January 13th, 2013

Pizza with Onion Confit

This was the Tuesday recipe for TWD this week, pizza with onion confit. We had so much food in the house that I just couldn’t bring myself to create more leftovers so I waited until the fridge thinned out a bit. OMG am I so happy I finally made it though!

The onions are slow cooked in red wine and not only are they sweet and rich and wonderful, but they are also a beautiful purple. I layered them on to the pizza dough pretty thick, then topped with some crunchy bits of bacon, scattering of goat cheese, and just a touch of shredded fontina on top. 

I loved the onion confit so much and I’ve copied my version of that recipe below. You can find the full recipe, including the pizza dough over with Paul of The Boy Can Bake



Onion Confit

Adapted from Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan

3 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 medium onions (about 2 1/2 pounds total), peeled, halved, and sliced 1/8to 1/4 inch thick
Sea Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 tablespoon sugar
Herbes de provence to taste or fresh hers like thyme or rosemary
1/4 to 1 1/2 cups red wine
Scant 1/4 cup red wine vinegar and a splash of balsamic vinegar

Melt the butter in a large heavy skillet and stir in the onions.  Season with salt and pepper, stir, cover the pan, and cook the onions over low heat until they are soft, about 5 minutes.  Sprinkle the sugar over the onions, stir, cover, and cook for another 5 minutes.

Add the herbes de provence, 1 1/4 cups red wine and the vinegar.  Stir well and cook the mixture over the lowest possible heat, stirring from time to time, for about 1 hour/ hour and a half, until just about all the liquid has evaporated.  If the liquid has cooked off in half an hour or less, add a bit more wine.  Turn the onions out onto a flat plate and let them cool to room temperature.

The onions can be made up to 2 days ahead and kept covered in the refrigerator.  They should be brought to room temperature before they’re spread on the pizza.

March 28th, 2012

Thai Veggie Burgers

Homemade veggie burgers usually leave a lot to be desired.  Dry, crumbly, bland. These veggies burgers, however are full of flavor.  The first time I made them, they crumbled a bit.  So I went ahead and added more peanut butter the second go around and they stayed together well.  I’ve really enjoyed these for lunch during the week (and the ladies in the lunch room have been jealous).  You can serve them on a bun with lettuce and various toppings.  I like them as above, just a plain burger.  They’re that tasty.



Thai Veggie Burgers
Adapted from Mama Pea 

1/3 cup oats
1 14 ounce can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2 tsp soy sauce
2 tsp lime juice
2 tsp sesame oil
2 tsp garlic, chopped
2 tsp fresh ginger, chopped
2-3 tbs peanut butter
2 tbs cilantro
3/4 cup broccoli slaw

Place the oats in the bowl of a food processor.  Pulse 4-5 times.  Add the rest of the ingredients and process until everything comes together.  (Start with 2 tbs of peanut butter and add the third if the mix seems dry).  Refrigerate the mixture for 30 minutes.  

Heat a frying pan to med high.  Spray with non stick spray.  Form 4 to 5 patties with the mixture.  Fry until heated, about 5 minutes per side.

October 2nd, 2011

Jalapeno Cheddar Cornbread

This was intended to be one of those make something out of nothing recipes.  There isn’t a whole lot of food in the house and we’re headed to Chicago for the marathon at the end of the week so I didn’t want to buy much.  I did have a few green peppers and jalapeno peppers from the garden, some shredded cheddar cheese and some milk to use up.  I found Ina Garten’s Jalapeno Cheddar Cornbread recipe and decided to go ahead with it (with a few changes). 

First off, I halved the recipe and made an 8x8 pan full of cornbread.  I added diced green peppers and reduced the amount of butter.  The full recipe called for two whole sticks of melted butter.  Two sticks! I’m sure it is delish with two sticks but I had to cut it in half (half a stick for the half recipe).  It turned out just fine so don’t be afraid of reduced butter.  If you just can’t get enough butter, go for the full stick.  One note, I included a range for salt.  If you use a salty cheddar, hold back a bit.  With my generic shredded cheddar, it could have used a little more salt. 

Lets go Pats!



