Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Scrappy Doo (uses all the scraps and leftovers)

for full experience, please tune in to "Sabu Yerkoy" by Ali Farka Toure and Toumani Diabate,
or "I Wish" by Skee Lo.

As someone who more often makes food in batches large enough to feed a small army more often than just enough for two, I tend to have leftovers quite often. Though, also as someone who was raised by a single mom and and depression era grandmother, it is engrained in me to never, ever, ever, EVER waste food.

One dish that often sees the back of the refrigerator because it is awkward to make in small batches is the mashed potato. Andy had made a MASSIVE batch a little while ago, and I had two purple potatoes from the farmer's market that were on the downward slope. Solution: gnocchi.

I used to make massive batches of gnocchi back in the day at my old job, there is definitely a finesse and art too it. Too much pressure and you squish, too quickly and the dough tears.There is a little Mexican guy I work with now who makes pasta all day long. All kinds of pasta, cavatelli, gnocchi, ravioli, kinds I don't know the name of, etc, etc. I was thusly inspired by being around all this pasta mystery (and that there were a ton of potatoes already on hand) to make a batch of gnocchi.

frisky scrappy gnocchi
2ish c cold mashed potatoes
1-2 eggs or "flegg" of 2T ground flax + 1/2c water

food mill, potato ricer, or mesh strainer
giant mixing bowl
rubber mixing spatula or other mixing tool
pastry knife or other knife 
giant pot  
spider, fish spat, or other slotted large spoony straining device
wire rack or screen  

No, these are not glutenless. There are some things that if you can't do them the right way (one would require things such as xanthan gum for such a venture as this) you should not even bother at all.

Run your potatoes through the desired smoothing device. If you'd skinned your potatoes and they are lumpless you could skip this step.

If you are going the vegan route, to make your flegg bring the water to a boil, add flax, and simmer for a minute or so. Let it cool down first before proceeding. Make a little well in the middle of the potatoes, drop in them eggs or fleggs. Sprinkle a handful of flour over top. With a mixing tool, incorporate the (fl)egg and flour til smooth, then gradually incorporate the potato. Keep adding flour until it forms a relatively unsticky dough. 

On a flour surface, turn out the dough and begin rolling into snakes about 1/2" in diameter. Be very tender and try to use only the tips of your fingers. Pretend you're trying to touch a bubble or pet a hummingbird.

they should be springy fluffy pillows
Put your massive pot on the stove and fill with water. Salt it until it tastes like sea water, turn on to high and bring to a boil. Once you have the dough rolled out, dip the knife in flour and cut inch long little pillow shapes from the rolls. Dust with flour and GENTLY move aside or to a floured plate. Continue on until all your precious pillows of potato dough are ready and your water is boiling. Get draining surface ready also. If the excess water from the boiling water doesn't have anywhere to drain too, the gnocchi will end up mushy on the bottom. You want to have everything set up because once you start boiling them, you have to move fast, and over cooking will result in some bullshit disintegrating gnocchi that your dog may not even want. 

With your water at a rolling boil and your trusty scooper-outer in hand, gently (I cannot emphasise this enough) plop the little pillows into the water. They come with their own done-o-meter. You will notice they sink to the bottom. Once they rise to the surface they are DONE. IMMEDIATELY SHCOOP THEM PUPPIES OUT!!! This is best done in small batches to ensure you have enough time to scoop in a neat fashion and not bludgeon them. 

At this point, they can be eaten. But if you want to get ritzy, get a non-stick skillet hot on medium heat, drop a bit of nice olive oil, and allow it to heat for a minute. Place in the pan the gnocchi, but not so much that they are crowded and wont brown. You can jack the heat up a bit, but keep an eye on em because no one likes a burnt gnocchi. Let them get nicely browned on one side, flip, repeat. Add desired sauce, but not too much, because this isn't Chef Boy-ar-Dee crap. We show restraint here. 

For a simple balsamic vinagrette:
Lidded jar/other container
balsamic vinegar
dijon mustard
olive oil

One part vinegar to two parts oil, spices, dijon to taste. Shake it up!   
 pair with a nice grilled romaine/kale/tomato/pickled onion salad with balsamic


sprinkle with choice of topping or none at all

Next up, baking things without recipes or measuring that happen to also be gluten free, vegan, and don't taste like cardboard soaked in dog water.


Tuesday, May 14, 2013

A Week In Review

you eat those massive cakes, boo

This week was rather busy for me, but I have been able to come home and have dinner with the boo at night, which is a new thing for us. Andy decided to make pancakes for dinner the other night. In the 10" skillet. Go big or go home, I guess!
vegan/glutard alcohol sponger
potato spinach hash

purple potato (par cooked)
frozen assorted veggies
baked tofu
daiya mozzarella
earth balance
sliced onion

In a hot skillet, melt some earth balance, caramelize the onions. Add potatoes and brown, add your other veggies and spinach. Dump in a bowl, sprinkle with vegan bacon bits and daiya. Inhale to soak up all that whisky.

 knock-off sushi bar ginger vinaigrette
If you don't have a microplane, its cool, use your box grater.

