posts tagged with 'recipes'

not-so-high tea

I made scones yesterday morning with the idea of passing them out at the bus stop and showing the other parents that I cared about them and was glad to have them as neighbors. I don't know how they feel about me as a neighbor, but none of them wanted any scones. Never mind, the boys sure wanted some—though since they'd just been treated to a big breakfast of fried eggs, toast, bacon, and oranges, I told them to hold off. Because it was scones, I told them we could have them for tea later. So we did.

Zion and Nathan sitting at the table for tea, looking serious

tea is serious business

We had friends over by then so they got to join in too. It was lovely, and the boys were totally ready to enter into the spirit of "tea" as a meal: "Take tiny nibbles," Harvey said, recalling instructions from some book or other. Then he kind of spoiled the effect by knocking over his teacup reaching for the tin of scones after the little boys didn't pass them quick enough. Luckily the cup only chipped rather than shattering—I was letting them use our finest Crate-and-Barrel wedding china—but the puddle of milky tea was mess enough. The little boys—Lijah and his friend Liam—didn't spill a drop, and so would have been within their rights to complain that I only trusted them with plastic cups, but they're more polite than that. They weren't huge fans of the tea, either, come to that, and much preferred the sliced mango to the scones.

Which I don't understand, because they were some tasty scones. I brought the rest of them to work this morning, where they were again properly appreciated. This batch was with orange zest and chocolate chips; the original recipe is from Joy of Cooking and is for raisin scones with cinnamon, like this:

raisin scones cooling on a rack

cinnamon raisin version

In a large bowl, whisk together:

2 cups flour
1/3 cup sugar
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

Cut in:

6 Tbsp butter

Stir in:

1/2 cup raisins (or orange zest and 3/4 cup chocolate chips, or lemon zest and 1/4 cup chopped candied ginger, or...)

Add and mix until combined (you'll have to knead it against the side of the bowl with your hands to get all the flour up):

1/2 cup cream
1 egg, beaten

Shape the dough into a disk maybe 3/4 inch thick, cut it into 12 wedges, and put them on a baking sheet. Brush them with cream or milk and sprinkle them with cinnamon sugar (for the raisin ones; or plain sprinkling sugar for the others).

Bake at 425°F for 12-15 minutes or until they're golden brown.

And if you want to replicate our experience, serve with decaf Earl Gray tea with cream and sugar, milk, and mango slices.

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recent recipes

I had a bad day, so it's a pleasant diversion to look back on some accomplishments from the past couple days—cooking ones. Like this cake.

a pumpkin cake

seasonal

We had folks over yesterday evening and I realized I hadn't thought about a desert. There wasn't time to make a pumpkin pie (or at least not to let one cool enough to eat) but a pumpkin cake seemed reasonable. I searched the internet and printed a likely-looking recipe, but on reflection it wasn't quite likely enough—I wasn't prepared to make a cake entirely with vegetable oil. So I triangulated between that recipe, our family pumpkin bread, and what I know about making cakes. The result came out pretty good, with cream cheese frosting between the layers (sadly not to Harvey's taste) and powdered sugar on top. Here's the recipe, for future reference:

In a large bowl whisk together

2 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

In a stand mixer, beat on medium-high for five minutes

1 cup (2 sticks) butter
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

Add one at a time, scraping the bowl and beating between additions

4 eggs

Add the dry ingredients in three even bunches, alternating with two even glops of

1 can canned pumpkin

Divide the batter between two buttered and floured 8-inch cake pans and bake at 350° for... um... until they're done. Maybe it was like 40 minutes? Let them cool.

For the frosting, combine 4 ounces (half a package) cream cheese, 2 tablespoons butter, and 1 cup powdered sugar in the food processor and pulse until combined. Or if you ask Harvey, leave out the cream cheese and make a proper butter frosting. After I had already started making the frosting I realized we were out of powdered sugar. Heading across the street to borrow some I passed the boys playing with the neighborhood kids—it all felt pretty old-fashioned!

The day before I was totally out of ideas for supper—out of ideas and out of ingredients. But even though we're getting into pumpkin season we still have lots of zucchinis. So why not zucchini quesadillas? I grated some zucchini and onion, salted it for a bit to get out some of the water, then cooked it in bacon fat with cumin and garlic powder. Then I made the quesadillas with the cooked zucchini and cheddar. Every new quesadilla I make is my favorite, and this was no exception. Zion wasn't a fan, of course, but you can never please everyone. With cake and quesadillas at least I managed to please myself!

