Sunday, April 28, 2013

Yeasted Buckwheat Waffles with Rhubarb Compote

For my birthday this year, I received several wonderful cooking-related gifts, including Deborah Madison's new cookbook Vegetable Literacy. Not only is this book brimming with delicious recipes, but it's organized taxonomically, perfect for a biologist. This structure reveals some surprising kinships and ingredient affinities. I learned, for example, that sorrel, rhubarb, and buckwheat, are all members of the Polygonaceae or knotweed family. Suddenly a compote of new spring rhubarb and the end of last season's frozen strawberries seemed like the perfect topping for Madison's yeasted buckwheat waffles.

I'd never made yeasted waffles before because the timing seemed tricky for breakfast, but Madison's recipe recommends an overnight ferment, which produces a pillowy and flavorful base that is quickly finished while the waffle iron warms. The yeast's transformative power sweetens and lightens the whole grain batter, and the delicious yeasty smells that fill the kitchen while the waffles cook is itself worth the effort of a little mixing the night before. Also worth making ahead is a pot of rhubarb and strawberry compote. Draping this assertive pseudo fruit over its smoky pseudo grain cousin turns out to be a match of botanical and culinary harmony.

Yeasted Buckwheat Waffles
from Deborah Madison's Vegetable Literacy
(best started the night before)

1 package (2 1/4 tsp) active dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water
2 cups milk, just warmed (or use buttermilk)
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 1/2 cup white whole wheat pastry or spelt flour (I used Lonesome Whistle's red fife)
1 cup buckwheat flour (I used Lonesome Whistle's buckwheat)
2 Tbsp honey
5 Tbsp butter, melted, or sunflower seed oil
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 tsp baking soda

1. If proofing overnight, combine the yeast and warm water and let sit for 10 minutes. Put the milk and salt in a large bowl, add the yeast, then whisk in the flours. Cover and refrigerate overnight if the weather is warm, or leave out on the counter if it is cool. The next morning, stir in the honey, butter, eggs, and baking soda.

If proofing for two hours, combine all the ingredients in a large bowl, mixing well. Cover the bowl and leave in a warm spot for two hours. 

2. When ready to cook, give the batter a stir. Heat the waffle iron. When the iron is ready, spoon the batter onto the grid and close the lid. When the waffle is done remove it from the iron with a fork and serve right away with rhubarb strawberry compote (recipe below) and maple syrup.

Leftover batter will keep for several days in the refrigerator. This batter can also be used to make buckwheat blini.

Rhubarb Strawberry Compote
(can prepare the night before)
4 slender or 2 large stalks rhubarb
1/2 cup frozen strawberries
1/4 cup sugar, or to taste
1/4 cup water

Rinse and trim the rhubarb and chop into 1 inch pieces. Combine all the ingredients in a small saucepan over medium heat and simmer for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the fruit has cooked down to a soft consistency. Taste and add more sugar if desired. If made ahead, rewarm before serving.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Elkdream Bars

Last week my daughter and I needed to come up with a snack for her girl scout troop meeting. It had to be healthy, transportable, peanut and nut-free, and fun. I knew just the thing: Elkdream bars from Elin England's forthcoming book "Beans, Grains, Nuts and Seeds: Further Adventures in Eating Close to Home", a sequel to "Eating Close to Home: A Guide to Local Seasonal Sustenance in the Pacific Northwest", which I described here

The best thing about these bars is that they are extremely accommodating. We omitted the hazelnuts and used sunflower butter to make them nut free, we didn't have pumpkin or sunflower seeds on hand, so we increased the sesame seeds and flax seeds, and added some chia seeds for good measure (on hand for favorite sauce, porridge, and pancakes), we'd run out of honey, so we used maple syrup, and we added some chopped apricots along with the cranberries. The end result after all this tampering was so delicious that it was completely devoured by the troop. This weekend I'll make another batch to pack for school snacks. After all the harrowing news from Boston this past week, from which I've assiduously shielded my children despite anxious phone calls with their grandparents in lockdown, because how can one begin to explain such senseless destruction, it is somehow comforting to laden their lunch boxes with homemade treats when sending them out into the world. 

