Moroccan Spiced Millet and Lentil Salad

February 9, 2019 at 10:08 pm (B plus (3 stars, like a lot), Beans, Instant Pot, Middle East / N. Africa, Salads, Website / blog) ()

A friend suggested I try this Vegetarian Times recipe for a Moroccan Spiced Millet and Lentil Salad, but I was nervous about making it since Derek normally hates millet. I will never forget the time he took a bite of millet and then made a terrible, disgusted grimace “What have you done to the rice?” he asked. “This is the worst rice ever!”

So I waited until he was out of town this summer and then I invited my friend over to make it with me. We made a somewhat deconstructed version of the salad, and other than the fact that I totally overcooked the millet, everyone enjoyed it. Alma (at 3.5) also really liked it. Finally last weekend I got up the nerve to make it for Derek and he liked it as well. He didn’t even complain about the fact that I was serving him birdseed for dinner. Score! Read the rest of this entry »

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Instant Pot Refried Beans

June 28, 2018 at 10:32 pm (Alma's faves, B plus (3 stars, like a lot), Beans, Instant Pot, Mexican & S. American, Monthly menu plan, Website / blog) ()

I used to make refried beans on the stovetop, but now that I’ve gotten an Instant Pot I wanted to figure out how to make them in the electric pressure cooker instead. I started with this recipe for creamy-dreamy pinto beans from Julie and Kittee, but I changed a few things.

First of all, if I’m going to the trouble of making refries I’m going to want to use more than 2 cups of dry pintos! I figured the maximum that would fit in my 6-quart Instant Pot would be 4 cups, so I doubled the recipe. Also, I wanted to take out some of the beans as whole beans before making refries, so I soaked my beans overnight and reduced the cooking time, so that the beans would come out soft but not falling apart. Then I tweaked the seasoning a bit. Below is my modified recipe.

These days I usually serve my refries with salsa and homemade plantain chips. Alma, at 3.5 years, is a big fan. I’ll try to add a post about how I make the plantain chips next. Read the rest of this entry »

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Amaranth porridge with blueberry sauce

May 27, 2018 at 11:24 pm (Alma's faves, B plus (3 stars, like a lot), breakfast, Fall recipes, Grains, Monthly menu plan, Spring recipes, Website / blog, Winter recipes) ()

About once a month I make this recipe from Naturally Ella for Blueberries ‘n’ Cream Amaranth Porridge. Derek won’t eat it, but Alma and I like it a lot. Amaranth has a somewhat odd sticky, grainy texture, but the addition of the creamy blueberry sauce helps transform it into more of a traditional tasting breakfast porridge.

I usually make it on the weekend, since it takes about 30 minutes to make. I always make extra amaranth and freeze it for a quick mid-week breakfast. Here’s how I cook the amaranth.

In a 2-quart pot, soak 1.5 cups of amaranth overnight. In the morning, drain the amaranth, and return it to the pot with 3 cups of water and three pinches of salt. Bring the amaranth to a boil, turn the heat as low as it will go, and reduce to a simmer. Cover and let simmer for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and let sit for 10 more minutes. Stir to mix in the extra water on the top of the amaranth.

Alternately, I’ve had success making amaranth in my instant pot electric pressure cooker. Lasttime I tried 1 cup of amaranth with 2 cups of water on high pressure for 3 minutes + natural release. It came out well, although it was sitting on keep warm for about an hour. Alma and I ate more than 2/3 of it for breakfast, so next time I’d try 2 cups of amaranth with 3.75 cups of water for 3 minutes + NR. I’m also curious to try a pot-in-pot method, so I don’t have to clean the large insert, but I suspect the cooking time will go up.

To make the blueberry sauce I follow the original recipe but cut the maple syrup down a tad and use vanilla extract instead of a vanilla bean:

  • 1 cup blueberries (I always use frozen, I wouldn’t waste fresh in this dish!)
  • 2 tsp. maple syrup (or 1 ripe pear, see note below)
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons heavy cream (I haven’t tried coconut milk yet)
  • pinch of salt

Note: I’ve also left the maple syrup out and added a ripe pear to the sauce. Once I just finely diced it (with skin on) and let it simmer with the blueberries. Another time I had a bunch of overripe pears and I cooked them into pear puree first (simmering them then pureeing them with my stick blender). I then used the puree in the blueberry sauce. Alma and I enjoyed both versions.

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Banana Oat Nut Pancakes

May 27, 2018 at 11:13 pm (A (4 stars, love), Alma's faves, breakfast, Derek's faves, Monthly menu plan, Website / blog) ()

We have tried a lot of banana pancake recipes. This recipe from Cookie and Kate is currently one of our favorites. I usually add pecans as well.

The pancake batter has a lot of coconut oil in it, so I find you don’t need to use much oil in the pan. The amount of oil in the recipe could probably be cut down, but I haven’t tried it. The original recipe calls for a teaspoon of sweetener, but I omit it since we usually eat the pancakes with maple syrup. I assume the lemon juice is there to activate the baking soda? I haven’t noticed any lemon flavor.

The original recipe says it makes 8 pancakes, but they must be larger than ours, because for me it makes at least 9, usually more. The recipe below is actually 1.5x the original recipe, so it should make 13 or 14 pancakes. (I like to freeze the leftovers for a second breakfast.)

INGREDIENTS

  • 1.75 cups mashed bananas (about 4.5 small bananas, mashed, or 14.25 ounces)
  • 1.5 tablespoons lemon juice (about 1 medium-small lemon, juiced)
  • 3 tablespoons coconut oil or butter, melted
  • 3 eggs
  • 1.5 cups oat flour (from 1.5 cups of rolled oats ground in a food processor or blender)
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon fine salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • heaping ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts or pecans

INSTRUCTIONS for making the batter

    1. Remove the eggs and lemon from the fridge in advance so they have time to warm up.
    2. Mix the dry ingredients: In a blender or food processor, grind the oats. When they have a flour-like consistency, add in the baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg and blend again.
    3. Mix the wet ingredients: In a large stainless steel bowl, mash the bananas. Juice the lemon and add 1.5 tablespoons of lemon juice to the bananas. Beat in the eggs. In a very small glass bowl melt the coconut oil on low in the microwave. Add it to the large bowl and mix.
    4. Mix together the wet and dry ingredients and the chopped nuts: Form a well in the center of the wet ingredients and pour in the dry ingredients. With a big rubber spatula, stir just until the dry ingredients are thoroughly moistened. Add the nuts and stir again. Let the batter sit for 10 minutes. You may want to thin out the batter a bit with a touch of milk or water.

Instructions for cooking:

    1. Heat a heavy cast iron skillet/non-stick pan over medium-low heat, or heat an electric griddle to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Lightly oil the surface with coconut oil, butter or cooking spray. (If you’re using a non-stick electric griddle, you might not need any oil at all.)
    2. Once the surface of the pan is hot enough that a drop of water sizzles on it, pour ¼ cup of batter onto the pan. Let the pancake cook for about 3 minutes, until bubbles begin to form around the edges of the cake.
    3. Once the underside of the pancake is lightly golden, flip it with a spatula and cook for another 90 seconds or so, until golden brown on both sides. You may need to adjust the heat up or down at this point.
    4. Serve the pancakes immediately or keep warm in a 200 degree Fahrenheit oven.

