Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Persimmon Applesauce Spice Cake with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting

Hi friends! My oh my has life been a bowl full of crazy since last I wrote. First of all, I started business school in August and time has absolutely flown by. For a few months my cooking routine was practically non-existent. I blame Accounting. But it's still fall, which is the January in fashion, and therefore the January of food. So I'm starting anew. You'll probably see more iPhone photography and quickfire recipes since school is changing the way we cook and eat in the house. But I'm not giving up...yet...who knows what the future holds, especially when Finance class rolls around. 

Foodwise, I'm still part of the produce co-op which has proven to be a lifesaver. With less time to shop, we always have a fridge packed full of greens and wonderful seasonal goodies. In last Saturday's pick-up I got a whole slew of apples and a persimmon. What's a persimmon you ask? Well it's as if an apple, a tomato and a potato had a threesome, and a baby. It would be a persimmon. 

Okay, so here's my sweet, autumnal offering for you. Enjoy!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Zucchini Lemon Cookies

Oh hi! Did you miss me? No? Well okay, I still have cookies for you to look at and long with desire. I hope zucchinis are still in season so you can go buy some and make these cookies. I figured after a two month drought (weather-wise and blog-post-update-wise) I'd treat you to some sweets. But they're sweets with vegetables, so they're healthy and stuff. Let's get started!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Strawberry Clafouti

Leo: "Did you pack some of that strawberry stuff away for work tomorrow or did you really eat half of it?"
Me: "Mmmmm, yes?"

As it turns out I did eat half of the clafouti (I really like this word). But it was between the hours of 6 and 11 p.m.. A sliver here, a slice there. No. Big. Deal. You can munch on a slice in your hand while you're reading. Or watching Colbert. Or even in bed. It's a very portable food. But also so delicious and light and fluffy and creamy. And can I tell you how crazy easy this is to make, and that you probably have everything you need already. If you don't have strawberries, try pears or apricots or apples or blackberries or cherries. You get the idea. It's versatile. So let's go!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Classic Hummus

I know you won't believe me when I tell you this, but this was the first time in my life I've made hummus, without my mom's help. I should have my Lebanese heritage membership card revoked! Don't tell the consulate, or ambassador, or whoever's in charge. And also don't believe what anyone tells you, hummus is Lebanese! It's not Israeli, no sir. But nice try.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Pesto and the Perfect Baked Potato



























One of my favorite things about where I work is that everyone loves food. We love to eat food, talk about food, share food. Foodie food food. That word looks really weird after I type it so many times. Anyhoo, a woman I work with has a basil tree in her backyard and was generous enough to give me like a pound of it. After eating tomato basil mozzarella sandwiches for three days in a row I decided to use the rest of it to make a pesto sauce. I'd never made pesto before. And it's so incredibly easy to do. I intended to eat some with baked potatoes, and save the rest for a pasta. However the husband and I sat in front of the television, eating potatoes and pesto, one after the other, until it was all gone. As usual I really didn't use measurements, and neither should you. I think it's impossible to mess up.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Rhubarb Slush


I think the best part about belonging to a co-op is the element of surprise. The other best part is figuring out what to make with all of the food, especially things I'd never used before. Like rhubarb. If I was a farm maiden with all the time in the world (it's true that farm maidens do just idle around looking pretty, right?) then I'd make a lovely rhubarb pie. However a farm maiden I am not. So I needed something quick to make. And Leo was like, "Duh, add vodka to it." And so we did. Actually he made these, I just photographed. 

When Leo was 17 years old, he came to the U.S. as an exchange student and was placed in a small town in South Dakota named Selby (population 700). So small in fact that just because he played soccer in Brazil growing up, he was assumed to be talented on the football field as well, and was thus made field goal kicker. Leo. A football player. Yes, this happened. Anyway, there is a point to all this, I swear. Ah yes, the rhubarb slush! Well during our last visit to see his host family, we were fed copious amounts of house-smoke meats (the best I've ever had), and these deliciously refreshing rhubarb slushes. They are the perfect accompaniment to a family picnic or poolside barbecue. Just keep them virgin for the tots.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Cauliflower Steak with Quinoa











Dear Quinoa,

I'm Nicole. Hello. It's a pleasure to meet you. I can't believe it's taken me this long to try you out. I passed you in the bulk section of the supermarket, but was alas distracted by the candy two steps away. I also thought you were for hippies and thought I wouldn't like hippie food. But it turns out I love hippie food! And for one meal I can say "I'm vegan" which sounds really cool and pretentious and stuff. I look forward to our future culinary adventures together.

