Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Ice Cream Festival & More Love For San Remo

This past weekend was the first annual artesian ice cream festival in Rosario. Fitting for the Argentine city with the highest ice cream production per citizen -- there are around 70 ice cream factories for Rosarinos who consume between 8 and 9 liters annually. And perhaps more impressive is the quality of Rosario's ice cream, which is actually more like Italian gelato - with impressive creaminess and flavor.

And so, over 30 heladerías participated in the festival, which was postponed a week due to rain. You had to buy tickets for scoops - this year it was 5 pesos per scoop - and then you went around getting scoops from your favorite brands. It was super fun but it was also a 'get in and get out' kind of event. Thus, no photos.

This longest line was for Gelateria Italiana San Remo (the San Remo with locations on Buenos Aires and on Pte. Peron, which I blogged about here).

What's really impressive are their unconventional flavors like Tomato Jam swirl, Roquefort and an assortment of floral flavors. Since the line was so long at the festival, we went to their shop on Buenos Aires and brought home a kilo of gustos!

Clockwise from the center (12 o'clock): Dulce de leche granizado, Mascarpone with berries, Rose, Tomato jam swirl, Roquefort with walnuts. And there are plenty of other flavors left to try. San Remo is also cheaper than some of the larger chains. 

Monday, September 17, 2012

Pasta Frola (Quince Tart)

Another Argentine recipe? Who am I? I make recipes from home ... not from this place I have lived close to 4 years ... wait. Uh-oh. It occurs to me that, perhaps, maybe, this is my home. And I've come to appreciate the foods I frequently eat. Food that everyone here already loves, so I don't have to insist on them trying my weird foreign food. I'm not sure why I'm such a hold out it took me so long but, inspired by Katie's Argentine Recipe Contest, I gave in. I love pasta frola! I eat this a lot. I want more. Okay, there. I said it.

I did want to make Vivi's recipe with mascarpone, but 2 trips to the supermercado proved useless so I went without it.

Quince Tart (Pasta Frola)
Adapted from David Lebovitz

Note that David's recipe is for a 9 or 10 inch (24 cm) tart pan, though I used a 28 cm pan. I liked the ratio it left me with, but you'll notice less crust atop the tart, plus it was a bit of work to squish and spread the bottom dough out, but it was worth it and I'll do it again. I did use extra quince 'paste' (dulce de membrillo).

  • 1 1/2 cups (190g) flour
  • 1/2 cup (70 g) polenta (cornmeal)
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt (I used a little less of fine table salt)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 9 Tablespoons  (110 g) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (100 g) sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1/8 teaspoon almond extract
  • 2 cups (550-600g) quince paste (dulce de membrillo)
  • 2 Tablespoons port
  • 2 Tablespoons raw sugar
Whisk together flour, cornmeal, salt and baking powder - set aside. Beat together butter and sugar, mix in egg, yolk and extract. Slowly add dry ingredients, just until dough comes together. 

Measure out about 325 grams of the dough (about 3/4 of the dough). Pat it into a disk, wrap with plastic wrap and chill. Roll the remaining dough into a log 2-inches in diameter, wrap and chill.

Put quince paste into a bowl with port and mash with a potato masher. Add a splash of hot water if necessary to develop spreadable consistency.

Remove dough from refrigerator and let return to room temp slightly. With the heel of your hand, evenly press into the bottom and sides of an unbuttered removable bottom tart pan. Spread quince evenly over dough. 

Remove log of dough from refrigerator and slice into thin cookies, then lay over the jam. Sprinkle with raw sugar. Bake at 375 F (190 C) for 20-25 minutes, until golden brown. Let cool and serve at room temperature. This is even better the next day.

Make miniature Vigilantes (cheese topped with quince) with any unused membrillo!

Friday, August 24, 2012

Quinotos en Almíbar (Kumquats in Syrup)

I fell in love with quinotos last Christmas in Cordoba. Direct from the tree, they were tangy, sour and sweet in all the best ways. I picked up a kilo recently but I suppose they're out of season so they were a bit rough on the palate. So I decided to add a crapload of sugar to make them candied and syrupy.

