27 February 2010

chickpea pancake mushroom toast

Wow, I'm exhausted. In conclusion, have some pictures.

Chickpea pancakes: equal parts water and chickpea flour, plus grape tomatoes, kale, and red onion. You can use any vegetables you want; frankly, spinach would have tasted better here than the kale, but that's ok. Salt, pepper, maybe some paprika. Fry just like regular pancakes until awesome. Chickpea pancakes are great with something tangy like yogurt cheese or smoky like baba ghanouj slathered all over the top.

I didn't have either of those, though, so I had them with mushroom toast. Toss roughly broken mushrooms and smashed garlic cloves with olive oil and roast at maybe 350F. Stir thoroughly halfway through to distribute the awesome mushroom-garlic liquid. When done, put on toast, making sure to soak it with all the extra juices. I had sourdough and it was awesome.

23 February 2010

I finally did it: soup with popcorn garnish


Ok, so here's what happened. I've been thinking about popcorn with smooth puréed vegetable soups for years. Literally, it occurred to me two or three years ago, but I didn't try it until now. That was a mistake. I could have been eating considerable bowls of spinach soup with popcorn and onion soup with popcorn and sweet potato soup with popcorn for the past three years! And yet I never actually bothered enough to get more than one pan dirty before.

In this case I made carrot soup with white bean broth, which was substantial and yet extremely vegetable-dense and smooth and clean. Bean broth: don't ever throw it out after you cook a pan of beans! Instead, throw it in the freezer and wait until you want to make something like this, then bask in the awesome qualities of the finished product.

Carrot soup with white bean broth

olive oil
white bean broth/other appropriate broth
(actual white beans if you feel like it)
sage, thyme, salt, pepper

Easy easy.

Peel and dice an onion and toss it in a soup pot with some olive oil. Stir it up and let soften while you peel and coarsely chop a few cloves of garlic, then add them to the pot. If you want, you can chop up some hot pepper or celery to add the the business, but if not, that's fine too.

Peel at least three or four good big carrots, more if you're feeding more than two people. Chop them into half-moons and throw them into the pot. Add some sage and thyme, plus a pinch of salt, then stir everything up and let it sweat for a few minutes.

Broth. I had mine in the freezer, as mentioned, so I just popped it out of the container and threw it straight into the pan to melt.

If you have vegetable broth or actual white beans in broth, those should work fine too. The bean broth gives the soup body; vegetable broth will still taste good, but be thinner and have less protein. Just do what you think sounds best.

Let the soup simmer, covered, until the carrots are cooked through, then take it off the heat and purée it. Correct any seasonings and you're done. Keep it warm on very low heat while you make the popcorn on another burner.

Ok, it goes without saying that microwave butter flavored gack will Not be very good with delicately spiced vegetable soup. Pop your corn from scratch in a pan over the flame and you'll get exponentially better results. Here's how I do it. In this circumstance we didn't have any flavorless oil, so I used olive oil and slightly lower heat to pop the corn. Even though olive oil has a lower scorch point, everything turned out fine.

Don't butter or salt the corn; leave it plain for optimal tastiness. All you have to do is put things in bowls and eat them.

Popcorn in soup is crunchy and soft and melting and tastes intensely like corn all at once. If you bury it in the soup the texture changes and gets spongy, but it's still pleasing as long as you eat it relatively quickly. John and I sat around putting new handfuls of popcorn in our bowls over and over as we ate the previous bits, which worked admirably. I would totally recommend serving individual bowls of both popcorn and soup, equally full. Imagine what a little kid would think of a dinner like that! It would be the most ideal dinner ever.

20 February 2010



two slices wheat bread
one slice sourdough
dijon mustard
salami with fennel seeds
grape tomatoes
havarti with dill
red chard leaves

Toast the bread, slice up everything that needs slicing, stack it all together, and you have a sandwich so tall and impressive it barely fit in my mouth.

16 February 2010

I heart cheesy goo: real mac and cheese

I've been feeling low-level crappy for a couple weeks. My taste buds got kind of screwed up, and not a lot of food seemed even a little appetizing. So one day I went out to the store to get a pint of half and half, a bag of flour, and a chunk of sharp cheddar to make the only dinner that sounded even remotely good.

Real actual macaroni and cheese! Here is my method.

Oh man, how awesome is real mac and cheese? I don't know about you guys, but in our house growing up, boxed mac and cheese mixes were considered pretty much an abomination. Real sauce mornay mac and cheese is my heritage, so fortunately it's what I want when I feel terrible and whiny. Of course, then I have to stand up and cook it, but I can deal with that.

And ok, I still don't feel all that great, but at least in the meantime I got to eat this.

13 February 2010

Secret super power soup

Every so often I forget that my super power is making delicious soup out of, like, water and a potato.

