Saturday, November 28, 2009

Chai Tea

I drink a lot of tea in the winter. Chai is one of my favorites. I like to make a few cups worth of this mix and keep it in a small jar-- but drink it within a few days, because the spices lose flavor fast. If you have a coffee grinder, that's a good appliance to use for spice grinding. Clean it thoroughly before (and after) by grinding about a tablespoon of rice in it and wiping it out very well with a paper towel. If it's a very filthy device, do two rounds of rice grinding. A mortar and pestle will work very well too!

Use about equal parts spices and tea.

For 2 cups:
1 heaping teaspoon black tea leaves (or a teabag. PG Tips is my favorite kind of bagged tea)
1 heaping teaspoon ground spices:
~3 cardamom pods
1/4 stick cinnamon (or a big pinch of the ground stuff)
Big pinch whole cloves (don't use the pre-ground ones, they taste like nothing)
Small pinch peppercorns
Big pinch grated fresh ginger (if making to consume immediately) or the dry stuff (if making to save for a bit)

To brew, heat water to just below boiling and brew in teapot or cup for 4-5 minutes. The tea will sink to the bottom of the cup or pot into a mucilaginous goo that is very strong-tasting... You can attempt to strain the teapot before decanting into a cup, but it's fairly futile. Just let the grounds settle to the bottom of the cup.

Add a good quantity of warmed milk (cow and soy are the best-- rice milk is too watery for my tastes), and sugar/honey to taste!

Sriracha-Maple Sauce

I love sriracha ! This is my go-to tofu marinade/sauce, and it is more protocol than recipe. Thin it down with water and it makes an excellent marinade for tofu or your meat of choice. Skip the water and cook down, and the result is an excellent barbecue-type sauce.

1 part sriracha (cock sauce)
2 parts apple cider vinegar
2 parts maple syrup
Ground cloves (lots)
Ground pepper (less)
Ginger (if you like)
Salt (to taste, but only if using as a marinade. Sriracha does have a bunch of salt in it already)

For a marinade: Mix up a quantity to cover your protein. Pull tofu or meat out and cook up in skillet or on the grill. If and *only* if used for tofu, may cook down marinade into sauce. (So many germs in meat...)
For sauce: Simmer on stove in saucepan over medium-low heat until thick and syrupy. Should be pretty quick.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Red Velvet Brownies

Here's the logic: Brownies = kind of chocolate cake. Red velvet cake = kind of chocolate cake. By the law of transitivity, red velvet brownies should be real tasty. These have a small amount of beet in them for added complexity of flavor and to make the red color without food coloring. Sounds weird, but trust me, it's good, and has a very interesting flavor and keeps moistness without too much oil.

Despite making 3 batches of this one, there are also no pictures in existence....

Red Velvet Brownies, Cream Cheese Frosting


1/2 c beet puree*
2 c sugar
1/2 c oil
2/3 c buttermilk (or 1/3 c lowfat milk + 1/3 c yogurt)
1 egg
6 T cocoa powder (1/4 cup + 2 T)
2 c white flour
Pinch of salt
1/2 c chocolate chips
Red food coloring (optional)

Mix beets, sugar, oil, buttermilk, and egg. I like to do this in the food processor because I've already used it to puree the beets.
Add cocoa, flour, and salt.
Fold in chocolate chips.
Add a few drops of red food coloring if it's not pink enough for you.
Put in greased and floured 11x7 pan.
Cook at 350 F for about 40 minutes, or until just set in center-- Underdone brownies are better than overdone ones...
Cool, then frost!


2 T cream cheese, room temperature
2 T butter, room temperature
2/3 c powdered sugar
Splash of milk
Splash of rum**
Dash of vanilla

Blend cream cheese, butter, and sugar together. Add liquids to thin and make a spreadable consistency.

*Quarter beets, steam them for ~30 minutes (or until fairly soft), then peel, and puree in food processor. Steaming preserves more color than boiling does. Or, use beets from a can. Or baby food, I guess.
** Can use extra vanilla and extra milk instead.

Apple Cake

No pictures exist of this because it was eaten too fast. This is my adaptation of a recipe we've had hanging around for ages, and I'm not sure where it originally came from. It's a rustic sort of cake, suitable either for dessert or breakfast. This apple cake purposefully has no cinnamon because I think it drowns out the fruity taste of apples. But you can add it in if you so desire, it would be tasty but different. Be sure to use the wheat flour though, it provides needed body and a really nice flavor.

