Monthly Archives: July 2011

Fluffy Omelets

This weekend I went to Mark’s parent’s house. Not sure if you are feeling the heat wave, but it has been like the living in the Sahara desert for the past few days. Mark and I went for a 3 mile run on Saturday afternoon, in about 98 degree heat. I felt surprisingly good, but I was sweating buckets. When we got back, we went for a quick dip in the Deerfield River to cool off. I made us some omelets for a late lunch. Mark has recently discovered that he actually likes eggs, so we’ve been eating a fair amount of them lately. Not sure if you know this but eggs are back on the good for you list. I don’t really buy into the good or bad for you deal but I do support “all things in moderation”.  I went all out for these omelets, whipping up the whites to make them super light and fluffy. It’s time consuming but totally worth it if you have the time. Also, when separating the eggs (yoke from white), I recommend cutting out a yolk or two, you still get all the flavor of the yoke but less of the cholesterol (and calories). After you whip up the eggs, gently fold the yolks into the whites and spoon the mixture into your pan. I also like to broil the tops of mine so the top side gets golden brown as well. We sautéed some veggies in one pan and some turkey kielbasa in another (for Mark’s omelet), to keep mine vegetarian.

 

Fluffy Omelets

Makes 2 omelets

4 eggs, separated (I used only 3 of the yolks)

¼- ½ tsp cream of tartar

4 tbs of oil

½ bell pepper sliced or diced

¼ medium onion sliced or diced

½ tomato, diced

2-4 oz of precooked turkey kielbasa (optional, I’m not sure how much Mark ended up dicing up)

 

To separate the eggs you need 2 bowls, one large and one small, crack the egg over the large bowl and try to get as much of the white in the bowl, while keeping the yolk in one of the shell halves. Transfer the yolk back and forth between the two shell halves, over the big bowl… trying to get as much of the white into the bowl as possible… try really hard not to break the yolk. Place the yolk in the smaller bowl and repeat with the remaining eggs. I just tossed out the last yolk. If you drop a yolk into the big bowl, try to scoop it out carefully with a spoon, without breaking it.

 

Whip the whites on high with an electric mixer until stiff peaks form, add in the cream of tartar and whip to incorporate it. Then add in yolks and carefully fold them into the whites with a rubber spatula. Do this very gently so that all of the air you whipped in does not come out. Once combined, spoon into a frying pan heated over medium heat and coated with cooking spray or a bit of oil.

We made 2 separate omelets, in order to customize our toppings. Let the omelets cook for about 5 mins until the underside is brown and the top is firm. While they cook, sauté the veggies (and meat) in some olive oil. (I did not sauté the tomatoes, I let the broiler cook them). Arrange veggies over the top of the firmed omelets.

Place the omelet about 4-6 inches below a preheated broiler. This will take only a minute, as soon as the tops start to brown pull them out. They can burn very quickly because the boiler can get really, really hot. Also the handle of the pan may get hot, so use caution.

Remove the omelet from the pan. Dress the omelet up how you’d like… I opted for black pepper on top and ketchup on the side. Mark doused his with black pepper and sriracha … he likes his spice.

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Hummus turned Baked Falafel with Yogurt Dipping Sauce

Not to brag or anything, but this past weekend, Mark and I spent 2 nights in the Adirondacks in this totally cute little cabin on Fourth Lake in Inlet, NY, population 600. We did some hiking, kayaking and grilling… all of our favorite things. And Mark even got a bit of sun which is good since his internship involves working full time in a cubicle financing loans.

I have 8 days of water quality research left… and an abstract to write on my findings (gulp)… summer vacation here I come (finally, well… minus my internship once a week). I’m heading home for a few days once research is over which I’m super excited about.

Ok, bragging aside… Hummus has been on my to make list (kind of like a to-do list of foods) for quite some time. I love hummus, but not necessarily the preservatives or plastic containers it comes in, hence my desire to make my own. Mark and I had this absolutely delicious hummus in Prague when I went to visit him at the end of fall semester this past year (little recap: I was in Australia and he was in Prague, so I flew ½ way around the world to visit him once my trip was over). We got this curried hummus from the BakeShop and I proceeded to make curried veggies with BakeShop bread and hummus and some mushroom cous cous… in the smallest kitchen you’ve ever seen.

It was my goal to attempt a similar hummus. And though mine was a bit smoother, I’d call it a success. I also noticed recently, while perusing recipes for falafel, that falafel is basically just a thickened version of hummus… so tonight I turned my left over hummus into some falafel, which I baked instead of frying Baking them left them a little more burger-shaped and a whole lot less greasy. I know this might not be entirely authentic but it was tasty… and I did warn you of the lack of authenticity.

