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Archive for the ‘ingredients’ Category

My new favorite part of the New York Times is Martha Rose Shulman’s weekly recipe column, Recipes for Health.  Every week she posts delicious, easy and tasty recipes using fresh and seasonal ingredients and every week I am drawn in once again.

A few weeks ago she posted a recipe for eggplant and chickpeas that made my  mouth water, and finally, last night, I had time and the ingredients to make it.

Eggplant is one of my favorite vegetables, and roasted until it is velvety and then paired with chickpeas, tomatoes and pomegranate molasses

it turns absolutely spectacular.  Now, don’t worry, pomegranate molasses is available all over the place these days, by mail order, at Whole Foods, or at your local ethnic grocer.  And it’s an ingredient worth having.  Just try it with eggplant and see!

I, of course, made a few changes to the original recipe, so here’s the version I used.

Eggplant with chickpeas and tomatoes

1 large eggplant (1 1/4 to 1 1/2 pounds), halved lengthwise then cut in 1/2-inch slices

Salt to taste

3 to 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, as needed

2 large garlic cloves, minced

1 large can fire roasted crushed tomatoes (I used Muir Glen)

3 medium tomatoes, coarsely chopped

1 teaspoon brown sugar

Freshly ground black pepper

½ teaspoon cinnamon (optional)

2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses

1 large can chickpeas, drained and rinsed

2 to 3 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley, mint and basil

Serves 4-6 as a side dish

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

Line a baking sheet with foil and brush it with olive oil.  Place the eggplant slices on the foil, salt them lightly and brush them with olive oil.

Bake for 20 minutes or until the eggplant is lightly browned and feels soft and dry to the touch.

Remove from the oven, and fold over the foil to make a packet around the eggplant slices. Allow them to soften and steam inside the foil while you prepare the rest of the dish.

Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat in a large, heavy casserole or skillet.

Add the garlic. Cook just until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

Stir in the canned and chopped tomatoes, salt to taste, sugar, pepper and cinnamon. Bring to a simmer, and simmer uncovered over medium heat for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring often, until the tomatoes have cooked down and smell very fragrant.

Add the eggplant, molasses and chickpeas. Simmer uncovered for another 20 minutes, stirring from time to time. The mixture should be thick and the eggplant should be very tender, melting into the mixture.

Taste and adjust seasoning. Sprinkle on the chopped parsley, mint and basil and serve, hot, warm or at room temperature.

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Still on vacation and now taking advantage of what’s in the farmer’s market here on the island.  Among other things at the market this past Saturday was some beautiful cauliflower — one of those vegetables that people either love or hate.

I’ve found that if you roast it, even former cauliflower-phobes can be transformed to cauliflower eaters.  And if you then puree that roasted vegetable with some roasted garlic, and lemon juice and spices, they might even become cauliflower lovers!

Roasted cauliflower puree

(makes about 1 ½ cups)

1 medium head cauliflower, broken into 1” florets

6-8 good sized cloves garlic, peeled (you can use more if you really love garlic!)

4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided

1 tablespoon paprika (you can used smoked paprika if you like)

1 tablespoon kosher salt (plus more to taste)

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper (plus more to taste)

juice of one lemon

½ cup coarsely chopped Italian parsley

Tabasco or your favorite hot sauce, optional, to taste

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Toss the cauliflower florets and garlic cloves in a large bowl with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, paprika, salt and pepper until everything is nicely coated with oil and spices.

Spread vegetables evenly on a baking sheet and put into the middle of the oven.  After about 15 minutes, shake the pan to make sure none of the cauliflower or garlic is sticking and return the sheet to the oven for about 10 more minutes.  When the cauliflower is tender and just browning on the tips of each floret, it’s done.

Let cool until vegetables reach room temperature, or refrigerate overnight.

Put the cooled cauliflower and garlic cloves, lemon juice, two remaining tablespoons of olive oil and parsley into the bowl of a food processor and process until smooth (it will be a little gritty looking—that’s as smooth as it gets).

Season to taste with additional salt and freshly ground black pepper and add hot sauce to taste.

Serve with really good chips, pita, or thinly sliced rustic bread.  Store any leftovers covered in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days.

And it really is good on a slice of homebaked bread.

