Archive for April, 2009

Thanks Joe George!

April 29, 2009

Curried Carrot Soup with Honey and Yogurt

Post number 2 for today is a soup that I knew I had to make as soon as I saw the recipe in the Artvoice that came out last Thursday.  There’s a local chef named Joe George that writes for that paper a lot, as well as the magazine Edible Buffalo, and for his own awesome blog, Urban Simplicity where he talks about cooking, bicycling, and all kinds of things of interest to Buffalonians or anyone else.  His Food for Thought column in Artvoice is something that I always look forward to, and this one about honey provided three great looking simple recipes, including this absolutely delicious curried carrot soup.

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Ramps!

April 29, 2009

Farfalle Primavera with Ramp Pesto

Well it looks like today is going to be another double post day, because I’ve been meaning to throw this one up since I made it the day before yesterday and I wanted to post it before I wrote about the soup I made this morning.  This one is another super-trendy entry, by my estimation at least, judging from all the stuff I’ve seen on Taste Spotting and Foodgawker with ramps in it, but oh well.

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I have Spring fever

April 21, 2009

Springtime Bulgur Salad

You know the story:  Every year, on May second, Sean Kingston pokes his head out of his hole and if he sees his shadow, there will be six more weeks of rain.  But if he doesn’t…

This is no joke.  The weather here has been kind of variable, but I have all the symptoms anyways.  I’m talking allergies AND the urge to mate.  Pollen’s got my sinuses all kinds of jammed up with headaches and nasty nuclear green snot, but I still just want to go around quoting Marvin Gaye lyrics to girls in oversized sunglasses.

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Get your kind veggie burritos, man

April 20, 2009

Kind veggie burrito

As a kid I went to a lot of Phish shows, and from Red Rocks to Oswego, this refrain could be heard all through the parking lots, shouted by greasy-dreaded whiteboys with Coleman tailgate grills and hand-lettered cardboard signs, hawking sloppily thrown-together burritos filled with God knows what.  Never would I have imagined back then that I would be make for myself food somewhat in the vein of this product I so reviled and associated with the stigma of neo-hippies stumbling and juggling devil sticks amid the carnival-reminiscent sounds of third-generation Grateful Dead dubs and the screech of nitrous tanks and constant haze of cigarette and weed smoke and pink taillights.  So, apropos of today’s date, I present my own Diggity Dank Kind Veggie Burritos!

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Bon soir, s’il vous plaît,

April 13, 2009

Je voudrais un verre du lait au chocolat, et une soupe d’oignons, et un sandwich avec… How do you say grilled cheese?
Une Soup d'Oignons

All right, that was a big stretch, but I couldn’t think of any other pithy or pop culture-referencing headline / introduction for my French Onion Soup post. It would have been better if I had composed this picture with some chocolate milk and a grilled cheese and maybe a bloody mary too, but when I made this soup and took the pictures two months ago, I wasn’t thinking of Hotel Chevalier.

I had meant to put this up on either Wednesday or Thursday, but I ended up being out of town a while with my friends, and then was camping all weekend (Which was awesome, by the way.  There is nothing like spending a few nights in a tent or rustic cabin around a fire with some good friends and enough beer to sink a canoe).  After a couple months, what’s a few more days anyways?  That’s the beauty of having your own blog.

This onion soup was really good though, if my memory serves me.  The recipe is Giada de Laurentiis’s, though I did add some sherry to round out the taste a bit and I substituted dried thyme for the fresh stuff because I don’t have fresh thyme in February.  I also used the ciabatta bread that I had made the day before.  I thought fontina  was kind of an odd choice for cheese(they usually use gruyere right?), but this was the first time I made the stuff and I didn’t want to stray too too far from the recipe.  It came out delicious all the same with a great melty top and soggy bread chunks in a rich broth with great sweet onion slices all soft and caramely.  Also, this was a superlatively easy recipe to make, and it was ready in about 40 minutes.

Cheesey, melty top

Onion Soup with Fontina and Thyme

from Giada de Laurentiis

Ingredients:

3 tablespoons olive oil

2 large Vidalia onions

kosher salt

pepper

2 teaspoons dried thyme

4 cups beef broth

2 tablespoons sherry

4 slices of crusty bread (I used ciabatta)

4 ounces sliced fontina cheese

Directions:

Slice the onions up on your cutting board, maybe into like 1/2″ slices.  They’ll shrink a bit in the soup, but not much so kind of picture what you’d want to get on your spoon without having them drop back into your bowl and splash hot, hot broth on you.

