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Monday, March 31, 2014

Kerala Fish Curry

First of all, if you are planning on making fish in a sauce, I'd highly suggest monkfish.  It stays firm and chunky and does not disintegrate out of fragility like other white fish does.  It also tastes wonderful and absorbs the curry very nicely.
I don't do fish in curry very often, because I don't like to hide the taste of what I'm eating, and I usually prefer my fish grilled or raw.  This dish may make me change my habits and make it more often.  What I love about it is that you still know that you're eating fish, and the texture of the monkfish is like that of crab or alligator tail.
Tonight's thali is laced with coconut.. ooh!
Serves 5-6
2 lbs (1 kg) monkfish or other firm white fish, deboned and cubed
2 tsp turmeric
some salt
1 Tbsp coconut oil
2 medium onions, sliced
2 red chilis, split
1 inch chunk ginger, peeled and sliced into thin sticks
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 400mL can coconut milk
1 cup water
3 Tbsp tamarind concentrate
1 Tbsp fish stock (I used dried shrimp)
1.  Rub the fish cubes with some salt and turmeric and set aside while you prepare the curry.
2.  Heat the oil in a wok and sautée the onions with a pinch of salt for about 5 minutes or until soft.  You don't want them to brown.
3.  Add the chilis, cumin, and ginger and stir fry for a few minutes.  The aroma should be sweet from the ginger and cough inducing from the chilis.  This is good.
4.  Add the coconut milk, water, and dried shrimp.  Bring to a boil and simmer for at least 10 minutes.  Taste and add salt if needed.
5.  Add in the fish.  Bring to a boil, then simmer for 1-2 minutes until the fish is cooked through.

Serve with some basmati rice, naan, and whatever other sides you see fit.
I served mine with Lobia Palak Curry, Man'ouché, and Samosas.

I love meals like this.  Spicy, tangy, earthy, crunchy, comforting.. and almost effortless.. well, today at least...

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Sunday, March 30, 2014

Lobia Palak Curry

Today was samosa day.  I spent a few good hours today making the dough, rolling, stuffing, and frying samosas, in preparation of welcoming the family.
Naturally, tonight was Indian night to accompany the samosas.  Some crispy hot munchies to snack on, then samosas with lemon yogurt sauce (I didn't have time to make chutney) and finally, some nice healthy Lobia Palak Curry along with Lebanese bread (can't let that deliciousness go to waste).  Lobia are Black-Eyed Peas and Palak is Spinach.  The original recipe calls for Malabar spinach, which is something I've never seen or tasted, but looks more like basil and isn't really part of the same family as spinach.  Either way, the recipe inspired me to put some palak into my lobia, which I've never done with any dal for that matter.  It makes the already earthy black eyed peas even earthier, and then balanced out by the coconut, ground spices, and garlic.
It's a small twist off of the last Lobia Curry.
Serves 5-6 as a side
3/4 cup black eyed peas, soaked overnight
1/4 cup masoor dal (red lentils) soaked overnight
1 cup frozen spinach, thawed
1 Tbsp oil
1 tsp black mustard seeds
pinch asafoetida (hing)
4 cloves garlic, lightly crushed, skins on
1 small red onion, chopped
1 tomato, chopped
salt to taste
chopped cilantro for garnish
To grind:
1/2 cup desiccated coconut
3 tsp coriander seeds
2 tsp cumin seeds
4 peppercorns
1/4 tsp fenugreek seeds
2 dried red chilies
1.  Cook the black eyed peas and masoor dal in 3 cups water in a slow cooker on low for about 5 hours.  You want the beans to be tender, but not complete mush.
2.  Dry roast the seeds and chilies under "to grind" then grind into a fine powder.  Add the coconut and a bit of the bean cooking water to the grinder to make a paste.  Set aside.
3.  Heat the oil in a wok and add the mustard seeds until they sputter, then add the hing until it fizzes.
4.  Add the garlic and swish around for 5-10 seconds, then add the onions and cook until translucent.
5.  Add the tomato and cook until it becomes mush, then add the spice paste.  Cook for about 5 minutes and add a bit of bean cooking water if too dry.
6.  Stir in the thawed spinach and cook for another 5 minutes.
7.  Add in the contents of the slow cooker.  At this point, I had very little cooking water left, so I used all of it.
8.  Simmer for about 10 minutes, adding salt if needed.  I added about 1 tsp.

