Sunday, April 29, 2012

Ramp and Asparagus Frittata

There are few ingredients that say spring more to me than asparagus and ramps. Both of these ingredients always make it home with me any time they are available at the farmers' market. And while I could eat grilled asparagus by the pound and put ramp pesto on almost everything, I'm still always on the search for other recipes for two of my favorite spring ingredients. Most people aren't familiar with ramps (wild leeks), making the recipe pool is somewhat limited, so I was thrilled to find a recipe that used both of these delicious vegetables. While I typically don't ever work from recipes when making frittatas, this wonderful collection of ingredients is definitely worth sharing. It's eggy and cheesy and packed with veggies, the perfect balance between health and indulgence. And although I adapted this recipe to use ramps, if you aren't lucky enough to have myriad sources for them as I do, leeks will still shine gloriously in this recipe. Delicious puffy and golden brown hot from the oven for breakfast, brunch, lunch, or dinner or reheated the next day, the economical and flavorful dish deserves a spot at your dinner table.

Ramp and Asparagus Frittata
adapted from Bon Appetit
serves 4

2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter
1 cup chopped ramps (white and red parts only-no leafy greens)
1 12-ounce bunch thin asparagus, trimmed, cut on diagonal into 1-inch pieces (about 2 1/2 cups)
1 cup sliced stemmed mushrooms (shiitakes, baby bellas, or portabellas make good choices)
8 large eggs
1 cup shredded Gruyere or Swiss cheese, divided
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1. Preheat broiler. Melt butter in heavy broilerproof 10-inch-diameter nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add leeks and sauté 4 minutes. Add asparagus and shiitake mushrooms, sprinkle lightly with salt, and sauté until tender, about 6 minutes. Whisk eggs, 3/4 cup Fontina cheese, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper in medium bowl. Add egg mixture to skillet; fold gently to combine. Cook until almost set.

2. Sprinkle remaining 1/4 cup Fontina cheese and Parmesan cheese over. Broil until frittata is puffed and cheese begins to turn golden, about 3 minutes. Cut into wedges and serve.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Greek-Spiced Baked Shrimp

When I was  kid, anytime I got to eat shrimp I knew it was a special occasion. Shrimp cocktail was always the appetizer for Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner and eating it still always feels a little luxurious to me. As an adult, I purchase shrimp on a fairly regular basis, grilling it for salad, tossing it with pasta, or using it in a stir-fry most often. This recipe, quite unique from the other shrimp recipes I've made, was a wonderful departure from the ordinary. Red pepper flakes offer plenty of spice, tempered just enough by the salty, pungent feta cheese, roasted tomatoes, and fresh dill. A filling, but healthy main dish served over rice with a side vegetable, this would also be an beautiful warm appetizer with a plate of crostini. From start to finish this recipe is somewhat of a time investment (45 minutes or so), but it is largely unattended, allowing you to prepare the rest of dinner or converse with guests. The perfect balance of elegance and ease, this recipe is sure to please any shrimp-lover with a penchant for bold flavors.

Greek-Spiced Baked Shrimp
from Gourmet, via Epicurious
serves 4

1 medium onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
3 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon hot red-pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1 (28-ounce) can roasted chopped tomatoes in juice
Pinch of sugar
1 1/4 pound large peeled and deveined shrimp
1/4 pound feta, crumbled (2/3 cup)
2 tablespoons chopped dill

1. Preheat oven to 375°F with rack in middle.

2. Cook onion and garlic in oil with 1/4 teaspoon salt in a 4-quart heavy saucepan over medium heat until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in spices and cook, stirring, 30 seconds. Add chopped tomatoes (with juice) and sugar and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat.

3. Season shrimp with 1/8 teaspoon salt, then stir into tomato sauce. Transfer to a 2-quart shallow baking dish and top with feta. Bake until just cooked through, 18 to 20 minutes. Serve sprinkled with dill.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Bulgur Salad with Feta and Pine Nuts

Happy Earth Day! If you're feeling motivated to do something good for our planet, try adding a few vegetarian meals to your repertoire. The livestock industry is responsible for a huge amount of greenhouse gas emissions and by swapping out a few meat-heavy meals for some delicious vegetarian options, we can do our bodies and the planet some good.

Although I've created a lot of main-course salad recipes, both vegetarian and with meat, I've never explored green salads with a grain as one of the main components. I bought a bag of bulgur specifically for Pinto Bean and Bulgur Burgers and because I hate to waste and am perpetually on the search for new recipes, I went on a search that led me to this wonderful salad.  Bulgur is the perfect whole grain for busy people because its preparation requires only an unattended soak in hot water. While the bulgur soaks you'll have plenty of time to prepare all the other components and probably even get the kitchen cleaned up. The chewy bulgur is the perfect textural contrast to crunchy lettuce and red onion, with the savory pine nuts and feta cheese making it satisfying enough for a main course. If you're one of the unlucky few to suffer from pine mouth or just don't care for pine nuts (or their expense), walnuts would make a lovely substitution. A complete meal on one plate, this salad is a fabulous way to eat vegetarian, a lovely meal to linger over on a beautiful spring day.

Bulgur Salad with Feta and Pine Nuts
from Martha Stewart
serves 1

1/4 cup medium-grind bulgur
Coarse salt and ground pepper
1 tablespoon pine nuts
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons olive oil, preferably extra-virgin
1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese (1 ounce)
1/2 shallot, minced
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1/4 cucumber, peeled, halved, seeded, and finely diced
1/2 head Boston lettuce, torn into large pieces

1. In a medium bowl, mix bulgur with 1/8 teaspoon salt and 1/2 cup boiling water. Cover; let sit until bulgur is tender (but still slightly chewy), about 30 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, in a small dry skillet over very low heat, toast pine nuts, tossing constantly, until golden, 3 to 4 minutes. In a small bowl, whisk together lemon juice and oil. Season with salt and pepper; set aside.

3. Drain bulgur in a fine-mesh sieve, pressing to remove excess liquid; return to bowl. Add feta, shallot, parsley, cucumber, and 1/2 the dressing; season with salt and pepper. In another bowl, toss lettuce with remaining dressing. Top with bulgur mixture and pine nuts.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Shrimp, Roasted Red Pepper, Corn, and Feta Salad

Feeling like we're well and truly in spring has reinvigorated my passion for and creativity with main course salads. Main course salads are commonplace in my diet year-round, but once spring arrives they become an absolute staple. Salads are what I most commonly feed myself when I'm only cooking for one, but my husband will enjoy salads (like this one) with me from time to time as well. When I'm flying solo I typically follow the basic formula of dried/fresh fruit, nuts/seeds, and cheese, but with my meat-and-potatoes husband I almost always make sure some meat makes it to the plate as well.

You can't beat a meal like this for a busy work night. None of these ingredients need cooking and barely any prep work is required. The simple combination of a pile of fresh greens and corn, accented by roasted red peppers, perfectly pungent feta cheese, and a generous helping of shrimp makes for a well rounded and almost summery salad. Needing only some crusty bread with butter and a glass of wine to feel even a bit decadent, this meal is an exceptional way to reward yourself after a long day at work or throw together a quick date night at home.

Shrimp, Roasted Red Pepper, Corn, and Feta Salad
serves 2

4 ounces baby greens or spinach
1 roasted red pepper, thinly sliced
1/2 cup fresh corn or frozen corn, degrosted
8 ounces cooked salad shrimp, rinsed, drained, and patted dry
2 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
Salad dressing, for serving

1. Divide spinach evenly between two large places, topping each with half of the roasted pepper, corn, shrimp, and feta cheese. Top with dressing of choice, and serve.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Black Bean and Bulgur Burgers

As hinted at in my Chickpea Burger post, I'm at the end of queue of Martha Stewart veggie burgers, this adaptation of one of her recipes being my last (for now). The bulgur I bought for Pinto Bean and Bulgur Burgers had a found a home on top of a can of black beans in kitchen cabinets, and I couldn't help myself from adapting this recipe to indulge one of my favorite combinations, black beans and corn. Almost a bean burrito made into a burger, smoked cheddar and scallions continue that theme, gilded by a healthy helping of salsa and sour cream on top. The key to keeping these burgers from falling apart is thoroughly draining the bulgur, beans, and corn (if frozen, then thawed); any excess water will make the burgers soggy, make them more difficult to shape, and cause them to spread as they cook. A fantastic alternative to a bean burrito, these zesty burgers are a great way to mix up your work week lunch routine.

