Sunday, December 30, 2007

Wheeler Greens (and other New Year's resolutions)

Will you be making a New Year's resolution to cook more, eat out less and/or eat more kale? Here are a few ways to bulk up your kitchen arsenal and help you avoid the mid-week take-out trap, plus our favorite way to cram more kale into our diet.

Freeze cooked grains!
We've discussed this before, but it's enough of a lifesaver that we'll risk being repetitive: brown rice and quinoa (and, apparently, millet) freeze beautifully. Once you've cooked your grains, just cool to room temperature and seal in plastic bags or tupperware in 1-cup portions. Retrieve when you're starving, transfer to a bowl and nuke 'em for 2-3 minutes while you stir-fry some kale.

Freeze other stuff you use a lot! Pesto in ice cube trays! Mass-caramelized onions! Your favorite soup! Anything else you want to be able to pull out of your back pocket at the end of an arduous day! If you're in the middle of a butternut squash avalanche (and hey, this time of year, who isn't?), try making and freezing this pie.

Make vegetable stock with your trimmings!
If you eat and chop a lot of veggies, you'll probably have accumulated enough carrot tops, onion skins and parsley stems by the end of the week to make vegetable stock. Homemade stock is cheaper--you were just going to throw that stuff out, anyway!--and more delicious than powdered boullion cubes and freezes very conveniently (a yogurt container's worth tends to be just the right amount for a soup that serves 4).

To make your own stock, save whatever trimmings you accumulate in a container in your fridge. (Try garlic and onion skins, carrot/parsnip/sweet potato peels, celery bottoms and leaves, stems from fresh herbs, leek and scallion tops, mushroom stems--anything except potato skins, broccoli, kale, spinach or cabbage trimmings, since they won't taste good in stock. If you eat meat, save chicken or turkey bones and throw them in too). When you have a little time at home, cover the trimmings and a handful of whole peppercorns with water in a large stock pot, bring to a boil, and simmer for about 45 minutes. Strain, salt to taste, and cool to room temperature. Freeze in whatever portions are convenient for you and your amount of freezer space. In addition to being a soup base, this stock can be used instead of water to cook rice, quinoa or other grains.

Bow down to sprouts! We try to always have a container of sprouts handy so we can throw them into salads and stir-fries for quick protein without all the fuss and time-sucking of soaking dried beans. We love making lentil sprouts, but you can sprout whatever suits your fancy OR you can also find mung bean sprouts in almost any grocery store in the produce aisle.

Realistically menu plan!
Taqueria dependence is usually the result of (a) not having anything else planned or (b) having something elaborate and unrealistic planned. As veterans of cooperative living, we've been menu-planning for years (indeed, this blog is the result of wanting to just archive our menu ideas somewhere safe and fireproof!), but sometimes even having something planned and having all your ingredients handy isn't enough to ward off the desire to throw up our hands and succumb to the prepared section at Whole Foods. We've noticed that this generally happens to us on Wednesdays, when whatever labor-intensive dish we gleefully planned on Saturday suddenly seems like an insurmountable struggle of chopping, roasting and otherwise not getting dinner for an hour. So get in touch with your burn-out schedule and plan accordingly: we've started either making a double batch of whatever we have on Sunday and eating the leftovers on Wednesday, or having Wednesday dinner be chilaquiles, miso soup, Wheeler greens (below) and defrosted quinoa, or something else that can come together quickly.

Wheeler Greens!
About a year and a half ago, we went to visit our friend Little Phoebe (both smaller and younger than the original) and when lunch time rolled around, her roommate, Wheeler, went out into their garden, picked some dark leafy greens, and made us a simple, delicious lunch: swiss chard, sugar-snap peas and sunflower seeds over brown rice with fried tofu. We make a variation with winter ingredients as well. The beauty of Wheeler greens is that, so long as you have some cooked rice or quinoa on hand, you can make a satisfying meal with complete protein and lots of calcium without breaking a sweat.

2 teaspoons canola oil (or other high-heat oil)
7 large leaves of dark leafy greens (swiss chard in summer, kale in winter, or anything in season)
1-3 large cloves garlic
1/4 cup sunflower seeds (summer) or chopped walnuts (winter)
1/4 cup fresh sugar snap peas (summer)
or 1/4 cup sprouted lentils or bean sprouts (winter)
1 1/2 cups cooked brown rice or quinoa

The Preparation
Before you start chopping your veggies, put a few cups of water in the teapot to boil. Smash unpeeled cloves of garlic with the bottom of a jar or crush them under your knife with enough force to bruise, but not destroy them. Remove the skin and chop each clove into a few large pieces. (It sounds picky, but big bruised hunks are the key to making your stir-fried garlic taste fresh, not stinky.) Chop the peas in half (or thirds, if they're mutantly huge sugar snap peas) and slice the greens finely. Put your sliced greens into a colander in the sink and pour the boiling water over, steaming the greens ever-so-gently. (This will get rid of the bitterness in kale or collard greens).

Heat the canola oil in a wok over medium high heat. First add the garlic and stir a few times. Next, add your sugar-snap peas. When they are just getting warm (Wheeler greens are served al dente) add the seeds, nuts, sprouts, salt and greens. Stir until the kale is wilted, then serve over rice. Voila, complete meal for two in 15 minutes or less.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Buttery Rutabagas with Browned Onions and Kale

Rutabagas, like brussels sprouts, are an often-mistreated winter vegetable with a lot of untapped potential--and, also like brussels sprouts, they play better with fat than with water. Tonight, one option: tiny cubes of rutabaga browned in butter with some fried onions and righteoused-out with ribbons of dark kale. Rutabagas respond well to smoky flavors and are frequently paired with bacon--our smoky flavor comes from smoked Spanish paprika. It's probably delicious with a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese.

This dish cooks up pretty quickly because we chopped the rutabaga into 1/2-inch dice. But we can do this without much effort with our french fry cutter, and if you don't have the time, desire or gadgets to wrangle a rutabaga into uniform tiny pieces, you can chop into larger cubes and just cook longer (you may need extra butter, or some water or stock). Make sure to peel the rutabaga well--the skin is pretty thick and sometimes waxed (yuck!).

