I love you...

like a [phat] kid loves [cheese]cake

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Easy as Pie...er...Peaches!

Peaches and nectarines are in peak season right now, so if you haven't already picked up a bunch, stop reading this and go right now!

Personally, I like nectarines better. I like the crispness of of the flesh, and they never have to be peeled, which makes baking with them so much easier. But I still got love for peaches; nothing beats biting into a fuzzy fruit on a summer afternoon!

I do admit that sometimes, I'm just lazy with lunch. I don't want to bother taking out mass amounts of spices, pans, etc. just to make something for me. When this happens, I cheat and create these: open-faced peach toasts.

This is probably the easiest thing you can ever make for lunch [well, apart from microwaving frozen foods]. A slice of hearty bread topped with the cheese of your choice and fresh nectarines and you're good to go! In my toast, I first slathered on some Sweet Jalapeno sauce. It's an Afghani condiment from East and West Bolani, and it's delicious. You can find it at Whole Foods, along with many other dips and of course, bolani, Afghan flatbreads. I definitely recommend you check them out while you're on your hunt for peaches!

For the cheese, I used Jarlsberg, one of my favourite cheeses, but use whatever you want. A creamy brie would pair nicely with the fruit, as would any other sharp cheese.

Ideas for next time: Different type of cheese, perhaps cheddar?

Open Faced Nectarine Toasts

1 slice of whole wheat bread
2 Tbsp. sweet jalapeno sauce
3 Tbsp. grated Jarlsberg cheese
1 nectarine, sliced thinly
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

  1. Set the oven to broil.
  2. Spread the sauce on the bread. Top with cheese, and arrange the nectarine slices on top. Broil until the cheese is melted through, not more than 1 minute.
  3. Sprinkle with black pepper and serve immediately.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Epic Times at Epic Nights..These are the Days of Summer

Picture this: Three roommates, an ex boyfriend, and a current interest all in the room. No drinks [except for hot taro milk tea with pearl], no drugs [except for my mass medication], just hilarity upon hilarity until 3 in the morning. Something about Shark Week, crazy animals, calcified babies, and pregnant men, followed by man-bonding on the sofa bed until 5am.

Welcome to Apartment 102.
I absolutely love it!

I did manage to get some cooking in before the arcane conversations began. Last week, I purchased a lotus root from Berkeley Bowl, the most amazing grocery place I have ever been to. Seriously, guyz, if you are in Berkeley, you need to check this place out. Everything from durian to buckwheat flour, and dirt cheap! I die a little from happiness every time I go there.

True story.

Lotus root is only 3% iron, but it also contains around 25% Vitamin C, so I figured that I can focus on getting that into my diet and get my iron from some whole-wheat rotis that my mom had given me [I always have a stash in the freezer for emergencies!]

While at first a daunting vegetable [like rhubarb], lotus root is simple to prepare. It takes slightly longer to prepare because you have to pressure cook it first to soften them up. If you are in a rush though, you can just cook it directly; it will be crunchy, but it will taste fine.

I wonder what other uses there are for lotus root....maybe one day I can configure it into a dessert! I am always open to suggestions too if you know any!

Lotus Root Sabzi

1 tsp. cumin
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2-inch piece of ginger, minced
1/2 red onion, diced
1 tsp. haldi [tumeric powder]
1 tomato, diced
1 lotus root, peeled and sliced into wheels
1 tsp. garam masala [Available at Indian stores]
1/2 tsp. red chilli powder
4 Tbsp. plain nonfat yoghurt
Salt, to taste

  1. Place lotus root in a pressure cooker with enough water to cover it. Pressure cook on medium-high heat for one whistle. Drain water out and keep lotus root aside.
  2. Heat some oil in a nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add cumin and fry until fragrant, about 5 seconds.
  3. Add garlic and ginger and cook until garlic is browned, about a minute or so. Add onion and haldi and cook until onions are soft, 3-5 minutes.
  4. Add tomato and lotus root. Cover and cook until lotus root is lightly brown, 5 minutes or so.
  5. Stir in garam masala and yoghurt. Cook, uncovered, a couple minutes longer or until the yoghurt has evaporated enough to create a bit of a sauce. Season with salt and serve with whole-wheat rotis.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Rhubarb Rave Recovery

What a weekend! I have spent most of today recovering from a pancake date, a birthday party [there will be a blog about that cake soon], and the Fray concert. Trudged myself to work this morning after two hours of sleep, and gave into my caffeine addiction by getting a latte.

But somehow, it's still all worth it.

Don't trip chocolate chip; I'm still getting in my iron. Think a basket of blueberries while sitting on the lawn at the concert, and iron-enriched flour for pancakes. I'm still being healthy!

Now, the time has come for rhubarb. This is the first summer that I've ever cooked with it. It always seemed like one of those weird, what-the-hell-do-I-do-with-this vegetable, but after finding out about its iron benefits, it's go-time!

One the most common ways to bake with rhubarb is pie. I'm all for pie, but I'm also all for muffins, so I simply adapted a recipe I found from Epicurious and plopped the batter into muffin tins. What I ended up with were cute little rhubarb pies that actually resembled more of biscuits because of the batter, and they were so fluffy! I sprinkled the tops with sugar to offset the sourness of the rhubarb, although once it bakes it is not as intense, but I liked the the contrasting flavours.

Remember: when choosing rhubarb, look for stalks that are deep pink-red and are shiny. Those are the freshest ones.

Ideas for next time: Buttermilk, some sort of whipped topping?

Rhubarb Biscuit Bakes

  • 1 lb fresh rhubarb stalks, cut into 1/2-inch pieces [3 cups]
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 2 cups whole-wheat flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. sanding sugar [like turbinado]
  • 1 stick cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 2 large eggs (1 separated)
Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 400°F. Grease a 12-cup muffin pan and chill.

Toss rhubarb with brown sugar in a bowl until coated.

Whisk together flour, baking powder, and 1/2 cup granulated sugar in a large bowl until combined well. Cut in butter with a pastry blender or your fingertips until mixture resembles coarse meal. Whisk together milk, whole egg, and yolk. Make a well in center of flour mixture and add milk mixture, stirring with a wooden spoon to gradually incorporate flour and form a dough. Don't worry; the dough WILL be sticky!

Use half of the dough and pat out over bottom and halfway up the sides of the muffin tins. Make sure your hands are well-floured so the dough doesn't stick to you. Spoon rhubarb with its juices onto dough. Using a tablespoon or a small ice-cream scoop, spoon remaining dough in small mounds evenly over top. Lightly beat egg white with a few drops of water, then lightly brush cake with egg wash. Sprinkle the tops with the sanding sugar.

Bake muffins until the tops are golden and rhubarb is tender, 30 to 40 minutes. Transfer to a rack to cool, about 30 minutes.