Saturday, January 31, 2009

Home Made Hummus and Winter Tabouleh on Home Made Pita

Yeah, I totally made pita. That's what happens when I want a specific bread and we don't have any, but we do have flour. And lemme tell you, they were the best pitas I've ever had.

Start with tap-hot water and two-thirds of a cup of steel-cup oats. This is for the Winter Tabouleh, not the pita, so if you're not making that, skip. (note: normally, this is bulgar wheat, but I didn't have any, and oats are wintery. Be sure they're 'steel cut'-- rolled oats will only get squishy.)

Make the pitas thusly:
Mix two teaspoons of yeast with a third cup of warm water and let it sit whil you prep the rest. I added a blob of brownsugar to give the yeast something to eat.

Sift three cups of flour into a big ol' bowl with a teaspoon and a half of salt. 

Add a tablespoon of honey / sugar / sweet stuff and two tablespoons of olive oil / veggie oil / melted butter. I used honey and oilve oil because I figured they'd be more historically accurate. mix in the yummy yeast-water; it should look like soy milk if the yeast has woken up-- thick and offwhite and creamy, a little frothy. Add up to another cup of water while you keep stirring-- add it in spashes, and stop when the flour is all wet and it forms a big sticky ball in the bowl. I used a rice paddle because I'm convinced they work for everything that needs hand-stirring, but, like, a wooden spoon or the like would work too. I guess a standup mixer would work; I don't have one, so I don't know, but I do know that some of them come with bread attatchments. I think they're cheating, because bread isn't that hard to make. 

Flour the counter and dump the breadball onto it. Knead it for ten minutes or so by folding the far edge toward you and squishing it in with a rolling-way-from-you sort of motion. Like making big circles: pull the edge toward you and then squoosh all the middle parts away from you. Then turn it and do it again. And again and again and again, adding more flour whenit even looks like it might get sticky-- but just a dusting. Too much makes it crap. When it feels firm and even, roll it all back into a ball and oil the scraped-out mixing bowl. There shouldn't be much to scrape if it's mixed well before hand. Drop the breadball back in, and flip it or spray it so the top is oiled, too... just not, like drenched. You want it like tanning spray, so it doesn't dry out while it's rising. Cover it with a clean towel, sprinkle some water over the top, and let it sit for one and a half to two hours.

While that' sitting, make all your yummies.

Hummus is easy: a drained can of chickpeas, a bunch of garlic, some lemon juice (a few tablespoons; i like mine lemony), salt and pepper, either some tahini, some sesame seeds, or a very very very small amount of sesame oil. Very small. Like, eighth of a teaspoon or less, or that's all you taste. Blenderize or super-mash it while adding a little olive oil at a time until it looks like hummus and has a spreadable consistency. Chickpeas can take alot of oil, so this isn't really all that difficult.

The Winter Tabouleh is easy, too, but takes more time. Take your soaked oats-- they should be eatably soft but not mushy-- and drain them as best as you can without squahing them into goo. Finely mince a cup and a half of carrot tops (organic and clean so you can eat them, of course. they taste like strong parsley, which is the more usual Tablouleh ingredient, and are a little tougher, so just be sure to mince them really small), and toss it in. Chop some tomatoes-- I used about a handful of grape tomatoes, chopped in half and then in quarters. A little salt and pepper, some olive oil and lemonjuice, a lovely good mix, and there you are.

Preheat the oven to 450ish. 400 if you have a hot oven; I don't. put a cookie sheet upside down on the middle rack if you don't have a pizza stone (most of us dont).

Now, back to the pitas. Once they've risen for two hoursish, re-flour the counter and dump the bred on it. Squish it down a little-- just a little. Working it will squish it more, and you want some of the yeasty gases to stay in. I just patted it like I was making a snowman or something. Chop it into eight sections (i used a metal flipper because I don't have a decently sharp knife or a board scraper), and ball them into little rounds. Let them sit for 20 minutes under the dampish towel. When they've rested, flatten them down a little and then pretand you're making little pizzas-- pick them up and stretch them and pull them into little rounds about 6 or 7 inches across and less then a half inch thick. When the oven is hot, toss them directly onto the hot cookie sheet and keep the oven closed for three minutes. You can take them out now, if you like really soft pitas, but I like mine slightly toastier, so I flipped them and waited another minute and a half, then pulled them. Wrap them up in a towl to keep them warm and tender while the others cook-- I could cook three at a time, so it took three goes with one batch of only two. In ten minutes, you've got pitas!

The way they puff up, they make their own little pockets. When they're cool enough to handle, stuff them with the hummus and tabouleh and nom nom nom to your heart's content!

CSA Soup!

Unfortunately, the pictures I took of the haul were entirely blacked out by a stuck shutter that I didn't realize I had, so you can't see it, but I figired it out in time to take this picture of the soup I made the first night:

Note the offcentered-ness because the lcd is still busted. But I kind of like it.

