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Archive for March, 2009

Donut Fries

Yeah, this was exactly what I needed to see this morning – I was already craving sweets, and now Donut Fries have been brought into my consciousness.   Thank god I can’t get them here.  Oatmeal it is!

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Seriously, though – how good do those look?  I’m trying to stay sane with my food choices, but between this and finally having the zombie recipe for my very own, I’m having a tough time.  Sigh.

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Dreaming of Zombies

I have a bit of an obsession with filled dumplings – I blame the delicious cheese zombies of my youth.  In the middle schools and high schools of the Bay Area, kids are raised on hot, buttery rolls filled with melted Velveeta – my mouth waters just thinking about them.  Next time I’m home I’ll have to bribe my mom to whip some up.  Mmm, zombies.  Must. Eat. Brains.  Or. Cheese. Filled. Bread.

The healthier substitution to fulfill my zombie cravings are bierocks (recipe adapted from Cooking Light).  They are meat-filled dumplings filled with peppery cabbage and turkey – easy (and very affordable) to make, they freeze perfectly and are a great comfort food.  I always make a big batch so we’ll have lots of easy, grab-on-the-way-out-the-door lunches in the freezer.

Bierocks (makes 24 dumplings)

For the dough:

1/2 cup sugar
4 1/2 tsp yeast (2 envelopes)
1 cup warm water
1 cup milk (I only had soymilk this time and it worked great)
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 tsp salt
4 eggs, lightly beaten
~7 1/2 cups flour (white whole wheat if you’ve got it)

For the filling:

1 small onion, diced (1/2 cup)
1 lb ground turkey
1/2 small head of green cabbage, finely shredded (about 4c)
1 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 tsp salt

First, prepare the dough – dissolve the yeast and sugar in the warm water and let stand until it starts to bubble a little.  Add the milk, oil, salt and eggs and mix well.  Add 6 1/2 cups flour and stir it in until a dough forms.  It will be a little sticky, but turn it out onto your floured surface and knead it until it’s smooth and elastic.  Add more flour by the Tbsp as necessary – I usually get to around 7 cups to make a nice moist dough, not sticky but not dry.  Place the dough in a large bowl and cover.  Let the dough rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.

While you’re waiting for that, cook the turkey and onion in a large nonstick pan until the turkey is browned.  Add the cabbage and cook until it’s wilted, about 8 minutes.  Add the salt and pepper and remove from heat.  Chill this mixture until you’re ready to assemble the dumplings.

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Your dough will make about 24 dumplings, so start by dividing the dough in quarters.  Cut each quarter into 6 equal pieces, then roll each piece out to a circle about 5-inches in diameter.  Add about 1/4 cup of your turkey filling to the center of each dumpling, then pinch the circle together.   If you end up with extra dough, just form it into rolls and bake them off for dinner.

Place your bierocks (seam side down) on ungreased baking sheets about 2″ apart, cover and let rise 20 minutes in a warm place (now would be a good time to preheat the oven to 375°).

doughBake for 14 minutes, or until golden brown and screaming at you to dig right in.

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YUM!  Didn’t think I was going to make it to the end of this post without grabbing one of these out of the fridge and nuking it for breakfast – oh well.  They’re great – the pepper gives them a little bite to balance out the sweet dough, and if I can keep my hands off of them, we’ll have lunches for weeks to come.

Inside pic courtesy of Cooking Light (my dough was softer than this – I adapted their recipe to have less flour, so you can choose which pic is most appealing!):

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No Beets?

Mmm, tastes like dirt.

We’ve started.  Yes!!!  I have my first beginnings of a vegetable garden in my own home – it might be the first time that I truly feel like a homeowner, knowing that all the love and care I put into this place is going to turn it into something I can enjoy for years to come.

My family and the Obamas have this in common, but a glaring difference is that they will have some kind of a no-beet ordinance in place – the ruby jewels are not welcome at the White House.  Maybe if I could sit Barack down and force feed him some of this delicious (and striking) risotto, he’d change his tune.  Jen, this is your response for more recipes, and I know how you’re a beet lover just like our president!  Try it and see if it’s the answer, will ya?

