27 October 2011

Chickpea and Artichoke Side Salad

In my book, chickpeas and artichokes are natural BFFs.  I cooked up this side in about 5 minutes and had leftovers the next day. Tasty warm and tasty cold, this side goes well with rice and other sides like steamed broccoli, sliced pears, or tomato soup.

An insect managed to procreate within my ground coriander bottle, so I didn't add any coriander to this recipe. The garbanzo beans did fine on their own, but feel free to experiment.

Artichokes and Chickpeas with Warm Spices

1 4oz. jar artichokes, drained and rinsed
1 15 oz. can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
a few shakes of ground cumin
1/4 tsp. ground turmeric
a few shakes ground ginger
a pinch of ground cinnamon

In a fry pan, heat some vegetable oil. Add spices. Cook 30 seconds.
Add chickpeas, combine with spices, and heat up while stirring occasionally.
Meanwhile, chopped up the artichokes into small pieces.
Add the artichokes to the chickpeas. Heat through and serve.

23 October 2011

Pumpkin Dinner Rolls

If you happen to know me outside the fantastic world of the Internet, you know how much I adore pumpkins. My mother still calls me Pumpkin occasionally. Kay gave me a wallet in the image of a glittering pumpkin for my bachelorette party. She also kept a back-up for herself when I wore out the first with gleeful overuse, which I already have. In Japan I cooked weekly recipes with the Japanese pumpkin, called kabocha, which required peeling, seeding, and hewing into rough chunks; the resulting delicious orange goodness completely validated my labor. 

I own a cookbook entirely devoted to the pumpkin; no other foodstuff has earned such an honor on my shelf. (Aside: Ye Orange Cookbooks that Do Not Feature Copious Pumpkin Recipes Should Be Ashamed of YeSelves!) I use the pumpkin cookbook frequently, but I also collect recipes from the Internet that augment the cookbook's slim offerings.  Today's recipe comes from such Webly roamings. These pumpkin dinner rolls scratched my itch for hot fresh fluffy rolls, for the gentle sweetness of pumpkin, and for something golden and round. They go amazingly well with hot tea and soft butter and somehow improve in flavor while they cool, reaching their peak around 8 hours later.

For the original recipe for 48 rolls, go HERE. Tammy has many great pictures and comments from delighted readers that will convince you to make this immediately. Below I provide the original recipe halved, which is great if you want to use a bread machine or mixing bowl for the mixing, kneading, and rising. With the original recipe, the dough gets so huge it's hard to manage. One other edit: Tammy suggests constantly greasing and buttering everything, but George and I experimented a little and found that most of that added fat was completely unnecessary for turning out rich, moist, and golden rolls.

The pumpkin aspect of these rolls is pretty faint—just enough to give extra satisfaction and sweetness and color. Therefore these rolls won't interfere with any Thanksgiving plans for pumpkin soup or pumpkin pie or stuffed pumpkin or pumpkin lattes. You could even use the rolls to compliment any savory pumpkin dishes; they will provide only the gentlest echo of my beloved squash.

Pumpkin Dinner Rolls

1/2 Cup sugar
1/4 Cup warm water
1 Cup warm milk or soy milk
1/8 Cup unsalted butter, softened or melted
1 Cup canned pumpkin
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 Cup whole wheat flour
5-6 Cups bread flour or unbleached all-purpose flour
3 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast

Note: If you have a standard bread machine, you can make the Steps 1-4 in the bread machine on the "Dough" setting.

  1. In a large bowl, mix sugar, water, milk, butter, pumpkin, and salt.
  2. Add whole wheat flour and 3 1/2 to 4 Cups of white flour and yeast. Mix.
  3. Continue adding white flour and kneading until dough is elastic and not sticky.
  4. Cover dough with a damp towel and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 to 1 and 1/2 hours.
  5. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Punch the dough down. With a sharp knife, divide it into equal thirds. Then divide each third into 8 pieces. Flour your hands and shape each piece into a ball. Space evenly on baking sheets. Spray the tops of the rolls lightly with oil (optional).
  6. Cover with a damp cloth and let rise 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 350º F.
  7. Bake 15 to 20 minutes until the tops are golden.
Makes 24 rolls. Serve in a bowl lined with a clean cloth.