Apple Cake

3 T butter
3 medium to large apples
1 1/2 T calvados, apple jack, or rum

2/3 c milk
1 1/4 c sugar
1/3 c oil
3 eggs

1 c whole wheat flour
1 c white flour
1 t baking powder
1/2 c chocolate chips

Chop apples into approximately 1/4 inch chunks.
Cook in frying pan over medium heat with butter until brown.
Add calvados or apple jack, cook for a couple of minutes to burn off alcohol.
Set aside.

Mix milk, sugar, oil and eggs in a bowl until smooth.
Mix flours, baking powder, and chocolate chips in another bowl.
Combine bowls, mix lightly.
Add apple and pan juices, mix lightly.

Put in greased and floured 9x13 pan. Bake at 350 F for 45 minutes or until a toothpick in center comes out with just a couple of crumbs on it.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Stuffed Peppers à la Left-Overs

Peppers can be stuffed with pretty much anything, but traditionally, it's usually rice and ground beef. Kind of boring. This version contains corn rather than rice (which I mark as a great improvement), and is topped with smoked pork, to make two distinct layers inside the pepper. The amount of meat/ savory topping here is quite minimal so I recommend using whatever you have lurking in the fridge rather than buying something-- leftover grilled chicken! Some fried tofu! A few strips of bacon! A quantity of mushrooms too small to use for anything else! Some deliciously-spiced beans! (and so on and so forth) Aim for something strong-flavored and crispy for textural and flavor balance with the rest of the pepper-- I do recommend frying whatever it is you're going to use.

Stuffed Peppers -- Makes 6 peppers, serves ~2 dinners and 2 lunches.

6 peppers of suitable size (Bell, or Ancho for more kick)
2 cups corn, cut off cob (Or 2 cups of rice, I suppose)
4 ribs celery
1 small onion or a couple of shallots
Salt, pepper, dash of oregano
~6 ounces savory protein goodness (I used some smoked pork, see note at beginning)
~1 cup cheese, grated (cheap cheddar used here)

Preheat oven to 350 F.
Fry up your meat/ soy / tasty savory thing. Set aside to cool briefly.
Cut off top of peppers and remove seeds. Put into lightly greased baking pan.
Chop celery and onion into small pieces. Mix with corn, and add salt, spices and herbs to taste. I used pepper and oregano.
Fill peppers with this mixture, leaving about an inch on top.
Chop up your protein into bite-sized pieces (if it's not already) and top peppers with it.
Top with cheese if you so desire.
Bake until the peppers are soft and the cheese is starting to brown, ~30 minutes? (I have a hard time keeping tabs on these things, but it's done when it's done, and it does take a while)
Serve with rice. Or corn I guess if you stuffed your peppers with rice.

Photo by Bodger.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Corn fritters V1.0

Like Bodger, I too have had corn on the brain, as it's the major landscape feature around here.  Indeed, the commercial variety "Super Sweet" was developed at our major Midwestern research university.  (There's even a plot of this corn planted just off the quad.)   This recipe is a simple pancake batter that's made up to be just a shade lighter, with copious sweet corn added to it, and spiced to taste.   I think it's tasty but not perfect yet-- version 2.0 will appear next season.  Don't attempt this out of season, sweet corn out of season is just a sad state of affairs.  Instead, consider this a work in progress, and something to try next year.   (Picture by Bodger)

Corn Fritters 1.0

Ingredients:  (Serves 2-3)

1 1/2 c flour
1 1/2 t baking powder
1/2 t salt
Dash of cayenne
Dash of black pepper

1 1/2 c water
2 eggs
2 ears of sweet corn, cut off cob
1.5 T butter, melted*

Butter for pan*

Mix dry ingredients well.  Mix wet ingredients well.  Mix together, but gently-- Alton Brown says quick bread batters should be stirred no more than 10 stirs, and he's pretty much the best.

Let your batter rest a couple of minutes while you heat a heavy pan-- a griddle or cast-iron skillet would be best here, heated over medium-high heat.  Add a bit more water to your batter if it is too thick.

Cook like pancakes-- butter the pan between batches, and flip when the top has just set and the bubbles cease to fill in.  The fritters will be fairly thick and hearty due to the corn, but don't worry, they WILL cook all the way through.

Alternatively, I bet these would be awesome deep-fried.  If you try it, let me know how it turns out?

*Substitute out if it's your need, but it will be better with the butter left in.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Curried Wheatberries

Now that summer is just about over, a nice light summer dish...

