Tag Archives: weeknight dinner

What’s Been Cooking? Maternity leave, weeks 3-4

Swedish cardamom buns

In Germany, expecting and new mothers have the advantage of a legally protected, essentially “no work allowed” time for 6 weeks before and 8 weeks after their due dates. So now I am on Mutterschutz (maternity leave) and working my way through some cooking and baking projects to keep me from getting too stir-crazy at home and to try and stock the freezer with easy winter meals to reheat when our tiny human arrives.

You can catch up on what I made in my first two weeks off here. Below, see what I’ve gotten up to in my second fortnight off:

Week 3 – bread week, with a bit of soup

By chance, I seemed to settle on a few bread-making projects this week, so in the spirit of The Great British Bake Off, I dubbed Week 3 my personal “bread week.”

On Monday, I made traditional challah from the Hot Bread Kitchen Cookbook. It didn’t go quite to plan but was a fun process anyway. Read all about it here.

After the challah failure, F requested that I try my hand at a classic sandwich bread. After some sleuthing, I settled on smitten kitchen’s oat and wheat sandwich bread – it looked tasty, straightforward, and we happened to have all the ingredients at home. So on Wednesday, I put my bread-head back on and got to work. We only have one loaf pan (make that had – I just bought another one!), so I halved Deb’s recipe. The dough came together quickly with some whisking, dumping, and stand mixing (or hand-kneading, but to be honest I’m glad not to have to do that anymore thanks to investing in a stand mixer). I added two extra tablespoons of flour, as the dough was quite wet, then turned it out, plumped it into a ball, and popped it in a bowl for its first rise.

The first rise went a bit longer than Deb’s recommended 60-70 minutes, but I trusted her when she said this was a forgiving recipe. It proved nicely and shaping it into a log roll for the loaf pan was not difficult, although I should have made it a bit shorter, as I think the second rise might have been impeded by the crinkle in the middle (see picture above). Despite the crinkle, the bread baked up wonderfully and, if a bit low-to-the-ground, tasted great. If you don’t believe me, ask F, who said: “It could be a bit bigger but I actually like how dense it is and it tastes really good.”

On Thursday, I took a break from bread and made F’s delicious Hokkaido (aka “red kuri/kari”) squash soup with ginger and coconut. We’ve made it three or four times this fall, which I thought definitely merited its own blog post, so head over here for the newly posted recipe!

On Friday, I went back to bread – this time sweet, in the form of Swedish cardamom buns from NYT Cooking. The whole process took 4-5 hours, but most of that was hands-off time. I think I managed to roll and knot the buns kind of correctly, but some of them split apart in the oven. They also turned out a bit dark (and dry on the second day); I wonder if mine were actually smaller than the recipe intended them to be, although I made 16 as recommended. The cardamom buns did taste good, though! Quite sweet, but countered nicely by the cardamom. Friends professed their enjoyment after dinner on Friday, and a (flexible-ish) vegan friend even ate an entire bun! I’d make these again, perhaps with a shorter baking time and/or slightly lower temperature.

Week 4

I wasn’t feeling super inspired this week, but I ended up doing a bit of baking and cooking anyway.

oat & wheat bread, take 2

On Tuesday, I made smitten kitchen’s oat and wheat sandwich bread again, this time the full recipe. I used the rest of my bag of whole wheat/wholemeal flour, which was 540g, then topped up to the required 635g with spelt flour. I also used olive oil rather than sunflower oil in the dough (Deb says you can use either). The first rise was good again, and instead of dividing the dough I shaped and plopped it all into our new, very large, loaf pan. The bread turned out well – taller than last time – and tasted just as good as the previous loaf, with a nice crust. I froze it in two halves and we thawed it later in the week. The only unfortunate outcome of the freeze-thaw is that the bread dried out a bit and the slices were very crumbly. I wonder if adding a little more water to the dough would also help?

tofu noodles

For Tuesday lunch, I cracked open Anita Bean’s The Vegetarian Athlete’s Cookbook, one of our favorites for easy, vegetable-forward, pantry-based meals. I made her tofu noodles: a tofu, noodle, and vegetable stir fry, simply seasoned with ginger, garlic, soy sauce, and lime. It was quick to put together and tasted great, with enough leftovers to cover us for dinner on the same day.

