October 1, 2012

Ruis Bread

I came across a stand selling Finnish rye bread at the Union Square Market a few weeks ago.  They were giving out samples served with zucchini and cheddar, and I was sold after the first bite.  They were also quite lovely paired with some tomatoes I picked up in the market and a few thin shavings of Manchego I had at home.

August 2, 2012

Thirsty Thursdays: Raspberry Lime Spritzers!

An ice cold drink is the perfect antidote for the dog days of summer.  This summer feels more brutal than the past one, though I feel like I end up saying that every summer.  A berry spritzer is crucial to surviving the heat while waiting for the random cool days.

Raspberry Lime Spritzers

Raspberry (or other berries)
Mint leaves, roughly minced
Lime, thinly sliced
Sparkling water
Simple syrup or sweetener of choice, to taste
Vodka, optional but a shot of never hurts

Mash raspberry with mint leaves, then add water, simple syrup, and vodka. Garnish with slices of lime and mint leaves.

July 3, 2012

Ginger Coleslaw

This coleslaw is the perfect side dish for summer.  Seriously, I've made this three times already within the past month. The cabbage and carrots are nice and crunchy, and the ginger/vinegar/sesame oil dressing adds a great sweet and tangy flavor.  It tastes great with some grilled chicken or pulled pork, or just with the addition of some diced avocado.

Best of all, there's no cooking involved!  It also keeps well for a few days in the fridge.

Ginger Coleslaw
via WeightWatchers.com

1-1/2 pounds raw red cabbage, shredded
5 medium raw carrots, shredded
6 medium scallions, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, grated
1/2 cup cilantro, minced
6 tablespoons seasoned rice wine vinegar
2 tablespoons sesame oil
4 teaspoons packed brown sugar
1-1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

Combine cabbage, carrots, scallions, ginger, and cilantro in a large bowl.  Whisk together the vinegar, sesame oil, sugar, and salt in a small bowl and pour over slaw.  Toss to coat and refrigerate for two hours before serving, mixing once or twice while chilling.

April 24, 2012

Harvest Cake with Vanilla Cream

This might be the healthiest cake I've ever made, based on almond flour and chock full of zucchini, carrots, and apples.  The cake turned out delightfully moist and delicately nutty, and the cashew frosting was surprisingly creamy.  The cake and frosting were sweet enough from the apples and medjool dates that I might actually do away with the honey altogether the next time I make this.

Harvest Cake with Vanilla Cream
via Roost Blog

Harvest Cake
3 cups almond flour
1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1-1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/4 cup melted ghee
1/4 cup honey
1-1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 eggs
1 cup grated carrot
1 cup grated zucchini
1 cup chopped apple

Preheat oven to 350ºF.  Grease a 9-inch cake pan.

In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon.  Mix the remaining ingredients in another bowl and then stir into the dry ingredients to form a batter.  Pour into cake pan and bake for 40-45 minutes or until toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Vanilla Cream
1 cup raw cashews
1/2 cup coconut milk
2 medjool dates, pitted
1 tablespoon honey
Seeds scraped from 1 vanilla bean

Soak cashews in water for 3 hours, then discard water.  Blend all ingredients in a blender or food processor until smooth.

Cake will keep for a few days in an airtight container and about a week in the fridge.

April 2, 2012

Beef Pot Roast

 I've been cooking a lot of chicken lately and frankly, I've become bored of eating it.  This pot roast is the perfect dish for using cheaper cuts of beef.  I love cutting into a good steak every now and then, but there's something about digging into a piece of braised beef that's so tender it falls apart under your fork.

I added the parsnip and the accidental turnip as an experiment.  I was originally aiming for a rutabaga since I'd never had one before, but Whole Foods had them right next to the turnips, which I've never cooked before either.  They looked so similar that I assumed they were the same thing, except one side looked cleaner.  Naturally, I grabbed a cleaner piece.  And that's how I ended up with a turnip.  Which wasn't bad, but it's not something I'd toss into a pot roast again, hence its omission from the recipe.

The parsnip was delicious, though.

Beef Pot Roast

5 tablespoons butter, divided
4 lbs boneless beef shanks (or other braising cuts, ie. chuck roast)
salt and pepper
2 large onions, cut into wedges
2 large carrots, cut into 1" chunks
1 parsnip, cut into 1" chunks
1 cup red wine
2-3 cups beef stock (veggie or chicken will work in a pinch)
3 sprigs thyme
2 sprigs rosemary
5 sage leaves
1 bay leaf

Heat 3 tablespoons of the butter in a large pot over high heat.  Salt and pepper the beef shanks and then sear on all sides.  Make sure to get them good and dark brown, a bit burnt, even.  Once done, remove to a plate and set aside.

Lower heat to medium and add remaining butter to the pot.  Add onions, carrots, parsnip, and turnip and saute, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are slightly browned.  Pour in a bit of wine to deglaze the  pot, scraping to release the bits of beef and vegetable goodness stuck to the bottom, then add the remainder.

Add beef back into the pot and pour in enough stock to partially cover the beef halfway.  Toss in herbs, about 2 teaspoons of salt, and bring to a boil.  Then lower heat, cover, and simmer for at least five hours until beef is tender enough that it falls apart under a fork.

March 26, 2012

Cashew Brioche

I've been trying to eat better lately and cutting back on grains and legumes and processed foods .  (Tackling my sugar addiction is a Sisyphean task and a different demon altogether.)  I wanted alternatives to cakes and breads and other delectable desserts made from wheat, and I luckily stumbled upon Roost by the inspirational Caitlin.  There were all these lovely treats made with nut flours to go along with all of the beautiful photography.
I've previously only used almond flour to make frangipane filling for tarts, but I never really imagined that you can make cakes and breads with nut flours.  The brioche was surprisingly light in texture despite my difficulty in folding egg whites into anything.  It was delicately nutty, and a little goes a long way. 
I love mine served with thin slices of manchego cheese and a dab of membrillo.

