Thursday, September 29, 2011

Indian-Spiced Lentils with Spinach and Rhubarb

Well, count this among one of the weirder recipes I've made (and I've made some weird things). I have tons of lentils so I wanted to use those up, and I kept seeing rhubarb at the markets... so I thought I'd try this out. With the raisins and rhubarb, there's a sweet fruity element. Then the spices are just enough to add some Indian flavor but not too much to actually count it as a curry. It really is just.... weird. It was good. I ate all of it. But I would never make it again. Didn't do it for me.

I also randomly made some Roasted Broccoli because I got some from the farm yesterday and decided I wanted to eat it today. It didn't really go with the lentils, but the rhubarb didn't either so whatever.

rhubarb

Indian-Spiced Lentils with Spinach and Rhubarb
Vegetarian Times, June 2011

Rhubarb’s fruity flavor complements the Indian spices, sweet raisins, and velvety spinach in this dish. For a more complete dinner, serve over a cooked whole grain, such as quinoa or brown rice.

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons yellow mustard seeds
2 1/2 teaspoons whole cumin seeds
3 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
3 cloves garlic, minced (1 tablespoon)
1 medium red onion, chopped (1 1/2 cups)
1/2 cup golden raisins
1 cup brown lentils, rinsed and drained
3 1/2 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
1/2 pound fresh rhubarb, cut into 1/4-inch slices, or 1/2 pound frozen sliced rhubarb, thawed
6 cups baby spinach leaves
1/2 cup chopped cilantro

1. Heat 1 Tbs. oil in nonstick skillet over medium-low heat. Add mustard and cumin seeds. Cover skillet, and cook 2 minutes, or until seeds begin to pop. Cook 1 to 2 minutes more, or until popping stops, shaking skillet often. Remove from heat, stir in ginger and garlic, and season with salt and pepper, if desired. Cover, and set aside.

2. Heat remaining 1 Tbs. oil in saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and raisins; sauté 10 minutes, or until onions begin to brown. Stir in lentils and 3 cups broth; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low; simmer 25 minutes. Stir in rhubarb and remaining 1/2 cup broth; cook 6 minutes. Add spinach, cover, and cook mixture 6 minutes more. Stir mixture to incorporate rhubarb and spinach leaves, then stir in spice mixture. Serve garnished with cilantro.

Servings: 6

Monday, September 26, 2011

Black Bean Chili with Butternut Squash

I guess I'm crazy, because I made chili only days after the chile pepper festival debacle. I did take it easy and didn't add the chipotle - just some chipotle powder. That's better, right? Right. I added a LOT of bulgur because I forgot how much it expands, and it was a pretty great mistake. It tasted a lot like this casserole. Make sure you put the toppings on it, because without the cheese and sour cream (and green onions, in my case) it wouldn't even be as good. I doubt I'll make this again because I've made so many things similar to it, but I'd consider it.

chili

Black Bean Chili with Butternut Squash
Bon Appetit, February 2011

In health-conscious California, chili is as likely to be made without meat as it is with it. No self-respecting Texan would sign off on chili with beans, squash, and bulgur—but this lean, mean dish is as delicious as it is healthful.

1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
2 onions -- chopped
8 garlic cloves -- chopped
2 1/2 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon ground coriander
29 ounces fire-roasted tomatoes
1 pound dried black beans -- rinsed
2 chipotle chiles from canned chipotle chiles in adobo -- minced
2 teaspoons dried oregano -- (preferably Mexican)
Coarse kosher salt
1 2 1/4-pound butternut squash -- peeled, seeded, cut into 1/2-inch cubes (about 3 cups)
1/2 cup quick-cooking bulgur
Sour cream
Coarsely grated hot pepper
Monterey jack cheese
Diced red onion chopped
Fresh cilantro
Pickled jalapeño rings

1. Heat oil in heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Add onions and cook until soft and beginning to brown, stirring often, about 8 minutes. Add garlic; stir 1 minute. Sprinkle chili powder and coriander over; stir 1 minute. Stir in tomatoes with juice, beans, chipotles, and oregano. Add 10 cups water. Bring to boil, reduce heat to low, cover with lid slightly ajar, and simmer until beans are tender, stirring occasionally, about 2 hours (time will vary depending on freshness of beans). Season to taste with coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper. DO AHEAD: Chili can be made up to 2 days ahead. Cool slightly. Refrigerate uncovered until cold, then cover and keep chilled. Rewarm chili before continuing.

