Monday, April 27, 2009

Cranberry Walnut Muffins

It's too hot to turn on the oven, in case you were wondering! (A high of 90F today.) This recipe will proceed Cooking For Engineers style, because it's so simple... (Adapted from the Betty Crocker Cookbook.)

Preheat oven to 4ooF. Grease 12 muffin cups (or use muffin papers).

1 egg
--> Beat for 30 seconds

3/4 c. milk
1/2 c. oil
1 c. chopped cranberries (frozen is fine)
1/2 c. chopped walnuts (optional)
1 t. orange extract
-->Stir into egg

2 c. flour, a combination of AP and whole wheat pastry (or whatever you've got)
3 t. baking powder
-->Stir into wet ingredients just until moistened, batter will be lumpy. Fill muffin cups half-full. Sprinkle tops with sugar, if desired (you desire).

Bake for 20 minutes, turning once. Betty Crocker rules that muffins should be golden brown, with a slightly-domed top and an irregular but not craggy texture. I think she would be proud. Serving suggestion for a perfect muffin: warm from the oven with a cold glass of milk or lemonade.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Black and White Cookies

In case we didn't still have chocolate chip cookies left (we did), I decided that my CogSci class needed cookies. Julia decided they needed frosting, so I found:

I altered it a bit, of course, so here's what I actually did (as Lilly looked on):

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 c. whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 t. baking soda
  • 1 t. salt
  • 2/3 c. milk + 2 t. white vinegar, let sit for 5 minutes to make buttermilk substitute
  • 1 t. vanilla
  • 2/3 cup butter, softened
  • 1 c. sugar
  • 2 eggs
Preheat oven to 350°F.

Whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt in a bowl. Stir together buttermilk and vanilla in a cup.

Cream butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Add egg, beating until combined well. Alternately add dry ingredients and buttermilk, beating well after each addition. Batter will be the consistency of cake batter, NOT cookie dough.

Using a tablespoon measure (or an ice cream scoop!) spoon tablespoons (ish) of batter onto a greased* baking sheet, about 2 inches apart. Bake until tops are puffed and pale golden, 12-15 minutes. Transfer to a rack to cool while you prepare icing.

*Easy trick for greasing pans: use the wrapper from the stick of butter you just used. There's enough butter left on the wrapper to grease the pan if you just smear it around. (Thanks to Carter for passing on that trick.)

  • 1 1/2 cups confectioners sugar
  • 1 T. honey
  • 1/2 t. orange extract
  • 1/2 t. vanilla
  • 1 to 2 T. water
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
Stir together all but cocoa powder. Divide in half, and add cocoa to one half. Add more water, 1 t. at a time, until the two icings are the same consistency. You're going for thick syrup consistency; it should be both spreadable and drizzle-able. It took me a while to get it to that stage, so don't be afraid to play around with it-- if it gets too thin add more sugar and/or cocoa.

When the cookies are cool, it's time to play with icing! (Over parchment or waxed paper!) The recipe tells you to flip the cookies over and ice the flat sides, so I tried that once. But the cookie wouldn't sit still on its curved side, so all the icing just slid off before it was dry. I gave up and just iced the top sides. I made some that were all chocolate or all vanilla, some that were just artfully drizzled with one or both icings, and then a few half and half. Those were the hardest, because if you put the two icings touching too soon they just bleed together. I would ice each side, one chocolate and one vanilla, leaving a small gap in the middle, and then come back a few minutes later with a toothpick to encourage the semi-solid icing to cover the gap. (You can see why I didn't make very many that way, it takes forever!) The first ones I made were really ugly because my icing was too thin and it just ran off the edges and made a big puddle. (No pictures of those!)

Lilly says: Fine, make more cookies. I'm ignoring you.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Chocolate Chip Cookies

This is technically a half-batch. I think it came from the White Grass Cookbook, from a fantastic cross country ski lodge in WV. (Typed and passed along by Mom.)

Preheat oven to 350 F.

2/3 c. butter or margarine (i.e. 1 and 1/3 sticks
1/2 c. packed brown sugar

1/2 c. granulated sugar

--> Cream together.

1 egg

1 t. vanilla extract
--> Beat until creamy.

1 c. AP flour

3/4 c. whole wheat pastry flour

1/2 t. baking soda

1/4 t. salt

--> Stir to combine.

1 generous cup semisweet chocolate chips

-->Stir and sample.

Drop by rounded spoonfuls onto a cookie sheet. Bake for 8-12 minutes, or until golden brown. There was some discussion here about whether cookies should still be soft in the middle when cooked or fully crunchy. Follow your
cœur here. (Mine says soft.)

Enjoy with milk or Riesling. (Did I mention that I'm lactose semi-tolerant? Or "lactose judgmental," if you prefer.)

Roast Chicken with Fennel and Lentils

Weaver Street (i.e. the best grocery store in the Triangle) has some great ideas at times. Whole chickens were on sale, and they had fresh fennel. So Megan ferried these lovelies home and we set to making the house smell scrumptious:

Roast Chicken with Fennel (and Lentils)

1 whole chicken (ours was about 4lbs, but larger or smaller is fine)
1 large bulb fennel (all but feathery leaves)
1 medium onion
canola oil/butter, salt and pepper

2 cloves garlic
3 handfuls lentils
1/4 c. white wine
2 c. water

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Rinse the chicken and remove the giblets/neck if present. (Reserve for giblet gravy if desired.) Chop fennel and onion. Grease the bottom and sides of a roasting pan or large cast iron skillet and layer in the veggies. Settle the chicken on top, breast side down. Rub chicken with more oil or butter and sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper. Cover with foil, leaving a drip edge inside the edge of the pan. Bake until thigh temperature reaches 160 (90 min plus). Remove the foil and switch the oven to broil. Broil, watching carefully, for 5 minutes or until chicken is browned. Remove the chicken to another dish or board to cool/carve.

