Friday, October 31, 2008

Mummies!! (courtesy of Tavo's coworker, Katrina)

Highway to the Danger Zone

Happy Halloween from Tavo's coworkers

..and these tasty mummies!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Stew of Seitan! (a halloween post)

What have I been cooking up in my cauldron?

"Eye of newt, and toe of frog,
Wool of bat, and tongue of dog,
Adder's fork, and blind-worm's sting,
Lizard's leg, and howlet's wing,--
For a charm of powerful trouble,
Like a hell-broth boil and bubble."

Nope--I kept it vegan today. I've been cooking up a Stew of Seitan. I borrowed the recipe for homemade seitan from Urban Vegan. If you haven't had a chance to check out her page, give it a gander! She's a very talented vegan cook.

They puffed up!

After making the seitan, I saved some for sandwiches, but decided to make a stew with the majority. I consulted Robin Robertson's Cookbook, "Vegan Planet" and chose to do a slight adaptation of Belgian Style Seitan Stew with Dark Beer. (she has a blog, too--that link goes to her recipe) Beer? Yes, please!

...and what good would stew be without the ubiquitous loaf of sourdough?

I don't know who created this, but it was my favorite YouTube of the day.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Let's have some hummus, too!

When I became a vegetarian back in college, I was heavily influenced by my very resourceful, talented roommate, Em. She introduced me to organic foods, homemade mac and cheese, and let me know that not all vegetables came in cans. After watching me eat spaghetti every day for 3 months straight, she introduced me to the Moosewood cookbook and suggested we try out a few different recipes together. We're still best friends today.

I always think of her when I make hummus. We went on a roadtrip to California, careening down to Tulsa, Oklahoma to pick up another friend. The three of us took my little pick up, trading shifts driving and sleeping in the back on the off shifts. We dropped off our friend in LA; Em and I continued up the Pacific Coast Highway to San Francisco. As we were all on college budgets, Em and I each made a vat of hummus, tabbouleh, and bags of homemade pitas. We ate these pretty much exclusively. Em always thought my hummus was too lemony, but I like it that way. I like hers, too--its got a creamier texture. So, I'm writing this heavy on the lemon, but feel free to adjust it to your taste. The great thing about hummus is all the variations. Black bean hummus, jalapeño hummus, olive hummus--possibilities are endless. I chose roasted red pepper hummus this week.

Roasted Red Pepper Hummus

2 cloves garlic, minced
1 can garbanzos, drained
2-3 T. tahini (mine are always a bit more than a T.)
1/3 cup lemon juice or 2 lemons
1/2 cup roasted red pepper
dash soy sauce
Broth or water as needed
**olive oil for desired consistency and to drizzle on top

hot sauce

**my red peppers were packed in olive oil, so I didn't add any extra

Food process the garbanzos and red peppers with some broth and lemon juice. Add all other ingredients and mix. Food process again for smoother texture.


I posted this last night, with just the hummus shots, and a certain Mr. Doggy Bloggy noticed I didn't include any pitas :)

Well, they turned out kind of funny, so I wasn't going to post them, but here they are, my Square Pitas. (I was going for a flat bread-but it puffed!)

The dough was some leftover white/wheat combo pizza dough. I sprinkled some herbs, cayenne, salt and grated romano on top. Bake at 500 for 5-6 minutes, remove and cover with towels or put in a paper bag to keep soft. Even though they're square, they still taste pretty good!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Bride of Sourdough

It always seems like after 2 movie sequels, they start bringing the whole family in. Bride of Frankenstein, Seed of Chucky--in fact, I saw a preview for the 6th installment of Beethoven last night. Now that's just ridiculous.

What's not ridiculous is this sourdough--I think I'm finally onto something here. This one turned out almost perfect. I should have pulled it out of the oven about 5 minutes earlier, but then it would have been so perfect my head would spin!

Here's my starter--if yours isn't all bubbly like this, feed it and let it sit outside of the fridge for awhile to activate.

Here's the dough, getting ready to have its overnight rise. Make sure you use a large container! I used some oil just to ease the shaping process the next morning.

The next morning--looking sexy!
Into the oven you go
Hooray! A darn good loaf.

