Cinnamon Bread

24 03 2011

Ok. A lot going on. I’m overcoming The Sickness. Though I went through an issue this morning. Does anyone else ever just get fed up with living inside of a body? We are  these enigmatic, enlightened people, but sometimes, just dealing with the complications of living in a bag of flesh can often make us forget our true self and potential. That was me this morning. And after making my boyfriend loathe me just a little bit, I was able to come out the slump.

I picked up this book last week. Beginner’s Bikram Yoga. Yoga has always been something I’ve wanted to do. I think it would help me get out of that mindset of feeling like a meat tub half the time and push my body and mind to exist at their utmost capacity. The book consists of 26 exercises, 24 of which are laughibly difficult to my angry contorted mess of a bod.

But I started! Exercise 1; mainly a breathing exercise that slowly fills your lungs to capacity then releases. After filling up all that unused lung space, I felt tipsy and giddy. Who can’t appreciate an activity that simply through stretching makes you feel like you just knocked back a glass of champagne. I know I’ll never be one of those dinks practicing yoga in the public park, praising the rising sun and turning themselves into a pretzel, but it helps every once in a while to feel more at ease with myself.

And on an even better note. Ben Weasel of my favorite punk band Screeching Weasel done went and punched two women, igniting controvery, destroying the band and pretty much cancelling the event that me and my friend Ashleigh planned on going to Memorial Day weekend in Chicago.

And we wouldn’t have it any other way. Because now we get to jet set out to Las Vegas for the Punk Rock Bowling Tournament! A weekend of bands including, Leftover Crack, The Descendents, Cock Sparrer, Stiff Little Fingers, Citizen Fish and The Dwarves. All of these bands are ones that I would probably fly to Vegas to see on their own. All of them playing together, I really can’t even wrap my mind around it right now.

So to top all of this off with the fact that I just made 2 loaves of cinnamon bread that are so good, I could eat them both in one sitting, life’s pretty rad. The dough is sweet and soft, very comforting and dessert-like. So hell yeah, everything.

Cinnamon Bread
From eat me, delicious

Makes 2 loaves

1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 cup warm water
2 1/2 tsp active dry yeast
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp lemon juice
3 1/4 cups white bread flour (plus more if needed)
1 tsp salt
1/3 cup butter

1 cup granulated sugar
1 tbsp cinnamon

In large bowl, dissolve 1 tsp of the sugar in warm water. Sprinkle in yeast; let stand until frothy, about 10 minutes. Whisk in egg, vanilla and lemon juice.

In separate bowl, whisk together 3 1/4 cups of the flour, remaining sugar and salt. Using pastry cutter, cut in butter until in pea-size pieces. Usingw ooden spoon, stir into yeast mixture to form soft dough.

Turn out onto lightly floured surface. Knead, adding as much of the remaining flour as necessary to prevent sticking, until smooth and elastic, about 8 minutes. Place in greased bowl, turning to grease all over. Cover with plastic wrap; let rise in warm place until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.

Grease two 8×4 inch loaf pans; set aside.

Punch down dough. Divide in half. On lightly floured surface, roll each half out into 14×8 inch (35×20 cm) rectangle. Brush with 2 tbsp water, leaving 1 inch border along 1 short end.

Filling: In small bowl, whisk sugar with cinnamon; sprinkle half over each rectangle. Starting at short end without border, roll up jelly roll-style; pinch seams to seal. Fit, seam sides down, into prepared pans. Cover with clean tea towel and let rise in warm place until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.

Bake in centre of 375F oven until deep brown and loaves sound hollow when tapped on bottoms, 25 to 30 minutes. Transfer to racks; let cool.

Stuffed Artichokes

23 03 2011

These artichokes were the last thing I was able to eat before my body wildy descended into being ravaged by The Flu. And that is where I sit now. Couch-ridden. Finally able to sit up enough to wield a laptop. I’m one who rarely gets sick. I know a lot of people say that, but it’s true! I never get sick. I get hungover, I have asthma sometimes, but I never get sick enough to wake up in the middle of the night, shaking, not sure whether my nightmares are real or not. But here we are.

Thankfully, I was able to stay conscious through dinner and enjoy a giant stuffed artichoke with potato and onion gratin on the side. They’re an effort to get through, but worth every bite. Every creamy, lemon-laced bite. It’s like eating a huge blooming flower. Stuffed with ricotta! How the hell could I have gotten sick after such a satisfying dinner?? Oh well, I’ll retreat back into my blankets now.

Here’s Che during his heroin binge.

Stuffed Artichokes
Adapted from Vegetarian Cooking: A Commonsense Guide

1/4 cup sliced almonds
Juice of 1 lemon
4 artichokes
2/3 cup ricotta cheese
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup breadcrumbs
1 tsp. lemon zest
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
3 tbs. flat-leaf parsley, minced
1 tb. olive oil
1 1/2 oz. butter

1. Preheat the oven to 350. And bake the almonds on a baking sheet for about 5 minutes, until lightly golden. Keep a close eye on them so they don’t burn!

