Smashed Potato Salad with Escarole

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By Freya Bellin

In this dish, ultimate comfort food meets veggies, and they get along pretty well. Mashed potatoes are classically very buttery, but this version doesn’t suffer at all in the absence of milk or butter. The olive oil flavors the potatoes nicely, and although you don’t want to over-smash the potatoes in this dish, I was able to achieve a really creamy consistency, dairy-free. The greens add color and make the salad a little lighter, while the lemon offers a bright, springy, and zesty touch. The citrus is lovely but quite pervasive, so I would start with half a lemon’s worth of juice and add more to taste. I tossed in some salt and lots of extra black pepper at the end, which helped cut the lemon if you find it’s too strong. For those who like spice, try sprinkling red pepper flakes or cayenne on top. Recipe from The Food Matters Cookbook.

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Posted in Produce, Recipes

Fast French Bread or Rolls

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Makes: 3 or 4 baguettes, 1 boule, or 12 to 16 rolls

Time: About 2 hours, largely unattended

This bread can be made by hand or with an electric mixer, but the food processor is the tool of choice and will save you tons of time. Recipe from How to Cook Everything.

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Posted in Baking

Coconut and Brown Rice Pudding

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By Freya Bellin

It is difficult to be patient with the aroma of coconut milk slowly simmering in the oven, but patience is both required and rewarded by this rice pudding. I love the idea of using brown rice in this recipe. It’s healthier, for one, and adds a nuttiness and texture that you can’t get from white rice. The coconut milk makes the pudding rich, a little exotic, and much more flavorful than regular milk would. I used light coconut milk, which is pretty drastically lower in fat than the regular kind, and it was still quite rich. The single cinnamon stick I used made a huge flavor impact, proving that a little seasoning can go a long way.

Watching the pudding cook, it looked like soup for most of the cook time, and then seemingly suddenly looked more like rice, so don’t be discouraged if it seems to be taking a while for the rice to absorb the liquid. I couldn’t resist eating some straight out of the oven, and while it does thicken up nicely when it cools, I enjoyed it most while warm, with raisins tossed in at the end. Recipe from The Food Matters Cookbook. Continue reading

Posted in Baking

Coconut Macaroons

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Makes: About 2 dozen

Time: About 45 minutes, plus time to chill

1 cup sugar

3 cups shredded unsweetened coconut

3 egg whites, lightly beaten

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Pinch salt

1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and mix well with a rubber spatula or your hands.

2. Use a non-stick baking sheet, or line a baking sheet with parchment paper. To make the pyramids, wet your hands and scoop out a rounded tablespoon of the mixture into the palm of one hand. Using your other hand, press in gently on both sides of the mixture, bringing the macaroon to a point. Continue pressing with your thumb and forefinger on both sides until you have an even shape. For cubes, start as you would for the pyramids, then gently press equally on all sides, turning the macaroon to square off each side. You can use a butter knife to gently smooth the sides of the pyramids and cubes if you like. For balls, roll the mixture between your palms gently until round.

3. Place each macaroon about an inch apart on the baking sheet. Bake until light brown, about 15 minutes. Remove the baking sheet and cool on a rack for at least 30 minutes before eating. These keep well in a covered container for up to 3 days.

 

Posted in Baking

Real Popcorn

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By Freya Bellin

You may be wondering why you’d need a recipe for something as simple as popcorn, but follow any of the variations below, and you’ll see that popcorn need not be simple—at least not in flavor. As with most pre-packaged foods, microwaveable popcorn doesn’t allow you much control over its seasoning. When you pop plain corn kernels, however, you have the freedom to add as much or as little salt, oil, or anything else, as you like. It tastes cleaner and fresher than anything you can get in a package.