Anyway, it's made like so:
Into the biggest pot you have, throw a bunch of broth. I used the last of our turkey stock (one old yogurt tub, so, like, two cups? three?) and a tub of roasted chicken stock (probably about two cups). Turn the heat on and let them start to melt as you prep, if they're frozen; if not, leave the heat off until everything's in.

sautee some thinly sliced meat. I used chuck, which is fatty and flavorsome. Add it to the broth.

Sautee an onion and a few cloves of garlic (but a few, I mean, like, five; we're garlic-folk) in olive oil until they're all yummy and golden. Toss them into the broth.

Chop and toss in two stalks of broccoli, florets and as much as the stalk as will chop easily (stalks are tasty and full of fiber!); four carrots and the minced tops of one of them, if the carrots are organic and with tops; two big red potatoes, skins on; a handful or so of fingerling potatoes, skins on; a half to one whole sweet potato, skins on; a half-pint of wee little tomatoes, chopped some.

Add salt, pepper, thyme, rosemary and basil. 

Boil it a bit until everything's eatably soft, probably somewhere around a half hour, then add a big handful of chopped fresh spinach and continue cooking until the spinach is all soft and melty.

Eat it up yum yum!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009


Our first csa package came in! And our second, because someone else canceled the order after they were on the road, so we got literally a full-table-top's worth of food for 35$! I have pictures, but I can't find the cord; I'll post them later. Here's the rundown: like 10 massive dark-red sweet potatoes; six onions; four pink lady apples, which are amazing, all tart and sweet and all the seeds are fat and healthy, not shriveled and missing; two pints of perfect strawberries; two pints of grape tomatoes; four, count them, four heads of broccoli; two huge cukes; four fat little oranges; four fat little pears; two big bunches of spinach; two heads of red cabbage; two bundles of mid-sized carrots with edible tops because they're organic; and a bonus head of lettuce. Lettuce! Local trumps strictly seasonal, and I haven't had a salad in over a month!

Tonight I'm making veggie soup with the almost-last of the stock I made, and a few handfuls of dried beans + carrots, onions, sweet potato, white potato and fingerling potato we already had, spinach and carrot tops and some beef we have in the freezer and little tomatoes! I'm so excited about the tomatoes! I haven't had one in ages, and the last one I had was not local or even semi-seasonal and tasted like crud.

I already ate teh strawberries, and they're amazing. And one of the apples. And some of the greens...

Monday, January 5, 2009

Winter Fruit Salad

The recipe called for satsumas, and I think that's the same as a tangerine, so that's what I used. Anyway, here's what I did: The zest of one tangerine; One tangerine, peeled and segmented; One red delicious apple, chopped; A handful of raisins; A palmfull of shredded coconut; A few tablespoons of miracle whip; All the juices from the cutting board.

At first, it seemed a bit strange, but a few hours later, when the flavors had merged more, it was actually quite tasty. I wish we had chunks of coconut instead of shavings, though, so they'd be more noticable.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

AYrOfLvngSsnlly Day 4

I finally got to go shopping and even though the Downtown Market wasn't open because the City is stoopit, and we had to go to WinnDixie, I managed to get a ton of veggies for less than 40$. The total goes like so: 2 huge sweet potatoes, 5lbs red potatoes, 5lbs white potatoes, 1lb onions, 2lbs mixed nuts, a bokchoi, a leek, a bag of tangerines, 2 braeburns, 2 honeycrisps, 1 mackintosh, a cabbage, and a bundle of green onions. With the chicken C bought and the beef H bought, as well as the two acorn squashes we still have, I'll have tons of things to make dinners and lunches out of!

I passed up the collard greens because I know Kale is in, but I wasn't sure about collards, and the turnips and rutabegas and beets because I'm not sure how to cook them and I was running out the monies. They'll be on my market list for the Weds Pier Farmer's Market.

I'm envisioning stirfry and potato-leek soup and potato hash. Oven-roasted sweet-potato fries. Miso soup with seasonal veggies and chicken. Baked apples. 

I also got two new cookbooks that I'll likely review here: one that's devoted to all-natural cooking and is wall-to-wall with great recipes for things usually considered weeds and birdfood, with a great long section in the middle on dozens of interesting breads -- and one that's 300 potato recipes, and I predict it'll be my go-to through potato season.

To follow my escapades read the Year of Living Seasonally Blog.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

A Year of Eating Seasonally, Day 1

Happy new year!

And now I'm going to attempt to eat only what's in season somewhere near me, or in places with climates like mine. I have a blog about the experience here, and I'm planning on writing a book after it's done and I can make some sense of it.

But here is where I'm posting the actual food info. 

