Monthly Archives: August 2010

Green Bean, New Potato, Chickpea Salad @ Pizza Party

Morning sun, washed pots left drying on the countertop and a cohesive menu. Great day for dinner guests!

Saturday night we had dinner guests. Since I am pregnant and of Advanced Maternal Age and enjoying the feel of my sciatic nerve, I got started cooking early in the day. The kitchen was not in bad shape, despite all the family togetherness gathered around the countertop the night before. Just had to put away the washed pots and get cooking. With lemons squeezed the night before and my pizza dough resting in the fridge, preparation was a slow and methodical cake walk.

A personal highlight of the evening for me was the Green Bean, New Potato, Chickpea Salad. I’ll share the recipe below. But first, pictures.

Fresh picked tarragon from our garden. My tiny stalk of heaven.

What I was looking forward to all day: green bean, new potato, chickpea salad.

Dessert included melty good chocolate chip cookies, a very un-photogenic yet delicious in a healthy kind of way whole wheat and spelt peach galette, homemade pumpkin ice cream and drippy whipped cream. Okay, I blended the whipped cream instead of whipping.

Here is a pic of the pumpkin ice cream, shot earlier in the week. The pumpkin is from Radharadhya and Kiriti's garden, in Emmaus. They gave it to us on our travels and I was able to turn it into a very pumpkin pie tasting frozen yum!

He loves me...He loves me not. HE LOVES ME! My husband took the kids for a walk while I had some ADULT COOK time. My lovely son returned with these flowers for me. Mmmuh!

Fresh from the oven, the kids' pie--no basil, just sauce and cheese.

Awwwww yeah! Satchel's kiss my butt! This pizza was voted BEST IN GAINESVILLE! And I live in Alachua!

This pregnancy loves hot! Chili hot. In addition to pies with basil, I made artichoke heart and chili pies as well as mushroom and kalamata. There was also a delicious organic green salad and little plates of Spanish and kalamata olives and roasted red peppers. Nosh nosh.

Green Bean, New Potato, Chickpea Salad

Just a delight! This cooked and chilled salad feels light and picnic-y but need not be limited to summer. Very versatile, can be paired with all sorts of entrees or served as a main dish along with some soup and a crusty slice of sourdough.

Ingredients:

7 cups chopped new potatoes (I used red petites)

4 cups green beans–prepped into 2 inch lenghts

2 cups cooked chickpeas

*Put the potatoes in a baking dish and drizzle with olive oil. Roast in a pre-heated oven for 30 minutes. Remove from oven, cool and refrigerate.

*Boil a pot of water, toss in green beans to blanch for one minute. Remove beans and transfer to a bowl of cold water. Drain and refrigerate.

*Boil chickpeas in salted water until done. Rinse and remove skins. Refrigerate.

For the dressing:

1 cup lemon or lime juice *or* light colored vinegar (I prefer lime juice but used apple cider vinegar)

1 cup olive oil

1/2 cup maple syrup

1/3 cup dijon mustard

*1.5 tspn salt

1/4 to a 1/2 cup fresh tarragon leaves *or* 1 to 2 tablespoons of dried tarragon

*Combine dressing ingredients in a blender

*Combine salad ingredients and toss with dressing. Marinate in refrigerator a few hours before serving.

*Right before serving, mix in fresh parsley, if available.

*Top with course ground salt and black pepper and serve cold.

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Cooking With Kids

It's clobbering time!

My kitchen is an island galley and I love it. Long and narrow, it accomodates multiple cooks. The island maximizes work space by allowing cooks to spread out. This is really helpful when I find myself in the kitchen with my two little sous chefs, something that happens more and more these days.

I love being in the kitchen with my kids. It feels all homey and lovey and warm and good. Our biggest problems with the kids Is that they are happy. Pathologically so. Laughter, smiles—all in extremes. Their joy is contagious to a point. And then it just becomes…enough.

Not that I don’t want them to be happy. I do. I just want, you know, some quiet. Cooking requires thinking and I find absurd youthful happiness an impediment to that process.