For Friday lunch, I made baked potatoes (aka jacket potatoes for UK readers) using this method (brine then bake at a high temperature), as recommended by The Kitchn. I can’t say the potatoes turned out differently from usual (I usually smear them with oil and salt, then bake for about an hour at 400F/200C), but they were certainly delicious with nice crispy skin. I topped mine with butter, sour cream, baked beans, and cheddar. F made a tuna-sweetcorn mixture for his. We devoured them too quickly to get a picture!

The autumn apple crop continues to put in a strong showing at our favorite fruit and veg stand at the Wochenmarkt around the corner from us. So for a Friday treat, I made these oatmeal brown sugar baked apples from The Kitchn. The apples split a bit towards the end of baking, but that didn’t put us off. Oats and walnuts added nice additional textures, and F proclaimed, “I love this!”

I’ve discovered Junior Bake Off (it’s quite sweet! And some impressive young bakers) and watched an episode this week where they had to make Viennese Whirls. I was inspired (and by “inspired” I mainly mean “developed a strong craving”…blame it on late pregnancy?), and on Saturday tried my hand at Mary Berry’s recipe via The Candid Appetite. Let’s just say that piping was attempted and quickly abandoned, so these became “buttery sandwich cookies” instead. Delicious, although almost too sweet, even for my taste.

Stay tuned for my next edition of “What’s Been Cooking” in a couple of weeks…


Recipe: Hokkaido Squash Soup with Ginger & Coconut

Hokkaido squash soup

One of the reasons I love fall/autumn cooking is the abundance of squash. I love squash’s versatility: you can roast it, stuff it, boil and mash it, add it to curries, and puree it into soups. We’ve already done all of the above this fall, mainly with vibrant Hokkaido (aka “red kari/kuri”) squash, a relatively new discovery for F and me but a squash variety that is readily available here in Germany, and often cheaper than Butternut squash. Hokkaido has another advantage in that it doesn’t need peeling: the skin is thin enough to eat once cooked.

We often oven-roast slices of squash (season with salt, pepper, and fennel seeds) as a staple side dish, but F has also made this delicious Hokkaido squash soup three or four times in the past couple of months. We love it, and it has already become one of our go-to easy lunches or dinners.

This Hokkaido soup with ginger and coconut has a short ingredient list and lots of vitamins to keep you healthy through the winter (although you should also get a flu shot – herd immunity, people!). The recipe can be as flexible as you want: use more ginger, leave out the turmeric, use water instead of stock, add celery root – or not! I wouldn’t recommend leaving out the coconut milk, though; one can gives the soup just the right amount of coconut flavor and enhances its silky-smooth texture.

Hokkaido Squash Soup with Ginger & Coconut (F’s original recipe; makes 4-6 portions)

Ingredients

  • olive oil, or neutral oil of your choice
  • 1-2 medium onions, roughly chopped
  • 3-4 garlic cloves, minced
  • “a hefty amount” (2in/4-5cm) fresh ginger root, peeled & roughly chopped
  • 1-2 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 small-medium Hokkaido squash, washed, de-seeded, & cut into medium-large chunks (you could use Butternut squash instead if that’s easier to find where you live)
  • optional: 1/4 – 1/2 celery root, peeled & cut into medium-large chunks
  • 1L vegetable stock
  • 1 can (400mL) coconut milk
  • to taste: salt & pepper

Procedure

  1. Prep onions, garlic, ginger, and stock. Cut up your squash and celery root.
  2. Heat a few generous glugs of olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the onions, garlic, and ginger and sauté, stirring occasionally, until they soften and start to brown.
  3. Add turmeric and stir for a minute or so.
  4. Add squash and celery to the pot. Pour in enough stock that it just covers the vegetables (or use more liquid for a thinner soup).
  5. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to an active simmer. Put the lid on and cook until the vegetables are soft enough to puree, about 15-20 minutes.
  6. Take the pot off the heat and use an immersion blender (or transfer carefully to a standard blender) to puree the soup until smooth.
  7. Stir in the coconut milk. Do not return the pot to the heat – the coconut milk may split.
  8. Taste and season with salt and pepper, if necessary. Serve with crusty bread.

Enjoy!


What’s Been Cooking? Maternity leave, weeks 1-2

I love apple season

In Germany, expecting and new mothers have the advantage of a legally protected, essentially “no work allowed” time for 6 weeks before and 8 weeks after their due dates. If I were fully employed I would not legally have been allowed to keep working. As a freelancer, I think I could have continued working into the 6 weeks pre-due date, but I decided not to because by 33-34 weeks it was already tiring to cycle back and forth for my teaching commitments.

