recipes at random

Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime. Give him ramen noodles, and you don’t have to teach him anything. - Lawrence Downes

Sunday, October 29, 2006


Pumpkin muffins

The basics for these moist, relatively low-fat, flavorful muffins come, once again, from Kim O'Donnel's blog at They are extremely simple to make. I substituted chopped crystallized ginger for pumpkin seeds, and added a little more spice and chopped pecans. I used raisins, and would suggest that yellow raisins add a nice bit of acidity, but you could probably sub half a cup of chocolate chips for the raisins. All of these add-ins are, obviously, optional. The ginger (or pumpkin seeds) on top look nice, but they'd probably taste just fine without.

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup light olive oil or canola oil
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1/3 cup plain yogurt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup canned pumpkin puree
1 cup raisins (optional)
1/2 cup chopped toasted pecans
1 tablespoon chopped candied ginger

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease the cups of a 6-cup muffin tin with butter or oil spray and place paper liners in cups. [Note: I got 7 muffins out of this, so you could probably make 6 muffins that were a little bigger than mine.]

In a mixing bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger and salt. In another bowl, whisk together oil, sugar and egg. Mix in yogurt and vanilla. Stir in pumpkin puree until mixture is smooth. Fold in pecans and raisins.

Incorporate wet ingredients into bowl of dry ingredients, and mix just until blended. Spoon batter into muffin cups, filling them to the top. Sprinkle crysallized ginger over the top of each muffin.

Bake about 25 minutes, until muffins are lightly colored and a tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool 5 minutes in pan, then unmold from pan and allow to cool completely.

Recipe may be doubled.

Thursday, October 26, 2006


Classic gingerbread

From "The Best Quick Breads" by Beth Hensperger (via Kim O'Donnel's blog at My father would not forgive me if I didn't include his favorite quote from Abraham Lincoln: "I don't s'pose anybody on earth likes gingerbread better'n I do - and gets less'n I do." In fact, Dad will probably send me his recipe that uses fresh ginger, and I'm happy to post that, too.

1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon ground mace (Kim substituted nutmeg)
¼ teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter
½ cup dark brown sugar
½ cup unsulfured molasses
1 egg
2/3 cup water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees (325 degrees if you are using Pyrex or dark-cast metal pan). Grease an 8-inch square, round or springform pan or use an oil spray.

In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, baking soda, spices and salt. Set aside.

In a large bowl with an electric mixer, cream butter and brown sugar until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add molasses and slowly blend. Add egg and beat for 30 seconds.

Bring water to a full boil - 212 degrees. Add flour mixture in three portions, alternating with the boiling water and mix for 30 seconds on medium speed. Beat gently just until the ingredients are evenly corporated, only about 1 minute. Do not overmix. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan.

Bake in the center of the oven until the top springs back when touched and a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean, about 35-40 minutes. Let cake cool in the pan for 20 minutes. Run a knife around the edge to loosen the cake, turn it out onto the rack, and place it right side up to finish cooling.

Monday, October 23, 2006


Roasted asparagus soup

This soup is a riff on Catherine's Creamy Asparagus Soup. I'm substituting vegetable broth for chicken stock, and roasting all of the asparagus instead of sauteeing. Theoretically, if you live in the northern hemisphere, I wouldn't recommend going out and buying asparagus at this time of year - because it's probably flown in from Chile, using up a lot of jet fuel - but if you happen to live in Florida and/or you happen to have a large amount languishing in your fridge, I'll let you off the hook...this time.

Serves 4

1 lb fresh asparagus, stalks snapped off and spears chopped
1 tsp plus 1 Tbsp olive oil
3 scallions, white and light green parts only, diced
1/4 cups diced shallot (about 1 large shallot)
pinch salt plus more to taste
4 cups vegetable stock
1/2 cup half and half

Optional garnishes - use any or all (but personally I would not omit the pepper):

1 Tbsp fresh dill
2 Tbsp feta cheese
2 Tbsp shelled pistachios
fresh ground pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 425ºF.

In a broiling pan, toss the chopped asparagus spears with half the olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. When the oven is preheated, roast them for 8 minutes. When they are done, chop them into inch-long pieces and set aside.

