Recovery Hummus

Because I need some post-Thanksgiving recovery:

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INGREDIENTS

  • 6 oz dried chickpeas (soaked overnight and boiled until tender – or use a 15oz can)
  • The juice of half a lemon
  • 2 tbsp tahini
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp cumin
  • ½ c broth or water
  • Extra virgin olive oil (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon paprika (optional)
INSTRUCTIONS
  1. Place all the ingredients (except oil and paprika) in a blender and blend until smooth.
  2. Add paprika and olive oil and serve.
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Super Thick Brownies, 4-Ways

Fudgy, super-thick, decadent brownies.
4 easy variations to the batter base to suit every craving + mood. 
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There are days when only baking (and more truthfully, devouring) a slab of warm, chocolatey goodness will set things right again.

Combined with a fit of mercurial indecision and a wild burst of energy, these days yield FOUR pans of brownies (and very happy neighbors).

S'mores Brownie

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Ingredients

  • 18 oz (3 cups) chocolate chunks, divided
  • 2 sticks butter
  • 1-1/4 cups white sugar
  • 1/3 cup light brown sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2/3 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°.
  2. Melt the butter and pour over 2 cups of the chocolate chunks, the white sugar, and the brown sugar. Mix until combined.
  3. Add the eggs to the mixture one at a time, mixing after each addition.
  4. Add the vanilla.
  5. Mix together the dry ingredients separately, then add to wet mixture. Don’t over mix!
  6. Incorporate the remaining chocolate chunks (1 cup).
  7. Spread into a buttered 9×13 pan. Top with additions if desired (see notes below).
  8. Bake for about 40 minutes, or until center is set. Do not use the toothpick test – it will result in overdone, dry brownies!

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Cheesecake Brownies

  • 1 (8 oz) pack cream cheese
  • 1/3  cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup flour

Mix cheesecake batter from ingredients above. Swirl into the brownie batter in the pan, dragging a knife through the mixture for a marbled design. Bake.

Salted Caramel Brownies

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3/4 stick (6 tbsp) butter
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Heat sugar on medium heat in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. As the sugar begins to melt, stir vigorously with a whisk or wooden spoon. Boil until a nice golden color is achieved, but be careful not to burn. Slowly add the butter, then drizzle in the heavy cream- slowly because the mixture can splatter like hot oil.  Remove the sauce from the heat and mix in the salt. Either top the raw brownie batter with the sauce then bake, or drizzle on brownies afterwards. The former will yield brownies with a baked in caramel flavor; the latter are messier but will retain the consistency of the sauce on top.

S’mores Brownies

  • 1 cup coarsely crushed graham crackers
  • 2 cups marshmallows

Sprinkle marshmallows and graham cracker pieces over brownies halfway through baking time (after about 15 minutes), returning to oven for remainder of baking time.

Alternately, spread half of batter in pan, top with graham crackers and marshmallows, then remaining brownie batter. Bake as normal.

 

Red, White, and Blue Mojito

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This is a fruity, summery cocktail, not too sweet and just in time for election fever!

INGREDIENTS
  • 2 oz white rum
  • 1 oz fresh lime juice
  • 1 oz simple syrup
  • handful mint leaves
  • handful strawberries
  • handful blueberries
  • 1/2 can soda
  • ice
DIRECTIONS
  1. In a glass muddle lime, simple syrup, mint, strawberries and blueberries.
  2. Add rum and stir. Fill glass with ice and top off with soda.
  3. Garnish with a skewer of strawberries and blueberries.

<<<<Watch the video instructions>>>>

Mojito Video

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Lemon Cheesecake with a Gingersnap Crust

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This lightly citrusy cheesecake is tall and decadent, creamy without being too heavy, and absolutely sure to impress. Both people who swore they hated cheesecake and those that hated lemons (who hates lemons?!) sang this cake praises.

It’s not difficult to make, but keep in mind that it does need to be made a day ahead of serving in order to chill.