For such a simple recipe, I found a variety of cooking techniques. All Argentine recipes required you to let the quinotos sit in salted water for 3 days or boil them with salt, then rinse. None of the recipes written in English mentioned this, but I figured that since I'm here I better not skip the step. Of course, I couldn't be bothered to wait 3 days.

I really wanted to candy them whole (because they're amazing that way) but these had too many too large seeds, so I had to halve the quinotos to remove the seeds (which was a huge pain and made me regret attempting such a sizeable batch). Note that if you do cook them whole, you'll need to poke small holes in them first.

The cooking times also varied widely between 10 minutes and 2 hours. I settled on 20 minutes, but could have removed the quinotos and continued cooking the syrup to make it thicker. Probably a good idea.

Candied Kumquats in Vanilla Syrup  
Inspired by Cooking Light

  • 750 grams kumquats, stems removed and washed
  • Big pinch rock salt
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1/2 vanilla bean (or a super small one like the only ones I can find now), scraped
  • 3 or 4 whole cloves
  • Pinch cinnamon

Boil kumquats in salted water for 8 minutes. Drain, immerse in a bowl of water and scrub lightly with your hands to remove salt. Drain again and rinse well.

Combine sugar and water in a pot and bring to a boil. Once sugar has dissolved, add kumquats, vanilla seeds, cloves and cinnamon. Drop heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes, or until tender and translucent. If thicker syrup is desired, remove the fruit but leave the syrup and continue to boil for another 10-15 minutes, or until it reaches desired consistency. Transfer quinotos and syrup to a large jar (or several small jars) and seal. If you know how to jar, you can let these sit for 2 weeks in the refrigerator to let the flavors develop. I refrigerated mine for only two days before serving.

Candied kumquats are delicious served over ice cream or pavlova (maybe make it pistachio).

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Advances in Graffiti!

Just about 6 months ago I was lamenting the lack of quality graffiti in Rosario. There were plenty of spray painted scribbles and an obscene amount of walls, poles and anything else that could be slapped with paint completely covered with the colors of the city's two rival football teams -- but not a lot of street art. But now, it's getting interesting...

Dorrego entre San Juan y Mendoza

Dorrego entre San Juan y Mendoza
3 de Febrero entre España y Italia

Parque España -- CEC

Moreno entre Cochabamba y Pasco

Boulevard Oroño entre Montevideo y Zeballos

...and I like it!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Crepes in Rosario!

So there's this block that I've mentioned before because of a spacious Starbucks and my favorite pizzeria. I want to move to this block because now it's also home to Rosario's first creperie, Manjula Crepes.

They've got a full menu of both savory and sweet crepes so you can have a full crepe meal! Of course, I'm partial to anything with Nutella. And they have waffles too!

Manjula has a casual atmosphere and you order at the counter, something that's actually quite unusual here. They also have a patio to the side with those outdoor heater things. And the patio is dog-friendly!

The creperie is named after the character (Apu's wife) on the Simpsons -- and the same owners also have a shawarma/falafel place called Apu's. How sweet...and savory!

Find Manjula at Tucuman 1216, along with all the rest of my favorite spots on the block. Just ignore that giant gym on the corner ;)

Monday, July 2, 2012

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chunk Blondies

Mostly, I make brownies. But after a recent conversation about peanut butter (and having found that several of my students hadn't tried it) I thought about making a peanut butter version of blondies, and I'm glad I did. It adds just a touch of something special to dress up blondies and make them worthy competition of their all-chocolate cousins. 

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chunk Blondies
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 1/3 cup (75g) butter, softened
  • 2/3 cup white sugar (I used a bit less)
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed (I did not pack it)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt (I used a pinch more because my peanut butter wasn't salted)
  • 1 cup (170 grams) semi-sweet chocolate chunks (I used a bit less)
The original recipe calls for a 9x9 inch baking pan, but I used an 8x12 pan and wouldn't go any smaller. 

Cream together peanut butter and butter, gradually blend in brown sugar, white sugar, eggs and vanilla; mix until fluffy. Combine flour, baking powder and salt and stir into the butter mixture until well blended (I went ahead and used the hand mixer for this since it's somewhat heavy). Fold in chocolate chunks. 

