Saturday, June 30, 2007

Rainbow Couscous Salad

We haven't photographed anything in a while, but that doesn't mean we haven't been cooking. We brought this very colorful couscous salad to a family barbecue and everyone loved it. We were responsible for bringing a couple vegetarian dishes to a family barbecue last weekend, so we made a great light and creamy cole slaw and this couscous salad that follows. The dish is inpired by a couscous salad I had once at Marvelous Market, a local bakery/cafe chain that's a bit overpriced. We'll be photographing again soon, for now enjoy this light and delicious salad!

1 lb israeli couscous (uncooked)
1 1/2 cups vegetable stock
1/2 cup golden raisins
3/4 cup pesto (basil, or whatever pesto you have on hand, no cheese)
1 red pepper, diced
1/2 red onion, diced
1 cup grape tomatoes, halved

Bring the vegetable stock and raisins to a boil. Once boiling, add the couscous, and simmer, covered for 10 minutes.
Once the couscous is al dente, stir in the pesto, until well combined.
Lastly, stir in the remaining vegetables.
Enjoy warm or cold.

Serves 8.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Blogging By Mail

Apologies for the lack of posts lately, summer excursions have distracted us from our usual 'blog night'. Anyhow, we wanted to take a minute to tell you about a neat blogger event that some of you might be interested in joining. Happy Sorceress Stephanie is hosting the latest Blogging By Mail event called A Few of My Favorite Things. Blogging by mail is kind of like a 'Secret Santa' where someone far away prepares a package of their favorite goodies, while you prepare a package of your favorite goodies to send to someone else. This is our first time joining Blogging By Mail, and we're looking forward to it! If you have a blog, and are interested, by all means, you should check it out, Stephanie is accepting participants through July 5!

Monday, June 11, 2007

Sorrel Pesto with Pasta

Kevin's away on a work trip for a few days, so no photos for a bit. While he's away, I thought I'd post about this really great sorrel pesto I made last week. Kevin was working late, and there was a ton of sorrel to be eaten from our CSA share. Having never cooked with sorrel, we were pleasantly surprised by the citrus tang. I did not have any pine nuts on hand, so I substituted with sliced almonds. The almond gave the pesto a nice nuttiness and worked quite well. We had it with our favorite spaghetti - Trader Joe's Spaghetti Lunghi (the best super long pasta ever!) and it was great. Highly recommended!

4 cups sorrel, ribs removed
2 cloves of garlic
1/3 cup olive oil
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/4 cup sliced almonds
1 pound of dry pasta

Cook the pasta al dente according to the directions, setting aside 1 cup of the pasta water before draining, and returning the drained noodles to the empty cooking pot.
Toast the almonds in a shallow pan for a few minutes, stirring often.
Place sorrel, garlic, almonds, parmesan cheese and olive oil in a food processor. Process until smooth.
Add the pasta water to the pesto and mix until blended. Pour mixture over the pasta and toss to coat well.

Serves 6 to 8.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Campfire Salsa

Since our Tucson trip last month, I'd been dying to make a salsa using a good molcajete (the traditional Mexican mortar and pestle). What better time to make salsa than on a camping trip? You can roast the tomatoes and peppers over the fire and with a molcajete, clean up is a breeze! Just rinse with water, no soap. When buying a molcajete, be sure to choose one of quality, made from lava. The porous rock absorbs flavors and helps to season future salsas and guacamoles. So here's a very simple recipe for salsa that we used on our camping trip. Of course, you could make salsa without a molcajete, but many claim that this tool is essential to getting the correct slightly chunky texture.

vegetable oil
2 jalapeno peppers (use less or more for your heat preference)
2 cloves garlic
4 plum tomatoes
2 tablespoons, finely chopped white onion
1 tbsp cilantro, finely chopped (optional)
salt to taste

special equipment needed:

Lightly coat the peppers and tomatoes with the oil.
Roast the serrano and jalapeno peppers, and tomatoes, turning so that all sides char.
Remove the peppers and tomatoes from heat and remove the skin, using a bowl of cold water. If you desire a less spicy salsa, remove the seeds and white pith from the peppers.
Crush the peppers and garlic together in the molcajete.
Add the tomatoes one at a time and mash until the consistency desired is achieved. Lastly add the onion and cilantro. Mash slightly to mix in.
Serve straight from the molcajete.

Makes about 2 cups of salsa.

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Almost Guiltless Cookies

As mentioned previously, we camping with a bunch of our friends this past weekend. To jumpstart the trip, I thought I'd make some very wholesome cookies. I found this peanut butter banana cookie recipe that used peanut butter instead of oil or shortening, and thought I'd give it a try with some modifications. Seizing the opportunity to experiment, I used carob chips instead of raisins, and I used quinoa flakes instead of the oats. I had never cooked with either ingredient before, but I'm pretty please with the results. The cookie is a moist, not too sweet cakey cookie. The peanut butter and banana taste is definitely there. The quinoa flakes are much smaller than rolled oats, so the flakes sort of disappear into the cookie, while adding a slight nuttiness. Unfortunately, even though I used vegan carob chips, the recipe called for eggs. And while quinoa flakes are typically used for gluten-free diets, the recipe uses whole wheat flour. I guess not being able to call the recipe vegan or gluten free is where my guilt comes in. But while eating it, zero guilt. It's like eating the best energy bar ever.

2 banana, peeled and mashed
1 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup evaporated cane sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
2 eggs, beaten
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup quinoa flakes
1 cup carob chips

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
In a medium bowl, stir together mashed banana, peanut butter, cane sugar and brown sugar until smooth. Mix in the eggs.
Sift together the flour and baking soda.
Add flour and baking soda, mix until just blended, then stir in the quinoa flakes and carob chips until well distrubuted.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place rounded spoonfuls of batter an inch apart on the parchment paper.
Bake for 11 to 13 minutes. These cookies do not brown on the tops, do not overcook.

Makes about 30 cookies.

Saturday, June 2, 2007

Gone camping

Hey the last week's been crazy, so this weekend we'll be letting loose of our urban stress by camping in the Catoctin Mountains. Stay tuned for foods we're taking with us and my latest cooking outdoors experiment!