Archive for May, 2009

Chocolate Peanut Butter Pops

May 31, 2009

chocolate pops

Sneh at Gel’s Kitchen is hosting an event called No Time to Cook, highlighting recipes that can be made in 15 to 20 minutes.  This month’s theme is chocolate.  I haven’t mentioned this here before, but for the past month and a half or so, I’ve been avoiding eating sugar, for reasons that I’ll probably end up explaining soon.  So I wanted to make something that was naturally sweetened.  One of the best natural sweeteners is banana, and it works really well in these simple, quick, pops.

chocolate pops 04 chocolate pops 08

Chocolate Peanut Butter Pops

  • 2 ounces unsweetened chocolate
  • 1 very ripe banana
  • 1 small or 1/2 of a medium avocado
  • 3 tablespoons peanut butter
  • milk or almond/soy milk to thin the mixture
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Melt the chocolate over medium heat.  In a blender or a food processor, combine all ingredients and a few splashes of milk.  Blend until completely homogeneous, adding just enough milk to get the mixture to come together.  In the end the mix should be about the consistency of thin pudding.  Pour into popsicle molds and freeze. That’s it!

How to Charm a Vegan: Spinach Mushroom Quiche

May 28, 2009


I’ve got a great recipe for you.  I don’t know if you have vegan friends, but I definitely do.  Here’s the thing with vegans.  A lot of them are really great cooks.  They’ve got to be inventive, and hence, they’ve figured a thing or two out in the kitchen.  However, when vegans go to other people’s houses (non-vegans I mean), they’re often left picking at sides and salads.  It’s sad!  There’s so much good vegan food out there for both vegans and non-vegans to enjoy.  This quiche, or “Viche”, as my friend dubbed it (vegan quiche=viche, get it??) is delicious whether you’re vegan or not.  My inspiration for this recipe came from 101 Cookbooks, where Heidi takes a very similar approach but puts it all in a tart pan.  Very elegant, I admit, but I like my quiches to have a little bit more depth.  I also changed up some of the seasoning.  So give it a shot, it’s a real crowd pleaser.  

Despite the long-looking recipe, it’s acutally really easy to put together.  I’ve to a few how-to photos for you below.

You’ll start with the crust.  The whole thing comes together in a food processor, and then you press it into the pan. It’ll be a bit crumbly.  Guess what?  It doesn’t really matter if it’s neat or not.

To make the filling, you start with the onions.  You guys know the easiest way to chop an onion, right?  Well, if not, here’s how!  Cut the onion in half, and then make vertical cuts that go almost all the way to the butt of the onion.

At this point, you can also make some horizontal cuts, but I don’t really think that’s necessary.  I just  start slicing across the onion, and it just about dices itself.  That’s it!

You’ll throw the onions and mushrooms in a pan with some olive oil and the seasonings, and then you should really take a break with a glass of wine while you wait for the onions and mushrooms to cook.  

TDon’t worry if your kitchen starts to get a little messy!

I don’t have pictures of the rest, but you don’t need them.  I just wanted to make sure you knew the easiest way to cut an onion.  Here’s what the quiche will look like right before you put it in the oven.  When you take it out, it’ll be brown, but I didn’t get that shot because this was a last minute endeavor and the Viche needed to be whisked off to a potluck.  Oh well, maybe next time.

 

Vegan Spinach-Mushroom Quiche Recipe

For the crust:
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/4 cup almond meal
3/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour or whole spelt flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly milled black pepper
1/3 cup unflavored soy milk or water
1/3 cup light sesame oil or pure olive oil plus more for brushing the pan

For the filling:
7 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup finely diced onion
10 ounces white button mushrooms, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons dry white wine or water
1 1/2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 1/2 teaspoons coarse sea salt
3 garlic cloves, slice crosswise into 1/8-inch rounds
1/2 teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme leaves
Pinch hot red pepper flakes
1 pound firm tofu, rinsed and patted dry
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast (optional)
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 pounds fresh spinach

Preheat the oven to 350

Combine the oats and almond meal in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Add the flour, baking powder, salt, and pepper, and process until the oats are finely ground.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the soy milk (or water) and oil. Using a wooden spoon, mix in the dry ingredients to form a dough. Alternatively, add the soy milk and oil to the food processor a little bit at a time and pulse until combined with the dry ingredients.

Lightly brush a standard pie pan with oil. Put the dough in the pan. Place a piece of plastic wrap on the dough and press down evenly, making sure to work the dough up the sides of the pan. Trim the tart of any excess dough and refrigerate while you make the filling.