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cooking omnibus post

All kinds of things lately, including some good food. For example, we celebrated spring a couple days ago with the first asparagus, which I cooked in a little butter and served up with bulgur, lentils, and poached eggs (also because spring). Life can't be too terrible when you can get asparagus and eggs from the backyard and cook them within five minutes of bringing them inside. Not that it's all spring all the time around here; yesterday was cold and raw and Leah's roasted root vegetables were just what we wanted.

A couple weeks ago I wanted something to bring along on our first trip to the Stevenses new house where we were going to help paint, and I made up another muffin recipe. It came out tasty enough that I wanted to write it down here so as not to forget.

Applesauce Muffins

In a large bowl, whisk together:

1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup wheat bran
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cloves

In another bowl, combine:

1 cup unsweetened applesauce (I used some very sour sauce made from Cortland apples)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 egg, beaten well
1/4 cup canola oil or melted butter
2 tablespoons molasses
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Add the wet ingredients to the dry and stir to combine. Spoon into greased muffin tins and bake for around 20 minutes at 375°F. Makes 12 regular sized muffins (or 30 little ones, as I did it the first batch).

Also on the baking front, I've been enjoying eating oatcakes made with this recipe from Orangette, which I was pointed to by this post on Soulemama. Oatcakes are a thing that, once I'd heard of their existence, I wanted to try, but in my research last year or thereabouts I didn't find a satisfactory recipe. This one is perfectly satisfactory and very tasty with jam (or Leah's chocolate-chip cookie dough dip).

A while ago Jo linked to a tortilla recipe that uses oil instead of shortening (and cooks in a skillet instead of the oven, as in the Joy of Cooking version), which I find delightfully easy and delicious. Homemade tortillas are wonderful and make rice and beans seem like something special. We're also putting immense quantities of cilantro on many things, when we have it around, which is also special.

The cilantro may be a side effect of reading Tamar Adler's An Everlasting Meal: Cooking with Economy and Grace a couple months ago. Other signs we've internalized some of her messages in that inspiring book are our increased consumption of home-made croutons and breadcrumbs and the fact that when I cooked the lentils the other night I saved the water they cooked in—which is now a remarkable broth, how could I have ever thrown it away?!—in a jar in the fridge. A jar that is even labeled. (The poached eggs of the first paragraph are also Adler-related.)

This evening while the boys were being wonderful playing with playdough (Leah makes that—most recently a double batch of blue and yellow) I pulled out a recipe I hadn't made in a while: banana bread made entirely in the food processor (well, except for the part when it's in a pan in the oven). It's good stuff, but I come to doubt the efficiency of using the machine. Yes there are fewer things to clean up then there would have been if I'd used the two bowl "muffin method" (as Alton Brown calls it), but cleaning the Cuisinart is so aggravating that it carries as much mental weight as three or four bowls. Also I'm not sure I trust that spinning blade to mix things up properly. Oh well, every once and a while in the name of variety—and of using up those two brown bananas.

So, we have some food here. Come by if you're feeling hungry!

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even our cookies are healthy now

two healthy-looking chocolate-chip cookies

bite to show texture

We're eating healthier than ever around here lately thanks to a new initiative from Leah that she might write about some day. She's also been cooking more than ever, so on the few occasions when I do manage to get into the kitchen I feel like I have to go all out—like, for example, making up a new cookie recipe. The new program also involves a lot of vegetable purees, so luckily there was plenty of sweet potato for me to experiment with.

And including sweet potato wasn't the only wild experimental step, either! Alternative sugars, whole grains, (relatively) low fat—these cookies are healthier than most of the breakfast food I make! Given my family's tastes, though, I just couldn't leave out the chocolate chips. Here's the recipe.

