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Buttermilk Oat Soda Bread

24 Nov

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There was an abundance of buttermilk hanging out in my refrigerator this weekend (I used some to make pie crusts for Thanksgiving!), and I wanted to use it up. I thought about making buttermilk ice cream, but it sounded too cold. Scones or a quick bread sounded tasty, but I’ve been there, done that. Then I stumbled upon Heidi Swanson’s soda bread.

A bread that requires no yeast? Shoot, let’s give it a go. Continue reading

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Hooked on The Crispy Egg

20 Oct

Deb Perelman of Smitten Kitchen recently posted about The Crispy Egg. The idea originally comes from Frank Prisinzano of NYC restaurants Frank, Lil Frankie’s, Supper, and Sauce.

A crispy egg is essentially an egg fried in olive oil in a very hot cast-iron or stainless steel pan. The whites bubble and squirt everywhere and the result is the most amazing egg, with the yolk still loose and the bottom crispy. Toast (well, in my case toast AND potatoes) is the perfect vehicle for soaking up any remaining olive oil from frying.

Deb has important notes (and a video link) in her post that you need to read (and watch) before attempting The Crispy Egg. Now go, learn, and make yourself a crispy egg or two. I’m totally hooked.

Breakfast at Bartavelle in Berkeley, CA

28 May

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This place is a real treat. If you are looking for a good coffee and a bite to eat in Berkeley, Bartavelle is not to be missed.

I am almost always in the mood for a thick slice of avocado toast (sprinkled with olive oil, lemon, sea salt, and marash pepper), especially when paired with a soft boiled egg. The Persian breakfast was very light and fresh and included organic lebneh, feta, cucumbers, fresh herbs, za’atar and seasonal cherry jam, served with Acme pizza bianca.

Bartavelle is located where Cafe Fanny used to be, right next to Acme Bread on San Pablo Ave. and Cedar St.

While I am nostalgic for Cafe Fanny’s poached eggs and cafe au lait in a bowl, Bartavelle is quickly filling that ache.

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Spring Quinoa Salad with edible flowers

25 May

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Spring has sprung in New York City, and there is so much to eat!

Yesterday was my last “composting and healthy snacks” session for seniors with mild memory loss, in conjunction with The Memory Tree Program, Teachers College, and the Morningside Gardens Co-op. Read more about our first session and our Earl Grey Spiced Fruit Compote here.

The Memory Tree is New York City’s first program devoted to people with mild memory loss, and their family and caregivers.

This was the end (for now!) of a series of “Going Greener” workshops, continuing a previous project about nutrition, cooking, and farmer’s markets. The “Going Greener” project came about as a way to learn how to keep the world healthy, focusing specifically on composting and easy snacks. 

The series comprised 5 sessions, with each session consisting of a compost component, a media workshop, and a healthy snack and drink. Each week, we gave the seniors digital cameras to use so that they could document the colorful snacks and activities. We also made little youtube videos with the photographs. Check out some of the fun videos on our channel.

My main role was to find and/or develop our recipes, purchase the ingredients, and gather the necessary kitchen tools and gadgets . In other words, I was the official “Recipe Consultant.”

These were the 5 snacks and drinks:

1. Earl Grey Spiced Fruit Compote with Lemony Water

2. Carrot and Hummus “Sushi Sandwiches” with Cucumber “Spa Water”

3. Peanut Butter Oat Snack Bites with Minted Ice Cubes and Earl Grey Ice Tea

4. Mud Pudding aka Chocolate Tofu Pudding with Strawberries and Seltzer

5. Spring Quinoa Salad with Edible Flowers, Hummus Feta Toasts with Pansies, Blueberry Frozen Yogurt Bites, and Sparkling Cider

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Edible flowers are fun to eat and beautiful to photograph, so we planted nasturtium seeds with the intention of eating them at the final session. I took a few seeds home to plant, too! If you have never tasted an edible flower, the flavor and texture are similar to a slightly peppery lettuce leaf.

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The final snack (it was more of a meal this time) was a Spring Quinoa Salad. All of the veggies were from the greenmarket: radishes (did you know radishes have about as much or more potassium as a banana?!), ramps, asparagus, and baby lettuces. We also found an assortment of edible flowers: broccoli rabe flowers, radish flowers, and arugula flowers.

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We chopped the radishes and ramps, and shaved the asparagus into ribbons with a vegetable peeler. Then we tossed everything together with the quinoa, added crumbled feta cheese, lemon zest, and lemon juice. We scooped the quinoa onto a nice bed of lettuces and delicately topped everything with nasturtium.