To make the filling, in a wide saute pan over medium heat, warm 2 tablespoons of the oil. Add the onions, mushrooms, cumin and turmeric, raise the heat to high, and saute for 10 to 12 minutes, stirring and shaking the pan until the vegetables are caramelized. Add the wine and scrape up any brown bits from the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon. Season with 1/2 teaspoon of the salt and continue to cook until dry. Using a rubber spatula, scrape the vegetables into a mixing bowl and set aside.

In a small saucepan over medium heat, warm the remaining 5 tablespoons of oil. Add the garlic, thyme, and red pepper flakes. Simmer gently for 3 to 4 minutes or until the garlic is golden. Do not let the garlic brown or it will become bitter. With a rubber spatula, scrape the garlic oil into the bowl of a food processor.

Crumble the tofu into the bowl of the food processor. Add the lemon juice, vinegar, soy sauce, nutritional yeast and remaining 1 teaspoon of salt and puree until smooth. With a rubber spatula, scrape the puree into the mushroom-onion mixture. If the mixture is a little bit dry, add some more lemon juice or soy sauce.

Remove and discard the tough stems of the spinach. Wash the leaves in a large bowl with several changes of cold water. Transfer the spinach to a pot and cook, covered, over high heat for several minutes, just until wilted. Drain in a colander and rinse under cold water to stop the cooking. Drain well and squeeze dry in a paper towel, or clean terry cloth. Transfer the spinach to a cutting board and chop fine. Add the spinach to the rest of the filling and stir well to combine.

Fill the crust with the tofu and vegetable mixture and smooth the top with the back of a spoon. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes,until firm.

Let the pie cool for 8 to 10 minutes before slicing and serving.

Yield: 6 to 8 servings

Sneh’s 10 Fondest Food Memories

May 26, 2009

This next top ten comes from Sneh of Gel’s Kitchen. I just discovered this blog and am already loving it. Sneh is also hosting an event, No Time to Cook, which I talked about in this post. These are some wonderful memories. Thanks Sneh!

  • My earliest food memory goes back to the time when I was 4 years old. It was my first time kneading dough for wheat flatbreads (chapatis). I was fascinated by how water worked itself into the flour to make this dough that got smoother and tighter as you kneaded it. I still remember the smell of the flour and the high I got as I molded and shaped and reshaped the dough as I fancied.
  • Another memory that I remember fondly triggers everytime I smell fresh chapatis being roasted on the pan. My mum used to make hot chapatis when I got back from school, each puffing up into a golden ball speckled with delicate browns. She used to butter them, sprinkle them with sugar and roll them up nice. One of the yummiest things I have ever eaten.
  • On my honeymoon in Bhutan, Nick and I used to trek alongside the Paro river with a box full of eggs hard-boiled in our hotel room using a water-filled container and a coil heater. After a leisurely breakfast sitting on the white rocks, watching the river flow with not a soul in sight, we used to hold our cans of lemon tea in the ice-cold running water, instant chilled drinks!
  • Hunting for a reasonable sized frozen turkey in Singapore for Thanksgiving. Finding only a 5kg one. Buying and stuffing and roasting it. Then since it was only Nick and me, eating it for the next one month [after freezing large portions of course!]
  • A few years ago I iced my first cupcake and it was love at first ice. I still remember going nuts with the sprinkles and colors. I loved it! So when Nick threw me a baby shower, I insisted on making 30 gorgeous cupcakes, each one unique with a different frosting and sprinkles, candies and all the bells and whistles. It took me 4 hours and I had a blast!
  • Buying Fish & Chips off a nice little eatery along Bondi’s beach stretch and feeding the whole thing to the seagulls flocking around us begging for more, over one hour on the beach!
  • Nick and Rivs baking their first ever chocolate cake with ganache, specially for my birthday last year. It was sinful and delicious. I still remember watching them potter around the kitchen, making a mess, asking me where things were and everything covered in chocolate. Priceless!
  • Discovering Rotiboy in the food court of Singapore’s Parkway Parade Mall. Oh boy, do I miss Rotiboy!
  • The omelette bar at a resort in Indonesia had this brilliant showman of a cook who made custom omelettes on the fly and you could pick your stuffings and toppings. It was quite an experience.
  • Dinner on the beach with sand sifting through our toes, candles flickering in glass domes, the waves lapping right upto our table and music and chatter drifting off this fantastic Grill restaurant a little further up from us as we watched the stars and the cargo ships lit up like christmas trees on the horizon. The food was fantastic, the charred aroma of meat being barbecued the most tantalising thing I have ever sniffed, Nick and my last meal as non-parents, utterly romantic and one of the reasons why I get teary-eyed everytime I think of Singapore.
  • No Time to Cook: Chocolate!

