Saturday, April 26, 2008

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

strawberry rhubarb pie, originally uploaded by mysterybridgers.

I was looking for recipes for the week in the Gardener's Community Cookbook and came across a strawberry rhubarb pie recipe that sounded very good (the recipe even called for an oil crust that is remarkably similar to the Ten Talents stir and roll pie crust recipe). I had never had strawberry rhubarb pie before and thought that it might be worth a try (I love strawberries and I love pie, so what is not to like?). I didn't know if they would have rhubarb or the small tapioca granules the recipe called for at the co-op, so I put it on the grocery list as a maybe and decided only to make it if they had the necessary ingredients.

The baking section had the tapioca granules I needed and then I went over to the produce section and lo and behold there was rhubarb right above the strawberries. So this pie was meant to be.

As I was making the pie everything that went into it smelled really good so I figured the end product had to be good. The finished product was super tasty. In fact i would have to say that it is one of the best pies I have ever made.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Seitan Fajitas

Seitan Fajitas, originally uploaded by mysterybridgers.

These are super easy and take less than 30 minutes. We got the recipe a long time ago from a Vegetarian Times (back before the magazine started to suck) and pasted it into a "recipe notebook"--basically just a regular spiral notepad with recipes pasted inside--very high tech.

The fajita part of the recipe contains seitan, red pepper (very prominent in this photo), onions, garlic, scallions, veggie broth, fresh oregano, and salt and pepper. The avocado topping is what makes these. It has avocado, yogurt, lime juice, salt, and jalapeno pepper in it. For some reason this combo tastes very good, but then I love sour/spicy flavors.

We had some leftover rice from another recipe, so we heaped the fajita and avocado mixture on top of that (after the rice was microwaved for about 1 1/2 minutes it was as good as new).

Monday, April 14, 2008

Homemade Frozen Yogurt

frozen yogurt, originally uploaded by mysterybridgers.

A frozen yogurt place opened up in the city (I think it may be the only one) and we happened to go by the place when it had its grand opening. We tried their frozen yogurt, which was pretty good, but we thought that we could probably do better at home.

We had a 2 day heat wave here in the city and it seemed like a good time to try and make some frozen yogurt to get rid of the hot weather grumpiness. This frozen yogurt is so easy and if you have an ice cream maker, you can make it in about 20 minutes.

Frozen Yogurt:

2lbs Pavels non-fat yogurt (we just used it as is, but the final product would probably be creamier if you strained the yogurt to get some of the water out)
3/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla

These ingredients were mixed together and placed in the frozen bottom of a Krupps ice cream maker. We ran the ice cream maker for about 20 minutes and then put the mixture in the freezer.

The yogurt that came right out of the maker was the best because it got a tiny bit icey in the freezer. But leaving the yogurt container out on the kitchen table for about 20-30 minutes before eating brought it back to its original consistency.

This yogurt was so tasty that we consumed nearly all of it in 2 days (the super tasty strawberries from the farmer's market didn't hurt either). It was the perfect heat reliever!

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Heuvos Rancheros

(Serves four, with some leftover beans.)

A specialty of the house, and a labor of love. This is our take on Heuvos Rancheros, based really, really loosely on the "Typical Honduran" offered occasionally by Michael And Sundia at Grass Roots Cafe in Philadelphia's Manayunk neighborhood. It's a recipe that requires a fair bit of labor, and some pretty precise timing. It has several sub-recipes, but that shouldn't stop you:

One: Masa Flour Tortillas. These guys are corn tortillas, but the resemblance to the plasticised nearly inedible soft taco shells at Safeway ends with the name. These are tender, tasty, and cheap. After you have one you won't want to go back to the supermarket for Corn Tortillas ever again.

The recipe is more of a ratio than an real recipe, It's really roughly 2 parts Masa Harina (a flour made from corn treated with lye,) and 1 part cool water, plus a pinch of salt. (One cup of masa and a half cup of water will make around four small tortillas.) Add the water to the masa a little at a time until the dough has the texture of play doh. You may end up using less water or more water than I've specified, but the important thing is the feel of the dough, so I recommend mixing the water into the dough with your hands. The dough shouldn't be dry and it shouldn't be sticking to your fingers. Once you have the consistency down, divide the dough into golf ball sized lumps.