Serve garnished with cilantro (which I forgot).
The garlic, when cooked in its sheath, seems to roast and releases a nice flavor into the curry.  I didn't notice the skins while eating, so I guess they just disappear.

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Blueberry Banana Buckwheat Muffins

I may have a disorder.
Out of nowhere, between preparing the dough for the samosas and grinding the spices for my black eyed peas curry, I had a sudden urge to make muffins.
Especially since I have fresh blueberries that were not entirely finished at breakfast.
Mmm real blueberries.. The American kind, not the French kind.  I had no idea there was such a difference, but apparently, the French kind are too sour and only good for making jam or pie, but not for eating fresh like the sweet american ones.
I flashed to eating them with my honey, oats and goat milk, but the muffins were almost finished cooking by that time...
These are the same as the Peanut Butter Banana Muffins I recently made with a few substitutions:
buckwheat flour for regular flour
approximately 100g real blueberries for jam
only 1 Tbsp peanut butter
only poppy seeds as a topping

It makes a big difference to use the actual fruit.  I love how they just popped while cooking and stained the muffins with their purple goodness...

So do I have a problem?  I will now go back to making samosas..

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Saturday, March 29, 2014

Hummus-Ful bi Tahini (Chickpeas and Favas)

With the most delicious hand pressed olive oil and home made Lebanese bread, I may be in paradise...
It's Saturday Night Fava
haa I love it!
The Patels will be here in less than 2 weeks, and I promised them not to spend too much time in the kitchen while they're here... And since I don't get many opportunities to cook for them, I must optimize what I can by making ahead the things I most want to show off to them but that take time.  Hummus freezes well..and so do samosas, which is perfect for it will leave me time to plancha with the father and discuss different coffee and beer making methods with the brother during happy hour.
The reason behind tonight's endeavors are clear, and it is a perfect way to make it a Lebanese evening with man'ouché and a fresh salad.
This time though, I did half chickpeas, half fava beans.  At first I thought it would be ugly, since the favas turned the cooking water brown and tainted the chickpeas.  The puree pre-tahini was a brownish color, but once the tahini was mixed in, it lightened it all up.
The taste is just amazing.  It has a fresh springy taste, though very similar to plain hummus.
To serve I made a little well in the center and poured in an excellent olive oil made and gifted to me by a friend, and to dip I made some Lebanese bread and cut some cucumber into sticks.
The Ma'nouché was perfect this time with fresh yeast and za'atar.. mm
Lets talk about that now, shall we?
Today was my first time using fresh yeast vs dry.  There is absolutley no compairison.  Hands down fresh wins.  It rises like a skyscraper and gives the bread such a nice texture and tastes like love.
Seriously, it tastes like love!

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Friday, March 28, 2014

Dog Cockles on Spirelli'd Zucchini

Is how to give yourself a very warm and full of love "Welcome Home" after a tough week out of town.
Thank you, me, everything was perfect.  Some familiarity, some discovery, a bed of health, some spice, some comfort.. some of the best emotions all in one plate.
Dog cockles have a prettier name in French, Amandes de Mer, which literally translates to "Sea Almonds" clearly much sexier than "Coques de Chien.."
I'm really not here to debate about language, but about the magical dinner you can make for under 2 euros/person but could sell in a restaurant for probably 20 euros.  This meal almost made me switch careers... except I know good deals don't last.
While grocer shopping my usual fish mongered wanted to sell me trout, but I spied with my right eye a little sign near the cockles listing 1,98Eur/kg.  Whaaaat?  Was it a mistake?  No no, that's the correct price.  They say 400g per person, so I bought 1200g (come on now, do I look like I'd have enough of 400g?).
Since these are actually quite different than clams (palourdes) which are much smaller and milder, I decided to cook these as I would cook mussels, steamed with olive oil, garlic, basil, cracked pepper, and some piment d'espelette with a splash of beer for moisture (I didn't have any wine) for about 12 minutes.
I sautéed some spirelli'd zucchini in some olive oil, pepper, and paprika for about 5 minutes and dinner was done.