1 cup wheatberries
1 red bell pepper
1 green apple
Raisins and slivered almonds (to taste)
Curry powder (between 1 and 2 tablespoons)
3 tbsp Olive oil
3 tbsp Honey
3 tsp Apple cider vinegar

To make:
Soak wheatberries overnight.
Boil wheatberries, cover and cook until tender.
Boil raisins and lightly toast almonds (for extra flavor, otherwise this step can be skipped).
Cut apple and red pepper into cubes.
Mix oil, honey, vinegar, and curry powder to taste.
When wheatberries are done cooking, toss everything together.

Tastes great right away. And even better as cold leftovers the next day.

Corn Curry

serves 4-ish

This dish is confused about its origins and lands about halfway between an Indian curry and a Thai curry. Since it’s very much coconut-based, I expect it would drift Thai-wards more easily than India-wards. I think it’s delicious as it is.


  • Two medium young onions with green tops (each smaller than half your fist)
  • Kernels from 2 ears sweet corn (about 2 cups)
  • One small japanese eggplant (the length of your hand)
  • Two medium yellow squash (the length of your hand)

Spices to toast:

  • 2 tablespoons coriander seeds
  • 2 tablespoons cumin seeds
  • 2 tablespoons mustard seeds
  • 1 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
  • 3 or 4 whole cardamom pods (or about 1/2 teaspoon seeds)
  • 1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns

Spices to add without toasting:

  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne powder
  • 4 whole curry leaves, fresh or dried
  • 1 tablespoon fresh chopped basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

The other stuff:

  • One 400-mL can coconut milk
  • Several tablespoons vegetable oil for sauteing
  • 2 tablespoons gin
  • 1 cup cashews


  1. Slice the onions into slivers, keeping the greens separate. Cut the corn kernels off the ear. Slice the eggplant and the yellow squash into chunks around 1/2” thick.
  2. Toast the whole spices in a dry pan over medium-low heat until they smoke, darken, and pop very enthusiastically. Have a container ready so they can come out of the pan immediately when they’re done.
  3. Grind the spices thoroughly in a mortar and pestle or a very clean coffee grinder.
  4. Saute the white portions of the onion and the ground spices with a generous splash of oil over medium heat until the onion is about halfway tender.
  5. Add the eggplant. Saute more, until the eggplant is halfway tender.
  6. Add the squash, cayenne, onion greens, and salt. Saute another few minutes.
  7. Add the corn, curry leaves, basil, coconut milk, and gin. Turn the heat down and let it simmer until everything is barely tender.
  8. Adjust the spicing to taste.
  9. Serve over jasmine rice, topped with cashews.

Notes to the Protocol:

(1). Feel free to substitute zucchini for the yellow squash. Just don’t use too large a specimen of either one, lest you suffer The Bland.

(3). If your mortar and pestle is like mine, grinding large volumes of spices can be a bit of a hassle. I like to work in several batches that fit comfortably in the mortar, and also to pour each batch through a sieve when it’s halfway ground, letting the fine material fall into the pan and returning the chunks to the grinder. Don’t worry about making every fragment fit through the sieve, just repeat a couple times until you can see that all the tooth-breakers (e.g. intact fenugreek seeds) are gone.

(5). Eggplant will pretty much absorb all the oil you can give it. Add more iff needed to prevent sticking.

(6). If the cashews are salted, leave the curry a touch under-salty so they balance (and in case your guests are like me and want to, y’know, taste something besides the salt once in a while).

(9). I actually love this over corn chips, but L maintains that it’s too chunky for that. Try your favorite carb and tell me if it works.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Gin n' Tamarind Fizz

Gin n' Tamarind Fizz

Instead of a picture, how about an excerpt from a poem by Rudyard Kipling.  As you all know, he was an Anglo writer who grew up in colonial India and therefore I assume he was familiar with both gin and tonics and tamarind juice.  This poem is  called "The White Man's Burden." 

"Take up the White Man’s burden—

Send forth the best ye breed—

Go send your sons to exile

To serve your captives' need

To wait in heavy harness

On fluttered folk and wild—

Your new-caught, sullen peoples,

Half devil and half child"

Full text at, and at a number of other websites, and also at your local library!

Bodger and I just started up graduate school so we have had much less time for cooking lately.  We have been drinking a lot of gin and tonics to compensate.  This drink is a cousin of the gin and tonic, but the sour and bitter flavors come from tamarind juice.

