My name is Rachel and I absolutely love to cook (and talk about it, gush about it, and brag about it..hence the “kvelling” for all you non-Yiddish speakers and Clueless watchers out there). A self-proclaimed vegivore, my recipes are simple, healthy, and sustainable...with a focus on whole and local food. So, come along with me as I kvell (not kvetch) in the kitchen, and enjoy!
This Sweet and Smoky Beet Burger recipe comes straight out of my newly purchased cookbook, The New Persian Kitchen by Louisa Shafia. Believe it or not, I’m not a big cookbook buyer: I guess I can partially blame this on the lack of storage space in my closet of an apartment, but mostly it’s because I seek out a lot of my recipes from cooking websites and blogs. (Plus my two staple cookbooks, The Moosewood Cookbook and American Medical Association’s Family Health Cookbook, are so wonderfully comprehensive.)
That being said, what drove me to purchase The New Persian Kitchen? Specifically, to pre-order and carry home upon its arrival, hugged tightly in my arms, like a proud, excited child who had just acquired her very first homework assignment?
The descriptors in this recipe title —sweet and smoky—hold a clue. What drew me to The New Persian Kitchen was the juxtaposition of savory and sweet in almost every recipe. Riddled with the aromatic fresh herbs one would expect from Middle Eastern cooking: dill, mint, parsley, cilantro, and tarragon; a heavy reliance on onions and garlic, and unique regional spices such as turmeric, dried limes, and lemony sumac; this cookbook has it’s savory and spice side down pat. But what really intrigued me were the natural sweet flavors it was always paired with: pomegranate molasses, chopped dates, dried cherries, rose petals. The result is a balance of “hot” (gardi) and “cold” (sarmi) flavors, as Louisa describes, which play off each other in a most harmonious and flavorful fashion.
Case in point: these delicious burgers! Smoky paprika, sautéed onions and garlic, and earthy lentils and brown rice make up the bulk of the “meat” of these burgers, which are dotted with jewels of golden raisins, sweet beets, and nutty walnuts. (Yes, spend that extra $3 and buy golden raisins. It’s worth it!) These bursts of sweet flavor offer a pleasing, unexpected jolt that make this “veggie burger” anything but your plain ol’. Upgrade your choice of condiment by replacing ketchup with a saucy fruit chutney or cool mix of plain Greek yogurt, diced cucumbers and tomatoes stirred in red wine vinegar, and generous sprinkling of fresh dill.
This recipe makes 8 servings. I recommend making the entire batch and refrigerating (for up to 5 days) or freezing the remainder for another meal. Between the lentils and brown rice, the burgers take a bit of time to make, so get your prep done in one fell swoop to eliminate the time commitment for next round!
Sweet and Smoky Beet Burgers (from The New Persian Kitchen)
2 tablespoons grapeseed or olive oil, plus extra for searing
1 yellow onion, thinly sliced (about 2 cups)
1 cup peeled and grated beets (from about 1 small beet)
3 garlic cloves, crushed
1 cup walnuts
½ cup golden raisins
2 teaspoons sweet smoked paprika
½ cup cooked green lentils, rinsed and rained
2 teaspoons sea salt, plus more for seasoning
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more for seasoning
2 cups cooked short-grain brown rice, at room temperature
1. In a medium skillet, warm the grapeseed or olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring frequently, until it starts to soften and caramelize, about 10 minutes.
2. Reduce the heat to medium-low and add the beets, garlic, walnuts, raisins and paprika. Cook, stirring frequently, until the beets are starting to brown and the walnuts are toasted, about 8 minutes.
3. Transfer the onion-beet mixture to the bowl of a food processor and pulse several times until chunky. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl and add the lentils, sea salt and black pepper. Set aside.
4. Replace the bowl of the food processor (without washing) and blend the brown rice with the egg until a coarse puree forms. Add the rice mixture to the onion-lentil mixture and mix with your hands until combined. Divide the mixture into 8 portions and shape each one into a patty just under 1 inch thick.
5. In a large cast-iron skillet set over medium heat, warm enough grapeseed or olive oil to coat the bottom. Place the patties in the skillet and cook undisturbed for 5 minutes. Gently flip the patties and reduce the heat to low. Cover the skillet and cook the patties until they are warmed through and have a firm, golden-brown crust, 8 to 10 minutes longer. Remove the patties from the skillet and serve immediately with desired accompaniments.
