should be about ready to boil now, so add the farfalle to the pot and stir occasionally. Farfalle takes 10-13 mins. Once the pasta is done, add a cup or so of the water (which should be yellow-tinted) to the pasta sauce, stir well and uncover to let the sauce thicken slightly. Drain the pasta. Grate a little parmesan or mozzarella, cover about a cup of pasta with 1/2 to 3/4 cup sauce and garnish with cheese.

4/7/09: pumpkin curry soup with naan

pumpkin curry soup sounds exotic, but is really easy. The hardest thing in this soup is the curry powder, which I make myself and will describe how to make here:

curry powder:
1 part tumeric
2 parts ground cumin seeds
2 parts ground coriander
1-2 parts ground gram masala, chiles, pepper, cardamom (especially elcha black), sea salt, mustard (pick and choose or use them all!). I grind these in a coffee grinder, well cleaned, then mix all the powders together in a shaker container with a pereforated top and a handle, which I think was bought at goodwill or the dollar store.

peel and cut two onions in half, then slice thinly (so you get nice thin strips of onion). saute in a deep skillet or pan (I prefer nonstick on gas stoves) until slightly translucent, then add the curry powder. I don't measure here, just dash it on until fragrant. cover the onions and set heat to low - allow to cook until nearly formless and very see-through.

While the onions are cooking, grab two 15 ounce cans of pure pumpkin, open and empty into a large deep pot, at least 8 quart capacity. rinse the cans out with warm water and add the rinse to the pot as well. This is a thick soup. If you like, add some broth, I use vegetable "better than bullion", and about 1-2 tsp of the concentrate. put over low-medium heat and cover.

once the onions are done, either: blend in food processor until nearly uniform, or add to the soup, mix, and ladle a couple cups at a time into the food processor before returning to the pot. I generally add some silk and smart balance (or use milk and butter) during the processing here, just a small amount of each to add a nice richness to the soup. Once the soup is as blended and creamy as you like, let simmer for a while and prep and cook the naans (i'll try to get a good naan recipe here, Randy makes those so I know less about this part). Garnish with sour cream and cilantro if desired. Good for cold nights!