Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Lentil Milanese

An Italian Delight...now made with lentils!!!

Spicy Lentil Candles was recently inspired (not by a reader comment, because no one ever makes them) but by a trip to the delightful restaurant, Mulberry's, in Lackawanna.  Mike ordered veal milanese and we thought to ourselves, "how can we do this with lentils?"  What follows are instructions for this delicious experiment.  Enjoy.

1.  The lentil portion starts with a lentil loaf with a few flavor modifications.  To capture Italian flavors, substitute the ginger with 4 cloves of minced garlic and the
2 tablespoons of chopped cilantro with 2 tablespoons of chopped parsley.

Make this loaf the day before so it is chilled and firm and will bread and fry well. 

Steaming carrots and cooking lentils for the loaf
Everything ready to be blended into a loaf

The baking loaf

2.  Prepare 3 pie plates for breading.  1 contains flour, 1 contains 2 beaten eggs, 1 contains seasoned bread crumbs.  Slice the cold prepared lentil loaf into 1/2 inch thick slices.  First dredge in the flour and tap off excess.  Next dip the loaf into the egg.  Finally dredge in the bread crumbs, pressing firmly until they adhere on all sides to completely coat the piece of lentil loaf.

Breading Process

All breaded and ready to go

3.  Fry the breaded loaf in olive oil until golden brown on both sides.  You'll know it's time to flip it when the golden color starts to be visible up the edges of the loaf.  Set the fried piece on paper towels to drain.

Hot fried loaves
 4.  Make the salad.  The dressing is very simple.  Just zest and juice a lemon, whisk in some olive oil and add salt and pepper.  Toss a handful of arugula per serving with the dressing and place atop the breaded and fried lentil slice.  Add some sliced cherry tomatoes, and shred some Parmesan cheese over top.  

Sunday, August 28, 2011

The Real Veggie Yummwich

I sometimes suffer disappointment when eating out a restaurants when I experience a mind-menu disconnect.  Basically I read a menu item, imagine it in my mind as some delicious creation, and when it comes to the table, the menu item is shockingly far from being anything like what I imagined.  This scenario does not always end in disappointment because sometimes the things that arrive are different from what I imagined but still delicious.  But then sometimes the food that arrives is just gross.

I suffered extreme disappointment at Betty's restaurant when I ordered the "Roasted Veggie Yummwich."  Their menu describes this sandwich as follows:

"Roasted Veggie Yummwich . . . . . $9.25
roasted eggplant, zucchini, yellow squash, red and green peppers,
onions, garlic, mushrooms, sundried tomatoes and fresh herbs;
with lemon garlic mayo, asiago cheese, sprouts and tomatoes
in a large flour tortilla"

The thing that came out contained all these items (maybe) but they had been diced into such tiny pieces that nothing was clearly recognizable.  It was also greasy.

What follows is my recipe for a true veggie yummwich for people who love vegetables and enjoy eating food that does not appear to be pre-chewed. 

1 ciabatta loaf (makes 4 sandwiches)
1/2 small (4 oz.) goat cheese log rolled in herbs

1/2 sweet onion sliced on medium setting on mandoline (I love love love using the madoline because it does such a great job slicing all these veggies evenly and quickly.)
1 zucchini sliced on medium setting on mandoline
1 red pepper, cut into thin strips
1 eggplant cut into rounds
 handful fresh arugula. 

1.  Heat oil in pan and saute onions and peppers until soft.
2.  When peppers and onions are almost done, push them to the side of the pan.  Add the zucchini to the pan and cook until tender.  Season veggies with salt and pepper.
3.  Meanwhile oil a baking sheet and roast lightly salted eggplant in a 400 oven, turning once, until soft.

To assemble the sandwiches:
4.  Cut the ciabatta loaf in half lengthwise and then slice each half so you have a base and top for your sandwich.
5.  Spread the base with the softened goat cheese.
6.  Add a light layer of arugula.
7.  Add a layer of peppers and onions.
8.  Add a layer of eggplant.
9.  Add a layer of zucchini slices.  (the thin slices will almost look like slices of deli meat when you pile them on.)
10.  Place the top of the bread on the sandwich, press down slightly and using a sharp knife cut each half diagonally into two triangle sandwiches.

