Monday, December 26, 2011

spiced ginger loaf.

it isn't officially the holiday season until there's gingerbread and a spiked warm beverage. while i'm really in no position to tell you how to make the latter (there's a reason - well, a lot of reasons - this blog isn't called alcohol on sundays. i guess that's one thing we can all be thankful for this year), it's my pleasure to offer you one truly formidable gingerbread recipe.the recipe originally comes from the blog, roost, which is the sort of site you should browse through when you've lost faith in the world. it's exquisitely written and photographed, and the recipes are nothing less than inspiring. 
this is one of the blog's simpler recipes, but a personal favorite: easy, healthy, and addicting. sadly, it's not vegan due to the eggs. still, if you can bear to include them, do! what they lack in ... veganness ... they well make up for in texture and flavor. however, if you want the loaf to last more than a day without getting gobbled up, subbing them out might not be the worst strategy. otherwise, make sure you get a big helping the first time around, because the chances of leftovers are pretty slim.
spiced ginger poppy seed loaf
humbly adapted from roost

2 cups almond flour
½ cup all purpose gluten-free baking flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 ½ tsp ground cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
4 tsp ground ginger
3 eggs
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 tablespoons poppy seeds

preheat oven to 350F.

mix dry ingredients in a bowl. mix wet ingredients in a separate bowl. toss dry ingredients into wet ingredients and stir until combined. pour into a greased loaf pan.

bake for 45 minutes to an hour. if the top starts to get too brown, lay a sheet of foil on top to prevent burning. i did this for the last 10 minutes. remove from oven and insert a toothpick in the center. if it comes out dry, the loaf is done! let cool for about a half hour before serving with tea, mulled wine, or your holiday drink of choice.

Friday, December 23, 2011

"adult" fig newtons.

from preparation to post, this healthy cookie series has been highly educational so far. i've grown as a gluten-free and vegan baker and spent way too many hours perusing cookie recipes online. through numerous baking adventures - and misadventures - i've kept my classmates well fed and created a name for myself as "that vegan girl". i've learned that just because a cookie isn't what i (or ina garten) would call a success, people will still eat it, enjoy it, and then lie to you about how wonderful of a baker you are. the best part? knowing it's a lie doesn't detract one bit from how good it feels.we're nearing the end of the series, and i have two amazing recipes left to share. the first are these vegan fig bars. in an attempt to curb my natural tendency to only bake things with chocolate in them, i decided to revamp a treat from my childhood lunchbox: the fig newton. whereas the packaged über-sugary fig newtons aren't particularly appetizing, these bars are dynamite. the smell of freshly stewed figs with agave is heavenly, and the dough is the perfect amount of chewy with a crunch from the chia seeds. what more, you'll have leftover figs to use in other assorted treats.... (stayed tuned!).
"adult” fig newtons
adapted from post punk kitchen

for the fig filling:
16 oz. dried black mission figs, stems removed and chopped into small bits
1 cup water
¼ cup agave nectar
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest

for the dough:
2 tablespoons chia seeds
1/3 cup almond milk
½ cup vegetable oil
¾ cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 ¾ cup all purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
¾ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
turbinado sugar, for topping

start by making the filling. in a small saucepan, throw in the chopped figs, water, agave, and citrus. bring to a boil over medium heat, and reduce to a simmer. stirring every minute of so, cook for a good 10 minutes, until figs begin to soften. let them continue to cook, but mash them with a fork or masher (?!) to create a chunky paste. the water will evaporate in the process – if it gets too dry, add in more water, a tablespoon at a time. remove from heat and set aside. you can leave your figs chunky, or if you want a smoother puree, throw it in the food processor (i prefer chunky!).

line an 8 x 8 square baking tin with aluminum foil so that the foil hangs over the sides of the pan. spray the foil with a bit of non-stick cooking spray.

