Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Salmorejo Cordobés

Salmorejo is a cold, tomato-based dip/soup from the Córdoba region of Spain where I lived for 4 months last year. It's easy to make and tastes really healthy and refreshing. I guess it's more of a "summery" food, but I hope that you all, like me, think the idea of seasonal food is outrageously stupid. Does anyone know what I mean? Sometimes it's scorching outside, and all I want is a fat bowl of chili or a chicken pot pie. Or sometimes it's freezing and stormy, like now, and all I want is a milkshake. Seasonal fruit is different, though. Well, before I get started rambling again, I'll promise you that Salmorejo is delicious year round. I made it last week for a potluck and it got rave reviews!

You will need:
3-5 large, ripe Beefsteak tomatoes
1/8 C olive oil (maybe a little more if you're using 5 tomatoes)
1 1/2 Tbsp. White Wine vinegar
2 cloves garlic
1 egg (optional)
Salt & Pepper to taste
1-2 slices toasted sandwich bread
Baguette Bread

Cut 2 of the tomatoes into quarters, then move into a blender with the olive oil, vinegar, and garlic. Blend, gradually adding the rest of the tomatoes, until smooth. Tear a piece of toast into smaller pieces and blend with the tomato mixture until smooth. If it still looks like a melted fruit smoothie, blend in more pieces of toast until it starts looking "creamy". In the meantime, hard-boil the egg if you're using one (10 minutes on a full boil), and toast the baguette in the oven at about 300 for about 5 minutes.
Pour the salmorejo into a bowl and sprinkle with the sliced hard-boiled egg. Diced, pan-fried ham is also good to sprinkle on top if you're a fan of ham. This is best eaten out of a small bowl, using your bread more than your spoon. This recipe makes a lot, but trust me It'll be gone before you can say "Ciencias Locas" (Mad Sciences, if I'm not mistaken).

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Two Bean Falafel

This recipe is modified from the one I usually use, which is from a vegan cookbook ("vegan with a vengeance" by Isa Chandra Moskowitz). The differences here are that I used pinto beans along with the usual garbanzos/chickpeas, left out the onions (just because I didn't have any) and baked the falafels instead of fry them like the book says. They're delicious fried as well, but I find it's hard to keep them from falling apart, plus they're healthier and there's not as much of a mess to clean up.
It looks like a long list of ingredients, but these are actually pretty easy to make. I mixed all the dry ingredients together in a bag the night before, and then all i had to do was pour it in!

1 3/4 C cooked chickpeas, drained and rinsed if canned.
1/3 C canned pinto beans (reserve 1/8 C of the juice)
1/4 C bread crumbs
2 Tbsp. all purpose flour
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. ground coriander
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/3 C flat-leaf parsley
1/2 tsp. salt
a few dashes of black pepper
pita bread (the pocket kind)

Chop the beans into a paste in a blender or food processor. transfer to a bowl and add the dry ingredients. mix lightly with a spoon. cut the stems off the parsley and chop it up really small. add to the batter and stir. wet your hands and knead the batter until mixed well. If my psychic powers are correct, the batter will be a bit dry, so add the 1/8 cup of bean juice for some extra moisture. (don't say "eewww" that's not polite!) spray or rub a baking sheet with olive oil. roll batter into golf-sized balls, then flatten with your hands until you have patties about 2 inches in diameter. place on baking sheet and spray with more olive oil.
bake 15 minutes, then turn the patties over and bake for another five minutes. cut the pitas in half and serve with your favorite falafel toppings (cucumber, lettuce, tomato, etc.).

Monday, January 11, 2010

Spicy Persimmon Chutney

While riding my bike, I found a box full of free persimmons in front of someone's house and proceeded to go persimmon crazy for the next 3 weeks or so (yeah, there were that many). Having never really cooked with them before, I saw this as a true mad science opportunity. I thought I would try making a pie or pudding, but my friend suggested I try making chutney and the rest is history. The thing to remember is the four C's: Cardamom, Coriander, Cloves, and Chili Powder. This chutney is good with almost anything! Try it on samosas/Indian food, or with cheese and crackers. I actually really like to put it on pancakes.

-7-10 VERY RIPE fuyu persimmons
-1 3/4 C sugar
-1/2 C water
-2 Tbsp. Chili Powder
-1 1/2 Tbsp. ground Coriander seed
-1 Tbsp. ground Cardamom
-1 tsp. ground cloves

Pull the stems off the persimmons and peel off part of the skin from the opening under the stem. Scrape out all the pulp into a large saucepan and discard the skins. Mix the persimmon pulp, sugar, and water over medium heat. Add the spices and bring to a low boil. Simmer, stirring occasionally until the mixture thickens to a "jammy" consistency (about 15-20 minutes). If you think it's too thick, add more water. Remove from heat and spoon into a large jam jar. It should keep for about a month in the fridge, but I really can't be sure since it never lasts that long =]


FYI: If you've never eaten or cooked with persimmons before, just know they have to be EXTREMELY ripe, or they'll be grainy, bitter, and all around vile. Try squeezing one gently. If it feels the teensiest bit firm, it's not ready yet. Wait until it's squishy all the way around.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

"Wooden Bird" Coffee Liqueur

Like Kahlua? You'll like this better! I made this for Christmas presents this year and it was a big hit! I found it in my mom's old recipe box and added my own pizzaz, in the form of Chinese five-spice powder. It gives the liqueur an interesting little kick without it being overpowering. This stuff makes a great gift and and even better White Russian.

BEWARE: This recipe makes 1 and 1/4 gallons, so be prepared to either give a lot of it away as gifts or live on it for the next couple months.

