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I’m assuming that most of you know how to make a grilled cheese, and so this is less of a recipe than an ingredient suggestion.  Many of you share my love of kale (greatest food in the world? perhaps).  Butternut squash is up there as well, and I have always loved grilled cheese in just about any form imaginable.  So, really, this is a winning combination, and I stumbled on it kind of by accident.  It may be the height of my sandwich-making achievements thus far.

I first stuck some kale in a grilled cheese a few weeks ago, when we had a few lonely leaves of kale in the fridge that had accidentally frozen and needed to be used quickly.  It wasn’t until the next time I made a kale grilled cheese, a few days later, that I also added squash.  I roasted a butternut squash as a side dish, and only decided to also put the squash in the sandwich at the last minute.  If you’re not just spontaneously adding squash to your sandwiches like I did, this is going to take a little (but not too much) advanced planning because you need to cook the squash before making the grilled cheese.  I cubed the squash and roasted it with olive oil, a little maple syrup, some chile powder, salt, and pepper.

For cheese, I used cheddar, which tends to be the staple cheese in our house and which I really enjoy in grilled cheese.  The sharpness of the cheddar was really nice with the sweet squash and bitter kale.  But I could also imagine swiss being nice here, or a combination of cheeses.

You’re going to want to butter the outsides of your bread, lay down your cheese, and let that melt in a pan.  When the cheese has mostly melted, it’s time to add the squash to one side (I also sprinkled some pepper flakes on the other).  Pile the kale on top of the squash — I’ve found that about half a leaf of kale is good for one sandwich.  You want to squeeze in as much as you can because it will cook down, and it also helps to make sure that your kale is torn into manageable pieces.  Flip the other slice of bread over on top of the pile of kale, press down with a spatula, and flip it a few times until it’s done.  Adding the kale just before you press the two halves of the sandwich together gives it enough time to cook so that it’s an appropriate texture for a sandwich but still chewy and kale-like.

Happy grilled cheese-ing!

Many of you reading this blog already know that I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with my jaw.  Sometimes it works just fine and chews [mostly] without complaint, and other times (like now, as you might have guessed) it refuses to do much of anything at all.  I realized yesterday that I’ve forgotten how to bite things — hopefully biting is the sort of intuitive motion that will come back automatically once I regain some mobility.  But until then, I’m on the mushy foods diet — no chewing (and especially no biting) necessary.  And despite how much I love yogurt, I could only go so long without trying to get a little more creative with the soft food, so I’m here to share a little of it with you.

One of the few side benefits of not being able to chew is that you get to eat more ice cream than usual.  Other benefits include, and are perhaps limited to: discovering the joys of mixing mashed banana into five-grain hot cereal; breaking strawberries into bite-size pieces on the walk home from the farm stand and getting juice all over your fingers; regularly eating spoonfuls of peanut butter and hummus; and treating pesto as a standalone food in its own right, rather than just a sauce or condiment.

I’d been wanting to try kale pesto for a while, and this was a perfect time for it.  Not only did we have a bit of an excess of kale from the farm share (I know, I know, “excess of kale” is an oxymoron…just bear with me), but chewing kale leaves is currently out of the question for me.  I followed this recipe from TasteSpotting, substituting pecans for the walnuts because that’s what we have around.  And let me tell you, if there is one thing you should take away from this post, it’s that you need to make kale pesto.  It is really delicious and can definitely be eaten on its own, not just used as a sauce for pasta or whatever else you tend to do with pesto.  My current favorite no-chewing-necessary meal is a plate of kale pesto, sweet potato, hummus, some chopped tomato, and plain yogurt sprinkled with za’atar (a middle eastern spice blend, if you’re unfamiliar).  It is a meal worth trying even if you can chew — although I wouldn’t blame you for adding in something a little less mushy, like pita or cucumber.

Despite how much ice cream I’ve had license to eat lately, I’ve only made it once since my current jaw troubles began (all you Valley folk out there have probably guessed already that the whole no-chew thing is a pretty excellent excuse to get lots of froyo from GoBerry).  Given how much rhubarb we’ve had this year, I had been wanting to try putting it in ice cream.  I used this recipe from the New York Times, omitting the caramel swirl and using yogurt instead of sour cream, but pretty much following the recipe otherwise.  I do wonder if it’s a little too sweet, but obviously rhubarb has to be sweetened quite a bit and the yogurt did give a nice contrasting tang. I still might cut down on the sugar a little next time, although it really is a nice ice cream.

The next few posts on here will probably all be mushy ones…I’m thinking of trying some new kinds of pureed vegetable soups with all that we’re getting from the farm share.  So keep an eye out for that!  Chewing is so unnecessary, folks.  (Well, sort of.)

