Archive for the ‘dessert’ Category

11
Nov

Laterculi: Poppy Seed Pop Tarts

   Posted by: Livia

Okay, so this is not an accurate redaction. Or, well, it’s about (slightly less) as likely to be accurate as anything else.

There’s a play by Plautus (Poenulus 325-6) there’s a reference to laterculi with the only description being that they are composed of sesame seeds, poppy seeds, (wheat) flour, and nuts.

Okay, so the name is also descriptive. It’s the word for bricks or tiles.

Some people take this description and match it with gastris, a food from Crete described by Athenaeus as walnuts, hazelnuts, almonds and poppy seeds, with fruit, honey, pepper and white sesame seeds. That will lead you to redactions both simple and amazing.

Now that last gastris redaction – which looks to me like a seedy fruitcake – would be perfect to make in an 8″ x 8″ x 2″ shape that was not unlike a common Roman brick shape.

On the other hand, Athanaeus’ gastris recipe has fruit and no flour. But Plautus was very clear that flour was involved in this project. Flour would be easy to add to the gastris because the nuts are working in a similar way. But it’s also leeway to go in a completely different direction.

One could make candies out of the honey and seeds with just a bit of flour.

Or! And here’s what came to my mind as being kinda fun – you could make pop tarts and call them tiles.

Okay, so pop tarts. First place to go is Smitten Kitchen‘s homemade pop tart recipe.

Next the filling. I liked how La Spelonca separated the poppy seeds and the sesame seeds. It both made them look more dramatic and kept the flavors clear and less like bagel toppings. So tentative working plan is to have two different flavors of pop tarts: Poppy Seeds and either almonds or walnuts or both; and Sesame Seeds and either hazelnuts or pistachios or both.

Okay, so poppy seed filling is a thing. But my first google search yielded only recipes that called for milk… but the Romans mostly ate their dairy in the form of cheese. It just didn’t feel right.

So I kept looking and loved this one that described the method and thought process beautifully and clearly – cook poppy seeds with a minimal amount of water, grind, cook again with honey and sugar.

Okay, so first I have to find the poppy seeds. So off I go to Amazon. And the first review right off the start informs me that real bakers look for unwashed poppy seeds for a richer, nuttier flavor and a better texture. Well, okay. So off I go looking at the unwashed poppy seeds and their reviews. And then things started to get weird. There was some division, but also some overlap, between the bakers and the people making poppy seed tea. And some of the people making the poppy seed tea seemed more interested in the color of their tea than the flavor, but others loved the flavor. Erm… And then I got to the ones talking about how ‘effective’ their tea and/or baked goods were. And there was the one who assured people that the reviewer really could tell that these poppy seeds were unwashed because there was plant material included as well. Ummm… I object! Because if I’m baking and there’s plant material, don’t I then need to wash the poppy seeds? But it wasn’t all double entendre and drug references, because there were still people staunchly championing the unwashed seeds while listing their preferred baked good and their baking credentials. But then I got to the one that was all, “I just made the best batch of muffins ever. Now I’m off to take a nap.” And I just. Now I have no idea whether kolaches is actually a baked good or just a wink and nod drug reference in the land of amazon reviews. So I still haven’t what to buy for making a large quantity, but I picked up half a pound of what are definitely washed seeds at a spice shop in the Italian Market.

So poppy seeds and water in a small saucepan. Check. Going well. The poppy seeds take on moisture, darken, and swell.

Grind the poppy seeds… doesn’t go so well. I put some in my mortal and grind it with the pestle… and it goes okay, but every time any utensil touches the poppy seeds there’s mess left behind. And so after a few desultry grinding attempts I figure I might as well see if I might like the consistency of it not ground all that much. So I put it all back in the saucepan and add the honey. And then add more honey because honey was more common that sugar back in the day. And then panic! Because the honey just liquifies and everything becomes sloshy. And cooking it more doesn’t make it any drier. And what if I really needed sugar to get a good paste because of how honey is like an invert sugar? Eh, whatever – let’s refrigerate what I have and see how it moves tomorrow. Plus I’m going to add nuts to it.

And the paste is fascinating! I used a fork to move it and it’s sort of a non-Newtonian liquid. Woo!

Okay, so crust. Filling. Assembly!

I got a friend with skills and a marble rolling pin to help with the first set of rolling out (I’m hoping I can use my pasta roller when I’m on my own). I rough guessed a size that’s smaller than pop tarts. My goal is to find a size that stretches my supplies while still being large enough to not get grabbed by the handful. One or two should be an intuitively obvious portion size. These ended up about 4″ x 3″ (and I think I could go a smidge smaller and have them about the size of poker cards).

I did one batch with just an egg white wash for sealing and one with a beaten egg. I think I’ll go with the beaten egg for future versions (because simpler to brush and more efficient use of stuff).

About 2 teaspoons of filling lumped in the center. And then I spread it out with my fingers because everything else seemed to just get coated in seeds more than helping to move them where I wanted. I left 1 cm margin. I can try getting a narrower margin, but too narrow might lead to disaster. And then I crimped the edges sealed with a fork and poked holes in the top.

I started the oven at 350F. And then after 10 minutes with no obvious cooking I popped it up to 425F. Total cooking time was 25 minutes, and that was a little too much (very brown, some corners just starting to burn, still entirely edible and hella tasty). Then I looked at the recipe, which was 350F for 30 minutes. So I just panicked too early.

When they were cooking, there was enough butter in the dough to lead to puddles of bubbling fat that were almost frying the pop tarts. So not okay for a toaster! But it was kind of sexy on a lined sheet pan.

When you bite in, the first taste is browned butter. And the second bite is also butter with a bit of pastry. When you get to the filling, it’s amazing. The nuts and poppy seeds are a lovely texture among the crispy pastry flakes and I’m not going to worry about grinding the poppy seeds at all for the future. And the honey is a great balance to the butter. It’s sweet, but not too sweet. They’re going to make the best breakfast.

So plans for the future:

* reduce butter per 2 cups of flour from 1 cup to 3/4 cup (12 tablespoons)

* try rolling out with pasta roller

* Cut to 3.5″ x 2.5″

* Poppy seed & almond is great. Also try sesame seed & hazelnut.

* Make 75 of each flavor; 150 total. Freeze before baking.

Bake Sales are a challenge for me, as I’m new to baking. I’ve been calling myself new and baking for a couple years now, and it’s going to continue for a few years more because it’s still feels like a risky adventure every time.

I came to this recipe over the winter, when my friend Smittywing made a double batch for the Death Bi Chocolate bake sale. It was quick to put together and the ingredients were rather straightforward.

Having lost the recipe, I googled around and found several people with the recipe, and Post Punk Kitchen even attributed it to having come from Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar, so I’m mentioning that.

I am, however, changing almost half of the ingredients… slightly. And I’ve changed the name.