Elkdream Bars
from Elin England's forthcoming book 
"Beans, Grains, Nuts and Seeds: Further Adventures Eating Close to Home"

In a large mixing bowl, stir together:

2 1/2 cups rolled oats (not quick-cook oats)
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
1/4 cup flax seeds
1/4 cup sesame seeds
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1/2 cup chopped hazelnuts

Spread on a rimmed cookie sheet and toast at 325 degrees for 15 minutes. Pour back into the bowl. Leave the oven on, as you'll use it again in a few minutes.

Meanwhile, combine in a small saucepan:

1/2 tsp ground ginger, or substitute cinnamon or cardamom (optional)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup peanut butter, or substitute sunflower butter, almond butter, or hazelnut butter
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 to 3 Tbsp butter

Heat over medium-low heat, stirring until dissolved, then remove from the heat (so it doesn't burn). This is the glue that holds the bars together.

Pour the glue mixture over the oat/nut mix and add:

1 cup dried cranberries (or your choice of chopped, dried fruit)

Mix the oat/nut mix, the glue, and the dried fruit together very well.

Line a 9x12 baking pan with parchment paper (you can oil the pan to help the parchment stick down). Cut the paper long enough that it comes up all 4 sides of the pan (you can pleat the corners). Plop the mixture into the pan and press down HARD all over. A good way to do this is to spread a piece of waxed paper over the top and press down with your hands.

Bake for 15 minutes at 325 degrees. Let cool COMPLETELY (this part is really important). Lift the whole arrangement out of the pan onto a cutting board, using the overhanging parchment paper as a handle. Cut whatever sized bars you like, and store in an air tight container, using waxed paper to separate layers. Save any crumbs that accumulate to sprinkle over yogurt. 

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Peanut Sauce Noodles with Kale Rabe

The Lane County Farmers Market is now in full swing. Today I found the tenderest baby radishes and carrots and this vibrant green kale rabe. The name is inspired by broccoli rabe, but really just refers to bolting kale. One of my husband's specialties is peanut sauce noodles, which we usually serve with broccoli rabe and crunchy cucumber sticks. For this evening's version we used blanched kale rabe (cooked in a separate pot from the noodles to accommodate picky eaters) with spring radishes and carrots for crunch. A delicious spring meal.

Peanut Sauce Noodles
(serves four)

for the sauce
1 inch ginger
1 shallot
2 garlic cloves
2 Tbsp canola oil
drizzle of hot chili oil
1/4 cup peanut butter (preferably from ground peanuts)
1/4 cup tahini
1 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp Chinese black vinegar
2 Tbsp rice wine
2 tsp soy sauce
~1 cup water to thin the sauce
a drizzle of sesame oil
Sichuan pepper corns, freshly ground

1 package udon noodles
1 bunch broccoli rabe or kale rabe

for garnish
bean sprouts
lime wedges
cucumber sticks
other crunchy vegetables such as radishes or carrots
Sriracha sauce

1. Set a pot of salted water to boil for the noodles. If cooking separately, also set a pot of salted water to boil for the greens. Rinse the greens, trim off the thickest part of the stems and cut the rest of the stems into 1 inch sticks and rough chop the leaves.

2. Peel and finely mince the ginger, shallots, and garlic. You can do this quickly in a mini food processor. Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add the canola oil and chili oil and saute the minced aromatics until soft. Add the peanut butter and tahini, sugar, black vinegar, rice wine, and soy sauce. Mix and simmer over medium low heat, stirring occasionally, for about 15 minutes. Add water as needed to thin to the desired consistency. Taste and add more soy, sugar, or vinegar as needed. When the sauce is ready, add a drizzle of sesame oil and freshly ground Sichuan pepper corns to taste, and remove from heat. 

3. When the water is boiling, add the noodles and cook according to the package directions. You can add the greens to the pot when there are five minutes remaining for the noodles. Or blanch the greens in a separate pot for about five minutes. 

