Sunday, May 29, 2011

Fava bean tart

Based on the "green tart" in Crank's Fast Food, Lester's nice Brit-vegetarian cookbook. The puff pastry could have puffed more, but the fava beans and extra lemon zest are a definite improvement over the original.

3 pounds fava beans in their pods, about 2 or 2.5 c after shelling
1/3 c shelled English peas
1 sheet frozen puff pastry, defrosted
olive oil
1 leek, white part sliced
5 garlic cloves, minced
1 green onion, white and green parts sliced
1 TJs can artichoke hearts, halved
4 oz spinach, roughly chopped
zest and juice of 1 Meyer lemon
1/8 t ground nutmeg
2 eggs, beaten together
salt and pepper
slices of brie

Spend a sunny afternoon shelling fava beans in the backyard. Come inside for a moment to blanch the waxy-coated fava beans in some boiling water for a few minutes (3-ish) and rinse them in cold water. Bring them back outside, and use your fingernails to remove the actual fava beans from their waxy coating. Shell the peas while you're at it.

Preheat the oven to 450F and flour a large baking sheet. Place the puff pastry on the baking sheet, roll it out into a large rectangle, and poke the middle part where the filling will go with a fork. Get the veggies prepped if they aren't already.

Saute the leek, garlic, and white parts of the green onion in some olive oil. Add the artichoke hearts, fava beans, peas, and as much of the spinach as will fit in your pot. Cook over medium-low heat until the spinach is wilted and most of the liquid is evaporated. Add the rest of the spinach, along with the lemon zest, nutmeg, and green parts of the green onion, and cook until all the spinach is wilted and the beans are tender. Turn off the heat and stir in the eggs, lemon juice, and salt and pepper.

Dump all of the filling onto the puff pastry, even though it looks like a lot, and spread it into an even layer that covers the forked part. Cover loosely with foil and bake for 18 minutes. Lay the brie slices on top, remove the foil, and bake uncovered for another 6 minutes until the egg is set and the brie and veggies have a few toasty spots. Cut into six slices (1-2 slices per person) and serve with boiled fingerling potatoes.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Cabbage salad with peanut sauce

Usually I'm not much of a salad person, but this looked worth a shot. The sauce is especially nice, quite thick and flavorful--actually, it would probably be a good place to start if I ever want to work on recreating Thai Tom's tofu swimming rama (one of the Seattle foods that I just can't find a substitute for down here). And all the fresh crunchy veggies are good too, of course.

1/3 c peanut oil
1/4 c rice wine vinegar
3 T soy sauce
1/3 c creamy peanut butter
2 T brown sugar
1" square hunk ginger, peeled and grated
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 finely minced birds-eye chili, seeds withheld
juice of 1/4 large lime

Use a fork to whisk together all the ingredients in a bowl. If you're adding the ingredients in order, the peanut butter will take a bit of stirring to incorporate, but it will get there.

1/4 very large green cabbage, thinly sliced
1 red pepper, thinly sliced
2 large persian cucumbers, grated
1 carrot, grated
handful cilantro, chopped
3/4 c peanuts
things I didn't add but considered: buckwheat soba noodles, avocado

Toss the veggies together in a large bowl, then pour on half the sauce and toss to combine. Add a bit more sauce if you want--I ended up using about 3/4 of the sauce in total.

West-coast Bagels

Similar to a half-batch of these guys. (Someday I will find a copy of Peter Reinhardt's Bread Baker's Apprentice in a used book store and I won't have to link to other people's blogs for his recipes anymore; that day has not yet come. And yes I do want that book instead of Artisan Breads Every Day.)

