Friday, September 3, 2010

Homemade Mozzarella

So here's how it happened.  The first time I made this it worked beautifully.  My curds weren't ever so firm that I could cut them with a knife, like the instructions said, but it worked well. 

The second time I tried to make it with 1% milk and accidentally added 1 c. water for some insane reason.  BAD.  I ended up with boiling milk all over my arms and no cheese.

The third time it worked pretty well.  I experimented with a whole bunch of things and sort of figured things out.

The fourth time I had six other women watching me and I was extremely nervous.  Fortunately, it worked.  And I think I've figured it out.  I really really hope you all try this, because it is SO COOL to see it actually working!  Cheese!  In your kitchen!  In half an hour!!!  It's like the pinnacle of domestic awesomeness. 

Things to know before you start:  

  • The milk available in most grocery stores is probably not going to give you a cuttable curd.  It will, however, give you a curd that you can dip out with a slotted spoon (and then pour the rest into a strainer to separate the curds from the whey).
  • The longer you let it sit, the firmer your curds.  Some recipes say 3-5 minutes, some say 1-2 hours.  I've found that about 10 minutes is a pretty good compromise.
  • Knead for several minutes--I found that it takes at least 3-4 minutes of kneading to get the silky consistency out of the chunky little curdy lumps.

Homemade Mozzarella

Ingredients:  1 gallon whole milk
                   1.5 t. citric acid (available at ethnic grocers [Swad brand] or health-food stores)
                   1/2 tablet Junket Rennet (grocery store near the Jell-O) OR 1/2 t. liquid rennet

Approx. 30 minutes from start to finish

1.  Sprinkle 1 1/2 t. citric acid over 1 gallon whole milk (in a large non-reactive pot); gently heat to 90 degrees F, stirring occasionally.  I do this on medium-high heat.

2.  As the milk is heating, dissolve 1/2 rennet tablet in 1/4 c. cool water.

3.  When the milk reaches 90, add the rennet water and continue to stir occasionally until the milk reaches 105 degrees.

4.  Turn off the heat and let the milk sit 7-10 minutes, or until large curds have separated themselves from the whey. Supposedly if you let it sit 1-2 hours it will really firm up, but it works at the shorter time too.  I really wish I'd taken a picture at this stage, but the curds are probably between dime and quarter-sized and still quite soft.  The real giveaway is that the surrounding liquid is no longer really milky-looking; it's sort of greenish-yellow thin whey. 

5.  Dip curds out of the whey and into a large glass bowl (microwaveable).  I dipped out as much curd as I could, then poured the rest into a strainer.  If you want to make ricotta (with the Junket Rennet tablets instructions), save the whey.

6.  With your hand, press out as much whey from the curd as you can.

7.  Microwave the curds for 1 minute.  Press the whey from the curd again, then knead the hot mozzarella with your hands until it is cool to the touch (at which point it will be harder to knead).

8.  Microwave the curds again for 35 seconds, draining the whey and kneading the curd.  Add about 1 t. salt as you're kneading. 

9.  Microwave again for 35 seconds (3rd time in the microwave, 2nd time for 35 seconds), draining the whey and kneading the curd. 

10.  Stretch the cheese between your hands like taffy.  Continue stretching and folding until it begins to break a bit (or until you think it's done!)--just a couple of minutes.  Shape the cheese into balls--you're done!!

11.  To save for later, wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate. 

Here's a website that you may find helpful--it has a bunch of pictures of the different stages.  Please note that  I don't follow those instructions exactly, since I've gotten a better curd by continuing to heat the milk to 105 after adding the rennet; the instructions on the other site are better suited to raw milk, I think.  

Friday, August 27, 2010

Zucchini and tomato tian with parmesan bread crumbs

As we were sitting down to eat this, my mom said, "Don't you want to take a picture?" 

"No," I said, a little grumpily.  "I just want to eat."

So...this is what it looks like before the breadcrumbs and the baking.