This sandwich will only cost you $2.78 per sandwich ($11.12 for 4 sandwiches)!  So for about the same price of going to Betty's and being severely disappointed by yourself you can invite three friends over for lunch to have a delicious meal and a great time.  We ate two of the sandwiches for dinner, and wrapped the other two up overnight to take for lunch the next day, and that turned out quite well also.

Of course, you could take inspiration from the list of ingredients on Betty's sandwich and modify this recipe to your tastes.  I personally think there is just too much going on in that sandwich, and perhaps that's why everything needed to be in such small pieces.  Regardless, I prefer my sandwich because I would rather enjoy fewer ingredients in a more meaningful way.  Also, I think the substitution of herbed goat cheese does a much better job of imparting flavor, richness and creaminess than using a combination of melting cheese and flavored mayo, which mostly just added greasiness.

Tell me what's in your veggie sandwich! 


Friday, June 10, 2011

Tortilla Espanola

Tortilla Espanola is, as some would say, "the food of my people."  It is probably not what you think about when you think about a tortilla.  You may be imagining a flour tortilla that you would roll a burrito in, but instead it is an egg potato and onion omelet that can be cut in slices like a pie.  It is unbelievably delicious!  It is also a pretty simple recipe to make, except for one stressful moment right in the middle.  The whole process will take about an hour.

1 onion
4 potatoes
5 or 6 eggs
olive oil

1.   Thinly slice the potatoes into rounds using a mandoline and cook in a half inch of olive oil for about 15 minutes (until soft, but not browned), salting, and turning once.  Drain potatoes on a paper towel.  (If you want to save on fat and calories you can steam the potatoes until soft, but the tortilla is definitely more delicious if you fry the potatoes in oil.)

2.  Thinly slice the onion and cook in some olive oil until soft.

3.  Scramble the eggs in a bowl and add salt and pepper.

4.  Add the onions and potatoes to the egg mixture and mix to combine.

5.  Pour the mixture into a large hot frying pan with a bit of oil in it.  Slide a spatula around the edges and shake the pan a bit to make sure nothing is sticking.  Use a spatula to press down on the potatoes and make a nice even top on the tortilla.

6.  When the bottom of the tortilla is a nice golden brown you are ready to flip it.  Put a plate a little larger than the pan over the top of the pan, grab some potholders, take a deep breath, and flip the tortilla away from you, onto the plate.  Put the frying pan back on the stove and use the spatula to slide the tortilla off the plate and back into the pan to cook through the other side.  Keep running a spatula around the tortilla to make a nice clean round edges.  Once it is golden on the other side slide it out of the pan and onto a plate.

7.  Cut into wedges and serve.  Tortilla is delicious if eaten at room temperature or cold.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Lentil Pasties (short "a" sound)

Pasties are a culinary tradition of Michigan's Upper Peninsula where they were historically a food carried by the copper miners into the mines for a delicious and hearty lunch or dinner.  Traditionally pasties would be made with beef, but, you guessed it, we made ours with lentils!

This recipe is delicious, but certainly not the quickest or easiest recipe.  As we made these I imagined myself as a copper miner's wife, up in the wee hours of the morning rolling out all this dough while cursing the world that I was up at this early hour and going to such trouble.  Even though these were a little time intensive, I thought they were totally worth the effort based on the deliciousness factor.  But it's probably a good thing that they take a little time and effort to make, because otherwise I would want to eat these all the time, and eating delicious, buttery pastries all the time turns one's body into a buttery pastry--something I'd rather avoid.

The process is (briefly) as follows: (makes about 8 pasties)
1.  Make and chill pastry dough
2.  Cook lentils and cool to room temperature
3.  Chop veggies and mix with lentils
4.  Roll out pastry dough
5.  Fill dough and shape into pasties
6.  Bake pasties

Now, in more detail:

1.  Make and chill pastry dough
Pastry dough is actually very simple and easy to make in the food processor, and so unbelievably delicious.  To anyone out there who likes to put Crisco or shortening in your dough - 1. gross! and 2.  try this dough, it is so much better!

Pulse in bowl of food processor for 10 seconds:
2.5 cups flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
2 sticks of COLD butter cut into pieces.

With machine running, slowly add 1/4 cup icy cold water and process for no longer than 30 seconds.

