Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Blueberry Ginger Buckle (or is it a Cobbler?)

It's been several busy, intense weeks since I last posted, because all of a sudden the long, lazy days of summer starting careening down the hill towards fall at top speed, and then it was time to - GULP - move my son into college. Needless to say, this development produced a rich, complex emotional stew of pride, excitement, nostalgia, panic, and complete denial that left little energy for cooking (or blogging). But now he's settled in, his classes have started, all appears to be well, and it's time for me to settle back into something like a normal routine.

With another Vegan MoFo coming up, that routine includes spending some quality time in the kitchen. My own classes resume next week, so my plan for this year's MoFo is to post two or three times a week, and after careful consideration, and in light of the World War I centenary
I've decided to focus on recipes from between 1914-1918. I learned so much from my World War II austerity project  two years ago, and this theme seems like an appropriate follow-up. I've been doing some research, but would be grateful for any resources that culinary enthusiasts, living history types, material culture-friendly British modernists, etc. might be able to provide; thanks in advance.

But all that lies in the womb - or at least the stomach - of time. There's still a bit of summer left, and today's recipe reflects that fact by using a full pint of sweet, delicious, late August blueberries. So what is this thing, exactly? Is it a cobbler? Is it a buckle? Is it - wait for it - a grunt? What's the difference? And does it really matter when whatever it may be is so easy, and so delicious? Enjoy these last lazy days, and I'll see you in the trenches come September; watch this space!

Blueberry Ginger Buckle 
The Filling
~ Juice of 1 lemon
~ 1 tbsp. fresh, grated ginger
~ 1 pint fresh blueberries
~ 1/4 cup maple syrup
~ 1/2 cup orange juice
~ 2 tbsp. corn starch

~ In a saucepan over medium heat, combine the lemon juice and ginger and mix well.
~ Add the blueberries, maple syrup, and 1/4 cup of the orange juice; cover and bring just to a boil.
~ Whisk together the cornstarch and the remaining 1/4 cup orange juice until smooth. Add to the berry mixture and continue to cook, stirring frequently, until the mixture thickens and the fruit has softened slightly.
~ Remove from heat and set aside to cool.

The Batter
~ 2.5 cups all-purpose flour
~ 1 cup corn meal
~ 1 tbsp. baking powder
~ 1/2 tsp. each: baking soda, salt, cinnamon
~ Dash nutmeg
~ 1/2 cup brown sugar
~ 1 large, ripe banana, mashed
~ 1/4 cup canola oil
~ 1.5 cups almond milk (plain or vanilla)
~ 1 tsp. vanilla extract
~ 1 tbsp. sugar mixed with 1/4 tsp. each cinnamon and dried ginger

~ Preheat the oven to 375 degrees fahrenheit and coat a 9 x 12" baking dish with cooking spray.
~ In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, corn meal, baking powder, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and brow sugar.
~ In a separate bowl, combine the mashed banana, canola oil, almond milk, and vanilla extract; stir well until smooth.
~ Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in the liquid mixture. Mix well with a wooden spoon to form a shaggy batter (you can add a splash more milk if it seems too dry).
~ Spoon a little more than half the batter into the bottom of your greased baking dish, making sure the bottom is entirely covered, and then add the blueberry filling (all of it!).
~ Top the filling with the remaining batter, don't try to smooth it out, but just distribute it in rough lumps, like a cobbler topping.
~ Sprinkle the sugar, cinnamon, and ginger over the top and bake, uncovered, at 375 degrees for about 30 minutes.
~ Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the pan about 15 minutes before slicing into squares for serving.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Coconut-Sesame-Peanut Noodles

Back at the beginning of this (all-too-rapidly disappearing) summer, my friend Jess invited my partner, another friend, and me for dinner, which featured some delicious sesame noodles. I meant to get the recipe and recreate them at home, but things got busy, travel plans got underway, and it slipped my sieve-like mind until a few weeks ago, when I was looking for something to bring to a dinner party and thought those noodles would be just the thing: easily transportable, and equally good served hot, cold, or at room temperature.

I emailed Jess for the details, but since we were in Iceland at the time, some ingredients weren't available; not to be deterred, I MacGyvered a batch using what was on hand, with excellent (if I do say so) results. Now that we're home again, I present a conflation of the original recipe and my North Atlantic improvisation, so that the gentle reader may be touched by the noodly greatness of a one-dish meal that manages to be comforting, filling, yet surprisingly light: the perfect dinner for a warm summer evening.