1 small carrot
1"x1" chunk peeled ginger
2T rice vinegar
2T lemon or lime juice
2t dijon mustard
splish splash of water
olive oil

Using your fancy purple handled microplane, shave the shit out of a carrot and that hunk o' ginger into a mason jar that has a lid. Dump in all other ingredients, screw the lid on, and shake it like a polaroid. Or a shake weight. Use your imagination. Adjust seasonings to your taste preference, and shake more if it needs more emulsification. Pour over romaine and tomatoes with carrot shavings, and feel like royalty.

"life is short, eat dessert first."
plantain + chocolate 
"dirty" plantain shake and champagne, cause I keep it classy.

The grocer nearby sells it's "on its way out" produce at a sharply reduced price. Being a scavenger who likes to preserve things, I decided to buy some of these "over ripe" plantains to see what I could make of them. They are now my go to dessert, or other snack staple! Straight out of the peel with some peanut butter, honey, and cinnamon. Cut into pieces, freeze, and you have a base for some smoothies or "ice cream". Vegan ice cream is crazy expensive, at $2 for three to four massive plantains, this is a much more inexpensive alternative for snacks and desserts.

frozen plantain + dutch cocoa + peanut butter + sweetener + H2O
  Enjoy with halvah crumbled on top. Or cookie scraps. Or dollops of lyngonberry jam. Oh Ikea...

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Stretch (Those Dry Stores)

For full effect, please turn your spotify on to "A Song for Our Fathers" by Explosions in the Sky

One of the things that got me really excited about moving to New York was the availability of a huge farmer's market with tons of locally grown and produced foods, wines, and plants. I went last Saturday and scored arugula, local honey (seriously, stop buying the crap in the store, it is but a shadow of what REAL honey tastes like), onions, chevre (goat cheese), purple potatoes, and to boot there was some sort of pot rally going on, and a hare krishna booth. I felt like I walked onto the set of a Hair production. I did spend maybe 20-25$, but the honey and cheese were the most expensive at about 6$ a pop.
hare krishna, hare krishna, krishna krishna, hare hareee!

In addition to this, I've forsaken Whole Foods for a bit in favor of using the farmer's market for fresh produce, and this slapshack spot nearby that is kind of like an Aldi's back in Erie, except they carry a lot of the brands I tend to purchase (like Almond Breeze, Bob's Red Mills). They also have tons of frozen veg (my life source for home meals) and they carry gluten free beer for about as much, if not less, than it is back home. Needless to say, now that the vacation is over, we are not dining out and are a bit rationy.

If I've not mentioned my giant vat of peanut butter before, I'll mention it again. I love it. Like a fat kid loves... peanut butter cake. No bake cookies are one of my favorites, as well as any other combination of peanut butter and chocolate. I'm pretty sure I gained this affection for the two while in the womb, as my mum and I go bonkers for Reese's and other concoctions. I made a batch of these pups all vegan and gluten free to enjoy with my glutard beer. Heaven. Now the problem is I can't stop eating them...

Glutard Vegan No Bakes
2 cups sugar
2 oz baking chocolate (usually vegan, especially the cheap stuff)
1/2 cup coconut oil
1/2 cup almond milk
1 cup peanut butter
1 tablespoon vanilla
3 cups oatmeal
Waxed paper or Foil

In a small pot, melt the coconut oil, sugar, chocolate, and milk together. Bring to a simmer. 

Then add the peanut butter and vanilla. 

In a decently large bowl filled with your oats, pour in the bubbling mass of chocolatey peanut butter goodness. Do not lick the spoon, it's like napalm... trust me. 

Mix together your gooey mass and spoon onto parchment or foil, and try to allow them to cool as long as you can resist. I also added cinnamon to mine. Cause it's good. Once cooled they can be stored wherever because they're not going to hang around long. 
For when you are lazy... never forget the dry stores.

Edamame Ragout with Rice spirals.

Rice Pasta (cook according to directions)

Thawed edamame
Try not to suck at photography because you're impatient to eat it.
Liquid smoke
Coconut oil
Thawed "Parisian Blend" vegetable mix, or whatever frozen veg you have on hand
Thawed spinach
1 Half a can of tomato puree
Garlic granules
Black pepper
Daiya Mozzarella

In a small non stick skillet, melt some coconut oil (like 1-2 tsp) and one it is hot add the edamame. Be sure to pat them dry or they steam instead of searing. Give them a few flips to brown them, and then squirt some liquid smoke and tamari on them and let the liquids reduce. Remove from heat and set aside.

