Wednesday, April 27, 2011


Despite Syracuse being a nice mid-size city I find it lacking sometimes in the retail department.  I won't get into what clothing stores I wish we had (it's better for my wallet this way I suppose), but one store that we're lacking and we really shouldn't be is a Penzey's.  The closest one to us is in Buffalo and although that's not too far, I can't justify a three hour trip for some spices.  My grandparents however, were awesome enough to send me some goodies from there for Christmas.   

I was most excited to receive a bottle of orange extract.  I love fun extracts, they're a great way to jazz up any recipe.  My first foray into non-vanilla extract was with a lemon one.  It didn't take me long to use it up once I realized how great it is to add a hint of lemon to any recipe.  I've had this bottle of orange extract now for a couple of months and have yet to do something outstanding with it.  So, what better way to experiment with new flavors than with cookies, eh?!

I have two cookies to share with you.  The first is not so exciting, but oh so delicious: Chocolate chip cookies with a hint of orange.  I just used the recipe that was on the back of the chocolate chip bag, but substituted the vanilla extract with orange.  It adds just enough orange flavor to the cookie without overwhelming it.

The second cookie I have to share is a little more creative and also delicious.  I wanted to try a different pairing instead of the chocolate-orange combo so I pulled out my handy Flavor Bible to see what else goes well with orange and settled on cardamom. 

I decided to adapt a shortbread recipe that I had used before to fit my needs.  I replaced the lemon zest and extract with orange zest and orange extract and added 2 tsps of ground caradamom. 

I didn't really know how much cardamon to add to make sure that the flavor came through, but also wasn't too overpowering and it seems like 2 tsp was perfect.  Another tsp or so might still be pleasant and not too strong, though. Experiment and see!

These made a great afternoon cookie, perfect to eat with a nice cup of tea.


Friday, April 15, 2011

Eggs Bhona

I should probably just become the official spokesperson for Mark Bittman and all of his cookbooks because today I have another recipe from one of them to share with you.  It's not that his recipes are out of this world amazing that cause us to almost always look through his cookbooks first; but it's the fact that the recipes are almost always successful.  That and they make a great base recipe that you can expand and grow into something that makes your mouth water.

Some of you may know that I've left my "9-5" job to pursue some of my other passions and in doing so I've found I have a lot more free time on my hands, especially in the mornings.  It's great because breakfast is my favorite meal of the day and having to rush out the door at 6:30am meant I usually ended up at McDonalds (I know ick).  Now I have the time to make delicious cooked breakfasts and enjoy them with a fresh brewed, hot cup of coffee while my little cats run around playfully and the sun shines through the window (this is how I'm imagining it in my head because in reality the cat's are being terrors and 99% of the time it's raining here).

So... my recent breakfast of choice comes from Mark Bittmans Kitchen Express.  I think i've mentioned this before but this book is great because it's arranged seasonally and I can finally flip to the spring section!  Yay!  One of the first recipes in that section is for Eggs Bhona, which according to Mr. Bittman is a Bangladeshi take on eggs.  It's delish. It's full of protein, veggies, and a little spicy hotness to make sure you're wide awake.  AND it's fast, easy, and cheap, which are always important factors when making a meal.

Eggs Bhona
  • Eggs (however many you want.  Recipe calls for 8, we make 6)
  • Onion
  • Green pepper
  • Clove of garlic
  • Tumeric
  • Ground ginger
  • Red chili flakes
  • Salt
  • Bay leaf
  • Tomato Paste

Put a pot of water on the stove to boil.  Once it starts boiling add your eggs and let cook for 6 minutes (or less if you like runny yolks).

While your eggs cook chop up an onion and green pepper and saute them in a large pan with some olive oil.

Once they're softened add all the spices to your tastes.  I did a tsp of turmeric, ginger, salt, and a 1/2 tsp of chili flakes.  Also add the tomato paste and a cup of boiling water. 

At this point your eggs should be done, shell them and add them to the pan.  Cover and let cook for 5 minutes.  Voila!  This would be great served with some french bread.

Enjoy :)

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Ways to eat wimpies when you are a wimp -- A post by Steve

Who doesn't love wimpies, more commonly known as sloppy joes? Unfortunately, upon seeing the commercials in Manwich's recently derided ad campaign "It's Called a Manwich" ( I realized that I am not manly enough for the everyday sloppy joe. Plus, manwich is way sweet and kinda gross (

So, instead of making sloppyman musclesjoes, I must satisfy myself with wimpy tempeh wimpies:

Typically, to make these sandwiches, I mix up about a cup of barbecue sauce before hand. Just start with half a cup of ketchup, and then throw in whatever else you want:  cayenne pepper, red wine vinegar, red wine, white wine, dijon mustard, black pepper, Worstershire sauce, stuff that tastes good.

