Thursday, March 29, 2007

Deep down,, I harbor a love of lo mein noodles. Chock full of veggies and tasting sweetly reminiscient of soy sauce and sesame oil, they remind me of my childhood when "take out" Chinese Food from the local Chinese restaurant was a real treat. But in this grown up world of trying to eat healthily, lo mein is an indulgence that I rarely treat myself to.

This recipe attracted me simply because it seemed to be the best of both worlds. Made with real lo mein noodles, it seemed closer then any "fettucine" fried noodle stand-in. And, because it came from Cooking Light, I knew it would be healthier. And these noodles were surprisingly tasty. The bath of sesame oil and soy sauce after the noodles cook gave them the authentic mouthfeel of the higher fat lo mein noodles I recall so fondly. And the addition of the edamame and the greens makes the dish both filling as well as good for you.

M. actually made this one. He reported that once the prep was finished, it came together quite quickly. We made a couple subs - dried shitaake for the wood ear mushrooms and lacinato kale for the mustard greens. But otherwise, the reecipe was executed as written. The bok choy dish on the side was M.'s creation. He prepared a stock of veggie broth, garlic, shallots, ginger, and a few other ingredients. After simmering the ingredients for about an hour, he used them to bathe and cook the bok choy (as well as season the salmon M. prepared for himself on the side).

Vegetable Lo Mein with Edamame and Mustard Greens

Mustard greens' peppery bite contrasts with tender, fresh Asian egg noodles. If you can't find them, substitute fresh pasta such as vermicelli or spaghetti. The leftovers are tasty served warm or cold.

1/2 cup boiling water
1/4 cup dried wood ear mushrooms
2 quarts water
3 cups chopped mustard greens
1 (14-ounce) package fresh Chinese egg noodles
1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce, divided
1 tablespoon dark sesame oil
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 tablespoon grated peeled fresh ginger
1 1/4 cups (1/4-inch-thick) red bell pepper strips (about 1 medium)
3/4 cup chopped green onions
1 garlic clove, minced
1 1/2 cups frozen shelled edamame (green soybeans), thawed
3 tablespoons hoisin sauce

Combine 1/2 cup boiling water and mushrooms in a bowl; cover and let stand 15 minutes. Drain mushrooms in a sieve over a bowl, reserving soaking liquid. Remove and discard stems. Chop mushroom caps; set aside.

Bring 2 quarts water to a boil in a Dutch oven. Add greens, and cook for 1 minute or until greens wilt. Remove greens from water with a slotted spoon. Plunge the greens into ice water; drain and squeeze dry. Set greens aside.

Return water in pan to a boil. Add egg noodles, and cook for 2 minutes or until done. Drain and rinse with cold water, and drain well. Place noodles in a large bowl. Add 1 tablespoon soy sauce and sesame oil, tossing to coat, and set aside.

Heat canola oil in a wok or large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add ginger; stir-fry 5 seconds. Add mushrooms, bell pepper, onions, and garlic; stir-fry 2 minutes or until bell pepper is crisp-tender. Stir in greens and edamame; stir-fry 30 seconds. Stir in reserved mushroom soaking liquid, noodle mixture, remaining 3 tablespoons soy sauce, and hoisin sauce; cook 2 minutes or until thoroughly heated.

Yield: 6 servings (serving size: 1 1/3 cups)

CALORIES 339 (26% from fat); FAT 9.8g (sat 1g,mono 4.1g,poly 3.2g); PROTEIN 15.8g; CHOLESTEROL 0.0mg; CALCIUM 73mg; SODIUM 710mg; FIBER 4.9g; IRON 2.1mg; CARBOHYDRATE 47g

Cooking Light, MARCH 2007

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Chocolate Chip Irish Cream Pound Cake - Cooking Light, April 2007

Sometimes, a woman just wants some cake. And this weekend was one such an occasion. I got April's issue of Cooking Light, and was thrilled to see this new recipe. I've already made clear my love for the Irish Cream. I don't go much for liquers but I cannot pass up a nice glass of Baileys, either to drink or to bake with. So this recipe had my name all over it.

I did make a couple changes. I didn't have mini-chocolate chips so I used regular. When I make this cake again, I would either procure the mini-chips or WAY up the regular chocolate chip proportion. Quite honestly, a quarter of a cup of regular chips was nowhere near enough. Many slices didn't even have one solitary chip in them! And that's just wrong.