This recipe is from Fresh, Fast, & Green; the author says that the key to a really delicious tian is letting it bake a little longer than usual so that the juices have time to carmelize.  I can attest to this being completely and utterly delicious; much to my dismay, there were zero leftovers.

Extra-virgin olive oil
1 T. finely chopped fresh mint (I used 1 t. dried)
1 T. fresh orange juice
1 t. balsamic vinegar
kosher salt
12 oz zucchini (about 2 small)
1 1/2 lb small ripe tomatoes (about 5)
2 medium onions
1/2 c. fresh coarse bread crumbs (I threw one slice of bread in the blender)
3/4 c. finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
1 T. chopped fresh parsley

Preheat the oven to 375.  Grease a shallow 2-quart gratin dish with olive oil.

Whisk together the mint, orange juice, balsamic vinegar, 1 T. oilive oil, and 1/4 t. salt.  Slice the zucchini thinly (1/8 and 1/4 inch) and slightly on the diagonal.  Add to the bowl and toss well.  Core and slice the tomatoes crosswise a little thicker than the zucchini; arrange them on a large plate, and sprinkle with 1/4 t. salt.  Let both zucchini and tomatoes sit while the onions are cooking, or at least 15 minutes.  Toss the zucchini in the marinade every so often.

Meanwhile, heat 2 T. olive oil in a skillet over medium heat.  Add the onions and 1/4 t. salt and cook, stirring frequently, until the onions are translucent and turn golden brown, 10-12 minutes.  Transfer to the gratin dish and spread in a single layer.

Combine the bread crumbs, 2 t. olive oil, 2 T. Parmigiano, parsley, and a pinch of salt.

Drain the juices from the zucchini and tomatoes.  Arrange the vegetables in rows with the slices slightly overlapping each other.  Sprinkle a bit of the Parmiagiano over the zucuchini as you go.  Press gently to make sure the rows are level; sprinkle any leftover Parmigiano over the vegetables and drizzle the remaining 2 T. oilive oil over them.  Sprinkle the bread crumbs on top, letting the vegetables peek out a bit.

Bake until well browned all over and the juices have reduced considerably, 60 to 70 minutes (the edges of the gratin will be very dark.  Cool at least 15 minutes before serving.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Zucchini stir-fry with coconut and basil

This dish was designed to use up one of those monster zucchini--so don't hesitate if you've got one lurking on your counter!  Young, tender zucchini would work equally well, but I am forever forgetting to pick zucchini when they're lovely and petite.

1 yellow onion, cut in half, then both halves chopped thinly into half-rings
1 yellow pepper, chopped into thin slices (I like the look of the longer slices rather than dices)
1 T. garlic
1 large zucchini, diced (or at least 2 smaller ones)
1 medium yellow squash, diced
1 handful fresh basil, chiffonaded
2/3 c. coconut milk
1 can diced pineapple, drained, juice reserved
shredded coconut for garnish
**I also used 2 T. jarred pad thai sauce for a hint of heat--I would tell you the brand but it's in Chinese so I have no clue. 

extra virgin olive oil, salt, pepper to taste

Heat olive oil, then saute the zucchini and yellow squash in batches, adding salt to taste (I also added balsamic vinegar at this stage but couldn't taste it later).  Remove zucchini and squash when tender, then saute the garlic for thirty seconds (I had to add more oil).  Add onion and cook for 3-4 minutes, then add peppers.  Continue to cook another 3-4 minutes until the peppers have begun to soften slightly.  Add coconut milk and some of the pineapple juice (maybe 1/4 c.?); let sauce reduce slightly.  Add diced pineapple, heat through.  Serve with chiffonaded basil and coconut as garnish (although the basil really adds a lot of flavor, so don't skimp!)

Serve with brown rice (2 c. water to 1 c.rice; plan on cooking for about 40 minutes) and some delicious fruit!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Panini with grilled zucchini and mushroom-chive mayonnaise

A note on panini breads: you can buy or make foccacia or ciabatta rolls, which are the traditional choices for panini. We have also had great success with sourdough, light rye, and--believe it or not--thinly sliced bagels (pictured). If you don't have a panini press, seriously consider acquiring one, as they're fairly inexpensive--I use mine constantly.  My children (even the mushroom-hater) love this sandwich, so that's a definite plus for any quick meal!