If I hadn't started making these on a Friday night after getting home from the bar at 10:30, I would have done the whole sponge bit. Sadly, the result was softer and breadier (ie more west-coast) than my bagel experiment last summer (which was really quite east-coast). Next time I'll try the sponge and see if that fixes it.

in the evening, with at least 1-1.5 hr remaining before bedtime:

1 T yeast
4 cups bread flour
3 T gluten
1 1/4 cups warm water
1.5 t salt
1 T barley malt syrup

parchment, spray grease, semolina, baking sheet, garbage bag, twisty tie

Put everything in a mixing bowl and stir to combine. Dump onto an unfloured surface and knead for 10 minutes, incorporating any stray floury bits as you go. As with any relatively firm dough, a good kneading technique is to use pushing and tossing type motions with the heels of your hands to move the dough around the surface, instead of say poking at it with your knuckles from different sides while keeping the dough mostly in the same place. The extra gluten will make the dough start feeling moist on the outside more quickly than usual (this is also what will make it chewy later), and the dough will start out stiff but soften up over the course of the kneading without becoming at all tacky. Cover with a cloth and let sit on the surface for 20 minutes.

Get out a baking sheet, line it with parchment, spray with spray grease, and sprinkle lightly with semolina. Move things around in your fridge to make sure you have enough room for one baking sheet; if you happen to have room for two, prepare a second baking sheet the same way. Cut the dough into 8 pieces, gently tuck the ends under so they don't dry out, and cover the not-yet-shaped dough pieces with a cloth.

With each piece of dough on a still-unfloured surface, roll out into a rope that's about twice as long as your hand is wide, with slightly tapered ends and a slightly thicker middle. If the dough is sliding instead of rolling, sprinkle a few drops of water on your surface to make the surface of the dough just a tiny bit sticky. Place one hand, palm up, over the center of the rope, and fold both ends over your palm using the other hand. Give the ends a little squeeze to stick them together, then turn your hand over and roll the ends together between your fingers and the surface (sprinkling more water as needed). Continue to roll around the rest of the bagel, attempting to achieve a constant thickness but kind of failing. Place on the baking sheet, remembering that you will probably be trying to fit on 7 more bagels in a few minutes.

Repeat with the rest of the bagels, cover them with the cloth, and let rest for 20-30 minutes. When they start to get puffy, remove the cloth. Spray the inside of a garbage bag with spray grease, slide the baking sheet inside, make as airtight as you can with the twisty tie, and put in the fridge overnight.

in the morning:

1 tablespoon baking soda in several inches of boiling water in a wide pot

Get up and take the bagels out of the fridge. Set them on the counter and untie the twisty tie so they can get some warm air circulating around them. Go back to bed for 45 minutes, then preheat the oven to 500F and start boiling the water. Prepare a second baking sheet by lining with parchment, spraying with spray grease, and sprinkling with semolina.

When the water is ready, transfer two bagels into the pot (or as many as comfortably fit) with a slotted spoon/lifter; they should float immediately. Boil for 30 sec - 1 min on each side and enjoy watching them get all puffy and weirdly spongy-looking. Lift out of the water, let the excess water drain off for a couple seconds, then set on the fresh baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining bagels, filling up the new baking sheet with the first 4 bagels to make room on the old baking sheet for the last 4 bagels.

Now would be the time to add some toppings, but I didn't. Now is also about when the oven should alert you that it's preheated--stick the two baking sheets on the middle two racks of the oven. Turn the heat down to 450F and bake for 12 minutes until very golden and crispy on top, switching racks halfway through. Cool on a cooling rack for 15 minutes then eat for breakfast with jam and cream cheese, or for lunch with cream cheese, roasted beets, and cucumber.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Shelled pea and artichoke paella

This is generally how to make paella, as far as I can tell. Substitute the peas and artichoke hearts with anything else you feel like. If your main ingredients are less acidic than canned artichokes, add some white wine or more lemon juice for extra zing.

generous pour olive oil
1 small onion, sliced
4 cloves garlic, crushed and minced
1 small portabella mushroom, sliced
~dozen cherry tomatoes, quartered
1 t paprika
2 c hot water
1 cube not-chicken broth
generous pinch saffron
1 bay leaf
1 c sushi (or arborio) rice
1 can artichoke hearts, drained and quartered
juice of 1 large Meyer lemon
a bit more than a pound English peas, shelled (1/2 c or more)