The last change I made was to whip up a quick glaze of confectioner's sugar and Baileys. I think I would do it again, as I think that extra touch of sweetness added to the cake. But it certainly isn't a necessity, so feel free to omit if that doesn't appeal. But if you enjoy Irish Cream liquer, or cake, you can not go wrong with this recipe. The creamy sweet interior coupled with a delightful buttery crust - it is an excellent recipe and one that will be repeated in this kitchen.

Chocolate Chip Irish Cream Pound Cake
Category Finalist, Desserts. "This cake is even better on the second day." --Anna Ginsberg, Austin, TX

1/4 cup semisweet chocolate minichips
1 teaspoon cake flour
2 3/4 cups cake flour (about 11 ounces)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup fat-free cream cheese, softened
10 tablespoon butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 large eggs
3/4 cup Irish cream liqueur
Baking spray with flour
2 tablespoons powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 325°.

Combine chocolate chips and 1 teaspoon flour in a small bowl; toss.

Lightly spoon 2 3/4 cups flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt.

Place cream cheese and butter in a bowl; beat with a mixer at high speed to blend. Add granulated sugar, brown sugar, and vanilla; beat until blended. Add eggs, 1 at a time; beat well after each addition. Beat on high speed 1 minute. With mixer on low, add flour mixture and liqueur alternately to sugar mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture; beat well after each addition. Fold in chocolate chips. Pour batter into a 12-cup Bundt pan coated with baking spray. Bake at 325° for 55 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes on a wire rack; remove from pan. Cool completely on wire rack. Sift powdered sugar over cake.

Yield: 16 servings (serving size: 1 slice)

CALORIES 308 (30% from fat); FAT 10.1g (sat 5.9g,mono 2.5g,poly 0.5g); PROTEIN 5g; CHOLESTEROL 59mg; CALCIUM 60mg; SODIUM 231mg; FIBER 0.6g; IRON 2.3mg; CARBOHYDRATE 48.9g

Cooking Light, APRIL 2007

Monday, March 26, 2007

Believe it or not there has been some cooking going on....

... and hopefully I'll have time to post the fruits of my labors later this week.

But first, I wanted to share one of my favorite snacks. It is simple, it is homely and for me it is the ultimate comfort food. I tend to go through popcorn kicks - I'll get it into my mind to make some and then keep making it over the span of a couple weeks. And then I won't make it again for months on end. Right now I think I've started a new kick. So there will be lots of corn a poppin' round here for the next few weeks.

I stopped making microwave popcorn after the whole trans-fat debacle. I'm not going to pretend I live a virtous trans-fat free life, however I do try to minimize wherever possible. And that seemed an easy place to cut it out. I do know there are trans-fat free brands, but one day I caught Michael Chiarello's Food Network show and watched him make it on the stove in a large pan. It blew me away. No fancy popcorn popper needed. Just a big pot with a lid, a cup of popcorn kernels and little bit of oil and voila! Enough popcorn to keep me snacking for several days. So that has become my modus operandi of late.

Here's my recipe:


1 cup popcorn kernels
1/4 cup oil (canola or other mild oil preferred)
salt to taste

Add oil to large pot (the size you would make a batch of soup in). Allow to heat to a gentle sizzle.
Add popcorn kernels and put lid on. Listen to sizzle, shaking occasionally. As popcorn begins to pop, continue to shake occcasionally.

When popcorn pops become more infrequent (several seconds pass between pops) turn off heat. Allow for final pops, and stir with a large spoon. Add salt or flavoring to taste (chili powder, grated cheese etc) and enjoy.

Yield - I find this proportion makes enough for two generous snacks on the spot plus four sandwich baggies stuffed to the brim for later.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Fontina and Mascarpone Baked Pasta

M. and I like to keep things low-key on Friday nights. We often find ourselves tired and unmotivated, and we typically just stay home and watch a Netflix. This week we branched out and had a few friends to dinner. I had the opportunity to visit a school during the day (in effect a sort-of day off) and thus was more motivated then our typical takeout Friday night fare.

