Cracker Ass, Cracker

12 Mar

olive oil crackers

I’ve always wanted to say that.  White people are sorely lacking in flair when it comes to their insults so I’ve always felt a bit deprived in that department.  This seemed like the perfect, somewhat socially acceptable way for me to finally make my dreams come true.    Now I can go about my business of being a slanderously challenged white girl.

On that note, crackers.  I had a super cheap (that’s how I roll) triangle of brie sitting in the the refrigerator and a hunger pang in my tummy but no bread, crackers or other fine carbohydrate to slather it on.  I did, however, remember a recipe for crackers that I had seen on 101cookbooks.com a while back. Continue reading

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Sunday Morning Spelt Scones

7 Mar

vegan spelt scones

What would we do without Sunday mornings?  At least for now they’re my only  respite from the frenzy.  Although I haven’t slept in for ten years, waking up at 6am doesn’t suck quite as bad when you know you don’t HAVE to do anything the rest of the day.  Nothing quite fits as nicely with that feeling of endless possibility as a delicious scone and a hot cup of black coffee.  Sigh.  However, since I don’t want to spend my entire Sunday tied to a treadmill as a result of said scone, I went on a hunt for a healthy(ier) alternative to the full fat cream and butter scones we all know and love. Continue reading

Beluga Lentils Two Ways

3 Mar

black lentils

It seems to me I’ve seen a lot of this or that done three ways lately.  Is this a new fad or am I behind the times?  Probably the latter.  I know I saw the chefs preparing dishes three ways many times on Top Chef this past season.  But those fools also kept pronouncing ceviche in a way that rhymes with bleach or screech so what do they know?   OK so maybe they know something I don’t but everybody else on earth adds the festive (and probably the more culturally appropriate)  “ay” at the end.  They just sound like pompous, cheese-eating, sideways monkeys (my new favorite insult – I stole it from Top Gear).  But I digress, where was I?  Oh yes, three ways.  Well, I was only 2/3 motivated last night.  It was Tuesday.  What do you want from me?  I’m only one person.  So here we have Beluga/black lentils two ways.  I’ve never used black lentils before but I found them during my pilgrimage to Whole Foods and they were just too pretty to resist.  Continue reading

OMG, I’m So Sick of The Cupcake Trend…

1 Mar

mocha cupcakes

So here’s yet another cupcake recipe.   This cupcake is slightly special though, I promise.   Made with spelt flour and Medjool dates, this cupcake is fibery (shut up, it’s a word) enough to make your grandma give up her Metamucil.  Plus, one of the nice things about cupcakes is that they are easy to share.  You have to admit it’s slightly ghetto and creepy to bring 1/2 a cake over to someone’s house but you bring a plate of cupcakes and you’re the super rad, trendy friend who just saved them from spending $20 at the gourmet cupcake shop.

Disclaimer:  I used Deglet dates because that’s all they had at my grocery store and to be perfectly honest, I don’t know the stinkin’ difference.  However, I used the handy dandy internet to look it up when I got home.  Apparently, Deglets are the shriveled, dried up, red-headed stepbrother of the Medjool.  That being said, I used them and the cupcakes turned out great.  I make no representations as to the awesomeness of the cupcakes if made with Medjools.  Who knows, they might suck. Continue reading

Portabello Mushroom Risotto

27 Feb

portobello mushroom risotto

My first time eating risotto was a below average experience.  I was at a wonderful beer dinner put on by a brewery out of San Diego.  It was a great experience and I don’t mean to disparage the cooks but I don’t believe the main focus was on their vegetarian option which was a butternut squash risotto.  It was a mushy mess.  I had always heard risotto described as creamy so I thought, perhaps, this was how it was meant to be.  Since that time, I’ve been afraid to give risotto another go.

Luckily, while perusing Heidi Swanson’s 101 Cookbooks, I can across her recipe for Seaweed Risotto and thought it sounded interesting.  Then I remembered what I’ll term the “Great Butternut Squash Risotto Debacle of 2006” and my gag reflex kicked in.  A few saltines and a glass of water later, I decided that there had to be more to this risotto thing.  After all, you can hardly watch the Food Network or go to a restaurant these days without being confronted by an array of risottos.

