Saturday, December 22, 2007

holiday cookies

Hi! Remember me? I haven't been posting much, but I've definately been kinds of cookiies, to be precise. I feel like Martha Stewart or something.

Molasses crinkles, cantuccini, x cookies (my favorite!!), cornmeal-cherry cookies, peanut butter cookies, chocolate chip cookies, chocolate blocks (dark chocolate, cashews, apricots, and cranberries), and chocolate-dipped coconut macaroons.

Whew! (I've linked the the recipes I adapted from)

I think the tins looked really pretty.

See? This stuff is xxx, people!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Pumpkin-Black Bean-Chipotle Soup

Ok, so it's not much of a looker, but this soup was good. Really good. If-I-ever-wrote-a-cookbook-this-would-be-in-there kind of good. You should try it!

I saw this post over at smitten kitchen, which made me want to try a pumpkin soup other than the coconut milk and red curry one I usually make. Deb describes her soup as "big, beefy, and bold", with toothsome chunks of ham. Well, obviously my soup isn't beefy or ham-filled, but I think it has a similar feel, though it tastes very different than the recipe that inspired it! It's thick and hearty and packed with flavour-- in this case, chipotle and cilantro, two of my very favourite flavours. I left some of the beans whole to give it a bit more texture.

I hope you'll give this recipe a try!

Pumpkin-Black Bean-Chipotle Soup (serves 4)

4 1/2 cups black beans (about three 15 1/2 ounce cans), rinsed and drained
1 15 1/2 ounce can whole tomatoes, fire roasted if you have them
1 tbsp olive oil
1 1/2 cups chopped onion
2 garlic cloves minced
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tsp good chili powder
2 chipotle chiles in adobo, minced, with 2 tbsp of the adobo sauce
1 teaspoon salt
freshly ground black pepper
4 cups vegetable broth
16-ounce can pumpkin pureé (about 1 1/2 cups)
3 to 4 tablespoons Sherry vinegar
1/2 cup of chopped cilantro, plus more for garnish

Coarsly pureé 3 1/2 cups of the beans and the tomatoes tomatoes.

In a large, heavy-bottomed pot heat the olive oil over moderate heat. Add the onion, garlic, cumin, chili powder, and salt, and cook, stirring, until onion is softened and beginning to brown. Add the chipotle and adobo sauce and cook for another minute. Stir in the bean pureé. Stir in broth, and pumpkin until combined and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, 25 minutes, or until thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.

Just before serving, add the rest of the beans and vinegar and simmer soup, stirring, until heated through. Season soup with salt and freshly ground pepper. Add the chopped cilantro.

Serve soup garnished with cilantro sprigs.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Pumpkin challah

Hi everyone. Happy December. I didn't mean to disappear for such a long much for nablopomo. Oh well. At least I can say that I posted more in November than in any other month! Anyway, last week I was really busy writing a paper about metaphysics in German. It was really hard-- re-writing it in German was almost as hard as writing it in the first place-- which was kind of discouraging. Though to be fair, I don't use metaphysical German in my daily conversations.

Anyway, on to better things: pumpkin. I'm still working on using it up! I only have 3/4 cup or so left, which I think I'll eat for dinner. Thank you for your suggestions. I made pumpkin waffles, a really, really amazingly yummy pumpkin-black bean-chipotle soup (I'm definately posting the recipe for that) and this....pumpkin challah!

I'm so pleased with this bread. Pumpkin challah is a Sephardic challah, which I'd never made before. It's really good. It has the same texture as normal challah, but with a hint pumpkin-spice flavour. But it's not too sweet or overpoweringly spicy-- I had some today with baba ghanoush, for example, and it tasted great.

When I make challah, I always, always make a 6-strand braid. First of all, it looks much prettier than a 3-strand braid in my opinion, and it's really fun to braid. It also makes a higher loaf than a 3-strand braid does, which I like. I hope you won't be intimidated, and will try to make a 6-strand loaf, too! It's really easy. I know thoughts of having 6-strands tangled in front of you can seem dizzying, but there are only 4 steps, so it's not that hard. Just look at this diagram, print it out and have it in front of you, and you'll be all set. If you google, you can find lots and lots of videos on how to braid 6-strand challahs, too.

Anyway, the recipe. It's adapted from Maggie Glazer's A Blessing of Bread: The Many Rich Traditions of Jewish Bread Baking from Around the World.

Pumpkin Challah (makes 1 large loaf)

2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
1/2 tsp ground ginger
3 1/2 cups flour
2/3 cup warm water
3/4 cup pumpkin puree
1/4 cup raw sugar
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup soy yoghurt

Mix the yeast in the warm water along with the spices and 2/3 cup of the flour. Let the mixture stand for 10-20 minutes. Whisk the sugar, salt, oil, yoghurt, and pumpkin in a large mixing bowl. Add the yeast sponge. Stir in about 2 cups of the remaining flour, then start incorporating the rest with your hands. You might need a bit more or a bit less. The dough should be soft but not too sticky. Knead for 10 minutes. Dough should be smooth. Place the dough in a clean, oiled bowl, cover, and let it rise in a warm place until it has tripled (2-3 hours).

