Indian Split Pea and Butternut Squash Soup

November 30, 2006 at 6:32 am (Beans, B_minus (2.5 stars), Indian, Quick weeknight recipe, soup)

The turmeric, split peas, and butternut squash make this soup a beautiful bright yellow color, and it’s quite nutritions as well.  The Indian flavoring goes really well with the squash and split peas.  I used to make this soup in college when I lived in the co-op, but I no longer remember where I got this recipe from. If anyone knows the source please let me know.

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Cabbage greens with pasta

November 27, 2006 at 8:12 pm (Beans, B_minus (2.5 stars), Cruciferous rich, My brain, Pasta, Quick weeknight recipe, Starches, Vegetable dishes)

At the last farmer’s market of the year Rick offered me some “cabbage leaves.” He said after he harvests the main cabbage the plants develop loose little heads below the cut–sort of a mini, loose cabbage. He sold me a huge bag of them, which I cooked up and had in the fridge all week. I’ve been enjoying the pre-cooked cabbage greens in this dish.

  • whole wheat penne pasta, 2 ounces measured dry, 4 ounces measured cooked
  • 1.5 cups steamed or boiled cabbage leaves
  • 1 Tbs. reduced sodium soy sauce
  • 1 heaping Tbs. nutritional yeast
  • 1 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1/2 cup cannellini beans, rinsed well (optional)

This is obviously another variant of beans and greens, but it’s a simple one since no pan is required once the greens are cooked–just mix and serve. It has a mild but rich and savory gravy from the yeast and oil and soy sauce. Plus by using raw olive oil the omega-3 fatty acids are not destroyed. I also tried using the oil to saute some onions, but the fruity olive flavor disappeared, and the dish didn’t taste as rich. I tried bumping up the seasonings by adding garlic powder and paprika, but it again drowned out the subtle but delicious yeast gravy flavor. The simplest combination is the best I think.

Rating: B

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Tofu pumpkin pudding

November 25, 2006 at 6:51 am (B_(3 stars, like), Dessert, Mom’s recipes, Pudding, Silken tofu)

When I was a kid I used to love my mom’s tofu pudding.  My favorite flavors were chocolate and pumpkin (but not together).  Sometimes she’d make a pie by pouring the pudding into a pie crust and then baking it, but more often we’d just eat it as a pudding, sans crust. Read the rest of this entry »

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Barbecued Tempeh

November 19, 2006 at 6:42 am (B plus (3.5 stars, like a lot), Derek's faves, Peter Berley, Quick weeknight recipe, Tempeh)

This recipe makes an excellent sandwich filling, that is savory and just a bit spicy. However, don’t expect a traditional barbecue sauce. It’s based on a recipe in the Modern Vegetarian Kitchen by Peter Berley.

Makes 8 servings (each serving is a 1/4 block of tempeh). As a main dish, 2 servings might be more appropriate.


  • 1 pound tempeh (2 8-ounce packages)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tsp. chipotle powder
  • 2 tsp. cumin powder
  • 1 tsp. paprika
  • 1 tsp. thyme leaves, dried


  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Pour all the ingredients except the tempeh in an 8×11 baking pan, and mix well.
  3. Slice each block in half crosswise. Then very carefully slice through the width of each rectangle to make the pieces thinner. The resulting pieces should be about 4in x 5in x .25in (check this!). If you’re not going to use these for sandwiches, you can cut them into smaller finger sized pieces.
  4. Place the tempeh pieces into the baking pan, and tilt the pan to coat the tops of all the pieces. Ideally the tempeh will form a single layer and will be covered by the marinade.
  5. Put the pan in the oven, uncovered, and bake for about 45 minutes, or until most of the liquid has evaporated, and just left a sticky but slightly wet goo. You may want to flip the tempeh halfway through if the top is getting dry.

My Notes

We often don’t have the thyme leaves, and it doesn’t taste any different. I think to taste the thyme we might need to double the amount. This recipe calls for 1/2 the oil and soy sauce, and 3/4 of the maple syrup of the original recipe, but I think it’s plenty rich, salty, and sweet. I might even experiment with reducing the oil a bit more. I also eliminated the bowl used to mix the sauce–why dirty another bowl when you can mix it just fine in the baking pan? I love it on Ezekiel bread with a bit of soy mayonnaise and topped with sauerkraut. Add a side of vegetables or fruit and it makes a filling and delicious lunch.