    May 25, 2009

    Good morning! I want to step out of my usual role as resident food nerd to tell you all about a wonderful event hosted by Sneh at Gel’s Kitchen, No Time to Cook.

    The idea is to share a recipe that can be prepared in 15-20 minutes. I am very excited about this event- I love a good challenge, and when that challenge involves chocolate, well, all the better. So head on over to Gel’s Kitchen to check out this wonderful event. You’ve got until May 31st so send in entries.

    I’m not quite ready to share my entry with you, but here’s a little hint…

    little bit of beauty for sunday

    May 24, 2009

    Happy Sunday everyone, enjoy it.

    *Oh, and Wednesday is the last day of my event! So get those entries in!!

    Sometimes the simplest things…

    May 23, 2009

    …are just so damn beautiful.  Wouldn’t you say?

    Plutosangel’s Top Tens

    May 22, 2009

    Here’s another wonderful list of top ten food-related memories from Plutosangel at One of a Grind. I love envisioning the “dal” in number 3. I had so many failed cooking experiments as a kid, so I love stories like that. Enjoy! And thanks to Plutosangel!

    1. My late grandmother once bought a miniature ceramic tea set for me. I would drink cups and cups of ”tea” (read: water) from it and offer everyone their cups. My sister and grandmother would play along for hours with me.

    2. My kiddie battery operated Kitchen Set. I fell in love with it the minute I saw it. There was a 75% discount sale in that store, and you wont believe it but I actually pushed everyone and bought it before anyone could even read the carton.

    3. My first attempt at Dal. I was 7 I had seen my mum make dal and assumed it was really easy. I filled a glass with water and mixed turmeric, salt and (a tablespoon of) asafoetidia. Then I stirred it and took a sip. I almost threw up.

    4. The first time I made Chocolate chip cookies with my sister. Sis started getting bored of making multiple batches and suggested that we make one chocolate chip cookie with all the batter rather than many.

    I didn’t understand what she meant by that so she explained, “I mean instead of many chocolate chip cookies lets make one CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIE” she said that in a hoarse voice and a really distorted expression to emphasise the size. I almost died by laughter that day. :D

    5. On our Holiday in Dubai we went on the Desert Safari and ate the most exotic kababs on earth. I did a foolish thing I thought I was being greedy and left one skewer which turned out to be the best one. (I stole a couple of pieces from my sisters plate- So I was greedy anyway :P

    6. Once on a holiday to a hill-station during the monsoon we bought some of the freshest, most delicious radish, the sweetest corn and the juiciest carrots. I don’t think I’d ever eaten vegetables that tasted so good

    7. Id- Ul-Fitr every year is the most awesome time (probably the only real festival we have anyway) Sheer Kurma and Qurbaani Mutton Biryani just gets better every year

    8. I love getting assorted chocolate boxes as gifts. My sister and I would read the label and the description of each type of chocolate and rate them according to preference.

    9. Samosa Pav at my School Cafeteria and Chinese Bhel at my College Cafeteria. Not to forget the Paneer Schezwan Frankie outside school. The Mix Fountain Soda was another School favourite. It’s a unique combination of Sprite, Pepsi and Fanta. Too bad they stopped it because it was unhealthy for the kids (Spoilsports)

    10. My first experience with Chello Kabab at Blue Nile in Pune. Its flavoured rice with Seekh Kababs. The dish looks dull and flavourless but the minute you mouth a spoonful, you’re in Heaven. We always eat there when in Pune.

    Photo from Romanlily via Flickr

    Audrey’s Top Tens

    May 21, 2009

    Here’s another list of top ten food-related memories from Audrey, who’s got a new blog, Superfine Spot. Go check it out! Here are her memories, short and sweet.

    1. age 3, throwing a tantrum bc the restaurant didn’t offer french fries on the menu
    2. age 6, thinking i was soooo “grown-up” for eating Haagen Dazs coffee ice cream
    3. age 9, eating 12 grapes on new year’s at midnight with my grandma to symbolize good luck in the year ahead
    4. age 11, baking a chocolate mousse pie with rum from nytimes
    5. age 13, getting food poisoning from “pigs wrapped in a blanket” appetizers and becoming a vegetarian..
    6. age 17, one word: Starbucks
    7. age 18, granny smith apples + crunchy peanut butter + honey + cinnamon
    8. age 21, chilean sea bass- first animal protein in 8 years
    9. age 24, stock piling gigantic apples straight from a local farm
    10. age 30, discovering the two best ways to make kabocha- thanks to food nerd

    photo by 莎小莉‘ via flickr

    Too good not to share: Maple-Oat Thumbprint Cookies

    May 21, 2009

    I can’t keep these a secret any longer. These are some of the simplest and most delicious cookies I’ve ever made. They are everyday cookies, for sure. There’s nothing decadent about them. But who wants decadent all the time? Most of the time I just a little satisfying bite that’ll pick me up. These cookies do that, and in addition, they can be thrown together in three minutes flat, they have no white flour or refined sugar, and they fill the kitchen with the warmest, most comforting aroma while they bake. Oh and everyone loves them. These guys are just about perfect.

