Saturday, December 26, 2009

Peach Oat Bran Scones

My friend Jen used to always make these super healthy scones full of exotic flours and bran, so when I had oat bran left over from these, I decided to see what I could do.

I found this recipe for apple scones, and saved it at a time when I had apples on hand. When I got around to making it, I only had a peach, so I used that instead. Here’s what I did:


1 ½ c all-purpose flour

1 ½ c. whole wheat flour

1 c Oat or wheat-bran flaked

4 ts Baking powder

1 ts Ground cinnamon

1/2 ts Salt

1/4 c Milkpeach

1/4 c Vegetable oil

1/4 c sugar

1 lg Egg

1 t. vanilla

1 peach


1. Heat oven to 425F. Grease large baking sheet. In large bowl, combine flour, oat bran, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt.

2. In medium-size bowl, beat together milk, oil, sugar, egg, and vanilla. Add to dry ingredients; mix lightly with fork until mixture clings together and forms a soft dough. Add peaches, and carefully mix to incorporate into the dough.

3. Form dough into a ball, and press into a disk, about an inch and a half thick. Cut into 8 triangles (I only got six, but my measurements were probably off due to the Argentine estimation system), and separate so the individual pieces are not touching.


4. Place scones, 1 inch apart, on greased baking sheet. Pierce tops with tines of fork. Brush tops with melted butter and sprinkle with additional cinnamon, if desired.

5. Bake scones 15 to 18 minutes or until golden brown. Serve warm.

Comments: These are quite healthy and granola-y t asting. They remind me of bran muffins more than anything else, so the peach helps with the dryness. And they weren’t too dry. I might make these again, but I’m not running to the dietetica for more oats at the moment. These are better (though obviously not as nutritous).


Friday, December 25, 2009

Simple Greek Style Green Beans

Green beans are very seasonal here. They show up for a couple months, the conventional ones are pricy (the broader style are more affordable), and then they’re gone until the next spring. I usually make them using this Sweet and Spicy Green Beans recipe, but decided to try something different, from Captious Vegetarian.

This is what I did:

In a skillet saute:

· 2 tsp. olive oil

· 1/2 onion, diced

· 1/4 tsp. dried chili flakes

· 3 garlic cloves, minced

When the onions are 014soft, add:

· 1 lb fresh green beans

· 1/2 tsp. dry oregano

Finally, while the green beans are cooking, add:

· 1/2 cup tomato sauce

· 10-20 kalamata olives, chopped

Stir and heat through, then serve.

Optional: sprinkle with a little crumbled feta.

Comments: Upon a closer look, this is essentially green beans in spaghetti sauce. And that’s basically what it tasted like. Not bad, but not very exciting either. (I didn’t use feta, as it’s hard to find/expensive. I thought about adding parmesan, but decided not to.)016

Savory Bread Pudding

Apparently I’ve gotten over my cream anxiety. This is a Craigslist classic that I’ve had filed away for a while now. And for good reason, it’s as excellent as the fat count would lead you to believe. I halved the recipe, and it made about 4 servings. All measurements are approximate.

6 cups of brioche or sweet baguette (crust removed) cut into 1 inch cubes. Make sure that the bread is either a couple of days old or dry it out in a 200 degree oven for 1 hour or so.
2 cups of heavy cream
1 cup of milk
leeks2 eggs
1 1/2 cup of diced leeks (white and light green only)
1 1/2 lb of mushrooms (if you are in a fancy mood chanterelles are incredible, otherwise use a mix of oyster, crimini, shitake, etc)
1 cup of grated gruyere
1/2 cup of white wine
0314 tbs of butter
1 tb thyme
2 tsp of salt or more or less to taste
3 tsp of black pepper or more to taste

Heat up a pan and add 3 tbs of the butter. Add the mushrooms and half the salt and let all water leach out and keep sauteeing until they brown a bit. Add the leaks and cook till they begin to soften. Add the white wine and reduce almost entirely. Let this mushroom leak base cool down to room temp.

Beat the eggs and mix in the milk and heavy cream. This is basically a custard base. Season this custard with thyme, salt and pepper.
Butter a casserole dish and place the cubed bread in it. Add the mushroom-leak base and the gruyere cheese and mix well. Pour the custard over it and make sure it is evenly distributed with the other ingredients. You may have to mix them around.

Bake in a 300 degree oven for about 40 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. The top and bottom should be a bit brown, but the center should be soft and somewhat creamy, like really good bread pudding.

