Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Pumpkin Bundt Cake

I'm only getting started with these pumpkin recipes!  My husband pointed out to me the other day that I haven't made a bundt cake in awhile, and that was all it took to send me searching for a great pumpkin bundt cake recipe.  My quest led me to the delightful blog Whipped, which I can't believe I never discovered sooner.

This cake is unbelievably tender and moist; it's a perfect fall dessert (or breakfast, or snack...)

(from Whipped)

2 sticks unsalted butter, softened, plus additional for greasing bundt pan
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour plus additional for dusting pan
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground allspice (I didn't have any so I used 1/2 tsp nutmeg and 1/2 tsp cloves)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups canned solid-pack pumpkin (from a 15-oz can; not pie filling)
3/4 cup well-shaken buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
3 large eggs

For glaze:
2 T butter
1 cup powdered sugar
1-3 T cream or milk

Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter and flour bundt pan. Combine together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, allspice, and salt in a bowl. Whisk together pumpkin, buttermilk and vanilla in another bowl.

Beat butter and granulated sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes, then add eggs and beat 1 minute. Reduce speed to low and add flour and pumpkin mixtures alternately in batches, beginning and ending with flour mixture and mixing until batter is just smooth.

Spoon batter into pan. Shake a few times to be sure to remove any bumps then bake until a wooden pick or skewer inserted in center of cake comes out clean, 45 to 50 minutes. Cool cake in pan on a rack 15 minutes, then invert rack over cake and reinvert cake onto rack. Cool 10 minutes more.

To make glaze, heat butter until melted. Stir in sifted powdered sugar. Mix in cream or milk 1 Tablespoon at a time until desired consistency. Drizzle over cake while it is on a wire rack so excess falls through.

Easy Mac and Cheese

I grew up on baked macaroni and cheese and wasn't privy to the wonders of stove-top mac and cheese for the first several years of my childhood.  While I appreciate my mom's casserole wonder, this is a tough recipe to beat.  It's quick, it's insanely creamy and cheesy, and you dirty ONE pan.  In our house with no dishwasher, that's a big deal (ok you dirty a colander too...sorry).
I prefer it with a few dashes of Red Rooster hot sauce.

(adapted from Cooking Light, May 2007)
1 1/4 cups uncooked macaroni
1 cup 1% milk
2 tbsp all purpose flour
1 1/4 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese - the recipe calls for reduced fat, but I only believe in full-fat cheese
1/2 tsp salt
a few grinds of a pepper mill

Cook pasta in a medium saucepan according to package directions.  
Transfer to a colander.
In the same saucepan, combine the milk and flour over medium heat, stirring with a whisk. 
Cook, stirring constantly until thickened (about 2 minutes).
Add cheese, salt, and pepper, and continue whisking until all the cheese is melted.
Turn off heat, stir in the pasta, and let sit for a few minutes before serving.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Crispy Za'atar Flatbread

I've been putting za'atar on just about everything recently.  I really wanted to make some flatbread with it on top, but it got late and I didn't want to wait around for the dough to rise.  I remembered a recipe for Crisp Rosemary Flatbread I saw on Smitten Kitchen a few weeks ago and opted to give it a try.  I'm so glad I did!

I LOVE these crackers!  They are flavorful enough to be eaten alone, but I'm sure a dollop of hummus would be a welcome addition.

(adapted from Smitten Kitchen, originally from Gourmet Magazine, July 2008)

1 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup water
1/3 cup olive oil plus more for brushing
3-5 tbsp za'atar

Preheat oven to 450 °F with a heavy baking sheet on rack in middle.

Stir together flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl. Make a well in center, then add water and oil and gradually stir into flour with a wooden spoon until a dough forms. Knead dough gently on a work surface 4 or 5 times.

Divide dough into 3 pieces and roll out 1 piece (keep remaining pieces covered with plastic wrap) on a sheet of parchment paper into a 10-inch round (shape can be rustic; dough should be thin).

Lightly brush top with additional oil and sprinkle 1-2 tbsp zaatar over the oil, pressing in slightly. Slide round (still on parchment) onto preheated baking sheet and bake until pale golden and browned in spots, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer flatbread (discard parchment) to a rack to cool, then make 2 more rounds (1 at a time) on fresh parchment (do not oil or salt until just before baking). Break into pieces.

Flatbread can be made 2 days ahead and cooled completely, then kept in an airtight container at room temperature.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Garbanzo-Kale Stir Fry with Tofu and Lemon

Kale is one of those foods I know I should be eating a lot of, but just can't figure out how to cook with most of the time.  When I saw this recipe on my all-time favorite blog, I knew I had to try it.  This is an incredibly quick dinner to put together, and was divine with za'atar sprinkled on top.

If you click the link to see the original recipe, you will notice that Heidi browned her ingredients a lot more than I did.  My only excuse is that it was late and I was hungry - and it was still perfectly delicious without the browning!

