Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Grape-rosemary focaccia

This recipe from smitten kitchen had been on my to-make list for a long time. We moved into our new apartment last week, which means I finally had access to my stand mixer again. When I saw Concord grapes at the grocery store, I knew it was time to make this recipe! I made one for dinner on Sunday, and we took the other one to a concert in Millennium Park on Monday. They were delicious! It's more work than using the bread maker, mostly because you have to plan on being at home to do various stuff to the dough on a schedule. But darn it, they were tasty. They might work in a bread machine, too. I'll have to try.
I was initially disappointed with the Concord grapes I bought at the store because they didn't taste as Concordy as I thought they should. But the heat of the oven concentrated the flavors, and they were so good with the salt, olive oil, and rosemary. I'm not going to post the recipe because you can just follow the link at the beginning of the post. I made a few changes: I didn't have milk, and yogurt seemed to make a fine substitute. Water probably would have worked, too. I also added about twice as much rosemary for the second one. I thought the rosemary flavor was overwhelmed the first time. Next time, I'll probably add some rosemary to the dough as well. I baked mine on my pizza stone, and I think that (and the olive oil) made the crust really nice and crispy on the outside, but not hard through-and-through. We will probably use this recipe for other focaccias in the future.

I think I have mentioned my friend's blog The Weekly Pizza. Well, we've been inspired, and we're going to try to make weekly pizzas too. I love having structured projects like that, and one that leads me to eat more pizza is an extra bonus. Even though this is focaccia, I've decided that it counts as our first weekly pizza. Thanks for the inspiration, Golda!

I think I should close by gushing about how the kitchen smelled. While the dough was rising, there was a delicious yeasty smell in the air, which gave way to a buttery/olive oil-y bread-baking smell once it hit the oven. It was divine!
Don't expect leftovers.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Cabbage-apple slaw

Well, I didn't win that Corner Bakery contest, so I guess I can post the cabbage-apple slaw recipe I referred to in the TLT post.

This bright, refreshing salad is a great side for sandwiches. You can use a milder crisp apple, like a Fuji, instead of the Granny Smith if you want to tone down the tartness. The amount of dressing may not sound like enough, but the goal is just to kiss the cabbage and apples with dressing so their flavor and crunch get to shine.

2 cups shredded red cabbage

1/2 Granny Smith apple, sliced into matchsticks

2 tbsp sliced almonds, toasted

1/2-inch slice fresh ginger, peeled and minced

Juice of 1 lime

1/2 tsp sesame oil

1/2 tsp soy sauce

Combine cabbage, apple, and almonds in a large bowl and stir or toss to mix. Combine ginger, lime juice, sesame oil, and soy sauce in a small bowl and whisk to combine. Pour dressing over cabbage, apple, and almonds. Toss to combine.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Brown butter and corn quinoarborio risotto

I think that sometime in college or grad school I must have had some disappointing corn on the cob, because I was convinced that frozen corn was pretty much as good as fresh. Well, this summer, Jon has convinced me to get fresh ears, and I can't believe what a fool I was! This dish came about as an idea of how to use a corn broth if we were to make one with the leftover cobs. While I was making it, I discovered that I only had 2/3 of the arborio rice I needed, so I supplemented with some quinoa. The risotto was still nice and starchy, and I think the extra taste and texture from the quinoa was subtle but interesting. We put corn into the risotto while it cooked and garnished with fresh, raw kernels to get two different corn experiences.

We really loved this risotto. The brown butter base was rich, but it also allowed the corn flavor to shine. It made very comfy Sunday dinner.

Brown butter and corn quinoarborio risotto

3 ears corn, kernels separated from cobs
6 cups water
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp basil, divided
4 tbsp butter
1/2 medium onion, chopped
1 cup arborio rice
1/2 cup quinoa
1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese

Cover corn cobs with water in a medium to large saucepan. Add 1/2 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp basil and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for about 30 minutes. Drain broth into another saucepan, squeezing liquid from cobs if possible. You can make the broth in advance. Just heat it up before proceeding with the rest of the recipe.

Place butter in another medium to large saucepan, perhaps the one you just made broth in. Melt over medium heat and let cook until light brown, stirring or shaking pan occasionally. Add onion and 1/2 tsp basil and cook for about five minutes. Add 2/3 of the corn (about 3/4 cups) and cook until onions are soft. Add rice and quinoa and stir to coat with butter. Add about a cup of corn broth to the pot, stirring to combine. Let simmer. When most of the liquid has been absorbed, repeat until rice is tender. Remove from heat and stir in cheese. Garnish with raw corn kernels.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011


Tempeh has always disappointed me. It is a fermented soy and grain product, and I always think it should taste way more interesting by itself than it actually does. The texture is interesting, but like tofu and soy milk, the taste by itself is rather bland. I rarely buy or eat it, but the other day I saw a good price and decided to try it again in the form of the veg deli standby, the TLT. I marinated the tempeh in soy sauce and liquid smoke to give it a little flavor. I thought the sandwiches were pretty good, and Jon really enjoyed them, so they might go into the rotation.

