Sunday, December 31, 2006

Happy New Year!

Here's a sample of a few favorite foods I'm indulging in this New Year's Eve: Humboldt Fog Cheese, Cerignola olives, and slices of pear.

2006 has been a year of discovery and insight for me, like few that have come before. I'm certain this year will not fade in my memory, indistinguishable from the year-before or the year-to-come. This year has been one of many beautiful moments for me. Beautiful small moments. Moments where I've seen things I'd always been too busy to notice before. A year in which I've felt closer to my childhood self than ever before.

It's also been a year of cruel and painful realizations. A year that promised and delivered renewal, but was, perhaps, a little too dreamy, even for me, a daydream believer (the first record I ever owned) to believe in. A year that once seemed ideal (on a purely personal level), has ended in a strange No Man's Land of confusion and uncertainty. But, such is life.

The best thing about 2006 has been discovering and becoming a part of the food blogging community. The exchanges and connections with food bloggers local and around the globe has been an awesome experience. Writing this blog for the last almost-year has also been a wonderfully enriching and self-defining experience.

Thank you and a very Happy New Year to all of you who have shared this experience with me, and supported me with your comments and enthusiasm. You are the Golden Ones!


Friday, December 29, 2006

Green & Orange Vegetable Soup

Sweetpea requested vegetable soup for lunch so we enjoyed this simple, chunky Green & Orange Vegetable soup, filled with healthful, brightly hued vegetables, to pack in the vitamins and antioxidants and skyrocket us back to the land of good health.

I used my typical Italian soup base of onions, garlic, sweet basil, pesto and marinara sauce to make the sweet broth, along with a handful of red lentils to add a little body and protein. This soup included potato, carrots, white cannellini beans, orange cauliflower, dino kale, and broccoli. It was so good we both had seconds!

Green & Orange Vegetable Soup
1-2 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp sweet basil
1 large potato, peeled and roughly chopped
1-2 large carrots, cut on the diagonal
2 cups vegetable broth
2 cups water
1/3 cup red lentils
1/3 cup marinara sauce
1 tbsp pesto
3-4 oz white cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 head orange cauliflower, cut into small florettes
1/2 bunch dinosaur kale, ribbed and torn
1 cup broccoli, cut into small florettes
S & P

Heat the oil in a heavy bottomed saucepan and fry the onions over med.-low heat for 5 minutes. Add the garlic, sweet basil and potato. Cover and cook for an additional 5 minutes. Add the carrots and cover and cook an additional 2-3 minutes. Uncover, add the vegetable broth, water and red lentils and bring to a boil. Turn to a simmer and add the marinara and pesto and season. Cover and cook for 10 minutes. Add the beans and cauliflower and simmer for 3 minutes. Add the kale and simmer for 3 minutes. Add the broccoli and simmer for 4-5 minutes, until broccoli is just tender. Adjust seasoning and serve.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Leek & Vegetable Gratin

My hemming and hawing on how to use the fabulous giant leeks I'd recently purchased (quite inexpensively) paid off in spades when I rejected all the recipes I'd reviewed and created this delicious Leek & Vegetable Gratin. This bold tasting gratin of leeks, potato, rutabaga, carrots, white beans and dino kale in a cheddar-apple cider gratin sauce made a hearty and comforting winter dinner. Honestly, I could've eaten the whole thing myself! The sauce was exceptional and made a lovely change. Cayenne pepper was the perfect finish.

Leek & Vegetable Gratin:

2 tbsp butter
2 very large leeks
1 large rutabaga (Swede), peeled and chopped into large chunks
1 large potato, peeled and chopped into large chunks
2 carrots, sliced on the diagonal
1/2 bunch dinosaur kale, ribbed and torn
6 oz white Cannellini beans, drained and rinsed

1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp flour
1/3 cup milk
1/3 cup apple cider (I used hard cider)
1 cup grated cheddar cheese

S & P
Cayenne pepper

Preheat the oven to 375.

Cut the leeks in quarters from the base, leaving the top part attached. Soak in a bowl of cold water for 10 minutes to eliminate any grit/mud that may be caught inside. Slice the leeks, both the white and a good part of the green.

Heat salted water in a medium saucepan and parboil the rutabaga until tender (about 10 minutes). Add the potato as the water starts to boil and the carrot for the last 2 minutes. Drain.