Let's make some tabbouleh to eat with the bread. Parsley, bulgar, tomatoes, lemon juice, olive oil and mint (I decided to throw in cilantro) salt and pepper to taste.

On a salad...a HUGE salad. I ate the whole thing.
Yeah :) Happy Friday everyone!

Monday, October 20, 2008

I'm really digging this whole "Autumn" thing.. (Squash)

(Tavo cooked a pork chop while I puttered about with my squash)

The recipe I'd grabbed said, "Eggplant Tajine" but I couldn't pass up the big fat squash sitting in front of me. Actually, the only eggplant at the Krogers were organic, and I didn't feel like shelling out the dough after already paying more than a dollar for a green pepper(!!!) Regardless, this is not what comes to my mind when I hear Tajine. This does:

I loved Morocco, and have tried ridiculous amounts of times to recreate the dishes I ate there. The only thing that is similar in this dish are the spices, so henceforth, I refuse to call this dish a tajine.

Interestingly--it was after spending a month in Morocco when I was in my early 20's that I realized I knew how to make VERY LITTLE completely from scratch. I mean, I didn't know what spices to put into the beans, what comes in the packet called "fajita" or the bottle of "stir fry" sauce? How do I take a bag of flour and make it bread? The United States is extremely oriented on convenience foods, and it rendered me useless. No kraft dinner, canned spaghetti sauce, or those gravy packets existed. I came back, after quite a few dismal attempts at guessing which spices would taste like what (skin-gee-bah is ginger in Arabic, cumin is cumin, thank God, Allahu Akbar, you know what I mean)

This was a real turning point in my cooking, and quickly led me to stop buying convenience food and flavor packets. I got to know many spices not only by name, but by what foods they enhanced, and how they smelled. I remember, in Morocco, just smelling these huge piles of spices and trying to guess which ones would work. No vendor knew the american english names of spices--why would they?

I also made sure to research the food names, local dishes, and bring a few recipes that would fit those when I went to Mexico and Brazil.

I'm rambling--but just by posting this, I'm really appreciative of how far I've come in the last 10 years.

Squash Non-Tajine--unless you use some some ceramic and a preserved lemon ;)

2 T olive oil
1 large sweet onion
4 cloves garlic
1 chile (I used a serrano)
Butternut Squash, baked (350 for 45 min.)
2 t. coriander (ground)
2 t. cumin
1 t. red pepper flakes
28 oz. can whole tomatoes, squished

chopped cilantro and parsley to garnish

-Sautee onion until translucent, add garlic
-add peeled, baked squash (cubed), chile, coriander, cumin, red pepper, tomatoes
-cover and cook for 20+ minutes. You can do this in the oven, too, if you prefer
-serve over couscous (and if you're good, you can roll it into a ball and pop in your mouth)

I'm going to eat it with flatbread.

Make sure not to use your left hand to eat with!

Sunday afternoon

I was in Athens most of last week for a Librarian Conference (please, contain your excitement!) Actually, it was really a good time and I've got a whole new bag of tricks to try on my students.

So, Tavo and I took it easy over the weekend and just enjoyed seeing each other after a week apart. Saturday morning, we went to Oakland Cemetery's "Run Like Hell" 5K. We were supposed to meet our friends there--but never actually found them. So I ran it and we headed back to the house to paint trim (Tavo) and read a book in the sun (me--yep, I'm usually the lazy one!)

We had some friends over in the evening and I walked up to the local liquor store instead of driving to the nice store. Our local liquor store is a VERY SKETCHY establishment complete with dirty bulletproof Plexiglas separating myself and the random homeless patrons from the selection of liquor and the clerks who know absolutely nothing about liquor whatsoever. So, after wiping a clean spot on the glass--I spied a 10% off shelf, and had the clerk read the price on each before settling on a handle of Old Hickory Bourbon. Have you ever heard of this? It has a picture of Andrew Jackson on the label.

At any rate, it was very dusty, probably 25+ years old, and $15. Works for me. We did a good job on it--and no one was hungover the next day, so all in all it was actually quite good bourbon. I even jogged Sunday morning.

