Saturday, March 31, 2012

hooked on bread baking.

increasing evidence suggests that there's a directly positive relationship between how busy i am and the amount of bread i bake. take the last 2 weeks for example. It was finals season, and I had 50 pages to write, 3 presentations to give, and a final exam to study for. I also, apparently, had 4 different loaves of bread to bake. 

baking bread is the perfect low-cost, high-reward activity. first, it's cheap. cheap like "why would i ever pay 4 dollars for a loaf again?!" cheap. it's also quick. especially if you're following my lead and sticking with no-knead recipes. throw some stuff in a bowl, let it rise, dump it in a dutch oven, and let 'er bake. finally, it makes so much that no person alone can eat it all by themselves. the solutions: freeze some, give the rest away. the latter is a great way to make people like you - i mean, a great way to be a good person.

this honey raisin cinnamon bread makes a wonderful - or as my mom says, "the absolute yummiest!" - breakfast loaf. it's hearty without being too dense, and you can enjoy it plain, toasted, with some honey, almond butter, cream cheese, or whatever else you like in the morning. i only threw in raisins this first time around, but the dried fruit options are endless. i plan to include some dried apricots and dates in the next batch.

no-knead honey raisin bread

2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon yeast
1/3 cup honey
1 cup water

combine flours, raisins, cinnamon, salt and yeast in a large bowl.

combine water and honey. add to the flour mixture and stir until dough forms. cover tightly and let stand at room temperature overnight.

preheat your oven to 450 degrees F. place the dutch oven in the preheated oven for 30 minutes.

remove dutch oven and spray the inside with grill spray. dump the dough into the dutch oven, cover, and bake for 30 minutes. uncover and bake for an additional 5 minutes.

let cool before slicing and enjoying with a generous shmear of honey or almond butter.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

orzo salad with pine nuts and sprouts.

despite the fact that the bay area decided to pretty much skip over winter this year, i'm still ready - dare i say itching! - for spring. don't get me wrong: i love my root vegetables and glittens. and even when it's 70 degrees outside in january, i still insist on "honoring" the season with comforting soups and roasted dishes. 

but now that those bright green asparagus and broccolini bunches have started to creep their way into my local farmer's market, i'm ready to trade in heartier stews for some lighter fare. 

this orzo salad fits the bill. if you're looking for a simple side, potluck contribution, or main course - look no further! not only is it incredibly simple to throw together, but it's endlessly adaptable. a perfect clean-out-the-fridge solution. 

you'll want to keep the sprouts and cucumber for the wonderful crunch and texture they add, but you should feel free, encouraged even, to experiment with the other add-ins. i've made the dish twice already, each time using different toasted nuts, greens, and herbs. this pine nut and cilantro version is my favorite of the two, but in my next version (which i will invariably make in the next few days), i'll be trying toasted almonds, spring onions, and some roughly chopped mint.

orzo salad with pine nuts and sprouts.

adapted from 101 cookbooks

1 cup dried orzo pasta

1 small clove of garlic, mashed
1 big squeeze from a lemon
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp kosher salt

1/3 cup pine nuts, toasted
2 handfuls of sprouts
1/2 cucumber, cut into 1/4-inch pieces

3 tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped

bring a pot of water to a boil, salt generously, and boil the orzo according to the package instructions. drain and run under a bit of cold water for just long enough to stop the cooking.

in a serving bowl, add the sprouts, cucumber, and pine nuts. when the orzo is cooled, add to the bowl.

whisk together the lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, and salt. add to the salad, followed by the cilantro. give a few tosses to make sure all the ingredients are well coated. add salt and pepper to taste.

enjoy room temperature or chilled. 

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

my new go-to banana bread.

somehow, i seem to have at least 3 über-ripe-slash-on-the-verge-of-going-bad bananas lying around my kitchen at any given moment. 

it works like this: i buy a bunch of bananas at the beginning of the week. i eat one every few days. 5 days in, only a couple are gone and the rest are on their way to the compost bin... unless someone intervenes.

obviously, that someone is me. but perhaps not quite as obvious is that my solution is pretty much always banana bread. lots and lots of banana bread.

i have a couple of go to recipes, one of which i posted about last summer. i tend to like banana breads you can't mess up. if i'm making a quickbread, i'm not in any mood to worry about that thing known as precision.

which is why today's recipe is a new favorite. it's vegan, ingredient-minimal, moist, and very banana-y. I like to throw poppy seeds into most of my baked goods, but i'm betting 1/4 cup shredded coconut or chopped walnuts would be delightful too. in fact, i'm pretty sure this recipe can handle most add-ins and spontaneous ingredient decisions. 

go-to banana bread.
adapted from bread and honey

3 small, very ripe bananas

1/2 cup applesauce

1/2 cup brown sugar

2 tablespoons runny honey

2 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 teaspoon baking soda

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1-2 tablespoon poppy seeds (depending on your love of crunch)
1/2 teaspoon salt

preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. lightly grease a 9x5-inch loaf pan.

