Posts Tagged milchik

Beet Pot Pie

I think I was overexposed to certain things as a child. Things like ponies and precious little heart-shaped objects and anything pink.

I hate pink. Pink is for little girls and Valentine’s Day cards and Pepto Bismol commercials. It is very rarely allowed to invade my home.

Obviously there’s an exception clause for food. Raspberry tarts and curds, salmon poached in red wine, and anything made with beets can’t help but be pink. If the flavor is assertive enough, I’ll forgive my dinner for looking a bit girlish and twee.

This definitely makes the cut.

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Beets and goat cheese really should never be separated. Puree the two together, bake them in a crust, and you’ve got a delightfully filling vegetarian meal. It is also the most brightly colored pot pie you’ve ever seen.

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The filling and crust can just as easily be made in a 9″ tart or pie tin. I enjoy the deep dish ramekins, but mostly because they provide an excuse to dig in with a spoon.

Ingredients

For the crust:

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1 1/4 cups flour

1 t salt

1/4 t white pepper

1/4 t nutmeg

8 T (1 stick) cold butter

3 T ice water

For the filling:

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3 medium beets

4 oz goat cheese

1 egg

1/4 cup cream

1/4 t white pepper

1/4 t nutmeg

salt, to taste

Directions

First, roast the beets. Rub them with a little olive oil, wrap tightly in foil, and bake at 400°F for an hour or so.

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While those are roasting, make the crust. Combine flour, salt, pepper, and nutmeg in the bowl of a food processor.

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Pulse briefly to combine. Add the butter in chunks.

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Pulse in 1-2 second bursts until the dough is the consistency of damp sand. Add the water and run the machine until the dough comes together.

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Sprinkle the counter lightly with flour and turn out the dough onto it.

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Roll it about 1/8″ thick in a vague rectangle shape (or round if using a pie/tart pan). Butter two 10-oz ramekins (or 4 6-oz ones, or a pie tin).

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One could line things neatly. Or, if one is not talented at doing things neatly, just flop the dough into the prepared bakeware, call the draping parts rustic, and have done with it.

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Put the ramekins in the refrigerator while you make the filling. The food processor is useful again here, so I’m afraid you’ll have to wash it. Put the roasted beets in the bowl.

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whirr

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This is not pink. It is a delightful deep red.

Add the goat cheese and process until uniform in color.

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Now it’s pink. Lament.

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Add cream, egg, salt, pepper, and nutmeg.

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Give it another whirl to combine.

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Pour the filling into the crust and bake at 350°F for 45 minutes.

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Serve with green beans sautéed with dried cranberries. Just trust me. It’s a weird combination but oh so good.

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This is just as good as a hot dinner or a cold meal the next day. The filling is very soft. If you feel it would be improved by a bit of crunch, throw a handful of chopped walnuts on top or fold them into the filling before baking.

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Asparagus Tart

I’m a big fan of savory tarts. The broccoli cheddar tart is a winter favorite around here, and quiches filled with spices and greens crop up quite often as well. If I have a few scraps of cheese and a couple of different vegetables in the fridge, there’s a good chance they’ll be thrown together in a tart without any real recipe or planning.

All these things are delicious. Cheese, flaky crust, eggy filling; who could say no? But they aren’t exactly healthy. And that’s a shame, because there’s no reason they shouldn’t be.

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So I tried for healthier. No more all-butter crust: I went with whole wheat flour, olive oil, ricotta cheese, and loads of vegetables. It could be leaner, with low-fat ricotta and broth or low fat milk instead of cream, but I didn’t go there. Honestly I’ve never bought a low-fat cheese in my life and don’t intend to. This recipe is easy to modify. Don’t like asparagus? Try greens, mushrooms, carrot coins, squash, or whatever else strikes your fancy.

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Ingredients (serves 6-8)

For the crust:

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1 cup whole-wheat flour

1/2 t salt

1/2 t white pepper

1/4 cup olive oil

3 T ice water

For the filling:

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1/2 cup ricotta cheese

4 oz goat cheese

1 egg

1/4 cup cream

1 lb asparagus

about 1/2 t salt

parmesan, to taste

Directions

For the crust:

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Mix the flour, salt, and pepper in a bowl. Make a well in the center and add the olive oil.