2. Stir squash and bulgur into chili. Simmer uncovered over medium-low heat until squash and bulgur are tender, about 30 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Divide chili among bowls. Serve with sour cream, cheese, red onion, cilantro, and pickled jalapeño rings. add your own note

Servings: 10

Fettuccine with Spinach, Ricotta, and Grilled Eggplant

I'm in love. The ricotta cheese from Keepsake Dairy is just so wonderful, I can't even handle it. I wanted to make a recipe that showcased it (and hopefully will eventually make lemon ricotta muffins in the near future), and this also gave me the opportunity to use up the ginormous eggplant from the farm. I didn't cook it on the grill, just on my grill pan. This was pretty good. It could do with a little more seasoning - the red pepper really helped. And just as I hoped, the ricotta was wonderful with it.

I used a spinach pasta shaped like olive leaves because it was on sale at Wegmans and seemed appropriate to the dish, and I did not have fettuccine. Fair enough, right? Anyway, I don't think I would make this again, but I would eat it again.

pasta

Fettuccine with Spinach, Ricotta, and Grilled Eggplant
Real Simple, July 2011

2 small eggplants -- (1 1/2 pounds total) sliced lengthwise 1/2 inch thick
2 tablespoons olive oil -- plus more for serving
kosher salt and black pepper
16 ounces fresh fettuccine -- (16 to 18)
5 ounces baby spinach -- (6 cups)
2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
1 cup ricotta
crushed red pepper -- (optional)

1. Heat grill to medium. Brush the eggplant with the oil and season with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper. Grill until tender, 5 to 6 minutes per side. Transfer to a cutting board and cut into bite-size pieces.

2. Meanwhile, cook the fettuccine according to the package directions. Reserve 1/2 cup of the cooking water; drain the fettuccine and return it to the pot.

3. Add the eggplant, spinach, vinegar, 1/4 cup of the reserved cooking water, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper to the fettuccine and toss to combine. (Add more cooking water if the fettuccine seems dry.) Serve topped with the ricotta and, if desired, red pepper, and additional oil.

Servings: 4

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Chili Pepper Festival

Yesterday was the Easton Farmer's Market Chile Pepper Festival. As you know, I go to the farmers market every Saturday morning. I love it. AND I love chili peppers. I saw on Facebook that there would be a chili pepper eating contest, so I decided to sign up. Mostly because I am crazy. And I'm wicked competitive. And I love spicy food. And I'm crazy.

crowd

A lot of people came to watch! I guess there were 15 of us competing? Someone told me 25, but the event's Facebook photo album indicates that there were 15. Regardless, I came in 7th. Here was the format:

peppers

We had 7 peppers lined up in front of us from least hot to most hot. At the bullhorn, we had to all eat the first pepper, all the way to the stem. If you throw up, you lose. You can tap out at any time. And volunteers were there with milk and ice to help soothe those who dropped out.

crowd

The peppers we had to eat were, in order:
Banana pepper (500 Scoville units), hot banana pepper (5000-15,000 Scoville), Thai chili (50,000-100,000 Scoville), cayenne chili ("ring of fire") (30,000-50,000 Scoville), small lemon drop (30,000 Scoville), white habanero (300,000 Scoville), orange habanero (350,000 Scoville).

okay

getting worse

dying

I powered through all 7 of those. My face was red, my eyes were watering, my mouth and throat felt like I was on fire. There were still 7 of us left (according to observer reports - I was too delirious to count) and we moved on to the tie-breaker round: a LARGE lemon drop. So I ate that, and no joke- I started to hallucinate. I was seeing spots and everything was swirling around me and I was pretty sure I was dying. It reminded me of the Simpsons.



So I tapped out. They gave me three glasses of milk and I stopped seeing spots, but I felt sooooooooooooo awful. Oh my gosh. But I came in 7th!! It was a miracle! And let me tell you, I paid for it the whole rest of the day yesterday. And if I ever taste a lemon drop pepper again, I'm going to vomit. They are NOT GOOD.

death

But it was worth it because I had super a lot of fun. I wish I'd won, but there's just no way any of us could have beat this dude.

crowd

He's a pro who carries around ghost pepper powder (over 1 million Scoville) in his pocket to sprinkle at restaurants. Oh well. Good for him.

