Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Some Muffins to Love

I was about to get all lovey dovey on my summertime entry for this week's IHCC theme. Tell you all about how summer makes me sappy for berry picking and all that noise. Tell you how I found Mark's recipe for Muffins Infinite Ways and got all excited to whip these up for breakfast. But I can't think straight right now because the chorus of Justin Bieber's "Somebody to Love" is inexplicably playing on repeat in my brain right now and I kind of want to go stick a screwdriver in my ear. Instead I think I'll drown it out with some Gaga and stuff another muffin in my mouth.
But really, you guys should bake these. They are slammin!

Blueberry Cornmeal Muffins
adapted from Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything Vegetarian

1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup cornmeal
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking sida
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/4 cups non fat yogurt
1 Tbls. vegetable oil
1 egg
1 cup blueberries
raw sugar for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a standard muffin tin with paper liners. Mix the dry ingredients together in a large bowl and make a well in the center. Beat wet ingredients in another bowl and pour into the well. Fold ingredients together gently until combined. Fold in blueberries. Using a large batter scoop or spoon, fill muffin cups evenly (you'll get between 8 and 10 muffins). Sprinkle with raw sugar. Bake for 20 minutes or until tops are just golden. Cool five minutes in pan, then serve warm.

Taste testing

I'm beginning to fall in love with the people over at Marx Foods. Justin in particular who in my imagination is a twenty something studmuffin with a biting sense of humor who enjoys biking, baking, and med students (he'd be perfect for Joanne). I don't know much about what the real Justin is actually like, save for the fact that he sends me fun products to try from the awesome company of which he is CEO. I've already told you about the cute palm leaf plates I got, but this time my package was even better. Beans. And not just any beans, heirloom beans, which sounds so much more romantic and fabulous than just any old beans. Justin must be trying to seduce the peeps who read the Marx blog, 'cause obviously. But back off dude, I'm married.

My package included two types of heirloom beans, Marrow (which I'll show you later this week) and Black Garbanzo. I used the quick soak method to cook the garbanzo beans, which I like to leave slightly underdone if I'm going to then add them to a stew. These were a little smaller and nuttier than your usual garbanzo beans, and I could honestly have just tossed them on a cookie sheet to roast with salt and pepper. They were a yummy little protein packed snack. That would be boring, though, and I've been craving Indian flavors lately, so I turned the garbanzo beans into this bean and veggie stew. Over rice, it's a great dish in any weather, but particularly good the next day once the spices get a chance to hang out and hook up with each other. I dug it, E on the other hand said, "I don't like these little things in this." Things? He meant the beans, for shame!

Kabuli Chole
(also known as Chick Pea Stew)
2 Tbls. olive oil
1 medium onion sliced thinly
2 tsp. ground cumin
2 tsp. ground coriander
2 tsp. curry powder
1 Tbls. fresh ginger, minced
1 28 oz. can peeled crushed tomatoes (or about 1.5 lbs. fresh tomato, peeled ad pureed)
1 green pepper, chopped
1 red pepper, chopped
3 cups cooked black garbanzo beans
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1 Tbls. garam masala
cilantro for garnish

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add onion, cumin, coriander, curry and ginger. Cook, stirring often, until onion is tender. Add tomatoes and reduce heat; simmer 10 minutes. Add peppers and garbanzo beans and cook covered over low heat for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in yogurt and garam masala and serve over rice.

Print the Recipe

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

One for the Goombahs

It's Dining with Dad week in honor of Father's Day at IHCC.  I've talked a bit about my Italian familia before, so it should be no surprise that I chose to make a pasta dish for my step-dad, Ralphy. It should also be no surprise that he is posing with a huge piece of cake right next to the buffet. There he is with my tiny grandmother, dressed up like a true spacone for a birthday celebration. When I first met my new family, Maye (as my grandmother is known) put out the typical spread for dinner, all 9 courses of it. My siblings and I had no idea what was coming, but we powered through like champs, eating what was probably upwards of 3000 calories. I had been warned that refusing another plate would reduce her to tears, and so I binged. Luckily things have changed a bit, and none of us eat like that anymore! Otherwise, I would have had to become bulimic, and that would suck. I hate throwing up.