It turns out that popcorn is the perfect “nosh” food for entertaining, especially when you can make it gourmet. I tried three variations: sautéed garlic, curry powder, and truffle salt. The truffle salt by far was the biggest hit. Note that seasonings like minced garlic won’t stick well to the popcorn unless they’re both hot. In general, though, as long as you’ve used enough oil (just enough to coat the bottom of your pan) the extra ingredients should stick fine. The popcorn tastes best hot, so only make as much as you’ll eat in a day. Recipe from The Food Matters Cookbook.

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Posted in American

Raw Beet Salad

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Makes: 4 servings

Time: 20 minutes

Beets, like carrots, can be eaten raw. And they’re delicious that way, crunchy and sweet. So sweet, in fact, that they need a strongly acidic dressing like this one for balance. Recipe from How to Cook Everything Vegetarian.

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Posted in Produce, Recipes

Parsnips and Chicken with Pumpkin Seed Sauce

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By Freya Bellin

I grew up thinking of parsnips as a soup vegetable. My mom always uses them when she makes chicken or vegetable stock, and she adds them to matzo ball soup. However, as my cooking horizons have expanded, I’ve begun to appreciate how versatile parsnips are. They have an earthy sweetness that works very well in broths, but also comes through when roasted or braised, as in this recipe.

You may consider trying this dish with a combination of root vegetables, as the all-parsnip dish was quite sweet. Potatoes, in particular, would be a nice complement to the parsnips and would also go well with the pumpkin seeds. This sauce is a really creative way of adding both flavor and texture to the dish.  Grinding the seeds more makes them more of a thickening agent, and grinding less adds some crunch. The browned chicken is tasty and adds some protein to make this a heartier meal, but the vegetables really take center stage. Recipe from The Food Matters Cookbook.

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Posted in Recipes

Cold Noodles with Peanut or Sesame Sauce

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Makes: 2 main-course or 4 side-dish or appetizer servings

Time: 30 minutes

A crowd-pleaser and an easy starter or side—or a main course on a hot day. To make it more substantial, add 1/2 cup or so of small tofu cubes or cooked soybeans. Or top each serving with a few slices of grilled, roasted, or poached chicken. The cucumber adds nice crunch and freshness to what is otherwise a pretty dense dish. Recipe from How to Cook Everything.

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Posted in Japanese, Recipes

Grape Leaves 2.0

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By Freya Bellin

There’s a whole subset of foods that I would normally be hesitant to make at home because they sound too complicated or too messy. And until this past weekend, stuffed grape leaves would have fallen into this category. Yet, as it turns out, grape leaves—or chard leaves in this case—are pretty easy to make yourself.

I was totally impressed by the filling in this recipe. As I often find with the vegetable side dishes or fillings in this book, I couldn’t resist just eating it straight from the mixing bowl. The tabbouleh is herby and fresh, and I added raisins and walnuts for extra flavor and texture. I highly recommend that addition, especially if you’re accustomed to sweet dolmades. You could also substitute Quinoa Tabbouleh for the filling if you prefer quinoa to bulgur.

The next piece of this recipe is part arts and crafts project. The chard leaves become surprisingly pliable yet sturdy once shocked, and they’re pretty easy to work with. It took me a few tries to master the rolling, but once I got the hang of it they started to look quite professional. It’s tough to take a clean bite of the final product, but the leaves become softer and easier to bite into on day 2, probably due to the acidity of the lemon juice. You may experiment with coating the leaves with extra juice or olive oil to soften them. Needless to say, they take well to being made in advance, and you still end up with an impressive-looking, delicious new take on a classic. Recipe from The Food Matters Cookbook.

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Posted in Middle Eastern, Recipes

Seared Bok Choy with Bacon Vinaigrette

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Makes: 4 servings
Time: 25 minutes

An unusual side dish that’s lovely with a nice piece of salmon or other full-flavored fatty fish. You can grill the bok choy instead of searing it if you like.

Other vegetables you can use: bok choy, Napa cabbage (cut lengthwise into long spears), endive (halved lengthwise), or radicchio (quartered).Recipe from How to Cook Everything.

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Posted in Chinese, Recipes