Friday, July 29, 2011

mushroom vegetable stir fry

Cooking for cancer is challenging. Tastes change: things are too sweet, the wrong texture. Foods that were once loved are no longer appetizing. While many of my attempts have missed the mark, this one hit it: consumable and (bonus) nutrient-rich. The sauce is mellow and earthy in flavor, thinner than a typical stir fry. On the second night, I added additional mushroom stock and we enjoyed it as an asian soup.

Mushroom Vegetable Stir Fry
Serves 4

Brothy sauce:
1 c. mushroom stock
3 Tbsp. tamari or soy sauce
2 Tbsp. orange juice
1 Tbsp. rice vinegar
1 Tbsp. honey
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp. ginger, peeled and minced
1 tsp. sesame oil

Stir fry:
6 oz. soba noodles
2 Tbsp. refined coconut oil
2 carrots, sliced on the diagonal
2 stalks of celery, sliced on the diagonal
4 baby bok choy, diced, stalks and leaves separated
4 green onions, chopped, white and green parts separated
2 handfuls snow peas, trimmed
2 handfuls mushrooms, quartered

Mix sauce ingredients in a small bowl. Set aside.

Cook soba noodles according to directions. Drain and run under cold water. Set aside.

Heat coconut oil in a wok over medium-high heat. Add carrots, celery, whites of bok choy, whites of onion, and snow peas. Stir fry for about 5 minutes, until carrots begin to become tender.

Add mushrooms and bok choy greens. Continue to stir fry until greens begin to wilt and veggies are crisp-tender.

Add sauce to veggies. Cook and stir two minutes. Add noodles and cook until heated through.

Serve individual servings in a big bowl; ladle some brothy sauce over the top.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

favorite summer veggie recipe collection

It's summer. Gardens and farmers' markets are entering full swing. Sounds like the perfect time to start collecting some stellar summer veggie recipes. That's where I need your help:

If you have a blog (or the recipe is online and can be linked to), use the button at the bottom of this post to submit your recipe to the collection. For Name, please put the name of the recipe.  For URL, input the link to the recipe (not the link to your general blog). Please include a link back to this post/blog from yours.

If you don't have a blog, don't fret: leave me a comment with your recipe.

I've input a few of my personal favorites to get us started. No gimmicks, no contests, my aim is simply to amass a nice collection of summer veggie recipes for all to enjoy. Submit as many recipes as you want between now and the end of July.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

petite peanut butter cookies

Nothing tricky*, just plain, delicious peanut butter cookies. Making them seemed like a good thing to do on a Sunday afternoon. It was. 
*Ok, full disclosure: there was one minor attempt at a sort of trick: I used maple syrup in place of what would normally be white sugar in a peanut butter cookie recipe. You wouldn't know it in the resulting cookies, which taste just like a peanut butter cookie should. So maybe that was a little tricky then?

I wanted to make them small. While they did turn out smaller than the typical peanut butter cookie, I think I could have gone even smaller. My mother and I established that my cookies were, on average, bigger than a silver dollar (we checked: my mom has a collection of them from her Grandpa Jerry - one is from 1881!) but smaller than a puck (no puck on hand for comparison). 

Interested in more sweet treats? Check out the Sweets for a Saturday competition going on at Sweet as Sugar Cookies for more sweet recipes.

Petite Peanut Butter Cookies
Makes 3-4 dozen cookies (depending on size)

1/2 c. natural peanut butter (it's natural if the only ingredient is peanuts)
1/2 c. unsalted butter, softened
1/2 c. maple syrup
1/2 c. brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 c. flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
A little more flour for fork-dipping

Cream together peanut butter, butter, maple syrup, and sugar. Add egg and vanilla and mix well. Add flour, baking soda, and salt. Stir until well incorporated. Refrigerate for 90 minutes.

Roll one inch balls with chilled dough, placing two inches apart on cookie sheet. Put a bit of flour in a shallow dish: dip your fork in it between criss crossing on the cookies to keep it from sticking.

Bake in 350 degree oven for about 12 minutes, until golden brown.

One year ago: grilled artichokes

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

ottolenghi soba noodles with eggplant and mango

Last year, I had the distinct pleasure of eating at Ottolenghi in the Islington neighborhood of northern London (see post): it was one of the best (perhaps the best?) meals of my life. Today, I had the distinct pleasure of opening up the front door at my mom's house to find an unexpected box from Amazon. Inside: Yotam Ottolenghi's latest cookbook, Plenty.

Plenty might be the most beautiful cookbook that there ever was. My first impression out of the box was visual: a delicious cover photo (eggplant with buttermilk sauce). Second impression: tactile. It's a book you want to pet, with its velvety matte finish. The cover is thick and a little springy (reminiscent of a learn-to-read children's book, in a good way), giving it a bit of heft without rendering it tome-like. And then there are the recipes. Oh, the recipes.

