Tuesday, December 8, 2009

dutch random sweets

I realized I still have a ton of photos from my trip to Holland that I haven't had a chance to post about. Of course, they're all food related and of course they're mainly sweets. Take this one. These delectables were on offer at my cousin Marsha's house. She lives in the North of Holland with her lovely family.

From clockwise we have peanut cookies (kinda standard issue fare-not too exciting), but then we have these spekulaas sandwich cookies ( which are a type of gingerbread cookie that's usually in the shape of a windmill) with marzipan in the middle and then topped with slivered almonds. These are amazing -insanely dense and super sweet. Then there's the tompuce, which is the pale pink sandwich cookie with whipped cream. The top and bottom are a flaky buttery wafer that's just too good. In the middle we have some stroopwafel (which are the infamous cookies that everyone loves: two waffle-type cookies with a treacle syrup sandwiched in between). And of course some dark chocolate for good measure. Perfect after-dinner delights.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Pumpkin Molasses pie with a gluten-free walnut crust

I first made this type of pressed crust while I was still at school at the Natural Gourmet Institute. For our final project, we had to cook for over 100 people. My classmate Eileen and I were in charge of the dessert (of course!) We did this toasted walnut crust with a pecan and maple syrup filling with a side of roasted pear and ginger sorbet and a cashew vanilla ice cream. Woah, it was intense.

But back to the crust. It's super easy to make. No need to roll out dough or let it rest or sacrifice your first born to the gods of thanksgiving...  It's a great versatile crust that's also gluten free. I used a mixture of three different gluten free flours: white rice flour, potato starch and tapioca flour. They're all easy to find at any natural foods store. The brand I always see around is the Bob's Red Mill.

Now, on to the filling. I adapted this pumpkin pie recipe from the one that Millennium Restaurant in San Francisco makes for their Thanksgiving Dinner. It's vegan, so instead of using eggs, they use arrowroot (which is a starchy type flour that helps bind ingredients together and kinda give it an egg-y consistency but without the egg-y taste). They also use molasses which gives the pumpkin pie an earthy chocolatey-ness to it. Seriously, it tastes so rich and creamy, you wouldn't know it was vegan. I wouldn't say it tastes like a typical pumpkin pie, because it comes out sort of pudding like and not as solid as traditional pumpkin pies. The recipe calls for 1 1/2 cups pumpkin puree which is basically just a can of pumpkin. It's too damn labor intensive to cut up an actual  pumpkin, de-seed it, roast it and then blend it. I mean, unless you're feeling super motivated or something.

Recipe for the crust:
1 cup walnuts
1 cup gluten free flour (2 cups white rice flour, 2/3 cup potato starch and 1/3 cup tapioca flour= this yields 3 cups, but only use one cup and save the rest for another baking adventure!)
1 /8 salt
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup melted coconut oil

Combine nuts, flour and salt into bowl of food processor. Grind to a fine meal.
Add syrup and oil to the processor. Pulse to form dough. Place dough in middle of 8 or 9 inch tart pan. Using your fingertips, press dough out so that bottom and sides are evenly covered. Trim crust and discard any excess. Place tart pan in refrigerator for 10 to 15 min to chill. (I didn't bother pre-baking it because it's a pretty solid crust that doesn't get soggy when filled.)

Recipe for the pumpkin pie filling: 

Preheat oven to 350F.

1 1/2 cups pumpkin puree
2/3 cup maple syrup
3 tablespoons molasses
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced ( fresh ginger makes ALL the difference!)
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground allspice
2 teaspoons arrowroot
1/2 cup soymilk

In a food processor, combine the pumpkin puree, maple syrup, molasses, vanilla, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, allspice, arrowroot and soymilk. Process until the mixture is well combined and smooth.

Pour into pie crust and bake for about 30 to 40 minutes or until the filling has firmed up. Let cool and serve.

Serves 8 to 10

Before it was baked:

The finished product:

Monday, November 30, 2009

melk meisje

My blog namesake. The famous Vermeer painting portraying the "melk meisje" (milk girl)  or keukenmeid (kitchen maid servant) in the act of making bread pudding. 

