Wednesday, October 22, 2014

apple turnovers







I have been writing this blog for a little over 4 years. It began as a way to express my joy of baking and my ability to learn how to cook. You see, I started off not being a very good cook, and not wanting to know how to be one. I trusted my partners to make our daily sustenance. In fact an ex-boyfriend called me recently, he'd seen my blog posts and queried, "So, now you cook?

So, now I cook. But my husband makes the lion share of the meals. He makes dinner almost every day and I am eternally grateful for it. I am slowly learning ho to make things without a step by step recipe to follow, and it is a huge relief. I am living proof that anyone can learn how to cook. And feel so much better for it.

I have always been a baker, but never been able to make flaky pie crust... until now. The trick, I discovered a few weekends ago, is do not mix the butter in. Do no use a food processor. Use two knives and keep it chunky. It will melt when cooked and become the wonderful crust you wish for. Truth.

Apple Turnovers
Makes 15, adapted from Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything cook book

Filling Ingredients
  • 4 tart apples, cored, peeled, and grated
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • Zest of 1/2 lemon
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
Crust Ingredients
  • Scant 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 15 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 6 tablespoons ice water
Instructions
  1.  Combine dry crust ingredients. Add butter, cut into small bits. Take two butter knives and chop up butter further until they resemble peas.
  2. Add water one tablespoon at a time and work together with hands until combined. Place in fridge for 1/2 hour or freezer for 10 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, combine all filling ingredients. Taste and add more sugar, cinnamon or lemon as needed.
  4. Roll out dough to 1/4 thickness. Cut into 4-inch squares, or any shape that works.
  5. Place 1-2 tablespoons of filling in center of each square, cover with dough. Score on top two or three times for air vents. Brush with water and sprinkle with sugar.
  6. Place on parchment covered baking sheet. Bake at 350F for 40-55 minutes.
  7. Serve hot or room temperature.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

real banana pudding








In the past two months I have had the pleasure of getting to know the parents at my son's new school. The energy and enthusiasm I am witness to as we all work to make a fabulous school even more fabulous is inspiring and awe provoking.

I have been sitting on every committee meeting I can manage, we've been in conversation about grant writing, discretionary funds, government council members and policies, and through it all we are forming a marvelous community. I feel so fortunate to be a part of this process and to be able to get to know these amazing people.

Did you see the recent Sunday NYTimes Magazine article written by Mark Bittman about teaching our children to eat well? This has further inspired me to think about how food is presented in schools and how we can offer healthier options for children when they are not under the supervision of their parents. I for one remember using all my lunch money to buy candy and am worried that if the schools do not offer only healthy options children will follow their taste buds and not their parent's guidance.

The fact that the DOE offers chocolate milk as an option, because they are being strong armed by the dairy industry, blows my mind. Hopefully we can remedy these issues. If not for all school than just one at a time. 

Now that I am writing this I wonder if my banana pudding recipe would taste okay without the added sugar. I should try it out. I have only tried this with cows milk but I don't see why it couldn't be made with soy or almond.

Real Banana Pudding
Serves 3-4

Ingredients
  • 3 ripe bananas
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons corn starch
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups milk of your choice
Instructions
  1. Mash bananas well.
  2. Combine dry ingredients in a saucepan. Add wet ingredients. Heat pan on medium heat and stir continuously until pudding boils and thickens. 
  3. Pour into bowls and refrigerate until cooled. 

Monday, October 13, 2014

easy peasy black bean chili



I have had a very eventful month. I really do not want to be one of those people who say, No news is good news, but I would have gladly done without the events in question.

I had the flu. Not your average run-of-the-mill flu. The I-think-I-have-Ebola kind of flu. No bleeding from orifices but a head ache that would split a sequoia trunk.

A week later my back gave out with sciatica. I was immobile for three days. I started imagining my life in constant pain - and what a pain in the you know what that would make me... then it magically went away.

And this last Thursday I was in so much pain from my resident 4-cm diameter fallopian tube cyst that I was hospitalized. Okay - maybe TMI. Sorry

Now I am fine. I am in the country enjoying the last weekend of our summer house before we close for the winter. How things can change on a dime in a few days is amazing. Hurray for change - of the positive variety. And have some chili while we are at it.

Easy Peasy Black Bean Chili
Serves 2-4

Ingredients

  • 2 Table sppons canola oil
  • 10 oz can of Black Beans, drained
  • 10 oz can of diced Tomatoes
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and sliced
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • I teaspoon cumin powder 
  • Salt to taste
  • Fresh cilantro leaves
  • Feta cheese or sour cream and cilantro for garnish
Instructions
  1.  Heat oil in sauce pan. Add onion and cook until translucent. Add garlic and cook until fragrant. Add jalepano pepper and cook briefly.
  2.  Add tomatoes and beans and spices and cilantro. Cover and simmer until flavors meld.
  3. Serve hot with feta/sour cream and cilantro leaves.



Tuesday, September 30, 2014

zucchini tomato and sage soup


Flu season is upon us I was given a heaping dose of it. I kid you not I thought I had Ebola for a moment: my head was exploding with pain.

Therefore it is time again to bring out the soups. This one fell together nicely and bears repeating. A very simple one-pot preparation with fabulous results. There's nothing like homemade soup when you have a cold...

