Tuesday, December 30, 2008

scalloped potatoes

scalloped potatoes

Here's my scalloped potato recipe (it's better than it looks in that unappealing picture), guaranteed not to turn out tough and dry. I made it with unsweetened soy milk, since that's what I have around (it makes the potatoes turn out darker, but that's about the only difference). Double it to make a 9"x13" pan for a party dinner instead of just yourself, but the baking times stay the same.

Scalloped Potatoes

1 1/2T flour
1t salt
1/8t pepper
1 1/2 lb potatoes (I usually use Yukon Gold, but this time used anonymous red ones I already had), thinly sliced (1/8"-1/16")
1 1/2T butter (or margarine)
1 1/2C milk (your preferred variety)

Combine the flour, salt, and pepper. Arrange 1/3 of the potato slices in a greased 9"x6" pan. sprinkle with half of the flour mixture and dot with half of the butter. Add a layer of potatoes, sprinkle with the rest of the flour and dot with the rest of the butter, and finish off with the remaining potatoes. Pour the milk over the top, cover with tin foil, and bake at 350ºF for 45 minutes. Turn the heat down to 325ºF, take the tin foil off, and bake for another 45 minutes--until the potatoes are tender and the top's a pretty golden color.

Monday, December 29, 2008

pale sauerkraut

sauerkraut ingredients i

I started a new batch of sauerkraut last night, this time with only pale, greenish ingredients so that it should look more like ordinary sauerkraut. I used 2.5kg green cabbage; 3 Granny Smith apples; 2 big yellow onions; 4 stalks of leafy celery; some dill, stemmed thyme, and parsley; 2T coriander and 3T mustard seeds; and 8g kosher salt per kg fruit and veg. I'll see how it turned out in the middle of January!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Xmas cookies

xmas cookies

I wasn't as ambitious as usual with my Christmas baking, and only made seven kinds of cookies. Starting at the top and working around clockwise, I made coffee cookies (I was the only one who liked these, though Rachael thought they had an exceptional texture), David Lebovitz's fig cookies (yummy, and so far I haven't given any away), toasted almond thins (taste nice, but spread out to look like cat-vomit), clove hearts (I thought these were the most successful), windmills (Rachael didn't like these all-butter ones as well as my Crisco-and-margarine standby), potato chip cookies (like pecan sandies with squashed potato chips added), and, in the middle, Pfeffernüsse (Annie's favorite).

Friday, December 26, 2008

Xmas eve

xmas cake ii

I worked on Christmas so we decided to do our presents on Christmas eve. We planned to eat our dinner at Jamjuree after Rachael's 5:30 Mass at St James, then go back to Annie's house to eat cake and open presents.

snowy sidewalk
The weather intervened, though, and I ended up trudging through the snow, with a knapsack full of presents and a 4.15kg Christmas cake, the 2 1/2 miles to Annie's house. Fortunately, Rachael met me partway and took over the cake.

Once I got there and left off my packages, Rachael and I went back to the store to get stuff for me to fix us dinner. Rachael wanted fettucine alfredo (which, when it was too late, it turned out Annie doesn't like), and in addition I made this nice Christmas salad:
xmas salad

Christmas Salad

For the dressing:
2T each olive oil and red wine vinegar
salt, pepper, and mustard flour

For the salad:
a small red onion, thinly sliced into rings
a red pear, cored and sliced into thin wedges
a handful of dandelion leaves, or other strongly-flavored but tender greens, torn into bite-sized pieces
a red grapefruit, supremed
a couple of cara cara oranges (pinkish navels) or, better, blood oranges, supremed
6oz green olives, pitted (I got Castelvetrano olives for their bright color)

Whisk the dressing ingredients together in a medium bowl, then add the onion slice and stir them around. Let them rest in the dressing getting limp while you prepare the other ingredients. After they've limpened up, transfer them to another bowl and add the pear slices to the dressing and stir them around.

Spread the dandelion leaves on a platter, and dribble a little dressing over them. Artfully arrange the pears on top, then add the onions. Toss the citrus in the remaining dressing, then add to the salad. Finally, carefully stud with pretty green olives.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

late Thanksgiving

I had a very late mini-Thanksgiving last week with Dakki and Rachael. Rachael said she didn't need a Tofurkey, so I just made all the other important things:

Cranberries, made by bringing 3/4C water and a 12 oz bag of cranberries to the boil, then adding 3/4C sugar and letting simmer, uncovered and undisturbed, till the sugar's dissolved and the cranberries have popped;

thanksgiving food
potatoes and gravy; stuffing; string bean casserole;

pie i
and Rachael's favorite pumpkin pie.

