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Happy Passover

15 Apr

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Happy Passover. Or if you don’t celebrate, Happy Tuesday.

This year, I made a small dinner for a small crowd. Charoset, a light salad, spatchcocked flat-roasted chicken with carrots and parsnips, maple-roasted sweet potatoes (I used less syrup than the recipe calls for and added in some cinnamon). Complete with matzo sheets and red wine. Dessert was coconut macaroons from the bakery I work at, with a few squares of chocolate and a few more sips of wine.

A few more old favorite Passover recipes:

Matzo Lasagna

Kiss n’ Swirl Meringues (use Kosher for Passover vanilla, or omit altogether, if you do not consume vanilla on the holiday)

xo

Stephanie

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(Vegan) Lasagna with Tofu “Garden Ricotta”

11 Mar

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Spring is around the corner, it is almost, almost here, but I still feel the slam of the cold on my face and hands every time I walk outside.

This lasagna is a transition from heavy, cheesy winter comforts to lighter, colorful spring fare. By using a tofu “ricotta” instead of actual ricotta, this pasta dish gets a lighter makeover so that we won’t have to undo the top button on our pants after eating.

I used to make tofu “ricotta” back when I was cooking for 60 students in the Berkeley co-ops. Pulse some firm tofu in a blender or food processor, add some aromatics and spices, and it turns from rubbery soy product to magical cheese-like goodness in seconds! I really like the addition of white miso paste to this version.

…and because I am flexible, I added a little grated Parmesan cheese to top off my vegan lasagna. Hey, it’s a transition, remember? A little Parmesan offers a nice salty punch without weighing down the pasta, but if you are vegan, just omit.

I also love my carbs, so a little toast with olive oil and salt is a nice crunch contrast to the lasagna.

Now, bring on the warm sunshine!

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I love lasagna, and I believe there should be a lasagna for every occasion. Check out this summer version with zucchini here. And check out this Passover matzo lasagna here.

Vegan Lasagna

adapted from Chloe’s Kitchen

Serves 6-8

**Make ahead: you can prepare the unbaked lasagna and keep it in the fridge for about 2 days before baking. 

Garden Ricotta

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 onion, chopped

3 cloves garlic

1 14-oz package firm or extra-firm tofu, drained

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoon white miso paste

3 cups fresh basil

Sauce & Assembly

2 tablespoons olive oil

8 ounces mushrooms, sliced

1 24-oz jar marinara sauce

1/4 milk of your choice *I used cow’s milk, but to keep things truly vegan use soy, almond, or rice milk

1 bunch kale, stemmed and chopped (you can also use spinach or another green)

1/2 pound no-boil lasagna noodles

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. You will need a 9 x 13 inch-pan.

To make the Garden Ricotta: In a large skillet, heat oil over medium heat and saute onions until soft. Add garlic and cook one more minute. Remove from heat.

In the food processor, combine onions, garlic, tofu, lemon juice, salt, pepper, and miso paste. Pulse until the mixture is almost smooth but still has some texture. Add basil and pulse a few more times to incorporate it.

To make the sauce: Heat oil over medium-high heat in a large skillet (just use the same skillet you used to saute the onions). Add the mushrooms and cook until soft. Add marinara and milk. The milk should soften the acidity of the tomatoes (you can also add a tablespoon of brown sugar or maple syrup here, but I just omitted it).

To assemble and bake the lasagna: Spread a thin layer of sauce on the bottom of the prepared pan. Arrange 4 lasagna noodles across the pan. Spread half of the Garden Ricotta over the noodles. Layer half of the kale over the Garden Ricotta. Arrange 4 more noodles on top. Spread another layer of sauce over the noodles, then arrange 4 more noodles on top. Top with another layer of sauce, the remaining Garden Ricotta, and the remaining kale.

Cover the pan with foil and bake for 45 minutes, or until the noodles are cooked and the sauce is hot and bubbling. Remove from the oven and let it rest for 5 minutes before serving.

Optional: If you are not vegan, I enjoyed the lasagna with a little grated Parmesan on top before serving.

Overnight Steel Cut Oats Method

5 Mar

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Steel-cut oats can take 20-30 minutes to cook, so I usually save them for the weekend or for a lazy morning when I have a lot of time.

