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Potato Cheddar Chowder October 29, 2010

Posted by Angela @ Making Food for Friends in soup, vegetarian.
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potato soup

Pureed potatoes are great for making a creamy, vegan soup.  I realized well after eating the soup that I forgot to add cream to it—but I really don’t think it needed it.  If you prefer a creamier soup, add a half-cup of milk or cream at the end, before adding the cheddar, and heat through.  This also tastes great without the cheddar for vegans.  It’s easy to modify for any tastes, and was a really good soup.

This soup has the taste of a really good baked potato, especially if you add the crumbled bacon and chives on top.  You could even top it with a dollop of sour cream!  It was easy to make, and most ingredient are things I usually have on-hand. This one will be going into regular rotation for sure.

Potato Cheddar Chowder

potato soup

Ingredients:

2 medium to large Yukon Gold potatoes, cleaned and diced
1 small onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
4 cups of vegetable broth
1 cup frozen corn
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp dried basil
3 tbsp flour
1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
3 strips Morningstar “bacon” (or real bacon, if you prefer), crumbled, for garnish
Additional cheddar, for garnish
Chives, for garnish

Method:

Clean and dice the potatoes.  Bring 4 cups of vegetable broth to a boil, and boil the potatoes in the broth until they are fork-tender.  Drain the potatoes but reserve the broth in a bowl–place the potatoes and reserved broth to the side.  You will have slightly less than 4 cups of broth by this point.

In a soup pot, saute the onion over medium heat until soft.  Add the minced garlic, and saute for another minute or so.  Add the reserved broth back into the pot, along with the salt, pepper, and basil.  Stir in the flour and whisk to get any lumps out.  Add half of the potatoes and half of the corn to the put, bringing to a simmer.

Using an immersion blender (or regular blender, carefully :)), puree the soup to the desired consistency. Mine was more rustic than smooth but I like it that way.  Add the rest of the potatoes and corn to the pureed soup.  Once the newly added potatoes and corn are heated throughout, stir in the shredded cheese (and a half-cup of cream, if you want).

Serve with crumbled fake or real bacon, chopped chives, and a little more shredded cheese.

Mushroom Tortilla Soup and Sweet Potato Pepita Quesadillas October 22, 2010

Posted by Angela @ Making Food for Friends in dinner, soup.
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tortilla soup and quesadilla

I’ve used Bloglines for years and years.  Bloglines is (or was) an RSS feed aggregator–it gathers subscriptions all of my favorite blogs in one place so I can quickly see what’s been updated and read all of the blogs from one location.  With the news that Bloglines is shutting down come November 1, I realized I had to spend some time going through all of the recipes  that I had saved in Bloglines over the years.  It’s been interesting—I’ve spent time cutting and pasting dozens and dozens of recipes from my “saved” folder in Bloglines to my Gmail account, and in the process, have rediscovered a ton of recipes I marked to try and then promptly forgot about.  One of them being this quesadilla recipe.  When I bookmarked it almost three years ago, I didn’t realize at the time it was a recipe from the Rebar cookbook, which I own!  It’s a great book and I knew the recipe must be delicious if it came from Rebar.   Determined not to forget about the recipe for another three years, I printed it out, took the recipe to the store, picked up some small toasted pumpkin seeds (haven’t gotten around to roasting any this year so far), and decided TONIGHT IS THE NIGHT.

Now, I’m sure a quesadilla would be a fine meal on it’s own.  But thinking about the classic combo of grilled cheese and tomato soup, I thought a nice counterpart to this grilled quesadilla would be tortilla soup.  Another recipe bookmarked in my “to try” pile was a tortilla soup with mushrooms and goat cheese from a Rick Bayless cookbook.   I got home from work, peeled the sweet potatoes and got them roasting, and started making the soup.  One mistake I made with the soup was putting an entire chipotle chile (from a can of chipotle chiles in adobo sauce) in the soup.  It was SPICY!!!  By far the hottest meal we’ve had in ages.  Topping the soup with goat cheese cut the spice level a little but I think using half a chipotle is the way to go.  Learn from my errors. 🙂

Mushroom Tortilla Soup with Goat Cheese
(Adapted from a recipe in Mexico, One Plate at a Time by Rick Bayless)

tortilla soup

Ingredients:

