Monday, June 18, 2012

ways to eat quinoa


Try this out in your quinoa: Golden raisins (soaked in water to plump them up a bit) & salt and pepper cashews mixed in.

(These are a few pictures from dinner some time ago... baked salmon, sweet potato wedges, quinoa, little dinner rolls, and perfectly cooked French beans.*)

*By "perfectly cooked," I mean simultaneously tender and crispy. Yum!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

feral fruit in the 'burbs

Wild blackberries! A couple months ago I discovered this food blog that I really like. The girl who blogs also maps "feral fruit" in Melbourne, Australia, which I think is absolutely brilliant and is definitely something I want to do on my own.

My parents and I like to take my dog to this local nature trail/park in Alpharetta, and a few weeks ago we discovered a gazillion blackberry bushes everywhere. All the fruits are starting to ripen, and lots of people are already picking them. Yesterday we saw a woman and her daughter picking blackberries... They were seriously prepared - they came with a big ol' kitchen bowl!


Here's a quick tip for you - when it comes to foraging for wild blackberries, make sure to look for plump berries (ideally, they should feel almost as if they're about to burst!) and to stay away from those that are still purplish-red. Otherwise, anything you make will taste really sour and bitter. Also, watch out for all the prickly thorns. I got a bit too zealous and have my share of battle wounds to show for it.

Got to figure out what to make with all our blackberries, but I will definitely post our results soon!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

piccolini with zucchini... and squash

Finally, a post! I've been taking lots and lots and lots of food pictures... Just been lazy about uploading them all. Wah. Anyway, since I am at home for another few weeks before I move to New York, I have tons of time to share my foodie treats with you. :)

In our refrigerator, we had 1 baby squash, 2 baby zucchini, 1 large bag of carrots, 1 stalk of celery, roughly 1 cup of chickpeas, and a bit of leftover quinoa (among some other things). I decided to make a veggie lentil stew and some sort of pasta for dinner tonight, with my dad serving (sort of) as sous chef. The stew isn't that exciting since I've kind of blogged about it before, but the pasta was somewhat of an experiment.


When it comes to pasta, I'm not really a big fan of adding tomato sauce or alfredo sauce or whatever you typically see in Americanized Italian restaurants. Just give me some olive oil, some good shredded cheese, salt, pepper, and a splash of lemon, and I'm good to go. Unfortunately, we don't have lemon or any sort of passable shredded cheese, so I had to go the more minimal route, loosely based off of one of Jamie Oliver's recipes (he is the king of flavor combinations, in my opinion).

I sliced up a zucchini and a squash using a veggie peeler to get these lovely, paper-thin slices (FYI, a veggie peeler works, but a speed peeler might be more efficient). I minced 2 cloves of garlic and fried them in olive oil (be generous! - this will help dress the pasta) on medium-high heat for about 30 seconds, then added the squash and zucchini, tossed that around for a few minutes, and seasoned with salt and pepper. I tossed the zucchini-squash mixture with piccolini (made with carrot and butternut squash puree, apparently, courtesy of Barilla), and voila.

The pasta had a really nice clean taste. It's an insanely quick and easy summer pasta dish and would be great with some parmigiano reggiano, I think. Next time!

See? Truly, paper-thin!

Friday, April 20, 2012

dramatic dinner

Please enjoy this unusually dramatic photo of my dinner from a few nights ago. Sauteed baby spinach and baby bella mushrooms (ever since taking PLPA 2010, I have a whole new appreciation for our fungal friends) and an English muffin!

Monday, April 2, 2012

red yellow green

Very belated post featuring some of my favorite food colors lately.


1. Chickpeas, tofu, spinach, and tomatoes on quinoa.

2. My favorite Mediterranean mix.

3. Boring pasta with mozzarella, tomatoes, and spinach.

4. Kale! And some other stuff.

Sorry for the long wait in between posts! I've been very lazy with the cooking these days...

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

happy valentine's day

Quinoa, cooked love apples, and tofu marinated* and sauteed in soy sauce, sesame oil, and clover honey**.

Truth: I am my own best valentine. Saucy.

