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.


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


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


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

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

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.

Foreign Eggs

We love eggs. I've written about our love of eggs in this blog before. So when I found scotch eggs in London last year--eggs surrounded by spicy pork, rolled in tasty breadcrumbs and baked--I knew it was only a matter of time before I started making them at home.

Actually, I was really impressed with food and drink in London. I don't know why it's the butt of anyone's joke. I regularly order hard cider (my favorite is pear) whenever it's available now. And the bodegas carry Jack Daniels and Coke in a can. Super.
It took about a year to turn my attention back to Scotch Eggs, but here's my first iteration. I made them for a picnic at a Prospect Park concert where hummous is the staple and graces almost every blanket. And I made it vegetarian with Gimme Lean sausage. My favorite part was getting my friends to try and guess what the ball of goodness sitting on the plate was before I cut it in half, revealing the egg. This recipe will make a tasty scotch egg, but I can only imagine what well-seasoned pork would do. I used large eggs, but I could see using medium, small, or even quail eggs to make these--depending on the occasion and whether they will be a meal or an appetizer.

Spicy Baked Scotch Eggs

4 medium hardboiled eggs, peeled
1 14 oz tube of gimme lean sausage
2 cups flour
2 cups bread crumbs
2 tsp harissa
2 tsp cumin
2 tsp coriander
2 tsp chili powder
2 tsp paprika
2 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp salt
2 tsp ground black pepper
1 raw egg, whisked
spray olive oil
baking dish
4 bowls

You'll need four bowls: (1) sausage mixed with 2 tsp harissa; (2) flour with one tsp each of cumin, coriander, chili powder, paprika, garlic powder, salt & pepper; (3) bread crumbs with one tsp each of cumin, coriander, chili powder, paprika, garlic powder, salt & pepper; (4) whisked egg.

Preheat the oven to 400 F. In clean and oiled hands, take 1/4 of the sausage mixture and flatten it evenly in your hand. Place a single hardboiled egg in the center and gently wrap the sausage evenly around the egg. Once all of the egg is covered with sausage, roll the ball in the seasoned flour. Dunk the flour-coated egg into the raw egg and coat. Then carefully roll the eggy-egg in breadcrumbs to coat evenly. Place the large round ball in an olive oil-coated baking dish. Repeat three more times, washing your hands in between each one. Place each round coated egg on an oiled baking dish and pop in the oven for 1/2 hour. Check for golden-brownness and rotate the dish if you need to for a few more minutes. Let cool and eat one on it's own, or serve with any number of condiments: salt & pepper, hot sauce, mayo, horseradish sauce, sriracha....

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Herby Leftover Eggs

 Some Saturday mornings, the havoc wrought by the week on the fridge is unbearable and I despair.  Tiny bits of leftover thiss and thats from home-cooked weekday meals scattered throughout the fridge, taking up space and messing up the order of things. On other Saturdays, I make lemons out of lemonade and make herby-leftover eggs.

This morning, I pruned the herbs on the porch and chopped them up with the leftovers I scrounged from the fridge: a few pieces of steak, ½ of a baked red potato, kimchee, a few errant olives,  some garlic, and 2 slices of swiss cheese. I’m more a scramble than an omelet person, so I sautéed the chopped up potato, garlic, and steak, then added the eggs. I carefully stirred them around to avoid browning them, and then folded in the herbs, kimchee, and swiss. Delicioso.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Pick a Peck of Pickled Pattypans

Dilemma #314: Too many pattypans. 

When you are in the country for the weekend, and you buy too many pattypan squashes at the local farmer's market, and you've already made zucchini bread and you've already roasted a bunch for pasta primavera and you've already cut up a bunch of them for a big Sunday night salad, and you've already put some on your packed lunch for Monday morning, you can pickle the leftovers. Here's how:

Lemon-Pickled Pattypans

One large mason jar
8-10 tiny pattypans (or however many fit)
1 cup water
1 cup cider vinegar
1 cup white vinegar
1/2 cup sugar
1 heaping tablespoon pickling salt
1/2 lemon
1 tsp coriander seeds
1 tsp white peppercorns
1 tsp black peppercorns
1 tsp mustard seeds
dash of red pepper flakes
bay leaves or tarragon leaves

