25 January 2010

Muffin muffin who's got the muffin


OK, how awesome are Heidi's espresso banana muffins? So awesome! And that's coming from someone not particularly into baking and/or baked things other than bread. These are from Super Natural Cooking, which is generally pretty great. And how great is it that Heidi's now working on another book? So great! Lack of adjective variation represent!

Ok: muffins. First, I am not into walnuts, so those were out. Next, I always have straight up wheat flour instead of white/wheat or any other variants, so I subbed that in. Of course there wasn't enough wheat flour, either: only a cup and a half instead of two cups. So instead of using chickpea flour or cornmeal, which were the only other flours in my freezer, I went for the bag of almonds. I finely chopped half a cup of those to sub for the missing flour, and did it ever work well. This made for 14 dense, fairly damp, exciting muffins.

That is, it would've made 14 of them had I not tipped the second muffin tin over the edge of the oven. Excellent move on my part! Of course, we got eight muffins out of the deal, so it wasn't a complete tragedy. We still managed to eat quite a few of them in a very short period of time.

20 January 2010

Maximum dinner snackosity

So on sunday for lunch I took John on a secret date! It was extremely secret, especially because it was exactly the most obvious time and place for brunch. So we had lovely brunch of massive plates of Mexican goodness at Pequeña. Coffee and hot sauce, represent!

Afterward we ran up the street (in the surprising rain-in-January with no umbrellas) and bought a lot of ridiculous indulgent out of season food: grape tomatoes and blueberries and red pepper and half a pound of beautiful deli-sliced salami full of peppercorns. Eventually, after an afternoon of relaxing, playing games and drinking nips of bourbon, I decided it was dinnertime. So here's what I did.

Salami rolls filled with love and goodness

grape tomatoes
good cheese (parmesan)
strips of sautéed mushroom

I had to break the toothpicks out of my giant box of knitting equipage, where they'd been waiting to be used as on-demand cable needles. Yes multitasking!

Quarter or thinly slice some grape tomatoes; shave some thin pieces of parmesan. For mushrooms, I had leftover sautéed bits, but you could clearly wilt them quickly yourself, or even just use thinnish raw slices. Make sure all your bits and pieces are cut into narrow, long shapes. You could also substitute out different vegetables as you see fit; herbs or greens would be particularly welcome.

Take a piece of salami and stack up a sliver or two of tomato, a piece of cheese, and a mushroom strip down its middle. Roll the sides in and secure with a toothpick. Repeat until you have as many rolls as you want to eat.

Ok! Now, you could eat them like this, but, for maximum greatness, cook them. Heat a nonstick pan on medium and lay each roll straight in. You don't need oil; the salami will render plenty. It will also spatter, so be aware. Cook the rolls briefly (maybe a minute?) on one side, then flip them. After another 45 seconds or a minute, they are done.

See, that was nothing! Eat them!

John was super excited about the results. I predict that if you come to a party at our house anytime soon, there will probably be a plate of these.

You could totally substitute anything you want in one of these rolls. Since they're cooked so briefly, just make sure you don't use, say, raw potatoes. For cheese, you could use anything that sounds good with salami: gouda, emmenthaler, romano, whatever. Vegetables could include all manner of greens, herbs, slivered pepper, green onion, olives, green beans, or sautéed eggplant. Again, whatever. For lunch today, I filled my rolls with cream cheese, grape tomato, and a handful of ripped raw chard, then ate them raw: awesome. I imagine cream cheese would be even better in the cooked rolls. Mmm, obsession with cream cheese.

Also, notice that you now have some lovely rendered fat in your pan. Use it to sauté some roughly chopped greens! I had chard and it was delightful.

19 January 2010


Right now the farmer's market is a husk of its summer full-harvest self, which is unsurprising but a little discouraging. It seems like the holidays were this huge threshold over which vegetables could not leap! Now I go to the farmer's market not only to find half the booths totally gone but also all the hardcore winter people shutting down by 1:30 instead of the usual four. Sad!

However, among those booths I do continually find many, many root vegetables. If you want turnips and rutabagas, now is the time for turnips and rutabagas, let me tell you. So! Now I come home regularly with two bunches of organic winter greens, a massive amount of mushrooms, a dozen eggs, NO BREAD (since apparently the bakery people are only stocking half their normal amount such that it is always gone by the time I get my lazy ass there), and a whack of beets. Then, along with the potatoes and yes actual turnips currently in my vegetable drawer, I have a full root vegetable component, available for exciting endeavours like BEET SOUP.

Oh yeah! BEET SOUP!

Beet soup will stain your shirt. I'm just saying. Remember to take off anything bright white before cooking. However, I find it worth it.


olive oil
veg broth
salt, pepper
lemon squeeze
optional greens/herbs (I used sorrel from the windowsill)
also optional cream cheese (due to current obsession)
a stick blender!

Ok! How did I make this again?

Right. If you don't have any veg broth, start with that. I just filled a pan halfway with water, dumped in many veg scraps from the stockpile in the freezer, and simmered it for about ten minutes. Making food out of trash represent! Yay!

