Category Archives: Recipe

New Leaf

Hi there. It’s been a while, but I’m back. I’m not here to scatter handfuls from my bushel of excuses on lack of posting over the past month–that’s so 2005. Instead, I’ve got more posts that involve acutal cooking and pretty pictures of food. About time, right?

I’ve recently partnered with a certain Ian to get into some healthier habits. I haven’t been very interested in cooking lately, and I feel like everthing I eat comes out of a crackly plastic bag. Sloppy nutrition makes me tired and I don’t want to cook when I’m tired, so I end up in a not-too-pleasant cycle. So in order to feel better, and feel better about myself, I’m going to concentrate on cooking healthy foods more often.¬† I’m a bit of an amateur nutrition buff, so I’ll be writing about the health benefits of the things I cook. Dessert lovers, don’t worry–this isn’t going to become a shame-dispensing health site. I promise only to share the most delicious recipes and ingredients, including plenty of cookies, jam, custard, and ice cream.

That said, I’m turning over a new leaf–literally (you knew that joke was coming). This bundle of joy is Red Russian Kale, one of my favorite leafy greens. It’s much milder than other kales, and one of the prettiest brassicas around. When it’s young like this bunch, you barely need to cook it at all, and it could even serve as a salad green once de-stemmed, or shredded in a delicate slaw. The leaves are so tender I couldn’t stop myself from taking a bite of one on the way home, even though I prefer them sauteed. I cooked this kale the way I cook most leafy greens. Just a quick stir fry with some oil (about 2 Tbs) and a minced clove of garlic, and it’s ready to go. I chop everything up, heat the oil on high, toss in the stems, stir about 2 minutes, add the leaves, stir for 2 minutes, add the garlic, & stir 2 more minutes.

Everyone knows that the dark green leafies contain lots of iron, calcium, manganese and vitamins A, C , and K. But did you know that they fight cancer and aid brain function? Dark brassicas are commonly used as a liver detoxifier; high fiber content means they cleanse the colon as well. That brings to mind their high sulfur content (it’s why they smell a bit like an unlit match as you cook them), a clever inclusion gives them slight antimicrobial properties.

But forget about all that for a minute, and listen when I tell you that they are delicious. Cooked in a little oil, with some garlic and maybe a bit of red pepper, these greens are soft, rich, fresh, and nourishing. I don’t salt them because their mineral content makes them taste salty enough. And you know, for health. These might be just the thing to wean me off of my Peanut m&m habit. So here’s to the new me, the new you, and the new crop of kale. Consider this new leaf flipped.

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Filed under dinner, Recipe, Side Dish, Vegetables

The Newest Year

Happy Inauguration Day! It feels like New Year’s Day, for real this time. This is the newest year we’ve had in a decade, maybe more. So in honor of this fresh start, I cooked up a quick (gotta have time to watch all the coverage) and cheap (economy won’t recover overnight) meal full of luck-bringing foods.

This quick semi-stir-fry has all the beans, greens, and pork of a traditional New Year’s feast, and using dried chickpeas and frozen spinach makes it affordable and healthy – not to mention delicious.

What are you up to on this historic day?

Inauguration Beans

  • 1 small Mexican chorizo, (about 3oz) casing removed, crumbled
  • 1 cup chickpeas, cooked and drained (canned is ok)
  • 1 cup frozen chopped spinach (or fresh if it’s handy)
  • 1 Tbs snipped fresh basil

Sautee the chorizo over medium high heat about 4 minutes. Drain as much of the fat as you can, probably about 2 Tbs. Stir in the chickpeas and cook 3 minutes. Add the spinach and cook a few more minutes, until heated all the way through. Turn off the heat. Snip the basil over the spinach and stir in. Serves 2 as a side, can be multiplied indefinitely.

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Votemeal Cookies

Today’s the day! If you’re reading this, take a break and go vote. If you’ve already voted, great! You may continue reading for a truly inspirational cookie recipe.