Bake at 375F/175C in a greased pan for 30-35 minutes, or until the top springs back when touched. (I actually cooked it for about 35-40 minutes, but the edges were not as gooey - still, I wanted to be sure the center was fully baked.) Cool and cut into small squares.

To comment on my changes: I used less sugar and it was still perfectly sweet enough. I added an extra pinch of salt (after tasting the batter) because the most common brand here (Sytari) is not salty like American peanut butter. And, yes, I cooked it longer than most recipes require.

I don't know why these are served in small squares, but my great-grandmother cut them the same way. I guess the idea is to make people happy but not fat. :) Portion control. Unless you eat them all. With ice cream. Whoops.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Faux Hostess Cupcakes

Last weekend, a friend of mine boldly went where many many men have gone before. He turned 30. I suppose it gets us all at some point. As I await my birthday, I know there's no point in hiding, but it's not easy to accept that it may be time to act like a grown-up. So, instead, let's eat cupcakes reminiscent of childhood! At a bar

Copycat Hostess Cupcakes
From Cinnamon Spice and Everything Nice
  • 1 cup flour
  • 6 Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 113 grams / 8 Tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs, room temperature
  • 1 egg yolk, room temperature (use the white for the cream filling)
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 cup boiling water
Whisk together flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt. In a separate bowl, beat butter until smooth and creamy - about 2 minutes. On medium speed, gradually add sugar, beating until light and smooth - about 5 minutes. On low speed, beat in eggs and yolk one at a time, add vanilla. Beat in flour mixture in 4 additions, beating well after each one. Then drizzle in hot water, 2 Tablespoons at a time, until batter is smooth and shiny. Fill cupcake liners no more than half-full. For mini cupcakes,  a rounded teaspoon of batter was enough. For regular cupcakes, use 1/4 cup of batter. Bake at 350F / 180 C until a toothpick comes out clean - about 15-20 minutes. I ended up with 36 mini cupcakes and 2 big ones.

For the cream filling, I used my recipe for meringue frosting and added butter.

Cream Filling
  • 2.5 Tablespoons water
  • 1/8 teaspoon cream of tarter
  • 1/2 cup + 1 Tablespoon sugar
  • 1 large egg white at room temperature
  • 1/2 Tablespoon light corn syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1.5 Tablespoons butter, softened
Whisk first 5 ingredients together in a stainless steel bowl. Set the bowl in a wide, deep skillet with about an inch of simmering water. Be sure the water level is at least as high as the depth of the egg white in the bowl. Beat egg white mixture on low speed until it reaches 140F/60C. Do no stop beating while the bowl is in the skillet. Beat on high speed for exactly five minutes. Remove bowl from skillet and add vanilla, beating on high speed for two to three more minutes to cool. Beat in butter. Transfer to a pastry bag with a star tip. When cupcakes are cooled, insert tip into the middle of the cupcake, about half-way down and squeeze in cream until cupcake is heavier...stop when (or before) it begins to crack.

After filling cupcakes, spread a thin layer of chocolate ganache over the top.

Chocolate Ganache
  • 100 grams semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
  • Scant 1/4 cup heavy cream
Warm cream for about 10 seconds in microwave. Stir in chocolate and let sit 2 minutes. Stir to combine. If necessary, briefly warm in microwave. Spread a thin layer on cupcakes. Actually, I thought the ganache tasted too much like real chocolate for a copycat Hostess cupcake, so I suppose if you're going for authenticity, you should use a ganache recipe that includes butter and vanilla, too. 

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Bombones Caseros

I took a chocolatería class this morning at Casa Suiza and came home with these! The fillings I chose include dulce de leche, coconut, ganache with ginger, ganache with coffee, maroque (peanut butter cream), rum soaked raisins and almonds.  Here's the inside of one with almond and dulce de leche.

After three and a half hours, I left with 24 bombones and a ton of Spanish practice. I've also taken the Argentine Art History class at Casa Suiza and I happily recommend both classes and hope to take more!

Friday, April 6, 2012

Lemon Meringue Pie Cupcakes

These are my favorite cupcakes, and making them miniature leaves you with perfect proportions. The inspiration for these came from Junior MasterChef Australia - a show based on mini chefs (ages 8-12) that had me so hooked I watched an episode or two every day until I'd finished both seasons. I can't explain why I love it so much, except that they're all so nice and wonderful to each other. They give encouragement and hugs...awww...something you never see from professional chef competitions. Anyway, I thought it was darling and I learned a few things too. Like how to make lemon meringue pie cupcakes. Thank you, Isabella.