I’m going to start this post with a caveat: there will be no lighting your kitchen on fire in the making of this dish! My oh-so-poetic title for this Shrimp Sauté, sans Flambé dish is not a flambé-gone-terribly-wrong kitchen horror story, but rather a well thought out cautionary approach with a likable rhyme to boot. I intentionally skipped the risk of lighting my kitchen (and myself) on fire by foregoing the flambé step. For all my chef 101s, flambé (pronounced flahm-BAY) is when one adds alcohol to a hot pan to create a burst of flames. But I am posting this recipe because despite forgoing the flames, this dish still has serious fire— and is totally delish.
This dish is AMAZING! I had no intention of even posting this afterthought of a quick weeknight dinner, but the dish was all around excellent and I couldn’t wait to share it with you. I’ve made a lot of pleasant yet mediocre white wine and tomato sauces for quick meals in the past, but the secret to this recipe is to use dry Vermouth—the naturally infused herbs in the alcohol pair perfectly with the succulent shrimp, which maintain that wonderful fire-kissed taste from the very first step, a quick sauté on high heat. Spicy chili flakes offer a nice kick against the acidic tomatoes and lemon. I wrote that baking the skillet to melt the feta was optional...but do you really want to skip that bubbling, golden goodness? I served this dish atop a hearty bed of quinoa, accompanied by a light salad of arugala tossed with olive oil, the lemon half you don’t need for this recipe, and salt & pepper. All done in 25 minutes from start to finish. So maybe no flame, but certainly worthy of a jeté!
Shrimp Sauté, sans Flambé
2 tbsp EVOO, divided
1/2 lb (about 22) raw shrimp, peeled, deveined, and patted dry
2 large garlic cloves, minced
1/4 tsp hot red pepper flakes
1/2 cup dry Vermouth
1 15 oz can diced tomatoes, drained
1/4 cup chopped parsley + 2 tbsp, divided
1/4 cup crumbed feta
juice of 1/2 lemon
1 cup cooked quinoa
1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
2. Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Flash cook shrimp for 1 minute, stirring frequently, until shrimp just begins to pink and the outsides turn brown. Remove shrimp from heat and set aside in a small bowl.
3. Add remaining olive oil (1 tbsp) to the skillet; reduce heat to medium- low. Add in garlic and red pepper flakes, stirring constantly so garlic does not burn, for 2 minutes. Add in 1/4 cup dry Vermouth and cook until Vermouth thickens and half the liquid is evaporated; about 3 minutes.
4. Return heat to medium and add tomatoes to skillet. Cook for 2 minutes and add the rest of the Vermouth (1/4 cup), chopped parsley, and dash of salt & pepper. (lf at this point too much liquid has evaporated, pour in more Vermouth.) After 1 minute, return shrimp to skillet. Turn off heat.
5. Sprinkle juice from 1/2 lemon over shrimp and tomato mixture, and add the crumbled feta cheese. Place skillet in the oven and bake for 6 minutes, or until cheese is melted and golden on top. (This step can be skipped if you don’t mind forgoing the baked feta. Simply sprinkle in skillet and stir around for a more cheesy sauce; or sprinkle raw feta atop dish before serving as a garnish.)
6. Remove skillet from oven. Pour contents of skillet evenly over 2 bowls of quinoa, and sprinkle with remaining chopped parsley.
The beginning of Passover kind of reminds me of the start of school. Every year it sort of creeps up on us, its commencement marked by the requisite shopping trip. The obligatory matzoh pick-up at the supermarket is like going to Staples for school supplies.
Opening the first box is reminiscent of a reunion with a long-lost friend. Its so good to see you again! Has it really been a whole year? But after we excitedly make our first matzoh PB & J and enthusiastically assemble some matzoh pizza, we start to get a bit bored of our square, unleavened friend. Maybe there’s a a matzoh brei thrown in there as well to mix it up (although I’ve never been a huge fan.) Serious Eats does offer a great guide of 3-ingredient matzoh sandwiches kosher for Passover here. But by day 5, its the texture variety from other grains like a toasted bagel or slippery bowl of pasta that I miss the most.
Luckily, our friends in the Mediterranean come to the rescue with this Spinach Matzoh Pie. Yep, its all Greek to me! This recipe swaps the paper-thin phyllo dough found in Spanakopita (Greek spinach pie) with soaked matzoh sheets; creating a succulent, layered casserole with a distinct texture to relieve you of the mundaneness of consuming matzoh plain. And while a lot of classic Jewish savory mains like blintzes and kugels can be calorie-laden thanks to butter and margarine; the healthiness of this recipe is completely up to you: use fat-free milk, low-fat cottage cheese & reduced feta for a low-cal dish; or full-fat dairy if you desire a richer treat.
