Monday, December 10, 2012

Pumpkin tart with cheesecake topping


Somehow, inexplicably, it is already December 10th, and I am just now getting around to telling you about the dessert I made for Thanksgiving. This pumpkin tart is from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook - it's got a gingersnap and graham cracker crust, pumpkin filling, and dollops of cheesecake batter swirled into the top - as you might suspect, it's pretty much the best pumpkin dessert ever. And as a bonus, it's really simple to make. No fussy pastry dough to roll out or fruit to chop. I'm glad I managed to post this in time for Christmas - if you're looking for something new to try during the holidays, this is definitely a recipe for you!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

White bean and Swiss chard pot pies


Smitten Kitchen is my very favorite food blog, and I have been eagerly awaiting the release of the Smitten Kitchen Cookbook for many, many months. SK's recipes fit in well with my style of cooking, and I have always found the recipes to be reliable and very delicious - they're the kind of recipes that I'm comfortable cooking for guests without testing in advance. I finally got a copy of the cookbook a few weeks ago, and it is a delight. I know I'll be cooking out of this book for years to come. This pot pie recipe is the first one I tried from the book (it is also on the blog). These pot pies take some time to make, but it is worth it - this is some seriously tasty vegetarian comfort food. The pastry is tender and incredibly flaky and the filling is flavorful and hearty. Given the time it takes to make these and the amount of butter in each serving, I'd say this is a once-in-a-while kind of recipe, but it is definitely worth trying. It's the perfect meal for a snowy weekend day like today.

p.s. Sorry there's no picture of the filling - once we dug in, we were too busy eating to think about taking a photo!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Red lentil and pumpkin soup


I saw this recipe in the November issue of Cooking Light and the lentil-pumpkin combination really appealed to me. I have always enjoyed lentil soup and the addition of pumpkin just seemed like it would work well. I ended up making this soup for dinner tonight and was really happy with it. This is a great soup for fall/winter - it's healthy, filling, and flavorful, and also happens to be quick and easy to make. The pumpkin adds creaminess and a hint of sweetness to the soup, and the spices are well balanced. The recipe uses mostly pantry ingredients, so this is something that you can easily whip up when you're looking for a warm satisfying meal on a winter night.


Monday, November 12, 2012

Cranberry sherbet


I like to keep a supply of cranberries in the freezer, mostly so that I can make these cranberry pecan caramel bars any time I want. But during a recent freezer cleanout I discovered a couple bags of cranberries in there that had to be at least a year old, if not longer. Luckily cranberries do very well in the freezer so the quality of the berries was totally fine, but I figured I should use them soon. I ended up finding the perfect recipe in the November 2012 issue of Cooking Light. You might not think to make frozen desserts during the fall and winter months, but I actually think a nice fruity sherbet is a perfect dessert after a hearty hot meal.

This sherbet is on the tart side, which I love. It's also a bit boozy, due to a tablespoon of liquor in the mix. Don't leave this out - it helps keep the sherbet from getting too hard in the freezer, and it gives you an opportunity to add another dimension to the flavor of the sherbet. With its gorgeous bright color and fresh flavor, this sherbet definitely adds some happiness to these dreary days!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Broccoli rabe, sun-dried tomato, and Fontina frittata


Andrew and I had some friends over for brunch today. It reminded me of how much I enjoy hosting brunch, mostly because I get an excuse to make some fun treats (today's big project was apple cider doughnuts - recipe coming soon!). However, treats alone don't make a meal. I personally enjoy savory brunch items more than sweet, and I made sure to include something eggy and relatively healthy in the menu along with the more indulgent items. A frittata is a great selection when serving brunch to a group - it comes together quickly and can be made ahead of time and served at room temperature. This frittata includes broccoli rabe and sun-dried tomatoes along with melty Fontina cheese. I loved this recipe - I especially enjoyed the flavor of the sun-dried tomatoes, and the texture of the eggs was perfect - tender and not at all dry. I need to cook recipes like this more often, whether or not we are having guests!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Apple tart


A couple of weeks ago, I was lucky enough to meet Luisa Weiss, the author of one of my favorite food blogs - The Wednesday Chef. She has written a memoir that recently came out, and her book tour brought her to Boston. One of the first recipes that I ever posted here was from Luisa's blog, and I was super excited to meet her. While I was at the reading, I realized that I hadn't cooked one of her recipes in a while, and I thought to myself that it would be fun to post about one of recipes from her book. So I kept that in mind as I was reading the book and made mental notes about the recipes I wanted to try.

