July 11, 2010 § Leave a Comment
A couple of weeks ago, my aunt Kathi had a few friends come over for a meal on a rainy day. In her kitchen she had a small butternut squash, spinach and other ingredients on hand, so she combined 3 recipes into one and came up with this killer lasagna. Kathi often experiments with vegan meals, and while this one isn´t strictly dairy-free, you´ll notice that the amount of cheese is quite minimal. She also noted that she, like me, can´t stand to dirty every pot in the kitchen, so she combined her steps in the simplest way, to ease cooking and clean up. I cannot wait to try this recipe when I get back to my kitchen and when butternut squash start popping out of my garden! Bon Appetit!
2 cups butternut squash, chopped in bite-sized pieces
2 cups portobello mushroom
1 cup crimini mushrooms
2 cups fresh spinach
½ cup walnuts
¼ cup sun-dried tomatoes
¼ cup golden raisins
¼ small onion
lots of garlic
1 small, green zucchini
½ red pepper
½ green pepper
3 cups lactose free milk
1/3 cup flour
2 tablespoons butter
pepper/nutmeg/salt to taste
½ cup Parmesan cheese
½ cup mozzarella cheese
3 oz goat cheese (1/4 of 11 oz tube)
12 lasagna noodles
Step 1: Roast veggies
Place cut butternut squash, portabella mushrooms, sliced green zucchini and garlic (4 cloves or so) into roasting pan, rubbed with just a touch of olive oil, and bake for about 30 minutes in 375 oven. While roasting, take sun-dried tomatoes, raisins and walnuts and soak in 1 cup of water. When veggies are cooked and slightly crisp, drain tomato & raisin mixture and combine with roasted vegetables.
Step 2: Make white sauce and sauté the rest of the veggies
Next, take a pan (that will be used later for the white sauce) and add washed spinach (with a bit of water), onions and crimini mushrooms. Sauté in the water for about 7 minutes, until vegetables soften and become aromatic. Remove veggies and add to mixture of roasted vegetables. To create the sauce or roux, add 2 tablespoons of butter to the now-empty pan and melt on medium heat. Mix in the flour, seasonings and the Parmesan cheese (reserving about 1 tablespoon of Parmesan for the top for later), and add the milk slowly, so it won’t lump up. Keep stirring until all lumps are gone. Add goat cheese and mozzarella into this white sauce – reserve just a touch of mozzarella for the top.
Step 3: Make noodles and combine
Boil noodles according to packaging instructions and layer them into a pan, 4 across. Split the veggie mixture into 3rds. Put some of the white/cheese sauce onto the noodles followed by a third of the veggies. Repeat these steps for the second layer. On top of the third and final layer, sprinkle a touch of parmesan and mozzarella.
Cover with foil and bake in a 375 degree oven for one hour. Let sit before eating; if necessary, reheat for a meal later in the day.
April 11, 2010 § 1 Comment
Last Saturday I sprawled out on the cement patio with my sunglasses, a glass of iced lemonade and my favorite Mollie Katzen cookbook: Vegetable Dishes I Can’t Live Without. I was moments away from chugging the rest of my lemonade and whipping up Mollie’s broccoli with peanut dressing recipe. But then I flipped a page and landed on “Fried Lemon Slices.” Fried lemon slices!? Sure enough, Mollie sliced a couple of lemons into paper-thin slices, lightly coated them in flour and fried them in a glug of oil. I’m never one to doubt Mollie, but I’ll admit, I was a bit skeptical, plus – who am I kidding – peanut dressing sounded delectable. But after I read her recipe intro about the lip-smacking, addictive nature of fried lemons slices, I sat up, yanked a lemon off of our tree and scampered up the steps into our house. I roasted a couple of small fennel heads from the farmers’ market and fried a lemon’s worth of slices to stick on top. Guys, this garnish isn’t just additive – it’s fantastic! Each bite is tart, savory, crispy and a little salty.
I purposely set a couple of slices aside to see how well they’d keep in the fridge overnight, and while they certainly weren’t bad (I ate the leftovers in about 45 seconds), they lost some of their crispy texture. Two final notes about the cooking process: keep a close eye on the slices because they burn quickly. Second, when you first remove the slices from the pan, they might look a little soggy, but they’ll crisp up after a couple of minutes as they cool.
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
several cracks pepper
olive oil (at least 2 tablespoons)
Mix flour, sea salt and pepper in a small bowl and set aside. Slice lemon into paper-thin slices. Heat olive oil in a brimmed skillet on the stove on medium-high until hot – test with a drop of water; if the oil splatters slightly, the oil is hot. Dust each lemon slice in the flour mixture, shake off any excess and place in the oil. Cook for approximately 1 minute on each side until nicely browned. Remove from heat and let cool on a paper towel. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Diet Notes: Nut-free, vegan
February 13, 2010 § 2 Comments
I’ve been experimenting with a new muffin recipe. While I promise not to walk you through each of my blunders, Cooks’ Illustrated-style, I thought I’d take a moment to share two distinct changes I made from the original recipe, and why I veered off course.
If you take a peek at the ingredient list below, you’ll see a 1/3 of a cup of vegetable oil. The original banana crumb recipe – inspired by Marcia, a Tucson Bunco Babe – called for 1/3 cup melted butter. While that recipe yields delicious, flavorful results, I found that when I swapped oil for butter, the muffin was so moist it seemed to melt in my mouth. What’s more, when I used oil, the shelf life of the leftovers was longer and maintained the texture, while my buttery muffins grew stale and chewier in the same amount of time.
