Monday, August 31, 2009

steamed buns

we just got a bamboo steamer and didn't want to waste any time putting it to work. the original plan was dumplings and buns but, unfortunately, egg-free dumpling wrappers were nowhere to be found. but that's no problem, it just meant two different kinds of buns! and you can never have too many buns, right?

this was my first attempt at steamed buns and i think it went well for the most part. the dough was exactly what i wanted...not too thick and not too heavy, just a nice light compliment to the fillings. the first filling is an earthy tvp (that would be textured vegetable protein) and shiitake mixture, the second is a bright and fresh asparagus one.

as i said, these were a success but that's not to say i didn't learn a few things for my next bun-making venture. one of those lessons would be, don't crowd the steamer! i put 12 in at a time and they really did look like they had plenty of growing room. however when they were done steaming and i took the top off we had a lovely bunch of pull-apart-style steamed buns. that's ok though. the bigger lesson? if you don't have enough room for them all to rise at the same time in the steamer, don't leave the second batch to rise on a baking sheet covered with a damp kitchen towel. the towel will not stay damp and will stick to the top of your buns turning your second batch of buns into a free-form steamed mass of dough and filling. still tasty i'm sure but certainly not something that you can still claim as a bun.

now with that in mind, on to the recipes!

tvp and shiitake filling
1/2 cup tvp
1/4 cup water
1/2 teaspoon fresh grated ginger
1 clove garlic, minced
2 teaspoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons scallions, minced
4 tablespoons shiitakes, minced
1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper

mix the tvp and water to reconstitute. add the rest of the ingredients and mix well. set aside.

asparagus filling
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
1 garlic clove, minced
12 ounces fresh asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 8-ounce can water chestnuts, drained
3 scallions, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1/4 teaspoon coarse salt

place the ginger and garlic in a food processor, and mince. add asparagus and the rest of the ingredients, adding in batches if necessary, and pulse until the ingredients are finely chopped but not pureed. set aside.

steamed bun dough
(makes 24 buns)
1 tablespoon active dry yeast
3/4 cup warm water
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon sugar
1 3/4 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
lettuce or cabbage leaves, for lining steamer tray

dissolve the yeast in 1/4 cup warm water. Add 1 teaspoon sugar, 1/4 cup flour, and stir to mix well. allow to stand for 30 minutes until bubbly.

mix in remaining warm water, remaining flour and sugar, salt, and vegetable oil. knead until dough surface is smooth and elastic (i used my stand mixer with dough hook for this). roll over in a greased bowl, and let stand until tripled in size, about 2 1/2 hours.

punch down dough, and spread out on a floured board. sprinkle baking powder evenly on surface, and knead for 5 minutes. divide dough into 2 parts, and place the piece you are not working with in a covered bowl. form each half into a log about 2 inches thick. cut logs into 12 1-inch pieces and roll each into a ball. cover with a damp towel.

working with 1 piece of dough at a time, press into a thin disc shape. place about 1 tablespoon of filling in center, and then gather up edges and twist to seal, using some extra drops of water to stick together as needed. cover with a damp kitchen towel and repeat with remaining dough.

line bamboo steamer tray with lettuce or cabbage leaves. place buns, sealed side down, in bamboo steamer tray and let rise for 45 minutes (careful not to crowd them). meanwhile, heat water to boiling in a wok or pot to a level just below the bamboo steamer.

place bamboo steamer in wok and steam buns for 20 to 25 minutes, and then remove from heat.

i made a simple dipping sauce of soy sauce, a little water, a little garlic and a bit of hot chili oil.


