Sunday, February 28, 2010



There’s not much more to say besides: I love borscht. I can’t even remember where I first had it but, to me, everything about it is bliss. I love the color, the vinegary flavor, the excuse for a dollop of sour cream. I like my borscht to be very hearty, especially in the vegetable department. You can adjust the meat-vegetable ratio, or cut down the vegetable quantities, if you like a brothier soup, or if you’re one of those unfortunate people who suffers from the potentially flatulent properties of cooked cabbage. If so, I pity you, I pity you.

2 lbs cubed beef for stew

1 tablespoon oil

1 medium onion, chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced

8 C beef pr vegetable broth

3 medium beets, peeled and cubed

3 carrots, peeled and sliced

3 stalks celery, sliced (optional—I haven’t seen celery in any recipes, but I’m such a celery nut right now that I can’t help adding it…)

2 potatoes, peeled and cubed (optional—I’ve seen potatoes in a lot of versions of borscht, but potatoes aren’t my favorite so I don’t usually use them—your choice!)

1/2 head green cabbage, cored and thinly sliced

2 bay leaves

1 tsp anise seeds

1 tsp caraway seeds

1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste

1 (8 ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained

1 teaspoon white sugar, or to taste

4-5 Tbs white vinegar

salt and pepper to taste

Sour cream and fresh or dried dill to garnish

Get out your giant soup cauldron and start by browning your beef in the tablespoon of oil. When it’s fragrant and golden, remove it to a plate with a slotted spoon and add the onions and garlic to the pot with the remaining oil/juices. Sauté until translucent. Add the broth to the pot, then the remaining vegetables and the bay leaves. If you have the means, crush or grind the seeds (even the handle of your knife with the back of your palm can make a big difference in opening up the flavors) before adding them to the pot with the browned beef. Cover and simmer 40 minutes. Add the remaining ingredients (tomato paste, diced tomatoes, sugar and vinegar) and simmer 20 minutes longer. Salt and pepper to taste. Serve with a dollop of sour cream and a sprinkle of dill.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

17 Week Comparative Shots


Once again it’s time to take a look at the belly progress. Here’s the 17-week shot with a fetus named Sawyer Francis


And here is Reginald Montgomery III. Hmm, still looks pretty much the same. Maybe I should stop taking these new pictures at 9 o’clock in the morning when I’m at my pregnant sveltest…


Gingered Cream of Chicken Soup

I did give this a try a day or two ago, but it needs a little work. If anyone is a master of creams soups, I’m ready for a tutorial. Pregnant or not, I’ve never liked really thick creamy soups, and usually use half and half and lots of broth to create something really light. When I had finished this soup, however, I realized that what I was craving was in fact a full-on cream soup, which, in retrospect, would have needed a roux and some milk…and a whole different approach.

What I made was tasty, though not particularly creamy, but I did love the combination of ginger and cream. Here’s what I did: Put a whole chicken in a pot of water (2 inches above the chicken) with an onion, some celery and 5 oz. of sliced ginger. I simmered this for about three hours, removed the chicken, strained the broth, and put them both in the fridge to cool. A few hours later I was able to remove the meat from the chicken and skim the fat off the top of the broth. From there I added carrots to the broth and let them simmer for 12 minutes, then added chopped chicken and one pint of heavy cream, salt and pepper to taste.

Next time I do this I’m going to take a different approach. I’ll use milk instead of broth and will simmer it with the cream and the ginger. In the meantime I’ll sauté some onion and celery, then puree them with the milk-cream (ginger removed). Then I’ll make a roux, add a little broth, then the milk-cream and some cooked chicken.

Does anyone have any recommendations?

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Yassa Poulet


Aka, the most sublime Senegalese dish ever. When I spent a summer in West Africa several years ago this was the thing that I ate the most, and the one that I’ve dreamt of eating the most in the 8 or so years since that summer.

The ingredients are fabulously simple, but the result is unexpectedly different from anything you’ve ever eaten. If you like onions, and you like vinegary sauces, this one is for you.

