Sunday, February 28, 2010

Open-faced Broccoli, Red Pepper, and Cheese Sandwich

Broccoli Cheese Sandwich

Yes, another broccoli recipe. What can I say? I LOVE BROCCOLI. This is a simple sandwich recipe that is easy to customize. I plan to trying different vegetables, cheeses, and spices, but as is, it is the perfect meal for a cold winter day. It makes 4 servings that are perfect to serve with a salad or soup. If this is all you are having though, I'd serve it for two.

Open-faced Broccoli, Red Pepper, and Cheese Sandwich
Adapted from Moosewood Restaurant's Cooking for Health

1 tbsp olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced or pressed
3 cups chopped broccoli
1 cup chopped red bell peppers
1/1 tsp salt
Red Pepper flakes to taste
1 tsp minced fresh rosemary or basil
2 tbsp water
3/4 cup grated provolone cheese
4 slices whole grain bread

Broccoli Cheese Sandwich

Heat the olive oil on a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the garlic, broccoli, bell peppers, salt, red pepper flakes, and rosemary. Cook and stir for 2 minutes. Add the water, cover, and cook for about 7 minutes or until vegetables are tender, stirring occasionally.

Broccoli Cheese Sandwich

While the vegetables are cooking, sprinkle the cheese over each slice of bread and melt in the broiler or toaster oven. Top with the cooked veggies.

Broccoli Cheese Sandwich

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Broccoli Spinach Soup

Broccoli Spinach Soup

After all those cakes and cupcakes, I really needed something green. So the other day when Joy the Baker posted this lovely little Broccoli Arugula soup, I ran over to the Seward Co-op to gather the ingredients. While I do love arugula, once I was there I decided I would rather not buy an entire package of it and be forced to eat arugula every day until I resented it. So instead, I went with spinach, which comes in bulk and the amount for this recipes came out to about fifty cents (and was probably more than a cup since I am terrible at eyeballing such things). That and broccoli were all I needed, the rest of the ingredients are staples I always keep on hand.

There aren't any pictures of the finished product. You know what that means: It. was. good. I gobbled it up before I could remember to grab my camera (and also before I added the squeeze of lemon, but that was rectified for the last half of the bowl at least). Keep this recipe in mind if you ever make an Irish Car Bomb Cake and need some vegetables in your system to counteract the sugar, stat.

Broccoli Spinach Soup
Adapted from Joy the Baker's Broccoli Arugula Soup who adapted it from

1 tbsp olive oil
1 small yellow onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 head of broccoli, cut into florets
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp ground pepper
1 tsp ground cumin
2 1/2 cups vegetable stock, chicken stock, or water (I used 2 cups veggie stock with .5 cups water. I definitely recommend using stock over water in any recipe.)
1 cup baby spinach
splash of lemon juice (fresh is best)

Heat the olive oil in a sauce pan over medium heat. Add the onions and cook until soft, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic and broccoli and cook until the broccoli is bright green. Add the cumin, salt, pepper, and stock or water and simmer for 8-10 minutes, until the broccoli is tender.

Transfer the contents into a food processor or blender (two batches might work best, I did one in my food processor but made a little mess), add in the spinach, and blend until smooth. Makes two servings. Serve with a squeeze of lemon juice mixed in and a dollop of sour cream or creme fraiche.

PS- I did grab this shot of the leftovers the next day:
Broccoli Spinach Soup

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Irish Car Bomb Cake

Irish Car Bomb Cake

I have a thing for baking cakes.

Especially cakes with two layers or more. A cake with one layer is no cake at all. I get a intense feeling of satisfaction after successfully leveling each layer, spreading the filling, placing the last layer on top, and frosting the whole thing up. I'm not sure where it came from. It might be from the memory from my childhood when I tried to turn my parent's anniversary cake into a layer cake. I made it out of a boxed cake mix and baked it in a large rectangular pan. One of my best friends was over and we decided it would be cool to cut the rectangle in half and make a two-layered version. Disaster ensued. We ended up putting all the pieces back in the pan (at this point there were more than 2) and frosting over it, with a big cross to cover up our incisions. It. was. not. pretty.