Meanwhile, heat the rest of the olive oil in a large pot over medium-low heat. Add the scallions, the shallot, a pinch of salt and a few fresh grindings of pepper (be circumspect with the salt, as the garnish will add a fair bit of saltiness). Stir to coat. Sauté until softened, 3-5 minutes. Add the vegetable broth and bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce to medium heat and add the roasted asparagus, cooking for 2 more minutes. The asparagus should be tender. Puree with an immersion blender (or stationary blender). Add the half and half, adjust seasonings if needed, and return to medium-low heat until warmed through.

Garnish with some chopped dill, crumbled feta cheese, and/or a few crushed pistachios, and add fresh ground black pepper to taste.

Sunday, October 22, 2006


For more recipes...

check out this month's Kosher Food Carnival: "What? Food after all the holidays?".


Saturday, October 21, 2006


Mexican cornbread

I guess you could say this is the Tex-Mex version of kugel - at least, it has a lot of similarly high-cholesterol ingredients.

1 cup yellow cornmeal
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/3 cup canola oil
1 cup sour cream (you can use low-fat)
1 small can (8 ounces) cream-style corn
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese or Mexican blend of cheeses
1 can (4 ounces) chopped green chile peppers, drained

Heat oven to 375°. Grease an 8- or 9-inch skillet; place over medium heat while preparing cornbread batter. Combine cornmeal, salt, and baking soda; blend well. Stir in melted shortening; add sour cream, corn, and eggs, blending well. Spoon half of the batter into the greased hot skillet. Sprinkle batter with the cheese and chile peppers; cover with remaining batter.


Baked ziti with eggplant

For simplicity, you can easily substitute jarred tomato sauce, and if you have pesto around, throw in a bit of that as well. This would be great with spinach pasta, if you can find it.

1 pound ziti, penne, or rigatoni
3 medium eggplants, sliced 1/2-inch thick widthwise
olive oil as needed
salt as needed
pepper as needed
3/4 pound mozzarella cheese, sliced 1/16-inch thick

Tomato Sauce
1/4 cup olive oil
4 garlic cloves, finely sliced
1/2 cup onions, finely diced
1 tablespoon oregano leaves, minced
1-1/2 cups diced tomatoes with their juice
1-1/2 cups tomato purée
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon pesto, optional

salt to taste
pepper to taste

Brush the eggplant slices with oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and broil until golden brown on both sides.

Cook the ziti in boiling salted water until al dente. Drain, toss with the tomato sauce, and place in an ovenproof casserole dish. Place the eggplant slices on top, cover with the sliced cheese, and bake at 375ºF for 30 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and light brown.

Tomato Sauce

Sauté the garlic and onions in the olive oil without browning. Add the oregano, tomatoes, salt, and pepper, and simmer for 20 minutes. Adjust seasoning, and set aside.

Saturday, October 14, 2006


Mujadarra - Middle Eastern lentils and rice


4 medium yellow onions -- peeled
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup lentils
3 1/2 cups cold water
1 cup long-grain rice -- raw
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoon salt

Dice 3 of the onions. Heat a large frying pan and add 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and the diced onions. Sauté until quite brown and set aside. In a 4-quart covered pot place the lentils and water. Bring to a boil, covered, then turn down to a simmer. Cook for 15 minutes. Add the cooked onion to the lentils, along with the rice, spices, and salt. Cover and simmer 20 minutes until rice and lentils are soft. If a bit of water remains unabsorbed remove from heat and let stand 5 minutes and it will soak in. Slice the remaining onion into rings. Heat the frying pan again and sauté the rings in the remaining olive oil. To serve, top the lentils with the sautéed onion rings. Note: you can use brown rice, but allow more time for cooking.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006


French potato salad

This is an original recipe... I don't know whether the French even eat potato salad, but if they did, I imagine it might be something like this. The artichokes and tarragon give it sort of a sweet flavor, which complements the olive oil. It's interesting with small purple potatoes, if you can find them.

for dressing:
1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
2 Tbsp wine vinegar
2 Tbsp good-quality olive oil
1 tsp tarragon, chopped
1/2 cup mayonnaise
fresh ground pepper to taste

1 lb new potatoes of any colors (yellow finn are nice), halved or quartered and boiled
8 oz frozen artichoke hearts, thawed and coarsely chopped
8 oz thin green beans, steamed
a few cornichon pickles, diced

Dissolve mustard into vinegar; beat in olive oil with a fork, adding chopped tarragon and ground pepper. Beat this mixture into mayonnaise. Toss potatoes, green beans, and artichokes with dressing. Chill.