Friday the children demanded that we make Chinese dumplings. We had success with our veg dumpling filled raviolis, but they wanted to get more authentic and use the bamboo steamer I picked up at Bed Bath & Beyond with my Discover Card Reward Points (courtesy of the kitchen remodel).

I had dumpling wrappers from the Asian market in my freezer, but the ingredients in them are a bit superfulous and, honestly, I found the smell unappetizing. Plus, I heart my pasta maker and knew that we three Mirels could do better than the frozen wraps that were grossing me out.

Flour. I chose organic bread flour with a high gluten content because I thought that would add a nice chew to the wrapper. I didn’t like it—tasted too endospermy to me. But the kids didn’t mind. They each had at least six in one sitting.  A great way to get spinach into them.

Venumadhava and Madhumati pretty much did everything, save for making the filling and mixing the dough. Okay. That sounds like  I did a lot, but  they were the key assemblers. Child labor rocks!

Vegetarian jiaozi filling: spinach, mushrooms, tofu, ginger.

Madhumati rolling the dough through the pasta maker.

We used the 4th setting because our favorite dumplings @ Yuan Fu are thick and doughy.

I need to get a slightly bigger cutter, but this one worked okay.

Each child was given a wad of dough to roll, cut, fill and pinch.

Next time...when I have "alone time"....I will bi-fold them and pinch. But this was an easier styling for the kids.

They loved arranging cabbage leaves in the steamer, setting their dumplings in it and stacking the baskets.

Our finished dumpling dinner!

But wait. There's more! After we ate the children assisted me *again* in the kitchen. Cleaning up? Ha ha ha. No. I needed lemons juiced for the next day's salad dressing so I let them play with our latest toy, courtesy of kitchen remodel reward points. And yes, my countertop is now etched. And no, it does not bother me one bit. Viva!

I candied the lemon peels. Not as great as when I made them last January since I only had brown sugar and sucanat (I used the brown). I need to get me some crystals soon. The kids wanted to cut the peel but this requires some nimble knife work. The kids love cutting. Damn Montessori education. Unfortunately, there is not a drop of Amish blood in my body so it worries me silly. My solution? Don't look!

Oops. Forgot to mention that we ran the leftover dough scraps through the pasta maker to make noodles...

...which we fried in coconut oil...

...admired them for their crisp bubbled golden crunch....

...and then continued to photograph like the crazed food obsessed person that I am. "Can we eat them now?" Ho-hum. "Yes you may."

Cooking with Kids: The Recipe

Due to the nature of working with kids, this recipe is rather ad hoc and can be adjusted depending on the kids you have on hand.

*Take lots of time. Now double it.

*The space requirement for this recipe is excessive, although you will find the children sticking to you regardless of room in the kitchen. Make sure you continue to spread them out, however keep checking on them to make sure they are on task and not eating the raw ingredients. Ahem, my daughter.

*Step stools, elbow room, spare dough and wet towels should all be on hand ready to go.

My hope is that having my kids in the kitchen with me will be something they look back on fondly as adults. The children really are more interested in what’s for dinner if they have a part in making it, although making it does take about 4 times as long. But hey, if you are a stay at home mom, what else do you have to do? Besides laundry.

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Mini Peach Galettes

Mmmm. These were good! Wouldn’t it be nice if I had a proper recipe for you? Sure it would, but that isn’t going to happen. I made these on the fly since I had an over ripe Georgia peach sitting on my table and a few ounces of cream cheese resting in my fridge.

The dough. ‘Twas 2-3 cups of organic white flour, approx. 2 tablespoons of softened butter and about a cup and a half of water. Mix mix mix and rest.

The filling. Possibly 6 ounces of cream cheese. About 1/4 cup of sugar. A wallop of arrowroot powder. Mix mix mix. One peach, chopped.

Dough was kneaded into a thick rope and cut into fours. Squash a four, roll into a disc, a few tablespoons cream cheese in the center, water around the edges and peach on top of the cream and pleat.

Into the oven, bake about 15 minutes somewhere between 375 and 400. Remove, cool, sprinkle with pixie dust and enjoy!

roll the dough into disk, drop 2 tablespoons cream cheese mixture in center

add chopped peach, pleat and seal

bake, cool, sprinkle with powdered sugar

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Happy 9th Anniversary to Us!