Thursday, August 27, 2009

lemon and thyme pear compote

i love the combination of fruit and herbs. a little sweet with a little savory equals a lot of delicious! in this case they came together in the form of pears and thyme with a bit of lemon juice thrown in for some tartness. the recipe comes from bon appetit and is paired with a buttermilk cake, which is what i did, but i think that the compote plopped over a scoop of vanilla ice cream would be an equally delicious and oh-so-easy dessert. the recipe below is to top an 8-inch cake. i have a 9-inch cake pan and felt that the pear chunks were a little sparse so if you're making a 9-inch cake i would suggest throwing in a little bit more pear. also, bon appetit provides a buttermilk cake recipe but i just went with the raspberry buttermilk cake (minus the raspberries) because, well, i love it and it's easy.

lemon and thyme pear compote
(from bon appetit, september 2009)
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
2 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 teaspoons finely grated lemon peel, divided
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves, divided
1 pound firm but ripe Bosc pears, peeled, halved, cored, cut into 1/2-inch cubes (about 2 1/2 cups)

combine 3/4 cup sugar, 1/2 cup water, lemon juice, 3/4 teaspoon lemon peel, and 3/4 teaspoon thyme in medium saucepan. stir over medium heat until sugar dissolves and mixture boils. remove saucepan from heat; cover. let steep 10 minutes. pour syrup through fine strainer set over bowl. return syrup to saucepan. add 3/4 teaspoon lemon peel and 3/4 teaspoon thyme and bring to simmer. add pear cubes and simmer over medium heat until pears are tender but still hold shape, about 10 minutes. using slotted spoon, transfer pear to rimmed baking sheet (or a plate). boil syrup in saucepan until reduced to 1/3 cup, about 5 minutes (note: mine took a bit longer to reduce). transfer reduced syrup to blender. add 1/3 cup pear pieces; puree until smooth. transfer pear puree to medium bowl. add remaining pear pieces to puree. DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill.

to make an upside down cake, grease and flour your cake pan and line the bottom with parchment. bake until golden and almost cooked all the way through. remove from oven and let cool in pan about 15 minutes. once cool, invert onto a flat plate and remove parchment. re-grease the same pan and line bottom with fresh parchment. spread compote over the bottom and carefully place the cake back in the pan. cook until cake is golden and a tester comes out clean. let cool in pan for about 5 minutes and invert onto plate.


Sunday, August 23, 2009


This dish was inspired by ratatouille, and I suppose, in a round about way, by Julia Child. She has been on the air lately, with the Julie/Julia movie release and all the related press. I have always sort of idolized her, watching reruns of the French Chef when I was a child. She was definitely the first "celebrity chef" I was aware of, and I found My Life in France a truly moving memoir. I cried the day that she died, and I think I cried when I finished reading the book. There is something truly inspiring about someone who has that "Aha!" moment, and runs with it.

So. I was at my Mom's house, with Julia Child on the brain. We had a lot of beautiful fresh vegetables from my grandfather, and local goat cheese from the grower's market, and I wanted to make a not-too-heavy side dish. So I sliced up a zucchini, and a yellow squash, some baby eggplants, and tomatoes. I arranged them on a platter, drizzled with olive oil, sprinkled with salt and pepper, the crumbled goat cheese and a generous handful of chopped basil and baked the whole thing for about 20 minutes in a 325 degree oven. And it was delish! You could do this with a variety of veggies, but I liked this particular combo. Enjoy :)

- e

Friday, August 21, 2009

spicy soba noodles with shiitakes and cabbage

moving cross country is a great way to force yourself to get rid of stuff. one of my projects in preparation for the move was sorting through piles upon piles of cooking magazines and ripping out the recipes i wanted keep before tossing the rest. it felt great at the time cause i found a lot of forgotten recipes that i wanted to try...but now here they are in a folder in san francisco forgotten again. though every now and then i remember to flip through them and swear that one day i will make it through them all! one at a time, one at a time....

i think of this as a sort of fancier version of our sesame noodles. in this recipe the scallions and cabbage are cooked but still keep a nice crunch. i loved the addition of edamame which added a nice little bite, and shiitakes....well...they're always good in my book! this recipe is definitely a winner and quick and easy enough for a weeknight meal. we also had tons leftover and it was delicious cold for lunch.

spicy soba noodles with shiitakes and cabbage
(from gourmet, august 2007)
1/3 cup water
1/3 cup soy sauce
2 to 3 teaspoons korean hot-pepper paste*
1 tablespoon packed brown sugar
3 tablespoons sesame seeds (i used black ones cause we have tons of them)
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 tablespoons finely chopped peeled ginger
1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic
10 oz shiitakes, stemmed and thinly sliced
1/2 head green cabbage, thinly sliced
6 scallions, thinly sliced
8 to 9 oz soba noodles
1 cup frozen shelled edamame

stir together water, soy sauce, hot-pepper paste and brown sugar until the sugar is dissolved and set aside.

toast sesame seeds in a dry skillet over medium heat, stirring until pale golden. transfer to a small bowl.

heat oil over medium-high heat and saute ginger and garlic, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. add shiitakes and saute, stirring frequently, until tender and starting to brown, about 6 minutes. reduce heat to medium, then add cabbage and most of the scallions (reserve a few for garnish) and cook, stirring occasionally, until cabbage is crisp-tender, about 6 minutes. add sauce and simmer a couple more minutes.

while cabbage is cooking, cook soba and edamame together in boiling salted water until noodles are just tender (check package cooking times). drain in colander and rinse with cold water then drain again. transfer to a large bowl and toss with sesame seeds and vegetable mixture. sprinkle with reserved scallions.

*we actually had a big tub of korean hot-pepper paste in the fridge that our neighbors gave us when they moved! i was excited to see this in the recipe as i had never used it before. well...i dug it out of the fridge only to discover it expired a year ago. i hadn't be opened but....i didn't want to risk it. so i used red curry paste instead. not the same i know but dinner was yummy so who cares.


Tuesday, August 18, 2009

avocado springrolls

these were inspired by a dish i used to be obsessed with...the avocado eggrolls at the cheesecake factory. sadly, last time i had them they were not as good as they used to be but that's probably for the best. anyway, i still think that the idea is brilliant: crispy fried outside housing a warm, creamy inside of mashed avocado goodness.

for my filling i used the asian guacamole which is one component of a salad in the artful vegan. i used the same wrappers that shawn and kate used when they had us over this night. i remember them saying that the wrappers were really weird to work with and they weren't kidding! they don't stick to themselves at all but once fried they do hold a shape. use whatever wrapper you choose but don't be too worried if they seem like they're not working...i bet your problems will be solved when you start to fry. although i would recommend rolling them as tightly as you can to prevent too much oil from seeping inside when you fry them. one thing that i really loved about making these rather than traditional springrolls is that they are so much easier to assemble! none of this careful placing and stacking of ingredients, just plop a blob of guac on there, roll it up and move on!

avocado springrolls
(makes enough filling for about 15 springrolls)
4 scallions, green part only, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 jalapeno chili, seeded and minced
2 teaspoons fresh ginger, minced
1 cup jicama, diced
1/2 cup cucumber, diced
2 avocados, mashed but with some chunks
juice of 2 limes
4 teaspoons toasted sesame seeds
1 teaspoon salt
springroll wrappers
canola oil, for frying

combine all the filling ingredients in a bowl and mix well.

place the wrapper with a point facing you. put a large spoonful of filling in the lower third of the wrapper. roll the point over the filling, fold in the sides and continue to roll tightly. repeat until you are out of filling.

heat a few inches of canola oil in a deep pan or medium sized pot. fry each roll until golden brown. eat alone or with a dipping sauce (i made a tamarind based sauce).