Ever since Chocolat, I have been aware of the adding of chili to chocolate and calling it exotic, and frequently also calling it Mexican. Also, I’m lucky enough that one of my local supermarkets has a good selection of Mexican and Central American food items. And, really, Mexican chocolate comprises a wide variety of spices and blends, and it’s also more about the processing of the original chocolate, as far as I understand. And I’d rather have my cultural appropriation from long dead people… I don’t know, actually. I just know that I wasn’t comfortable re-using the title this time. Your mileage may vary. (here, have David Lebovitz’s write up of Mexican Hot Chocolate)

Spice Hot Chocolate Snickerdoodles

Preheat oven to 350F

Dump into the bowl of the mixer: 1 cup almond oil (being sure to use the 1/2 cup measure twice), 1/2 cup sorghum syrup (which now pours smoothly out of the greased measuring cup), 2 cups sugar, 6 Tablespoons unsweetened unflavored soy milk, 5 teaspoons spiced rum, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon kojinte cinnamon*, 1 teaspoon aleppo powder*.

Start the mixer going slowly, and then incorporate as you go: 2 cups all-purpose flour, 1 1/3 cups whole wheat flour, 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, 1 teaspoon baking soda.

Voila! Dough! (Okay, so it’s still a good idea to stir a little by hand and scrape the sides to make sure the edges and bottom are fully mixed). The end result is very stiff.

Mix together come cinnamon sugar in a small dish. I didn’t measure. If you do, the proportions in the recipe were: 1/3 cup sugar | 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Now I was going to present these in snack sized bags… and I thought they’d be lovely to dip into coffee… so I made thick, stumpy cylinder shapes. Don’t do this. Once they are flattened and baked, they look distinctly unappetizing. But they were very tasty, fit into the baggies, and would have been good dipped into a wide variety of beverages. You should make them round! The recipe suggests walnut-sized, rolled in sugar, and then flattened a bit. Mine did not spread much, so what you see is pretty much what you get.

On the other hand, what you feel is not what you get. It says to bake each batch for 10-12 minutes. And I ended up putting the first batch in for another 5 minutes because a quick poke test had them feeling exactly the same as when they went in. Apparently that’s perfectly normal for snickerdoodles, and they ended up being delightfully cookie-like when cooled, even though they seemed like they were still doughy fresh from the oven.

*I’ve bumped the spices up higher in the order, because my dough didn’t end up evenly mixed and some cookies were definitely spicier than others. (also those flavor varieties are chosen simply because they were what I had on hand, not because they’re better than any other cinnamon or hot pepper powder)

Also a note if you are making them for a bake sale, too – obviously, you don’t want to put them inside a bag until after they have fully cooled. Otherwise, the steam will condense on the inside of the bag and turn your cookies soggy and your sugary coating to slimy syrup. Luckily, I had 14 little labels and ingredients lists to write up while these not-so-pretties cooled.

Growing up, Passover was one of 2.5 Jewish holidays my family would celebrate.

My uncle, while he was alive, was a strong presence leading the seder with charisma and a mischievous delight in tradition. After his death, my aunt was more thoughtful and pursued discussion and commentary. Passover was the time of year I spoke most openly about Judaism at my public school, taking in butter, matzoh, and salt, and sharing with my classmates. In college I learned even more about it during that one year I was dating someone more observant than I (and she has since gone on to become a rabbi). The first time I got drunk was at Passover, and I’ll still argue passionately in favor of the richness of the cheap, sweet, syrupy Passover wines of my youth (and have so argued on this blog).

It’s a holiday that has a strong emphasis on food. On problematic food. On being rushed and hurried and fleeing servitude so that bread could not rise. It’s a holiday of learning rules through food and exploring the Jewish way of reasoning from text to law through centuries of debate and logic. It’s about learning logical discourse and boolean algebra through food. And unlike my approach to gluten free cooking (bread? Whatever – let’s eat rice! And all sorts of things are fun without wheat!), this holiday requires that you deal with the matzoh. It’s not enough to eat leavened bread, but it is also required encouraged that you partake of the food that is problematic. And that leads to creativity and weirdness and often some rather dry and tasteless food.

But you know me, and creativity and weirdness are favorites of mine. I love this holiday, but I’ve never cooked for it before. I love this holiday, but I’ve never hosted it before. But now I have a house.

And I had a friend who pinged me and mentioned that she really, really liked matzoh and could there be acquiring of it? And I took that question and replied, “Well, I guess I could host Passover.”

So I invited some friends…

And had 21 RSVPs. Including my parents, jews and non-jews, the proudly child free and three children, people who keep kosher and people who only vaguely know that ham and cheese sandwiches are problematic, vegetarians and people who refuse to eat vegetables, and also the neighbor who has taken to asking for food from me (and her boyfriend).

From them, there were the following contributions: My mother made her signature chopped liver and brought a fruit bowl; Lulu brought coconut macaroons; Redwizz brought his secret family recipe charoset; another friend offered stuffed mushrooms and spinach kugel (but they ended up canceling); and my boss kindly dropped off her leftovers from the first night’s seder she hosted. All the rest was up to me. I did end up at the last minute get some amazing help from Geeksdoitbetter and Carrie, and the seder would not have gone nearly as well without their (especially Geeksdoitbetter’s) help.

Appetizers

mystery dip
So my boss’s husband makes a vegan mushroom/artichoke mousse mold thing to offer vegetarians instead of gefilte fish. I plan to get his recipe. But also included with their leftovers were little matzoh sticks, so I knew there had to be dip! This was my mother’s job. It was rapidly determined that either cream cheese or sour cream would be likely to overwhelm the delicate flavor of the mousse, so it was thinned with mayonnaise. Then, because it was dip, the flavor needed to be boosted a bit, so she added oregano, hot pepper, black pepper, and salt. The result was pretty tasty but not perfect.

chopped liver with little matzoh crackers

(not included were the pitted dates I split up the side and stuffed walnut quarters into. I was going to toss them in the over with honey, salt, and pepper, according to an ancient roman recipe, until just warm enough to be soft and pliable. Instead, a few were nibbled just stuffed.)

Seder

Charoset Okay, so my family’s recipe is hand cut apples with crumbled walnuts, cinnamon, and red wine. Redwizz’s family recipe is apples, dates, orange juice, almonds, and cinnamon, mixed in a food processor until it looks like mortar. Oddly, they don’t taste all that different, and his is easier to eat on matzoh (as well as being acceptable to those who do not imbibe).

First Course

I gave the diners a choice among potatoes (roasted leftovers from my boss – and surprisingly tasty), hard boiled eggs (using these directions from Coconut and Lime with great results), and gefilte fish from a can.

Second Course

Chicken Soup with Matzoh Balls and/or Noodles – I make stock all the time. I make flavorful stock! And I had a bag of vegetable ends in desperate need of a round of stock making. What is more, when I was out in the Italian Market questing for chicken fat (which can not be found there!), I happened to be in line behind someone buying a quantity of chicken wings and asking for the tips to be thrown away, so I managed to acquire them for free. But I was using a larger pot than I’m used to, and even though I increased the amount of vegetables and spices accordingly, it still tasted like water after hours of cooking. Like water! So I ended up getting a (small) whole chicken just for the stock. And then it had flavor! But that was surprisingly stressful.