Potato, turnip, and corn soup

veg broth/veg scraps and water
olive oil
a yellow onion
a couple cloves of garlic
a big potato or two
half a big turnip or a whole small one
frozen corn
sage, thyme, red pepper flakes
salt, pepper

The first thing to attack is vegetable broth. If you have broth in the freezer, get it out and let it start to thaw. If you want to make your own broth, throw some big handfuls of the vegetable trimmings in the bag in your freezer into a pot of water, put it on the stove, and simmer it for ten minutes. Use at least three or four cups of water for plenty of broth. Vegetable broth: food made from trash. Awesome, easy, and worth it.

Ok! While the broth is cooking, warm some olive oil in a big soupy pot. Chop up your onion (putting the trimmings into the broth) and throw it into your olive oil. Mince a few cloves of garlic and add them too. As those soften, scrub and dice your potato and turnip. If you want to peel your potatoes (and throw said peels into the broth), you can, but I don't bother. Dump all the vegetables into the softened onions, season with sage, thyme, and red pepper flakes, and stir it all up. Sweat the vegetables over medium or medium-low heat for a few minutes, or until your broth is all done.

How to tell your broth is done: you've simmered it for at least ten minutes. At that point, strain the liquid into the potato-onion-turnip mix and throw out the leftover broth veg. For frozen broth, you can just dump it into the pan and let it defrost there. Add a couple handfuls of frozen corn and some salt and pepper, stir everything up, and simmer, covered, until the root vegetables are cooked through. The time will vary depending on the size of your turnip and potato dice; my soup took about twenty minutes. At that point, just correct any necessary seasonings and you're done.

Voila: secret super power soup!

You probably want to eat this soup with a big pile of toast. Biscuits would also be acceptable. So would muffins. I had some nice wheat bread, a little stack of sliced havarti cheese, and red wine. It worked admirably.

11 February 2010

That quinoa fried rice business I was talking about

I guess it's really more of a scramble, if you look at the proportions, but whatever.

Fried not rice but leftover quinoa

Sauté chopped red onion in butter with a little olive oil mixed in. Add chopped mushrooms, a little salt, and a couple shakes of paprika. Stir it together and cook over medium until the onion and mushroom are soft. Then add a big whack of shredded kale and a couple handfuls of leftover quinoa. You could use other greens or other grains or even other vegetables: whatever you want. Add a slug of water and slap the lid on the pan for a few minutes; this will steam the greens and heat the grain through. Then take the lid off the pan and crack an egg or two in. One egg will make something more like fried rice, while two will make more of a scramble, depending, of course, on how many vegetables you've used. Stir it up, mixing the eggs well into the vegetables, and cook until set.

Now you can eat it.

In conclusion, hooray for leftovers!

10 February 2010

White bean, broccoli, quinoa

Man, it has totally been quinoa week around here. Just one cup gave me not only the kale-quinoa tacos, but near-constant quesadillas, a massive red onion-mushroom-kale fried not rice but quinoa concoction, and this.

White bean, broccoli, quinoa

olive oil
cooked white beans
broth of some type
salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, sage, thyme
optional: hot sauce, parmesan

Start by making the quinoa. You can of course use other grains: pretty much anything would work well here. For quinoa, though, rinse the grains well before you cook them. Quinoa is coasted with natural saponin, which makes it taste like soap to birds and other predators. So essentially you're eliminating one of its natural defenses before you feast on its tender flesh.

Ok! Cook the quinoa in twice its volume of water. I put mine in the rice cooker; you can do whatever you want. Also, if you make a whole cup you will have a week's worth of supplies! I'm just saying.

While it's steaming, soften some chopped onion, garlic, or a combination in olive oil. Add a few big pinches of sage and thyme, plus a good shake or two of red pepper flakes. Keep the heat fairly low so you get some slow caramelization.

Now it is time to add the white beans, or any other kind of cooked bean you think would be delicious. I was using white beans frozen in their cooking broth, so I just chucked the entire block into the pan and let it melt down. You can used freshly boiled beans, canned beans: whatever. So add your beans to the pot, along with maybe a scant half cup of broth or water. This liquid will mostly evaporate off, so the amount isn't critical; you just want to keep everything from sticking to the pan.

While the beans warm up, chop up as much broccoli as you want. Since you can never have enough broccoli, thickly peel some of the stem and chop it up along with the florets. Yeah!

When the beans are hot through and most of the liquid has evaporated, throw all your broccoli in the pan. Add a big pinch of salt, stir it up, and put the lid on the pan. Leave it this way for three or four minutes and the broccoli will steam perfectly. Taste the resulting business for salt and pepper. If there's substantial extra liquid left, you can cook for another minute or two to evaporate it off, but otherwise, you are done.

