Sunday, May 30, 2010

carnivale season 1 marathon(ish) snacks

My first post here is a cheat, cause I already posted it over at my other (hugely neglected) blog, but I just couldn't wait to get something on here. Oh the joy of the mother daughter food blog!

Our Carnivale Season 1 marathon started super late because we decided to be responsible and do all sorts of grocery shopping and cleaning and organizing of the house beforehand, so in reality, I don't know if it counts as a marathon. I think we got through 4 episodes. We'll try and hit it again tonight. But what really matters is not how good that show is, even the second time around (really really good, in my opinion), but the munchies I made.

The humus was ridiculously easy, just like my mama said it would be. I took some precooked chick peas and added some tahini and a bit of lemon juice. That's about as exact as I can be as far as the measurements go. And then I drizzled olive oil on top with a dash of paprika. On the side for dipping I took whole wheat tortillas, cut them into bits, brushed them with olive oil and baked them in a too-hot oven for 5 minutes. Again, that's about as precise as I can be. I recommend not having the oven too hot, probably better if you heat it just right. Regardless, it was delicious. We had some mammoth green grapes with it, which were delicious, in spite of their prehistoric size.

And then, when we got hungry again (it happened so soon, we are eating champions lately), I pulled out the whole wheat pizza dough I'd prepared and used my brand new rolling pin (little water glasses get the job done, but not very well) and made this baby:

The crust is adapted from here, but I usually use milk instead of water. Last night, however, feeling bold, I substituted white wine ("What? Why?" asked my husband, "They're not even the same color!"). I also always throw in some herbes de provence for good measure. Thought it was going to be salty, but I think it was just the tang of the wine, because when it cooked up, it was perfect. I topped it with sliced tomatoes, sliced red peppers, grated mozzarella and some mozzarella di buffalo, and then some fresh basil on top. When it came out of the oven we threw some turkish red pepper on it, and ate it so fast there re no pictures. But trust me, it was good.

hey hey hey!

Lions and ducks and dragons are super together, so my baby is going to post on this blog too. We have much in common when it comes to cooking: We don't read recipes, experiment like crazy, cook with no fear, and learn from the inedible goop we sometimes produce as much as from the beautiful stuff we end up with.

Gotta change the name of the blog.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

red pepper and walnut gem

I've been craving muhammara. I think it started when my sister introduced me to the new (to me) species of fresh red peppers in Istanbul - fat, long, pointy, sweet and tangy, crisp, super refreshing. I did find some fresh red peppers here that were quite similar. They're called 'Ancient Sweets', imported from Mexico and described on the package as 'mysteriously sweet long peppers.'

Muhammara can be on the heavy side, and I wanted to make a refreshing summery version. Here it is.

2 fresh red peppers
3/4 c walnuts
1/2 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp pomegranate syrup
11/2 c canned canellini beans
black pepper
Aleppo peppers
2 tbsp olive oil

Cut the red peppers into 1" chunks and chop them up in the food processor. Add about half a cup of the walnuts and the rest of the ingredients, chop fine. Add the remaining walnuts and pulse only a couple of times, to give it some texture. Cover and chill. That's it.

Play around with the ingredient amounts to make it suit your palate. Never ever assume my measurements give the best results. Remember, my kitchen motto is 'Wing It!'

Aleppo peppers are mildly hot red pepper flakes, called 'kebab peppers' in Turkey. You can get it at Penzey's. (Better yet, go to Penzey's if you can and lose track of time.)

Traditional muhammara generally has chopped garlic, but my head of garlic turned out to be a hideous  empty brown shell. I think it actually turned out more refreshing without the garlic, but if we were sitting down to an evening-long rakı (or arak or ouzo) table, I'd definitely include the garlic.

What I'm happiest with is the beans. Normally, you'd add bread to give the muhammara body. But I'm trying to stay away from white bread, and the multi-grain seeded bread just didn't seem right. So what to do? Beans, I thought. Turned out to be an excellent addition, if I do say so myself.

I warmed up a whole wheat tortilla, spread the muhammara on it, and devoured it with much happiness. It would be a good substitute for mayonnaise in chicken salad, or as a sauce for hamburgers or grilled anything.

This is a super nutritious and healthy dish with a very low glycemic index, and the addition of beans also makes it a good protein source. And it tastes very very good.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

because my memory always fails me

First post on my food blog. It'll basically be my notebook about what goes on in my kitchen.

These days, I'm obsessed with baking bread again. After decades of not baking. Let's start with a video of one of the masters.  (Sorry about the Katie Couric ad in the beginning.)

Watch CBS News Videos Online

And here's an entry from Ann Mah's blog on the Poilâne bakery:

My initial motivation was to bake a multigrain bread with lots of seeds, etc. That's the kind of bread I eat these days, for health reasons. But seriously, we knew it was an excuse, right?

In March 2010, before I went on a longish trip, I improvised a bread with acceptable results, though not great. It was a yeast bread with a rich mix of seeds and grains soaked overnight. Here is the result.

I'll return to seeded multigrains later, but at the moment, I'm focusing on getting sourdough right. I got my live starter from Breadtopia and it turned out to be very vigorous, even though I was too sick to get to it for a while. So, feed and dump and feed and dump and feed and dump. Yesterday, I declared my starter strong enough to start baking.

Bake? I went into my usual paralysis when I'm tackling something new. OK, so I'm not really new to bread baking, but it's been a while, and I used to wing it a lot back then, which meant uneven results. And I could never get a good loaf without boosting my sourdough with a bit of yeast. Did I say I was winging it? My excuse is that I'm sure no bread maker of my childhood in Istanbul ever measured anything. There's that little matter of experience, though, which I thought I could compensate for with an abundance of guts and experimentation. Yeah, I know, arrogance.

My paralysis was fed by endless combing through all my bread books, checking out all the bread blogs, reading about a thousand different approaches, and of course not knowing where to start. Until yesterday.