Heat up your tomato puree in either a large non stick skillet (I really just wanted an excuse to use the ones I had just purchased from Sur la Table) or sauce pot. Add veggies and edamame. Season with herbs and salt and pepper. Ideally you want fresh, but since we're being bohemian here, dried is acceptable... but do be sure to feel guilty about it.

Place your pasta in a bowl, top with sauce/veg "ragout" or pick some other fancy name to fool yourself that you're actually eating something that's not a hodgepodge. Top with fake vegan cheese or reg. cheese for your partner (cause it's just not fair having food allergies sometimes). Proceed to inhale.

I. Love. BaoHaus.

Clockwise: Apple Sidra, Taro Fries, Uncle Jesse tofu bao. Heaven.
Sometimes, it's okay to cheat... so long as you go to the farmer's market afterwards and compensate by buying stuff that you'll cook at home later. Taro fries are seriously, mind blowingly delicious.

Blackened Tofu + Balsamic Arugula + Escabeche + Sticky Rice

Many people hate tofu. I know, don't lie, it's cool. You just had it bad one time that some f-ing hippie made it for you and it had no seasoning on it, and was all slippery, and bland. Freezing tofu totally changed the texture. The ice crystals make these little matrices and it has a texture akin to a chicken pattie (maybe that's because those patties have so much soy in them... something to think about), making ideal for tofu salads or other frying applications. Just try it, and if you hate it, okay, you can hate tofu.

Rice is also another one of those gems, like beans, that you can make a big batch ahead and eat it throughout the week. Heck, if you're going to make fried rice I RECOMMEND you use day old rice. Having lost a lot of its moisture it will fry up nicely and un-clump easier.

1 cup water
1 cup rice, rinsed 3 times til the water runs clear. Let sit until it turns opaque again.

In a small pot, rice + water. Cover with a lid and bring to a boil. Reduce to the lowest possible setting for about 10 minutes. Turn heat off and allow to sit.

For the tofu,

smoke seasoning

smoked paprika
african bird pepper
black pepper
garlic granules

Make a marinade with the first four ingredients. It should be salty as sea water. You don't have to add Marmite but I like the umami it adds. Cut (a 14oz brick) of tofu into 1/2" slabs and submerge in marinade for about 25 minutes.

Meanwhile, mix together the spices with 3 parts paprika, 3 parts herbs, and fill in the blanks after that. Go easy on the spice, it will get spicier as it sits. Keep the mix in a glass jar because the paprika will not only stink up plastic with smoke smell forever, but it also has the tendency to stain. If you have a cast iron skillet, this is the best, but I chose to use my new non sticks. Heat up your pan, and meanwhile shake some out onto a plate and dip your tofu pieces covering all sides in the spice mix. Place in a DRY pan and cook til it has some black spots, kind of roasted like.

For the salad,

Place arugula in a separate bowl, drizzle with balsamic, lemon olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Toss.

To assemble,

Rice in the bottom of the bowl, arugula on one side, slab o' tofu, and your "escabeche". Pour on some extra soy or dijon mustard if you feel frisky.  

because Glenlivet isn't just for old men, and is suitable for Cinco de Mayo.

Monday, May 6, 2013

First Day of Work...

some how turned into this. I think I came to this town at just the right time :)

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Granola Pucks/Manhattan Recyclist

Yes. Pucks. Because bars are square! (rimshot)... ahhh...

I made a pot of millet last night and then didn't know what to do with it, so I figured I would wait until I had some time today to mill it over.

I had roughly 1.5 c of cooked millet leftover, so I decided to dry it out and make energy bites with it.

Spread ye cooked millet out on a baking sheet and place in a 350 degree oven, check every 5 minutes or so and mix it so it toasts nice and even-like. You want it a golden brown and a little crunchy, so that it will add texture.

Once your millet it ready, let it cool down a bit and gather the other ingredients:
  • 3/4-1c of a nut butter, I chose smooth peanut butter because well.. it's all I have
  • whole flax seeds
  • flegg (1T ground flax + 3T hot water, let sit)
  • 1/2c quick oats
  • cinnamon, ginger
  • 2T-1/4c honey
  • any seeds, berries, or other bird food you may fancy
literally throw everything in a bowl, mix, and do lick the spoon like a heathen

Then you can mix and adjust til it is moldable. Form into little patties or pucks and place back onto that cookie sheet you dried out your millet on. The oven should still have a bit of residual heat that can help dehydrate the cakes a little further. Use that noggin!

I totally ate three of these today...


