Saturday, July 30, 2011

Paneer Curry with Peas

One of my favorite Indian recipes to make is Butter Paneer Masala. It is just so good. I could eat it every day for the rest of my life. Paneer is delicious. I LOVE PANEER. But I saw this recipe and thought maybe I would try it out. Maybe I'd deviate a little from the usual butter paneer.

Well, in actuality this recipe is not so different. It has peas in it. No cashews. Some different spices. I didn't use the usli ghee because it was too expensive at Wegmans. So this was pretty good. I can't say it was better than the butter paneer, because it just wasn't. But it was still very good!! With some microwave rice and some naan, it was a wonderful meal.


Paneer Curry with Peas
Bon Appetit, April 2010

Paneer, a fresh, mild Indian cheese, stands in for the meat in this delicious vegetarian main course. When you're shopping for the peas, look for fresh shelling peas (sometimes called English peas) that have vibrant green pods full of small round peas. Larger peas are sometimes starchy instead of sweet and crisp.

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 pound paneer or firm or extra-firm tofu, cut into 3/4- to 1-inch cubes
5 tablespoons usli ghee, divided
1 large onion, cut into 1- to 2-inch pieces
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
2 tablespoons minced peeled fresh ginger
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 serrano chile, minced with seeds
1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes with added puree
1/2 cup water
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 1/2 cups shelled fresh peas (from about 1 1/2 pounds peas in pods) or 1 1/2 cups frozen peas, thawed
1 teaspoon garam masala
1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
Steamed basmati rice

1. Place flour in medium bowl. Add paneer to bowl; toss to coat with flour. Heat 2 tablespoons ghee in heavy large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Shake excess flour from paneer; add to skillet and cook until browned in spots, turning occasionally, about 4 minutes. Transfer paneer to plate; set aside. Reserve skillet.

2. Place onion pieces in processor. Using on/off turns, process until finely chopped but not watery. Heat remaining 3 tablespoons ghee in reserved skillet over medium heat. Add cumin seeds and stir until aromatic, about 1 minute. Add chopped onion and cook until beginning to brown, stirring often, about 10 minutes. Add minced ginger, minced garlic, ground coriander, and minced serrano chile with seeds; stir 1 minute. Add crushed tomatoes with puree, 1/2 cup water, and turmeric; bring to simmer. Reduce heat to medium low; cover and simmer until mixture thickens slightly and flavors blend, stirring occasionally, about 15 minutes.

3. Add shelled fresh peas and cooked paneer; gently fold to incorporate evenly. Cook mixture over medium-low heat until peas are tender and paneer is heated through, folding occasionally, about 5 minutes. Fold in garam masala and cilantro. Season curry to taste with salt and pepper. Serve with steamed basmati rice.

Ingredient Tips: Paneer, a fresh cow's milk or buffalo's-milk cheese, and usli ghee (clarified butter; also called ghee) are sold at some natural foods stores and at Indian markets. If you can't find paneer, then tofu, chicken, shrimp, or scallops would also work well in this recipe. Clarified butter or vegetable oil can be used in place of the ghee. Garam masala is a curry spice blend that's available in the spice section of many supermarkets, at Indian markets, and from add your own note

Servings: 6

Indian Vegetarian Curried Fried Rice

I am a big fan of fried rice. I am a big fan of Indian food. I love to eat rice with my Indian food.

The thought of combining the two things - fried rice and Indian food - never occurred to me.

Then I tried out this recipe, and it's like something clicked in my brain. How did I ever NOT make this? This should be A THING. Like it's just so natural. It's different from a biryani because it really is just a fried rice recipe using curry. And then the recipe is versatile because you could throw in whatever vegetables. Cauliflower would be good in it - whatever you want. Tofu! Paneer! Who knows? The options abound. I would definitely make this again.

Incidentally, the rice I used for this was leftover from Chinese takeout earlier in the week... Haha!

Indian Vegetarian Curried Fried Rice
Shape magazine

Use cold rice in this dish; hot rice will make your meal taste gummy.

2 tablespoons peanut or vegetable oil, divided
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 tablespoon minced ginger
1 cup green beans, cut into 3/4-inch pieces
1/2 cup 1/4-inch diced carrots
1 tablespoon curry powder
3 cups cooked brown rice
1 cup canned chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 cup halved cherry tomatoes
2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1. Heat a 14-inch flat-bottom wok or 12-inch skillet over high. Swirl in 1 tablespoon oil, add onion and ginger, and stir-fry for 10 seconds or until ginger is fragrant.

2. Add green beans and carrots; using a metal spatula, stir-fry for 1 minute or until beans are bright green. Stir in curry powder and stir-fry for 5 seconds or until fragrant.

3. Swirl in remaining oil, then add rice. Stir-fry for 1 minute, breaking up rice with a spatula until it’s well combined with vegetables.

4. Add chickpeas, tomatoes,soy sauce, and pepper and stir-fry for 1 minute or until mixture is heated through. Divide among 4 bowls and serve.

Servings: 4

Giant Chocolate-Toffee Cookies

Tonight I made Pad Thai, one of the best recipes ever. Yum!

Last Sunday (I know this is so late), I made these giant chocolate-toffee cookies. I crushed up some heath bars and used some brickle bits I had left over in the freezer. I omitted the walnuts. These were easy, definitely giant, and definitely insanely good. They were great to take to work for lunch all week. Definitely recommend!!!


