4/24/2013

coconut yellow split pea soup

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For this soup recipe, I adapted 101 Cookbooks' recipe for coconut red lentil soup.

Fresh out of red lentils (or, totally forgot to buy them), this sweet soup transformed into coconut yellow-split-pea-only soup. If you have red lentils, you can swap out one cup of the split peas. Either way works and you will need:

2 cups yellow split peas
7 cups water
2 medium carrots, diced
1 tablespoons fresh minced ginger
1 tablespoons curry powder 
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 small white onion, chopped
1/3 cup golden raisins
1/3 cup tomato paste
1 cup coconut milk
Sea salt & cracked pepper to taste
Cooked brown rice for serving (optional)


Start by rinsing you split peas (and/or lentils) well. Place them in a large soup pot with the water and bring to a steady boil. Reduce to a simmer and add your carrots and half your ginger. Cover and simmer - it will take about 30 minutes for the peas to soften.

This next step is fun, fragrant and super weird. I can now say that we've learned how to sufficiently toast curry powder and that sautéing raisins and onions is how to recreate that sweet-spicy aroma of most hole-in-the-wall Indian restaurants. YOU'RE WELCOME.


SO: the recipe instructs, in a small pan over medium heat, to toast your curry powder until fragrant, which, as we discovered, happens just about instantly. Set aside. In the same size pan, add your butter and onions. Stir for one minute than add in your remaining ginger and raisins. Sauté for 1-2 minutes, then add your tomato paste. Heat for another minute, then add your toasted curry powder. Mix thoroughly, then add this mixture to your soup pot.


Now's the time add your coconut milk. Stir to incorporate, then simmer uncovered for about 20 minutes. This soup will thicken the longer it simmers, so letting it go longer is really a matter of personal preference. We let ours simmer for about an hour and it achieved an almost stew-like texture.


Serve with a scoop of brown rice (or grain of your choice). Tasty!


4/17/2013

cherry chocolate-chip walnut cookies

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Okay. I dare you to make these and not eat at least six the minute they pop out of the oven. It's basically decadent trail mix baked into a cookie. I win because, as far as I know, I made this one up.

Okay, I just did a quick Google search - turns out I didn't, but I can still live with that. These were that good.


I came home from work the other day and really, really, really needed a cookie. You know the kind of day I'm talking about. Long, stressful, noisy. I had an incident on the train with an older gentleman that would be cruel to discuss on a food blog. No more details are necessary.


Cookies help on our best days, I think, so there's really no harm in accepting their cure on one of our worst. This is the perfect recipe to keep on hand for just those moments. You will need:

2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 sticks of butter, softened (ZING)
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2 cups of your favorite chocolate chips (I like semi-sweet best for cookies)
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 cup dried cherries, chopped


Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Combine your dry ingredients, using a whisk, in a medium bowl and set aside. In a separate bowl, beat together your butter, sugars (AH!) and vanilla extract until creamy. If you've had a particularly bad day, you may be tempted to stop the whole process here and dig into this bowl with a ladle. But keep going, persevere past this point; I promise, it's worth it.


Add your eggs, beating well with each addition. Slowly beat in your flour mixture. Add your chocolate chips, folding in with a rubber spatula. Repeat this step with your walnuts and cherries.


Drop rounded tablespoons (or bigger, again, depending on your day) on an ungreased cookie sheet and bake for 9-11 minutes. I made my cookies relatively small - you know, so I could eat more and feel less bad about it - and found that 10 minutes made for the perfectly chewy-with-crisp-edges cookie.


What bad day? That's exactly what you'll think to yourself after you've had a few of these - after a sensible dinner, of course. A bit of crunch from the walnuts, melty chocolate and a tart sweetness from the cherries, this cookie may be all you need to face the world again.


4/09/2013

raspberry walnut tart

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During my time in Oaxaca, I perused some new food blogs, The Lovely Food Blog being one among them that stood out. While I bookmarked many recipes from this beautiful blog (seriously, check out the pictures and get back to me), one that absolutely stood out as a must-make was the Raspberry Walnut Tart.


(Charlotte puts it together with "brilliantly crunchy cacao nibs." Since these nibs first proved difficult to find and then difficult to justify per cost, I subbed in some semi-sweet chips.)



For this (slightly amended) recipe, you will need:

3/4 cup of butter, cubed
1 1/3 cup of sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 eggs
2 cups ground almond (or almond flour)
1 cup all-purpose flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (mini is best!)
3/4 cup of almond milk
2 1/2 cups of frozen raspberries


Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Beat your butter, sugar, and vanilla together. (Alright, confession: YES, I am still without a proper mixer, handheld or otherwise. But we are managing to create more counter space in our thumbnail of a kitchen. Maybe soon.)