Test dough with your fingers, it should hold together when pressed.  This is it!  You are done!

Divide the dough into equal 3 ounce portions, roll into balls and flatten slightly with your hand.  Throw in the fridge to use today or in the freezer if you want to use later.  This dough is also delicious for fruit pies and makes enough for a top and bottom crust.

Pastry Dough - 3 ounce portions, slightly flattened, ready to chill and then roll out.

2.  Cook lentils and cool to room temperature

Cook 1/2 cup lentils in 2 cups of vegetable stock.  Let cool to room temperature.

3.  Chop veggies and mix with lentils

Chop into 1/2 inch dice:
2 turnips
3 carrots
1 onion
3 potatoes

Season with salt and pepper
Mix with lentils

4.  Roll out pastry dough

Clean and lightly flour your work surface and rolling pin.  Roll out the dough, starting by rolling out a bit, turning dough 1/8 turn to the left, rolling out a bit of dough, turning dough 1/8 turn to the left, and repeating until dough is rolled out flat enough that you can cut a 10-inch round using a plate as a guide.  

Rolling out dough on floured work surface
10-inch round cut from rolled dough
5.  Fill dough and shape into pasties

Place about 1 cup of lentil filling on the dough and fold dough over the mixture.  Crimp the edges together and seal.  Cut several slits in the pastry dough and lightly glaze with an egg wash.  If you have any extra pasty filling, put it in a casserole dish and bake it alongside. 

Adding filling to the dough

Folding the dough over

Ready-to-bake, with slits cut into pastry and glazed with an egg wash
6.  Bake pasties

Bake in 350 oven for about 40 minutes.  Check on your dough and pull your pasties when they are looking delicious and golden brown.  Cool slightly on a wire rack before serving.  Pasties can be served hot or cold.

Cooked pasty, resting on a wire rack--before being devoured!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Sloppy Lentils

Good old sloppy joes with a lentil twist.  (This recipe makes 8 sandwiches.)

1.  Cook 1 1/4 cup lentils in 4 cups vegetable broth.

2.  In a separate pan saute in some olive oil:
  • 1 grated onion (grated onions are much juicier than chopped, so cook until all the excess water has evaporated away leaving the pan dry)
then add:
  • 2 stalks celery small dice
  • 1 red pepper small dice
  • 3 cloves garlic minced

When veggies are crisp tender add the spice mix, stir to coat and toast spices for a minute or so.

Spice mix:
  • 1/2  tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp ground cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 tsp dry ground mustard
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground cumin
  • dash of ground all spice
  • dash of cinnamon
  • dash of nutmeg

3.  Mix it up!
Add to fully cooked lentils:
  • spiced-cooked veggies
  • A 28 ounce can of crushed tomatoes
  • Tbl brown sugar
  • Tbl cider vinegar
  • 5 dashes of Worcestershire sauce

Bring to a boil and let simmer 10 minutes to combine flavors.

4.  Lightly toast some buns and using a slotted spoon to drain the mix a bit, pile the lentils atop.  We used Wegmans seeded Kaiser rolls.

5.  Enjoy (with a napkin ready).  I enjoyed my sloppy lentil sandwich with a side of macaroni salad.

Lentil Golabki

By guest poster / collaborator : Mike

The City of Buffalo recently celebrated yet another Dyngus Day.  This Polish holiday follows Easter Sunday and there is normally a table full of delicious Polish foods to enjoy at our friends’ place for the festivities.  I have gotten in the habit of making pierogi the last few years but I figured this would be the year to try something else.  Although our friends have postponed their Dyngus Day party until their schedules are free, I’ve decided to try out another experiment before I bring it over for all to enjoy: Lentil Golabki.  Golabki are pretty much cabbage leaves stuffed with beef and rice, cooked in a tomato sauce.  They are always great but the meat can be a bit much sometimes.  Obviously, a perfect opportunity to try it with lentils!