The two ingredients that really elevate this dish above and beyond your standard spinach & feta combo is the dill and nutmeg. Chopped dill adds an enlivening burst of freshness to each bite, while nutmeg contributes a nutty sweetness that pairs beautifully with the creamy cottage cheese. The matzoh textures are varied throughout too: while the top layer of matzoh is golden and crisp, the inner layers are incredibly soft, blending seamlessly with the pie’s delicious filling.
I have one strongly-opiniated piece of advice: Do NOT add extra salt to this recipe! Between the cottage cheese and feta, there is plenty of sodium to go around. I wasn’t really thinking and reflexively added a dash of salt & pepper to the spinach/onion mixture and cottage cheese blend; and my pie verged on overly salty. Next time I will definitely omit the salt.
Spinach and Matzoh Pie (adopted from Epicurious)
1 medium Vidalia onion, finely chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 (10-ounce) packages frozen chopped spinach, thawed
1/3 cup chopped dill
1 (16-ounce) container cottage cheese
2 cups milk
3 large eggs
1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
6 ounces feta, crumbled (1 1/2 cups), divided
6 matzos (about 6 inches square)
1. Preheat oven to 400°F with rack in middle.
2. Cook onion in oil in a large heavy skillet over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until golden, 12 to 15 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, put spinach in a sieve and press out as much liquid as possible. (Or cook with the skillet top off so liquid evaporates.) Add spinach to onion and cook, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in 1/3 cup dill and 1/2 teaspoon pepper.
3. Purée cottage cheese in a blender with milk, eggs, nutmeg, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper until smooth. Reserve 2 cups in a bowl and stir remainder into spinach with 1 cup feta.
4. Stack matzos in a deep dish and pour reserved cottage-cheese mixture over them. Let stand 15 minutes to soften.
5. Arrange 2 soaked matzos side by side in a generously oiled 13- by 9- by 2-inch (3-quart shallow) baking dish. Pour in half of spinach filling. Cover with 2 more matzos, then pour in remaining filling. Put remaining 2 matzos on top and pour any remaining cottage-cheese mixture over them. Sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup feta.
6. Bake, uncovered, until golden and set, 30 to 35 minutes. Cool 10 minutes, and serve warm.
One swallow does not a summer make. But one sardine does a winter make? For this humble but mighty fish, an unexpected cold-weather benefit confirms it surely does!
Named after the Italian island Sardinina, sardines are definitely the herring family’s hippest and healthiest member. Famed restaurateur Gabriel Stulman’s newest West Village hotspot, Chez Sardine, literally translates to “House of Sardine.” And while ordering the minute ocean-dweller off a menu will most likely feature the fish in it’s entirety, eyes, skin and all; canned sardines (available skinless and boneless) provide an excellent alternative for easy and painless home cooking.
For such a little fish, the sardine’s health benefits are disproportionately tremendous to its size. Omega-3 fatty acids support cardiovascular health by lowering triglycerides and cholesterol levels, play a significant role in cancer prevention and bone and joint strength, and even promote ocular health. Worried about Mercury and PCBs? Not a problem in this bottom-of-the-food-chain fish. No wonder fish oil softgels are all the vitamin and supplement rage right now.
But in the dead of winter, when cold dry air manifests its nasty self in full force through thirsty skin and chapped lips, sardines offer an additional perk to these already lucrative health benefits: dry skin relief, packing a serious moisture punch from the inside out. Chockfull of essential fatty acids that calm inflammation and keep skin conditioned, sardines can help alleviate your winter epidermal woes— straight from the kitchen. Your own home, a chez sardine!
A frequent ingredient in Mediterranean and Italian cooking, sardines offer a briny, salty burst of flavor that enriches many a dish, especially pastas. In this classic Sicilian Pasta con Sarde, the fishy protein elevates a simple “pantry” spaghetti to a whole new level of sophistication, flavor and nutrition.
Sautéed in an ambrosial stew of tomato, fennel, garlic and raisins, the sardine chunks are disseminated throughout the sauce, toning down the fish’s concentrated intensity. The dish is finished with a generous smattering of toasted breadcrumbs, pine nuts and fennel fronds to deliver a delightful crunch and texture twist against the slippery noodles.
Merci, chez sardine. Sincerely, your skin and taste buds.
Pasta Con Sarde
-1 tin sardines (can use skinless & boneless) packed in olive oil (about 4 ¼ oz.)
-2 cloves garlic, minced
-1 fennel bulb, thinly sliced, plus fronds
-½ teaspoon hot red pepper flakes
-1 cup crushed or diced canned tomatoes, with juice
-⅓ cup raisins
-¼ cup flat-leaf parsley
-3 Tbsp pine nuts, toasted
-¼ cup vermouth or cooking wine
-Juice of 1 lemon, plus 1 tablespoon zest
-⅓ cup toasted whole-wheat breadcrumbs
-¾ pounds dry whole-wheat linguine or spaghetti
-Salt & Pepper to taste
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
Open the sardine tin and drain a tablespoon of the oil into a large skillet, over medium heat. Add fennel (not fronds) and cook until fennel softens and begins to caramelize. Add garlic and red pepper flakes. Cook for 2 minutes.