1 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil, plus a little oil to spray or brush on the tortillas
4 garlic cloves, peeled and left whole
1 small onion, diced
One 15 ounce whole or diced tomatoes in juice, drained OR 12 ounces (2 medium small round or 4 to 6 plum) ripe tomatoes, cored and roughly chopped
1/2 of one canned chipotle chiles en adobo
6 cups good vegetable broth, store-bought or homemade
8 ounces mushrooms (shiitakes or baby portobellos would be nice), stemmed (discard the woody stems or finely chop them) and sliced 1/4 inch thick
Salt
6 corn tortillas
4 ounces goat cheese, cut or broken apart into roughly 1/2 inch cubes
Baby arugula, for garnish (optional)
Toasted pumpkin seeds, for garnish (optional)

Method:

Start by making the soup. In a medium-large (4 quart) saucepan, heat the oil over medium. Add the garlic and onion and cook, stirring regularly, until golden, about 7 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to scoop up the garlic and onion, pressing them against the side of the pan to leave behind as much oil as possible transfer to a food processor or blender; set the pan aside. Add the tomatoes and half of one chipotle pepper (from a can of chipotles en adobo) to the garlic and onion and process to a smooth puree.

Set the saucepan over medium-high heat. When hot, add the puree and stir nearly constantly until it has thickened to the consistency of tomato paste, about 10 minutes. Add the broth and sliced mushrooms and bring to a boil, then partially cover and gently simmer over medium to medium-low heat for 30 minutes. Taste and season with salt, usually 1/2 teaspoon, depending on the saltiness of your broth.

While the soup is simmering, you can make your tortilla strips. Heat the oven to 375 degrees F. Cut the tortillas in half, then cut crosswise into 1/4 inch strips. Toss the cut strips with a tablespoon of olive oil and salt in a bowl.  Spread out the tortilla strips in a single layer on a baking sheet. Set in the oven and bake, stirring around every couple of minutes or so, until lightly browned and crispy, about 8 minutes.

To serve the soup, top with tortilla strips, crumbled goat cheese, and arugula and pumpkin seeds (if desired).

Sweet Potato Pepita Quesadilla
(Adapted from a recipe in Rebar: Modern Food Cookbook)
(Printable Recipe)

yam quesadilla

Ingredients:

1 large sweet potato
1 tsp vegetable oil
1/4 tsp salt
1 bunch scallions, chopped
1/8 cup toasted pumpkin seeds
1 cup grated Monterey Jack cheese
2 whole wheat tortillas
1/3 cup honey-chipotle sauce (see below)

Method:

Preheat oven to 375F. Peel the sweet potato and dice it. and quarter them lengthwise. Toss the diced sweet potato with a little olive oil, salt and pepper.  Roast in the oven until fork-tender and golden (about 20 mins).

To assemble the quesadillas, heat a large skillet or grill pan over medium high heat. Brush lightly with oil. Spread a thin layer of honey-chipotle sauce over the surface of the tortilla, sprinkle with the grated cheese, scallions, and pepitas. Spoon roasted sweet potato cubes over the bottom half of the tortilla. Fold the top half over the bottom, and heat through on the skillet or grill pan until the cheese melts and the tortilla crispens.

Honey Chipotle Sauce

Ingredients:

4 tbsp tomato paste
1 tbsp chipotle puree (puree a 7 oz can of chipotle chiles in adobo sauce)
1 tsp lime juice
1 tbsp honey
2 tbsp water

Method:

Combine all of the ingredients in a small bowl and whisk (or blend in the blender) until well blended. Refrigerate up to two weeks.

French Lentil Potato Salad October 19, 2010

Posted by Angela @ Making Food for Friends in salad.
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I went to yoga tonight.  I went with the expectation of getting some light exercise before heading home to make dinner but must not have read the schedule correctly, because I walked into a room hot as a sauna, heat cranked up plus two glowing red heaters at the front of the room.  I hadn’t eaten before class and it made it extremely tough on two fronts: my blood sugar dropped and I got wobbly and dizzy, plus I couldn’t concentrate because my thoughts kept wandering to all of the food I wanted to gobble up after class.  My mind went something like this:

