Thursday, March 31, 2011

Preserved Lemons

Somebody recently over-purchased lemons. I'm not saying who. In any case, we had about 20 lemons lying around and Tim noticed that some of them were teetering on the edge. I needed a quick but tasty way to use up the extra lemons; to preserve them (har har).
I've always had preserved lemons on my list of to-dos. Once fully pickled, the preserved lemons are used in Moroccan dishes like tagines. They're super easy to make (prep lemons, coat in salt, squish in jar, let jar sit); I used the directions from Simply Recipes. I'm excited to try out some of the various options when mine are ready in a couple weeks... maybe this recipe for Israeli couscous with roasted butternut squash and preserved lemons? I'll keep you posted.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Belated Birthday Magic Bars

Tim's birthday was last Saturday, but I didn't get around to baking something sweet in honor of his 32nd until Sunday. And we were hungover. So basically we ended up with whatever I could easily make with goodies out of the cabinet.
Ta da: Magic bars! A perennial favorite...

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Tofu and Veggie Fried Rice

We made way too much pilaf for Sunday's Armenian-style horovatz, so I decided to make fried rice with all of the leftovers, also incorporating the leftover beet greens and stems. Feeling a little sluggish after a weekend of drinking and meat-eating, I decided to do a non-traditional spicy tofu and veggie fried rice with a little egg, loosely based on a couple fried rice recipes from Jaden Hair at Steamy Kitchen. My recipe after the jump!

Horovatz in Mer Nation's Capital

As I said last week, Tim hosted a mini Peace Corps Armenia reunion this weekend in mer nation's capital (i.e. DC)... having practiced some Armenian-style cooking last week, we were pretty well prepared to host the metz kev (big party) for a horovatz (BBQ).
Still using "Simply Armenian" by Barbara Ghazarian as the basis for our meal, we repeated the beet salad and minted cucumber and yogurt soup, improved upon the lamehjun by cooking it on a pre-heated baking stone at 500 degrees for about 10 minutes so it crisped up evenly all around, and made a couple new dishes to make sure everybody got enough to eat: grilled lamb skewers and pilaf. Recipes after the jump!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Belated St. Patrick's Day Treat: Irish Soda Bread

Inspired by this Endless Simmer post on "authentic" Irish soda bread and with memories of my grandmother's version in my head, I baked up a loaf for St. Patrick's Day. I took a middle route, a hybrid approach somewhere between the authentic version and the version I ate as a kid.

I basically followed the directions from Endless Simmer, with a few modifications:

1) I used about 1.5 cups of cake flour, with the addition of approximately 1 cup of all-purpose unbleached flour because I a) ran out of cake flour and b) found the dough to be super sticky, wet and unmanageable without additional flour

2) I threw the loaf directly onto a pre-heated baking stone rather than use the cast iron pot

3) Finally, in deference to my grandmother's recipe (which I'm sure was only remotely related to the recipe above- yogurt not being a resident in her fridge), I threw in about third of a cup of raisins.

It came out pretty delicious! More moist than I remember, but still with that crusty, craggy top. Mmmm. And, yes, I drank some stout whilst mixing up the ingredients for this tasty treat.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Sunday Dinner: Armenian Meal

Tim's friends from Peace Corps Armenia are coming into town next weekend, so he wanted to cook an Armenian meal for them. But he wanted to practice first, which is where we came in. This week's Sunday dinner was an Armenian feast: minted cucumber and yogurt soup, beet and walnut salad, lahmahjoon/lamejun (basically Armenian lamb pizzas), and apricot cake. We based all of the recipes off of a cookbook Andrea gave Tim for Christmas: Simply Armenian, by Barbara Ghazarian. Recipes after the jump!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Chocolate Sponge Cake Roulade with Chocolate Ganache... AKA Giant Homemade Ho Ho

Kate has been having some serious pregnancy cravings... lots of fruit, lots of sugar... and for the last couple weeks she's been talking about those tasty childhood favorites: Ho Hos.
I told her I could make a homemade version, and since her birthday is this week, so I took the opportunity to give it a try. I searched the internets for a homemade Ho Hos recipe, but all of the recipes I found had poor reviews or the cooks were having trouble executing them without having them fall apart. Ho Hos are really just thin chocolate cake rolled up with a creamy filling and coated in a layer of chocolate, though, so I went to a reliable source for a recipe for a chocolate sponge cake roulade with chocolate ganache. Basically a fancified, giant Ho Ho. Super fluffy flourless cake, lightly sweetened whipped cream, silky ganache. Yum.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Chicken Stroganoff

Tim is making his annual March pilgrimage to the a Pogues concert at 9:30 Club, so I decided to cook a mushroom dish while he's gone (he's not a mushroom lover). Beef Stroganoff is one of my all-time favorites, but I'm a little beefed out these days, so I made a chicken Stroganoff instead. Not quite as awesomely delicious as the beef version, but pretty tasty!

Grilled Cheese and Tomato Soup

I had a hankering for some tomato soup today, so I went and found this very delicious tomato soup by the Other Martha. Meg and I had bought this soup from Costco a year ago or so, but were never able to find it again. From what I remember my homemade version is pretty good and similar to the Costco version. Also made a yummy grilled cheese with cheddar and Boursin cheese, got the idea from Red Derby.

