Monday, September 28, 2009

cornmeal bread

kris and i recently got home from bouncing back and forth across the country for two weeks and i'm finally settling back into normal life and getting back to a regular cooking routine. after being away from the kitchen for so long i decided to ease back into things with one of my favorite baking projects - bread. wanting to try something new, i settled on this cornmeal bread which is basically white bread with cornmeal standing in for some of the white flour. the finished product has a light toasty cornmeal taste and a slightly heartier texture than a normal white bread. we used it first to make sandwiches and later to scoop up artichoke dip on our saturday picnic.

cornmeal bread
(adapted so slightly from 1,000 vegetarian recipes)
1 cup soy milk
2/3 cup cornmeal
1/2 cup warm water
1/2 teaspoon plus 2 tablespoons sugar
2 1/4 teaspoons yeast
2 3/4 to 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons salt
3 tablespoons melted margarine

stir together the soy milk and cornmeal; set aside.

in a glass measuring cup, stir together the warm water and 1/2 teaspoon of the sugar. stir in the yeast and set aside for about 5 minutes, until foamy.

in a large bowl (i used my stand mixer) stir together 1 1/2 cups of the flour, the remaining 2 tablespoons sugar and the salt. stir in the yeast mixture, the cornmeal mixture and the melted margarine. stir in 1 cup more of the remaining flour.

turn onto a well-floured surface and knead in enough of the remaining flour until dough is elastic and no longer sticky (or pop in your dough hook and sit back while your mixer does the work).

place the kneaded dough in a large, greased bowl and cover with greased plastic wrap. let sit until doubled in bulk (about an hour or two).

punch dough down and form into a loaf. place in a greased loaf pan. cover with greased plastic wrap and let rise until doubled in bulk (probably an hour or less).

preheat oven to 375. bake for 45 to 55 minutes or until loaf is browned on top and bottom sounds hollow when tapped. cool on wire rack.


Thursday, September 17, 2009

norma's cousin diane. or something like that.

I always want to love Pasta alla Norma, the classic eggplant, tomato, ricotta baked pasta combo. But every time I have it, it's too heavy, and the eggplant is oily, and the overall experience is a huge disappointment. But today at the farmers market, I saw beautiful, skinny japanese eggplants, and all I could think of was Norma! Instead of making the classic, I decided to make a lighter, fresher version, using fresh mozzarella (from Fiore di Nonno) in place of ricotta, a light, slightly spicy fresh tomato sauce, and freshly made rigatoni from DePasquale's in the North End. The end result was exactly what I wanted - nicely melted mozzarella, delicious sauce, and perfectly cooked eggplant.

Here's the recipe - call it what you will!

Serves 4

3 cloves garlic, minced
2 Japanese eggplants, sliced into rounds
1 cherry bomb pepper
5 plum tomatoes, cored and chopped
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 lb. fresh rigatoni
1/2 ball of fresh mozzarella, cut into 1/4 inch slices
salt & pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Heat a 4 quart saute pan over medium-high heat. Add olive oil to coat bottom of pan. Once oil shimmers, add the garlic and hot pepper. Saute for one minute, until garlic is fragrant. Add eggplant, and season liberally with salt and pepper. Saute for about 5 minutes, then add the chopped tomatoes and tomato paste. Add a handleful of basil leaves. Cover, and cook, stirring occassionally, for about 10 minutes.

In the meantime, bring the pasta water to a boil, and cook the pasta according to package directions. Drain and return to pot. Add half of the tomato/eggplant sauce, and stir to coat. Pour into oven safe baking dish. Top with remaining sauce, mozzarella, salt and pepper, and a drizzle of olive oil. Bake for 15 minutes, until cheese is melted and starting to bubble.

Serve topped with a chiffonade of basil.


- e

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

congrats d & kris

This weekend, my friend and c0-blogger married her Kris. The wedding was a blast, and the food was amazing (including the vegan cupcakes pictured above). Congrats guys! xoxo, e

Thursday, September 10, 2009

roasted cauliflower with kalamata vinaigrette

roasting vegetables is never a bad idea and the latest victim to reach our oven was cauliflower. i saw this recipe and, despite the simpleness of the whole thing, was really excited to make it. it's barely more than roasted cauliflower topped with chopped up kalamata olives but it really doesn't need much more than that. roasting gives the slabs of cauliflower a hint of sweetness and nuttiness, which is nicely paired with the salty, brininess of the olives.

roasted cauliflower with kalamata vinaigrette
(from gourmet, september 2009)
1 head cauliflower
1/4 cup olive oil, divided
1 small clove garlic
1 to 2 tablespoons lemon juice (to taste)
1/4 cup pitted kalamata olives, finely chopped
salt and pepper

preheat oven to 450 with rack in lower third.

cut cauliflower lengthwise into 3/4 inch thick slices. put in a large baking pan and toss with 2 tablespoons oil and 1/2 teaspoon each of salt and pepper. roast, turning once or twice, until golden and just tender, about 20-25 minutes.

while cauliflower roasts, mince and mash the garlic to a paste with a pinch of salt, then whisk together with lemon juice, 2 tablespoons olive oil, olives, 1/8 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper.

drizzle cauliflower with vinaigrette and serve!


Monday, September 7, 2009

grilled "cheese" sammiches

lately, kris has had grilled cheese on the brain. we've previously tasted a few kinds of vegan cheese but found that they either taste weird and/or don't melt well. i've heard that there are some good ones popping up these days but we haven't tasted them because, really, i never liked cheese much anyway and don't miss it. i do, however, love tofutti better-than-cream-cheese. in a stroke of brilliance kris came up with this grilled cheese sandwich that would satisfy both of our tastes and help clean out a few items lingering in the fridge before we leave town in a couple of days. these sandwiches absolutely meet the tasty/melty/crunchy qualities necessary from a grilled cheese sandwich to satisfy that comfort food craving.

we started off with slices from this loaf of bread.

lightly butter one side of each slice. spread the other side with tofutti. we only did tofutti on one side of each sandwich but decided it would be better to do a thinner coat on both sides to make the whole thing stick together better.

layer with thin slices of tomato, red onion and avocado. top with the other piece of bread, buttered side out.

fry in a pan a couple of minutes until the bread is browned and crunchy. carefully flip to get the other side. remove from heat and add thinly sliced pickles. you could add the pickles pre-grilling but we found that they were harder to flip that way and tasted just as good with the pickles added later.

cut in half and enjoy your melty grilled "cheese" sammich!