Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Good Luck 2010 with 7 Bean and Kale Stew with Grilled Salmon


Please raise a glass to 2010. It’s the first breath of a new year and hope waxes. I hope that life offers my friends and family more than they can desire; babies, marital bliss, jobs, and joy accordingly. Most importantly, let health and happiness be with us in this year.

And, because I have an eternal belief that food always makes it better; here is my good luck 2010 dish: 7 bean and kale stew with grilled salmon and pumpkin corn bread. Symbolism abounds here—beans are symbolic of coins; kale for money; salmon for moving forward; black-eyed peas for prosperity; pomegranate for fertility. And, hey, if all these good luck ingredients don’t work, at least it tasted good.

7 Bean and Kale Stew with Grilled Salmon
Measure out ¼ cup of the canary beans, black-eyed peas, adzuki beans, chickpeas, moong dal, cannellini and soak overnight.

In a slowcooker:
Add beans, drained
2 bay leaves
8 black peppercorns
1 T pomegranate molasses
1 t lemon zest
5-6 coriander seeds
2 small onions, quartered
2 medium carrots cut in coins
½ sweet potato diced very large
2 celery sticks, chopped very coarsely (large)
2 t salt
1 T soy sauce
½ T mirin
1/2 inch ginger, whole
2-3 pieces pickled ginger
Barely cover with veggie stock.

Cook on low for 8.5 hrs.

In a skillet:
Add 1 T butter, 2 T olive oil, 1 T slivered ginger. Remove the ginger. Add 1 wild salmon filet that has been salted. Sear skin side. Flip when brown. Turn of the heat and cover a few minutes. Serve medium rare.

In the same skillet, sautée kale until just cooked.

Serve topped with the sauteed ginger and minced ginger. (Or pickled ginger.)

Monday, December 7, 2009

Vegetarian Lentil “Bolognese”


I believe certain topics are not to be discussed like anything associated with politics and bathrooms. Both have a dirty aspect which I prefer to avoid. Of this dish, lets just say that we have entered into a new fiber rich eating regime and leave it at that.

Vegetarian Lentil “Bolognese”

Monday, November 30, 2009


Canolis were made and eaten last week in accordance with the Daring Bakers edict. (Life has thrown me a little right now, so very little post today.) Lets be official about this: The November 2009 Daring Bakers Challenge was chosen and hosted by Lisa Michele of Parsley, Sage, Desserts and Line Drives. She chose the Italian Pastry, Cannolo (Cannoli is plural), using the cookbooks Lidia’s Italian-American Kitchen by Lidia Matticchio Bastianich and The Sopranos Family Cookbook by Allen Rucker; recipes by Michelle Scicolone, as ingredient/direction guides. She added her own modifications/changes, so the recipe is not 100% verbatim from either book.


But, I did want to thank everyone for commenting about Michael Symon’s book. The drawing was held with much ceremony and drawn from our fanciest hat. The winner was chosen at random by a girl who only knows half the alphabet (which should make the drawing half random.)
And the winner is:
More importantly, I will send a check for $44 to the Cleveland Foodbank. Thanks to all.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Chickpea Skordalia and a Giveaway

I admit was predisposed to like Michael Symon's Live to Cook: Recipes and Techniques to Rock Your Kitchen. I am a proud Clevelander; I love a man who embraces his ethnic heritage; I got a free copy from the publisher, and I love pretty pictures (shiny things too, by the way.) On the other hand, my judgmental nature meant that it wasn’t going to be a sure thing for Mr. Symon.

Symon’s book reads like a cross between an index card recipe file and a journal. The personal nature of the book is only heightened by the fact that the requisite styled food photographs are punctuated by candids of the chef in action. In total, one has the sense that Symon has let you into his life from his stepson’s favorite mac and cheese (which was delicious) to his ya-ya’s tomato sauce (also yum.)

The conversational writing, particularly in the passages that introduce the recipes, has an enticing honest charm. To me, when a cookbook transcends the realm of technical manual and becomes memoir, it is a keeper.

This book strikes me as an ideal holiday gift for a man who likes to cook but has moved beyond the Fred Flintstone world of grilling. J loved the book so much that he attempted to steal it. (I reminded him that thanks to the vows we now share property.)

Have I whet your appetite? You will need to get the book for the recipe for Chickpea Skordalia pictured in this post.  Well, I would like to offer you one for your very own. Michael Symon is a proud Clevelander, and so I thought we would make this giveaway hometown themed. If you want the book, you get one entry for a comment (include your email address). You get another entry for tweeting about the giveaway. BUT, you will get TWO additional entries if you state in your comment that you vow never to make fun of Cleveland. [Contest entries close on Monday, November 23.]   