Ingredients (Makes 2):

1 can tamarind juice or nectar, or some quantity x of concentrate
Soda water
Gin (I prefer Hendricks because I am a classy lady and Bodger prefers Burnett's because he is cheap)

Mix juice and soda water to taste-- if you're using tamarind concentrate, you will obviously want less.  I like 1 part juice to 2 parts soda water, but do it to your tastes.
Add gin.  One shot should be tasty, but I won't judge you if you put more in.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Fun with Phyllo Dough

Greek food is delicious and perfect for summer.

This is a quick and easy spanakopita recipe...

10 -14 sheets Phyllo Dough
8 oz Feta
3 Eggs
Olive Oil (a generous amount)

Layer phyllo dough, brushing with oil (I recommend 5-7 layers). Mix feta (about half a pound) with three eggs. Stir in spinach (if you are using frozen spinach, thaw it first, if you are using fresh spinach, cook it first). Pour mixture over bottom phyllo sheets. Add top sheets (brushing with oil, of course). Cook at 350 until the top is golden brown (about 30 min).

Honey-Cinnamon Puffs
One problem with cooking with phyllo dough is that you always end up with a lot of leftover... What better to do than make dessert? In an earlier entry, we introduced you to mockla. Here is another delectable (and slightly lighter) option.

Phyllo dough, in long strips

Mix honey (amount depends on how many puffs you are making, but start with 1/4 cup) and cinnamon to taste. Take three long strips of phyllo dough, layer, brushing generously with butter. Fold in half. Spread honey mixture over phyllo dough. Keep it pretty thin for a more delicate taste. Fold down top and bottom (the long sides) and roll. Brush top with butter. Repeat until you have used all your phyllo dough (or have made as many as you want...). Bake at 350 until golden.

And, if you are still looking for something to do with all that phyllo dough, I highly recommend this recent Leek and Yogurt Pie recipe from the New York Times.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

White bean and tomato salad

A light but filling summer salad-- eat with some sort of bread product and maybe some fresh fruit for dessert.  Use good quality tomatoes, please!

White Bean and Tomato Salad

Serves 2-3.


2 cups cooked navy (or other white) beans (1 can or 1/2 cup dry beans, cooked), cooled
2 beefsteak or 4 roma tomatoes
2 sprigs fresh oregano (about a tablespoon)
1 sprig fresh mint (about 1/2 tablespoon)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice
dash of salt


Cook your beans if they aren't already cooked, drain, and allow to come to room temperature.
Chop tomatoes coarsely.
Chop herbs coarsely.
Toss both with beans in large bowl.
Drizzle with olive oil, then lemon juice, toss to combine.
Add salt to taste.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Potato Gnocchi

Yep, I can't say that word, but it sure is tasty.  And relatively easy to make!  I always make a lot and then freeze it.  Serve with a bit of oil, chopped tomatoes and some herbs...or with pesto...or tomato sauce...or, my favorite, with lightly-cooked kale and tons of cheese.

Potato Gnocchi

2 potatoes, scrubbed clean
Splash of olive oil
Splash of water
2 c unbleached white flour
1/2 t salt

Big ol' pan
Potato masher or immersion blender

1.  Quarter potatoes and boil them until fork-tender.
2.  Let them cool.
3.  Remove skins-- I like to leave a few on for that "rustic" look, but you can't have a chunky dough here, at all.
4.  Add oil and salt and splash of water to potatoes and mash the hell out of them!  You want something completely smooth and lump free.  It will probably get sort of gluey, but this is OK.
5.  Add in flour a bit at a time, at first with a fork, and then kneaded in.  Use your hands, it's the best tool for the job.  Add more water if it's too dry.
6.  Let dough rest for a few minutes to absorb the water-- half an hour is good.
7.  Pinch or blob off bits of dough about an inch across onto a clean counter.  You can coat your hands and the surface with flour if dough is too sticky.
8.  Let them air dry for an hour or so, as it keeps them from sticking together in the pot.
9.  Cook in boiling water until they float, or
9a.  Lay out on baking sheet to freeze, then transfer to a plastic bag after frozen.  (This will keep them from sticking together too badly).  Once you want to eat them, cook in boiling water until they float, no need to thaw first.

The picture displays gnocchi with a chopped tomato, a big handful of chopped raw green beans, olive oil, and fresh oregano! 

