Tag Archives: DIY

Soft Rye Pretzels

Let’s start with this: I’m not at all above feeding my kids a box of mac and cheese, or declaring that it’s leftover night and wishing everyone good luck, or piling us all into the car to go out for ramen.  But I do try to make dinner for my family with some frequency.

Do you know this nice blog called “Dinner: A Love Story“?  I was just introduced to it recently.  It’s all about feeding your family dinner every night and of course they have a new cookbook (who doesn’t these days?), apparently full of recipes and strategies for feeding a family of picky eaters without going crazy.  I should probably get that cookbook.

But in the meantime I thought I’d share a tip of my own.  One of the ways in which I manage to get dinner on the table on a regular basis is by using the term “dinner” fairly loosely.  Some examples: breakfast for dinner?  Sure.  Sandwiches?  If necessary.  Tonight’s dinner?  These pretzels.  The girls gleefully chose their own dips (peanut butter, rhubarb jam, and applesauce), and the grown-ups had theirs with a sweet grainy mustard.  I made a pot of that great turnip soup soup as well, but it was certainly the accompaniment to the pretzels and not the other way around.It’s a little time-consuming to make pretzels (you boil these in a baking-soda bath in addition to letting them rise twice), but it was a fun project to do with the girls and the resulting pretzels were very good.  They have just the right combination of crispy bottom and chewy center, with a little tang that I assumed was from the rye flour, but Kim Boyce tells me is from the baking soda instead.  This recipe is adapted from Boyce’s Good to the Grain cookbook, which I want to cook from front to back after having started with those Rhubarb-Strawberry Cornmeal Tarts recently.

There’s a great-looking recipe for graham crackers, do you think I’ll be able to get away with calling those dinner? Continue reading Soft Rye Pretzels (click for recipe)

Aloo Gobi: Indian-Spiced Potatoes, Cauliflower, and Peas

What is your super power in the kitchen?

I usually joke that mine is the ability to cook when it’s messy (it’s always messy), but in truth I think it’s that I like to eat.  So as I cook, I ask myself, does this taste good? What would make it better? Do I want a finely chopped vegetable here, or big chunks?  This description makes my cooking sound more planned-out than it usually is, but I just mean that these are the things that go through my head on the fly.  I believe that constantly thinking about the end product and tasting occasionally as I go increase my chances of producing something delicious.  (There are plenty of failures too, of course–I’ve been thinking lately that I should start taking pictures of those as well for an Emmy Cooks bloopers reel.)

But this ability to envision the eventual dish fails me when it comes to cuisines that I am less comfortable cooking.  Indian food falls into this category, which is why I appreciate starting with a good recipe that will rely less on my intuition and more on my ability to follow directions.  So mostly I stick to recipes from Vij’s At Home.  But dazzled by the success of that saag paneer I keep making (thank you, Kolpona Cuisine!), I decided to branch out to this aloo gobi recipe from the gorgeous vegan blog v:gourmet.  I followed the recipe exactly, except for the splash of cream I added at the end.  What can I say?  My super power told me to.

This dish plus the saag paneer and rice make a respectable Indian-themed feast for company.  And whether or not you’re making multiple dishes, consider making this one a day ahead.  The flavor was even better the following day. Continue reading Aloo Gobi: Indian-Spiced Potatoes, Cauliflower, and Peas (click for recipe)

Potato and Rosemary Foccacia with (or without) Black Garlic

Have you ever heard of black garlic?  I hadn’t until last week, when I happened across a small new bin tucked in with the mushrooms at my local co-op.  The sign said “fermented black garlic.”  What?  The employees in the produce section were enthusiastic in recommending it but vague about exactly what it was.  It looked like garlic, but was slightly collapsed and shrunken, and smelled like a sweet, lightly garlic-flavored soy sauce.  It smelled good.  Into my basket it went. Later I found that wikipedia link above and determined that I had purchased either a traditional Asian ingredient or a new-fangled food entrepreneur’s invention from California, or maybe some combination (see here for the California producer’s description of how the “magic” fermentation process occurs “behind the closed doors of our patented machine”).  Apparently this stuff is all umami and antioxidants and a darling of the food cognoscenti, of which group I am not a member, so that explains why I had never heard of it.

Finding a new vegetable is a big deal for a serious eater.  A new taste experience on the horizon!  I started researching how to make the most of my intriguing head of garlic.  In the end, I didn’t find a recipe that called to me, so I adapted a potato and rosemary focaccia recipe from Food and Wine, which had in turn adapted it from a Daniel Boulud recipe.

I made two medium-sized focaccias, and I used half a head of black garlic to flavor one of them.  I roasted thinly-sliced potatoes with olive oil, rosemary, and a couple of minced cloves of black garlic, then I layered more sliced cloves of black garlic onto the potato-topped bread before baking it.  I was a little worried that I might have overdone it with all that garlic.  (The other focaccia was topped only with rosemary-roasted potato slices as a delicious control group.)So hey, it’s good bread.  But the garlic flavor is quite mild, and in my opinion the black garlic’s flavor, at least as I prepared it, doesn’t live up to the bold promise of its alluring scent and striking appearance.  But I like strong flavors, and the unexpectedly delicate garlic flavor may be a plus in your book rather than a disappointment.  In any case, the midnight-black cloves certainly lend dramatic flair.