I’m presenting friends, family, coworkers, and you, dear reader, with these delicious oatmeal chocolate cookies to say thanks for voting. There are few things as important to the health of our nation, and few things can make you feel as much a part of the community. Even if you don’t consider yourself especially political, the simple act of casting a ballot renews your stake in the country. It’s the clearest way to say, yes, I am part of this community and my opinion matters.

It’s especially important to vote if you feel ignored or cheated by the government, if your values are under-represented, if you disagree with the laws being passed and the way those laws are enforced. This is a duty to the country, but it is also a duty to yourself. If you take part in choosing who represents you, then they are accountable to you. So thank you for voting, and making sure the people in office are the ones we choose.

This is my tried-and-true oatmeal cookie recipe, a combination of my favorite cookie characteristics. So these cookies are not dense and cakey, thin and crunchy, or soft and soggy – they’re crisp on the outside and soft inside with bursts of chocolate and cinnamon. I’m also including Ian’s recipe for spicy cinnamon glaze, which makes the cookies unforgettable.

Here’s hoping we’re about to start four years of responsible, accountable, trustworthy leadership. And delicious cookies, of course.

Votemeal Cookies

  • 1 stick of butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 1 1/2 cups rolled oats
  • 3/4 cup chocolate chips or chopped chocolate

Preheat oven to 325. Beat butter and sugar together in a stand mixer or with a wooden spoon until smooth. Stir in cinnamon, baking soda, and salt. Beat in egg and vanilla. Gently stir in flour until there are just a few white streaks, then mix in oats. Stir in chocolate chips. Form tablespoon-sized balls of dough on baking sheets, and bake 8-10 minutes, rotating trays halfway through. When completely cool, drizzle cookies with glaze. Serve to fellow voters, and make sure to eat two or three yourself to keep up your strength for the long night of poll-watching ahead. Makes 24 cookies, can be doubled and still fit comfortably in a KitchenAid.

Ian’s Cinnamon Cider Glaze

  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 3/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 Tbs apple cider

Stir all ingredients together until smooth. You may need a tiny bit more cider, so increase the liquid 1/2 tsp at a time. This is enough glaze for a judicious drizzle on each cookie, but if you want to slather your cookies, by all means, double the recipe.

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Filed under Baked, Recipe, Sweets

Cider Season

During an early fall picnic in Prospect Park, this honeybee was attracted by the first spiced cider of the season and fell into a cup. I scooped her out, and once dry she helped clean up the droplets left in the cup. She was not, however, much help with the crossword.

I share the bee’s enthusiasm for warm cider fragrant with cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves, though I have yet to tumble into a cup of it. (Maybe I just need to find bigger cups.) Once the weather cools down and the greenmarkets fill with apples, I start lugging home cider to mull, drink cold, and use in other recipes.

The credit for this recipe goes to Ian, who loves cider more than any person or bee I’ve met. I usually just toss everything into a pot and strain it out, but he’s devoted enough to tie whole spices in cheesecloth and carefully crush them to extract more flavor.

Mulled Cider

  • 1/2 gallon apple cider, non-pasteurized
  • 3 cinnamon sticks
  • 8 cloves
  • 1 whole nutmeg
  • Cheesecloth
  • Cotton twine

Cut a 6 inch square of cheesecloth, double thickness. Place all the spices in a ziploc bag and smash with a meat mallet, steel travel mug, or whatever you have handy. Transfer the spices to the center of the cheesecloth square, gather the corners, and tie with a piece of twine. Pour the cider into a large nonreactive pot and add the spice bundle. Bring almost to a boil over high heat, then when the cider steams, reduce heat to low and simmer at least 15 minutes. The spices will continue to infuse the cider the longer it sits. If you like, you can add a 2-inch strip of lemon rind (bright part only) to the spice bundle. Don’t add any additional sweetener, since the cider is sweet enough on its own.