Update Feb 2007: I used 3 blocks (1.5 pounds) of tempeh rather than two, but kept the oil, soy sauce, and maple syrup amounts the same. I multiplied all the other ingredients by 1.5. The tempeh didn’t really fit in the 8×11 baking pan–if I make 3 blocks again I will use a 9×13 pan instead. The tempeh turned out pretty well. Both Derek and I thought it was plenty sweet and plenty rich, but I (but not Derek!) thought it could possibly be a tad saltier. It really didn’t take that long to cook. I flipped it after 15 or 20 minutes, and after another 15 minutes it was pretty much done. With the modifications, each 1/4 block has about 167 calories.

Rating: B+

Derek: A-

Serving Size: 1/4 block

Amount Per Serving
Calories 197
Total Fat 12g
Saturated Fat 1.7g
Cholesterol 0mg
Sodium 369mg
Carbohydrate 17.9g
Dietary Fiber 7.4g
Sugars 6.9g
Protein 12.2g
Vitamin A 7% Vitamin C 1%
Calcium 9% Iron 16%

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Waldorf Slaw

November 17, 2006 at 6:50 pm (C (2 stars, okay, edible), Cruciferous rich, Quick weeknight recipe, Salads, Website / blog)

This recipe got 5 stars by two individuals on the Cooking Light website.

2 cups chopped Braeburn, or other crisp apple (about 1 large apple)
1 cup chopped peeled Bartlett pear (about 1 pear)
1/2 cup raisins
3 tablespoons chopped walnuts
1 (16-ounce) package cabbage-and-carrot coleslaw
1/2 cup low-fat mayonnaise
1/2 cup low-fat buttermilk
1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Combine first 5 ingredients in a large bowl.Combine mayonnaise, buttermilk, rind, juice, salt, and pepper, stirring well with a whisk. Drizzle mayonnaise mixture over cabbage mixture, and toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate 30 minutes.
Yield: 10 cups (serving size: 1 cup), About 100 calories per cup.

My Notes

The dressing did not taste quite like I expected–neither very creamy nor very tangy. It’s not bad, but a bit bland perhaps. I think it could use more lemon juice and maybe a little apple cider to make it taste a bit more like my Last Supper Salad dressing. The raisins and nuts are sparse, but when you get one it’s a pleasant, sweet surprise. I added a bit of cinnamon to this recipe, which makes it less waldorf slaw like and more apple salad like, but helps add a bit of flavor. Overall, not a bad recipe, but not great either.

Oops, I I think it’s possible that I mistakenly used low fat sour cream instead of mayonnaise?

Rating: B-

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June’s Bran Muffins

November 14, 2006 at 6:36 pm (B plus (3.5 stars, like a lot), breakfast, Dessert, From a friend, Muffins and quick breads, Quick weeknight recipe)

This bran muffin recipe is rich, dense, and filling. It’s from my friend June, and all the notes below are hers.

The basic bran mix is a “refrigerator” muffin mix, given to my mom by a dear friend years ago. You can bake off what you want. It’ll keep in the fridge for about 2 weeks, and lends itself easily to different added ingredients, which keeps it interesting. Also the muffins freeze beautifully once baked. I use all organic ingredients, except the buttermilk, as I haven’t been able to find that organic yet.

Make 26-27 muffins

Dry Ingredients:
3 cups bran (I usually do 1.5 raw wheat bran and 1.5 oat bran)
.25 cup wheat germ
1 t. salt
1 cup white flour
1 cup wheat flour
1/2 c. soy flour
2.5 t. baking soda

Wet Ingredients:
2 eggs
2 cups buttermilk
1 cup honey
.5 cup blackstrap molasses
.5 cup oil

Optional (barely): 1 cup raisins (I always put these in unless I know I am going to want to make the banana variety, in which I don’t like the raisins. If I am going to make the banana muffins, I take that batter out, set it aside and add the appropriate amount of raisins to the remainder)

Mix the dry together with a whisk. Mix the wet ingredients together. Mix the wet and dry ingredients together until combined.

Portion size = 2.5 oz batter per muffin

Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes.