Last night, though, I stumbled upon The Kitchn’s method for making creamy steel-cut oats overnight. Starting the oats the night before make them virtually instant the next morning! Just heat, eat, and run off to wherever you have to go.

I made enough for two servings, but you could certainly make a batch that will serve four. Steel-cut oats reheat well as leftovers.

I ran out of milk, so I added a hefty scoop of pumpkin puree and accompanying spices upon simmering my oats after their overnight stay. For serving, a drizzle of maple syrup, a small splash of cream, and a swoosh of sunflower seed butter. A perfect breakfast with black coffee on yet another COLD day in New York City.

Here is the basic method:

Overnight Steel-Cut Oats Method

method adapted from The Kitchn

makes 2 servings

Ingredients

1/2 teaspoon of butter or olive oil

1/2 cup steel-cut oats

1 1/2 cups water

small pinch of salt

For the next morning: 1/2 cup pumpkin puree +spices (1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1 pinch each nutmeg, ginger, cloves) + 1 teaspoon vanilla + 2 tablespoons maple syrup + splash of cream + sunbutter

(you could also just add in 1/2 cup of milk in the morning instead of the above pumpkiny accouterments)

Tools

2-quart saucepan

Method

1. Start this the night before. You want to have steel-cut oatmeal. Measure out your oats. This quantity will make about 2 servings.

2. Heat about 1/2 teaspoon butter or olive oil in a 2-quart saucepan set over medium heat. Add the oats and fry them for about 3 minutes, or until they start smelling toasty.

3. Pour in the water and add the salt. Stir.

4. Bring to a rolling boil.

5. Turn off the heat and cover the pan. Leave it on the stove, and go to bed!

6. The next morning, uncover the pan and bring the oatmeal back up to a simmer. If you would like creamier oatmeal, stir in the pumpkin puree and spices before reheating. Add a splash of vanilla.

When the oatmeal is warm, scoop out and enjoy with maple syrup, a splash of cream, and sunbutter!

Additional Notes:

• Cover and refrigerate any leftovers.
• Re-heat leftovers in just the same way: warm up on the stove, or in a bowl in the microwave.

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Easy Chocolate “Wartime” Cake

4 Mar

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Raise your hand if you don’t like mayo?! There’s always someone who has a weird, jiggly story to kill the mayo buzz. When you think about it though, mayo is just egg yolk, oil and vinegar. No bigs.

Over the years, I have learned to get along with mayo (especially when you add garlic and call it aioli). If you are still not ready to commit to slathering your sandwich with mayo, maybe a taste of this awesome chocolate cake will get you past your fear…

Mayonnaise is the secret weapon in this cake. It replaces the butter and all but one egg.

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This recipe hails from Cooks Illustrated’s The Science of Good Cooking cookbook. It is a “wartime” cake because ingredients like butter and fresh eggs were scarce during World War II, so cooks came up with cakes that worked without them–often using mayonnaise.

Ready for some science?! Mayonnaise contains lecithin, an emulsifier that helps keep the oil in the mayonnaise suspended in micro-droplets. These small droplets aid the oil’s ability to coat the flour’s protein particles, leading to a supremely tender cake. The test kitchen even tried replacing the mayonnaise with butter and an egg, and oil and an egg, but those cakes were less moist and the crumb less velvety than the mayo cake. The final recipe calls for an extra egg paired with the mayonnaise to give the cake an even richer flavor and springier texture. Now thats my kind of science.

Just a little more tasty science: To deepen the chocolate flavor of the cake, the recipe calls for “blooming” the cocoa powder and a touch of chocolate in hot coffee. Cocoa powder contains solid particles of fat and protein with tiny flavor molecules (!) trapped inside. Dissolving the cocoa in hot water causes these flavor molecules, which would otherwise remain imprisoned, to burst forth, amplifying overall flavor. The roasted notes of the coffee reinforce the nutty, roasted notes in the chocolate.

Are you on board yet?

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If you get bogged down with the science, just remember that this is an “Easy Chocolate Cake.” It’s one of those dump-and-stir cakes: mix the dry, mix the wet, dump and stir.