Giant Chocolate-Toffee Cookies
Bon Appetit, March 2000

1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 pound bittersweet (not unsweetened) or semisweet chocolate, chopped
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
1 3/4 cups packed brown sugar
4 large eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
5 1.4oz chocolate-covered English toffee bars (such as Heath), coarsely chopped
1 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped

1. Combine flour, baking powder and salt in small bowl; whisk to blend. Stir chocolate and butter in top of double boiler set over simmering water until melted and smooth. Remove from over water. Cool mixture to lukewarm.

2. Using electric mixer, beat sugar and eggs in bowl until thick, about 5 minutes. Beat in chocolate mixture and vanilla. Stir in flour mixture, then toffee and nuts. Chill batter until firm, about 45 minutes.

3. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment or waxed paper. Drop batter by 1/4 cupfuls onto sheets, spacing 2 1/2 inches apart. Bake just until tops are dry and cracked but cookies are still soft to touch, about 15 minutes. Cool on sheets. (Can be made 2 days ahead. Store airtight at room temperature.)

Servings: 18

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Summer Squash Casserole

To use up the tons and tons of squash we got from the farm this week, I thought it would be fun to try out this recipe from Carrie, who is pretty regularly sending me recipes involving tons of butter and sour cream. I am not complaining. I like butter and sour cream.

To vegetarian-ify this recipe, I just switched the chicken soup to cream of celery. That worked well. I'd imagine cream of broccoli would also work nicely. It was lovely. I really liked this and it was a great way to use up the squash. I look forward to taking it for lunch tomorrow! I also think it would be fun (though extra-calorie-filled) to top it with shredded cheese. Hmmmm.. Yum.


Summer Squash Casserole
From Carrie Barta

2 1/2 pounds summer or yellow squash
1/4 cup chopped onion
1 cup shredded carrots
1 can condensed cream of chicken soup
1 8-ounce container sour cream
8 ounce bag of Pepperidge Farm Herb-Seasoned Stuffing Crumbs
1 stick of butter, melted

1. Wash and slice squash thinly. Place in pot of boiling water along with onions. Cook until squash is tender. (This is important - if it's not tender, the whole casserole has a gritty feel to it.) Drain. Add carrots.

2. Mix together sour cream and chicken soup and pour into veggie mixture.

3. Mix butter and stuffing crumbs. Layer as follows: veggie mixture, stuffing crumbs, veggie mixture and top with remaining stuffing crumbs.

4. Bake at 340 degrees F. for about 35 minutes or until browned and bubbly.

Corn & Crab Fritters

I made these Corn & Crab Fritters over a year ago (and burned them, so I took a new picture this time) and forgot about them. Then my friends started talking about them on my Facebook the other day, saying that it's one of their favorite recipes from my blog. Surprised by this, I decided to try it out again. I used some more fresh corn from the farm, fresh tomatoes, fresh eggs - loving the fresh stuff.

Unfortunately, I cheaped out on the crab and that was the downfall. These did not taste very good... and it was definitely due to the crab. It was too strong and tasted way too oceany. I was really disappointed since they turned out so beautifully. Sad sad sad. Maybe I will try them again in another year.

Here's a better photo from this time around:

Creamy Fettuccine with Corn and Arugula

We got a whole bunch of corn from the farm this week, and as much as I love roasted corn and corn soup and all the delicious things to do with corn, I wanted to try something different. Although this is slightly different, it's so simple. And so freaking good. What a perfect summer pasta dish! I had leftovers for lunch today and it was wonderful. I would make this many, many times.


Creamy Fettuccine with Corn and Arugula
Real Simple, June 2010

12 ounces fettuccine -- (3/4 box)
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 leeks -- (white and light green parts) cut into thin half-moons
4 cloves garlic -- thinly sliced
kosher salt and black pepper
1 cup corn kernels -- (from 1 to 2 ears, or frozen)
1/2 cup dry white wine
3/4 cup heavy cream
2 cups baby arugula -- (1 1/2 ounces)
1/4 cup grated pecorino -- (1 ounce)

1. Cook the pasta according to the package directions. Drain.

2. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.

3. Add the leeks, garlic, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, 3 to 4 minutes.

4. Add the corn and wine. Simmer until the corn is tender, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the cream.

5. Add the pasta, season with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and toss to combine. Fold in the arugula. Sprinkle with the pecorino before serving.

Servings: 4

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Banh Mi

I swear, Banh Mi Chays are definitely one of my favorite things that I make. They are always so delicious and good.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Pesto Benno Pizza

Let's just clear this up from the beginning: I really, really screwed up this recipe. I did not make the crust from scratch, which I should have. I did not "parbake" the one I bought, because I forgot. So I put everything on the dough and baked it and - not surprisingly - the dough did not cook through. It was not awesome.

Now, I do think it would have been pretty good if it had gone right, but I don't think it would have been excellent. The pesto is just alright. It's a very salty pizza from the pesto and cheese. I don't think I would try it again with the correct dough - I just don't care enough about it.


Pesto Benno Pizza
Vegetarian Times, April/May 2011

Named after one of Batali's sons, this pizza is a weekly special at Otto Enoteca Pizzeria in New York. Even if you don't make the pizza, try the pesto recipe; it's great on pasta and sandwiches.

