Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Beet & black bean burgers

I wanted to make some beet burgers. I had an idea of mixing in some faro or wheat berries or something to make a chewy patty of grains and veggies that you could fry til crispy. Then I realized that black beans would make an excellent binder, as would chickpea flour. The trouble, of course, with making veggie burgers of any sort is that for them to taste good, you need to have a gazillion ingredients. Worth it, though! These have a really nice flavor, and excellent textures. And, they satisfy the tasty/healthy/cheap trifecta!

If you're looking for a meatless Monday option, or just want to try a beet burger, look no further.

The actual recipe is super flexible. The base components are:
- shredded root vegetable (beets, carrots, potatoes, sweet potatoes, parsnips, etc)
- a can of beans (any variety)
- egg (to bind)
- flour (of any variety)
- grain (preferably a whole grain that'll have some chew, because the point is to add texture. So, barley, wheat berries, faro, bulgur, quinoa, rice, whatever)
- flavors (think herbs, garlic, spices)
- salt (duh. everything is better with salt)

This version headed down a Mediterranean route. It was both tasty and very satisfying.

- 2 beets, shredded
- half a carrot, shredded (I had half a carrot languishing in the fridge, which was the only reason for its inclusion)
- 1 can of black beans, roughly mashed
- 1/2C chickpea flour
- 2 eggs
- a buttload of parsley, chopped
- ~1/2C wheat berries, cooked
- 1/4C sunflower seeds
- ~1/4C pickled onions, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic
- 2 tsp kosher salt
- 1 tsp peppercorns, ground
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp turmeric

The only pre-mix step is to lightly toast the garlic, in some oil, because I don't really like raw garlic. Then, mix everything together in a big bowl.

Generously oil a baking sheet, and form little patties. Bake the little patties at 400F, flipping after about 20 minutes, for about 40 minutes total. The goal is that the outside is crispy, and the inside still has a little moisture. Oil your pan generously for extra crunch. The next step, which I didn't try, but will try next time, would be to coat the patties in panko or bread crumbs before baking, for extra crunchy outsides!

These guys definitely have enough structural integrity that they make pretty darn good travel food, if you're looking for things you can eat with your fingers. But, they're also pretty good drizzled with a lemon tahini sauce, or in a pita with some pickled cabbage.

Served with some roasted cauliflower and some socca (that's for a different blog post. Definitely worth making!!)

Monday, August 7, 2017

Liege waffles

A Belgian waffle is not the fluffy thing you get at an American diner. It's dense and light at the same time, crunchy caramelized sugar on the outside providing a perfect offset to the deep chewy flavorful interior. No toppings necessary, these things are magic. The first one I ever had was at a Belgian beer festival, and I was hooked. I haven't had a "real" waffle in Belgium, yet, the kind from a truck, probably, oozing hot sugar all over my fingers. Someday, I'll visit the homeland, and do it right. Til then... it's gotta be homemade or at beer festivals here.

The challenge here is that you've got to knead in all the butter. One piece at a time. Basically, you make a brioche. And, without a stand mixer, that means you need some serious arm power. Good thing I'm a skier! Getting all the butter mixed in without melting it was a chore, but totally, totally, TOTALY worth it. I couldn't get through the full 14 tablespoons, to be honest - my arm gave out. But, the 12tbs that made it in were good enough. 

I highly recommend the recipe by Deb at Smitten Kitchen. Recipe here: https://smittenkitchen.com/2015/05/liege-waffles/. The main difference between what I made and what she made is that she's better at this food cooking and blogging stuff. Oh, and has a stand mixer.

Some comments -
- Get the butter as warm as possible without letting it melt
- Swedish pearl sugar is indeed a different beast. Next time, I'm trying the smashed sugar cube approach
- Don't leave out the vanilla. I was out, but it could have used that extra heady flavor
- The waffles you cook later are the tastiest, as the sugar has started to really caramelize

In goes the butter, one tablespoon at a time. I would use my spoon to smash it and stretch the dough around it until it was fully incorporated. Don't do this on a hot day, or the butter will melt.

Making my own dough hook out of a spoon and some arm power.

After mixing in the final cup of flour and kneading smooth

After kneading in the sugar and cutting into chunks. I loved how this was dough, and not batter.

I nearly forgot to take a photo of the finished product. We were eating these with our hands, but since I'd also made a more traditional batter waffle (kind of made the batter for that one before deciding I wanted the challenge of the liege dough), we were loading those ones up with fruit, yogurt, apple butter, maple syrup, you name it.

Eaten side by side, the liege waffles were so superior. I mean, it's like comparing a cake to a piece of cardboard. Worth the investment of time and effort!

