March 29, 2011 § 2 Comments
After working this weekend, I took Monday off. Two great things happened:
1) I finally got around to making these crackers I’d been eyeing.
2) I went grocery shopping.
Yes, grocery shopping on a Monday morning is truly great. The stores are quiet, bordering on peaceful. There are just a few polite moms, wandering the aisles. Everything is in stock, the produce is fresh. I could move slowly and take my time, not banging carts every time I turned a corner. It was wonderful. I’m still glowing from the experience.
Now that I’ve revealed to you how obsessed I am about my grocery shopping, on to these crackers. Crackers- another item I never think to make at home but was curious to try. These are hearty and crunchy and spicy all at the same time. I like the addition of the sesame seeds, both for the way they taste and how they look.
Spicy Sesame Crackers adapted from So Good and Tasty
Makes roughly 24 crackers
3/4 c cold water
1/8 c olive oil
1 1/4 c whole wheat flour
1/4 c corn meal
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (less if you don’t like it so spicy)
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 T sesame seeds
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, pour in the olive oil and water. In a separate bowl mix together the flour, corn meal, salt, and red pepper flakes. Pour the dry mixture into the wet, mixing on low until just combined. The dough should be slightly sticky. Remove the dough, bring together into a ball, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 500 degrees, line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Mix together the remaining ingredients in a small bowl. Remove the dough from the fridge and place it on a lightly floured countertop. Flour the top of the dough and your rolling pin. You may need to do this several times throughout so the dough doesn’t stick. Roll from the center out, getting the dough as thin as possible. Once rolled out, run a spatula under the dough, loosening it from the counter. Use a pizza cutter to clean up the edges, then transfer the dough to the baking sheet. Brush the dough with olive oil, and sprinkle evenly with the sesame/spice mixture.
One sheet at a time, bake for ten minutes, then flip the dough and bake for another 2-4 minutes, until it’s lightly brown. Let the cracker cool, then break or cut into large pieces.
March 28, 2011 § 3 Comments
Making my own salad dressing is nothing new. That’s the way my mother did it growing up, so I grew accustomed to doing it that way. We occasionally had a bottle of ranch in the fridge, but that was for the nights my mom went out and we had a babysitter. We’d have chicken nuggets and chopped up veggies, and use the ranch as dipping sauce for both the nuggets and the veggies. That whole combination though, doesn’t sound too appetizing now.
My standard at home dressing always consists of French mustard, honey or sugar, some type of vinegar, and olive oil. I recently bought a jar of tahini to make hummus, but had a ton leftover. At $7 for the jar, I didn’t want it to go to waste, so I began exploring tahini based dressings. I settled on the one below based on the items in my cupboard. One week later our tahini is almost gone- a testament to how good this dressing is. The flavor is strong yet not overpowering, with great nuttiness from the sesame seeds. It’s also addictively creamy, without the addition of sour cream or mayo. We’re almost through with the tahini and I definitely plan on buying more. So in the end, this whole effort to get rid of an ingredient only caused it to become a mainstay in my cupboard.
Tahini Dressing adapted from Epicurious
1/4 c tahini
1/4 c water
1 T lemon juice
1 T apple cider vinegar
1 T soy sauce
1 clove finely minced garlic
2 tsp maple syrup
s+p to taste
Whisk together the tahini and water until completely combined. Then add in remaining ingredients and stir well. If dressing seems to thick, add a bit more water. Toss half of dressing with a large bowl of salad ingredients- add more if desired. Dressing can be stored up to a week, covered, in fridge.
March 24, 2011 § 84 Comments
It dawned on me the other day I had never written about a beverage. I’m certainly not whipping up cocktails in my kitchen every night, but alcohol or not, I do enjoy toying with ingredients in my drinks- whether it be adding apple pie spice to hot cocoa, or putting grapefruit juice in my gin and tonic (though there must be a name for that). With an abundance of limes on hand, I decided to make homemade limeade. If you’ve only had lemonade and not limeade, then you’re missing a crucial part of the citrus drink spectrum. Even more tart in flavor, limeade is incredibly refreshing. To enhance the drink’s natural green hue and mellow out the tartness, I added mint. This drink is wonderful on its own, but it without a doubt begs for a splash of gin or vodka. Cheers to finding my go to summertime drink.
Homemade Mint Limeade
Make 2 glasses
juice of 6 limes
2 tsp finely chopped fresh mint
3 T agave nectar (or simple syrup)
2 1/2 c water (sparkling if you have it)
Whisk together the lime juice, mint, and agave nectar. Divide lime mixture between two medium size glasses. Fill the glasses slightly more than half way with ice cubes. Stir well to chill lime mixture. Pour 1 1/4 cups of flat or sparkling water into each glass and stir well. Enjoy immediately!