3 cloves garlic, peeled
2 cups lightly packed fresh basil leaves
3 tablespoons pine nuts
1 generous pinch Maldon or other flaky sea salt
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
3 tablespoons grated Pecorino-Romano cheese

1 parbaked pizza crust
1/2 cup grated fresh mozzarella (4 ounces)

1. To make Pesto: Drop garlic into running food processor and process until finely chopped. Add basil, pine nuts, and salt, and pulse until basil and pine nuts are coarsely chopped. Scrape sides of bowl, then process until finely chopped. With food processor motor running, drizzle in oil. Transfer to small bowl, and stir in Parmigiano-Reggiano and Pecorino Romano.

2. To make Pizza: Spread 6 tablespoons pesto over parbaked pizza crust, leaving 1/2-inch border; reserve remaining pesto for another use. Scatter mozzarella over pesto. Broil 7 to 8 minutes; cut into 6 slices, and serve.

Yield: 1 10-inch pizza

Monday, July 18, 2011

Sesame Green Beans

We got a bunch of fresh green beans from the farm so I decided to make this asian-inspired green beans recipe to go along with the Asian BBQ sliders. It was super-simple and pretty good. Nothing exciting.


Sesame Green Beans
Cooking Light, May 2007

Well-chosen sources of fats (sesame seeds and a drizzle of peanut oil) add a nutty, toasty edge, plus a bit of vitamin E, to this side dish. You'll also get folate, a B vitamin good for brain health; iron; and fiber.

1 pound green beans -- trimmed
1/2 teaspoon peanut oil
1/2 teaspoon rice vinegar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon dark sesame oil
1 garlic clove -- minced
2 1/2 teaspoons sesame seeds -- toasted

Steam green beans, covered, 8 minutes or until crisp-tender. Drain and plunge green beans into ice water; drain. Place beans in a large bowl. Add peanut oil and remaining ingredients except sesame seeds; toss to coat. Sprinkle with sesame seeds; toss well. Serve at room temperature or chilled.

Servings: 4

Asian BBQ Salmon Sliders

Every Saturday we go to Wegmans to get groceries, and we always go at the time they have all the samples. We get to eat samples in almost every area of the store! It's wonderful. Most of the time we don't buy what we've tried, but sometimes we do. One time they made these salmon sliders and I liked them so much that I decided to make them, too. It uses store-made salmon burgers, so it's not like I made them from scratch. But it's still a recipe so leave me alone.

Unfortunately, ours did not fare as well as the ones at the store which is weird since I used all the same ingredients - including the Asian bbq sauce! I was really disappointed. Boohoo.


Asian BBQ Salmon Sliders

1/2 seedless cucumber, peeled, thinly sliced
1 green onion, thinly sliced
1/2 tablespoon Wegmans Rice Vinegar (Grocery Dept)
2 packages (6 ct each) Salmon Sliders (Seafood Dept)
1/4 cup Wegmans Asian Style BBQ Sauce
4 leaves green leaf lettuce, torn into 3 pieces each
1 package (12 ct) Wegmans Slider Rolls

1. Toss cucumber, onion, and rice vinegar in large bowl. Chill, covered, until ready to serve, at least 30 min and up to 3 hours. Drain, discarding liquid.

2. When ready to serve: Preheat grill on HIGH 10 min. Clean grill with wire brush. Using soft cloth, coat grill grate lightly with vegetable oil. Place burgers on grill; reduce heat to MEDIUM.

3. Sear burgers on grill 2 min, until they have changed color about one-quarter of way up from bottom. Turn over; brush top of burgers with BBQ sauce. Sear 2-3 min. Turn again; brush with BBQ sauce and reduce heat to MEDIUM-LOW. Close lid.

4. Cook 5-7 min, until internal temp reaches 165 degrees (check by inserting thermometer halfway into thickest part of burgers). Transfer to clean platter; set aside.

5. Arrange lettuce on slider rolls; top with burger. Top with onion-cucumber mixture; serve.

Servings: 6

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Cheddar-Sriracha Swirl Bread

I think, if you have been reading my blog for long enough, you are well-aware of our love for Sriracha sauce. Some call it "rooster sauce" because it comes in the little bottle with a rooster printed on it. We love it. We use it in huge quantities. I see some people try a little dab and say "Oh my gosh, it's so spicy!" and then I see us, pouring it on the bibimbap like it's nothing ("if the rice isn't red, there isn't enough sriracha").

When I saw this recipe posted on Epicurious, I noticed that it was from a Sriracha cookbook. So I bought it. Obviously.

I made this bread, but I crapped out. I am so ashamed to say I did not make the bread from scratch, I just used pre-made pizza dough like it suggests at the end of the recipe. And I don't think anyone will be shocked to hear it was kind of disappointing. I would hope that it was because I took the easy way, but I don't know. If you try it from scratch, let me know!


Cheddar-Sriracha Swirl Bread
The Sriracha Cookbook by Randy Clemens

If you're looking for the answers to your sandwich prayers, I assure you this is it. Okay, so it's probably not a great combo for your PB&J, but your panini will definitely make a quantum leap up the yum scale from delicious to ridiculous.

1 3/4 cups whole milk
2 tablespoons unsalted butter -- at room temperature
2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 ounce instant dry yeast
4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour -- plus more for kneading
Vegetable oil or nonstick cooking spray -- as needed
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/4 cup Sriracha
1 cup shredded sharp Cheddar cheese -- (4 ounces)

1. In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, warm the milk, butter, and sugar, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat as soon as the butter melts. The liquid should be lukewarm to the touch, around 100°F. Allow it to cool to that temperature if necessary. Sprinkle the yeast over the milk mixture and let sit for 10 minutes to proof. After about 10 minutes, there should be a layer of froth on the surface of the mixture, which signifies that the yeast is viable and ready to sacrifice its own life in the name of good bread.

