Saturday, December 31, 2005

From my Rasoi: Warming Vegetable Paneer

Meena, from Hooked on Heat, has an idea for a new blogging event. It's called From my Rasoi and it celebrates homemade Indian food. This inaugural month, the theme is Winter.

I have always loved Indian food, but I've never made it at home. For some reason, it seemed too exotic, too full of flavors I don't normally use. And I'm not very good about following recipes to the letter, which I would have to do when making something so totally new. But seeing Meena's event announcement, I was convinced to search through Mom's Indian cookbooks and finally settled on a simple recipe for Curried Butternut Squash Soup.

However, since nothing ever goes according to plan, tonight we got home late from a Holiday Party, not quite in the mood for a real dinner and the Boy was out with his brother, who's in town for the weekend. So I raided the fridge, planning on making something simple, and came up with a packet of Paneer, Indian cheese. There was also some frozen spinach and already cut-up fresh broccoli left over from Christmas Eve. So I played around and came up with a variation on one of my favorite Indian dishes--Palak Paneer, but with broccoli. And I added judicious amounts of the various Indian spices I found on the spice rack. It came out delicious and warming--definitely something I would make again.

Warming Vegetable Paneer

2 tablespoons Canola Oil
1/2 White Onion, chopped
1 package frozen Spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
1 head Broccoli, chopped
Water as needed
3-4 tablespoons Half and Half

Salt to taste
2 teaspoons Garam Masala
1 teaspoon Cumin, ground
pinch Black Mustard Seeds, ground
pinch Fenugreek, ground
1/2 teaspoon Turmeric
2 canned Tomatoes, chopped + Liquid
1 package Paneer Cheese, Cubed

In a pot, heat Canola Oil over medium heat. Add Onion and saute until golden.

Add Spinach and Broccoli, cooking until Spinach turns into a paste and Broccoli is able to be cut with a fork. Stir frequently. Add Water and Tomato Liquid as necessary to cook the Broccoli. (Spinach gives off a lot of liquid whereas Broccoli sucks it up.) If necessary, cover the pot so the vegetables cook faster.

Add Half-and-Half, Garam Masala, Cumin, Fenugreek, Mustard Seeds, Turmeric, Salt and Tomatoes. Mix well, until everything is combined and Spinach has thickened and become truly pasty due to the addition of the Half-and-Half.

Add paneer. Mix everything again and adjust seasonings to taste. Cook for 10 more minutes. Taste and Salt as necessary. Add a splash of lemon juice if desired. Serve warm, preferably over Rice.

and and and and and and

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Christmas Eve

One December when I was a little girl, I was home sick in bed and Mom decided to read Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol to me. As she read, I became entirely wrapped up in the story and, not surprisingly, the detailed descriptions of food. Finally, when Scrooge had seen the errors of his ways and everyone sat down to a fabulous meal, including Tiny Tim, I exclaimed, "I want a goose for Christmas this year!"

From then on, a goose on either Christmas or Christmas Eve became a tradition. Jewish, I still enjoyed commemorating the holiday and even when I questioned my own involvement in the Jewish community, or whether having a decorated Christmas tree (with no explicitly Christian decorations) was really a good idea, I always wanted our homemade, delicious, roast goose.

Last night, we had a quiet evening with Mom, Dad, my uncle Steven, my best friend Davey and his mother and Mom's best friend from high school, Arnie. The food was delicious, especially the plump, crisp Roast Goose. Enjoy reading the menu and allow me to extend my wishes for: "A merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night."

And Happy Holidays!

Christmas Eve Menu

Platter of Assorted Cheeses, Olives and Crackers
Garlic Shrimp
Roast Goose with dried Apricots and Orange Peel
Steamed Broccoli
Buttery Mashed Potatoes
Chocolate-Pecan Pie
Assorted Cookies

And to drink, we enjoyed:
Kir Royales, with Creme de Mure instead of the usual Creme de Cassis
A wonderful, slightly sparkling bottle of rose that Davey brought
A 2003 Chateau Peyfol Cotes de Castillon
Various Teas

and and and and and and and and

Thursday, December 22, 2005

1-L Tort(e)

Since the Boy finished his first set of law school exams, I wanted to do something special for him his first morning of freedom. Since his hardest exam was Torts, what better reward than a 1-L Tort(e)--a torte with one "L" ingredient.

Some research into what defines a torte (the E is for the food) came up with different definitions. Finally, though, Joy of Cooking came to my rescue, saying a torte was a circular cake. Perfect! I would just bake my 1-L Torte in a circular pan. Now for the ingredients...

I finally decided to make a savory torte with lots of eggs (kind of like a crustless quiche) so we could have it for brunch. I decided on a Leek, Goat Cheese and Cream Torte and it came out wonderfully. I'll be sure to make this again as it was easy and light. Unfortunately, the recipe is approximate as I potchked quite a bit while I cooked.

1-L Tort(e)

2 tablespoons Olive Oil
4 cloves Garlic, minced
4 Leeks, dark green stems removed, white and light green bulbs coarsely chopped
pinch Coriander Seeds
Salt to taste
2 Eggs

3/4 cup Heavy Cream
1 cup fresh Goat Cheese
1/4 teaspoon dried Oregano
2 stalks Parsley, minced

Preheat oven to 350 F. Heat Olive Oil in skillet over medium heat and saute Garlic until golden. Add Leeks and saute, stirring, until soft enough to cut with a spatula. Season with Coriander Seeds and Salt to taste. Remove from heat and reserve.

In a medium metal bowl, beat Eggs and Cream until well-combined. Butter 9-inch round pie pan and spread Leek mixture evenly over bottom. Don't worry if there are a few holes. Crumble Goat Cheese over Leeks, spreading it around as much as possible. Pour Eggs and Cream on top, shaking the pan slightly if necessary in order for the Eggs to fill any holes remaining. Sprinkle with Oregano and Parsley.

Bake for 30 minutes until cooked through and golden. Serve warm.

and and and and

Wednesday, December 21, 2005


Yesterday, the Boy had his last exam for the semester. We had discussed going out all night, really celebrating in style, but there is a transit strike going on, so going far away was completely out of the question. Instead, we took the opportunity to find a simple, easygoing, affordable restaurant near home.

