Posts tagged ‘recipes’

Celery Root & Potato Gratin

OK, I know this might not sound like the most delicious thing (and I’m certainly moving a long way from marshmallows and the other sweets I’ve been posting about) but this was one of the big successes of my holiday cooking last week. My parents spent the week with us, and I always use their visits to try out new recipes. Gracious guinea pigs that they are, they do not turn up their noses at new flavors like some small people I know and love. But although the boys rejected this one, the rest of us gobbled it up. The celery root is delicate and sweet, the potatoes rich and creamy — it’s a delicious wintery dish.

1 garlic clove, peeled and smashed
1 t butter
1 celery root, about a pound
1 pound potatoes, preferably Yukon Gold or Yellow Finn
1/2 c cream
2 t dijon mustard
1 c grated Gruyere
1 t fresh thyme
salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 375. Rub a gratin dish with the garlic, and then with the butter.

Peel the celery root, quarter, and then slice it 1/4″ thick. Steam for 8-10 minutes, until tender. Remove to a large bowl.

While the celery root slices are steaming, peel and slice the potatoes 1/4″ thick also. Then, once the celery root is out of the steamer, steam potato slices until tender, 5-8 minutes. Add them to the celery root in the bowl.

Mix the cream and mustard together, then pour over the vegetables and toss well. Season with the thyme and salt and pepper to taste. Pour mixture into gratin dish, smooth it out, and cover with the grated cheese.

Bake, covered, for 30 minutes; then uncover and bake an additional 15-20 minutes, until bubbling and nicely browned on top.

Adapted from Deborah Madison’s Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone

Toasted Coconut Marshmallows

OK, these are just too easy not to make. And we’re having a party next week, and these keep a long time, so why not feed the people marshmallows?! The only change I’d make to the recipe is to not toast the coconut for 7 minutes unless you like it burned. That’s all.

This picture is of the giant marshmallow before I cut it into dozens of marshmallow babies. I’m tempted now to make a multi-layered marshmallow birthday cake someday; wouldn’t it be beautiful? You could dye the layers different colors with food coloring, cut them into whatever shapes you like. . . Sweet, fun, and so jiggly, too!

Ben’s Whole Wheat Bread

Ben’s been reading cookbooks lately, really reading them, like bedtime stories. After our bedtime routine of two picture books and a chapter of (currently) A Cricket in Times Square, Ben reads aloud to Eli, who is very patient about being read to sleep with recipes for pesto and salad dressing (though I do sometimes wonder how this affects his dreams).

And because Ben’s a reading and writing kind of guy, it didn’t surprise me that reading cookbooks would lead him to write out recipes, but now he’s also starting to invent his own. He didn’t get very innovative with his recipes for guacamole or roasted potatoes (both of which he made for the extended family over Thanksgiving), but the other day he wrote out a recipe for bread that he’s been begging me to help him make.

I was torn. On the one hand, I want to encourage his kitchen adventures. On the other, it just didn’t look like a recipe that would turn out very well. I didn’t want him to be disappointed, and I didn’t want to waste food. So we sat down and compared his recipe to a similar one from his cookbook, we talked about the chemistry of baking, and we talked about not wasting food. He took it all in very seriously, but was ultimately not swayed. He wanted to bake his bread recipe, as written. So we did, and I’m happy to report, it turned out just fine — a nice, wheaty soda bread. So here’s the recipe, exactly as Ben wrote it, with my comments in brackets.

Whole-Wheat Bread

You’ll Need
¾ c + ½ c whole-wheat flour
½ c warm water
1/3 c cornmeal
1 package (1/4 ounce) dry yeast [not really doing anything in the recipe, so you could cut it]
3 tablespoons + ½ teaspoon granulated sugar
½ teaspoon salt
1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
2 tablespoons + ¼ teaspoons wheat germ
¼ teaspoon baking powder
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter [I talked Ben down from a full cup of butter, so we used 1/2 cup, melted]

Measuring cups & spoons
Bread pan
Cooling rack

Preheat oven to 375 F.
Measure the flour, cornmeal & butter into the bread pan
Add the yeast and salt
Now add the water, sugar, baking soda & baking powder
Add the wheat germ
Bake up to ½ hour [it took exactly half an hour. This surprised me almost more than how good the bread tasted]

Note: This bread will taste good with some raspberry jam (page 77) [a reference to the jam recipe still to come in his hypothetical cookbook]

Edited to add: we ultimately halved the recipe (which delighted my fraction-loving boy) so a full recipe might need to bake longer than half an hour. Bake until the top is browned and a tester comes out clean.

Espresso Cookie-Tired

First, there was Stupid Tired. We’d been parents less than a week, and were driving the still-unfamiliar route to the pediatrician’s office for Ben’s first check-up when I said to Tony, “Shouldn’t you turn here?” And he responded, “Aren’t you driving?” (The irony of course is that now we could drive the route in our sleep.)