Heaters?  What the heck?  I didn’t want to have to shower after this. Oh well.  It’s only an hour.  Ok, here we go.  Up, down, sideway, down, up, down, wait, she’s playing Lauryn Hill.  I haven’t heard that album in ages.  Maybe I’ll go home and listen to Lauryn Hill and cook green beans.  Down dog, top of a push up, raise your leg up and make an airplane, put it a little higher and make a standing split, up, down, whoa, starting to black out.  Maybe I need protein.  Maybe I need water.  I don’t know what’s going on.  Put the other leg in the air.  Try not to wobble. Maybe I should get take out.  Take out is a waste of money. Maybe I should eat potatoes.  I have too many peppers.  Are the green beans in the fridge still even good? Sweat is dripping into my ear. So much for not showering.  Down and up and down and up, Kanye West yoga soundtrack is distracting me. I can’t remember what I’m supposed to be doing.  I’m seven moves behind. Is this the longest class ever? When do I eat? What is “flip the dog over”?  I don’t think I can do that.  Maybe I should leave.  I should stick it out.  Never again.  Lentils.  They can cook while I shower.  I think I’ll lay in child’s pose for a while.

French Lentil Potato Salad
(Printable Recipe)

lentil salad

Ingredients:
1/2 cup lentils (I used French green lentils, any lentils except red would be fine)
1 1/4 cup water
Two big handfuls of fresh arugula or baby spinach
2 small to medium potatoes
1/4 green beans
Feta cheese
Salt & pepper
Vinaigrette (see below)

Method:
Start your lentils first.  Add dry lentils and water to a small sauce pan over medium heat.  Cover, and let cook for about 20-25 minutes.  Test after 20-25 minutes to see if they are done.  Add a little more water at this time if you need.  When they are cooked through, remove from heat and keep covered until ready to use.

While the lentils are cooking, wash and slice your potatoes into paper-thin half-moons or small dice.  Heat a little oil in a saute pan, and cook the potatoes until tender and a little crispy.

Cut your green beans into inch-long pieces.  Add to potato pan when the potatoes are close to done. Cover, if possible, and let them steam a little. Salt and pepper the potatoes and green beans

When everything is ready, assemble the salad. Start with a bed of fresh arugula or spinach, top with the lentils, then the potatoes and green beans, and finally the feta.  Sprinkle some cracked black pepper on top. A nice vinaigrette is good with this.

Vinaigrette

1/8 cup olive oil
1/8 cup lemon juice
1 tbsp dijon
1 tbsp chopped parsley
1/2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper

Mix thoroughly.

Arugula Parmesan Ravioli October 19, 2010

Posted by Angela @ Making Food for Friends in dinner, quick meal, vegetarian.
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Easy dinners rule around our house.  I’ve said it before, but after a full day of work, a trip to the gym, and a post-gym shower, despite my love of cooking, I just want to EAT and I want food to appear in front of me like magic, immediately.  Since that will never happen, I try to find shortcuts that will allow me to make a nice, healthy dinner in a very short amount of time.

I spied these new raviolis in Trader Joe’s over the weekend:

trader joe's arugula parmesan ravioli

Arugula?  Count me in.  I was probably late on the arugula train, but I remember clearly the first time I fell in love with it.  It was during the big blackout of 2003.  I lived in Ann Arbor at the time.  I was getting a weekly share of produce through a CSA (community-supported agriculture) and had just received a brand new box of fresh produce when the blackout hit.  I took part in a cook-out with a bunch of friends and neighbors that night, preparing all of the fresh food I had so it wouldn’t go bad.  In my CSA box that week was a bunch of fresh arugula.  I remember eating it that night and wondering what this spicy green was that I was loving so much.  Since then, I’ve made it a point to buy arugula as often as possible.  I can’t get enough of salads made with the spicy green!

With the raviolis above, I decided to stick with the flavors and toss the cooked ravioli with fresh arugula until it just wilted, parmesan cheese, pine nuts, herbed olive oil, and a little asiago.  I considered adding tomatoes, but forgot, and tossed around the idea of crumbling some crispy Morningstar fake bacon strips in but decided that might be overkill.

This meal, while not the most original, was fresh and delicious and really quick to make.