If you have a tortilla press this next bit is easy. Take a thick plastic freezer bag, and cut through the sides. Open the bag out into one long bit of plastic with a fold in the middle. Put this open plastic in the tortilla press, putting the fold in the middle of the two halves of the press. Put a golf ball on the press, fold the plastic over, and press the ball into a tortilla. Open the press, pull out the plastic and peel the tortilla off the plastic and put it aside. If the masa mix is right, it should come off the plastic without sticking.

If you don't have a press, you can still sandwich it between a freezer bag and use a rolling pin to roll it out, or you can take something smooth and heavy like a pie plate, and smush it down on top of it, flattening it out.

Cook these guys for about 45 seconds per side in a blazing hot, unoiled iron skillet, until brown bits appear on each side. Cook two tortillas for each person. These can be kept in a 200 degree holding oven until ready to serve, or they can be reheated in the microwave.

Two: Frijoles Burrachos (Drunken Beans.) Take a small onion, slice it into thin, thin rounds, and cook in about a Tablespoon of oil on medium heat (we use peanut, but canola oil works just fine,) until the onions begin to brown. You can let them burn a bit if you'd like a little more bitterness, but I tend to shy away from this, burnt generally equals bad in my book. Add two cans of pinto beans, drained and rinsed, some salt, some fresh oregano (a sprig or two,), some chili powder (2 teaspoons,) and a minced jalepeno chili. Toss and cook for a few minutes. Then add a bottle of beer, lower the heat, and simmer for 20 minutes, until the beans fall apart a bit, and most of the liquid is gone.

Three: Guacamole. For a short time in he Air Force, I had a roommate from Guatamala. He taught me to make the best guacamole. The "trick" is really simple. Dice up an avocado, add the juice of a lime, and a pinch of salt. Mash it with a fork. That's it. No garlic cloves, no sour cream, no extra virgin olive oil, no yogurt, no peppers, no onion, no food processor. Just avocado, lime, salt, and a fork. It's killer.

Four: A fried egg, over easy. (Actually, two for each person.) Heat up a teaspoon of oil in a non-stick skillet. Place a single sage leaf in the oil and let it start to sizzle. After a second, smack your egg on a flat surface, take it over the skillet, and open it up, carefully dropping the egg over the sage leaf. Salt and pepper the egg. Let it cook for about two minutes and carefully turn the egg, taking care not to break the yolk. You will fail at this if you haven't fried eggs before, don't panic, just cook it a bit longer and serve the egg "over hard," it is good that way too. Practice and eventually you'll be able to get enough of the spatula under the egg, and you'll be turning the eggs and not losing the yolk. There may be a trick to it, but if there is, I don't know it. Cook the egg on the other side for another two or three minutes, until all of the white is done and some of the the yolk is still a bit runny.

Finally, assemble. First the tortilla, then two spoons of beans, then the egg, top with the guacamole, and finish with a spoon of your favorite salsa, and a bit of diced fresh scallions or fresh basil or fresh cilantro, or all three.

The trouble is the timing. It's tough to get this all to the table while it's all still hot. You might end up trying to mind the beans in the last five minutes of cooking, while simultaneously trying to cook an egg and wrap up the last of the tortillas. I don't need to tell you that having another set of hands to do the assembly while you mind the stove is probably a good idea. That, or don't be so macho and make the tortillas ahead and keep them in a holding oven until you are ready to assemble, that makes the most sense.

Anyhow, I hope this all isn't too daunting. It's really a first class meal, and well worth the labor.

Salmon Crumpet

This is our twist on the British "Eggy Crumpet." We learned about the Eggy Crumpet from Jamie Oliver. It's your garden variety crumpet, (kinda like an english muffin,) split in half, dipped in a beaten egg, and browned in a non stick skillet until the egg is cooked through. This by itself, (with a little maple syrup or "Brown Sauce" (Steak Sauce) is a killer light breakfast.

Here we take it over the top. Base layer is a little fresh goat cheese from the Ferry Terminal Farmer's Market, on top of that is some steamed salmon, and topping it all, some shiitake mushrooms, cooked in a little bit of olive oil with garlic, and an herb from the farmer's market, which was billed as a hybrid of oregano and mint, and it starts with the letter "T" and sounds kinda like "Tilapia" and that's all I can recall. (I do know that Tilapia is a fish, so that can't be right!) EDIT, 10 May 08: I've since discovered that this herb is "Wild Tuscan Mint" or "nepitella" (Calamintha nepeta)

Anyhow, this was incredibly awesome, and jut thinking about it now makes me want to go and buy some more fresh salmon while we still can.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Pineapple Cupcake v2

pineapple cupcake v2, originally uploaded by mysterybridgers.