Punch the dough down. On a lightly floured surface, cut it into 6 equal balls of dough. Roll each one into a rope about 3/4'' in diameter. Try to make the ends of the ropes taper. Braid into a 6-strand braid-- see link above. Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet, and rise until at least doubled in size, about an hour.

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Brush the loaves with soymilk, and bake then for 40-45 minutes, until they are deep golden brown and hollow when tapped on the bottom. Take them out of the oven and brush them again halfway during baking.


Tuesday, November 27, 2007


I was planning on making a pumpkin streusel cake for Thanksgiving, but then I ran out of time. Now I have lots and lots of roasted pumpkin to use up. (You can't buy pumpkin puree here.)

I've already make pumpkin muffins, pumpkin bread, and tonight I'm making a pumpkin-black bean-chipotle soup for dinner. I can't wait. But I still have half the pumpkin left!! Please please please leave me a comment with your favorite recipes using up lots of pumpkin!

The pumpkin bread, though. So good. I used Celine's recipe. I followed it almost exactly-- the only changes I made were decreasing the sugar to 2 tbsp and I using oil instead of margarine. This bread is great. It's a gorgeous shade of yellow, subtly pumpkin-flavored, and good with both sweet and savory spreads.

(I hate my oven, though. Actually, I don't have a proper oven, just an oversized toaster oven that heats only from the top. See how the top of the loaf is nice and risen, and the bottom is dense and un-risen? I suspect this is due to said oven, because this never happened when I made bread in a proper oven. It still tastes good, but it's annoying.)

Is this already old news?

Hi. Have you all recovered from Thanksgiving craziness?

My Thanksgiving wasn't really a "real" Thanksgiving, but the food was pretty good nonetheless. I ended up making (you can assume I made appropriate substitutions if needed):

(Tasty. But brown.)

Radicchio salad with grilled pears (inspired by Sunday Suppers at Lucques)
Tart, spicy cherry chutney
Herbed cranberry-sourdough stuffing
Mashed potatoes with caramelized onion gravy
Apple pie

It was pretty good.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving to those of you that celebrate it! I hope you're all having wonderful, food-and-fun filled days. Don't stress out about the food-- it will be delicious even if it isn't exactly like you might have planed. I can't wait to read your blogs and see what you've made.

Today isn't a holiday here, of course, so I'll be celebrating Thanksgiving on Saturday. (That means that I'll get to peek at your menus beforehand, and make last minute changes to mine if the inspiration strikes! Right now my big dillema is, David Lebovitz's amazing, most requested ginger cake, or Lucque's pumpkin streusel cake. Hmmm.)

There are so many things I am thankful for...not the least of which is the very dilema I just mentioned. I know I sometimes forget what a priviledge it is to have the luxury of ample food and, indeed, so many choices I don't know what to make!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

waffling around

Posting every day for the entire month of November?? What was I thinking? For the last few days I've been eating but not really cooking, and no one wants to hear about endless pieces of bread with hummus or strange salads composed of things I found lurking in the back of the vegetable drawer.

Today, though, I was walking home from class and thinking about breakfast (I have class every day at 8:15 am, and I don't like eating beforehand) and I realized I hadn't told you about my favorite waffles. Since, of course, I need a picture of the waffles, this was a perfect excuse to make and eat said waffles.

Will you believe it when I tell you that, until a month ago, I'd never made waffles and eaten them probably three times in my life? I don't have a waffle maker at home, or funds or space to obtain one, but one of my roomate here does. A few weeks ago my other roomate asked me to make waffles, which, of course, I gladly agreed to. Lolo to the rescue! I made these, minus the blueberries, and my roomates kept gushing on and on about them and wouldn't believe me when I said they didn't have eggs or milk.

Since then I've been making waffles about once a week, and I'm using a variation of lolo's recipe-- it's basically the same, just healthified a bit. I think I'll experiment with pumpkin waffles next!

My favorite way to eat these is with a sprinkle of sugar and a squeeze of lemon juice.

Waffles (makes approx. 6-- serves 2)

1 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 Tbsp sugar
7 Tbsp soy yoghurt, any flavour (I use plain)
2/3 cup soy milk
2 tbsp water
1 tbsp oil

Begin preheating your waffle iron. Combine the dry ingredients in a small mixing bowl. Whisk the wet ingredients together, then fold them into the dry ingredients, using as few strokes as possible. Grease your waffle iron, and then waffle away!