We also sliced into a baguette, spread the bread rounds with hummus, and sprinkled feta and edible pansies over the top. The pansies were from a plant we bought at the greenmarket.Who knew you could eat pansies?

Before every snack or meal, we all would set the table and clink our glasses together, toasting to good food and good company. Cheers! And don’t forget to compost the food scraps.

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I didn’t get a picture of our blueberry frozen yogurt bites, but they were so easy and so good. I got inspired after seeing this recipe.

Also, if you are looking for more fun, spring veggie talk, check out this episode of one of my favorite podcasts, Spilled Milk Podcast. They talk about ramps, fiddleheads, pea shoots, and nettles.

And for more spring quinoa inspiration, check out Megan’s post on Elevating Lunch.

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Spring Salad with Edible Flowers

Quinoa is full of good-for-you protein and fiber, and it cooks in just minutes. Throw in some seasonal veggies and creamy cheese, and delicately dot with fresh herbs and nasturtium for a picture perfect spring salad! 

*This recipe is very much to your own taste. Once you have your quinoa base, throw in the suggested add-ins as you like! 

serves 4

1 cup quinoa

Seasonal veggies i.e. asparagus (shaved into ribbons), ramps or spring onions, radishes, baby lettuces…

Feta or soft goat cheese (about 2 oz. or so)

Edible flowers i.e. nasturtium, pansies, or broccoli rabe flowers/arugula flowers/radish flowers

Lemon, zest and juice

  • Rinse the quinoa and drain it. Cook the quinoa in a saucepan (2 cups water to 1 cup quinoa) for about 15 minutes or until cooked and fluffy. Put aside.
  • Chop the seasonal veggies into small pieces. If using, shave asparagus with a vegetable peeler (that way you can enjoy it raw).
  • Crumble the cheese.
  • Zest the lemon.
  • In a bowl, combine the cooked and cooled quinoa, the chopped veggies, the crumbled cheese, and the lemon zest. Squeeze lemon juice over the top and toss to combine.
  • Delicately place the edible flowers on top and serve!

Vegan Chocolate Loaf with yogurt, warmed cherries, and chocolate balsamic

6 May

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Because it’s Tuesday.

Because I’m in the thick of finals (last semester of grad school!).

Because I like to eat “healthified cake” for breakfast. 

Because sometimes, I like to plate my food up fancy. 

I ate a slice of this chocolate loaf for breakfast today. No shame. Vegan chocolate loaf cake with some plain, low fat yogurt, frozen cherries that were warmed in the microwave and poured on top, the juices seeping into the cake, and a final glug of chocolate balsamic vinegar that I re-discovered I had in the cabinet. This could easily be dessert.

Healthy decadence is my jam.

Nicole from CucinaNicolina and I are on the same page in terms of our mindset that life is too short not to have a slice of something sweet, especially when that sweet something is homemade, with a little bit of health mixed in. Throwing in some whole wheat flour and a sprinkling of ground flaxseeds helps make cake an acceptable breakfast in my opinion. Oh, and there’s a cup of coffee in hiding in the loaf, too. I always have a little extra from my morning French press, so this was a great excuse to use it up.

This weekend, I tasted the Brooklyn based White Moustache yogurt in sour cherry flavor. The yogurt company is a father-daughter business, and the yogurt is made from Hudson Valley Fresh whole milk and live probiotic cultures. While the price is steep, this yogurt was a real treat, and was worth every penny. Plus, you get to keep the container to re-use.

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This sour cherry combo got me craving cherries. Since cherry season is not quite here, I found some frozen cherries and just heated them up and poured them over this vegan chocolate loaf. Cherries, chocolate, and creamy yogurt were meant to be together!

Since I gobbled down my jar of White Moustache yogurt, I served the cake with my other favorite brand, Wallaby Organic Plain Low-fat Greek Yogurt. If you want to keep everything vegan, just omit the yogurt or make some sort of coconut based cream.

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Vegan Chocolate Loaf

adapted from Cucina Nicolina

makes 1 loaf or ~8 servings

Nicole says, “As always, replace the whole wheat pastry flour and/or spelt flour with all purpose if that’s all you have. A non-dairy milk or plain water can be swapped for the coffee, but I love the coffee note in there and would be loathe to miss it.” I used whole wheat and all purpose flour to keep things simple, and yes, I LOVED the coffee note.

1 3/4 cup whole wheat flour

1/2 cup all purpose flour

1/2 cup dutch processed cocoa powder

2 tablespoons ground flaxseeds

3/4 cup light or dark brown sugar

1/2 cup granulated sugar (I used slightly less)

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup room temperature coffee

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Heat oven to 350 F. Grease a standard sized loaf pan with oil or butter (omit butter if keeping this vegan) and lightly dust with flour.

