Monday, April 25, 2011

roasted artichokes with aleppo aioli

despite living in san francisco for nearly four years now and despite everyone telling us that it's beautiful and wonderful and a must visit and despite the fact that it's perfect weekend-getaway distance kris and i only just went to big sur for the first time this past weekend. maybe the push was that we only have two more months here before our move (to atlanta...yep) or maybe it's that we are, for the first time ever, car owners (super weird) but i'm so glad we made it down there. everyone, you were right, big sur is pretty great. we hiked, we cooked over a campfire, drank wine from a box and relaxed along the bank of the big sur river. it was lovely.

when you drive between san francisco and big sur you get to drive through artichoke land! no, i don't recall exactly what town it's in but you will know you're there when you start passing all of the artichoke fields and produce stands. make sure you stop!

in the past i've always hated cooking artichokes...getting to the heart just seems like so much work for not a lot food. but at 10 for $1 i was willing to give it another shot. plus i told myself that baby artichokes are less intimidating. and also i've been dying to recreate the roasted artichokes with aleppo aioli that we had at pause awhile back. thus, we picked out 20 adorable artichoke babies.
and ya know what? it really wasn't so bad! those baby artichokes are a lot less work than the big guys! and i'd say that by the time i got to number 8 i was on a roll and cruising through those puppies. though i certainly wouldn't think i have any useful insight on the matter...if you're looking for a quick, "proper" way to get to the heart of a 'choke i'm sure there are countless internet people who can help you out way better than me. i'm here to tell you about the aleppo aioli! it's cashew based, has five ingredients, is delicious and it's pink. could you ask for more?

aleppo aioli

1 cup cashews, soaked in water for about an hour*
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup water (or enough to reach desired consistency)
1 1/2 tablespoons aleppo pepper flakes
pinch of salt to taste

couldn't be easier, place all of your ingredients in a blender or food processor and blend away until nice and creamy and combined. i would recommend adding the pepper gradually to reach your desired spicyness. same with the water, you might need a little more or less.

smear on a plate and plop artichokes on top.

you'll probably have some aioli leftbover to do something else with too. today i spread it on tempeh, coated it with panko and pan fried for some of the crispiest tempeh nuggets i've ever made. highly recommended.

*if you don't have time to soak the cashews no biggie, it just makes them blend up a little easier and a little creamier.


Sunday, April 10, 2011

yeasted coffee cake

when i saw this picture of a yeasted coffee cake on friday i pretty much knew immediately what my sunday baking project would be. i've made, and loved, traditional coffee cakes but never thought to go the yeasted route. thank you vegansaurus for posting that picture because i can say for certain that this is a treat i will turn to again and again. imagine a coffee cake filling swirled within a light sweet bread's like if coffee cake and cinnamon rolls had a baby. the best part is that there are no super long rise times so you can easily make and eat this in a day, the dough is easy to work with and when it's baking it will make your entire home smell delicious (at least if your entire home is a teeny lil apartment). it's best the day of or day after baking but even after that you can heat it up a bit and it's still quite delicious. i loved the nutty date filling that i made but i also look forward to trying out some variations. you could make a glaze to drizzle over the top as well but i think it's pretty much perfect as is.

yeasted coffee cake
(makes one ring cake)
ingredients for the dough:
2 cups flour
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 teaspoon yeast
1/3 cup almond milk, with a splash of apple cider vinegar to curdle
1 ounce water (any temperature)
1/4 cup margarine, room temperature
1 container (6 ounces) plain soy yogurt

ingredients for the filling:
1 tablespoon margarine
2 cups pecans, chopped
5 dates, chopped
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg

first, make your dough. combine 3/4 cup of the flour with the sugar, salt and yeast.
in a saucepan, combine almond milk, water and margarine and heat until warm and the margarine is just melted.

on low speed, add the milk/margarine mixture to the dry ingredients and mix until well blended. increase speed to medium and add the yogurt and 1/2 cup more of flour and beat for 2 minutes. stir in enough of the remaining 3/4 cup of flour (or more if needed) so dough holds together. knead for 8-10 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic.

place in a lightly greased bowl, turning to coat. cover with plastic and let rise for about an hour, until doubled in size.

meanwhile, make your filling by mixing all the ingredients (except the margarine) together.

once your dough has risen roll it out into a rectangle that is about 9x17 (that is the very precise measurement i came up with by comparing my rectangle to my baking sheet). cut off small bits of 1 tablespoons of margarine and spread them around on the dough then sprinkle with your filling evenly covering the dough, leaving a small border around the edges.

starting at the long edge carefully roll your dough into a log and pinch the seam closed. then shape it into a ring and pinch that seam closed. using scissors or a nice sharp knife cut slits all around the ring. place on a parchment/silpat lined baking sheet and cover with plastic wrap. let rise for another hour.

when your dough is almost done rising heat your oven to 350. brush the top of the loaf with almond milk and bake for about 30 minutes, until golden brown.


Sunday, April 3, 2011

wild mushroom ragout

sometimes recipes come from unlikely places. like birthday cards. little did my dad know when he sent this that it was really two gifts in one...the fabulous gift inside as well as a hidden treat in this delicious recipe on the inside cover. this is way more delicious than what you would expect to find inside a card that looks like it was made in the '70s (though the back credits tell me that it is in fact from 1995). no matter! i whipped this up for a week night meal serving it on crusty bread (as the picture shows) and accompanied by a simple salad. i changed the directions a bit as my mushrooms seemed to be unusually slow to release liquid and didn't seem to have that much to release anyway. the point is that with a few less steps i still got a wonderfully buttery, thick glaze covering the mushrooms. oh also, they suggest 1 pound of oyster mushrooms and an additional pound of mixed mushrooms. well oysters are expensive so i say do as i did and mix the two pounds however you want, it's still going to be delicious.

between the two of us this was a lot of food and we had lots of mushrooms left over. we used them the next day as part of a yummy quinoa bowl.

ragout of wild mushrooms
2 pounds mixed mushrooms (oyster, shiitake, chanterells, portobello, crimini...whatever you want!)
4 tablespoons margarine
2 tablespoons shallots
1 1 /2 tablespoons all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
pinch black pepper
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley

clean the mushrooms and cut into chunks.

in a heavy bottomed skillet over medium heat, melt the margarine. add the shallots and saute until translucent, 3 or 4 minutes. reduce the heat to low and add the mushrooms. cook, stirring often, until they begin to release their juices and create the beginning of a broth (5 to 10 minutes). raise the heat to medium and sprinkle the flour, salt and pepper over the mushrooms, then stir to evenly coat. add the wine and stir 3 to 4 minutes. by now the mushrooms will have reduced in volume by about one half. keep stirring until you have a nice thick brothy glaze covering all the mushrooms. sprinkle with parsley and serve over crusty bread.