I went and saw the original Milkmaid at the Met yesterday. The museum's written commentary about the symbol of the  milkmaid in 17th century Dutch paintings really perturbed me. First, everything is a sexual innuendo. Which wouldn't be so bad if it wasn't really all about the milkmaid being either a subservient or nefarious woman who must give in to the whims of the man or master of the house. It's ridiculously misogynistic. Most of the art critics are men and the few that are women offer very little difference of opinion, all stating that every object in the kitchen signifies the erotic. The jug is a uterine representation. The milk, alludes to the woman's overflowing sexual desires. The mortar and pestle symbolize female and male genitalia. Really?! The list goes on. It's exasperating. 

Secondly, they treat this myth of the milkmaid as a harlot as fact. As though all women who are dutch kitchen servants are waiting to be ogled by a man. Or just daydreaming about a tryst with the master of the house. Maybe she's thinking about mathematics or astronomy or how the hell to get out of this godforsaken kitchen! Of course, sadly, during the golden age in the Netherlands, women of a lower social background did need a man to get her out of an economically difficult situation. The strongest values of 17th century Netherlands that a woman could possess was domestic virtue. Sad. 

I do like, however, one view of Vermeer's works. "In the end, it is not the allusions to female sexuality that give this painting its romance or emotional resonance — it is the depiction of honest, hard work as something romantic in and of itself," states Raquel Laneri in Forbes magazine. The Netherlands was rooted in Calvinist ethics, on hard work and diligence and piety. I might not be so into the piety part, but I do like the calvinist work ethic and the need for more appreciation and acknowledgment of working class heroes, especially ones that make good bread pudding.  

Saturday, November 28, 2009

pine nut lemon rosemary shortbread cookies

Lemon. Rosemary. Pine nuts. Butter. Shortbread cookies. Thanksgiving. Goodness. This recipe is from Heidi Swanson's cooking blog. Here's the link:

Monday, November 23, 2009

citrus marinated kale salad

Eating raw kale might sound as delightful as biting into boiled brussel sprouts, but there's simple ways to make it taste good with very little effort. Kale is a highly nutritious vegetable with powerful antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties. It's very high in beta carotene, vitamin K, vitamin C and has more calcium than milk. So, you should really eat your greens! 

By marinating the kale in orange juice, lemon juice and a splash of apple cider vinegar, you get a more tender and sweet green. You could just marinate in one of these acidic choices, but I chose all three to give it a more tart and sour kick to help balance out the rich creaminess of tahini and the smokey goodness of roasted red pepper.

Here's what to do: 
Tear off the leaves of kale from its stalk (about five leaves will do)
Put into large bowl and add about 1/4 cup of orange juice and lemon juice. Finish off with a splash of apple cider vinegar (any vinegar will do)
After roasting on the stove top, put into an empty pot or bowl, cover and let it sweat for about 15 minutes. Then, remove all the burnt bits and its seeds and slice lengthwise into strips. Add to kale.
Next, thin out 1/4 cup tahini paste with water til it resembles a creamy dressing. ( I added a pinch of paprika to accent the smokiness of the pepper)
Add to kale, sprinkle some salt and pepper and there you have a healthy hearty salad.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

white bean and farro soup with mushrooms

I've been obsessed with making soups recently. They're really just so versatile and simple. I used to hate soups. The thought of chunky soup just made me queasy. But when you add beans, especially big starchy ones like great northern beans, they become rich and thick and hearty. I used farro, which is an ancient grain most closely associated with Tuscany, specifically Lucca. It's a form of wheat that's similar to barley in texture. It can get chewy in the best possible way, especially in this soup. This soup takes about 1 1/2 to 2 hours to make, but largely unattended. I didn't soak the beans beforehand. If you use canned white beans, this soup would probably only take about a half hour. This recipe has been adapted from Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything Vegetarian. An amazing cookbook.