Here are the ingredients:

1 large green cabbage
2 tbls unsalted butter
1 onion – chopped
1 garlic clove – minced
4/3 cups dry brown lentils (rinsed)
4 cups chicken stock
1 cup rice
1 green pepper – shredded
2 celery stalks – diced
4 cups tomato puree

First, bring a large pot of water to a boil.  While waiting for the water to boil, remove the core from the cabbage and dice/chop/shred vegetables.  I use a cheese shredder for the green pepper – it’s kind of awkward to shred the pepper like this but it really gets it to a perfect size.  Cook the one cup of rice in a separate, smaller pot in two cups of water (bring water to a boil, add rice, cover and simmer 20mins) and set aside when done.

When the large pot of water is boiling, lower to a medium-high heat and throw in the whole cabbage.  After a couple of minutes you should be able to start peeling away the cabbage leaves.  You won’t be able to remove all the leaves right away so you’ll have to keep coming back to the pot and peeling them away - I suggest using tongs while the cabbage remains in the hot water.  Pull as many leaves away as possible because you’ll want to make as many golabki as you can.  Cut off any excess stem from the leaf because those will be too tough to eat.  Don’t discard the cabbage water - you’ll need some later.  

In another pot, brown the onions in the butter with some salt and pepper (1/2 tsp of each) and add the garlic.  After cooking the garlic for a couple minutes, add the chicken stock and lentils and bring to a boil.  Lower the heat on the lentils and cover and cook for 20mins.  After 20mins, remove the cover, turn up the heat and let the lentils reduce a bit - otherwise the filling will be too wet.  When the lentils have reduced, remove a cup and blend in blender and return the blended portion to the rest of the lentils, or use an immersion blender to blend about a cups worth.

In a large mixing bowl, add the rice, celery, green pepper and the lentils.   Line the bottom of a Dutch Oven with some of the cabbage leaves.  With the remaining cabbage leaves, spoon about 1/3 cup of the lentil filling into a cabbage leaf and roll it from stem to tip, pinching in the sides to keep filling from coming out.  Place each roll into the lined Dutch Oven, keeping them close together and place additional ones on top if necessary.  In a separate mixing bowl, mix two cups of the cabbage water with the tomato puree and pour it over the stuffed leaves.  Place the Dutch Oven on the stove and bring the cabbage-tomato puree to a boil.  Reduce to a simmer and cover the pot, cover for an hour or when the cabbage is tender. 

I served it with some sour cream but Martha discovered if you mix some dill with the sour cream, it’s even more delicious.  I’m thinking of adding carrots but any other additions or suggestions are welcome too!

Hungarian Lentil Goulash

By guest poster / collaborator : Mike

After Martha decided to make the focus of this blog on lentil-based recipes, we made a list of classic dishes/recipes to experiment with where we would replace the ground beef that would normally be used with cooked lentils.  However, Martha is busy with school so I have more free time than her to try things.  Therefore, I am guest blogging to share a lentil experiment: Hungarian Lentil Goulash.

Growing up, “goulash” in my family was just elbow macaroni, canned stewed tomatoes, and ground beef.  Most school cafeterias would serve a similar type of “goulash.”  Consequently, goulash in mind was never anything too spectacular.  However, a few years ago I was watching a cooking show and they were making a more “authentic” dish.  I was surprised at how much more delicious-looking goulash really was—leave it to American food science and a “time-saving” mentality to reduce something so fantastic into something so bland.  This blog gave me an opportunity to make that much more delicious dish but to throw some lentils in too.

This recipe is adapted from the one in “The Joy of Cooking.” Here are the ingredients:

4 oz. bacon – diced
2 onions – thinly sliced
6 garlic cloves – minced
½ cup Hungarian Paprika
3 red bell peppers – diced
2 carrots – diced
1 tbl. dried marjoram
1 tsp. caraway seeds
1 tsp. black pepper
3 bay leaves
1 - 16oz. bag of dry brown lentils (rinsed)
8 cups beef stock
1 cup red wine (preferably Zinfandel/Primitivo)
1 lb. sauerkraut – drained
¼ cup tomato puree
sour cream