Coating Chocolate Truffles

As said previously, chocolate has several crystal forming points. Know how chocolate chip cookies have soft bits of chocolate in them? Or how fudge sauce hardens to a sort of dull consistency? That's what you want to avoid here. In order for chocolate to harden to get that "snap" quality when you break it, and to maintain a glossy appearance after it hardens, it needs to be tempered. Which is to say, it needs to be heated to above 105 degrees F to eliminate the softer form of crystals, let cool until below 90 degrees F, and then some small amount of properly-crystalized chocolate needs to be added in to get it to form the right structure.

Deep breath. It's not so bad. Use your thermometer! And use a microwave, so you can control the temperature of very small amounts of ingredients.

8 oz chocolate
Something to coat in chocolate-- 1 recipe of chocolate truffle centers, dried fruit, pretzels...
Candied zest, dried fruit, sprinkles, for decoration (optional: see below)

THERMOMETER, which reads the 80 to 100 degree F range accurately.
Knife & cutting board
A couple of microwave-safe bowls.
Wax paper or aluminum foil.

1. Chop chocolate very fine.
2. Reserve about 1 teaspoon.
3. Nuke the rest of the chocolate for 2 minutes and stir every 30 seconds. It does not have to be totally smooth-- residual heat will serve to melt any remaining bits.
4. Measure temperature-- if above 105 F, stop. If not above 105 F, heat for a few more seconds.
5. Let mixture cool to below 90 F-- I find transferring it to a cooler bowl helps get to the right temperature with reasonable speed, especially in the summer when the kitchen is hot.
6. Then, keeping mixture between 80 and 90 F, stir in reserved chocolate (for seed crystals). Maintain temperature as you dip balls of chocolate in. A hot pad or very warm kitchen helps. 7. Optional: Put zest, dried fruit, sprinkles, etc on top of candies before they completely harden.

Honey-Dried Cherry Chocolate Truffles

This is a different sort of chocolate truffle, made with no dairy. Creamed honey and dried fruit make the centers, for a sweet and sticky and totally different experience. You can use a different dried fruit than cherries, but make sure that it is tart! Cranberries would work well also, I think.

Unfortunately, to keep the truffle shape, you do need to coat these with chocolate, and that does take some effort. But it is well worth it!

Honey-Dried Cherry Chocolate Truffles
Makes approx. 2 dozen, depending on size

1 1/2 c tart dried cherries-- look for unsulfured and unsweetened.
1/2 c creamed honey-- the thick, whipped kind that is off-white and comes in a tub.
8 0z unsweetened dark chocolate, for covering.

Knife & cutting board
Couple of bowls
Foil or wax paper.

1. Chop cherries as finely as possible. If you happen to have kitchen scissors, the easiest way to do this is to put them in a tall measuring cup and snip at them until they are all chopped up. If not, well, the finer the chop, the better the texture, so be patient!
2. Mix honey and chopped cherries together. You'll really have to work at it to get it smooth.
3. Place in refrigerator for a half-hour or so, or until less sticky.
4. Quickly roll out approx 1 inch balls of the mixture onto wax paper or foil covered tray.
5. Put tray in freezer so the centers harden and become less-than-impossible to work with. Leave them in for an hour or two.

Grapefruit-raspberry chocolate truffles

Chocolate truffles are actually not that hard to make, and are excellent gifts. The key is patience, working slowly, and if trying to temper chocolate, using a thermometer. Good ingredients helps too-- there are only 2 essential ingredients, cream and dark chocolate, so buy high-quality materials. You can also add small amounts of flavorings or liquor.

The reason why chocolate is hard to work with is that it is a crystalline solid that melts right around body temperature. This is also why it's so good... There are a variety of forms of chocolate crystals, which is why care needs to be taken when melting and then re-solidifying chocolate, and which means that chocolate does not like changing temperatures quickly. So work slowly and methodically!

This is a recipe I developed for my underage brother's late June birthday, so it has no alcohol in it and has (I think) a sort of summery flavor, though the ingredients are not seasonal in the least.
Grapefruit-raspberry truffles
Makes: About 2 dozen, depending on size.