Lemon Cupcakes (makes about 15-16 miniature cupcakes)
from Bella Lately
  • 1/2 cup + 2 heaping Tablespoons (equivalent of 1/8 cup) flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 stick (113 grams) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup + 1 heaping Tablespoon sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • Few drops of lemon extract - optional
Whisk together flour, baking powder, lemon zest and salt in a bowl. Beat butter and sugar in a separate bowl with an electric mixer at medium speed until pale and fluffy, 2-3 minutes. Beat in egg and extract until just combined. Spoon into cupcake liners but do not overfill. Bake at 375F/190C for 20-25 minutes - test with a toothpick. Remove from oven and let cool.

This batter is quite butter-heavy, so experiment with your favorite lemon cupcake recipes. This one is actually from a lemon poppyseed cake that is divine.

Once cooled, use a knife to cut a small cone out of the top of the muffin (about half way down the cupcake) to make room for the curd.

Lemon Curd
adapted from Smitten Kitchen
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon (14 grams) butter, cut into pieces
  • 1 1/2 lemons (smaller sized or one big one), grated and juiced
Combine all ingredients in a double boiler over boiling water. Cook and stir until mixture begins to gel or thicken ever so slightly (about 10 minutes). Remove from heat and immediately press through a strainer. Allow to cool. Chill in the refrigerator to thicken. Keeps for one week in the fridge. Can be frozen. This recipe makes enough for 2 batches of mini cupcakes ~30.

Once chilled, pipe it to fill the holes in the cupcakes. 

Meringue Frosting
half-recipe from Smitten Kitchen
  • 2.5 Tablespoons water
  • 1/8 teaspoon cream of tarter
  • 1/2 cup + 1 Tablespoon sugar
  • 1 large egg white at room temperature
  • 1/2 Tablespoon light corn syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Whisk first 5 ingredients together in a stainless steel bowl. Set the bowl in a wide, deep skillet with about an inch of simmering water. Be sure the water level is at least as high as the depth of the egg whites in the bowl. Beat egg white mixture on low speak until it reaches 140F/60C. Do no stop beating while the bowl is in the skillet. Beat on high speed for exactly five minutes. Remove bowl from skillet and add vanilla, beating on high speed for two to three more minutes to cool. Use frosting the day it is made.

Pipe the frosting on top of the filled cupcakes. You can use a kitchen torch to brown it a bit if you like. I'm not as fancy as some 12-year-old cooking prodigies. 

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Roasted Beet Malfatti & Creamy Roquefort Sauce

I'm so happy to be doing another group post with Argentine flavor! The last time, we tackled a national specialty - the alfajor. This challenge is no easier and is just as emblematic. We're cooking gnocchi! Maybe gnocchi doesn't sound very Argentine to you, but this dish is actually so Argentine that it has its own day of the month. Each time the 29th rolls around you're sure to see restaurants full of diners with plates of gnocchi (or ñoquis, as they're known here). Why? Because it's Dia de los Ñoquis, or Gnocchi Day. Just as with the US, Argentina is a country of immigrants and this dish is strong reminder of European influence.

"Ñoqui" is also a slang word (from lunfardo) that is used to refer to someone who expects to get paid without actually doing any work. Think immigration office. (Ha! I probably shouldn't say that since I'm still waiting for my DNI to arrive.)

So, however you want to look at it,  happy pasta day or happy lazy day. Let's all forget work and eat pasta!

Here's what my fellow bloggers are making for Gnocchi Day:
I really did attempt to make gnocchi but, as usual, I just don't have the patience for this dish and I ended up with malfatti (bigger gnocchi). Beet is not a traditional gnocchi flavor but I had to try something different -- and pink, apparently.