The matzoh balls were also a little scary. I was sure I could do it, but I kept being sure I could do it later and procrastinating it farther and farther off. Until Carrie showed up and offered to help, and I managed to talk her into making them even though she’d never seen nor tasted them before. I gave her all of the directions I’d accumulated from my grandmother (who made amazing ones) – use the recipe on the matzoh meal box and don’t handle them much) and set her to it. And they turned out a little dense, but they floated and were tasty

The noodles were storebought and standard. I’m glad I didn’t make them too far ahead because by the time the meal was over and we went to clean the pot they had turned into a gelatinous mess.

Main Course

I decided to go with both dairy and meat options (just nothing mixed) and let people choose their own adventures. I had also planned several parve/vegan dishes, but those (accidentally, I swear) ended up being the ones cut from the menu once it was clear there was plenty food.

Meat

Mark Bittman’s Braised Lamb with Horseradish and Parsley

I love that this dish incorporates food mentioned as historically relevant in the service, and I love that it’s braised – eliminating the holiday’s tendency toward dry meats. The lamb shoulder was sourced from Esposito’s, and they were willing to remove the bone and package it separately for me. They also had special seder plate lamb bone sections, but since I was already buying a lamb bone, I just went with the shoulder piece. I bought three shoulders – two in the 3 pound range and 1 in the 5 pound range. And there was a lot of painstaking trimming of fat from that cut that I’m not sure was necessary, but the end product was succulent and beautiful.

Right, so the first step was taking all of the bones, roasting them, and them adding them to a pot with some vegetables to make stock (and then cleaning them and roasting the three prettiest for the seder plate).

Then I took the huge dutch oven my mother bought me as a housewarming present (my first one of my own! At the time I wasn’t sure I’d use one that big, but I’ve already used it a lot) and browned the lamb cubes in batches, sprinkling with salt and pepper. Even with the olive oil, the lamb still stuck a bit – and I suspect it might have released if I’d waited for a proper sear, but I could not resist stirring the meat a good bit.

When I was on the last batch for browning and it was looking just about done, I added the slivered garlic and let that cook for a bit together. Then in went a glug of manischewitz concord grape (the recipe allows for white wine, but I love cooking with the manischewitz too much) and the lamb stock. And then the rest of the meat… which possibly should have gone in before the stock because I had to be very careful not to splash.

And I simmered the lamb for several hours and then didn’t add the peeled fresh horseradish (because I was scared and it was incredibly tasty without) until the last half hour of cooking, overnight, and the reheating on the day, but it didn’t end up changing the flavor much at all.

I almost forgot the parsley sauce, and few people used it – but I made it thick, with just a minimal amount of oil and vinegar (done by sight, so I have no measurements for you). It was delicious, and I’ve enjoyed using it up at leftovers – stirred into sour cream dip for chips and mixed in with egg salad)

Lemon Thyme Chicken

I feel a bit bad about this one. It has been so long since I’ve paid money for meat, that I’d planned to only spend money on ethical meat. And there I was at the farmers market staring at the $14/pound meat when this was already the most expensive meal I’d ever made and I’d been buying tables and chairs and a sink! And I walked away (after buying 4 dozen eggs) and bought cheap meat at the grocery store, where I bought enough thighs and breast meat to feed everyone for about $14. Next year I’ll do better.

Right, so step one was to peel and thickly slice an onion or two and to lay them in the bottom of the casserole dish (this adds moisture and keeps the meat from cooking to the dish, making cleanup easier).

Then I took a jar of pre-peeled garlic and shook enough into the dish to give more even coverage for the bottom – it doesn’t have to be perfect. And I tossed in about 10 oil-cured black olives to round out the flavor.

I arranged the chicken so that the thighs (with skin and fat) were around the outside and the breasts (skinless and cut into thigh-sized pieces, so three pieces per half) were filling in the center.

On top of that came freshly cut thyme (on the stem) and roughly-cut chunks of lemon. I usually make this dish with rosemary, so I used too little thyme to affect the chicken as much as I wanted, so in future I’d recommend really piling the stems on or/and also dusting with powdered thyme.

If you have more of the breast meat, you can also add a swig of wine and start the cooking process with aluminum foil over to keep it from drying. There were enough thighs (roughly half the meat) in this batch that no additional liquid was needed and it was fine uncovered. It went into the 350F oven right before we started reading, so let’s say it cooked for an hour and a half. I have, however, accidentally overcooked this dish by as much as an hour and had no ill effects or drying of the meat.

Dairy

Kale and Feta Matzoh Pie

This recipe was inspired by Gourmet’s Spinach and Matzoh Pie, but I was already supposed to have someone bringing spinach kugel and I love the more bitter greens. Really, this recipe was begging for some kale!

I bought three spring tops of curly kale from Landisdale Farm at the farmers market. The day before, I shredded the kale and cooked it down with a pinch of salt (so that I’d have more room in my refrigerator).

The next day, I assembled the lasagnas.

I mixed up a pound of fresh farmers cheese (from mexico, featured in my local supermarket… tasted like try, crumbly sour cream with a bit more culturing), 2 cups whole milk, 3 eggs, freshly ground nutmeg, and some salt and pepper, in a bowl with a fork. It was fine, even without the blender.

And I ended up with two casserole dishes almost exactly the size of a piece of matzoh, so I used one to soak the pieces in the 2 cups of the mixture while assembling in the other… and then just laid the rest of the pieces on top to assemble the second one. There didn’t seem to be any difference between the dish that had been oiled and the one that hadn’t when it came time to serve.

Then I finely diced an onion and reheated the cooked kale, squeezing out the moisture as I went. I also minced and threw in about a quarter cup of fresh dill.

Once the moisture was mostly evaporated, I stirred the kale into the remaining egg/dairy mixture and crumbled in a good half of the pound of feta I’d bought from my local halal.

Then I assembled: matzoh, filling, matzoh, filling, matzoh – matzoh, filling, matzoh, filling, matzoh. And I had just enough filling left to put a very thin layer on the top of both – perfection. And I crumbled almost all of the rest of the feta on top (let’s say 3 ounces per dish).

This was baked ahead and served only slightly warmed. It was delicious! I love the body of the kale in this, and I can’t image spinach being nearly as good.

It even freezes and reheats well! I love this dish! Such a success.

Greens and Quinoa Pie

This was my very first time tackling quinoa. I know that’s delinquent of me, but still. The grains were smaller than I expected, and there was no way they were going to be cooperative in a strainer for rinsing and draining – so I soaked them. Only then the toasting process was unfortunate, and I had to give up on that step. Perhaps toasting them dry and then soaking them next time.

So I cooked 3/4 of a cup of quinoa (because I’d eyeballed the amount and had no use for a quarter of a cup, so I went ahead and cooked it all) and set it aside until I was ready to deal with making the dish.

