Monday, June 16, 2014

Herb Your Enthusiasm

We inherited the most beautiful garden that anyone could ever ask for when we moved from Brooklyn to Troy, New York. But with such a garden comes immense responsibility. This past weekend, I found the herbs in the garden to be tremendously overgrown, with some in danger of going to seed. So I had to take swift action. I pruned all of the herbs and made lots of herbed butter, added dill to pickled beets, and I made a quiche that's a real keeper.

I remember friends in London making a pie-like dinner once with what seemed like an ethereal ease. I've always struggled with crusts, so whenever I watch someone make a crust and transfer it to a pie pan, I am in awe. So I messaged my UK friends and got the recipe: flour, butter, salt, cold water. Then I looked around for a recipe for the rest. I didn't want to have to go to the grocery store, so I just looked around for what I had in the house: smoked chicken sausage in the freezer, a lone yam, some garlic cloves, red onion, and a ton of broccoli leaves from my overripe broccoli plants.
 I followed this terrifically handy recipe: a mix & match quiche formula that turned out great.

And, D loved it. Because real men eat quiche, and love it.

Sausage, Greens & Yam Quiche in Herbed Crust

1 cup flour
5 tbsp butter
3 tbsp finely chopped herbs
1 tsp salt
5 tbsp ice water
1 egg
3 sausages
1/2 small-to-medium sized yam
2 cups of chopped greens (I used fresh broccoli leaves)
3 cloves garlic
1/2 red onion
1/2 cup mozzarella cheese
3 eggs
1 1/4 cup milk
salt & pepper to taste

At some point during this process, roast your yam. You can also use roasted garlic instead of sauteeing it as below.

Combine the flour with the butter and salt, either in a food processor or by hand until the flour and butter have combined into little lumps. Add in chopped herbs and ice water a little bit at a time until the dough begins to form into a ball. Refrigerate in a ball for 1/2 hour. When it's chilled, roll out the dough to fit a 9" pie shell. Fit into a pie pan and pinch the edges. Brush with beaten egg wash. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 8-10 minutes. Set aside.

Saute garlic and red onion in a cast iron pan. Add diced sausage until cooked through (you can dice before you cook the sausage, or after) and then add the chopped greens. When fully cooked, add diced roasted yam. Allow the mixture to thoroughly cool, and then add 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella.

Place about 1 1/2 - 2 cups of the sausage/veggie/cheese mixture into the pie shell.

Whisk the eggs & milk with salt & pepper to taste, and pour over the vegetables in the pie shell.

Bake for 45 minutes at 350 degrees; the egg mixture custard will appear to be too liquidy well into that 45 minutes but be patient. The last 10 minutes will see your custard rise a bit and then solidify. When the center stops jiggling and begins to brown just a touch, it's ready. Let sit for 5-10 minutes after you take it out of the oven and before you cut it. The puffy custard will settle down when it's ready to cut.

Enjoy with a side salad or all by itself!






Sunday, May 25, 2014

Herby Cheesy Pizza

I've been experi-menting a lot with pizza doughs lately. The mush-rooms at the Troy Farmer's Market have really been the inspiration. Sunday nights have become pizza night in our house, and each one has been a little different. This dough is a keeper, although the original recipe didn't have salt or pepper, which made it a bit blander than I would have liked.

Rosemary Parmesan Pizza Dough

1 tsp dry yeast
1 cup warm water
1/2 tsp honey
2 tablespoons virgin olive oil
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon chopped rosemary
1/4 cup grated parmesan
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
optional: diced garlic, crushed red pepper

Stir together warm water and honey, add 1 tsp of yeast and let sit until frothy. In a mixer with a dough hook (or you can do this with your hands) mix together flour, olive oil, water/yeast mixture. add tosemary, cheese and seasonings. When all of the ingredients have come together to form a ball, knead for about 5 minutes. Place the dough ball in a greased bowl and cover with a clean dish towel until doubled. Form your crust, and freeze the leftover dough for the next time.

Top your pizza with whatever you like. We topped ours with some red sauce, mozzarella cheese, sliced mushrooms, garlic, leftover sausage, black olives, and some spinach from our garden. Enjoy!