So yes – now I am on Mutterschutz (maternity leave) and working my way through some cooking and baking projects to keep me from getting too stir-crazy at home and to try and stock the freezer a bit for easy winter meals once our tiny human arrives. Here’s what I’ve gotten up to in my first two weeks off:

Week 1

On Monday, we ate leftover meatloaf and mashed potatoes for lunch, then I froze the rest of the meatloaf and decided to use the mash for a project that had been on my list for a while: potato varenyky using this smitten kitchen recipe. I have fond memories of eating varenyky in Ukraine, usually with sautéed onions, butter, and sour cream. A great cheap, cold-weather, stick-to-your-ribs, carbs-on-carbs kind of meal!

Varenyky!

The varenyky dough was simple to make and had a nice stretch to it, which made it easier to envelope the mashed potatoes and seal the dumplings. We sampled some for dinner – tasty, although the dough was maybe a tad thick – and I froze the rest of them.

Paratha

On Tuesday, I delved back into my Hot Bread Kitchen Cookbook and posted about that here: Baking with Hot Bread Kitchen: Paratha.

Superbly chocolaty cookies

On Friday, I wanted to bake something sweet for the weekend, so went for Melissa Clark’s tiny, salty, chocolaty cookies from NYT Cooking. My goodness were they good! Chewy and with crispy edges, gluten free (in case you care! I don’t), and very rich (thanks to cocoa powder and dark chocolate). G came over for boardgames on Saturday and devoured quite a few of them, and other friends also professed their enjoyment. Will make again!

Week 2

It wasn’t specifically on my cooking project list, but we had leftover vegetables on Tuesday so I threw them into these Korean scallion pancakes from NYT Cooking. It was a great use of the veg and made for a nice, lightish dinner, although I wish the pancakes had turned out a bit crispier.

On Wednesday we were hosting friends for the group’s weekly vegetarian dinner. F made spinach lasagne and I contributed dessert in the form of smitten kitchen’s Versunkener Apfelkuchen (sunken apple (& honey) cake), which was based on a German recipe. Delicious! The honey flavor came through really nicely and the apples were cooked but not mushy. I didn’t include the salted honey glaze because we thought the cake was sweet enough without it. Friends enjoyed it and, when I asked how traditional the recipe was, a couple people said their mothers/grandmothers had made similar cakes. Score for cultural integration through Kuchen!

On Friday (a public holiday in Germany – thanks, Catholics!) we had friends over for brunch: pancakes, of course. Later, I made a big pot of these chickpeas from Bon Appétit. For dinner, I turned some into a spiced chickpea stew with coconut and turmeric, NYT Cooking’s Alison Roman creation that became its own hashtag on social media. I’ve made #thestew three times now and it is so warming and delicious. It’s also quick and easy to throw together, quite forgiving, and flexible: add any greens that you happen to have; enjoy with pita, rice, or sweet potato; add yogurt and garnish, or not.

With the rest of the chickpeas I’ll make some hummus and this creamy chickpea pasta. That should get us through the start of next week!

Stay tuned for my next edition of “What’s Been Cooking” in a couple of weeks…


What’s Been Cooking? “First month in Münster” edition

Hello there! Long time no blog, I know. My excuse is that F and I were moving countries. After a wonderful 6.5 years in London, we decided it was time for new adventures in a smaller place with a less hectic pace of life, so we moved to Münster, Germany at the end of May. It was hard to leave our friends and communities in London but we are glad to be in Münster, where we already have a good network thanks to F’s friends from his university days.

Part of moving into a new flat in Germany required buying and installing a kitchen. No, not just the appliances – an entire kitchen. Apparently it’s a thing in Germany. Kitchens are seen as “furniture,” and most flats come unfurnished, so…no kitchens! (Or at least they aren’t a guarantee.) Once a kitchen is installed in a flat or house, if those tenants move out they can either take the kitchen with them (yes, people do that) or they can sell it to the new people moving in.

 

Anyway, designing and buying a kitchen was a new experience for both of us. They are not cheap, but ideally we’ll be in this flat for the next 5-10 years so it’s a worthy investment and we both enjoy cooking and baking. We ended up at KüchenTreff Münster and had a great experience from designing through installation. I’d recommend them if you’re in the Münster area and in the market for a kitchen.

