Tuesday, June 29, 2010

red thai curry

after making the ice cream and mini pies, i knew i needed something vegan to balance myself out. and because i had extra coconut milk from the pies, a thai curry seemed like the perfect meal. 


2 large carrots, sliced/shaved/diced (however you prefer)
2 bell peppers, sliced into skinny strips (i used a red and an orange, but any color combo would be fine)
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1-2 inch nub of fresh ginger, peeled and minced (about 1-2 tablespoons, use more if you like ginger, and less if you don't)
1 tablespoon tamari
2 tablespoons oil (i used extra virgin olive oil, but any oil will suffice)
1 can baby corn (the store i went to was out, so i skipped this ingredient, but i definitely would have used it if it were available.
apx 1 lb firm tofu*
1 4 oz can of red curry paste (i found a vegan version)
1.5 cups coconut milk (this amount will yield a pretty spicy curry, use more milk for a milder flavor, or some veggie broth instead for a lighter alternative)
apx 3 cups cooked rice (i used brown, but any kind will be fine)
bean sprouts, cilantro, lime, toasted coconut (optional), sesame seeds (optional) for garnish

in a large pot set over medium-high, heat the oil. saute the ginger and garlic for apx 2 minutes, then add the carrots and tamari. cook for 5-10 minutes, until carrots are slightly tender, then add the peppers. cook for an additional 5 minutes, then add the tofu, baby corn (if using), coconut milk, and curry paste, reduce heat to low and allow to simmer for 15-20 minutes.
serve over rice with with bean sprouts, fresh cilantro, a lime wedge, and a sprinkling of toasted coconut and/or sesame seeds.

*to prepare the tofu, slice it into 1/2 inch thick strips. place strips on a baking sheet making sure to face the sides with greater surface area up, and lightly salt. broil for 10-15 minutes or until nicely browned and crisp. flip the strips, lightly salt them, and broil and additional 10-15 minutes on the opposite side. remove strips from the oven, cut into rough cubes, and add to the vegetables.

Monday, June 28, 2010

lime curd and coconut no-bake mini pies

in chicago, it's hot. and humid. oh so humid, but that doesn't stop me from wanting to make treats and i told a friend i would make a treat for a bridal shower this weekend, because i couldn't pass up the opportunity. despite my love affair with baked goods, there was no way i was turning on the oven this weekend. so i began searching for no-bake pie recipes instead, but most of them had crusts that required baking. what's that about? a pie with a baked crust just isn't a no-bake pie...
because i was taking this treat to a party (one with a florida theme), i made individual pies, each the size of a cup cake. the pies are frozen and made with a raw crust, a layer of lime curd, a layer of whipped cream (a coconut and dairy blend), and topped off with a sprinkling of toasted coconut flakes and lime zest.

crust from wholefamilyfare (i doubled this recipe to use as a crust bottom for 48 cup cake sized pies, so it should suffice for 24):

1 1/2 cups raw coconut flakes
3/4 cup raw walnuts
1/2 cup deglet noor dates, chopped
1/4 tsp salt

combine the coconut and walnuts in the bowl of a food processor. once it resembles a coarse meal, add the dates and salt and continue to process until it sticks together when pressed between two fingers. take the mixture and press it into foil cupcake liners or tart tins. i pressed the mix onto just the bottom of the liners, but if you want the pie to have more of a crust, you could press the mix directly into your tin and skip the liner altogether. i cannot, however, attest to how easy it is to remove them.

lime curd:

6 egg yolks
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons fresh lime zest
3/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

combine the egg yolks, sugar, and lime zest in a medium sized saucepan, and whisk until smooth. add the lime juice and butter and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 7 to 9 minutes, making sure to avoid boiling the mixture. pour the hot lime curd through a strainer into a glass bowl and place plastic wrap directly on the surface to prevent a crusty layer from forming. refrigerate the curd until it's cold and thick, for at least 3 hours, but up to 3 days.
when the curd is cold, you may distribute it evenly amongst the tarts or liners. for liners, this is about 2 tablespoons each. place the crusts with curd in the freezer to harden, about 2 hours.

whipped creams:

1 can coconut milk with high fat content (apx 22%), unshaken and refrigerated over night
1 cups heavy cream, cold
1 tsps vanilla extract
1/2 cup confectioner's sugar

 open the can of coconut milk and scoop out the cream that has situated itself above the milk. mix the coconut cream with the heavy cream and vanilla extract in a large bowl. using a handheld mixer, blend the creams. blend in the confectioner's sugar in 2 batches while mixing. i was not able to get my creams to hold soft peaks, but the mixture did thicken, and because i froze the pies, this wasn't really a setback. once you've gotten the mixture as stiff as you think it will get, or when it holds peaks, spoon it over the frozen lime curd layer. i used a little under 1/4 cup of the cream for each liner. when all of the coconut milk is distributed, return the pies to the freezer and allow to freeze for at least 3 hours.

note: you want to make the whipped creams once the lime curd layer is frozen, so that when it is poured upon the curd, it remains a separate layer.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

honey vanilla sunflower ice cream

this recipe is based on an ice cream flavor i had last summer in rapid city. all across the country there are little homemade ice cream shops, and because they don't exactly flourish in chicago and it was necessary to consume an absurd amount of calories, we tended to stop at them whenever we got the chance.
the funny thing about taste and smell is the memories that they'll bring back to you. who knew that the combo of honey, vanilla, and sunflower seeds would remind me of how glorious washing machines and dryers are? on a cross country bicycle ride, one tends to get pretty stinky, and sometimes you just can't get the stink out without help from a machine. the above mentioned ice cream shop was a few blocks from our stay over in rapid city, but right across the street, like a beacon of joy, was a laundromat.
so i guess this post is for my fellow riders, who know the importance of both ice cream and fresh laundry. enjoy : )

rapid city memories (in edible form):

1 cup whole milk
1 vanilla bean pod
1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup sugar
1/8 tsp salt
5 egg yolks
2 cups heavy cream
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup sunflower seeds, lightly toasted

in a medium saucepan over medium heat combine milk, honey, sugar, and salt. split the vanilla bean pod lengthwise, scrape the seeds into the milk mixture, and add the pod along as well. cook the mixture for 5-7 minutes, stirring frequently until the honey and sugar have completely dissolved.
in a small bowl mix the egg yolks and while stirring constantly, slowly add half of the heated milk. if you don't continue to stir while adding the milk, the eggs could curdle. pour the heated eggs back into the saucepan. cook over medium heat, stirring constantly and scraping the bottom of the saucepan, until the mixture has thickened enough to coat the spoon.
add the cream to a large bowl, and strain the milk and egg mixture into it. return the vanilla pod to the mixture and add the additional vanilla extract. allow to chill completely and freeze in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions.
just before the end of the churning process, incorporate the sunflower seeds into the ice cream.

for added sunflower-y goodness, heat sunflower seed butter until it is somewhat runny and drizzle over the ice cream before serving.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

asparagus, spinach, and feta cheese frittata

frittatas are amazing because everything about them is super easy. from prep, to cook, to clean up, they're perfect for when you don't have much time, but don't want to sacrifice a nutritious meal.

frittata (modified from this recipe):

10 egg whites
2 eggs
2-3 tablespoons soy milk
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
5 cloves of garlic, minced
apx 20 asparagus spears, tough ends removed and cut into 1 inch chunks
4 cups of fresh spinach, roughly chopped
3 green onions, diced
1 cup feta (i use french, but any variety would work), crumbled
salt and pepper, to taste

preheat over to 350 F. 

whisk together eggs, egg whites, and soy milk (use more milk for fluffier eggs, and less for denser eggs) and set aside. in an oven safe skillet (i used cast iron) heat the olive oil. add the asparagus, spinach, onion, salt and pepper, and cook on medium for 5-7 minutes or until asparagus is tender and spinach has wilted. pour the egg mixture over the veggies and mix in about half of the feta. cook for an additional 5-7 minutes on medium-low until the eggs are mostly set. sprinkle the remaining feta over the eggs and transfer the skillet to the oven. bake for 10-15 minutes until the frittata is firm, and broil for 1-2 minutes to allow cheese to brown.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

curried cauliflower

i'm starting to think of myself as a produce rescuer. this recipe managed to put 2 heads of cauliflower, a pack of carrots, and 2 sad looking tomatoes, all to good use.
it's a combination of two recipes, one of which my former roommate steffi was quite crazy about, the other which tim couldn't get enough of. how could i go wrong?

curried cauliflower:

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons unsalted butter (or additional oil instead, to make the recipe vegan)
2 medium yellow onions, diced
4-5 carrots, diced
2-3 tomatoes, diced
2 heads of cauliflower, cut into florets
1 29 oz can of chick peas, drained and rinsed
3 heaping tablespoons tomato paste
3 cups water
spices galore*
1/2 tablespoon sugar
salt and pepper, to taste
cilantro leaves for garnishing

in a large pot heat olive oil and butter over medium-high heat. when melted, add onions and carrots and saute for apx 5 minutes. lower flame to medium and add tomatoes, spices galore, sugar, salt, and pepper. allow to cook for apx 5 more minutes then add cauliflower, chick peas, tomato paste, and water. bring to a boil, then cover and return flame to medium. allow to simmer for apx 20-30 minutes or until cauliflower is tender. if the mixture is too soupy continue to cook uncovered on medium low, until the sauce has thickened to a desirable consistency.
serve hot, garnished with cilantro.

*my spices galore included the following, but feel free to use a curry blend you already have on hand, or any combo of spices that suites your tastes:

2 tablespoons paprika
1 tablespoon coriander powder
1 tablespoon cumin powder
1 tsp chili flakes
1/4 tsp ground clove
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon whole mustard seeds
1 tsp fenugreek powder
1/4 tsp hing (asafoetida powder)

to steffi: it's not exactly that carrot magic i made you a couple years ago in bologna, but a lot of the flavors are the same and unless you hate tomato paste and cauliflower, i think you'll really like this. and who knows, maybe even if you think you hate them (like how you thought you hated eggplant), they'll turn into you're new best friend : )

Sunday, June 20, 2010

funfetti cupcakes with strawberry buttercream

in my house, father's day isn't so much about my father or my brother (who also happens to be a father), it somehow ended up being all about my niece. so naturally, funfetti cupcakes with a pinkish frosting and extra sprinkles were on the menu. or rather, they were the menu...

cupcakes (modified from this recipe):

1 1/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsps baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup sugar
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temp
1 egg + 1 egg white
2 tsps vanilla extract
1/2 cup unsweetened soy milk
2 tablespoons rainbow sprinkles

Preheat oven to 350 F.

In a medium sized bowl combine the flour, baking powder, and salt. in a larger bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until smooth, add the egg, egg white, and vanilla and mix well. add the flour and milk in alternating batches, starting and ending with flour (1/3 of the flour, 1/2 the milk, 1/3 of the flour, 1/2 of the milk, 1/3 of the flour). fold in the sprinkles and avoid over mixing.
line a cupcake pan and fill each liner about 2/3 of the way through. bake for 20-22 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. cool completely before frosting.


1/2 cup butter (1 stick), at room temp
2/3 cup confectioner's sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp cocoa powder
3 tablespoons strawberry puree (i blended 3 large strawberries, then ran the mixture through a sieve to remove the seeds)

beat the butter until it is light and fluffy. add the confectioner's sugar in 1/3 batches and mix well. add the cocoa, vanilla, and strawberry puree and mix well again. spread or pipe on cupcakes and decorate with sprinkles.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

zucchini roll ups

this recipe allowed me to get rid of the last of the zucchini, but that doesn't mean there won't be tons more in my summer future...

zucchini roll ups:

2 large zucchini, cut into lengthwise strips (using a mandolin to cut apx 1/4 inch thick* slices would be ideal, otherwise just cut them by hand)
3-4 oz goat cheese (i used a garlic herb blend, but if you are using a plain variety, i would mix in some chopped herbs: 1 tsp minced garlic, 1 tablespoon finely chopped parsley, 1/2 tsp finely chopped thyme, or whatever blends you particularly enjoy)
1 pint grape tomatoes
salt and pepper to taste

grill the zucchini strips (or saute them in a nonstick pan) on a lightly greased grill or grill pan. salt and pepper both sides of each strip, and allow them to develop dark grill marks (about 5-7 minutes per side over medium-high heat). 
when the strips are still warm, spread the goat cheese over one side and place 1 or 2 tomatoes at one end (the less attractive one) and roll up.
the goat cheese acts as a great adhesive and it's really that easy...
serve as a cold appetizer and enjoy : )

*cutting the slices thinner than 1/4 inch will make spreading the goat cheese very difficult.