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Boozy Banana Muffins

I'm on a muffin tear. Maybe it's because I recently acquired a beautiful muffin tin from a foray to the Bennington Pottery Outlet, just 20 minutes from our house. Two recent happenings led to these muffins: leftover chopped ginger-pecan from our Easter ham, and a surplus of bananas from our 4th anniversary gifts. (Traditional gifts for a 4th wedding anniversary are fruits and vegetables, and my husband and I each bought each other a bunch of bananas! What a bunch of monkeys.) I hope you enjoy them.

 Ginger Pecan Whiskey Banana Muffins

2 mashed rip bananas
2 tbsp vegetable oil or light olive oil
1 egg
1/2 cup whiskey
3/4 tsp vanilla extract
2/3 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup oats
1/4 cup sugar
1 3/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp cardamom
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup melted butter
1/4 cup crystallized ginger
1/4 cup toasted pecans
cooking spray

Mix together in a small bowl the bananas, oil, egg, whiskey, and vanilla. You can use this right away, but I recommend setting it aside for up to 10 hours before mixing it in with the dry ingredients to allow the banana to steep in the whiskey.

While that's happening, chop together in a mini-chopper crystallized (or candied) ginger with toasted pecans and set aside for the topping.

Sift together the dry ingredients. When you're ready to make your muffins, pour the melted butter into the dry ingredients and mix to wet. Then add the marinated banana mixture to the dry ingredients and stir until well mixed. Spray nine muffin cups and fill each 3/4 of the way to the top; top with your ginger-pecan mixture and bake at 375 for 20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Bangers and Mash Muffins

It's a busy St. Patrick's Day week and while we've been guests to four different corned-beef-and-cabbage dinners, we weren't able to do our own this year. I can't let a holiday pass without some culinary contributions of my own, so this year, I made a crazy soda bread with sunflower seeds, as well as a new creation all my own: Bangers and Mash Muffins.

The soda bread is easy enough if you have all of the ingredients. As a guest at a gathering last night  who doesn't see much bread beyond store-bought white described it: hearty. This year, I added currants to my old Shamrock Soda Bread recipe and it is delicious.

I picked up a large "banger" sausage from the meat counter at the Albany Food Co-op last week, but we never had the time to do anything with it. Facing a pre-7 am start to St. Pat's Day, I decided to pre-make some Irish-themed egg muffins the night before. Pop them in your oven 20 minutes before you leave the house, and you have a hot, tasty meal right in your paws.

Bangers and Mash Muffins

6-cup muffin pan
6 eggs
1 pork sausage ("banger")
1 medium onion, diced
2 small red potatoes, boiled and diced
1/4 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
salt and pepper to taste
olive oil

Boil the red potatoes until tender and cut into small pieces. Saute the diced onion and boiled cut potatoes in a little bit of olive oil. Fry the banger and cut in small pieces. Add to the chopped onion and potato and mix well. Whisk six eggs in a bowl and season with salt and pepper. Spray or coat the muffin cups with olive oil. Evenly divide the eggs into the muffin cups. Sprinkle a pinch of cheddar cheese in each muffin cup, into the eggs, leaving some cheddar for the tops of the muffins. Evenly distribute a spoonful of the sausage-onion-potato mixture into each of the cups, into the eggs on top of the cheese. Top each muffin with a pinch of cheese. You can cover this and pop into the fridge the night before so that you can remove it and heat it in the oven the next morning, or you can make it right away. 350 Farenheit for about 15-20 minutes.

Enjoy!

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

A Different Dip

When we lived in Park Slope, invitations to pot luck parties were always accom-panied by: "please bring something other than hummous!" People often commented on gatherings at the Prospect Park bandshell by saying: "I wonder how many pounds of hummous are in this park tonite?" Have you experienced this? Just too much hummous in your life? If you have, I have a remedy for you.

Muhammara.

It's a roasted red pepper, toasted walnut, pomegranate, and garlic dip. And you will love it.