Heat the oil over medium in a large thin-bottomed frying pan. Add the onion and garlic and cook until translucent, then add the mushrooms and cook until all the liquid has been absorbed/evaporated. Add the tomatoes and paprika and cook until broken down and saucy. Meanwhile, assemble the broth by stirring the stock cube, saffron, and bay leaf into the hot water. Stir the rice, artichoke hearts, pepper, and lemon juice into the tomato sauce until well combined, then cover the rice with about a cup of the broth. Leaving the heat on medium and without stirring, let the rice cook uncovered for 10 minutes. Sprinkle the peas over the paella and continue to cook until the rice is done and the peas are tender, about 10-15 more minutes. To help it cook evenly, move the pan around on the burner from time to time, and pour a few tablespoons of broth onto parts that are looking dried out on top (I ended up using all the broth). Turn off the heat and cover with a lid for a few minutes while you set the table, then serve 2 or 3 housemates, making sure to scrape up the nicely caramelized bits that are stuck to the bottom of the pan (this is why you didn't stir).

Mocha chip ice cream

When I was growing up, the mocha chip ice cream from Purity was one of my favorites. The secret is using finely flaked chocolate instead of larger chocolate chunks or chips, which makes a surprisingly big difference in the fullness of the flavor; I wish that would catch on with more ice cream companies. Besides that, it's just the coffee ice cream from the Weinstein book, and it's at least as good as I remember it.

1 c whole milk
3/4 c whole coffee beans
3 egg yolks
1/2 c sugar
2 t flour
1/2 t salt
1.5 c heavy cream
1 t coffee extract
4-5 oz dark chocolate

Heat the milk and coffee beans together in a saucepan until simmering, then cover and turn the heat down and let brew for about 20 minutes. Meanwhile, whisk together the egg yolks and sugar until light, then stir in the flour and salt. (If it's lunchtime, I recommend cooking the reserved egg whites with some thinly sliced portabellos and arugula, and using that along with some black bean dip and cheddar as a filling for a quesadilla type thing.)

Now that you're done with lunch, scoop the coffee beans out of the milk and reserve (any good ideas for what to do with them?). Slowly whisk the hot milk into the egg mixture, then pour back into the saucepan over low heat. Stir continuously with a wooden spoon until the custard thickens, which mine never actually did--instead it went through a transition where the white creamy foam on top dissolved into the rest of the liquid, then another transition where the egg yolk just barely started solidifying on the bottom of the pot without thickening the liquid above it. That seemed like a good time to call it quits, so at that point I poured the mixture through a strainer into a mixing bowl. Slowly whisk in the cream and coffee extract, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for a few hours.

Grate the chocolate in the food processor or by hand. Churn the ice cream for 10 minutes, add the chocolate, and churn for another 8 minutes until it looks and tastes exactly like a Purity mocha chip milkshake. Scoop into a quart-sized tupperware and freeze for a few hours until dinnertime.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Peanut butter cup ice cream

If you have a busy barbecue agenda the next day, this can be whipped up in the few minutes before bed after finishing the batch of egg salad. This is my first "real" aka custard-style ice cream, where you stir hot milk into beaten eggs then heat the mixture until thick but not scrambled. The technique mostly worked for me, and the resulting texture just after churning is much thicker, creamier, and generally ice-cream-like than the other frozen desserts I've made so far. This is a 2/3x batch of the recipe in the Weinstein book, makes 3-4 cups.

1/2 c sugar
2 eggs
2/3 c milk
1/2 c peanut butter (creamy, no-stir)
1 c heavy cream
1.5 t vanilla
3/4 c TJs mini peanut butter cups

Whisk the sugar and eggs together in a mixing bowl. Heat the milk in a small or medium saucepan over medium-low heat until a skin forms on top and bubbles start forming underneath it. Slowly pour the milk into the eggs, whisking with the other hand. When combined, pour the proto-custard back into the saucepan and heat over low, stirring with a wooden spoon, until it thickens quite suddenly. Turn off the heat, place a strainer over the mixing bowl (to catch any solidified eggy bits), and pour the custard through the strainer into the bowl. Stir in the peanut butter until smooth, then stir in the cream and vanilla. Place the strainer over a quart-sized container (to catch any large peanut butter bits) and pour the mix into the container. Cover and refrigerate overnight. In the morning, churn in the ice cream maker for 13 minutes until thick and smooth, add the peanut butter cups, and churn for another few minutes while poking at the ice cream with a plastic spatula to keep it moving. Scoop back into a quart-sized tupperware and freeze for a few hours before bringing to Mike's end-of-the-world barbecue.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Asparagus, snap pea, and egg salad