This recipe comes from the book
Panini Express--which I love. 
Mushroom mayonnaise
8 oz white button mushrooms, wiped clean and finely minced
1 t. chopped fresh chives
3 T. mayonnaise
2 t. lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste

For the sandwich
2 zucchini (you could also add in an eggplant; treat it exactly as you would the zucchini--I love grilled eggplant and I save the leftovers to use on pizza)
White cheese (we've used provolone, Swiss, mozzarella, Monterey Jack, and Gouda with equal enjoyment on this particular sandwich.  Gouda is pictured.)

Saute the mushrooms in olive oil until they begin to release their juices (2 minutes).  Sprinkle with the lemon juice and continue to cook another 3-4 minutes until they're brown (brown as in cooked down, not brown as in getting crunchy and burned).  Remove from pan and let cool, then mix in mayonnaise, chives, and salt/pepper.

Slice zucchini (or eggplant) lengthwise in 1/4 inch thick strips.  Brush each side with olive oil (I simply use spray olive oil from a can--less mess!) and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Grill on a panini press until browned and softened, approximately 5 minutes.

Compose the sandwich by spreading mushroom mayonnaise on one slice of bread, layering in the zucchini, then topping with the cheese and another slice of bread.  Grill on the press until browned and golden, approximately 3-5 minutes, depending on your press.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Dad's whole-wheat bread

Confession:  it took me about three years to get this bread just right (including lots of hovering while my dad was baking).  I've found that success really depends on several things:  a) the fineness of your flour b) the amount of time you knead and c) your altitude (I had to finesse it all over again when we left Utah).  So if you're just beginning to bake bread and it doesn't work the first time--or the second--or the tenth--just keep trying.   Bread is my very favorite thing to make, even though I've had way more bread failures than any other "genre" in the kitchen.  There's just something so satisfying about turning flour and yeast and water into something so warm and welcoming, so redolent of safety and love.  When I bite into a slice of bread, I can close my eyes and I'm six years old, it's Saturday night, and Dad's just pulling another loaf pan out of the oven. 

Dad's recipe:
2 T. yeast
2 1/2 c. warm water (about 110 F)
2 T. sugar
2 T. oil
2 t. salt
5 c. flour (I use whole-wheat; depending on the fineness of your flour you may need to use 1 c. white to ensure a good rise)

Dissolve the yeast in warm water.  Add the sugar and oil, then set aside yeast mixture until it foams up.  Add flour and salt.  Knead--I highly recommend using a stand mixer (I have a KitchenAid) for this.  The trick is really letting it knead for a long time--longer than you'd think.  I typically add 2 cups of wheat flour, let it knead for about three minutes, then add a cup of white (if I'm using it), knead for another couple of minutes, then add the rest of the flour and let it knead for another 5-10 minutes.  Bread dough made with whole-wheat will be stickier than doughs made with white flour, so don't keep adding flour until it's totally balled up on the hook like you would for a white-flour dough. HOWEVER, it should not be a wet slush. As you get more experienced, you'll develop more of an eye and a feel for how the dough should look/feel when it's finished.
Let rise to double (about 45 minutes if you're using instant yeast).  Knead again, form into longish ovals and put into greased and floured loaf pans.  Let rise again (I just do the second rise while the oven is heating, about 10 minutes), then bake at 350 for 35 minutes.  Immediately remove from pans, let cool on rack until cool enough to serve (if you cut it too soon, it will crumble apart--but if you wait too long, it won't melt butter.  You decide where you want to cut on this continuum!  I usually wait about five minutes and figure if it crumbles, it crumbles). 

