Sunday, July 20, 2014

lemon cake, just for me

Who needs company to bake a birthday cake? Baking for one means no layers or buttery frosting, but no skimping on richness or drama, either. This tender lemon cake has the bite of homemade marmalade and the juicy crumb of blueberries, all piled under soft peaks of whipped cream.

Blueberry Lemon Cake
adapted from Sally's Baking Addiction

1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
5/8 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 eggs, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups cake flour, plus a spoonful for tossing the blueberries
1 1/2 t baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup buttermilk
zest and juice of 2 lemons
1 cup blueberries, minus a few for munching
marmalade, for serving
whipped cream, for serving

Preheat the oven to 350. Butter one 9-inch square cake pan.

Beat the butter until creamy with a hand mixer. Add sugars and mix for 2-3 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time. Beat until everything is combined, scraping sides as needed.

Toss together dry ingredients, then add bit by bit to the butter. Then add buttermilk, lemon zest, and lemon juice. Stir lightly until just combined.

Toss blueberries with 1 T flour and fold into batter. Spoon evenly into cake pan. Bake 20 - 30 min or until toothpick comes out clean.

Serve warm with a spoonful of marmalade and whipped cream.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Springing back up

Hello world! New plants and sunny windowsills contain all the hope of spring. 

These rhubarb bars, from Smitten Kitchen, make a perfect breakfast when served over greek yogurt and splashed with maple syrup. 

Every year, every seder has the best hazelnut torte Mama's ever made. This one was especially gorgeous.

Herby smashed peas are one of my favorite foods. This pea soup was flavored with basil from my windowsill.

My current favorite soup has the bulk of roasted carrots and french lentils, the warmth of harissa, and sweetness of fresh mint.

Feyza taught Mama how to make borek! Yum yum yum. 

When Hmart opened nearby, the crowds carried away all the ready-made food instantly, leaving empty shelves and happy shopkeepers. That first week, I bought buckwheat soba noodles, which tangle here with fresh cilantro pesto, toasted peanuts, bell pepper, and basil. 

Jackie's postcards from the Middle East preceded her. The promises of home-cooked food contained in her missives were kept absolutely.


6 eggs
2 jalapeno peppers, minced
2 onions, chopped
5 cloves garlic, minced
cumin, paprika, salt
1 28-oz can whole tomatoes, crushed with hands
olive oil
parsley, to garnish
plain greek yogurt and pita, to serve

Sautee peppers and onions in olive oil in a large heavy saucepan until soft, about 5 minutes. Add garlic, cumin, and paprika; cook until garlic softens, about 2 minutes.

Crush the tomatoes with hands and add to saucepan with the liquid from the can. Cook until reduced (10-15 minutes).

Crack eggs into saucepan and cover with a lid until the whites are set but the yolks are still runny, about 5 minutes.

Sprinkle with chopped parsley and serve with yogurt and pita.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

When everything feels wrong...

...there's soup!

Spicy vegan split pea and chickpea soup, to be specific, made in my beautiful new French oven (thank you Gogo!) and garnished with a splash of harissa-infused olive oil and a sprinkle of pine nuts (both "borrowed" from Diane's pantry at fall break) and a big scoop of yogurt.

Everything's okay when I take it one meal at a time.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Pickled Prunes

My google doc with lists of what to pack for school is getting a little ridiculous. Coffee mugs, towels, nail polish, a can opener (for making peanut soup, of course), both of my tin Yellow Submarine lunch boxes... and a jar of pickled prunes, canned by yours truly. I have been planning on learning to can forever. I had my first attempt with this recipe, and while the canning process was a bit of a disaster, the fruit came out just right.

This chutney-like recipe yields soft, rich fruit in a sticky glaze. The fruit is both sweet and savory; chopped pickled prunes instantly add depth to any dish. My ideas for using the prunes and raisins: toss cold chunks of steamed cauliflower with chopped prunes and a spoonful or two of syrup for a yummy salad. Saute or steam carrot sticks, then top with prunes for a tsimmesish creation. Fill celery sticks with chopped poached chicken, then sprinkle with raisins. 

Pickled Prunes
adapted from Serious Eats
I made this recipe with 3/4 prunes and 1/4 raisins. I thought the raisins were delicious and would happily repeat this with just raisins. There isn't much liquid and it's syrupy, not briny, so I'd classify this more as a chutney than pickles... but either way you should give it a try.

1 pound prunes or raisins
1 c red wine vinegar
1/2 lemon
1/4 c brown sugar
1/4 c honey
1 t fresh grated ginger
1/2 t whole black peppercorns
pinch ground cloves
pinch red chili flakes
pinch ground allspice
1 bay leaf
pinch salt

Combine fruit and vinegar in a medium saucepan. Add strips of lemon zest removed with a peeler and the lemon juice. Add all the rest of the ingredients and bring it all to a simmer. Cook 15-20 minutes, until prunes have plumped and liquid is a thin syrup. Remove pan from heat and cool slightly. Spoon into a jar and refrigerate, where it'll keep for a month. Or can using proper canning techniques and save it for even longer! (I haven't mastered this yet so I won't explain how.)

