All happiness depends on a leisurely breakfast. ~John Gunther

Monday, August 25, 2008

berries and other cute little things

folks, it is berry week over at the ppk. what does that mean? it means delicious vegan berry recipes for everyone. day one kicked off with marionberry lavender scones. holy crap, people. I want those now.

one nice thing about Isa and the ppk blog: the comments are full of helpful information from curious cooks like yourself. I love the comments of most blogs and most cooking blogs in particular. but ppk readers (and writers) have a special way with enthusiasm and adventure that gets me psyched for a romp in the kitchen.

this is my puppy in 2004, right outside the kitchen, exhausted from romping. totally relevant.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

red lentil dhal

this recipe is so good that I sometimes find myself fantasizing about it and then I know it's time to whip up some dhal again. I originally got this off the Post Punk Kitchen website (see our links), so all credit needs to go to the amazing Isa. not only does it taste deee-lish, but I get to use my mortar and pestle! hm. both of those words look like better Scrabble words than they really are.

you need:
  • 3 tablespoons peanut oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, grated
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup dried red lentils
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 4-5 cups water or vegetable broth
  • 5 plum tomatoes, chopped
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 1 cup fresh cilantro
    • 2 teaspoons mustard seeds
    • 1 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
    • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
    • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
    • 6 cloves, whole
    • 4 cardomom pods
    • pinch of red chili powder (or more?)
    • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
you do:
first you toast all members of the spice blend - except the red chili and cinnamon! - in a saute pan over medium heat. stir frequently for about 5 minutes and then remove from heat. put all of the spice blend (including the missing duo) into your mortar and pestle and grind to a fine powder.

I'd like to make two notes at this point:
  1. you can also use a coffee grinder to blend the spices. this is fast.
  2. if you do decide to go the Amish route, have some good reading on hand. I chose the music issue of the Believer.
add oil to a soup pot and turn up to medium-high heat. add the onions and saute for five minutes. then add the garlic and ginger and saute for another five minutes. you'll want to stir fairly often so that nothing gets stuck to the bottom of the pan. add the spices and salt and then saute for five more minutes.
pour 4 cups of water and stir fully to deglaze the pot. add the tomato paste and the lentils. bring the pot to a boil and then lower the heat. leave uncovered and allow to simmer for 20 minutes.

hm. that doesn't look quite amazing yet. actually looks a bit like I'm making pizza in the bottom of a soup pot. must be time to add the tomatoes, lime juice, and cilantro! (if your dhal is too thick, you can add more water, but this has never happened to me.) let the whole thing simmer for another ten minutes and then you're good to serve. and your whole home will smell incredibly and you tastebuds will thank you. you can serve it on rice or plain.

I cooked up some potatoes and tempeh in the sauce pan I had used for toasting spices and added some garlic powder. it was a good complement, unless you don't eat tempeh.

I have forgotten nearly every ingredient in this recipe at one time or another and it's always tasted incredible. frequently I don't add the red chili. sometimes I skip out on the cinnamon. tonight I forgot the lime juice, but since that's pretty much in the last step, the dhal was already great by that point. I was about to make some sort of generalization about skipping ingredients added in the last ten minutes, but I realized that kind of attitude would land my sorry arse in detention should I try it in potions class. and clearly, if something doesn't work in Harry Potter, then it's not applicable in real life either.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

vegan blueberry grunts

As I threatened, I made the blueberry grunt featured in a recent post on VeganYumYum. I followed Lolo's recipe basically to a T, so I am not going to reproduce it here except for changes, suggestions, etc.

I made the one-big-grunt-steamed-in-a-pan version. Not as cute as the individual grunts, but I think less work. They came out pretty well - well enough that gina marie, roommate emily and I all cleaned our plates. I think that next time i will make smaller "pieces" of grunt though, not cook the blueberries down so much, and maybe have a higher berry to dough ratio.

the wet stuff... I had two plastic boxes of blueberries, and gina marie had a handful of leftover raspberries and strawberries and I popped those in too.

berries simmered for about 20 minutes - probably a little too long. I guess I thought they needed to be really thick to hold up the biscuit. Not actually true!