Arugula Parmesan Ravioli

arugula parmesan ravioli

Ingredients:
1 package prepared ravioli (I used the arugula parmesan ravioli from Trader Joe’s)
Two big handfuls of fresh arugula
1/8 cup parmesan
Sprinkling of pine nuts
Drizzle of herbed olive oil
Sprinkling of asiago

Method:
Boil ravioli according to package directions.  When done, toss in the warm pot with the rest of the ingredients until the arugula is just wilted.

A Pumpkin Feast for Two October 10, 2010

Posted by Angela @ Making Food for Friends in bread, dinner, good for a group, soup, vegan.
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The weather has been gorgeous in Michigan all weekend.  Temperatures in the upper seventies and clear sunny skies.  It doesn’t seem like the middle of October—more like the middle of August, prime grilling season.  I am completely in the fall spirit, though, and spent Saturday evening decorating the house for Halloween and cooking up a few pumpkin dishes for dinner despite the unseasonably warm temperatures. If the calendar says it’s mid-October, it’s pumpkin time, no matter what the weather might be saying!

Since it is autumn, you’re probably starting to see these appear on grocery store shelves:

pumpkin puree

100 percent pure pumpkin.  No spices, no filler—just pumpkin, pureed and ready to be put to work.  You could buy a pumpkin, seed it, peel it, roast it, and puree it…but in this case, I prefer to let Trader Joe do the heavy lifting and just buy the can of puree, ready to be used in so many recipes.

This one can was split and used in both recipes I made last night, pumpkin chili and pumpkin knots.  Both recipes were modified from/inspired by a great blog, (never home)maker. I tweaked both slightly and will be putting my modified versions here, but please visit (never home)maker to see the recipes in their original, intended form, with really beautiful step-by-step photos and write-ups.

This meal was hands down one of the best we’ve had in a while.  The pumpkin knots are out of this world delicious. They take a little bit of time to prepare but it’s largely hands-off time, and if you have a stand mixer, these come together in a snap.  If you don’t, you’ll just get a little extra arm work-out kneading them by hand! 🙂

Pumpkin Chili
(Inspired by (never home)maker)
(Printable Recipe)

pumpkin chili

Ingredients:

1 small onion, finely diced
1/2 red pepper, finely diced
1/2 green pepper, finely diced
1 can diced tomatoes (undrained)
1 can black beans, rinsed
1 can kidney beans, rinsed
1/2 can pumpkin
1/2 cup ( or a little more) pumpkin beer
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp white pepper
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp smoked paprika
Salt

Method:

Finely chop your onion and peppers. Saute in a dutch oven or large pot until softened. Add the rest of the ingredients (everything, as described above in the ingredients list) and let simmer over low heat for at least 30-45 minutes.  Taste and add more spices if you like more heat.

Pumpkin Knots
(Ever so slightly modified from (never home)maker)
(Printable Recipe)

pumpkin knots

Ingredients:

1 packet (2 1/4 tsp) active dry yeast
1 cup warm (110-120F) water
1 tsp sugar
3 1/2 cups bread flour
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup pure pumpkin puree
2 tbl olive oil
Spices: a pinch of each—oregano, thyme, and sage
Additional olive oil and parmesan for finishing

Method:

Start by proofing your yeast.  Put your warm water in a bowl, and stir in the packet of yeast and teaspoon of sugar.  Let it sit for about 10 minutes.  It should start to get foamy on top—that means the yeast is working.  If you don’t see the foam, your yeast is probably old and should be replaced.

While you are proofing the yeast, mix together the bread flour and salt in a large bowl (if you have a stand mixer, do this step in the mixer bowl).

When the 10 minutes is up and the yeast is ready, stir the olive oil, pumpkin puree, and spices into the water/yeast/sugar bowl.  Whisk until the mixture is smooth.

Pour the wet ingredients on to the flour/salt.  Using a spatula, mix until the ingredients are combined.  At this point, if you have a mixer, attach the dough hook and knead the dough with the mixer for about 5-7 minutes, until the dough is elastic and has a sheen to it.  If you don’t have a mixer, knead by hand for about 10 minutes until you get the same result.  Cover the dough with a tea towel and let it rise for two hours.

When the two hours is close to up, pre-heat your oven to 425F with a baking stone or baking sheet inside.