The Babu and I celebrated 9 years of legal marriage on the 15th!

I thought our anniversary was on a Monday and had a whole breakfast feast planned.

And then my mother called on Sunday afternoon to wish us a happy anniversary.

I was a day off.

So, I nixed the idea of serving the Babu leftovers for dinner and got cracking in the kitchen. Remember how I had to make pakoras without chickpea (besan) flour? Well, there I was, working on pasta with no semolina flour.

I felt really dumb. And stupid. And dumb for being that person who doesn’t know what day of the week it is. So, without much thinking or planning, I just started prepping. That doesn’t always work out very well for me but on this day, the clouds were raining and that suited me just fine!

I had planned to make cake, but on such short notice, cookies had to stand in.

I planned a breakfast menu for our anniversary, but I was off by a day. Upon discovering that we were actually experiencing our anniversary day, I got cooking. Here the vegan sausage is ready for steaming.

Vegan Sausaga & Peppers--the sausage is vegan, the ghee used to cook the peppers...not vegan.

I was going to make Chinese dumplings for dinner but then got all confused when I found out it was our anniversary. And I wanted to use my new ravioli rolling pin that came the day we were leaving for our trip. So, raviolis with dumpling filling. It worked.

The filling: spinach, shitake mushrooms, ginger and tofu. I normally don't cook with mushroom but in this case, I made an exception. I was following the basic outline of a recipe given to me on our travels at our favorite vegan Chinese restaurant, Yuan Fu in Rockville.

Next time I need to spread it a teeny bit thinner.

Ready to roll.

It worked!

raviolis drying

The finished raviolis. My son loved them (because he loves the dumplings at Yuan Fu). Between the palak paneer the the day or so before and these dumplings, I was a happy mama getting my kids to eat so much spinach!

Leftover pasta dough never goes to waste!

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Coming Home

It’s been a week since we returned from our ambitious trip north. We visited friends and fam, including my husband’s 98 year old grandmother. She’s doing well and my husband will probably live a very long life, but let me tell you, I don’t envy those genes. Ninety-eight is old, if you know what I mean.

The trip was hard for many reasons, some being that my kids just were sick of being cooped up in the car and, well, I am pregnant and the car was not very fun for me either. Poor poor husband! A huge hardship for me (oh, the drama!) was not being able to get a hot meal when I wanted/needed it. Road trips usually mean lots of snackity snacks but I just want to eat real meals.

So, when we got home in the afternoon, I headed straight to the kitchen. Well, first to the store to buy milk, then to the kitchen. Would have been better if I took some inventory before cooking, since I was missing a few key ingredients (besan), but I subbed and improvised and fried so really, no harm done.

Dinner Guests (my five year old set the table)

Dinner by request. Daughter's pick: palak paneer sabji and paneer pakoras w/bbq sauce. Son's pick: kicahri and chapatis (not shown). Husband's pick: yellow pepper pakoras.

The next day I buckled down and got into full on pregnant woman nesting mode. Everyone got their beds made with Rahu Brown new bedding, garbage bags were filled with cast offs for the thrift shop and the whole place got turned upside down. Unfortunately, I ran out of energy a few days into the project, so the house is still a mess and I am trying to save up energy to get this place together before this new baby comes out. Thankfully, I have about 5 more months to pull that off.

New bedding (well, we've had it for a year but never used it) from Ross Dress for Less.

Up north some really nice friends loaded me up with baby hand-me-downs. Thank you, Lavanga, Seva Priya and Kadamba! I had a great time sorting baby clothes and folding the cottony cuteness for new baby! Also, I raided my mother-in-law’s attic, where Mm’s and Vm’s baby stuff was stashed. Ahhh, looking through their clothes from the first few years of their life really was nostalgic and tear jerking for me. All I can say is baby Bindu is going to look adorable reusing her sister and brothers togs.

Baby Bindu's 0-3 month stuff all washed, folded and ready to go.

