Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Asian Noodle Salad and Tim Tams

My lunch today! It's an Asian Noodle Salad, made from this recipe on one of my favorite food blogs -
but without cucumbers, and with toasted sunflower seeds instead of cashews. I won't lie, it came out pretty great when I made it for dinner last night. I will continue to not lie and tell you that it was FAR too much for one person when I made half of it, and did not hold up AS well for lunch today, although it was still pretty great.

Even more exciting is my discovery of Tim Tams at my local grocery store! Yes, my Associated carries these cookies that I haven't had since I was in New Zealand, and as far as I knew were not available in the U.S.! I let out an audible gasp when I turned to corner to find these antipodean favorites. And proceeded to talk about them to my friend for the next twenty minutes.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Union Restaurant Haverstraw

It was a gorgeous day in NY today. 67 degrees in November. Unbelievable.

And my daughter Liisa was here. We wanted to go out for brunch somewhere lovely and preferably somewhere by the river.

The answer: Union Restaurant and Bar Latino in Haverstraw. http://www.unionrestaurant.net/
(o.k. the restaurant is not on the river but Haverstraw is a river town so close enough.)

So let's just cut to the chase here. It was the best meal I've had in Rockland County in a long time.

We started with sangria; always perfect on for a sunny day. Later I ordered a glass of pinot noir and decided that next time I'd also order a bottle of something red from there very well-priced wine list.

Since it was a Sunday afternoon and we'd been kind of thinking about having brunch we didn't order entrees. We'd never been to Union Restaurant before and we wanted to try a few things. And anyway, I can always make an entire meal out of appetizers. So we did.

We had ensalada verde, (watercress, avocado and tomato in a light vinagrette. Why haven't I had a watercress salad before? Who knew?) French onion soup, (very cheesy with plenty of good onion flavor) a small pizza on a tortilla crust with carmelized onions, fresh tomato, basil and blue cheese and and an arepa colombiana with lightly breaded shrimp and mango, one of their signature dishes. (photo.)

I loved the Latin flavors and influences here. The menu was small enough that each item could be prepared with attention but varied enough to give choices to a party of diners. The service was welcoming and attentive. The atmosphere was special yet comfortable. I'll be back. And I'll be bringing my friends.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009


Confession: I spent approximately the first 23 years of my life avoiding and pretty intensely disliking pizza. Now that I've realized how much I've missed, one of my go-to meals is homemade pizza. It also combines two of my favorite things: bread making and cooking.

Last night my friend and I had dinner to "celebrate" the end of her employment at her current job (hurray economy!) and I made two kinds of pizza: Spicy Spinach and Herbed Goat Cheese on flatbread, and White Pizza with Broccoli.

For the spinach pizza, I wilted the spinach for a couple minutes in a pan with olive oil at medium heat. As the spinach began to wilt, I added about a teaspoon and a half of fresh rosemary and some red pepper flakes (#1 spice of the New City Murrays). After a couple minutes I added this to the top of the flatbread, and added about 4 oz of garlic and herb goat cheese.

For the white pizza, I used regular pizza dough, picked up at my local bakery. I rolled this out and put it on a pan that had been sprinkled with cornmeal. I chopped some garlic and added it to about a cup of fat free ricotta. I also added some basil, onion powder, salt, pepper and (here it is again) red pepper flakes, and then spread the ricotta mixture on the dough. I sauteed some broccoli with garlic salt, put that on top, and then added some part-skim mozzarella and a little parmesan.

I put both of these pizzas in a 400 degree oven for about 15 minutes, until the cheese had slightly browned. Serve with Bud Light, or free Miller Draft from your landlords (true story)!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Peanut/Cashew Soup

Liisa was looking through my Bittman vegetarian cookbook last night and suggested I make peanut soup.  So, today, I figured I would.  But I'm a high roller, so I used cashews instead.

Not sure if I've figured out the portions just right, but it involves cashews, tomatoes, yams, a red onion, garlic, ginger, cayenne, salt, pepper, vegetable stock, coconut milk, and peanut butter (I would use cashew butter, but I'm only hood rich, not the real kind).  Cook the onion, garlic, and ginger, then throw in the cashews, add some salt, pepper, and a bit of cayenne, and throw in the stock and yams.  Cook it for ten minutes, add the coconut milk, tomatoes, and peanut butter. Cook for like five more minutes, and then add some more cashews for garnish, and you're set.