And that was my chili pepper adventure.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Garlic and Leek Ditalini

I didn't use ditalini. I'm a rebel. And I tweaked this recipe a lot. It was sent to me on recommendation by a friend, and I had a whole bunch of lovely leeks from the farmer's market last weekend. I did not, however, have ditalini - so I used tagliatelle. I did not have heavy cream so.... you'll love this: I used cream cheese. And I splashed in some white wine just for good measure. It was pretty good. It made an enjoyable dinner. I like some of our other pasta-leek recipes a little more, but this one was good. Thumbs up.

leeks

Garlic and Leek Ditalini
AllRecipes.com

"While the small tubular Ditalini pasta isn't usually eaten on its own, it works well here with a number of strong flavors and a creamy sauce."

8 ounces ditalini pasta
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup chopped leek
1 clove garlic -- minced
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 cup freshly grated Romano cheese
1 pinch black pepper -- (optional)

1. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente; drain.

2. Melt butter in a large skillet over low heat. Saute leeks and garlic until tender and translucent. Stir in cream, and simmer until thickened. Toss with pasta and cheese until evenly coated and cheese is melted. Season with pepper.

Servings: 4

Butternut Squash & Caramelized Onion Galette

Oh my gosh, I didn't realize I never posted about this. I don't even think I have a photo. I made this like last weekend. I cheated and used frozen pie dough. Don't think less of me. It was alright. I probably didn't have enough onions or enough cheese. I'd add more of them. It wasn't amazing but it was okay. I wouldn't make it again.

Butternut Squash and Caramelized Onion Galette
Smitten Kitchen

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
8 tbsp (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1/4 cup sour cream
2 tsp fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup ice water

1 small butternut squash (about 1 lb)
2 Tbsp olive oil
1-2 Tbsp butter
1 large onion, halved and thinly sliced in half-moons
1 tsp salt
1 pinch sugar
1/4 tsp cayenne, or to taste
3/4 cup fontina (about 2 1/2 oz), grated or cut into small bits
1 1/2 tsp chopped fresh sage leaves

1. Make pastry: In a bowl, combine the flour and salt. Place the butter in another bowl. Place both bowls in the freezer for 1 hour. Remove the bowls from the freezer and make a well in the center of the flour. Add the butter to the well and, using a pastry blender, cut it in until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Make another well in the center. In a small bowl, whisk together the sour cream, lemon juice and water and add half of this mixture to the well. With your fingertips, mix in the liquid until large lumps form. Remove the large lumps and repeat with the remaining liquid and flour-butter mixture. Pat the lumps into a ball; do not overwork the dough. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.

2. Prepare squash: Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Peel squash, then halve and scoop out seeds. Cut into a 1/2-inch dice. Toss pieces with olive oil and a half-teaspoon of the salt and roast on foil lined (for neatness sake) sheet for 30 minutes or until pieces are tender, turning it midway if your oven bakes unevenly. Set aside to cool slightly.

3. Caramelize onions: While squash is roasting, melt butter in a heavy skillet and cook onion over low heat with the remaining half-teaspoon of salt and pinch of sugar, stirring occasionally, until soft and lightly golden brown, about 20 minutes. Stir in cayenne.

4. Raise the oven temperature to 400 degrees. Mix squash, caramelized onions, cheese and herbs together in a bowl.

5. Assemble galette: On a floured work surface, roll the dough out into a 12-inch round. Transfer to an ungreased baking sheet. Spread squash, onions, cheese and herb mixture over the dough, leaving a 1 1/2-inch border. Fold the border over the squash, onion and cheese mixture, pleating the edge to make it fit. The center will be open.

6. Bake until golden brown, 30 to 40 minutes. Remove from the oven, let stand for 5 minutes, then slide the galette onto a serving plate. Cut into wedges and serve hot, warm or at room temperature.

Servings: 6

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Fall Is Here

For dinner tonight I made Autumn Wild Rice Rissoles, which I just love. They're seriously like little patties of Thanksgiving. They make me so happy.

