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.