Friday, June 18, 2010

basil lemonade

the high today in chicago is 95 degrees and it just so happens that i bought a lemonade pitcher yesterday in champaign. can you believe the odds?

basil lemonade (adapted from a giada de laurentiis recipe):

2 cups freshly squeezed lemon juice (i used 7 lemons, but they were all pretty juicy. 8-10 is probably a safe average bet)
basil simple syrup, cooled (recipe below)
3 cups of cold or sparkling water
lots of ice (i froze mine with basil leaves and lemon zest inside)
fresh basil leaves and lemon slices for garnish (optional)

mix lemon juice, simple syrup, and water in a pitcher and serve in glasses filled with ice.

basil simple syrup:

1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup water
2 cups lightly packed basil
1 tablespoon lemon zest (optional)

combine the water, sugar, and basil in a small saucepan and heat at medium-high until the liquid is clear and sugar granules are no longer visible, about 7 minutes. if using lemon zest, add to the syrup once it's off the heat. allow to cool, then strain out the zest and basil leaves.

note: this is a tart lemonade, if you prefer a sweeter lemonade, i would increase the sugar in the simple syrup. the recipe also produces a strong lemonade, which is why it is served in glasses with lots of ice.

and i'll leave you with lemonade and a city scape, for those who  pine...

Thursday, June 17, 2010

yeasted zucchini bread

after zucchini pancakes, zucchini fries, and now zucchini bread, i'm down to 5 giant zucchini. that doesn't seem so bad, except that there's also 2 cauliflower heads and 15 tomatoes begging to be used... ah well there's always tomorrow.

bread (adapted from cooking rookie):

1 medium zucchini, grated (i used a large grater because i wanted to be able to recognize pieces of zucchini in the bread, however, you can use a smaller grater for less noticeable shreds)
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon honey
1/4 cup rye flour
3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 package dry active yeast
1/2 tablespoon salt
1 cup veggie broth (if possible, heated between 90-100 F. if you plan on estimating the heat, it's better to underestimate because liquids that are too hot can harm your yeast)

combine all of the ingredients in a large bowl. cover the bowl (not airtight) and allow to rise for 2 hours.
use the dough after the 2 hour resting period, or alternatively refrigerate the dough for up to 10 days.
on the day you plan on baking the bread, sprinkle the dough with flour (it will be quite sticky) and form two same-sized round loaves. place the loaves on a cornmeal coated baking sheet to prevent sticking, and allow to rise for 40 minutes if using room temp dough, or 90 minutes if using refrigerated dough.
place a pan or tray at the bottom of the oven and preheat to 450 F. if you plan on making decorative incisions in the bread, do so right before baking. i also gave my loaves a sprinkle of pink salt, i'm a bit obsessed with the stuff...
once the oven is preheated, place the baking sheet in the oven and carefully add 1 cup of hot, but not boiling, tap water to the heated tray at the bottom of your oven. there will be a lot of steam and you want to make sure not to splash water on the oven door, as it could crack. close the door as soon as possible to trap the steam inside (this helps to form a really crisp crust while maintaining a moist interior). bake for 30 minutes, then reduce heat to 350 and allow to bake for 15 more minutes. turn off the oven and let the bread sit inside for an additional 10 minutes then remove from the oven and allow to cool on a rack.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

creamy vegan tomato soup with zucchini fries

remember when i thought 7 zucchini were a lot to make use with? or 5 boxes of blackberries? well how about 29 tomatoes? after using some of them for stuffing peppers yesterday, i decided a soup was the most effective way of minimizing that frightening number. this recipe is adapted from a non vegan version by ina garten.


3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 medium sized yellow onions, diced
2 carrots, diced
5 cloves garlic, minced
8 roma tomatoes, roughly chopped
3 cups veggie stock
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/2 cup (packed) fresh basil, roughly chopped
1 1/2 tsps sugar
1 tablespoon salt
2 tsps black pepper
3/4 cup unsweetened soy milk.

heat olive oil on medium-high in a large pot. add onion and carrot and saute for 10 minutes. add garlic and saute an additional minute. add all of the other ingredients except the soy milk and stir well. bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low and allow to simmer uncovered for 30-40 minutes.
add the soymilk and blend the soup using either an immersion blender, a regular blender, a food processor, or a food mill.
serve hot, garnished with julienned basil and/or croutons. for non-vegans you could add a sprinkle of parmesan and/or zucchini fries.

zucchini fries (adapted from a recipe by two peas and their pod):

1 large zucchini, cut in half and then into skinny sticks
2 large egg whites, beaten
1/2 cup bread crumbs
2 tablespoons grated parmesan
1/4 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp dried parsley
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper

(if you don't have the exact herb combo, just incorporate the herbs you have on hand)

preheat the oven at 425 F. spray a baking sheet with cooking spray and set aside.
beat the egg whites in a wide shallow bowl. on a plate, mix the bread crumbs, parmesan, herbs, spices, salt and pepper.
dip the zucchini in the egg, then the bread crumbs, making sure that each stick is well coated. place in a single layer on the greased sheet and bake for 20 minutes, flipping the sticks half way.
serve warm. they're good alone, but better as croutons in the soup.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

stuffed red peppers

i first made these peppers when vlada (one of my roommates in bologna) and i visited sade in milan. we all fell in love with them before they even hit the oven. this recipe is reconstructed mostly from memory and some bad notes taken 2 years ago, but i assure you, the end result is equally as delicious now as it was then.