Compared to mussels, these are much more chewy, but bursting with flavor.  For those who prefer more subtle flavors, I'd suggest a longer cooking time.  These can be eaten raw or baked, stuffed, or a ton of different ways, which for that price, I will try each and every one of those ways.

I can't explain how happy this dinner made me.  I needed it.. and deserved it!

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Saturday, March 22, 2014

Broccoli Cheddar Quiche

Mmmm cheddar.
When I ordered the 150g block of cheddar from the cheese counter today, the cheese lady, curious, asked what I could possibly be doing with cheddar.. She had never experienced it other than as a quick tasting.
We Americans do nor have the same cheese culture as the French (appropriate cheese eating time with appropriate beverage with appropriate knife with which to cut it).  Funny enough, France has its share of smelly cheeses but "couper le fromage" does not have the same meaning as it does in English.  So anyway the cheese lady was so happy to hear of something constructive with which to use cheddar (grated, as a topping, in cheese fondue, on a burger .. seriously? and finally, in a quiche).
"Oh je n'aurais jamais pensé à le faire!"
I would never have thought of doing that!
Do it, lady.
Usually, quiche is an appetizer, but I happen to like it as a side to my roasted 5-spice monkfish tail.
1 lb (500g) broccoli florets
1 large onion, sliced
1 tsp piment d'espelette
150g (about 1 cup) cubed cheddar
1 tsp yellow mustard seeds
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 Buckwheat Thyme shortcrust
3 eggs
1 Tbsp extra spicy mustard
3/4 cup heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
pinch nutmeg
some flake salt/pepper


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Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Dried Fava Beans and Fresh Asparagus

I know what to do with the asparagus.  It was so beautiful laying there in its stall at the parket.  When it caught my eye I had numerous flash forwards as to how I would be cooking it, leaving a bit of bite in it, and probably adorned with a squeeze of lemon with a poached egg on top or alongside some roasted chicken.
For some reason last night I put some dried fava beans to soak overnight.  This morning I peeled them, and now they're sitting there asking me questions and kind of stressing me out.
Now what?  I have no idea..
B'sarra? I don't have anny dippable items on hand.
Steamed then sauteed in some olive oil and cumin? Will that work with dried beans vs fresh?  They are much much larger than fresh ones so I want to do this right..and I want it to be delicious...

After my lengthy internal conversation, I decided to simmer the peeled favas for 20 minutes in salted water spiked with cumin and piment oiseau, then sautée them in olive oil with garlic, paprika, and cumin.
The end result?
I haven't served dinner yet, but I could eat these as a meal on their own.  They are less mealy than lima beans, yet hold their delicate texture.  The way I cooked them would work as happy hour fare as well as side dish or even pizza fare.
Fava beans, our paths have crossed once and they will forever cross on various adventures.

The asparagus was really the star of the plate, though.  Tough stems cut off, bottoms peeled, tossed in some excellent olive oil, fleur de sel, and fresh cracked pepper, then roasted for 15 minutes at 220°C (430°F) and topped with a light squeeze of lemon.
They were well cooked but still al dente enough for the texture to be exactly the way I like them.
This is the only way asparagus should be eaten as a side.

All that topped with a poached egg, a side of roasted carrots and parsnips with a slice of Beet Tart.

If I were to name it, I would call this meal:  Winter to Spring Transition

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Sunday, March 16, 2014

Balsamic Strawberry Swirl Banana Muffins

That title may be just a touch too long...
These are a cross between Balsamic Strawberry Muffins and PB&J Banana Muffins, but they are oh so different from both that they deserve their own name.
I have an incurable disease where I get the urge to bake things.  I'm not even a huge fan of sweets, but I like the chemistry that goes into baking.  While waiting for a new cookie recipe to pop out of my head, these swirly muffins call out my name every time I open the freezer and see that bag of strawberries.  The bag is no more...
Yield 20 muffins
3 over ripe bananas, mashed
2 eggs
1 cup (160g) dark brown sugar
scant 1/2 cup canola oil
1/2 vanilla bean, scraped
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1cup (120g) flour (I used half buckwheat, half whole wheat)
1/3 cup (50g) ground hazelnuts
1 tsp strawberry sauce per muffin
1.  Beat together the eggs, sugar, bananas, oil, and vanilla.
2.  In a separate mixing bowl, sift together the flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda.
3.  Gently mix the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until they just come together.
4.  Grease your muffin tins and fill them 3/4 to the top, then swirl in 1 tsp of the strawberry sauce into each serving.
5.  Bake in a 375°F (180°C) oven for 15-20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean after a nice stab.

