All happiness depends on a leisurely breakfast. ~John Gunther

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

experimenting with cilantro and avocado

so, as i often do, i ended up with an avocado and nothing to do with it. and the other day, i ended up with a *huge* bag of cilantro in addition to that avocado, and even though i would happily eat guacamole for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, i decided to try something new. so i found a recipe for tofu fajitas, and made them without the fajitas (but this is the recipe that i basically copied: so it basically went like this:

chop some garlic
slice a whole red onion
get some frozen peppers (because that's what we had, not suggested, they were kinda lacking in taste)
cube a big chunk of tofu and marinate in the juice of an oldish lime (again, what was in the fridge) and cumin

those things all went in a pan with some olive oil, and then i added a *lot lot lot* of chopped cilantro at the last moment, and chopped avocado. and then i ate it and it was good. and then i went to babysit. the end.

note: this is a less than triumphant return to the food blog, but things i'm good at (breakfast sandwiches, and....well, that's kind of it) will follow...

easy, breezy, beautiful snow peas!

I really like the Minimalist, a New York Times column on making good, simple food. sometimes the dishes are not what I would personally cook for myself, but I appreciate the sentiment behind them. this week's featured dish is Chinese snow peas. it's crazy easy, but looks so tasty. I've linked to the recipe, not the column, so be sure to check out the article that accompanies the 2 steps that make up the instructions.

another great Minimalist column: how to cook with your microwave. it includes a recipe for a steamed chocolate pudding that is, according to the experts, quite good.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

food thoughts with gina marie

who out there has been wondering where gina marie's posts have gone? (sarahs emily and elisabeth raise their hands.) I now present an interview on food with the missing blogger:

1: What is the best food anyone has ever made for you?
corn chowder out of a bag. does that count as "made"? otherwise, my grandma's escarole soup.
2: What is the one thing you cannot make but would most like to learn how?
sushi! and curry. and corn chowder!
3: If you were to be chased by an item of food in a dream, what is it most likely to be and would you defeat it?
probs. the stay puff marshmallow man, so marshmallow. and i would call the ghostbusters.
4: Is there a food that you hated as a child but love now? Or vice versa?
i loved ghostbuster cereal, now not so much.
5: What three items do you need for a successful spring picnic?
watermelon, brie and green apple and mustard sandwiches, and lemonade.

heed her wise advise in question 5, folks. go outside for a picnic and bring supplies!

a call for polenta recipes

my friends, I have a dilemma. I love polenta. I love all kinds of polenta. this is not the dilemma. the dilemma is that all the recipes I have for polenta involve making the polenta, not what to do with the polenta once it has already entered into existence. sometimes I cut rounds of polenta and grill tofu and basil and tomato on top of it. sometimes I cut rounds of polenta and saute it with salt and pepper. but that is it. that's all I've got. and that is what we call a dilemma.

please send polenta recipes. or suggestions. or encouragement. I just need to re-jump my imagination. I need a slap on the back of the head from the polenta fairy.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

sylvia makes risotto!

someone reads our blog and makes the food! sylvia has posted some pictures of chard risotto on her flickr ... check it out!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

lightly battered tofu (wwggwe)

to begin: W.W.G.G.W.E. stands for, "Which Will Go Great With Everything." I think wwggwe is an underlying philosophy of my cooking. garlic would fall into the wwggwe category, although it's not a recipe.

to continue: this recipe came to me via sean, who adopted it from his ex, who is - I hear - a formidable cook in her own right. if I were to judge based on this recipe, I would heartily agree.

you will need:
*one package of extra firm tofu, drained and pressed
*1/3 cup whole wheat flour
*1/3 cup cornmeal
*1/3 cup nutritional yeast
*salt to taste
*seasoned salt or garlic salt to taste
*plain soy milk
*olive oil
*a ziploc bag

combine the cornmeal, nutritional yeast, whole wheat flour, and salts in the ziploc bag. odds are that you'll want more salt than you'd think to put in, but that amount varies for everyone. if you're the sort of person that needs specifics, start with a tablespoon and go from there. seal the bag, shake so that everything is mixed, and set aside.

slice the tofu as you see fit. when dealing with a block, I like to slice it in half width-wise, creating two half-inch high rectangles. you can either make tofu "fingers" or cubes - whatever tickles your fancy. the important thing is to make sure your cut leaves the tofu with sides large enough to batter and brown. slivers won't work here, darlings.

pour the soymilk into a dish or tupperware container. you'll want enough in there so that you can coat the tofu. the exact amount will vary based on the size and shape of your dish. take about half of your tofu slices and coat all sides with soymilk. they don't need to be saturated, just wet enough so that the batter will stick. the tofu pieces go from the soymilk into the ziploc bag. pop the suckers in, seal the bag, and give it a good shake. you may want to do a little...massaging to make sure that every piece is getting coated on all sides.