After reading aloud a panoply of restaurant reviews, we finally settled on Danal, a French restaurant in the East Village. However, their kitchen closes at 10 pm, so, at 9:30 we rushed over.

Apparently, there was no need to rush. When we arrived, at 9:50, we nervously asked the maitre d' if it was too late to eat. He glanced at his watch and told us we were fine; we just had to hurry. We peeled off our layers and were seated comfortably at a table for four. Glancing around, there were two other tables, one enjoying a bottle of wine and the other finishing up dessert. At least it wasn't empty!

We were brought hand-written menus in red leather picture frames. The menu changes daily, so there is only a small assortment of dishes. However, the dishes are very varied (though mostly French influenced), with risotto, meat and fish all offered as well as several appetizer salads.

Danal itself is a cozy, comfortable restaurant. The chairs don't match the wooden tables (no tablecloths) and there are long wooden benches covered with pillows along the side. It is well-lit and the service was perfect--charming, but not overbearing.

As we began looking at the menu, the maitre d' walked over, smiling. "You don't actually have to worry. I was just teasing," he told us.

We were still ready to order as our waiter came over. We also requested a bottle of Cotes de Rhone, my favorite kind of red wine. It was a Jean-Luc Colombo 2003 Les Abeilles and was absolutely superb. Perfectly warming after the freezing air outside and slightly spicy without food, though it mellowed once we ate and complemented all our dishes.

The waiter also set down a wire basket of what tasted like Homemade Bread--multi-grain and rye, as well as a little pot of delicious butter. We were both starving, so we ate a fair amount of both breads as well as some butter. The breads also proved perfect for sopping up our sauces later on in the meal.

To start, the Boy had an earthenware bowl of French Onion Soup. The soup was piping hot and filled with perfectly caramelized onions. The broth too was quite tasty. Unfortunately, there was not quite enough cheese for his tastes. The Onions were really the main attraction of the soup, and well worth it.

I began with Mussels, cooked in a white wine and cream sauce with, you guessed it, lots of onions. The Mussels were plump and sweet and married wonderfully with the sauce. It was also quite a big serving of Mussels--unfortunately uncommon in the States. The sauce was so good, I almost wanted to drink it like soup, though I contented myself to soaking it up with the bread.

For his main, the Boy had a Skirt Steak with Bearnaise Sauce and Fries. I was slightly surprised by his order since he normally does not like Bearnaise on his meat. However, the sauce was wonderful--deliciously vinegary and not too sweet. It was even better on the Fries than on the Steak! The Steak itself was very simple, letting the flavor of the meat shine through. Ordered rare, it was perfectly saignant, in true French fashion.

My main was Pan-Roasted Cod Wrapped in Bacon, with Caramelized Pearl Onions and Spinach Souffle. The Cod was tender and delicate, with the Bacon lending a smoky rather than overly salty flavor. The Onions were, once again, delightful, Pearl Onions being naturally sweet and even more so once caramelized. But the best part of all was the Spinach Souffle. The Boy said it was the best Spinach he had ever had and it certainly was up there--think the lightest Creamed Spinach imaginable. Truly superb.

Surprisingly enough, we still managed to have room to share a dessert. Not wanting anything too heavy, we opted for a Cranberry-Apple Cobbler, not too sweet and very tangy due to the Cranberry. It was served warm with a small dollop of homemade Whipped Cream on top. The Cream was ever so slightly sweet, beautifully rounding out the dish.

This was a delightful, comfortable evening and a great discovery of a restaurant to which we shall certainly return.

90 East 10th Street
New York, NY
(212) 982-6939

and and and and

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Blog Appetit #6: Champignons farcis de memoires

Today is the sixth edition of Blog Appetit with a theme of Emotion Champignons--mushrooms and an emotion. Normally, Blog Appetit offers bloggers two ingredients out of which they must prepare a dish. But today this second ingredient is a feeling. Since Blog Appetit is a French blogging extravaganza, the rest of this entry will be in French.

Emotion Champignons. Comment est-ce qu'une emotion peut etre un ingredient dans une recette avec des champignons? me suis-je demande. Je peux tres facilement dire que l'emotion, c'est perdue, car je suis tout a fait perdue par ce nouvel "ingredient," mais ca serait tricher et je ne veux pas le faire. Non; il me faudra trouver une emotion qui joue bien avec des champignons. Mais laquelle?

Premierement, j'ai pense a un ingredient qui nous fait toujours penser a une certaine emotion, un aphrodisiaque. Je pouvais creer une recette avec des champignons et des huitres, par exemple, et l'appeler "Les champignons d'amour," ou quelque chose comme ca. Mais, pour une raison ou une autre, cela ne m'interressait pas.

Finalement, j'ai songe a mes experiences personelles avec des champignons. Au lycee, mon meilleur ami, Davey (qui m'a rendu visite a Paris au printemps) est moi avait l'habitude de donner des diners pour nos amis. Un jour, un ami me disait: "Tu sais, je viens de decouvrir que j'aime bien des champignons. Tu peux faire un diner aux champignons?"

J'ai repete la demande a Davey est nous avons songe a un Diner de Champignons. On a commence par des pates avec des champignons, puis des filets de boeuf avec une sauce de champignons. Et pour le dessert? Des truffes (de chocolat)! C'etait vraiment delicieux.

Malheureusement, Davey et moi ne font pas des diners depuis quelques annees car il habite a New York et moi non. Mais j'y suis pour quelques semaines, donc nous avons decide de faire a moins un. On en parlera plus.

Alors ces champignons sont une nouvelle recette que je n'ai jamais cuisine avec Davey. Neanmoins, ils etaient delicieux et Davey les adorera, j'en suis sur. Je les ai farcie avec de l'orge pour continuer ce theme des memoires. L'orge me fait toujours penser a la cuisine juive de ma mere et de mon grand-pere. Donc, les voila!

