Thursday, December 31, 2009

curried no-meat balls

for chrismukkah i got several new cookbooks to add to the collection, one of them is vegan fire and spice by robin robertson. it's a collection of spicy vegan recipes from around the world and i wasted no time breaking it in. first up? the chickpea based curried no-meat balls from india cooked in a yogurty tomato sauce. the book suggested serving them over basmati rice, which i'm sure would be really good and would soak up the sauce well, but we had a rice-y dinner the night before so i served them over smokey sauteed rainbow chard. i really liked the flavors (and that's what really matters) and would make them again but i did have a few issues with the recipe. the balls were very fragile and difficult to brown without crumbling. i found it was easier to brown them in a non-stick pan with the thinnest coating of oil rather than using more oil as the recipe instructed. i did use a potato masher instead of a ricer to mash the chickpeas....maybe that's why. i would also recommend chopping the ingredients for the balls as finely as possible. anyway! here's the recipe, with some notes.

curried no-meat balls
(from vegan fire and spice)
1 1/2 cups cooked or 1 (15.5 ounce) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 small yellow onion very finely chopped, divided
1/4 cup finely chopped peanuts
1/2 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
1 teaspoon fresh cilantro or 1/2 teaspoon dried cilantro
2 teaspoons curry powder
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom (i used 2 cardamom pods and removed them before serving)
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
14.5 ounces crushed tomatoes
1 cup vegan yogurt (i used one 6 ounce container. i couldn't find plain so i used vanilla and it was fine)
1 teaspoon chopped fresh parsley

place the chickpeas in a bowl and blot dry. use a potato ricer (or masher) to mash the chickpeas. add half of the chopped onion, the peanuts, ginger, cilantro, 1 teaspoon of the curry powder, 1/8 teaspoon of cayenne and salt to taste. mix well, then shape into 1-inch balls. heat just enough oil to thinly coat a non stick pan and brown the balls on all sides. remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.

heat another glug of oil on the same skillet. add the remaining onion and brown lightly. add the garlic, cinnamon, cardamom, turmeric, coriander, the remaining 1 teaspoon of curry powder, the remaining 1/8 teaspoon of cayenne and salt to taste. cook, stirring for 2 minutes, then stir in the tomatoes and simmer for 5 minutes, to blend the flavors. remove the pan from the heat and whisk in the yogurt. carefully add the balls to the sauce, and warm over low heat without boiling. serve garnished with parsley.


Wednesday, December 23, 2009

stuffed shells

the original plan for this dinner was manicotti but, upon noticing that every (visible) noodle in every box was broken, i switched my focus to the lovely, intact jumbo shells. same dinner, different look.

there's not so much of a recipe here because, really, stuffed shells is pretty self explanatory. start by cooking the shells* and making a batch of your favorite pasta sauce. drain the shells. pour a thin layer of sauce in the bottom of a baking dish or oven safe pan. stuff your shells with the mixture of your choice. what did i do? i made a batch of cashew ricotta from veganomicon and mixed in one package of thawed frozen spinach. place stuffed shells in baking dish and pour the rest of your sauce on top. cover and bake at 350 for about 40 minutes or until it is sufficiently heated all the way through.

like i said it's not genius or new, but it is super delicious and comfy and a good idea to keep in mind when you want to put a little twist on your normal old spaghetti and red sauce.

*that box of shells is deceiving! or maybe i just have poor dried-pasta-in-a-box to cooked-pasta-as-dinner skills, but as i asked i cook the whole box? i thought yeah! sure! why not!? we want to have leftovers for lunch. and indeed we do. for about a week.


Sunday, December 20, 2009

holiday baking and candy-making

The weather outside is frightful, as snowflakes spiral through brisk winter air and the streets are blanketed in snow. What better day to stay in with a hot cup of tea, holiday tunes playing, and catching up on the Yumcoast?

Last weekend, in a rush of holiday spirit, I decided to invite my friend Joan (that's her below, sprinkling chopped hazelnuts over the toffee) over for some holiday candy making. I saw this recipe on Smitten Kitchen, and given my love for toffee and all things coffee, just had to make it. As an inexperienced candy maker, I followed the directions to the letter (with one exception – Whole Foods was all out of molasses, so I purchased I deep, dark, rich buckwheat honey. It tastes nearly as rich as molasses, without the bitterness. I can’t wait to use it in other baking projects!), realized that I may have a faulty candy thermometer, and ended up burning the first batch. The second try garnered better results, but erring on the side of caution, we slightly undercooked the sugar, resulting a texture closure to fudge – or, dare I say it, Butterfingers – than a nice, crisp toffee. It is still quite delicious, and I’m thinking of using it in cookies . . .