All that was a long-winded way of getting to the point of this post: what F and I have been cooking (and baking) in our new kitchen over the past month! Here goes, in no particular order:

 

I made our favorite Käsekuchen (German cheesecake) for F’s birthday in mid-June. He returned the favor for my birthday two weeks later by making our now go-to cherry pie from Stella Parks at Serious Eats.

 

June was Spargel-Saison in northwestern Germany. Spargel is white asparagus, which I never came across until visiting western Germany and Belgium in May/June. It’s a thing, and for many – like F – it’s something to be enjoyed in multitudes for a short time every year. It tastes completely different from green asparagus – milder and sweeter, to me. Peel it, then wrap it in a foil packet with butter and salt and roast it in a 200C/400F oven for 45-60 minutes. Yum.

Back to baking, the first thing I made in our new oven was a batch of my go-to granola. Needless to say, more batches have followed.

Anita Bean’s lentil-stuffed peppers from her Vegetarian Athlete’s Cookbook made for a tasty and light dinner on a warm summery evening.

We don’t usually celebrate the Fourth of July (American Independence Day), but F wanted to have friends over for a barbecue and he asked if flag cakes are actually a thing. I wasn’t sure, but I checked smitten kitchen and – lo and behold – she had a recipe for one. A classic yellow cake base (it stayed quite moist, maybe thanks to buttermilk) is slathered with cream cheese frosting and topped with berries in the shape of the American flag. I think it’s one of the most patriotic things I’ve ever done or made… It was a hit with our German friends and I’d definitely make the cake again, with or without the flag design.

What have you been cooking recently?

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Recipe: Winter Salad Variations

It’s nice to spend the cold, dark months of the year cooking and eating hearty comfort foods like stews, soups and roasted vegetables. But sometimes I am in the mood for something fresh and crunchy to lighten things up: enter the winter salad!

Fennel, green apple, kohlrabi, orange

There are number of robust winter vegetables that, when paired with a zesty dressing, make for a delicious salad. Adding something sweet and something salty to the bowl brings the flavors together and balances things out. I’ll list some of my favorite ingredients below, followed by my lemon-dijon dressing recipe and a few suggested salad combinations.

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Radicchio, fennel, apple, celery, walnut, parsley

Ingredient ideas:

  • Carrots
  • Chicory
  • Kohlrabi
  • Radicchio
  • Fennel
  • Apples (Granny Smith or other tart ones best)
  • Oranges
  • Dried cranberries
  • Feta cheese
  • Goat cheese
  • Lentils (green and brown hold up best in salads)
  • Chickpeas
  • White beans
  • Walnuts or other nut of choice

Lemon-Dijon Dressing (a classic I learned from my mom)

  • Whisk together (I usually do it straight into the bottom of the salad bowl) the following ingredients, to taste: freshly squeezed lemon juiceolive oildijon mustardsalt/pepper. You can add some white wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar for extra zing, or if you don’t have enough lemons around.

Salad Variation 1: Fennel, green apple, & kohlrabi with orange

  • Thinly slice 1 fennel bulb, 1 green apple, and 1 kohlrabi bulb. Peel and cut an orange into bite-sized chunks. Add some white beans (butter/cannelloni) for protein. Don’t forget the dressing!

Salad Variation 2: Chicory & radicchio with dried cranberries & green lentils

  • Cook some green lentils in salted water with 1 bayleaf. Drain and set aside.
  • Thinly slice 1 chicory head (bulb?) and 1 radicchio. Add to the salad bowl with dressing, then add in lentils and a handful of dried cranberries.

Salad Variation 3: Grated kohlrabi, carrot, & apple

  • Instead of thinly slicing, you can grate kohlrabi, carrots, and apple straight into the salad bowl. Toss with dressing and enjoy!

Or make up your own combination. Happy salad making!


Vegetarian Month

After enjoying many a burger on our USA trip this summer, F suggested we eat vegetarian for a month after getting home. We didn’t eat much meat to begin with, and I rarely cook meat for myself when F isn’t around. In the past couple of years we’ve been thinking more about the ethics and environmental impact of eating meat. We thought a vegetarian month would expand our recipe repertoire and be a fun challenge. Read on to see what dinners we made…

Anita Bean stir fry with tofu

Week 1

  • A variation of this baked ziti for two
  • Salad Niçoise without tuna: lettuce, green beans, boiled eggs, random other veg
  • Three recipes from Anita Bean’s The Vegetarian Athlete’s Cookbook (a newish favorite)
    • Potatoes with spinach & chickpeas
    • Dhal with almonds, plus rice: this has entered the semi-regular dinner rotation
    • Tofu & veg stir fry (photo above)
  • Sweet potato & black bean tacos: a lazy variation of my enchiladas. Anything with sweet potatoes and black beans is okay by me!

