Friday, December 30, 2011

page 213


Hello, haven't written here in some time. Hope you all had a nice Christmas. As for me I've been at home for the past few weeks on winter holiday. I haven't been cooking quite so much, but my family has been baking a lot - scones, quick bread, biscotti... I'll post pictures of the spoils sometime this week.

My dad gave me Jamie Oliver's Meals in Minutes book for Christmas, and it's filled with all sorts of delicious treats. I did a variation on page 213 for dinner tonight - super fast beef hash, lovely butter beans and bacon, and Jamie's goddess salad with a dressing made with sour cream, avocado, and lemon.


The butter bean dish was my favorite - very creamy and hearty and lots of yummy cooked tomatoes. Really good with crusty bread, an alternative beans on toast, if you will. This is the kind of food I imagine hobbits to eat ("oh that's nice... ash on my toe-mah-toes!").

The dressing for the salad (see below) was tangy and creamy and fruity and kind of nutty all at once. It was a delicious mix of avocado, sour cream, the juice of a lemon, olive oil, salt, and pepper.

Yum yum yum. A feast!


Wednesday, December 14, 2011

the 4 c's

Smashed sweet potatoes and chickpeas with the 4 C's (curry, coriander, cumin, and cinnamon) on sourdough.

Going home tomorrow!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

roasted applesauce

Jo and I made a chunky roasted applesauce for a giant potluck dinner Friday night, and it only required 5 ingredients: half a peck of apples (or 13 small apples - a mix of Empire and Honeycrisp... it's nice living in upstate New York), cinnamon (we used ground cinnamon because uhhh who do you think we are?! - but cinnamon sticks would be a treat), nutmeg (same deal), salt, and water (assuming water even counts as an ingredient?).

We used a recipe from Improv Kitchen as reference (by the way, I am crazy about the whole premise behind this blog: "recipes made to be broken" - my kinda girl).

I don't even like applesauce, but I thought this was sooo delicious. It had a nice texture, soft and mushy (talk about unappetizing words...) without feeling like baby food. The flavor was really deep and intense - we didn't add any sugar, so all the sweetness came directly from the roasted apples themselves - and the dish itself was really pretty too! Kind of a blushing pink color thanks to the skin. Ah, lovely... and something to make the apartment smell divine.

Roasted Applesauce
Adapted from Improv Kitchen

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Chop apples into bite size pieces, removing seeds and stems and other sketchy bits. Toss with cinnamon, nutmeg, and a pinch of salt. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and pour in a little bit of water to help break down the apples some more. Bake for another 30 minutes - or until soft and smashable. Remove from oven and mash everything up with a fork. (Careful, don't burn yourself.) Serve warm or at room temperature. Accept compliments with grace and a curtsy.

Also, speaking of apples... a few weeks ago I read John Seabrook's article about apples in The New Yorker. You'll have to pay for access to read it online, but if you manage to find the Nov. 21 issue, I strongly recommend purchasing it because it's all about food and there are some really fascinating reads. If you're interested in learning more about the different types of apples, this blog, Adam's Apples, is great fun as well.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

diy gift wrap

Just one final exam stands between me and the last month long Christmas holiday I'll ever have. Naturally, I've been procraftinating and watching A Charlie Brown Christmas and drinking coffee to avoid studying.

It's working pretty well.

On Tuesday, I made wrapping paper and gift tags with some of the fly femmes at the Cornell Women's Resource Center. I'm convinced that this is the best DIY project I would never have done on my own.

With just a handful of supplies, such as...
  • a big roll of butcher paper (okay, granted, I have no idea where one purchases butcher paper unless you're a teacher but I suppose you could always improvise with brown grocery bags),
  • stamps (or make your own with potatoes and vegetables - the possibilities are endless),
  • ink pads (I'm really in love with the metallic gold ink I used... it didn't go on very smooth but you know, as Jamie Oliver always says, I like it a bit more rustic anyway),
  • glitter glue, stickers, maybe even some scrapbooking paper if you're feeling fancy too can say goodbye to commercial gift wrap! Perfect for the wrapping paper savers in your life.


Saturday, December 3, 2011

miscellaneous meals


1. Cashews, pepitas, and smashed avocado on couscous.

2. Soba noodle soup with purple baby bok choy (which anticlimactically turned green upon being cooked) and bacon.

3. Thanksgiving buttermilk biscuits - not as good as the drop biscuits I normally make but definitely healthier. We had roast duck instead of turkey, so the little guy in the center was our stand-in.

4. Most satisfying meal ever: creamy avocado sprinkled with salt and pepper, a bit of crusty sourdough bread lightly drizzled with extra virgin olive oil, and mozzarella cheese.