2. In a large bowl, mix together the flour and salt. Pour the milk and yeast mixture into the bowl of flour and mix with a wooden spoon until a soft, ragged mixture is formed. Transfer the dough to a well-floured work surface and knead for 1 minute. Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl, cover with a kitchen towel, and allow it to rest, undisturbed for 20 minutes.

3. After its rest, turn the dough back out onto the well-floured work surface and knead until a soft, elastic dough results, 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer the dough once more to the lightly oiled bowl, cover, and allow it to rest in a warm area of the house until doubled in size, about 2 hours.

4. Transfer the dough to the work surface and, using your hands, gently flatten into a 9-inch-wide rectangle. Spread the Sriracha over the dough, leaving a 1-inch border around the outside edges free of Sriracha. Sprinkle the cheese evenly over the Sriracha, respecting the same border. It is this border that allows the dough to seal properly in the next step.

5. Roll the dough up tightly, lengthwise, similar to making a jelly roll. Press down on the last roll to seal and make a seam. Lightly oil a 9 by 5-inch loaf pan. Put the dough, seam side down, into the pan. Cover and return to the warm spot until the dough has again doubled in size and is cresting over the top of the pan, 2 to 2 1/2 hours.

6. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Just before baking, make a 1/4-inch-deep slit down the center of the loaf using a serrated knife. Place the loaf pan on the center rack of the oven. Spray the inside walls of the oven and the top of the loaf with a generous misting of water to create steam. Quickly close the oven door and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the loaf from the pan and continue baking for an additional 10 to 15 minutes. The center of the loaf should register 190°F on a thermometer and the bottom of the loaf should sound hollow when tapped. Let the bread cool completely on a cooling rack before slicing for best results. Store refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

7. In a Pinch: Use a 1-pound ball of fresh pizza dough or defrosted frozen pizza dough, available at some specialty supermarkets and friendly neighborhood pizzerias. Allow the dough to come to room temperature and flatten the dough into the 9-inch-wide rectangle, proceeding as directed with Sriracha and cheese, allowing the dough to rise and then baking as directed.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Zucchini Pasta

As I've mentioned, the zucchini are growing in abundance here in Pennsylvania. It's a good thing I like it. I get to try all kinds of new things. This one is not a hugely novel idea but it was very good. I used the fresh zucchini and fresh onions from the farm, and I tried out a gluten-free pasta that was surprisingly not at all weird. Yay for trying new things! I don't know if I'd make this again because it's so similar to a lot of things we make, but it was very good.


Zucchini Pasta
New York Times, 10/17/07

Salt and pepper
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
5 or 6 medium zucchini, rinsed, trimmed and cut into ribbons or coins
1 large onion, chopped
2 or 3 sprigs thyme
2 tomatoes, in wedges or roughly chopped, with their juice
1/2 pound cut pasta, like ziti or penne
Freshly grated Parmesan or freshly chopped parsley for garnish.

1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and salt it. Put olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add zucchini, onion and thyme, and cook, stirring occasionally. Add salt and pepper and adjust heat so onion and zucchini release their liquid without browning. Cook for about 20 minutes, or until very tender.

2. Add tomatoes and their liquid to zucchini and raise heat a bit so mixture bubbles. Cook pasta until it is nearly but not quite tender. If sauce threatens to dry out, add a little pasta cooking water.

3. Drain pasta and finish cooking it in sauce. Serve, garnished with parsley or Parmesan.

Servings: 4

Carolina-Style Barbecue Sandwiches

I saw this recipe awhile ago and thought it sounded good, and then I found shredded seitan at Wegmans so I decided it was the universe's way of telling me to make it. Oh my goodness, I'm glad I did. It was fantastic. The seitan freaks me out, but in the sauce it was delicious. We had it with coleslaw and some roasted vegetables. It was an awesome meal, especially when followed by the cherry pie. Awesome.


Carolina-style Barbecue Sandwiches
Vegetarian Times

A tangy mustard-based sauce distinguishes Carolina-style barbecue from its sweeter Kansas City cousin. This recipe makes 2 cups of sauce, leaving plenty to serve on the side. For crunch in your sandwiches, buy coleslaw at the deli, or make Deep South Slaw.

1 cup apple cider vinegar
2/3 cup no-salt-added ketchup, such as Heinz
1/4 cup yellow mustard
3 tablespoons dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon molasses
2 teaspoons Louisiana-style hot sauce
2 teaspoons black pepper
1 teaspoon salt
12 ounces seitan, cut into thin strips
4 hamburger-style buns
12 pickle chips, optional
1 cup prepared coleslaw, optional

Bring vinegar, ketchup, mustard, brown sugar, molasses, hot sauce, black pepper, and salt to a simmer in saucepan over medium heat. Cook 5 minutes. Transfer 1 cup sauce to bowl, and set aside. Add seitan to saucepan, and cook 10 minutes. Divide among buns. Serve with pickle chips, coleslaw, and extra sauce, if using.

Servings: 4

Cheesy Vegetable Chili

I've been the worst at updating this through the week! Ugh. Okay so last night I made Cuban Black Bean Patties sans the pineapple rice because I didn't have rice.