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Gail's salmon

Gail makes this amazing salmon on the grill, this mix of sweet and sour and spicy and savory, and the other day I called her up to actually get the recipe. Of course, then I lost it, so I had to call her again to post it here. 

This is totally worth making, even if you don't have a grill. Though, the grill makes it all crispy and delicious, so obviously that's the better approach. 

Brown sugar
Chili powder
Lemon zest

Guessing at quantities:
2 tbs brown sugar
1 tbs chili powder
1 tsp cumin
1/8tsp salt
1/8tsp black pepper

Make this! You won't regret it, I promise. 

Thursday, June 29, 2017


We had a dinner yesterday that felt like a very typical weeknight dinner, and I realized I don't think I've ever written down my tabouleh recipe. It's delicious. This whole thing was delicious, but dinner should be delicious, especially if you have a beagle mentality and all food is something to be celebrated. Start to finish about 45min, which, for us, is a pretty quick dinner. Because half the time we're also washing last night's dishes and we're always making stuff from scratch and yadda yadda yadda. I have colleagues who say they won't make dinner if it takes more than 20 minutes, and I just wonder how that's supposed to work. You can't have popovers, then. 

Anyway, this is a dinner that relies mostly on the oven, and considering the recent break in the heat wave, this was a good night for that. You're looking at roasted cauliflower and broccoli, tabouleh with roasted chickpeas, and popovers. 

I already broke my popover in half to let out the steam, but they look way cooler when it's a leaning mound of puffed eggy custardy awesomeness. 

Start by turning the oven on to 450F. Roughly chop the broccoli and cauliflower, lay it out in a single layer on a sheet pan, drizzle generously with olive oil and sprinkle with kosher salt. Drop that onto the bottom shelf of the oven as it pre-heats. This will maximize your brown bits without overcooking the veggies.

Take a can of chickpeas, rinse them, shake dry and dump onto another sheetpan. Toss with some oil, salt, and zaatar or other spice mixture. Put these onto the top shelf of the oven, which is still preheating. 

Make your popover batter. Make sure the mixture is warm! and that your muffin tins are well greased! I wrote up the recipe here: http://alexjospefood.blogspot.com/2011/12/popovers-update.html. It works, and gets an excellent Ed-rating. We were actually calculating the cost of a batch of popovers, because at one of our favorite farm-to-table type restaurants, you can get a basket of popovers instead of bread, and $10 gets you four popovers. One batch, in the recipe above, yields 6 huge popovers, for about $0.12 apiece. As if you needed another reason to make your own popovers.

Anyway, flip the brassicas if you smell any burning. They probably want 5-7 minutes a side. Once the oven is pre-heated, remove the chickpeas, and put in the popovers. You'll want to not open the oven again until 15 minutes is up, so hopefully your brassicas are done at this point, otherwise they're staying in. Because it's summer, who cares if your broccoli is room temperature? The room is warm. 

While the popovers are doing their thing at 450F, make the tabouleh: 

1 large tomato
2 mini cucumbers
1 bit bunch of parsley
2/3C dry bulgur
1 lemon
olive oil

Boil 2/3C water. When it boils, remove from heat, stir in the bulgur, and let it sit, covered, for 5min or so. 

Chop the tomato and cucumber relatively finely. Chop the parsley finely. Stir those together in a big bowl with the juice of the lemon, a glug or two or three of olive oil, and a few healthy pinches of salt. When the bulgur is cooked, stir that in. 

This will be even more delicious tomorrow, when the flavors have sat. You can add things, adjust things, whatever - super versatile grain salad. Basil and mint are excellent additions, if you've got them.

Ok, now you have your tabouleh and the popovers are done with the 15-minute period at 450. Drop the oven to 350, and let the popovers cook another 15-20min. Pop the chickpeas back into the oven - they would do best with like 40 minutes at 300F, but that's not what we're working with today, and slightly-roasted/slightly-burned chickpeas are still better than straight-out-of-the-can chickpeas. 

Use your 20 minutes of wait-time wisely. 

When the time is up, if you aren't immediately consuming all 6 popovers, poke them all with a knife and return to the turned-off oven for 3-5 minutes while you put the rest of the food on plates. Sprinkle the chickpeas on top of the tabouleh, or just eat them straight, because they're delicious.

Oh, and bonus if you have some tahini sauce in the fridge - literally just tahini, lemon juice, salt, and water, taste and adjust until it tastes good. It's pretty delicious on the cauliflower and broccoli.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Lime curd

I had two limes that had been sitting in our hanging basket a bit too long, and knew it was time to do something with them. Lime curd. No idea where the idea came from, but once I thought it I knew I had to have it, because lemon curd is one of my favorite foods, so lime curd isn't that far off. I couldn't remember goes into curd, so a little googling later, I came up with this. The reason for the funky egg/egg yolk thing is a compromise between some recipes calling for whole eggs, some recipes calling for egg yolks, and me having very small eggs on hand.