Champignons farcis de memoires

20 Champignons creminis
4 tranches de Bacon de dinde, coupe en des
1 Onion, emince
4 gousses d'Ail, hachees
1 tasse de Sauce tomate
3 tasses d'orge cuit
1/4 cuillere a cafe d'origan sec
1/4 cuillere a cafe de sel de celeri
Sel et Poivre a gouter

Prechauffer le four a 350 F. Laver bien les Champignons. Separer les tiges des tetes des Champignons. Couper en des les tiges et les mettre a cote. Dans une poele, cuire le Bacon, l'Onion, l'Ail et les tiges de Champignons a feu moyen jusqu'a ce que le Bacon et cuit et l'Onion doux. Ajouter la Sauce tomate, l'Orge, l'Origan, le Sel de celeri, le Sel et le Poivre. Les melanger bien. Mettre le melange d'Orge dans les tetes des Champignons. Placer les Champignons sur un plat allant au four, prealablement lubrifie avec de l'huile d'olive. Cuire pour 20-25 minutes.

and and and and and

Monday, December 19, 2005

Poisson vietnamien aux capres

After a full day of Holiday Shopping at the Holiday Fair at Grand Central Terminal, we stopped off at the food shops of Grand Central Market downstairs to buy some dinner. The fish at Pescatore Seafood Company was so spectacular we couldn't bear to return home without any. Also, the Boy had his third law school exam the next day, so I wanted him to have some brain food--fish! The most attractive fillets were actually from a kind of fish I had never heard of: Vietnamese Basa.

Once home, a brief search online showed that it is a Vietnamese relative to catfish with a mild flavor and firm texture. Not wanting to cover up this flavor, I decided to bake it with simple seasonings. Using Culinary Artistry for inspiration, I chose capers as the main complement. Et voila! A delicious fish with seasonings that really made it shine.

Poisson Vietnamine aux capres

4 fillets of Basa
Olive Oil to grease pan
8 Capers in Oil
4 cloves Garlic
pinch Allspice
Salt and Pepper to taste
Lemon and Dill for serving

Pre-heat oven to 325 F. Place Basa fillets in greased pan. Place 1 Caper on each fillet, then flip fillets and place a Caper on the other side. Do the same with each 1/2 clove of Garlic and with the Allspice, Salt and Pepper. Bake until meat flakes easily with a fork, about 10 minutes. Serve with Lemon Juice and a sprig of Dill.

and and and and

Friday, December 16, 2005

Pudding au pain de gingembre confit, avec une sauce luxueuse de chocolat

Laurent, from, is holding a chocolate contest and offering up prizes--copies of Pierre Herme's new patisserie book, Ph 10. Since Laurent's is a French blog, this post will be in French.

Comme vous savez, je ne suis pas exactement grande patissiere. Et Maman, avec qui je suis maintenant, rentree a New York, n'aime pas de tout le chocolat. Alors, un concours sur les recettes de chocolat--je n'etais pas exactement ravie.

Neanmoins, j'ai commence a y penser et j'ai decide de faire la sauce de chocolat la plus luxueuse possible. Apres avoir fait la sauce, on avait besoin de quelque chose pour mettre dessous. J'ai voulu faire quelque chose de doux, alors j'ai pense a une creme. Finalement, j'avais du vieux challah, donc j'ai decide de faire un Pudding au pain. Apres avoir consulte mon nouveau livre favori, Culinary Artistry, j'ai vu que le chocolat fait un tres joli mariage avec le gingembre. Alors j'ai decide de faire un Pudding au pain avec des petites pieces de gingembre confit. C'etait vraiment facile et le Pudding etait delicieux chaud ou froid, avec la sauce au chocolat, nature, ou avec un peu de lait.

Et la sauce, vous demandez? C'est formidable! Ca a presque la texture du velours, si on pouvait manger du velours. Il nous reste toujours beaucoup, beaucoup de la sauce, mais Papa avait dit que c'etait la meilleure sauce a chocolat qu'il n'a jamais goute. On imagine la savorer sur la glace et on va l'essayer dans un Egg Cream. Je vous dirai, bien sur, comment ca se passe...

Pudding au pain de gingembre confit et Sauce luxueuse de chocolat


4 oz. de Poudre de cacao
2 tasses de Sucre blanc
1/8 cuillere a cafe de Sel
1/8 tasse de Sirop d'erable
1/2 + 1/8 tasse d'un Sirop simple (1 part eau, 2 parts sucre, cuits ensemble pour environ 5 minutes)
2 1/4 tasses d'eau

Dans une boule, melanger la Poudre de caco, le Sucre blanc et le Sel jusqu'a ce qu'on ne peut pas les differencier, l'un de l'autre. Mettez-les dans une grande cocotte hors feu. Ca doit etre vraiment une tres grande cocotte car la sauce aggrandit enormement.

Ajoutez les ingredients liquides, l'un apres l'autre: le Sirop d'erable et puis le Sirop simple. Melangez completement le tout.

Ajoutez lentement l'eau. Mettez la cocotte sur feu jusqu'a ce que ca commence a bouillir. Reduire le feu le plus possible sans perdre la bouillie. Continuez a le remuer assez frequemment. Laissez-le cuire pour 9-10 minutes.

Et voila! Vous pouvez tres bien garder la sauce dans le frigo pour pas mal de temps. Ca fait environ 900 g de Sauce.

Pudding au pain

3/4 d'un pain Challah, coupe en des et sans croutes
3/4 tasse de Gingembre confit
4 Oeufs
3/4 tasse de Sucre
1 cuillere a cafe de Vanille
1 cuillere a cafe de Cannelle
1/2 cuillere a cafe de Gingembre
1/8 cuillere a cafe de Muscade
3 tasses de Lait entier
Sauce au chocolat

Mettez le Challah dans un moule a gateaux pour que ca couvre tout le fond du moule dans une couche. Couvrez le Challah avec le Gingembre.

Dans une boule, fouettez ensemble les Oeufs, le Sucre, la Vanille, la Cannelle, le Gingembre, le Muscade et le Lait. Versez-le sur le Challah et laissez-le rester pour 30 minutes, appuyant sur le de temps en temps avec une spatule pour que le Challah absorbe bien le melange.