(from 101cookbooks.com)

2 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
fine grain sea salt
1 small onion or a couple shallots, sliced
1 cup cooked chickpeas (canned is fine, if you don't want to cook up a pot of dried chickpeas)
8 ounces extra-firm tofu
1 cup of chopped kale
2 small zucchini, chopped
zest and juice of 1/2 a lemon

Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil In a large skillet over medium-high heat and stir in a big pinch of salt, the onion, and chickpeas. 
Saute until the chickpeas are deeply golden and crusty. 
Stir in the tofu and cook just until the tofu is heated through, just a minute or so. 
Stir in the kale and cook for one minute more. 
Remove everything from the skillet onto a large plate and set aside. 
In the same skillet heat the remaining tablespoon of olive oil, add the zucchini and saute until it starts to take on a bit of color, two or three minutes. 
Add the chickpea mixture back to the skillet, and remove from heat. 
Stir in the lemon juice and zest, taste, and season with a bit more salt if needed. 
Turn out onto a platter and serve family style.

Serves 2 - 4.


The first time I visited a Mexican grocery store, some beautiful rolls with an attractive pink topping caught my eye.  I ADORE pan dulce, and can't resist picking up at least a couple any time I go to a Mexican grocery store.  It didn't occur to me until very recently that I should attempt to make my own.

The dough is incredibly easy to work with, and the flavor is superb.  The dough has a hint of cinnamon, and the pink topping (which is baked on) is sweet with a light vanilla undertone.  Not only will it make your kitchen smell glorious, if eaten when still warm there's a good chance one of these will melt all your problems all away. Yep, all of them.  They're just that good!

(adapted from allrecipes.com)

1 envelops active dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water
1/2 cup evaporated milk
3/8 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup butter, melted
1 egg
4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

2/3 cup white sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 or 5 drops red food coloring

In a large bowl, stir together the yeast and warm water. Mix in the milk, 3/8 cup sugar, 1/3 cup melted butter, salt, egg and half of the flour. Gradually mix in the remaining flour, and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon.
Turn the dough out onto a floured counter to knead as soon as it pulls together enough.
Knead for 6 to 8 minutes, until smooth and elastic.
Place in a large greased bowl, and turn the dough to coat.
Cover, and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.
Make the topping while the dough rises.
In a medium bowl, beat 2/3 cup sugar and 1/2 cup butter until light and fluffy.
Stir in the flour until the mixture is the consistency of thick paste, then stir in the vanilla and food coloring.
When the dough is done rising, cut into 12 even-sized pieces.
Shape into balls, and place on a greased cookie sheet, spacing about 3 inches apart.
Divide the topping into 12 balls, and pat them flat. Place circles of topping on top of the dough balls patting down lightly.
Use a knife dipped in warm water (to prevent sticking) to cut grooves in the topping like a clam shell.
Cover and let rise until doubled, about 45 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Bake for about 16 minutes, or until lightly golden brown.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Mexican Chocolate Sherbert

I wasn't sure if it was sherbert or sherbet - google told me both were acceptable.  In any case, I have been thinking about making this dessert for awhile.  It only has TWO ingredients, so there is no excuse not to whip up a batch right now.  It's creamy, chocolatey, and I'm sure would be divine with some cinnamon cookies.

3 cups whole milk
3 tablets Mexican chocolate, chopped (I used Nestle Abuelita, which you can see in the photo - it is readily available at Mexican grocery stores)

In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, whisk together the milk and chocolate until all the chocolate is melted and the liquid is a uniform color.
Pour into a bowl and set in an ice bath, whisking occasionally until cool.
Transfer to an ice cream maker and freeze according to manufacturers instructions.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Pumpkin Cupcakes with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting

There it is: the first pumpkin of Fall 2008 (and certain not to be the last!) I thought long and hard about what pumpkin-y treat I wanted to bake first, and after seeing the maple cream cheese frosting on Culinary Concoctions by Peabody I knew that I wanted to incorporate it somehow.
I immediately thought of pumpkin cupcakes, because lately I've been very fond of cupcakes, but a search for the perfect pumpkin cupcake recipe left me feeling defeated. I didn't want anything too dense, I didn't want raisins, nuts or chocolate chips. I wanted my cupcakes to be simple - just pumpkin and spice, to provide a nice base for the main event - the maple cream cheese frosting.
I ended up with this recipe, which I am pretty happy with. It's delicate but intriguing, and the cupcakes are a beautiful light orange.  I decided to use real maple syrup in the frosting (instead of maple extract), so there is just a hint of maple flavor, but I like the way the cupcakes and frosting go together.  This recipe makes a LOT of frosting, which I love, but if you frost the cupcakes thinly you could easily make do with half a recipe.

2 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup applesauce
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
3/4 cup buttermilk
3/4 cup canned pumpkin

Preheat oven to 350 and line a cupcake pan with paper liners.
In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, spices, and sugars.
In a medium bowl, whisk together remaining ingredients.
Gently stir the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients, and pour into the prepared pan.
Bake for about 18 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Cool completely on a wire rack

4 tbsp butter, softened
8 oz cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup maple syrup
3 cups powdered sugar

With the paddle attachment, beat together the butter and cream cheese. 
Add maple syrup and beat on medium until combined.
Mix in the powdered sugar, one cup at a time, then mix on medium-high until smooth.
Frost each cupcake liberally.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Singapore Noodles

Singapore was the first foreign country I ever visited.  My family was living in Australia, but that didn't really count as foreign, because as my mom liked to say, it was a perfect mix of California and the UK.  