*Usually I'm pretty terrible at coming up with the right ratios for ingredients in marinades, but this one turned out quite nicely! Unfortunately I don't have specific measurements for you so my general advice is to make incremental changes and be sure to taste along the way. Add more soy sauce than sesame oil and enough honey so that you don't feel like you're going to bloat up and die from a sodium overdose. Good luck!

**Speaking of honey, check out the most perfect card for this blog: C'mon, honey. Bee my valentine.

Cards available for purchase from Magnolia Press for Tiny Prints and Etsy.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

the evolution of slimon, the slime mold

This semester, I'm taking a class called Magical Mushrooms, Mischievous Molds, taught by Professor George Hudler. This class is something of a beginner's foray into mycology. We had a demo session in place of class one day last week, and one of the activities at this demo session included "making" your own pet slime mold. At this DIY slime mold station, I used a scalpel to cut off a nail-sized piece of slime mold-covered agar and placed it in my petri dish, along with 10-20 oat flakes. I sealed my petri dish with parafilm (it looks like tape, but it's stretchier and more epic) and that slime mold has been growing ever since I brought it home on Thursday.

Above: Slime mold as of Thursday evening, around 6pm. I named him Slimon. He's yellow. He's the little triangular bit you see just left of center. It's not easy taking pictures of a pet slime mold in a petri dish filled with condensation.

Below: Two photos of Slimon on Friday morning, 11am. Not much has changed overnight, but he's started to produce spores, creeping out toward some of the oats nearby.


Below: Two photos from Friday afternoon, 4pm. Slimon's really starting to take off. You can see all the little networks that are forming outward in a circular pattern. Fungi tend to grow this way so as to disperse their spores most efficiently. (Interesting fact: slime molds are not really fungi - they are actually protists - but mycologists like to include them in the fungi kingdom anyway.)

What causes a slime mold to produce spores, you might ask? There are a number of factors, really, but changes in moisture and food availability are the two main factors at play here.


Below: Slimon on Saturday, 12pm. He's grown quite an amazing amount in just 16 hours. Just look at all those networks and protoplasmic strands!

Below: Slimon on Saturday, 2:30pm.

I know a lot of you might find this kind of stuff to be a bit squicky, but I think slime molds and fungi in general are really amazing and beautiful organisms on another level. They operate in mysterious ways, and there are always new species and things to discover. They've done a lot in human history (e.g., "nature's ultimate recyclers," the Irish potato famine, penicillin, the deliciousness that is the enoki mushroom...), and you have to totally respect that.

Above: Slimon, late Saturday night, around 11pm.

Below: Slimon, 12 hours later on Sunday morning, 11am.

I'll leave you with some links to more slime mold-related reading, because I find these articles to be really interesting:

Thursday, February 2, 2012

house of horrors: bon appétit edition


My dad has been a big fan of Bon Appétit since I was a kid. However, it wasn't until over winter break that I discovered the extent of the obsession. Check out the massive collection of issues that have been hidden away in our home since 1998. (Yup, that's right: We liked Bon Appétit before it was cool.) A few weeks ago, my mom finally decided not to renew our subscription - and with good reason! We're not pack rats, I swear...

Monday, January 30, 2012

dobbs ferry cowl

Back in October, I discovered this local yarn store down in the Commons, where I picked up a lovely Rowan wool yarn. You can't tell very well from the photos, but it's a very pretty deep evergreen color with blue-gray flecks embedded. I decided to use this yarn for the Dobbs Ferry Cowl from Lion Brand Yarn (if you have a Ravelry account, you can check out my project here), which I gave to my sister for Christmas.

The pattern is originally from Lion Brand Yarn but has also been made available on Martha Stewart's website.

My mom likes being mentioned on my blog, so this is a shout out to her for modeling for my pictures:

Thursday, January 26, 2012

sour cream coffee cake with pears and walnuts

The annoying thing about following recipes is that you always end up with a large container of some obscure, random ingredient that you purchased for the sake of two tablespoons, only to stick in the pantry or in the back of the fridge, never to be seen or used again.

(See: apple cider vinegar for Madam Rosmerta's Butterbeer, buttermilk for Irish Soda Bread, or sour cream for Jamie Oliver's Green Goddess Salad Dressing.)


