Monthly Archives: January 2012

One Pot Wonder

Today I made Aloo Gobi Aur Mater a.k.a Cauliflower with Potatoes and Peas (much less adventurous-sounding).  I wanted to share it here because it is a very cheap and easy dish to pull together and leaves a very small number of dishes in your wake:  a wok, a wooden spoon, a knife, measuring spoons and a cutting board–not bad!  I got it from my “Indian Vegetarian Cooking” book by Sumana Ray.  This book has never steered me wrong when I am in the mood for Indian food.  It has chapters on snacks, pulses (lentils and beans), vegetables, rice, bread, sweets, and chutneys and relishes.  Back in the day I remember making a feast out of this book for a dinner party with a professor and his wife.  More to come from this cookbook!  I had mine over red and white quinoa.

Ingredients:

  • 4 tbsp oil (I use about 1, not 4)
  • 2 medium onions, finely chopped
  • 4 cups potatoes, diced into 3/4 inch pieces
  • 1 small cauliflower, cut into 3/4 inch pieces
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/3 tsp chilli powder (I think they mean the hot kind, not the Mexican spice blend)
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tomatoes, chopped (you can used diced canned tomatoes just fine here)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp sugar
  • 1 cup peas
  • 1/2 tsp garam masala spice blend (optional)
  1. Heat the oil in a wok or deep skillet over medium high heat.
  2. Add the onions and fry for 3-4 minutes until light brown.
  3. Add the potatoes and cauliflower and stir.  Add the turmeric, chilli, cumin, tomatoes, salt and sugar.  Stir and fry for 2-3 minutes.
  4. Add the peas, cover and lower heat to medium low and cook for about 20 minutes until the potatoes and cauliflower are tender.  During the cooking period stir the vegetables a few times to stop them from sticking.
  5. Sprinkle with garam masala before serving (optional).

Healthy Blueberry Muffins

Having someone ask you to make a recipe for them is one of the greatest compliments a cook can get.  So when Carrie asked me to make a batch of these blueberry muffins for her, I was flattered!  It took me a few months but I finally made some last night.  I pulled the recipe from Real Simple magazine in the summer of 2011 and it is a well-used recipe already.  Reasons why I am a huge fan of these muffins?  First, they are very easy to make.  It only takes about 15 minutes to pull them together and pop them in the oven.  Second, I always have blueberries in the freezer for smoothies and snacks so one of the main ingredients is always on hand.  Third, they are very yummy.  And finallly, they are actually very healthy!  The ingredient list has flax seed, oatmeal, nuts, whole grain flour, orange juice and yogurt.  They come in under 200 calories per muffin and are great for breakfast or a snack.  I make some modifications to the recipe depending what I have on hand–see recipe for my notes!

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 cups whole-wheat flour, spooned and leveled* (I use King Arthurs White Whole Wheat)
  • 1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1/4 cup flaxseed meal (available at natural-food stores)
  • 1/4 cup pecans (I use whatever nuts I have on hand and have even omitted them before)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup plain low-fat yogurt
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar (If you are looking to lower your sugar intake, reduce the amount of sugar by half.  I accidentally did this with this batch and they still turned out great).
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 tablespoon grated orange zest, plus 1/4 cup orange juice (I use an organic orange so I am not getting the pesticides they spray oranges with into the muffins via orange zest).
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 cups fresh blueberries or one 8-ounce bag frozen blueberries

Directions

  1. Heat oven to 375° F. Line a standard 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners. In a food processor, process the flour, oats, flaxseed meal, pecans, baking powder, baking soda, and salt until finely ground.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the yogurt, sugar, butter, orange zest and juice, egg, and vanilla. Add the flour mixture                                 and mix just until incorporated (do not overmix). Fold in the blueberries.
  3. Divide the batter evenly among the muffin cups. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 22 to 25 minutes.

Pizza Pizza

One of the fastest and most delicious meals I make is homemade pizza.  My secret is going around the corner to the Nantucket Bakery and buying a ball of pizza dough for $3.  I’ve made several types of pizzas and it always just depends on what I have at home.  No marinara?  No problem.  Just put some olive oil and herbs on the crust, top with cheese and whatever toppings you have.  The pizza dough is also great to use as a flatbread, topped with any herbs and toppings you want.  Wherever you are, I bet your local bakery has dough that you can purchase.

The first few times I made homemade pizza, the outside was crispy and the center was done but too soft for my liking.  I discovered that baking the pizza on a lightly oiled cast iron griddle in the oven turns out the perfect crust every time.

