Thursday, February 18, 2010

olive oil date cookies

I made these cookies simply because I wanted to get rid of the bag of chopped dates I've had sitting in the fridge. You know how sometimes you have something in the kitchen and you know you should do something with it, but you're just too lazy? Well, this bag of dates has been staring at me for far too long. It was about time I ate 'em.

I didn't want to make a cookie that was too sweet either. So, instead of using bland ole canola oil, I substituted olive oil. This gives the cookie a cakey inside and a crisp outside. And turns the cookie batter a creepy green.

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
pinch of salt
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
3/4 cup milk or soy milk
1/2 cup olive oil
3/4 cup chopped dates 

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Combine dry ingredients. Beat the eggs, olive oil and milk. Add wet to dry and mix until thoroughly combined. If the mixture seems too tough, add a bit more milk. Fold in chopped dates. 

Drop by rounded teaspoons onto a lightly oiled cookie sheet and bake 10 to 12 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool for a couple minutes, then transfer to cooling rack. 

Friday, February 5, 2010

sauteed red cabbage with caraway seeds

Cabbage is the poor woman's vegetable. It's insanely cheap, versatile and oh so easy to prepare. Let me tell you some fun facts about cabbage: it's super super high in vitamin c and has anti-inflammatory properties and is a rich source of calcium. Cabbage gets a bad rap because it tends to give off a strong odor when cooked. But guess what? That's only when you cook it for awhile, like, longer than 10 minutes. And you boil it. Well, that's gross. The idea of boiled cabbage just sounds so unappetizing. There's a much better and simpler way to go about cookin up some cruciferous goodness. Saute it! Really, all you need to do is thinly slice the cabbage head. Heat up a pan with olive oil, throw in some caraway seeds (which have a lovely almost licorice sweet flavor to them) and add the cabbage with a pinch of salt. Saute for maybe 2 to 3 minutes. That's it! So simple! So fast! I placed the sauteed cabbage in a tortilla with my obligatory mayonnaise. Cause that's how I roll. Cabbage burritos are awe-some! 

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

paprika spiced adzuki beans with spinach and lemon zest

So, I'm still on this cheapskate spree. I have this jar of dried aduki  beans that has been sitting on a shelf for well over six months. Dried beans do last awhile though. But the problem with them is that you really have to plan ahead. Most recipes call for letting beans soak for eight hours. I think that idea is bogus. A faster/sorta spontaneous way is to add beans to a pot, cover with a couple inches of water and bring to a boil. Then let the beans sit for two hours on the stovetop with the heat off. Then cook. That sound a little better, right?

Aduki or adzuki or whatever the hell you wanna call them beans are truly awesome. They hail from North-East Asia and are mostly present in sweet dishes, like red bean cakes. (I just read that Pepsi created a aduki bean flavored pepsi drink. Now that sounds gross!) They're commonly boiled with sugar and made into a paste. Well, I thought that idea sounded none too interesting and I'm trying to consume less sugar anyway. So I decided to make a spiced bean concoction that would go nicely in a tortilla, giving it a bit of a mexican-asian theme. I think it works nicely. The touch of sweetness from the beans is complemented by the smokiness of the paprika and a bit of lemon juice and spinach is added to perk up the nutritional value. 

Many recipes call for a pound of beans, which is equal to two cups dried beans. Which, when cooked, makes about six cups of beans. On average, dried beans only cost about a $1.20 a pound. That's super cheap! Much cheaper than canned. But if you're gonna do canned, then one 15 oz can is equal to 1 1/2 cups cooked beans. So the measurements get a bit confusing. But the basic idea is that dried beans are tastier and cheaper (but more time consuming!) Since this recipe makes 6 cups of beans, you could easily freeze half the beans in its cooking liquid and they'll stay good for six months. In the fridge, they'll last about a week. It's so convenient to have beans already cooked in the fridge! 

2 cups dried aduki beans 
1 onion (chopped into small dice)
3 cloves of garlic (minced)
4 cups baby spinach
1 tablespoon paprika
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
sea salt
olive oil
sesame seeds
freshly ground black pepper
zest of one lemon

After soaking the beans for two hours on the stovetop, turn the heat back on and cook for about 40 minutes. Times vary according to the bean. So it's best to check every 10 minutes to see if they're done. If they are getting a bit cooked through, but not quite, add a pinch of salt to help bring them to doneness. (I added the salt about 20 minutes in) When done, drain beans (but remember to keep the cooking liquid!) I used about 2 cups worth of cooked beans and froze the rest. 