    I have no idea why it’s taken me so long to post about these cookies. But here goes. Don’t wait to make these, there’s just no reason to deny yourself.

    Also, I’ve submitted these cookies to CLICK, a photography event hosted by Jugalbandi.  The May theme is Cookies.  Go check it out here.

    Ingredients
    makes about 30 small cookies

    -1 cup almonds (roasted or raw), or 1/2 cup almonds, 1/2 cup walnuts
    -1 cup rolled oats
    -1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
    -pinch sea salt
    -1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
    -1/2 cup safflower or olive oil
    -1/2 cup maple syrup
    -1 banana

    -zest of half a lemon


    Directions

    1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Lightly oil a cookie sheet.
    2. In a food processor, chop nuts and half the oats into coarse meal.
    3. In a large bowl, combine nuts, oats, flour, salt, and cinnamon. Add the lemon zest and mix.
      Add the oil and maple syrup to the dry ingredients. Mix lightly.
    4. Roll into walnut-sized balls. Place on an oiled cookie sheet. Press an indentation in the center with thumb.
      Press a slice (or a chunk, depending on size of cookies) of banana into each indentation.
    5. Bake 15-20 minutes, or until bottoms are lightly browned. Cool 10 minutes.

    Changing it up

    May 19, 2009

    So I made the executive decison that I’ll post the food memories lists one at a time until the deadline.  That seems so much nicer to me.  It means that you can all enjoy each list on its own.  Also, I just wanted to thank Naomi at Rockstar Diaries for inspiring this little collection of lists.  She’s collecting lists of things that make people terribly happy.  Go check them out.

    And here’s the first list, from Sarah, who has a wonderful blog, The Application of Heat.

    1.  Being forced to drink grapefruit juice with my graham crackers in pre-school.  To this day, I *hate* grapefruit and all of it’s juices!

    2.  Having the best meal of my life with my husband on our honeymoon.  It was in Monterrey, California at a Trattoria.  The meal was: Smoked Salmon Ravioli in a Gorgonzola Cream Sauce with King crab legs.  It was amazing!

    3.  Eating turkey and Swiss cheese sandwiches with pickles and chips with my best friend while watching ice skating competitions.  We either ate this in the living room on the couches or in her parents room on TV trays.  Go Brian Boitano!

    4. Not getting to taste the amazing (according to my family members) Strawberry Baked Alaska that my brother made and took to a family thanksgiving.  I think I chose some other pie instead and when I came back to try it, it was all gone.  You have to choose wisely and/or eat fast in my family!

    5.  Making cakes from boxed mixes with my little sister when we were kids.  Go, go sugar high!

    6.  My mother often cooked things we didn’t like, like brussle sprouts.  We hated them because they were always horribly overcooked (she now makes lovely brussel sprouts).  She made us sit at the table until we ate them (much like meatloaf, see the post below).  One time, my brother and I decided we had to find a way out of eating those disgusting garbage bombs.  So… we threw them on the ceiling!  And they stuck! We were so proud of ourselves.  We almost got away with it too… except when Mom came in to find our plates empty of brussel sprouts one fell off the ceiling and plopped onto the floor.  Busted!  That was a fun night of cleaning for us!

    7.  Shopping at the farmer’s market in Lancaster, PA with my best girl friends and then going home to grill kebabs.  I pine for a year round Amish farmer’s market here…  and to hang out with my best girl friends again!

    8. The first year I started a vegetable garden from scratch and ended up with a million tomatoes.  I over-estimated the amount of plants I would need.  The bounty was wonderful!

    9.  The time I tried to make soy sauced chicken in my wok and burned it so badly a thick acrid smoke filled the house.  There was a 1/2 inch thick crust of “burned” on the bottom of the wok…  Also similar to the “Ham Bone Soup” incident.  The story is the same, except replace “soy sauced chicken” with “Ham and Bean Soup”.  I received a lot of guff from my roommate for that one… :D

    10.  Having a food fight when I worked as a cook in the kitchen of a camp.  There was all this leftover strawberry mousse from a cake roll we had made… it was the end of camp… what else could we do?

     

    Thanks Sarah!


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