Friday, December 24, 2010

A Wassailing We Shall Go!

This beverage is a Christmas family tradition. My mom shared this recipe with me and I always associate this cider with our German heritage. While this mulled beverage presumingly dates back to medieval Europe, it is more associated with Old English heritage - luckily friends, I am half German and English so I can still claim this one as part of my heritage! As I gather from Wikipedia, the etymology summons the yule time as a time of new beginnings. The word itself is a contraction of the Middle English phrase wæs hæil  which translates to "good health" or "be you healthy." On top of that the verb Wassailing refers to an English tradition as well that I don't have the space to go into but is quite interesting as well. 

So if you are opting out of mulled wine this year, you will find that Wassail is a great non-alcoholic alternative. I suggest filling up your thermos and taking it along with you as you search out a quiet lake to ice skate on or porting it to your family dinner this season.

12 cups apple juice

1 cup orange juice

6 cups pineapple juice

12 oz. apricot nectar

6 cinnamon sticks

1 tsp. cloves

     Stir all ingredients in large pot.  Heat slowly till simmering.  Continue for one hour.  Remove cinnamon sticks and cloves.  Serve HOT.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Pizzette Neapolitan: where in which I ditch my pizza stone for a skillet

      Since my last pizza post, I have periodically been experimenting with dough recipes and perfecting my technique. If you search around online you'll notice that there's a lot to learn and to keep up on- as there are currently theories being tested regarding best methods and fermentation processes etc. for home pizza making. This should not be new territory if you have been involved with other types of bread making. The objective I have taken lately is to perfect the simple, to meet the bar in pizza making: the margherita pizza, the essence of Neapolitan pizza making.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Red Bean Tofu Vegan Chili

A couple years ago I developed a habit of eating Trader Joe's vegetarian Chili. It was a simple but delicious meal. I would just cook up some brown rice and overturn the can upon the heap. At that time I wasn't even that crazy about spicy food. However, it was an inexpensive meal and the beans and brown rice formed that holy grail of vegetarian protein. Ever since I began eating chili, I felt like this would be something I could easily make from scratch but I never got around to it. That is until I moved to Montreal and situated myself miles and miles away from Trader Joe's. So the search began for a great vegetarian recipe. Fortunately I didn't have to search too far. Smitten Kitchen, a blog that I periodically peruse, featured a ground beef recipe that looked great. Hollin and I thought we would give it a try. We ended up with a chili that was unbearably spicy- it was really something we couldn't eat. Now, I'll admit that neither of us are really that keen on spicy food, but I'm not sure how anyone could eat it. The upside to the adventure was that we thought this recipe nailed the flavor that we were accustomed to and striving to recreate. So we tried it once again. This time we completely cut out the chili flakes and significantly reduced the amount of chili powder. 

I also want to stress that this recipe is quite easy and doesn't take too long to make. The best part is that it yields so much chili. You can easily freeze it so you always have some on hand. Also, what is fantastic about making your own chili is the fact that you control what goes in it. You'll most likely use far less salt than canned chili. Lastly, you'll save quite a bit of money if you are used to buying cans of it. Even the inexpensive Trader Joe's Chili is more expensive than this recipe. 


Serves 6
2 large onions, chopped (about 3 cups)
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 carrots, chopped in a small dice
1-2 pounds of crumbled firm tofu (extra firm and medium would work too). It works best to run the      tofu through a food processor to achieve a ground beef consistency.
1 tablespoon ground cumin
2 tablespoons paprika
1 tablespoon crumbled dry oregano
*Dried red pepper flakes to taste, if you feel it necessary, I chose not to.
2 8-ounce cans tomato sauce or 2 cups fresh tomato sauce or tomato puree
1 1/4 cups of vegetable broth
3 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 3/4 cups or 1 19-ounce can red beans, rinsed and drained
2 green bell peppers, chopped

This recipe is adapted from Smitten Kitchen 


1. Begin by heating up the olive oil in a large pot over medium low heat. Use a pot that is 5 quarts or larger if you plan on making the full recipe.

2. Sauté chopped onions until they begin to become translucent (5-10 mins). Meanwhile mince garlic and chop carrots.

3. Add garlic and carrots and cook for about 1 min.

4. Increase heat to medium and add the tofu, chili powder, cumin, paprika and oregano.  Cook for another minute. 

5. Add the tomato sauce, broth and vinegar and simmer the chili, covered, for 20 minutes.

6. Add the red beans, bell peppers, salt and pepper to taste and simmer for an additional 10 minutes, or until the bell peppers are tender.

Serve over brown rice and with a dollop of vegan sour cream (tofutti).

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Potato Rosemary Bread

Over the past year or so, I've tried a few recipes from Peter Reinhart's book, The Bread Apprentice. It's a very useful book for learning how to bake bread. Until now, I have not made too many breads that go beyond essential ingredients. Early on it wasn't that interesting for me as I was just trying to get a handle on bringing out the rich flavors of wheat. But as my bread-making has improved, I thought it would be nice to venture a bit. Now as the aroma of roasted garlic and rosemary consume my home, it's hard to imagine not recommending this recipe to a beginner. This will make you fall in love with bread-making.

With that said, it's not the easiest or quickest way to make bread. Take a look at this no-knead recipe I posted back in September if you need a easy recipe for bread.

This recipe will require a few special preparation steps, one of which will need to be completed at least a night before you plan to bake.

One special prep that can be cut out is the preparation of Mash Potatoes if you have leftover mashed potatoes. Post-Thanksgiving is a perfect time to try this recipe as you will no doubt have leftover mash potatoes from Thanksgiving! But then again, you're family will definitely not mind if you make these pre-Thanksgiving and you bring a stack of these delicious dinner rolls to the dinner table.

The Recipe:

1 1/4 Cups (7 ounces) Biga (see below)
3 cups plus 2 tablespoons (14 ounces) Unbleached bread flour
1 1/2 teaspoons (.38 ounce) Salt
1/4 teaspoons (.03 ounce) Black Pepper 
1 1/4 teaspoons (.14 ounce) Instant Yeast
1 cup (6 ounce) Mashed Potatoes, at room temperature
1 tablespoon (.5 ounce) Olive Oil
2 tablespoons (.25 ounce) Coarsely chopped fresh rosemary
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons to 1 cup (7 to 8 ounce.) water, at room temperature
4 tablespoons (1 oz.) coarsely chopped roasted garlic (see below)

Semolina flour or cornmeal for dusting
Olive oil for brushing on top

(Recipe originally printed in Peter Reinhart's book, The Breadmaker's Apprentice)

So as you see from the recipe above you'll need to prepare a Biga, this is a pre-ferment. Do this the night before baking or up to three days before, as it will keep in the fridge.
To prepare the Biga:

Makes about 9 ounces
1 1/4 cups unbleached bread flour
1/4 teaspoon instant yeast
1/4 cup to 1/2 cup water, at room temperature

1) Stir Together Flour and Yeast
2) Add Water Slowly. Mix with a metal spoon or use a paddle on a stand mixer. Dough should form in a course ball. Adjust water and flour so that the dough is neither too stiff or sticky. It should be tacky.
3) Sprinkle flour on the counter and knead for 4 to 6 mins or use a stand mixer with a dough hook for about 4 minutes. Dough should be very soft and tacky. Add more flour if it is too sticky to work with, but try to only use enough to prevent dough from sticking terribly to your surface.  The internal temperature of the dough should be 77 to 81 degrees F.
4) Lightly oil a bowl with spray oil (vegetable or olive oil is fine; spray or non spray).  Role dough into a bowl and coat with oil in the bowl.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it sit at room temperature for 2 to 4 hours or until it nearly doubles inside.
5) Remove the dough, pressing on it gently to degass the dough. Knead it lightly to do this. Then return it to the bowl. Place bowl in the fridge, let sit at least overnight.
In the morning,
Remove biga from the fridge and cut into about 10 small pieces with a serrated knife or a pastry knife.  Let the pieces sit out covered in plastic for at least 1 hour to allow them to de-chill.


Get roasting some garlic.

You can do this by taking a head of garlic and removing the skin to expose the cloves, keep the skin covering the individual cloves.  Then cut about 1/4 to 1/2 inch of the ends of the cloves off, opposite of the end that holds the cloves attached. You will need about to heads of garlic for this recipe.
Put the head, cut end up, into a small oven proof container, I use a crème brûleé ramekin. Then drizzle with olive oil making sure to coat cloves entirely. Then put a cover or tin foil over the top.
Bake in oven at 400 degrees F for 30 to 40 minutes.
Garlic, Roasted.

Set the garlic aside to let cool. When it has cooled, you can squeeze or carefully pull out the garlic from the skin.

Now it's time to make mashed potatoes unless you are using leftovers. If you are using leftovers, measure out 1 cup and let it come to room temperature.

The Bread Dough
1) Stir together flour, salt, black pepper, and yeast into a 4 -quart mixing bowl (or in the bowl of a stand mixer) After you have combined these dry ingredients add the biga pieces, mashed potatoes, oil, rosemary, and 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons of water. Continue to stir together or if using a stand mixer, put the dough hook on and begin mixing. Add flour if dough seems too sticky.

2) Sprinkle flour on counter to knead the dough by hand or continue mixing with the electric mixer on medium speed with the dough hook. Knead for approximately 10 mins or about 6 mins by machine. Again dough should not be terribly sticky but rather tacky and very supple.

3) Flatten dough out and sprinkle the garlic into the dough, folding it in. Continue to knead by hand a couple times so that the garlic is well-distributed. You may need to add more flour as the garlic will likely add more moisture to the bread.