2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 an onion, sliced into thin half-moons
3 cloves garlic, peeled
1 large rutabaga, diced into 1/2 inch cubes
1 tablespoon smoked Spanish paprika
10 leaves kale (we used dinosaur kale, but any kind is OK), sliced into thin ribbons

Melt half the butter and oil in a large skillet or frying pan on medium-high heat. When butter has melted, add onions and whole garlic cloves and cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes until onions are starting to brown, like this:

Add the rest of the butter and oil, rutabaga cubes, salt, pepper, and paprika to the skillet and stir well. Turn the heat down to medium, cover tightly and cook for about 10 more minutes, stirring occasionally, until rutabagas are tender (it will take longer if your chunks are large). Uncover, add kale, and stir quickly for 1-2 minutes until kale is wilted. Adjust salt and pepper as desired. Eat.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Sierra's Raw Kale Smoothie

*Note to you Bloglines subscribers: we're reposting this recipe to enter into Ingrid's Green Leafy Recipe Contest in hopes of scoring a free juicer!*

Our niece Sierra is only one year old and she already hearts kale, especially in the form of this smoothie recipe from her mama. But this green concoction isn't just for babies--it's a great morning pick-me-up or post-workout snack for fully grown people, too.

Apple juice, peach and banana are sweet enough to balance out the bitterness of raw kale--you should try to get a sweet purple or red kale (like Red Russian or karinata). The original recipe made enough for a hungry baby, so we scaled this up to feed a grown-up. If you're making this for a baby, use 4 ounces apple juice, 2 slices peach, 1.5 leaves raw kale and 2 tablespoons of banana.

6 ounces apple juice
4 slices fresh or frozen peach
2 large leaves raw kale, stems removed and chopped finely
1 ripe banana, sliced

Blend. Drink. Eat some solid food afterwards if you're ready for that kind of thing.

Thursday, December 13, 2007


Something I noticed the last time I visited my grandma is that instead of frying up an individual batch of onions every time she makes mjeddra, she fries onions in mass quantities, freezes them in mjeddra-sized portions, and then defrosts them in the oven while the mjeddra is cooking. I like my mjeddra onions super-crispy and I doubt they'd work frozen and defrosted, but we decided to borrow Grandma's technique for something we would love to have on hand: caramelized onions, which are a great addition when you want a rich flavor, but can take forever. So on Sunday night, we sliced up and caramelized five onions and have been chipping away at them for quick meals and snacks, which is how we came up with this cebolladilla--like a quesadilla, but with onions instead of cheese! The decadence of the onions and the smokiness of the chipotle really make this a winning appetizer or mid-evening nibble. It would also be delicious as a dip with corn chips or a spread on toast.

If you haven't caramelized five onions recently--and if anyone besides my grandma has, I'd love to hear about it--you can still make this and just caramelize the onions on the spot. But consider mass caramelization (particularly those of you with winter breaks approaching), since it will be a welcome shortcut later on.

To make (four) cebolladillas:

2 yellow onions (or about 1 cup of already-caramelized onions)
1 chipotle chile
1/2 cup pine nuts
1 teaspoon salt (more, to taste)
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
8 corn tortillas
olive oil for caramelizing
canola or peanut oil for frying

First, caramelize the onions if you haven't already. To caramelize, chop the onion into rings and cook in a sauce pan over low heat with a little olive oil. Stir occasionally until they are completely wilted and have turned brown. Depending on how many onions you're using, this could take anywhere from 1/2 an hour to an hour. When we made our master batch of five onions, we had to use our largest sauce pan to contain all the chopped onions. By the time they finished caramelizing, we had about 2 1/2 cups.

Place the chipotle chile in a small bowl and pour boiling water over it. Cover with a plate and let sit for 15-20 minutes to soften.

When chile is soft and onions are caramelized, combine the pine nuts, onions, chile, cayenne and salt in a food processor. Blend until you have a paste. Taste for salt and spice (if you're like us, you'll want more cayenne!).

Spread the paste on your corn tortillas to make sandwiches. Fry each cebolladilla over medium-high heat with a small amount of canola oil, a few minutes on each side or until the bottom is golden brown. That crispy corner of onion that sneaks out around the edge of the tortilla is the best part, so skip the Lactaid for once and chow down!

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Sweet-Hot Lemon Preserve

This is the third and final recipe from our spontaneous dinner party, but we had to wait a bit to post it because we wanted to make a new batch and take process pictures. Lemon chutney is a versatile addition to your fridge--it really perks up a simple meal of grains and kale, is outstanding dolloped on mjeddra, and a straight spoonful is helpful when you feel a yucky cold coming on. (No, that statement has not been evaluated by the FDA, and there hasn't been a randomized double-blind trial, but come on, it's tasty) Best of all, it lasts a really long time in the fridge, so you can whip this out three months from now when you need a little something extra for your dinner party.

The recipe below, adapted from Madhur Jaffrey's World Vegetarian, is for a 12-ounce jar. If you want to make mass quantities for gifts and/or disaster preparedness, we did this times five last night--no need to adjust proportions, just scale up (and practice multiplying fractions while you're at it).

2 large lemons
2 and 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 and 1/2 teaspoons cayenne (you can cut back for a milder chutney)
7 tablespoons honey

Wipe the lemons with a damp cloth and then dry them off. Cut into 1/8 inch-thick slices, then cut those slices into 1/8 inch-thick dice and remove the seeds.

Place the lemons in a large saucepan (stainless steel or enamel--cast iron isn't good for this kind of thing) with the salt, turmeric, cayenne and honey. Bring to a simmer and cook gently about 5-6 minutes. (Don't worry if it isn't chutney consistency yet--it'll get thicker as it cools, particularly once it's refrigerated).

Transfer mixture to a clean 12-ounce glass jar. Once it cools to room temperature, screw on the lid. Leave the chutney in a dark corner for 5 days before refrigerating. This will keep in the fridge for at least 3 months. You may notice the difference in color between the serving suggestion photo and the simmering in the pot photo. The chutney in the first picture was about 5 months old, and has had plenty of time to soften and mellow.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Scallion Latkes

Happy Chanukah, blogosphere! To celebrate the first night of the festival of lights, here is our latke recipe, with enough oil to light up your whole block. Some latke recipes use flour as a binder; ours uses the natural starch in the potatoes, so it's gluten-free. If you feel you need to add more binder, we suggest potato flour.

