Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Orange-Roasted Tofu and Asparagus

serves 4


So I have a new goal for this blog: to cook through most or at least many of the recipes that I have gathered from cooking magazines in the past few years. They’re all collected in a big notebook where I’ve been trimming and pasting them in, a monument to the old analog age. There are hundreds of them, but I’ve probably tried under ten; I’d like to make an effort to remedy that. The recipes are taken from Gourmet, Bon Appétit, Eating Well, Healthy Cooking, Vegetarian Times, and Saveur Magazines—with the occasional Martha Stewart contribution. The most daunting part of the project will definitely be the dessert section; I tend to save waaayyy more dessert recipes than I have occasions to make dessert, but luckily we’re coming into birthday season…

To kick off this new endeavor is a totally delightful recipe adapted ever so slightly from Eating Well. I loved this, and Chris liked it…for a racquetball night (ie: something light that will allow him to go exercise right after eating). We served it with quinoa (cooked with chicken broth), but you could also use brown rice or soba, rice or udon noodles.

1 14-oz package extra firm tofu, rinsed and pat dry

1 lb asparagus, trimmed and cut into 2-in pieces


2 Tbs oil (peanut, coconut, canola, etc.)

1 Tbs red miso

1 Tbs rice wine vinegar


2 Tbs oil (same as above)

1 Tbs red miso

1 Tbs rice wine vinegar

2 Tbs minced freshly grated orange zest

juice of one orange

3 Tbs minced fresh basil

2 Tbs honey

1 tsp soy sauce

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil, spray with non-stick cooking spray. Toss tofu with marinade, then roast for 15 minutes. Gently stir in asparagus and roast 8-10 minutes more, until asparagus is tender and tofu is browned. Toss the roasted tofu and vegetables with the sauce, and serve with rice, noodles or quinoa.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Baba Ganouj

Makes about 2 cups


Sing with me now: “I’m in heaven, nightshade heaven…” I’m glad lots of people don’t like eggplant—more for me! Here is a recipe for the unforgettable Middle Eastern roasted eggplant dip, made from garden eggplants

1-1 1/2 pounds eggplant

olive oil for roasting

1/4 C tahini

1 clove garlic

2-3 Tbs lemon juice

3 Tbs olive oil

salt to taste

First you need to roast your eggplants. Coat them with olive oil and place them on a foil- or parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Bake at 400 degrees for about an hour until eggplants are shriveled and easily pierced with a fork.


When cool enough to handle, peel the eggplants and place the flesh in the blender or food processor with remaining ingredients. Process until smooth. Serve with pita, crackers, raw vegetables, etc.

Zucchini Madness III: Bacon-Feta Summer Squash Muffins and Spicy, Honey-Sweet Zucchini Bread

The race to keep up with the squash plants continues, and this afternoon my kitchen was positively aflame while the toddler napped and the newborn nestled against my chest in the sling. The result: more savory muffins, this time with the unexpected combination of feta and bacon, and secondly a dark, spicy zucchini bread with natural sugar sources and whole grain flours.

Bacon-Feta Summer Squash Muffins

makes 12 muffins

1/2 C olive oil

1 C plain yogurt

2 eggs

1 green onion, minced

3 strips bacon, cook until crisp and crumbled

4 oz. feta cheese, crumbled

3 C grated summer squash

1 1/2 C whole wheat flour

1 C barley flour

1 1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp Greek seasoning (or a mix of garlic, oregano, mint, fennel)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Whisk together oil, yogurt and eggs. Stir in bacon, feta and squash. Mix dry ingredients in a separate bowl, then add to wet. Stir until just combined. Fill twelve muffing cups completely full.


Bake for 20-25 minutes.


Spicy, Honey-Sweet Zucchini Bread

Makes one large loaf

1/2 C oil

1 C honey

1/2 C maple syrup

1/2 C milk

2 eggs

3 C grated zucchini

1 1/2 C whole wheat flour

1 C barley flour

1 C brown rice flour

2 tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

1 Tbs ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp ground cloves

1/2 ground nutmeg

1/4 tsp cardamom

Whisk together oil, honey, syrup, milk and eggs. Stir in zucchini. Mix dry ingredients in a separate bowl, then add to wet. Stir until just combined. Pour into a well-greased 9-in loaf pan.


Bake for 50-55 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.


Zucchini Madness II: Garden Strata and Basil Squash Cakes

The quest for original ideas for use of excess squash continues. We had the strata with dinner last night and the cakes were my lunch today. Honestly, I never get tired of these vegetables. They’re so light and adaptable!