But Singapore, to my 13-year old eyes, was really foreign.  I remember walking past Hindu temples in the Indian section of the city in awe of how it was unlike anywhere I'd ever been.  We ate at hawker centers, filling up on steamed pork buns and noodles that cost startlingly little.  I even tried durian for the only time in my life, holding my nose as I slurped up the sweet yellow flesh.

I loved Singapore, and I desperately want to go back soon.   This recipe is a quick version of the fragrant curry noodles that are sold all over the city.  In a temporary lapse in brain function, I completely forgot that I have a recipe for them in one of my cookbooks.  I turned to google, which never lets me down, and found this recipe on the Sugarlens blog. I didn't have shrimp, so I used tofu instead. It was delicious!

(adapted from The Wisdom of the Chinese Kitchen cookbook by Grace Young, seen at Sugarlens)

Singapore Rice Noodles:

- 8 dried shiitake mushrooms
- 8 ounces rice vermicelli
- 3 tablespoons thin soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon rice cooking wine
- 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 4 ounces extra firm tofu, thinly sliced and cooked in a frying pan until golden
- 1 cup cabbage, cut into julienne strips
- 1/2 cup carrots, cut into julienne strips
- 1/2 cup finely shredded scallions
- 1 tablespoon curry powder
- 1 cup chicken broth
- 4 ounces Chinese barbecued pork, store-bought or homemade, cut into julienne strips

In a medium bowl, soak the mushrooms in 1/4 cup cold water for 30 minutes, or until softened. Drain and squeeze dry. Cut off and discard stems and thinly slice the caps.

In a large bowl, soak the rice noodles in enough cold water to cover for 20 to 30 minutes, or until noodles are limp and softened. Drain in a colander and set aside. In a small bowl, combine the soy sauce, rice wine, sugar, and salt. Set aside.

Heat a 14-inch flat-bottomed wok or skillet over high heat until hot but not smoking. Add the vegetable oil and sliced mushrooms, and stir-fry 30 seconds. Add scallions, cabbage and carrots. Cook until tender. Add the curry powder and stir-fry 10 seconds, or until fragrant. Stir soy sauce mixture and swirl it into the wok. Add the chicken broth and bring to a boil over high heat.

Add the drained rice noodles and return to a boil, stirring noodles to completely coat in curry mixture. Cover and cook over medium-high heat 2 to 3 minutes, stirring occasionally, until noodles are just tender. Add the tofu and barbecued pork, and cook, stirring, 1 to 2 minutes, or until liquid has been absorbed by the noodles. Serve immediately.

Israeli Couscous with Pistachios and Apricots

I would like to take a moment to tell you about one of the best cookbooks I have ever picked up.  Veganomicon by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero is PHENOMENAL.  Seriously.  I'm not vegan...I'm not even vegetarian, but the amazing recipes keep me coming back for more, even with nary an animal product in sight.  If you have any interest at all in eating a healthy diet, you should seriously consider taking a look at this book!  The recipes are creative and flavorful, and use lots of great ingredients you might otherwise not cook with.

Okay, I've put away my soapbox.

This recipe was my first introduction to Middle Eastern Couscous, which is a big version of the couscous you are probably used to.  I like it so much I don't know if I'll go back to the small stuff!

2 tbsp vegetable oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups Israeli (or Middle Eastern - the package might say either one) couscous
2 1/2 cups water
1 cinnamon stick
1 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp ground cardamom
black pepper
1/2 tsp salt
zest from 1 lime
1/4 cup chopped fresh mint
1/2 cup chopped dried apricots
1/2 cup pistachios
juice from 1/2 lime

Preheat a large heavy-bottomed skillet over medium-low heat. 
Place the garlic and oil in the pan and saute for 1 minute
Add the couscous, raise the heat to medium, and stir pretty constantly for 4-5 minutes; the couscous should start to toast.
Add the water, cinnamon stick, cumin, cardamom, pepper, salt, and lime zest.
Raise the heat and bring to a boil.
Once the mixture is boiling, lower the heat again to as low as possible and cover.
In 10 minutes, most of the water should have been absorbed.
Add 2 tbsp of the mint, and the apricots, pistachios, and lime juice.  
Stir, cover again, and cook for 5 more minutes.
At this point, the water should be thoroughly absorbed.
Remove the cinnamon stick, fluff the couscous with a fork, garnish with the remaining mint, and serve.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Donburi style chicken

This is a great way to cook chicken without adding any fat, and it gives the meat great flavor while keeping it tender.  Served over rice, it's a delicious and simple meal with a nice amount of protein to keep you going. I added a lot of broth to my bowl, as you can see in the picture, but you can decide how you want to serve yours.

(from Japanese Home Cooking by Shunsuke Fukushima)
1 cup water
5 tbsp soy sauce
5 tbsp mirin
1 tsp instant dashi
1/2 tsp sugar
1/2 large yellow onion, thinly sliced
8 oz chicken thighs, skin removed, cut into bite-sized pieces
4 tbsp chopped parsley
2 eggs, lightly beaten 
2 cups steamed rice
1 scallion, thinly sliced (for garnish)

Place water, soy sauce, mirin, dashi and sugar in a shallow frying pan with a tight-fitting lid.
Bring to a boil, then add onion and chicken.
Cover, reduce heat to low and simmer until chicken is opaque and onion is soft, 8-10 minutes.
Add parsley and gradually pour eggs over liquid in pan.  
Tilt pan so eggs cover bottom. 
Cover and cook a little longer until eggs are almost set, about 1 minute.
Remove pan from heat before eggs are completely set.
To serve, place rice in individual serving bowls and top with egg, chicken and stock mixture.
Garnish with chopped scallion.