Pack sliced pattypans in a mason jar that's been washed out with soap and hot water. Alternate the pattypans with some round-sliced lemons. Boil the remaining ingredients and pour over the pattypans. Seal up the mason jar and let sit for 2-3 weeks. Serve on a summer table set for guests.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Impulse Baking

This morning we went to Barryville, PA's farmer's market. We didn't eat breakfast before we left the house, so the first stall I headed for was the stall with jam-tasting and tiny specks of baked goods to try out. Blueberry-jalapeno jam was on offer, as well as an orange marmalade which I tried on some zucchini bread. Pushing the idea of a blueberry-jalapeno jam experiment out of my mind for a moment, I knew I had to make zucchini bread. Today. 
So I tasked D with picking out a basket of zukes while I got some eggs, and no sooner were we in the house than I started making this zucchini bread. And after an hour when it was out of the oven, it was almost gone. If I had a jar big enough, I would pickle the tiny ones, but I guess that will have to wait until another day. Like the blueberry-jalapeno jam. 

I found a recipe that uses sourdough and of course had to try it. It's delicious.

Cardamom-Zucchini Sourdough Bread

1/2 cup good olive oil
3/4 cup white sugar
3/4 cup sourdough starter
1/2 cup whole milk
1 cup zucchini, grated
2 cups wheat flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp cardamom
1/2 cup raisins

Mix oil, sugar, starter and milk. Stir and let sit for a few moments. Stir in your grated zucchini (if you like your bread more veggie, use more than a cup. If you like your bread puffy, use an egg in addition to the other wet ingredients, but then decrease your sourdough or milk by about 1/8-1/4 of a cup). In a separate bowl, combine the dry ingredients (flour, powder, soda, spices) well and then add to the wet mixture to blend just enough. Fold in the raisins. (You can use nuts unless someone you love doesn't like them. Walnuts, pecans, almonds...whatever you like). 

Grease a bread pan and pour the mixture in, leaving just a tiny bit in the bowl for you to scoop up with your finger and eat. Bake at 325° for about an hour (test by sticking a toothpick in the densest part and see if it comes out gooey. If it does, it's not done). 

Let it cool for a few minutes and try to restrain your people from attacking it while it sets. If you want to save some for the morning (zucchini french toast, anyone?), you should have made two loaves. 

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Pickling Berries

A few weeks ago, the wife of one of my softball teammates told me that she saw a recipe for pickled berries that she was interested in trying. She sent me the image of the recipe a few days later, and so when I saw these gorgeous red currants at the farmer's market this morning, I knew I had to try pickling them.
I found a Danish recipe, but it contained a preservative that I neither had nor wanted to use. And then I found an Alice Waters recipe adaptation which sounded more my style. I'm not sure yet what I'll do with them, but I have a few ideas. I could put them on a salad, serve them with some cheese and bread (Danish-style), but I'll most likely serve them alongside a venison and spaetzle.

Here's how I did it.

Pickled Red Currants
1 pint fresh red currants
1 cup champagne vinegar
1/8 cup sugar
10 each of juniper & allspice berries
1 stick of cinnamon
1 tsp pickling spices

Wash the jars out thoroughly with hot water, including the lids and place them near the stove. Wash your currants and place them carefully in the jars. Most of them will come off the stems, but leave some on the stems as they'll make a nice garnish in bunches. Chop your juniper and allspice berries on a cutting board. Add a bit of pickling spice to each jar. Bring the champagne vinegar, sugar, crushed berries, and cinnamon to a boil. (I added a dash of salt, too). Quickly pour the boiling liquid into the jars so that the berries are covered. Leave them to pickle for a few weeks before trying them in a dish.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Of Kitchens & Meth Labs

Have you ever made freshly prepared horseradish? All you need is some horseradish root, vinegar, water, a little salt.....and a gas mask. Seriously, fresh horseradish preparation is NO JOKE. I bought two gnarly looking roots at a farmer's market in the Hamptons back in May, and they stayed dormant in a brown bag in the fridge's veggie drawer for almost a month before I had the time to prepare it. I roughly followed this recipe, but it was literally: peel the horseradish, chop it into manageable pieces, run it around in a food processor until it is broken up into small chips, and then stuff it into a glass jar. I think I stuffed it too tight because I don't think that the white vinegar I covered it with really suffused the root overnight, but people seemed to love it, so it was probably okay to pack it tight. Then you pour white vinegar over it (enough to cover it, and a little more), cover the jar, and leave it for 24 hours. Then drain the excess vinegar into a bowl, add a little bit of salt, and reserve it. Return the suffused horseradish to the food processor and process away until the pieces are pretty fine.