I have a few more posts worth of pics to upload. I am hesitant to do so because, truthfully, I am boring even myself. But just out of habit to keep me active and interacting, I am keeping up with this blog. Just forgive me if I kind of suck at the interacting part. Not feeling very energetic or social these pregnant hot Florida days. *Yawn*

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Sticky Fingers Bakery

downtown

Traveling is always difficult. We choose not  to eat in establishments that serve meat and often we just end up with fruit and yogurt and bread and cheese and, oh yeah, lots of baby carrots and crumbs on the floor of our car. Thankfully, traveling north often serves up a bit of supermarket fatigue as the urban areas tend to actually be urban and therefore have real vegetarian food spots.

Still, just because we may spend days noshing chips and grazing on grapes doesn’t mean we are totally desperate and without discrimination. Generally, I dislike most vegetarian restaurants. Especially restaurants that lack a concept–other than hippy international food. I can’t handle a menu of burrito, veggie burger and sushi all on the same printed card. Makes no sense to me.

But when we decided to head over to Sticky Fingers Bakery in the Columbia Heights section of DC, I had no idea the place was anything but a bakery. The selection of baked goods was small, however I have heard from a friend that they sell out quickly so our afternoon visit probably accounts for the slim pickings. I was really surprised, however, to discover a very lunchable menu at Sticky Fingers. And please to see that the menu made sense. Wraps, soups, salads. It wasn’t overly ambitious, sticky to made to order sandwiches and a ready to go case of stuff. And the prices were shockingly good–especially for an urban locale.

Yesterday we just bought some sweeties. It has become painfully obvious that the majority shareholders in my nuclear family are not a fan of the vegan cupcake. Sorry, PPK girls. However, the other stuff we had was solidly edible, with a rather high enjoyment quotient.

Today we went back to Sticky Fingers for lunch. Husband and I split a caesar wrap, which basically broke down to costing us $3.25 a piece, not that we don’t share bank accounts or anything. Kids got the vegan chicken nuggets made out of soy crap. They think eating that stuff is ultra-ironic and were hysterical laughing the whole time. Ha ha. We’re eating chicken nuggets. See? Isn’t that funny?

Another thing I like about Sticky Fingers is that it is a bakery/lunchy shop first. Vegan bakery/lunchy shop second. It does not have VEGAN emblazoned on it’s sign, although there are reassurances along the bottom of the window front that no dairy or eggs enter their kitchen. They do their thing well, vegan or not.

The bakery is in a post-MLK-murder-rioted-newly-gentrified neighborhood with a very cute splash fountain. Although we didn’t bring bathing suits, lots of wetness ensued our sugar treats.

sticky fingers bakery

vegan cakes

salad from the "ready to go" case

vegan chocolate cakes

vegan cupcakes

not just baked stuff--there is an entire chalkboard menu!

who needs a pdf menu when i have my camera on me

more menu

vegan raspberry cupcake--she didn't like it

vegan brownie--very popular with my family

please boy with sticky bun

avocado wrap--not ours but a fellow patron's who didn't mind us snapping his lunch

@ the splash fountain getting soaked

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Vegan Lemon Curd Recipe

sweet cherry pie topped with lemon curd

Super simple, this recipe is a great way to turn your sweet sour. No dairy, no eggs, just pure plant based pucker.

Ingredients:

Zest and juice from 6 large-ish lemons (not talking Meyers here)

1 to 1.5 c natural sugar (the darker you go with the sugar, the less pure yellow the color of the curd)

3 T arrowroot powder (corn starch, tapioca flour, etc make okay subs)

Pinch o’ salt

1/2 c H2O

Approx. 8 oz coconut milk (half a can, get the organic kind!)

Methodology:

1) Zest and squeeze those lemons! Make sure no seeds get into the mix. Put in pot.

2) Whisk in your sugar, arrowroot powder, salt, agua.

3) On medium heat, cook for about 15 minutes, stirring constantly. When mixture thickens and starts to pull from bottom of pan, add coconut milk.

4) Continue whisking on a low heat until mixture thickens up again.

5) Cool! The more it cools, the more it thickens.

*The picture above shows hot lemon curd. After a few hours cooling, the mixture was much more jammy.

* I used turbinado sugar, which definitely darkened it up a bit. If you are after purity of color, use evaporated sugar cane juice.

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