If you want to make these ahead of time, cook them until they're slightly less brown then you'd like, then freeze them. Reheat them in a toaster for a quick and delicious breakfast.

Sunday, November 18, 2007


I love Thanksgiving. I think it's probably one of my favorite holidays. It's not as stressful as Christmas, and I love Thanksgiving food. pie. Yum! I know that a turkey is usually the star of the Thanksgiving table, and obviously I wish people wouldn't be eating turkey, but I know most people don't share my opinion and I don't expect people to ditch the turkey just because I of me. I just take more of the yummy side dishes.

Anyway, I've been planning my Thanksgiving menu for far to long. Thanksgiving isn't a holiday in Germany, of course, so it will just be me and one or two friends. And we'll be eating on Sunday, not Thursday, but oh well.

This is what I think I'll make:

Green salad with balsamic vinaigrette and dried cranberries OR beets with roasted chickpeas and a dijon vinaigrette

Roasted garlic mashed potatoes
Stuffed mushrooms
Roasted, balsamic-glazed Brussles sprouts with apples and onions
Cherry relish (can't get cranberries here)
Caramelized onion gravy

Pumpkin Streusel Cake from Sunday Suppers at Lucques
Apple pie, if I can be bothered

Ok, so I need your opinions: which salad do you think I should make? And, I know this is enough food, but do you think it will be "satisfying" since there really isn't a main dish? Let me know! And tell me what you're making for Thanksgiving!

Mrs. Badmouth's Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls...

...are really, really, really good. Do yourself a favour and go make them now! I follwed the recipe exactly, except for the glaze: I mixed tofu cream cheese with pumpkin butter and used that instead of a powdered sugar glaze.

(Excuse the bad was dark by the time I finished these.)

Friday, November 16, 2007


Sometimes I really think that professors assign homework for their own amusement. (Bazu, is this true?) For example, in one of my classes today the teacher was giving out the homework assignments. Then he paused, smirked, and said, "And your last assignment is to write a fax to the Wailing Wall, i.e. to G-d" (in Hebrew). Then, when the whole class said, "oh no" all at once he just sort of laughed. How do teachers even think of these things? I guess it's more fun to correct than grammar exercises.


I'm always discovering wonderful new (at least new to me) blogs, and I thought I'd share some of my newest favorites tonight. Check them out if you haven't already. I hope you'll find some new favourites of your own, too! What are your favorite blogs?

Arabic Bites -- a wonderful blog about Arabic/Middle Eastern food, by sisters who live in the Arabic Gulf

My Mom's Recipes and More -- tasty home cooking, all the way from Israel!

Smitten Kitchen -- where to even start? All beautiful, all delicious, all the time. Really. Incredible.

Vegan Visitor -- this is the most beautiful vegan blog I've ever seen. I'm surprised it isn't more well-known, because it totally deserves to be!

Shutterbean -- just too cute. And delicious and crafty, too. Plus, she loves Trader Joe's as much as I do!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

simple apple yogurt cake

I've never been the kind of person who had to polish off a bag of chips all at once, or who couldn't stop until they'd eaten the whole batch of cookies, but this cake was really, really hard for me to stop eating. It's so simple and so good, and you probably already have everything in your pantry, so it's perfect for cake-necessitating emergencies. Because I know you have these kinds of emergencies all the time, right?

This is a lightly spiced apple cake-- really, the apples are the star-- that was inspired by this post at La Tartine Gourmande.

Simplest Apple Yogurt Cake

1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground ginger
3/4 cups sugar
2/3 cups plain soy yogurt
1/3 cup oil
2 tbsp apple sauce
1/4 cup apple juice
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and thinly sliced
2 tbsp raisins
1 tbsp boiling water
1 tbsp rum

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Grease an 8" or 9" springform pan. Put the raisins in a small bowl, and add the boiling water and rum

Mix the dry ingredients together in a mixing bowl. In another bowl mix the wet ingredients. Add the we ingredients to the dry and fold with a rubber spatula, until they are almost mixed, about 3 strokes. Add the apples and fold a few times to distribute the apples evenly.

Spread the thick, apple-filled batter in the prepared pan. Sprinkle the soaked raisins on the top of the cake, and bake for 40 minutes, or until a tooth pick comes out without clumps of raw batter on it.


Tuesday, November 13, 2007

snack time

Snack time! Aren't these apple slices beautiful? To be honest, apples and peanut butter isn't one of my favorite snacks-- I far prefer salty to sweet-- but it's fast and, at the moment, mostly-seasonal.

What are your favorite snacks? Leave me a comment and let me know!

Monday, November 12, 2007

Chocolate Bread

Finally, a real recipe! This is one I highly recommend. It tastes a lot better than the photos look, really, I promise.