Did you know that... the human body is roughly 70% water, 20% avocado, 10% cheese?

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

sweet potato hash


Belated post about my fancy shmancy breakfast for dinner last week. It's a sweet potato hash with bacon and onions (I've been eating more bacon this semester than I have in possibly my entire life combined...), couscous fritters, and a fried egg. I started out thinking this was going to be a legitimate, healthy dinner, but as you can see, I gave up on that pretty quickly...

The sweet potato hash was d-e-l-i-s-h. I peeled and chopped up a sweet potato* and tossed it in olive oil, salt, and pepper. Popped it in a roughly 375 degree oven for about 25-30 minutes. Meanwhile I prepped and cooked the bacon and onion on the stove and added in the sweet potatoes when they were ready. Yummo.

I can't wait for Thanksgiving when I can enter into sweet potato coma.

*Actually, according to the sign at Wegmans, these are yams. I don't fully know what the difference is, but I do know that "sweet potato" sounds a lot nicer than "yam" so I will continue to call these tubers by the incorrect name.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

chickpea stew

Every so often I have days where there's nothing I want more than a big bowl of hearty veggie stew and some nice crusty bread. My sister and I "developed" this recipe last winter. It's incredibly easy to adapt, which is one reason why I really like it. You can substitute ingredients, add more, take some out. Not a fussy dish at all and so delicious and satisfying.

Chickpea Stew

1 can chickpeas or lentils
2-3 medium potatoes - you can use pretty much anything, including sweet potatoes, except maybe baby or fingerlings which are more waxy and less creamy when cooked
Stewed or flash-steamed tomatoes (canned is okay)
Winter vegetables (squash, zucchini, carrots...)
1 large onion (yellow or red will work)
Several garlic cloves
Chicken broth
Parsley or cilantro
Cumin, paprika, fennel seeds (optional), cinnamon stick (optional)
Salt, pepper

Wash and chop all veggies into similar sized chunks. Slice garlic thinly.
Drain and rinse chickpeas.
Heat a pot over medium-high, add olive oil.
Add onions and garlic. Cook for 2-3 minutes.
Add potatoes. Cook for another 5-7 minutes.
Add spices. Cook until they become fragrant.
Add tinned tomahtoes, stir for a minute, then add winter veg and chickpeas.
Add chicken broth; or if you don't have broth, you can use water.
Simmer until potatoes are done, and then you can mash up everything with a fork.
Sprinkle with chopped parsley and a drizzle of olive oil, plain yogurt, sour cream, Parmesan cheese...
Serve with bread, rice, pasta, couscous, etc.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

pumpkin bread pudding


While surfing this great food blog a few weeks ago, I encountered the masterpiece that is pumpkin bread pudding. Naturally, I forwarded the link immediately to my friend Jo (with whom I also made the butterbeer, carved the pumpkins, and attempted to make ghost cake pops which sort of failed and floundered into sad-looking cake "truffles").

Over the weekend we decided to take on this bread pudding recipe with some minor adjustments. Most notably, we left out the ginger, cloves, and bourbon - only because none of these were on hand at the time. We also used plain white sandwich bread this time around, though a much better option would have been challah. The bread pudding was still delicious, but there are a lot of small ways you could make it even more decadent and special.

Next time you go to a potluck, sign up for dessert and bring this dish. I mean it. Everyone will gush over your incredible cooking skills (while secretly thanking God that it's not another plate of brownies), and you can sit back and twiddle your internal mustache and marvel at how smooth you are.

Pumpkin Bread Pudding
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

1-1/2 cups milk (not sure what kind... it was swiped from the dining halls)
3/4 cup pumpkin puree
1/2 cup sugar (could easily reduce to 1/3 cup)
2 large eggs plus 1 yolk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
5 cups bread, cut into 1-inch chunks
3/4 stick unsalted butter
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Put the butter in a baking dish and place into oven to melt.
Whisk together milk, pumpkin puree, sugar, eggs, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a large bowl.
Once butter is melted, remove from oven and toss with bread.
Pour custard mixture over bread, making sure everything is coated well.
Bake for 25-30 minutes until set.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

sweet potato lentil stew

As Ithaca winter approaches and the sky starts getting dark at 5pm, I find that all I really want to do is sleep and eat stew and compliment people on the fit of their pants and listen to songs like Poison & Wine by The Civil Wars on repeat. In fact, that is exactly what I've been doing today. (The perfect black pants were from Paris. Of course.)

I made this sweet potato lentil stew for dinner tonight, loosely basing it off my favorite chickpea stew recipe, which I will post here at some point in the next few days.

I'm too lazy to do a proper recipe right now - plus I don't have real measurements of anything - but I'll give a fairly accurate run through of what I did, for anyone who is interested.