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion, sliced
2 celery stalks, choped
2 carrots, chopped
salt and pepper
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 cup farro, uncooked
1 cup dried white beans
2 cups chopped canned tomatoes
6 cups water or veggie stock
handful of dried mushrooms (reconstituted by adding a cup of hot water and soaking for 15 min)
1/4 cup any fresh herbs. ( i had some chopped parsley)

Put oil in a large stock pot over medium heat. When hot, add onion, celery, carrots and some salt. Cook until the veggies are glossy and the onion softened, about 5 to 10 min. Add the garlic and stir. Add the reconstituted mushrooms with the soaking liquid (unless the liquid is sandy, then drain) Add the farro, beans, tomato and stock and stir.

Bring to a boil, then adjust the heat so the mixture simmers steadily. Cook until farro and beans are tender, at least an hour, adding stock or water as necessary if the mixture becomes too thick.
Stir in chopped parsley or basil and cook for another five minutes. Taste, adjust the seasonings and serve.

Makes about 4 to 6 servings

Monday, November 16, 2009

baked eggs with basil and herbed cheese

I had never baked an egg before. I just always ended up scrambling eggs or frying them. I figured baking required just too much effort. And really, eggs taste great when they're cooked these simple ways. However, I got these great little oven-proof ramekins for my birthday and thought it was about time I tried this technique out. I kept hearing all these great things about baking eggs, from how there's endless variations, it's super easy and it just looks elegant and damn adorable. Plus super tasty.

Here's what you need: 
four ramekins or a muffin tin would work too
four or more organic eggs (depends on how many you wanna make)
olive oil or any kind of oil really, for oiling the ramekins
any fresh herb ( I had basil) or dried herb (paprika would be great!)
bread crumbs
some good cheese ( i had a herbed goat milk cheese from Gouda)
sprinkle of salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Oil the ramekins. Break an egg into each one and top with breadcrumbs. You could conversely put the breadcrumbs on the bottom and then break an egg on top. Top with cheese and then the herbs. And a good sprinklin of salt and pepper. Bake for about 11 minutes or until the egg looks set. I like it a little runny and oozy. Let the ramekins cool for a bit and then eat directly from them. They turned out great. It's like a little meal full of protein, a bit of bread and some nice touch of herb. Quick, simple and they looked really damn adorable. My roommate and I ate them with little spoons and we felt kinda fancy.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

broccoli soup with homemade croutons

This head of broccoli had beautiful purple florets. The soup still turned out green though. This recipe is super easy and requires very little attention. It only consists of carrots, celery, garlic, onion and broccoli. Add water, olive oil and salt to that vegetable mixture. Use an immersion blender and you have yourself broccoli soup! Homemade croutons make it all the better.

One head of broccoli (cut into small florets)
Five medium sized carrots (chopped into 1 inch rounds)
Five celery stalks (chopped into 1 inch pieces)
One onion (sliced)
Couple cloves of garlic (left whole, with only white paper and stem removed)
1/3 cup olive oil
About 4 or 5 cups of water or veggie stock

Put the olive oil in a large stock pot at medium heat. When hot, add onions. Let the onion cook til they're shiny and a bit brown. Add celery and carrots and cook for an additional five minutes. Add water or stock and throw in the garlic cloves. Add salt. Bring to a boil and then add the broccoli. Add a couple more sprinkles of salt. Turn heat down to a simmer and let cook for about 20 minutes until the vegetables are all very soft. Remove from heat and use an immersion blender to blend all the ingredients together. Make sure not to lift immersion blender out of soup mixture or you'll get yourself soup burned!

Homemade croutons

This is undoubtedly the easiest, quickest little add on recipe to do. And it gives soups a heartier full meal element. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. All you have to do is break off pieces of stale bread, put it on a oiled baking sheet and slather with olive oil and sprinkle salt on top. Bake for about 10 minutes. Ta da! Olive oil-rich salty, crispy bread! Add generously to soup! Top with cheddar cheese if you so desire.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

savory bread pudding with collard greens

Everyone's had bread pudding. I always think of some decadent banana or chocolate pudding with soggy cookies in it, or something to that sweet effect. I never thought of creating a savory one. Well, I had all this bread that was getting stale real quick and random greens that I didn't know what to do with. Since I'm broke and need to make the most of what I got, I figured I would attempt to make a savory bread pudding. So it's not REALLY a pudding in the standard way of creaminess, but it is kinda in a casserole sorta way. There's endless variations on this. You could top it with fresh herbs like basil or chives as well.