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It’s here.  That part of the summer when the piles of zucchini start getting bigger and when (at least in the midwest) you have to be careful to lock your car so that no one can leave a bag of garden-fresh zucchini on the front seat.

At least that’s the joke they tell.  Funny thing is, I actually like zucchini.  My brother, though, that’s another story.  He’s famous in our family for refusing to eat zucchini and for smuggling it out to the trash in a napkin whenever it was served.  I’m not sure he would like this zucchini, but so far, everyone who has tried this version has loved it.

So, I thought I’d share it here. Just in time.

It’s not a hard recipe.  The trick is to make sure the oven is hot enough (I like it at about 450 degrees) and that the zucchini is cut into thick slices (1/2 to 3/4 inch thick).  The rest of it doesn’t seem to matter as much.

(Note:  the beautiful, ripple-edged zucchini in this picture were a gift from SV who grew them in her garden.  Thanks!)

Easy roast zucchini

(serves 2-4 people as a side dish)

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

About 2 pounds fresh zucchini

1 tablespoon Aleppo pepper

1 tablespoon smoked paprika

¼ teaspoon ground ginger

1 teaspoon Nanami Togarashi assorted chili pepper* (or cayenne pepper to taste)

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 teaspoon kosher salt (or more to taste)

Spread 1 tablespoon of the olive oil on a sheet pan.

Slice the zucchini into rounds ½ to ¾ inch thick and place them on the oiled pan, sliding them around to ensure that the undersides are coated with olive oil.

Brush the tops of the zucchini slices with the rest of the oil.

Mix all of the spices together in a small bowl and sprinkle them as evenly as possible over the tops of the zucchini slices.  I sometimes use the brush I used to spread the oil to more evenly distribute the spice mixture.

Put the pan into the oven.  Check it after about 20 minutes and shake the pan a bit to make sure that none of the zucchini is sticking.

Put the pan back into the oven and check it again after about 5 more minutes.  If the zucchini isn’t browning yet, put it back for another few minutes.

When the edges of the zucchini start to brown, flip the slices over and return the pan to oven for another 5 or 10 minutes, until all the slices are turning brown around the edges.

Slide the zucchini into a serving bowl, spiced side up.

Serve straight from the oven or at room temperature.

*available at Asian food stores (I got this jar at Uwajimaya)

Give this recipe a try and let me know what you think.

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One of the things I do to get inspired to post on my own blog is read other blogs, especially food and knitting related blogs.  I have a few favorites (some of them are listed in the right-hand column — take a look) that I check regularly.

The other day during a brief break at work (it’s been really busy there lately so there haven’t been many breaks), I checked out Heidi Swanson’s blog 101 Cookbooks.  I love her site because it is so beautiful and because the food is always good.

The recipe she posted last week caught my eye right away.  The photo of the finished loaf cake was striking, the recipe looked like something I could make with ingredients I had at home, and I haven’t baked in a while.

Of course, I did have most of the ingredients, but I also had some bananas that needed to be used and I didn’t have any garam masala in my spice drawer.  Heidi suggested that bananas could be substituted for the roasted winter squash in her recipe, and encouraged bakers to use other spices if they had no garam masala.

I mashed one very ripe banana (happily that gave me exactly the 1/2 cup I needed), and decided to use Chinese 5 spice to replace the garam masala.

The cake turned out really well (though it needed a bit less time in my oven than the original recipe called for — my loaf was fully baked in about 45 minutes).

Give it a try and let me know what you think.

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Happy New Year!

We didn’t celebrate late into the night (still recovering from a long flight and a very late arrival home the night before), but before we went to bed we did manage to pull together the batter for a wonderful New Year’s tradition (well, it should be a tradition, anyway), what the Joy of Cooking calls Raised Buckwheat Blini.

Blini are little pancakes, traditionally associated with Lent in Russia and the Ukraine, served with caviar or, in my house, smoked salmon, and creme fraiche.  Raised refers to the fact that they are made with yeast and need to rise for at least an hour before making (I refrigerated the batter overnight after it’s initial rise).  The yeast makes them light and airy, the buckwheat gives them a nutty flavor and a lovely brown color.

They can be made on an ordinary griddle, like any other pancakes, but they are even better when made on a “platar” or “plett” pan.