Add your eggs one at a time and beat to incorporate. In a separate bowl, mix together your flours (almond and all-purpose) and baking powder. Stir in your walnuts and chocolate chips.


Combine your wet ingredients with your dry, then add in your 3/4 cup of milk. Gently fold in the milk without over-mixing.

Okay. Okay okay okay. Charlotte suggests that you pour your batter into a 12-inch tart tin. Which leads me to my next confession: in all my baking endeavors in our new place so far, I know I definitely, definitely need a better array of baking, well, instruments. I do not have a 12-inch tart tin, or any tart tin of any kind, for that matter. I have (this is true): four muffin tins (that hold six muffins each), two 8-inch pie pans, 2 9-inch round cake pans, and 2 9x5 loaf pans. Which actually seems like a lot, given our tiny space, but these were all gifted to me at some point, which I am grateful for, and a tart tin is next on the list.

So, should YOU be the proud owner of a 12-inch tart tin (like THIS ONE?!), pour away. If not, you may make do, as I did, and equally distribute your batter between your two 9-inch round cake pans. It wasn't beautiful, but goodness gracious, it was tasty.

Next, cover your tart/cake with a single layer of frozen raspberries.



Bake for about 50 minutes, or until golden on top. Charlotte instructs that if the "cake is still wobbly in the middle, it's not done!" No, it is not. She also says it's better for it to be a bit underdone than overdone. So, essentially, a gooey cake trumps a dry one; can't argue with that logic, now can we.

Now, I think the use of chocolate chips rather than cacao nibs makes a more than major difference here. Cacao nibs are smaller, much less sweet, and have a crunchy texture. The chocolate chips gave this dessert a more melty, cookie-like quality. The raspberries on top gave it a bit of sweet, like a cookie-cake with jam on top. Who doesn't like a cookie cake with jam on top?

Next time, or at least soon, I will invest in the proper tools to make this one right. But for a first attempt, it was very, very good.





4/03/2013

roasted white beans + rainbow carrots

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Carrots were never one of my favorites growing up. What!, is the reaction that statement has garnered from most people. They have a natural sweetness; don't kids like that? Maybe. My aversion could also have something to do with the time I ate an entire bag of baby carrots before my first eye doctor appointment, because I heard they could help your vision.

I really, really didn't want glasses. Too bad for me, though, because I DID get glasses. And a stomachache.

Anyway: I DO like carrots now. Very much, in fact. One of the only vegetables out there that doesn't lose much (if any!) nutritional value through cooking, I like them raw, shredded, roasted, etc. So imagine my happiness to discover that carrots come in many vibrant shades other than the orange hue we all know so well. Yellows, reds, purples. Some of which are even a different shade one you peel them, and then yet another shade when you chop them. It's true. I once went from purple to orange to yellow during this very process. Magic!


So of course, all I wanted to do with these beauties was prepare them in some way that would preserve their color. Other than eating them raw.

Blanching is the perfect way to keep or even enhance a vegetable's vibrancy. It's a quick-cook method that keeps your meal looking colorful.

But first, the white beans:


Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Evenly spread about 8 ounces of cooked cannelli beans (I also tossed in a few chickpeas) over a small roasting pan. I kept the seasoning simple: a healthy dose of olive oil, squeeze of lemon juice, salt, pepper, some white sesame seeds, and some chopped fresh dill. Toss to coat evenly, then roast for about 20-25 minutes, rotating once halfway through.

With your beans in the oven, prepare an ice bath (which is exactly what it sounds like: some cold water and some ice) in a medium-sized bowl. The ice is the second step in the blanching process; quickly bringing your vegetables from boiling water to ice water shocks your vegetables into stopping the cooking process.



Bring some water to a boil in a small saucepan. Once it's at a steady boil, toss in your chopped carrots (I cut them on the thicker side) for about 1-2 minutes. Use a strainer or a slotted spoon to scoop up your carrots and place them into the ice bath.

Let them chill for about 30 seconds to 1 minute. They should still look beautiful and bright!

While you wait for your beans to come out of the oven, just leave your cooked carrots in a strainer or a bowl. This small side dish is just right when it's slightly warm or even room temperature.


When your beans come out of the oven, toss them together with your carrots. Drizzle with a little more olive oil and garnish with another sprinkle of sesame seeds and more fresh dill.