Because we'll be eating latkes a lot this week, it's important to mix it up and go beyond the traditional sour cream and applesauce topping options. We dolloped ours with guacamole and some Vicky Day's raspberry-red currant preserves (not in the same bite--our weird food combinations have limits). These preserves are made by our friend and guest blogger Honor's family with fruit grown on their farm in Vermont. So far I've only tried this flavor of preserves--the tart currants and the flavorful raspberries are delicious with latkes, atop a Camembert-slathered slice of bread, with peanut butter and plenty of other combinations I haven't yet tried (I want to make some rugelach before the jar runs out). Their preserves do have refined cane sugar, but they also make a blackcurrant maple syrup, with a sweet-tartness that I'm excited to try in a marinade or salad dressing.

And obviously, we served this with a side of brussels sprouts, stir-fried with Tokyo turnip tops...perhaps it's time to change our name to I Heart Brussels Sprouts.

The Essentials:

2 pounds Yukon Gold Potatoes, scrubbed but not peeled
1 onion
4-6 scallions, minced
2 eggs
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup potato flour (optional)
hella peanut oil (we stopped keeping track, but you should have at least 1 cup on hand)

More Stuff to Throw In:

a small bunch chopped cilantro, chives or parsley
3 cloves minced garlic
1 tablespoon smoked spanish paprika
3 dried red chiles, minced well or ground roughly

Grate your potatoes and onion and place them in a cloth towel and wring out as much liquid as you can -- catch the liquid in a bowl. Let the potato juice sit for a few minutes, then pour the liquid from the bowl, saving the potato starch that has collected in the bottom. Write your initials in it with a fork. Well done.

Mix the potato starch, potatoes and onions with the rest of the ingredients, except the oil. Heat a large cast-iron frying pan over medium-high heat with about two tablespoons of the oil. When the oil is hot (but never smoking) add spoonfuls of batter, pressing them flat with your spoon. When the bottom is crispy and brown, flip to the other side and fry until golden. Refresh the peanut oil as needed, usually before each new batch. (Don't even try to use olive oil or another low-heat but healthy-sounding alternative. You'll be sorry when the smoke alarm goes off.) Drain on brown paper bags or paper towels.

Serves about 5 moderately hungry people, if you don't eat them all before dinner.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Mushroom Quinoa with a side of Roasted Endive

There was a point when we first discovered quinoa that we were sending dinner guests home with a jar full of it. We've backed off (hey, do you think we're made of quinoa?), but we still love it just as much. For the quinoa virgins among you, it's amazing stuff: complete protein and more calcium than milk, packed into fluffy, quick-cooking morsels. It's gluten-free and, when that time of year rolls around, kosher for Passover!

One thing to keep in mind when you first start experimenting with quinoa is that has a bitter coating, so you should always rinse it well in a mesh strainer before you cook it. If you can find red quinoa, a mixture of red and white turns out beautifully. This mushroom quinoa recipe came from Madhur Jaffrey's World Vegetarian, one of my favorite cookbooks of all time--we've used more scallions and mushrooms than the original.

Last night when we made this recipe, we also found ourselves with half a head of Belgian endive, leftover from making the celery endive slaw from the November issue of Martha Stewart Living (and if you don't subscribe, don't judge). We both found raw endive too bitter, reminiscent of our one disastrous run-in with bitter melon, and Madhur Jaffrey came to the rescue AGAIN with the brilliant idea to give endive our the standard household vegetable treatment: douse in fat, roast in oven, sprinkle with salt. We've scaled down her recipe to use just half an endive. The white part took on a bok-choy-like juicy sweetness, and the purple leaves really diminished in bitterness (I liked them, but Phoebe still found them too strong). We rounded out the meal with some roasted brussels sprouts.

For the Quinoa

1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspooon whole brown or yellow mustard seeds
6 shiitake mushrooms, diced
1 inch ginger, finely minced
2 scallions, sliced (white and green parts)
1 cup white quinoa, or a mixture of red and white
2 cups vegetable stock or water
Salt to taste (you probably won't need it if you use stock)

To start, rinse the quinoa in a mesh strainer and let it drain while you do everything else.

Heat the oil in a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add mustard seeds, and when they begin to pop, throw in the diced mushrooms and ginger. Stir for one minute, add scallions, stir twice and turn heat to medium-low. Add quinoa and stir to coat with everything else, then pour in stock. Bring to a boil, then cover tightly, lower heat and simmer for 25-30 minutes, until water is absorbed and quinoa is fluffy.

For the Roasted Endive

Half a Belgian endive
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon butter (or more olive oil)

Preheat the oven to 350. Trim the very bottom of the endive head, making sure to leave enough to hold the leaves together.

Warm the oil in a small cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, add the halved endive, face-down, and cook 2-3 minutes, until browned, then flip and brown the other side. Remove from heat, sprinkle with salt and pepper, dot with the butter and cover with a tight-fitting lid or some aluminum foil. Transfer the skillet to your preheated oven and bake for 15-20 minutes until tender.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Avocado, Scallion and Kale Rice Bowl: Yo Soy Barato

Look, we love Cafe Gratitude as much as the next kale enthusiasts, but sometimes we want a nourishing grain bowl without having to pay $9 and tell our server what we do to create abundance in our lives. (Our rule of thumb is that no matter what the question of the day at Cafe Gratitude is, my answer is "breast-feeding"). So for those nights, we created this version of the Yo Soy Mucho bowl at Cafe Gratitude...for way cheaper/mas barato. If you have cooked rice already, you can just heat it up and add in the fixins--try freezing cooked rice in 1-cup portions to use as emergency food when you don't want to cook!

We Are Swimming Together in a Sea of Way-Cheap Sisterhood

1 cup brown rice
2 and 1/4 cups water
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 teaspoon olive oil
3-4 leaves kale, sliced into very fine ribbons
1 avocado, diced, or a batch of guacamole
2 scallions, white and green parts, sliced
a handful of sunflower seeds (tamari-roasted if you're lucky enough to have them lying around, raw if you want to stay true to the Cafe Gratitude shtick)
1/2 cup sprouts (optional)
salsa or chopped fresh tomatoes (optional)

...while breast-feeding for social justice

Rinse the brown rice in a fine mesh strainer. In a medium saucepan, combine water, salt and olive oil and bring to a boil. Add rice, return to a boil, then lower heat, cover and simmer 40-45 minutes, until all water is absorbed.