Melt the butter in a saucepan and saute the leeks until almost tender (5-8 minutes). Add the kale and cook 2 more minutes. Turn off the heat and add the vegetables and beans, stirring until well mixed. Season.

Make the sauce. In a small saucepan, melt the butter and stir in the flour, cook for 2 minutes stirring continuously. Add the milk and heat, stirring until thickened (4-5 minutes). Add the cheese and the cider and turn off the heat. Stir until well combined and smooth, using additional cider to get a fairly runny sauce.

Place the vegetable mix in a gratin dish. Stir in the sauce and bake for 15 minutes. Finish under the broiler for 3 minutes, so the top of the sauce is beginning to blacken. Serve, powdered with Cayenne pepper.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Veggies Freaked with Goat-Cheese Sauce

Veggies and Tofu Freaked with snowy Goat Cheese Sauce.

So Christmas was a little different this year. I woke up Christmas morning to discover a weird red mottled rash all over my body, arms, and legs. I panic. My arms feel strange and tingly. My heart's still beating, but sporadically. I have a sense of the surreal. Hubby laughs "You just slept on it weird". Yeah, I just slept on my whole skin weird. Onto the Internet, plug in "mottled rash" and come up with a number of credible possibilities: Dengue fever, Lupus. The children both awake late, coughing and sneezing. I make the call - to Dr. A, doc supreme, bro-in-law, foodie. "What you have is a viral exanthem" he says with Holmesian flourish. I look it up on the Internet....he's right. I'll live to see another day. To care for my two sick children, who today both have lacy rashes on their cheeks. To cook another healthful vegetarian meal.

Given the evidence, I believe we're suffering from Fifth Disease, a virus that produces mild cold symptoms along with the characteristic rash in young children. Harder on adults, it is associated with aching joints and muscles.

So the Christmas meal I had planned was simplified. I enjoyed the Field Roast Celebration Roast, but skipped the en croute. The roast potatoes were heavenly though, as were the Brussels Sprouts (a lower fat version of the fab recipe posted at Orangette).

And, of course, no English Christmas would be complete without the (vegetarian) Christmas Pudding, doused in brandy, set alight:

then topped with unbeat heavy cream.

So, the delicious orange cauliflower and goat cheese sauce became part of this evening's meal: veggies freaked with goat cheese sauce.

Here's wishing you excellent health for the upcoming New Year!

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Happy Holidays!

Happy holidays to all of you!

Alas, I was struck down on Friday with a fever of 102, so my last minute holiday cooking posts were compromised. Here's wishing you a very happy and healthy holiday!

With some serious help from Advil, we had a wonderful day yesterday with old friends visiting from the East Coast. I made a pasta dish similar to this but used half dino kale and half red chard and added three of those delicious Field Roast Apple Sage Sausages.

My holiday note: it's the friends you make at University that are still around to rally you as you mutually negotiate Dante's dark path ("Midway upon the journey of my life/I found myself in a dark wood,/where the right way was lost.)

So, what's on the Vegetarian menu for tomorrow:

  • Rosemary Roasted Cashews

  • Field Roast's Celebration Roast En Croute

  • Garlic Mashed Potatoes

  • Roasted Orange Cauliflower with Goat Cheese Sauce

  • Green Beans

  • Mum's Roast Potatoes

  • English Christmas Pudding

  • Buche de Noel (Whole Foods)

  • So what will we be doing while we wait for Santa ce soir?

    Watching Love Actually . Because love actually is all around.

    Happy Holidays.

    Friday, December 22, 2006

    Linguini with Dinosaur Kale, Garlic & Feta

    We've had this delicious and simple dish three times in two weeks. It's so good!

    Linguini with Dinosaur Kale, Garlic, & Feta :
    6-8 0z linguini
    1/2 -1 bunch dinosaur kale
    2 tbsp olive oil
    4 cloves garlic
    2-3 oz crumbled feta

    Cook linguini according to directions. Add kale in last 4 minutes.

    While pasta is cooking, heat olive oil in a non-stick skillet. Cook garlic over med-low heat for 2-3 minutes. Add the cooked pasta and kale, and cook in pan, coating pasta well for 3 minutes. Serve with sprinkled crumbled feta.

    Thursday, December 21, 2006

    There's Still Time...