I also have an enormous amount of acorn squash so I re-tried a recipe for Maple-Roasted Acorn Squash. We got this locally-made hickory syrup at the wine festival a few months ago and I thought it would be amazing in this recipe so I thought I'd try it out. I really had high expectations and even had the blog post planned out to talk about it. Turns out, the hickory flavor totally disappeared. It was just eh. Absolutely nothing special at all. Sad face.

Side note: It's so funny to look back at that post - I mean, shoot, that was 4 1/2 years ago - since I was still learning to cook. Mrs. Butterworths? Not in this house anymore! I'm way too much of a food snob now! Oh well. I'll embrace it. It also makes me want to re-try those cabbage bundles. Hmm.

Can I also tell you how much I love apple cider from Beechwood Orchards from the farmer's market? A lot. The answer is a lot. Did you know it mixes well with whiskey? It's a true statement.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Spice Market Sweet Potato & Lentil Packets

OK, so this is cool. Cut stuff up, wrap it up in foil, cook it. Makes a nice little spicy fall stew that is wonderful over couscous. I definitely added too much chutney to mine so if you choose to use that, go lightly! It became way too cloyingly sweet. But the whole thing itself was so good and wonderful! I used canned lentils to make it super-easy. Local sweet potatoes, red peppers, and garlic. I didn't use green beans. I was going to substitute broccoli but I found a caterpillar in my broccoli and it freaked me out (did it lay eggs?! Would I eat the eggs?!) so I changed my mind about the broccoli. The woes of buying locally.

So this was wonderful and I would definitely make it again. It was ridiculously easy with a super-fast cleanup. Hoorah!

More cell phone photos!
Here are the packets when they came out of the oven.
packet

This is what they look like when they're opened up.
packet

And this is what it looked like before it went into my tummy.
packet

Spice Market Sweet Potato and Lentil Packets
Vegetarian Times

Sweet potatoes and lentils get cooked in a curried broth inside packets for a lightly spicy dish. Serve with quinoa.

2 cups finely diced sweet potato
1 large red bell pepper, diced (1 1/2 cups)
1 cup fresh green beans, thinly sliced
1/4 cup golden raisins
2 tablespoons hot sesame oil
1 cup low-sodium vegetable broth
2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
2 cloves garlic, minced (2 teaspoons)
1 teaspoon curry powder
1 1/2 cups cooked lentils or 1 15-oz. can lentils, rinsed and drained
4 tablespoons prepared mango chutney, optional

1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Place 4 16-inch lengths of foil on work surface. Fold foil in half from short side. Unfold. Shape corners and edges of one half into semicircular "bowl" with 1/2-inch sides. Coat insides of foil with cooking spray.

2. Combine sweet potato, bell pepper, green beans, and raisins in medium bowl. Add oil, and toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper, if desired.

3. Whisk together broth, ginger, garlic, and curry powder in small bowl.

4. Divide sweet potato mixture among packets; top with 1/3 cup lentils. Pour 1/4 cup broth mixture over lentils, and season with salt and pepper, if desired. Fold other half of foil over ingredients, and crimp edges in overlapping folds until packets are sealed. Transfer packets to baking sheet. Bake 25 minutes.

5. Transfer to plates. Let each person open packet carefully—escaping air will be hot. Top with chutney, if using.

Servings: 4

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Chickpea, Apple, and Beet Panini

First of all, Friday I made Butter Paneer Masala. I could just eat that forever. It is so good.

This weekend at the farmer's market, I found some lovely golden beets and apples, and it reminded me I had this recipe. I picked up some bread and voila! Dinner. (I already had everything else.) I've made a lot of unique vegetarian sandwiches lately and this was definitely one of the most bizarre since it has like a zillion different flavors, but it was REALLY good! I would definitely make it again when I find pretty golden beets.

I'm going to miss the farmer's market so much when the season is over :(

Sorry, this is a cellphone photo.
sandwich

Chickpea, Beet, and Apple Panini
Vegetarian Times, July 2011

Never had raw beet in a sandwich? This panini will have you hooked.

