Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Seeded Edamame Burgers with Brown Rice and Apples

I'm still settling into my new house, so I'm sharing another recipe from the archives. I haven't had time to embark on any complicated culinary adventures or fully replenish the pantry, so I've only been cooking up some simple (though still flavorful and nutritious) dishes in my much-improved kitchen. While I can't wait to make the most of my gas stove and ample cooking space, it's going to have to wait a little bit longer.

I tried out this recipe back in the midst of my veggie burger obsession, though I was reluctant to share it because it was the least structurally sound of the veggie burgers I tried. A little finesse was required to carefully flip the burgers and keep them from falling apart (still pressing them back together a little bit), but I plan on adding egg (since I'm not vegan) in the future to help alleviate this problem. The flavors are clean and fresh with the nuts, seeds, and beans making the burger more than amply filling and are equally appropriate on a hamburger bun, pita, or bed of salad greens. Although they can definitely use a little work in the structure department, the flavors of this veggie burger make the bit of time investment and care it takes to turn out a batch, an ideal lunch in the dog days of summer.

Seeded Edamame Burgers with Brown Rice and Apples
from Veggie Burgers Every Which Way by Lukas Volger
makes six 4-inch burgers

2 tablespoons hulled raw sunflower seeds
1 tablespoon raw sesame seeds
1 cup frozen shelled edamame
2 1/2 tablespoons ground flaxseeds (1 tablespoon whole seeds)
1 apple, peeled, cored, and finely chopped
2 tablespoons brown (or white) rice flour
1 tablespoon molasses
2 teaspoons soy sauce or tamari
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
A few grinds of black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil

1. In a dry skillet, toast the sunflower seeds over medium-low heat until lightly browned and fragrant, about 5 minutes, swirling the pan periodically. Transfer to a heat-proof plate. In the same pan, toast the sesame seeds until golden brown, no more than 2 minutes, swirling or stirring constantly to avoid overcooking and uneven browning. Transfer to the plate with the sunflower seeds.

2. Meanwhile, cook the edamame according to package directions. Transfer the beans to an ice bath to halt the cooking.

3. Whisk together the ground flax and 3 tablespoons water. Transfer to a food processor and add the toasted seeds and edamame. Pulse 10 to 15 times, just until the the mixture is evenly chunky.

4. In a mixing bowl, combine the edamame-seed mixture with the rice, apple, flour, molasses, soy sauce, sesame oil, and black pepper. The mixture should be moist and sticky. Adjust seasonings. Shape into 6 patties, flattening to a 1/2-inch thickness.

5. In a saute pan, heat the oil over high heat. When hot, add the patties, in batches if necessary to avoid crowding, cooking for 2 minutes. They should sizzle-this will create a nice crust. Reduce the heat to medium and cook for 2 or 3 minutes more. Carefully flip the burgers and cook until browned and firm, 4 to 5 minutes longer.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Mom's Nutty Granola

Yogurt with granola is one of the staples of my breakfast routine, appearing on my table usually twice a week. While there are countless excellent commercial granolas, I prefer experimenting with my own when I have time, saving money and creating whatever flavor profile I'm in the mood for. This is another recipe that's been lingering in the to-be-published list, but it's probably my favorite granola that I've ever made. A generous helping of varied nuts and seeds (customizable to whatever you may like) and oats are coated in a just-sweet-enough coating of honey and oil, each crunchy bite punctuated by juicy raisins. I only enjoyed this atop a bowl of plain yogurt for breakfast, but it also could certainly have a place at dessert sprinkled generously over vanilla ice cream. The perfect combination sweet and salty, crunchy and tender, this granola (or some variation thereof) will forever have a place in my heart and pantry.

Mom's Nutty Granola
makes about 7 cups
from Food and Wine

3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1/2 cup unsalted roasted peanuts
1/2 cup unsalted roasted almonds
1/2 cup unsalted roasted pumpkin seeds
1/2 cup unsalted roasted sunflower seeds
1/4 cup wheat germ
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon hot water
3/4 cup honey
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup raisins

1. Preheat the oven to 325°. In a bowl, toss the oats, nuts, seeds and wheat germ. In a small bowl, dissolve the salt in the hot water. Whisk in the honey and oil. Stir the liquid into the nuts to coat thoroughly, then spread on a large rimmed baking sheet.