now, it’s time for the dough. in a large mixing bowl, combine the chia seeds, almond milk, oil, sugar, and vanilla. whisk for a good 2 minutes to make sure it’s combined. in a small mixing bowl, combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. add dry to wet mixes, a bit at a time, stirring constantly. stir to form a soft dough. using your hands, form the dough into a ball and then divide into two equal parts. shape each section of the dough into a small square about an inch thick.

take the first two square and place it between two large sheets of wax paper. using a rolling pin, roll the dough into a larger square (or square-like shape) about the size of the 8 x 8 pan. if it is slightly larger, that’s ok too.

when you have your square shape, peel off the top layer of wax paper. flip the dough directly onto the pan. push it into pan. this will help to peel off the top wax paper layer, which you should do… now! when the dough is firmly in place, spread the fig filling all over.* don’t forget the corners!

using the same method as with the bottom crust, prepare the top crust. flip the crust on top of the fig mixture, press down firmly so it sticks, and peal the wax paper away.

bake for around 20 minutes, or until the crust is slightly golden and puffed. remove from oven and let cool. when cool, grab the edges of the tin foil and remove the cookie block from the pan, placing it on a cutting board. cut into bars of any size. enjoy, and then store in a sealed container.

*note: i used about ¾ of it the fig mixture here and reserved the rest for another recipe.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

roasted butternut squash and quinoa.

this past thanksgiving, to complement the turkey and chicken liver stuffing already on my family's menu, i researched and plotted new ways to infiltrate the rest of their plates with whole grains and vegetables. and their desert bowl with a vegan, gluten free dessert. 

don't i sound like a lot of fun to have around on thanksgiving?!

dessert was this apple and apricot tart. side dishes included a leek, asparagus, and dill sauté, a simple side salad, and my favorite: a massive bowl of roasted butternut squash and rainbow quinoa. by the time i was finished preparing everything, it was dark out and people were hungry. this, as you might imagine, is not a prime time for food photography. i was able to snag a photo of the squash dish in time - the other dishes weren't as fortunate.

lucky for everyone, this one was probably the best of the lot. roast some butternut squash with fresh herbs, garlic, onion, balsamic, and oil. add it to a mound of quinoa and you have something that's almost a stuffing. note: the recipes makes a LOT, which is far from a problem. leftover options include (but are by no means limited to): adding it to salads,  using it in a wrap, or simply eating it straight out of the tupperware container with a spoon (hypothetically, of course).

quinoa and roasted butternut squash

2 cups rainbow quinoa
2 teaspoons salt
4 cups vegetable stock
4 cups butternut squash, peeled and diced into small-ish cubes
1 red onion, sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons fresh thyme, finely chopped
2 tablespoons fresh sage, finely chopped
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper to taste

preheat oven to 375F.

combine the quinoa, salt, and vegetable stock in a pot over medium heat. bring to a boil, low the heat, and simmer. stir occasionally until the quinoa is tender (approximately 20 minutes). 

while the quinoa is doing its thing, toss the squash, onion, garlic, sage, and thyme with the olive oil, balsamic, and some salt in a baking pan. arrange (as much as possible) in a single layer and place in the oven for 20 minutes. toss the mixture every 5 to 8 minutes to get browning on both sides. remove from the oven and let cool.

in a serving bowl, toss the squash mixture with the quinoa. i only used 2/3 of the quinoa for a more squash-centric dish, but feel free to use it all depending on your preferences. add salt and pepper to taste. enjoy warm or at room temperature.

Friday, December 2, 2011

maple scones for my mom.

thanksgiving break gave way to some exciting developments this year: i got hooked on this addicting blog, made some headway on this side project, and discovered where my love of pastries comes from.
let's talk about the pastry revelation. now, it's not that i ever lost sleep wondering about where my affinity for all things mildly sweet came from. i'm merely surprised i never connected the dots... between my scone-crazy mother and her muffin-crazy daughter (that's me!). 

growing up, i can't remember a time when there weren't scones or muffins in our kitchen. even now, their absence would shock me. my brother recently mentioned that he consistently counts on eating my mom's leftover breakfast scone (which she picks up with her morning coffee run) in the afternoon. that, my friends, is how enduring and reliable her passion for pastries is. 