In the meantime, my office decided to have an apple and pumpkin-themed baking contest. I decided to make this apple tart, which I found on Smitten Kitchen. The recipe originates with Jacques Pepin and Alice Waters, so I knew it had to be good. And I was also drawn in by the recipe's simplicity. Flour, sugar, salt, butter, and apples. Nothing else, no spices, just pure apple flavor and flaky pastry. The tart was lovely, as expected given the people who created it, and I won the presentation category of the baking contest! And then, when I finished Luisa's book this past weekend, I found that her adaptation of this very same tart recipe is in there, in one of the last I ended up cooking a recipe from her book after all! Clearly, this recipe has made its way around the food world already, and I'm happy to promote it even more. I urge you to make this soon, before the fall is gone...


Sunday, October 7, 2012

Pasta with roasted broccoli, olives, and Pecorino


My shopping habits at the farmers' market have changed quite a bit over the last two years. Two years ago, I would eagerly buy anything I hadn't tried before - heirloom tomatoes! fresh shell beans! celery root! - because I was so excited by all the variety. Now, I've tried almost everything at least once, and I know what I like best and what's most convenient for the amount of time I have available for cooking. I know that celery root just isn't my favorite, fresh shell beans are kind of a pain, and that while heirloom tomatoes are fantastic, regular tomatoes are pretty great too and are a lot better for my budget. This year, I've also found myself enjoying broccoli much more than I used to. In 2010, I posted about how broccoli is kind of boring,  but I feel differently now. I love the way broccoli soaks up sauce and the texture it has after being stir-fried or roasted.

For dinner tonight, I decided to make a pasta salad of sorts, combining rotini with roasted broccoli and shallots, garlic, olives, and pecorino cheese. It was a tasty and enjoyable meal, definitely far from boring!


Thursday, September 20, 2012

Black pepper-sesame paste


So, it's been about 10 days since my last post...To tell you the truth, blogging hasn't been at the top of my priority list lately. I'm still cooking a lot, but I haven't felt like taking the time to measure all my ingredients, take notes as I cook, and prep photos. I guess I've just been wanting to cook in a more casual way recently. I don't want to post recipes unless I know for sure that they are reliable, so my throw-together meals never end up on the blog, even if they taste awesome.

Another aspect to my blogging less often is this: when I was in grad school, I was feeling a lot of uncertainty about my career path, along with a bit of unhappiness about my research job, and I think that blogging helped me to find the satisfaction that I wasn't getting from my job. And now...I love my new job, I really do. I'm very happy and my life in general has been feeling very fulfilling, and my priorities have shifted.

I've been thinking a lot about the role this blog plays in my life, and the bottom line is that it's supposed to be fun. So, I have decided that I am going to continue blogging, but I'm only going to post when I really feel like it - I'm not going to worry about whether I'm posting regularly or often, I'm just going to do it when I want to. I really hope you'll still read the new posts, whenever they end up happening...

And I do have a recipe for you today. I've been loving the flavor of black pepper lately and have been really amping up how much I use in my cooking. I created this particular paste with some inspiration from Hot Sour Salty Sweet, and some inspiration from Heidi Swanson. It's got a deep toasty flavor from the sesame seeds and aromatic notes as well as heat from the black pepper. Garlic, cilantro, and soy sauce round out the flavors. I think this would make a great sauce for almost any stir fry, and would also be a nice rub for meat.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Creamed corn with garam masala butter


You guys. Between my recent hummus post and this one, I have come to a very important conclusion - everything tastes better when spiced butter is poured on top. That might sound obvious to you, but if you need some convincing, I highly encourage you to try this recipe. Now, I tend to think that fresh summer corn is perfection all on its own, but it turns out that it's even better with garam masala butter. This recipe is perfect for September, when fresh corn is still in season but temperatures are cooling off a bit. The creamy corn and Indian spices are comforting and warming, exactly right for fall.

p.s. It just occurred to me after publishing this post that the garam masala butter would be amazing on mashed potatoes. I'll try it and report back!

Monday, September 3, 2012

Tomato chutney


The last couple weekends have been filled with family time - Andrew and I spent last weekend at the Cape with some of my family, and we were at my cousin's wedding last night in Boston. My family is a lot of fun, so I'm always happy to have the chance to spend time with them. Getting to eat homemade Indian food makes it all the better. Family recipes are one of my favorite sources for blog inspiration. I love trying new recipes in general, but it's extra special to learn how to make a family favorite. When we were at the Cape, my mom made a batch of her tomato chutney one day. After snacking on it all afternoon, I decided that I needed to learn how to make it, and that I had to do it while tomatoes were still in season. My parents were staying at our apartment this past weekend because of the wedding, so I had the chance to go to the farmers' market with my mom and pick out some gorgeous tomatoes for this dish. She taught me how to make it, and the batch she made disappeared pretty fast! Good thing I know how to make it myself now so I can whip it up whenever I want. This chutney is absolutely addictive with bread, crackers, and cheese, and as my mom says, a glass of wine makes it even better!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Hummus with smoked paprika butter and za'atar


I love recipes like this that take something standard (hummus) and elevate it to a new level by adding something unexpected that I never would have thought of (smoked paprika butter!). Also, although I usually focus on vegetable recipes for this blog, it's nice to sometimes make something with pantry ingredients. Especially because I was out of town over the weekend and didn't make it to the farmers' market. I do wish I had fresh summer veggies (especially corn and tomatoes) around, but this hummus definitely distracted me from their absence! I really loved this - the hummus is super creamy, the smoked paprika butter adds richness and spice, and the za'atar adds wonderful flavor. I found this recipe in Food & Wine, and according to the headnote, the chef that created it (Sameh Wadi) makes several other hummus variations at his restaurant Saffron. After tasting this one, I definitely want to try them all!


