Saturday, February 28, 2009

I'm back, for now

Zucchini Muffins with Agave Nectar

Well, it's been over a month since my last post. Actually, since this is my 5th post ever, I really doubt anyone is reading this! Anyway, I baked some muffins today and after cleaning the kitchen, I saw the on the table and had to take a picture!

My cooking has been sparse this month. Work is crazy and I have been getting home later than usual. I did manage to make heart cakes with chocolate icing for Valentine's day! The cake was a major disappointment, so I'll only post the icing recipe.

It is a beautiful day here in Chicago. It's a balmy 25 degrees Fahrenheit but it's sunny! That's basically all we can ask for these days. I'm sitting in my living room with sun streaming through all 8 windows. It's quite lovely :)
I think I'll post some pictures of various dishes I made for my sister's cookbook. Just for fun. Enjoy!

Zucchini Muffins:

3 cups spelt flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt

1 large egg
3/4 cup agave nectar
1/4 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup water
1/4 cup plain yogurt
2 cups shredded zucchini (two zucchinis)
Zest of one large orange

dried cranberries
crystallized ginger

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Mix the dry ingredients in a large bowl. In the mixer, combine all the wet ingredients. Throw in the zucchini and orange zest as well. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet. Mix well but do not over mix! I made three different types of muffins, plain (scoop into muffin cups now), with cranberries and with crystallized ginger. If you'd like, fold either ingredient into batter now. Scoop into muffin cups (fills way more than just 12!) and bake for 20-23 minutes. Use a toothpick as a cake tester. Once it comes out clean, you're ready to enjoy!!

Valentine's Day Cakes with Dark Chocolate Frosting

Delicious Quiche!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Quick dinner from a cast-iron skillet

Crispy potatoes with corn and pea succotash

It's been really cold in Chicago lately. All I ever seem to want is a hot bowl of soup. Since Mike hasn't made stock in a while, I settled for some hearty veggies. I really like to taste the vegetables, so I decided to keep it simple. Just olive oil, salt and pepper. It was warm, simple and satisfying. When I asked Mike if he liked it he said he did. But then he added, "I feel like it's missing a steak." Such is the life of a non-vegetarian living with a vegetarian. He had a second helping and quickly forgot about the steak.

Crispy potatoes:

5 russet potatoes, thoroughly washed and sliced 1/4 inch thick (I leave the skin on)
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 450 F. Pat potato slices dry with a paper towel and arrange in a roasting pan. drizzle with olive oil and add salt and pepper. Using tongs, toss potatoes to coat evenly with oil and seasoning. Place on middle rack of oven. Allow to bake for 15-20 minutes or until soft in the middle (I stick a fork in them; when they slide off, they're ready). Set oven to broil. Place in broiler for a few minutes. Watch carefully; when the top of the potatoes start to brown and bubble, remove and serve. Enjoy!

Corn and pea succotash:

2 small yellow onions, diced
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup frozen or fresh peas
1 cup frozen or fresh corn
Salt and pepper to taste

*I made this with frozen corn and peas. If you use fresh, you made need more oil to coat the veggies.

Heat oil in a deep cast-iron skillet (of course, a regular old skillet works as well). Add onions and cook on medium heat until translucent. Add peas and cook until thawed. Last, add the corn. Season with salt and pepper and stir well. Cover with a lid and reduce heat to medium-low. Stir occasionally. Cook until the vegetables are completely thawed and all the moisture is cooked off. Make sure to taste and re-season as needed. This can be done while the potatoes are baking. Serve and enjoy!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

A steamy, crispy Saturday night

Fried tofu with brown rice

Mike is a rice fiend. I consider myself more of a pasta girl, but rice has certainly taken over the apartment. The rice cooker is always bubbling away and Mike can find anything (or sometimes nothing at all is OK too) to put on it. We just recently gave brown rice a try because I felt like we were eating a lot of white rice.

We rarely fry, but when we do it's usually tofu. I love fried tofu and considering I don't allow myself donuts or french fries (at least not often!) I think the occasional fried tofu won't hurt. So last night we put on some brown rice and I fried up some tofu. When I was a kid, and before I was a vegetarian, my mom used to make sweet and sour pork and it was my favorite. She'd toss pieces of pork in cornstarch and fry them in a wok. That's why I always use cornstarch instead of flour; I think it's crispier and this time I seasoned it! There isn't much in the way of a recipe here, but I'll give you the run down below.