Here's what you need: 
Two loaves stale bread
About 5 large collard greens leaves (thinly chopped with thick stems removed)
One teaspoon each of dried thyme, oregano and basil (or whatever dried herb or spice you feel like adding)
One teaspoon of salt
Two cups unsweetened soymilk
Two organic eggs
Two cups veggie broth or stock ( I used boxed and it came out fine)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees first and foremost. Then, break apart the super stale bread (old baguettes work great) and place in an oven proof glass dish along with the thinly chopped collard greens or any greens you fancy. Kale, swiss chard, dandelion. They're all lovely. Then douse them both with plenty of olive oil. Pour in the veggie broth. Sprinkle with salt. Add the unsweetened soymilk and the dried herbs. Beat the eggs briefly and stir into the bread mixture to give it some body. Omitting the eggs is fine too. Top with any ole cheese (or soy cheese!). You could totally top it with some nutritional yeast also to keep it vegan. Bake for 25 minutes. It should be done when the top pieces of bread are golden and crusty. The submerged bread will be soggy, but that good kinda soggy that's enriched with salty brothy veggie goodness. Like big fat croutons.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Thursday, November 5, 2009

deep fried cheese sticks

 A classic dutch bar food. Deep fried. Cheese. Really, that's all you need.

cheese in its many dutch-themed shapes..

I had to get a photo of this. Cheese in the shape of wooden shoes. Brilliant. And below, cheese made to look like a little dutch girl. Oh those crazy cloggers

And let's not forgot the classic cheese shape with various herbs. Traditional goodness.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

cocoa dusted pepernoten

These pebble-shaped cookie delicacies of cinnamon, cloves, ginger, nutmeg, and anise are a revamped cocoa dusted version of pepernoten (literal translation is pepper nuts!) Pure genius. If cinnamon, cloves, ginger, nutmeg and anise wasn't enough, the added goodness of cocoa take into a whole new realm of deliciousness. These little treats, as well as the original pepernoten, are given out during Christmas time to all the well-behaved dutch children.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Snoep and Drop

Hema is like the dutch Target. They sell everything from baked goods to bike lights. I have a preference for the baked goods and candies for that matter. The dutch have a serious sweet tooth. As do I. "Snoep" is candy in dutch. The picture above and below is just a sample of the insane amount of candy they sell at Hema. Above is more the sweet variety, that includes chocolates, gummies and hard candies. Below is the licorice. "Drop" in dutch. Many of the dutch licorices are extremely salty, but so good.


Harvest Time!! Fall fun! I love this time of year. In Holland, they don't normally celebrate Halloween. It's more of a yankee holiday. But in recent years, they've started to sell pumpkin affiliated ornaments and spooky paraphernalia. They've also started celebrating that most hallmark-y of hallmark holidays: Valentine's Day. Ah, Americanization of Western Europe one holiday at a time.  But back to Halloween. I love it. I was born on Halloween and have always had a special affinity for the pumpkin. Pompoen in dutch. The dutch have big heads. Literally very large heads. Me included. I used to be called pumpkin-head in school. Not funny. Okay, kinda funny. Anyway, I have a bit of a big head complex and an obssession with orange. (Orange is also an official Dutch color.) The photo above was taken at a dutch grocery store. It's sorta of a hybrid pumpkin gourd. I don't really think they're edible, but I like the way it looks.