First, brown the bacon bits in a Dutch Oven.  The Dutch Oven is one of the best stew/soup making dishes to have and its versatility is what really makes it so great.  Anyway, after you’ve browed the bacon bits, remove them from the pot (don’t worry they’ll come back) and add the onion with a little salt (about ½-1 tsp).  Make sure the onion is very thinly sliced; I suggest cutting the onion in half (from stem to root) and using a mandolin to achieve an even cut.  Once the onions are soft and browned slightly, throw in the paprika—make sure it is Hungarian Paprika and not just hot paprika!  It seems like an absurd amount of paprika but it really adds a lot of color and flavor.  When the onions are coated throw in the garlic, red peppers, carrots, caraway seeds and the other three spices.  Mix it all up and then add the beef stock, lentils, sauerkraut, tomato puree and red wine.  I suggest Zinfandel/Primitivo since it is believed that this varietal originated in Hungary – giving this dish perhaps a bit more authenticity.  In addition, the fruity-pepperiness of this wine really contributes to the flavor of this dish.  As with all dishes that call for wine don’t be too cheap with the bottle you choose, it can reflect poorly in the dish.  Plus you’ll want to enjoy the rest of the bottle with the finished meal!  Bring the pot to a boil, return the cooked bacon bits to the pot, lower the heat to a simmer , cover and cook for 30mins or until lentils are tender.  Spoon the goulash over egg noodles (remember, don’t serve the bay leaves to anyone) and garnish the top with a dollop of sour cream.  It can also be served over brown rice, which we had to do since this recipe makes a lot of goulash and we ran out of egg noodles after the second day.

I want to try adding potatoes and/or mushrooms the next time I make it.  I’m also trying to think of ways to make this into a vegetarian dish.  Not that I’m a vegetarian (obviously) but sometimes replacing meat can be a fun challenge.  I can only think to use porcini mushrooms in place of bacon, treating it like the bacon in this recipe (but sautéing in vegetable oil first) and using a dark vegetable stock instead of beef stock (Moosewood Restaurant has a dark vegetable stock recipe that just adds mushrooms and lentils to a normal vegetable stock to get the dark color and earthy flavor).  Any other suggestions are welcome!

Let me know what you think of this dish and up next – Lentil Golabki.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Carrot-Lentil Loaf

This is my absolute favorite!  I have never actually made it, Mike does it every time, but it seems simple from an outsider's perspective.  This is an amazing comfort food dinner that doesn't leave you feeling like you ate a ton of comfort food.  In addition to macaroni salad (about which I hope to blog about soon) meat loaf is another typical American food my family never made while I was growing up, and that I didn't experience until later in my life.  Now that I have tried both this delicious low-fat carrot lentil loaf and actual meat loaf, I have to say I much prefer the former.  Please try it for yourself.  You will not be sorry--unless you try to serve at a fancy dinner party, because on the first night it doesn't plate well for presentation.  Nevertheless it it delicious.  We originally found the recipe on Epicurious.com.  I would have attached the direct link, but I can't find it anymore.

2 cups sliced carrot
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cups vertically sliced onions
1 tablespoon minced peeled fresh ginger
2 cups cooked lentils
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons ketchup
2 large egg whites
1 large egg
1/2 cup quick-cooking oats
1/2 cup garlic and herb bread crumbs
1/3 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Steam carrot, covered, 15 minutes or until tender.

Heat oil in large non-stick skillet over medium high heat.  Add onion and ginger, saute 7 minutes or until golden.

Combine the carrot, onion mixture, lentils, and the next 4 ingredients (lentils through egg) in a food processor (we use an immersion blender right in the pot) and process until smooth.  Combine carrot mixture, oats, breadcrumbs, walnuts, and salt in a large bowl.  Spoon mixture into an 8 x 4 greased loaf pan.

Bake at 350 F for 45 minutes.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Lentil Lasagna

Sometimes I crave a delicious, juicy hamburger, but mostly these cravings are few and far between.  Usually in my meal portions I prefer a high ratio of vegetables, and a tiny piece of meat, if at all.  Lasagna is one dish in particular I would never order out in a restaurant for fear of getting an obscene and mammoth amount of meat on my plate. 

I love making veggie lasagnas, but one day I began dreaming of a lentil lasagna, and decided to create my own recipe to incorporate all the flavors and ingredients I love.  Today I am pleased to share this creation with you.  I hope you will experiment with it, and add your own special touches and share your experiences with me.  Just like the lentil tacos, I think this recipe demonstrates quite well how the lentil can hold its own against ground beef in recipes.  It adds protein and body to the dish, to create a hearty, nutritious meal that won't weigh you down and leave you feeling regretful.