Turned out pretty awesome, though, like I said, I need to adjust the amount of which ingredients I use... Bittman is crazy about how much stock to use, so it felt light on certain items.  But it turned out awesome.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Whole Wheat Oatmeal Bran Muffins

I like muffins, but plain old white flour? Not so good for me. So I try to make something tasty but good for you, too. Who says you can't have it all?


1.25 cup whole wheat flour
1.25 cup steel cut oats
0.5 cup bran
0.5 cup Splenda sweetener (the yellow stuff)
3t baking powder
1 rounded t cinnamon
3 eggs
0.5 cup canola oil
1.5 cup skim milk

Bake at 375 degrees for 25 minutes.

These were wonderful with butter plain fresh out of the oven. And they were good later plain ( I was on the bus and had no butter--would have been too messy.)

Next time I may cut the sweetener a bit and add raisins. With whole wheat and bran, you need more oil and liquids than with white or corn flour, and those amounts could be experimented with.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

"Spicy" Turkey Burgers

I am not normally a large meat eater, but recently I've been all about the protein.  Chicken, beef, and, more and more frequently, turkey burgers.  I came home last night with a hankering for turkey burgers, and an urge to use the chipotles in adobo that have been sitting in my cupboard for a while, so - Chipotle Turkey Burgers!

I was not impressed with the spiciness of these turkey burgers, but that may have been from my laziness in actually cutting the chipotles into little tiny pieces, and instead choosing "chunky-style" turkey burgers.  That, or the fact that my favorite condiment is jalapenos.  Just sayin'.

"Spicy" Chipotle Turkey Burgers

Combine in a bowl:

1 pound ground turkey

1/2 cup chopped onion

2 tablespoons cilantro

1 chipotle en adobo, finely chopped (optional if your name contains double vowels)

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon onion powder

1 teaspoon seasoned salt (I used regular, and it was still delightful)

1/4 teaspoon black pepper 

Smoosh it together into patties.

There are those big chunks I was talking about.

Then, put them in a pan over medium-high heat and cook them until theres no pink in the middle, and its dark on the outside.  Or at least, that's how I enjoy them.

Eat in a bun, on some lettuce, in between bread or just by itself like its a squished meatball!  

And then you end up with this -

And hopefully also a full belly, which would be more difficult to photograph.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

spectacular salad by sasha hill

I love the spectacular salad! I really really really really really really really really want to make that spectacular salad again. Here's how we did it:

We smashed garlic and chopped it. We put red wine vinegar, olive oil, and mustard in a bowl. And we added salt and pepper and a pinch of sugar and mixed it. Then we put the bacon in the microwave. Then we melted the butter and put in the little pieces of bread. Then we cooked the bread in the butter until it was crunchy croutons.

We poached the egg in the hot vegetable oil. We put lettuce and red cabbage in the bowl of salad dressing and mixed it in the bowl. Then we put some salad on a plate. We put the egg in the salad. We put the croutons and the bacon in the salad. The end!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009


Every Wednesday morning I check out Dining & Wine in the Times online for Mark Bittman's latest video. If you can get past his current goofy opening footage he usually demonstrates something you'll want to try. Today it was something I had never made (or eaten) before: Arepas!

They're little corn pancakes & when they're cooled you can cut them in half & make a sandwich with them. The problem is they're too good hot out of the pan. Who wants to wait until they're cool?

Here's the recipe:

1 cup fine corn meal (I used masa.)

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 cup grated cheddar or monterey jack cheese

1 cup milk
2 T. butter

1/2 cup corn kernels, fresh or frozen

1/4 cup chopped scallions

1/4 cup chopped cilantro (or parsley)

1 small jalapeno or serrano chile, seeded & minced (I had leftover roasted poblano so I used it)

3 T. neutral oil for frying (I used canola oil)

1. Put cornmeal in a large bowl with salt and cheese. Put milk in a small saucepan over medium-low heat until steam rises, then add butter and stir until melted. Remove from heat and stir into cornmeal mixture until a thick batter is formed. Fold in the corn kernels, scallion, cilantro and chili if using. (Maybe it was the masa but my batter was very thick. I added some water to get the right consistency.)