023 026

Comments: It was fantastic, however I was forced to make some modifications—there were no mushrooms when I went to buy them! I subbed peeled eggplant cubes, and had great success. I also used an ordinary baguette and left the crust on, as it wasn’t very tough.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Roasted Tomato Pasta Sauce

Roasted tomatoes. You really can’t go wrong. Unless you burn the tomatoes, and I managed not to! I’m finally starting to learn the ins and outs of this silly gas oven! This is based on a Cook’s Illustrated recipe, posted by Captious Vegetarian.

  • 1 small shallot, sliced thin 012
  • 2 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1 pound cherry tomatoes (about 1.5 pints), each tomato halved pole to pole
  • 1/4 tsp. salt + extra for pasta water
  • 1/8 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 1/8 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 3/4 tsp. sugar
  • 1/2 Tbs. balsamic vinegar
  • 2 cloves garlic, sliced thin
  • 1/3 pound whole wheat rigatoni
  • 2 Tbs. torn basil leaves
  • parmesan cheese, grated
  1. Adjust oven rack to middle position; heat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a large bowl, gently toss the tomatoes with 5 tsp. of oil, 009 salt, pepper flakes, black pepper, sugar, vinegar, and garlic. Spread in even layer on rimmed baking sheet (about 17 by 12 inches). In the same bowl, toss shallots with 1 teaspoon oil; scatter shallots over tomatoes.
  3. Roast until edges of shallots begin to brown and tomato skins are slightly shriveled (tomatoes should retain their shape), 35 to 40 minutes. (Do not stir tomatoes during roasting.) Remove tomatoes from oven and cool 5 to 10 minutes.
  4. While tomatoes cook, bring 2 quarts water to boil in large stockpot. Just before removing tomatoes from oven, stir 1 tsp. salt and pasta into boiling water and cook until al dente. Drain pasta and add to the large bowl you used for the tomatoes. Using a metal spatula, scrape the tomato mixture into the bowl on top of the pasta. Add the basil and toss to combine. Serve immediately, sprinkling cheese over individual bowls.

Comments: This was tasty and easy. I was surprised at how simple it was. However, it wasn’t mind-blowing, as I think CI recipes should be. I’ll probably make it again, as it is tomato season, but I don’t think I’ll miss it terribly in the winter.

Lemon Ricotta Scones

This is a great recipe, also a Craigslist classic , that I make whenever I have extra ricotta laying around.

Makes 6 scones


1/2 cup light ricotta cheese (or regular)

1 egg

1 tablespoon lemon juice

2 teaspoons lemon zestlemonsconesflour

2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup white sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup butter

1. Preheat oven to 350F degrees, and spray a baking sheet with non-stick cooking spray.

2. In a small bowl, combine ricotta cheese, egg, lemon juice and lemon rind.

3. Mix well with a fork until well combined and not very lumpy. (Do not mix until all lumps disappear).

5. In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

6. Cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse cornmeal.

7. Stir in cheese mixture lightly, then combine quickly.

8. Be careful not to overmix, knead no more than 10 times.

9. You may need to add another tablespoon of lemon juice depending on your flour, dough should be slightly sticky and shiny.

10. Place on the baking sheet, and pat into 3/4 inch thickness.

11. Cut round into 6 wedge-shaped pieces.

12. Move scones so they are not touching, and dust with sugar and cinnamon.

13. Back 15-20 minutes, or until browned.


Comments: I am having disastrous results with our oven! However, once I scraped way the top and bottom of these, they still tasted great. I just needed two instead of one. They’ll be prettier when you make them.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Stuffed Cabbage Rolls (Shmooed Food)

As soon as I saw these, I knew I had to make them. And, so, despite a few lacking gadgets (food processor!), I did!

1 cup walnuts
1 cup cooked brown rice
1 cup canned garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup oat bran
1/2 teaspoon marjoram
1/4 teaspoon thyme
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons Dijon-style mustard
18 to 20 large cabbage leaves
1 cup tomato-vegetable juice blend
2 tablespoons freshly-squeezed lemon juice
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Process nuts in food processor. Set aside.

Add the garbanzo beans and brown rice to the bowl of the food processor and process until the mixture forms a coarse mash. Add to the mixing bowl along with the oat bran, marjoram, thyme, onion powder, soy sauce, and mustard. Using your hands, knead the mixture well until it is thoroughly mixed and holds its shape. Set aside.

Bring a large saucepan of salted water to a boil. Add the cabbage leaves and cook for 2 to 3 minutes (the leaves should be limp enough to roll but not cooked through). Drain the leaves thoroughly.

Divide the bean and rice mixture into ten equal portions

Stuff each cabbage leaf and place in an oiled baking dish.