And back on Monday I made our favorite Cheesy Vegetable Chili except I got a little bit creative. I used zucchini, peppers, and squash from the farm, a bag of dried 16-beans that I soaked all day while I was at work, and extra-sharp cheddar. It was a good time.

Speaking of zucchini, look at what we got this week! Jesus christ, it's huge. I put a bottlecap and a store-bought zucchini next to it for comparison purposes.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Fresh Cherry Pie

I'm not going to be modest here: this is the best cherry pie I have ever eaten in my life. It is one of the best pies I have ever made. I think the secret to it was that I bought an enormous amount of fresh cherries from the farmer's market this weekend.

I brought slices of this pie to several friends and it was agreed that it was phenomenal. I will never try a different cherry pie. This is it.

Before the oven:


Fresh Cherry Pie
Cooking Light, July 2008

2 tablespoons uncooked quick-cooking tapioca
6 cups pitted sweet cherries
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1/8 teaspoon salt
15 ounces refrigerated pie dough -- (such as Pillsbury)
Cooking spray
2 tablespoons water
1 large egg white
2 tablespoons turbinado sugar

1. Place tapioca in a spice or coffee grinder; process until finely ground. Combine tapioca, cherries, and next 5 ingredients (through salt) in a large bowl; toss well. Let cherry mixture stand 30 minutes; stir to combine.

2. Preheat oven to 400°.

3. Roll 1 (9-inch) dough portion into an 11-inch circle. Fit dough into a 9-inch pie plate coated with cooking spray, allowing dough to extend over edge of plate. Spoon cherry mixture and any remaining liquid into dough. Roll remaining (9-inch) dough portion into a 12-inch circle. Cut dough into 12 (1-inch-wide) strips; arrange in a lattice pattern over cherry mixture. Fold edges under; crimp.

4. Combine 2 tablespoons water and egg white in a small bowl. Brush the egg white mixture over dough on top of pie, and sprinkle dough evenly with 2 tablespoons turbinado sugar. Bake at 400° for 20 minutes. Shield edges of piecrust with foil, and bake an additional 40 minutes or until crust is golden brown and filling is thick and bubbly. Cool pie in pan for 45 minutes on a wire rack.

Servings: 12

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Cheesy Vegetable Chili

Ah, Cheesy Vegetable Chili. One of our most-frequently made recipes over the years. It's always delicious, but yesterday I shook things up a little bit. I used fresh onion, zucchini, and peppers from the farm. I also cooked my own dried beans from scratch instead of using canned - and I used a 16-bean mix instead of just kidney beans. I also used a fancier extra-sharp cheddar cheese.


Sunday, July 10, 2011

Daniel NYC

Every once in awhile for birthdays we go to super-exciting fancy restaurants. Like, the kind of restaurant that you see on the Food Network and Top Chef and never imagine actually eating at. The best of the best that we've been to was Citronelle in DC, and that experience was hard to top.

Daniel NYC managed to top it.

We went there last night with my parents, brother, and mother in law. It was a Big Deal to celebrate the birthdays of me (2 weeks ago), my mom (today) and my dad (next weekend). I originally wanted to go to Gordon Ramsey's restaurant in Manhattan (we're all only about an hour outside the city) but he had no vegetarian options and he is known for his disdain of vegetarians anyhow. Sad face. So I started looking for restaurants known for being amazing but also with vegetarian selections. Lo and behold, I came upon this magical place, which not only has vegetarian options but has its own vegetarian prix fixe menu. Holy crap! And Daniel has three Michelin stars, was voted #8 in the Top Restaurants in the World in two different major food publications, and a four-star rating from the New York Times. So I wept a little with happiness and I made reservations and we all went.

First of all, it was the fanciest place I've ever been in my life. Absolutely gorgeous. The wait staff were insanely nice and though they presented as being all frou-frou pretentious, I got them to joke around with me by the end of the meal and it was fun.

Having had this experience, I can tell you three major lessons learned about Really Fancy Restaurants.

1) You get what you pay for. I know it sounds ridiculous to pay so much for food (my mom so eloquently stated, "tomorrow I will have the most expensive poop of my life"), but you really do get quality food, substantial portions (we were stuffed!) and amazing service.

2) You can't really go wrong with ordering.

3) There are always surprises.

Since there were six of us, I can't go through what everyone ordered since it spanned so much of the menu. I can do a general coverage though! Ready?

Right after we ordered we got a little surprise tasting of three things involving beets: a beet puree, a little square of beet with smoked salmon, and some even tinier squares of beet with a slice of octopus on top. For real. Octopus. One of the waiters, who I will call Mr. Awesome, kept coming over to me to check if it was okay. ("You ordered off the vegetarian menu, but you also ordered seafood, so is this going to be ok? Are you able to eat these things? Are you sure?") Yes. And they were all delicious.

A dude with a basket of bread came around and gave us a selection of rolls. Because I am Lauren and have no self-control, I got a few different ones. We agreed the olive-rosemary was the best. SO GOOD.

Appetizers! I got a lobster ravioli with mushrooms and wild spinach, my brother got rabbit to be a jerk but ended up really liking it, I think my husband and my dad both got fish, and my mom and mother in law got a scallop thing that was really yummy (I tried my mom's). My ravioli was phenomenal. Everyone was super happy. You have to keep in mind with all of this, my dad and my brother are really picky, and my mother in law is not an adventurous eater. So the fact that after every.single.course we had all eaten everything on our plates? A miracle.

