Thursday, July 31, 2008

Buttermilk Bread French Toast

french toast, originally uploaded by mysterybridgers.

I had forgotten about this french toast. We made it with the buttermilk honey bread that I made and used the recipe from the Cafe Flora Cookbook. The secret to this recipe is tossing the french toast into some wheat germ after dipping it in the egg batter, but before putting it in the pan. The wheat germ browns up nicely and gives the french toast a great taste.

We served the french toast with raspberries and nectarines and grade B maple syrup (grade B maple syrup is the only way to go--it has way more flavor than grade A). Please ignore the other junk on our table.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Aromatic Potato and Arugula Soup

arugula soup, originally uploaded by mysterybridgers.

I never would have thought to put arugula in a soup, but this soup turned out to be pretty awsome. We had a ton of arugula sitting in our fridge left over from another recipe and needed a way to use it all up without making another salad (it has been a little chilly here). This soup fit the bill. The soup is from Verdura, Vegetables Italian Style, which I have learned was recently reprinted. This cookbook is definitely worth getting. None of the recipes have any meat in them, but occasionally there will be a meat broth of some kind (this recipe called for meat broth, but we just used a couple of vegetarian bouillon cubes instead). Most of the recipes are super easy like this one, but a few are pretty time consuming (although if they are all like the potato artichoke cake, they are worth the time).

This soup is so simple, yet tasted so wonderful. The recipe called for butter and olive oil (we used only olive oil and less than called for), onion, garlic, red chili pepper flakes, potatoes, broth, arugula, basil, italian parsley, arborio rice and salt to taste. The basil, parsley and arugula gave the soup a lovely "green" taste and the potatoes and rice gave it a great texture. This one is a winner.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Dirty Basil Martini

Dirty Basil Martini, originally uploaded by mysterybridgers.

We prefer gin as opposed to vodka in our martinis and the dirtier the better. The crusader put this martini together after a particularly yucky day:

Put a dash of dry vermouth into the glass and swirl it around-then pour it out and put some sliced basil in the glass. Put ice in a cocktail shaker with 2-3 ounces of bombay saphire gin (you can rough it with tanqueray, but your martini might end up tasting a little bit like an ashtray) and olive juice from a jar of olives to taste. Shake the shaker until frost appears on the outside of it (this may take a little bit--the myth of shaking bruising gin does not appear to be true). Pour the mixture over the basil in the glass and add a couple (or more) olives. Neither of us can handle much more than one of these every 2-3 months or so (we are lightweights), but it is a nice splurge every now and again.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Banana Pancakes with Coconut Syrup

There used to be this really great cooking show on a no longer existing network in Seattle called "Two Hot Tamales." One day they made these delicious looking banana pancakes with coconut syrup. We tried them and instantly fell in love. Luckily I have managed to locate the recipe for the pancakes and the syrup out on the web. Our old copy is covered in splatters and really should be replaced. (Just a note: our original recipe for the syrup did not require blending in a blender so we never do it, but the new online version of the recipe calls for blending. Take your pick. Also, we always use low fat coconut milk instead of full fat--still lots of fat in the low fat coconut milk, but better than the full fat).

This recipe is a great way to use up overripe bananas and make some pancake syrup if you are all out of maple syrup but happen to have coconut and brown sugar.

The hosts of Two Hot Tamales (actually it may only be one of them--I am not too sure of the history) started a restaurant in Santa Monica called the Border Grill. Apparently these pancakes are served there for brunch. We stopped by this restaurant for lunch when we were in LA, but were not impressed, but then we didn't have these pancakes. Although you should probably take this with a grain of salt because I was coming down with the worst flu I ever had and the crusader was recovering from the same flu. Some day we will have to go back to LA when we are both not so ill. But I digress...

I have to say that these are the best pancakes I have ever tasted, so I highly recommend that you try them at least once.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Nectarine Plum Cobbler

What do you make when you have a bunch of leftover buttermilk and 4 pounds of very ripe stone fruit? The most delicious cobbler in the universe! This was a very simple cobbler recipe from Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone that can be used with just about any kind of fruit. We had white and yellow nectarines and plums. The fruit got peeled and sliced and mixed with a small amount of brown sugar, flour, and cinnamon and nutmeg. The topping just had buttermilk, a little bit of butter, a little bit of sugar, flour and salt and I think that is it.

I was a little worried that we would be able to eat all of this cobbler before it started to get mushy. We ended up eating it is 2 days so I had no need to worry. The white nectarines were stellar in this. The plums kind of disappeared into a sweet sauce and the yellow nectarines married it all together.

