29 April 2013

Monday Mashup 4-29 + Eggs When You Can't Even Deal.

Oh, hi. It's Monday and lightly rainy... I'm going to start this post with an update, then continue with the Monday Mash-up, then advertise why eggs are the best thing to make ever when you can't even deal.

At the moment, the apartment smells like parsley. I'm simmering some parsley stems and leaves that weren't bright enough to be sprinkled on salads but were not by any means toss-worthy, with water on the stove. It's a diffusion that when strained, will make a lovely broth...for something. And right now, I'm convincing myself that the scent is in some way medicinal.

So, here's what I've got on the boards this week:

The article in the lead photo. Still working through it.
It's definitely time for a new cookbook. And this one I plan to read like a novel.
Also saw this one in a vintage store by me and may find it pretty hard to resist.
But not to mention the fact that I am long overdue on getting this.
Well, this makes me a little less intimidated to advance the flower situation around here : )
Remember these kamut shortbreads? Decided they were in order today.
Dissecting art and feminism, as always.
The former West Village store's sister  here in Jersey City where we bought that console off the floor.

eggs when you can't even deal.

I'd venture to say that many of the most satisfying meals I've had both flavor-wise and socially have revolved around eggs, and occurred at all hours of the day and not involved too much effort. There are however, times when effort is surely rewarded, but there is something about eggs that scream doable: like after getting home at 8 pm even with a bag of grocery and deciding I can't even deal right now. Or wait, for that matter, for veggies to roast. So I just crack an egg or two and break out everything else I have that could go with it.


Whether shared or alone, breakfast, lunch or dinner, the egg is ever versatile and matchable, quick to cook and pretty to look at.When making them for dinner when I can't even deal, I love to make a bigger frittata and put out everything else that can be noshed along with it: spiced nuts, oilves, bread, green salad, avocado slices, etc. I also like to serve it right out of the pan like pizza after it cools for a few minutes.

Margarita Frittata (sans tomato) for one/two

Butter/oil for the pan
2 eggs (or more if you'd like more than a personal pie)
sea salt
Splash of cream or milk
4 thin slices fresh mozzarella
Basil leaves and/or other herbs

Heat small frying pan on medium, and melt a spoonful butter or oil. Whisk eggs, milk, salt, pour into pan. As it starts to set around the edges, add cheese and a bit of basil.

Preheat broiler and stick the pan in there for a minute or two until the cheese melts, the eggs are set on top. Drizzle with a dash more oil if desired and sprinkle w/ more basil and coarse salt.

To serve: lightly dressed greens, with or without bread tucked at the sides or atop

Eggs + Caramelized Onion + Avocado Toast for one

Slice(s) whole grain bread
1/2 - 1 egg
Few Drops milk or cream 
Handful crumbled cheddar
Few Spoonfuls caramelized onions
4 slices avocado

Heat small frying pan on medium, and melt a spoonful butter or oil. Whisk eggs, milk, salt, pour into pan. Swoosh around a bit with a spatula and turn the heat low so they scramble slowly. Once all liquid has been evaporated and you are left with soft heaps add cheese and a bit of herbs and stir a bit. Turn heat off.

Toast bread until desired darkness. Spread with onion, top w/ avocado and dollop on egg mix and more coarse salt or herbs if desired.

To serve: lightly dressed greens

22 April 2013

Introducing Monday Mashup

Hi all. Hope everyone had a great weekend. I found it a bit too cold to get the proper dose of outside bliss I've been craving, but time off is time off, right? On Saturday afternoon Ed and I skipped the PATH train from Jersey City to Greenwich Village where I "lived" (sigh) in my college years and took a long wandering stroll that led to spending the evening in Nolita.

It was a cup of my favorite Joe (which I still think does one of the best milk to espresso ratios for cappuccinos in the city), a cut-through the park and then after some browsing through the ever-colorful Pearl River for knick-knacks (and would you believe I passed on these?) I instead opted for another simple tumbler and wide glass bowl from Muji. I just love the clean shape on their products and not to mention affordability and that lovely aroma diffuser when you walk in. Note, anyone with a small space looking for a "dust bin" might like this slim to the wall one--I sure do. And it's always hard to pass on a new pocket-size task notebook.