Monday, August 20, 2012

Tomato and corn pie


I generally feel that summer is a time for simple food. Life moves at a leisurely pace during the summer months (relatively speaking), and the seasonal produce doesn't need a lot of manipulation to taste awesome. But every once in a while, I get the urge to make something elaborate, something that will show off summer vegetables in a special way. This tomato and corn pie does just that. I have actually been wanting to make this recipe since 2009, ever since it was posted on Smitten Kitchen. Somehow three years went by, and  though the recipe crossed my mind often, I never got around to making it. I finally got my act together and gave it a try this past weekend, and I can't believe I waited this long! This recipe combines fresh tomatoes and corn with herbs and cheddar cheese, and encases it all in a flaky crust. It's really wonderful, ideal for a special summer dinner. I'd say it's perfect to serve to guests, except for the fact that you're not going to want to share...


Sunday, August 12, 2012

Tomatoes stuffed with roasted peppers, tuna, capers, and olives


My first week at the new job went very well - it was somewhat overwhelming, of course, meeting new people and getting oriented to the projects that I'll be working on. But overall, I feel like I've already learned a lot and I'm definitely excited about the work! I think the hardest thing was adjusting to a full-time work schedule again - I was surprised at how little energy I had for cooking when I got home each day. I'm sure I'll get used to the schedule soon enough, but for this week I made a meal plan to make things a bit easier. As I made the plan, I made sure to pick out a couple recipes from my new Middle Eastern cookbook to try.

This stuffed tomato recipe is perfect for this time of year, when the tomatoes are so great. It's a Tunisian recipe, and it's wonderful. The tomatoes are stuffed with roasted red peppers, tuna, capers, and olives. Add in some garlic, parsley, and a chile pepper, and I'm sure you can imagine how flavorful this is!

Friday, August 3, 2012

Zucchini fritters


I've been keeping a bit of news from you - I start a new job on Monday! My time off (aka "funemployment") is officially coming to an end. I'm ready for it though - the job is in public health, which is a field I have been wanting to enter for a while, and I'm really excited about it. Anyway, I bring this up because even though I sometimes wonder if I have too many cookbooks, I still bought myself two more to celebrate getting the job offer. One of these was Claudia Roden's The New Book of Middle Eastern Food. Ever since our trip to Turkey, I've been very interested in exploring the food of the Middle East, particularly the mezes.

The first recipe I decided to try was for Turkish zucchini fritters. Shredded zucchini and onion are mixed with herbs and feta cheese to make the batter, and then the fritters are pan fried. These fritters have a thin crisp crust, but are very soft and melty on the inside, due to the cheese. I especially love the addition of mint to the batter. For those of you looking for new ways to use up a bumper crop of zucchini, give this a try!

Monday, July 30, 2012

Arugula, nectarine, and blueberry salad


It's hard to beat the fruit at this time of year, isn't it? Although I'm tempted by pretty much everything the market has to offer, blueberries, peaches, and nectarines are the staples that I buy every week. Usually I eat the fruit plain, but today I decided to use it in a nice summery salad. I used arugula for the base because I like how its peppery bite pairs with sweeter ingredients, and threw in a handful of blueberries. I decided to add nectarines which weren't quite ripe because I wanted them to be a bit crunchy, with a sweet-tart flavor. Blue cheese complemented the fruit perfectly, and toasted walnuts added some crunch. With its combination of sweet and savory flavors, this salad was a nice addition to our dinner and really took advantage of the gorgeous summer fruit and greens.

Arugula, nectarine, and blueberry salad
Serves 3-4

Feel free to adjust proportions to your preference, and to substitute other fresh fruit for the berries and nectarines if you'd like.

1 bunch arugula (about 4.5 oz.), stems removed, leaves torn into medium pieces
2 medium nectarines (use nectarines that are just shy of ripe and are still slightly crisp), cut into bite-size pieces
1/3 cup blueberries
1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese
1/3 cup chopped toasted walnuts

For serving: good quality extra-virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar

Toss all ingredients together in a salad bowl. Separate into individual portions and drizzle each bowl with olive oil and balsamic vinegar just before serving.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Grilled summer squash with garlic, anchovies, and capers


I went to New York City last weekend to visit some family and friends. Before I left, I grabbed a tupperware of leftover pasta, and at the last minute, added some of this grilled summer squash to the container. Let me tell you, I was pretty excited about the gourmet lunch I was going to eat on the bus ride to the city. However, as soon as I boarded the bus and settled in my seat, I realized that while my lunch would certainly be delicious, it was also the smelliest possible thing I could have chosen to bring with me on a bus. Garlic and anchovies? Seriously, what was I thinking? I didn't dare open the container while I was on the bus and ended up waiting till about 3pm to eat it. Not all food is bus-appropriate - lesson learned.