1/2 C peanut oil (peanut oil is pretty essential for true African flavor)

one 3-4 lb chicken, cut into pieces, or the equivalent weight of chicken legs or breasts (skin on or off, your choice)

6 onions, sliced (yes, SIX. Or more if you really love onions)

8-10 Tbs lemon juice (about 2 1/2 large lemons)

8 Tbs cider vinegar

2 bay leaves

2-4 cloves minced garlic

2 Tbs Arome Maggi® sauce or Maggi® cubes and water (this is a brand of seasoning widely used in West Africa; it is available at most grocery stores in the States, however a decent substitute would be soy sauce and Worcestershire sauce mixed together)

1 scotch bonnet chile pepper, cleaned and finely chopped (optional, I did not put this in)

2 Tbs fresh ground pepper

a small cabbage, cut into chunks (optional)

a few carrots, cut into chunks (optional)

Mix oil, lemon juice, vinegar, garlic, bay leaves, pepper and ground pepper in a large bowl or dish. Add the chicken pieces and stir to combine. Cover and let marinate in the fridge for 8 hours or overnight, stirring occasionally.


About 30-40 minutes before you’re ready to start eating, turn on the broiler and start a pot of rice on the stovetop. For maximum authenticity you should use white rice, but I only had brown this time around. Put the chicken on the broiler pan and the onions and marinade in a large pot over medium heat with the reserved vegetables (I was so excited about my Yassa that I totally forgot to add the veg this time, what a pity). Broil the chicken for about 6-8 minutes per side, while the onion mixture simmers. Remove the chicken from the oven and add it to the onion and marinade, and let simmer for 15-20 more minutes until the chicken is cooked, the onions are caramelized and the marinade is reduced to a syrupy sauce. Serve over rice.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Supermoist Whole Grain Banana Breakfast Muffins


I like weekend breakfasts to be a little bit special, with a little something out of the ordinary; no cereal allowed--unless it’s some awesome and nostalgic kind that we can’t normally afford to buy, like Cracklin’ Oat Bran, that suddenly went on sale for under $4 a box. When I decided on muffins this morning I of course got out my bags of whole wheat, barley, and rice flour, because I always use them in baking. They make the lightest, yummiest treats. And since I’ve been experimenting with using silken tofu in place of eggs for a friend whose son has allergies, I’ve decided that I should always replace an egg or two, as the tofu makes for a smooth texture and adds variety to the protein sources in our diet. End result: sweet, soft, springy, delicious, banana-full goodness, with the slightest hint of coconut and sunny overtones of honey.

3 medium bananas

1/3 C canola oil

1/2 C coconut milk

1/2 C honey

5 oz. silken tofu

1/2 C milk or soymilk

1 egg

1 tsp vanilla

2 Tbs brown sugar

1 C whole wheat pastry flour

1 C barley flour

1/2 C brown rice flour

1 1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

2 Tbs wheat germ

Peel bananas and place in food processor; pulse until cut into small chunks. Transfer bananas to a large mixing bowl.


Pour oil, coconut milk, honey and tofu to food processor and process until smooth. I just can’t express how much I love my food processor; I use it at least once almost everyday.


Add milk, egg, vanilla and brown sugar, and process again until well mixed. Pour mixture into mixing bowl with bananas. In a separate bowl whisk the dry ingredients together, then add them to the wet ingredients, stirring gently until just combined. Do not over mix. Spoon batter into greased muffin pan. Sprinkle nuts (walnuts used here) on some or all of the muffins, if you desire.


Bake at 375 degrees for 18-20 minutes, or until the top of muffins spring back when touched lightly. Allow muffins to cool in pan for 5 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.        

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Millet Pilaf


I made this today for the monthly cooking club meeting—the February theme was allergy-free cooking. This particular recipe contains NONE of the 8 major food allergens identified by the FDA. And of course it uses a little-used but so healthy grain—millet. Heh, and bacon. If anyone is interested in seeing other allergy-free recipes, you can take a look at the cooking club blog: though be warned that not all of the recipes are up yet.

4 slices bacon

1 medium apple, cored and chopped

1/8 tsp ground ginger

2 1/2 C chicken broth

1 C uncooked millet

1 green pepper, chopped

1 onion, chopped

Toast millet in a large skillet over medium heat for five minutes, shaking regularly, until it is fragrant. In the meantime, cook bacon in a large pot until crisp. Remove bacon with slotted spoon, reserving fat in pot. Crumble bacon and reserve.
Add onion, bell pepper, apple and millet to fat and sauté about 5 minutes or until onion is crisp-tender.
Stir in chicken broth and ginger. Heat to boiling; reduce heat.
Cover and simmer about 30 minutes or until millet is tender.
Sprinkle with reserved bacon.