4. Toss the cooked noodles (and greens if combining) with the peanut sauce. Serve the noodles with all the garnishes for people to add to their plates as they like.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Arikara Beans with Greens, Egg, and Ham

I realize that there's been a steady egg theme here recently, but I wanted to share this delicious amalgam of greens and beans with eggs I made recently with the-all important ingredient of ham hock from Fair Valley Farm. Dr. Seuss was on to something pairing green eggs and ham. And although this dish may seem as elaborate as a fox in a box in a car in a tree, it actually came together in several easy steps. One afternoon I simmered the beans and ham hock in a slow cooker. That evening I let the kids shuck the tomatillos, which I halved and seared to make Rick Bayless' pan-roasted tomatillo salasa. The next day, I shredded the ham into the bean pot, sauteed greens in a big pan and then warmed the beans with the greens (reserving some for green-averse children). Then it was just a matter of heating the griddle for toasting tortillas with a sprinkle of cheese and a fried egg on top. Say, I like these huevos verdes y jamón. 

Arikara Beans with Greens, Egg, and Ham
2 cups Arikara beans (heirloom variety from Lonesome Whistle), or substitute navy beans
1 ham hock
~5 cups water

Pick over the beans to remove any pebbles. Rinse, and if you have time, soak for several hours to overnight. Drain, and combine the beans, ham hock, and water in a slow cooker or a large pot. Cook on high in the slow cooker for about 4 hours or on a low simmer on the stovetop for about 3 hours until the beans are soft. Remove the ham hock, shred the ham from the bone, and add this back to the pot. 

Bunch of greens such as chard
2 garlic cloves
2 Tbsp canola oil
salt to taste

Rinse and chop the greens. Mince the garlic. Heat a large skillet over medium heat, add the oil and saute the garlic until soft but not browned. Add the greens and saute until partially wilted. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the beans with shredded ham to the pan with the greens (use as many beans to achieve your desired beans to greens ratio. Reserve the bean liquid for soup stock). Warm the beans through.

Smoky Chipotle Salsa with Pan-Roasted Tomatillos 
from Rick Bayless' Mexican Everyday

1 pound tomatillos
3 garlic cloves, peeled
1 Tbsp canola oil
1 chipotle chili in adobe sauce
salt to taste

Remove the husks from the tomatillos, rinse and halve. Heat a large skillet, add a thin layer of canola oil, and place the tomatillos cut side down along with the garlic cloves. Cook until the tomatillos are charred, then flip and cook a few more minutes until they are soft throughout. Cook the garlic cloves until they are soft and slightly charred. Scoop everything into a blender jar and add a chipotle pepper and generous pinch of salt. Blend into a smooth salsa.

Eggs on Tortillas

salt and pepper
grated cheddar cheese
beans with greens (recipe above)
Tamatillo salsa (recipe above)

Heat a griddle. Place on two tortillas, cook until lightly toasted, flip and turn the heat to low. Sprinkle a handful of grated cheese on each tortilla, making an indentation in the center to trap the egg. Crack an egg into each cheese nest. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook for a couple of minutes until the white starts to harden and the cheese melts. Flip each tortilla and cook on the second side until the yoke just starts to set. Serve the tortilla and eggs with the beans and greens and a generous drizzle of tomatillo  salsa. Enjoy.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Sundry Uses for Easter Eggs

Here are the Easter eggs we colored with natural dyes. I think my favorites are the sauerkraut speckled ones on the right, but I also like the beet and turmeric one in front with flower petal patterns. If you are looking for inspiration for using up hard boiled eggs,

try a salad with these lentils on sauteed greens with ham,

or use them as garnish for this Moroccan beef and chickpea stew,

or enjoy a perfect egg salad sandwich with arugula and a sprinkle of dukkah, a nutty Egyptian spice mix. 

Egg Salad Sandwich
makes 2 modest or 1 heaping sandwich

2 hardboiled eggs
1 Tbsp mayonnaise
1 tsp dijon mustard
salt and pepper to taste
pinch of dukkah
good sandwich bread, lightly toasted
arugula leaves

In a wide bowl, combine the mayonnaise and mustard. Peel the eggs, season with salt and pepper, and mash them into the mayonnaise mixture with an potato masher or fork, until there are just small pieces of egg white. Spread the egg salad on a toasted piece of bread, top with a generous sprinkle of dukkah, plenty of arugula leaves, and a second piece of toasted bread, and enjoy.

Note about dukkah: I was inspired to try it on egg salad by this recipe from AntoniaJames of food52. She provides a recipe for dukkah, as does Heide Swanson of 101 Cookbooks. I picked some up at Trader Joe's, but I think I'll try making some of my own next with less fennel.