People don't cry when you slice up a violist

Heat up the oil in a heavy saucepan or Dutch oven and add the onions, seasoning with salt and pepper.  Saute them, stirring occasionally, until they’re thender, about 10 minutes, then add the thyme, broth, and sherry.

Ohhhhh so oniony

Simmer this all up for a bit, until the onions are soft and brown and it just smells like onion soup should smell.  Use your common sense for the time.  The recipe called for 15 minutes, but I did mine a while longer.

Then divide the soup up into your special ramequins that you have especially for onion soup…er…maybe that’s just me.  I don’t know where they came from, but I’m not gonna complain.  But yeah, split the soup up four ways and top with the cubed bread and fontina.  As you can see, I went a bit overboard, but ahhhhhhhhhh cheese, you know?

Cheeeeeeeeese

Now just broil this until the cheese is melted and just a bit brown on top et voilà! Soupe à l’oignon.

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Gon’ eat these li’l fools like ciabatta bread

April 7, 2009

Ciabatta bread

Just when I was wondering how I was going to transition from something nicely spring-y like veggie burgers into a reason to make posts from my photos leftover from the winter, a storm comes along and dumps 3 inches of snow on us in April.  I guess I should be used to this kind of thing and even thankful for it making this and my next post relevant, still, I hate the goddamn snow.  Fuck it.

Anyway, I made this ciabatta bread way back at the beginning of February from the recipe for “rustic ciabatta bread” in Cook’s Illustrated no. 97.  If you get this magazine, go back to that issue and look at the pictures of this.  It looked so damn good that I could not resist making it.  I love ciabatta bread, it’s so chewy and crusty and slightly sour, and it’s got so many great applications from sandwiches to panzanella to just dipping it in some olive oil or marinara sauce, the bread is great and it entirely deserves it’s own theme song.

Unfortunately, mine didn’t come out so wonderfully.  While ciabatta is supposed to be kind of flat and rectangular/ovoid, mine didn’t achieve quite the rise that I wanted.  If I remember correctly, I wasn’t paying very close attention to this bread as I was making it, especially during the rise times, so that may have contributed to the lackluster results.  It was pretty dense and just kind of meh all around; in other words: destined to become breadcrumbs.  One great result of all the recent baking is that huge stockpile of homemade breadcrumbs I’ve got building up in the freezer.  The veggie burgers from Sunday were made from these bread crumbs and those from the leftover challah.  Also, this ciabatta served well in the French onion soup I made just a couple days later and that I will post up either tomorrow or Thursday.

Lackluster loaves

Ciabatta Bread

From Cook’s Illustrated no. 97, March & April 2009

Ingredients:

Biga

1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour

1/8 teaspoon rapid-rise yeast

1/2 cup water, room temperature

Dough

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon rapid-rise yeast

1 1/2 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup water, room temperature

1/3 cup milk, room temperature

Directions:

Combine all the biga ingredients in a bowl and stir them until they just make a shaggy ball.  The biga is your starter, or your mother sponge, or whatever the French call it.  You want to just let this thing sit in the bowl overnight, at least 8 hours anyway, and ferment and get big and sour.

Biga up yourself

Next, put the biga and the rest of your dough ingredents into your mixer bowl (you’re using a mixer, right?) and mix it on the lowest speed with the white paddle thing for about a minute, scaping down the sides as needed, until it’s roughly combined.  Then crank it up to medium-low and mix it until it sticks to the paddle and is pulling off of the bowl and generally slapping all around.  Then switch the paddle out for your dough hook and mix it on medium for about 10 minutes until the dough isn’t shaggy any more and instead is smooth and kind of shiny and super sticky.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it rise at room temperature until it doubles.

Dough

Spray a rubber spatula and fold the dough over itself “by gently lifting and folding [the] edge of [the] dough toward [the] middle” (Cook’s Illustrated hates using articles).  Turn the bowl 90 degrees and fold the dough again.  Turn the bowl and fold the dough six more times for a total of eight turns, then re-cover it and let it rise for another 30 minutes.

Repeat that last turning and folding step and let it rise again until it doubles (Cook’s Illustrated says about 30 more minutes).  In the meantime, put your oven rack in the lower-middle position and preheat the oven to 450 with a pizza stone in there so it gets good and hot too.

Pull off two 12″x6″ pieces of parchment paper and dust them with flour, then dump your dough out onto the counter or your slab of marble or whatever you want to work with dough on.

Flour the dough liberally and cut it in half.  Then take each piece and press it into a rough 12″x6″ shape and then kind of fold the pieces like you would a letter that you’re going to stuff into an envelope.  The magazine says your loaves should be 7″x4″, so kind of imagine them that size.  Put them seam-side down on the parchment paper sheets and let them rise another half hour.