Anyway, as long as you're not planning on eating this in an enclosed space with very little air circulation, you should give it a try! It's delicious, and would make a perfect side dish for a summer party or cookout. I love the flavor of grilled vegetables, and the dressing here makes this something special.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Grilled vegetables with Malaysian vinaigrette


My cast iron grill pan has been getting a lot of use this summer. We don't own a real grill, so we have to make do with the grill pan until we move somewhere with outdoor space. Luckily, the grill pan makes nice grill marks and actually imparts a pretty decent smoky flavor. It's perfect for recipes like this (although of course, if you have a real grill, you can definitely use it!). Here, eggplant, corn, and green beans get grilled to perfection and tossed with handfuls of herbs and a zingy Malaysian vinaigrette. The dish is simple and super flavorful, and takes advantage of summer's wonderful fresh veggies and herbs.


p.s. My blog turns two years old tomorrow! Unfortunately, I don't have my act together enough to plan and write a special post for my blog's birthday. So I'll just say yay! Happy birthday to Four Seasons of Food! Thank you to everyone who has stopped by, commented, or tried one of my recipes. You keep me motivated to continue posting, and I hugely appreciate your support.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Beet and coconut soup


What are your thoughts on eating hot soup in the summertime? I know some people stay away from soup when the weather gets hot, but I actually don't have a seasonal preference for soup. Frankly, I don't eat soup that often, no matter what season it is. I generally only make soup when I come across a recipe that I can't resist - this one is a perfect example. I found this recipe in The Accidental Vegetarian and tagged it immediately. I've had it in the back of my mind for weeks, but today was the first time that I had beets in the fridge and time to try a new recipe. This soup combines roasted beets with coconut milk, cumin, lemongrass, garlic, chiles, and ginger - I've never combined beets with those ingredients before, but the idea appealed to me right away. The beets work beautifully here, contributing a nice earthy note to the otherwise Asian-inspired soup. The beets also contribute their color, turning this soup a shocking magenta color, which is a little weird, but mostly awesome. In spite of the kooky color, the soup is actually quite elegant - the flavors blend well and if you go through the trouble of sieving the soup, the texture is silky smooth. It is spicy though, so reduce the chiles if you are sensitive to heat. I'm really glad I finally got to make this recipe. It's such a fun new way to use beets - definitely a soup worth trying in any season.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Turkish-inspired zucchini-yogurt spread


Andrew and I returned home on Saturday after two truly wonderful weeks in Turkey. Before this trip, we hadn't taken a trip together that was longer than 4 days in the last several years (including our honeymoon, or "minimoon" as I like to call it). So we knew that we had to do something special during my time off after graduation! We spent 5 days in Istanbul, saw the ruins at Ephesus, then spent some time on the coast in Fethiye and Antalya. I still can't get over how warm the water in the Mediterranean is!


Of course, the food was a big highlight of the trip. We ate freshly caught fish, grilled and dressed with nothing but a squeeze of lemon, accompanied by Turkey's national drink, raki (anise-flavored liquor). We tried countless versions of kebabs, and enjoyed one particularly memorable meal of pide (Turkish pizza). We loved the Turkish breakfast that we had every day - bread, fresh cheese, tomatoes, cucumbers, olives, fruit, yogurt, eggs, served with honey, butter, and jam. In the afternoons, we often stopped to re-energize with a Turkish coffee. We indulged in sweets - Turkish delights and baklava - and fast food too, like fried mussels and doner (meat cooked on a spit) sandwiches. We saw fruit trees everywhere, and ate fresh oranges, apricots, peaches, watermelon, and cherries.


Personally, there were two aspects of the cuisine that I found very inspiring - mezes and yogurt. Mezes are small plate dishes, usually served as starters, and they are often vegetable-based and served cold. The main dishes were heavy on the meat, so I got most of my vegetables through the mezes. Even the most simple ones, like green beans in olive oil, were delicious, and I loved trying a sampling of what each restaurant had to offer. You can count on seeing a number of meze recipes appear on the blog this summer, using plenty of local produce. As for yogurt, it was great to see the number of ways that it was used - mixed with vegetables or herbs in mezes, served alongside tomato sauce on top of sliced meat and bread, and used as a sauce for stuffed pasta - all so good! I love yogurt, and I am definitely going to expand the number of ways that I use it now.