After discovering that a former favorite haunt, Rice is now closed due to apparent lawsuits regarding labor- yikes and boo!), we managed be suitable enough among Nolitan fabuli to have a seat at Jack's Wife Frida. Pan fried Haloumi was tasty and meaty and Moules in Bloody Mary broth were a solid, interesting concept. Next time trying the Greek salad with the great big feta hunk. The burger was nice, too, according to the hunk across the table from me.

And now for the official Monday Mashup!  It will work pretty simply: every Monday I'll gather up a list of things I think are worth sharing, dreaming on or checking out, sometimes from the blogosphere, sometimes  from my own stumbling. Cuz that's how you learn about stuff...pass it down : )

Just finished Season One of Boardwalk. About 4 years late but so worth the concentrated attention.

A little night reading

This one is up next, just arrived in the mail.

Finally streamlining my zesting.

Some Pollan on Pollan via Platt food-geek reading

Love Heidi's always-inspiring latest shop-find. Clearly it went quick.

I have my eye on making this beauty for the near future

And that's it for now. See you soon with a new recipe! xo MN

Lead photo taken at Liberty State Park in Jersey City, NJ

21 April 2013

Quinoa Lunch Salad

I promised you something new and savory as I don't want you to think I sit around and make sweets all day...and here I am with something that takes no time to pull together and tastes great. At first glance it may look like your average quinoa salad but it's a bit of a hybrid; not a pilaf side, not a greens salad topped with grains but something of a grain and green salad dressed up with nuts and legumes and cheese, where you're going for a quinoa proportion that coats itself over the greens and the other components chime in equally. Eat this on it's own, or I can imagine it topped with another form of protein like some flaked salmon or a seared slab of tofu.

Feel free to play around with the proportions to suit yourself but know that for me it was a bit of an exercise in restraint. I found that just a few things thrown into the mix is all I needed for variety, texture and balance. Think of it as a quartet, with a few trusty players bringing in all the right notes. I had roasted asparagus on hand, but I'd imagine some broccoli may be nice too (but I'm a bit of an roast asparagus fiend).

It started with a jar of leftover quinoa in the fridge. When you cook a pot of quinoa just right-that is, fluffy, delicately tender, cooked in a proper amount of liquid and well-seasoned, you better hope you have some leftovers. Once cooled, quinoa with mostly separated kernels is great to throw into salads like this.

I balance it out here with a bit of chopped leftover roasted asparagus, a handful of chickpeas, cubed fresh mozzarella, big torn handfuls of arugula, and a showering of halved toasted almonds. It's punched up with a slivered garlic, lemon and olive oil dressing, some thyme and parsley and finished with sea salt and served at room temperature.

One tip I'll emphasize here is that it helps for things like this to have the components already prepared. You can have roasted asparagus in the fridge, your mozzarella easily chop-able,  your almonds toasted and chopped, and your chickpeas drained. Then you just throw in and toss.

Quinoa is not a grain you want to soak and then cook. It'll get mushy and porridge-like upon cooking (been there, done that). For some tips, I resorted to these nifty instructions. It's not that I forgot how to do it...but it doesn't hurt to go back to basics and play around with what works. Err on the side of less liquid for best results and be sure to let it sit for 5 minutes on the burner with the heat off. Once you have yourself a bowl of it, fork-fluffed and cooled, you have a template to go from.

Light and energizing, I consider this an ideal meal to eat before leaving the house for an afternoon of being out and about. It will keep you full without weighing you down; and quinoa and chickpeas are both good sources of protein.