1 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas -- or 1 15-oz. can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
3 tablespoons vegan mayonnaise (I DID NOT USE VEGAN)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon chopped fresh tarragon
8 slices sesame semolina bread (8 oz)
1 medium golden beet, peeled and sliced
1 Granny Smith apple, thinly sliced
1/4 cup broccoli or radish sprouts
4 tablespoons prepared black olive tapenade

1. Pulse chickpeas, mayonnaise, lemon juice, and tarragon in food processor until chunky.

2. Spread chickpea mixture on 4 bread slices. Top with beet and apple slices, and sprouts. Spread remaining 4 bread slices with tapenade; close sandwiches.

3. Coat skillet or grill pan with cooking spray, and heat over medium heat. Place panini in pan; weight with smaller-diameter saucepan weighted with 1 or 2 cans. Cook 2 minutes, remove weight, flip panini, replace weight, and cook 1 1/2 to 2 minutes more (or cook 4 minutes in panini maker).

Servings: 4

Monday, September 12, 2011

Apple-Blackberry Pie with "Fall Leaves" Pate Brisee

I've made pie crusts many times in the past, but this was the most ambitious one I have taken on. In fact, Miss Martha has this listed as being an "advanced" recipe, which totally pumped me up. I had some beautiful fruit from the farmer's market, including three different kinds of apples. And I had a little leaf-shaped cookie cutter. And thus I made this pie.

This is what it looked like after I had layered all the leaves in a pseudo-lattice top, but before I baked it:
pie

This is what it looked like when it came out of the oven:
pie

So what's the verdict? The verdict is that this is an amazing pie. Absolutely amazing. I am so happy with it. It tastes pretty wonderful the next day but it was fantastically amazing when it came out of the oven. Love love love, so much love. I would make this again. I would even go through the hassle of creating all of the leaves and getting frustrated with the pate brisee again (it wouldn't roll out, so I just smushed it with my hands - don't judge me). I would even consider this for Thanksgiving. It is a wonderful pie.

pie

Apple-Blackberry Pie with "Fall Leaves"
Martha Stewart Living, November 2009

An all-butter pate brisee is the pinnacle of pie-making, rewarding bakers with a golden and delicately tender crust. Filled with sweet, jammy blackberries and tart apples, and then topped with a forest of pastry leaves, the piecrust is an impressive accomplishment worthy of the season's most important meal. This is an advanced-level recipe.

1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 pounds assorted apples -- (such as Cortland, Empire, Granny Smith, Jonagold, and Macoun) peeled, cored, and cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices
10 ounces fresh or frozen blackberries -- (2 1/4 cups) thawed
"Fall Leaves" Pate Brisee (See Below)
1 ounce cold unsalted butter -- (2 tablespoons) cut into small pieces
1 large egg yolk -- lightly beaten with 1 tablespoon water, for egg wash
Sanding sugar -- for sprinkling

1. Whisk together granulated sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon, and salt in a large bowl. Add apples and blackberries, and toss to coat. Pour filling into prepared piecrust, and dot with butter.

2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees with rack in lowest position. Meanwhile, brush rim of piecrust with egg wash. Arrange dough leaves over filling, creating a spiral from the edge into the center, overlapping leaves slightly to cover pie but leaving some openings. Lightly brush tops of leaves with egg wash as you work, to help them adhere. Once filling is covered with leaves, lightly brush top of entire pie with egg wash. Sprinkle with sanding sugar. Freeze for 30 minutes.

3. Place pie on a parchment-lined rimmed baking sheet. Bake until crust is golden, about 20 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 degrees. Bake pie, rotating sheet halfway through, until juices are bubbling in the center and crust is golden brown, 1 hour and 45 minutes to 1 hour and 55 minutes more. Transfer to a wire rack, and let cool completely. (Pie can be stored at room temperature for up to 1 day.)

Yield: 1 pie


"Fall Leaves" Pate Brisee

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour -- plus more for surface
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
8 ounces cold unsalted butter -- (2 sticks) cut into small pieces
1/4 cup ice water -- (1/4 to 1/2)

1. Pulse flour, salt, and sugar in a food processor until combined. Add butter, and pulse until mixture resembles coarse crumbs with some larger pieces remaining, about 10 seconds.