So last summer when I decided to make a layer cake for my graduation party, I was very scared and convinced it was going to be incredibly tricky. Maybe if I had not thought it was such a big deal, I wouldn't have been so pleased when it came out perfectly. And then maybe I wouldn't dream of all the different flavors and fillings I could make or spend hours looking at recipes, dying for an excuse to start preheating the oven.

This week, I did just that. A cake version of the popular drink: the Irish Car Bomb. Chocolate Cake made with Guinness. Chocolate ganache with a hint of Irish whiskey. Buttercream froting made with Irish Cream. This is not your kids' birthday cake. It is an adult cake. Rich and chocolaty with a hint of booze. What more could you ask for?

Irish Car Bomb Cake

Irish Car Bomb Cake
Adapted from here and here

1 cup Guinness (or any stout)
1 cup unsalted butter
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1 and 1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
2 large eggs
2/3 cup sour cream

8 oz bittersweet chocolate (I only had unsweetened, so I used 4 oz and added sugar to taste, about 4 tbsp)
2/3 cup heavy cream
2 tbsp unsalted butter
1-2 tsp Irish whiskey

3 to 4 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter
3-4 tbsp Baileys or milk (I used both milk and caramel flavored irish cream since we already had a bottle)

(I ended up making 1.5x the recipe because I'm better at cake frosting if I have more to work with. I had some leftover so you could probably get away with using the recipe itself.)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease two 9-inch cake pans.

In a saucepan, simmer the stout and butter over medium heat. Add the cocoa powder and mix until smooth. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.

In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking soda, and 3/4 tsp salt. In a separate bowl, blend the eggs and the sour cream. Then beat in the chocolate-stout mixture until combined. Slowly add the dry ingredients. Divide between the cake pans and bake for 15 minutes. Then lower the temperature to 300 and bake until a toothpick in the center comes out clean, about 15 more minutes.

To make the filling, melt the chocolate in a saucepan or double boiler. Add in the cream, butter, and whiskey and mix until smooth. Allow to cool until thick. You can put in the refrigerator to speed up the process, but make sure you stir it occasionally.

Irish Car Bomb Cake

For the frosting, beat the butter until light and fluffy. Slowly add the powdered sugar, fully incorporating it each time. I usually don't measure it out, just taste it frequently and stop when I think it is sweet enough. Then beat in the milk and/or Bailey's.

Irish Car Bomb Cake

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Valentine's Cupcakes

Valentine's Cupcakes

Is there any better way to tell someone you love them than sending them a giant box full cupcakes?

I think not. So this is exactly what I decided to do for my dear sister (also the lucky recipient of some S'mores Brownies a few weeks ago). I didn't want to make anything too crazy, just something simple and delicious. But since it is Valentine's Day after all, I did add a little twist of color. I divided the finished batter in two and dyed half of it pink (and later, red) and made two-tone cupcakes. I put the color on the bottom for most, so they would look like plain old vanilla cupcakes until you unwrapped them. But I then got bored of that and did it the other way around. My decorating skills are not the best, but the cupcakes tasted delicious (what, you think I didn't save a few for myself?) and that is what counts.

Valentine's Cupcakes

Valentine's Cupcakes (1-2-3-4 Cupcakes)
Adapted from Alice Waters' The Art of Simple Food

4 eggs, separated
1 cup milk
3 cups cake flour (if you don't have any, it's super easy to make your own, check out Joy the Baker's tutorial)
4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup butter, softened
2 cups sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
Red food dye (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line a muffin tin with paper liners.

In a medium bowl, combine the cake flour, baking powder, and salt. Measure the milk and set aside.

In a separate, large bowl, beat the butter until light and fluffy. Then add the sugar and cream. Beat in the 4 egg yolks one at a time. Stir in the vanilla extract. When well mixed, add the one third of the flour, followed by half the milk, another third of the flour, the rest of the milk, and the last of the flour, incorporating well at each step.

In another bowl, whisk the egg whites until they form soft peaks. Stir one-third of the whites into the batter, then gently fold in the rest.