Spinach with Sesame Dressing

If you don't like spinach, you might reconsider after you try this. It is insanely simple and the flavor is amazing - a perfect mix of sweet and savory.

The recipe makes extra dressing, which will keep for a few weeks in the refrigerator.

(from Japanese Home Cooking by Shunsuke Fukushima)

1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup sugar
3 tbsp toasted sesame seeds, ground in a mortar and pestle
1 large bunch spinach (leaves only)
sesame seeds (for garnish)

Bring soy sauce and sugar to a boil in a small saucepan, stirring occasionally until sugar dissolves.
Remove from heat and stir in ground sesame seeds.
Wash spinach leaves well in several changes of cold water.
Half fill a large saucepan with water and bring to a boil.
Add spinach, return to a boil, and cook until the spinach is wilted (about a minute).
Drain the spinach and squeeze out as much liquid as possible.
Toss with a few tablespoons of dressing, then garnish with sesame seeds.
(serves 2)

Black Bottom Cupcakes

Until I saw this post over at Brown Eyed Baker, I had never heard of Black Bottom Cupcakes. Upon discovering that they combine chocolate cake with a cheesecake filling, I realized that my 24 years of life have been missing something.
I had been meaning to make these for a few weeks now, but life always finds a way of interfering with my plans. Fortunately this morning everything fell into place and I was able to whip up a batch. The recipe is much simpler than the cupcake's appearances will have you believe. 25 minutes later, these magnificant little confections will be all yours!

I found that I had a LOT of cream cheese filling...so I put quite a bit on every cupcake, filling the cups completely. I was a little distracted while they were in the oven so some of them browned a little too much, but they still taste amazing. The only changes I made to the original recipe were to add some vanilla to the cream cheese mixture and some instant espresso to the cake batter.

(from Brown Eyed Baker, original recipe by David Lebovitz)
For the Filling:
8 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 oz. bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped

For the Cupcakes:
1½ cups all-purpose flour
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
5 tablespoons naturally unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch-process)
1 tablespoon instant espresso powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup water
1/3 cup unflavored vegetable oil
1 tablespoon white or cider vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Make the Filling: Beat together the cream cheese, granulated sugar, vanilla and egg until smooth. Stir in chopped chocolate pieces. Set aside.

Make the Cupcakes:
1. Adjust the rack to the center of the oven and preheat to 350°F (175°C). Butter a 12-cup muffin tin, or line the tin with paper muffin cups.
2. In a medium bowl sift together the flour, brown sugar, cocoa powder, instant espresso, baking soda, and salt. In a separate bowl mix together the water, oil, vinegar, and vanilla.
3. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and stir in the wet ingredients, stirring just until smooth. Stir any longer and you will over mix the batter and end up with less-than-tender cupcakes.
4. Divide the batter among the muffin cups. Spoon a few tablespoons of the filling into the center of each cupcake, dividing the filling evenly. This will fill the cups almost completely, which is fine.
5. Bake for 25 minutes, or until the tops are slightly golden brown and the cupcakes feel springy when gently pressed. These moist treats will keep unrefrigerated for 2 to 3 days if stored in an airtight container.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Tofu, Spinach, and Mushroom Enchiladas

This is a nice, lighter, vegetarian alternative to the typical (but still delicious!) red sauce, meat, and cheese enchiladas.  Don't skimp on the red onion slices on top - they add a delicious flavor contrast and irresistable crunch.

If you think you'll really miss the meat, substitute about a cup of diced cooked chicken for the tofu (that's what the original recipe called for).  I'm pretty crazy about tofu and I think it's perfect here though!

(adapted from Mexican Everyday by Rick Bayless)
3 garlic cloves, peeled
2 jalapeno peppers, stemmed and quartered
1 1/2 lbs tomatillos, husked, rinsed, and cut into quarters
3/4 cup loosely packed chopped cilantro
2 tbsp olive oil, divided
2 cups vegetable broth
8 ounces button mushrooms, stemmed and sliced
1 large red onion, thinly sliced
10 oz spinach, stems removed
12 oz extra firm tofu, pressed, drained, and cut into 1 cm-thick slices
12 corn tortillas
1/2 tsp sugar
1 cup crumbled queso fresco - I like Casero (or use feta or goat cheese)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
With the food processor running, drop in the garlic and jalapenos one piece at a time, letting each piece get finely chopped before adding the next.  
Add the the tomatillos and cilantro and process until smooth.
Heat 1 tbsp of oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high.
Add the tomatillo puree and cook, stirring constantly until the mixture has reduced to the consistency of thick tomato sauce.  Add the broth and simmer over medium for about 10 minutes.
Heat a large nonstick frying pan or skillet over medium high and add the tofu slices. Brown on both sides, then remove, let cool, and cut into 1 cm cubes.
With the heat still on, add 1 tbsp oil to the frying pan.  Add the mushrooms and cook for a few minutes, until they begin to brown.
Add about three quarters of the onion slices (reserving the rest for garnish) and continue cooking, stirring frequently until the onion is translucent.
Add the spinach and tofu, and season with salt.  Cook until the spinach is wilted, then remove from the heat.
Warm the tortillas on a baking sheet in the oven for 2 to 3 minutes.  Remove and wrap in a towel to keep warm.
Season the tomatillo sauce with salt (about 1 tsp) and the sugar.  
To assemble the enchiladas: dip a tortilla in the sauce, then place it on a plate.  Spoon 2 tbsp of the tofu-spinach filling into the center, roll up, and place seam-side down in a 13 x 9 inch pan.
Repeat with remaining tortillas, then pour the remaining sauce evenly over the whole pan.
Bake for about 20 minutes, then remove from the oven and sprinkle with the onion slices and cheese before serving.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Southwestern Chicken Pot Pie