Mix the tomato juice and lemon juice together and pour evenly over the rolls. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Bake the rolls for 45 to 50 minutes, until gently brown on top.

Comments: I replaced the herbs with a mixed set for Sauces and Stews (Alicante Condimentos para Tucos y Guisos). I used a small, fresh onion (sautéed in a bit of oil), and tomato sauce instead of juice. I should have thinned the sauce with water, but didn’t. I also mixed a bit of the spice mix into the sauce.

My filling didn’t bind well enough to make loaves (probably because of the lack of food processor), which may be why I ended up with 8 instead of the planned 10. And way more cabbage than necessary.

So, how was it? Delicious! And savory and heavy. This is the perfect vegan dish to serve to an ominvore, it’s so substantial. Next time, I’d probably mix a bit of tomato sauce into the filling as well as some cayenne or hot sauce. I used the extra cooked cabbage leaves to scoop up the filling with my hands, as I love eating with my fingers.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Spicy Sesame Cabbage

Cabbage is so cheap! And supposedly good for you, I keep trying to make it work. Here is my latest (and most successful) attempt.


1/2 head of Savoy cabbage
2 T. sesame oil
2 T. soy sauce
2-3 T. rice vinegar
Sea salt to taste
1/4 t. cayenne pepper, or more, if you like things particularly spicy
1/4 c. sesame seeds, lightly toasted

Slice the cabbage into fine ribbons, and heat the sesame oil in a pan over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 10-15 minutes, until the cabbage is tender, but still lets out a gentle crunch when you bite in. Reduce the flame to low, and add the soy sauce and rice vinegar. Stir, and taste. Add a few grinds of sea salt, and the cayenne pepper, to taste. Stir in the toasted seeds right before serving.

Comments: I didn’t get any sesame seeds, although I’m sure it’d be better with them. It was still tasty. Not too spicy, next time I’d increase the cayenne. Repeat-worthy.

Quinoa Ricotta Stuffed Zucchini

Another recipe I've been eyeing for a while was this one from Chocolate and Zucchini. It sounded so simple and healthy! Here's how it went down:


3 large zapatillos


175 g quinoa (3/4 cup)

1 1/4 cup vegetable broth

3 T. pine nuts

½ cup ricotta

1 T pesto

Begin by soaking the quinoa for 15 minutes. While the quinoa is soaking, cut each zapatillo in half. (Preferred method, cut off just the top to stuff, and replace the cap, however I was working without a spoon, just a fork, and lacked the precision to make this work.)

¨Place the hollow zucchinis in a baking dish, sprinkle them with salt and bake them in a hot oven for 20 minutes.

Rinse the quinoa, and bring 1 1/4 cups broth to a boil. Add quinoa, and lower heat. Simmer 15 minutes. All the water should be absorbed.

In the meantime, sauté the zucchini flesh with garlic and herbs de provence

toast about 3 tablespoons of pine nuts in a dry skillet (watch these very closely, they burn fast. Here's a tip: if it starts smelling good, it's too late).

Mash the zucchini flesh in a colander, draining it well.

In a medium bowl, mix the zucchini, the quinoa, the pine nuts, half a cup of ricotta, and a generous tablespoon of pesto.

After removing the zucchini shells from the oven, drain any water that has collected in them. Fill the zucchini shells with this mixture and return the oven for about 10 minutes, until heated through.

Comments: Halfway through I became quite preoccupied with these turning out bland. So preoccupied, I forgot to add the pesto! Still, I was worried for nothing, they lacked a bit of salt (I’m a chronic under-salter), but were otherwise delicious. I subbed mixed peanuts and almonds for the pinenuts, as I couldn’t get any in time for the recipe, and it worked fine, although I’m sure pinenuts would make it that much better. Repeat!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Polenta “Pizza”

Still trying to diversify my grain intake, I had been hearing about polenta pizza, and decided to give it a try. Most looked more like polenta casseroles with mozzarella and tomato sauce. I found two possibilities that seemed like they’d hold up a bit more like the real thing. That’s My Home used egg in the polenta, presumably to hold it together, while Fat Free Vegan Kitchen used a smaller crust, baked before adding toppings.

In the interest of simplicity, I decided to try the latter version first. Here’s what I did:


1 1/2 cups water

1 1/2 cups milk

3/4 cup instant polenta

1 teaspoon salt (optional)

tomato sauce

cheese (I used queso cremoso, because that’s what I had)

sun-dried tomatoes


green onions



Preheat the oven to 425. Oil a cookie sheet or 8 inch pan.

Bring the water, milk, and salt to boil. Whisk in the polenta, continually stirring until very thick.