My attempt to "cut" in the earth balance. I mushed it as best I could with a fork and then put it in the fridge.

added the soymilk - I only had unsweetened vanilla, so that's what I used. I should have taken my rings off first.

really should have taken off the rings. I maybe shouldn't have used my hands because hands are warm, but I wasn't sure how else to manage it without overmixing.

this was tricky, I had no idea what I was doing - I should have followed instructions and made *bite-sized* biscuit pieces, but they were so sticky!

it was weird looking, but pretty.

lid on! no peeking - except I have a clear lid!

and done



Monday, August 11, 2008

august blog number two - veganyumyum and lolo

I was at a fantastic birthday party for Ms. Chloe the other night, and I met a famous vegan foodblogger. Lolo's blog, VeganYumYum, is pretty right on. She has lots of beautiful pictures of vegan baked goods and other animal-free food including special cupcakes for knitting night (she was totes on Martha Stewart) and something called blueberry grunts - which I am dying to make, both because they look awesome, and because I am committed to making all kinds of cobbler-family desserts in a vegan way.... (see my blueberry buckle of 2007...)

Since VeganYumYum doesn't have a logo, I am including the latest post's gorgeous picture... Lolo says that she wants to do something with red currants and peppercorns! I am waiting excitedly to see what she comes up with next....

Thursday, August 7, 2008

august blog - if they let me get away with it

sarah elisabeth and gina marie might veto my nomination for blog of the month. it's not really a cooking blog. it is, however, a blog about the perils and delights of eating. or decorating, rather. Cake Wrecks is one of those sites that makes you real glad we got the internet. basically, it's a collection of hideous cakes - and there are so many reasons why a cake can be hideous. I never knew. my personal favorite (so far) is the cake someone made for a podiatrist. on a technical level, it's an impressive cake. on a culturally sensitive level, however...

things to do with polenta

way simple, way yummy:

slice some basil and garlic polenta into rounds about 1/2" thick. place on a baking sheet. wash and slice a beet or two into rounds about the same thickness. maybe it's a big beet, in which case you can halve your beet rounds. put one beet piece on top of each polenta round. take some fresh basil and place a few leaves on top of your polenta-beet cakes. you can also use fresh oregano. (I did half and half.) drizzle olive oil on top of the whole mess.

bake in the oven for 40 minutes at 320 degrees. serve. also tastes great the next day.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

pumpkin biscotti

I've wanted to make biscotti since I saw a friend do it and realized that the fancy Italian name does not actually mean this is complex and agonizing. it's no soufflé, folks. last night I mentioned to gina marie that I had found a pumpkin biscotti recipe and kind of wanted to make it. once she gave me permission (I was using her kitchen, after all), I set off to work with help from the folks at

what you need:
  • 2.5 cups of white flour
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 0.5 teaspoon nutmeg
  • pinch of ginger
  • pinch of salt
  • pinch of cloves (which I left out)
  • 2 eggs
  • 0.5 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
what you do:
preheat oven to 350.

sift together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and spices. cool? cool. then, in a separate bowl, combine the beat the eggs, then add the pumpkin puree and vanilla. mix it the wet ingredients together. it will look really gross.

combine the wet and dry ingredients. I, of course, used more pumpkin than recommended. if you do this, pay attention during the combination stage. you may need to add more flour to add balance, as you're making dough and not pumpkin puree served on a bed of flour.

knead the dough. you'll probably need more flour on your hands than you would think, so either keep it nearby and ready to go or just double up before you begin. despite the intense flouring, you don't need to go nuts with kneading. just do a quick knead, adding more flour if the dough is too loose.
lightly grease a baking sheet and form the dough into a flat rectangle - 20"x7" or thereabouts. if you're like I am, you'll have no idea what those measurements mean. in that case, think about the size of your biscotti: do you want long biscotti or something more manageable? call upon your baking ideals and pop the dough into the oven for 22-30 minutes.

