Sunday, March 25, 2012

Heart Healthy Wake-Up Call: Kim Boyce's Oatmeal Pancakes (and a picnic treat)

Kim Boyce: pastry maker, amazing baker and James Beard Award winner. She has a huge following and I'm about one click away from ordering her book Good to the Grain. (Or I might just place an order at my local bookshop instead of ordering online.) Kim's bakeshop is supposed to be fantastic and it will be high on my list of places to eat when I go back to Portland.
Anyway, I've been meaning to make these Oatmeal Pancakes ever since I saw them on The Wednesday Chef blog. I finally got it done. 
For some reason I thought they would take a long time to prepare, which is not the case at all. This recipe uses rolled oats-- as a porridge (oats boiled in water for 5 minutes) and as a flour (oats pulsed for about 1/2 minute in the food processor). A quick and easy way to convert oatmeal into a pancake and get some soluble fiber into your diet!
I had a few cups of rolled oats left over from some Swedish Chokladbollars I made during a play date a few weeks ago, so it was time to make these pancakes.
As you can see, they were a total hit with Otis. He ate 5. That's him in the picture below showing you how many he ate. So between the Quinoa Patties and these Oatmeal Pancakes, I'm batting over 300. That's pretty good. And speaking of batting, baseball season is just around the corner! Yippee. Andy Pettitie is back in pinstripes after coming out of retirement. And even though I'm living in Denver, I am still a 5th generation New Yorker, so I'll still be rooting for the Bronx Bombers...well, at least for this year. 
Oatmeal Pancakes (Courtesy of Kim Boyce via The Wednesday Chef)
Makes about 18 pancakes
3/4 cup oat flour (pulse 3/4 cup rolled oats into a food processor or spice grinder until finely ground)
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly (plus extra for the pan)
1 1/4 cups milk
1 cup cooked oatmeal*
1 tablespoon unsulphured (not blackstrap) molasses or 1 tablespoon honey
2 large eggs
1. Whisk the oat flour, flour, sugar, baking powder and salt together in a large bowl. In a smaller bowl, whisk the butter, milk, cooked oatmeal, honey and eggs together until thoroughly combined. Gently fold the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Using a light hand is important for tender pancakes; the batter should be slightly thick with a holey surface. Although the batter is best if using immediately, it can sit for up to 1 hour on the counter or overnight in the refrigerator. When you return to the batter, it will be very thick and should be thinned, one tablespoon at a time, with milk. Take care not to overmix.
2. Heat a 10-inch cast-iron pan or griddle over medium heat until water sizzles when splashed onto the pan. Rub the pan generously with butter. Working quickly, dollop 1/4-cup mounds of batter onto the pan, 2 or 3 at a time. Once bubbles have begun to form on the top side of the pancake, flip the pancake and cook until the bottom is dark golden-brown, about 5 minutes total. Wipe the pan with a cloth before griddling the next pancake. Continue with the rest of the batter.
3. Serve the pancakes hot, straight from the skillet or keep them warm in a low oven.
* To make oatmeal, if you don’t have any leftover: Bring 2 cups of water, 1 cup of rolled oats and a pinch of salt to a boil and simmer on low for 5 minutes. Let cool. You’ll have some extra oatmeal, which you can eat while you’re cooking.
* * *
After breakfast we had to do a quick wardrobe change (Otis, who was my sous chef, was covered in batter), and then we were off to spend a wonderful afternoon in Washington Park. I picked up a sandwich from Vert--the Tortilla Espanola and a side of spicy peanut slaw. It was scrumptious. I really love that place. 
            
I also made some Beet Tahini the night before. I brought that along on the picnic too and served it with some crudités. The picture is not great, but the recipe is FANTASTIC. It's the perfect summer dip, one that I'm going to have on hand at all times. Yes, I liked it that much. And I knew I would since it's an adaptation of a Moro East recipe.
Beet Dip with Tahini (Adapted slightly from A Lovely Morning, Adapted from Moro East)
3 large beets
1/2 garlic clove, coarsely chopped
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 1/4 tablespoons tahini
3 tablespoons chopped fresh mint (though I left it out one time I made this dip and it was still delicious)
2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
sea salt and pepper
Preparation
Preheat over to 400 degrees. The actual recipe calls for boiled beets. I decided to roast them (as suggested by A Lovely Morning) since don't usually boil beets. I drizzled them with a little bit of olive oil, sprinkled them with some salt and black pepper, wrapped them in tin foil and baked for about 1 1/2 hours-- or until tender. Let them cool and then peel the skin off. Coarsely chop them and transfer them to the food processor. Add garlic, olive oil, and tahini and pulse in the processor until you have a nice semi-smooth puree. Then add the mint, vinegar, salt and pepper and pulse for a minute more.
Taste. Adjust salt and pepper to taste. Add lemon juice if you like. 