Garden Strata

serves 4


4 C stale bread, cubed (we used a mix of sourdough and roasted garlic)

2 C grated zucchini and/or yellow squash

1/2 red pepper, diced

1/4 C minced red onion

1/2 C diced cooked sausage (we used andouille)

1/2 C coarsely chopped fresh basil leaves

1 C milk

2 eggs

1/2 C shredded cheese (we used cheddar jack)

salt and pepper

Salt the squash and place it in a colander to drain 15 minutes. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Squeeze out liquid from squash and combine with remaining ingredients. Stir until combined. Pour mixture into a greased 8-in square pan. Bake for 40-45 minutes, until crispy, golden and cooked through.


Basil Squash Cakes

makes 6 cakes


2 C shredded zucchini and/or yellow squash

1 green onion, minced

1 clove garlic, minced

1/2 C panko bread crumbs

1/4 C coarsely chopped fresh basil

1/4 C fresh grated parmesan cheese

1/4  diced fresh mozzarella cheese

salt and pepper

Mix all ingredients.


Heat a skillet over medium heat, drizzle with olive oil. Cook the cakes for 7-8 minutes per side until crispy.    

Monday, August 23, 2010

Harmony’s Creamy Pesto Dip

Makes about 2 cups


My delightful neighbor Harmony, author of the inspiring A Healthier You, recently gave us a container of her luscious and uber-healthy pesto dip. Chris and I both went crazy for it. So, having cornered her this morning where our fences meet, I asked her for the recipe. She said that she makes pesto with basil, garlic, olive oil and lemon juice (she didn’t say whether or not she adds pine nuts), then blends it into silken tofu. I came straight home and made my own batch with the quantities below.

1 16-oz container silken tofu, drained

1 clove garlic, peeled

1 C loosely packed fresh basil leaves

1 Tbs lemon juice

3 Tbs olive oil

salt to taste

Puree all ingredients in your blender or food processor.

Chris and I mostly dipped crackers and vegetables into the batch that Harmony gave us, but for lunch today I tried a few other things with my dip. I was in the mood for pasta, but I didn’t want to forgo my greens, nor did I want to turn on the stove top and start chopping stuff. So my solution was to eat my pasta over a spinach salad, and hence the Tortellini Spinach Salad was born:


I added strips of red pepper, some diced avocado and about 10 halved grape tomatoes to a pile of spinach, topped with cooked spinach-ricotta tortellini and a beautiful glob of the pesto dip. I had planned on drizzling a little balsamic vinegar, but went to my pantry and found NONE! One more thing to add to the shopping list…

I also tossed a few tablespoons of the dip with the rest of the cooked tortellini and put it in the fridge—I’m pretty sure Chris will WEEP when he finds that snack in there later today.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Zucchini Madness I: zucchini fritters and zucchini french bread pizza

Makes 8-10 fritters and 2 8-in long pizzas

The season is upon us. The season of zucchini door ditching—look out, I might be leaving some on a porch near you. Last night I did my best to incorporate the intimidating harvest into some dishes that would be a little bit novel for Chris, who, in truth, doesn’t even like zucchini very much. I thought they both turned out great—the pizza especially, due to the deeply flavored roasted tomatoes. But more about that in a minute; let’s start with the fritters.

I had never made fritters before—in fact, I’m not sure that I’d ever eaten them. So I went to the internet and found a highly rated and very easy recipe—after all, I’ve got a newborn on the boob and a toddler on my lap, and right now simplicity takes precedence over culinary innovation and complexity. Therefore: this recipe has some ingredients that I wouldn’t ordinary use (out of excessive snobbiness and mild obsession), but they won’t kill ya, and next time I try them I’ll experiment with whole grain flours and natural seasonings. Conclusion: I loved the crispy edges and the fluffy center, and think they deserve a place in the pantheon of zucchini door ditching season favorites.


2 C grated zucchini

1/2 C milk

1 egg

1 C flour

1/2 oz. ranch dressing seasoning

1 1/2 tsp baking soda

Mix all ingredients until combined. Heat 1/2 to 1 inch canola oil in a large skillet. Drop four fritters (about 1/4 C batter each) into the oil. Cook about 4-5 minutes per side until golden and puffed up.