I've been having the biggest craving for chocolate bread for quite a while. And not just any chocolate bread. Specifically, a yeasted, not-too-sweet chocolate bread with a tender, fine crumb and a very dark-chocolate taste. I'm not really sure why, because I don't think I'd ever had a bread like this before. But, you know, cravings are your body's way of telling you what it needs (ha!), and they are not to be ignored. Especially not when they are for delicious things like chocolate. So chocolate bread it would be.

Of course I couldn't find a recipe for the bread I wanted. I did find one that looked somewhat close, a recipe for Balthazar's chocolate bread. So my recipe is a very loose interpretation of their recipe.

And it was really, really good.

This is a slow rise bread, which gives it a really great, almost brioche-like texture. But please don't let that scare you! It really isn't any more difficult than an ordinary bread. I promise.

Oh, and if the mention of "chocolate" wasn't enough to convince you...this tasted really, really chocolatey, and as far as chocolate goes, it was actually pretty innocent calorie-wise. And you can let it rise in the fridge over night, and just pop in in the oven when you wake up in the morning. Thirty minutes later you'll be enjoying a piece of warm, tender chocolate bread, studded with little pockets of melted chocolate. Yum.

Ok, enough with this restaurant-menu description stuff. Get cooking!

(Oh, and it really is important to use good quality chocolate, and for the chocolate to be chopped, not in chip form! )

Chocolate Bread

1/2 cup + 1 tbsp flour
1/2 cup lukewarm water
1/8th tsp yeast

Mix all ingredients and let them sit at room temperature for 6 hours. The mixture should be bubbly and have expanded somewhat.

the starter
approx. 2 cups flour
1/2 cup cocoa
6 tbsp sugar
1 1/2 tsp yeast
1 1/4 tsp salt
scant 1 cup lukewarm water
2 tbsp margerine, cut into small pieces
4 oz. 70% chocolate, chopped
optional: 1/2 cup dried cranberries or diced dried apricots
turbinado sugar for sprinkling on top of the bread

Dissolve the yeast in the water. Put the starter and all dry ingredients through salt in a large mixing bowl. Add the yeast water and begin to knead, either in the bowl if it's large enough or on a board lightly dusted with flour. Sprinkle on the margarine pieces, and knead them in. Knead for 10 minutes. Just before the dough is done, sprinkle on the chocolate chunks (and dried fruit, if using) and knead them into the dough.

Cover the dough with a cloth or plastic wrap and let rise for until doubled in size, about 3 hours.

Now shape the bread. Line a baking sheet with parchement. Gently punch down the dough and cut it into 8 pieces. Shape each piece into a smooth, round roll. Place the rolls into the pan. It's fine if they are touching a bit.

You could also bake this as a boule, or you could bake it in two small, greased loaf pans.

At this point you can either let the dough rise for 2 hours at room temperature, or you can cover it and let it rise in the fridge over night. Just let it sit out at room temperature while the oven preheats the next morning if you do that.

Preheat the oven to 375 F. Brush the dough with soy milk and and sprinkle with turbinado sugar. Reduce oven to 350 degrees. Bake until the bread has a slightly hollow sound when you tap tops with your finger, 40-45 minutes. Turn the bread out of the pan, and put it on a wire rack; let cool completely. Wrap tightly in plastic and store up to 3 days or freeze up to 1 month

Saturday, November 10, 2007


Isn't brunch a wonderful invention? Sure, I know, it was probably invented for commerical reasons, but still. It's so nice that for two days of the week other people finally understand that it's ok to eat "not-breakfast" foods for breakfast! Or that it's ok to have your eggs (in this case, scrambled tofu) at 3pm if that's the way you roll. Every coupe of weeks New York Magazine does 21 question interviews with interesting/semi-famous New Yorkers, and one of the questions is "Brunch: pro or con?". I just don't get the con-sayers.

Anyway, this is what I had for brunch today: home fries, guacamole, mushrooms, tomotoes, and rolls. Not pictured are the waffles and the chocolate cranberry bread (though I think that last one might be making an appearance here tomorrow...just sayin'.)


I hadn't had home fries in forever, and they really hit the spot this morning. And isn't home fries a great word? Home fries. It has such a nice sound. (But what's the difference between home fries and oven fries? Two minutes of googling seemed to reveal that home fries are often not fry shaped and sometimes cooking in a skillet, while oven fries are usually baked. But home fries sounds so much better, so these are definately home fries.)

I'm sure you wanted to read all of that.