Add tomatoes in their juice and the raisins. Cook uncovered, so the liquid reduces, and then pour in vermouth or cooking wine, simmering for 5 more minutes.
Add the sardines to the skillet, breaking up slightly with a spatula. Meanwhile, pulse together toasted breadcrumbs and parsley in a blender or food processor, and then add 1 tablespoon of lemon zest to the breadcrumb mixture. Set aside.
Add lemon juice to the tomato mixture, and season with salt and pepper.
Add pasta to boiling water and cook according to package directions. When pasta is al dente, drain and transfer to the skillet, cooking for 3 more minutes. Add a tablespoon of pasta water if sauce looks in need of liquid.
Serve pasta immediately, sprinkled generously with breadcrumb mixture, pine nuts, and fennel fronds.
I’m at it again—in defense of tofu.
I woke up on this lazy Saturday morning, in deep rumination over what kind of omelette to make for breakfast; conducting a complete mental inventory of all available veggies and cheeses. I open the fridge, and:
No eggs. I blink. No. Really? Really, confirms the refrigerator. It’s 17°F degrees outside, Accuweather informs me. Feels like: 11°F. Inside, I’m already wearing a blanket and wool socks. So my corner bodega run is out of the question.
And then I see, partially obscured in the crowded kitchen cabinet, a box of silken tofu. It is staring at me. (It IS.) I challenge you, it smirks silently. OK, I think, challenge accepted! Let’s do this. I’ve been reading a lot of rave reviews over tofu breakfast scrambles; egg-lovers swear they are converts to the soy substitute based solely on this dish.
This recipe is fantastic. The silken tofu was so light and airy, producing a crumbly, melt-in-your-mouth effect. The orange juice, apple cider vinegar and soy sauce yielded a very tempered acidity, and the light spice provided flavor without overpowering in the least. Put it this way: even though the scramble has hints of tumeric and cumin, this is NOT an Indian curry dish. It is 100% breakfast appropriate. A bountiful assortment of veggies add a wonderful flavor and nutrient boost to the piquant protein, plus a lovely crunch thanks to the kale and carrots. All wrapped up in a whole-wheat tortilla, this scramble is the perfect way to start your day. I enjoyed the tofu veggie scramble wrap plain, but you could definitely serve with a side of salsa.
Another nice things about tofu breakfast scrambles is their versatility; seasonal/favorite vegetables are welcomed based on your preference—mix it up to keep the recipe fresh—and spices are flexible. Tumeric is often used because it’s yellow color is reminiscent of eggs, but if you’re not feeling the spices, consider mixing your scramble with chopped parsley or basil. Cheese (vegan or real) is also a great addition; I chose feta, which complemented the leafy greens.
Spiced Citrus Tofu Veggie Scramble (derived from Lunch Box Bunch)
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 large carrot, shredded (or 1 cup matchstick carrots)
1 small onion, diced
1 tsp cumin powder
2 tsp tumeric
2 Tbsp soy sauce
2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 small orange, juiced (about 1/4 - 1/3 cup juice) +1 tsp orange zest OR 2 Tbsp orange juice concentrate
15 ounces extra firm tofu, cubed or Silken tofu, well-chopped
1 cup frozen or fresh spinach
1 cup kale, thinly sliced, ribs removed
Optional veggies: shredded zucchini, swiss chard, bell pepper, mushrooms, tomato
Optional cheese: feta, mozzarella, cheddar, vegan cheese
1. Prepare tofu, squeezing out as much excess tofu liquid as possible. (This can be achieved by wrapping tofu in a paper towel and microwaving for 1-2 minutes).
2. In a large saucepan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add carrots, onions, and about half the amounts of soy sauce, apple cider vinegar, tumeric, cumin and a dash of pepper. Saute until the onions have translucent edges and the carrots have softened, about 5 minutes.
4. Add in the remaining amounts of the seasonings, along with the tofu, orange juice and orange zest (or orange juice concentrate). Saute for 4-5 minutes over medium heat, cover off so the excess liquid evaporates.
5. Taste-test the mixture and modify the spices as needed.
6. When tofu is just about cooked and all the excess liquid has been absorbed or steamed off, add in spinach and kale. Saute until veggies wilt.