Here’s the recipe, straight from the pages of the Joy of Cooking (1997 edition).

Raised buckwheat blini

1 ½ cups milk

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 teaspoons active dry yeast

2/3 cup all-purpose flour

2/3 cup buckwheat flour

2 tablespoons sugar

1 teaspoon salt

3 large eggs, lightly beaten

Combine the milk and butter in a saucepan and heat gently until the butter has melted. Remove from the heat and let cook until it is between 105 and 115 degrees F.  Sprinkle with the yeast and let stand until the yeast is dissolved (about 5 minutes).

Whisk together flours, sugar and salt in a medium bowl and pour the wet ingredients over them, whisking until just combined.  Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until the batter has doubled in volume, about one hour.

Once the batter has risen you can make the pancakes right away, or refrigerate the covered bowl for up to 24 hours; let stand at room temperature for about 20 minutes before proceeding.

Stir to deflate the batter and whisk in the lightly beaten eggs.

Prepare and preheat your platar or griddle.  For the platar, spoon or pour about 2 tablespoons batter into each depression.  Cook until the top of each blini is speckled with bubbles and some of the bubbles have popped, then turn and cook until the underside is lightly browned.  (The easiest way to turn blini is to spear them with a thin skewer, nail or knitting needle; you can also slip a narrow icing spatula under the cakes.)  If you are using a griddle, spoon a scant ¼ cup of batter for each pancake, leaving space between cakes for some expansion.  Serve immediately or keep warm in a 200 degree oven while you finish cooking the rest.

They are also good with a little jam on top (Marionberry in this case).

Fresh grapefruit as a side,

and everyone is sure to clean their plate.


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Negroni time

Something about the holiday season puts me in the mood for a festive drink before dinner. Lately, S seems to be in the same mood, and his current favorite cocktail is a Negroni — the classic drink made with gin, campari and sweet vermouth.

When I first started making this cocktail I stayed true to the traditional 1:1:1 ratio and used the same amount of each ingredient in my drinks.  Over time, though, I have come to prefer my Negronis a little less sweet, a little more bitter and a little heavy on the gin.  And since I make them, S likes them that way too!

The recipe is still very easy.

For one drink, I pour 2 ounces of good gin (I like Plymouth), 1 1/2 ounces Campari, and 1 ounce Sweet Vermouth into a shaker filled with ice.  I shake gently, just enough to thoroughly chill the mixture, and pour it into a glass over an orange peel or a slice of orange for garnish.

Not only does it taste great, but it looks just right for the holiday season.

Give it a try and let me know what you think.

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Well, now it’s really fall.  In fact, with snow in the forecast, some might say fall is over and gone.  Luckily there are still some wonderful apples in the markets, and on Saturday while shopping at New Seasons I had a taste of a phenomenal ripe pear.

The other day it was the apples that inspired me, though.  My mother used to make applesauce every fall and the bowl full of heirloom apples on the counter was too good to resist.

Applesauce is an uncomplicated dish, but before I got started I thought I’d look around for some inspiration.  The Gourmet Cookbook had just the thing — a simple recipe with a touch of calvados (brandy made from cider quality apples).  I just happened to have a bottle of Clear Creek Apple Brandy on the shelf, too.

Brandied Applesauce

(loosely adapted from The Gourmet Cookbook)

1 pound assorted firm and flavorful heirloom apples, peeled, cored and cut into 1-inch pieces

½ cup fresh-squeezed orange juice

½ cup brown sugar

½ teaspoon orange zest

1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon

2 tablespoons apple brandy

Combine apples, orange juice, sugar, zest and cinnamon in a heavy saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally.  Cover, reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes.

Remove lid and simmer until most of the liquid has evaporated, 5-10 minutes.  Add the apple brandy and simmer for about one minute more.  Remove from heat and mash with a fork or a potato masher until it is a chunky sauce.  Cool (the juices will thicken as the sauce cools).

Makes about 1½ cups.  Can be stored, covered, in the refrigerator for 3-4 days.

Of course, I had to make a few changes to the original recipe — I used fresh-squeezed orange juice and orange zest in place of water and lemon zest, and substituted brown sugar for the white granulated sugar.  I think it turned out perfectly, let me know what you think.

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