Lentil Mixture

1/2 onion chopped
2 celery sticks chopped in small dice
2 carrots chopped in small dice
2 cups lentils
water to cover

Heat some olive oil, add the chopped veggies and cook until softened.  Add water and lentils, bring mixture to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer until the lentils are soft (about 25 minutes).  Remove half of this lentil mixture and puree using an immersion blender.  Add pureed lentils back to pot and cook mixture uncovered until it is a thicker consistency and not so soupy that it would be ridiculous to attempt to add the mixture to a lasagna. 

I decided to blend part of the lentils to give this mixture a more cohesive structure.  I think this blended part helps it give uniform structure to the lasagna while the remaining whole lentils give it body and texture like ground beef.  If you like the way your lentils look whole, you could also try using them like that.

Tomato "Sauce"

1 28 oz can chopped tomato
oregano, thyme, italian spices
salt pepper
olive oil

Mix ingredients together and let marinate for 1/2 hour before lasagna assembly.  I used this seasoned tomato mixture instead of sauce because I was worried about making a lasagna that was too wet and soupy.

Ricotta mixture

chopped fresh spinach
1 egg
container of ricotta

Mix this up until blended

Also need

grated mozzarella
uncooked lasagna noodles

Directions for assembly

This is a no bake lasagna recipe, so don't even worry about fiddling with the noodles beforehand.  I am always a little scared about this no-bake proposition, but it really works just fine, and it saves a lot of time and trouble.   Also, don't worry about using special no-bake noodles.  I use regular Wegmans lasagna noodles from the box and they are just fine.  I am however intrigued by the fresh lasagna sheets from the refrigerated section.  If anyone has tried these please comment about your experience.

Basically you just need to layer all the ingredients you have prepared.  First put down a little of the "sauce," then add a layer of noodles, spread the noodles with a little more "sauce" and 1/2 of the ricotta mixture, layer over that 1/2 the lentil mixture, then sprinkle with a generous amount of mozzarella.  Repeat with remaining ingredients and end with a layer of noodles covered only in "sauce" and mozzarella.

Here is a picture of the beautiful lentils, and lasagna construction mid-way through assembly.

Bake, covered in foil, in a 375 F oven, for 40 minutes.
Bake an additional 15 minutes uncovered.
remove from oven and let stand 10 minutes before serving.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Sweet Potato Chipotle Soup

Tonight's dinner was a cozy sweet potato chipotle soup.  It was creamy, spicy, and truly, truly, truly outrageous.  I love soups and stews for a quick dinner fix that will reheat well during the week when I don't feel like or have time to cook an elaborate dinner.  We have had quite a bit of soupy success with recipes from various Moosewood cookbooks, and more recently with recipes from Martha Stewart's website.  Today's recipe was based on a Martha Stewart creation but with several delicious additions.

Martha Stewart's quick soup recipes
There are lots of recipes here that look good, and we have tried several already, all with good results.

I started with the same base as the soup recipe.
1 grated onion (I said I'd never go back, and I won't)
2 minced garlic cloves
salt, pepper
2 tsp cumin
1 canned chipotle pepper in adobo
2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and cut in small dice
6 cups chicken stock

First heat the oil, cook the onion, add salt and pepper.  Add garlic and cumin and cook about one minute.  Add the rest of the ingredients, bring to a boil, then reduce heat, partially cover and simmer for 25 minutes until potatoes are tender.  Blend the soup using an immersion blender until creamy.  This is a delicious soup base!  It has a thick, rich and creamy consistency, the likes of which you would expect to have a much higher fat content.

However, Martha S' recipe stops here.  I think this soup would be too boring and unsatisfying as a whole dinner, so I took it a couple steps further and added some "chunks" to fill this soup out and add some texture and color. (more sweet potatoes, roasted peppers, green onions).

Soup additions:
While preparing the soup on the stove, put 2 pounds of sweet potatoes cut in small dice in a 400 F oven and roast until tender.  Add these potatoes to above mixture after blended and leave these potatoes as chunks in the soup.