A couple of other notes:
  • If you let the dough rise too long, it will fall and look a little deflated.  This means your final loaf won't rise as well.
  • On that note, there's a little thing called "oven spring" which means your dough will continue to rise slightly once you put it in the oven.  I let my second rise go until the dough is peeking over the top of the loaf pan, then put it in.
  • My dad's recipe is formulated for smaller loaf pans than they sell now.  What I generally do (for one loaf of bread) is adjust this recipe so I'm making (roughly) a 3/4 amount.  This is just right for my pans to get one good-sized loaf.  So I use 1 3/4 c. water,  1 3/4 T. yeast, etc. 
  • I have an Ultramill, which is the kind of mill that grinds a #10 can of wheat into flour in about two minutes.  Super fast, but a coarser grind than my dad's stone mill.  This also impacts rise.  Again, this is part of why I plan to make more dough per pan.  EDIT:  I'm now using a Nutrimill, which is much much better and gives a finer flour that doesn't need the addition of any white)
  • For a whole-wheat dough, use cool water on your hands rather than flour (as you would for a white-flour dough) as you're shaping the dough into a loaf.
  • If you don't like whole-wheat bread, this also works really beautifully with all white flour. 

    PLEASE feel free to ask questions!!  This is something that's a little difficult to convey without a nice lump of dough in my hand and you standing next to me at the counter.   :-)  And if you're local, shoot me an email and we'll find a time when you can come over and we'll make bread together, because it's much easier to learn hands-on.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Grilled lemon artichokes with spinach and fettucine

I used fresh artichokes to make this recipe because that's what I had on hand; you could also use canned artichoke hearts to shorten the prep time, but they won't have the smoky depth of flavor that you get from grilling fresh artichokes.  For more information about preparing the artichokes for cooking, go here.  Basically, you need to get rid of all the poky parts; you'll know if you missed any because you'll stab your fingers and it will hurt way out of proportion.

1 lb baby artichokes, trimmed and stemmed, with outer petals removed
5 oz fresh spinach
8 oz fettucine noodles
fresh Parmesan cheese

1/4 c. lemon juice
1/4 c. olive oil
1 T. Dijon mustard

Heat up your grill (I used my panini press so I wouldn't lose any artichokes through the barbeque grill grate, since they sort of fell apart as I was preparing them.  You could also use a George Foreman or other countertop grill.  But seriously--I love my panini press and I use it to grill constantly, not just for think about getting one.  :-)

Boil prepared artichokes until fork-tender, approximately 10 minutes.  Drain artichokes and immerse immediately in cold water to prevent further cooking.  Drain again once they've cooled; toss with olive oil, salt, and pepper (I use a Ziploc bag for this and just dump everything in together so I can be sure things are evenly coated).  Grill artichokes for about five minutes or until they're visibly browned. 

Start cooking your pasta.

Toss the artichokes with the dressing and let sit for half an hour or so, if possible (or you can just eat right away).  Toss with cooked pasta, several generous handfuls of torn-up spinach, and another generous handful or two of fresh Parmesan.  Voila!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Roast Garlic Soup

This soup comes from Martha Stewart Living.  Despite the large quantity of garlic, this soup is a mellow velvety broth (picky eater-approved!).  It makes an elegant first course for a fancy meal; alternately, pair it with a loaf of crusty bread and a green salad for a weeknight meal that requires only minutes of prep time.  I like to snip fresh chives over the top to give it a little extra pizazz.

Roast Garlic Soup
serves 4

2 garlic bulbs, cloves separated (about 40)
1 large russet potato (12 oz), peeled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 large yellow onion (12 oz), trimmed, peeled, and cut into wedges
1 1/2 t. ground sage
1 T. olive oil
1 1/2 t. coarse salt
freshly ground pepper
1/3 c. apple juice (or sherry if you prefer)
3 1/2 c. chicken or vegetable stock
1 t. lemon juice

Preheat oven to 400.  Toss whole garlic cloves, potato, onion, sage, oil, 1 t. salt, and a pinch of pepper in a large ovenproof skillet or dish.  Cover and transfer to oven.  Roast, stirring occasionally, 30 minutes.  (I use a Corningware baking dish for the oven step and then transfer to a stockpot for the stovetop steps.)