I'm clearly not the only person who finds this irritating and highly wasteful because my mother also requested that I find a recipe to use up the 7.9oz of sour cream remaining in the 8oz container. After poking around on Epicurious, I found a seemingly promising recipe for a sour cream coffee cake with pears and pecans, which I adapted due to our lack of pecans.

The recipe is included below. This coffee cake has a great flavor, but I'm warning you, it is a pain in the PATOOTIE to make, unless you have a sous chef around to pour everything into a separate bowl and stir everything in a separate bowl and clean up your five bajillion dishes when you're done. Yeesh. I'm exhausted just thinking about it.

Sour Cream Coffee Cake with Pears and Walnuts
Adapted from Bon Appetit | October 2003

Topping ingredients
1-1/2 cups walnuts
1/3 cup light brown sugar
2 tablespoons all purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes

Cake ingredients
2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
1/3 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup light brown sugar
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2-3/4 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup milk
3-4 pears, peeled and chopped

For topping:

Blend walnuts, brown sugar, flour, and cinnamon in food processor until walnuts are coarsely chopped. Add butter and pulse on and off until coarse crumbs form.

For cake:

Preheat oven to 350°F and prepare a 13 x 9 inch baking dish with nonstick spray.

Using a mixer, beat butter in a large bowl until light and fluffy. Add granulated and brown sugar and beat well. Beat in one egg at a time. Add lemon zest and vanilla extract.

Sift flour, baking powder, salt, and baking soda into a medium bowl.

Mix sour cream and milk in a separate bowl.

Beat in sour cream mixture with butter, alternating with dry ingredients, in three additions each.

Spread half of cake batter in baking dish. Sprinkle over half of crumb topping; cover with pears. Spread remaining batter over. Sprinkle remaining crumb topping.

Bake for about 50 minutes, until top is brown and cake tester comes out clean. Allow cake to cool in pan on rack. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and store at room temperature.)

Friday, January 20, 2012

walnut-crusted tilapia

This was the feast my mom and I conjointly prepared several nights ago. It was kind of fancy. We had wilted spinach sauteed in olive oil and garlic; walnut-crusted tilapia brushed with a mixture of light mayonnaise, Grey Poupon, and fresh chopped basil; baked Japanese yams; roasted kabocha squash; and finally a small helping of quinoa.

For those who are not in the know, Grey Poupon is one of those famous flagship Dijon mustard brands, like French's for yellow mustard, except Grey Poupon has much nicer packaging. It's made with brown mustard seed and white wine, which (fun fact from Wikipedia) "is produced in upstate New York under the supervision of a rabbi, to ensure that the product maintains its kosher status." So there you have it. Grey Poupon is at least partly if not wholly (wholly, holy, ha!) rabbi-certified kosher.

My dad discovered Grey Poupon when I was in the sixth grade. Incidentally, I decided to take French as an elective that year, and from that class I can only recall two things.

The first is that le mur (pronounced something like "leh me-uh") is French for "the wall."

The second is that behind every enjoyable foreign language class, there is always a teacher campaigning for a cultural food event.

For our end-of-year soiree, my mom helped me make pain au chocolat, which according to the recipe is basically a bunch of glorified croissants with Nutella inside. Another student brought in a dish made with Grey Poupon, presumably because Dijon mustard originated in France (in Dijon, France, to be precise). In response to this weird foreign dish, one of my classmates asked, "What is it? Gray poopoo?!" And so, ever since, I've mentally referred to Grey Poupon as Grey Poopoo.

Classy. And kosher!

Walnut-Crusted Tilapia
Adapted from Epicurious

2 tbsp light mayonnaise
2 tbsp Grey Poupon
a small handful of fresh basil leaves, chopped
a pinch of salt and pepper
2 cups walnuts
4 filets of tilapia

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

In a small bowl, combine mayonnaise, Grey Poupon, basil, salt, and pepper. Stir well.

Optional: Toast walnuts on a pan over medium-high heat for a few minutes or until they smell fragrant. Coarsely chop walnuts or, alternatively, fill a Ziploc bag with walnuts and pound away using a heavy rolling pin. Spread walnuts onto a shallow dish.

Pat dry filets and coat each side with mayonnaise-mustard mixture. Press into crushed walnuts, coating each side.