Roast 3 red peppers, chop into bite size pieces and add these chunks to the blended soup mixture.  You can make your roasted peppers however you like.  If you have a preferred method please share it as a comment!  I coat them in oil and put them in the broiler, checking and turning them occasionally until blackened on the outside.  This takes about 15 minutes.  When I remove the peppers from the oven I place them in a paper bag, and fold down the top of the bag to seal in the heat. Once the peppers are cool, I remove them from the bag and peel off and discard the skin, and remove seeds and stems.  Easy!

When the soup is ready to serve chop some fresh green onions to sprinkle atop the soup as garnish.

Add a dollop of sour cream and you're done.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Are you ready for some football?!

Today is Superbowl Sunday, and in keeping with a tradition I began last year, I prepared cocoa crispy chocolate peanut butter rice krispy treat footballs.  This is a fabulous crowd-pleasing recipe that is perfect for this special time of year. 

3 tablespoons butter
1 10 oz. package marshmallows
1/2 cup peanut butter
6 cups cocoa krispies cereal
frosting to decorate

Melt butter over low heat, add marshmallows and stir until completely melted, then remove from heat.  Stir in peanut butter until melted.  Add cereal and stir until well coated.  Using buttered hands shape into 16 3 inch footballs.  Decorate.

I made some additions to the recipe from last year that I think have made a great aesthetic improvement to these footballs.  Because the krispies are coated in marshmallow and peanut butter, the footballs are a light chocolate brown color.  To make these treats even more delicious and a deeper brown color, more like a football, this year I dipped them in chocolate, and then decorated them with frosting.  The chocolate mixture is just a simple ganache, made by melting chocolate chips with a little bit of heavy cream until the mixture is liquid but still firm enough that it will not run down the treats.  Also, I don't know how others feel about melting things in the microwave, but I find it to be a terrible experience and today was no exception.  First I tried to melt the chocolate chips in the microwave and it was an awful, clumpy, unusable mess.  I took the same mixture to the stove to try it again with perfect results. 

Here are the comparison footballs from last year to this year.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Cotton candy sweet to go let me see your jelly roll

There is something so magical about a cake that rolls up over itself.  After years of imagining the execution of this cake, I finally bought a jelly roll pan at the store this month.  The above video is a quick 30 second demonstration of this fascinating process that leaves the mind reeling.

The jelly roll cake is simple and easy to make, and the fun and flavor combinations are endless.  Since purchasing the pan I have tried, in order, a raspberry and whipped cream roll; a homemade version of a hoho, and a grasshopper roll.  The next roll planned is a tiramisu roll.  I also dream of a triple chocolate raspberry roll and, of course next Christmas season, a Buche de Noel.

The first component of the cake is the cake itself.  I have been working from these two simple recipes from The Joy of Cooking:

Hot Milk Sponge Cake

Sift together 3 times:
3/4 cup sifted cake flour
1 tsp baking powder

Heat in a small saucepan until butter is melted:
1/4 cup milk
2 tbls unsalted butter

Whip for 10 minutes in stand mixer until light colored and tripled in volume:
3/4 cup sugar
5 large eggs

In three additions sift the flour mixture over the top of the egg mixture and fold in.  Add the hot milk mixture all at once and fold in until well combined.  Pour into prepared jelly roll pan (17.5" x 11.5" pan, oiled, floured and lined with parchment paper) and bake at 400 F until top is golden brown and springs back when lightly pressed, 8 to 10 minutes.

Chocolate Sponge Cake

Sift together 3 times:
2/3 cup sifted cake flour
1/3 cup cocoa
1/4 tsp salt

Whip for 10 minutes in stand mixer until light colored and tripled in volume:
6 large eggs
2 tsps vanilla
2 tsps instant coffee powder

Gradually beat into eggs, 1 tablespoon at a time:
1 cup sugar

Sift the cocoa mixture over the egg mixture and fold in in 5 equal additions.  Pour into prepared jelly roll pan (17.5" x 11.5" pan, oiled, floured and lined with parchment paper) and bake at 350 F until top of cake springs back when lightly pressed, 15 to 20 minutes.

Note: this cake has a very mild chocolate flavor, so if you like a really chocolaty cake, you will need to accent the chocolate flavor through the other added elements to your cake.  The chocolate ganche is deliciously chocolaty and does this very well.

 With both of the above recipes the cakes need to be immediately removed from the pans while still hot, and the cake placed top side down on a sheet of aluminum foil to cool.  Once the cake is cool, this layer of foil is gently peeled away from the cake to remove the top crust that formed.