I really should actually make something with pumpkin in it. I carved a pumpkin the other day and it had a soft spot and got super moldy within a day. So sad. Pumpkins are a bit labor intensive to deal with. More so than squash. You gotta get rid of all that stringy-ness and chop through it's hard exterior. It's really great though simply roasted with olive oil and salt and maybe a bit of cayenne. The seeds are also edible and nutrient-rich. Oh the beauty of the pumpkin.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009


So, I just got back from Amsterdam on Sunday. Recovering still from both jetlag and over-indulgence of dutch pastries. Including this one. This beautiful, delicate and simple dutch treat. It's a take on the classic stroopwafel, which is basically sweet sweet treacle sandwiched between two waffle-type biscuit cookies (koekjes in dutch) with a slight taste of cinnamon spice. This stroopkoeken is like that, but instead of a waffle koekje, it's this magnificently buttery shortbread cookie. Not too sweet, but made with real roomboter (creamed butter). Way better than the overrated stroopwafel, in my opinion. To warm them up, you place a cookie on top of your hot cup of coffee or tea for a couple minutes. The syrup melts a bit and gives the cookie a lovely warm,  just out of the oven taste. Oh man, I am getting hungry and it's too bad because I forgot to bring some back to the States with me. Makes me so sad. Now I'll have to peruse some dutch internet import company to get my hands on these lovely sweet treasures again. Or I should just figure out how to make them myself.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Goudse kaas

I'm writing from Gouda, located in this tiny country called The Netherlands. These insanely tall Dutch people have a penchant for good cheese. I mean seriously good cheese. "Goudse kaas," is dutch for the infamous gouda cheeses. I've been here for only a day and a half and I have consumed so many different kinds of aged cheeses. Many are not even originally Dutch, but that didn't stop me from imbibing. Ones with cumin, a chedder with paprika, a brie-type cheese with truffle oil, a simple Gouda, a smoked gouda, muenster, a roquefort, a creamy cheese dip with garlic....the list goes on. Garlic in dutch is "knoflook."

An afternoon snack in Holland consists of a cutting board full of different cheeses and these little breads called krentenbollen that are basically slightly sweet rolls with raisins in them. And they're amazing! You simply slice open a little krentenbollen and slather with a bit of butter and add as much cheese as you can handle. The combination of a spicy, pungent or mellow cheese all go well with the sweetness of raisins and bready goodness. Lovely afternoon snack.

Now off to ride my bike along the canals!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Roasted root vegetables

The weather is a changin'. The crispness in the autumn air just makes me wanna stay indoors, wrap myself in a snuggie (I kid, I haven't delved into the realm of snuggie-dom yet, though I am tempted. I mean seriously, you can change the tv channel without your arms getting cold. And now there are animal print ones! Genius!) Anyways, I digress from my snuggie tirade. My point is that all I want to do is roast some good vegetables. Roasting is seriously the easiest culinary trick to make boring, bland vegetables taste so mouth-wateringly delicious.

For this batch of roasted veg, I had on hand turnips, sweet potatoes and red potatoes. I warmed up the oven to 350 degrees and then started choppin the tubers into about one inch thickness all around. Some came out in different shapes because of the various sizes of root veg, but they should all be about the same size for even cooking.

I put them on a baking sheet with a good amount of extra virgin olive oil. Enough to really get them slathered well. Then I just added some salt and dried thyme and a bit of paprika. I didn't have any fresh herbs on hand, but obviously that would have made them even better. I kept them in the oven for about half an hour. I never really time it, I just check on them periodically til they look cooked through and a bit golden.

That's it. I added some black pepper, let them cool for a bit and then dipped them into some hummus from Sahadis. So good. The creaminess of the hummus is a great compliment to the earthy starchiness of the vegetables. Super easy dish!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Quick Cucumber Pickle

Adding vinegar to cucumbers morphs them into almost a pickle. Not quite, but close. To do real pickling, it takes a bit more time and effort and well, I had neither of that when I made these. But they taste way fresher than any crappy store-bought, sitting-in-a-jar forever pickle. Really, just add any sort of vinegar you so desire and maybe a herb or spice or two. Little salt and pepper and you got yourself a lovely little side dish. I used ume plum vinegar, which gives it an almost sweet, but pungent bite.