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Pancakes on a Diet

No matter how much criticism fad diets get, there must be a little bit of good in each diet. If it was complete disgusting nonsense, it wouldn't be popular enough to qualify as a fad. I recently read Dr. Dukan's diet book, which is full of complete crap (suck on ice cubes and watch the pounds float away!) but also has a few nice tips and recipes.

My favorite thing about the Dukan diet is that he is totally obsessed with oat bran. Gluten-free and full of fiber, it was the perfect thing for me to add to my diet. Dukan recommends having a certain amount of bran every day, whether the bran is sprinkled on yogurt, cooked to make hot cereal, or made into his most amazing creation- the oat bran galette. I've changed a few things about his galette to make it less obsessive and more delicious, and the savory pancakes have become my new favorite meal. 

Bea's Doctored-Up Dukan Pancakes
Make one big galette or three smaller pancakes. Either way, you'll be impressed with the light texture of these gluten-free, high-protein, fiber-filled cakes. 
I prefer these to be savory, so I put in salt and pepper and serve it with ketchup and/or mustard. If you want to go the other way, you should totally drizzle your pancakes with honey and serve with fruit and yogurt. 

2 T plain Greek yogurt
2 T oat bran
1 egg, separated*
salt**, pepper, red pepper flakes, and other spices to taste
olive oil***

Mix the yolk, yogurt, and oat bran with any spices you desire. Beat the egg white until it has soft peaks. Heat a little olive oil in a pan. While it's heating, fold the white into the yolk mixture. 
When the pan is ready, drop the batter into the pan by the spoonful and cook like pancakes. Serve with chutney, ketchup, mustard, or salsa. 

*Dr. Dukan would say trash the yolk and just use the protein-filled white. I vote that throwing away a yummy, nutritious yolk is a crime. 
**Finicky Dukan says no salt, but I say that's absurd. 
***The persnickety doctor would recommend using no oil/butter at all to grease the pan because he's afraid of the fat. I don't think a little olive oil ever hurt anyone. 

Summer Heat

I have eaten so many beautiful things this summer, both meals out at new restaurants and meals I have cooked for myself. In chronological order, here are a few dishes I intended to post as recipes, but never got around to posting:

This asparagus slaw was inspired by the one served (until the menu changed a week or two ago) at Red House under pan-seared scallops. I blanched the asparagus, then cut them on the mandoline. The dressing was lots of lemon zest and juice, whole grain mustard, dijon, and a bit of olive oil. The asparagus was a pain in the butt, but so delicious. 

Mmm frozen chunks of watermelon with lime and mint... I caught Zoe in the middle of making drinks. Frozen watermelon is the perfect ice cube.

Joy's crispy coconut kale is a delight. Much more complex in flavoring than my basic kale dishes, it's a fun way to enjoy the best veggie ever. 

These pretty peas were getting ready to be blended with that mess of fresh parsley and basil you see. I chopped the herbs with some oil until they made pesto, then smashed the peas in. The resulting smash was an earthy garnish for a very simple roasted beet soup. I just pureed roasted beets with some broth and water for the freshest dose of magenta beets. 

Monday, June 18, 2012

Braised Cinnamon Tofu

I used to wait tables with a guy who refused to eat tofu because soy contains too much estrogen. I laughed, because it seemed like such a ridiculous thing to worry about. Did he think he'd sprout breasts just from having tofu in his pad see ew? I ignored his frivolous worry and continued to enjoy tofu often. Recently I've been more concerned about tofu, though. I've read a couple of very silly extremist articles condemning soy products. Did you know they have high levels of goistrogen, protease inhibitors, and phytates?!??!!??? I have no idea what any of those are, and I can't figure out if I should actually be concerned. Should I stop eating tofu because of all the scary soy problems? Are the people who complain about soy just overreacting? The jury is still out. Meanwhile, I think I'll enjoy some absurdly delicious braised cinnamon tofu.  

Braised Cinnamon Tofu
serves three

This soupy dish from one of Nina Simonds' cookbooks wins all tofu competitions. It's warming and hearty, but extremely healthy (if you ignore the cries of the tofu haters). Make sure to start with plenty of time before you want to serve, because this cooks forever, but it's worth it! The house will smell lovely. This recipe is very easy to make vegetarian or vegan. 

1/2 t safflower or corn oil
3 garlic cloves, sliced thin
3 slices fresh ginger, about the size of a quarter each, smashed lightly with the side of a knife
1/2 t hot chile paste
1 stick cinnamon
1/2 t anise seed
1/4 c soy sauce
3 cups chicken stock, veggie stock, or water
1 pound firm tofu, cut into 1 inch cubes
1/2 pound spinach, rinsed
1 1/2 T minced scallion greens, to garnish

Heat a large pot or casserole over medium-high heat with the oil. When hot, add the garlic, ginger, chile paste, cinnamon, and anise. Stir fry until fragrant (about 15 seconds), then add soy sauce and water. Heat until boiling. Add the tofu and boil again.

Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer. Skim the surfact to remove impurities and fat. Cook one hour on low heat. Remove ginger slices and cinnamon stick.

Add the spinach and heat until the spinach is wilted. Ladle the mixture into serving bowls and serve garnished with scallions.