Thursday, March 31, 2011

Vote Early and Vote Often... for Seeds!

 Tomorrow is the last day to vote.  No, I’m not talking about those contested aldermanic elections, I’m talking about the One Seed Chicago Contest.

The 2011 has three candidates.    The candidates are swiss chard, eggplant, and radish.  All of them are winners in my book.

It was very difficult to pick one. 

Monday, March 21, 2011

Just Say No to Eating Animals Monday: Volume 17 Sweet Spring Has Sprung

I have a re-kindled love of orchids

Today is the 1st Day of Spring.  It’s also the Celebration of Naw-Ruz, the Bahai New Year and the end of the Bahai Fast.

Yes, we are Bahai, hence my infrequent posts on food.  I cooked very little during the Fast.

On the left, granulated sugar, on the right that granulated sugar has been blended into superfine sugar

Still here’s a sweet that makes me think of all the warmth you find in a spring-kissed day like the one we had today.  This treat is warm, sunny, sweet, and utterly delightful.

PIGNOLI and ALMOND CAKE     inspired by LTH Forum's thread here  adapted from Rose Gray and Ruth Rogers of River Cafe across the pond!
 ·                       8 oz. unsalted butter, softened
·                       1 Tablespoon, plus 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
·                       2  Meyer lemons
·                       6 tablespoons pine nuts, divided
·                       1 cup superfine sugar
·                       4 eggs
·                       3/4 cups all purpose flour
·                       1 cup almonds, measure first then grind them
·                       1/4 teaspoon  coarse finishing salt
Preheat oven to 350.
 Use the butter left on the wrapper to grease a loaf pan.  Line the greased loaf pan with parchment.
 Use a microplane to grate the lemon peel.  Juice one of the lemons.  Chop 3 tablespoons of pine nuts.
 Beat the butter and sugar with the vanilla extract until light and fluffy, then stir in the eggs one at a time. Fold in the flour, ground almonds, and chopped pine nuts.  Add lemon juice and stir in the lemon peel.
 Mix the remaining, unchopped, pine nuts with the salt. Spoon the batter into the pan, sprinkle with the salted pine nuts and bake in the oven for 70 minutes. The cake is ready when a skewer comes out clean. Leave to cool in the pan.

The Meyer Lemons really are a kiss of spring, it makes a significant difference to the cake to use them.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Just Say No to Eating Animals: Special Edition Mardi Gras!

I wasn’t always a vegetarian.  I don’t miss meat, or other animals, but sometimes it’s hard to match the seasoning.  Today is Mardi gras.  I hosted a dessert exchange over the weekend and since Fat Tuesday was staring me in the face of course I had to make something appropriate and animal-free.

I poured over recipes in hopes that I could put my finger on that certain unctuous smoky richness that I had always associated with certain smoked animals; it could even be turkey, not necessarily pork.  And then it happened.

Red Beans & Rice (Look Ma’ I’m vegan)

Red Beans

1 teaspoon Fresh Thyme
1 teaspoon Red Wine Vinegar
6 cups Water
3 cups Vegetable Broth
3 medium Minced Garlic Cloves
1 pound Small Red Beans
1 Onion, chopped fine (about 1 cup)
1 Green Bell Pepper, seeded and chopped fine (about 1/2 cup)
1 stalk Celery, chopped fine
14 teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
2 Dried Whole Bay Leaves
1 teaspoon Smoked Sweet Paprika
1 tablespoon Hickory Smoke Seasoning

Rinse and pick through beans. Add 3 tablespoons of salt to 1 gallon of water. Add beans and let soak overnight.

Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large pot, I used my Le Creuset Dutch Oven.  Let the oil start to glisten in the pot and then add celery, bell pepper, and onions. Cook for 5 minutes. Next add garlic, bay leaves, cayenne, and paprika to the pot.

Add beans, vegetable broth, and water to the pot. Bring pot to a vigorous boil. Reduce to medium high, so that the pot is bubbling. Stir from time-to-time until beans are tender, about 90 minutes.

You don’t really need me to tell you how to make rice do you?  If so, let me know and I’ll do it another time.

Laissez les Bon Temp Roulez! 

Ms. Ingie's King Cake from LTH Forum's Dessert Exchange