And because simply making toffee isn’t quite enough for one Sunday afternoon, we also decided to make Ina Garten’s Ultimate Ginger Cookies. The recipe was a little odd for a cookie recipe – oil instead of butter, a very dry dough – but the end result was pleasant. I would like to try making them again, possibly replacing the ground ginger with freshly grated ginger, and attempting to replace the oil with melted butter.

Ultimate Ginger Cookies
From Barefoot Contessa at Home

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup dark brown sugar, lightly packed
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup unsulfured molasses
1 extra-large egg, at room temperature
1 1/4 cups chopped crystallized ginger (6 ounces)
Granulated sugar, for rolling the cookies

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 sheet pans with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, ginger, and salt and then combine the mixture with your hands. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the brown sugar, oil, and molasses on medium speed for 5 minutes. Turn the mixer to low speed, add the egg, and beat for 1 minute. Scrape the bowl with a rubber spatula and beat for 1 more minute. With the mixer still on low, slowly add the dry ingredients to the bowl and mix on medium speed for 2 minutes. Add the crystallized ginger and mix until combined.

Scoop the dough with 2 spoons or a small ice cream scoop. With your hands, roll each cookie into a 1 3/4-inch ball and then flatten them lightly with your fingers. Press both sides of each cookie in granulated sugar and place them on the sheet pans. Bake for exactly 13 minutes. The cookies will be crackled on the top and soft inside. Let the cookies cool on the sheets for 1 to 2 minutes, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

chipotle mushroom squares

basically, this recipe was created around white russians. kris and i have had the drink on our minds for awhile now and last night we finally decided to make vegan white russians (almond milk + kahlua + vodka = delish!). but what food pairs well with white russians? i had no clue as, honestly, i had never had one before. kris suggested mexican which got me thinking that something spicy would be a nice contrast with the cool, creamy beverage. and in an ongoing attempt to use up things that have been hanging around patiently waiting to be eaten, i decided it was about time to do something with that one last sheet of puff pastry in the freezer. thus, chipotle mushroom squares were born! flaky puff pastry topped with a smooth spicy chipotle pinto puree with sauteed mushrooms, these were definitely a successful experiment. after baking i added a bit of simple slaw (cabbage, olive oil, red wine vinegar, salt and pepper) on top for some crunch.

chipotle mushroom squares

1 sheet puff pastry, thawed (pepperidge farm brand is vegan)

pinto puree ingredients:
1 (15 ounce) can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
1 chipotle pepper, from a can packed in adobo sauce
1 tablespoon adobo sauce
juice of 1 lime
1 tablespoon peanut oil
salt to taste

mushroom ingredients:
3 cups (a little less than a pound) mushrooms, chopped (i used a mixture of button and cremini)
1/2 small red onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/8 teaspoon liquid smoke
salt and pepper to taste
olive oil

first make sure your pastry is thawed. you can thaw it on the counter for 40 minutes.

preheat oven to 400 and lightly grease a baking sheet with olive oil.

to make the puree, put all ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth. note that this was quite spicy, if you want it less spicy omit the chipotle or only add half.

for the mushrooms, heat a splash of olive oil in a pan and add the garlic and onion. cook until they are softened. add the spices and stir and cook another minute. add the mushrooms and saute until they are softened and begin to release moisture. taste and adjust seasoning if needed. remove from heat.

to assemble the squares first unroll your pastry and lightly brush it with olive oil. cut it into 9 squares. dollop some of the pinto puree onto the center of each square. top each with a spoonful of mushrooms (you will probably have a little of each leftover). bake for about 18 minutes or until the pastry is golden brown.

remove from oven and top each square with a little cabbage slaw and enjoy! white russians not required but highly recommended.