Jalapeno Cheddar Cornbread
Based on this recipe

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup yellow cornmeal (I like a fine cornmeal)
1 tbs sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 to 1 teaspoons fine sea salt (kosher is fine too)
1 cup milk (warmed up to room temp)
1 extra-large egg, lightly beaten
4 tbs unsalted butter, melted (or up to a full stick if you’re up for it)
4 ounces aged extra-sharp Cheddar, grated, divided
1 1/2 tablespoons seeded and minced fresh jalapeno peppers
1 green bell pepper, chopped

Combine the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, combine the milk, egg, and butter. With a wooden spoon, stir the wet ingredients into the dry until most of the lumps are dissolved. Don’t overmix! (note, if the mixture seems a little too dry due to the reduced butter you can add a little extra milk- but note, mine did not need it).  Mix in 1 cup of the grated Cheddar, both the peppers, and allow the mixture to sit at room temperature for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 8 by 8-inch baking pan.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan, smooth the top, and sprinkle with the remaining grated Cheddar. Bake for 30 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool and cut into large squares. Serve warm or at room temperature.

September 5th, 2011

Tomato Salad with Breadcrumbs

'Tis tomato season in New England.  All those tomatoes that have been green for a month are ripening at an alarming pace. I found this recipe on smitten kitchen and gave it a mini make over with what was in the cupboard: a sprinkle of some grey salt and herbs de provence mix I found at the williams and sonoma outlet instead of fresh garlic, balsamic vinagear instead of red wine.  The adaptations worked out well and we ate up almost all of the cherry tomotoes.  Now what to do with all of those full size tomatoes… your suggestions needed!



Tomato Salad with Breadcrumbs
adapted from a Smitten Kitchen recipe

1 and half sandwich style ciabatta rolls (that’s what I had- ciabatta with onion but you could use any style of good white bread- the equivalent of about 4 slices of bread)
1/2 small onion, finely chopped
2 tsp grey salt with herbs de province (If you can’t find this use 1/2 tsp of sea salt or grey salt and 1 1/2 tsp mixed herbs of your choice)
2 tablespoons olive oil

Tomato salad
1 pound cherry or grape tomatoes
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
Pinch of sugar
Freshly ground black pepper

Handful basil leaves, slivered.

Prepare the crushed croutons: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Tear bread into chunks and pule them in a food processor until coarsely ground. Spread crumbs on a rimmed baking sheet and toss with onion, seasoning, and olive oil until croutons are evenly coated with oil. Bake until golden brown and dry, about 15 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from oven and set aside to cool slightly.

Assemble salad: Halve each tomato lengthwise and arrange cut side up on a platter. Whisk together vinegar, olive oil, salt, sugar and a few grinds of pepper in a small dish. Drizzle over tomatoes. Sprinkle tomatoes with crushed croutons. Garnish with slivers of basil.

August 11th, 2011

Mmmmm Sauce!

I’m a pretty earth crunchy gal and I love making vegetarian food- the more unusual the better.  I’ve seen this mmm sauce on many blogs recently and the combination of nuts, chickpeas and nutritional yeast looked right up my (weirdo) ally.  I decided to give it a try this past weekend when I had a couple of vegetarians head over for dinner.  I served the sauce over bok choy, mushrooms, snap peas, tofu and rice.  The sauce is lightly curry with a good measure of nutritional yeast for a cheesy/nutty flavor.  I really like cooking with nutritional yeast and recommend trying it.  You can find it in the bulk bins at stores like whole foods.  I used some in an edamame burger recipe recently and everyone seemed to be surprised by how much they liked it.  That recipe will be posted next week…

Leftovers of mmm sauce were used in a beef and veggie stirfry and- my favorite use so far- as a sandwich spread on toasted ciabatta with sharp cheddar cheese, scallions, and garden tomatoes.  The recipe comes from Mama Pea’s website and she notes “Nutritionally speaking, this sauce is in the same ballpark as hummus or salad dressing, but with a little more protein and vitamin B12, and a whole lot more totally craveable flavor.” Good stuff! Here’s the original recipe with my changes noted. Try it, you’ll like it…



Mmmm Sauce
From Mama Pea
Makes 1 1/2 cups

1/4 c. canola oil (or oil of your choice)
1/4 c. almonds (Spike used raw cashews)
1/3 c. water
1/4 c. chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/4 c. nutritional yeast
2 1/2 T. lemon juice
1 t. minced garlic
1/4 t. salt (Spike used fine sea salt)
3/4 t. curry powder
1/2 t. dried oregano (Spike skipped this)
1/2 t. dried cilantro

Note: this recipe could easily be doubled and leftovers will keep covered in the fridge for 7-10 days

In a high speed blender or food processor, combine oil, almonds, water and chickpeas.  Blend until relatively smooth.
Add remaining ingredients and blend until smooth.Transfer to a small bowl and refrigerate until serving.

