Sunday, January 19, 2014

Wonderbag and Socially Conscious Cooking

A dear friend brought a new product to my attention recently that has really gotten me thinking. For years I've lived without a slow cooker. I've pondered one because I spend so much kitchen cooking time using my slow oven. I would be a good user for an AGA that stays lit all year round. Well, perhaps not truly- I could end up implementing my best sailor curses at a cooker that doesn't have any controls or knobs. I like controls and settings.

A picture by my son depicting an "egg making farm" (non sequitor noted)
But I digress. Last summer we bought a kamado grill so that I could do long slow roasts after we grilled and then we would dine regally all week on rumps and roasts. It worked out beautifully. Well, until the rains started and my willingness to cook outside waned. I would have made a terrible cavewoman. So back to running the oven for hours on end at 250°.

Then the Wonderbag came on my radar, thanks to another post made by my sweet friend Zakiyah. It's such an elegant solution to the low and slow power suck. Hopefully. Mine comes in the mail sometime early next week. I'm not sure when it's twin will arrive at the doorstep of the family in Africa they send concurrently. I hope that I can make luscious dinners without power. I hope that it helps that other family. I hope we all have full bellies and happy hearts.

More soon!

A divine meal at Artusi and dePuy lentil ideas for a friend

It's been far too long since my last post. No good excuses, except that perhaps I was too busy eating.

This past weekend we finally made it to Artusi in lovely Capitol Hill. I think of all the meals we have missed only having just caught up with them... such a shame. So I plan to make up for lost time and eat there often. 
Several dishes we had inspired me to rush home and figure them out. One bit of perfection was the Steelhead Conserva with Salsa Apicius and pickled green peppercorns. If I have tasted it before ordering I would have asked for two or five. I could eat this dish until my stomach burst...

I was also inspired by the shaved cauliflower with burdock, which doesn't sound like much but I am always keen to see what restaurants do with veggies. They have tossed the pretty little crucifer with colatura, toasted pinenuts, shaved parmesan & Pinot Grigio vinegar. I did almost exactly the same at home, using my trusty bottle of Nam Pla instead of the colatura and trading the Pinot Grigio vinegar for my prized Moscatel vinegar (sourced at The Pantry at Delancey. I put it on everything). I may drive my husband through the roof with this dish, because I plan on making it a staple in our house because it's so virtuous and incredibly flavorful.

dePuy Lentils

My friend Lisa asked me recently about how I cook my lentils because she was looking for ideas and I think like most home cooks, they're a bit of a mystery to her. I've shared my recipe verbally so many times over the years, it's seems like it's time to write it down... the trick is steaming the little bean. But I get ahead of myself.

Lentils with anything
Serves 4

1 cup lentils, soaked in water for 3 hours or more
2 T olive oil
1T balsamic vinegar
1 leek or 2 shallots, cut into a chiffonade

optional ingredients:
roasted red peppers, feta, fried eggplant, herbs, fava leaves (if you can find them!), braised escarole...

Teff Waffles and the Beauty of the Kitchen Mistake

This is a recipe born out of a kitchen mistake. I make many but, considering the volume of cooking I turn out every day, they're to be expected. And they delight me when they produce a good recipe or prove a bit of the culinary chemistry. Learning moments.

I have recently fallen head over heels for a website/brand/recipe source called Food52. Man, do they know how to woo an impressionable gal like me with recipes while they secretly sell me more items for my ever expanding kitchen.

To prattle on a bit longer, the mistake all began when my dear friend Zakiyah posted about chia seeds on that social network. Until then, I had written off this gardening matter as a fad food and not worth investigation or mastication. Then I thought, what the heck, her other friends seemed to rally behind this humble seed, so I should make some and find out if they appeal to me.

Food52 provided me with a tidy little recipe which started with making almond milk and involved plenty of overnight soaking, which is seriously one of my favorite things. So I was very happy.
Now for the accident. Or maybe we could just call it a very dumb moment. I used whole teff instead of chia seeds. In my defense, I do have a very full pantry, I shop in many stores, in many bulk areas and hard as I try to canister and label everything up... well, I have a lot of unlabeled bags floating around. Compound that with my unfamiliarity with chia seed and it's an understandable mistake. One which, erm, took me almost 12 hours to figure out.
Teff on the left, chia on the right. Not exactly twins...

So I drained off the thick liquid meant to hydrate the chia seeds and plump them into slightly crunchy tapioca goodness. I hate throwing any food away that could be useful so I kept the teff blob thinking I'd make a pudding or a stew with spices so strong the blueberry would be masked. But no need! The magic fridge yielded many nice waffle ingredients- whey, almond meal leftover from the almond milk, lovely treacle-like syrup (I couldn't tell you the name but my crafty friend Sara begged some off of the chef at Wandering Goose)...

Here's the recipe. It's lovely. I don't know if soaking the teff for 24+ hours made a difference. I doubt it. If you're someone who makes nut milks this should be a good use for your nut meal. And it's accidentally vegan. This yields 8 waffles in my handy dandy Presto Flipside waffle maker (which I love love love- all other waffles irons be damned).

1 quart whey (buttermilk/water or yogurt/water can be substituted)
meal from 1 cup almonds (leftover from almond milk production)
1 cup teff
4 T Lyle's Golden Syrup, maple syrup, treacle (not dark)
2 eggs, beaten slightly
1/2 - 1 cup canola oil (your call on how wet you like your waffles)
3 1/2 cups flour
4 t baking powder
2 t baking soda
1 t maldon sea salt or 1 1/2 t kosher

Preheat your waffle iron.
Mix all of your liquids together. In a big bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients. Then pour in the liquid mixture and whisk until combined.
I use a 1 cup measure with a pouring spout for my waffles. My little flipside pal fills perfectly with one cup of batter and it makes the process a lot less messy than pouring out of a big bowl.
They should cook in 3 minutes.
The boys loved them with maple syrup and I had mine au natural.

Oh, and as a side note. I did make the chia seed tapioca and it was really good. I'm completely fascinated by these little seeds now. Thinking up new ways to use them, like this cocktail I made in LA with hydrated basil seeds...
The Frogspawn