Saturday, October 5, 2013

Chickpea Kalamata Salad

It seems that every year, someone in my husband's family makes a salad that we all can't get enough of. This year, it was my mother-in-law. She has now brought this chickpea Kalamata olive salad to several family dinners and each time I could eat the whole bowl by myself. Today our family is going to a potluck and I knew just what to make. The only problem will be allowing others to take some!
Of course, as much as I love the recipe exactly as Carol makes it, I had to adapt it to what I am likely to have in my pantry. So, while the original calls for shallots, I just added extra garlic because I never have shallots around. I also added half again as many olives because I love them. Finally, I don't have marjoram around so I left it out.
This versions makes a double batch, because a single batch will never be enough for me!

2 15-ounce cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
12 dried, unsweetened apricots, chopped
20-30 Kalamata olives, chopped or sliced
1/4 c. parsley, chopped

Juice of a lemon
3-4 TBSP sherry vinegar or red wine vinegar
3-4 cloves garlic, minced or chopped
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/4 c. extra virgin olive oil


  1. Combine chickpeas through parsley in a medium bowl
  2. Whisk vinaigrette together in a small bowl. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed
  3. Add vinaigrette to other ingredients and mix well
  4. Let marinate in refrigerator at least one hour

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Lemon Huckleberry Popovers

I was wandering around and one link led to another and I ended up finding this Lemon Blueberry Popover Pancake recipe. Friday is breakfast-for-dinner night at our house and I figured the family would really go for these. After all, Cinnamon-Sugar Encrusted Popovers are so good we will have them for birthday dessert. I liked the lemon blueberry recipe for its use of yogurt, though I immediately started tinkering. I don't keep flavored yogurt in the house, so I used plain whole milk yogurt that I had strained to remove some of the whey along with some lemon zest. I compared the recipe to the cinnamon popover recipe and when I saw the cinnamon recipe included both an extra egg and salt, I added them, since that recipe works so well. Finally, I substituted wild mountain huckleberries for the blueberries because that's what I had in the fridge. If you can get your hands on huckleberries, definitely try them, but blueberries would also be delicious. You might even try raspberries or blackberries. We all really liked these and they certainly popped over. They are nice the next day, too, with a more custard-like texture.

2 TBSP butter, melted
1 c. plain yogurt (either strained or not--I'm sure both would work)
Zest of 1/2 a lemon
3 eggs
2 TBSP packed brown sugar (or other sugar)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 c. whole wheat pastry flour or regular flour (or gluten-free flour mix)
1/2 to 1 c. huckleberries, blueberries or other berry, washed and drained


  1. You will need to let the batter rest a bit, so use your judgment on the proper time to heat the oven. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. I used the convection setting on my oven the first time but the popovers got a bit browner than I'd prefer, so I would use the regular setting next time, I used the lower temp from the cinnamon popover recipe because I was worried that 450 would be too hot
  2. Use some of the 2 TBSP melted butter to lightly coat a 12-cup muffin tin; use the rest of the butter in the batter
  3. Put the yogurt, zest, eggs, sugar, vanilla and butter in a blender and run to combine
  4. Then add the flour, baking soda and salt and blend until smooth
  5. If possible, let the batter rest at least ten minutes. I made mine early in the day then stored in the fridge. About an hour before baking, I removed batter from fridge and let it come to room temperature 
  6. Distribute batter evenly among the 12 muffin cups. Each should be about 1/2 to 2/3 full
  7. Sprinkle 1-2 tsp berries into each popover. I'm sure you could also fold the berries into the batter if you prefer
  8. Bake for 15-30 minutes depending on your oven setting. Popovers should have puffed and will be golden brown
  9. Remove from oven and serve

Friday, July 12, 2013

Marination-Inspired Miso Tofu

One of our very favorite food purveyors in the world is Marination. We've been loyal fans since Big Blue started visiting our neighborhood four years ago and we are even more enthusiastic now that they have a bricks and mortar location with a full bar and a view. In fact, I've got something of a reputation at all Marination locations because I always bring my own Pyrex dish to convey tasty tacos and sliders from point A to point B. For example, a friend of ours went to the Capitol Hill location (without me but with a Pyrex) and the counter person said, "Do you know Laurel?" I am quite proud of this, though I wish that bringing one's own dishes in order to avoid disposable containers were so commonplace that one person wouldn't be known by name for it. Our doula for our second daughter won a huge place in our hearts for walking from the hospital to Marination to get us tacos after my delivery. I don't think any food has ever tasted so good.