You will notice at this point that your dough has expanded and you now have a HUGE amount of dough.  You can do a few things with this:

  1. Make a giant batch of pumpkin knots
  2. Divide it, and put half in a storage bag or container in the fridge for use in the next day or so
  3. Divide it, and put half in the freezer for use in the next couple of weeks
  4. Divide it, and give half to a friend
  5. Divide it, and make half pumpkin knots, half pizza dough with it

Start making your knots.  Break off a piece of dough (go by feel with this—it should be maybe the size of a golfball) and roll it between your hands to make a cord of dough.  Tie it into a knot, and set aside. Continue until you run out of dough.

pumpkin dough

Bake the knots on your pre-heated baking stone or cooking sheet for about 12 minutes.  They will start browning on top when they are done.

While the knots are baking, prepare a large bowl with about 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil and some garlic powder (or fresh minced garlic if you are brave!).

Remove the knots from the oven, and while they are still warm, toss them in the bowl with the olive oil and garlic.  Crush them around in the bowl to make sure they are evenly coated. Sprinkle parmesan cheese in the bowl, and toss again.

These are SO GOOD.  Try them!  Eat them two nights in a row! And then for lunch again the next day!

October Cooking Club: Butternut Squash and Spinach Lasagna October 8, 2010

Posted by Angela @ Making Food for Friends in cooking club, dinner, good for a group, vegan, vegetarian.
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butternut squash

Last night I attended the monthly cooking club that I am a part of with a group of friends. Each month, the host comes up with a theme, and each person prepares a dish to bring and share, and then we all swap recipes over email after. This month’s theme was (appropriately) orange—meaning plenty of squash, sweet potatoes, carrots, cider, and other delicious autumn food!

I made a tried-and-true favorite from last fall and winter: a butternut and spinach lasagna.  My friend Sarah shared this recipe with me last year, but I am not sure of the original source.  The butternut squash is roasted with a bit of balsamic, and the spinach is cooked down with red pepper flakes, which adds a nice savory/sweet vs. slightly spicy taste dimension to the whole thing.

Squash and root vegetables are so affordable right now at farmers’ markets. I can hardly wait to go to the one near me this weekend to pick up another butternut, a rutabaga (one friend made baked rutabaga chips with curried mayonnaise last night that were so delicious!), a spaghetti squash, and maybe a few small pumpkins to use as edible soup or chili bowls. I’ve been seeing a lot of recipes for chili baked in pumpkin bowls on the internet lately that I’d love to try. I LOVE this time of year!

(For past cooking club contributions, click here.)

Butternut Squash and Spinach Lasagna
(Printable Recipe)

Ingredients:
3 cups 2% reduced-fat milk
1/4 cup all-purpose flour (about 1 ounce)
2 tablespoons butter
1/3 cup minced shallots
1 1/4 teaspoons salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
8 cups (3/4-inch) cubed peeled butternut squash (about 2 1/4 pounds)
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
4 teaspoons olive oil, divided
Cooking spray
1 teaspoon chopped fresh or 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
4 garlic cloves, minced
3 (6-ounce) bags fresh baby spinach (or 2 10 oz. bags of “regular” spinach, tough stems removed and coarsely chopped)
12 cooked lasagna noodles (8 ounces uncooked noodles) (I used the Barilla no-cook lasagna noodles; there were too many in the box—only needed 12 and the box has 16—but they worked really well!)
2 cups (8 ounces) shredded Italian blend cheese

Method:

Preheat oven to 425°.

Peel and dice your squash.  I like to cut the top and bottom off so it’ll stand up properly, then peel the skin using a sharp vegetable peeler.  Remove the seeds and strings (saving them to roast if you’d like!).  Dice the peeled squash into small, 1/2 inch or so cubes.

peeled and diced squash

Place squash in a large bowl. Add vinegar; toss to coat. Add 1 tablespoon oil; toss to coat. Arrange squash in a single layer in a roasting pan. Sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt, remaining 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, and thyme. Bake at 425° for 30 minutes, stirring after 15 minutes.

roasted butternut squash

Cook milk in a small, heavy saucepan over medium-high heat until tiny bubbles form around edge (do not boil). Remove from heat; keep warm.

Lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife. Melt butter in a medium nonstick saucepan over medium heat. Add shallots; cook 2 minutes or until tender. Reduce heat; add flour to pan, and cook 5 minutes or until smooth and golden, stirring constantly. Remove from heat; add about 2 tablespoons warm milk to flour mixture, stirring constantly with a whisk. Gradually add remaining warm milk, about 1/2 cup at a time, until mixture is smooth, stirring constantly with a whisk. Stir in 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper. Bring to a boil; reduce heat, and cook until smooth and thickened. Remove from heat but keep warm.

Combine remaining 1 teaspoon oil, red pepper, and garlic in a Dutch oven over medium heat; cook 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add spinach, 1 bag at a time; cook until wilted, stirring frequently. Add remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt; cook until liquid evaporates, stirring frequently.

Reduce oven temperature to 350°.

Spoon 1/3 cup milk mixture in bottom of a 13 x 9-inch baking pan coated with cooking spray. Arrange 4 noodles over milk mixture; top with spinach mixture, 2/3 cup milk mixture, and a third of the cheese. Arrange 4 noodles over cheese; top with squash mixture, 2/3 cup milk mixture, and a third of the cheese. Arrange remaining 4 noodles on top of cheese; spread remaining 1/2 cup milk mixture over noodles. Sprinkle with the remaining cheese.

layered lasagna

Bake at 350° for 30 minutes or until bubbly. Let stand 15 minutes before serving.

(Unfortunately, I didn’t snap a good photo of the final product!  I’ll be making it again at home, soon—when I was putting it together to take to cooking club, Ryan asked if we could make it at home sometime soon.  Maybe for next week’s Fringe with Friends!  I’ll make sure to get a nice photo then.)

Vegan Option

vegan squash pasta

For the vegans in our cooking club, I saved a portion of the roasted squash and tossed it with fusilli pasta, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, fresh baby spinach, pine nuts, thyme, and salt & pepper. I had leftovers of this version for lunch today but since I am not vegan, I tossed a little blue cheese in the mix, which was really good.  I’d make this version again , for sure.

Tofu with Peppers October 6, 2010

Posted by Angela @ Making Food for Friends in dinner, vegan.
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Tuesday nights used to my main cooking night.  For a long time, we had friends over every Tuesday and I’d make a big meal for our weekly Lost viewing parties.  But the Tuesday night routine has changed a lot in the last few months.  Ryan eats early, before band practice, and I eat pretty late, after the gym.  So Tuesdays have now become the day when I throw together something for myself late in the evening, more often than not absolutely famished and wanting food NOW.

I had four really beautiful bell peppers from a trip to the farmer’s market over the weekend. I saved the red one for making soup later in the week, but used the other three in this stir-fry with tofu.  To save myself time after the gym, I julienned the peppers, sliced the scallions, and mixed the sauce before leaving.  That way, when it was time to eat, I just had to boil some water for the noodles, cook the tofu, and stir fry everything together.

Tofu with Peppers
(Printable Recipe)
(Adapted from the New York Times)

tofu peppers with noodles

Ingredients:

8 oz thin rice noodles
1 block of extra firm tofu
2 bell peppers (any color), julienned
1/3 cup broth
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon Golden Mountain sauce (optional)
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
1 tsp red pepper flakes
2 cloves minced garlic
1 or 2 tsp minced ginger
1 tsp sugar
1/4 cup (about 2 scallions) scallions, thinly sliced|
Sriracha, as a garnish
Sesame seeds, as a garnish

Method:
Start by prepping your ingredients.  Start with the vegetables.  Slice at least two scallions and julienne the bell peppers.

sliced peppers

Cut your block of tofu into small dice and gently press out excess water with a paper towel or tea towel. Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a skillet (at least 12 inches big) and add the tofu to the pan when the oil is nice and hot.  Pan fry it until it is golden and has a slightly crispy exterior.  Add a little soy sauce (just a few shakes of the bottle) to the pan at the end and stir the tofu around in the soy sauce to give the tofu cubes a darker golden color.

While the tofu is cooking, start boiling a pot or tea kettle of water.  Place the rice noodles in a big bowl. When the water comes to a boil or the tea kettle whistles, pour the hot water over the noodles and let them sit until the noodles have softened. Drain, and set aside.

Also, while the tofu is cooking, make the sauce by mixing together the broth, soy sauce, Golden Mountain sauce (if you have it–if you don’t, double the soy sauce and rice vinegar), rice vinegar, and sesame oil.  Whisk or shake it up well.

