Sunday, August 23, 2009

Quinoa Tabbouleh

Quinoa is one of my favorite grains, mainly due to its fluffy (yet slightly crunchy) consistency , nutty flavor, and fantastic nutritional value. As a vegetarian, I'm always on the lookout for good protein soures. Quinoa has a 12%–18% protein content (compared to ~7% in rice) and has a full set of amino acids. And of course it's full of fiber and a good source of phosphorus, magnesium and iron. Awesome, no? And did I mention it only takes like 15 minutes to cook?
(Thanks, wikipedia, for all those factoids)

So getting on with this recipe: Quinoa Tabbouleh makes for a colorful, light, nutritious, and simple summer meal. I adapted the recipe below from The Kitchn.


1 cup dry quinoa
1 red onion
1 pint cherry tomatoes
2 cloves garlic
1 bunch flat-leaved parsley (about 3 cups, but I'm never very precise)
8 ounces feta
2 ears fresh corn
1/4 cup good extra-virgin olive oil
Juice from 1 lemon (+extra to taste)
salt and pepper to taste

When cooking à l'Emmanuelle, assembly details don't matter so much. So my instructions for this recipe? Cook the quinoa, the rest of the ingredients are raw (yes, even the corn, try it). Cut everything up, add a mixture of lemon juice and olive oil, and toss. Salt and pepper to taste.

You can explore with different ingredients. Try adding mint or basil, cucumber, maybe even some fresh fruit? I added corn to this recipe and thought it added a delightful sweetness to it.

With the entire salad assembled and tossed, the longer you let it sit, the more the flavors evolve and fuse together. I love making a large batch then eating it for lunch all week.


Friday, August 21, 2009

What a difference cinnamon makes: Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

A mini-celebration was in order this Wednesday. In my philosophy PhD program, we have to write a 'qualifying paper' and get a committee to sign off on it. Once this step is accomplished, we are ready to go on to the dissertation phase. On Wednesday, my paper, which includes a foot note thanking Emmanuelle for her help with a translation of French, passed. Clearly, something delicious needed to happen. I decided to bake these oatmeal-chocolate chip cookies.

The key ingredient in these cookies was cinnamon. I followed the Joy of Cooking recipe, but I added some cinnamon to give the cookies the spice of an oatmeal raisin cookie. And what a difference the cinnamon made! It infused the cookies with a warmth that was just delightful. So, lesson learned: when making oatmeal-chocolate chip cookies, don't skip on the cinnamon!

Oatmeal-Chocolate Chip Cookies (adapted from Joy of Cooking)
About forty-eight 3-inch cookies

1 3/4 cup flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 cup (2 sticks) of butter at room temperature
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
2 1/2 tsp vanilla
1 cup chocolate chips
3 1/2 cups old fashioned rolled oats
3/4 cup chopped pecans or walnuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 350. Grease or line 2 cookie sheets. Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. In a different bowl, beat butter, sugar, brown sugar, eggs, and vanilla until well combined. Stir in flour mixture. Stir in chocolate chips and oats.

Shape the dough into general 1 1/2 inch balls, and place about 2 inches apart on baking sheets. Flatten into 1/2 inch disks. Bake 1 sheet at a time, for 12-14 minutes. Let stand briefly and remove to a wire rack.

Note: baking for 13 minutes was just right.

Breakfast REmaKE

This is what I like to eat for breakfast. Every day. Who said breakfast had to be sweet, anyway?


Sesame Ezekiel Bread
Whipped Cream Cheese & herbs*
Cracked Pepper
Sea Salt

*to make whipped cream cheese, add 1 T milk to a brick of cream cheese, cut up some herbs (chives, dill, basil- in this photo I've used rosemary) and whip with a hand beater. So simple! So delicious!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

More fun with the box of squash: Zucchini, Squash, and Basil Soup

As I mentioned in my last post, I recently received a box full of squash and zucchini in the mail courtesy of my father and his garden. I used some of it for a squash, mushroom, marinara penne. I used some more of it for zucchini cupcakes. And I still had about 2 pounds left, i.e. the perfect amount for a soup. To be specific: zucchini, squash, and basil soup.