In a large bowl, whisk together flours, cocoa powder, flaxseeds, sugars, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. In a medium bowl, whisk together coffee, olive oil, and vanilla.

Dump the wet ingredients all at once into the dry and whisk until just combined. The batter will be more firm than wet.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the pan for 10 minutes before inverting onto a wire rack to cool completely before serving.

Serve with a dollop of yogurt, some warmed cherries, and a glug of chocolate balsamic vinegar (regular balsamic vinegar would work, too). 

Lemony Olive Oil Banana Bread

26 Mar

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Do I really need another banana bread recipe? No.

But, when I had some extra lemons on hand from last week’s Earl Grey Spiced Fruit Compote workshop, and when an “accidental” two bunches of bananas were sprawled on the counter that needed to be immediately eaten, frozen, or baked with, my wheels started turning.

Currently, my top three go-to banana bread recipes include Smitten Kitchen’s Jacked-Up Banana Bread, Cookie and Kate’s Honey Whole Wheat Banana Bread, and my Peanut Butter Banana Bread.

My rule of thumb? Always better with chocolate chips/chunks. And, just saying, a little whole wheat flour makes chocolate-studded banana bread okay to eat for breakfast, too. Finally, don’t mash to oblivion; just lightly mush the bananas with a fork so you have some puree and some small pieces.

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I bookmarked Heidi Swanson’s version of Melissa Clark’s Lemony Olive Oil Banana Bread a while ago, and this was the perfect opportunity to try a new spin on my obsession with banana bread, and quick breads in general.

The taste is classic banana bread, with a subtle hint of lemon zest and a little zing of olive oil at the end. I love it.

There is an optional glaze that you can whisk up (Swanson uses a mix of confectioners’ and brown sugar [I found the granules of the brown sugar too “crunchy” for my taste] and Clark just uses confectioners’ sugar), but I tried it and found that when it comes to banana bread, I prefer mine naked and de-glazed.

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This Lemony Olive Oil Banana Bread is definitely going on my list of favorite go-to banana-breads.

Oh boy, do I love a good loaf.

Lemony Olive Oil Banana Bread

recipe adapted from 101 Cookbooks, Originally adapted from Melissa Clark’s Cook This Now

1 cup / 125g all-purpose flour
1 cup / 140g whole wheat flour
3/4 cup /125 g  dark brown sugar
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup / 4 oz / 115 g coarsely chopped bittersweet chocolate (leave some bigger chunks!)
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 1/2 cups / 340 g mashed, VERY ripe bananas (~3 bananas)
1/4 cup plain yogurt (I used 2% low-fat yogurt)
1 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350° F, and place a rack in the center. Grease a 9- by 5- inch loaf pan, or equivalent.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flours, sugar, baking soda, and salt. Add the chocolate pieces and combine well.

In a separate bowl, mix together the olive oil, eggs, mashed banana, yogurt, zest, and vanilla. Pour the banana mixture into the flour mixture and fold with a spatula until just combined. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and bake until golden brown, about 50 minutes. Swanson says, “You want to get that beautiful color on the cake, but at the same time you don’t want to bake all the moisture out of it. So the minute you’re in that zone, pull it. Erring on the side of under-baking versus over.”

Transfer the pan to a wire rack to cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then turn the loaf out of the pan to cool completely.

Shutterbean’s (and Ina’s) Greek Panzanella

27 Jun

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My gal Michelle and I are both avid followers of Tracy Shutterbean and her food, family, and boozy adventures. The day Tracy posted about this Grilled Greek Panzanella, Michelle and I went nuts! Within 1 day, we were at my place, chopping away in anticipation of enjoying a cool crunch on a hot summer day.

Intense New York City summer weather means salad for dinner. A big honking salad with lots of bread cubes and raw veggies, salty feta, and “evoo”.

Store-bought hummus and tzatziki add an easy Mediterranean touch with a bit of protein. It makes a huge difference (aesthetically) to scoop the dips into ramekins or little bowls and embellish with your own spices i.e. adding extra paprika on top of the hummus.

Giant salad. Bread. Dips. A chilled bottle of white. And a small scoop of Steve’s Blackberry Honey (vegan) ice cream to finish.

Catch the recipe over at Tracy’s blog. We used a whole wheat French Bread, but you should use whatever bread strikes you (I imagine a white seeded bread would be nice!). We lightly toasted the bread on the stove top. And we used fresh basil instead of oregano.

Tracy served her salad with lamb meatballs and grilled eggplant. YUM!

Now get chopping and eat a giant bowl of this deliciousness! Makes great lunch leftovers, too.