 

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Beluga lentil and beet salad with walnuts

May 27, 2018 at 11:03 pm (Alma's faves, B plus (3 stars, like a lot), Beans, Fall recipes, Instant Pot, Monthly menu plan, My brain, Salads, Spring recipes, Winter recipes) ()

This is not really a recipe so much as a dinner idea. I basically serve beluga lentils and sliced cooked beets on a bed of salad greens, and drizzle with Annie’s dressing. If I have extra time I will roast some walnuts or pepitas to sprinkle on top. Occasionally we will skip the Annie’s and use feta instead.

I make this at least once a month, and everyone is always happy. When I tell Alma (at 3 years old) what we’re having for dinner, she says “oh, yum, I like that.” Derek is less excited about the idea (it sounds too boring) but once he actually eats it he’s always happy. I like it too. Plus it’s relatively easy to make and can be (mostly) frozen for a quick weeknight meal. Both the lentils and beets freeze well, as does Annie’s dressing. So all I have to do is pull out all the frozen components the night before, and then wash some salad greens.

I usually cook up a big batch of beluga lentils in my instant pot (see below for details). If you don’t have one, you could use a stovetop pressure cooker or just make them in a pan. I always make extra and freeze the leftovers in a glass jar.

I also usually cook beets in the instant pot. Roasted may be tastier, but the instant pot is so much easier and more reliable. Sometimes I am in a rush and then I buy the pre-cooked beets that are in every German supermarket. But they don’t taste as good as the ones I cook myself.

How to cook beets in the Instant Pot

Here are the instructions I used. My beets were big — just under 3 inches in diameter — so I cooked them for 20 minutes on high pressure. They came out perfectly—super easy to peel and the texture and flavor were great. In the past when I’ve boiled, steamed, or baked my beets, I’ve always had trouble getting them cooked consistently and getting the peels to come off easily. So this was a nice change of pace.

Here is her time chart with general guidelines (assuming 1 cup of water and quick release not natural release):

  • <2-inch diameter: 10 minutes under high pressure
  • 2-inch diameter: 15 minutes under high pressure
  • 2 to 3-inch diameter: 20 minutes under high pressure
  • >3-inch diameter: 25-30 minutes under high pressure

How to make beluga lentils in the Instant Pot.

I usually use a pot-in-pot method to cook lentils in the instant pot. I put 1.5 cups of water in the base of the instant pot, then put down the trivet and insert my small (3 quart) instant pot base. I fill it with 500g beluga lentils, 900g of water, and 1 tsp. of salt. I cook the lentils on manual (high pressure) for 12 minutes plus natural pressure release. It’s best to let the lentils cool a bit after opening the lid, because if you are scoop them when they’re still really hot they just turn to mush. Note: Next time try 500g lentils, 825g of water and 10 minutes plus natural release! I think 825g is 3.625 cups of water and 500g is about 2.6 cups, so this is not quite 1.5x water, more like 1.4x.

I have also tried setting the lentils up in the morning before work, and setting the timer so that the lentils would be done at dinnertime. Since the lentils would be soaking all day I lowered the cooking time, maybe to 5 minutes? I think it worked fine, but I’m not positive. I also don’t recall how long before dinner I set the start time. Maybe 10 minutes to come to pressure, 5 minutes to cook, and 15 minutes for pressure to come down, so 30 minutes before dinnertime?

If you don’t have the 3-quart insert, you can cook the lentils directly in the large 6-quart base. Jill Nussinow says to cook them with 1.5x water for 6 to 7 minutes plus natural release. But others say 2x water and still others say only 4 minutes natural pressure release. I tried a couple of different ways, but I was never happy with how they turned out. Unfortunately I didn’t keep notes. but I generally found that the lentils cooked unevenly. The ones on the bottom end up overcooked and the ones on the top end up underdone. If you have a a 7-cup pyrex bowl you could use that, but then 500g lentils will likely be too much, causing your bowl to overflow during cooking. Maybe 450g (1 pound) lentils and 800g water would fit? I’ve also heard that some people soak the lentils overnight and then cook them in the instant pot in a steamer basket. I haven’t tried it that way yet.

Also a note on cooking regular (greenish/brownish) lentils in the instant pot. Last time I did 2:1 water to lentils (by weight not volume, so a bit less than 2:1 by volume) in the main pot. I think I cooked them on high pressure for 5 minutes and released pressure after about 15 minutes, but the pressure was just about up. They came out not bad, but a tad unevenly cooked. I think next time I will try using the pot-in-pot method instead.

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Toddler-approved hummus

January 27, 2018 at 10:07 pm (B plus (3 stars, like a lot), Beans, Derek's faves, Middle East / N. Africa, Quick weeknight recipe, Website / blog, Yearly menu plan) ()

Alma likes storebought hummus, but never likes my regular homemade hummus. So I decided to try a new recipe. I did a google search and picked this random recipe for “Better than Storebought” hummus from www.inspiredtaste.net  I chose it because it had over 700 reviews and an average rating of 4.8 out of 5 stars. Plus it’s a relatively simple recipe, with a slightly different technique than I usually use. It has you blend the tahini and lemon juice first, before adding the chickpeas.

I doubled the recipe:

  • 2 (15-ounce) cans of chickpeas or 3 cups (500 grams) cooked chickpeas
  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) fresh lemon juice (about 2 large lemons)
  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) well-stirred tahini
  • 2 small garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 tablespoons (60 ml) extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • Salt to taste
  • 4 to 6 tablespoons (60 to 90 ml) water
  • Dash of ground paprika, for serving

Instructions:

  1. In the bowl of a food processor, combine the tahini and lemon juice and process for 1 minute, scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl then process for 30 seconds more, until the tahini is whipped, smooth, and creamy.
  2. Add the garlic, cumin, and salt to the whipped tahini and lemon juice. Process for 30 seconds, scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl then process another 30 seconds or until well blended.
  3. Add half of the (drained) chickpeas to the food processor and process for 1 minute. Scrape sides and bottom of the bowl, then add remaining chickpeas and process until thick and quite smooth; 1 to 2 minutes.
  4. Keep adding bean cooking liquid 1 or 2 Tbsp. at a time, until the hummus is the desired consistency.

I think I followed the recipe pretty closely. I added a tad more than 3 cups of chickpeas (maybe 530g?) and a little more lemon, and used the bean cooking liquid to thin it out instead of water. I also put in only about half the cumin, just in case it would cause Alma to not like it.

The hummus came out well. Derek loved it. He said it was bright and creamy and perfect. Alma wouldn’t eat it on carrot sticks, but did deign to eat it on spelt crackers. And a few days later she ate it happily on cucumbers! I liked it. It doesn’t taste like storebought, but it was yummy. I’d make it again. I might use slightly more tahini and less olive oil.

Update as of Feb 25, 2018:

I cut out the olive oil and cumin, and added more tahini than last time. I made a double batch:

  • 1/2 cup lemon juice (122g)
  • 1 cup tahini (227g)
  • 4 garlic cloves (mine weighed around 7g, but I think 12g would be more average)
  • 1.25 tsp. salt
  • 4 cup salted chickpeas (should have been about 656g, but mine weighed 725g)
  • about 7 Tbs. bean juice (I used 111g)

I first added the lemon juice and tahini to the food processor until fluffy. Then added the garlic and salt, then the chickpeas, and finally the bean juice. I thought it wasn’t quite as tasty as my last batch, but I’m not sure what the difference is. Maybe a tad too thick? Needed a little bit more liquid maybe?