Yours always,
Nicole

Friday, June 3, 2011

Whole Wheat Banana Pancakes with Caramel Banana Syrup



























How was your week, friends? And what are your plans for the weekend? I plan to watch a lot of tennis
and stay out of the sun. Perhaps do some reading and some cooking. This pancake post has been in the can all week, as I made them last Sunday for my sweet Leo. He loves bananas and all things banana. As do I.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Spaghetti with Sardines, Parsley and Fried Capers

I'm a hardcore sardine enthusiast. I eat them a lot in the warmer months, as eating them doesn't involve turning a stove on. Or I eat them in front of the television right out of the tin, with triskets and whole grain mustard and a glass of wine. Oh and with tiny pickles. Or I eat them at work, on a bench outside, with a book. Or with a friend. Sardines are also good for sharing. They're also good for your prostate if you have one of those. I don't. But I still eat them. I hear they are packed with omega 3s. 

The other day I had lunch at the wonderful Jimmy's Food Store, in Dallas. While I was waiting for my Cuban, I roamed the store and you'll never guess what I found. Yes, sardines. Only when I got home and put them away did I notice the "con peperoncino" on the package. Oh no. I was too afraid to chance eating these straight and decided that incorporating them into a dish would be best. 

Oh, and P.S. this dish cost two dollars to make (assuming you already have a few of the staples in your pantry ~ capers, bread crumbs and spaghetti, olive oil). And it takes less than 15 minutes to prepare. I halved the recipe because I only had one tin of sardines, double if you're making this for four people.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Dulce de Leche Brownies with Browned Butter & Sea Salt

What happens when one of the most raddest girls you know moves to San Francisco and tells you she has one last magical night to spend with you? You drink a bottle of wine and bake of course! And that is what we did. These came together rather serendipitously as I didn't quite have all of the ingredients for the intended brownies and we threw a few things together and it worked. Oh did it work. It worked out to gooey, chocolate all over your face, hands and white pants perfection. And yes, they really are almost black, that is not the lighting. Also these are very fudgey. So if you like your brownies fluffy and cake-y, these aren't for you. I'll miss you Naomi!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Strawberry Salad

I've already made and devoured this salad four times this week. And I'm proud to say that it's made completely of local, organic produce from my Urban Acres co-op bin. The recipe I'm going to give you is really just a suggestion. I assemble the salads individually so it's all guestimated. And seriously, strawberries and celery are the perfect match. Who knew? Oh and eat this with that pasta with peas, cream & mint. Muah!

Ingredients
Romaine lettuce
2-3 strawberries per person, chopped
1/2-1 celery stalk per person, sliced
Olive oil
Balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions
Toss. Wow, that was hard.

Pasta with Ham, Snap Peas, Mint & Cream

Spring is in the air. Well actually the air feels like wet cheesecloth wrapped around your face, but whatever. Spring food is on the table, that's what I meant to say. This is a double post because a) these two dishes compliment each other perfectly and b) I need to catch up on my postings. 