My husband's family knows of and supports our Marination obsession, and it is to Evan's aunt that I owe this recipe. She saw in the paper Marination's recipe for their miso chicken tacos and was kind enough to scan it and send it to me. Of course, I immediately adapted it! The biggest change was I added ginger. The tacos at Marination are miso ginger chicken, so not sure why the paper's version doesn't call for it. Other than that, I just reduced the size of the recipe and used it on tofu rather than chicken. I marinated two blocks of tofu for several hours (mainly because of when I had time to make the marinade, but at least a 30-minute soak would be good) and then Evan grilled it. Delicious and loved by all. We are excited to have another great tofu recipe to go into the rotation with Orange Tofu and Tofu with Savory Caramel Sauce. We used this amount of marinade for two blocks of tofu but I don't think I'd bother to halve it for one block; I'd just use the extra for sauce.

Edited January 2017 to increase the miso and rice vinegar and reduce the soy sauce and sugar.

1 or 2 blocks tofu, each cut lengthwise into four slabs and patted dry
2 TBSP brown miso
2 TBSP rice vinegar
1 TBSP olive oil
1 TBSP garlic, minced or put through a press
1 TBSP grated ginger
3 TBSP sugar
3 TBSP soy sauce (we didn't use low sodium soy sauce and it was fine even though our mirin is salty)
1/4 c. mirin

  1. Find a dish large enough to lay all the slabs of tofu flat but very close together. A 9x13 Pyrex dish isn't quite big enough for two blocks of tofu but I made do. Better a slightly too-small dish than a too-large one so tofu is well-coated with marinade
  2. Mix all ingredients except tofu in a small bowl and whisk well to combine and dissolve the sugar
  3. Spread about half of the marinade in the bottom of the dish and nestle the tofu slabs on top
  4. Pour the rest of the marinade over the tofu
  5. Let the tofu marinade for at least 30 minutes, turning once if desired
  6. Grill on medium-high heat on each side until you get nice grill marks. Alternatively, you could pan-fry, broil or bake
  7. Serve with rice and vegetables or make into tacos (which will never be quite as good as the ones at Marination)

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Lemony Quinoa with Kale and Baked Olives

Here is an example of a time where I bookmarked a recipe and intended to follow it and then ended up just using it as the inspiration for something totally different. If this dish were a TV movie, it wouldn't even be allowed to be "based on" the original. I also put more thought into the design of the dish than I normally do, going as far as to sketch it out on paper and write down amounts and everything. I wanted to have a semi-decent chance of re-creating it if it ended up being tasty (and it was).

The inspiration for the recipe was from The Kitchn Warm Citrusy Millet Salad with Fennel and Kalamata Olives. The first time I made it, the only changes I made were to use an orange rather than clementines and to use an onion instead of fennel, as I don't love fennel and it wasn't yet in season at the farmers' market. I also added some finely ground kale to the millet.

If those changes weren't enough, I modified it further to use quinoa, which my family prefers to millet. I substituted lemon juice and zest for orange, as I am more likely to have that around, and I doubled the olives. I also ditched the original dressing in favor of a hybrid based loosely on Deborah Madidon's baked olives in Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone. I used half of the lemon garlic mixture to coat the still-warm olives and the other half as a basis for a lemon dressing for the quinoa and kale. I've made this twice now and am delighted to say that this will be a regular in our rotation.

I'm sure you could save some work and not bake the olives, but I think that baking them adds extra flavor that is worth the minimal effort.