Black Bean and Bulgur Burgers
adapted from Martha Stewart
makes 4 burgers

1/2 cup bulgur
1 can (15.5 ounces) black beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup grated smoked or sharp cheddar cheese
1/2 cup fresh or frozen corn
1/4 cup thinly sliced scallions
1 large egg, lightly beaten
Coarse salt and ground pepper
Cayenne pepper (optional)
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 whole wheat buns or pitas
Lettuce, salsa, and sour cream, for serving

1. In a large bowl, combine bulgur and 1 cup boiling water. Cover tightly and let sit until bulgur is tender, 30 minutes. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve, pressing to remove liquid, then return bulgur to bowl. In a food processor, pulse black beans until coarsely chopped. Add beans to bulgur, along with cheese, corn, scallion, and egg. Season with salt and pepper and add cayenne, if desired; mix well.

2. In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium. Add 1/2 cup bean mixture and press lightly with a spatula to flatten. Make 3 more patties, working in batches if necessary (add more oil for second batch), and cook until browned and cooked through, 3 minutes per side. Serve burgers on buns with your choice of garnishes.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Whole Wheat Apricot Scones with Flax Seeds and Oats

With the farmer's market returning to all its outdoor glory next week, my weekends of baking breakfasts are coming to an end. Once I can satiate my breakfast pastry cravings with my choice of treat from any number of vendors (a whole grain scone from Chris and Lori's Bakehouse being my most frequent choice), I turn my breakfast creativity away from muffins and scones and towards the savory. This scone recipe, which I've had bookmarked forever, is my last hurrah. I lightened the texture of the scone by substituting whole wheat pastry flour for regular whole wheat flour, and made my scones round instead of wedges, otherwise following the recipe faithfully. Just a little bit of butter and flax seeds make these scones surprisingly rich, with the honey and dried apricots imparting the perfect amount of sweetness. Like White House Honey Oat Muffins, the character of the honey really comes through in the recipe, complementing, but not overpowering, the apricots. If apricots aren't to your liking, feel free to substitute the dried fruit of your choice. Although I've loved my time baking all manner of sweet breakfast treats, I'm excited to move on to savory pursuits and sampling the delicious treats the Dane County Farmers' Market has to offer.

Whole Wheat Apricot Scones with Flax Seeds and Oats
adapted very slightly from Whole Foods Market
makes 12 scones

2 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 cup rolled oats
3 tablespoons flax seeds
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons butter, cut into small pieces and well chilled
3/4 cup chopped dried apricots
2/3 cup honey
3 tablespoons low-fat buttermilk, more for brushing
2 eggs
1/4 teaspoon almond extract (optional)
1 tablespoon turbinado sugar (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Put flour, oats, flax seeds, baking powder and salt into a food processor and pulse until combined. Add butter and pulse again mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Add apricots and repeat process.

2. In a small bowl, whisk together honey, buttermilk, eggs and almond extract then pour in a constant stream into food processor while pulsing just until mixture is blended. If very dry, add another tablespoon of buttermilk. Dough will be a little sticky. Transfer dough to a well-floured surface and form into a 9-inch circle. Using a floured knife, cut dough into 12 wedges and transfer to a large baking sheet, arranging the scones 1 to 2 inches apart.

3. Brush scones with buttermilk and sprinkle them with sugar. Bake until cooked through and golden brown around the edges, about 25 minutes. Serve hot or at room temperature.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Spinach, Corn, and Polenta Souffle

While I love meat, I try not to each too much for it for both health and environmental reasons, but refuse to be left craving flavor or sustenance just because my meal lacks animal protein. People all too often assume that vegetarian meals are boring and leave will leave you famished, but this spinach, corn, and polenta souffle is the perfect antidote to that opinion. A rich pillow of eggs and polenta envelopes fresh corn and spinach with a punch of blue cheese in this fantastically savory dish. The pungent flavor of blue cheese that I adore isn't for everyone, so feel free to substitute feta or another milder cheese to appeal to a wider audience. I made this on an ordinary Monday night, but these delicious individual souffles are glamorous enough for a dinner party as well. This is vegetarian eating that appeals to anyone who loves food, the perfect way to introduce even hardcore carnivores over to vegetarian eating.

Spinach, Corn, and Polenta Souffle
from Vegetarian Entrees That Won't Leave You Hungry by Lukas Volger
serves 4

4 eggs
5 ounces (140 g) frozen spinach, or 8 ounces (230 g) fresh
1 cup (240 ml) milk (whole or 2%)
1/2 cup (120 ml) water or vegetable stock
1/2 cup (70 g) coarse-grind cornmeal or polenta
2 tablespoons butter
3/4 cup (90 g) fresh corn kernels (from about 1 1/2 ears) or frozen corn kernels, thawed and drained
4 ounces (115 g) blue cheese, crumbled
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (190 degrees C). Generously butter four 10-ounce (300 ml) round ramekins or a 1 1/2-quart souffle dish.

2. Separate the eggs, placing the yolks in a small bowl and the whiles in a very clean, dry mixing bowl.

3. If using fresh spinach, blanch or steam it under tender, then finely chop it. If using frozen spinach, defrost it in the microwave, cooking at 2-minute intervals on medium heat, stirring at each interval with a fork, and continuing to cook until thawed. Then drain it an, once cool enough to handle, squeeze out as much liquid as possible. IF using whole frozen spinach, finely chop it.

4. Combine the milk and water in a medium saucepan over high heat. Bring to a boil, then turn the heat down to maintain a simmer. Add the polenta in a steady stream, whisking constantly to break up any lumps. Continue simmering and stirring until the polenta has the consistency of oatmeal or porridge (thick, but not so stiff that it appears congealed), 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the spinach, corn, cheese, salt, and pepper.

5.  Using an electric mixer on medium to medium-high speed or a good, strong arm, whisk the egg whites until they form peaks. This will take about 2 minutes with a mixer and up to 5 minutes by hand. The whites will quadruple in volume and should just hold their shape on the tip of a whisk. In four batches, fold the whites into the yolk mixture, being careful not to overmix and deflate the whites. Carefully pour the mixture into the prepared baking dish. If making individual souffles, divide the mixture among the prepared dishes and place them on a baking sheet.

6. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes for individual souffles or 30 to 40 minutes for one large souffle. The top should be browned, set int eh center, and firm to the touch. Serve hot or warm.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Chickpea Burger

And the Martha Stewart veggie burger obsession continues! Although flavor is always my top priority when it comes to cooking, I have to again mention my huge appreciation for the texture of Martha Stewart's veggie burgers, which all too often tend to fall to pieces. These solid patties might look simple on paper, but are certainly not wont for flavor. Smoky cumin, a frequent companion to chickpeas, blends perfectly with rich peanuts and fresh ginger and scallions in this balanced burger. A bit reminiscent of falafel, this burger is best accompanied by a pita, fresh cucumber slices and tahini or yogurt sauce. I've been happily munching on these for lunch, but they could also be delightful appetizers if made into 8-12 small patties and served with a dipping sauce. Sadly, it seems that pretty soon I'll have made it through all the Martha Stewart veggie burgers I'd like to try. The good news? I'll be on the hunt for another veggie burger recipe treasury or new culinary obsession.

Chickpea Burger
adapted from Martha Stewart
makes 4 burgers

1 can (15 ounces) chickpeas, drained and rinsed
4 scallions, trimmed
2 slices whole wheat sandwich bread
1/3 cup peanuts or almonds, unsalted
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, chopped
Coarse salt and ground pepper
1 large egg
Olive oil
Whole-wheat English pitas, for serving
Lettuce, cucumbers, and tomatoes, for serving
Greek yogurt and/or tahini, for serving

1. Heat grill to high. In a food processor, combine chickpeas, scallions, bread, peanuts, cumin, and ginger; season with salt and pepper. Pulse until roughly chopped. Remove half the mixture to a bowl; add egg to food processor. Process until smooth; add to reserved mixture in bowl, and mix well.

2. Form the mixture into four 3/4-inch-thick patties. Brush each side generously with oil; grill until charred, 3 to 5 minutes per side. Serve the burgers in pita with fixings and condiments of choice.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Chewy Harvest Fruit Granola Bars

Happy Easter! While you may be up early indulging in a little pre-breakfast candy, it might also be a good idea to sneak a few healthy snacks in there as well (tomorrow, at least). These delicious granola bars from the paragon of precision cooking, America's Test Kitchen, have enough sweetness to satisfy your sweet tooth, blended with plenty of nuts, seeds, dried fruit and whole grains. Although the peanut butter version of this recipe is also delicious, I prefer the diverse collection of flavors in this versatile recipe. Better than any granola bars you'll find at the grocery store, a big batch of these healthy and tasty snacks can be whipped up in short order. If your overindulge on candy today, rest assured you can make up a little nutritional ground with these granola bars tomorrow.

Chewy Harvest Fruit Granola Bars
adapted from America's Test Kitchen Healthy Family Cookbook
makes 16 bars

1/3 cup slivered almonds
1/3 cup unsalted cashews, chopped coarse
1/4 cup unsalted pumpkin seeds
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 cups (6 ounces) old-fashioned rolled oats
1 1/2 cups Multigrain Cheerios
1/2 cup dried fruit, chopped coarse
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup water
1 cup (7 ounces) sugar
1/2 cup half-and-half
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Line a 13 by 9-inch baking pan with an aluminum foil sling and coat lightly with vegetable oil spray. Toast the almonds, cashews and pumpkin seeds in a 12-inch skillet over medium heat, stirring often, until fragrant and golgdn brown, 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer the toasted nuts and seeds to a large bowl.

2. Add the butter to the skillet and melt over medium heat. Stir in the oats and cook, stirring often, until golden and fragrant, 4 to 6 minutes. Transfer the toasted oats to the bowl with the toasted nuts and seeds and stir in the Cheerios, dried fruit, and salt.

3. Pour the water into a clean heavy-bottomed medium saucepan. Pour the sugar into the center of the pan (don't let it hit the pan sides) and gently stir with a clean heatproof spatula to wet it thoroughly.

4. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and cook, without stirring, until the sugar has dissolved completely and the caramel has a faint golden color (about 300 degrees on a candy thermometer), 4 to 8 minutes.

5. Reduce the heat to medium-low and continue to cook, stirring only as needed, until the caramel has a dark amber color (about 350 degrees on a candy thermometer), 1 to 3 minutes. Off the heat, whisk in the half-and-half (the caramel with steam and bubble vigorously) until smooth and just barely bubbling, 30 to 60 seconds. Whisk in the vanilla.

6. Working quickly, stir the hot caramel into the nut-oat mixture until thoroughly combined. Transfer the mixture to the prepared baking pan and pack very firmly into an even layer. Let the granola cool completely, about 30 minutes. Remove the granola from the pan using the foil, cut into 16 bars, and serve.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Whole Wheat Spaghetti with Kale and Chickpeas

Who doesn't love a hearty bowl of pasta? With cool weather slowly fading away, there a precious few days left appropriate for suppers like this one. My diet naturally evolves to lighter fare as summer approaches, but I'm still peppering my diet with big bowls of comfort like this. A hearty combination of nutty whole grain pasta, chickpeas, and fresh, yet substantial kale, these belly-filling ingredients come together in a rich and creamy bechamel accented by roasted garlic and lemon zest. There are a number of steps to this recipe, but to streamline a bit you can simply saute a few cloves of chopped garlic with the shallots (onions can be substituted) if you don't have time or inclination to roast whole heads of garlic.

Too often vegetarian entrees attempt to imitate meat, but this dish embraces the ingredients, playing to their strengths with hearty, savory success. Like so many of his veggie burger recipes, Lukas Volger has hit a home run with this vegetarian entree that won't leave you wanting for meat. Whether you're a staunch vegetarian or just someone trying to eat a little healthier, this meal deserves a place on your dinner table.

Whole Wheat Spaghetti with Kale and Chickpeas
from Vegetarian Entrees That Won't Leave You Hungry by Lukas Volger
serves 4

1 bunch kale (about 12 ounces, 325 g)
1 pound (450 g) whole wheat spaghetti
3 tablespoons butter
2 shallots, minced
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups (360 ml) reduced-fat milk (1% or 2%)
1 1/2 cups (360 ml) vegetable stock, preferably homemade
1/4 teaspoon salt
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
Freshly ground black pepper
Pulp or flesh from 2 heads roasted garlic, skins discarded
2 cups (425 g) cooked chickpeas, or one 15-ounce can, drained and rinsed
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest, plus more for garnish
Parmesan cheese for garnish

1. Blanch the kale in a large pot of salted water until tender, removing it from its cooking water with tongs or a slotted spoon, rather than pouring it into a colander, so as to reserve the cooking water. Finely chop the kale.

