Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Whole Wheat Crepes

Hi. My name is ________ and I am a foodie.

If you can relate to this, it means you probably also feel the urge to buy almost every cookbook or magazine that you run into. Be it on the magazine racks at CVS or on the shelves adorning the Starbucks at Barnes and Nobles.

Yesterday I decided to head for to Starbucks for breakfast. It was a great plan. I would buy myself a grande cup of coffee and a blueberry scone, savor them while reading Silver Girl on my Nook. Then I would make my way to FedEx and buy boxes to pack in.

All was going perfectly as planned--cup of coffee and scone in hand--but as I was about to take my Nook out, all of a sudden I saw a book reading "Quick & Healthy Recipes" standing right there in front of me (and beside an empty stool). I was doomed.

Needless to say, the Nook never made it out of my bag. I spent breakfast looking over the various recipes in the book as my mind started making notes to cook a recipe on every other page--and I wasn't even done eating my scone!

So today, without wasting any time, I opened the book and decided to make crepes. They are called pancakes by Hartvig, but in my book they are crepes.

Oh, three more things: The recipe is very easy to follow. The crepes are ready in 10 minutes. My foodie-self has found a new addiction.


Whole Wheat Crepes (adapted from Quick & Healthy Recipes: 365 Meals in Under 30 Minutes)

  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup almond milk
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • Salt
  • Olive oil cooking spray
  1. In a large bowl, mix the first 5 ingredients. Add a pinch of salt and mix well. Set aside.
  2. Spray a saucepan with olive oil cooking spray and heat over medium high heat. Do not overheat. Once hot, pour about 1/4 cup batter into saucepan and quickly move the pan in circles, tilting it to make sure that the batter is evenly spread.
  3. Cook crepes for about 2 minutes on each side, or until color is darker and crepe seems floppy.

The best thing about crepes is that you create many meals from them. Be it the tofu and mushroom roll that I made for myself; or the nutella and powdered sugar dessert that is next on my list of to do things.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Soba Noodles with Ginger Lemon Shrimp and Veggies

This week was hot. Way too hot.

I have never been one to shower twice a day. I'm sorry, but I think that showering once, preferably right before bed so you don't get your sheets all dirty, is more than enough. But with weather like last week's, I can't see myself showering less than twice a day. I even wanted to shower three times on several days.

The heat and humidity was ridiculous! And yes, I know there are many places that suffer from more heat than Boston did last week, but let me just say that I wasn't prepared for it. Who am I kidding, I'm never prepared for that much heat.

I am a white-skinned-freckle-clad-redhead, I am NOT made for so much sun!

Anyways, despite all the heat, I managed to be productive. Not so much when it came to cooking, but I did do a whole lot of writing and packing.

Tonight however, I decided it was necessary to cook. I need to get rid of most, if not all, of the food in my fridge and freezer, so I must cook all I can. Still, it's very hard to cook for one (as I've said time and time again), so I really don't expect to be able to finish everything in my kitchen before I leave on Friday.

Here is a recipe I created on my own tonight. It actually turned out pretty good and it was quite simple to make. My shrimp addiction is still going, so you'll find dinner tonight was based around frozen shrimp.

Soba Noodles with Ginger Lemon Shrimp and Veggies (recipe made for one serving)

  • 1 serving of soba noodles
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 small shallot, finely chopped
  • 5 jumbo frozen shrimp, cooked peeled and deveined, thawed
  • 1 teaspoon ginger paste
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • 3 baby portobello mushrooms, sliced
  • 5 brussels sprouts, halved
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • S & P
  1. In a pot, bring 3 cups water to a boil. Season with salt. Add soba noodles and cook according to package, about 5 minutes. Remove noodles from heat, rinse and place in colander. Rinse with cold water and strain.
  2. Heat olive oil in a large saucepan over medium high heat. Once oil is hot, add shallots and cook until clear, about 3 minutes. 
  3. In a small bowl, combine ginger paste and lemon juice. Season with S & P. Add shrimp to marinade and let stand until ready to use. 
  4. While noodles cook, add brussels sprouts to shallot and cook until slightly browned, about 3 minutes. Add brussels sprouts and cook until slightly browned, about 3 more minutes.
  5. Add mushrooms to pan and drizzle with soy sauce. Cook for one minute. Add shrimp, along with the marinade, and cook for 2 more minutes, stirring occasionally. 
  6. Turn heat off and add soba noodles to pan. Stir to combine and serve. 

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Raspberry Scones and NYC Series Part I

Woke up this morning with one thing in mind: scones!

It was probably since last night I was reading this month's Martha Stewart Living (one of my many favorite magazines) and I came across what looked like a delicious recipe for berry scones. They are part of a foraging series in which all the recipes supposedly include ingredients from the forrest, but mine include berries straight from the cool climate of the refrigerator.

