Friday, December 08, 2006

Buttermilk Pancakes

I don't really love pancakes. They're ok, a little doughy, kind of boring. I do, however, love these pancakes. And to my mind there's something a little decadent about a good pancake breakfast (or, for that matter, lunch or dinner) that makes them even more fun to eat.

So, if you happen to have some time on a morning, and buttermilk left over from making scones, and feel like making a treat for whoever else is in the house, these will make everyone happy. No matter how gloomy and cold it is outside.

Buttermilk Pancakes
1 1/2 cups flour
1 to 3 tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. grated nutmeg
2 eggs
3 tbsp. melted butter or oil
1 1/2 cup buttermilk
1 tsp. vanilla

1. Mix dry (first 6) ingredients in a bowl
2. In another bowl, beat eggs and add butter/oil, buttermilk, and vanilla. Pour wet ingredients into dry ones and stir.
3. Heat a nonstick or lightly buttered pan over medium-high heat. Drop 1/4 cup batter in at a time. Wait until small bubbles appear on the surface of the pancake-to-be (will take a couple minutes), and then flip them. Cook for another minute. Don't pat or screw with them more than necessary.

from Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone by Deborah Madison

The Perfect Scones

My last girlfriend charmed my housemates and I by, among other things, bringing over bags of warm, crumbly scones from a small bakery near her apartment. The scones were just right -- moist crumbs that melted perfectly in your mouth, a not-overwhelming taste of vanilla, plump bits of dried fruit. Being neurotic, I tried for months to replicate them using recipes culled from various sources. It wasn't until I found this recipe, in Once Upon a Tart, that I found what I was looking for.

Since I came back from Asia I've been spending a lot of time on friends' couches, and I like to present a bag of these scones as an expression of gratitude. For those a little less homeless, the scones also make a nice addition to brunch potlucks, or, really, to any day. Plus, making them take very little time or energy.

This is a basic recipe. I love the way currants work in it, but if you'd rather use something else (raisins, dried cherries, those yummy dried blueberries Trader Joe's sells, or candied ginger), you should go for it. This recipe makes a shitload of scones, so I sometimes halve it.

Buttermilk-Currant Scones (ie, the Basic Scone Recipe)

4 cups flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2/3 cup sugar
20 tbsp (2 1/2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4 inch cubes
2 large eggs
1 cup cold buttermilk
1 tbsp. vanilla
1 cup dried currants

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees
2. Dump dry (first 5) ingredients into food processor and pulse.
3. Add butter and mix for a few seconds, until the batter looks like moist crumbs.
4. In a small bowl, mix eggs so they yolks are broken. Mix in buttermilk, vanilla, and currants.
5. Mix the dry and wet mixtures together. At first it looks depressingly dry, like no batter could possibly come together. Do not abandon faith. Keep mixing and it works out. (Now isn't that inspiring?) Stop as soon as flour is no longer visible.
6. Use a 1/2 cup measure to scoop batter into rounds on a baking sheet.
7. Bake 25-30 minutes. They will be golden brown (and your kitchen will smell really good).

For a variation, add a little powdered ginger to the dry ingredients and use chopped up candied ginger instead of fruit.

Adapted with love from "Once Upon a Tart" by Frank Mentesana and Jerome Audureau

Friday, December 01, 2006

Best Gingerbread Evu

i don't want to tell you this because it is so good that people will be breaking down your door with tears in their eyes asking for more, and that's just a dangerous position to put you in. But here you go.

1 1/2 c unbleached white flour
1 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
1 egg
1/4 cup unsulphured molasses
1/4 c dark corn syrup
1/4 pound unsalted butter, softened
1/2 c brown sugar
1/2 c buttermilk, room temp
about 1/2 c fresh ginger, grated

Preheat oven to 350. Grease an 8-inch round cake pan. Sift flour, baking
soda, and salt together. Beat the egg in a mixing bowl; add molasses and
corn syrup and beat together. In another bowl, cream butter and sugar until
light and fluffy. Slowly beat in the molasses mixture until smooth,
stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl several times. Alternately
add dry ingredients and buttermilk, beginning and ending with dry. Stir in
the grated ginger. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake until the
top springs back or a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean - 35 to
40 minutes.

Here is an amazing cookie recipe too, seriously my favorite:

cherry oatmeal chocolate chip

I'm making preserves for J's family xmas presents and am wondering: besides carrot marmalade and pomegranate jelly, should i make pear or kiwi jam? kiwi is beautiful and green but pear is more comforting and christmasy! tell.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

kookoo for kookoos

This is Abby the new genius here (although actually I'm old).
So, Rebecca has 12 hundred million bazillion amazing cookbooks and when she was packing up her life to move it to New York so she could go on her awesome journey, she gave me one. It is 'Madhur Jaffrey's World of the East Vegetarian Cooking'. It has many delicious sounding recipes. So far the only one I have tried is the Kookoo with Cauliflower and Parsley and it is quite delicious. It is, in Mahur Jaffrey's words, "a thick persian versian of the omelette, which sometimes borders on being a souffle". It could also be described as a light crustless quiche. Here is the recipe:

1 pound cauliflower
1 tablespoon plus 3/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup finely sliced scallions including green
ground black pepper
7 large eggs
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
2 tablespoons minely minced parsley
1 tablesppon unsalted butter

Break the cauliflower into florets.
Bring 3 quarts of water to a boil in a 4 1/2 quart pot. Add 1 tbsp salt. When water is at a rolling boil, drop in the cauliflower. Boil rapidly for about 2 minutes. Cauliflower should be cooked through but still crunchy. Drain cauliflower and run it under cold water. Then mince it.

