Wednesday, January 26, 2011

flaxseed falafel

as i have mentioned before i love trying out new falafel recipes. kris found one on sfgate awhile ago and we finally got around to trying it this weekend. the recipe is packed with flax (both ground and whole seeds) which i suppose gives it an extra nutritional boost, since flax is suposedly so good for you and stuff, as well as a slightly different flavor and texture. other than that it was mostly the usual falafel-y suspects: chickpeas, parsley, lemon juice and some yummy spices including cayenne which gave these just a perfect amount of heat.
what really set these apart from my other falafel making experiences was that i did something i don't like to do. i fried them. i'm always torn between the superior crunch that frying gives and the healthiness/easiness of baking. well i went with frying this time for two reasons 1. the recipe only calls for a shallow fry not deep frying so it was really frying for wimps and 2. we finally got our hands on a bottle of rice bran oil that we read an article about and is supposed to be the best for frying and is "healthy" too blahblahblah.

i loved these! while the shallow frying made a nice crunchy top and bottom the middle stayed a little squishy which then made for great, not dried out leftovers after a night in the fridge. and because i can't make a falafel dinner but must make a falafel feast i also made flatbread, tahini, slaw and the tzatziki recipe that was with the falafel recipe. phew! here's the recipe with vegan substitutions.

flaxseed falafel

for the tzatziki:
1 cup cucumber, peeled, seeded, diced into 1/2 -inch cubes

1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

1 cup low-fat plain soygurt

1 cup vegan sour cream

1/2 teaspoon sugar

2 cloves garlic, minced

1-1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
(or add dried to taste)
for the falafel:

2 cans garbanzos, drained, liquid reserved

1 clove garlic, crushed

1/2 cup ground flaxseed

1/2 cup chopped parsley

1/4 cup fresh-squeezed lemon juice

1/2-3/4 teaspoon salt + more to taste

1/2 teaspoon ground coriander

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

3/4 cup bread crumbs

3 tablespoons whole flaxseed

1 tablespoon cornstarch mixed with 3 tablespoons water

2 tablespoons olive oil, or rice bran oil if you've got it

to prepare the tzatziki: mix diced cucumber with salt, place in a colander set over a bowl; cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for one hour. Rinse off the salt, drain well and dry cucumber on several thicknesses of paper towels. in a bowl, combine cucumber with yogurt, sour cream, sugar, garlic and dill. cover and chill at least 30 minutes and up to four hours.

to prepare the falafel: place garbanzos, garlic and 2 tablespoons reserved garbanzo liquid in a processor and pulse about 5 times, until coarsely chopped. add ground flax seed, parsley, lemon juice, salt, coriander and pepper and pulse just until mixture is combined. It should retain some texture. divide into 16 portions and shape into patties about 1 inch in diameter. combine bread crumbs and whole flax seed in a shallow dish.

in another shallow dish, combine cornstarch and water. dip each patty in the cornstarch mixture, then lightly dredge in crumb mixture. set on a rack over a baking sheet to dry for half an hour. heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat and add oil. brown falafel well on both sides, turning once.


Friday, January 21, 2011

Karls' Sausage

On New Year's Eve, just before cooking up quite the feast, Lynne, Han, A. and I headed up to Saugus to visit Karl's Sausage. A Boston-area institution since 1958, Karl's offers a wide array of tradition German meats, house-cured bacon, and imported goods. They have a German mustard (like the stein pictured above), German gummi snacks, German cookies, German breads . . . you get the idea. It is a mecca for German food lovers. In addition to picking up bacon for New Year's brunch, and a cured meat that I can't remember the name of (but it was smoky and delicious) we also snagged a few links of bauernwurst and weisswurst. We cooked both up a few days later - the weisswurst is boiled, and the casing is removed before eating. We split the bauernwurst, the grilled it in a cast iron grill pan. The weisswurst was really mild and soft, while the bauernwurst was a heartier, meatier sausage. Both were perfect, paired with a white beer, and best enjoyed on a cold winter day!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