It was delicious. I took a picture of the curd spread on bread, but don't let that fool you. I mostly have been eating this stuff with a spoon out of the jar.

I would double the recipe if you have enough limes. Since I only had two, I made a very small batch. Considering the spoon situation I mentioned above, this is probably for the best.

1 egg
1 egg yolk
2/3C sugar
1/4C lime juice (this was a little short using just the lime juice, so I topped it off with bottled lemon juice I had in the fridge)
Zest of both limes
2tbs butter, in pieces

In a metal bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar, juice, and zest. Place the bowl over a pot of boiling water to create a double boiler. You could do this straight on the stove top, but then you risk adding too much heat at once and scrambling your eggs. You want to just slowly bring them up to heat, stirring continuously. If they start to scramble, immediately pull the mixture off the heat and continue to stir.

After 5-10 minutes, the curd should be thickened, and pull away from the edge of the bowl. At this point, lower the heat even more, and stir in the butter, one little piece at a time, melting it slowly into the curd.

Then lick every appliance you used to create the curd. Pack a jar or a tupperware, or use immediately. This stuff is so versatile. You can use it as a layer between cakes, you can fill linzertorte-style cookies, you can swirl into cheesecake, you can spread on bread, you can stir into oatmeal, you can top ice cream, you can fill cupcakes, you can spread onto shortbread, you can bake into a glorious lemon tart, or you can eat it with a spoon. 

Friday, April 14, 2017

Sourdough English muffins

A few months back, Ari gave me some of his sourdough starter. This means we've been making lots of bread. Luckily it's a hearty starter, meaning I can leave it in the fridge for a week or two between feedings, but still, there's more baking going on than usual. At least, we've been going through flour a lot more frequently than before.

The other weekend, I didn't have anything planned, and I picked up our dog-eared King Arthur Flour cookbook, to see what they had to say about sourdough. I learned that the addition of baking soda can nullify some of the sour flavor, which could be a very useful tidbit of information if you're looking to make non-sour sourdough things. Or I could just use yeast, but it's sort of like, why use yeast if I've got the natural stuff sitting in a jar in my fridge? Anyway, besides several variations on bread, which we've discovered by now on our own, King Arthur Flour had a recipe for English muffins. That sounds delicious! Time to try it. 

I used half the recipe, since we're only two people after all.

May have burned one. Oops!

How about topping with butter, jam, and a scoop or two of cottage cheese or ricotta? I recommend.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Squash mac and cheese

This is one that's worth making again! Mac and cheese is delicious, and now you can make it nutritious AND orange at the same time... that was your goal, right? right? Crap, I guess not. Well, regardless, this was good, and even got a good Ed-rating. You could skip the oven part, and just call this a pasta sauce. It works all ways.

Start with an onion. Everything starts with an onion. Chop it up, and fry in some oil until it's caramelized. At which point, add some garlic and a handful of fresh sage.

The squash: Peel and cube a butternut squash, saving the seeds because roasted butternut squash seeds are delish. Delicata seeds are the best, but butternut seeds are a close second. 

Add some butter to your pan, and fry up those squash cubes, leaving them in place long enough to get some browning. Browning = flavor. If you're a big fan of squash chunks, leave some aside to stir into the pasta as chunks instead of sauce.

Then food process everything in that pan until it makes a beautiful orange sauce. It might be chunky, but don't worry, you'll be adding the cheese sauce shortly, and that'll thin it out and help with the processing.

As the water boils for the pasta, start the sauce. 

Make a roux - ~2tbs butter, whisk in 2tbs flour, cook while whisking for 5 minutes, and add some milk. Probably about a cup? Keep adding and whisking until it's the thickness you like. Add some to the food processor to help puree the squash. Dump the pureed squash back into the pan with the roux, and taste and adjust seasoning. Salt, pepper, a hint of nutmeg. Dump in ~1-2 cups of grated cheese. Stir until that is melted. Set it aside.

Drain the pasta when it is still very al dente. Stir in the squash-cheese sauce, and load it into a casserole dish. Sprinkle a little more cheese on top, and bake another 15-20 minutes, until everything is bubbling and delicious. Or you can totally skip that step and just eat pasta with the cheesy squash sauce. It's all good!

1 onion
2 cloves garlic
a handful of fresh sage
1 butternut squash
1 lb pasta (small shapes, of any variety)
1-2C grated cheddar
2 tbs butter
2 tbs flour
1-2C milk
parmesan cheese, for serving

I like my pasta smothered in parmesan cheese.

We added green things.