June 17th, 2011

Spring Pea Soup with Fiddleheads & Mushrooms

One of the favorite courses during diner at the Table was a spring pea soup with sauteed mushrooms and fiddleheads, and a drizzle of lavender oil.  After seeing some fiddleheads on a trip to Whole Foods, I knew I had to try recreating the soup.

I did a quick version (sans lavender oil).  Chef Sam had used avocado to make the soup creamy in texture but avocados were wicked expensive so I went with good old cream.  Frozen peas too.  The mushrooms and fiddleheads add just enough crew and crunch to this sweet spring soup. So easy but gone in seconds.

Spring Pea Soup with Fiddleheads & Mushrooms
Serves 4

1 onion, diced
Olive Oil
2 packages of frozen spring peas (or, you know, fresh is cool too)
1/4 cup of heavy cream
2-3 cups of chicken broth, warmed (more or less depending on how thick you want your soup)
2 Handfuls of wild mushrooms (I used baby bellos and shitakis)
2 handfuls of fiddleheads, cleaned and trimmed
1-2 tablespoons butter
sea salt and pepper

Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a pan over medium heat.  When onions are translucent, add the peas and cook for 5 minutes.  Add the cream to the pan and continue cooking another few minutes until the peas are cooked through. 

Puree the peas and stock together in a blender or food processor- do this in a couple of batches.  Add the pureed soup back into the pot.  Keep warm and season with salt and pepper to taste.Add more stock to thin out your soup if needed.

While the soup warms, saute the mushrooms with 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat for 2 minutes.  Add the fiddleheads to the pan and season with sea salt, cook for an additional 5 minutes.  Reduce heat to low and add the butter to the pan.  Stir occasionally and cook until fiddleheads are done (another minute or two).

Serve a few ladles of soup with the mushrooms and fiddleheads spooned on top. 



June 1st, 2011

National Running Day & Mac n’ Cheese

Happy National Running Day! I started running about 10 years ago as I was leaving college and needed to stop living the college life style.  I hated running for the first couple of years.  I was bad at it, it was difficult, and I looked like a fool when doing it.  I still look like a fool and I’m not a particularly good runner but I finally really love it.  For the most part, I look forward to long weekend runs.  No music, just outside exploring the towns around me.  This past weekend I did the Run to Remember through Boston and Cambridge and that gets me started on training for the Chicago Marathon in October.  The race was tough, with lots of humid weather, but it served its purpose in motivating me to train smarter. 

Unfortunately, marathon training does not mean eating a ton of carbs all day long (at least for me).  I trained for my first marathon and didn’t really lose weight because I told myself, “you ran X miles today, Spike, eat whatever you want”.  Not good.  The second marathon training helped big time with weight loss (hello intuitive eating).  Speaking of carbs, I did recently try Mark Bittman’s cauliflower mac n’ cheese.  You replace a good portion of the cheese with pureed cauliflower.  I enjoyed the recipe, although it is a far cry from real mac and cheese.  Still a good recipe and process for getting extra veggies in.  Here’s the recipe



March 16th, 2011

Vegetarian Cassoulet

I have a few hearty recipes left to make while the weather is still cool and damp.  This vegetarian cassoulet was at the top of my list.  It is hearty and earthy with a good dose of red wine (!). I used organic red wine recommended by the guy at whole foods so this dish is 100% hippy. 