Here's my stuffing recipe, adapted from Old Mother Guppy's giblet water version:

Ma Dorothy/Old Mother Bec's Stuffing
2 stalks celery with leaves, sliced
1 large onion, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup butter or margarine
1/3 loaf sliced French, dried, cubed and crumbled in blender
1 1/2 tsp poultry seasoning
1/2 tsp salt
pepper to taste
1/2 a bag of Essential Baking Company stuffing crumbs
1/4 cup gram flour
a big handful of fresh herbs (parsley, sage, rosemary, thyme....), roughly chopped
a couple of cups of vegetable broth

Sauté the onion and celery in the butter in an oven-proof pan big enough to hold all the stuffing. When it's soft, add the French bread crumbs and cook till they begin to brown. Transfer to a big bowl, add the remaining dry ingredients, and toss to mix thoroughly before adding the broth. Squish it into the big stuffing crumbs with your hands so they're well saturated. Transfer it all back to the big pan and bake at 325ºF for about 45 minutes.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

failure at every turn


A couple of days ago I started to make my Xmas pfeffernüsse from my usual recipe from The Spice Cookbook when I realized that my giant can of Trader Joe's honey was almost empty. I went to the QFC and got some more expensive honey to tide me over, as I needed quite a bit for my cookies. I left my molasses bottle standing on its lid while I was gone, as I was also very low on that. By the time I got my dough all made (it takes a while, since you have to heat the honey and molasses, then let it cool before you add the egg, plus you have to grind the anise and cardamom) it was 10:00--too late for me to bake.

I got up the next morning and started working on my cookies as soon as I'd drunk my tea. I was surprised to find that my dough only yielded 7 dozen cookies: a unique feature of this recipe is that, as well as making pfeffernüsse that taste just like store-bought, you end up with just about the number of cookies you're supposed to--11 dozen. It was not till the first batch were in the oven that I realised that I'd measured the flour out with my 3/4 cup measuring cup instead of the 1 cup one, so my dough had only 75% of the flour it should have! The cookies spread out a little bit more than usual, and tasted a little of baking soda, but I figured they'd be okay once I rolled them in their frosting: a cardamom-flavored royal icing, half of it dyed pink.

I separated the egg to get the white for the frosting, then went to gather the other ingredients. I had no pink cake frosting color! I distinctly remember buying it last year at this time, but it was nowhere to be found. I had to go downtown to Sur la Table to get some, as my pfeffernüsse wouldn't be right without half of them being pink. I went to the grocery store on my way home to get some more honey and molasses. When I finally got home and started adding frosting ingredients to my egg white, I couldn't find the corn syrup! I remember buying it not long ago--it was QFC brand, in a bottle with a rectangular rather than round base, but it was nowhere to be found. By this time it was dark and freezing cold. I'd just been in the corn syrup aisle of Safeway, buying molasses: if only I'd known! Anyway, I went back out and got the corn syrup, made the frosting, and frosted the cookies. They were a success! The frosting covered up the baking soda taste, they were pleasantly moist from lack of flour, and I didn't really need 11 dozen of them anyway.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

retro casserole

hippie health food lunch

This is the lunch I took to work all last week: New Zealandish pumpkin chickpea salad, sauerkraut, fennel-celery salad, and this yummy casserole that reminded me of the food of my youth.

Barley Casserole

1 1/2C hulled barley, cooked with 1t salt-free Spike, or you could substitute brown rice
a batch of cashew ricotta, or a pound of cottage cheese mixed with an egg
a bunch of spinach, cooked and roughly chopped
1T olive oil
10 oz mushrooms, sliced
an onion, chopped
a handful of almond flakes

Heat oven to 350ºF. Fry the mushrooms and onion in the olive oil till the mushrooms are limp and the onion translucent. Season with nutmeg and salt. Mix the barley with the ricotta, and spread half of it in a greased casserole dish. Add the spinach, then the mushrooms, then the rest of the barley. Sprinkle almond flakes over the top, then bake for 30-40 minutes--till it's golden, and hot all the way through.

Monday, December 1, 2008



I made this for my work lunches last week, to eat with cashew cheese. I ate it up too quickly, though, so next time I think I'll double the recipe.

MultiGrain Julknäckebröd

100g rye levain, 80% hydration
200g water
1/4t instant yeast
130g dark rye flour
50g oat flour
20g barley flour
5 cardamoms and 1/2t fennel seed, ground
3/4t salt

Whisk levain, water, and yeast together, then mix in remaining ingredients and let rise for a couple of hours. Roll out onto parchment paper, using plenty of rye flour to prevent sticking, till it's 1/2cm thick. Cover with a cloth and let rise again for a couple of more hours, till doubled in height. Dimple all over with the end of a wooden spoon and score with a little knife into the size you'd like your crackers to be. Bake at 400ºF for 20 minutes, then turn down to 325ºF and bake till beginning to look golden, about 15 more minutes. Let cool overnight, then break into squares and store in a tin.