Monday, November 4, 2013

The Autumn Edition

Fall is here! Texas has gotten its act together and we are having beautiful chilly days and colorful leaves, the whole shebang. I love love love love it and have been celebrating by eating these *amazing* pumpkin waffles twice a week (luckily for me they make a big batch and freeze beautifully). We've eaten them for breakfast, lunch, dinner, for dessert and for a late night snacking. We've had them with regular syrup, butterscotch syrup (recipe below because this was the Best Thing I Ate this Month), with butterscotch syrup and whipped cream, plain warmed out of the toaster, and with Blue Bonnet Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream (which you should try if you can).
These waffles are dense, spiced, and filling, just a little sweet, and they feel healthy because of the pumpkin/whole wheat combo. They're not crispy on the outside which is something James was wary about initially, but they hold up beautifully to syrup, and I haven't gotten any complaints. Bonus: they make your house smell like fall.

Pumpkin Waffles (adapted from Two Peas and their Pod*)

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
4 large eggs, beaten
2 cups milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup canned pumpkin
2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

Preheat your waffle iron.
In a large mixing bowl, combine wet ingredients. Your butter will solidfy a little when you mix it with the cold milk, but it shouldn't cause you any problems.
 In a separate bowl, combine dry ingredients thorougly.
Add dry ingredients to wet and mix until the two are just incorporated.
Use Pam or brush baking oil on your warmed waffle iron. Bake according to manufacturer's direction (mine had a red light/green light system) till cooked through. Keep warm in warm oven or tortilla warmer. Or, better, just eat them straight without even sitting down.
This recipe yields 6-8 waffles on a large iron. Freeze extras and reheat in toaster (I usually have to toast them twice to get them warm all the way through. Post-toaster, they're crispier, a little browner, and still delicious.)

*If you go to the original recipe, you'll notice a bunch of amazing stuff that I took out. Like brown butter. And buttermilk. If you're  a brown butter enthusiast, you'll probably have to make them once to convince yourself that with the whole wheat and spices, it really doesn't add a lot to the recipe (tragedy). Also, feel free  to used buttermilk if you have it (or add 1 T vinegar or lemon juice to each cup of milk), but I tried it both ways and am not convinced it makes much of a difference.

Butterscotch syrup
I stole this recipe (and directions) straight from Smitten Kitchen--I've tried some other versions (watch for my upcoming Harry Potter post for details) and this is easiest and most delicious.

1/4 cup (4 tablespoons, 2 ounces or 1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1/2 cup (about 109 grams) packed dark or light brown sugar (I used dark)
1/2 cup (118 ml) heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon (2 grams) flaky sea salt (or 1/4 teaspoon regular salt), plus more to taste
1 1/2 teaspoons (8 ml) vanilla extract, plus more to taste

Melt butter in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat. Add the sugar, cream and salt and whisk until well blended. [A flat whisk works great here.] Bring to a very gentle boil and cook for about five minutes, whisking occasionally.
Remove from heat and add one teaspoon of the vanilla extract, stirring to combine and this is where, despite the simplicity of the recipe, you get to feel all “chef-y”. Dip a spoon in the sauce and carefully taste the sauce (without burning your tongue!) to see if you want to add additional pinches or salt or splashes of vanilla. Tweak it to your taste, whisking well after each addition. I ended up using a full teaspoon of flaky salt and the listed amount of vanilla to get a butterscotch sauce with a very loud, impressive butterscotch flavor but the strength of your vanilla and intensity of your salt may vary.
This sauce will keep at least two weeks in an airtight container in the fridge.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Tofu-week continues:

I made a ginger-lemon vinaigrette to go with a spinach salad for a last minute party a month or two ago, and it was delicious. I've found a couple of versions of the vinaigrette online, and though my dinner tonight used one of the online versions I think I'm going include the one I whipped up because I like it better.

This is another soba noodle and tofu dish: I'm working my way through a block of tofu (I generally forget about tofu once I've stored it in my fridge, but am trying to use it all this week), so similar structurally to the miso soup I made yesterday, but the flavors are much sharper.

1. Soba noodles: boiled, drained.
2. Tofu: sliced into inch-sized cubes, fried in cooking spray (canola oil, I resprayed every 5 or so minutes) a couple of minutes on all sides until brown and crunchy. (I cut my tofu small and it ended up being kind of oily. I would also salt next time). At the very last minute, add a teaspoon of sesame seeds so they can roast up.
3: Vinaigrette: juice one lemon. Add an equal amount of oil (I used a cheap, tasteless olive, but veggie would be fine), a tablespoon or two of sweetener (agave nectar was really good, honey works well, sugar would be great too), grate in the rind from half your lemon, an inch and a half of fresh ginger, red pepper flakes, salt (a couple teaspoons--to taste) and pepper. Whisk with a fork until all the ingredients are incorporated.

Toss everything together in a lovely blue bowl (I will get a camera and photos up one of these days) and enjoy!