My husband looked through my blog the other day and noticed that almost all my posts are adapted from some other recipe.  He challenged me to come up with one original recipe a week and blog about it, which I think is a fantastic idea.  I really need to experiment more and this will only make me a better cook!

I had planned to make Chicken Pot Pie this week, and was going to use a recipe I found in one of my cookbooks.  But after having the "No Beans No Rice" burrito at La Salsa the other night, I was struck with an idea.  What if I made a tomato-chicken-vegetable stew and baked that inside a cornmeal crust?  

I did exactly that, and it turned out just how I was hoping it would.  It's a nice twist on the typical Chicken Pot Pie, which can be really rich.  There is still over half a pound of butter in the crust, so it's not exactly dietetic, but everything is fine in moderation, right?  Just go easy on dessert and you'll be fine!

2 cups All Purpose flour
1 cup cornmeal
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 1/2 sticks butter
1/3 cup chilled shortening
1/2 cup ice water
2 tsp apple cider vinegar

In a food processor, pulse the flour, cornmeal, and salt a few times.
Cut the butter and shortening into small cubes, add to the flour mixture, and pulse until the butter is broken up into pea-sized and smaller chunks.
Stir together the vinegar and water, and add to the butter-flour mixture a tablespoon at a time, pulsing just until the dough comes together.  
Press into two disks - one larger (to line the pan), and the other smaller (for the top).
Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate while you prepare the filling.

3 tbsp olive oil, divided
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium onion, chopped
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1/2" cubes
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1 jalapeno, chopped
2 small carrots, diced
3 stalks celery, thinly sliced
1 cup broccoli florets
1 1/2 cups diced red potatoes
1 cup julienned bell pepper (any color, or a mix)
1 cup frozen corn
1 28 oz can whole tomatoes
2 cups chicken broth
1 tsp salt
1 tsp chile powder
1/2 tsp cumin
3 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro

Preheat the oven to 375 F
Heat a large stockpot over medium-high heat and add 1 tbsp olive oil.
Stir in the garlic and onion and cook until the onion is translucent.
Add the chicken, and cook, stirring, until the chicken is no longer pink. 
Transfer to a bowl and set aside
Wipe out the pan and return to medium-high heat.
Add 2 tbsp olive oil and stir in the flour.
Cook, stirring constantly, until it turns a nice golden-brown.
Add the vegetables, tomatoes, and chicken broth and stir well.
Stir in the salt, chile powder, and cumin and partially cover the pot.
Cook for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Meanwhile, roll out the larger dough disk, and press into a 2 1/2 quart casserole dish.
Line the inside of the dough with foil, shiny side down, and bake for about 10 minutes.
Remove the foil and set the dish aside.
Roll the other disk of dough out to fit over the top of the casserole dish, and set aside.
When the filling has thickened and the chicken has cooked through, transfer to the dough-lined dish.  
Press the sheet of dough on top, and cut a few slits in it so steam can escape.
Bake for about 30 minutes, or until the crust is nice and golden.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Recipe Exchange: Curried Egg Salad

Egg salad was not my favorite food for quite a long time.  I just didn't see anything really appealing about it.  Then I tried a curried egg salad recipe from 101cookbooks.com.  I decided egg salad was okay in my book, after all.

When this recipe exchange came around (with the theme of "Keepin' It Real" - quick and easy recipes), I was SO EXCITED to find this recipe in my inbox.  It was delicious - I loved the inclusion of green onions, and it was a perfect lunch smeared on some naan.  The only thing I changed was using nonfat plain yogurt in place of mayo, because it lightens it up a lot, but if you like mayo, definitely use it!

Curried Egg Salad
12 hardboiled eggs, peeled and coarsely chopped
3/4 cup mayo
1/4 cup chopped scallions
1 1/2 tsp curry powder
salt and pepper to taste

1) In medium bowl combine eggs, mayonnaise, scallions and curry powder.
2) Season with salt and pepper.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Mike's Perfect Boba

My husband became completely infatuated with boba recently. (You can read about it on his blog, here.)  For those who may not know, it's a drink with tapioca pearls in it, so when you drink, you also get to chew.  It's odd but highly addictive.  
After sampling most of the flavors at the new boba place in town, he decided it was much more economical to make it himself.  After perusing a dozen recipes in various places on the internet, and making a few test batches, here is the recipe for success.