Sunday Dinner Sliders

Sunday Sunday Sunday....sliders! Tony took the lead this week and made three different types of sliders: meatball, cheeseburger, and chicken ranch. There was also a very tasty chipotle mayo. The chicken ranch sliders came from a cookbook that Tony's parents gave him, Knights Around the Table: Volume 2.

Ranch-Style Chicken Burgers:

1lb. lean ground chicken
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp Tabasco sauce
1/2 tsp seasoned salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 T cilantro, finely minced
2 T Ranch salad dressing

Tony also added 1/3 cup bread crumbs and subtracted 2 T diced green chile peppers

Ricotta- and Berry-Filled Crepes

O'Brien and Brewster came over this past rainy Sunday for brunch. The Real Martha had given me a gift basket she received that had crepe mix in it, so I decided to bust it out for the occasion. I know it's cheating to use a crepe mix, but I made up for it by making the ricotta with which the crepes were stuffed, right?

The ricotta-making went very well... the curds formed and hung together better than last time I made it. Perhaps my cheese-making skillz are improving?
For the crepe stuffing, I mixed the ricotta with some lemon and orange zest, a couple squirts of honey, some toasted almonds, and fresh blueberries and raspberries. Then I topped the stuffed crepes with a blueberry raspberry sauce (frozen blueberries and raspberries, a little sugar, a little water, a little lemon juice, simmer, puree). Pretty good! I think next time I would mix some sour cream or something creamy into the stuffing to give it some more moisture. That's probably my only complaint, though. The flavor was pretty good!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Split Pea Soup with Bacon, with Whole Wheat Pita

I don't think I'd ever had split-pea soup until I made this recipe. For some unknown reason, I bought a bag of split peas at the grocery store last week, so I gave the soup a try.
While split pea soup is traditionally made with ham hocks, they kinda weird me out. As an alternative,I gave my soup a salty, smokey base by cooking a couple slices of bacon in the pan, removing them, and then cooking the onion, garlic and carrot in the bacony grease. Then I served the soup topped with the crispy bacon bits. Delicious!

The soup called for some hearty bread to dip into it, and since the white pita went so well last week, I tried pita using a whole wheat dough. Pretty good! Not as tender as the white pita, but still poofy and tasty!

Apple Pomegranate Fruit Rolls

I had amassed a collection of various types of apples from the CSA that Tim and I never got around to eating for some reason. Since my beef jerky success, I've been wanting to make use of my dehydrator again.

Apples + dehydrator = fruit roll-ups!I peeled and chopped 3 apples, threw them in the food processor with the seeds from half of a pomegranate and the juice from one orange and half a lemon, pureed. Spread the puree on a fruit-roll sheet (and the extra on parchment paper) and dehydrated for about 4 hours.

Pretty good! I need to find a way to strain the puree to rid it of the pomegranate seeds, but still get all of the apple goodness, as the texture was a little weird. But overall, they were pretty tasty, and I didn't have to add any extra sugar.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Orange Pan-Glazed Tofu

Colleen sent me this tasty looking orange pan-glazed tempeh/tofu recipe a couple weeks ago, but I didn't get around to giving it a try until this week, and she's busy hiking the Inca Trail... good news is, the recipe is great, so I'm happy to make it for her when she gets back. I bet at that point, she'll probably be ready for a break from Peru's national dish, guinea pig.Crispy tofu coated in a sour, sweet, gingery glaze was delicious served with rice (to which I added some lime juice, cilantro and minced scallions) and roasted broccoli. The only change I made to the recipe (because it seems like I'm incapable of making a recipe word-for-word these days) was to add a couple big squirts of Sriracha to the glaze prior to adding to the tofu, because I like it spicy.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Easy Wall Art

Since moving into our new apartment, I've been looking for cheap and easy things to decorate. Meg found this wall art idea online.

Baked Tortellini with Bacon

So last year Meg got Tony a subscription to Everyday Food (a Martha Stewart magazine.) We've been using a bunch of the recipes since moving in together, but this baked tortellini with bacon seemed exceptionally good and easy!

Compost Cookies: Meh.

Remember when I made that addictive and delicious crack pie based on the Momofuku Milk Bar delight? I loved the combination of sweet and salty so much, so I decided to take a crack (har har) at making another recipe from the Milk Bar: compost cookies. These cookies looked awesome: a compost-like combination of traditional sweet baking items (chocolate chips, white chocolate chips, etc.) and salty snacks (potato chips, pretzels, etc.). The recipe also uses a funky, non-traditional method for making the batter than involves creaming the butter, sugar and eggs together for over 10 minutes.Sadly, while the unbaked dough was to die for, I can't say I'm super excited about how the cookies came out. The were super flat, despite the fact that I refrigerated the dough as the recipe suggested. They were also super greasy when baked... maybe due to the added grease from the potato chips? Finally, they were just too big... 6 ounces of dough makes a cookie that is literally bigger than the plate I wanted to put it on.

I think I may try the recipe again, and make the following changes in the hopes that the final product lives up to the hype: for my salty snacks, add fewer greasy potato chips and supplement with some pretzels, skip the extra long creaming process, and make the cookies half the size.