Spicy Herbed Home Fries

3 large potatoes
2 tsp olive oil
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp hungarian paprika
1/4 tsp cayenne
1/2 tsp dried thyme

Preheat the oven to 400 F. Peel the potatoes and cut them into 1/4'' slabs. Cut each slab vertically into 1/4'' slices, so that the potatoes end up looking like, you know, fries. Mix the potato with the remaining ingredients, and spread them in a single layer on a foil-lined cookie sheet. Bake for 30 minutes, or until cooked and crispy.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Simple Couscous Salad

I made this salad for lunch a couple of days ago. It was simple, fresh, and healthy. It's not fancy, but it really hit the spot. I could also see this making a really good appetizer in those endive leaf "boats".

Mediterranean Couscous Salad (serves 2)

1 cup couscous
1 1/2 cups vegetable broth
1 cucumber, sliced
2 tomatoes, diced
1/3 cup kalamata olives, pitted and halved
4 green onions, trimmed and thinly sliced
2 roasted red peppers, sliced
1 spicy chili, sliced (optional)
1/2 cup "protein" (e.g. leftover marinated tofu), if desired
sea salt and pepper
lemon juice
olive oil

Bring the vegetable broth to a boil. Add the couscous, cover, and turn the heat down to low. Simmer for 2 minutes. Remove from heat and let the pot sit, covered, for 5 minutes. Uncover, fluff the couscous with a fork, turn into a bowl and let cool.

Meanwhile, prepare the vegetables-- trim them and slice them into bite sized pieces. When the couscous has cooled, add the vegetables and salt and pepper to taste (start with 1/2 tsp salt). Juice lemons into the salad and add some olive oil to form a dressing. I'm sorry I can't be more specific, but it really depends on how juicy and sour your lemons are. I would say you could start with the juice of 1 1/2 lemons and 1 tbsp of olive oil, and adjust to your personal taste from there.


Thursday, November 8, 2007

boring. ignore.

I think I was a little bit crazy to sign up for this NabloPoMo veganmofo thing.

I am sick and tomorrow I have a test.

I hope I'll be back with something more interesting soon!

The End.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Petits pains à l’ail et au persil

When I was younger and people would invite my family over for dinner, it felt like we always had the same thing to eat: spaghetti with marinara sauce (from a jar), green salad with Italian dressing (from a bottle), and garlic bread (with garlic powder and Kraft parmesan cheese). Now, of course it was lovely to be invited over to dinner, and of course we're very lucky to have food at all, so I'm really not complaining about that, but....well, you catch my drift. We've all experienced foods we're not so fond of, right?

Anyway, maybe because of this, I don't make garlic bread very often. I love bread and I like garlic, so this is the only explanation I can thing of.

Now, forget about this horrible excuse for garlic bread. Imagine a tender, homemade white bread, spread with a butter flavored with fresh herbs and garlic. Imagine that the bread is folded around this butter to create flaky, flavorful layers. Now we're talking.

I've been eyeing this recipe for a while, and today I ran out of bread and had all the ingredients to make this garlic bread. And boy am I glad that I did! You should make this right now, it's that good. Thanks, Fanny! (By the way, check out her website...Fanny aspires to be a pastry chef, and you can tell that she's well on her way by the wonderful creations she produces!)

I hardly changed the recipe, but I'll post it here with grams converted into cups since most American kitchens don't have a scale.

Small Garlic and Parsley Breads (makes 4 petite, individually-sized breads)

1 1/4 tsp dry yeast or 7 g fresh yeast
1 cup warm water
pinch sugar
2 3/4 cups flour
1 tsp salt
herbed "butter" (below)

Mix the yeast with the water and the sugar, and let it sit for a few minutes. The top should be foamy. Whisk the flour and salt together in a mixing bowl. Add the yeast mixture and knead for 10 minutes, until you have a smooth, firm dough. Cover with a cloth and let rise for 1.5 hours. When the dough has risen, gently deflate it and divide it into 4 portions. Proceed with rolling and folding as outlined here.

Preheat the oven to 400 F. Let the breads rise for 45 minutes, then bake for about 25 minutes, until golden brown.

Herbed Butter

1 bunch parsley, minced (or a mix of herbs)
6 cloves garlic, minced
4 tbsp margerine, softened

Mix all ingredients together.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Turkish Dolmas

Well, I was going to post about something really yummy that I made today...but that will have to wait until tomorrow because it deserves a photo in natural light. Sorry! But I was looking through some old pictures, and I can't believe I never showed you these really tasty Turkish dolmas I made in July. They were filled with a spiced rice-currant-pine nut filling, just like at the Turkish restaurant where I used to work.

Ok, boring post, I know. I'll be back tomorrow, though!

Monday, November 5, 2007

radish stirfry

All appearances to the contrary, I didn't have brown and magenta sludge for dinner, really, I didn't!
What do you make for dinner when basically all you have in your fridge is a huge bunch of radishes and scallions? Radish and scallion stirfry! I never would have thought of stirfrying radishes-- or cooking them at all, actually-- but then last spring I was at the Union Square Greenmarket, and someone was passing out samples of radish stirfry. It was pretty good-- but I like my version, which I topped topped with a tangy, citrus-y peanut sauce. The soy sauce that I have here is very, very brown and syrup-y, and sadly it makes everything I put it in quite brown. But this is really a good recipe, I promise!!

