Friday, February 26, 2010

veggie stock update

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We consulted our chef neighbors about veggie stock. As it turns out, you should only cook vegetable stock for 45 min., not a couple of hours. Chicken or other meat broths should cook longer so that the bones soften, but vegetable broth does not take nearly as long. Oops.

--J

Cous Cous on the Loose Loose

Couscous (pronounced /ˈkʊskʊs/ or /ˈkuːskuːs/)

So many grains so little time. I grew up eating couscous. Couscous with pistachios, couscous with apricots, couscous alongside asparagus and grilled salmon. I still love this grain dearly, but have to say I prefer the nutty, protein rich quinoa over couscous, unless were talking about Israeli couscous. Im sure many people are aware that couscous has it's roots in Moroccan cooking, and feels very much at home in a tagine with roasted veggies. In Libya, Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia, couscous is generally served with carrots, potatoes, turnips, etc.. cooked in a spicy or mild broth or stew but, I am here to introduce you to a different type of couscous... Israeli couscous. Israeli couscous is a small, round semolina pasta that should not be confused with the tiny, yellow North African couscous. Sometimes called pearl couscous or maftoul, it resembles the pasta shape ancini pepe or as my Bubee calls them "bebbles".

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We have been cooking with bebbles a lot lately! Yesterday, I got home from work early because of the 2nd monster blizzard to hit Brooklyn. We had some beets and sweet potatoes that J roasted on Tuesday, and they needed to be consumed. I had some dandelion greens in the fridge that were begging to be sauteed with garlic and oilve oil. So, with all these ingredients I weighed my options... I reached to a mason jar that contained a scant 1/2 cup of Israeli couscous and put it on the stove to cook. I cook Israeli couscous like I cook pasta, boil till tender and then drain. While the bebbles were cooking, I chopped some garlic and sauteed the dandelion greens and added the beets and sweet potatoes. Once the couscous was cooked, I added it to the veggie mix and here is what happened

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My couscous turned PINK I had a feeling that would happen... These babies tend to have a tendency to make a dish blush
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The following is my recipe for Bubbee's Blushing Bebbles or if you're into the whole brevity thing, COUSCOUS. The food so nice they named it twice.

Ingredients

1/2 cup of Israeli couscous (we get ours in bulk at Fairway)
1 clove of garlic, chopped
1 bunch or organic dandelion greens
1/2 cup roasted red beets
1/2 roasted sweet potatoes
Olive oil for sauteeing

Methodology

In a pot, boil water as you would for pasta (about 1 1/2 cups on high heat). Add the couscous and boil till tender. While the water is heating up, chop your clove of garlic, wash and cut he dandelions greens, and heat up a skillet with enough olive oil to sautee the greens. Once the skillet is hot, add the garlic, stir until fragrant and add the greens. Sautee the greens until the wilt but retain their bright green color. At this point the couscous should be done, if it isn't be patient, twiddle your fingers, water the plants... Ok ok, add the beets and potatoes to the greens and warm them up bit using the residual heat from the greens. Once your couscous is tender, drain it. Add the couscous to the greens, beets, and sweet potatoes and mix it all together on low heat. The couscous will turn pink.

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Serve immediately and enjoy!

-R.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Veggie stock

To make good soup, you generally need good stock. We've used boxed veggie stock plenty of times, but it gets expensive and usually isn't as delicious. Making stock is really easy and it's a great way to get rid of old veggies. We made this stock on a blizzardly Sunday . Not only were we able to use this to make delicious minestrone soup, we cleaned out the fridge by using tons of random veggies!

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You can use nearly any vegetable. We used mushrooms, carrots, carrot greens, celery, leeks, green beans, fresh herbs (dill, rosemary) onions, and some beets, which gave it a dark, reddish color.

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I don't generally follow a recipe for stock. I used 15-17 cups of water for this stock, and as many veggies as possible. Just use more water than veggies.

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Cook for a few hours. Strain. Store. And use to make soup for the week.