Milk tea mixture:
(makes about 40 oz.) 
5 cups water
4 black tea bags
1 1/4 cups non-dairy creamer
1/2 cup simple syrup

Boil water in a medium saucepan.  
Steep tea bags in water for about 4 minutes.
Return to medium heat.
Stir in 1 1/4 cups non-dairy creamer until completely dissolved.
Add 1/2 cup simple syrup (equal ratio of sugar and water, heated until sugar dissolves)
Pour through mesh strainer into a pitcher.
Place in refrigerator to cool.

For one boba tea:
about 1/4 cup 5-minute boba pearls, cooked according to package instructions
a few tbsp flavored syrup (such as Torani) 
About 10 oz milk tea (from above recipe)

Cook and drain the boba pearls. 
Run under cold water, drain well.
Place the pearls in the bottom of a pint glass.  
Add just enough syrup to cover boba, then add milk tea mixture to fill the glass.
Serve with a large boba straw.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Divine Rice with Prawns

How can you not want to try a recipe for something called "Divine Rice"?

With leftover rice and already-cooked prawns, this dish comes together almost instantly (okay, actually it takes about ten minutes).  It's simple and tasty, and if you like fish sauce, you'll love it.  I used brown rice because I prefer it in general, but white would be good too.

(adapted from Thai Cooking from the Siam Cuisine Restaurant)
12-15 prawns, cooked
2 tsp oil
1 tbsp minced garlic
2 tbsp chopped onions
1/2 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
2 eggs
3 cups cold cooked rice
4 tbsp fish sauce
1 tsp sugar
1 tbsp ketchup
2 tsp soy sauce
2 tsp chopped cilantro
a few slices cucumber, for garnish
juice of 1 fresh lime

Heat a skillet over high heat and add the oil.
When the oil is hot, add the garlic and onions.
Stir-fry until light brown.
Crack the eggs into the pan and scramble, cooking for about 10 seconds.
Add the bell pepper and stir fry for about 30 seconds.
Add the rice and stir-fry, breaking up clumps of rice and egg.
Add the fish sauce, sugar, ketchup, and soy sauce and stir fry for a few minutes.
Add the prawns and cook until they are heated through.
Transfer to a serving dish, and sprinkle the lime juice and cilantro over the top, then serve with cucumber slices on the side.

French Yogurt Cake With Marmalade Glaze

I realized yesterday that it had been about a week since I baked anything out of Baking From My Home to Yours, and to me that was unacceptable.  I let the book fall open and this recipe stared up at me.  Not only did I already have all of the ingredients, I love marmalade more than just about anything else you can put on toast.  I was instantly sold.

This makes a nice little loaf cake, one which I'm sure would be perfect for afternoon tea.  Which, by the way, I really wish was a custom in our culture.  What's better than a  little break for tea and cake in the middle of the afternoon?  

(from Baking From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan)
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup ground almonds (or another 1/2 cup flour - I used almonds)
2 tsp baking powder
pinch salt
1 cup sugar
zest of 1 lemon
1/2 cup plain yogurt
3 large eggs
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup canola oil
1/2 cup marmalade (the recipe says to strain it, but I like the orange peel!)
1 tsp water

Preheat the oven to 350 and grease a 8 1/2" x 4 1/2" loaf pan.
Whisk together the four, almonds, baking powder, and salt.
In a separate bowl, rub the zest and sugar together with your fingers until the sugar is very fragrant.
Add the yogurt, eggs, and vanilla and whisk vigorously until well-blended.
Add the dry ingredients and mix with the whisk, then switch to a rubber spatula and fold in the oil.
Bake for 50 to 55 minutes, until golden brown and a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.
Transfer to a rack to cool.
For the glaze, heat the water and marmalade until liquefied, then brush over the cake.
Slice and serve.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Dill and Feta-Stuffed Chicken Breasts

After last night's labor-intensive japchae, I wanted to make something incredibly simple for dinner.  I perused the contents of my fridge and found some dill and feta.  With some bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts, a simple salad, and some steamed brown basmati rice, I had a fabulous dinner.  (Note: I used bone-in chicken because that's what I had...I'm sure they would be good with boneless chicken as well, but the cooking time would be shorter.)

Stuffed chicken breasts don't occur enough in my life.  They are so easy and SO GOOD!  I want to stuff them with all kinds of things now!  Do you have any brilliant ideas for me?

2 bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts
1/4 cup crumbled feta
1 clove garlic, chopped
2 tsp chopped fresh dill
a pinch of salt
a pinch of pepper
6 thin slices of lemon
2 tsp olive oil

Preheat oven to 350 F
Mix together the feta, garlic, dill, salt, and pepper
Cut a slit in the breast and stuff the cheese mixture inside.
Place in a baking pan.
Top with lemon slices and drizzle with olive oil.  Sprinkle with a little salt and pepper.
Bake for about 40 minutes, removing the lemons about halfway through so the skin gets crispy.
If you are really paranoid like I am, make sure the internal temperature is 165 F.  