Week 2

Kimchi soup

  • Cauliflower fettuccine Alfredo (adapted from this Serious Eats recipe): this was already in the regular rotation. It’s delicious, especially if you like cauliflower, pasta, and creamy foods.
  • Vegetarian kimchi soup with tofu (adapted from Bon Appétit): pictured above. Not the most photogenic, but still quite tasty.
  • Store-bought veggie burgers on Dunn’s brioche buns with roast potatoes
  • My soba noodle salad with peanut sauce and Quorn pieces
  • Vegetarian bolognese with Quorn mince: F made this from scratch. Didn’t miss the meat!

Week 3

Colorful salad + gruyere-melted-baguette

  • Homemade falafel with yogurt sauce, tomatoes, and pita
  • Pan-fried halloumi-portobello-zucchini “burgers” on Dunn’s brioche buns (man, those buns are good!)
  • Colorful salad with boiled eggs and gruyère-melted toast (pictured above)
  • Tofu, greens, beans, and rice bowls from The Full Helping: hearty and healthy but a bit bland, even after I doubled the spice amounts.
  • Takeaway (vegetarian) pizza from Sacro Cuore, our favorite place across the street

Week 4

Veg, beautiful veg!

  • Roast tomato and garlic pasta, à la Joy the Baker: we’ve made this a number of times before and it’s always nice.
  • Pie and mash! Vegetarian Pieminister pies, homemade mash, peas, gravy.
  • Baked sweet potatoes (1 hour in the oven, 400F/200C) with baked beans (Heinz) and peas. There was probably some grated cheese action, too.
  • A BBC Good Food lentil bolognese at Joe and Ciara’s
  • Pancakes & Pflaumenkuchen on the weekend!

Bonus Recipes (I can’t remember when we made these)

The verdict

Our vegetarian month went well and neither of us craved meat. The most difficult part, I found, was finding good veggie options while out and about: Tesco has limited vegetarian options in their lunchtime meal deals… We tried a bunch of new recipes and some will definitely become part of our regular rotation.

We like a bit of meat in our diets for the iron and protein (and taste), but ethically and environmentally it makes sense to cut down quite a bit on our meat consumption. So we’ve decided to keep eating mostly vegetarian but allow up to two dinners per week to be cooked with some kind of animal protein (chicken, fish, pork, beef, etc) that we buy from our local butcher (much happier chickens!). We can also be flexible when eating out.

What has your experience been with eating vegetarian (or not)? If you are a vegetarian, I applaud you!


Recipe: Herbed Israeli Couscous Salad with Dried Apricots & Preserved Lemon

F was away for work this week and I don’t usually feel like cooking when he’s not around, tending to gravitate towards salads, grains, and other quick-prep dishes. Melissa Clark’s recipe for couscous salad with dried apricots and preserved lemon had caught my eye recently and sounded like the perfect thing for a healthy weeknight dinner. I read the recipe to get a general idea of flavors and then improvised from there, using lemon juice rather than white wine vinegar, parsley instead of dill, and adding almonds for protein and crunch.

Health in a bowl

The salad turned out really well: I’ve fallen in love with the combination of sour-salty preserved lemon and sweet, chewy dried apricots. Finely chopped herbs make a great green base for salads and a nice alternative to lettuce.

This dish is light, fresh, and healthy. I enjoyed it so much that I made it again when F got home, adding some grated carrot and diced cucumber for extra veggie points. Feel free to add or subtract ingredients as you’d like — it would work equally well with small couscous or a grain like barley, buckwheat, bulgur, or quinoa.

Herbed Israeli Couscous Salad with Dried Apricots & Preserved Lemon (inspired by Melissa Clark at NYT Cooking)

Ingredients

  • 1 dry cup Israeli couscous
  • olive oil, to taste
  • Juice of 1-2 lemons (to taste)
  • 2-3 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 bunch fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 bunch fresh mint, finely chopped
  • 3 preserved lemons, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup dried apricots, diced small
  • 1/2 cup almonds (roasted & salted are best), roughly chopped
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Optional additions: 1-2 carrots (grated), 1/2 cucumber (diced)

Procedure

  • Cook the couscous by bringing salted water to boil, adding the couscous, and letting it simmer for 8-10 minutes. Drain.
  • While the couscous is cooking, whisk together olive oil, lemon juice, and cumin in the bottom of a large bowl. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  • Chop/dice the parsley, mint, preserved lemons, apricots, and almonds. Grate the carrot and dice the cucumber, if using. Add everything to the bowl with the dressing and mix well.
  • Add the couscous to the bowl and mix until everything is combined. Enjoy warm or cold!