Ingredients

Crust

  • 2 cups ground gingersnap cookies
  • 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, melted

Filling

  • 5 8-ounce packages cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 7 large eggs
  • 3 cups (24 ounces) sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons (packed) finely grated lemon peel
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • Lemon twists (garnish) – I used this recipe by blogger HomemadeToast

Method

Crust:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Stir the cookie crumbs and the butter in medium bowl until evenly moistened. Press the mixture onto bottom of 9-inch-diameter removable-bottom cheesecake pan. Use a tall pan (at least 3 inches) because this recipe makes a very tall cheesecake. Also, I like to line the bottom of cheesecake pan with parchment. Bake the crust until deep golden, about 12 minutes. Cool completely. Reduce the oven temperature to 325°F.
  2. Stack 3 large sheets of foil on work surface. Place same cake pan in center. Gather foil snugly around pan bottom and up sides to waterproof.

Filling:

  1. Using an electric mixer, beat cream cheese in large bowl until smooth and fluffy. Gradually beat in the sugar, then the salt. Beat in the eggs, 1 at a time. Beat in the sour cream, grated lemon peel, and lemon juice. Pour the filling into the pan.
  2. Place the wrapped cake pan in large roasting pan. Pour enough hot water into the roasting pan to come halfway up sides of the cake pan. Bake the cake until the filling is slightly puffed and moves only slightly when pan is shaken gently, about 1 hour 25 minutes. Remove the cake pan from water bath; remove foil. Cool the cake in the pan on a rack for 2 hours. Then chill uncovered until cold; cover and keep chilled at least 1 day and up to 2 days.
  3. Run a knife around the sides; carefully loosen pan bottom from sides and push up pan bottom to release cake. Place cake (still on the pan bottom, unless you’ve lined the pan with parchment) on a platter. Garnish with lemon leaves or twists.

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Chag Hamantashen Same’ach – Happy Purim!

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I’ll go-ahead and admit it: before I moved to NYC, the only Jewish holiday I could name was Hanukkah.

As an attempt at some justification of this inexcusable ignorance, .03% of the population of North Carolina (where I spent a decade of my formative years) is Jewish.

Side effect: I lived a Hamantaschen-deprived life.

Hamantachen are cakey sugar dough cookies with a filling, most traditionally poppy seeds or prune butter made & eaten to celebrate Purim. Purim is a holiday similar to Mardi Gras in that it is celebrated with lots of heavy drinking and masquerading. It celebrates the story of Esther, whose bravery saved the Persian Jews 2,500 years ago.

The hamantaschen recipe below is my friend Jill’s, by way of her Jewish boyfriend’s grandmother. Those are her hands in the photos, too!

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Dough

  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 3/4 cup cold water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 6 cups all-purpose flour

Filling (see recipes below) + Finishing

  • Choice of filling: poppy seed filling (most traditional), prune butter, apricot butter, apricot jam, strawberry jam or even chocolate chips
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • cinnamon/sugar mix
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Cover 2 baking sheets w/parchment or foil.
  3. Either by hand or with a mixer, combine the oil, eggs, vanilla, water, sugar, baking powder and flour and knead until a soft dough forms. Roll the dough out into a very thin layer. Dip the rim of a 3 or 4 inch cup or glass in flour and use like a cookie cutter to cut the circles. Re-roll the scraps of dough and reuse.
  4. In the center of each circle drop a teaspoon of your filling.  Shape into a triangle by folding 2 sides of the circle to the center, and pinch together at the corners. Make sure corners are tightly pinched so they don’t open during baking.
  5. Place hamantaschen 1 inch apart on the baking sheets.  Brush with beaten egg.  Sprinkle with the cinnamon/sugar.
  6. Bake 20 minutes.

Makes 4 dozen. Hamantaschen freeze well.

How to Fold Hamantaschen
How to Fold Hamantaschen

Poppy Filling

  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 lb. poppy seeds
  1. Pour boiling water on poppy seeds and drain.
  2. After poppy seeds have settled to bottom, chop up fine.
  3. Add egg and sugar, stirring well.