Divide the batter into two parts. Mix the desired amount of food dye into one half. Put a spoon full of colored batter into each cup and top with a spoonful of white batter or vice versa. Bake for 18-20 minutes and allow to cool completely before frosting. Makes 24-30 cupcakes.

Valentine's Cupcakes

Simple Frosting
Adapted from Alice Waters' The Art of Simple Food

12 tbsp butter, softened
1 and 1/3 cup powdered sugar, sifted
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp lemon juice

Beat the butter until light and fluffy. Add the powdered sugar a little at a time, fully incorporating each time. Add the vanilla and lemon juice and beat until smooth. Makes enough to frost 24 cupcakes.

Valentine's Cupcakes

Friday, February 5, 2010

Tempeh-Quinoa Burgers

Tempeh Quinoa Burger

I want you to close your eyes and imagine a veggie burger. Yes, do it right now. What do you see? Is it a frozen, perfectly hockey-puck shaped gardenburger with no real discernible taste? Yes, that it what I used to see too. I've eaten my fair share of those and never thought they were bad, but I never thought they were great either. I've never called myself a vegetarian, but I believe the majority of my veggie burger eating days were during a phase of being deathly afraid of getting mad cow disease in middle school/junior high. Even last year I kept a box of frozen patties in the freezer for days when I couldn't think of anything else to eat for lunch. But like I said, they were never anything to get excited about.

Those days are over, thanks to the Moosewood Restaurant's Cooking for Health. There are five burger recipes, all completely different. I already posted about the Spinach Tofu Burgers and now I bring you the Tempeh Quinoa Burgers which are made primarily out of two of my favorite things: quinoa and sweet potatoes. They come together easily and are great to freeze and reheat later, and let me tell you, having homemade veggie burgers in your freezer is one of the greatest ideas of all time (probably second to Joy the Baker inspiring me to keep frozen cookie dough balls in there too). Plus, did I mention that these are delicious and nothing at all like the bland variety found in the freezer aisle at the grocery store. Make these once and you'll never go back.

Tempeh Quinoa Burger

Tempeh-Quinoa Burgers

1/2 cup quinoa
2 cups thinly sliced peeled sweet potatoes (I used about 1/2 to 2/3 of a large sweet potato and roasted the rest with rosemary and thyme as a side)
1 cup water
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp olive oil
1 cup diced onions
1 cup minced bell peppers
2 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
8 oz tempeh, diced
1 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
4 tsp soy sauce
2 tbsp tomato paste, ketchup, or tomato salsa (I used ketchup)
1 tbsp dark sesame oil (optional)
2 tsp dijon mustard
1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro (I think I forgot the cilantro this time, if you don't have any, you can skip it)
1/4 cup sesame seeds (I skipped these because I was out)

Preheat the Oven to 375 degrees. I also recommend chopping and dicing everything beforehand, it will save you a lot of hassle.

Rinse the quinoa in a fine strainer and combine with the water and sweet potatoes in a sauce pan. Add 1/4 tsp of the salt. Cover and bring to a boil, then reduce heat and let simmer until the quinoa is soft and the sweet potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes.

Tempeh Quinoa Burgers

While the quinoa and sweet potatoes cook, heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onions, the rest of the salt, and cook until the onions are soft, about 5 minutes. Stir in the bell peppers and garlic, cover, and cook for another 3 mintues. Add the tempeh, oregano, black pepper, and soy sauce, cover, and cook for 7-8 minutes stirring occasionally. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.

Quinoa and Sweet Potato

When the sweet potatoes and quinoa are finished, mash them in the saucepan and then add to the bowl with the vegetables (Note: The quinoa/sweet potato mashed together is delicious on its own. I plan to make this as a side for another meal someday). Mix in the ketchup, sesame oil, mustard, and cilantro and refrigerate until cool enough to handle. Then shape the mixture into burgers (1/2 cup each) and sprinkle each side with sesame seeds. Place on a lightly oiled baking sheet and bake until firm and golden, about 35 minutes.

Serve in a pita, on whole grain toast, rice, or salad greens. Top with guacamole, avocado, or anything you'd like. It is your burger after all.

Tempeh Quinoa Burgers