The second distinct change I made was the inclusion of brown sugar in the batter. I recently learned from the latest Cooks’ Illustrated magazine that brown sugar – like corn syrup – is hygroscopic (meaning both corn syrup and brown sugar attract and retain water). That’s why cookie dough that contains high levels of either of these two ingredients yields moister, chewier cookies. The original muffin batter calls for 3/4 cup of sugar. I swapped out a third of the sugar and replaced it with brown sugar. The results were wonderful: the muffins were moist with a subtle, warmer flavor that I attributed to the more molasses-y taste of brown sugar.
For the record: I love dense muffins (especially berry-bran!). But this time, I wanted to create a light, airy muffin that you might eat with an afternoon cup of coffee or tea. I was aiming for coffee cake, not pound cake.
1 cup white flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3 bananas, mashed (approx. 1.5 cups)
1/2 cup evaporated cane sugar
1/4 cup lightly-packed brown sugar
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup lightly-packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons whole wheat flour
1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons butter
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees and grease muffin tins. In a medium-sized bowl combine flour, soda, powder, salt and spices. Combine with a fork.
2. In a separate bowl, lightly beat egg. Add banana, sugars, oil and vanilla. Mix until thoroughly incorporated. Slowly add flour mixture to liquid, gently stirring. Stir just until incorporated; don’t over-beat. (If the batter is over-stirred, gluten will form, yielding a denser muffin.)
3. Prepare crumb mixture: combine flour, cinnamon and sugar in a small bowl. Break in butter until the dough resembles coarse peas. Set aside.
4. Ladle muffin batter into greased tins. Fill 3/4 of the way to the top. Sprinkle with crumb topping. Bake 15-18 minutes until toothpick comes out clean. Let sit in muffin tins for about 5 minutes before removing. Serve warm or at room temperature. These muffins also freeze and thaw wonderfully.
Diet Notes: Nut-free
September 14, 2009 § 1 Comment
This past week my extended family from Alaska, California and Phoenix flocked down to southeastern Arizona for a family-reunion-style bash. We ate, almost constantly, for 7 days straight.
Take yesterday, for example: My dad barbecued baby zucchini, strips of sweet potato, garlic cloves, beets, Yukon Gold potatoes with fresh rosemary, corn on the cob, eggplant slices and fresh summer squash from a local farm. We piled huge bowls of these roasted veggies along with slices of melon (and BBQed meat slabs) on the giant living room table and shouted expletives about Sarah Palin and the art of making perfect corn.
The day before, my Aunt Kathi and I were in the driver’s seat. At 11am we started chopping heirloom tomatoes, tearing arugula, slicing bell pepper, roasting garlic, stirring flour and butter into sauces, sauteing eggplant with garlic and spinach, chopping sun-dried tomatoes, roasting sweet potatoes, dicing calamata olives, crumbling fresh mozzarella, feta and goat cheese and whipping up five big batches of pizza dough in preparation for a 2pm pizza smack-down. We made six small pizzas (all pictured below), but our all time favorite was the Sweet Potato, Pecan and Goat Cheese pizza with caramelized onion and basil. If I weren’t still trying to digest from the past seven days, one of these pizzas would be in the oven as I type.
Ingredients for the Pizza:
1 batch pizza dough
few brush strokes olive oil
1 small sweet potato
1 head garlic, roasted
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons honey
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 cup goat cheese, crumbled
1/4 cup pecans, crumbled
1/4 cup basil, torn (we used purple basil)
Methods for Pizza Making:
1. Prepare dough in advance.
2. Heat oven to 450 degrees. Cut sweet potatoes into small slices and remove peels from garlic. Toss potatoes and garlic in olive oil. Roast approximately 10-15 minutes until crispy.
3. While potatoes/garlic bake, heat a few tablespoons of oil in a large-brimmed skillet. Cut onion into slices. When oil is hot, add onions. Cook until they reduce and become browned and slightly crispy. Add balsamic vinegar and honey. Cook until liquid evaporates and onions become caramelized. Set aside.
4. Spread dough with hands or rolling pin on corn meal surface, preferably a top a pizza peel. Heat oven to 500 degrees.
5. Cover dough liberally with white sauce and a few dollops of pesto.
6. Add sweet potato slices and garlic, pecan crumbles and goat cheese. Spread onions on top. Scatter basil and any other favorite toppings. Brush olive oil around edges (optional).
7. Bake pizza 10-12 minutes minutes until edges are crisp.
Sweet potato + pecan pizza, half vegetarian, half with chicken sausage.
Ingredients for Garlicky White Sauce (inspired by Pam Anderson’s “Perfect Recipes”)
1 + 1/4 cup organic milk
3/4 cup water or vegetable broth (or pop in 1 bullion cube)
3-4 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons organic butter
3 tablespoons flour
1/4 cup fresh parmesan cheese, grated
Methods for White Sauce: In a small pot, heat milk, water/broth and garlic until nearly simmering. Remove from heat. Melt butter in a second medium-sized skillet and whisk in flour when butter starts to sizzle. Add milk/broth mixture to butter and flour and whisk until smooth. Cook until thick and bubbly. Stir in cheese. Set aside.