heat a healthy amount of olive oil in a large, low saucepan. when the oil is hot, drop the tofu in. cubes can be done in two batches, tofu strips will need more than that. after a few minutes, flip one piece over. if it's golden brown on the bottom, flip the rest. cook for a few more minutes and then remove when the second side is a similarly wonderful golden brown color.

it make take a few tries to get the process down. I end up coating the second batch while the first one cooks, but if you have a partner in crime, you can have a continuous loop of coating and cooking. this recipe is so yummy. it is wwggwe for seri.

mac n cheese photo essay (recipe on the way)

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

vegetarian tacos

That is the one picture I remembered to take. I wanted to make the point that there were a *lot* of ingredients.
I have been meaning to post about vegetarian tacos for ages - it's a signature dish of mine that, as usual, I got from my dad. Every time I would make them though, I forgot to take pictures.

I was all set when I made them last night (with some help from kristen and gina and margaritas from susan) before bluegrass at Cantab to take pictures so I could post. And I did take one picture. And then completely forgot about it (blame the margaritas).

I will try to post the one picture tonight, but in the meantime, I will post the recipe, since I don't make it that often. The thing about tacos is that they have a very dynamic cost/benefit analysis. They are waaay not worth making for one person, but the amount of work to make it for 6 or 8 people is almost the same as to make it for one person. So I like to do it for parties. Plus good leftovers.

Most of the taco process is just chopping. Everyone likes their own stuff for tacos. This is my basic list of cold accoutrement...

chopped fresh tomatoes
chopped scallions and cilantro mixed in a bowl
lettuce sliced into strips
grated extra sharp Cabot cheddar
home-made guacamole (kristen made it. it was excellent)
sometimes sour cream, but I don't think it's necessary

For the hot stuff:

one can of vegetarian refried beans (or refried black beans, of you're not doing whole black beans) - spread into a dish and put into the oven for a good long time at about 400 degrees.

once can of black beans, rinsed and drained. I heat this over the stove with 1/3 of a diced red pepper, and sprinkle some chopped cilantro over it at the end, because it's pretty.

tofu. This is the "meat" of the dish. I actually generally don't like tofu, but I think this is pretty good. To do it:

Grate half of a large, peeled carrot.
Dice one medium yellow onion.
Press one block of extra firm tofu. (To press tofu, I wrap it in paper towels and gently but firmly apply pressure, putting on more paper towels as they become soaked. Some people use cloth towels and lay a big book on top of it. whatever floats your boat!).

Start by saute-ing the diced onion in a liberal drizzle of olive oil. I use a stainless still skillet.
when the onions are about halfway to translucent, I add the tofu. You want to "scramble" the tofu - so you want the pieces to be rough, not diced, and not to little so that they get mushy. I usually cut the block in half with a knife, and then tear each half into three or four pieces with my hands and then drop it into the skillet. Then I use a spatula to roughly chop it up some more while mixing it with the onions. Let that cook until the onions get closer to translucent. Then combine the grated carrot into the skillet with the spatula. about three minutes later, you can add 2/3 a packet of taco seasoning (I usually use Old El Paso) and 2/3 cup of water. stir and let simmer on low heat until the water is absorbed, stirring occasionally.

In the meantime, you want to heat an 1/8 inch of corn oil in another skillet over very low heat. You will know the oil is hot enough if flicking a little water into it the water "jumps" back out. When the oil is nice and hot (turn on the hood vent - hot oil smokes and will set off your fire alarm!) use tongues to drop a corn tortilla in the oil. wait two seconds, flip the tortilla, and after about 3 more seconds, pull it out. when the tortilla is in the oil it should bubble and hiss a bit. If it doesn't it's not hot enough. Lay the tortilla on a stack of folded paper towels, and press down on the top of it with another stack of paper towels. This absorbs the oil so the tortillas aren't too greasy. when the towels are saturated you will need new ones, or else the oil won't get absorbed and the tortillas will stick to the paper towels and break. now fold the tortilla gently in half and set it on a platter.

Once you have your tortillas fried and your tofu has absorbed all the water, you are ready! put everything in pretty containers on the table and let people take what they want.

I am about to go eat my leftovers for lunch now!

(it's vegan without the cheese!!!)

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

leisurely breakfast: the perm edition

sometimes, you just need to look a little different. you want something newer, nicer, more hip. something the kids at school will love/hate-because-they're-jealous. like getting a perm in the 1980s. it instantly made you cooler and fluffier and just like everybody else.