1 c. uncooked quinoa, rinsed and drained and toasted if desired
2 c. water
1/2 tsp salt
1 bunch kale, washed and stems removed, then finely ground or chopped
1 c. Kalamata olives, quartered
1/4 c. white or red wine or vermouth
1-2 bay leaves
3-4 cloves garlic, minced or put through a press
Zest of 1/2 a lemon
2 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves removed from stalk and chopped OR 1 tsp dried
Juice of half a lemon (about 2-3 TBSP)
1-2 TBSP olive oil to taste
Freshly ground black pepper to taste

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F
  2. Combine olives, wine, and bay leaves in a small dish and cover tightly with foil
  3. Bake for 40-45 minutes until olives are plump and soft
  4. While olives bake, combine lemon zest, garlic and thyme in a small bowl. Reserve half of this mixture
  5. As soon as olives come out of the oven, stir in half of the lemon-garlic paste. This should make the olives very fragrant. This part of the meal can be done well in advance, even a day or more
  6. Stir lemon juice, olive oil and pepper into the reserved lemon-garlic paste. Whisk to combine. Set aside whole quinoa cooks
  7. Bring water to boil in a 2 quart (or similar) saucepan
  8. When water boils, add salt and quinoa
  9. Cover and simmer for 12-15 minutes or until the water has been absorbed and you see the little curls in the quinoa
  10. Remove from heat and stir in the kale. Mix well. Then stir in the lemon dressing and, finally, fold in the olives.
  11. Serve. Makes a great side for fish or is hearty enough to make a light lunch by itself, perhaps garnished with a few toasted pine nuts

Fruity Muffins

So I found a contender to pit against our go-to recipe for blueberry or huckleberry muffins. I had some cherries that were a little past their prime for eating out of hand, but there weren't enough for cherry clafoutis. It was breakfast-for-dinner Friday and I wanted something just a little sweet to go with our eggs. I thought that a cherry muffin might be nice. A quick Internet search yielded this cherry vanilla muffin recipe that looked promising.

Of course, I wouldn't be the cook I am if I followed the recipe exactly as written! I'm sure it is great that way, but I catered to my own tastes in a few ways. I lessened the vanilla to one teaspoon instead of a tablespoon--I thought it would overpower otherwise. Then I omitted the lemon juice and zest out of laziness and a feeling that it wouldn't be necesary. My friend Stacey subbed orange for lemon. I used crumble topping instead of granola as that's what I had in my freezer. I also quartered rather than halved the cherries to give a higher cherry-per-bite ratio. Finally, I thought that the flavor would be improved by increasing the yogurt and decreasing the oil. This worked beautifully.

I often find that cherry desserts are low on cherry flavor even if they're packed with cherries. Certainly my attempts at cherry smoothies were a flop. Clafoutis is the most successful and these muffins are a distant second for cherry flavor. However, they are at the top of the heap for tenderness. The crumb is so silky soft. I'm sure the cherries contribute to that and the fact that I used full-fat dairy products. But this muffin base is likely to be fantastic with any number of fruits--strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, and more.

INGREDIENTS for 1 doz muffins
1 1/2 c. whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 c. evaporated cane juice sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 c. plain yogurt
1/4 c. vegetable oil though next time I will try melted coconut oil because I bet it would be delicious
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 c. fruit, cut into bite-sized pieces if necessary
1/2 c. granola or crumble topping

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and prepare a 12-cup muffin tin by lining or spraying with oil
  2. Combine dry ingredients except crumble/granola in a medium bowl or large measuring cup
  3. Combine wet ingredients except fruit in a large bowl, whisking to blend
  4. Add dry ingredients to wet and stir until just moistened
  5. Fold in fruit then divide batter among 12 muffin cups
  6. Sprinkle crumble/granola equally over the muffins
  7. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until golden

Different Secret Ingredient GF Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Cookies

So it seems that I'm on a grain-free treat kick, but I assure you that I'm no Paleo or Primal devotee. Far from it! But I also see no harm in using legumes in treats as long as the end result is tasty. I'd heard about this chickpea peanut butter thing ages ago but never tried it. After the success of the black bean cupcakes, I was newly inspired to try the cookies.