I first tried it at one of my favorite Brooklyn restaurants, Tanoreen. (Rawia Bishara, the owner and chef at Tanoreen, actually has a new cookbook coming out on Feb. 8th. Can't wait to see if she has a recipe for this dish). There are a bunch of different recipes, but you can't trust any that don't have enough garlic or pomegranate molasses--an ingredient that may be hard to find, but is absolutely essential and makes the dish. I've often wondered if you can make a substitute by creating a simple syrup with pomegranate juice, but I haven't tried it yet. This is one I adapted from an Epicurious recipe.

Muhammara


7-ounce jar roasted red peppers, drained
2/3 cup bread crumbs
1/3 cup walnuts, toasted lightly and chopped fine
4 garlic cloves, minced and mashed to a paste with 1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon fresh lemon or lime juice, or to taste
2 teaspoons pomegranate molasses (or more)
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon dried hot red pepper flakes
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Serve with warm toasted pita triangles and vegetables.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Tasty Croutons

It's my mother-in-law's 80th birthday and there's a surprise party for her back in the city. Everybody's bringing something tasty, and we've been asked to bring a caesar salad. If you can't swing everything from scratch, at least don't scrimp on the croutons. These are fantastic. I adapted the recipe from one I found on Epicurious

Garlic-Parmesan Herbed Croutons

2 large garlic cloves, chopped small
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried thyme
½ tsp salt
½ tsp pepper
½ cup olive oil
4 tbsp butter
1 loaf of nice bread, cut into crouton-sized cubes
4 tbsp finely grated parmesan


Preheat your oven to 350. In a small saucepan combine the garlic, the oregano, the basil, the thyme, 1/2 teaspoon of the salt, the pepper, butter and the oil and simmer the mixture for 5 minutes. In a large bowl toss the bread cubes with the oil mixture, spread them in a jelly-roll pan, and bake them in the middle of the oven for 8 minutes. Sprinkle the croutons with the Parmesan and bake them for 7 minutes more, or until they are golden. Let them cool before storing in an airtight container until you're ready to serve them. They're great on soup or salad.


Sunday, January 12, 2014

Peeking Pear Breakfast Bread

D and I recently moved from Brooklyn, New York to a small city called Troy 15 miles north of Albany. We were supremely lucky to find an amazing Victorian house that's over 100 years old--perfect for hosting and entertaining guests. We had a wonderful housewarming party with our new neighbors and friends shortly after we moved in, but the first big event was a sleepover with 12 friends from the city, our annual post-holiday reGifting party.  

In addition to scaling up the amenities, I wanted to surprise my guests with a fun breakfast treat, and saw a recipe for a poached, whole-pear bread in Cooking Light magazine. I made the batter before my guests arrived the night before, and then, as everyone was heading off to bed, I poached the pears and baked the bread. Some curious friends stayed behind to see how it turned out.

Peeking Pear Maple Stout Breakfast Bread

1 3/4 cup unbleached white flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
6 tbsp softened butter 
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla 
1/2 cup stout beer
1/2 cup vanilla or plain yogurt
5 tbsp maple syrup
3 pears
1/2 cup sugar 
3 cups water

Heat three cups of water with 1/2 cup sugar, stirring to dissolve. Add in the pears, whole with the stems, to poach for about 8 minutes or until tender. Remove from the water. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Beat sugar and eggs in a mixer; add eggs one at a time. Add the rest of the wet ingredients. In a separate bowl, sift the dry ingredients and then add to the wet a little at a time. 

Lightly dust the pears with flour and cut the bottoms off of the pears so that they sit evenly in a greased loaf pan. Pour the batter around the pears so that the batter is evenly distributed. Rinse the remaining flour from the stems. Pop in the oven for about 45 minutes, but monitor to see when the bread has risen, the sides come away from the pan, and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. 

Remove from the baking pan to a cutting board and slice decoratively to show the pear slices. Serve with good coffee. Bask in the compliments. 

  I just had to share this last picture. As the light was coming into the kitchen window, it shone through a pear slice like a stained glass window. Beautiful.


Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Happy New Year Oats!