Remove pan from oven; stir in 1/3 c. water.  Cover, return to oven, and roast until potato is deep gold brown and garlic and onion are very soft (about 30 minutes).  Transfer garlic cloves to a plate, let cool slightly.  Squeeze garlic from skins into skillet; discard skins.

Heat skillet over medium-high heat.  Add sherry or juice and cook, stirring to scrape up browned bits (this is where the flavor is!) about 1 minute.  Add stock and 1/2 c. water, bring to a simmer.  Remove from heat and let cool slightly. 

Puree soup in a blender in batches, or use an immersion blender in the dish itself (my preferred method).  Heat over low heat; stir in lemon juice and remaining 1/2 t. salt, and 1/4 t. pepper. 

Friday, May 7, 2010

artisanal-style pizza

This is honestly the best pizza I've ever had in my life.  The original recipe comes from Pizzeria Bianco in Phoenix via May 2009's Martha Stewart Living.  This recipe has a delicate crumb and a perfectly crunchy crust--use a preheated baking stone for best results.  And I'll be honest with you--you need toppings that are worthy of this crust! We have also found that this works very well if you refrigerate it after the first rise, making a perfect choice if you have afternoon church--just divide, cover with plastic wrap, and stick in the fridge, then take it out when you get home while the oven heats up.

Dough (makes 4 12-inch pizzas)
2 1/4 t. active dry yeast
2 c. warm water (105 to 115 degrees F)
5 to 5 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
2 t. fine sea salt
Extra-virgin olive oil, for greasing bowl
**scroll down for topping suggestions**

Dissolve yeast in warm water, let stand for 5 minutes.  Stir in 3 c. flour and the salt, stirring until smooth.  Stir in additional 2 c. flour, adding flour (up to 1/2 c.) 1 T. at a time, stirring until dough comes away from bowl but is still sticky (I use my KitchenAid stand mixer for all this).

Turn dough out of bowl and onto a lightly floured surface, kneading with floured hands.  Fold the dough back over itself, repeating until it's easily to handle and less sticky, about ten times.  Knead normally until dough is smooth, elastic, and soft, but still a little tacky, about 10 minutes.

Shape dough into a ball and transfer to a lightly oiled bowl; turn to coat.  Cover with plastic, let rise in a warm place until it doubles in volume (2-3 hours; when pressed with finger the indent should remain).

Place pizza stone in oven and preheat to 500 for an hour.  Scrape dough out of bowl onto floured surface, cut into 4 pieces, and shape into balls.  Dust with flour, and cover with plastic.  Let rest 20-30 minutes until dough relaxes and almost doubles.  Turn over a baking sheet (we like jelly roll pans) and cover it liberally with cornmeal.

Holding top edge of 1 dough ball in both hands, let bottom edge touch work surface.  Carefully move hands around edge to form a circle, as if turning a wheel.  Hold dough on back of your hand, letting its weight stretch into a 12-inch round (Neil likes to toss it at this point, but I always ruin it, so if he's not home I just stretch it). 

Transfer dough to inverted baking sheet (on cornmeal side).  Arrange toppings, then carefully slide the dough off the baking sheet and onto the hot stone.  We find that this generally requires two people with metal spatulas (see picture).  Bake pizza for 12 minutes or until crust is crisp and golden brown; remove from oven with peel and serve hot!