Last rise

Slide the parchment with the bread onto your pizza peel or whatever you’re using to get the bread onto the baking stone.  Press the dough out into 10″x6″ rectangles/ovals (ciabatta is Italian for slipper I hear, so you know make it look like a slipper whydoncha?) and spritz them with water.  Slide the parchment and everything onto your hot baking stone and bake the bread, re-spritzing twice more during the first 5 minutes.  They’ll be done after about 22 – 27 minutes total.  Pull them out and put them on a wire rack to cool to room temperature (about an hour) before slicing and serving.  Makes 2 loaves.

One of two loaves that this recipe produces

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I’m back (with veggie burgers)!

April 5, 2009

Black Bean Veggie Burger

Okay, so it’s been a real long time since I updated this thing.  There’s been a lot of personal nonsense going on in the past couple of months and even though I have a backlog of pictures for posts on my computer, I haven’t really had the inclination to put anything up here.  Until today that is.

It’s spring!

I am so pumped about the beautiful sunny weather and all the great stuff it brings with it: IPAs, frisbee golf, playing with dogs outside, gardening, and grilling.  A couple friends and I just signed a lease for a gorgeous apartment in the city with a little vegetable plot out back and a beautiful west-facing balcony for us to warm our faces on as we sip crispy summer beers and gorge ourselves on all kinds of foods charred over hot coals.  In anticipation for that and an upcoming camping trip in Allegany State Park, I made a huge batch of veggie burgers today (well bean burgers anyways) and I daresay they came out really well.

See, I’ve never made anything like this before; I’ve always been content with burgers made of ground up cow or turkey flesh, but after reading Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma, I’ve really tried to limit the amount of meat I take in.  It’s not that I’m against eating meat in theory, I still love the stuff and I certainly see myself eating it in the future (there is a place nearby that sells grass-finished meat seasonally called the Freeman Homestead that I’m planning on checking out), but for now in an effort to be healthier, reduce my carbon footprint and support local farmers I’m trying to cut back on meat as much as I can as well as buying locally whenever possible.  So expect to see a lot more vegetarian-oriented stuff on here (you’re welcome, Devon)!

Black beans in a Cuisinart

Black Bean and Corn Veggie Burgers

Ingredients:

2 15-ounce cans of black beans

4 eggs

1/2 an onion, somewhere between a chop and a dice

3 cloves of garlic roughly chopped

1/4 cup pulled apart roasted red pepper (I just finished off a jar I had open)

pinch of salt

1 t. ground cumin

cayenne pepper

chipotle pepper flakes

1/2 cup chopped parsley

1 1/2 cups corn kernels

1 1/2 cups breadcrumbs

1 cup grated cheese (I used cheddar)

Directions:

Drain and rinse the black beans and put them in your food processor with the eggs, the pepper, onion, garlic, salt, cumin, cayenne, and chipotle flakes.  Really just throw in whatever you want.  I just happened to have those things on hand, these are so versatile though you can just go nuts.  I wished I had some canned chipotles in adobo or something, but alack.

Most of the ingredients

Just pulse all this stuff a few times until it’s kind of smooth, but not so smooth as you would want hummus.  This is your main batter so to speak, and once you’ve got all the corn and breadcrumbs and everything in to bind it, you want it to have sort of a meatloaf-y consistency, you know like ground meat or…wait for it…hamburger.

The batter

Now add the parsley and pulse just once or twice more to mix it all together and dump the whole thing out into a bowl.  Stir in the corn and then mix in the breadcrumbs and cheese.  You might want to use your hands for this part and use more or less of either until you get the right consistency.  Remember: think hamburger.

Right before the cheese goes in

At this point you can shape the batter into patties and bake them on some parchment paper at 450 or cook them on a grill pan or a griddle like in a diner.  I just made a couple for my mom and I for lunch, then froze the rest for Allegany.  I don’t know how it’ll work, I just kind of formed them into the burgers and wrapped them in Saran Wrap.  We’ll see when they defrost.  Anyways, pretty much every ingredient is optional and can be substituted or swapped out.  The only things you really need I think are the eggs and some kind of bread crumbs or bulghar or something to act as binders.  I want to do some more with chickpeas and pine nuts and maybe even feta cheese or something like Mediterranean inspired. These ones I served on just some shiny buns we had with some spinach and this sauce from a local dairy.  It’s like yogurt with chile and mustard in it and it went perfectly with these veggie burgers.  I know that you can get the stuff at Wegmans in the Buffalo area as well as some places in New York.  I highly recommend it.  Their website is here.

Veggie burer with awesome yogurt sauce

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