tuscan white bean soup

robin, author of vegan fire and spice, was kind enough to send me a list of some of her favorites from the book. one of the recipes on the list was one that kris and i had bookmarked to make so that's where we began and i must say tuscan white bean soup, you were delicious!!! this is exactly the soup you crave on a chilly winter day - it's fresh and hearty and comes together in a snap. and did i mention really yummy? you've got onion, carrots and celery in a tomato broth with a perfect hint of spice and a generous sprinkle of fresh basil. add to that some white beans and you're looking at a complete meal in a bowl. we took the suggestion to add a bit of pasta to the mix for an even bigger soup! though i must say i think we went a little heavy on the pasta because our leftovers for dinner tonight were more of a pasta dish....but that's ok cause with the overnight transformation it's like we weren't really eating leftovers.

i feel like i've found my groove with this book now and look forward to more recipes for the rest of the month.


chocolate granola

I made this yesterday, and you should make it too! While we try to avoid re-blogging things here on yumcoast, some recipes are just too good not to share. And this is one of them. Not too sweet, pretty healthy, perfect on its own, or with milk, this granola is a revelation.

I have been making my own granola for some time now - and sometimes, even granola bars! - and this one is a little different. I found it a little bit drier than other granola recipes, and it didn't form very large clumps. I used a 60% Cacao Ghirardelli bar, and left the pieces pretty chunky. I also had no problem finding the millet puffs and rice puffs - I picked mine up at Harvest Coop in Cambridge, but they are also sold at Whole Foods. And just like La Tartine Gourmande, I cannot stop snacking on it! So go ahead, get baking!

Oh, and did I mention it's gluten free?

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Seasonal Breeze

We made this punch for the holidays, but it is really a perfect winter punch. The natural sweetness of the juices perfectly offset the bitterness of the Campari. And so easy to make! The recipe comes from FEAST by Nigella Lawson. Here is how you make it:

1 750ml bottle of Campari
3 cups of blood orange juice (we used freshly squeezed orange and it was amazing)
3 cups cranberry juice

The juices should be chilled. Combine all three in a large punch bowl (or glass pitcher) and float slices of regular or blood orange, along with a handful of cranberries. And enjoy!

~ e

Sunday, January 16, 2011

crispin apple cider

i'm a beer wimp. in general, i don't like hoppy beer, i don't like dark beer, i don't like bitter beer. i don't like that drinking a beer makes me feel really, really full. occasionally i will enjoy a light mexican beer or a wheat beer but i'm not exaggerating when i say it will usually take me at least an hour to finish off a pint or even a normal sized bottle. sometimes i get lucky and a bar will have a sour belgian beer that 1. doesn't taste beer-y and 2. comes in a tiny little glass (win win!) but my go to wimpy beer alternative is cider and by this time i consider myself pretty well versed in the cider options out there. my first cider love was woodchuck but i've since moved on to strongbow which is nice, dry and refreshing. magners takes second place for an available everywhere option but i find it gets too sweet after the first one. sam smith organic cider is really yummy but hard to find and ace, well, if i see you at a bar i have told myself to suck it up and just order a real beer because you just taste weird.

all that said i love trying out new ciders. after a super tough week at work i got home on friday and kris surprised me with a bottle of crispin cider. i've never seen this stuff before but the bottle looked fancy, it's big, it's organic and it's made with maple syrup. i was intrigued and excited and i've gotta say it's absolutely delicious, sweeter than strongbow but not at all syrupy sweet. i have it in a big frosty mug sitting next to me right now and i suspect i will still be drinking it when i'm done making our sushi dinner later tonight. i think it will be a lovely pairing as i'm still working on the whole enjoying sake thing. i don't expect to be lucky enough to find crispin in a bar but i will definitely buy a few more bottles from the store for a weekend afternoon treat.