6 red bell peppers, halved and cleaned of seeds (i like using red peppers because they are sweet and complement the saltiness of the feta, but you can use any color pepper you have on hand)
2 medium yellow onions, diced
5-6 cloves of garlic, minced
1 8 oz package of button mushrooms, cleaned and roughly chopped
5 roma tomatoes (or 3-4 larger tomatoes), diced
2 10 oz packages of chopped frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed of excess water
1/3 cup of extra virgin olive oil
3 cups greek feta, crumbled
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp chili flakes
2 cups tomato sauce

in a large pot heat the olive oil at medium to medium-high and add onions and garlic. saute for about 5 minutes then add the mushrooms. saute for about 7 more minutes and add the tomatoes, spinach, salt, pepper, paprika and chili. cook for about 10 more minutes, stirring occasionally. remove from the heat and stir in 1 cup of the crumbled feta.
place the pepper halves into a baking dish and begin to fill will the spinach mixture. avoid stuffing the peppers with the liquid from the mixture, and if necessary drain some it off, but do not discard it. once the peppers are all stuffed, top them with the additional 2 cups of crumbled feta.
i used canned tomato sauce, so i added it to the reserved liquid from the spinach mixture, along with a cup (packed) of roughly chopped basil, and 1/2 tsp of pepper. i cooked the sauce of high heat until it began to bubble, then allowed it to simmer on medium-low for 15 minutes. pumping up the sauce is an optional step, and you can use 2 cups of sauce as it is. pour the sauce over the peppers and onto the bottom of the pans. bake at 375 F until the cheese has browned and the peppers are tender, about 30 minutes.

enjoy with friends : )

Monday, June 14, 2010

zucchini pancakes

there will probably be a lot of zucchini recipes in the days to come. this recipe only managed to polish off one of the six giants sitting in the fridge...


1 giant zucchini, grated into large shreds (about 3 cups)
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons yellow onion, grated into large shreds
6 tablespoons plain breadcrumbs
2 tablespoons grated parmesan
1 tsp baking powder
1 tablespoon paprika
1 tsp chili flakes
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

after grating the zucchini, place the shreds in a clean thin dish towel and ring out some of the water (i managed to ring out 2-3 tablespoons). zucchini retain a lot of water and draining some of it enables crispier pancakes. place the grated zucchini in a medium bowl. in a separate bowl, beat together eggs, onion, paprika, chili, salt and pepper. add this mixture to the zucchini and mix well. add the breadcrumbs, baking powder, and parmesan and mix well.
in a skillet heat the butter and oil at medium-high heat. when the butter is completely melted, do a test blob of the pancake batter: if it starts to sizzle, you're good to go, if it isn't making that sound that makes you want to drool, give it a little more time.
once the pan is hot enough, spoon the mixture into several little pancakes (i made mine with apx 2 tablespoons of batter per pancake). cook for about 4 minutes on each side, or until nicely browned. after flipping the pancake, press down upon it with a spatula to create more brownable surface area.
serve hot with a dollop of goat cheese and sprinkle of fresh parsley leaves. yum.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

chocolate spritz cookies

whenever my niece is over we bake something chocolate-y. even if i happened to spend too many hours making a giant chocolate cake a few days before...


1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt

preheat oven at 375 F. cream together butter and sugars. add vanilla and eggs and mix well. sift flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt into the wet ingredients and mix until combined. form logs from the dough and use in a cookie press. if you don't have a cookie press, you could still form logs from the dough and refrigerate them until they are stiff enough to slice. bake for 10 minutes. once completely cooled, you can decorate them with various icings.

note: this recipe makes about 75 spritz cookies and the process is very kid friendly.

base icing:

1/4 cup confectioners sugar
1/2 tablespoon unsweetened soy milk
1/4 tsp vanilla extract

after mixing the icing ingredients together, i drizzled it on some of the cookies then topped some with toasted coconut and some with pink himalayan salt (my favorite of the combos).

spiced chocolate icing:

same as the base icing with an additional 1/2 tsp unsweetened cocoa, 1/4 tsp cinnamon, and 1/4 tsp cayenne

clockwise from top left: dusted with cocoa and confectioner's sugar, iced and topped with toasted coconut, iced and sprinkled with pink himalayan salt, drizzled with spicy chocolate icing.