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Stir with a spoon until the mixture is uniform.

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Add the water and knead until the dough forms a ball.

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Press the dough into a buttered tart pan or pie tin. Bake at 350°F for 20 minutes.

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Boil the asparagus for 3-5 minutes while the crust is baking.

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When the crust is done, spread a layer of ricotta across the bottom of it.

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Crumble the goat cheese over the ricotta. Mix the egg and cream in a small bowl.

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Pour the egg and cream over the cheese, and top with the asparagus. Sprinkle the tart with salt.

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Bake at 350°F for 40-45 minutes.

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Serve immediately.

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This crust is different, very crumbly and complex. I didn’t expect to like it; ordinarily I don’t even keep whole wheat flour in the apartment, because the texture annoys me. The simplicity of it with the olive oil, and the soft, rich filling offset that enough to make me go back for seconds on this one.

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Chocolate Chip Cookies

It’s New Year’s Eve. I’m in New Orleans. There’s a huge shindig down in Jackson Square, at least two masquerade balls, and I have no doubt that Bourbon Street is in full swing. Closer to home, I hear fireworks, and at least one of the bars in walking distance is having some kind of event.

Also a drive-through daiquiri place, because apparently we're classy like that around here.

Of course there’s more than one bar within walking distance of my apartment. There’s also a drive-through daiquiri place up the street, just in case you need a daiquiri while driving, I guess.

This city takes its holidays seriously, enough that even I feel like I might be missing out on something by staying in tonight. I mean, a masquerade? How do you pass that up? Especially given that I own a lovely venetian mask which I never have occasion to wear. But honestly, it’s a relief. There’s no need to caffeinate to keep energy up until midnight, no crowd of party-goers to shout over. And if I’d gone to a masked ball, I’d have missed out on and evening lounging on the couch in purple argyle socks, watching Blade Runner and eating seared duck and couscous.

Ma

I concede that a formal masked ball may well serve duck, but is likely to frown on the purple socks.

On an unrelated note, I made chocolate chip cookies during the insane holiday baking spree a couple of weeks ago. I never make chocolate chip cookies. Really. This is the second time since high school that it’s happened. But after all this time, I still remember exactly how it’s done.

Apparently making these cookies is like riding a bike. Even after almost ten years, muscle memory just kicks in.

Apparently making these cookies is like riding a bike. Even after almost ten years, muscle memory just kicks in.

Ingredients (makes 2 dozen)

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16 T (2 sticks) butter

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1 cup brown sugar

1 T vanilla extract

2  eggs

2 1/4 cups flour

1 1/2 t baking soda

1 1/2 t salt

1/2 t nutmeg

3 chocolate bars, preferably all different

Directions

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Cream butter in a mixer. Add sugars and continue to mix until thoroughly combined.

Forgot to take a picture with the sugar. oops.

Forgot to take a picture with the sugar. oops.

Add eggs and vanilla and mix just to combine.

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Add flour, salt, baking soda, and nutmeg, and mix again to combine.

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Chop the chocolate bars. The size of the chunks is really up to you. I prefer them about 1 cm².

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Add the chopped chocolate to the batter. . .

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. . .and fold it in.

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Then just drop the batter in about 1 1/2 tablespoon blobs onto parchment lined cookie sheets. I don’t measure. I just estimate blobs to approximately the size of a golf ball.

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Bake at 375°F for 10-12 minutes. As soon as they come out of the oven, add a small pinch of kosher salt to the whole batch. It sounds crazy, I know, but just go with it. Salt is delicious.

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These ones spread a bit too much. That’s okay. Ugly cookies are my specialty.

If you’re baking cookies to ship halfway across the country, do not attempt to get them bagged and shipped five minutes after they come out of the oven, even if the post office is closing in twenty minutes. You will get chocolate everywhere.

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Don’t tell the recipient of your cookies if you used a nonstandard flavor of chocolate bar, either. It’s amusing to hear about an office arguing over whether the hint of flavor in the cookies is orange or coffee. It was coffee, incidentally. Coffee goes with nutmeg. If I were using orange peel or orange oil, I’d swap the nutmeg with anise and then never ever share the cookies because that combination is amazing.