Sunday, August 16, 2009

black eyed pea fritters with spicy dipping sauce

black eyed peas are a food that i love but never seem to incorporate into my dishes. i think it was a sign when i stumbled across two recipes for black eyed pea fritters, one in vegan soul kitchen and one in vegnews magazine, that it was time to stop ignoring these delightful little peas. both recipes sounded equally tasty but i opted for the one in vegnews due to the shorter chilling time. like my first stab at empanadas i feel that choosing a recipe out of laziness or impatience backfired. though the called for chilling time was only 20 minutes they were not nearly firm enough at that point. i think they could use a full hour (as the other recipe suggested). anyway, i believe these are west african in origin and they pack a lot of flavor and some heat into each little fritter thanks to the abundance of spices. once i figured out how to work around their non-firmness* they fried up into perfect little fritters. while i played it safe and stuck with my fork, kris was brave enough to pick one up and dip and eat it....and it didn't fall apart! if that's not a successful fritter i don't know what is. and as a compromise, i paired them with the suggested spicy dipping sauce for the vegan soul kitchen fritters.

black eyed pea fritters
(from vegnews)
15 ounce can black eyed peas, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup onion, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 hot chili seeded and minced
1/4 cup red bell pepper, minced
1/2 teaspoon fresh ginger, minced or grated
1 1/2 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon coriander
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 cup coarse cornmeal (or whatever cornmeal you have)
canola oil for frying (about 2 cups)

in a food processor, process black eyed peas. add onion, garlic, chili, bell pepper and spices and process until smooth. shape into 1 1/2 inch fritters and refrigerate, about one hour.

place cornmeal in a shallow bowl and dredge fritters on both sides. heat oil over medium heat and fry fritter until golden on both sides. move to a plate lined with paper towels to drain before servings.

earlier in the day we stopped in our favorite plant store plant it earth. while paying for our purchase i noticed a little bowl of orange peppers and a sign saying "take one!" the woman who rang us up kept warning me that they are SUPER hot little habanero chilis and to be careful. well wouldn't ya know that the spicy dipping sauce called for a habanero. it was meant to be. i know all the pictures aren't really necessary but it was so cute i had to do a whole photoshoot.....and i just can't keep it to myself. seriously, is this not the cutest pepper you have ever seen!?

hot pepper sauce
(from vegan soul kitchen)
1/4 cup olive oil
1 small red onion, diced
1/2 tsp cumin
1/8 tsp cayenne
coarse sea salt
1 large clove garlic, minced
1 habanero chili, minced
1/4 c tomato paste
1/4 c tomato sauce
2 tsp apple cider vinegar
1/4 c water
1/4 tsp white pepper

in a saucepan over low heat, warm the oil. add the onion, cumin, cayenne and 1/2 tsp salt and saute until the onions start to caramelize, about 8 minutes.

stir in the garlic and chili and saute for 2 minutes more. add the tomato paste, tomato sauce, vinegar, and water. mix well and simmer until it starts to thicken, about 5-7 minutes.

transfer all ingredients to a blender, add the pepper and puree until smooth. season with additional salt to taste.

*if your fritters aren't firm after awhile in the fridge and you don't feel like waiting any longer just roll the blob around in the cornmeal then form it into a ball incorporating the cornmeal. flatten the ball a bit and toss some more cornmeal on the outside and you should be good to go and fry away. just be gentle when flipping.


Wednesday, August 12, 2009

rye bread

we recently made the tempeh rubens from veganomicon (amazing!) and what better time to test out a rye bread recipe? i looked around online and settled on one that appears to be from artisan bread in 5 minutes a day. the taste was perfect! it tasted just like deli rye bread. however, the loaves were small and did not rise as i had hoped. so i recently took another stab at it. instead of dividing the dough into multiple loaves as suggested i made one large loaf and changed the cooking and shaping method to that of my never-fail easy bread. it worked out great and we have one nice big 'ol loaf of rye bread perfect for sandwiches or just eating plain.

this recipe is really easy because, much like easy bread, it does not require kneading. and, even better, it only takes about 3 hours start to finish!

rye bread
(adapted from artisan bread in 5 minutes a day)
makes 4 1-pound loaves*
3 cups lukewarm water
1 1/2 tablespoons yeast
1 1/2 tablespoons salt
1 1/2 tablespoons caraway seeds, plus more for sprinkling
1 cup rye flour
5 1/2 cups all purpose flour
cornmeal for sprinkling
cornstarch for cornstarch wash

mix the yeast, salt and caraway seeds with the water in a large bowl. mix in the remaining dry ingredients without kneading. cover with a towel and allow to rest at room temperature for about 2 hours. at this point, you can prepare the dough for baking or store in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.