Eat it: fluff some quinoa and put it in a bowl, then top with beans and broccoli. You can also add any black pepper, red pepper flakes, toasty nuts, or cheese you so desire. I had one bowl plain and one with cheese; both were delightful. You can also add a shake of hot pepper sauce, if you like that kind of thing. For the best result, mix everything up in a massive mess before eating. It is delicious.

06 February 2010

Don't mind me

I'm just making some quinoa-kale tacos.

Quinoa-kale tacos

corn tortillas
olive oil
jalapeño/other hot pepper
red pepper
quinoa/other grain
kale/other heavy greens
salt, cumin, oregano, maybe some cayenne/etc if you want
cheese of choice

Oh man, these were good.

Soften and slightly toast some corn tortillas over the gas flame. You could also warm them in a pan, or use flour tortillas. It's all good. Just make sure they're still flexible for later taco folding.

For the filling, chop up half a red onion/some other onion and a clove or two of garlic and soften them in olive oil. Add some minced jalapeño and some chopped red pepper, some cumin and a little pinch of oregano. When everything is soft and delicious together, throw in a handful of cooked quinoa, a big handful of shredded kale, a pinch of salt, and a splash of water. Then cover it and let it steam until the quinoa is hot through and the kale is wilted and tender, maybe 3 minutes.

Ok! Now you can make the tacos. Put a few bits of cheese on one side of each tortilla. I like mozzarella, which is totally inauthentic, but then we're making quinoa-kale tacos, so whatev. Any salty white cheese is good; if you have queso blanco, great. Ok. So make a little layer of cheese, a layer of filling, and another little layer of cheese, then fold the taco over. Repeat until you have as many tacos as you want. My tacos were pretty freaking full, so they required some caution but turned out fine.

To finish, stick your tacos in a frying pan/the toaster oven/the actual oven for a few minutes, just until the cheese melts and the tortillas start to get crispy. Since everything is cooked already, this will be pretty quick: pay attention.

Et voila! TACOS.

05 February 2010

Oats for dessert

Man, why doesn't everyone eat oats like this? Oats for dessert are almost better than oats for breakfast, in a creamy rice puddingy sort of way. Not that I've, uh, actually ever even had rice pudding. Maybe I should rectify that, since apparently the oats remind me so strongly of said rice pudding.

Oats for dessert
(i.e. oatmeal with yogurt and fruit)

rolled oats
optional butter
non-optional salt
optional yogurt
a selection of fruit

Ok. First, make oatmeal with water and oats. I haven't measured anything for oatmeal in such a long time that I have no idea what proportions to use. Just make sure the water covers the oats by about a finger width, add a pinch of salt, and simmer it together, stirring occasionally, until the oats are creamy and delicious. Then if you want you can stir in a pat of butter. Oats!

Put the oats in the bowl and add all kinds of delicious business. I added a lot of plain yogurt, the few remaining blueberries in the house (I have a severe craving for berries, which seems interesting since it's serious winter), and a segmented clementine. You can add fresh/dried fruit, nuts, seeds, honey, maple syrup, jam, cinnamon, or whatever else you want to make the oats into delicious dessert. I would actually recommend against the citrus with yogurt, since the tangy dairy and acid citrus don't play super well together, but practically anything else you can think of would be great.

Eat it with some chamomile tea and get in bed. Better yet, eat it with champagne and get in bed.

02 February 2010

What we ate when John got back from Seattle


We also had red wine.

You may have noticed that there is not a whole lot of product placement here, but I'm going to make an exception, because these Theo chocolates were way too good.

I'm not going to make a lot of tasting notes. Let me just say this: those chocolate-covered caramels contain both chiles and red sea salt, and the bar below is filled with toasted buttered baguette crumbs. You heard me.

Also, their blog says they're having a pre-valentine's event with, among other people, Babeland. Yes! You know you support that endeavor.

In the meantime, we still have half the bar and one caramel hiding in the cupboard. We'll see how long it takes before they mysteriously vanish.

01 February 2010

What I ate while John was in Seattle

Gemelli with caramelized onions, mushrooms, and green beans.

Challah roll with cream cheese and pepper, sautéed shallot, red pepper, mushroom and kale; fuji apple.

Seared tofu marinated in veg broth with soy sauce, mirin, and rice wine vinegar; onion, broccoli, and carrot stirfry; brown rice.

Badly lit adzuki beans (i.e. very small red beans) and rice, with onion, carrot, and red pepper. Parmesan; hot sauce at the table. Adzuki beans are really, really good; I need to eat them more often.

Big salad: redskin potatoes, blanched green beans, and hardboiled egg with vinaigrette, pepper, and lots of plain yogurt.