I imagined the swirl to be more prominent, but that may be because of the dark brown sugar.  If these were made with white refined sugar, the swirl would be intensely noticeable.. but you'd have to eat refined sugar, which we are all trying to avoid, right?

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Saturday, March 15, 2014

Beet Tart Tatin

A day late for Pi day, but better late than never.. and this one is a mega winner.
Beets and Red Onions caramelized in Balsamic vinegar, then tucked under a buckwheat shortcrust, baked, and flipped?
It may not be the best food photography in the world, but it's one Amazing Pi!!
It was originally meant to be a starter, but I would have grabbed a slice for dessert as well.  It goes well both ways.
I got the idea from Manger, where I found various savory tart recipes I probably never would have come up with myself and get me ridiculously overexcited.
I made a buckwheat shortcrust for this.  I'm now sticking with buckwheat when I do pie.  It just takes delicious to the next step.
For the Buckwheat Shortcrust
125g buckwheat flour
125g whole wheat flour
100g cubed butter
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1 Tbsp inactive yeast extract
1 egg
few Tbsp cold water
Use the method, then refrigerate 20 minutes before rolling it out.

For the Pie
1 uncooked shortcrust
800g (about 6 medium) beets, cooked, peeled, and sliced
1 very large red onion, sliced
2 Tbsp brown sugar
3 Tbsp butter
4 Tbsp balsamic vinegar

1.  Melt the butter in a wide skillet.  Add the onions, beets, and sugar and cook on medium high heat while stirring until it's all nice and caramelized.   About 12 minutes.  You don't want the onions to brown.
2.  Deglaze with the balsamic vinegar for another 2 minutes.  Sprinkle with a pinch of salt and some fresh cracked pepper.  Set aside and let cool just a bit.
3.  Preheat oven to 350°F 180°C while you assemble.
4.  Butter a pie dish and cover the bottom with a layer of beets.  I tried to make it pretty.. I'm not very good at that, but if you are, by all means, get pretty with it.
5.  Spread the onions evenly over the layer of beets, then pour in any succulent juices from the pan.
6.  Cover with the rolled shortcrust, making sure to tuck in the edges so the filling is nice and snug.  Lightly poke it with a fork.
7.  Bake for 45 minutes or until crust is nice and golden.  Let cool for 10 minutes before flipping it over.

Try hard to take a pretty slice picture, and fail miserably

But be ecstatic about how well this little experiment turned out and how much flavor it packs!

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Friday, March 14, 2014

Carrot Cardamom Muffins

 A cross between Pain d'Epices Carrot Muffins and Carrot Halwa can only be a match made in Pleasure...
Yield 22 muffins
2 cups grated carrots (about 4-5)
2 eggs
1 cup (160g) malt syrup (or sugar)
scant 1/3 cup canola oil
1 tsp ground cardamom (about 4 pods roasted and ground)
handful raisins
1/2 cup milk
1 yogurt
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1cup (120g) flour
Crushed pistachios
1.  Beat together the eggs, malt syrup, oil, and cardamom, then stir in the carrots and raisins.
2.  In a separate mixing bowl, sift together the flour, salt, and baking soda.
3.  Gently mix the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients.  The texture should not be liquify.. it should be very goopy.
4.  Grease your muffin tins and fill them 3/4 to the top, then sprinkle with the crushed pistachios and raisins.