Now a gratuitous shot of stone fruit carnage:

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Buttermilk Honey Bread

buttermilk bread, originally uploaded by mysterybridgers.

My second attempt at bread baking didn't quite turn out as well as my first. This recipe comes from another Sort Floor Books find, The Bread Bible. It is a great book that contains just about every kind of bread recipe that you can imagine. I wanted to start with something simple that could be used for sandwiches or toast with jam, etc and buttermilk honey bread contained minimal ingredients and seemed pretty simple.

The recipe is just fine and what this bread lacks in quality is all due to my limited bread making abilities. It was a little cold in the apartment the day I made this so it took a really long time to rise. I also think that I over-kneaded which led to the bread being a little chewier than I would have liked. The recipe makes two loaves of bread, but we only have one loaf pan, so I made the other loaf as a round.

The bread turned out okay, but there is much room for improvement. We made some pretty good French toast and pesto garlic bread out of it, but some of it did end up uneaten.

Next time I make bread, I will make the following changes: use the stand mixer (part of the reason that I needed to knead so much is that I was not strong enough to mix in all of the flour with a spoon), maybe half a bread recipe so there is not so much bread to eat, make larger slashes in the top of the bread so that it doesn't crack, pick a bread with some added whole grains or whole wheat flour so the bread isn't so "white bread," and perhaps pick a more rustic Italian style bread that is not so dense.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Curry Fried Rice

curry fried rice, originally uploaded by mysterybridgers.

Curry Fried Rice is another delicious recipe from A Year in a Vegetarian Kitchen by Jack Bishop. There are a lot of steps to this recipe, but it is still relatively simple. The flavors are wonderful: coconut milk, lime, curry powder with tofu and egg and snow peas. The tofu and the egg each give the dish a different texture, so even though you wouldn't normally think to put both in one dish, they are both good here. The recipe actually called for sugar snap peas, but snow peas are so good in fried rice that we used those instead (plus they were cheaper at the store). We made rice for the recipe and then let is cool for a while, but this recipe is a great way to use up left over rice.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Steamed Earl Grey Artichoke, Miso Roasted Potatoes, and Soy-Yuzu Tofu

artichoke potatoes and tofu

This is the kind of stuff that Optimistic calls comfort food. She grew up eating healthy like this, and from time to time we have to bust out the potatoes and veggies to keep her optimistic, so to speak.

This is all original, so we can post the whole recipe!

Part One: Miso Roasted Potatoes

1 Tablespoon each of Honey, Yellow Miso, Cider Vinegar and Olive oil, (you might want to do two tablespoons of oil, it will stick less,) mixed together and set aside.

3 or 4 peeled cloves of garlic chopped in half
10 pearl onions, peeled, ends cut off
About a pound and a half of potatoes, cut up into dice. Nice waxy ones would be killer, but all we had were starchy plain old Russets. (We always have some Russets around. They keep remarkably well in the fridge, although Jeffrey Steingarten swears that they will convert more of their starch to sugar if left in the fridge... To be absolutely honest, I've never noticed a negative effect, or an overly sweet russet, but then again, they don't stay in there for long, because potatoes of any sort are in trouble if Optimistic is home.)

Toss the potatoes, onions, and garlic into an oven-proof pan. Pour the miso dressing over the potatoes and toss until evenly covered. I tend to line the pan with foil, and make a little packet, because this makes cleaning the pan easier. Close the packet and cook for 20 minutes in a hot oven (425 degrees or so.) Then open the packet carefully, shake the potatoes around, and finish until the potatoes are cooked, probably 20 to 30 minutes more. They will brown a little as well. They may stick to the foil.

Part Two: Earl Grey Artichokes.

Right after you open the packet on the potatoes, start the artichokes.

Steam the artichokes in whatever fashion you employ at your home, just add a tablespoon or two of Earl Grey tea to the steaming water. Steam the artichokes until a knife goes in easily. For monster chokes like these, that'll be about thirty minutes. Stop every ten minutes and add a little more water. The addition of the tea (with its tamarind-citrus evoking oil of bergamot,) does remarkable things to the flesh of the choke. They get so tasty that we eat them straight, without salt or mayo.

Part Three: Soy-Yuzu Tofu.