7. Remove pan from heat. Fold in cheese, if desired. Transfer scramble to a large bowl.
8. In the same pan, heat a light coating of olive oil from a spritzer (or cooking spray). Add tortillas, one at a time, and cook for 2-3 minutes, until tortilla browns. Flip and cook for same amount on the other side. Spoon scramble into warm tortillas, and serve with salsa if desired.
In winter, I find that I’m prone to two distinct types of soup cravings. The first is for hearty chunky soups, like a loaded minestrone, and the second demands a thick pureed soup, like a smooth-as-silk squash. Possessed of the latter, I found the prettiest acorn squash at the Farmers Market last week (I have to brag, it was gorgeous!), and set out to make this Roasted Acorn Squash Soup with Rye Crostini.
I can’t say enough about what an exquisite medium acorn squash is for a soup. It perfectly complements the flavors of so many soup-friendly ingredients. Apple, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves enhance the squash’s natural sweetness, while autumn-rich notes like sage, ginger and onion tip the scale towards savory, balancing out the sweet. Beta-carotene rich carrots gives the soup a substantive texture boost while illuminating it’s signature orange hue. The result: a melt-in-your-mouth maze of flavors, every bite as smooth as it is scrumptious—and nutrient packed too! In fact, this soup is so rich in taste that a generous dollop of Greek yogurt is recommended to mellow it out a bit pre-serving, adding even further creaminess along with a healthy protein boost.
Equipped with a a flattened, round loaf of Nordic Bread’s Finnish Ruis bread—a dense, hoppy-tasting whole-grain rye from the Union Square Greenmarket —I set out to make croutons, but the bread proved too flat. Instead, I came up with something even better: crostini mini-spoons! I toasted thin, slivers of bread, which crisped perfectly in the toaster oven thanks to a quick spritz of olive oil. The crostini mini-spoons acted as the perfect vessel to sop up the pureed soup. Cut along a thin diagonal, the crostini slivers can also be made easily with a whole-grain baguette.
Upon serving, the dish was really beautiful: a vibrant tangerine-hued soup, laced with thin swirls of creamy white yogurt, accented with the floating crostini crisps on top. Add a thyme sprig for a final aesthetic touch, and this one-pot-wonder—a must-have starter for cold-weather dinner parties— will certainly turn heads. Warning: requests for second helpings will keep your ladle busy!
Time Saving Tip: The squash can be roasted up to a day in advance, and then refrigerated until you’re ready to start the soup. Also, after removing the squash seeds, feel free to salt & roast them along with the squash, removing from heat after 30 minutes. They make a nice crunchy snack while waiting for the soup!
Roasted Acorn Squash Soup with Rye Crostini (derived from A Sweet Pea Chef)
Yield: serves 4 as main dishes; 6 as a side
2 acorn squash, sliced in half and seeds removed
2 tbsp. olive oil
2 carrots, chopped
1 large gala, macintosh or jonah gold apple, cored and chopped
1 yellow onion, chopped
2 tsp fresh grated ginger
1/4 tsp. dried sage
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper (optional)
1/4 tsp. ground allspice (or even parts cinnamon, nutmeg, and clove)
3 cups vegetable or chicken stock
salt & pepper to taste
balsamic or red wine vinegar
optional garnishs: rye crostini, Greek yogurt (non-fat or low-fat), thyme sprig
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. Line baking sheet with aluminum foil or parchment paper. Place squash, skin-side-down, onto baking sheet. Lightly sprinkle with salt and ground black pepper. Roast in oven for 45-50 minutes, or until flesh is tender and skin is starting to turn golden brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool. Once cool, remove flesh from skin by using a spoon and scooping out the flesh. Discard skin and set flesh aside.
3. In a large, deep pot, heat olive oil over medium-high heat until hot. Add carrots, apple, and onions and saute until tender, about 6-8 minutes. Once tender, add ginger, sage, cayenne, allspice, squash and vegetable or chicken stock. Stir well and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes.
Remove pot from heat and puree mixture, either with an immersion blender (my fav!), a blender (in batches) or a food processor.
4. Once pureed, add salt & pepper, adjusting seasoning to taste. Mix in a generous splash of vinegar. Garnish with rye crostini*, dollop of Greek yogurt, and thyme spring, if desired.
To make rye crostini, cut bread or baguette very thinly on the diagonal. Line a shallow baking dish with tin foil and arrange slices in a single player, mist with a generous spritz of olive oil. Bake in oven or toaster oven until brown and crispy.
Ginger cookies are a holiday staple, and this recipe delivers quite the gingery bite with its mix of both freshly grated and ground ginger. Crispy on the outside but chewy on the inside, a hearty dose of molasses delivers a richly spiced burst of flavor in every bite. They may be small in size, but these cookies are not subtle in taste.
