Thursday, March 24, 2011

olive oil rosemary cake with glace apricots

birthday time for me means lots of edible gifts. mamoo seems to know the best spots for ordering everything so i was really excited when a box arrived full of dried fruit...i knew it would be good stuff. true to her word the dates make your eyes roll back in your head (that's a good thing, guys!), the figs taste like fig newton filling and the glace apricots are maybe a bit sweet to gobble on their own but absolutely perfect to incorporate as part of another dish. in this case, cake!

since the apricots bring a lot of sweetness on their own i wanted to make sure the cake wasn't too sweet which got me thinking about an olive oil cake. then i was thinking about what herbs might be yummy in the mix and rosemary came to mind, i love love love the combination in apple rosemary scones so why not with apricots, right? right!

i found a basic recipe online and tweaked from there. as we all know tweaking baking recipes is much more difficult than tweaking cooking recipes and the resulting cake was a bit denser than i had in mind but i loved the flavor. go into this thinking not of a light and airy desserty cake but rather more of a dessert cakey bread and i think you will be pleased with what you get. rather than cutting up the apricots and hiding them in the batter i wanted them to be the focus so i plopped them right on top of the batter before baking. when the cake came out of the oven they were a bit gooey and ooooooooooh yummy.

olive oil rosemary cake with glace apricots
3 cups flour
3 tablespoons fresh, minced rosemary
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup olive oil
1 1/4 cups almond milk
glace apricots to top

preheat oven to 350 and lightly grease a cake pan - i used and 8-inch (i think) springform.

mix together the dry ingredients. add olive oil and milk and mix until the ingredients are all wet.* the batter will be very thick, don't fret just go with it.

pour batter into your prepared pan and top with glace apricots.

bake 50-55 minutes or until done.

*after i did this i realized it felt backwards for a cake. doing this again i would mix together the wet ingredients then gradually add the dry ones. either way, take your pick.


Tuesday, March 22, 2011

chocolate covered pretzels

long ago in our boston days, kris and i loved the chocolate covered pretzels from the faneuil hall food court. they were a special treat and any time we found ourselves in the area those pretzels made up for having to deal with the annoying crowds of tourists. we still pick up a chocolate covered pretzel here and there but kris has been asking me to make them forever and i...just never did. until recently. and now i feel like such a meanie for not doing this sooner because, duh!, it's the easiest treat to make ever. and it makes my kris so happy.
all you need is a box of pretzels (i recommend fat ones. i used snyder's brand), a bag of chocolate chips (semi-sweet here) and something to thin the chocolate out a bit (i used a bit of margarine and some splashes of almond milk). melt the chocolate chips over a double boiler and add margarine/milk to thin as needed. when you have a nice dip-able consistency start dunking! place chocolatey pretzels on a baking sheet and put in the fridge for a few hours until the chocolate is nice and hardened. you might have more chocolate than pretzels and that's ok! just peek around your fridge/pantry for items in need of chocolate coating. i found dried apricots.


Saturday, March 19, 2011

picture time!

these are two dinners that i made recently. no recipes in this post as they were both random, throw-em-together kind of dishes but both were really tasty and maybe they'll inspire your own dinner creations.

first was a noodle bowl. soba noodles in a miso broth with lots of toppings! shiitakes, tofu, slices of gigantic green onions, nori and black sesame seeds. not only was this warming and filling but we got to use our supercute noodle bowls. double success!

this next one was cooked up on st. patrick's day. i didn't go out but instead stayed home and made a dinner heavy on the green ingredients. i tossed some brown rice with pesto then topped it with roasted parsnips, blanched broccoli and avocado (i'll take any excuse to add avocado to a meal).


Wednesday, March 16, 2011

coconut balls

for book club our most recent read was super sad true love story by gary shteyngart. now i don't know about other book clubs but ours is as much about the food that everyone brings as much as it is about the books we read. for each book we choose a food relevant theme and since one theme in this book was trying to live forever it only seemed appropriate that we all bring our most healthy creations. i feel that dessert is always important so i set upon making a healthy sweet. i remembered getting an email from the vegnews recipe club awhile back for these dried fruit coconut balls and figured now would be a perfect time* to give them a shot. sometimes when i get home from work i have trouble getting a dish together in time for book club but these are super quick and easy. everyone seemed to enjoy them and two comments i remember are that they 1. taste like christmas and 2. taste like a lara bar...but better (of course). so that gives you a little idea of what you're getting.