Then, there was Desperate Tired. The stand-out (although really, there’ve been so many times, it’s hard to keep track) was my first morning home after a trip with Ben to visit my sister in Virginia. Ben was about 8 months old. He hadn’t slept particularly in Virginia, and now on our first day back he woke for the day at 4:30 AM, Tony had gone in to work around 6:30, and by 9 I was lying on the living room floor, out of my head exhausted, crying pathetic tears and letting Ben crawl all over me.

Today didn’t start out seeming like a day when I’d realize a new level of Tired, but there were 4 clamorous kids (only one of them mine) in the house all morning and then a too-short nap from Eli. We followed-up the nap with some rough-housing on the big bed — at least I could be horizontal, right? We were baby cats, and then we were baby dogs. We did bouncing, and then we made a fort with the comforter. And then there was more bouncing. And maybe it was the oxygen-deprivation in the fort, but all of a sudden I realized I was… waking up with Eli jumping on me! Hmm. Don’t know how much time was lost.

Clearly (and I know not every exhausted mother would respond this way) it was time to do some baking, and Mayan Chocolate Cookies seemed like the right call. I tore the recipe out of the San Francisco Chronicle a few years ago and hadn’t tried them till today. They’re worth making. Even when you’re not Espresso-Cookie Tired.

for the dough:
1 ½ c flour
1 ½ t baking powder
½ t salt
½ t cinnamon
1 t instant espresso powder
¼ t ground black pepper
1/8 t cayenne pepper
¾ c unsweetened cocoa
¾ c butter
¾ c sugar
1 egg
2 t vanilla

for the filling:
about ½ c chocolate chips
about ¼ c white sugar

Sift together dry ingredients.

Beat together butter and sugar until light and fluffy; add egg and vanilla and beat well. Add dry ingredients and blend. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350.

Line a baking sheet with parchment. Put chocolate chips and sugar in separate bowls. Pinch off a walnut-sized piece of dough and press an indentation in the center; insert 4 chocolate chips and mold the dough around them to enclose completely. Roll the dough into a ball, roll the ball in the sugar, and place on baking sheet. Continue with remaining dough.

Bake for 8 minutes. Do not overbake; they’re best when still a little moist in the center.

Early Morning Applesauce Muffins

5:30 AM: I hear one of the kids get up and use the bathroom. I give thanks for independent children and roll back over to sleep.

5:40 AM: Whispering. Groaning. Louder whispering. I haul myself out of bed and head down the hall to find Ben’s buddy standing at the foot of his bed. “Ben? Ben! Ben? Are you awake?” Ben answers with a groan and rolls over.

5:43 AM: I take M’s hand and lead him downstairs, where he proceeds to tidy up. “Hey?! What’s this train doing here? It doesn’t go here! Hey, that’s silly! There’s a book on the floor!” I watch him, stunned. My children ease into the day slowly, like ovens warming to temperature. This one’s ready to party. Also, my children don’t clean. I wonder what will happen if I leave; will he just clean my whole house?

5:45 AM: M tires of tidying, and rejects my offers of books and TV. Clearly, it’s time to make muffins:

1 c. old fashioned oatmeal
1 c. applesauce
1 lg. egg, beaten
2 tbsp. plus 1 tsp. vegetable oil
1 tbsp. double acting baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 c. milk, orange or apple juice
3/4 c. whole wheat flour
1/4 sugar (optional, depending on whether your applesauce is sweetened)
1/2 c. cranberries, dried cranberries or raisins (optional)
Butter 12 (3 inch) muffin cups or use muffin liners.

Preheat oven to 375°F degrees.

Stir together the oatmeal, applesauce, juice or milk, egg, and oil. Set aside.

Stir together the flour, baking powder, soda and cinnamon. Make a well in the center, and add the applesauce mixture. Stir until well combined, but do not over beat.

Add raisins or cranberries if desired. Pour into the muffin tin. Each cup should be 2/3 full.

Bake 15-20 minutes, or until a tester comes out clean.

Cool on a rack for 15 minutes before removing muffins.

Makes 12 muffins.

Variation: Substitute 1/4 teaspoon ginger and 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg for the cinnamon.

By the time the muffins were out of the oven, the rest of the kids were up and ready to eat. Not a bad way to start the day.

Ben’s Chocolate Honey Cake

Eli and Ben were both very busy in the play kitchen today before dinner. Eli was making “salad,” tossing the wooden vegetables into the salad spinner, and then sitting on the plunger to make the thing spin with his butt (I use a different salad spinner).

Ben was making cake, which he presented to me with a flourish, and then offered to write the recipe out for me. I don’t have a picture of the cake, because I was given an empty loaf pan from which to taste, but here’s the recipe. Enjoy!

Summer’s Fruit and Cornmeal Cake

Goodness, this is a delicious cake! It’s quite a bit like last year’s Easy Summer Cake, though it’s got a higher proportion of cake to fruit, and the cornmeal gives it a nice crunch. I made mine with yogurt instead of sour cream, and served it with vanilla ice cream and some more fresh berries. Yum.