All you have to do is thinly slice the cucumbers (I used two), width wise, and throw into a bowl. Add about 2T vinegar, a tablespoon or two of chopped herbs (I had dried dill on hand) and some salt and pepper to your liking. You can choose to drain some of the juice that is released when you add salt to cucumbers, but I didn't bother. I like using that as an almost vinegar when sauteing vegetables. It's similar to a vegetable stock, but without all the hassle. (Okay, it's not really, it's more comparable to salty water with a hint of vinegar, but it still makes veggies taste better!)  Waste not, I say. But that's a different post entirely...

Use these quick cucumber pickles as an accompaniment for falafels, sandwiches or anytime you want a crisp, salty refreshing bite.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Daikon Radish Salad with Dulse Flakes

Daikon radish looks sorta like an over-sized white carrot, but tastes like a much milder red radish. It's used in lots of asian dishes, like kimchi or as an accompaniment to Vietnamese sandwiches. Daikons are highly versatile and super good for you. You can saute it with other vegetables to make a stir-fry, or braise it in some good veggie stock. I chose to shred it on a cheese grater and added dulse flakes, thyme, peppers and sesame oil. Dulse is a sea vegetable that is reddish-purple in color. It grows on rocks along the Atlantic Ocean. It's also amazingly versatile and contains all trace minerals (which is essential to good health) and also has lots of protein and vitamins. You can find it in flake form at any health food store. I used the Eden brand.

Here's the Recipe: 
2 Daikon Radishes (peeled and grated)
3T Dulse flakes
2T fresh thyme (save a sprig for decoration if you so fancy)
3T pepper (any pepper will do, I used jalapeno and minced it finely)
2T sesame oil or more to taste
salt and pepper to taste

Peel the daikon radishes' skin with a vegetable peeler and grate it. Put in a bowl and add the dulse flakes. Let sit for a couple minutes so the flakes can soften up a bit. Then add the thyme, pepper and sesame oil. Add salt and pepper to taste. And there you have it. Real easy.

Yields about four servings

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Open-Faced Herbed Egg Salad Sandwich

Getting eggs perfectly hard-boiled is really quite simple. Once you know this technique, it's completely fool-proof. First, add eggs to a sauce pan and fill with enough cool water to let the eggs move freely. Bring water to a boil and then turn off heat and let the eggs sit in the hot water for exactly nine minutes. No more, no less. Then, put eggs in a colander and run cold water over them for about 30 seconds. Put directly in the fridge. (Cooling them down makes peeling way easier) Done and done. 
Here's what I added to my herbed egg salad: 
sage from fire escape herb garden
and also rosemary
and some basil and chives
So, this Herbed Egg Salad Sandwich is quite easy. It just involves choppin up some herbs and adding them to the egg mixture with some mayonaise/mustard/garlic. 
Four hard-boiled organic* eggs (peeled and mashed up)**
3 T fresh herbs (chopped)
3T mayonaise or veganaise
2T mustard
1t garlic (minced)
salt and pepper to taste

Mash up the eggs with the mayonnaise and mustard. And then add the rest of the ingredients. Pile it on some good bread and add a basil leaf to make it pretty. Simple!!  

*It's super important to use organic eggs cause you don't know what kind of shit the farmers will feed the chickens to produce more eggs on conventional farms. (Like ground up other chickens! Sad and gross on so many levels.)  I actually got these eggs from my friend's chickens. She raises them in her backyard in Red Hook.

**You can also easily do this with tofu instead of eggs. Simply pat dry some extra firm tofu by wrapping it in a tea cloth for about ten minutes. (Basically you do this so you don't have soggy, wet tofu salad!) I like to saute the tofu for a bit in a skillet with some olive oil and salt, so it's not raw and also helps to get rid of excess water. Then just follow the same directions.

Yields about 4 servings

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Creepy Dutch girl statue

My half-dutch friend Kip and I went to this set up "Dutch village" that's part of the week long celebration of all things Dutch. It's an honor of the 400 year anniversary of Henry Hudson coming to Manhatta and purchasing it for $24 from the Native Americans. Ah, colonialism at its best. They had all the prototypical Dutch wares: stroopwafels (maple syrup filled cookies), Gouda cheese, wooden clogs, tulips, herring sandwiches and this creepy dutch girl statue.


