Monday, November 30, 2009

Moroccan-spiced olives

This is an easy way to jazz up jarred olives. They are nice as a little appetizer before dinner, especially if you're making other Mediterranean foods that night. Jon likes them even more than he likes garlic-stuffed olives, which is saying a lot. We often had olives spiced with fennel as an appetizer in France, but I got this particular spice blend from a Moroccan cookbook by Rebo Publishers. I omitted the garlic because I thought it would be too assertive and overpower the lovely spices.
Moroccan-spiced olives

1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 tsp whole cumin seeds
1 tsp whole fennel seeds
1 tsp whole coriander seeds
1/4 tsp ground cardamom
Pinch ground nutmeg
Pinch ground cinnamon
1 1/2 cups green olives
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp orange juice

Heat the olive oil, cumin, fennel, coriander, cardamom, nutmeg, and cinnamon in a saucepan over medium heat for about two minutes. The spices should be quite fragrant. Remove the pan from heat, add olives, and toss to coat. Stir in the lemon juice and orange juice. Refrigerate in an airtight container (like the jar the olives came from in the first place) for at least four hours before serving to let the flavors meld. These are best if served room temperature. When you've eaten all the olives, Jon says the leftover spiced olive/citrus juice is a good dipping sauce for bread.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Butternut-kale bread pudding

This was in Orangette's column in the November issue of Bon Appetit, and it will be on our Thanksgiving table. It is autumnal and indulgent and kaley. The first time we tried the recipe, we forgot the salt, and it wasn't very good. It's amazing what a difference a little salt makes. The second time we tried it, it was fabulous. I love the way the kale on the top dries out and gets a little chewy. This recipe has six eggs, a bunch of half and half, and a ton of cheese, so I wouldn't recommend it for everyday eating, but it's perfect for a food-centric holiday when you want to be a little naughty and undo the top button of your pants.
Butternut-kale bread pudding
I made a couple small changes to the original recipe. They are reflected below.

2 lbs butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1-inch pieces
3 tbsp olive oil (not extra-virgin), divided
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt, plus extra for sprinkling
7 eggs
2 1/4 cups half and half
6 tbsp dry white wine
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
1 day-old baguette, crusts intact, torn or sliced into 1-inch pieces (get the grocery store to slice it for you to save some time and effort)
1 cup chopped onion
1 lb kale, stems removed and leaves coarsely chopped
5 oz extra-sharp cheddar, grated

Heat oven to 400 F. Place squash in a large baking pan, drizzle with 1 tbsp oil, and sprinkle with salt. Roast for about 20 minutes or until squash is soft, stirring occasionally.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together eggs, half and half, wine mustard, and salt. Gently stir bread into mixture and let it soak for about 30 minutes, turning once or twice.

Saute onion in 2 tbsp oil over medium heat until translucent. Add kale, cover, and cook just a couple minutes, until kale is bright green but slightly wilted. Set aside.

After the squash comes out of the oven, reduce temperature to 350 F. Butter or oil 9"x13" baking dish thoroughly. (I use the same dish for the squash as for the final product, and I oil it in between.) Place about half the bread mixture on the bottom. Spoon about half the kale over it, top that with half the squash, and then cover with half the cheese. Repeat with the remaining bread, kale, squash, and cheese, pouring any leftover egg mixture over the top. Cover the pan with foil and bake for 20 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for another 20 minutes or until custard is set and feels a little springy. If exploding Pyrex hasn't scarred you for life, turn on the broiler and broil it for 2 minutes to get the cheese nice and brown. Let cool for five minutes before serving.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Roasted broccoli with raisin vinaigrette

This is the first recipe we ever tried from Bon Appetit. We had always just had broccoli steamed with some cheese or salt and pepper, but roasting it and serving with this vinaigrette are now our standard. I think I'm pretty good at making up new recipes and having a feel for what flavors go well together, but I never would have thought of raisins, vinegar, and cumin as a good idea. I was very pleased when they turned out so good. The vinaigrette is pretty thick, not runny, so it's easier to dip into it than to serve it on top. This makes more vinaigrette than we usually use on one recipe of roasted broccoli, but it keeps forever in the fridge.

Roasted broccoli with raisin vinaigrette

1 1/2 pounds broccoli, cut into whatever size you like broccoli to be cut into
Olive oil for roasting

3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
2 tbsp sherry vinegar or red wine vinegar
1/2 cup raisins
1 tbsp water
1/2 tsp ground cumin

Heat the oven to 400F. Put the broccoli on a baking sheet or casserole dish. Drizzle with olive oil and toss to coat. Roast until tender and browl in spots, between 15 and 25 minutes. To make the dressing, put all the ingredients in a small food processor or blender. Process or blend until smooth. Toss the broccoli with the vinaigrette or serve it on the side.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Rice salad

Here is a rice and bean and avocado and tomato and other stuff salad that I have made a couple of times. Ev claims to like it.... I am dubious. Next time we will make it with brown rice. We think it will be even better that way.