Roasted Beet Malfatti
Recipe seems to originally be from Bon Appetit. Also see Eat a Beet and The Fifth Tine
  • 3 small beets (of which you will use 3/4 cup, grated)
  • 450 grams (1lb) ricotta
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 cup parmesan cheese, finely shredded
  • ~3/4 teaspoon salt (original recipe calls for 1 teaspoon)
  • Pepper to taste (a few twists for me)
  • 1 1/2 cups flour, divided + crap loads more for rolling
Wrap beets in tinfoil and roast at 200C/400F until tender 45-55 minutes. Let cool for 15 minutes and peel skins off. Coarsely shred and measure out 3/4 cup and place in a large bowl. Stir in ricotta, egg, cheese, salt and pepper. Add 1 cup of flour -- it will look like that big pink blob, pictured above. At this point you're suppose to either lightly shape and roll into a log (which would be super long if you tried to do the whole thing) or roll each individual gnocchi in the remaining 1/2 cup of flour. My dough soaked up all the flour on the counter and then asked for more. In total, I probably incorporated 1 1/2 cups into the dough and used another 1/2 cup just for rolling into logs, which I did in a few batches. This lead to malfatti. 

Anyway, cut one-inch pieces of the dough log to form each gnocchi. You're suppose to roll along a gnocchi board or fork to get those classic indentations, but this dough was too wet to roll so I just pressed it with a floured fork. I noticed that one of the other recipes just left the pieces as balls. Anyway, get it to whatever shape you can and then line them up on a baking sheet. I then popped them into the refrigerator for about 15 minutes and they came out easier to handle.

Creamy Roquefort Sauce
  •  Drizzle of olive oil
  • 1 big clove garlic, minced
  • 28g (2T) butter
  • 2 T flour
  • 1 cup milk 
  • 1/3 cup sour cream
  • Pinch nutmeg & dried thyme
  • 120 grams Roquefort or blue cheese, crumbled
Saute garlic in oil for one minute, add butter and melt. Add flour constantly whisking to create a roux and cook for 2 minutes. Add milk slowly while whisking to keep lumps from forming. (This never works for me in a pan that's not non-stick, so I add part of the liquid until it's warm and then remove to a bowl and whisk like crazy until dissolved, then return to the pan and continue adding liquid.) Stir in sour cream until melted. Once sauce is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, add nutmeg, herbs and cheese and stir until melted. Taste and season with salt, if desired. (I went with a roux-based sauce instead of cream because of all the cheese in this recipe, but it would probably be amazing too.)

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and drop in gnocchi in batches so that the pot doesn't get too crowded. Cook for 4 minutes - or until they float to the surface plus an additional minute. Remove from the water into the sauce. 

Don't stir it around too much or your sauce will turn pink. Whoops! Garnish with a handful of toasted walnuts and additional cheese. This recipe is quite rich so I used reduced-fat ricotta and sour cream. I'm not sure the ricotta was the best idea, as it was quite grainy - you may want to go with full-fat. Also, many ricotta gnocchi recipes suggest draining the ricotta and I would try that for this recipe too - perhaps it wouldn't require so much flour.

In the end, it was quite heavy but Guille loved it. He said it reminded him of when his mom would make gnocchi when he was younger. And she only makes it every 5 years. Smart lady. Gnocchi is exhausting...and now I'm going off to act like a ñoqui.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Lentil and Tofu Curry

Lentil and Tofu Curry
adapted from appetite for china
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1-2 T olive oil
  • 1/2 cup lentils, rinsed and drained
  • 3 cups water (or use part veggie stock)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger powder
  • 1/2 block of tofu (about 250 grams)
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • dash of cayenne pepper, optional
  • ~1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh spinach, chopped
  • chopped cilantro to garnish, optional
  • brown rice and plain yogurt to serve
Saute onion and garlic with a pinch of salt in a swirl of olive oil over medium heat until golden, about 2 minutes, add ginger and stir. Add lentils and water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer, uncovered, until lentils are soft, about 20 minutes. 

Meanwhile, cut tofu into cubes and gently press between paper towels to remove excess moisture. In a wok or skillet, heat a Tablespoon of oil over medium heat and gentle stir fry (after adding tofu, don't touch it for about 2 minutes to allow it to slightly brown, then stir). Add curry, cumin, cayenne (to your preference) and salt - cook for another 1 to 2 minutes then stir in spinach and allow to wilt, about 1 minute. Add mixture to the lentils and simmer for 5 minutes to meld flavors. Add more spices, as needed. Serve with brown rice and plain yogurt. 