...which is why we've added a links section to the blog. we know lots of folks who have great blogs and we also spend a lot of time putzing around on the web, looking for recipes that will solve our dining dilemmas. the interweb is kind of an integral part of our cooking experience and it only makes sense that we bring that to the blog as well.

blog of the month: Damn Good Food to Go. this is my sister's blog about owning a restaurant. you're more likely to find anecdotes about people's inability to read menus than recipes, but I highly recommend it. (I also highly recommend you check out the restaurant if you're ever in key west.) unfortunately, she can't post too often because she works so frickin' much, but when she does it's worth it.

p.s. when reviewing the perm imagery that serves as the intro for this post, please picture something along the lines of what you might find on the cover of a sweet valley high book. that was the driving force behind this very special post.

Monday, April 7, 2008

take no prisoners soup

my goal this week is to use only items that I have in my house and not purchase any new groceries. oh, and cook with them; eating toast each night would be falling far short of my goal. tonight's project: soup.

  • 8 cups of water
  • 3 tsp veggie bouillon sauce or cubes
  • 1 cup or so red lentils
  • 1 bag of spinach
  • 1 yellow pepper
  • 1 can of corn
  • 3 shallots
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 2 veggie burgers
  • paprika
  • curry powder
  • garlic powder
  • olive oil
put water and bouillon on the stove in a large pot at high heat. chop the shallots and garlic well. defrost the veggie burgers. chop half the bag of spinach and add to the broth. dice the pepper and add to the broth. add generous dashes of curry powder and paprika. in a separate pan, saute the onions and garlic in olive oil. crumble the veggie burgers into the pan and add generous dashes of garlic powder. add the corn to the broth. when the veggie burger starts to brown, turn the heat off and add the mixture to the broth. put the lid on, set the timer for 40 minutes, and then post to your food blog while waiting to see if what you made is any good.

you know what? it's totally not bad. like lentil vegetable soup, which, I guess, it is.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

step up succotash

when I was in high school, one of my friends prepared a dish called 'white trash succotash' it consisted of corn, lima beans, salt, and butter and - despite its offensive name - was ridiculously tasty considering the few ingredients. she simply sauteed the corn and lima beans in butter, sprinkled salt over the whole mess, and scooped it out to eat. tonight I wanted something easy, quick, and not terrible for me. what I came up with is what I'm calling Step Up Succotash, since it's a step up from the succotash I first knew and is also a step up from the days where calling things white trash was acceptable.

  • 1 pepper, chopped into small squares
  • 1 onion or 2 small scallions, which is what I had lying around
  • 1 can of corn
  • 1/2 avocado
saute the onion/scallions in oil or butter until they start to get that nice smell. toss the pepper in and saute, followed shortly by the corn. add a pinch of salt and mix every so often, making sure nothing is burning. after about ten minutes, take it out of the pan. I had some brown rice cooking, so I put it on some of that. then chop half an avocado into the bowl and mix everything up. add salt to taste.

it's pretty. also, it was clean-tasting and fresh. I think this is one of those recipes that is going to have variations upon variations. next time I might try lima beans as well. the point for me was not to have something mind-boggling delicious, but something that tasted like the food it was. I feel like there are endless possibilities. I kind of want to look up different succotash recipes and see how they can be revamped.

in other news, I had incredible veggie sushi this weekend. if you're ever in brooklyn and find yourself in park slope, go to mura. stat.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

sarah elisabeth's oatmeal

I often eat oatmeal for breakfast. I use regular oats - not quick - and it's still fast enough for me to do before work unless I'm in an uber-rush. I've been meaning to share oatmeal with the blog for awhile, but I kept forgetting, but since I'm on a roll here, I present to you my morning oatmeal for one.

Take a half a cup of oats and 1 cup of water and pour into a small saucepan (I usually use a different pot, but it was in the dishwasher. I also usually buy my oats in bulk at whole foods, but I was out and bought a box of quaker oats and stop and shop the other day, so that's what's in the pictures. I think it's a little gooier, but it's fine.)

The rule for oatmeal is like rice - for every unit of oatmeal add twice as much water. (1 cup of oatmeal, 2 cups of water, 12 cups of oatmeal 24 cups of water, 3/4 cup of oatmeal 1.5 cups of water) Usually I just add the oatmeal first, and then whatever container I used to scoop the oatmeal, I use to measure out the water.

Turn the heat on high - but watch closely so that you can turn it down as soon as it bubbles. while you're waiting and watching, add a handful of sliced almonds, a handful of raisins, and 8 shakes of cinnamon. Stir it (I usually use a wooden spoon, but the regular spoon you're going to eat it with is OK too.)

When it bubbles, turn the heat down as low as it goes. Stir often, almost constantly. I get out the bowl, spoon and sweetener at this time, stirring between each getting.

After about 5 minutes the oatmeal should not be liquid-y anymore, and it should start to almost stand up in the pot if you build towers of it with the spoon. Some of it will inevitable stick to the bottom - don't stress about this. If it starts to burn then you either have the heat up too high, there's not enough water, you didn't stir enough, or it's just done and you should eat it!