2. Bake the granola in the center of the oven for 40 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes, until nearly dry. Turn off the oven and prop the door open halfway; let the granola cool in the oven, stirring. Toss the granola with the raisins; store in an airtight container for up to 3 weeks.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Banana Sunflower Seed Cookies

Because I'm packing up to move, I've been forced to dig in the archives for recipes to share. I'm being as culinarily creative as I can with most of my cooking equipment packed away, but there's been no baking for a while as that was some of the first kitchen stuff to be packed. That being said, I can't believe that I've let these simple, tasty little cookies linger in the to-be-published list for so long! The batter takes just minutes to prepare, rewarding you with little banana bread-esque pillows of deliciousness. There's enough sweetness to be appropriate for a light dessert, but these are definitely healthy enough to be breakfast on the go. Whole wheat pastry flour keeps these cookies incredibly light and tender with a generous helping of salty, crunchy sunflower seeds making them a filling, wholesome snack. The next time you have some very ripe bananas that you don't want to throw away, give this recipe a try. Not only will it save some bananas from the trash, but you'll end up with a tasty, crowd-pleasing snack with just a small time investment.

Banana Sunflower Seed Cookies
from Bob's Red Mill
makes about 3 dozen

2 very ripe medium bananas
1/2 cup canola oil
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 cup sunflower seeds, roasted and salted
1 tsp baking soda

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Peel and mash bananas. In large bowl, beat oil, bananas and sugar. Mix flour with sunflower seeds and soda. Add dry ingredients to banana mixture and stir until thoroughly mixed.

2. Drop dough by rounded tablespoons about 2 inches apart onto ungreased cookie sheet. Bake about 15 minutes, until edges are golden brown. Makes about 3 dozen cookies.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Ramp and Barley Soup

This is my absolute last ramp recipe of the year. I was working with the scrappy ends of what was available, so much so that they didn't even come with the greens, but this simple soup was delicious nonetheless. It may need some time on the stove, but it's almost nearly unattended so you can get the rest of dinner ready while the barley cooks. Like nearly all ramp recipes, the unique flavor of ramps makes this soup particularly special, but this would also be great with leeks, spring onions, or even green garlic. Often-overlooked barley is delicious is so much more than mushroom barley soup, it's nutty flavor and chewy texture in perfect harmony with the ramps and celery.

I've been really happy with the number of new ramp recipes I had an opportunity to try this year, but the time has come to move on to a new culinary obsession. With the unofficial start of summer just around the corner, I'm excited to embark on some culinary adventures with the best produce the farmers' market has to offer.

Ramp and Barley Soup
adapted from Martha Stewart
serves 4

4 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable stock
1/2 cup hulled barley, rinsed
1/2 pound ramps, whites and greens separated and sliced
1 stalk celery, thinly sliced
Coarse salt and ground black pepper

1. In a medium saucepan, bring stock, 3 cups water, barley, ramp whites, and celery to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until barley is tender, about 45 minutes.
2. Stir in ramp greens. Transfer half of soup to a blender and puree until smooth. Return to pot, stir to combine, and season with salt and pepper.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Spaghetti with Ramps

Yes, another ramp recipe. Sadly, ramp season is virtually over and I have just a couple more recipes to share before they're completely unavailable. I hate to go against the wisdom of Mario Batali, but I had to adapt his recipe to accommodate my deep love of ramps. Half a pound of ramps to a whole pound of spaghetti is a decidedly unsatisfying ratio for me, so I cut back on the pasta and increased the amount ramps to savor their delicious flavor in every bite. Since even my good olive oil probably doesn't compare to what Mario Batali has in his kitchen, I cut back on the olive oil and added a bit of butter, although if you've got some really extraordinary olive oil I encourage you to use it here unadulterated. The simple combination of nutty whole wheat spaghetti, rich butter and olive oil, spicy chili flakes, and savory cheese is the perfect canvas to allow the unique taste of ramps to shine.

With my favorite ingredients the simplest recipes are often the best, and this recipe follows that formula. Although there isn't anything out there than can quite compare to ramps in my mind, leeks, spring onions, or green garlic can often be substituted with great success. Use this recipe to indulge in some of spring's best produce before summer arrives and put a delicious, healthy meal on your dinner table in short order.

Spaghetti with Ramps
adapted from Babbo
serves 4

12 ounces dry whole wheat spaghetti
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
1 pound fresh ramps, greens and root ends separated and thinly sliced
1-2 tablespoons red chili flakes
Kosher salt
2 tablespoons breadcrumbs
Parmesan cheese, for serving (optional)

1. Bring 6 quarts of water to a boil and add 2 tablespoons of salt. Add the spaghetti to the pot and cook according to the package direction, until tender but still al dente, reserving 1 cup of the pasta cooking water.

