Giada’s Almond Pancakes

Recipe here.

Made these for Boy’s birthday breakfast.  Pray for me; I officially have two teenagers in the house!

These were absolutely delicious.  They are considerably sweeter than most pancakes recipes (many recipes don’t even contain any sugar,) and so, consequently needed MUCH less syrup over the top of them, but the almond flavor was outstanding and we will DEFINITELY be making these again.

Wondering what to do with the remaining mascarpone (mine came in an 8 oz container) and the remaining almond paste (ditto – 8 oz container?)  You can freeze them both (chop/crumble the almond paste first) for a future batch…or you can buy some puff pastry and sliced almonds and make these.  You’ll have just enough almond paste.  Then, the other 4 ounces of mascarpone?  Try this!

Pork Loin Chops with Cinnamon Apples, Classic Potato Pancakes, Spicy Green Beans with Garlic Oil and Preserved Lemon

Pork Chops and Apples recipe here.

Potato Pancakes recipe here (we served them with sour cream and they were fantastic!)

For the green beans, I was inspired by this recipe (which I’ve made before) and another one with preserved lemon in Madhur Jaffrey’s awesome World Vegetarian cookbook and combined them and adapted them to make my own, which was quite delicious.  Ideally, the beans would be a little more browned that the ones in my photo, but these were still good.

Spicy Green Beans with with Garlic Oil and Preserved Lemon

1 pound fresh green beans, washed and cut into 1 1/2 to 2 inch long pieces

2 or 3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced (think Paul Sorvino in Goodfellas)

2 Tbsp olive oil

1 wedge of preserved lemon (Use the rind only; remove and discard the pulp), rinsed well and finely chopped

(If you don’t want to make your own, you can buy preserved/Moroccan lemons at a gourmet store.  They are VERY simple and inexpensive to make, but they do have to sit for a while.)

a sprinkle of red pepper flakes, to taste (start with 1/4 tsp.)

kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Blanch green beans by covering them with cold water in a medium saucepan.  When they come to a boil, drain them and soak them in ice water until they are cool.  Drain them again and set them aside.

Heat the oil in a large saute pan over medium-high heat until hot but not smoking.  Add the garlic and cook, stirring constantly, until the garlic is lightly golden-toasted, but not brown.  Quickly remove and discard the garlic.

Add the green beans to the pan and cook, stirring only once or twice, until the beans are slightly softened and lightly browned in spots, but not mushy.  You’ll need to watch them carefully, since they won’t brown if you stir them too much, but if you don’t toss/stir them enough, they’ll scorch or stick to the bottom of the pan.

When the beans have reached your desired doneness, sprinkle them with salt and pepper, add the chili flakes and lemon and stir to coat evenly.  Remove from heat and serve.

Adobo Grilled Chicken, Black Bean & Quinoa Salad and a Crunchy Roasted Corn repeat

YUM!  This was SUCH a delicious meal.  I had planned on only making the black bean & quinoa salad and grilled chicken, but The Boy was with me at the supermarket and saw corn on the cob and requested this corn, which he loves.  It sort “went with” the meal, so I acquiesced.

Black bean and quinoa salad recipe here.  This recipe is delicious, but makes a ton, but it also keeps in the fridge fairly well for a day or two and makes a great lunch the next day.  If you’re not a fan of leftovers and you’re not feeding a crowd, I’d recommend making a half-batch.  It was quite good and pretty simple.

The corn recipe, basically, is here, but I used Penzey’s Arizona Dreaming for the seasoning this time.  A universal hit, every time.  Have served it for company and always have people ask for the recipe.  Boy, in particular, LOVES this stuff.

The chicken is just boneless, skinless thighs sprinkled liberally with this fantastic Adobo seasoning mixture (scroll down) and then grilled.  I really love this spice blend and am planning to use it more in the future.  It’s great on chicken that you’re planning to put in any kind of Mexican dish (enchiladas, tostadas, fajitas, etc.)  Achiote/annatto can be a little bit hard to find, but try a Latin market (or the Latin aisle of a large supermarket.)  If you’re in Austin, Central Market has whole annatto seeds (in their bulk section) that can be ground in your spice-dedicated grinder.

What?  You don’t have one of those?!!?!  $20 can fix that.  You NEED one.  How else can you make garam masala?

*This meal is gluten-free, if you use gluten-free breadcrumbs.

Thai Red Curry with Vegetables (and tofu and/or chicken)

Tofu version

Chicken version

This recipe (which can be found here) was delicious and pretty easy and was also VERY easily adaptable (as outlined in the recipe) to serve both carnivores AND vegetarians.  Bonus!  This was my first foray into Thai curries (although we LOVE Indian ones) and we all enjoyed it a lot.  I used bottled red Thai curry paste, but am going to try to make my own next time.  Luckily, most of the ingredients (chiles, galangal, lemongrass, etc.) are pretty easy to find in my gourmet-friendly city and I am lucky enough to have my own Thai lime tree, so can get VERY fresh leaves easily.  This will be a definite future repeat.

*This recipe is gluten free, if you use gluten free tamari soy sauce.

(see photo)

Mise en place for curry

Polenta with Tex-Mex Chili

Another recipe from Madhur Jaffrey’s World Vegetarian book.