Here’s the important question: what should I do with the remaining cloves of black garlic?  Have you used it in a preparation that you liked?  Do you have some off-the-wall inspiration to share?  I’ll give it another go.

Continue reading Potato and Rosemary Foccacia with (or without) Black Garlic (click for recipe)

Green Tartine, or, Radish Top Toast

I spent a very nice year in Denmark once upon a time. (Yes, I can still remember how to say about two things in Danish.) The country has many charming aspects, one of which is the fine tradition of making a meal out of good things piled on top of bread.

Recently, a similar movement seems to be gaining steam here in the U.S. as well, except that we toast our bread first. I think of the evolution this way: bruschetta (1980’s), crostini (1990’s), toasts (aughts), tartines (isn’t that what we call them now?). Or maybe there’s some other difference, I don’t know. Anyway, here’s a nice way to get away with eating melty cheese on toast for dinner. My friend Daisy at Coolcookstyle made it up by substituting radish greens for nettles in a Nigel Slater rarebit recipe, and I say it was a wise decision. You can swap the greens, swap the cheese, or vary the mustard, of course: the only two essential ingredients are bread and something delicious to put on top of it. Continue reading Green Tartine, or, Radish Top Toast (click for recipe)

My Favorite Recipes: May 2012

Have you liked emmycooks.com on Facebook yet?  If so, I have one more request for you.  If not, now’s the time!  Here’s the step by step: visit the emmycooks.com Facebook page.  Click the “Like” button.  Wait, you’re not done yet!  Now hover over the button (which now says “Liked”) and select the “Show In News Feed” option.  There.  Now the daily recipe should appear in your Facebook feed.

Alternatively, you can sign up right here to receive our daily recipe via email.  (See the link over there on the right sidebar?)  Or you can add www.emmycooks.com to your favorite RSS reader.  Or just come back and see us now and again, that’s nice too.

Finally, before we get to the good stuff, there’s something that’s been bothering me.  Since you are discerning readers, I imagine that it’s been bothering you as well.  It’s this “emmycooks” business.  See, when I started this blog I wasn’t really thinking about giving it a name, I just popped that in as the URL and copied it as the blog’s title.  But oh! The improper capitalization.  And the unnecessary runningtogether of two words.  I apologize if this has been grating on you each time you visit this site, and I hereby unveil this blog’s dramatic new name: Emmy Cooks.  Phew.  Don’t we all feel better now?

Baked Chard Stems with Tomato, Garlic, and Parmesan
Indian-Spiced Kale and Paneer
Buckwheat Soba Salad with Spicy Almond Sauce
Butternut Squash Tacos with Chipotle and Feta
Hazelnut Baked Pears
And last but not least, the readers’ favorite: Roll-Your-Own Vegetarian Brown Rice Sushi

It’s been a delicious month!  Thank you for reading and cooking along with me.  I love all the great ideas and thoughts you share in the comments.  I can’t always keep up with them, but I’ll do my best to at least answer questions as I see them come in.  Here’s to another delicious month together!

French Lentil Cakes with Yogurt and Fresh Herbs

As promised, we are using up leftover lentils today.  No leftover lentils?  Go start a pot of the little French ones now.  Cover a cup of them with water, toss in a bay leaf, they’ll be ready before your remaining ingredients are chopped.  Which brings us to the next point: this is a more time-consuming recipe than most that I post on this site.  You may not want to start cooking these at 6 p.m. on a weekday–but then again, you might.  Who am I to insist that you eat before 7?

If you’re looking for a “center of the plate” vegetarian main course, look no further.  One or two of these golden cakes, anointed with a dollop of herby yogurt sauce, makes an elegant entree.  At the same time, nobody could blame you for popping one of these into a hamburger bun and piling it with crunchy lettuce and tomatoes.  The perfect vegetarian burger is an elusive thing, but these fit the bill: flavorful, moist, and sturdy enough to pick up in your hand.

This recipe is adapted from the blog Coconut and Quinoa, so all the credit goes to Amy for the little touches that make this recipe work: mashed chickpeas and oat flour to bind the patties without egg, a sauteed grated zucchini for moisture, and piles of herbs, capers, and a spash of balsamic vinegar to brighten and enhance the flavor of the earthy lentils.

Continue reading French Lentil Cakes with Yogurt and Fresh Herbs (click for recipe)

How to Cook a Simple Pot of Lentils

I like how one good thing becomes another. An easy quinoa dish becomes savory little herbed quinoa cakes.  Leftover risotto fills chard rolls.  A pot of black beans leads to chilaquiles and taco salads and all kinds of deliciousness.  What I’m saying is this: make more lentils than you plan to eat in one go.  We’ll be doing something good with the leftovers tomorrow.