    Tomorrow is the deadline to bid on the multitude of wonderful food blogger prizes donated to raise money for the United Nations World Food Program through Menu For Hope III. Bidding ends at 6pm PST Friday, Dec. 22.

    For $10 a ticket, you can help the World's hungry and buy a raffle ticket to win some truly awesome prizes:

  • S.F. Locals: Eggbeater donates a $200 Voucher for Aziza. Great veggie dishes and Shuna Fish Lydon's inventive desserts - what are you waiting for? (Code UW43)

  • The Fabulous Bunrabs arranged for a donation of 3 cookbooks of your choice from Ten Speed Press . OK...Ten Speed Press published my favorite vegan cookbook The Real Food Daily Cookbook by Ann Gentry, that classic, the original Moosewood Cookbook, and The Artful Vegan, Eric Tucker's glam vegan food from Millenium Restaurant. Now this is an opportunity! Code (UW23)

  • One of my fav bloggers, the indulgent Christine of Christine Cooks offers Made in Humboldt County, a delectable gift basket of treats made locally in Humboldt County (Code UW22)

  • Need a Mocha fix: Check out Cooking with Amy's Mocha Me Happy offering. Amy knows chocolate! (UW13)

  • And the lovely Pim, the golden-hearted organizer of this event of generosity, offers you these gems; A Meal of a Lifetime at Manresa (UW01), Coffee with Thomas Keller (UW02), and a cup of tea with Mr. McGee (Harold, that is) (UW03)

  • And special thanks to the lovely Sam of Becks & Posh for being our West Coast Prize Organizer.

  • Happy Holidays to you!

    Wednesday, December 20, 2006

    Lentil & Chestnut Soup

    While the chestnuts weren't roasted over an open fire for this recipe, they add wonderful texture and the slightest hint of sweetness to this festive Lentil & Chestnut Soup. No cream or pureeing here, this vegan soup is a tasty combination of humble root vegetables, brown lentils, and luxurious chestnuts.

    I took the easy road and used Minerve Chestnuts in Water ($6 at Whole Foods) rather than boiling and peeling fresh chestnuts (a laborious job, I'm told). They are simply chopped and sauted in olive oil with oregano and thyme, then excited with tangy marinara sauce.

    The recipe is adapted from Deborah Madison's Vegetable Soups from Deborah Madison's Kitchen. I didn't fancy the fennel Madison used to flavor her soup, so I skipped it. I also added potato, a lot more garlic, skipped the celery in favor of more carrots (hate cooked celery), added marinara in place of tomato paste, and added some soy sauce to develop the final flavor.

    I was a little anxious about the sweetness of the chestnuts, not being big on sweet with savory, but they are deliciously mild and work brilliantly with the lentils.

    Lentil & Chestnut Soup (adapted from Vegetable Soups from Deborah Madison's Kitchen):

    2 tbsp olive oil
    1 small onion, peeled and diced small
    1 large potato, peeled and diced small
    3-4 carrots, diced small
    4 cloves garlic, minced
    1 cup lentils (I used basic brown)
    5-6 cups of water
    1 bay leaf
    1 tsp thyme
    1 tsp oregano
    salt & pepper
    1 tbsp soy sauce

    10 oz can chestnuts in water, drained and chopped
    1 tbsp olive oil
    pinch of thyme
    pinch of oregano
    1/3 cup marinara sauce

    1/2 cup chopped parsley

    Heat the oil over medium heat in a large heavy-bottomed saucepan and fry the onions for 3 minutes. Add the potato, carrots, and 2 of the garlic cloves. Stir well, cover, and cook 5-6 minutes, stirring to avoid sticking. Add the water, lentils, bay leaf, thyme and oregano. Add salt and pepper. Cover and bring to a boil. Turn down the heat and simmer, covered, for 20-40 minutes (depending on the type of lentils) until the lentils are tender.

    While the soup is simmering, heat the olive oil in a skillet and add the chopped chestnuts. Cook for 2 minutes, then add the thyme and oregano. Cook 2 more minutes, then add the marinara. Stir well and cook for 2 minutes.

    Add the chestnut mixture to the soup, along with the soy sauce and two remaining minced garlic cloves. Cook together for 3-4 minutes. Add the chopped parsley, cook 1 more minute and serve.