a taste of louisville

For most people, Kentucky conjures thoughts of the Derby, bluegrass, bourbon ... But what I have found over the past year or so is that Kentucky, particularly the Louisville-area, is home to some truly wonderful food. While my visits are not entirely food-related the local food scene is a delicious bonus every time I visit. This week, we have been working through a long list of must-try restaurants, as well as revisiting old favorites. A little recap of the week so far:
Heine Brothers Coffee is a daily treat, and luckily one of their outposts is right around the corner, on Bardstown Road! A local roaster, Heine Brothers produces some of the best coffee I have ever had, most of it fair trade and organic. They have also partnered with several local businesses to for Breaking New Grounds, which composts coffee grounds and other food waste!
For all of the steak lovers out their, Palermo Viejo offers reasonably priced, perfectly seasoned Argentine-style steaks and sides. We tried their filet and strip steak - both on the rare side of medium - with parsley and garlic fries.

Cumberland Brews produces small batch craft beers on-site in their Bardstown Road brewery/pub. The beer is amazing, and the food is pretty tasty too. While I am not usually a fan of wings, their Jamaican Jerk wings are the perfect combination of sweet and zesty, juicy and crispy.
The Mayan Cafe, in the up-and-coming East Market Street neighborhood known as NuLu, offers dishes inspired by the traditional cuisine of the Yucatan. We tried the tamale - soft corn in a banana leaf, filled with tender steak and topped with mole; their seasonal salad, with roasted pears, crisp bacon, French feta, crunchy pepitas, and topped with a tangy pomegranate vinaigrette; traditional cochinita pibil - meltingly tender roast pork, topped with a sour and spicy achiote sauce, and served with the most amazing lima beans I have ever had (and I don't like lima beans!). The only disappointment of the evening was the Mayan Mocha. We were hoping for a spicy, cinnamon-scented mocha, but instead found something closer to hot cocoa. And it wasn't even very warm.
We discovered The Blind Pig in December, thanks to Yelp. Our first visit was so tasty that A. and I had to go back. So, back we went! Located in Butchertown, a fairly desolate, industrial nieghborhood, the Blind Pig has drawn many accolades in its first year of business, including garnering a review in the New York Times. The gastropub draws a diverse crowd, from twenty-somethings to well-heeled Louisvillians, all to try their house cured meats and enjoy the warm-ambience. Everything I have tried at the Blind Pig has been amazing, but my favorite menu item is their cassoulet - perfect, juicy duck confit, housemade garlic sausage, white beans. Basically the perfect cold-weather meal. Oh, and they also feature a small selection of creative cocktails, including the Bacon Manhattan, made with bacon-infused rye. A nice little twist on tradition.
And, finally, two new places we discovered this week - the Louisville Beer Store and the Holy Grale. Both owned by a young Louisville couple, each offers an in-depth selection of hard to find brews. The Beer Store also sells glassware, hosts regular events, including their T.A.S.T.E. Sundays and talks by industry experts. They have also paired with neighboring resto 732 Social to offer snack plates on weekend nights. The Holy Grale - opened in December 2010 in a former church - offers a rotating selection of taps, including offerings from Birra del Borgo, Goose Island, and a bottle selection. They also produce an array of tasty bar snacks in their open kitchen, like their pretzel bread with beer cheese (pictured above), kimchi tacos, and cones of delicious, Belgian-style frites, with a choice of dipping sauces (we went with the curry ketchup, which A. described as "Epic.").
For my last night in town, we are headed to Seviche for a little Latin cuisine. Yum!
~ e

Saturday, January 15, 2011

coconut quinoa

alright vegan fire and spice, time to give you another try. this time we decided to try out the indonesian coconut rice for an easy weeknight dinner, but we made it coconut quinoa instead cause we weren't feeling rice-y. this dish was bursting with flavor i certainly can't fault it there. it had garlic, ginger, turmeric, cinnamon, pepper flakes, mustard powder, cloves...phew! so yes. flavorful indeed. and they recommend serving it with vegetables so we mixed in some zucchini and mushrooms. in the end this was a pretty good dish but my gripe is that the whole time i was eating it i just kept thinking that the coconut should have been toasted before adding it into the mix. it's just one tiny step and i think it really would have stepped the whole thing up a notch with a deeper, toastier flavor as well as a little crunch. the suggested peanut garnish probably would have been a good move just felt like something was missing.