It made about 5.5 cups maybe? I left 2.5 cups in the fridge and froze 2 cups. It’s kind of a pain to clean the food processor, so if it freezes well I think next time I’ll make an even bigger batch. Maybe 6 cups of chickpeas.

How I cooked the chickpeas: I cooked 1 pound 12 ounces chickpeas in my instant pot. I hot-soaked them over the morning in about 70 C water, to fill to the 3 liter mark. I also added about 1 3/4 tsp. of salt. I left the instant pot on keep warm.  When they seemed fully hydrated I cooked them under pressure for 17 minutes. They ended up soft (maybe a tad too soft for chana masala) but not quite as soft as last time. Maybe next time do 16 minutes, take some out, then cook the rest for hummus another few minutes? I used the still very warm chickpeas in the hummus, because I heard that makes a creamier hummus.

To decide how much tahini to use, I compared a few recipes.  This nytimes Zahav-inspired recipe calls for 3 cups of cooked chickpeas and a full cup of tahini!, but no olive oil (except to garnish). That said, the nytimes version seems to be a bastardized version of the chef’s original recipe. The version of Zahav’s recipe on food52 calls for 3 cups of cooked chickpeas and only 2/3 cup of tahini, and the technique is different. Odd. This Ottolenghi recipe calls for 3 cups of chickpeas and 13.5 Tbs. (.84 cups) of tahini .

For reference, the amount of tahini for 4 cups of chickpeas ranges from 10.67 (Better than storebought recipe), 14 Tbs. (Zahav), 18 tbs. (Ottolenghi), to 21.33 (NYT version of Zahav’s). Lemon juice ranges from 4 Tbs. (Ottolenghi), 7 Tbs. (Zahav), 10.67 Tbs. (Better than storebought). And salt ranges from 1.33 tsp. salt (Better than Storebought), to 1.5 tsp. salt (Ottolenghi).

Update as of April 14, 2018:

I cooked 1.5 pounds of dry (unsoaked) chickpeas with 1.5 tsp. of salt in my instant pot for 55 minutes, and then went out and they ended up sitting on keep warm for around 3 hours I think. They ended up quite soft. Next time maybe I should add a bit less salt, just 1.25 tsp for 1.5 pounds of chickpeas or 1.5 tsp. for 1.75 pounds of chickpeas.

I made an even larger batch of hummus than last time (4x the original recipe), but I think it was too much for my food processor motor to handle, and also probably a bit too much for the freezer. Next time I’ll probably go back to the 4-cup of chickpeas version. Or divide it and make it in two batches.

  • 3/4 cup lemon juice (183g)
  • 1.5 cups tahini (341g)
  • 6 garlic cloves (around 16g)
  • 2 tsp. ground cumin (I didn’t add this at first, but it was quite bland. Was better with the cumin.)
  • 1.5 tsp. (but see note below on the bean juice)
  • 6 cup salted chickpeas (984g)
  • about 10-11 Tbs. bean juice (about 173g) [I ended up needing to add way more liquid, maybe double? That’s probably why I needed less salt, since the bean juice was salted]

Here’s the original “Better than Storebought” recipe x4, for comparison:

  • 1 cup (240 ml) fresh lemon juice (about 4 large lemons)
  • 1 cup (240 ml) well-stirred tahini
  • 8 small garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 4 (15-ounce) cans of chickpeas or 6 cups (1kg) cooked chickpeas
  • 1 cup to 1.5 cups of bean cooking liquid

Update as of March 23, 2018:

How I cooked the chickpeas: I soaked just shy of 1 pound of chickpeas with plenty of salt and kombu for about 24 hours, drained them, then put them in the instant pot with a bit over 2 cups of water, so they were just barely covered. I cooked them on high pressure for 14 minutes, plus natural release. They came out well—salty and soft but not falling apart soft. I maybe could have done one more minute for hummus-soft beans.

When the beans were still warm I made one batch of hummus, but I was a bit short on tahini so I cut down on the lemon juice a bit too. My beans and aquafaba were quite salty, so I cut back on salt in the hummus. The hummus came out well.

  • 1/2 cup lemon juice (122g) [I used a bit less, maybe 105g?]
  • 1 cup tahini (227g) [I ran out, and only used about 170g]
  • 8 or 9g of garlic
  • about 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 4 cup cooked salted chickpeas (should have been about 656g, but mine weighed about 700-something grams)
  • about 8 or 9 Tbs. bean juice (more than 111g)

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How does an Instant Pot compare to a stovetop pressure cooker? Pros and Cons

July 12, 2017 at 2:39 pm (Beans, Equipment reviews, Instant Pot) ()

I have a nice Fissler pressure cooker that I use occasionally (mostly to cook beans). I like it, but I don’t love it. Recently I got an Instant Pot electronic pressure cooker. Even though I’ve only made four things in it so far (black beans, chana dal, sweet potatoes, and beets), I can already tell that I like it much better than my stovetop pressure cooker. Here’s why I’m ditching my stovetop pressure cooker and getting an Instant Pot instead. Read the rest of this entry »

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Asparagus, pea, fava bean, and barley ragout

May 31, 2017 at 9:37 pm (101 cookbooks, Alma's faves, B plus (3 stars, like a lot), Beans, Grains, Monthly menu plan, My brain, Pasta, Quick weeknight recipe, Spring recipes, Starches, Vegetable dishes) (, )

I am embarrassed to admit that I have never cooked with fava beans. All that boiling and husking and peeling of individual beans … Seems like a lot of work. So I thought I’d start easy with basically ready-to-eat frozen, pre-shelled fava beans. But what to do with them? I found this recipe for a spring ragout on the 101 cookbooks blog, and it looked good, and toddler friendly. Alma likes asparagus and peas and pasta, so hopefully she’d like the dish. And she did. I decided to make it a second time, but then Alma got pasta at lunch at daycare, and I didn’t want to serve pasta twice in one day, so I subbed in barley instead. She loved it!  Read the rest of this entry »

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Baked Cauli-tots

May 15, 2017 at 8:44 pm (Alma's faves, B plus (3 stars, like a lot), breakfast, Cruciferous rich, Derek's faves, Monthly menu plan, Website / blog) ()

There are a million recipes online for cauliflower “tots”. They’re a fun change of pace from simple roasted cauliflower, and they’re easy to make in advance when you need a quick breakfast. Serve the cauli-tots with some already cooked beans and some fresh fruit and they’ll make a great breakfast. Read the rest of this entry »

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Restaurant-style sesame noodles

April 30, 2017 at 9:58 pm (Alma's faves, B plus (3 stars, like a lot), Chinese, Derek's faves, Monthly menu plan, Pasta, Sauce/dressing, Tofu, Website / blog) (, )

I already have two sesame noodle recipes on my blog. The first recipe is from Madhur Jaffrey’s World of the East cookbook, and uses tahini. The second recipe is from Nancie McDermott’s Quick and Easy Chinese cookbook, and uses peanut butter. But lately we haven’t been making either of these recipes. Instead we’ve been making a version of the takeout-style sesame noodles recipe from Sam Sifton on the New York Times website. It uses both tahini and peanut butter. It’s clearly the winner. We make a whole meal out of it by adding pan-fried tofu, steamed broccoli, toasted sesame seeds, and various raw veggies. The last few times we’ve made this for dinner, Alma has scarfed it up. We just have to be careful not to make the sauce too spicy for her.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Homemade Progresso-style Lentil Soup

April 19, 2017 at 2:54 pm (B plus (3 stars, like a lot), Beans, Derek's faves, Fall recipes, Monthly menu plan, My brain, soup, Winter recipes) ()

The first food that Derek ever cooked for me was a bowl of lentil soup. He very carefully opened up a can of Progresso lentil soup, and then worked long and hard to “cook” it. And cook it he did, not in the microwave but in a real pot on the stove! It was piping hot and delicious.