    Monday, December 18, 2006

    Borscht and Happy Hanukkah

    This wonderful and delicious Borscht recipe goes out to honor my in-laws, who are celebrating Hanukkah. This is a humble dish, made of root vegetables and cabbage. I love it's simplicity, restraint, and beautiful color. As I had pretty purple kale, I added it into this recipe. If you're not using kale, you can reduce the frying time to 5 minutes.

    Happy Hanukkah!

    I used all purple varieties:

    This purple soup is my contribution to this week's Sweetnicks ARF/5-A-Day Tuesday (ARF=Antioxidant Rich Food)

    3 medium red beets, peeled and cubed
    3 purple potatoes, peeled and cubed
    5 cups water
    1 small onion, finely chopped
    2 tbsp butter
    1/2 small purple cabbage, chopped
    1 bunch purple ornamental kale

    Place the beets, potato, and salt in a large saucepan and bring to a boil. Turn down the heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes. Melt the butter in a large skillet and fry the onion for 5 minutes. Add the cabbage and kale, cover and cook for 10 minutes. Add to the potato mixture and simmer for 10-15 minutes. Adjust the seasoning and serve.

    Saturday, December 16, 2006

    Goat Cheese Sauce Pizza with Red Peppers & Tomatoes

    So tonight, I'm channeling my culinary genius.

    This fabulous pizza was the result of running out of tomato-based pizza sauce (the kids' pizzas polished it off). I'd been musing about a goat cheese sauce for veggies, so I decided to apply it tonight as a white pizza sauce. It was phenomenal.

    All amounts are approximate because I was winging it on this recipe. I chopped half a large shallot finely and minced 2 cloves of garlic. These were fried in 1 tbsp butter in a skillet. I added about 1/2 -1 tsp chopped fresh rosemary. I added about 1 tsp of flour, 1 tbsp milk and 1/4+ cup chardonnay. I then added 3oz of chopped up goat cheese. I used the chardonnay to get the right sauce texture. I used this goat cheese sauce as my base sauce and brushed the outer diameter with olive oil. I topped the pizza with slices of tomato and matchsticks of red pepper and some grated mozzarella, crumbled goat cheese, and plenty of pine nuts. A little grated pepper and we had a divine (yes, divine) pizza.

    Thursday, December 14, 2006

    Chocolate Peppermint Bar Cookies

    Decadent. Christmasy. Easy.

    This recipe for Chocolate Peppermint Bar Cookies from the December 2006 issue of Gourmet magazine produced chocolate covered smiles all round. These rich and gooey holiday goodies are packed with chocolate chips, crushed peppermint candies, sugar, butter and cocoa (I used Scharffen Berger), with just a little flour to hold them together.

    They were also very quick and easy to make. Chopping the peppermint candies was the most time consuming part. They were so good, I licked the bowl.

    Chocolate Peppermint Bar Cookies (adapted from Gourmet: Dec. 2006):
    1/2 cup flour
    1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
    1 tsp baking soda
    1/2 tsp salt
    1 stick unsalted butter, softened
    3/4 cup dark brown sugar
    1 large egg
    1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
    1 cup hard peppermint candies, coarsely chopped/crushed (I chopped them with a heavy knife)

    Preheat the oven to 375.

    Beat together the butter and sugar at high speed for 3 minutes. Add the egg and beat 2 minutes. Mix together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt until well combined. Add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients and blend until just combined. Stir in the chocolate chips and chopped/crushed peppermint candies by hand.

    Line a 13 by 9 inch baking pan with foil. Butter the foil. Spread the dough in an even layer to cover the bottom of the pan. Bake for about 20 minutes. The mixture will be puffed up and pull away from the side of the pan. Cool in the pan. Remove from pan in foil and cut into bars using a spatula.

    Monday, December 11, 2006

    Asparagus & Mushroom Pizza

    Inspired by this Goat Cheese & Asparagus pizza, this Asparagus & Mushroom pizza uses garlicy mushrooms in place of tomatoes. It was delicious and asparagus really looks and tastes great on pizza!

    I used a Trader Joe's plain pizza dough rolled thin and brushed the crust with White Truffle Oil. I sprinkled a light layer of grated mozzarella over the crust. I sauted sliced white mushrooms and some rehydrated dried porcini mushrooms in olive oil with 3 minced garlic cloves and these topped the mozzarella.