While the ginger is certainly the supporting actor in this play, it is the whiskey that steals the show; used in three different ways to elevate these cookies way above and beyond your average gingersnap. Soaked up in the cherries (which deliver a lovely sweet contrast to your spicy cookie), mixed in the batter, and drizzled in the frosting, the whiskey delivers a silky warmth that enhances the ginger flavors without overpowering. People often make fun of my grandfatherly love of McCallan on the rocks, but even if you aren’t a big whiskey fan, I promise the spirit’s presence won’t turn you off to this cookie. Similar to using white wine when roasting chicken, the heated whiskey brings depth to its surrounding flavors and softens the saccharine sweetness, rather than delivering an alcoholic punch.
If you choose not to ice your cookies, make sure to dip each dollop of batter into raw or white sugar before baking—they are designed to be frosted with sugar, and thus are not as sweet as a regular cookie on their own.
Iced Whiskey Ginger Cookies (adapted from Half Baked, created by Batch from Scratch)
Yield: 2 dozen cookies
1/2 stick Butter
1/4 cup Brown Sugar
1 T White Sugar
1 cup Flour
1 T Cocoa Powder
1/2 tsp Ground Ginger
1/4 tsp Ground Cinnamon
1/8 tsp Ground Cloves
1/8 tsp Grated Nutmeg
1/4 tsp Salt
1/2 T Fresh Ginger
1 1/2 T Molasses
1/2 tsp Baking Soda
1 T Whiskey (heated)
1/4 cup Whiskey Soaked Cherries
Whiskey Icing: Confectioner’s Sugar, add Whiskey until desired consistency (about ¾ cup sugar for 1 T whiskey)
1. In a large bowl, whisk the butter, brown sugar, and white sugar in a mixer until smooth and creamy, about 3 minutes. In a medium bowl, mix together the dry ingredients: flour, cocoa powder, ground ginger, ground cinnamon, ground cloves, grated nutmeg & salt.
2. Add the fresh ginger and egg to the butter/sugar mixture, and beat until fully incorporated. Add molasses to butter/sugar, mixing thoroughly.
3. Dissolve baking soda in hot whiskey.
4. Mix half of the dry ingredients into butter/sugar. Beat in baking soda/whiskey mixture, and then add remaining dry ingredients. Stir in whiskey soaked cherries.
5. Refrigerate for 2 hours, then scoop batter in heaping 1-teaspoon portions onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Because the batter is extremely sticky, I recommend coating your fingers lightly in powdered sugar to make the cookie-molding process easier. Space cookies about 2 inches apart. Flatten each cookie slightly with a spatula. Bake @ 325 for 12 minutes.
6. When cookies have cooled, whisk together confectioner’s sugar and whiskey in a small cup, and ice using a piping bag or clipped plastic bag.
Although I have an effusing love for all winter vegetables, the historically picked-on brussels sprout holds a special place in my heart. Neither cucurbita nor root vegetable, this stand-alone guy needs someone to have its back! Correction: needed. Now, a new preparation for the sidelined vegetable has elevated its status to most popular at the table.
Whether the thin crispy shreds are generated by mandoline or sliced by hand, the hash-like consistency of a shredded brussels sprout has suddenly become cool, reassigning its traditional whole-baked preparation to an old and farty distant cousin. And topped with a fried egg? Could not be trendier. These shredded sprouts are popping up all over New York City on brunch and dinner menus alike.
So, what’s so wonderful about these tiny (and now established, shredded chic) cabbages? They’re nuanced with flavor subtleties, perfected in this Crispy Brussels Sprout Hash with Cider Glaze dish. The brilliance of this recipe lies in the flavors that you only just taste—a slightly nutty brussels sprout, a barely there warmth from a toasted hazelnut, a tangy apple punch that’s tempered by the bitter sprout. Each bite unmasks an enchanting conduit of complementary tastes, carefully crafted— but chew slowly, or it might pass you by.
The reduced cider glaze is so enticing, it’s hard to resist from drinking the leftovers by the spoonful. I recommend saving it for the next time you oven-roast vegetables. Using apples two ways, the hearty cider glaze ads a signature caramelized sweetness and shout out to autumn’s favorite fruit. If you have access to the NYC Greenmarket, I highly recommend using Red Jacket Orchard’s Spiced Apple Cider. Cold-pressed, unfiltered, and sans added sugar, the fresh juice is about as close to eating whole fruit as you can get. Plus, the mulling spices add wonderful subtle hints of cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves.