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No knead bread

I really want to learn to bake delicious bread. I stayed on campus one summer, sans meal-plan, and lived in a house with someone who made bread every Sunday so she could have sandwiches every day. Was I jealous? Of course. Did I try to learn? No. I saw the yeast and her intense kneading techniques and got freaked out. I could not imagine waiting for dough to rise for hours—I was a busy lady!

No knead bread has become all the rage. Mark Bittman wrote a
NEW YORK TIMES article about it in 2006 and countless food bloggers have detailed their experiences. I found this recipe at HONEY AND JAM and she followed a recipe from IVORY HUT. All of their loaves look incredible—brown, crusty, delicious. My first attempt was decent. I probably should have baked it longer—it got crusty, but not terribly brown. There is always next time. All-in-all, this was very easy. I mixed the dough together and let it set while I was at work, at which point R came home from work and helped with the next steps. Team work!

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Ingredients:
3 cups of lukewarm water
1 1/2 tablespoons active dry yeast
1 1/2 tablespoons coarse salt

6 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

Process:
--Mix water, yeast and salt in large mixing bowl. Let this sit for a little while, then add flour and mix with a wooden spoon until combined. You do not need to knead this (duh), but I mixed it a bit with my hands and shaped it a bit.
--Leave this dough covered (but not airtight—I made that mistake and it popped open) for a few hours. I left mine for about 4 hours. When it has risen, the dough can be used or stored in the fridge. I baked half and saved the other half for pizza (omg, yes! Pizza dough! So many options!).
--Take a chunk of the dough, about the size of a grapefruit and gently pull sides down to the bottom, rotating until it becomes round and smooth. Let sit for 40 min uncovered. Next, dust some flour on the loaf and slit the top.
-- Twenty minutes before baking, put cast iron skillet or pizza stone in the middle rack and put a broiler pan underneath. I don’t have a cast iron skillet or pizza stone, so I used a cast iron pot with a lid. Preheat oven to 450.
--Slide loaf into pot and pour 1 cup of hot water into the broiler pan. Put lid on pot and shut the oven door to keep steam inside. Bake for 30-40 min until brown and crusty, remove and let cool.

I'm actually not a huge fan of white bread, country white bread, french white bread, whatever. As I mentioned, this was my first attempt, so I didn't want to mess around with the recipe too much. Now that I know I can make bread, I am going to experiment with different grains. I know you are excited.

--J

Monday, February 15, 2010

Cupid Shot Me Right in the Hamburger Buns

HAPPY VALENTINE'S DAY

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Love, O.M.G FOOD

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Thursday, February 11, 2010

An Old Favorite:

Tomato Soup and Bee El Tees

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Back in the days of old, when the dinosaurs roamed the earth, wayyyyyy back when I was first wooing J, we hade a night of ol fashioned goodness. Goodness that can only be found in the depths of a bowl of homemade tomato soup. Campbell's you can kiss my tuchus. I do believe the night we made this delicious dinner it was snowing, it was mid January, and we were full swing of our love affair with Sex and the City. What better way to keep warm and aware of the next Jimmy Choo? Tomato soup and Bee El Tees with avocado.

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The soup itself is simple. The hardest element in making this soup is avoiding the urge to put garlic and onion in it because if you do... you end up with tomato sauce and at that point you should just throw on a pot of water and boil up some pasta, chump. The soup gets it's delicious earthy and tangy flavor from the melting of sauteed leeks and fire roasted tomatoes. Do I hear wedding bells? You will need some veggie stock for this soup and if you don't make your own than I suppose a box version will do.

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Tomato Soup

1 28oz can of Muir Glen Organic Fire Roasted whole tomatoes
1 8oz can of Muir Glen tomato sauce
1 bunch of leeks (tops cut off) chopped into small pieces
2 cups of veggie stock
Butter for sauteeing (about a pat)
1/2 cup heavy cream *

Heat up a good size pat of butter in a dutch oven on med-high heat. My Le Creuset is 3 1/2 qts so anything that size or larger will be sufficient. To that butter add the leeks and sautee until the leeks get transparent and fragrant. Add the can of tomatoes and the tomato sauce and stir. Toss in a pinch or two of salt and pepper. You will cook this concoction till the whole tomatoes break down. At this point you have the base for your soup. Transfer the soup into the food processor or blender and add a cup of veggie stock to achieve a soup constistency. The tomato mixture resembles a thick chunky mama sauce and that's not what were aiming for. Once you have reached a full bodied soup consistency transfer your soup back into the dutch oven. Heat on low, and right before serving add 1/4 cup of cream to your soup. Stir and serve. *soy milk can be substituted for a vegan rendition.


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My infatuation with sandwiches started when I was young. I'm not afraid to tell the world that my mom packed me a brown bag lunch until I graduated high school. Everyday, I had a sandwich, a veggie, a fruit and a juice box. My sammies were usually a p.b. & j, back when you could eat peanut butter in public schools without the child sitting next to you going into anaphylactic shock (no disrespect to the allergy prone) or a cheese sandwich with spicy brown mustard on jewish rye (raise up your cup, mazel tov). Fast forward future, I still love sandwiches, they're easily my favorite food. There are many haters in the world who don't think that a vegetarian sandwich can be any good, and to that we at O.M.G Food say "STFU". Over at Eat to Blog, they have an incredible vegetarian banh mi recipe. Here is our recipe for a Bee El Tee with Avocado.



Bee El Tees with Avocado

*We substituted traditional bacon with Tempeh Fakin. That's something to squeel about.

The recipe is for one sandwich so double the amounts if you're entertaining or just damn hungry!

4 strips of tempeh fakin (Bee)
3 pieces of red leaf lettuce (El)
4 cherry tomatoes (Tee)
1/2 of a ripe avocado (save the pit for planting)
1 tbls of
home-made mayo
2 pieces of crusty multi-grain bread

In a grill-pan, heat up a tblsp of olive oil and grill the tempeh. While the tempeh is grilling, slice the tomatoes, and prep your lettuce (shred or not to shred, that is the question). Slice and remove the pit from your avocado, set other half aside. Cut the avocado into strips.

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Toast your bread at this point, and don't forget to flip your tempeh strips so both sides get crispy and brown. Whip up the mayo, or just dive into the jar that sits in your fridge. Once your bread is toasty, schmear it with some mayo, lay down the avocado, the tomato slices, the lettuce and the tempeh, finish with the other slice of toast, and cut in half. Serve with the tomato soup and dunk like #23.

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--R

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Smoothies

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I love smoothies. I am not a huge breakfast smoothie person, because I generally like bigger breakfasts whenever possible, but smoothies for dinner and post-workouts are great. In the summer, when it is too hot to eat but I'm hungry, a smoothie always satisfies. I used to be an avid runner. I really don't run as much as I should, but I still get out there whenever possible. I recently joined the YMCA a few blocks away, and whenever I work out, I crave smoothies.

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Smoothies are really easy to make, so you may be thinking, what is the point of this post? How hard can it be to make a smoothie? R told me that posting a smoothie recipe would be dumb. I disagree. There are many variations, and some tricks. My
sister went through a smoothie kick one summer, and swore the key ingredient in smoothies is yogurt. Yogurt makes the smoothie creamier and healthier (all those live cultures) than just using ice cubes and milk. I don't usually use yogurt in mine, only because I seldom have soy yogurt around, but I would if I could.

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For a basic berry smoothie, it is obviously best to use fresh, in-season berries that you picked with your own little hands at a farm, but that is not always what happens. In the winter, we buy bags of mixed organic frozen berries (eek!). I never use ice cubes in smoothies. The key for me is to allow the frozen fruit to act as the ice cube so that it is not watery and gross. I throw in about a 1/2 cup of berries (not too many, I hate when seeds get stuck in my teeth), about a cup or more of soy milk, frozen peaches, or other fruit, if you have it, a frozen banana, if you have it, a pinch of cinnamon, a sweetener (agave) if you must. Sometimes I add some liquid vitamins, like immune boost or something, which generally tastes gross plain. Blend together, serve.

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My FAVORITE smoothie is a protein smoothie. My trick, which is pretty obvious, is to freeze a bunch of bananas. I peel them, break them in half, stick them in a baggie and freeze them. Seriously, it is like ice cream when you mix this all together, I am not kidding.

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I add half or a whole frozen banana, a tablespoon plus a little more of organic peanut butter, about a cup of soy milk. Mix it together until it is creamy. You can add more soy milk if you prefer a smoother smoothie, but sometimes I like mine thick because it really does taste like ice cream. mmm. divinity.

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--J

Pancakes! Pancakes!

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I love breakfast, la la love it. I have been surveying the food blogosphere recently and I came across a few blogs that were very inspiring. I stumbled upon
Simply Breakfast last week and have been enamored ever since. Also, these bad mamajamas stole my heart with one glance at 101 cookbooks
In my opinion, breakfast is a two way street. You can have have a savory breakfast or a sweet breakfast dish, or you can find your culinary soulmate who just happens to like sweet dishes over savory and you favor savory so satisfying that voice that chimes in after 5 bites of a salty fritatta is easy breezy. "Honey, can I have a bite of your pancakes?" Sure thing. One bite turns into 3 or 4 and then you're stuffed! I always have been a savory person myself favoring eggs florentine, and quiche over french toast or pancakes. Sometimes I get stuck though. Take the bourbon french toast at Tiny Cup in Bed Stuy, it is delicious BUT... they have a smoked salmon and bagel platter fully equipped with capers and onions. So here I stand at the crossroads of breakfast. Ill start my stream of breakfast food posts with pancakes. PANCAKES! PANCAKES!

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Here over at O.M.G FOOD, J is a vegan baby and I am just your run of the mill herbivore who eats fish, which makes me a pesca-vegetarian? Anyway, this pancake recipe is one that evokes feelings of sunny skies and warm days that kiss your cheeks. The weather outside right now is anything but that. We are stuck in NYC Blizorama 2010. There is about 6 inches on the ground already and this is just the beginning. These pancakes have orange zest in them which brightens things up. This is a vegan pancake recipe but if you wish to use eggs you can use them where it calls for egg replacer. If you do happen to use eggs, please get them from a reputable source like
Flying Pigs Farm from Shushan, NY.

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Let's get cookin, literally. This is a recipe for vegan orange blueberry pancakes. Bon Appetit!

Orange Blueberry Pancakes


Dry Ingredients

2 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup unbleached flour
1/4 brown rice flour
Egg replacer (for 1 egg)
1 tsp baking powder
Pinch of salt
Pinch of cinnamon

Wet Ingredients

1 1/2 cups of soy milk
1 tbs of maple syrup
1/4 cup coconut oil
1 navel orange for 1/4 of juice and about 1 tbs of zest
1/2 cup thawed organic wild maine blueberries (we get them at Trader Joes)


Methodology

Mix all the dry ingredients together in a mixing bowl. Sifting the flours is an ideal step but I don't have a sifter so I always omit this step. It just sounds fancy to say "sift". Ha. Next, zest your navel orange with a microplane (yes, I own one of those) and set aside the zest. Squeeze the orange in a citrus press to obtain around 1/2 cup of juice and set aside. Make sure the coconut oil has reached room temperature and is in it's liquid state. Mix all your wet ingredients together with the omission of the orange juice, zest, and blueberries. SLOWLY add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, and stir. I say add slowly because you don't want lumps in your batter and we over at O.M.G have found this method to tickle our fancy. Once you have achieved a nice, even and non-lumpy batter add the zest, juice and the blueberries. Heat up a skillet (preferably a cast iron pan) with fat of choice; butter, light olive oil, or coconut oil works well. Coat the pan with the oil and heat the pan on a med-high heat. Let the batter sit while your pan heats up. Next, spoon in 1/2 cup of batter into the pan. You can usually get away with making 3 pancakes at a time or if you have small mouths to feed, make silver dollar size pancakes. Keep an eye on these fiesty little cakes with their seams bursting with berries, once they start to form bubbles, FLIP them. The pancakes should be a light brown color, not burnt and not undercooked. Nobody likes raw batter in the middle. Once all your batter has been transformed into magic breakfast delights, sit down and enjoy with some maple syrup to accompany them (the real stuff, please give Mrs. Butterworth a swift kick in the ass). Come to think of it, if you are reading this blog you have never owned Mrs. Butterworth, or here's to high hopes.