I served these sandwiches with the cabbage-apple slaw shown above. I entered that recipe into the Corner Bakery recipe contest, which does not allow recipes that have been published or posted online, so I'll hold off on sharing it. (I'm entering the contest both because it's fun to enter contests and because my mom told me about it. The grand prize is a trip to the company headquarters in Dallas. She wants me to win so I'll go visit her.)

This picture isn't quite as well-lit as the first one, but I forgot the lettuce in the first one.

For two sandwiches:

About 1/3 pack of tempeh, cut into 1/4-inch slices (five slices per sandwich was what we used)

Soy sauce

Liquid smoke

Vegetable oil for sautéing

1/3 cup mayo

1/2 tsp Penzey's Arizona Dreaming seasoning or other chili powder, optional

4 slices of bread

1 tomato, sliced

Butter, softened

2 leaves of lettuce

Marinate the tempeh in a little soy sauce and liquid smoke for a few minutes. Then saute in vegetable oil until browned. Set aside.

Mix Arizona Dreaming with mayo if you want to spice up your mayo a little. Spread on all pieces of bread. Place five tempeh strips and two or three tomato slices on two pieces of bread and then put the other pieces of bread on top. Melt a little butter in a skillet over medium-high heat and place the sandwiches on the skillet. Butter the tops. After a few minutes, flip the sandwiches, trying not to let the tempeh and tomato slices escape. Fry for a few more minutes and remove from heat. Add lettuce.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Jungle Sundaes

I've never disliked avocados, but the past few months I've been especially fond of them. Mostly, we add them to salads and sandwiches, but I decided to get a little crazy with them last week. The night before, I had made us a really simple banana split. Banana is unusual in that it is a creamy fruit. The next day as I was cutting into the salad avocado, I remembered that avocado was also a creamy fruit, and a delightfully wacky idea took form: avocado sundae! So we tried it that night: half an avocado, roughly chopped up, covered in cookies and cream ice cream, chocolate sauce, and chopped brazil nuts and cashews. Filled with trepidation, we dug into it, only to barely be able to taste the avocado. It tasted as good as any bowl of ice cream with chocolate sauce and nuts, which is to say, good.

Emboldened by the fact that it didn't suck, we decided to decrease the ice cream to get more of the avocado flavor. I scooped half an avocado into a bowl, put two small scoops of ice cream on it, and drizzled, instead of drenched, it with chocolate sauce and brazil nuts. I wasn't hungry that night, but Jon wolfed it down and enjoyed it.

The next time, we decided to combine the creamy fruits and made what we have dubbed the Jungle Sundae:

1/2 banana, 1/2 avocado, 2 scoops vanilla ice cream, chopped brazil nuts and cashews, chocolate sauce.

It's a little big for one person, but so is a banana split. I don't actually know if avocados grow in the jungle. I think of them as coming from California and Mexico. But the other ingredients (bananas, vanilla, nuts, cacao) could come from the jungle, right?

Friday, August 5, 2011

Beet, basil, and cheese crackers

While Jon was waiting in line at the deli counter a few days ago, I spotted this intriguing Greek cheese called manouri. (you might remember it from the composed salad I posted yesterday.) The sticker near it said it was made with the whey from feta and sheep's milk cream. It wasn't very expensive, so I bought a little to try. We really enjoyed it. It's not as salty as feta, and it has a nice creamy texture that is kind of hard when it's still cold and gets very soft when it sits out a while. It's like a cross between feta and mozzarella.

These crackers were an after-dinner snack for me when dinner hadn't been quite enough, but I think they would also make nice summer party food. I think crostini would work in place of the crackers, too. I think beet instead of tomato on the cracker is tasty and a little different from what you might expect.

For two crackers:

2 Wasa or other sturdy crackers

4 slices manouri or other semi-soft cheese

4 leaves basil

1 medium beet, cooked, peeled, and sliced into rounds

Salt and pepper

Olive oil

Top each cracker with 2 slices of cheese, 2 basil leaves, and half the beet rounds. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and a tiny drizzle of olive oil.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Composed salad

This was the grand finale of salad week. I think the presentation of this salad was beautiful but highly impractical. Jon put the portions for both of us on one plate, and then we scooped it into our own bowls to eat. This made the lettuce end up at the top of the bowls, which was not ideal. I think in the future, we'll assemble it on two plates and either tear the lettuce or use knives to cut it up while we're eating.