This recipe will work for all the lentil varieties I can think of except for red lentils, which tend to cook into a mush rather than holding their shape.  You can eat them alone or with rice, use them in a lentil salad, or serve them as a side dish.  They’re great under or alongside a simple roasted piece of fish (or probably chicken, although I’m no authority on that point).

There are two secret ingredients at play here that make this lentil preparation so delicious: the lentils themselves, which have a sweet, earthy flavor, and salt.  A splash of vinegar at the end doesn’t hurt, either. If you have a carrot and a stalk or celery, great, toss them in.  If not, don’t fret, just go ahead without them.

Personally, my favorite lentils are the tiny green French Le Puy lentils or the equally-tiny black Beluga lentils.  This recipe works equally well with a run-of-the-mill supermarket brown or green lentil, however.  Whichever kind you choose, just be sure to keep an eye out for tiny rocks or dirt clods as you pour them into a colander, then rinse them well before cooking. Continue reading How to Cook a Simple Pot of Lentils (click for recipe)

A Gardener’s Garden Salad for Springtime

I love green salads.  A crisp, lemony romaine salad?  Smoked salmon and tomatoes nestled into creamy, dill-dressed greens?  An arugula salad with grilled potatoes and blue cheese?  Yes, please.

You know what I don’t love?  The ubiquitous “garden salad” on restaurant menus.  You know the one: wilted (if not decaying) “spring mix,” a few grated carrots, hard cherry tomatoes.  That’s it.  It’s bound to be a disapointment to anyone who’s ever seen an actual garden.

I’m out to redeem the name.  This is a gardener’s garden salad.  Luckily, you can also put together a reasonable version of it if you have access to a farmer’s market, or if you have a few herbs growing on your windowsill and the good sense to buy a gorgeous, tender head of lettuce.

It’s easy to get complacent about the garden when you live in Seattle.  It rains, then it’s sunny, then it rains, so I tend to assume that everything is going ok out there without me.  Today was the first day in a while that I really poked around, and I was pleased to find that it’s time to start making salads that grew in the backyard.  (You may be lucky enough to live in a climate where your garden and farmers market have advanced beyond arugula and radishes.  Rest assured, it’s never too late to make a great salad.)

The basic equation is this: some lettuce or baby kale, some soft herbs, some edible flowers, and a light coating of chive vinaigrette.  Beyond that, it’s up to you.  Today, our salad was baby leaves of lettuce, arugula, kale, and ruby chard, a few sorrel leaves cut into ribbons, parsley, cilantro, arugula flowers, kale flowers, chive flowers, and a couple of sliced radishes.  Tomorrow, who knows?

Continue reading A Gardener’s Garden Salad for Springtime (click for recipe)

Rosemary Candied Pecans

This will be brief because it’s J’s birthday and I still have presents to wrap.  But the cakes (yes, cakes!) are baked, the birthday granola (by special request) is cooling, and we’re ready to celebrate another sunny day and wonderful year together.

Whatever you’re celebrating this weekend, this is the season for enjoying the sunshine and hanging out with friends, and where there are friends hanging out, there are bound to be snacks.  These pecans are sweet and snappy, with a little something special from the fragrant woodsy rosemary.  (I won’t tell anyone if you hide a few away in your cupboard to throw in a spinach salad with strawberries and goat cheese later this week.  In fact, I’m going to go do that now.)  The recipe below is a happy love child of this one and my favorite olive oil granola

Continue reading Rosemary Candied Pecans (click for recipe)

Whole Wheat Yogurt Sandwich Bread, or, Why We Still Have a Breadmaker

There was a period in my life when I had three or four breadmakers.  All used, of course, as a breadmaker is the sort of appliance that seems to wander around in search of a home.  You probably know a couple people trying to give away bread machines they got for their wedding 15 years ago and never used, and they’re always on Craig’s List for $5, and they carom around on Freecycle like nobody’s business.

So anyway, a few years ago I somehow came into possession of a breadmaker.  I hadn’t used one in years.  I used it once or twice with, you know, breadmaker-type results, and then it broke.  Suddenly I keenly felt its absence.  I couldn’t find the same model so I got a different one, and then I did find the same model so I got that too, and maybe I even got a third before I came to my senses, discarded the broken one, and gave the surplus breadmakers away.  Phew.

I will say this for my breadmaker: it makes a reliable whole wheat sandwich bread when we run out of the store-bought stuff.  And what else do I want it for, really?  I usually buy 100% whole grain sandwich bread because I have not found a 100% whole wheat recipe that works in my breadmaker.  (Do you have one?  Please, please share!)  This recipe, straight from the Breadman manual, has been my go-to breadmaker loaf for years.  It is moist with a sturdy crumb and a nice crust and it slices just right for sandwiches.  You can get it going the night before and have a hot loaf waiting in the morning.  It’s worth keeping a breadmaker around for (but just one).

Continue Reading Whole Wheat Yogurt Sandwich Bread (click for recipe)