Monday, August 22, 2011

Carrot Bread

My obsession with carrot bread started during my juicing days when I found it hard to through away the carrot pulp even though there is no more juice left in it. I used the pulp and some of the juice to make my first batch of carrot bread and it's been a family favorite ever since. Now I've gotten away from just the carrot pulp and I go straight shredded carrots. This is a healthier alternative to cupcakes, especially when it can be made vegan very easily.

Carrot Bread

1 1/2 cup all purpose flour
3/4 cup quick oats
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp cloves
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 cup shredded carrots
1/2 cup grated apples
1 cup chopped nuts (optional)
1/2 cup raisins

1/4 cup oil
1 1/2 cup milk (substitute soy milk for vegan)
1 tsp vanilla

Preheat the oven at 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 9x4 loaf pan.

Combine the flour, oatmeal, salt, baking soda, baking powder, and spices together. Take about 1/4 cup of the mixture and toss the nuts and raisins to coat. This will prevent the nuts from fall to the bottom of the loaf.

Combine all of the wet ingredients together. Pour the liquids into the flour mixture and gently stir. Add the shredded carrots and grated apple. Fold until the batter is homogenous. Then lightly fold in the raisin and and nuts. Pour the batter into the loaf pan and bake for 50-60 mins or until it is toothpick dry.

I've done several variations of this bread by mixing different nuts or fruits and it is delicious everytime. Dry apricots are AMAZING with this bread if you want to keep the coloration of the bread lighter.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Golden Monkey Day

“It’s happy fake Persian-holiday day. It’s the time of the year when we celebrate (possibly) Kublai Khan (maybe) and the Golden Horde leaving Persia. Kublai’s symbol was a golden monkey (don’t quote me on that, I’ll have to Wikipedia it) and so to celebrate, we have monkey bread (speculatively.)

So to celebrate, a Vietnamese girl made something we’re not quite sure is actually anything but American.


That was the intro my boyfriend sent out in honor of our "holiday". Ever since I told him I'll cook for the holidays, there has been an exponential increase to the number of holidays that we celebrate. ie Golden Monkey Day, Arbor Day, Wow the Sky is Blue Day, and our favorite, I'm Glad We Have Clean Undies Day. In honor of the Golden Monkey Day, let there be Monkey Bread!


3-4 cans of homestyle or buttermilk biscuits
2 cups white sugar
2 tbsp cinnamon
1/2 cup butter or 1 stick of butter
1 cup dark brown sugar
1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
1/2 cup of heavy cream (optional)

Icing: 2 cups of powdered sugar and 2 tbsp of vanilla extract.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and butter the baking pan. I use a 9 inch round baking pan, but bundt cake pan or even a loaf pan would work.

In a large Ziploc bag or a brown paper bag, mix the white sugar and cinnamon together till it is thoroughly mix. Roll the bag around or shake for a minute and it should do the trick.

Take the biscuits and cut them into quarters. Roll each quarter into a ball and put it into the sugar/cinnamon mix. The ball does not have to be precise. As long as the pizza slice shape is not recognizable, then it's okay. After you have about 10-12 balls in the bag, close it up and shake until each dough piece is coated with the cinnamon/sugar mix. Take the sugared dough balls and place it into the baking pan. Sprinkle the dough with the chopped walnuts if you are using nuts. Continue till all of the dough is rolled, coated, and put into it's final resting place.

In a small sauce pan, melt the butter over med heat. Once the butter is melted, stir in the brown sugar until fully incorporated. Let this boil for a minute and then stir in the heavy cream. Remember you have to stir it to make keep it smooth. Remove the pot from the heat and add the vanilla extract. The cream will give this a more caramel taste. You can emit it if you choose to. Pour the entire mixture over the dough.

Bake this for about 30-34 minutes.

While the bread is baking, we will go ahead and make the icing. The icing is a very simple recipe. I use the same one for cinnamon buns. Take about 2 cups of powdered sugar and put it into a small zip-lock bag (this will help in the drizzling part later on). Add to it 2 tbsp on vanilla extract. Close the zip lock bag and use your fingers to incorporate the vanilla into the sugar. If the mixture is too thick, add 1/2 tbsp of water. The icing should be thin enough to easily move around, but not runny.

Once the bread is done, cut a corner off of the the icing bag and drizzle it all over the bread. The heat will melt the icing, but it will set as the bread cools. Let the bread cool for 20 minutes and serve (hopefully with a glass of milk)!

Once it is done, drizzle the icing on top of the monkey bread and the icing will set as the bread cools.


Monday, July 11, 2011

Stuffed Summer Squash

It's been too long since I've been back here, but it doesn't mean that I have stop cooking. Since the last post till now, I've moved and it's actually given more opportunities to create food that I enjoy eating as well as Jacob, my better half.

One of the few rituals we have at home is that at the end of the week, we try to clean out the fridge by using the leftovers from the week to create new dishes. This week, the fridge consisted of chipotle tomato sauce from the enchiladas, rice, some mushrooms, and 4 calabash squash that we never got to. This gave birth to stuffed summer squash.

After washing and trimming the ends off of the squash, they were cut in half length wise and cored. To core, I used the tip of the knife to score around the seeds, being very careful not to cut through the squash. Using a spoon, I scooped out the seeds and set aside. The squash halves were lined face up in a baking pan, ready for it's fate!

Now it is time to get started on the stuffing! In a skillet, I heated olive oil over medium high heat. To the pot, I added 1/2 of small onion, chopped, along with 4 garlic cloves, chopped as well. Once the onions were slightly translucent I added half of the squash innards that were removed earlier and about 3 chopped baby bellos (about 3/4 of a cup). Seasoning for this was very simple: salt, pepper, and a pinch of thyme (mushrooms without thyme is blasphemous!).

I checked the fridge again at this point and realized that there were some mustard greens hanging out next to the cilantro. A little green never hurt anything (maybe chocolate cake, but who said I won't find a way to change that either). I took chopped up 3 leaves and let them join the party. At this point I went ahead and added about 1 1/2 cup of tumeric rice that we failed to finish during the week.

Once everything was combine, I scooped the mixture into the cavities that once held the seeds in the squash. Not to toot my own horn, but there was just enough filling for the squash!

The sauce was the tricky part for me. I didn't have enough of the enchilada sauce to cover the squash, but I didn't want to have to duplicate the entire sauce either so I winged it. The original enchilada had tomatoes, onions, cilantro, chipotle, yogurt, and lime juice so there were already a lot of flavors going on.

As with the filling, I went ahead and started a skillet with chopped onions. To that I added chopped tomatoes, seeds and all, and then seasoned with salt and pepper. Once the tomatoes are saucey, I added enchilada sauce. One thing that I got into the habit of doing lately is sneaking an extra veggie into each dish. For this one, I took a jumbo radish, diced it, and plopped it into the sauce. If you never had cooked radish before, it is AMAZING. The spiciness is complete replaced by a tangy sweetness.

The stuffed squash halves are then smothered in this tomato sauce, covered, and baked in a 350 degrees oven for 45 mins or until the squash are fork tender.

I served this with some boston lettuce and semolina crisp.

Squash are so versatile that you can do so much with it. A variation I would do on this dish would probably do a chicken or turkey stuffing instead of just veggies. If so, I would serve it with a side of rice. OR we can change the sauce up a bit and add a hint of curry. That would do a whole 180 on the flavor profile. I kinda dig this one.

Main photography courtesy of Jacob Fakheri