2. Evenly drizzle 1/4 cup water over mixture. Pulse until mixture just begins to hold together (it should not be wet or sticky). If dough is too dry, add more water, 1 tablespoon at a time, and pulse. Divide dough in half. Place each half on a piece of plastic wrap, and wrap. Press dough into 2 disks using a rolling pin. Refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour or overnight. (Dough can be frozen for up to 1 month; thaw before using.)

3. Roll 1 disk of dough to 1/8-inch thickness on a floured surface. Fit dough into a 9-inch pie dish. Trim edge flush with rim. Freeze until firm, about 30 minutes.

4. Roll remaining disk to 1/8-inch thickness on a floured surface. Transfer to a piece of parchment. Cut out 18 leaves, rerolling scraps if needed, using 3 1/2-inch leaf-shaped cutters ( sugarcraft.com ). Transfer leaves to another piece of parchment; chill if needed. Gently press the dull edge of a paring knife into leaves to create veins. Freeze until firm, about 30 minutes.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Blueberry-Filled Pancakes

Since our basement flooded from the hurricane, I had to move all kinds of stuff around and out of our basement so we could WetVac the carpet and salvage our stuff. In the process, I came across my ebelskiver pan, which was being stored in one of the closets downstairs. Remembering how neat ebelskivers are, I planned to make some for dinner last week.

I bought some blueberries but they were not good by the time I got around to making the pancakes on Saturday night, so I had a brief moment of panic until I remembered I had frozen blueberries in the stand freezer downstairs. "Hoorah!" I said, and I used those instead. Ebelskivers are just so neat. I feel so fancy flipping them around. I'm awful awful awful at making regular pancakes, but these are so much easier (to me). That being said, I did burn a whole batch. HAHAHA. But most of them turned out really great. And they were very yummy, kind of like blueberry muffins. I love trying out the recipes for the filled pancakes. I would make these again.

ebelskivers

Blueberry-Filled Pancakes
Williams-Sonoma

Known as ebelskiver in Denmark, these light, fluffy pancakes filled with fresh blueberries make a delicious breakfast treat.

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 eggs -- separated
1 3/4 cups buttermilk
4 tablespoons unsalted butter -- (1/2 stick) melted
1 pint fresh blueberries
Confectioners' sugar for dusting
Maple syrup for serving

1. In a bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, granulated sugar and salt.

2. In a small bowl, lightly whisk together the egg yolks and buttermilk. Whisk the yolk mixture into the flour mixture until well combined; the batter will be lumpy.

3. In another bowl, using an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites on high speed until stiff but not dry peaks form, 2 to 3 minutes. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold the whites into the batter in two additions.

4. Put 1/2 tsp. butter in each well of a filled-pancake pan. Place over medium heat and heat until the butter begins to bubble. Pour 1 Tbs. batter into each well and cook until the bottoms are golden brown and crispy, 3 to 5 minutes. Put 5 or 6 blueberries in the center of each pancake and top with 1 Tbs. batter. Using 2 wooden skewers, flip the pancakes over and cook until golden and crispy, about 3 minutes more. Transfer to a plate. Repeat with the remaining batter and blueberries.

5. Dust the pancakes with confectioners' sugar and serve warm with maple syrup.

Makes about 40.

Creamed Spinach

Sometime last week (I know, I know, I'm still being terrible at being timely on my blogging) I made this creamed spinach to go along with some microwave fake 'pulled pork' sandwiches.

Super easy. Very, very yummy. The leeks and the cream cheese added a nice little boost to what is often just a flavorless mushy side dish. We both really liked this a lot. I would make it again.

spinach

Creamed Spinach
Cooking Light, November 2005

This lightened version of the popular steak house side dish still delivers full flavor.

1/2 cup fat-free milk
2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
Cooking spray
1 cup thinly sliced leek -- (about 1 large)
2 garlic cloves -- minced
10 ounces frozen chopped spinach -- thawed, drained, and squeezed dry
1/4 cup 1/3-less-fat cream cheese -- (2 ounces)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1. Combine milk and flour, stirring well with a whisk; set aside.

2. Heat a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add leek and garlic; sauté 2 minutes or until tender. Add spinach, and sauté 1 minute. Stir in milk mixture; cook 1 1/2 minutes or until slightly thick, stirring occasionally. Stir in cheese, salt, and pepper, stirring until smooth; cook 1 minute.