"Vibrant vegetable recipes" is the book's subtitle. This cookbook was written for me, it seems, with veggies playing starring roles in dishes like sweet potatoes with lemongrass, leek fritters, crusted pumpkin wedges with sour cream, broccoli and gorgonzola pie, caramelized fennel and goat cheese, and so many more incredible sounding combinations.

I had been thinking about some sort of cold soba noodle salad for dinner before the book arrived, so the first thing I did was to scan for soba recipes. There were two to choose from: soba noodles with wakame and soba noodles with eggplant and mango. I went with the latter.

The dish was as pleasing as the cookbook. Visually, it was a stunning combination of colors: sunny yellow mango with browned eggplant offset by the cilantro and basil greens with specks of red pepper and purple onion. The texture was appealing: silky, saucy noodles, crispy fried eggplant with a soft interior, toothsome mango. The flavor profile was of simple ingredients melding into complex: sweet mango, earthy eggplant, bright and tangy lime dressing, a bit of spice from the pepper and kick from the garlic and onion. The flavor is sure to be even better tomorrow after the components have a chance to further meld in the fridge overnight. It was a hit all around: Mickey and Mom agreed that this should be made again in the future. We're already looking forward to leftovers tomorrow.

Photo curtesy Mickey Nussbaumer.

Soba Noodles with Eggplant and Mango
Serves 6

1/2 c. rice vinegar
3 Tbsp. sugar (I substituted agave)
1/2 tsp. salt
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1/2 fresh red chile, finely chopped
1 tsp. toasted sesame oil
grated zest and juice of 1 lime
1 c. sunflower oil
2 eggplants, cut into 3/4 inch dice
8 oz. soba noodles
1 large ripe mango, cut into 3/4 inch dice
1 2/3 c. basil leaves, chopped
2 1/2 c. cilantro leaves, chooped
1/2 red onion, very thinly sliced

Gently warm vinegar, sugar, and salt for up to 1 minute, just until the sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and add garlic, chile, and sesame oil. Allow to cool. Add lime zest and juice.

Heat sunflower oil in a large pan and shallow-fry the eggplant in three or four batches. Once golden brown remove to a colander, sprinkle liberally with salt and leave in sink to drain.

Cook noodles in plenty of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until tender but still al dente. Drain and rinse well under cold water. Shake off as much of the excess water as possible, then leave to dry on a dish towel.

In a mixing bowl, toss the noodles with the dressing, mango, eggplant, half the herbs and the onion. You can now leave this aside for 1 to 2 hours. When ready to serve, add the rest of the herbs and mix well, then pile on a plate or in a bowl.

Two years ago: stuffed patty-pan squash

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

summer scones

Yesterday, I picked a large bowl full of the most beautiful ripe red strawberries from my mother's garden. It was the fourth of July: a gorgeous summer day that we spent mostly relaxing in the sunshine, the pleasant sounds of chirping birds and happy children playing, the occasional firecracker going off in the background.

My mom had mentioned a scone recipe in one of her mother's books. Once I'd had enough sunshine for the day, I went inside and pulled the black binder labeled "Breads, Rolls, Biscuits, Cakes, Cookies, Pies, Desserts" off the kitchen cupboard shelf. The binder is one of three that is filled with my grandmother's typewriter-typed recipes. I read the other recipes as I turned the pages in search of scones. A couple in particular caught my eye: "special" french bread involves topping a halved loaf of french bread with chopped raw bacon (everything is better with bacon), onion, and cheese; the recipe for dill bread includes 2 cups of warmed cottage cheese (odd), which my mom says is delicious.

Ok, back to the scones. It wasn't clear from the recipe what exactly to do with the butter, so I melted it. This left my dough perhaps looser than intended, so I added a bit more flour (reflected in the recipe below) and decided to drop the dough by rounded tablespoons onto the baking sheets, vs. pat it out and cut it as advised in the recipe. The resulting scones were perfect: a crisp exterior that gave way to a soft, buttery center (best enjoyed warm!). We enjoyed the scones with the fresh strawberries, a scoop of vanilla ice cream, and a bit of whipped cream.

My mom commented: it doesn't get much fresher than this - strawberries fresh out of the garden and scones fresh out of the oven. I agree. This is an example of eating local at it's best! Here's what I did:

Makes about 12 scones

2 eggs
1/2 c. milk
1/2 c. butter, melted
2 c. + 2 Tbsp. flour
1 Tbsp. sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Beat eggs in a large bowl. Beat in milk, then butter. Add dry ingredients and stir until well incorporated. Drop dough by rounded tablespoon (a little larger than a golfball) onto baking sheet. Bake about 12 minutes, until golden.

One year ago: root beer baked beans

Monday, July 4, 2011

from the garden

Sweet, ripe strawberries still warm from the summer sun: soon to be enjoyed with scones and vanilla ice cream. Happy 4th of July!

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