Divide kale into serving bowls, and cover with a scoop of rice. Stir with a fork--if you've sliced the kale thinly enough, this should steam it lightly. Top with avocado chunks or guacamole, scallions, sprouts and sunflower seeds. You can also add some salsa if you want it, or chopped fresh tomatoes when they're in season.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Brussels Sprout and Green Bean Bhaji

Spontaneous dinner for hippies, part two: this recipe is a twist on one of our favorites from The Ayurvedic Cookbook, green bean bhaji. We've added brussels sprouts because we're obsessed with them and they really add the complexity to elevate this weeknight bhaji to company-worthiness. This bhaji is an especially good option because if you serve green beans over brown rice, you're all set for protein--no bean-soaking, no tofu-marinating. It's tasty and very spicy; if you want less heat, you can remove the seeds from the chile, or, for the severely spice-phobic, maybe even use only half a chile.

Brussels Sprout and Green Bean Bhaji

2 cups fresh green beans or Blue Lake beans, ends trimmed, cut into 1 and 1/2 inch pieces
20 brussels sprouts, quartered
2 tablespoons peanut or sunflower oil
1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
1/4 teaspoon asafetida
1 teaspoon turmeric
3 tablespoons water
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 and 1/2 inches ginger root, finely minced (whip out your microplane if you have one)
1 jalapeno or serrano chile, minced finely
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 cup desiccated coconut

Heat the oil over high heat in a large frying pan or wok. Add mustard seeds; when they start popping, add asafetida and turmeric. Stir quickly, then toss in green beans and brussels sprouts and mix to coat with spices and oil. Saute until beans are just tender and brussels are starting to brown, about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, combine water, salt, ginger, chile, cilantro and coconut in a food processor and pulse until you have a paste. Add to the vegetables and mix well, then saute for a minute or two. Serve with some rice or yogurt to soak up the heat.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Whole Fingerling Potatoes in a Tamarind-Tomato Gravy

This weekend, four of our hardy bike-travelling friends came over for an impromptu dinner. What to feed these ravenous gardening folk with sensitive dietary needs (vegetarian, gluten-free, no corn and no refined sugar)? We settled on a spicy brussel sprout-green bean bhaji, whole fingerling potatoes in a tamarind-tomato gravy and a sweet-hot lemon preserve, all over a brown rice-red quinoa pilaf. We'll give you all the recipes over the next few days; to start with, today's post is about the fingerling potatoes.

We also wanted to make a special dessert that gluten-free folks can't usually enjoy -- dark chocolate brownies tarted up with ganache and peanut butter to look like gooey petit-fours. But how to make brownies without flour, sugar, or glutenous substitutes like malted barley? We're not going to tell you yet, because this batch was a B- at best. The chocolate flavor was strong, but the texture called to mind garbanzo beans and potatoes, which is exactly what gluten-free flour is made of. Not quite bloggable, but we haven't given up yet.

Hey, at least it looks cute.

Dinner for Six, Part One:
Whole Fingerling Potatoes in a Tamarind-Tomato Gravy

2 1/2 pounds of tiny potatoes (1-2 inches in length)
1 onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped roughly
2 tomatoes, chopped roughly
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon tamarind paste
juice of 1/2 a lemon
1 tablespoon ground fenugreek (you can roast it whole and grind it yourself in a coffee grinder if you have whole fenugreek seeds around--they make wonderful sprouts as well!)
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
1 tablespoon butter or canola oil
1 cup water
Salt to taste

Heat about 8 cups of water (enough to cover your potatoes) in a large pot. Add the potatoes once the water begins to boil and cook until they are just barely tender (they'll cook more later). Drain and set aside.

Blend the tomatoes, tomato paste, lemon juice, cayenne, turmeric, fenugreek and tamarind together in a food processor.

Heat the butter in a large pan on medium heat until melted, then add mustard seeds. When the mustard seeds begin to pop, add the onion and garlic. Cook the onion for 5 minutes until starting to soften, then add the tomato mixture. Allow the tomato mixture to simmer for a few moments before adding the potatoes. Stir the potatoes to coat well, then add a cup of water. Turn the heat to low and allow the potatoes to simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the tomato mixture has cooked down to a saucy consistency.  Add salt to taste (which might be none, depending on how salty your tomato paste is).

Note #1: If you want to make a brown rice-red quinoa pilaf, rinse 1 and 1/2 cups brown rice and 1/2 cup red quinoa in a strainer.  Boil 4 and 1/4 cups water, add rice and quinoa, and simmer about 45 minutes until liquid is absorbed.

Note #2: If you're feeling decadent, one of our dinner guests opined that these potatoes would be even more delicious if they were roasted in olive oil instead of boiled.  Next time!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Guest Blog: Beta Carotene Curry

****iheartkale note: In the spirit of Thanksgiving, our old co-op buddies Honor and Sarah have offered a guest post-enjoy!****

The first time I lived alone in Manhattan I bought onions. I diced five of them before I realized that I no longer lived with Hannah. It took a while to get out of the habit of cooking in bulk, and I thought I was alone with this problem of overcooking, until I mentioned it to Sarah. When Sarah lived in Germany she was only cooking for herself. Every night, she asked her roommate what she was having for dinner (usually canned peas) and incorporated that into her meal, just so she should cook for someone other than herself. We both have made scrambled tofu for our carnivorous parents. We both have a strong association with the smell of ground cumin and tonight we're reliving our past as cooking partners in Somerville, MA.

Now we're both together in Somerville and Sarah has acquired a large canvas bag of root vegetables and is slowly converting them into vegetable soup, all the way pressing things under my nose to inhale -freshly minced ginger, ground nutmeg, freshly cut squash, C. Moore's Northampton honey, chamomile & mint tea and most recently, curry powder (don't breathe in too deeply). Now that she's headed home tomorrow for Thanksgiving, she's decided to convert this pile of orange veg into...... Beta Carotene Curry.

The recipe is as follows:

2 onions
5 cloves of minced garlic
6 sweet potatoes in a 1/2" dice
1 5lb bag of carrots
1 butternut squash
1.5 tablespoons of minced garlic
4 bay leaves
Curry Powder

Cover the bottom of the pan with generous drizzlings of olive oil and add the onions, garlic, ginger, salt and pepper and heat on low until the onions are glassy. Then, add the chopped carrots first, then the sweet potato and squash (anything Orange!) and cover with your
favorite stock and bring to a boil. Now add your spices and wait until the vegetables are soft and blendable (don't forget to take out those pesky bay leaves!). Blend with the stick blender and enjoy with good company and possibly a dollop of plain yogurt or sour cream...

