Sunday, February 27, 2011

the muffin chronicles, part XVIII

I made up 2 recipes this month-- sometimes I'm an overachiever. Here's the second:

Cardamom Pear Muffins

2 cups whole wheat flour
2/3 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons ground cardamom
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup applesauce
2 eggs
1 cup buttermilk (or 1 cup milk plus 1 tablespoon lemon juice)
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups chopped pears (about 4 medium)

Preheat oven to 350. Spray muffin tins and/or bread pans with nonstick cooking spray. I made 12 muffins and 1 mini loaf.

Sift together flour, brown sugar, baking soda, baking powder, cardamom, cinnamon, and salt.

Whisk together applesauce, eggs, buttermilk, and vanilla.

Make a well in the dry ingredients. Add wet ingredients and stir gently to combine. Fold in pears.

Spoon batter into prepared pans. Bake 20-25 minutes, until muffins spring back when touched and a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool on wire racks.
I got the inspiration for these muffins from a dessert in The Food Matters Cookbook that involves pears and cardamom. I love cardamom, so I used my ginger peach muffin recipe as a base and went to town.

The batter tasted amazing, as most batter does to me, and the baking muffins made my house smell incredible.
I loved these. The pear and cardamom are really great together, and EDW has enjoyed taking a muff to work each day. We both give them an A- or B+. I'm not sure what I could do to improve them, but I know there's got to be something. I might try them with slightly less cardamom and some nuts to change up the texture, but really, they are pretty great as is.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

curried sweet potato hash

I've decided that for part of my resolution, I am going to choose an ingredient or two and explore it for a whole quarter. What that means is next month's made up recipe will also include sweet potatoes and curry. Then for April, May and June, I'll choose another theme and play with that. We'll see how it goes.

In case you missed it, January's recipe was for curried sweet potato soup with black eyed peas and kale. Here's the original recipe and then the revisited, not smooth version. This month I made curried sweet potato hash. Here it is:

Curried Sweet Potato Hash
serves 4-6

1 cup dried lentils, rinsed and picked over
1 cup brown rice
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 1/2 teaspoons green curry powder (phuket)
1 1/2 teaspoons mild curry powder
2 teaspoons minced ginger
1 LB sweet potatoes, peeled and grated
1/2 cup golden raisins
1/2 cup vegetable broth
salt and pepper to taste
5 ounces baby spinach
cilantro for garnish

Cook your lentils, according to taste, until done. Cook your brown rice. Chill both.

Saute onion in olive oil over medium heat, until lightly browned and soft. Add garlic, curry powders, and ginger, and cook 1 minute, stirring constantly.

Add sweet potatoes and cook until softened, about 10 minutes.

Add rice, lentils, golden raisins, and vegetable broth, and cook until heated through. Stir in spinach and cook until wilted. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve, garnished with cilantro.
This is basically a stir-fry with Indian flavors, and we loved it. My pan was almost too small, so there were some issues with stirring everything in and not flinging it over the sides, but other than that it came together really easily.

I did cook my rice and lentils earlier in the day, mostly because Mark Bittman says stir-fries go better if you use cold rice. It doesn't clump together the way just cooked rice does when you stir it into your pan. Since I was cooking my rice earlier in the day, I figured I'd go ahead and do the lentils.
I really love a lot about this recipe: it's a one pot meal, it has sweet potatoes, and it has curry. I would have liked it a little spicier, but it was just right for Edwin. If you like things spicy, try using all green curry powder or use some hot curry powder as well.
We both give this a B+. Leftovers were delicious.

Friday, February 25, 2011

garlicky kale, tomatoes and pasta

The other night I made whole grain pasta with garlicky kale and tomatoes. I used closer to a tablespoon of garlic, because I love it and you can't call a recipe garlicky and only include 2 cloves. I also used parmesan for the cheese, because I didn't have romano. Other than that, I followed the recipe pretty closely.

I sauteed my onion and garlic, and then I added in the kale. I poured in a little of the cooking water from the pasta to help the kale steam and shrink a little faster, and then I added my tomatoes. It was all very quick, which is nice on a weeknight.
I added the veggies to my pasta pot. The recipe calls for 6 ounces of spaghetti, but all I had in the pantry was some leftover fancy buckwheat pasta from a gourmet grocery store. It was absolutely not 6 ounces, but Edwin and I liked it as it was. It was almost like a warm salad, with the satisfying crunch of the almonds to keep things interesting.
We really liked our bowls. Since I used less pasta than was called for, I figured we should up our nightly ice cream in take to balance everything out. It was a good call.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

banana ice cream

I've been thinking about this recipe since I stumbled upon a version on Tasty Kitchen 6 months ago. It's not even a recipe, but a method to creating a fantastic dessert. It's vegan banana ice cream.