Zucchini Muffins
22oz bran muffin mixture (with raisins…mmm)
8 oz shredded zucchini
1.5 t. dried lemon peel

This zucchini version yields a much lighter, moister, and less sweet muffin, but still pretty satisfying.

Carrot Cake Muffins
22oz bran muffin mixture (again raisins…mmmmmmm)
8oz shredded carrot
1 t. cinnamon
Pearl sugar or any coarse sugar to sprinkle on top before baking. Cinnamon sugar works too.

Banana Walnut Muffins
22 oz bran muffin mixture
8oz banana
1/2 to 1 cup walnuts (I really like walnuts…)

Notes: Don’t be afraid to experiement. If you want more banana go for it, just remove another ounce or two of muffin mix and add in some more banana. This batter is pretty darn forgiving.

My Notes:

These muffins turned out larger than the AMA recipe I’ve used before. They’re slightly less salty (a good thing) and slightly sweeter tasting. They’re also much more substantial seeming and more filling, which is great, but I don’t understand it because the stats are pretty similiar (see below). I will make these again, and I might consider adding some ginger or other spice as well. A tip: measure the oil first in a 1/2 cup measure, then use that cup to dole out the molasses and honey.

Rating: B+

These muffins:


The AMA muffins I posted before:


The major difference is that this recipe has slightly more bran, plus has wheat germ and soy flour, and double the honey. Finally, it uses all baking soda (no powder).

I improvised a version of these muffins, but they came out way too wet, and the flavor is a bit muddy.  I think I had too much liquid, and I didn’t cook them long enough.  They dried out a bit after sitting overnight, and despite their weaknesses they still called to me.  Derek couldn’t stand them though.

  • 1.25 cups bran (should have stuck with 1.5 cups)
  • 1/8 cup wheat germ (I’d omit this next time)
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 cup white flour (should have used 3/4 cup)
  • 1/2 cup wheat flour (should have used 3/4 cup)
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda (I’d increase this to 2 tsp.)
  • 2 tsp. baking powder (I’d decrease this to 1/2 tsp.)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup pomegranate molasses
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 4 ounces grated carrot
  • 4 ounces chopped apple (with peel)
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 2 tsp. ginger

Here are three recipes from Cook’s Illustrated (I have no idea why they thought they needed 3 different recipes–isn’t their philosophy that there exists one perfect recipe for every dish?).  They say too much bran produces a dry, crumbly muffin, too little and you don’t really have a bran muffin anymore.  The right proportion of bran to flour turned out to be 1 to 1. Because these muffins can easily overcook, baking time is also crucial. If a few moist crumbs cling to a toothpick withdrawn from the center of a muffin, they’re done.

Makes about 20 muffins

2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour plus 2 tablespoons, (see illustrations below)
4 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 tablespoon baking powder
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon table salt
3/4 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons honey
1/4 cup molasses
1 cup light brown sugar plus 2 tablespoons, packed firm
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 teaspoon maple extract
1 1/2 teaspoons butter extract (or flavoring)
3 large eggs , lightly beaten
2 cups buttermilk
1 cup toasted wheat germ
1 cup wheat bran (not the cereal)
1/2 cup whole dates ,plumped with scalding water, drained, and coarsely chopped
1 cup dark raisins , plumped with scalding water and drained

And a second one, makes 12 muffins:

1 1/4 cups  bleached all-purpose flour
1/4 cup  whole wheat flour
1 1/4 teaspoons  baking powder
1/2 teaspoon  baking soda
3/4 teaspoon  table salt
1 1/4 teaspoons  ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon  ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon  fresh grated nutmeg
7 tablespoons  unsalted butter , softened
1/2 cup  dark brown sugar plus 2 additional tablespoons
2 large eggs
2 1/2 teaspoons  vanilla extract
3 tablespoons  unsulphured molasses
1/4 cup  sour cream
1 cup  buttermilk plus 3 additional tablespoons
1 1/2 cups  wheat bran
1 cup  raisins

And the most recent recipe, makes 12 muffins:

1 cup raisins
1 tsp. water for plumping the raisins
5 ounces All-Bran Original cereal
1 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (6 1/4 ounces)
1/2 cup whole wheat flour (2 1/2 ounces),
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
2/3 cup packed light brown sugar (4 2/3 ounces)
3 tablespoons mild molasses (or light)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
6 tablespoons unsalted butter (3/4 stick), melted and cooled
1 3/4 cups plain whole-milk yogurt

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Mock Turkey Salad

November 12, 2006 at 6:26 pm (B plus (3.5 stars, like a lot), Derek's faves, frozen tofu, Mom’s recipes, Tofu)

Derek suggested that we serve this tofu ‘salad’ at Thanksgiving. I call it mock turkey salad because it has poultry seasoning in it. My mom calls it mock chicken salad. Whatever you call it, it’s tasty, but pretty calorie dense. The recipe is from my mom.

