Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Holiday leftovers transformed

One of our holiday traditions is to make pizza together on Christmas eve. (There's T. and DD admiring our handiwork.) My mom started it as a way to have a low-key meal during the otherwise hectic season. I love it because it's something that we can do together.

However, we invariably have a ton of the toppings left over, as I try to have a variety so that there's a lot to choose from. This year our leftover toppings included: onions, vegetarian ground "meat," pineapple, artichoke hearts, several types of cheese, and roasted peppers.

By adding a couple of staples, I've gotten 2 meals out of these leftovers.

Lemon-Garlic Linguini Mediterranean
The first was a pasta dish with sauteed leeks, artichoke hearts, roasted peppers, feta, sundried tomatoes, and a dash of olive oil. I sauteed all of those briefly and tossed with lemon garlic linguini from my favorite pasta vendor (and all around cool people) Artistic Eats NY. (I added the leeks and the sundried tomatoes, which I had dried over the summer.) YUM!

Butternut Enchiladas
Tonight I made enchiladas by sauteeing the onions and the fake ground meat, and adding cubes of butternut squash which I had previously roasted. I filled tortilla shells with this filling, topped with the leftover pizza cheese, and poured tomatillo sauce (which I had made with my garden's tomatillo windfall in late summer and frozen) over all of that. Bake at 350 for 20-30 minutes and enjoy!

Leftovers provide a great opportunity to experiment. In this case they also gave me incentive to clean out the fridge, which turned into a 3-hour job. We won't talk about what I found in there.

Now I just have to decide what to do with the pineapple!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Snow cookies

I know that Christmas day is, for many, a hectic day. For me, it is usually the first quiet day in the whole month of December. T.'s agency's big fundraiser is the first weekend of December, and the rest of the month is generally busy with school work, grading, and getting prepared for the new group of students starting in January.

Our family celebrations take place the few days before Christmas and go through the morning, then DS and DD head off to celebrate with the other side of their family.

So...I finally made Christmas cookies. Just one batch. But this one batch is all we need. These are from the cookbook Roast Figs, Sugar Snow: Winter Food to Warm the Soul, by Diana Henry, whom I heard on The Splendid Table. (I've only made a few things from this cookbook, which I got from the library before I decide to purchase, but so far, they've been amazing.)

Here's the idea: Beat 1 stick butter, 1/2 c. confectioners sugar, 1/3 t. salt together until combined. Mix in 1 egg yolk. Mix in 1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour by hand and bring the dough together in a ball, kneading lightly.

At this point my dough was still way too dry, so I added some canola oil until it just held together. (I have found this to be a common problem with the recipes in this cookbook. It was published in England, so I'm not sure if there's some difference in ingredients?) Anyway, use your common sense and add enough oil until it looks like a fairly stiff cookie dough.

Refrigerate for about 8 hours.

Preheat the oven to 350F (180C). Let the dough warm just a bit (Henry doesn't recommend this, but I found it helpful), then roll the dough out to 1/8 inch (3mm) thick. Cut out cookies and put on a baking sheet. Bake for 8 minutes. (I think mine were thicker than 1/8 inch, and they took about 12-14 minutes.) Let cool.

They were very buttery and good without the frosting, so I may not do it next time, but if you want to frost them, mix 1 c. sifted confectioners sugar with enough water (or vodka, Henry suggests) and lemon juice to make a drizzly frosting. If you scoop some up on the tines of a fork and it drops in a slow but steady stream, it's the right consistency. (I think mine was a bit thick, as evidenced by my rather globular frosting job.) Drizzle onto the cookies. Henry recommends sprinkling on some edible gold powder when the frosting is nearly set, but I didn't happen to have any gold fairy dust around.

Speaking of common sense and cooking, one of my favorite gifts this year is a book called Cooking for Geeks, which takes a hacker's approach to cooking, giving you just enough scientific information to help you understand how various ingredients work, with a healthy dose of encouragement of innovation and experimentation.

That approach worked great with these cookies, which are buttery rich and small enough to be slightly addictive.

Happy whatever-you-celebrate!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Cabbage: Not just for coleslaw any more

I'm home writing (er...blogging, at the moment, and perhaps there was some online holiday shopping)...but I have to eat, right? So I whipped up these quesadillas, with sauerkraut from Small World Bakery, artisanal cheese and cabbage from the Public Market, and apples from Donovan Orchards. (We get a box of apples throughout the winter from Donovan's, which is about the only local fruit you can find around here in the winter. They harvest them in the fall and keep them in storage and parcel them out to the Winter Apple Club members.)

Place a tortilla in a cast-iron (or other) skillet set on low. Add a couple of spoonfuls of sauerkraut, some apple slices, and some grated cheese. (Measuring--who needs it?) Fold the tortilla in half, let warm for a minute or so. Then carefully flip to warm the other side. Cut into wedges and eat. 1 apple, approximately 3-4 ounces of cheese, and about 2/3 of a pint jar of sauerkraut made 5 quesadillas today. I originally saw this recipe in a cookbook, but I can't recall which one. It's so simple that I've been making it ever since.

Ironically, I made these quesadillas because I wanted something different than the cabbage lasagne that was leftover from the weekend. Um...they're both basically just cabbage, cheese, and some kind of fruit. Oh, well, they actually taste very different. Here's how you make the cabbage lasagne.

I've never made this the same way twice. All you need are tomatoes and/or sauce, cabbage, and cheese. I've used fresh tomatoes as well as canned tomatoes, and this time I used my own canned tomato sauce. I've used every kind of cheese imaginable; I went for a chevre/feta combo this time. (My goat cheese is from Lively Run Goat Dairy. )

Blanch the cabbage leaves until tender but not totally limp. Add some sauce to the bottom of the lasagne pan to moisten the bottom, then make layers of cabbage/cheese/sauce. Repeat until you're out of ingredients. End with a little cheese or even fake Parmesan. You could also sprinkle on some dried herbs, or maybe some roasted peppers. Hey, I just thought of the roasted peppers. I canned some this summer so those will be my next experiment! (Vegans, I'm pretty sure this would work well with soy cheese as well, or maybe your own homemade vegan cheese. The cookbook Veganomicon has some good substitutes that I've used in regular pasta lasagne.)

The cabbage lasagne recipe is from Ed Espe Brown's book Tomato Blessings and Radish Teachings, which was the first cookbook I read that encouraged me to experiment and improvise. I've been doing so ever since. (I also googled cabbage lasagne and found lots of recipes. But trust me, you really don't need a recipe for this.)

Someday I will learn to take better food photos. It's item #175 on my list of "Things to Do after I Complete the Dissertation."

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Holiday gnomes

I made these a couple of years ago for a holiday swap with other creative folks. I haven't had time to organize a swap for a couple of years now, but it is a wonderful way to support each other and helps with having a less consumeristic holiday.

I was reminded of these little cork people when this free pattern from Kristin Nicholas came across my Facebook news feed.

I love them! They could be ornaments, or finger puppets, or wine toppers (although I have to be honest and say that I don't really understand the point of wine toppers. Feel free to enlighten me).

These may be my next potato chip (can't stop at just one) project.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Gifts for your favorite bike commuter

(picture from Cyclelicious)

Check out my post at sew green for some gift ideas, including DIY panniers and trailers, why fenders are essential, a bicycle Christmas stocking, and more!


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