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Conquering Mount Brussels

If the phrase "brussels sprouts" triggers your gag reflex, you're probably remembering freezer-burned, over-boiled mush-balls. Fresh brussels, cooked properly, are so delicious that they get munched up before they even make it to the dinner table. We've included two great introductions to brussels sprouts -- a light stir-fry and a greasy, crispy roast.

We like to buy a whole stalk of sprouts and enjoy the street cred it earns us on the way home from the Berkeley Bowl. You can also buy your brussels loose -- look for green, perky

Stir-Fried Brussels Sprouts and Greens with Walnuts

2 teaspoons olive oil
8-10 fresh brussels sprouts, quartered lengthwise
1/2 cup walnuts, roughly chopped
2 cups packed, chopped kale
Salt to taste

Heat olive oil in a wok or large skillet over medium-high heat. Add in brussels sprouts and walnuts, stirring 3-5 minutes, until sprouts begin to be tinged with brown. Toss in kale and saute until wilted. Season to taste with salt.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Ginger-Lime Sweet Potatoes

25-30 Brussels sprouts
Olive oil
2 large Garnet or Jewel sweet potatoes
2 tablespoons butter
1-inch hunk of ginger, peeled and very finely chopped (this is a great time to whip out a microplane if you have one)
zest and juice of 1/2 a lime

Preheat oven to 375. Cut an "X" across the tops of the brussels sprouts as shown above, then transfer to a cookie sheet, toss with olive oil and salt, and roast until browned, about 40-45 minutes.

Meanwhile, peel and dice the sweet potatoes into 1-inch cubes. Bring a large pot of water to boil, add sweet potatoes, and boil until soft. Drain, transfer to a large bowl and mash with butter, ginger, lime juice and lime zest.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Cranberry-Persimmon Crisp with Filbert Streusel

Two fruit happenings inspired this crisp: we both came home from the office with free persimmons from co-workers' trees, and we found last year's bag of cranberries in the freezer while cleaning it out in anticipation of Thanksgiving. Phoebe came up with this dessert to combine the two, and the sweetness of ripe persimmons plays beautifully off the tart cranberries.

A note about the topping: we found a jar of ground-up filberts left over from an attempt at Passover-friendly cookies (again:we were cleaning house), but if your pantry is a little less bizarre than ours, you could just grind some almonds in a food processor until they turn into almond meal. Or just buy the almond meal ready-made at Trader Joe's.

4 ripe Fuyu persimmons, diced
1/2 cup cranberries, fresh or frozen
2 tablespoons agave nectar or maple syrup
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup filbert meal or other finely-ground nuts
1/4 cup walnuts, roughly chopped
4 tablespoons butter or Earth Balance, melted
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
a pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 375. Grease a round cake pan and add the fruit, then drizzle with 1 tablespoon of the agave or maple syrup. In a medium-sized bowl, combine oats, filbert meal, chopped walnuts, melted butter or Earth Balance, the remaining tablespoon of agave or maple syrup, cinnamon, vanilla and salt. Sprinkle topping over the fruit, cover pan with foil, and bake for 45 minutes. Uncover and bake for 5 more minutes, until topping is browned.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Shiitake-Buckwheat Breakfast Pilaf

Mushroom-barley soup is great for breakfast on cold mornings, but sometimes soup is more of a sit-down meal than I can swing before 7 a.m.--I need something that can be gobbled down quickly if I'm running late. Enter this liquid-less, savory mixture, which is essentially kasha varnishkes without the bowtie pasta. I made a big batch tonight and will be gleefully chipping away at it all week.

Roasted buckwheat, or kasha, is actually both wheat-free and gluten-free. Kasha is usually found in the "international" aisle (ha!) with the kosher food; you can usually locate a box of Wolff's kasha adjacent to those disturbing jars of jelly-coated gefilte fish, but Bob's Red Mill apparently caught wind of the hippie kasha market and has started selling it alongside their other grains and flours. This particular batch was made with whole kasha; some packaged kasha is fine-grain, in which case the proportions are the same but it will need less simmering time, probably about 3-5 minutes.

Go Ahead, Hum the Morning Edition Theme Music

2 tablespoons butter, Earth Balance or olive oil
10 shiitake mushrooms, sliced
2 cups water (or vegetable stock, if you have some)
1 cup kasha
1 egg, slightly beaten
Bragg's or tamari, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper

And I'm Renee Montagne

Heat butter, oil or Earth Balance on high in a saucepan. Add mushrooms and stir frequently, until browned. Pour in water or stock and bring to a boil.

While you're waiting for the liquid to boil, combine kasha with egg, stirring to coat all the kernels. In a heavy cast-iron skillet, toast the egg-coated kasha over high heat for 2-3 minutes, until kernels are separated. Pour in liquid and mushrooms, cover tightly and simmer for 10 minutes, until liquid is absorbed. Season with Bragg's or tamari and pepper to taste.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Pumpkin Pie with Honey-Caramelized Walnuts

I've been traveling for the last week and a half, and on my flight home (yay JetBlue!) I watched 6 straight hours of the Food Network, all Thanksgiving-themed, which really got me in the mood for pumpkin pie. Our moist version combines traditional elements with cardamom and coconut milk, and the honey-caramelized walnuts add a delicious textural contrast. (The plan was to have them cover the top, but we ate a few while the pie was baking and...well, you can see how that ended).

Way Less Annoying Than Rachael Ray

1 9-inch pie crust (we had a spelt one in the freezer and used that, but if you have time to make your own, go crazy)
1 15-ounce can pumpkin
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup agave nectar
1/2 cup coconut milk
a pinch each of ground cloves, nutmeg and allspice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cardamom
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3 tablespoons honey mixed with 2 teaspoons water
1 tablespoon butter or Earth Balance
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped roughly

And Almost As Hot As Giada DeLaurentiis

Preheat oven to 375. In a large bowl, stir together pumpkin, eggs, agave, coconut milk, salt and spices. Pour into the crust and bake for 10 minutes, then turn the oven down to 350. Once the pie has been in for 50 minutes total, start the caramel!

To make caramel, microwave the honey-water mixture in one-minute increments, stopping between increments to check if it's the right consistency yet. To check the consistency, drop a little of the mixture into a glass of cold water--when it forms a soft ball, it's caramel. (This usually takes around five minutes in the microwave.) Add the butter, stir quickly and add to walnuts, stirring to coat.