Zucchini Tomato Sage Soup
Serves 2-4

Ingredients
  • 2 Zucchinis, roughly sliced
  • 1 box grape Tomatoes (or a can of diced tomatoes... or any kind of tomatoes would do)
  • 2 Tablespoons Oil
  • 2-3 teaspoons garlic, roughly chopped
  • 8-10 leaves fresh sage
  • 1-2 cups water
  • Salt to taste
Instructions
  1. Heat oil in a large sauce pan on low heat. Add garlic and salt and saute until fragrant. Add zucchini and saute until starts to turn translucent and slightly wilted. Add tomatoes, sage, and water. 
  2. Cover and cook until melded. Using a stick blender blend until the consistency you like. You can make it super smooth or leave it chunky. I prefer it chunky.

Monday, September 22, 2014

smashed pea avocado toast


So, word on the street is Avocado Toast is the new Kale Salad, or something like that. It's okay by me. I love a nice smooth avocado on some crunchy, crusty bread.

This recipe includes some nice Mexican flavors like cilantro and lime. I added a sprinkle of cayenne pepper on top for a little kick.

And here is a craft my son made up. He wrapped a piece of paper towel with orange tape and said it was a rock. Then he said the rock needed a dinosaur so I made a T-rex.

Another great way to use this avocado mixture is spread some on a toasted tortilla and place a fried egg on top.

Smashed Pea Avocado Toast
Adapted from Food52

Ingredients
  • 1 cup green peas, fresh or thawed
  • 1 large handful of cilantro
  • 1 piece fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
  • 1 lime juiced
  • 2 avocados
  • 1 clove garlic
  • Salt and pepper and cayenne pepper or any other spice you like
Instructions
  1. Combine all ingredients in a food processor. Pulse until mostly combined - or how you like.  I happen to like mine chunky.
  2. Serve on toast of your choice. Sprinkle with cilantro leaves and spices.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

plum fruit leather

School is now in session. 

Whew.

If you knew what I've gone through to get here you'd understand my long silence. Influenced also by a crashed hard drive and end of summer woes. 

But we don't need to talk about the past. Let's look toward the future. A future of new experiences and all things fall, which can't be bad.

To celebrate fall I've begun a new kind of cooking.

In addition to cooking in the kitchen I've begun to make enamel jewelry. After thinking about it for over a year I finally had a private lesson at Liloveve with the talented Emilie Shapiro and I am now hooked. Expect to see more jewelry in future posts... and hopefully a new Etsy shop.

Another thing I've been wanting to do for a long time is make fruit leather. I figure now is the time since every parent is casting around their kitchen for something relatively healthy and low maintenance to throw into the lunch box. The perfect back-to-school snack.

Plum Fruit Leather

adapted from Natashia's Kitchen

Ingredients
  • Plums
  • Sugar (optional)
Instructions
  1.  Preheat oven to 400. Please washed, halved and pitted plums skin side down on a rimmed baking sheet. Cook for 15-20 minutes, you want to avoid burning them, so check on them.
  2. Puree in food processor. Add sugar to taste or skip it. I tasted the plum puree and decided to go without sugar.
  3. Line same rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Pour puree into baking sheet and smooth to level out, you want 1/8 to 1/4 inch thickness.
  4. At this point we are just trying to dry the stuff out and not cook it, so if you have access to open air and sunshine, place it in sun for 2 days. If not, place it in an oven at lowest temp, no higher than 140F. Leave in center shelf for 6-8 hours. Leather is done when it is smooth to touch and not tacky.
  5. Roll up in the parchment paper and cut into sections.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

thai salad with peanut lemon dressing









Back in the City and gearing up for the new school year. We are starting a new school and I am full of apprehension about the great unknown. Certainly it will all work out but the waiting and unknowing is tough.


So, crispy tofu. Weird concept, right? I mean why are we trying to make something the consistency of a marshmallow all crunchy and crusty on the outside while still creamy warm on the inside... don't answer that.


This recipe was a success. I was able to get those little wobbly cubes into some form of tasty crispy meal - with flavor like you wouldn't believe. But then, you really can't go wrong with Thai flavors - basil, lime, red chili paste... these are the things dreams are made of.


Or, if you're my son, a time machine that takes you to the Time of the Dinosaurs is.


Thai Salad with Marinated Tofu
Adapted from Shutterbean

Salad Ingredients
  • 1 16 oz. package extra firm tofu, drained
  • 1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus more for broiling
  • 2 tablespoons Thai red chili paste
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 2 heaping cups cubed cucumbers
  • 2 cups green beans, chopped in quarters
  • 2 cups halved cherry tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup loosely packed fresh mint leaves, plus more for garnish
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh Thai Basil leaves, plus more for garnish
  • 1 medium head
Peanut Lemon Dressing
Adapted from Little Spice Jar

Dressing Ingredients
  • ¼ cup almond butter
  • 2 and ½ tablespoons rice vinegar
  • ½ teaspoon sesame oil
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 and ½ tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
Instructions
  1. Place the tofu on a plate and weigh it down with another heavy plate on top. Set aside to press for 30 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, to make the marinade, in a medium bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, olive oil, red chili paste, and sugar until smooth. When the tofu is ready, dry it with a paper towel and cut into 1-inch cubes. Add to the bowl with the marinade and toss gently to coat making sure that all tofu is in one layer in the bowl. Cover, chill and allow to marinate for at least 1 hour, or overnight.
  3. Preheat the broiler. Arrange the tofu in a single layer on a lightly oiled, small baking sheet, discarding the marinade. Broil about 6 inches from the flame for 15 to 18 minutes, turning every 3 minutes or so, until deeply browned. Make sure to toss lightly so as not to cut into the cubes.
  4. While the tofu broils, make the dressing. Whisk all ingredients in a small bowl.
  5. Assemble salad, add tofu and dressing and enjoy.