Spread the polenta evenly in the bottom of the pan, about half an inch thick. This quantity of polenta will make enough for two personal-sized pizzas. I saved half for another use. Place the pan in the oven and bake for 12 minutes.

While the crust is cooking, prepare your toppings. Rehydrate and chop the tomatoes, sauté the vegetables lightly in a non-stick pan until onion begins to soften.

After 12 minutes, take the crust out of the oven and invert itonto another dish. It should fall right out of the pan. Spread each crust with tomato sauce (don't use too much or they will be soggy) and top with veggies. Sprinkle with oregano

Return to the oven for about 10 minutes, until toppings look done. Lift off the baking sheet carefully using a large spatula and your hand--they are not sturdy like regular pizza, so be careful not to let your toppings slide off. Cut into 4ths and serve.

Comments: There was a reference in the original recipe to parchment paper. I believe she used this instead of oil for the initial cooking, which seems like it’d be helpful, as mine stuck a bit even with the oil. Otherwise, the recipe went as predicted.

The pizza wasn’t quite solid enough to pick up, but I could pick up pieces of it, which satisfied my love for eating with my hands. Still, I wouldn’t call it pizza. It is definitely its own creature. The toppings felt a bit all over the place, so I’d like to refine them, but it was tasty! A bit of trouble, so it won’t become a regular rotation, but otherwise worthy of experimentation.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Pea ‘n Cheese Salad

Had I thought this recipe through, I would have found it way too heavy for my tastes and lacking spice, but at an initial glance, it seemed different enough for my normal routine that I decided to give it a go. I mean, it got great reviews, and when was the last time I had a mayo-based salad? Or peas? I found it looking for a recipe to use the leftover radishes I had from

my Cabbage Carrot Salad with Peanut Dressing.


300 grams frozen peas, defrosted

3/4 cup diced carrots

2 hard-cooked eggs, chopped

1/4 cup chopped green onions

1/2 cup cubed cheese

1/2 cup thinly sliced radishes

125 grams mayonnaise

1 t. sugar

1 t. salt (Argentine salt is not as strong as US salt.)

1 t. spicy dijon mustard


Mix first 6 ingredients together. Add remaining ingredients and mix thoroughly.

Comments: As I mentioned above, I wasn’t a huge fan. It’s heavy and lacks interest. If I were to attend a very American gathering, with conservative tastes, and wanted something they’d enjoy, I might make it again, otherwise, no.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Vodka Sauce


Another recipe I’ve been wanting to try for ages! It was my favorite in my favorite Italian restaurant in Madrid, and I found a bottled dressing that was quite tasty (Newman’s, I think) at home (and another, Trader Joe’s brand, that was horrible)…but I had never made it myself. The cream scared me off for a while. But a year in Argentina has done wonders to change my perception of cream, so it was time!


· 1 quart tomato sauce, or store-bought marinara sauce

· 1 cup vodka

· 1/2 cup cream, at room temperature

· 1/2 cup grated Parmesan

· 1 pound pasta (I used spaghetti)


1. Simmer the tomato sauce and vodka in a heavy large skillet over low heat until the mixture reduces by 1/4, stirring often, about 20 minutes.

2. Stir the cream into the tomato and vodka sauce. Simmer over low heat until the sauce is heated through.

3. Stir in the Parmesan cheese until melted and well blended.

4. Meanwhile, cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until al dente, tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 minutes. Drain the pasta and transfer it to the pan with the sauce, and toss to coat.

Comments: This was awesome in the pot and when I dipped my bean balls in, but pouring it over pasta made it very watery. I think next time I’ll reduce the vodka a bit, as it was still very alcohol-y tasting, which will reduce some of the liquid, and then make sure to simmer it down so it’s a bit thicker. I also didn’t use very much parmesan, as the recipe was already fairly indulgent. This would be great for company and special occasions.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

White Bean Balls

I've been wanting to make a meatball alternative for ages now, and recently begun stockpiling recipes, as at one point I was ready and couldn't find anything tasty-looking. However, this is the first time it's all come together. The recipe is a de-veganized version of this one.