last week, my mom mentioned that she'd never mastered the art of baking scones from scratch. and i realized i'd never even tried! so that afternoon, we embarked on what became our household's first successful scone baking session.

these scones are definite winners. their texture is perfectly firm and flakey despite the lack of butter, and the smell of maple from the oven is so wonderful it's almost intolerable. almost. vegans can leave omit the egg wash, and if you're out of bread flour, feel free to use only all purpose.

maple syrup scones
adapted from 101 cookbooks

1/4 cup real, good quality maple syrup

6 tablespoons almond milk
1 cup bread flour
1 ¼ cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup quinoa flakes
1 1/2 tablespoons baking powder

1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt

2/3 cup vegetable oil
(if not vegan, then: 1 egg, lightly beaten)

brown sugar

preheat the oven to 400F degrees, rack in the top 1/3. line one baking sheet with parchment paper.

whisk together the maple syrup and milk in a small cup, and set aside. combine the flour, quinoa/oats, baking powder, cinnamon and salt together in a bowl. add the oil and stir until mostly combined. now add the maple syrup milk. mix until the dough just comes together - don't over mix.

throw onto  a floured surface and kneed a couple of times to bring the dough together. now arrange the dough into a 1-inch thick rectangle or oval. slice the dough into nine equal-sized squares (or some triangles, if you wish!). arrange the scones on the prepared baking sheet - 1/4-inch distance between each of them. for those non-vegans among us, brush each scone with the egg wash and sprinkle with the large-grain sugar. bake for 17 to 22 minutes, or until golden along the bottom and tops. enjoy with a hot cup of chai.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

a post-thanksgiving pearl barley dish.

there is a lot to be thankful for this thanksgiving. from my wonderful family and friends to the hit TLC show Sister Wives, life is good. i'm particularly thankful this year to be able to actual celebrate the day of being thankful. shockingly, germany isn't one to honor classic american holidays (though they are warming up to halloween...), so i was never able to make it back across the pond the past three years. make-shifting turkey day always worked out fine, but there's something slightly more magical about celebrating it in the states. by magical, i mean: my mom special orders and names a turkey (which i don't eat but somehow feel a warm affection toward), my brothers make assorted dishes out potatoes, my dad grazes on all of the foods as they're being prepared, and my dogs run frantically around the house convinced that the apocalypse is near. this isn't all that out of the ordinary a scene for this household - it's just that on thanksgiving it lasts a whole day rather than just a couple of hours around meal times.

while this tasty barley and chickpea side dish doesn't quite have the traditional thanksgiving flavors, it's the perfect dish to cook up the weekend after thanksgiving - after you've finished off those last leftovers and are craving a bit of spice (tumeric, cayenne) and healthy detoxing nutrients. it isn't particularly spicy, but if you're worried, just use half the amount of spices listed. 

pearl barley with roasted chickpeas 

1 cup pearl barley
2 ½ cups water
1 14oz. can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 medium red onion, thinly sliced
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
juice from 1/2 lemon
3 bay leaves
2 teaspoons ground turmeric
1 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley

in a small saucepan, bring water, barley, and a dash of salt to boil. lower the heat and cover. cook until done, about 30 minutes.

preheat oven to 400˚F.

in a medium frying pan, heat the oil over medium heat. add onions, chickpeas, lemon juice, bay leaves, spices, spices and salt. sauté until chickpeas begin to sizzle (about 7 minutes).

transfer contents to a baking pan and roast in the oven for 20 minutes, stirring half way through.

remove from the oven. take out the bay leaves, and stir in barley and parsley. leave a little parsley for garnish at the end. you can eat this hot, warm, or at room temperature. 