If you're familiar with horseradish, then you'll know what consistency you want. If you're not, they should be little tiny pieces that resemble bulghur wheat or coarse breadcrumbs. Return the horseradish pieces to the jar, and then stir in the reserved vinegar until you get a wet consistency. Cover the jar and refrigerate.

Back to the gas mask part: Seriously. This stuff is potent. If your eyes water when you peel an onion, be prepared to weep. But it's more than that. It's actually hard to breathe in a closed space with so much horseradish. Even two or three rooms away, people will be affected. It was summertime when I made this, hot in our small Brooklyn apartment, and I feel like I seriously endangered our health by not taking precautions. Hence the title of the post: you should really think of your kitchen as a kind of meth lab during this endeavor. Gloves and a little paper gas/infectious disease mask are really a must for this process. I think you can get one of those paper masks at a well-stocked pharmacy. I plan to make a lot more of this next year, and I will definitely plan in advance.

It's really ready to use pretty soon after you return it to the jar. And look at all the things you can do with it! About a month after I prepared it, I used it to make horseradish pickles, bloody marys, and cocktail sauce with peeled shrimp. Next up: horseradish sauce for turkey sandwiches!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Global Babyfoods!

I totally think I hit on a niche market: baby food from around the world! I joined friends for an amazing dinner at Brooklyn Commune for a family-style vegetarian meal one night a few weeks ago. One of the dishes they served was a quinoa salad with grilled portobello mushrooms slathered in a creamy carrot sauce. Of course I asked the chef for the ingredients, and they were graciously provided by our server: carrots, tomato, cardamom, ginger, and coconut milk. I haven't mastered the proportions yet, so I won't post a recipe, but I served it this past weekend at a Fourth of July BBQ and guess who loved it more than me? THIS BABY RIGHT HERE! Actually one of the cutest and fun babies ever. She just couldn't get enough of it. I spiced up the recipe with a generous amount of pepper, garlic, and onion, but that was no problem for Allissa. Thanks, Erica and Allan for such a great addition to the world. And the inspiration for my new company: Global Babyfoods!

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Where's the bun?

sourdough brioche hamburger buns
When you have buffalo patties, homemade bread & butter pickles, and homemade pickled onions, why would you settle for buns-in-a-bag? Especially when there's active sourdough starter sitting right there in your fridge? So don't settle! Start baking so you can have them fresh for dinner tonite.

Sourdough Brioche Seeded Buns

2/3 cup of warm milk
¾ cup sourdough starter, primed
½ cup sugar (maybe a little less)
2 large eggs (plus 1 more for egg wash)
3 cups of flour (1 more cup for shaping)
2 tsp salt (more course grain to sprinkle on top)
¼ cup melter butter (maybe a little more)
2 tsp yeast
black & white sesame seeds to top

If you have the time, the evening before (8 - 12 hours), take one cup of sourdough starter from your fridge and combine with one half cup warm water, one half cup white flour. Mix well and let sit overnight.

Place all of the ingredients in the mixing bowl and mix until well combined (some use a 
paddle or spiral mixer: you can do this with a wooden spoon). The dough should be supple and soft, with a high gluten development.

Transfer the dough to a slightly oiled container (I use olive oil spray), cover and leave for 1 hour. 

When the dough has risen, divide it gently into 6 pieces and loosely shape into bun-shapes. Preheat your oven to 460 Farenheit.  Brush your buns with an egg wash, sprinkle them with sesame seeds (and maybe a little course salt if you want), and let the buns rest for 15 minutes.

(The blog where I got this recipe has some interesting ideas about how to turn your oven into a steam room for the buns, but I don’t usually have time for all that.)

When the oven is hot and the buns are rested, pop them in the oven for 20 minutes, watching to make sure they get to the just the right shade of golden brown on top. Let the loaves cool completely on a wire rack. Enjoy with your favorite burger and toppings!