Tropical Blueberry Shake



Yes, yes, it looks just like my tangy blueberry shake, but I promise you that the flavor is toute autre. In fact this shake is a flavor explosion, and is full of all sorts of goodness for humans looking to start their day off right.

1 banana

5 oz. silken tofu

1/2 C pineapple chunks

1 C frozen blueberries

1/2 C tangy fruit yogurt

1/3 C coconut milk

3 Tbl orange juice concentrate

a few drops of vanilla

milk or soy milk, if necessary

Put it all in your blender/food processor and puree until smooth. Add a little milk and blend again if the shake seems too thick.


Sunday, February 14, 2010

Flat Iron Steak with Green Sauce and Cheesy Mashed Cauliflower and Potatoes


Somehow, even though Chris took me to a Brazilian steak house for Valentine’s Day on Friday, I felt I hadn’t met my red meat quotient for the week. Actually this started with a huge flat iron steak that I found on sale at the store a few days ago. What the heck is a flat iron steak? I did a little research and it turns out it’s this hot new shoulder cut that everyone is into. So I found this sauce recipe on the Food Network, and made up the mashed cauliflower-potato dish. I have to give the sauce a huge thumbs up, though I think I’ll be tasting in for the next three days, so intense was it.

Steak and sauce:

1 1.5-lb Flat Iron steak (or any steak, probably)

1 cup flat-leaf parsley

1 shallot, coarsely chopped

3 tablespoons capers

6 fillets anchovies

2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

1 Tbs fresh ground Black pepper

Season the steak with salt and pepper, and while the grill is heating, toss the sauce ingredients in your food processor. Pretty!


All ready to go. Prepare to be flavor-blasted.


Steak is all grilled! Cut it horizontally into thin strips and top with sauce.


Mashed cauliflower and potatoes:   

2 large russet potatoes, peeled and cut into medium cubes

2 1/2 C cauliflower florets

3 Tbs butter

1/3 C milk

1 C grated jarlsburg or gruyere cheese

1/2 C grated parmesan cheese

1/2 tsp salt

fresh ground pepper to taste

Bring a large pot of water to boil. Add potatoes and cook five minutes, then add cauliflower. Cook 10-15 minutes longer until vegetables are soft. Drain, reserving 1/3 C liquid. Return vegetables and reserved liquid to pot on low heat, add butter and milk and mash with potato masher until smooth. Add cheese and stir until melted and well combined.


Indonesian Gado Gado


I originally encountered Gado Gado--basically a pile of stuff slathered in peanut sauce--in the Moosewood Cookbook, but I admit that I haven’t consulted the recipe in many, many moons, and don’t know how far I have strayed from its supposed authenticity. Ok, my curiosity got the best of me and I did a little research: looks like I haven’t changed things much from the cookbook, but according to internet sources gado gado usually includes blanched vegetables—cabbage, carrots, bean sprouts. I will try this sometime, but in the meantime I will promote my bastardized version which includes vitamin-packed spinach and lots of raw veg, something that probably most Americans (and especially pregnant ladies) need more of.

Here’s what you’ll need (to serve six with leftovers):

1 1/2 15-oz. packages extra firm tofu, cubed

1 lb boneless chicken (omit or substitute tempeh for vegetarian version)

3 stalks celery, chopped

3 large carrots, peeled and chopped

1 pkg sliced mushrooms

1 large red bell pepper, chopped

3 hardboiled eggs, diced

1 large can pineapple chunks

1 bag fresh spinach

1 large cucumber, seeded and chopped

1 bunch fresh basil or cilantro, chopped

2 1/2 C uncooked brown rice

Begin by baking your tofu. I avoid soy sauce in my marinade when I bake tofu because it has a tendency to burn and leave a gross, sour aftertaste. For this batch I mixed about 1/3 C red miso, the juice of 1 1/2 limes, 3 Tbs honey, 2 minced garlic cloves and 2 tsp Chinese hot sauce. Let the tofu sit in the marinade as long as possible, spread on a foil-lined baking sheet and bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes. Stir tofu with a spatula and flip the pieces as well as you can. Return to the oven for another 20 minutes. Let the cooked pieces cool on the cookie sheet before transferring to a bowl. Here’s my blissful batch:


While the tofu is baking you can start your peanut sauce, which tastes best if it has a little time for the flavors to meld:

3 cups creamy peanut butter

1/3 C to 1/2 C brown sugar

1 1/4 cup coconut milk

1/2 C water

6 tablespoons fresh lime juice

4 tablespoons soy sauce (use San-J or LaChoy for gluten-free version)

2 tablespoon fish sauce (omit for vegetarian version)

2 tablespoon hot sauce

2 tablespoon minced fresh ginger root

3 cloves garlic, minced

Mix all ingredients on low heat and stir regularly until smooth and simmering. Make any adjustments to the flavor or spices, and set aside. Next start your brown rice (5 1/2 to 6 C water, salt), which takes a little while to cook. Here are the rice and peanut sauce all ready to go.


While the rice is cooking you can get all your vegetables ready in little bowls for your guests. Obviously you could use whatever vegetables ring your bell, as well as use other fruits; I'm thinking mandarin oranges would be a good variation. The last thing to do is give the chicken (or tempeh) a quick stir-fry. I cut it into chunks and quickly cook it with soy sauce, honey, rice vinegar and a little canola oil. Now reheat the peanut sauce and call your guests.


Here’s the order of operations for gado gado:

1. Put a pile of rice on your plate, topped with spinach.

2. Load on as many of the little chopped bits as you like.

3. Marvel at how large your plate is getting.

4. Slather the whole pile with peanut sauce.

5. Wonder how you’re going to finish it all.

6. Be amazed that somehow you and everyone else finished their huge piles of goodness…

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Best Pregnancy Breakfast 5: Whole Grain German Pancakes


German pancakes were one of my favorite weekend breakfasts when I was a kid; it’s pretty magical how they puff up like an alien planet and then deflate into a buttery, custardy plane. Now, with the substitution of whole grain flours, they’re not a total nutritional loss. Too bad I’m going to have to slather them in syrup.

6 eggs

1 C milk or soymilk

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 C whole wheat flour

1/4 C barley flour

1/4 C brown rice flour

2 Tbs butter or margarine

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Place the 2 Tbs butter in a 9x13 pan, and put it in the oven while it’s pre-heating. Place all other ingredients in your blender or food processor and blend until well mixed and bubbly, like this.


When the oven is ready, and the butter is melted and sizzling, pull the pan out of the oven and pour the batter in.


Return pan to oven and bake for 17-20 minutes (less time at high altitudes, more time at low altitudes) until pancakes are puffy and golden (they puff a little less at high altitudes, unfortunately). Serve with your favorite sweet condiments: maple syrup, honey, powdered sugar, jam, etc. Here’s the action shot of the powdered sugar raining down. Mmm, these are so delicious, I’m eating them RIGHT NOW.


Friday, February 12, 2010

Comparative shots

Though this is unrelated to food, I thought it would be fun to keep track of the belly growth in relation to my first pregnancy. I started both at the same weight, but it sure seems like this one is popping out faster!

This is the 15-week shot with Sawyer.


And here’s the 15-week shot with unknown #2. Ok, so I guess they look pretty much the same, and I’m really shocked. We’ll see if the correlation continues.


Thursday, February 11, 2010

Roasted Eggplant Pizza



This is the culmination of a week-long dream of eating eggplant on something crusty and delicious and full of fresh basil (a current flavor obsession). When I made it tonight I only had one layer of eggplant, but I think it needs more. So in the recipe I’m recommending two. This pizza has a white sauce (olive oil, ricotta cheese) because I am just not feeling the tomato sauce lately. But I’m sure you could use tomato sauce instead and it would be very tasty.


1 1/2 C white flour

1 1/2 C wheat flour

1 tsp dry active yeast

2 tsp kosher salt

2 Tbs olive oil

1 1/4 C water

Combine all ingredients in your food processor. Process for 30 seconds until mixture forms a ball. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead a few times until smooth. Place in an oiled bowl and cover with a dish towel. Let rise in a warm place for 1-2 hours.


