Monday, June 30, 2008

Gay Ol' BBQ Guacaliciousness

What was Avogadro's favorite food? Guaca - mole!
Oh so funny joke from 11th grade chemistry.

As promised:

Super-untraditional but none-the-less delicious Guacamole
5 ripe avocados
Juice of 2 limes
1/2 purple onion (or one small one), diced
1/2 c. cilantro, washed and roughly chopped
1 jalepeno, diced
Mash the avocados in a big bowl. Add diced onion, jalepeno, lime juice and cilantro; mix thoroughly. Add in 2 tsp or so cumin, 1 tsp cayenne and 1 tsp salt or there abouts to taste. Depending on how much juice you get from the limes, you may need more or less salt. Also, depending on how spicy your jalepeno is you may want more or less cayenne.

Lime is traditionally used as a preserative to keep the avo from turning brown, but I personally love the flavor, especially combined with cumin and purple onion. It should keep overnight if you need to make it in advance, but I highly suggest eating it right after you make it and not sharing it with anyone else.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Steph and Geoff go crazy for pie

Two of my favorite people were coming over for dinner, and Geoff had already challenged me to a bake off, so I knew I needed to impress. I made two pies for Thursday's feast - chicken pot pie and strawberry tart. I had a heart shaped pan that I bought for Addie's birthday, so I used that for the tart to give it a nice romantic shape.

Basic Pie Crust
2.5 C. flour
1 c. unsalted butter (2 sticks)
1 tsp salt
ice water
(1 T sugar if a sweet pie)

Using a pastry blender mix flour, salt and butter (and sugar if desired) until the lumps of butter are pea sized. The colder the butter is when you start, the better. Slowly add ice water until you can form the dough into a ball. I say, add 6 T, then two more at a time,
slowly working the dough with your hands. It should be relatively dry but stick together. I suggest refrigerating at least over night but if in a pinch, through it in the freezer for an hour. Keeping the butter cold makes for a flakier crust.

* For this evening I did 1.5 times that recipe (two crusts for the chicken, one for the strawberry).

Chicken Pot Pie

1 recipe Basic Pie Dough
2 chicken breasts, cooked and cubed (or equivalent amount of other chicken meat, turkey, etc.)
1 small bag frozen peas, carrots and corn
1 recipe chicken gravy

For the gravy, make a roux, equal parts flour and butter (6 T or so of each) heated on low until it bubbles lightly, slowly add chicken broth (1 quart/liter). Salt and pepper to taste. Let simmer until thickens.

Roll out the dough, pour in mixture of chicken, veg and gravy. Bake for half an hour or so at 375. I say put a baking sheet under it in case of over flow.

Let it sit for 10 minutes before cutting to allow the gravy set up. Enjoy!

Strawberry Tart
1/2 Basic Pie Crust recipe
1 recipe cream cheese filling
fresh strawberries (and blueberries for extra fun!)

Bake the crust for 10-15 minutes until golden brown (use pie weights to keep the crust from bubbling). Allow to cool while you prepare the filling.

Cream Cheese filling:
1 package cream cheese
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 c. sugar
1/4 c flour

In a stand up mixer, blend cream cheese until smooth. Add egg, vanilla, salt and sugar. Mix until smooth. Add flour. Mix until thoroughly incorporated. Pour into cooled pie crust. Bake for 15 minutes until set. Do not over cook. It should be hot and smooth not dry.
Once cooled, cut strawberries in half and place on the pie in what ever pattern makes you happy. Coat with glaze.

Glaze (2 options)
1. Take some jam or jelly and heat until liquid. Brush onto strawberries.

2. Cut up one pint strawberries, mash, cover with water, cook until soft. Mash up some more, then let strain through a mesh strainer, a coffee filter, cheese cloth... whatever you've got.
Once you have a clear liquid, add 3/4 cup sugar per cup of liquid . Bring to a simmering boil, skimming off any build up until it coats the back of a metal spoon. Let it cool. Put it in a jar and reuse it for pancakes, glazes, ice cream...

Turns out Geoff isn't actually as baking saavy as he'd claimed. It was a ploy.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

TJ's helped but I made the Raita!