1 Avocado chunked
2/3 cup black beans
1/4 cup cilantro or parsley, chopped
1 tomato diced
1 cup rice

Cook the rice. Let cool. Add tomato, avocado, black beans and cilantro or parsley.

2 limes
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp coriander

Add dressing to salad and mix well, trying not to mash the avocado and tomato pieces.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Bulgur Texas Chili

I found this recipe perusing the "food in a bowl" tag on Molly's blog a few weeks ago. I'm a Texan, but I never knew that our chili isn't supposed to have beans. (My mom is from Ohio, so I didn't grow up eating particularly Texan foods.) All the chilis I've ever made were bean-based, so I was glad to expand my horizons with this bean-free recipe. I've tried using bulgur in chili before, and it was pretty disappointing. I think there wasn't enough in the recipe, so it was just an occasional textural oddity. This chili is chock-full of bulgur, and it definitely doesn't taste or feel like meat, but it gives the chili a really good chew. I omitted the cayenne pepper in the recipe, but it was still kind of spicy for wimpy me. (Jon, of course, added hot sauce to his.) Other than that, both of us really enjoyed this chili, and I'll just use a little less chili powder, or a milder chili powder, next time. We served it over cornbread. If it had lasted longer, I would have liked to try it in Frito pie, but it was gone too quickly. I hear that Molly is entering this chili in a vegetarian chili cook-off in Austin this Sunday. Check it out if you're in the area, and good luck, Molly!

Bulgur Texas Chili

1 or 2 tablespoons oil
small onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
salt and pepper
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon cayenne (optional)
1/2 tablespoon chili powder
1/2 cup bulgur
3 1/2 teaspoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon ketchup
1 can rotel (I used mild)
1 can water
2 tablespoons tomato paste

Fry the onions in oil until they are soft, about five minutes. Add the garlic and cook another 30 seconds. Add all the spices and stir to combine. You can leave out the cayenne to reduce the heat a bit. Add the bulgur and stir everything together again. Combine the soy sauce and ketchup and pour the mixture over the bulgur. Stir continuously until combined.

Pour in the can of rotel (or about 10 ounces diced tomatoes). Fill the can with water once and add to the other ingredients. Add the tomato paste and stir everything once more. Bring everything to a boil and then turn the heat down to a simmer. Simmer covered for 20 minutes.

Taste and adjust the seasonings. If the chili is too dry for your taste, add some water. Serve over Fritos, cornbread, or tortilla chips. It's OK with me if you serve it over rice, but Molly disagrees.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Eggplant Salad II

Here is a little eggplant salad I made yesterday after a dry run the week before. I initially planned for it to be a cold salad, but Ev found it a little slimy, so now it will be served warm and over rice.

1 large eggplant (about 1 1/2 lbs?)
1 red pepper

Slice the eggplant into about 1/2 to 1 inch slices. Liberally salt the slices and let sit for about 1/2 hour. Rinse eggplant and cube the slices. Slice red peppers and put in an oven safe dish, oil and put in the oven at 400 for about 25 minutes or until done. I stirred every 8 minutes or so.

2 Tbsp soy
1 Tsp honey
3 inches ginger finely diced
2 scallions sliced
2 Tbsp fresh basil

Combine the above ingredients. Pour about half over the finished eggplant mixture. The rest is for putting over at the table if you want more. Serve over rice (jasmine is nice) and maybe garnish with basil.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Buckwheat galettes

First, a crepe vocabulary lesson. In France, if it's made with wheat, it's filled with something sweet and called a crepe. If it's made with buckwheat, it's filled with something savory and called a galette. So really, "buckwheat galette" is redundant. But we don't live in France, so I'm calling them that anyway. Vegetarian Times had a buckwheat galette recipe in their September issue, and since we had some really fantastic galettes in Brittany in July, we wanted to try to recreate the experience. The recipe worked really well, and we will definitely be making it a lot. The buckwheat has a very distinctive, savory, nutty flavor we love. It's also a lot more interesting texturally than plain wheat crepes. The only drawback to this recipe is that you have to let the batter rest for 12-24 hours before you can make the crepes, so it does require some planning. We usually do menu planning for the week every Saturday or Sunday, so we always know to whip up the batter the day before.