Things you'll need: Garlic, onion, olive oil, a sweet potato, your favorite spices, lentils.

Peel and roughly chop a couple cloves of garlic. Chop up a small onion. Heat a pot on medium heat, add olive oil, and cook the garlic and onion together until the onion turns translucent and the smell of your kitchen makes you think your cooking skills are legit.

Peel and chop your sweet potato into bite size chunks. Add to the pot and top off with a little more olive oil. Cook for a couple minutes, stirring every so often. Add lentils (I used a can of white cannellini beans and some leftover red kidney beans) and spices (cumin, coriander, nutmeg... curry would be another nice option). Add about a cup and a half of water and cook until sweet potatoes soften.

Mash everything up to desired consistency. Serve with pumpkin seeds, feta, and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.

Monday, November 14, 2011

madam rosmerta's butterbeer

Weekend project with some friends. Back in October we made butterbeer using a recipe adapted from the one on the Huffington Post. Homemade butterscotch (butter + brown sugar), seltzer water, and butterscotch whipped cream on top. Seriously perfect for a Harry Potter party.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

healthy pasta


Shell pasta with a chunky tomato-based sauce and the rest of my broccoli rabe, which was flash boiled and then sauteed. I sort of made up the tomato sauce on the spot - 1 heirloom tomato chopped and smashed a bit, 1/4 onion roughly chopped, 1 large clove of garlic roughly chopped, about 1/2 cup of water, about 1/4 cup of red kidney beans, a bit of olive oil, salt, pepper, and I think some kind of Italian seasoning which the Internet tells me includes: MARJORAM, THYME, ROSEMARY, SAVORY, SAGE, OREGANO, AND BASIL. A sprinkle of feta and a handful of raw almonds to top it all off.

Friday, November 11, 2011

odds and ends


1. Kale sauteed with bacon and chickpeas. 2. Fiori pasta with broccoli rabe cooked in garlic and sun-dried tomatoes. 3. Broccoli rabe, thinly sliced yams, mozzarella cheese on a spinach wrap (total structural failure...). 4. Lovely November heirloom tomatoes.

Monday, November 7, 2011

more muesli for breakfast

Muesli with pepita seeds, walnuts, almonds, golden raisins, and blueberries. Now if only I had a nice big cup of coffee.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

lentil veggie stew


Lentil veggie stew with dandelion greens, served with couscous and some mozzarella cheese. This was seasoned with all of my favorite spices (cumin, coriander, turmeric, nutmeg... note to self: next time add a cinnamon stick!) and aside from the bitter dandelion greens - which I will not be bringing home again anytime soon - it was soso tasty.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

rainbow pizza monster


Just playing with different flavor combinations. Used a yellow heirloom tomato for the sauce this time, which gives off the lovely peachy orange color that sadly is not very evident in this picture. Toppings: thinly sliced caramelized onions, red bell peppers, mozzarella, and loads of arugula (a little too much, actually... I had to take off some leaves and stems for the photo, woops). Super colorful, and vegetarian this time.

I'd like to use this space to complain that most of the dishes I make take half as much time to eat as they do to prep and cook. Based on this, I can only assume that I should (a) be more efficient in the kitchen or (b) learn how to eat more slowly, like the French. Option B sounds good. I should go to France and have them teach me firsthand. (And now you know the real reason why French culinary schools are très chic.)

Sunday, October 30, 2011

halloween pumpkin-carving

I've been involved in pumpkin-carving activities exactly three times in my life. The first time was in pre-school, and my job was to take out the pumpkin guts with my bare hands (it was cold and gooey and seriously traumatizing). The second was over a decade later, during my freshman year at Cornell, when GCF held a pumpkin-carving contest. I don't remember it clearly - I know there was a lot of pumpkin-hacking going on. Mostly I watched the action from a safe distance.

This year I participated in APO's Halloween pumpkin-carving event. Pumpkins upon pumpkins upon pumpkins were provided, along with some really legitimate pumpkin-carving tools. I worked with three other girls and this is what happened (ghosties and Harry Potter pumpkin! - we were so proud):


Thursday, October 27, 2011

couscous fritters with kale & crispy bacon


Terrible photos (Instagram, you've failed me!) of a really delicious dinner from the other night: couscous fritters with kale and crispy bacon. The couscous fritters were so easy to make. You just mix about a cup of cooked couscous with your choice of flavors - I used fresh cilantro, cumin, ground coriander, salt, and pepper. Add a glug of olive oil, a tiny splash of water, and an egg to bind it all together. A minute on each side until golden brown and you're good to go. This is probably an easy way to play around with different tastes... maybe for an extra fancy kick, leave out the cilantro and press a sage leaf into the couscous before frying it (something I saw on an episode of "Jamie at Home" over the summer).