in a large mixing bowl, mash the bananas well. add the sugar, applesauce, and honey. whisk briefly till just incorporated.

sift in the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, poppy seeds, and salt. mix by hand until the wet and dry ingredients are just combined.
transfer the batter to the prepared pan and bake for 45 to 50 minutes, until lightly browned and a tester through the center comes out clean.

remove from oven. let sit for about 10 minutes before flipping the bread right side up and devouring.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

forbidden rice salad with miso dressing.

someone has a new favorite ingredient.

ever since i discovered that fateful pureed carrot miso soup, the miso kick has been in full swing. you name it: stir fry, salad, soup - it's going to get a healthy dollop of miso.

i'm surprised it took me so long to discover the ingredient's versatility. it's probably not unusual to associate the paste with the classic (and not always so appetizing) miso soup appetizer you get at most pan-asian restaurants. i just never realized to what extent these soups were underselling the ingredient. 

these days, i've been loving just diluting a teaspoon of miso paste in a bit of soy sauce and water, and using that as a stir fry sauce for my vegetables. two salty ingredients = never having to independently salt my dishes = people don't call me out on having a "salt problem" whenever we cook together. (yes, i'm sneaky like that).

this salad is a great potluck dish. it can be served warm, room temperature, or chilled, and it's so easy to prepare ahead of time. i'm a particular fan of the complementary mix of textures and flavors: some broccoli and edamame for crunch, tofu for a satisfying protein, and cilantro and toasted sesame seeds for that little kick. another bonus: this recipe makes a fair amount of dressing, the remains of which you can store in the fridge for up to a week (just in case you needed another stir fry sauce or salad dressing...).

forbidden rice salad with miso dressing
adapted from sprouted kitchen

1 cup forbidden rice
14 oz. block extra firm tofu

1 head broccoli
4 tsp. sesame oil

4 tsp. soy sauce
fresh ground pepper

1.5 cups thinly sliced carrots

2 cups cooked, shelled edamame
6 tbsp. toasted sesame seeds

2 handfuls of chopped cilantro

miso dressing

2 tbsp. white miso

1 tbsp. red miso*
4 tbsp. agave nectar or brown rice syrup

2 tbsp. sesame oil
5 tbsp. rice vinegar

2 shallots, minced

juice of an orange

rinse the rice. bring 1.5 cups water to a boil. add the rice, turn the heat to a simmer, cover and cook until all the water is absorbed (about a half hour).

drain the tofu by wrapping it between a few layers of paper towel and letting it sit for 10 minutes. repeat once (or twice, if you’re feeling really ambitious). cut it into cubes. heat the sesame oil over medium high heat. throw the tofu and broccoli in and saute for about five minutes. add in the soy sauce and some fresh pepper over the top and saute another few minutes until the edges are browned. turn the heat off and set aside. 

whisk all of the dressing ingredients together.

in a large bowl, throw together the rice, tofu, sliced carrots, and edamame. toss everything with the dressing. toast some sesame seeds in a dry pan and add those and the cilantro to the dish. give it another toss. serve warm, room temperature, or chilled.

*alternatively, you use a total of 4 tbsp. white miso. red miso is a bit stronger than white, so you need less of it. 

Monday, March 5, 2012

carrot miso soup.

if there's anything i miss about living in cold-weather climates (and there isn't), it would be the timeliness of warm soups in the winter months. here in california, it never quite feels like soup season. on a 70 degree day, albeit in january, i'd just as readily eat a crisp salad as a bowl of steaming hot liquid. in fact, as i type this, the latter sounds really awful.except that it's still technically winter, and in winter, i want to be eating soup, not pulling my own teeth to convince myself to want to eat soup. you feel me?this delicious pureed carrot soup with miso fits the bill of soups i can enjoy even while wearing sandals and shorts. the miso gives it a nice saltiness (so resist the urge to salt as you go along!), and if you have it on the hand, the toasted sesame oil is a welcome - but not necessary - finishing touch. i didn't top my bowl off with toasted sesame seeds or cilantro this time, but i could imagine those would work quite nicely as well.the final added benefit? the recipe makes a lot! perfect for hosting guests, freezing and reheating, or converting into a stir fry sauce. i did all three with mine.

carrot soup with miso

thanks to smitten kitchen

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 pounds carrots (about 8 large), roughly chopped
1 large white onion, finely chopped

6 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
1 tablespoon ginger, minced
5 cups vegetable broth

1/3 cup white miso paste

drizzle of toasted sesame oil

2 scallions, thinly sliced

heat oil in heavy large saucepan over medium heat.

add carrots, onion, ginger and garlic. sauté until onion is translucent, about 10 minutes. add broth and cover. simmer until carrots are tender (about 30 minutes).

puree soup using an immersion blender. in a small bowl, whisk together the miso and half a cup of the soup. stir the mixture back into the pot of soup. make sure the miso is fully dissolved.

taste the soup and add more miso if you want. ladle into bowls and garnish.