Bringing in the New Year with a steaming hot bowl of oatmeal for breakfast at 1 pm was good and nice.

2013 was a big year for me: From January 2013, I was involved in a 6-month intensive campaign to pass important women's rights legislation that fell victim to ugly state capital politics; D and I moved from our small but wonderful Brooklyn apartment to a big beautiful house in Troy, New York; and just as we were getting settled, my father became very ill and passed away a few days after Christmas.

So for 2014, I am wishing for some simple things: Peace for my mother, time for calm and quiet and watching birds, the joy of friendship, and contemplative expression.

D and I drove five hours back home to Troy on New Years Eve to take care of some business before heading back to PA for my father's funeral, so we were on the road at midnight, and then got some much-needed sleep.

There wasn't much in the way of fresh food in the house, but all you need are some staples to have a healthy and tasty breakfast. The basic recipe is below; this morning, we used turbinado sugar, chopped pecans, and dried blueberries.

Stovetop Oatmeal

1 cup rolled oats
3 cups water
2 tsp salt
2 tbsp sweet (any kind of granulated sugar; honey, or syrup)
1/2 cup chopped nuts
1/2 cup dried or fresh fruit
1 tsp cinnamon

Bring water and salt to a boil on your stovetop. Add the oats and stir. Then add in the nuts and the cinnamon. Stir over the heat until the oatmeal is a desired consistency. Add water as needed. Enjoy!


Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Stranded Christmas Nog

For almost everyone--no matter your creed, custom, or nation--the lead-up to Christmas can be thrilling, exciting, nerve wracking, stressful; and then you have those few precious moments somewhere between dusk on Christmas Eve and noon on Christmas day where you have some heartwarming peace, some happiness, something that makes your heart light. But then come the Christmas doldrums. Whatever needed to be assembled has been assembled and discarded; whatever needed to be eaten got eaten; whoever needed to be called got called...and then boredom sets in. Especially when the weather is gray and there's no snow and you are in a house full of cooped-up crabbies . . .  you start to think about the papers you haven't graded or the memo you haven't written or the bills you have to pay . . . it's the icky time. Why not keep yourself busy and make eggnog instead? That's what I did.

Boozy Holiday Doldrums Eggnog

6 eggs, separated
1/2 cup sugar, and a separate 1/4 cup of sugar
2 cups half and half
2 cups whole milk
1 cup dark rum
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp nutmeg

Beat egg yolks in a mixer and slowly add 1/2 cup of sugar until the mixture turns a light yellow. Add in 2 cups of half and half and 1 cup of rum. Set aside. Beat egg whites, and then add 1/4 cup of sugar, 1 tsp vanilla and 1/2 tsp nutmeg until the egg whites begin to form stiff peaks. Fold the egg whites gently into the egg yolk mixture, alternating with the remaining 2 cups of milk. Decant into a glass jar and refrigerate for 2-3 hours. Garnish with more nutmeg (and depending on how crabby your family is, a bit more booze). Enjoy!



Sunday, December 22, 2013

The Joy of Carrot Bread

If you ever find yourself with extra carrots and an hour and a half to kill, this is what you should do.

I searched all over for a good carrot bread recipe to adapt so that I could add my new favorite supplement, chia seeds. The internet yielded nothing but extra-sweet carrot cake, so I turned to the trusty old Joy of Cooking and found a basic quickbread recipe on page 625. JoC never fails me. This bread turned out moist and nutty. I grated the carrots coarsely.



Carrot Chia Pecan Bread

1 cup flour
1/2 cup wheat flour
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
3/4 cup sugar
2 beaten eggs
3 tblsp chia seeds
1/2 cup olive oil
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups grated carrots
1 cup chopped pecans

In a large bowl, sift the flours, baking soda, and spices. In a smaller bowl, whisk the beaten eggs with the sugar. Add the chia, olive oil, vanilla, and salt. Then add the wet ingredients to the dry. Fold in the carrots and nuts. Spoon into a greased bread pan and bake at 350 for 1 hour.