Cashew Brioche
slightly adapted from Kendall Conrad's Eat Well, Feel Well via Roost

3 cups raw cashews
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 eggs, separated
1/2 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup coconut milk

Preheat oven to 350ºF.

Grind cashews in a high speed blender or food processor until you end up with a fine flour.  Add in baking soda, salt, egg yolks, vinegar, and coconut milk.

In a separate bowl, beat egg whites until stiff and soft peaks have formed.  Carefully fold into cashew batter.  Do not over mix!

Pour into a buttered non-stick 9-inch loaf pan.  (I used a slightly larger pan.)  If not using non-stick, line pan with parchment paper and grease.  Bake until toothpick inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean, about 1 hour and 15 minutes.  When cool enough to handle, remove brioche from pan and cool completely on wire rack.

Brioche stored at room temperature in an airtight container will last for a few days, longer if in the fridge.

March 25, 2012

Spring cleaning with a new look

I decided What the Fig was in dire need of a new look after four years (four?!).  I'm not 100% enamored with this template--while there are things that I love about it, namely the landing page with all the images laid out, there are features I wish I had more control over.  I'll keep it for now and see how I like it.  What do YOU think? 

March 23, 2012

Chocolate Pots de Creme

Spring is here!  I think the weather has finally made up its mind after several false starts, though every year it seems spring lasts for a week before blinkyoumissedit, the relentless heat and humidity of summer is upon the city.  So celebrate the end of the cold season with these chocolate pots de creme!  Just don't accidentally add more hot water to them than the recipe calls for.  At least, that's what I think I did.  Mine never gelled after a night in the fridge and was more chocolate sauce than anything, although the top quarter inch did firm up a bit after I stuck them under the broiler to caramelize the sugar.  They were still divine--you can't ruin anything with the addition of heavy cream!

March 16, 2012

Chicken Ragu with Zucchini Salad

There was a bit of tweaking that I made to this recipe, from the minor substitution of pecans for macadamias to taking out entirely the dill and spring onions.  BUT leaving out the vincotto was a big mistake; however, I couldn't justify dropping anywhere from $18-22 on a bottle.  I couldn't even make myself buy a bottle of cooked grape must, which is a cheaper alternative.  The sweetness of the vincotto would've balanced out the strong and rather overpowering flavor of the wine.  If you decide to forego this ingredient as well, definitely decrease the amount of wine when cooking.

March 9, 2012

Pear and Apple Phyllo Tarts

My brain has been in tart-mode these past few weeks, and in an effort to free up some space in the freezer, I decided to kill two birds with one stone and defrost some phyllo dough to make some tarts.  I kept things light with a few layers of phyllo and thin daubs of vanilla custard--a little goes a long way.  The one above contains slices of pear.

This one has apples.  I like this a lot more.  I was so surprised at how great they tasted, though I shouldn't be with the amount of butter that went into them.  The phyllo was perfectly flaky and buttery, and the fruit practically melts in your mouth.  The custard is the glue that holds everything together.

February 28, 2012

Chicken Soup with Roasted Purple Potatoes

The weather's been a bit finicky lately in NYC.  It was in the 50s today but in the 30s just a few days ago.  Go figure.  The weather may be warming up, but there's alway time for soup.

Chicken soup is a favorite comfort food, and it doesn't hurt that they're so easy to make.  I decided to roast the potatoes instead of boiling them in the soup because I didn't want the starch to thicken the soup.  Plus, roasted potato skin is delicious.

February 22, 2012

Milk Tart?

At long last, a dessert post!  Making a tart has been on my mind lately, and I originally planned on making something with fruit before I came across a recipe for a milk tart whilst flipping through my cookbooks for inspiration.  It's a classic South African dessert, and I thought I'd make something different from my usual fruit tarts.

February 17, 2012

Butternut Squash Bread

I had a butternut squash lounging around desperate to be transformed into something magical, but I didn't want to roast it or make a soup out of it.  I had some dill bread recently on a cookbook shoot and was so obsessed with it that I ended up making two loaves of my own.  As I was already fixated on bread, it seemed like the logical thing to do was to roast and puree the squash and transform it into a loaf of bread.  It turned out surprisingly well, fragrant with spices and lovely served toasted with some cream cheese and maple syrup.

February 6, 2012

Kale Salad

I'm having lots of fun playing around with Capture One, a RAW converter and photo editing software.  The image on the left is totally unprocessed while the one on the right has all of the adjustments I made using the software.  I love how easy it is to white balance and to make the colors pop!

January 23, 2012

Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Brown Butter Sauce and Fried Sage

So I've made this twice already and only realized last night as I was typing up the recipe that I'd misread the ingredients on Gourmet's site!  Twice.  The recipe calls for a total of two pounds of potatoes, but it was worded in such a confusing way that I ended up using half that.  It does explain why the gnocchi were a bit denser than I'd like, though.

January 5, 2012

Sugar Spiced Nuts

Happy New Year, you guys!  I hope everybody had a fantastic time over the holidays!  I had a nice, long visit with my family and completely lost my mind eating cookies, brownies, on sale holiday candies and chocolates.  I probably had more rice and noodles in the past two weeks than the last few months combined.  I was a woman possessed.  Nothing containing a smidgeon of carbs was safe from my bottomless maw, including these sugar spiced nuts.  These were so addictive it should be everybody's new year resolution to have a secret stash hidden in some dark kitchen cupboard.