Heat oil in an 8 inch skillet over medium heat. When hot, put in garlic. Stir around for 20 seconds, add scallions and stir for another 30 seconds. Add cauliflower, 1/2 tsp salt and a lot of black pepper. Stir and cook for 2-3 minutes, then turn off and let cool sliughtly. (I have not been precise with the timing when I've made this and it has been fine. Does anyone time 20 seconds?)

Beat the eggs in a large bowl. Add 1/4 tsp salt, black pepper and the baking soda. Mixx well. Add the cauliflower and parsley and mix again.

Heat the butter in a nonstick skilet that is about 7 1/2 inches wide at the bottom over a low flame. When hot, pour in the eggy mixture. Cover, and let the kookoo cook for 20 minutes. It should be brown on the bottom and slightly crisp at the edges. Turn the kookoo over. You can use a spatula or, if that's too scary, put a plate on top of the pan and flip it upside down, and slid e back into the pan.
Cook the Kookoo on the second side uncovered for 5 minutes or until it develops brown spots.

Serve hot, warm or cold, cut into wedes.
It is quite easy to make and really good.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

New Genius

I'd also like to welcome a new contributor to the site -- Abby Genius, an expert on such wide-ranging issues as Persian frittatas (aka, "kukus"), raising mealworms, and making your own tortillas.

Baking the Blues Away

I've been a little aimless lately. Since coming back to New York, I've been on exactly one job interview, for a job that I liked and thought that I would be good at. While waiting to hear back, I'd stopped actively looking for jobs and started keeping an eye out for new furniture, and planning work outfits for my new, fabulous job. Then the other shoe dropped. I didn't get the job. It has occured to me for the first time that it might be really hard for me to find one, and that it might have been a bad idea to give up a steady, if not always interesting, job to pursue my still-nebulous dreams.

So I've turned to what ever distraught girl does in a time of crisis -- started baking. Constantly. (For those who are wondering, I have indeed managed to gain back the weight lost in India.) I've found the world's best scone recipe, which blows the pants of all those gross, heavy, doughy blobs sold in yuppy bakeries. I've also spent several afternoons baking leek- and pumpkin-filled Turkish turnovers that I then proceed to eat at all hours of the day. It's just about the yummiest form of depression possible.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Simple, Easy, and Cheap

I was horrified when I discovered, a few days ago, that a good friend of mine subsists entirely on Chinese takeout, leftover pasta with meatballs (from her mother), and toast. Although utterly broke, she generally buys her food from restaurants instead of simply buying groceries, and then, from time to time, actually cooking things.

Her excuses? She doesn't have time, there are no groceries in the house, and she doesn't know how. I have no real advice for those unable to go grocery shopping (except that there are now numerous online grocery services, but there are plenty of meals that can be made in a little time and with a minimum of skill.

And even those without a full pantry generally have eggs. I've posted a few egg recipes here before, but I've realized that it's not enough. The best place to start cooking for those of us without high cholesterol, large bank balances, or oodles of time, is with a couple of eggs. At about a dollar a pound they're cheap, full of protein, unintimidating, and able to take on any number of flavors or textures.

A few links to start us off:
*Martha Stewart's guide to boiling an egg and for another take, the Wikipedia take on boiling eggs
*Today's Mark Bittman column on the glories of eggs, complete with incredibly yummy-looking recipes
*A few basic recipes from Elise, such as deviled eggs, poached eggs, egg salad sandwiches, and spinach frittata.
*Delia Smith's egg recipes

More recipes will be posted later.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Many Apologies, Part 2

It's been a long time since I've posted, mostly because since my last post I quit my (actually quite lovely) job and flew to Singapore, and then to India. I do apologize for not being a more conscientous and thoughtful blogger, but now that I'm back in the country (and, well, unemployed and single), I'll have much more time to devote to everyone's favorite occupations -- cooking and writing.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Many apologies

I've been gone for awhile, for a variety of reasons. Several weeks ago the GF, who took the lovely photo of the sliced tomatoes below, started packing to move back to Singapore, taking her knowledge of my camera and her best-ever sesame noodles with her. This would have been stressful under the best of situations, as neither of us is particularly good at packing or, for that matter, figuring out how to move one's entire belongings to the other side of the globe. Then, during one of Boston's recent tsunamis, her room flooded and was rendered unfit for mankind, or even her cat. And then... well, actually, the string of incidents ain't all that interesting. Suffice it to say I'm back, I'll start posting again tonight, and will figure out my camera as well as the sesame noodles recipe so we can get back to before.

I've gotten a request to provide some information on artichokes, one of my favorite vegetables. Please, if any of you have any questions on anything food-related, feel free to send a question in. I'm also thinking of making a sidebar listing favorite cookbooks, if that would be helpful. Anyway, sorry for the long-ass delay, and check out Mark Bittman's piece on grilling eggplant in today's Times.