27 July 2011

lemon-scented quinoa salad

Here's the other cold salad I said I'd tell you about. I really liked making the dressing for it -- so fresh! I also decided to add carrot coins for an extra crunch. I think next time I'd consider a bell pepper too. For some reason the red onion was crazy strong, but the next day it mellowed and was perfect. Oh yeah, and I added feta cheese too, because I'm really good at ruining the vegan quality of vegan recipes. :)

In other news, I went totally overboard at the farmer's market today. I work on a university campus, and someone was super cool and suggested a Wednesday midday farmer's market. Easiest produce shopping ever, right? Just a quick stroll over the lunch hour and I've got everything from purple potatoes to bok choy. This week I finally got myself together and assembled a bunch of basil pesto as soon as I got home. A big bunch is only $1! Too bad last time I let it go bad. I hate it when I get so excited about making something, then get distracted by a shiny thing or something, and completely forget about it. I need to find a better way to make lists that I will actually use I suppose. And not buy zucchini when I meant cucumber. Does anyone else do that??

26 July 2011

almond-orange biscuits

Well it sure seems like food-with-strawberries-on-top is my theme for blog pictures at the moment. My husband and I have a deal that as long as strawberries are cheap, we are going to keep buying them and eating them, and there will be no complaining. I know that two months from now we'll be sad little puppies when we see the cost of them, and we'll be stuck with frozen strawberries to put in smoothies until next June. So yeah, no complaining!

These biscuits were a part of a series of new recipes that I tried that required as little cooking as possible. We had a really stupid heat wave here, and our tower fan in the kitchen can only do so much. Ambient temperature in the apartment never really dropped below 85 F during the day for a week or so. Gross! We made cold soba noodles (the only cook time is a 5-minute noodle boil), potato salad with white and green beans (15 minutes of boiling time total), smoothies (natch!), and another cold salad that I promise to post as soon as I've got the pictures uploaded properly. The biscuits are a quick bake, so it isn't too bad if you really, really want to bake something. Plus you can always leave the room while baking something, perhaps to go take an ice cold shower, right? All in all, perhaps it was good that I was forced to try out some new recipes, even if conditions were less than fun. It was, however, definitely good that my husband reminded me that daiquiris go down especially well when it is so danged hot outside too. :)

So I didn't take a picture of this, but for serving, I recommend a nice goat cheese (the one I had was a honey-goat cheese) with some balsamic vinegar as well. If I'd remembered to clip some leaves from our mint plant, I would have sliced those up and tossed them in too. Don't tell me that I have fancy pants, because I really don't.

Almond-Orange Biscuits
adapted from Pecan-Orange Biscuits in 1,000 Vegetarian Recipes by Carol Gelles

1 1/4 c. all-purpose flour
3/4 c. whole wheat flour
1/2 c. ground almonds
2 T. sugar
1 T. baking powder (yes, really!)
1/2 t. salt
3 T. butter
3/4 c. orange juice (uhhh, I took the grated orange and blended it. That's OJ, right?)
1 T. orange rind
2-3 large strawberries, cut into thin slices perpendicular to the stem

1. Preheat oven to 400 F. PAM a cookie sheet covered in foil. (I can has Silpat?)
2. In a large bowl, stir together both flours, the pecans, sugar, baking powder, and salt.
3. Using a pastry blender (yes! I mostly use mine as a potato masher!) or two knives, cut the butter until mixture resembles coarse cornmeal.
4. Stir together the orange juice and the orange rind. Add to the flour mixture and stir until juice is absorbed.
5. Knead in the bowl 10-12 times until dough forms a ball. Roll out the dough to 1/2-inch thickness and cut with 3-inch biscuit cutters and place on prepared baking sheet. (These are the official directions. I pushed the dough evenly into an 8x10 Pyrex and cut the biscuits into 2 1/2 inch squares instead.)
6. Place a strawberry slice on top and push into the biscuit a bit.
7. Bake 18-20 minutes or until lightly browned on top.

14 July 2011

lemon & rhubarb cornmeal pancakes

I just spent a lovely weekend in the Windy City with a dear friend (Who says 'dear friend'? What is this, my memoir from the 1850's?!) from college.  It was so great to catch up  together, but even better that we caught up while cooking up a storm! It's pretty special that that's all it took to make it an enjoyable weekend. We endeavored to make ourselves dessert my first night in town, and it turned out that was a very good call. Later we shared cake with some other pals from college on the beach. It was pretty danged ideal.