The night before (or at least six hours beforehand) defrost:

  • 2 one-pound blocks of tofu, which have been frozen for at least 24 hours

Preheat the oven to 350.  Oil a cookie sheet with 1 Tbs. of olive oil.  Mix together in a very large bowl:

  • 2 Tbs. vinegar
  • 4 Tbs. smooth, natural peanut butter  (you can cut this down to 2 Tbs. if you want less PB flavor)
  • 1/4 cup tomato sauce
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 Tbs. + 2 tsp. poultry seasoning, or add the individual components:
    • 2 tsp. rubbed sage
    • 1 tsp. dried thyme
    • 1 tsp. dried marjoram
    • 1 tsp. dried savory
    • 1/6 teaspoon ground black pepper
    • Pinch of cloves

Squeeze the water out of the tofu, and cut into long, thin pieces.  I cut each block into halves, cross-wise, then cut each half a block into 16 strips.  Add the tofu slices to the marinade, and very gently use your hands to squeeze in the mixture evenly, without breaking up the tofu pieces too much. Some of hte pieces will fall apart.  That’s okay.  Spread the tofu evenly on the oiled cookie sheet and bake for 20-30 minutes, flipping the tofu halfway through.  Watch the tofu carefully.  You don’t want the tofu to brown too much, or it will come out hard rather than chewy.  The cooked tofu should be crisp on the outside, but still moist on the inside.  The amount of time will depend on whether your cookie sheet is dark or light and on how large your tofu strips are.

While the tofu is cooking, make the vegan mayonnaise.  Use a stick blender to blend together:

  • 4 ounces firm silken tofu or medium-firm cotton tofu
  • 1 Tbs. oil
  • 1/2 Tbs. lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp. sweetener (sugar, honey, maple syrup, agave, etc.)
  • 3/4 tsp. mustard
  • 1 Tbs. apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 tsp. salt

When the baked tofu is done, add it back to the bowl you mixed the marinade in, let it cool a bit, and then add:

  • 1/2 cup vegan mayonnaise (from one recipe above, or slightly less than one recipe?)
  • 4 Tbs. fresh chopped parsley (or 2 Tbs. dried)
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped celery (50 grams)
  • 1/2 cup grated carrots (55 grams)
  • 1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper (75 grams)
  • other raw veggies of your choice (radishes, fennel, chives, scallions, etc.) [optional]

My Notes:

I used nasoya firm tofu. I’m not sure if it hadn’t been in the freezer long enough or what, but it didn’t hold together very well, and the pores seemed awfully small. I baked my tofu for 30 minutes at 375, and some of it got too brown and hard. I think this recipe works better if the tofu stays softer and chewier, so I reduced the temperature to 350. Rather than use the mayo recipe above, I used the simpler one I posted in a previous mayo thread. I think that was a mistake. This one is a bit sweeter and has lemon juice and mustard, which goes better with the saltiness of the tofu I think.

I gave some to a friend recently and she went back for seconds, so she must have liked it.

Rating: B+
Derek: A

Without any extra (optional) veggies, this recipe makes about 6 cups. It has about 250 calories per cup.  It has 54% of calories from fat, 32% from protein, and 14% from carbs.

