Saturday, March 31, 2012

Fig and oat bars

A brunch treat loosely based on these guys. The filling would have used pretty much the whole jar of fig butter if I'd let it, so I added some applesauce to bulk it up—probably not quite as delicious as an all-fig filling, but totally satisfactory. Then I went and totally unveganized the batter because I didn't want to overdose on applesauce. The final result is a good balance between soft and crumbly, between sweet and substantial, and between breakfast and dessert.

1 c oats, coarsely ground in the food processor
3/4 oats, in their usual form
3/4 c flour
1/2 c hazelnuts, coarsely ground in the food processor
1/4 c brown sugar
1 t baking soda
2 t cinnamon
1/2 t salt
1/2 c yogurt
1/4 c milk
1/4 c canola oil
1 egg
1 t vanilla
1/3 c fig butter
1/3 c applesauce

Preheat the oven to 350F and butter and flour an 8" square baking pan. In separate bowls, stir together the dry ingredients (oats through salt), the wet ingredients (yogurt through vanilla), and the filling (fig butter and applesauce). Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients to make a batter. Spread half the batter in the pan, top with the filling, then dollop on the rest of the batter in as even a layer as possible. Bake for 35 min, and let cool in the pan for at least 5 min before slicing.

Farro and spinach salad

Last night I wanted my grains and protein and veggies, but didn't want the usual beans and pasta and kale, so I threw this together for some really delicious balanced-meal springtime food. Recommended cooking times for farro vary wildly so just go by whatever your package says. Mine took about half an hour, which is plenty of time to get the rest of the ingredients together.

1 c farro
1/2 stock cube in at least 4 c water
2 eggs
olive oil
5 stalks asparagus, sliced into small pieces on the bias
4 oz spinach, coarsely chopped
2 green onions, white and green parts thinly sliced
5 cherry tomatoes, quartered
juice of 1 lemon
2 oz crumbled feta
salt and pepper to taste

Bring the farro and stock to a boil then let simmer, covered, until the farro is tender and chewy. Meanwhile, prepare everything else: hard-boil and coarsely chop the eggs, saute the asparagus in some olive oil over medium heat until charred in a few spots, and prep the other veggies. When the farro is done, drain it if needed, then toss everything together in a large bowl until it's well mixed and the spinach is a bit wilted from the heat of the farro. Adjust the salt, pepper, lemon, and oil to taste, and enjoy.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Lemon curd cheesecake

This cheesecake doesn't look like anything special, but almost everyone who had some declared it to be one of the best cheesecakes ever. It's amazingly light and smooth, almost fluffy—probably because the yogurt (subbed for sour cream) is inside the filling, instead of being an extra layer on top. I plan on using this method for pretty much every cheesecake here on out, and I suggest that you try it too. The lemon curd is, unsurprisingly, also a delicious addition.

6 oz graham crackers
5 T melted butter
2 T sugar

Preheat the oven to 350F. Grind the ingredients together in a food processor, and press into the bottom and sides of a 9" springform pan. Bake for 10 minutes, then let cool while you make the filling.

20 oz (2.5 packs) cream cheese, softened
1 c sugar
3 eggs
3/4 c plain greek yogurt (nonfat ok)
1 t vanilla
1 c lemon curd

Preheat the oven to 300F. Beat together the cream cheese and sugar until fluffy, then beat in the eggs, yogurt, and vanilla until smooth. Pour half of the filling into the prepared crust, dollop on half of the lemon curd, top with the rest of the filling, then with the rest of the lemon curd. Swirl the filling and lemon curd together with a knife, gently and minimally. Place on a baking sheet (to catch possible drippage) and bake for about 1 hour (no more than 1hr 15min) until the edges are set but the center is still jiggly. Turn off the oven but keep the oven door closed, and let the cheesecake cool in the oven for at least an hour. At bedtime, cover the pan with plastic wrap, and chill in the fridge overnight.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Roasted cauliflower and mushrooms with dill, and kale risotto

That's a long title, and in fact this post contains two entirely separate recipes. But it's two recipes that can easily be made in parallel by one person, as the instructions indicate. And although I rarely make two complementary dishes when all the ingredients could go into one, I'm glad I did the two-dish thing this time—I think it turned out way better than if I'd tossed the cauliflower into the risotto.

roasted things:
1/2 head cauliflower
8 oz crimini mushrooms
3/4 c loosely packed bread cubes/crumbs
salt and pepper
juice of half a lemon
1/3 c chopped fresh dill
light sprinkling of grated pecorino

1 large onion
several leaves of kale
1 c arborio rice
3/4 c white wine
2 c broth
2 oz grated pecorino
salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 450F and melt some butter in a large frying pan over medium heat. Thinly slice the onion and get it started caramelizing in the frying pan. Break the cauliflower into bite-sized florets, and toss them with enough oil to coat in a 9x13" pan. Cover the pan with foil and put in the oven. While the cauliflower is softening, keep an eye on the onions, and halve the mushrooms and mince the kale. After the cauliflower has been steaming in the oven for about 15 minutes, stir in the mushrooms (adding more oil if needed) and return the pan to the oven (uncovered). When the onion is a bit caramelized (right about now), stir in the kale and rice, and saute for a couple minutes. Add the broth + wine to the rice in 1/2-1 c increments until the rice is tender, letting the liquid cook off in between additions, and stirring occasionally (20-30 minutes). Take that time to chop some stale baguette into bread crumbs, chop the dill, and grate the cheese. After the mushrooms have been roasting for 10-15 minutes, stir in the bread crumbs, and stir the roasting things every 5 minutes thereafter until they are nicely browned (about when the risotto is ready). To finish everything off, season with salt and pepper, stir a bunch of cheese into the risotto, and sprinkle the lemon, dill, and extra cheese over the roasted things. Serve a scoop of each next to each other on a plate.