2. Remove any tought outer leaves from the artichokes. Cut across the artichoke, about 1 1/4 inches from the top, then trim the stalks, leaving about 1/4 in. attached.

3. Combine the almonds, ricotta, garlic, breadcrumbs, lemon zest, Parmesan and parsley in a bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Gently separate the artichoke leaves and push the filling in between them.

4. Place the artichokes in a steamer and drizzle with the olive oil. Steam for 25-30 minutes, or until tender. Remove and cook under a broiler for about 5 minutes to brown the filling.

5. Melt the butter in a saucepan, then remove from heat and stir in the lemon juice. Arrange the artichokes on a serving platter, drizzle with the lemon butter, season well and serve.

Roasted Red Pepper & Almond Hummus

9 03 2011

I have finally found a hummus recipe I like! Anyone else experience the homemade hummus problem? You want to make it on your own soo badly. The stuff in the store is delicious but so expensive and you figure, hey, some chick peas, tahini, olive oil, bam you got a batch of homemade hummus that’ll put that packaged store crap to shame.

But it never works out that way. Usually it’s too clumpy, too garlickly, too lemon-y. Then the next week I’m plowing through the Sabra again.

Never again! After this hummus, this creamy red delight, I am going on a homemade hummus kick. Recreating my faves. Jalapeno..pine nut..gahlic. Bring it on.

Here’s my little winter window herb garden. Used some of that parsley in the hummus. Not pictured is the the poor primrose flowers I killed with sunlight. RIP little primrose. you lover of damp dark spaces. sorry for burning your face off.

Roasted Red Pepper & Almond Hummus
Adapted from Eat, Drink and Be Vegan

1/2 cup sliced almonds
2 tbs. red wine vinegar
2 tbs. extra virgin olive oil
2 cups chickpeas, drained & rinsed
1/2 cup roasted red peppers, drained
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 tsp. salt
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2-3 tsp. water
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped

In a food processor, add 1/2 cup almonds and pulse until very fine. Add vinegar, oil, chickpeas, roasted red peppers, garlic, salt and pepper. Puree until smooth, gradually adding water as desired to thin dip and scraping down sides of bowl several times. Once smooth, add parsley and puree briefly to lightly incorporate ingredients.

Lentil Bhuja Casserole

7 03 2011

I’ve taken a crappy picture. I haven’t been updating. I know this. But last night, I decided, I love food, I love these recipes so much and I love getting other people excited about food, so no matter how difficult it is, or how little free time I have, or how damn lazy I feel, I will update. Hoo rah.

This update almost didn’t happen though. And this recipe almost got chalked up to the list of my recent food failures that have gotten angrily hurled out the back sliding door and into the yard (Yogurt muffins, parsnip pancakes). If you can suffer through, and yes, you will suffer, the difficulties of making these sticky little lentil balls, I promise you that it will be well worth the looming threat of a food-induced panic attack. Anyone else get these when a recipe goes wrong? My boyfriend has stories.

After being refrigerated, they will stick together a little bit more and will hold up in the oil as they fry into crispy goodness. But don’t be disappointed if they start to fall apart a bit in the sauce. Lentil balls or lentil mush, the dish is superb. Many different layers of flavor, but doesn’t become overwhelming. Instead, it’s all mellowed out with the creamy tomato sauce. The carrots melt in your mouth and the lentils are extremely filling and satisfying.

Here’s a giant space cat.

Lentil Bhuja Casserole
Adapted from Vegetarian Cooking: A Commonsense Guide

1 1/2 cups green lentils
1 large onion
1 large all-purpose potato
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. ground coriander
1 tsp. turmeric
3/4 cups all-purpose flour
Vegetable oil, for frying
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tb. ginger, grated
1 cup tomato puree
2 cups vegetable stock
1 cup whipping cream
7 oz. green beans, trimmed
2 carrots, sliced
Pita bread, for serving

Put the lentils in a bowl, cover with cold water and leave to soak overnight. Drain well and place in a bowl.

Grate the onion and potato, place in a clean dish towel and squeeze to remove any excess moisture. Add to the lentils, along with the spices and flour. Mix well. Using dry hands (OK, this is the most aggravating thing ever. Your hands MUST be dry. Even if that means washing/drying hands after each ball. Or, you can use a tablespoon to scoop out the mixture, and just wipe it down with a towel after each one.) roll the mixture into walnut-sized balls and place on a foil-lined tray. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Heat about an inch of oil in a pan. Add the lentil balls in small batches and fry over high heat for 5 minutes, or until golden brown. Drain on paper towels.

Heat another 2 tablespoons oil in a large saucepan. Add the garlic and ginger and saute over medium heat for 1 minute, then stir in the tomato puree, stock and cream. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes.

Add the lentil balls, beans and carrots. Cover and simmer for 35 minutes. Serve hot with pita bread.