Wednesday, September 10, 2008


This is an absolutely DELICIOUS dish, but it is very involved.  Give yourself about two hours from start to finish.  Every ingredient is seasoned and cooked individually, then they are all mixed together in a huge bowl.  In the process you will dirty a TON of dishes, but don't let that deter you - the great blend of flavors and textures is completely worth it!  

(adapted from Growing Up in a Korean Kitchen by Hi Soo Shin Hepinstall)
4 tbsp rice wine or vermouth
3 tbsp sugar
8 green onions, white and pale green part only
6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp sesame seeds
8 oz chicken breast, sliced into 1/8" by 3" strips
8 oz lean beef tenderloin, sliced into 1/8" by 3" strips
3 tbsp vegetable oil
2 oz dried shiitake mushrooms, soaked in boiling water for about 2o minutes, then drained
3 tbsp soy sauce
5 tbsp sesame oil
1 lb napa cabbage hearts, stem part only, cut into 3/4" by 3" strips
1 lb spinach leaves, cut into 3 inch pieces
8 oz sweet potato noodles
1 red bell pepper, cut into thin strips
1 jalapeno, cut into thin strips

To make the seasoning for the meat: combine 2 tbsp vermouth, 1 tbsp sugar, 4 green onions, 2 cloves garlic, lemon juice, sesame seeds, and 1/2 tsp each of salt and pepper.  
Stir well, then pour half into each of two bowls.  
Toss the chicken in one bowl and the beef in the other

Heat 1 tbsp oil in a skillet, then add the chicken and cook for about 10 minutes.  Transfer to a large bowl.
Wipe out the skillet, heat another tablespoon of oil, then add the beef and cook until done.
Place in the bowl with the chicken.
Squeeze as much liquid as possible out of the mushrooms, then cut into slivers.
Toss with 1 tbsp vermouth, 1 tbsp soy sauce, 2 green onions, 2 cloves garlic, 1 tbsp sesame oil and a pinch each of salt and pepper.
Heat 1 tbsp oil in the skillet, add the mushrooms, and cook for 10 minutes.  Transfer to the bowl with the meat.
In a large pot, bring 3 quarts of water to a boil.  Blanch the cabbage for about 3 minutes, then drain and plunge into cold water.  
Squeeze out as much moisture as possible, then add to the bowl with the meat and mushrooms.
Fill the pot with water again, and blanch the spinach for about 10 seconds.
Drain, squeeze out all the water, then transfer to a bowl and toss with 1 tbsp vermouth, 1 green onion, 1 clove garlic, 1 tbsp sesame oil, and a pinch each of salt and pepper.
Add to the bowl with the other ingredients, then add the peppers.
To cook the noodles, boil 3 quarts of water and add the noodles.  Boil for about 5 minutes, then drain.  Add to the bowl with meat and vegetables, add all remaining ingredients, and toss well.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Turkish coffee

I remember when I first tried Turkish coffee in a Lebanese restaurant in Portland.  I loved how strong it was, and the cardamom flavor was new, different, and delicious.  A few months ago my husband got really into making Turkish coffee at home.  He found the ground coffee with cardamom, and an ibrik (the copper pot in the photo) online and we have been happily making it for ourselves ever since.  

1 tbsp finely ground coffee with cardamom 
1 tbsp sugar
1 cup water

Combine ingredients in an ibrik and swirl the pot to combine.
Place over a medium flame and watch carefully.  
When the coffee boils up to the top, remove it from the heat quickly (so it doesn't boil over) and let it sit for about 5 minutes.
Repeat twice more: let the coffee boil up just to the top, then remove and cool for several minutes.
After the third boil, pour into small cups to serve


This is one of those recipes that the cookbook falls open to, that I've made so many times I've stopped measuring everything and just go by feel, and that I probably don't go a week with out making.  
The flavor is spicy, salty, sweet, and sour all at the same time thanks to the cayenne pepper, soy sauce, honey, and vinegar in the dressing.  I added julienned carrots to the original recipe because I love the color and crunch they add.

(adapted from Super Natural Cooking by Heidi Swanson)
grated zest of 1 lemon
1-inch cube fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped
1 tablespoon honey
1/2 teaspoons cayenne
1 tbsp lemon juice
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1/3 cup soy sauce
3 tbsp sesame oil

12 oz dried soba noodles
12 oz extra firm nigari tofu
1/4 cup choped fresh cilantro
3 green onions, thinly sliced
1/2 English cucumber, seeded and diced
1 medium carrot, julienned
1/4 cup toasted sesame seeds

To make dressing: 
Combine all ingredients in a blender, and blend until smooth.

To make the noodles:
Cook the soba in rapidly boiling salted water according to package directions.
Drain and rinse with cold water
While pasta is cooking, cut the tofu into 1/2" by 1" rectangles that are about 1/2" thick.
Cook in a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until golden brown on all sides, tossing gently once or twice.
In a large bowl, combine the noodles, cilantro, green onions, cucumber, carrot, and about 2/3 cup dressing and toss until well combined.  
Add the tofu and toss again gently.  
Sprinkle sesame seeds over the top.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Vegetable-za'atar pizza

When I saw this pizza recipe on one of my favorite blogs (Good Things Catered), I knew I HAD to make it. The last time we were in San Francisco, I bought some za'atar at a Middle Eastern grocery store specifically for that recipe.  If you've never had it, you are really missing out.  According to wikipedia, za'atar is a spice blend that includes dried oregano, thyme, marjoram, sesame seeds, and sumac.  I can't wait to use it in more recipes!
The original recipe calls for grilling the vegetables and the pizza.  Since we only have a charcoal grill and I'm not overly competent when it comes to those, I decided to adapt the recipe to be made entirely indoors.  I'm sure I'm missing out on a lot of great flavor by not grilling, but it was still incredibly good.
This recipe took an hour from start to finish, including making the dough, because I found a great quick pizza dough recipe here.