2. Let batter rest until it thickens into a soft dough, about 15 minutes. Gently form 3- to 4-inch balls from mixture and flatten with palm of your hand to a 1/2-inch-thick disk. You can cover and refrigerate disks for a few hours if you like.

3. Heat oil in a large skillet and cook arepas, working in batches, until golden brown, about 5 minutes, then flip and cook for another 3 minutes on other side. When all arepas are cooked and cool enough to handle, carefully slice them through the middle. If desired, serve with butter or stuff with beans, vegetables or sour cream.

( My first batch was too dark when I cooked them 5 minutes on the first side. I would suggest 3 minutes on the first side & 2 on the second. But it depends on your stove. )

Yield: 8 to 12 arepas.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Happy Birthday, Liisa!

September 1st is Liisa's birthday but we celebrated last Saturday night. For my fabulous daughter only a homemade cake will do. So, even though I'd rather cook than bake, I spent the afternoon making a chocolate cake recipe from Ina Garten, the Barefoot Contessa. http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ina-garten/beattys-chocolate-cake-recipe/index.html

I have favorite recipes that I know by heart and practically cook with my eyes closed, but as a baker I'm still a beginner. By the time I was done there was flour everywhere, butter on my shirt, butter on the coffeemaker and even cocoa on my face. Maybe it was because I only have a hand mixer & I used a light metal bowl. I said I was a beginner. But hey, the cake was delicious! Happy Birthday, Liisa!

Monday, August 24, 2009

watermelon lemonade

Liisa, Mary & Zach were here this weekend to get out of the city heat & relax in the burbs. It was a weekend of swimming, board games, listening to classic vinyl ("the hills are alive....with the Sound of Music!) and watermelon lemonade.

Liisa found the recipe in one of her & my favorite food blogs, Smitten Kitchen.


Here's what you need to make a pitcherful:

1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 cups pureed watermelon
1 cup simple syrup *
1 cup sparkling water
1 cup vodka

*Simple syrup is just equal quantities of sugar & water heated until the sugar melts. I used a cup of sugar and a cup of water and had enough syrup for 2 batches of drinks.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Black Bean Soup. I Guess.

Mom got me this Bittman vegetarian book, so the first recipe I tried was this black bean soup. I was/am in the position of knowing nothing about cooking, so I've been messing around with this a lot.  Chop an onion, brown it, add some cumin & chili powder (I'd been substituting red pepper flakes, since I didn't have any chili powder. I also learned that it is definitely NOT a one to one ratio, so I use a little lot less than a tablespoon of red pepper flakes), and some garlic. Then you throw the beans, stock or water, and whatever vegetables you feel like. This time, I had a couple tomatoes, some celery, and some green pepper; I'd been using potatoes a good bit, and then I was going to use peas, but I realized that it was probably too much starch, so I'm trying to throw more real vegetables and less bread-disguised-as-vegetables.  This is also the first time I'm using chili powder, so I'm interested to see how it turns out.

Green Pepper & Goat Cheese Scramble

The secret to this is to scrape the brown bits off the skillet and sprinkle them on top, once you're finished.

no-lettuce salads

I know I should eat more salad. But there is something about lettuce that makes me feel like I'm just eating grass; just doing something I'm supposed to do because it's good for me. And my contrary nature rebels against that.

I'm not the only one in the family that feels this way. Dave says lettuce is "just too much blank space" and is "hard to keep on your fork."

So earlier this summer Liisa sent me a recipe for chopped salad and I made a great one when I was out in California visiting that branch of the family: just tomatoes, celery, cucumbers, parsley, oil & vinegar, salt & pepper. So crunchy.