2 large eggplants

2-3 cloves garlic, minced

3 Tbs olive oil

2/3 C ricotta cheese

1/2 C fresh grated parmesan cheese

8 oz. buffalo mozzarella, sliced

1 bunch fresh basil, stems removed

olive oil for roasting eggplant, salt, pepper

Slice the eggplants into 1/4 in. slices. Salt slices generously and place in a colander to drain for 30 minutes. Rinse, line up in a single layer on two baking sheets, drizzle with olive oil and roast at 450 degrees for 12 minutes. Flip the slices with tongs and return to the oven for 10 more minutes. Place slices in a large bowl, drizzle with more olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Raise oven temperature to 500 degrees.

Press the crust onto a cookie sheet and brush with the 3 tablespoons olive oil. Spread the minced garlic, then use your fingers to spread the ricotta cheese over the crust. Line up half of the whole basil leaves over the ricotta cheese and sprinkle liberally with fresh ground pepper.


Lay a first layer of eggplant slices. Cover eggplant with mozzarella slices, and sprinkle parmesan on top. As you can see, this is where I did not have a layer of eggplant, but I recommend that you do.


Lay a final layer of eggplant slices on top of cheese. Chop remaining basil leaves and sprinkle over eggplant, then grind a final dousing of black pepper over the top.


Bake the pizza for 12-14 minutes.

Dark Chocolate Valentine Cookies



  There was a time when I  would make these cookies every Valentine’s Day and wrap them up in adorable little packages with red cellophane and red yarn. And then pregnancy, childbirth and a few intervening events stalled out the tradition. But now I’m back, and the chocolate is darker than ever. I’ve taken to using Hershey’s Special Dark cocoa powder in my baking. It has a flavor similar to Dutch process, but is even darker.

The recipe originally comes from a Mrs. Field’s cookie cookbook that got a lot of mileage in my childhood home. The cookies are supposed to be in crescent shape--I think they were called ‘Snowy White Chocolate Crescents,' come to think of it—but we had dubbed them ‘poo cookies.’ The dough, of course, is a suspicious brown color and stiff enough to make you look twice, and when the less artistically inclined in the household took to awkwardly trying to form crescent-shaped nuggets of dough…well, you can imagine the unfortunate, fecal-looking results. Anyway, I liked the texture and flavor of the cookies enough that somewhere along the line I made them my standard V-day cookie.

Just one thing: I absolutely loathe rolling out dough and using cookie cutters. I would probably rather clean the shower tiles with a toothbrush than undertake the thankless task of dusting, rolling, cutting, re-rolling…and then frosting. Ugh. So I form these by hand, and I really think it’s faster. Or at least it’s fast enough. And I like the homemade irregularity of the results. Luckily hearts are shaped nothing like turds (at least none of mine has ever been heart-shaped), so the poo association is pretty much gone.

1 C butter

3 C flour

2/3 C cocoa powder

1/2 tsp salt

2 C sugar

2 tsp vanilla

2 eggs

powdered sugar for dusting

Cream butter and sugar, add eggs and vanilla and beat well. Add dry ingredients and stir until combined (this will probably be a little too stiff for your mixer, if yours is a woosey handheld one like mine). See, it’s a little poo-like in dough form:


Form the dough into heart shapes (or whatever shape you want, really), and bake at 325 degrees for about 11 minutes. Let the cookies rest on the cookie sheet for 2-3 minutes before transferring to a cooking rack. When cookies are completely cool sift powdered sugar over the top.


Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Fennel Apple Salad


This is kind of hilarious. I saw a recipe for fennel apple salad on Mark Bittman’s NYTimes blog the other day and I fairly swooned. Stopped at the Sunflower Market on the way home and got myself a fennel bulb. Tonight I finally get a chance to make it, I get out my fixins, including walnuts, which I was sure were in there, and was halfway into my memory of Mr. Bittman’s recipe before I bothered actually consulting it. Turns out it was a fennel celery salad. With no walnuts. The reason it’s funny is because celery has been one of my number one, unstoppable cravings for the past few weeks. I sat in front of the computer yesterday and ate practically a whole bunch, with a little salt on each stalk, and what I didn’t eat went into a pot of soup (believe it or not, I don’t put everything I cook on the blog). So tonight when I realized my mistake not only was it inconceivable to me (misreading my favorite ingredient??), but I had used all the celery the day before. So…I proceeded with the original misreading and invented my own fennel apple salad. By the by: fennel is a natural aid to digestion, which is good for everyone, but it also has nausea-calming properties for pregnant ladies.