While the word “hash” usually immediate conjures an association with “unhealthy”, this recipe is quite the opposite. When it comes to nutrients, brussels sprouts earn an A+. Containing sulforaphane (hello anti-cancer properties), vitamin C (goodbye oxidative stress), plus good sources of dietary fiber, vitamin A, folate, potassium, and manganese, whether you eat this dish for breakfast or as a main meal side, know you’re starting off on the right foot.
This recipe hails from Clean Plates. What is it? Think Zagat’s with a healthy twist. On a mission to equip New Yorkers with a direct link to the most sustainable restaurants in NYC, Clean Plates rates restaurants by both the taste of their food and the quality of their ingredients. Whether you’re using their published guide, website or iphone app, Clean Plates’ search filters like gluten-free, flexitarian, and organic meat have all dietary preferences covered.
Crispy Brussels Sprout Hash with Cider Glaze (from Clean Plates)
1¼ pounds Brussels sprouts, shaved on a mandoline or thinly sliced
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
½ teaspoon sea salt
2 cups apple cider
¼ cup apple cider vinegar
½ shallot, sliced into rings
2 teaspoons honey
freshly cracked black pepper
½ cup hazelnuts, roughly chopped
Optional: fried egg (1 per serving)
1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or foil. Divide sprouts evenly between baking sheets. Drizzle olive oil over all; sprinkle with salt. Toss sprouts to coat, then spread in single layer.
2. Roast sprouts until edges are brown and crispy, stirring occasionally, about 25 to 30 minutes, rotating baking sheets from top to bottom and front to back about halfway through.
3. Meanwhile, combine cider, vinegar and shallot in small saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat; cook until liquid is reduced to about ½ cup and is thick and foamy when tilted, about 30 minutes. Stir in honey and cook 5 minutes longer. Glaze will be thin; it will not look like syrup. Strain through fine mesh sieve; discard shallot. (Optional. I kept the shallot in and loved its contribution in both flavor and texture.) Add black pepper to taste.
4. Remove sprouts from oven; drizzle evenly with glaze. Return spouts to oven; continue roasting until glaze is bubbly and thickened, about 10 minutes.
5. Meanwhile, toast hazelnuts in single layer in medium skillet over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, until lightly browned, about 3 minutes.
6. In serving bowl, combine glazed sprouts and toasted hazelnuts. Grind additional black pepper over top and serve. Top with fried egg, if desired.
What a great marriage of two abundant summer staples in the height of their season-corn and blueberries- in this Maine Blueberry Cornbread recipe! Like any good couple, they complement each other well: the blueberries bring moisture to the traditionally dry bread, plus a sweetness to the course, earthy base. I think these two are going to be very happy together.
I love how this recipe adapts a traditional hearty winter bread into a light, sweet treat for summer. However, because frozen blueberries are an option here, this cornbread can be made all year around. Whole wheat flour added to course cornmeal creates an earthy whole grain base, and 2/3 of the fat traditionally derived for butter are substituted for a heart-healthy vegetable oil such as olive oil or canola. Honey adds a lovely floral fragrance that gives more depth to the bread than granular sugar, and further brings out the natural sweetness of the blueberries.
I toyed with the idea of adding fresh corn kernels to the recipe, but ultimately decided against it to preserve the light and airy nature of the cornbread. If possible, eat this blueberry cornbread while still hot: the blended flavors are truly mouthwatering fresh out of the oven.
Optional toppings include, jam, butter, or an extra drizzle of honey. Try a few fancy butter ideas from Recipe Girl: honey-cinnamon butter (1 stick softened butter + 1 tablespoon honey + 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon) or maple butter (1 stick softened butter + 1 tablespoon maple syrup).
Chop into large squares for an easy on-the-go breakfast or serve as a mid-afternoon snack with a hot cup of tea. This Maine Blueberry Cornbread also makes a great addition to a late summer picnic: wrap a loaf and pass around to break off piece by piece.
Maine Blueberry Cornbread (original recipe here)
Yield: 6 Servings
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup yellow cornmeal
2 tsp baking powder
¼ cup honey
½ tsp salt
½ tsp baking soda
2 tablespoons vegetable oil (I used canola)
1 tablespoon butter (can use an extra tbsp of vegetable if you want to avoid butter. However, the more butter used, the more fluffy the bread, so keep that in mind!)
¾ cup buttermilk
1 large egg
¾ cup blueberries, fresh or frozen (if frozen, no added sugar), plus ¼ cup
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray a bread/loaf pan with nonstick spray.
2. In a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients and mix gently. (Flour, corn meal, baking powder, baking soda and salt)
3. In a small bowl, add the oil, softened butter, honey, buttermilk and egg and mix until creamy. Add to dry ingredients until a lumpy batter forms. Gently fold in the blueberries, and once patter is set in pan, sprinkle remaining 1/4 cup blueberries on top.