The recipe that I am sharing with you today is a meze that includes yogurt. I found a great blog of Turkish recipes and I made a variation of a zucchini-walnut dip I found there. I'm not really sure if what I made counts as traditional Turkish, so I'm just calling it Turkish-inspired. It's great served with pita or other bread, especially when it's hot out!

Friday, June 15, 2012

Moroccan carrot panini with goat cheese and olive tapenade


One of my favorite things about The Gourmet Cookbook is that it is so huge that I can count on finding something completely new every time I flip through it. And of course, the recipes are reliably awesome. I found this one when I was idly flipping through the salad and sandwich sections to get some new ideas and inspiration. As soon as I saw this recipe, I knew I had to make it asap. The combination of carrots marinated in Moroccan spices, goat cheese, and green olive spread sounded pretty irresistible to me.

I loved this panini. It was so creative - I never would have thought to use carrots for the bulk of a sandwich filling - and it was filling, yet light. Not to mention packed with flavor. It does take some work to prep all the components, but it is totally worth it. I'm definitely going to keep this recipe in mind to serve when I have guests over for lunch.

p.s. After this post, I'll be taking a couple weeks off from blogging, because Andrew and I are heading to Turkey for a long-awaited vacation! I am so excited to see the sights, spend time at the beach, and of course, eat plenty of amazing food! Perhaps I'll have some Turkish recipes for you when I return...

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Asparagus, fennel, and potato salad with parmesan-tarragon dressing


One of my favorite days of the year happened last weekend - opening day of our local summer farmers' market! It makes me so happy to see the stalls filled with produce and to know that I can look forward to my Saturday morning market trip each week. At last week's market, I picked up a lovely bunch of asparagus, which is a real treat, since asparagus season here is so short. The inspiration for this salad came from The Accidental Vegetarian, and the dressing was inspired by a recipe in The Gourmet Cookbook, although I ended up making several changes to the recipes and putting my own spin on the final dish. This salad has roasted asparagus, fennel, and potatoes on a bed of arugula and watercress. Roasting the vegetables gives them deep flavor, although I'm sure grilling would be great too if you don't feel like turning on the oven. The dressing is very flavorful, with Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, garlic, and tarragon (the dressing isn't in the picture though - sorry). I think the tarragon works especially nicely with the fennel in the salad. With the addition of the roasted vegetables, this salad is substantial enough to be a meal on it's own, and if you'd like to add more protein, I think some chopped hard-boiled eggs would be a great addition. 

What are your favorite spring and summer salads?

Monday, June 4, 2012

Spiced shortbread with rhubarb curd


I don't usually care that much for rhubarb - I generally prefer fruit that I can eat raw and I'm not crazy about the amount of sugar that usually goes into rhubarb desserts. But I can't deny the fact that the arrival of rhubarb signifies that spring is here, and that growing season in Massachusetts has officially begun! So when I saw rhubarb at the local farmers' market on Saturday, I decided to pick some up and do some baking to distract myself from the clouds and rain outside.

I found this recipe in The Food52 Cookbook - it was the winner of a rhubarb-themed recipe contest and looked like a nice change from a more standard rhubarb pie or crisp. I also saw a similar recipe by Amy at Savory Moments, which convinced me that making a bar cookie with rhubarb was definitely the way to go. To add a little bit of nutritional value to these bars, I used whole grain spelt flour for the shortbread, which came out wonderful. The shortbread has some ginger, cinnamon, and cloves in it, which I loved - the spices are subtle, just enough to be detectable but not enough to overpower the flavors. The touch of spice complements the rhubarb curd very well. And speaking of the curd - unfortunately, it didn't come out pink like the picture in the cookbook...oh well. It tastes great though - it's got enough sugar to temper the natural tartness of the rhubarb, but it's not overly sweet at all. Overall, these bars are a very enjoyable little spring treat that I'd be happy to serve to guests, although truth be told, I'd be just as happy to eat them all myself!

Friday, June 1, 2012

Moroccan spaghetti


I might have a slight obsession with cookbooks. I just counted my cookbooks for the first time, and I have 54. That's not too it? True, they no longer fit in the bookcase, but that doesn't mean it's an excessive number. It just means the bookcase is too small. Anyway, in all seriousness, even though I love cookbooks and have 10 more on my Amazon wish list, I almost never buy those wish list books for myself. The cookbooks I buy myself are usually from yard sales or the library book sale, and cost around $2 each. Usually these are books that I hadn't heard of before, but end up loving after flipping through them. And it's hard to beat such bargains! A perfect example is The Accidental Vegetarian, which I picked up at the Somerville library book sale a couple weeks ago. As soon as I got home, I went through it cover to cover and tagged about 10 recipes right away. This Moroccan spaghetti was particularly appealing to me because with the exception of the herbs, it uses all pantry ingredients. Perfect for that time before the summer produce really hits the farmers' market shelves.