I took the recipe from Texanerin's grain-free peanut butter chocolate chip cookie dough bites and made only the most minor of changes to accommodate my desire to use a full can of chickpeas and to eliminate the need to scoop pb three times (as you need to do if using measuring cups sine the original recipe calls for 1/2 c. plus 2 TBSP peanut butter). I chose the maple syrup sweetener option as I'm not all that fond of honey. To make them taste even more like traditional peanut butter cookies, I subbed out 1 TSBP maple syrup in favor of 1 TBSP packed brown sugar. Delicious!

Elspeth's friend wasn't totally sold on these but everyone in our family happily went back for more, whether they were warm or room temp. As my dear friend Melanie said, with these cookies you wouldn't mind if that's all your kids ate for lunch because they'd be getting some great fat and protein. I image that, though gooey from travel, they'd be a great hiking snack.

The fact that these come together so easily is just one more bonus!

1 15-ounce can chickpeas, rinsed well, drained and patted dry
2 tsp vanilla extract
2/3 c. natural peanut butter, at room temp (my food processor balked when I used straight from fridge)
1/4 c. maple syrup
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 c. semisweet chocolate chips; I like to use mini chips


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
  2. Place drained chickpeas in food processor and blend until very fine. I find if I don't process the chickpeas first, I end up with chickpea chunks because the food processor craps out after adding the pb. 
  3. Add remaining ingredients except chocolate chips and blend for 2 minutes or as long as your processor will let you, stopping twice to scrape down bowl. Batter should be very smooth
  4. Transfer cookie dough to a medium bowl and stir in chocolate chips to distribute evenly or, if you're feeling lazy, add to food processor and pulse to combine. This will work better with mini chocolate chips
  5. Scoop walnut-sized balls of dough and place on a baking tray. Whether you use hands or a scoop (as I do), you might need to wet in between cookies. Cookies will not spread much so you can put them close together
  6. Flatten cookies slightly with your hands or a fork, if desired
  7. Bake about ten minutes or until they look done. Remove from oven and cool on a rack. Eat warm or at room temperature. These freeze well

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Secret Ingredient GF Chocolate Cupcakes with Ganache Frosting

When I saw  Lia Huber's Fudgy Black Bean Brownies recipe, it sounded too odd not to try. Undaunted, I even chose to make them for my daughter's kindergarten class non-birthday party (she's an August baby so will never have a birthday during school). As she likes frosting, we agreed to use ganache, which even her frosting-hating mother likes. I figured anything covered in ganache couldn't be too bad. And I was right! You would really never know that these are gluten-free or that they contain black beans. They were a bit chalky, but that's typical in a brownie using only cocoa powder. In my next iteration, I simple used the rest of the bag of chocolate chips I'd opened to make the ganache. That definitely solved the problem and got rave reviews, especially from my June baby, who celebrated her first birthday with a mini one of these. The coconut oil is a brilliant addition, adding a distinct and pleasing flavor.

A double batch is great and is what I show here because it makes 1 doz regular sized cupcakes and 2 doz minis, which I frosted and popped in the freezer for those days when we just need a small sweet treat.

Normally I use dried beans for everything but it seemed silly to go to the effort when they were just going to be puréed anyway, so I used canned. Eden Organic brand uses BPA-free cans.

1 recipe Chocolate Ganache
2 15-oz cans black beans, rinsed well and drained
4 large eggs
1/3 c. (70g) Coconut oil (does not need to be melted)
1 1/2 c. cocoa powder
1/8 tsp salt
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/3 c. sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1-2 c. Semi-sweet chocolate chips (just use what's left after making ganache, if using)