1 half pound of tofu, drained well and cut into 1 inch rectangles.
Marinade: 2 Tablespoons each of soy sauce, Nigori (unfiltered) sake, and worchestershire sauce (they make a vegan variety which is pretty good, but I do have a preference for Lea and Perrins, anchovies and all) plus two or three dashes of Yuzu concentrate and a crushed garlic clove.

Put the tofu slices into a container with the marinade. Let them sit for a while (the last 20 to 30 minutes while artichokes are steaming is pretty good, it only needs to sit for 10 minutes or so.)

So, about ten minutes before everything is done, heat around a tablespoon of oil in a non-stick skillet, take the tofu out of the marinade and cook the tofu for five minutes per side, until brown. After you flip the tofu, you can opt to pour in the reserved marinade and let it thicken a bit into a sauce, but this isn't necessary, the tofu will be plenty tasty on its own.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Pizza from Pauline's

pizza from Pauline's, originally uploaded by mysterybridgers.

Pauline's Pizza is one of the best pizza places in the city. They have a garden in Berkeley and another near the Sierras were they grow their herbs, fruit and veggies, so the toppings always taste great and their crust is nice and tender. Here we have a summer squash and herb pizza with some kind of tasty smelly cheese but I can't remember what kind. We always order light cheese when we order pizza, but Pauline's is the only place that consistently gets the meaning of the word "light."

Pauline's also has a killer house red wine and makes great salads! Plus their signature vegetarian pesto pizza is fantastic and is what we usually get, but we wanted to branch out--we did not regret it. This pizza was delicious.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Smoothie and Bagels

Smoothie and Bagels, originally uploaded by mysterybridgers.

We discovered House of Bagels in the Richmond just as every grocery store seemed to start carrying their bagels. They make very good bagels. Here we have an onion poppy seed bagel with light cream cheese (mixed with a little onion powder), english cucumber, and of course those little orange cherry tomatoes. We needed to find the bagels to go with a big tub of cream cheese that we ended up with after helping a friend move. We also ended up with a large jug of apple juice, so a smoothie also seemed in order.

Yummy Berry Smoothie:

2-3 cups apple juice
half cup strawberries
half cup raspberries
1 banana
1 scoop vanilla protein powder (we used Spirutein)
half cup non-fat yogurt
1 tablespoon bee pollen

Blend all ingredients in a blender until smooth.

We almost lost a large amount of this smoothie through the bottom of the blender because it started to leak. Our blender sucks. We have suspected as much for about 5 or 6 years. We saved up for a nice kitchen aid blender that many years ago and immediately regretted it. The jar is too wide, there are always some little chunks that don't get blended, it is impossible to pour stuff out of it (we bought ours before kitchen aid decided to change the design of the top to make it easier to pour), and now it randomly leaks at the bottom. Note to self, don't buy another kitchen aid blender. However, it still works so we are not going to buy a new one until this one craps out. The motor seems pretty good, so that may not happen for years.

Monday, July 7, 2008


tomatoes and cilantro, originally uploaded by mysterybridgers.

No, this is not a picture of tostadas, but these tomatoes ended up in some tostadas. We were so hungry on the day the tostadas were made that no pictures were taken.

The recipe is from A Year in a Vegetarian Kitchen by Jack Bishop and contained tomatoes mixed with cilantro, a little olive oil and salt (pictured above), spinach cooked with garlic, and goat cheese. Then these ingredients were strategically placed on 4 tortillas and baked until the tortillas were crispy. The tostadas were very good, but they do make for a light supper so it would have been nice to have a salad or something of that nature along with them.

You will be seeing more of these orange cherry tomatoes. They are so good this year and we have been getting them every time we get groceries. Lately we have had the choice of red, orange, or yellow cherry tomatoes, but the orange ones seem to be the most balanced in flavor--not too acidic and very flavorful.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Rhubarb Compote

rhubarb compote, originally uploaded by mysterybridgers.

The Dessert Bible so far is turning out to be a winner. I had two large stalks of rhubarb (about 1/2 pound) and just a few leftover strawberries and the rhubarb compote recipe was the perfect use for these. This recipe is so simple--basically chop up the fruit, add a little sugar, lemon juice, and although the recipe didn't call for it, I added some cinnamon. Then this is cooked in a pot for about 10 minutes and it is done. Almost instant gratification. Here the compote is shown served with a spoon of non-fat yogurt, but we also had it on some frozen yogurt and some store bought shortcakes. The compote was a little sour because I used more lemon juice than the recipe called for and reduced the sugar a little bit, but it was still really tasty. I am a convert to rhubarb for sure.