Ouinoa Lunch Salad

Serves 2 
*Scant cup cooked, cooled quinoa
A hunk of fresh mozzarella ( chopped to yield about 1/2 c)
6-7 roasted asparagus spears, chopped into thirds or fourths
3 handfuls fresh baby arugula, torn in half
1/4-1/2 c drained cooked chickpeas
1/4 c whole toasted almonds, chopped
1/2 clove garlic, slivered
1/2 small lemon, squeezed, juice divided
Scant 2-3 T olive oil
Few sprigs parsley and thyme
Cracked/ground coarse sea salt

Start by separating some thyme leaves from the stem and mix a little olive oil into them as well as a crack of salt. Set aside. Next mix slivered garlic and half the lemon juice and a grind of salt with a glug of the olive oil. Set aside.

Separate your almonds and mozzarella and pour a 1/2 the thyme/oil mixture on each, briefly tossing to combine. 

Mix quinoa, chickpeas, chopped asparagus, torn arugula and the lemon-garlic-oil together, to coat, so that the quinoa is separated and spread evenly throughout the greens, then add the cheese and 1/2 the almonds. Toss again, sprinkle with the reserved almonds and a few grinds of coarse salt.

*Cooking quinoa: Measure 1: scant 2 quinoa to liquid (I used half veg broth and half water for liquid). Rinse kernels under fine mesh strainer, shake out water. Heat saucepan over medium, pour in quinoa and dry toast, stirring constantly until liquid is absorbed, a minute about. Add liquid and pinch of salt, stir once, bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer, cover and let cook 15 minutes. Turn off heat and let sit 5 minutes. Remove from heat and fluff with a fork. Pour out onto a lightly oiled (if desired) baking sheet to cool and separate. Store in a jar in fridge a few days or freeze any leftovers.

14 April 2013

Whole Wheat Olive Oil Pumpkin Bread

One thing I'd say has changed a bit about my cooking over the past year or so is that I don't shy away from using good butter, all-purpose flour (unbleached!) and sugar when I know that is what a recipe needs to come out right and substitutions will only lead it astray.

That said...

You know I'm always sneaking in brown and rustic where I can, and rely more on a little oil, sea salt and lemons for seasoning rather than rich sauces. I did not shy away from creaming a stick of good butter into these delicious whole-wheat sables or these whole-wheat chocolate chip cookies. Or um, cutting the butter into the dough of these pop tarts. I suppose I don't mind all the butter if I'm sneaking whole grain flours into the mix.

Lately though, I've been feeling like I've been a bit too reliant on butter and sugar when I know I can also be experimenting with olive oil , maple syrup and even honey for equally good results.

When a bbox of unopened cooked winter squash made it's way into in my freezer in April, I thought to grind up the last cinnamon stick in the jar and make a loaf bread. While many adapted recipes feel like they are sacrificing, this one feels very authentic in the way it works; like something out of a traditional Mediterranean cookbook. It's a winner.

The loaf bakes up in just about an hour and is largely hands off. I cooled it a few hours then wrapped the whole loaf tightly in plastic to enjoy the next day. I believe the flavors meld well that way with loaf breads like pumpkin and banana, and the scent of cinnamon was luring from a few feet away the next morning as I walked into the kitchen. Don't skip the pepitas and raw sugar sprinkle atop--they really set it apart here.

Whole Wheat Olive Oil Pumpkin Bread

Adapted from Fine Cooking
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
2/3 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tsp. ground cinnamon, I used fresh-ground
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. fine sea salt
1/4 t vanilla
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup well squash or pumpkin purée, (canned or fresh and well-drained)
*1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/3 cup olive oil
1/3 cup honey
2 Tbs. toasted pumpkin seeds 
Pinch of large-grain raw sugar 

* I make my own with 1/2 T molasses and 1/2 c organic cane sugar.

Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 350°F. Grease/flour a 9x5-inch loaf pan (I also lined it with a small overlap of parchment in case I needed to lift it in the end).
Sift  flours, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into a large bowl. Whisk the eggs, pumpkin, sugar, oil, and honey until well combined. 
Add wet to dry and stir until just evenly incorporated. 

Spoon the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Sprinkle the top with the pumpkin seeds, pressing down lightly. Bake until the top is browned and a wooden skewer inserted in the center comes out clean, and the top springs back a bit, about 50-60 minutes.

Cool in the pan for 15 minutes on a wire rack and then transfer the bread to the rack to cool completely.