  1. If you haven't already made the ganache, do so and let it set while you make the cupcakes
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and prepare one full-size and one 24-count mini cupcake tins by spraying with oil or filling with liners
  3. Put all remaining ingredients except for chocolate chips into the bowl of a food processor
  4. Process for approximately two minutes until ingredients are fully blended. Scrape down bowl once in the 2 minutes
  5. Add chocolate chips and pulse to blend
  6. Fill cupcake/muffin tins 3/4 of the way full with the batter
  7. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean-- use your judgment, though, because you might just have hit a molten chocolate chip. Larger cupcakes might need to bake 5-10 minutes longer
  8. Remove from oven and cool completely before frosting with ganache

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Kale Chips with Coconut

There may be those who feel that kale has had its day, but it has long ranked with broccoli as my favorite vegetable and will continue to be a mainstay in our home long after it is unfashionable everywhere else.
Here is a simplified take on Heidi Swanson's kale salad with toasted coconut from Super Natural Every Day. While her original recipe is good, I found it too oily for gobbling straight up as kale chips, as the family does. I pared everything way down and omitted the sesame oil entirely. I also used a PCC Cooks suggestion and lowered my oven temp to 300. As a result, I finally have a recipe that turns out perfect (for our family's taste) every time. It doesn't take long for a whole bunch of kale to disappear.

1 large bunch dinosaur/ lacinato/ black/ Tuscan kale
1 TBSP olive or grapeseed oil
1-2 tsp soy sauce
1/4-1/2 c. unsweetened large coconut flakes (though small shreds will do)

  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F and set out 1-2 baking trays
  2. Give the kale a good soak in a tub of water to remove any dirt and critters that tend to sink to the bottom
  3. Take the large stem out of the center of the kale--I do this by hand but you could use scissors or a knife
  4. Tear the kale into large bite-sized pieces and dry in a salad spinner or with a towel
  5. Place in a very large bowl and sprinkle over the coconut  
  6. Whisk together the oil and soy sauce in a small bowl until they are well-blended, then pour over the kale and coconut
  7. Using your hands, work the oil/soy mixture into every nook and cranny of the kale
  8. Spread the kale and coconut over 1-2 baking trays, trying not to overlap it too much
  9. Bake at 300 for 12 minutes then turn with a spatula. Continue baking until the kale chips are crisp and the coconut is golden brown
  10. Eat fresh from the oven or store at room temp in an air-tight container for up to a day. They never last that long in our house!

Chickpea and Vegetable Pancakes

The baby has had a rough week what with a virus and pushing through her top two teeth. This made her a terrible sleeper and a worse eater. Now that she is feeling better, I wanted to find something new and nutritious to tempt her palate. Enter chickpea pancakes. I discovered socca recently when looking for a good GF appetizer and I am familiar with pakoras. I knew that there must be a way to make a carrot and chickpea flour pancake. I did an Internet search and found a few good candidates. I took ideas from each and made my own thing. We are getting wonderful free-range organic eggs from a friend these days, so I knew I wanted egg yolk in there. I threw in some kale because, well, I always throw in kale. I wouldn't say that this first batch is exciting since I didn't put in any spices, but I like the texture and subtle flavor and feel it could be a good blank canvas for spices (Indian, Moroccan, Middle Eastern come to mind, maybe even my beloved smoked paprika) and veggies such as sweet potato, regular potato, summer squash,etc. No idea what the baby thinks yet but this one will be in the family rotation for a while.

1/2 c. chickpea flour
1/4 c. plus 1 TBSP water
1/8 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
Spices to taste adding up to no more than 1/4-1/2 tsp
1/4 c. grated vegetable (carrot, potato, summer squash, etc)
1-2 TBSP finely chopped or ground kale
Olive oil for the pan


  1. Combine chickpea flour, water, salt, spices and baking powder in a small bowl. Stir in the grated vegetables
  2. Heat about 1tsp olive oil in a small pan on medium-high heat. I like to use our small cast iron pan
  3. Add a large spoonful (about 1/8 c. I'd guess) to the pan and cook until set on the top and lightly brown on the bottom
  4. Flip and cook on the other side until the middle springs back when touched. The pancakes cook in 2-3 minutes total
  5. Remove from pan and serve, maybe with some sort of delicious dipping sauce or an unsweetened fruit sauce for baby