And, finally, as we are going into a season where no one should be hungry, I will donate $1 for each comment to the Cleveland Foodbank.  

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Sushi Vegan and Vegetarian Style

Vegan sushi


Moms and Dads are often brush your teeth, tie your shoes, say please and thank you sorts.

And, then some days, something changes. A swath of time opens up. The sun shines more purely. The routine is chucked away. Halloween candy is eaten for breakfast. Errands become adventures. Being together brings a spontaneous smile to everyone’s face. Parents hear sweet words, like “I am smiling right now, Daddy. Just because.”



Daddy and daughter make dinner together. Rice is fondled. Water is splashed.


Vinegar is measured. A picture book becomes a fan to cool the sushi rice. Sticky grains are squished and smooshed. Carrots become stars and flowers. Dinner is served on butterfly plates. Soy sauce is licked off fingers to a chorus of giggles.



Sushi was the Daring Cooks challenge this month. We made vegetarian sushi for friends. Fillings included pickled carrots, grilled tofu glazed with yakitori sauce, grilled leeks, cucumber, celery carrots; fancy multigrain rice from the korean grocery store and daikon; roasted acorn squash and raw pumpkin seed mole; frozen tofu sautéed with leeks and garlic; shitake mushrooms, carrots and daikon; a dragon roll with egg outside and pickled carrots inside (with and without seaweed for the babe); dehydrated eggplant and roasted pepper; as well as radish nigiri.


The November 2009 Daring Cooks challenge was brought to you by Audax of Audax Artifex and Rose of The Bite Me Kitchen. They chose sushi as the challenge.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Vegan Pumpkin Pie



Thankfully, I know the secret to a good marriage. Learn something new about your spouse everyday, a ladies magazine extolled.

Putting this into practice has proven slightly difficult. My husband and I spend a great deal of time together. We share a room. (I realize that most couples do that.) We eat most meals together (Still not ahead on the togetherness scale, you say?) We carpool. (So?) We work together--our desks are side by side. Given all this quality time, it can be hard to learn something new everyday.


So, those days when I learn something new about J are red letter ones indeed.
When I was on maternity leave, I would lie in wait for him. I ached to speak to an adult and to wash away the banalities of the day with conversation. My husband on the other hand wanted quiet after spending the greater part of the day attempting to engage others, often teenagers. Our conversations would have a sort of jetlag quality. After the girls went to bed, I would start fast sharing all about my day,interesting tidbits from NPR, things I read here or there, ideas for recipes. When I was well into the second or third topic, J would finally pick on on the first.


It was on one of these nights that we had our strangest argument to date. I started with an interesting way to make a whole thanksgiving dinner in one oven at once, vegan pies for my daughter’s friend with food allergies, and then something from NPR about the election issues. At the last point, J looked up from his magazine. He eyes widened. The charming green of his eyes looked uncharacteristically cold. He wasn’t smiling. I rarely speak about politics. Casual conversation about political issues only serves to disquiet me. So, I braced myself for a rant about whatever issue. But, instead, J began to discuss pies with a strange earnestness.


Apparently, that evening we would be fighting about pumpkin pie. Like a high school debater, I took up the con only to improve my skills. Sacred tradition, silly obsession with lilliputian proportions, hocus pocus and weird ingredients were all uttered; I finally countered with the lowest blow—but the poor little boy has never had pumpkin pie. And, like all good marital arguments, this one ended with laughter. J had somehow missed why I wanted to make allergy-free pies. And, he wasn’t interested in denying a boy his pie.

Later I asked J why he had been so belligerent. I didn’t know you felt so strongly about pumpkin pie, I said. Neither did I, he replied.

Vegan Pumpkin Pielets or Pies if you prefer

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Macaron Macaron Macaron Macaron Macaron .....

I thought about writing a post about the feeling of utter failure I felt late one Thursday night when 2 egg whites mingled with powdered sugar only to become dry cracked lumps in my oven—feetless lumps.

I thought about writing a post about the strange feeling of drive that was then fostered in my brain to tame this darn recipe.

I thought about writing a post about how I went on to have two more failures.

I thought about writing a post about how success finally occurred and that I have no idea how.

I thought about describing that moment when I anxiously turned on the oven light to see those tiny feet; about how I danced right there in the dark of the night kitchen; about the shriek of glee I let out; about my husband’s surprise.
I thought about writing about how by using Helen of Tartelette’s recipe for macarons from Desserts Magazine that I finally found joy in making these French delicacies.

I thought about writing about getting so at ease with the prospect that I made them with a 2 year old (soon to be three she would like me to inform you.)