And since July Liisa and I have really been enjoying Mark Bittman's 101 Simple Salads for the Season. http://www.nytimes.com/2009/07/22/dining/22mlist.html?scp=1&sq=101%20simple%20salads%20for%20the%20season&st=cse

My favorite has been #39: roasted corn, chilies, cherry tomatoes, queso fresco and lime juice. Cutting fresh corn off the cob may seem like a chore but it doesn't really take that long and the result is so worth it. I've used feta or parmesan when I haven't had queso fresco and good old chili powder in place of the chilies. I even made it with fried cheese or queso de freir and jalapenos. Before summer is over why not get a few ears of fresh corn and make the best no-lettuce salad ever!

the farmers market

One of the many pleasures of summer in DC is the Saturday morning farmers market in our town square. It begins in late June and runs through the end of October, and Sasha and I shop there every week. Today the temps were cold--55 degrees!--and there was a blustery wind, but that didn't stop the locals (and tourists) from purchasing their locally grown fruits and vegetables. In my shopping bag today: blueberries and carrots--there's a "Bittman salad" in my future--corn, rainbow Swiss chard, and spinach.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

first tweet

From David "David Murray" Murray:

Something from my twitter: "Spent a half hour reading my cookbook. I'm REALLY excited to make miso, udon, & onigiri. REALLY excited. Like, I can't sleep."

the pleasures of pancakes

I've been making home-made pancakes for my son at least once a week for several years now. At this point he has helped me so often, he's all but taken over the process by himself. My recipe calls for whole wheat flour and non-fat dry milk which makes them healthy AND tasty. Here's how I do it:

Spray the griddle with cooking spray and set on burner at medium high to warm up while you....

Place your flour sifter in a large mixing bowl. In the sifter, put:

1 scant c. whole wheat flour
1/2 c. white flour
1 tbsp. baking powder
1 tbsp. sugar
Sift these ingredients into the mixing bowl.

In a large (2 cup) glass measuring cup, mix
1 c. non-fat dry milk

Add to the milk:
1/3 c. vegetable oil
1 egg

Mix liquid ingredients with a fork and add to dry ingredients. Mix well, but not too much. There will be a few small lumps in the batter, and that's OK.

Even though I've been making these pancakes for years, I always start with one "test pancake" to see if the griddle is hot enough. The batter should sizzle just a bit when it hits the griddle. I like to make silver dollar pancakes, because they're easier to flip. You'll know it's time to flip the pancakes when the tops stop looking glossy and little bubbles appear.

I cool the pancakes we don't eat on a baking rack, then store them in a ziploc in the fridge. Microwave for a few seconds the next day, add butter and syrup, and you're on your way to another healthy, delicious breakfast. (I like to add some ham or cheese on the side for protein, as well as a glass of juice. And coffee, of course!)

make some jam!

Growing up in northern Michigan, I can remember my mom making jams and jellies every summer. It seemed hot, labor-intensive work, which is probably why I never attempted jam myself until a friend challenged me to try it last summer. We made freezer jam in her kitchen, working as a team. And it was easy! Just get some fruit, sugar, canning jars and Sure-Gel. Follow the directions from the Sure-Gel package EXACTLY (particulary in regard to the amount of sugar needed) and in about an hour you'll have created a batch of "summer in a jar". Summer is short--fall will soon be here, so make some jam!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

birthday pie

A friend of mine has a large rhubarb patch in her garden, so we've been treated to pie, jam, and rhubarb bars this summer. I made this pie for a friend's birthday because it's her favorite. I used the recipe from "The Joy of Cooking" for the crust, substituting butter for lard. My 7-year-old son rolled the dough and crimped the edges. And I remembered to brush it with milk and a sprinkling of sugar to make the top brown nicely.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Cast Iron Skillet

Lately I've been thinking that my family really needs a food blog. Not necessarily a recipe blog because a lot of us are not reeaally recipe followers. For me a recipe is just a starting point. And anyway, when I see a good recipe I don't usually have all the ingredients. So I like to look in the refrigerator and cupboards and see what inspires me. It usually works.

I'm also not a gadget freak. I think if you can't make it in a cast iron skillet or a big old casserole it's too complicated anyway. Even writers in the food section of the greatest paper in the U.S. ( o.k. my husband works there but I still think it's the best) agree with me. http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/05/dining/05iron.html?scp=2&sq=jumpa%20lahiri&st=cse
Maybe I'll pack a cast iron skillet next summer for the cabin in the Porcupine Mountains. Too bad I can't bring my own gas stove.

So hey family! How about it?