Ingredients
4 clove garlic, minced
Olive oil
1/3-1/2 lb. Black Forest ham, cut thick (it's basically one slab of ham), diced
4 shallots minced
1 pint heavy cream
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
1 bag frozen peas in pods, chopped in 1/3s*
1/2 cup fresh mint, chopped
salt and pepper
3/4 pound farfalle, cooked al dente

Directions
  1. In a heavy skillet or saucepan, heat a few swirls of olive oil over medium heat and stir in garlic just until it begins to color.
  2. Add chunks of ham and cook for another 3-4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Watch the salt, as ham is already rather salty.
  3. Bring the pasta to a boil but try to time it just right so it finishes as the sauce finishes
  4. With 2-3 minutes left on the sauce, add the peas and cook for 1-2 minutes. With one minute remaining add the cream, bring it to a boil, add cheese and reduce heat to low (don't stop stirring!)
  5. Toss the pasta with sauce, sprinkle liberally with mint, pepper and extra parmesan.
*Jaime Oliver says frozen peas are fresher than fresh peas (as they are picked and frozen immediately), however they don't have the same crunch. Still delicious though. And cheap! I think this entire meal cost $7 and lasted for days.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Slow's BBQ ~ Detroit, Michigan

Sweet Tea
Mac 'n Cheese
The Reason
An array of house sauces. The apple is my favorite.
In Texas there are hundreds of solid barbecue joints. To be honest I'm not even that big a fan of barbecue and probably eat it once or twice a year (blasphemy!). However, Detroit has a place that could definitely compete with the best in Texas. It's called Slow's. And I know, it's been around since before I moved out of Michigan six years ago. There's really no sense in me talking about it to anyone in Detroit because everyone knows about it and loves it. You can't go there without expecting to wait two hours to be seated. Unless you go on a random Tuesday afternoon at 3 when most people are at work. But even then it was mostly filled. Enough jabbering, here are my photos.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Tuna Tonnato & Eggplant Salad

Happy Monday! I'm in an especially good mood as the weather this morning is 60 degrees and sunny. And it's May. In Dallas! I even rode my bicycle in to work which I really don't do often enough.

This past Saturday I celebrated my first hippie Christmas (as my husband calls it). This is what he refers to as the day we get our veggie bin from Urban Acres Market. I was so excited all week to see what I'd get in our first batch of goodies. So excited in fact that I woke up at 8 a.m. on Saturday morning, brushed my teeth and headed out to my pick-up location. But oh, they don't open til 9:30. So I spent a lovely hour drinking coffee, eating a big fat almond croissant and perusing the latest FD Luxe.

When I got home I immediately began tearing through the bin. Lettuce, cabbage, swiss chard, sweet potatoes, oranges, onions, strawberries, carrots....and eggplant. Eggplant? I've never made a single thing with eggplant in my life. After a few minutes of research on Epicurious I found this recipe for Tuna Tonnato & Eggplant Salad. And luckily it called for everything I already had on hand.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Leopold's ~ Detroit, Michigan



























I know this isn't a food post, but I just had to share some photos from this fantastic art book shop in downtown Detroit called Leopold's. If you would have asked me when I was in college what my dream job would have been, I would have said to own a tiny independent book shop. Real narrow and dark with books piled high. And lots of ladders to swing to and fro from. Well Leopold's is way cooler than my imaginary dream bookstore. And on top of it, look at this handsome fellow who just happened to walk into my photo! I kid, I sort of stalked him. That's also his bicycle.

Girl Next Door Mushroom Risotto

I would be lying if I didn't say that reading Eating Animals hasn't affected me. The only problem is that lately I've been a slow reader. And so as a result, I've been kind of a flip flopper on the whole topic. Vegetarian one day, shoving ham in my face the next. Suffocated by the guilt of eating cute little fuzzy creatures one minute, planning to make roasted chicken with artichokes and white wine the next. Who am I? I don't know. I'm trying to ween myself off meat perhaps by just eating it a couple times a week. And on one of my successful vegetarian days I made this lovely mushroom risotto. The reason I call it girl next door is because I use, as you can see here, plain 'ol button mushrooms that I had left over in the fridge. No wild porcinis or morels or chanterelles here. I ate a big bowl of this with a side arugula salad with tomatoes and parmesan and a light dijon sherry vinegarette dressing. So I dedicate this recipe to you, my sweet angel, Marissa, who's encouraged me to include more vegetarian dishes to the blog. I love you!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Croque Monsieur