I came home from a stressful day of playing catch up at work to find Adrian on my stoop. Now, this is a very nice thing when you've had a not very nice day. I wish I could say it was totally unexpected, but seeing how we'd had lunch together and he'd just called to tell me he was there, it wasn't unexpected, but very nice none-the-less.

I had promised him dinner. What did I have? Not much, but Trader Joe's saved the day.
Our appetizer was their classic red salsa, mixed with sour cream and dipped into by organic white corn chips. Yum. I've been snacking on that since we moved to somewhere with a TJ's, so probably about 17 years.

For our main course, I had garlic naan and veggie biryani from TJ's freezer section. While the biryani was frying up in the pan with some shallots, we threw the naan in the oven. I whipped up some raita.


1/2 c. plain yogurt
1/3 cup grated cucumber
cayenne to taste
cumin to taste (or freshly chopped coriander/cilantro or mint)
salt to taste

It was taste-e. Not to mention that we had a Madonna dance party in between courses.

Then we made pate brisee (aka pie crust) for my Thursday night dinner fest. I'll add that recipe after that meal is made!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Vegan Wheatless Dinner with J and A

I've got friends coming over for dinner tonight. The plan is to make vegan baked zitti with brown rice pasta, tofu ricotta and melty vegan cheese (made with nutritional yeast).
For dessert we're having a cobbler with coconut milk ice cream.

Update - dinner was great! Here are the recipes:

Wheatless Vegan Baked Zitti

1 recipe tofu ricotta*
1 recipe melty "cheese"*
1 bag brown rice penne
1.5 jars marinara sauce
1 onion
basil (fresh)
zuchinni or any other fresh veggies you desire
2 T olive oil
I suggest preparing the tofu ricotta and melty cheese before even beginning to boil the pasta. Preheat the oven to 375 once you start the water for the pasta. You don't want the pasta to sit around unsauced for too long, so if it's ready early mix it with the sauce, so it absorbs some of the flavor while it's still warm.
Saute onions and veggies until tender. Add pasta sauce. Throw in herbs, salt and pepper if necessary.
Boil pasta until not quite al dente (it will cook more in the oven).
In alternating layers add to a casserole or lasagna pan equal parts pasta, ricotta, cheese and sauce, slowly mixing it all together. My step mom used to make this in a deep Pyrex bowl, if you have one big enough. It probably only needs 15-20 minutes to get hot all the way through.

*Tofu ricotta:
1 package (1lb) firm tofu
2 T chopped basil
2 T diced onion
2 cloves fresh garlic
salt and pepper
Press tofu under a heavy pan or some plates for an hour or so to get out the excess water.
Using your hands squish the tofu until smooth, usually about 10 minutes.
Add basil, onion, garlic and salt and pepper to taste.

*Melty "Cheese"
1/2 C. Nutritional yeast
1/2 C. barley flour
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp garlic powder
2 C. Water
1/4 C. margerine
1 T. wet mustard (yellow, dijon, whatevs)
Combine the flour, yeast, salt and garlic powder in a heavy sauce pan. Stir over medium heat until toasted (about 5-10 minutes). Slowly add water, whisking it into the dry ingredients. While that comes to a simmer, mix the margerine and mustard together. Whisk into the bubbling mixture and allow to simmer for 20-30 minutes, whisking occasionally.

Peach Raspberry Crumble
1 pint raspberries
1-2 C. chopped peaches
Crumble topping (these are approximate - I didn't actually measure):
1/4 C. oats
1/2 C. barley flour
1/4 C. Brown sugar (or sweetener of your choice)
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 C. margarine
Preheat oven to 375. Chop peaches, rinse raspberries. Use a square baking dish or pie plate. Grease the bottom and toss in the fruit. It's better if they are mixed a little. To prepare the crumble topping mix , throw the ingredients into a bowl and work with your hands until crumbly. If too sticky, add more flour. Taste it before you bake it - since you aren't adding sweetener to the fruit, you may want the top to be sweeter than you'd expect. Bake until bubbling ~20 minutes.
Variations: depending on what type of fruit you use (peaches, blackberries, cherries, raspberries, blueberries, etc) you can add texture to the topping by throwing in sliced almonds or coconut.

I served it with coconut milk ice cream - the store only had the cherry amarretto flavor, which turned out to go quite nicely.

We had some yummy Spanish wine and a Zin with dinner and then Earl Grey and herbal tea with dessert.