Heads Up! The "natural" flavor of the La Serenisima brand of Greek yogurt, Griego, is not actually plain, it's sweetened. So don't put it on this dish! Also, it's not actually Greek yogurt as it is thickened with cream instead of just being extra-strained like real Greek yogurt. Man! Why do we have to get the fake versions of everything?! Also, the Danone (aka Dannon) logo is also on this yogurt, so don't go blaming Argentine industry alone. If you're trying to eat healthy and wholesome, GOOD LUCK! Also, if you think that the US is alone in it's struggle with obesity, read this post by Katie at Seashells & Sunflowers

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Macaroni & Cauliflower & Cheese

I had every intention of making a healthy mac and cheese, and I do think this is a pretty acceptable version, but I wouldn't insult you by saying it's good for you. It started, innocently enough, with this Eat Yourself Skinny recipe. But here's where I went wrong: there was no wheat pasta to be found (only the vegetable kind, which I'm not sure is any better and it didn't come in the right shape anyway) and we certainly don't have Smart Taste or whatever, and I didn't use reduced-fat cheese or fat-free half-and-half - because what the crap is that?? We may have a few reduced-fat cheese options but they're the shredded, processed kind that include additives. Fat-free half-and-half does not exist here and it's silly to think that it's an actual thing - it's full of corn syrup and artificial ingredients. So, I thought it best to use real cheese and milk. What this recipe does have going for it is cauliflower to replace some of the volume of pasta - so it is healthier compared to most versions. But let's be honest, the only way this is healthy is if you eat a small portion - like, smaller than the salad you'll serve next to it:

Mac & Cauliflower & Cheese
  • 325 grams elbow macaroni (about 12 oz?)
  • 1/2 large head cauliflower, chopped into florets
  • 1/3 cup whole wheat bread crumbs
  • ~ handful of parsley, chopped
  • 4 Tablespoons Parmesan cheese, finely shredded
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 115 grams/4 oz. Finlandia Light (reduced-fat cream cheese)
  • 1 1/2 cups cheddar, gouda, or similar cheese, shredded (I used half gouda, half Tynbo)
  • 1/2 cup 2% milk
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, plus a bit more
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • Few leaves of fresh basil, chopped
  • Butter to coat pan
Butter a casserole dish and preheat oven to 375F/190C. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook pasta until al dente - adding cauliflower for the last 5 minutes of cooking. Reserve ~1 cup pasta water and drain. In a small bowl, combine bread crumbs, parsley, 1 Tablespoon Parmesan cheese and a shake of salt and pepper, set aside. Sauté onion in oil and 1/2 teaspoon of salt until soft, about 3-5 minutes. Mix in Finlandia, cheeses, the remaining 3 Tablespoons of Parmesan, milk, mustard, pepper, basil, macaroni and cauliflower, stirring until creamy and combined (about 1 minute), adding reserved pasta water as necessary - I added about 3/4 cup. Pour into prepared casserole dish and sprinkle with the bread crumb mixture. Bake for about 20 minutes. Note that the crumbs won't brown because there's no oil or butter in the topping. If desired, mist the crumbs with olive oil.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Roasted Vegetable Sandwich & Curry Fries

Roasted Vegetable Sandwich

This doesn't really require a recipe - just slice up some summer veggies and toss in a bowl with a good drizzle of olive oil, salt, pepper and fresh herbs. For this one, I used eggplant and zucchini cut into 1/4 inch thick slices, red pepper cut into strips 1/4 inch thick, and carrots sliced even thinner. After coating veggies with oil and seasoning, roast in a hot oven (450F/230C) for 20-25 minutes - flipping them over after 10 minutes. 

I found multigrain flat bread "buns" at the grocery store and I heart them. Stuff like this isn't so easy to find around here so if you're looking for it, the brand is Oroweat and they're called Flats. I found them at Coto.

Serve veggies on a bun with hummus or Dijon mustard. Add a slice of cheese if you're feeling it.  