In the afternoon, we went to Fontaine's, in the Virginia-Highlands section of Atlanta. That's 1026 1/2 N. Highland Ave, to be exact. We actually got there just in time for Happy Hour and enjoyed 1/2 price crab legs and $2 Sam Adams. Perfect! The food was delicious, too. Here's a slightly ethereal picture of me enjoying my clam chowder and eyeing Tavo's ginormous muffaletta. (I'm stealing his tator tots with my fork)

Delicious! Hope all of you had a good weekend.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

My Sticky and Disagreeable Friends (aka gnocchi post)

I have never been to Italy...but Tavo has. And this is a post about his favorite food: Gnocchi with Pesto.

I love to cook! I'm a huge fan of Italian food! I worked at an authentic Italian restaurant (complete with Sicilian owner/boss screaming at me most of the time) for four years! Granted, I was a waitress. Regardless of these facts, my gnocchi attempts, thus far, have been absolutely abysmal. Seriously--to the point of others being terrified. Here was our conversation this morning.

Me: Hey babe!! Guess what? Basil was on sale at the store!

Tavo: yeah? cool. (curious, puzzled look)

Me: I was thinking of making pesto!

Tavo: ...I like pesto (encouraging, but still slightly bewildered)

Me: And some gnocchi!!

Tavo: (look of apprehension) ... um...

Me: It'll be GREAT!

Tavo: (trying to be kind) ...remember last time?

Me: I'll do it RIGHT this time!

So--being the kind and agreeable Tavo he is, we're trying the gnocchi again.

Tavo worked on painting the trim on the house...

Meanwhile, I pursued fantastic culinary feats! Such as substituting cashews for the pine nuts I forgot to grab at the grocery.

cover with olive oil and refrigerate

Verdict?? "Wow!! This is MUCH better than last time!"

I had mine with red sauce.

and a combo!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Caesar Salad and Sourdough Part Trois

I had a really good Caesar Salad at Blue Moon Pizza the other day, and thought--hey! I've never made Caesar salad at home. So, guess what we had for dinner?

I made another loaf of sourdough last night--again--pretty good. Not perfect yet... It was tastier than your run of the mill croûtons, though.

Caesar Salad

2 cloves garlic, minced
small tin anchovies (this was a bit much, but couldn't think of what to do with the leftovers!)
2 egg yolks
1+ T. Dijon mustard
2 lemons, juiced (or lemon juice if you're lazy like me)
1/2 cup olive oil
fresh grated parmesan
black pepper

Food process everything and you're set!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

What do you think????

Tavo made a new heading for our blog---it's fairly huge to me. What do you think? I like it--but, I'm trying to be more impartial (which I've probably already blown)

Sourdough, Part Deux

All righty--the first loaf of sourdough I made was flat, kind of burned, but had the correct "sourdough" taste. (Nope, don't have a pic of it--you'll have to take my word)

I had used the recipe from Electric Bread. Does anyone remember this? It was published in the mid 90's along with the bread machine craze. As I am still a strong proponent of bread machines--I still use this as my go-to cookbook for bread. It's really a fantastic book and has very rarely steered me wrong.

It steered me wrong with the sourdough. Of course--it's not the book's fault, entirely. The book wanted me to cook it in the bread machine, and I wanted to cook in the oven. I won. Bread was burned.

So, this time I pulled out my trusty Joy of Cooking. This book has enlightened me multiple times. If I decide to pull an "Into the Wild" and kill and eat my own food-Joy would be the book I bring with me. (she has whole sections on cooking game and pretty much any plant!)

And she, again, steered me in the right direction. At first, the whole "have dough rise overnight in warm place" worried me--because I opened my oven at 6 am to be greeted with this:

But it turned out fine. I reshaped it, gave a quick egg wash, and into the oven with you! I decided, personally, to keep the heat at 400 but pull the bread around 22 minutes--that worked well.

Here's my success!!

Oh no--crazy sourdough mutation!

That's okay, I love you anyway.

Verdict? Good flavor, crusty exterior, not burned. Things I'll try next time--I'd like to increase the sweetener (I used plain sugar) and the salt, I'd like to let it rise for a while after reshaping, and I'd like to remember to buy butter!!