Tuna fish

has always been my favorite sandwich. Even when I was a (not particularly picky) second grader. I was a traditionalist for the first half of my life: mayo, pickles, celery, mustard, combined with grilled cheese if I was feeling ambitious. But my friend Liz blew my mind with her addition of apples, carrots, onions, chunks of mozzarella, whatever was in the fridge. Ever since that sunny afternoon (we were studying for a physiology test) I've appreciated tuna's blank-canvas appeal. Today's salad was a desperate scramble for what was in my fridge and I think it turned out great.

To one can of tuna (drained) I added a tablespoon or two of mayo (I use the olive oil based version which seems a little less weird/fatty/gross--I do like my tuna creamy) (not enough that it's drippy/sloppy though, just enough to moisten up the tuna), a tablespoon or so of diced fresh parsley, 3 sliced green onions, a couple-bites-worth of finely grated raw sweet potato (my friend's mom offered raw sweet potato slices on a tray of crudite, I didn't love it, but it's not bad raw, it's nice and crunchy, and quick) (I ended up with two big tablespoons-full), I also added a leaf of kale that I roughly chopped and seered in a pan with some cooking spray (I heated the pan, added the kale, stirred for a minute or two, then covered the pan and let the kale steam and wilt).

I mixed the lot up, added salt and pepper, smeared on toasted wheat bread and enjoyed. :)

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Miso soup with a lime and cilantro twist

This recipe is mostly inspired by 101 Cookbooks. It's been this weird really cold spring weather here this week, so a nice light soup is sort of perfect. I added the lime I think? And her recipe doesn't call for dashi which is supposed to make a difference...

I *love* miso, I'm pretty sure it's better than chicken soup if you're feeling under the weather, particularly if that weather is caffeine, candy, sleep-deprivation, and/or paper-writing induced.

In one pot, start a handful of soba noodles boiling (I used good whole wheat spaghetti noodles this weekend and was pretty happy with the results). In another, start your broth: 4 C water plus 1 t dashi powder (I follow my bottle's directions). When that's boiling add 1-2 inch slice of tofu cut into small cubes, a handful of spinach, 3 green onions, chopped. The idea here is to warm everything up, not to simmer it, so when the dashi has returned to a boil, take it off the heat. In a ladle or small bowl mix 3 T miso paste with a little water and once the dashi has stopped boiling (miso loses its flavor when it's boiled apparently?) mix that in.

Your noodles should be about done. Drain and divide into two bowls. Top with a tablespoon or so (each bowl) diced cilantro and a squeeze of lime. Pour miso broth over top and serve.

Light and tangy and comforting and wonderful.

(I might try it with some red pepper flakes next time--I sort of like the idea of a fish-sauce-less pho, which this recipe comes to resemble more every time I make it.)

Sweet potato+dark greens

So dark green and orange vegetables seem to be sort of a thing, right? I can't imagine that they are the only healthy vegetables around, but there's obvs fiber+vitamins. And plus: Kale and sweet potatoes are pretty much the most delicious combo in the history of the world. If I'm feeling really ambitions I'll pair them with something grainy, but tonight I didn't feel like investing time in brown rice and delicious all-veggie dinner sounded light and perfect.

I sauteed a couple of teaspoons of garlic in a tablespoon or so of olive oil, then added probably two cups of spinach and chopped kale plus salt and pepper. I let them soften up a little, then covered the pan and turned down the heat to let them steam. Then I microwaved a small-ish sweet potato (I usually roast, but, again, was feeling kind of low energy), peeled and mashed it, and stirred in the greens. Success. The kale goes sweet (like cooked broccoli) and adds crunch to the spinach, sweet potatoes are the most delicious food I know of, and the garlic ties it all together.

1. Does anyone else feel itchy-throated after eating kale? Should I cook it longer? Drink more water? I love the stuff, but wonder...

2. How do you keep spinach+greens fresh? They wilt in my fridge, get soggy in their plastic bags. This week I tried chopping the ends and keeping them in water like flowers (this worked great for the kale and for my parsley and cilantro, but spinach seems finicky).

Monday, February 28, 2011

Shiitake Mushroom-Brown Rice Pilaf

I made the initial sautee super flavorful (thus the onion-and-a-half) so the flavor would survive the brown rice.

Melt 1/4 C butter in a heavy pan. Add like 3/4 C onion and cook for 3 minutes (till the onions start getting juicy, but you don't need to carmelize unless you'd like to). Add 10 roughly diced shiitake mushrooms to the mix, stir up once, add a generous pinch of thyme and cook, covered, for 10 minutes or until the mushrooms soften up and the sautee starts to smell unearthly. At this point I uncovered added a couple tablespoons white cooking wine, let it boil down, and then 2.5 C chicken stock and 1 C long-grain brown rice.

Cook on low heat for 45 minutes or until your rice is soft. You may need to stir a little and add some more liquid toward the end. Also, I just followed the cooking directions on the package of brown rice plus the mushroom goodness--if you use a different kind of rice your broth-rice ratio may be a little different. Also also, I think you need a little butter for flavor, but you could use olive oil instead.



I don't like food blogs. I think they're hard to pull off and I don't have a good camera and good food photography is a saving grace of food blogs.

That being said, I really like food. I like good food the best, but I like bad food and weird food and most particularly new food. So I'm going to try a new blog to write about delicious food. And also probably not delicious food. And to post recipes and reflections and ideas. I think. Will be the idea.