Sunday, October 20, 2013

Seedy Surprise Pancakes

When serendipitous pancake inspiration hits,  you gotta go with it. Last week, I unearthed a bag of chia seeds from a cabinet that I'd never opened, and shortly thereafter, saw a recipe in the New York Times for Beet & Chia Pancakes. I had to do it. 

We ran into some friends of friends at the farmer's market out in the country on Saturday and invited them to brunch the next morning. Perfect time to debut a new recipe. So I picked up some beets and had a plan: adapt the recipe to use my sourdough. 


Beet 'n Chia Sourdough Pancakes 

1 large or 2 medium beets (enough for 1/2 cup puréed roasted beets)
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup white flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 tbsp honey (or sugar)
1 1/2 cups sourdough starter (or 1 cup yogurt & 1/2 cup milk)
3 tbsp chia seeds
3 tbsp olive oil 

Roast the beets (washed but skin on) in aluminum foil for an hour in a 350 degree oven. When done, puree in a food processor. Mix together all of the other ingredients and when the beet puree is cool, mix it in. Make and garnish as you would normal pancakes with butter and maple syrup.

These pancakes are utterly delicious. They make a nice surprise for guests. Don't take my word for it, though. Make them yourself! 

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Red Kuri Hummus

New World Bar & Bistro in Albany featured pumpkin hummus on its fall menu last week. I appreciated it, but thought it could have been better. So I made some today from red kuri pumpkin. I think it turned out pretty good.

Pumpkin Chipotle Hummus

2 cups pumpkin, roasted
1/2 cup tahini
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
3 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp olive oil
2 garlic cloves
small bunch parsley, chopped
1 tsp chipotle pepper

Blend all ingredients in a small food processor to desired consistency. Place a dollop on a plate, drizzle with additional olive oil and sprinkle with chipotle pepper. Serve with carrots and celery.


Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Don't Look a Gift Cookie in the Mouth

It's people's birthdays and I am short on cash and time to go out and shop. What do I do? I bake some cookies. Smitten Kitchen has an amazing recipe for oat, chocolate chip, and pecan cookies that includes orange zest, but I needed to pare down the extravagance so I adapted it a little bit. They are addictive: crispy all around, chewy in the center, and salty-sweet. Definitely a keeper.

Sweet & Salty Chocolate Chip Oat Walnut Cookies

8 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup sugar (half white sugar, half turbinado)
1 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
1 1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 cup oats
1 cup chopped walnuts
3 tsp grated coconut (optional)
12 ounces semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Whip the butter in a large mixing bowl and then add the sugars, salt, and vanilla, and beat until well mixed, about three minutes. Stir in eggs, one at a time. Sift together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon and nutmeg in a separate bowl. Carefully mix the flour into the butter mixture a bit at a time, and then stir in the oats, walnuts, chocolate chips, and coconut if you like. Using a small cookie scoop, plop the dough onto a greased cookie sheet 2" apart and bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until golden. Remove from the oven and cool the cookies on a rack. Store at room temperature in a cookie jar or other airtight container.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Bringing the Streets of Jerusalem Home

"Sabih" is the name of this dish from the Tamami & Ottolenghi cookbook Jerusalem. It's roots are Iraqi, but it has elements from many Middle Eastern traditions. One thing is for sure--it's delicious.

I adapted the Jerusalem recipe somewhat, and I think it turned out really well.

Sabih

2 medium-sized eggplants
4 plum tomatoes
2 medium orange tomatoes
2 kirby cucumbers (or one large cuke)
handful of parsley
3 green onions/scallions
3 hardboiled eggs
2 tbsp s'chug or zhoug
1 cup tahini
1 cup yogurt
1 tbsp lemon juice
salt, pepper, olive oil
harissa (if the zhoug isn't hot enough for ya)
pomegranate seeds (optional)
quality pitas (3-4)

Slice the eggplant in half and place the halves, innards up, in a baking dish. Spray with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. I added a little bit of ras-al-hanout, but you could also season with paprika or sumac. Roast in an oven at 375 degrees F until the eggplant is tender, but not mushy. Allow to cool. The Jerusalem cookbook wants you to fry the eggplant; I guess that's traditional, but I needed to bake mine.