You could always add additional root vegetables- parsnips would be great.  If you’re scared of weirdo vegetarian foods like seitan and tempeh, just skip them.  I like the added protein.  I also like any recipe that requires a little work up front (chopping veg) but then is fairly inactive for most of the cooking process.  Let’s me take a break to watch a little tv (end of BSG? Heavy? Tosh.0? too many choices).  My low fat and nutritious lunch for this week…

Vegetarian Cassoulet
Based on a recipe by Moosewood Restaurants Low-Fat Favorites
Serves 4-6 

1 tbsp. olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 onion, chopped
1/2 tsp. dried or fresh thyme
1 tsp. fresh or dried rosemary
3/4 cup dry red wine
1 cup peeled and diced carrots
3/4 cup diced celery
1 cup diced potatoes
1 cup diced tomatoes
3/4 cup seitan or tempeh, cut into cubes (I used tempeh)
1 tbsp. molasses
1 tbsp. Dijon mustard
1-1/2 cups kidney beans (one 15 oz. can, drained)
1-1/2 cups cannellini beans (one 15 oz. can, drained)
Sea Salt and black pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350°F.

In a large saucepan (I used a le Creuset pan so it could go straight into the oven afterwords), warm the olive oil, and add garlic, onions, thyme, bay leaves, marjoram, and rosemary. Sauté for about 2 minutes.

Add wine, cover, and simmer on low until the onions are soft (5 minutes or so). Stir in carrots, celery, potatoes, and tomatoes. Cover and simmer about 10 more minutes.

Add seitan or tempeh, molasses, mustard, and both kinds of beans. Return to a simmer, until the beans, etc. are warmed through.

Add salt and pepper to taste and transfer to a casserole dish that has been oiled (or just stick with your oven safe dish if you used it above), cover, and bake for about 45 minutes.

March 13th, 2011

Beef & Guinness Pie/Stew

Guinness beef stew is pretty much a straight up stew.  Guinness pie is thicker beef stew with cheddar cheese and a puff pastry crust.  I’ve combined the best of both worlds with this recipe.  Thick, rich stew with sharp cheddar cheese and just a top of puff pastry.  This is my favorite Irish style meal.  Unfortunately, I’m not a great photographer and trying to make beef stew look pretty is beyond my talent level.  So, you get a quick photo of the puff pastry topping.  Even if it isn’t pretty on the outside, it is tasty on the inside and that’s what counts.

Beef & Guinness Pie/Stew
Based on a Jamie Oliver recipe
Serves 4 hungry adults (6 normal people)

olive oil

3 medium red onions, peeled and chopped
3 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped
1 tbs butter
3 carrots, peeled and chopped
3 sticks of celery, trimmed and chopped
6-8 baby bella mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
2 lbs brisket of beef, cut into 1-1 1/2inch cubes
1 spring of rosemary, stem discarded
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 x 440ml can of Guinness
2 heaped tablespoons AP flour
1 cup freshly grated Cheddar cheese
1 sheet of puff pastry, defrosted
1 large egg, beaten

Preheat the oven to 375ºF. In a large ovenproof pan, heat two tablespoons of olive oil on a low heat. Add the onions and fry gently for about 10 minutes, browning just a bit. Turn the heat up, add the garlic, butter, carrots and celery.  Cook 1 minutes then add in the mushrooms. Mix everything together and cook for 2 minutes.  Then stir in the beef, rosemary, a pinch of salt and pepper.

Fry fast for 3 or 4 minutes, then pour in the Guinness, stir in the flour and add just enough water to cover. Bring to a simmer, cover the pan with a lid and place in the preheated oven for about 1hour. Remove the pan from the oven and give the stew a stir. Put it back into the oven and continue to cook it for another hour, or until the meat is tender and the stew is rich, dark and thick (note, the meat will continue to cook and become even more tender so don’t worry if it’s not quite there yet). At this point, the stew should be thick so if it’s still quite liquidy, place the pan on the burner uncovered and reduce until the sauce thickens. Remove from the heat and stir in half the cheese, then season carefully and leave to cool slightly.

Dust a clean work surface with flour and roll the pastry out evenly with a floured rolling pin until large enough to cover your baking dish (note- I use a long pan and sometimes need a sheet and a half of pastry).  If you’d like, you can move the stew to a different over safe dish at this point, I use an oval dish that is about 10inches long.  Tip the stew into your dish and even it out before sprinkling over the remaining cheese. Place the pastry over the top and stretch to the edges. Brush the top with beaten egg, then bake the pie directly on the bottom of the oven for 45 minutes, until the pastry is cooked, puffed and golden.