I pulled this guy out of the oven and thought to myself, "I've made ugly bread." let it cool for 15 minutes. then take a serrated knife and cut into 1"-wide pieces.
turn the oven down to 300 degrees and cook for an additional 15 minutes or 20 minutes. I think I could have left mine in for 20-25 minutes, but that's post hoc suspicion. let biscotti cool completely. they may still be a bit chewy, so just leave uncovered and let the magic happen. yum! so much pumpkin goodness! give to your friends! pretend you're Italian! get excited for autumn!

still to come: arty shots of biscotti that I took last night while dinner was cooking.

Monday, August 4, 2008

mayonnaise is not my friend

it's true. it's not. that's mostly why i never like cole slaw. but you know what is my friend? fennel. also,, which found me a recipe for cabbage and fennel cole slaw. which did have mayonnaise, but you know what? i didn't hate it. this is how you do it:

.quarter, core, and very thinly slice a head of cabbage
.wash the cabbage (i washed first and it was not easy. i think you wash after you slice)
.chop 2 heads of fresh fennel in half and slice very thin (you get cute little U shapes)
.the joy of cooking says save the green fennel stalks for broth. or don't.
.thinly slice/grate one very large carrot

put it all together in a big bowl. in a small bowl, mix:

.3/4 cup mayonnaise (or not that much if you hate it like me)
.1/2 cup sour cream
.2 tbs fresh lemon juice (1/2 a lemon pretty much)
.1/2 tsp sugar
.1/2 tsp hot sauce (with mayo? gross, right? actually, totally not gross!)

mix. eat. yay! mayonnaise and i still aren't friends, but we got along for a day.

guacamole with what's in our kitchen

(read to the end of the recipe first! if you don't, you might be sad!)

so, sometimes i want to make guacamole because the avocados are actually ripe, but i forget to buy everything cilantro and tomatoes. oops. this is what happens:

.chop 2 avocados pretty small
.chop 3/4 of a red (purple?) onion really small
.squeeze all the juice out 1/2 lime. squeeze a lot.
.steal a small handful of tomatoes out of sarah elisabeth's salad (don't tell! the salad had enough to share)and chop them really small too
.find two slightly old hot peppers from the farm share in the fridge. remove hot seeds and insides. chop them super super tiny. (if your hot peppers aren't old and wrinkly, maybe you only need one)
.add a little bit of salt. just a little!

stir with a spoon. then stir some more. then stir some more. if you used super ripe avocados like me, it will get supersmooth. who needs a blender? not me.

now you're done. actually, now you should repeat the whole thing with two more avocados, because this was good and i was sad that there wasn't more guacamole. or you should have doubled the recipe in the first place...

(hopefully, you read the note at the top, and read down to here, and you doubled the recipe in the first place and don't have to run out of guacamole and be sad like i was yesterday!)

.eat! with chips, maybe? the end.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

party food

gina marie and sarah elisabeth had a housewarming to welcome their new roommate, emily, and her cat, bartlett. Some food was made in this process.

sarah elisabeth made some pasta salad. she didn't have enough dressing, so sarah emily brought her some. so nice! Here is what was in it:
1.5 diced farmshare cucumbers
1.5 diced tomatoes from vermont
some chopped scallions
1 diced red pepper
1/2 diced yellow pepper
bag of fusili, cooked, drained, and then rinsed with cold water to cool it off
about 1 bottle of newman's own olive oil and vinegar salad dressing
then you toss is (I do it with my hands!)

emily made peanut noodles. secret recipe. looked like it involved peanut butter and scallions. They were *really good*.

kristen had bought some little mozzarella balls and left them at our house. perfect! we also had some leftover basil. I bought the snazzy heirloom cherry tomato mix at whole foods, added some olive oil and pepper... and voila!

and in motion...

gina made cole slaw. hopefully she will share her special recipe with you on this blog? it involved farmshare cabbage!

This is some salad dressing I made. it involves aged white wine vinegar, olive oil, salt, pepper, and grey poupon. and a little squeeze of lemon.

the dressing was to go on this salad. the salad included farm share lettuce (2 kinds), farm share cucumber, tomatoes from vermont and scallions.

gina made *really* good guacamole too, but I don't have a picture of that.