Servings: 4

Monday, September 05, 2011

Pasta & Squash with Tomatoes, Basil, and Pine Nuts

Tonight I made a super-old favorite, Pasta & Squash with Tomatoes, Basil, and Pine Nuts. Local ingredients: zucchini, squash, cherry tomatoes, basil, and garlic. Hoorah!

Sunday, September 04, 2011

Monkey Bars

This recipe was super-highly rated on the Cooking Light website, and it sounded delicious so I decided to make some. It's true that they do taste kind of like banana bread, but not as dense. And the raisins are yummy. Haha. I used some golden raisins because that's what I had, and some rum extract because I couldn't get to the liquor store (a shame). I should have cooked it a little longer because the middle was still a little mushy when I took it out, but that's ok. I would make this again! And with real rum next time!

monkeys

Monkey Bars
Cooking Light, October 2001

1/2 cup raisins
1 1/2 tablespoons dark rum or apple juice
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup butter -- softened
1/2 cup mashed ripe banana
3 tablespoons low-fat buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large egg whites
1/3 cup chopped walnuts
Cooking spray
1 tablespoon powdered sugar

1. Preheat oven to 350°.

2. Combine the raisins and rum in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave at high for 1 minute, and set aside. Lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife. Combine flour and the next 3 ingredients (flour through salt) in a bowl, stirring well with a whisk. Set aside.

3. Combine brown sugar and butter in a large bowl, and beat with a mixer at medium speed until well blended. Add banana and next 3 ingredients (banana through egg whites), beating well. Add the flour mixture, beating just until combined. Stir in raisin mixture and walnuts.

4. Spread the batter into an 8-inch square baking pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350° for 30 minutes or until golden. Cool the bars completely on a wire rack. Sprinkle with powdered sugar.

Servings: 16

Chickpea and Leek Soup

Do you know how much I love Jamie Oliver? I really do. He's one of my favorite celebrity chefs. I love that he uses fresh, simple ingredients to make delicious, healthy food. He uses full-fat cream and olive oil and butter and phyllo and whatever he wants, but it's still super healthy just because it's not overly processed with preservatives or milked of all of its vitamins. And portion sizes! He loves portion sizes! And therefore, I love him.

I've really been making stuff with produce mostly from the farmer's market and our CSA - not as much from the grocery store, finally. This soup has a bunch of local food in it too - potatoes, leeks, garlic. Love love love. I used canned chickpeas because I'm lazy. I know, I know.

So this was simple and quick. I served it with some thick whole-grain bread from The Flour Shop in Bethlehem. I am a fan. I thought it was delicious. Like I said, it was super-simple. The bread is delicious. I might make this again to freeze or for lunches.

chickpea

Chickpea and Leek Soup
"The Naked Chef" by Jamie Oliver, p.21

"This is a recipe that my Aussie friend Bender found in some old recipe book. It is quick and easy to make and it tastes fantastic. The chickpeas go really creamy and the leeks go silky and sweet. These are just two simple flavors, and even though I'm a bit of a fresh herbs boy, this lovely light soup is very tasty."

12 ounces chickpeas, soaked overnight
1 medium potato, peeled
5 medium leeks
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
2 cloves of garlic, finely sliced
Salt and pepper
3 cups chicken or vegetable stock
Parmesan cheese, grated
Extra-virgin olive oil

Rinse the soaked chickpeas, cover with water, and cook with the potato until tender. Remove the outer skin of the leeks, slice lengthwise from the root up, wash carefully, and slice finely.

Warm a thick-bottomed pan, and add the oil and the butter. Add the leeks and garlic to the pan, and cook gently with a good pinch of salt until tender and sweet. Add the drained chickpeas and potato and cook for 1 minute. Add about two-thirds of the stock and simmer for 15 minutes.

Now decide if you want to puree the soup in some sort of processor, or leave it chunky and brothy, or do what I do which is puree half and leave the other half whole- this gives a lovely smooth comforting feel but also keeps a bit of texture. Now add enough of the remaining stock to achieve the consistency you like. Check for seasoning, and add Parmesan to taste to round off the flavors.

