Sharpen those knives!

April 30, 2007 at 7:44 pm (Uncategorized)

I know this isn’t exactly a recipe, but I haven’t really been doing much cooking lately. My excuse? I just moved to another country and neither my kitchen equipment nor my cookbooks have arrived yet, nor have I managed to figure out where to shop for fresh organic produce.

So in the absence of a new recipe, I wanted to rave about Northwestern Cutlery in Chicago. I must confess that although I have both a sharpening stone and a diamond steel, I rarely use either one, mostly because I have never learned how to use them properly. In addition, sadly, there was no place to get knives professionally sharpened in Pittsburgh. As a result, my knives have been getting more dull and dangerous every year. In my short sojourn in Chicago I finally had a chance to remedy their edges.

I called around. Sur la Table was having a sale–get two knives for free and then each one after was about a dollar I think. But they said they used an electric sharpener and you had to leave the knives for 24 hours. Then I called Northwestern Cutlery–they have real (enormous) sharpening stones, and they’ll sharpen your knives why you wait, for not much more than Sur la Table. I coerced Derek into driving me downtown. It took the white-aproned guy about five minutes and he did a fabulous job. If I had time I would have gotten himto show me how to use my steel properly…next time. Also Northwestern Cutlery has a parking lot, which is convenient since it can be hard to park in the Fulton market district during the day. Finally, they’re around the corner from Sushi Wabi, so go get your knives sharpened then have an early healthy dinner of delicious avocado and shiitake rolls, and maybe some grilled asparagus with a miso sauce.

I have some time, but anyone know where to get knives sharpened in Montreal?

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Chocolate Chip Brownies, vegan

April 24, 2007 at 2:31 pm (A (4 stars, love), Brownies and bars, Dessert, Peter Berley, Quick weeknight recipe, Soymilk)

My mom came to visit and we made these vegan brownies together. I asked her to write up the blog entry for me:

They came out great with a crispy outside and chewy inside. The recipe originated from Peter Berley’s Modern Vegetarian Kitchen, but we made some adjustments before even starting.. We halved the recipe since we were making a new recipe and didn’t want to have too much of something we didn’t like. We left out the walnuts because we didn’t have any at 10pm and didn’t want to go to the store. And we used white flour instead of half whole wheat pastry flour again because we didn’t have any available. Here is the recipe.

  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup soymilk
  • 1.5 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup unbleached white flour
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 6 Tablespoons sugar
  • 1/4 cup Sucanat
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup semi/sweet chocolate chips
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly oil an 8 inch square pan.
  2. Put the oil, maple syrup , soy milk and vanilla in a medium bowl and whisk to combine.
  3. In a separate bowl whisk together the flour, cocoa, sugar, sucanat , baking powder and salt.
  4. Fold the dry ingredients into the wet mixture with a rubber spatula. Don’t overmix.
  5. Fold in the chocolate chips.
  6. Put the batter in the pan and spread it out evenly. Bake for 35 minutes.
  7. Do not overbake.
  8. Cool before cutting.

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Spicy roasted carrot spread

April 7, 2007 at 9:08 am (B_ (2 stars, okay), Crescent Dragonwagon, Starches, Vegetable dishes)

My friend Katrina made a recipe like this for my going away party, and I really liked it.  It was gingery, sweet and spicy and rich tasting without actually being very rich. Katrina said she didn’t use a recipe but based her dish loosely on the recipe in Crescent Dragonwagon’s Passionate Vegetarian.  The recipe is a little long, with lots of steps, but it makes a large amount, probably about 3 cups, or about 6 servings.  Notice that this recipe has to cool before serving, so make it ahead of time.

