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