Patios, martinis, telling secrets, sunshine and general horsing around is again to blame for a lack of diligent food posting. Not to mention all of the wild world news of this past week. The Royal Wedding already feels like decades ago. I didn't wake up at 4 a.m. to have tea and crumpets and watch the wedding, however my friend and I taped it and watched it while eating croque monsieurs and inventing martinis. And P.S. basil martinis are fantastic! Crush some fresh basil, let it sit and infuse in vodka, add a splash of lemon, a spoonful of sugar, shake, shake and shake over ice and enjoy. So back to this sandwich. My favorite sandwich in the world!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Good Girls Go To Paris Crepes ~ Detroit, Michigan

If you need any more convincing that Detroit is the Paris of the Midwest, look no further than Good Girls Go to Paris Crepes. My little brother and I did some gallivanting downtown while I was home. He wanted to show me some of the new spots that were popping up, namely in the cultural district near his school, Wayne State University. {He's a recent PhD admit to their Literature and Cultural Studies program}. The moment we walked in I died. I died of adorableness overload. This place is cuter than the crepe cafes I'd been to in Paris! Fact. Maybe it's because red is my favorite color (second to black). I truly couldn't contain my excitement and immediately began photographing everything and everyone. Sorry, Vinny, I know I embarrassed you. Love you! 

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Lemon Layer Cake

I just returned from a relaxing five day trip home to Detroit, Michigan. Okay I lied, I got home Tuesday night and spent the last two nights catching up on Gossip Girl and Real Housewives. Don't judge. But here I am now. I'm all yours. And with this delectable cake to share. Bake it for Mother's Day, your best friend's birthday or any random Tuesday. It's a beautiful and scrumptious cake that's perfect for spring. I won't lie, it's kind of a lot of work. But it's really worth it. Not to mention it's so big you can eat it for every meal for like four days straight. Which is definitely what my mom and I did.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Middle Eastern Spaghetti


Sorry for the lack of posting lately. The past week has been full of happy hours, hamburgers, secondhand cigarette smoke, mussels, laughing, 25 cent margaritas (mistake), sunshine and beautiful friends. All of this has left little time for cooking. Now that my arteries are clogged and my lungs are ashen, I thought it time to make some comfort food. And spaghetti has been on my mind all week.





Monday, April 11, 2011

Vegetarian Stuffed Swiss Chard Leaves

When I think of making food with my Teta, this is what I remember. Sitting on the ground for hours (or what seemed) picking through grape leaves. Oh and the rolling. She taught me how to roll the tightest, most perfect grape leaves. Nothing like the sloppy, fat, loose "dolmas" you find at the markets or faux Middle Eastern restaurants. Yes, I am a snob. I learned from the best, what can I say. 

She always used fresh leaves. So fresh that she would wander around the wooded area of our neighborhood and pick them herself. (Oh trees, how I miss you). She even got stopped by a cop, which was hilarious to me since she doesn't speak a lick of English. Although just a couple weeks ago she learned how to ask "Where baby?"



Friday, April 8, 2011

Mediterranean Dumplings with Yogurt & Mint Sauce

This is a dish that you will never find in a Middle Eastern restaurant. It's very special, and very rare to find in recipe form. My Teta ("Grandma" in arabic) didn't make it all that often, so it was a real treat when she did. This is one of those recipes that has been handed down from generation to generation, lost in translation somewhere between my Lebanese Grandmother and American mother, altered between greasy index card to greasy computer print out (wait, is that what that's called?)...tested by me, added to my iPad recipe app...and now to you! And you will probably never make this because it takes a bajillion hours. BUT I promise it will be one of your favorite things you will ever eat. I can just imagine how my Teta felt when I told her this was my favorite thing to eat, and that I wanted to come home to it for every break from college. I love you! (Even though you don't speak English or read this blog, or know what a blog is). 

I will provide you with as many shortcuts as possible along the way. And I recommend making these with a best friend, a bottle of wine and your favorite tunes playing softly in the background. I, however, made these alone, in my kitchen, listening to Fresh Air, but of course with a bottle of wine.

What is your favorite meal your Teta makes?

Monday, April 4, 2011