Tuesday, November 25, 2014

The Warming Promise

       

      Few things I've encountered ignite in me a feeling of belonging such as the warming promise of cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice and sweet pumpkin as a pie bakes in the oven. Happy holidays, far flung friends.

Roasted and Spiced Pumpkin Pie with Gluten Free Crust
crust adapted from Megan over at Allergy Free Alaska

      This surprised me in a big way. It's not the easiest time I've had with getting the crust into the pie plate, but once it's in there, it stays! It's flaky with a chew -- a major feat for anything gluten free that's as fuss free as this.

Ingredients

For the crust

1/3 c sorghum flour
1/3 c millet flour
1/3 c arrowroot or kuzu powder
1/4 c brown rice flour
3/4 t xanthan gum 
1/2 t sea salt
1/2 t cinnamon

1/2 c cold unsalted butter (or vegan alternative)

1 1/2 t apple cider vinegar
5 T ice cold water
1 T brown sugar/maple sugar/cane sugar

 For the filling

  * To make the roasted puree, halve the squash(es) with a sharp knife, scoop out the seeds, rub with a bit of oil and place on a baking sheet covered tightly with foil. Bake at 350F until tender (about an hour). Let cool and then scoop out the flesh and puree in a blender or with an immersion blender, adding the coconut milk or heavy cream if it's too dry. You can do this a few days in advance.

4 c roasted squash/pumpkin puree* or something from a can (I used a small butternut and acorn squash)
1 cup coconut milk/heavy cream
1 T ground cinnamon
1 t ground ginger
3/4 t ground nutmeg
1/2 t ground allspice
1/4 t ground cloves
1/4 t sea salt
1/2 to 3/4 c brown sugar/maple sugar/cane sugar

1 egg, beaten (or egg substitute)

Process

      For the crust

      Sift together the dry ingredients. Combine the apple cider vinegar, water and 1 T of sweetener and set aside. With a grater, grate the cold butter (or butter substitute) into the sifted dry ingredients and cut until the mixture looks like coarse crumbs (do this with two forks or a pastry cutter).

      Mix the wet ingredients in with a wooden spoon and quickly (so not to melt the butter) shape into a ball and put in a plastic bag. Press down so the ball of dough shapes itself into a disc and refrigerate for 15 minutes.

      Roll out the dough either on a sorghum flour dusted surface or between two layers of sorghum flour dusted parchment paper. Once it's ready to be placed in the 9" pie plate, gently fold the dough in half twice so that when you make the transfer from counter to baking dish, less tears happen. Unfold the dough and cinch together the edges to form a crust. If any rips occur, fear not -- it patches together easily once it's settled in the pan.

      Cover with a damp cloth and refrigerate until the filling is ready to bake.

      For the filling

     Preheat the oven to 375F.

     Mix together the pureed squash/pumpkin, coconut milk, sweetener and spices. Taste and add more sweetener or spice if you'd like. Add the egg, mix until smooth and pour into the pre-formed crust. If any filling remains, pour it into little ramekins and bake separately until set.

      Bake until the filling sets -- about an hour. The crust should be golden. Let cool for 3 hours before slicing.

      Serve with ice cream, whipped cream or sweetened yogurt.

Yields: one 9" pie
Prep time: an hour or so
Bake time: an hour or so

Writing and Styling by Adria Lee | Photography by Amy Pennington

Friday, October 31, 2014

Nearly Forgotten

      
     
       When we make quinoa, invariably there always ends up being far more than we anticipated. The other day, knowing that a bowl of squash and leek bisque would be dinner, I whipped these up from a bowl of nearly forgotten toasted red quinoa on the bottom shelf in the fridge. Nutty from being toasted and crunchy from being pan fried in olive oil,  they made perfect soup accoutrements and helped us soldier onward down the experimental (for allergy’s sake) gluten-free path.
 