Meanwhile, transfer the veggies and drippings to a stove-safe pan (that was the idea with using a skillet). Bring to a boil and add chopped garlic, lentils, white wine and water. Cover (the foil from the chicken works well here) and cook until lentils are tender, about 45 minutes.

Alternatively, cook brown rice or barley in the juices instead of lentils. Or even whole wheat pasta. (You can cook pasta in any liquid, not just a pot of boiling water!)

Internet Treasures Squig tries to cook. Chago the boxer plays on a trampoline, extended edition. Whole Foods' Morning Glory Muffins -- I'll make these next time we have carrots. In the meantime try out the recipe and let us know how it goes!

It smells AMAZING in here tonight-- we're making dinner for tomorrow, details to follow.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Citrus Honey Poppyseed Dressing

I concocted this with a little help from a recipe I had saved from I-know-not-where.

4 T olive oil
2 T honey
1.5 T cider vinegar
1 t salt
.5 t orange extract (or a dash of orange juice)
2 t lemon juice
1 shy t poppy seeds

Measure the wet ingredients in the order listed so the oil residue helps the honey come out of your tablespoon measure. Shake to combine and store in a small jar with a tight lid. If you feel the need to refrigerate it (I don't), let it sit at room temperature before using to allow the oil to un-congeal.

This only makes about a quarter of a cup so you may want to double or triple it!

Excellent on something I decided to call Aphid Salad (the poppyseeds look like aphids, don't they?):

(Butter lettuce, celery, formerly-frozen edamame, thinly sliced onion, grated carrot and dressing!)

Friday, April 10, 2009

Crispy Mango Tofu

After an extravagant excursion of excellent excitement nothing quite hits the spot like crisp, fried tofu in a mango sweet and sour sauce. This surprisingly simple recipe was quick and oh so wonderful....but enough doting, lets get down to business so you can make this little piece of wonderful for yourself.

What you'll need:
* extra-firm tofu
* 1/4 cup corn starch
* 4 Tbsp canola oil
* 2 garlic cloves, minced
* 1 Tbsp minced ginger
* 1 large green bell pepper, cut into bite sized pieces
* 2 large mangoes diced

For the sauce:
The sauce used in this is a sweet and sour sauce that could be used for a variety of things from tofu to sweet and sour chicken.

*Combine the following in a bowl and set aside for use at the very end
* 1/4 cup water
* 3 Tbsp rice wine vinegar
* 1/2 tsp sriracha sauce(tabasco works too)
* 2 Tbsp ketchup
* 2 Tbsp soy sauce
* 1 Tbsp brown sugar
* 2 tsp corn starch

What to do:
*Cut tofu into whatever size bits you desire.
*Roll tofu bits in cornstarch, hehe, they look like fondant cubes.
*Fry tofu in some canola oil until crispy, it takes longer than you think but it's worth it, this really will be the most crisp tofu you've ever tried!

*After sampling (try not to swoon) put on a paper towel covered plate to drain of excess oil
*While you're waiting for you're rice to finish cooking...did I mention the need for rice? Well you need rice and chances are, because tofu fries rather quickly, it won't be done yet. Anyways, since you already have a pan of hot oil sitting on your stove you might as well make least, that's what we did.

The great Popcorn interlude, brought to you by hungry, that pesky brat that just keeps coming back:

Really? You need Popcorn? Really?

*What are you? Jiminy Cricket? Yes really we need popcorn. (In her defense, she was only trying to help...)

*Now, because we know you need some too, throw some raw corn kernels into your oil, put a lid on and shake the pan around until the popping stops. Salt and nom till your heart's content!

Getting back to the dinner at hand...
*In the little bit of oil you have left in the pan put your chopped green peppers
*Then put your ginger and garlic, we grated ours to avoid more chopping
*Put your tofu back in and then dump your sauce on top
*Let this simmer until it gets thick and then add your mango
*Stir it all around so your mango gets warmed up and you're done! (go eat now)

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Lilly and Lentils

It's about time we introduce Ms. Sour Puss to you, aka Lilly. I found her like this on my bed one morning last week. A prize goes to anyone who can find her face.
On a tastier note, I made easily-vegan Curried Lentil Soup last night. I followed the voices in my head when I made it, but here's approximately what I did:

Dice 1 small onion, and saute in olive oil for a few minutes, until soft but not brown. Add 2 large cloves garlic, sliced, and 3 carrots, sliced, and turn up the heat slightly to brown the onions/garlic and start to cook the carrot. Throw in 1.3 cups lentils (I measured out a cup, but then decided it needed another handful, hence the .3 c.) and another splash of olive oil. Add two handfuls of garam masala powder (5 T. maybe??) and stir around for a minute or two. Next add 1 small can or about half of a large can of diced tomatoes (fire-roasted works well) and about 7 cups of stock (chicken, beef, turkey, mushroom, or some combination) or equivalent water and some broth powder. Simmer for about an hour, or transfer everything to a Crock Pot and leave it all day. Check periodically to make sure that you're getting curried lentil SOUP instead of just curried lentils. (Or reduce the liquid to about 3 cups and forget about making it into soup.)

Other good additions would be: mushrooms in with the onions (and some butter, of course) or leeks or celery or potatoes or any other soup vegetables you've got on hand. If you want plain lentil soup, leave out the curry and instead add 2 bay leaves, 2 pinches of thyme, and some black pepper. Easier than pie!

Not a bad pairing with a glass of merlot (somehow), and the notes from my senior honors thesis defense make a great placemat!

Also, today was the first Wednesday of the Carrboro Farmers' Market, and I got a free squash seedling. Sorry about the picture quality today, by the way.