Sweet Potato-Oatmeal-Chocolate Chip Cookies

In a large bowl, whisk together:

1 cup oat flour (made from chopping up rolled oats in the food processor)
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup no-sugar-added dried coconut
1 teaspoon banking powder
1 teaspoon salt

In the stand mixer, cream together:

1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup brown sugar

Add and mix until smooth:

1 egg
1/2 cup sweet potato puree
2 tablespoons maple syrup
2 tablespoons applesauce
1 teaspoon vanilla

Add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix on low speed until combined. Add and mix until evenly distributed:

1 cup chocolate chips

Drop the dough on a greased cookie sheet—whatever size you like. Smush down each ball of dough, to about 1/2 inch tall, or else the middles won't get cooked. These cookies don't expand much during baking so you can get them fairly close together.

Bake at 350°F for 11 minutes or so.

Makes... um, not that many cookies. We didn't count, though, before a significant number of them were eaten, so I can't give you a solid number. Maybe the next batch!

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apple-pecan muffins

We're about at the end of fresh apple season, sadly, but if you're anything like us you still have plenty of apples around and plans to get more. We never have enough applesauce made! Of course, we've also been eating our fair share, but even with our best efforts some of the eating apples have passed their prime, at least as far as crispness is concerned. Happily, apple muffins are a great way to use them up those mushy but still tasty Empires or Cortlands. Below is the recipe I made up over the last two-three times I tried to put apples in muffins; nothing special, but I like the results at least (Harvey complains about the nuts—sorry boy, not everything can have chocolate chips in it!).

If I were a real food blogger I'd have some awesome close-up pictures, but I'm obviously not. All the photogenic muffins were eaten long before anyone thought of getting a camera.

Apple-Pecan Muffins

Preheat the oven to 375° and grease a 12-cup muffin tin.

In a medium bowl, combine and let sit for 15 minutes or so:

3 small apples or two large, peeled and grated
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup white sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla

In a large bowl whisk together:

1 cup white flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup wheat bran
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp grated nutmeg

Add:

3/4 cup toasted pecans, chopped

To the apple mixture add:

6 Tpsp melted butter or canola oil

Add the wet ingredients to the dry and fold together just until all the flour is combined. Distribute evenly into the muffin tin. Sprinkle the top of each muffin with a mixture of:

3 parts white sugar
2 parts brown sugar

Bake for 18 minutes or until a toothpick stuck into the middle of a muffin comes out clean.

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veggie dinner 5: black bean enchiladas

Alright, after this I'm done. For now.

I love these enchiladas because black beans and cream cheese, very prominent in the recipe, are two of my favorite foods. And they're especially good left over!

Black Bean Enchiladas

You can make the bean mixture and the sauce ahead of time and then assemble the enchiladas just before baking. At the appropriate time you'll need to preheat the oven to 350°F.

In a large saute pan, heat

1 Tbsp oil

Saute until soft

1 chipotle pepper canned in adobo sauce, minced
1 medium onion, minced

Add and simmer for 10 minutes

3 cans black beans, rinsed
3/4 cup orange juice

Mash about half the beans, stir, and simmer for a few more minutes.

While the beans are cooking, make the sauce. Mix

1 cup mild or medium salsa
1 cup tomato sauce
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp cumin

Divide the bean mixture evenly among

7 flour tortillas, soft taco size

Top each with an equal portion of

1 package (8oz) cream cheese

Lightly oil a 13x9 inch baking dish, then spoon some of the sauce onto the bottom. Roll the tortillas and put them into the dish. Top with the rest of the sauce and

2 cups grated monterey jack cheese

Cover the dish with foil and bake it for 25 minutes, then uncover it and bake a couple minutes more. Let cool for 5 minutes before serving.

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veggie dinner 4: spinach pie

Events conspired to mess up my five dinners in five days plan. Should have written them all ahead of time and scheduled them to post, eh?

This is an old family favorite of the Lexington Archibalds; at least, it was a favorite of mine growing up. I make it with some frequency, especially in the winter. Once again the recipe is from my mother.

Spinach Pie

This is called spinach pie because it's totally not a quiche—it's much cooler than that. I imagine it would be pretty easy to make it with fresh spinach rather than frozen, but when I have fresh spinach I much prefer to just eat it.

Make or procure a pie crust for a nine-inch pie dish and refrigerate it until you're ready. Preheat the oven to 350°F. In a large bowl, combine:

1 package frozen chopped spinach, thawed
1 cup cottage cheese
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
1 egg, beaten
pepper to taste
grated nutmeg to taste

Scrape the mixture into the pie crust and bake for 30-40 minutes (depending on how hungry you are and what time it is). Ideally, let the pie cool somewhat before serving, since it tends to fall apart if it's hot.