Coconut-Sesame-Peanut Noodles
~ 1 tbsp. toasted sesame oil
~ 4 cloves garlic, minced
~ 1 tbsp. freshly grated ginger
~ 6 large scallions, sliced
~ 3 tbsp. soy sauce
~ 1 tbsp. each: Thai red curry paste, brown sugar
~ 1-2 tbsp. Sriracha
~ 1 15 oz. can coconut milk
~ 1/4 cup tahini
~ 1/2 cup smooth, unsweetened peanut butter
~ Juice of 1 lime

~ In a large saucepan, saute the garlic in the sesame oil over medium heat for about a minute. Add the ginger and scallions and cook about two minutes more.
~ Stir in the soy sauce, curry paste, sugar, Sriracha, and coconut milk. Mix well to get everything nicely acquainted.
~ Add the tahini and the peanut butter, and stir until smooth. Continue cooking for about 5-7 minutes, until hot but not boiling. Stir in the lime juice, taste for seasoning (you may want a little more heat, salt, or whatever), and set aside.

Noodles and Veggies
~ 1 lb. linguine
~ 2 cups broccoli florets
~ 1 12 oz, package Wildwood savory baked tofu, cubed (or 1.5 cups homemade)
~ 2 cups shredded carrot
~ 2 cups bean sprouts
~ 1 cup fresh, chopped basil or cilantro
~ Chopped, roasted peanuts (optional, for garnish)

~ Cook the linguine according to package directions. Just before the pasta is done, add the broccoli, cook about one minute, and then drain the whole business, reserving one cup of the cooking water.
~ Rinse the pasta and broccoli with cold water, drain well, and return to the pot.
~ Add the sauce, tofu cubes, carrots, bean sprouts, and fresh herb. Mix thoroughly (this makes a lot, so you'll need to put your back into this part), adding some of the reserved pasta water if the mixture seems too thick.
~ Serve immediately at room temperature, or refrigerate and serve cold later, with extra hot sauce and maybe some chopped peanuts for garnish.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Masala Dosa-Inspired Puff Pastry Tarts

Ever wonder what would happen if a pissaladiere, a puff pastry tart, and a masala dosa had a three-way that led to, er, "issue"? No? Hmmm. Well, I have, and I like to think that in the blessed event, such a a groovy culinary lovechild would look (and taste) something like this.

Masala Dosa-Inspired Puff Pastry Tarts
~ 1 package (2 sheets) frozen puff pastry, thawed (Pepperidge Farm is vegan)
~ 1/2 lb. brown mushrooms, sliced
~ 1-2 tbsp. coconut oil
~ 1/2 tsp. each: mustard seeds, cumin seeds
~ 2 tbsp. chana dal
~ 1 small onion, diced
~ 2 cloves garlic, minced
~ 1 tbsp. fresh, grated ginger
~ 4-5 small potatoes, cooked and cubed
~ 1/2 tsp. each: black salt, cumin, garam masala, chili powder, turmeric, asafoetida, fenugreek
~ 1/4-1/2 cup water, as needed
~ 1/2 cup fresh or frozen green peas
~ 1/4 cup chopped, fresh cilantro

~ Preheat the oven to 375 degrees fahrenheit and lightly coat two baking sheets with cooking spray.
~ In a nonstick or cast iron skillet, cook the mushrooms over medium-high heat for 5-7 minutes, until browned and fragrant. Sprinkle with a little salt, transfer to a plate, and set aside.
~ In the same pan, melt the coconut oil and cook the mustard seeds, cumin seeds, and chana dal over medium-high heat for a few minutes, until the seeds start to pop. Add the onions and continue cooking about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until they are softened but not brown.
~ Add the garlic and ginger, cook for about minute, and then stir in the cubed, cooked potatoes.
~ Fry the potatoes for about 5 minutes, turning them so they get a bit brown, and then add the dry seasonings, stirring to coat. You can add some water to the pan if things start to stick.
~ Stir in the peas and cook just another minute or two, until they turn bright green.
~ Add the reserved, cooked mushrooms and combine thoroughly.
~ Remove from heat and set aside to cool for about 10 minutes.
~ Arrange the thawed puff pastry on the baking sheets; gently fold in the edges and crimp to form a rim.
~ Divide the potato mixture evenly between the two sheets, using a spatula to spread it right to the edges.
~ Bake at 375 degrees for 25-30 minutes, until puffed up and golden brown. (Ovens vary wildly, so keep an eye on them; I switched the pans at the halfway point to ensure even baking.)
~ When the tarts are nearly done, sprinkle each one with half the fresh cilantro and return to the oven for about 5 minutes.
~ Remove from the oven and allow to rest for 5-10 minutes before serving.