Friday, March 23, 2007

Cookbook rec., some recipes and more...

I've been asked recently by a few people how I figure out the substitutions I use when cooking, especially in baking. A lot of it is trial and error, comparing recipes and just making things up. In general:
3 T applesauce = 1 egg
1/2 banana = 1 egg
1.5 c flax = 0.5 c fat (be careful with this - if you are substituting flax you need to increase the liquid you put into the recipe)
0.5 c turbinado sugar = 1 c regular sugar*
0.5 c agave nectar = 1 c regular sugar*

*I tend to make things not too sweet, so if you like really sweet desserts then increase the ratio

New cookbook:
I just got Heidi Swanson's new cookbook, Super Natural Cooking. It is divided into 5 chapters that have a lot of information about the ingredients. The baking section also has a lot of detail about substitutions and a recipe for thin mints. Seriously. I can't wait to make those. You can find a lot of her recipes, some of which are in the book, on her site, 101 cookbooks.

Since it is spring (hoorah!) I've been making a lot of salads and baking things that are light, and well, springy.

I love all things lemon, so I tried these lemon cupcakes. I used white whole wheat flour, unsweetened applesauce instead of the butter, made fake buttermilk by removing 1 T of soy milk out of 1 cup and adding in 1 T apple cider vinegar (do this first and let it sit - it will curdle), and used the zest of 1 lemon instead of lemon extract. The taste? Delicious.

Apparently I am not a subtle cook when it comes to the use of garlic, but a quick and delicious salad to make is a white bean salad w/red wine vinegar. Chop up 1 shallot and 1 clove of garlic (I used 2, hence the lack of refinement), put that in a bowl and add 3 T red wine vinegar, 2 15 oz cans of beans (I used white beans, but chickpeas would be good too), 3 T olive oil and some chopped parsley. Done.

The best thing I've made all week was probably a salad out of one of Dreena Burton's books. It is a really simple whole grain salad that can easily be a meal in and of itself. Basically, you need 3 cups of cooked quinoa (I used a mix of orzo, quinoa and tiny chickpeas I found at Trader Joe's), chop up some veggies (I used cucumbers and bell pepper), add some fresh herbs like basil and/or parsley (I used both), and top with your favorite light dressing. Anthony said that next time we should try to make it into a gazpacho salad, which I think is a great idea.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Apparently I like tempeh...

I had previously hated tempeh. I had it for the first time a few years ago and thought it was pretty awful, but kept trying it every once and a while to give it another chance. When I was grocery shopping last week I wanted to try something we didn't eat often, and was pretty sick of tofu, seitan and faux meats, so I picked up a package of tempeh and thought I'd give it a try.

Here's the thing. I really liked it. Or maybe I just really liked the way I made it - cooked in a marinade of garlic, olive oil, coriander, cilantro, cumin and paprika. The marinade, called charmoula, is a standard Moroccan marinade for fish. The recipe I used as a base was from Fresh Food Fast and the suggestion was to pair it with a vegetable couscous with different kinds of greens. Instead, I made a simple couscous by sauteeing a chopped red onion in some olive oil, adding 1 cup of water, letting it come to a boil and then pouring in 1 cup of dry couscous and letting it sit, off heat and covered, for 5 minutes. I also cooked up some broccoli and that was it. This is possibly one of the easiest meals I've made in a while.

Charmoula baked tempeh (adapted from Fresh Food Fast)
1 1/4 c water
1/2 c olive oil
2 t sweet paprika
2 t cumin
2 t coriander
4 cloves garlic, chopped
8 oz tempeh

1. Whisk the water, olive oil, spices and garlic in a bowl until thoroughly combined
2. Cut the tempeh into strips and place in a sautee pan
3. Pour the marinade over the tempeh and over medium heat let it come to a boil
4. Lower heat and cover, letting the marinade simmer
5. Continue cooking until the marinade is absorbed (add more water if it looks dried out)

Friday, March 02, 2007

So... it's been a while... again

So much for my attempt to blog more regularly... Things have been really busy and as a way of dealing with the stress of MCAT studying I've been baking like crazy. This has been both good and bad - it is pretty nice to come home to a tin full of cookies, but some of my experiments at making things healthier have not come out so well. Our oven has also become really frustrating, with random temperature fluctuations one day and normal temperatures the next.

Instead of posting more recipes today, I figured I'd link to some I've tried recently and also mention some products I got recently that I love.

Double chocolate chip cookies:
This is a recipe I love and make often, and is really similar to this one from the PPK. The one from the PPK makes almost three times as many cookies, which is really the major difference. Taste wise they are pretty much the same (if you add in the optional almond extract and almonds to the PPK one). When I made the PPK version I cut down the sugar by half and would also suggest cutting down the chocolate chips by half. I put in 2/3 cup and I think even that was too much.

Polenta casserole with faux sausage:
I've mentioned this recipe before, but I wanted to bring it up again because it is seriously a really really easy meal to prepare. All you need is polenta, tomato sauce and some fake (or real) Italian sausage. The original version includes making your own sauce, but if you are short on time you can make it a lot simpler by using your favorite premade sauce. Basically, make some polenta, put it into a baking dish, top it with sauce, diced sausage and cheese, and stick it under a broiler for a few minutes. Done.

Product recs:

I love these chocolate chips. They taste great in cookies and also do well if you need to melt some chocolate for something like a chocolate tofu pie.

I've been doing most of our grocery shopping at Trader Joe's recently. I've been trying some of their new products and some of the things I've liked most are:
Curry Noodles, which are great for stir fries and I bet would be phenomenal in noodle patties.
European Style Yogurt, which is a lowfat yogurt that comes in chocolate or green tea. The green tea one is still unopened in the fridge, but the chocolate one is great.

Hopefully next week I'll post a real recipe - I've got a bunch of apples out on the counter and the only one who really seems interested in them is our dog. I need to figure out what to do with them other than make more applesauce.