And now the French bread pizzas (which could, of course, be made on regular ole pizza dough—we had half a loaf of delicious homemade bread left over from generous friends who brought us dinner after Fielding was born). As I said above, what really set these apart was the roasted tomato topping, which idea I pilfered from Passionate About Baking. Except that I had exactly five extremely ripe tomatoes when her recipe called for much more, so I knew that it wouldn’t go far. But the flavor is so deep, so resonant, it was the perfect way to use up tomatoes that were on their way out. All you do is half and seed your tomatoes, salt them and let them drain for a few minutes, then drizzle them well with olive oil and put them in a 250 degree oven for 4-5 hours--I used the toaster oven. By that time they should be shriveled, soft, and pungently flavored. Mash them up or put them in the food processor, and then you can either spread them on pizza crust, canapes, or pack them in oil and preserve them in the fridge for awhile. Here are mine, all mashed up:


1/2 C roasted tomatoes, chopped or mashed

1 link cooked sausage (we used andouille)

1 medium zucchini, sliced into thin ribbons using a vegetable peeler or mandolin

1/2 green pepper, thinly sliced

1 clove garlic, minced

1 Tbs lemon juice

shredded cheese (we used cheddar jack)

Slice your 8-in hunk of baguette horizontally. Drizzle olive oil on each half, rub with a clove of garlic and toast until lightly browned.

While bread is toasting, sauté the garlic and green pepper in a little olive oil until they begin to soften. Add the zucchini, stirring frequently until soft. Add lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.


Spread roasted tomatoes on each baguette half, top with sliced sausage, zucchini mixture and cheese.


Broil until cheese is melted and beginning to brown.


Monday, August 16, 2010

Savory Summer Squash Muffins

makes 12 muffins


The garden—and in particular the squash plants—is running amok. I’ve already got three bags of frozen shredded zucchini waiting to emerge on a winter day in need of a little sunshine. And now the summer squash is starting to overwhelm me, and I am kind of sick of sweet quick breads (blasphemy!). Enter the savory muffin! I have great plans to experiment on this technique, especially since my friend Lisa recently shared with me that she’s been making muffins on the BBQ (!!). But for round one, I made a fairly basic incarnation of the savory muffin.

1/2 C oil (olive or canola)

1 C milk + 1 Tbs lemon juice (mixed together and left to curdle 5 minutes—or if you have real buttermilk, even better!)

2 eggs

2-3 C shredded summer squash

1/4 C minced chives or green onion

1 C whole wheat flour

3/4 C all-purpose flour

1/2 C barley flour

1/2 tsp salt

1 1/2 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp dried dill

1 tsp Parisian bonnes herbes

1/2 – 1 C shredded cheese (I used cheddar jack)

Whisk together oil, milk + lemon juice and eggs, then stir in squash and chive/onion. In a separate bowl whisk together dry ingredients (including spices). Add dry ingredients to wet, stirring until just combined. Gently incorporate shredded cheese. Preheat oven to 350. Fill muffin cups close to full. Bake 18-20 minutes, or until muffin tops spring back when touched.

Sliced in half, toasted, with some scrambled egg and ham…about the most satisfying breakfast I can think of.


Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Freezer meals part I: Enchiladas for all palates

Serves 5-6


In preparation for the transition from one-child family to two-child family, the difficulties and challenges of which will rear their ugly head after all of my generous helpers have left off cooking and doing dishes for me at the end of the week, mom has been helping me plan and execute some healthy freezer meals. This one includes some of the basic necessities of the different members of the household—meat for Chris, vegetables for me, white tortillas for Chris, whole wheat tortillas for me, Tex-Mex deliciousness for both of us.

Tortillas—I used two white, two whole wheat (both burrito-size), and four 6-in. corn

1 lb ground turkey

1 onion. chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 zucchini, sliced

1-2 green peppers, chopped

1 15-oz. can diced tomatoes

1 can chopped green chilies

1 15-oz. can black beans, drained

2 Tbs taco seasoning

cheese (cheddar jack or pepper jack are good choices)

jarred or homemade salsa

cilantro-lime sauce (I’ve been putting this on everything lately—you can find the recipe with my fish tacos.)

Enchilada sauce (from a can or packet)

Sauté onion and garlic in a little olive oil until translucent. Add turkey and cook until browned. Stir in zucchini and peppers and cook five minutes. Add tomatoes, green chilies and seasoning. Cover and cook 5-7 minutes, until vegetables are tender. Add black beans and cook a few more minutes until liquid evaporates.