1 fennel bulb, tough outer layer removed

1 apple, peeled, cored and quartered (I used gala, but I bet a lot of people would like granny smith here)

3 Tbs toasted walnut pieces

loads of shaved parmesan

classic French vinaigrette:

1/4 C canola oil (I find that olive has a little too much flavor for this)

3 Tbs vinegar

2 Tbs French mustard (such as Maille)

Directions: Whisk together dressing ingredients until smooth; set aside. Thinly slice fennel bulb and apple with a mandolin, food processor, or a very sharp knife and lots of patience and band-aids. Toss together with walnuts, parmesan and dressing, finish with fresh ground black pepper. Chris isn’t typically a huge salad eater but he wolfed this one down and left me: no leftovers for tomorrow. Sigh.

Let the indulgence continue: BTAE Sandwich


Yes, I expect this will give me a heart-attack, but I will be in such rapture while eating it that I probably won’t mind. Yes, every once in awhile, one must treat oneself to such diner-ish food. In my defense, avocado is good fat, and I used whole wheat bread. Behold, the bacon-tomato-avocado-egg sandwich. With a little mayo. Try it sometime. Make sure the yolk is a little runny, and that there’s a dash of salt and fresh ground pepper on the avocado.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Lemon Coconut Cake Top Bread Pudding with Lemon Curd


This is really in opposition to pretty much everything else on this blog, and to the way that I usually eat, but as someone who wholeheartedly believes in occasional indulgence, and since this recipe idea has been cohering in my mind for several months, I am sharing it with you here. Probably the only health merit it has for a pregnant lady is the citrusy joy of the lemon curd. And the only merit it has for anyone else is the incomparable pleasure that he/she will have while eating it. So go forth and indulge, chers amis.

To give the tiniest bit of back story: November is the great birthday month in our family and so I necessarily did a lot of cake baking, and while doing so tossed all the cake tops (if you’re going to stack cakes you usually cut the tops off to make for even stacking surfaces) into a zip lock bag in the freezer, thinking that I might come up with an idea for them. Pretty quickly I thought, “What a devilish variation on bread pudding cake tops would make!” It wasn’t until I was in the throws of my particular first trimester cravings that I conceived of the lemon-coconut flavor idea.

When I finally did get started I had to make an extra 8-in layer of yellow cake because, truthfully, I had slyly been snacking from time to time on said frozen cake top bits. From there I modified Mark Bittman’s bread pudding recipe, as well as his lemon curd recipe (I cut the sugar in half to mediate the extra sweetness of the cake pudding). Here goes:

7 C yellow or white cake/cake tops cut into smallish chunks

3 C coconut milk

1/2 C sugar

1/4 tsp salt

3 eggs

juice and minced zest of one large lemon

Heat the coconut milk, sugar and salt until the simmering point, then pour over the cake; allow cake bits to sit for 5-10 minutes to absorb the milk. And here they are, soaking away:


In the meantime whisk the eggs briefly with the lemon juice and minced zest. Gently stir them into the cake-coconut mixture.


Spread this sloppy looking but truly delicious mess into a 9x13 pan. Bake at 350 for about 35 minutes (lower altitudes might need a few more minutes). The center should not be too jiggly and a knife inserted in the center should come out more or less clean (moist bits may cling, but nothing wet or eggy).


Serve with blessed lemon curd:

juice and minced zest of 3 medium lemons

1/2 C sugar

1 cube butter

3 eggs, lightly beaten

Heat lemon juice, zest, butter and sugar over low heat until butter melts and sugar dissolves. In a slow steady stream whisk in the beaten eggs, making sure the heat stays very low. Continue stirring until the curd begins to thicken, about 6-8 minutes. I like the pass my curd through a sieve to remove any eggy bits, but this also takes out the zest—your choice. Chill the curd in the refrigerator with plastic wrap pressed directly on the surface (to avoid it forming a skin), until ready to serve.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Crêpe Extravaganza!