Both of us still love Progresso vegetable classics lentil soup, but we can’t get it here in Germany. It’s probably for the best though, as I try not to buy canned foods, plus the sodium levels are through the roof. Still, we miss it, and so I decided to try to make it myself. I looked online for a copycat recipe, but couldn’t find anything that seemed promising. So I just took a look at the ingredient list and nutritional label and gave it a crack. I haven’t had the real thing in years, so I could be off, but to both Derek and I my soup tasted just like the real thing.

The first time I made it Alma wouldn’t touch it (too brown and goopy I guess), but at some point she finally tried it and really liked it. Then the next time I served it she again rejected it. I reminded her that last time she had scarfed it up and that she had even chastised me for finishing all the leftovers. She tried it again and again happily polished off her bowl. Now, however, at almost 5 years old, she isn’t so excited again.
Read the rest of this entry »

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Creamy millet porridge with baked, spiced pears

February 19, 2017 at 1:44 pm (Alma's faves, B plus (3 stars, like a lot), breakfast, Cook's Illustrated, Fall recipes, Grains, Monthly menu plan, Website / blog, Winter recipes) ()

Derek is not a millet fan. I remember him happily digging into a millet pilaf I made many years ago, and then almost doing a spit-take. “What did you do to the rice?” he asked with a look of intense disgust on his face. “This is the worst rice you’ve ever made!” So as you can imagine, I don’t cook a lot of millet. But Alma likes porridge, and I’m not the biggest oatmeal fan. I wanted to make some alternative-grain porridges, and I came across a recipe from Cook’s Illustrated for creamy millet porridge. They say “slightly overcooking millet causes the seeds to burst and release starch, creating a creamy consistency that makes this grain ideal for breakfast porridge.” Sounds good! I think Derek’s main problem with millet is its somewhat dry, gritty texture, so I thought maybe he’d be willing to eat millet in a porridge. And he is! Alma likes it too, and for me it’s a nice change from oatmeal.

When I made this porridge for breakfast today, I served it with my Mom’s Ayurvedic baked, spiced pears. Alma isn’t normally a huge pear fan, but she likes these baked pears, which are seasoned with cinnamon, cardamom, and nutmeg. And unlike with baked apples, she doesn’t even complain about the skin. Read the rest of this entry »

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Vegetarian Okonomiyaki (Japanese Cabbage Pancakes)

February 5, 2017 at 1:50 pm (101 cookbooks, A (4 stars, love), Alma's faves, breakfast, Cruciferous rich, Derek's faves, Fall recipes, Japanese, Monthly menu plan, Peter Berley, Quick weeknight recipe, Spring recipes, Winter recipes) ()

I was looking for a green cabbage recipe that a toddler would like, and I came across this pretty simple (albeit quite Americanized) vegetarian Okonomiyaki recipe on the 101 cookbooks blog. Alma generally likes pancakes, so I decided to give it a try. Below is a doubled version of the original recipe, with a few modifications. Derek and I like them a lot, and it’s a relatively quick recipe, so suitable for a weeknight dinner or a Sunday lunch.

One thing I was concerned about in terms of making this recipe kid friendly is the name. Luckily Alma doesn’t know the word “yucky” yet (she’s only learned the German “bäh” at daycare so far). But if she did I’d be worried about her thinking the name was Okonomi-yukky. Maybe if you’re serving this to kids for the first time you should call it Okonomi-yummy instead.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Broccoli, feta, lime frittata

December 10, 2016 at 3:28 pm (Alma's faves, B plus (3 stars, like a lot), breakfast, Cook's Illustrated, Monthly menu plan, Necessarily nonvegan, Uncategorized) ()

The frittata is called the lazy cook’s omelet. Sounds perfect, no? I like omelets but I’m definitely lazy. I’ve tried various frittata recipes before, but neither Derek nor I ever like them. They’re always a bit too dry and rubbery. Or over-browned. Or just meh. But I’ve always thought that maybe my technique was just wrong. So I decided to give it another go, when Cook’s Illustrated came out with a new frittata series this year. And I thought it came out pretty well! Definitely better than my previous attempts.

And Alma really likes it (at least as of September 2017). I’ve since made it several times and she always really enjoys it. The magic of feta cheese perhaps? Read the rest of this entry »

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Modern Succotash with Fennel and Scallions

November 12, 2016 at 8:49 pm (B plus (3 stars, like a lot), Beans, Cook's Illustrated, Derek's faves, Monthly menu plan, Quick weeknight recipe) ()

So far Alma does not like fennel. I was looking for a recipe for fennel that she might possibly like, and I found this Cook’s Illustrated recipe for a modern succotash with corn, white beans, and (a little) fennel. She loves corn and generally likes white beans, so I figured it was worth a shot.  Read the rest of this entry »

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Eat the rainbow fridge chart

July 5, 2016 at 10:44 pm (Menus, Uncategorized) ()

I am trying to make sure Alma’s diet includes a large variety of colorful fruits and vegetables, as well as at least one serving of nuts/seeds, whole grains, and legumes per day. It’s surprisingly hard! I thought some kind of chart might help.

There are lots of charts on the internet, but they all seemed limited in some way. So I decided to make my own “Eat the Rainbow” chart. It includes a color-coded list of foods and a weekly checklist. I use the food lists to get ideas during our weekly meal-planning session, and I use the checklist to keep track of what we’re eating during the week.

rainbow_chart

I’ve seen a lot of sources online that suggest trying to get each color in every day. That seems impossible! Right now my goal is to offer each color at least a couple times a week, and offer at least a couple different colors each day.

My list has many more rows than most “Eat the Rainbow” charts that are available on the web. First of all, in my list each color is separated into two rows, one for fruit and one for vegetables. I separated them because getting Alma to eat a variety of vegetables is much more difficult than getting her to eat fruit, which she almost universally loves. Another oddity about my list is that there are several rows for green vegetables. In my original chart the green vegetable list was way too long, so I separated out leafy greens and brassicas. I figured those nutritional powerhouses deserved their own row, especially since they get their own category on my blog! I also separated out mushrooms, since technically they’re fungi not vegetables, and because they are tasty enough to get their own category.

I thought I’d post my chart here in case anyone else finds it helpful. Feedback and/or suggestions are welcome! I tried to make it pretty comprehensive but I’m sure there are things I left out. I considered having different versions of the list for each season, but deciding what went in which list was impossible, due to regional variability and the availability of frozen foods.

You can download a pdf file of my Weekly Eat the Rainbow Chart. If you prefer to plan menus on a monthly basis, then try my Monthly Eat the Rainbow Chart.

