Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Thank you, Mark Bittman.

Another hit this week in the Dining Section (link). What can I say, this guy knows my taste! Especially when it comes to #29 down the list. Agridulce is my thing: pairing sweet with bitter or sour into a savory dish.

Bittman writes: "#29. Pit and halve cherries (or halve and pit cherries), then cook gently with olive oil and a little balsamic vinegar until they break down. Toss with chopped radicchio, endive, escarole or a combination, some toasted hazelnuts and more oil and vinegar, if necessary."

And I make:
You needn't worry about exact measurements with this sort of thing. But a few friendly pointers: After you toast the hazelnuts (at 375 on a baking sheet) let them cool somewhat and then rub the skins off with a clean, dry towel before you chop the nuts and add them to the salad. The skins are bitter - and not in a good way - and get awkwardly plastered to the back of your throat and in between your teeth. Also, he doesn't specify how long you cook the cherries down in balsamic, but i'd give them a good 15 minutes and use more than just a little balsamic so that it reduces down to a nice sweet syrup.

Eat this with some crunchy-chewy grains, like barley or farro, and pretend you're a vegetarian in Sicily!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Friday Night Dinner

There are no words (well, besides HUGE SUCCESS and EXTRAORDINARY, etc.), so I'll just show you...

Monday, July 13, 2009

The lazy lady's purple pasta

Tonight I threw together a bunch of monotonously purple-hued foods - radicchio, red wine infused pasta, currants, oil-cured anchovies (ok, that's a stretch) - and ended up with something deliciously complex in taste. I shall call it...

Purple Pasta with a Punch (or: Red Wine Pasta with Radicchio and Currants)
Yield: 2-3 servings

- 1/2 lb. whole wheat linguine (or other long pasta)
- 1/2 bottle good-quality red wine
- 2 tbsp. olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped
- 4 anchovy fillets, chopped
- 1 small head radicchio, thinly shredded
- 1/4 cup currants, soaked in a few spoonfuls red wine (or water)
- handful of mesclun greens
- 1/4 cup crumbled goat cheese
- sprinkling of toasted pine nuts (or nut of choice - I like walnuts)
- crushed red pepper & salt to taste

1. Put up a salted pot of water to boil. Once rolling, add the pasta and cook till 3/4 done. Meanwhile, slowly bring the wine to a boil in a separate saucepan. Drain pasta, reserving about a cup of the cooking water, then return pasta to the pot, and pour the now boiling wine over it. Simmer over medium-low heat until wine is mostly absorbed and pasta is a rich purple.
2. In a saucepan (I used the former wine-heating pan to reduce clean-up), heat the oil over medium heat and add the garlic and anchovies at once. Cook until mixture is fragrant and garlic is golden. Add radicchio and enough pasta water to keep mixture wet, sprinkle in salt, stir a bit, and cover to steam a few minutes.
3. Add the anchovy-radicchio sauce and soaked currants to the pasta and stir together. Divide into bowls and fold in some mesclun greens for color, and cheese, nuts, and red pepper flakes. Taste and adjust seasoning. Serve hot or lukewarm.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Torte reform

And here's the (most certainly not vegan) almond torte I made, to go with the truffles and the fruit platter I did for tonight's July 4th dessert and wine party...
This recipe is foolproof yet refined (also from the Natural Gourmet):

- 3 cups blanched almonds
- 6 eggs
- 1 cup maple syrup
- 2 teaspoons almond extract

1. Preheat oven to 350 deg. F.
2. Powder almonds in food processor. Add eggs, maple syrup, and almond extract and continue processing until smooth.
3. Oil and flour an 8-1/2" spring form pan. Pour batter into pan.
4. Bake for 30 minutes. Top should be firm to the touch and golden brown.

Friday, July 3, 2009


Today, on my day "off" (yea, I need to work on that) I whipped up about 8 different food creations (including more bread with my home-grown sourdough starter!), but what I most care to share with you all are the truffles. Oh, they are diiiiviiiiiiiiiiiiiine. And I bet if you were to add some orange liqueur, they would be even fancier (but I stuck with the classic drop of vanilla extract, since that's all I had). Dusted with cocoa powder and smooth to the core, each one of these bad boys is a multi-level chocolate house of fun.

I used a recipe for chocolate ganache that I had from the Natural G
ourmet Institute (my school), which uses coconut oil and coconut milk rather than the classic, cholesterol-laden butter and cream combination. Have I ever mentioned how beneficial the coconut's medium-chain fatty acids are to the maintenance and functioning of many of your body's systems? Remind me to tell you someday...

For now, just trust me: these things are good
Vegan Chocolate Truffles
(yield: about 40 truffles)

- 3/4 cup coconut milk
- 1 tablespoon coconut oil
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 12 ounces dairy-free dark chocolate, broke
n into small pieces
- cocoa powder for coating

1. In a small saucepan, combine coconut milk, oil, and vanilla extract and whisk together over low heat until the ingredients are just combined and warmed.
2. Remove pan from heat and stir in chocolate with a rubber spatula or spoon. Continue stirring until all chocolate is melted and the mixture is totally smooth.
3. Allow to cool until the ganache binds but is still pliable (you can put in the refrigerator, but be careful that it doesn't solidify completely). Take about a teaspoon-worth between the
palms of your hands and roll into a small sphere. Repeat until all the chocolate is used up.
4. Let the truffles rest about 15 minutes, then roll in a shallow bowl of cocoa powder to coat. Spread the truffles out on a large dish or baking tray covered with parchment, and leave in the refrigerator until ready to eat.

And just for kicks, a few more of the day's highlights: