Thursday, February 27, 2014

Chocolate rolls with peanut butter

Moving to my new place involved a lengthy and thorough eat-down (consumption of all things in the pantry, with shopping allowed only for fresh ingredients). Unfortunately this left me with no frozen bread at my finger tips when I was stuck at home and hungry one morning. I prepared a partially whole-wheat dough using 1 cup whole wheat flour, 1 cup white flour, 1 tbsp sugar, 1.5 tsp yeast and a quarter teaspoon of salt. After this rose, I rolled it out, brushed it with melted butter and sprinkled it with cocoa and sugar. 

Rolling it up like a jelly roll, I cut slices using a floss and placed them on their cut side. This was followed by pressing semi-sweet chocolate chips into the tops and allowing the rolls to rise again in a warm oven for 30 minutes.

After baking the rolls at 350F, I drizzled the top with peanut butter. My hunger was gone quickly after this breakfast.


A spicy Korean rice-dumpling dish perfect for a cold winter day. This is a non-traditional version, as I did not have access to all the proper ingredients. When visiting an Asian food market, be sure to pick up fish cakes and rice cakes for tteokbokki (these should be labeled and in the refrigerated section). You will also need some dried anchovies. I only had miniature ones, but you can substitute larger ones. Finally, the right type of Korean hot pepper paste is crucial. This will come in a red container with white labels.

4 cups water
1/3 cup small dried anchovies
1 pound cylindrical rice cakes
1 pound salmon
1 tsp Bay seasoning
0.25 tsp black pepper
0.25 tsp salt
1/3 cup Korean hot pepper paste
2 tbsp Sriracha
0.5 tsp pepper flakes
1 tbsp sugar
8 green onions cut into 1-inch pieces
1 yellow onion
Boil the anchovies in the water for 15 minutes. Drain and dispose of fish remains. Slice and caramelize the yellow onion.

Add hot pepper paste, sugar, and pepper flakes to sauce. Add in the rice sticks and scallions. Simmer until rice sticks are soft.

Meanwhile, process the salmon in a food processor into a paste. Add in Bay seasoning, black pepper and salt. Form into 1-inch balls and immerse into simmering sauce.

Add caramelized onions and Sriracha to sauce and cook with the fish balls until they are done (about 5-6 minutes) and sauce is thickened. 

Serve warm and fresh. This did not store well in my experience. The sauce draws the moisture out of the rice cakes and they become tough.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Green bean fritters

Have you ever located a year-old bag of desiccated, frozen green beans in your freezer? This recipe is the perfect way to use those, if you hate to throw away food as much as I do. Nothing terrible happens to well-stored, frozen veggies, apart from dehydration. So, go on, eat them.

5 oz frozen green beans
2 eggs
3 tbsp flour
0.25 tsp ground coriander
0.25 tsp cayenne
0.25 tsp cumin
0.25 tsp turmeric
0.25 tsp freshly-ground black pepper

Thaw the green beans and squeeze the water out. Pat down with paper towels. Add to a food processor and chop into small pieces (about three, one-second pulses).

Heat a large skillet sprayed with olive oil on medium-high heat.

Add the beans to a bowl and add the egg, flour and spices. Mix until blended and spices are evenly distributed.

Plop into hot skillet in 3-4 portions. Cook for 3-5 minutes, until golden brown. Flip and cook other side until brown.

Serve warm, with Sriracha hot sauce, or a mixture of yogurt and hot sauce.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Tahini salad dressing

This is more of an idea than a recipe. I picked up six medium jars of tahini from amazon. It's a package deal, but I feel like I have a lifetime tahini supply. Well, this may no longer be the case, as I found a new addition to my tahini recipes. Salad dressing!

cherry tomatoes
balsamic vinegar

Chop the arugula roughly and cut the tomatoes in half. Toss with balsamic vinegar and drizzle with tahini. Crumble Feta on top.

Herb dinner rolls

This is an easy way to create fresh, crusty rolls.

3 cups flour
1.5 tsp salt
1.5 tsp sugar
1.5 tsp yeast
2 tbsp minced fresh thyme
1.5 cup warm water

Mix all the dry ingredients. Add the water. Mix until all parts are moistened. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside in a warm place for an hour.

Generously butter a 12-cup muffin shape. Preheat the oven to 425F.

Distribute the batter into the muffin cups and allow to rise for another 30 minutes.

Bake for 15 minutes, then reduce the heat to 375F and bake for another 10 minutes. Cool on cookie racks.