Don't judge. Don't leave. Read on.

Sometimes I buy too many bananas. I get confused about how many we go through in 4 days (it's 8) and buy a lot. It happened last week. Emily and Nat also brought bananas with them because they had 3 that were going to go bad by the time they got back to Chapel Hill. Saturday morning found us with a lot of bananas that needed to be eaten pretty quickly. We all did our part at breakfast, and then I decided to take a risk and plan for dessert. You need to do this too.

1. Freeze some bananas:
Slice them into coins first. Very ripe, just about to go bad bananas are best.
2. Put the frozen bananas in the food processor and let it run.
It'll turn into crumbs first. Then you'll see a hard ball. Then you'll think that it'll never ever work. Let a minute or so go by, and the ball will start to spread out, and it'll turn creamy. It will look just like ice cream. Serve, or try some additions.
Since we're not vegan, I added peanut butter, graham crackers, and chocolate chips. I pulsed the ingredients in at the end.
It's not technically ice cream, because there's absolutely no cream or milk, but it tastes like banana ice cream. It's creamy. Cold. Bananay. Revolutionary. You could eat it any time of day and not feel bad, since it's just bananas.
I want to know what else I can do with bananas. Anyone have ideas? If you can make them into ice cream, surely you can make them into other things as well?

Make this. You'll be so glad, I promise.

If you're the one who makes it, you get to be the one to lick the bowl of the food processor at the end. Thanks, EDW, for snapping these photes. I'd like to say it's an uncommon occurrence, but I pretty much always lick bowls at the end of meals. I tried to get my face in the bowl, but it didn't work. Those photes aren't going public.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

meat for sesame

Emily and Nat are expecting a baby girl in May, and although they haven't decided on a name yet (I really think they should be leaning towards Sarah Margaret), they call the baby Sesame. It's adorable. They're adorable. Baby Sesame-Sarah-Margaret will be adorable.
I asked Emily if she'd been having any strong cravings during her pregnancy, and she told me that Sesame really likes dairy and meat. So we had 3 servings of ice cream in 24 hours (dinner, lunch, dinner) and I made a pork roast Saturday night.
I made the chipotle-marinated pork tenderloin with black bean salsa I've made before, and the sweet potato hash from February's Real Simple. I added cumin and chipotle pepper flakes to the hash and served it with pureed chipotle peppers on the side. (I was the only one who needed the extra spice, per usual.) The pork was good, but I really think my tastes have changed. I just didn't need the meat to enjoy my meal, but I'm glad I had it for Sesame. Plus Edwin said it was amazing, so I feel like a good wife by providing him with animal protein. I loved loved loved the sweet potato hash, and it has inspired my next original recipe (coming soon!).
Dinner was good, but the weekend visit was better. .Stay tuned for another post about a revolutionary dessert. It involves bananas and my food processor. You're going to like it

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

parmesan leek quiche

Our pals Emily and Nat came to visit this weekend, making them the first of our friends to have visited all three of our post-UNC abodes. We love when the Kings come-- they bring their cute dogs and we always eat a lot of ice cream.

Since I had to work Friday, I made a parmesan leek quiche ahead of time for dinner. I used the basic formula for the pesto quiche, because I'm officially obsessed with the oatmeal crust.

I sauteed 3 leeks (which were thinly sliced) in some olive oil until they were almost caramelized. Then I stirred in some salt and pepper, along with a good sprinkling of chopped basil and parsley. I added that mixture to my pre-baked crust and topped it with shredded parmesan. Then I poured the eggs over it all and baked until it was done.
Friday night I reheated it in the oven and served it with a salad. It reheated well (let it come to room temperature, then heat at 350 for about 30 minutes) and tasted fantastic. I loved the leeks. I'm not sure if I prefer the pesto or the leeks-- both are so delicious and satisfying. I think the Kings liked the leeks, too, and I know EDW was happy. Then we went for TCBY. It was lovely.

Friday, February 18, 2011

beans and brussels spouts

My friend Ashley and I like to email each other daily and discuss Mark Bittman recipes that catch our eye. We also like to ponder our love of brussels sprouts, spin classes at the gym (well, I love--Ash is getting used to them), and jeggings. This week I have taken a fashion risk, gone to my morning spin classes, and made a Mark Bittman brussels sprouts recipe. I'm easily influenced. Ash made the pesto quiche for Valentine's Day, so maybe she's easily influenced as well.