1 small white onion, and finely chopped
5 cloves of garlic, peeled and minced
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp sea salt
15 fresh basil leaves, well chopped, or 2 T dried basil
2 tbsp dried parsley
2 cups cooked white beans plus 1/4 cup cooking liquid
1-4 cup bread crumbs or 2 slices bread pulsed into crumbs in food processor
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
2 T. powdered milk, or 1/4 c. milk and eliminate the bean liquid

what'cha gotta do:
Heat a small amount of water in & saute the onions, garlic and seasonings until they're soft on medium heat (about 8-10 minutes). add the white beans, parsley, basil (if using fresh), to the skillet. cook for another 5 minutes then transfer the mix of yumminess to the food processor. pulse until the beans are well chopped (and no whole beans remain) then dump the pulsed bean mixture into the mixing bowl. add the bread crumbs to the mixing bowl, adding the non-dairy milk & nutritional yeast to it, too. mix everything until well combined, adjust seasonings to taste, and start making some balls (made 16). wipe out the skillet, spritz a little more of the olive oil cooking spray in it, and saute the bean balls on medium heat (turning often) until browned up a bit (you can also bake them on 350 for 10 minutes. remove from heat & eat 'em up!

Comments: These are tasty. They’ve got a little kick that makes me think they’d be great dipped in a yogurt sauce.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Cabbage carrot salad with peanut dressing

I found this recipe on the captious vegetarian’s blog and was obviously initially attracted by the peanut sauce-Cook’s Illustrated combination. I tried the peanut sauce before, wasn’t too impressed. However, I still had faith in the recipe as a whole, so here’s what I did:

Makes about 5-6 cups.

1 pound green cabbage (about 1/2 medium head), shredded fine

1 large carrot, peeled and grated

2 T. smooth peanut butter

2 T. peanut oil

2 T. rice vinegar

1 T. soy sauce

1 t. honey

2 medium cloves garlic, chopped

1 1/2 inch ginger, peeled, chopped

1 t. Sriracha or 1/2 jalapeño chile, halved and seeded, chopped

4 medium radishes, sliced thin

4 scallions, sliced thin


1. In bowl of food processor fitted with steel blade, puree the peanut butter, oil, vinegar, soy sauce, honey, garlic, ginger, and jalapeño until smooth paste is formed.

2. Toss the cabbage and carrot, radishes, scallions, and dressing together in a medium bowl. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Comments: This was decent, but not outstanding. It needed some sweet, I tried adding raisins, but it still wasn't outstanding. However, it is filling and takes a lot of chewing to eat, so if you have the munchies, this is probably a healthy way to satisfy the urge. I probably won't make it again, though.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Homemade Flour tortillas

I had a craving for Mexican food, with some black beans in the fridge, and decided to make black bean quesadillas. But, just for kicks, I thought I’d try homemade tortillas, instead of the Rapiditas they sell here. I used this recipe, as it was greatly detailed, and one of the only ones that didn’t call for shortening. Even the vegetable shortening here contains animal fats! Here’s what I did:

  • 2 cups of white flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. vegetable oil
  • 3/4 cup warm water

1. Combine the flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl. In another bowl combine the warm water and oil.

2. Add the water/oil mixture to the flour mixture, a few tablespoons at a time and mix the dough with a fork. Once the water is mixed in, add a little more water and repeat the process until all the water is mixed into the dough. The dough will be sticky.

3. Lightly flour a wooden cutting board and knead the dough 4-5 minutes, adding flour when the dough gets sticky. Eventually the stickiness will go away and you will have a nice smooth dough.

4. Place the dough back into the bowl and cover it with a damp towel or damp paper towel. Let the dough rest for 20 minutes.

5. Divide the dough into golf-ball-size balls by pinching off the dough with your thumb and fore finger. Form each ball into a nice ball shape.

6. Place the balls on a flat dish making sure they don't touch each other and cover with the damp cloth.

7. Let the dough rest again for 10 minutes.

8. Lightly dust your wooden cutting board with flour. Take one of the balls of dough and flatten it out on the cutting board to a 4 inch circle. Rub flour on your rolling pin and begin to roll out the dough starting from the center out. Roll the tortilla until it is 6 or 7 inches in diameter and about 1/8 inch thick.

9. Once you have rolled out the tortilla, place it on a preheated skillet. You don't need to add any oil or butter. Cook the tortilla for about 30 seconds. You will notice brown spots all over your tortilla. Flip it over and cook an additional 30 seconds. Don't over cook it as you want the tortilla to be nice and soft.

10. Keep your tortillas warm by covering them in a towel on a plate or in a tortilla warmer.

Tortillas are best eaten hot right off the griddle, but you can refrigerate and freeze them too. If you freeze the tortillas, wrap tightly in plastic wrap and put them in a ziplock bag. When you are ready to use them, first thaw at room temperature and then wrap them in foil and place them in a 250 degree oven for a 10 to 15 minutes.


Comments: I never got these thin enough to really resemble tortillas, they were more of a flat bread, but that didn’t stop me from demolishing them! I think I have an addiction to white-flour foods.