4) Roll dough in a oiled bowl to coat it with oil.  Cover with plastic wrap and let it ferment at room temperature for about 2 hours. If your room temperature is on the warmer side expect the dough to double in size closer to the 1 hour mark.

5) Once dough has doubled in size remove it carefully from the bowl, divide it into 2 pieces. With these two pieces I made both rolls and a round loaf, but feel free to make all rolls or 2 loaves.  Either is great.

6) Shape Dough: if you are new to bread making I suggest looking into shaping techniques online. I recommend making this loaf into a Boule, the round loaf. Once shaped, place the boule seem side down onto a baking sheet either using parchment paper, or by first heavily coating the pan with cornmeal or semolina flour. If possible use a proofing basket (a basket lined with a floured dish towel) This will help the bread maintain its shape during this proofing stage.  Cover the dough with a towel or plastic wrap.

Shaping rolls are a little easier. You can place them on a parchment paper or directly on a baking sheet using cornmeal on the bottom. Cover with plastic wrap and let the rolls proof.

Feel free to experiment with shaping. For my rolls, I placed the rolls close together so that when they rose they would join at the edges and create a pull-apart set.

This is now a good time to pre-heat your oven to 400 degrees.

7) After dough has nearly doubled in size at room temperature, this should take 1 to 2 hours. Uncover the dough and place in the oven.

If your baking rolls: these will take about 20 mins. Rotate the rolls half-way through so they brown evenly.

If you are baking a loaf: this will take about 40 mins. Rotate after 20 mins.

Bread will be done when they reach a rich golden brown and register at least 195 degrees F internal temperature.

They should feel light and make a hollow sound if you thump them on the bottom.

8) After baking allow bread to cool on a rack for at least 1 hour before cutting or trying. You should allow the rolls to cool for about 20 minutes.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Pain du Dansk : Kneedless bread made in a Dansk pot.

Last Labor Day I shared with you a non-laborious crockpot lentil recipe. This year, it's time for another no labor demanding recipe. I am quite slow on jumping on the No-Knead bandwagon that was instigated by Jim Lahey. I have made bread previously using the techniques developed by Peter Reinhart. Peter's book, Breadmaker's Apprentice is a great book and I highly recommend it for anyone interested in breadmaking. Both Lahey and Reinhart use a long fermentation method to let the flavors in the flour really develop. Although it requires that you let the dough sit for at least 12 hours, the time span required to make the bread is worth it. Breadmaking is for the patient chef. 

Staub Ovenware Piece / Courtesy of
Lahey's contributions to breadmaking is the abandonment of the notion that dough needs to be kneaded. He simply mixes flour, salt, yeast and water and lets chemistry do the rest. Lahey's second contribution is the use of a "fake oven" or fake hearth or really any pot that has a lid and can withstand 500 degree temperatures. Most recommended is a dutch/french oven like a Le Creuset or my favorite: Staub. But Pyrex will also work as will a ceramic type oven. The loaf I baked today was made in a vintage Dansk pot. We bought this large enameled pot because it is fairly heavy and a great deal less expensive then our smaller Le Creuset or Staub. 

Without further or do here is the much talked about Jim Lahey's No Knead Bread recipe as adapted by the NYTimes :

Time: About 1½ hours plus 14 to 20 hours’ rising

3 cups all-purpose or bread flour, more for dusting
¼ teaspoon instant yeast
1¼ teaspoons salt
Cornmeal or wheat bran as needed.

1. In a large bowl combine flour, yeast and salt. Add 1 5/8 cups water, and stir until blended; dough will be shaggy and sticky. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rest at least 12 hours, preferably about 18, at warm room temperature, about 70 degrees.

2. Dough is ready when its surface is dotted with bubbles. Lightly flour a work surface and place dough on it; sprinkle it with a little more flour and fold it over on itself once or twice. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest about 15 minutes.

3. Using just enough flour to keep dough from sticking to work surface or to your fingers, gently and quickly shape dough into a ball. Generously coat a cotton towel (not terry cloth) with flour, wheat bran or cornmeal; put dough seam side down on towel and dust with more flour, bran or cornmeal. Cover with another cotton towel and let rise for about 2 hours. When it is ready, dough will be more than double in size and will not readily spring back when poked with a finger.

4. At least a half-hour before dough is ready, heat oven to 450 degrees. Put a 6- to 8-quart heavy covered pot (cast iron, enamel, Pyrex or ceramic) in oven as it heats. When dough is ready, carefully remove pot from oven. Slide your hand under towel and turn dough over into pot, seam side up; it may look like a mess, but that is O.K. Shake pan once or twice if dough is unevenly distributed; it will straighten out as it bakes. Cover with lid and bake 30 minutes, then remove lid and bake another 15 to 30 minutes, until loaf is beautifully browned. Cool on a rack.

Yield: One 1½-pound loaf.