Monday, October 09, 2006


Two tofu recipes

Thanks to the Boston Globe Magazine for these recipes...

Tofu with shiitakes and bok choy
Serves 4

Like many stir-fry dishes, this is best served with a bowl of long-grain white or brown rice.

1 package (14 ounces) extra-firm tofu, pressed (see above)
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons water
Pinch of sugar
2 tablespoons peanut oil
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 1-inch piece of ginger, peeled and finely chopped
1/2 pound shiitake mushrooms, stemmed, caps thinly sliced
1/2 pound bok choy, trimmed and thinly sliced
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons dark sesame oil (for sprinkling)
Handful fresh pea tendrils (for garnish)

Slice the tofu in half horizontally. Cut each piece into 1-inch strips.

In a large bowl, combine the soy sauce, water, and sugar. Add the tofu, turn to coat it all over, and set the bowl aside for 10 minutes. Turn the tofu several times.

In a wok or heavy skillet, heat the peanut oil. Add the garlic and ginger and cook over medium heat, stirring, for 1 minute.

Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes or until they soften. Add the bok choy and salt. Cook, stirring often, for 1 minute.

Add the tofu and marinade and cook for 5 minutes or until the greens are tender.

Spoon the tofu mixture into 4 shallow bowls. Sprinkle with sesame oil.

Garnish with pea tendrils and serve at once.

Vegetarian ma po tofu
Serves 4

1 package (14 ounces) extra-firm tofu, pressed (see left)
2 tablespoons peanut oil
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 1-inch piece of ginger, peeled and finely chopped
1 tablespoon chili paste
1 cup vegetable broth, heated to boiling
1 cup frozen peas
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
1 teaspoon cornstarch mixed with 1 tablespoon water
4 scallions, finely chopped

Slice the tofu in half horizontally. Cut each piece into 1-inch cubes. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.

In a wok or heavy skillet, heat the oil. Add the tofu and cook over medium-high heat, turning gently, for 1 minute or until it firms at the edges. Remove it from the pan.

Cook the garlic and ginger and over medium heat, stirring constantly, for 30 seconds. Stir in the chili paste. Add the broth and bring to a boil. Add the tofu and cook over medium heat for 2 minutes. Add the peas, continue cooking over low heat for 3 minutes or until the peas are cooked through. Stir in the soy sauce, vinegar, and cornstarch mixture. Bring to a boil, stirring until thickened.

Spoon the mixture into 4 shallow bowls, sprinkle with scallions, and serve at once.



Frittata is the easiest and most versatile dish to cook. Use good eggs, organic if possible, and keep it simple. I usually use two or three ingredients to flavor the eggs. You need a good, heavy-bottomed non-stick frying pan. Use enough eggs to fill the frying pan so the frittata is nice and thick and cooks slowly. A small frying pan will make a frittata for two, using five eggs. You will need:

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil and a good blob of butter
2 medium onions, peeled and very finely sliced
2-3 cold, cooked potatoes, diced (saved from the day before)
5 eggs
Salt and black pepper

Warm the oil and butter and cook the finely sliced onions until they are soft and slightly singed at the edges. Add the diced potatoes, heat them through and turn the heat up to let them crisp up a little at the edges.

Beat the eggs and season them well. Turn the heat down to medium and add the eggs, moving them around so they coat the potatoes and onions. Now let the frittata cook slowly in its own time. As it solidifies at the bottom, tip the frying pan to let the liquid egg seep underneath but other than that let it be.