But, how did I know I had 2 pounds left? Well, I think it is about time you meet my new favorite kitchen acquisition: the scale.

Over the past few months, I keep on having these moments where I wish I had a scale. How many onions equal 2 1/2 pounds? Is this the right amount of crystallized ginger? How much is one serving of penne (I always cook way too much pasta)? And the questions proliferate from here. So I finally decided to buckle down and buy a scale. And I love it! Within the first two days of receiving it in the mail, I used it three times for cooking purposes (and probably 5 or 6 times just for fun). It is one of those purchases that I am going to use all the time and a year from now I will probably think, how ever did I manage without my scale?

Back to the soup. Since I had squash, zucchini, and onion from my father's garden and loads of basil on my porch, I decided to make a zucchini, squash, and basil soup. I was tempted to throw in some tomatoes or potatoes, but in the end I decided I wanted something a bit more 'pure'. And I am so glad I decided to keep it simple. The flavors were elegant, but well-rounded. The color was just beautiful! And it was so easy to make.

As you know, there was Colorado-grown squash and zucchini. And thanks to my kitchen scale, I knew that I had 2 lbs and 2 ounces. Also, since a couple of the squash were bigger, I went ahead and seeded them to try and avoid any bitterness.

My father also included a yellow, white, and red onion in the parcel. So those made it in. And let me tell you, they were so fresh I though I would never stop crying!

Beyond the squash and onion, most of the flavor for this recipe came from 2 ingredients: garlic and basil.

To prepare the soup, saute the onions.

Then add the garlic just before the onions are done. Even when recipes say to add the onions and garlic at the same time, I think that the garlic inevitable burns if you do this. So I have taken to adding the garlic right at the end of the onion-saute step.

Next, pile in the zucchini and squash. And flavor it with salt and pepper.
(How lovely is this color combination?)

Once that gets tender, you add the stock. Bring it to a simmer and simmer for 15 minutes or so.

Add in the basil and let the basil infuse the soup for a couple minutes.

Remove from heat, puree, and you are ready to go!

I garnished it with some small basil leaves and a generous amount of freshly grated parmesan.

Zucchini, Squash, and Basil Soup (adapted from epicurious)

2 Tablespoons butter
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion (I used 3 small)
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 lbs zucchini and sqaush, halved length-wise and thinly sliced
1 tsp salt (plus pinches for seasoning each layer)
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper (plus pinches for seasoning each layer)
3 cups low-sodium chicken stock
1/2 cup julienned basil

Heat butter and olive oil over medium heat. Add onion and saute until onion is transluscent, about 7 minutes. Add garlic and saute for 1 minute. Add zucchini, squash, salt, and pepper. Saute for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add 3 cups stock, bring to a boil, and reduce the heat to low. Simmer, partially covered, for 15 minutes or until the squash is tender. Stir in basil and let that simmer for another minute. Remove from heat and puree. Season to taste.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Zucchini Ginger Cupcakes (aka what you do when your father sends you a box full of zucchini in the mail)

My father is a sensational gardener. And harvest time has come in Colorado. So, how do you get rid of extra zucchini? Send them to your daughter in the mail. That's right, the other day the mail man left a box full of summer squash and zucchini from my father's garden on my door step. And this got me thinking, how many different ways can I use 4 pounds of zucchini? My mind immediately went to zucchini bread. But, I wanted something a little jazzier than a loaf. So I thought, how about zucchini muffins? Epicurious saw those muffins and raised them ginger, cupcake, and cream cheese frosting.

I know, I know. Zucchini cupcakes? Zucchini cupcakes? Well, let me tell you, these cupcakes were absolutely wonderful.

The first bite you think, mmm, this frosting is good. The second bite you think, these cupcakes are pretty tasty. The third bite you think, huh is that orange and ginger? With the fourth, fifth, and final bite when you shove the whole cupcake in your mouth, you are too busy being bowled over by deliciousness to think any more. And even after you are done, the ginger sparkles in your mouth, lingering and reminding you of the whole experience.