March 22, 2011 § 14 Comments
- 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
- 1 jalapeno, minced
- 1/2 onion, chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
- 3/4 cup uncooked quinoa
- 1 1/2 cups vegetable broth
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp paprika
- 1 tsp salt
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 cup frozen corn kernels
- 2 (15 ounce) cans black beans, rinsed and drained
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
- juice of 1 lime
Heal oil in medium size pot over medium heat. Add in onion, garlic, and jalapeno, stirring occasionally and cooking until lightly browned (8-10 minutes).Stir in quinoa, cover with vegetable broth, and stir in spices. Bring to a boil, and then lower to a simmer. Simmer partially covered over medium low heat for 20-25 minutes, until all liquid is absorbed.
Stir in corn and beans, cooking for a few minutes until corn is cooked through. Stir in cilantro and lime. Dish may served warm, at room temp, or chilled and served cold.
March 20, 2011 § 1 Comment
A few weeks back, I had dinner at Rosa Mexicano for the first time. I ate everything from the crab empanadas to the pork belly tacos, but what stood out the most was their guacamole. Big buttery pieces of avocado tossed in onion, jalapeno and cilantro. As I downed the dip, I began to question why, when making guacamole at home, had I always smashed my avocados into oblivion? From that moment forward I swore I’d never made guacamole that way again. This Sunday, midst a Mexican food themed weekend, I finally had the opportunity to amend my guacamole making tendencies. I followed Rosa Mexicano’s signature recipe and added in lime and extra jalapeno for freshness and spice. The outcome was delicious, most certainly a vast improvement from my previous version of guacamole. Not to mention, this guacamole method makes a remarkably pretty dip, don’t you think?
Guacamole adapted from Rosa Mexicano Restaurants
3 ripe hass avocados
handful chopped cilantro
2 1/2 T very finely minced white onion
1 japaleno finely minced
juice of 1 lime
1/2 tsp salt
Cut avocados in half, remove pit, and scoop out whole halves (gently run a spoon around the rind). Chop avocados into medium size chunks. Toss gently with remaining ingredients. Cover with plastic wrap, pressing it directly against the avocado so it’s not exposed to the air. Chill in fridge for 30 minutes before serving with tortilla chips.
March 18, 2011 § 3 Comments
I am by no means experienced in Asian cooking. It’s the one area in the kitchen I don’t feel too inclined to explore. I’d much rather eat out for Japanese, Chinese, or Thai food (etc) and call it a day. However, there is one dish I’ve taken to making at home- Sesame Noodles. Granted it’s probably one of the most Americanized dishes at a Chinese restaurant, but I love it anyway (largely due to the presence of peanut butter in the sauce). Plus, any sauce that just requires throwing items in a blender and hitting on is an ideal weeknight recipe in my book. We paired these noodles with baked tofu (Gasp! How un-Contessa like of me) as we’re trying to eat less meat, but sauteed shrimp or chicken would also work well. Toss the raw shrimp or chicken in a few tablespoons of the sauce, allow seafood/meat to marinate for at least 30 minutes, and then cook in a lightly oiled frying pan. Serve over tossed noodles.
Spicy Sesame Noodles adapted from Dana Treat
1 pound rice noodles
¾ cup smooth peanut butter
½ cup rice vinegar
1 1/2 tsp agave nectar (or sugar)
4 T soy sauce
½ cup water
1 T sesame oil
2 tsp crushed red pepper flake
1/4 tsp dried ginger
1 large garlic clove
scallions and sesame seeds for topping
Set a large pot of water to boil. Cook rice noodles for five minutes (do not overcook or they will stick together!), drain, and rinse under cold water to stop cooking process. Place in large bowl and toss with 2 T vegetable oil so noodles don’t stick together.
In a blender or Cuisinart, puree the remaining ingredients except for the sesame seeds and scallions to make the dressing.
Pour 3/4 of the dressing over the noodles, and toss gently to coat. Add more dressing if noodles seem dry. Top individual bowls with sesame seeds and scallions if desired.
March 16, 2011 § 2 Comments
I am half Irish, thanks to my mother’s side of the family. Her last name begins with “O’, ” just to give you a sense of how Irish she is. Every year, growing up, we’d have Corned Beef and Cabbage around Saint Patrick’s Day. But since moving away from home, it’s become harder to keep up the tradition (Saint Patrick’s Day isn’t exactly a holiday you go home for).
When I made my travel plans to go home a few weeks back, my mom told me (enthusiastically) that she’d be making Corned Beef and Cabbage for our visit. I didn’t think much of it at the time, I was just looking forward to any form of my mother’s cooking. But this past Saturday, as we sat down to enjoy this timeless Irish meal, I was quickly reminded of how much I love this dish. Corned beef and cabbage is a prime reminder that in cooking, simplicity is often best. And when paired with nostalgic memories of your childhood, well, that’s even better.
Happy Saint Patrick’s Day!