All week I'd been looking for a reason to make Orangette's egg salad, and Alan's birthday barbecue tomorrow sounded like the perfect occasion. But by the time today came around I was sans mushrooms but in possession of all these springtime vegetables from last weekend's farmer's market, and this variation (verging on full-scale re-imagining) seemed like a good idea too. Makes about a quart.

olive oil
2 leeks, sliced
1 bunch asparagus, stems cut on the bias into bite-sized pieces, tips reserved
amount of snap peas equal in volume to the asparagus, ends trimmed off
8 hard-boiled eggs, roughly chopped
2/3 c mayonnaise
juice of 2 Meyer lemons
heaping spoonful whole-grain dijon mustard
3 T finely chopped mint (specifically, pineapple mint from the balcony)
salt and pepper

Chop the veggies and get the eggs cooking if they aren't already. Saute the leeks in the oil over medium heat for about 10 minutes. Add the asparagus stems and cook for a few minutes until brightening, then add the asparagus tips and snap peas and cook until everything is bright green and both a bit tender and a bit crunchy. Take a quick break to eat the sausage, cauliflower, and kale soup that Lester's been making on the other half of the stove, and peel and chop the eggs while he has seconds. Transfer the veggies to a mixing bowl and gently stir in the eggs. Cover with plastic wrap, stick in the fridge, and pop out to the cinema for a couple hours. When you get back, stir together the rest of the ingredients in a little bowl and fold the dressing into the salad. (Since it's not quite bedtime yet, whip up the custard for some ice cream.) Put back in the fridge overnight, and adjust the seasonings the next morning before bringing along to a long day of assorted parties.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Honey granola frozen yogurt with variations

Based on this. Variation 1: with boysenberry jam. Variation 2: in hob nob ice cream sandwiches (shown lounging outside with the campanile, after all its brethren were scarfed down at group meeting).

2 c TJs whole-milk greek yogurt (one resealable container)
1/2 c TJs nonfat honey greek yogurt (one single-serving container)
1/3 c sugar
1/3 c honey
1/2 c granola

few spoonfuls boysenberry jam
24 hob nobs

Stir together the yogurts, sugar, and honey, and put in the fridge for an hour or two. Churn for 12 minutes, add the granola, and churn for another 4 minutes. Yep, it's just that easy.

To make the two variations, scoop half of the churned ice cream into one pint-size tupperware and the other half into another. Drop a few spoonfuls of jam into one of the tupperwares and run the spoon through the froyo very briefly to get that nice marbled effect. Stick both tupperwares in the freezer. Attempt to eat some of the jam variation later that evening, but it's just not hard enough yet; enjoy it anyway.

To make the ice cream sandwiches, stick a tupperware with the cookies in the freezer the night before you want to make them. Get up early the next morning, early enough that the ice cream sandwiches will have a bit of time to re-freeze before you attempt to carry them in to work, and start making coffee. Take the cookies and the non-jammed froyo out of the freezer, and tear off 24 strips of plastic wrap (or tear off the plastic wrap as you go). For each of the twelve sandwiches: lay one cookie chocolate-side-down on the lid of the tupperware, place a spoonful or few of froyo on top of the cookie, press a second cookie chocolate-side-up on top of the froyo, smooth the sides a bit with the spoon, wrap in a strip of plastic wrap, and stick in the freezer. Drink some coffee, go to work, and serve these to the group at our old-school end-of-semester ice cream & pizza party.

Hot toddy ice cream

The one on the right in the picture, based on the lemon ice cream recipe in this book. The one on the left is just-churned honey granola boysenberry frozen yogurt.

2 eggs
1 c sugar
1/2 c Meyer lemon juice (from these lemons)
2 T butter
1 c whole milk
1 c heavy whipping cream
1/4 c bourbon
2/3 c crumbled TJs cinnamon graham crackers (6 crackers maybe?)