The cupcakes were no more complicated than quick bread and the icing took 4 minutes. You could also omit the icing (or keep it) and serve it for breakfast.

For the 'dry ingredients', you use both crystallized and ground ginger to give the cupcakes their wonderful spice. For the crystallized ginger, I pulsed it in my mini-food processor, but you could probably mince it very finely with a knife.

Once the crystallized ginger is ready, mix it with the orange zest and other dry ingredients.
(The orange zest is wonderful in this recipe. It brightens all the other flavors).

For the wet ingredients, grate 2 cups of zucchini. The coarse grates add such lovely color and texture to the cupcakes; they are key. I just pressed hard on my box grater and it did the trick.

Mix in the other wet ingredients. A tip from Mark Bittman: use the same measuring cup for the oil and honey, and measure the oil first. This way, the honey doesn't stick to the sides of the cup. Brilliant!

Add the flour mixture. Stir until just incorporated.

Spoon into liners.

I baked them at 350 degrees for 21 minutes, until the cake tester came out clean.
Let them cool for 10 minutes and remove to a wire rack.

While they were cooling, I whipped up this marvelous cream cheese frosting. I used the measurements form the epicurious recipe, but I borrowed the method from Joy of Cooking.

Mix the cream cheese, butter, and vanilla.

Once that is blended, add 1/2 cup of sifted confectioner's sugar. Joy of Cooking claims that sifting the confectioner's sugar helps give you smooth icing.

Mix that at high speed for 3 minutes or so, until light and fluffy.

Stir in the ginger, cinnamon, and orange zest.
(The flecks of spice are so very pretty)

As soon as the cupcakes are cool, get the frosting assembly line together and frost! I garnished the cupcakes with just a touch of orange zest.

Zucchini Ginger Cupcakes (adapted from
Makes 12 cupcakes

1/3 cup (1 3/4 ounces) crystallized ginger, coarsely chopped
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp grated orange zest
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder (which I completely overlooked!)
2 cups coarsely grated zucchini (2 medium)
1/2 cup olive oil
3/4 cup honey
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 tsp vanilla

For the cream cheese frosting:
8 oz cream cheese, softened
2 tablespoons butter
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup confectioner's sugar, measured and then sifted
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp grated orange zest

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line a muffin pan with paper liners.

Pulse crystallized ginger in food processor until finely ground. Mix crystallized ginger with flour, ground ginger, cinnamon, orange zest, salt baking soda, and baking powder.

In a separate bowl, whisk the zucchini, olive oil, honey, eggs, and vanilla. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. Stir until just incorporated.

Spoon batter into muffin pan. Bake 20-24 minutes until golden brown and a tooth pick comes out clean. Let stand in pan for 10 minutes. Remove to rack and cool for an hour before frosting.

(This diverges from the epicuiorus recipe a bit. I used the measurements from the epicurious recipe, but I let the Joy of Cooking be my guide for the technique). For the frosting, mix the cream cheese, butter, and vanilla until just incoporated. Add the confectioner's sugar and beat on high speed for 3-5 minutes until light and fluffy. Stir in ginger, cinnamon, and zest.

Frost top of cooled cupcakes and, if you want, garnish with a little orange zest (Ina Garten says she always likes to add a little garnish to clue people into what is inside the dish. And, I always like hints of orange.).

Note: even if you omit the baking powder, don't worry, they come out just fine... Oh the problems of reading recipes on-line...

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

La Fête de Julia, Part Trois

No celebration of Julia's perfection would have been complete without dessert, so voila: Peach Crumble.
Since peaches are in season, I wanted to make some sort of warm-bubbly-peach dessert to serve over vanilla ice cream. Given that I don't yet (please, Santa, please!) have a food processor, I thought pie crust or pastry dough would be tough. Though, even if I had one, I probably would still have gone the crumble route.