What’s Been Cooking? Late Summer Edition

Gosh, the summer has flown by. Was it the same for you?

This blog has fallen a little by the wayside… I’m still here, just less frequently and with fewer of my “own” recipes, especially now that I can save all my favorites to NYT Cooking. Even though I’m posting fewer recipes doesn’t mean I’ve stopped cooking…on the contrary, our kitchen remains an exciting and comforting place amidst the stresses of daily life.

Here’s a peek into what F and I have been cooking over the past few months, in no particular order.

IMG_1421Ottolenghi’s “Chickpea Saute with Greek Yogurt” — light and bright summer flavors went beautifully over rice with a rich and creamy Greek yogurt sauce on the side. Highly recommended and very easy to throw together on a weeknight.
IMG_1163Pasta with Zucchini, Ricotta and Basil, courtesy of David Tanis at NYT Cooking. Creamy and rich yet summery, thanks to lemon zest and basil.

IMG_1407Smitten kitchen’s takeout-style sesame noodles with cucumber. Simple and delicious — I made them when F was away at a conference and managed not to get too tired of them despite having them over the course of 4 meals in two days…
IMG_1455The Woks of Life’s Shanghai-Style Braised Pork Belly — it took 3 hours but was totally worth it for the melt-in-your-mouth texture of the pork belly in rich, sticky sauce. So so good. We will definitely make it again on our next leisurely weekend.

Non-photographed but just as tasty dishes:

  • Melissa Clark’s Lunchbox Harvest Muffins (NYT Cooking) are moist and not dense at all, despite using only whole wheat flour. They’re packed with grated apple, carrot, and zucchini and made great afternoon snacks for F and me during the workweek.
  • We made Martha Rose Shulman’s Spicy South Indian Cauliflower for the second time. F browned some cubes of paneer cheese to add in and I made naan bread to go on the side.
  • I had always wanted to try making bircher muesli and finally did this summer. I used Nigella’s “basic bircher muesli” recipe and it turned out exactly like I’d hoped. Last week I made a double batch, which got us both through two weekday breakfasts.
  • These blueberry pancakes are SO FLUFFY, thanks to whipping the egg whites before folding them into the batter.
  • Rather have blueberry muffins? I made some of those, too: Call Me Cupcake’s blueberry lemon muffins were just right and didn’t even need the cardamom topping, in my opinion.

What have you been cooking?

———

Recipe: Pesto & Zucchini Galette

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Galettes have been on my mind for a while — they keep popping up on the cooking blogs I read, filled at this time of year with stone fruit or late summer vegetables. I finally decided to try my hand at one when in the same week Melissa Clark posted a couple galette recipes with a great-looking rye-flecked crust, and The Kitchn came out with a summer vegetable galette. Both recipes looked great, so I adapted my crust from Clark, and my filling was inspired by The Kitchn.

IMG_5897

A galette comes together easily, in large part because you don’t have to shape the dough into a pie dish or anything — you can just go free-form and pile on your fillings of choice. F and I had made some pesto that we’d frozen, so I thawed it and spread it liberally over the crust; it worked as a lovely base for the tomatoes and zucchini. And this crust is very nice. Despite the excess oil/butter that appeared on the baking sheet at the end, the bottom of the crust didn’t get soggy and had a lovely bit of flaky crunch. I highly recommend this summery galette and am looking forward to trying my hand at a sweet version!

Pesto & Zucchini Galette (dough adapted from Melissa Clark at NYT Cooking; recipe inspired by The Kitchn; makes 2-4 servings, depending on how hungry you are!)

