October 29, 2008

Tomatillo Sauce...and other things

Sorry guys, no photos this time. I'm posting this recipe real quick for reference. We'll all probably have photos in a little bit.


1 pound fresh tomatillos
1/2 small red onion, very finely diced
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
2 Serrano or other hot green chilies, seeded and finely chopped
1 to 2 Tbs. cilantro leaves, chopped
Sugar, if needed
Mild Vinegar to taste

Roast the tomatillos in a 400F oven until they start to crisp, about 30 minutes, maybe. Make sure to turn them over every 10 minutes or so. After they are done, drop them, the onion, garlic, chilies, cilantro, vinegar, and salt into a food processor. Food process the hell out of all of this until it is sauce-like (blender may work better). Give it a taste and if too sour, add some sugar.

The flavor can be deepened by sauteing the onions in butter before they go into the blend. This should cut the sharpness of the onion and thus the overall sauce.

And we're done.

But...some quick words on low fat enchiladas:
1. Substitute hummus (homemade) for the cheese.
1 can chickpeas
1 Tbs. tahini
1 clove garlic
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. lemon juice
Work it all in a food processor until spreadable. Good with other things beside enchiladas of course.

2. Make your own low fat beans or chili.
Quick and easy Black Bean Chili:
1 tsp. olive oil
1 can black beans
1/2 small red onion
1/4 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. oregano
2 tsp. chili powder
2 tsp. paprika
1 garlic clove, crushed
Saute the onion and garlic in the oil for a few minutes, add the spices and cook for another 30 seconds. Add the beans and water, bring to a boil then lower and let the water cook away. Should be left with a very viscous black bean chili in about 10-15 minutes.

I like to stack my enchiladas instead of roll them. Cover the bottom of your dish with some sauce and lay down some tortillas to cover. Spread on some hummus, then some chili. More tortillas, then sauce, then hummus and chili. Make sure to end with a layer of tortillas covered in sauce. Sarah and I are bad because we then spread mozzarella all over the top of it. We can't help ourselves. If you keep the cheese off this can actually be vegan...amazing.

October 26, 2008

Red Devil (Beet) Cake

So I had some friends over a while back who are big chocolate fans (choc cake, choc brownies, choc choc...everything) and wanted to put together a dessert. I'm usually a pie or cobbler person myself but was in the mood to branch out. I also had some red beets left over from the previous week's veggie delivery from our local CSA (Two Small Farms). So I've got beets, and I've got chocolate cake desire...and I guess red beets would go well with chocolate.


1 1/4 cups beet puree
3 eggs
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cups flour
3/4 cups cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda

After having cooked and blended the beets to a bloody pulp (don't get this bloody pulp anywhere outside of the pot...beet stains suck) heat the oven to 350F. In a new bowl beat the eggs very well, until they reach a lemony yellow color (they should also gain some volume). Beat in the oil, vanilla, sugar and salt until all well combined (i.e.: no residual grittiness from the sugar). Work in the beet puree. Sift together flour, cocoa, and baking soda. Work this into the beet-egg mix in three stages until all is nice and moist.

Yeah...it's purple.

Pour this into one 9" round cake pan that has had a round of parchment paper placed in its bottom. Parchment paper is not absolutely necessary but makes getting the cake out...cake. If no parchment paper: grease the bottom of the pan and dust with flour, this should help the cake slide out when finished.

Bake at 350F for about 30-40 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean. Let the cake cool completely before trying to get it out of the pan, it's an ass to work with when warm. Top with cream cheese frosting (or whatever your little heart desires) and stuff your face.

October 24, 2008

Orange and Thyme Turkey Tenderloins wth Sweet Potatoes!!

This is a pretty simple Fall recipe. You can always substitute yams for sweet potatoes, but I like sweet potatoes better because they are tastier and more nutritious! I made this dish (with help) for 6 people, so I doubled the recipe, although I will post the normal amounts here.


2 turkey tenderloins (hardly any fat)
2 lbs. of sweet potatoes
1 medium onion
1/2 cup orange juice
1/3 cup chicken broth
2 tbs. thyme (fresh is better!)
3 tsp. honey
3 tsp. Dijon mustard

First, peel the sweet potatoes and chop them into 1-inch cubes. Then, chop the onion into 1/2 inch, smallish pieces.

Next step is to combine the orange juice, chicken broth, Dijon mustard, honey and thyme in a medium sized bowl and wisk together until all ingredients are mixed. Make sure the honey is room temperature, or else it will be hard to wisk. If you are using fresh thyme (I hope you are) be sure to take all the tiny leaves off the stems. Set aside for later.

Then, get a largish pot, put it on med-high heat and brown both sides of the turkey tenderloins.