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veggie dinner 3: peanut noodles

All my good recipes come from my mother. Where she gets em, I have no idea. Maybe she can tell us in the comments. This one might be stretching the idea of "main dish" a little bit, but when we have it with a salad and some italian bread it's all the meal you could ever want.

Peanut Noodles

You can vary the spiciness of these noodles by adding or subtracting chile oil, as long as you have 7 tablespoons of oil all together. The sauce can be good on bread or vanilla ice cream (maybe) as well.

For the sauce, combine in the food processor:

1-3 cloves garlic
6 tablespoons chunky peanut butter
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1/4 cup soy sauce
6 tablespoons dark sesame oil
1 tablespoon chile oil or other hot oil

In salted water, cook:

12 ounces linguini (more or less; or other similar noodles)

Drain the noodles, then mix with the sauce and (all optional):

scallions
diced cucumber
chopped peanuts

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veggie dinner 2: chili

When we go camping with other folks—as we have the past four years—we take turns cooking dinner. That way each tent grouping can focus on a single meal and pack just what's needed to prepare it, which makes things go much more smoothly: important when it's getting dark and everyone's hungry after hiking! Of course, we all help out with chopping and fire building and things, as is only right for a communal expedition. This past trip the Archibalds prepared a vegetarian chili according to my mother's recipe, and it was all very well prepared indeed—except I forgot to bring the recipe itself. Thank goodness for modern technology, since I could call Mom right from the campfire and ask her to remind me. The chili came out well enough that I even ate some of the leftovers once we got home! And made over a proper stove it's even better. Here's the recipe so I'll have it handy next time.

Mom's vegetarian chili

Good thing we live in the Northeast so we don't have to worry about the authenticity of our chili. The bulgur serves to thicken the chili up a bit, and substitutes for meat in texture if not in taste.

In a stock pot, heat

1/4 cup oil

Add and saute for 10 minutes

2 or 3 onions, diced fine
3 to 6 cloves garlic, minced
a green pepper, diced

Add and cook for 2 minutes to toast

1 1/2 Tbsp chili power
1 Tbsp cumin
1/2 tsp paprika
2 tsp oregano
1/4 tsp cayenne
2 bay leaves
1/2 cup coarse bulgur

Add

3 cans kidney beans
1 28oz can tomatoes or puree
2 Tbsp soy sauce
4 cups water
3/4 tsp salt
pepper

Cook at a lively simmer for 30-40 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Serve over rice and top with grated cheddar cheese, sour cream, and scallions.

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veggie dinner 1: cauliflower curry

a bowl of cauliflower curry

Even though I've never been a vegetarian myself, I didn't grow up eating a lot of meat; thanks to my mother's healthy multi-ethnic cooking I never felt like every meal had to be anchored by a big piece of animal. Good thing, since Leah was a vegan when we first started living together. Now that everyone is trying to eat locally and ethically and sustainably and realizing how expensive meat is supposed to be, we're all looking for vegetarian main dishes that will satisfy our families; this week I hope to post a few of mine. Leading off, cauliflower curry.

Cauliflower Curry

This is the all-season version of this recipe, one you can make any time with ingredients from the grocery store. But once you have the curry base made—up to adding tomatoes and coconut milk—you can throw whatever veggies you want in there. Recently we made a curry with zucchini and green beans from the garden, and it was as tasty as ever you could wish.

In a large saute pan, heat

some oil

Add

1 large yellow onion, chopped

Cook for a while, then add

1 small jalapeno pepper, chopped (seeded if you want)
about an inch of ginger, chopped
two cloves garlic, chopped
2 Tbsp chopped fresh basil
2 Tbsp curry powder

Cook for 3 or 4 minutes, then add (deglazing the pan)

1 14oz can diced tomato (undrained)
1 5oz can coconut milk

Bring to a simmer and add

1 head cauliflower cut up into little florets
1 14oz can chick peas
1/2 c water if needed

Simmer, covered, until the cauliflower is as cooked as you want, then at some point add

frozen peas

Five minutes before serving, add

1 bunch chard or other greens

Serve over rice.

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