Place onto a baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes or until flaky.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

light and well-rounded flavors

These are some pictures I snapped of a quick lunch - rosemary crackers topped with Boursin, smoked salmon, and fresh thyme, and on the side, a perfect hard-boiled egg with coarse salt and freshly ground pepper. I love all the textures and flavors - the creamy tangy cheese, the flakiness of the salmon, the spark of salt on your tongue, rooted by the woodiness of pepper (it's there, I promise). And of course you have that weird thyme stuff... so flavorful and yet so elusive in that "I can't put my finger on what I'm tasting but I know it's there" kind of way. It really rounds all those tastes off quite nicely. This isn't exactly "cooking" - at least, not on my part - but it's certainly good eats.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

hearty healthy dinner


In the above photos, you shall see: pan-seared salmon with a crisp, browned crust and perfectly tender on the inside; quinoa (this one caused me quite some trouble; nota bene: don't Pinterest and cook); acorn squash, roasted until slightly dehydrated and with a hint of sweetness; and my chickpea stew, always a good standby.

Really a hearty and healthy meal, and one that is perfect for the 2012 dieters that don't read this blog. Don't look at me, I'll have another cookie, please...

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

weird foods

In this edition of Weird Foods I Can Barely Spell But Love To Eat, we have quinoa with roasted kabocha squash, string beans, and grape tomatoes. Sprinkled with salted pistachios. This stuff is the bomb dot com.

Monday, January 9, 2012

ginger pine nut scones

My family has had a half gallon of buttermilk sitting in the fridge for a while now, and we have been looking for ways to use it all up. Earlier tonight, I found an interesting recipe for Ginger Pecan Scones on Epicurious, so my mom and I decided to give it a whirl. We ended up substituting toasted pine nuts for the pecans because (1) we don't have pecans and (2) we have pine nuts. It worked out rather nicely.

The recipe called for a tablespoon of baking powder, which is really quite a lot, but in my unscientific opinion, this is what makes the scones so puffy and nice and soft inside (while the outside gives you a perfectly crunchy bite). The three kinds of ginger - ground, candied, and fresh grated ginger - add an exotic tangy kick, but you get a creamy sort of depth from the toasted pine nuts. These scones are such a treat, and they are wonderful especially if you're looking for something a little bit different.


I am sitting in the kitchen as I write this post. My mother would like me to add that she played sous chef to my baker and washed the dishes after all was said and done. So woo hoo, props to my mom. Thanks for rolling up my sleeves and scratching my nose when my hands were covered in flour and dough.

Ginger Pine Nut Scones
Adapted from Bon Appetit | April 2011
Yields 12 scones

3 cups all purpose flour
2/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
12 tablespoons (or 1 1/2 sticks) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 1/2 cups pine nuts, toasted
1/2 cup crystallized ginger, chopped
1 cup plus 1 1/2 tablespoons buttermilk
1 1/2 teaspoons finely grated peeled fresh ginger
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 425°.

Whisk flour, sugar, baking powder, ground ginger, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl. Add in butter and using fingertips, blend until a course meal forms. Mix in toasted pine nuts and crystallized ginger.

Form a well in the center of dry ingredients. In a separate bowl, whisk together 1 cup buttermilk, grated ginger, and vanilla extract. Pour in buttermilk and combine until mixture becomes moist and sticky.

Transfer to a lightly floured surface. Knead until dough just comes together; divide in half. Form each half into a disk, roughly 3/4 inch thick. Cut disk into 6 slices and transfer wedges to baking sheet.

Brush each wedge using reserved 1 1/2 tablespoons buttermilk. Bake until golden, about 20 minutes.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

irish soda bread


Besides all the biscotti and other baked goods* my family and I have been consuming over the winter holiday, we've also made several loaves of Irish soda bread, with varying degrees of success. There are a bunch of different recipes out there, all of which can yield totally different textures and tastes, but the one my dad uses has proven to be pretty tried and true...

For those who are unfamiliar, soda bread is a type of quick bread that uses buttermilk and baking soda as a leavening agent, rather than yeast (hence the "quickness" of this quick bread). Some form of soda bread can be found in many different cultures and countries... This particular loaf contains both raisins and caraway seeds, which is typical of traditional Irish soda bread.


P.S. Happy first post of 2012... May it be filled with health, happiness, and good eats!
*separate post forthcoming