This recipe jazzes up a basic tomato sauce with cinnamon, cumin, turmeric, parsley, cilantro, and mint. Chickpeas and almonds bulk up the dish and add protein. It's a pretty simple recipe that makes a nice change from the standard weeknight spaghetti dinner. I can't wait to try more recipes from this book, especially with all the great local produce that is going to be arriving soon!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Grilled Caesar salad


Hope you had a great Memorial Day weekend! I was in Atlanta for my nephew's first birthday, so I got to experience some real summer heat in addition to getting in some quality baby time. It was a great weekend - one of the highlights was witnessing my nephew's first taste of cake and ice cream, which was quite a sight to see. What did you do over the weekend? I bet there was grilling involved, for those of you lucky enough to have outdoor space for a grill. I don't have a grill, but I did break out the cast iron grill pan last night for this salad. I first had grilled lettuce a couple months ago at a restaurant and really liked it - the lettuce gets a bit of char and wilts slightly, but stays mostly crisp. I also love Caesar salad, so I was excited to try this recipe when I saw it in a recent issue of Cooking Light. The grilling adds a little something extra to the salad, and the garlic toasts are a nice substitution for croutons. Definitely a great recipe for summer! 

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Samosa galette


Samosas. One of the most popular Indian foods out there, yet one of the few things that I've never seen my mother make from scratch. She is an excellent cook, but I guess she always felt that it was easier to buy samosas than make them at home. I decided recently that I wanted to try at least once to make samosas from scratch, and found a recipe in my favorite Indian cookbook. However, as I was reading through the recipe, I started to realize that filling and shaping 20 individual samosas would be lot of work and that maybe store-bought is the way to go with samosas after all. But instead of giving up entirely, I decided to make one big galette with the traditional samosa filling, instead of shaping all of the individual pastries. It came out awesome - all the goodness of traditional samosas, but much easier to make!


Thursday, May 10, 2012

Whole grain pancakes with macerated blackberries and Earl Grey whipped cream


I have a confession to make. There was a time when I didn't really like brunch food. When I'd go out to brunch with friends, I'd be the person ordering a turkey sandwich when everyone else was enjoying pancakes or omelettes. Happily though, I started to appreciate the merits of brunch food when I was in college. And now, nothing makes me happier than Eggs Benedict, or bagels with lox, or of course, pancakes.

I'm super excited to share this recipe with you. I don't have many breakfast/brunch recipes on the blog, but starting with this recipe, I'm going to change that. These pancakes are adapted from Heidi Swanson's wild rice pancakes in Super Natural Cooking - I always use buckwheat flour instead of wild rice flour, and I love how the pancakes taste. They have a more complex flavor than traditional white flour pancakes, and pair really well with the macerated blackberries and Earl Grey whipped cream. The idea of infusing whipped cream with tea was inspired by a recent issue of Bon Appetit, and I decided to use Earl Grey because I really enjoy the flavor of bergamot. When I told Andrew about the Earl Grey idea, he suggested that blackberries would be a good pairing, and he was absolutely right. The three components of this dish blend together beautifully to make an elegant dish that would be a great choice for a Mother's Day brunch.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Thai tempeh cakes


You may remember that in the past I have been lukewarm about tempeh, not really sure if I liked it or not. Well these tempeh cakes have convinced me once and for all that I do indeed enjoy tempeh. For me, it's all about the preparation - I find that tempeh is best crumbled or mashed into a patty and combined with strong flavors. This recipe is the perfect example, the tempeh is mixed with lemongrass, garlic, ginger, and cilantro and the cakes are served with a spicy-sweet dipping sauce...sounds pretty good, huh? I don't think I've ever had an appetizer like this before, and I really enjoyed it. I know that some of my readers have had bad experiences with tempeh - if you want to give it another chance, you should definitely try this!

Friday, May 4, 2012

Green curry wontons


When I was home visiting my parents, one of our family friends gave me a Thai cookbook as part of a graduation gift. I was pretty excited about this, since I love Thai food but don't know much about Thai cooking. As I was flipping through the book, I found myself especially drawn to the appetizer section, and decided to try a couple of the recipes this week. These green curry wontons were the first thing I made. They have a flavorful potato and vegetable filling, kind of like a Thai twist on samosas. I decided to bake them instead of frying, which ended up being a good decision - the wontons ended up perfectly crispy at the edges but weren't greasy at all. These were pretty easy to make, and I could definitely imagine serving something like this next time I have a party. With the success of this recipe, I think it's safe to say that you'll be seeing more Thai recipes on this blog as I experiment with more recipes from my new book!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Baked eggs with greens, yogurt, and spiced butter


Sorry for the lack of posts in the last couple weeks. Things suddenly got very busy, due to my job search as well as a number of social and family commitments, and I was having trouble coming up with good recipe ideas. But after a very, very relaxing few days at my parents' house, I'm ready to get cooking again! There's nothing like being spoiled by my parents to get me re-energized =).

