Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Feeling Lazy These August Days....

The Veggie Kitchen has actually been producing some yummy things these days, and not by my hands. M. was inspired in the kitchen this past weekend. On Friday he created his own risotto, including creating a broth from garden picked oven roasted grape tomatoes. On Saturday he made butternut squash ravioli using a butternut squash from our garden, and making his own sheets of pasta. I sat back and revelled in not having to cook, and quite happily consumed his delicious results. But like a bad blogger, I neglected to take any pictures.

Scandalous, I know.

The other project that has kept me hopping these days is our current "Rescue the Stray Kittens Living in Our Yard" enterprise we've embarked on. When we moved to the apartment in May, we quickly learned that there were two stray cats who happen about the neighborhood. We've nicknamed them "Stripey" and "Orange", which were our very original attempts at naming them based on their appearances. In late May, we learned that Stripey had a litter of kittens in the yard next door. We were concerned for them, but since it was not our yard we couldn't get to the kittens.

Fast forward to August. All five kittens began hanging out in our yard. We actually think some of them were living in our garden, having gotten in but being too small to climb the wall to get back out. M. has taken up kitten catching, and has successfully captured 4 of the 5 kittens through a variety of means including dumb luck in grabbing one as it ran by, cartoonish traps involving laundry baskets and other creative kitten catching methods.

We have decided to keep one kitten as a companion for Helios (the one pictured at the left and below). They remain unintroduced as the kitten we've chosen had an upper respiratory infection and is currently on antibiotics. Once the antibiotics course is completed, then he can do all the feline leukemia testing necessary to make sure he's safe to introduce to Helios. He's also unnamed at the present. Artemis was a strong contender (until it was realized that the mythological character was female). I am partial to Ezra, but M. prefers Soma. Meanwhile - he remains kitten. He's absolutely adorable, but with him sequestered upstairs, his three siblings sequestered downstairs and Helios running around in between - it's been a little crazy here in Brooklyn. Three litter boxes, five cats needing feeding, one kitten needing twice daily antibiotics .... blogging time has been limited.

Hang in there though - we've decided we MUST give the three siblings to a shelter this weekend if we can't find a home for them. So, hopefully (although we will be sad to say good-bye to the cute little kittens) life will become a bit more normal next week.
How cute am I?

Friday, August 17, 2007

Quinoa, Corn, and Tomato Salad with PARSLEY-Infused Oil, CL August 2007

I have a very good memory. I tend not to use things like calendars, and can usually keep things in my head until I need them. I usually remember things like dentist appointments months in advance, whether we're out of milk or cat food and when going to a grocery store to buy things for a recipe I can USUALLY remember them.

You know what's coming, don't you? Oh how the mighty fall when they become too confident.

Yes, last week I was all ready to make Quinoa, Corn, and Tomato Salad with Chive-Infused Oil from August's Cooking Light. Went to the grocery store, came home and was halfway through the recipe when I realized - I'd forgotten chives. Ooops. Typically I prefer to make recipes as written the first time through. That clearly was not going to work in this case. So, I grabbed a bunch of parsley which I DID remember to buy and made a couple changes to the recipe.

The results were delightful. This was an excellent salad - M. is particularly fond of quinoa so he was happy and I loved the PARSLEY (not chive) taste that came through from the infused oil. The oil was an additional step, but it really makes the salad and certainly wasn't hard to make. I wouldn't use a purchased equivalent - it really needs to be fresh to add that tangy essence to the salad. Any salad containing fresh corn, tomato and herbs is a winner, especially in the summer. The salad was a hit, so please don't judge it by the picture taken outside at night (as it really doesn't do it justice). I was actually inspired by this salad to create my own Mexican knock-off a few days later (which will be forthcoming on this blog). After all, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.....

Quinoa, Corn and Tomato Salad with Chive-Infused Oil
Cooking Light Magazine
August, 2007

Cooking Light's notes - Brightly colored flavored oil coats the quinoa grains and lends the salad fresh chive flavor. Refrigerate leftover oil to use as a dressing to drizzle over grilled fish or summer vegetables. Garnish with whole fresh chives, if desired

My notes - If, like me, you forget chives, take comfort in the fact that this salad works equally well with parsley. And most likely basil as well, although that combination has not yet been confirmed.

1 1/2 cups water
1 cup uncooked quinoa
1 cup fresh corn kernels (about 2 ears)
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 tablespoons Chive-Infused Oil
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 garlic clove, minced

Combine 1 1/2 cups water and quinoa in a medium saucepan; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes or until liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat; let stand 10 minutes. Fluff with a fork.

Combine quinoa, corn, tomatoes, and parsley in a medium bowl. Combine Chive-Infused Oil and remaining ingredients, stirring with a whisk. Drizzle over salad; toss well to coat. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

6 servings - each serving size 2/3 cup

CALORIES 179(34% from fat); FAT 6.7g (sat 0.7g,mono 4.1g,poly 1.3g); PROTEIN 5.2g; CHOLESTEROL 0.0mg; CALCIUM 20mg; SODIUM 145mg; FIBER 2.4g; IRON 2.2mg; CARBOHYDRATE 26.1g

Chive Infused Oil

cup extravirgin olive oil
1/2 cup (1-inch) slices fresh chives
1/2 teaspoon salt

Place all ingredients in a blender; pulse 6 times or until chives are very finely minced. Strain mixture through a fine sieve into a bowl, and discard solids. Store in refrigerator in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.