Peanut sauce isn't exactly the best thing for you, but it's really quick and flavourful, and it can't hurt that much if you only have it once in a while, can it? And it keeps in the fridge for a couple days, and it's great with rice noodles or tofu for a quick supper. Yum!

Peanut Sauce

1/4 cup natural peanut butter
1/4 cup water, vegetable broth, or coconut milk
1 tbsp soy sauce
juice of half a lime
1 clove of garlic, smashed
1 thai chili, minced, or less, if you don't like spicy foods
grated ginger, to taste
1 1/2 tsp brown sugar

Blend all ingredients together until smooth.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Banana-Coconut Bread

I've been wanting banana bread for a long time. I don't really know why-- normally I don't even like bananas, but banana bread has been sounding really good. So I bought bananas last week, and they were finally ripe enough for bread today. Then, of course, I had to decide on a recipe. There are thousands of recipes for banana bread out there! I ended up settling for one from a cookbook by my absolute favourite cookbook authors, Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid. I know I've written about them before, but really, all of their cookbooks are amazing! They don't focus on a specific country, but rather flavours: home baking, flatbreads, rice... Most of the recipes are from Asia, though, and the books are part cookbook, part travel guide, and part beautiful photography. I've liked every recipe I've ever made from one of ther books.

Anyway, banana-coconut bread it was. With a hint of rum and a crackly demerara sugar crust. Yum.

Banana-Coconut Bread (makes 1 loaf)
adapted from HomeBaking: the Artful Mix of Flour and Traditions from Around the World

3 large, over-ripe bananas
2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
3/4 tsp baking soda
pinch of salt
4 ounces margerine, at room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
1/8 tsp vinegar (I used apple cider)
2 tbsp dark rum
1/2 cup unsweetened coconut
demerara or other coarse, raw sugar for sprinkling on top

Pre-heat the oven to 350 F. and butter a loaf pan. Whisk the flour, spices, baking soda, and salt together in a small bowl. In a medium bowl, cream the "butter" and sugar for several minutes. Add the rum and vinegar and mix for another minute. Starting with the banana mixture, add the banana and flour mixtures alternately, about a cup at a time. Do not over mix. When the last cup of flour is barely incorporated, use a spatula to fold the coconut in using several swift strokes. Scrape the thick batter into the prepared pan, smooth the top, and sprinkle the top generously and evenly with the demerara sugar.

Bake for 50-65 minutes, until the top is golden and a tooth pick comes out cleanly. A 9x5 loaf pan will take less time to bake than an 8x4 pan.


Saturday, November 3, 2007

veganmofo: CHEWY Double-Chocolate Cookies

Every day for a the month of November I'm going to write a post a day about something related to food as part of the Vegan Month of Food project. Ok, I'm starting 3 days late, but do we really have to talk about that?

Anyway, for my first post I give you chewy double-chocolate cookies. These were really chewey, really chocolatey, and really, really good. I'm not going to tell you how many I ate tonight. Ok, four. And two at breakfast. But we don't have to talk about that either, do we?

The recipe is from Orangette. I made the obvious substitutions: margerine for butter and plain soy yogurt for the dairy yogurt. And I used 1/2 a cup of white sugar instead of 2/3rds, but otherwise I followed the recipe exactly.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Festive Fall Salads, part 1

On Sunday the clocks went back an hour in Europe. I like fall, but I'm still getting used to darkness at 5pm. I never eat before 7pm, so I guess I'll just have to accept the fact that I'm going to have horrible, blurry, unnaturally lit food photos until March. Oh well.

Anyway, what I really wanted to talk about was salads.

Just because it's fall doesn't mean you have to give up interesting salads until spring rolls around. No. Fall salads are just as fun and flavourful as summer salads. And no, I'm not talking about cabbage and potato salads! There are so many wonderful fall fruits and vegetables that are just begging to be put into salads....apples, pears, cranberries, squash, chicory, pomegranates, citrus....

Anyway, for dinner tonight I had a tasty and colourful salad of mache, pears, and chickpeas with a pomegranate-green olive dressing. Yummy. I used mache because it's ridiculously cheap in Germany, but red leaf lettuce works beautifully too.

This combination of vegetables also works really well with dried cranberries and a balsamic vinaigrette.

I don't believe in measuring vegetables for salads, so I'll just give you approximations, because you should be experimenting with festive fall salads, too!