Sprinkle caramelized walnuts on top of the pie and bake for 10-15 more minutes, until the pie center stays firm when you gently jiggle the pan from side to side. (Total cooking time - about 1 hour 10 minutes) Allow the pie to cool to room temperature, which will give it time to firm up. Eat alone or with your creamy frozen treat of choice.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Brown Rice-Coconut Soup with Caramelized Banana Topping

This comforting soup, another one of our riffs on a Mangoes and Curry Leaves recipe, is like a gingery cream of rice that you can eat for dinner. The first time we made it, we actually had to run a batch over to our friend Aryn, because it was too delicious not to share. In addition to being a good way to use up leftover rice, this dish is a really great thing to come home to after a day that was stressful, rainy or both.

Bananas? For Dinner?

4 cups cooked brown rice (preferably short-grain, since it will blend more easily)
3 cups water
1 tablespoon salt
1 and 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 large cloves thinly sliced garlic
2 inches very thinly sliced ginger
2 shallots, thinly sliced
1 serrano chile, minced
1 can coconut milk
1 tablespoon dry sweetener or 2 teaspoons agave nectar
2 tablespoon canola oil plus 1 tablespoon butter
3-4 bananas (a little under-ripe if possible), sliced into rounds
extra salt, as needed

Anything Is Dinner Around Here If You Add Chiles

Put cooked rice in a blender with 3 cups water and 1 tablespoon salt and blend until broken down but not too smooth. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a saucepan and add garlic, ginger, chile and shallots. Fry for only 2 minutes -- you want it to stay crispy. Pour in the rice mixture and coconut milk, add sweetener, and cook until heated through and totally delicious, 5 or so minutes.

(If you are a banana-hater--hi Lauren!--you can stop here. But if you have even a glimmer of openness to bananas, please give it a try).

Now for the exciting part: banana topping! Heat 1 tablespoon canola oil plus butter in a cast-iron skillet and gently add in bananas. Cook on medium-high for 2-3 minutes on one side, then flip slices over and fry until well browned. The key here is not to stir--you don't want the bananas to turn to mush.

Taste the soup and add more salt if you need it. Ladle into bowls and top with the bananas.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Potatoes (H)anna(h)

Who doesn't love a pound of butter with a potato or two thrown in? Our only objection to potatoes Anna is that it takes so long to make. So this is our quicker and dirtier version: no potato soaking, no gentle blotting with towels, no painstaking scalloping. They still need an hour in the oven, but at least you didn't have to spend another hour on prep. Make sure to use a waxy boiling potato (as opposed to a floury Idaho baking potato).

Sure, I'm Down For Some Butter

4 large or 6 medium waxy potatoes (we used 6 Russian banana fingerlings)
6 tablespoons salted butter
Freshly ground black pepper

Wait, Did You Say 6 Tablespoons of Butter?

Slice the potatoes very thinly, about 1/8 inch if you can (we don't have a mandoline, but if you do, this is why God created mandolines). Place the potatoes in a large bowl, melt the butter, and toss the potatoes with the butter to coat. Grind in some black pepper and transfer the potatoes to a cast-iron skillet or heavy baking dish. Cover tightly with foil and bake on 375 for 30 minutes, then remove foil and bake for about 30 more minutes, until potatoes are browned and starting to crisp at the edges.

Serving suggestion: We served these with steamed pea shoots. Phoebe usually eats her leftovers (if there are any) over brown rice with Andhra tomato paste, a spicy Indian condiment you can find in Indian groceries (East Bay folks, you can get yourself a jar at Bombay Spice House). If you're feeling adventurous or if you don't live in an Indian grocery Nirvana like Berkeley, try making your own.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Basil-Flecked Potato Soup with Celery Leaves

This was just going to be a potato-leek soup, but some surprise basil and celery leaves from my sister's garden ended up in the mix, yielding a smooth green potage with an unexpected flavor. The soup is deepened by making a stock from the trimmings while you work--and really, is there anything more satisfying than making stock out of vegetable trimmings before you throw them in the compost, having fully used them up?

4 medium Yukon Gold potatoes
1 carrot
3 leeks
1/2 cup packed chopped basil
1/3 cup packed chopped celery leaves
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon smoked Spanish paprika
1 teaspoon salt
Juice of 1/2 a lemon

Cover trimmings (carrot top, green part of leeks, celery leaf stems, basil stems, and any other scraps you generate) with water in a medium-sized saucepan, bring to a boil, and simmer while you dice the white part of the leeks, the carrot and the potatoes.

Heat the olive oil in a large stock pot. Add leeks and stir occasionally for about 5 minutes, then add in the carrot, potatoes, salt and paprika and stir over medium heat for about five minutes. Strain in enough stock to cover the vegetables, add the celery leaves and bring to a boil, then cover and simmer about 20-30 minutes, until potatoes are soft.

When the potatoes are tender, turn off heat and transfer soup to a blender. Add the basil and celery leaves and blend until smooth, adding more stock if the soup is too thick. Season with pepper to taste, adjust salt if necessary, and finish with lemon juice.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Sweet Potato and Caramelized Onion Tamales with Avocado-Cilantro Sauce

These tamales are a great addition to your Thanksgiving table--we made them last year with a cranberry salsa! The avocado-cilantro sauce used in this recipe is our attempt to recreate the avocado salsa that comes with tamales and taquitos at the Flacos stand at the Berkeley Farmers Market.

This post is tagged "projects" not because you'll be preserving anything for the winter--you'll be lucky if you end up with leftovers--but because the recipe takes a long time, so make these on a day when you feel like puttering around at home.

Go Ahead, Block Out a Whole Afternoon

About 25 dried corn husks (depending on how big they are)
1 large sweet potato
1 onion, sliced into rings
1/2 cup plus two tablespoons unsalted butter (OR Earth Balance shortening), softened
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
3-4 cups masa harina
1-2 cups water
1 ripe avocado
1/2 cup packed chopped cilantro
1 serrano chile, minced (leave the seeds in if you like it spicy)
juice of 1 lime
1 tablespoon water
2 teaspoons olive oil

And Call Up Your Grandma While You're Waiting

First, three prep steps, to do about an hour before you make the tamales:
  1. Soak the corn husks in plenty of boiling water while you do everything else.
  2. Prick the sweet potato and bake on 400 until soft.
  3. Caramelize the onion: in a heavy-bottomed or cast-iron frying pan, heat 2 tsp olive oil on high heat, add the onions, and then turn down the heat as low as it will go. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until everything else is done and onions are browned, soft and delicious, like this:

When you're finished with the prep steps, go ahead and start the masa. Put the butter or shortening in your food processor and pulse about a minute, until fluffy. Add baking powder, salt, 1 cup of the masa and 1/2 cup of water and process. Keep adding cups of masa and half-cups of water until the mixture has a mashed potato-type consistency.