(p.s. If you didn’t know, “Eat More Kale” is a reference to this guy in Vermont who makes t-shirts.  He sent me a free shirt once because I wanted a sticker, so that was pretty cool.)

Guys, it is wicked hot outside.  We’ve been submerged in a (thankfully brief, supposedly) heat wave.  All I could think to do today besides just laze around in the cool basement was to make some strawberry frozen yogurt — but more on that later.  First, I want to tell you about the soba noodles we made last night.

 

If you haven’t yet seen the book Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi, you are missing out.  It’s full of beautiful photographs and delicious-sounding vegetarian recipes.  It’s been around our house for a while now, but these noodles are the first thing we’ve made from it.  The dish is a mixture of soba noodles, fried eggplant, mango, onion, and a sesame-vinegar-garlic-pepper sort of dressing, with some cilantro and basil.  We also took a suggestion from the recipe description and added in some tofu, which I definitely recommend.

There are lots more recipes I’d like to try from this book, and you’ll probably be seeing some of them here over the course of the summer!  These soba noodles are awesome.  I suggest you make them.

As for the ice cream update — I didn’t take any photos (too hot to blog? is that an excuse?) but I’m about to freeze up some of David Leibovitz’s strawberry frozen yogurt, with a little cream added because our yogurt is nonfat and I didn’t want it to be too icy.  A couple weeks ago, though, I made this Roasted Strawberry Coconut Milk Ice Cream from Sprouted Kitchen.  It uses coconut milk instead of cream (although it’s not vegan, because it has a custard base), and the roasted strawberries are really good.  I’d recommend making it if you are ice cream-inclined!

Soba noodles with eggplant and mango (from Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi)
1/2 cup rice vinegar
3 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
2 crushed garlic cloves
1/2 fresh red chile, chopped [we used a jalapeno, since we couldn’t find red]
1 tsp toasted sesame oil
zest and juice of 1 lime
1 cup sunflower oil
2 eggplants, cut into 3/4 inch dice
8-9 oz soba noodles
1 large ripe mango, cut into 3/8 inch dice
1 2/3 cup basil, chopped
2 1/2 cups cilantro, chopped
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
firm tofu
 
In a small saucepan gently warm the vinegar, sugar, and salt until the sugar dissolves.  Remove from heat and add the garlic, chile, and sesame oil.  Allow to cool, then add the lime zest and juice.
 
Heat up the oil in a large pan and shallow-fry the eggplant in three or four batches.  Once golden brown remove to a colander, sprinkle liberally with salt, and leave there to drain.  [At this point, we also fried half a block of firm tofu, cut up.]
 
Cook the noodles.  They should take 5-8 minutes to become tender but still al dente.  Drain and rinse well under running cold water.  Shake off as much of the excess water as posible, then leave to dry on a dish towel.
 
In a mixing bowl toss the noodles with the dressing, mango, eggplant, tofu, onion, and herbs.  [The recipe says you can let it sit for 1-2 hours…. but that definitely did not happen 🙂 ].

Well here we go, first post on the blog, and it contains neither honey nor garlic.  Instead, I come to you with roasted chickpeas.

I admit I’d been building up this moment, convinced that I needed to start off with a recipe completely out of the ordinary and “blog-worthy.”  The oatmeal chocolate chip cookies Danielle and I made the other day went unblogged, even though we’re on spring break and I have more time than usual to procrastinate my homework.  I thought I had to wait for the right time and the right recipe and the right light for photographs.  But then Mom came home with a can of chickpeas and now here I am, blogging their way to roastedness.

I’ve been seeing spiced, roasted chickpeas floating around various blogs for a while and wanted to try them out.  They seemed reminiscent of the dried chickpeas I remember being a favorite snack of one of my relatives in Israel, back when I visited for the summer a couple years ago.  And given my recent semi-obsession with kale chips, it only made sense to continue the vegetable-roasting trend, right?  Crunchy chickpeas — how could you go wrong?

After a little poking around the internet to get ideas for different spice combinations, I eventually settled on adapting these Spicy Cinnamon Roasted Chickpeas (“adapting” basically meant adding some ginger and using less paprika).  And they turned out really well!  They are a pretty excellent snack.  Nicely crispy, with a combination of sweetness and spiciness.  I’d like to try them with other flavors, too.  There are lots of different combinations that could be good!

 
Spicy Cinnamon Roasted Chickpeas
 
1 15oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon coriander
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/8 teaspoon ginger
 
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Combine chickpeas, oil, and spices in a bowl and toss to fully coat the chickpeas.  Spread chickpeas out on a baking sheet and roast until they are crispy (mine took about 40 minutes, but start checking them sooner), shaking the pan occasionally to mix them.