Toasted Red Quinoa Fritters with Dijon Yogurt Cream (GF)

            * Contrary to what some say, it really is aesthetically important to rinse the quinoa -- it’s coated with a natural pesticide called saponins that quite bitterly interferes with its mild flavor profile. Fill a pot with 1 cup of uncooked quinoa and cover it with enough water to submerge it. In a clockwise manner, swirl your hand around the pot at least 20 times and then drain through a fine mesh strainer. Dry toast the rinsed quinoa in a pot over medium heat, stirring constantly for 3 minutes. Add 2 cups of fresh water, ½ teaspoon of salt, bring to a simmer and put a lid on it. Reduce the heat to very low. Let the quinoa cook for 25 undisturbed minutes and then remove from heat. Let cool. You can do this a day or two in advance. And if you already have leftover quinoa, you're all set!

Ingredients

3 cups cooked red quinoa (or white) *
¾ teaspoon sea salt
½ cup millet flour
½ cup sundried tomatoes in oil, minced
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 egg, lightly beaten
¾ cup manchego cheese, grated
vegetable or olive oil, for frying 

½ cup yogurt (mayonnaise/aioli or Veganaise are great substitutions, too)
½ clove of garlic, minced
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon maple syrup
¼ t of freshly cracked pepper
¼ teaspoon sea salt
chopped capers, fresh basil or dill (optional)
 
Process

      Mix together the cooled, cooked quinoa, millet flour and ¾ teaspoon of sea salt. Combine the sundried tomatoes, minced garlic, egg, and cheese and fold it into the mixture. Let it rest for twenty minutes.

 
      Meanwhile, mix together the yogurt, ½ clove of minced garlic, Dijon, maple syrup, salt and pepper and any herbs and taste for balance.

      In a large skillet, heat a generous amount of oil over medium-high heat. Add a drop of the batter to the oil – it should sizzle immediately and heartily.

      Moving quickly with a large spoon, gently drop 2 T worth of batter per fritter onto the skillet and lightly press down so that they are no more than half an inch tall. Fry on each side for about 2 minutes, flipping once. Do this in batches until the batter is gone.

      The fritters can be eaten hot or at room temperature, alongside a salad or on their own.

Yields: a dozen fritters
Prep time: 45 minutes (includes quinoa and sauce)
Cook time: 15 minutes (for frying)

Writing/Styling by Adria Lee | Photography by Amy Pennington

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Gentle But Illustrious

     

      Like lugging the bin of cold weather sweaters down from the attic once the breeze turns cool or slow cooking black beans with smoked chiles on a Saturday night -- it's the simple things that brings the joy.

Black Beans with Sweet Onions and Smoked Chiles

      These beans are gentle but illustrious. The sweet onions are an essential base, as is the technique of frying the spices -- both for the power of deepening the flavor and for the extraction of the medicinal properties of turmeric (anti-inflammatory) and cumin (a digestive aid). This has been a staple in my repertoire since living in Harlem in my early twenties and the only real change to the recipe is that I don't cook it in an aluminum pot anymore.

Ingredients

5 T oil (olive or coconut)
1 large onion, diced
3/4 t sea salt

1 T maple syrup
4 cloves of garlic, minced
2 canned chipotle peppers, minced (plus 2T of adobo sauce)
1 t ground cumin
3/4 t ground turmeric

4 cans of black beans (I like Westbrae for their BPA free principals)
1 t sea salt  (or more)

Process

      Over a medium-high flame, heat the oil in a heavy bottomed pot large enough to house all of the ingredients. Add the diced onion and sea salt and let the onions cook, stirring occasionally, until they begin to turn a caramel color -- about 25 minutes. Reduce the heat if they start to blacken.

      Add the maple syrup, minced garlic and chipotle peppers, cumin and turmeric and let sizzle for a minute or so, stirring constantly but gently.

      Add the beans and their liquid plus the remaining sea salt. Let the beans come to a hearty simmer and then reduce the heat to a gentle simmer for 20 minutes more, stirring occasionally.

      Taste a spoonful -- add more salt, pinch by pinch, to lift any dragging flavors or more adobo sauce for added spice.

      These are delicious on top of hot rice with a poached egg, atop corn chips with melted cheese and pickled jalapenos, or in warm tortillas with a cabbage and onion slaw with a creamy buttermilk dressing.

      Freeze any leftovers.