When we got home, Otis went to sleep. This time it was Theo who needed a wardrobe change. Then we played ball with Omar in the yard. It was another great day in Denver. Well, minus the 'lake incident' when Otis decided to chase the geese right into the lake, fully clothed and with his shoes on. He came out soaking wet, partially-covered in mud, but he laughed all the way to the car. 
I was not laughing quite as much...
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Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Heidi Swanson's Quinoa Patties


Wanting to make something seasonal to celebrate the arrival of spring, I thumbed through my Heidi Swanson cookbooks (this one and this one) to see what I could find. Initially I settled on a spring minestrone soup, but then the thought of shopping for ingredients I didn't have on hand stopped me in my tracks. That will be for tomorrow, I thought to myself. So I settled on an oldy-but-goody, Heidi's recipe for Little Quinoa Patties. 
I took a quick peek in the pantry and sure enough I had about 1 1/2 cups of dried quinoa sitting in a bag. This plan was starting to come together...
I used leftover chives that I bought for a Fresh Pea Soup and some extra Gruyere in the fridge also came in handy. I cooked two cups of (dry) quinoa, but ended up with much more than the 2 1/2 cups required for this recipe. Not a worry, I'll make some other quinoa salad this week. 
I ate the patties plain on the first night and topped them with fresh avocado and some Panola hot sauce the next night.  Both ways were great, but boy do I like hot sauce with these patties.  
Notes on subsequent takes of this recipe {updated 3/2013}
  • I used 1 cup of dried well-washed quinoa and 1 1/2 cups of water. I put those in a medium sauce pan and brought them to a boil. Then I turned the heat down to medium-low. I added another 1/4 cup of water about 15 minutes into the cooking time. The quinoa was ready after 25 minutes or so.
  • I used 3/4 of a yellow onion, instead of a whole onion.
  • I used about 3-4 ounces of goat cheese instead of Gruyere since I had some in the fridge. I didn't add any hot sauce or avocado this time.
Everything else remained the same (see below). Otis ate about 3 patties and wanted "more, more, more..." so I'm going to consider this a big success since he's become a very, um, particular eater (I think that's the nice way to say it). 
Well time is short and the boys will be waking up soon. 
Enjoy the spring and happy cooking! 


Quinoa Patties (Courtesy of Super Natural Everyday by Heidi Swanson)
Ingredients
2 1/2 cups cooked quinoa, at room temperature
4 large eggs, beaten

1/2 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt
1/3 cup finely chopped fresh chives
1 yellow or white onion, finely chopped
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan or Gruyère cheese
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 cup/3.5 oz /100 g whole grain bread crumbs, plus more if needed
Water, if needed
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil or clarified butter (I needed about a tablespoon per batch of 6.)
Directions
Combine the quinoa, eggs, and salt in a medium bowl. Stir in the chives, onion, cheese, and garlic. Add the bread crumbs, stir, and let sit for a few minutes so the crumbs can absorb some of the moisture. At this point, you should have a mixture you can easily form into twelve 1-inch/2.5cm thick patties. I err on the very moist side because it makes for a not-overly-dry patty, but you can add more bread crumbs, a bit at a time, to firm up the mixture, if need be. Conversely, a bit more beaten egg or water can be used to moisten the mixture.
Heat the oil in a large, heavy skillet over medium-low heat, add 6 patties, if they'll fit with some room between each, cover, and cook for 7 to 10 minutes, until the bottoms are deeply browned. Turn up the heat if there is no browning after 10 minutes and continue to cook until the patties are browned. Carefully flip the patties with a spatula and cook the second sides for 7 minutes, or until golden. Remove from the skillet and cool on a wire rack while you cook the remaining patties. Alternatively, the quinoa mixture keeps nicely in the refrigerator for a few days; you can cook patties to order, if you prefer.
To cook quinoa:
Combine 2 cups of well-rinsed uncooked quinoa with 3 cups water and 1/2 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, cover, decrease the heat, and simmer for 25 to 30 minutes, until the quinoa is tender and you can see the little quinoa curlicues.