Curry Fries
(adapted from Post Punk Kitchen)
  • 2 large Russet potatoes
  • 1 teaspoon mild curry powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 large clove garlic, finely diced
  • Drizzle of olive oil to coat
Bring a large pot of salted water to boil and preheat oven to 425F/220C. Slice potatoes about 1/4 inch thick and boil for 3 minutes. Immediately remove to an ice bath. When cool, lay out on a towel in a single layer to dry and blot the tops with a paper towel - a little moisture is okay. Combine potatoes, curry powder, salt, garlic and a drizzle of oil in a bowl and toss until coated. Place fries in a single layer on a non-stick or greased baking sheet. Bake for 8 to 12 minutes on each side until golden brown.

If you're baking the veggies and the fries at the same time, you may need to add a few minutes to the cooking times.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Vegetarian Biscuits & Gravy

This dish should not be confused with all of the healthy recipes I've been posting lately. There's a time and place for healthy food and a time and place for the stuff that makes life worth living. This was for a special occasion: Valentine's brunch. That said, it isn't so bad as this recipe uses veggie patties instead of sausage and I swapped out some white flour for wheat flour in the biscuits - although, I did add cheese. ;)

Biscuits & Veggie Gravy

Parmesan Biscuits (adapted from Alton Brown):
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup wheat flour
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 Tablespoons (28 grams) butter, cold
  • 2 Tablespoons (28 grams) vegetable shortening, cold
  • 1 cup buttermilk, cold
  • 1/3 cup shredded cheese (I used parmesan)
Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl. Using cool fingertips or a pastry blender, blend butter and shortening into dry ingredients until mixture looks like crumbs. Make a well in the center and pour in buttermilk. Stir just until dough comes together - it will be sticky. Turn out onto floured surface, dust top with flour and fold dough over on itself 5 to 6 times. Press into a 1-inch thick round and cut out biscuits with a biscuit cutter or a glass. Reform scrap dough, working it as little as possible, and cut out the rest of the biscuits. You should have about 12 biscuits. You can lay them out on a baking sheet so that they just touch or you can space them out a little. I pressed my dough out a bit thinner and stacked 2 biscuits tall so that they would split easily. Bake at 450F/230C for 15-20 minutes.

Vegetarian Gravy:
  • 2 veggie burgers (or veggie sausage)
  • Olive oil, as needed
  • 1 Tablespoon (14 grams) butter
  • 1/4 cup (or 2 heaping soup spoons) flour
  • 2 cups buttermilk (or 2% milk will work) plus extra for thinning, at room temperature
  • Veggie powder, salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 sprig fresh thyme, stripped
  • Handful of fresh parsley, chopped
Cook burgers in a drizzle of oil over medium heat, squishing and flattening them a bit until they start to break up and get crispy on the bottom. Flip them over and repeat - start breaking them down into crumbles. Once thoroughly cooked, remove the crumbles from the pan with a spatula - it's okay to leave some in the pan, and try to leave all of the oil. (Since I didn't use a non-stick pan, I went ahead and added enough water to cover the bottom of the pan, let it warm up and started scrapping out the bits that were stuck - you should probably do this with oil or butter but it seemed excessive.) Add butter and melt, swirling around the pan. Whisk in flour for about one minute. (Alternatively, you could whisk milk and flour together before adding it to the pan.) Add buttermilk, veggie powder, a pinch of salt, thyme, and crack in some pepper. Whisk constantly for a few minutes, making sure there are no lumps of flour. Stir in a handful of fresh parsley. Either let it simmer until it's at a thick enough consistency or whisk in more milk, depending on the consistency you'd like. Add more salt and pepper, if necessary (I think heaps of pepper are necessary). Stir the crumbles into the gravy. After I'd removed the crumbles, it took me about 10 minutes to make the gravy.

Parmesan Heart: 
Now, if it's Valentine's Day (or if you're just really nice) you could make a heart-shaped Parmesan crisp by using a Tablespoon of shredded cheese for each heart and shaping it on a non-stick baking sheet. Bake at about 350F/180C for 7-10 minutes, checking frequently. Then, you can just turn off the oven and let them set in there, getting all crispy for another 10 minutes while you're finishing the gravy. While they're still warm, but not gooey, carefully remove them from the pan.

Serve alone or with other brunch dishes, like scrambled eggs with basil.