3/4 cup (serving size: 1 1/2 teaspoons)

CALORIES 63(100% from fat); FAT 7g (sat 1g,mono 5.4g,poly 0.6g); PROTEIN 0.0g; CHOLESTEROL 0.0mg; CALCIUM 0.0mg; SODIUM 49mg; FIBER 0.0g; IRON 0.0mg; CARBOHYDRATE 0.0g

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Mixed Greens and Nectarine salad....

...in the night. This recipe caught my eye when reading this month's Cooking Light, so I just had to try it. What wasn't to love? Nectarines, mixed greens and a sweet but tangy vinaigrette mixed at home. Sounded wonderful to me.

This salad couldn't be simpler. Nothing to chop except one juicy nectarine. Nothing to prepare except the dressing, which, once prepared will keep for days in the fridge to make future replications easy to assemble. And the only ingredient I had to purchase was a bottle of walnut oil. Since originally making this salad on Sunday evening, I have replicated it several times. I really like the sweetness of the tangy vinaigrette, and recommend tossing the nectarines and greens in a separate bowl before plating to get the fullest effect of the dressing. Simply pouring a bit on will not do.

Mixed Greens and Nectarine Salad
Cooking Light, August 2007

This simple salad pairs juicy nectarines with a vinaigrette featuring walnut oil. For a delicious fall salad, substitute sliced pears or apples.


cups gourmet salad greens
1/4 cup walnut oil vinaigrette (see below)
cups thinly sliced nectarines (about 2)


Place greens and nectarines in a large bowl. Drizzle with Walnut Oil Vinaigrette; toss gently to coat.


4 servings (serving size: about 1 cup)

Nutritional Information

CALORIES 83(31% from fat); FAT 2.9g (sat 0.3g,mono 0.6g,poly 1.8g); PROTEIN 1.5g; CHOLESTEROL 0.0mg; CALCIUM 31mg; SODIUM 132mg; FIBER 1.7g; IRON 1mg; CARBOHYDRATE 14.1g

Walnut Oil Vinaigrette

This dressing goes with the Mixed Greens and Nectarine salad.


1/4 cup red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons minced shallots
2 tablespoons walnut oil
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Combine all ingredients, stirring with a whisk. Store in refrigerator for up to 1 week.


2/3 cup (serving size: about 1 tablespoon)

Nutritional Information
CALORIES 39(62% from fat); FAT 2.7g (sat 0.3g,mono 0.6g,poly 1.7g); PROTEIN 0.1g; CHOLESTEROL 0.0mg; CALCIUM 1mg; SODIUM 118mg; FIBER 0.0g; IRON 0.1mg; CARBOHYDRATE 4g

Friday, August 03, 2007

The "BEST" chocolate chip cookies...

... that I've come across lately. I actually made these weeks ago, and have been meaning to post them for a while. Still, no time like the present!

This recipe comes from Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan which is fast becoming one of my favorite baking resources. Every recipe I've tried has turned out well, and this one is no exception. When I make chocolate chip cookies (which are my absolute favorite and therefore must be distributed as quickly as possible), I usually send some into M.'s office, keep a few around the house for us and freeze some dough balls for quick cookie fixes. I simply prepare a tray as though it were going into the oven, pop it into the freezer instead and then put the dough (once frozen) into a freezer bag or container. Then homemade cookies are only a few moments away! The dough can go into a hot oven frozen, but may require a few extra moments to cook. I'm almost out of my supply... perhaps it will be time to make these cookies again soon. :)

My Best Chocolate Chip Cookies (meaning Dorie Greenspan's best, although I agree)
Makes about 45 cookies

Dorie's notes -
In the category of "Great Chocolate Chip Cookies" these get my vote for the greatest. They are Toll House Cookies' kin, but I think my nips, tucks, tweaks and variation on the basic recipe make them their own kind of wonderful. They're thin and crisp and a bit chewy in the center from just the right mix of sugars - granulated sugar for crispiness and brown sugar for deep caramel flavor.

My notes -
I add an additional step to the recipe, and I freeze the cookie dough after mixing is completed. I find this helps the cookies gain height, and not run into each other as much. I just pop the mixing bowl into the freezer for about 20 minutes or so to chill, and return it between batches. I also just used regular chocolate chips and left out the walnuts due to personal taste. I also was quite lazy about cooling the racks between batches, and the results were still delicious.

2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt (1 1/4 if you really like salt)
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
2 sticks (8oz) unsalted butter at room temperature
1 cup sugar
2/3 cup (packed) light brown sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla
2 large eggs
12 oz bittersweet chocolate chpped into chips, or 2 cups store bought chocolate chips
1 cup finely chopped walnuts or pecans (I omitted)

Center a rack in the oven and preheat to 375 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment or silicone baking mats.

Whisk flour, salt and baking soda.

Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter on medium speed for 1 minute or until smooth. Add sugars and beat for another 2 minutes or so until well blended. Beat in the vanilla. Add the eggs one at a time, beating for one minute or so between each egg.

Reduce speed to low, and add dry ingredients in three portions, mixing only until each addition is incorporated. On low speed or by hand, mix in chocolate and nuts.

(The dough can be covered and refrigerated for up to three days, or frozen. Dough can also be frozen in mounds as discussed above in my notes)

Spoon the dough by slightly rounded tablespoonfuls onto the baking sheets, leaving about 2 inches between spoonfuls.

Bake cookies one sheet at a time, rotating at the midway point, for 10-12 minutes or until brown at edges and golden in the center. They may be soft in the middle, and that's just fine. Pull the sheet from the oven, and allow cookies to rest for one minute. Then carefully transfer with a wide metal spatula to racks to cool to room temperature. Repeat with remainder of dough, cooling the sheets between batches.