Recipe above is directly quoted from the New York Times and can be found here.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Southwestern Quinoa

I often find myself stuck in a rut with quinoa. Most of the dishes I have prepared with it are too similar to my standard and most simplest quinoa dish.  And while this southwestern variation still does not break out of the my typical usage of bell peppers and onions, the difference lies in the base of this dish: black beans and some spice. Lately I have been interested in trying to incorporate all food groups in one dish, and I think this one about does it.

Remember, the beans and quinoa are the base for just about anything you have lying around in your fridge and pantry. Here's my mix:


2 Cups of Vegtable Broth or Plain Water
1 Cup of Quinoa

1 large tomatoe, quartered
1 Carrot
1/2 Red Onion
1-2 Red or Yellow Bell Peppers (an assortment of colors is nice)
1 bay leaf
Juice of 1/2 a lime.
1 Can of Black Beans, liquid drained
1 Cup or so of finely chopped spinach. (I used frozen chopped spinach)
Garlic (as little or as much as you would like)
1 Sprinkle of Red Pepper Flakes
1/2 Tablespoon of Cayenne Powder
1/2 cup (or so) of Olive Oil
1 Cup of Water
1 Dash of Salt

To Make Quinoa:

In a medium pot, bring broth to boil. Add quinoa, return to boil - then reduce to simmer. Simmer for about 10 minutes or until liquid is fully absorbed.

Meanwhile Prepare the Veggies

First get 1 cup of water heated in a medium saucepan add: Bay Leaf, Cayenne, Red Pepper Flakes, Tomatoes, Bell Peppers and Carrots until they are tender.

Put pan on medium to high heat.

By this time the water should be soon evaporated - remove bay leaf at this time and then add olive oil. Once olive oil heats up, add onions garlic, spinach, and salt. Sauté vegetables until onions become tender.

Stir in Black Beans. Add lime juice. Let beans heat and mingle with other flavors.

Serve vegetables upon a bed of quinoa. 

You may also consider adding cheese on top (cheddar or mozzarella) or stir in yogurt if dish is too spicy.

Also optional and recommended is a few squeezes of mustard, preferably a whole grain mustard.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Ruby Rice

     Today I was watching Chef at Home with Michael Smith, he's a Canadian Chef that encourages experimentation without a recipe in the kitchen. The quick editing and constantly moving camera can be at times dizzying to watch but the principles of simple cooking are presented well. As a vegetarian, lentils are an important food; something that I always bring up when people ask about protein in a vegetarian diet. One way to enhance the healthfulness of a legume is to add in a complex carbohydrate such as brown rice into the mix. Of course this is simply a base for a variety of flavors- the rice and lentils by themselves aren't particularly outstanding. Eating for the Rest of Us is dedicated to providing simple recipes, recipes that have flavor but attempt to provide flavor by nutritious ingredients. However, often my first inclination when approaching ingredients like rice and lentils, is to add a lot of other ingredients to enhance flavor. But this often will compromise the benefits native to these ingredients. The simplicity of Michael's recipe is key. By using dried cranberries, Michael significantly frills up the dish to completion.

1/2 cup of brown (or any type of) lentils
1/2 cup of brown rice
About 1 cup of dried cranberries
2 cups of water
A sprinkle or two of Salt & Pepper
1 Bay Leaf

(rince/drain rice and lentils)

1. Combine all ingredients in small to medium size pot. Bring to boil then turn down the heat to medium low and let simmer for about 30 mins with the pot covered or until lentils are tender and all the water is absorbed.

2.  Serve

Monday, August 9, 2010

Pear Sorbet

      If you need to take a break from the heat this summer you should set aside an afternoon to make this pear sorbet with your friends. Hollin and I, along with our friend Courtney, stepped into a café on Rue Saint Denis the other day after noticing its patrons spooning some wonderful looking sorbet and gelato.  We were excited to see that they offered a pear sorbet. Before I knew it, Hollin sat down next to me with a cup of the sorbet poire. I couldn't help but steal about half of it. On our walk back home, we stopped into our neighborhood fruiterie and bought a few pears. Having made a mango sorbet the previous weekend, I was eager to essentially use the same recipe to mimic what we tasted at the café.
    If you search for pear sorbet recipes you will likely find a variety of takes on it. Most of the differences that appear are a result of the type of extra liquid used in the recipe. Martha Stewart, for example, recommends using red wine or cranberry juice. We came across a bottle of pear nector at the grocery store so we went ahead and used  that for added liquid. With the mango sorbet we tried, adding water or any other liquid beside lime juice wasn't really necessary, however it seems that most pear recipes will suggest using water and/or another liquid.

The recipe below is adapted from Martha Stewart's version titled "Red-Wine and Pear Sorbet"


2 cups of peeled and diced pear (about 4 small pears)
1 cup pear nector
1 1/4 cups water
2 Tablespoons Lemon Juice
1/4 cup of sugar
1 pinch of salt

Begin by preparing a medium cooking pot by adding water and sugar and allowing mixture come to a boil.