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Monday, February 8, 2010

Granola bars

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I've made both chewy and crunchy granola before, and love having it for breakfast. I wanted to make transportable bars rather than regular granola so that I can take them to work. I found this recipe at The Cutting Edge of Ordinary, but changed the recipe slightly.
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Ingredients:
2 cups old fashioned oatmeal
1 cup sliced almonds
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
2/3 cup honey

1/4 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup chopped, dried ginger
1/2 cup dried cranberries or raisins 
1/2 cup sunflower seeds


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Process:
--Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 9x13 pan. Toss nuts, seeds and oatmeal together and bake on pan for 10 mins, stirring often, until brown.
--Transfer mixture to large bowl
--In a saucepan, add butter, honey,brown sugar, vanilla and salt and bring to a boil for 1 min. The mixture will bubble up. Mix often and remove from heat.
--Add liquid mixture to large bowl.
--Add dried fruit and mix well, combing everything.
--Transfer to greased pan and push it down so that everything sticks together. Let cook for an hour and press down again, otherwise the granola will fall apart.
--Let cool completely, then cut into bars, wrap in waxed paper or plastic wrap, and enjoy!

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A variation is to bake the granola for 20-30 min in a 300 degree oven. I skipped this step, fearing I would over-cook it, and the bars were great.


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--J

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Straight Forward Pesto


Pesto is pretty straight forward. A simple sauce with no frills or gimmicks. Roughly 7 ingredients are needed to make this delicious sauce. Some people like to make things complicated by making "arugula pesto" and in my book using arugula to make pesto isn't kosher. So let's not get confused from the get go, this is a basil pesto. Got it? Good. This pesto is best in the summer when basil can be purchased at the farmers market or grown on your sunny windowsill (ahhhhhh sustainability). Moving along... This recipe can be made vegan with the omition of parmigiano reggiano. Also, if need be you can go ahead and make this in the winter using basil from who knows where but please let's keep it as local as possible or organic. I don't want this green magical sauce giving unborn children gills.

Pesto

1 or 2 bunches of basil
3-4 cloves of garlic (vampires?!)
1/2 cup of extra virgin cold pressed olive oil
1/2 cup pignolia nuts (pine nuts)
Salt to taste
A few cracks from the old pepper mill
1/4 cup parmigiano regiano (don't try and get away with pecorino or romano)

For a vegan option simply omit the cheese.

Methodology:

Wash and spin the basil till all sand and silt is out of the picture.

Heat a skillet up on med-high heat and add the pine nuts. Keep those babies moving around the pan so they toast evenly and don't burn. Once they are fragrant and light brown remove from heat and let cool.

In a food processor add all the ingredients and pulse til you have achieved an even and creamy consistency. If the pesto isn't creamy enough add a tablespoon of water or a lil bit more olive oil till you have reached your desired consistency. Hey, some people like it chunky so this part is up to personal taste.

Once you're done blending taste to make sure it has enough of everything. There should be enough bite from the garlic and enough sweetness from the basil, and enough nuttiness from the pine nuts. Is there enough salt? Enough pepper for your liking? 

With a flexible silicon spatula scrape all the pesto out of the food processor and divy it up into the ice cube trays or freeze in a lump. As. You. Wish. I learned this freezing trick from my parents--small, ice-cube sized portions of pesto are great for individual dinners, and they take much less time to thaw out than a huge container of pesto.
A few weeks ago, we we roasted brocoli and brussel sprouts and added them to the pesto and pasta mix. It was delicious, nutty, salty and satisfying.

To do this:

Boil water. Add pasta, cook as instructed. 
Chop brussel sprouts and broccoli. Add to pan. Toss with olive oil, salt, pepper. Roast in the oven at 425, mixing often, until tender. Add pesto ice cubes, mix well, and cook until pesto melts into veggies. Remove from heat.
Drain pasta. 
Mix pasta, pesto and veggies together.
Enjoy!

--R