18 October 2011

Currant Scones

I'm already privately calling them "Monday Scones," because I managed to finish enough homework over the weekend to have time Monday morning for the 25 minutes of cooking and clean-up that these scones required. I think it's good to remind oneself Monday morning that you are a human being and that your emotions count for something in life. So get up a little early, slip on thick fluffy robes and slippers, whip up the scones, stick them in the oven, clean up the dishes, make some tea or coffee, set out butter and cutlery, remove the scones from the oven, plop them on the table, and enjoy breakfast for a relaxed stretch by yourself or with that special someone who still looks cute before showering.

The base recipe for these scones can be found in the British Isles section of Sundays at Moosewood Restaurant, but I honestly think the original recipe would disappoint in comparison to mine. To boast unashamedly, my scones are solid, fruity, and perfect in proportion. The recommended raisins would overwhelm these little bites, the lack of whole wheat would give you hunger pains in a little over an hour, the amount of sugar would make it too sweet, etc. George also found these scones excellent, so they may become a weekly or monthly tradition on Mondays.

You could use a smaller proportion of whole wheat if you desire, but I recommend you stick with soy milk rather than cow's milk if at all possible. George and I have learned that that soy milk reliably lightens the texture of baked goods and gives them a more pleasing feel; these scones are kind of dense, so the lightening effect of the soy milk is key. And don't worry, it doesn't give bread a beany flavor at all.

Monday Currant Scones

1 1/2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small cubes and brought to room temperature (in about 10 minutes)
1 1/3 Cup unbleached all-purpose flour
2/3 Cup whole wheat flour
1 1/2 Tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 Cup currants
3/4 Cup plain soy milk

a roll of parchment paper and a baking sheet

  1. Preheat the oven to 450º F. Make sure your rack is in the middle. 
  2. In a large mixing bowl combine butter and flour. Use a pastry cutter first to cut them all together and then stick your hands in there and squish the lumps. You don't have to be a fanatic about it, though.
  3. Stir in the sugar and salt, then the currants. Slowly stir in the soy milk. Use your hands to form the dough into a smooth ball.
  4. Lightly flour a large surface and a rolling pin. Roll out the dough to 1/2 inch thickness, which is really kind of thick. If you get it too thin, just reform the dough into a ball and do it over.
  5. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. This will save you many calories in butter and several precious minutes of futiley scrubbing your baking sheet in the sink.
  6. Cut out roughly 2-inch rounds; we did it with a 2 1/4 inch fluted biscuit cutter and they looked great, as you can see. Reform the scraps into a ball, roll out, and repeat. With the last scraps just sort of mush them into a round shape. 
  7. Line the scones up on the baking sheet, stick in the oven, and bake 20 minutes.
  8. Do all the dishes.
  9. Make a nice hot pot of tea or coffee. Set out butter, plates, mugs, and knives.
  10. Serve the scones piping hot. After 5 minutes or so you may be able to request special favors from one of the recipients!
*About the flowers in the picture: They are called straw flowers, and they make fantastic cut and dried flowers. They also take an amazing amount of abuse in the garden; this summer they survived deer, drought, overheating, Hurricane Irene, etc. I highly recommend them if you want a cheerful bouquet that will keep its color all winter.

    15 October 2011

    Omelette Rice

    Zombies walk among us. I know because yesterday I was one of them. But I invited Gavin over for dinner anyway because it was Shabbat and I just wanted to have a calm, civilized dinner at home. After 2 hours of trying to plan a simple dinner that I could make while exhausted, I gave up, called Gavin, and told him I was just going to have to make a frozen pizza. Then I took a short nap.