5.  Bake in a 375°F (180°C) oven for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean after a nice stab.

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Sunday, March 9, 2014

Peanut Butter Banana Blueberry Muffins

Are those 3 delicious ingredients really all in one muffin?
These really need no introduction.  They are a spin off from last week's Banana Nut Muffins which were a big hit, but these ones are a bit less guilt free.  Why?  I have no idea, but I didn't use oats.. maybe that's why.
Yield 21 muffins
3 over ripe bananas, mashed
2 eggs
1 cup (160g) sugar*
*I used 80g cassonade and 80g molasses
scant 1/3 cup canola oil
1 tsp vanilla sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1cup (120g) flour
3 Tbsp peanut butter
2 Tbsp blueberry jam
Crushed peanuts
Poppy seeds (they just appeared out of nowhere)
1.  Beat together the eggs, sugar, molasses, bananas, oil, peanut butter, and vanilla.
2.  In a separate mixing bowl, sift together the flour, salt, and baking soda.
3.  Gently mix the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, then swirl in the jam at the very last minute.  The texture should not be dry.. it should be very goopy.
4.  Grease your muffin tins and fill them 3/4 to the top, then sprinkle with the crushed peanuts or poppy seeds.
5.  Bake in a 375°F (180°C) oven for 18-20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean after a nice stab.

I love how muffins can be customized with toppings.  I love how easily they are to freeze or distribute.  I love how the fact of calling them muffins make them seem healthy.  I really have no idea why people still make cake.  I don't like to eat things called cake for some unknown psychological reason.  I think it's because they're usually topped with frosting which is something I have lots of issues with.  I just don't like it.  If I wanted to bite into a stick of butter, I'd just bite into a stick of butter.. why do you have to pretend it's not a stick of butter by making it pretty and colorful?
Also I feel like muffins are more moist and enjoyable.

These were very very very good.  I'll soon be experimenting with savory muffins.
Can you imagine rosemary caraway muffins?  Oooh!!

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Saturday, March 8, 2014

Mushroom Mutar Curry

Oh I may have just made myself faint...
Last night upon return from a mindblowing concert, I put some kala chana and urad to soak.  This morning, I turned on the crockpot figuring I'd have enough time to work out the rest of the plan.
Later on, while daydreaming in front of an open fridge and freezer, the mushrooms spoke to me.
"Psst! Pick us pick us!  Let us shine through a curry instead of drowned in spaghetti sauce.  We promise to give you satisfaction!"
I have to admit it is hard to turn down a promise like that...
Serves 4-5 as a side
To blanch:
8 oz (250g) mushrooms, sliced
1 tsp lemon juice
Pinch of salt
To blend:
1 chopped onion
2 chopped garlic cloves
1/2 inch knob of ginger, chopped
1 cup water reserved from the blanching
For curry:
2 Tbsp canola oil
1 bay leaf
3 cloves
2 green cardamom
1 minced green chili
1 tsp grated ginger
1 tsp grated garlic
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp garam masala
3/4 cup frozen peas
3/4 cup yogurt
Cilantro for garnish
1.  Blanch the  mushrooms in some water, lemon juice, and a pinch of salt for 3 minutes.  Reserve 1 cup of the water fort he next step.
2.  Simmer the "to blend" in the cup of water for 10 minutes or until onions are soft.  Let cool and blend.  Set aside.
3.  Make the curry.  Heat the oil in a wok and add the bay leaf, cloves, and cardamom.  Fry for 1 minute.
4.  Add the blended mixture and simmer until it becomes a paste, about 15 minutes.
5.  Add the chili, ginger, and garlic and cook a few minutes, stirring.
6.  Add the chili powder and garam masala.  Stir well, then add the peas.  Cook a few minutes.
7.  Add the yogurt and bring to a boil, continuously stirring so it doesn't separate.
8.  Add the mushrooms and heat through.  Taste and add salt if needed.
Garnish with chopped cilantro.
I served mine in a 100% vegetarian thali.
Top: Samosa, Lobia Pakoras, Magic Chutney, and Roti
Left: Kala Chana with the addition of whole Black Urad (absolutely life changing)
Center: Mushroom Mutar Curry
Right: Palak Paneer

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Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Shirred Eggs over Roasted Cauliflower Puree

I just made my Roasted Cauliflower Soup even better...
Put a little bit into some ramequins, cracked an egg on top, drizzled a bit of olive oil, a bit of shredded swiss, some cracked pepper, and some chopped leek slices.
Baked for 10 minutes at 200°C (400°F)
It's the next level.
Eat with fresh hot baguette while dipping into the yolk and melt with pleasure...