Mettez le four a 350 F. Cuisez le Pudding au four pour 1 1/4 heures jusqu'a ce que ca soit ferme au milieu. Mangez-le chaud ou froid, nature, avec la Sauce au chocolat ou avec du Lait entier.

and and and and and and

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Ravioli d'epinards et de ricotta

There are some nights, especially during the winter, when all you want is a big bowl of comforting pasta. I'm back in New York for a month, so I finally have a right to complain about the cold. The Boy is in the midst of his first set of law school exams, so the house has been very quiet, leaving him space to study and me to catch up on reading cookbooks and to do some research on Proust as well.

On Monday, the Boy reached the halfway mark in his exams and wanted to go out for a nice meal, which we haven't yet been able to do. We picked a
restaurant and were all set to go, but, after having had some mediocre chopped liver for lunch, I wasn't really feeling up to it. What I really wanted was a nice bowl of spinach ravioli with melted butter--nothing fancy, not too heavy and with vegetables, which I've been craving.

So the Boy braved the cold to go out to Whole Foods and returned with two different kinds of ravioli: Spinach and Ricotta from Raffetto's and Double Spinach from a company I'd never had before. Raffetto's fresh pasta is famous in the city. It's a little Italian goods store on Houston Street that really deserves its own post. Their pasta is made with all good ingredients and always tastes exactly like the flavor it promises. For instance, the Spinach-Ricotta really had the flavor of both and the Ravioli outside was fantastic as well. The Double Spinach were also good, though the Boy preferred Raffetto's. First of all, they were huge! And green! Unfortunately, though, the Spinach filling wasn't as tasty as I might have hoped. It needed just a little bit of Olive Oil or Pepper.

We boiled these in Salted Water for about 8 minutes, then tossed them with two knobs of Butter and several pinches of Salt and Fennel Seeds. The Fennel Seeds were my surprised ingredient at the end and they were delicious! They really made the pasta taste refreshing. All in all, a perfectly comforting meal.

Whole Foods Market
4 Union Square South
New York, NY 10003

and and and and

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Asian Persuasion: Darvish Restaurant

One of the ladies I live with, Miss Julie, is sick. It's nothing serious, just that time of year. But her throat hurts and nothing looks especially appetizing. So I suggested we three go out for dinner and Sunday night and find some nice, homemade soup for our patient. I also casually mentioned that it would be great if we could go somewhere Asian since Sarah's theme this month for Dine & Dish is Asian Persuasian.

After searching online and taking into account our various restrictions (nothing too expensive, nothing carb heavy for Miss Julie or fish-heavy for Miss Jess), we opted for Persian food, which none of us had ever had.

If, for some reason, you are lacking in geographical education, Iran (formerly Persia) is in fact in Asia, although I admit Persian food was not what I first thought of when I saw Sarah's Dine & Dish theme.

No matter. Darvish Restaurant, in Claremont, CA fit all our requirements and was where we went.

Because Miss Julie had dragged herself out of bed to come to dinner, we didn't want to order appetizers and make her stay longer than necessary. While looking over the menu we all stuck with ice water, since the beer selection comprised Bud and Heineken and the ones were all normal, unexciting California ones. After we had ordered, though, Miss Julie and I each got a glass of tea which was quite nice.

The menu consists of several pages and has long explanations and pictures of each dish. Many are variations on a theme (all different kinds of kebabs), but the menu is nicely laid out and accessible, especially if you have never had Persian food before.

Miss Julie finally decided not to order soup and instead chose the Kabob Barg, Filet Mignon skewered and charbroiled, served on a bed of fluffy Basmati Rice with Saffron and grilled Tomatoes. The meat was well-cooked and tender. It had been marinated in a delicious, slightly musky, slightly spicy dry rub which really separated it from any other Filet Mignon.

Miss Jess was most intrigued by a stew, Fesenjoon. This was by far the most exotic dish we'd ordered, a "delicious cooked mixture of Walnuts in Pomegranate Sauce and Chicken breast served with Basmati Rice," according to the menu. It was a lot of very strong flavors and could not be really enjoyed without the rice. The Walnuts proved the most prominent flavor, which was unexpected but rather a nice change.

Finally, I opted for the Adas Polo with Koobideh, Rice made with Raisins, Lentils and Dates and seasoned with Saffron, served with one skewer of Koobideh, either Chicken or Beef. Being such a meat-eater, I went for the beef Koobideh. The meat was treated with a similar dry rub to Miss Julie's filet mignon and was tender and equally tasty. The rice, too, was delicious. The Basmati rice was quite fluffy and the addition of Lentils and Raisins made it much more flavorful, especially since I'm not the biggest fan of rice. The dates were a little too sweet in general, since they were cut in such big chunks. Nevertheless, it really was a good dish.

All in all, this was a very good meal. The dishes were huge, so none of us finished our food (of course, Miss Julie also didn't touch her rice), though that was no reflection on its preparation. Will we go back? Very possibly, at least next time we want something a little "different."

Darvish Restaurant
946 W. Foothill Blvd.
Claremont, CA

Update: Sarah's given us a beautiful write-up of all our Asian meals! Go check it out.

Friday, December 02, 2005

My Blog Went Up in Flames!: Des photos embarrassantes

Rachael, from Fresh Approach Cooking, has an idea for a new meme. Called My Blog Went Up in Flames!, she's asking for our worst pictures. No one, not even the most flattering person on earth trying to butter me up for goodness knows what favor, would say that I'm a great photographer. But I usually take several pictures of my dishes, in hopes that one of them will at least show something about the dish.

The above photo is from when I was still living in Paris. The Boy was in the States, it was summer, and I was getting into reading food blogs. So I found this recipe for Duck with Quatres Epices and Coriander Seeds on Mijo's Je Mijote and made it for myself. It was delicious but I was still getting used to my new camera, so even the final picture I used is not exactly fantastic.