Sunday, December 6, 2009

crunchy soba bowl

i made a soba bowl to go with our tofu satay last week. i decided on a light sauce to drizzle over the noodles to balance out the heavier satay sauce and used vegetables we had on hand for the toppings. i loved the flavors in here but one of my favorite things about this was the contrast of the soft noodles with the crunchy vegetables which resulted in a delightfully fresh and light dish. you could easily swap out the toppings with whatever you may have hanging around but i would recommend leaving them raw if possible or just barely blanching them if needed.

crunchy soba bowl
8 tablespoons soy sauce
3 tablespoons water
1 1/2 tablespoons sesame oil
2 tablespoons mirin
3 small bunches soba
1/2 small head of cabbage, very thinly sliced
1 red pepper, quartered lenthwise and very thinly sliced
1 sheet nori, toasted* and crumbled
8 cloves of roasted garlic, thinly sliced
sesame seeds

cook the soba according to package instructions.

for the sauce, whisk the first four ingredients in a bowl (i must admit i don't remember the exact quantities of each so you might need to add a little more of this or that to adjust. sorry.). set aside.

when the noodles are done cooking assemble your bowl: place noodles in the bottom and drizzle with a bit of the sauce. top with veggies and nori and sprinkle with sesame seeds. drizzle more sauce if desired. enjoy!

*there are two easy ways to toast nori; one is to heat a pan and briefly toast the nori for a few seconds on each side, the other more fun way (if you have a gas stove) is to turn the flame up high and use tongs to wave the nori over the flame for a few seconds until toasted.


Friday, December 4, 2009

tofu satay

a few weeks ago kris and i enjoyed a fantastic tofu satay at lingba lounge and all the while we were savoring every bite to figure out the best way to recreate it at home. kris, being the smartie pants that he is, pointed out that freezing the tofu before hand would give it a nice firm texture. step one settled! from there i thawed the tofu in the fridge for a day then went through a series of cooking techniques to arrive at what i think was a pretty good finished product texture-wise. as far as the satay sauce goes i'm sure it's no where near traditional but it was peanut-y, coconut-y, a little spicy and definitely hit the spot!

tofu satay
1 block tofu, drained, cut into 8 slabs, frozen and thawed in the fridge
for the sauce
5 ounces coconut milk
1/4 cup peanut butter
1/4 onion, grated
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon brown sugar
hot sauce, to taste

to make the sauce, combine all in a saucepan over medium heat. bring to a boil, stirring frequently. remove from heat and set aside.

to cook the tofu heat a non stick skillet over medium heat and cook the tofu slabs for a few minutes on each side until lightly browned and slightly springy. heat a well oiled grill pan and cook the browned tofu on each side until grill mark appear. place on a skewer, dip and enjoy!


Tuesday, December 1, 2009

fettucini with leeks, sunchokes, and kale

I have been a very bad blogger. I'm not really sure what happened . . . or rather, I'm not sure how I have been so lazy about blogging. I'm still cooking, still inventing, but just have not made the time to record things here, on the yumcoast. And last weekend, I decided it was time to remedy the situation, after realizing I had seemingly dozens of recipes - with pictures - just waiting to be shared with you.

On my way home from work, I stopped at Whole Foods. I did not have a plan for dinner, but knew I wanted to make something healthy. My days spent at the cupcakery need to be offset by veggies and other healthy goodies, so I wandered about the produce section, uncertain what to make. I saw kale - both green and purple. Every food magazine on earth extols the virtues of this leafy green, which I enjoy a whole lot more than its friend, Swiss chard. So I picked up a bunch of kale, and leeks were lying right there too, so I grabbed one of those. While I was looking at mushrooms, I saw local sunchokes - from Vermont - and plucked a few of those as well. If you are unfamiliar with the sunchoke - or Jerusalem artichoke - it is a tuber, a relative of the sunflower, with a flavor similar to artichokes. I enjoy their earthy sweetness, and they are rather easy to prepare.

I decided to combine the kale, leeks and sunchokes in a pasta with fettucini and a few white beans. The pasta was rather delicious, and exactly what I wanted. Flavorful, balanced, healthy. and easy!

Fettucini with leeks, sunchokes, and kale
Serves 2-3

1 leek, rinsed, halved, and thinly sliced
4 sunchokes, peeled, rinsed, and sliced
1/2 bunch kale, rinsed and roughly chopped
1/2 cup vegetable stock, preferably homemade
1/2 can cannellini beans
1/2 lb fettucini, cooked according to box directions

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a 4 quart saute pan (or 12 inch frying pan) over medium high heat. Add leeks and cook until softened, 5-10 minutes. Add in sliced sunchokes, season with salt and pepper, and saute for 2-3 minutes. Add vegetable stock and bring to a boil.

In the meantime, bring a small pot of water to boil. Add 1 to 2 teaspoons salt. Add kale and boil for 2 minutes. Drain kale, remove any tough stems, and set aside.

Simmer the leek and sunchoke mixture until most of the liquid has evaporated. Add in white beans, stirring to combine. Add in kale, cooked fettucini. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve sprinkled with freshly grated parmesan.


- e