Hardboil your eggs (best method here) and begin to make the salad by cubing tomatoes & cucumbers and mixing them with good olive oil, chopped scallions, chopped parsley, and salt & pepper. Allow to rest and marinate for 1/2 an hour to an hour.

Make the tahini sauce by combining tahini, yogurt, and lemon juice and a little bit of salt. This mixture should be thin enough to pour, but not watery.

When the eggplant has cooled, peel the skin and roughly chop the eggplant into cubes. Mix the cubes with the s'chug to taste. The Jerusalem cookbook calls it zhoug, which is typical in a bunch of different cuisines. If you pinpoint it, it might be Yemeni. And you can make it from scratch. Mine is from Sabra, yes, of Sabra hummus. I've had this s'chug in the fridge for about a year--I have no idea why I bought it, but it is GOOD. It's existence in the bottom of the fridge is one of the reasons I chose this recipe. Remember, the s'chug is really hot. And if you want the taste of harissa, too, either eliminate or drastically reduce the s'chug.

Toast the pitas in a warm oven until puffy. You can help this along by spraying a bit of olive oil on the pitas. (Unfortunately, we passed up some fresh-made pitas at the bakery today because we had some in a bag in the fridge. This recipe deserves the best pita possible. Just sayin').

On the toasted pitas, begin assembling by pouring a few dollops of tahini sauce on the warm pitas. Place a few spoonfuls of eggplant on each pita, then layer on the slices of hardboiled egg. Top with a bit more tahini sauce, top with the salad, then place some more tahini sauce on top of that. Garnish with some pomegranate seeds.

I don't know how you eat this thing. I guess on the street in Jerusalem you'd get it in a more user-friendly pita wrapped in wax paper and it would be all rolled up. On our plates, we cut the pitas in quarters and ate it greedily with our hands.

You can get most of these ingredients at Sahadi's if you live in Brooklyn (but they also ship now, too), or maybe at Kalustyan's in Manhattan. But mostly everything you can make from scratch--except the tahini.


Sunday, September 8, 2013

Attica!!!

We just finished watching Orange is the New Black the other day. Once you get past being angry at Piper's privilege and what you think is going to be some ridiculous racial stereotypes about women in prison, the show is really very good. And it highlights some of the most messed up things about prison life in a way that no other popular show has for a mass audience.

I was psyched to see them deal with solitary confinement (or extreme isolation) in one episode. One of the punishments used in solitary is to feed prisoners "the loaf" (or "nutraloaf" as it's sometimes called) -- a horrible slice of tasteless flour and scraps that barely provides any nutrition whatsoever. (This is Piper confronting "the loaf" for the first time).

My blogs are usually about tasty foods, but I thought this might be a good occasion to depart from the norm and talk about this distinctively unsavory dish.

Tomorrow (September 9th) is the 42nd anniversary of the Attica prison riots, and I thought it might be a good occasion to re-post a blog entry from a colleague in the New York State Legislature: Dianna Goodwin, who engages in some participatory advocacy by providing us with a recipe for the loaf, and making some herself. Thanks, Dianna. She also provides a helpful summary of what the Attica rebellion was all about. Read it (and weep) here.

It's time to end extreme isolation -- in New York State and everywhere else. My colleagues at the American Civil Liberties Union and the New York Civil Liberties Union worked to limit the use of solitary confinement for immigrants, and were successful in their endeavors this week. (Read about that here). But there's more work to do. You can read NYCLU's report about the use of extreme isolation in New York State here.  Food punishment like serving prisoners "the loaf" is a barbaric and harmful practice--and this is just one type of punishment prisoners endure. It must end. Join the campaign to end the practice of extreme isolation today.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Kuri Curry

This beautiful red kuri squash (or Japanese hokkaido) that I found at the Albany food co-op was too tempting to pass up, even though in the heat of summer, roasting squash is not at the top of my list of things to do. I roasted the squash by cutting it in half, scooping out the seeds, and coating with olive oil, salt, and pepper, and placing it face-down on a baking sheet at 350 degrees. When soft, I took the halves out of the oven, let them cool, and then froze them to make soup another day.