Stick a mixing bowl in the freezer to chill a bit. Whisk together eggs, sugar, lemon juice, and butter in the top of a double boiler (or a small saucepan placed on top of another small saucepan). Simmer some water in the bottom of the double boiler (aka lower saucepan) and cook the lemon custard until it thickens, whisking constantly. The recipe said this would take 15 minutes; mine thickened slightly after 8 minutes, and the main thing that changed between minutes 8 and 15 was how much my wrist hurt from all that whisking after a day of coding on my laptop, but there's a significant chance that the last few minutes made a difference somehow. Anyway: after heating and whisking for as long as you choose, pour the lemon custard into the chilled mixing bowl. Stir in the milk and cream, and put the bowl in the fridge for an hour.

When you're ready to make the ice cream, take out the mix and stir in the bourbon. Churn in the ice cream maker for 20 minutes, add the graham crackers, and churn for another 5 minutes. This was veeery soft right after churning and had a suspicious resemblance to my failed, liquidy attempt at hot toddy cake. But after 24 hours in the freezer it was beautiful to serve to Lizzy and a couple of her friends after they made a pile of homemade linguine to celebrate their impending departure to India for the summer.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Hob nobs

Almost exactly this. As the site says, they do taste much more buttery than actual hob nobs; I considered using coconut oil instead, which probably would have fixed that. Not that there's anything wrong with buttery, of course. Stay tuned for when these become part of ice cream sandwiches!

120 g oats
50 g white flour
50 g whole wheat flour
1/2 t baking powder
1/2 t baking soda
1/2 T wheat bran
75 g brown sugar
1 stick salted butter, cut into pieces
1/2 t vanilla
1/2 T corn syrup
3 oz dark chocolate, melted (6 squares of a TJ's pound plus bar)

Preheat the oven to 350F and get out the big food processor. (I ground the oats in the small food processor then mixed in the rest by hand, and that was the wrong choice.) Grind the oats until fine, then add the flours, leavening agents, and sugar, and process well. Add the butter, vanilla, and corn syrup, and process until coarse and crumbly.

Tear off two baking-sheet-size pieces of wax paper, get out the rolling pin, and line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Gather up a handful or few of dough, press into a mound in the middle of one piece of wax paper, top with the other piece, and use the rolling pin to mash the dough into a 1/4"-thick round. Cut out circles with a 1.5"-diameter glass (I used a liqueur glass), carefully transfer to the parchment-lined baking sheet, and press back into the cookie any bits that got dislodged in transit. Much of the dough left on the wax paper won't seem like it's buttery enough to ever stick together, but don't despair! Press even the driest-seeming bits together hard inside the wax paper, and a cookie will result. I got 33 cookies that didn't rise at all, so don't worry about leaving much space between them on the baking sheets.

Bake for 12 minutes until lightly golden around the edges. Transfer to cooling racks, and use a pastry brush to brush a thin layer of the melted chocolate onto each cookie. Let cool, then put in a tupperware to store.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Creamy vegan mocha granita

Lester got me an ice cream maker for my birthday (hooray!). And of course, knowing nothing about ice cream, what do I do--make up something completely off-recipe for my second-ever attempt. I had all the things, and wanted something that I wouldn't feel bad having with breakfast.

1.5 c cold coffee
1 c rice milk
3/8 c sugar
1/4 c vegan coconut-milk chocolate ice cream (I know, ice cream in ice cream, crazy)
10 drops John's coffee bitters

Whisk together all the ingredients, preferably wearing the cute dress I just got for Cait&Jay's wedding, and put the mix in the ice cream maker. After 10 minutes there was some residual liquid but the frozen part wasn't being stirred, so I stopped it then. Scoop into 3-6 serving glasses and serve immediately. Or as I did, scoop into 3 jam jars and put in the freezer overnight, and remove from the freezer 20 minutes before serving. Serving suggestions: with brioche.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Marmalade spice cupcakes with whipped cream filling

What happens when you start making gingerbread cupcakes before realizing that you don't have enough molasses or maple syrup, but still want a nice vehicle for all that whipping cream leftover from making clotted cream. The marmalade chunks and crystallized ginger chunks are really nice together!