Yields: beans for days -- about 8 servings
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 1 hour, mostly unnattended

Writing and Styling by Adria Lee | Photography by Amy Pennington

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Therefore In The Right Place

  

      When I made my living in kitchens I used to wake myself up in the middle of the night with the residual scent of onions and thyme, once delicious sauteing on the stovetop, accosting my dreams. At first it was nearly sensual, like how your upper lip smells of your kissing partner long after they've gone home. But before long (much to the aggrieved heart in its longing!) their perfume fades away and you're left with yourself, ready for bed and in need of a toothbrush. The slippery smoke of cooking food marches to a different drum; it creeps into your ears, clings under your nailbeds and sets up permanent camp in the metallic pores of any jewelry you may have forgotten to remove prior to handling garlic. And if you're cooking in your own home, the fumes will sneak into the cupboards and nestle into curtain folds, lingering after the dishes are washed and the feet are propped.

     Among the many ways to mitigate a meal's clinging scent (running around with a burning piece of newspaper or simmering water and cinnamon on the stove), the best way may be to simply tie your hair back, open a window and let it wash over you -- like winter, it won't last forever. MFK Fisher (once again) nails it: "...you can broil the meat, fry the onions, stew the garlic in the red wine...and ask me to supper. I'll not care, really, even if your nose is a little shiny, so long as you are self-possessed and...your mind is your own and your heart is another's and therefore in the right place."

Lemon Roasted Potatoes with Garlic
inspired by Flora Maranka

      One of the many things I do miss about working in the kitchen is my friend Flora. She's read almost every book in the world and has a sense of humor that has left me doubled over in a fit of laughter at least five dozen times. She is one of the founding mothers of the Moosewood restaurant in Ithaca, NY and has a cool sensibility about food that has inspired me time and time again. Amy and I learned this recipe from her and are indebted to her (in a calm, collected way).

      Note: These are very lemony; if your palate prefers a traditional profile, leave out the lemon juice and water bath (but do use the garlic).

Ingredients

a pot of boiling salted water

6 medium potatoes, scrubbed and unpeeled 
5 T olive oil
1 t sea salt

4 garlic cloves, smashed and chopped
the juice of one lemon (about 2 T worth) 
1/4 c water 

some sort of chopped green herb for garnish (optional)

Process

       Bring a pot of water to a boil and add some salt. Cut the potatoes lengthwise in half and then lengthwise in thirds again so that the potato is cut into six pieces. The uniformity of shape and size is important for even cooking and is a simple technique to get under your belt for the future.

      Preheat the oven to 400F. Add the potatoes to the boiling water for about 5 minutes -- this will create a starch coating around the outside which will bind to the oil and crisp up gloriously in the oven. Drain the potatoes totally and toss with 1 t salt and olive oil.

      In a pan or cast iron skillet large enough, arrange the potatoes in a single layer, cover with foil and it all in the oven. After about twenty minutes, remove the foil and let the potatoes keep cooking for about twenty five minutes more or until their undersides are crisping and beginning to brown.

      Pull the pan/skillet out of the oven and add the garlic, lemon juice and water. Gently fold the potatoes into the mixture so they are bathed in the liquid and place back in the oven for another 10 minutes.

      Remove from heat, place in a serving bowl and garnish with chopped herbs if you so wish. Serve alongside a green salad, grilled fish or meat or with a poached egg.

Yields: a side dish for 4
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 1 hour, mostly unattended

Writing by Adria Lee | Photography and Styling by Amy Pennington

Friday, August 1, 2014

Form and Function


      I'm wrapping up an accelerated anatomy and physiology (the study of form and function) class and my mind is stupefied by just how miraculous everything is inside of us. Sometimes my teacher will step back from his lecture after explaining some incredibly complex concept like the concentration gradients in the medulla of the kidneys, shrug, and say, "It's a wonder we all don't just go up in smoke."

      There's plenty I could say that could make a person impressed to the point of being unnerved with how perfectly delicate our systems are but instead I'll say that most of our mandatory functions boil down to one thing: protein*. Everywhere you turn in physiology, protein seems to be the leading lady -- in everything from the myosin and actin filaments in muscle contractions to ATP synthesis to the whole purpose of DNA. Since it's so important on the molecular level and since we're all in this together, let's celebrate protein in the tangible realm with something for everyone -- vegan, gluten-free or care-free.