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Happy new year!

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Lemon Cookies

Last week I made cookies.

I don’t mean I made a batch of cookies last week, or two, or even three. I mean that last week, aside from the hours spent at the local food bank, all I did was bake cookies. Cookies to give to friends here, cookies for Mr. Blackbird’s lab, cookies to ship across the country. And still I’m not done. I have about three batches to send to Texas after Christmas, a few to bake today to bring to Florida, and I really should bake a batch for the lovely friend who’s feeding the cats while we’re gone.

If I’ve ever said that there’s no such thing as too many cookies, I take it back. I’m not going to want to see another cookie until after Passover. Or at least tomorrow when I get bored and hungry during the twelve-hour drive home.

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These cookies are adapted from Perfect Light Desserts by Nick Malgieri, which is bizarre for several reasons. First of all, I don’t own this cookbook. I don’t own any specifically healthy cookbooks. Secondly, long ago I had a copy of Cookies Unlimited by the same author, and I swear not a single recipe that I tried from that book came out well. But a year or so ago, a friend on a low-cholesterol diet asked if I could make healthy lemon cookies. I said no (cookies aren’t healthy, guys) but that I would try to find a recipe that wasn’t quite as guilt-inducing as most. This one has half the butter of your average cookie recipe, and uses only the white of the egg.

Don’t let that scare you off, though. These cookies are amazing. They’re moderately lemony, about two steps above lemon pound cake but still well below lemon bars. If you want to kick up the lemon flavor, a simple glaze of lemon juice, cream cheese, and powdered sugar would go nicely, or you could just brush the tops with a little lemon juice when they come out of the oven. Their texture is spongy enough to absorb it.

Best of all, they put an assertive citrus flavor (the most virtuous of all dessert flavors) into a cookie form. This means that I could ship them to my lemon-addicted friend in Dallas without the hassle of shipping lemon bars or lime pie or any other nonsense that requires chilling.

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Ingredients (makes about 24 cookies)

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4 T unsalted butter, softened

3/4 cup sugar

1 egg white

1/4 cup lemon juice

zest of one lemon (optional)

1 1/3 cups  flour

1/2 t baking powder

1/4 t salt

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Cream the butter and sugar together.

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Add the egg white, lemon juice, and zest if using and mix well.

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Sift in the flour, baking powder, and salt.

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Fold the batter just until it comes together.

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Drop batter in scant tablespoons onto parchment lined cookie sheets. Bake for 8-10 minutes. The cookies will be very pale, especially if you ran out of fresh lemons before baking and therefore didn’t use any lemon zest.

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Spinach and Potato Quiche

The quiche is a dish that I always struggle with. Not because they’re difficult to make, but because I always want it to be something new and different and interesting. I’m happy to throw together a plain cheese quiche if I want to play with a good strong cheese, but since I have a bad habit of just snarfing down good strong cheeses with apple cider and maybe a few crackers, this is rarely an option.

Adding Indian spices and a great big heap of spinach, on the other hand, is always an option. As usual, I tailor the tart crust to the filling, so the dough is made with garam masala. Chile powder would be a nice addition as well.

Ingredients

For the crust:

1 1/4 cups flour

1 t salt

2 t garam masala

8 T (1 stick) cold butter

3 T ice water

 

For the filling:

1 large potato

2 cloves garlic

about 4 cups spinach leaves

3 eggs

3/4 cup milk

6 oz mozzarella cheese

1 T garam masala

2 t turmeric

1 t salt

1 T dried chiles (pequins, or chopped other peppers, optional)

Directions

For the crust:

Combine the flour, salt, and garam masala in the bowl of a food processor.

Pulse the dry ingredients briefly to combine. Add the butter in chunks.

Process the butter and flour mixture until it looks like damp sand. Add the water bit by bit and process just until the dough comes together in a ball.

Chill the dough for 30 minutes or so. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Roll out the dough and press it  into a buttered tart pan.

Bake, lined with foil and pie weights, for 15 minutes. Set aside.

For the filling:

Chop the potato into bite-sized pieces and boil them for 8-10 minutes. Drain and set aside.