Friday, June 11, 2010


the i4cake is a cake that caroline and i made to greet the illini4000 (or i4k) as they arrived in chicago today. for anyone who does not already know, last summer i participated in a cross-country bicycle ride to raise money for cancer research and patient services. caroline and i both were both members of this student-run organization at the university of illinois at urbana-champaign and wanted to make sure we supported this year's team.

we topped the cakes with these cute little cyclists...

snow covered mountains...

cake recipe (adapted from an ina garten recipe):

3 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups unsweetened cocoa powder
4 tsps baking soda
2 tsps baking powder
2 tsps salt
4 eggs, at room temp
2 cups buttermilk, shaken
1 cup vegetable oil (i used extra virgin olive oil)
2 tsps pure vanilla extract
2 cups freshly brewed coffee

preheat oven to 350 F. in a large bowl sift together flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. in a separate bowl mix eggs and add buttermilk, oil, and vanilla. add the wet ingredients to the dry while mixing slowly, then add the coffee, mixing just to combine. pour batter into 2 9x13 cake pans that have been sprayed and lined with parchment paper. bake for 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.


1/4 pound unsalted butter (1 stick), softened
1/4 pound cream cheese, softened
3 cups of confectioner's sugar
2 tsps cocoa powder
1 tsp vanilla extract

combine butter and cream cheese. add cocoa and vanilla. mix well, then add sugar in 1 cup intervals and mix until very creamy.

frost, decorate, and make others happy : )

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

adventures with crostini

in addition to the two paletas and leftover thai food i ate today (my dad decided after a few bites that his popsicle was hurting his teeth, which led me to double fisting...), i ate a variety of crostini. this one was my favorite

to assemble:

lightly toast slices of baguette
spread with fresh pesto (recipe in earlier post)
using a vegetable/potato peeler, create shavings from a block of cheese (i used a peppercorn encrusted parmesan)
top with freshly grated black pepper and garnish with baby basil leaves

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

spinach salad with roasted beets and goat cheese

it just doesn't make sense to go through the trouble of roasting beets without pairing them with goat cheese. this is one of my favorite salads topped with a roasted garlic dressing.


fresh spinach
roasted beets (about 1/4 cup per person)
goat cheese  (1/2-1 oz per person)

create a bed of spinach in a shallow bowl, top with roasted beets (directions for roasting beets in post below), crumbled goat cheese, and crushed walnuts. drizzle with dressing.


1 head of garlic, unpeeled
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
salt and pepper to taste

wrap the head of garlic with foil, leaving an opening at the top for steam to escape. bake at 350 F until soft (apx 15-20 minutes). carefully peel roasted garlic cloves (they will be hot and you want to avoid squishing them out of their skins). for a more rustic texture, you can mash the garlic by hand and mix with the other ingredients, or for a smoother texture, you can combine all of the ingredients in a blender.

eat up!

Monday, June 7, 2010

roasted veggies

roasted veggies are one of my favorite things to eat. i think i could eat them every day and probably not get sick of them. there are some veggies, or i guess roots/tubers, that i prefer on their own like beets or yams, but my favorite combo is carrots, red potatoes, and brussel sprouts. the best part about them is that they're almost impossible to mess up.

roasted veggies:

(this is what i did, but i encourage ignoring my vegetable ratios and doing what looks right and appetizing to you)

2 medium/large carrots, cut into roughly 1/4 inch disks
2 medium/large red skinned potatoes, diced into chunks that were near the size of the carrots
3-4 cups of brussel sprouts, thoroughly cleaned, trimmed of tough stems, and halved or quartered depending on how large they are (the goal is to have all the vegetables at apx the same size to avoid overcooking some while undercooking others)
1/8-1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2-1 tsp salt and 1/2-1 tsp pepper (season to taste)

preheat oven at 350 F. mix all ingredients so all veggies are well coated and seasoned, and cook for 45 minutes stirring occasionally. crank up the heat to 400 F and continue to cook for 20 minutes or until nicely browned.