Mediterranean panini

There were six years of my life when I never bought bread (or bread products). Not because I stopped eating it, but because I baked bread non stop. Nowadays I occasionally purchase a loaf out of laziness. But really, artisan bread is so much more expensive than the ingredients, and with the no-knead method, time is not really a factor. In any case, Klinger's bakery prepares delicious sourdough and roasted garlic breads, which proved to be very tasty for paninis. This Mediterranean panini was born due to lack of flatbread in my household. It turned out really well!

4 slices of artisan roasted garlic bread
1 roasted bell pepper
8 Kalamata olives
2 tbsp yellow onion
2 oz Jalapeno Jack cheese
2 oz Feta cheese
2 tsp Dijon mustard

Spread Dijon mustard onto the bread slices. Top two of the slices with diced, roasted pepper, chopped onion, halved olives, crumbled Feta and pepper jack.

Cover with the other slice of bread and toast until brown. Cool for 5 minutes, then slice in half and serve.

Avocado BLT

Bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwiches were something new to me when I came to the U.S. Not that we don't eat bacon in Eastern Europe. We just do it differently. A piece of meaty, smoked bacon, with an onion and a piece of bread was common lunch when working in the fields. Perhaps it is because of this that I always visited the salad bar with my BLT to add some red onion slices to my sandwich. It's just absolutely necessary. This version of the sandwich packs a punch even better than my adulterated ones did. The garlic is enough to chase away any vampire, and the flavor is well past the simple, traditional BLT's.

4 slices of whole-wheat bread
1 ripe avocado
2 medium cloves of garlic
1 cup of arugula
6 slices of thick-cut bacon
6 cherry tomatoes
1 tsp Sriracha

Crisp the bacon and remove onto paper towels.

Mash the avocado and add the Sriracha and garlic. Mix well. Spread onto the bread slices. Top with bacon.

Chop the arugula a little and add to the bread slices. Cut the tomatoes in half and place into the sandwich as well. Serve!

I tried this toasted, like a panini, but the avocado spread's flavor came through better when room temperature. The bacon should be warm though!

Coconut pumpkin soup

I've made a sweeter, less savory pumpkin soup in the past, but the coconuty addition to this makes an amazing, savory winter soup.

3 cans of pumpkin puree
1 tbsp butter
1 medium onion
1 cubic inch ginger root
2 cloves garlic
1 tbsp red curry paste
14.5 oz coconut milk

Melt the butter and add the chopped onion and thinly-sliced ginger. Saute for 5 minutes.

Add the minced garlic and cook for another minute. Add a liter of water, the curry paste, canned pumpkin and coconut milk. Bring to a boil and simmer for 10-15 minutes.

Season with salt and puree until silky smooth. Garnish with toasted pumpkin seeds.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Ham and cheese pockets

These made a perfect, filling, 500-calorie dinner. They were also relatively quick to prepare, as far as yeast-leavened doughs are concerned. The potato and the sour cream in the bread make these rolls moist and tender.

3 cups flour
2 medium Russet potatoes
2 tsp yeast
1 tsp sugar
2 tsp salt
0.75 cup sour cream
0.5 cup water
0.5 lb cooked, smoked ham
1 medium onion
4 oz cheddar cheese
1 egg
6 tbsp sour cream

Boil the potatoes and press them through a potato ricer. Mix with the flour, yeast, salt and sugar.

Add the sour cream and the water, the mixture should come together to a relatively sticky dough. Place into a lightly-oiled bowl, cover and allow to rise for 40 minutes in a warm place.

Dice the ham, sautee the onions with butter for 5 minutes, shred the cheese, beat the egg.

When the dough is risen, roll it out on a lightly-oiled surface to prevent sticking. Cut into eight rectangles.

Fill each rectangle with 1.5 tbsp sour cream, one eighth of the ham and onion. Fold over the other half and seal the edges. Place onto parchment-lined baking sheet.

Cut three slits onto the tops of each pocket. Brush with egg wash and stuff each slit with the shredded cheddar. Bake in a preheated 400F oven for 25-30 minutes. Cool on a cookie rack.

Hungarian oven-baked potatoes

This is a quick, buttery oven-baked version of gourmet mini potatoes. The insides are smooth and creamy, while the outsides are crispy and flavorful. What makes them Hungarian? The paprika, of course :-)

1 lb gourmet yellow potatoes
2 tbsp butter

Wash the potatoes and cut them in half length-wise. Place them flat-side-down onto a metal baking sheet lightly sprayed with oil.

Cut the upper part in deep, but not all the way through, in several places. Melt the butter and brush onto potatoes.

Preheat oven to 400F. Sprinkle potatoes with salt and paprika. Bake in preheated oven for 40 minutes.

Serve warm. It makes a delicious snack or a perfect side-dish.