Roasted Red Kuri Coconut Curry Soup

1 teardrop-shaped red kuri squash
4 tbsp olive oil
salt & pepper
4 cloves of garlic
1 medium red onion
1 tbsp fresh grated ginger, diced
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 -2 tbsp thai red curry paste
One 13.5 oz can of coconut milk
4 cups of broth (veggie, chicken, or thai curry)
1 1/2 tsp salt

Once your red kuri is roasted, cut into more manageable pieces for sauteing. You can use the skin, it's so tender. Heat 2 tbsp of olive oil in a wok and when hot, add the diced garlic, onion, and ginger. Saute until golden and then add the red kuri squash. Saute the mixture until it begins to brown, and then add the tomato paste, curry paste, coconut milk, broth and salt. Mix to combine while simmering over medium heat. Cook for about 20 minutes and then let cool a bit before pureeing in a blender. There's all kinds of ways to garnish this, but I'll try some yogurt, curry powder, and maybe some pepitas. You can also garnish with fresh herbs--maybe basil or mint.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Scotch Bonnet Hot Pickle Relish


My end-of-summer scotch bonnet yield was a neat dozen. I made the third version of hot pepper relish of the season: a sweet hot pickle relish. I hope this one makes us holler.

Scotch Bonnet Pickle Relish

1 large white onion
1 large green bell pepper
4 kirbys
12 scotch bonnet peppers
1 cup cider vinegar
1 cup white vinegar
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 tsp salt

To prepare, put a pot of water up to boil and fill with your jars & lids. For this amount of veggies, I used four small jars. In another pot on the stove, place your vinegars, sugar, and salt. Turn the heat on the vinegar mixture once your veggies are almost finished with the chopping. Next, in a food processor, pulse the white onion a few times and then add the scotch bonnets.

After those are chopped finely, add the green bell pepper and three of the kirbys. It may take a bit of arranging to get stuff chopped uniformly. Because I like a chunkier relish, I diced the last kirby by hand. Once the vinegar mixture has heated, add the chopped veggies to the liquid and bring to a boil. Boil for about two minutes. Strain the relish, reserving the liquid.

Take the boiled jars out of the pot and place on a clean surface. Spoon very wet relish into each jar. If you like your relish a little more liquidy, you can add some of the strained pickle juice. Seal the jars quickly and set to rest until you hear a "pop." That means the jars are sealed and you can put them up. You can eat the relish right away, but it's best in about a week.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Chermoula Eggplant

The Ottolenghi-Tamimi book Jerusalem is all the rage with my group of friends these days. I read the introduction when friends brought the book out to the country, and knew I had to have it when I found this recipe: Chermoula Eggplant with Bulghur & Yogurt. I adapted the recipe from the book just a bit. Here it is, with all credit to Otto & Tami:



Chermoula Eggplant with Herbed Bulghur & Yogurt

2 medium eggplants
1 cup coarse bulghur
2 crushed and chopped garlic cloves
2 tsp cumin
2 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp chile flakes
2 tsp sweet or smoked paprika
2 tbsp chopped preserved lemons
2/3 cup olive oil
2/3 cup boiling water
1/2 cup golden raisins
4 tbsp warm water
1 oz chopped cilantro
1/2 oz chopped mint
1/2 cup pitted and chopped green olives
1/3 cup toasted slivered almonds
3 green onions, chopped
1 1/2 tbsp fresh squeezed lemon juice
1/2 cup green yogurt
salt & pepper to taste
1 tbsp harissa

Wash and halve the eggplants, and then score diagonally one direction and then the next without reaching the outside skin and breaking it so that you've got nice diced shaped crosses that will soak up the chermoula. Mix together the chopped garlic, lemons, cumin, coriander, chile, paprika, and olive oil into a paste and spread over the eggplant halves, making sure that the paste gets between the cuts. Place the eggplant halves on a greased baking sheet and bake for about 40 minutes at 350 degrees F. 