dust the dough and the counter with flour and stretch the dough and fold the sides in over each other. stretch the dough again in the other direction and fold in thirds one more time. form into a nice little round.** place dough in a 9-inch pie plate, dusted with cornmeal, and allow to rise again for about 40 minutes.

preheat the oven to 500 with an empty pan of some sort on the shelf underneath the one you plan to bake on.

whisk together a tablespoon of cornstarch and 3 tablespoons of water. brush the top of the loaf with the mixture and sprinkle with additional caraway seeds.

when your oven is heated, place some ice cubes in the empty pan. bake the loaf for 10 minutes at 500, 10 minutes at 450 and 10 minutes at 350, removing the loaf from the pan for the final 10 minutes of baking. when done, the loaf should sound hollow when tapped on the bottom. if it doesn't give it a few more minutes at 350. allow to cool before slicing or eating.

*as i mentioned i had some issues when i divided the dough. the first time i cut the recipe in half and made two loaves. the second time i halved it and made one loaf and was pleased with the result.
**was that confusing? watch the easy bread video for visuals.


Tuesday, August 11, 2009

roasted plantain pieces with roasted garlic-lime dipping sauce

my previous experiences with plantains always involved making them into fritters and pan frying them. it's a great way to enjoy them but simply roasting them, as in this recipe, is such a great way to bring out their sweetness. it also gives them a nice brown crispy crust that is a nice contrast to the soft inside. we gobbled these up as a dinner side but i think they would be a fantastic dinner party appetizer...just make lots cause they'll go fast! the dipping sauce that goes with them is equally delicious. you will probably have quite a bit leftover but i'm sure you'll find many good uses...i used it as salad dressing.

roasted plantains
(from vegan soul kitchen)
3 large, slightly ripe yellow plantains, ends cut off, peeled, cut in half lengthwise and cut into 1/2 inch pieces widthwise
1 tablespoon olive oil

preheat oven to 450.
in a small bowl, toss the plantains and the olive oil. transfer to a parchment lined baking sheet and cook, stirring a few times to ensure even browning, until crisp on the outside and starting to turn golden brown, about 30 minutes.

roasted lime garlic dipping sauce
(from vegan soul kitchen)
all the cloves from one head of roasted garlic*
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon minced cilantro
1/4 cup lime juice
1/4 cup water
1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
white pepper

in a blender combine all ingredients, except pepper, until creamy. season with salt and pepper to taste.

*to roast garlic, cut off just enough from the top of the bulb so that the cloves are exposed. drizzle olive oil over the top and wrap tightly in foil. roast at 325 until cloves are soft, about 1 hour.


stuffed tomatoes

Gratuitous vegetable photo. These are all from my grandfather's (Pop's!) garden. We made lots of things with them, like my second version of these fantastic stuffed tomatoes. Nothing beats fresh produce!!

So, the stuffed tomatoes . . . Kind of a recipe, kind of not. For dinner for one, with lots of leftovers, cook one cup of arborio rice in 2 cups of water, for about 20 minutes, or until the grains were soft and all water was absorbed.

For the filling, saute half a red onion and one clove of garlic in olive oil, until the onion is softened, and the garlic is fragrant. Then add in one zucchini - halved lengthwise, then sliced into little half moons - season liberally with salt and pepper and saute for about 5 to 7 minutes. Remove from heat.

To prepare your tomatoes - slice off the top, remove the core, and then scoop the flesh out of the tomato with a spoon. You'll have a nice little vessel to stuff with rice! Add the scooped out flesh to your onion zucchini mixture.