While my mother has revamped Ralphy's entire diet, he is still a real Italian boy, and nothing makes him happier than a big plate of macaroni and gravy. He has been known to eat a pound of pasta by himself. And even though I won't actually be spending Father's Day with him, I think this is a dish that would satisfy even his appetite. It's a combination of three recipes from Mark Bittman's Quick and Easy Recipes from the New York Times: Pasta with Pesto, Potatoes and Green Beans, Pasta with Walnuts, and Linguine with Spinach and I'll be making it next time I visit my parents. It's so good, so fast, and I know my health-conscious mama will love it as much as my carb-craving papa.

Ralphy's Greeny Linguine

1 lb. whole wheat linguine
4 cups. baby spinach, stems removed
1 1/2 cups green beans, cleaned and trimmed
1/4 cup walnuts, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
1 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 cup olive oil
salt and pepper

In a small bowl, stir garlic, red pepper flakes, and basil into oil. Set aside.
Bring salted water to a boil in a large pot. Add linguine and cook until halfway done (about 6 minutes). Add green beans and continue boiling. When linguine is almost ready ( test a piece, but it should be about 11 minutes) add spinach and cook until just wilted (2 minutes). Strain and return to pot. Add oil mixture, season with salt and pepper, and serve immediately with grated parmesan.

Print the Recipe

Oh, and p.s. y'all! is giving away 2lbs of fresh morels!

Stop by and enter, and show Marx Foods some love :)

Friday, June 11, 2010

Medium Raw

Remember back in November when E and I went to see Anthony Bourdain? Where I sat high up in the balcony laughing like a hyena with a bunch of really confused Germans?  Where I then tried to hunt him down in all the foodie spots of Ann Arbor with zero success except drunkeness? Well, his new book has just been released, so lucky me, I got to go meet him fo' realz' this time at a book signing. Our little bookstore is known for getting everyone who's good to show up and read, so I've got the schedule devoted to memory. This month they also have Pat Benatar and Bernadette Peters, so it's like a whole month of badass celebs I want to be. 

It was nice to see Tony (cause you know, we're totally BFF's and I can call him that) in a smaller setting where I could actually tell how ginormously tall this dude is. I mean, freakishly tall. He read a few sections from his new book  Medium Raw, which is honest and hilarious, even better than Kitchen Confidential. He then took tons of questions, of which I asked the first, trying desperately not to choke on my saliva or turn 8 shades of red. I think I succeeded in not sounding like too much of a tool. There were a lot of tools in the room. Including the guy who overheard a cute young girl, planning what she was going to say to Tony. He then stole her line, got a big laugh, and smirked at her like a big fat dbag. I was tempted to punch him in the face, but I'm not violent and I didn't want to get kicked out before my books got signed. 

I watched a ton of people get scary close to take pictures, which made me shiver. I'm all about personal space. When it was finally my turn, I called bullshit on T.B. for an anti-Red Sox comment he had made earlier. See, there's this video of Tony and Alice Cooper, waxing poetic about how they loved watching the Sox win the World Series and stating that Sox fans are amazing. He smiled and told me how much he respects the team and Boston fans, how he's shooting a Boston episode of No Reservations, and he started suggesting books to me. But then. Then some crazy half drunk chick fell down the stairs, ass over tea kettle! Kinda ruined our moment. But at least I had the wherewithal to look over when the camera guy took a photo. I present you with the most awkward picture I have taken since 7th grade, complete with bad florescent lighting, not enough makeup, and what appears to be some business woman's blazer. Hawt.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

The time has come, and you know you're not the only one...

I read the newest IHCC post and got to the part about potluck alphabet soup parties and my brain automatically moved to Amy Sedaris theme parties, then to seventies key parties, and then somehow I was thinking about Boogie Nights and singing "Sister Christian." None of this has anything to do with this salad. It just goes to show you that my brain works in curious ways.

I've never been to an alphabet soup party (or a key party for that matter, so chill) but Kim says that people who have names beginning with the letters G-K bring a salad. I can work with that. I also had a really tasty loaf of raisin walnut artisan bread that I can't believe I even paid for, since I now can bake my own. I came across Mark's Grilled Bread Salad, but having only this sweet bread, I needed to adapt. I thought about raisins and tomatoes, which made me think of this Moroccan inspired chicken dish I make in the winter, and then I started thinking of Morocco and Sex and the City 2 and how badly I would love to go there on vacation and own at least one pair of Jimmy Choos. Alas, I can eat this salad and dream.