    The asparagus is cut in half length wise and gently coated with olive oil. It was then added to the pizza uncooked. Goat cheese, pine nuts, and a little more mozzarella on top then baked at 450 for 10 minutes.

    Sunday, December 10, 2006

    Vegetarian Pot Pies

    It was a dark and stormy night...the perfect evening for these hearty vegetarian pot pies.

    A tasty combination of potatoes, peas, broccoli, leeks, carrots, mushrooms, kidney beans, and Morningstar Steak Strips made the filling. I was impressed that the steak strips held their texture through a fairly long cooking time without turning glutinous. I added red wine, Bisto, Marmite, and soy sauce to create a robust gravy. The crust is made from the wonderful Pepperidge Farms Puff Pastry (the frozen sheets are vegan!). I used a little butter to cook my vegetables, but otherwise the recipe is vegan. Hubby (not a vegetarian) thought these pot pies were fabulous! So did I.

    Vegetarian Pot Pies:

    1 tbsp olive oil
    1 small onion, finely chopped
    1 large leek, soaked and chopped
    2 cloves garlic, minced
    2 small potatoes, peeled and diced small
    1 large carrot, sliced very thinly
    1/2 tbsp butter (or oil or marg.)
    4 oz mushrooms, thinly sliced
    1/3 cup peas
    1/4 cup red wine
    1/3 cup of prepared Bisto gravy (or vegetable stock etc)
    1 tsp Marmite
    1 tsp soy sauce
    freshly ground pepper
    7 oz kidney beans, rinsed and drained
    1/2 package of Morningstar Steak Strips (frozen)
    1 sheet Pepperidge Farms Puff Pastry (frozen)

    Remove the sheet of Puff Pastry from the freezer and allow to defrost for 40 minutes before using.

    Preheat oven to 375.

    Heat the oil in a large saucepan and cook the onion gently for 3 minutes. Add the leek and cook 2 minutes. Add the garlic, potatoes, carrot, and butter. Cover and cook for 6-8 minutes, stirring every 2. Add the mushrooms and peas, cover and cook 4 more minutes. Add the wine, gravy, Marmite and soy sauce and stir well. Cover and cook until the vegetable are almost tender. Add the kidney beans and Steak Strips and cook for 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat and distribute between two earthernware dishes (mine were 5-1/2" in diameter).

    Roll out the pastry and cut two pieces slightly larger than your dishes. Cut out a shape from the center to allow pie to steam. Top the dishes with the pastry and crimp around the edges of the dish, cutting off any extra dough. Using a knife, make small diagonal cuts around the edge for decoration. Cut some additional shapes from the pastry and attach to the top of pot pie using a little water.

    Bake for about 20 minutes until the pie crust is crisp. Enjoy!

    Thursday, December 07, 2006

    "Sausage" Stuffed Acorn Squash

    I've been hoarding squash again. The winter squash look so attractive, I can't resist buying them, and this bright orange acorn squash was especially pretty. But my squash basket overfloweth and its been icy cold, so it was time for this "Sausage" Stuffed Acorn Squash.

    The "sausage" is Field Roast's Smoked Apple Sage Sausage. These sausages are very tasty, vegan, yet not soy-based. I'm looking forward to sampling some of this company's other products, including the Italian and Mexican flavored sausages. In checking out their website, I found this delicious-looking recipe for a English Celebration Roast on their blog - yep, that has my name written all over it!

    The filling also included Seeds of Change Tuscan Rice & Beans, fresh garlic, dinosaur kale, and a little white truffle oil. Topped with salty feta, this was a delicious and warming meal for a cold night.

    Sausage Stuffed Acorn Squash:
    2 acorn squash, cut in half and seeded
    1 package Seeds of Change Tuscan Style Rice & Beans
    1 tsp olive oil
    2 cups water
    6-8 leaves of dinosaur kale, ribbed and torn into strips
    2 garlic cloves, minced
    olive oil
    1 shallot
    2 Field Roast Apple Sage Sausage, sliced
    1 tsp white truffle oil
    crumbled feta

    Preheat the oven to 350. Place the halves of the acorn squash cut-side down in a baking dish with 1/4 inch deep water. Bake for 30 minutes until flesh is tender. Dot insides with butter or oil.