Sunday, November 20, 2011

healthy cookie series: part 2!

i'll take a moment to respond to a few commonly asked questions:  
1) yes, cookies are still healthy. please stop asking. 
2) you're right - i haven't posted any pumpkin recipes yet this fall. 
3) again, you're right - i should be and i am ashamed of myself. (in the mean time, can i interest you in this pumpkin bread from last year?!)  

in case there's any doubt, i fully understand just what kind of egregious cooking blog faux paux i've committed by failing to celebrate one of the grandest seasonal ingredients around. consider today's post a meager, belated attempt to right that wrong. and help you make delicious cookies! 

this recipe is part deux in a three-part series highlighting cookies to accommodate specific diets. these vegan pumpkin oatmeal chocolate chip cookies are the perfect fall flavor sweet tooth fix. they are also an excellent dough to make and store in your freezer (vegan dough never goes bad!).
this recipe makes a lot of cookies. mind you, it's not too many - because, of course, there's no such thing as too many - but enough to keep you running back and forth from the oven all afternoon trying to stop it from overflowing with cookie dough. i only have one baking sheet, so i decided to use half the dough to make cookies in september and the rest just this past week. both times, the dough (a lot of which i obviously did not eat directly from the bowl) was divine. and the cookie reviews just as rave.

vegan pumpkin chocolate chip cookies

adapted from post punk kitchen 

2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/3 cups rolled oats
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 2/3 cups brown sugar
2/3 cup canola oil
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 cup canned pumpkin
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup vegan chocolate chips
preheat oven to 350. grease a baking sheet.
combine flour, oats, baking soda, salt and spices in a medium sized bowl.
in another bowl, throw together sugar, oil, maple syrup, pumpkin and vanilla. stir until very well combined. add dry ingredients to wet bit by bit, folding to combine. fold in the chocolate chips! 
mold the little cookies into balls and drop onto the greased cookie sheet. they don't expand too much so an inch apart should do it. this batch makes a ton of cookies, so if you have more than one cookies sheet at your disposal, use it. bake for about 15-18 minutes. 
remove from oven and leave to cool. eat with friends.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

don't-forget-your-squash pasta.

i'm in a perpetual state of awe over the quality of produce in northern california. my weekly trips to the farmer's market have become emotional experiences. granted, it's mostly joy that i'm grappling with, but the occasional bout of agony will pop up when i have to restrain myself from overdoing it and thereby not purchasing 15 heirloom tomatoes or an obscenely delicious (and even more obscenely priced) freshly baked pastry. 
it feels like the rest of the world have been aware for a while now that summer has passed and fall (or even early winter!) has hit. but it's been hard to come to grips with the idea of seasons changing when they haven't really been doing that here. in theory, i can understand that gourds are all the rage these days. but i'm still clinging to my summer squash and zucchini! if you're similarly in denial and can also scrounge up the last of these long and lean veggies, this recipe is one of the simplest, most delightful ways to cook them up. big coins, tossed, with some garlic, olive oil, onions, and topped with fresh dill and cilantro. i threw in short pasta for a one pot meal, but this would make just as great a side dish or grain accompaniment. either way, it'll make you yearn for summer to come all over again. multi-colored squash pasta
adapted, onceagain, from 101 cookbooks

2 tbsp olive oil
5 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
2 red onions
1 medium zucchini, sliced into coins
1 medium summer squash, sliced into coins
1 handful of dill, chopped
1 handful of cilantro, chopped roughly
200 g whole wheat farfalle pasta
salt and pepper

in a large non-stick pan or skillet, heat the oil over medium high. stir in the garlic and cook until it starts to brown. stir in the onions, give it a pinch of salt, and cook until they start to soften. add the zucchini, give it a toss, and try your best to arrange the coins in a single layer on the pan so let them sear. add a pinch of salt and let them cook for a few minutes. as they sear, flip them over to let the other side brown.

meanwhile, bring a pot of salted water to a boil and cook pasta according to package instructions. reserve about ½ cup of pasta water and drain.

add the pasta, a bit of pasta water dill, cilantro, and another good pinch of salt and pepper to the zucchini pan. adjust seasoning as necessary and serve immediately as is or with some grated parmesan.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

guest post: regina's incredible autumn coleslaw!

has it really been 3 weeks since my last post?! apparently, long gone are the days of planning meals days ahead and scavenging german farmers' markets for rare and seasonal produce. just as distant are the leisurely hours spent browsing cooking blogs along with the agony of trying to decide on just one time-consuming recipe to try.

turns out: being in grad school and reveling in culinary creativity/maintaining a blog aren't as compatible as i thought. these days, i make a lot of veggie stir fries.