I guess since this is the first time meat has appeared on this blog, now is a good time to come out as non-veg. To make a long story short, I started eating vegetarian about nine years ago for a variety of reasons, and I don't feel as strongly about them anymore, so I've reintroduced a little meat to the diet. But you probably won't see much meat here; I find a lot of it pretty boring.

Here's what was on our salad:

Romaine lettuce

Diced beet

Sliced hardboiled eggs

Cubed manouri cheese

Genoa salami

Green beans

Julienned cucumbers

Carrot coins




Jon made a lemon-basil vinaigrette that was just divine as the dressing.

It was a fittingly decadent end to salad week.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Pasta salad

We took this salad to a lovely concert in Millennium Park. There is not much dressing but we found it to be plenty with the basil, feta and olives.

1/2 lb mini penne (I think shells or rotini would work well too)

2 big kale leaves

1/2 lb broccoli crown chopped small

20 grape tomatoes halved

10 olives (I used Kalamata and Alphonso) diced

feta crumbled

fresh basil sliced fine


1/2 lemon

2 Tbsp red wine vinegar

3 Tbsp olive oil




ground mustard


Cook the pasta in salted water. Add the broccoli 2 minutes before it is done. Drain in a colander lined with the kale. Let cool. Combine the ingredients. Dress with the dressing.

Dressing. Combine all ingredients except the oil. Let sit. Add the oil and stir well.

Jon's lemony potato salad:

This is a take on a potato salad from the New Basics cookbook. I like to not use much mayonnaise and to really taste the potato. I may use less than the recipe below.

Zest of 1 lemon

1/3 cup mayo

6 medium new potatoes

1/4 lb green beans

Lettuce, baby spinach or mixed greens


Combine mayo and lemon zest. Let sit for at least a couple hours. Or better yet refrigerate over night.

Remove the ends of the green beans. Chop into 1 in. pieces.

Quarter or eighth the potatoes (after cleaning them). Boil them in salted water until just a bit before desired doneness. Add green beans for 1 minute. Strain in a colander. Let cool.

Combine potatoes and beans with dressing and toss. Serve over the mixed greens.

Rice noodle salad (salad week begins)

Ev and I were in Utah for 25 days or so. We cooked a lot while we were there but we did not have many of our supplies, so we were kind of limited. We also did eat out more than we are used to. So when we got back on Tuesday we were craving a return to our usual food. So began our week of salads. This is a rice noodle salad, which is mostly uncooked. I resisted the urge to put eggplant in because lately I have been feeling that I add it to everything. As always with my recipes, the measurements are very approximate guesses. As you can see from the pictures, I arranged Evelyn's very artfully on a plate and threw mine in a bowl.

Rice noodle salad:

3 big leaves of kale torn into pieces

6 oz. rice noodles

grape tomatoes

r. pepper sliced thin

16 slices cucumber

extra firm tofu, pressed

sliced white mushrooms (my salad only; Ev doesn't like mushrooms that much)


2 in fresh ginger minced

1 1/2 Tbs soy

1 1/2 Tbs rice vinegar

1 pinch sugar

1 tsp sesame oil

Boil water and cook rice noodles.

Fry the tofu in a dry (un-oiled) non-stick pan over medium high heat. It will take a while for it to release its water, during which time it does not really brown. Continue until the tofu is brown all over (flip it occasionally of course). When done remove and turn off heat. Put the kale on the still hot pan. This should be enough to cook the kale if you make sure all parts spend some time touching the hot pan.

Combine the non-dressing ingredients. Then pour the dressing over.


Combine the first 4 ingredients and let sit. Add the sesame oil and stir well.

This was quite a good salad.

Weird corn salad

This next salad was based on the fact that corn was on sale and I love fresh corn. One can make all sorts of great corn salads that are more or less bean-y and more or less salsa-ish. I wanted to do something different. It ended up tasting good because all of the components were good but it is not all the way there yet.

3 ears corn (these were smallish)

1/2 lb eggplant

14 grape or cherry tomatoes quartered

15 mint leaves finely chopped.

1/2 lime

Cook the corn. Cut it off the cob and let cool.

Slice eggplant and salt. Let sit for about 20 minutes. Rinse and then dice. Fry in oil. Put between paper towels to remove oil and let cool.

When cool combine the ingredients and squeeze the lime over the top.


Ev suggested removing the eggplant. She did not think that its texture worked. She also suggested adding black beans and avocado and maybe some basil. This would end up as a take on the classic bean-y corn salad with mint and basil in place of cilantro and grape tomatoes instead of usual tomatoes. It would probably be pretty good (classics get that way for a reason).

I, however, want to go big. Ditch the tomatoes (too acidic). Roast (or grill) the diced eggplant. Juice the lime separately and add honey to it. Add some diced chicken. I still feel like it needs something else. Can you help me?

We have not tried either of these variations.