For ganache centers:

8 oz (half pound) dark chocolate
1/2 c cream
1 T finely chopped grapefruit zest
1 t raspberry jam, with or without seeds

2 microwave-safe containers
Sharp knife & cutting board
Plastic wrap
Copious quantities of aluminum foil or waxed paper.
Pastry bag or ziploc bag with the end cut off

1. Chop chocolate VERY finely.
2. Heat cream in until bubbles start to form. Watch it doesn't foam because that will be a huge mess to clean up. Doing this in the microwave is the easiest because it's such a small amount. Use a large container-- I like to use at least a pint-sized mason jar for the task.
3. Add hot cream to chocolate a splash at a time. Do this slowly as chocolate is susceptible to heat shock and will seize. Stir to combine until all incorporated.
3a. If chocolate starts to seize (look grainy) STOP. Add a small amount of cold cream, and then stop. The texture will be less nice but it will still taste good.
3b. If there are still unmelted chunks of chocolate in the mixture, but it has not seized, you can spoon off a small amount of it and heat it in the microwave for 15-30 seconds. Stir this into the larger bowl a half-spoonful at a time to avoid heat-shock.
4. Add zest and jam, mix.
5. Cover bowl tightly with plastic wrap and let rest on counter for between 2 and 4 hours, or until about "toothpaste consistency." I use hippie toothpaste and find that "toms of maine" consistency is about right but "trader joes baking soda natural toothpaste of doom" consistency is too hard.

Several hours later:
6. After ganache has set, transfer chocolate to pastry bag or ziploc bag, and pipe out little blobs onto wax paper or foil-- about an inch across is about right.
6a. If your chocolate got too hard to pipe or you're feeling lazy, you can sort of spoon blobs onto your foil or wax paper, which will be just as tasty but less pretty.
7. Let harden for an hour or so. This timing is not critical, and if your kitchen is too hot, you can transfer the truffle centers to the fridge.

To coat centers:

You can now go one of two routes: Coat truffle centers with more chocolate (difficult!) or, roll them in cocoa powder or powdered sugar (easy!)

The easy method:
Approx. 1/4 c of cocoa powder or powdered sugar.

Large plate.

1. Pour cocoa powder or sugar onto plate.
2. Roll the truffle centers in this until they are coated.

The difficult method:

I'm putting this in a separate document because it is a process unto itself.

Friday, July 10, 2009

"elephant ice cubes"

My mom and sister were cleaning out the house and found a cookbook my sister and I made when we were 6, judging by the other side of the recycled paper we used.  It's done in sparkly metallic crayon and is entitled "Grose Respies."   It includes recipes for "Elephant Ice Cubes", "Hair and Hellacopter Soup", "Penguin Suap", "Slug and Snail Stew", "Garbig and Paper Stew", and "Peanut Butter and Crayon Sandwich."

So, here's Elephant Ice Cubes:  (sic; caution, not actually edible)

Makes 100.

1 elephant, 10 freezers.
1. Take the tusks off.
2. Grind the elephant. (Chop the elphant and take out the bones)
3. Pour poader in to mash.
4. Freeze

Saturday, July 4, 2009


This is a slap-dash baklava recipe that A and L came up with... The beauty of this is that it's just a method-- so, for non-fiddly, uneager to measure cooks (like us) here is "Mocklava."  It was given rave reviews at a party we brought it to.


Makes: about 12


Phyllo dough: we used half a package.
Walnuts: we used about 1/3 cup
Almonds: we used also about 1/3 cup
Olive oil: we used about 3 tbs
Butter: we used about 3 tbs

Chop up walnuts and almonds into fine pieces.  Pour enough honey on to adhere it all together and make it nice and moist and gloppy.  Mix in a few good shakes of cinnamon.

Cut phyllo dough into squares-- approximately 4 inches is what we used.

Put an equal quantity of butter and olive oil in a bowl, and nuke it/heat it to melt.  We used about 3 tablespoons of each, to combine the best of each flavor.  But one could just use oil, or just butter if one wanted.

Brush oil/butter mixture onto a baking pan, and onto a plate.  On the plate, assemble stacks of phyllo dough squares.  For each piece of mocklava, layer 5 pieces of phyllo dough, brushing oil between each layer.

Transfer phyllo dough layers to greased baking sheet.  Top with ~1 tablespoon of the nut-honey mixture.  Fold up the corners of the dough into the middle of the sheet to enclose the filling.

Bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes, or until the tops are golden and the kitchen starts to smell delicious.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Peanut Butter and Honey Cookies

Peanut butter cookies are delicious, as is honey. Peanut butter and honey together are even better. Almost as good as peanut butter and chocolate (recipe soon to come).

Peanut Butter and Honey Cookies

Makes 1 1/2 to 2 dozen.