Update April 1, 2012:

I made this last night but I used 3 pounds of tofu.  I multiplied all the marinade ingredients by 1.5 except the peanut butter, which I left at 2 Tbs.  I baked the tofu in two batches (with 2 Tbs. olive oil) at 350 for about 13 minutes on the first side and 10 on the second side.  I probably could have used only 2 tsp. of olive oil per batch. I made the soy mayo as written and used all of it in the salad.  I doubled, tripled, or quadrupled the veggie amounts:

  • 1 cup chopped fresh parsley, packed a bit (60g)
  • 1 cup chopped celery, from two large stalks (107 grams)
  • 1 cup julienned carrots from one medium carrot (107 grams)
  • 1.5 cups chopped red bell pepper (183 grams)
  • 1/2 cup chopped fennel (49 grams)

The mock turkey salad turned out quite well.  I thought it could use a little scallion or chive or radish or something onion-y, but otherwise the balance of tofu to dressing to veggies seemed good.  Next time I might add a bit more celery and something with a little bite.  But otherwise it came out well.  Derek didn’t notice that I used more veggies than last time.  He said it was delicious.

It made about 9 servings and each serving has 248 calories, with 55.5% from fat, 28.6% from protein, and 16% from carbs.  I served the salad with rice and a Thai butternut squash soup.

Update December 12, 2009:
Derek made this last night and it came out quite well.  The tofu cooked in about 20 minutes though.  It would have been overdone after 30 minutes.  A few of the larger strips of tofu that didn’t get broken up ended up a little dry and tough.  The smaller pieces had more surface area and so were moister from the soy mayo.  I thought it also could have used a little more celery and a little less peanut butter.  (Derek used 3 3/4 Tbs. peanut butter.)  The salad was good warm the night we made it, and also cold right out of the fridge the next day.

Serving Size: 1 cup
Amount Per Serving
Calories 248
Total Fat 15.3g
Saturated Fat 2g
Trans Fat 0g
Cholesterol 0mg
Sodium 505mg
Carbohydrate 8.9g
Dietary Fiber 1.8g
Sugars 3.5g
Protein 20.2g
Vitamin A 64% Vitamin C 60%
Calcium    34% Iron 19%

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Ode to Grapefruit

November 11, 2006 at 7:55 pm (Uncategorized)

I woke up this morning and the first thought to enter my mind was that grapefruit is woefully underappreciated, and I needed to help remedy this situation by offering rhapsodic praise to this most perfect of all fruits. I searched for “ode to grapefruit” on google and was surprised to find that others have already composed such an ode, such as the one from this site:

O, Noble Sphere of Lustrous Yellow,
Sparking Thoughts both mild and Mellow
of tangy taste and dizzy haste
to stuff my face and wipe the trace
of juice that squirted up my nose;
Of all the citrus fruits serene,
Orange, Lime, and Tangerine,
the One to Beat (O Noble Fellow)
Is the One that’s Large and Yellow.

RMC July 1992, erroneously attributed then to E. Fruitbat of the Texas Grapefruit Growers’ Association.

I thoroughly enjoyed this poem, but must dispute the final two lines. Clearly there has been a typographical error, and it should read “the One to Beat (O Regal Buddy) / Is the One that’s Large and Ruddy.” Oh, and the first two lines as well should probably have red: “O, Noble Sphere of Lustrous Scarlet / Sparking Thoughts both Virgin and Harlot”.

Grapefruit even provoked a young, stuttering and therefore almost completely silent James Earl Jones to find his voice again. So, among grapefruit’s other achievements, without this remarkable fruit clearly star wars could never have been.

Despite all the grapefruit genuflecting, I felt like nothing on the internet quite conveyed my own perspective, so I sat down to write one more ode to grapefruit:

Twenty-seven ruby grapefruits fill my fridgerator.
Certain proof at last of an intelligent creator.

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Product review: energy bars

November 11, 2006 at 7:51 am (Product Reviews)

Odwalla chocolate chip peanut: one of my favorites. I love the flavor and the texture is good as well. A bit high in sugar (14g) and calories (250), but has 8g of protein and is pretty filling. Doesn’t contain soy isolate, just soy nuts! Rating: A-

Luna key lime pie: the lime has that metallic taste that I always get if I leave a squeezed half of lime sitting in a glass of water overnight. The bar in general seems insubstantial, and sugary, especially the white coating. Lots of protein, but not so much fiber. Lots of vitamin and minerals added. Only 180 calories, which is lower than most bars. Rating: C

Optimum Cranberry, Ginger, and Soy: This bar tastes a lot like the optimum cereal with ginger.  The ginger flavor (plus cloves and cinnamon) is quite nice, and just a bit spicy even.  It’s quite high in sugar though (21g), and contains soy protein concentrate.  Although it doesn’t have nutrients added, it is quite high in calcium (25%) and iron (15%).  With 5g of fiber, 6g of protein, and 3g of (unsaturated) fat the nutrient balance isn’t too bad either.  Rating: B