Then comes the fun part, the assembly of the cake.  This part is limited only by your imagination of flavor combinations.  The cake sheet can be spread with jellies, and whipped creams, brushed with liqueurs, and sprinkled with nuts or chocolate, as just a few examples.  Once the cake is rolled up there is still reason to frost the outside with a dusting of powdered sugar or cocoa, or a drizzle of ganache.

In a moment of genius, Mike came up with the concept for the "grasshopper roll," our chocolate mint roll.  This cake is featured in the above video.  We made ours with the chocolate sponge sheet spread with mint jelly and cocoa whipped cream, rolled up and topped with chocolate ganache.  It is quite tasty but certainly not the only way to get these flavors into the cake.  For example, we also considered omitting the mint jelly and substituting a mint whipped cream, made by adding a dash of creme de menthe. 

Next I will try a tiramisu roll, which I imagine as a sheet of the hot milk sponge cake brushed with espresso or possibly a liqueur like Kahlua, then spread with a whipped mascarpone cream, topped with grated chocolate, then rolled up and dusted with cocoa powder.  I will keep you updated on the outcome, but I can't imagine any way that cake would not be delicious.

And before I forget, this is how I make the ganache.  It makes just what you need to cover one jelly roll.

Chocolate Ganache

Heat until steaming and butter is melted:

3/4 cup heavy cream
2 tbls unsalted butter
2 tbls sugar

Pour cream over:

8 ounces chopped semi sweet chocolate (I use chocolate chips and save myself a step)

Cover and let stand for 5 minutes, then whisk until blended.  Let it cool uncovered at room temperature until you are ready to use.  When you spoon this over your cake it will take a few applications, and the cake can be chilled in between each pass to help the ganache set up and adhere to the cake.  But keep the ganche at room temperature the entire time you are frosting the cake!


And finally, dear readers, I would be delighted to hear your insight on this topic.  What flavor combinations would you like to try yourself?  How would you compose your cake?  What new and amazing ideas can you share?  And I promise, if you give me ideas I will try them, and share the effort with you!

Here are a few pictures of the attempts so far.  Keep in mind these are the first cakes, so they are not perfect ; )

Hot milk sponge cake, raspberry jam, whipped cream
"The Ho Ho" chocolate sponge cake, whipped cream, chocolate ganache

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Jelly Jar Hot Chocolate

Well, actually these are mustard jars from a brand of German mustard that can be found in the "foods around the world" aisle.  If you've ever been to Wegmans you know what I'm talking about.  I used to hate the idea of drinking from a jelly jar, but I have now fully embraced it and delight in tiny sized jars.  I would love some reader comments about your favorite special jelly jar finds or ideas for other drinks to serve in them.

For two servings of this jelly jar hot chocolate, heat
2 cups milk (I used skim)
6 tablespoons hot chocolate mix (I used Nesquik)
1/3 cup Kahlua
cinnamon stick

Top it off with some freshly whipped unsweetened cream and a dusting of cinnamon.

Lentil Tacos

So, I thought I should kick things off with a lentil recipe, and what better idea than lentil tacos?  I like the idea of inserting a lentil in any recipe instead of ground beef and it hasn't failed me yet.  These tacos were easy and very delicious.  The recipe starts off with onion and garlic.  For the first time today I decided to try grating the onion, and I swear I will never go back.  It was very quick and easy and the onions were the perfect tiny size to delicately cook away into the lentils.  Just cut off one end of the onion, peel away the skin and keep the other end intact to use as a handle while you grate away.  Amazing!

The recipe is from the link below.  We followed it accurately, except for using our own homemade blend of spices (cumin, paprika, cayenne pepper and oregano), and all full fat products for the sour cream and cheese.


The adobo sour cream made these extra delicious.  We also added avocado for that little extra something.

We served these up with a side of oven roasted carrots.
Hello Friends!  I started this blog to share all the recipes and experiments attempted at the Pony Show.  I will post recipes we make and try to include some photographs so you can try it all yourself in the comfort of your own home, or just live vicariously.  I have never done anything like this before, but on a whim this Saturday morning I started this account.  Let's see what kind of follow through I have...