note: the brussel sprouts will shed outer layers when trimming them. do not discard these leaves, they make awesome chips when thrown in with the batch.

roasted beets:

i used 2 giant beets and diced them up fairly small (they take a long time to cook, so the smaller you cut them, the faster you'll eat them)
1/8-1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2-1 tsp salt and 1/2-1 tsp pepper (season to taste)

mix all the ingredients and spread them on a cookie sheet in roughly 1 layer. if you pile them on top of each other they are less likely to develop a nice outer skin, and their texture will be homogeneous all the way through. the cook time is the same as the veggies above, with an additional 10 minutes at 400 F at the end.

note: when roasting beets, i try to make as many as possible because they are great to throw on spinach salads or to add as a side to whatever i'm eating for dinner.


when i lived in italy i ate mass quantities of nutella with my roommates. everything was perfect then, and the day i realized that nutella had hydrogenated oils was a sad, sad day. until now. here it is, better than ever...


1/2 cup toasted hazelnuts with skins peeled (i usually toast mine in a toaster oven at 350 F for apx 10 minutes, but once they are slightly browned and fragrant, you'll know they're ready)
1 tsp extra virgin olive oil (or any vegetable oil really, it's only added for consistency)
1 tsp unsweetened cocoa
1.5 ounces dark chocolate (i used 70%), melted and cooled
1/2 tsp of vanilla
1/4 cup confectioner's sugar

run the hazelnuts through a food processor until they are the consistency of peanut butter. add all of the other ingredients, giving the mixture a quick blend by hand to prevent the confectioner's sugar from poofing up at you once you turn on your machine. process until smooth and try not to eat it all in a day...

note: my final product was grainier than store-bought nutella, but i liked the added texture. it was also less sweet because nutella is made with milk chocolate.

Friday, June 4, 2010

aunty esabel tomatoes

this is a recipe based on an appetizer my aunt served without fail at every thanksgiving. it's very simple, but it's the kind of thing that my sister and i would await in anticipation for months. that was before i knew my way around the kitchen...

feta stuffed cherry tomatoes:

1/2 lb feta (i use french, but greek would also work well)
2 tablespoons chopped green onion, green and white parts (about 1 bulb)
1/2 tsp ground paprika
2 tablespoons zaatar (look for a blend that does not contain salt, but if you can't find one, a salted one will do)
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons flat leaf or italian parsley, chopped
salt and pepper to taste
cherry tomatoes

(this filling will stuff several tomatoes, probably around 50, so feel free to make only a fraction of it)

combine all ingredients except tomatoes in a bowl and mix well, it should appear relatively creamy. test the mixture and make any alterations at this point. keep in mind that the tomatoes will not be salted, so if the feta mixture is a bit salty, it's okay.
take the tomatoes and remove their tops and seeds. i make a circular incision to the tops and then scooped out the seeds with the smallest teaspoon i have (1/8), then used the same spoon to stuff the tomatoes with the feta mixture.
serve with bunches of parsley or sprinkled with roughly chopped parsley leaves.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

anais bread

anais bread is named after its creator anais. she is both my favorite roommate and also the one who made me the most insane. we have a dynamic food history that includes eating mac and cheese out of an electric water heater on our dorm room floor in the wee hours of the morning, nibbling on boozy chocolate sent to us in gargantuan packages from her parents in the mail, hummus fests!, and of course baking as a means of avoiding sufi homework (sorry vhoff, nothing personal). this recipe falls into the last of the categories. it's a garlicy herb bread that's super easy and very flavorful. its also vegan, imagine that...

anais bread:

1 cup warm water
1 tablespoon unsweetened soy milk
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons honey
1 tsp salt
1 package dry active yeast
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 cup ground flax meal (whole flax seeds would also be fine, and if you don't have any flax, just skip it)
1 tablespoon each herb: dry dill, dry oregano, and fresh rosemary (roughly chopped)
2 cloves garlic, well minced

combine the flours, flax, salt, and yeast in a large bowl. in a separate bowl combine everything else. add the wet ingredients to the dry and knead well, then coat the ball of dough in a thin layer of olive oil to prevent drying. cover and allow to rise in a relatively warm, dark place (like an oven that's been on for a 3 minutes) for 40 minutes. add the herbs and knead a little more to incorporate. cover again and allow to rise for an additional 30 minutes. coat dough once more with a thin layer of oil, score, and sprinkle with sea salt (or any salt that you have handy). bake in an oiled pan for 15 minutes at 375 F, 20-25 minutes at 350 F, and an additional 10 minutes at 300 F.