We even made dinner -- a vegan feast from a cookbook that has never let my friend down: hominy, tomatillo, and squash stew with ginger-lime tofu "cream" on top and lime-marinated cucumber spears served with tortilla chips. It was so good that I had to take a picture of it!
Apologies for the grainy photo; I only had our tiny old point and shoot with me.
But this post is about pancakes. I know, I know, I've posted pancake recipes before, but you should all know by now that pancake-making is serious biz in this home. This variation was a joint innovation by my husband and me. I think the texture of these pancakes were perfect and that's why I liked them so much. I also liked that it used up the rest of the cooked rhubarb that we had sitting around. I also liked eating them at room temperature on the 7AM bus to Chicago the next day. I think the guy sitting next to me had a hard time hiding the shocked look on his face when I pulled a bag of pancakes out of my purse. Be prepared, dude-man. I suppose he was never a scout.

Lemon & Rhubarb Cornmeal Pancakes
recipe by TofuSurprise

1 c. all-purpose unbleached flour
3 T. corn starch
4 T. cornmeal
1/2 t. baking soda
1/2 t. baking powder
1/2 t. salt
1/2 c. cooked & sweetened rhubarb (leftovers from making rhubarb syrup)
zest of one small lemon
1 egg
3/4 c. milk + 1 T. lemon juice, whisked together (or 3/4 c. buttermilk if you've got it)
2 T. unsalted butter, melted
1 t. vanilla
1/4 c. milk

mascarpone cheese (optional)
fresh strawberries, sliced (optional)
maple syrup (THE REAL DEAL PEOPLE!)

1. Combine all dry ingredients in a medium bowl, mix with zest.
2. Combine all wet ingredients in another bowl.
3. Add ~ 1 cup of wet ingredients to Magic Bullet and blend with the rhubarb. Return to the bowl with the rest of the wet ingredients.
4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir until just combined.
5. Preheat oven to 200 F with a cookie sheet inside of it.
6. Preheat a griddle to medium heat.
7. Add ~1/4 to ~1/3 cup of batter to the griddle (should fit 4 pancakes). Cook until edges look a bit dry and popped bubbles do not refill with batter (no more than 2 minutes).
8. Flip pancakes, cook 45-60 seconds.
9. Place finished pancakes in the oven as they are ready to keep them warm. Now you can serve all of them at the same time! Yay!
10. Assemble pancakes with mascarpone cheese and sliced strawberries and drizzle with maple syrup. Or whatever suits your fancy I suppose. Pancakes!!!

03 July 2011

the rhubarb daisy

Actually, this post should be called "How to fully experience your rhubarb". I decided to go ahead and make that rhubarb syrup. It turns out it is by far the most aesthetically pleasing of the syrups -- such a pretty shade of red, like fruit punch, but more appetizing. :) It also turns out that it is the only syrup that doesn't make any waste. The rest of them were like tea, you just simmered everything then threw away the solids. Not this one! The leftovers are delicious in plain yogurt, and I'd love to try them over ice cream or toast too. Actually my husband and I went to Hell's Kitchen for brunch today and the special was a cornmeal waffle with strawberry and rhubarb topping -- pretty much the same idea! And man was it ever tasty. We decided we're going to make a pancake version since we probably gave away our waffle iron. We're pancake people, what can I say? This cocktail also comes along with the instructions for the syrup, so check it out! One stop shopping! I've also decided to try photo-documenting the procedure as well as the end product. I know it's handy and fun (pictures! pictures!), but I don't know how people cook food with the camera strapped to them. I would get so much crap caked onto the lens, gross. We'll see if I try it again sometime. Enjoy!

Here's the standard shot of your ingredients and equipment.
Oh right! And gin! You'll need that too. Sorry, I'm such a noob.
Dump 2 oz. of gin into your shaker over ice.
Cut a small lemon in half and juice it.
Check out my $3.99 Target special juicer! I love it!
Glorious rhubarb syrup + cat photobomb!
Beauty shot! Measure rhubarb syrup in a jigger.  I love that word! 
Add rhubarb syrup and lemon juice to the shaker, shake it all up, then strain into a glass over fresh ice.
So close!!!!
Top it off with some club soda and enjoy some adult pink lemonade! Thank goodness for summertime.
Oh yeah, and like I said, you'll love the leftover rhubarb jam (compote sounds like a much better, sassier, foodie term for it, but I am reluctant to be such a person). Proof: