Batter Licker

July 28, 2011

easy olallieberry port crumble

Mark Twain might be well-known for his witticisms, but he wasn’t joking when he said that the coldest winter he ever spent was a summer in San Francisco. While the rest of the country is melting, I have been shivering through city streets after sundown. But when the afternoons are confusingly warm and sunny, I still manage to stock up on summer produce; it’s just that a post-dinner dessert of berries with yogurt or ice cream no longer sounds very appealing when I need to bundle up in a blanket just to stay comfortable in my apartment.

After picking up some olallieberries at the farmers market on a deceptively beautiful day, I found myself looking for an easy dessert that would give me an excuse to use my oven and warm up the room that chilly evening. Having not tried olallieberries previously, I found this particular basketful quite tart. Being a bit too exhausted from the work day to fuss with them too much, I did what any reasonable person would have done: (more…)

June 29, 2011

whole wheat pearl couscous salad with pistachio-broccoli pesto

When I first discovered Bob Red Mill’s new line of whole wheat pearl couscous at the BlogHer Food Conference in Atlanta, I was instantly hooked by the nutty flavor. I even smuggled a few sample bags back to San Francisco, and couldn’t wait to play around with the wholesome, round bites of pasta. Except that I actually did wait quite a bit – two entire months – before finding the perfect opportunity to use these precious samples.

SAM_5440-250 SAM_5446-250

The opportunity came in the form of an orzo salad recipe I came across while flipping through Heidi Swanson’s superb cookbook, Super Natural Every Day). I decided to substitute the whole wheat pearl couscous for the orzo to add some wholesomeness while keeping the bite of a small, salad-friendly pasta.

But the combination of a broccoli pesto with broccoli florets, avocado and crunchy nuts were what initially drew me to the recipe. I’ve been known to easily polish off several cups of broccoli – raw, steamed, sauteed, or roasted. Yet I had never tried a broccoli pesto. Clearly, the time was nigh.
(more…)

February 18, 2011

toasted steel-cut oatmeal with dried cherries, apricots and walnuts

Valentine’s Day is supposed to be a day to celebrate love. But showing loved ones you care needn’t mean showering them with chocolate, roses, and other pink and red items. (Not that I’d object to any of those, so long as those chocolate truffles aren’t Walgreens-quality.) And Valentine’s Day shouldn’t be the only day you tell the loved ones in your life – from family to friends to fiancĂ©es – how much you treasure them.

To me, the most meaningful way to show your appreciation is through little gestures or actions throughout each day. A kiss on the forehead of your still-sleeping significant other on your way out the door to work; a phone call to your grandmother when you know winter weather is keeping her unbearably housebound; bringing Blue Bottle coffee to a friend who is stuck at work on a gorgeous Saturday morning. And taking the time to make steel-cut oatmeal for anyone, even just yourself, for breakfast.

SAM_4062-250 SAM_4064-250
SAM_4067-250 SAM_4073-250
SAM_4086-250 SAM_4093-250

Jay’s uncle Andy first introduced us to steel-cut oatmeal a couple years ago when we visited Chicago for Jay’s cousin’s bar mitzvah. When Andy heated up the pan to prepare the oatmeal, I had no idea that the breakfast in store for me would be nothing like the gloppy, gluey oatmeal I had grown up with. Rather, these oats had a delightful, slightly chewy texture, and were comfortingly warm and filling on that particularly cold, gray and rainy morning. Yes, the steel-cut oats took a longer time to cook, but the wait was entirely worth it.

While I have enjoyed many bowls since then, it wasn’t until last Spring, when I purchased Kim Boyce’s incredible cookbook on whole grain baking, that I ever thought to toast the oats before submerging them in water. I can’t imagine why I never thought to try this, as I’ve toasted everything else from nuts and spices to rice and farro. But I can now say that if you’re taking the time to make steel-cut oatmeal in the first place, you absolutely must take the couple extra minutes to pre-toast the oat grains. Like many other toasted foods, it lends such a wonderfully nutty, condensed flavor to the oatmeal that you might just eat it without adornments.

(more…)

January 23, 2011

mixed greens, chopped peanuts, farro and fruit salad with spicy banana-cilantro dressing

This salad has it all: protein and healthy fats from peanuts, fiber and protein from farro, various other nutrients from fresh mixed greens and fresh or dried fruit, and a whole lot of flavor from these healthy ingredients and the spicy-sweet dressing. And yes, I did put farro, the mother of all whole grains with a nuttier flavor and chewier texture than rice, in a salad.

I’ve praised the merits of farro before in a risotto-style dish, but this time around, you can blame my trip to Italy three years ago, where we stopped at a locals-only cafe that had an entire menu dedicated to salads that contained a large scoop of rice. While rice isn’t exactly what carb-avoiding salad-eaters are going for, it did add a great, chewy texture and some heartiness to salads that might otherwise leave you yearning for a carbalicious snack just a couple hours later. As a whole grain full of protein and fiber, farro achieves a longer-term fullness and isn’t exactly the same type of refined, carbohydrate-heavy grain as the white rice we’re now told to avoid.

SAM_3839-250 SAM_3840-250

I love the contrasting textures in this salad – soft crunch from the greens, a hard crunch from the peanuts, chewiness from the farro, and (if you take my tip to not use dried sour cherries, which weren’t tangy enough to stand up to the spicy sweetness of the dressing, and to use tangerines, tangelos, or even grapefruit instead) the juicy explosion from fresh citrus.

The flavors were all incorporated to accommodate the banana, jalapeno, and cilantro flavors from the dressing. Peanuts pair exceedingly well with bananas, but also with the Thai-inspired cilantro, jalapeno, and ginger flavors. Nutty farro provides some savory, subdued relief from the sweetness of the banana and the spiciness of the jalapeno, and incorporating some purple lettuces provides a great bitter contrast to the banana’s sweetness. If you use a tangy, fresh citrus fruit, it will cut the creamy sweetness of the banana nicely. (more…)

October 19, 2010

farrotto with mushrooms, chard, garlic, and ginger

Cold weather is creeping back into San Francisco after a glorious month and a half of summer weather. To me, that means it’s time for warm, comforting dishes like risotto.

I especially love risotto because it tastes naughtier than it is. Although it looks and tastes incredibly creamy, risotto doesn’t contain any cream. Usually, the only high-fat ingredient I add is cheese, and even then, I don’t add much. Plus, without anyone noticing (ahem, Jay!), I can almost double the recipe’s output by adding tons of vegetables. As far as I see it, the only downside of risotto is the constant stirring.

But constant stirring is a double black diamond, super steep downside, probably covered with ice and moguls. It’s no gentle, downward sloping bunny hill. There’s no denying it: standing in your kitchen for 35+ minutes, stirring every minute or so, then adding broth every few minutes is downright laborious. And incredibly boring. It often makes me wish my rice cooker had a risotto-cooking mode.

SAM_1525-250 SAM_1538-250
SAM_1542-250 SAM_1560-250

Enter my knight in shining armor: farro. (more…)

« Newer PostsOlder Posts »

Powered by WordPress