 

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Saffron cauliflower with raisins and olives

July 2, 2016 at 3:09 pm (B_minus (2 stars, okay), Cruciferous rich, Fall recipes, Italian, Ottolenghi, Quick weeknight recipe, Spring recipes, Winter recipes) ()

This is a standard Sicilian combination that I’ve seen in many cookbooks. Sometimes the recipe also includes pine nuts, anchovies, garlic, basil, tomatoes, pasta, and/or parmesan. I’ve tried many different variants, but I’m never that excited by the dish. It’s flavorful, but somehow just not my preferred flavors. But a student of mine from Iran gave me a ton of saffron as a gift and I was trying to figure out what to do with it. I came across this Ottolenghi recipe in Plenty, and was surprised to see that—unlike other recipes which usually call for only a pinch or 1/8 tsp. of saffron— his version calls for 1.5 teaspoons (!?!) of saffron. I decided to give it a try. Read the rest of this entry »

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Tassajara warm red cabbage salad with sunflower seeds and raisins

July 2, 2016 at 2:56 pm (101 cookbooks, A (4 stars, love), Alma's faves, Cruciferous rich, Derek's faves, Monthly menu plan, Other, Quick weeknight recipe, Spring recipes, Winter recipes) ()

I’m trying to get more “purple” in, and wanted to use red cabbage, but never know what to do with it. I tried this Tassajara warm red cabbage recipe by way of 101cookbooks. Heidi says her version is less cheesy, less fruity, and less rich, but it still tasted plenty cheesy, fruity, and rich to us. Both Derek and I enjoyed it. Now that Alma is two, she likes it too. It’s a pretty sweet-tasting (and hence toddler-friendly) dish, due to the use of the raisins and balsamic vinegar, plus all the natural sugars in the cabbage and onions.
Read the rest of this entry »

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Banana egg blueberry pancakes

June 12, 2016 at 7:38 pm (Alma's faves, breakfast, B_minus (2 stars, okay), Necessarily nonvegan, Website / blog) ()

Apparently these two-ingredient pancakes have been floating around on the Internet for several years, but I first came across them on parenting blogs, where they are popular because they’re toddler friendly and not too unhealthy. Although they can be made with just two ingredients (banana and egg), I usually add a few other ingredients as well. Below is our most common version. For other variations, see this excellent writeup on thekitchen.com. Read the rest of this entry »

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Asian-style baked tofu, toddler approved

May 22, 2016 at 9:46 pm (Alma's faves, B plus (3 stars, like a lot), Baked tofu, Chinese, Derek's faves, Tofu) ()

I finally got a chance to try an easier version of the crisp marinated and baked tofu. I skipped the pressing and the cornstarch dredging steps and simply poured the marinade directly onto the tofu and baked it. It was a hit, both with Derek and with Alma. And I didn’t miss the cornstarch or pressing steps at all. I think the texture turned out just fine. Read the rest of this entry »

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Simple, French-style pureed soup, especially for toddlers

May 1, 2016 at 8:09 pm (French, Root vegetables, soup, unrated, Vegetable dishes, Website / blog) ()

I recently read the book French Kids Eat Everything: How Our Family Moved to France, Cured Picky Eating, Banned Snacking, and Discovered 10 Simple Rules for Raising Happy, Healthy Eaters by Karen LeBillon. I quite enjoyed the book, and—when it comes to preparing food for Alma—it gave me lots of “food” for thought. (Sorry!)

There are a number of interesting observations LeBillon makes in the book, but I’ll save them for another post. Today, I wanted to focus on the idea of starting dinner with a simple pureed vegetable soup. LeBillon says that the French start their meal with a soup several times a week. This soup is almost always a vegetable soup, and often a simple pureed vegetable soup. These soups supposedly make great starters for babies and toddlers, as they’re an easy way to introduce them to a lot of different vegetables. Also, it gives them a vegetable at the start of the meal, when they are most hungry. Finally, they’re really fast to make. Just saute some aromatics, throw in your veggies and broth, simmer briefly, and puree. All in all, that’s pretty easy, which is definitely a plus when it comes to cooking with a busy toddler underfoot. Finally, they freeze really well. You can freeze the soups in small jars and then defrost them quickly when needed—no need to scramble to put something healthy on the table at the last minute.

I thought I’d give it a try. I started with LeBillon’s simple French carrot soup with dill recipe.  Although most toddlers seem to like carrots, Alma usually does not, I’m not sure why—maybe a texture issue? I thought  pureeing them was worth a try. The first time I served it, Alma ate one very tiny bowl of it (a mise en place bowl), without too much complaint. She didn’t love it, but it helped that she’s just learned how to use a spoon, and so anything that requires a spoon is therefore very exciting. I had made quite a bit of soup, so I decided to take half of the leftovers and add in some roasted red bell pepper and jarred tomatoes, and pureed the soup again. I refrigerated a little bit of each soup, and froze the rest in small glass jars. The version with red bell pepper and tomato was definitely a bigger hit (with both Derek and Alma) than the straight carrot soup, but over the last several weeks Alma has eaten the plain carrot dill version several times, sometimes enthusiastically, sometimes less so.

Read the rest of this entry »

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My mom’s toddler-approved chana dal

April 14, 2016 at 11:13 am (Alma's faves, B plus (3 stars, like a lot), Beans, breakfast, Derek's faves, Fall recipes, Indian, Mom’s recipes, Spring recipes, Winter recipes) ()

My mom visited us in January and made us her favorite chana dal recipe for dinner one night. It was a hit, but we ate it all up immediately. So before she left she made us a second, doubled batch and froze it. We defrosted it a few weeks later and again it was a hit with everyone, including my 1-year-old. Since then I’ve been making a quadrupled batch of chana dal every two weeks. We eat it for dinner, freeze some of it, and eat the rest for breakfast a few days later. Then we defrost the frozen portion and have it for a dinner and a breakfast the following week. Sometimes we serve it with yogurt, but often we don’t. My now 14-month-old always eats it happily. When we have it for breakfast, I try to serve it with a piece of vitamin C rich fruit, often a grapefruit, an orange or clementine, or a kiwi. The only problem with the recipe is that it doesn’t have any vegetables in it. I’m curious to try adding some vegetables — maybe a bit of spinach or carrots? In the meantime, if I have leftover roasted or curried cauliflower, I will serve that as a side dish.  Read the rest of this entry »

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Quinoa Spinach Croquettes, Toddler Approved

February 17, 2016 at 2:59 pm (Alma's faves, B plus (3 stars, like a lot), breakfast, Dark leafy greens, Grains, Monthly menu plan, Necessarily nonvegan, Vegetable dishes, Website / blog) ()

Last month I made broccoli cheddar quinoa bites, and liked them. So I decided to try this recipe for “Quinoa quiche muffins with spinach and cheese.” Although they are called muffins, the recipe is actually quite similar to the previous recipe, except that it calls for spinach instead of broccoli, has more eggs, and uses feta in addition to cheddar. Like before, I made them on a cookie sheet instead of in a muffin tin, to save on cleanup time. Although they are called “quiche muffins,” the way I made them they didn’t have the texture of a typical quiche or of a typical muffin. The texture is more grainy and crumbly, similar to the texture of these five-grain croquettes.