I had to look up "oeufs cocotte" in English to find "shirred eggs."

Shame on me.

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Monday, March 3, 2014

Roasted Cauliflower and Leek Soup

Although cauliflower is a plain cream white color (which is pretty boring) it just tickles me in a whole variety of ways.
Raw.  Just amazing.. want it even better raw? Dip it into some sardine dip.  OoooooOo.
Pan fried and tossed into pasta, it will add some texture to the otherwise noodley meal.
Don't have enough chicken in your curry?  Add some florets that will take up some volume and be a perfect palette for the curry.
Apparently, you can make pizza dough or couscous with it too, which I haven't tried.
But my favorite way of enjoying cauliflower is roasted, especially when I can get my hands on a nice fresh head.  This one was just begging me to take it home with me.
Haha.. reminds me of something....

This is your brain
This is your brain on drugs
Any questions?

Yes I have one... does that mean that taking drugs lets you grow a head of perfectly roasted garlic between your hemispheres?
If your drug is my kitchen, then yes it is absolutely possible.
Roasted cauliflower is really a show on its own.  It's a mix between texture (still has a bite, almost crunch, definitely not mushy, but tender all at once) and the way it releases its endless nutty flavor.
I almost ate it all just like that, but I held back so I could make this soup.
I should actually always buy cauliflower by 2.  One to make the meal it was originally intended for, and one to nibble on whenever I desire throughout the whole process.
This soup is rich and creamy without cream and serves about 4-5 as a side or appetizer.
To Roast:
1 head cauliflower, halved, and stem cut out
3 tbsp (approximately) olive oil
1/2 tsp fleur de sel
1/2 tsp fresh cracked pepper
1 tsp piment d'espelette
1 head garlic
To blend:
the above roasted ingredients
1 tbsp olive oil
the white part of a leek, sliced and sautéed
some salt
lots of pepper
approximately 4 cups water
1 plain yogurt (optional)
Thinly sliced green part of leek
drizzle of chili oil
1.  Rub all the good stuff of the "to roast" ingredients over the cauliflower and drizzle a bit of olive oil over the head of garlic.  Roast in a 400°F 200°C oven for about 1 hour or until the head has a nice color to it.  Then break apart the florets (if you can do it without eating it all first) and squeeze out the cooked garlic from its sheath.
2.  Sautee the sliced leeks in a pot with the olive oil.  Cook until translucent, then add the roasted ingredients.
3.  Toss well while cooking, then add the water, salt, and pepper.  Bring to a boil, then simmer for 8-10 minutes.
4.  Liquify the whole thing with an immersible blender (or vitamix for an extra velvety soup.. I do not own a vitamix)
5.  Taste and adjust the seasoning.  It might need some salt, but you'll have that lovely roasted flavor in a velvety spoonful.  I stirred in some yogurt because I felt it was too thick and I didn't want to use water, but the taste was already magnificent.

Serve and eat happily while imagining gnawing on the roasted branches instead of eating a soup.
If I had changed my mind and decided to eat the branches as they were, I would have been imagining my soup.
It's a win win situation, because I now cannot wait to do this again and completely devoir the roasted head..mmMMm!

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Sunday, March 2, 2014

Tahini Raisin Coconut Cookies

Although I've made tahini cookies a million times, I don't always post the finished tweaked recipe and I'm getting slightly better at presenting them, so I wanted to share some of the love this time.
Yield 40 cookies
40g all purpose flour
240g whole wheat flour (2 cups total flour)
pinch of salt
90g desiccated coconut
100g butter
80g sugar
70g malt syrup (or molasses)
1 tsp vanilla sugar 

1 tsp cinnamon 
200g (3/4 cup) tahini
handful pureed raisins (I blended them with some tahini)
4 Tbsp milk (as needed)
Black sesame seeds
White sesame seeds
1.  Sift together the flours and salt.  Set aside.
2.  Cream the butter, sugar, and malt syrup together until smooth.
3.  Add the vanilla sugar, cinnamon, tahini, and blended raisins.  Beat well until mixture is homogenous.
4.  Fold in the coconut.  At this time, if you are using a whip, switch tools.  Use a wooden spoon for the next steps.
5.  Pour the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients while mixing, little by little until all the flour is incorporated.  Halfway through, you will ditch the spoon and start kneading with your hands. 
6.  Knead for a while until you can just barely make it hold together when you make a ball in the palm of your hands with the dough.  If it's too crumbly, knead in some milk.
7.  Preheat the oven to 350°F 175°C.
8.  Make tablespoon sized balls with the dough.  Press each ball tightly so it doesn't crumble. Dip into the topping of your choice, then press into a cookie shape on your oven tray or cookie mat.
Isn't my new cookie mat pretty?
9.  Cook for 12-15 minutes, then transfer to a wire cooling rack.