Warm a saute pan with olive oil. When hot, add onion, garlic, salt and spices. Cook until onions are translucent. Add cooked beans (without cooking liquid) to the pan. Saute for about 10 minutes and then add spinach. Cook until spinach is wilted. Remove from heat. 

I like to toast tortillas directly on the stove top for about 10 seconds on each side. Then, place tortilla on plate ( I added a dollop of mayonnaise) and add spiced aduki bean filling. Top with sesame seeds, zest/juice of a lemon and freshly ground black pepper. 

Monday, February 1, 2010

banana coconut and pecan vegan pancakes with sweet accoutrements

Lazy sunday mornings are the best. I'm on this poor lady rampage where my goal is to only consume food from my fridge that desperately needs to get eaten or has just been in my pantry for awhile. I figured pancakes were a good way to go. I always have all purpose unbleached flour in my cupboard. I also have this random package of unsweetened coconut flakes, a half bag of pecans and three small bananas that were just too spotty for me to eat whole. Well, there ya go: Banana, coconut and pecan pancakes. The recipe is super easy and vegan! (I adapted the recipe from the Vegan with a Vengeance cookbook) By adding vinegar to the soymilk, you get a buttermilk-like consistency that helps the pancakes rise well and give it a great fluffy texture. I added a teaspoon of almond extract mainly because I just love almonds. 

1 1/2 cups of all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 1/2 cups soymilk + 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar (let sit for 5 minutes)
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon almond extract
3 small bananas, well-mashed with a fork
1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1/2 cup pecans

In a medium sized bowl, sift together the first five ingredients. In a separate small bowl, mix bananas and other wet ingredients. Do not overmix. Fold in the coconut and pecans. 

Heat a large non-stick pan, coat with canola oil. Working in batches of three, scoop about 1/4 of a cup of batter into pan. Cook until sides start to bubble. Check to see if golden brown, and then flip 'em.  Cook for another couple of minutes. Transfer to a large plate and loosely cover with foil. Coat pan with more canola oil in between batches. 

The pancakes aren't very sweet, therefore, my roommate and I had many sweet accoutrements on hand: 

From left: crunchy peanut butter, a nutella-like spread from Holland, a orange peel and elderflower marmalade from Ikea, a blueberry syrup, maple syrup and sorghum syrup from the Loveless Cafe in Nashville. 

Finished Product: 
(oh, and you can see the hagel slag* in the background)

*Puur Chocolade Hagel Slag literally translates to 'chocolate hail storm.' These dutch chocolate confectionaries are simply way better than any ordinary chocolate sprinkle. They taste awesome topped on pancakes.

braised white turnips with spiced peanut sauce and the beauty of leftovers

I'm really trying to be good and stay on budget. I have so many random ingredients in the fridge that I just let sit there and rot. It's simply no good. I cannot afford to do that. So, my goal this month has been to use up as much as I creatively can.

My friend Ellen had made this lovely African peanut soup for a little get-together we had a couple of weeks ago. She kindly gave me a tupperware of it to take home. And let me say, I've never been a fan of leftovers. I hate eating the same thing two days in a row. I don't know what it is. I get bored easily. Food or otherwise. Well, the next day I had a soup potluck to go to and I decided I should regift the soup that was given to me. Problem was, I didn't have enough of it to generously give to anyone. Then I remembered I had this random plastic container of pureed peanuts that I had made using my juicer. The consistency didn't come out exactly like peanut butter, therefore, I let it just sit in my fridge hangin out. Well, it looked find. No mold to be seen. I sauteed it with some paprika and cayenne and then added some veggie broth and the rest of Ellen's leftovers. Well, now I had too much. So I took most of it to the potluck and kept the rest for myself. 
Long story, kinda short. A coupe days later, this thick re-adjusted soup is still sitting in my fridge. I was sick of soup at this point and had a couple of white turnips in my fridge that looked so bland, but I knew they needed to get eaten. I hate wasting food. So, I thinly sliced the turnips. Added them to a heated pan with olive oil, sprinkled with paprika, cumin and hot pepper flakes. Sauteed for a couple of minutes. And added the peanut soup. I let it reduce in volume, till is resembled a thick creamy peanut sauce. Topped it with a bit of crushed black pepper and I had myself a great leftover of a leftover.