But first a quick recap on my life. This week has been non-stop journalism (which is totally called for since my internship is about to come to an end). Both the fact that my internship is coming to an end and that I will be leaving Boston in about a week make me very sad, so cooking is once again my therapy.

Last weekend I went to NYC to visit my sister for her 18th birthday. One of the best weekends in my life. One of the most tiring ones as well. Anyways I ate at a lot of delicious restaurants, and I think they all deserve a shout out.

First there was Scarpetta. Located smack in the middle of Meatpacking District, this italian restaurant set my standards for NYC cuisine way too high up. An appetizer, two entrees, two desserts and some wine made my sister's birthday dinner celebration all that much better. Yes, it is on the pricy side, but what can you expect from a birthday dinner in NYC? Every buck was well worth it. Hands down the best black cod I have had at a restaurant.

Saturday morning called for a late breakfast in Chelsea. We went to the Chelsea Square Restaurant where I had one of the biggest omelets of my life along with a weak--but not too bad--cup of coffee (or two). This diner was the perfect place to balance out the elaborate cuisine we had dined the night before: simple home-like dishes in copious quantities for a reasonable price.

Lunch didn't happen until around 3:30 p.m. (due to our late breakfast and various mishaps along the way). Tresanti, another italian restaurant--hard to think that my sister used to never choose italian food--was ideal for my sister's birthday lunch celebration. Ten of her friends, one of mine, my sister and I made up the largest--and loudest--table in the restaurant. My meal was a simple salad that doesn't deserve too much praise, but the bread was a m a z i n g. Do not hesitate asking for more and more baskets if you ever get a chance to eat there. Really, it is delicious (and believe me, I have had my fair share of breads to compare it to).

Ok. That is it for now. More NYC foodie adventures will come in my next post, but for now, enjoy the scones! And if you really really want one and you live close to me, just stop by and ask for one (let me know beforehand of course).

Raspberry Scones (adapted from Martha Stewart Living)

  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 6 tablespoons cold butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh raspberries
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 2 eggs
  1. Preheat oven to 400 F.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together flours, sugar, baking powder and salt. Drop butter into flour mixture and mix using your hands. Squeeze each piece of butter and the dry ingredients with your fingers until only pea-sized butter pieces are left. 
  3. Add raspberries and carefully combine.
  4. In a separate bowl, whisk together cream and eggs. Make a well in the flour mixture and slowly pour cream and eggs. With a fork, carefully combine cream and flour mixtures just until dough forms. 
  5. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Separate dough into 8 pieces (I made 6 and they were huge!) and transfer to baking sheet.
  6. Bake scones for 20 to 22 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool and serve.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Easy Bread: Whole Wheat Biscuits

I will not slack. I will not slack. I will not slack.

Hoping this mantra will stick and prevent me from going so long without posting again! I miss cooking. I haven't really cooked or baked anything for more than a week now and I feel deprived.

Yes, I've been making myself the occasional omelette and veggies for breakfast, or the roasted tofu croutons that I like so much, but I haven't really prepared a full meal. I have been very bad about keeping to my food blogging promise. And now my roommate is leaving again (on Wednesday) and I will have to figure out a way to cook for one without making it boring.

Either way, I am making a promise to myself--and to my fellow blog readers out there--that I will indeed blog as much as I can these next two weeks (my last two weeks in Boston this summer). I have no idea where my foodie persona will lead me next, but I do know that you can expect very healthy recipes. I am on a eat-better-cleanse-your-body-feel-better binge right now. I think the fact that I stuffed myself with restaurant meals and junk food these past few weeks sparked an urge to eat right again.

Ok, so the last recipe I made were Whole Wheat Biscuits (although there is one more recipe left in the Picnic Series, but that one will be posted later since it isn't really food). The biscuits are very easy to make--and when I say very easy, I mean you can make them any morning and have them freshly baked for breakfast. They are crusty on the outside, soft in the inside. The perfect combo for a biscuit (at least in my book).

Whole Wheat Biscuits (adapted from Southern Living Cookbook)

  • 1 1/2 cups bread flour
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons butter, cut into small pieces
  • 3/4 cup milk (I used almond milk)
  • Olive oil or vegetable oil cooking spray
  1. Preheat oven to 450F.
  2. Combine the flours, baking powder and salt in a large bowl. Add butter and mix with fingers, squeezing each piece to blend. Continue to incorporate butter until mixture is crumbly.
  3. Add milk slowly, mixing constantly until dough is formed. Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead for about 1 minute.
  4. Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray. Shape dough into 10 balls and place them on cooking sheet. Press balls down slightly to flatten. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until golden.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

The Picnic Series: Feta & Cucumber Dip + Tuna Salad

Last week when I said I wanted it to be hot in Boston, I really didn't know what I was asking for. Yes, rainy and cold Boston is not enjoyable, but scorching hot days aren't either. I guess I can't be so picky, but having to take a greenhouse tour when the sun is shinning intensely above your head is not fun. Not fun at all.

Anyways, given the gorgeously bright days we have had recently, a friend and I are planning a camping trip on one of the Harbor Islands. We have yet to figure out the specifics--ferry ride, sleeping bag, sunscreen and repellent, food, etc.--but I have to say I am thrilled with our plan.

But for now, it will just be writing, writing and more writing. I have a week packed with journalism events.   I'm excited to see what all my stories will turn into given that now I can devote all my effort and time to my internship instead of having to juggle it with classes.

Anyways, here is another installment in the Picnic Series. It isn't the last one though! Wait for the last one, featuring a delicious after lunch surprise, soon. Here are the recipes for a yummy dip that goes perfectly with crudites, crackers or bread; and a simple tuna salad that is the perfect alternative to the classic mayo version (for those of you who didn't know it, I pretty much hate mayo).

Feta & Cucumber Dip (adapted from Martha Stewart)

  • 4 medium cucumbers, peeled and sliced in half crosswise
  • 2 cups non-fat greek-style yogurt
  • 1 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh mint leaves
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • Juice of 2 limes
  • S & P
  1. With a melon baller or a small spoon, scoop out cucumber seeds. Grate cucumbers using one of the larger-hole graters and transfer cucumber to a colander set over the sink or on a plate. Sprinkle with 2 teaspoons salt, stir and let sit for 15 minutes.
  2. Rinse cucumbers with cold water and shake off excess water. Carefully transfer to paper towels and squeeze out as much liquid as possible.
  3. Combine cucumber with the rest of the ingredients, in the order given. Season to taste with S & P. Serve cold.

Lime and Cilantro Tuna Salad (adapted from How to Cook Everything)

  • Three 4-5 oz. cans packed tuna
  • Juice of 2 limes
  • 1 small shallot, minced
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • S & P
  1. Combine first five ingredients in a large bowl and season with S & P to taste. Chill in refrigerator for 15 minutes. Serve with crackers or spread on bread for a tuna salad sandwich.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

The Picnic Series: Tomato Hand Pies

It's summertime. The temperature is rising, but still has not gotten to the annoying heat that makes you want to become best friends with the AC; a breeze is lightly blowing, still allowing for that hat to stay on your head, while pushing the clouds away to reveal a blue sky. There is a tree-shaded spot on the grass overlooking the Charles River. In other words, it's the perfect scene for an afternoon picnic.

I'm not trying to brag about yesterday, but in a sense I think it is something to brag about. Around 4 p.m., six of us headed towards the Charles River Esplanade to finally have the picnic that I've anticipating for weeks.

I spent the morning and early afternoon cooking. It was exhausting, I'm not going to lie, but it was well worth it. The back ache and sore feet paid off when I was sitting on the esplanade enjoying a well deserved banquet.

I will post the recipes in different posts because I think each deserves it's own moment of glory (or at least this first recipe does).

These individual pies are delicious. Time-consuming? Yes, but they will impress your taste buds and leave you wanting to make them again. Also, they're perfect for a picnic since they require no cutlery; yet they still taste as if they were from a restaurant's main-course menu. Enjoy!

Tomato Hand Pies (adapted from Martha Stewart)

  • 1 recipe Pate Brisee (recipe below)
  • 2 1/2 lbs. tomatoes, cored, sliced 1/4 inch thick crosswise
  • 1 medium onion, quartered lengthwise, sliced crosswise
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • S & P
  • 1/3 cup pitted black olives, chopped
  • 3/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 tablespoon water
  1. Preheat oven to 400 F.
  2. On a lightly floured surface, carefully roll out dough into two 1/8 inch thick rectangles. With a pairing knife, cut 12 4-inch squares of dough. Line a muffin tin with squares, carefully pressing them down and to the sides; leave overhang. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  3. Arrange tomato and onion slices on two rimmed baking sheets and drizzle with olive oil. sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook for 30 minutes, until tomatoes begin to shrivel and onions become golden, switching sheets halfway. Let cool completely and transfer to a bowl. Stir to combine and set aside.
  4. Reduce oven heat to 375 F.
  5. Divide half of the olives and feta cheese among the muffin cups. Top with 2 tablespoons of the tomato and onion mixture, if there is more left, distribute it evenly. Add remaining olives and feta to each muffin cup. Fold corners of dough towards center.
  6. Whisk egg yolk with water and brush pies lightly. Cook pies for 50 minutes or until crust is golden brown and insides are sizzling. Cool completely on rack before removing from tins.

Pate Brisee (adapted from Martha Stewart)

  • 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 sticks cold butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1/4-1/2 ice-cold cup water
  1. In a large bowl, combine flour and salt. Add butter and mix with hands, pressing pieces with flour mixture to create a coarse meal.
  2. Slowly add half of the water and mix dough until just incorporated. Do not over mix. If more water is needed, add in small portions.
  3. Separate dough in two. On a floured surface, shape each into squares and wrap with plastic. Refrigerate dough for at least one hour (or freeze up to one month).