This is classy enough for a starter, but I like it best for lunch in a big bowl, with a good drizzle of my best peppery extra-virgin olive oil, a grinding of black pepper, and an extra sprinkling of Parmesan.

Servings: 6

Grilled Corn & Potato Chowder

Oh! First I want to tell you that I made Grilled Eggplant Sandwiches with Red Onion and Aioli Saturday night, a favorite that we hadn't had in quite awhile. Delicious! I missed it. On to Sunday's dinner:

So. Our go-to corn & potato chowder is definitely THIS ONE, but I thought we'd try a new one just because it's grilled and doesn't have the poblanos. I really like grilled corn and potatoes, so it was a nice change. I don't think I would make it again because we're so addicted to the other one, but this was definitely a nice summer soup. Yum!

soup

Grilled Corn and Potato Chowder
Cooking Light, September 2009

1 pound small red potatoes -- quartered
1 tablespoon salt -- divided
3 tablespoons softened butter -- divided
4 ears shucked corn
Cooking spray
3/4 cup finely chopped onion
1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper
3 cups 2% reduced-fat milk
1/2 cup half-and-half
2 thyme sprigs
3 tablespoons finely chopped chives
1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1. Preheat grill to medium-high heat.

2. Place a grill basket on grill.

3. Place potatoes and 2 teaspoons salt in a saucepan; cover with water. Bring to a boil; cook 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Let potatoes stand in hot water 5 minutes. Drain; cut into 1/4-inch cubes.

4. Melt 1 tablespoon butter; brush evenly over corn. Place corn on grill rack coated with cooking spray. Place potatoes in grill basket coated with cooking spray. Grill corn and potatoes 15 minutes or until slightly charred, turning occasionally. Cool corn slightly; cut kernels from cobs. Place 1 cup corn kernels in a food processor; process until smooth.

5. Melt remaining 2 tablespoons butter in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion; sauté 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add remaining 1 teaspoon salt and red pepper; cook for 30 seconds, stirring frequently. Stir in potatoes, remaining corn kernels, pureed corn, milk, half-and-half, and thyme sprigs; bring to a simmer. Reduce heat; simmer 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Discard thyme sprigs. Stir in chives and remaining ingredients.

Servings: 6

Friday, September 02, 2011

Broccoli & Pasta Casseroles

I had high hopes for this since it sounds delicious, and we had a whole big bunch of beautiful fresh broccoli from the farm. And fresh ricotta from the dairy farm. The ricotta was so good, by the way. OK but. The whole thing was just meh. Pretty bland, even though I added garlic. I like my mom's broccoli parmesan casserole a lot better. I would not make this again.

broccoli

Broccoli and Pasta Casseroles
Whole Living // Martha Stewart, February 2010

Using whole-wheat pasta and breadcrumbs boosts the fiber content of this crowd-pleaser and gives it an appealing nuttiness. Fat-free milk, part-skim ricotta, and a touch of sharp Parmesan lighten the casserole without sacrificing the taste or texture.

2 slices whole-wheat bread -- (1 ounce)
1 head broccoli -- (1 pound) cut into florets, stems peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
8 ounces whole-wheat fusilli pasta
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion -- (5 ounces) (about 1 cup) finely chopped
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground mustard
4 cups skim milk
1/4 cup part-skim ricotta cheese -- pureed
2 ounces grated Parmesan cheese -- (1 cup)
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Process bread in a food processor until fine crumbs form. Transfer to a rimmed baking sheet. Toast for 8 minutes.

2. Cook broccoli in a large pot of boiling water until slightly tender, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a bowl using a slotted spoon, reserving water in pot. Add pasta to water, and cook until al dente, about 8 minutes. Drain.

3. Add oil and onion to clean pot over medium heat. Saute, stirring occasionally, until onion is translucent, about 7 minutes. Add flour and ground mustard. Cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute. Whisk in the milk in a slow, steady stream. Bring to a boil. Cook, whisking, for 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Add cheeses and 1 teaspoon salt. Season with pepper.

4. Stir in broccoli and pasta. Transfer to six 1 1/2-cup ramekins or an 8 1/2-by-11-inch baking dish; top with breadcrumbs. Bake until bubbling and tops are browned, 25 to 30 minutes.

Servings: 6