    Twenty minutes later, I sprang up, human again, and remembered the Japanese comfort dish Omu Raisu. I've never eaten Omu Rice because it usually contains chicken, but I've seen it in many pictures plus this great scene from Tampopo, the most delightful meditation on food ever filmed:

    In this scene a bum breaks into someone's house and make a little boy some vegetarian Omu Raisu. He cooks the omelette with chopsticks! The Japanese are crazy physical geniuses.

    I did not exactly make Omu Raisu, but it served as my inspiration. I cooked some hot fresh rice in my rice cooker. Then I filled small bowls with chopped onion, chopped tomato, chopped bell peppers, some fresh baby spinach, some shredded chedder, and chopped avocado. All of these ingredients remained from previous cooking ventures.

    The jewel of my left-overs was a head of roasted garlic from our garden. Roasted garlic works wonders squeezed into savory dishes, mashed potatoes, or on top of fresh-baked pizza. All you do is wrap a head in aluminum foil and bake it at 400º for an hour (you can do this while cooking a sweet potato or something). You can store it in the refrigerator at this point if you want. Then you slice off the very top and squeeze from the bottom; all that golden goodness oozes out.

    I didn't bother trying to fold the egg over—an invariably messy and disappointing proposition. Instead, after the eggs had set over the sauteéd vegetables, I sprinkled the avocado and cheese on top and covered the fry pan with a lid for a minute. Once all the cheese and melted and bubbled, I divided the omelette into 4 equal parts like a personal pan pizza. I served each part over a bowl of fresh hot rice and offered taco sauce, hot sauce, Pick-a-Peppa sauce, and sour cream as condiments. 

    George didn't like it. Gavin enjoyed his so much he started spooning George's leftovers into his mouth. And I really, really enjoyed it with taco sauce and sour cream. In my mind, I was eating American Sarah's Omu Raisu.

    Omelette Rice

    1 and 1/2 Cups dry rice, washed and cooked

    1/2 Cup chopped onion
    1 large steak tomato, chopped
    1/2 Cup chopped peppers, broccoli, or vegetable of choice
    1 head roasted garlic
    several handfuls fresh baby or chopped adult spinach

    4 large eggs

    1/2 avocado, cubed
    1/4 Cup shredded cheese

    Optional Condiments: taco sauce, ketchup, sour cream, fresh herbs, hot sauce, etc.

    1. Put on rice to cook. When it's done, keep it warm.
    2. Meanwhile, heat up a medium wide fry pan on medium low heat with some oil or butter. Sauté the onion until softened, darkened, and giving off a mellower scent.
    3. Add the tomato. Cook one minute. Add peppers or optional vegetables. Sauté 3 minutes or so until they seem mostly cooked.
    4. Squeeze in roasted garlic. Mix. Add spinach and cook down.
    5. Meanwhile, beat eggs together. You can add a little milk or soymilk. Salt and pepper to taste.
    6. Make sure vegetables are evenly distributed in fry pan. Pour egg mixture over. When the eggs start setting, gently lift edges with a rubber scraper/ spatula and tilt the pan so runny egg on top trickles under.
    7. When most of the eggs aren't runny any more, sprinkle avocado and cheese evenly on top. Cover with a lid and wait 1 to 2 minutes.
    8. Turn off the heat and divide into sections. For each person put a layer of rice in the bowl and top with some omelette. Offer condiments.
    Serves 4.

    13 October 2011

    No Cooking Lately, plus Hot Mulled Cider

    Sorry I haven't been updating lately! My mom visited and cooked a freezer-full of homemade food for me, so I don't need to cook much lately. Hopefully I can get a good plum torte recipe up soon.

    In case I haven't posted my Hot Mulled Cider recipe before:

    One enormous jug of old-fashioned apple cider (NOT apple juice)
    1 stick cinnamon
    2-4 whole cloves

    The key ingredient here is time.  Pour everything into a big pot, cover, and set over your lowest heat setting for 1.5 to 2 hours. Taste it. It should taste rich and delicious. At this point, you can start serving for a day-long autumn festival, or you can take it off the heat and stick it in the refrigerator. It will taste delicious cold or reheated.
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