i stuck to the recipe except that i used dried cranberries instead of raisins because i don't like raisins much and while i'm sure they're fine all mixed up with the others in here the store didn't have any in the bulk bins and i surely was not about to buy a big bag of those suckers. speaking of the bulk bins, if you buy all of this stuff in bulk it's pretty cheap to get all the ingredients.

coconut balls
3/4 cup dried cranberries
3/4 cup raw walnuts
3/4 cup dates, pitted
3/4 cup dried apricots
3/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
2 tablespoons orange juice
zest of 1 orange
shredded coconut, for coating

in a food processor, pulverize cranberries, walnuts, dates and apricots for 1 to 2 minutes until finely chopped (or mere seconds if you have a brand new food processor!!!) add coconut, orange juice and zest. process for an additional 1 to 2 minutes or until mixture comes together to form a ball.

place some coconut on a plate. dampen hands with water, form mixture into one inch balls and roll in shredded coconut.

eat away!

i've been storing the leftovers in the fridge and they're pretty tasty cold as well. and they firm up a bit too if you keep them in there.


*not only because they fit the theme but also because kris got me a big food processor(!) for my birthday and i am in love (with it and also with him).

Sunday, March 13, 2011

pasta with chickpeas and charred tomatoes

or as i like to call it, hummus pasta. it's been awhile since i've made a recipe from bon appetit and this dish was a nice welcome back. when i glanced at the recipe i thought it looked like a perfect weeknight meal, as easy as normal old spaghetti but something different from our go-to red sauce. upon eating the first bite i thought, "why didn't i think to use hummus as pasta sauce before? it's genius!" i will definitely be making this's got smokiness from the paprika, juicy bursts from the charred tomatoes, saltiness from the olives, fresh herbiness from the cilantro plus whole chickpeas for an extra dose of garbanzo goodness. i also think this would be a fun recipe to play around with. as i type kris is in the kitchen whipping up a batch of his amazing sun dried tomato hummus....i think that would be fantastic in here, maybe with basil instead of cilantro for a more "traditional" italian pasta.

pasta with chickpeas and charred tomatoes
(from bon appetit, february 2011)
8 ounces pasta
1/2 cup hummus (they say plain but i think playing with flavors would only make things better)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 box grape tomatoes
1 15 oz. can chickpeas, drained
3 garlic cloves, pressed
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 cup halved pitted kalamata olives
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro

cook pasta according to package instructions until tender but still firm to bite. drain, reserving 1/2 cup cooking liquid. whisk hummus into liquid.

meanwhile, heat oil in a large skillet over high heat. add tomatoes; sprinkle with salt and pepper. cook until blackened in spots, shaking skillet occasionally, about 8 minutes. mix in chickpeas, garlic and smoked paprika. crush some of the tomatoes to release juices. add pasta and enough hummus mixture to coat. mix in olives and cilantro, season with salt and pepper.


as a side note, i am so happy that we sprang forward today. no more poorly lit dinner pictures, hooray!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

rye bread: a near disaster

sometime fails turn into gigantic successes and it's oh so delightful when they do.
sunday i made rye bread, planning to use it for tempeh reubans for dinner. actually, to back up a bit, i started the bread at about midnight on saturday night so it could rise overnight easy bread style. smart, right? earlier in the evening we spent some time getting to know the menu at smuggler's cove. then we went to get dinner and had some wine. then we went to a show where i started to get very tired. then we walked home and that's when i whipped up the bread dough. still smart? not so sure. either my yeast has gone bad or my measurements were very very off because when this bread came out of the oven it felt like it had a brick inside.

needless to say we bought a loaf of bread for our sandwiches, but we pondered what to do with the rye brick. not sure it was even worthy of turning into croutons, kris and i decided to have a taste and decide it's fate. holy goodness! dense, yes...but also bursting with absolutely delicious rye flavor! it deserved to be more than croutons, more than breadcrumbs, and luckily i have a smart husband who came up with the idea to use it as a base for "eggs" florentine, or benedict...whatever the one with spinach is.

we used a couple of components from vegan brunch - hollandaise sauce and then the omelet recipe for the egg. we heated up the bread and as it got soaked with the hollandaise it was just perfect. this was one super delicious dinner!