4. Bake at 400 degrees for 25-30 minutes or until the bread is golden brown, and a toothpick insterted into the center comes out mostly clean.
I could easily just eat spoonfuls of this pesto on its own, but this Sundried Tomato Pesto 3 Ways can potentially apply to three different dishes -crostini, cold pasta salad and hot pasta.
Although full of fresh Italian flavors (sundried tomatoes, quality extra virgin olive oil, garlic, hot red pepper flakes, and red wine vinegar), this pesto does not contained processed basil - which is actually not a required ingredient for the name. Pesto is derived from the Italian word pestare, meaning to pound or crush (think mortar and wooden pestle) and defined by the hearty consistency from its finely chopped ingredients. Sundried Tomato Pesto 3 Ways’ versatility stems from both a variation of ingredients and texture flexibility, depending on whether you want to make a tapenade or a sauce.
What really make this dish is my tried-and-true secret ingredient: cottage cheese! I really like to sneak it in thicker sauces because it provides a creamy and cheesy element that is both filling and lowfat. It especially stands out in this recipe because it eliminates the need for too much olive oil- an over oily pasta salad is one of my kitchen pet peeves. The intense flavors of the sundried tomato are perfectly balanced with the mild cottage cheese, creating quite the tasty combo.
This recipe was inspired by The Pioneer Woman’s Sundried Tomato Pasta Salad. I liked the idea of using tomatoes in two forms (fresh chopped and sundried pureed), and how refreshing a cold pasta salad can be on a hot day (yes I am thinking of you Thursday, 97 degrees? Really?) Another way to explore the versatility of this recipe might be to create the pesto as a tapenade for a baguette-based crostini, but make extra and thin it out with additional vinegar and olive oil to use later as a sauce for pasta.
Use the measurements in this pesto more as a suggestion; you should focus on achieving the right consistency in the food processor and that will require some flexibility. For the crostini, the pesto should be textured, choppy and free of liquid. For the cold pasta salad, aim for a thick sauce and firm veggies (you might want to blot the fresh tomatoes to rid them of extra juice before adding in.) The warm pasta variation is the only one where liquid is a good thing- feel free to sautee tomatoes and olives in chicken broth and/or white wine before adding to the dish; serve with a generous slice of Italian bread to sop up the broth.
Sundried Tomato Pesto 3 Ways
Yield: 2 cups; serves 8 with pasta
1 1/2 cups sundried tomatoes - if using oil-packed, skip adding additional olive oil and the pre-processing soaking in the directions)
2 cloves garlic
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup lowfat or nonfat cottage cheese
1 tsp hot red pepper flakes
salt & pepper to taste
8 oz pasta (corkscrew or penne, fettuccine can be used for the warm pasta)
3/4 cup chopped, pitted olives (green, black or mixed)
1 large tomato
10 basil leaves
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1/8 cup chicken broth and/or white wine (warm pasta)
1/3 cup walnuts (crostini)
1 french baguette (crostini)
Parmesan Cheese (optional)
1. Soak sundried tomatoes in warm water for 20 minutes. Discard water. Combine sundried tomatoes, garlic, cottage cheese, red pepper flakes, salt & pepper, and walnuts (optional) in a food processor. Drizzle in olive oil and vinegar (start with 1/8 cup of each and work your way up to make sure the pesto does not get too liquidy.)
2. Serve on top of 1 1/2 inch slices of toasted baguette; garnish with finely chopped olives and parsley.
Cold Pasta Salad:
1. Cook pasta according to package directions, but add the sundried tomatoes to the pot of water before bringing to a boil. When water boils, remove sundried tomatoes with a slotted spoon. Combine with rest of pesto ingredients in a food processor while pasta cooks.
2. Drain pasta and rinse with cold water until no longer hot. Combine pasta and pesto in a large bowl.
3. Chop the fresh tomato, olives, parsley and basil. Add to bowl and mix until salad is thoroughly combined. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese (optional.)
1. Cook pasta al dente, but add the sundried tomatoes to the pot of water before bringing to a boil. When water boils, remove sundried tomatoes with a slotted spoon. Combine with rest of pesto ingredients in a food processor while pasta cooks.
2. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Chop tomato and olives and add them to the saucepan for 1 minute. Add chicken broth and/or white wine until liquid begins to boil, then simmer for 5 minutes.
3. Drain the al dente pasta and add back into the saucepan, along with pesto. Mix together and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, for 3 minutes. Remove from heat and toss with chopped parsley, basil, and Parmesan cheese (optional).
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