Our favorite combination (pictured) is pesto, grilled eggplant (brush cut eggplant with olive oil, sprinkle with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, grill on panini press or George Foreman-style grill for 4-5 minutes or until done), red onion rings, shaved Parmesan, and black olives.  In summer, we add thick slices of heirloom tomatoes (Brandywine is our favorite).  We also make one with olives, peppers, onions, and mushrooms for the kids, who aren't crazy about eggplant.  Our favorite jarred sauce is Classico Traditional Sweet Basil. 

other suggestions from the MS Living article:
  • tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella, basil
  • tomato sauce, oregano, garlic
  • tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella, gaeta olives, salami
  • fresh mozzarella, ricotta, parmigiano-reggiano, arugula
  • parmigiano-reggiano, red onion, rosemary, pistachios
  • smoked mozzarella, fennel sausage, oven-roasted onion
  • fresh mozzarella, mortadella, garlic
  • heirloom tomatoes, pecorino, dried oregano, pancetta

Friday, April 23, 2010

Dijon Fruited Salad

The original recipe comes from my sister Ruth's mother-in-law, Adrienne.  She served it at Ruth's bridal shower and I ate three plates of this salad (I think everyone else at my table did as well!)  It was SO good.  Adrienne says that the salad was originally made without chicken; the recipe that I have includes 2 lbs of cooked diced chicken, which I generally leave out, but if you're a meat-eater and you want this to be more substantial, I would recommend baking a couple of chicken breasts (350 for 35 minutes), then dicing and adding to the salad after the chicken has been chilled. 

Dijon Fruited Salad

Dressing (prepare and refrigerate overnight; I toss everything in a pint jar and shake vigorously):
1/2 c. sugar
1/3 c. lemon juice
2 T. Dijon mustard
1 T. poppy seeds
3/4 c. oil
1/2 t. salt
2 T. finely chopped red onion

2 heads chopped romaine lettuce
2 unpeeled diced red apples
2 unpeeled diced pears (rinse diced fruit in lemon juice to prevent browning)
1 1/2 c. cashews
1 c. dried cranberries
1 c. shredded mozzarella (I generally leave this out these days...but it's really tasty.  :-)
**2-3 diced avocadoes
**1 lb sliced strawberries

**not in original recipe but extremely tasty additions!!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Whole Wheat Waffles

Every Saturday morning, my dad makes whole-wheat waffles for breakfast--accompanied by Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 23 in A major (also known in our family as "the waffle song").  They are the best waffles I have ever had in my life.  This was such a fixture of my childhood and adolescence that it's probably one of the things my friends remember most about Friday night sleepovers at our house--you could always count on a breakfast table heaped with delicious hot waffles.  (In fact, much of the enthusiasm our friends had for going to our house was based on my parents' cooking.)

My dad's recipe (like many of his recipes!) is without cut-and-dried measurements.  I've never tried to measure quantities; every time I make the waffles I find myself silently reciting his measurements because that's just the way you make it. The great thing about this is that the recipe is based on per-person amounts, so it's super-easy to adjust for one person or for a crowd. 

Whole-Wheat Waffles
1 egg per person, yolks and whites separated
3/4 c. to 1 c. whole-wheat flour per person
A nickel-sized pile of salt, measured in your hand
A dollop or two of oil
Enough milk

After separating eggs, add yolks to the main batter bowl, but whip whites to meringue quality in a KitchenAid or other stand mixer (or with a whisk, or with a fork, depending on where you are--I've seen Dad beating them with a fork, but I'm not that tough).  Mix yolks, flour, salt, and oil, then add enough milk until the batter runs smoothly off a spoon (see picture).  It should be neither runny nor chunky--just smoothly running.  If I had to guess how much milk to use, I would say in fairly even proportion to the amount of flour used--maybe about a 1:1 ratio?

When the batter is fully mixed, gently fold in the beaten egg whites.  This creates a super-light, fluffy, beautiful batter with all the goodness of whole wheat and none of the dense heaviness.  Bake according to your waffle iron's specifications.

We like to top this with homemade maple or orange syrup (for a regular morning), or if we're feeling fancy (or eating this as dinner rather than breakfast), fresh fruit--blueberries, strawberries, peaches, etc.  And whipped cream.  YUM!  This is, in fact, my standard have-the-missionaries over dinner--their eyes always light up when they see the table.  (Ditto for the kids, who can easily pack away three or four waffles each.)