Update: I've also made this recipe using 1 cup whole wheat flour and 1 cup white. Works well!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

“Rice Stuffing” (Rice and veggies)

While trying to figure out what I could do for Thanksgiving in Argentina, without the use or a turkey or cranberries (they don’t have cranberries here, turkey for the obvious reasons)…I came across a recipe for Quinoa Stuffing.

Although the title seemed like a stretch, it got great reviews and seemed to be something I could adapt with local ingredients. Here’s what I did:

008 007 009

· 2 cups cooked rice

· Drizzle of EVOO

· 1 small zucchini, cut into 1-inch cubes

· 1/2 butternut squash, peeled and diced

· 4 large green onions, chopped

· 1/2 cup dried apricots, diced

· 1/2 cup sundried tomatoes, re-hydrated

· 1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped

· 1 lemon

If needed, cook rice with bay leaves and salt. Remove from heat; remove bay leaves and let cool. 010

Meanwhile, heat 3 tbsp oil in a frying pan. Sauté zucchini and squash — season with salt and pepper — until slightly browned. Combine vegetables and quinoa. Drizzle on remaining 1 tbsp oil. Stir in onions, apricots, sun-dried tomatoes, parsley, and mint. Grate in lemon peel and squeeze on lemon juice to taste. Season with salt and pepper.


Comments: I swapped out the dried cranberries for sun dried tomatoes, thinking they’d give a necessary tartness, but the new sundried tomatoes I got were incredibly bright-tasting and sweet, more like fresh tomatoes.

Chopped cashews would be a great addition. The zucchini cooked much faster than the butternut squash—additionally, the squash needed to be cut smaller—no larger than 1/2 inch cubes, and it could be doubled (as could the zucchini). Raisins might be a better addition instead of the tomatoes, and apricots were barely noticeable.

Overall, this is a flexible dish. It’s light and healthy, and easy to play with.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Boy Meets Girl

Boy eats:

Girl eats:

Guess who this belongs to!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Teriyaki Stir Fry

I was looking for a stir-fry sauce, and came across this one. It was great, although even when I scaled it down to two servings and used half, it was too much for my giant plate of veggies, tofu and rice.


2/3 cup soy sauce

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

2 tablespoons white sugar

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1 clove garlic, minced


In a small bowl, combine soy sauce, vinegar, sugar, ginger, and garlic.

Comments: As I mentioned, this made too much for the serving, but it was good, and definitely improved my typical stir fry. The recipe originally called for sherry instead of vinegar, but I subbed the vinegar as I had no sherry and topped everything with sriracha. I'd mix sriracha into the sauce next time, before cooking everything, but this was good.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Veggie Tofu Thai Green Curry

I scored some vegetarian Thai curry paste the last time I was in the US, and am finally giving it a go! Here's what I did:

1 container cream (8 oz or so?)
1 1/2 T green Thai curry paste
2 cups vegetables (green beans, tomato, and bell peppers)
1 cup tofu, cubed

I steamed the green beans a bit, and warmed the cream and curry paste. Then I added the veggies and tofu, and simmered for 10 minutes.

Comments: This was an interesting first attempt. I thin next time I'll add onions, garlic, and at least 2T of curry paste. Also, there was too much liquid, so I will probably reduce the cream/milk next time, and switch to either full milk or coconut milk. I don't think the cream was necessary (but there's only one way to find out!) I'd also like to add some aji picante or cayenne, as it needed a lot of sriracha to up the spice, and that took away from the curry flavors.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Nirvana tags and a Polenta Revelation

Orangette talked about a list of CILTE (Crap I Like To Eat) a while back, and I thought it was a cute idea--compile a list of stuff that makes you happy, to make on those days when you're feeling totally unmotivated to eat.

Then, I was eating black beans with tomato sauce and polenta today, sighing blissfully to myself as I shook on more Cholula, and thinking...bliss...nirvana...

I have these moments from time to time, and they never stay with me. At least not with homemade cooking. And thus was born the nirvana tag, to mark these moments in the indelible memory of the internet!

So, back to dinner...I am certain I could eat black beans and tomato sauce over some kind of carb every night and never get tired of it--especially when a bit of cheese and hot sauce is mixed into the game.

However, polenta was never my favorite. I liked it enough prepared in restaurants, but at home? Pain in the ass! All the stirring, stress over clumping, waiting...wondering is it done yet? Stirring some more...

And then I accidently bought instant polenta...something I'd normally shy away from, because it just a shortcut? Microwave popcorn? Packaged mac and cheese? These things never seem to work out for the best. But, lo and behold, it did!