I can’t find a link to this recipe online, but it’s basically just a vegetarian chili with kidney beans (I used borlotti, which are more pinto-ish, because I already had some soaked and cooked,) served over polenta which has a bit of butter and parmesan cheese added to it.  Very yummy dish, but I do feel a little embarassed, as a Texan, to call this “Tex-Mex Chili.”  I mean, really…there were no Fritos or onions or grated orange cheese over the top of it.  And, HELLO???  There was NO MEAT!  And there were LENTILS in it!!!  It was good, but this really should be called polenta topped with bean stew or something.  I will make this again (with the polenta subbing for the Fritos, it’s kind of an upscale Frito pie,) but will probably adapt my own vegetarian chili recipe to use more Tex-Mex spices and maybe add some textured vegetable protein, to at least make you FEEL like there could be meat in it.  I like the combo of polenta and chili, though.  Creamy and soft, mixed with warm and spicy.

Anatolian Red Lentil Stew

This recipe is, again, from Madhur Jaffrey’s wonderful World Vegetarian book.

The recipe can be found, more or less, here, but you really should just buy the book to get the more comprehensible version.

This was really tasty.  We only had a tiny bit left over for Girl’s lunch the next door.  If dried mint is really hard to find (as it was for me,) feel free to use fresh spearmint (not peppermint,) but chop it finely and use less than the recipe calls for (maybe half?)  I buy my dried mint (which can also be used in this salad) from Penzey’s.

Bean Curd (tofu) vegeburgers

Another recipe from Madhur Jaffrey’s World Vegetarian book (I’ve pretty much cooked exclusively from this book this week.)

I can’t find a link to this recipe online anywhere, but you basically crumble a block of tofu, then finely chop some carrot, scallion, shiitake mushrooms, celery, and a bit of hot green chiles (which we left out.)  Saute the veggies in a little oil, then combine them with the crumbled tofu, a little soy sauce, some bread crumbs, salt, pepper, chopped cilantro and an egg.  Form this mixture into patties (they’ll be fragile,) then dredge them in a little more breadcrumbs and pan-fry them.  Cook for 3 – 4 minutes per side, turning them VERY carefully, or they will TOTALLY self-destruct.

Girl LOVED these and said that any other veggie burger (we’ve used a lot of the frozen pre-made ones in the past) pales by comparison.  I doubt she’ll ever go back to eating those after having these.  I hope that these will freeze well, so that she can occasionally pack one of these in her lunch.

If there is such a thing as gluten-free breadcrumbs (I bet there is) and you use wheat-free soy sauce, these would be gluten free.

Nigerian Kidney Bean Stew with Peanut Sauce and cornbread

from Madhur Jaffrey’s fantastic book, World Vegetarian

Recipe here, but if you have any interest in vegetarian cooking at all, you should just go ahead and buy this book.  It’s outstanding.

I topped the stew with a little bit of chopped peanuts, since I had some on hand, leftover from our last spring roll night.  The cornbread is a basic Southern cornbread recipe, but with some grated carrot added in and sesame seeds sprinkled over the top before baking.  Tasty.

Rava Dosas with Potato Chickpea Masala

Recipe here.*

Yum, yum, yummity yum yum yum.

This is the first thing that I’ve made in a while (other than spring rolls) that the whole family has agreed upon.  Usually, I’ll make a vegetarian dish that Boy won’t enjoy because it isn’t satisfying enough for him, or I’ll make a meat dish and two hearty side dishes, hoping that Girl can make a meal out of just the sides, and then she won’t feel like she’s really eaten a “meal,” but rather just snacked on sides.

This is spicy and warm and filling enough to be satisfying for all but the most stalwart carnivores and is definitely healthy and wholesome enough to satisfy any vegetarian.  This definitely “feels” like a main course.

I, of course, made a few VERY slight modifications to the original recipe:

I used russet potatoes because I couldn’t find organic Yukon Golds and didn’t want to use “pesticide” potatoes, but I discovered that russets take a bit more time and liquid to cook than gold potatoes, so be aware of that if you decide to change up your potatoes, too.

I added another cup of chickpeas that I had leftover, just to bulk up the protein quotient for Vegetarian Girl.

I added just a bit of garam masala when I added the curry-ginger-garlic mixture, just to add a bit more flavor and some brightness (a few of the epicurious reviewers mentioned that the masala was a little bland.)

I also sauteed the onions in the pan BEFORE adding the curry-ginger-garlic mixture because I am personally not wild about onions that are not thoroughly cooked.  The only raw onions that I can tolerate are red onions or green ones; white or yellow ones must be thoroughly cooked and softened for me.

I also added a bit more water to the dosa batter, because several epicurious reviewers had mentioned that the batter, as specified, was a bit too thick.  I agree and think the extra water is crucial.  Getting the hang of making the dosas is a little bit tricky (I had to throw the first one away,) but keep experimenting (make another batch of batter, if you need to,) and you’ll get it.  I think if I hadn’t needed to throw the first one away, and if I hadn’t added extra water, then the batter probably would have made four dosas, but I ended up with 5 (made 6 and threw one away.

* This recipe is originally from November 2009 Gourmet magazine.  There is a new issue out called Gourmet Quick Kitchen that has recently reprinted it.

Ginger Creme Brulee

Recipe here.

YUM!  I made this as part of a Tropical-themed dinner to be served while viewing the PBS broadcast of “South Pacific,” which I DVR’d a couple of weeks ago.

I made “Younger Than Spring (time) Rolls”  and this tropical dessert.  I love having a “theme” when planning a menu.  It’s corny, but it’s just so fun!

I’ve attempted a ginger creme brulee before, but like the flavor of the recipe better, and it was easier to prepare.  The sliced mango on top was a delicious touch, and I highly recommend not omitting it, if you can get your hands on a perfectly ripe one.