I really enjoyed the addition of raisins and coconut in this cookie.  They give it a completely different angle.
I'm digging raisins these days....

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Banana Nut Muffins

Of all the cookies and muffins and pies I've made so far, I realized I hadn't made the one every American knows and loves which brings back childhood warmth and smiles..
Banana Bread!  How is it possible that I've never made this?  I love bananas, and I'm getting much better at baking.. so am I waiting for?
Well, wait no longer!
I made them in muffin form because they're easier to distribute in individual portions that way, but it's basically the same thing.
Yield 15 muffins
3 over ripe bananas, mashed
2 eggs
1 cup (170g) sugar*
*I used 70g brown sugar and 100g molasses
1/3 cup canola oil
1/2 tsp cinammon
1/2 stick vanilla, scraped (or 1 tsp extract)
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1cup (115g) flour**
**I used 85g buckwheat and 30g whole wheat
1/2 cup (80g) oats
Chopped walnuts
Poppy seeds
1.  Beat together the eggs, sugar, molasses, bananas, oil, cinnamon and vanilla.
2.  In a separate mixing bowl, sift together the flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda.
3.  Gently mix the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, then fold in the oats.  The texture should not be dry.. it should be very goopy.
4.  Grease your muffin tins and fill them 3/4 to the top, then sprinkle with the chopped walnuts and poppy seeds.
5.  Bake in a 375°F (180°C) oven for 15-18 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean after a nice stab.

Let the banana power invade your senses....
People really should cook with bananas more.  They really work their way into your soul.

This was a healthy version, but you can easily sub out the oats and add peanut butter and add chocolate chips as a topping and then these would be over the top decadent.

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Saturday, March 1, 2014

My Quiche is Leeking

... and my shortcrust is Thymeless
I like making shortcrust so much that I've slipped into a sort of 1 pie per week routine.  This week, I'm switching from dark red to green with some of my beloved winter friends, leeks.  I'll go back to dark red next week, because I have plenty of beet ideas, but sometimes, classic is classy.
My buckwheat crust from last week was so perfect that I used the exact same one for my quiche.
1 buckwheat thyme shortcrust, precooked 10 minutes
2 leeks, washed and thinly sliced
Few tablespoons olive oil
2 tsp sage
1 tsp powdered piment d'espelette
Lots of fresh cracked pepper
Few pinches fleur de sel
handful cubed Leerdamer (I would have used feta if I had it)
Beat together:
3 eggs
3/4 cup cream
1 cup goats milk (if you can find it)
Pinch nutmeg
1/2 tsp extra strong mustard
Lots of fresh cracked pepper
1.  Sautée the sliced leeks in the olive oil.  Add the sage, piment d'espelette, salt, and pepper.  Cook until translucent.. about 10 minutes.
2.  Assemble the quiche. Place 2/3 of the cooked leeks into the precooked shortcrust, add the cheese cubes, then cover with the rest of the leeks.
3.  Pour the beaten mixture over the leeks.  Everything should be just covered
4.  Cook at 180°C (360°F) for 45-55 minutes.
5.  Let cool 10 minutes before digging in.
Needless to say, this one is a winner.  Everything about it was perfect.  The taste and texture of the crust, the fluffiness of the quiche, the flavor of the leeks.
I ate 2 slices as a meal with some salad, but it's most probably a side dish or appetizer.  
It didn't taste very goat like, as I thought it would.  I recently decided to switch cow's milk for goat's milk in my diet.
Just the milk, though, because I like the taste of goat.
I will never give up cheese.  If I had to give up cheese, I'd probably move back to the US.

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