Heat a heavy skillet (I love cast iron) over medium heat and cook the garlic until it is aromatic and toasty.

Add the spinach and spices and cook 5-7 minutes.

You’ll know it’s ready when it has cooked down thoroughly.

Add the potatoes and toss to coat with spices and add just a touch of crispiness to the edges. Set aside to cool.

In a separate bowl, combine eggs and milk.

Whisk to combine, and stir in the cheese and salt.

Add the potato and spinach, and peppers if using.

Stir to combine.

Pour the filling into the prepared crust.

Bake at 350°F for 40-45 minutes.

Serve immediately.

I know it’s not traditional to any cuisine. It’s fun and delicious. Mr. B slathers his with Sriracha and has cold leftovers for breakfast. I can’t stand a cold quiche (or pizza or anything else meant to be served hot) but apparently this is just a guy thing that I have to get used to.

In any case, this was a fantastic experiment. I’ll be making it again soon.

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Maple Pumpkin Cornbread

Thanksgiving is almost upon us. Normally this means a two-hour drive to see the in-laws, but we’ve moved now. I suppose if we were diligent young people we would make the drive this year as well, either back to Texas for his family or down to Florida for mine.

We are staying in New Orleans. The original plan was a low-key Thanksgiving dinner at home, just us corvids and our cats. But people are really nice here. A pair of our new friends discovered we were planning to spend Thanksgiving alone and invited us to join them.

Obviously we’re bringing food. Lime pie. Biscuits. And this corn bread.

The best thing about this is how moist the pumpkin makes the finished bread. I wasn’t even remotely tempted to add butter or more maple syrup to serve. It’s also unbelievably easy to put together, but don’t tell our new friends that. I want them to be impressed.

This recipe is adapted from the Comfort of Cooking.

Ingredients (makes two 9-inch round loaves. serves 12-16)

8 T butter

2/3 C sugar

3 T maple syrup

2 eggs

3/4 t baking soda

1/2 C milk

2/3 C pumpkin puree

1/2 t salt

1 C corn meal

1 C flour

Directions

Melt the butter.

Add sugar and maple syrup to the butter.

Whisk to combine.

Add milk and eggs.

Whisk again and add the pumpkin.

More whisking. Such a lovely shade of orange.

Add the dry ingredients.

Do not whisk. Fold the flour and corn meal and baking soda salt into the batter. Do not over-mix.

Scoop the batter into two buttered 9-inch cake pans.

Bake at 350°F for 25 minutes.

This is perfect unadorned. Mr. B likes to dunk his cornbread in milk. I like mine with a side of simmered greens. And of course it goes perfectly with Thanksgiving dinner.

 

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Succotash

Every time I drive down to New Orleans proper, I regret leaving my camera at home. I’ll find myself pulling over to write down the intersection of a building whose cracks seem held together only by the lacing shut of climbing ivy, another house so splintered and broken it’s hard to imagine people once lived there. I have always been fond of broken things, and a great deal of the city is just that. In less broken places, I stare at trees. There’s so much green here. Combine the effects of general clumsiness (made worse by my petulant insistence on wearing heels), the crevasses and undulations of local sidewalks, and this new habit of staring up to follow whorls of bark and twists of branches, and there’s no doubt I’m going to end up falling rather horribly one of these days. But somehow, whenever I step out I think I’ll be too busy to take pictures; better leave the camera at home till next time.

Yeah. That needs to stop.

 

Succotash is a simple Southern dish. I like to pair it with black bean burgers, using the same spices for both and letting the sweetness of the corn balance the savory burgers.

Ingredients (serves 4 as a side)

2 T butter

1 cup frozen lima beans

1 cup frozen corn

2 T mustard

2 t paprika

juice of 1 lime

1/4 cup cream

Directions

This is so easy. Pop the butter in a saucepan over medium heat.

Melt it.

Add the lima beans and corn.

Then add mustard, paprika, and lime

Stir and cook for 5-7 minutes to ensure that the vegetables are no longer frozen. Add the cream and stir briefly.

Simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 15 minutes, until most of the liquid has reduced and the lima beans are tender through.

Serve with black bean burgers.

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