A couple minutes of stirring, and my polenta was thick and rich. I took it off the heat a couple minutes later, and came back in five minutes to find a solid block of polenta! I've never had the patience to see this happen with the traditional stuff! I'm so hooked...and so looking forward to my polenta and tomato sauce--with black beans, and a bit of cheese--for dinner tomorrow!

And maybe tomorrow I'll savor it long enough to snap some photos...

Old Fashioned Pesto with Walnuts

I've been craving pesto, but stumped by my lack of food processor-blender gadget. So, yesterday I looked into the traditional mortar and pestle methods...then fashioned a mortar and pestle from the end of a wide-handled fork and ceramic bowl, and went to town. Ghetto? Desperate? Tasty!

Here's how it went down:


  • 2 cups loosely packed basil
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted, plus crushed pine nuts for garnish
  • 2-3 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano or Pecorino Romano cheese, grated, plus more for garnish
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus more as needed
  • 1/2 tsp. coarse sea salt


  1. Combine basil, toasted pine nuts, garlic, and salt in your mort ar.
  2. Grind with pestle in a pounding and/or rotating motion until a paste is formed, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add cheese; grind until combined.
  4. Briskly stir pesto with a wooden spoon while drizzling in the olive oil.
  5. Drizzle pesto with more oil until desired consistency is reached.
  6. Let rest while cooking your pasta.
  7. Stir pesto into drained pasta while still hot.
  8. Garnish with extra cheese and crushed pine nuts.

Comments: So, I'm terrible at following directions, and began grinding the basil with just salt. I believe the garlic and nuts would allow it to break down faster, and give much better results. Also, I used walnuts instead of pinenuts, as I had them on hand. I halved the recipe, because that was how much basil I had, but next time I'd try and do a full batch, this went too quickly!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Black beans and quinoa with tomato sauce

This is based off a Vegan with a Vengeance recipe for bell pepper stuffing. Captious didn’t review it highly as a bellpepper filling, so I gave it my own spin. It turned out delicious!

2 Tbs. olive oil

1 cup finely chopped onion

1 hot pepper, such as jalapeno, minced

3 cloves garlic, minced

2 cups finely chopped mushrooms (optional)

1 Tbs. chili powder

1 tsp. salt

15 oz. tomato sauce

1/4 cup water

1/2 cup quinoa

2 cups cooked black beans

  • Saute the onions and pepper until soft, then add the garlic and mushrooms and cook until dry.
  • Add the chili powder, salt, tomato sauce, water, and quinoa and and simmer the mixture for 20 minutes.
  • Afterwards, the black beans are added to the mixture.

Comments: I served this over cubed, boiled sweet potatoes with some paneer mixed in. It was fabulous!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


So...I made a bunch of the best pizza dough ever, and then our oven broke. It was sitting in the freezer, when I got the itch to make pita bread. I compared the recipes, and ended up using my pizza dough for the pita!

3 cups plus a scant 1/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour (16 oz./454 grams)
2 teaspoons salt (1/2 oz./13.2 grams)
2 teaspoons instant yeast (6.4 grams)
2 tablespoons olive oil (1 oz./27 grams)
1 1/4 cups water, at room temperature (10.4 oz./295 grams)

1. About 1 1/2 hours before shaping, or for best flavor development, 8 hours to 3 days ahead, mix the dough: In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients except for a scant 1/4 cup of the flour. With a wooden spoon or your hand, mix until all the flour is moistened. Knead the dough in the bowl until it comes together.

Sprinkle a little of the reserved flour onto the counter and scrape the dough onto it. Knead the dough for 5 minutes, adding as little of the reserved flour as possible. Use a bench scraper to scrape the dough and gather it together as you knead it. At this point it will be very sticky. Cover it with the inverted bowl and allow it to rest for 5 to 20 minutes. (This rest will make the dough less sticky and easier to work with.)

Knead the dough for another 5 to 10 minutes or until it is soft and smooth and just a little sticky to the touch. Add a little flour or water if necessary. (The dough will weigh about 27.75 oz./793 grams.)

2. Let the dough rise: Using an oiled spatula or dough scraper, scrape the dough into a 2-quart or larger dough-rising container or bowl, lightly greased with cooking spray or oil. Press the dough down and lightly spray or oil the top of it. Cover the container with a lid or plastic wrap. Refrigerate the dough overnight (or up to 3 days), checking every hour for the first 4 hours and pressing it down if it starts to rise.