Grease a 9x13-in pan. Lay your tortillas out on the counter. Spread a glob of filling in each, followed by a sprinkling of cheese, a spoonful if salsa and a drizzle of cilantro-lime sauce. Fold up the enchiladas and wedge them into the pan together


Pour enchilada sauce over, sprinkle with additional cheese. At this point you can freeze them as is, or bake them first, and then freeze them. Bake for 35 minutes at 350 degrees. Reheat at 250 degrees for 30 minutes.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Pear Custard Tart

Serves 8


I’m not sure why there is such a proliferation of desserts on here lately—we really aren’t eating all that much dessert. We have had company since Fielding was born, and that was the occasion for this particular delight. And when I say delight, I mean deeeee-light. My mother has declared this “one of the all-time great desserts” that she has tasted in her life time. That’s saying a lot, coming from someone with a sweet tooth and who has all manner of sweet lusciousness to choose from when picking a life-time frontrunner for number one. The great advantage to this tart is that you can whip it up in about 15 minutes, making it ideal for casual weeknights and unexpected guests.


1/2 C cold butter, cut into chunks

1/4 C white sugar

1 1/2 C flour (I always combine whole wheat and white flours)

pinch salt

1 tsp vanilla

1-2 Tbs cream, half and half or milk



2-3 pears peeled and sliced

1/4 butter at room temperature

1 C sugar

2 eggs

1 tsp vanilla

pinch salt

1/4 C flour

For crust: place flour, sugar, butter and salt in the food processor and process until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Slowly add vanilla and milk until dough comes together into a ball. Press crust into greased 9-in pie pan, tart pan or spring form pan and refrigerate until ready to fill. (I always use foil in my spring form pan because I have bad luck getting it to release well on such crusts…I don’t know why.)



For the filling: Set the pears aside. Place remaining ingredients in the food processor and blend until smooth. Peel, core and slice the pears; arrange them in a circular pattern in the crust and pour the filling over. Bake at 350 degrees for 45-55 minutes.


 IMG_8028 IMG_8029

For a variation: substitute almond extract for vanilla, sprinkle sliced, toasted almonds on top, and/or add 1/2 ground almonds to the crust.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Provencal Stuffed Garden Vegetables

Serves 4-6


Yes, I made and photographed these before Fielding arrived. I was actually kind of a kitchen tornado in the days preceding his arrival—I must have sensed it, because we came home to some tasty leftovers and snacks and, thank goodness, a manageable overflow from the garden (boy did we grow one hell of a zucchini during our 30-hr hospital stay).

6-8 stuffable vegetables, such as tomatoes, onions, pattypan squash, etc.

1 lb ground meat (I used turkey) or sausage

1 onion, chopped

2-3 cloves garlic

5-6 large mushrooms

1 C chopped fresh basil

1 15-oz. diced tomatoes

1 C uncooked brown rice

1 1/2 C water or broth

1/2 C diced cured black olives


grated parmesan

bread crumbs

First hollow out your vegetables, saving all of the innards. I used both a melon baller and a grapefruit spoon, depending on the shape and texture of the vegetable.


Next, sauté the onions and garlic until translucent. Add the ground meat or sausage and cook until no longer pink. Add the mushrooms and basil and continue sautéing until soft.


Add the rice, diced tomatoes, vegetable inards (I pulsed them in the food processor beforehand) and water/broth. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat to low and let simmer until rice is tender and liquid is absorbed.


If your vegetables are especially dense or big, as onions and pattypan squash are, you should parboil them for about 10 minutes before stuffing. Otherwise just fill the cavities with the rice mixture, and top with finely grated parmesan and bread crumbs.


Mix the remaining rice with more grated parmesan and spread it in a 9 x 13 in. pan. Place the stuffed vegetables on top. Cover loosely with foil and bake for one hour at 350 degrees.


Pregnant Lady finally gets bun out of oven

At long last, I’ve been delivered of my pelvic burden, in the form of the handsomest, sweetest little 8lb wonder ever. Fielding Christopher Gray left the oven a few days ahead of schedule, on Sunday Aug. 1. What a great birthday that is. Here are a few shots of his first few days.

Daddy setting him down for the big weigh-in (8lbs 1.5oz):


That’s one proud papa.


I think everyone has gotten a glimpse of this curly mop by now. That was right after his bath—I don’t think it will look like that all the time. Right now he’s got sort of a 1940’s film star wave going on.


Relaxing evening at the hospital after making his big debut.

IMG_7972 IMG_7974 IMG_7978

We came home yesterday and Stella was so eager to make his acquaintance; they’re pals already.


The big question is whether the blog will go on now that the Pregnant Lady is no longer pregnant. Well, she’s still pretty hungry….