Tuesday, August 23, 2011

stuffed zucchini blossoms

Aren't they pretty? 

Zucchini blossoms are perfectly in season right now. They're delicate flowers that are mild in flavor and great for stuffin', particularly with a mix of ricotta, lemon zest, chopped mint and black pepper. Pretty standard, easy recipe. And they look so darn pretty! I made a quick tomato dipping sauce with canned fire roasted whole tomatoes, added some dried italian spices (hot pepper flakes, oregano, thyme, basil etc..) and reduced the liquid by half until it was nice and saucy. 


  • 1 cup ricotta
  • 1 tablespoon freshly chopped mint
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

zucchini blossoms

  • Vegetable oil (for frying)
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 12 ounce chilled beer, or club soda
  • Zucchini blossoms (about 2 dozen)
  • sea salt

To stuff: 
  • To fill about 16, combine ricotta, mint, and lemon zest in a bowl. Season with salt and black pepper. Using a spoon, fill each blossom with about 1 Tbsp. ricotta mixture.

    To fry: 
  • In a large sauce pan, heat about 2 inches of oil over medium heat. Combine flour and salt in a medium bowl, then whisk in beer until almost smooth (some small lumps are ok—don't overwhisk or you'll deflate the batter). One by one, dredge the blossoms in batter, shaking off the excess. Gently lay in the oil, without crowding the pan. Cook, flipping once with a slotted spoon, until golden brown, 2-3 minutes total. Transfer to paper towels to drain. Sprinkle with sea salt. Serve with tomato dipping sauce.  

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

rhubarb cupcakes with fresh whipped cream

I usually don't bake with dairy, but sometimes I've just had enough of using oil or margarine. Adding eggs really gives a cupcake a much lighter air. And, I just got this awesome new Martha Stewart Cookbook that is all cupcakes. I don't know why I'm on a cupcake fix. I'm not really even a big fan of them, maybe that's why I keep making them. I want to perfect the cupcake, or at least make it more interesting. And less sweet. This recipe calls for rhubarb, which is perfectly in season during these warm early summer months. Rhubarb has such a nice tart bite, similar to cranberry when cooked. It also calls for sour cream, which gives this cupcake a lovely airy shortcake-type texture, similar to a strawberry shortcake. The topping is heavy cream whipped with a bit of confectioners sugar to make a lightly sweet puffy whipped cream. I reduced a cup of rhubarb with sugar, water and scrapped vanilla bean to get those fancy specks of vanilla seeds for the topping. 

cupcake recipe: 

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup sour cream, room temperature
3 cups rhubarb, stalks trimmed and cut into 1/4 inch dice
1 vanilla bean, halved length-wise
1 cup water
whipped cream (recipe to follow)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line standard muffin tin with paper liners. Whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. 

With an electric mixer at medium speed, cream butter and 1 cup sugar until pale and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until each is incorporated, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Beat in vanilla extract. Reduce speed to low.

Add flour mixture in two batches, alternating with the sour cream, and beating until combined after each. Stir in 2 cups diced rhubarb. 

Fill each cupcake liner with three-quarters full of batter. Bake, rotating tins halfway through, until knife comes out clean when inserted in center of cupcake, about 25 minutes. Transfer tins to wire racks to cool completely before removing cupcakes.

To make rhubarb topping, use the tip of a paring knife to scrape vanilla bean seeds into a saucepan. Add the water and remaining one cup of sugar, and bring to a simmer, stirring to dissolve sugar. Remove from heat, and stir in remaining one cup of rhubarb. Let cool completely. Remove rhubarb with a slotted spoon, and reserve. Return liquid to a simmer, and cool until reduced by half, 5 to 8 minutes. Let cool slightly, then return rhubarb to syrup. Once cool, rhubarb can be refrigerated in syrup up to one week in an airtight container. 

recipe for whipped cream: 
2 cups heavy cream
1/4 cup confectioners sugar, sifted

Whisky heavy cream until soft peaks form. Add confectioners sugar, and whisk until combined. If not using immediately, whipped cream can be refrigerated, covered tightly, up to three hours in an airtight container. 

to assemble: 
Dollop a generous amount of whipped cream onto each cupcake, and top with rhubarb and some syrup. Serve immediately. 

Yields 16 cupcakes

Thursday, June 2, 2011

pumpkin seed pesto pasta

I made this pesto from leftover pumpkin seed tapenade. It had served it's purpose as a dip and a spread for crackers and I wanted to figure out something different with what was left. I figured a pesto pasta is always tasty and adding shredded parmesan and sauteed asparagus, makes it even better! Incredibly simple and looks kinda fancy. 

Recipe for Tapenade: 
1 cup pumpkin seeds, toasted
1/4 cup olive oil
juice of one lemon
dash of salt and pepper
dash of red pepper flakes

Add all of the ingredients to a food processor and pulse until it resembles a pesto. Taste and adjust seasoning to your liking. 

Pasta and Asparagus Recipe:

Boil up enough pasta of your choice for four servings, about a package worth, depending on the type of pasta. While it's boiling, add a tablespoon of olive oil to a saute pan. Add thinly sliced asparagus to pan and lightly salt. Cook until tender. 

Drain pasta and mix in pesto. Top with asparagus, shredded parmesan and more red pepper flakes if you want an extra kick. 


Yields four servings

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

herbed and spiced hummus

Everyone loves a good hummus. It's unbelievably easy to make and you can't really go wrong with it. It's really just variations on a type of bean and adding accoutrements to it. For this I added chickpeas, olive oil, tahini, lemon juice, spices, herbs, salt. Not too complicated. I used a random mixture of Indian and Mexican spices. Dashes of ginger, cayenne, cumin, paprika, turmeric, fennel, cardamon and star anise. 