Main courses! Mine came off the veggie menu. I was worried it wouldn't be substantial. It was fennel with black mission figs. Turns out, it was TOTALLY substantial and totally delicious. With almost all of our meals (husband got a beef, brother got duck, the other three got various fish) there was a cool cube type thing going on. Like they pureed vegetables, solidified it, and made it little cubes. It was AWESOME. So I had a bunch of cubes of fennel with roasted figs and then Mr.Awesome poured a fig sauce on top. It was so good, I was so happy. My mom found some pin-bones in her fish and mentioned it to the waiter, and he brought her a new one immediately. My mom was scared they had fired the first waiter because that's what happens on TV (sigh) but not to worry, he was still around when we left! So everyone was happy with that.

And then came dessert! Oh my gosh! We all got different things and tried each others' and everything was incredible! The pastry chef gets all crazy with different textures and patterns and preparations. If you go to the website you can see all the things I've been talking about in the photos (we couldn't use phones/cameras in the restaurant). I had a chocolate mousse with coffee cream and toffee and I was so happy. And then! THEN! They brought out a pineapple-coconut dessert for us all to share! AND THEN they brought a little tray of very tiny little desserts to try! I discovered that I do not like macaroons. Gibby had a miniature raspberry pie. They were beautiful and tiny and amazing.

AND THEN! They came out with these little baskets of tiny citrusy madeleines because, apparently, the pastry chef decided to whip some up on a whim and they brought them fresh to the table. Holy crap. It was so awesome. I must have eaten like 10 of them. One of the best things I've ever eaten. AND THEN AND THEN!!!!! With our coffee, they brought out a selection of tiny flavored truffles and we got to pick which ones we wanted. Of course, my dad and I have no self control (see above) so we both got all four. Peanut butter won hands-down.

All in all, it was ridiculously expensive and worth every single penny. I can't see how anything will ever, ever top this. Ever.

Saturday, July 09, 2011

Peanut-Noodle Salad

Nothing particularly special to see here. A basic peanut sauce over some cucumber (from the farm! god I love the farm!) and noodles. I don't think I'd make it again but it was a nice, quick dinner. I didn't bother refrigerating it because I was hungry, so it took all of 8 minutes to prepare (for the pasta to boil)!


Peanut-Noodle Salad
Weber's Grilling with Family and Friends via CLBB (terry_tx)

2 large cucumbers
1 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup coconut milk
1/2 cup rice wine vinegar
1/2 cup chunky peanut butter
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1/2-1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 16 ounce package package soba noodles or angel hair pasta, cooked
1 8 ounce package shredded fresh carrot
6 green onions, cut diagonally into 1 1/2-inch pieces

1. Peel cucumbers; cut in half lengthwise, removing and discarding seeds.
Cut cucumber into half-moon shaped slices.

2. Whisk togethersoy sauce and next 7 ingredients in a large bowl; add
cucumber, pasta, carrot, and green onions, tossing to coat. Cover and
chill up to 24 hours, if desired.

Servings: 8

Ethiopian Cabbage Dish

I think the goal here is NOT to burn the cabbage, but I always seem to anyway and I love it that way. We keep getting these HUGE heads of cabbage from the farm so I needed to find a good way to use it, and this seemed appropriate. It is also really good. Very comforting in the same way Halushki is comforting and simple. Love. We would make this again.


Ethiopian Cabbage Dish

"My Ethiopian friend brought this dish to a potluck and I've been making it ever since. It is healthy and delicious. Do not add liquid. The cabbage and potatoes release enough moisture on their own."

1/2 cup olive oil
4 carrots -- thinly sliced
1 onion -- thinly sliced
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/2 head cabbage -- shredded
5 potatoes -- peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes

Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Cook the carrots and onion in the hot oil about 5 minutes. Stir in the salt, pepper, cumin, turmeric, and cabbage and cook another 15 to 20 minutes. Add the potatoes; cover. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook until potatoes are soft, 20 to 30 minutes.

Servings: 5

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Roasted Beet Salad with Blue Cheese

We got a huge haul of beets from the farm this week, so I gave in and decided to make a salad. The spinach I got was not good, however, so it ended up just being roasted beets with cheese and dressing. I made an awesome executive decision and found Moody Blue, a smoked blue cheese. Amazing, right? It worked so well with this. It was so good.

A lot of the reviews for this recipe mentioned how crappy the tangerine reduction is. I say to start with a smaller amount to begin with but thene watch it closely while it's reducing. This is what I did, and I ended up with a perfect dressing. It was all good.

This really was delicious, even without the spinach. Maybe even because of the lack of spinach. I would make this again. We had it with Roasted Broccoli. Delicious!


Roasted Beet Salad with Blue Cheese
Michael Chiarello on Food Network

For the Salad:
3 medium yellow beets -- (about 1 pound) stems trimmed off
3 medium red beets -- (about 1 pound) stems trimmed off
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 cups baby leaf spinach
1/4 pound whole piece blue cheese -- (frozen)
Toasted almonds

For the Dressing:
3 cups tangerine juice -- or orange juice
1 tablespoon lemon juice
pinch salt and pepper
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

2. Place the beets in a baking pan, drizzle with the oil, and season with salt. Cover with foil. Bake for about 1 hour, or until tender when pierced with a knife.

3. In a 1-quart non-reactive saucepan , over medium-high heat, reduce the tangerine juice to about 3/4 cup. Add the lemon juice. Remove from the heat and strain with a fine sieve .