Alma really likes this recipe, and Derek and I enjoy it as well. The croquettes freeze well, and along with a piece of fruit they make an easy quick breakfast. I’ve made this recipe at least 5 times since I originally posted it (often with a slight variation), and it’s always a hit. It also works well as a take-along snack—just bring the frozen croquette with you and it will probably be defrosted by the time you get there. It’s fine room temperature. Just don’t give it to your toddler inside without a plate because it can be a bit crumbly. Read the rest of this entry »

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The lazy cook’s black bean recipe

January 7, 2016 at 4:48 pm (Alma's faves, B plus (3 stars, like a lot), Beans, Mexican & S. American, Website / blog) ()

This recipe from Serious Eats is supposed to be a super easy way to make tasty black beans. Black beans? Yes please. Lazy cook? Double yes. Clearly I had to try it. It’s interesting in that they recommend simmering the aromatics rather than sautéeing them first. Not only is it easier and faster, but the author claims that sautéeing sweetens the aromatics too much, so that they overpower the beans. I was intrigued. Read the rest of this entry »

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Sautéed Cabbage with Fennel and Garlic

December 13, 2015 at 2:04 pm (A (4 stars, love), Cook's Illustrated, Cruciferous rich, Monthly menu plan) (, )

Back in March I made the Cook’s Illustrated recipe Sautéed Cabbage with Miso and Scallions, and we liked it, so I wanted to try some of the other variants. This week I tried the version with fennel and garlic, and we enjoyed it as well. It’s a relatively simple recipe, but tasty.

Alma, who is generally not a huge cabbage fan, really likes this recipe. So do I. Even though I screw up the browning step EVERY TIME. I always forget to not stir the cabbage at the start. It’s actually pretty tricky to get the cabbage to brown without burning. But even if you don’t really brown your cabbage, it’s still really tasty. The combination of the salt, the sweet cabbage, the acid from the lemon juice, and the umami from the parmesan–yum. I’ve added this recipe to our monthly menu plan.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 small head savoy cabbage (1 1/4 pounds), cored and sliced thin
  • 3 Tbsp. olive oil (divided) [I use less, maybe 2 Tbsp.]
  • 1 fennel bulb, fronds minced, stalks discarded, bulb halved, cored, and sliced thin
  • 3/4 tsp. salt (divided)
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced to paste
  • ¼ tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 2 tsp. lemon juice [I use more]
  • Tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese

INSTRUCTIONS

Green cabbage may be substituted for the savoy cabbage. Soaking the cabbage gets rid of some of the enzymes that produce sulfurous flavors; do not skip this step. If your fennel does not have the green fronds attached, substitute 1/4 cup of chopped fresh parsley.

  1. Place cabbage in large bowl and cover with cold water; let stand for 3 minutes. Drain cabbage well and set aside. Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon oil in a 12-inch stainless steel skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add fennel bulb and 1/4 teaspoon salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, 8 to 10 minutes. Add garlic and pepper flakes and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Transfer fennel mixture to small bowl.
  2. Return now-empty skillet to medium-high heat, add 1 tablespoon oil, and heat until shimmering. Add cabbage and sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cover and cook, without stirring, for about 3 minutes, or until cabbage is wilted and lightly browned on bottom.
  3. Stir once and continue to cook, uncovered, for 2 more minutes. Stir a second time and cook for another 2 minutes, until cabbage is crisp-tender and lightly browned in places. Remove skillet from heat. Stir in fennel mixture, reserved fennel fronds, and lemon juice. Season with salt to taste, transfer to serving bowl, drizzle with remaining 1 tablespoon oil [I omit this step], and sprinkle with Parmesan. Serve.
  4. Serves 4 to 6.

My notes after my second attempt:

I always forget to put in the fennel fronds. I’m not sure how Alma would like them.

I think last time I had more cabbage, maybe 1 1/4 pounds of cabbage after coring? Or perhaps that was the weight of the whole cabbage? I’m not sure. Last time I used a ginormous fennel. There was still plenty of seasoning and room in the pan. I could probably use two normal-sized fennel heads and have both fit in the pan fine. Alma likes to snack on the fennel as “a little appetizer” while she’s waiting for the cabbage to finish cooking.

Last time I served this with quinoa and black-eyed peas (plain, sprinkled with tarragon for adults and nutritional yeast for toddlers) . It made a lovely, satisfying dinner. For a slightly fancier dinner I might serve the cabbage with this delicious 101 cookbooks recipe for black-eyed peas with leeks and tarragon. Alma didn’t care for the leeks or tarragon, so she ended up just eating plain black eyes. But Derek and I both really liked the leek and tarragon combination.

Update Nov 18, 2019:

I made sliced the cabbage and sauteed the fennel and then Derek finished the dish while I played a game with Alma. I used regular (not savoy) cabbage and I think 1 pound 2 ounces or maybe 1 pound 4 ounces. The dish turned out really well. Everyone liked it. I left the sauteed fennel and fennel fronds separate, but even Alma ended up mixing everything together. I served this dish with instant pot mushroom risotto and it went really well together. The only problem was that the whole meal was white, beige, and brown. It needed a little color!

Note that the original recipe called for a nonstick skillet, but we have had no problems making this in our heavy 12-inch stainless steel skillet.

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Pumpkin chia pudding

November 6, 2015 at 11:13 pm (Alma's faves, B plus (3 stars, like a lot), Dessert, Monthly menu plan, Pudding, Website / blog) ()

Alma really likes my Mom’s almond chia pudding, so I started looking for some more recipes using chia seeds, and I came across this recipe for pumpkin pie chia pudding. Read the rest of this entry »

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Simple almond chia pudding

September 27, 2015 at 11:55 pm (Alma's faves, B plus (3 stars, like a lot), breakfast, Mom’s recipes, Monthly menu plan, Pudding) ()

When we visited my Mom in June, she made a simple chia pudding with almond milk, which I really liked. It’s also vegan and raw. I liked it so much that when I got home I bought some chia seeds. But then of course I never got around to using them. When my mom came to visit in August, she discovered the unopened package, and made homemade almond milk and then used it to make me some more of her chia pudding. It was delicious. But making the almond milk was a pain, because my almonds didn’t peel easily. So for a second batch she tried making a version with hemp milk instead of almond milk. It was also good, but the hemp milk adds a pretty sharp grassy note. Alma ate both versions, but seemed to prefer the one with almond milk. Once my mom left I didn’t have the energy to make almond milk, so I bought some at the store and made another batch of chia almond milk pudding. Alma really liked it.

Almond chia pudding

Alma really likes plain almond chia pudding. I’m using a slight variant of my Mom’s recipe (with a bit more chia seeds). In a 2 cup glass jar mix together:

  • 1.5 cups almond milk
  • 1/4 cup chia seeds
  • 3/4 tsp. date syrup
  • 3/8 tsp. almond extract

Stir well so the chia seeds don’t clump up. Let sit for at least an hour, so the chia seeds have time to hydrate. Refrigerate if you’re not eating it immediately.

This is not really enough chia pudding for all of us to have for breakfast. If I serve this for breakfast (usually with berries), then Alma can eat at least 2/3 of it all by herself! I might also try making something else to go with it — gyro tempeh or scrambled tofu perhaps?