Sometimes when you tinker with a recipe, things go great. This was not one of those times. I subbed rigatoni for penne and I think that altered the sauce to pasta ratio. I also rushed the thickening step in the sauce, so we were left with a thinner sauce with clumps of cheese on pasta that was a touch too big. Now, cheese is cheese and the dish was still good overall. But it wasn't as good as I wanted it to be. I will try again and repeat it in the future, with the appropriate ingredients and minus the rushing. After all, how can rich creamy cheesy pasta be wrong?

I forgot to photograph my version of the dish (which is probably a good thing) so I'll just borrow Cooking Light's!

Fontina and Mascarpone Baked Pasta

Cooking Light - November 2006

The nutty flavor of fontina and creaminess of mascarpone create a delicious updated version of mac and cheese. If your supermarket doesn't stock mascarpone cheese, substitute full-fat cream cheese. For a dinner party, bake the pasta in individual gratin dishes for 15 minutes.

1 pound uncooked penne
1/4 cup all-purpose flour (about 1 ounce)
3 cups fat-free milk
2 cups (8 ounces) shredded fontina cheese
1/4 cup (2 ounces) mascarpone cheese
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Cooking spray
3 (1-ounce) slices white bread
1 tablespoon butter
1 small garlic clove, minced
1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat. Drain; keep warm.

Preheat oven to 350°.

Lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife. Combine flour and milk in a large saucepan over medium heat, stirring with a whisk. Cook 10 minutes or until thick, stirring constantly with a whisk. Remove from heat; add cheeses, stirring with a whisk until smooth. Stir in salt and black pepper. Add cooked pasta, stirring to coat. Spoon pasta mixture into a 13 x 9-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray.

Tear bread into several pieces. Place bread in a food processor; process until fine crumbs measure 1 1/2 cups.

Melt butter in a small skillet over medium heat. Add garlic; cook 30 seconds. Remove from heat. Stir in breadcrumbs until well combined. Sprinkle breadcrumb mixture evenly over pasta mixture. Bake at 350° for 25 minutes or until bubbly. Sprinkle with parsley.

Yield: 8 servings (serving size: 1 1/4 cups)

CALORIES 423 (30% from fat); FAT 14.3g (sat 8.2g,mono 3.7g,poly 0.7g); PROTEIN 19.3g; CHOLESTEROL 46mg; CALCIUM 298mg; SODIUM 550mg; FIBER 2.1g; IRON 2.4mg; CARBOHYDRATE 54.6g

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Chocolate Decadence...

.. light!

As far as I'm concerned, a dessert cannot go wrong with chocolate. But I'm quite particular - chocolate and nuts usually will not do. Pure chocolate only need apply! Yep, I definitely have a sweet tooth, and am always looking for tasty ways to keep it in check. This lighter recipe is one way to fit the bill. Chocolatey, relatively easy to prepare and tasty enough to serve for company. Chocolate Decadence was still tasty despite my baker's error. - I think I undercooked it. Pizza stones are not supposed to affect baking times, but ours seems to. I followed the recipe anyways, and the cake came out quite moussey. Delicious, but more like chocolate mousse in the shape of a cake then the cake intended.

Oh well, I'll just have to make it again to get it right!

Chocolate Decadence

Cooking time: About 40 minutes
Prep time: About 25 minutes, plus at least 8 hours to chill
Notes: For longer storage, wrap airtight and chill 2 days or freeze up to 2 months.

Makes: 12 servings

5 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
2 large eggs
1 large egg white
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 cup plus 1/2 tablespoon unsweetened alkaline-treated (Dutch process) or regular cocoa
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2/3 cup plus 1/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup low-fat (1%) milk

1. Place oven rack in the lower third of the oven, and turn heat to 350 [degrees].

2. With a nonstick cooking spray, lightly coat inside rim of an 8-inch-wide, 1 1/2- to 2-inch-deep round cake pan. Line pan bottom with cooking parchment cut to fit.

3. Place chopped chocolate in a large bowl, and set aside.

4. Break 1 egg into a small bowl. Separate remaining egg. Put yolk with whole egg. Put white in a separate, larger bowl, and add the remaining egg white.