    Prepare the Rice & Beans with the oil and water per the package directions. Add the kale to the liquid for the last 8 minutes of cooking. Add the fresh garlic for the last 4 minutes of cooking.

    Heat a little olive oil in a skillet and add the shallot. Cook for a couple of minutes and add the sausage. Cook over medium high heat until the sausage is browning (3-4 minutes). Add the rice mixture to the skillet and combine well, stir-frying for 2 minutes. Fill the acorn squash with the filling and top with crumbled feta.

    Tuesday, December 05, 2006

    Spaghetti with Broccoli, Cherry Tomatoes, and Chickpeas

    So dinner's starting to look a lot like Christmas...I swear it wasn't intentional, but the red, white and green colors of this dish do look rather attractive in this decidedly healthy contribution to Sweetnicks ARF/5-A-Day Tuesday (ARF=Antioxidant Rich Food): Spaghetti with Broccoli, Cherry Tomatoes, & Chickpeas.

    This is one of those incredibly fast and easy suppers that looks and tastes great, while supplying a powerhouse of nutrients to keep you healthy and happy.

    I haven't done much with broccoli recently, but it is definitely a vegetable to include in your diet as frequently as possible. According to the World's Healthiest Foods, 3-5 servings per week of broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables significantly lowers your risk of developing prostate, colorectal and lung cancer. Broccoli is also an excellent source of Vitamins C, K, and A and is especially delicious with lots of minced garlic and a little olive oil. To maximize the nutrients in broccoli, cook it as little as possible and buy organic whenever you can. These organic cherry tomatoes from the Farmers' Market were incredibly sweet and tasty and also provide plenty of Vitamin C. The chickpeas provide a nice dose of protein and the crumbled feta topping brings all the tastes and textures togethers beautifully!

    Spaghetti with Broccoli, Cherry Tomatoes, and Chickpeas

    6-8 oz spaghetti
    1-2 cups Broccoli florettes
    1 tbsp olive oil
    3-4 garlic cloves, minced
    1 cup cherry tomatoes, cut in half
    4-6 oz chickpeas, drained and rinsed
    2 oz crumbled feta

    Cook the spaghetti according to package directions. For the last 1-2 minutes boiling, add the broccoli florettes. Drain.

    Heat the olive oil in a skillet and gently fry the garlic for 1-2 minutes (don't let it brown). Add the broccoli and chickpeas and cook 1-2 minutes. Add the tomatoes and cook 1 minute. Add the drained spaghetti and toss until well combined. Season and serve in your favorite pasta bowls topped with crumbled feta.

    Monday, December 04, 2006

    Earl Grey Madeleines

    My best friend J. inspired me to make these Earl Grey Madeleines from Dorie Greenspan's Baking: From My Home to Yours. She's definitely an Earl Grey gal and as I was having tea with her this afternoon, it was the perfect excuse to try this recipe. The Earl Grey flavor is created by infusing the tea leaves in melted butter, a technique Dorie learned from the Parisian "tea masters at Mariage Freres".

    Alas, while I may eye a recipe and give it considerable thought (read: imagine how it's going to taste), I don't always notice whether I have all the ingredients. I found myself with only one egg at hand and was forced to make a half batch of these goodies (just 6 madeleines). They disappeared so quickly I barely had time to take the photographs. (The recipe below is for 12. ) J.'s comment: "They taste like they were made by a professional baker!" Hubby and the kids liked them too.

    While you could taste the Earl Grey flavor in the background, it was overwhelmed in this case by the lemoniest lemon zest of all time (a neighbor's home grown lemon). That said, the flavor was complex and the texture light and wonderful. Next time, I'll err on the side of less lemon zest (or use one of those less tasty supermarche lemons). I also cheated on the time to chill the dough. Dorie says at least 3 hours, but mine got 15 minutes. The chilling time, Dorie explains, improves the chance the batter will develop the characteristic hump. Mine were humpy even with the shortcut here.

    My other shortage was cheesecloth to strain the tea leaves from the melted butter after the taste infusion. My solution was to dismantle a tea bag and use the bag paper in place of the cheesecloth in the strainer, which fortunately worked a treat.

    One thing I particularly love about this book is the "Playing Around" variations with each recipe. Variations include Lavender Madeleines, Rosemary-Orange Madeleines, and Spiced Madeleines. They all sound really good.