In a different pan, warm some olive oil. Trim and dice some onion, garlic, or shallot. I think I used a shallot for this, but I don't really remember. Any of the above! It is fine! Throw trimmings (as least the ones that aren't totally crusted with dirt, as mine often are due to aforementioned farmer's market) into the pot of broth.

Let the onion/etc soften on medium while you go find your beets. I think I used three fairly small beets, which provided me with more than enough soup for my own nice lunch. So. Scrub the heck out of your beets under the faucet. Really get that mud off! Do it! Trim off the stem scars and the tails, then peel the beets. Put your freshly scrubbed beet peels directly into your broth pot! Yes! Cut the beets themselves in half, slice them into reasonably thin slices, and dump them in the onion pan. Add a pinch of salt, stir things up, and let everything cook together and get awesome for five minutes or so.

Now! Your broth should be bright RED, especially if you put in yellow onion peels or rainbow chard stems to totally bolster the red quality. It is ready to go! So strain your broth, putting all the liquid into the onion and beet pot. (The scraps left over are now compost.) Hopefully you'll have enough broth to totally cover your beets; if not, add water to cover. It's fine.

Now all you have to do is let the resulting red mass simmer until the beets are done. This will depend on the thickness of your slices; I'd expect about 15 minutes for thin slices, longer for thicker ones. Cover the pot and reduce the heat so no accidental bright red beet juice boils over everywhere.

When your beets are fork-tender, you are done. Pull the pot off the heat and let it cool for a minute or two while you find the stick blender. Of course if you desire you can eat it as is! I, however, find the pureed soup more to my taste. So. Puree (or not) to your liking, salt sparingly and pepper to high hell, and voila! You have a massive single serving or two more ordinary-sized servings of BEET SOUP.

Eating: because I am obsessed with cream cheese lately, and because cream cheese and beets play together so well, I put a big chunk of cream cheese in the bottom of my bowl and ladled the soup over it. Then I cut up a little bit of sorrel from the windowsill plant and strewed it semi-artfully over the top. Sorrel is pretty lemony and tart: awesome! You can clearly use parsley or spinach or chard or whatever you want, though. Finish your bowl off with another big grind of pepper and a big squeeze of lemon, especially if your sorrel situation is more normal (i.e. you have NONE of it whatsoever).

Now eat it! If you do the cream cheese trick the soup will make it all melty so you can stir everything together into bright pink slurry. I also recommend toast. Beet soup!

09 January 2010

Speaking of cream cheese

Man, I love cream cheese. I especially love it when mashed with something else, such as lots of fresh chopped herbs, or the previously mentioned avocado. So the other day I decided I needed to mash it up with pasta sauce.

Cream cheese and greens pasta

olive oil
red pepper
kale/other greens
cream cheese
basil, oregano
salt, pepper
cavatappi/other pasta

Cook the pasta at an appropriate point, as you know.

Chop up some garlic and sauté in a reasonable pan. When it's softened, add a handful of chunked or sliced mushrooms and one of chopped red pepper. Mix it all up to get the oil distributed, add a pinch of salt to express out the juice, and cook together for a few minutes.

In the meantime, bust out your tomato. I had whole canned tomatoes, so I diced up maybe three of them; you can use whatever. When the mushrooms have cooked down a bit, add your tomato to the pan. I added some juice from the can as well. Season with basil, oregano, salt, pepper, and possibly some hot pepper flake or what have you. Let it all cook, adding water if it gets too dry, for at least five minutes or so.

If you haven't put on the pasta yet, do it now.

Wash a handful of kale, cut the leaves off the stalks, and chop them up. I think I may have gotten a leaf or two or mustard greens in, since we had both. Use more greens than you think you want, since they reduce; I used enough to completely cover my entire cutting board. Add the greens to your cooked sauce (along with a splash of water if things look dry; you want this medium-wet) and let them wilt. Since I was using kale, this took five minutes; softer greens like spinach or chard will take barely any time at all.

When everything is cooked, take the pan off the heat and mix in several big chunks of cream cheese. It will totally melt into the sauce, creating awesomeness. If this addition makes your sauce too thick, add a little of your pasta water and mix.

Now you can either use it immediately or puree it with a stick blender. I roughly pureed mine because I like that kind of thing.

Drain your cooked pasta, mix it with the sauce, and eat, fresh herbs optional. Our windowsill herbs are still producing, shockingly enough, so I added some basil.

For thorough cheese overload you can throw some grated parmesan or other decent grating cheese over your bowl, but I don't know that I quite endorse that one.

08 January 2010

Fat sandwich

Lately I've been all about running up the street for bagels, which I then take home, slice, toast, and fill with thick creamy delightful things. For instance, here is a bagel with 3/4 of an avocado. The clementine is too puny to stand up to its monstrous goodness! Poor clementine. It got eaten nonetheless.

Later I had a second bagel with the rest of the avocado, cream cheese, and pepper. Fat sandwich!

01 January 2010


Last meal of the decade: aforementioned freezer black bean and kale soup, penne, parsley picked off the windowsill plants, and cheap cayenne hot sauce.

First meal of the decade: oats cooked with water, butter, and salt, with dried cranberries, dried blueberries, sesame seeds, and honey. I ate it with the first tea of the decade: Irish breakfast.