Prune Filling (Lekvar)

  • 2 cups dried prunes
  • 1 cup water
  • ¼ cup orange juice
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 dash clove
  • 1 dash cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  1. Combine everything into a saucepan (except brown sugar) and cook on low heat, stirring every few minutes. Heat to boiling.
  2. Lower heat to simmer, cover pan and cook for 20 minutes, stirring every few minutes.
  3. Mix in the brown sugar. Cook, reducing the liquid and stirring every few minutes being careful not to scorch the mixture. Mash with a wooden spoon until the prunes are soft and broken up and mixture is about the consistency of oatmeal (about 20 more minutes). It will thicken more when cooled.

Keeps in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks and also freezes well.

Veggie Overload

CSA recipes

I’ll be damned if I do anything half way: I went for the full share.

In hindsight, perhaps 20 pounds of vegetables is more than any one person can eat in a week.

Here chronicles this week’s brave attempt to defy the odds.

This week’s Turtle Bay CSA share:

1 bulb fresh garlic
1 red cabbage
1 white onion
1 red onion
1 bunch Swiss chard
1 bunch green basil
1 head romaine lettuce
1 bunch carrots
2 Italian eggplants
2 green zucchini
6 pasture raised eggs

Sautéed Swiss Chard

To a sliced onion in some olive oil in a skillet, I added minced garlic, the chopped chard and salt & pepper. The final incarnation of this dish was damn good quesadilla filling.

Roasted Red Cabbage

I put the quartered cabbage, drizzled with some olive oil and salt & pepper,  in a 400° oven until it started to brown on the edges.

Baba Ghanoush

I charred eggplant on my gas range, then puréed  the flesh with tahini, garlic, and lemon juice. This dish was nearly a complete fail: it is spreadable burnt. Next time I’ll roast the eggplant in the oven.

Zucchini Frittata

I’ve been relying on frittatas nearly every week to use up my eggs; this week I incorporated the zucchini, basil, some of the garlic and onion. Michael Chiarello’s recipe is very close to this version.

Carrot & Chickpea Salad with Carrot Green Chimichurri

I used this carrot green chimichurri by Love & Lemons as a dressing on a grated carrot and chickpea salad.

An Unorthodox Christmas Eve: Split Pea & Sweet Potato Soup

My sister has never been one to follow any directions closely. Including Bisquik pancakes and Betty Crocker brownies, she estimates accurately following recipes perhaps a dozen times . . . in her entire life.

Despite all that, she fearlessly took charge of Christmas Eve Dinner.  And in so doing, she illustrated what I love most about my family: unconventional, unpretentious, and bucking any but the bits of tradition that truly hold value.

Her inspiration was this recipe, given to her by a coworker (a dietitian). The original garnishes the soup with pumpkin seeds, but true to form, she took a vegan recipe and topped it with ham. The seeds would have added texture and crunch, but the spicy sausage was undeniably awesome.

Split Pea Sweet Potato Soup Christmas

The original recipe says to saute the onion in water. Heresy!
The original recipe says to saute the onion in water. Heresy!
Split Pea Sweet Potato Soup Christmas
Vanna White after discovering the difference between mircoplane and box graters

Split Pea Sweet Potato Soup Christmas

Split Pea & Sweet Potato Soup

  • 4 1/2 cups water
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 1 large onion, chopped (about 2 cups)
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon poultry seasoning
  • 2 cups dried split peas
  • 2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1 lb spicy sausage
  • salt & pepper, to taste

Bring 1/2 cup chicken broth to a simmer in a large saucepot over medium-high heat. Add onion and cook about 5 minutes or until translucent, adding more broth, butter, or olive oil as needed to keep from sticking to the pan. Stir in ginger and cook 1 minute, stirring. Add remaining broth and water, peas and sweet potato cubes, and additional seasonings. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to a simmer. Cover and simmer for 1 hour.