Pizza dough:
(adapted from Recipe Zaar)
1 (1/4 ounce) package active dry yeast
1/2 tsp sugar
1 cup water
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups bread flour
1 cup whole wheat flour

Preheat oven to 450 F
Mix yeast and sugar in warm water until dissolved.
Stir in oil, salt and flours and stir until it forms a dough ball.
Cover bowl with a kitchen towel, place on top of your stove while the oven is warming up.
Let rise at least 15 minutes, while you prepare the toppings.

(adapted from Good Things Catered)

1 Tbsp olive oil, divided
1 large garlic clove, minced
2 tbsp za'atar
large pinch salt
ground pepper to taste
1 small zucchini, halved along the horizontal and sliced
1 small yellow squash, halved along the horizontal and sliced
1/2 medium red pepper, julienned
1/2 medium green pepper, julienned
1/2 small head broccoli, small crowns cut off base
6 cherry tomatoes, halved
1 - 1 1/2 c. mozzarella cheese

Heat 2 tsp olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.
Add the zucchini, yellow squash, pepper, and broccoli and season with a nice pinch of salt and ground pepper.
Saute just until the vegetables are crisp-tender.
Divide the dough in half and roll out into large rectangles. 
Transfer to baking sheets lined with parchment or a Silpat.
Drizzle about 1 tsp olive oil onto each pizza and spread evenly using fingers.
Spread garlic, then za'atar onto pizzas, dividing evenly.
Lightly salt and pepper each pizza.  
Place half the sauteed vegetables on each pizza, then sprinkle with cheese and cherry tomato halves.
Bake for about 15 minutes, or until cheese is bubbling and the crust is browning.

Pistachio Macaroons

This recipe caught my eye as I was flipping through "How to be a Domestic Goddess," a fantastic baking book by Nigella Lawson.  They are fancier than the drop cookies I usually make and the flavor is great in the cookies alone, and even more so in the filling.
I made miniature ones, about one inch across, and I think I over-baked them.  I also had a slight problem with the eggs whites losing volume as I folded in the pistachio-powdered sugar mixture, so I might try adding a pinch of cream of tartar next time.
Regardless of my small setbacks, I definitely recommend these cookies!

1/3 cup pistachios
3/4 cup powdered sugar
2 large egg whites
1 tbsp sugar

1/4 cup pistachios
1 2/3 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup softened butter

Preheat oven to 350 F.
Grind pistachios in a food processor with the powdered sugar until fine as dust.
Whisk the egg whites until fairly stiff, sprinkle the sugar over, and whisk until very stiff. 
Fold the whites into the pistachio-sugar dust, and combine gently.
Pipe small rounds onto a lined baking sheet using a pastry bag with a plain 1/2" nozzle.
Let them sit 10 minutes to form a skin, then bake for about 10 minutes.  They should be set but not dried out.
Remove from the oven and let cool on their sheets.
For filling:
Grind nuts and powdered sugar in the processor as before, then cream the butter and continue creaming as you add the nut dust.  Make sure you have a well-combined soft buttercream.
Then just sandwich the filling between two cookies.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Turkey Meatballs

My first attempt at making meatballs was a total disaster.  As soon as I put them in the pan, they all fell apart and I felt completely defeated.  This time around, I used a Joy of Cooking recipe (using ground turkey rather than ground beef), and they were delicious.  I left out tomato paste because I didn't have any.

(adapted from Joy of Cooking)
1 pound ground turkey
1 garlic clove, mixed
1/2 cup chopped parsley
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup fresh bread crumbs
1 large egg, beaten
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp dried oregano or Italian herb blend
2 tbsp olive oill
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 cup Marinara sauce

Preheat the oven to 375
Mix all ingredients well, except oil, flour and Marinara.
Form into 2" balls, and dredge in flour.
Heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a large skillet or frying pan.
Brown the meatballs, turning while cooking.
Place in a baking dish and cook in the oven for about 10 minutes.
Warm the marinara in a sauce pan, and add to the cooked meatballs, stirring gently, to serve.

Cucumber Yogurt Salad

I got this recipe from my dear friend and neighbor, Brigitte.  She always has really good Middle Eastern recipes, and this is no exception.  A delightful and refreshing side, it is perfect with a multitude of main dish options.  

1 large garlic clove crushed in 1 tsp salt
about 8 fresh mint leaves
1 quart plain yogurt
1 English cucumber or 2-3 Persian cucumbers

Mash the garlic with the salt and chop the mint, then mix together in a bowl.
Add the yogurt, blending well.
Peel and cut the cucumber in half lengthwise, then slice them in thin half-rounds.
Fold in the cucumber.