1/2 c canola
1/4 c dark molasses
1/4 c maple syrup
1/4 c dark corn syrup
1/4 c orange marmalade
1/4 c rice milk
1 egg
1.75 c flour
1/2 t baking soda
1 t baking powder
3 t ginger
1 t allspice
1 t cinnamon
1/2 t cloves
~8 cubes crystallized ginger, minced

1.5 c whipping cream (or less, I didn't use it all)
2 T powdered sugar
20 drops John's blood orange bitters

Preheat the oven to 350F and line the pan for 12 cupcakes. Whisk together the wet ingredients (canola through egg) until the marmalade is all broken up. Stir together the dry ingredients (flour through cloves) in a 2-c pyrex, then stir into the wet ingredients until just mixed. Stir in the crystallized ginger. Scoop into the cupcake pan; two heaping spoonfuls per cupcake worked about right. Bake for 20 minutes until a tester comes out clean, transfer to a cooling rack, and cool thoroughly.

When you're ready for the assembly stage, whip the cream until it holds soft peaks. Whip in the sugar and bitters until it holds firm peaks, but don't over-whip. I did two kinds of topping/filling, both using the whipped cream in a pastry bag with a medium circular tip. Some of the cupcakes I made into whoopie-pie-like sandwiches by removing the cupcake liner, slicing the cupcake in half horizontally, piping a big pile of whipped cream on the bottom half, and gently replacing the top half. The rest of the cupcakes I filled by sticking the tip deep into the cupcake, squishing in whipped cream until the top of the cupcake started to bulge, then pulling out the tip and piping a swirl of whipped cream on top. They kept well in tupperwares for the sunny half-hour walk to work and for a couple hours in the fridge thereafter.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Limoncello, day I

Just like this.

15 backyard Meyer lemons
1 750-ml bottle vodka (Smirnoff, 80-proof)
1 750-ml bottle Everclear (151-proof)
sealable glass jar large enough to hold it all

Wash and dry the lemons, then peel them with a veggie peeler and scrape off all of the white pith with a small sharp knife. It takes a while and your hand will be tired by the end, but it's not so bad. Put the peels in your big glass jar, cover with booze, seal, and stick in the pantry for about 40 days. Juice the lemons and reserve the juice for something nice.

proceed to day II

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Clotted cream

The basic idea is you heat cream until it gets just slightly cooked, cool it until it separates, and scoop off the thick part.

why: To go with scones.
what: 1 pint non-pasteurized heavy whipping cream (at least 5.5 g fat in 15 ml), or add a tablespoon of butter if the only non-pasteurized cream you can find is lighter (mine was 4 g fat in 15 ml).
where: In a 4-cup pyrex, covered with foil, in a 180F oven. Some sites recommended cooking it on the stove to 180F, which is below a simmer, but I tried that and I couldn't get it to not simmer. A double-boiler would probably help with that.
when: Let it heat for as long as possible. I only left it for 6 hours and it was ok, but this site recommends more like 8 or 12 hours.

When you take it out of the oven, there should be a yellow skin on top, and I saw a bit of stratification in the cream below.

Stick it in the fridge, still covered, overnight. In the morning, separate out the different layers. I got four layers, from top to bottom: yellowy dried-out butter (discard), very thick stuff I'm calling clotted cream (white in the picture), runnier but still pretty thick stuff that's probably in the range of whipping cream (creamier-colored with few bubbles), and some bubbly watery stuff on the bottom (discard).

Friday, May 6, 2011

Lester's scones (plus vegan)

Warning: English scones are more like American biscuits. To make them vegan, simply substitute rice/soy/etc milk for the cow milk, plus another 3 T rice/soy/etc milk for the egg. Happy birthday me!