About 10 minutes before the eggplant is finished roasting, place the cup of bulghur in a bowl and generously sprinkle with salt and pepper. If you like your bulghur a little more spicy, season with some more paprika, chile, or whatever. Pour a speck of olive oil into the bulghur and stir so that the bulghur is coated with a little bit of oil so that the bulghur won't stick when you pour the boiling water over, which you should do next. Just cover the bulghur with boiling water, cover with a plate, and let sit until the water is absorbed. When ready, add the raisins, chopped cilantro (except the bit you'll use to garnish the top of the dish), mint, olives, almonds, green onions and lemon juice. 

When the eggplant is finished roasting, arrange halves on plates, generously pile on the herbed bulghur, artfully slap on some yogurt, drizzle the harissa (which is hot, so be carefully and arrange on top to taste), and then toss some cilantro on top and serve. Delicious.




Sunday, August 11, 2013

It's a cupcake, bitch


Two days before the season finale, I started to panic. I needed to find some way to mark the end of the series and I was terrified that the baking supply store would be all out of blue sugar crystals. Surely, everyone would be making Breaking Bad cupcakes, right?  "No worries," the store clerk said. "We won't be selling out of the crystals. We have plenty." I asked her to put one aside for me anyway, just in case. 


Breaking Bad Walter White Cupcakes

Cupcakes

1 2/3 cup white flour
½ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
1 cup granulated sugar
½ cup melted butter
2 egg whites
¼ cup greek yogurt
¾ cup milk (or almond milk)
2 tsp vanilla extract
seeds scraped from ½ split vanilla bean

1 jar of blue sugar crystals, coarse

Frosting
1/2 cup butter, softened
4 cups Caster Superfine Sugar
1 teaspoons Pure Maple Extract
1/4 cup milk
seeds scraped from ½ split vanilla bean
salt

In a mixing bowl, cream the butter and beat in the caster sugar and pure maple extract. Add milk until the frosting reaches the desired consistency. 

Preheat the oven to 350F degrees. If your mother bought you a stuffed-cupcake pan like mine did, you're in luck. Take it out of storage and clean it up. Grease the cups. 

Mix together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside. Mix sugar with melted butter in a separate bowl. Stir in egg whites, yogurt, milk, and vanilla extract until combined. Scrape vanilla beans into batter. Mix dry ingredients into wet until there are no lumps. The batter will be thick. Divide the batter among the cupcake liners and bake for 20 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean. Fill with blue crystals, and frost when cool, garnishing with more sprinkles. 

Serve with Breaking Bad Blue Margaritas!




Hot (Pepper) Mess

Porch peppers beckon, even when you're not feeling well. When they're ripe, they're ripe and you gotta use them or they'll rot. So this weekend was time to make hot pepper relish. Only the red hot peppers were ready; in a week or so, the scotch bonnets will be ready. Those are a whole nother level of hot. I didn't use gloves this time and my hands are burning right now. I can't neglect to use them for the scotch bonnets.

I scavenged all of the old jars that people returned to me after our wedding (jars of hot pepper relish were the wedding favors), washed them in steaming hot water and got started. I rarely write down my relish recipes, but this time I did.















Hot Pepper Relish

One dozen hot red peppers
2 green bell peppers
1 red bell pepper
1 yellow bell pepper
1 large white onion
6 tomatillos
1 tbsp kosher or canning salt
3/4 cup sugar
1 1/4 cup cider vinegar
large saucepan
hot boiling water

Carefully handle the red peppers to cut off the stems and de-seed them.







Chop the vegetables in manageable pieces and in thirds, distribute the veggies & peppers into the food processor. Process until finely chopped. Place in a large saucepot. Sprinkle with 1 tbsp kosher/canning salt and then pour boiling water on top. Let sit for about 5 minutes.

After 5 minutes is up, drain the water from the peppers and place back on the stove. Pour in cider vinegar and sugar, and bring to a boil again. Turn the heat off after the boil begins, then spoon the finished relish into jars and quickly secure the lids.

They should indicate that they're sealed if they pop within an hour or so. If they don't pop, you'll have to refrigerate them. They'll be ready to use in 2-3 weeks.