Uncover and purée soup with a hand held immersion blender or in batches in a food processor until smooth. Taste for sea and garnish with pan-fried sausage cubes.

Garlic Butter

  • 3 cloves garlic, or to taste (oh, go ahead and do the entire head, you will find a use for the extra)
  • 1/2 stick butter, warmed to room temperature

Wrap cloves of garlic in aluminum foil and roast at ~350° for ~20 minutes. Unwrap, peal, and mash garlic cloves. Mix with softened butter.

Bread with garlic butter
Bread with garlic butter

Split Pea Sweet Potato Soup Christmas

Christmas morning
Christmas morning

Split Pea Sweet Potato Soup Christmas

Split Pea Sweet Potato Soup Christmas

Split Pea Sweet Potato Soup Christmas

Heather’s Thyme Soup [Extended Remix]

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A feast hosted by a rustic queen

Heather, a self-proclaimed descendant of “pot-pie-people,” explained that this soup evolved from her foray into learning to be a grown-up. The recipe evolved from one she found in a French cookbook checked out of her college library, after moving into her first apartment. The book was a bold choice for a beginning cook and this recipe was initially chosen as the modest option out of many with extravagant ingredients and techniques. Simplified by skipping the work of puréeing the final product, this  ‘remixed’ version is  far from the fussy original.

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SOUP, FRENCH STYLE

  • Consommés: clear soup made from stock that has been clarified with a process using egg whites to remove fat
  • Potages: thick soups of meat and vegetables boiled together with water until they form into a thick mush
  • Bisques: smooth, creamy soup based on a strained seafood broth
  • Soupes: served atop slices of bread
  • Bouillabaisse: a traditional Provençal fish stew
  • Soupe Moulinée: coarsely-puréed soup
  • Veloutés: finely puréed creamy soup with a roux base

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The essential oil derived from thyme (thymol) is an antiseptic and is the main active ingredient in Listerine.

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HEATHER’S THYME SOUP (EXTENDED REMIX)
  • 1 cup macaroni
  • 1 small onion
  • 1 stalk celery
  • 1 large carrot
  • 1 cup corn
  • 3 tbsps olive oil
  • 20 sprigs thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 6 peppercorns
  • 2 qts water
  • 12 large cloves garlic
  • salt/pepper
  • 1 cup light cream
  • 1 medium leek
  1. Chop onion, leek, celery, carrot.
  2. Toss in pot bottom with oil and corn.
  3. Stir 5-10 minutes on medium heat.
  4. Add water and macaroni.
  5. Place strainer in pot.
  6. Let simmer while counting thyme.
  7. Toss thyme, bay leaf, peppercorns [in the strainer].
  8. Peel and slice garlic, toss [in the strainer].
  9. Heat between medium/high.
  10. Stir occasionally.
  11. When it boils, cover.
  12. Simmer 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  13. [Add] salt and pepper [to taste].
  14. Add cream.
  15. Serve with warm bread.

Roaming Hostess: How to Throw a Party and Move at the Same Time

In between cramming cardboard boxes full of my belongings, I made a big pot of chili and a double batch of pico de gallo the day before moving. After the long day that followed, I threw a housewarming party that featured a homemade meal. Hearty, satisfying, and personal, it was the perfect way to feed my the friends who volunteered to help and introduce myself to my new roommates. And it doesn’t get more PRACTICAL: easy to make, the flavor only improves after a night in the fridge, economical, vegetarian, gluten-free, and interactive (bowls of mix-ins like cheese, sour cream, and bacon pieces allow every palate to be satisfied). Another bit of gold: mix pico de gallo into some mashed avocado and presto, fresh guacamole.

Pico de Gallo

  • 4-5 diced tomatoes, cored and seeded
  • 1/2 diced red onion
  • 2 big cloves minced garlic
  • 1 diced jalapeno
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro, stems removed
  • juice of 1 lime
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  1. Drum roll, please:
    Combine all ingredients.