This recipe, as it came together, made me think of my uncle Ray Ray, who introduced me to both beets and risotto, separately.  And just because this seems like the perfect excuse to show one of my favorite wedding pictures courtesy of Melissa McClure, here’s Ray Ray marrying us off!

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Okay fine, back to the beets.

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Beet and Beet Green Risotto
You can use any greens in this risotto, but it’s such a treat to be able to use the “whole beet” in all its glory.  Be sure to use a green with some bitterness, as it serves to balance out the sweetness of the beets and the creaminess of the risotto.

2 Tbsp butter
1/2 of a medium onion, diced (about 1/2 cup)
1 leek, white and light green parts only, quartered and diced (about 1/2 cup)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 bunch beets (mine had three medium sized beets) with greens attached
1 1/2 cups arborio rice
about 5 cups chicken broth
hard cheese (I had a super yummy Romano sitting around)

First, prepare your beets – sever the greens at the base of the beet and set the fruit aside.  Chop the stems into bite-sized pieces and reserve for another use (I’m going to use mine in a stir-fry later this week).  Chop the leaves in bite-sized pieces and wash and dry them well.  Turn your attention to the beets now, washing the dirt off and peeling them.  I used a small vegetable peeler, and was getting the coolest red rainbows!

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Dice the beets into 1/2″ pieces.  In a small saucepan, heat the chicken stock and leave it on low heat on the stove.

In a large heavy saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat.  Add the onion, leeks, garlic and saute a couple of minutes.  Add the beets and cover the pan, allowing the vegetables to steam a bit.  After 5-10 minutes, the onion will be soft and you can add the rice.  Saute the rice for about a minute, then start gradually adding chicken broth 1/2 cup at a time.  Stir the mixture occasionally until the broth gets absorbed by the rice, then add another 1/2 cup.  Continue like this until your beets are softened and the rice becomes soft and creamy.

Take the risotto off the heat and add your cheese – I left the measurements off the cheese, because it’s really all in your preference.  I grated about 4 Tbsp of romano and mixed it into the risotto, and it was just cheesy enough to add a little bite, but didn’t overwhelm the yummy dirty beet flavor. Try to save a little cheese to grate on top – I forgot, and missed having some pretty white on top of this strikingly red dish.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

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And here’s what my bowl looked like 10 minutes later:

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Mmm, ready for seconds.  I hope it’s not too late to sow some of these seeds so we can enjoy this straight out of the garden.

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Detox

Back from our honeymoon in windy Oahu!  The problem with going on a vacation when you live in San Diego is that the weather is often better where you came from – I know, I’ve got problems, huh?  The upside is that the wind and rain forced us to do lots of relaxing, so we had a sleep/eat/drive/eat/sleep kind of a trip – lots of plate lunches from shrimp trucks and delicious shaved ice with ice cream on the bottom and dim sum – ono, brah.

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Yum.  It’s definitely time to detox from all the vacation food, so I ran straight out to the produce store yesterday and stocked up on all things vitamin-rich.  The first thing I made was something I’ve been craving – one of our stand-bys that’s simple and comforting but also spicy and healthy.

I’m pretty sure I got this from a Bon Appetit at some point, but now it’s on an old curry-streaked tattered recipe card with no indication of its source.

Lentils and Butternut Squash with Walnuts

2 lbs butternut squash (1 medium), peeled, seeded and diced in 1″ cubes
2 shallots, finely chopped
1 Tbsp olive oil
3 tsp curry powder
1/3 to 1/2 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped (we didn’t have any this time so I used pecans – same same)
1 1/2 cup lentils
Garnish: you can use chopped cilantro, lime juice, yogurt or a mixture of any!  Or just pop it plain.

Toss the squash, shallots, oil and curry powder in an ovenproof baking pan and bake at 425° for about 15 minutes.

In the meantime, cook lentils in a pan of boiling water until tender, about 20 minutes.  Drain and set aside.

Remove the squash from the oven and sprinkle nuts over the top.  Bake 10 minutes more or until the squash is tender.  Combine with lentils and garnish as desired.

Chris and I cooked this one together, and he was stoked to have a cooking lesson, as evidenced by this review:

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