Looking through my old pictures, I did find a couple of "runners-up" for embarrasing photos. The one on the left is of the omelette makers vigorously beating eggs at La mere Poulard in Brittany. They were moving so quickly it was absolutely impossible to take an acceptable photo. And finally, on the right, is a picture of a delicious bowl of Spaghetti with Clams I made myself only a few short months ago in San Francisco. Again--very blurry. I believe I took this one in a poorly lit kitchen, but didn't want to use my flash as I was afraid that would change the vibrant color of my fresh tomato sauce.

Well, here's to better photos in the future!

Sunday, November 27, 2005

IMBB/SHF: Biscuits de potiron et de farine d'avoine

Thanksgiving's over and in order to celebrate the upcoming holiday season, Jennifer from The Domestic Goddess (also the founder of Sugar High Fridays) and Alberto of Il Forno (the founder of Is My Blog Burning?) have joined forces to create a Cookie Swap. They're asking food bloggers to post their favorite holiday cookie recipes so the rest of us can try them out once the Holidays roll in--kind of like a virtual cookie exchange.

The main point of this event, was that people shouldn't have to go crazy looking through cookbooks, but instead should pick their real tried-and-true recipes. Unfortunately, I don't have any. I'm not a baker and I have no idea what recipe I used the last time I made holiday cookies. When we celebrate the holidays in my house, we make potato latkes and roast a goose, stopping off at Ecce Panis to buy sweets. That's the way we've done it for years and I haven't heard complaints yet.

But I haven't made cookies in years and drop cookies are supposed to be easiest, so I made these Pumpkin Oatmeal Cookies, using a recipe from The Classic Zucchini Cookbook for some basic inspiration. The result? They're not pretty (my uncle said they looked more like meatballs than cookies) but they are good. Not too sweet, but with a nice hint of exotic from the Cardamom I threw into the batter on a whim. Also, because Mom doesn't eat chocolate, I made half without the chocolate chips.

Biscuits de potiron et de farine d'avoine

1 cup All-Purpose Flour
1 1/2 teaspoons Ground Cinnamon
Seeds from 7 pods of Cardamom (a little over 1 teaspoon)
1/2 teaspoon Baking Powder
1/2 teaspoon Baking Soda
1/2 cup (1 stick) Unsalted Butter
1/2 cup Granulated Sugar
1/2 cup Light Brown Sugar
1 large Egg
2 cups Pumpkin Puree
1 1/3 cups Rolled Oats
1/2 cup Chocolate Chips (optional)
1/2 cup Dried Cranberries
1 cup chopped Walnuts

Pre-heat oven to 375 F.

In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together Flour, Cinnamon, Cardamom Seeds, Baking Powder and Baking Soda until well-combined.

In a large bowl, beat Butter, Granulated Sugar, Brown Sugar, Egg and Vanilla until creamy. Continuing mixing on low speed, add the Flour mixture a little at a time until all incorporated. Mix in Pumpkin Puree, Oats, Chocolate Chips (if using), Cranberries and Walnuts.

Take heaping tablespoons of the dough and form it into balls. Drop onto ungreased Baking Sheets, keeping Balls about 2 inches apart from each other (they do expand in the oven).

Bake for 12-14 minutes, until a toothpick comes out dry (or virtually dry if you like your cookies soft).

Allow cookies to cool slightly before removing them from baking sheet.

Makes about 30 cookies.

and and and and and and and and

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Imagine: Creamy Butternut Squash Soup

Usually, if I'm going to have a meal worth blogging about, I make it from scratch, especially if it's something cooked. But every so often, I'm lazy. I want a warming and filling bowl of soup, but without going through the trouble of making a whole pot of it, especially if I'm the only one eating it. Often I ignore such feelings and just make a soup, freezing leftovers or convincing some innocent soul to eat with me. But other times the microwave calls and I just nuke a bowl of packaged, prepared soup.

Most of the time, this soup is unflavorful and generally forgettable. However, I've finally found a brand I like--Imagine, a natural, organic brand that makes many wheat, gluten and dairy-free foods, made with real ingredients. Specifically, I had their Creamy Butternut Squash Soup, which I bought at Trader Joe's. While the soup itself had a very pleasant flavor, I found it was even better with a dollop of Greek Yogurt and some Cinnamon stirred in. Also, because I had a Spinach Salad on the side, I threw in a few spinach leaves to make it more interesting.

The result? Heavenly. And, perusing the Imagine website, I see they even have a recipe for Shells with Creamy Butternut Squash Sauce. That'll have to be for a day I do feel like cooking.

and and and and and and and and and

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Sunday Breakfast: Egg & Onion Matzo with Cream Cheese

Andrew has come up with a breakfast meme. He wants to know what everyone had for their Sunday breakfast today!

I like lazy Sundays--waking up late, sitting with a big cup of coffee and catching up on my news (serious, frivolous and blogs). When my stomach starts to growl, I like a nice big breakfast, usually with eggs and sometimes some kind of breakfast meat as well.

Some Sunday mornings, however, I have no time to be lazy. This morning, for instance, I had a rehearsal at 9 AM. I work as a stage manager, which means that if a rehearsal starts at 9, I have to be there at 8:40 at the earliest to unlock and set up the space so that we can start at 9. Of course, all of this means that I spent my Sunday morning waking up at 7:15 AM.

While reading my e-mail and glancing at headlines, I needed something quick to eat that would still give me a boost of energy. Normally I have a yogurt, but I had bought some Egg & Onion Matzos in the Kosher section of Ralph's a few weeks ago and I wanted to try them out. I thickly smeared the Matzo (which invariably crumbled into several pieces) with Cream Cheese. It was delicious! The Egg & Onion Matzos are a little salty (with just a hint of spice from the Onion Flakes), so the Cream Cheese mellows them out nicely.

Even though I prefer to wake up at a normal hour on Sundays, this was quite tasty.

and and and and and and

Update: Andrew has posted a round-up of everyone's Sunday morning breakfasts!