Let me tell you why:
1.) The crunch
2.) You get to heat butter, flour, sugar, brown sugar, oatmeal, almonds in the oven until they are golden and (did I mention this?) crunchy.
3.) Did I mention you get to have the mixture mentioned in 2.) with warm peaches and slowly melting ice cream.
4) Super easy to make. You almost always have these ingredients on hand. And no worries about whether the finicky pie crust or pastry will come out right.
5.) You can vary the amount of crumble easily, so you can adjust this recipe to fit an individual ramekin or a 13x9 dish for a crowd
6.) And, oh yes... THE CRUNCH

This particular crumble came out great. I made it in a 10 1/2 inch oval gratin. The peach filling was infused with lemon zest and lemon juice, giving it a wonderfully light feel. The topping was crumbly, crunchy, and oozing with peachy goodness (and, yes, I may have added more crumble about five minutes into baking it because how could you ever go wrong with more crumble?). I served it with Haagen-Dazs 'Five' Vanilla Bean. (Emmanuelle, you may be happy to hear that this new product isn't as hard as regular Haagen-Dazs ice cream).

And it was so easy to make.
For the filling:
The lemons: grate and juice a lemon or two.

The peaches: in order to get the skins off, just boil the peaches for a minute or so and the skins will then peel off easily.

Mix the peaches with lemon zest, lemon juice, sugar, and flour. Let that yum up for five minutes.

Meanwhile, for the crumble topping: mix together flour, sugar, brown sugar, and salt. Pulse or cut in butter. Stir in nuts and oats. Work with your hands until it coheres into large crumbles.

Spoon into baking dish and cover (smother?) with crumble.

Bake for 40 minutes, until it is bubbling deliciousness.

Serve warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Peach Crumble* Recipe
I cobbled together this recipe from two Ina Garten recipes: Plum-Raspberry Crumble in Barefoot in Paris and Peach-Blueberry Crumble in Barefoot Contessa at Home. I made half this recipe and used a 10 ½ inch oval gratin.

*Crumbles are also called crisps. Although lots of crisp toppings don't call for oats, which just seems tragic.

For the filling:
2 lbs firm, ripe peaches (6-8)
2 tsp grated lemon zest
2 tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice
1/2 cup granulate sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
(Ina adds 1 cup (1/2 pint) blueberries)

For the crumble top:
1 cup flour
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup light brown sugar packed
1/4 tsp Kosher salt
8 tablespoons (1 stick) cold, unsalted butter, diced
1/2 cup quick-cooking oats
1/2 cup sliced almonds, plus extra for sprinkling


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Immerse peaches in boiling water for 30 second to 1 minute, until skins peel off easily.Place them immediately in cold water. Peel the peaches, slice them into thick wedges, and place them in a large bowl. Add the lemon zest, lemon juice, granulated sugar, and flour. Toss well. (Gently mix in the blueberries). Allow the mixture to sit for 5 minutes. Spoon the mixture into baking dish.

For the topping, place 1 cup of flour, 1/3 cup granulated sugar, brown sugar, and salt in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade and pulse a few times to combine (or just mix together in a bowl if you are using alternative #1 or #2 below). Add the butter and pulse until the butter is the size of peas (alternative #1: mix with a hand mixer, alternative #2: cut butter in with a fork or pastry blender). Pour the mixture into a bowl, add the oats, and work it with your hands until it is in large crumbles. Add 1/2 cup of the almonds and mix well.

Spread the topping evenly over the fruit, making sure the fruit is well-covered. Sprinkle with some extra almonds. Bake for 40 minutes or until the fruit is bubbly and the topping is golden brown. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Notes: next time, I might add a pinch of spice (cinnamon, nutmeg?) to the crumble. And, I think it is always better to error on the side of more peaches than less.

Well, c'est tout pour La Fête de Julia 2009. But let's not despair, plans are already underway for La Fête de Julia 2010. Emmanuelle, I hear you are in negotaitions to be co-hostess.

Until then, here's to Julia, the inspiration she brings, and delicious meals to come! Sante!