When the turkey tenderloins are nice and browned, add the sweet potatoes and onions, making sure to move the turkey tenderloins to the top of the pot. Then pour the orange juice mixture on top.

Cover and simmer for about 15-20 minutes or until the sweet potatoes are done, stirring occasionally. It should look like this when its done. Yum!

The final step is to remove the turkey tenderloins and cut them into slices and serve alongside of the sweet potatoes. When it came time to eat this, I had no complaints.

October 21, 2008

Quinoa, the Super Grain!

Here is an NPR post about the awesomeness of quinoa. It also has three really nice quinoa recipes!

Woot for Quinoa!

the egg crisp is born

Sometimes a tortilla needs to go crispy. Even when you had hopes of folding it sensuously around the innards of your meal.

On a late night in my kitchen like tonight, the only vegetable in my pantry is garlic. So, I reached into the far corners of my vegetarian kitchen and looked for a way to make tortillas with garlic a little more interesting.

Here is the story of the egg crisp. Tortillas from the freezer, a little garlic from the market, pine nuts from the co-op, eggs from the crate, and cheese from a cow.. is all you need for a surprisingly satisfying meal.

the recipe: egg crisp


the method: random progression
  1. pull (2) tortillas out of freezer
  2. put (head) of garlic into microwave for (2) minutes
  3. preheat toaster oven to 200ºc
  4. wash (2) eggs clean
  5. add oil liberally to a wok*
  6. turn the stove on for a big** fire.
  7. remove the softened garlic bulb from the microwave
  8. pull the skin off the garlic cloves***
  9. recall the oil boiling and crack (1) egg into it
  10. sprinkle a bit o' salt as desired onto the egg
  11. cover the wok and save yourself some cleaning
  12. put tortilla(s) into oven
  13. return to peeling garlic
  14. remove egg from wok (start a second egg...)
  15. slice and julienne hard white cheese
  16. remember to pull your tortillas out of the oven
  17. frame *crispy* as the latest in sensuality
  18. mash the garlic cloves in a bowl
  19. spread garlic mash over crispy tortilla(s)
  20. sprinkle pine nuts liberally over garlic mash
  21. slide the egg on top
  22. top with cheese (hope it melts)
  23. pick up with both hands and *fold* in half (you will need both hands for this)
  24. Enjoy the crunch of the egg crisp

*A wok is recommended because of the small circular cooking surface next to the heat, which allows the oil to concentrate in minimal surface area and thus allows the egg to fry 1) efficiently and 2) in a perty lil' round shape.

**In Mandarin, a "big" fire simply means a full flame (as opposed to a little fire or low heat).

***I used all of the big outer cloves for two egg crisps. Surprisingly, the garlic did not overwhelm, but instead settled into its usual duty of adding nutritious flavor.

If I had had more ingredients, I would've built freely upon the layers, surely adding some green and red. But it was not in my destiny, and as it turns out... it was not needed. The overly crisp tortilla complimented the egg and cheese, and the slippery pine nuts added just the right amount of aroma.

And for a perfect dessert, I recommend a green-tea egg-roll (that is, the Chinese version of the eggroll... a crispy, egg-inspired rolled wafer.)

redefining the eggroll

By now, you might be wondering which liquid will best wash down such a meal. On tonight's menu, I serve up a cup of osmanthus tea, straight from the famous city called Guilin in southern China. The fragrant yellow flowers of the osmanthus tea blend sweetly with the green tea base for a flavor that is unique and intense. Even an average (low?) grade of tea, such as below, will satisfy for many a refill:

have you had your osmanthus tea today?

Happy dining! And as the Chinese would say, "Eat slowly" (慢慢吃) and "eat more" (多吃)!

October 12, 2008

Naan and Curry Photos! Whoo!

These photos go along with "Curried Inspirations 1" and "Curried Inspirations 2" that were posted earlier in the blog. We liked these things so much that we went back and made them again, but this time I took pictures. I'm going to focus mainly on the Naan because I think bread is incredibly interesting.

Just a quick list: Yeast, Sugar, Butter, Yogurt, Whole Wheat Flour, Unbleached All Purpose Flour, Wheat Bran, Salt, Water.

Proof the yeast in warm water (make by adding two parts ice water to 1 part boiling water) with the sugar for about ten minutes. Should get bubbly, at least a little bit.

Separately: add the yogurt, hot water, melted butter, bran, salt, and whole wheat flour to a bowl.  Mix in all purpose flour.  Knead--by hand or machine.  Set in oiled bowl.

Rise, about 1 hour.

Separate dough and roll out into pancakes. Sarah's hand is for perspective. Keep in mind that Sarah has small hands.

Cook in skillet. 

Munch, munch, munch!