In my largest skillet, I cooked the romaine and some other lettuce-y head that was pale and spiky (but not frissee) and bitter enough to be related to chicory. Then I tossed them into a strainer in the sink and squeezed them occasionally as guests started trickling in and milling about the kitchen.

The last thing I did before settling people into the dining room to start the seder was to assemble the skillet of cooked onions, green onions, dill, cooked quinoa, and squeezed cut up lettuces.

Once we started taking turns reading the story of Passover, I sneaked back a couple times into the kitchen (and hid the afikomen) to get it cooked, the three eggs beaten and added, and the cheese – the remaining 2 ounces of feta and the last of the stichelton from my cheese tasting. And then I popped it into the 350F oven (in the skillet, not juggling the whole transfer to a pie plate) to finish cooking evenly.

It turned out pretty tasty, froze well, and received praise from the one guest who claimed to love quinoa. While filling and sturdy, I’m not sure it was exceptional enough to make next year.

Golden Gratin – Yam & Apricot Casserole (could have been vegan)

There is no good reason why this dish isn’t parve and vegan! No good reason! But for some reason the recipe is made for it to be meat, and there’s a tendency among the commenters to make it dairy, too. Having made it, I say that it would lose nothing from being vegan.

So you peel your orange-fleshed sweet potatoes or yams and cut them into chunks.

Then you make a base syrup out of apricot nectar (I was planning up substitute orange juice, but my coop just happened to have a bottle of apricot nectar across from the check out – and I just used the one bottle, which was less than 4 cups, but whatever)… and then the recipe calls for a cup of chicken broth. Why, recipe? Why? I happened to have a quart jar of oolong tea hanging out, so that was a perfect substitution. Other substitution options would be orange juice, white grape juice, water, or vegetable stock.

The recipe then called for 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted pareve margarine. I used 3 Tablespoons of butter because I don’t believe in margarine. Honestly? I could have skipped the butter entirely, and that might have improved the dish.

Then 1/2 cup chopped dried apricots. I had bought Turkish Apricots from nuttyguys.com on a Groupon without a purpose a while back, and they went into this. Geeksdoitbetter cut them into quarters (and she peeled the yams and washed the kale and did all kinds of things to make this dinner go).

So the apricots cook with the nectar and tea with some cinnamon and black pepper and then you add the yams and cover and cook until the yams are fork tender. At this point, I put them up until the next day.

I was careful to keep the chunks of sweet potato intact in the repackaging so they’d still be individual pieces the next day, and they were delicious.

On the next round, when I served the leftovers a few days later, I mashed them into a smooth yamy puree and topped them with a crumble topping of 1/4 cup rolled oats (not kosher for passover), 1/4 cup matzoh meal, 1/8 cup matzoh flour, 1/4 cup brown sugar, and as much olive oil and neccessary to get it the right amount of crumbly. Baked for 40 minutes, and it was de-light-ful. Well, it was a (potentially vegan, and it would have been fine) sweet potato casserole with a crumble topping – what’s not to love?

Parve / Vegan dishes

Asparagus

The Soup Vixen helped me acquire half a flat of asparagus from the Italian Market. I was going to roast them right before serving… and that didn’t happen. So now I have a pickling and canning project. Woo!

Dandelion Greens

Come on – what says bitter greens and spring time so much as dandelions? These were (again last minute, so didn’t happen) going to be quick sauteed with olive oil and vast quantities of garlic.

Carrot Casserole

These were going to be cut into coins in the food processor and baked with a little liquid (probably vegetable stock) and some za’atar seasoning. This was the first recipe to be abandoned because I found the golden gratin, but I still bought the carrots

Savory Red Pepper and Onion Matzo Brei (not vegan)

Also would have been tasty, but was a dish that sounded best made last minute.

Dessert

Coconut Macaroons

My friend has a quest to find the perfect coconut macaroon recipe, so I made doe eyes at her for many of them for Passover. And it worked – she made 4 batches.

Only there was an error in the handing down of the familial coconut macaroon recipe, and this try called for 2 egg whites per package of coconut (instead of the 1 called for by the condensed milk people)… and that made the recipe harder for her than it should have been. Apparently the extra egg pools out into eggy feet around the base of each macaroon, and she had to tear them off individually. (also, her dishwasher broke mid macaroon making)

That said, the macaroons were soft and sinfully delicious and way better that the dusty, dry ones from the boss’s Passover leftovers. I brought the leftover macaroons to work, and there was so much praise!

My friend, however, is still looking for an even more perfect recipe. The condensed milk flavor was more noticeable than she wanted and there was the egg issue, but the ease of the recipe was a big plus.

Walnut-Date Torte

Whooo! So my stand mixer is also new so me, so this was my first time whipping egg whites. It was amazing. It was a miracle that I didn’t eat the sugar/whipped egg white mixture with a spoon. I can see meringues in my future. Pavlovas with summer fruit.

Right, so the walnut stuffed date appetizers (which didn’t happen) and the dates for this cake were prepped at the same time. I just took my measuring cup and every time the date was dry or not pretty or didn’t split easily, it was cut into bits (quarters the long way, and then 4-5 slices down the length). I ended up with slightly over a cup and a half from that method, which was exactly what the recipe called for. Then I added the half a cup of boiling water and let it sit to hydrate.

For the walnuts, I just learned that the way that entry is written explicitly means you measure the 1 1/2 cups of walnuts, then toast them, and then chop them. Done!

And then I got out the food processor my sister got me (which I absolutely did not steal from KitchenMage) as a housewarming to chop the walnuts with 1/4 cup light brown sugar until finely ground. Then the recipe calls for 2/3 cup matzoh meal, but I’d misread the recipe before shopping and also bought matzoh flour for just this recipe, so I was determined to use it! So in went 1/3 cup matzoh meal and 1/3 cup matzoh flour, 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom, and a pinch of salt.

Instead of orange zest, I just happened to have some orange peel soaking in water in my fridge awaiting accumulating enough to candy… so I minced up an eighth of a cup of blanched, soaking (so much milder than fresh) orange peel and added it to the dates. I really liked this change.

I beat the egg whites until the looked like they were thinking about peaks, and then I started slowly adding the remaining 1/2 cup white sugar. And the volume didn’t increase as much as I was expecting, so I might have beat slightly longer than requested, but they were holding stiff, glossy peaks and looking lovely when I did stop. They made that lovely crinkly sound when you fold into them.

But first – the 4 yolks get mixed into the dates and orange peel. First the dates were added to the egg whites and folded in, and then the nuts and flour were folded in. This was seriously one of the most delicious cake batters ever! (And I’m a devoted batter eater. I find the batter is almost always significantly tastier than the end product, and this was no exception).

I had enough batter for two medium (8″?) pie plates. It baked at 350F for 40 minutes until a toothpick came out clean (I didn’t notice the springing away from the edge of the pan phenomenon), and I served it in the pan.