4. Return to the saucepan; add lemon juice, salt and pepper. Over medium heat, reduce until the mixture bubbles and has a syrup-like consistency. You should have about 1/4 cup. Remove from the heat and strain again. Let cool to room temperature. Add the olive oil. Set aside. (Can be stored in refrigerator for up to 1 1/2 weeks.)

5. When cool enough to handle, peel the beets, and thinly slice them into rounds. Arrange on a serving platter and drizzle with the dressing . In a large bowl, toss the spinach with the remaining dressing and place spinach on top of beets in the center of the platter.

6. Remove the wedge of blue cheese from the freezer. Using a microplane grater , grate the desired amount over the salad. Garnish with toasted almonds.

Servings: 4

Zucchini Bread

I had this gigantic zucchini from the farm last week (I feel like there's a "that's what she said" joke in there somewhere) and I immediately thought: "Zucchini bread." It's been a long time since I made one, so I picked out a new recipe and tried it out. What a waste of my zucchini! Sad face. I was really disappointed. It's okay, but it's far from great. I don't know if I did something wrong, or what happened, because it got great reviews but just was soooooo blah. I wouldn't make this again. I need a better recipe.

Oh the other problem was that I had enough for one loaf. One. I seriously must have done something wrong.


Zucchini Bread
Cooking Light, July 2005

Use your bounty of zucchini for this sweet, moist quick bread, a long-time Cooking Light reader favorite. The recipe makes two loaves, so you can freeze one for later.

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup egg substitute
1/3 cup canola oil
1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 large egg -- lightly beaten
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 cups shredded zucchini -- (12 ounces)
1/4 cup coarsely chopped walnuts -- toasted
Cooking spray

1. Preheat oven to 350°.

2. Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour and next 4 ingredients (through baking soda) in a large bowl.

3. Combine egg substitute and next 4 ingredients (through egg) in a large bowl; add sugar, stirring until combined. Add zucchini; stir until well combined. Add flour mixture; stir just until combined. Stir in walnuts.

4. Divide batter evenly between 2 (8 x 4-inch) loaf pans coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350° for 1 hour or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes in pans on a wire rack; remove from pans. Cool completely on wire rack.

Yield: 2 loaves

Sunday, July 03, 2011

Brownie Scones

The other day it was casually mentioned to me that I - a super-anxious Type A person - "channel [my] nervous energy into creative activities like cooking and scrapbooking." An obvious observation, but one that I had not personally noticed. But it's true. I love to bake. I don't necessarily even eat everything I make (I mean, I eat some but not all), hence why I really love to bring things to work or parties or as gifts. Cooking is a hobby to me, just like scrapbooking and sewing and making jewelry. I may not be awesome at it, but it brings me a sense of peace.

We went to see Bridesmaids last night and the main character zens out while creating one single beautiful cupcake complete with fondant flower petals. One of my favorite movies is Waitress, where the main character vents her frustrations by inventing new pies. I identify so strongly with this! When I am baking, I am zoned. I am measuring and tasting and mixing and it is a wonderful feeling. It calms me.

So I guess that's why I made these scones. There is no reason to have made them, especially since the baked good I was planning for the weekend is a zucchini bread (which you will just have to wait for). But oh, my, I am so glad I made them. They are delicious. They are a food I would make for overnight guests for breakfast. Do you like chocolate Pop-Tarts? I do, but they're so overprocessed and trans-fatty that I won't buy them. Well, these taste a lot like chocolate Pop-Tarts. This makes me incredibly joyous. I wouldn't say they're truly scone-like, but they're close enough to count. With a cup of coffee, this would be a wonderful way to start the day. Definitely keeping this recipe on hand!

One more thing. I have a confession. I don't have a pastry blender. And using two knives? Just doesn't work for me. How do I do it? I use my hands and squish it all together. Probably totally wrong, but it works fine for me and that is good enough.


Brownie Scones
Baking Unplugged, via CLBB (sneezles)

Very rich, very chocolatey but much lighter than brownies.

4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup cake flour
2/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 plus 1/8 teaspoon salt
1 large egg
1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons heavy whipping cream, divided
2 teaspoons molasses
1 teaspoon vanilla
7 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, diced
3.5 ounces semi- or bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
Sugar for sprinkling

1. Preheat oven 375

2. In a small bowl of simmering water, melt the unseetened chocolate and set aside but keep warm enough to prevent is solidifying.

3. In a large bowl combine the flours, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt; whisk until well combined. Using a pastry blender, cut in the butter until only a few pea sized bits remain. In another bowl combine the 1/3 cup of cream, molasses, egg, and vanilla, whisk until well blended. Drizzle the egg mixture over the flour mixture and then drizzle the melted chocolate. Using a fork, stir until the mixture just begins to hold together. Lightly mix in the finely chopped chocolate. There will be some bit of unincorporated dry ingredients in the bottom of the bowl-not to worry-don't mix past this point.

4. Line baking sheet with parchment paper (I used my silpats). Turn out the dough onto a lightly flour surfaced using well-floured hands and divide the mass in half. With floured hands, form the two pieces of dough into two 5" squares about 1 1/2" high. It is okay to gently work the dough a little to form it into a nice square, tucking in the rough edges. With a bench scraper or chef's knife, cut each piece into four triangles. Carefully move the triangles to the prepared baking sheet, setting them at least an inch apart. Brush with 2tbs of whipping cream and sprinkle with sugar. Bake for 14-16 minutes. Cool at least 3 minutes on the baking sheet and then cool 3-4 minutes on a rack. (I ended up cooling completely on the baking sheet).