Fried Tofu:

1 block water-packed tofu
1/4-1/2 cup cornstarch
onion powder
dried ginger

Vegetable oil

First I poured vegetable oil about an inch deep in a large dutch oven (I have a wok for stir fry, but I like the surface area of the dutch oven and I can get a lot more done at once!). I turned the stove on medium-high and allowed it to heat up while I cut the tofu. You can see that I cut the tofu into long rectangles maybe about 1 inch by 2 inches. I like good sized pieces and it's easier to not have to coat a million little squares in cornstarch.

In a small bowl mix 1/4 cup of cornstarch with seasonings to taste. I usually just do cornstarch and hit the freshly fried pieces with salt and pepper at the end. I had to guess on the seasoning, but I probably ended up with a teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, a pinch of cayenne, 1/2 teaspoon each onion powder and ginger. I tasted the first piece I fried and it was too salty, so I added more cornstarch to balance it.

Using disposable wooden chopsticks I dipped pieces of tofu in the cornstarch mixture and gently dropped them into the hot oil. A good way to see if the oil is ready is to take your wooden chopstick (or a wooden spoon handle) and put it in the oil. If little bubble form around it, you're good to go. Once the pot is filled with tofu, make sure you turn it occasionally to brown it evenly. Mine took a little while, but the texture and golden brown color was worth it! Plus, brown rice takes about twice as long to cook as white rice so I had time to fry mine until a deep color.

Once the tofu is ready, remove using chopsticks and place on a baking rack to cool. I put paper towels underneath to catch excess oil. I like the baking rack because the tofu stays crispy! Serve while hot over rice with soy or sauce of choice (we like a generic stir fry sauce). Enjoy!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Breakfast time

I feel like I have a lot of catching up to do. I have a lot of recipes and photos (about 65 pages of cookbook worth) just waiting to be added to the blog. Unfortunately, I can't add everything at once. I envision a lot of tweeking and editing over these first few blogging months. But I have to start somewhere.

Since it's the weekend, I figured I'd start with breakfast. I usually eat breakfast everyday, but weekdays are just a bowl of cereal while checking my morning email at work. Therefore, weekends are when breakfast can really shine. My lack of cozy formal breakfasts day-to-day must have something to do with the pleasure I take in them. I've created fondness out of scarcity. Even weekends usually start with a workout and sometimes an errand or two and by the time I'm home I'm looking around for lunch.

Nevertheless, I love breakfast and these are a few of the recipes I included in my sister's cookbook. It's title is The Botanist's Cookbook because she's a Phd candidate in conservation ecology.

The first recipe is linzer muffins. I found this one on Epicurious and it is fantastic. The muffins are very cakey and it's a take off the holiday linzer cookie. I bought a linzer cookie cutter set at Crate & Barrel this Christmas and I guess I just got excited about putting raspberry jam in baked goods!

Linzer Muffins


1 cup whole almonds, toasted and cooled completely
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon finely grated fresh lemon zest
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup whole milk (or whatever you have!)
3/4 stick (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 large egg
1/8 teaspoon almond or vanilla extract

About 1/3 cup raspberry jam
Confectioners sugar for dusting

Preheat oven to 4oo degrees Fahrenheit. Grease a standard 12 cup muffin tin and set aside. Grind almonds with sugar and zest in a food processor until almonds are finely ground.

Whisk together flour, almond mixture, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon in a large bowl. Whisk together milk, butter, egg, and almond extract in a small bowl, then stir into dry ingredients until combined.

Put a scant 1/4 cup batter into each muffin cup. Top each with 1 rounded teaspoon of jam. Divide remaining batter among cups. Bake until golden, about 20 minutes. Cool in pan on a rack 5 to 10 minutes, then turn out onto rack. Dust with confectioners sugar before serving.

It starts...

I've wanted to start a blog for some time, but I held off so that I could make my photos and recipes into a cookbook for my sister. After giving her the cookbook for Christmas, I made it one of my new year's resolutions to start this blog. Here it is, January 10th and I'm feeling productive!

I have so many food blogs I visit that I thought maybe I should start sharing the food I enjoy cooking, photographing and (of course!) eating. I've never blogged before, so this will be a learning experience. I'm also new to food photography and I'm just an amateur photographer in general. I'd love tips and comments as I go along. But, in general I'd like to keep this as a positive experience and a place that gives off good vibes; so please keep this in mind if you post a comment!

Well, this is it. The start of 2009 and the start of Kake.Delicious! Happy new year and welcome to my new blog!