Speaking of mashed potatoes: when the sweet potato is done baking, peel and transfer to a bowl. Mash well and mix in the caramelized onions. Taste the mixture and add salt if desired.

Clear off some counter space and set out your soaked husks, filling and masa bowl. Oil your hands lightly, then pick up a golf-ball-sized hunk of masa, roll into a smooth ball, and make a depression in the middle with your finger and fill with a spoonful of filling:

Press the masa around the filling and seal. Take the resulting rectangular-ish chunk and lay on an opened corn husk. Fold edges of husk inwards, first vertically and then horizontally. Tie shut with string or a long strip of husk. Repeat until all masa is used up--this should make about 20 tamales.

Get a large stock pot and fill with about an inch of water. Place tamales in a steamer basket in the stock pot and steam for about 40-45 minutes. When these are done, the masa should be steamed to a firm consistency. When tamales are almost done, place the avocado, cilantro, chile, lime juice, water and olive oil in the food processor and blend until you have a saucy consistency. Salt to taste. Eat tamales with a drizzle of avocado-cilantro sauce.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Work Snacks: Muhammara with Pita Triangles

First things first: no, we don't take a chip-and-dip bowl to the office. We made this for work snacks last month, forgot to take a picture, and then whipped up a batch as a games-and-mezze snack last night, hence the non-lunch-box presentation. But picture this in a work snacks container--doesn't that look like the answer to your 3 pm slump?

Muhammara is a red pepper and walnut spread, tart with pomegranate molasses. You can reduce or even omit the garlic and chile depending on whether you have the kind of job that involves breathing on other people--it's delicious no matter what, since the main flavors are the smokiness of the roasted peppers and the je ne sais quoi of the pomegranate molasses. Pomegranate molasses is available in well-stocked grocery stores (it's next to the honey at the Berkeley Bowl for you East Bay folks) or Middle Eastern food stores. Once you have some in your fridge, you'll drizzle it on everything; it's delicious over yogurt and granola.

Also, no need to limit yourself to pita triangles--tortilla chips, zucchini rounds, carrot & celery sticks or crackers will work too. And if you're serving it at home, it's delicious with fried eggplant slices as an appetizer.

The Antidote to a 2-Hour Conference Call

2 red bell peppers (when you have access to gypsy or marconi peppers, by all means substitute those and use a few more)
1 and 1/2 cups walnut pieces
1 minced jalapeno or serrano chile (with seeds if you like heat, without if you don't)
2 cloves garlic, minced (optional)
3 tablespoons pomegranate molasses
juice of 1/2 a lemon
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt

Now, About That Toner Cartridge...

Roast peppers in the broiler, turning until blackened on all sides. When peppers are completely blackened, remove from broiler and place in a paper bag to steam for about 15 minutes. When the peppers have cooled down, peel off the charred skins, discard cores and seeds and chop roughly. Throw the peppers and everything else in the food processor and pulverize for a minute or so, until you have a thick paste. If you want it thicker, add more walnuts; if you want it thinner, drizzle in extra olive oil.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Spiced Persian Lime Brew

Bone-chilling rainy evenings have arrived in the Bay Area, and here's our latest defense. Dried Persian limes are a thrilling addition to your pantry and can be found in Middle Eastern grocery stores--they're hard as a rock, filled with delicious black pulp, and have a smokier and more complex flavor than fresh lime. Sure, you could buy the Numi Dry Desert Lime tea for an arm and a leg...or you could make this and let your DIY pride keep you warm at night.

Hasn't Anyone Ever Heard of Central Heating?

2 dried Persian limes
a 2-inch hunk of ginger, peeled and sliced in thirds
8 green cardamom pods
6 cups water
2-3 teaspoons honey or agave, to taste

If I Put On Any More Layers, I'll Be Wearing My Whole Closet

Position limes on a cutting board and smash with a jar or a hammer until they break open.

And while you're smashing things, whack the cardamom pods so they open just a little. Place lime halves, ginger, cardamom and water in a medium-sized saucepan. Bring to a boil, then simmer gently for about 20-30 minutes, until tea is dark and deeply flavored. Strain, sweeten & drink.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Buttery Soft Fried Eggplant with Smoky Tomato Sauce

You may notice that this post is tagged "work snacks" and wonder what kind of barn I was raised in. I'll tell you: one in which my dad and my grandma made meltingly tender fried eggplant spiced with paprika and served it cold or at room temperature. This is actually a common thing for Syrian Jews to serve at room temperature for Saturday lunch, so why not have it for Tuesday snack in a little Tupperware? Of course, it's also delicious over cooked grains for dinner (we chose a red quinoa-brown rice mix), with lemon wedges to cut the grease. We've moved the paprika from the eggplant to a seat-of-the-pants dipping sauce we created with our abundance of roasted tomatoes, but if you're not into big canning projects, we provide alternate instructions for roasting tomatoes while you do other stuff.

Forget Parmesan

1 large eggplant, sliced into 1/4-inch thick rounds
Peanut or canola oil for frying
7 roasted tomatoes (if you have them) or 7 medium fresh tomatoes
Olive oil for roasting tomatoes
1 chipotle chile
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon salt

Ratatouille is So Last Year

If you don't have roasted tomatoes, start here: roll the whole tomatoes in olive oil, sprinkle with salt, and bake on 300 for 1 and 1/2 to 2 hours.

In a small bowl, pour boiling water over the chipotle and cover with a plate while you do everything else.

Place eggplant slices in a large bowl and sprinkle with salt. Let sit for about 30 minutes--the salt will leach out all the bitterness and it will collect in a brown pool at the bottom of the bowl (and to think you usually eat that!). Pat the eggplant slices dry, which will make them fry up nicely.

Heat 2 inches of oil in a large frying pan. When a drop of water sizzles on contact with the oil, add the eggplant slices in a single layer (you'll need to do more than one batch). Fry for about 3 minutes, flip, and fry for 3 minutes on the other side. Remove finished slices to a paper-towel-lined plate.