Meanwhile prepare pears - cube the pears but because this mixture will be later puréed there is no need to spend a lot of time here getting it to look good.

Add pears to boiling sugar water and then reduce heat to a simmer. Allow pears to cook until they are tender... around 5-10 minutes.

When pears are tender stir in lemon juice and add a pinch of salt. Remove from heat and let mixture come to room temperature. (I cooled my down by putting into the fridge)

Use a blender (or perhaps a food processor might work) to purée the mixture.

If you have an icecream machine use it by simply pouring in purée.

If you do not have an ice-cream maker you can let the mixture completely freeze in a shallow container then roughly break it up into chunks before making it into a purée in a blender.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Cranberry Carrot Applesauce

The wife and myself have been settling into our new home in Montréal. It's been no small task. The kitchen was by large the most difficult to unpack and organize. Needless to say, it's been a while since I've had a hand in the kitchen. In the spirit of quick and easy foods, I thought I would share some applesauce that I made today. I fell well short of target in my efforts to mimic the housemade applesauce at Portland's Deli restaurant Kenny & Zuke's. Their applesauce is amazing hearty and delicious. Once when I was younger, I declared applesauce as my favorite food. Curiously today was the first time I had attempted to make it. Friends, this is the easiest thing I think there is to make. And it's cheap! By the way, the price of groceries in Montréal will challenge me further to find easy and inexpensive recipes of which I will continue to post. Even the most basic of ingredients such as flour are rather expensive here. So we'll see if I continue to bake as much as I hope.


4 Apples (I hear it's best to use Granny Smith or another cooking type of apple)
1 cup (or so) of water
1 handful of baby carrots (Steamed)
2 handfuls of craisins.  (this is completely an option, but it was an afterthought of mine that proved to be pretty tasty. My sauce needed some tart)
2 tablespoons of sugar (evaporated cane suger was good)
2 tablespoons of cinnamon.

1. Cut up apples into chunks, discarding the core.
2. Place in Medium to Large Skillet. Pour water so the apple chunks are nearly covered. 
3. Cook on medium until apples are tender.
4. Add cinnamon. Feel free to add more or less. I like to get a good coverage of cinnamon. 

5. In a Blender, add carrots, craisins and some water.

6. When apples are tender, pour water/apples into the blender and pulse to desired consistency.
7. Refrigerize and eat.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Tahini Quinoa Salad

      I'm always on the look out for recipes that involve quinoa. This small grain is rather neutral and is packed full of protein. Good for the vegetarian. I came across this recipe in Sophie Dahl's new book, Miss Dahl's Voluptuous  Delights: recipes for every season, mood, and appetite. At first glance it may look like a repeat of my previously posted quinoa recipe, Les quinoa avec les legumes. And while it does contain some of the same ingredients, the flavor is very different thanks to the tahini dressing. This recipe is relatively inexpensive also. Tahini will be the most expensive ingredient and could be hard to find. I found mine next to the peanut butter in the nutrition area of the grocery market.

Serves 2

For the Dressing:
1/4 Cup Olive Oil
Juice of One Lemon
2 Tablespoons of Soy Sauce
2 Tablespoons of Tahini (sesame paste)
1/2 clove garlic, peeled & chopped (or crushed garlic from the jar)
Honey (to taste and optional)

2 Cups vegetable broth
1 Cup Quinoa
1/2 Peeled Cucumber, chopped
2 Scallions, finely chopped
1 Plum Tomato, finely chopped
1 Red Bell Pepper, de-seeded & chopped
Fresh mint leaves to garnish (optional)


1. Bring Vegetable broth to a boil, add quinoa and cover and let simmer 10-15 mins. Or until broth is absorbed.
2. Meanwhile blend dressing ingredients until smooth.
3. Prepare salad ingredients.
4. When quinoa is finished, mix in salad ingredients. 
5. Top with dressing upon serving.

It may be preferred to let the quinoa come fully to at least room temperature before serving. Feel free to serve it right from the refrigerator as well. 

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Spinach & Cheese Ravioli

Nothing fancy here, just trying to save a dollar or two by making my own ravioli. While ravioli is not the healthiest dish one can eat, if you are going to indulge you should make it yourself. This way, you can control how much of each ingredient you use. When planning on what to fill these little guys with I immediately started to think of all the fancy ravioli I've had. Limiting the filling to ricotta cheese and spinach seemed boring - but like most things, simple does not have to mean bland. These turned out delicious as well as easy to make. The only challenge I faced was trying to get the dough thin enough. In the end, it was a little thick for my taste. To really perfect ravioli it is recommended to buy a pasta maker which will press the dough into a thin strip....But really, I think the same results can be achieved with a rolling pin.

Next time I would love to add in some whole wheat flour for some extra flavor and healthy.