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It takes two

Two people in search of dessert. Two ice cream add-ins. Two tries to get the custard right. Two spoons for digging in.

Ian and I were in the mood for ice cream this weekend, and as we walked through my neighborhood supermarket, we tried to think of what kind of ice cream we’d like to make. We were in the cookie aisle when he suggested cinnamon graham crackers. Of course, only the regular kind was in stock, so I suggested we make a quick batch of our own cinnamon grahams.

I’ve been eager to try this particular recipe for a while, especially since it’s been years since I last made graham crackers at home. I just needed a reason, and I think we can all agree that ice cream is one of the best reasons to do anything. The homemade graham crackers are really the star of the show, at least in my opinion, but it’s thanks to the supporting actors, spiced chocolate and turbinado custard, that they work so well. Graham crackers fresh from the oven and dusted with cinnamon sugar are so sensual a pleasure that it’s hard to believe they were invented to staunch unhealty carnal urges. But then, the Victorians were occasionally mistaken on other topics as well.

When we were planning the ice cream, we’d talked about chocolate and cookies, but I got so swept away by the idea of making those graham crackers that I forgot about the chocolate part of the plan until after we made the custard. Luckily, I have a stash of mysterious Valhrona cinnamon-chili chocolate balls, and they turned out to be the perfect match for this recipe. Any cinnamon spiced chocolate would be great here, though, or you could just use your favorite non-spiced chocolate and increase the cinnamon in the custard to 1/2 tsp and add a pinch of cayenne.

Spiced Chocolate Graham Cracker Crunch Ice Cream

  • 2 1/2 c milk
  • 4 tsp cornstarch
  • 1/2 c turbinado sugar
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 c chopped chocolate bits (I used cinnamon-chili dark chocolate balls from Valrhona)
  • 1c broken graham cracker bits (I made the Nancy Silverton recipe listed on 101 Cookbooks)

In a small sturdy pot, whisk the cornstarch and sugar together. Stir in 2c milk. Turn the heat to medium high until the mixture boils and foams, whisking all the while. Turn the heat to low and cook 1 minute to thicken and get rid of the raw cornstarch taste. Remove from heat and whisk in the cinnamon, vanilla, and remaining 1/2 c milk. Let cool to room temperature, then refrigerate at least 4 hours or until the custard is thoroughly chilled.

Pour the chilled custard into your ice cream maker. When it’s pretty much done churning, stir in the chocolate and graham cracker bits by hand. Plop into storage containers and freeze at least 2 hours to firm up before scooping.

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Nectarine Clafoutis

After emerging from a 3 hour meeting on Thursday, I wanted to relax with some baking, but still had lots of work to do. I just needed to do something that made me feel comfortable and competent, and had immediately visible results. Preferably delicious results to buoy the spirits and blood sugar of my exhausted coworkers.

So I tossed together a quick clafoutis with a few things likely to be in the office fridge at any given time: eggs, milk, fancy product samples, and my latest cache of greenmarket fruit. Of course, since there are no measuring cups or spoons in the office kitchen I had to estimate amounts and bake my clafoutis in a skillet instead of a pie plate or souffle dish, but that just attests to the flexibility and forgiving nature of this dessert. And it’s very quick to mix and bake, so I was able to get it in and out of the oven in well under an hour.

Now that I’m sure I can make it at work whenever need be, I feel a little better about all the late nights we’re about to pull in preparation for our biggest event of the year. After that, I’m going to take my nectarines home and bake them into coffee cakes and pies at a leisurely pace.