8 oz flour (plus a little for the board)
1.5 t baking powder
2 oz soft earth balance (plus a little bit to grease the baking sheet)
1 oz sugar
5 T milk (plus a little bit for glazing)
1 egg

Preheat the oven to 425F. Measure out the flour, baking powder, earth balance, and sugar into the bowl of your kitchen scale. Mix well with a wooden spoon until all the earth balance chunks are gone and the mixture is sandy. Add the wet ingredients and mix just until well incorporated. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and press into a thick round while folding over a couple times to get some nice layered action going. Cut into 4 or 5 circles with a 2" diameter glass or cookie cutter, press the leftover bits back together, and form 1 or 2 more scones. Place on a greased baking sheet, brush with milk, and bake for 12 minutes until golden on top and bottom.

Serve with boysenberry jam and vegan chocolate coconut-milk ice cream for a quick birthday treat, or with raspberry jam and clotted cream for post-hike brunch the next day.

Asparagus soup

This is really simple but surprisingly tasty and well-balanced! One key was having all the ingredients finish cooking at the same time, which magically happened for us without us paying too close attention to the timing details--sorry about that. Serves 2-3.

1 bunch asparagus
1 cube not-chicken stock in 4 c water
2 T butter
2 shallots (both halves of a big one), minced
1 medium russet potato, peeled and cut in 1cm cubes
1 bunch watercress, de-stemmed
salt and pepper
croutons: thin slices of stale baguette pan-toasted in a bit of butter

Snap the woody ends off the asparagus, cut the stems into bite-sized pieces on the bias, and reserve the tips. Simmer the woody ends in the broth in a medium pot while you prepare the rest of the ingredients. In a larger pot, saute the shallot in the butter for a nice while. Remove the asparagus ends from the stock, add the stock to the shallots, and discard the boiled asparagus (or be more creative than me and find a way to use it). Add the potatoes and simmer for a few minutes until just starting to soften, add the asparagus stems and simmer for a few more minutes until barely tender, then add the asparagus tips and watercress and simmer until everything is tender but not mushy. Season and serve with croutons.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

A few days of food in and around Bath

A few days of food in Berlin

Lemon almond ricotta cake

Pretty much this. More almondy, lemony, and creamy than my previous similar thing.

8 oz slivered almonds, ground in the food processor (1.5 - 2 c after grinding)
1 t baking powder
1/4 c flour
1/2 t salt
1/2 t cardamom
1.25 c whole-fat ricotta
1/4 c plain greek yogurt
1 t vanilla
1/4 c lemon juice
2 t lemon zest
3 eggs, separated
1 c sugar

Preheat oven to 350F and butter a 9" springform pan. Stir together the dry ingredients (almonds through cardamom) in a small bowl. In a large bowl, beat together everything else except the egg whites, which should be sitting alone in a medium bowl. Stir the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. Whip the egg whites until they hold firm-ish peaks, and fold them into the batter. Pour into the pan and bake for 50 minutes until golden around the edges and no longer jiggly in the middle; the fully-cooked result will be soft so it may not pass the toothpick test (I didn't actually check). Serve warm with a dollop of whipped cream and a mug of tea after a meal of avgolemono soup.

Avgolemono soup

Slightly adapted from The Silver Platter, which I just picked up--more because there was a copy around when I was growing up, and because the ladies who wrote it so strongly identify with upper-middle-class New England in the 80s that it's pretty hilarious, than because the style of cooking has much overlap with my own. Most of the recipes are rich, meaty, boozy, and/or complicated, but this one is none of those.

6 c water
2 cubes not-chicken broth
1/2 c basmati rice
3 egg yolks (you could add the whites too but I didn't)
1/4 c lemon juice
1 c minced arugula
salt and pepper to taste

Simmer the rice in the broth until cooked but not overdone. Meanwhile, I recommend whipping up a batch of lemon ricotta almond cake; the rice may be done a bit before the cake is ready to go in the oven, but that's fine, just turn off the burner and let the soup cool down a bit. When the cake is in the oven, whisk together the egg yolks and lemon juice, then whisk in at least 1/2 c broth (more if the broth is hotter). Stir the arugula and the creamy-looking egg mixture into the soup. Turn the burner back on and stir just until the soup starts steaming--overheating favors curdling, which is not the goal. Serve lukewarm with a fava bean and ricotta thing, which didn't turn out as well as I'd hoped for, followed by that cake, which is excellent.