Yield: 8 huge

Vegan Garden-Fresh Ratatouille with Crispy Polenta Triangles

As far as I know, ratatouille is basically vegan to begin with. It's just sort of a vegetable stew and is sometimes splashed with vinegar at the end. Yeah? So I don't know why it's important to label this as vegan, but that's okay.

My beloved Erica emailed me this the other day from a recipe newsletter she gets. It's technically two recipes, since the polenta crisps are separate, but they're supposed to go together so I'm going to include them both. These were both very easy to make and made for a very nice dinner. I loved using all the fresh produce! I don't know if we would make it again, but it was a lovely summer dinner. Thanks, Erica!


Vegan Garden-Fresh Ratatouille

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium onion, diced
1 medium eggplant (3/4 pound), diced
1 medium zucchini, quartered and diced
1 medium red bell pepper, diced
6 tomatoes (2 pounds), diced
1 teaspoon fresh oregano, roughly chopped
1 teaspoon fresh thyme, roughly chopped
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon capers, drained and roughly chopped
1/4 cup fresh basil, thinly sliced

In a large pot, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is softened, about 5 minutes. Add the eggplant and cook for 5 minutes. Add the zucchini and bell pepper and cook for 10 minutes. Stir in tomatoes and cook for 5 more minutes. All vegetables should be tender.

Stir in the oregano, thyme, salt, and pepper, and cook for one additional minute. Remove from heat and add balsamic vinegar and capers. Garnish with basil and serve with Crispy Polenta Triangles. (See below)

Crispy Polenta Triangles

3 cups water
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup dry polenta
2 tablespoons olive oil

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. In a medium saucepan, bring water to boil. Add salt. Slowly whisk in polenta to avoid lumps. Decrease heat to low and stir occasionally for 15 minutes. Polenta should be thick and creamy.

Pour polenta onto a parchment-lined baking sheet spreading evenly into a square about 1/2-inch thick. Set aside to cool for at least 10 minutes.

Once firm, slice the polenta into triangles. Brush both slides lightly with olive oil and bake for 30 minutes, flipping pieces after 15 minutes. The polenta will be slightly crispy and browned on the outside while smooth and creamy inside.

Yield: 4 servings

Saturday, July 02, 2011

Wild Mushroom Pizza with Caramelized Onions, Fontina, and Rosemary

I've had this recipe for quite awhile, staring at me, asking me why I have not made it. So I finally gave in and made it. I tweaked it in several ways, however. First, I was lazy and used store-bought fresh pizza dough. Second, I made a big rectangular pizza on a cookie sheet instead of making little circles. OK so I guess it was two changes.

Anyhow, it turned out amazing. I wish I'd made it sooner. It is certainly delicious. You could probably sprinkle some truffle oil on top for a little extra mushroomyness if you so desire. We would make this again!


Wild Mushroom Pizza with Caramelized Onions, Fontina, and Rosemary
Author: Woodfire Grill, Atlanta, GA
Source: Bon Appetit/Epicurious

7 tablespoons butter, divided
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon grapeseed oil
3 onions, halved lengthwise, thinly sliced crosswise (about 6 cups)
2 pounds assorted wild mushrooms (such as crimini, oyster, chanterelle, and stemmed shiitake), cut into bite-size pieces
6 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons minced shallot (about 1 medium)
2 cups dry white wine
1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary
Pizza dough
Cornmeal (for dusting)
Garlic oil
3 cups grated Fontina cheese (about 10 ounces)

1. Melt 3 tablespoons butter with 2 tablespoons grapeseed oil in heavy large skillet over medium heat. Add onions and sauté until golden, about 45 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

2. Melt remaining 4 tablespoons butter with 1 teaspoon grapeseed oil in another heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms, garlic, and shallot. Sauté 4 minutes. Add wine and simmer until almost all liquid is absorbed, stirring frequently, about 13 minutes. Add rosemary; season with salt and pepper.

3. Position rack in bottom third of oven. Place heavy 17x11-inch baking sheet on rack (invert if rimmed). Preheat oven to 500°F at least 30 minutes before baking. Roll out 2 dough disks on lightly floured surface to 8-inch rounds, allowing dough to rest a few minutes if it springs back. Sprinkle another baking sheet (invert if rimmed) with cornmeal. Transfer 1 dough round to second baking sheet. Lightly brush dough with garlic oil. Sprinkle with 1/2 cup cheese. Scatter 2 1/2 tablespoons onions over cheese. Scatter 1/2 cup mushrooms over onions. Sprinkle with salt.

4. Position baking sheet with pizza at far edge of 1 side of hot baking sheet. Tilt sheet and pull back slowly, allowing pizza to slide onto hot sheet. Repeat with second dough disk, garlic oil, cheese, onions, mushrooms, and salt, and slide second pizza onto second half of hot baking sheet. Bake pizzas 6 minutes. Rotate pizzas half a turn. Bake until crust is deep brown, about 6 minutes longer. Using large spatula, carefully transfer pizzas to cutting board. Let rest 1 minute. Slice into wedges and serve. Repeat with remaining ingredients. add your own note

Yield: 6 8" pizzas

Recommended: Caramelize the onions and garlic the night before and refrigerate to get rid of excess grease.