Kip (who's name means chicken in dutch!) and I proceeded to immediately purchase poffertjes (tiny pancakes slathered in butter and sprinkled with powdered sugar) upon arrival at the Dutch village.  

Klompen, klompen, klompen!!

Wooden shoes (klompen) at the Dutch village. I love how they fashioned shoe laces into the wooden shoes. Like its necessary. Also, the tiger face klompen. Amazing. 

Windmill on Wall Street!

This little makeshift village, across the street from Battery Park, even had its own windmill. I couldn't help but be a tourist and take dorky photos in front of it. 

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

rosewater marzipan

Rosewater Marzipan from Cyprus. 
It's like eating a sweetened rose garden. Best. flavor. ever. 
PS: I just found out about this Ben and Jerry's ice cream called Mission to Marzipan. I must find it! 
I have a bit of an obsession with marzipan. When I lived in Amsterdam I would buy marzipan covered  chocolate candy bars sometimes twice a day from this chain candy store called Jamin. Seriously, this place was amazing. Endless varieties of marzipan confections. 

Long Island tomatoes

My friend Soraya brought these tomatoes back from Long Island where her boyfriend's mom grows them in her backyard. These were some of the best tomatoes I've had in awhile. On par with even the heirloom ones. There must be something about the soil in Long Island. All we needed to add to the tomatoes is a drizzling of olive oil, salt and pepper and a bit of fresh thyme. Summer awesome. 

Friday, September 4, 2009

Blueberry Molasses Cake

I got this recipe from an amazing website called http://101cookbooks.com that Heidi Swanson runs. (She wrote a fantastic cookbook called Super Natural Cooking) She had found a recipe for blueberry molasses cake in an old Gourmet magazine from 1974. She adjusted it a bit and made it a bit healthier. I followed her recipe exactly except I used rice milk instead of regular milk and it turned out great. I used blueberries that weren't very sweet which accentuated the molasses, which I don't necessarily think is a bad thing. It gave the cake a subtle mellow sweetness, with a hint of smokiness. Lovely. 
Here's the recipe: 
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
1/2 teaspoon cider vinegar
5 tablespoons milk (divided)
1/2 cup unsulphered molasses
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, barely melted
1 1/2 cups blueberries, frozen (I freeze fresh berries)
1 teaspoon flour

Preheat oven to 350F degrees. Butter and flour a 9-inch round cake pan (or equivalent).
In a large bowl sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In a small bowl whisk together the cider vinegar with 3 tablespoons of the milk. In another bowl whisk the molasses with the remaining 2 tablespoons of milk. Whisk the cider vinegar mixture into the molasses mixture, then whisk in the eggs. Pour the wet ingredients over the dry and stir until just barely combined. Stir in the butter. Toss the blueberries with 1 teaspoon of flour and fold them into the batter. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for about thirty minutes or until a toothpick poked into the center comes out clean. Let cool for a few minutes. Turn out of the pan and serve with a dollop of whipped cream on the side*. 

*I used a heavy whipping cream, added a bit of sugar and then got my friend to whip the hell out of it until it became light and fluffy. Delicious!!

Serves 8 - 10.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Kohlrabi and Patty Pan Squash Empanadas