I thought about telling you how fun blanching almonds can be (a pinch of the thumb and pointer finger makes them into projectiles.)

I thought about giving you the rundown of my flavors:
Pumpkin Spice with Pumpkin/Pale ale cream cheese frosting (I follow Helen's advice of drying pumpkin in the oven (oh if i had a dehydrator) and then making a powder of it. These smelled heavenly when baking.)
Green Tea with Ganache
Mint Tea with Pumpkin/ pale ale cream cheese frosting
Pink Peppercorn spice with ganache
Nanami Togarashi spice with ganache
Roibos with Ganache
Rose Hip tea with guess what ganache

I thought about telling you that shifting sugar with a child under 4 is messy business (and that you shouldn’t laugh when they climb down to the floor to lick the lost powdered sugar.) I thought about telling you that in that instance you accept a lumpy shell.

I thought about telling you how I got a little punchy with my flavors and made cinnamon with almond pumpkin butter macarons as well as smores--cinnamon with a charred marshmallow and then dipped in chocolate.


I thought about telling you how I turned them into Halloween cookies and how my husband said I turned the delicacy and beauty of France into something kinda wrong but right at the same time.

But, what’s the point in telling you any of this when I have pictures.

And for those of you who are wondering what the heck I am not talking about, it is Daring Baker day of course. The 2009 October Daring Bakers’ challenge was brought to us by Ami S. She chose macarons from Claudia Fleming’s The Last Course: The Desserts of Gramercy Tavern as the challenge recipe.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Kobocha Squash Naan


I have been trying to write my final post for #eaton30 since last night. (Confused, go to @runningwithtweezers to learn more.)

I wanted to write something poetic but the truth is just too ugly. Here it is plain and simple—I am damn thankful that I don’t have to choose between feeding myself and my daughter, that I always have food in my pantry, that I have never worried about where my next meal will come from. I can't imagine what it is like to look into your child's eyes and tell her there is nothing to eat. I can't imagine how hard you must need to hold them against you when their bellies are growling in hunger. And, it is a cruel injustice in this world that some of us are lucky enough to get to spend time elevating food to joy and extravagance while some don’t even get to use it for sustenance. With the jobless recovery, it will be a long winter in America (globally too); consider donating to your local food bank.

If you are dying to know how we did with the challenge, we ended up $8 under budget but because we had dinner with family Friday and Saturday for free. I thought I would leave you with what we did with the last of our homemade yogurt and kobocha squash.


Kobocha Squash and Potato Naan:

Serve warm with some curry like or top with potato baaji, some achar, tomato paste, an egg, and cheddar cheese to make a perfect brunch dish.

In a stand mixer with a hook attachment add:
4 cups flour
1 cup mashed squash
1/4 cup potato
2 t yeast (my husband says we could have done 1.5 t, you decide.)
1 t sugar
1 t salt
2 T yogurt
1/4 cup water
2 T oil

Knead well.

Let rest 3 hours. Punch down. Split into 6-8 equal sections, pull into thin oblong pieces. Bake one by one for 2.5 minutes on a pizza stone that has been heated to 550 F. (We preheated the oven to 550 for 1/2 hour.)

This is my entry for yeastspotting from Wild Yeast.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Kabocha squash and sweet potato chapatis


Spice is the variety of life. And if you love to cook, your cabinets no doubt overflow with various condiments, vinegars, spices and herbs. When I am in an ethnic grocery store I often pick up one of these items, ideally something new to me and with little identification in English. I consider this habit endearing; my husband would say it is just plain bad. Either way it is discretionary. When you are on a limited budget it is hard to outfit your kitchen with a bounty of spices. So this week, as I took the Eat on 30 Challenge started by Tami of running with tweezers, I decided to only use two spices, cumin and chili pepper in my dishes, along with the fresh mint that grows on my sill. I felt that even on a limited budget you could shell out for one spice that would transform your food. I chose cumin because it works in a variety of cuisines and tastes different when roasted and unroasted.

In case you are saying Eat on 30 Challenge, what? (#eaton30) This challenge is to help raise awareness of hunger issues in America:

Back to the rundown of my spices…so on Monday we started with roasted vegetable couscous. My picture was subpar but imagine whole wheat couscous painted a lovely shade of pink, nay a princess pink. It scented with fresh mint and a pinch of cumin tossed with olive oil, 3 small freshly roasted beets, 1 roasted onion and 1 roasted sweet potato. In this dish, the cumin was just a hint to round out the punch of the whole handful of mint in the couscous.

On Tuesday, without the cumin and chili pepper, the dish could not have been called chili and would not have been something we would crave for days.