First things first, the dough:

I borrowed this recipe for the dough (the simplest I could find),1635,130160-227204,00.html

Dough Ingredients:

2 cups flour
2 large eggs, whole
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp. sea salt
3 tablespoons water


Something to cut out Raviolis...Anything will do. 
Mixer (optional)
Rolling Pin

1.  In the mixer throw in 2 cups of flour (all-purpose white, unbleached) 2 eggs, oil, salt, and water... Everything listed above in together. 

2.  Mix the dough (I used a dough hook) mix for a few minutes until everything looks well combined. As always with dough, add in a little flour if things look too wet or add some water if too dry and flaky. 

3.  Plop your dough onto some parchment paper, lightly floured work surface, or dough mat.  Cover with a bowl or plastic wrap and let relax for 20 mins.

The Filling:

1 Cup of Ricotta Cheese
1/2 - 3/4 Cup of Spinach

4.  Meanwhile, chop up some spinach. A food processor is recommended for this, but you could  use a knife and chop small shreds.  

5. Stir the chopped spinach into the ricotta. Adding Salt and Pepper to taste.

- Note....My measurements for the ratio are very approximate. If you would like more spinach to ricotta ratio go for it! 

6. Going back to the dough, start will a ball and begin rolling out. Try to get the dough as thin as you can without creating holes. 

If dough is sticking to pin add some flour (I used semolina flour - it's great for dusting)

7. Now cut out circles, squares or what have-yous. It doesn't matter. We used circular cookie cutters.

8. Spoon out about a half a teaspoon or so of filling and then stack a cut dough piece and pinch off the edges to seal in the filling. 

9. Repeat until you've finished the dough.

10. Bring water to a boil and carefully drop in ravioli and cook for about 4-6 mins.

This dough contains cheese and eggs so if you aren't using the ravioli right away refrigerate or freeze.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Early Spring Vegan Oatmeal Craisin Cookies

The wife was extra sweet this year and bought me a canoe full of candy so we could welcome St. Valentine's Day. It was terribly saddening as I came down with a nasty cold and had to avoid lots of the candy she had bought. As I tried to combat my yearning for chocolate covered everything (raisins, sunflower seeds, pomegranate seeds, and more) I turned to a less guilty treat. Hollin baked these up. They are superb and vegan. They are extra moist and great right out of the oven when the outside still has a little crunch. Pair with your favorite tea and you are ready to welcome in some early spring weather.

 1 1/2 Mashed Bananas
1/2 Cup of Applesauce
2 tsp. Vanilla Extract
1/2 Cup of Brown Sugar
1 Cup of Unbleached All Purpose Flour
1 1/2 tsp. Baking Powder
1 Dash of Salt
1 Dash Nutmeg / 1 tsp. Cinnamon
1 Cup Dried Cranberries or Raisons
3/4 Cup of Oatmeal

1. Mix Bananas, Applesauce, Vanilla, and Brown Sugar
2. Mix in Flour, Baking Powder, Salt, Nutmeg/Cinnamon, Raisons and Oatmeal (the remaining ingredients).
3. Spoon out balls of cookie dough onto a greased cookie sheet or bake mat. Slightly flatten (cookies will not spread out as much as conventional cookies, so slightly flattening will make them less round)
4. Bake at 350 degrees F. for 20 - 30 minutes.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Multi-Grain Bread

Bread-making may conjure up plenty of unpleasant thoughts for some people. The vulnerability of yeast, the stickiness of dough, the strenuous task of kneading are some of the things that may come to mind.  And unlike most baked goods and cuisine, the French word for bread, 'pain', does not help the reputation of bread-making.  I'm sometimes deterred from what I feel will be a laborious process. In the past several months I have made bread on occasion in a bread machine after struggling with sprouted grain bread. With a bread machine there is absolutely no excuse to not make homemade bread.

I'm not sure if it has been the recipes that I've tried but I haven't been all that impressed with my bread-machine bread. Crust seems to be  too thick and the notch from the mixing blades at the bottom of the loaf has been annoying.

After making artisan type bread in the past, I was eager to try a basic bread-pan style loaf. Something I could actually use for a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. So after reading a simple recipe in Martha Stewart's magazine I got to work crafting a multi-grain loaf. The results are quite good. And really, a not-so-painful experience it was.

Ingredients, what you'll need. 