Mache, Pear and Chickpea Salad with Pomegranate-Green Olive Dressing

Mache - several large handfuls per person
Chickpeas - about 1 cup cooked chickpeas per person
Green olives with pimento - 10-12 olives per person
Pear - one small pear per person
Red onion
Other vegetables as desired - I used cucumber because I had to use some up
Pomegranate Dressing (recipe follows)

First things first: wash and dry the mache. Peel, core, and slice the pear. Slice the olives, red onion, and other vegetables, if using. In a large bowl toss the mache (only!) with most of the dressing. Put the dressed salad on dinner plates. Spread the chickpeas over the middle of the salad. Arrange the other ingredients on top, and drizzle with the remaining dressing. Enjoy!

Pomegranate-Green Olive Dressing

pomegranate molasses - about 2 tbsp
juice from the green olives - about 3 tbsp
water - about 2 tbsp
olive oil - about 2 tbsp

Mix all ingredients, adjusting to taste. You could also use unsweetened pomegranate juice instead of the pomegranate molasses and water.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Weekend Eats

Well, some of them.

Cherry-Apple-Cardamom Roll

Mache Salad with Pink Grapefruit, Avocado, and Red Onion. So good!!

BBQ Pomegranate Tofu from Vegan With a Vengeance

Thursday, October 18, 2007

It's Apple Pie Season!

One of the nicest things about autumn (besides colorful leaves and hot apple cider and all that stuff) is that suddenly you WANT to turn on your oven and start baking again. And apples are cheap (well, in Germany they aren't, but that's another story) and pies are fun, pie.

This pie crust is easy and really, really good. Flaky. Earth Balance softens much faster than dairy butter, so if you use EB you really have to keep it cold. Cut it up first and put it in the freezer until you need it. I'm not kidding.

I like my apple pies to taste like apples, so I used a lot less sugar than most recipes. Feel free to increase if you like, but I have a feeling that if you use really flavorful apples you won't need to. I used a mix of granny smith and jonagolds. But you can use whatever you like-- just not red delicious, please!

For a really excellent tutorial (with pictures) on how to roll out pie crusts, please click here.

Apple Pie (makes 1 9" pie)

2 cups flour
2/3 cup Earth Balance, cut into small cubes, and very very cold (I think I used 1/2 cup and it was still great)
pinch of salt
up to 1/2 cup ice water
1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar

Mix the flour with the salt. Working quickly, cut the butter into the flour mixture until it looks like coarse cornmeal with some larger chunks of butter still left. Make a well in the center of the mixture and add the vinegar and some of the water. Swiftly mix the water into the flour (I use a fork and then my hands) until it is just moistened. You don't want a gloopy dough-- some crumbly bits are quite ok. Divide the dough into two parts. Flatten each one into a disk, wrap in plastic, and chill for at least an hour.

When you are ready to proceed, turn your oven on to 400 F, and prepare the filling:

7 baking apples
1/4 cup brown/turbinado sugar
3 tbsp corn starch
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp cloves
1/4 tsp ground ginger

Soymilk and more turbinado sugar for brushing the pie

Core, peel and slice the apples into 1/4" slices. Combine with the remaining ingredients.

Roll one of the dough disks into a circle large enough to fit the bottom of the pie pan. Place the dough in the bottom of the pan. Don't add the filling yet. Roll the second disk into another circle. Now you can add the filling. Place the second dough circle on top of the pie, and crimp the crusts together. Cut a few artistic slashes in the top of the pie, then brush with the soymilk and sprinkle with the sugar.

Bake for 60 - 70 minutes. You'll probably need to cover the crust with foil to prevent it from getting too brown at some point, so keep an eye on your pie. Let cool before serving.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Pale Green Avocado on Triangular Bread

German bread really is amazing. Now I need a triangular loaf pan, too.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Hello Again

Hello from Germany again! Italy was wonderful-- warm, sunny, blue skies, terracotta roofs, lots of olives, tomatoes, basil, pasta. My favourite food highlight of the trip was a really, really incredibly delicious pasta puttanesca. But there was a grapefruit sorbet that was really good too... Oh, and I got to see how Italians make pesto, and crostini and bruschetta, and gnocchi, and a sort of vegetable-bread soup. All of this was very tasty, too.

Needless to say, I took hundreds of photos. I'll post a few here once I sort through all of them.

But for tonight I'll just post a part of my super-simple dinner from tonight. I don't really have a recipe, but if I did it would go something like this: take 6 or so nectarines (never mind if they're slightly tired looking from sitting in the fridge for a week), and slice them. Heat a bit of "butter" in a frying pan, and add a little raw sugar and a pinch of salt. Let the sugar melt into the butter for a minute. Toss in the nectarines and sautee for a few minutes. Done!

Monday, October 1, 2007

Heirloom Tomato Tart with Capers, Olives, and Caramelized Onions

This is another recipe from my new favorite cookbook, Sunday Suppers at Lucques: Seasonal Recipes from Market to Table. It's SO GOOD; really one of the best things I've made in a long time. The original recipe called for anchovies, but I just added a few more capers and everything worked out fine.

Also, I, um, didn't have puff pastry on hand (and I couldn't go out and buy any because German stores are all closed on Sunday), so I whipped up a simple pizza dough with 1 1/2 cups flour. I'm partial to rectangular tarts, but of course you can make a round tart if you really want.

I also forgot to buy arugula, so I didn't make the salad that Suzanne Goin suggests. I made a balsamic reduction instead. (Boil balsamic vinegar until it is reduced by half, but not more, or else it will taste burnt.) But arugula salad would go really, really well, so make that to go with this!

Unfortunately it was night by the time I finished this, so the pictures are blurry and dark. Oh well.

Tomato Tart with Capers, Olives, and Caramelized Onions (makes 2-3 main dish servings or 6 appetizer portions)

1 tbsp olive oil
6 cups thinly sliced onions (6 onions)
1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves (or add 1 tsp dry)
1 sheet frozen puff pastry
soymilk for brushing said pastry
3 medium heirloom tomatoes, mixed colors
4 tsp capers
1/4 cups Nicoise olives, pitted and cut in half
basil leaves for garnish

Heat the oil in a large saute pan over high heat. Add the onions, thyme, 1 tsp salt, and some pepper. Cook 10 minutes, stirring often. Turn the head down to medium and cook for 15 more minutes, stirring often and scraping the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon, until the onions are a deep golden brown. Let cook completely before you made the tart, so they don't melt the pastry.

Preheat the oven to 400 F.

Place the defrosted puff pastry on a parchment lines baking sheet. Use a paring knife to score an 1/4 inch thick border around the edge of the pastry. Brush the border with soymilk, and spread the carmelized onions evenly within the border.

Core the tomatoes. Hold each tomato on its side and slice it into 1/4 inch thick round slices. Place the tomato slices, just touching but not overlapping, on top of the caramelized onions. If necessary, cut some of the slices in half so they fit, placing the cut side of the slices flush with the border. Season the tomatoes with salt a a few grindings of black pepper.

Arrange the olives and capers over the tomatoes and onions.

Bake the tart 10 minutes. Turn the sheet pan, and bake another 10 to 12 minutes, until the crust is deep golden brown.

Garnish with the basil leaves to serve.

Monday Morning

Leftover apple pie makes it a lot better. So does knowing that you're going to Italy (Tuscany) for a week tomorrow. Three cheers for cheap European airlines-- you can't beat 40 EUR round trip, taxes included. Stay tuned for the VV Tuscany edition!

Friday, September 28, 2007

Aubergine Raita

Last night I had vindaloo curry for dinner. I wanted to make a raita to go with it, so I did a quick search for raita recipes just to check the proportions. I was planning on making a cucumber raita, but my search resulted in several recipes for eggplant raita. And boy am I glad they did! The eggplant raita that I ended up making was good. Really good. As in
"I'll-make-this-for-dinner-again-tonight" good. It's very cool and creamy and flavourful, kind of like an Indian baba ghanoush.

As always with eggplant, make sure that the oil is really, really hot before you put the eggplant in. Otherwise it will absorb quite a lot of oil, making this dish not very healthy.

Also-- salting the eggplant is optional. I think it does make eggplant less bitter, but I know not everyone agrees with me on this account. So do as you see fit.

Don't use too much garam masala-- you really only want just a hint of it.

Eggplant Raita

1 medium eggplant
2 cups plain, unsweetened soy yoghurt
1 tsp sugar, preferably unrefined
3/4 tsp salt, or to taste
1/4 - 1/2 tsp garam masala
olive oil
1 tsp black mustard seeds
1 red chili, chopped
Cilantro leaves, for garnish

Slice the eggplant into 1/4" slices. Generously sprinkle both sides of the slices with salt, and let sit for half an hour. When this time is up, rinse the slices and press the water out.

Meanwhile, combine the yoghurt, sugar, salt, and garam masala in a bowl. Heat the oil-- enough to coat the bottom of the pan-- in a skillet over medium-high heat. When the oil is really, truly hot place the eggplant slices in the pan. Let them cook until they are golden, approximately 3
minutes, then flip and let the other side brown. Remove them from the pan and let them drain on a mesh rack or paper towels. Let them cool slightly.

Now make the tempering mixture. Pour out the excess oil, leaving about 1 tsp in the bottom of the pan. Put the mustard seeds in the pan and cover. When the seeds have stopped popping, add the chili and briefly saute until the chili is slightly softened, about 1 minutes. Remove from the heat.

Mix the eggplant with the yoghurt. Smooth the surface, then sprinkle the tempering mixture on top. Garnish with the coriander. Let chill before serving.