January 1, 2012

Yay for Mark Bittman!

His NYTimes articles are just great. And this article--with a list of easy-to-make vegan recipes--is just particularly fantastic.

And now I have a recipe I definitely want to try on a cold night in January... Sweet Potato Stew.

December 7, 2011

My Plan For Christmas: Draft 2

I don't know why, but I love the act of coming up with my plan for Christmas. My first draft is here. But I've had a chance to narrow and specify the plan a bit. Also, we just took a trip to Montreal. So in this second draft of the plan, there are crepes! And maple syrup!

Things to be prepared the day before:
* Deviled eggs
* Fruit salad and/or fruit plate
* Spicy dressing for potatas bravas
* 20-layer crepe cake, with a little apricot jam in some layers
* A plate of deli meats (prociutto, salami, sopressata)

Things to cook on Christmas morning:
* Figs or dates wrapped in bacon (they can be prepped the day before and baked that morning)
* Potatas bravas
* Gimme Lean vegan breakfast sausage
* Platter of bagels, cream cheese, tofu cream cheese, smoked salmon, tomato, and onion
* Warm, mulled cider
* Coffee, sweetened with maple syrup (something else from Montreal and totally delicious)

November 20, 2011

Beautiful Kale Salad (for Thanksgiving)

I had the best kale salad a few months ago at Beauty & Essex, and I wondered if I could recreate it. The kale in the salad seemed so, so, so tender and mild, that I wondered if it was a young kale marketed specially to restaurants.

But it turns out the salad is remarkably easy to recreate, and it uses just standard kale found in the average grocery store.

Beautiful Kale Salad
Inspired by a salad served at Beauty & Essex.

1 large head of organic kale (flat leafed or purple)
1 large organic granny smith apple
3-4 slices of free-range thick-sliced bacon, cooked, chopped
1/3-1/2 cup of chopped honey-roasted nuts (preferably walnut or pecan)
1 lemon
a few tablespoons of organic, cold-pressed olive oil
some crumbled ricotta salata
salt and pepper

1) Cook the bacon so that it is crispy but not too crispy.
2) After washing and drying the apples and kale, cut the spines from the kale. Roll the kale leaves gently, then cut into thinner slices. Cut the apple into matchstick french fry sized pieces.
3) Toss the kale, apple, bacon, and chopped nuts together with the juice of 1 lemon and the olive oil.
4) Add salt and pepper if you like.
5) Top with crumbled ricotta salata.

Here is a picture of the Kale & Apple salad served from Beauty & Essex. The photo comes from an article by the NYPost.

October 28, 2011

My Plan For Christmas

So, I'm slowly developing a plan for Christmas brunch. This year I'm thinking of a tapas style.

This is what I have so far:
* Gougeres (French Cheese Rolls)
* Figs or dates wrapped in bacon
* Potato puff pastry
* Cheesy polenta waffles
* Gimme Lean vegan breakfast sausage
* Poached pears
* Warm, mulled cider

I figure as I come up with ideas, I'll add them here to this post. Then come December, I'll have a whole list of possible recipes!

October 9, 2011

There is a God: Peanut Butter, Chocolate Chip, & Pretzel Cookies

I've often been completely disappointed with most homemade peanut butter cookie recipes I've tried. They're never good enough. Usually they end up not peanut buttery enough. Even the flourless type ends up not being good enough for my palette, because to compensate for the lack of flour, they contain a decent percentage of sugar. And the sweetness slightly overwhelms the peanut butter flavor.

So, I've often thought about making a "slightly flourless" peanut butter cookie. Inherently, a regular peanut butter cookie recipe but with less flour, in order to make the peanut butter more prominent. But I know: To add the flour, I'd need to increase the moisture.

And that's what I did. And they turned out GREAT. First try!

Peanut Butter, Chocolate Chip, and Pretzel Cookies
These are remarkably similar to the cookies I just ate from Sigmund Pretzelshop, which makes me happy. The only thing is that their cookies were bigger in size and a little saltier. I think in the future, I might add a touch of salt to this recipe.

1/2 stick of butter (room temperature)
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 cup peanut butter
2 T. honey
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 large egg
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 cup chocolate chips or chunks
6-7 large salted pretzel rods, crushed
Makes 20 chunky cookies.

1) Beat the butter, granulated sugar, and brown sugar together.
2) Add the peanut butter, honey, and vanilla. Mix.
3) Add the egg. Mix.
4) Add the flour and baking soda. Mix.
5) Add the chocolate chips and crushed pretzel rods. Mix.
6) At this point, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
8) Butter the cookie sheets lightly. Roll the dough into balls, and place the balls about 2 inches apart. Gently, with your three middle fingers held together, press down into each ball just so that it is a little squashed.
9) Bake for 10 minutes.
10) Let cool 2 minutes. Then enjoy.

Pictures from the process:

October 4, 2011

Mmm, Cookies

So the theme of this blog is eating with health and the environment in mind--buuuttt, lately all I want to do is make cookies!

Yesterday, I bought an amazing cookie from food vendors in Madison Square Park. It was a huge cookie: peanut butter, chocolate chip, and big pretzel pieces. I would have loved a few more pretzel pieces thrown in there, but even so, it was a fantastic cookie.

The vendor was Sigmund Pretzelshop, and they have a regular location on Avenue B.

I think my next cookie recipe experiment will be to mimic the flavors in this cookie but in the form of a bar: a blondie brownie, with peanut butter, chocolate chips, and lots of broken-up pieces of pretzels.

Here is an image of the "Wanko" cookie.

September 30, 2011

Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookie with ZEST, Part Deux

So for the last post, I came up with a cookie recipe. This recipe involved various stuff (nuts, orange zest) added to a base recipe I found online. The base recipe involved only 1 stick of butter and some milk, which was a little unusual.

The cookies were fantastic, flavorful, tender--buuutt, a day or so later, they turned dry and crumbly. They completely lost their pizazz.

So I decided to try the same flavors but with a different base cookie recipe--a more typical base recipe involving 2 sticks of butter. This time, here we are a few days later, and the cookies still have a fantastic texture, chewiness, and flavor. Hoorah!

Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookie with Orange Zest, Dried Cherries, and Walnuts
(An adaptation of a basic chocolate chip cookie recipe )

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 sticks of butter, room temperature
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1/2 cup fair-trade dutch-processed cocoa
1 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (crunched by hand)
1/3 cup dried cherries (each ripped in half or chopped)
zest of 1 orange

1) Beat both sugars, butter, and vanilla in a mixing bowl until fluffy.
2) Add the eggs one at a time. Mix.
3) Add the cocoa, flour, baking soda, and salt. Mix.
4) Add in the chocolate chips, dried cherries, walnuts, and orange zest. Mix.
5) Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
6) Drop spoonfuls of dough onto the cookie sheets, about 2 inches apart. Bake for about 9-11 minutes. Let cool on the cookie sheets before taking off the cookie sheets.

While my husband and I really love these, I already have Variation #3 in mind. A minor change, but I think it could be significant. This past variation had the right flavor and maintained its composure over time. But I think the dough was too thick (I think caused by the addition of the cocoa powder), so the cookies are more cake-like. I think if I diminished the flour to compensate for the addition of the cocoa powder, the cookies might have a touch more of the consistency I am going for.

1 3/4 cups
all-purpose flour (up to 2 cups if the consistency of the dough needs it)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 sticks of butter, room temperature
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1/2 cup fair-trade dutch-processed cocoa
1 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (crunched by hand)
1/3 cup dried cherries (each ripped in half or chopped)
zest of 1 large orange, or 2 regular sized oranges

Pictures from Variation #2