  • 1 pound (about 6 medium) carrots, unpeeled, stem end left on
  • 1 large red onion, unpeeled, quartered
  • 1 head garlic, unpeeled, cut in half crosswise
  • 2 Tbs. vegetable oil
  • 1 Tbs. soy sauce
  • 2 Tbs. finely minced peeled ginger
  • 2 tsp. curry spice blend (see below) or a good curry powder
  • 2 Tbs. honey
  • 1 Tbs. toasted sesame oil
  • pinch of cayenne
  • 1-4 Tbs. water or low-sodium vegetable stock
  • salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
  • minced cilantro (optional)
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Oil or spray with cooking spray a baking dish large enough to accommodate all the vegetables in a single layer.
  3. Bring a large pot of water to a boil.  Drop the carrots into the boiling water and blanch for 4 minutes for long, skinny carrots; 5 to 6 minutes for fatter ones.  Drain well.
  4. Place the carrots on the prepared baking dish along with the onion and garlic.  Toss the vegetables with 1 Tbs. of the oil, rubbing the oil into the vegetables a bit.  Drizzle with soy sauce and toss again.  Arrange so they’re cut side down.
  5. Bake until the carrots are soft–you should be able to pierce them easily with a fork at their thickest point–and quite bron here and there, especially on the edge touching the pan.  This will take about 40 minutes, longer if the carrots are fat.  Let cool.
  6. As the carrots bake, prepare the spice saute:  Heat the remaining Tbs. of oil over medium heat.  Add the ginger and saute for 2 minutes, then add the curry powder and saute, stirring constantly, for another 30 seconds.   Remove from the heat.
  7. When the carrots have finished baking, cut off the stem ends and remove the skin from the oinion.  Place the carrots and onion in a food processor.  Squeeze the garlic cloves out of the skins directly in the food processor, discarding any that are either still hard or deep brown.  Add the sauteed ginger-curry mixture, along with the honey, sesame oil, and cayenne.  Pulse.  The mixture will be a little dry and chunky, so begin adding the liquid, one Tbs. at a time.  Pulse until smooth.
  8. Let the spread mellow, covered, refrigerated, overnight, so the flavors can blend.  Remove from the refrigerator at least one hour before serving to bring to room temperature.  Garnish with minced cilantro.  Serve with bread, crackers, crudites, or pita chips.

My notes:

Dragonwagon’s curry spice blend is quite different than a typical commercial curry blend–it has tons of black pepper, and unusual ingredients like cloves and cardamom.  It’s much more intense and complex than typical curries, or as Derek puts it, “that’s pretty weird.”  I like it though–it actually reminds me quite a bit of the spice mixture that I use in the white bean pate recipe I like.  Overall, I liked this recipe quite a bit, although not quite as much as Katrina’s, and not as much as the white bean pate.  We had friends over for dinner and I think they liked it as well.  Derek wouldn’t eat it though.

Dragonwagon has another Morroccan version of this recipe.  Instead of the curry powder she uses 2 tsp. cumin, 2 tsp. paprika.  She says to turn it into a dip rather than a spread add 1/2 to 1 cup liquid, ideally 1/4 cup carrot juice and 1/4 cup olive oil.  Or for a more mild dip, add yogurt or reduced fat sour cream.

I particularly like this dip with radishes.  I also tried it with green beans–not quite as yummy.  It would probably make a nice Passover spread for matzoh. A friend suggested adding a bit of cream and turning it into a pasta sauce.  Katrina thought if we added more vegetable broth it would make a nice soup.  If you have other serving suggestions, please post a comment.

I’ll add the curry recipe when I get a chance.

Rating: B

Curry Spice Blend

  1. 1 Tbs. coarsely ground fresh black pepper
  2. 2 tsp. ground cumin
  3. 1.5 tsp. dry mustard
  4. 1.5 tsp. good quality curry powder
  5. .75 tsp. ground cardamom
  6. .75 tsp. ground corinader
  7. 1/2 tsp. ground mace
  8. 1/2 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
  9. 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  10. 1/2 tsp. ground cloves
  11. 1/4 tsp cayenne

Combine all the ingredients and store in a tightly covered jar.  If stored in a dark, cool, place, this blend will keep for about a year. Makes almost 4 Tablespoons.

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