2. Return the pot of water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook until al dente. When you drain the pasta, reserve at least 1 cup (240 ml) of the cooking water.

3. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a medium saucepan or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the shallots and saute until fragrant and slightly softened, 2 to 3 minutes. Sprinkle the flour over the shallots, whisking constantly to evenly distribute the flour, and cook still whisking constantly, until the mixture is a shade darker and smells nutty, 2 to 3 minutes. Gradually add the milk and stock, whisking constantly to break up any lumps. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat to medium-low and simmer until the mixture thickens slightly, 6 to 8 minutes total.

4. Stir in the salt and nutmeg and season with pepper. Taste and adjust the seasonings if necessary. Stir in the kale, roasted garlic, chickpeas, and lemon zest, being careful to break up the kale and chickpeas are heated through, 2 to 3 minutes.

5. Combine the cooked pasta and kale mixture, tossing well with tongs. If the sauce is too thikc, loosen the dish with a bit of the reserved cooking water, adding it in small increments. Garnish with more lemon zest and pass freshly grated Parmesan at the table.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Pinto Bean and Bulgur Burgers

I've been quite impressed with the veggie burger recipes from Martha Stewart that I've tried recently. They've all been quick and easy to make, packed with flavor, and really hold together well, unlike many of the veggie burgers I've made in the past. As with most bean-based burgers, these are hearty and filling, punctuated by bits of chewy, nutty bulgur and fresh carrots and scallions. Just a bit of tahini makes the burgers supremely savory, perfectly complemented by a hint of cayenne. Although sometimes I'd rather be curled up on the couch than spending part of my Saturday afternoon cooking for weekday lunches, recipes like this make all the effort worth it. Far more satisfying than a Boca Burger, this delicious morsels make me smile each time I pluck one from my lunch bag at work.

Pinto Bean and Bulgur Burgers
adapted from Martha Stewart
makes 4 burgers

1/2 cup medium-grind bulgur
Coarse salt and ground pepper
1 can (14 1/2 ounces) pinto beans, rinsed and drained
1/4 cup plain dried breadcrumbs
4 scallions, thinly sliced
1 large egg
1 large carrot, coarsely grated
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons tahini (sesame-seed paste)
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
4 whole grain hamburger buns, pitas, or English muffins

1.  In a medium bowl, mix bulgur with 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt and 1 cup boiling water. Cover bowl, and let sit until bulgur is tender (but still slightly chewy), about 30 minutes. Drain in a fine-mesh sieve, pressing to remove liquid.

2. Place beans in a medium bowl; mash with a potato masher until a coarse paste forms. Add breadcrumbs, scallions, egg, carrot, cayenne, tahini, and bulgur. Season with salt and pepper, and mix to combine. Form mixture into 4 patties, each about 1 inch thick.

3. In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-low. Cook patties until browned and firm, 5 to 8 minutes per side. Serve on buns with condiments of your choice.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

White House Honey-Oat Muffins

I am always in favor of using natural, unprocessed sweeteners instead of corn syrup or cane sugar in recipes. Sweeteners like molasses, honey, and maple syrup deliver the requisite sweetness along with nuanced flavor. In many recipes those subtle elements of flavor are present but still take a backseat to the primary flavors of the recipe but in these muffins the honey really gets to shine. I'm lucky enough to have access to dozens of different kinds of honey from local purveyors, so I greatly change the character of the muffin depending on if I use mild clover honey, bold buckwheat honey, or anything in between. Whole wheat flour complements honey particularly well, accented by a subtle hint of spice from the cinnamon and coriander. A simple, but crowd-pleasing recipe, this delicious and nutritious muffins will start any weekend morning off right.

White House Honey-Oat Muffins
adapted just slightly from Food and Wine
makes 12 regular size muffins

3/4 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons honey
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup canola oil
2 large eggs

1. Preheat the oven to 375°. Coat a 12-cup muffin pan with cooking spray. In a large bowl, mix the oats with the whole-wheat flour, all-purpose flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, coriander and salt.

2. In another bowl, whisk the honey with the buttermilk, canola oil and eggs. Pour the honey mixture into the dry ingredients; mix just until combined.

3. Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin cups and bake for about 18 minutes, until they're golden and a toothpick inserted into the center of the muffins comes out clean. Let the muffins cool in the pan for about 5 minutes, then transfer them to a rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.