You can fill these with anything savory. Sometimes I just melt some cheese on them and fold them up. They're a great substrate for beet salad. When we serve them that way, we melt the blue cheese a little before adding the other ingredients and leave them open-faced. I also really love filling them with melted cheese, sauteed greens, and a little black pepper. Add a fried egg on top and you have a very hearty, yummy breakfast.
Buckwheat galettes (from Vegetarian Times)
They claim it makes 8, but it made 12 the one time I actually counted them.

1 1/2 cups buckwheat flour
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 large egg
1 tsp honey

Whisk together flour and salt in a large mixing bowl. In a medium mixing bowl, beat egg and honey with 2 cups of cold water. Using an electric mixer, beat egg mixture into flour mixture until batter is smooth. Beat 6 to 10 minutes, or until batter is light and thickened slightly. (I don't know why we do this step or if it is actually necessary, but the recipe works well as is, so I haven't messed with it.) Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate 12-24 hours.

The next day, whisk 1/2-1 cup (I always use 1/2 cup) water unto the chilled galette batter to thin. Heat a nonstick crepe pan over medium heat. I don't have to grease mine at all, but you probably know if you do, so grease it lightly with butter or vegetable oil if necessary. When skillet is hot, pour 1/3 cup batter into the skillet, lifting and turning the pan so the batter coats the bottom. Cook 2-3 minutes, until edges begin to brown and center is brown. You will usually get little bubbles coming up. They're fun to look at. Remove from skillet with a spatula or your fingers and make the next crepe. Before you do that, you might want to melt some cheese on top. If you want dinner to be warm and on the table all at the same time, you can put the cooked crepes in a warm (200 F) oven until you've made them all. Store any extras in the fridge for a few days. They might crack a little when you get them out to reheat and fill them, but they'll still be tasty.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Easy pie or quiche crust

As Jon said in his last post, we have been eating a lot of quiche lately. We used to buy frozen pie crusts, for them but I decided that it would be nice to try making my own. I've pretty much gotten the hang of it now, and I think it's easier to take ten minutes to whip this up than go to the store and buy one. Plus it's way cheaper. This is definitely not extravagant, flaky, to-die-for crust, but it is suitable for our needs, and it tastes better to me than what you can get in the freezer section. I have tried to make pie crusts with butter, and they always end up soggy or too soft. Shortening works well for me.

Pie crust (from the Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook)

1 1/4 cups all-purpose or whole wheat pastry flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/3 cup shortening
ice water

Combine flour and salt in a large mixing bowl. Using a pastry cutter or two knives held scissors-fashion, cut the shortening into the flour until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Sprinkle 1-2 tbsp water over the flour mixture and stir together with a fork. Add more water until the mixture is completely moistened. Roll dough into a ball and roll it out on a floured surface. Or you can wrap the dough tightly in plastic wrap and keep it in the fridge until you need it.

Mushroom quiche

I have been on a bit of a quiche kick lately. Some have turned out well and others a little less so. For instance the asparagus quiche I made was fine, but I would rather have some asparagus with an egg. However, my latest quiche turned out well. Next time I may try a different cheese (blue and emmentaler both sound good).

3 small portobello mushrooms thinly sliced
6 white mushrooms thinly sliced
1 Tsp dried rosemary
some salt
oil for sauteing

Heat oil in pan. Add sliced mushrooms and liberally salt them. Cook until the mushrooms start to give up their juices. Add rosemary and continue sauteing until the liquid has cooked off and they are done.

1/2 small onion finely diced


3 eggs
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup cream
3 0z. Fontina cheese thinly sliced then cubed
1 oz. grated Romano
1 Tsp fresh rosemary

Break and beat eggs. Add cream, milk and rosemary. Beat together. Add cheese, mushrooms and onions. Pour into prepared quiche crust (the crust I used was baked 8 min with aluminum foil and pie weights, then 3-5 minutes with no foil or weights, all on 375) and bake for 25 minutes at 375. Let cool a bit and serve.

Like most (all?) quiche, this is good with a nice salad!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Pasta salad

Here is a neat little pasta salad I made a week or so ago. If I were to do it again I would leave out the olives. Also some pesto might be nice in it.

12 oz Orzo
2 roasted red peppers diced
8 olives chopped
1/4 cup fresh basil (loose) chopped
1/4 cup fresh parsley chopped
2 Tbsp pine nuts
3 Tbsp Olive oil
1 Tbsp Balsamic vinegar
Romano Cheese grated

Cook the Orzo as usual (or maybe leave a bit more al dente). Mix oil, vinegar and basil. Mix the red peppers, olives, pine nuts and parsley. Dress with oil and basil. Add cheese, salt and pepper to taste.