1/2 c natural peanut butter-- chunky or creamy
1/2 c honey

1 egg
1/2 c brown sugar, packed

1/2 c butter
1 t vanilla
2 c flour

1 t salt

1 t baking soda

Mix peanut butter and honey together. Cream butter, sugar, and vanilla. Add egg, mix. Add peanut butter-honey mixture. Cream together. Mix in separate bowl flour, salt, and baking soda. Add half at a time to wet ingredients, mix. Portion into 1 1/2 inch balls on to baking sheet, flatten and cross the tines of a fork across the top.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Maple-Bacon Ice Cream

Those who know me, know that I love bacon.  I even own at least one t-shirt proclaiming this fact.  Some friends and I are attempting to experience as many of the tastes of the swine this summer as possible, and here is a piggy dessert.

I imagine that the maple ice cream base would be rather tasty with nuts in it rather than bacon-- I will attempt this in  the future.  A chocolate version may be in order as well.

Maple-Bacon Ice Cream
makes ~1 quart

2 c milk
1 c heavy cream
3 egg yolks
3/4 c maple syrup (the good kind, not the fake kind!)
3 strips of bacon (plus more for eating while you cook)

Ice cream maker
Rubber spatula
Heat-safe bowl
1 quart tupperware

Under 1 hour cooking, 4 hours to chill, 6 hours to freeze.


1. Fry your bacon until crispy.  
2. Place onto paper bag or paper towel to blot off som eof the extra grease and to allow it to cool.  
3. Pour milk and cream into saucepan.  Heat until foamy
4. Meanwhile: Whisk egg yolks with maple syrup until blended.
5. Once milk mixture is hot and foamy, turn heat off. 
6. Pour a small quantity (1/4 c  or so) into egg yolk mixture.  Whisk!  Repeat 3 times until a third of the mixture is in the egg yolk bowl and the eggs are thoroughly tempered.  If you didn't whisk vigorously enough or do this step too fast, the texture of the ice cream will suffer accordingly.  
7. Add egg mixture into milk mixture, and turn on the heat to low.  Continue to whisk and allow the mixture to thicken until it coats the back of a spoon-- this takes about 15-20 minutes on my stove.  
8. Crumble bacon finely and add to mixture.  
9. Put mixture in container and put in ice bath until it is room temperature, and then put in fridge overnight.  Gotta let those flavors mingle and get it nice and cold.  Then put in ice cream maker and freeze for 20-30 minutes or until soft-serve consistency.  Don't overchurn-- your texture will suffer.  
10.  Scrape back into container and freeze in freezer for several hours.

Homemade cheddar

Today I made homemade rennet cheese (basically, cheddar) with rennet Bodger mailed me and the recipe from this page:

It proved to be very easy to follow.  I'll let you know in a month whether or not it worked!  But it seems promising so far. 

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Tamarind Cookies

Here is some Harebrained Fusion at its best. I was pulling out ingredients for a batch of molasses-ginger cookies a few nights ago, and I had to shuffle aside some currying supplies on my way to grab the molasses. I saw the tamarind concentrate and thought "Hey, this is dark-colored and viscous like molasses is. Why not try it in cookies?"

My proof-of-concept batch was promising but unbalanced. LaBrehm sampled them, prescribed a spicing that worked, and made batch two. The results were delightful: chewy and satisfying, with a lot of flavor but a light citrus character that keeps them from landing too heavily, although I don't promise this will hold if you eat the whole plate at once. For your summer baking pleasure, we give you...

Tamarind Cookies

Cream together:
1 C sugar
1/2 stick unsalted butter
1 egg
2 generous tablespoons tamarind concentrate
Juice and zest from 1 key lime (or half a regular lime)
1 tsp finely-grated fresh ginger
Mix in a separate bowl:
1 C flour
3 pinches ground black pepper
3/4 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda

Stir the dry and wet ingredients together to make a wet, sticky dough. Drop tablespoonfuls about 2" apart onto an ungreased cookie sheet and bake until they're set but not crispy (8-10 minutes at 375° F). Cool them on a rack or towel and put them in an airtight container as soon as they get to room temperature; if they're left out too long on a humid June evening, they will absorb moisture and turn from chewy to floppy.

Makes about 3 dozen very thin 3" cookies.