Wednesday night I made beans with brussels sprouts, although the recipe is techinically called Gigantes with Brussels Sprouts.* I've never seen a gigante bean, though admittedly I didn't really search in my grocery store. Apparently they are huge, since Mr. Bittman says in the note: "And how many beans can you eat with a knife and fork?" He also says the following: "The varied textures and rustic flavors of this dish make it a real winner." He's absolutely right.

I sauteed a pound of brussels sprouts and then added in some garlic. Then I added cooked pinto beans (one of the recommended substitutions for gigantes. Other possibilities are large limas, cranberry, or kidney beans), along with vegetable broth, and let them heat up. While they were cooking, I decided I wanted grains in my pot as well, so I added some cooked whole wheat cous cous at the end.
I sprinkled each serving with chopped roasted almonds and little bit of sage, and we were ready to eat.

Two things you need to know about beans and brussels sprouts:

1. It's fast! Super fast! Faster than I thought it'd be, since I'm bad at math and didn't look at the top of the recipe where it said it'd take 20 minutes with cooked beans.
2. It's delicious!
EDW and I couldn't get over the textures and flavors of this dish. I know it seems strange, but there's something revolutionary about the taste of brussels sprouts, beans, and nuts all mixed together. I think the cous cous made it especially nice, but I imagine it'd be great without grains as well. We tried it with a little sriracha (it's becoming an obsession in Chez Arnaudin), and that was sublime. We both had seconds. I'll make this again. And again.

Bittman, Mark. How to Cook Everything Vegetarian. "Gigantes with Brussels Sprouts." p. 587-88.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

chunky vegetable lentil soup

It's actually starting to feel like spring might come to Asheville, but I'm pretty much a year-round soup lover, so I made chunky vegetable-lentil soup Tuesday night. Some of the reviews mentioned that the soup was a little on the bland side, so I made some adjustments.

I sauteed all my veggies in olive oil, instead of just the onion and garlic, before adding the lentils, mushrooms, and broth. I also used more like a tablespoon of garlic, because that's how I roll. Instead of 14 ounces of vegetable broth, I used 4 cups broth and 2 cups water. I used 8 ounces white mushrooms, quartered, and 8 ounces sliced baby bellas. I added in my salt and pepper, as well as a generous shake of cayenne pepper. I let the soup simmer while I got the rest of dinner ready.
I was going to serve this with pumpernickel bread and a salad, but my salad greens were all slimy (and they were new! such a bummer) so we went with just the toast. Good thing Edwin and I eat a vegetable heavy diet or I'd have to be concerned about our fiber content at dinner.
This soup was tasty. I didn't have any cabbage, so I skipped that topping. EDW especially liked the mushrooms, and it was nice to have the varying textures floating around. I think I love any lentil soup, so it's hard for me to say how I rank this. I'd say I'll make it again, but I try so many soups it's hard to make that a firm promise.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

spicy fried rice with bean sprouts

Edwin and I went out for sushi for Valentine's Day, but I made a special dinner for us Sunday night. I made spicy fried rice with bean sprouts, chicken, and peanuts,* except I used tofu instead of chicken.

Stir-fries totally intimidate me, but I'm getting better with practice. I get that they're great because they're so fast, but they're also scary because they're so fast. You have to get everything absolutely ready before you even heat your pan or there's no way it'll be successful. I'm marking my improvement by the fact that I could take process photes this go round.

I started by cooking green onions, mung bean sprouts, and carrots in a little oil. I removed those to a bowl and cooked my tofu, which I had pressed for about an hour. After I removed that from the pan I quickly sauteed my garlic and added in cooked rice. Then I made a well and cracked in an egg. I scrambled the egg a bit, incorporated it into my rice, and added the veggies and tofu back to the pan. Then I stirred in some coconut milk and fish sauce. I took the pan off the heat, stirred in some jalapeños, basil, and chopped peanuts. I served the stir-fry with lime wedges, additional jalapeños, and sriracha sauce. It all took about 10 minutes.
Okay this stir-fry? It's amazing. It has the typical pad Thai ingredients (fish sauce, bean sprouts, and peanuts) without the associated greasy noodles. (EDW actually loves pad Thai, but I don't normally like it because of the slimy noodles). I definitely needed more jalapeños and sriracha, because it wasn't spicy enough for me. Edwin added some sriracha sauce, but he didn't want more peppers. So if you're afraid it might be too spicy as is, don't be.
This reheated well for Valentine's Day lunch, and I'll absolutely make it again.
Bittman, Mark. The Food Matters Cookbook. "Spicy Fried Rice with Bean Sprouts, Chicken, and Peanuts." p. 322-3.

