Monday, June 25, 2012

Mixed Grill with Herb Sauce

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Nothing screams summer for us more than a big dinner of mixed grilled vegetables.  We enjoy these dinners all summer long and look forward to the changing produce that we can use.  This weeks food matters project recipe, chosen by Lexi, was just what we needed to kick off the summer.

In our current apartment we don't have a grill but do have a George Forman (thought they were just for burgers??) which isn't exactly the same but does create a good char.  This week at the farmers market we found zucchini, eggplant, peppers, green onions, and local herbed tofu.

Our trick to make this dish consistently good is to coat all of the vegetables in olive oil, salt, and pepper prior to grilling, then cooking at a very high heat so the outside of vegetables char (but make sure the vegetables are cooked through and tender).  Bittman's suggestion of topping the veggies with a chimichurri sauce (herbs, oil, vinegar, garlic, red pepper flakes - all pureed together) was perfect for this meal.

Get out to your local market and take advantage of the first summer vegetables by letting them shine in this dish!

To see Bittman's recipe for chimichurri visit Lexi's Kitchen.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Date "Brownies"

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We were inspired by this weeks food matters project recipe, Chocolate-Cherry Panini, to remake a dessert we made once last year but never posted.  Bittman's recipe, which combined chocolate and fruit,  is a similar flavor combination to these raw brownies.  Using dates in a recipe like this makes for moist and chewy desserts, without using eggs, oil, or butter.

We love that this dessert is satisfying but also healthy and can be easily adapted for whatever you are in the mood for.  You can also adapt the shape however you please - from truffles, to brownies, to mini cupcakes.

Pick up some dates (pitted is easiest) and give this unique recipe a try next time your in the mood for something chocolatey and sweet.

Date "Brownies"

2 handfuls dates, pitted and roughly chopped
1 handful nuts (walnuts, almonds, pistachios, cashews, etc.)
1/4 - 1/2 cup coco powder
Pinch of salt

Any of the following:
Chopped nuts
Peanut butter
Powdered sugar
Cayenne or chili powder
Lemon or orange zest

Pulse all ingredients in food processor until finely chopped and easily malleable.  Stir in larger pieces of nuts, if using.  Press mixture into round balls (for truffles), a baking dish (for brownies), or mini-cupcake molds (for cupcakes).  Dust with coco powder or powdered sugar or roll in nuts, coconut, or powders.  Refrigerate until hardened, at least 2 hours.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Chickpea Fritters in Spiced Tomato Sauce

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This week we experienced the true essence of the food matters project - we cooked a meal that was totally random and that we wouldn't have tried otherwise.  Lena chose Braised Chickpea Fritters and Vegetables from Mark Bittman's Food Matters Cookbook and we stuck pretty close to the original recipe.

We are huge falafel fans (see here and here) and we were intrigued by trying chickpea fritters in a new context.  The fritters were very similar to falafel - soaked chickpeas with herbs and spices ground into a coarse paste and then fried.  However, when paired with an Ethiopian-spiced tomato sauce they tasted completely different.  

The tomato sauce (part canned tomatoes part homemade marinara canned in the fall) was filled with ginger, garlic, onions, turmeric, cardamom, cinnamon, and allspice.  We added diced potatoes for extra heartiness but omitted the chard that Bittman calls for.  Instead we served a cabbage and kohlrabi slaw made from our share of our newly-joined CSA. 

Click over to Mrs. Garlic Head for Bittman's complete recipe and spice up your night with this unique meal!

Monday, June 4, 2012

Baked Penne with Tomato and Cheese

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Another Monday and another great food matters project meal.  This weeks recipe, Savory Tomato Crisp, was chosen by Nicole and sounded delicious.  Unfortunately, though, we are not quite into tomato season here in Virginia and thus decided to change it up a bit.

We turned this side dish into a full meal by layering fresh tomatoes (grown hydroponically locally) with whole wheat pasta and a creamy cheese sauce.  We topped it off with bread crumbs and feta cheese, then baked it in the oven until golden brown.

The tomatoes not only added great freshness to this dish, but also added moisture, which is often missing in baked macaroni and cheeses.  We used a mild cheese for the sauce, so using feta on top added a nice tang to the dish.  Feel free though to use any cheese you like or have on hand.

Enjoy this dish as a comforting dinner if tomatoes aren't quite ready in your area.  Once tomatoes are readily available, check out Giving Table for Bittman's original recipe.