Still, I think next time I’m going to try using a larger jar and making a bit more:

  • 2 cups almond milk
  • 1/3 cup chia seeds
  • 1 tsp. date syrup
  • 1/2 tsp. almond extract

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Tangy lentil salad with a sherry, dijon vinaigrette

July 7, 2014 at 8:03 pm (Alma's faves, B plus (3 stars, like a lot), Beans, Cook's Illustrated, Derek's faves, French, Quick weeknight recipe, Salads) ()

This recipe is based on one from the Cook’s Illustrated “The Best Light Recipe” cookbook. The original recipe is for a lentil salad with scallions, walnuts, and roasted red peppers.  But when Derek makes this dish he usually just makes the lentils, and doesn’t bother to add the other ingredients.  He’s perfectly happy with just the lentils and the über simple mustard-olive oil-sherry vinegar dressing.   Read the rest of this entry »

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Homemade sunbutter

November 9, 2013 at 12:27 am (Alma's faves, B plus (3 stars, like a lot), Derek's faves, Sauce/dressing, Website / blog) ()

I’ve already waxed euphoric about the wonders of sunflower seed butter, so you know how much I enjoy it. Sadly, however, it seems to be the one nut/seed butter I can’t find here in Germany. I’ve found peanut butter, hazelnut butter, almond butter, cashew butter (roasted and raw), and even pumpkin seed butter. But no sun butter. I have no idea why. So I tried making my own sunbutter a few months ago. I just added the sunflower seeds to the food processor and tried grinding them up. They turned into a dry, sandy, powdery substance, but not into a nut butter. I thought maybe I needed to add a little oil but that didn’t work at all. It just turned into a sticky, pasty, oily kind of sand. I tried adding some water. Big mistake. I ended up with pale, pasty, white goop. Blech. I decided to try again, but this time to actually read some instructions online first. Read the rest of this entry »

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Mexican quiche

March 19, 2012 at 10:59 pm (B plus (3 stars, like a lot), Necessarily nonvegan, Quick weeknight recipe) ()

When I was in high school I used to love going to parties at my best friend’s house. Her mom (Diane) would always cook up a huge amount of delicious finger foods, most of which I’d never had before.  Three of my favorites were spanakopita, stuffed grape leaves, and what she called “mexican quiche”.  Last summer I finally asked Diane for the recipe for the quiche.  It’s surprisingly simple. Read the rest of this entry »

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My favorite homemade granola recipe

July 31, 2010 at 9:57 pm (A (4 stars, love), Alma's faves, breakfast, Cook's Illustrated, Derek's faves, Monthly menu plan, Website / blog) ()

Update July 2018: Here is my most recent attempt. This is a doubled recipe so it makes a lot. It came out more than sweet enough. I think next time I will use just 1/4 cup honey + 1/4 cup date syrup. I’ll also put more nuts and coconut in. Maybe 1.5 cups of coconut flakes and 1.5 cups of whole almonds as well? It wasn’t that strongly spiced. Maybe next time I’ll use a full 2 Tbs. of cinnamon, and 1.5 tsp. of nutmeg.

Dry ingredients:

  • 6 cups rolled oats (about 675g or 1.5 pounds, maybe closer to 635 or 650g??)
  • 1/3 cup wheat germ (38g)
  • 1/4 cup ground flax seed (26g)
  • 1 cup large coconut flakes (~60g)
  • 3/4 cup slivered almonds (85g)
  • 3/4 cup sunflower seeds (105g)
  • 1/2 cup sesame seeds (64g)
  • 1.5 Tbs. cinnamon (~12g)
  • 1 tsp. nutmeg
  • scant 1/2 tsp. salt

Wet ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup honey (170g)
  • 1/4 cup date syrup (84g)
  • 1 Tbs. vanilla (15g)
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil (54g)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil (54g)

Nuts added in the last 15 minutes:

  • 1.5 cups pecan halves (149g), left whole
  • 1.25 cups walnut halves (125g), roughly chopped

Mix dry ingredients in a large bowl (except for fragile nuts). Heat wet ingredients until coconut oil and honey are melted. Mix wet ingredients in with dry ingredients. Bake everything but the pecans and walnuts at 300 F (~150 C) on a large baking sheet coated with parchment paper. Put another piece of parchment on top and another baking sheet on top. Bake for about 45 minutes, rotating pan halfway through. Or divide in half and bake in two batches, each for about 30 minutes. When the granola seems crispy, add the pecans and walnuts and bake for another 15 minutes or so until they are lightly roasted.

Update Dec 24, 2010:  This time I doubled the recipe and went back closer to my first try:  3 cups oats, 3 cups 5-grain rolled cereal (including oats, wheat, rye, spelt…) , 1 1/3 cups wheat bran (2.72 ounces), 1/4 tsp. salt, 4 tsp. cinnamon, 1 tsp. nutmeg, no coconut, 1 1/2 cups pecan halves (5.25 ounces), 1 cup whole almonds (5.04 ounces), 1/4 cup light brown sugar, 3 Tbs. dark molasses, 1/4 cup oil, 1/4 cup date syrup (you could use honey), 1/4 cup maple syrup, 1 Tbs. vanilla, 2-3 Tbs. water.   I cooked it at 350 for 30 minutes, but it still seemed damp rather than crisp, so I cooked it a bit longer.  I think I overcooked it again, though.  As soon as I took it out of the oven it crisped right up, despite seeming quite damp at first.  This recipe is very dark tasting, partly from the over-roasting and partly from all the molasses.  It was plenty sweet and not too salty this time.  Adding the water didn’t seem to help it clump at all–just made it take longer to cook.  It might have made the sauce a bit easier to distribute amongst the dry ingredients.  Although I increased the cinnamon and nutmeg, I still couldn’t taste them distinctively.

To try next time:  6 cups rolled oats or other grains, 1 1/2 cups wheat bran (3.07 ounces), 1/4 cup ground flax seed, 1/4 cup sesame seeds, 1/4 tsp. salt, 1.5 Tbs. cinnamon, 1 tsp. nutmeg, no coconut, 1 1/2 cups pecan halves (5.25 ounces), 1 cup whole almonds (5.04 ounces), 1/4 cup olive oil, 2 Tbs. dark molasses, 1/2 cup date syrup (or honey), 1/4 cup maple syrup (or honey), 1 Tbs. vanilla, no water.  Cook at 350 for 25 minutes.

Update Aug 14, 2010:  I made the “to try next time” Granola, e.g. 2/3 cup wheat bran, 1/4 tsp. salt, 1.5 tsp. cinnamon, 1/4 tsp. nutmeg, 1/2 cup coconut, 1 cup pecans/almonds, 1 Tbs. molasses, 2 Tbs. honey, 2 2/3 Tbs. maple syrup, 3 Tbs. oil, 1.5 tsp. vanilla.  I baked at 350 for 25-30 minutes.   I accidentally used salted almonds.  I also burned my pecans a bit again.  Pecans are so fragile!  The granola came out too salty and not sweet enough.  Derek wouldn’t eat it until I added a little maple syrup to his bowl.  I’m also not sure that the addition of grated coconut adds all that much.

I think next time I’ll not use salted almonds, reduce the salt to 1/8 tsp.,  cut the coconut to 1/4 cup, increase the pecans to 3/4 cup (rather than 1/2 cup), and increase the maple syrup and honey each to about 1/6 of a cup.  I might also try cutting the oil back to 2 Tbs. and increasing the wheat bran to 3/4 cup, but that’s maybe too many changes all at once.  I didn’t notice the cinnamon and nutmeg at all, so I might increase those amounts too.  Finally, I wouldn’t mind it if my granola were a bit more clumpy.  I’ve heard that adding water can help with the clumping.  If I get ambitious I might try adding some water in with the oil and sweeteners.  Or maybe it’s the brown sugar + water that creates clumping?  Maybe instead of increasing the honey/maple syrup I should add back in some brown sugar?  To increase the iron levels maybe I should try subbing some of the almonds/pecans for pepitas/sesame seeds or dried mulberries?  So many things to try!