we're now half way through the month and i've only made two recipes from the book...yikes! time to step it up and find something awesome in here.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

stuffed jalapenos

my mom sent kris some fun jalapeno cooking tools for hanukkah so we decided to make stuffed jalapenos. the corer made digging out the seeds quick and easy and then we had this fancy rack to hold them up while they roasted in the oven. the rack is meant to go on a grill but it worked out just as well in the oven, and i added some liquid smoke to the filling to get a little of that smokey goodness. they would have been awesome except that the jalapenos we got were suuuuper spicy. it made for painful enjoyment. i will give this creation another shot though, next time i will just pray to the jalapeno gods for milder peppers, please. for the stuffing i made a tempeh/ricotta mixture that doubled as a yummy sandwich spread the following day. here's the recipe-ish (i forgot to write down what i did, oops).

ricotta tempeh stuffed jalapeno peppers
cashew ricotta,except leave out the basil and add red pepper flakes* to taste instead
1 package tempeh
hot sauce
liquid smoke
salt and pepper
olive oil
medium - large sized jalapeno peppers, cored

heat a glug of oil in a skillet and crumble the tempeh stirring occasionally until it starts to brown. add cumin, coriander, hot sauce, salt and pepper to taste as well as a few drops of liquid smoke. cook until heated through.

move the tempeh mixture into a bowl and add 3 or 4 big spoonfuls of cashew ricotta, mix it all up and and adjust seasoning if needed.

place your cored peppers in the rack (if you've got one) and fill 'em up. put their tops back on a cook at 350 for 30ish minutes until the peppers are soft.

eat and enjoy. hopefully.

*my mom also sent a bag of aleppo pepper flakes and they're delicious. a tangy sort of spicy. i highly recommend seeking some out.


Sunday, January 9, 2011

january - vegan fire & spice

it's a new month and that means time to focus on a new cookbook. i have mixed feelings about the book i'm delving into for january because the results of past recipes from it have been, well, meh. but it's a new year, a time to set aside hard feelings and start fresh, and i want to give this book a fair chance to redeem itself to my tummy. so here we go vegan fire & spice....let's see what you've got!

one of the issues i've had with this book in the past is that i make a recipe expecting one thing and it comes out as something different. maybe the secret is to make things that i have no preconceived notions of. or maybe the trick is that i have to make everything twice. once as written and then i figure out what i would change and make it again and it comes out much better. the latter is what i did with the first recipe this month - spicy spanish potatoes, or patatas bravas for those of us that frequent tapas restaurants.

the main problem the first go around was that they said to cut to potatoes into thin slices, which i did, ignoring my gut that was screaming "this is not how patatas bravas are done!" they turned too mushy and turned out as more of a tasty potato clump thing. this time i cut the potatoes in bite sized chunks that look like the ones you get in a restaurant. the amount of sauce in the recipe for 1 1/2 pounds of potatoes got me nowhere and i had to triple it. i might have had a little more than 1 1/2 pounds but i certainly didn't have 4 1/2 pounds. so anyway, the bottom line to this ranty post is that, while these were tasty, the recipe needs a good amount of tweaks to pass for patatas bravas. here's how i would write it:

patatas bravas
1 1/2 pounds russet or yukon gold potatoes
3 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper
2 teaspoons sweet paprika
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
6 tablespoons red wine vinegar
6 teaspoons tomato paste
3 tablespoons water

cut potatoes into bit sized chunks. heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. add the potatoes in a single layer and cook, turning occasionally until tender and slightly crispy on the outside. season with the salt, pepper, cayenne and paprika.

meanwhile mix together the vinegar, tomato paste and water in a small bowl. when the potatoes are cooked remove from heat, transfer to a bowl and toss with the sauce.