Mix together the red pepper flakes, minced garlic, and minced ginger in a small bowl.

When the tofu is done, add the bowl of red pepper/ginger/garlic to the skillet with the tofu.  Stir fry for 10-20 seconds.  Add the peppers, and stir fry for another 2-3 minutes.  Add the scallions, sauce, and sugar, and stir fry for another 2 minutes, until the sauce has cooked down a bit and everything is thoroughly mixed.

Serve with sriracha and sesame seeds as a garnish.

Pretzel Bread October 3, 2010

Posted by Angela @ Making Food for Friends in bread.
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Pretzels.  I eat them almost every day between 10:30 and 11am as my “second breakfast.”  My favorite bagel is the Bruegger’s pretzel bagel (with a slice of swiss!) No matter how many pretzels I eat each week, I’ll never get sick of nice warm pretzel bread.  Trader Joe’s has nice little pretzel rolls, but by the time they leave wherever they are baked and reach the store, they are sort of moist and cold and if you are me, you believe there has to be a better way to get that warm pretzel deliciousness besides heating up a TJ’s roll in the microwave.

I started googling pretzel bread recipes a while back and put this recipe, from Two Bites in Suburbia, on my “must make soon” list.  Today ended up being that day.  This recipe takes a while, but don’t let that deter you.  There’s a lot of waiting time, so if you are going to be around the house for a while you could get plenty done while making time to make this bread.

This was my first attempt at making this bread and I definitely learned from it. Things I would do differently next time:

  • Knead it longer in the final step (I kneaded for 3 minutes with a KitchenAid, would probably do 4 or 5 minutes)
  • Boil the finished dough for 30 sec per side (I did 30 sec total this time)
  • MORE SALT!!! (in both the dough and on top) Put more on than you think you want.
  • I’d slash the final loaf deeper before putting it in the oven.  My crust turned nice and golden but cracked  on top, and I think it is because I didn’t slash the boiled dough enough, giving it inadequate room to expand

Mike’s Signature Pretzel Loaf
(Printable Recipe)
(From Two Bites in Suburbia)

pretzel bread

Ingredients:

2 ¼ tsp yeast
1 cup water (110-120 degrees)
2 Tbsp room temperature milk
1 Tbsp dark brown sugar
3 Tbsp butter
1 tsp kosher salt
2 ½ – 3 cups bread flour

4 quarts water
½ cup baking soda

Kosher salt to taste
2 Tbsp melted butter

Method:

First, gather up your ingredients.  You’ll want to use bread flour, and dark brown sugar is preferable (I didn’t have it).

pretzel bread ingredients

Start by proofing your yeast.  I used active dry yeast (one small packet, or 2 1/4 tsp). Melt 3 tbs butter and mix in with warm water (110-120 F), brown sugar, and milk. If your water is too cool, the yeast won’t bubble.  If it’s too hot, it’ll kill it.  You can use a thermometer for best results or just run tap water until it feels like bath water to the touch.  Whisk the water, yeast, melted butter, and milk together in a large bowl and let it set for 10 minutes.  The yeast should start to bubble:

yeast bubbling

When the ten minutes is up, stir in 1 teaspoon of kosher salt and the bread flour. Start with two cups, and add more as necessary (no more than 2  1/2 – 3 cups total). Mix well.  Remove the dough from the bowl, oil the bowl, and place the dough back in the bowl.

dough

Cover the bowl with a towel and let the dough rise for 30-45 minutes.  Our house is on the chilly side today (67F) so I put the covered bowl in the oven with the oven light on (just the light, not the oven!).

oven light on

After 30-45 minutes, peak under the towel.  The dough should’ve risen, about doubled in size:

risen dough

At this point, you will need to knead the dough.  If you are kneading by hand, knead it for 5-10 minutes.  If you have a KitchenAid mixer, put the dough hook on, lightly oil the bowl, and knead it with the dough hook for 3 minutes or so. After you are done, it should be elasticy and have a slight sheen to it.

dough with sheen

Put it back in the oiled bowl, cover it, and let it rise for another hour.