For a Girl Who Hates Licorice…

..I sure like fennel!  Especially grilled.  It’s kind of strange because fennel is kind of licorice-y but it does something for me.  When I came across this recipe in Cooking Light magazine I wasn’t so sure about all of the raw fennel so I decided to “grill” about half of the fennel on my double-burner cast iron griddle.  The result was so delicious I kept “sneaking” bites out of the leftovers throughout the night and the next day.  And it looked really pretty too:

Shaved Fennel Salad with Orange, Green Olives, and Pistachios

YIELD: Serves 8 (serving size: 3/4 cup)

HANDS-ON:20 Minutes

TOTAL:20 Minutes

Ingredients

1 tablespoon grated orange rind

3/4 cup orange sections (about 2 large oranges)

3/4 cup coarsely chopped pitted green olives (about 3 ounces)

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/8 teaspoon kosher salt

2 medium fennel bulbs with stalks (about 2 pounds)

1 cup shelled unsalted dry-roasted pistachios

Preparation

1. Combine first 7 ingredients in a large bowl; toss gently to combine.

2. Trim the tough outer leaves from fennel, and mince feathery fronds to measure 2 tablespoons. Remove and discard stalks. Cut fennel bulb in half lengthwise, and discard core. Thinly slice fennel bulbs. Add fennel slices to juice mixture, and toss gently to combine. Sprinkle with fennel fronds and nuts.

Add Some Spice To Your Life

Even though it has been a few weeks since Christmas, I am still coming down from my holiday eating habits.  There was a day after Christmas where I felt like every cell in my body wanted vegetables.  I was starting to feel really sleepy from all of the sugar, butter, cheeses and chocolates.  That day, I made a big pot of minestrone and I ate it for several days–it was such a relief to get away from the unhealthy foods I had been eating for a couple of weeks.  Even after my minestrone week, I have noticed that I continue to crave sugary foods much more than normal and would like to get away from the feeling that I HAVE to have chocolate or another sweet right after meals.

I’m playing with the idea of doing a 1 month detox to get my cravings in check and to increase my energy levels.  That interest led me to search some sites for detox plans and I came across a new blog called http://mynewroots.blogspot.com/.  Last night I made the root vegetable mulligatawny.  All I can say is if detoxing has recipes like this, I’m in!

Root Vegetable Mulligatawny

If you do not have all of the spices on hand, just use a couple tablespoons of your favorite curry powder.

Aura’s note:  I used lemon because I didn’t have tamarind on hand.  I actually had some soup before adding lemon because I forgot that last step and it was just as delicious without it as it was with it.

On the second day I had this (changed the photo to day two because it was prettier!) I topped it with some flax oil, parsley, and pepitas (raw pumpkin seeds).  Also served it with sauteed spinach with some pepitas.  Why pumpkin seeds?  I read there is a lot of magnesium in them, which will reduce cravings for chocolate.  Let’s see if that works…

  • 1 cup dried red lentils
  • 1 Tbsp. coconut oil
  • ½ tsp. mustard seeds
  • 1 Tbsp. curry leaves (about 15)
  • ½ Tbsp. turmeric
  • ¼ tsp. cayenne
  • ½ Tbsp. coriander
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 2 Tbsp. minced ginger
  • 2 small onions, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 6 cups diced mixed root vegetables (carrots, sweet potato, celeriac, parsnips, turnips, daikon, kohlrabi, sunchokes etc.)
  • 1 cup cooked chickpeas (optional)
  • 1 14oz. can diced tomatoes
  • 1 14oz. can coconut milk
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 Tbsp. tamarind paste dissolved in ½ cup water (or juice of ½ lemon)
  • Fresh cilantro, for garnish
  • Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling

1. Cover lentils with water to soak while you prepare the rest of the dish.

2. In a large stockpot, heat the oil and add all spices and minced ginger (not the garlic). Stir often so spices do not burn. When the mix smells fragrant, add onions and cook until softened (if the mix becomes too dry, add a little of the tomato liquid and stir well). Add garlic and cook a couple minutes more.

3. Add the chopped vegetables and stir well to coat with spices. Cook for 5 minutes. Add chickpeas, if using, and cook until heated through. Add canned tomatoes and coconut milk.

4. Drain and rinse lentils very well and add them to the pot, along with the vegetable broth. Bring to a boil, then cover and reduce heat to simmer. Cook for 20-30 minutes until the lentils are soft and the root vegetables tender.

5. Add tamarind (or lemon juice) to the soup. Season to taste.

6. Garnish soup with fresh cilantro and some quality olive oil. Serve hot. Tastes amazing the day after!

Happy New Year!

I found a new blog that has a lot of great “clean” foods to try (http://www.coconutandquinoa.com/).  I made the lemony lentil salad on Saturday afternoon.  Amy Chaplin used parsnips and carrots but I substituted roasted beets for the parsnips.  I felt so good eating this!  This is what mine looked like:

Lemony French lentils with herb roasted vegetables, browned shallots and baby spinach

For the lentils 1 cups French lentils, rinsed

3 bay leaves

3 cloves garlic, peeled and left whole

2 inch piece kombu

Zest and juice of one lemon

2 tablespoons of your best extra virgin olive oil

Sea salt

Black pepper

For the vegetables 5 medium parsnips, scrubbed and cut in ¼’s

2 large carrots, scrubbed and cut in ¼’s (I also cut them in half lengthways)

3 large springs fresh thyme, leaves removed and chopped

3 large sprigs fresh oregano, leaves removed and chopped

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided

Sea salt

Pepper

5 shallots, peeled and sliced

To serve Baby spinach leaves

Lemon zest

Chopped parsley

Place the lentils, bay leaves, 3 cloves of garlic and kombu in a medium sized pot and cover with an inch and a half of filtered water. Place over high heat and bring to a boil, lower heat, cover and simmer 30-35 minutes or until the lentils are soft but not falling apart. Remove from heat and add a pinch of salt, stir and let lentils sit while you prepare the other ingredients.

Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

Place parsnips, carrots, herbs, 2 tablespoons of olive oil, pinch of salt and pepper on a parchment lined baking sheet and toss to combine.

Roast for 30 minutes or until vegetables are golden brown and tender inside.

Remove from oven and set aside.

Warm a skillet over medium high heat, add olive oil and shallots and sauté for 3 to 4 minutes, allowing shoots to brown. Lower heat, add a pinch of salt and continue cooking for 2 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in balsamic vinegar. Set aside.

Remove the bay leaves and kombu from the lentils and drain well. (The lentil cooking liquid is great in soups and broths). Place the lentils in a medium sized-mixing bowl; add the lemon zest and juice, olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. Gently stir, especially if they are still very warm, then set aside.

Place a handful of spinach leaves on 4 plates then top with a large spoon of lentils. Toss the roasted carrots and parsnips and top each plate with about a quarter of the vegetables, making sure to give everyone some crispy herbs. Sprinkle shallots, lemon zest and parsley over each plate and serve.

Serves 4 people as a light meal or side dish.

Christmas Cookies

Every year my mom would bake sugar cookies to bring to our elementary class parties and to give away to friends.  I remember her sitting at the table, spending hours elaborately decorating the cookies.  The last couple of years I have been baking and decorating my own sugar cookies.  They aren’t even close to as pretty as moms but with some practice maybe I will catch up!  This year I used a Michigan cookie cutter for some of the cookies and it was a big hit!

I also made walnut balls and the best ginger cookies ever.  See below photo for the recipes!  Both recipes are from Real Simple magazine.

Chewy Ginger Cookies

Makes 36 cookies

Hands-on Time: 25m

Total Time: 1hr 00m

Ingredients

  • 4 cups all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 cups packed light brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup molasses
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1/2 cup granulated or coarse decorating sugar

Directions

1. Heat oven to 350° F. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, salt, nutmeg, ginger, and cloves; set aside.

2. Using an electric mixer, beat the butter and brown sugar on medium-high until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Beat in the eggs, then the molasses and oil.

3. Reduce mixer speed to low and gradually add the flour mixture, mixing until just combined (do not overmix).

4. Place the granulated sugar on a plate. Shape the dough into balls (about 2 tablespoons each) and, a few at a time, roll in the sugar to coat. Place 3 inches apart on baking sheets.

5. Bake, rotating the baking sheets halfway through, until the edges are firm but the centers are still slightly soft, 16 to 18 minutes. Let cool slightly on the baking sheets, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Tip:  These cookies can be kept at room temperature, between sheets of wax paper or parchment in an airtight container, for about 5 days.

Nutritional Information:

Serving Size: 1 cookie

Calories 184; Fat 7g; Sat Fat 3g; Cholesterol 25mg; Sodium 135mg; Protein 2g; Carbohydrate 29g; Sugar 17g; Fiber 0g; Iron 1mg; Calcium 27mg

Walnut Balls

Makes 36 cookies

Hands-on Time: 25m

Total Time: 1hr 20m

Ingredients

  • 2 cups walnuts
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon, plus more for dusting
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2/3 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Directions

1. Heat oven to 350° F. Spread the walnuts on a rimmed baking sheet and toast in oven, tossing occasionally, until fragrant, 6 to 8 minutes; let cool. In a food processor, process the walnuts until finely ground.

2. In a large bowl, whisk together the ground walnuts, flour, cinnamon, and salt; set aside.

3. Using an electric mixer, beat the butter and ⅓ cup of the sugar on medium-high until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Beat in the vanilla.

4. Reduce mixer speed to low and gradually add the flour mixture, mixing until just combined (do not overmix).

5. Shape the dough into balls (about 1 tablespoon each) and place 2 inches apart on baking sheets.

6. Bake, rotating the baking sheets halfway through, until just beginning to brown, 12 to 14 minutes. Let cool slightly on the baking sheets, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

7. Place the remaining ⅓ cup of sugar on a plate. A few at a time, roll the cookies in the sugar to coat, then dust with additional                     cinnamon.

Tip:  These cookies can be kept at room temperature, between sheets of wax paper or parchment in an airtight container, for about  3 days.

Nutritional Information

Serving Size: 1 cookie

Calories 115; Fat 9g; Sat Fat 4g; Cholesterol 13mg; Sodium 54mg; Protein 2g; Carbohydrate 8g; Sugar 2g; Fiber 1g; Iron 1mg; Calcium 9mg