Makes about 3 cups. 


1 can (15 oz) chickpeas, reserve liquid
1/4 cup tahini
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 garlic cloves, crushed
1/4 teaspoon ground star anise
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon cardamon, crushed
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon fennel
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
salt and pepper
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped (optional)
2 scallions, thinly sliced (optional)

In a food processor, combine beans and about 1/4 cup of reserved liquid from can. Add garlic, tahini, two tablespoons olive oil, lemon juice and all of the spices, plus salt and pepper. Add more reserved liquid until desired consistency is reached. Feel free to add less or more of spices. This is just my personal taste. I like my hummus super flavorful and a bit spicy. Top with two more tablespoons of olive oil, cilantro leaves and scallions, if you so desire. 

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

tequila lime cupcakes

I know cupcakes are the super trendy-epitome of hipsterdom/gentrification dessert items, but really, aren't they just adorable! There's a reason cupcakes have taken over the world! I adapted this recipe from the cookbook 'Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World.' Hence, my joke. But, seriously. Well, as serious as you can be when you are writing about cupcakes that have tequila and vast amounts of sugar in them. I served them at a party recently and they're definitely a palate divider. Some people couldn't handle the lime explosion in their mouth. I, for one, love bold citrus flavors. But I can understand that it's not for everyone. You can decrease the freshly squeezed lime juice for more soymilk or almond milk, if you prefer. Or even use lemon juice. I feel that with vegan cupcakes, sometimes they come out a little dry and dense and the lime juice really helps with that. I suppose using agave could also give it a lighter taste and texture as well. 

Makes 24 cupcakes

Recipe for cupcakes: 

1/2 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
3 teaspoons finely grated lime zest
2 cups almond, rice or soy milk
1/2 cup canola oil or melted coconut oil
1/4 cup tequila 
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2 2/3 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
(icing recipe to follow)
(large crystal decorating sugar, for decorating edges of cupcakes, about a cup)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line muffin pan with cupcake liners. 
In a large bowl, beat together the lime juice, zest, soy milk, canola/coconut oil, tequila, vanilla, and sugar. Sift in flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Mix until batter is smooth. Fill liners three quarters of the way full and bake 20 to 22 minutes until a toothpick or knife inserted through the center comes out clean. Transfer cupcakes to a cooling rack and let cool completely before frosting. Allowing cupcakes to set for an hour or two helps the flavor develop more fully. 

Icing recipe: 
1/2 cup shortening (butter or margarine would also work) I used Spectrum shortening, softened
2 tablespoons almond, rice or soy milk 
6 tablespoons lime juice
2 tablespoons tequila
drop of green food coloring, if you so desire
4 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted 
generous pinch of sea salt

Blend shortening with a hand held or kitchen aid mixer until soft and fluffy. Add soy milk, lime juice, tequila and food coloring. Sift in two cups confectioners sugar and blend with mixer til creamy and well incorporated. Add more confectioners sugar if it seems too runny. It should be a bit stiff (as in, you can make peaks with it) and have a smooth spreadable consistency. Refrigerate until ready to use. 

To assemble: 
Spread icing on cupcakes with a knife, all around edges. Roll just the outer edges of cupcake in sugar crystals, ala margarita style. Tada! You have a booze-filled party time cupcake! 

Friday, May 6, 2011

Roasted and Stuffed Poblano Peppers with Pumpkin Seed Tapenade

I made these on a whim when I saw these sweet poblano peppers at the store. I roasted them on an open flame on the stovetop until charred a bit black. And then stuffed them with rice and adzuki beans and spiced with paprika, cayenne and red pepper flakes for color and extra kick. And topped off with chopped cilantro and the pumpkin seed tapenade, which is basically just grinding pumpkin seeds (also known as pepitos) in a cuisinart or blender with olive oil, salt, pepper and a bit of spiced paprika.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

chocolate chip skillet cookie

Greetings! It's been awhile since I've updated this food blog. Been spending my days eating out more than eating in and baking my days away at work. That lends itself to not cooking/baking at home as much as I should. Well, hopefully this recipe will kick start my blogging self. It's a chocolate chip cookie baked in a cast iron skillet, an adapted recipe from 101Cookbooks.com blog. I used whole wheat pastry flour instead of just plain whole wheat flour, giving the cookie a lighter texture. I ended up adding a bit of soymilk because the batter was a little dry, and chopping up thin wafers of chocolate as well as adding dark chocolate chips. 

Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Skillet Cookie

3 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/4 teaspoon sea salt

2 sticks of cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch pieces (bit more for buttering the skillet)

1 cup dark brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup soymilk (more if batter seems dry) 

8 ounces pure bittersweet dark chocolate (roughly chopped into 1/4 inch pieces) 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. 
Butter a 10 inch skillet that's at least 2 inches deep, otherwise serious batter overflow will occur. 

Sift dry ingredients in large bowl. 

In another bowl add butter and sugars. Blend with hand mixer, or if you're fancy, a KitchenAid. Scrape sides of bowl. Add eggs one at a time. Mix. Add vanilla and soymilk. Add flour mixture to bowl and mix until well combined. Add chocolate chips and gently incorporate until a thick batter consistency is achieved. 

Scrape batter into skillet and press down with fingertips until it's an even layer of cookie dough. Add any leftover chocolate bits on top. 

Bake for 35-45 minutes or until dough is a deep golden brown and the center has set. 

Remove from oven and let sit for at least 10 minutes before cutting into pie-type slices, or any type slices really.