Kohlrabi is one strange looking vegetable. It's the one on the right that looks like a crazy purple turnip with long stems poking out every which way. This variety is called a 'Purple Danube.' I like that. I think it's beautiful in its weirdness. Patty pan too. It's a  summer squash that's either yellow or yellow with green specks that looks like a flying saucer. Both vegetables are mellow in flavor and endlessly versatile. 
I was told kohlrabi is nice just chopped up raw and served in a salad. But that just sounds so boring. The past couple days in Brooklyn have been almost chilly, and I'm just getting plain sick of salads. I wanted something more substantial. I think I'm craving the autumn air and I love cooking when it's not sweltering outside. I found a recipe online at: http://eatdrinkbetter.com that mixed kohlrabi and squash together and use it for stuffing in an empanada. Perfect. This recipe is probably the most labor intensive one thus far on this blog. Luckily, my friend Eunice helped me chop up the vegetables into tiny tiny small dice. (She also took these amazing photos!)
Here's the recipe: 
2 medium kohlrabies (peeled and chopped into small dice*)
*small dice is 1/4 x 1/4 x 1/4 inch cubes to be exact
2 summer squashes (peeled and chopped into small dice)
2T olive oil
2 cloves minced garlic
2 T peeled and minced ginger
about 3 ready made pie crusts ( i got lazy and didn't fee like making empanada dough from scratch)
1 egg
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Heat 2 T of olive oil in a saute pan. When heated, add the kohlrabi along with the garlic and ginger. Saute for a couple minutes and then add the squash. Saute for another couple minutes until the veggies are a bit tender but still have a nice crunch to them. Set aside. 
Roll out the pie crust dough onto a floured surface. Using a rolling pin, make the dough thinner than you would a pie crust. Use a cereal bowl or some sort of round circle that is 6 inches in width to cut out shapes. Put dough on a parchment lined baking pan and scoop about 1T of kohlrabi/squash mixture into middle of dough circle. Fold over to make a half circle and use a fork to press the edges down. Coat the empanada with an egg wash and sprinkle with sesame seeds if you so desire. 
Bake for about 10 minutes or until crust looks golden brown. 

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Sweet Corn and Peach Salad

Sweet Corn and Peach Salad
So, I noticed a theme to all my food concoctions thus far. They're all pretty easy and require really, not even much of a strict recipe. Take this one. It's basically just combining really great fresh produce together. Summer's harvest is a beautiful thing. Fresh sweet corn off the cob. This corn is insanely sweet, no need to even really heat it up, you can eat it raw. I only sauteed it with a bit of green pepper and garlic to just accentuate the great flavor. Added fresh local peaches and baby tomatoes. These tomatoes also were some of the sweetest produce I've tasted in a while. Mother nature, you're one fine lady. This years' crop is blowing my mind. (Blueberries this year, also, sooo unbelievably sweet!)
In conclusion, this salad is really just slicin and dicin some fruit and veg and adding about a 1/4 cup of good quality olive oil and juice of half a lemon and some salt and pepper. That's it. It's always good to balance out sweet and salt. Like, say you add olive oil, it's beneficial to add an acid such as lemon, lime or any kind of vinegar (balsamic, red wine, rice, etc). Easy. And so tasty. 

Monday, August 31, 2009

heirloom tomatoes

Quintessential yuppie farmer's market fare. 
But seriously, heirloom tomatoes are like true nature's candy. Way better than raisins. 

Roasted eggplant with rosemary focaccia

Eggplant. It's the omnipresent vegetarian staple. Yet, it is so often mistreated. Soggy, lifeless and rubbery. It's not an easy vegetable to cook with. It takes a little bit of planning and effort. But, really, not that much. 
 First, I pre-heated the oven to 350 degrees. It's best to salt the eggplant before attempting to do anything with it. I thinly sliced the eggplant, crosswise into 1/2 inch rounds, threw it into a colander and drenched it in salt. This helps to leech out the bitterness.  After about a half hour, I proceeded to pour a good amount of olive oil on the sliced eggplant. (About 1/2 cup for two medium sized eggplants) And a good sprinklin of sea salt again. I lined a sheet tray with parchment paper (so the eggplant doesn't stick to the tray) and put it in the oven for about 40 minutes. Some recipes I looked at said it would take only 20 min, but my eggplant was still tough after 20. I did have to add more olive oil because eggplant is like a sponge and will dry out if you don't slather it well enough. When it's done, it should look super moist and much smaller in size. After it was done, I added some tahini, juice of half a lemon, some more sea salt and a little bit of cracked pepper. Simple, yet so mouthwateringly tasty. My roommate Kaitlin and I had gone to the farmer's market earlier and purchased some really good rosemary focaccia. A perfect complement to the earthy texture of the roasted eggplant. 
Mini roasted eggplant on focaccia from the farmer's market down the street: 

I had forgotten to take a picture of the roasted eggplant until there was only one lone mini sandwich left. My friend Kip commented that it looks like the sandwich is going for a swim on my blue cutting board. Adorable.