It was okay and definitely decent on the first day.

By the second day, however, it was nice! You should definitely make this 1-3 days ahead. You know what was also nice? Drizzling it with cointreau! It’s in the good fruitcake family, and it does well being treated that way.

9
Apr

Black Cocoa Brownies with Orange and Clove

   Posted by: Livia Tags:

Back in February, I tried making brownies for the first time (yes, I’m including any potential boxed mixes).

What changed my mind? Well, two things: Michael Ruhlan’s Ratio and it’s very persuasive argument in favor of weighed ingredients and inspiration grounded in math; and the accidental acquisition of a pound of Black Cocoa due to kind customer service after a box with an combined order with several friends was damaged.

And then into that willingness to bake brownies, Smitten Kitchen offered up a recipe she claimed to be the Best cocoa brownies ever, and she should know from brownies. (and SK found/adapted the recipe from Alice Mendrich’s Bittersweet)

Right, so brownies.

Now some people would know enough about cocoa powder to be a little intimidated by having the wrong (more alkali processed) kind, but this did not deter me as this was the kind of cocoa powder I had to experiment with. Or they might be intimidated by not having a brownie pan… but I had a casserole dish that looked to be of good dimensions for brownies. And I didn’t line it with parchment paper, just greased it with butter.

But other than that, I totally followed the recipe exactly. Probably.

Black Cocoa Brownies with Orange and Clove

Go ahead and preheat the oven to 325F

And bring out your double boiler. Okay, so SK admits that this step can probably be done in the microwave, but I have a double boiler that has been sitting unused since I acquired it for free about 4 years ago, so I used a double boiler. Put water in the bottom, but not too much – simmer.

Dump 141 grams (if I’ve got the scale out and the author is kind with the measurements, hell yes I’m going to use them ~g~) of butter (1 1/4 sticks) into the double boiler. Top with 280 grams of sugar. She used all white sugar; I did about 100 grams of brownulated sugar and 180 grams of white. Add a generous 1/4 teaspoon of kosher salt. And add your cocoa powder (82 grams) – black, in this case. Stir it from time to time, breaking up the butter, until it’s an evenly grainy base.

Then pour in 1/2 tsp vanilla extract I scraped in some vanila seed from about half a bean. Because that’s what I had in my apartment.

Add 2 eggs, one at a time, beating them in well, but without splashing because that black cocoa powder is really hard to clean up. The mixture should look nice and shiney when you’re through.

Add 66 grams of all purpose flour, stirring it in so that it is thoroughly incorporated. And then even more stirring for good measure (she says 40 strokes). (Oh, and she also has everything off the heat by this point. I was enamored of my double boiler enough that I just turned the burner off and did not separate the top from the water.)

At this point, I tasted the batter – because batter is delicious. And it was very dark in flavor as well as appearance. So I took and orange and zested the entire rind into the batter. And then I crushed the heads of about 15 cloves into the batter (tasting/smelling at intervals to see whether the flavor seemed right).

And then I added a bunch of broken walnuts into the mix and stirred it up thoroughly.

Pour into my greased casserole dish of shame…

And bake.

And here’s where I ran into difficulty. The original recipe called for 20-25 minutes. SK’s ran about 35 minutes. Mine ran about 45 minutes, even with (because of?) enthusiastic toothpick testing.

The first batch wasn’t so good.

It went almost immediately from gooey pudding to a brownie impersonating a brick rather quickly. Actually, it was sort of like biscotti, so the overcooking did not stop me from eating almost half of the pan by myself.

So I appealed for help on Twitter. And I called friends. And my mom. And in general I did not take it well because everything had seemed to be going so well until those last nail-biting 20 minutes.

And apparently you should take it out still a bit moist and just trust in it cooking further… or eating it with a spoon.

So I made a second batch. And it was much improved. My co-workers gave my baking the seal of approval. And my foodie co-worker approved this recipe as my entry into the… wait for it…

Philadelphia Food Blogger Bake Sale for Share Our Strength
April 17, 2010, 10am – 3pm
A Full Plate Cafe, on Liberties Walk (1009 N. Bodine St Philadelphia, PA 19123)

April 17, 2010 - National Food Bloggers Bake Sale for Share Our Strength

Here’s some of the explanatory text from foodaphilia/Baker E‘s launch post:

On April 17th Food Bloggers from Philadelphia will be gathered with goodies for sale from their home kitchens in order to raise money for Share Our Strength. Funds raised through Great American Bake Sale support Share Our Strength’s efforts to end childhood hunger in America. Nearly 17 million— almost one in four—children in America face hunger. Despite the efforts of governments, private-sector institutions and everyday Americans, millions of our children still don’t have daily access to the nutritious meals they need to live active, healthy lives. Click for more information on Share Our Strength.

Philadelphia’s Great American Bake Sale is being held on April 17th from 10am till 3pm at A Full Plate Cafe on Liberties Walk (1009 N. Bodine St Philadelphia, PA 19123) in Northern Liberties (yes, this is the restaurant where I bake full-time) and snag goodies made by some of Philly’s most beloved food bloggers! I’m donating some Cookies ‘n Cream Whoopie Pies to the event and I know Sabrina of Rhodey Girl Tests is going to whip up some of her delectable chocolate and candy covered pretzel rods.

So, if you’re a fan of food blogs, or just want to do your part to ensure kids across the country are getting the nutritious food they need, come on out to the National Food Bloggers Bake Sale and spend some money! All proceeds benefit Share Our Strength. If you can’t make it to the bake sale, but would like to donate to the cause, please visit this link to make a safe and secure donation.

If you’re a food blogger in Philly or the surrounding area and would like to donate a goodie to the bake sale, please contact Julie at jmdenouden@gmail.com and visit her post of the Great American Bake Sale here.

AND That will be a convenient break from the other amazing thing happening in the city that weekend –

The Free Library Festival!
Saturday & Sunday, April 17 & 18, 2010

1
Apr

Cobbler-esque

   Posted by: Livia Tags: , , ,

I’ve always refused to look in a cookbook for a recipe for cobbler or crisp or anything that is pretty much baked fruit. It’s so easy, it should just be intuitive.

And I’m sure no one is surprised that my results have usually be disappointing. Well, no one other than me. It’s always a surprise.

So there I was with a package of blueberries from a month ago that wasn’t moldy or rotten, just a bit wrinkled, and nothing to do with it other than some kind of baked fruit joy.

So I got out two ramekins. And a tart green apple.

I diced the apple, and I added half to one ramekin and half to the other. Then I picked through the blueberries and split them evenly between the ramekins, too.

Also, for added complication, I wanted a lot of flavor out of as few calories as possible, so I did not put a pat of butter into each of these. Nor did I add a lot of sugar.

I added to each about half a teaspoon of vanilla sugar from Marx Food*, a healthy dash of Korintje cinnamon, and a pinch of salt.

And then that was it for the first one, and it was ready to pop into the oven.

For the second one, I tried a crust.