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Oven-roasted vegetables

This is a dish that usually makes a weekly appearance at our house. It varies depending on what I have on hand and what's in season (it's an excellent use-it-up recipe as well!) I usually make more than I think we'll eat and use the leftovers in other dishes later; for instance, you could layer the roasted vegetables in a lasagna, toss with pasta, etc.

**Ingredients may vary--use what you like! The following recipe is what's pictured and what I had that day. All ingredients, except when otherwise noted, should be cut into bite-sized pieces

1 lb asparagus
3 medium-sized red potatoes
1 eggplant
1 large onion, cut in wedges
3 carrots, peeled
3/4 lb mushrooms

**other favorite ingredients: summer squashes/parsnips/garlic/peppers/winter squashes would probably be good, but I haven't tried them--sweet potatoes would probably work well too!

Toss chopped vegetables together in a large bowl with extra-virgin olive oil to taste (the more you put in, the better it will be; I never measure so I'm guessing I usually put in 1/4 cup? Or maybe just a couple of tablespoons?) Season with salt and pepper to taste. I also like to add rosemary.

Preheat oven to 425; divide vegetables evenly between rimmed baking sheets in a single layer. Roast for 25 minutes. Serve warm.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Waldorf-style tuna sandwich on cranberry seeded bread

Take ten minutes to assemble this sandwich for a simple dinner when you've made Dakota bread earlier in the day. The dried cranberries, nuts, and seeds in the bread are echoed in the salad itself, elevating this from a plain tuna sandwich to an elegant little bistro number. I like to serve this with baby spinach and/or alfalfa sprouts; it goes well into a tortilla as well. Even if tuna isn't usually your thing, give this a try!

Waldorf-style tuna salad
The salad is adapted from a recipe from Stephanie Nielson of NieNie Dialogues; she has since taken down her cooking blog (although when I emailed her wondering if it was permanent she said that she was planning to put it back up when her surgeries finished) so I'm listing the recipe here as I make it, rather than linking back and noting my modifications.


1/3 c. plain yogurt or mayonnaise
1/4 c. lemon juice
1 T. chili sauce
1/4 t. salt, freshly ground pepper

3 cans tuna in water, drained
1/2 c. dried cranberries
1/3 c. chopped red onion
1/3 c. chopped celery
3/4 c. chopped red apple
1/3 c. chopped toasted nuts

Friday, March 26, 2010

Red onion dressing

My most-used dressing; this has a fruity component with a delicious tang that makes it the perfect companion for spinach-type salads!

1/2 red onion
1 C sugar
2 T dry mustard
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 C red wine vinegar
1/2 C oil

Blend all ingredients together--the spiciness of the dressing will depend on the strength of the onion, so adjust the amount of onion included accordingly (I recommend tasting the onion as you're chopping!)

Roasted portobello mushrooms

These thick, meaty mushrooms are divine sandwiched between slices of focaccia with a bit of avocado and red onion dressing. If I'm serving this alongside a spinach salad (the one picture here also includes oranges, pecans, dried cranberries, and avocado), I'll often put some salad in with the mushroom. Alternatively, you could slice the mushroom and serve it atop the salad!

This recipe comes straight from Veganomicon.

1/2 c. cooking wine (I use white grape or apple juice)
1 T. olive oil
2 T. soy sauce
2 T. balsamic vinegar
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 large or up to 4 small portobello caps.

Combine all ingredients in a glass pie plate. Place the mushrooms caps-up in the marinade and spoon marinade liberally into each cap to form a small pool. Marinate for 20 minutes; cover with aluminum foil and bake at 400 for 30 minutes. Remove the foil, flip the caps over, and cook, uncovered, for another 10 minutes.


This recipe is adapted from Williams-Sonoma Breads. It tastes best hot from the oven; I like to split it in half for sandwiches.