Grilled Bread Salad
Adapted from Mark Bittman's Quick and Easy Recipes from the New York Times
* Changes/additions in red

1 small baguette or other artisan loaf (I used raisin walnut)
1 1/2 lbs. cherry tomatoes, quartered
1/4 c. red onion, scallion, or shallot, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
Juice of one lemon
1/4 c. olive oil
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. cinnamon
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup mint leaves, finely chopped

Slice bread into quarters lengthwise. Set under broiler or onto a preheated grill. Cook until just lightly charred, but not blackened. Turn and repeat. Remove and set aside to cool. Cut into 1 inch cubes.
In a large bowl, add tomatoes and press with the back of a fork to release seeds and juices. Add onion, garlic, lemon juice, olive oil, cumin and cinnamon and toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper. Add bread, toss to coat, and let stand 20-30 minutes. Bread cubes should be moist, but still crispy at the edges. Add mint and serve.

Print the recipe

p.fricking.s! See that adorable little plate? It's made from a palm leaf and is entirely biodegradable and compostable. I got them from the lovely folks at Marx Foods and now I want a huge batch for our beach house week this summer.

Thursday, June 03, 2010


These summer rolls don't have a story. I don't have any cute analogies or jokes for today. It's late and I'm rushing to get this posted since we have to leave our house at the butt crack of dawn to head home to a big event at E's alma mater. There will be a dinner followed by a roast (the vaguely inappropriate joke telling kind of roast, not the large slab o' beef kind of roast) run by a bunch of engineers and Germans. Can you think of anything less funny? Cause I can't, and I've been thinking about it for weeks.

Alas, I attempted to make Mark's Summer Rolls for dinner tonight, but our hack little market up the road had no rice paper. I had some nori, so I had to go with that instead! Paired with the basil dipping sauce (to which I added ginger and sesame oil) this was the perfect homage to herbs ala IHCC. They were tasty enough for me to forgive myself for the pathetic look of these rolls. I'm not a sushi chef, and trust me, rolling that nori takes practice! If you make these, use rice paper; it is much more forgiving! These rolls are so full of fresh flavors, and I can see myself making a bunch of different versions this summer.

Summer Rolls with Basil Dipping Sauce
Adapted from Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything Vegetarian pages 743 and 777

For the rolls:
8 sheets of rice paper
4 oz. bundle of thin rice noodles
2 scallions, sliced lengthwise
1/2 a red pepper, julienned
1/2 c. each fresh mint leaves and basil leaves, julienned
1/2 c. fresh cilantro leaves
1 lb. shrimp, shelled and deveined
salt and pepper
sesame oil

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Drizzle shrimp with sesame oil and season with salt and pepper. Spread in a single layer on a sheet pan and bake for 8 minutes or until ink. Remove from oven and set aside. 

Pour boiling water over noodles in a shallow dish. Let sit for 8 minutes until tender and drain. Set aside.

Lay a damp towel on your work area. Fill another shallow bowl with hot water. Dip a sheet of rice paper into the water until it softens, just a few seconds, and lay on the towel. On the bottom third of the rice paper, spread 1/8 of each of the ingredients (noodles, herbs, peppers, and shrimp), fold in the bottom edge and both sides and roll tightly. Repeat for remaining papers and serve immediately with dipping sauce.

For the sauce:
1 clove garlic minced
2 Tbls. soy sauce
2 Tbls. rice wine vinegar
1 Tbls. sugar
1/4 c. fresh basil, julienned
1 tsp. frech grated giner
3 Tbls. sesame oil

Whisk all ingredients to combine. If you want this thicker, whisk all ingredients except the sesame oil. Add oil slowly in a very thin stream while whisking until emulsified. You may need to increase the amount of oil, too!

Sounds like a lot of work, I know, but it was pretty simple actually! 
And nothin' says lovin' like a clean plate.

Don't forget to head over to I Heart Cooking Clubs and see what everyone else whipped up this week!