2. Heat olive oil and butter in a 12-14 inch sauté pan over medium high heat. Add root ends of ramps to the pan and sauté until tender. Add salt and chilli flakes. At the very end, add the greens and sauté until wilted. Drain pasta and add it to the sauté pan. Toss gently to coat the pasta with the sauce, adding pasta water if necessary to help coat the pasta.

3. Divide pasta evenly among four warmed plates. Drizzle additional olive oil over top and sprinkle with breadcrumbs and Parmesan cheese, if desired.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Spinach and Shiitake Quiche

Cooking brunch for Mom today? If you don't have a plan yet, this recipe may be for you. This vegetarian quiche is rich and cheesy enough to feel decadent, but light enough not to require a nap afterwards (although you may need one anyway if you had a mimosa or two). Although quiches are typically thought of as fatty, opulent dishes, they can also be a great way to get a healthy portion of vegetables into your meal. A generous amount of spinach mingles with a web of gooey cheese, punctuated by a layer of umami-packed shiitakes. Shiitake mushrooms are a bit on the expensive side, but it only takes a small amount to infuse this entire quiche with a supreme savoriness. If you do need to add some meat to please the carnivores in your life, crumbled cooked bacon would definitely be a welcome addition. Like frittatas, quiches are wonderfully versatile, welcome at any meal, and the perfect way to treat Mom on her special day.

Spinach and Shiitake Quiche
adapted from Whole Foods
serves 4 to 6 as a main dish, 8 as part of a larger spread

1 frozen 9-inch ready-made whole wheat piecrust
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, divided
4 ounces sliced shiitake mushrooms
8 ounces fresh spinach, washed, dried and chopped
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
1 cup milk
2 large eggs

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Remove piecrust from the freezer and thaw for ten minutes. Prick the bottom with a fork and bake for 7 to 10 minutes, until lightly browned. Remove crust from the oven to cool.

2. Heat 1/2 tablespoon olive oil in a medium sauté pan. Add mushrooms and season with salt and pepper Cook, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms are tender, about 7 minutes. Remove to a plate to cool.

3. Add remaining olive oil to sauté pan. Add spinach by handfuls and season to taste with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring constantly, until spinach is wilted, 2 to 4 minutes. Remove from heat.
4. In a small bowl, mix mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses. In another bowl, whisk milk and eggs together.
5. Sprinkle 1/4 cup of the cheese mixture on the crust. Top with half of the spinach.
Place mushrooms on top of spinach. Add half remaining cheese mixture and then remaining spinach. Top with remaining cheese.

6. Place the pie pan on a sheet pan. Carefully pour in milk mixture. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool slightly before cutting.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Ramp and Sausage Risotto

I can't get enough ramps. From the time these delectable wild leeks appear at the farmers' market until they all-too-quickly disappear, I don't miss an opportunity to pick up a bunch. And although there isn't anything I've made with ramps I haven't scarfed down with great relish, this is far and beyond the best ramp dish I've made (and perhaps one of my favorite things I've ever cooked). I love each of these sumptuous ingredients on their own, but the magical combination of Italian sausage, Parmesan cheese, and ramps is enough to make an unconscious smile appear on your face with very bite. Risotto is often though of as only a rich, indulgent dish with no nutritional value, but if you're willing to invest some extra time (and broth), this dish can be made with brown rice instead of white. The brown rice not only adds whole grains to this meal but a wonderful nutty flavor that plays beautifully with all the luxurious, savory ingredients. If you have the opportunity to make only one ramp recipe, I can't offer up a better choice than this one. The perfect date night dish, all this needs to be a complete romantic meal is a salad, glass of wine, and your sweetheart.

Ramp and Sausage Risotto
adapted from Bon Appetit
serves 4

2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter
1/2 pound hot or sweet Italian sausages, casings removed
12 ramps, trimmed; bulbs and slender stems sliced, green tops thinly sliced
1 cup arborio rice (or brown rice if you have extra time)
1/2 cup dry vermouth
3 cups (or more) low-salt chicken or vegetable broth
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese plus additional for passing

1. Melt butter in heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add sausage. Cook until no longer pink, breaking up with spoon, about 5 minutes. Add sliced ramp bulbs and stems. Saute until almost tender, about 2 minutes. Add rice and stir 1 minute. Add vermouth. Simmer until liquid is absorbed, about 1 minute. Add 3 cups chicken broth, 1 cup at a time, simmering until almost absorbed before next addition and stirring often.