Finally, add the rice to the onion/zucchini/tomato mixture. Add in about 2 tablespoons chopped basil, 2 tablespoons chopped parsley, 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Stuff the tomatoes with the rice mixture, making sure to pack it into the cavity, and mound on top. Sprinkle with extra cheese, herbs, and bread crumbs, if you like. Place in an oven proof dish, and bake at 350 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes, until tops are lightly browned. Enjoy!

- e

Monday, August 10, 2009

blueberry ginger mojitos

not too long ago erin and i were chatting and she mentioned a mojito that she made with vodka and blueberries and basil (i think) it sounded really yummy and refreshing and hopefully she will share the recipe (hint hint). but it got me thinking about a blueberry mojito recipe that kris and i saw featured on a food network show...oh geez...probably years ago at this point. they are made with vodka instead of rum and include muddled blueberries as well as the traditional mint and lime and get a little extra kick from a ginger infused simple syrup. right up my alley! you can certainly make these individually in separate glasses but the silly thing is that i never made them because i wanted to make a nice big refreshing pitcher of them. and i didn't have a nice pitcher (or any pitcher...i wasn't that picky!). but this past weekend, thanks to being engaged and having gifts occasionally show up at the apartment, we were finally armed with nice, brand new pitcher (thanks mo and tom!!!) and mojitos were made! and what timing with blueberries being in season.

these did not disappoint. they are really yummy and refreshing on a hot day (and it actually felt like summer here!). the only thing is that we found the recipe as written a bit sweet for our taste. i would suggest adding the simple syrup in smaller increments, to taste.

blueberry, ginger mojitos
(the quantities below will make about two large mojitos so multiply if you're doing a pitcher)
1 cup fresh blueberries
1 lime, cut into wedges
20 to 24 fresh mint leaves
4 ounces ginger simple syrup (recipe below, add gradually to taste)
4 ounces vodka
5 ounces club soda
ice cubes
blueberries, for garnish
mint leaves, for garnish

put the blueberries, lime wedges and fresh mint leaves in the pitcher and muddle until the blueberries are broken and the mint and lime release their juices and flavor. add the simple syrup, vodka and top off with club soda. give it a little stir and pour into glasses with ice cubes. garnish with blueberries and mint if you want to be fancy.

ginger simple syrup
1/4 cup grated fresh ginger
1 cup sugar
1 cup cold water

peel and grate the ginger and add it, together with the sugar and cold water, to a saucepan. bring it to the boil and stir until the sugar dissolves. cover and let steep for 15 minutes. strain and cool in the refrigerator when done.


apricot bbq sauce/glaze

A week ago, I was home to belatedly celebrate my mother's birthday, as well as the return of my brother and his wife from a summer in Italy, when I dreamed up this sauce. While my brother has a special place in his heart for all things Italian, I knew he had been craving non-Italian food. I suppose a summer of eating pasta and delicious gelato might do that to you . . . so I wanted to make him a thoroughly American dinner. I made this sauce, to go with a spice-rubbed pork tenderloin (which I served with a green bean salad and made-from-scratch chili cornbread). The sauce nothing earth shaking, but when made with beautiful, farmer's market fresh apricots, it really is something else! You could use it as a condiment with pork, chicken, or a bbq-ed tofu. I also think it might be tasty on a ciabatta (or other crusty bread) sandwich with mild goat cheese and arugula. Enjoy!

1 pint apricots, halved and pitted
1 jalepeno pepper, seeds removed, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons light brown sugar
2 tablespoons orange juice
1/2 teaspoon chipotle chili powder
1/4 teaspoon ancho chili powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add garlic and jalepeno, saute until garlic becomes fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add apricots, and cook until they begin to soften and release some of their juices, about 5 minutes.

Add brown sugar, stirring to dissolve, then add orange juice, chili powders, and salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until combined and sauce begins to thicken, 5 to 7 minutes. Remove from heat. Can be made ahead and reheated!