5. Add vanilla to the bowl with yolk. Add cream of tartar to egg whites.

6. Combine cocoa, flour, and 2/3 cup sugar in a 1 - to 1 1/2-quart pan. Mixing smoothly with a whisk, gradually add milk. Stir over medium heat until mixture simmers, about 6 minutes; don't scorch. Stir and cook 1 1/2 minutes longer, then pour hot mixture over chopped chocolate. Stir until the chocolate is completely melted and smooth. Whisk in whole egg and yolk mixture. Set aside.

7. Beat egg whites with cream of tartar at medium speed until whites hold soft peaks. Beating at high speed, gradually add the remaining 1/4 cup sugar, then beat until whites hold stiff but not dry peaks.

8. Stir 1/4 of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture, then gently fold in the remaining whites. Scrape batter into prepared cake pan, and smooth the top.

9. Set cake pan in another pan that is at least 2 inches wider and 2 inches deep. Set pans in oven. Fill outer pan with boiling water to 1/2 the depth of the cake pan. Bake just until center of cake springs back when very gently pressed - it will still be quite gooey inside - about 30 minutes.

10. Lift cake pan from water, and set on a rack to cool. When cake is cool to the touch, cover it with plastic wrap, and chill until thoroughly cold, at least 8 hours or up to 2 days.

11. To release cake, slide a thin knife between rim and cake. Cover pan with a sheet of waxed paper, then invert a flat plate onto paper. Hold pan and plate together and invert; shake gently, if needed, to loosen cake. If cake sticks to pan, place a hot, damp towel on pan bottom for a few minutes; then gently shake pan with plate. Remove pan. Peel off and discard parchment. Invert serving dish onto cake. Supporting with flat plate, turn cake over onto serving dish. Remove flat plate, and discard waxed paper.

12. Cut cake into Wedges with a thin, sharp knife, dipping blade in hot water and wiping clean between cuts. Garnish wedges with raspberries and meringue cream.

Per serving decadence: 153 cal., 34% (52 cal.) from fat; 3.4 g protein; 5.8 g fat (2.9 g sat.); 26 g carbo.; 50 mg sodium; 36 mg chol.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

"Veggie" Sausage Rolls

I've been vegetarian since age 14. Half of my life, actually. Wow, that's weird to say. Before I turned vegetarian, I loved an appetizer my mother would make for my parents' annual Boxing Day Party. Boxing Day is a holiday celebrated in England on the day after Christmas. According to Wikkipedia, there are many possible reasons for the holiday. I particularly like the tradition that Boxing Day was the day when you "boxed" a gift to give to the people who work for you all year long (for example the postman, milkman etc). You can read more here. But, for whatever reason, Boxing Day is the day we would hold our annual open house cocktail party. Since Americans don't celebrate Boxing Day, my parents found that the party was well attended and so the tradition continued throughout the years.

It wouldn't be Boxing Day without sausage rolls. My mother would cook up sausage, roll out puff pastry dough and line strips of dough with the sausage filling. Next, she would roll over the dough and seal with a little egg wash. The process was simple, quick and the yield made the recipe perfect for a cocktail party as many rolls could be quickly produced at one time. I decided to replicate this with "veggie" sausage filling for our Oscar party last week. It was a success, the rolls were easy to prepare and well received by a non-vegetarian crowd. I don't have a picture since my camera was still held hostage at school, but there's still a piece of puff pastry dough in the freezer - perhaps more rolls will be forthcoming in the weeks to come.

"Veggie" Sausage Rolls

My notes - I found one tube of "veggie sausage" was just about enough for one piece of puff pastry dough. I had a little bit of sausage stuffing left, but I was generous in my application of sausauge to the rolls.

1 roll of "Gimme Lean" or vegetarian sausage
1 piece of puff pastry dough, thawed (boxes typically contain 2 pieces)
1 egg

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Beat the egg in a small bowl and set aside.

Open sausage packet, and place in small bowl. Stir with a fork.

Unroll pastry. Roll into square/rectangle and cut into long strips about 2 inches wide.

Spread "sausage" down the center of one strip of puff pastry. Paint egg wash along edge of strip and roll over, pressing dry side of pastry into egg wash. Cut into small 1 inch sized pieces and place on cookie sheet. Brush top of pieces with egg wash. Repeat as necessary.

Bake for about 10-12 minutes or until golden brown. Enjoy!