2. Continue cooking until rice is just tender and risotto is creamy, adding more broth if dry and stirring often, about 18 minutes. Mix in green tops and 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese. Season risotto to taste with salt and pepper. Serve, passing additional grated cheese separately.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Crustless Broccoli-Cheddar Quiches

I may have been the only kid who didn't want cheese sauce on their broccoli in the school lunch line. It probably had something to do with the fact that the sauce in fact they were offering had only a passing relation to cheese, but as an adult I happily embrace the broccoli cheese combination, provided that there's real cheese involved (the unbelievable smoked cheddar from Hook's I used here definitely qualifies). I eat a lot of eggs and I'm apt to throw almost anything into a frittata/crustless quiche, so I jumped on this delicious recipe that assisted me on my mission to clean out the fridge, freezer, and pantry. It's a simple cooking technique and combination of ingredients that makes for a tasty, crowd-pleasing meal any time of day, the kind of recipe to keep close at hand when life is chaotic.

Crustless Broccoli-Cheddar Quiches 
from Martha Stewart
serves 4

Butter, for ramekins
Coarse salt
1 package (10 ounces) frozen broccoli florets
6 large eggs
1/2 cup half-and-half
Ground pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese (3 ounces)
Crusty bread and mixed salad (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter four 8-ounce ramekins (or a 9-inch pie dish); set aside. Bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil. Add broccoli; cook 1 minute. Drain well; transfer to a cutting board, and blot dry with paper towels. Chop coarsely.

2. In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, half-and-half, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and nutmeg. Stir in broccoli and cheese.

3. Place ramekins on a rimmed baking sheet. Ladle broccoli mixture into ramekins, dividing evenly. Bake until golden brown, 35 to 40 minutes. Serve with crusty bread and a mixed-green salad, if desired.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Chicken and Bulgur Salad with Corn

I couldn't be more glad that making Pinto Bean and Bulgur Burgers brought a bag of bulgur into my life, kicking off a small wave of culinary experimentation. So far I've made more veggie burgers and a delicious salad with this inexpensive and quick-cooking grain, with my latest experiment being this boldly flavored, complete main course salad. This collection of fresh flavors feels wonderfully like summer, filling your belly without making you sluggish. At its best with local corn on the cob, fresh tomatoes, onion, and cilantro shine against the nutty bulgur backdrop, completed by a  portion of savory chicken breast. This recipe is the perfect confluence of healthy, quickly prepared, and flavorful food, demonstrating how it is possible to eat delicious and nutritious meals even on busy nights. While it can only get better as more local veggies and herbs become available, don't wait until then to prepare this gorgeous meal.

Chicken and Bulgur Salad with Corn
from Food and Wine
serves 4

2/3 cup bulgur
2/3 cup boiling water
4 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
4 cups fresh (cut from about 6 ears) or frozen corn kernels
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 small red onion, chopped
1 1/3 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts (about 4)
1/4 teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper
1 tomato, seeded and chopped
1 jalapeño pepper, seeds and ribs removed, minced
1/2 cup chopped cilantro (optional)
4 tablespoons lime juice (from about 2 limes)
1/4 teaspoon cayenne

1. In a medium bowl, combine the bulgur and the water. Cover and let sit for 20 minutes.

2. In a large nonstick frying pan, heat 1 1/2 tablespoons of the oil over moderate heat. Add the corn and 1/4 teaspoon of the salt and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Add the onion and continue cooking for 5 minutes longer, stirring occasionally. Transfer to a large glass or stainless-steel bowl and let cool.

3. Add 1 tablespoon of the oil to the frying pan and heat over moderate heat. Season the chicken with 1/4 teaspoon of the salt and the black pepper. Cook the breasts until browned and just done, about 5 minutes per side. Remove the chicken from the pan and let it rest for 5 minutes. Cut crosswise into 1/4-inch slices.

4. Add the bulgur, tomato, jalapeño, cilantro, 3 tablespoons of the lime juice, the cayenne, and 3/4 teaspoon of the salt to the bowl with the corn and onion. Toss.

5. In a small glass or stainless-steel bowl, combine the remaining 1 tablespoon lime juice, 2 tablespoons oil, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Mound the salad onto plates. Top with the chicken and drizzle the chicken with the lime oil.