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Monday, March 19, 2012

Baghali Ghatogh (Lima Beans with Eggs and Dill)


My interest in all things Persian and Iranian predates that little/embarrassing guilty pleasure called The Shahs of Sunset on Bravo television. Before I got married and had children, I did a lot of traveling. But there was one country I'd always wanted to go to but never managed to visit. And that country was Iran. I was curious about both ancient Persian history and modern-day, post-revolution, multi-ethnic Iranian society. 
Iran holds an important geographic location: Iraq is situated to the West, the Caspian Sea is to the North, Afghanistan to the East, the Persian Gulf and Gulf of Oman are to the South. Turkmenistan and Pakistan share a border with Iran as well. Basically, Iran straddles the Middle-East and South Asia. 
Iranian cuisine is considered one of the most ancient and developed styles of cooking. It has influenced the cuisine of its neighboring countries as well as those countries that are hundreds of miles away. Countries in North Africa, the Middle-East and the Indian-Subcontinent can trace some of their dishes back to Persian precedents. That said, Iranian cuisine is really distinct from what most people associate with greater Middle-eastern cooking.
I've been wanting to delve into Persian cooking for a while now, so you can't imagine how excited I was when Saveur magazine published a story called The Land of Bread and Spice last month.  It was full of great looking Iranian recipes, and quite a few were vegetarian. This dish, called Baghali Ghatogh, was the first one I tried and it was fantastic. I'm always looking for new vegetarian entrees, and this one was not only delicious, but it perfumed the house with the smells of saffron, garlic, dill and turmeric. Fantastic, really. 
Now regarding the preparation. Since I live at altitude I had to cook the beans for a bit longer than suggested and I added a little bit more water to get the beans tender. I also modified the amount of dill, using 3 cups instead of 4, but that is only because that's what I had in my fridge. Next time I'll use 4 cups and see if there is much of a difference.
After the success of this dish I'm definitely going to be doing a lot more cooking with these flavors and spices. And with a little bit of assistance from The Legendary Cuisine of Persia, I'm sure I'll get it right! As they say in Farsi, nooshe jan! نوش جان 
Baghali Ghatogh (Lima Beans with Eggs and Dill)
Eggs cooked with dill-scented lima beans is a northern Iranian specialty. This recipe appeared in Saveur magazine (March 2012) in Anissa Helou's story The Land of Bread and Spice.
Serves 4
Ingredients

6 tbsp. unsalted butter
½ tsp. ground turmeric
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
4 cups finely chopped dill (I used 3 cups.* See below)
1 cup dried lima beans, soaked overnight, drained
¼ tsp. crushed saffron {See comments below. I used safflower, next time I'll use saffron.} 
5 cups of cold water
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
4 eggs
Saffron threads, to garnish
Instructions
Heat butter in a 12″ skillet over medium heat. Add turmeric and garlic; cook until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Add 3 cups (I used 2) dill and the beans; cook until dill is slightly wilted, about 2 minutes. Add crushed saffron and 5 cups water; boil. Reduce heat to medium-low; cook, covered, until beans are tender, about 1½ hours. {My cooking time was more like 1 3/4 hours and I had to add a bit more water.} Season with salt and pepper; stir in remaining dill. Using a spoon, form 4 shallow wells in bean mixture; crack an egg into each well. Cook until eggs are cooked over-easy, about 3 minutes. Sprinkle with saffron before serving.
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Thursday, March 15, 2012