Hummus

1 cans chick peas, drained and rinsed

½ carrot, grated (or 4-6 baby carrots)

¼ Vidalia onion, diced

¼ red bell pepper, diced

2 teaspoons lemon juice

2 tablespoons olive oil

black pepper, to taste

½ teaspoon red pepper flakes

½ teaspoon ground cumin

½ teaspoon curry powder

Prepare veggies: rinse and drain chickpeas, grate carrot, dice onion and bell pepper. Add veggies to food processor then add remaining ingredients and pulse until smooth.

Baked Falafel with Yogurt Dipping Sauce

makes about 8 falafels

½ of hummus recipe above

4 tablespoons of flour, plus extra for your hands to keep falafel from sticking

½ teaspoon baking powder

¼ cup plain yogurt

½ teaspoon lemon juice

½ teaspoon of cumin

Pita bread (optional)

Lettuce or spinach (optional)

Tomatoes, diced (optional)

Cucumbers, diced (optional, I did not have any)

Cooking spray

Heat oven to 375. Spray cookie sheet with cooking spray. Place hummus in food processor with 4 tablespoons of flour and baking powder. Pulse until well combined.

Coat hands in flour and take about 2 tablespoons of mixture out of food processor and pat/roll into a ball…. It can be sticky so use a fair amount of flour. Place the falafel on the cookie sheet. Then repeat, until all of the mixture has been used… I found it useful to wash and dry my hands then re coat with flour in between rolling each falafel.

Place in oven and cook for about 6 mins, or until bottoms are golden brown. Remove from the oven and flip each falafel with a spatula. Place back in the oven and cook for an additional 6 mins, or until the underside is golden brown. Remove from heat

While the falafel bake, mix together yogurt, lemon juice and cumin. Dice tomatoes and cucumbers and slice open pitas. Fill each pita with lettuce, tomatoes, cucumber and as many falafel as will fit… I had mini pitas so that meant 1. Top with yogurt sauce or use it for dipping.

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Soy Maple Ginger Tofu

Ok, so what I am about to tell you might sound counter-intuitive and time consuming but it is totally worth it. When I was in Burlington the week before last, Mark and I went to August First Bakery and I got a salad topped with the best tofu I’ve ever had… Soy Maple Ginger Tofu. This is my attempt to recreate that tofu for grilling and my own salads and sandwiches.

What I did first was press the tofu…  by pressing the tofu ( I used extra firm) you are squeezing out all of the excess water in the tofu. To keep it fresh it is stored in water in the package and that water seeps in and fills up the pore spaces in the tofu. We want that water out of there so we’re going to squeeze it out, gently. This takes 2-4 hours

So what you’ll need is: 6 sheets of paper towel split into 3 pieces (each piece should have 2 full squares of paper towel), a kitchen towel and a heavy object such as a pot, serving dish, or plate with a few cans on top (about 2 lbs in weight)

So, you lay out your kitchen towel flat and then layer the three pieces of paper towel on top. Then place the tofu in the center, wrap in the paper towel then in the kitchen towel. Place your heavy object on top then let sit for 2-4 hours.

Here is the counter-intuitive part… Once the tofu has been pressed it should be placed in a zip top bag with a marinade and allowed to sit in the fridge overnight. I know, we just squeezed all the liquid out, why are we putting liquid back in? Well, tofu is like a sponge and it is going to suck all of that marinade up and fill in all those pore spaces with the marinade, making it super flavorful. You can marinate it in whatever you’d like but here is the one I used:

Soy-Maple-Ginger Tofu

1 block pressed tofu

¼ cup of soy sauce

¼ cup of maple syrup

½ inch cube of ginger peeled and grated (you can use a few dashed of dried or ground ginger in its place, I buy a big nub of fresh ginger and freeze whatever I’m not going to use)

Place the pressed tofu in a zip top bag with the soy, maple syrup and ginger. Seal the top and shake to coat. I’d recommend putting it on a plate or on a dish before you stick it in the fridge, just in case it leaks. Place in fridge for 2-24 hours, turning the tofu every few hours to allow the marinade to be absorbed evenly (this is not dire, but every time I opened the fridge to get something, I give it a flip). The longer you let the tofu sit, the more flavor it will take on, so I’d recommend the whole 24 hours, by then it has soaked up almost all of the marinade.

You can use the tofu in whatever way you’d like… you  can slice it into ¼ inch slices and grill (spray grill with a bit of cooking spray first) or you can cube it up and put in a salad or sauté cubes in a bit of oil and mix them in with a stir-fry.

The first night I decided to grill some, a few mins on each side, on a medium-low grill. I served it with some grilled corn brushed with bbq sauce… yum. The tofu will keep in the baggie with the marinade for about a week. Enjoy it however you’d like!

If I do say so myself it tasted pretty darn close to the actual from August First, though they might have used a bit more soy.

 

Also check out this rainbow chard I got at the Geneva Farmers Market… I wilted it down with crushed red pepper flakes and put it in an omelet!

