Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The best (not so healthy) cookies that I've made in a while

Super Chocolatey Chocolate-Chocolate Chip Cookies (Minimally adapted from the Post Punk Kitchen)

These tasty little morsels won over my office today and not one single person believed me when I told them that they were vegan! These are somewhere between a brownie and a cookie...The perfect treat when the afternoon starts to make you feel a little woozy and in need of a nap.

3/4 cup walnut oil
1 1/4 cups sugar
2 t vanilla

1 T + 1 t whole flax seeds
1/2 cup vanilla almond milk

2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup dutch processed cocoa powder
1 t cinnamon
1 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
1 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Grind the flax seeds on high in a blender until they become a powder. Add the almond milk and blend for another 30 seconds or so. Set aside.

In a large bowl sift together flour, cocoa, cinnamon, baking soda and salt.

In a separate large bowl cream together oil and sugar. Add the flax seed/almond milk mixture and mix well. Add the vanilla.

Fold in the dry ingredients in batches. When it starts to get too stiff to mix with a spatula, use your hands until a nice stiff dough forms. Add the chocolate chips and mix with your hands again.

Scoop the dough into balls using a 1T measuring spoon. Place on the prepared cookie sheet about an inch apart. (They won't spread much.)

Bake for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool for about 5 minutes, then set them on a wire rack to cool completely.

As Ina says, these lend themselves well to variations. Add nuts! Coconut! Dried fruit! These may also be awesome with coconut oil instead of the walnut oil and I've used olive oil instead of walnut oil with no ill effects at all.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

A simplified version of my favorite Winter soup.

I think I made that Kabocha squash and French lentil soup from 101 cookbooks at least 20 times in the months since Heidi posted it. I am obsessed. It is the best soup ever. (Okay, its tied with the white beans and greens soup and black bean soup that my mom has been making me since I was very wee.)But, it's labor intensive and uses a lot of dishes and squash season is over. So, I've re-done the recipe to make it a one pot, one cutting board, one knife kind of pantry recipe. The lovely thing is that this soup costs about $5 to make, thins out beautifully (so you can really stretch it), and lends itself to impulsive variations. It also makes its own tasty broth, so there's no need to whip up or buy veggie stock saving both money and time, things I am definitely short on lately! I've made it three times this week and have had it cold, over rice, with a salad, thinned out with water, thickened up with greens, topped with red pepper purée...and it just keeps satisfying me. So, I hope that if you try it, you'll like it at least half as much as I do.

Necessary Ingredients
(about) 1/4 cup olive oil
2 carrots, 1/4" dice
1 small sweet onion, 1/4" dice
1 medium size thin skinned potato, 1/4" dice (I like Yukon Gold and you could add 2 potatoes if you want it to be heartier.)
1 large clove garlic, minced
3/4- 1 cup French Lentils
2 dried bay leaves
1 star anise
1/2- 1 t dried ginger OR 2 T fresh grated ginger (If you use fresh, add it after the onions and potatoes have begun to sweat.)
5- 6 cups filtered water
1 tbsp good quality balsamic vinegar
sea salt to taste

Optional Ingredients
1 red, yellow or orange bell pepper, 1/4" dice (added in with the carrots and onions, this will add a rich sweetness to the soup)
any cubed vegetables that you have lying around. I think some quartered and roasted brusssels sprouts sound like they'd be good thrown in at the end.
puréed roasted bell pepper (1/4 cup) (as a drizzle on top)
chard or kale, chopped
cooked wheat berries or brown rice (to thicken the soup and add body)
a hefty wedge of warm bread (because soup is better with bread!)
cubed avocado (because its great on everything)
Chopped and toasted walnuts as a garnish (Omega 3's!) get the idea.

Start with a large or medium soup pot. Heat the oil and add the onion and carrot, cook over medium heat for about 10 minutes. The onions can get a little brown, but you're going for clear, fragrant and that good caramelizing smell.

Add the cubed potato and garlic. Stir and cook for just another minute. Do not let the garlic get any color or it will be bitter.

Add the lentils, 4 cups of water and the bay leaves. Cover the pot and bring to a boil. Let it boil for about 5- 8 minutes (This is a good time to wash your cutting board and clean off the counter...Or, check your email or whatever...This is truly a procrastinatory soup!)

Reduce the heat to low and add the ginger and anise. Simmer partially covered until the lentils are soft. Then add the balsamic and salt to taste. It is important not to add salt or acid until the lentils are fully cooked! Remove the anise and bay leaves and set aside. (I like to throw them in with the left overs...But, you can probably thrown them out.)Add 1- 3 cups more water (depending on how brothy a soup you want) and simmer uncovered for about 10 more minutes. At this point you can ladel out what you're going to store and add greens to the pot, but I wouldn't put the greens in the soup you plan to hold as leftovers.


A new favorite Summer meal: Black-Eyed Pea and Potato Tacos!

Two weeks ago I went on an awesome date with a very cute boy who rides a very nice bike and smiles a lot. In addition to lounging in Tompkins Square Park for hours, that date involved a visit to an amazing spice shop in the East Village where there are also amazing bulk dried fruits, beans, jarred chutneys, etc. I may have gone a little overboard...But, I'm not one to argue for 5 pounds of dried Turkish apricots for $6! The day after the date and the spice-spree, I found the most beautiful watercress at the greenmarket. And so, this little gem of a dinner was born. These tacos (plus the spicy dark chocolate and trappist ale I washed it down with...) were the perfect end to a beautiful day and the satisfying meal I needed after a 30 mile bike jaunt around the manhattan! Sadly, I gobbled them down before taking a picture...But, I guarantee you that it was a BEAUTIFUL, colorful meal. These are light and surprisingly complex and flavorful for a super quick meal, and seriously satisfying. I think these would be great with sweet potatoes or squash in place of the yukon golds too! Dare I recommend pairing these tacos with your favorite beer and an evening on the porch with someone sweet? Bliss.

Ingredients (Serves 2)
2 yukon gold potatoes, cubed
1/2 large sweet onion, sliced
1 cup cooked black eyed peas (Save the rest of your batch for another meal...I'm thinking tumeric scented empanadas!)
1 clove garlic, minced
smoked paprika
ground cumin
ground coriander
cayenne pepper
1 t agave or maple syrup
sea salt

A healthy amount of rinsed and dried watercress
1 bell pepper, chopped small
1 large carrot, chopped small
A hefty handful of chopped cilantro (like 3/4 cup!)

1 avocado, sliced
whole grain tortillas (I like the Ezekiel ones, toasted over the stove until a bit crispy)

In a large nonstick skillet, heat some olive oil over low-medium heat and start caramelizing the onions. When they start to get clear, add the potatoes and let them sit until they begin to brown. Cook the potatoes and onions together for about 8 minutes and then add the cooked beans and chopped garlic. Let the beans brown for a minute or two and then add about 1/2t each of cumin, coriander, and smoked paprika. Stir lightly. Let the beans, onions and potatoes continue to brown. When they are getting a lot of color, add a dash of cayenne pepper, some salt and the syrup. Let cook until dry...You want like a hash consistency, this takes some time and requires that you not stir too much. Remove your delicious pile of smokey carbs and beans from the heat and squeeze half a lime over the top.

While the beans and potatoes are turning into magic taco filling, toss the watercress with the carrots, peppers, most of the cilantro, a little olive oil, lime juice and some salt and pepper.

Assemble each taco with a bit of the salad, a scoop of the potatoes and beans, a slice of avocado and some more cilantro.