Original post from 7/31/2010:

Is low calorie granola possible?

I really like granola, but I usually don’t eat it because it’s very high calorie and doesn’t fill me up at all.  I could easily down 800 calories of the stuff for breakfast.  So I stopped  buying “Knüspriges Muesli” (crunchy muesli, which is what they call Granola here in Germany).  But then when I went to visit my friend Sarah in Israel last month I enjoyed eating her homemade granola for breakfast every morning.  It’s calorie dense but very filling. But when I went to make it I just didn’t want to put that much oil in. So I made up my own recipe based on a number of  random granola recipes I’ve come across this month.  Bittman posted a no-oil recipe at the New York Times,  I came across a pretty basic recipe at Chow.com, Martha Rose Shulman posted her own healthy granola recipe, and I came across a granola recipe on the blog Smitten Kitchen.  I didn’t follow any one of the recipes, but used them collectively for inspiration.  Here’s a table comparing the ingredients and cooking times/temperatures.  All the recipes are normalized for 3 cups rolled oats: Read the rest of this entry »

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Creamy celery root, leek, and barley soup

April 26, 2010 at 12:00 am (B plus (3 stars, like a lot), French, Georgeanne Brennan, Grains, Root vegetables, soup, Starches, Winter recipes) ()

Derek and I are going to spend a few days in Paris next week–just in time for his 30th birthday!  In anticipation of the trip, I recently bought the cookbook France: The Vegetarian Table, by Georgeann Brennan.  The Vegetarian Table is a series of cookbooks written by different authors, one per country.  In addition to the France cookbook, there is a cookbook for American, Japan, Indian, Italy, Mexico, Thailand, and North Africa.  (When I lived in the co-op in college we had the Japan cookbook and I made excellent pickled ginger using their recipe._  One thing that I really like about the French cookbook is that it offers recipes using produce appropriate to every season.  Mediterranean cookbooks so often rely almost entirely on vegetables that are local here only in the summer–peppers, tomatoes, eggplant, etc.  But Brennan includes recipes that use spring vegetables, and also ones that use vegetables that are available in the winter.  Here in Saarbruecken we’re just starting to see the first of the Spring vegetables, but I’ve been stuffed up lately, and so I was craving hot soup rather than fresh Spring vegetables.  I decided to try one of the winter recipes instead.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Pasta and Summer Squash with Tomatoes, Basil, and Pine Nuts

July 20, 2009 at 12:33 pm (A (4 stars, love), Alma's faves, Cook's Illustrated, Italian, Monthly menu plan, Pasta, Starches, Summer recipes) ()

I made this recipe tonight and liked it so much I decided to repost it.  It was originally posted on August 17, 2006.

I’ve often tried to make this sort of light/summery pasta dish without a lot of success. Unless I use a large amount of olive oil or parmesan in the past the dish has always seemed rather bland. But this recipe is light and delicious! This is based on a recipe from Cook’s Illustrated, but I cut down on oil and pasta, and increased the amounts of squash and seasonings. I give options for a number of ingredients depending on how rich, spicy, starchy etc. you want your dinner to be. Read the rest of this entry »

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Annie’s tahini goddess dressing, a copycat recipe

December 17, 2008 at 5:20 am (A (4 stars, love), Alma's faves, Derek's faves, Monthly menu plan, My brain, Quick weeknight recipe, Sauce/dressing) ()

Both Derek and I love Annie’s goddess dressing.  It’s a tahini-based dressing that’s savory and rich, and very satisfying.  Annie’s is not sold in Germany, so I’ve decided to try to figure out how to make something similar myself.   I searched around on the web for a while, and came across this taste test from the San Francisco Chronicle that shows that Annie’s Goddess dressing is indeed better than knockoffs by other companies.  The result of the taste test didn’t surprise me, but it did worry me a bit—if big food companies can’t replicate Annie’s dressing, why do I think I have a shot?

I looked around some more on the web, trying to find a copycat recipe.  Although I found tons of posts where people were asking for the recipe, I could find only one post on recipezaar where someone actually attempted to replicate the original. Although the recipe is rated well, it doesn’t seem to follow the constraints given by the Annie’s ingredient list; I decided not to follow this recipe, but rather to try to figure it out on my own.  I looked at the order of ingredients in the ingredient list (ordered by weight) and the nutritional information to try to figure out how much of each ingredient to use.  My first few tries were pretty awful, but after ten attempts, I think I finally nailed it!  Now we can have Annie’s goddess dressing in Saarbruecken whenever we like.  Or maybe I should call it Fannie’s (Fake-Annie’s).

Read the rest of this entry »

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Basic Oatmeal from Rolled Oats

October 19, 2008 at 11:01 am (Alma's faves, breakfast, B_minus (2 stars, okay), Derek's faves, Grains, Monthly menu plan, My brain, Quick weeknight recipe, Soymilk) (, )

I much prefer oatmeal made from steel-cut oats to oatmeal made from rolled oats, but I haven’t been able to find steel-cut oats in Germany yet. Plus, Derek prefers the flaky texture of rolled oats. Here’s the basic recipe we’ve been using.

Bring to a boil in a small saucepan:

  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • just under 2 cups of liquid (milk, soymilk, water, or a combination)
  • pinch salt

Turn the heat down to medium but keep at a steady simmer, stirring occasionally. If the oatmeal starts to splatter, turn the heat down a little more. Cook until liquid starts to turn creamy, and individual flakes are just starting to break down. When done remove from heat and top with:

  • 2/3 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 Tbs. brown sugar

For variety try adding one (or more) of the following:

  • shredded coconut (unsweetened)
  • chopped nuts or seeds (whole or sliced almonds, hemp hearts, pecans, walnuts…)
  • raisins or other dried fruit
  • fresh or frozen fruit (bananas, apples, sour cherries, raspberries, blueberries, …)
  • use almond or other nut extract instead of the vanilla
  • cocao nibs or chocolate chips

This makes two servings, although we usually don’t split it evenly.  I have a small serving made from 1/3 of a cup of dried rolled oats and Derek has a larger serving made from 2/3 of a cup of dried rolled oats.

Here’s a larger recipe with instructions for our specific stovetop. It makes enough for all three of us for breakfast, with some leftovers (more or less depending on how hungry we are).

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 3.5 cups soymilk
  • 2 pinches of salt
  • 1 Tbsp. vanilla
  • 2 Tbsp. brown sugar
  • ground flax seed (optional)

Instructions:

  1. Add the oats, soymilk, and salt to a large pot (4 quart?). Bring to a boil on left (medium-sized) burner with lid mostly on. Stir occasionally to make sure it doesn’t stick.  Takes about 8 minutes? When it’s close to a boil, turn the right front burner (the small circle) on to level 3 (of 9).
  2. Once it hits a medium boil, move the pot to the small right burner and once it’s simmering, turn the heat down to 2.
  3. Cook until you hit the right consistency (about 12 minutes?), then add vanilla and brown sugar and flax seed.

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