Monday, February 14, 2011

what's not to love?

I love love. I love food. Valentine's Day baked goods are naturally one of my favorite.things.ever. If you've been with me a while, you'll remember that I've adopted my cousin Laura's Valentine's Day tradition of making oatmeal cookie hearts.

This year, I decided to try using some almond flour in the recipe. My almond flour bag promised me moister, more delicious cookies if I substituted up to half the amount of regular flour with almond flour. So I did. Instead of 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour, I used 1 cup almond flour and 1 1/2 cups all purpose.

And they were scrumptious.

These oatmeal cookie hearts are so so special. You can make them year-round, if you like, and make other shapes. Or you can celebrate love all the time and stick with the hearts.
Instead of making little cookie cakes like I normally do, I made individually iced hearts. I sprinkled half the hearts with coconut and left the rest plain. EDW and I are 100% convinced that the cookies are better with the coconut, but not everyone likes coconut. (How do people not love coconut? And onions? And garlic? And brussels sprouts? I just don't understand. I won't judge them today, though, because I want to be all about love. I hope you still love me even though I hate mayonnaise and hard boiled eggs.)
I sent some cookies to my in-laws and to Edwin's coworkers, and I took some in to my work, too.

I also made graham cracker toffee. When I made it in August, I thought it'd be wonderful to try the recipe with semi-sweet chocolate chips instead of the pecans. So I did. And wow. I couldn't pack these up fast enough. Little squares of butter-laden graham crackers kept finding their way to my mouth. Heaven.
I hope you have a happy Valentine's day. Even if you don't have a sweetheart, I know somebody loves you. Be your best self and share a cookie with the people you love today. Do it every day, actually. And send me one? xoxo

Sunday, February 13, 2011

rice pilaf with apricots, chickpeas, and almonds

Friday night I made rice pilaf with apricots, chickpeas, and almonds,* which I have in my cookbook but is available to you HERE. I'm a sucker for any recipe that calls for smoked paprika, because every time I use it I'm reminded that I live in a town where I can actually find smoked paprika. I used to hoard my special spices-- not anymore!

I sauteed my onion and garlic, then stirred in the smoked paprika, salt, and pepper. I added brown rice (I just used regular brown rice, not basmati), and then stirred in fresh orange juice, wine, and water. I let it simmer a while, called my aunt, and chatted with EDW. Then I stirred in cooked chickpeas, chopped apricots (I upped the amount to a whole bag-- 6 ounces-- per the recipe's note online), and parsley. I stirred in toasted almonds and couldn't get the bowls to the table fast enough.
I did have to add a bit of water to my pot during the cooktime, because the liquid was evaporating faster than my rice was cooking. In all honesty, I pulled the pot off the stove too soon-- our rice was very al dente. But I was hungry, and I'd already scarfed down my spinach salad while leaning against the sink, and I just couldn't wait any longer.

Edwin and I really enjoyed this. The flavors are amazing, and we both agree this dish would be phenomenal if the rice was fully cooked. Even still, it was tasty for dinner and made great leftovers. When we reheated the pilaf, we had it over a bed of spinach, and that way was delicious. I'll make this again when I'm not so starving and have a bit more time. Bittman, Mark. The Food Matters Cookbook. "Rice Pilaf with Apricots, Chickpeas, and Almonds." p. 295-6.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

pesto quiche

I love quiche, and I was excited to find this recipe for pesto quiche with oatmeal crust. Mostly I was pumped about the crust recipe, because it involves two of my favorite things: oats and my food processor. When I saved the recipe, I figured I'd just use it for the crust recipe and make my own filling. It just so happened on Tuesday that I had almost every ingredient Ashley calls for, so I went with it.

I made my crust in the food processor, but I needed to add an extra tablespoon of almond milk to get it to form a ball. (Sidenote: you could totally use regular milk, but I love almond milk in my morning oatmeal so I always have it on hand). I rolled out the crust and baked it for a bit. I decided not to sautee my vegetables. I know it brings out their flavors, but I wanted them to maintain a bit of bite after baking, so I just chopped them and added them straight in. I also used cheddar cheese instead of swiss.
We loved this. The veggies stayed slightly firm, which played well with the fluffy eggs and crispy crust. My favorite thing about the crust is how thin it is. You still get a nice bit of crust flavor, but the filling really gets to shine on its own. EDW commented that sometimes the pillsbury crust overpowers the quiche filling, so he loved it this way. I think I'll use this crust recipe for pot pies as well. It's a winner.