Whether it’s the mayo, the coffee, the cocoa or the science, this is the darn best chocolate cake I have had in a long time, if ever. There’s a magical top layer that forms after baking that I just wanted to cut off and call my own.

If you have any birthdays, occasions, celebrations or cravings, this is the cake you should make. And by gosh, get over your fear of mayo!

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Dust the cake with confectioner’s sugar, dollop it with whipped cream, or drizzle it with yogurt (Greek vanilla works nicely!). My new favorite crunch-tastic topping? Rainbow sprinkles!

Easy Chocolate Cake

from The Science of Good Cooking cookbook

Serves 8

1 1/2 cups (7 1/2 ounces) all-purpose flour

1 cup (7 ounces) sugar

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup (1 1/2 ounces) Dutch-processed cocoa

2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped fine

1 cup brewed coffee, hot

2/3 cup mayonnaise

1 large egg, room temperature

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

confectioners’ sugar or whipped cream or yogurt (optional)

1. Heat the oven to 350. Grease 8-inch square baking pan, line with parchment paper, grease parchment, and flour pan.

2. Whisk flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt together in large bowl. In separate bowl, combine cocoa and chocolate. Pour hot coffee over cocoa mixture and let sit, covered, for 5 minutes. Gently whisk mixture until smooth, let cool slightly, then whisk in mayonnaise, egg, and vanilla. Stir mayonnaise mixture into flour mixture until combined.

3. Scrape batter into prepared pan and smooth top with rubber spatula. Bake cake until toothpick inserted in center comes out with few crumbs attached, 30 to 35 minutes.

4. Let cake cool in pan on wire rack, 1 to 2 hours. Cut into squares or rectangles and serve either straight from the pan or out of a serving plate. Dust with confectioners’ sugar, dollop with whipped cream or yogurt, or enjoy as is.

Quick Whole Wheat and Oat Pancakes for 2

16 Feb

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I don’t really care about Valentine’s Day, but I do care about pancakes!

I can whip up a small batch of pancakes on a weekend morning in no time. Most days, I like a sweet and carb-filled breakfast (oats, cereal, toast, fruit…). These Whole Wheat & Oat cakes make the morning extra special and sweet, but still manage to pack in some healthy ingredients to start the day.

The recipe below is my idea of a perfect portion for 2.

I folded in some Qi’a cereal mix (you could also use chopped nuts or chia/hemp seeds) into my batter, and I loved the slight crunch they provided.

I’m the kind of lady who likes to eat a little of everything, so pile as many toppings onto my pancakes as I can–fruit, jam, syrup, nut butter. All so delicious, I can’t just pick one!

If you are looking for a slightly lighter “pancake” for 1 that packs more of a protein punch, check out this recipe.

Whether you’re a V-day fan (raspberry jam on top makes these ‘cakes festive) or a just a pancake fan, or both, get out your skillets and spatulas and start flipping. You won’t be disappointed with the end result!

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Quick Whole Wheat & Oat Pancakes for 2

adapted from Cast-Iron Skillet Blueberry Pancakes

serves 2 (about 3 pancakes each) **if you want more, double the recipe or triple it, etc…

1/2 cup whole wheat flour

1/4 cup rolled oats

1 1/2 teaspoons sugar

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 egg

1/2 cup buttermilk (I used 1/2 cup 1% cow’s milk + 1 teaspoon cider vinegar)

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

optional: 1 tablespoon chia seeds or Qi’a cereal mix

1 tablespoon of butter, divided, for frying the pancakes

1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

2. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg, milk, vanilla extract, and chia/Qi’a seeds, if using.

3. Pour the wet mixture into the dry, and whisk until just combined. Let the mix sit for 5 minutes while you heat your griddle or cast-iron skillet.

4. Heat the cast-iron skillet over medium to get it warmed up, about 1-3 minutes. Drop in a small amount of butter, enough to coat the skillet. I used a 1/4 cup measure to portion my pancakes. Drop the batter into the hot buttered skillet (I dropped 2 pancakes at a time). Let them cook for about 2 minutes, flip, then cook about 2 minutes more. Re-butter the skillet as needed and cook the remaining pancakes the same way (they will start to cook quicker now that the skillet has been on for a while, just keep an eye out).

Enjoy with your favorite toppings.

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