Pair with a nice glass of wine (Chardonnay, Syrah, Pinot Noir, Riesling, and Zinfandel all seem to be appropriate options according to WinedIn) and a good movie (I recommend "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" - who cares that it came out way back in 2004? It's so dreamy and sad...) and enjoy.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

pizza monster


Ridiculous (but easy) pizza concoction that I made for dinner on an equally ridiculous (but not so easy) day. I still have no tomato sauce, so I just made my own with one of my lovely heirloom tomatoes and a freakishly large clove of garlic. Topped with some torn up mozzarella, arugula, and a bit of bacon. And extra virgin olive oil. Of course. You'll notice that all of these ingredients are laying on a bed of green. That's because in addition to tomato sauce, I also have no pizza dough. I ended up using a spinach wrap instead. (I wasn't kidding when I said it was a pizza concoction.) Popped the whole thing into a 350º oven for 15 minutes and voilà, done.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

today's produce

Produce from today's trip to the Ithaca Farmers Market: dandelion greens, heirloom tomatoes, kale (looks different from last week's Russian kale which had purple stems and flatter leaves), arugula, baby bok choy with purple leaves (!), and a little bunch of cilantro.

The good thing about having so many veggies in the fridge is that I am forced to eat healthy instead of subsisting off of PB&J sandwiches. The bad thing is I have to figure out how to eat it all.

I'm thinking baked kale chips. Heirloom tomato salad drizzled with a reduced balsamic vinegar glaze. Wilted dandelion greens in lentil soup (using Uncle Etienne's recipe). Or wilted dandelion greens and bacon. YUM.

chickpea, kale, and marinated tofu fry-up

Last night's weird fry-up of chickpeas, kale, and marinated tofu. Paired with bread drizzled in extra virgin olive oil. Two things I've realized: (1) I really do not know how to cook or prepare kale... woops, and (2) my mommy still makes it the best, with little bits of bacon and garlic.

Marinade: Soy sauce, ketchup, maple syrup, garlic powder (blech), black pepper, and onions - sounds terrible, but I assure you it was quite tasty, if a bit sweet.

Friday, October 21, 2011

breakfast burrito

Originally this was going to be a ranting post in which I discuss the lack of cumulative kitchen knowledge within my apartment and lay out three fundamental tenets of kitchen courtesy, the first being "Thou shalt wash thine dirty dishes"; the second, "Thou shalt not cut meat on a wooden cutting board, ESPECIALLY when you have a track record of not washing your dirty dishes"; and the final, "When washing nonstick pans, for God's sake, DON'T USE THE SCRUBBY SIDE OF THE SPONGE."

But I decided against that. While I may have lost my favorite egg-frying pan (RIP), I have at least found another use for the avocado-bell pepper-tomato-feta cheese combination on which I survive.

Breakfast burrito (for dinner) with slightly caramelized onions, heirloom tomatoes, scrambled eggs (thanks to the one remaining clean pan in our kitchen), avocado, red bell pepper slices, a sprinkling of feta cheese, and a smear of hummus in a spinach / sun-dried tomato wrap.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

beautiful kale

Old news by now, but this is the beautiful kale I got from Early Morning Farm at the Ithaca Farmers Market this past weekend. It came with a little green cabbage worm which caught me by surprise (that is, I nearly had a heart attack when I found him stuck to my hand). I liberated him in the grass behind our apartment building and left him with a bit of kale stem for company.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

espinacas con garbanzos

Espinacas con garbanzos for dinner one night. A less fussy version than the one from Smitten Kitchen that inspired the meal. Contains spinach and chickpeas (duh), onion, tomatoes, cumin, garlic, extra virgin olive oil (not ideal for cooking but it was either that or the canola oil which is not nearly as tasty), salt, and pepper.

I didn't have tomato sauce (weird, I know, given that it's supposed to be every college kid's staple), so I just chopped up some grape tomatoes and cooked them until they were all smashed, which is actually probably a healthier option than using canned tomato sauce. I once read somewhere that although most vegetables give you more nutrients if they're eaten raw, tomatoes are an exception. It has something to do with the lycopenes being more effective once they're cooked. So hurrah, double points for me.

Quick and easy and really delicious on couscous, or pasta with Parmesan or Asiago, or some thick crusty bread.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

veggie couscous salad

Sunday lunch. Chopped raw veggies (bell pepper, grape tomatoes, avocado) on a bed of couscous, topped with feta and extra virgin olive oil. This - or at least some variation of it - is basically all I ate between February and April. Really good with chickpeas and black olives.