This is our second attempt at the pineapple cupcakes from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World (and this time we can provide a much better picture of them). These turned out so much better than last time. The last time I made them and used some "natural" organic brand of pineapple and the pineapple ended up tasting kind of tinny. This time hubby made them (which always makes them better to begin with) and he used Dole pineapple. The pineapple tasted so much better. So much for organic canned pineapple--go for what tastes good.

I did play a small part in assembling these cupcakes. I added the topping and put a strawberry on the top of each one. It made them look like little island mountains.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Everything in the Pot Leek Soup

Leek Soup, originally uploaded by mysterybridgers.

This was a "clear out the fridge" soup. It is a basic leek soup with some embellishments. I started with a tablespoon of olive oil in the pot and threw in a chopped stalk of celery, a chopped spring onion, and chopped green garlic. I let this sweat for a couple of minutes and then added the diced potatoes (we had a mix of fingerling and russett--about 8 very small potatoes). Then about 5 cups of water went in along with some kombu seaweed (that is the dark green thing you see in the soup--it gets taken out at the end). As that came to a boil, I chopped up some shiitake mushrooms very fine and chopped some chives, green onions and a large leek. All of this went into the pot as the water started to boil. I lowered the heat and cooked for about 20 minutes or until the potatoes began to fall apart. Oh, I salted to taste after each addition of ingredients. When the soup was done, the green color had faded a bit, I was surprised by how tasty the soup was--I suspect the kombu because every soup that has kombu in it ends up being very good. In fact, we are in the habit of adding kombu to just about any soup--it kind of emulates MSG in that it really boosts the flavor (but without the headache). You could make this soup with pretty much any ingredients added to the basic leek and potato base. Carrots, regular onions, kale or other leafy greens, cabbage--these would all work.

Bountiful Pita

pita, originally uploaded by mysterybridgers.

This is a terrible picture, but I was so hungry before eating this that I kind of phoned it in. I did however, think that I should share this simple and tasty dish.

I found some frozen falafel patties by Olive Valley at the co-op and decided to put them in a pita pocket with a bunch of stuff. You can't even see the falafel in this picture because it is hidden by all the veggies, so you will just have to take my word on it that it is under there somewhere.

We made hummus loosely based on a recipe in Food for the Vegetarian, a lebanese cookbook. The hummus consisted of 1 can of chickpeas (drained and rinsed), 1 clove of garlic, lots of lemon juice (I kept adding more until it tasted right to me, but some people may not like it as lemony), 2 tablespoons of tahini, lots of parsley, and some salt to taste. All of these ingredients were processed in a small food processor until smooth.

The hummus was spread on the inside of a small pita pocket warmed in the microwave for about 5 seconds. Then the following ingredients got stuffed in: 1 falafel patty (which had to be fried in some oil in the pan), salad mix, cucumber, cherry tomatoes, radish slices, and olives. Yum.

There wasn't a whole lot of falafel in each little pita, but it didn't really need any more than that. The homemade hummus turned into the star of the show. In fact you could just leave the falafel out and make this a hummus and veggie pita and it would probably be just as good. (However, this brand of falafel turned out pretty tasty, so I definitely recommend it).

Friday, April 4, 2008

Spring Salad for Dinner

salad, originally uploaded by mysterybridgers.

This beautiful spring salad couldn't be more simple. It has salad mix and grated baby carrots from the farmer's market, red pepper, a boiled egg and my signature miso salad dressing.

We may have already posted the recipe for a perfect boiled egg, but it is worth repeating.

Perfect boiled egg:

Put 4 eggs in a small pot and just cover with water. Bring to a rolling boil, then turn off the heat, cover the pot, leave the pot on the burner and set the kitchen timer for 10 minutes. After those 10 minutes, replace the water in the pot with cold water and let it sit for a few minutes. Then peel and enjoy the perfect boiled egg!

Miso Herb Salad Dressing (makes roughly 4 large salad servings depending on how much dressing you like):

1/4 cup spring water
1 tablespoon light miso (I used chickpea miso)
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil (we are addicted to Bariani brand olive oil and if you can get it this is the best choice--they will do mail order)
chopped herbs of your choice (this time I used a wonderful mint/oregano hybrid herb from the farmer's market and thyme--chives would also work great)
lemon juice to taste (I used about 2 tablespoons)

Dissolve the miso in 1/4 cup cold water, add olive oil, chopped herbs, and lemon juice and mix together. Spoon over salad.

This dressing is also excellent on a baked potato instead of butter!