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Donna Hay: Cashew Butter Cupcakes

Picture taken by J. Dell'Era and cupcakes decorated by Miss Dell'Era and J. Vinogradsky

According to Nic, Donna Hay is the Australian Martha Stewart. This was my first encounter with her, but regardless, she knows how to make some damn-good cupckaes. Barbara, from winosandfoodies, has started a meme for Donna Hay's self-frosting cupcakes. The original recipe calls for peanut butter frosting , but various people have been playing around and Nutella seems to be the frosting of choice.

I decided, since Miss Julie, one of my lovely ladies, is on a nut binge lately, to play with a more exotic nut butter than peanut butter, but still stay in the chocolateless family. Of course, dark chocolate pastilles were added to beautify the cupcakes, but the taste still stayed quite nutty. What was my "exotic nut," you may ask? Why, cashews!

To make Cashew Butter, simply blend 2 cups of Roasted Cashews with 1-2 tablespoons of Oil. This is easy and delicious! I now have a little tub of Cashew Butter to spread on Toast in the mornings or for a midnight snack.

And, perhaps more importantly, the cupcakes? They were delicious, especially with a tall glass of Milk!

Cashew Butter Cupcakes

10 tablespoons Butter
3/4 cups Brown Sugar
3 Eggs
1/2 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1 3/4 cups All-Purpose Flour
1/4 teaspoon Salt
Pinch Cinnamon
2 teaspoons Baking Powder
Cashew Butter

Preheat oven to 325 F. Line a 12-muffin tin with paper cups.

Cream Butter and Sugar. Add Eggs, one at a time, and mix until well-incorporated. Add Vanilla. Stir in Flour, Salt, Cinnamon and Baking Powder. Mix until fully combined and no specks of Flour remain. Fill each Muffin cup about 3/4 full of batter. Mix in a spoonful of Cashew Butter, swirling it into the Batter.

Bake 20 minutes. Let cool completely before eating.

Optional: Smear a little more Cashew Butter on top of Cupcakes and stick a Cashew and/or a Chocolate Pastille into the Cashew Butter topping.

Update: Check out Barbara's round-up! And congratulations to Glutton Rabbit for the prettiest picture.

and and and and and

Monday, November 14, 2005

Edible Birthday Goodies

Last Wednesday was my birthday. And, wouldn't you know it, the wonderful ladies with whom I live decorated our hallway with streamers! Actually, I wasn't allowed out of my room while the streamers were being put up. But I suppose that's a sign of love. At least, that's what they told me.

Also not surprisingly, I received food-related gifts, about which I just had to brag.

One of my ladies gave me this fabulous Creme Brulee Set, complete with Ramekins and a Blow Torch. She said they also had one with a pre-made Creme Brulee mix, but she decided her "foodie friend would want to come up with her own mix." Good thinking! Doesn't she know me so well? I promise to experiment with it soon and I'll be sure to post about the results.

My other "foodie" gift was from my other lady's boyfriend, who spends a fair amount of time with us, not surpisingly. From him, I received a bottle of Moet & Chandon Champagne, "Nectar Imperial," according to the side of the box. We're discussing when to crack open this beauty and with what to enjoy it. Again, tasting notes will follow.

and and and and

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Prosciutto and Tomato Open-Faced Sandwich

Some days, the best meal is a simple one.

This open-faced sandwich consists of a thick slice of Trader Joe's Rosemary Batard, spread generously with their Crushed Garlic and two slices of Prosciutto. Because my Cherry Tomatoes were so juicy, I preferred to eat them on the side, but they could easily be sliced in half and placed on top of the meat.


and and and and and

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

The Great Pumpkin Carve-Off: Pumpkin Pie with Pumpkin Seed Crust

I know. After announcing I'm not a baker, I bake. Again. But this time I have an excuse! Elise, of Simply Recipes, is (was) holding a contest for creative and delicious uses of the left-overs from carving a pumpkin. I haven't carved a pumpkin in years, so this seemed like as good an excuse as any. Also, I was back in New York for the weekend, which meant the Boy joined me in pumpkin carving. And since pie is one of his absolute favorite foods, I decided it was only fair to make him one.

To make this pie, I got my idea from another recipe in Canyon Ranch Cooks. Their recipe was for a Pumpkin Pie with a Pecan Crust. Looking at my ever-growing pile of Pumpkin Seeds, I decided to make the crust with a combination of ground Pumpkin Seeds and Graham Crackers instead. Not very sweet, it came out with a "homey" taste, something you'd expect a grandmother to serve. I think it would be best with whipped cream, though we loved it straight. You can substitute canned pumpkin puree for the fresh puree I made by steaming peeled pieces left over from our Jack O'Lanterns.

Pumpkin Pie with Pumpkin Seed Crust

10 Graham Crackers
2 tablespoons Pumpkin Seeds, toasted in 250 F oven.
1 tablespoon + 1 cup Pumpkin Puree
Oil to coat pie plate
2 Eggs
3/4 cup Evaporated Fat-Free Milk
1/4 cup Apple Juice Concentrate
1/4 cup Brown Sugar
1/2 teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon Ground Ginger
3 Cloves, ground
Pinch Salt

Preheat oven to 350 F.

In a food processor, combine Graham Crackers and Pumpkin Seeds until all crumbs are more or less of the same texture. Move to a medium bowl and add 1 tablespoon Pumpkin Puree. Mix well. Grease 9" pie plate (I used Peanut Oil), then press Graham Cracker and Pumpkin Seed mixture into bottom and up sides.

In a large bowl, combine remaining ingredients, including 1 cup Pumpkin Puree. Blend well.

Pour Pumpkin mixture into pie crust.

Bake for 25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean. Once cooled to room temperature, refrigerate pie.

Serve chilled.

Update: The results are in! Check them out and congrats to the winners.

and and and and and

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Strawberry Muffins

I would never even begin to consider myself a baker, but there is something wonderful about making a batter, putting it into an oven and watching it puff up into something sweet and delicious. I always feel such a sense of accomplishment after baking and I find it more magic than cooking. I know what will happen to a roast or a fish when I put it in the oven. It will cook and the meat will be flavorful and (hopefully) moist. When you take a trout or a duckling out of the oven, it looks browner, but not much different from when you put it in.