2 1/4 t. quick-rise yeast
1 1/4 c. lukewarm water
2 T. extra-virgin olive oil, plus a bit of extra
2 t. regular salt (I use sea salt)
3-3 1/2 c. unbleached bread flour (occasionally I'll substitute a cup of WW)
coarse salt for top of loaf
crumbled dried rosemary
**1 egg white

Dissolve the yeast into the water, stir in 2 T. oil and 2 t. regular salt. Gradually stir in 3 c of flour to make a soft dough that holds its shape. Knead by hand or with the dough hook of a mixer, adding flour as necessary. Knead until smooth and elastic (10 minutes by hand or about 6 with the dough hook).

Form the dough into a ball and place in a clean, greased bowl, turning to grease all sides. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled, 45-60 minutes.

Grease a heavy rimmed baking sheet (I use my jelly roll pans) with olive oil. Knead dough a few times on lightly floured surface, form into a ball and let rest on baking sheet for five minutes. Stretch or roll out the dough until it covers the bottom of the pan. Cover with a towel and let rise until puffy, about 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 400 F.

Uncover the dough. Using your fingertips, make a pattern of dimples at 2-inch intervals over the entire surface. Brush with olive oil and lightly sprinkle with coarse salt. OR, if you're adding rosemary and you'd like it to stick, brush the surface with egg white, then add rosemary and coarse salt.

Bake until golden brown, 15-20 minutes. Best when served warm!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Apple, peach, cranberry crisp with fennel topping

The topping in this recipe was inspired by the strawberry-plum crisp from Veganomicon, although I've jazzed it up a bit. The filling is a modification of a standard apple pie, with a few little additions to spice things up and make it a tasty little treat rather than a ho-hum standby. If you're nervous about the fennel, go ahead and give it a try--it's what really elevates this dish. The original recipe calls for anise seed, so you could substitute 1.5 t. of that instead.

3/4 c. rolled oats
1/2 c. whole-wheat flour
1/4 c. sugar
2 t. fennel seeds
1/2 t. ground cinnamon
1 t. vanilla
pinch of salt
4 T. canola oil

Process in a stand mixer until thoroughly combined and crumbly.

3 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and sliced thinly
1 quart drained home-canned peaches (this is what I happened to have on hand; if you're using fresh, probably 3. Don't use store-canned peaches, as they're flavorless and too syrupy). If you're using home-canned peaches, drain out as much liquid as you can, but don't get too particular.
1 generous handful dried cranberries
3/4 c. sugar
2 T. white flour
1/2 t. ground cinnamon
1/8 t. ground nutmeg

Stir together dry filling ingredients, then add fruit; stir to combine. Spoon filling into a deep-dish pie dish or a 9x9 glass pan; bake at 375 for 50-60 minutes or until the topping is browned and the juices are bubbling. Watch to make sure it doesn't burn!!

White bean soup with zucchini, rosemary, and kale

I originally posted about this several months ago; I received lots of requests for the recipe, but hadn't really noted things mentally as we cooked. When I prepared this soup on Friday evening, I paid more attention, and here you have it. This is a lovely light-tasting and hearty soup; all three of my children love it and eat it without complaining (which is the ultimate accolade). Unfortunately, we never have leftovers, so next time I'll double it

1 head kale, stems removed, cut into smallish pieces
2 15-oz cans navy or cannelloni beans, rinsed and drained
1 onion, diced
2-3 t. garlic, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
4 c. light-tasting broth (vegetable or chicken)
1 zucchini, washed and chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
2 t. rosemary
1-2 t. lemon juice
Extra-virgin olive oil, salt, freshly ground pepper, and rosemary as needed

Heat the olive oil in a large soup pot. Add the garlic and rosemary, saute for one minute, then add the onions and a scant teaspoon of salt and cook until tender. Add the carrots and celery and cook a few minutes more. Add the broth, bring to a boil, then add the beans and the zucchini. Simmer until the vegetables are tender but not falling apart (15-20 minutes). Add the lemon juice and a few grinds of pepper, taste, and correct the seasoning as needed. Stir in the kale until wilted into the soup, then serve with a crusty loaf of fresh bread and salad.

**Note: the broth will thicken somewhat with the addition of the beans.