Ingredients

  • Crust:
    • 80g (~2/3 cup) plain/AP flour
    • 90g (~2/3 cup) rye or whole wheat flour
    • 5g (1 tsp) sugar
    • 3g (1/2 tsp) salt
    • 1 egg
    • Heave cream or milk, as needed
    • 113g unsalted butter, cut into big chunks
    • juice + zest of 1 lemon
  • Filling:
    • 1/2 – 3/4 cup Basil Pesto
    • 1-2 tomatoes, sliced thinly
    • 1-2 zucchini, sliced thinly
    • for garnish: grated parmesan cheese

Procedure

  • Make crust: In a large bowl, whisk together the flours, sugar and salt. In a measuring cup, whisk the egg and then whisk in enough cream or milk to make 1/3 cup; set aside. Add the butter to the flour mixture and work in with a pastry cutter or your hands, until the butter chunks are chickpea-sized. Drizzle up to 1/4 cup of the egg mixture (reserve the rest for later) into the flour-butter and stir until the mixture just comes together (it will still be crumbly — that’s okay). Stir in the lemon juice and zest.
  • Lightly flour a flat surface and turn the dough out onto it. Knead the dough a few times, until it comes together into one piece. Flatten the dough into a disk, wrap in plastic, and chill for at least 2 hours or up to 3 days.
  • While the dough is chilling, slice your tomatoes and zucchini.
  • After the dough has chilledassemble the galette: Preheat the oven to 200C (400F — don’t use the fan/convection setting!) and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Roll the dough out to a 12-inch (30cm) round and slip it onto the baking sheet. Spread 1/2 – 3/4 cup pesto on the dough, leaving a 1.5-2-inch (3-4cm) border around the edges. Arrange the tomatoes on top of the pesto, then top with the zucchini slices. Fold the pastry edges towards the center, overlapping as necessary (see photo above). Brush the exposed pastry edges with the rest of the egg-cream mixture.
  • Bake the galette for 35-40 minutes or until the crust is a nice golden-brown. When you take it out of the oven, soak up any excess liquid with a paper towel or two. Cool the galette for at least 10 minutes, then garnish with grated parmesan.

Enjoy!

Recipe: Corn Cakes with Fresh Corn & Green Onions

Browsing through some recent issues of Cooking Light for the pretty pictures recipe inspiration, I came across these “Silver Dollar Corn Cakes.” As I do love my pancakes, I was intrigued by this more savory variant. Turns out that we had bought corn and green onions in our last shopping and so had almost all the ingredients on hand.

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The corn cakes turned out really well, acting not as a side but as the main event for our dinner, complementing chard and green beans. F thought they were great — even with ketchup! I could also imagine them being good with a dollop or two of sour cream. These are basically cornbread in pancake form, so they’d be great alongside any meaty main. We actually enjoyed the leftovers with fried eggs for Saturday brunch. I made most of my corn cakes bigger than silver dollar-sized, in part because that shortened the cooking time, but the little ones are so cute that I might do them all small next time.

Corn Cakes with Fresh Corn & Green Onions (adapted from Cooking Light Aug 2014; serves 3-5)

Ingredients

  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 1/2 cup plain flour
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 – 1.25 cups buttermilk
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 cups fresh corn kernels (from 3 cobs)
  • 4 green onions, minced

Procedure

  • In a medium bowl, whisk together the cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.
  • In a separate bowl, whisk together the buttermilk and eggs.
  • Stir the dry mixture into the wet mixture, then stir in the corn kernels and green onions.
  • Heat a nonstick pan over medium heat. Add dollops or ladlefuls of batter to the pan and cook about 2 minutes per side.

Enjoy!

Recipe: Fresh Corn & Avocado Salad with Basil & Lime

Visiting my parents in the summer is always fun, in part because there are always so many delicious fresh/seasonal fruits and veggies around the house. My dad and I, finding ourselves alone for dinner on a Friday evening, improvised with what ingredients we had and created a colorful and healthy spread: He made delicious BBQ chicken and I came up with this salad, inspired by Mark Bittman. Add some grilled eggplant, and you have a perfect summer meal.

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Fresh Corn & Avocado Salad with Basil & Lime (inspired by Mark Bittman; serves 3-4)

Ingredients

  • 2-3 generous handfuls of your favorite salad greens
  • 4 cobs of fresh corn, blanched & kernels cut off
  • 1 ripe avocado, diced
  • handful of fresh purple basil, minced (feel free to use “normal” green basil)
  • small handful of fresh mint, minced
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 1-2 glugs olive oil
  • to taste: salt & pepper

Procedure

  • Bring a large pot of water to boil and blanch the corn cobs in it for about 5 minutes. Remove the corn from the water, let cool, then cut the kernels off the cobs.
  • Combine the corn kernels, diced avocado, minced herbs, and salad greens in a large salad bowl. Squeeze the lime over everything, add some olive oil, salt, and pepper, and toss until the salad is evenly coated.