The Flours:
3 cups of whole wheat flour
1 cup of rye
3 cups of all purpose flour (white unbleached, all that good stuff)

The Grains:
1/3 cup bulgar
1/2 cup of rolled oats
1/4 cup of raw sunflower seeds (shelled)
1/4 cup of flax seeds (whole or processed)

1/2 cup warm water (110 degrees) FOR YEAST
1/2 cup warm water for Bulgur
1 1/2 cup warm water for mix

Other things that you'll need:
1 tablespoon plus 1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast (two 1/4-ounce envelopes)
3 tablespoons honey
2 teaspoons honey FOR YEAST
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 tablespoons coarse salt (sea salt please)

Spray olive oil

Thermometer (digital is the way to go here)
4 1/2 x 8 1/2 inch loaf pan. 
Plastic wrap

1. Prepare the bulgar by letting it soak and absorb water for 20 mins.

Get the yeast going:

1. Sprinkle yeast over 1/2 cup of warm water (watch the temperature with the thermometer you want to have water at 110 degrees F or whatever your yeast package recommends)

2. Add honey (2 teaspoons)

3. Whisk until all the yeast has dissolved. Then let sit for about 5 minutes. It should froth like crazy.

The mixing bowl:

1. Add yeast mixture
2. Add melted butter
3. Add 1 1/2 cup of remaining water.
4. Add 3 tablespoons of honey.

In another bowl:

1. Combine all flours.
2. Combine Salt
3. Dry mix thoroughly

Back to the mixing bowl:

1. Add two cups of flour/salt mix to the Yeast/honey/butter mix.

2. Attach dough hook and mix with stand mixer until smooth.

3. Add the remainder of the flour mix and the grains one cup at a time. Slowly over several minutes combine all ingredients while mixer is running.

4. Mix on low until dough comes away from the sides of the bowl and forms a ragged and slightly sticky ball.

5. Knead dough on a floured surface (or baking mat) for 5 or so minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic but still slightly tacky.

6. Spray or apply a thin layer of butter to the mixing bowl or another large bowl.

7. Work the dough into a ball and transfer to the large bowl.

8. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for about 1 hour in a warm place. The dough should double in volume.  (And should not spring back when poked)

9.  Transfer dough back to work surface and punch down dough and divide in two (using a sharp knife to do this works best)

10. Grab half of the dough and work into a rectangle (nearly sqaure) about 8 1/2 inches in length.

11. Fold ends toward the center, slightly overlapping eachother.

12. Pinch together the seam.

13. Place dough seam down in the oiled/buttered loaf pan.

14. Sprinkle with flour and cover pan with plastic wrap. Set in warm place to rise, about 45 minutes or until dough is about 1 inch above the top of the pan.

15. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. And wait for dough to rise.

16. Reduce heat to 400 degrees. Remove plastic then bake bread. for about 45 mins or until tops are golden brown. Rotating pan after 20 mins.

17. Transfer to wire racks, Let cool slightly then turn out loafs and let them completely cool before slicing.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

African Peanut Stew

      I eat peanut butter nearly every day on toast, however, I have very rarely extended the use of peanut butter in main dishes especially stew. And after trying to find a good curry recipe, I'm very pleased to find this recipe for African Peanut Stew. This recipe is very alluring thanks to its nutritionally packed ingredients.

If you're like me and have been wanting to get more greens into your diet- this is a simple way.

Please note that this recipe yields a rather large quantity. You may cut recipe in half- or grab a large pot! It is reccommended to use a dutch oven, but our 2.5 Qt. Staub couldn't handle all of it. So go for something that is around 5 quarts.

Serves 6
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 1/2 cups onion, chopped
1 cup carrot, chopped
2 tablespoon garlic, minced (or a tablespoon or two of crushed garlic works fine)
2 tablespoons ginger, peeled and minced (optional if your market doesn't have it (like mine didn't))
1 tablespoon curry powder (I add an extra teaspoon of cumin as well)
1 (14-ounce) can low sodium diced tomatoes with juice
4 cups reduced-sodium vegetable broth
1 large sweet potato, peeled and cubed
1 (15 ounce) can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained and rinsed
1/4 cup crunchy natural peanut butter, organic preferred
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
1 bunch of kale, chopped (about 5 cups)
*hot red pepper flakes or freshly ground pepper to taste

1. Heat up olive oil in dutch oven over medium heat. When oil is hot, toss in the onions and carrots and sauté until they are soft. This will most likely be at least 5 minutes. You may choose to cook the onions longer to achieve a caramelized state.

2. Add garlic and curry powder and cumin (if using). Sauté some more, about 1 minute.

3. Add full can of tomatoes (including juice) Let eveything cook a bit so the liquid is reduced. (2-3 min)

4. Add broth and sweet potatoes. Bring to a boil. Then reduce heat to simmer for about 8 mins.

5. Add garbanzo beans and peanut butter. Stir.

6. Add cilantro and Kale, cook until the kale is wilted. (about 2 mins).


thank you, Katie's Healthy Bites at for this recipe. 

Sunday, January 10, 2010

pizza basique: a friendly pie

I've been trying to find a good pizza dough recipe for a while. I recently developed a honey-wheat dough recipe that was completely pleasing but just last night I opened up the family recipe box and it was bare. My fault for writing the recipe on a scraggly piece of paper. I'm sure it got tossed, unfortunate that. But there is always good that comes from those types of things. I was forced then to try a new recipe. Previously I had come across a Napoletana dough recipe by Peter Reinhart. The specific instructions looked daunting but after taking another look and testing the recipe last night, I can still say that pizza is one of the easiest bread-making one can do.