When it has almost completely solidified and is dry on top, put a large plate over the frying pan. Tip the frittata on to it and slide it, upside down, back into the frying pan. Let it cook for a further 5 minutes or so on the bottom just to finish the underside, and it's done. Serve warm or cold, not piping hot.

Frittata with courgettes (zucchini), pecorino and mint: Slice 2 medium courgettes finely and cook them in the butter and oil, browning them a little at the edges. Add the eggs, 3-4 tablespoons grated pecorino and a tablespoon of chopped fresh mint.

Friday, October 06, 2006



I imagine there's just enough time left to find fresh AND local ingredients for this recipe. Canned tomatoes are fine; if you do go with supermarket tomatoes, choose Roma. As with other posts here, this should serve as more of a guide than a recipe per sé. Personally I may substitute Italian red peppers, and I might add some dried chili flakes or basil and even some red wine toward the end.

Ratatouille can be eaten as is, hot or cold, tossed with pasta, or broiled on good Italian bread. It would be great served over polenta, and I'd certainly add some good shredded parmesan whatever you do with it.

2 medium eggplants (about 2 1/2 pounds), peeled and cubed


1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

2 medium-size onions, chopped or sliced

3 ripe but firm tomatoes (about 1 pound), seeded and quartered

2 medium-size zucchini, peeled and thinly sliced

3 green bell peppers, seeded and cut into thin strips

1 garlic clove, crushed

2 tablespoons dried herbes de Provence, wrapped in cheesecloth

Freshly ground black pepper to taste

1. Lay the eggplant cubes on some paper towels and sprinkle with salt. Leave them to drain of their bitter juices for 30 minutes then pat dry with paper towels.

2. In a large skillet or casserole, heat the olive oil over medium heat, then cook the onions until translucent, about 6 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the eggplant, tomatoes, zucchini, peppers, and garlic and shake or stir gently. Add the herbes de Provence, season with salt and pepper, and stir to mix. Cover and simmer over a medium-low heat until much of the liquid is evaporated and the vegetables tender, about 45 minutes to 1 hour, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking. Strain away any remaining liquid and serve at room temperature with bread.

Variation: In step 2, cook each vegetable one after the other, adding more olive oil when required, and mix all the vegetables once they are cooked.

Makes 6 servings

Tuesday, October 03, 2006


Roasted butternut squash and goat cheese salad

Thanks to one of my 43Things friends for this idea...

1 butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into chunks
1/2 large red onion, sliced
8 oz (225 g) goat cheese
salad greens
1/2 cup toasted pumpkin seeds or pine nuts (be careful with pine nuts; they burn quickly, and are hot to handle)

for dressing:
2 tsp honey
2 tsp Dijon mustard
3 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
3 Tbsp olive oil
fresh ground black pepper to taste

Roast squash chunks with onions for 20 min at 220 C/400oF. After 20 min, slice up goat cheese and add to the squash, baking for another 10 min.

For dressing: with a fork, combine honey, mustard, and vinegar until honey is dissolved; beat in olive oil until mixture is emulsified.

Serve squash on a bed of greens, drizzle with dressing, and sprinkle with pine nuts or pumpkin seeds.


Noodle (lokschen) kugel

Kugel baking is more of an art than a science. I copied the bare bones of this from a recipe I found online, but I'm already adapting it to my taste in my head. For example, I'll definitely sub butter for margarine and chopped pecans or almonds for walnuts, and throw in a can (drained) of crushed pineapple since I have one lying around (golden raisins are more common). I might put in cottage cheese as well; I think my mother makes it with farmer's cheese, but that's hard to find. Warning: high cholesterol and saturated fat!

1 12-oz. package broad (egg) noodles
4 tbsp. pareve margarine
3 eggs
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup sugar

brown sugar
walnut pieces

Boil noodles according to package directions. Drain well and return to pot. Add margarine and mix well to melt. Fold in sugar and sour cream. Beat eggs well and fold into mixture. Turn into a greased 9 x 13 baking pan and sprinkle with brown sugar and walnut pieces to taste. Bake at 375 for about 1/2 hour, until top is browned and the noodle kugel is firm when you cut into it. Watch carefully so you don't burn the topping.


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