I tried a little of that deep hippie breathing that my yoga instructor advocates and I decided to just go for it.  Instead of trying the Seaweed Risotto recipe first, I thought that it would be a good idea to try a rice risotto so that I would have something to compare it to.  I had a couple nice portabellos in the refrigerator so I did a quick search for “mushroom risotto”.  I found this recipe on Epicurious.  I didn’t have a few of the ingredients so I adapted it with what I had on hand.

The result was a delicious dish with just the right amount of texture, creaminess (rather than mush) and plenty of flavor.  I also used veggie broth rather than chicken to make it vegetarian since that is my preferred diet, much to my husband’s dismay.  However, I sometimes do eat fish or chicken on those off nights where I don’t want to prepare two meals.  Never, ever anything that used to have four legs though.  I don’t know why.  It just creeps me out.  Continue reading

Tuna Noodle Casserole with Leeks and Fresh Dill

25 Feb

tuna noodle casserole

I needed a relatively easy dish to make for dinner tonight since we had baseball practice to go to.  I found this bad boy also in the March Issue of Bon Appetit.

The family gave it 3 out of 5 stars but that’s just because our ranking system works like this:  one star awarded for each member of the family willing to eat it.  The microscopic flecks of green ruled out the possibility that Brody (age 6) would bring it within a foot of his mouth.  Hadley (age 1) was asleep so I guess she didn’t really get a chance to vote. Continue reading

Blood Orange Polenta Upside-Down Cake

23 Feb

The family and I got home late last Sunday from a wedding in Solvang.   Happily, I found my new March 2010 issue of Bon Appetit waiting for me in the mail pile.  I have a strange habit of reading magazines from back to front or randomly as the subscription inserts dictate so the first page I opened to had a gorgeous picture of their Blood Orange Polenta Upside-Down Cake with Whipped Creme Fraiche.   Ok, so the picture looks great but honestly, blood oranges with peel on?  On a cake?  That sounds suspect.  Actually, it sounds awful.  Naturally, I must try it!

Last night I went to Henry’s to hunt down some blood oranges.  All they had were these beasts that look like they came straight out of the Jurassic period – I was hoping for something a little more ladylike.  I bought ’em anyway but I think I’m going to try again at Albertsons or Vons (my only other options).  Fingers crossed.  Anyhoozle, I’ll update with pics and a scathing review.

A couple days later…

Work lead me to the aptly named Orange County which lead me to none other than the elusive WHOLE FOODS.

Blood Oranges Which lead me to none other than the sweet, dainty, Kristin Chenoweth of blood oranges.  [Lame joke alert]  My original blood oranges must have been juicing.  [Groan!]

I think I’m now all set to actually cook the darn thing.  More on that when we return.

The verdict:  Plain and simple, I was right to begin with.
Orange peels do not belong on dessert.  At least not prepared as instructed in this recipe.  The polenta cake and whipped creme fraiche were very tasty once you remove the oranges.  My only complaint with the polenta cake was that some of the polenta didn’t cook entirely so there was a bit of grit to contend with (maybe a more finely ground polenta would work better).  The oranges tasted like an exteremely sour grapefruit in a bad way.  Once removed however, I actually enjoyed the cake.blood orange array

A few details to consider if you are going to try this recipe.  I used a cast iron skillet because it is the only oven safe vessel that I own that is10″ diameter.  While preparing what the recipe called the “caramel” I noticed that the sugar was prone to forming crystals.  I had to make it again because it got so crunchy the first time around.  I’m not sure if the pan choice was to blame.  I’d probably try a stainless steel pan next time around.  I never did achieve what I would consider a caramel.

On a health note, I switched out the all purpose flour for some whole wheat pastry flour.  I’ve found so many ways to sneak whole grains into the family diet and this recipe lends well to whole wheat flour.  Of course, the cake still isn’t a health food but it doesn’t hurt to up the nutritional ante at every given opportunity.

My cake certainly didn’t turn out as pretty as the picture either.  My pan may have been the culprit here too.  Perhaps a smooth sided pan would lend better to a more perfect cake wall.

Blood Orange Polenta Cake I plan to play around with this recipe a bit.  I think it would be great with strawberries.  Perhaps an upside-down shortcake of sorts.  There might even be a way to candy the oranges prior to baking…

It wasn’t perfect and I wouldn’t make it the same way again but I’m glad I tried it.