Shower Gel Cinnamon Rolls

A few months ago, as a bit of a joke, I gave Tony a bottle of Philosophy‘s “Cinnamon Buns” shower gel. It smells remarkably like cinnamon buns, which is why I can’t use the stuff to wash myself, but I noticed that it has a recipe on the label. And I’m no snob about recipes; if it looks good, I’ll try it, whether it comes from an in-flight magazine or a food package or, apparently, a bottle of shower gel. This one looked too simple not to try. And they’re good, though I think next time I’d toss in some raisins, and then probably frost them, too.

Combine in a large bowl:
1/4 c warm milk
1/2 c sugar
1 t salt
1 T cinnamon
4 T soft butter
2 eggs

Set aside to cool slightly while you combine

1 pkg dry yeast
1/4 c warm water

Add the yeast mixture to the milk mixture, and then beat in 1 1/2 cups of flour. Cover and set aside to rise for an hour.

After the dough’s risen, add another cup of flour, blend well, and knead until smooth.

Put the dough into a buttered mixing bowl and let rise until doubled in size. Then punch down, shape into 8-10 rolls, place in a buttered baking dish (I used a 9″ pie dish, the recipe is vague on details like this) and let rise another hour. Bake at 400 for 15 minutes, or until golden on top.

Pasta with Fresh Corn and Shitake Mushrooms

We have Tony to thank for this recipe; he was inspired by the fabulous corn and shitake side dish served at the Slanted Door, and turned it into a dinner (with some carmelized tofu) that the whole family loved.

Pasta with Fresh Corn and Shitake Mushrooms

4 ears corn, removed from the cob
12 oz. shitake mushrooms
1 lb short pasta (campanelle or something ideally with a little “scoop” to it… orecchiette would also be good)
2-3 stalks lemongrass (optional, but good)
1 “thumb” of fresh ginger, minced
4 cloves garlic, minced
3 tbsp finely chopped cilantro
soy sauce
peanut or canola oil
ground black pepper to taste

1 ounce soy sauce
2 ounces sherry
2 tsp sesame oil
6 ounces veggie stock
1 1/2 tbsp. corn starch, dissolved in a little water

Put up a big pot of water to boil for the pasta.

Combine all the sauce ingredients in a Pyrex measuring cup — total liquid should be just a little more than a cup.

Trim the stems off the mushrooms and wipe off any excess dirt with a paper towel. Slice the mushrooms into 1/4 inch strips.

Take the lemongrass stalks and cut them into 1 inch pieces. Crush the pieces with the handle of your knife.

Add the pasta to the water and cook as directed by the box, testing frequently.

Heat about a tbsp of oil over medium high heat in a large skillet and add the mushrooms. Stir them often. After a few minutes they’ll start to give off some liquid and reduce in size. Add the lemongrass, if using. After another few minutes, add all the garlic and half of the ginger and stir constantly for another minute or two. Add a generous dash of soy sauce, stir vigorously for about 10 seconds and remove to a bowl.

Add another tbsp of oil to the pan, and when it’s hot, add the corn, stirring frequently. Cook for just a minute or two.

While the corn cooks, pick out the lemongrass stalks from the mushrooms and discard.

Add the remaining ginger and black pepper to the corn if desired. Cook for about another minute, and as with the mushrooms, add a dash of soy sauce and stir vigorously for 10 seconds. Return the mushrooms to the pan just to get them hot again.

Pour in the sauce and cook for just another 30 seconds until it begins to thicken. Remove from heat.

When the pasta is cooked, drain it well and return it to the pot. Add the corn and mushroom mixture and the cilantro to the pasta and combine thoroughly.


Pizza Dough

This is the best recipe I’ve made yet for pizza that you grill; try it out!

1 1/4 oz envelope yeast (or 2 1/4 t)
3/4 c warm water
1 3/4 c flour
1 1/2 t salt
1 1/2 t olive oil

Stir the yeast, 1 T flour, and 1/4 c warm water together in a small bowl and let sit until it’s bubbled up and creamy-looking, about 5 minutes.

In a large bowl, stir together 1 1/4 c flour and the salt; then add the yeast, oil and remaining 1/2 c water. Stir until smooth.

Stir in enough additional flour (about 1/2c) so that the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl, then turn it onto a floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 8 minutes.

Let rise on a generously floured surface until doubled in bulk, about 1 1/4 hours (or stick it in the fridge, in a bowl, and let rise all day; bring to room temperature before shaping).

When you’re ready to shape the dough, don’t punch it down but dredge it in flour and then hold it up with both hands moving around the circle of dough like a steering wheel, letting gravity pull the dough down. Once it’s stretched to about 7″ around, lay it on a well-floured board or pizza peel and stretch it out to about 9″.

Let the dough rest 10-20 minutes before grilling.

When you’re ready to make pizza, preheat the grill on high for 5-10 minutes, then oil well. Slide the dough onto the grill and bake until browned on the bottom (about 5 minutes). Remove from the grill, turn the dough over, and put your toppings on the grilled side. Now turn the grill down to medium, slide the topped pizza dough back on to the grill, and close the grill to cook the pizza. Check after 5 minutes, and continue grilling till the cheese is bubbly and the bottom of the crust is browned.