It should get nice and puffy:

puffy dough

During the final part of the rise, start your boiling water.  Put 4 quarts/16 cups of water in a large pot and mix in 1/2 cup of baking soda.  Bring to a boil.  When the hour is up, gently take the puffy dough from the boil and place in the boiling water.  Turn it after 30 seconds, allowing it to boil for 20-30 seconds per side. This is the crucial step for giving the bread the final golden pretzel color and crust.

dough in water

Carefully remove the dough from the boiling water and place on a piece of parchment paper.  Slash the top of the boiled loaf to allow room for the dough to expand while baking.  Sprinkle the top with kosher salt to taste.  You’ll probably want to put more salt on than you think you’ll want—I thought I put a lot on but wished I had more when it was done.

before baking

Alright, now put that dough in the oven!  I baked mine in an uncovered dutch oven but a baking sheet would be fine.  Keep it on the parchment paper, no matter what you do.  I made a single loaf and baked it for about 50 minutes at 400F.

bread after baking

(Printable Recipe)

Broccoli Mushroom Potato Walnut Cheddar Puff Pastries October 1, 2010

Posted by Angela @ Making Food for Friends in appetizers, dinner, good for a group, vegetarian.
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2 comments

I have been trying to come up with a good name for these little puff pastries.  Broccoli Mushroom Potato Walnut Cheddar Puff Pastries is just a tad long…descriptive, but not catchy!  It will have to do for now, though. They were kind of like a pot pie wrapped in delicious buttery pastry dough.

I baked a batch of these last night for Fringe with Friends (this is when all of our buds come over, we eat dinner, and watch Walter, Peter, and Olivia battle forces from the other dimension on the television show FRINGE).  I served it alongside a bowl of red lentil feta lemon soup but I didn’t snap any pictures of the soup, so that willl have to wait for another post.

These little guys were good–very rich tasting from the pastry, but not so rich that they leave you feeling heavy or overly stuffed after eating them.  We had no leftovers, but I’d imagine it would be a good thing to have around for easy lunches the following day. You could also cut the squares even smaller and make a nice appetizer or hors d oeuvres.

Broccoli Mushroom Potato Walnut Cheddar Puff Pastries
(Printable Recipe)

puff pastries

Ingredients:

1 package of puff pastry (two sheets), thawed but still cold
2 medium potatoes, diced
1 cup of broccoli, chopped
4 oz mushrooms
1/4 cup walnuts
Shredded cheddar cheese
Salt & pepper
1 egg
Water

Method:

Thaw your puff pastry dough by either placing it in the refrigerator the morning of the day you are planning on using it, or by removing it from the freezer and placing it out on the countertop about an hour before you want to use it.

Preheat your oven to 375F. Assuming your pastry is adequately thawed, you’ll want to begin by preparing your filling. Chop your potatoes into a small dice.  You’ll want to then either steam them or boil them for a few minutes to soften them up.  Confession:  I steam them in the microwave using the Ziploc Zip n’ Steam bags.  Are those bad for you?  I don’t know.  I should probably look into that.  But it is easy and quick to clean up, and I have a million of them for some reason.

While your potato is steaming or boiling, chop your broccoli up into small (smaller than bite-sized) pieces.  Heat some olive oil in a skillet on the stove, and begin cooking the mushrooms until they begin to brown.  Add in your chopped broccoli and continue to stir.  Add your softened potatoes and cook until the potatoes have a bit of a crisp to them.  Stir in the chopped walnuts, and season with salt and pepper (and any other spices you might like).

cooking filling

Roll out your thawed puff pastry sheets on a clean, floured countertop.  Flour a rolling pin and gently roll the sheets in all directions.  Cut each sheet into 9 equal pieces.  On each square, place a pinch of shredded cheddar cheese and a tablespoon full of filling.

filling on pastry

Try to center the cheese and filling as best you can.  Fold the square in half and pinch around all of the edges, making sure there are no holes for the filling to leak out of during cooking.  Finish with the rest of the pieces.  I ended up making both rectangles and triangles depending on how each piece was cut.  As you finish each one, place it on a baking sheet  lined with parchment paper.  Make an egg wash by whisking one egg with a tablespoon of water, and brush it on top of each pastry.

pastries uncooked

Bake them in the oven at 375 for about 12-15 minutes, or until the tops are golden and the pastries are puffed up.  Then eat!

puff pastries

(Printable Recipe)