When all eggplant slices are fried, remove the stem and seeds from the chipotle and drop in the food processor with tomatoes (recently roasted or from your fridge), paprika and salt. Process until smooth. Drizzle sauce over eggplant and serve with a lemon wedge.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Potato and Cauliflower Dum

This is our take on the cauliflower dum recipe in Mangoes and Curry Leaves, one of our favorite cookbooks. Dum is an Indian cooking technique where a pot is sealed with either dough (if you have time) or aluminum foil under the lid, which traps heat and deliciously steams whatever's inside. If you make a dough seal, you can dip pieces of baked dough into the dum! Conveniently for those of you who live in under-heated Bay Area apartments, this process will also essentially steam your house, so keep this in mind for chilly rainy-season weekends when you want to spend time at home without your teeth chattering.

Dum Da Dum Dum

3 tablespoons butter (or Earth Balance)
1/8 cup canola oil
1 cauliflower, broken into small florets
3 medium-sized Yukon Gold potatoes
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 2-inch hunk of ginger, peeled and pulverized
1 onion, grated
1 teaspoon ground cumin
12 curry leaves
3 cups diced tomatoes (canned OK too)
a pinch of garam masala
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon salt
2 green chiles, cut in half lengthwise
1 and 1/2 cups water

Optional dough: 1 and 1/2 cups flour (we used brown rice flour, but you can do this with whole wheat or whatever you have around)
1/2 cup lukewarm water

1/4 teaspoon salt

Oil for kneading

Dum Da Dum Dum Dum

Heat the butter and oil together in a large wok over medium heat. Add in cauliflower and potatoes and cook, turning, until they are starting to brown. Remove with tongs to a large casserole dish with a tight-fitting lid.

Without cleaning the wok, return to medium heat and add the onions, ginger and garlic. Saute 5-7 minutes, until onion is translucent. Shake in the cumin, stir for 30 seconds, and add in the curry leaves, tomatoes, garam masala, turmeric, salt and chiles. Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring. Add in the water, raise the heat, boil and simmer, uncovered, for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350 and make the optional dough seal. In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour with just enough lukewarm water to make a moist dough--half a cup should do it. Generously oil your hands and knead briefly, then divide into two halves. On a floured surface, roll the halves into ropes. Together, they should be long enough to wrap around the rim of your casserole dish.

When tomato mixture has simmered for about 10 minutes (it should be fragrant and thickened), stir into the casserole dish with the cauliflower. Cover tightly with aluminum foil (if you didn't make dough) before putting the cover on. If you did make dough, gently press along the sides of the casserole dish and then cover with the lid.

Bake for about 20 minutes. This will stay hot for a very long time if you don't break the (dough or aluminum foil) seal!

Monday, October 1, 2007

Pasta with Sorrel Chiffonade, Roasted Mushrooms and Scallions

If you have access to sorrel (ours came from my sister's garden), it's a refreshing change from other greens--it does turn a pretty uninspiring shade of army green when cooked, but the lemony flavor is really surprising, and pairs nicely with richer tastes like roasted mushrooms. If you don't have access to sorrel, most cookbooks I've seen suggest substituting spinach with a little lemon juice.

A few notes on this recipe: (1) we used whole wheat gnocchi, but you can use whatever cute chubby pasta you have around, like ziti or rotini, and (2) although this is delicious on its own, we topped it with a roasted tomato packed in olive oil, so if you made some, break open a jar (if you haven't made them, tomato season isn't quite over, and you'll thank yourself when you start throwing them in everything).

Um, This Looks Like a Weed

1 lb. pasta (gnocchi, ziti or rotelle)
1 lb. whatever mushrooms are on sale (we used white button, but this would be delicious if you want to splurge on something pricier)
1/4 cup olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced or put through a garlic press
Salt and pepper
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 large bunch sorrel, sliced into very thin ribbons
2 scallions, green and white parts, finely sliced

Are You Sure I Can Eat It?

Put pasta water on to boil in a large soup pot. Meanwhile, dice mushrooms and toss in a large casserole dish with the olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper. Broil for about 15 minutes, or until mushrooms are brown and giving off liquid.

By this time, the pasta water should be ready. Cook according to package directions, drain and return to the pot. Toss with 2 teaspoons olive oil and the mushrooms, then stir in the sorrel (when it's very finely sliced, like this chiffonade, it will steam on contact with the pasta, so you want to add it at the last minute). Top with scallions and a roasted tomato, if you have one.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Potato Tacos with Chipotle Tomato Sauce

We had a 24-hour taco stand across the street when we lived in San Diego, and whenever we feel too burned out to even think about dinner, going out for tacos is always the easiest option (although now we have to walk a whole two blocks. Life is rough). But this past Thursday, we felt just energetic enough to make our own damn tacos. Here's how to do it, for the next time you find yourself cursing up and down that you didn't move somewhere with a 24-hour taco stand across the street. Any leftover filling is great over rice for lunch the next day.

The Nearest Taqueria Is Still Too Far Away

1 dried chipotle chile
3 medium-sized tomatoes
1 onion: half minced, half thinly sliced into half moons
1/4 cup olive oil
3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon paprika (smoked Spanish paprika if you have it)
6 small yellow-fleshed potatoes (we used German Butterball)
2 tablespoons canola oil
4 corn tortillas
1/4 bunch cilantro, minced

How Do I Turn This Into Dinner?

Place the chipotle chile in a small bowl and pour boiling water over it. Cover with a plate and let it sit and soften while you do everything else.

Roughly chop tomatoes and combine in a baking dish with olive oil, garlic, oregano, paprika, salt, and pepper. Stir to coat, then broil for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until tomatoes start to blacken just a little. When the tomatoes are just beginning to show tinges of black, remove from broiler and transfer the mixture to the blender. Add the soaked chipotle and blend on high speed until you have a smooth sauce.

Dice potatoes and drop in boiling water for 5-10 minutes, until just tender. (You can do this while the tomatoes are broiling). When potatoes are barely tender, drain and saute in canola oil over medium-high heat for about 5-7 minutes, until they start to brown. Pour the sauce onto the potatoes and continue cooking for 2-3 minutes, stirring to coat, until sauce evaporates a bit.

Spoon filling onto tortillas and top with minced cilantro and finely sliced onion half moons.