- e

Thursday, August 6, 2009

spiced chickpea sauce

the last page of gourmet this month features five no-cook pasta sauces perfect for when it's sweltering out and you don't want to hang around a hot stove. though it's not even remotely hot here and i have no excuse to avoid the stove but i do lovelovelove chickpeas and i suppose that is what drew me to want to make this. when i suggested it to kris he asked if i have a daily chickpea requirement...i didn't realize i was that bad! maybe i'll try to lay off 'em for a little bit.

we had the sauce over pasta as suggested and i added some zucchini just because. i think the sauce would also be good over a bowl of quinoa (or bulgar or whatever grain you're feeling) and vegetables or tofu. anyway, it comes together very quickly. if you start your pasta and make this as it cooks i bet your timing will be perfect. i crushed up the whole spices a little before putting them in the food processor, not necessary but maybe a good idea if you, too, sometimes question the power of your processor. oh also! if you have a hefty collection of spices at home this will be a really cheap dinner. i only spent $3.48 for dinner for two plus leftovers...can't complain about that!

spiced chickpea sauce
(gourmet, august 2009)
1 (19 oz) can chickpeas, rinsed and drained, divided*
1/3 cup olive oil
6 black peppercorns
3 whole allspice
1 1/2 teaspoons cumin seeds
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1 small red onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
1/2 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 pound penne, cooked and drained, reserving 1 cup cooking water; lemon wedges

puree half of chickpeas with oil, spices, oregano, sugar, lemon juice, and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a food processor until almost smooth.

transfer puree to a large bowl and stir in remaining chickpeas, onion, and herbs.

toss hot penne with sauce. thin with some of the reserved cooking water.

*i couldn't find a 19 ounce can of chickpeas so i used a 15 ounce can and just went a little scant on all the other measurements and everything worked out just fine. i also only cooked a half pound of pasta, plus a zucchini, and i think it was a good amount of sauce.


Tuesday, August 4, 2009

raspberry buttermilk cake

i have made this cake twice now. the first time was for a bbq when we were in atlanta about a month ago. deb wrote about a raspberry buttermilk cake on smitten kitchen and i thought it looked so simple and was convinced that, yes, this is the perfect cake to make in a hurry. it got rave reviews and was polished off in no time at all! i made a vegan version and i think my brother was a little upset that i wasn't cranking these out when he was vegan and i was...12. better late than never!

the second time i made this cake was last weekend and i made it by accident. i mean...i did mean to make a cake...i just didn't mean to make the same one. i flipped through some magazines and saw this in gourmet and thought "hey! that looks really yummy and kind of like the awesome cake i made in atlanta." i think i was about half way through when i realized that yes, it's the same recipe. but i wasn't even disappointed. i was just excited to get to eat this cake again. that's how fantastic it is! and once again, rave reviews all around.

so in case you missed this recipe or just want an excuse to make it again (if you don't have an excuse, just pretend you don't realize it's the same one. it's ok. nobody will tell) here's the recipe again. and to shake things up, here's the vegan version.

raspberry buttermilk cake
(vegan version adapted from gourmet, june 2009)
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 stick unsalted margarine
2/3 cup plus 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar, divided
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon cornstarch mixed with 3 tablespoons water
1/2 cup soymilk
1/2 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 cup fresh raspberries (about 5 ounces)

preheat oven to 400 with rack in middle. butter and flour a 9-inch round cake pan.

mix apple cider vinegar into soymilk and set aside to curdle.

whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

beat margarine and 2/3 cup sugar with a mixer at medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 2 minutes, then beat in vanilla. add cornstarch mixture and beat well.

at low speed, mix in flour mixture in three batches, alternating with curdled soymilk, beginning and ending with flour and mixing until just combined.

spoon batter into cake pan, smoothing top. scatter raspberries evenly over top and sprinkle with remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar.

bake until cake is golden and a wooden pick inserted into center comes out clean, 25-30 minutes. cool in pan 10 minutes, then turn out onto a rack to cool to warm, 10-15 minutes more. invert onto a plate and serve!