Dice up your block of tempeh real small, throw it in the mix, and let it sit around for a while (15-20 minutes?). Get a pan hot, put a lil olive oil down, and then I forget the rest.

Good luck!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Gingerbread Cake

Every time I go to a bookstore I plead with Steve to let me buy the latest issue of Cooks Illustrated, but at 6 bucks a pop it's a pricey magazine and usually I get "SIGH if you must" and so with a heavy hand I return the magazine to the rack.  Last week though I was having none of that when I saw that the February edition had entries on chili, pizza, spanakopita, and keys to perfect cookies.

It also featured an article on gingerbread cake, but it was something I had glanced over.  I'm of the school of thought that gingerbread is a Christmas good, not something to be made in February, the month of chocolate chocolate chocolate and so had Steve not said something about it I never would have given it a chance.

Now Steve is not a sweet loving kind of guy, 99% of the time he'll take savory over sweet, but he begged me to make the gingerbread cake and I'm not one to say no to dessert even if it is out of place.  And so I woke up this morning and made the most. amazing. gingerbread cake. EVER.

The gingerbread is jam packed with spice, ginger, cinnamon, even black pepper, and they come together to create a wonderful mouth full of fluffy delicious cake.

I strongly urge everyone to check out the issue of Cook's Illustrated because they give a great explanation of how they got to the final recipe and it's really interesting.


Monday, January 31, 2011

Pancakes & Soup?!

Despite a lack of posts lately, Steve and I have been cooking up some yummy meals in the kitchen.  They've been tasty, just not too original, a lot of the time it's just good old standby recipes.  In the last week though we've gotten THREE new cookbooks and they've inspired us to explore more recipes and try some new things.  Technically we only have one of the three here now, but the other two will be here tomorrow (if the truck can plow through the snow) and I can't wait.

The cookbook that I got last week is great. I've only had it for a few days and I've already read through the whole thing ( yes I read cookbooks).  It's Heart of the Artichoke and Other Kitchen Journeys by David Tanis.  I love the rustic feel about it.  It's much different than a lot of the cookbooks that are out there today that focus on molecular gastronomy.  This is all about sitting around the table with family and friends and eating delicious, whole foods.

Tonight we made one of the recipes from that book (and hopefully I'll have more to post in the future).  Just a simple recipe but pretty good, Jalapeno Pancakes.  We served it with a side of Cauliflower and Leek Soup from a recipe I found on the blog Green Kitchen Stories.  Soup and pancakes?! Why not.  It was delicious, warm, and filling; perfect for a super chilly night like this evening. 

Cauliflower and Leek Soup from Green Kitchen Stories
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, mashed
  • 1 pinch of chili powder
  • 1 cauliflower
  • 2 leeks
  • 4 cups (1 l) water - I used vegetable broth
  • 1/2 to 1 lemon, depends on the taste (juice and peel)
  • fresh thyme
  • sea salt & pepper
  • roasted almonds (roughly sliced)
  • Dollop of sour cream
Add olive oil to a pot over medium-high heat. Stir in the onion, garlic and chili and cook until the onions soften. Add cauliflower and leek and let it fry for a couple of minutes. Add water and let it boil and then lower the heat and let it simmer until the vegetables are soften. Pour half of the water into a bowl and set aside. Use a hand blender to puree the soup. Stir in lemon juice and peel, thyme, salt and pepper. If the soup is to thick add some of the water.  I didn't remove any of the broth which is why mine came out more brothy than the recipe posted, I still thought it was very tasty though.
Pour into bowls or cups and serve with fresh thyme, lemon peel or juice and roasted almonds.

Jalapeno Pancakes from Heart of the Artichoke and Other Kitchen Journeys by David Tanis
  • 1 cup all -purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 Tbsp melted butter or olive oil
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced onion or scallion
  • 1 or 2 jalapeno chiles, sliced thin
  • 1/2 tsp toasted coarsely ground cumin

Mix up the batter, and stir in the onion, jalapenos, and cumin. Heat up the griddle, and make your pancakes.

 Enjoy :)