       (* I also have to say that calcium is incredibly important, too. So is potassium and sodium. Okay, and oxygen and carbon, too.)

Maple and Smoked Chili Braised Tempeh

      A lot of people have asked me what to do with or how to make tempeh delicious. Here is the technique I learned from Peggy upon which many liberties with flavors can be taken depending on the palates involved. Tempeh is a flat, fillet-like piece of fermented soybeans and a terrific alternative to the non-fermented but popular tofu, with twice the amount of protein and fiber. It can be found in many health food stores in the refrigerated section.

Ingredients

1 hearty 8oz piece of plain tempeh, sliced (see instructions below)
3 T olive oil (or butter for the non-vegans)
1/2 t sea salt

1 or 2 chipotle peppers, minced
2 T maple syrup
2 T whole grain mustard
3 cloves of garlic, chopped
1/2 t sea salt
1 c water

minced purple onion and cilantro, for garnish (optional)

Process

      This slicing aspect is simply to increase the surface area for flavor saturation. Cut the tempeh in half. Place it on its cut edge and carefully slice the entire piece lenthwise, as though you're slicing a fillet. Do the same with the other piece. Finally, cut each fillet into 1" or 2" cubes (or whatever shape you want -- I like triangles).

      Mix the chipotle pepper, maple syrup, mustard, garlic, 1/2 t salt and water together. Set the mixture aside.

      Heat the oil or butter in a skillet over medium high heat and add the tempeh in a single layer (do it in batches if you need to). Sprinkle with 1/2 t sea salt and let fry for a few minutes. When the tempeh has browned on the skillet side, flip the pieces and fry again until browned.

      Add the chipotle and maple syrup mixture and reduce the flame to low. Cover the skillet and let the tempeh bathe in the braising liquids for 20 minutes, flipping once. If the liquid seems to be evaporating too quickly, add more water.

      When the liquid has reduced and is nearly gone, taste a piece of the tempeh and adjust the flavors if you'd like. Remove from heat and serve immediately alongside hot rice or quinoa or let cool and serve atop a tossed salad. Garnish with minced onion and cilantro.

Yields: tempeh for two
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 25 minutes

Writing by Adria Lee | Styling and Photography by Amy Pennington

Sunday, July 13, 2014

A Heady Time


      I'm chagrined to entertain the idea that this nook of my world has gone on the back burner over the past few months. It's been a heady (but lovely) time full of a big, big move to a wonderful new apartment, an accelerated anatomy and physiology class that has left me stunned, and perfect weekends away with dear friends celebrating love (read: weddings).

     In my not-very-often-still moments, I find myself propped on my right elbow, staring out the window at the way the breeze blows the leaves on the trees in a million directions. My mind is full (and I mean to the brim) of physiological principals that are loosely connecting themselves to the Eastern theories that I love. A lot of the time I feel like those leaves -- spinning and snagged in so many directions. It's a heady time, figuring out the next steps to take, which is probably just my excuse to eat more frozen yogurt to slow down my brain cells and to encourage you, in whatever corner of the world you're in, to do the same.

Wild Blackberry Frozen Yogurt
inspired by Amy Pennington

     Amy saw wild blackberries (also known as blackcaps) growing next to our house. It was her idea to make frozen yogurt and add them to it, so she deserves all the credit. Summer is the season of the Heart and Small Intestine in Chinese Medicine, so blood-building berries of all kinds are good to emphasize.

Ingredients

24 oz container of whole milk Greek yogurt
3/4 to 1 c cane sugar

1 c blackberries, smashed ("Git your hands in there and squeeze 'em good", she says.)

Process

      In a bowl, mix the yogurt with the sugar and let sit for about 10 minutes until the sugar dissolves. Taste and add more sugar if you want a sweeter experience. Combine the blackberries with the yogurt. Churn in your ice cream for about 30 minutes or until desired consistency is reached. Eat immediately and freeze any that remains.

      Because there's no corn syrup or alcohol involved (anti-freezing helpers), let the yogurt sit on the counter or in the fridge for a while before you eat it again.

Yields: frozen yogurt for 6
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook/churn time: 30 minutes

Writing by Adria Lee | Styling and Photography by Amy Pennington