Celebrating with Shades of Green


Spring has sprung! There's no doubt about it. I've worn short sleeve three times in the last week, and I do mean outside. It's going to be 70 degrees...for 5 days straight! Buds are starting to form on the tree branches and perennial plants are pushing through the dirt. Little blades of green grass are popping up and we just turned the clocks ahead. I really love this time of year. The Germans have a word for it. They call it Frühlingsschnipsel, or snippets of spring.
This means that St. Patrick's Day is just around the corner. And I'm wondering how to celebrate the man who chased all the snakes out of Ireland and into the sea.
I was toying with the idea of making Cabbage and Mushroom Galette with Horseradish Sauce. But then I saw how time consuming it was and how many steps were required for the dough and filling. I decided to skip it (for now). I've learned to keep it simple in the kitchen these days, as there's a toddler and infant to watch over. One day I'll make some more-involved dishes (oh Eleven Madison Park cookbook, I've got my eyes on you) but for now I'm keeping it easy.
When I think of Ireland the first three words that come to mind are: song, drink (Irish coffee and Whiskey) and green. Sure, there are rolling hills and majestic cliffs, amazing literature (Angela's Ashes is one of the few books I managed to read cover-to-cover last year), great films, and ancient castles...but I'm going to take my cooking cues from the first words that came to mind and work a menu around things that are green and things that you drink...while listening to some classic U2 albums.
Lucky for me I spied two recipes in my most recent Martha Stewart publication that I wanted to make. One is for a Creamy Cauliflower Soup with Kale (it's green!) and the other is for Irish Coffee Blondies. Yum!
Creamy Cauliflower Soup with Greens (Adapted from Martha Stewart)
Ingredients
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1 medium onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
4 cloves garlic, chopped
Sea salt (season the soup well)
1 medium head cauliflower (about 3 pounds), florets and stems cut into 1-inch pieces (8 to 9 cups)
2 1/2 cups water

2 cups vegetable stock
(The original recipe used 4 1/2 cups filtered water. I used a combination of water and stock.)
1/4 cup chopped fresh dill, plus more for garnish
5-6 large kale leaves, tough ends removed, and leaves roughly chopped
Freshly ground black pepper
Directions
Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat; cook onion, covered, until soft, 4 to 5 minutes. Add garlic and a pinch of salt, and cook for 3 minutes more. Add cauliflower, and pour in filtered water until it reaches just below the top of the cauliflower.
Bring to a boil over high heat. Add 2 tablespoons dill. Reduce heat to low, and simmer until cauliflower is just tender, about 10 minutes. Stir in greens, and simmer for 3 minutes.
Let sit for 5 minutes to cool slightly. Stir in remaining 2 tablespoons dill. Puree soup in batches in a blender until very smooth, adding more water (about 1/2 cup) if it's too thick. Return to pot, and reheat. Season with salt and pepper. Garnish with dill, black pepper, a drizzle of oil, and pinch of sea salt.

***
On to another green matter: the Mordecai Children's Garden at the Denver Botanic Gardens reopened this past week, ending their winter closure. The children's section has a wonderful rooftop alpine garden, among other things. I took the boys last week and we had a blast. Otis loved climbing the rocks near the Springmelt Stream. Theo had fun in the sandpit. Something tells me these two boys are going to be real nature-enthusiasts! (And yes, those are the Rocky Mountains in the background!)
A few hours after our trip to the Botanic Gardens all hell broke loose. I put Theo down for his nap and when he woke up a short while later he was covered in a deep red rash, his eyes were practically shut and his face was swollen. 
Now, I pride myself on being a down-to-earth mother who doesn't usually panic...but this was too much. I knew it wasn't a mite or something contagious because I was fine, as was Otis. Theo had been a bit red in the face when we went back to New York for Yana's wedding two weeks ago. He was bumpy and there was a slight rash, but then it faded completely. I wasn't sure what was going on, but it was time to go to the ER. I thought, perhaps, he was going into anaphylactic shock. I was starting to panic.
Well long story short we went to a pediatric dermatologist at the Colorado Children's Hospital (it's No. 5 in the country for a reason) the next day. After a diagnosis (eczema that became unbearable, probably due to a virus that was long gone) and some topical steroids, everything is great and back to normal. Theo is comfortable. The rash and discomfort are gone...completely. He's also sleeping really well, so that's good for him...and great for me! 
I seemingly had a ridiculous amount of energy last week because the day after our stint in the ER and Children's Hospital, we were off to Golden to visit the Colorado Railroad Museum. Otis was a really, really big fan of the trains (he's kind of obsessed). And  Theo was happy not to be itchy. 


After we got back from the train museum I made this one-pot soup. It was so easy and so delicious. Click here for the Caramelized Leek and Minted Yogurt Soup recipe from the Moro Cookbook
Next week I'm delving into Persian cooking. Until then, have a great week/end. 
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