Tonight I had planned to make squash risotto but the Arborio would have killed my budget. Instead, I decided to make squash and sweet potato chapattis, spicy roasted squash (sliced, dusted with cumin and pepper), masoor dal cooked with caramelized onions and stir-fried cabbage and potatoes with cumin. For the dal, purple potato, wheat flour, and squash, I did break into the pantry, but I will charge myself for each based on my old receipts and yes I do keep them all at the bottom of my purse ($1, $1, 1/3 of 2.99 and $1.50). This Indian-inspired dinner was $5.57. So far for the week, with no breakfast for me because I was crazy busy and leftovers for lunch for both of us, we are at $44. $16 to use until Monday seems like we are cutting it really close—bad budgeting on my part. That said, I totally forgot this weekend is Diwali when I signed up for Eat on 30. Our part of the pot luck will be part of the challenge, but we will be feasting largely on someone’s tab. (Also, sorry for the poor state of proofing on the last post. There have been some sleepless nights lately.)

Kabocha squash and sweet potato chapatis
Roast 1 sweet potato.

Mash sweet potato with:
2 T squash
1 T olive oil
2 T yogurt
½ t salt
2 T mint leaves chopped

Add 3/4 cup or 1 cup wheat flour until the dough comes together as a ball.

Let rest for 20 minutes and then break off Susan B Anthony coin sized pieces. Roll in a ball, flatten and then roll out thin.

Cook on an unoiled skillet and then puff on an open gas flame.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

19 things Eat on 30 has Taught Me


I wanted to share why I joined Eat on 30. This project created by Tami of running with tweezers is to bring awareness to American poverty period. The numbers are sobering.

• At some point during the year, 1 in 5 Americans receives food assistance from 1 or more of the 15 programs providing help.
• In 2009, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) will help feed 31 million people per month. The average monthly benefit? $101.
• Between March 2007 and March 2008, the global price of food rose 43%. 1 billion people - 1/6th of the world's population - live on $1 per day.
Those in America on food stamps get is less than a fancy coffee drink or significantly less than a fancy cocktail per day. When you break down what you spend per serving, or the cost of your food per day, you are likely spending significantly more. And, if so, you are lucky, and might consider a donation to your local food bank. Alright, off my soapbox.

Today, I missed breakfast. We ate chili for lunch and dinner. We spent 5.13 for the day (including my husband’s dirty water hot dog when he forgot lunch.) Since I was without a recipe for the day, I thought I might share 19 ancillary benefits I have learned.

1. Have an easy standardized, affordable breakfast every day. This way we are benefiting from the economics of bulk but without falling into the possibility of wasteful bulk purchasing. Our breakfasts are oatmeal made with milk from our ½ gallon purchased the other day.

2. Make breakfast fool-proof. Sleepiness might keep you from preparing it; and then halfway to work, Bialys will call you loudly.

3. Purchase items in the bulk section of the nature foods store. Prepackaged organic oatmeal is costly.

4. Buy organic vegetable based on the dirty dozen.

5. Buy seasonal vegetables. Our gang this week are beets, carrots, onions, cabbage, potatoes and sweet potatoes. Yes, it does read like a who’s who of the Russian steppe. But, those folks survived on truly nothing in winters that would make a Yeti wear woolies.

6. Go ahead and get the almost spoiled vegetables but only in moderation. I bought one almost spoiled eggplant and used it immediately.

7. If you are buying a vegetable make sure that you aren’t leaving any parts at the store. For carrots, keep the leaves for salads or stocks. Beets keep the greens to eat as a side dish (as we did on Monday.

8. Use things smartly. Mr. Chicken was breast for dinner the first night, the back meat chili second night, and bones will be broth for risotto on the fourth night.

9. Don’t stand on ceremony about the bones. With just the family around, I decided to debone the roasted chicken and plate our dinners, so that I could immediately start the slow-cooker for the stock. Sure it didn’t look as proud as a cock on a platter, but my family loves me for more than my food styling.

10. Figure out ways to exact as much flavor as possible. The peels of the onions, the skin of the carrots, the skins of the beets were all roasted for different parts of the meals throughout the week; they become part of the stock. The stock was brown and lovely.

11. Don’t completely deprive yourself. I choose not to live without caffeine. Chocolate maybe, but caffeine no. One cup (maybe two) but not three this week.

12. Prioritize. I mentioned yesterday, I don’t know how you could buy meat and cheese on this budget. Going through our budget and accounting for EVERY cent, I realized I could buy cheese but only a little. Make the choices that work for you. I can’t afford grassfed meat so I won’t buy any. But, I really feel like cheese will elevate some of the foods so go with it.