I know that a crêpe extravaganza the way the Grays do it isn’t within reach of most people, simply because they lack the elite and rarified crêpière that makes it possible. But don’t feel left out: I had to sell my soul to my friend Sarah who was going to France, who then sought it out for me and shipped it to the States. After already being $125 invested, we discovered that we needed not just an ordinary voltage converter to make it work, but a 25-lb TRANSFORMER from China, which we got on Ebay for about $80. So it’s been a labor of love. It took us probably 18 months before we finally had the maiden voyage. But it was so worth it. Whenever we have friends over for a crêpe extravaganza it blows their minds. I know you’re thinking, “What’s the deal, they sell crêpières in the States!” But not this kind. Scroll down and you’ll see what I mean. Ordinary mortals will be able to mimic the flavor, but not the fun, of crêpe madness à la Gray Family. My recommendation would be to make all the crêpes ahead of time, and let your guests top them individually and reheat them in the microwave or on the stove top...unless you’re ready to sell your soul to someone headed to France who’s willing to either ship it or carry it home on the plane, in which case I recommend buying it at the BHV or the Galleries Lafayette.

In France there are savory crêpes called galettes, which are made with buckwheat flour, whereas the sweet ones, simply called crêpes, are made with white flour and a little sugar. I haven’t found a good source for buckwheat flour, and I’m just a little too lazy to make two different batters. So I put some whole wheat flour in my basic crepe batter and call it good for both savory and sweet:

1 C white flour

1 C whole wheat flour

1/4 tsp salt

2 1/2 C milk

2 eggs

3 Tbs canola oil or melted butter

I like to just whirl it all in the blender to make sure there are no lumps. You should let your batter sit for at least 30 minutes before starting—it will thicken up. Add a little extra milk if it seems too thick. This batch is all ready to go.


Now time to think about the toppings. It’s great to have guests because they always come up with things that you don’t think of yourself. Some of our favorite savory toppings are--

meat: ham, grilled marinated chicken, bacon, Italian sausage.

cheese: jarlsburg (the poor man’s gruyere), blue, feta, fresh mozzarella.

vegetables: mushrooms sautéed with garlic and rosemary, caramelized onions with balsamic vinegar, diced roasted beets, pickled carrots, pickled or steamed asparagus, sliced green or kalamata olives, sundried tomatoes.

other: some good mustard on the side!

Here are the mushrooms and onions all ready to go.


And the table is set: notice the beloved family-style crêpière. Each diner has his own little tool to flip his crêpe and close it over the toppings of his choice.


Close-up on the cheeses and ham…


Those crêpes are totally ready to be flipped. Onions, beets, etc. watch from afar.


The first delicious essais.


Annah in action closing her bursting, ham- and beet-filled crêpe.


The next stage, which I failed to photograph, is obviously the dessert crêpe extravaganza. Some of our favorite sweet toppings are: Nutella (duh), bananas, strawberries, cream cheese, pepper jelly, various jams, maple syrup, ricotta cheese, peanut butter/almond butter, marshmallow cream, caramel sauce.

Best Pregnancy Breakfast 4: PB-Banana Shake

Another one of our favorite family breakfast treats, this shake adds a protein kick to get you through the morning. Or if you’re a pregnant lady like me, it’ll get you through the next two hours.

1 1/4 C milk or soy milk

1 1/2 frozen bananas, sliced

Half of a 15-oz. package of silken tofu

2 Tbs maple syrup

2-3 Tbs natural smooth peanut butter


Put it all in the blender and blend…..


….until you have two glasses of creamy, luxurious deliciousness.


Friday, February 5, 2010

Curried Chicken Salad Sandwiches in Homemade Pita


Dreamy, dreamy, dreamy. That’s all I have to say. For the pita recipe see the post of the same name. Here’s how I do my curried chicken salad:

2 cooked chicken breasts, shredded or cubed (canned chicken also works great for chicken salad; 2 12-oz cans ought to do it)

2 stalks celery, diced

2 green onions, thinly sliced

1/3 C raisins

3 Tbs toasted walnut pieces

2-3 tsp curry powder

1/2 tsp ground coriander

1/2 tsp ground ginger

1 Tbl honey


(Diced red pepper would also be great in this, but I was all out.)

Directions: mix everything together, adjust your seasonings, etc. If you like your curried things to be exceedingly yellow, you can add a little turmeric. As for the mayo: I don’t like to tell people how much to use; I feel like mayo is a really personal thing. My mother-in-law mixes mayo and plain yogurt and has great success with that. Your mayo quotient is really up to you. As for the sandwich, I recommend tomato slices and some good, crispy lettuce leaves!