Spoon/pour the oatmeal into a bowl. -- a word on sweeteners here. In general I rotate between three different sweeteners - applesauce, brown sugar, and maple syrup. If you are using brown sugar or apple sauce, I recommend putting them in the bowl first and then spooning the oatmeal on top of them. I was using maple syrup this time though, so I poured it on top.

Now stir and eat. it's good for you.

In terms of modifications - they are infinite. You can add pretty much anything to oatmeal - fruit and dairy products particularly lend themselves, but I've seen success with other things! My grandmother likes blueberries and milk, some folks are fans of bananas, when I was hiking we used to add GORP to the cream of wheat - and sometimes to the oatmeal too. M&Ms or chocolate chips, peanuts, dried cherries, butter, cubed apples, soy milk, whatever you like, really.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

vegan split pea soup

My friend Christopher is having a vegan potluck this Friday in order to give my friend Jarrett the opportunity to talk a little bit about Stone Soup Farm and his CSA program (there are still farmshares available at the Harvard Square pickup location - check it out: ) and to try everyone else's yummy food.

I knew I wouldn't have time to cook Thursday or after work Friday before the potluck, so Wednesday was the time to get it done - but I needed something that would last. I've gotten really into this other foodblog - - and I had been interested in making her split pea soup, so I decided to give it a shot. I was especially excited to try the smoked paprika, which I had gina marie pick up for me at stop & shop today. The recipe came from here: - and I varied a little bit, but mostly I stuck with her plan.

I sat in the living room since folks were over and I chopped two onions.
Once I was done, I returned to the kitchen and stirred the onions and some salt in with some olive oil over medium heat in my big soup pot.

Next I poured a bag of split peas in a bowl and poured some water in, swirled it around, and then poured it out the water slowly and used my hand to keep the peas in the bowl.

once the onions were soft I poured the peas in.
Then I poured in 5 cups of water and half a veggie bullion cube. The I stirred, turned the heat on medium, and let it simmer while I watched TV. When I remembered I stirred, and I got nervous it was getting too thick about 10 minutes in and put the lid on most of the way.

When the peas were soft - and the water mostly absorbed, I got out my immersion blender. I poured half the soup into a bowl, and then blended the stuff still in the pot. Then I poured the stuff in the bowl back into the pot, and stirred in the juice of half a lemon and a few sprinkles of smoked paprika and a little more salt. I heated it for a minute or two to get everything to gel.

Then I turned off the heat and put the soup in a heavyduty tupperware. I'm going to bring smoked paprika and olive oil and lemon zest with me to prepare little bowls at the potluck that look as pretty as the ones on!
If I remember I will take pictures at the potluck and let you all know how it came out!

I took a picture at the pt luck yesterday - but I forgot to bring my camera, so all I have is the a picture from the phone. I swear it looked prettier in person! I skipped the lemon zest, but I brought the olive oil and the smoked paprika so that folks could "season" their soup, and this is the "sample" that I made so that people would know what to do:

chard risotto -- vegan (or not!)

I bought some rainbow chard at the stop and shop yesterday because it looked good and seemed right for the season. I knew I was making dinner today, but had no idea what I would make! At work I looked up recipes that had swiss chard and I was thinking I wanted to make soup, but most of the chard soups had anchovies in them - and I wasn't interested in making that tonight. But then I found a list of recipes including chard and - and it had a cool risotto recipe in it in addition to a soup with anchovies, so risotto it was! The recipe is here: - all of the chard recipes are on that page, and it made me want to try some more!

First I took a bunch of rainbow chard and cut out the stems - I'm saving them for later - but not sure what I'm doing with them! then I tore it in large pieces and put it in a colander and washed the leaves.

Then I put the chard leaves still with some water on them in my saute pan and turned the heat on medium and put the lid on. Every so often I used some tongs to stir it around.

I chopped an onion and sarah emily chopped 4 cloves of garlic. I added those with two shakes of powdered cayenne pepper to a soup pot with the bottom covered in olive oil. I put the heat on medium low and stirred.

Once the chard was cooked I spooned it into a bowl to cool. I deglazed the pan with some white wine so that I could take advantage of the chard juice that was left over.

when the onions looked soft I added half a cup of risotto rice and stirred it in so that it was coated with the oil and onions and garlic and cayenne. Then I poured my delgazing wine from the saute pan over it and added 4 cups of vegetable stock to the pot. I turned the heat up to medium high until it bubbled.

While I was doing that, sarah emily chopped the now-cool chard into small pieces. after about 40 minutes, with occasional stirring, the rice started to seem cooked and it really thickened up - I was worried it wasn't enough rice - but a little goes a long way! when it was thick but still a bit liquid-y I stirred in the chard and added some pepper. after about 3 minutes it looked hot and good and it was ready!

I set out some fake and some real parmesan and the four of us ate everything. it was really pretty good!