(not that there's anything wrong with that!). but - and you can trust me on this one - they're not terribly exciting. certainly, grad school has its lot of advantages. sadly, as of yet, ample time for experimental cooking isn't one of them. not to fear: i don't plan on  indulging this culinary dry spell forever. but in the meantime, i'm ecstatic that my good buddy regina (whose absurdly appetizing blog you should check out, like now) has offered to step in! it was her healthy recipe blogging that inspired me to launch my own food blog, so i couldn't be honored to have her guest posting today.

if you're in a cold weather climate, you'll appreciate this very timely, mouth-watering recipe for autumn-inspired coleslaw. and if you're in a place where seasons aren't quite as pronounced as they should be, this is the perfect recipe to remind you of the current time of year. thanks regina, and enjoy, readers!

Autumn “Coleslaw” with Dates, Apples and Pecans

I was scrolling through my Google Reader updates this morning and raised an eyebrow: Sixty-seven unread blog posts?  Wasn’t I down to eleven last night?  How many of these things am I reading?  A quick double-click in my “manage subscriptions” area told me that I’m reading 128 cooking blogs.  Yikes.  Hello, I’m Regina and I’m a blog nut.

Suffice it to say, with the overwhelming surplus of recipes that hit my computer screen each day, I read food blogs the way non-food-dorks read People Magazine—I tend to skip to the most eye-catching, funny or tested recipes.  “Muffins on Sunday” is my Cosmo.  Have you read Priya’s Gordon Ramsey blog post about broccoli soup?  If you haven’t, stop now and go read it.  I was hooked.  I laughed through her entire post, made soup that night and haven’t stopped loving her self-effacing, hysterical, drool-worthy posts.  Priya invited me to share one of my favorite recipes on her blog and I’m honored and thrilled to continue recipe swapping with my hysterical, childhood chum.

This recipe is a breeze to put together and calls for seasonal ingredients—cabbages and apples, both ready or nearly-ready to harvest in east coast (and soon, west coast) gardens.  I tweaked and tested this recipe in Maine while I was living on an heirloom apple orchard with gazillions of apple varieties at my disposal.  At the orchard, our favorite “coleslaw” batch used an apple variety called Red St. Lawrence.  Go ahead and use whatever variety you have on hand that’s your favorite apple to eat out-of-hand; I think it’ll taste best if it’s a bit tart and a bit sweet.  This salad is great the day-of and is still snappy and refreshing for next-day leftovers.  Be sure not to skimp on the dates, cilantro or pecans—while that mix of ingredients may be unexpected, I promise they unite into the most lip-smacking cabbage salad I’ve ever had.

Ingredients for the Slaw:
8 cups green or purple cabbage, shredded
3 large, firm apples, cored and cut into matchsticks
1 cup dates, chopped
¾ cup pecans, toasted and chopped
1/3 cup cilantro, chopped
1 small early onion/shallot, thinly sliced

Ingredients for the Dressing:
¼ cup olive oil
¼ cup lemon juice
½ teaspoon sea salt
¼ teaspoon ground pepper
2 tablespoons honey, optional


In a large skillet, toast pecans, stirring frequently on medium-low heat until fragrant and slightly browned (approximately 8-10 minutes). Meanwhile, quarter cabbage; lay each section on its side and slice into thin strips with a sharp knife.  Set shredded cabbage aside in a large bowl. Chop dates, cilantro and onion and combine with cabbage.

In a separate bowl, whisk dressing until incorporated.  Pour onto shredded cabbage and toss.  Let sit at least 10 minutes before serving.  Garnish with toasted pecans.