I mixed together 2 heaping teaspoons of old fashioned rolled oatmeal, roughly the same quantity of leftover cooked brown rice, 1 heaping teaspoon of Trader Joe’s whole wheat baking mix (think Bisquik), and half a teaspoon of Demerara sugar. Mix together first, then spread over the top of the fruit.

And then I baked it for a while in a 350F oven. I didn’t time it, just kept peeping at it while I was cooking something else. I’ll guess they stayed in for about half an hour.

results – crustless
It was tart!

But I’d spent the cooking time also looking through my Weight Watchers cookbook for light dessert recipes, and I’d come across a beverage with added lime juice and I hadn’t noticed that it was a drink at first. And that just seemed right.

So I tried adding lime juice to the already tart baked fruit. And it was amazing! It was a gooey, bubbly dessert that also felt refreshing. Would make again. Don’t know if my friends would like it – but a lump of ice cream on top would probably mellow it out nicely.

When I took the first one out, the crust still wasn’t looking like a cohesive crust. So, I sliced a thin teaspoon of butter off the stick and lay that on top to melt in. And that worked well.

About 10 minutes later, when I’d finished the first dessert (only took so long because it had needed time to cool down from molten), I pulled out the 2nd cobbler.

results – with crust
I loved this. The rice dried out a little and got crunchy, but I thought that was delicious. The topping was a good mix of crispy and chewy, and it had a lot of the richness I like even it is wasn’t packed full of butter. The exact same fruit ended up tasting not nearly as tart with the starchy topping.

So – FINALLY – I’ve had a random experiment with cobbler turn out as joyous as I’d hoped.

*After I reviewed the Black Garlic the sent me for free, they sent me a mix box (related to a mix tape, I’m sure) of more things to try. Also for free. There was not any expectation of more fun from the first experiment, but there is a bit of a relationship now. And now a review of their vanilla sugar:

I have a friend who regularly orders vanilla beans from Penzey’s and makes her own vanilla sugar from scratch. In most cases, when given a choice between regular sugar and the vanilla, I prefer the plain. In fact, I’d pretty much only use it as a substitute for vanilla extract, which I don’t keep on hand either. No, I don’t do much baking. But this seemed a perfect time for a bit of extra.

They use a fine sugar, which is almost a confectioners sugar. I don’t know if it’s thicker because it’s a different grade or because of the additional vanilla, but it seemed a slightly different texture. Oh, hey – there’s a picture/explanation on their website. I think I like their sugar better for just popping on my tongue… not that I did that a lot. :) But I don’t know that there’s much functional difference in a setting where you can’t enjoy the texture. It would make a lovely dusting for a chocolate bundt cake.

10
Jan

Black Garlic experiments

   Posted by: Livia Tags: , , , ,

About a month ago (at the start of December) Marx Foods ran a promotion where they’d offer esoteric food items to food bloggers willing to write up reviews. And, honestly, this was my first ever shot at free food just because I have this hobby, so I gleefully bopped on over and signed up.

And also for full disclosure, I found out about the company in the first place because my friend, Meghan, had been to their site and entered a photo contest that had scored her some vanilla beans, of which she spoke highly.

So of three choices, I asked to try the Black Garlic because earlier in the year there had been a wave of food bloggers trying out this ingredient, too, and it’s appeal seemed to come from its flavor as well as its novelty value.

And right away I had to change my shipping address and had to try out their customer service – and received prompt emails back from Justin Marx on a weekend. Wow! And he was very supportive of my little amateur blog and every welcoming even though many of the things he sells just seem way out of my league / price range. So I am very impressed by them.

But how impressive is the black garlic?

Scent – I had it shipped to my work address, and I could not resist opening the package and poking at it right away. At first it didn’t seem to have much scent, but then I left the office to do something, and I came back to realize that there was quite a strong, dark garlic scent all through my office. Oh, yeah. I am full of professionalism. Luckily, no one has to share the office with me. But it made me very hungry for the rest of the day.

It ended up arriving at a fairly busy time for me, and the first recipe I made from it was born of a need for simplicity. That Friday, was the Philadelphia Food Bloggers pot luck, and I’d been planning to make stuffed dates… and then just didn’t have any time to assemble them. So I went with an incredibly easy cream cheese dip instead.

Recipe 1 – flavored cream cheese with crackers
I made two side-by-side bowls of dip.

Garlic & Parsley Cream Cheese

Garlic (3 cloves minced black garlic in one, 5 cloves mashed roasted garlic in the other)
12 ounces neuchatel cheese
large bunch of flat leaf parsley, minced (the last from the summer garden)
2 Tablespoons finely minced purple onion
pinch of salt

So with exactly the same recipe, I set out to see what people thought the differences were.

First off – after a full day at work, the cream cheese with the black garlic needed to be mixed up with a fork again to be presentable because the brown color had seeped out into the surrounding cheese. (And with the leftovers, it continued to spread and blend into the cream cheese until there was an even mocha color – I might recommend making this 2-3 days ahead for maximum joy)

No one thought there was a licorice flavor to the black garlic spread. Descriptions tended more toward round and dark and complex, but no one could quite name the difference. That said, people loved them both equally, but separately. They were not interchangeable at all.

Recipe #2 – flavored butter
So since it melted to well into the cream cheese, I figured I’d try mixing it with butter, too.

Now, I’d already read Diane’s entry from White on Rice where she found that it didn’t infuse well into oil, but I figured it would not only be useful to confirm her results, but also be useful for extending the experiment – since I’d only acquired 2 heads of garlic.

And, no, the garlic didn’t melt into the butter at all. But it was still tasty spread on bread. My favorite experiment at this stage was making toast with the black garlic butter and a thin smear of thick, smooth Frontera salsa.

Texture: The reason so many descriptions of black garlic evoke licorice is that’s exactly what it looks like coming out of the papery husk. The paper skin is so thin, there’s not more than a single layer between you and the clove, but the clove has shrunk down to a thick black nub. It’s dry and squishy and a bit sticky/tacky as you but into it. Putting it in the freezer doesn’t change its texture much at all and doesn’t make it easier to slice. I ended up resenting the fine layer it would leave behind on my knife because I had so little to work with.

Experiment #3 – Black garlic in mushroom barley
I’d been trying to hold out against a Black Garlic Risotto recipe because that would be too ridiculously easy. How could black garlic not be tasty in that set up? But I caved because the taste matched exactly a Roman barley recipe, which I made for my last Roman cooking workshop (and, huh, never got around to writing up) and had promised myself I would revisit. So a cold night and much starch and there was a tasty, garlicy meal of joy. Guaranteed crowd pleaser. I’ll get my copy of Apicius and try to remember to make a separate entry for that one, but trust me – it’s a lot like risotto.

Taste: So it doesn’t taste quite like garlic, so what does it taste like? Well, darker and rounder and definitely umami… but that’s not helpful. The best description is that it tastes like garlic breath – everything around the flavor of garlic, without the obvious front taste. It’s dark and musky, but it’s all around the edges of flavor without confronting you directly.