A note about the tamarind: I used Tamicon brand concentrate, which is an extremely thick, dark, smooth-textured, very sour goop that looks a lot like molasses (hence my inspiration for this whole project). It comes in an 8-oz plastic jar with a red lid and it costs less than $2 at every Asian or Indian grocery I've checked, so don't rush to order it off the Internet unless that's how you roll anyway. I've also purchased tamarind by the whole pod and by the brick of pressed, unprocessed pulp. It's possible you'd get a slightly fresher tamarind flavor from these, but you're on your own for concentrate ⇌ pulp conversion factors.

strawberry-rhubarb sorbet

This is truly a made-for-each-other pairing-- the fact that strawberries and rhubarb are ripe at exactly the same time is a minor taste miracle, and even better, a sign that summer is just around the corner.  It's almost July as I post this, but I came up with this a month ago and it was one of the major impetuses for starting a blog.  The other was a cookie recipe that may be posted soon...  So consider this an idea for May 2010 (and beyond!).

Strawberry-Rhubarb Sorbet
makes ~1 quart

3/4 pound rhubarb, chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
1/2 pint (1 cup) strawberries, de-stemmed
3/4 c water
3/4 c sugar
1 tsp lemon or lime juice

Blender, immersion-blender, or potato masher
Ice cream freezer
Medium-sized saucepan
Rubber spatula

15-20 minutes cooking,  4 more hours till soft-serve, 7 more hours till done.  (total for the math impaired: 11ish hours. Patience is a virtue)

1.  Add rhubarb, sugar and water to saucepan. 
2.  Bring to simmer and keep there for 8-10 minutes, or until rhubarb is soft but has not yet disintegrated. 
3.  Add strawberries and simmer for 5 minutes, or until strawberries are soft and rhubarb is just beginning to fall apart. 
4. Add lemon juice.  (why do this, you say: rhubarb is very tart, can't you just add less sugar? --there needs to be a large amount of sugar syrup to  hold the bubbles in) 
5. Taste. Add more sugar if wanted, it will taste more tart after freezing.  
6. Mash or blend-- I prefer an immersion blender for this task.  If you're using a normal blender, remember that hot liquids expand and do not fill more than half full at once. 
7. Chill in fridge or ice bath until very cold-- at least 3 hours. 
8. Put in ice cream maker and freeze for about half an hour, or until soft-serve consistency,with volume increased and color lightened. If you taste it, it should be filled with small bubbles, which are the key to a creamy texture. 
9. Put into container and freeze in freezer overnight. 

Sunday, June 21, 2009

And hello world

I'm Chris, the other author. Expect to see quite a bit less of me than of the Brehm here, but I will sometimes contribute recipes, photos, and various other kinds of food porn. In keeping with L's mission statement, I hope you will enjoy most of my flavors, but I'll make a couple of disclaimers up front.

First, I want to pay some attention to the other side of eating for all: I want to use flavors from everyone, including some ingredients or combinations that aren't usually found in the All-American Kitchen. Consider the number of people who have stared into their refrigerators (or iceboxes, or goat-skin knapsacks) wondering what to eat; Every one of them did eventually find their meal, and the more of those meals I know about, the more often (barring choice paralysis) I like the results of my own fridge-staring moments. I will try to make these recipes as accessible as I can, but I do enjoy novelty and I hope you'll push your comfort zone to try something strange sometimes.

Second, I'll often be playing the iconoclast. My native cooking style is what you might call Harebrained Fusion, e.g. "What if I made a marinara... WITH LEMONGRASS!?" This wild-eyed approach is where my most memorable dishes, both successful and disastrous, come from. Although I'll limit myself to the successes and do my best to guarantee edibility in the posted version of every recipe, you should always feel free to refine and develop my recipes in the same spirit. Consider ignoring my categories and trying a recipe out of context, or turning a summery fresh-tomato dish into a wintery canned-tomato dish, or otherwise thumbing your nose back at my suggestions. Hey, that's how I do it.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Hello Internet

I've been thinking about the idea of starting a blog for a while.  There's nothing I love more than eating (except possibly for linguistics).  And for the time being, a food-related career is my not-so-secret backup plan if grad school doesn't work out.

I aspire to cook good food for all seasons.  What is tasty in/for the summer is not so great for a winter meal.  Recipes will be labeled for the season, and with the major flavors of the dish.  

I also want to make food that reaches out to everyone-- you will find here both recipes for vegan dishes and those containing copious amounts of butter and bacon.  This will also be tagged (but I hope even the most die-hard carnivore will reach out and try something that just happens to be vegan once in a while).  

I have also been thinking about styles of cooking.  Consider the baker (measures everything carefully, follows a protocol) and the chef (no measuring, the recipe is a guideline and nothing else).  I hope to list recipes for both sides here too.