    Earl Grey Madeleines (from Baking: From My Home to Yours):

    5 tbsp unsalted butter
    2 tbsp Earl Grey tea leaves
    3/4 cup flour
    1/2 tsp baking powder
    pinch of salt
    1/3 cup sugar
    grated zest of 1/2 lemon
    2 large eggs,
    2 tbsp honey
    2 tsp vanilla extract
    powder sugar for dusting

    Melt the butter and add the tea leaves. Stir to combine and allow the tea to infuse into the butter for 15 minutes. Strain the tea leaves from the butter using a strainer lined with cheesecloth (or tea bag paper).

    Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt in a small bowl.

    Mix together the sugar and lemon zest with your fingers.

    Whisk together the eggs, sugar, and zest until thickened (2-3 mins). Add the honey and vanilla extract and whisk for another minute.

    Add the dry ingredients to the egg mixture very gently with a spatula. Gently mix in the strained butter (mine had hardened so I softened it a bit in the microwave). Cover with plastic wrap and chill ( 3 hours- 2 days, per Dorie).

    Preheat the oven to 400. Butter and flour a madeleine pan. Distribute the batter equally between the 12 molds.

    Bake for 9 minutes and check (mine were done at 10). Bake until the tops are firm to the touch, up to 14 minutes. Remove from the molds by tapping the pan. Dust with powdered sugar.

    Serve with a cup of Earl Grey tea.

    Saturday, December 02, 2006

    (Greek) Pizza & Salad

    Back in the old days, when we were young and carefree and living in the Richmond district of San Francisco, we got our pizza from Front Room on Clement Street. Everyone loved "The Greek" (which was great as the only vegetarian of the household): pesto, thick slices of tomato, mozzarella, feta, pine nuts.

    So tonight, I rolled the TJ's dough extra thin and recreated this delicious pizza in a thin crust version.

    As I had also been fortunate to find delicious, sweet, organic little tomatoes at the Farmers' Market, I created a Greek salad along with cucumber, red onion, kalamata olives, chickpeas, feta, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar.

    Which reminds me, the last two restaurant meals I've had have both been salad on pizza creations:

    Artichoke and Salad Pizza

    Greek Salad Pizza with Avocado with Tzatziki dressing

    How do I love this combo?

    Friday, December 01, 2006

    Chickpea Crepes with Roasted Vegetable Curry

    I love Indian food. My best friend is Indian-English so I learned a lot about wonderful Indian cooking from her. This recipe for chickpea crepes, however, is from Myra Kornfeld's The Voluptuous Vegan. Move over papadums, these crepes were a crisp and delicious shell to a roasted vegetable Korma curry.

    The chickpea crepes were super easy to make (adapted from The Voluptuous Vegan):
    1/2 cup chickpea flour
    1/2 cup flour
    1/2 tsp salt
    1 tbsp olive oil
    1 cup water
    1 tbsp snipped chives

    Combine the dry ingredients in a bowl then add the olive oil and water. Blend with an immersion blender for 2 minutes. Add the chives and let the batter rest for 20 minutes.

    For the roasted vegetable filling:
    1/2 cauliflower, cut into florettes
    1 Japanese eggplant, cut on the diagonal
    1 cup cherry tomatoes
    6 cloves garlic
    1-2 tbsp olive oil
    7 oz chickpeas, drained and rinsed

    Heat the oven at 375 and combine the vegetables (excluding the chickpeas), olive oil, and salt. Roast for 25 minutes. Add the chickpeas, stir, and roast an additional 10 minutes.

    The complete recipe:

    Lightly oil a skillet and use 1/4 of the batter to create a pancake over medium high heat. Cook until bubbles appear and edges of the pancake come away easily from the edge of the pan. Flip and cook 2-3 minutes. Place on a plate in a 200 oven to keep warm. Repeat until you have 4 pancakes.

    Chop 1/2 onion finely and cook in 1 tbsp olive oil along with a generous shake of cumin and coriander seeds. Add the roasted vegetable and 7 oz of Trader Joe's Korma Simmer Sauce. Cook gently for 8-10 minutes.

    Serve the curry in the chickpea pancakes with a spoonful of plain yogurt and 4 slices of cucumber.