I have been having a lot of fun creating original recipes lately, but it's still always nice to get back into my cookbooks for a while and get new inspiration from there. If you are a regular reader, then you know that I am a big fan of Yotam Ottolenghi, the author of Plenty. Flipping through Plenty always gets my mind buzzing with interesting ideas and flavor combinations, and I seem to come across something new every time I look through the book. This time I was drawn in by a recipe for baked eggs with arugula, yogurt, and chile oil. A variation of the same recipe appeared in the January 2012 issue of Bon Appetit, and I decided to mix and match components from the two Ottolenghi recipes along with a couple twists of my own.


We loved this dish - with some toasted crusty bread, it made a wonderful dinner, and would be equally good for brunch or lunch. It's got spinach and arugula, which makes it perfect for spring, and the creamy yogurt is the perfect complement to the spiced butter that is drizzled over the whole dish.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Spring rolls


We had some very hot days earlier this week, including temperatures in the high 80s on Marathon Monday. I have nothing but respect for everyone who participated in the race - the heat was wiping me out and I was just a spectator! Anyway, when the temperature climbs, it's always nice to eat cool, refreshing foods. I've been really craving Asian flavors lately, so when I saw rice paper wrappers at my grocery store, I decided to try making spring rolls for the first time. And hey, there's not much available in terms of spring produce right now, so at least this recipe has "spring" in the title... For these rolls, I marinated and baked some tofu to add protein, used cucumbers and sprouts for crunch, and added mint and basil for fresh flavor. I had a lot of fun learning how to wrap the rolls - once I got the hang of it, they came together very quickly. I've got lots of wrappers left over, and I'll definitely be making spring rolls on hot days in the future!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Brown rice cakes


Have you guys caught on to the fact that I love brown rice? I don't eat it just because it's healthy - I eat it because flavor and texture-wise, I really prefer it over white rice. Even as a youngster, I'd be thrilled when my mom made brown rice. My sister though....not so thrilled. Her palette was not as refined as mine (I kid, I kid). So you can imagine how proud I was to hear that my 11-month-old nephew ate brown rice at dinner tonight! He obviously has very good taste.

Anyway, I could go on for a while about my nephew's superior qualities, but I'll get back on track here and tell you about this recipe. The inspiration for these cakes came from these brown rice balls on 101cookbooks and a recipe for savory rice cakes in Gourmet Today. I knew I wanted to go with an Asian flavor profile, and ended up mixing the rice with black sesame seeds, green onions, carrots, and ginger. After a quick pan fry, the cakes get wonderfully crispy on the outside, and they make a nice light meal with some eggs on the side. I'm pretty excited about this new way to use my beloved brown rice, and I'm looking forward to experimenting with more variations on this idea.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Tempeh tacos


A few weeks ago, Meghan posted about making tempeh tacos for dinner. I was immediately intrigued - I've mentioned before that tempeh is not my favorite vegetarian protein, and that I have only really enjoyed it in veggie burgers. For some reason, I prefer tempeh when it is crumbled rather than eating it in large pieces, so the idea of trying it in tacos appealed to me. I decided to create my own spin on this idea, adding some brown rice to the filling to give the texture more variety, and flavoring the filling with ingredients I usually use when making chili: onion, garlic, tomatoes, cumin, chile powder, smoked paprika, and cilantro. For toppings I used some red cabbage that was quickly marinated in lime juice and honey, which added both color and crunch, as well as creamy avocado and salty feta cheese. I really, really loved the result. These were wonderful vegetarian tacos that didn't use the typical combination of beans and loads of cheese. I think this might be my favorite tempeh preparation so far, and I'm definitely more open to playing around with more tempeh recipes now.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Roasted carrots with browned butter and thyme


Sometimes I can't really decide whether something I've made is too simple to count as a real recipe. For example, the side dishes I cook for normal dinners are often just sauteed or roasted veggies with some salt and pepper, and the breakfast I eat most days is yogurt with fruit and granola. In my opinion, even though dishes like those are consumed often in my house, they aren't really worth blogging about. So when does a dish cross the line and become interesting enough to tell people about? I don't think there's a single right answer to this that applies to every blog - it really depends on the style of the blog and the target audience. I'm personally still trying to figure out my thoughts on this question and would love to hear your opinions!