Baking is different. You have to measure everything exactly; no "a pinch of this and a spot of that." At least for me, I have to follow a recipe almost to the letter and not improvise as I go along. However, in some ways, the payback is greater. I'm never really sure what's going to happen, so when it works, it's even more exciting than cooking savory foods.

Sunday was a particularly unproductive day for work, so I decided the only way to fight my feeling of uselessness would be to bake. I had some strawberries languishing in the fridge from my Fruit Salad and a muffin tin that was just waiting to be used. So I decided to make Strawberry Muffins, using my newest cookbook (and as of then untested), Canyon Ranch Cooks. This cookbook has gorgeous pictures and has foods that remain more or less healthy, so the recipe called for half Whole Wheat Flour, half All-Purpose Flour and there was Non-Fat Yogurt and no Butter. Because I had no Whole Wheat Flour, I used only All-Purpose. Other than that, I remained very faithful to the recipe. The muffins came out delicious. While not sweet, they made a wonderful breakfast and would have been perfect with tea and a little cream. But I suppose that defeats the purpose of being Healthy Food.

Strawberry Muffins

1 1/2 cup All-Purpose Flour
2 teaspoons Baking Powder
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1 Egg
1/3 cup Milk (I used 2 %)
1/3 cup Nonfat Plain Yogurt
2 tablespoons Canola Oil + for coating muffin tins
1/3 cup Turbinado Sugar
1 cup Strawberries, chopped and hulled

Preheat oven to 350 F. Dampen a paper towel with Canola Oil and coat cups of a 12-cup muffin tin.

In a large bowl, combine Flour, Baking Powder and Salt

In a medium bowl, combine Egg, Milk, Yogurt and Canola Oil, then add Sugar, mixing well.

Create a well in the dry ingredients, then slowly add the wet. Mix well until everything is combined well and there are no lumps. Add fruit and stir until evenly distributed throughout batter.

Place 1/4 cup of batter in each muffin tin and bake about 15 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean.

Remove muffin tin from oven and place on a rack to cool. If desired, sprinkle muffin tops with a pinch of Cinnamon and/or some Sugar for a burst of added flavor.

Makes 12 Muffins.

Update: Barbara, from Winos and Foodies, liked these so much she made them over the weekend, with a spoonful of Nutella inside.

and and and

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Spaghetti with clams

One of my favorite parts of cooking is basing a meal on one ingredient that's been hanging around for a bit too long. One night, I had several gorgeous tomatoes sitting around, "on their way out," as Mom would say. So I envisioned a simple but hearty pasta sauce to use up all five of my up-until-then forgotten tomatoes.

I considered a ragu or bolognese-type sauce, but then realized I'd been eating plenty of meat lately and not that much seafood. A spaghetti with clams therefore seemed like the perfect solution.

I didn't follow a recipe to make this, so many measurements are approximate. However, it was so good I definitely plan on making it again and, hence, thought I should share it.

Spaghetti with clams

1/2 lb. Spaghetti
1/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 cloves Garlic, thinly sliced
1 lb. Littleneck Clams, scrubbed clean
Salt and Red Pepper Flakes
1/3 cup Clam Juice
5 Tomatoes, diced
Parsley Leaves

Set a pot of salted water to boil. When it has, add the Spaghetti and cook according to package instructions. Meanwhile, make the Sauce:

Heat Oil in a skillet. Add Garlic, Clams, Salt and Red Pepper Flakes to taste. Saute about 1 minute, add Clam Juice and stir. Cook about 1 minute, add Tomatoes. Bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer for 2 minutes.

Drain pasta and toss with Clams and Tomato Sauce. Sprinkle Parsley on top. Serve.

and and

Friday, October 07, 2005

EoMEoTE #11: Hotel Fruit and Cookie

(sung to The Eagles' Hotel California)

In an over-heated room, no wind coming in
Cool smell of oranges and strawberries and gin
Suddenly inspration, a fruit salad to chill us
Oranges, strawberries, papaya
Won't even be a big fuss

Fruit all cut and in a bowl; drizzled amaretto
Marinate for an hour in the fridge let the flavors together go
Then I whipped up an egg white, added it to yogurt
Break cookies to make it an entry, and look what you have made:

Welcome to the Hotel Fruit and Cookie
Such a lovely place, such a lovely taste
Plenty to eat at the Hotel Fruit and Cookie
Any time of year you can find it here.

For this month's EoMEoTE, hosted by Dispensing Happiness, the theme is Seventies Song Lyrics, so this is my attempt. Needless to say, I'm no songwriter but Hotel California is a special song to me, so I decided that, if done in love, it was ok to butcher it just a little.

Fruit and Whipped Yogurt

1 Orange, peeled and sectioned
1/2 Papaya, peeled, seeded and diced
15-20 Strawberries, hulled and halved
4 tablespoons Amaretto
1 Egg White
1/4 cup Non-Fat Plain Yogurt
1/4 cup Cottage Cheese
4 Molasses Cookies, broken into quarters

Place Fruit in bowl and drizzle with Amaretto. Combine well. Marinate for at least 1 hour.

Whip Egg White. Beat together (you can use a blender) Yogurt and Cottage Cheese until thoroughly combined and curdles are diminished. Slowly add Egg White, continuing to beat as you do so.

Place Cookies on plate, top with Fruit and add a dollop of Yogurt-Cottage Cheese. Serve.

and and and and

Monday, October 03, 2005

23rd Post: 5th Line

Barbara at winosandfoodies tagged me for this fun meme about a week ago and, now that I actually have some time to myself, I'm ready to participate. The set-up is to find and write-up the fifth sentench of your 23rd post and "ponder its meaning."

My 23rd post was written right before the Boy and I left our adorable little apartment in Paris and began our travels around France, before returning to the States. The fifth (and last) sentence was: "We've really enjoyed our Paris adventure--stay tuned for the rest!"

Well, it's been four months since we left our apartment and we sure do miss it. We've begun discussing when we'll next be able to return to Paris, even though that seems to be pretty far in the future these days. And as for staying tuned? It looks like some of you have, and some new folks have come along. Thanks for joining!

I'm tagging: 1. Cook Sister! 2. Je mijote 3. Pumpkin Pie Bungalow 4. Who Wants Seconds 5. NYC nosh.

The rules?
Find the 5th line of your 23rd post. Type it up. Look at it/analyze it. Search for any hidden meetings. Share 'em!

Monday, September 26, 2005

IMBB #19: Vegan Feast

Sam, from Becks & Posh, is hosting this month's IMBB and the theme is to make something Vegan! Now, I'm a carnivore so I was a little nervous about this theme. A whole vegan meal? The simplest thing would be to make a salad, but a salad without meat or cheese just seemed rather boring to me. Finally, I decided to forget about it completely. I've been pretty bad about blogging lately, and a show I'm working on began tech yesterday, so I certainly have enough excuses. But then today tech ended early, one of the ladies I live with was feeling ill and I really needed to buy groceries. So I decided to make us a vegan feast with two dishes: A Tofu and Tomato Stir-fry and a Cherry Tomato Salad with Rice Wine Vinaigrette. While shopping, I was very careful to read all the ingredients and buy only Vegan-allowed foods. The result? A simple and healthy dinner, but not one I would eat every night. So thanks, Sam, for opening my eyes to what a nice change this can be, but I think in general I prefer a steak.

Cherry Tomato Salad

40 Cherry Tomatoes, halved
Green and Black Olives, pitted
2 Scallions, minced
Salt and Cracked Black Pepper, to taste

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and drizzle with a little Rice Wine Vinaigrette. Toss and serve.

Rice Wine Vinaigrette

1/3 cup Canola Oil
1/3 cup Rice Wine Vinegar
3 cloves Garlic, minced

Whisk together until well-combined. Perfect drizzled delicate vegetables, cooked or raw.

Tofu and Tomatoes

Canola Oil to grease pan
1 Plum Tomato, diced
5 cloves Garlic, minced
2-3 teaspoons Olive Oil
2 packs Extra-Firm Tofu, cubed
Trader Joe's 21-Seasoning Salute (or favorite spice blend)
1 tablespoon Soy Sauce
Salt and Cracked Black Pepper, to taste

Grease pan with Canola Oil. Saute Tomato and Garlic until Garlic is fully cooked and Tomato is soft. Remove from pan and reserve. Add Olive Oil to pan. Heat, then add Tofu Cubes. Saute until Tofu begins to color. Add 21-Seasoning Salute. Return Tomato mixture to pan. Add Soy Sauce and move tofu bits around so everything is well combined. Add Salt and Cracked Black Pepper to taste. Serve.

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Friday, September 09, 2005

Salade Grecque

Shortly before I left San Francisco, I was suffering from a surfeit of lemons. My first trip to the astounding Trader Joe's my second day in San Fran, I bought a gigantic bag of lemons. I had used one or two, but it was time to base my dinner around the remaining ones. I also wanted something light and easy to prepare, since we were leaving early the next morning to drive south to LA.

After searching online for something that met all my requirements, I stumbled upon a recipe from Elise, of Simply Recipes fame. It was her Dad's Greek Salad Recipe and it looked light and refreshing, not to mention the fact that it included lemon juice. So, I made it. The result? Fabulous. Here's how I made it, staying close to Elise's Dad's recipe, but of course making my own adjustments, as per usual.

Salade Grecque

3 tbsp Olive Oil
Juice of 1 Lemon
1 clove Garlic, chopped
1/2 teaspoon Cabernet Sauvignon Vinegar
1/4 teaspoon Dried Oregano
1 sprig Dill, chopped
Salt and Cracked Black Pepper
2 Plum Tomatoes, coarsely chopped
1 small Zucchini, peeled and coarsely chopped
1 small Yellow Onion, peeled and chopped
1 small Red Bell Pepper, seeded and coarsely chopped
1/4 cup pitted Kalamata Olives, chopped
Feta Cheese, crumbled, to taste (I used about 1/4 cup of Goat's Milk Feta)

Mix together Olive Oil, Lemon Juice, Garlic, Vinegar, Oregano and Dill until well combined. Season to taste with Salt and Black Pepper. Let rest while preparing Salad. Before serving, give Dressing a final mix before serving.

Toss Tomatoes, Zucchini, Onion, Pepper and Olives together in a bowl. Add dressing. Sprinkle with Feta Cheese and serve.

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Monday, September 05, 2005

Quesadillas d'aioli, tomates et mozzarella

Three beauties of one gender.
Put eggs in the blender--
Too much oil, we need a mender!
You can add another yolk,
You can make a joke.
You can sip a glass of Coke
Or call your folks
And give a poke.
Add some tomatoes and some cheese
And broil it in the oven, please.

And voila my Doctor Seuss parody which the crazy Cook Sister! requested for this month's EoMEoTE. Unfortunately, we didn't find a mender for my liquidy aioli, so we drizzled it on our tortillas instead of smearing it on like mayonnaise. They were still delicious!

Next time, I would use one lemon, instead of two and considerably less olive oil. I have included the recipe I believe would work perfectly.

Quesadillas d'aioli, tomates et mozzarella


3 Egg Yolks
1 cup Olive Oil
Juice of 1 Lemon
4 cloves Garlic, peeled
Salt and Cracked Black Pepper

Beat Egg Yolks in blender. If possible, depending on your blender, add Olive Oil while blender is on. If not, add it slowly, combining it and the Egg Yolks fully before adding more. When thick, add Lemon Juice and Garlic. Beat again, until Garlic is finely chopped. Season to taste with Salt and Pepper.

Quesadillas d'aioli, tomates et mozarella

8 Whole Wheat Tortillas
4 Roma Tomatoes, chopped
Generous amount Mozarella, broken into 20 hunks
Salt and Cracked Black Pepper

Pre-heat broiler. Spread 4 Tortillas with Aioli. Place Tomatoes on top, spreading around evenly. Add 5 pieces of Mozzarella to each Tortilla. Add Salt and Pepper to taste. Top each with another Tortilla. Broil for 5 minutes, or until cheese is melted. Serve warm.

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