Sharp White Cheddar and Red Delicious Apple Sandwich -- There's some american cheese in there, too, but it totally wasn't needed. The Cabot cheddar melted way better than I expected, and made the whole thing gushy and wonderful. I made it thusly: on one slice of bread, I put the cheese, and on the other, a slice of american, the thinly-slices apples, salt and pepper, then I toasted the sides indipendently in the toaster oven so the insides would all be cooked. I squashed them together when they came out and voila! Winter-season sammich. American cheese has no season, but cheddar is a late-in-the-year cheese traditionally, because it's aged, and cheeses are available year-round anyway, as their purpose is to preserve milk. Apples are in season now, and even this red delicious, which is a kind of apple I generally consider kind of mealy and dull, was more sprigtly and interesting than usual, and held up against the sharp cheddar very well, as well as talking the savory flavors of salt and pepper well. A great breakfast, and it only took about seven minutes to make, including the slicing and arranging and toasting. I think I'll leave off the proccessed-cheesefood next time, and maybe made my own bread so it's denser and toasts better, but even squishy sandwich bread is good like this.

I ate another apple for lunch, and then dinner was sushi, and after a little research, joy of all joys, I discovered that eel is winter-seasonal, the harvest beginning around the holidays in all the countries it's eaten in, so I didn't have to give up my favorite rolls! I had one YinYang, which is eel and cream cheese (which is one of the cheeses that's traditionally home-made every day, and not really seasonal), and the Banzai, which is eel with avocado, which is in season in Florida this time of year. To round it out, I had steamed edamame, which I know for a fact come into the restaurant frozen, anc which grow most of the year anyway, and two bowls of miso, which is year-round. Ginger tea is recommended for winter because it's warming, and preserved ginger has no season.

All in all, not a bad start to my project! The first day out, we ate out, and while there isn't much else on the menu I could have eaten (the tepanyaki veggies and the tempura veggies are both full of zucchini and other off-seasn things, and at least half the noodle dishes are a mix of seasons), these two rolls were fine, as were smoked salmon and tuna and oily white fishes like grouper, if I'd chosen to go that way.

Christmas Baking!

Only a week late, too!

Christmas is always about the baking to me. In years when I don't have alot of money, I just bake in bulk anad give people bags full of four or five different kinds of cookies, sugarplums, magic cookie bars, anything else I can make. This year, we (C and I) went over to A&Ls to do our baking with them. Here's what we made: 

Cookies: C made ginger-molasses cookies that were supposed to be roll-out cookies, but wound up being balled-cookies because the dough was too sticky, but that really worked in their favor. They were moist and chewy, spicy without being overpowering, and mostly tasted like molasses-- and they kept the other cookies in the box moist with their own moistness. I made my classic sugar-cookie recipe which isn't kidding out the sugar-- two cups to the three cups of flour. L made snickerdoodles, his favorite, which came out light and crisp and the perfect balance of swweet and cinnamon, and were amazing dipped in the hot alibaba tea we had (earl grey boiled on the stove with a cinnamon stick and some sugar, borrowed from the Alibaba Middle-Eastern Restaurant in Longwood). C and A both made magic cookie bars, and they were so different. C made the classic gramcracker-butter crust with sweetened condensed milk, semisweet chocolate chips and coconut on top, while A made ones that started with a cocoa-powder, sugar, flour and butter crust, then mixed the sweet milk with eggs before topping with big fat milk chocolate chips and coconut. Both were to die for, and I kept eating them until I'd eaten most of what we took home and everyone else was wondering where they went. And now I'm ten pounds heavier.
Sugarplums! As in 'visions of...'. I made these for the first time last year, very soon after we moved into this house, and they're one of my favorite things to make. Very simple, no bake, very tasty, and actually pretty good for you. They're one part pitted dates, an equal amount of toasted nuts (which I usually just heat up in a pan on the stove), twice as many dried apricots, about a quarter of a bear of honey (I really like wildflower, because it's strong enough to still be tasted around the other flavors, and I adore the flavor of honey), about half an oranges' worth of zest (or orange liquor, or both), and tons of cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and allspice (about twice as much cinnamon as the others, somewhere around two or three tablespoons). Throw it all in a food processor, and pulse it until it's all small bits and it suddenly becomes a ball that spins around the bowl instead of blending further. Scoop out by the spoonfull into your palm, and roll them like meatballs, making sure to wash your hands when they become sticky enough that the balls stick to you instead of themselves. You can dust them with sugar or powdered sugar, but I susually just stuff them in my face.

I think this is about the most versatile recipe. Last year, I added raisins and chopped dried apples and some quick-cook oats and used two different kinds of honey, and they were just as good. Figs might also be good, and one recipe called for actual dried plums, which might be appropriate.

And then there was the cake. Not a light cake, either in weight or in calories, but fab. It's got two cups of white sugar, almost a cup of brown sugar, rum, multiple tablespoons of cinnamon and other wintery spices, a cup or two of mixed chopped nuts, two apples, three eggs, a cup of oil, and mounds of yumminess. I oiled the pan like woah, and it still stuck it was so sugary, but it came across as rich rather than too sweet. I think it'd be great warm with icecream or a maple-butter sauce, room-temp with dusting powder or a glaze, or with about any combination of fresh and dry fruit that will go in a cake. The oil leeches out of it as it cools, which is a little weird, but when you're eating it, it doesn't taste oily; I think next time I make it, I'm going to half the oil and make up some of the difference with butter, which should stay emulsified better.