Later on in the night, when that pizza craving hits...PIZZA VEGGIE BURGERS!!! Take leftover chickpeas and pulse in blender with tofu, mix with oats, breadcrumbs, and dehydrated veggies, and leftover risotto, form into patties, roll in breadcrumbs, and fry til golden on both sides. Add cheese of choice (Daiya mozz for me, cow mozz for Andy) and serve with some sort of Italian-ish sauce. Reduce, reuse, recycle!
never use flash for food. but sometimes if you eat it all before you realize the flash had been on....

Cook something every day and feed it to someone you love. Or just yourself. You should love yourself. Or write about it because the people you love are far away. xoxo

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

The First Supper

There are great positives and great negatives to being unemployed.

The first is that you have many hours to devote to a sculpting a meal, taking your time to make reductions and construct regional flavor profiles... but the cons inevitably are "damn... I spent $70 on groceries today at Whole Foods because of lack of self control in the gluten free aisle and produce section". However, in light of attempting to be a Manhattan Minimalist, I did score some frozen veggies for $1.70 a bag that were a tasty component of the first meal I've cooked as a resident here. The technical first meal, really, was Thanksgiving... which was not a minimalist meal at all, complete with duckfat gravy for the boys, mushroom tahini gravy and Field Roast for me, potatoes, green bean casserole, several bottles of wine.. you get the point.

Tonight was kind of special though. I had been fortunate and gracious to have a few bottles of wine I brought with me from PA, and most of my spices as well. Since I literally threw a bunch of stuff in a pan and tasted as I went along, with a moderate Moroccan/Sri Lankan bassline as my guide... indulge me a moment to write this like I would a menu, it's much easier...

Chenin Blanc Nederburg 2012

Crispy Fried Chickpeas | smoked paprika + coconut oil

Mediterranean vegetables | Marrakesh + almond milk + tomato + Hunan dried chili

Jasmine Risotto | toasted mustard seed + fried onions + cardamom

toast mustard seeds and ground cardamom in coconut oil, proceed per usual for pilaf, finish like risotto

savoryspiceshop.com's free gift from my last shipment
blurred out simmering veg

toast chilis in coconut oil, add almond milk and spices, reduce and add veg
mega chickpeamoneyshot. fry those puppies in coconut oil and smoked paprika to make your boyfriend say "these taste like..." your response, "bacon?" yes. vegan bacon tasting chickpeas.
serve on your classy plastic tote like the heathen you are.

mix everything together as you go, or eat separate!

So total cost of the meal, sans wine... like a few bucks. It was Andy's jasmine rice, maybe a half a cup of chickpeas, half a bag of those vegetables, and spices, coconut oil, and almond milk I already had on hand. Twas one incredibly filling totally vegan, glutard friendly feast. We are currently sipping coffee to take the edge off of the fullness, plus there are leftovers for tomorrow, and leftover plain chickpeas for making hummus.

Thanks Tamasin Noyes, I remember those potato skins she made at Singing Bowl I that had coconut flake bacon bits and recalled the wonderful combination of smoke + coconut = baconish flav. Check out her blog, she makes amazing things.

Cook strong chai wallahs. xoxoxo.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Manhattan Minimilalist Meal NĂºmero Uno

After an hour being stuck on the George Washington Bridge in the most epic of traffic jams (with such features as several semis cutting across four lanes of traffic) we finally got into the city, said screw it and parked the car in a garage for the night carrying what we could on our backs like slightly lighter skinned and lighter dressed sherpas, threw the carryings in our bedroom, hopped on the subway and had dinner at Carmine's with some family of Andy's that happened to be in town. Apparently they are known there for their massive portions for eating family style. We were an hour late for dinner, but there was still tons of scrumptious chow left, such as antipasto salad that was full of fat green and kalamata olives with little peperoncinis that burst in your mouth like flavor crystals, embarassingly squirting soppy juice on you. So technically first meal here was covered, with some leftovers to spare.

peanut butter + flax + sunflower seed + honey
Today we got the car from the garage, drove around in circles, watched a USPS truck almost get stuck, and unloaded all the rest of my crap. I had little to no desire to start cooking anything just yet, the knives, and my hand joints both need a rest. I made quick and dirty energy bite.

the supplies, sans that bottle of peach schnapps... not mine.

So most of what the pantry consists of is a massive tub of peanut butter, a box of Element Bars, many rices, beans, spices, and dehydrated things. I unfortunately forgot my smoothie additions in my mom's fridge, but those can easily be replaces... I do really want some Japanese green tea right now, dang.

Well, though lunch consisted of a bowl of bird seed and nut butter, dinner will be much more rich since we are going to Epicerie Boulud for dinner to kill 3 birds with one stone: eating, researching/spying on my possible new job, and hitting up Bed, Bath, and Beyond to get some bed lifts, because organizing a Manhattan apartment is like a large game of tetris.