I was originally unsure whether this carrot dish was blog-worthy. Carrots and thyme is not an original flavor combination, but it is a pairing that I honestly think is transcendent. There's something about thyme that elevates roasted carrots to a whole new level. The dish would be pretty good without the browned butter, but the butter makes it a bit more special, worthy of serving at a holiday dinner. So once I thought about how much I like this simple side dish, it seemed clear that I should share it with you and my decision was made!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Orzo with shrimp, red peppers, and mushrooms


I feel like I've been seeing orzo recipes everywhere lately. On the blogs, there was this one and this one, and my cousin served an orzo dish when I was at her place last week. So I decided to join the club and cook an orzo recipe for dinner last night. Mediterranean flavors work so well with orzo, so I went in that direction - why mess with something good, right? When I cook pasta, I usually bulk it up with lots of vegetables, and this time I used red peppers and mushrooms. With shrimp, olives, basil, feta cheese, and a generous amount of lemon juice, this recipe is healthy and packed with flavor. I'm so glad we had a lot of leftovers - I can't wait to eat this for lunch tomorrow!


Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Beet pizza with arugula pesto and Gorgonzola cheese


For some reason, I've been seriously craving pizza lately. I made a classic tomato and mozzarella version last week, and wanted to experiment with something more interesting next. I had the idea to turn a classic beet salad into a pizza and decided to use Gorgonzola instead of the more common goat cheese (I love me some moldy cheese). I know I wanted to incorporate arugula, but didn't really just want to pile it up on top of the pizza. I mean, is there any good way to eat pizza with a huge pile of leaves on top without having them all fall off? I was also looking for a way to add moisture to the pizza and decided to kill two birds with one stone by making an arugula pesto to use as pizza sauce. I enjoyed the way the final pizza came out - the different components definitely worked well together to make a tasty pie. My pizza craving isn't gone though, and I've got more pizza dough in the what toppings should I play with next??

Beet pizza with arugula pesto and Gorgonzola cheese
Makes a 16-inch pizza

Some tips: I like to form the pizza on a piece of parchment paper placed on the pizza peel. That way, the pizza and parchment slide easily into the oven. Also, if you don’t have a pizza stone, you can bake the pizza on a large baking pan.

This recipe makes more pesto than you'll need for the pizza. You can eat the leftovers with pasta or as a sandwich spread, and you can freeze it if you want to store it for a while.

1 lb. pizza dough (I used whole wheat), at room temperature
3 medium beets (about 20 oz.), scrubbed and stems trimmed to 1 inch
2 cups arugula leaves (packed)
⅓ cup walnuts
⅓ cup coarsely shredded Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
½ cup Gorgonzola cheese, crumbled (you can also use any other type of blue cheese, or use goat cheese if you prefer)
4 tsp balsamic vinegar

Preheat oven to 350 deg F. Put beets in a baking dish with enough water to cover the bottom of the dish to a depth of 1/8 inch and sprinkle with salt. Cover tightly with foil and bake the beets in the preheated oven until they can be easily pierced with a sharp knife, about 1 hour (this could take more or less time, depending on the size of the beets). Remove beets from the oven, uncover the pan, and cool the beets. Cut off their tops and roots and rub off the skins. Cut beets into ¼-inch slices.

If you have a pizza stone, place it on the bottom rack of the oven. Increase oven temperature to 500 deg F (or as high as your oven can go).

While beets are baking, combine arugula, walnuts, and cheese in the bowl of a food processor and process until coarsely chopped. Add olive oil and process until smooth. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

When oven is heated to 500 deg F, stretch dough out to a 16-inch round on a pizza peel. Spread arugula pesto on dough and top with beet slices. Sprinkle cheese crumbles over the beets. Slide pizza onto the preheated stone and bake until crust is crisp, about 8-10 min. Remove pizza from oven and drizzle balsamic vinegar over the pizza. Let cool for a couple minutes, and serve.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Za'atar breadsticks with Middle Eastern tomato sauce


Okay, so it seems like I am the last food blogger in the world to join PinterestI think I'm more of a verbal than visual person, so I prefer browsing recipes in cookbooks or recipe sites rather than looking at pictures alone. But I finally joined Pinterest and made my first boards last week, and although I'm not totally obsessed, it sure is fun! I've especially enjoyed collecting pictures of pretty desserts, which lets me imagine that I might become a master of cookie/cake decorating in the future (considering how rarely I make anything with frosting, this is highly unlikely). Of course, I've also been pinning pictures of regular meals, and one of these inspired this recipe. While I was browsing pizza pictures, I came across one of za'atar pizza, which I thought was a cool idea. Za'atar is a Middle Eastern spice blend that is often mixed with olive oil as a dip for bread. I decided to take this idea and make za'atar-dusted breadsticks, with a jazzed up tomato sauce for dipping. Making the tomato sauce also gave me an opportunity to use another traditional Middle Eastern ingredient that I just bought for the first time - pomegranate molasses. I'm not going to make any claims as to whether the tomato sauce I made is anything like an authentic Middle Eastern recipe. I'll just say that it's tasty, a little sweeter, spicier, and more tart than the tomato sauce you may be used to, with a fruity undertone from the pomegranate molasses. The sauce works well with the spices on the breadsticks, and this dish makes a fun appetizer. Now if you'll excuse me, I have some more pictures to pin!


Have you ever used za'atar or pomegranate molasses?