-6 C sugar
-6 C water
-1/2 cup instant coffee crystals (like Folger's)
-1/2 cup vanilla flavor OR 2 vanilla beans
-1/2 gallon vodka
-1 Tbsp. Chinese five-spice powder

Mix sugar, water and coffee crystals in a large pot with the vanilla beans, but reserve the vanilla extract if you're using that.
Bring to a boil and simmer for 2 hours, then remove beans or add extract.
Tear open a tea bag, remove the tea. Add the five-spice and sew it shut. Hang the tea bag into the death brew. (You can also use a coffee filter, but it will eventually dissolve if it sits in the brew too long). A piece of t-shirt would probably work too. You get it, anything that filters.
Let it sit for at least 6 hours, then stir in the vodka and let it sit for at least another 6-12 hours (I think this is called "marrying")
Remove the tea bag and pour the finished liqueur into pretty jars or bottles. Your friends will think you're a genius!

Cous Cous Salad

I have this scrawled into my lab manual as "Yummy Cous Cous Dinner" but the only reason this should ever be a dinner and not a snack or a side dish is if you are either one of my lab rabbits or are on a diet, and we all know dieting is for losers.
This is easy, fast, weird hippy comfort food that I invented one day from random things I found in my cupboard, so don't be afraid to get creative, or should I say "don't be afraid to go all mad science apeshit" with this one.

1 cup Cous Cous
Pinch Salt
1/2 Tbsp. Butter or Buttery Spread or whatever you kids are using these days
1 cup water
Chopped fresh apricots (dried is okay too)
Chopped parsley
Chopped roasted almonds
1 Tbsp. Toasted Sesame Seeds

In a small saucepan, bring water, salt, and butterstuff to a boil.
remove from heat and stir in cous cous.
cover and let stand for 5 minutes.
Uncover and stir in remaining ingredients. I find it's best to enjoy this right out of the pot. It's a good "lazy food"

Oh, and here are some cute onion animal babies I made with my Lox N' Bagel leftover at Café Pannini. Ain't they the darndest? Who needs pets when you've got something this cute, and this EDIBLE? Kind of reminds me of that Shel Silverstein poem about the kid who had the pet hot dog. Or maybe I'm taking this too far.
Correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe it goes something like this:
I have a hot dog for a pet
The only kind my folks would let me get
He does smell sort of bad, and yet
he absolutely never gets the sofa wet
We have a butcher for a vet
the strangest vet you ever met
guess we're the weirdest family yet
to have a hot dog for a pet.

Special thanks for this post go to hunger, Shel Silverstein, and the fourth grade.

Veggie-friendly chili with blueberry cornbread!

Good for those cold winter nights or anytime you need to get your chili on, which for me is all the time, year round! The blueberry cornbread idea comes from a restaurant I go to back home in Orange County called the Beach Pit BBQ. If you've never had blueberry cornbread, you're seriously missing out and need to make this right now! I don't actually know how to make cornbread, so I use the boxed kind and just add blueberries. I know, I know, not very mad science-ey of me, but now at least I feel like I HAVE to learn how to make it from scratch (future post!??!?!)
Also, I have never measured the spices I use to make this, so keep taste-testing it along the way to see if it needs more of anything)

-1/2 of a large onion or 1 smaller onion, diced.
-3 cloves garlic, diced.
-1 large can tomatoes, or 4-5 itty bitty cans tomato sauce (run the tomatoes through the blender if you want it smooth)
-1 15 oz. can Kidney Beans
-1 1/2 cups water
-1/2 tube Soyrizo (fake chorizo available in the produce section of supermarkets or the fake meat section of trader joe's)
-2 Tbsp. Cumin
-3 Tbsp. Chili Powder
-1 Tbsp. Cayenne Pepper
-1 tsp. Red "hot" pepper
-1 Tbsp. Black Pepper
-1 tsp. Cinnamon
-1/2 tsp. Liquid Smoke (optional)
-1 block Mexican chocolate or 1 Hershey bar
-Salt to taste
-Oil for frying

Heat oil and fry onions for 3-4 minutes. Add garlic until brown. Pour in tomatoes/sauce and beans with juice and stir. Add Soyrizo and stir.
Bring mixture to a boil. Add spices and chocolate. Turn down heat and simmer for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally to dissolve the chocolate. If it's too thick, add the water gradually until it's just right. If it's too soupy and you want it thicker, mix some corn starch or Masa flour with 1/2 cup water and stir into the chili.
Remove from heat and serve with shredded cheese, chives, sour cream, or anything that tastes good with chili. I've also tried this on top of baked potatoes and it's wonderful!

1 box cornbread mix (I use Jiffy, which asks for 1 egg and 1/3 cup milk They don't call it Jiffy for nothing!)
about 1 cup blueberries.

Prepare cornbread according to directions. Once batter is ready, stir in blueberries. Put into greased baking dish or muffin tin and bake. Voila!

Breakfast Potatoes!

After hours and hours of trial and error in the lab, I think it's safe to say that my breakfast potatoes are worthy of your stomach lining. These are the only breakfast potatoes you will ever need, I promise. So if your mom or boyfriend or girlfriend has their own special potato recipe, you might want to skip this one, because it just wouldn't be fair to them.

-3 medium-sized russet potatoes; rinsed, rubbed, and cubed (but not peeled).
-pinch salt
-1/2 tsp. black or mixed pepper, preferably fresh from the grinder.
-1 tsp. paprika
-1/2 tsp. dried dill, or a couple pinches of torn-up fresh dill
-dash of lemon juice
-olive oil for frying

heat oil until bubbles gather around a small piece of potato dropped into the pan. fry potatoes until they start to brown, then add the spices. turn heat down to medium and continue to cook until golden brown (and of course a little red from the paprika). add the lemon juice and cook for another minute, then remove from heat. I prefer to eat these with ketchup and over-easy eggs.