Lara cinnamon bar: This is one of my favorite lara bars.  It’s very tasty, but unfortunately I don’t really find any of the lara bars too filling.  I consider them more like dessert.   This one has 210 calories, 20g of sugar, and 4g each of protein and fibe, plus 12g of fat from nuts.  Rating: B

Kashi TLC Trail Mix granola bars:  Kashi TLC bars are much closer to traditional granola bars I ate when I was a kid.  The taste isn’t bad and I quite like the texture–lots of hard crunchy things stuck together with a sticky, gooey sweet substance.  These bars are much smaller than most others I’ve tried: only 140 calories,  with 5g of fat, 6g of protein, and 4g of fiber.  The vitamin and mineral content is quite low, but so are the sugars (6g).  They contain soy protein isolate.  They come in a box with maybe 8 or so bars, and so end up being quite a bit cheaper than the ones you buy individually.  Rating: B-

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Kale and Tahini Sauce

November 11, 2006 at 7:29 am (C (2 stars, okay, edible), Cruciferous rich, Dark leafy greens, Other, Quick weeknight recipe, Sauce/dressing, Vegetable dishes)

This is an update of a post from 2006.  Kale season is finally here in Germany, and I bought a huge bag of curly kale last weekend.  I steamed it (without salt) and served it with a homemade tahini sauce.  Everyone seemed to enjoy it.  The kale stayed bright green without being tough, and the tahini sauce complemented it very well.  Even though the kale wasn’t salted, the tahini sauce was salty so the whole dish tasted balanced. Read the rest of this entry »

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Pasta with spinach, white beans, and red peppers

November 10, 2006 at 7:50 pm (Beans, Beans and greens, F (0 stars, inedible), Pasta, Quick weeknight recipe, Starches, Website / blog)

I was looking for a recipe with spinach and red peppers, both of which I have oodles of, and I found this recipe online. It looked suspiciously like one of those “easy but tasteless” recipes, but I figured I had enough produce to spare I could take the chance.

  • 4 ounces whole wheat pasta, measured dry
  • 1 cup raw spinach
  • 1 cup red bell peppers diced
  • 1 Tbs. olive oil
  • 2 Tbs. tomato paste
  • 2 Tbs. parmesan cheese grated
  • 2/3 cup cooked white beans

1. boil water & pasta
2. in pan toss all other ingredients with a little pasta water
3. spice with hot peppers flakes, cumin, oregano, or saffron

The dish looked very pretty–it had that pale red color of typical cream-based red sauces, or maybe a pimento-based sauce. But the mouthfeel was bad: the sauce tasted powdery for some reason? I used canned beans, and rinsed them well, but they were very mealy tasting. Blech. Also, I didn’t think it had nearly enough spinach. I added more oregano and pepper flakes to spice it up and now it’s certainly not bland, but still somewhat unappetizing to me. I took the second half for lunch today and I ate most of it but I really didn’t enjoy it.

Rating: D

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Better Chocolate Flavor in Desserts

November 8, 2006 at 4:37 pm (Cook's Illustrated, Food Science)

Cook’s Illustrated reports that for the best chocolate flavor in desserts you should make a “pudding” by cooking cocoa powder with water, fat, and sugar, rather than mixing the cocoa powder into the dry ingredients. They say that “adding hot water to cocoa solids before incorporating them into the recipe causes a ‘blooming’ effect, enhancing the chocolate flavor in the final dish.” But adding sugar and fat increases this effect. This is because the sugar molecules bind more tightly to the water molecules, and the cocoa solids from the cocoa powder dissolve in the fat, which is a better carrier for cocoa flavor than water.

The specific instructions for making the “pudding” for a chocolate cake or other dessert:

Combine 4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, 1/4 cup cocoa powder, and 1/2 cup hot water in medium heatproof bowl; set bowl over saucepan containing 1 inch of simmering water and stir with rubber spatula until chocolate is melted, about 2 minutes. Add 1/2 cup sugar to chocolate mixture and stir until thick and glossy, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove bowl from heat and set aside to cool.

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