delicious both warm and cold, but best with salty, herby, olive oil for dipping.

and to anais: i'm so glad you don't suffer oil-a-phobia.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

vegan chocolate cupcakes & buttercream frosting

this is a recipe i've adapted from joy the baker. it's a great vegan recipe to keep on hand, and makes a ton of cupcakes :)


3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
6 tablespoons unsweeted cocoa powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup sugar 
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 olive oil
1 very ripe large avocado, well mashed
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 tsps vanilla extract
1 cup very strongly brewed coffee + 1 cup regular unsweetened soy milk*
preheat oven to 350 F.  line and grease (make sure to grease liners if using them, the batter has a tendency to stick) a cupcake pan, set aside.
in a medium bowl combine flour, cocoa, salt, baking powder, and baking soda, set aside.
in a large bowl combine sugar, oil, mashed avocado, vinegar, and vanilla, then add the coffee/soy milk. add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix until smooth. pour batter into the perpared tins and bake apx 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. allow cakes to cool completely before frosting.

1 very ripe large avocado, well mashed
5 tsps unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp instant coffee granules
1 cup confectioners sugar (add more for a sweeter and stiffer frosting)
combine the vanilla and coffee granules with a little bit of avocado (apx 1 tablespoon) and mix until the granules have dissolved. add to the rest of the avocado and mix in the salt and cocoa. incorporate the sugar at 1/3 cup intervals.

*this recipe is really flexible, and you can use 2 cups of any liquid. i've been thinking about substituting the coffee and soy milk for orange juice and spices. feel free to modify the recipe to suit your cravings.

pesto pasta with veggies

this is one of my favorite standby meals. it's pretty easy, very flavorful, and can be made as light or as rich as you feel appropriate. enjoy : )


1/4 cup pine nuts (if you don't have pine nuts, walnuts are a good substitute)
1/4 cup grated parmesan
4 cloves of garlic
2 cups basil leaves, packed
1/3-1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil*
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper

place the pine nuts and garlic in the bowl of a food processor. process until well minced. add the basil leaves, cheese, salt, and pepper. with the processor running, slowly pour the olive oil into the bowl through the feed tube and process until the pesto a desirable consistency. storing the pesto with a thin film of olive oil on top will lengthen its shelf life, but none of the pesto i've ever made has been around long enough for me to consider optimal preservation methods...

*make sure to use the best possible olive oil. selecting a variety that is first cold pressed will ensure that the flavor of the pesto is the best it can be.

for the pasta:

bring 4 quarts of water to a boil, add a tablespoon of salt to the pot and 1 pound of pasta (i used fettuccine, but linguini or spaghetti would also work well). cook until al dente (apx 8-10 minutes), stirring occasionally, drain and set aside until veggies are ready.

for the veggies:

2 medium/large zucchini, cut in half then into roughly 1/4 inch semi circles
roughly 30 stalks of asparagus (mine were pretty skinny), trimmed of ends and cut into 1 inch pieces
6 smallish or 3-4 large-ish carrots, cut into roughly 1/4 inch disks

over medium-high heat saute the veggies in a large nonstick skillet, stirring occasionally to ensure even cooking.  once they have browned and are tender, about 15-20 minutes, add 1/2 cup pesto, and saute 1-2 minutes more. remove from heat and add to pasta, season to taste with salt and pepper. for a creamier texture, mix in 1/2 cup parmesan cheese.

note: it is not necessary to add oil or any other initial fat while sauteing, the vegetables will still develop a nice brown color.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

euro bites

today i did not eat caviar. i don't even like caviar. i did, however, rediscover this photo taken in denmark a few years ago. it tempts me to change my mind about the little orbs, but i'm not sure enough time has passed to give them a second chance just yet.
when i visited my aunt shmounie in denmark for the first time, she couldn't believe that i wouldn't like anything a danish fisherman could offer. she was convinced that the only reason i thought i disliked fish, and seafood in general, was because i grew up in chicago and we've got slim pickins on the good stuff. looking back, i'd have to say she's right, but when i first tried fish in denmark i hated it and no amount of lemon seemed enough to mask the fishyness of it...  despite the trauma, i gave it a second chance, and when i tried it again i couldn't get enough.  maybe one day i'll feel that way about these guys:

i also found these photos of marzipan fruit, taken from outside a shop in milan. those apples look pretty legit...

eat your fruits and veggies...