Experiment #4 – Chocolate Truffles
Now I was a little dubious about this from the start, but the Marx Food people has promised this would be useful for savories or sweets. And they had even offered up a chocolate truffle recipe. Having read it, I’m kind of dubious about their preparation – which has a regular truffle center, rolled in minced black garlic. I think the garlic would end up too chewy and right there on your tongue.

So I set about to make the garlic part of the filling. I mixed together butter and garlic again, and I added as much chocolate as necessary to keep it from being overwhelmingly butter. I added enough sugar to make it feel like dessert, but I also added some salt and smoked paprika to bring out the smokier notes. I chilled this and dipped it in a pretty dark chocolate coating (a ratio of 2 squares unsweetened to 1 square semi-sweet Ghirardelli chocolate) and then garnished with a dusting a regular paprika.

And… it turned out bad. Not devastatingly bad, but not something I want to eat. Other people who tried it described it as a flavor explosion. But it wasn’t a pleasing one by my call, and I threw out the untried ones, instead of taking them home with me. (right, and I also need to write up the other, more sucessful, truffle recipes)

Experiment #5 – Black Garlic omelet
So I had just one clove left, and I decided to go with something I knew would be good. I sliced it very thinly, and I fried them crisp in a teaspoon and a half of bacon fat.

note: it was hard to track their cooking progress because they were already black. I don’t know why this didn’t occur to me before, but yeah worth pointing out.

And then I scrambled together an egg and almost an equal quantity of light cream. Poured in just enough to coat the pan, pulled the garlic slices back into the pan so they were evenly distributed, and rolled out a soft, luscious omelet of pure bliss!

(Note: this same trick of frying slices of garlic was also used in Steamy Kitchen‘s experiment, where she made Scallops with Black Garlic)

Conclusion: This was a lot of fun to try, and I’d definitely use them again… but I’m not sure it’s something I’ll feel the need to seek out.

30
Dec

planning a truffle experiment

   Posted by: Livia Tags: ,

I’m taking off work tomorrow, and I have vague plans to make truffles all day. I suspect I lack most of the useful knowledge, skills, and tools – but I have about 4 pounds of chocolate, and how bad can that be?

So I’m pondering possible flavor combinations. Let me know what you think.

1) Black Garlic. I got some as a free sample from Marx Foods to review on my blog. So far I’ve made three savory things, and I should make a sweet for comparison. Even the sweet recipe sample on their blog is a truffle – only they just roll the chocolate in a coating of garlic, and that sounds nasty.

So here’s the plan – make garlic butter, add extra salt and maybe some hard cheese. Swirl enough semi-melted chocolate into the butter to make it more like a buttery chocolate center than a center of butter. Make rounds, cool. Dip in dark chocolate

Topping to distinguish them from all others: I’m torn between a quarter of a pecan or some sweet paprika.

2) Earl Grey truffles

She recommends enrobing in a dark milk chocolate, so I’d need to buy more chocolate to make that happen. La la la!

If my skill is up to it, I think I want to decorate these with a drippy swirly, rather than a coating.

3) Masala truffles – I have black cardamom, instead of green. So I think I’ll crush a couple instead of steeping them whole.

Dust with curry powder (and toasted mustard seeds?)

4) vegan coconut truffles

I’d need to buy coconut… and then figure out what to do with the rest of the bag.

5) Almonds – smash some almonds, mix them with the filling

dark coating? milk coating?

dust in cinnamon/confectioners sugar

6) Spicy – center with chipotle, cloves, nutmeg, and cinnamon.

milk coating

decoration – If I stud it with a clove, do you think people will know not to eat it? Probably not. Ummm… I could tie it with a strip of cayenne pepper like raffia, but that’s still not tasty. Demerara sugar! And the extra sweet will help moderate the spicy.

7) ginger – I have ginger juice and powdered ginger. Does this also need candied ginger?

decoration – I think powdered ginger on the outside might be too strong, so how about these be the ones rolled in cocoa powder?

to buy:

18
Mar

Foodbloggers pot luck

   Posted by: Livia

So I have some leftovers from the Catladies event that really need to leave my house. I have an incredibly tasty loaf of vegan challah I have been devastating (and have sliced and frozen more than half of it, like a responsible person.

And I have two ramekins of flavored butter: honey butter (a little too weak) and chipotle butter (a little too strong).

And I have a pint of heavy cream. From the farmers’ market. From happy cows. *clings*

I really must not eat all of these on my own.

However, for the foodbloggers potluck, I think I shall be making more cabbage/beet shred that was so tasty and healthy.

Can you think of anything else I could make that would use up a lot of dairy products? Without also making bread to go with it because baking is not my forte, and while I’ll go it in front of friends, I am not going to do it for food bloggers.

And I just don’t think a spicy, buttery bread pudding would work too well. …huh.

Okay, so if you got a tough multi-grain bread… like the spelt from Metropolitan Bakery, perhaps… and then cream, eggs, honey, dried cherries, and vanilla from a bean. Brown the butter? Ooo… kind of like with the toasting?

That’s an insanely complex recipe for bread pudding. And it’s something that I’d have to be able to take to work and still have tasty at the end of the day.

Right, so no experimental bread pudding for the pot luck. Does anyone else want to experiment and try a spicy heart attack of joy sometime? The butter can keep, but the heavy cream won’t last more than a month I don’t think.

3
Feb

Cooking with Catladies – March 15, 2009

   Posted by: Livia

Okay, so I am in the planning stages of making a lovely dinner party that will benefit charity. Which charity? City Kitties. As of now, the date is March 15th, but I will make another post when there is a real announcement with a graphic and everything.

Why City Kitties and not PAWS or some local SPCA group? Because while they are also awesome, I was reading back entries of a friend’s (friend from pilates classes) livejournal and came across an entry where they had done one of these a year ago, and it fills the dinner party void in my life. So there.

So here’s the menu planning part (I really would love your feedback and suggestions):

Beverages

  • We shall provide sangria with the appetizer course, and after that it is BYOB

Appetizers (3-4 of what is listed below based on availability of ingredients)

  • pita chips & tzatziki
    pita chips: (I think I’ll make a separate post about these)

    tzatziki: drain 1 qt yogurt. Peel and finely dice 1 large to 4 small cucumbers. Stir together with 1/4 tsp jarred minced garlic.

  • Sweet potato spears with dipping sauce
    sweet potato spears: toss cut sweet potatoes with olive oil, cumin seeds, powdered garlic, ground coriander, ground black pepper, ground chipotle, and ground thyme. Bake at 400F for 20-35 minutes (depending on size up spears). Sprinkle with salt.

    dipping sauce: Sweet hot Garlic Sauce

  • Asian-style Pickled Cucumber & Carrot
    Peel cucumber in stripes and slice into 2-3mm pieces. Cut carrots into as fine slices as possible. Also cut thin slices of purple onion. Combine in a water-tight container, sprinkle with (citrus-infused) sugar and pure over 1/4c rice vinegar. Shake to mix and let sit 8-36 hours.