3. Shape the dough: Cut the dough into 8 or 12 pieces. Work with one piece at a time, keeping the rest covered with a damp cloth. On a lightly floured counter, with lightly floured hands, shape each piece into a ball and then flatten it into a disk. Cover the dough with oiled plastic and allow it to rest for 20 minutes at room temperature.

4. Roll each disk into a circle a little under 1/4 inch thick. Allow them to rest, uncovered, for 10 minutes before baking.

5. Bake the pita: Preheat a griddle or cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Lightly grease the surface and cook the pitas one at a time. Cook for about 20 seconds, then turn the dough and continue cooking for 1 minute or until big bubbles appear. Turn the dough again and cook until the dough balloons. If the dough begins to brown, lower the heat. The entire cooking process for each pita should be about 3 minutes.

The pita should be completely puffed but not beginning to brown. The dough will not puff well if it is not moist enough. See how the pita puffs, then, if necessary, spray and knead each remaining piece with water until the dough is soft and moist; allow to rest again and reroll as before.* (However, those that do not puff well are still delicious to eat.)

* After my first pita didn’t puff well, and I realized I was too lazy to spritz and reroll and rise each remaining pita, I instead spritzed each rolled-out pita with water two or three minutes before baking it. It worked magically — all of the remaining pitas puffed perfectly. Try this method first if yours don’t puff, if it doesn’t work to you, revert to Beranbaum’s suggestion of kneading the extra moisture in.

Proceed with the remaining dough, baking 3 or 4 pieces at a time if using a stone or baking sheet. using a pancake turner, transfer the pita breads to a clean towel, to stay soft and warm. Allow the oven to reheat for 5 minutes between batches. The pitas can be reheated for about 30 seconds in a hot oven before serving.

Whole wheat variation: For a whole wheat version, use half whole wheat and half white flour. If using regular whole wheat flour, for best results, grind it very fine or process it in a food processor for 5 minutes to break the bran into smaller particles. Finely ground 100% whole wheat flour (atta), available in Middle Eastern food markets, is the finest grind available. Or, for a milder but wheatier flavor and golden color, try 100% white whole wheat flour. You will need to add 1/4 cup more water, for a total of 1 1/2 cups (12.4 oz./354 grams).

Comments: The pita turned out great once it was done. I think next time I'd divide the pizza dough ball in three to make sure the pitas are small enough for my pan. First pita was a little...well, it made great flat bread! Next up, some whole wheat adaptations!


I saw how simple it was to make paneer (thanks Pranav!) and immediately had to give it a go. After consulting several recipes, I ultimately went with this one.

Homemade Paneer (

· 1 liter milk

· 1+ t. lemon juice or vinegar

· A large pot

· A cheese cloth or clean towel or clean tee-shirt

  1. Gently heat the milk just to boiling and turn off the heat. Pour a little lemon juice in it.
Not too much, all you want is for the milk to curdle. Gently mix with a and add more lemon juice (or vinegar) until the milk has split into a transparent liquid and little lumps of soft white matter. That's your cheese.

  1. Take a clean towel and wrap it into a bowl or strainer, put everything in the sink and pour in the split milk.
  1. Let the milk water (whey) drain.
  1. ... then turn it and squeeze the cheese.
  1. Put it in a plate or form. Add a plate and some weight on top and leave in the fridge for a couple hours. Some more water will come out, just discard it.
  1. You can cut it in pieces and pan-fry it for 3-4 minutes in a little oil or ghee for longer preservation or use within a few days.
Comments: This is great and mild as is. I might try adding a bit of lemon juice and salt in the future and using it in place of feta. Or just salt to give it more flavor on its own. I mixed it in a sitr fry with lemon dressing, mustard, and sriracha, and was a happy camper, eating it with my new pita recipe.

Monday, November 9, 2009

More Peanut Sauce--The winner!

Okay, so I gave things another go a few days ago, and found what I was looking for! while the sweet potato recipe is good for veggies, this one holds up to pasta as it's a bit thicker.

2 tablespoons smooth peanut butter

2 tablespoons peanut oil

2 tablespoons rice vinegar

1 tablespoon soy sauce

1 teaspoon honey

2 medium cloves garlic, chopped coarse

1 ½ inch piece ginger , peeled

½ jalapeño chile , halved and seeded

Comments: Perhaps due to its thickness, this utterly failed on my beets and sugar snap peas. I'll have to compare it to the sweet potato recipe to see how it compares with the addition of water, as they're probably quite similar. I subbed vegetable oil for the peanut oil, a mix of vinegars for the rice and sriracha for the jalapeño.

Comments Update: I tried this again with veggies and tofu. Not happening, this is delicious on pasta, but I'm returning to the old recipe for veggies.