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Cous-Soup and Burlington Recap

Cous-soup? it’s a quick, thick soup made with cous cous instead of noodles. It comes together “soup-er” fast… sorry bad pun. In the time it takes the stock to boil, you can prep the ingredients and start sautéing some of the veggies. Then throw the cous cous and veggies in the stock and cook for a few minutes… and presto, delicious soup.

So a little recap. Mark and I made this soup on Thursday night while I was still in Burlington… on Friday, we made French toast with the left over bread from dinner and the left over fruit from a peach blueberry pie that we also made on Thursday. Mark had the day off from work and we were starting on a great adventure of watching his boss’s cats for the holiday weekend. I’m allergic to cats but I sucked it up because his boss has a house on Lake Champlain… it’s only my dream to own a lake house. So we went over to the house, and went kayaking on Lake Champlain where I (probably illegally) harvested some Cambrian age red sandstone. For lunch we went to August First Bakery and got some delicious food… a tofu salad for me and some curried chicken salad for Mark. This is defiantly one of Burlington’s hidden gems. That night we went to the Skinny Pancake… a crepe place on the lake that had live music. The food was good but the crepes were massive… too much for me. Then we watched the sun set over the lake

On Saturday we had breakfast at the Inn at Shelburne Farms. I got a frittata with farm made cheese, turnips, greens, onions, and pea shoots… so good. We wandered around the grounds for a bit, looking at the lake and the gardens.

 

 After some digestion we set out to hike Camel’s Hump, the 3rd tallest peak in Vermont, 4,083ft. Boy was that a good butt toning hike, it was straight up the whole way… no exaggeration… it was like doing the Stairmaster. We lunched at the top and headed back down. We bbq’d for dinner… local veggie burgers, some local sausage for Mark, grilled asparagus, corn and salad.

On Sunday we had a filling breakfast of peach, blueberry, banana pancakes then we went to go see the Intervale Community Garden and walk along the Causeway, which connects a little north of Burlington with Grand Isle. The causeway is a 3 miles long stretch of marble fill that was used to for train transport until the 60’s. Since then, the tracks have been removed and it has been converted into a park. We made burritos and “Mexican dumplings” for dinner… I know Mexican food for the 4th of July? Then we watched the Fireworks from Overlook Park.

 

Sadly, I left around noon on Monday; I was SO not ready to leave. But enough rambling about the copious amounts of food I ate this week and missing Mark, and back to the recipe. You can use pretty much any veggies you’d like but I’d really recommend the broccoli.

Cous-Soup

4 heaping bowls or 6-8 normal bowls

4 cups of low sodium veggie stock

4 cups water

4 tablespoons of olive oil, divided

1 tablespoon crushed red pepper flakes, (half if you don’t like spicy food)

1 box cous cous (or 1 cup uncooked) we used Near East Parmesan and threw in the spice packet as well for some added flavor

1 small head of broccoli, cut into pieces about the size of the top half of your thumb

2 cups mushrooms sliced, we used chanterelles

8 stalks asparagus, woody ends removed, cut into 1 inch pieces

1/2 medium onion, chopped

2 garlic scapes, cut into very small pieces (optional)

Grated cheese for garnish (optional) we used sharp cheddar

Sliced green onions for garnish (optional)

Black pepper

So this is completely optional but I crushed up some red pepper flakes and let them sit in 2 tablespoons of oil for a few hours to infuse the oil with the flavor of the red pepper, hoping to intensify the heat. If you don’t want to do that just add the 2 tablespoons of oil and 1 tablespoon of red pepper flakes into a large pot with the stock and water and onion and bring to a boil. While the stock is heating up, add the other 2 tablespoons of oil to a sauté pan over medium heat, add in garlic scapes and mushrooms, sauté for about 5 mins, until they are soft, stirring occasionally. Once the stock is boiling throw in the cous cous and seasoning packet provided, stir and cook for 1 min. Then toss in the broccoli and asparagus. Cook for 3 mins, stirring occasionally. Then add in the sautéed mushroom and garlic scapes and cook for an additional minute, stirring occasionally. Turn off heat and spoon into bowls. Top with shredded cheese, black pepper and green onions if desired.

We ate our soup with some local 7 grain bread and Vermont Hummus Company roasted red pepper hummus.  We also made a peach and berry pie. I bought a pre-made whole wheat pie crust and filled it with 1 pint of blueberries, 2 peaches sliced and 4 tablespoons each of sugar and corn starch. Bake for 45 mins or so at 375ish… clearly I made this up… the bottom was a bit soggy so I’m going to work on that. I read that if you brush the empty crust with egg whites and then bake for 3-4 mins before filling, it can help prevent a soggy bottomed crust. Though the pie fell apart a bit, it was still delicious. Enjoy!

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