13. Make some stuff. We decided to make our own bread (the same one we did last week from Ruhlman’s Ratio) and yoghurt. Homemade yogurt is way cheaper and it is a serious staple in our family. That step alone saved us big bucks.

14. Prep a number of dinners in one fell swoop. No I don’t work for the Food Network, but it is true. We were less apt to get take out tonight even though we were busy b/c everything was prepped ahead of time.

15. Use that slow-cooker. I have it planned for the two busy nights this week.

16. Don’t cook too much. Seems counterintuitive, but if you make too much it just goes to waste. And, really, if you are making the same breakfast and snack everyday, you can’t also eat the same dinner every night. Boredom will drive you to get a pizza.

17. Eat communally. If you are the kind of person who cooks too much, go with it. If you are short on freezer space work together with another family and splits costs and preparation times. We have been doing that with my Mom. For the same prep time and little extra cost in ingredients (one and ¼ carrot vs two), we can feed 3 adults.

18. Just because it comes in a vat that you can crawl into doesn’t mean you are saving money…bulk stores aren’t always cheaper. And, if you don’t use it all you aren’t saving money. So put down that pallet of apples, Dad.

19. DON’T FORGET YOUR LUNCH AT HOME. This is our hardest one. Mornings are super hectic and while you can set aside your clothes and put your briefcase in the car the night before, it’s not like you want your yogurt to fester there all night long. We have tried signs on the door, but it is getting to the point I wonder if we should put a tattoo on our hands.

And if you are still with me, go over and look at the entries from the rest of the #eaton30 gang.

Carrie Neal - also from Atlanta - is blogging at carrienealland and tweets under@carrienealland
Susan is our newest participant! Her blog Doughmesstic is just great. She's on Twitter - @doughmesstic
The amazing and fabulous Jen - who blogs from Colorado at Use Real Butter - can be followed @userealbutter
Paula of the gorgeous blog bell'alimento is taking part! Follow her on twitter@bellalimento
The Broke Socialite of the eponymously named blog can be followed@brokesocialite
Betty Joan is a fellow Atlantan who blogs at Trouble With Toast . You can find her on Twitter @bettyjoan.
Atlanta food blogger Jimmy of Eat It Atlanta will be taking part in a crash course week before a wedding he has to be in. Follow him @EatItAtlanta.
Robert - @rdyson on Twitter - is also taking part from Atlanta. Check out his bloghere.
Mike - who took part last time and made a blog especially for the challenge - will be doing it again. You can also follow him @boutte.
Zach is kicking off a new blog with this challenge - Mise en Face. Follow him@drzachary.
Kristina will be taking place from Tennessee via her blog and@TNlocavore
Another Susan, this time of Frugal Hostess, tweets @frugalhostess
Diana of A Little Bit of Spain in Iowa is on Twitter @dianabauman
Hailey of Hail’s Kitchen blogs and tweets from Utah - @hailskitchen
Joining the party today is Maybelle's Mom who blogs at Feeding Maybelle. You can find her on Twitter @feedingmaybelle
Also newly taking part is Atlantan Biz, who blogs at Wisfulfillment.



One night years ago when I first moved back to Cleveland I needed a bowl of pho. The blue-eyed boy, who later became my husband, thought I had a stutter as I repeatedly said, “lets get some pho, pho, you know pho.” We walked into a local place that only serves only pho to have our entrance blocked by the waiter. The four table restaurant “only served pho” he explained and we would be smart to turn around and go to the fusion place across the street. When we explained that we had in fact attended the restaurant for its pho, he then wanted to know our credentials, “When have Yo you had pho? Where have you had pho? Why have you had pho?”

When the pho arrived, the owner/ waiter pointed to the plate of raw add-ons saying, “change the pho once, twice, three times, four times but not five.” He then looked on standing against the swinging door that separated the small kitchen and the spare white dining room. As I added 2 jalapeno slices, cilantro, bean sprouts and 2 squeezes of lime to my pho, I felt a smile on my watchers face. Apparently I had passed the test.

With two little ones, it has been much harder to run across town when the desire for pho pops up, so I was glad to learn to make pho at home. The recipe is a breeze and really lovely, though if you have a small family assume you will be able to freeze half the soup for a deep winter treat. Thanks to Jaden Hair of Steamy Kitchen.  Her book, The Steamy Kitchen Cookbook, is to be released soon.

We also made the dessert wonton part of the challenge. I made homemade white chocolate, pink peppercorn and raspberry icecream. After churning, I put them in the wontons and then froze them. Quick fry and voila.


(And, if you are there with your calculator, I made this a month ago not during Eat on 30 week.)