Sticking with my general philosophy that a good recipe should be basic and healthy- this recipe is definitely basic and depending on how you top your pizza, can be fairly healthy. One day I'll post a recipe for the honey-wheat dough; a more nutritious alternative to this all-purpose flour pizza.

**Remember to plan this meal ahead, dough must rest overnight in refrigerator*** 

So here it is, Peter Reinhart's Napoletana Pizza Dough:

4 1/2 cups (20.25 ounces) unbleached high-gluten, bread, or all-purpose flour, chilled
1 3/4 (.44 ounce) teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon (.11 ounce) instant yeast
1/4 cup (2 ounces) olive oil (optional)
1 3/4 cups (14 ounces) water, ice cold (40°F)
Semolina flour OR cornmeal for dusting

I really recommend that you use a scale to measure out the ingredients if you have one.  It's always a great deal more accurate and will save you time when you're mixing your dough and trying to figure out if you should add more water or flour. This is not to say that you won't ever have to adjust-but it will get you to a closer point.

The chilled water and flour thing was what discouraged me from using this recipe...but go with it..It's not difficult and is really worth it.

1. Combine flour, yeast, cold water, oil, salt in large mixing bowl. Use a cold metal spoon to stir ingredients together or jump to your standing mixer and attach the paddle. If using a spoon, repeatedly dip it into cold water (to prevent stickage) and use it like a dough hook, vigorously mixing the dough. (about 5-7 mins when everything is mixed together well and smooth). If using the standing mixer (I reccommend this) attach the dough hook when dough begins to become more formed and hook for about 5 mins. The dough should pull away from the sides of the bowl but remain somewhat stuck to the bottom of the bowl. If dough sticks to the side add a pinch or two of flour at a time until the dough dries up a bit. If the dough is completely adhered to the bottom of the bowl, add a few drops of water. Be sure to do these adjustments in very small increments.
Dough should be springy, elastic, and sticky but not tacky and should be around 50-55 degrees F.

2. Sprinkle flour on your work area and cut the dough into 6 equal parts.  Dip each ball into flour so it will not stick to your hands and form a ball. Mist a plastic bag or put on a tray on top of plastic wrap or parchment paper and mist with spray oil. Multiple methods can be used to store this dough in your fridge. Just make sure it has some room to expand, well oiled (to prevent sticking) and sealed off enough so that the oil will not dry out.

3. Place in refrigerator overnight or up to 3 days to rest. Thoughts of this becoming a type of Easter dish are currently coming to mind.

Day of Baking--

1. Pull out a dough ball and flatten it on a flour dusted and spray oiled surface and flatten into a 1/2 inch disk. (about 5 inch diameter) Let this rest on the counter top for 2 hours covered loosely with plastic wrap.

2.  Meanwhile...prepare your  toppings, and heat up your oven. Please use a pizza've done this much work preparing the dough, you owe it to yourself. Put the stone in the oven and allow everything to heat up for at about 45 mins before putting the pizza in. Oven should be 450F at minimum and 800F maximum. The hotter the better, but 450F works fine.

3. After dough has rested, continue to flatten dough. Now, I'm not really an expert on tossing dough...I've tried but it is really difficult. Give it a try, but if things don't work out try to get an even thickness by using a rolling pin. This pizza dough should be rolled out pretty then. (We are going for a thin crispy crust) I'd say like a 1/4th of an inch. Don't worry about forming a crust (unless you're into that).

Topping the pie:

1. If your pizza is rolled out thick you may want to consider putting some holes into the dough with a fork though out the entire pie. I tend to do this on any thickness but I'm not sure if it really matters.

2. Load pizza on pizza peel (the wood paddle thing) or just use the back of a pan. Regardless, use semolina flour (preferable) or cornmeal so that your pizza will roll easily off the delivery device onto the stone.

3. Spread some olive oil about on the pizza..This acts as a barrier for your sauce and other toppings so they won't sog out the dough.

Recommended Toppings:

1.  Thin layer of tomato sauce
2.  Small handful of black olives (well drained)
3.  12 or so pieces of artichoke hearts

4.  Fresh thinly sliced tomatoes.
5. Paper thin sliced zucchini
6. (cheese: mozerella / Parmesan regiano) non-vegan

4. Lay the toppings down in approximately this order mentioned above. Add seasoning: basil, garlic, oregano, chili flakes...anything goes.

5. Slip the pizza into your oven.

At 450F the pizza will probably be done in about 10-12 minutes. Just keep an eye on your toppings...Especially if you are using cheese. It might burn before the crust even gets dark. This dough is really white, so keep in mind it might not even really look done when it really is.

6. Remove pizza, allow to cool, enjoy.

Below is the cheese variant: