Saturday, June 23, 2012

early summer panzanella.

this panzanella is exactly what spring's transition to summer calls for: a final chance to make use of those last bright green asparagus spears and a perfect potluck contribution. start by purchasing one too many baguettes. let the bread sit out overnight, uncovered. in the morning you'll have no other choice but to saw your bread knife through it and turn it into crusty, garlicky croutons. 

i love the mix of textures in this salad, from the soft chard leaves to the crunchy edamame and salty almonds. it makes a great main course for two or a side dish for four. you can also easily liven up any leftovers the next day by tossing in a few extra handfuls of uncooked spinach or other salad greens.

early summer panzanella
a muffins on sunday original

for the croutons:
4 cups day-old bread, cut into 1-inch cubes

4 cloves garlic, minced
a couple of pinches salt
a couple of grinds pepper
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
10 yellow cherry tomatoes, halved

for the salad:
4 green onions, white and green parts, roughly chopped

1 bunch asparagus, cut into 2 inch segments

6 baby portobello mushrooms, sliced
1 bunch chard of your choice, finely chopped
1/2 cup fresh edamame

1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

for the grand finale:
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped

1 tablespoon fresh mint, chopped
1/4 cup marcona almonds, toasted

1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper to taste

start by making the croutons. preheat the oven to 350F. in a large bowl, toss the bread cubes and halved tomatoes with the garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper. transfer to a baking sheet and bake for 10-15 minutes, stirring once or twice. they should be slightly browned around the edges but still soft (for soaking up juices!), and the tomatoes should be a little wrinkled. set aside to cool. once cool, place in a large serving bowl.

ohop the onions, asparagus, and mushrooms and place in a small bowl. stem and all, chop the chard very finely and set aside.

in a non-stick pan or cast iron skillet, heat a tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat. toss in the onions, asparagus, mushrooms, and a pinch of salt. give a quick toss and let them sear on one side for 1 minute. give another toss. when they are looking almost done, add in the chard, a handful at a time. when that’s all just cooked down, throw in the edamame and one generous pinch of salt. toss to combine, then pour the contents into the serving bowl with the bread.

add in the finely chopped herbs and toasted almonds. toss to combine, and let cool for about a half hour before serving. right before serving, drizzle in a little balsamic vinegar, and give it a quick stir to coat. enjoy!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

vegan chocolate cake.

summer is here: buy a bundt pan, brew some coffee, and make this chocolate cake!

vegan chocolate cake

makes 1 9-inch chocolate bundt cake

2 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup dutch processed cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups turbinado sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup warm coffee
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
small handful of chocolate chunks (optional)
powdered sugar, for dusting

place rack in the center of the oven and preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  

grease a 9-inch bundt pan. set aside.

in a large bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. in a small bowl, whisk together the coffee, oil, and vanilla.

add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir with a spatula until just combined.  throw in the chocolate chunks .

pour the batter into the prepared pan. bake for 30-35 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.

remove from the oven and allow to cool in the pan for 10 minutes before inverting and letting cool completely. dust with powdered sugar and serve.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

simple, perfect salsa.

full disclosure: these past few months, i feel like i've lost sight of why i started this blog in the first place. 

i created this space over a year and a half ago as a way to share dishes i was cooking and culinary discoveries i was making. it was an exciting time: i realized why you heat the oil in the pan before adding garlic and onion. i figured out why you cook said garlic and onion before adding other ingredients to the mix. i found out how amazing vegetables can taste when prepared under medium-high heat while being seasoned along the way. i discovered grains for the first time: quinoa, polenta, farro, bulgur, (forbidden) rice. i started explored how soothing and therapeutic stirring, braising, and simmering could be. recently, i realized why people swear by their dutch ovens. most importantly, though, i recognized that relationships with family and friends could be cultivated in the kitchen. 

basically: i got why people cook. together. it turns out mealtimes are not just about calorie consumption or satisfying taste buds. food's potential is so much greater. it can bring people together over a hot stove. it can create a space for creativity and collaboration. 

since then, however, i feel like i've caught a case of blog insecurity! i've felt like my photos aren't quite good enough or my recipes aren't quite high end enough. but this week, as i've been looking through earlier posts and reflecting on how far i've come in my culinary pursuits, it's been a wake up call. my recipes - both the failures and the successes - though they may not involve rare ingredients or specialized cooking techniques.. they have all been tasty. and healthy. 

i offer today's recipe in honor of that original blog ideal: my version of mollie katzen's classic salsa. simple, delicious, flavorful. i hope it inspires you this summer. more importantly, i hope it helps you to pursue your own culinary passion, however modest or simple it may seem. cooking is about so much more than just being fancy. 

mollie katzen’s salsa perfection
from the new moosewood cookbook

3 ripe roma tomatoes
3 scallions, finely minced
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
a big handful cilantro, finely chopped
1 tsp lightly toasted cumin seeds
1 tsp salt
1 tbs apple cider vinegar
1 tbs olive oil
1 tbs fresh lime juice

throw the tomatoes into a pot of simmering water. wait 10 seconds, then remove and peel off the skins. discard the seeds and dice the remaining pulp. throw everything together in a small bowl. refrigerate until ready to eat.