Enjoy!

Recipe: Terry’s Gin-Barbecue Chicken

Extra-crispy, May 2014

Extra-crispy, May 2014

I grew up eating a lot of chicken. One of the family staples, especially in the summertime, is my dad Terry’s amazing gin-barbecue chicken. Usually baked in the oven, though occasionally grilled, this is one of the simplest chicken recipes you’ll come across: marinate chicken pieces in gin and barbecue sauce, then bake for an hour and voila! An easy and delicious dinner.

Not-so-crispy (but just as good), July 2014

Not-so-crispy (but just as good), July 2014

Barbecue chicken goes well with grilled vegetables — I prefer eggplant and/or zucchini — and a big salad. Also gin and tonics, which my family affectionately calls “G&Ts”. It’s hard to go wrong with that combination! If you want some more carbs with your meal, rice does a good job of soaking up the barbecue juices.

Terry’s Gin-Barbecue Chicken (family recipe; serves 3-5, but easy to adjust for more or fewer people)

Ingredients

  • 5 bone-in chicken pieces (thighs &/or drumsticks)
  • 1.5 – 2 cups barbecue sauce (choose your favorite brand, or make it yourself)
  • 1/4 cup gin
  • to taste: salt & pepper

Procedure

  • Rub some salt and pepper into the chicken, then marinate it in the gin and barbecue sauce for at least one hour and up to overnight in the fridge.
  • Bake the chicken in the oven at 375F (190C) for 1 hour. Alternately, grill the chicken on a barbecue (this may take longer for the chicken to cook through).

Enjoy!

Recipe: Socca with Zucchini, Tomatoes & Shaved Parmesan

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I’ve been wanting to make socca for a while but had no chickpea flour (aka gram flour) in the house until I made these spinach and potato patties a few weeks ago. Left with an open Wednesday evening and plenty of gram four, I had no more excuses and turned to Cookie and Kate for guidance on how to make it.

socca-as-pizza

socca-as-pizza

Socca is a sort of crepe/pancake/flatbread hybrid, baked and/or broiled in a skillet in the oven. It is really easy to make and, after you’ve let the batter sit for an hour, cooks quickly. Though socca is traditionally enjoyed plain or sprinkled with a few herbs, I topped my first attempt with zucchini, tomatoes, and shaved parmesan to make a light and healthy pizza-like dish — great for a quick weeknight dinner. But it was so good that I made it again the next night, this time leaving it plain enjoying some sautéed veggies on the side. Feel free to try your own topping variations (let me know what you come up with!) or just enjoy the socca plain — you won’t be disappointed.

Socca with Zucchini, Tomatoes & Shaved Parmesan (adapted from Cookie and Kate; makes 2 generous servings)

Ingredients

  • 1 cup (120g) chickpea/gram flour
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 cup olive oil, divided
  • 1-2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1 zucchini, julienned
  • 1-2 tomatoes, thinly sliced
  • to taste: parmesan or other hard cheese, shaved

Procedure

  • One hour before you want to bake the socca, whisk together the gram flour, water, 2 tbsp olive oil, garlic, and sea salt. Let sit at room temperature for at least an hour.
  • To make topped (‘pizza-style’) socca:
    • Turn your oven’s broiler on and move the oven rack up to 8 inches underneath. Put a large skillet in the oven to preheat.
    • When the oven/skillet have finished heating, take the skillet out (use oven mitts!) and swirl 2 tbsp of olive oil in it. Pour in the socca batter and pop it in the oven for 5-8 minutes or until the edges start to brown.
    • Remove the skillet from the oven. Move the rack back to the middle of the oven, switch back to normal heating, and turn the temperature down to 215C.
    • Pour the last 1 tbsp olive oil over the socca and arrange the tomatoes, zucchini, and parmesan on top. Bake for 8-10 minutes.
  • To make plain socca:
    • Put a large skillet in a rack in the middle of the oven and turn the oven on to heat to 225C (top-bottom heat, not convection).
    • When the oven/skillet have finished heating, take the skillet out (use oven mitts!) and swirl 2 tbsp of olive oil in it.
    • Bake the socca for 10-11 minutes, then switch over to the broiler, move your oven rack up, and broil the socca for 2-3 minutes or until it begins blistering.

Enjoy!