Nectarine Clafoutis (loosely adapted from a memory of Julia Child’s recipe)

  • 3 nectarines, sliced thinly
  • 1/3 c flour
  • 1/3 c sugar, plus more for sprinkling
  • faint grating of nutmeg, about 1/8 tsp
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 Tbs butter
  • 2 Tbs hazlenut oil
  • 1 c milk
  • 2 Tbs Saint-Germain elderflower liqueur

Preheat the oven to 375. Put the butter in a 10-inch skillet in the warming oven. Whisk 1/2 c sugar, flour, salt, and nutmeg in a medium bowl. Then whisk in the eggs. Take the skillet out of the oven and pour the butter into the egg mixture and whisk in along with the oil. Use a paper towel to rub the remaining melted butter over the bottom and sides of the skillet. Slowly pour the milk and liqueur into the batter, whisking all the while. Sprinkle a little sugar on the buttered pan. Pour about a quarter of the batter into the pan and bake about 5 minutes, just until set. This creates a base to keep the fruit from adhering to the bottom of the pan. Remove skillet from oven, and arrange the nectarine slices over the batter skin. Gently pour the remaining batter over the slices, re-arranging them if any float out of place. Bake 20 – 30 minutes, until center is set and edges are golden. Remove from oven and sprinkle with just enough sugar to make it sparkle. Serve warm or room temperature.

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Filed under Baked, Fruit, Recipe, Sweets

Getting with the Program

I’ve been more than a little zoned-out lately, and even though I’ve been cooking, I haven’t had the drive to publish photos and recipes. (Like that’s never happened to you.) I spend long hours at work, and by the time I’m home at night (after a yoga class if I’m lucky) I’m totally uninterested in anything else that takes mental or physical energy. (Cry me a river, right?) Most of the food I’ve made in the past few months has been very simple – the kind of thing that I think doesn’t merit measurement or recording – and I’ve been eating more prepared foods, both good and bad (Sabra hummus, Luna bars, street meat and Rainbow falafel) than ever before.

In an effort to slow my simultaneous eventual downswing both into expensive just-ok convenience food and total thoughtlessness about said convenience food, I’m going to start posting some of the things I toss together when I’m home and have 15 minutes free. I’m also going to start a new category, Deskmates, to chronicle the little snacks, goodies, and concoctions that fuel my workday.

So. Here’s the first step back into the weblog program.

Tonight I was craving yogurt-marinated lamb with a pile of yieldingly soft braised nappa cabbage. But the nearest grocery store is almost a block away, so I decided to ignore my craving and make do with my admittedly ample pantry ingredients. It turned out to be much quicker and it allowed me to avoid putting on flip-flops and spending 10 minutes away from home. I know, it’s pretty sad. But at least if this trend continues, I’ll be able to make room¬† in my cupboards for more homemade jam and pickles.

So I rooted through a cupboard, and behind my spice grinder and a cardboard canister of rolled oats was a lonely can of tuna. I pulled that out, and remembered the shelled edamame in the freezer. Some shredded carrot and ginger, soy sauce and rice vinegar, rounded out the motley crew into a delicious asian-inspired salad. It turned out to be just what I needed, and all that fresh clean protein and vegetable matter gave me the energy to make a quick dessert, too (recipe to come). This is shaping up to be a program I think I can stick to – at least when it involves meals like this.

Tuna, Carrot, and Edamame Salad for a Lazy Sunday

  • 1 can of tuna packed in water, drained
  • 1 carrot, grated
  • 1/2 c frozen shelled edamame
  • 1/2-inch piece of ginger, grated on a microplane
  • 3 Tbs rice wine vinegar
  • 1 Tbs soy sauce ( I used wheat-free low-sodium tamari)
  • 1 Tbs sesame oil
  • 1/2 tsp Korean red pepper flakes

Put a small pot with about 1 quart of water on to boil. Measure 1/2c frozen edamame and set aside. Grate the carrot into a medium bowl. Add the ginger, soy sauce, vinegar, oil and red pepper and stir with a fork. Scrape the tuna on top. When the water boils, add the edamame and cook until bright green and tender, about 4 minutes. Strain and dump into the bowl. Stir everything together and add more vinegar or soy sauce if you like. Eat with a fork while checking your RSS feeds for the first time in a week. Feel stronger.

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Filed under Main Dish, Meat & Fish, Pantry, Recipe, Vegetables