Soup (Choice of 1)

  • *Carrot Ginger Coconut Soup
    Heat 1 can of foreign (full fat) coconut milk until the oils separate. Fry asaphoetida, 2 inches minced ginger, and a spice mix made up of (kala jeera, black cardamom seeds, fenugreek seeds, cumin seeds, nutmeg, cinnamon, coriander, black peppercorns, and salt). After 2 minutes, add 20-ish carrots, peeled and cut into large 2-3″ pieces. Add a can of lowfat coconut milk and vegetable stock until the liquids cover the solids. Check seasoning and add salt, pepper, juice of 1 lime, and 1 tsp creamy peanut butter. When thoroughly cooked, blend until smooth. Garnish with ground chipotle, toasted slivered almonds, and possibly arugula

  • Spicy broth with tofu and avocado
    Make my usual vegetable stock with extra garlic and three kinds of pepper (fresh jalepeno, powdered chipotle, dried cayenne). Marinate tofu strips in cumin, chipotle, oregano, and lemon juice. Add tofu to hot broth and garnish with strips of avocado (and maybe fresh red hot peppers).

Main Course – Build your own soft tacos (with optional store-bought tortilla chips?)

  • Beans
    • Curry Black Beans – Sabut Urad Lajawab
      adapted from The Ultimate Dal Cookbook by Mona Verma
      Soak block beans overnight. Heat olive oil and mustard oil in a pan and fry onions until translucent. Add minced ginger, garlic, and seeded jalepeno. After a couple minutes, add turmeric; garam masala; and ground mix of roasted cumin seeds, roasted coriander seeds, and dried chillies – fry a minute until fragrant. Add drained beans, salt, and tomatoes. Cook down. Season with lime juice near the end of cooking and adjust flavors.

    • Kidney Beans
      onions, garlic, jalepeno flesh cooked down. Add kidney beans and 2 cans of stewed tomatoes. Add 1 bay leaf, thyme, oregano, cumin, chili powder, paprika. Cook down until fairly thick and mushy.
    • Thai-inspired chickpeas
      Toast finely shredded fresh coconut in a dry skillet. Add olive oil. Add finely diced purple onion. When soft, add minced garlic, minced ginger, minced jalepeno, minced cilantro stems, minced lemongrass (if available). After 1 minute, add a conservative amount of thai green curry paste. Add chickpeas (from a can, drained and rinsed), lime juice, lime zest, and a bay leaf. After a few minutes, add a mixture of vegetable stock and water and let cook until no longer loose. Let flavors sit overnight.

  • Greens
    • Kenyan Collard Greens
      Cook down thin strips of collard greens in a tiny amount of water/oil. Add vegetable bouillon cube and 5 spice powder. Add diced tomato

    • Asian-inspired Kale – ETA: not served
      Cook down kale and add a mixture of soy sauce, wasabi, minced ginger, and lemon juice.

  • Root vegetables
    • Sweet potatoes
      Roast sweet potatoes and then mash with butter, cumin, chipotle, thyme, oregano, nutmeg, sumac, salt, and black pepper (and maybe a bit of smoked paprika).

      That’s just gilding the lily. Instead, mashed roasted sweet potatoes with roasted garlic and maybe some lime juice to keep things perky. And that’s it.

    • Beet/Cabbage Shred (based on this one)
      Slice beet as thin as possible. Shred purple cabbage. Slice a purple onion thinly. Seed and slice thin matchsticks from a jalepeno or two. Toss together and dress with the following pre-mixed liquid: sugar, finely minced garlic, and a wee bit of minced ginger, rice vinegar and red wine vinegar (equal parts), olive oil, and a decently generous amount of lime juice. Toss together. Grind some black pepper and sprinkle in some cilantro. Toss again. Let sit for 15 minutes.

  • Sauteed onions and peppers
  • Sauteed mushrooms – ETA: not served
  • Cheese
    • hand shredded extra sharp cheddar – ETA: not served
    • queso fresco
  • shredded lettuce, diced tomato, minced purple onion, sliced hot peppers – ETA: not served
  • sour cream and maybe Mexican crema
  • Salsas
  • Guacamole
  • Rice
    1 cup white rice, 1 jar salsa, 1/5 tsp turmeric

Salad – ETA: not served

  • *Carrot & Garlic Salad
    blanch 2 pounds peeled carrots, toss with lemon juice. Roast carrots, 8 peeled scallions, and a head of garlic until tender. Cut carrots and scallions and mix them with the blended mix (roasted garlic, zest and juice of 1 orange, parley, salt, cinnamon, cumin, ground ginger).

  • mixed greens
  • Salad dressings
      Southwestern Ranch
      make a French dressing base (mayonnaise and ketchup), heavier on the ketchup. Stir in 6oz plain yogurt. Add taco seasoning mix from a packet.

    • Sweet Garlic and Cumin dressing
      Roast 2 heads of garlic, and squeeze every clove into a small food processor. Add slightly less than a quarter cup of honey and 2 Tablespoons of good olive oil. Dry Roast 1 Tablespoon of cumin seeds. Add some whole and grind some in a mortar and pestle. Add 2 tsp sweet red wine. Season with salt and pepper. When smooth, taste. When it’s as good as you can make it while still being too strong and a bit too sweet, add cider vinegar until you reach a pourable (but still thick) consistency.

    Dessert

    Note: Adding asterisks to the recipes that need to be tested before the dinner, Anyone interested in tasting some of these things as I go? I especially need someone who likes chickpeas.

29
Dec

Death Bi Chocolate?

   Posted by: Livia Tags:

I do not have a baking talent… or really much of any talent for desserts.

So, dear friendslist, is it a plausible goal to produce something chocolatey and tasty (but not necessarily gourmet) for the Death Bi Chocolate people by Monday noon?

Especially considering that I recently re-injured my knee with the grotty cartilage?

Ingredients should cost no more than $15 and be light enough to be hopped across the street. Preparation should be able to mostly take place sitting down.

Are there any recipes that fit these requirements? (even if I don’t make something for the event, it’ll still be great to know if such recipes exist)

I know this isn’t the best year to try my hand at participating, but it has come to my attention that this year it will be held somewhere more local than it used to be, so I’d love to see the event do well.

Plus – chocolate!

Wisdom from the comments: Epicurious Chocolate Cake, Chocolate Orgasms, Whacky Cake, French Chocolate Candy, and these fancy shaped brownies:

Fancy shaped brownies are very easy. You will need:

brownie ingredients
a sheet of parchment paper
a half sheet pan
a spatula
cookie cutters

Line the half sheet pan with the parchment paper.
Spread the brownie batter over the parchment-lined pan. Bake till set. Let cool.

Cut in shapes with the cookie cutters. Place on a serving plate. Eat the scraps.

If desired, microwave butterscotch chips or white chocolate till they melt and drizzle over the cutouts. Lick the drips off your fingers.