October 11, 2008

Mushroom Risotto (nasty looking this time but so good)

This risotto was made with a very dark mushroom broth so it kind of looks like poop in the photos...hell, it looked like poop when I was making it. I know, gross. For a better look you might think about using a very light colored veggie broth instead; this will keep things looking tasty. Risotto is fairly labor intensive as you have to stand over it and stir in the liquid as it cooks in. So make sure that you don't have any previous engagements planned for the week and please, drink responsibly.

Let's begin:

So we're looking at:

4 Cups Broth, plus 1 1/2 cups water
1 Small Onion, diced
1 Clove Garlic, crushed
1/2 Cup dried shitake mushrooms
1/2-1 lb. white button mushrooms
1 1/2 cups Arborio Rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
3 Tbs. butter
Juice of 1 lemon
Some fresh herb, like parsley or chives
Milk?? I don't know why milk is in this picture; sometimes I'll use cream towards the end but didn't this time around. Don't use milk.
And don't add candle wax...it will make you sick.

So...First set the four cups broth on the stove to simmer; we want this to be hot when we start adding it to the rice, otherwise it will cool things down and it would take hours to cook. Also hydrate the dried shitake mushrooms in about 1/2 cup boiling water for about 10 to 15 minutes. When these are hydrated, drain and add the squeezings to the simmering broth. In the mean time...

Drink some of the wine and have a good time. Then melt some butter in a large pot and in a frying pan; fry half of the diced onion in the frying pan for a few minutes then set the now chopped button mushrooms on to cook with the onion and the garlic. They should release all of their juices all of a sudden.  And then their juices will evaporate away. This is the stage we're looking for.

As this is all happening the other half of the onion is being fried in the butter in the large pot. After a few minutes add the rice. After a minute or two more...

Add the wine. Cover and allow to simmer for about five minutes, or until the wine has been absorbed into the rice. Then....

We start adding the hot broth in 1/2 cup increments, stirring constantly between additions until each has been almost completely absorbed by the rice. Beware, this is a long process and will test your will; be prepared to have a lackey or two take over after about 10 minutes so you can go huddle in a corner and submit to the horror of it all. And if you picked a really dark broth for this dish you might get something that looks like...

This. Yeah, eww. Keep stirring and adding broth as it gets absorbed. After about 15 minutes add the mushrooms (all the mushrooms). You will then have...little improvement. Still eww. Stir in the last of the butter (about 1 Tbs.) and some cream if you like (up to 1/2 cup). Season with salt and pepper and serve with a nice salad. Garnish with parsley or chives or whatever, if you're so inclined.

It might look icky but like I said, it's really tasty.

October 3, 2008

Pasta with Chickpeas

This wonderfully quick meal is a staple in our home. We fall back on this so often that it's kind of embarrassing...but I love it! You have to use butter, the meal just isn't the same without it. Butter adds a depth of flavor that you just don't experience using olive oil or other cooking fats. You can make your own pasta if you're so inclined but we use dried because it's faster and not nearly as much work. We paired this with a Bonny Doon 2005 Ferraris Piemonteses Blend (70% ruche, 20% barbera, and 10% syrah), which is wonderful on its own but didn't quite go with the spiciness of the pasta. I would recommend a Savignon Blanc instead. Optional additions this time were a zucchini and tomato cooked only by the heat of the finished chickpeas and pasta. Sometimes I'll sometimes cook up some white button mushrooms in white wine to add at the end but decided against it this time. Fresh lemon juice and lemon zest make this pasta incredibly fresh.


1/2 lb. dried pasta (small pastas work better, avoid noodles)
1 can garbanzo beans, drained (or 1/2 dried beans, soaked in at least 1 1/2 cups water for 6 hours and then simmered from 1 to 1 1/2 hours on the stovetop in as much water is necessary)
1 Tbs. butter
2 cloves garlic
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
2 Tbs. parmesan cheese
Juice of 1/2 lemon (optional)
1 tsp. lemon zest (optional)
1 zucchini (optional)
1 tomato (optional)
1 Tbs. fresh herb of choice (parsley, basil, cilantro)
Bread crumbs

If using dried pasta: Bring 1 quart water to a boil. Salt and add the pasta, cook for as long as you are directed to do so. In the mean time...

melt the butter in a frying pan, before it gets hot add the garlic and red pepper flakes. If we put this in when the butter is hot we'll burn the butter, the garlic, and the pepper flakes, each of which has its own consequence but together spell utter disaster. Then...

Add chickpeas and about 1/4 cup water. Bring to a simmer and simmer until dry. Add the zucchini, tomato, and chopped herb and allow the hot chickpeas to cook the veggies for a few minutes.

Then add all this to the drained pasta and grate parmesan over all. Serve sprinkled with bread crumbs and extra parmesan.